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  • Getting laid off means so many goodbyes.

    Getting laid off - so many goodbyes

    Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls –  getting laid off sucks.

    I’ve been employed in my current field for 18 years, and have worked extremely hard to get where I am at now. While there’s been ups and downs, and various levels of employment, I have not been unemployed since then. The rushing thoughts of “what now” seem to be non-stop. I’ve never been really good at job hunting, and I’ve gotten used to a certain level of living. I honestly don’t know what type of job I want, and I don’t know how to get it. Having said that, this is far from my only fear.

    I fear I’m not going to see some of my coworkers ever again.

    I’ve gotten a lot of warm responses all around. I’ve seen tears in eyes, and looks of sadness when my boss announced the layoffs. I’ve gotten hugs, handshakes, and a bevy of other gestures. I even heard a heartfelt “I’m really going to miss you,” from someone who I used to fight with quite a bit. Again – there’s been a lot of ups and downs with coworkers all across the building, but having said that – I’m going to miss every single one of them. Getting laid off means the end of some amazing professional relationships.

    I’m going to miss my clients.

    I’ve been slowly telling the ones I connect with that I won’t be around for very much longer. I’m not telling them I was laid off – that’s none of their business and puts the organization in a bad light. I try to give them a bigger and better things type of answer when they ask what I’m doing.

    Going past missing my clients as people, I’m going to miss working with them. Customer service was probably 40 percent of my job. I might even miss their anger when things go wrong. I will miss finding an amazing solution that makes them happy. I like making people happy, and I have a creative mind – so this was a real perk of my job. I fear that the clients won’t get the treatment they deserve once I’m gone. Getting laid off means I probably won’t see a lot of those people ever again.

    I’m going to miss some of my projects.

    My soon to be former department has my name all over the place. When I took over as the department head, pretty much everything was different. I diligently worked to change the things that needed to be changed. Still, there’s so much more to be done! We were going to get a new scheduling tool to replace our aging system, and this was going to free me up to do other things.  I might have been able to finally make the TV Guide work better. I might have been able to redesign all my forms so as to make them more readable and accessible. I might have been able to join – even become the point person – of the accessibility task force. Getting laid off means these projects are now not something I’ll be able to do. That really sucks!

    Granted, there are a few things I won’t miss.

    I won’t miss trying to finagle the data when report time comes. I remember last time – I told the IT guy “I know my numbers are correct, but I have no idea how I got them!” I won’t miss the commute – North Portland to East County is a long way by car and even further by train. I won’t miss the seemingly constant irritations, both minor and major, of the playback servers. I won’t miss the transit center late at night (when I’m on my way home) – there are some scary and interesting people who frequent there! My point being, there are positives to getting laid off.

    I will land on my feet.

    I don’t know how, but I do know that I have a lot to offer. The job market is surprisingly good, and I’m smart enough to figure out the logistics. In the meantime, I can focus more on my writing. I’ve had a goal of writing on this blog once a month. Maybe I can up that goal now that I’ll have a bit of free time. I also have my music blog which I am about to launch. I need to put something up there at least once a week. Who knows, if I can monetize at all, my music blog could become my new full-time gig. It’s highly unlikely, but I might as well reach for the stars. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    Again, I say – getting laid off sucks, but I do see some hope. I know this will probably not be a long unemployment streak. I also know, that my next job will probably be the best job I’ve ever had. Optimism – it’s how I’m going to get by. The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades!


  • Even if I’m wrong, I’m right and that’s why I write….

    IS this right or wrong? Whatever, this article won't be as awesome as this. But it will be more confusing!

    Wrong or right, I have no idea what to write, I just know I need to write. The reason I need to write is because I want to be a success. I want more hits to my blog, and I read something somewhere saying if I post more often, I’ll get more hits. I also need to make sure that if I write the right stuff, I’m not wrong. Does that sentence make any sense to you? Well, it shouldn’t – but it makes my readability score turn green and that means more hits from Google and Bing and Yahoo. I’m supposed to repeat certain words several times, like write, right, wrong, and other things. This will make my score right and right is not wrong. And even if I’m wrong, I’m right.

