Friday, 24 February 2017

By on February 24th, 2017 in personal, prepping

09:52 – It was 50F (10C) when I took Colin out this morning. Our high today is to be 68F (20C), but then a cold front comes through. The high tomorrow is supposed to be in the early morning, with snow coming in tomorrow evening. Today I’ll be working on taxes again. Barbara is at the gym this morning and volunteering for the Friends of the Library bookstore this afternoon.

There was a story in the paper yesterday about a 12-year-old girl in Winston-Salem who had died Valentine’s Day of the flu. A follow-on article this morning said the hospitals in Winston-Salem were limiting visitors to try to keep the flu from spreading.

Every time I read about flu deaths, I think about my mother’s mother. My mother was born just as WWI ended, which was a few weeks after the first cases of the Spanish Flu occurred in New Castle, PA. Pennsylvania as a whole was very badly affected by the flu, but Lawrence County was luckier than most of the state. Not that it seemed that way at the time to the people living there.

My grandmother told me what it had been like. Like most people, she was terrified, afraid to leave the house, literally. Afraid to stand on the front porch and talk to the next-door neighbors on their front porch. Afraid to touch the mail that was delivered to the box next to their front door. Afraid to use the tap water without boiling it. Afraid to walk to the grocery store across the street. Local businesses shut down, at first just the bars and restaurants and churches and other gathering places, but soon all of the businesses. Men no longer went to work because they feared bringing the contagion home with them. And through all of this, my grandmother was more than 8 months pregnant and ready to deliver her baby any time. And this amidst a pandemic disease that was selectively killing healthy people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s.

Fortunately, it being 1918, my grandmother, like most wives at the time, both urban and rural, had a very deep pantry of dry staples, commercial canned goods, and foods she’d canned herself. They lived exclusively on those stored foods for the first weeks following the arrival of the flu. They heated with coal, and had both electricity and oil lamps for lighting, so they really didn’t need to leave the house.

They didn’t know it at the time, but the flu came in waves. Within a few weeks of the first cluster of deaths, the authorities declared an end to the emergency, which unfortunately was premature. The flu returned at least twice more, killing more people each time. Eventually, people had to leave their homes, if only because they were running short of food. When they did go out, they stayed as far as possible from other people, and they wore face masks. The fear persisted into mid-1919, when my mother was 6 or 7 months old.

When my parents were first married, they moved in with my mother’s mother, where they lived until I was two years old. I remember my grandmother’s basement, which was filled with shelves packed with dry staples, commercial canned goods, and home-canned jars of food. Which in retrospect was understandable. My grandmother had lived through WWI, followed by the Spanish flu, followed by the Great Depression, followed by WWII, followed by the threat of being nuked by the Soviets. Is it any wonder that she was what nowadays would be called a prepper? Of course, back then pretty much everyone was a prepper. They had reason to be.

* * * * *

31 Comments and discussion on "Friday, 24 February 2017"

  1. lynn says:

    The Russians are trying to crack my software security today. This is getting old. Very old.

    > Sent From: unknown host on 176.15.43.129

    > This computer is located in: Moscow, 48, Russian Federation, 101194

  2. OFD says:

    I’ve had crack attempts on one of my email accounts and a phishing caper on another one, both originating in Ukraine. The first is a yahoo account and the second, gmail. No such attempts thus far on fastmail. I’m in the process of dumping the other accounts, and sticking with fastmail and a couple of offshore accounts behind VPN and firewall and run from Tor on Whonix, itself on a Linux machine, or via Tails.

  3. lynn says:

    I met an immigrant from Guatemala today. I have no idea how long he has been in the USA, I did not ask. Nor did I ask his status, I figure not my place. He left Guatemala when somebody burned his house down. He has a wife and three kids here.

  4. OFD says:

    Lots of bad chit has been happening in Guatemala for many years now. I suspect he had to get out in a hurry, probably illegal but maybe in some kind of authentic political asylum status. We don’t get just Mexicans across the border down there; trainloads come from other countries south of there.

  5. lynn says:

    We don’t get just Mexicans across the border down there; trainloads come from other countries south of there.

    The newest border crossing signs for illegals have Chinese on them:
    http://www.infowars.com/signs-posted-for-illegals-increasingly-written-in-chinese/

    ““Most people think that it’s just people from Mexico or Central America, but we get people from China, from Europe, from a whole bunch of different places,” Border Patrol Agent Joe Gutierrez told KRGV reporters not long after the apprehension.”

