2023 did not get off to an auspicious start.

17 January 2023

I try very hard not to pay too much attention to mercury in retrograde, mostly because I think it's a bad idea to name names too often because Things tend to hear them.

Who am I kidding. I have a calendar that charts mercury in retrograde out to 2030.ev that warns me ahead of time. I just wish I could get the odd warning of what might be coming down the line.

You might recall that during the final days of 2020.ev my car was totalled and hauled away as abandoned. Well, on the 4th of January my new car was also totalled. During the early days of 2023.ev in the Bay Area not only have we been having almost daily rain but also the occasional gust of high wind. That afternoon one of my neighbors knocked on the front door and said the fateful words, "Um, is that your car that the tree fell on?"

It's a trope in comedy movies where somebody comes across their utterly fucked car and says, sadly and in a pained voice, "My car."

I did this very thing when I saw the damage done to my car by the tree that fell on it. A gust of wind had blown one of my neighbor's trees down, ripping it out of the ground roots and all. The root system was not very deep so it didn't have a tight grip in the earth to begin with. However, the tree came down squarely on the back half of my car. The rear window was obliterated. The trunk, rear bumper, and both quarter panels were crumpled like tin foil. I found out the next day when the tow truck arrived to haul it to the garage that the undercarriage was messed up so badly that it couldn't be towed, it had to be lifted onto a flatbed. The song and dance with the insurance company took longer than usual because the mobile app was not cooperating, I wasn't able to get to an actual operator, and I had to googledork to find the right links to file a claim. On the other hand, the insurance adjuster examined the car at the garage over the weekend, filed it as a total writeoff, and that was pretty much the end of it. When the weather gets nice around here again I'm going to start the search for a brand new car.

It's not like I'm in much of a position to go anywhere right now, anyway. The very same day that a tree fell on my car, just a couple of hours earlier, I got a text message from my boss saying (and I'm paraphrasing a bit), "I hate to bother you while you're on vacation, but check your work e-mail immediately."

My boss has never texted me before. I immediately got a sinking feeling but headed for my office, grabbed my work laptop, and booted up. It's never a good sign when your VPN client (which starts up on boot and immediately tries to connect) immediately goes into an authentication-failed-trying-again loop. I poked at it a bit until it stopped trying so hard, took a look at my e-mail, and sure as shit I'd been laid off. Pink slip. 10% reduction in force, from the C levels right down to the interns, effective immediately. Cue finding all the stuff that has to be shipped back to headquarters, updating my resume', getting hold of my brag sheet (all the stuff I did in the last six months, used for performance reviews), sending the obligatory "so long and thanks for all the fish" e-mail to my now former co-workers.. you know the drill.

However, technically all of us that got the axe are still on the payroll until April, at which time our actual severance packages kick in. So rather than take it squarly in the yarbles I'm going to take a little paid vacation. Now I can work on repairing the burnout that set in over the last year or two, hack on some projects that I've had the compute cycles or time to play with, try to get some exercise, and maybe figure out what to do next. I've been in the Bay Area for almost a decade now, maybe it's time to find some new scenery.

The latter part of the holiday season included amongst all the festivities changing dozens of passwords and API keys because Lastpass got cracked like a walnut. Not only was their source code stolen but at least one backup (age unknown) of thousands of data vaults was exfiltrated. As if that weren't bad enough there is controversy over just which parts of everybody's data vaults were encrypted and which weren't. URLs to sites were in the clear; maybe the notes for each site (which folks tend to put things like recovery codes for MFA in) were also plaintext. Lastpass has changed its story a few times and backpedalled, which does not exactly inspire confidence or lay fears to rest. Needless to say that I've bailed on Lastpass entirely and come up with a solution that I have more control over. I'll write that up a bit later. It's not like I have a shortage of time or anything.

In additionally irritating news the realtor I had been working with to sell my mom's house, to be blunt, did a shit job. He did zero advertising and no legwork, which is what a realtor is supposed to do, really. There was a clause in our contract where I could terminate our arrangement early after six months, so I did. My attorney and I put our heads together, came up with a couple of plans, and pulled the trigger. Then came time to put out some tentacles, ask around for recommendations, and run some background checks. I'm now working with a different realtor who seems to have way more on the ball, but I don't want to say too much about it lest I jinx this effort as well. Time to make shit happen.