Friday, June 03, 2011

Another change in the wind

Alright, I know it's only been a year and a half since my last post which is a little quick for this blog, but I've got some pretty big changes going on right now.  It's just before lunchtime here at my desk, behind the control room of MG&E's West Campus Cogeneration Facility where I've worked for the last seven + years.  I've got to keep this fairly brief because sometime between now and noon and ice cream cake celebrating my imminent departure is going to be served.  That's right, my IMMINENT DEPARTURE.  I'm leaving Madison!  

About two months ago I got another email from a head hunter. I used to get them pretty regularly but I was very content working here and didn't have any plans to leave, so I updated my resume to include the words semi-retirement, and phrases like "...I may have gotten even lazier in the last few years". That pretty much did the trick. The offers slowed down considerably.  At least until early April when I got a invitation to apply for an instructor position with, of all companies, GE! My former employer.  I read the job description and felt that it was way out of my league (and it may be), but I was so flattered that they thought I may be a fit, I applied.  Within a couple days I had a phone interview in which I did not try too hard to sell myself. I was honest and didn't blow ANY smoke or spin ANY yarns.  I told them I've never taught in a classroom (but have taught plenty).  I was sure I would not hear from them again, and when asked if I would be willing to travel for an interview, thinking it was a rote question, I said sure.  The next day I had an invitation from GE to travel to Schenectady for a interview. IN FOUR DAYS!  All of a sudden, the possibility seemed much more real. Ever since my first interview to get hired into Stewart & Stevenson, I know that I interview well, and that if they like my resume (lazy and all) I should be fine, because there is no fluff or exaggeration in it. I started to feel very confident. 

  This is when I let my girlfriend Lisa know what was going on. I let her know when I was first contacted about the job, but traveling for an interview was a whole new thing.  She is such an amazing friend and companion that I was honest with her that if offered the job I would be taking it. I also let her know that if she wanted to come with, the invitation was there.  I knew she would need a lot of time to think about it so I wanted to put that right out there in front, even before the interview. (Did I say I was confident?)

   the invitation to interview mentioned that "since you are interviewing for a instructors position, you will give a brief (5 minutes) presentation on the topic of your choice.  I decided to gin up a instructional presentation about 4-20 milliamp signals.  A topic I know very well.  I hadn't used PowerPoint in years, but with the help of Google to find a template (as a starting point), I had a nice one made in a few hours.  In exchange for being my mock audience, I bribed Lisa with the promise of making another batch of my home made ice cream.  She was a ideal student and now knows more than she'll ever need to know (as a home day care provider)about 4-20 milliamp current loops, their uses, benefits, and pitfalls. 

While I'm pretty sure the bribe wasn't necessary, she accepted it anyway.  While getting ready to make the ice cream, I realized that it was a perfect thing to teach someone (even a prospective employer). Everyone eats ice cream, and almost no one knows, not only what's in it, but how it's made.  I decided to document the process with photos and bring them along with me to the interview in case I felt that a presentation on how to make awesome ice cream would go over better than the dry technical one.  This is the day before I flew to Schenectady.  Lisa was my helper and the bribe payout was really genuinely delicious. Heck, you should go ahead and read the instructable I made a week or so later, using those photos. It's fun, and can teach you how to make really good ice cream.

Shoot it's four minutes to noon, and I'm no where near finishing this back in a little bit.

Yummmmm!!!!! that was nice. They seem to sincerely wish me we well in my life. What a good group of people. I'll miss it here.

So then I travel out there and do really well on the interview. I got along well with everyone I spoke with, My presentation (4-20 milliamp) went so well I asked if they wanted to see the ice cream presentation, which they did, so I  walked them through the process. My high point was when someone said " I had no idea there were eggs in ice cream". When I returned home I decided to go ahead and send them the two remaining pints of ice cream.  I ran around and found a foam filled box of the right size (I love going to Walmart early in the morning when they're stocking. You can find almost any kind of box), some dry ice and a FedEx account.  With that I sent my coup de gras, the clincher ice cream.

After a few weeks I got the offer of employment.

Once I had that it became much more real. All I had to do now, was pass the drug and background checks.  I wasn't worried about the background check, but the fact that I hang out with people who smoke pot (quite a bit of it) and I am no stranger to the smell of it had me a little concerned.  Concerned enough that I bought a home pee test to check it out. According to the home test, I was fine (both the little pee stick, and the results from sending in my pee), so I feel okay now.

