I goatse what you did there.

Click to embiggen

Back to the office — sorta — with beard intact.

My employer is easing back into having folks coming into the office starting this week. We’ve had some people coming in during the entire work-at-home period because when you’re an engineer making brake and suspension systems for cars there’s just some stuff that can’t be done at home, but it’s been maybe a dozen or so folks. However, now there’s enough people showing up that the I.T. department feels some on-site presence by us is warranted. So, for the immediate future, I’m working from home on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and I’ll be in the office for at least a half-day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My counterpart is in on Mondays and Wednesdays. If things are busy then I’ll stay the whole day, otherwise I head home at lunch and finish out the day remotely. This also gives me an opportunity to work on things that can’t be handled remotely as well such as the new laptop I’m staging for one of the groups this morning. They’ve armed me with Purell, Clorox disinfecting wipes for wiping down equipment that comes in, and rubber gloves so I should be good to go.

The one thing I wasn’t happy about with this is the fact that I’d probably have to shave my beard as the standard face masks don’t work well if you, like me, have a full beard. My mother-in-law made us a bunch of cloth face masks to use, but she had to use rubber hair bands for the ear loops because all the shops were sold out of elastic straps. The face masks are just small enough that the hair bands won’t stay on my ears. My ear folds over under the stress of the bands and off it comes. Additionally, they also wouldn’t work properly unless I shaved my beard.

My cubemate ended up coming to my rescue by not only finding a pattern for a face mask that includes a beard pouch to stuff my beard into, but someone to actually make one for me. Here it is in all its glory:

Les models a patriotic looking beard pouch face mask.
You patriotic looking bastard, you!

It’s going to take some practice before I can put it on quickly as I’m still figuring out how to stuff my beard into the pouch. It has some elastic around the top of the pouch to help hold it to my face and that’s a little itchy and I’m not quite able to get ALL of my beard behind it (as you can see) but this covers more than any of the other masks I’ve tried and fits pretty well. It even has a sleeve inside for putting in replaceable filters for some extra protection.

Interior detail of beard pouch face mask.
An inside view. You can see the insert sleeve in the pic above along with the elastic band around the pouch.

I don’t know the name of my beard savior, but I want to thank them all the same so I’ll make sure to pass it along via my cubemate. I’ll have to take this home every night and wash it, but that’s a small price to pay to keep my beard. If the whole coronavirus thing continues on for as long as some folks are thinking it will then I may have to hunt her down and pay her to make me four or five more. Maybe get some with patterns from Hawaiian shirts on them! Yeah!

Adventures in home ownership, part 34.

Our bathtub backed up again. It’s done this every few months since we moved in. It went longer than usual this time, but finally stopped draining altogether. Normally I can use the plunger on it a few times and get it going again, but not this time.

I pulled out the drain snake I had on hand, took the drain cover off and tried to feed the snake in. It wouldn’t go more than a quarter inch. Doesn’t feel like it’s hitting a clog so much as a wall. Turning the handle does nothing. It’s clearly nowhere near the clog. Huh, maybe it’s too big to get past the mechanism for stopping the drain when you want to bathe? I had a similar problem trying to get it down the bathroom sink drain the last time that one stopped up.

Did some Googling. Turns out that, yeah, this snake is probably too big. What the hell would I know? I work in I.T. for Chrissakes. Out to the local Home Depot I go. Find a flat snake specifically for bathroom sinks and tubs. I also picked up a “Power Plunger” that uses CO2 cartridges to clear clogs because a couple of previous backups earlier using a compressed air plunger was the only thing that would clear it. I’m slightly worried I’m going to blow my pipes apart, but I’ll try the new snake first.

Get home and tried to insert the new, smaller, flatter, snake into the tub drain. Again, barely goes anywhere. Clearly not to a clog of any kind. OK, time to break out the CO2 plunger. Set it up, pressed down, FWOOSH and the drain starts sucking down water like an alcoholic at an open bar. I ran downstairs to see if it was pouring into my basement because, like I said, slightly worried I would blow my pipes apart. I can hear the water flowing through the drainpipes and there are no signs of leakage. Yay me!

