Thursday, February 26, 2015

Former Friends let me down

As part of the new category I want to start writing about, here's a situation I found myself in some time ago and I've struggled with moving past it, with minimal success.  I won't mention who Friend1, Friend2 and Friend3 are but I've got other aliases for them here.  Mostly I'm sharing this for posterity because someday Moose and Squirrel may find themselves in a similar situation.

Friend1 sent out an email to two mutual friends and myself.  Friend1 has access to box seats at a sporting event and we have a choice of dates but we need to jump on this pronto.  Friend2 writes back that either date is good for him.  I write back suggesting that the second date would work best for me. Now the fun begins. 

About 12 hours later Friend3 chimes in.  He responds to the email from Friend2 and suggests the first date because he will be out of town for the second date.  Friend1 says he'll check to see if that date is still available and asks if I can make it.  I check and cannot get that day off of work.  Somehow the date that worked for me was forgotten and Friend2 got to go to the event.  Did Friend3 not see my email?  Unknown.  Did Friend3 manipulate the situation so he could go?  also unknown.

Do Friend1 and Friend2 have the smallest penises in the world for pretending not to notice what Friend3 did?  Absolutely.  Either one of them could have simply replied to Friend3's email and said "hey what about what Icarus said regarding his availability?"  Instead they dropped back to watch and see how it would play out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Compartmentalized Winter is still annoying

This is the part of winter everyone hates.  It's too cold to do anything enjoyable or productive outside.  Everyone is over wearing boots, coats, scarves and hats.  The snow is essentially dirty ice that cannot be easily moved and just sits there preventing you from unloading your car from one side, or in our case, using our driveway.

Because the snow came in such a large amount, along with Moose & Squirrel's neediness, I was unable to keep up with the snow shoveling.  I foolishly assumed the snow would melt enough a few days later like it usually does.  Therefore I opted not to shovel the snow in our driveway opting instead just to handle the front side walk, our deck in the back and a path to the garage.  This has come back to bite me in more ways than one. 

For one thing, the water company is doing work on our street which means my mom and our cleaning lady do not have easy access to our driveway.

It has been a compartmentalized winter.  Little to no snow in December.  A good 20 inches in one shot in January.  February has been fuck-ass cold.  the forecast says this week will be cold but next week will be in the high 20s and low 30s which will feel tropical by comparison.  I'm really hoping that is the beginning of the end of winter and that the snow starts to melt enough for us to reclaim our drive way and the selfish low class idiots who abuse dibs are forced to give up their spots.  yes I went there. 

I'll give you a short term pass during Snowmaggedon or a 10+ inch snowfall that overwhelms the cities ability to keep up with plowing.  But once the snow has abetted, you have to give up your junk furniture saved parking spot.  Growing up, dibs was considered the tool of the less educated, classless fresh off the boat type who didn't know any better. 

This is going to be a crazy week for me.  I wrote a couple of posts about my Winter Training and the Half Marathon I will run next month.

Here's the MMHM training:

WEEK 7: 15 Mi
Tue Feb 24 Easy Run Dist: 3 Mi @10:19
Thu Feb 26 Tempo Run Dist: 4 Mi, inc Warm; 2 Mi @ 8:40; Cool
Fri Feb 27 Easy Run Dist: 2 Mi @10:19
Sun Mar 1 Long Run Dist: 6 Mi @10:19

I also need to get a haircut and renew my driver's license.  I actually have until May to do that but I thought maybe I would take advantage of working in the burbs by getting my haircut and then running driving over to the Driver's Service Facility that is only two miles from my office. 

I'm also itching to get a start on either the garage or the laundry room makeovers.  Another reason I cannot wait for winter and the cold weather to be gone.  The Proslat Protile that I ordered from Woot has finally shipped.  This is the longest a shipment has ever taken.  Since we are on a tight budget these days, I only ordered a small sample to see what they are like.  If I don't like them or determine they will not work, I can simply use them in a corner of the laundry room, either the part under the stairs which I'm tormented over how to maximize the use of that hard to get to space, or underneath the washer and dryer.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Extra set of hands needed ASAP

Our kids are at the stage where they want to be held and sometimes they don't want you to be sitting down.  There is just so much you can get accomplished when you only have one free hand.  Also, they are doing this thing now where they get up at 3am and won't go back to sleep for at least 90 minutes.  Which means puts us at about 90 minutes before our alarm is about to go off.

