Not Willing To Be Vilified Any More

I didn’t want to have to write this.  I wanted nothing more than to let people have time to heal.  I wanted to live my life without getting involved.  But I find that I can’t sit quietly by while I’m slandered. While I, and millions of my countrymen, are vilified. While so-called “rational” people are calling for a “conversation.” A “conversation,” most of which so far seems to consist of vitriol and even death threats against me and millions of people like me. I can’t sit by while a small, but extremely vocal, minority of the populace tries to shout the rest of us down and have its way with us.

Here’s an example of the “conversation” so far:

sam tarling@sammyswordfish

All NRA members should be shot!!!! I thank you, that’s one of my own !!

Bitter Old St. Nick@90sRememberer

Murder every NRA member

Pardon me if I seem a bit reluctant to engage with these wonderful folks. It’s just that it’s kind of hard to have a “conversation” with someone who wants you dead. But, of course, I never really fell for the “conversation” gambit. Having been vilified for the better part of 20 years by know-nothing bliss-ninnies for being a gun owner, I suppose I’ve grown a wee bit hardned, callused, and even just a smidge cynical.

I’m willing to cut some of you a little slack. After all, it’s hard not react to the deaths of children in such a horrific situation. It’s human nature to demand that someone DO SOMETHING! But this only goes so far. I’m writing this, though, to let you know that when you begin to demand that something be done about those nasty guns, you’re de facto demanding that something be done about (or to) me. You see, I’m one of those nasty, filthy, gun owners you seem to love so much to hate. Worse, I’m a member of the (gasp!) NRA.

But what really chaps my ass is that so many of you know so little about the topic, yet seem so sure that you have the answer. An answer that usually would turn me into a criminal. Or at least deprive me of thousands of dollars of my property despite my having done nothing wrong. It’s very much akin to telling someone he has to hand over his car to the government (without compensation and without due process) because someone else plowed into a school yard using the same model. I know, you’re saying, “but cars aren’t designed to kill people.” Doesn’t matter. They can easily be used as such. In fact, given their widespread availability, and the nonchalance that many of you exhibit while using them, as a whole they’re far more dangerous than guns. Yet I don’t see you demanding that people turn in their high-powered V-8’s or demand that they can only have cars with 4-cylinder engines (or at least those of you who are sane).

Let’s try a small thought experiment… I invite you to think about this from my point of view for just a second: I am a law-abiding, reasonable person. I go about my day-to-day life minding my own business, trying to be considerate of others, and trying to do no harm. I am peaceable and my guns have never been used for evil. Yet I am marked for punishment due to the actions of a psychopath. Every time something like this happens, I am blamed, vilified, and put in the position of having to defend my human right to own guns. Yet we never see this with cars, because everyone owns them and is familiar with them.

There are a lot of people like me out here. People who just want to go about our daily lives without being attacked. We’re your friends and your neighbors. We volunteer in the community and we genuinely care about our communities.  How many of us are you willing to make criminals over this?

Americans increasingly in favor of gay marriage, gun rights –,0,5261310.story

More Americans are in favor of gay marriage, and more place the importance of gun owner rights above gun control, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. While support for gay marriage and gun owners is on the rise, that increase is one that bodes well for opposite ends of the political spectrum, providing mixed signals to those still complacent with the established social standards of the past decade and beyond.

I emphasized the part that I find interesting.  So why do these positions have to occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum?  Is it impossible to hold both opinions without being one or the other?

I would think that if one approaches life from the position of maximum liberty and minimum restraint that one might favor both positions.  I certainly do (in actuality I favor getting government out of both areas of interest).

Gainful Employment

I accepted a contract position as a Systems Analyst this morning.  It’s not my ideal job, as it’s not as technical as I have been in the past.  But it’s a relief to know that I have somewhere to go when my current job ends on the 28th.  Total days I will be unemployed: 1.

An Inventive Lot, These Spammers

I got a spam email this morning with the subject line of “STOP SPAMMING ME!!!!”  Inside it said that my Facebook account had been hacked and that they had attached a screen shot.  Yeah… like I’m going to open a file from someone I don’t know, sent to an email address that has nothing to do with my Facebook account.

I have to give them credit for ingenuity, though.  Taking advantage of the fear of having your account hacked combined with the universal loathing of spam to try to hack your PC (most likely to turn it into a spam bot) is a master stroke.

iCloud iAnger…

Seems that things aren’t all unicorns and roses in Apple land since the introduction of iCloud.  A friend of mine has a bone or two to pick with Apple support.

If that link fails, try this one.

Life for Texas Dad in Fatal Rape of Baby

Sometimes I despair for the human race.  Truly there are some people so evil they ought not be allowed to live.

Life for Texas Dad in Fatal Rape of Baby

Hackers Elect Futurama’s Bender to the Washington DC School Board | PCWorld

This, folks, is why I still insist on paper ballots.