As the water clears from the tub, I can see down into the drain and I notice that it doesn’t go down very far at all and I don’t see an S bend like I would expect to. More Googling and I learn that I probably have a trip lever with plunger assembly like the one pictured to the right. Except the shoe on mine (the 90-degree angle pipe directly under the grate) is especially shallow.

Now, I’m no plumber, but it seemed clear to me that even the new snake I had purchased wasn’t going to be much use for this so it’s a good thing I bought the CO2 power plunger. This also explains why it seems to get clogged every 5 to 6 months. The house was built in 1959 and has had more than one renovation done in that time. The main bathroom and the master bedroom’s half-bath sit right next to each other and have a door connecting them. The basement is finished with a drop-down ceiling which makes trying to find the pipes to look at more of a challenge than I’ve been able to motivate myself to undertake.

Still, I’m learning and slowly amassing a set of tools that, one day, might be appropriate to the problem I’m having. As of the first of May I have officially been a homeowner for three years and have, so far, managed to not completely wreck the joint. I’ve not exactly improved it much, but I haven’t wrecked it. It’s a low bar, but one I’m happy to be clearing.

COVIDIOTS in Australia smash their TVs to send a message to Mainstream Media.

As if to prove that America doesn’t have a lock on Right-Wingers destroying their own property to “own the Libs”, Australia’s own COVIDIOTS have stepped up to “send a message” to the Mainstream Media that they’re not going to take their fake news any longer.

TAKE THAT! EXPENSIVE ELECTRONICS I PAID GOOD MONEY FOR AND WHICH COULD BE USED FOR OTHER THINGS THAT AREN’T MAINSTREAM MEDIA!

You got it all in this one: The people who smash computer monitors or smartphones instead of their TV because they don’t know the difference, the shotgun to the screen followed by a spear, the kitchen meat tenderizer, a pick axe, various hammers and sledges and so on. I do like how several of them took the time to explain that the TV they were smashing was, indeed, a “tell-a-vision” so we knew that they were smashing a TV because, you know, we might not be smart enough to know what it is just by looking at it. I also found it interesting how many of them sounded like they were reading — badly — from a prepared script and at least one dude showed that he was.

As with past protests by the Right where they destroy expensive stuff such as Nike shoes (over their deal with Colin Kaepernick) and Keurigs (after they pulled ads from Sean Hannity’s FOX show), I fully endorse this and hope they continue. In fact, I hope it spreads (like a virus!) to the COVIDIOTS here in America as maybe it’ll get them away from FOX News for a bit.

This latest bit of Conservative stupidity didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter:

So take heart American Conservatives! You’re not alone in your journey of destroying stuff you paid good money for to own the Libs!

What’s that? No, we’re totally not laughing at you. We know you’re very serious and we would never giggle at you. We all feel horribly “owned” by your actions. Go ahead, do it some more!

I am in Facebook Jail. Again.

Memes are a dangerous business. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a major shit post on Facebook of memes I’ve come across every few days or so knowing that most of the folks who follow/friend me over there won’t see half of them at first unless they go straight to my profile (which there’s at least a couple folks I’m sure do just that). This way you’ll see “new” stuff from me for a few days to come as I don’t necessarily hangout on FB every day. Plus, I find them to be amusing enough to share.

I have discovered, however, that there is one category of meme that will land you in Facebook Jail — unable to post new content, comment, or even Like other people’s posts and comments — if you dare to post it to your wall. What is this forbidden content? Anything that mocks Nazi Germany. For example, stuff like this:

The knee-highs are a nice touch.

Clearly this is a meme that mocks Hitler, but within five minutes of sharing it to my wall Facebook popped up a notice that my post had been removed because THIS POST GOES AGAINST OUR COMMUNITY STANDARDS! As punishment I wouldn’t be able to share anything for twenty-four whole hours. Apparently, mocking Hitler in shorts is something Facebook just can’t abide. Facebook’s notification at least made it clear that this decision was made by the algorithm they have in place that scans all content uploaded for objectionable content and they gave me the option to Dispute This Decision which would prompt a human to take a look at it and possibly reverse the strike. I clicked Dispute and was helpfully informed that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were short staffed, and it was possible no one would ever get around to looking at my complaint.

