edschweppe: (snowpocalypse)
It's Pi day (3/14) and we've got a blizzard! Or at least warnings thereof:

National Weather Service Taunton MA
719 AM EDT Tue Mar 14 2017

Hartford CT-Tolland CT-Windham CT-Western Franklin MA-
Eastern Franklin MA-Northern Worcester MA-Central Middlesex MA-
Western Essex MA-Eastern Essex MA-Western Hampshire MA-
Western Hampden MA-Eastern Hampshire MA-Eastern Hampden MA-
Southern Worcester MA-Northern Middlesex MA-
Northwest Providence RI-
Including the cities of Hartford, Windsor Locks, Union, Vernon,
Putnam, Willimantic, Charlemont, Greenfield, Orange, Barre,
Fitchburg, Framingham, Lowell, Lawrence, Gloucester,
Chesterfield, Blandford, Amherst, Northampton, Springfield,
Milford, Worcester, Ayer, Foster, and Smithfield
719 AM EDT Tue Mar 14 2017


* LOCATIONS...Western Massachusetts and Hartford County in

* HAZARD TYPES...Heavy snow with Blizzard Conditions.

* ACCUMULATIONS...Snow accumulation of 12 to 18 inches, with
localized 18 to 24 inch amounts possible across extreme
western Massachusetts.

* TIMING...Snow will overspread the region through 7 am this
morning. The snow will quickly become heavy by late morning
with 2 to 4 inch per hour snowfall rates possible at times
into the afternoon. The snow may end as a bit of sleet or
freezing rain across portions of northern CT into central MA
and northeast MA. The snow will taper off early this evening...
but lingering snow showers will remain possible especially
across far western MA.

* IMPACTS...The heavy snow and strong winds will result in
blizzard conditions and near zero visibility at times. Many
roads will become impassable and strong winds may result in
some tree damage and scattered power outages...especially
across northeast MA. Travel is not recommended.

* WINDS...Northeast 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 55 mph.

* VISIBILITIES...One quarter mile or less at times.


A Blizzard Warning is issued when sustained winds or frequent
gusts over 35 mph are expected with considerable falling and/or
blowing snow. Visibilities will become poor with whiteout
conditions at times. Those venturing outdoors may become lost or
disoriented. So persons in the warning area are strongly advised
to stay indoors.

Given the forecast, I didn't bother trying to go into work this morning. The commuter rail is running on a "reduced" schedule, and walking through the teeth of a blizzard is ... not my idea of fun.

(Also, I think this is the first time I've reprinted a National Weather Service warning message since they abandoned their ALL-CAPS TELETYPE FORMAT. I kind of miss it.)
edschweppe: (keep calm garcia)
... to a bomb-squad robot in the wild:
BOSTON (CBS) – An area of Atlantic Ave. in Boston was shut down as bomb technicians blew up a suspicious suitcase left by an unknown man next to a Homeland Security vehicle.

The suitcase could be seen Friday morning on the ground next to a police SUV on Atlantic Ave.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said the bag was left by an unidentified man who then quickly left the area. Police say the man is not a suspect, but they want to talk to him about why he left the suitcase behind.

A bomb robot picked the item up and carried it across the street. A short time later the suitcase was blown up on the side of the road.

Evans said that when technicians used an x-ray to look inside the suitcase, wires and a power source could be seen.

Police do not believe there were any explosive items inside, but decided to do a controlled detonation.


FYI, this is literally across the street from my Current Paying Gig. That "controlled detonation" was pretty loud; fortunately, apart from traffic backups, no lasting damage appears to have happened.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
So tomorrow isn't the weekend, or a holiday, and nobody's predicting a Snowstorm of DOOOM. That means it's time to go back to work, right?

Well, that may depend on the MBTA. As-you-know-Bob, the T shut down completely on Sunday during the height of the blizzard; that was the second time in a week that they'd cancelled rail service. Today was President's Day, when the T normally runs commuter rail on a Saturday schedule, which for my line means eight round-trips instead of seventeen. Despite the reduced schedule, there were still an awful lot of cancellations and late trains showing up on the service updates pages and the @MBTA_CR Twitter feed.

They've now announced that Tuesday's commuter rail would be on a "modified weekday schedule". For the Fitchburg line, that's going to mean only eleven round trips (vice 17), only four of which (vice six) will be during rush hour. The odds of them actually meeting that schedule are ... miniscule at best. (Not that driving in would be an improvement, considering how many of the main roads into and around Boston still don't have all their travel lanes cleared.)

