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Multiple Me

This evening, I had an interesting pair of phone calls.

The first one was a man who immediately asked if I was Brian, then launched into a question asking about a network issue he was having. I was a bit flummoxed as I had no idea who he was, but attempted to answer the question (I theorized it was port blocking by the firewall). He asked me to confirm I worked for Deem; I then ask him his name and it was one I didn't recognize. But OK, no harm done, and we said goodbye.

A few minutes later, a woman called for me. She explained that the prior caller was her son, calling to see if I actually exist.

Yeah, that raised my eyebrows too.

Apparently, someone used my name, photos & bio to create a fake account on "Plenty of Fish," some sort of dating website, and she had been exchanging messages & txt messages with him. The fake Brian had been evasive on some question so she was a bit suspicious and started doing some checking with her son's assistance. They found my Instagram profile, which lead them to the red flag: Fake Brian mentioned he was in Belgium on business but my Instagram showed I was in Florida. She then called the hotel where he was staying and learned that they had never heard of him, and the room number he has sent her was invalid.

After she confronted him with this information, he vanished and the profile was deleted from the website. She then called me to warn me there was a copy of me floating around. And we actually had a pleasant conversation, and her son said he thought my resume was very impressive. Nice.

Anyway, I'm now googling my name to see what else pops up. So far, I've only found a fake profile in FaceBook (now reported & closed). My pic has been used in a couple of places as clickbait, one for a learn-anything-about-anyone site with dozens of different people named Brian Jarvis, and another which uses my image from Twitter to lure me into a pr0n website.

I have checked my credit reports and those came up clean. The information which I've found laying about has all come from public spaces: FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or generally visible public gov't documents. None of it has been especially personal.

I'm still a bit baffled that someone would have the need to create a fake profile, as well as a little flattered they decided I was a worthy person to imitate. I would like to ask the Fake Brian from Plenty of Fish why he felt the need, and what he thought he would accomplish.

If you know of any other means I should take to seek out more fakes of me, let me know. There are many valid Brian Jarvises out there than I had suspected, but I would like to track down anyone else using images of me or other such details.

Gym Renovations

I've noticed for some time that my local LA Fitness gym isn't exactly top shelf. It's OK: it has space, a broad range of equipment, a nice yoga room and a cycle room, a large basketball court, and an intermediate-sized swimming pool. Not bad, but not great.

Over the years, the carpeting has started to show its age. The lockers in the change room are in need of repair. The shower heads and fawcets in the showers are well past their prime. It's not a horrible gym, but it's far below the level of the LA Fitness near my data center, a shiny & gleaming new facility which sets a high bar.

Sadly, the only other LA Fitness convenient to home or work is the one in Wheaton, MD. It's the same distance from home as the downtown Silver Spring one I frequent, but if my preferred gym is ghetto, Wheaton is an outright slum and/or shanty town. It is a sad & miserable place, suffering from extreme mismanagement and neglected maintenance.

My local gym has been announcing renovations "any day now" for a while, but they've finally marked a date in the calendar. As of February 20, we will lose the change rooms and showers: there will be some sort of toilets made available, but I dread to think what form that might take. The gym will close completely for March 6-20 for complete renovations.

I can deal with the lack of change rooms & showers: I'll simply dress for the gym at home and have my shower when I get back to the house. The two week closer is a bit more serious: I don't want to be out of circulation that long so it seems I'll either have to find excuses to head to the data center more frequently so I can use the shiny Sterling location, or hold my nose to head to the Wheaton gym. Both options are less than ideal, but it's only for two weeks. My latest membership contract is up in May so at least I'll have a couple of months with the newly renovation version before deciding on committing for another contract.

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And.... 50!

OK, I'm now fifty years old. A half-century. Five decades. 18,262 days (remembering that 2000 wasn't a leap year). About 60% of my lifespan.

Surprisingly, fifty feels pretty good.

With age comes experience, and I'm better equipped mentally & emotionally to handle life now that at any point prior in my life. By gradual accumulation, I have financial & professional stability I would have envied when I was in my twenties. I am surrounded by a crowd of friends & family, including to my enormous surprise children & grandchildren (via marriage, but that's not significant). I'm also healthier & stronger than I've ever been, despite last year's knee surgery and minor issues from time to time. On the whole, I'm at the peak and it's all downhill from here.

The oddest sensation is that a huge burden of imposter syndrome has lifted away. I no longer feel like I'm faking being an adult: I am finally an adult now, in my internalized self-image.

I think I've been going through the motions of being a responsible adult since I was ten. I could do the work, I could keep up with the crowd, and I could handle the responsibility, but I wasn't physically the right age. Even if one is considered an adult at age 18, it's not quite true: proper maturity takes several more years. Biologically, our brains aren't even finished baking until the mid-twenties. In my thirties & forties, I still felt like I was the child being permitted at the grown-ups table, acceptable but not really accepted.

