34th New Year’s Resolutions

One of the new years’ resolutions I’m going to try and stick to for one year from the Fourth of July is to blog at least once a day (either publicly or privately).  So this means that sometimes you’ll see a post from me and sometimes you won’t.  This particular resolution will be judged solely by me.  But, I guess I should maybe talk a little bit more about what’s been going on lately:

  • I recently celebrated my 34th birthday about two weeks ago on the nineteenth.  I was very heartened to have a large number of friends show up for the party and we had a lot of fun, into the wee hours of the night and actually on to the next day.
  • Shocking News: I managed to stay employed with the same company for more than a year.  In fact, on July 7th, I’ll be celebrating Year Two with this company!  I haven’t done that since 2002, when I was with PayPal.
  • One of my best friends moved up here from Fresno and is now living right next door in his own place.
  • Since my last post, we’ve moved into a house, which is infinitely better than an apartment.
  • I staffed Fanime in May, which was one of the things I swore I would never do again, but Rob was rather convincing and since Japan-A-Radio was there, it made sense to bring me on to staff.
  • I’m playing and managing my company’s softball team.  I’m having a lot of fun with it, even though we’re in second-to-last place in our division.
  • I’ve lost some weight, but I don’t know how much.

As with every birthday, I use June 19th to set some resolutions for the new year.  I took a break from resolutions for my 33rd year, which was a gift to myself.  But now that I’m 34, I’ve decided to make some and see how long before I break them.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. I am resolved to write a blog post every day for a year.  The blog posts can be public or private.
  2. I am resolved to lose at least 25 pounds this year.
  3. I am resolved to restart and maintain my sit-up and push-up program for the next six months.
  4. I am resolved to do cardio three times a week (DDR, swimming, cycling).
  5. I am resolved to finish writing two novels and ten short stories this year.
  6. I am resolved to winning National Novel Writing Month for 2010.
  7. I am resolved to not bite off more than I can chew.  My wife knows what that means.

I’m not asking for people to help me with these.  I know I have enough self-discipline to carry this out, and I’ll see it through to the end.  With my recent softball experience, I’m noticing that my weight has become a hindrance to my performance on the field, and since we’re all going to continue playing over the summer, I want to be able to do more.  Besides, pretty soon I’ll be 40 and that’ll be it for me, even for recreational softball leagues… unless I get back down to a manageable size.  My wife will help me where I need it, and that’s really all I can ask for.

On a less serious note, I’d like to go to more Giants games.  Especially now that Shon’s here full time.  We really need to take him up to church so he can worship with me at the Altar of Bonds.  Maybe I’ll convert him to my baseball “cult.”

In site news: I upgraded this thing to WP 3.0 — it’s actually pretty awesome.

How’s your summer going?

The Summer So Far…

I know I haven’t really posted anything lately.  I sort of fell out of the habit of blogging, and things have been a little hectic as of late.  Needles to say, I’m not entirely certain who knows what, but Julia and I have had a rather interesting summer so far.  Read on if you should want to learn what exactly happened.

It all began with the loss of my job at Teneros.  We’d just returned from Danyel’s wedding in Las Vegas, and I had to go to sleep to prepare for my shift that Monday night.  I woke up a little earlier than I had planned, but it turns out that it didn’t matter one way or the other.  I had a voicemail from the Vice President of our division, asking me to return his call as soon as possible.  This is never a good thing, let me tell you.  I hadn’t heard or seen this guy in months, and getting a phone call from him out of the blue was highly unusual.  My sixth sense was screaming big time, and I went out into the living room to tell Julia that it was resume-updating time again.  This, of course, did not make her feel any better.

I took a quick shower, grabbed the work-issued BlackBerry phone and its charger, told Julia I’d be back in an hour or two, and headed out the door.  I pulled into the parking lot at work, and I was curious to see if maybe they’d already pulled the plug on me.  Interestingly enough, my badge and secured door access were still in place, so I had this fleeting thought that maybe something else had happened… like maybe someone else got the axe and they were telling me in person that I might have to switch shifts this week.  But then, I thought, why wouldn’t they have called me ahead of time to let me know?  Nah, I was definitely getting laid off tonight.

I walked in and the only other person in the building was my swing shift co-worker.  He looked up in surprise… maybe because he wasn’t expecting me to show up so quickly.  I said hi, and grabbed the empty box I’d left underneath my desk when I arrived for my first day there.  I started packing up my speakers, keyboard, mouse, books, the picture of Julia and me from Valentine’s Day, and then the VP walked into the NOC and saw me.  I was all smiles about the whole thing, because I guess I had seen it coming… but not this soon.

There were a lot of little changes they were making at Teneros.  They switched CEOs a few months back, which was a huge shock since the CEO we had when I was hired… I mean, the company was his baby, you know?  It was really weird to find out one day that he stepped down and we got this other guy in there.  Talk of the corporate reorg came through and everyone was worried about their jobs (of course).  I spoke with my manager, and he assured me that support would be untouched, since we were one of the hardest working departments in the company (true).  I was satisfied with that, but there was that inkling in the back of my mind that said to take it with the grain of salt.  I had no reason to doubt his word, though, so don’t get me wrong.  But that didn’t mean that he wasn’t lied to, you know?

