Friday, September 29, 2017

The Calendar is not Working

 "Your access to this calendar is being processed. Please check back later."

Several years ago, one of the ministries at my parish was losing its WebEx online tool, needed an alternative, advertised for someone to help, and I responded. Without, frankly, a great deal of thought I suggested a Yahoo group and that a small team from the ministry become charter members to evaluate the Yahoo Group for sufficiency. They approved my suggestion, and I soon was the group administrator.

The ministry's needs were minimal, the evaluation was positive, and we decided to switch to Yahoo at year-end. This ministry had collected lots of digital "stuff" and moving forced a keep-or-toss decision about all of it. Eventually we moved all the files that needed to be moved, and some that only maybe needed that. I posted the Excel schedule to the group's Files page and put all the events on the group's Calendar. We were ready on Yahoo.

As time moved along, performance in the real world replicated that in our test: I posted and removed files as I was supposed to, created and modified events on the Calendar, and the Calendar notified all members of an event a week ahead of time. Everything was wonderful …

… unless it wasn't. Occasionally I was unable to post files. Several times the calendar function worked only spottily … I would add an event to it, save it, and come back later and it would be gone. I would be completely unable to save new events. I would be unable to access the calendar at all. Each time the functionality soon 'fixed itself,' but I worried more each time it happened.

With the first failure, I attempted to reach Yahoo and found the soft under-belly of the enterprise: there was no help desk. Eventually … after struggle with the links on the Yahoo troubleshooting pages … I usually got to a page which said, in effect, "Well, then, talk to those in the forum." Although they sometimes responded to queries in those forums, Yahoo staff was unavailable to connect with to ask about anything.  Pretty much everybody in the forum had the same question: "Is this ever going to really get fixed?" Nobody supplied anything resembling an answer.

All of this had come to seem like ancient history … until recently. I went to add an entry to the Calendar, and I got an error message, "Your access to this calendar is being processed. Please check back later."

I waited for several days before panicking; the reason for panic included continuing to get that error message, getting that same message with several different browsers, other members of the group's getting that error, and much talk about this problem on the Yahoo forums. 

One of the member's comments was especially telling as it pieced together several experiences I had had but not reflected on. The comment linked periodic outages, the inability to talk to anyone at Yahoo and continual neglect to the probability that new owner Verizon would take months to get it all straightened out, if they even chose to address the issue at all. Yikes! I decided I likely backed the wrong horse when suggesting Yahoo; Google groups would likely have been better.

Although full functionality has again, mysteriously, returned to our group, our ministry will abandon Yahoo, see what else is out there and possibly use internal tools the parish has now that it didn't have when the question first arose.

Yahoo: this is no way to run an enterprise.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Turned Down for What?

Flight attendant. : - P

This is not at all surprising.  Delta hires less than 1% of the people who apply.  I certainly don't blame them for not picking me.  I don't even blame them for turning me down in a form letter without ever actually talking to me.  They just don't have the resources when you have so many applicants.  This does make things difficult for me though.

Difficult because I don't have great direction about where to go from here.  None of the positive changes I made even came up, because I didn't get that far.  I can only wonder if I could have improved my resume, or answered the questions on their personality assessment better.

I created my resume with a lot of help from someone who does recruiting for a Fortune 500 company.  It does highlight my technical experience.  She has agreed to rework it with me to highlight customer service experience.  The other thing I can do is add to it.

Adding experience as a flight attendant is one thing can do.  I might have to get some experience at a smaller airline for that.  A different job at Delta might be helpful too, but it wouldn't make sense to abandon my career in tech support for a job I don't want.  I am keeping my eye out for tech support jobs at airlines.

The other things I can do are to become certified in safety related abilities like CPR, or learn Spanish.  I have real problems with blood, but I think I'll try.  Both are doable, and as before, they'd be positive changes even if I never end up becoming a flight attendant.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Two ... or One?

I am currently taking an online retreat about Sacred Spaces and Sacred Moments. ( Yes, I, who has relatively recently been on a five-day self-directed silent retreat and on four three-day silent preached Jesuit retreats, am taking advantage of technology. ) The retreat is given, in the form of brief audio clips and short textual readings, by the Benedictine Monasteries of the Heart monastery. My time. My computer. My office. Silent or not, as I wish. You get the idea.

The retreat is in its second of four weeks. As I reflected on today's material, I was moved to write a poem with a brief introduction. I share them below:

Among the most overwhelming sacred moments I've had have occurred when my wife ( the love of my life ) and I were together and something magical happened. Like this.

Just sitting together
My love and I

Talking quietly
Or maybe not

She leaves her body
Or I mine

The space between
Is nearly visible

I know her differently
We are not 1 but 2

Physically ... yes ... 2
Otherwise only 1

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Monday, September 11, 2017

This is Not "Me"

Someone I know once casually reminded everyone to make sure they recycle the paper she was handing us when we were done.  I casually let her know that, although I'm always careful to recycle plastic, glass, and aluminum, I believe recycling paper is actually bad for the environment.

Now I've heard her talk about recycling quite a few times.  She must really care about the environment.  Right?  I expected her to be grateful for a chance to learn more about being a good steward of the earth.  Or maybe she would disagree, and provide her reasoning as to why she believed recycling paper was good for the environment.  What I got was silent anger, then a quick subject change.