  6. OFD says:

    Gee, what a surprise!

    Anyone got a guess as to how many commie or musloid sleepers and cells have crossed that border over the last couple of decades? How many hardcore gangbangers?

  7. CowboySlim says:

    “How many hardcore gangbangers?”

    Like MS-13?

  8. OFD says:

    Yeah, like them.

    They’ve been known to come bebopping up 95 and 91 from the NYC area with merch for local dealer scum. Also Jamaicans.

  9. Dave says:

    A couple of interesting things regarding the Spanish Flu. It broke out during World War I, and was called the Spanish Flu, because only Spanish newspapers covered it because the other countries it affected had wartime news restrictions in effect that led to less newspaper coverage.

    Also Progressive Woodrow Wilson sent troops from affected bases to Europe anyway. All except for one base commanded by a Lt. Colonel Eisenhower. Can’t find confirmation from the Net, and don’t remember where I heard it, but makes sense.

  10. Greg Norton says:

    The Russians are trying to crack my software security today. This is getting old. Very old.

    I trust you have Fail2ban or something similar installed to kick them out for a while if they enter an incorrect password.

    The newest border crossing signs for illegals have Chinese on them

    The gummint probably prints one sign for beacons on both borders. Illegal Chinese are a problem coming from Canada, especially Vancouver BC.

  11. lynn says:

    The Russians are trying to crack my software security today. This is getting old. Very old.

    I trust you have Fail2ban or something similar installed to kick them out for a while if they enter an incorrect password.

    No, Fail2Ban would be for server security. The Russians have obtained a copy of my desktop software that we write and sell. They are using a special debugger to walk through the main executable and convert all of our password security into NOPs. We see this through the crash reporter that we have built into our software.

  12. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Do you have it time-bombed?

  13. SteveF says:

    I met an immigrant from Guatemala today. … He left Guatemala when somebody burned his house down. He has a wife and three kids here.

    I was to guess, I’d guess he’s lying. Either that or he’s a scumbag. Someone torched his house, so naturally the thing to do is run away and leave his wife and kids back where the danger is.

  14. lynn says:

    Do you have it time-bombed?

    No, I wish. Too many users with perpetual licenses running old versions.

    We used to time bomb. Until I spent a weekend fielding phone calls from angry users and pushing a new version to UCS, UCC, our inhouse Prime, and PC DOS. Was a long time ago.

    We do check against several internet clocks to make sure that the PC internal clock has not been rolled back. And several other items. But a hardware debugger is very hard to guard against.

  15. lynn says:

    I met an immigrant from Guatemala today. … He left Guatemala when somebody burned his house down. He has a wife and three kids here.

    I was to guess, I’d guess he’s lying. Either that or he’s a scumbag. Someone torched his house, so naturally the thing to do is run away and leave his wife and kids back where the danger is.

    The wife and kids are here. I could not tell if he has been here six days, six months, six years, or forever.

  16. OFD says:

    Well, here’s how the conversation should go:

    You: ¿Hola señor, como esta usted hoy?

    Him: ¡Vete a la mierda, gringo!

    You: ¿Tienes una tarjeta verde?

    Him: ¡Vete a la mierda, gringo!

    You: OK, señor, tengo la Patrulla Fronteriza en la marcación rápida!

    Him: Adios, gringo!

    And even if they pick him up, he’ll be back either the same day or the next day anyway. The southern border is the joke of the galaxy.

  17. SteveF says:

    He has a wife and three kids here.

    Bah. Reading comprehension fail. I blame global warming.

    (The real culprit is several long work weeks in a row. On the plus side, it looks like my contract won’t be terminated abruptly in the near future. I wasn’t doing a bad job of programming, but the requirements kept getting changed — that is, “clarified” — and the guy providing the data from the database delayed me by several weeks and result was that the user interface developers were being held up because my part was never right. It all boils down to all the delays being my fault on account of I’m a contractor and am the newest guy on the project. Several other contractors have been let go in the past few weeks but I pulled out a win at last. I also managed to slide a shiv between the business analyst’s ribs this afternoon by making a comment about a content- and context-free single line in the requirements becoming two weeks’ unscheduled work. The manager laughed, thinking it was a joke, but was then informed that it had actually happened. I’m not that BA’s favorite person in the world at the moment, but that’s ok because I’d happily watch her burn to death.)