Our problems are compounded by the fact that we have two babies.  I'm not saying single baby families or families with more than one kid at different ages don't have their share of problems.  I'm just saying this is our only frame of reference and there are challenges unique to twins.  In the hospital and when they first came home, they acted more or less as one unit in terms of sleeping and being hungry.  That obviously didn't last very long but now the differences are more pronounced.  If one is sleeping and the other isn't, you still have to get the other one down before you can do anything.  And Boris will often wake up Natasha or vice-versa. 

Our frustration level is skyrocketing and I don't know what to do.  In the Old World, one of the ways I use to relieve stress was to go for a run.  That has been taken away from me of course because my knees are achy and because I haven't been running as much my endurance has gone away.  Also, it isn't easy to carve out time when I can get a run in, which is also making HM training difficult.  Even if I can get out for a run, that doesn't solve the problem long term.  We need an extra set of hands at the house in the evenings when we get the kids home from daycare so that we can get ahead of everything. 

Unfortunately, we don't have a young relative that is GaGa for babies that lives nearby.  Our only option is my mom who is her own bag of crazy.  She really likes to play life on the highest difficulty setting possible.  For instance, on a very cold President's Day, she plans to go to her bank and get a certified check to pay her property taxes and then travel downtown to deliver said check.  Most normal people in this century would pay online.  [I did point out to her that everything was closed that day.]

NG does have an Aunt who stayed with us for November and December but unfortunately, she has hip issues and going up and down our stairs is not ideal for her.  She cannot easily maneuver in the claw foot tub upstairs and going down the stairs to the basement shower isn't easy for her, not to mention that the basement is where our cat has his kitty litter which unfortunately doesn't contain the smell to just the laundry room section.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Conservatives say the darndest things

A couple weeks ago, a friend posted a link on Facebook to an article that caught my eye. I wrote a post about my thoughts on that subject here.

What I left out of that post -- for word count purposes and to keep the post focused -- was the second thing my Conservative Friend said, which didn't sit well with me.

"A 16 year old with more love and understand of this country and its true values than every Democrat combined."

This particular friend is former military, extremely patriotic to the point of nationalism, and hate's Obama with a passion.  I don't know if he meant every Democrat in Congress, every elected official at any level or any person who affiliates with Democratic Party.  In any of those cases, that's a very board brush to stroke with and one of the reasons I generally distance myself from people like that.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Getting It Off Your Chest

I'd like to introduce a new category here on Mysteries of Life called Getting It Off Your Chest.  The ideas is to write a short post about some past slight, trespass or other injustice committed on the behalf of a Friend-Who-Really-Wasn't.

It could be that time your roommate chose to go to a movie instead of help you celebrate your milestone birthday; it could be the friend who made you leave a cool party before you scored someone's phone number because they had to leave now; it could be someone promised to help you move and then didn't answer their phone all weekend.

The mitigating criteria being that the statute of limitations for bringing it up to said friend has very likely long since expired but you are still traumatized by it for some reason.   The purpose isn't to bitch, whine and moan but to move on by gaining some closure.

Note:  I will probably mirror this category over at ChicagoNow but the difference is here the posts will be more raw and uncensored. 

I invite readers to share their experiences as well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Quick Catch up post

Okay, after a reasonably good start, I've gone too long without posting here. This is because I'm trying not to post too much from work and when I'm at home, Moose and Squirrel are a handful especially if my mom doesn't come over to help and it's just Nightingale and I. 

While I stand by my earlier proclamation that this has been a relatively mild winter, I am ready for it to be over.  It's just too cold to do anything and the snow has turned into ice which makes carting two infants around a bit more problematic.

When we drop the kiddos off at day care, the side of the car that is facing the parkway is usually off limits because of the pile of snow.

I wrote a couple of posts about my Winter Training and the Half Marathon I will run next month.

So we didn't go grocery shopping over the weekend.  We should have, but we didn't and I don't want to go into the details of that bad decision.  I just want to write about how it came back to bite us in the ass.  Because we didn't leave the house to physically shop in the store, we opted to order from Peapod.  The earliest available slot was Tuesday and we had a choice of 7-9 or 8-10.

