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Journal: The great unfriending, part deux 17

Journal by Red Warrior

A while back, I asked a question. Given that it has been almost 5 months since my last entry, I think I've decided on my answer.

I still check into /. every week or so, since some people refused to make the switch (or it didn't stick - Railgunner, I'm looking at you!). Which means my messages really stack up between visits. So, following the lead of Sam, I am doing a second culling of my friends list.

Like the first unfriending, way back when...
Some are cut 'cuz it appears they have abandoned the dot (understandable..).
Some are cut 'cuz they have 100% made the multiply jump. (this is a new category, obviously).
Some are cut 'cuz I just never read their journals.

In any case, it's not an indication of like/dislike, and is nothing personal. Unless you want it to be. I that case, I dropped you 'cuz you're a douche. :-D

User Journal

Journal: Fiddles don't make violins (random randomness) 7

Journal by Red Warrior

Well, I stayed home sick today. The flu shot may NOT have been the culprit. I checked my Outlook web access a couple times today, and it appears that half my team was out sick. I may have just been the canary. Feeling better now, but really cruddy this AM.

This allowed me to spend six hours going through 10 hours of mandatory Army briefings today. :-)

Went to south sound running (highly recommended by a couple of coworkers who are running freaks) and got fitted for a pair of running shoes.
As opposed to going into $Random_store and purchasing $Random_pair. We'll see if it makes running suck any less. The lady manning (womaning?) the store was very knowledgeable (as opposed to the standard shoe store clerk). Had me demonstrate my running stride with a number of different shoes. I was surprised with how quickly I got in, got my questions answered without any "what a moron" looks (I assume they have classes on that. :-) ). One other thing that really surprised me was that they have a 30 day return policy. On shoes. That you run in. :-0 Sometimes brick & mortar is worth it.

Women. They plumb confound me. The end. No particular story. Just sayin'.

For the record, the Super Bowl rocked. I WAS rooting for the Colts, but only because I know a bunch of Bears fans, and I'm like that. :-P But what made it a good game was the the "don't blink or you'll miss it" factor. Talinom and I had been watching something I'd recorded from the military channel, and we switched to the game exactly 18 seconds (game clock time) after the kickoff. Which meant that we missed the first TD. That set the standard for the game. At least the Bear's offense didn't get all tired. :-P

Talinom got a goddamn haircut! I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when he walked in. :-D

The project at work, her schedule has slipped to the right. This is where mutually reinforcing and supporting layers of paranoia really pay off. :-) We are still a week+ ahead of what management thinks our schedule is.

Turned out I don't need as many pre-reqs as I'd expected, and will be starting my MA in a few months.

I've commented on it before, but it still startles me when random people strike up conversations with me in public. (This is a fairly new experience for me, traceable to the exact moment I got rid of the chip on my shoulder, and defaulted to being happy) Happened Sunday at Fred Meyer. Today, it was a little old lady at the bank who wanted to know if I boxed (not an odd question, given I was wearing my gym's sweatshirt, which has an icon of boxing gloves on it.). Wanted to know if I'd ever knocked anyone out, ever been knocked out, etc. She told me about how she used to wrestle with her brothers and beat them, until they hit their teens. And how she took a Tai Chi class ("it's like boxing, but for little old ladies" was her exact quote) one time. I seem to be a favorite of little old ladies for some reason. Young hotties, not so much. :-/

The banana bread was good. I used to have a mixer. I don't know where it is now. As it turns out, you CAN make a blender serve as a makeshift mixer. Not the recommended approach, but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Despite all the issues some on the dot have with Christianity and Christians, my experience has been that devout Christians are generally nicer and more pleasant than the population at large. YMMV. (And, no, I still have no plans of entering a church any time real soon now.)

Yeah! I made a big interest-free loan to the feds in 2006! W00T!!! Will definitely pay for the Disney World trip (early August) in full, as well as at least one other trip. AND BAG day, too? Could be. :-D

And stuff.

'nite.

User Journal

Journal: I guess every form of refuge has its price 4

Journal by Red Warrior

I'm wrestling with whether or not to stick to my project management transition plan.

