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A Revelation

When I moved to Kansas City from Silicon Valley, it was because I had hit a milestone and I felt that perhaps I needed a break: a change of scenery, new challenges, new people. 20 years in the technology sector, working as both a quality assurance tester and also had dabbled in tech support and database management with some smaller adventures in technical writing and software development. It had become, it seemed, a bit of a routine and it seemed like I wasn’t being challenged anymore. I had needed a break.

Well, this holiday weekend – Labor Day – now marks ten years in Kansas City. With some time off to build a house and sweep the cobwebs out of my head, it has been another decade of doing exactly what I am good at… which luckily coincides with what I love. I managed, somehow, to be born at the right time to experience the digital revolution from the very beginning. And to be a part of what has shaped the future.

And once again, I find myself at the peak of my abilities – not only the technical skills but the fact that they are matched with an appropriate salary. I often worried that the number of years that I have been on this planet would begin to hinder my career, but it has, in fact, done just the opposite. My technical background speaks for itself and I think I am the kind of person that can be both serious and lighthearted at the same time. In other words, I play well with others.

Mentoring has become an intricate part of who I am technically. Although technology changes at the speed of light, my previous experiences still play a part in how I do things today. And in those thirty years, I have had the opportunities to try – and sometimes fail – many approaches, thoughts and attempts. It has made me a more flexible and smarter person. Failures are only failures if you don’t learn from your mistakes. And pass that learning onto others.

Hey… thanks for listening.

MacCupcake

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Rant About Passwords

Okay, I know that our lives are on the digital ether and it should be protected by passwords, but the sheer number of passwords between work and home that I use is reaching epidemic proportions!

A lot of software and websites now utilize the wonderful key chain type software to manage the myriad of passwords, but in a way, it makes it almost worse. If I set up an account and then have the system remember my password, when I move to another computer, I have no clue as to what the password is! Which then requires a password change and then the password from my saved keychain is incorrect and I have to start the process all over again!

Unknown

Even worse, is the fact that not all websites have the same rules around passwords. Some are deceptively easy to create passwords – with pretty much no rules about the password to those who have a myriad of rules required. I have a few standard passwords that I use that usually meet the criteria of even the toughest requirements, but when you’re in a site trying to guess which password I used to establish the account, it would be nice to know the rules ahead of time. That way I don’t lock myself out of an account when all I needed to know is that the password needed to have a special character in it!

Of course, since I am older than dirt and have been around technology since before the sixth day, I occasionally stumble onto an very old account that didn’t require special rules for creating passwords. God help us all when we’re trying to remember a password from more than ten years ago. Add to the frustration is my early onset of Alzheimer’s and I am destined to be locked out of the account quickly.

Okay, I joke about the Alzheimer’s… but in my defense there is a more than likely chance that I will develop it… it really runs in my Father’s family. I shudder to think about remembering passwords then!

ย And since I am in the technology field, I am often tasked with working on something that isn’t even my account and have to use someone else’s passwords. Really? Now in addition to the thousands of passwords that I have to remember, I get to remember other people’s passwords? Sigh.

Some days this is bad enough for me to throw my hands up and want to crawl back into bed. Leave this challenging technical world to the youngsters… those who have cut their teeth on technology. I just want to lay in bed and watch Netflix on my AppleTV… now what were those passwords again?

MacCupcake

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Five Steps Forward, Only One Step Back.

Things continue to go well at the new job and I am catching on quicker than I thought I would. In fact, by the third day, I was actually doing some testing and have a fairly good grasp of the project(s) and how we work on them. My team is a little quiet as far as interacting goes, but everyone seems to do well with our boss,ย  just not with each other. Maybe they are just so busy that there isn’t time for idle chit chat.

Considering how well work is going, it was destined that something else would go wrong. My left knee (wasn’t that a movie with Daniel Day Lewis? Ha) has been giving me some major pain lately. About 5 weeks ago, I had a cortisone steroid injection into the knee and for about three weeks, I felt pretty good. I even recall at one point ‘sprinting’ up the stairs to the second floor to retrieve a quilt to give away. Felt good for a change to be able to walk without a limp.

Then, a sudden flare up. In fact, my primary doc (who I just happened to have a check up with) suggested that I probably overused it and re-injured or had a new injury to the knee. Of course, since I see an ortho doc, he didn’t want to intervene and suggested I see ortho for an expert opinion. Two days ago, I saw my ortho’s right hand doc and she is suggesting that it is just increasing injury to an already damaged knee. So, they have me down for physical therapy and taping, but that doesn’t help deal with the pain in the meantime. Its a different kind of ache, just a dull throbbing behind the knee cap that shoots up the thigh. Even my pain meds don’t help. I wish I’d had a shot of the x-rays, my left knee cap doesn’t even sit on top of the joint anymore… its a wonder I can walk at all. The surprise in the doctor’s voice was nothing short of startling when she showed me.

