8 Years

As most of you may have noticed, I haven’t really been on here much lately. I’m not going to make any promises, but I will tell you that I’ll try to make more of an effort to post stuff on here. Only time will tell if I’m successful or not.

Speaking of time, though, I received a notification from WordPress last week that I just passed my 8 year anniversary with them. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been coming to this here blog for that long. A lot has changed in that time. I’ve changed jobs. My daughter was born. My wife and I bought our house. I’ve published two books, while working on several others.

It’s odd that 8 years seems to have gone by so fast, especially when every day at work feels like an eternity.

No matter how much of those 8 years that you’ve been here, I want to thank you for being a part of this place. You’ve made those years memorable. Thank you.


Pay Attention to Your Companions

The title of this post is good advice in general. Whether those companions be friends, family, or coworkers, it’s generally a good idea to pay attention to them. It’s an even better idea if the companion in question is a significant other. Then, not only is it a good idea, it’s a necessity.

I’m not referring to any of those people, though.

No, the companions I’m talking about are the characters that video games give you to help the main character complete their quest. Generally, these companions come in RPG style games, which are the ones I tend to gravitate towards. And, as anyone who has played these types of games before can tell you, those companions can be the difference between beating the game or giving up in frustration.

Recently, I found out that I did not pay nearly enough attention to my companions.

I’m playing through Dragon Age: Inquisition again. I’ve already beaten it, but I’m playing it on the Xbox One this time around instead of the 360. There is some DLC available for the One that I couldn’t get for the 360. So, at least there will be some new content for me during this playthrough.

I went to fight one of the game’s dragons. This is where I learned that I had spent too much time focused on the main character and not enough time on his companions.

About 15 seconds into the fight, every single one of my three companions was dead. Somehow, through luck (and using every potion in my inventory) I was able to defeat it by myself…. barely. Had it not been one of the weaker dragons in the game, I probably wouldn’t have been able to.

After the fight, I went to my inventory and looked at the weapons and armor they were equipped with. It wasn’t even close. The equipment for my main character was much, much better than theirs. It was as if I was wearing steel plate armor and they were wrapped in toilet paper.

Needless to say, I have made more of an effort to upgrade their gear. Since then, I have fought, and killed, a couple more dragons and my companions have fared a lot better.

Hopefully, you learn from my mistakes and pay attention to your companions. Otherwise, the next ass the dragon fries might be yours.

Following Orders

On Friday, I was sent an email by the head man of the company my company contracts with. He told me that he wanted me to send a particular radio to their offices in Mexico. Getting emails asking me to ship stuff is nothing new or out of the ordinary. What was out of the ordinary was that the package was going to Mexico.

Let me explain why that’s out of the ordinary.

About 2 years ago, I shipped something to Mexico that got held up in customs for reasons that were not really explained to me. Because of this outrageous offense, we were told that we weren’t allowed to ship to Mexico anymore. That was fine with me. Less work that I have to do.

So, when that email came in on Friday, I found it a little odd. I was actually going to question it until one of my managers, who was CC’d in on the email, responded to it. Now, any package being shipped internationally requires specific paperwork in order to get through customs. I’m not allowed to fill this paperwork out because I’m not a manager. She is. And her email response contained an attachment with the customs paperwork.

Since both of them seemed ok with the shipment, I went ahead and did it.

Apparently, that was wrong…

The package once again got held up in customs. I got a new email from Mr. Head Man today asking for a copy of the shipping label on the box so he could try to identify the problem. Because it shipped out already on a different day, it wouldn’t let me reprint the label, so I sent him a report that the software did let me print. My team lead, who wasn’t included in the original thread but was on this one, voiced my original concerns and said that he thought we weren’t allowed to ship to Mexico. Mr. Head Man responded with, “Well, then why did you ship it?”

As Cloud would say, “….”

At this point, I was doing my best to keep my inner Samuel L. Jackson from escaping. It was extremely tempting to go to his office and yell, “Because you told me to, MOTHERFUCKER!” I need my job, however, so I stopped myself.

My team lead, to his credit, replied with my response, minus that last word of course.

Now, instead of admitting that he played some part in what happened, Mr. Head Man told us that we needed to put measures in place to prevent something like this from happening again.

Yes, you read that correctly. He said that we needed to put measures in place to prevent something like this from happening again. The tool conveniently forgot that the only reason I did it in the first place was because HE TOLD ME TO!!!!!

I have no problem getting bitched at when I’m the one who screws up. So, for example, if I had sent that package to Australia instead of Mexico, go ahead and chew me out the whole day.

But don’t come bitching at me because you screwed up.

It Whispered

He looked around.

Everyone was going about their business like normal. None of them gave the slightest indication that they had heard anything, but he swore he did. The voice was low, almost inaudible. He knew he heard it, though.

There is was again.

This time, he jumped. It was louder, more insistent. The words came in clearer, but he still couldn’t decipher all of them. The voice still wasn’t loud enough. There were some words he knew he heard. Because he didn’t know what the rest of them were, he couldn’t be sure what it meant. Nothing good could come from them.

It spoke to him a third time. No more than a whisper, but he heard all the words in this one. They were horrifying. He couldn’t believe what they were saying. They bid him to do something bad. Very bad. Something that would hurt not only him, but those around him as well.

He wouldn’t do it.

He pushed the thought out of his head and focused on what he was doing. The whispers persisted, however. Every time he thought they were gone, he’d hear it again. It was slightly annoying, but he kept it mostly at bay. Then, slowly, the whispers intensified. They grew closer together and kept up until the whispers were all he heard.

His focus tried to remain on his task, but eventually the whispers drowned it out. Sweat began beading on his forehead. The muscles in his body clenched. Inside, he raged against the voice. He told it to go away. He told it to leave him alone. He told it to bother someone else.

It didn’t listen. It whispered more.

He couldn’t take it anymore. The whispers were driving him crazy. Finally, he gave in. He would do what the voice told him to do.

He slowly unclenched one of his muscles and it happened.

It was silent at first. Then, as more escaped, it grew louder and louder. His eyes darted around the room and he found that everyone was now looking at him. With the secret gone, he completely unclenched and the remainder of his flatulence erupted from his body.

It was loud. It kind of hurt. It kind of made him feel a little better.

Well, it did until he looked at the shocked and disgusted expressions on the faces of his coworkers. He tried to think of something he could say or do to make it better. Instead, the smell hit him like punch to the face. He immediately started to gag. His mind raced furiously to try to remember what he’d eaten. It didn’t matter. Whatever it was, it had died at least three more times in his stomach.

He wiped the water from his eyes and saw that the breakroom was now empty. He had cleared the room. A smile formed on his face.

Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.