Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thanks Zooks!

Thanks Zooks! This was pretty cool! The strangest thing, there are two people here at the new job with my same name. By the looks of it, there aren't really that many of us nationwide either.
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Dawn of a new day

I'm a computer programmer deep down. It's what I do. After 2 weeks of the new job, I got my first assignment to actually write code today! Yipee!

The last two weeks, I've spent my time reading code, watching programs run and studying databases. Pretty non-thrilling stuff, even for a geek. It will feel great to get back in the saddle and write something. This other stuff I have been doing is very important to learn, it's just not as much fun. Remember, work is all about fun...right?

Our oldest spent the day on the couch today. I know when she's a teenager, that will be nothin new, but she's 8. She just can't sit still all day. Now, she pretty sick with the crud. Thankfully Mom was able to stay home today. I haven't accrued any PTO (paid time off) yet so I don't know what we'd do if I needed to stay home.

Lots to do at our house. We have a Pampered Chef party Wednesday night, if you are interested, let me know and a poker game on Friday night. Looks like that will be a pretty full house. We have 17 confirmed already! That doesn't count the 3 verbals I've received. I'm getting a little worried about this. I have accommodations for 20. 6 if we use the dining room table. We've never had over 2 tables so this should be interesting.

Must fold laundry. Must stop writing. Seacrest Out!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A full weekend for Dad

This was one of those weekends that makes you grateful to go back to work, even though I'd rather be taking a nap.

Friday night was Dad's whiskey club meeting. Yep, I had a night out with the guys. If you aren't familiar with this, I belong to a whiskey club. In this little organization, we get together once a month and try a whiskey, scotch or bourbon that you wouldn't normally try on your own. Once the first glass is poured, we settle in for a night of poker and laughter. The wives don't seem to mind this night out. It costs about $15 for the booze and poker. Not too shabby. Since I'm not much of a hard liquor drinker, I do a lot of sipping and then switch to beer. Usually its about 4 drinks in 6 hours. Wow! Now that's partying like college kids!

Saturday morning, Bodie25 and I took the kids to the free movie at the Chateau Theater. Monster House was playing. This movie is a lot of fun for the kids. If you haven't seen it, think Nightmare on Elm Street for grade schoolers. Its always fun when the kids get together. I also got to make a good home cooked meal for my working girl. Mom was working, so when she got home, stuffed pork chops and baked potatoes were ready to go.

Today, there was no rest for the wicked or Dad. Mom had TONS of homework to do today, so she arranged for us to drive to our hometown and see some of the Grandparents. I was pretty tired, but I know she needs the time to get some stuff done. Em and Dad did get to play some Super Mario Galaxy and my parent house. Em just loves that game and I like how challenging it is. That's a win-win! I also couldn't resist the urge to bring out Guitar Hero III. For some reason, it wasn't that big a hit with my folks. Go figure!

This is gonna be an interesting week at my new job. This past week, I got some little tastes of the department I'll be servicing. Late this week, I'll be immersed in there world and get to see first hand what the Doctors, physicist, technicians and nurses do every day. I'm pretty excited about this. I find it really inspiring to know that the software I'm writing and fixing saves lives and cures people that might normally have no hope. I've never known that feeling before.

Have a happy Monday!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Evening therapy

I had been trying to post everyday, but yesterday was Wednesday, which is also Mookie day for poker bloggers. This is a regular tournament held every Wednesday. Well, for the 3 time in a little less than 2 months, I went really deep and finished third. You read more about that here.

I starting to feel a bit more comfortable at work. I'm getting to know my co-workers and find my way around better and better.

The last two days I've been getting to spend a little time each day going down to the department I'll be supporting. As a software guy, my office is kept far away from the people I write for. This is done to help keep a small wall between us. A problem that will commonly arise with the programmer being close is that we often become the tech guy for an area. You mouse doesn't work, talk to the geek over there. Well, with us solving all the little problems, we never actually get time to write code. Never good.

Spending time observing them in their work area help put into focus what it is they do. When I understand their job, it helps me do my job. I have to make lots of choices every day. These kinds of days help me do that better and better.

The people I work for do amazing things and give people hope for a life without cancer. It will be an honor to make their jobs easier to help people.
At the home front, we really been hitting the video games hard.

For Christmas in 2006, the girls and I bought Mom one of those little games you plug into the TV. The one we got was Ms Pac Man, Galaga, Pole Position and few other games. For some reason, Mom was never in that big of a hurry to open it. Well, this week, with the power of the rest of us, we got her to let us open her present and plug it in. that fun! Even our little one loves it! Em, she's been getting past the first level of Ms Pac Man more and more regularly.

