Monthly Archives: August 2005

The previous post about Roommates reminded me of this little story:

A long time ago I roomed with two guys: Karl and Dennis. I’d been suitemates with Dennis in college and got along with him reasonably well. Karl and I were on less good terms, though I’m a pretty easy guy to get along with. They were initially going to get an apartment together, but I was needing a place and three ways is safer and cheaper than two.

Things went swimmingly for a while. They were closer to each other than they were to me, for the most part. But that was fine because things with my then-girlfriend Evangeline made me pretty constantly need space and to be alone. I should have noticed, however, when Dennis was distancing himself from us. He’d done the same in the dorms before deciding to keep the door between our apartments locked.

Dennis was a big Delosa Dragons hockey fan. As such, when the Dragons dropped out of the playoffs, he was was pretty distraught. As he generally did when he was distraught, he popped in an adolescent sports movie. It was “Bad News Bears” for baseball, “Little Giants” for football, and one of the Mighty Ducks movies for hockey. This time it was Mighty Ducks 3. Karl, meanwhile, was quite bored, so he was hanging around the living room. I was working on my computers at the time on the kitchen table.

Karl was pretty relentless in his poking fun at the movie. The movie, to be frank, left itself wide open to snide criticism. I wasn’t following the plot or anything, but with a movie like that who really needs to? I kept my mouth shut and Karl didn’t. He pressed on. Dennis, already upset about the Dragons’ loss, got up, got his tape out of the VCR, went to his room, and never spoke to Karl again.

I had already made the decision to go month-to-month, though it was mostly so that I could move out. I figured that they were okay living together cause that was their plan before I entered the picture (before I was the mediator, I was the third wheel!), I was making enough money that I could afford to, and I could move closer to work. Things didn’t work out as I had planned, though it certainly help keep the hole Karl and I would have to dig out of smaller.

For an excruciating three weeks, they communicated through me.

“Tell that jerk I don’t want to speak to him.”

“Tell the crybaby I’ll talk to him when he grows up.”

And then one day, Karl woke up and I came home from working the night-shift and Dennis was gone. I’d later found out that since he didn’t have a place in town to live, he quit his job and moved about 600 miles away to live with his grandmother. More immediately of concern was our own situation and particularly mine. He was already back a month’s rent and since we had to give notice and hadn’t paid the previous month’s rent, and he had the largest room and paid the most in rent, he owed me nearly four digits. He also dashed my plans for getting my own place. Not only was my financial situation more precarious, but there was no way that Karl could afford his own and it would have been selfish of me to not take him in to account. But at the time I was just glad that the stalemate was over – whatever the conclusion.

I could have lived with either separately, but I had gotten tired of being messenger. Karl and I ultimately made great (if odd) roommates and he was an usher at my wedding (which Dennis did not attend, perhaps because Karl would be there). It did take quite a while for me to get my money back. Most if it, anyway, and I forgave the rest.

I’m not generally a big fan of adolescent sports movies. They’re formulaic and predictable and tiresome. I did think the original Mighty Ducks movie was alright. I’ve heard that the second is actually better than the first, though I wouldn’t know. What I do know, however, is that I hate Mighty Ducks 3 with a passion. Even though I’ve not really seen it.

Category: Ghostland

I’ve never been a pacifist. I guess I’ve always considered war a “necessary evil.” That’s not to say that I necessarily agree with every war that we have ever engaged in or are currently engaging in, but rather that I consider war inherently unfortunate, but not inherently immoral.

It must be difficult to be a pacifist in this country. Even when we’re not at war in the sense we currently are, there’s always something going on somewhere. Combine that with the fact that most all of us know someone that has been in the military, and a pacifist is left with a lot of people that have engaged in (or were willing to directly engage in) something they considered to be wrong. If you’re against the Iraq War, for instance, you can say benignly assume that the soldier didn’t know he would be used for such nefarious ends. But if you’re against war at all, it gets more difficult.

