Friday, December 29, 2006

My new office

I grabbed a lunch break, which consisted of a hike to the cafeteria in the north building of the Summit Technology Campus, where I work.  The food is actually decent.  I got a pork chop, greens, cornbread, and a milk for $3.95.  Not bad.  I've been working in this new office for two weeks now, and I'm just getting settled in.  It took them two weeks to procure my laptop, because they've been focused on moving into the new location here, plus the people who make these things happen have been taking vacation days.  Consequently, I've been getting work done via face to face meetings and using my personal email account and my personal laptop.  The first week, I did very little except read documents and watch some training presentations on CD and attend briefings to get up to speed on the project in which I'll be participating.  There are still moving boxes sitting around, and a bit of freight related to the project, too.  The first couple of days they were still painting the restrooms in our area, so we had to take a hike to the next nearest public restrooms. . . down a very long hallway, then a left and down the longest hallway I've ever seen.  I think I saw a hallway almost this long at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, and someone mentioned that the Denver airport might have a longer one, but I seriously doubt it.  This one wins on length to width ratio, hands down.  For the doubters, I've included a satellite pic of the building, and a pic of this ridiculous hallway, which runs the length of it.  Restroom breaks required advance planning.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Random phonecam items

It's my lunch break at work, and I'm clearing old images off of my phone.  So, I posted some interesting ones here.  They include a pic of one of those security Nazis who zoom around the Sprint campus on Segway scooters, the Christmas tree at Crown Center, some images from a family outing to a hibachi restaurant, and so forth.

Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown died.

Such a great Christmas is ruined, and this tired old techno song is finally true.  James Brown is dead of pneumonia.  I'm grateful that I got to see him in concert at the River Market a few years ago, and it was a lively show, indeed.  His music flavored the funk and was sampled by rap  artists, and I can honestly say I grew up listening to his style of music.  I only wish he was making new material in recent years.

That out of the way, I had a great Christmas with the family.  I finally did go Christmas shopping on Saturday.  And I think I've caught up on sleep. 

Monday, December 18, 2006

First day at the new job

After some driving around and a pit stop at McDonald's to freshen up, I arrived at the location and called the new boss to be escorted past the security guard, who did not have a badge for me.  I got to choose a cube out of a group of empty ones.  I grabbed one which looked secluded enough to provide some privacy, yet close to the break room.  Since this is everyone's first day in this new location, there are Fry-Wagner moving boxes stacked everywhere and people carrying their personal microwaves and minifridges into their new home away from home. I'm waiting for the boss man to print some new hire docs for me to fill out, and introducing myself around as people filter in and search for the boxes which contain their things.  Based on the interesting cubicle decor and banter, this is going to be much more interesting than the Sprint NOCC.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sprint Corporation parting shots

And I stopped to take a few pictures of the sprawling Overland Park headquarters of the Sprint Nextel Corporation, to which I may never return after Tuesday.  This image will serve as a reminder of that both wonderful and horrible place.  I had hoped to catch a picture of campus security in their Nazi jackets and bicycle helmets zipping around the cubicle farms on their Segway scooters.  Sunday is a good day for that, because the place is desolate outside the network operations center in building 6550.  No employees to run over, so they can go full speed.  I almost caught a picture of one as he zipped down toward the fitness center, but he disappeared behind a row of columns before I got the button pressed.

Gearing up for a crazy week.

Well, Christmas shopping just isn't going to happen this year.  I don't have the time or the money available.  It's finals week at school, plus I'll be working two full-time jobs on Monday and Tuesday.  In addition, I'm resolved to study after/during work at least eight hours total for my final exam, which is scheduled for Wednesday evening.  Then, I'm getting ready to host the family for Christmas.  They arrive Friday.  That precludes any weight lifting and hockey this week, I suppose.  I hope to still get at least four hours of sleep each day, by any means necessary.  After Tuesday, I will be back to a normal daytime work schedule and have the evenings free again.  Once I finish my final exam on Wednesday night, I'll get a full night of rest for once.  I think it might feel like a vacation.

Lutzie sent me a link to a great hockey video.  This guy is amazing in the stickhandling preview video. 




Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Baby harvest

They're curing nerve conditions in the Ukraine, but they're paying women to get pregant, then harvesting the babies at 8 weeks for the stem cells to facilitate the cures.  It seems like a new form of prostitution to me.

Friday, December 8, 2006


It's chilly today.  The sun is going to have to work hard to warm it up to the predicted 38 degree high.  I'm not planning to do anything outside, anyway, but the furnace is working overtime.  I can't wait to see the gas bill.  I mean, yes I can!

I quit my job at Sprint and accepted a contract to work in Dallas for the next few months.  The milder weather there will be welcome, as will the additional cash I'll be making.  This is the job I was looking for in July or so.  <sigh>  I'm glad it finally came along!  I'll be a technical lead for a network project at sites in Dallas, Kansas City, and Chicago.  This is right up my alley.  Because of the travel involved, I'll have to take my classes online for the next couple of terms.  I'm excited to be using my core competencies once again.

It was a little bit difficult to quit my job at Sprint.  If I didn't like the people I was working with so much, it would be significantly easier. I consider a few of them friends, though.  I'll certainly be staying in touch.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Bueno me baby!

Okay, so they opened a Pancho's in Blue Springs, and I've made the trip out there a couple of times for some fast and delicious Mexican food.  It's a shade closer to home than the one in downtown KC.  Now, I've discovered that they opened a Taco Bueno in Belton a couple of months ago, and there's a brand new one in Blue Springs.  If anyone else from Oklahoma who misses Bueno! would like to go with, I intend to make a trip, possibly to the Belton location, this week.


Friday, December 1, 2006

First Snow / Fall 2006

Here are some snow pics from this morning.  I also took some pics of the sun shining through the ice on the inside of the windows of the back room, which is not heated.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Phone battery.

I guess my phone battery was too low yesterday to receive calls.  I slept well, but I got 7 voice mails.  I needed the rest, because I didn't feel well.  Today, I feel great, but my to-do list is no shorter.  That means I might get a couple of hours of sleep, maybe.

I'm off to the gym, then to the library.  I'm getting my workout done, my calls returned, and my homework done before I worry about things such as sleep today.  I may be dead by the time I play hockey tonight, then work all night.  Wednesday, I will sleep, pack, go to class, and drive all night for a 4-day Oklahoma getaway.  I want to eat turkey, shoot a deer, and sleep a lot.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Busy busy

I've been slacking on the post frequency here.  I have a backlog of material to post.  I'm super happy to have no vacant rent houses and a full time job.  But all isn't well on that front.  I have a deadbeat tenant now, who is about to be evicted.  I have to do some due diligence, however.  There are some repairs which were deferred until he started paying some rent, but he's now told me that he won't be paying the rent until the repairs are done.  I suggested we make a contract.  If I do the repairs and don't see the money, I can then file the appropriate papers at the courthouse and make an appointment with the sheriff to put him out.  Either way, the repairs are necessary in order to show the house to potential new tenants.  It's a cute house, it just needs some love. . . and tenants who will pay the rent on time.

On the hockey front, I played center last night, but the wingers on my line had no passing skills.  I may as well have been playing defense, because I spent the better part of my shifts skating backwards.  In fact, the best scoring chances happened when I stole the puck away at center ice, rotated with the left defenseman, passed the puck forward to him, then followed the play.  Handing it off to a winger wasn't working.  I always look forward to playing on Tuesday with more skilled players.  I know where they are going, I can zing the puck to them, then I can get open in front of the net.

The nephew had his tenth birthday.  I helped him get an old computer working in his bedroom by swapping out a bad monitor and removing a lot of unnecessary software which was loading at startup.  At least he can play Starcraft on it now.

I attended Lake's birthday party for a couple of hours.  I didn't stay long enough for cake because I had to run off to work.  Someone's grandma died and someone had a kid, so I got scheduled for overtime.  I had intended to use the time to study and do homework on Sunday, among other things.  Now, I have more than I can possibly get done today and I have to sleep at some point.  I skipped my workout.  I'm still recovering from a hockey game, anyhow.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Fun weekend.

I had a stressful week followed by a fun weekend.  The theme of the whole thing was family.  I attended a great wedding and saw two great families come together for the formation of another one.  I also got some financial help from some family members to help me through some of my debt hurdles right now, for which I couldn't be more grateful.

I'm taking a finance class with my brother, which is required for each of us to get our Masters degrees.  This is going to be interesting.

Work is going okay.  There's a structure to chaos ratio which is starting to balance out for me there.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wireless is cool.