This game just added one more level to the fun. We also have Guitar Hero III. I know why people love this game. I look forward to playing it everyday! Tonight, we got Mom to try it. Things around this house might not get done anytime soon. If you haven't played this need to give it a try! Rock on!

HEY! Spell Checker works again!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Let's Everyone just stay calm!

I returned to work today and got to experience the walk from my youngest daughter's daycare to work. It took 20 minutes. Any southerners out there? You can write this down...I was freezing this morning! It was -5° this morning. Dress pants aren't as warm as you'd think.

At work, the guy I'll be working with is on vacation. My team lead is meetings all morning and my department head was at different meetings. Cool! I'll be by myself and just get to read, except whats that sound breaking my beautiful silence? Is that my phone? I wonder who would call me? Hello, this is OhCaptain. Well hello help desk. You've got a user that having trouble with the software I'm supporting? And you want me to what? Help? Please hold. HOLY CRAP! I'm on day 7 and we haven't actually got any of this yet. [back on the phone] I tell you what. Email me the details and I'll see what I can do.

Did I mention that my entire chain of command is gone? Thankfully, I've been down a similar road a knew exactly what to do. I went to the closest person to my stall and asked for help. Whew. He didn't know what to do, but if I can stall and find out more information, he'll find someone that does. We both succeed! Crisis overted!

That certainly made for an interesting morning. We followed that up with my first team meeting. It was nice to see everyone on my team. It all went pretty well, even the laughs about how the new guy got thrown into the fire. I'll take that one in stride. I learned a lot in just a short time.

OhCountess (aka The Mrs) felt bad and called to let me know she was coming to get me and take me back to the van and OhPrincess2. You see, its still not warm here. She plans on taking me to work in the morning as well. The forcast for tomorrow? -10°s; for the morning walk. Brrr! Thats cold even for me!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chapter 6, Page [Page #]

I'm giving up the whole title motif, but I did go to work today.

Work is going well. Today marks the first time I went from my desk to the cafeteria and back and get this...I didn't get lost! When you work at the largest hospital in just about any where, you'll quickly find out just how easy it is to get lost.

I'm a major geek. Look at the title of this blog. The entire floor I work on is geek heaven. You can hear a pin drop in here. Just about everyone here uses headphones to listen to music.

My music collection is pretty large. At my last job, I only had a few gigs of music. I could store the music on my work computer. With this new job, I've decided to do something different. I went out and bought a Western Digital 250GB Passport drive. These things are great! Best Buy had them on sale last week for $129. An amazing price for one of these. I loaded it up with every song I have. Sweet!

Today is President's Day. Quite a few people I work with were gone today. Normally, this would mean you get lots done. Too bad I'm new. I still need lots of help just finding the bathroom.

G, I couldn't agree more. The girls here won't start the dishwasher unless its full and there are no more dishes in the cupboards. Usuaully, I get home, run the dishwasher, empty it, and filler up again. Ugg!

FOF - I've looked at the whole satellite radio thing and I'll be honest, I think I'd love it. I just can't convince the Mrs. I need a subscription. I think I'd really like it.
Time for some Guitar Hero III! Everyone who knows the joy of ringing ears and neck pain from back in the day needs this game....ROCK ON!

Something beautiful to start the day

For people that live in the south, this is probably something you've
never seen before. I believe they are called "sun dogs". They look like
rainbows on the horizon next to the sun. This picture doesnt do them
justice. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday night ain't what it used to be

Ah, it Saturday night. The kids are sleeping, the wife is out with the girls and absolutely NOTHING is on television. Thank goodness for a raging blogging addiction. I shall rant and write and laugh a sinister laugh to myself. Mooowaaaaahhhaaaaaa!

Chapter 6 of my life continues. I'm starting to settle in to my new job. You've read the posts (or should have...they are below this one silly). Thursday and Friday I was so tired, no posts, but nothing much to write about. I'll admit it here...I got lost in the basement of the hospital. I felt like the guys in Spinal Tap (if you love this movie, let me know!).

Tonight, the house is quiet. The kids are sleeping. The intertubes are filled with blogs that needed reading. One thing I've noticed, the ladys seem to out number us Dads when it comes to personal/family blogs. Hmm. Wonder why? I actually have no idea. It might be I just haven't found them. But what I do know, I'm out numbered in my own home. It's 4:1 girls to boys in this house. I maintain my manliness by upping the methane output and teaching my daughters the wonders of a deep down belly burp. Yes, my daughters are learning to burp on demand. Get over it. Dads of bloggerville...let me know you are out there!