Today, there are no further doubts. There is something about that magic (and admittedly arbitrary) number of fifty in which all parts of me are finally in congruence. If there's any misalignment left, it's my mental image of me with brown hair rather than full grey, but that's all.

So this is what internal peace feels like. I kinda like it.

Now why hasn't AARP called yet?

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Every year, the DC Lambda Squares' Harvest Festival Hoedown raffles off a number of large prize baskets. It generates extra revenue for the fly-in, almost as much as dancer registrations themselves, and the event would run in the red if it wasn't for this extra income.

Interestingly, not every basket is claimed after the winning numbers are drawn. I suppose some people might have left early and didn't have the opportunity to check their numbers or claim the basket. Perhaps they were simply giving money to the club to support the event and didn't really care about winning anything in particular. Perhaps they won but decided against the basket itself as a version of buyer's remorse.

In any case, there were two baskets unclaimed and at last night's club night, we raffled them off again to the dancers at our annual holiday party. And I won one of them.

It's an eclectic basket. There were three serving bowls made from warming & shaping vinyl LP records, some luggage tags, a pack of holiday cards which have wildflower seeds embedded in the paper for future planting, two pairs of cufflinks and a number of York peppermint patties (the hoedown was held in York, PA, so the patties are part of our running theme).

This morning, I attempted to unwrap the package. I wasn't not entirely successful.

EVERYTHING IS TAPED IN PLACE.

Yes, the designer of the basket didn't want anything to shift in transit, so all items are tapped down with heavy but transparent industrial tape. I couldn't just unwrap the packaging: I had to cut the basket out of it. And then each individual cuff link, luggage tag, bowl and card had to be separately pried from the basket and wrapping, and each other. Even the peppermint patties had to be carefully cut away from the rest of the basket, sometimes unsuccessfully: the foil packaging would tear more easily than the tape. Given the number of foil failures, I had to eat several of the mints. It was challenging, but it was a sacrifice I had to make. You're welcome.

In all, I needed wirecutters, an exacto knife and a pair of scissors to free all of the items from their glittering cellphane prison. It shouldn't be this hard.

File Under "Self-Inflicted Wounds"

Yesterday at work, we received an email from a former employee who left the firm about three months ago. Apparently, he was getting deluged with automated alert txt messages from our systems and wanted them to stop.

Digging into it, we were at first mystified: he's not in any of the recipient lists in our monitoring packages or even email distribution lists. He's not in the corporate directories or any other sources of record. Then we also realized that the messages were for systems we had decommissioned and removed from our monitoring tools. So where were these being generated?

After some considerable effort, we discovered that the bozo had:
1. created a monitoring script for his production environment which he didn't document;
2. the monitoring script wasn't folded into our suite of monitoring tools so it wasn't using our alert management & scheduling systems;
3. he was running this monitoring script for the prod env from a dev workstation, not the proper prod services;
4. he hard-coded his personal contact info into the script so that he alone would get the alerts.

In short, he created the very mess he was now complaining to us to have fixed for him, and he did it in the most incredibly unprofessional means possible.

While I'm sympathetic that his mobile is getting flooded with txt messages and costing him a bundle if he doesn't have unlimited messaging, my sympathy ends there. He built this mess for himself and I was sorely tempted to let him wallow in it a while longer as a lesson in how not to do things.

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Migrations in Process

It's been a busy few days but I'm slowly catching up.

We've been slowly decommissioning one old storage array at the data center, requiring us to move the data to a newer array. We discovered some performance issues this week so we had to migrate two particular volumes to a different RAID pool but these activities required essentially two all-nighters this week.

That wouldn't be catastrophic but I also had my regular build work for the new data center cage, and since I'm the only employee on the east coast, it's not going to get done so long as I'm being sucked into these other spontaneous demands. That was unavoidable in this instance but I've made it clear to the dev teams that I'm only available to them for major issues, not trivial ones for the rest of this month.

And as life would have it, I had a few square dance calling gigs this week too: our Wednesday C2 group, a special C1 night for the DC Lambda Squares, a Friday evening holiday party called by John Marshall which I really wanted to attend, and co-calling a six hour C2 event Saturday morning & afternoon with Kent.

I'm happy to report that all of the tasks for the week were accomplished successfully, although at the expense of my gym workout schedule. Still, that's a small price to pay for the pleasure of knowing the other items are under control.

