Thursday, May 12, 2016

Some stuff to finally come clean on

The old work station
I haven't been doing a spectacular job of posting here because 1) for the past few months I've been a SAHD which left me very little time and energy to write cohesive sentences, nor am I really doing anything blog-worthy, 2) any writing I can squeeze out about my thinky-thoughts on Life, the Universe and Everything I want to put here, 3) some of my more dark thoughts that I would put here cannot be put here because family and some friends actually read this one and I'd be outed and 4) there were some things I couldn't talk about.

Specifically, I have a new job!  I'm back downtown which means no driving to Oak Brook and my kids are back in daycare which means they have at last have a chance of being civilized human beings instead of the ferral little creatures they've become since we had to take them out of Daycare.

And of course there is the reason why I have a new job.  My old one went away.  My company TopFive has discovered that it is an accounting firm, not an IT firm and as such, decided to move to a Managed Services model (read: outsourcing) and my went to India.

While I wasn't thrilled about losing my source of income I was unsurprisingly relieved that it would soon be over.  For as long as I can remember my capacity and my demand were not appropriately matched.  It was killing me to drive out to Oak Brook (and subsequently home in rush hour traffic) for the little amount of work I had.

I wrote some rough drafts of events as they were happening but didn't publish them because it wouldn't have been prudent to do so.  Now that it's over, I will try to compose them but in all likelihood they will end up as posts in a serial on ChicagoNow and not here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Pictures from Portage Park

This week's Dbag of the Week.  Not the biggest deal since there is room to get around but really?  you couldn't park your vehicle in a manner such that it wouldn't block the sidewalk!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Commuter Blues on the CTA

I'm working downtown again and thus taking the El to work.  On my trip home, I use CTA Bus Tracker to see if its better to catch the bus at Irving Park or Jefferson Park.  The problem with the IP bus is that it takes forever for it to get across Pulaski, Keystone and then the actual Blue Line station at the Kennedy Underpass.  Also IP going west at rush hour is usually a nightmare so even if I catch it, I usually make better time walking.

However, it seems that the bus at Jeff Park is not much better option.  Usually I'm going to just miss one bus but have to wait nearly 20 minutes for the next one to leave.  Which again will be up against rush hour traffic and take an additional 20 minutes to get to my stop.  On Friday I actually had to wait half an hour for the bus which surprisingly got me home rather quickly.  A passenger who got on at the Wilson Stop scolded the driver for being so late.  She said that it was because of the traffic on the inbound route.

I was going to complain to the CTA about this and I might still voice some concern.  However, it isn't the driver's fault that they don't have enough buses on this route that covers a  wide portion of Chicago. There has to be a better solution.

Update: I realized belatedly that the countdown is just until a bus gets to the terminal.  It usually sits for a spell, usually but not always until the next bus arrives.   A more accurate indicator would be seeing how long until a bus is going to get to Milwaukee and Lawrence.  If the time is less than 3 minutes that would imply that the bus has left Jeff park terminal. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Another Birthday post

So today is my birthday and I am now 47 years old.  I don't post about my birthday every year but I thought I would for this one.  I do feel old but not in the cliche sort of way.

While I'm older and wiser, I wish I still had my youthful physique and under 200 lbs weight.  It doesn't feel like it was that long ago that I was running marathons and staying out all night drinking and whatnot.  Today, I can barely run 12 miles a week and am in bed before 10 most nights.

It is nice to get a bunch of Happy Birthday wishes from friends on Facebook, some of whom I forgot this year.  It is also creepy to get those same wishes via LinkedIn.

The last time my birthday fell on a Saturday, I was unemployed and opted not to go to the wedding of someone from the RCYA gang.  They didn't take it well and unfriended me.  Next month another person from that group is getting married and we unfortunately cannot make the wedding.  I'm hoping it won't be quite as traumatic this time around.

Alas, I do not have any plans for my birthday.  Tomorrow is Mother's Day and Nightingale is out of town with Natasha.  I have Boris and we are just hanging out.  My mom offered to let me go out and meet the guys for a drink after Boris goes to bed but I don't have any guys to meet.  Plus the thought of being out late doesn't really appeal to me anymore.  And that is okay.

The fact of the matter is, there is a huge difference between being able to do whatever you want for your birthday and opting to do nothing versus wanting to do something and not being able to.  There were many birthdays were I tried to get friends to help me celebrate and no one was available.  (These same friends were often livid if I couldn't help them celebrate their birthdays...needless to say they are no longer a significant part of my life anymore.) 

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Maybe it's a different 80-20 Rule I'm thinking of here

The 80-20 rule, or Pareto Principle as it is known in some circles, can be summed up as 80 percent of the output comes from 20 percent of the input.  Another way to look at it is in terms of distribution: 80 percent of your results will fall within 20 of a parameter.

When I worked at the FBN Consulting Company, one of the things the mentors tried to instill was a get in front of the client and show them how much you are dedicated to working on their issues.  The idea was to be proactive but more so to show the client that they are getting value for the money we are charging them.  This manifested itself in a variety of ways but one that comes to mind was the constant push to communicate what you are doing for the customer as much as possible.

I'm not really explaining it right so an example.  Let's say Marty at ABC Widget Company calls at 8 am because he has a problem.  Clients rarely called to ask how your weekend was.  The mentor would assess if the problem was career advancing, interesting or just a routine issue.  If it was the later, it would be assigned to the Field Engineer (me).  My mentor would literally assign me the work order at 8:33 and then at 8:40 ask me if I've contacted the client yet.  Usually the answer was yes I called him.

"Did you call his office or his cell phone?" 

*  This was back when cell phones were common but not necessary the predominant form of contact they are today and certainly not smart phones (the pre iPhone Era).  AT best you had a feature phone.  Either way, the primary source of contact was usually their office number.

Whichever I used, he would tell me to call the other.  "And send him an email too."

This is one of those paradigms that follows the 80-20 rule.  It's gonna work as expected with 8 out of 10 people and its gonna apply to about 80% of the issues, problems and questions clients have. 

I might be projecting a little of myself here, but some people really only want progress reports when there is actual forward progress to report.  In other words, repeating what you told me an hour ago with no new news or telling me what you plan to do doesn't really tell me anything I don't already know and just wastes my time.