I've completed the third day of Motorola iDEN training, so I'm getting a really solid idea of how all the features of currently deployed cell phone technology have been bolted onto the old stuff.  It is intriguing how the big iron phone switch makers have held their place in the wireless world.  The writing is on the wall for the old DMS-100 family and Lucent 5ESS switches to become completely edged out of the MSO picture, as more and more of the functionality is being replaced by packet and frame technology.  That's job security for me.  I can see how Motorola is engineering their way around the DMS-100 for their next iDEN system release.  B'bye Nortel.  Hello softswitch.  They've already incorporated the Cisco MGX 8850 into their Push-to-Talk (dispatch) offering.  It's not that big a step to plop a wireless softswitch into the picture and eliminate the bulky old circuit switched elements for making regular calls.  I don't even see that Nortel has a wireless softswitch offering.  I wonder if Lucent or Cisco or TELOS will win that market share.  Even Samsung has one now.  SONUS, Tekelec, and Spatial are the new wireless softswitch players.  I'm guessing that if one of them gets ahead, Cisco will buy 'em.  My biggest curiosity is if the Lucent Softswitch could eliminate the Nortel presence  in the wireless world altogether.

NOTE:  I found later that Nortel doesn't call it a wireless softswitch.  In true old school telecom form, they have created an acronym which is completely meaningless, P-MSC.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Fridays don't mean as much when you're on a rotating shift schedule.  It's my Wednesday, but it still feels like a weekend a little, because I don't have anything on my calendar for tonight.  I can watch a hockey game on TV or read a book.

I want to say what a pain it is to work with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage when they misapply your payment.  I have four different login names on their website and depending which one I use, it might say I'm current or behind.  They have no way to tie all my accounts together with one login.  It's a similar pain if you call them.  I invariably get about four menus deep in their IVR before their system realizes there are multiple accounts and puts me on infinite hold-for-a-representative music.  The most aggravating part about that is that they routinely apply my payments to the wrong loans, and I have to send them my bank statement to prove that I sent them money and beg them to reverse any late charges or correct any default situations.  If you have a loan with Wells Fargo, don't ever get a second one, or a third, or a fourth like I did.  They officially suck at treating you like one person if you have multiple accounts.  If it weren't costly to refinance, I would do so in a heartbeat just to save myself the time of dealing with those bubbleheads.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Crazy week.

Monday evening, I took video of a bartender stepping outside of a Plaza bar and blowing fire, which is a stupid bartender trick, but the ensuing fireball was so large that I briefly thought we were all going to die.  Not a hair on his head was singed, so he knew what he was doing.  A group of people at the bus stop across the street yelled for him to do it again, but I think I was startled enough to just skip Halloween this year.

Speaking of danger, I applied for an interesting job in Iraq.  I like to think that they're not backfilling for some tragic reason.  There are a lot of personal and/or testosterone driven reasons why I would try for this job, even for the short term.  Plus, about a hundred thousand of them with no Federal withholding.  I don't have all the skills they're asking for, but I have most of them, and the rest can be attained by reading some books and some OJT.  It could be the adventure of a lifetime, or it could really suck for a while and set my resume apart somewhat.  It might make me wealthy.  Or, I could be maimed or killed traveling around that Allah-forsaken place fixing wonky network issues.  Maybe I could get a similar fix by skydiving, but I think braving a war where my skills are in demand might be more intense.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The past week.

I had some really great barbecue last weekend at the American Royal Barbecue, then I had a very busy week.  I got my 401k rolled over, showed a house to some potential new tenants, got to check out some radio controlled car racing, worked on a mid-term project for school, and managed to play hockey three nights, worked out four mornings, interviewed for a fat job at Accenture in Lenexa, and visited the doc for a checkup.  Once my 401k was rolled over, I borrowed some money from myself to pay off some higher interest debt and have some cash on hand.  So much for changing jobs.  Now I'm paying interest to myself instead of some predatory credit card company.  At 140,000 miles my '96 Jeep started having engine problems and burning oil, so I traded it for an '04 and paid cash for the difference.  So much for having cash on hand.  My blood test results were great.  >800 CD4  and <400 copies/mL VL.  So, it was a roller coaster kind of week.  My potential tenants may move in on the 20th, so I have some work to get that house ready to move into, like getting the utilities turned on and a few items fixed.  Plus, it needs a new garage door opener.  I paid a 24-pack fine for missing my hockey game last week.  I didn't play as well this week, because I didn't get enough sleep.  School is going well.  Making time to do homework is a challenge to the detriment of my sleep schedule.  I don't have time to watch TV any more, although I caught part of the UFC fights earlier. . . and dozed through most of it.  It was nice to show my newer Jeep to my brother and take him for sushi at Domo, the sushi bar in Brookside, which is my favorite now.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Ice time.

I was happy to learn that I get free admittance to the 27th Annual American Royal Barbecue on Oct 7 by showing my Sprint badge.  I was happy to finally get to play hockey tonight, and we won!  And I got plenty of good food, sleep, and a chest workout done earlier.  That adds up to a good day.


The biggest challenge of being nocturnal is setting aside plenty of time in the day to sleep and still making time to interact with diurnal people.  I find myself oversleeping for things for which I would previously have never considered setting an alarm.  The work/life/school balance is better when I try to put everything in my PDA, so it wakes me up in time.  The downside of that is that my PDA is also my phone.  If I don't ignore the phone when I'm supposed to be sleeping, it will invariably ring, I'll wake up, acknowledge the daylight, and have great difficulty dozing back off.  I'm going to start turning the phone portion off and cranking the volume on the calendar alarms.  I haven't really had the same energy level this week that I had last week.  I have to attribute it to sleep interruptions, a sleep deficit, and some poor diet choices.  I've been eating a lot of pizza delivery and Halloween candy and not getting to sleep before noon.  I can remedy the diet problem by preparing meals in advance and keeping good food around.  I'm going to have to consciously set an alarm clock for daytime activities every time I close my eyes for a "nap".  Sometimes, I'll doze off before going to the gym and wake up hours late for my appointment with my trainer.  It's no sweat for her, she gets paid anyway, but I feel terrible for multiple reasons.  Missing out on the exercise makes the sleep problem worse.  The more I think I'm settling into the nocturnal lifestyle, the more challenges emerge. 

All that being said, I've had a busy busy week.  I enrolled in a half dozen benefits at work.  I did a 401k rollover which involved researching the investment options, making phone calls, and doing the leg work to fax forms and FedEx checks.  I'm working on a project for class as well as preparing for a midterm exam.  I attended a birthday party, but I skipped hockey.  And that must be the root of my fatigue problem.  I'm an order of magnitude happier, more energetic, and more productive when I get some ice time.  :-)

On the subject of ice time, I was supposed to play hockey last night, but I woke up with no time to eat before the game, so I rushed around and grabbed work clothes because I would have to go directly from the game to work. . . I got all the way to the rink and realized my hockey bag, skates and all, was still on the back porch.  If I made the round trip I would only get to play for about 15 minutes, so I just ate dinner.  Later, at work, I received a "what happened to you?" email, so I sent a self-deprecating explanation, which I'm sure I'll hear all about at the next game.  Not enough defrag time, and my brain just shuts down.  I doubt that I would have played well, anyhow. <shrug>

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Two people have sent me links to the same video.  Are they trying to tell me something?  Ha ha.

Long live the weekend.

Last night, I was happy to chill at Cafe al Dente where I had pork chops and a mango relish with couscous, and a chocolate hazelnut tartufo which had some kind of raspberry syrup drizzled on the plate.  That place always amazes me with really good inexpensive food and how empty it is on a Friday night.  It's definitely a best kept secret in Kansas City.  Nic and I went to Skies and sipped port wine and watched the skyline go by, then we went to Harrah's where I played poker against some players that were so bad that *I* lost.  Limit Hold 'Em works out that way sometimes.  I got there too late to encounter the NASCAR crowd.  I should have gone to Ameristar.  Tonight I'm going to see KMFDM at the Grand Emporium, then head to Stifler's Mom's birthday bash house party at The Neida's place.  I promised myself that I would keep in mind that I have a hockey game tomorrow.  I'll see about going to the 49'ers game tomorrow, too.  I'll walk over to the stadium at game time and see if I can find a cheap ticket.

I skipped out on Octoberfest and the American Royal Parade today so I could have some greasy spoon breakfast at Debby's Diner, because Nic wanted coffee and the coffee at Monica's Diner isn't as good.  Of the diners on Hwy 40, Debby's is greasier than The Big Biscuit or Monica's put together.  I usually eat at Monica's because I like the food despite the use of canned mushrooms in the omelettes, so I avoid that, but otherwise I like their food. I just get milk or tea, because their coffee is really that bad.  Today at Debby's, I got the diced ham and scrambled eggs with a half order of biscuits and gravy with a side of hash browns with grilled onions.  It was 8.5 on a 10 point grease scale and the room was so smoky that my eyes were burning and my sinuses inflamed for over an hour after I left.  I read the local section of the KC Star which had egg yolk and hash brown bits on the editorial page.  I would have been more grossed out if it was yesterday's paper.  The coffee was good, but it was totally not worth it.  I wanted comfort food and ended up in discomfort.  <sigh>

I'll hit the American Royal BBQ next week for sure.  Since I'll be free during the day that day, not much could keep me away from it.  It *is* the largest barbecue contest in the world. 

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hockey season

Hockey season has begun.  In the past week, I've played in no less than 5 hockey games.  Sunday, I stopped a very hard slapshot just inside my right thigh just above the knee where there's no pad, so I have a very impressive scabby abrasion surrounded by an equally impressive purple bruise about the size of my hand.  I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but that one made my eyes water.  To add insult to injury, we lost that game.  Tuesday night, I stopped a wrist shot with my soleus, so I have a bruise there. . . same leg.  Tonight, I played through the pain, but I had to use tape on my ankles where the skates tend to rub the skin raw.  I winced when I removed the tape, because hair was also removed.  Despite all the pain, I have had a LOT of fun and made a bunch of new friends.  In the adult league, I'm playing for the Whiteman Bombers again, and the makeup of the team is somewhat different.  Some of the good players are back from Iraq, and there are some new faces who have skills.  We have a 1-1 record, but due to some scheduling mishap we had a bye week followed by a double header right out of the gate.  We won the first game, and lost the second game because A) it's the beginning of the season and most of the team hadn't skated since the Spring, and B) we were pretty tired following a hard fought first game while the other team had fresh legs.

So far, I like my Project Management class.  It's pretty intuitive to me, after having seen successful (and unsuccessful) projects at Time Warner Cable.  The real lessons I learned were from the crash and burn projects that got hobbled together and then reworked from scratch, or projects that were DOA and never got off the ground, or the projects that only survived to completion because of the technical ability of the people in the field doing whatever it took to make it work despite a half-baked idea and really crappy documentation.  With that experience, I can clearly tell who in my class have glassy eyes and believe the project management hype, and the one's who work for dysfunctional companies where projects are salvaged by a few smart people.  That said, I'm learning the tricks of the trade with regard to keeping a project on track, because the professor clearly recognizes the difference between textbook project management and reality.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Vampire mode (cont.)

I just got home from Harrah's.  I bought in for $100, played for an hour or so, tipped the dealer $5, and got up from the poker table with $223.  I played really tight.  I bet so aggressively that everyone just got mad and folded, and the only time I did show down, I had the nut straight.  It's a pretty good feeling to sit down at the poker table populated with tipsy hipsters in clubwear while I'm unshaven and wearing a concert t-shirt and flip flops. . . then proceed to dominate.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Vampire mode

After a full week of working midnights, I'm pretty well adjusted to muting my phone and sleeping from 9am to 3pm.  I was jet lagged at first, and it really affected me more than I would have expected.  After a few days of waking up to answer my phone, I realized it was going to be important for me to turn the thing off completely when I need to be sleeping.  If you're calling me at noon, that's the equivalent of me calling you at 3am.  I check my voicemail at 4pm, which is breakfast time for me.  On Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, I play hockey in the PM hours before work.  On Thursday I have a Project Management class.  Monday, Friday, and Saturday evening are the only times I'm really available for social pursuits.  If it wasn't for the DVR, I wouldn't watch any television.  Although, I'm bombarded by news and weather channels at work.  Regarding staying up all night, I'm learning what's open late at night, and in Overland Park, that's McDonald's, Price Chopper, QT, and IHOP.  In KC, being a night owl is a bit easier.  For the weekends, I found a hangout which is open til 5am.  It's been there since 1904.  The cover is $8 because it's the only place serving past 3am.  If I'm off on a weeknight, basically the casinos are open, or I can go sit at home and read, surf the web, or watch TV.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

71000 square feet

After my shift this morning, I went in search of breakfast on the Sprint campus.  Yesterday morning, I bought a made to order omelette with some delicious mushrooms and tomato bits.  Today being Saturday, however, the gates were down over the cafeteria entrance.  So, I proceeded across the amphitheater to Java City, where I had bought a pretty good turkey and bacon wrap previously. . . to no avail.  It was also gated.  So, I walked to the area known as Town Center, which is more or less an impeccably landscaped open air mini mall. I found that only the gym was open.  I figured a place where 14,000 people work would have a nice gym, but I had no idea what awaited.  So, I scanned in and asked the front desk cutie for a tour.  She showed me the first floor cardio area, strength machines, the free weight area, and the treadwall which is like one of those rock climbing walls, but it loops continuously.  I saw a gym with three basketball courts and a bulletin board with the basketball and volleyball schedules.  The biggest aerobics room I've ever seen.  A separate room for cycling classes.  Table tennis.  Putting greens.  On the third floor, a 1/8 mile track around a very well equipped aerobics theater with screens all around replete with signs showing which FM frequency to tune to for the audio.  I saw the door to the yoga room and a brochure rack with a newsletter full of nutrition tips and brochures for upcoming local foot and cycle races.  We went back to the first floor and she gestured toward the locker rooms, so I checked that out, too.  Deee Luxe!  Wooden lockers.  Rows of shower stalls.  A steam room and a dry sauna.  So, what's the damage if I join?  $15 a week.  I might pay that just to be able to shower, shave, and change clothes before my shift.  Can I use chalk?  No.  Can I drop the weights?  No.  Is a trainer available?  Yes, to write a workout program for you based on your goals.  Will someone on staff spot for me?  Yes, if they are capable.  If not, they can ask another member to help. . . this coming from a little petite thing that probably weighed 120 or less.  Okay, so this gym is a show piece.  There were a few serious people in the free weight area.  It's not like a token gym which you'd find in a hotel chain where they'd crowd a few essential pieces of equipment intoa small room with mirrors.  This is a well equipped mega gym built with the best intentions.  Seventy one thousand square feet!  Landscaped with fountains and pampas grass. 

Friday, September 8, 2006

My plate is full.

The most unique thing today is the Asada Fries at Pancho's.  It's basically a mound of fries with a mound of carne asada with guacamole and sour cream dobbed on top.  Guac on fries is the most delicious surprise.  Asada Fries looked gratuitous and tasted pretty amazing.

It may seem that I've dropped off the face of the planet lately, but I'm just settling into a new routine which includes dressing in business casual, a 30 minute commute each way, a night shift in the Sprint Network Control Center, a big breakfast, a grueling morning workout with heavy weights, a big lunch, sleeping with my phone turned OFF during the day, ice hockey 3 nights a week, graduate school one night a week, graduate school work when I can get it done, a side business involving telemarketing in the late afternoon, a big dinner, and a social life whereever I can fit it in edgewise.

I was unusually strong this morning.  My bench press is almost back where it was when I stopped lifting heavy back in May.  The "muscle has memory" axiom may be true.  My body weight is back to 194 pounds.    Part of the gain is muscle, but I have to confess and attribute part of the weight gain to the additional stress yields cortisol yeilds extra fat mechanism.  I was fitted for a tuxedo so I can usher at Adam & JoLynn's wedding and the tailor wrote that I have a 35 inch waist.  Ouch.  33 is more usual.  I have noticed that my "business casual" pants are fitting a little tight.  I stopped by the store after my Project Management class tonight to grab some "business casual" pants.  Luckily, I didn't have to change.  It's technically a "jeans" Friday due to a company barbecue, which doesn't happen until long after my shift.  The word is that midnight shift can play it both ways and wear jeans on Friday morning as well as Friday night (Saturday morning). 

The new job is going well, and I attribute it to the fact that I'm a fast learner.  Once I figured out that I could watch two training programs in separate browser windows at a time with background music from in a third window, I'm plowing through the training at double speed.  My computer has six big flat screen monitors on a tree so I can rearrange them.  They've got me doing the mindless repetitive work for now, since I'm not up to speed and stilltaking online training.  I have a handset which receives email reminders when it's time to conduct wireless tests.  I'm monitoring wireless data tonight.  Short mail, web mail, Virgin Mobile, and a variety of 2G features.  Most of the testing is done via automated probes represented by a giant green rectangle on one of my screens.  If part of that rectangle changes colors, something broke.  At the top of every hour, I have a checklist to go through and test a set of messaging servers from a customer's perspective. . . on four different handsets, all with different menu systems.  I've spent $15 on ringtones in the past few hours.  I found a menu full of Larry the Cable Guy ringtones, which keeps things light around here.  Well, it's time to test again.  I'm downloading some Nelly Furtado ringtones next.  Super cheesy busy work. Ciao.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I found this book by Danny John called From the Ground Up which has the best plain English guide for good form for squatting with a barbell which I have ever read.  My trainer just says to keep the weight over your heels, but never exactly how do that.  The tips in this book were obviously written by a coach who has taught a lot of kids how to lift.  For example, to correct your stance, jump up and down three times.  Where your feet land on jump 2 or 3 is the proper natural foot alignment for a squat.  Who knew?  If there's a question about what he means by "chest up", he says "imagine being on a beach when a bikini model walks by", which is an arched back, lats wide, chest up posture, he just calls it "Muscle Beach chest" from that point forward.  I've always been impressed in my experience with hockey coaches by their practice of associating complex concepts with two or three word commands which can be barked at game speed to correct an athlete.  I know that "soft hands!" echoes in my head every time a pass bounces off my stick, or "hockey position!!" if I catch myself standing straight legged in skates and can't stop or turn quickly enough.  After reading that, I imagined him shouting "Muscle Beach" across a stinky gym at some young chump who is lifting incorrectly.  Going down, you imagine your feet are stuck to the ceiling and you have to pull your butt to the ceiling.  Then "push the floor away" to get the bar going up.  That makes so much more sense to me than "stay on your heels."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Back in the gym

I'm having a nice lunch at the neighborhood Chinese buffet following a good back workout.  I just piled the plate full of honey baked chicken, rice, and broccoli.  Okay, and a couple of crab rangoon.  I'm 186# according to the gym scale.  That's the new benchmark.  

Regarding the weekend, I accomplished a lot less than I had hoped.  Friday night at The Duo Trio CD release party, I had a great time hanging out with Terry and Nicole.  We found ourselves at Town Topic at 3:30am via The News Room.  Ouch.  I was a zombie for most of Saturday.

Saturday night I skipped going to see the NHL-rules hockey game and grabbed some tasty LC's Barbecue carry out.  Then, Nic and I rolled to Adam's birthday party.  Fun! til 4am.  I got to see the UFC fights, even.  Chuck Liddell is an animal.

Sunday, I rested on the sofa and zoned out playing online poker.  I doubled my buy-in in a cash Hold'Em game.  I came in second in an Omaha tournament and won 300,000 play money chips.  I find Omaha to be much more engaging than Hold'Em.  I basically only played hands with a suited king or ace and/or pocket pairs.  I limped unless I had two pairs or a pair of face cards in my hand.  I bet a medium sized bluff at every flush possibility on the board.  This worked because I'd get caught bluffing a couple of times, but covered the damage to my stack when I made the same size bet with the nut flush and got callers or the opportunity to reraise.  I folded to any post flop raise unless I had the nuts or good odds to draw the nuts.  I was chip leader until heads up, then my inexperience showed.  I need to practice heads up Omaha.  I might start coming in first.  I think I'm ready to switch from play money to cash Omaha.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fall approacheth.

What a day!  I helped a friend who sells Prepaid Legal Services memberships setup a web site.  I was most shocked to find that you can have a unix hosted site with PHP and your own cgi-bin and a domain registration with a catchall email address for the domain, and a cool interface for adding A records for a year for $71, unlimited drive space, and unlimited transfer.  Web hosting has achieved commodity status.  I foresee moving this journal to my own domain very soon.  I got a nap, and Kris called to say that he had the day free to help finish the flooring at my annoyingly vacant rental.  I'm glad.  It needs a full day of TLC before someone could move in.  I had the broken washer hauled out of there, and subsequently got a discount on a newish high capacity dryer, which is sorely needed at my brother's house.  It was a good trade, and the guy guaranteed the dryer for 60 days.

I received a desperate sounding email from Lutzie, the man who rents the ice rink for his invitation only games twice a week. 

from Lutzie 
to Lance, Robert, Darren, Mike, Marc, Jared, Mark, Jeff, Corky, Sam, Mark, Brian, Joe, Kevin, Marty, Clay, Joe, Brian, Daniel, Jim, Greg, Kirk, Gerald, Anthony, Mike, Jeff
 More options  5:05 pm (7 hours ago)
I had 2 late cancellations today so I  have a spot for 2 players tonight. If you want to play or know of anyone who does, just call me at 816-xxx-xxxx.

They're a fun bunch to socialize with, so I called him to say that I'd like to fill in.  It's worth the $18 for the ice time, but they grill after they play, and the food is excellent.  I learned that Lutzie owns many millions of dollars worth of construction equipment and an excavation and landscaping company.  I knew he had a bank.  I wonder if it's repo stuff?  At any rate, I rushed around and made it to the game a few minutes late, and had a lot of fun.  But I'm wiped out.  I can tell I'll be sore tomorrow.  Playing hockey three days in a row, I've probably lost six pounds.  I'm at 190 now.  My scale says I'm 21% body fat.  I think it reads a bit high.  No thanks to the fact that I pigged out on brats with sriracha sauce and mustard right after I had already had a chili dog. . . I'm going to be feeling the heartburn later.

I don't know if my skate blades are just dull or I hit a soft spot on the ice, but my skate slid out and I strained my groin.  I will be sitting out any hockey opportunities this weekend.  I need to have the blades sharpened tomorrow.  I wanted to go to the rink anyway.  There's a Friday Night Lights 2 hockey challenge game tomorrow at Pepsi Ice Midwest.  It's a semi-annual NHL rules game for anyone brave enough or stupid enough or tough enough.  Full bodycontact.  5 minutes for fighting.  I'm glad that's becoming a tradition.  Seems like fun.

I have conflicting party invitations for Saturday, but I know I'll end up at Adam's birthday party after showing my face at the UFC watch party (and poker tourney).

Sunday is the KC Curling Club Open House at the rink from 11a-1p.  They're begging for volunteers to help with the event, so I might show up and lend a hand.

I hope tomorrow is asfun and productive. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Another job offer?

In a strange twist of fate, I was contacted by a recruiter whom I've been working with on the UMB Bank job opportunity I interviewed for a while back.  It's the job for which I narrowly missed being hired when I failed to get his call/voice mail for a couple of hours due to a dead cell phone battery.  Well, the guy who made the low ball offer and undercut me didn't work out, and they're preparing an offer for me.  The recruiter is shooting for $42 an hour for 8 months.  If he hits the mark, I might jump all over it and send my apologies to the Sprint hiring manager.  The dilemma is troubling.  Sprint network versus UMB web?  Benefits versus no benefits?  Slumming in a NOC job versus $25k a year more and preservation of my ever increasing salary history?  Easy job in my core competency versus challenging job which expands my experience?  Pain in the ass 30 minute commute versus easy 15 minute commute?  Midnight shift versus daytime hours?  30 minute meal break versus 1 hour lunch downtown?  Kansas versus Missouri?  Working weekends and holidays versus a bank holiday schedule?  I'm accepting advice at this point.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sprint employee

The most unique thing to happen today is my receipt of a spam offer for a Johnny Cash Mastercard.  The second most unique thing is a job offer.  It's a huge pay cut for me, but the job is super_nerd_cool!!!!!111  It's a vampire shift in the Sprint Network Control Center.  I have been to the Sprint campus and I've seen the hive of geekdom that monitors the Sprint network from Puerto Rico to Maine to Hawaii.  The cubes are literally in honeycomb shape with aisles that zigzag.  When you're in one of these cubes, you're completely surrounded by large flat screen monitors two high.  And when you stand up to peer over the cube walls, you find yourself surrounded again by large flat screen TVs hanging from the ceiling and tuned to the news and weather channels.  I will have the Sprintlink internet backbone folks as cube neighbors and a clear view into the wireless voice network area. My area monitors the wireless data area.  Basically, the 2G and 3G internet access or text messaging or ringtone downloads cross the portion of the network I'll be monitoring, etc.  It's a rare opportunity to work with every division of Sprint and get my head around their entire network architecture.  The overnight nature of the shift leaves the days free for school work or other pursuits.  I suspect I'll workout in the morning following my shift, have a nice big meal, then sleep in the middle of the day.  That starts on September 5.  So, I have a deadline to finish all my little projects. 

September 9, I start school.  It's a network security course taught by a Sprint employee, Mr. Xie.  Since Sprint will be reimbursing my tuition, I can use the super low interest school loan money to pay off higher interest debt. . . and I have accumulated plenty of that over the past couple of months being "self-employed".

I'm going to celebrate by playing some drop-in hockey tonight.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Birthday 36, The Sequel

Now that I've been up for roughly 24 hours, I'm kinda zombified.  To summarize, though, I had an early job interview, a big breakfast sandwich at Wendy's, some time to read emails, a good workout, a brief lunch, a little nap, birthday dinner in the afternoon, a profitable session of poker at Harrah's, a long wait for a table, a second birthday dinner late, and birthday drinks on a rooftop deck.  It was very laid back and conversational.  That's what I needed after such a long day.  I didn't get serenaded by the wait staff.  I didn't have to exert myself.  I didn't have to drive.  I came home with more money than I left with.  I got to spend time with friends relaxing on a patio in the most perfect weather.  That's a good night all the way around.  Thanks to Adam, Jo, Scott, Tricia, and Christina for a good time.  Thanks to the Thorsons, and Rich & Lisa, as well.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I'm trying to doze off, but there's a nasty thunderstorm outside, and I have to be at a job interview in five hours.  If I head out at 5am on a Saturday for an interview on my birthday, it had better pan out!

I received a birthday greeting from a radio station.  How do they know my birthday?  I got a nice card from Southwest Airlines and a free birthday burger coupon from Red Robin.  I need more birthday freebies.  Know of any?  Can't you eat free at Denny's on your birthday?


My efforts to bypass the recruiters has paid off already.  I have been contacted directly by a hiring manager and have an interview lined up for Saturday at 5:30am at Sprint.  They are in a hurry to hire someone with my skills.  Being a direct hire includes benefits like tuition reimbursement.  If I can get my foot in the door over there, I'm sure I could move up fast.  The position has a rotating shift schedule, because of the 24 hour nature of the cellular data network being supported.  Well, that's nothing new to me, but at least this is scheduled and won't interrupt previously scheduled things on "my time".  Working swing shifts or midnight shifts suits my lifestyle just fine, as long as I can work some hockey time and gym time in somewhere.

In the wake of my parents' visit I'm getting chores done, like actually cutting my grass.  When a squirrel steps off the driveway into the lawn and completely disappears, it's time. 

The kitchenette downstairs is coming along.  I'm pulling out the remaining nails by which the 1973 style paneling was previously hung.  I have a verbal commitment from Kris to work off some back rent by doing more flooring work.  I have a friend, Tim, who has a construction business who will give me a discount on the electrical work and plumbing.  He will be here on Saturday to get started.  The cabinets are bought on credit, and I'm assembling them today.  Big fun.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Retracted job offer?

I thought I had a job, but someone at Sprint or Kelly Services or United IT screwed up and the job the recruiter thought they were hiring me for and the job that Sprint was actually hiring me for were two different jobs.  I was quoted $43 an hour and had even signed an acknowledgement that I was an employee of UIT and Kelly Services and not Sprint directly.  After a period of silence, I called the recruiter and asked him what to do next.  He let me know that the pay was actually only 25.70 an hour.  He said the president of UIT had contacted Sprint to complain about the mix up.  I doubt I'll be working with UIT at all. . . ever.  Nor Sprint for that matter.  The problem is that I had called a number of other recruiters to let them know I had accepted an offer.  Ouch.  How do you call them back and say, "The offer I accepted was bogus.  Please, put my name back in the hat," without sounding awkward?

Anyway, a job opening at SAIC appeared today, which suits me.  Alternatively, I could go to work now for Spherion working for ACS working at Hallmark for 26 an hour.  But I think ACS would rather hire someone directly than through a staffing service like Spherion.  Spherion's cut must be huge, because I got the indication from the other engineers there that 26 is pretty low, based on their facial expressions.  I only went to the interview for the purpose of meeting the people at Hallmark, anyway.  I think it was worthwhile.  It would be a great place to do contract work.  The commute to Hallmark headquarters is super easy.

Today, I'm spewing resumes and cover letters and soliciting for a job at places where I would like to work, whether they have openings posted or not.  So far, I've gotten one response.  I think going direct and ignoring the staffing service recruiters is more my style.  Especially so, after that bait and switch burn yesterday.

Friday, August 11, 2006


I think I just slam dunked a job interview at Embarq.  Although it's not my first choice, it's an interesting enough job that I know I can do well there.  Lots of Solaris.  Lots of shell scripting. :-)

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Cool jobs.

Once in a while, I stumble upon a job where I just want to meet the candidates.  This is one of those.  Senior Military Analyst.  You pretty much have to be some sort of bad ass.

I was just considering how low the odds are that a female will get this job.  I'm not being chauvinistic; I'm just saying that chicks with this amount of tech in their background are rare and the fact that bombs are involved really narrows the field.

"Date: 8-8-2006 Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS Area code: 913   Tax term: FULLTIME Pay rate: Competitive Length: FULLTIME   Position ID: 62623 Dice ID: saicbot   Job description: The CG, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (CAC) is the Army Electronic Warfare (EW) Proponent and responsible for all facets of the Army EW program development and management. The USA EW Proponent is a subdivision of the USA Information Operations Proponent and is designated the CAC executive agent for day-to-day interface with the HQDA G3 EW Directorate and other Army agencies. Lead agency responsibilities for the subdivisions of EW are assigned to various TRADOC schools and centers. CG, CAC retains overall decision authority for all DOTMLPF requirements and the synchronization and coordination of all subdivisions of EW. This position provides on site support at Fort Leavenworth to the USAEWP office in carrying out program responsibilities related to Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Office (JIEDDO) initiatives, and may require occasional travel. Tasks may include: 1) advocating and coordinating Army EW support to DoD-wide efforts to reduce or eliminate the effects of all forms of improvised explosive devices (IED) used against U.S. and coalition forces by being the focal point for the EW aspects of policy, resourcing, materiel, technology, training, operations, information, intelligence, assessment, and research; 2) participating in "defeat of the IED" initiatives by analyzing the EW aspects (including electronic attack, electronic protection, and electronic warfare support) of the efforts to reduce the effects of IED detonations, including route clearance, device neutralization, explosive detection, military explosive ordnance disposal, and vehicle and personnel protection; 3) participating in "defeat of the IED system" effort by focusing on EW aspects designed to reduce the effects and interrupt the insurgent chain of IED activities through intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, information operations, counter-bomber targeting, device technical and forensic exploitation, disposal of unexploded and captured ordnance, and persistent surveillance; 4) participating in "training the force" initiatives by focusing on the EW aspects that mitigate the effects of insurgent IED employment through multi-echelon training, technology training, information management and dissemination, strategic communications, and doctrinal and institutional training changes; 5) analyzing (perhaps by using the Joint Common Intelligence Picture of the global IED threat) how EW capabilities influence or disrupt adversary IED tactics, techniques, and procedures; IED threat system products; and IED adversary networks and vulnerability of products; 6) identifying new capabilities and tools such as systems and counter-measures to fight the IED threat.Education/Skills:BA or BS degreeRequired Skills: Current theater operations experience with an understanding of the acquisition system development process and the acquisition relationships between the government and industry. Minimum of 12 years of honorable service with the US military. Disciplined analytical approach to problem solving. Ability to identify problems, develop alternatives, pursue tradeoffs and recommend choices. Superior analytical, writing, and public speaking skills. Proficiency with the Microsoft Office - Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Desired Skills: An advanced degree in an area relevant to the tasks; experience in educational development; military personnel management; service related EW school training; recent experience in EW or EW related activity; experience in determining, documenting, and processing war fighting concepts, future operational capabilities, and doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leader development, personnel and facilities (DOTMLPF) requirements. Completed the DoD Program Manager's Course or Acquisition 101."

Job seeking.

A little networking in the locker room after hockey pays off. . . one of the players handed me his business card and said they have job openings for network engineers.  Today, I went to their website and looked.  Wow!  Municipal WiMAX project design?  Yes!  I hope to get that opportunity.  I polished up my resume to fit the listings and fired off a masterpiece cover letter and list of references.  I have an interview tomorrow with Embarq.  I hope that goes well.  I'm making an appointment for a haircut tomorrow morning.  No need to press a suit. . . just hang anything out in this 100 degree 80% humidity and the wrinkles fall out immediately.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Tuesday's just as bad.

I got to play hockey tonight, and I signed on for the next several weeks.  Since the regular adult league starts up again in September, I want to have some ice time prior to get my skating legs back.  Aside from a blister on my foot, which will callous and not be a problem when I'm back into the swing of skating three times a week, no real aches or pains. . . til tomorrow when I wake up, I'm guessing.  It's Lutzie's invite-only league on Tuesday nights.  The stress left my body as I slammed around out there.

I called up my flooring guy, my tenant who needs to work off his back rent, to finally finish up some work he left unfinished.  I hate to lose my cool, but he's been stringing me along for 3 days and my new roommie has boxes piled in the middle of the floor waiting for him to glue some corners.  Just annoying, but he came over at 11pm and knocked it out.

My house was appraised today.  The amount it appraised for will determine how much cash I can get out of it by refinancing.  Not the smartest thing financially in the long run, but sort of necessary for the time being.

I had some pretty good Vietnamese noodle soup at a different place than Pho 97.  The breaded and fried sweet potato appetizer object with shrimp in the middle was everything I had remembered.  Afterwards, a walk up the hill to a coffee shop which was having a 10 year anniversary yielded free coffee.  It was a zen moment.  Happy tummy.

I think I applied for a dozen jobs today, and spent over 100 minutes on the phone with recruiters and got very little else accomplished.  The roommies fridge is in place in the kitchen/bar to be.  Rinse, repeat tomorrow.

Friday, August 4, 2006


My priorities this week have been 1) to work on getting the vacant house ready to show, 2) get my basement apartment ready to move into, and 3) set in motion a cash-out refi on one of my rental properties to stay financially afloat while I focus on the job search.  I got those things accomplished while getting bombarded from every angle by recruiters.  I have also heard every get rich quick scheme imaginable.  I also learned that getting a good interest rate on a mortgage while unemployed, or self-employed, is difficult.  The problem is this, a lot of my rental income went directly into my wallet and never saw a bank account.  So, now that the mortgage companies are saying, if you were really self employed for over a year, show us the bank deposits.  I have faxed twelve months of bank statements to multiple underwriters, identifying which were rent deposits and which deposits were from my day job.  If you say you're self-employed, you can't count the money from your day job as income for the purpose of loan underwriting unless you're still working there.  Fine.  I'm poor and desperate and I'm in your crosshairs, despite my flawless mortgage payment history.  Stick me with a crappy interest rate, give me some cash, and watch me refinance to a better rate at my first opportunity.

I also filed for a Nevada S-Corporation.  I got two new job titles out of the deal.  Owner.  President.  I like.  The legal fees to file articles of incorporation and the amout of bookkeeping chores for a corporation are only slightly obnoxious.  But, from now on the rental thing is going to be a business, and be run like a business instead of a hobby, for all the tax benefits possible.  I will lease office space, a portion of my house, to my company.  I will lease my vehicle to my company when I drive it on company business.  This year, I have to squeeze every dollar I can out of what I have.  That includes leveraging every tax benefit I can muster.  Signing a lease as an officer of a company where you are both the Lessee and the Lessor, feels like writing a letter to yourself. . . or much like writing your own paycheck.  :-)  I had an accounting job at a freight broker where I literally wrote my payroll check once a week for three months, and it was gratifying.  Everything will be setup once I deed my investment properties to my company, and the tenants sign new leases from Alpha Chief Leasing, Inc.  Then if someone slips on an icy stair because of a leaky gutter and ruptures their spleen to death, my company can go down, and I can walk away undevastated.

I applied for federal student loans.  The interest rates are amazing.  3 point something?  And I can keep the excess?  No payment til I finish?  Hehe.  I guess if a job doesn't happen in the next week or so, I'll just be a full time student.  Whatever it takes to make my mortgage, car, and insurance payments.  I told the Feds to ship the results of the loan app to all the local schools which have Masters programs which I am interested in.  I hope that when they smell the money, they'll come looking for me.  ITT Tech, University of Phoenix, and Colorado Tech already have.  The ITT Tech campus is literally a quarter mile from my house, while the University of Phoenix and Colorado Tech campuses are each about 20 minutes away.

I completely skipped out on First Friday today, but my basement is clean for once.  It has fresh paint and carpet as of today, except for one room.  And the only 1970's style paneling left in my house is in the stairwell.  There's a sizeable pile in my driveway right now.  The front room is being converted into an eat-in kitchen, and I ran out of money.  So, I'll have to wait for my refi to complete it.  Cabinets ain't cheap.  They're not even affordable.  My new roommate, Nic, is flexible.  I'm glad of that.  I simply didn't have time this week to hang the bead board wainscoting and trim boards in the kitchen to be.  The shower is also a work in progress, but she can use the upstairs one while I complete repair downstairs over the next few days.  I need a break after huffing asbestos dust while taking up a layer of asbestos tile down there.  No lie.  There's a dumpster in a neighborhood apartment complex which will soon receive a visit by a man dumping asbestos tiles quietly in the night.

Out of the blue, Karen from Time Warner called today to say that the job for which I attended a two hour technical screening by two people, three levels of interviews, and a mock sales presentation in front of the decision makers a MONTH ago. . . is "on hold".  Ikinda figured that someone would have been hired for that position, but apparently nobody has been, or will be any time soon.  That's okay.  I have hot job leads locally from Embarq, F5 Networks, and Standard and Poors.  I would enjoy doing any of those jobs, and would be proud to work for any of those companies.

I have an opportunity to take on a CM IT Solutions franchise.  The territory including Liberty, Independence, Blue Springs, and Lees Summit is not taken, and the company has customer leads here, but they're feeding them to a franchise in Shawnee.  Grrr.  I think I could run one of those.  That may be the ticket.  I am in the running to be selected for that franchise.  I have to go to Austin for the interview/application process, and hopefully the training.

I actually showed my vacant house to a potential tenant today.  It felt like a test run.  When you're showing a place for the first time, you can identify the flaws and the selling points just by watching their eyes.  They'll zero in on the slightest water stain, even if you never saw it.  I had no idea there was chartreuse carpet on the stairs going down into the garage.  Until I fixed the house up, that wasn't the worst thing. . . by a long shot.  She said, "That bathroom wall *is* a butt ugly color."  And without taking a breath, "That vanity is cute."  I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "You should have seen the color in the master bedroom before I painted it."  Or, "You should have seen the vinyl flooring that was here before."  I hope she rents it, her credit rawks.  Not even a slow-pay.

Next week's priorities, tax paperwork!, getting a tenant in my vacant house!, and preparing to host the folks as houseguests for a few days.  Oh, and find a job!  Jetta repair is on hold.  It's off my insurance now, so I don't want the liability.  It's better off parked, and I have more important things on my plate.  Driving the Jeep around is tough at the pump, but cheaper on the car insurance front, and I'm in miser mode.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Hot job openings today!

I have been a job applying fool today.  Lots of really great job opportunities appeared today.

Jobs Applied To
Resume Title Date Sent Job Title Company
Charles Hill resume - July 2006 7/31/2006 Chief Information Officer Confidential
Charles Hill resume - July 2006 7/31/2006 Information Technology Director Confidential
Charles Hill resume - July 2006 7/31/2006 Network Engineer Overland Solutions, Inc.
Charles Hill resume - July 2006 7/31/2006 Systems Engineer / IT Consultant Apexis Consulting Inc
Two of these jobs prefer or require a Masters degree.  I'm more than seriously considering getting a Masters degree sooner than later.

Latex snot

I noticed that Midge put her trash out before I got home tonight.  I just checked.  The 'coons have already partaken.  And I saw one of them leaving the scene as I stepped out my front door.  My ex-roomate left some animal traps.  I'm thinking hat.

I got a lot of painting done.  Most of painting involves taping off what you don't want painted.  I was working with an Airlessco LP540.  I mean to tell you, if you failed to mask something when you hit a wall with that sprayer, it got coated.  That thing puts the equivalent of 2 coats of paint on as fast as you can swing it.  My taping to painting ratio was about 3 hours taping to less than an hour with the Airlessco paint sprayer of death and doom.   I will never use a paint roller on a ceiling again without first seeking out one of these things.  It could rock and roll.  I rented a generator to run that beast, because there's no electricity at that house right now.  I used so little gas, they considered it full when I returned it.  Then I spent another hour of cleaning, sanding, and scraping the overspray off of things, including myself, then another couple of hours cutting in the edges of things and around windows with a small paint brush.  After I put in a few more hours on the task tomorrow, I will have painted an entire house by myself.

I was having a fresh air and water break on the back deck of the vacant house and noticed flying insects coming in and out of a seam in the siding above a light fixture.  I looked closer and found they're little bees.  I entertained myself by putting a piece of masking tape over said seam, blocking the entrance to the hive.  In a few minutes, there was a nice big swarm of bees who were locked out of the house.  They were slowly eating the tape.  I expect them to have eaten their way in or out by the time I go back tomorrow to hit them with some bug spray.  How big of a honeycomb could be inside of a garage wall behind a light fixture?

When I got home, I took a long shower to get the bits of overspray that had stuck to every exposed hair on my body.  Even my eyelashes had the frosted look.  I looked like Old Man Winter or more like I had been hunting caribou than painting a house.  The steam in the shower loosened up my sinuses, and I had been wearing a mask most of the time, but gobs of whitelatex semi-gloss came forth from my nose.  It was disgusting.

The unique thing today--I discovered that banana flavored protein powder tastes really good in a bowl of cream of wheat.  I hate it otherwise, and may never purchase banana flavor again.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Racoons and the surreal zone.

A few minutes ago, I woke up with heartburn.  I went into the kitchen to put something in my stomach to sooth it.  I noticed that the security light was on in the back yard.  That usually only happens when I set off the motion sensor, there's a cat back there, or the wind is blowing the tree branches around.  It's a calm night, and I didn't see any cat sneaking around back there, so I investigated.  As soon as I stepped out the back door, I noticed that trash was strewn all over the carport.  I saw chewed up napkins, plastic forks, bottles, and three little heads popped up.  The racoons had found the trash bag with the party leftovers in the bottom.  I wish I had a camera at the time.  The biggest one bolted down the driveway.  The two adolescent ones hid behind the trash bags, as if I didn't see them.  So, I went out there and moved the food containing bags, or what was left of them, against the wall, and surrounded them with bags which don't contain food.  The other two finally spooked and ran in different directions.  I know the procedure for thwarting these critters.  I'm a five year veteran of picking up trash out of my yard on trash day, which is a Monday morning ritual.  The racoons tend to lie in wait before sunrise on Monday for everyone to put out their trash, and then, when the coast is clear, they tear in and pig out.  Woe if you put yours out the night before.  Since the Kansas City trash pickup service is so backwards, they require the trash to be in bags.  The reason I have bags stored in my carport is because they will only take two bags per house unless you buy stickers for the excess ones.  No trash cans.  They will throw your trash can into the truck with your trash if you put one out there, or they just won't pick it up at all.  I learned the hard way.  I also learned a trick to keep the racoons away from my trash, and it worked just now.  I peed around the bags, and on the food debris which was strewn.  I went back inside and watched.  One at a time, they came back a few minutes later, sniffed around where I peed, and promptly left.  I don't know if that puts fear into them, or just puts them off their appetite, but it works.  <shrug>  It's cheaper than a BB gun.  I'd rather do that than pick up bits of chewed up barbecue napkins the next morning, or find food wrappers in every corner of my yard for the next two weeks.

On a less angry note:  Tuesday, I had a fun night out with Courtney.  We had previously discussed our common need for some good Mexican food and beverage and made an appointment for Tuesday night to sate that need.  So, I suggested we head to the northland and eat at Ixtapa.  Her quest for the best margarita and quesadilla combination was victorious in just that one stop.  It was a lot of driving, but there's no need to try every taqueria on the Boulevard.  That place never disappoints.  She said she didn't *want* to find a better chicken quesadilla appetizer.  Any attempt might be a huge let down.  I think that thing lasted 45 seconds before we had completely devoured it.  They put Grand Marnier in their margaritas.  Pow!  She had some pretty satisfying looking tacos.  I had to swipe some of the guacamole from her plate.  I had Enchiladas Nopales.  That would be cactus enchiladas.  They were delicious.  They also make a mean squash blossom quesadilla, although I'm partial to the ones from Casa Paloma in downtown Overland Park.  We explored Zona Rosa somewhat, since we were right across the highway.  That place is surreal.  In our quest for a public restroom we found the Cold Stone and ate ice cream so fast our heads hurt; it was so good.  The Tomfoolerie's at Zona Rosa has a different personality than the one on the Plaza.  Bike night?  There was a strange mix of yuppies and bikers there.  It reminded me how the Velvet Dog in KC has a completely different type of clientele than the one in the French Quarter, except this place has both types.  I found The Magestic Theatre.  That place looks swank.  No wonder the top comics are playing there and Harrah's and not the usual dumpy comedy clubs here.  Too bad it's way out by the airport.  I stumbled upon an Indian place called Swagat, with actual Indians eating there.  Noted!  "Bike Night Every Wednesday.  Free Admission with Helmet."  "Farmers Market.  Every Tuesday 4PM - Sell Out. Located in the breezeway between Victoria's Secret and Hot Topic."  You, too, can own a low rise condo overlooking the Sunglass Hut and DSW with a view of Dick's Sporting Goods in the distance.  Zona Rosa is just surreal.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Lazy, Relaxing Sunday

I just spent the past 90 minutes drooling over the Tesla Roadster.  It looks like a Lotus Elise, it runs on electricity, the only moving part is the rotor, the aid of a traction control computer allows it to go 0 to 60 in 4 seconds, it runs nearly silently, it has a range of 250 miles on one charge, it comes with a portable charger in the trunk, and it recharges in 3.5 hours.  $80k.  But you don't have to buy gas and you could charge it with solar panels on top of your garage.  The tax credits you get could make the down payment.  I doubt my next commuter car will burn gas now.  I'm holding out for one of these!  It's not going to work for hauling, but for getting around, wow!  The new trick which makes this car so fast and efficient?  Cell phone (lithium ion) batteries running in parallel. 6831 of them, to be exact.  As the laptop and mobile phone makers spend the R&D dollars to extend battery life, this kind of car can only get better.  Cost of ownership is 1 to 2 cents a mile.

As far as Sunday goes, I did as little as possible.  I'd say I spent 95% of my day on my sofa or in a recliner at my brother's house.  The other 5% in the car or in the shower.  I didn't even cook.  I ate leftovers and pizza delivery.

I'm refreshed.  I'm ready to paint houses, and I'm ready for a fresh batch of Monday morning job listings.  Bring on the day.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Yay for Friday

Last night was fun.  Midge, my next door neighbor, had her KCMO PD toga party again this summer and I had a companion party, because if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  And I think it worked out pretty well.  Meeting Nic, my future roommate, getting face time with friends, and hanging out til daylight breakfast at Denny's with Nic, OCA, and Moodswung was great.  Seeing Moodswung fall asleep in mid conversation and drop his freshly lit cigarette into his pancake syrup wasn't as funny at the time as it is now.  When your friends say, even if you don't take her as a roommate, be sure Nic comes to our next party, that's a pretty good endorsement.  And I proved once again that some of the best barbecue and arguably the best barbecue beans in the known universe can be obtained from L.C.'s on Blue Parkway.  I got a choice pic of the Nieda with a rib and a bib, which sort of sums up the whole thing.  Nic and I agreed on her move-in date of August 4, so I have a deadline for repairs and renovations.  In fact, I'm taking the measurements to the carpet store right now to pick out the flooring.  I'm going to have the installers do my basement and my vacant house at the same time.  One more step toward the elusive positive cashflow situation.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Off to a bad start.

I was eating lunch after working outside for a while and thought it odd that my phone hadn't been ringing like crazy, as usual.  So, I picked the thing up and tried to call voice mail.  It said "Would you like to turn off Flight Mode?"  Uh, yeah.  That means the phone portion of the thing was off.  It seems to automatically go into flight mode when the battery gets very low.  I had four voice mails.  Two of them were from the recruiter working the UMB job lead.  I called him back and it turns out that someone else came in at a lower rate and snagged the job.  I was too late to wheel and deal on the hourly rate.  I guess it wasn't meant to be.

The other two calls were a salesperson asking for friend referrals and the neighbor asking to borrow the lawnmower.

I touched base with Nicole, who has broken up with her boyfriend this morning, which may affect her decision to want to live on this side of town.  Alrighty.  That's okay, because there's a queue of people interested.

I'm just going to keep working my job leads until I land something decent, and keep working on my rentals until I'm back to positive cashflow again.

Roommate search

It is Africa hot.  I'm sure that I have sweated off a pound today.  I boxed up all of the stuff my former roommate left in my basement.  I was always impressed by his vocabulary.  I knew he read a book a day.  I think I found them all.  On each shelf, when I removed one row of books, there were two rows behind that.  I boxed up over 200 paperbacks, and a couple dozen hardbacks.  Some of them, I'd like to read.  He left some sci-fi that looks pretty good.  He left a lot of power tools.  I found lots of cordless Ryobi stuff, but a DeWalt charger. . . so none of it does me any good.  I found his Army discharge papers and some court rulings against him for back child support.  I perused his photos, and got a glimpse into his past and realized I lived with him on and off for over a year and never really got to know him.  He left two very large pieces of furniture that I suppose I'll list on craigslist or something.  Does anyone need a very nice, large, wooden, executive desk and credenza? 

I'm in a quandry about how far to go with improvements.  If I fix the shower, replace the carpet, and slather on a coat of paint, it will be very liveable again.  If I take down the wood paneling and put up some drywall, in addition to redoing the floors and painting, I can up the rent somewhat and recoup the cost in a few months.  My ad on is getting massive response.  If I put in a stove and some minimal kitchen cabinets, it will be a self-sufficient apartment space.  I can up the rent even more and probably recoup the costs in the same amount of time.  The idea for now is just to get someone neat in there who pays me money reliably and regularly. . . and I think I've found her.  Her name is Nicole.  She's coming over for barbecue on Friday.  I hope we can strike a deal.  Being the experienced landlord, I'm making sure everyone's key responsibilities will be in writing.  Landlord keeps the utilities on and repairs made, and Tenant pays the rent on time.  Woot!

On the job search front, I was blindsided by a sudden phone interview which the recruiter scheduled with almost no notice after I sent him a modified resume which emphasizes my Perl experience.  Once on the phone, the recruiter introduced me to the guys doing the technical screening in the web/applications development department at UMB Bank, of all places.  Lucky for me, I have friends who work there, so I proceeded to drop names.  I was informed 30 minutes after the interview via IM from said friends that I was in the top two.  I haven't programmed full time since 1995.  I will have to really hit the books to get my (non-existent) Java and .NET skills up to par.  I think I have the *nix, mod_perl, and SQL under control, which was what they were looking for.  I wouldn't mind a medium to low stress coding spot for a while.  This will pay the bills while I work on my network certs, too.  I might rediscover my enjoyment of programming.  I have a friggin' degree in it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Certs isn't just candy

I passed the CCNA exam with only a couple of hours of refresher reading and practice exams.  Now, I'm reading some dry network material into the wee hours in hopes of soaking in enough jargon and theory to pass more certification exams.  I'm tired of explaining to recruiters that I let all my professional certifications expire whilst holding the same job for seven years.  I mean, if you have a steady job, you don't need 'em. . . until you don't have a steady job.  Then you apparently have to have them or you just don't get called back very often.  I'm taking donations at this point.  These tests are pricey.  The same ironic theme of finally having the time to do something, but no money to do it keeps recurring.  I almost prefer it to the opposite problem.  Anyone wanna sponsor my trip to CCIE boot camp?  I'll make your money back in the first year, easily.  The average CCIE makes $104,000 annual salary.

If I'm up this late, I usually open a window and let some cool air in.  Ha!  It's the middle of the night and it's still almost 90 degrees outside.  It's gonna be a scorcher tomorrow.  That's okay.  I have plenty of reading to do.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hot Hot Hot

The grass is cut. I had a nice lunch with my brother and nephew. The bills are organized, paid, and otherwise prioritized. I got to spend some time laying around on the deck sweating like a pig in the sun. I spoke to a couple of recruiters and sent a few resumes. I got the chest and bicep workout done and ate dinner. It was a very productive day. It was a very hot day. My thermometer said 103 at one point. I know it felt that hot. I drank over a gallon of water and I'm sweaty right now. If it's this hot tomorrow, I'm going to the pool. Despite the heat, it was a good day. I feel like I should go to bed now so nothing can ruin it.

I noticed that the FCC approved the sale of Adelphia to Time Warner Cable and Comc
ast this evening.  "Time Warner will get customers in Los Angeles, Dallas and other cities from Comcast in exchange for customers in Memphis and Minneapolis, among others." Is Kansas City "among others"?  I guess we'll know more when the deal closes on July 31.  I also noticed that Time Warner has layoffs slated for August 2.  They're going to reduce AOL to a free web service.  I hope that has a positive influence on the stock price, because I have to exercise my TWX options by August 8.  The recent price slide is making me tense.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Job search

Well, I have extended my job search to include short term contracts outside the area.  I'm not sure if it would be considered slumming to take a contract that's 100% travel for four months upgrading networks in 187 retail stores.  I think I'm up for it.  I quoted $50 an hour.  I hope they bite.  I think it would be quite an adventure.  I could rack up some frequent flyer miles, at least.  I think after about the 50th store, I might get tired of it, but there are parts of this country I have not seen and this seems like a great time to do it.

There's a $40 an hour gig in St. Louis with AT&T which looks promising.  They like me, but they would want me to move.  I wouldn't mind it if I could work four tens and come back to KC for the long weekends until the contract is over.  There's apparently an on call rotation, which is only cool if they're paying overtime.  I'm not going there again.

The phattest job I've interviewed for so far, Network Controller III at Scott Air Force Base, pays twice what I've ever made and they really like me so far.  I think the only way I could get more money is if I got a Masters degree or started a consulting firm, and neither of those options is as immediate.

Yesterday, I did a pretty intense back and tricep workout.  My hands hurt the worst.  Gripping 85 pound dumbells for three pretty intense sets of bent over rows is killer on the grip.  I did tricep push downs with the entire stack of plates, probably 150 pounds.  I had to do 15 reps, because it wasn't fatiguing my muscles, except my hands.  My palms and forearms were already sore from gripping 100 pound dumbells for shrugs the day before.  I'm considering taking the day off, but might go by the gym and do some core work and calves or something.  Tomorrow is chest and bicep day.  Legs on Friday.  I'll reverse them if my grip is still sore tomorrow.  I will do 90 pound dumbell chest presses if I can find someone to spot.

I drink Cytomax as my pre-workout carb drink, and that stuff works!  I'm not sure if it's as good as Surge, but it's cheaper, and I can tell a difference.  I also like to take a Spike before a workout, but today I took Hot Rox, because I'm out of Spike.  That helps me keep the intensity up for the whole hour.  I'm currently out of both, so a trip to GNC is on the agenda.  I drink a protiein "shake" after my workout, usually about 50 grams of protein.  Then I usually eat a big meal of chicken and green veggies about 45 minutes later.  The only way to feel good enough to work out every day is to really eat a lot.  Right now I can afford to either hit the $6.99 all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet down the street or buy chicken thighs, eggs, greens, and tubs of whey protein.  I don't scrimp on the whey protein powder.  I get the Gladiator brand that Smoothie King sells, because it tastes good enough that I actually crave it and it mixes really easily and tends not to clump up in milk like the EAS or GNC stuff.

Since it's summer, I'm sweating a lot and leaning out.  I haven't lost or gained a single pound, but I'm getting cut.  I haven't been this lean for ten years, but I've also never been this heavy.  I've certainly never been this strong. The hard work is paying off.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I guess I didn't hear the starting gun that goes off on Monday mornings when the employed world goes from zero to sixty and the unemployed world staggers to the bathroom and decides a shower would be too ambitious, pees, and goes back to the bed.  I slept through the usual checking of email, eating of oatmeal, and applying for the new hot job postings which appeared. . . which I'm doing now.  Something about an overcast day just takes the wind out of my sails.  If you don't look at the clock, the light level indicates that sunrise hasn't happened yet and if the circadian clock inside is synchronized to a weekend sleep-in cycle, it's hard to get the motor running.  Sleep inertia.  The only consequence was that my day started much later and I had to prioritize some things.  I did make it to the gym for a good shoulder workout.  I did cook for myself . . . I boiled some fresh spinach with garlic and some beef fat, which tastes pretty good, and I grilled some chicken with some lemon and italian spices, which I also love. 

For some reason, despite having slept in, I fell asleep playing poker online.  I was down ten bucks anyway.  I usually make between 10 and 30 bucks an hour, but I kept getting checked into decent hands and then getting drawn out on by slightly better hands.  The worst leak in my game, which I have identified and plugged, is my laziness for calculating the odds for drawing hands versus my break even percentage.  If you do the math, it's more of an investment than a bet.  I stopped paying attention to the "zzzzzzz" comments in the chat window and actually taking the time to do the math.  I now practice doing the calculations for betting rounds after I've folded a hand, so they don't take as long when I'm in a hand.  I have most of the odds memorized now.  I know when I'm 48% to win a hand and when I'm 18% to win a hand.  If the pot is $100, I can call a $10 bet if I'm 18% to win, because 18% of the time I'll make 9 times the money.  That's a great investment, you just have to be mentally and financially prepared to lose it 4 out of 5 times.  If you are patient and smart, which I am both, you can wait for the right situations at a poker table and it is most certainly not gambling.  I would say it is less of a gamble than the stock market.  The best advice I got from Phil Gordon about playing selectively aggressive is to never just call pre-flop.  If your cards aren't good enough to raise, you should fold them.  I started raising five times the big blind when I don't want the people to my left to call and three times the big blind when I have a premium hand and want the loose players to call.  I raise ten times the big blind if my raises are not being respected.  That simple formula has put me in the top 10 chip stacks going into the final two tables a number of times.  My only problem is that these are $4 sit'n'go tourneys and I'm not making as much money as in the cash "no limit" games.  I've played in some larger cheap tournaments.  I know that I need to educate myself about how to play the final few tables in a big tournament.  Finishing 29th out of 10,000 feels good, but when you only make fifteen bucks for over three hours of work, it's kind of a downer.  I want those hundred and thousand dollar top prizes.  I'm learning this game fast.  I have a positive expectation when I play now.  That's a good feeling.  Am I a professional poker player yet?  If I pay off my mortgage, the answer will be yes.  So far, it's only paying for itself.