Messiah Sing

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The Burlington Choral Society (Carole Furr, member, usually) held an open-to-all Messiah Sing last night at the North Avenue Alliance Church. I’m sure ours was much like any other: we did about a third of the full work in about 90 minutes’ time. The soloists and accompanying pianist were first-rate.

Jay, who sings so badly that he can sterilize cattle within a five kilometer radius, came along just to listen, and happened to record a snippet from “Unto Us A Child Is Born” and, later, all of the Hallelujah Chorus. I think we sounded pretty darn good!

Pig On A Park Bench

Remember that line from “Eleanor Rigby” — “Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear”?

I’ve been spending my free time the last few days writing up our August 2018 cruise to the Baltic Sea, curating photos, and so on, all with an aim to posting it all to our WordPress blog at some point — and I know absolutely no one’s going to look at it.

I guess it’s mostly for our benefit, so Carole and I can look back in a few years and go “oh, yeah, it was Estonia where we saw that statue of a pig sitting on a park bench”.

Still, it beats zoning out in front of the television, right? Right?

(Okay, I’m a lonely person.)

Global Alert For All: Jesus Is Coming Soon

On January 18, 1994 someone posting as “Clarence Thomas IV” posted a message titled “Global Alert for All: Jesus Is Coming Soon” to basically every Usenet newsgroup 1text-based discussion forums, kind of like chat rooms but dating well back before the World Wide Web and dwindling in importance as the Web became the prevailing interface to the Internet on the planet, including many that didn’t actually exist and some that had only existed in alternate timelines.
 
His prediction of the imminent return to Earth of one Jesus H. Christ promptly got cancelbotted across the board, but not before dozens, possibly hundreds, of mocking and questioning responses were offered up by the stunned and perturbed denizens of Usenet.
 
As we soon learned, “Thomas”‘s post was not the harbinger of Jesus’s return, but rather, of the beginning of the end for Usenet as we understood it. Spam and heavy-handed responses to spam became the order of the day, and at some point Tim Pierce 2Tim is a great guy who at that time spent a shit-ton of time back in the day trying to keep Usenet from descending into absolute chaos. The off-handed reference to him here is just a poke in the side for old times’ sake ascended into the heavens where he remains to this day, a fierce and judgmental deity whose edicts are not to be ignored.
 
Seems like only yesterday… but as of January 2019, it’ll have been TWENTY-FIVE years. (Shouldn’t Jesus have gotten here by now?)

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. text-based discussion forums, kind of like chat rooms but dating well back before the World Wide Web and dwindling in importance as the Web became the prevailing interface to the Internet
2. Tim is a great guy who at that time spent a shit-ton of time back in the day trying to keep Usenet from descending into absolute chaos. The off-handed reference to him here is just a poke in the side for old times’ sake

Ahem

I would like to take this moment to say to the world:

  • I am in a depressed, pathetic state of mind.
  • No, that has nothing to do with the Georgia/Alabama game.
  • I am incredibly grateful that no one invited me to a Secret Santa gift exchange this year.
  • Peculiarly, I have very little going on at work all of a sudden, which I know won’t last, but it’s still kind of weird.
  • Consequently, I’m probably going to do some really pathetic attention-seeking crap out of sheer boredom in the next week or so.
  • I am four legs shy of reaching 1K status on United and as a result may wind up doing something stupid like flying round-trip to Boca Raton or Raleigh/Durham or something — wherever’s cheap — sometime in the next couple of weeks.
  • First world problems. I know.
  • There exists such a thing as a canned cheeseburger — you boil them in a pot of water, can and all, for a few minutes to reheat them. I guess they’re meant for camping or something. Anyhow, I’m trying and failing to find where I can buy them.
  • I’m going somewhere fun for Christmas (Curaçao) and for some strange-ass reason am completely failing to look forward to it.
  • My brain is messed up and doesn’t work properly.

Snoo

Carole and I live in northern Vermont, in a little town called Richmond. Every year we wonder if any given snowfall will be “the” snowfall, the one that covers our grass until spring. Some years it’s clear from the first eight-inch dumping. Other years we don’t really ever get “that” snow, as we have freezes and thaws off and on the entire season.

The summer of 2018 was abnormally dry and warm here in Vermont. I for one was worried that it would carry over to the winter, but it looks (so far) like things are back to normal, precipitation-wise. Will this be “the” snow — November 27, 2018? Hard to say at this time, but it’s looking good so far.

