3 Months and Counting

For the second time in my life, I was given notice of a reduction in force termination due to strategic reorganization. At the end of the day, you’re being terminated, legally, and without cause basically because your position is no longer useful to the company. There are many reasons for this to be the case, but the individuals that aren’t given the option to seek alternatives roles within the company. The lucky ones are given severance packages that allow them time to find new employment. I was a lucky one, at least so I thought.

My former company did give me a generous severance package, even paid for a few months of healthcare coverage on the practically useless COBRA that anyone out of work has had the option of obtaining. The main issue with COBRA when you have a high deductible plan that relies on a funded health savings account, that you don’t fund when not working, is that you end up paying out of pocket 100%. You might as well not have any insurance and in some cases, direct billing from doctors is cheaper than going through the insurance carrier. Figure that one out!?

I used the career management they paid for as part of the severance as well. Spiffed up the resume and completely redesigned the thing from the top down and was quite impressed with the result. It garnered a lot of call backs, phone screens, and several in person interviews. That unfortunately is where my insurmountable wall is sitting at the moment as I can’t seem to bring home that shiny new job offer. I’ve had great feedback both from recruiters and hiring managers on my interviews, however I’m usually “second choice” or “slightly less qualified” than the individual who got the offer.

Here is it, coming up to 4 months out of work and I’m again sitting and waiting for what I hope leads to a job offer following yet another great round of interviews. This whole process is extremely frustrating, having to repeat it now for the fifth time since November after not really gaining any real steam until after the holiday season. There is a level of exhaustion most people don’t understand that an introvert experiences following a 2 hour team interview that makes it difficult to even drive home sometimes. I know I’ll find a job eventually.

I’m tired of the process and just want it to end. Please, someone say yes, and give me a job offer!

Friendship

True Friends Might As Well Be Big Foot

When you stop to think about it, true friends are like family without the commitment to obligation to see them on holidays, birthdays, etc.  Family is mentally and physically draining for many reasons, many of which lead back to the fact that they remember how you used to be and have difficulty understanding why you would ever change.  Friends on the other hand, at least in my experience, go with the flow and embrace change as it happens as it strengthens the bond; makes the friendship stronger over time.  It’s this reason that for most the idea of a “true friend” is so foreign and unattainable because the level of trust required to be given is truly frightening.

Most people have a lot of what I refer to as acquaintances often mistakenly though of as friends.  These people are the ones that you see at work, on the weekends, hang out with at parties or catch up with over lunch every so often.  Acquaintances are definitely ones that you are connected with over social media accounts and rarely ever see in person.  The idea of calling up an acquaintance, out of the blue, asking to meet up because you need to talk to someone about something really important or need help is foreign and feels like wearing a left shoe on your right foot.  The fact of the matter is that we all have a lot of these types of friends but most will ever ascend to the pedestal of a true friend.

True friends are those lucky few that are allowed access to the inner working of your mind and soul.  They’ve seen the raw energy, the darkness and light, the wordless joy and crushing sadness, and the massive crazy that is your life for what it is.  In return they’ve shared the same with you, raw, uncut, unedited.  There is a connection deep enough that a mere glance can emote an entire conversation in seconds with no effort at all on either participant.  A true friend would give you their last dollar to help you out if they didn’t need it at that very moment.  These are the reasons that true friends are so hard to find and so hard to keep once you do find them.  This kind of connectedness isn’t normal for most people, certainly isn’t normal for me.  In fact, I go from full to empty in a matter of an hour or so with this type of person and have attempted to sabotage these relationships in the past.

What’s the point of all this?  That’s a good question.  I guess the point here is that I’m in a place right now where I could use a true friend and I don’t have one right now.  If you’re one of the lucky ones to have a friend like this, make sure to hang onto them and recognize what it is you’ve managed to capture.  Very few of us have someone that gets us for the true person that we are on the inside, the person that talks back to us on the inside that no one else can hear.  Once you find that true friend, grab on and don’t let go, it’s like holding onto a hurricane.

Lost Art of Building Computers

Building a computer with your hands has become a 40-something tells a millennial as a story. Unless that millennial is a hardcore gamer and has really taken to the craft, the chances are good that they just purchased a their computers pre-built. I’ve recently had the opportunity to work on several computers in the last few weeks and it’s rekindled an interest in me that I had long forgotten about. An interest in getting my hands onto something and understanding something that is a complete and utter mystery to almost everyone who has put these things at the center of their lives.

