The Things You Think Will Make You Happy

Every morning, the girl comes and brings us breakfast on a cart. Coffee, creamer, sugars, orange juice, fresh cut fruit....cantaloupe, watermelon, raspberries, blueberries, honeydew melons, muffins, unbelievable array of breakfast delicacies.

And, you'd think that you would be happily diving into the food every morning. But, in reality, you get used to it very quickly. So that, right away, people start to complain about the temperature of the coffe, or the perceived lack of varieties.

Like, you should never underestimate the ability of human beings to grow uncomfortable or unhappy with their situation.

Jennifer was surprised, I think, to go away to college and learn that her richest friends weren't ecstatically happy. But that's the nature of the beast. That's how it works. Having money doesn't make you happy. You'd think that it would, but it really doesn't.

The things you think will make you happy really won't. It doesn't work that way. Otherwise, people would be jumping up and down in the shopping malls, high-fiving each other on the perfect temperature inside the malls. But the truth is that no one talks about the temperature inside the mall, ever. Even though it's perfect. If you pointed out that the temperature was perfect, people would laugh at you.

Today, I'm sitting at my desk and the boss comes over and asks me how I'm doing with my data comparison. I think I'm making good progress, but then he tells me that what I'm doing is completely wrong. And that, I need to just do row counts on the tables in two different databases. Like...his request is so stupid that I want to jump out a window. I'm thinking...why am I here? Why do I get paid to do this? I wonder what the temperature is like down in Tierra Del Fuego. Like...if I left today, would I freeze by the time I got down there?

"I need you to work with me on this issue, and then we'll show the project managers that you are the lead on this project..."

I want to stick my hand into a blender. This request is so stupid there aren't words. And, the idea that we need to show the project managers that this is the whipping-boy task I've been assigned makes me want to murder everyone in the room with a ball-peen hammer.

Like, now, I begin to think that they're questioning my value, so he's come up with this little task for me to work on to demonstrate my value to the team. I want to swan dive off of the top of the Fox Theater.

I sit there at my little couch with my feet up on the coffee table and wonder if I can possibly kill 6 months riding one of the bikes down to Tierra Del Fuego.


Posted by Rob Kiser on August 22, 2017 at 6:48 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Eclipse of 2017

In the morning, I fly back to Los Angeles.

On the plane, I force myself to talk to the person in the middle seat. Like, when I see someone, I sort of force myself to talk to strangers, because that's all that there is really. I just make myself talk to them. For good or for ill. It's all that there is. When you find yourself surrounded by strangers, you reach out to them. It's not much, but it's all you have, and it might keep you from drowning in a sea of anonymous strangers.

I talk to men. Women. Young. Old. It's good practice, for hitting on chicks, because you don't want to act shy/bashful/inexperienced/desperate. If you're really truly not trying to get anything out of the conversation, then that's the only real chance you have of not seeming desperate.

I haven't flown into LAX a whole lot. Only a few times, but I'm getting to know the airport. Slowly, but surely. So that now, when I fly in, I sort of half know where I am.

The only problem is that I can't find my glasses. I hear someone tell the flight attendant, "no, those aren't my glasses". Panicked....I realize that I can't find my glasses, and the stupid flying waitress must have them somehow. "Uh....where'd the glasses go. I think that they're mine." Like, if I don't have my glasses, I'm so fucked that there aren't words. This is a show-stopper.

"I gave them to the woman...she's up at the end of the jetway, dressed like me, but with a red jacket on."

So, I race off the plane, and I find the woman. and she has my glasses. I take them from her, and swap them out for the readers I was wearing on the plane. Lord. God.

I go outside, but this time I walk right to the KTM. It was only there for 4 days, so it's not quite as nerve racking as if you've been gone for a week or two.

Like, I mean, I ride the Honda to the airport, and then fly out here, and then I get on the KTM at LAX. I have both keys on the same chain. And, I always get them mixed up. LIke, I'll be sitting on the bike, and I can't tell you which bike I'm on. So, I try to shove the Honda key into the KTM. Again. I'm going to ruin my ignition switches doing this.

