Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mah Hobbies: Let me show you them!

This weekend I took a road trip to Salt Lake City to play in the prerelease tornament for the latest expansion for the D&D miniatures game. My performance was so-so, due to hurried play, new minis, and a general lack of experience. Here's the squad of plastic I was using:
Roll Call
You can click the picture for names of all the dudes, if you want.

The nice thing about the minis is that they design the game with the knowledge that most people will use these things for their Role Playing games as well, so they make useless cannon fodder guys that have no business being used in a real game, but make great NPCs (see the Farmer on the far right [EDIT: You'll have to click through for that, the farmer is cut off Fixed!). It was a fun day, but I didn't walk away with the one miniature I really wanted: The Gelatinous Cube.

It looks like they have a decent playgroup in Salt Lake, so I might start making weekend trips on a monthly basis once I get settled. I think they're the closest group to the Bridger Valley, and it's a two hour drive. Not like there's a much of a night life here :-)

Osyluth on my keyboard

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blue Balls

Tonight, I had another dose of frustration. I'm not good at these kind of things, but every once in a while I need to try, if for no other reason than to remind myself why I don't bother. I had a failed attempt in high school, and didn't even bother in college. But my coworkers invited me to join them in their hobby, and because I'm trying hard to network up here (the non-IT kind) I decided to give it one more chance.

I had hoped at the very least, I could get through the night without embarrassing myself, but about 10 minutes into it, any hope of that was just lost. It must have been amusing to watch me out there, swinging and missing so hard. The guys were pretty nice about my inadequacies, and by the end of it they were laughing with me (I'm pretty sure it was with me). One needs to keep your humor when you fail that bad. It also helps if you go into it with low expectations, so your not as disappointed. It not like I ever had and ability with this anyway.

In spite of my poor performance, I still haven't ruled out trying it again. They do it twice a week, which is a bit too much for me (I haven't used these skills as much as they had) but I may still go every 2 weeks, maybe even once a week.

Racquetball is a fun game, even if I can't hit that little blue ball worth a dime.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Data Like Burning!!

OK, time for a post, becuase if I don't, Some of you will assume that I'm dead. (I love you, Mom!)

Nothing too interesting to report. Right now, I'm learning about all the tables we have in our databases. There are:
- Tables that have every call made on our towers within the past 6 months, complete with phone number, phone ID (referes to the phone itself), duration, account number of who would get billed, and bunch of odd data for internal use.
-A record every phone, head set, belt holster, battery, and any other product we might sell to a customer, each with a modelnumber, maker, product code, phone associated WITH that accessory, list price, price after promotional/contract discount, and information about whether or not it has been discontinued.
- A list of phone numbers that have been on our lines, if they are still in use, about 100 different codes that tell us why we can or can't use those for a new customer, and two or three other ID number associated with that phone number (used to cross reference and join to other tables).

A query will grab data from 2-6 of these tables at a time. There are different tables each for land lines, cellular, and telular phones, and different tables for personal, business, and other lines. Payphones (we have only a few of these) and toll free numbers are grouped into one of those tables, which can throw off certain stored procedures, depending on what you are looking for.

Then, we'll port that data into crystal, from where we translate it into Excel for someone in a different department. And between this all, there's a program who's essential function is to make it tougher to get to any one file in order to keep two or more people from tinkering with it at once, and make sure there's always a backup at hand.

For contrast, at my previous job, I used ONE database, as opposed to at least 3 that I know about so far (not counting the historical data). we have many tables, but only used about 3-5 regularly, and I've never ran data at more than 10 of them, I think. not 10 tables at a time. 10 tables EVER.

Seriously, if you mis-type a query, you could change EVERYONE'S phone number to 307-555-2273. (ok, it won't affect the phone line's themselves, but you can seriously wreck the DB for billing purposes. which is kinda important.)

this is what I'm doing this week. Next week is Help Desk, which has about 3 data systems of it's own.

This is the kind stuff I always wanted to get into. I hope this doesn't turn into one of those "be careful what I wish for" things.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My First Week At [RETRACTED] Company

It was one week ago today that I first pulled into Mountain View. I've been working for Un!0n for 5 days now. How does it fare so far?

First 3.5 days were Orientation and training. This included:
* Safety training, including Blood borne Pathogens. Remember, if you see someone gushing blood, but they don't look like they are going to pass out or anything, let them help themselves so you don't get a viral infection. Really.
* Telecom 101 where we learn about what each department does, including a blur of a tale about how you call gets from your cell to someone else's (hint: it involves pixie dust, and Dark Magik!)
* Defensive Driving, which sadly, did not teach me how to take turns on two wheels.

