Saturday, April 23, 2011

New New-Beginnings....

So, as you know I started this blog about moving home and the things I see or found or found again.  This entry is about something else.

The move home was due in large part to being laid off from a job that I really enjoyed.  Long I had struggled in the ranks of Information Technology as the lowly technician, then the seasoned technician, then the 'Senior' technician.

What does 'Senior' mean in this instance?  At the time I took the position with "the book store that is really not doing well" it was just that, I had been in the field for over 15 years.  I had been in IT before Windows, in fact Microsoft was still working with IBM to make DOS.  Before the Mouse was part of the standard PC Setup.  Email was was called 'private message' on places like "CompuServe".  And yes... wait for it.... BEFORE THE INTERNET.  Yes Kids, there was a time. ( Oh wow I'm old..)

So with this move not only was I moving to a new phase of my career -management- but it was in a field that was new to me.  Distribution.  Up until now, I had either worked for people who sold computer systems to businesses, or I had been in the ever growing healthcare industry.

I've long had a 'career-path' and with this move I felt I was solidly on it.  Finally, I had been able to take that next big step into managing a team of other IT professionals.  Mentoring them, sharing what I had learned over all of those years from other 'Senior' IT professionals.  I. Loved. It.  

But there was another thing.  I had learned some new skills at this job.  Data-Mining. ETL. Warehouse-Management Systems.  All things I just seemed to take to, like lost puzzle pieces in my skill-set.  Soon I was also learning to program in new computer languages.  I was building things from the ground up that was making a day-to-day difference in the business.  And because these things were liked and useful I was asked to build or rebuild other things that were needed.  I. LOVED. IT.

But alas, it was not to be.

After a few years, the foundation started crumbling.  I could feel the quicksand starting to nip at my heals.  And finally, one day the call...  "We have decided to terminate your position...".

I know, especially in these times, that I'm not alone here.  I know there are a lot of others out there who had this same thing happen to them, including a lot of my own friends.  I could only take some solace in knowing that this wasn't due to my dropping the ball.  That it wasn't due to my performance.  It was business.  But that didn't help.

While drifting on the sea of what to do next, an island appeared.  I was EXTREMELY fortunate to get something fairly quickly.  And it had some really good perks.

First, it was a job.  I am and have always been one of those people who just can't stand to be on unemployment.  I know it's there.  I know it's a good thing if you need it but I would rather work.  Call me crazy.  I'm sure some of you may say I settled.  Maybe.  But I believed both then and now, that with the economy in the state it was at the time it was a very great thing.

Second, the position that I took was in PA.  It was over 12 hours away from everything and everyone we knew and loved.  Yes, we met new people.  Yes we now have some great friends in PA.  But PA was just not home.  And regardless of how hard we tried, it was just never going to be. 

So, a new job?  In our home-town.  The town we had a history, and went to High-School, and were our family was, and we had so many friends in, and knew so much about already?  An even better decision.  I remember to this day the little 'happy dance' the wife did in the rest-area some where in the middle of Virginia where we just happened to be when I got the call.  ME?

Was this job on par with the job I loved?  No.  I would be 'The Tech Guy' again.  I wouldn't be mentoring, I wouldn't be leading other professionals.  It would just be me, sole geek.  I knew that going in, I could handle that.  I've done this, I've knocked this type of job out of the park before.  I could do it again.

So I am welcomed in, everyone is great. Well, not everyone but that's part of being in society right?  I'm enjoying being the first 'IT Guy' for this company.  They weren't in an IT wasteland by any means.  But they needed some TLC as far as IT goes.  There were opportunities (not many) to build things for them that helped in the day-to-day business.

Things were good.  For a while.

Now, I need to make this abundantly clear.  This is a great company, with great people.  I didn't suddenly find that I had been sold a bill of goods to tempt me into taking the job.  It was just that my level of being unfulfilled career-wise would just never get better here.  It was an unfortunate reality.