I use a GPS and Waze at the same time to try to verify my route to UCLA. But, what's funny is that, once I get them all dialed in, I'm starting to recognize my route. Like, certainly, I've been this way before. This is kind of fun. Maybe, this is the only really fun/exciting part of my work. I think, really, it's the only thing that I enjoy. Riding the motorcycle, learning new airports, new cities. New routes. New restaurants. Really, this is all that keeps me going I think.

I walk into the office, half blnded from the sun.

It occurs to me that, the further away people travel from, the earlier they get here. The people from the east coast are here first. The people that have an up and down flight from San Francisco (Wheels up to wheels down = 40 minutes), somehow get here last. Sort of counter-intuitive, but this is where we are.

There's no coffee, so the boss and I go for coffee. (The don't bring it to us on Monday for whatever reason.)

So, we go for coffee. Where were you this weekend? Where are you moving to? Like...these are sort of normal questions that you ask someone who flies every week. Like...these people are so close to sucide that there aren't words. You try to talk about your travels as though it makes sense.

But, of course, nothing ever works.

"I was in chicago. We're moving to New Jersey...." he offers.

"Yes...yes.." I mumble. Like, he could say that, "we're moving to the surface of the moon and I wouldn't be surprised."

I try to focus to courage to ask him a question. To ask him what I'm supposed to be working on. And why it matters. Like...these are the little things that bother the little kernels of sand that you feel in your shoes and in your pockets. Things that gnaw at you, out of sight of the public. But things that worry you and gnaw away at your sanity. I could go forward without addressing them, but I feel like I need to push the envelope. To give words to my deepest fears.

"What is it that I'm supposed to be working on?" I ask him. Like, I'm running all of this SQL. I know that much. But what is it for? Why does it matter? When can I go?

Like, there's no end in sight and I really don't want to be here any more. I don't really want any more money. I wouldn't know what to do with it if I had more money. I just want to go away. I want to ride my bike down to Tierra Del Fuego. And I feel like I'm just in this holding pattern here. We're never going to go live. And we're never going to cancel the project. And they're just going to keep paying me until eventually, I'll get run over on the I-405 by some idiot woman changing lanes into the HIV lane illegally. And I'm going to go down onto the concrete going 60 mph with no insurance. Like...that's a very real possibility, and I don't really want to be here any more. Maybe the eclipse is a sign. Maybe not.

"This that you are working on is like a staging of the configuration data that could be used for the next integration test. We could use it for the next phase of Integration Testing or Parrallel testing, if we move it into a different environment," he offers. As if that makes any sense. Like, I just grit my teeth and close my eyes.

"Here, put on these glasses and you can see the eclipse," a young beautiful girl offers.

I stare at the eclipse briefly, and pass the glasses on to the next person in line.

Like, I don't mind the campus. The campus is beautfiul, but I really don't know why I'm here any more. I've been here for over a year, but I don't feel like we're any closer to going live. And I don't really want any more money....I just want to go get on my motorcycle and ride...for a long for 2-3 months down in South America. I want to go exploring while I still can.

I don't really feel like staying here is helping anyone. I don't feel like the project is progressing. And I don't feel like having more money in the bank is making me any happier or more complete as a human being.

"Do you think that you can have the audits done of this environment today?" my boss asks.

"Yeah. Sure. I can have them done today," I reply, and I go outside to watch the eclipse with the eternally young, beautiful girls on campus.

We break for lunch as soon as everyone gets in, and, at some point, John points out that no one else is here. Like, we've all flown in from all over the country, and no one from UC is here. Like. No one. Now, granted, UCLA has an office that's a 15 minute walk away on Wilshire Boulevard, but they can't be bothered to come here. Not UCLA. Not Riverside. Not Merced. So, it's just us. Just a room full of contracters.


Posted by Rob Kiser on August 21, 2017 at 11:49 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

2017 Solar Eclipse

So, it looks like the eclipse will start in Denver, Colorado at around 11:46 a.m. on Monday August 20, 2017.