Then, onto real work. They switch the noobs in the IT department back and forth on the Help Desk. This is the desk for ALL of the staffs' Tech issues, and several non tech issues, including inventory snafus, billing discrepancies, software/hardware installation and troubleshooting.

Right now, I'm learning about T-SQL and SQL Server 2005. The little bit they teach you in college only barely covers what there is to know.

Fun Bits about the History of the Company:

Un!0n Telephone was started in 1914 when J0hn \/\/00dy bought and merged his and 3 other telephone companies in Wyoming. He personally lay down some of the first wire across the state.

What impact do we have on the surround area? When we started to build cell towers in Torrington, WY, a woman called the HR office to find out when they would start construction so that they could throw a parade for them when they came in with the construction trucks.
Because the Big Telecoms don't see profitability in building in and around these rural areas, people that have been starved for this kind of service for so long actually celebrate those who would provide them with it. ("Ayn Rand, please pick up the white courtesy telephone. Thank you.")

In 1956, J0hn \/\/00dy finally decided that their company would not be able to provide enough money to support his family. Not wanting to dissolve the only telephone company that operated in that part of the country, he and his son, How4rd, went to AT&T in order to sell the whole company to them for $1.00, leaving the lines in capable hands. AT&T didn't want to be saddled with an unprofitable area and refused, essentially telling the \/\/00dys, along with the whole state of Wyoming to go pound sand.
Enraged at the callous disregard they had for the people of Wyoming, they stormed out vowing to build the infrastructure to the point of profitability, and run the company themselves. They have done that, How4rd \/\/00dy, the current president of the company, holds a grudge against AT&T to this day, and has turned down several offers from AT&T to buy the company.

The company has been family owned and operated it's entire history. H0w4rd \/\/00dy spend a lot of his tenure buying back the shares of stock that Un!0n had given out as a promotional gimmick when it was still primarily did business in land-lines. Most of Howard's Grandchildren (4th Generation) have just taken positions on the Board of Directors. Their children (5th generation) are already doing odd jobs around the company after school.

My last job was at a local non-profit organization, complete with the altruistic mission statement, community mindedness, noble goals, and a genuine concern for it's own staff. I still think they have only half the love for it's employees and community as Un!0n Telephone does for it's own.

EDIT 10/25/07: You may have noticed some... subtle changes to this post. My family was getting concerned that by naming my employers, I was leaving myself open for a potential HR issue. I reread the post, and still believe that it's no big deal. I discussed this with my sister, becuase she used to have an entire blog deadicated to her work and her job. In the end, I decided to do some basic CYA editing, and split the difference between leaving this post up, and taking down the whole thing.
This will be the only post where I'll name the company, and I changed things around to defeat search engines. But I didn't want to delete this post completely. I doubt my folks (especially Dad) will think this is enough, but I changed it more than I really wanted to at all. And it's not like any of this is a trade secret or anything. I'll not link to their website(more CYA), but the story about the \/\/00dys is on their "about us" page on their website.

Blog Tweaking

Things that just got altered:

-I am now posting on Mountain time, was still posting Eastern until now.
- comments now open to everyone (you have to use the leter authentication so I know you're not a spambot)
- timestamp format changed
- Previous ten posts now appear on the page, not just the last seven. I may increase this later.

Better blog settings to meet your needs.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Today, I got an email from the pastor of a church that I was attending for a while, and aparently, he has a blog of his own. He also does a podcast each month from a site called Ordinary Means. The past few months, there's been the topic of baptism that's being discussed/debated between John Piper and Wayne Grudem. Shaun Nolan was following this, so I'm posting this becuase I have freinds who find this stuff facinating.

Shawn's Post on "That Whole Baptism Thing"

The follow up post regarding Grudum's repsonse to Piper.

BONUS ROUND: The August podcast from Ordinary Means where Jack Kineer speaks about Baptism, and also the Federalist Vision. Click here to find Nolan's introductory post, and click on the link for the podcast.

Mito, I'm posting this for you, buddy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Message For Wampa

Adam, this is REAL.

I'm in Mountain View, Wyoming.

I'm working for these people.

I'm sorry I didn't get around to telling you until now. :-(

Things I've Learned So Far

My trainer's cell phone went off during orientation. I asked the person next to me why there he had a ring tone that sounds like a squeaky door hinge. He told me that it was an elk call. I didn't know they made those kinds of sounds.

Interstate 80 often closes down during a snow storm. This is not "I-80 closed, take this detour." This is "I-80 is closed. Turn around at the next exit, and go back to town. If town is not your home, hope there's a motel with a vacancy. Drive carefully, and good luck."