After I had been there a while, things that I believed I could handle started being harder to handle.  Yes it was great to have a job, but another down-side was that it also paid less.  And after being unemployed and having to take on quite a bit of debt to maintain, things were (and still are) tough.  Again, I know I'm not the only one out there in this situation.  And I will admit to some bad decisions we made when times were better have added to our current situation.  AND I also know that there are others in far worse situations than I am.

But still, that doesn't change the fact that we haven't been on a vacation in almost 6 years.  Or that I bring my lunch every day to work which consists of a pack of cold-cuts, loaf of bread, and a bag of chips that I buy at the Dollar Store each Sunday.  (I get different chips and cold-cuts each week for variety. :-\ ) 

But a 'night out' is a luxury.  A night out WITH a movie? Non-existent.  A vacation?  Yeah right.

Now a confession.  I have NOT been very fun to be around for a while now.  It's affected how I deal with people.  It's affected my motivation, my appetite, my mental state, and my health in general.  Ya'll, my wife?  A SAINT!

So after working to stick it out and being in the job for over a year, I decided it was time to make a change.  It just had to be done.  I couldn't keep going expecting a sudden change unless I made it happen.  I owed that to my health, my marriage, and my career.

The job search began.

Suddenly, there was an opening very close.  Not more than 15 minutes away from town.  It was Distribution, and they were using the same Warehouse Management System that I had learned and knew.   It was a perfect fit!!  Then, I got an interview... I thought it went really well.... I was pumped!

That is, until not more than 5 days later I saw the 'posting date' on the job refresh.  I sent out my thank-you notes.  I sent the follow-up email.  It posted again.  Then again....  Then again on another job site...

Then, one day I get a call out of the blue... 5 MONTHS LATER....  They had decided to go another way.  Really.  You decided to go another way?  After keeping me stringing along FOR 5 FREAKING MONTHS!?!?! 

I wanted to say:  "Yeah, Duh" or "Well, I kind of had that feeling 4 months ago when you reposted the job for the third time!"  But no.  I was nice.  I pushed it all down.  I thanked them for the opportunity.  I wished them a nice day.  I hung up.  And bled. 

No really, I was on the way to the blood-mobile when I got the call.  But as I was sitting there literally bleeding, my broken heart was bleeding.  My will was bleeding away.  My career was bleeding away too.  I could feel it every time I squeezed that damn little red ball.

It got worse.  I would feel like crying every day on the way to work.  I just couldn't DEAL with certain people.  I would feel my blood-pressure rise every time certain people would open their mouth.  I started having anxiety issues.  I even had a heart-attack scare due to the anxiety.

All this time, there was another light starting to brighten in my long, dark, dank, coal-dust encrusted tunnel.

I had heard about a new facility that was coming to our little town.  It was in that field I had learned I had so much skill in.  Of course, it didn't help that they were building the new facility RIGHT NEXT DOOR to where I worked.  I see the progress on the building EVERY DAY.  My hope had started to rise again.  But this time, I didn't let it overwhelm me.  I HAD to keep it in check for the inevitable deflation.

Then, it happened.  One Sunday I was doing what I had been doing every day for about 6 months now.  By that I mean using my data-mining skills on every online job board looking for a way out when suddenly I saw the job posting. 

It read just like what I had done at the job I had loved so well.  It was a Distribution Job.  It was using the WMS that I knew.  It was a facility that was a shell and needed someone to come in and make sure every copper connection was properly tuned and ready to feed the vital data to where it needed to go.  Servers to build, equipment to configure, plans to compete.  It had to be mine.

I applied.  And just to be safe, I sent an email to the generic 'jobs@' email address.

Within a day or so I saw the status on my application change from "Applied" to "Under consideration".  WOO-HOO!!!!

Then, I got a call for an interview.  I went and talked to five or six people.  Even was grilled on some technical points by some of their techs.  Even caught their 'trick' questions. 

As I was leaving the interview, I was very happy.  My ID said, you did well.  My EGO screamed "YOU NAILED IT!!!

For the next week, I was suspended in a blend of optimism, fear, anxiety, joy, and pessimism (yeah, I was messed up).  Then I got some follow up email questions.  Some follow-up phone calls.  My ever supportive wife was screaming to me "DUDE!  You have SO got this!!!"  Buy my pessimism was winning.  It had just felt like it had been so long since something really went my way.  I couldn't help it.