Lisa and I even managed to take a nice road trip out to Schenectady last weekend (memorial day). She already happened to have both Friday and Monday scheduled off, so I used up one of my remaining sick days and drove out there.  We left after all her day care kids were gone on Thursday. We drove to Cleveland, stayed overnight and continued on to Schenectady on Friday.  I checked us into a dive motel (The StarDust), but we had to check out quickly after a chipmonk ran from the bathroom across the room, right in front of Lisa's eyes. Shoot!  It's been a week now and she's almost able to laugh about it, but trust me when I say, she was NOT a happy girl at all right then.

Once we were checked into a nice Holiday Inn, everything started getting better, and never stopped.  We had dinner at a local drive-in called Jumpin' Jacks. That place is fun, it's old school drive-in through and through.  the staff has funny names for the food orders. When I ordered a fish dinner, they yelled something about a "Whale" to the cooks.  The also yell out something when people give a tip (I think), and the food was tasty too.

The next morning we met with a realtor for the sole purpose of learning the lay of the land. We did that, but in the process I found the house I want to buy.. It's 12 Tieman rd, in the Town of Glenville. It's got some issues that I can see, but I see it's potential, and I think it's a steal at what their asking for it, but nobody (except apparently the owner) also see that. It's been on the market for well over a year, and I hear it was a FSBO for two years before that. It's basicly a three level brick colonial with three great fireplaces, awesome windows, almost 5 acres of wooded property, a large garage, two small outbuildings (both with garage doors, and one with a bathroom), a (filled with dirt) inground pool, and about 1000 feet of flat stone retaining walls.  The interior is lined in EVERY room with wood paneling. The carpet looks like it may be original 1967, and is gold with embossed paisley things. It's got a serious alarm system, and a cool old nuTone intercom system to almost every room.  I WANT IT.

Well it's almost 3:00pm now and I better finish this up if I want to leave my last day on time.  I've got about 3/4ths of my stuff moved into Lisa's garage right now. I've got to run home after work because while Lisa and I are going to Argyle tomorrow, My brother, his wife and kids are going to be staying at my condo tonight and maybe tomorrow so they can go to "Cows on the concourse" up on the Capitol square. Right now it's messier than I'd like, so I'm going to go load up some more stuff, clean up a little, and clear out for them to enjoy Madison.

I'm planning on driving the Blue Beasty (what Lisa calls my Land Rover Defender 90) out to New York next Thursday (I'm going to take three days as driving that (alone) will be a little more taxing that the BMW).  I will report for my first day of work (as an instructor teaching GE folks about turbine control systems) on Monday June 13th. Just before I started this blog post I was corresponding with my future boss. I noticed that he CC:ed another email address in the email to me. It was my new work email address. I thought that was cool, especially because in the email he mentioned that my new computer was in his office (he even said he was jealous).  I hope it goes well. I hope I excel at this new role. I intend to try hard

I'll let you know how it turns out.

See ya.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Alright. Here I am a few years later. I'm still in Madison and I still think that it was the right decision to move here. I'm glad this blog (although not actually online for a few years) is becoming my long term sounding board. Every time I come back and take a look. It's after having been nearly forgotten about, again! Each time it's like getting a letter from myself. I like it.  I'm almost tempted to NOT start making regular entries, but conversely, I AM tempted to start making regular entries.  For now, I'll satisfy my blogging urges with a new blog I'm making to cover my NASA road trip.  I want to share my experiences as I prepare, and then go on an old school road trip to 'cover' the last night time launch of a space shuttle.  Check it out.

As I said, I'm still in Madison and have been here the whole time. I still miss traveling in the same way I miss smoking (which I was still doing when I started this blog). I know that I could probably pick either of them right back up again, if I'm weak.  I just got back from a week in Acapulco with my entire immediate family. It was great! I love my parents so much. Much more than I disliked them when I was a kid.

My folks, being the suckers they are, own a time share vacation property there. Three years ago they arranged it so they had a couple rooms and invited everyone to come down for a week. We were our own as far as travel expenses to get there. Other than that, they would cover the cost. How nice huh? We all did it. It was the first air trip I had taken (I think) since moving to Madison. My well used passport was just about to expire (my how time flies) and the US government had decided that now, a passport was required to get back from Mexico. On top of that, I was prospecting for Madison's premier motorcycle club, The C.C. Riders. (more on that later). I mention it because being a 'good' prospect was important to me, so I arranged my travel to and from Mexico, so that I wouldn't miss either the Friday (Jan 12 2007) meeting, or the following one. I also was concerned about the plants growing in my former bathroom being left un attended, but that also, is another story (a historical story).  Anyway the trip turned into one of those travel horror stories. Me, the former globetrotter, was nearly reduced to a quivering mass by American Airlines. I cant remember (or choose not to) all the details of the mess, but the gist of it was this:  I was delayed by almost two days, and then when I finally got there, on Monday afternoon, my luggage didn't! Of course, I didn't have anything useful in my carry on (I'd obviously gotten way out of practice) so I had to depend on a cab driver to take me shopping at the Acapulco Walmart. (yes, they ARE everywhere) There, I picked up the essentials, which amounted to shorts, a tee shirt or two, and a toothbrush. (I still have the shorts). Now, knowing that my flight home was on Thursday (to make the Friday meeting) I only had two full days there, and without my stuff.     I assume I had some fun, but I honestly don't remember it. The trip home was a blur. A horrible trip.  Imagine my joy, when, last year, I was informed that we're doing it again. Uhhhgg.