To a lesser degree, the same is true with people that support political positions that you disagree with. They may be the nicest people in the world and they may be doing what they do with the best of motivations, but any way you look at it, they spend time, energy, and money in opposition to your ideals. Benignly and unintentionally, they are your opponents.

The situation I constantly find myself in has more to do with the latter situation than the former, but some days it feels like the former. These people do more than just agree with me, but additionally they support an institution that makes my life more difficult. And previously directly engaged in behavior of those I was regularly annoyed by for more than a year.

The term out here is RM: Returned Missionaries.

My boss and friend Willard is a Returned Missionary. So are roughly half of my coworkers and a number of other acquaintances. They spent two years of their life (assuming they made it the whole way) going out and trying to get people to convert.

It’s a lofty idea that I can appreciate. Right up until they’re knocking on my door. When you’re in their crosshairs, it’s a different feeling entirely. They keep stopping by long after you’ve told them to leave. When they’ve done all they can, they just send a new set.

Shortly after moving up here, I made the mistake of letting some in and accepting their Book of Mormon. Further, I read the sections they asked me to and even the whole books that included them (3 Nephi and Moroni). I asked them questions.

The whole time I was very clear with them about my intentions. I wanted to learn more about the faith so that I could better understand those that live around me. I wanted to understand what they believe and why. I did not want to convert. I told them if they wanted to rack up some conversion numbers, they were wasting their time. They stuck around anyway, I assumed because they were just glad to get someone that wasn’t outright hostile.

It can’t be easy to be a missionary. You’re parachutted into a community that you are most likely very unfamiliar with, and then you’re expected to go proselytize. Most of the people you meet will dislike you. Some will spit at you and others merely curse you. The whole time you are expected to remain on an even keel. In my limited experience dealing with them, they actually do it.

So I have a certain degree of sympathy. Up until it’s time to go on a mission, remaining in The Church is the path of least resistence. But once you’re a missionary, you’re walking the walk. You’re agreeing to be spat upon and cursed. You’re agreeing to being cut off from your family (not entirely, but for the most part) for two years. You’re not only agreeing to move around every two years, but you can’t even really become a part of the community you’re in. You’re there on a mission (figuratively and literally, I suppose) and you haven’t the time. You get one day off, but even then things such as TV are off-limits.

The ability of The Church to motivate young men in their prime (19-25) to do this is a testament to the loyalty they command and achieve. The ability of men to make such sacrifices is, however inconvenient to me personally, extraordinarily admirable. It’s no coincidence that most of the most honorable and upright Mormon men out here that I know are RMs.

So I had some sympathy and thought that they might appreciate some friendliness, even if I wouldn’t be a notch in their belt, so to speak. It didn’t work that way, of course, just as Clancy told me it wouldn’t. The missionaries I had the understanding with were swapped out with others and then others still. None of them would take “no” for an answer.

It got to the point that I did not want to be in my own place on the Saturday afternoons that they would stop by. All the while, I was working beside people who had spent two years doing to others what was being done to me. Besides the cognitive dissonance that this generated, it also had an isolating effect. I wasn’t partnered with Simon at work yet and had no one to even talk to about it. I wanted to ask my RM friends up here how to get rid of them, but the people who would help me most I was least able to ask.

Even the non-RMs were not particularly approachable. The missionaries are extremely highly regarded. Those leaving on mission get a mention in the paper in between the engagement and Eagle Scout announcements. Anyone who has driven down the Interestate has seen an area devoted entirely to signs put up to welcome returning missionaries. To suggest irritation with them is like cursing the military outside the big city: not kosher.

I finally turned to a web site called and asked what I could do that would make the missionary playbook tell them to leave me alone. The answers usually include “Leave Deseret” and pestering the local LDS Bishop. We’re stuck in Deseret for another year or so and the Bishop is a co-owner of the company I worked for. They said such things were not uncommon and wished me well.