Oh, and we may be getting another inch or two of snow tomorrow. Because of course we need a fresh coat.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
The recent snowstorms here in Boston were so bad that the MBTA cancelled all rail [1] service today to try and recover. Now they're saying they'll run a "modified weekday" schedule tomorrow. Looking at the Fitchburg line schedule, "modified weekday" means cancelling two trains each way during rush hour and two more each way off-peak (thus only running 13 round trips instead of the regular 17).

I'm not sure if this is actually an improvement over the number of trains they were cancelling last week, but it is a tremendous improvement over not running anything at all. And, hey, maybe I'll be able to make it into the Current Paying Gig tomorrow!

[1] They also cancelled all their ferry service, too, but that doesn't directly affect me. Supposedly, there was "limited" bus service.
edschweppe: (whiskey tango foxtrot)
Okay, this is really, seriously, fucking bad. Everything the MBTA runs on rails? Shut down tomorrow:

Guess who's not going into work tomorrow, either?
edschweppe: (snowpocalypse)
Three weeks running now, we've had a big snowstorm to start the week [1], and three weeks running now I'm not even trying to go into the Current Paying Gig on Monday.

Overnight, I only received about four inches or so, which in "normal" times would be a manageable amount to deal with for the short drive to the commuter rail parking lot. However, the MBTA still hasn't recovered from the five-plus feet of snow that Boston's already received in the last couple of weeks. Plus, while I've made a lot of progress over the last six months, my knee still isn't what anyone could call fully recovered - and I really have no interest in walking the mile from North Station to the Current Paying Gig when said mile is most likely poorly (if at all) shoveled. Let's not even talk about the single-digit wind chill factors out there...

In short, therefore, I'm once again staying at home. Whee.

[1] Technically, the big snow on the 26th didn't start until evening; however, the forecasts were dire enough that I didn't risk going into town and getting caught trying to get home in the teeth of a blizzard.


Feb. 8th, 2015 12:46 pm
edschweppe: (snowpocalypse)
Not snowing at this moment. That's likely to change in the next couple of hours, according to the forecasts, which still have me in the 18-24 inch band by Monday night.

Meanwhile, no word from the Current Paying Gig if they're going to be open on Monday or not. And the MBTA commuter rail is having serious problems maintaining their Sunday schedule - so far, they've had three scheduled departures from Fitchburg and two of them have been reported as delayed. This bodes ill for the chances of working trains tomorrow, in the teeth of inch-an-hour snowfalls; even if the CPG is open, odds appear poor that I'll be able to make it in.

edschweppe: (snowpocalypse)
Another Winter Storm Warning is up, effective 10PM tonight through 1AM Tuesday morning. This time, the call is for 12-18 inches through Monday night ... except for a "localized band of 18 to 24 inches", which is located approximately between where I live and where I work. I've got a funny feeling that I'm not going into the Current Paying Gig come Monday morning ...

We've already had multiple feet of snowfall this year. According to the graphic I just saw on the television, Boston had 5.5 inches of snowfall this season before January 23 - and 48.7 inches since then. I've got twenty inches on the ground right now, not counting plow berms and parking-lot mountains.


Dug out

Feb. 2nd, 2015 09:57 pm
edschweppe: (snowpocalypse)
Or mostly dug out, at least. It looks like I picked up about fourteen inches of fluffy snow from today's storm, which is hopefully finally abating.

I did not risk going into the Current Paying Gig, as that would have involved (a) driving on back roads (b) to the commuter rail parking lot, then (c) taking the train in and (d) walking from North Station to said Current Paying Gig. (a) would have been bad enough, but even if (b) had been properly plowed in the morning (no guarantee) it would have been socked in by nightfall. (c) would have been an "adventure", since almost every train was either seriously late or cancelled entirely (due to mechanical failures, frozen switches, etc) And (d) - well, Boston hadn't finished clearing sidewalks from the last snowpocalypse. Slogging a mile through a foot of snow would be just the thing for my not-yet-fully-functional knee. (Not.)

Tomorrow? We'll see; at least I'm dug out enough to have the option of going in.

Weather folks on the news were saying that this has been the snowiest single week in local history. Over three feet in Boston; over four feet in Worcester; over five feet in Leominster, about fifteen miles west of here.
edschweppe: (snowpocalypse)
Just got the official word from the Current Paying Gig not to bother coming in Tuesday. Not surprising, since Governor Baker has declared a state of emergency, with a travel ban and MBTA shutdown effective at midnight tonight.