Hackers Elect Futurama’s Bender to the Washington DC School Board | PCWorld

Cutting the cord

I’m thinking about doing away with my FiOS TV subscription.  I only watch about three shows these days, one of which is available over the air with the other two available on Amazon Instant Video for $1.99 per episode.  It’s just not worth it to me to pay $90/month for just a few shows.  I would only keep the most basic minimal channel lineup (basically the OTA channels that Verizon puts on the wire in unencrypted QAM) so that I can get the local news (I don’t want to mess with an external antenna).

If anyone has done this, I’d be curious to know the results and how satisfied you’ve been using Netflix, Amazon, and or Hulu.

The Corporate Ax Falleth Upon My Neck

I got word yesterday morning that I am being laid off (1) at the end of March unless I can find another position in the company.  Of course this is a bit like the corporate version of musical chairs, except that instead of taking away one chair they’re removing hundreds.  After perusing the internal job postings, I didn’t see anything that fit my needs(2), so I expect that March 28th will mark the end of 19 years with the company.

I’ve halfway been expecting this for nearly a year.  They weren’t giving us any significant new work due to constant budget cuts, and my primary mission is to turn requirements into designs and guide them through the development process.  Hence I was pretty underutilized, and ended up working on some on-going support tasks and some Java development.  I am guilty of just not taking it seriously enough, I suppose.

Anyhow, I am trying to look at this as more of an opportunity than an obstacle.  They’re giving me six months of pay as well as medical and life insurance, so I have a bit of cushion.  I’ve got my resume out to a couple of people now for review and will get it out on the major sites to get the ball rolling on something regular.  The upside is that I am seeing a lot of openings.  It just appears to be a matter of getting my qualifications across in the best light for each one.  And if nothing is forthcoming I’m considering going freelance, perhaps even starting my own company.  There seems to be a lot of work available if you can build up your reputation.

Updated to add: They are also offering up to $2500 in reimbursement for training.  I’m contemplating whether to get a Project Management certification.  My work has always been intricately linked with the project management role, and I’ve even filled in as a PM on a fairly large project when the PM was injured and was away for several months.  But I’m open to suggestions on other skills that might be useful to acquire.  I’ve got more than 10 years doing J2EE apps, so I have lots of experience in Java, servlets, JDBC, database design and implementation (DB2 and MySQL), JSPs, etc.  Also web services using SOAP.  I’ve got some personal experience writing in PHP and Perl for the web, and I know my way around Linux (actually, Unix in general) pretty well.  But I’ve never done .NET, C#, or any of the Microsoft stuff.

(1) Isn’t it interesting all the euphemisms and rhetorical contortions that are required in corporate speak to avoid saying the “l” word?

(2) I find myself in the unenviable position of owning a home in a down market, which severely limits my mobility.  I suppose I could try to rent it out if I had to move somewhere else, but the logistics of that are messy.  Additionally, the D/FW area has one of the better job markets in the country, so I am hopeful for a good outcome.

Please, Not Again!

I just realized that I am going to have to call SiriusXM customer support.  After my last horrible customer service experience with them, I am less than eager to go another round, but with the purchase of the Flex it will be inevitable since I have to deactivate the XM receiver in the Avalanche (which I no longer have) and somehow get the Flex’s Sirius receiver put on the account.  My research so far on this topic is extremely discouraging.  It seems that despite “merging” the two companies, the billing still runs as separate entities.  Which means that if you have an account with XM, you can’t put a Sirius radio on it (and vice versa).  It appears that you have to open a new account for the Sirius radio and cancel the XM account.

And to put the icing on the cake, the latest online buzz (via forums and Facebook) is that SiriusXM phone support has a serious theft problem.  The reps are under such intense pressure to sell you additional equipment or services that they will often add additional billing or equipment to your account that you did not authorize.  There are numerous complaints from people who called to cancel or change service who ended up being billed for things they did not authorize.

I’ve submitted a question via their email page, to see if what I want will be remotely possible (there are also hints online that they will really merge their operations “real soon now”).  But I am not holding my breath waiting for an answer.

Update: They got back to me a day later (not too bad), but the answer was as I expected: you cannot put a Sirius radio on an “XM account” and vice versa.  So this morning I girded for battle and dialed their so-called “Customer Care” number.  After 45 minutes, two transfers and two hang-ups, I finally succeeded on the third try in canceling the XM radio account I’ve had for the last 9 years.  Or at least that’s what I was told.  I will anxiously await the “7 to 10 business days” they claim it takes for the refund to make it back to my credit card to verify that it actually happened.  For now, I’ve got a free trial of  Sirius in the Flex, so my satellite radio needs are being met.  But I am dreading the day when I have to become a subscriber again.

Which is really sad, because when it comes to the actual service, it works fine when all the equipment is functioning.  It’s only when you have to contact customer service that the company fails so miserably.  Really, isn’t it a crappy reflection of their customer service that it took 45 minutes and getting hung up on twice to do something as simple as cancel an account?  Further, isn’t it even more crappy that the supposedly “merged” company can’t mix the two “accounts?”  If they weren’t so shabbily run, I wouldn’t have had to cancel an 9-year-old account just to change radios on my end.

Frankly, if I could find some way to reliably get “fresh” music (I quickly tire of using an iPod or other device), that had good customer service, I’d jump on it.