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Happy Thanksgiving from Carole


Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

As usual, we spent a quiet Thanksgiving. No family visits. Just us and kitties. But I’m thankful that Jay was home. He’s been traveling an awful lot. Last weekend, he walked yet another 3-Day (Susan G. Komen event) in San Diego. Came home with horribly blistered feet and he’s been experiencing some strain in one of his legs, from favoring the blistered foot over the last twenty miles. But the blisters have healed miraculously well.

I’m thankful I got to start the day with a yoga class. That was a nice way to spend some time before the traditional Thanksgiving gorge-fest.

And I’m thankful we were blessed enough to head to a fancy Stowe resort restaurant and enjoy a lovely buffet.

I’m not thankful for the 7-degree weather today. But I do know the hidden blessing of the weather: homeless people get to sleep in beds. (The state has a priority allotment system for giving out emergency motel room vouchers, but when it’s cold enough, the priority list goes out the window and everyone gets a room.)

So, God bless us every one, and to all a good night. To mix a few quoteaphors and all that.

Happy Thanksgiving from Jay

At times, when I stop and attempt to be “thankful”, I realize that I have life so absurdly good that it’s almost embarrassing. And I don’t mean in terms of the amount of money I bring home on my paycheck or the amount of luxury stuff I have sitting around the house (we have one (1) luxury item, a hot tub). I mean in terms of intangibles, tangibles, opportunities, everything.

I’m employed and have been so since May of 1998. Same job, even, although I’m on my third employer. I’ve got a great work situation where I am respected and valued and am not over-managed. I’ve got a nice house to live in. I live in a nice part of the country that rarely if ever has disaster-level weather. I’ve been married 21 years and counting to someone I’m still in love with. I’ve gotten to go to Europe this year and in a few weeks am going to Curaçao. I’m fortunate to have a few friends who are willing to put up with my neuroses. (Thanks again, folks!) I have four excellent kitties (up from three as of a month or so ago). I’ve got skills and knowledge that serve me well in life. I’m white, male, and just ooze with privilege. But at least I know that I was basically born on second base. I’m under no illusions of having hit a double.

Did I get everything I wanted in life? No. I didn’t get to have kids. I still have a lot of headaches. I’ve been diagnosed with major depression. My blood pressure and cholesterol are both higher than I’d like them to be. I never did write the great American novel.

¡Ay de mí! I’ve got it so bad, don’t I?

I’ve been absurdly fortunate in life and feel kind of guilty about it. But I am aware of, and thankful for, my many, many blessings. And I hope all of y’all, out there in the world, are happy and healthy and full of joy this holiday season.

I Would Walk 500 Miles and I Would Walk 500 More

I’m about to head to the airport (it’s 4:51 am EST as I write this) to fly from chilly Vermont (15 degrees fondly Fahrenheit right this second) to sunny San Diego (today’s high, 77 degrees).

It’s time for the 2018 San Diego Susan G Komen 3-Day!

This will be my 18th 3-Day as a walker (dating back to 2008) and my 29th event overall. (I’ve also served as support crew 11 times). If you total up the miles I’ve walked on event as a walker so far (one event was cut short due to weather, and twice, due to injury/health concerns, I wound up sweeping part of the way) I’m probably at something like 960 miles total. Which means that, barring unexpected circumstances this weekend, I’ll have walked my 1000th 3-Day mile sometime late on Saturday! (This doesn’t count, obviously, all the miles on training walks and such leading up to 3-Day walks.)

With all that walking, cancer must be pretty much cured by now, right?

Okay, well, no. But progress has been made in many areas over the last ten years, and the $50,000+ that I’ve raised through my walking has probably made some slight difference. Total up the millions on millions that all of us walkers have raised and the 3-Day overall has made a big impact. We walkers owe it all to you, our supporters and donors.

Veterans Day 2018

My thanks to my sister Julie Furr Youngman and my brother in law Paul A. Youngman for their US Army service, and to all my friends and acquaintances who served and to strangers everywhere as well, for the work they did, the risks they faced, and the sacrifices they made.

On this, the 100th anniversary of the day the guns finally fell silent in France, there is nothing profound that I can say that has not already been said elsewhere, and better. I will simply say “Thank you”. Thank you to all of you who faced hardship and danger in the service of your country.

Woo-Hoo!

I finally got to see the vote totals for the Justice of the Peace race here in Richmond, VT (population, a bit over 4,000).

Long story short: I won.

Slightly longer version of the story: so did 11 out of the 12 other candidates on the ballot.

“Woo-hoo!”, anyway.

