Monday, June 30, 2008

On my "day off" last week, I had a 2-hour telecon at 9:30. At least I was able to attend in my pajamas and look at the slides on my home computer, so it certinaly could have been a lot more disruptive to my off time. After my meeting, I went over to ahve lunch with my mom and assemble the new grill we got my dad for Father's Day. Unfortunately, Home Depot's delivery company of choice employs dyslexics who delivered a set of 6 weatherproof patio chairs instead of a grill, so there was really nothing to assemble. Instead, I cleaned up the apartment and played Oblivion for a while. I'm really into that game again now that I reinstalled my computer from scratch and everyhting runs smoothly again. I was having issues with Oblivion before where whenever something would start attacking you, the game would freeze up for 30 seconds, it wasn't unplayable that way, but it was really annoying.
Saturday I mostly just played Oblivion all day long. That evening Emily and I went to a birthday party at the WCC in Georgetown. Parties aren't really my thing, especially those involving drinking games, but I had a good time talking to the few sober people there. Sunday we went back to the WCC to go kayaking with Priya and birthday-boy Derek. The plan was to take 2-man kayaks down to the airport, have a picnic, and then head back upriver. I had a rough idea of how far away the airport is from the key bridge, but I wasn't sure exactly where we were going relative to the airport or exactly how much I suck at kayaking. I also feel that it's pertinent to mention that Derek is a coach there, so not only is he a vastly better paddler than the rest of us, but he also (supposedly) knows the river well and could be counted on to tell us how much farther we were going. Lies. "Just" past the 14th street bridge apparently means "another 1.5k" past said landmark. Into a strong headwind. Emily and I were paddlign as hard as we could, which means we were changing directions more frequently than most politicians, and for a while, we we actually not making any forward progress whatsoever. Anyway, I estimate that it was about about a 7-mile round trip, but since Emily and I could not make our boat continue on a straight course no matter what we tried, I think we may have personally travelled more like 8 miles. It was nice along the river though, and you get a much different view of the city than you ever do driving over bridges or along the riverside parkways. It was a different activity and a nice day to be outside, but since I can no longer lift my arms, bend my elbows, or grip things with my hands, I'm not sure it's something I will ever be doing again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My new phone is, as the kids say, "teh awesome!!!" I've been keeping an eye on dev of this phone for a while, and was on the list to be notified as soon as they were available on Thursday. I went to scope it out on Friday, and while it's not as slick as the iPhone, it has most of the same features as the second edition, it's cheaper, it comes with some extras Apple doesn't include, and it's served by a better network (Sprint vs AT&T). Both Emily and I got new phones over the weekend and so far I'm ecstatic with it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I read an article on CNN today about how, despite the proliferation of tattoos and piercings amongst young people, the workplace is still really not changing to accept that. Outside of the usual suspects with notoriously casual dress codes, most major compaines still frown on visible tattoos and piercings. The problem is that the people in charge are still mostly from our parents' generation who may have grown up during the 60s, but long since abandoned the "free your mind" culture they were born into. This is something that I think about on a periodic basis, then usually forget about until something sparks my memory again. I'm fortunate that my multitude of ear piercings (and relaxed dress code) are not a problem for me here at GD, that my mohawk wasn't a problem when I worked at Electrotek, and that, for the most part, my earrings weren't a problem when I worked at Coke.
This one actually deserves a trip down memory lane: My supervisor at Coke did get a complaint about my "appearance and professionalism" from a store one time. He wanted to make a big deal about it, and I said, fine, but I promise you the problem was not my earrings. The problem is that most customers are used to seeing a Coke employee show up in a clearly marked van, wearing a service technician's uniform, and having a stack of business cards to give the store manager. I drive a beater of a car, and though I was wearing nice slacks and an oxford shift that day, I bore no indication that I worked for Coke besides my business cards that say "Engineering Intern" on them instead of my real name. I've repeatedly asked for business cards with my name on it and for a Coca-Cola polo or oxford to wear at customer sites, and you've repeatedly said "it's not in the budget". When I left the customer location, he was extremely satisfied with my work and asked me to stick around an extra hour to train the next shift of workers that was coming in. So if you want to talk about my appearance and professionalism, I want to talk about how the company is unwilling to spend $50 on a long-term student-employee. That was the end of the conversation. The next day I had a Coca-Cola polo shirt on my desk. I never did get business cards though, so I had my own printed up by Vistaprint, and never received another complaint again. I didn't realize it at the time, but that was really the beginning of the end of the co-op program at Coke.
Anyway, after graduating from Tech, I had a long conversation with my dad about taking my piercings out. I said no. I like them. That's who I am. When I close my eyes, that's how I see myself. To borrow from the Matrix, it's ingrained in my residual self-image. So he asked if I would consider taking them out for job interviews. Again, I said no. I felt like, apart from making me look even stranger, it was dishonest, both to myself and my potential employer. My feeling was that, if I had every intention of wearing piercings to work every day, I owed it to my interviewer to present an accurate depiction of myself. On the flip side, if an employer balked at the concept of hiring me because of my piercings, chances are very good that I wouldn't have fit in with the corporate culture of the organization.