We thought that if we picked the 7-9 slot, with our luck, Peapod would arrive at 7, right as we were trying to get our kids down for the night.  So I said we should take the 8-10 slot.  It did occur to me that means they could arrive at 10 but we are usually up anyway because one of the two kids wakes up around then.  It never occurred to me that they would be 45 minutes late on the first night in weeks that our kids decided to sleep for 4 straight hours without and we could have gone to bed much earlier!

Friday, February 6, 2015

How have I not told this story before

I've written about the No-Name Software Company many times on this blog but I don't recall ever telling the story behind how I got that job.

It was the spring of 2000 and I was in my last quarter of G-School at DePaul.  One evening after some database class ended and everyone was rushing toward the elevator, I lingered back.  Night classes were supposed to go until 9pm but they usually ended early and if you were lucky, they ended early enough to catch an 8:35 train to the burbs.  I was back in the city and using the El but even so, catching an earlier Brown Line would have been just as much of an advantage.  So it was odd that for some reason, I decided to hang back.

It was at this moment that Emram and I talked for the very first time.  He asked me what I do (for a living) and -- having just been let go from a Dotcom company -- I said "nothing."  He found that odd but then realized that it meant I was unemployed and not happy about it.  He told me his company was hiring and I should give him my resume.  I think he gave me a business card, or perhaps he wrote his email down on a slip of paper.  Back then Google was not a thing but I was smart enough to backward engineer a company from an email address.

I checked the company website and there was a couple of positions I remotely thought I had qualified for.  Six months ago Motorola turned me away because I didn't have a degree or experience in IT and I didn't think it would be much different this time even though I was technically six weeks away from graduating with a degree in computer science.  The details are hazy but somehow an interview was set up for the following Tuesday, the same night as our class.

Had I had more experience and a modicum of confidence, I would have realized how my interview was a sign of things to come.  The person I was to interview had forgotten we had an interview.  I was kept waiting for a relatively long time.  A future coworker/call dispatcher kept coming out and apologizing to tell me that Gavin would be right out.

We finally got together and talked and Gavin asked me a few database questions.  One that I was sure I bombed was demonstrating a join on the whiteboard.  I was trying to recall a right-join which even today I cannot do without looking it up (and by default all joins are right-joins unless you specify otherwise).

I had arrived at 1pm and left the interview around 4, so that gave me just under 2 hours to kill before class.  When I saw Emram, he asked how it went and I told him that I probably blew it.  Apparently. I hadn't because Gavin called me Friday night to offer me the job.  I started the day after my birthday about a month before graduation from g-school.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Blue Line Law Firm and Mental Exercises

When I worked at Big_Bucks Law Firm 2.0, I use to take the Blue Line to work and get off at the Jackson Station. I'd get off at the exit that was closer to Adams that happened to be next to the court buildings. 

In November of 2008,after Obama was elected President, they erected a fence around the building and made taking the usual short cut from the subway exit along the north side of the building (see picture right).  I'd take that west and then cut through the old Bank of America building to avoid the cold and also cut a few seconds off my walk because I was usually running Perpetually Late.

The fence was only up for two months until the inauguration but it was more symbolic (and stupid asinine) than necessary.  Obama was already spending more time in Washington than Chicago.  It was rather an annoying inconvenience for many good citizens who had to walk around to Jackson or Adams in order to get to their destination. 

Some mental stretches for you:

Let's pretend that Laurie went to University of Wisconsin-Madison for two years.  Then she transfers to Purdue for a year and a half.  Finally she takes a little time off and then finishes up her last semester at UIC.  Which of these schools is she an Alumni?

The common answer is UIC.  but why?  why does the school you go through the graduation ceremony -- or rather process since many college students skip the actual ceremony -- get the distinction of being the school that claims you as an alumni?

Let's pretend we are competing in a race.  The race has two rules:

  1.  no performance enhancement drugs allowed and 
  2. you can only run in Nike Socks.  
Let's say you beat me in this race.
If you beat me because of #1, you didn't beat me.  But if you beat me wearing another brand of socks, some yahoo referee will probably rescinds your title and reward but since there is no way those socks knocked any time off your pace, it's all you baby.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

G-school prerequisites and the Sophomore Blahs

It happens in Grad School too:  When I was an undergrad, I coined this term called the Sophomore Blahs.  This was the point in college that nearly every undergrad reaches where they simultaneously question all their academic choices and decisions and also wonder what is the point of all the hoops the university is putting them through.  The novelty of college is starting to wear off but it's too early to give up and quit.