Shortly after that announcement, the kitchen stopped being stocked so frequently.  This really sucked for me, because I was there during grave shift and a bare kitchen meant I had to either bring in lunch or go hungry.  One of the great perquisites of working at Teneros was the awesome kitchen, and now that was gone.  Sure, they tried to bluff their way through it, but I told my swing guy that when a company stops stocking the kitchen, then it’s time to start looking for work elsewhere.  It’s one of the warning signs of something big on the horizon when the little things suddenly disappear.

But back to the meeting with the VP.  Now, I really liked my VP.  He was a really nice guy and I didn’t bear him any ill will about the decision he had to make.  I knew it was a numbers game (I was one of the highest paid techs, if not the highest paid) and they needed to cut someone’s salary.  Add to the fact that the grave shift was probably a luxury at that point, in spite of the day guys really enjoying their sleep being uninterrupted during the week.  It made sense from an executive standpoint, but it still sucked the big one dry.  Plus, the people I worked with were a great bunch of guys, and I’d miss seeing/talking to them on a daily basis.  My soon-to-be-former VP and Manager explained the logic and I was sitting there nodding my head.  My manager looked grief-stricken and I tried to keep a positive attitude about it.  I did make a few jokes when the stock issue question came up, considering that they were laying people off (I was one of many, apparently).  I laughed and shook my head, passing on purchasing anything that put money into a company that was showing signs of failure.

I signed my papers, took my “generous” two-weeks’ severence pay and final check, grabbed my box and walked out to my car.  My now-ex Manager walked out there with me and promised to keep in touch (he hasn’t) and also said he wanted to have a lunch with the whole group sometime (no joy, there, either).  I took his consolations with a grin and shook his hand.  I pulled out of the parking lot for the last time, and headed home.

I enjoyed unemployment for a good three weeks.  I had a large number of leads, folks, going into the first week.  I posted my updated resume on DICE and my cell phone rang so much, I blew through my anytime minutes on my phone plan within the first week and half.  Julia was pissed.  I got calls from StubHub, Yahoo (3 different positions), 2 startups not worth mentioning, and Netflix.  The Yahoo interviews were all on the phone, and StubHub never called me back.  Adobe called (as usual), but they were offering twenty bucks below my asking price, which was a deal-breaker (why would I take a 40% pay cut to work there?).  I also got an email for a job in Japan that turned out to look fucking awesome on paper, but that phone interview was a complete and utter disaster, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying.  Let’s just say that it sounded like there was an active resistance toward hiring someone in America for a job in Japan, and the guy on the phone was doing everything he could to sabotage it.

In the meantime, my nephew flew in from Arizona to stay with his mom for the summer.  I usually get him for a week in July, but since I was not working… it made sense to have him sooner rather than later.  I got to spend a week and a half with him and we hung out, played a metric shitton of Halo 3, watched a season and a half of The West Wing, and took him to Pac Bell Park for a Giants game.  We even got to play some D&D at my buddy’s house along with his nephew so we had a decently sized group to play with this time around.  He had a blast, and I had a lot of fun having him around.  I’m hoping that next summer, we can arrange for him to stay a little while longer by getting him a paying job for the duration so he’ll have some experience in the industry.  He wants to work with video games and has a keen interest in it, so I figured if I could swing an EA game tester job for him, it’ll work out great for him in earning and saving some money.  He’ll be 18, and not subject to work permit law, so I’m hoping for the best.

While I had him with us, I was going out on interviews and feeling some places out for possible employment.  In the third week, I got this call from a recruitment house.  All they do is recruit for other companies, but instead of doing it by contract, they actually place people for regular employment.  I didn’t have anything to lose at this point, since this was a longer stretch of joblessness I’d experienced in the last two years.  One more week and I was going to have to file for Unemployment Assistance through the state.  I went in, met with the really young guy who was telling me how to interview (look, kid… I’ve been interviewing for jobs since you graduated elementary school).  I smiled and nodded, took their advice and walked out feeling like my time had been wasted.  Then, I got pulled back in at the last moment to sit with a guy from a company who was already there to talk to someone else.  It was for a position at a company I’d heard of, Mimosa, but it was for a position totally not my area of expertise (if I even have an area of expertise).

Mimosa sounded cool, but I was reluctant to entertain going back into Windows/Exchange support.  I felt like I had moved on from Windows and wanted to get back into Unix support or operations again.  Nine months of bashing my head against crappy Microsoft products felt like a lifetime, and even though the job was pretty cushy, I really didn’t want to continue to lose my Unix street cred that much.  Anyway, I figured that since the job wasn’t a match, I would move on and find something else.  By that time, I was emailing my resume at least three times a day to various job listings I’d find on DICE or HotJobs or wherever.  Then, Mimosa called back.  Apparently, they were hiring for customer support positions, and they wanted me to go in and sit down with them for a few hours and talk things over.