Then came the day.  An offer letter.  It was a great day.  Was I over-the-moon? No.  Remember that blend of emotions I talked about earlier?  Well, it was well entrenched.  It held sway over me.  I just knew that something would fall through even though there were absolutely no signs to say otherwise.

Finally, last week it happened.  The tunnel light became so bright that it washed those bad parts of my emotional blend back down into the darkness I had finally been able to emerge from.  It was a one paragraph email that sealed it.  "It’s official, all of your information has been reviewed and you are eligible to become an employee of..."  I wanted to jump through the Internet to the person who wrote it and give them a huge hug.  Instead, I called the first person who I tell news to.  That Saint of a wife I mentioned earlier.  Her joy for me, for us, was immediately evident. (Did I mention she was a Saint?  I married way above my level ya'll.)

So here I sit.  Notice given.  One of the customary two-weeks notice served. Thinking about what is to come.

Pinching myself. 

Re-reading that wonderful one-paragraph email. 



Monday, December 20, 2010

How Cool is This!!

So this weekend was the annual Christmas parade in our sweet little town.  Wifey and I decide to go down-town and partake in the fun and festivities.  Sadly, due to some terrible weather on the original date, this was the rescheduled date so there wasn’t as much stuff going on but it was still festive.

As part of the day, we decided to go down early and check out some of the shops down-town.  We went to the Gallery on the Square, and we checked out a couple of little clothing shops.

But the find of the day??  Grumpy Girl Candle and Bath... .  Wifey said she had seen this shop and had always wanted to check it out so we did.  What we found was a very delightful bath and body shop with great names for the scents like “Draft Up Your Skirt” and “Fat Bottom Girls” (Check out the “Scents” page for explanation and other awesome scents.)

We had a great time looking through the shop and talking with the owner.  It’s no secret that Wifey and I have a sometimes ‘twisted’ since of humor.  We have totally found a kindred spirit in the owner Sharon.  It was also great to find another way that our little town has changed, and in my opinion for the better.

Everyone check this site out.  They have a great on-line store and LOTs of fun gifts.  My only regret is that I didn’t find this earlier so she could get some business from my tens of readers.  (I do what I can.)
Great thing here, all of my out of town readers can join in the fun too!  Check out her on-line store.
Again, the site is  Check it out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Things I believe.

I'm jumping on the bandwagon here on something.  My wife over at Tinfoil Magnolia expanded today on a blog from a friend of hers on another blog here.

I will not say that the things I believe would fit on a clean-cut list of 10.  But here are the first 10 that came to mind.

  1. In the game of life and who you choose to spend it with, I chose well.  My wife is my best friend, my confidant, my love, my life, and why I get up in the morning.
  2. You get what you give.  If you are good to people they will be good to you.  If you are generally crappy to others, reread the first part of this bullet point.
  3. Love is possibly the best thing you can truly experience in life.  If you know or have learned what "Waiting to Exhale" means then you are there.
  4. Take time for yourself.  Decompress.  You are not being selfish when you take time to center yourself.  On the contrary, you are a lot easier to get along with, and you are more open to listen and be a good friend when you have your own baggage sorted.
  5. Your problem with me for not agreeing 100% with you is your problem.  I have just as much right as you to my beliefs.
  6. I know it sounds like a 80's hair band, but you really don't know what you've got until it's gone.
  7. Your friends are the family you choose.  And although you don't choose your family, you are truely blessed when your family is close and can laugh and love openly.
  8. You have to stop every day and look at what you have and be grateful.  Otherwise, life is just marking time.
  9. Life is life.  Sometimes life is really hard.  Sometimes life is really good.  You HAVE to take the good with the bad.  And cherish each.
  10. Finally, I'm one of those people that almost died in a horrible accident.  Really.  On the brink.  My beliefs (personal and spiritual) didn't change after my accident from that I believed before my accident.  What that tells me is that the beliefs I had before the accident I owned.  I owned them because I had thought, studied, and learned what was right for me.  Because I didn't have a big 'Eureka' moment afterword and 'change my ways' was because I was already grounded and didn't have to fall back to something else.
So there you go.  Do I know everything? No.  Am I an authority on anything? Only myself and sometimes I'm not sure of that.