Related to the above, did you know a strong wind on an icy road can tip over a Semi-Truck? Part of this is due to the hard winters in a rural area, some if it is due to the fact that Wyoming doesn't believe in salting roads. they just plow and sand.

My town doesn't have mail delivery. We just have P.O. Boxes.

I always thought that telling your son to cut off a branch with which his father is to spank him was just a cute story from the late 1800s. I have a few co-workers who have done just that.

New euphemism for a disciplinary spanking: "Willow Branch Adventure." I found that quite amusing.

OK, that's all for today. As I type this, it's snowing. In October. I know it's not exactly unheard of back in PA, but it's typical here. And so, the adjustment continues.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why is the town called Mountain View?

Mountain View - South

Becuase you can View the Moutains from there, silly! This is what lies directly south of the town. Check out that snowy whiteness on the Horizion!

Click it for a few more pictures from around here. I acutally left my room to take these picutres!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

More fun with picutures!

What's better than a rainbow outside your window on a stormy day?

2 rainbows
How about TWO of them?

Friday, October 12, 2007


I have arrived here in Moutain View, and unpacked at the Pony Express Inn, a place so small it's off the Grid, Map, and Charts. I wanted to give you all pictures of some of the landscape I saw on the way here, but to get those picutres, I would have had to take them while driving. So, um... maybe some from around town, later this week.

In the meantime, I'll post two pictures from my room:

This was taken from the room I'm staying at. Most hotel room views are the hotel parking lot, the busy city street, or for the very lucky and/or extravagent, The beach.

Me? I get cows. Welcome to Wyoming!

You know how hotels have a copy of The Bible in the nightstand drawer? Well, when Salt Lake City is a 2-hour drive away, the book inside the nightstand is... different.

The Home Stretch

Current location: Larimie, Wyoming.

Only about 3-4 more hours of driving until Mountain View. I'm sure my car will appriciate me not driving it like a rental anymore.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Scatter Shot Post - 10/11/07 (Travel Edition!)

  • Hooray to Iowa, for free Wi-Fi at all their rest stops. Other states' DOTs should take note.
  • When using a GPS, remember to set the navigation mode to "Automobile," not "Pedestrian," for the "fastest route" will then take you off of the highway, through neighborhoods, and tell you to turn the wrongway on one way streets, avoid interstates altogether, and tell you to drive into oncoming traffic.
  • When leaving a hotel, remember to check yourself for ALL belongings when you leave. this will save you from having to double back to pick up something critical, such as your cell phone, and completely wasting a morning and a half tank of gas. *sigh*
  • Need a quick lunch, but would rather not pull over? Clif Bars are for-the-win.
  • My trip through Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana can be summarized thusly: corn corn corn corn corn corn corn corn...
  • When going long distances, avoid I-80 through Ohio and Indiana. There are hefty tolls. best to just take I-70 through those states, then turn up.

That's all for now. Looks like this trip is going to be 4 days instead of 3. As of this posting, I'm in Omaha, and it looks like Nebraska alone is going to take all day. I'll try to get to Cheyenne tonight, then make the brief trip over to Mountain View the next morning. Next time I post, It'll be from Moutain time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Did you know...

...that the Iowa rest stops and welcome centers have free wireless internet?

Only for a half hour, though, so no Big Post right now.

**Approximate Location**

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Zero Hour

Everything that's coming with me is in the car, everything else is waiting to be picked up when I have a permanent address.

I have my destination locked onto by my GPS navigation system, and a full tank of gas.

Cellphone is charged. Camera in tow for sight seeing.

In less than an hour, I'm hitting the road.

Thank you all for your support, your prayers, and the memories. If I can spend the night at any hotel that has free Wi-Fi, I'll talk to you again soon, otherwise, I'm initating radio silence until Friday at least.

Destiny Awaits!

Monday, October 8, 2007

T-14 Hours, and counting...

Saturday, I played my last Arcade night at Rick and Vivian's home, where I was presented with a going away cake. Cake always tastes better when given to you by friends! I'll miss pwning n00bs at these events, though. It looks like pretty stiff competition between Rick, Bill, and Mark, and I'd love to hear how that turns out.

Sunday, I took my good friend Matt out for Breakfast, for breakfast is the BEST meal to eat out. Don't ask why, it just is. I introduced him to this tiny hole-in-the-wall place located at the bottom of my neighborhood. Looks like a dive + good service + friendly people + inexpensive, yet well prepared food = quaint local diner. Matt is now inspired to get people to lunch there sundays after church, and frankly, it'll beat the South Hills Mall food court (current post-church lunch meeting place) for price and quality any day.

