Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm not dead yet

People have asked why I am absent.

I have no real reason why I haven't written much this year (these last years);  I don't think I have the blog bug any longer.

Lots of changes in my life, too many to list here, but for an overview:


  • Beginning 1Sep I've been relocated to Maryland, ~157 miles from home.  My somewhat famous long-distance-commute has gotten worse.  I had plans to spend time with a friend who had a spare room, but after spending but one night there, I came home with so.much.pet.dander that my much-better-half and youngest son spent over 24 hours sneezing (friend has 2 cats, 1 dog).   Since then I've been living in hotels - so far a different one each week - Mon-Fri.  It sucks, but it could be far worse.

    On the upside, my commute now puts me back on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, at least 2x/week, meaning for now my nom de plume is once again more accurate.
  • Last month I spoke of a prospective employer making me a verbal offer, then delaying the formal offer due to upper-management.   In the proceeding weeks the story went like this:   upper-management kicked out the offer, as they indicated the hiring manager offered me too much in salary.  The hiring manager then said he needed to take time-off from work due to a death in his family, and apparently no one else picked up the task regarding hiring me.

    This meant I had to wait through Labor Day weekend for an update.  Over the next 10 days, we went back and forth with phone calls and e-mails, and that had me in Maryland 2 full weeks.   In the end, I suppose, I did myself the biggest damage by stating as my reason for leaving my current position was the Maryland relocation.   They hooked me with the initial verbal offer, then had no reason to honor it knowing I was bleeding cash by either a hellish, 6 hour round-trip commute or that I was paying for hotels.  

    The final offer was less than I had hoped, and clearly less than I gross today, but not out of the question of consideration.  Last Thursday I resigned, and agreed to stay-on through EOM.
  • The new position will not involve the PA Tpk.  Perhaps with this change will also come the end of this blog for good?
Time will tell.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting closer

Continuing the saga...


  • Was in Maryland this week, moving 90% of the office to the new development lab / office space.  It's only that much as we're supposed to support our customer (sans dev lab) during the relocation effort.  We can do it, to a point, without a lab.  Fortunately support calls are down this time year due to vacations (gee, what does that word vacation  mean?)   Got to my office at 05:45 on Monday, and the moving vans were there already.  By 08:30 we were on the road.   These guys get paid by the job, not the hour!

    One truck driver says to me We're taking Route 40, not 95   When I asked why he explained I-95 always has a weigh-station, but 40 usually doesn't in the mornings.   When I asked why he was concerned, he answered Well if we get weighed, we'll be shut-down.  OK!  Let's go!  Fortunately, there was no weigh-station, but I was sweating going down.

    I spent the morning and late afternoon at the new lab, positioning equipment and the like.   System Admins and Network engineers showed up on Tuesday, and we began reconstituting the lab.   I left around 4:00 PM and headed home (3 hour drive).  I clocked enough hours that tomorrow, Friday, I staying home.
  • During lunch Monday, I received 2 phone calls from a prospective employer.  We had spoken last week and he indicated that I should get the offer letter (per our discussion) early this week.   As I was at lunch with my colleagues, taking either call was out of the question.   I did speak with the guy and he repeated his offer, and that I should get my offer tomorrow (Wednesday), with a requested start-date of 6-September.    Now that would work for me, as I am supposed to be in Maryland beginning 1-Sep, so I can easily end my employment on 31-Aug if I got the offer letter today.

    Well today came and I phoned him, looking for the letter.  He apologized profusely and blamed upper-management being on vacation (again that word!),  so he's put me off to next week, and a start date of 12-Sep.   So we wait again.  I do understand the hurdles of management, and I've been in his shoes with people I've hired, but that does not make this any easier.
  • If you read this far, drop me a line or comment and say as much.  I wondering how much longer I can pretend to blog, and if I do hang-it-up I want to know who I should reach-out to with a personal sign-off.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Congratulations to Wisconsin

Despite intense pressure from organized labor, the voters of Wisconsin spoke and turned-away the recall election efforts.   Pressure over fiscal policies brought forth by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Walker brought calls for recall of 4 of the Republican legislators.

Ironically, when the entire Democrat minority of the Legislature left the state in order to deny the majority the ability to debate.  Whereas the Democrats were derelict in their elected duties, only 2 of those members face recall election next week.

Happy to see the voters speak their mind, and that their legislators have been vindicated.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

What's next for Rep Giffords?

This is the sort of post that will anger a few, perhaps.

What's next for Gabrielle Giffords, the US House of Representative from Arizona who was tragically attacked early this year by a crazed gunman?   She miraculously survived being shot in the forehead, in what most reasonable guesses and arm-chair experts would have predicted would have been fatal wound.  

I am happy to see someone survive such an attack (eclipsed, perhaps, only by knowing they have the thug who did it).  