Today's migration isn't about data, but relocating my computer bunker from the basement to the first floor sewing room & middle bedroom. The basement bunker is convenient and optimized for my work, but it gets cold down there during the winter. A small electric heater helps but it has to run nearly constantly to keep the room comfortable. It's easier (and cheaper) just to work from the main floor bedroom until spring.

In all, life should be a bit more stable & normal for a couple of weeks. I hope.

Solaris EOL

I read rumours this morning that Oracle was going to be shutting down all further Solaris development.
Solaris being canned, at least 50% of teams to be RIF'd in short term. All hands meetings being cancelled on orders from legal to prevent news from spreading. Hardware teams being told to cease development. There will be no Solaris 12, final release will be 11.4. Orders coming straight from Larry.

Even if development is stopped, there is still promised support for existing versions for a couple more years, but once the last version runs its course, the game is over.

I have mixed feelings about this, if it is true. I've been with Sun Microsystems since the Sun 3 line and SunOS 3.5, back in the 1980s when the Motorola 68000 CPU was hot stuff. Hell, in those heady days, the OS included a compiler! The machines were sturdy, the screens were huge (cathode ray tubes, naturally) and while they were expensive, they sold like hot cakes. I worked for a Sun VAR in Toronto in the early 1990s, then for the University of Toronto caring for a Sun 3/280 server.

The transition to SPARC and the Sun 4 line was joyful and traumatic. I loved the faster & more powerful CPUs, and the upgrade of our machine was as simple as swapping out a VME board. I did not love Solaris, however. Yeah, SunOS 4.1.5 at that time needed a complete refresh to handle newer communications technologies, extra cores, multi-CPU architectures and such, but it was a solid OS and worked well. Slowlaris was a painfully poor performer and a resource pig by comparison. And it didn't come on quarter-inch tapes: one had to lay down serious money for a CD drive since that was the only distribution method available. And adding insult to injury, it didn't have a development environment by default: it was an extra.

Over the years, my Sun 4/280 gained extra memory and SCSI drives. It was running better than ever, albeit two versions of Solaris later.

After some extra years, a couple of extra jobs and a move to the US, I landed at Fannie Mae for ten years. We were told Fannie Mae was the second largest Sun customer on the east coast (after NASA): I was part of the team which built and maintained their MornetPlus system, mostly built on Sun 250 and Sun 450 machines for data processing and a large pair of Sun 6800 machines for their core cluster. The 6800 machines were standalone, but the 450 models would fit two to a rack --and they weighed a tonne. We were mostly running Solaris 2.6 when I arrived, transitioned to Solaris 8 during my tenure, and began migrating to Solaris 10 as I left (now eight years ago). I loved having a single operating system for our entire enterprise: it made support so much easier, and Solaris 8 was again pretty solid.

While I used Solaris 10 at Fannie Mae and again at Talaris/Rearden Commerce/Deem where I work currently, I've never loved it. Solaris 10 and I tolerated each other. It felt snobbish and repressed. It ran solidly and had some interesting new features (introducing zones), but other kids on the block (eg Linux) seemed to be moving faster and offered more flexibility. And most of all, the new kids were vastly cheaper.

Fannie Mae paid an enormous amount to Sun Microsystems every year for support. Millions of dollars. Oracle bought up Sun Microsystems and continued to support Solaris and release new models of the Sun hardware, but they added their own special Oracle DNA, that is, their desperate desire to drain customers of every penny they had. Support costs soared and purchase prices spiked, although discounts sometimes be had if you bundled together other Oracle products, especially their software.

Even now, I'm typing this while monitoring a storage issue on a Sun T4-1 machine running Solaris 10. It's fine, nothing much to write about. But we're also building a new data center cage, refreshing our entire hardware base and allowing us to retire & scrap our old systems by spring of 2017. Sun will not be part of the new cage: the Solaris stops here.

As I said, Solaris 10 and I never loved each other, but after Larry Ellison got his mitts on it all, I knew it was time for me to start dating other operating systems. Our on-again-off-again affair had run its full course.

So reading that Oracle is tossing in the metaphoric towel on Solaris (and presumably the hardware line too) is like seeing an obituary notice in the newspaper for an old boyfriend. It's a sad thing and I'll remember the good times, but I let go along time ago.

Post-Thanksgiving

I'd like to say I had a really great long weekend. Really, I'd love nothing better than to say that. Truly, I would.

But lest one thinks otherwise, I should immediately say that it was a perfectly fine long weekend. It just wasn't the weekend I was looking forward to.

Our office was supposed to be shut down for the entirety of US Thanksgiving week to force all employees to burn up their vacation days as we transition to a would-be unlimited vacation policy. And while that worked for most of the company, I was hauled back from vacation mode on Monday and Tuesday to deal with various technical issues. One of the major problems was that while the US operation was on vacation, the Bangalore portion was working a normal schedule and demanded that any service they needed from the US side be made instantly available as they had their own deadlines to meet.

