29 January 2007

Ottmar in Tibet

Lovely video slideshow from Ottmar Liebert of his trip to Tibet.

28 January 2007

Carter at Brandeis

I'm watching President Carter's speech/Q&A session at Brandeis on C-SPAN; it'll be followed by <sigh> Alan Dershowitz's rebuttal, which I'll probably skip. Carter's amazing: he's done more good in the world and shown more courage and leadership since his presidency than Shrub and his daddy - and the Gipper, for that matter - did in their entire lives. Sadly, I don't see anyone in the running for 2008 who has that potential, although Bill Richardson is kinda interesting: NewMexiKen gives some good reasons why. I had hopes for McCain until he began courting Bush's wingnut Christian fundamentalist base, and I have no real interest in Clinton or Edwards. Maybe this time I'll just write in a vote for Edward Abbey instead of wasting a vote on Ralph Nader. ;-)

27 January 2007

Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time

Time to get back in the saddle.

Pegasus Imaging is history and ended not with a bang but with a whimper. After putting in four years of dedicated service, not once - not once! - did they either try to get me to stay or (more importantly) ask what went wrong. Being part of the "management team" - sort of; I was kept away from staff meetings - was kinda like seeing how laws or sausage are made: you can no longer make excuses for people after you start to realize how inept and arrogant they are. The straw, though, came when I wanted to do a performance review for my sole employee and my boss decided to sit on it and hope she'd leave. Of course, when she did leave - without notice, heh; she was smart enough to use up her vacation before leaving, unlike me - she became another traitor/scapegoat, as I'm sure I now am. Whatever... I wish them well, and the only thing I regret is losing respect for the people who run the place.

Oh, and I also regret being screwed out of 9 days of vacation. Not that I'm bitter...

So, I'm now in Lynchburg, VA working at Tyco Electronics on management software for private land mobile radio networks. The work is great - all C#, .NET 2.0/3.0, custom user controls, web services, integration with SharePoint, etc., all good stuff - the people are very good, they have a good process and toolset, and the work environment is good, so I'm quite happy with work.

Lynchburg, though... I like the countryside, the rolling hills and these little things they call mountains here, and I can be on the AT or the Blue Ridge Parkway in 30 minutes. The weather is mild and the cost of living is good: you can get a pretty nice house for $200K, while they're still $275K on up back in Valrico. The schools are decent, and the people are friendly enough, but you have to go quite a ways to get away from the podunk parts: Barbara was alarmed to see a girl at a register counting on her fingers to calculate change. And then there is the religious conservatism...

I try really hard to overlook the presence and influence of Jerry Falwell and Tim Lahaye and their ilk. I try not to start looking for bolts of lightning whenever I drive by Liberty University. I try not to freak when someone tells me they homeschool their kids and I eventually come to understand it's not to provide a better education but rather an alternate, sanitized Christian education, one as free of secular humanist influences as possible. I'm glad I was careful about the stickers I put on my car; this one would not go over well. They're not bad people - well, Falwell and Lahaye are - but they're not our kind of people, and this is not our kind of town. Charlottesville was an option, possibly working at VGT, but the cost of living there is as ridiculous as it is in Valrico, and at least in Valrico we can have a pool and use it most of the year.

So, when this contract ends, it's back in the job pool for me. In my usual conflicted style, I'm working my way through MCPD certification while simultaneously spending evenings poring over Cocoa books and working on a plan to start living the life. For the .NET stuff, though, I'm definitely staying in contracting: no more being an "exempt" employee.

In totally unrelated news, the next G3 tour will be Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, and - yay!- Paul Gilbert. I've really gotten into Gilbert the last month or so, and he's funny as hell and quite unassuming (unlike that Malmsteen blowhard). Check out his website; he does it himself. It'll be a shame not to see Steve Vai, but Barbara and I saw him at the Tampa Theater a couple of years ago and it was magnificent. Well, I dug on Steve and she dug on Eric Sardinas, but let's not go into that right now... ;-)

Paul Gilbert kinda breaks the pattern for American guitar gods being from Long Island (Vai, Satriani, and Petrucci), by the way. Look up some videos on Youtube; the guy's a riot.