Friday, October 24, 2008

Visiting The Parents

I'll have at least a few pictures when I return, but in the meantime, I found this comic from Three Panel Soul, which is highly relevant.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fuzzy Goes Home

Been over a year, but Pittsburgh will once again taste my greatness, as I shall taste its greatness.

And away we go!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Light Ice Cream, With Added Steath

ATTENTION, PURVEYORS OF ICE CREAM:

When making a light version of your ice cream, you need to make that clear in no uncertain terms.

The following is unacceptable.

Which is the Light Ice Cream?

When buying ice cream, I have most likely already made the decision that I value taste more than nutrition or fat content. So when choosing a flavor, I want it made clear on the packaging in no uncertain terms which one is the watered down fat reduced nonsense, and which is the real deal.

Print "Pansy-Assed Ice Cream for Fatties Counting Calories" or just make a flavor called "Mediocre Crunch", I don't care. but the small print off to the side and the bottom just doesn't cut it.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Like Brain Surgery, But With Less Fluids

"You should just build your own computer. It'll save you a bunch of money."

"Build it from Scratch, you'll get exactly what you want that way."

"Pre-built computers are for soccer moms and the technically illiterate. Build it yourself."

I hear this crap all the time. Building your own computer is not worth the time and trouble it takes to get it to work. Consider the case of Tim Buckley of Ctrl-Alt-Delete. He has a lot of experience with this, and still has a gnarled mass of headaches because of it.

The way I see it, Gearheads are a lot like Hardware Nerds. Gearheads like to rebuild that'64 Shelby Cobra from scratch because it's their idea of a good time. They have the mechanical skill, knowlegde and patience to make their dream a reality. The rest of us can't understand why someone would willingly spend an afternoon covered in grease under an eviscerated car. When they could just go to a dealership, sign some papers, and drive off the lot with a late model vehicle. I'm one of those people just doesn't understand. But the gearhead has a hobby that gives him joy, and would scoff at my hint that the local Chevy dealer is offering 0% financing this month. That's fine.

Alternately, if the gearhead tells me that I should build it from scratch, becuase I can get the exact Gearbox, Engine Block, and exhaust system I wanted, I'd tell him that I just need something that gets from Point A to Point B without exploding or burning too much gas. I don't care who makes the gearbox or pistons, as long as they all work in harmony with each other when I turn the ignition.

Likewise, I don't care much if Intel or AMD makes my processors, as long as they make the Blue Smoke Happy. I'm not particularly concerned what chip set my Graphics accelerator utilizes, as long as it can render the Stubble on a Space Marine's Face while maintaining at least 30 Frames per second, preferably 60. In general, just give me the biggest, fastest, sleekest components that's in my budget, using a recent First Person Shoot game as a benchmark (except for Crysis, which wrecked the curve something awful).

You guys go right ahead and and painstakingly handpick your motherboards, sound cards, and cooling system. Heck, even I'll upgrade memory or insert a PCI card; that's fairly simple. But everything else is fanboy territory as far as I'm concerned. I don't want to build it any further than plugging in the peripherals and power, and pressing the On button.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

End Year One of the Western Experience

Early on, I was asked by family to not make direct references to my employers, lest their HR/PR/Marketing Scanbots find this blog and give the company grounds for my termination. I still believe that these fears are unwarranted, but it's better to be safe than sorry, and besides, anyone who Googles "Mountain View WY" and "telephone company" can figure out who I work for. (At least one commenter figured it out with no other information than the Occupation, Industry, and Location listed in my Blogger profile.) So for this post, I'll refer to them as the Onion Phone Company. You all know who I really mean.

I walked through the doors to Onion Telephone on October 15th excited, nervous, and hopeful of my new employer. I've been told by the locals that this was a great company to work for, but one can never tell; they may just want to drag others down into their employee family of misery. thankfully, I learned that everyone was telling the truth, and that I think these are some of the greatest people to work for. Sure, they have at least a few dumb policies and procedures, but that's true of any company you'll work for, and certainly less than my previous employer.

Even people who don't like Onion Telephone Company and may or may not have a legitimate grievance against them, they'll say that the family that runs is are good, honest, friendly folk, and they do right by their people.