Its a serious catch-22 that has led me down a pretty egregious spiral. When the knees hurt, I tend to do less physical things and then because of the sedentary lifestyle, I tend to put on some weight. Didn’t help that at the turn of last year when I had to do the oral steroids that I packed on the pounds either. So, the more the knees hurt, the more I sit. And the more I sit, the more I pack on the weight. Sigh.

So, I sit here tonight, with my legs up on the ottoman with ice packs on both knees. Today I started the physical therapy exercises and I don’t know if it was the power of positive thinking, but for a little while, I felt pretty good. But by the end of the day, everything was just hurting again. Getting old sucks.

MacCupcake

 

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Did I Die and Go To Heaven? Not Quite…

Wow. That one word just about sums it all up.

So, I started a new job last Friday. Now that I have put in a whole week, all I can think to say is “WOW!”.

I’ve been mentally writing and re-writing this post again and again in my head and I always come back to that one word: WOW!

Let’s see. Where can I start? How about, if someone were to ask me what my ideal job would be, I would have to reply this:

The perfect job would have me working in the medical field. I would have to be able to work on multiple platforms, but most important, it has to include Macs. And not just a passing glance with 30 people sharing a single computer, but one of my desk. To use all of the time.

Next? There has to be some autonomy. The more the better. Great tools, again, the more the better. Great people. A dedicated team of folks who believe in working well together to create a product that shines. No one plays the “blame game”, but rather identifies issues and comes up with solutions as a whole.

A project with good funding. No worrying that if the project doesn’t turn around in three months and be pulling in a 15% increase in review that the powers that be will pull the plug. A management that knows that it might take some time, talent and money to get things done right.

A company and an industry that is making strides in technology. And will be around a long time. And has been around a long time.

On a more personal note, a company that is flexible. Traffic is a mess and I don’t get to work on time? No big deal. Need to leave for a doctor’s appointment or sick kid? No problem. Have to run errands during lunch? Make up the time at the end of the day or the next. They need you to work late… bank those hours and use them later. No big deal.

A comfortable environment and relaxed dress codes. People who work well together. Look for ways to help one another (not stab each other in the back). Enough space to spread out and get into work mode. Muffins and cookies from the staff, just because. Who take time to get to know each other and understand each others perspectives.

And of course, the reason we all go to work: money.

That is my new company. The American Academy of Family Physicians. Do you ever worry about doctors going out of business? I think not.

Folks here are some of the best damned bunch of people that I have worked with. They have gone out of their way to make me feel welcomed and at home. Best boss that I have had in ! And if you know anything about me, you know that I have had the pleasure, the opportunity, the luck to work with some of the finest people in the country. Not to mention some of the most awesome companies.

Did I mention that I have one of the top of the line MacBooks sitting on my desk? I will also be testing on iPads and iPhones and Android devices. Yeah… Windows 7 and 8 and 8.1, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cozy little office with natural lighting filtering from the window just behind me. No issues with turning out the lights above me either. Traffic from home to here takes me through a couple of the worst spots in the KC’s traffic patterns, so I have adjusted my schedule to come in early, and leave early to miss the rush hours. Had to go to my doctor’s office on Wednesday, so I left an hour early and stayed later the next day. Wasn’t a big deal to anyone.

By my third day, I had all the necessary programs installed and configured and was actually testing before the day was over. On my THIRD DAY. (Didn’t hurt that I have somewhat of a background and experience in the medical field.)

I have been assigned a pretty big project to work on next. Yep… all by myself (as QA). Spent a couple of hours with my developer and we’re on the same page and good to go.

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 3.17.42 PMAnd as the cherry on top of the whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles atop 32 flavors of ice cream is my salary. I have made this before, but in California in the defense industry. Never came close here in Missouri/Kansas. I won’t tell you exactly what I’m making, but suffice it to say that coming over to this assignment netted me a very nice increase in pay. The only downside is that I know I will never play hookey without a really good reason… that’s just way to much money to blow off!

Oh, yeah, and this is a contract position, but if all goes well, it may go FTE (full time employee). The budget for this project is quite handsome, let me tell you. I am excited to the point where it is hard to sometimes sit still! I am so ready to get going!face_surprise_black_white_line_art_coloring_book_colouring-555px

This week has just flown by. And that’s both good and bad. So much to do and I am am anxious to get moving. But I have this thing in front of my preventing me from doing so: the weekend.

 

MacCupcake

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An Ending To A Great Week and Other Musings

So, if you haven’t heard the news, I started a new job last Friday. I ended up getting a week off between the last job and this new one. Finally, for a change, I was the one who was pursued and it felt pretty damned good. I received a pretty healthy bump in pay, no $5 an hour on this one! And best yet, I have a Mac PowerBook, an iPhone and an iPad to do testing with! Yay! You cannot imagine how happy I am about this awesome turn of events.

I have, once again, been terrible about writing in this blog – actually both my blogs (if you’re interested in seeing my creative musings, please head over to OnMyCreativeSide blog). I’ve been using what little free time I have trying to finish my garage makeover, to be better able to use the space I have in my garage to share both my vehicles and be a space for working my crafts. I do a fair amount of large work – dressers, cabinets, desks and dollhouses – and have a nice little array of tools that tend to take up space (and make a mess) and leave me nowhere to park my cars inside. Well, it is being chronicled on my other blog, although until I actually make a real effort to complete it, the writing won’t be finished either.