Take for instance the featured image on this post.  That isn’t me or the actual machine I fixed, but it’s representative of the machine I worked on. They found an old gaming system in the basement that had a bad CPU cooling fan, so I replaced that. It had an old operating system (Windows 7) and I’m upgrading that as I write this to Windows 10. It took me all of about 2 hours with about another hour more before I’m done. Three hours of work and this old dusty thing that would have probably been thrown away is now a perfect machine for a young kid in school that will cost these people about $200 all in. it’s a skill that pays massive dividends because this same rig, if purchased brand new even to these 5 year old specs, would easily be over $2k.

I get it. It’s easier to get new stuff in a society that is for the most part stuck in a “throw away” mentality. There are some things though that can easily be fixed and renewed with a little time and effort that renews their usefulness. Here are are few examples in case none come to mind:

  • Old laptop that can’t run Windows 10 anymore, but is still working perfectly fine, can run Chrome OS without a problem. More details on that here. It’s not for the novice btw.
  • Upgrade that old desktop with some new memory and a solid state hard drive.
  • Upgrade to a solid state hard drive in your laptop.
  • Replace the battery in your laptop

It’s amazing how a few simple upgrades can breath life into a new machine and it doesn’t take a ton of skill to do it. Yeah, it took me a while to figure out how to remove the old CPU fan on the desktop; at least until I remembered that a desktop case has two sides. Take a chance, watch some YouTube videos and give it a try. You might surprise yourself in what you can accomplish and the level of satisfaction you get every time you use it afterwards is awesome.

Not Me

The 0’s and 1’s Getting Thinner

You know it’s been a long time since you last wrote when you go to log onto your account and need to reset your password….  Writing has been furthest from my mind that last several months as I hit a stage of burn out.  I just didn’t have the motivation to sit down and write anything in favor of doing other things that involved anything that didn’t have a computer related to it.  Job is good.  Family is good.  I’m good.

Since February, I’ve been really working hard on making better choices on what I shovel into my mouth.  For a second I had considered the whole surgery thing to lose weight, but after seeing the options and talking to a few people, I quickly moved onto medication assisted weight loss that didn’t involve knives or stitches of any kind.  To my astonishment, I’ve kept my appointments, followed their regimen well into the high 90% range and even joined AND a gym that I attend regularly 4 times per week.

My first weigh in was 358 pounds with a rather embarrassing body-mass-index that can easily be figured out for those that wish to know.  It’s now the end of June and we’re heading into the summer and my last weight check I was topping off at just over 315 pounds (that’s 43 pounds).  The medication I’m on doesn’t make me lose weight, rather, it helps my brain control the stomach monster growling and screaming at me that I need to eat.  Basically it makes it easier for me to not snack and eat regular meals at regular times.

Over the last 4 months, I’ve experimented with different types of food intake and have settled into something that doesn’t make me feel slothy and slow or like I have constant noro virus.  The breakdown, which is around 2,000 calories per day where 50% comes from fat, 30% from protein and 20% from carbohydrates.  Not quite the rigid “you must not consume more than 25g of carbs per day” Keto thing people are on, but also not the “in bread we trust” thing I had done for so many years before.  It’s a happy medium that I can live with for the long-term.

The other massive change I’ve made, that has definitely impacted the entire family, is that we PREPARE all of our food now.  There is nothing in the house that comes in a box, bag, or can if we can help it.  Something about buying something in a box that says “All Natural” that just makes me bust out laughing now, I swear.  Is a plastic bag “organic”?  Yeah, I used some common sense (and my eyes) to realize that fresh and natural food LOOKS fresh and natural and by its very nature, has a need to be prepared just before being eaten.  In the end, I’m spending about the same amount of money on groceries as I was before, but I’m shopping at farmers markets and butcher shops instead of grocery stores.  Fresh meat and vegetables actually stay longer because they’re not wrapped in air tight plastic and foam containers.  Who would have thought?

Overall, I’ve learned one very simple and easy lesson from all of this.  To lose weight, you must:

  • Eat less
  • Move more
  • Repeat
Infrequent flyer

Never enough time

There’s something to be said about being so busy that you forget what it is that makes you relax when in fact, you have the ability to sit down.  My mistake for thinking that once the holidays were over, there would be more time to get back to some of the activities that keep me from being mean to people.  I’m still waiting for all this wishful extra time that I’m on the verge of just taking without regard for anyone around me.  Yup, I’m going to lock myself in my basement office that doesn’t have a locking door handle.  Knocking will just be met with silence or perhaps the occasional chair squeak that happens when I recline then sit back up again.