Fine, whatever. I let it go and moved on with my life. That was a few weeks ago. Then, yesterday, I shared this meme which I thought was funny:

The one I shared didn’t have the additional text at the bottom.

I suppose I could see how this one might be construed to be supportive of Nazism, but that’s really stretching it. (See what I did there?) Again, within five minutes Facebook popped up their message about removing the post because how dare I mock Nazis and just for that, young man, you won’t be able to post, like, comment, etcetera. Ah, but since I didn’t learn my lesson last time, THIS time it would be for three whole days! At first, I thought it was just another 24-hour ban. I didn’t find out it was for three days until I absentmindedly tried to like something using the app on my phone and that’s when I found out it was for 3 days.

Which brings up a side point of how differently an experience Facebook is between the web interface and the smartphone app. I do most of my meme shit posting using the web interface as it’s a lot easier to do mass postings with. In fact, most of the time I’m on FB it’s through the web application on my desktop/laptop. I use the app only when I’m away from my other machines (bathroom reading, etc.). One of the reasons why is because when I share news items, I can easily include the original entries’ post instead of having to write something up myself and the smartphone app does not have this option. It’s interesting that the smartphone app does a better job of telling you how long you’re in FB jail than the web interface.

Anyway, I’ve again disputed this ruling and maybe someone will look at it this time since it’s a longer ban, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m not sure if there’s a limit to how many times you can end up in FB jail before they just outright delete your account, but I may find out sooner or later at the rate I’m going. From what I’ve read, FB jail can last up to 21 days so I would guess that the automated bans just keep getting longer and longer.

It is possible to trigger a post removal without a ban too. As I found out when I shared this after Trump suggested people could be injected with disinfectants to “clean” them of COVID-19:

Now in grape flavor!

Instantly that triggered a popup that said, “This post goes against our Community Standards on misinformation that can cause physical harm.” and the post was removed, but I wasn’t put in FB jail. Which is interesting because you’ve probably seen this same image all over comments on Facebook.

Apparently, it’s OK to use the image in a comment, but if you try to share it as a post on your wall it’s gonna get yanked. Which seems like a double standard to me especially when FB had absolutely no problem with me sharing this:

Meanwhile, memes I thought for sure were going to get me banned for being too sexualized or offensive like this one:

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Foreplay in 2020'

Or this one:

Image may contain: 2 people, possible text that says 'Nothing says family fun better than spongebob jerking off on your kids kids in the pool..'

This:

Or even this:

This:

Surely this will do it:

All appear to be in compliance with Facebook’s Community Standards and are still viewable on my wall. I shit post a lot and this is only a small sampling of the memes of questionable good taste I’ve found too funny not to share. None of the stuff I thought would get me in trouble has been an issue and two memes I thought for sure wouldn’t be a problem absolutely were.

The only conclusion I can reasonably draw from this experience is that Facebook really loves Nazis and considers them a protected class. You mock them at your own peril. Naked angels demanding to have their ass eaten is A-OK, but don’t you ridicule a Nazi. I suppose that’s fair given what happened when Adolf was told he was a shitty painter. Don’t want that sort of thing happening again, eh?

Oh, and if you’re thinking of trying to share this entry on Facebook on my behalf then know this is what you’ll see if you do:

Let’s do a stupid Facebook list thingy.

I’ve been meaning to post something for awhile now, but between working from home and the fast pace of news I’ve just not been able to compose my thoughts. So instead I’m doing one of those stupid “How Many X Things Have You X’ed” lists that make the rounds on Facebook. Only I’m doing it here so I’ve at least posted something. Feel free to play along in the comments.

Photo of old TV set.
Source: Rene Asmussen

You never realize how much/little TV you watch until you fill this out. Put a ✔ by the shows you have watched more than 10 episodes of. How about you?