  18. lynn says:

    I wasn’t doing a bad job of programming, but the requirements kept getting changed — that is, “clarified” — and the guy providing the data from the database delayed me by several weeks and result was that the user interface developers were being held up because my part was never right. It all boils down to all the delays being my fault on account of I’m a contractor and am the newest guy on the project. Several other contractors have been let go in the past few weeks but I pulled out a win at last. I also managed to slide a shiv between the business analyst’s ribs this afternoon by making a comment about a content- and context-free single line in the requirements becoming two weeks’ unscheduled work.

    I despise user requirements changing in the middle of the project when the timeline has been set and the pricing has been committed to.

  19. OFD says:

    If memory serves, and it often does not these days, this same BA was described by you a short while ago, and I thought, here cometh again, another bitch on wheels. Seen ’em, dealt with ’em, bought the tee shirt. Never or rarely to be found in the actual IT trenches and they’ll tell you straight up that they don’t need to know your job or the arcana thereof; they only need to manage you.

    I’ve also done the contractor thing, on and off over the years. Hired guns, very expendable. One of the long-time guys at IBM called us “cowboys.” Brought in to do some chit for a while, worked like donkeys, blamed for any bad chit that goes down, and dumped as soon as some PHB mangler decides to do so. My own manager/boss told me it worked the same for the permanent staff there; his boss and some other bosses could be out playing golf somewhere, and one of them might mention to his boss, gee, ya know, I don’t like that guy you got working for you. How ’bout if I make this next putt, you get rid of him. And my guy said, if he makes the putt, I’m gone, despite being here eighteen years.

    Meanwhile I’m still hanging on a Fed background check for a process that started last October, and probably doing that same contractor chit again, only this time with a wunnerful Top Secret clearance, so I can fix a printer or check firewall logs.

  20. SteveF says:

    If memory serves, and it often does not these days, this same BA was described by you a short while ago

    Not that I recall, but maybe. I’ve been more tired and more burned out than usual lately. If I mentioned a BA that outweighs me by at least 50 pounds and probably closer to 100, then yah, I mentioned her.

    (She does outweigh me by that much, and I ain’t no scrawny guy. I’m certainly over 220, probably under 240, based on how my clothes fit.)

    EDIT: And, now that I remembered the nifty Search widget up top, I see that I did indeed mention it 31 days ago, where “mention” means “bitch about”.

  21. SteveF says:

    And good luck on the background check. They take friggin forever. Ask me how I know!

  22. OFD says:

    Gee whiz, Mr. SteveF, how do you know??

    Mrs. OFD and I have heard from several sources independently that the Feds have a wicked backlog of background checks. Hell, by the time they finish mine, the position will probably have been eliminated anyway. I don’t even care at this point. If I never work again anywhere and she leaves her job for whatever reason, we could manage OK here. No luxury vacations or four-star restaurants but we wouldn’t be doing that chit even if we were millionaires. The big elephant in the room, and mainly for her, is health insurance, and now that I have my VA disability, she can piggyback off mine through some program or other; she has all the info.

    So we may be the last generation to be able to collect SS and VA disability but we both paid into both piggy troughs throughout our lives, one way or another, so whatever.

    Naturally we’ll both keep working at whatever else will bring in revenue, she with her jewelry and me with other stuff.

    And I’ll be off in about 40 minutes for the drive to the airport to pick up Mrs. OFD, returning from Charlotte, and home for an unspecified period of time, seeing as how she has at least one gig in March and also plans to travel to Kalifornia and Floriduh and back again with her 89-year-old mom. I’ll be holding the fort here per usual, and talking a lot with the cats and the dawg. And myself. Not to worry! It’s OK! I’m certified PTSD-disabled! No danger to anyone!

  23. Miles_Teg says:

    “I despise user requirements changing in the middle of the project when the timeline has been set and the pricing has been committed to.”

    Why? You’ve got a chance to jack up the price while at the same time you’ve got ’em by the balls. That’s the way outsourcing worked here in Oz.

  24. OFD says:

    And speaking of us generating more revenue here…

    …Mrs. OFD got the call today…

    …She will be on a future Jeopardy show.

    Better her than me; I’d only be halfway good in two or three categories and she can run the table. She’s also taken practice tests and games on a timer.

    Shit, I’ll have to dust off the tee-vee again and make sure all the cables are connected.