Self-inspection is a good thing.  Try it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ebb and Flow

Ebb and Flow, come and go, in and out, good and bad, better and worse.  These are just several of the words that come to mind lately.  Words that describe life, work, family, and just about everything.
When wifey and I were first married and our life together was young, these oscillations between the highs and lows were there, but the swings were small and so manageable.   

Now, the world is just screwy.  The oscillation has gotten further and further apart.  Good happens, bad happens, but it seems that I’m currently on a way extended ‘bad’ cycle and it’s REALLY getting on my nerves.

Now, as for me and wifey, it’s definitely on the up.  That’s actually the one thing I know.  Regardless of what happens, she is on my side.  Period.  No question.  Yes she may have to help me pull my head out of ‘you know where’ some times and give me perspective, but she IS on my side.   Home life is good.  We are near family again.  We are getting to see our nephews and nieces grow up and they know us by our faces, voices, and hugs, not by pictures on the wall.  And that is great.

Other things in life are just not as great right now.  Part of it is that I’m still in a tail-spin from being laid off over a year ago.  

Well not in a tail-spin, but have you ever seen one of those World-War II movies where the good-guys are trying to get home on the stolen cargo plane.  Then they get one engine shot out over Europe and you think all is lost?  And they have to fight to keep the plane flying straight because all the pull is on one side of the plane?  That’s kind of how I feel right now.

I’m making progress.  My career lost a lot of altitude when the engine went out.  Right now I’m just above the channel making my way to England and safety.  The imminent danger has passed. 

But there are those cliffs at Dover.  You remember from the movie, the plane is too close to the water, the huge limestone white cliffs are looming in the distance.  Will they make it?  Will they come so far only to crash so close to home?

This is me.  This is how I feel right now.  I’m in pretty good shape.  I survived the initial calamity of my engine being shot out.  I was lucky and got a job in a very bad economy.  Was it where I was?  No.  Did it get me home? Yes.  Was it at the level I was career-wise? No.  Am I still able to use the skills I’ve gained over the years to be a very productive person that helps people daily? Yes.

Will I get over the cliffs?


I know this is a bad analogy especially coming from me.  Those of you know me personally know what happened the last time I was in the pilot seat of a plane. (For those of you who don’t look me up on the NTSB web-site.  Yeah, you only get on that web site for one reason..)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's the little things.....

I'm at work.  I'm sitting here reading blogs on my lunch hour.  As I get to my dessert (yummy vanilla yogurt), I'm reminded of the thing I've been doing all month.  I bring my lunch a lot.  I usually always eat yogurt.  And since the middle of last month, the brand of yogurt I buy has been donating to "Cups of Hope".  If you are unfamiliar, it is one of many organizations/movements/etc. that are against breast cancer.  This company is donating $.10 for each code you enter into this website toward breast cancer research.  I think it's a small but effective thing I can do.  I am a man, and thus would not suffer this terrible thing, but I am married.  I am a son.  I am a brother and uncle.  Each woman in my life means the world to me.  And while I know a dime isn't much, it IS something I can do to maybe help them not suffer this terrible thing.

Lame? Maybe.  Do I care if you think that I am for doing it?  No.

I sometimes think that it's the little things that this world is missing.  Some call it politeness.  Some call it the dreaded "political correctness".  Although those who (in my opinion) use the term "Political Correctness" every time are really saying that because it just ticks them off that they have to be polite but that's another issue.

And just for the record.  I know I'm no saint.  I know that I don't always do a small thing that could help me.  But at least I honestly do try.  If I miss one, it wasn't due to me saying something like: "All I have to do is flip this switch and it would help that person see, but you know I just don't feel like it."

Well, maybe I did do that once or twice but I do try.  And while I know this dime a day isn't much in the greater struggle against breast cancer, if 1 million people do that small thing it becomes a large thing.