I'm fine with dealing with the occasional unforeseen hardware issue --random things happen. I'm a bit pissed that expectations between the US and India teams were so poorly communicated that my division, supposedly on vacation, were essentially just made to work from home. I'm having a few words with management tomorrow: I want my Monday and Tuesday back, either not being counted as vacation or given two lieu days to make up for this farce.

We saw the movie "Arrival" on Thursday. Quick review: I liked it. It was more cerebral than a lot of other films on offer, and my inner linguist was fascinated by the challenges of learning a language from an entity with whom one has literally nothing in common. There was a major item of scifi silliness which irks me a bit, but it was a construct essential to the storytelling so I'm willing myself to let it slide --watch the movie and you'll understand what I mean.

I wish I could say what I did on Friday but I can't for the life of me think what it was. Which probably means napping, reading and relaxing.

Maurita & Lucas and their daughter Elodie (now 17 months old) came for Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. Elodie was a delight: she's so much fun. We had the traditional turkey and a stack of low-carb, gluten-free sides which the Pilgrims would never recognize. Tasted good though, so what else matters? In an unusual burst of restraint, I didn't stuff myself to the point of explosion. And there will be turkey leftovers for days.

I even got the gym regularly during this past week: every day except Tuesday morning and today. I typically take a rest day after chest day as the chest, shoulders and arms take quite a pounding a need a brief recovery space before the next workout. If I'm clever, I try to book my data center visits or outside appointments on those recovery days to help smooth out my calendar.

This day has been more relaxing and tinkering, and I'm glad of it as the following week is going to be heavy. I've cleaned up a lot of files on my laptop, freeing up another 16GB of disk space. I've finally sorted through a stack of digital photos, cleaning 4GB of them off my mobile phone and filing them away on an external archive. At this moment, I have some cleanups in progress on my Google Drive too.

After being inactive for the past 2-3 weeks, I'm back into square dance calling this week in a big way. We have our regular C2 group meeting on Wednesday, I'm calling a C1/C2 night for the DC Lambda Squares Thursday, and Kent & I are co-calling an all-day C2 session for our crowd & friends Saturday. John Marshall is calling a holiday party Friday evening so we'll likely attend that as well. In all, my reduced calling schedule has helped my professional schedule immensely, and I hope to keep this new balance as long as I can.

Sadly, tomorrow is Monday, with all the excitement that entails. More news as it develops.

Injuries & Repairs

Work at the gym continues. I'm enjoying the ride --for the most part. The delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) still kicks my ass from time to time, but that's the price one pays for progress.

A level of pain will come up next May when my gym membership expires: LA Fitness no longer does annual one-time payment memberships with discounts for multiple years, but instead offer only monthly subscriptions. The same tier as I currently have (multi-club access except for the Signature gyms, unlimited usage) will cost $30/month. My existing membership was about $750 for three years, or about $21/month, so the new monthly subscription will represent a 43% increase. This doesn't make me happy. Come May, I'll have to dig a bit to see how much wiggle room LA Fitness can offer me, or I could downgrade to the $25/month single-gym option. Or I go looking for another gym.

In my physical pain, injuries come and go. In early 2015, I overworked my right medial deltoid, causing me some discomfort for a long time. I could push & pull directly in front of me for, say, low rows or light bench presses, but could not lift my arm over my head to steady the bar for squats or inclined shoulder presses. Medical exams showed it would heal on its own and it finally did: I've only recently reincorporated some of my original above-shoulder exercises into my regular routine.

Other injuries are more embarrassing. I have a wound still healing on my right shin from accidentally walking into the jutting end of an unused barbell. That one joins two other scars on the same shin for the same reason. *sigh*

And this week, I lost a postage stamp-sized piece of scalp & hair while bench pressing. I just finished a set at 160lbs when I sat up for a minute rest; I misjudged the space between my head and the barbell, scraping the top of my head against the roughed handgrip portion of the metal bar which --because it had 160lbs on it-- didn't budge an inch. It's just a minor skin scrape but damn, it hurt. And bled. And was embarrassing.

In my own defence, I have yet to have to be rescued from equipment because I trapped myself under weight I couldn't handle. I haven't dropped any heavy equipment on my toes. I haven't fallen down stairs. No ambulance has been called for me. But then again, there are many years left ahead so who knows what the future might bring?

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The Hole in My Head, Follow-up

The tissue removed from my scalp has been officially declared an inflamed keratosis by the lab techs who work with my dermatologist. It is utterly uninteresting medically, and no follow-up is required.

The wound where the tissue was removed still has some healing to go, but there is no sign of any infection or complications of any kind.

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