It wasn’t all for naught, though. I found out that while they will follow former members from state to state, if you’re not in their registry they won’t. The bad news is that the “Do Not Contact” list they apparently have for former members (to avoid harassment charges, I suppose) they do not have for folks like me. They also did suggest that we not leave a forwarding address when we moved from the apartments to the basement so long as my landlords were members of the Brethren, so we didn’t.

The good thing about a basement apartment is that it’s not as easily accessible in streetsweeps (where they knock on every house on a block), so we haven’t had to deal with them since. It’d be nice if the Jehova’s Witness folks let that stop them, but I don’t have the social pressure to be nice if worse comes to worse.

Category: Church

Kyle, one of my best friends back in Delosa, is moving out of his apartment. His platonic roommate of a few years now, Laney, has flunked out of school for good and is moving away. In a way it’s a blessing, though, because he and Laney haven’t been getting along. I had no idea of it until recently.

When two friends split up, you find yourself walking a balance. Kyle has been a good friend over the years. When push comes to shove, my loyalty lies with him. But I really like Laney as well. From a selfish standpoint, I might need her help in the future and I have no interest in burning that bridge. From a personal standpoint I feel bad for her. She had a lot more to give this world than she has given. She’s the National Merit Scholar gone bum. I know more people like that than I would care to admit.

Kyle and Laney had a really solid friendship for a while. Laney is gregarious and outgoing and Kyle curmudgeon and cynical. It worked. A few years ago when Kyle got wind that I liked Laney, he almost lit up because it was two people he cared about making each other happy (if it worked out, another story altogether). He really cared about her. He doesn’t care about many people.

But now I don’t imagine that they’re even going to speak to each other after they part ways.

My best best friend Clint had a roommate for a while, too. It started out well, but the last straw came when his roommate left town, leaving behind a kitchen full of vomit.

This happened more-or-less with his last set of roommates, too. Another set of uncomfortable situations. It’s difficult to live with someone for too long, I guess, unless there’s sex or kids in the bargain (or both!). I had a roommate throughout college and by the time it was done, I had no interest whatsoever in maintaining ties with him. Our common circles were a little too intertwined for that and with some time on my part and some patience on his, we got past most of our issues. Mostly, anyway.

My next roommate Karl and I got along with famously. But he and I almost never left our rooms. It was the perfect arrangement, really. It was like living alone, except we were able to split big-city rent. I was sorry to see that end.

But I really haven’t talked to him in quite a while. Not since I moved out, actually. Looking at Kyle’s situation, and Clint’s, I am starting to realize how really good I had it. And thinking that maybe I should send him an email or something.

Category: Home

Simon, my partner at work, came across this interesting nutbar theory: The Mormons and Jehova’s Witnesses are the same people. The Freemason connection is old hat, but extra bonus points on crackpottery for folding them in to the evil Satanists and twice-evil Illuminati! And yet another point for just mentioning Adolf Hitler in there.

Category: Church

It was one line in an otherwise uneventful email:

“Sergei and I are getting a divorce, but we’re ending it on good terms.”

Ellie and Sergei were married by a JP at three in the morning. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. Her parents found out a year later in an equally spur-of-the-moment fashion.

They were staying at her parents for the weekend. They came home a little earlier than expected and caught them in bed (door closed, thankfully). “We’re married,” actually, turns out to be a good excuse when trapped in such a situation.

The circumstances and the man were the least surprising part of it. Ellie had always had a disdain for anything remotely conservative, so the surprise was that she married at all, much less married young (before her older sister, my wife Clancy).

Sergei is a Ukranian/Russian (born in one, spent more time in the other), and given Ellie’s disdain for anything American, it made perfect sense. The Russian capitalist and American socialist complimented each other quite well. The Himmelreichs will always be greatful that he got her on anti-depressants, a move which has made her a much more tolerable person.

Clancy and her younger sis have quite a bit in common, temperamentally, though you wouldn’t know it meeting them. A lot of the aspects of Clancy that I butt heads with are those she has in common with Ellie.

Though Ellie and I have limited interaction with one another, I feel like I am facing off with her regularly. It feels like tug-of-war wherein I am pulling Clancy towards my more conventional ways and she, represented by the temperamental aspects that they share, is pulling her in a different way altogether.

