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The New Job – Honeymoon

Friday at 5pm I get a chat from my manager, “Join this call in progress.” OK.  My manager and another manager are on the line. “Andrew we need you to get to a customer site for Monday at 9:00 AM.” OK. “Where am I going?” He said, “The customer is in Honolulu.”

Silence.

My manager got upset. “I’d be jumping up and down screaming like I won the lottery if I was just told I was going to Hawai’i. I think I’m going to drop what I’m doing, pick up the manuals and go to Hawaii myself to do your job!”

I replied cautiosly, “I asked where I was going. [He] answered ‘the customer is in Hawai’i.’ I’m still waiting for the other shoe to fall. Like the customer is in Hawai’i, but I’ll be going to their datacenter in Alaska.”

I was also told I could stay a few extra days – the airfare was covered, I just couldn’t expense the hotel or meals for the extended stay. Which would have been great, if Saturday wasn’t Valentine’s Day.

So, I worked all weekend, packing, arranging last minute travel, doing research, preparing to be successful at work, etc.  I left the house at 8:00 AM Eastern time and arrived in Hawai’i 16 hours later at 12:00 AM Eastern time (the following day). Not a fun commute to work.

One connecting flight

One connecting flight

It was a very long flight. During it, I thought to pull out my car’s GPS and hold it to the window to get some satellite reception. I’ve got a Garmin and if you hold your finger on the signal strength on the first screen, you get into this hidden menu that shows the satellites, their signal strength, your location, speed and elevation.

You can see on Google Maps, right where I was when I took the photo of my GPS below: http://goo.gl/0WuDjy.

Geek out!

The secret screen on my GPS

The secret screen on my GPS

Off the Coast of Mexico

Off the Coast of Mexico

A very, very, very long flight indeed. But I had power in my seat, and I had brought my DC/AC converter for the rental car. I had no idea I needed it for the plane. So I had power the whole flight, which was very nice.

In the home-stretch, just over an hour away

In the home-stretch, just over an hour away

Nothing around for miles

Nothing around for miles

My hotel was spectacular, a short walk from the beach at Wikiki.  The view of the city was wonderful.

Panoramic View off my balcony

Panoramic View off my balcony

Wikiki at Night

Wikiki at Night

And the room, although a little dated, was clean and comfortable.

I'm not weird because I took a photo of the bathroom

I’m not weird because I took a photo of the bathroom

It was an efficiency apartment

It was an efficiency apartment

Tight, but comfy

Tight, but comfy

Not sure why, sleep wasn't on the top of my list

Not sure why, sleep wasn’t on the top of my list

I got so see the sunrise on my first day there.  Which was pretty easy, considering I woke up at 4:00 AM local time (9:00 AM in my home timezone).  I tried to keep an early schedule, so adjusting back would be easier. I kept my wristwatch on Eastern Time, and my iPhone automatically displayed the local time.

Dumb tourists sat down right in the middle of my photo

Dumb tourists sat down right in the middle of my photo

Wikiki Beach

Wikiki Beach

Monkeypod Tree at Dawn

Monkeypod Tree at Dawn

This is my iPhone's Lock Screen presently

This is my iPhone’s Lock Screen presently

And I got to see the sun set on Paradise. I actually had enough light Wednesday night to get into the water for a short period of time. The Pacific Ocean here is clean and fresh. It wasn’t overly salty or fishy, like the North Atlantic can be. I was very pleasantly surprised. Aside from the rude police officer I interacted with, making sure I wasn’t breaking any laws by swimming after sunset, everyone was kind, polite, and helpful.

Sunset

Sunset

Now it wasn’t all fun and games. I spent 40+ hours working, both in data-centers, and in offices.  However, these views were always waiting for me, just outside the door.

The view from the office I was working from

The view from the office I was working from

I stayed at the Ilikai Hotel, on the right in the photo below. It’s claim to fame was being in the opening credits of Hawaii Five-O.

The Ilikai and the Rainbow Hilton

The Ilikai and the Rainbow Hilton

City Hall

City Hall

I got to eat some traditional island food.