    You might notice that this entry has no content….that’s ok because content is secondary to visibility. You need to market yourself even if you have nothing worth saying….especially if you have nothing worth saying. Just say something…anything….Say how much you love cheese but don’t give a reason why. Say how much you hate dinasours, but make sure you can’t spell the world dinasour. And for heaven’s sake, make sure no one edits your mispelled words! It’s not about the art, it’s not about your creative flow….it’s about marketing…it’s about SEO and making yourself monitizable. Is that a word? Doesn’t matter – I just made it a word. Why? Because even if I’m wrong, I’m right.

    Actually, forget everything I just said…I wrote. People don’t google unique things! People Google the same words over….like weather or gmail or porn or google or flowers or pill indicator. Yes, pill indicator is on the list of most googled terms – sitting at number 26. So, there’s a ton of people staring at random pills and saying “hmm, I  wonder what this does!” Scary thought!

    My readability just dropped to ok, instead of excellent.  I better use short words now. I am short, I am not long. Oh, I  speak in small words. Also, I speak in short sentences. Plus, I am right even if I am wrong. Hmm, that doesn’t seem to be working….it’s dropped to “needs improvement.” I wonder why….I said I was right. I said I was right even if I am wrong! Writing for computers is hard.

    Ok, I did a little edit and got my score back into good territory. Apparantly, I started too many sentences with the same word. That’s….actually a helpful tool. I mean, in this case, it was a matter of stylistic choice, but in general that’s a useful thing. There’s one thing I do need to improve upon here though – I don’t have any subheadings.

    Here’s your damned subheading

    Happy? Good. Ugg, can I rant now? Seriously….the very fact that they want us to use subheadings is because people refuse to read! They just want the basic point – without the prose or the explanations or the….ugg. You get the point. Why do we even have writers if no one is going to read anything? Maybe we should just start making short lists. But I digress. Oh, it’s also saying I haven’t used a “focus” keyword in a heading….sooo

    Here’s your damned wrong subheading

    There….. I also need to add some links to external pages. so. www.google.com. Does that work? Oh, wait….internal links. Random link, coming up! Now we come to the payoff!

    Yep – there you have it. I’ve officially gotten in the green on all the categories. That’s just how simple it is to write. Sure, the tone of voice changed halfway through. I also have to say that some of this just didn’t make sense….but here we go. I wrote over 600 words on utter nonsense. As long as the automated scripts and search engines are happy, evidently I should be happy as well. What a load of crap.

    Wrong....so very very wrong. And gross as well.

    Getting back to frequency of writing….actually that’s something I’m hoping to do. It will be tough, but I have a lot of quality things to say. I realize I made a big fuss about quality over quantity earlier, but sometimes there’s room for both. I can put out two quality posts a month. Aaron has it in him!


  • Breaking Up with Godaddy.

