Category Archives: Work

Email is not foolproof

The USAF continues to rely far too much on email for communication, and continues to trust that sending an email is the perfect all-encompassing method of disseminating info with no possibility of failure.

Many years ago, when I was in the Army on this same Air Force base, a zoomie LT thought that a lack of getting a “reply receipt” from an email she sent was insubordinate and got very angry that I was, “deleting without reading” her emails. Of course, I was doing no such thing; Outlook at the time didn’t send a return receipt for previewing a message, and that’s how I read her missives (which didn’t apply to me in the Army anyway, but so much for logic).

Fast forward to 2011. The refrigerator is down the hall from my office, and I keep my sodas there. The fridge is in a common area, and there is a bulletin board right next to it. Imagine my surprise when my sodas were thrown away today. A sane person would have put the sodas aside, if cleaning out the fridge. They aren’t likely to spoil, after all. When I inquired, I was told that “everyone” was informed about the coming fridge purge, so wah (or something equivalent).

Obviously, I was not informed. The building manager sends an email to the squadron secretary, who sends it to everyone in the squadron. I am not in the squadron, but I had myself added to the squadron email list last year due to the necessity to stay abreast of issues in this building, and there is no email list for residents of the building. I apparently got booted out of the squadron email list sometime in the past (who knows how long ago, as I rarely care about USAF business and maybe I was just relieved at the lack of spam I didn’t care about). So, no notice for me, but complete notification to everyone in the building in the mind of the manager.

So…am I a crazy person for thinking, in addition to an email, a sign or note or post-it on the fridge or near it would have been a normal thing to do? I’m simple, apparently.

Work work work work

This is just crazy – the past three days, I’ve been working all day long. This is just unacceptable; my boss is crazy to think I can keep up this kind of pace. Next he’ll expect me to accurately report my work hours.

Seriously, I’ve installed Red Hat on 18 machines in the past three days, and some of them have CPUs propelled by gerbils. Painful.

Tours R Us

Anyone who has spent much time in a military training environment (or an operational one for that matter) is accustomed to the “tour of the week” coming through their work area. Somehow, my new job involves me being in the tour group instead of the one being inconvenienced. It’s quite odd, really.

New Job

I realized that I may have mentioned a new job here and there through cyberspacewebland, and yet I haven’t said anything about it since taking the job.

So, here we go… My new job is running a simulator for a war game.  I make airplanes and tanks move around in virtual reality, and send messages that pretend to be from those planes and tanks to other planes or bases.  Troubleshooting new scenarios is a fun little puzzle, ensuring things happen when they’re supposed to and that no aircraft remain in the air without forward motion (hovering C130 anyone?).  It’s fun, at least for me.

And, there’s an RPG propped in the corner of my office.  I’m pretty sure there’s a scene in a Daniel Keys Moran novel like that.

Fitting In

The GIs in the office I’m currently working from all have an abiding love of Fox News, leaving the television stuck on that channel all day long, and (regulations be damned) speak against President Obama quite freely.  One of the officers asked if I’d seen some headline on Drudge Report (after having a discussion about my Skeptic magazine). As if that’s not bad enough, they just decided to turn off the television (too much Obama made them ill) and turned on some music. First request, not with any sense of irony or mockery: Got any Nickelback? 

Fortunately, I don’t need to worry about fitting in, as I’m expecting to move to a different office in a month.  Nickelback and Faux News, yay.


According to this ABC report, a Reserve linguist is blabbing about some NSA program that targeted Americans.  I sure hope that she is being covered by some sort of Congressional exemption, cuz otherwise she’s kind of violating one of those NDAs like the one I signed this morning (probably the twentieth or more identical form I’ve signed over the years).  Strange that there’s no specific statement that the “whistleblower” is protected that way, but I guess journalists don’t have the same focus as intel geeks.

Shoes Drop

In April, the contract I have been working on for five years was due to be renewed.  Instead, the government extended it until the end of June.  June came around, and the contract got extended until the end of August, while the contract bid process was finally begun.  At the end of August, no contract was awarded, and thus began a joyful process of “guess what is happening in contractland.” Shoe number one hit the floor with a hollow thud.

