First day at work

I spent much of last night fretting over my new/used alarm clock. What was not spent worrying over that went into worrying about I-24 and traffic.

And indeed, I was right to have so worried. I made it in on time, of course, but the trip itself... well. I drive from exits 78 to 56; traffic stopped dead at about mile marker 65. The worst, of course, was the drifting, but not stopped, traffic: fast, slow, fast, slow. It is practically designed to trigger my transmission problem, and sure enough, it did. At one point, staying with traffic had me pushing 4500 r.p.m. in second gear (red lines at 6500).

That isn't very fun. I will simply have to leave about twenty minutes earlier, which should push me in front of the great mass of rush hour. (I hope.) The truly odd thing is that the transmission did not drop into limp mode the whole way home.

Work. Well, not work, training. We have three instructors. One is a guy about my age, ex-military, I think, who, if you close your eyes, sounds a lot like Wilford Brimley. Another is an older guy who is quite witty. The third is a younger guy, with Dell only two years, who just started training people a month ago. Which is why we have three instructors, I think: the younger trainer is being trained himself.

We started by talking about ourselves. Several people there were from Michigan. One guy worked for the Whirlpool IT department before being let go, and had 15 people at his own ISP. Now he's down here. I think that after Pfizer's IT department is let go, Dell may have majority ex-Michigan classes. One was downsized from AOL; a lot of the people there were downsized from somewhere, recently or not.

The premier jokester sat down next to me (I swear, not the other way around). We managed to crack each other up over our Coke bottle lids (they were white, black and red. He was black and had the black lid, as he pointed out. Another white guy had the white one. I exclaimed, quietly, "I must be part-Indian! Cool!"). We continued with "A Brief History of Troubleshooting" and finished up with a test. I finished first (way first) and got 103/125, or 85%. No, I couldn't have improved it: I have not been buying new computer equipment for some time and so some questions about WiFi, Bluetooth and Serial ATA are simply beyond me for now.

The Michigan guy was born in Findley, Ohio. We chatted a bit during lunch (I had a whole tiny bag of Doritos and coffee). He was not unhappy to leave Michigan. As he put it, he had to get used to a whole new speech down here: "Hello", "How are you?", "Thank you" and "Have a nice day". I had told everyone about sleeping in my car; he had done the same when he moved to Michigan ten years ago.

I find it hard to believe that this will take four weeks to complete. Of course, I say this now; time will show me how hard it really is, I suppose.

I have a few books I brought with me from Kalamazoo. A few nights ago I finished Conrad's Lord Jim and started on Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, vol. 1. I have had this book for ages, and now I intend to finish it. Part of the reason it is so difficult is that so many of his points (news then, so explained slowly and at length) are old hat now. When he wanders into European government it actually gets much more interesting for me. The amusing thing about DiA is that half the Democrats in America now would choke and gag on de Tocqueville's admiration: the "sacred right of property", the importance of wide-spread democracy and individualism over central control or group or minority rights, the importance of an armed citizenry. He also made an important distinction between centralized government (a near absolute in the early U.S., when the state Legislatures reigned supreme) and centralized administration (practically non-existant). de Tocqueville's observation on how self-reliance is a greater good, and a greater public virtue, than perfect government service would gag and kill a post-Katrina Bush-hater today.

Or the French, for that matter.