    I’ve spent most of today doing something I should have done a long time ago….I’m breaking up with GoDaddy. I’ve had my domains and hosting with them for over ten years (maybe even closer to fifteen). The aaronjedwards.com website literally launched and grew into its current form using GoDaddy’s servers. So why would I kick GoDaddy to the curb? Well, let me tell you!!!!
    The very first reason…a few years back, I found out their CEO hunted elephants. This bothered me enough that I thought “it’s time to change.” I, however, didn’t make the change at that point. I was much too busy to really look into what needed to be done. It’s a pain for sure. So….GoDaddy continued to get my money, month after month for hosting, year after year for domains. They treated me ok, sometimes gave me annoying sales calls, but whatever. As much as I want to stand against the slaughter of elephants, I guess I just had better things to do. The rumor mill is that they’re going to replace their CEO anyways – with a guy who only slaughters puppies…..(sarcasm).
    The second reason emerged about a year ago. I get a notice telling me that some of my files had been infected with malware and I needed to deal with it. Ok….great. I really didn’t know exactly what to do on this front, so I procrastinated. A few days later I get a call from one of their customer service (or lack thereof) reps. The dude was insanely rude, acting like I had done this on purpose. He said it caused their entire system to slow down. Yeah….my dinky little website, which traffic logs state barely had any visits at that point, really did sooooo much damage! I’m totally sure! I eventually just deleted the files they said were problem files…..I really didn’t know what else to do. It caused some minor damage to my website, but nothing that I couldn’t fix with a few Google searches.
    At this point, I decided I needed some extra security, so I looked at a few different highly recommended plugins for WordPress. I installed a few, and got a message saying “ PHP v5.3.24 is not supported….upgrade to PHPv5.4 or higher.” OK, simple enough, or so I thought. Yeah….GoDaddy wouldn’t give me that version of PHP. As a special go (bleep) yourself to those of us who had been using my particular hosting program, GoDaddy would not be giving us anything new and shiny like that. Thanks so much – signed, your loyal customers.
    Regardless, I thought I had my security under control. I thought…..yeah. In September 2017, I got another email from GoDaddy telling me I had more malware. This time I researched what to do and found they have a rollback feature. Wow, this was great….I just selected a restore point and voila! Website fixed and no new calls from GoDaddy! Wooohoo, I knew what to do if this happened again!
    And it did happen again. December 2017. Right after my mom’s funeral – talk about timing, sigh. Ok….so this will take ten minutes, or so I thought. I log in…..and hey! They decided to change my website’s IP address! Guess what I lost in that process? All. My. Restore Points. Maybe if you tried to visit my website during that period of time, you’ll recall an unfriendly error message. It was a constant thorn in my side for over a month, as I couldn’t figure out what exactly to do and really didn’t have the time or energy to figure out a fix. Oh, and my files were still supposedly infected on top of that!
    It turns out that these types of things are prone to happen to bigger shared hosting companies like GoDaddy. I’m not sure of the specifics, but it happens….I guess.? This is actually why they changed what server I was on. Some of my server mates were less than reputable people. But back to that….in doing so, a firewall plugin I had for WordPress was not updated to reflect the new IP address, and thus gave everyone that wonderful error message! For a month! While I googled solution after solution only to get more and more frustrated. Yeah…..ugh. Some of the suggestions I found were to call GoDaddy and tell them what was going on – basically tell them to fix it. Yeah…..when I called, I was once again treated rudely. They told me to go fix it myself – and by fix it myself, they – their attitude implied I do another thing to myself beginning in the letter F. Even though they caused the error….and gave me no warning. Just……ooops! Sorry! Ugh.
    When I found the solution, quite simple. Still, this whole ordeal motivated me to finally end this abusive relationship once and for all. I found the time and that’s all I did that day. And oy what a process it was. For a week after, I wasn’t sure if my website was running on the new host or the old, but I do know when I went to transfer my domain name, GoDaddy was like, 20 percent off if you stay!!!!! I laughed so hard. Yeah….no…..nothing was, will, and would ever keep me from leaving you. GoDaddy….go…..away. I’ve got a new hosting service now, and it’s not you.
    To be fair, I know some of my issues had to do with my level of expertise. I’m a novice on websites, and really only know enough to keep my head above water. But maybe if GoDaddy had been less cold and unforgiving…and maybe if they hadn’t yelled at me over the phone, I might not have had to take the time and perhaps I could have done something fun instead. I’m still wondering if I made a big mistake, sure….but I’ve come too far to turn back now. I’ve given the new hosting service (A2Hosting) my money, and they’ve transfered my domain name. Yeah, some of my stuff still exists on GoDaddy’s servers, but that’s going to change soon – I’m hitting the cancel button this week! The transfer did make my website go down once more – but what a way to learn about MySQL databases!
    One more thing – to the CEO of GoDaddy, if you ever read this…killing Elephants is something only small cowardly, boys do. You should be ashamed of yourself.


