18 November 2006

Once more, into the breach

Tomorrow I fly up to Charlottesville, VA for an interview with VGT. It should be interesting, and I look forward to seeing the place and meeting the people.

While I'm there, I'll also drive down to Lynchburg and check out M/A-COM Wireless and the city itself.

The trip should be fun, although I wish I already had a MacBook to take with me. I will be taking a camera, though, so I should be able to post some pictures.

12 September 2006

Be careful what you wish for...

You'd think I'd have learned to be circumspect by now. You think I'd learn to do nothing and especially say nothing.

Maybe I was just subconsciously forcing a resolution on the matter after one too many meetings for one too many projects (although it was a weekend when I let it all out). Maybe it's just my scorpion genes.

Whatever: the result is that now I have a "timeline" set for my "transition" to the consulting world. I didn't quite pull a Dooce, but it comes pretty close. I didn't want things to end like this, but when you blather and post your name on something owned by google, it's no great surprise to have it be the first thing that turns up when someone searches on your name. Doh!

In other news, I did better on the Brainbench test than I thought:





Scored higher than 86% of previous examinees

Account Percentile

Scored higher than 94% of 6484 previous examinees within this account

Proficiency Level:

Advanced (Master)

Demonstrates a clear understanding of many advanced concepts within this topic.
Appears capable of mentoring others on most projects in this area.

Strong Areas

  • Grammar
  • Value and Reference Types
  • Methods

Weak Areas

  • Object-Oriented Programming
  • Delegates
  • Developing Data Consumers and Services
  • Properties, Indexers, and Fields

W00t! I'm kinda peeved about OOP being a weak area, though: this all comes down to a vaguely worded question on containment versus aggregation, I think. Still, unlike the ProveIt test at Kforce, the Brainbench test gives some useful feedback.

10 September 2006

Bits 'n pieces

Been too long since the last entry...

To start, here's a line from Julianne from yesterday:
"You were mad at me before I began yelling at you!"
We're sooo looking forward to her being 17 instead of 7... assuming we survive the intervening decade. Nathaniel's over his viral bronchitis turned strep throat, but Barbara is suffering through it right now.

Progress on our goals is mixed. We switched over to Verizon DSL and got rid of the digital cable, DVR, and RoadRunner service for a savings of about $90 a month - and untold savings on the mental health side - but some of us are still watching whatever broadcast channels we happen to get while stubbornly refusing to admit their addiction. Me, I'm doing fine without TV, and when the next season of Battlestar Galactica starts, I'll get by with episode downloads from iTunes. In the meantime, there's NetFlix and all those Kurosawa movies I still haven't seen.

Speaking of movies, I finally saw The Searchers.


So many people have lifted from it that it's hard to appreciate John Ford's visual language, and it comes across as only slightly less unenlightened than other westerns of that time.

I've never been much of a John Wayne fan - I've never been able to get past the jingoistic The Green Berets - but I have to admit that in this film, he was playing more of a villain than a hero. It was interesting to see Monument Valley, but it was the supposed Comanches speaking Navajo - they say "yah ta hey" at one point, a Navajo greeting, and many of the extras are very obviously Navajo - that eventually killed it for me. Also, the teasers for the movie included on the DVD were kinda creepy, with Gig Young ogling a very young and pony-tailed Natalie Wood.

On the work side, Pegasus celebrated their 15th anniversary Friday evening, which was kinda nice, with a saxaphone player, an open bar, and good catered hors d'oeuvre from Amici's. John Elton and Stephen Martucci showed up, and Jack gave a nice speech going over the history of the company. Unfortunately, Chris gave me management advice toward the end of the evening, which kinda killed it for me. I like Chris and Jack a great deal, but they're both reactive, which is a big reason I have one foot out the door.

I have a meeting with TEKsystems tomorrow morning, and hopefully I'll find I didn't botch the Brainbench C# test as badly as I think I did. It was much harder than Kforce's ProveIt test, which is good, but it was kind of a kick in the rear to remind me I have a way to go before I can call myself an expert. I'm still working on the MCPD certification track, and once we have some free funds, I'll start investing in some of the Microsoft online coursework.

I gotta say, though, I think I will never, ever get as jazzed about anything to do with Windows and Microsoft as I do with a Steve Jobs speech at WWDC. <sigh>

16 August 2006

Nothing but .NET

I went to the Tampa MSDN event yesterday with Paul and Dave at the Citrus Park Mall and watched Russ Fustino present brief overviews of the System.Net namespace in .NET 2.0, WCF, and ASP.NET Atlas. All pretty cool stuff, and I won a drawing for a Dino Esposito book on ASP.NET 2.0

Karma? ;-)

Actually, despite the suspenders a few guys were wearing, it was actually a bit of a thrill to be there because my decision to go into .NET consulting is feeling more and more to be the right thing to do. I have to study my butt off to build up some chops, especially in SQL and databases, but it feels good to have a sensible goal again. I'm even kinda jazzed about going for certification; it makes a lot more sense and is more relevant than what I was fighting with at USF.

15 August 2006

Someone else's summer road trip

One of the Albuquerque blogs I read - really, I'm not obsessed with Duke City! - is that of Mark Justice Hinton - well, one of 'em, he has a few - and he just published his journal and flickr stream of his summer trip through Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Cool stuff, off the beaten path.

13 August 2006

Thoughts from within

So I saw most of Ron Mann's Go Further this morning on the Sundance channel, and while the whole hemp-wearing, spirulina-eating, pot-smoking neohippy thing doesn't quite resonate with me, I like what Woody Harrelson is doing and I certainly share his concern.

To say that I'm worried about civilization crashing is to put it mildly...

Harrelson's poem (below) nicely captures my state of mind these days. More can be found here: VoiceYourself


I sometimes feel like an alien creature
for which there is no earthly explanation
Sure I have human form
walking erect and opposing digits,
but my mind is upside down.
I feel like a run-on sentence
in a punctuation crazy world.
and I see the world around me
like a mad collective dream.

An endless stream of people
move like ants from the freeway
cell phones, pc's, and digital displays
"In Money We Trust,"
we'll find happiness
the prevailing attitude;
like a genetically modified irradiated Big Mac
is somehow symbolic of food.

Morality is legislated
prisons over-populated
religion is incorporated
the profit-motive has permeated all activity
we pay our government to let us park on the street
And war is the biggest money-maker of all
we all know missile envy only comes from being small.

Politicians and prostitutes
are comfortable together
I wonder if they talk about the strange change in the weather.
This government was founded by, of, and for the people
but everybody feels it
like a giant open sore
they don't represent us anymore
And blaming the President for the country's woes
is like yelling at a puppet
for the way it sings
Who's the man behind the curtain pulling the strings?

A billion people sitting watching their TV
in the room that they call living
but as for me
I see living as loving
and since there is no loving room
I sit on the grass under a tree
dreaming of the way things used to be
Pre-Industrial Revolution
which of course is before the rivers and oceans, and skies were polluted

before Parkinson's, and mad cows
and all the convoluted cacophony of bad ideas
like skyscrapers, and tree paper, and earth rapers
like Monsanto and Dupont had their way
as they continue to today.

This was Pre-us
back when the buffalo roamed
and the Indian's home
was the forest, and God was nature
and heaven was here and now
Can you imagine clean water, food, and air
living in community with animals and people who care?

Do you dare to feel responsible for every dollar you lay down
are you going to make the rich man richer
or are you going to stand your ground
You say you want a revolution
a communal evolution
to be a part of the solution
maybe I'll be seeing you around.

12 August 2006

What would make me happy?

Barbara asked me this question yesterday when we were in the pool at the Brandon YMCA, watching Julianne and Nathaniel splash and play. At the moment, I was still thinking about work and the world and all the things there which make me unhappy, so I resolved now would be a good time to start a blog and work on recording my thoughts and experiences and accomplishments as I make progress to finding a way to be happy in this crazy human world.

The real world - nature, where you have weather and mountains and trees and insects and rivers and fungi and "red in tooth and claw" and all that - is where I'm truly happy, even in this ecological disaster known as Florida. I like being able to get away from people, I like dialing down the intellect and just experiencing being a part of things, I like removing self from the process.

Don't get me wrong: I love my family and friends and like very much to be around them, and I've even been happy walking the streets of New York and San Francisco and Chicago, so it's not as simple as not being in a city. Rather, I think it's connected to not buying into consumerism and capitalism and things that ultimately have little meaning to me.

I have little patience for lies and masquerades that keep me from the truth, so politics and religion are on the rubbish heap for me as well.

But let's get down to the concrete. My ideal day would start with waking just before dawn, starting the coffee, and going for a run/walk with our dog. When we walked out the front door of our house, I'd see mountains, close enough that I could reach them in an hour on my bicycle. When we get back from our outing, I'd wake Barbara and the kids, and after I showered and dressed for the day, we'd have breakfast. I'd ride with them to school - probably hanging back with Julianne while Nathaniel raced on ahead - and then I'd ride to the office, my 17" MacBook Pro in my backpack.

I'd spend the day working on something useful and enabling, taking a lunch break with everyone else to have a common meal, and then I'd head home for dinner with the family. We'd go to the Y or do something active outdoors for an hour or so, and then come home for an evening of homework, reading, music, etc.

The house would be small and modest with one car in the driveway (no garage), the climate would let us leave the windows open most of the time, and we'd have a vegetable garden out back, and maybe some chickens. We'd know most if not all of our neighbors, we'd have meals at each other's house on occasion, and we'd also get together for music nights and the like.

Okay, so this is a bit Norman Rockwell-ish, but I hate living in the suburbs and commuting into Tampa, and I generally dislike living in Florida in this unbroken sea of suburbs and gated communities and malls. In more objective terms, what would make me happy is
  • living west of the Mississippi (I'm so over the east coast and the South in particular)

  • living where I can see mountains and get to them quickly

  • living near agriculture (I'm a peaknik, what can I say?)

  • living near a university and healthcare

  • I'm addicted to Tonya Poole's blog, so living in Alamosa, CO in the San Luis Valley seems ideal (once I get the job thing figured out), but this is not the sole solution to this equation.

    It's a good start, though, as is this for an inaugural post. ;-)