But what's next?  Reports say she's continuing her speech therapy, for example, and I - along with millions - wish her well.   

But what about her seat?  Last night she returned to the House to cast her vote for raising the debt-ceiling, and with predictable and justified standing-O's, she left soon after.  Not surprising, considering how soon after it's been since she was released from hospital.

For the record, I am pleased with many of Rep Gifford's positions, including:
  • Increased border patrols
  • Endorsing 9/11 Commission findings
  • new rules for the House of Representatives targeting ethical issues
  • advocated for a national day of recognition for cowboys 
That she had already earned rock-star status from her husband being an astronaut and active-duty military member - not to mention she's also extremely attractive in her own right - makes her an even brighter spot on the political landscape.

But what about her representation of her district?  How long will the people of 8th-Arizona go without their voice in the Congress?  What is to be done for those people if Ms.Giffords requires another year or so of rehabilitation to regain more of her speech ability?  

Anyone who knows me is aware I am not one to dismiss the possibilities of anyone affected by different abilities, but in the real world of politics, one has to ponder when the well-wishing for her recovery must be balanced with whether or not she is able to carry out her duties as an elected official.  For whatever standard is determined for Gabby today will be the same ruler used when the next elected official faces such an impairment (i.e. stroke).  And in that vein, no one should be chastised if they dare to challenge her for her seat - either in a primary or the general election.  

For if we are truly concerned for a fair and level playing field, then Ms. Giffirds must be allowed to demonstrate to her constituents her ability to lead and serve.


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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Counting down the days

I have neglected this humble blog for so long, so a quick recap seems appropriate.

I am a systems engineer a defense program.  Seven years ago I was laid off because the defense contractor that created and managed the project lost their rebid to continue it.   I was on the bench for 5 weeks, later picked up at another defense job that was decidedly beneath my skills.  Who could forget this post that answered the question "Say, Charlie... how goes the new job?" 


Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Love is the only thing that can save this poor creature, and I am going to convince him that he is loved even at the cost of my own life. No matter what you hear in there, no matter how cruelly I beg you, no matter how terribly I may scream, do not open this door or you will undo everything I have worked for. Do you understand? Do not open this door.

Inga: Yes, Doctor.

Igor: Nice working with ya.

[Dr. Frederick Frankenstein goes into the room with The Monster. The Monster wakes up] 

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Let me out. Let me out of here. Get me the hell out of here. What's the matter with you people? I was joking! Don't you know a joke when you hear one? HA-HA-HA-HA. Jesus Christ, get me out of here! Open this goddamn door or I'll kick your rotten heads in! Mommy!

Oh, where to start??  No workstation on my desk at work yet, so I am still reliant on my trainer, who said to me, apparently in all honesty, "Gee, you seem to know a lot about computers and stuff!"

Due to the bureaucratic layers upon layers around and above me, I cannot rise about my level without the weight and anger of others, so I will do my time and move on. I found comfort in the following thought: had I took a real McJob at McDonalds, there would be a period of novelty, for a time. You know, the whole 'grab a bucket and mop', yada-yada-yada, the fries, etc. A few days, maybe a week, and then it would wear off. Well I didn't even get a few days of novelty and I despise this place (for several reasons I'll detail later).

Anywho, a few short months later I was picked up as a Subject Matter Expert for the very same project, but for the contractor that did win the bid. And after a time my SME status diminished a bit, as more and more people got skilled in the application.  And while there have been about the routine number of head-butting incidents with management  things went swimmingly in spite of the fact I commute 2 hours, each way, every day to the office.   It's crazy,  but it has allowed me to afford being the sole-income in my home and afforded my much-better-half the opportunistically of being a stay-home-mom (much to her pleasure).  I've done that drive for about 15 years now, so it's pretty routine.

Last August I got the word: the Army base that has been the center of operations for this job is slated to close this Fall (part of the BRAC program I won't describe again here).   I have been tapped to go to Maryland, where the new office is already built.  The daily drive of +160 miles is a bit much, even for me, for a daily commute.  Officially, I am to report to MD on 1-September, but as I've been assigned the project lead on the relocation efforts (my first hint I was included in the relocation), I will be reporting there on 15-Aug.

In the last year I have pounded the virtual pavement in search of a suitable position where I can maintain my sole-support role at home.  No such luck.  This week I learned I have a conditional offer:  a defense position, a.lot.closer to home for a reasonably close salary.  Just as soon as the contractor gets funding.

It's not perfect, but it's nothing to sneeze at either.  I am looking forward to hearing from the company in about 6 weeks, in the meantime, I called in a favor and will be crashing at a friend's house.  A spare room, less than an hour from MD, about 2 hours from home.   Making the best of things while I wait on the offer.

Things could be worse.  A lot worse.   So my chin is up, and I am looking towards the hope of an e-mail telling me news of funding.

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