"These are the times that try men's souls..." -- Thomas Paine, "The American Crisis"
I must apologize for the prolonged absence. It could not be avoided.
The Overlord has had a pretty shitty year.
It began with the loss of Mrs. Overlord, a very painful and trying ordeal that was made more-painful and trying because the aftermath has been such a shitstorm of useless hatreds and inexcusable behavior (all related to money, of course. Do yourself a favor: if you ever write a will, select an executor who isn't a selfish, sanctimonious ass with a streak of passive-aggressive nine miles wide, no work ethic and no sense of gratitude).
This was followed by the Exodus from Sodom-on-the-Hudson to a place where civilization has barely touched.
The Raleigh-Durham region of North Carolina is most-assuredly NOT "a destination". It is a place that evokes a vision of a piece of fruit suspended inside a Jell-O mold. A hairy, brownish-colored piece of fruit, on the verge of sprouting maggots, the Jell-O merely hiding the rot behind a garishly-colored gooey window. No amount of sugar will hide the flavor of decay and no massive infusion of Yellow #5 can disguise the wobbly nature of the whole construction.
It is as if Mayberry-meets-Petticoat-Junction-meets-Hades had been suspended in a jiggly form of amber and left on someone's sunny windowsill for 400 years. That our dessert from Hell retains any shape at all is astounding.
Because far from being a place where the "best and the brightest" congregate to do amazing and innovative technical things in the Silicon Valley of the East, one gets rather the impression that it is all because Jethro learned to count without having to remove his socks and, therefore, was entitled to join the upper middle class with a commensurate salary.
And still be a dumbass.
Even the Northern transplants -- collectively known as "Damned Yankees" -- leave much to be desired. Most are merely refugees from the very filth, crime, and social dysfunction they voted for back home eagerly at work trying to repeat the performance here. The kind of people who do things like scare the unholy fuck out of their children with their own mindless paranoias and phobias, such as when the five-year- old kid lectured me the other day in the supermarket line about how sea-level rise is the greatest threat to mankind.
I'm surrounded by fucktard and incompetence everywhere I turn. For example, the Overlord has had to work something like 60 out of the last 75 days -- often by request, usually because no one else can do it -- and last week was the first time that I had had two consecutive days off in a month. That's 12-hour shifts, incidentally. Great for one's bank account, but not for one's well-being (and as I write this, I'll be putting in my 5th workday this week this evening).
Then I get a load of bitching and complaining about all the billable hours I'm racking up.
There is no social life. I have no family here. I have one friend in this area who lives 30 miles away and who between work and a sick husband has no time for socializing. The local "singles scene" is an open sewer of gap-toothed, string-bean Ellie Maes and overweight stealth adulterers married to Homo Retardicus -- who has a gun collection, natch -- who are all seeking a Yankee sucker to take them away from the drudgery of small town life.
Slim (or, alternately, corpulent) pickings, indeed. Half of them you wouldn't fuck with a stolen penis and the other half either won a prize at the county fair or have a lucrative job with the carnival.
And to top it all off, it will soon be the 22nd anniversary of 9/11.
So, yes, my anxiety has been off the charts. I needed time to decompress. The get it all back together. Sue me for not writing as often.
All the familiar discomforts that I had believed to be far in the rearview have returned, some with a vengeance. It has been a struggle to get through it all and if I have been remiss in writing some stuff down here, please understand this is why.
Now, I could just chuck it all, return to Gotham and go back to what seems to me to be "normal life", but that has no appeal. For a start, I'm not a quitter. I hate to quit. Even more, I despise the feeling of failure that comes with resignation. I'm a stubborn fuck, as well.
And so it is that having gotten a grip, as they say, I'm fixin' (look! I've used a Southern-ism!) to soldier on for a variety of reasons.
On the estate front, I'm going to win...eventually. There is no amount of posturing that changes the fact that there is a written document that promises me money that is already in the bank. All the legal posturing and playing games with process, notwithstanding.
On the personal life, I could cry about being lonely, but then again, I haven't really done anything to fix that, have I? Instead of scouring the local boozers where the inbred and insensate congregate, perhaps I should cast my net further afield, or find something to get involved in.