No snowflakes yet. Emphasis on the word "yet".
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
And I still don't have a clever usericon. I do have continued progress towards a healed left knee, though, which is more important.

I'm doing well enough to not feel the need for a walking stick - on level, carpeted floors, at least. I'm not quite willing to risk the vast marbled halls of the Current Paying Gig's lobby (which are remarkably slippery even when dry) without having the stick at hand, let alone the Adventures in Frost Heaves which are downtown Boston sidewalks. OTOH, I can actually traverse said sidewalks - slowly, mind you - and walk between the MBTA stop of my choice and the Current Paying Gig. Shifting to the commuter rail instead of driving all the way downtown won't necessarily save time, but will save money and will usually save aggravation.

And next week, PT will start to include "gradual stairs" and "gentle incline". I'm certainly looking forward to being once again able to traverse such obstacles unaided.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
It's been eight weeks, now, since my knee surgery, and progress continues to progress. Today, my knee was flexible enough to let me actually tie shoelaces! Up to now, I've been wearing slip-on shoes. It's very nice to have that particular option back.

I'm also hobbling along well enough to handle walking from the North Station train platforms to the bus stop (for the rush-hour-only bus that stops two blocks from my Current Paying Gig) or the taxicab stand (in case I find myself at the station outside of rush hour). This means I can actually take the train into work rather than having to drive all the way downtown - some of the time, at least. Physical therapy days will probably still involve driving in, however, as I don't want to risk being late (a real danger with the T's commuter rail).

The real big thing about being eight weeks post-surgery, though, won't happen until my next session of physical therapy, as that's when "muscle strengthening exercise" will start.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
And things are going reasonably well.

Not perfectly well, mind. The knee brace is being occasionally recalcitrant, sliding down my leg further than desired and thus not providing the support it's supposed to. And, of course, having to wear the thing at all is an irritant. It's particularly irritating to have to wear it to work, since the Current Paying Gig doesn't permit men to wear shorts and the brace does not fit under dress slacks. (OTOH, the knee brace is an effective conversation starter.)

Having to drive into downtown Boston on a daily basis is irritating, as well; rush hour traffic has not gotten any more fun since the last time I had a downtown gig. The long-term solution will be to take the commuter rail; however, that has to wait until (a) I can walk several blocks in reasonable comfort and (b) I don't have to keep working physical therapy appointments into my schedule. The short-term good news is that the outfit running the parking garage seems to have figured out that, yes, there are now people driving in who use the handicapped-accessible spaces; unlike the week before, I didn't once have to bug the attendants to unchain the accessible spots.

However, my range-of-motion is continuing to improve, as is the strength of my left quadriceps muscle (which basically had nothing at all to do for the whole month of July). Hopefully I'm still on track to get rid of the brace after my next followup (in a couple of weeks).

First PT!

Aug. 27th, 2014 09:17 pm
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Today was the first of I'm sure many physical therapy sessions. (No boats, alas, to go with the PT.) The session was mostly administrivia, but I did get a couple of exercises for homework.

Meanwhile, for the second time this week, I've pulled into the garage at the new Current Paying Gig and found the handicapped spaces chained off. Grumble. Apparently the garage folks aren't used to anyone actually using them. I may have to drop a note to the facilities folks and see if they can lean on the building management to lean on the parking vendor to, y'know, maybe leave the handicapped-accessible parking accessible ...


Apr. 29th, 2014 02:55 pm
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
In which I use my "professional" blog to disagree with claims that Test Driven Development is dead:
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
that I've been at my current Current Paying Gig for five years.

On the other hand, I must have been good for the neighborhood; that first day was the only one where a cop needed me to move so he could set up surveillance.

Oh, joy.

Mar. 18th, 2013 09:38 pm
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Another day, another snowstorm. The National Weather Service has put a Winter Storm Warning into effect from now until 8PM tomorrow, calling for 8-12 inches of snow (plus maybe a trace of ice) in my neck of the woods. No word yet from the Current Paying Gig as to whether or not they're going to ask folks to show up tomorrow morning.

So I guess I'll have a White Vernal Equinox. Not quite the same ring to it as a White Christmas, somehow.

Snow day

Mar. 8th, 2013 11:35 am
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Around six this morning, the folks at the Current Paying Gig sent out a message that said CPG would be opening at ten, due to the ongoing snowstorm. I'm wasn't terribly surprised; driving home last night, the local streets outside the CPG were in terrible condition, while those at home were barely wet. (I found myself stuck behind a bus just outside the garage at work; that bus took three traffic-light cycles to get enough traction to make a right turn up a hill.)