1. Grey’s Anatomy:
2. Stranger Things: ✔
3. The Vampire Diaries:
4. The Walking Dead:
5. Fear The Walking Dead:
6. Dexter: 
7. American Horror Story:
8. Orange is the New Black:
9. A Million Little Things:
10. This is Us:
11. The Simpsons:  ✔
12. New Amsterdam:
13. Manifest:
14. How To Get Away With Murder:
15. Breaking Bad:
16. Sons of Anarchy:
17. Scandal:
18. Riverdale:
19. The Good Doctor:
20. House of Cards:
21. Once Upon a Time:
22. House: ✔
23. True Detective:
24. Dr. Pimple Popper:
25. Power:
26. Empire:
27. One Tree Hill: 
28. Supernatural:
29. Family Guy: ✔
30. Santa Clarita Diet:
31. Shameless:
32. Pretty Little Liars:
33. Secret Life of an American Teenager:
34. Bones:  ✔ *
35. Criminal Minds: 
36. The 100:
37. Chicago Fire:
38. Chicago Med:
39. The Resident:
40. Game of Thrones:
41. The Big Bang Theory: ✔
42. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
43. Lost:
44. The Sopranos:
45. NCIS: ✔ †
46. NCIS Los Angeles: 
47. NCIS New Orleans: 
48. Law & Order SVU: 
49. Gossip Girl: 
50. How I Met Your Mother:
51. Blue Bloods:
52. Two Broke Girls:
53. The Office:
54. Blacklist: 
55. Full House:
56. Fuller House:
57. Downton Abbey:
58. Hawaii Five-O:
59. Big Mouth:
60. Last Man Standing:
61. Six Feet Under:
62. Wentworth:
63. Friends:
64. That 70s Show:  ✔
65. Girlfriends Guide to Divorce:
66. Heartland:
67. All-American:
68. Greek:
69. Yellowstone:
70. Better Call Saul:
71. You:
72. Rescue Me:
73. Scrubs:
74. Community:
75. Letter kenney :
76. Kitchen nightmares :
77. The Masked singer:
78. Robot Chicken: ✔
79. Vikings:
80. Mind Hunters:
81. New Girl:
82. The Good Place: ✔
83. Black Mirror: ✔
83. Lucifer: ✔
84. Peaky Blinders:
85. iZombie:
86. Parks and Rec:
87. Brooklyn 99:
88. Handmaid’s Tale:
89. Modern Family:
90. Smallville:
91. Seinfeld:
92. Gilmore Girls: 
93. Charmed: ✔ *
94. Private Practice:
95. Lost Girl:
96.True Blood:
97. Roswell:
98. Haven: ✔
99. Mad Men:
100. Arrow:
* Not by choice, but because someone else was watching it and I couldn’t be bothered to find something else to do.
† This is the only one of the NCIS shows I could stand.

As you can see, there’s a lot of “popular” television that I largely ignore. Add in shows like Happy! and Doctor Who and then my count would go up. Most of my TV viewing these days consists of movies I missed in the theaters and YouTube channels I’ve subscribed to. After cutting the cord, YouTube has scratched my channel flipping itch by having dozens of different short videos I can go through on all sorts of topics. And, unlike the text that starts this trivial exercise, I’m actually quite aware of how little TV I watch.

How about you? How many shows do you keep track of regularly?

Once you’ve eliminated all other possibilities…

I just had one of the oddest tech problems I’ve ever encountered come across my desk. One of the folks here at the office who just got a brand new, out-of-the-box Lenovo laptop with a fresh image on it was having an issue where it would go into sleep mode randomly every few minutes for no apparent reason. This was happening even though Windows was configured to never go into sleep mode whether on battery or plugged in. When she’d bring the laptop to me to try and fix it would stabilize and work just fine. When she took it back to her desk it would start doing it again.

I poked around through system settings, looked to see if there was any obvious malware, updated drivers, installed some Windows updates, ran a troubleshooter, did all the standard stuff. Nothing changed. When she used it it would randomly go to sleep. When I used it it ran just fine.