Lau Lau; Pork wrapped in Ti leaves

Lau Lau; Pork wrapped in Ti leaves

I loved Lau Lau! It was delicious. And if you’re on the Island, Oahu, you have to stop by Helena’s Hawaiian Foods 1240 North School Street. Be prepared to wait and I know you’ll thank me afterwards.

And the final day, after work and before my plane ride home, I visited the USS Arizona Memorial.

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor 1

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor 2

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor

The USS Arizona's Berth on Battleship Row

The USS Arizona’s Berth on Battleship Row

The USS Arizona, proper

The USS Arizona, proper

She still bleeds into the harbor, to this day

She still bleeds into the harbor, to this day

The USS Arizona's Anchor

The USS Arizona’s Anchor

It was a powerful and moving experience.

Pearl Harbor Visitors Center

Pearl Harbor Visitors Center

Overall an awesome week. I was challenged at work. I think I did a great job, at least the customer’s feedback I got before leaving was very positive. It was tough. Including my travel time, I worked more than 80 hours; but, it was so worth it.

I am loving my job, but I have a foreboding feeling that the Honeymoon is now over.

Traveling with my New Job

I worked at a Fortune 50 company for 14 years. No names. I’m not bragging. This isn’t my resume. I share because it makes my job change all that much more significant. My new job is now in computer and corporate network security.  We basically protect corporate Data and Applications in the datacenter. The work is fantastic and our client base is world wide. Which brings me to the point of this post. Travel.

I’ve been on two trips already with my company; but, they were to places I had been before… many times. They were very work oriented, with little or no time for anything resembling recreation discounting our dinners out. This past trip was different.  Please don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a vacation. We worked, a lot. But we were working in Las Vegas, NV.

I wanted to share a few photos I took.

The flight was very interesting.

Grand Canyon Photo

Flying over the Grand Canyon

Landing in Las Vegas was interesting too.

Welcome to Las Vegas

Welcome to Las Vegas

Some like minded friends and I went hiking the first day.

Desert Nature

Desert Nature

And we saw spectacular views.

Red Rocks

Red Rocks

Sunset in the desert

Sunset in the desert

I stayed in a really nicely decorated room although the Hampton Inns I usually stay at for work are kept much cleaner. Then again, I’m sure the hotel rooms in Vegas see a different magnitude of filth than most business class hotels around the country.

MGM Grand Room

MGM Grand Room

MGM Grand Room

MGM Grand Room

MGM Grand Room

MGM Grand Room

The view from the room was pretty nice too.

MGM Grand Room View

MGM Grand Room View

And of course, I walked around on the strip a bit.

Luxor

Luxor

 

New York, NY

New York, NY

The Strip

The Strip

MGM Grand

MGM Grand

But eventually, every party must come to an end.

Party Mode Paused

Party Mode Paused

I stayed up all night my last night, caught a noon flight out, and actually slept for a few hours on the plane.  I could never sleep on a plane before. I think I’m now a veteran traveller.

Above the clouds, running from the sun.

Above the clouds, running from the sun.

 

Sunset just before landing.

Sunset just before landing.

(Click on the photos to see larger images.)

Cobwebs & Geocentric Bat-Shit Crazies

Is this blog still active?  Well, I took a small hiatus and got sucked into the social network I refer to as “The Book of Faces.”  But, since I have found my groove once again, I now dust off the cobwebs and begin my ranting anew with the latest bat-shit crazy idea of a Geocentric model of the universe.

Yes, I’ve been here before: Orbits and Faith, circa 2008.

I’m amazed that Actress Kathyrn Mulgrew, of Star Trek Voyager fame, whom I might add is most likely the poster-child for getting young girls into science and technology fields, lended her gravitas and persona to credit the ridiculous idea that not only the sun, but all of the Universe, revolves around the Earth.  Amazed may be selling it short; dumbfounded, dismayed, disappointed, and disheartened, all may be better words for this dumb-head move Kathyrn has made. Read it for yourself, I still can’t believe it.