I only bring this up because last night I was laying in bed thinking about the tattoos I want to get that I've been putting off. After seeing Tommy and Steph's new ink recently, it got me excited about my own ideas again. Most of what I want done is pretty benign and would be convered 99% of the time I'm at work, but the matching om/ohm tats I want done on my inner forearms would be quite visible most of the time. I could start wearing long sleeve shirts to work of course, but that's really not my cup of tea, especially in the summer. I'm not overly concerned about being handed a pink slip because I show up one morning with visible tattoos (the worst they would do is ask me to cover them up). I don't really think anyone here would even think any different of me to tell you the truth. My biggest concern is now that I'm in a position of authority/leadership/power/whatever, there's going to be a lot more interaction with higher-ups I don't know (both internally and externally), and the fact that I'm really quite young to be doing this job only makes matters more sticky. I guess I'm concerned about others' perception of me and whether or not I'll be taken seriously. We've always been treated as kind of the bastard step-child of the sonar world. I'm not expecting to be automatically granted the benefit-of-the-doubt that someone like Dave would have commanded, I understand that that level of respect had to be earned through a lot of hard work. But at the same time, I do expect to be given a chance to prove myself without being prematurely judged inferior to my predecessor based on nothing more than my appearance (one I've reminded my stodgier colleagues of on more than one occasion that gives me an immediate rapport with our end user - the US Navy sailor).
I think ultimately I've always been one to challenge the system, but I've also generally known when to say when and what battles are worth fighting. I've always been able to figure out exactly what I could get away with, do that for a while, and then push the boundary just a little bit. This is probably another one of those times. At any rate, this certainly bears some more thought before I make an appointment with Comes A Time or Exposed Temptations.

Kellogg's might just have come up with the worst marketing idea of all time. I know Eggo did a cross-promotion with Legos too, but those still looked like waffles when all was said and done. These things look like honest to god Lego pieces. By the time you train a kid not to put a colorful block in his mouth, the last thing you want to do is give him a colorful block that tastes like "graperry" and has the same size, shape, and name as his favorite toy (which causes serious gastrointestinal problems if swallowed). Brilliant. Don't get me wrong, I want some for myself; I'll bet they're damn tasty. That, and I want to see if I can build not just a Lego model of the Empire State building, not just a gummy model of the Empire State building, but a gummy Lego model of the empire State building. But then, I hardly think I'm their target audience.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why you have to root for the Celtics: After winning the championship tonight, KG was in tears, believing anything was possible, and telling everyone he misses his mom. Once ESPN's producers finally told their sideline babe to leave him alone, the first thing he did was find his way over to Bill Russell and give him a huge hug. His words? "Now I've got my own, and I hope we made you proud." I understand that it's his first ring, but I don't recall Kobe hiding his tears beneath his brand new hat and asking if Kareem or Magic or Wilt or Elgin was proud of the team back in 2000. I guess that's the difference between an MJ-wannabe and a player who understands what it means to sacrifice personal glory to unify a team.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I officially took over as lead of my project yesterday. Kind of uneventful because no one is here. I'm in charge, but have no one to be in charge of! My lone remaining full-time software person is on vacation, my hardware guy is on travel at King's Bay, my 50% software guy is swamped with TCS stuff until the end of the week, and I haven't found a new guy to hire yet. I did get my first resume yesterday though, so I'm looking over that today. I'm kind of stalling on it intentionallty to make sure that if I think he looks good on paper, by the time we can schedule him an interview, Jenny will be back so I'm not the only one he comes in to see. The phone calls have already started too. Not just from my customer, but from other groups who need answers from me about things. Most of them are easy, but some of them make no sense and I have to spend 30 minutes on the phone with a guy trying to decipher what it is he's actually trying to get more information about.
Them: "We're thinking about doing away with X-Windows for TI08, how does that affect TSMS?"
Me: "Um, it's required for our displays, but as long as you have some other GUI that supports Java displays, I guess I don't really care. Just a lot more integration effort."
Them: "Oh. No one else said they needed it."
Me: "Who else did you talk to? That's doesn't make any sense; all of sonar runs on X."
Them: "Not on legacy."
Me: "You asked me about TI08, not legacy. All of sonar runs on X. If you take X away, I promise that TSMS will be the least of your concerns."
