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02 January 2009 @ 05:53 pm
First Post of the Year and the Annual "First Lines" Meme  
Happy 2009! I join with so many others in wishing you all a better year than the last one.

Christmas Update

We had a small Christmas here in Indiana with my father and my step-sister and her family over for dinner. We all had a wonderful time.

My best gift was that ladyat moved much of her sewing into a closeted corner of the attic, granting me - Railroad Right-of-way! Woohoo! It means I have to re-do the measurements and start making new plans, but the potential for some benchwork to begin by this spring is definitely there. Take heed, musicmutt, chirosinger, et al!

On the 26th we jaunted to Atlanta for the weekend to see the kids. ladyat was getting very down in the dumps earlier in the month because this year is the year we hosted Thanksgiving and the kids would spend Christmas with their other families. However, only two of the kids could come up at Thanksgiving due to financial and time reasons, and one of those who could not make it was going to make it to Atlanta for Christmas but we wouldn't be there.

I managed to find us some decent fares for the trip and booked us tickets for after Christmas, since I was on call before and during and could not leave Internet range. Since Elder Grandson was going to be at his father's for Christmas Day, they weren't opening presents until Saturday anyway, so it worked out perfectly. We stayed with the family of Younger Grandson, traveling to Elder Grandson's for Saturday's feasting and having everyone meet us on Sunday for a trip to Big Pie in the Sky for pizza.

The trip was mostly uneventful. The new Indianapolis Airport terminal is teh bomb for spending delay time - we had to wait some 3 hours for our flight to leave due to very nasty fog but were very comfortable during that time. On the return, it should be noted that the baggage handling seems to be teh suxxors, taking close to 45 minutes for bags to appear after landing. One hopes this is just due to inexperience with the new layout and some bugs in the system, otherwise I'll think we're landing in Denver instead of Indianapolis.

We get another chance to test the system next week as we head to GAFilk, though we fly out of Cincinnati for our trip to the UK filk con in February.

Pre-New Year's

The last week prior to New Year's was pretty cruddy - I had actually taken vacation time during the HP shutdown instead of working as I usually do. We had a very nasty hot site the previous week but were able to get it under control, and right at Christmas another site started having some trouble. We cleared the problems, gathered what data we could, and figured that everyone could wait until after the holidays since a workaround existed.

Well, no, I guess not. An action plan had been sent to the customer on the 26th, on the 30th (yes, that's right, the 3rd working day later) all hell broke loose as it was declared by the local sales manager that this was unacceptable and we needed to consider this critical and work it accordingly. Instead of calling the on-call engineer, they called me directly since I was "so helpful" during the previous escalation. Therefore, instead of having a nice, leisurely week off, I had two days of odoriferous political BS to deal with.

The customer was unhappy that we didn't collect data instead of clearing the problem during holiday traffic (huh? they wanted to keep losing money while we fiddled with it?). The action plan in place, involving collecting a complete set of information if the problem occurred on a non-critical-traffic period, wasn't good enough. They wanted a root cause right away - something, by the way, that we are contracted to be allowed 60 days to provide. Meanwhile, they were stopping all installations (and, more importantly, payments). What were we going to do about it?

Well, nothing. We had very good production reasons for the troubleshooting path we followed previously. The fact that the problem has not recurred even on a tiny, intermittent basis (the problem becomes critical when the time interval degrades from a few hours to a few seconds) means we cannot collect any new data. That lack of recurrence, combined with the data we were able to gather, means we can reasonably infer that it was most likely something OUTSIDE OUR PLATFORM THAT WAS FIXED WITHOUT OUR BEING TOLD.

By the morning of New Year's Eve a new plan was in place, essentially the exact same as the old one only with some additional activity to monitor for the problem without waiting for customers to report it. I put in a day writing a script to automate the monitoring, to make it easier on the local guy doing the checkup every few hours. I emailed everyone who was so adamant we needed to work this issue 24 hours a day. I then heard pretty much NOTHING, as they had all ... gone home for the holiday.

Since then, very little - no recurrence of the problem, no desire to install the monitoring script until next week, whatever. The guy who is on call this weekend knows the product line very well, so if something happens he'll know what to do without me being involved. I'll start stressing again on Monday.

New Year's

Instead of the knock-down drag-out bash we always threw in Atlanta (well, OK, it became more of a sit-down drag-out-the-games thing in later years), we just had my father and stepfather both over for finger food and some Hoof 'n' Mouth. We all figured we'd be wiped by the time midnight came around, but it was 2 am before we finished the last hand and wandered to our respective beds. We chided my stepfather a lot about his somewhat mythical girlfriend. We keep inviting her over along with him, but she hasn't made it yet (though ladyat has talked to her. Well, Lou says it was her. We aren't convinced.) She isn't sure how we'll react to her, though we've tried to let her know that we just want to see Lou happy - it will be 8 years this year since my mom died.

Yesterday we lazed around and I resisted the temptation to go out and pick up a few things, ostensibly to follow the old folklore that you should not spend any money on New Year's Day in order to avoid the entire year being one of spend, spend, spend. I'm not always in line with these beliefs, but we can use all the help we can get.

Today was spent taking down the tree and the other decorations around the house. We'll get them put away as the weekend goes on, but for now all the outside and the vast proportion of the inside stuff is down. I bought more boxes (today, not yesterday) to make things more organized and more easily hauled into and from the attic above my office.

Tomorrow the two of us are going to have a little getaway into downtown Indianapolis. The Colts game starts before the end of the Pacers home game, and we decided we wanted to stay in Indy to watch it. We didn't want to drive home afterward, so I forked out some Priority Club points and we have a nice king-sized bed in a train car at the Crowne Plaza which occupies the refurbished Union Station. Now I just have to hope ladyat can get over her nasty cold...

Meme as usual is the first line of the first post of every month. As always, memes are excluded, as are purely introductory clauses. A title may be included if the first line completed a sentence. These rules may or may not be followed. Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited by law common sense.

Meme Results:

Happy 2008 to all and sundry! Got back from the UK Filk Con safely, though taking a connecting flight is much more tiring than the direct flight used to be. The HP internal learning center (called "Grow@HP") runs you through a search screen to find required courses. Things are not moving in re: the Atlanta house. I have come to the conclusion that the Service Workers' Union is dealing with employment loss in the state of Indiana by having their members call registered voters. We are expecting an offer on the house this afternoon. InConJunction was a very nice and low-key convention. Traveled to Valparaiso to see msminlr's daughter well and truly nuptialized. Seven years ago a small group of people transformed the direction and destroyed the confidence of an entire nation. With the various YouTube clips of hearings on potential financial crises and reports of investigations that were cut off circulating, the word I hear most often is "angry". I Didn't Vote Today Because I voted last Thursday. We had a little incident with the Primal Element on our front porch last night.
 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
 
 
 
evilboyrobin on January 3rd, 2009 02:07 am (UTC)
I miss the New Years Eve parties and the banging of the pots and pans :-)
Graham Leathersmusicmutt on January 3rd, 2009 02:50 am (UTC)
Great to hear about the benchwork. Mine is underway and my indulgent father gave me an Empire Builder DCC booster, throttle and power supply for Christmas. I should have at least some track in and running by April. Can't wait to get going on yours. :-)
Jim: bassclarinetpoltr1 on January 3rd, 2009 03:25 am (UTC)
Hey! I just started a new job in Indy. I'm in town during the week. Can we get together soon?