Come on people.  At least try to do the small things.  A lot of small things do a large amount of good.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fun, Classic Cars, and Kettle Corn....

...Need I say more?  Really.

Last weekend was the yearly car-show down-town on the square.  Now, as you all know I'm more or a scooter guy, but wow.  There were some really impressive cars down there.  Several I liked, and then there was the wish-list wifey gave me of the ones she wants when we hit the Lucky-Lotto....

There were not only old cars and pick-up trucks, but even dump trucks from the 40's and 50's.  Now, I'm sure they were 'the Thing' at the time, but sadly with the "more,bigger,faster,now" society we have now, there are personal trucks on the road that are bigger than these things.  But what are you gonna do.

Of course, the three that stood out to me were:

First, the green 50's model Chevy truck which brings back fond memories of my childhood.  My Grandfather had a '52 that we used on the farm, and that truthfully I learned to drive in.  Granted, it was the scene from a movie where the kid is constantly moving up and down in the seat, alternating between seeing over the dash, and being able to reach the pedals.

Of course, this one was clean and shiny not sadly on it's last legs with faded paint, no hub-caps (please), and the smell of pigs (it was the feed truck after all).  I wonder if I started this one, all of the little pigs would go running to the feeding spot?

There were several both the wife and I were "OH THAT IS SO COOL!" over.  But here is one that I have always wanted.  A Nash Metropolitan.

I mean, come on.  How cool is that little car.  They were even made in Nashville, just down the road from here.  Check them out here.  I would probably go for the blue or green rather than the pink however....

Finally, what small-town antique car show would be complete without this:

That's right, it's Andy and Barney's famous police car from Mayberry.  From the signs, this is one of the actual cars used on the show .  Truth or not, still pretty cool.

There were several others that I either was A) two into looking at it to think about getting a picture, or B) just was stupid and forgot.  But there were so many there.  I have to say it was quite cool.  Can't wait until next year. 

I'm really fun being able to go do all of this fun stuff.  I had forgot what my small town had available.  I'm so happy that I got another chance to enjoy it.

Oh, and did I mention...   KETTLE CORN!!!!!

Yes, all packed up in Wifey's basket (I don't have one on the Stella) and ready for me to enjoy the yummy goodness.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How dare you use your religion for such a hideous thing. You should be ashamed.

To a local Franklin Business Owner.

I'm a firm believer in the 1st amendment and believe you have the right to say what you want.  But so do I.  And I believe when you use your laundromat sign to tell people to pray for the death of the current President you are over the line.  You are neither right to wish for a thing much less pray for it or tell others to tell for it.

You slyly use an innocuous verse of the Bible, knowing full well your true meaning is the next verse that says 'may his children be orphans, and his wife a widow'.  Yes, yes you will say that you don't mean that.  But why else pull that exact quote from the Bible not knowing the passages full meaning.  If you are the Christian you portray yourself to be, you probably read the whole passage.

And I don't care where you go to Church if your pastor tells you to pray for such a thing I openly question his Christianity and I would hope you would too.  Because he not preaching the Bible, he is preaching his personal politics.

I don't care what side of the fence you are on or if you are on the side of the current President or not.  It was not right for those on the left to do it when Bush was in office.  It is not right now.

 Praying for the death of another human being has NOTHING to do with Christianity.  If you were placed on a path of study by a minister that led you to believe that praying for the death of our nations leader then that minister has a special place in hell.  He is not only leading you astray, but is already so far down the path himself that I doubt he will dig himself out.

You even think you feel justified in being against the Islamic faith because you think "That faith is just too violent".  Yet you put this out there for all of Franklin to see you hold the same ideas toward your own government.  That if they do not agree with me, they should be killed and his children orphaned, and his wife widowed.  Do you not justify being against a religion for being too violent by promoting violence toward your own government.

You may be totally justified in not liking the current leader.  We have had both extremes in our government over the past 200+ years. And thinking people can have valid, passionate reasons not to like whatever current President is in office.

But you can not justify, especially now, at this time, justifing asking the nation to pray for the death of the President.

You are wrong.
You are shameful.
And you are NOT Christian.