I'm being recruited for a job in another agency. Same pay, same work (except in C#), but right next to my house (less than a mile walking). A good friend that I met when getting my AAs has worked there for a number of years, and raves about it. She walked my application through HR and up to the guy doing the hiring while giving me a tour of the place Thursday. They put a lot of effort into a fantastic work environment.

It would be REALLY comfortable to move over. However, it would pretty much lock me into programming for another year or two at the minimum. And the nature of the agency is such that it has more than it's share of hippie freaks. :-)

On Thursday I also got flu and DT shots. I'm sure it was just coincidence, but I was sick as a dog all day yesterday. I might have been out of bed for a whole 90 minutes all day.

This morning I didn't feel all that much better, but crawled out of bed to drive 100+ miles to watch my son's first two basketball games. The coach somehow managed to scratch together at least somewhat of a season. The first game was the "fifth grade", and the second the "sixth grade". Exact same teams. :-) A total of seven players. In the first game, the two best sixth graders sat out most of the game, in the second game, the two worst fifth graders sat out most of the game. Son's team won both games. One by two, the other by three.

I cancelled the rest of the weekend with my son, as I wouldn't want him to have whatever I've got.
Now I'm baking banana bread.

User Journal

Journal: de ME /AG 9

Journal by Red Warrior

OK, actually, No-code tech with a CSCE for element 3. :-)
Hopefully, element 4 and both upgrades end of next month.

Then I'll start to learn the code. Honest. :-P

Oh, and after two solid nights of sleep, I actually got up in the general vicinity of my alarm (first try!) and went jogging for 2 miles. I hate running, btw. With a deep and abiding passion.

Businesses

Journal: Smile and grin at the change all around - long. boring. 2

Journal by Red Warrior

I mentioned a while ago that I had been selected to be one of the founding members of a new group at work. Well, found out Friday that I will FINALLY be moving to that group as of the beginning of Feb. Of course, they AREN'T going to move me to a cubicle by the window, but it looks like my obnoxious coworker will be moved out of the current cubicle (other cube-mate is also founding member of the group, and not obnoxious). Same pay, same location, cooler (as measured by perceptions in this workplace as well as resume-foo) title.

The group will be managing/maintaining or public web portal, and basically be responsible for the UI layer of all external facing applications. With the exception that I will continue to be responsible for the entirely of my application, as management doesn't understand that it can be EASILY divided (it's amazing what happens when you first design, and THEN code....), and I don't feel like making an issue of it. The application is way too easy to maintain as it is. And the UI of whatever web apps come my way.

The PM stuff continues to move ahead smoothly. One of the contractors really likes to do show & tell - wants to hear what a good job he's doing. Meh. Since he is doing a good job, I guess it's not asking that much and it makes him happy. The whole under budget thing is still the case, and going well. (Comments about that NOT being the goal understood and accepted. It's working out well this time and I'm happy that's the case.)

One of the reasons I'm not making a fuss (about keeping all of my app), is it still does look like the next PM job with the agency is mine for the asking. Manager reminded me on Friday to be on the lookout for useful PM or related classes/seminars/materials, etc. and to incorporate them into my training plan. I'm looking at a couple other openings, and will probably make a halfhearted attempt at one (an "incident response team" lead programmer), but I think I really want to stay with the current employer and finish the transition to the dark side.

Oh, and the new boss? My suspicion was correct. Same as the old boss. :-D
Upper management will make the announcement tomorrow, both that she go the job, and that I and my coworker are moving over with her.

Other stuff:
I can finally get into my workshop. Hauled a load of stuff to the dump today. There's actually a lot of room in there, once you get rid of the junk!

I been sick. On the plus side, most of the office seemed to also be sick, so I didn't have a bunch of people bugging me at work this week. (Not sick enough to waste perfectly good sick days!) Unfortunately, I only worked out one day this week.

An offshoot of the Dallas thing is that I am actually in charge of people other than myself again. That, and there is much more of a sense of being a unit than there was before.