  • Brain Damage Related to Time Travel. A found document.

    I found a document in my files today. I really don’t know where it came from. It appears to be a report from the future. Weird! Read it for yourself….

    Historic document: 2068.7.21
    Subject: Brain damage related to time travel

    In the late 2050s, time travel not only became a possibility, but also available to a consumer level. This caused several problems of course, but one curious problem was that of the brain damaged time traveler. 1 in 350 consumer time travelers would come back from their trips with brain injuries. This never happened in purely scientific travels, even though the technology was similar enough that there should not have been a difference. Data was poured over by medical professionals, physicists, temporal mechanics, and the like. No clues were given. This problem did not discriminate on age, sex, or any other biological factor. Brain damage related to time travel was a mystery condition. We couldn’t even decipher it as a symptom, syndrome, or disease.

    The idea was floated to stop all time travel on the consumer basis, but the Federal Time Travel Act of 2063 stated that temporal travel was considered a right to every American citizen. Other countries were, of course able to ban time travel all together. Still, something had to be done.

    The first action was a series of PSAs – make the public afraid of the idea of time traveling. Of course…..stubborn Americans wouldn’t listen. Time travel did decline in numbers a little, but if Americans aren’t even going to quit smoking, they’re certainly not going to quit going back to see Ramses and Socrates.

    The second action was that of control. Sure, every American has the right to time travel, but there’s no stipulations on Americans having the equipment to travel back in time. We could even monitor biological dafa. We wanted to collect biological data – heart rates, oxygen levels, etc. Of course the ACLU stepped in and the courts told us not without the client’s consent. Very few clients gave us consent. No matter – the data we were allowed to collect produced no new insights.

    We decided to look at the technical logs – maybe the machinery was giving us brain damage. It was a long shot – as I said earlier, the scientific missions always resulted in no brain damage. While the consumer and scientific time travel machines have always been similar, now that the government had a monopoly of the industry, the machines were identical.

    In cases that resulted in brain damage, we compared electrical output, radiation levels – you name it, we compared it. Still – nothing. All technical levels matched those of non-brain damaged travelers.

    We found ourselves in the bottom of a well – no way to escape. We didn’t know what to do next. On a lark, we asked a few clients to wear body cameras. This is where we finally got suspicious of the cause. Well….we had a lead at least.

    We couldn’t make everyone wear a body camera, but most of the cases that did result in brain damage refused to wear body cameras. A few of the cases would lose the signal for a few seconds here and there. The idea was floated that perhaps it wasn’t time travel itself that was causing brain damage, but rather an activity during the time travel experience.

    Our statisticians started pouring over data available. One statistician noted that every single case of brain damage happened during the traveler’s lifetime. No one who went to see the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or to watch Brutus stab Caesar in the back, came back with brain damage.

    An experiment was decided upon. There was no law stating that we couldn’t trail travelers. Now that all time travel machines were monopolized by the federal government, it would be quite easy to trail travelers. Of course we couldn’t trail every traveler, not even every traveler going back into their own past – but we could do a few here and there…

    The experiment went pretty slowly. Following some travelers after they reached their destinations proved impossible, as they tended to go to private residences. However, that fact alone made a few theories develop. Cross referencing the addresses, most of them would actually go to their childhood houses. So it was theorized that meeting yourself in the past had the chance to cause brain damage. There was no scientific evidence involved, just correlation, so we couldn’t say specifically yes. Still, we did start to warn travelers. Sure enough, this reduced the amount of brain damage related to time travel.

    Of course, we still wanted to prove this. It was decided that we should continue to randomly follow travelers, and look for other factors. Curiously enough, travelers who we caught meeting their past selves never ended up with brain damage. And while brain damage as a whole dropped significantly, it still plateaued at a certain point.