End result of this roundabout conversation was that they want to remove a specific X library that handles remote system calls that no one uses anymore because we came up with a better implementation in TI06. It took 10 minutes to get this information out of him. At which point my response was simple: I don't use it, don't need it, and don't care if it stays or goes. *sigh* It's hard to answer an incorrect question with a useful response. Knowing is truly half the battle. I can't wait for more of these types of phone calls.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Great. That's exactly what the Jacket's need, another Atlanta-based team for locals to support instead of GT. It's not like we get much support in Atlanta already, what with all the inexplicable number of U(sic)GA fans around, and now we have another entity to compete with? One with a former GT head coach at the helm no less? Great. Just great.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Busy week - I haven't even had a chance to talk about what happened over the wekeend yet! Saturday was a pretty busy day. My dad is off to the Middle East again, so we had an early father's day celebration brunch. It was nice, but a little rushed as I showed up early to spend time with my family (who wasn't prepared for visitors yet) and my grandmother showed up late. Brunch was delicious, but we still haven't finished my pictures from Malta, and we were supposed to see some pictures from their trip to Italy too. But I ate and ran cause I had other places to be!
After pre-father's day, I ran home to change and then Emily and I headed downtown for RAND's 60th anniversary party. Did I mention that it was ungodly hot outside? The party was held on one of the river cruising boats on the Potomac, which was a fun idea. Food was pretty good, and the views were nice, but none of us wanted to leave the air conditioned, glassed-in cabins to walk the deck or leave the party due to the oppressive heat.
After the fun party, we rushed back home to change, again, before heading over to the Fairfax Fair to see Joan Jett. She came on stage wearing a string bikiki top and leather pants which seems somewhat out of character for her (the top at least), but I suppose when it's 95 degrees and 90% humidity, you gotta do what you gotta do. Also, I never realized that she's something like 3 feet tall. But for a lady pushing 50, she still rocks pretty hard and puts on a good show. I have to admit that I found myself singing Weird Al's "I Love Rocky Road" in my head during her anthemic "I Love Rock & Roll" instead of the proper lyrics, but that's pretty common for me. She played a lot of songs off her new album, which is a lot more toned down than her classics and all kind of ran together. The rapidly approaching thunderstorm and/or heat lighting made for some awesome lighting effects during the performance, and way outclassed anything a pyrotechnician could have put together, although, the post-performance fireworks were pretty nice too.
Sunday was much more low key for me. The cable went out again, preventing me from watching my F1 race like I wanted (I hate Cox so much...), so instead I played several hours of my new Lego Star Wars game. Emily and some of her friends headed off to battle the heat for another aging rocker - Tom Petty. I understand they all had a good time. Frankly, I was perfectly happy sitting in my air-conditioned house playing video games and futzing with my computer.
This is Dave's last week at work, and tomorrow is effectively his last day since we have Friday off. I think things are falling into place for me to take over pretty well. I know it's not going to be a smooth transition, but my goal is basically just to not let anything important slip through the cracks. I think I have a pretty good handle on what I can and can't accomplish with the staffing I currently have, so as long as I make everyone aware of what is and isn't going to get done far enough in advance, I'm hoping no one will be too upset if certain tasks don't get accomplished in lieu of other higher-priority ones. Here's to operating without a safety net!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Owie! Tetnus booster shots are no fun... My left arm is slowly going numb as I sit at my desk. Good thing I don't need to type anything today... On the other hand, that's the worst thing that came out of my doctor's appointment this morning, so that's definitely good news. Blood pressure is down, weight is stable, acid reflux hasn't made a resurgance after my most recent head cold like it did last time. Now I just need to see what my GI specialist has to say after cramming a fiber optic tube down my throat in a couple weeks, but so far things are looking up! If only I could feel my left arm.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Are you a recent college graduate with a degree in EE/CmpE/CS? Do you know anything about linux? Do you know C/C++ and/or Java? Do you know what threadsafe means without quoting the almighty Wiki (unless you can also prove you wrote the article)? Do you want a job? I happen to have an opening for you that involves submarines! I'm not sure that I'm allowed to post the actual req # here, but if you go to GDAIS's careers web page and search for a Systems Engineer position in Fairfax, there's a good chance you may be applying to fill the gaping void of talent I'm currently shackled with because of Dave's departure.

I think we've had one day of spring so far. Otherwise we jumped straight into summer. The day I played in our golf tournament was pretty springy. Other than that it's been hot and humid and violent thunderstorms or cool and dry. No "april showers" or slowly increasing temperatures. Oh well. Storms interrupted my first big presentation as Technical Lead on my last bullet point of my last slide (so much for my backup slides!) a couple days ago. After having power at home through the worst of the storms the last couple days, the power finally went out yesterday evening after a full day of sun. Go figure. But it was only out for a couple hours and it didn't get too hot inside. The cable on the other hand has been out since mid-day Wednesday. I know internet, tv, and phone aren't exactly essential when compared to electricity, but some of us are more addicted than others... I mean, seriously, how am I supposed to read my NSFW comics when I only have internet at work? It's been at least 40 hours now, and if it's not on when I get home today, I'm going to be super pissed.

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  • I'm Rev. Adam
  • From Oakton, Virginia, United States
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