The website I've been managing for the Reserve unit appears to be starting to pay off. I got an email this morning asking for help from a Captain on the east coast asking for assistance in exactly what it is my unit is in the business of providing. The only way for him to have gotten my name in connection with that topic is to have gone to our site. Poor guy evidently found out this weekend that he was the designated expert. :-D

If you suspend your contributions to your mutual funds for a few months, it behooves you to make a note as to when those withdrawals will resume. Otherwise, you can get a nasty shock to your system when you check your checking balance once they resume.

Picked up Bruce Lee's "Chinese Gung Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self-Defense". It sucketh, but is worthwhile for historical value. His later books were MUCH better. Also picked up H2H Hand To Hand Combat, which while NOT the Army's official manual on the subject, is written by the guy responsible for starting the current program, and is MUCH more usable that the actual army manual. Also, not a bad intro to Gracie Jujitsu (that being much of the base of the Army's current system).

One of the things I plan on doing with my guys this fiscal year is getting them through level one combatives certification. With level two early next year. With luck, I'll find an instructor on Ft Lewis. If not, there is an instructor at a Gracie school here in town who can certify people through level two.

WoW is crack.

Being a state employee, I get a 12.5% raise in July. 2.5% as a cost of living raise, and 10% to bring my job classification within 75% of what my trade (allegedly programming) makes in the "real world" in WA. Which will be sweet, especially as the cost of living in this area is less than 75% of what it is in the Seattle area, where they get most of these salaries from. Oh, and we get our "refund of health care premium overcharges" too. $756. Which, incidentally, is more than I will have paid over the two year period in question for health care premiums. But since it's a "refund", it's tax free. :-)

Oddly enough, the union is putting out fliers, letting employees know that if they vote for the decertification, they will "lose their refund". True. You've gotta be a union member on July 1 to get it. You don't have to have been a state employee for the period in question, though... Let alone have paid that amount in premiums...

and stuff.

User Journal

Journal: So there I was, no shit, in Dallas... 11

Journal by Red Warrior

Good flight. This was the first time I did online boarding pass and online check-in at the hotel. Both rock.

Met Johndiii. He didn't compose a sonnet to my eyes, but did (notionally) pinch my butt. Had dinner at a nice Mexican place. Watched the very happy girls night out crowd behind Johndiii. :-) Went to a Starbucks, talked about divorces, and life lessons, which morphed to politics.

A very nice gentleman, and much like I imagined. With luck, I hope to have free time to get together again before I return to the Land of Ice and Snow.

One to grow on: If you decide to haul your laptop halfway across the country on the spur of the moment, decide to haul its power cord as well... (16 min power remaining...)

I KNEW I was forgetting something this morning.

'nite all.

Businesses

Journal: Everybody should have such problems {PM} 7

Journal by Red Warrior

I need to finish my Implementation Plan next week. Because we decided to move up our preproduction move by two weeks to Feb 1. Because we really couldn't see a good reason not to[1]. We can't change our actual production move because our shared security service and some mainframe stuff we rely on in another area all need to move together. But WE are ahead of schedule.

We've budgetted 275 hours for our mainframe guy. To date, 147 used, Being overly pessimistic, and testing rigorously, we have maybe 60-70 hours of work left. Work being defined VERY loosely. In fact, he will move his mainframe and messaging changes to preprod either late next week, or early the week after. Then just be on call.

We budgetted 640 hours for the dotNetguy. He's sitting at 176. And sees no problem (or need for overtime, or even full time) with the 1 Feb move. In fact, he has asked if it is OK to split his time with a project for another group. Looking at his progress, I agreed.

So we will be at least 350 contractor hours ahead of budget. Which translates to $BIG_NUM (about 43% of the budget). And it could be a bit more. :-)

How often is it that you get to go to your weekly meeting with your boss and ask "Uhm... Is it OK if we're WAY under budget on this?"

Scotty rocks. Multiple scotties is series really rock. :-)
As do competent programmers. And those who let them program.

A very pleasant first project to manage. Not necessarily the BEST (as there are a lot of things that just haven't been issues, and thus haven't needed to be dealt with, and thus not all the possible "learning experiences".), but definitely pleasant. The contractors look good, I look good, the boss is happy, the other boss who gets bailed out is happy, and we save the taxpayers a few $$.