In my 38 years of orbiting the sun, I've learned a few things about how to live in the presence of women. One thing I've learned, they won't change. Men will change cause...well...we get horny. Women, they don't change.

I'm, by my nature, lazy. I look for ways to avoid doing unecessary work. My Mom, bless her heart, tried for years to get me to clean up after myself. The poor woman eventually just gave up and most considered me a lost cause. Now let me reassure you, I'm still not a neat person, but I've also learned that if I pick up after myself, I avoid doing future work. Yes, I believe you can learn to be lazy and neat.

The kitchen in our home is my domain. I am the usual cleaner of the kitchen. I hate to cook when its messy. Not because I don't like disorder, but I can't find stuff or space to work and that's a problem. I grew up working in my Dad's restaurants. I actually like cooking. Here's my first major complaint...Do all women just leave there crap around the kitchen? The woman in this house REFUSE to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher. They just put them on the counter above it. How hard is it to just put them in? We got the dishwasher that actually washes the dishes. No rinsing necessary. UGGG! Being lazy means I don't want to have to do it later...just get it done!

The biggest problem we have in our house is that people refuse to put things away when they are done with them. Being lazy means I don't want to create more work for later. Put it away when you are done.

The food containers that need to go to recycling get rinsed in our house and then are destined for a paper sack in the garage. The woman of this house will rinse said recyclable and then, wait for it, wait...LEAVE IT NEXT TO THE SINK! Yes, I've heard the excuse.
I was running late for work! I didn't have time...
to take this item into the garage where the car is I'm about to drive. I didn't have time to drop an item into a bag that's on my way out of the house. Poppycock! You just don't understand how to be truly lazy.

I love the woman in my home. I'm just tired of watching them make clutter and then complain to me the house is messy. Why do women believe that they men must always change? With as much time they spend looking in the mirror, you'd think...I'll be quiet now.

You see tonight, I've got no distractions and seemingly and endless supply of time. G over at "it's not about the badge" seems to be upset about Amy Winehouse's recent running up of the Grammys. I set a personable best for the longest comment on someone else's blog! Kudos to me! This easily surpasses my previous longest comment, the holiday classic from Nap Warden's contest post. Not sure the rebutle to G's post is as funny as the contest rendition of a holiday classic, but it was sure fun to write.

I recently acquired two new games for the Wii. These are the first games purchased with only Dad's desires in mind. The Simpsons Game and Guitar Hero III. I've tried GH3 before. I sucked at it (no, really. I was a champion air guitar in my own mind, but this game seems strangely different). I'll be posting some reviews of them real soon.

It's much too late and I'm much too punchy to still be going. Night all!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chapter 6, Page 3

Orientation is so draining. I'm BEAT!

To your left, my new "Stall." That is apparently the vanacular of the people in my work area. Today was the day I was introduced to my new co-workers. If you look at the's a window! Yeah!

My brain is moved past mushy and into just plain squishy.

I tried out the cafeteria today. Nummy! They had MEAT LOAF! And not the lounge act. It was really good.

I'm still trying to sort things out. More clarity later.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chapter 6, Page 2

Page 2! (Anyone else listen to Paul Harvey?) I currently live in an area of the U.S. known as Radio Hell. If its music you are looking for and can't stomach county, don't come here. We have a bad Pop station and a classic rock station with about 20 songs in its rotation. Why am I telling you this? I don't know. What do I know? I'm very tired.

Today the first great challenge was to find a way to get to the meeting room using your own transportation. This is an interesting challenge and I think its good to make the new hires figure out what they are going to be doing for parking. For me, this exercise provided no real value office is on the other side of the campus. My office building is 11 blocks away. I opted for the easy way out, I had the Mrs give me a ride and drop me off.

I think if I had one suggestion for my new companies New Employee Orientation it would be to move the respect, tolerance and harrassment portion to day 1 and save benifits and payroll to day 2. There wasn't a lot of excitement in the room for the second half of today. We did get a giggle for the some of the examples. Why do the examples need to be some bleedin obvious? One example, the guy made a comment to a female co-worker. His comment included a reference to Ragnar - the god of Love. Oy vey (I prefer my good friend Paul's definition for that yiddish for Uff Da - hehe).

We did get to let loose a fire extinguisher today. I've never actually fired one off. That's so cool! Now if they'd only let us use explosives, we'd be set!

