LCDR Desmond Walker on Ugo Naija’s Pass Your Limit Podcast

I heartily enjoyed my MSMS senior’s appearance on Pass Your Limit. Desmond Walker is a hard-grinding man, a mustang, an inspiration, and aware that he has flaws. I lived across the hall from Desmond my junior year — 2E4L!!! — and felt nothing but love for that whole year.

I can remember a couple of times being obviously-down at our nightly room check (yep, we had a curfew), and he’d just … talk to me. School, life, whatever. Nothing long, nothing drawn out … just being a fellow human being. He was always easy to talk to and fun to be around. We were the only majority-minority hallway in the dorm that year, and that was a good learning experience.

It’s worth a listen to see how a college-prep kid would decide to enlist in the Navy, work his way through the ranks, get a degree and a commission, a master’s degree, and is now working on an MBA while, you know, sitting on the CDR select list and preparing to take command of a ship.

Topics covered: developing and revising a career plan, focusing on intermediate goals, naval politics, race relations, thinking about our history through a lens of understanding that we see things through a different lens, growing up in the Delta, and more.

If for no other reason, stick around to the end to see who got to tell Desmond that he was on the commander’s list. I nearly passed out.

January 2020 Resolution: Returning to Semi-Weekly Budget Check-ins

WHEREAS I had this really cool system for checking on the state of my finances on very regular intervals, and

WHEREAS for unknown reasons I abandoned it in 2019, (probably because I let my job eat my time), and

WHEREAS this is a quite-achievable task for me to begin anew, and

WHEREAS it will just be easier to start with a list of accounts and start with them at their most recent 2020 statements,

THEREFORE, LET IT BE HEREBY RESOLVED that:

  1. I create a new database in Banktivity (my app of choice) for our personal finances by no later than 5-Jan 2020.
  2. I will review and update this financial outlook every Tuesday and Friday. (I used to do Sunday/Wednesday, and that proved to be awful because we get paid on Fridays, so I would just shrug my shoulders.)
  3. I will not stress out over the values in my Thrift Savings Plan or Individual Retirement Account.

Pareto or Monte Carlo analyses of this are outside the scope of this resolution. Also, we don’t have to worry about government shutdowns until October.

The Return of Monthly Resolutions

I saw an acquaintance list dozens of goals today for 2020, some of which weren’t really goals. Back in 2006 and 2007, I did monthly resolutions. This brief interaction sparked me to return to the monthlies. It was a good process, mostly, even if my success rate was pretty low. I haven’t done New Year’s resolutions in a while, so this might be a good change.

The cool thing about a new year is that we get Day 01. Well, both my wife and I were born on the first of the month. (It’s one of the many fun things that we share.)

So let’s start anew, shall we?

Lastly, to mid-2000s me: I’m by no means perfect now, but boy were you a Grade A fuck-up back then. I’m glad you grew up a little.

Lies, runarounds, and broken furniture: my experience with 1stopbedrooms

The below is verbatim what I wrote in a review just now. I might still have a little Google-juice left here in the old blog.

Our experience was disastrous. Let me count the ways:

  1. We got good status updates … that were lies. We were told that all of the furniture would be delivered to the white glove/final mile vendor by 11/9. They got it on 11/22.
  2. The one item that was shipped via FedEx (a shoe cabinet) was received quickly. It was a piece of crap. Chipboard furniture with threaded holes going into the end grain must, must, must have pilot holes in it. This did not. It’s crap. 1stopbedrooms didn’t seem to care about my complaints with the build quality.
  3. If built with the holes provided, the doors do not fit. I was asked to provide photos. I provided photos and a video! It’s a tolerance stack-up issue. New doors were sent.
  4. New doors fit as poorly as the old doors. When I complained and asked for a new kit, I was asked for photos. Really?
  5. The last mile vendor overbooked the delivery and said that a final inspection that morning had damaged some hardware, which they replaced. Hmmm . .. they got a replacement in four days from an order that had taken six weeks to get done. The lead guy in the moving crew today told me this.
  6. The last mile vendor did a good job loading some very heavy furniture. The table had an obviously- and poorly-filled gouge in the top on one end. We accepted this because, you know, we were a month late getting our furniture and, you know, IT’S THE HOLIDAYS AND WE HAVE FAMILY COMING IN FIVE DAYS. So we sucked it up.
  7. The white-glove/last mile folks had completely insufficient tools to assemble a bunk bed. My wife provided tools and assistance. The assembly isn’t right, and we’ll be making fixes in the coming days.
    This was a DISASTER, and we will not only never order from these folks again, but we’ll actively push people away from doing so. STAY AWAY FROM 1stopbedrooms!!!

Alpha Delta Delta

Me: “I think I have adult onset attention deficit disorder.”

Shrink: “Why do you say that?”

Me: (long stream of sideways conscious thought about how I always chalked it up to my mental illness, but now that we’ve mostly stripped that away, — SQUIRREL!)

Him: “Okay, we can do something about that.”