Around nine AM, the CPG sent out another message, further postponing the opening time until noon.

About half an hour ago, they sent out yet another message, throwing in the towel and declaring the place closed for the day.

All this makes me think that the conditions at work must be really bad. During last month's snowpocalypse, they had the place open despite active National Weather Service blizzard warnings.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Last week pretty much stank. Particularly at the Current Paying Gig, where one of my1 units suddenly stopped working in production. It runs fine on my desktop, in the common development environment, and in the unit test environment. In production, though? Kaboom. I suspect the never-to-be-sufficiently-damned Microsoft Jet database drivers. However, there was plenty of other Bad Stuff going down elsewhere, including one of my fellow choristers being rushed to the hospital only to discover she had advanced leukemia. And let's not forget the folks on my friends list who are having issues of their own. Or the fact that the next episode of Shadow Unit was postponed "[d]ue to a personal emergency interference from the network relating to an ongoing news story in the public media."

The weekend, though, has been pretty darn good. Friday night, David Surette and Susie Burke played a gig at my church's coffeehouse, and I had a blast. Saturday night was the church services auction; the congregation made a boatload of money, and I bought a lot of seats at dinners over the next year. Plus, I got to be part of the impromptu group of folks leading the crowd in singing excerpts from The Pirates of Penzance while the auction volunteers tallied up the bills. Finally, today was a beautifully sunny and not-too-chilly day, which meant I had the moonroof open throughout my day's driving.

This upcoming work week may or may not contain suckitude. But this? Was a good weekend.

1 It's mine until the Powers What Be find somebody I can turn it over to. Based on historical trends2, the expected date for such turnover is somewhere around 2015.
2 Over the last year, said PWB have graciously permitted me to hand one such unit off to somebody else.
edschweppe: (can't take it any more)
When the latch on your bedroom door disassociates itself from the spindle that's supposed to pull it away from the jamb when you turn the knob, thus preventing you from opening said door without pulling the pins out of the hinges: that's a bad day.

When the module that's been happily generating that custom Excel spreadsheet in a couple of minutes suddenly decides to take seven hours to run: that's a bad day.

When you realize that you've been working on this one damn extract process for two freaking years and it's still not handling all the edge cases correctly: that's a bad day.

When you don't get to go into Boston to see [livejournal.com profile] matociquala at her book signing because you're still trying to fight the Crisis of the Week at ten o'clock at night: yeah, today is pretty much fired.

On the other hand, tomorrow has a low hurdle to overcome to not suck as much.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Today started off badly, with a flat tire on my brand-new car. Alas, this model has a "limited service" spare tire, only rated for 50mph or less, which means no freeway driving, which means the flat needed to be fixed today (what with the commute to the Current Paying Gig being pretty much all freeways). Further alas, the flat was caused by a sidewall puncture, which means the tire had to be replaced. Further further alas, the manufacturer doesn't make that tire anymore, which meant that I had to get two replacement tires so as not to screw up the car's handling.

Then there were all the alarums, excursions, and skies-falling-on-heads that occurred at said Current Paying Gig between the time I left home and the time I was first able to log in remotely in the dealer's waiting room. (Details will be omitted to protect the guilty; expletives will be changed to protect the innocent.) At least the actual code fix was straightforward, and I shouldn't need to intervene further this weekend.

On the plus side, the clear skies, waxing moon and fresh snowpack looked awfully pretty driving home tonight.
edschweppe: (amplifying your effectiveness)
Late last night (or early this morning, depending on how you look at it), I got home from the 2010 Amplifying Your Effectiveness conference in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. A quick recap of the events of the conference:

Monday AM: "You Are Here. You Want to Go There?" (Session 3, Johanna Rothman) This was a session about assessments - in particular, how an assessor (such as Johanna) might go about assessing an organization. A sample assessment report (250Kb PDF) is on her website. For me, the value was in learning ways to look at my own organization (at the Current Paying Gig).

Monday PM: "Reading the River: Using the Organizational Currents to Get You Where You Want to Go" (Session 5: Don Gray) This turned out to be more of an exercise in identifying what the organizational currents might be than ways to figure out what any particular organization's currents actually are. Still useful for me, although not quite what I'd hoped for.

Tuesday AM: I had planned to attend "Seeing How the Work Works" (Session 10, Esther Derby); however, I found myself having to work on issues back at the Current Paying Gig. Definitely not what I'd hoped for.