Every week, a tale regarding exactly what rumor was ascendant was passed around. The next week, a completely new and different tale would be exchanged. You can imagine how much fun was had by all. During this time, we all nominally continued to be employed, but without any job site to go to had to make do with our saved vacation time in order to qualify for paychecks. Fortunately, I had over a month of vacation time saved up, so I weathered September without a problem. Many of my coworkers were on “Leave Without Pay” status for much of the month. Fat lot of good it does to be hypothetically employed, if you can’t use that hypothesis to pay bills.

We all knew our company was a shoo-in for the new contract. We’re the incumbents, have been doing the job for over a decade, have a good rapport with the customer, and have such a great understanding of the local realities that our bid must have been among the lowest. We also knew the contract had to be awarded by the end of Fiscal Year 2008 (that would be the 30th of September). Imagine my surprise to get a call on the 29th of September that said we didn’t get the contract. Shoe number two squashed something. Fortunately, the new overlords will be hiring all of us worker bees to work the new contract, since they have exactly zero local employees to do the work themselves. Now, to prepare for an interview with the new employer. Yes, I have to interview for a job I’ve held for five years. Yay.

The Gummint Moves in Mysterious Ways

I’ve been working on military bases for pretty much my entire adult life.  In that time, I’ve been continually amazed and astonished at the utter inanity of the bureaucratic ninnies who are allowed to run much of the daily workings of the government.  For instance, we have a proxy server which blocks access to web sites deemed inappropriate.  Which sites are inappropriate and why remains a guessing game, as they have misconfigured the blasted thing to show a useless error message.  There are locations in the “Access Denied” template to display exactly what category of evil you were trying to access, as well as the usual boilerplate about Big Brother watching you and he’s gonna getcha.

Today, I discovered that RealClimate is blocked. Exactly how is a climatology site objectionable? Of course, the propaganda information sites they do allow are equally interesting. There has never been a day that drug abuser Rush Limbaugh or felon G Gordon Liddy has been blocked, to my knowledge. Comedian Al Franken’s Senate campaign site – blocked. Air America was blocked, then allowed, then blocked, and now it’s allowed again I believe. For the longest time, Little Green Footballs was allowed, while DailyKos was blocked. Now, they’re both blocked.  I can get behind that – neither of those sites is official use, I’d wager. Drudge Report and WorldNutDaily – always accessible.  Slate’s Video News – blocked. Go figure.

Seriously, RealClimate? Frack.

Job Interviews

How’s this for wacky? Kat interviewed at a pet store to play with birds, and had to wear slacks. For mcjob. Her interview with the local university for an art professor gig – jeans.

She got both jobs, if’n you were wondering. My woman rocks.

Web Filters are Stupid

The base where I work uses some of the most arbitrary web-blocking filters I’ve ever seen. Yesterday, I could get to ScienceBlogs, today they’re listed as forbidden because they are “Reference/Education” pages. Yes, we wouldn’t want anyone here at the Air Education and Training Command to get to any sort of reference or education page.

My personal website has been blocked today (but not yesterday), listed as a “Forum/Bulletin Board.” Strangely, I can still get to Rush Limbaugh; I’m sure that’s official government use there. Al Franken’s campaign page is blocked for being a “Personal Page” – no political slant at all there, is there?

The web filtering they’ve had in place has gotten ever-more draconian over the years, to the point that I’m actually surprised if a hyperlink does not end in an “Access Denied” page. Science Blogs has got to be the top of the WTF list, though.

They Grow up so Fast

One of my cow-orkers delights in learning things that are relatively old news and then acting as if he’s sharing something of earth-shattering importance.  Among his recent discoveries: Agile Development, AJAX, Six Sigma, and Ruby on Rails.

It’s always cute to hear him espouse the way something from 3 years ago will change everything. And it’s always buzzword-compliant too.  For good or ill, he is on to the next old new thing often enough that he rarely implements much.  Well, there was that Agile Scrum thing, but I avoided it.  Meanwhile, I just put together a database documenting the capabilities of all the disparate simulations the programmers have built this year.  Not a word of appreciation from the boss-types.  *sigh*