On one of the blogs I subscribe to provided the following which I think describes the Sophomore Blahs:
"Symptoms include, but are not limited to, an awareness of overwhelming dissatisfaction with life; a longing for something missing; bitter, angry feelings that don’t go away; and/or a state of perpetual disappointment. If this sounds familiar, you may have found yourself in the cemetery of dead dreams." 
On my drive into the office one day recently, I was thinking of a couple of courses I had to take my last year in G-School.  I cannot recall the course names (and don't want to put forth the LOE to look them up) but what they had in common was the course description when I signed up for them said one thing and the instructor and his syllabus said another.  It was difficult enough finding a course that would meet my graduation requirements that I also had the prerequisites for.  I was also working against the clock...I needed to get my computer science degree as quickly as possible so that I could turn my dead end career around.

I had just had an interview at Motorola and the feedback I got was I would have been hired had I already had the degree that I would get six months later or if I had any IT experience whatsoever.  The irony was that I couldn't get that experience without the degree.  The scary factor was that once I got that degree, I wasn't any smarter or more knowledgeable than I was six months earlier.  

For the class I took in the fall, the CD said rudimentary knowledge of visual basic was recommended.  When I got to the class, the Prof said that if you do not know VB, you should not be here.  I had to rely strongly on my friends with programming skills to help me with my homework.  I think I basically bribed some Asian classmate to do my coding for me in exchange for me writing a paper for her.

I recall another class, it was about Hardware and Assembly Language.  There was a lady who was the Web Designer for Playboy.  I traded rides home from the O'Hare Campus for help.

From a Paralegal to a IT professional:  Nightingale and I were talking about her sister the other day.  Younger SIL has a low paying job as a paralegal and lives paycheck to paycheck.

I had exactly that same low paying job in my twenties.  I was a paralegal at  Big Bucks Law Firm where I was making median if not below market value and had no hope of ever exceeding that.  I recall vividly sitting in my office one October and adding up my billable hours to see if I even had a shot at qualifying for our yearly bonus.  Unlike the lawyers, our bonus was not set or defined.  If you billed your 1800 hours a year, and thus brought in more than three times your salary, you might get a bonus if they Powers-that-be deemed you worthy.

I decided to go back to school and get a degree in a field that was more suitable for me.  I called DePaul University and asked someone in admissions what I needed to do to get a second bachelors degree in computers.  They told me that they had an exciting new program where you could take a few per-requisites and then some core classes and get a master's degree in essentially the same amount of time.  I was like: sign me up.

My plan was to avoid large student loans and go at it slowly, a course or two per term and use summers of OT to pay off the debt. What actually happened was I did end up taking out some student loans but only for a total of $17K which I was able to aggressively pay off in little more than 7 years once I landed that better paying job.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy Groundhog Day 2015

The 5th largest blizzard to ever hit Chicago happened yesterday and brought more than 19 inches of
snow with it.  Word is that the morning commute that was difficult at best.  I opted to WFH and I convinced Nightingale to call in.  We kept moose and squirrel out of daycare as well.  Mostly because it was too cold to take them out in these conditions but also because we just couldn't get our cars out of our garage without a great deal of shoveling. 

The consequences of course are that Nightingale has very little PTO because of her maternity leave last year (and the fact that maternity leave in this country sucks and one has to use up their PTO to supplement it).  My 1-on-1 with my boss was scheduled for today and those are meant to be done in person.  I also worry when I take a WFH day following a PTO day like I did on Friday because I was feeling lousy.  Not to mention all the issues I've mentioned before about the current state of affairs at TopFive.

So last summer I was transferred from one boss to another.  The new boss was kind of a Richie Cummingham lookalike.  Nice enough fellow but a bit of a hard ass when it comes to doing what he wants how he wants it.  He was typically late for meetings, canceled about half of them, and "forgot" to send out messages he said he would or include me in them when he did.  Richie gave his notice in December.  Rumor has it he didn't get along well with his boss, who is now my boss in the interim while to TopFive looks for a replacement for Richie. 

Meanwhile, Boss' boss accepted an internal promotion transfer to another division so he is essentially done with us as well.