A few good things have motored my way in the last few weeks though.  There is a new position posted at my workplace that is 80% of what I’ve been doing for the last 9 months.  I have a decent chance of actually getting it as I’m on good terms with all of the interviewers.  While I think that I’ve done what was required in 9 months to demonstrate that I’m ready for the stretch goal this new position would put me into, anything can happen.  Silver lining is that I won’t be losing my job, it’ll just feel like being dropped a peg with a new level of management between me and the CIO.  Time will tell.  I already know that it’s more work of course, making a brain in my head that’s already tense that much more tense.

I think my daughter is being bullied in school.  Being the expert I am on that subject (go to hell bullies from my past), I recognize the signs all too clearly.  Her progress reports are slowly slipping without a noticeable difficulty in homework completion.  She is also not wanting to spend time with any of her friends and is hiding in the basement playing games, watching television, for hours at a time.  My restriction of “screen time” is met with some serious attitude, like way more than usual.  There is also a general lack of enthusiasm for any activities that she used to look forward to each week.  Yeah, she’s definitely being bullied.  The school is full of useless politically correct assholes that are experts in condescending placation when anyone reports suspected bullying.  I just hope that she decides to tell us before it starts to eat up her insides like it did to me.

The whole education system is beyond fixing at this point.  The only way to get a decent education for the kids is to pay ridiculous amounts of money for private school that is only  marginally better than public school.  Cyber schools are an option, but that is a huge commitment for parents that are both working.  Whatever the outcome of any of this, my daughter is the one suffering in the end.  I don’t have the answers right now, not sure if I ever will, but I need to get this suspected bullying taken care of now.

Don’t know when I’ll be able to sit down and write again, but as with previous posts, I do try to get free time.  The forces of life and responsibility have other plans lately.  Stay frosty.

Introvert Christmas

An Introverts Holiday Season

The introverts in the world, Christmas and New Years is probably the worst time of year.  Trying to get away from all the noise and distraction is nearly impossible and normal tasks become stress inducing activities because of it.  I can’t speak for others, but having a quiet and ordered mind is key to being able to sit down and process.  The past week has been anything but quiet and ordered.  There was so much that needed to be done; cooking, cleaning, last-minute shopping, wrapping, organizing, decorating, etc.  After just over a week without any downtime to speak of, the annual holiday blow up was going to be inevitable.

After surprising myself by keeping it together for my workplace holiday party (Dec 16th) and the daughter’s birthday party (Dec 17th) with a week of prepping for the following weekend, all seemed tolerable.  A few things got ordered incorrectly and it was a scramble to work around it.  I ordered a few last-minute gifts on Monday (Dec 18th) and paid extra to have them in hand by Dec 23rd, but they didn’t show up.  I had two gifts for the wife that weren’t going to be under the tree because they were originally ordered wrong a few weeks back.  Turns out that there are shades to the color Brown.  Not having a color to work from, I picked the middle shade and it was the darkest shade she wanted.  Bah humbug, I took the hit on that.  Patiently waiting for the expedited shipment on Dec 23rd, that didn’t arrive, pissed me off.  Bah humbug, it’s not my fault this time, but it is because the first order was wrong.

All this non-processed stress and frustration reached a tipping point yesterday, Dec 26th, and I shut down to outside stimulus.  I didn’t attempt to do anything except watch TV and read some random IT news.  That obviously didn’t go over well with the family and I was all but pushed out the door to go to a movie with them, with more people around me, that I didn’t want to see.  Adding to all this, my wife decided to get buttered popcorn.  Butter and me don’t have a good relationship and I found myself leaning away from the popcorn bag through most of the movie.  This was interpreted as something other than just relief from the offending butter and made things worse.  Once we got home, I retreated to my basement office with my laptop and put on the noise cancelling headphones.  I spent over 3 hours in my office.

Despite resurfacing from my cave much calmer, the days damage was done and I quickly wished I hadn’t come up for dinner.  My wife has said in the past that she understands my need for processing time.  Based on what I experienced yesterday though, her actions say otherwise and she really doesn’t get it at all.  Multiple occasions I’ve tried to explain it to her, helped her understand what’s going on in my head, but I’m beginning to realize that a life long extrovert will never get it.  This season is the only time I find it difficult to find the time I need to stay grounded.  I’m not a Christmas person, never was, never will be.  My years of thinking boil down to the idea that people who act one way 11 months of the year and a different way 1 month of the year are fake and not worth my energy.  Family, friends, co-workers, doesn’t matter.  Holiday spirit is not an excuse to treat people nicely 1/12th of year and crappy 11/12th of the year.

I’m mentally preparing myself for New Years this week.  We’re doing the usual friends house with lots of food, but this year I’m not drinking.  I’ve lost my taste for alcohol in its many forms as I don’t like how it makes me feel, both during consumption and the day after.  This guy is waiting, impatiently, for January 2nd.  I’m looking forward to the end of this year’s holiday season so I can start preparing for 2018’s holiday season.  I’m ready to get started on next year already.

Three Things Thursday

Three Things Thursday (on Friday) – 01 Dec 2017

Three Things Thursday

Although I don’t blog as often as I’d like, there are some weeks that I have enough to fill a Three Things Thursday post.  Here are those things from this past week that are worthy of gratitude, smiles and a chuckle or two.

1 – Sweetzels Ginger Snaps

Sweetzels Ginger Snaps

These things are fracking awesome!  They’re super crunchy, about the size of a half-dollar and have that super awesome Ginger burn at the back of the throat.  Apparently they’re seasonal in my neck of the woods, so I did what any sane person would do:  I cleared the shelf!  This was the entire stock of Ginger Snaps they had in the store and yes, I asked if they had more in the back.  Now, I need to figure out how to make them last through next year because I’ll be a sad camper when they’re gone.

 

2 – Mantis on the Door

Praying Mantis

I was coming in from work one day last week and saw this dude hanging out on the screen.  Actually think this is a dudette as the men are much smaller and not as green.  Anyway, I ended up removing her from the screen door and put her down in the front garden.  It’s not typical to see one so late into the Fall because they don’t like the cold.  My daughter love seeing one so close and got a kick out of letting it sit in her hands.  The dog unsuccessfully tried to eat it….  bad dog.

3 – KC and Lucy (repeat)

KC and Lucy

I’ve recycled this picture from my last TTT post.  It was so damned awesome that I had to and couldn’t resist.  They’ve both best buds and often sleep together on the bed in the living room.  Lucy, the cat, is a nuclear ball of energy that has managed to get herself into everything bad.  I’ve made repairs to several things including the fill line for the refrigerator ice maker/dispenser.  That was a fun one, it started with the question “Why is the floor covered in water?”  Yeah, not fun, but she’s so cute its hard to stay made at her for long.  KC, the dog, probably chuckled and said “Oooooo, you got in trouble.”

Newly Found Music

Night Sky by Of Allies

Song:  17
Artist:  Of Allies
Album:  Night Sky

Thanks for visiting!

This has been a Three Things Thursday production hosted by There She Goes and was the brainchild of Nerd in the Brain.
sarcastic answer stupid question

Exercise In Futility

Ok, here’s the thing. The world is full of stupid questions, eye-rollingly stupid questions. If people had an easily accessible brain in their head, perhaps the stupid questions wouldn’t flow like bourbon on Christmas Day. My entire life has been in search of the perfect balance of sarcasm that gets my point across but doesn’t insult the person it’s being fired against. I think I finally achieved that, just yesterday, during my daily lunchtime coffee run.

The conversation shifted to passwords and the amount of them we all are forced to remember. Being the computer geek that I am, I used this as an opportunity to plug LastPass, the superawesome password manager that has simplified my life in many ways. There’s a learning curve to it, a shift in thinking that fundamentally forces you to hit the orange reset button (old school computer reference) or the learning curve will run you over. For most that understand that you need passwords, and they’re not going away, learning to use a password manager isn’t too difficult. I had thought, sort of smugly, that my words had translated into yet another word-of-mouth sale of LastPass. Boy was I wrong.

Me: Once you get everything into LastPass, the only password you need to remember is the master DB password.
Them: Do you store that password in LastPass too?

 

Me: No. (red flag) The master password unlocks your encrypted password DB so you can get to the rest of your stored accounts.
Them: I have to remember another (rolled eyes) password?

 

Me: Uh, yeah, but it’s the last password you’ll ever need to remember.
Them: Cool, I can make it my standard password.

 

Me: Probably not a good idea, this is the one password that unlocks every other password you have stored. I’d suggest that you make it 20 character or longer.

 

Them: How will I ever remember THAT?

