Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Happenings

Last week, I started my new job. Things are going very well and I'm very happy with the new environment. I'm still getting settled and I will likely author a more comprehensive post about the new gig some time in the next couple of weeks.

After my first day of work on the 18th, we went to see Quantum of Solace (since Katie hadn't seen it yet). Of course I was more than willing to see the flick a second time since I will never turn down the opportunity to watch a Bond flick (well, maybe A View to a Kill). We both enjoyed the flick but it made for a busy evening since we both had to be at work early the next day..

On Thursday, Katie went to the airport in the morning to fly up to Vancouver and receive her belated birthday present from her sister Megan. You might ask, what gift requires receipt in person? A ticket to the New Kids on the Block reunion concert at GM Place! For those that don't know, Megan and Katie were both rabid fans of this "boy band" in the late 80s and early 90s. My understanding is that each planned to marry members of the band and are thus fans for life. At any rate, Katie had a great time at the concert and also seeing everyone in Vancouver. Maybe I'll convince her to write a blog post about her mini-vacation??

Since I was home alone until Sunday evening, I watched some guy movies and (of course) football. I finally fired up the Netflix "watch instantly" feature and found it to be an excellent way to watch movies due to having recently acquired a wide-screen LCD monitor. Since it's hard for more than one person to watch something on the computer monitor, it's perfect for fare which I know Katie would hate :-) Movies watched:
  • Revolution OS (a documentary about the Linux operating system which definitely appealed to the computer nerd in me)
  • Helvetica (a suprisingly interesting documentary about the litle-known world of typesetting and its crowing achievement, the Helvetica font)
  • Snakes on a Plane (a very average action/horror movie punctuated by four absolutely hilarious scenes)
  • Solaris (a cerebral sci-fi movie which I found to be very interesting despite dragging at times)
Today was a pretty typical day at work for both of us. The good news is that after two more days, we have a four day Thanksgiving weekend!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Florida Pictures!

The pictures from our Florida trip are below. If you want to know more about where they were taken, the prior two blog posts hopefully cover all the details. Enjoy!

Florida Vacation Pictures!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More From the 904

On Thursday, my parents and I visited the town of Fernandina Beach and the historic Fort Clinch. We drove up A1A through Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Mayport. Once arriving in Fernandina, we ate a nice lunch at the Marina Seafood Restaurant before doing a little sightseeing. Afterwards, we took a leisurely tour of the fort. We took the scenic road home along the river and stopped at The Loop for dinner. An action-packed day!

On Friday the three of us and Susan watched a matinee showing of Quantum of Solace. We all liked the flick; I personally found it great in its use of action, locations, and supporting cast. I find Daniel Craig's hard-edged Bond to be more realistic but a big departure from most of the previous actors' version of the character. It seems like the sense of humor from past Bond films is missing, but it almost seems like that is intentional on the part of the directors.

After watching the movie, we went to the Mandarin Ale House where I ate way too much food and required several hours of recovery. After this gorging, we had a relaxing afternoon and evening at the house. In the evening, we all went outside to watch Space Shuttle Endeavor launch. Due to clouds, we could only really see a blurry orange plume from the exhaust. But it is always fun to watch the night launches which are clearly visible even though they take place 125 miles away.

Today was a pretty slow day; we had a lunch at Larry's and stopped by the Penzey's Spices store where I filled orders for various interested parties. Hopefully it will all fit in my suitcase! After shopping, we made a quick drive-by of the Paxon Lounge, a venue where my Uncle Gary once entertained crowds with his virtuosic guitar stylings. The rest of the day was consumed by football watching, including the Gators beating down the Gamecocks. Go Gators!

Tomorrow I catch a flight at 6:10am to begin my cross-country trek to Boise. The five-hour flight from Cincinnatti to Seattle should be pretty miserable. Hopefully I make it home with my sanity intact, since I'll need it when I begin my new job on Monday!

Mom and Dad at Fernandina

Fort Clinch seen from its parapet

Amelia Island Lighthouse seen from Fort Clinch State Park

Launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor, seen just outside the Vickery abode

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update from the 904

So far the trip to Florida has been awesome. Here's a brief recap of the goings-on...

We arrived late Saturday and had a nice pizza dinner at Al's Pizza, a hometown favorite. On Sunday, Dad and I helped my Mom's friend Susan set up her new computer. After the task was a completed, a nice dinner at the local Italian restaurant Enza's was enjoyed by all. My dish of choice, the grouper parmigiana, was most excellent. The restaurant was packed, an unusual circumstance in this era of economic retrenchment.

On Monday we all embarked on our trip to the Gainesville/Ocala area. We had a lunch at David's BBQ in Gainesville, a locally popular purveyor of pulled pork sandwiches and other great fare. After that, we went to the UF bookstore where I got some Gator gear and my Dad purchased some cut-rate student priced software. We did some more sightseeing and shopping in Gainesville before heading to Ocala.