Conifer 10:23 a.m. - 1:14 p.m., with peak at 11:46 a.m.
Los Angeles 9:05 a.m. - 11:44 a.m., with peak at 10:21 a.m.

My flight leaves Monday morning at 7:45 a.m. and lands at 9:15 a.m.
So, we should be landing just as the eclipse starts. Then, I can ride my bike up to UCLA and catch the eclipse there.

If you want to view the eclipse, don't look at the sun. Don't use some fake shades you got from for $0.99. Make a simple pinhole eclipse viewer.


Posted by Rob Kiser on August 20, 2017 at 7:11 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Westwood & Wilshire Boulevard

At 5:00 a.m. in the morning I wake up and ride the Honda Africa Twin to the airport in the cool summer morning air. Park and catch a flight to Phoenix. I'm going back to Los Angeles, but my KTM is in Ontario because that's where I flew out of when my grandmother passed away and then I was in Colorado last week and so it goes.

My ticket was to fly to LAX this week, but then I realized that my KTM was in Ontario, so I bought a one-way ticket to ONT from DEN, but couldn't get a non-stop flight, so I'm going through Sky Harbor in Phoenix. This is my life.

I preboard the flight to Phoenix and then the pilot takes us to a place out on the tarmac I've never seen before in 30 years of flying and the pilot announces that we will be delayed due to air traffic control.

Great. The flight is delayed leaving Denver. Now, I'll miss my connection in Phoenix and I'll be royally screwed getting into work. This is why you take non-stop flights.

But instead, we're only delayed a short time and then we take off an I watch the mountains and then the deserts scroll by with little interest.

When you never fly, it's all very exciting but when you fly every week, everything fades.

I land at Sky Harbor and change terminals without having to reclear securtiy and now I'm at the gate and I preboard again. Now, a short flight into ONT, but this isn't really familiar country. I don't normally fly over this portion of the Great American Desert.

"Is that Lake Havasu City?" I ask the guy beside me.

"No. That's the Salton Sea."

Very cool. Now, we're landing in ONT, but the pilot does a go-around because a helicopter is in the way. Now, we land and I walk outside and this is the part where you pray the bike is where you left it nearly 2 weeks ago. And the bright orange KTM is there. Huge rush of adrenaline. Now, I'm not really sure where I'm going, so I put in the address of the last place we were when we worked at UCLA. It has to be close to that, I figure.

Everything shows to take I-10 west, and now that it's noon, I don't think that traffic will be all that bad, and I hop on I-10 heading west. Traffic isn't all that bad, though it does stop occasionally, and when it does, I lane split and I keep going west. I-10 joins I-5 for a little bit just east of downtown LA and I manage to get a little lost, but then I'm back on track, south on I-5, to I-10 west again. And traffic is bad, and then better.

When I get to 10920 Wilshire Blvd, I park the KTM in the same place I parked the last time we were here. Now, I see that Sapna has texted me a new address less than a mile from here, and now I'm off to the races. Like, first, get to the right side of Los Angeles. Now, go up Westwood to UCLA's main campus.

Some question about whether the building name is Ackerman Hall or Ackerman Student Union. Just ask for the bookstore. It's at the center of campus.

I park in a parking garage at the edge of campus and start walking looking for "the building with stripes". Find it and there's an information window. Apparently, UC Path is on the 2nd floor. I walk up to the second floor and I'm home.

On Monday morning, we don't have any food provided, but on Tuesday morning, the bring us coffee. Fresh fruit. Danishes. Muffins.

The chairs are stiff, so I sit on a couch, with my feet on the coffee table.

We are here for the week. May as well make the best of it.

Suresh and I walk to starbucks for coffee, down in Westwood by the Fox Theatre.

There is a tree here with yellow flowers that I can't identify and it bothers me. I take a photo to send to the horticulturist that I met in Rockridge. But I don't have his contact information any more.

Cassia Leptophylia. Gold Medallion Tree. Foot long seed pods. Native to Brazil.


Posted by Rob Kiser on August 16, 2017 at 10:39 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink