Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Airline Disaster Part II
The plane was going down. Everyone knew. Those who had known what happens when planes crash with people inside of them, had all ready strapped on parachutes and jumped off. At some point I became distracted by the beutiful bright sunshine. It was much warmer outside than it had been, and a cool spring breeze poured over me as it teased my hair and deafened me while it roared by in all directions. My attention was then again on the plane. It was becoming ever smaller as it headed into the distance, shooting flames from all sides.

Had I been blind to what was going on? It seems in my careful documentation of what was to come, I myself had not strapped on a parachute and taken the jump. Yet, I was now outside of the plane, shooting towards the earth. It was obvious now. I had been pushed off of the plane. Perhaps I should have planned for this event. Still, as I plumeted toward the ground I did not fear death. I had been freed. Granted, I would soon crash into the ground never to be found or heard from again. But what would my outcome have been in the plane? I looked again at my surroundings. I had the whole world beneath me, and I was free.

With confidence, and a smile, I begain to strap on my parachute. I would not become a victim of the crash. The plane was now out of sight, and out of mind. Would I hear it crash in the distance? It no longer concerned me. Or did it? Smoe of the people on that plane weren't so bad. Perhaps they were victims of the pilot and each other. Would things have gone the same had they all been in the plane together? Focus! The earth was qucikly approaching me. My parachute on, I grabbed the cord.

I've never parachuted before. How soon until I pull the cord? Careful planning is in order. What will happen next?

Monday, March 28, 2005

It was tough dragging my ass out of bed this morning. I was in no hurry to start another week of working the day job, then running to the part time gig immediately after. The good news is that I am "sitting" as a student in another SuSE class this week. It's nice, because it gives me time to study and maybe even goof off a little bit when the instructor is covering stuff I know all too well (like right now!).

I had a lovely three day weekend for Easter, and man was I looking forward to it. I had the night off from Best Buy Friday, and so I called off my day job since I had only taught two days earlier in the week. I had a list of things that needed done and I think I got most of that accomplished. Foolishly, I left my laptop in lock up at my day job Thursday night. Then I remembered that my desktop PC back home hasn't worked in weeks. I either have a bad processor, or a bad motherboard. Reguardless, it's trash now. I hadn't used my little old buddy lately (my old iBook) so it was good to show her some attention and drag her around all weekend. Friday morning I got started on finishing the kitchen floor. I began tiling it a few weeks ago, and since then I have had a refrigerator in the middle of my kitchen, and torn up vinyl shit covering one third of the room. My wife has been kind not to bother me about it (I have been working a lot), but I know it had to be bugging her. So while it's still not done as of Monday morning, I just have some grouting to do and it's a done deal!

I had also planned on getting the Bug back on the road. It's been sitting in my driveway with an "electrical problem" for the past few weeks. Meanwhile, I have been keeping the Honda all day long and leaving my wife locked up at home. After screwing around an hour or so with a multi-meter I found that my semi-functional light in my car was probably the root of my dead battery problem. I unhooked it, and wrapped it with tape. Now ... I have to let it sit a day or so and try to start it again. Wish me luck.

I did a bit of studying over the weekend too. I got it in my head that I need the CISSP certification. I have tossed around the thought of getting it just for resume use and bragging rights. But as I get closer and closer to the door (quitting this job) I realise how important it will be to have it. Doing a search through a good search engine like (thank you Poe) I found all the jobs that I am interested in. But hell, do I really want to work for another corporate entity? Not really.

I think ideally, I want to work for myself. I have bumped into some instructors recently that I used to work with, and they make some seriously good money. It seems, I can make several hundred bucks a day doing the same thing I do now, which is teach. Sure, there are downsides like ... staying in work. And not having health insurance. Of course, with this new "plan" that my company is on, I am paying all my own medical bills anyway ... plus $150 a paycheck for the so called "insurance". It has been hailed as "insurance for people who don't use insurance". I think that's pretty accurate.

What would it take to be self employed? A few months, and a leap of faith I think. As of now, I am trying to catch up on my mortgage payments. Once that's been done, my income could be a bit more flexible. I would also need to make some arrangements with brokers, and training centers to set up some work relationships. I can't very well do that now, or I will certainly be sued for breaking my "non-compete" agreement. You know, I wouldn't want to bite the hand so to speak. For that matter, my employer may not want me to leave. If they don't want to release me, that non compete agreement will still be good. I think I may just be able to convince my employer that releasing me from my employment here and hiring me when they need to will benefit us all. My utilization here has been so low lately, that they are usually losing money on having me here.

So, I can see some of you are anxious to see my 21 day play. I think it may be more of a six month plan. Not because I am procrastinating, but because I am realistic. In the next 21 days I would like to have studied enough to go out and take the CISSP exam. I've heard of people that have worked six months to get ready for this test. That seems excessive to me. I think a month or so is plenty of time to absorb it all. I need to also convince my employer that they need to pay for it. That shouldn't be tough. They have talked about having me teach security related courses anyhow. This will be a good investment.

Real Life
So what's going on in real life? You know, the life that I have when I am not working. Yesterday my wife and I celebrated our 10 year aniversary. We didn't do much to celebrate. But then we are having a party in mid April. Originally, my mother was going to watch my kids so that my wife and I could go out Saturday night. That fell through. It didn't upset me, because my mother has been going through some medical issues. I would later learn that she called off the sitting job, to go to the zoo with my sister for some "easter bash" where you can watch gorillas eat hard boiled eggs. My wife was a little ticked off too.

I'm a little worried about my mom right now. She found "a lump". It wouldn't be the first false alarm that she has had with lumps. But this one is in her breast, and her doctor didn't seem to think it was a cyst. She is going Wedneday to get it checked out and I am a little nervous about the news I am going to get back.

Aside from my mother's scare, my wife is going through termoil with her mother who can't care for herself. She has rendered herself completely helpless with obesiety, and there aren't a lot of answers for "what to do with her". At the same time, her grandparents are having what I consider to be 'genuine' health problems.

We all got together for the usual easter celebration at my wifes grandparents house. It was a bit uncomfortable, and there were a few nasty words between the grandparents and my wifes mother. I can feel for the grandparents. They are in their upper seventies, and beginning to have some health issues and concerns of their own. Yet, they have to worry about what their daughter is doing with herself, who is in her fifties. She has become a victim of her own doing, and they know it. She plays a victim every chance she gets, and digs for attention. She definitely has some mental health issues, but the family has tried to help her for years and they are all sick of trying.

Aside from what my wife called "the grumps", it was a nice time. The kids got to do their easter egg hunt, and we took some nice pictures of everyone. I would like to share some with my Blog vistors, but as you can tell by the stripped down appearance of my blog ... I am 'between' web hosts as of now. My wifes grandparents also bought a gigantic aniversary cake, which will take the next six months to eat! It was very thoughtful.

That's all that's new in my world. I had better get my head back into this class now. Or back to the books if this class doesn't move forward sometime this century. I have quite a bit of reading to do.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Losing My Religion
Over the past few weeks, I have been deeply depressed with my job. Since I haven't been teaching, the only day I have come to my day job on time all week was Tuesday ... because we had a meeting and I would be missed. I was supposed to be in Best Buy Sunday morning for a two hour meeting there and I completely blew that off. After drinking the majority of a 5 liter mini-Coors Light keg the night before, I just wasn't in the mood to get up at 6:00AM and drive across town to learn how I can better sell service plans (and other retarded duties that have nothing to do with my work there). I found out last night that one of the Geek Squad guys showed up to the meeting late, and caught hell about it. There was talk about punishing me too, but it seems to have been forgotten now. I never heard a word about it.

I sat down for lunch Tuesday afternoon with an old friend, Matthew Curtin. Matt taught me some basic things about UNIX and C many, many years ago when we were both much younger. These days Matt runs a very interesting company titled Interhack ( As founder and CEO, Matt has built a company that sells security. And by "selling security", I mean that his team shows up to your front door and installs everything needed to secure your company. Also, being an expert in his field he is often called upon by government entities to tell them what they should be doing. Neat.

I long to work for a company like Interhack. It sounded like a YMCA for adult male hackers. As much as I wanted to come up and see his office, I didn't want to intrude and I had also run out of meter time. As I walked to my car, I found that my meter time had run out ... and I had a nice $20 parking violation to pay. Woops.

I later e-mailed Mr. Curtin explaining that I would love to come work for him if he could ever find a place for me. Knowing that I am completely unqualified for the job, I threw out a couple of words like "internship", and "cheap labor". Who knows. If nothing else, I would love to have lunch with him again. Next time I won't have to search for the place and I can bring more meter change.

Looking back, I think the timing of my meeting with Mr. Curtin was not accidental. I imagine if I were a religious person, I would wander into a church and talk to a priest through a screened booth. But, I have no faith in any religious entity. My lack of faith is in no way spiritual. I need a technological priest. Perhaps this is why I sought out Mr. Curtin. He had given me faith once in technology and I was counting on him to do it again. At the same time, I was looking for a way out of my two jobs. I am at the point in my career where I am ready to drop everything and walk away.

Aside from going to the eyedocter, having lunch with old friends, and avoiding my job, I have been preparing to teach a class next week. Last week I taught a beginner SuSE Linux course which was pretty tame - and lame. This next week I was slated to teach the "Advanced" SuSE Linux course. And it actually is advanced!. My experience with SuSE is slim to none, and learning this material for the sake of delivering it ... really stinks. While I have learned a ton, and studied insanely I don't know that I am ready to teach this class.

Halfway through the week I was told that a guy from Novell was free next week, and was coming to co-teach my class. As I attempted to get details about what was going on I found that no one has any idea of what is happening with this class. Today I finally was able to get a phone number for this guy and I gave him a ring. It seems he was planning on teaching the class. No help from me. I am overjoyed. Now, I can sit in the class like a student and see how he is going to teach it. I'm glad I forced myself to prepare to teach this class. If I knew that this guy was going to do the class, I probably would have been goofing off all week. Now, I can coast through the lessons and "play student". The next time I actually teach this class, it will be much easier, and the pressure will be off! I can look forward to the weekend. God Bless.

And so ... what AM I doing with my career? Other than updating my resume, and pouring over job sites I have made zero progress. I know I can't count on someone handing me a job. But the more I look for a job, the more discouraged I become. I seem to have the wrong collection of job skills right now. I need to stop, and refocus my studies (security, databases, etc). Perhaps I should be looking for a job that would have tuition benefits so that I can work on a college degree! Look! I'm planning something!

Allow me to take this moment, to thank the many random Best Buy customers who buy iPods and don't understand how to use them. Thanks to you all, my music collection is always growing. This week, I have been listening to some classic "The Who", and I will leave you with this ...

"But my dreams they aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be
I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That's never free"
- The Who [it rhymes - so it must be poetry! {inside joke}]

Thursday, March 03, 2005

My Happy Journal Entry
My wife and I went out to eat this past weekend with her aunt, uncle, cousins, and their husbands. The food was great, the wine was plentiful, and many great conversations were had. At some point during dinner, one my my wifes cousins brought up their late grandmothers journals. Aparently, Tess had filled quite a few journals in her lifetime always documenting her day. She said the journals were very repetitive, often just spoke of the weather, the dog, gardening, etc. But it seems every entry was a positive outlook. As if, she were her own source of inspiration. She spoke of how she admired such a quality. To always find something kind to say at the end of her day. Her cousin then went on to say "I've written some of the things I put in my journals, and they're all negative!". I couldn't say I disagreed. Looking back at some of the things I have written you would think I walked around miserable all the time.

It's strange how we use our journals to vent, isn't it? And so we concluded that we could all learn from Tess. Her positive outlook on life, in death, has had us all questioning the words we leave for others to stumble upon. What will they say about me when I am gone? Probably nothing nice. In fact, here I go abusing this journal once again ...

Where Has My Career Gone?
It must have been about 10:45PM when it occurred to me. I have hit an all time low in my carreer (if you can even call it that). Here I was driving home to my angry wife who had decided not to wait up for me. No wait, I need to take the scene back further ... say, 8:00PM. Like any other night, I was at the counter wearing my dirty blue shirt. Having been on the job since 5:20 or so, I had probably only speant 10 minutes or so working on computers. The entire time I had been on the job I was answering phones, checking returned items, sending vacuums to service, having customers yell at me about cell phones .. the usual. I was about at the end of my patience when the computer department manager came hopping up the desk.

The computer manager asks that I come back to the computer department and help a few customers. I was quite against the idea, which he was not happy with. I questioned why I should leave a full load of work (around 15 PC's waiting to be fixed) to go stand around the computer department. He said "my guys need help, just keep the customers busy for 7 minutes between sales!". I, am not a salesperson. I guess he wasn't aware. So I told him I was not a salesperson. That didn't seem to matter. "I know nothing about what we're selling, I don't think its a good idea", said I. "You can read the tags, can't you?" he asked. By this time, my disobedient nature had set him off. His eyes were popping out of his head, and his nostrils flaired a little. "So you want me to read the tags to customers? I don't think thats a good idea". To make a long argument short, I finally agreed to help out. My blood pressure was much higher than normal today, and I'm sure it was starting to show.

As I waltzed in and out of the aisles of the computer department, there wasn's a single person to help. I approached a couple of asian gentlemen, who didn't really want any assistance and hurried away when they saw me coming. I was done. I headed back to my bench to prepare for a new set of idiotic chores that don't involve actual PC repair. "Thanks!", he says, "was that so bad?". I knew it wouldn't end there. I knew I had angered the manager of my corner of Blue-Shirt-Topia.

About the time my co-worker and I were scheduled to leave, the angry sexually frustrated manager returned. He had decided that this would be the night that we were to clean the floors! Not the usual sweeping. We would MOP tonight! It seemed to be strange timing. Since I had been employed, the floors had never been mopped. And when I say "never", I'm talking several years. I gladly headed to the warehouse, filled a bucket, and got right to work. Playing mind games has never really bothered me, and this would certainly not be the night that I had a nervous mental brakedown. I decided that this would be the cleanest floor this store has ever seen.

Over the period of the next hour and a half, I slowly moved items long, restacking all of the customer repair items, pulling out buckets of cables, and removing shelves. Having done half of the area, I returned to the warehouse and refilled my bucket with clean water to do the other half. I felt a bit bad for my cohort, who was stranded with me. He probably could have left. It seemed strange that he had to hang around and watch me mop a floor. But then, if he went home, it would seem as if I were being punished in some silly fit of hostility from the manager. This was clearly not the case! This floor simply had to be cleaned, and it had to be tonight!

After finishing the floor, and admiring our good work, we headed into the parking lot. That floor mopping had cost the department about $28 of labor expenses in all. I think we made it worth their dollar. As I climbed into my car I remembered that I had needed a jump to get my car started earlier and so I hollared to my cohort to wait around and make sure I got away okay. Thankfully, I re-hooked my battery and started up no problem.

As I drove home this evening, I took a good long hard look at this mess I have put myself into. Every day, I go to work to a job that I will never advance in. Making pay that will never increase. When I am done there, I slap on a blue shirt so that my coworkers can make fun of me, and then head out to my second job where I choke down sinus pills and aspirin to make it through a night. I think that brings me to mopping floors.

Who am I doing this for? It's not for my family. They don't see me. I'm a stranger to my children, and my wife has practically given up on spending time with me. I am a run down, miserable, mess. A heart attack waiting to happen. An involuntary muscle in a blue shirt. I have abandoned all sense of pride, and my esteem disappeared a long time ago. This cycle has got to end.

It's time to find a new job. One job. One that I enjoy, and one where I only work 8 hours a day and then come home. I need to catch up with my family. I need to take time out and do something fun. I need to get a hold of my life.