Lunch today wasn't nearly as good as yesterdays. Not that it was bad, it was actually quite good. But compared to that lasagna from yesterday, cold meat sandwiches just are a bit of a let down. The lasagna was that good.

At the end of the day, they divided the group up. RN's on one side of the room and the other 10 of us on the other side. Wow. At this point, our supervisors show up. Since my office is 10 blocks away, mine figured it was too late in the day to head back to the office, I could just go home! Sweet! My ride expects me to be done in an hour and I'm at an assisted living building. Oh boy! While I spent the last two days in the conference room without wi-fi...sure enough, in the lobby - WE'VE GOT WI-FI! This geek's iPhone is now cooking with gas and surfing the web.

Tomorrow morning, I actually start learning about my new job. These will be the people I'm actually going to be working with. I'm actually more nervous about this than I ever was the last 2 days.

Thanks for the encouraging words Nellie and Zooks! I really appreciated them.

I must get some sleep now.

Monday, February 11, 2008

To K & G: Remember this?

I was going through some old pictures tonight and found this. This is from K & G's wedding. You guys had the most beautiful flower girls I've ever seen!

Chapter 6, Page 1

It was a cold, windy winter day in Rochester. The kind of day I wish I had the voice of Harry Kalas.

Today marked the beginning of the next chapter in my life. I started my first day with the new employer. Having spent the last 10 years at a very small company, I'd never really experienced the first day of orientation like this. You see, if you employ ~30,000 people, more than one person starts their new job each week. If your current count of employees starts with a tilde (~ : in mathematics means approximately) , that means you have more than 10 employees.

Orientation is kind of a weird thing. There are about 75-100 people here and for all us, this our first day. Everyone that isn't a PhD or MD goes through this process. At my table are two nurses (interestingly both males from the same college in Illinois), a physical therapist, a pharmacist and myself (never took a college biology class - prefers the real sciences ;-).

The attempt to get everyone to mingle. This is kind of odd to a comp sci major. We do end up chatting amongst ourselves to help ease the tension, but its obvious that other people are much more into this mingling business than others.

We start by learning about the [Employer Name]'s Way of Patient Care and learning about the founding of this fine institution. I found all of this very inspiring. They help to drive home the idea that all of us in the organization contribute to the overall care of every patient. Even us geeks.

The rest of the day, we start learning about the horror of parking problems (remember ~30,000 employees -> 9,000 parking spots). I've taken college math classes, this ain't good. I have about 12 years before I'm parking elidgable.

We took a bus tour of most of the downtown campus. This was sort of cool. I got to hear some of the history of the buildings, but having lived in this town for 5 years, I did see to know the names of the buildings better than the tour guide.

We had a fantastic lunch of lasagna and well, I'm picky, I had the lasagna and the breadstick and some carrots. The rest looked new. I don't eat new.

The afternoon was all about the benifits. I learned a bit here. Some of was rehashed for me since the Mrs has be providing the benifits for the last 5 years, I'd pretty well figured out a lot of them. It was nice to finally here from someone other than Mrs though. She had a couple of things wrong, but for the most part...she's got them down.

Tomorrow will be the first day I'm required to find my own parking. This is gonna suck. I really have no idea what I'll be doing. Maybe I'll just quit and turn professional in my poker career.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

When you are here

You are family!

Happy Birthday G!

To everything, there is a season

I haven't really posted much lately. Some of you know, my life, it is changing.

My wife grew in home that was in constant change. She thrives on change and in some ways, needs change to feel normal. I grew up in a home with near pefect consistency. My parents still live in the same house we grew up in a town that resists change.

But as of yesterday, I have thrust change upon myself in a grand way. I quit my job of almost 10 years and said goodbye to the only place I've worked professionaly. Now, I'm not an idiot. I didn't just quit to be unemployed. I think I'm the only person I know that has been continuously employed for 23 years (I'm 38 - not 60). I've never been laid off and I've never been fired or quit without either already working a second job or leaving to go to another job. This string continues and I'm moving to a new employer.

In the spring of 1998, I was the Assistant Manager at a OnCue store, a brand of Musicland. It was an OK job, but I was going to school for Computer Science. Not exactly the career I was studying for. My faculty advisor approached me one day with an opportunity. A local company was looking for interns to be software testers. The pay was a little bit less than what I was making, but the company seemed really interesting and would give me valuable experience for the after graduation job hunt. I took the job and began almost 10 year journey to today.