Like I said, it was nearing the end of the third week.  The interviews thus far had not proven to lead anywhere, and the phone interivews I’d completed until then hadn’t panned out as well as I hoped.  So, I went in with no expectations whatsoever, figuring that if I didn’t go in, all I would do is watch TV, play on the Xbox or waste time in some other fashion.

Funny thing about interviews with no expectations.  After all, that’s how I got hired at Teneros.

I sat down with them, and right away I really liked these guys.  They had a good sense of humor (rather closely aligned with my own, which is saying a lot), they were pretty damned smart, and they were really driven toward their goals.  Further, they prized several things I always look for in a new company.  I was intrigued by the notion of actually going to work for them, and out of all the itnerviews I’d been on, Mimosa was the only one where I got that feeling that I could really work there.  After the interviews were over, I got the offer the next Monday and I signed it that afternoon and faxed it back in.  I would start the next week and my period of unemployment was finally over (for now).

I’ve been at Mimosa for two and a half weeks.  I really like the people.  I feel like I’m learning a lot while being there.  I appreciate the straightforward nature of the group and I like that they don’t beat around the bush when they talk to you… it’s all out there for you without having to read between the lines, y’know?  This is a very rare thing here in Silicon Valley (or possibly anywhere).  Since Mimosa is one of Teneros’ direct competitors, it’s pretty funny seeing alot of clients from Teneros show up as clients of Mimosa as they’re dumping and running toward my new employer.  The other day, I was looking through our tickets and I noticed familiar names and companies listed as customers and laughed.  I guess things are getting worse over there.

Anyway, that’s my summer so far.  How’s yours?

My Wife Left Me…

There’s just no other way to say it, I guess.  She took off to Hawai’i with another man, and I’m sitting here in my apartment, all alone.

I guess I should mention that the other man is her father and she’ll be back Saturday, but I’ll bet you I got you to click on the link anyway, right?  Feel free to punish me in the comments.  I’ll take my beatings like a man.

First, we upgraded to 2.5.1.  I hope you’ve all upgraded your WordPress installations.

Anyway, I have the place to myself this week and already it’s pretty damned weird to not have her around here.  I wish I could’ve gone to Hawai’i, too, but I’d already taken too much time off from work in the past thirty days to get away with a whole week off like that.  Plus, I’d just started the grave shift, so it would have sucked to suddenly take a week off on the on-call guy and make him suffer through a week of painful middle of the night calls because I wasn’t there to catch them.

Speaking of… it’s been going pretty good on the grave shift so far.  I’ve been keeping to a strict schedule of sleep and exercise that my doctor recommended.  Unfortunately, it also means that on the weekends, I have to keep to it as well.  I only get two days off and it’s just not enough to right myself to a day schedule and then prepare for a night schedule in forty-eight hours.  This makes participating in activities a little more difficult, and it always seems to result in people being pissed off at me for not going to parties or visiting.  There are exceptions, of course, but not very many.  Plus, everyone likes to get together at noon, which is thirty minutes after I go to bed.  What?  No more evening get-togethers anymore?

On the subject of evening get-togethers… I think it sucks that I keep having to cancel the monthly parties because people have better other things to do.  By the way, on May 10th, we’re celebrating Julia’s 30th birthday.  I sincerely hope that people will show up for it, because we’re holding it at San Jose Municipal Stadium this year and it should be a lot of fun.  Get a hold of me if you want to go.

I leave you all with this little gem: Hard Candy.  Rent or buy the DVD; you will not be disappointed.

Free

For the second day in a row, I got to leave a little early from work.  This is good for me, because when it happens, I’m usually carpooling with the guy who’s on call.  And since he’s on call, staying until 7pm as usual doesn’t make much sense since he’s the one who’s catching all the after-hours calls anyway.  Also, I’m the backup oncall person, but I get to go off the grid starting tomorrow, so the third guy in the chain gets to move up one because I’m turning off my phone for the next six days and not giving a shit about it.

We’ll be leaving early Sunday morning at around 5am, because someone wants to go down US 101 instead of taking I-5 like normal people.  I’m not entirely sure why one would take 101 all the way down, considering how much of a state the roads are in when you get past San Luis Obispo.  So, we might compromise a little bit by taking 101 for part of the way and then 5 the rest of the way down, but I’m not sure where on 101 to turn off, because 101’s kind of boring until you go past Solvang and hit the coast.

Anyone have any suggestions on that?

First Day Back

And holy shit, did I have a pile of work to do. You know when you leave work for extended periods of time, the work doesn’t get done on it’s own… no matter how hard you wish it would. I had a bunch of open cases I had to close or update, and then on top of that, my boss kept giving me more shit to do. I mean, hi… I have like thirty-two other things to do, I don’t need you handing me six more, okay? And for shit’s sake, if you are handing me something, could you at least open a damned ticket for it, first? Is that so hard to do? The ticketing system is hard enough to use (I wish we had SugarCRM so bad) in the first place, but by giving me random shit, I gotta suffer ticket creation on top of it.

Anyway, I closed twelve today and gained six. So it’s like that frog-in-the-well story, but in reverse.