Time to turn to Google. Typed in “windows 10 goes into sleep mode when typing” and started poring through the results. First few pages all offered the same troubleshooting tips I’d already tried. Kept digging through Microsoft’s answers forum and various tech blogs and everyone kept suggesting the same solutions. Then I came across a post on Quora about the problem which had the following comment by a Max Ddos on it:

This is an older post but I’l like do add some new information as I had the same problem and maybe it would help other people.

I had a brand new Dell Laptop and it also went into the standby mode while I was typing. After several attempts to solve the problem, I bought a new one (or rather, my company).

But the new laptop had the same problem.

Now I found the solution: I was wearing a bracelet with a magnetic closure, and this magnet was causing the problem.

Source: Quora

There was no way this could be the problem, I thought to myself. I can’t even begin to imagine what a magnet could be interfering with to cause this issue. However, I was at a loss as to explain why it was happening for the user and not me because she even filmed it happening with her phone to prove she wasn’t crazy and I’d been working on it for at least 20 minutes without it so much as slowing down.

So when she came back around to see if I’d made any progress I just had to ask, “You don’t happen to have any jewelry on your wrists or hands that uses a magnetic closure, do you?”

Turns out that she did. Her watch band had one. I explained that, as crazy as this theory sounded, it was the only thing that appeared to match her situation. I told her to go back to her desk and try working on it again with her watch on. If it started going into sleep mode again then I wanted her to take her watch off and place it on the other side of her cube and try it again.

Fuck me. That was actually the problem. Almost immediately it went into sleep mode when she started working on it. She took her watch off and it’s been stable since. I have no freaking clue why this is a problem. The best guess I can come up with, and I’m sure it’s wrong, is that maybe the magnet is strong enough to cause the system’s fan to stop and it’s overheating the laptop enough to force it into sleep mode. This is the first time in my 30 plus years as a tech support guy that I’ve had to tell someone to take their watch off to fix the problem they were having.

An actual chat I had at work today.

You are the master.

No, I'm just pretty competent. I try to keep expectations low for those days when I inevitably fail.

Good plan.
Click to embiggen.

Coffee tribulations.

We have three different blends of coffee in the break room here at work. I am fine with drinking two of the three (dark roast is blech). So you’d think, given that I’m fine with two-thirds of the offerings, that more often than not I’d be able to waltz in and grab a cup without needing to start a new pot. You would be wrong. For the second day in a row I walk in to find that only the dark roast is made and the other two carafes are bone dry.

A photo of a cup of coffee.
A cup of coffee. Pic by Julius Schorzman.

If I were the superstitious type I’d consider this a bad portent for the year to come, but instead I just think I have shitty coworkers who NEVER MAKE A POT OF COFFEE AFTER TAKING THE LAST DAMN CUP.

I realize that with Donald Trump starting a war with Iran in the headlines that this is probably the epitome of First World Problems, but I am so fatigued by the Trump administration at this point that I find it hard to muster enough outrage to say much about it. Instead, I am complaining about having to make coffee at work because that’s about all the irritation I can manage this morning. Probably doesn’t help that I’m running on about four hours sleep (interrupted in the middle) so I could really use several cups of coffee this morning.

Welcome to 2020.

We made it. Not sure how, but we made it. It’s the 2020’s and we can look forward to finally getting those jetpacks and flying cars we were promised, right? Nutritious meals in pill form for the hungry person on the move. Fully automated kitchens. I’ve been really looking forward to that last one.

Not the mention all the self-improvement we’re going to accomplish this year. You know the saying, right? “New year, new me?” I mean, just take a look at the New Me:

Oh boy, we’re in trouble still aren’t we? That’s OK. We’ll be in trouble together. I’m not sure how this year can be anymore of a shitshow than last year was, but with Trump still in the White House I’m sure it’s still a good possibility.

But let’s not end on a note of cynicism even if it is on brand for me and this blog. Let’s try to be positive. The mess up above can be vastly improved with a shower and some coffee. The mess that is this country headed into the 20’s can also be improved with some effort. Let’s try and find the motivation for both and see where we end up next year.