Saturday, September 9, 2023

A Mental Health Absence...

 "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?". 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.


Mis. Hum. said...

I'm glad you have returned. I have missed your writing. Take Care. Mis. Hum.

Anonymous said...

You have learned the truth of the south. At first, they call you "Yankee;" a year later, they call you "Boss!"

Anonymous said...

Welcome to RTP! Sorry you don't find it to your taste, but I feel the same way about New York City.

My company does the same phishing test monthly! I think they've gotten me once over the years. However, I've reported several corporate e-mails as phishing attempts in that time as well. Sometimes, it really is hard to tell the difference, and if there's ANY doubt at all, why take a chance?

Anonymous said...

So...juat quit responding to emails. When you are asked about this, explain your reasoning. It's safer that way, right?

Matthew Noto said...

Way ahead of you on that front. The account in question doesn't even get logged into, anymore.

Noah Bawdy™ said...

Aloha all.
Misery loves company & all that.
I'm currently sleeping in my
Mom's detached garage out in the middle of the Mark Twain National Forrest.
So got that going for me.
Get to watch happy people in their happy boats having fun playing on Table Rock Lake.
My Mother in her infinite wisdom got rid of the guest trailer and our boat years ago.
Our connection to the Inter Tubes is spotty on good days.
Hackers are always attempting to take over my laptop. Good thing my skills go back to the Assembly/Assembler days or this little laptop that could would have been dead years ago. Alienware... nice little toy.
I never hear from any of my friends any more. Still carry my old phone from Hawaii... Noah Bawdy calls though. So just another manic Monday, 9/11. Guess we will all be treated to the usual celebrations... Take care all.

Noah Bawdy

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. I am feelingly in agreement.

I often comment on mysterious Pie Charts with N=?

Anonymous said...

I am truly sorry about Mrs. Overlord.

My husband just quit responding to emails. It's worked for him!

My elderly relative, of whom me and my siblings are the his/her ONLY living relatives, has decided to disown me in favor of his/her neighbor, a two-faced #$^& who is positioning her family to get my elderly relative's house for her kid, who is engaged. (The neighbor expressed this to a friend of hers, forgetting that where they live is really quite a small town - everyone knows everybody else.) I am hoping the elderly relative lives to 100. At that point, if the neighbor's kid is still looking for a place to live, the kid is a major loser. My elderly relative will be out of money by then. I am sure at that point, the neighbor will cut and run. The state in which this all takes place, the beneficiary is usually the "responsible person" who executes the will. With the #$^& neighbor, that'll be rich. When it was me and my siblings, who were the beneficiaries (and responsible people), we had planned to contact the elderly relative's spouse's children to see if they were interested in anything, as well as a friend of theirs who did so much for them over the years. (The elderly relative has cut the "friend" out of their life as well.)

Sorry it is so weird to read: I am hedging on the story since the neighbor, although a #$^& and dumber than a box of rocks, might actually read this blog.

Darin Zimmerman said...

Sorry about your recent trials; the march of life isn't always through a rose garden. I've spent enough time in Raleigh (& Charlotte & Atlanta & Florida & Alabama etc.) to understand everything you're talking about. But it is important to remember that everywhere you go there is a distribution of people. It's the "availability heuristic" is what causes us to categorize a proximate group as "all the same". I like to tell the northerners I grew up with that living in the South taught me the distinction between "friendly" and "polite". Gap-toothed or not; Southerners are genuinely friendly and warm.

And as someone who has also been flagged at a 50%-er, I know how frustrating it is to fall for it. But I also used to be the Chief Risk Officer of a large division of an insurance company. A data breach is a low frequency/high severity event. If a professional gets through it's a significant share of that year's revenue to fix it. Don't be frustrated with your company for educating the workforce on the existential risk a data breach poses to the company (and how effectively conniving phishing e-mails can be); be frustrated that the powers that be have organized our society in a way that makes being an amoral, thieving snake so lucrative.

GMay said...

Man, you call *that* a small town? Nearest incorporated community to me waaaaay out here in Flyoverland is 5k.

You gotta go rural, where your neighbors aren't close enough to talk to. Then again, I ain't single.

SCBen said...

I always enjoy your posts! I'm so sorry that you lost the Love of your LIfe and have to deal with a peckerhead (Southern term for the kind of person you're dealing with) over the last wishes of her! If you want to meet stable women try Hobby Lobby! I think I've posted that before, but it's true! As far as the "testing" of you? Just ignore all emails and when questioned about it just say "looked like a phishing"!!

Good luck to you - hope you write more often!


Matthew Noto said...

I'm thinking of resurrecting the "newly-minted widower in the supermarket" routine and seeing how that works.

"Excuse me? Do you know how to cook this...?, he asked knowing full how to do so because he's Italian and been cooking forever.