I was one of seven Democrats on the ballot and (if I recall correctly) the only first-timer among them. There were four Republicans and two independents on the ballot as well. A town our size is permitted to elect 12 JotPs, so with 13 candidates on the ballot, only one person would lose out.

I was interested to see that I came in last out of the seven Democrats but ahead of all the Republicans and independents. I honestly don’t know most of the people on the ballot even though I’ve lived in town sixteen years. I travel so much for work that I can never show up at selectboard meetings and so on, and what’s more, I’m not a native of the town.

I assume that the other Democrats are all prominent enough that they had greater name recognition and consequently got more votes than I did… and that my total wasn’t based on my being my being more popular than the six who finished below me but rather was due more or less entirely to running as a Democrat. The woman who got the most votes, incidentally, is our former state representative and owns the hair salon on Main Street. Everyone knows her.

(I was personally sort of pleased in a petty way to see who came in 13th and as a result didn’t get elected. Said individual is sort of our town gadfly and bête noire and used to be on the selectboard until she annoyed so many people that she stopped getting re-elected. She’s been losing election after election for various offices ever since. I hadn’t looked forward to attending meetings with her if she had been elected. Glad to see I won’t have to.)

I mentioned a while back that the job of Justice of the Peace in Vermont is nothing like it is in Texas, where it really is a judicial job. A Vermont Justice of the Peace:

  • is a member of the “Board of Civil Authority”, serving as an official at elections
  • serves on the tax abatement/appeals board in case anyone wants to contest their property tax assessment
  • conducts marriage ceremonies (if asked)
  • serves as a notary and can administer oaths
  • serves as a magistrate (if needed and so commissioned by the state Supreme Court)

So basically, I’ll be on the town election board when my position officially starts on February 1. I hope I get to conduct a marriage ceremony at some point.

Don’t think I’m impressed by my accomplishment — running in a race where 12 out of 13 candidates got elected, and where the powers and responsibilities are so slight, is not going to go to my head. But I am looking forward to doing my part. I’ll have to plan my 2019 travel schedule around Town Meeting Day and elections since I’ll need to be present.

No, I Didn’t Actually Change Jobs

A few days ago I got around to updating my profile on various social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook with my current employment information… and thanks to the wonders of modern algorithms, dozens of people I’m connected to on those sites promptly started congratulating me on my “new job”.

Thing is, I didn’t actually change jobs. I’m in the exact same job I’ve been in since May of 1998 (although the job has expanded and grown with me), but I’m on my third employer in that time frame.

“Wot?” you say?

I started at IDX Systems Corporation in May of 1998. IDX was a Vermont health care software corporation with offices in Seattle, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, and a few other places. We wrote and sold the software that did the scheduling and billing for hospitals and physician practices (we also had an imaging division and an EMR division, but I did very little work with those).

GE bought IDX in late 2005 and rolled us in under their “GE Healthcare” division. Unfortunately, GE a) didn’t always seem at home in the software business (its strength was in hardware), and b) the massive losses in the Great Recession in the GE Capital division caused GE to turn around and slash the legacy IDX workforce, getting rid of products we were developing, cutting back on new initiatives, and so on. We continued to operate, but I can’t tell you how many great co-workers were either RIF’d or took other jobs. GE had a tremendous sense of commitment to its existing and new customers, but the urge to grow, expand, and enhance our software products just wasn’t there.

So when GE started its serious struggles in recent years, we all wondered when the other shoe was going to drop. Were we going to be spun off, sold, shut down, what? The answer came in the spring of 2018, when Veritas Venture Capital agreed to buy the value-based care division of GE Healthcare (basically the legacy IDX products and staff with the exception of radiology and imaging systems) and spin it off into a new company. Veritas was an unknown to most of us, but we soon learned that Veritas has a track record of buying underperforming operations from other companies, investing in them, and getting them strong enough to sell off again. And as far as we know, that’s more or less the plan for us. Right now we’re all feeling pretty optimistic.

The sale to Veritas closed in July and we operated in kind of a weird limbo of sort-of-GE and sort-of-not under the name “VVC NewCo”. We’re still in that limbo (my email address is still ends in @ge.com and my laptop is a GE laptop, and so on) but as of a couple of weeks ago we finally got our new name: Virence Health Technologies. But my co-workers are the same co-workers I had before GE sold us, and in some cases, they’re the same co-workers I had back when I worked for IDX. Our customers are the same customers I worked with before the sale. Operationally, very little has changed. So far. I expect things to get interesting as the remaining connections to GE are severed and the company’s shiny brand-new leadership launches us on exciting and challenging endeavours.

Same job. Third employer. Life is weird.

I footnotes