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August 22, 2017

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, danishes....an 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

August 21, 2017

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 me...like 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 time....like 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

August 20, 2017

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 Amazon.com for $0.99. Make a simple pinhole eclipse viewer.


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

August 16, 2017

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

August 3, 2017

Elsie Lou Penner Sutton (Nana)

Today, we buried Elsie Lou Penner Sutton, my grandmother.
November 7, 1919 - July 30, 2017.

The service was at St. Paul's Episcopal Church 520 Summit St, Winston-Salem, NC.

She was buried at Crestview Memorial Cemetery at 6850 University Pkwy, Rural Hall, NC. Uncle Jack is buried there also. Herman Jackson Penner. Feb 4, 1911 - Nov 20, 1978.

We had dinner afterwards at Village Tavern, the one by Hanes Mall. (There are two of them apparently.) This is also where we ate on Nana's 90th birthday. The Village Tavern we went to is at 2000 Griffith Road Winston-Salem, NC 27103.

I believe that Uncle Jack and Aunt Vera lived at 225 Penner St.

There is another small family cemetery where Albert is interred. It's just past Old Nick Williams Distillery at 2675 Williams Rd, Lewisville, NC 27023. This is apparently a relative of ours.

Turn off of Williams Road onto Double Spring Road, and the first gate on the left is where we go in to the family cemetery. This is where Albert is interred and has a headstone. 11327 Double Spring Rd, Lewisville, NC.

Then, we went to Old Salem and got Moravian sugar cake from the Winkler Bakery 521 S Main St, Winston-Salem, NC.

We stayed at the Best Western Plus at Haynes Mall at 3320 Silas Creek Parkway.

The house that Nana lived in is at 1008 West End Blvd.

The house that Albert grew up in is Grommy's house at 1404 west 1st street.

Hanes Park is the park at the bottom of the hill we used to go to.

Uncle Bobby's house is at 7685 Fair Oaks Drive Clemmons, NC.

Here's a map that shows some of the places we went.

Sarah Lou Sutton - Albert Rufus Kiser
Catherine Kiser Oenbrink- Steve Oenbrink (Hannah)
Mary Margaret (Molly) Kiser Meeks - Mark Meeks (Hallye, Lilly, Sarah)
Robert Kiser (Jennifer Kiser)
Jonathan Kiser - Tatia Long (Jack, Caroline, Kate, Charlie)

Robert Bean Sutton, Jr (Uncle Bobby) - Vicky Sutton
Scott Sutton - Caryn Nowak Sutton (Robby)
Lisa Sutton Niemi - Mike Niemi

Margaret (Peggy) Sutton Wade - David Wade
Elise Wade Crawford - Gene Crawford (Anthony)
Carlysle Wade - Mary Rose McAdams Wade (Olivia, Mick, and Bobby)
Andrew Wade - Lori Wade (Not on Facebook)

Elsie Lou had:
3 children
9 grand-children
15 great-grand children(?)

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 3, 2017 at 4:29 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

August 2, 2017

Travel Plans for this week

Wednesday August 2nd, 2017
American Airlines FLT 682
Depart Denver 7:00 a.m. EDT
Arrive Charlotte 12:10 p.m. EDT

American Airlines FLT 5298
Depart Charlotte 1:10 p.m. EDT
Arrive Greensboro 1:54 p.m. EDT

Friday August 4th
American Airlines Flt 5165
Depart Greensboro 8:10 p.m. EDT
Arrive Charlotte 9:03 p.m. EDT

American Airlines Flt 1865
Depart Charlotte 10:10 p.m. EDT
Arrive Denver 11:41 p.m. MDT

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 2, 2017 at 6:49 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

August 1, 2017

The Fires of Hell (Tuesday)

Now, I should mention that we're working in Riverside, CA.

Yesterday, they didn't bring us coffee on Monday morning, and the lunch they brought us was a salad. So, I'm not a rabbit. So, that's not going to work.

We've had a problem with homeless people coming in and taking our food when it's out. The sort of pop inside the building and start munch9ng away like alley rats.

But, about a month ago, they got some security guards. Now, the security guards ride around the parking lot in a golf cart, and then come in and shake down the buffets for whatever they can take for lunch. I'm not really sure how this is any better, honestly.