    Finally, a stroke of luck! While trailing a traveler to a childhood baseball game, we witnessed a man smacking his ten year old self across the head. It was right after his ten year old self had mistaken the mother of one of his teammates for a man….and said so out loud and very loudly. When the traveler got back, they had brain damage, Further trials of travelers also confirmed this! Pretty soon it was evident. The cause for brain damage in time travelers were people going back to a time when their past self had said or done something incredibly stupid or shameful, and smacking themselves across the head. One subject had made an advance on their cousin. One had told his teacher to go fuck themselves. One subject smacked themselves just as they were about to defecate in their sister’s bed.

    Of course, the next round of PSAs went out. Brain damage declined even further. It did eventually plateau, but when a traveler came back brain damaged, everyone knew what that traveler had done. The case was closed.

    Long story short, if you want to go back in time and smack yourself silly for calling your aunt Frida a “cow mixed with a pig,” just don’t. You might end up with brain damage. That example was totally not from my own memory banks or anything by the way….I totally made that up. I love you Aunt Frida! I’ll bring you donuts tomorrow!


  • Deadroll

    Chapter 1: The First Day

    20161026_141438_film1“And this is our main studio control room…..” A short, chinese woman with a hollow voice said as we walked into a room. On one wall….monitors everywhere over a counter full of controls.
    “This is like something out of Star Trek,” I said with a snort.
    “Close….this console was actually used in Star Wars. You know that lever they pull on the Death star?”
    “Ohmygosh! Yes! Oh Wow!” I marveled at the controls – the lights, the buttons. Here was a piece of cinematic history in front of me.
    “Let’s look over here” We turn to see a large studio through the windows- maybe 75 by 100 feet. The walls were grey, and lit with a blue light. Cameras arranged in front of a stage, lights dangling from the rafters.
    “What the hell!?!?!” I noticed a horrific doll right at the window. It was female….it had curly brown pigtails….It looked vaguely realistic, but the paint was chipped…..like it was quite old. Maybe from the 50s or earlier.
    “Oh….that….that’s just Jill. We use her for training purposes. Her tone is fairly realistic, so she’s good at teaching how to color correct cameras.”
    “I swear….she moved her head”
    “Hah! A lot of people say that….it’s just your imagination though.”

    Later that day, in the same studio, I sit at the monitor wall. Over the intercom, someone says “10 minutes to dead roll”.
    “Dead roll?”
    “Oh, this is a live show. We have to end at a certain time. Dead roll is just a long ending. It has a countdown beforehand, so we know if it’s safe to cut to the ending or if we need to keep stretching the guests and host.”
    “Oh….makes sense.”
    “Camera one….you do realize you’re live. Stop moving around like you’re on a roller coaster!” the director, a plump, middle aged hispanic man yells.”

    Chapter 2: One Month Later

    The clock seems dead. Not literally. I can hear the ticking of the second hands, but it seems so slow. The minutes feel like they’ve been caught in a time warp. Ahhh. Bordem. I sit at my desk and fight the urge to space out.
    Just then, a rumble. My coworker rolls by my door – a cart with Jill and her “brother” Jack” on it. Covered with a blanket, almost as the equipment cart was a gurney. Almost as he was taking Jack and Jill into surgery. I think nothing of it…..I’m used to creepy Jill by now. I’ve convinced myself the incident on my first day was nothing more than my imagination. Jitters from starting a new job. But for some reason….Jill caught my eye. I stare at her. She’s facing the ceiling with her plastic half smile.
    And then she turns her head towards me…..
    And then she smiles….. a toothy….smile.
    I scream and lock my door.