In many ways, Ellie’s marriage with Sergei is the type that I do not want to have.

Up until recently, they lived in different states. She was adamantly against children (which for her is for the best, though it was a shame that he wasn’t going to be a father because he would make a good one) and needed so much space that it may have been living together that did them in. Or maybe it was the has-been rust-belt city where he is doing his residency.

But since finding out yesterday it’s been a cause for reflection. Just as in many ways Ellie is a very extreme version of Clancy, their relationship is a more extreme version of ours. Some of the “problems” there (at least I would consider them such, they apparently did not) are some of the areas that Clancy and I need to work on.

I think one of the biggest fears I have is that of a professional marriage, which is in many ways what I considered theirs to be. Couples without children tend to drift apart. Couples that have children can allow children to be their only common bond. Whichever route Clancy and I go, I don’t want the result to be a non-intimate affair where we live our lives more in parallel than together.

This is not commentary on where my marriage is now. Right now she’s a resident and I am a residency widower. There isn’t terribly much that we can do about that, our lives have to be as much in parallel as together. The biggest questions – and biggest fears, I think – involve what happens when that curtain is drawn and we get to see what we are like when we’re less pulled apart. Will we need distance and pull back to a parallel existence or will we have the kind of marriage I’d always intended?

For someone that liked things nailed down, the notion that “time will tell” is disconcerting.

Category: Coffeehouse


I thought that we were finally rid of missionaries. I thought that we’d finally done it! But alas, we’ve got new ones. They’re not even Latter-day Saints folks, but rather the Jehova’s Witness kind. Even worse, I took their reading material. That’s always going to be my downfall. People give me something and ask me to read it, I say “sure.”

And their magazine, The Watchtower, is actually quite fascinating. I used to read it when they’d leave copies in the laundry room of an old apartment complex. While I certainly have my doubts about it being divined from god, I’ve no doubt that the writers were quite inspired. I can just imagine them in a library full of right-wing and left-wing conspiracy literature, stoking on LSD, and smoking some pot as they come up with all the stuff therein. At least when it comes to the Revelation-style stuff. This one was just about death, which was actually somewhat anti-climactic. Honestly, it would be cool to write for such a publication if it didn’t require believing in it.

Category: Church

You may not be able to tell, but I’ve been working on Hit Coffee all day today. Apparently at some point the archives went out. Thanks to a bunch of help from Ethan and Webmaster Guy, my generous host, we’re back up and running at full capacity.

Or at the capacity I’ve been posting at, which hasn’t been that much.

Not to worry, though, posting will be picking up soon as Ethan says that he installed a bug that will blow up the site if I don’t post at least fifty times a day…

Category: Server Room

My coworker Clem is getting married some time in the coming week or five. I have an invitation on my desk, though I’m too lazy to look it up. Not an invitation to the wedding, but something else.

Being a gentile in Deseret is inconvenient, but there are certainly some ways the Mormons are good about reaching out and weddings are one of them. More often then not (at least around the office) the weddings are in a Temple. According to religious tradition, of course, we’re not allowed in there (many Mormons aren’t, in fact, unless they’re in good standing). In fact, even families members aren’t allowed.

But they seem to work around it with very inclusive wedding parties. Inclusive enough that I’ve been invited to a couple despite not being in their social circles. It’s actually probably the perfect compromise. They get to maintain the integrity of their Temple and also share their matrimony with the rest of us.

So, as I complain about being excluded, I should make note of the places where it’s not so much the case.

There’s no way in heck I’m going, but that’s another story altogether.

Category: Church

At the meeting on Thursday, two dreaded words came up. First was the “A” word. It was mentioned several times, usually with the word “voluntary” in front of it. Then, towards the end of the meeting, the dreaded “L” word was uttered.

The “A” word is “attrition.”

The “L” word is “layoffs.”