The first two months were difficult, not because of coworker conflict or corporate BS, but because I was a bit overwhelmed with tasks, most of which I was learning for the first time. 90% of what I do now, I learned on the fly in those first few months. All the way through January, I had awful visions of termination due to incompetence or an epic screw up, and returning to my hometown as a broken and beaten man. After over a year of twiddling my thumbs at my previous employer, I had to get used to having job duties of import, or any job duties at all.

By about February, I had begun to understand how things worked, including our vast database of customers, version control, how our systems worked, and how to fix those systems when they failed. I began to get into a work routine, and relax. I'd receive encouragement and commendations from my supervisors rather than discouragement and condemnations from them.

By the end of the year, I no longer worry about trying to look busy when my Supervisor or Director walk by, because usually, I am actually busy. I don't try to overcompensate to prove my worth, because I know that I add value to the company. They've told me this themselves. I no longer worry about first impressions, because I've already made them, and have done so with great success. Even the few people that are notoriously difficult to get along with, I have a good working relationship with. I guess in short, what I'm trying to say is "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"

This April will be what I consider the final test my new job after having been there for 18 months. 18 months was about how long it took my attitude toward my previous position to slide down from "Shiny New Job! WEEEEEEE!!" to "I'm Satisfied" to "I hope I'm not here in 5 years" to "I'm just here for a paycheck". (The slide from "I'm just here for the paycheck" to "I MUST ESCAPE!" happened within the last four months of my previous employment.) Right now I'm still on "I'm Satisfied" level, with no visible end in sight to that.

We're about to undertake the daunting task of choosing and implementing the replacement of Onion's curent customer managment software. This is going to be a HUGE deal, especially when we're working in the shadow of the previously implementation project, which by all accounts was a Dark Time for the department. Me and the two other newest people on our team have been tasked with with creating a Data Warehouse for the company, which is going to be a new experience for all of us. The company is still hiring people left and right, including several openings in the IT department (If any of you want to work in IT while living it up mountain man fabulous, let me know). I'm not going anywhere for the forseeable future, and for once, that fact doesn't cause sadness.

And so ends Year One at Onion Telephone Company. Year two begins now.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Welcome to Mountain View, Wyoming

If you've read my post from a year ago, you might remember that Mountain View has two major features: Cows and Mormons. Several of the employees at my company own a ranch, have a parent or spouse that owns a ranch, or just work on one part time. Heck, even the President of the Company only works part time in the office, spending the rest of his time tending his livestock.

In addition to the cattle, there's a rather heavy Mormon population out here, which is one of the side effects of living two hours away from the LDS Capital of the World, Salt Lake City. Some of them, you can spot a mile away. They just have a... look to them. Others tend to blend in seamlessly, especially the Jack Mormons.

The town is mostly concentrated within one square mile, with more rural homes, ranches, etc within a radius of about 5 miles. We don't really have a downtown area, just an intersection with a Gas Station, an Inn, a subway that was an abandoned Gas Station when I got here, and my Company.

When I arrived here, the weather was unusually nice. a "Nice October" here, is one that stays above freezing. There is about 4 inches of snow on the ground as I type this, and there may be a little more on the way. Back home, we all hoped for a White Christmas; here, we hope to avoid a white Halloween.

Why do I like this town? First of all, for all the canned reasons that everyone likes small towns: Low crime, sense of community, etc. It's impossible to go to the grocery store without seeing someone you know, and my commute went from 12.5 miles, half of it in city traffic, to 1 mile, the majority of which is driving out of my neighborhood.

Love this town, love these people,... miss being close to stuff. But there's always a trade off, right? Here's hoping for another great year of mountain life.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Aniversary Week

One year ago today, I pulled away from the curb and headed West to the Cowboy State.

One year without seeing my closest friends.

One year without a Primanti Brother's Sammich.

One year since I had to rake up leaves out from my Parents' yard. :-)

One year since I've made any reference to someone that needs to pewt down teh oreo crakerz and qwit dooing the saix.

One year since I spent over $100 in a single month on gasoline.

One year since I've spent more than a week at an altitude below 6500 ft .

I pulled into town on October 12th. I'll have more about that on Sunday. What a year.