All they did was legitimize what was previously a hustle/scam type of operation.

They just calcified the process. Set it in stone.

So, yesterday, we got a pretty weak meal. About 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon, the conversation grows to a dull roar. This is the climax of the day's activity. The crescendo. After this, the energy fades. People drift off. They slip away until, at 6:00 p.m., no one is left.

I wake up this morning after another sleepless night in the fiery pitts of hell that is Air BnB. The cunt that owns the place isn't there when I check in. I try to take a shower, the bathroom if filthy and the shower is full of thousands of sugar ants marching to god knows where.

I turn on the AC, because it's over 80F when I check in. In the middle of the night, a woman in another room turns off the air conditioning. I wake up in the fiery pits of hell that is Riverside, California on August 1st. This is Satan's birthday.

So, I turn on the AC and set it on 54F and go back to sleep.

In the morning, my slumlord messages me and says not to touch the AC any more, as her roommate woke up with a cold as she was so cold last night. I point out that it's just an old wives tale that being cold makes you catch a cold. And that, with the temperature hovering in the 70's / 80's all night, it's hard to imagine that it made her ill.

But far be it from me to impose on this bitch. So, at lunch, I go check out and tell her to refund my money.

Now, I call to check an see when Nana's funeral is and, for whatever reason, no one ever got back to me yesterday. Everyone is heading to North Carolina for the funeral, and I'm on the left coast. Fuck.

Like, I'd like to make it to the funeral. I have my own reasons for this. I look to see if I could fly round trip from Denver to Greensboro and back. I find a ticket that leaves tomorrow morning. That would do it. Then, I look to see if I can buy a one way ticket nonstop from Ontario to Denver today. There's the old 4:30 flight. It leaves in an hour. That would work. Then fly out tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. to Greensboro.

So, I have this sort of flight plan put together. I check the dates and times. Fuck it. I buy the two tickets. And now I head out. I'm packing up all of my shit at 3:20 p.m. on a Tuesday. I'm not even sure what day it is. I pack all of my shit and then I see I need gas so I go to the gas station and cut off a car that's about to fill up. I splash about 3 gallons in my tank as he's honking and dog-cussing me for all he's worth. I just ignore him.

Now, I'm flying down highwy 60 west. Lane-splitting at triple digits. LIke, I'm going to be the first person to die on the way to a funeral. OK, in reality, probably not. Probably I won't really die. Probably for real, other people have.

So, I'm just screaming out to the airport at 107 mph and come up behind a black an white SUV. Some sort of police vehicle. For sure. He has all the markings. I'm not sure what jurisdiction he's with, but he's a pig. Full on. For sure. I drop back, he exits onto I-15 and I'm wide open again. I start to think that maybe I'll make it.

Then, I roll up to the airport at Ontario, and park in my little spot right across from SouthWest.

I bust up into the airport to get my boarding pass at the ticket counter, because for some reason, the app didn't let me get a boarding pass. I'm about to jump over the counter. Like, my flight is about to start boarding right now. Hurry people.

Now, she gives me a boarding pass. (Pre-board). And the flight is delayed 30 minutes. Woohoo!!!!

So, now I have time to stop for an oreo milkshake at Carl's Jr. Yay!

So, I get my milkshake and go sit down at the gate, and I'm so stupid, I'm wondering why the plane isn't out there. Now, I'm looking at the tarmac wondering when the plane will roll up. Eventually, it dawns on me that we're royally fucked, so I go up to the gate and I ask her what the deal is.

The gate agent admits that they changed the departure time from 3:30 pm to 4:00 pm to 6:00 p.m. Apparently, the plane was in Las Vegas ready to push back, but it had a mechanical. So, they changed planes. Then, when all of the people got on the plane, the plane had too much fuel on it. So, they had to take fuel off of it. But, to take fuel off of it, they have to take the people off. So, they deboard the plane in Vegas, take fuel off of the plane, and then they reboard the plane. Now, we're waiting for them to push back from the gate, and then we have to see what place they're in to take off. Once they take off, it's up and down from Las Vegas to Ontario. Basically, you fly over the San Bernardino mountains and land.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 1, 2017 at 5:17 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink