Birthday Pictures

Just to thoroughly confuse the kids, we held a surprise birthday party for the twins on Sunday. Not only was this not their actual birthday, they didn’t even know what a party involved. By far, the biggest hit of the day were the balloons that Courtney brought. Reece nearly, actually did, fall over with excitement. Lorelai was also quite thrilled.

We had all the grandparents here, as well as their Aunt Katy and Courtney of course. Here are some pictures of the occassion. Note that both Mommy and Daddy were quite busy (and taking videos) so there aren’t many still shots, though other may have some they may wish to provide us with.





Overwhelmed

Well, I’m past the one week mark in my new job, and I am officially overwhelmed. There’s a lot to take in, and everything seems so new to me. I can’t believe how stale my professional skills have become over the past few years. I don’t even know where to begin. It’s incredible how much I have to pack into my brain every day, just to try to get up to speed, and I’m not even talking about what I need to know about the customer’s systems that I need to design and build. If you thought I wasn’t updating my blog enough over the past few months, you will probably be disappointed with the next couple of months. I’m going into lock down mode. ‘Back to school’ as we are calling it around here.

The people at my new job are all incredibly smart and the place just buzzes with energy. Everyone is a true beliver in what they are doing and that we can get the job done. There is very little of the cynicism or defeatism that infested my last job. Here, if you can’t do the work, you won’t be there long. It’s really driving me to educate myself and get ahead of the curve.

The commute makes for a long day. I get up at 5:00AM to be at the train by 5:40 to get a good parking spot. The train leaves at 6:02, and arrives in Seattle at 6:50. From there it’s up the stairs, across the street, around the corner and down the stairs to the bus tunnel. Hop on the closest bus, take it 3 stops. Off the bus, up 3 escalators, walk about 5 blocks (jay walk when you can or you’ll be there forever), up four flights of stairs, and you’re there. Normal time, about 7:05 AM.

I leave the office between 3:50 and 3:55 and reverse the route to get to the train which leaves at 4:20, and I arrive at home around 5:15PM. The total time in transit is about 3 hours a day, which is about double what it used to take me to get to my last job, but so far I’ve read 2 books and 2 magazines (1 technical book, 2 technical mags and one novel). I consider that time well spent.

I do really miss the hour and a half to two hours a day I was spending with the kids in the afternoon, and by Friday last week, I was ready for the weekend, which was again far too full for our liking. But I try to make the evening time and the time on the weekend quality time as much as possible. We did put a brighter nightlight in their room so I can see them before I leave in the morning, and I turned one of our leftover Christmas cards into a bookmark. It’s not a substitute, but it helps.

Anyway, it’s far more likely that my other blog (devscape.blogspot.com) will see more action in the coming weeks than this one will, as I document some of the techincal stuff I am learning. If you are really interested in design patterns, LINQ, SQL Server 2005, ASP.NET 3.5, Sharepoint, CSLA, EntityFrameworks, etc, please feel free to stop by and comment, or give me crap for not posting there either.

Otherwise, I’ll try to post here when I can, and when I have the energy.

Getting Organized

Maybe its that I’m switching jobs and I feel the need to get some projects done at home before my life changes. Or maybe its the middle of winter and there’s nothing on TV due to the writers strike. Maybe I’m going through a mid-life crisis. Or maybe I’m just procrastinating from getting started writing that story or novel. Whatever the cause, the result is I’ve been getting organized and checking some things off my to do list.

On Monday, I cleaned out the garage.

Yesterday, I took my entire collection of photo negatives in to a camera store to get digitized onto CD’s

I finally arranged to get flood insurance for the house.

I’ve been researching Life Insurance

I’ve been working on my will (some day I’ll get Lisa to do hers too)

And I’ve gone through an old book of photos of my early childhood years that my mom gave me a few years ago, and digitized them. You can see the results on our flickr site or by clicking here.

Next is the process of making DVDs of all the videos we taken of the kids over the past year. Actually, I was all caught up a few weeks ago and had the video ready to burn to DVD when my Windows Vista crapped out on me and corrupted my compiled movie. I lost all my work, about 16 hours. Anyway, Vista is a piece of crap operating system, and had I not just bought a new computer last summer, I would be buying a Mac right now, despite the fact that I develop Windows software for a living.

Some New Pictures





Maybe its just me, but I’ve noticed a disturbing drop in customer service skills lately. I’m pretty sure that this is the effect of people not caring about their jobs because for most people, their jobs are just a way to pay their zooming credit card bill. But I also believe that the companies they work for are to blame just as equally. The scripted upsell, the making a customer who wants to cancel their service wait for ungodly long wait times and to transfer them a bazillion times before they are allowed to actuallt cancel their service in the hope that they will just hang up and keep paying, and the general lack of loyalty to their employees and long standing customers has led to a mess in the arena of customer service.

But the power of the internet gives me the ability to warn my friends in the hope that they will be able to avoid what I have been through. But I will also give out kudos where it is due. We’ll call this the first annual Cranium Outpost Kudos and Slugs awards (slugs because of a nasty incident we had here last summer)

Grand Prize Slug Award goes to

Cingular Wireless – (now AT&T Wireless). Just a horrible customer service experience from beginning to end. Never was I so glad when the contract came to an end

1st Runner Up Slug Award goes to
Salesguy Peter at La-Z-y Boy Gallery in Tukwilla. This guy barely let me into the door of the store before he was all over me trying sell me a couch, before I even had a chance to look at what they had. I got rid of him for 30 seconds while he ran to get flyers, then he physically directed me towards one of their displays by pushing me. Then when I started for the door, he actually got in between me and the door to stop me, and put his hand on my arm. Now he was recently in from the Ukraine, and I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that personal space is a little different there, but had he not removed his hand from me pretty quick, I might have… well I faked him out with a juke move towards a chince covered ottoman and made a dash for the door.

2nd Runner Up Slug Award goes to
DirecTV for the old bait and switch. Two years ago we bought a DirecTV HD system with the promise that more HD Channels were being added all the time. After two years, we had 7, and recently they cut two of those out and said that those were only supplied as a sample of what else we could get and that program had expired, after 2 years. And yes, we had been paying full price for the HD package for 2 years, but it turned out that our receiver (which we own), was out of date, and for just $300 more we could upgrade to the latest equipment, and get the oher 30+ channels we had been paying for for the last year or so but never got. After a lot of talking, they offered to reduce the price down to $200. At which point I told them just to cancel my HD service. I didn’t need it. At that point (half an hour into my 3rd call), the line went dead (not on my side). Anyway, we’re quite happy with our regular TV, which I barely watch anymore anyway.

Now for some Kudos

Grand Prize Kudos Award goes to

The local Starbucks. Anyone who has been around us the last year knows how much our weekend trips to Starbucks meant to us, and how nice those baristas and the manager were to us. We did spend a small fortune there over the last year, but that was our refuge, our little trip out of the house. Our movies, our dining out, our trips to Hawaii. That was our entertainment for the past year.

1st Runner Up goes to
The guy at Circuit City last Sunday, on one of the busiest days of the year, who took about 15 minutes of his time to talk to me about televisons and home theatre systems and 1080i vs 1080P vs 720P vs standard definition. And this was after I told him that I was probably not going to buy anything that day.

2nd Runner Up goes to
I’ll just give this one out to all the great waiters and waitresses we’ve had over the past year or so. Not that we’ve gotten to go out a lot, but I really respect the people who serve the food and make good, honest recommednations of what to eat and give you that look when they don’t think something is up to par. I can’t say every place has these people, but there were some, and I thank you!

A few quick video shorts

Lorelai is destined to be a hunter – tracker.

Reece and Lorelai have invented a new language. We think it’s called screamish.

The twins have caused some trouble lately. And even though we have them on tape, The claim they are innocent. Framed even.

News and Notes

I know, it’s unusual that I post during the day, and no, there is nothing wrong. It’s just that I’m at work, there is no one else here, and since I’ve been such good employee for so long that I don’t have a whole lot of last minute emergencies that just must get done before I leave two weeks from today. I’m actually contemplating digging in to a couple of new projects I hadn’t started yet, but they might take longer to get done than what I have time for, and that would just bother me for years. So instead, I blog, and I read.

The kids are both doing really well. They turn 11 months old tomorrow, and they are really getting around. I took some good videos last night I should be be to post tomorrow. Reece is running around the house, and doesn’t fall nearly as often as he use to. We’ve even let him run around outside , though we’re pretty careful around curbs and things. I’m not sure his depth perception is quite there yet, and curbs may be an issue for the foreseeable future. He does have a thing for chasing the neighborhood cats, and they’ve already learned to be afraid. Be very afraid.

Lorelai is standing and cruising (walking holding on to things), but not yet independently walking. She crawls at high speed and squawks like a truck backing up as she does so to let everyone know ‘I am on the move!’

We’ve spent the last couple of nights trying to finish up putting a large collage of pictures into a frame that we bought about 6 months ago. Choosing your favorite pictures of your kids is really hard. What’s worse is printing a picture of your kids, then finding out it doesn’t fit properly into the frame, or something else was wrong with that print. Then what do you do? Destroy a picture of you child? Just throw it in the trash? Seems… wrong.

We had made up Christmas pictures to send out to everyone but we got started on it late, and then found out that they spelled my name wrong on the card. My first name. Really? Yes, really. So we had to get them reprinted. So expect your ‘Happy Holidays card’ to arrive just in time for Martin Luther King day.

Of course, I’ve been dealing with the fallout from resigning at work. Most people here are happy for me, or a little jealous. They assume that since I’m becoming a consultant, I’ll be making a ton more money. That’s not really true when you take into account some of the benefits I am losing because I am going to a smaller company that just doesn’t have things like 401K matching and Employee Illness Leave. This wasn’t really about the money. It was about the opportunity to expand my skill set and to move on to the next step of my career. 8 1/2 years in one spot in the IT industry these days is a very long time. Most jobs are 5 years or less these days. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the stability, but it has its price. You get comfortable. You stop training. You stop paying attention to what is going on in industry. Next thing you know, you’re so far behind that you can’t get caught up without taking a year off and going back to school and hoping you can get a job after that. There’s no doubt that this a risk, but life without a little risk gets pretty dull after a while.

Lisa and I have been shopping for furniture for our living room and trying to decide what to do with our TV / stereo, etc. We think the TV is too big for our space, now that we have kids, so we may sell it and downsize a bit. If you know anyone who wants to buy a 2 year old Hitachi 50″ Widescreen LCD Projection TV, let me know. Buying furniture when you have two young kids in the house may seem a little ridiculous, but mostly we’re buying it to allow us to put things into places they can’t get to, so we’re justifying the expense that way. We actually took them shopping on Sunday and they did pretty well. Lorelai always does better when she is on someone’s shoulders, though she tends to pull hair and chew on your head.

Our plans for this weekend include more furniture shopping (and hopefully furniture buying if we can find something we like), maybe a little yard cleanup if the weather isn’t too bad, and just some relaxing time laying on the couch reading a bookplaying with the kids.

All things must end

Today was a pretty big day for me. I turned in my resignation to the company I had worked for for the past 8.5 years. I’ve accepted a new position as a consultant in downtown Seattle at a small company, and I start January 7th.

It’s very hard leaving something you’ve been doing for so long. Jumping outside your safety zone is nerve racking and scary Hopefully everything works out okay, and I enjoy my new job and it doesn’t negatively affect my home life too much. Time will tell.

One of the really good things about my new job (at least it seems good at the moment), is that I will be able to take the train to work each day, about 40 minutes each way, instead of driving 40 minutes each way. I’ll count this as down time in my day, where I can read or study or write or sleep. Hopefully I’ll spend the time wisely, and use it to rest to be more awake and present with the kids at night.

I’m looking forward to starting the new job, but at the same time, I will miss some of the old one, mainly the people I have known for so long. It’s also because of this job (which brought me to Seattle from Colorado), that I went to Italy where I bought a T-Shirt. I was wearing that TShirt when I met my wife for the first time, and we talked about Italy for hours while dancing at a country bar. So, overall, this job has had benefits far beyond the monetary kind.

Anyway, my last day at my old job is January 4th. Just 12 more working days. Time is already flying by.

Serious Danger!

For the last few weeks, I have been going to Occupational Therapy to try to resolve an issue with my right thumb. No big deal, but today, while I was in therapy, a man came into the therapy clinic with his 21 year old daughter, who was confined to a wheel chair, and looked to be suffering from cerebral palsy. At least that was my assumption. But there was something different about her. Her eyes were bright, she was quite attractive, and seemed to be very quiet yet expressive, very intelligent. Yet she was unable to move her arms or legs, hold her head up on her own, or redirect her eyes. She was only able to talk at a whisper.

Anyway, after a few minutes the therapists began to recount her trials and tribulations. It turns out that she had only been in this condition for about 11 months. Back in January, she had taken some Ambien CR to help her sleep. This is over the counter medicine you can buy without a prescription, and it nearly killed her, and has left her wheelchair bound for probably the rest of her life. I didn’t hear her whole story, but at one point, her parents were told to prepare for the worst. She was in the ICU, and they were told to say goodbye.

After her father told the story, she made it very clear who was to blame.

“Ambien. Horrible drug.” she said.

I’m not a big believer in frivolous lawsuits, but this is definitely one of those times where I’d be lawyering up.

Our flickr site

Okay, I’ve been remiss in posting this, but here is our flickr site. Permanent link on the side bar

Tale of 2

%d bloggers like this: