Archive for the ‘Violating Rule #12’ Category

I know…

Sunday, September 4th, 2005

I know that lineup image has thoroughly trashed my layout. I promise I’ll fix it when I get to a computer with Photoshop on it. It’s OK, I don’t think either of my readers really cares, but I just thought I’d let you know that I am actually a fairly conscientous blogger and I’m aware when I make stuff look like crap.

On the other hand, I have been working about 15 hour days all week, including this weekend and continuing into tomorrow in order to support Major Home and Auto Insurance Provider’s call routing so that those many thousands of people insured with us in the impacted areas can get through to a representative to file their claim and get a check so that they can eat and sleep. A Major Long-Distance Carrier whose network my company uses had some major issues receiving hand-off from the local phone company down there and that was causing all kinds of headaches. It’s all ok now though thanks to the tireless efforts of our voice support team. It’s funny, but until I started working in telecom, I never even considered how much effort went into ensuring that the phones work. You never realize just how important that simple little device is. And it is simple. Two wires, a microphone, a speaker and a hook switch have altered the very structure of communication amongst humans. Something that hadn’t happen prior to that in thousands of years. While writing and telegraphy were gigantic milestones, it took centuries for their effects to be felt by the average person. In the hundred or so years since the telephone was invented, Human Life has become unrecognizable from someone living in 1880.

I feel grateful that I can help my company help the people it does. I don’t mind the hours. I don’t mind the work. I just want to help. This is all I have.

I will be donating a little over $100 (all of my rainy day pocket change savings from the last 6 years), 2 flats of baby food and another $10 in non-perishables to the effort through my employer. They have promised to match dollar-for-dollar all of the cash donated through them. Please check with your employer and see if you can do the same.


Friday, July 29th, 2005

With the submission of this post and the closing of this laptop, I will officially begin my long overdue, well-deserved, and desperately needed two weeks of vacation (which includes a trip to the local Geek Mecca – the WizardWorld Comic Convention in Rosemont, IL and a decidedly non-geeky trip to watch Da Bears training camp on my birthday).

Cards and presents can be left at the doorstep and the butler will collect them while I am away.

We have a busy week schedule the first week, but not much planned the second week. Therefore, blogging may pick up upon my return. At the very least ComicCon pictures will be shown. Til then, Ta Ta!

Life imitates Satire

Monday, June 13th, 2005

I love the Urban Legends Reference Pages. I get the RSS feed. I surf it when I’m bored. I love being able to recognize those doofy celebrity story emails and dubious claims in forwards. It makes me feel smart. (Really, I’m usurping someone else’s hard work I guess, but there’s value in knowing which sources can be counted on as definitive and trusted).

I read on Drudge today that Steve Jobs tells Stanford grads that dropping out was the best thing that ever happened to him. My snopes sense began tingling so I did a snopes search on “Steve Jobs drop-out” and hit this old SatireWire piece that had been snopesed about Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, telling graduates that they ought to “drop out and start-up.”

Memorable quotes include:

“Please, take a ood look around you. Look at the classmate on your left. Look at the classmate on your right. Now, consider this: five years from now, 10 years from now, even 30 years from now, odds are the person on your left is going to be a loser. The person on your right, meanwhile, will also be a loser. And you, in the middle? What can you expect? Loser. Loserhood. Loser Cum Laude. “

“Hmm . . . you’re very upset. That’s understandable. So let me stroke your egos for a moment by pointing out, quite sincerely, that your diplomas were not attained in vain. Most of you, I imagine, have spent four to five years here, and in many ways what you’ve learned and endured will serve you well in the years ahead. You’ve established good work habits. You’ve established a network of people that will help you down the road. And you’ve established what will be lifelong relationships with the word ‘therapy.’ All that of is good. For in truth, you will need that network. You will need those strong work habits. You will need that therapy.

You will need them because you didn’t drop out, and so you will never be among the richest people in the world. Oh sure, you may, perhaps, work your way up to No. 10 or No. 11, like Steve Ballmer. But then, I don’t have to tell you who he really works for, do I? And for the record, he dropped out of grad school. Bit of a late bloomer.

Finally, I realize that many of you, and hopefully by now most of you, are wondering, ‘Is there anything I can do? Is there any hope for me at all?’ Actually, no. It’s too late. You’ve absorbed too much, think you know too much. You’re not 19 anymore. You have a built-in cap, and I’m not referring to the mortar boards on your heads.”

Now, the Ellison stuff is taken at a mean-spirited laugh and Job’s speech (link is to Stanford’s summary article, I couldn’t find the text) reads as inspirational, telling students to take advantage of rare opportunities presented by unexpected conditions.

I have tried to use the same approach to my own life. I didn’t grow up with many advantages. I really only had a loving family (despite some rocky times after my mom died) and my above-average intelligence. It took time for me to appreciate my family, and I all but wasted my intelligence skating through classes which were too easy and doing just enough to pass classes that were challenging. I thoroughly regret that now. However, I went to college and earned most of a Journalism degree, mostly because I worked at the Western Courier, the school newspaper, and I worked very hard at that. However, I slacked where possible in classes. After a very disheartening situation at the newspaper, I quit at the end of my sophomore year and really coasted through the next semester. By the end of that semester, even if I could have afforded to go back in the Spring (I couldn’t), I don’t think they would have let me back in academically. I worked for my Dad’s company (as I had been doing on breaks) for a little while until I was able to snag an interview with a major retail company’s home improvement back office using a high school friend as a contact. I started at $8.06 an hour doing clerical compliance filing and by the time I left three years later, I was making $33,600 as a Technical Support Specialist. In that time, I had also taken a second job, leveraging the same contact for an interview, switching job 1 to part-time evening work. I worked real hard at both jobs, but hated job 2 and when, 9 months after starting Job 2, a technical position I wasn’t qualified for opened up, I leapt at it. I beat out my same friend for the position, but neither of us was as qualified as they needed (and they weren’t going to find someone who was for the price they were willing to pay); however, he left completely and I never did, so I won.

After about 15 months in that job, I had become a jack of all trades (IT), but a master of none, and frankly I was getting kind of burnt out on desktop/laptop support, especially since I had no formal training, was beginning to reach the limit of my knowledge and couldn’t get any training from the company. I had a limited amount of telecom knowledge from the job, enjoyed that aspect the most and decided to find a new job in that field, if able, and learn all I could.

I found a job contracting for a major personal telephone service provider and starting absorbing information from everywhere I could. After four months there, I was “released from my contract” because they valued punctuality over performance. I worked hard there, but, due to a hairy commute and my natural late-starterness, I couldn’t seem to comply with the Employee Handbook’s Zero Tolerance policy for tardiness. That’s the way the world works.

I was released in November, two weeks before Audrey was born, and my dear wife, Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name), became our sole breadwinner, even though she had intended on quitting to become a stay-at-home Mom. Instead, I became a stay-at-home Dad while I was looking for work. I wouldn’t trade one minute of those three months for my life. They were precious and irreplacable. It made it more difficult to return to work after Madelyn was born, that’s for sure.

At any rate, I found a new job, contracting in a new telecom group at a major insurance provider. I learned more in that 6 months contract than I had in the last three years. I did so well, in fact, that the company hired me full-time at the end of my contract and I will celebrate 3 years in August.

The problem is that I have such a history of touching down, learning what I can and moving on that it is difficult to actually settle down and do the work I am hired for without the nagging thought that there must be something more to learn and somewhere else to learn it. I have consistently moved higher in pay scale and I think I am reaching a plateau here, which of course could be alleviated with a move elsewhere. However, being an intelligent man, I know the value of putting your time in at a Fortune 100 company and truly absorbing the values, expectations and culture of a large firm because it can only help me later. I’m feeling the itch is what it comes down to, but I am staving it off for the long haul because my family needs what stability I can provide.

My career has been about taking chances, learning what you can and doing better for yourself. I think I have taken Jobs’ lessons to heart, even before he spoke them. As unique opportunities or circumstances arise, you must be willing to act on them, trusting your gut along the way. Right now, my gut says stick it out and do your best. It’s just my wanderlust acting up and that goes away after a while.

I didn’t intend to post this much, but I got rolling and here’s where I rolled. ;)