Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Seemingly Random Thought Process

I'm really trying to get back to the writing guys, I really am.

I started the year strong, and then it sort of tapered off. Then my real life work stepped up to the plate and said "Oh, did you want to play? I don't think so, back to the dungeon! You have a 2 o'clock whipping with burning poison ivy scheduled, and you wouldn't want to be late."

Thankfully, the job that pays the bills has become less of a hassle. Mentally, I'm still just coming back around to it though. It's funny how draining something like that can be.

The biggest challenge that I'm facing right now is that there are things that I REALLY want to write about that I can't for a variety of reasons. Don't get me wrong, if I was a journalist I wouldn't hesitate to publish it. And it's not like I'm exactly a closed book when it comes to my life - witness the poem I wrote for my sister's birthday.

But there are things that I won't write about because it affects people other than me. Like, for example, I'm not going to write about my friend who has been working as a contractor for a company for several years, always with a "maybe we'll be able to hire you full time next year" hanging over his head. I won't write that story because it could affect his livelihood, and if it affects his livelihood then it will certainly affect mine (i.e. when he hunts me down for affecting his livelihood). So I'll just say that if that situation were to theoretically happen to a good friend of mine, it would theoretically quite suck.

Also, it's not a very funny story. Theoretically.

Speaking of work stuff though: I had a couple of interesting moments in my job.

I was talking to a guy on the phone when in the middle of the conversation he asks me to say my name again.

Oh boy, this again.

I've been through this conversation about a thousand times and have written about it before. So I repeated my name.
Him: "What was your name again?"
Me: "Weh-Ming."
Him: "Weh-Ming? That sounds Asian."
Me: "Thank you?"
Him: "I'm just saying you don't sound like it."
Awkwardness ensued.
Why am I bringing this up? Because I have an incredibly racist theory. If I was to change the 'Ming' to a "deshon", would I get the same questions?
Him: "What was your name again?"
Me: "Wehdeshon."
Him: "Wehdeshon? That sounds..."
Me: "What? It sounds like what?"
I say it's an incredibly racist theory for two reasons: first, because I think it's true. And second, because I chose a name ending that sounds like the ending of a name that a certain group of people would choose to use. You know who I'm talking about. Those people.

Of course, I'm talking about people who are given made up names.

Out of curiousity, I did a google search of names that landed me on a site that tells you how popular a name is by year. Neither Deshon or DeShawn were in the top 1000 in the last hundred years. When presented with an option to graph the popularity of a name, OF COURSE I put in my name.

This is the response I received:
"Did you mean: whamming, whelming, whimming?"
Yes. Yes, those names are exactly what I meant.
"Mom, Dad. I want you to meet my fiance, Whelming. He's exactly average in every way shape and form."
And how about this great pick up? (Thanks to Scott for this!)
"Hey baby, how would you like to be over Whelming tonight?"
"Meh, I was under Whelming before."
"It's so true. Bitch."

The other interesting moment at work I had didn't involve me at all, but is a great political statement if ever I heard one. There I was, minding my own business, doing whatever it is that I do, and I start to overhear a conversation that is happening a few rows down from me.

I should mention that I work in a cubicle environment. A low-wall cubicle environment. In the evening, when most of the staff have left, sound carries. Not that this particular - completely unrelated to my job - group ever needs the environment to be silent for their conversations to be heard. I would say that I wasn't so much eaves-dropping as I was being eaves-carpet-bombed.

Now, for purposes that I shall call "legal", I shan't go into the details of the intense discussion that took place. I will simply say that there was some a task that needed to be completed on a particular day and none of the people that were trained on said task would be available to do it. It's a pretty common scenario in the world. Notice I said 'world' and not 'business world', because there comes a point in your life when you realize that stuff happens.

I won't bore you with the details of what was said by who. Suffice it to say that it was rather involved and went on far longer than I think it should have. I was chatting with a coworker through the magic of instant messaging about the ridiculousness of what I was hearing, when he wrote something that made me LOL. It was one of those rare instances when something that was said online actually translated into honest to goodness laughter in the real world, instead of just a slight increase of breathing out through the nose.