In other news, I go to Dallas for the Reserves tomorrow, but my class in Feb in Wisconson has been cancelled (no enrollees). They offered my the right of first refusal to teach the April (which is FULL. Huh) one in Chicago. So I refused first. ;->

[1] Actually, we couldn't see a good reason not to move it a week earlier than that, but underpromise & overdeliver. Slop time is GOOD.

User Journal

Journal: Who says civics is dead? 19

Journal by Red Warrior

Had a conversation with my son this morning, that went along these lines:

Son: [whatever request]
Me: No
S: Why?
M: Because I'm the dad and I said so.
S: Well, I'm the Congress and I vote 2/3. Override!

Businesses

Journal: Coming along (PM junk) 4

Journal by Red Warrior

I'm a natural at this shit.
sigh.
(Which is to say that work is going well.)

Finally got executive feedback on my first draft project plan[1]. All 27 pages of it. All of the comments/suggestions were of the verbage type (Will^WMay, etc.). This was quite a difference from the Project Charter, whose draft was awash in red ink. I made sure I understood the reasons behind the red ink, and it paid dividends. Not only in logic, but in the agendas of the stakeholders.

We have had MOST of the expected issues, and a couple of unexpected ones. But there was "unexpected issue" slop built in. We are a month in, and comfortably ahead of schedule. Which, of course, was the purpose of the schedule as written. ;->

The contractors have two very different styles of work, and thus need to be managed very differently. One needs a lot of attention, and the other is basically "fire and forget." I had to have a "straighten up and fly right"[2] discussion with one of them the other day. Has a disturbing tendancy to have doctor's appointments that conflict with our Thursday weekly status meetings, and a tendancy to not mention said fact until Thursday. Now, I happen to believe those are legitimate (and pre-existing) obligations, but not with no notice. And a tendancy to forget the weekly status report that's due early enough for me to review before the meeting. I think that's been resolved. Time will tell.

The Project Management Office (which is tasked to assist/ensure that our IT projects follow best practices) has been consistently awed that someone actually completes "required" documents, and to "standard". And has made comments to that effect to my manager and upper management. A very cool thing.

My manager (as well as upper management) has made comments indicating that they expect I will probably move into the next vacant Project Manager position. Which COULD be as early as July, depending on how we do in budget roulette. I think that would be somewhat too soon, but I wouldn't turn it down.

The main thing I've noticed, is that the job is disturbingly like a cross between an Executive Officer of a military unit and an S/G-3 (Operations, Plans, and Training) staff section[3]. Both things that I have done in the past, and was good at. Just different terms and paperwork. And you can't shoot anyone.

We had two emergency outages with my application[4] on the week before Christmas. In both, senior management (My boss's boss, and his boss, and the application business area owner) were impressed with my quick, effective, and efficent handling and resolution[5] of the problems. Which basically translates to "he can quickly write clear emails and include the right people on the CC line, and manage to not assign blame." ;->

Yeah, I'm bragging on myself. Bite me. :-)

[1] Which is pretty much everything EXCEPT the Gantt chart created by MS Project. In this case, it is composed of the following sub-plans: Communications, Scope Change Management, Issues Management , Risk Management, Quality Assurance, Staffing, Contractor Management, Test, Implimentation & Transition, Customer Training, Maintenance & Operations. Oh, and the Project Charter (previously approved and incorporated by reference) and the Project Schedule.
[2] Recently was on the receiving end of one of those myself. Something about showing up for work somewhere in the vicinity of my alleged start time, IIRC. ;->
[3] Which in a unit of company size or less, the XO is.
[4] Except that in both cases, my application was not down. In one case, there was a system deadlock (probably wrong terminology) on the mainframe, on the other, the statewide secure access portal was borked. The catch being, both items are indistiguishable to an end user from my system being down. :-(
[5] Contacting the people whose systems were broken, and saying "I think your systems might be broken. When you have a sec, could you look at fixing it? Thanks."

A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough For Love"

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