Me: “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna Tom Cruise this chair and demand pills.” (Note, I didn’t say this at the time, but man, that would’ve been funny as hell.)

Him: “We’ll give you some testing.” It’s called TOVA. I can guess the acronym. I can guess how it’s designed. (I took enough Design of Experiments and Statistical Quality Control in the fourth time I did graduate school before failing out to make those semi-educated guesses.)

Me: “Cool.” (This is the first test that I’ve ever wanted to fail.)

Real talk: sometimes I think that I like real-time console operations because it narrows the option set and gives me just enough of a juice to focus my mind. (Cue my old boss nodding slowly.)

(Cue my nine long-time readers nodding less slowly.)

Knology/WOW Still Kinda Sucks

I was testing the cache on this here site — I’m working on a passive soak, thanks — and I found this entry that I ended with, “Fuck Knology”. Yeah, that’s about right. I never did much with the DSL modem, though — I had both running for a while, but the DSL modem was flaky (yep, BellSouth/AT&T sucked, too). Admittedly, this was 13 years ago, when the reliability of these things generally vacillated between “hold your mouth right and it’ll work” and “held together with broomsticks, bailing wire, and chewing gum”.

[These kinds of folksy sayings are lost upon my Yankee wife. She just looks at me when I say them. City girls.]

That said about WOW: the impolite fiction of open competition in last-mile telecommunications allows them to maintain a footprint and a market share. The only competitors on my street — in a neighborhood with houses built in the last decade — are Over-the-Air TV and AT&T’s fiber Internet + U-Verse offerings. The AT&T stuff is new in the last two years. Bi-directional high-speed internet would be awesome, but I know I’d loathe U-Verse. TiVo is actually sorta innovating again, and I want to ride the wave as long as I can. (I <3 cTiVo.)

That Job Actually Didn’t Last Long

Remember when I was super-excited about being back in aerospace after 1,508 days gone? That job lasted four months. I didn’t really talk about it back then, but it’s true. That was a fun job, actually, although I was under-utilized — either because I didn’t hawk the work hard enough or because the project manager was incompetent. (You may choose 2 draw whichever conclusion you like.)

What was the job? I supported the development of a second glovebox for the International Space Station. What’s a glovebox? That’s a great question! How about letting Dr. Peggy Whitson tell us!

We now have two gloveboxes on ISS. One is the venerable Microgravity Science Glovebox, shown above; the other is the Life Sciences Glovebox, which is still in its shakeout phase. You can see Lee Jordan and Yancy Young about why we have two now.

NASA Marshall (where I work) wanted to take a ground unit of the MSG and fly it to ISS. Changes to that scope at the program level saw us finish out the partially-complete LSG and fly it to orbit for assembly. I was on the team of people helping to make that trade study into a reality. Marshall really wanted that work, spending engineering funds to do it. Sadly, it didn’t go the way we wanted, and the funds that we paying me dried up before we could get to executing the LSG project. The week before Thanksgiving, I was out the door.

That job’s ending just set the stage for me to start working in ISS payload operations a few weeks later. Less than two years later, I was operating MSG in addition to other duties. Now, less than two years after that, I was the Payload Operations Director on console for some LSG troubleshooting, which amused me greatly.

But the ops story is best told in a small series of anecdotes…

Why I Dropped Off of Social Media

This is not some think-piece about why you should do as I did or any such shit as that. People have a right to spend their time and energy however they want. I totally get why my mom spends a lot of time on Facebook, and I think that it’s a net positive for her.

With that said, I canned my two major social media streams, Facebook and Twitter, in 2018. For both, the shortest rationale is the benefits that I drew from participating in each medium were outweighed by the frustrations that they caused me. Social media has been a boon for disadvantaged/suppressed communities to have a way to find each other, and as long as that attraction is for a positive end, I think that’s fucking awesome.

Facebook

I got tired of the pettiness, the stalking, the willingness to be nasty and combative about whatever you disagree about, and the desire to be showy. All of those things just reflected back to me each of those various shitty behaviors. Leaving let me not amplify them.

Twitter

Twitter just soaked up all the time that I would give it. It was often fun — I actually knew over half of the people that I consistently followed from non-Twitter environments — but the outrage machine just didn’t need to be fed that much. Couple that with the company’s inability or unwillingness to combat abuse problems — striking down the concept that muting Twitter is a freedom of speech violation, and not taking the Pinterest approach to “freedom of reach” — and I was just done.

In both cases, I really did just up and leave both platforms. I said it, I did it, and I haven’t looked back. I never tried to keep Facebook from deleting my account, and I didn’t create a new Twitter account. [I still have three that support side projects. I don’t stay logged in to any of them.]

Instead

Instead, to be honest, I just play a shit-ton of tower defense games. I do it to clear my head. I do it to kill time. I do it to procrastinate. I’m still processing why this was the result, but I guess the only person that I’m pissing off with this crappy behavior is my wife. This is not a net positive exchange.

Do what you want

Go and Internet how you will. But for fuck’s sake, I’m not going to like and follow back.