Tonight, I had dinner with the 'rents at the Star Garden, my second favorite chinese restaurant in the area (Golden Gate, which is first, is closed on Mondays). I finished packing for the move, now I'm packing for a three day car trip, followed by 3-6 weeks living in a hotel until I find an appartment. I got my AAA trip ticks, I got my GPS navigator, and I have my sweet new laptop in the hopes of finding some wireless hotspots on the way.

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life, which looks a heck of a lot different than it did about two months ago.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Fond Farewell to my Secondhand Dell

Hey, that title rhymed without even trying!

Anyway, as I make the final preparations for this move, I have decided that my Dell computer, donated to me by my sister after she joined the Cult of Apple, would not make the move.

Most people only replace computers when they breakdown, make the BIG crash, other electronic cataclysms occur. If I waited that long, I'd be saddled with this thing for a loooong time, I think. No, this was a good machine that just got outpaced by the resource creep of all the applications and just couldn't keep up, tossing out low virtual memory warnings every hour or so. I could hear it's groans, like an old coot complaining about those damn kids on his lawn.

"256MB to run THIS?!? Back in my day, we did our werd processin', our emailin' and our web surfin' all on 64MB, and still had enough fer runnin' Quake 3! You young apps have no idea how to manage yer mem'ry!"

"Gawd, another service pak update? How come evry' time you find another one of 'em security flaws, it costs me more of my clock cycles?"

"I don't care what your hoodlum freinds are doin'! You ain't leavin this house without a 3.5 inch floppy drive! Any file that fancies itself to be more than 1.44MB can't be up to no good anyway!"

"If God had meant for us to read DVDs, he'd have wired it in with the CD-R! If the PS2 jumped off a bridge, would you do the same?"

"Lordy, you new LCD monitors are too damned skinny! Eat somethin' fer Crissake!"

I'm typing this from my new laptop, it's low end, but it's 2007 low end, which runs circles around 2001 mid-tier computers. I just transferred all necessary documents and files to it (and it still has room for so much more!), tomorrow morning I'm vaporizing its hard drives, and donating it to Goodwill. It's still good enough for them to refurbish it, and sell to a low income family that needs Internet access, or to some adventurous grandma that wants to see what exactly is this Internet thing that her grandkids keep jabbering about. I hope it will serve them well, for it has reached the end of it's usefulness for me.

Godspeed, my bulky sluggish friend!

The Last Guys' Night Out

Yesterday, myself and 3 of my closest friends, 2 of them I've known since 8th grade, went to one of our favorite revelry locations: Dave and Busters. For those of you who don't know, it's like a video arcade that's aimed towards adults (If any of you have a GameWorks in your area, it's basically the same thing). In the center of the arcade area, there's a full service bar, flanked by restaurant booths. Also, unlike most arcades of days gone by, If a machine isn't working, there's a switch that lets you summon an attendant to fix your problem and provided a refund if needed. How often have we wished we could've had that when the Pac-Man game stole our quarter?

So, anyway, last night I redeemed the+ 8000 prize tickets for a whole bunch of glassware and a milkshake machine... because, um... it's a friggin' MALT MAKER! Do I need a reason to own one?!? The original plan was to just save up the tickets until I could afford something from the ridiculous 20,000 and up range, but due the lack of D&Bs in Wyoming, I cashed out yesterday. Just 30,000 more, and I could have had a 12 inch Black and White TV!!

Meh... I'm better off with the glassware with the Logo all over it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Scatter Shot Post 10/01/07

Or "topics that aren't worth an entire post for each item"

  • Two shopping bags full of books are worth about ten bucks at half priced books. Not much, but at least I don't have to lug those ones across 6 states.
  • Phone plan adjustment: Added text mesaging service, removed moble web. Since they increased the price of texts, it now offically costs less to do the basic plan that it does to pay per texts. The 5 bucks they get from that is now offset by the 5 they lose due to me canceling my mobile web, which is next to useless. Since this overall reduces my bill, I like to tell myself that they are losing money as a direct result of raising text messaging rates. Whatever helps me to sleep at night.
  • TGI Friday's is one of the few places that I know that will sell you a good Cobb Salad. We need more of them.
  • for the past 4 months, I've been spending most of my free time searching job boards for a new posistion, and now I'm spending it fretting about a move that resulted from that search. When I'm done, I'll have a lot of free time. I need to remember what I used to do with that.

I like this kind of post. I'll have to do it more often, especially when I don't have anything profound to write about.