I’ve been experiencing some symptoms of menopause lately, most notable a thing often referred to as “hot flashes”. Mine seem to be anything but a “flash” and rarely “hot”, but rather minutes of terse sweating like I’ve never known before. I can be reduced to looking like I stepped out of shower fully clothed, my hair soaking wet. This is not the kind of thing that I care to have happen at work, much less anywhere else.

The worst is the realization that my love life has come to a screeching halt. It isn’t that I don’t want to or that I cannot, it is just that with age and the menopause and two bad knees, the prospects are few and far between. If someone were to know that the last time you opt for a little love making was the last time, would you make a more special effort? Make it somehow more memorable and something to be cherished and looked back upon. How does one know when the last time is the last time? At least, for me, it wasn’t the last sour relationship that I had, but a friend who someone was there when he was needed.

Something in me still yearns for something new, something better, something adventurous. Nothing really keeps me tethered to this particular place and there is more than a little gnawing that makes me want to liquidate most of my belongings and head somewhere new and unknown, waiting to be explored and meet new people and friends and where I could start the last stage of my life. More than anything, I think, is the desire to learn something new. I have become much to complacent and accustomed to routine and route that I believe this must be the kind of life that eventually leads to slow and torturous death. I liken this state to the last few years that my parents experienced, a bit like waiting for each day to pass just to greet the next day with the same apathy.

I have in the back of my mind to give learning to speak German another honest try. I think that once I stop learning and challenging myself, is when I get the most yearning to seek out new adventures. My new place of employment is once again, very close to Longview College, where I took my last language class. It might at least temporarily satisfy my longing and wistful nature.

The other thing that I have driving me forward is a long laundry list of improvements and upkeep to the house, including painting the house and building a new, more elegant deck across the back of the house. I’d like to do a bit more landscaping in the back, as well, including planting a tree for Ashla, our forever puppy we lost around Christmas last year. A small tree grew in the rocks in front of the house and I have transplanted it and will nurture it until it is a little more set, sometime later this fall. It will be planted along with Ashla’s ashes and puppy print shaped stepping stones in the back yard. Neither The Kid nor I can bring ourselves to bring another dog into the house, way too much like trying to replace her. The house is definitely more quiet and less affectionate with her being gone.

Weekends just seem to last but a few minutes lately… so I’ll not dally more.MacCupcake

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Slept ‘Till Eleven…

There is nothing like a couple of days off with nothing on the ‘to do’ list. I went shopping for new work clothes and shoes, and have been working on the latest cross-stitch pattern while binge watching the nineties television show “Wings” (you remember that one, right?). Seriously enjoying these last few days.

Here is the cross stitch pattern that I working on… I absolutely love the cartoon “Shoe”. The artists that draw it are obvious fans of Apple products, as over the years, they have done many cartoons about iMac and iPhone and iPad. So I found a great one and managed to get it into a single frame and then printed on the gridded fabric.

Shoe iDebtHere is the actual cross-stitch… the photo is a little dark, but you can see how it is progressing. Normally, I wouldn’t put this kind of project in this blog, but this is really what I’ve spent the better part of the last three days working on. ๐Ÿ™‚

photo

All that is left is the tree branch (at the bottom) the logo, the bubble and words and then of course, the sky. I figure I am close to about half done. I’ve been extremely satisfied and happy to sit on the couch and do this needlework.

I am so excited about starting the new job on Friday. And to explain why it is Friday that I am starting my new job and not a Monday… the project that I will be working on is brand new and the kick-off Agile meeting is on Friday. The whole team will be together for the first time all at once for this meeting and I think I can expect that the meeting will pretty much take the entire day. I feel like a kid starting the first day of a new school and have a whole new group of people to meet and become friends with.

So, with that, I am heading off to bed for another ten or twelve hours of sleep! LOL!

MacCupcake

 

 

 

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Amazing Turn of Events

It is absolutely amazing what can happen in a day’s time. Or six weeks.

On the day that I interviewed with my current job, I also interviewed with a physicians’ group. It had some really attention grabbing details, but when it came right down to it, they offered the position to someone else. And it took a little time for them to let me know about their choice. So, as it turned out, it was good that I started the job.

I did a professional thing and sent the first group a ‘thank you’ note with one of my custom paint chip card (you can read about them here). And it paid off!

Last week, I was offered a position – albeit a contract role, but it looks like there could be plenty of work and a possibility that it could (eventually) go permanent. I hated leaving my old company – I couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of people. And the company had some real potential as well, but this new job holds some exciting possibilities.

So, I had to take the job! Understandably, the other company didn’t want to drag things out and there were security concerns, so when I let them know, I finished out the day and was done. I am looking forward to getting things in order between the garage makeover and things around the house before my first day next Friday! Weeee!

For now, though, I am looking forward to a solid night’s sleep. G’night!

MacCupcake

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