With the recent debate between Ken Ham (resident nutjob who believes all of creation is only 6000 years old) and Bill Nye (the science guy of childhood television fame) to the controversies surrounding the reboot of the television program Cosmos, by Seth Macfarlane and Neil deGrasse Tyson, it seems evident that we are on the verge of a reboot of the Dark Ages.

Add it up, science is witchcraft to some and need I remind you the punishments for being accused of witchcraft?  We are doomed as a country if this trend continues. Idiocy has no place in a post modern, nuclear armed, society.

“Burn the Witch!”

God our Universe?

I saw a pulp-science show the other month offering a scientific explanation of life after death experiences with quantum entanglement. My question to you: What do you think of a sentient universe? That is, one with the ability to think, being quantum-ly entangled to every living brain within it. Does that make science into a religion?

With the multitude of stars and the ability for entanglement to work instantly without regard to distance, think about the possibility of billions upon billions of sentient life forms throughout the universe, all contributing to a higher, universal consciousness.

Maybe religion wasn’t far off with an “all knowing” or omnipotent god?

Think about each brain as massively parallel organic computer, and think of quantum entanglement as a network bringing them all together as a supercomputer cluster. Think about the processing capabilities! Think about the intellect of the macro-consciousness! Mind boggling!

Have we mere mortals peered into Heaven?  Have we just glimpsed the mind of God?

Script it

I had another IcyDock, firewire, external, drive enclosure fail again. So instead of throwing good money after bad, I instead acquired a NAS (network attached storage) device. Specifically, I got a Synology DS211J from Amazon with reward points on my credit card. Yes, I paid $0 for it and it’s the best money I never spent.

The NAS, which I named NASty, holds two SATA drives and has a host of RAID configurations available. I have two 2TB drives mirrored, split into three Volumes, with access controls, users, passwords, and a smorgasbord of applications, not the least of is a VPN server so I can access my files remotely when I’m away from home. On one Volume I moved all of my Music, and set iTunes to look on the remote drive for my music database. Which is good for sharing my music through the house, but was causing me some pain and mental anguish on my laptop when I forgot to first ‘mount’ the drive before opening iTunes.

When opening iTunes prematurely, as the case is, my podcasts would download to the local drive and I would have to clean it up manually to get it back onto the NAS and have it recognized in the iTunes program. Annoying. So, I thought to myself, I should script it so the NAS music share mounts first, then iTunes opens. So… I programmed an iTunes Launcher for my new setup.

-- iTunes Launcher
-- for use with a music database stored on a remote NAS

-- define our Function to check if an application is running
on appIsRunning(appName)
	tell application "System Events" to (name of processes) contains appName
end appIsRunning

-- check for the existence of our music share
try
	alias "/Volumes/music"
on error
	-- if the share doesn't exist mount it
	tell application "Finder"
		mount volume "music" on server "NASty" in AppleTalk zone¬
			"*" as user name "music-user" with password "pass-word"
		-- not my username nor my password… 
	end tell
end try

-- Test to see if our mount is really there.
tell application "Finder" 
	if not (exists POSIX file "/Volumes/music/itunes/.NAStyIsMounted") then
		display alert "NASty Music Share not Mounted!" as critical giving up after 90
		return
	end if
end tell

-- Is iTunes running 
if appIsRunning("iTunes") then
	-- if so, do nothing
else
	-- otherwise start iTunes
	launch application "iTunes"
end if

-- bring iTunes window to the foreground
tell application "iTunes"
	activate
	tell window 1
		if not visible then set visible to true
	end tell
end tell

So just a tiny little script that checks to see if the music share is mounted already. If not, I mount it. I then make sure it mounted, if I can’t see the hidden file on the share I go OLD SCHOOL and ABEND. Otherwise I continue and check to see if iTunes is running. If not, I start it. And to finish up, now that I know iTunes is running, I bring it to the front.

I saved the script as an application. I changed the icon from the default AppleScript icon to a custom icon. Then I dropped the Launcher program onto my dock. So now I not only have a graphical reminder on my dock, but I removed the iTunes icon so I can’t accidentally open just the program without mounting the share first.

Amazingly, it works like a charm.