On the work front, after this week's lecture of stupidity I have come to the conclusion that what I have here is the opportunity to become a very large fish in a very small pond, because only truly deficient people (and college grads) could make a serious crisis out of the last cause celebre.
For the Overlord, you see, has been "Red Flagged".
Not because he's dangerous, or insane, or because he's a threat to home, children, hearth and personal safety, but because he ran afoul of one of those business regimes that is so stultifyingly dumbfucked that it could only have been the fevered brainchild of an MBA.
In other words, a highly-credentialled, small-testicled ass with a fancy degree.
My company is obsessed with phishing scams. To the point where I have, honestly, been subjected to countless hours of "training videos" on how to avoid them. I could, after all this, run my own phishing scams from inside my office and they'd never even know it.
The company "tests" employees by deliberately sending them phishing e-mails just to see who will open them or click the links. When you do so, you get a lovely little pop-up screen that essentially says "Aha! WE GOT YOU!" and directs you to take the next brain-crushing phishing avoidance course.
I want to repeat that: the company, itself, sends out phishing e-mails -- using company resources to disguise the scam -- to prevent you from opening phishing e-mails.
The Overlord has fallen for it enough that he has accumulated a "phishing score" of 50%.
And here is where it gets really stupid.
That 50% represents an "unacceptable" threat to our "data security" (says the company where the front door to the building has been literally hanging off it's hinges since before I got here seven months ago). Therefore, I am "red-flagged". This requires a conference call with my immediate boss and his boss to discuss this "serious" problem.
In the middle of a shift where I'm working on two IPL's and a variety of patch applications for two separate customers -- who both requested that I do it -- simultaneously.
So, there's a lot of hot air. There's a lot of "okay" and "I understand" and "alright", and then the Overlord asks the salient question:
"Just how many does 50% represent? Are we talking 50 out 100 e-mails? 500 out of 1,000?".
Ummm...no one actually knows. We don't have an exact number, just a percentage.
Well, get back to me when you have an exact number and let's see just how big a problem this really is, okay? In the meantime, I have work to do. Goodbye.
Eventually, we got the answer. An answer which the people who shout "50%!" don't exactly want to share, because it then raises questions about what they're doing. Getting that number from them was like trying to express a tyrannosaur's anal glands.
It was two...out of four e-mails. Over the course of seven months.
"Data Security" has tested me four times in the last seven months with bogus phishing e-mails, and I failed two of them. In one of those tests the e-mail in question was designed to appear as if it came from my own chain of command. I have been subjected to four deliberate attempts to entrap me.
I can see testing people every so often to make sure they're doing things they're supposed to be doing. Having your security people deliberately do something like this just so that they can "generate a metric" that reflects on your performance review, by the way, is scummy.
It was at this moment that it all finally crystalized for me.
I'm working for idiots.
For while we have a myriad of serious issues to deal with -- the building is falling to pieces, our equipment is antiquated, our processes and procedures are bureaucratic, petty and redundant, we have a phone system that doesn't work meaning we're communicating with cells and online tools, we're losing people faster than Biden is losing votes and braincells, we're in the middle of an incredibly messy corporate divorce from IBM, but my (pre-approved!) work hours and two phony e-mails that everyone knew were phony when they were sent are the priorities?
And I'm being lectured by two people who don't even show up for work?
(Remote work is the rule here: 95% of the staff is remote. It's only me and the guy I work with who ever show up at the actual data center every day).
And now I know it's all going to be okay. An original thought and a cold drink of water would kill these people instantly. I was wondering where the career path was going to be in a year or two and now I know.
The last year of anxiety and depression over not knowing what to do, or what was going to happen, suddenly came to an end. We'll see about next week during the morbid "ceremonies" that turn lower Manhattan into a Disneyland of Grief as the intolerable reading of the names of victims gets longer and longer as we discover new groups victimized -- indirectly, and decades after the fact -- by 9/11.
I'm going to be running this company very soon, I figure.
And I'm feeling much better.