Immediately, upon hearing my laughter, the conversation stopped. It was at this point that I realized they did not know I was there. Despite the low walls and my total lack of stealth, they had somehow missed me sitting a few rows away. The argument that had taken more than twenty minutes of their lives away from them was resolved within minutes of my laughing.

Just like happens with politics sometimes, nothing gets done until somebody is paying attention.
Whoa, that got deep. What's that all about?

Here's a picture of a brain fart I found on Reddit.

There, that's better.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Happy Birthday to My Sister

I have written the following poem for my sister.

Just to set the record straight, this isn't going to be one of your fancy rhyming poems.  I'm not up to that level yet.  And you can tell it's a poem because of all the semicolons and the margins are all wibbly-wobbly.

I have done this for two reasons:  first, I need to try to write outside my comfort zone as an exercise.  Second, it is her birthday and I cannot afford to send her things like wine or balloons or a card.  Okay, I could probably pull off the card, but her birthday was yesterday, and it's not like I can afford a time travelling card now can I?

So instead, dear sister, I offer you the following tribute (get your tissues ready, cause you're totally going to cry):

Happy Birthday to My Sister
-A Poem By Weh-Ming 

For all the times that you still wanted to hang out with me,
Despite me telling you distinctly "No, you can't come with us.";

For all the times that you tagged along when I finally relented,
But only if you agreed to pay my way too;

For all the insanely bad movies that you watched with me,
Thus warping your mind and imagination forever;

For all the weird music that I introduced you to,
No wait, I'm actually pretty proud of that;

But for all the times that I did what I wanted to
While you had to stay inside and practice the piano;

For all the really crappy presents that I've given you over the years,
Including a box of notebooks and pencils (but not this way awesome poem);

For all the times that I dated your friends,
Which, although this only happened with one of your friends, I totally would have done it more often if I had been given the opportunity because you had some pretty cool friends that were also cute;

For all of these reasons, I want to wish you a happy birthday,
And let you know that the world is a better place because of you.

And also thank you for not telling everyone that I used to make you hang out with me in the bathroom
Because I was afraid to poop by myself when I was a kid.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's it take to trace a phone number these days?

A while ago, I was watching the cinematic masterpiece that is Die Hard: With a Vengeance, and it made me think of something.  But then I forgot what it was.  Gripping tale so far, right?

Last week, I watched an episode of Fringe (I am not a fan of Fringe, but it's something that I can watch while not paying attention) and an episode of The Mentalist and it brought back all those memories about what it was that I forgot that I was wondering about earlier.

What does it take to trace a phone call these days?

There's always a guy with a metal briefcase filled with what I suspect are an oscilloscope, a few knobs and switches, and a map.  But we live in a world of caller ID and Google.  Reverse phone number searches are practically routine - I do them whenever we get a number that we don't recognize.  And while I'm usually only able to get the city that the number is from (and yes, I know that this can be spoofed), how much harder can it be to get the address?

In all shows and movies, there's always a suspenseful scene in which the Phone Call Trace Technician says "Keep him on the line as long as possible."  Therein follows a back and forth between the kidnapper/terrorist/thief/murderer/telemarketing victim during which we cut back and forth on the banter between the callers and the PCTT who says things like "thirty more seconds" and "ten more seconds" and "no good, we lost him". 

Ultimately, phone tracing never works and when it does it's only as a red herring.  The police/FBI/CIA/KGB/Tom Cruise break down the door of the suspect backed up by most of the military forces of whatever country it's happening in, only to discover that the phone line was jimmied (I don't get to use the word 'jimmied' a lot, and I'm not sure I've used it properly here, but I feel I deserve credit for getting it in) and the real criminals are laughing at them through telephoto lenses set up on the other side of the street and streaming the video to their underground lair/space station/website offering hot live police action 24 hours a day XXX.  

I have a theory. 

Tracing phones probably doesn't take any time at all. I'm betting that if the authorities ever did need to trace back a phone call, it could be done in a matter of moments - even while the call was ringing.  I think that the reason that the whole "phone trace scene" is always played out like it is is because they don't want us to know this.  That they would prefer that criminals think that they have sixty seconds before they have to hang up or get caught. 

Oh, did I mention that I also watched Conspiracy Theory too?  It's a good movie.