A freak thing happened a couple of weeks ago. We ran out of reqests. Whereas we were once behind by some 800 documents (a two week backlog, give or take), we busted through almost all of them. We in QA have some work, but OSI has none. And them running out means that we’re on borrowed time.

At first it was just a quirk. Everyone happened to be doing something else besides generating requests for a spell. But a couple weeks later, it became apparently systemic. When we found out that the Assistant Accounts Chief had left, we thought that might be it. But apparently he didn’t do much, anyway.

Requests are cyclical. When I was first hired, there was a lack of things to do. Then a process got changed and before we knew it we were knee-deep in (mostly) unnecessary requests. That’s apparently run its course and we’re sort of out in limbo.

It was noted by Willard weeks ago, though there were assurances that there was enough work to be done to keep everyone employed for years. It’s still true, but increasingly irrelevent. He’d been saying with confidence that there would be no layoffs, but he was a bit dour all week last week. Then the news at the meeting. And a chart:

Necessary QA: 2
Existing QA: 2

Necessary OSI: 4
Existing OSI: 10.5*
Known Attrition: 3.5
Expendible: 3

*Note: two people are known to be leaving soon. three are going from full-time to part-time once school starts again.

Now, Willard was 100% correct that there is enough work to keep everybody there for quite a while. But right now there is a lull and there will be for the forseeable future. So one of the following three things is likely to happen:

  1. They realize that resources are being wasted and will reconfigure things so that more requests are sent through RLC.
  2. They realize that resources are being wasted and rather than reconfigure things so that their employees will keep their jobs, they’ll just start laying people off and pick up more people when the requests inevitably start getting generated again.
  3. They’re going to take advantage of the opportunity to let go of some dead weight. My partner Simon and I have been comparing notes with Willard for a few weeks now. It would be a good managerial decision to go ahead and let go of a couple people. From a personal standpoint, though, the weak performers are the ones with the most to lose. Wife, kids, and mortgage.

My preference runs 1,3,2. We’ll see how that goes.

It may not ultimately be my problem. The good news is that there is an opening in the IT department. Willard fully expects to lose someone from OSI. Of the group, I’m not sure of any that are more qualified than I am. I have over two years of network administration experience under my belt and a college degree. No one else there can boast either. Unfortunately, Willard won’t have my back this time. Last time he wanted me to move along in part cause he didn’t want to lose Mindy. This time I’m the one he doesn’t want to lose. And I lost the other promotion to Mindy due to seniority, and if they go by seniority this time around I will lose out to Simon. I’d be okay with that, though. Simon is about to take on two step-kids and a mortgage. He needs the money more than I do.

Part of me is a little irritated with the opening. I’d finally resigned myself to my current position as other opportunities dried up. Now I have something to hope for again. That’s not always such a good thing.

Category: Office

I had a discussion at work with Simon (my partner), Willard (my boss), and Jarvis (Willard’s deputy, but no longer over me). It went something like this:

Me: Willard, we’d like the cover sheet to list the previous five people to touch the packet.

Willard: Why?

Me: Because it will save me from having to click back and forth every time I need to see who the document goes back to.

Jarvis: You should have to click back anyway for document tracking.

Me: Except that I don’t do things that way, I do them this other way.

Jarvis: But if you did them my way, you wouldn’t need the list of people that last touched the document.

Me: But my way is faster.

Jarvis: I don’t see why, it shouldn’t be faster.

Me: But it is.

Jarvis: But it shouldn’t be.

Me: But it is.

Jarvis: Regardless, we want to get rid of the cover sheets anyway.

Me: Why?

Jarvis: You theoretically shouldn’t need them.

Me: But they’re helpful because of the way that I do them. So much so that I will make them by hand if you take the button off the menu.

Jarvis: But it wouldn’t make a difference if you did things the way I would do them.

Me: But I don’t.

Jarvis: But you should.

This is the short version of the conversation. The long version took 90 minutes, had harsher language, and required mutual apologies roughly thirty minutes later. And an admission that we spent 90 minutes debating a procedure that would only shave or add seconds to completion times.

Category: Office