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.

Around the Clock

I’m 40. I’ve been in aerospace engineering since I was 20, less that period of time that I try not to think about very much. It’s safe to say that I’ve been Doing This Shit for a while.

Regardless, I’m 40 and married with a dog, and I do shift work.

One of my now-former colleagues once told me (multiple times!), “When you do shift work, your family does shift work with you.” She was right — just ask my wife. You can also ask my dog, although all he’d really do if you came over tonight would be to bark like crazy until the police came, as you’d have set off the burglar alarm. Also, asking him is probably not going to be super-productive. You don’t speak Lucky.

I really like my job (even when it irritates the shit out of me). I just certified two months ago as a NASA Payload Operations Director, and I’m nearing the end of my burn-in period, which is a bit like hazing but with shift differentials and FERS contributions. This is my fourth (!) certificate at POIC, and I intend for it to be my last. We do important work, and I do all I can on every shift to try and make it fun.

That said, when your wife is away visiting family and your dog isn’t feeling well, midnight shifts are lonely and disconnecting. Tonight is shift 36 of 38 during my burn-in (yep, I’ve been in the control room pretty much every other day since 02-Jan), and I’m tired and really not feeling it. I think that we all have those days, but I find them a little harder when it’s 21:10L and I’m staring not being home again for another 10 hours.

If you’ll excuse me, I have a puppy who needs belly rubs.

Beginning again

“I should get back into writing on my blog. I need to prove that meeting my wife didn’t kill my blog.” [Really, it didn’t.]

“But I have so many things to write about, that I don’t know where to start.”

“I don’t blather on social media anymore. All those words have to be dammed up, right?”

“Damn right they’re dammed up. Again, I have too many thoughts to get out.”

“But I should write about something, right? Something to break the ice?”

“You tried that almost two years ago and it got you nowhere.”

“Hey, I wrote that one piece in September.”

“You’re proving your own point.”

“Cool. We’re not losing out to Wilson right now.”

“Are you going to engage with what Misty wrote?”

“You mean with …”

I’ve spent a lot of time with my fear. I call it by different names. Sometimes it looks like working on a different project. Sometimes it looks like cleaning up my studio space. Sometimes it looks like sitting on the couch watching tv and crocheting. Sometimes it looks like me spending too much time on social media. But there’s always an oozing puddle of fear languishing nearby waiting for me to fall in if I’m not paying enough attention to skirt it appropriately and do the scary task at hand.

My fear is always willing to tell me specifically that no one cares about what I have to say. That I will die in art obscurity because what I make is banal or laughable or unintelligible or all of those things. My fear is also pretty invested in moving the goal posts of whatever success I do gain so that I will get discouraged and quit.

“Yeah, go wrestle with that.”

“Okay, dude, but we’re about to go AOS.”

“A-O-What now?”

“Don’t be coy. You know that I fly the International Space Station now.”

“But they don’t know.”

“They do now. Oh, and it’s the only job that I’ve ever had that doesn’t have me with near-crippling imposter syndrome.”

“Oh, do you want to unpack that?”

“YOU ARE NOT MY THERAPIST, YOU ASSHOLE.”

Moving cTiVo-transferred movies into Plex-friendly folders with Hazel

I have had a TV for at least 15 years now — maybe 17, but it’s pretty fuzzy back there in my early 20s.  Anyhow, what I always wanted back in the day was a way to archive the shows that I was watching.  I have that now with cTiVo.  cTiVo will transfer files from your TiVo over your local network and then transcode them however you want.  The files can be quite large — the last one I transcoded tonight was 2.48 GB for a 85-minute movie — but I have far more storage space on the Drobos in my house than I do on the TiVo.

My wife’s family and mine love Plex, because we can share all sorts of things (home videos, photos, etc.) via the Internet!  It’s great to be able to share things with them, and sometimes that includes movies that we’ve made archival copies of videos we’ve recorded on our TiVo.

One of the really cool things that cTiVo does is Plex renaming.  The naming is rock solid for TV shows, it doesn’t create folders for individual movies.  You’ll end up with:

Plex / Movies / Say Anything (1989).mp4

That doesn’t exactly fit the Plex naming conventions for movies.  What to do?

Enter Hazel!  This took far too long for me to put together, but here’s what you need.

This is simple, but I hadn’t seen anything like it before, and the Noodlesoft fora go way deeper than the simple thing that I needed here.

(I recognize that I’m unbelievably neglectful of this space.  Sorry.  I’ll try to write more.)