 

Me: Make it a passphrase with each word capitalized. An example could be “MyDogsNameIsRoverAndHeIsAGoldenRetriever1234”
Them: Does it really have to be THAT long? What about “masterpassword” with the s’s $’s and the o as a zero?

 

Me: Yes, it does, but you should just stick to your address book of usernames and passwords.
Them: How did you know that?

 

Me: (blank stare) Experience…..

The need for usernames and passwords, even with multi-factor and 2-factor authentication verification in place, isn’t going away anytime soon. Bio-metrics like fingerprints are still relatively new and not completely secure. Facial recognition has its problems too. We’re still a long way off from ditching passwords is what I’m saying here. Take some personal responsibility for your information because no one else will. My personal information was leaked in the Equifax breach, so was my wife’s, but I was not the least bit worried about my accounts. The password I use to secure my LastPass account is so long, I actually had to shorten it when I first set it up. The earlier password I used to use, a paltry 15 characters long, averaged about 275 years to crack with current software and technology. Yeah, not worried about my security.

A saying I remind people of all the time that holds true today as much as it did 20+ years ago:

It’s not IF, but WHEN you get compromised.

Words to live by in a world that is hell-bent on getting as much data on you as possible.

A computer geeks paradise

Spiffing Up The Joint

So, I’ve been busy with the design of the site lately.  Doing a few things here, a few things there.  Although I’m never quite satisfied with static pages, I am at the point where the overall theme and design are going to remain largely unchanged.  I’m sure there will be additions of new features and functions along the way as I find neat things to add to my self-hosted site.  The freedom that self-hosting provides is amazing and I only wish I had done it sooner.  Just for a point of clarification, I am on a self-hosted “managed” WordPress hosting provider, meaning they handle most of the heavy lifting.  I have the option to muck with it, but am choosing not to get into the weeds.  This managed system is relatively easy compared to a true self-hosted system where you essentially install, configure and publish the entire thing on your own.  I don’t have time for that kind of thing.

I’ve pulled my links from the old site to this one and you’ll see a greatly reduced listing below in the footer.  Unfortunately quite a few of the people who I had followed in the past have either locked their blogs and made them invite only or have left the platform all together.  As I find new people to read, I’ll be adding to the listing.  There are so many reasons I can think of that someone would stop writing and eventually leave the platform.  There are just as many reasons I can think of that makes someone decide to make their blog private.  At some point though, a private blog loses its appeal, at least in my experience.  To each their own.

Bonus points to the first person that can name the movie that the featured image came from 🙂

Three Things Thursday

Three Things Thursday – 11/02/2017

#Bathwater

Hosted by There She Goes
Originally inspired by Nerd in the Brain

BRING THE HAPPY!

I’ve had a really interesting few weeks since my last TTT post.  I lost the battle about a new kitten in the house and the only stipulation I had was not having to do the litter box.  A task that the daughter was all too willing to take on and hasn’t missed a single day since we got our newest member, Lucy.

This Is Lucy

You all will probably recognize that what we have here is a Tortoise Shell cat, that apparently because she has white, could be classified as a Calico.  Since we got Lucy so early, just shy of 6 weeks old, she’s identified with a lot of the behaviors from her sister, KC.  The bone Lucy is holding is in fact the antler chew toy that KC won’t let out of her sight, at least, except when Lucy is monopolizing it.  I hope that as she gets older she’ll act more like a cat than a dog.

No Bed!

While I didn’t ever mind having a cat on the bed, I do mind having a dog on the bed.  KC is a furry, stinky and shedding mess that for some reason ONLY lies on my side of the bed.  She knows she’s not supposed to be on the bed and will not so gracefully jump down when she hears me coming up the steps.  The picture here is KC protesting after being told to stay off the bed and as usual, her companion is glued to her side.

Fast Becoming BFF’s

The rare times that KC is able to lay on her dog bed without the tiny kitten hogging it, this is what she has to endure.  KC will sleep and Lucy will nuzzle into her side.  I snapped this picture only a few days after we got Lucy and KC is giving me the “why did you do this to me?” stare while Lucy is being oblivious.  I’m concerned that Lucy is going to be more like a small furry dog than a small furry cat.  We’ve already confirmed she’s going to be a long hair cat, and a fast dog lick will certainly cause some matted and knotted cat fur.  Just glad I don’t have to do the stupid litter box.

TTT Weekly Music Recommendation

rockondaughter

Sober (Tool Cover)

by O’Keefe Music Foundation