    The next day I ask my coworker if he had been playing a trick on me. If perhaps he had rigged some remote control to her or something.
    “Nope, besides, her neck is fixed. No moving, come look for yourself.”
    We go to the storage equipment…..but Jill isn’t there.
    “Huh…I thought she was right here, someone must have moved her.”
    I look at the empty space, then I look over at Jack. Still at his spot. I pick him up and examine his neck. Solid. Nothing that can move. I know the dolls are a set….made exactly alike aside from one being male and one being female.
    “Hmm, must have been my imagination again. Mid day day dream fooling my brain”
    I shake it off, and go about my day.

    Chapter 3: Deadroll

    Another live show. On cue, over the intercom, a female voice monosyllabically announces” five minutes to dead roll.”
    I sit at my station, dialing knobs, dials, levers mindlessly. I hear someone behind me cue up the deadroll at the VTR station. Backwards chipmunks, forwards, backwards, backwards, forwards, backwards….they finally get it right.
    Three minutes later, on cue…..another deadroll announcement….”two minutes to deadroll”.
    At the minute mark however…..the voice changes to an excited little girl, hyped up on sugar.
    “One minute to deaaadrollllll! HAHAHAHAHA.”
    The plump, middle aged director snaps “that’s not funny! We’re professionals!”
    But thirty seconds later….the same voice. The same “little girl.”
    30……20…….15……10….9….8….7…6…..
    We’re looking around, frightened, wonder what’s going on…..
    5….4……3…..2…..1…….TIME FOR DEADROLL!!!!!!!!!!
    Every monitor turns a bright red. The windows into the studio turn black. All we hear in the studio is screaming! Terror. We run to the door….but the door is locked! Someone tries the landline – but no answer. We yell over the intercom…..no one seems to hear. Our cell phones have no signal. This better just be a prank!
    A couple minutes later, the windows clear up..
    “Ohmygod! Ohmygod!” the audio engineer screeches. Everyone that was in the studio is now dead. Their bodies, all thrown into a bloody pile in the center of the set. 20 or so bodies….lifeless. And no clue of what happened. Just dead bodies….
    Just then, the door opens. in the door….it’s…..I must be hallucinating. It’s Jill!. She’s got no arms….no legs, and yet she’s standing there. Her chipped face, smiling psychotic. Teeth showing that couldn’t exist.
    She spins her head clockwise…..screeching. Then mumbling – like twenty, thirty, maybe 50 voices are coming out of her mouth.
    Out of apparent thin air, she holds up a knife – with her lack of arms. It’s almost like the knife is attached to her dress. She floats to the audio engineer and cuts her throat. Her blood spills from her neck and she drops to the floor.
    Jill moves to the director. He’s whimpering in the corner, mumbling “”Hail Mary full of Grace”
    Jill “asks…..is this professional?” and then slits his throat. His dead body makes a hard thud as it crashes onto a counter.
    And now Jill turns to me…….
    “You…..I’ve been waiting for you…..”
    “Why….why me”
    “No reason…..boredom.”
    “Ummm…..ok?”
    I decide to reach for a knife in my back pocket and quickly present it.
    “What the Hell do you think you’re going to do with that? My body is made out of plastic.”
    “Uhhhh,”
    She quickly slashes towards my throat, but I block it with my hand. I grab her dress and pull her around….throwing her against the console. She drops her knife, but somehow bites me. With all my might, I throw her against the door. Her body is in pieces, her head, still intact. I reach for a book on the counter. It’s a heavy Bible…..appropriate.
    I yell, “I’ve heard of Bible bashing, but this is ridiculous.” and plummeted her head with the Bible until it was nothing but rubble.

    Epilogue.

    “How can we recover from this?” I ask the remaining coworkers.
    “We can’t….we just move on.”
    “I think we better burn the remains of Jill…..throw her into a furnace or something. Just in case.”
    “Probably not necessary…..but if it makes you feel better, feel free to do it.”

    Back in the equipment closet, next to Jill’s now vacant spot….an unexplained light shines on Jack. He awakens, and maniacally laughs as he circles his head…..

    The End?