I was confused.  I didn't know what to say.  That's when another acquaintance of us both spoke up.  "Really?  How can that be?" he asked.  I was so revealed.  He had gifted me this chance to explain my reasoning, and she would realized that this mysterious anger was misplaced.

I briefly explained about the extra fossil fuels and chemicals spent on collecting and processing used paper as compared to fresh wood pulp.  I also explained how wood pulp comes from tree farms, and used paper is biodegradable.  I looked over at her and saw... more silent anger, somehow burning even hotter than before.  Then another quick subject change.

This was about 10 years ago.  Since then I've leaned that I'm the weird one.  Almost every person I know takes ideas, and inserts them into their image of "me."  This woman didn't care about the earth.  She chose to include recycling in her self image, and was offended when I insulted her.  Others chose political or sociological ideas.  Then there is, of course, religion.

You are not your country.  You are not your political party, feminism, recycling, or your religion.  And I shouldn't have to be a jerk for questing an idea, any idea.  People should be respected, not ideas.  All ideas should be criticized.  The more you love your idea, the more you should welcome its criticism.  Be proud when your ideas stand up to scrutiny, and grateful to find out if it doesn't.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Me, a Reading Buddy?

"I'm cooler than that."

I have a friend whom I've known for only a few years … but he has influenced my life. For instance, he is the "other friend" to whom
I referred previously
who invited me to go on a 3-day silent retreat. I've done it annually since then.

When we visit, he consistently refers to one of his volunteer duties, of which he has several, as his "Reading Buddy" assignment. He reads, weekly, to a group of young students at a school near his home. "It is so great to be able to be a positive influence on their young lives," he says. "A lot of them come from homes without a father, from a home within which they get no male bonding, no male support; OK, no male love. To be a positive influence like that is life-giving — in both directions."

Of course, he says other things, periodically, never more than one or two at a time, as well. "You should try it." "You'd be a great reading buddy." "The kids would really look up to you." "You have such a teaching and caring way about you." "The kids would love your sense of humor." "Here, let me give you the name of the Reading Buddy coordinator … just in case you change your mind."

Believing I would not change my mind, but also believing that anything is possible, I added her information to my contact list. I added a note, "Reading buddy coordinator," too, for times I see her name and wonder, "Who is that?"

A while back, school was starting shortly and my friend had mentioned his Reading Buddy avocation to me and how wonderful it would be were I to try it. I'd again done my best to be clear without being rude that I don't think Reading Buddies is for me.

"You know, he's really after me to be a Reading Buddy," I said to my wife around that time.

She knows my friend almost not at all but I try to keep her up to date on the topics we discuss … so my relationship is not a complete mystery. "He's been a Reading Buddy for quite a while, hasn't he?" she acknowledged.

"Yes," I said, "he has. I'm not sure how long but it's been quite a while."

"What do you tell him when he suggests this to you?"

"I am clear," I said, "that I don't think it's for me. I never turn him down cold … I don't want to be rude and there is a small attraction there for me. I really don't want to acknowledge that attraction but I don't want to slam the door shut, either."

"Hmmm," she mused.

"I hate it when she 'Hmmm's like that." Deciding to risk it, I asked, "What's 'Hmmm' about?"

"Well, tell me. Tell me about the attraction that you don't want to acknowledge."

"Well, I like teaching. You know that … I'm a born 'let me show you how to do that' kind of guy. I think kids kind of look up to me, and I could both like doing it and be good at it. But … but it doesn't fit my self-image," I said, as a truth slowly made itself known. I heard myself add, "It's like I'm cooler than that."

"Ah, yes, your self-image." She repeated, "Cooler." The word was both loaded with affection and chillingly effective.

"Uh oh."

"I think you'd like to do that," she said easily; "it could well be very good for you."

If you've been paying attention, you know both that my wife is scary smart and that I've learned to pay attention to these sorts of pronouncements. Almost immediately I knew I'd be calling that coordinator; it was only a matter of time to come to grips with it.

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Grooming 102

 ** The following is a graphic depiction of laser hair removal **

Laser hair removal happened.  I know it did because it was burned into my memory, and boy did it burn.  Apparently it isn't unheard of, but is fairly unusual, to laugh hysterically when in pain.  When it was done I expected to see a bloody mess, but it was just a little red.

The procedure was $100.  I think I was there about 20 minutes.  She told me it is significantly more painful than having a tattoo removed, which is significantly more painful than getting a tattoo.  She also told me it will never be as painful as the first time.

The next day I had a sunburn on my neck.  Then almost a week of little white pimples, and very dry skin.  An ingrown hair will eventually trigger the "foreign body" response, as though there was something foreign under your skin.  That's pretty much what happened to about half of my neck hairs, even though they weren't trapped.  And many more were trapped, becoming ingrown hairs.  I've never had so many at once.  It was so frustrating having so many problem hairs, and not being able to pull them.

As I write this 13 days in, my neck finally looks as bad as normal.  It's red here and there, but nothing major.  And the hairs did finally start falling out.  You can see some patches where only my white hairs remain.  Those without pigment will not be affected by this.

This has been my experience, but I can't really say if it will be effective.  This is a long term solution, and will take months to be sure I'll have long term results.  I'll definitely check back in 6 months.