  25. lynn says:

    “I despise user requirements changing in the middle of the project when the timeline has been set and the pricing has been committed to.”

    Why? You’ve got a chance to jack up the price while at the same time you’ve got ’em by the balls. That’s the way outsourcing worked here in Oz.

    On our last development contract, the user requirements and the price had been set. I signed the purchase order from the contractor and started work. Then the sales manager comes in my office and says, “By the way, I promised the customer that we would implement the project in both USA and Metric dimensional units”. Literally doubled our time in the project. I fired the sales manager over this and other issues.

  26. SteveF says:

    Yep, been there. On one software development contract with a govt agency, the sales guy, desperate to make a sale and save his job, allowed the agency lawyer to change one little word in the contract after the company’s lawyer had approved the draft, then didn’t tell the company owner about the change. Totally screwed us over because the client didn’t have to pay until they wanted to, and they never seemed to want to. The sales guy was fired of course, and the owner looked at suing, but it came to nothing as the jerk didn’t have any assets and didn’t have any income.

  27. nick flandrey says:

    When I was with [big corp, owned by giant corp] I noticed that the sales guys got paid on the SALE price. OUR bonus structure was on profit. So one particular sales guy, in the .edu market mostly, would drop his shorts to get the deal, get paid, then tell us about all the “little things” we needed to do to actually get acceptance on the project. It was always “Come on, it’s just a little thing, we need to make this customer happy, blah blah blah.” And there goes all the profit on the job…

    Got to the point I could almost estimate what our overage was going to end up at.

    And there’s nothing like taking $40k in labor out of the budget spreadsheet to get the sale price down to where the customer needs it to be– without reducing the amount of WORK that needs to get done. That’s $40k you’re in the hole before you even start.

    Felchers, all of them.

    n

  28. SteveF says:

    I interviewed to be the lead developer for a manufacturing and installation company a few years ago. Most of the interviews went well and the VP and the HR/admin guy were very enthusiastic about my background and thoughts on how to handle the job, but the two salespeople were opposed to me getting it. Seems the salesturds would make any promise to get the sale and then the programming team had to move heaven and earth to make it happen — by next Friday, with no money budgeted, and to hell with any other commitments they were working on. The current lead dev was too young and junior to tell them No. When the salestoads brought the subject up in the interview, I firmly expressed that I wouldn’t be putting up with any of that crap — they’d have to schedule work with me and I wouldn’t be having the team do panic overtime unless money was coughed up.

    As you can guess, the salesliars didn’t like that at all.

    As you can guess, the VP and HR guy really liked hearing it. The software dev team had high turnover — ie, high cost to the company to replace them — because of unpaid overtime and burnout, and the delivered products were usually late and always buggy.

    Ultimately the candidacy foundered on money. Their offer would have had me taking a 40% pay cut and working longer hours than I was doing on the current contract. I’d have suggested scraping up the development money by reducing the salesfrauds’ compensation, but I didn’t think of it in time.

  29. OFD says:

    Wife here is excited about the Jeopardy show coming up; she’ll probably find out Monday when it is and other clan members will be in the audience out there, already clamoring to go. Me and my Yankee siblings down in MA will watch it on the tee-vee.

    Now she’s snoring away; exhausted from two weeks of gigs back-to-back, all the plane travel (constant delays and late), sitting in airports for two- and three-hour layovers, etc., etc.

    Off to the Land of Nod myself now…

    Pax vobiscum, fratres et vernis floribus et dulci somnia nebulosa pluvia, et massa a magna.

    Also, BUY MORE AMMO!

  30. Ray Thompson says:

    She will be on a future Jeopardy show

    Damn good news. You will need to provide us with the air date. I have always wanted to be on that show but am afraid I would get categories involving Greek Mythology, Obscure Operas, Chinese Cuisine, Follicle Follies, Famous Italian Artists, and Star Trek. I would run the one category and stand silent the rest of the time.

    Wife here is excited about the Jeopardy show coming up

    As she should be. As I said, let us know the air date. Whether she wins or not accolades for making to an actual taping of the show. That in and of itself is an amazing accomplishment.

  31. OFD says:

    She would run the table on the categories you mentioned, except maybe for Chinese Cuisine. I might do so with literature, history, and geography, and possibly if they included IT and firearms. Otherwise, like you, I’d be standing there gobsmacked and bored rigid.

    There. I got two Anglicisms together in once sentence.

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