Tuesday PM: I had planned to attend "Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Managing Risks" (Session 16, Steve Smith); however, when I got to the room, I found it was cancelled. Instead, I attended "Agile Program Management: Another Approach to Large Projects" (Session 15, Johanna Rothman). This involved an exercise in which two project teams attempted to create unique greeting card designs, and created one of the funniest scenes of the conference. One of the requirements was that each card had to have at least six lines of verse inside the card, My team came up with a fair amount of English-language doggrel. The other team, however, was mostly comprised of folks from Sweden - and their verse was all in Swedish. (Well, it certainly sounded like Swedish.) Poor Johanna nearly died laughing, especially when the Fourth of July card was read aloud...

Wednesday AM: "The Budgeting Black Hole: Predicting the Unknowable" (Session 7, Johanna Rothman) Another simulation exercise, this time involving making paper flower baskets. Apart from seeing the communication difficulties involved when project teams are spread across multiple locations, the thing that struck me most about this session was how accounting principles can drive companies to waterfall-style lifecycles. Waterfall approaches can be easily treated as capital expenditures (since you're not getting any value until the project goes live), and capital expenditures get tax advantages that operating expenses don't.

Wednesday PM: "Move Over Big Boss, The Servant Leader Is Moving In: From Mandate and Monitor to Guide and Support" (Session 22: Esther Derby) This session was aimed more at managers (especially those with command-and-control styles) than folks in the trenches like me, but I still found it valuable. After all, I might find myself a manager some day...

Thursday all-day: "Know Your Options: Solve, Manage, Cope or Exit" (Esther Derby, Don Gray, Johanna Rothman, Steve Smith) I'd signed up for the all-day Thursday session before the topic had been announced, simply because I felt certain it would be worth my while regardless. As it turned out, this was a great session for me, given some of the more frustrating things going on at the Current Paying Gig. One point in particular was the seductiveness of the "if I just do this enough, it'll all work out" trap. Another was the remarkable effectiveness of reframing the initial problem statement in opening up new options.

AYE may or may not be held in Phoenix next year, depending on the fate of Arizona's new anti-immigration laws. It'll be held somewhere, though, and I plan on going.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Well, let's see:

1) We finally got a snowstorm to leave some of the white stuff around here (instead of continuing to dump on Baltimore and DC). Much prettier looking than the combination of grimy plow leavings and bare patches that I've had for the last few weeks.

2) Season 3 of Shadow Unit is underway.

3) I've put in my request for this year's Amplifying Your Effectiveness conference. I missed last year's conference due to the unhappy timing of certain events at the Current Paying Gig; however, those events are not going to recur this year. The Great And Powerful Oz Has Spoken.

4) I've also mailed off my registration for the All-Star II conference on Star Island. Between Star and 4th Street Fantasy, the summer should get started with a bang.


Hmm. Looks like four things make a post. Or at least this post. Works for me!
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Today rather sucked rocks for most of the day. Apart from various crappy news stories and several members of my f-list suffering from awful situations, a particularly unwise non-developer on my project decided to "fix" a broken SQL query in a module I originally wrote. Not only did the "fix" break things even more, but said non-developer also managed to:
(a) not test the "fixed" query
(b) not notice that the SSIS package that uses the query errored out when executed
(c) not notice that the output file that the SSIS package is supposed to generate didn't get generated
(d) declare that the "fix" worked
and (e) request that the "fix" be promoted to the pre-production environment!

However, this evening made up for today, for I got to see and hear Bob Franke perform live at the coffeehouse run by my church, the First Parish Church of Stow and Acton. He's a splendid singer-songwriter, well known for tunes like "Hard Love" and "For Real". He's also a tremendous performer, with a gorgeously smooth voice and complete comfort with his material.

And that's just what I needed after a truly crappy day: really good live music.

There's a hole in the middle of the prettiest life
So the lawyers and the prophets say
Not your father nor your mother
Nor you lover's gonna ever make it go away
And there's too much darkness in an endless night
To be afraid of the way we feel
Let's be kind to each other
Not forever but for real
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
A day which started on a weird note indeed. Parking for this Current Paying Gig is a public garage, which was (for whatever reason) close to full. I had to drive up all the way to the top level, with another vehicle following close behind. I finally found a spot and pulled in; whereupon the driver of the vehicle behind me stopped and walked up to my car. Said driver flashes a badge at me and says, "Sir, could you park further up the ramp? I need this spot for surveillance."

Not a problem - there was plenty of parking further up the ramp - but definitely a weird start to the day.


edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Edmund Schweppe

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