In Ocala, we had dinner at the Roadhouse Grill and stayed the night at the Comfort Suites. While perusing the tourist pamphlets we made a grim discovery: our tourist destination of choice, Silver Springs, is no longer open on weekdays! We thus had to change plans; on Tuesday we stopped for pictures of painted horses in Ocala before proceeding to the Appleton Museum of Art. This actually was a very interesting museum with a variety of art. My Mom was excited to find netsukes on display as she is a collector of that particular art form. While no collector myself, I personally found the African collection the most fascinating. After departing the museum and eating lunch at Steak n Shake, we began the return trip home. A sightseeing stop at Flagler Beach made a nice conclusion to the trip. Dinner was at Larry's Giant Subs, another local business steeped in the legend of successful franchising.

This morning Katie and I woke up at 4:15am to make a trip to the airport. Katie had to leave today because she could not get enough leave to take the entire week off. She was able to catch her flight at 6:40am and begin the long, cramped, and tortuous journey back to Idaho. I proceeded to drive home and snooze! After waking from my slumber, I went on a brief run and performed consulting services as part of the Vickery family computer upgrade. We had lunch at Barnacle Bill's a St. Augustine haunt famed for it's datil pepper sauce, among other things. I got the gator tail with Minorcan chowder, both of which were awesome. I also got some of the "Dat'l Do It" hot sauce at the request of Katie's brother Dave... so if you're reading this Dave, be on the lookout for it!

The consulting is going well; the Vickery computing environment mostly modernized. Tomorrow we will head up to Fernandina Beach and Ft. Clinch for some sightseeing.

A few pictures:

Katie, Zach, Ron, and Jan at the Ocala town square; the painted horse is behind us

Mom, Katie, and Dad at the Appleton Museum

Katie at Flagler Beach

[*] For those curious, "The 904" is gangster-speak for the Jacksonville area. Since I'm wont to watch Gangland on the History Channel, this makes it appropriate for me to write and speak in such a manner. Reference:

Friday, November 7, 2008

New Job!

Two years ago, I decided to accept a position as a software engineer with Micron in Boise. The company was doing well, hiring, paying generously, and offering relocation to Boise. It seemed like a good financial move and it has proved to be one. However, roughly 8 months after my start date, the company decided its IS (information systems) costs were too high and decided to outsource as much of its IS department as possible. This was slightly problematic because my relocation assistance included a two year commitment for which the penalty was full reimbursement. In other words, I was stuck if they chose to keep me!

It turned out they went with a 50% headcount reduction, with all of that being workers and none of it being management. Even though management created the cost problem, they certainly weren't the ones to be held accountable! For some unknown reason, my position was retained. In February and March, I had to record training sessions to teach the replacement workers how to do my job. By early May, my team had went from 14 employees to 4 (of which I was the only remaining software developer). Once my team was gone and my job duties outsourced, nobody seemed to know what I should be doing. It was at this time that I realized that November 6, 2008, would be an important date - it was the date my relocation commitment expired!

Once I had no team and sat adrift in a sea of vacant cubes, I ended up working on low priority projects by myself for roughly 4 months, until the work ran out. After that, I was left with a bunch of idle time waiting for management to reconfigure themselves so they could tell me what to do. Lots of great web surfing was accomplished during these days. There's nothing like having a meaningless job in a stink-pit post-apocalyptic cube farm downwind from the sugar beet processing plant!

In October, after approximately six months of me performing useless work, the management team decided I should work on their business intelligence systems, an area in which I have had no training or experience. But they had gotten rid of all of the previous developers and I was twiddling my thumbs, so I guess it made a good fit (in the Micron sort of way). Fortunately by this time I had starting interviewing elsewhere!

I had two leads but only one made an offer: Telemetric. I was very impressed by this company during my interview and they seemed very interested in bringing me on board. The company is doing well and the position seems well suited to my skills and desired career path. I start as a senior software engineer on November 17th.

Today, one day after my relocation commitment expired, I had the pleasure of informing management that my time of needlessly consuming company money was over. They have tight budget reduction goals to hit, you know! Anyway, I put in my notice at about 9:30am and was out the door just after 12pm! Woohoo! Freedom!

But before my career path continues on its meandering journey, one thing remains.... Vacation! To Florida!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weekend Summary

Katie and I have had a pretty quiet weekend. On Friday, Katie got home early and finished carving pumpkins. We set them out in the evening and had roughly 20 trick-or-treaters show up, the last arriving at about 8:45pm.

The weekend promised to be rainy and we made no real plans. On Saturday, I put out Fall fertilizer to take advantage of the coming rains, which did indeed arrive later in the day. After that was done, we went to Applebee's to use the $10 gift certificate we got due to Katie complaining about the vacuum being used during our last visit. We then went to the local movie-plex to watch the comedy Zack and Miri which was pretty funny in the low-brow kind of way. After that, we went home so I could watch the Gators beat up on Bulldogs on TV.

On Sunday, we met Gary and Bonnie for breakfast/lunch at Addie's in downtown Boise. After that we went grocery shopping at the local Fred Meyer. Katie spent the rest of the evening reading and baking while I proceeded to watch football and Tivo recordings.

In summary, it was a nice, quiet weekend. One more week of work before our trip to Florida!