Through the years, I went from "just an intern" to the Development Manager. I became the architect for most of our companies products. I spent at least 8 hours a day here 5 days a week. This place and these people were definitely, a major chunk of my life. I really liked working here and I was very comfortable for a lot of years.

But the status quo changed and I found myself contimplating change. I started a process of just taking a look around to see what was available. When I saw the job market for computer programmers, I found a very scary sight. There were almost NO jobs in our market. When I'd finish college 8 years ago, there were jobs every where. It was a buyers market. But now...nada. This was the source of some seriousFUD.

The initial job hunt did not go well. I got one interview and now I had more FUD. After summer, I gave up for a while and just tried to focus on what I had, but the stress was growing. The company I'd been with for these past 9 years wasn't growing much and we were a long way from the Fortune 500. Now a days, I'm first and foremost a Dad. My family and their well being is the most important part of my life. If anything were to change the status quo for my company, what would I do? Its not like the old days, there were no jobs.

A Christmas miracle was in our future as the one interview I had last summer was finally producing fruit. That manager had called and suggested I apply for a job posting. I got the suit out of the closet one more time (casual attire at the other job :-) and did the interview. And this time, I got the job! But wait...what about my current employer? What would happen to them? My wife and I weighed all the options and thought about this for a few days. Actually, I didn't sleep for a few days as I compiled all of this. Again from the top, I'm not big into change.

We decided that it was best for me and our family to take the new job. And thus, 3 of the hardest weeks were on their way. My first task, to tell the owner of the company, my boss and friend that I was leaving. This was so unbelievably hard to do. I could tell by the look in his face, he was very surprised. I grew in my professional and personal life through this man. I don't ever want go through that again, but it is done. He asked me to not tell anyone for a few days. As he said, "The biggest rat is leaving the ship..."

Working with my co-workers without telling them what was about to happen was surreal. Going to meetings and helping them plan for the future, a future that they didn't understand, was not fun. I wanted to tell them, but I couldn't. I love playing poker. The feeling of running a great bluff is always fun...but this, this sucked.

Last week, we had a company meeting. This is how my boss wanted to break the news. He had some very good news to share and my story. I hope this helped. But their faces were also very surprised. These people are more than my co-workers, they are my friends. My heart knew I was disappointing them, I felt as if I was betraying them. But first and foremost, I'm a father and husband. In the long term, this is what is best for my family.

So I had a little over one week, a lame duck. I worked to make sure they could move on without me. All the while, I'm just wondering, is this the right decision? I have a corner office, a window and a door. I'm going from big fish in the little pond to little fish in the big pond.

This whole time, I just didn't know what to write. I wanted to write about everything that was happening, but I know people that read this blog also work with me. I need to see them and work with them. Until yesterday, yesterday I said goodbye. I got the last of my personal belongings in a box. A shock everyone's hand. I fought back tears. I know its not manly to get misty, but I hate goodbyes.

I know I'll be seeing my friends again. I'm not dead. But next time I see them, we will only be friends. I won't bump into them anymore in office. We won't just chat. I'll miss them dearly.

So for the first time in a very long time, I'm "between" jobs. I start the next chapter of my life on Monday. I dive into the big pond. I know things will be fine. But it is a bit daunting. Only time will tell. This weekend, I plan on enjoying time with the family. My kids are sad, this is the only company they've ever seen their Dad work at. I was on the same block as their elementary school. I could walk there in under 5 minutes. But now, I lose that.

If you've made it this far...sorry for the strange ride. I don't know if I've said this the way I hoped or if anyone really cares. But that's the story and this is my blog. Turn, turn, turn.

Happy Birthday G!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Return of Duken Nukem!

Sound like Duke Nukem Forever might be on track for late in 2008, er, soon!

Absolutely, without a doubt, my favorite video game growing up. Will this be the end of a legend? And here. And here.

I wonder if we will be able to buy this with vapormoney? Or will the price be in line with early 2000 $$$s, since that was when I was ready to buy it.

Heck...I'm still ready to buy it. See ya soon!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Been a while

Sorry I haven't posted much lately. Live is proving very hectic.

This weekend, the kids have decided to shift time zones again. 6:30 AM yesterday, our 4 year old comes in crying. Em, our 8 year old, woke her up because she was bored and lonely. Just like the movie Ground Hogs Day, it happened again today.

The best part of all of this? We had whiney kids all day. Yeah!

How do the know it's the weekend? During the week, we need to use cattle prods and high explosives to get them out of bed (that's an exageration, we'd never use explosives ;-))


We got a lot of transitions coming in the next 2 weeks, let hope the figure out soon we live in Central Standard Time.