Thoughts on #RaininJs

Production Quality Must Improve

Make the show a multi-ender

LoCeltics needs to be a multi-ender.  Jason Snell (2015) and Dan Benjamin (2008) have this topic well-covered; I include both here because the principles are the same even if the technology has changed.  Everyone must be making local copies, and then a smart person pulls them together at the end.

Microphones, microphones, microphones

I was on Liftoff #12 back in the day, and that recording sounds like crap is because I didn’t test my setup in time, so I chose to go with EarPods for recording.  Guess what?  It sounded so crappy, even with a local recording going, that they went with the Skype.  It’s awful, awful, awful, and I feel like I owe Jason and Stephen a beer for how bad that was.

The thing is, though, that I own a Blue Snowball and enough XLR-powered microphones to record everyone at my dining table.  Also, Jason heartily recommends a Blue Yeti in a post about podcasting equipment, and if I were going to start a podcast, I’d consider it.  (I’d probably end up with a TASCAM unit that brought in XLR microphones because I have them.)

If your core team — for LoCeltics, that would be John Karalis, Jay King, and Sam “Jam” Packard — are all locked on and ready to go with good microphones and local recordings that get pulled together at the end, you’re going to have a tighter-sounding podcast that will equal or exceed a radio show.

Get a producer (?)

I’m pretty sure that Karalis pulls the shows together, and that’s fine — host-led production is really common in the podcasting world because you already have someone who was in the room where it happened and has ears to what’s going down.  But an outside ear may help, too, and for two reasons:

Eliminating/reducing cross-talk and vamping

Simply put, the show could be tighter.  On the March 23, 2017 show, they vamped and vamped trying to get a final score on the Wizards game.  Guess what?  You can put the podcast on hold, wait five minutes, and break down the impact on the playoff seeding.  No one needs to know that you were recording during the games, nor that you didn’t record through the end of the Cleveland game.  Here’s how you could have done that.

  1.  Karalis (or Packard, but probably John) could have recorded a voice-over of each score after the games were done.  Simple.
  2. In the meantime, Karalis and Packard could’ve recorded little bits about each of the four scenarios — Cavs win, Wiz win; Cavs win, Wiz lose; Cavs lose, Wiz win; Cavs lose, Wiz lose — and speculated on what that means in terms of rest, lineup choices, etc.

The show leading up to the ending was really, really solid, and it just fizzled down the stretch like the C’s kicking away the Philly game last weekend.  (Note to Jay King: in this situation, you are not IT.)  I think that’s because John and Jam sacrificed the episode on the almighty deadline and working in real-time.  If you don’t want to wait for it, you can script it up ahead of time and put it together in post!  It’s not like you’re doing a real-time radio show, and anyway, the goal is to put those Felger and Mazz assholes out to pasture.

Non-host producers can keep the team organized

Reasons like:

  1. Say that a host doesn’t know a stat — he can ask for it and wait for the producer to get it while collecting his thoughts for a riff based on that factoid.  The producer can note the time hacks for the request and the response and cut out the wait time.  Let the producer make you look smarter.
  2. A non-host producer can keep you on-topic and help you be smooth.  Run a text chat behind the scenes with a large font delivering short messages and you’ll be fine.
  3. Non-host producers can feed breaking news and monitor social media.
  4. Non-host producers can also help with topic ideas / segments (Magical Mystery Machine, #jamjunkdrawer, etc.) and lining them up before the show.

Obviously, a non-host producer is going to be expensive in a number of ways, not all of them monetary.

Recording Schedule

You can’t call yourself the best daily Celtics podcast if you don’t record on weekends; because the teams play on the weekend, you need to be there.  But this brings me to another point.

Add one or two more voices, schedule them, and do crossovers with other LO podcasts

The NBA season is lined up well in advance, so plan accordingly: two-host shows every day, three-host shows when you can, and cross-over shows — either one or two hosts going at it with a host (or maybe two) from another LO podcast before, say, a big and/or rivalry game.  This keeps the show fresh, and if you do that you’re going to have more downloads and stop having your ads be for another podcast and damn car parts.

The other thing that scheduling hosts does is that you allow fans to know what to expect.  John teased an interview that Jay has coming with Millyz for the Friday show.  I love that stuff!  Give me a reason to be in tuned.

The boys have to decide if they want to keep on being the #5 seed or be the #1.  I think they’re going to be the #1.

Told you that I’d let you pick my brain, Jay.