So,  now it's January of 2010 and we were about to do it again. Same set up. The folks are covering everything except airfare. (God bless 'em). This time however, it all went perfectly. Maybe I got my own karma payback from the last trip (is that how it works?) I still stayed for the Friday club meeting (but now I'm a full member), and flew out early Saturday morning. My flight took off from Madison, for Chicago, at around six am. The temperature was something like negative five (Fahrenheit, not that wussy Celsius scale either). I broke my 'no fast food' oath in order to enjoy some Mickey Deez in the terminal. My layover was long enough to enjoy my breakfast, do some awesome people watching, and get started on the book 'The Good German'. Finally, I went to the gate so that I could keep watch for my brother and his family to show up. See, we were all on the same flight to Acapulco. They live in Lisle, IL so no connection for them. Sure enough, here they come. The lovely family. There is my Brother, his wife, and their two beautiful kids, the oldest, at almost three, was a big bump in her mothers belly the last time we were all in Acapulco. The youngest, a boy, had only turned one a few months ago. (I know because I was there at the party, and helped to keep the bouncy house inflated). So there we are, the modern family, having a reunion in a airport terminal. It was really nice. They ended up sitting right behind me on the four+ hour flight. I didn't even mind the small amount of kicking and screaming that was inevitable. I'm so glad that my brother is a good dad. He loves his kids a lot. This time, with the exception of some abnormally rough turbulence, there was not a single hitch in the travel. Not only for me and my brother's family, but EVERYONE got there without incident, even my other sister's family, who had like three connections to make.  I'm not entirely sure if the good service myself and my family got, was quite good enough for American Airlines to be absolved of the horrible previous trip, but they've definitely gotten very close. There was even a good movie on the flight that I hadn't even heard of: "Shorts" it was fresh and good. They must have someone very cool making decisions there. Good job!

On that flight I also popped the cherry on my very first American Express card. Again, this is would probably be best in it's own entry but the gist of it is: The couple bad marks on my credit, both expired (after 7 years) in December of '09. When that happened, my FICO score shot up (to 785) and I decided to take it out for a drive. I applied for two new credit cards. A Costco American Express (for the 3% cash back on any gas purchase, and no anual fees), and a Simmons Platnum Visa (with a low 7.25% interest rate). I got both (although the Simmons didn't show up until after I was back home) Both of these cards are pretty exclusive, and I'm honored to carry them, but plan to not use them much, for fear of my irresponsibleness (word?). Wish me luck. So, even though I've never been a fan of buying things on airplanes (especially SkyMall), I decided to break in my Am-ex, by purchasing, for 4 dollars, a cheese and nut assortment. I just thought it was a cool thing to do.

I also used that 785 FICO to refinance my condo. I was 5 years into a 15 year fixed rate (5.0%), so I decided to refinance to a ten year fixed (4.4%) and roll the balance of what I owe on my awesome new car (A 2008 BMW 135i convertible. But that also is another story). I put a lot down on the car, so I don't owe what I'm sure people think I do on it.  I still, would rather have the title in my name. (thanks for the values, dad). Plus, I do have to admit, I did over extend myself a little bit financially to get it.  I found myself without cash in my pocket, which I didn't like. After a lot of thought I decided it was the right move. (I guess, we'll see how that works out.) I close this Friday. The appraisal was Wednesday and my home was a mess, but even in this shit economy, it was appraised for about 20 grand more than I paid for it five years ago. Whew! (that's funny, as I wrote that my phone buzzed telling me I had a new email. Upon checking, I see the appraiser has sent me a copy of the appraisal)

Anyway, my brother's family and myself made it to the Grand Mayan resort just as planned.  Although the driver at the airport wasn't holding a sign with our name on it like we were led to expect, we found him anyway. There's way too much to write about how splendidly nice and relaxing that week was, so I'll just list who all was there. Without using their names, just for fun:

  1. Me
  2. My brother
  3. His wife (no bun in the oven as far as I know)
  4. Their oldest. A precocious, adorable, blond haired, blue eyed, future heart breaker.
  5. Their newest. A baby who is destined to be quite a handful, I think.
  6. My oldest sister. Who lives in McFarland near here.
  7. Her life partner. Yep that's right, and we're all cool with it. She's cool.
  8. My other sister (she's older than me)
  9. Her partner. No she's not gay too, but she's not married. Although you couldn't tell by watching. He's a good guy, with a good heart.
  10. His daughter from a previous marriage. She's 16, pretty, and had never been out of the country before. She, with her wide eyes and bright smile, made friends with surfers on the beach. She doesn't live with my sister and her man.
  11. My sister's son. He's nine and thinks I'm the coolest guy in the world. How could I not love that!! We spent a lot of time together.
  12. My mom. Nuff said
  13. My dad.

I feel so blessed, and I'm not even religious (it didn't take). The trip home (this time on Saturday afternoon) was just as perfect as the trip there. At least for me. My brother and his clan were, again, on the same flight as me. Unfortunately my sister in law had gotten sick (but not from the coconut juice I got by sawing open the coconut my sister found somewhere, because she didn't drink any).  She had a miserable start to the trip home. Afterward she said in an email that I deserved an award for what I had seen (what that was; I'm not saying). Fortunately they had a entire row of seats on the plane, and she was able to lie down and get some rest.  Amazingly I also had my own row of seats, as well as my Brother (shared by the kids, of course).

OK, obviously a lot has happened since my last post. Another thing is I've met a girl. Well technically I haven't met her yet. Again, it's a whole story as to how we were introduced which would, again, take way too long to write. The summary is that a real person that I met in the real world got her to contact me, on line(back in 2008). Since then (with a long break of almost a year) we've been corresponding via email. We're about to meet this Sunday for the first time. We're going to go see a matinée of Avatar, and then who knows. I hope to have good things to report the next time I write on here.

I still ride my bike to work (though not today because, again, I broke my rule about eating out by going to Mickeys Dairy Bar for breakfast. But that too is probably another story).

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Well, I've been living in Madison for a while now, and all is great. The job I took here is everything I could of hoped for in a non 'road' job. I have started to create a normal life here. I have been riding my bicycle to work everyday, even in the snow. It's a great way to get to work I always arrive invigorated and ready for the day. The only thing that I can foresee that will prevent me from bicycling to work come spring and summer is if I choose to ride my other bike. My other bike is a shiny new Harley Davidson Softail Springer Classic (FLSTSCI). I bought it as a christmass present to myself.

I have several different routes that I use when I bicycle to and from work. Since it has been cold, I have been following the shortest (almost) one. This route is about 3 miles each way. I leave my condo on the Isthmus, go past the Kohl center and the S.E.R.F. center (which I'll get into later), then through Camp Randall, accross University Ave, behind Babcock hall and the Stock pavillion, Past the Dairy barn, the Veterinary medicine building, and in front of the Natatorium. Before it got cold, I had several other routes set up, up to about 10 miles in length. The one I used most often follows John Nolan west along Lake Monona, then turns onto the Wingra creek bike path (where the city will build it's new swimming pool) to Wingra park, through the park and over the hill on Spooner St. in the Regent neighborhood, over the cool pedestrian bridge that spans Campus ave., and there I meet up with my other route by the dairy farm.
Over the years of travelling and eating on expense account, I had gotten myself FAT, and WAY out of shape. This is one of the reasons I chose to ride a bike to work. I have also been trying to figure out how to get access to the Universities awesome rec facilities, which are for students only. These include the shell at Camp Randal, The S.E.R.F (South...

Sunday, September 26, 2004

My how things change. I am now living in Madison Wisconsin. I quit my globetroting job and started working for a local complany here. It's been about 6 months now. It all started with the talk of moving to New York. When I told my boss of my plans to leave the complany and move to New York, he asked me why. I told him that I didn't want to live in California anymore. He responded by offering me the opportunity to relocate anywhere in the counry I wanted. At company expense! I pretty quickly decided that I didn't want to live in New York while travelling for work. So, after much conscideration I decided to move to Madison Wisconsin (much much conscideration). I Sold my house in California and spent about a year working on projects overseas while having no home at all, just a series of hotel rooms. When I finally got back in the US, I stayed with my sister who lives near Madison, while I started looking for a home. After I found my home I happend to find a opportunity to work permanantly in Madison. After MUCH MUCH conscideration I left my job and took a new one here. I feel kind of bad for my previous employer, GE, but the way things all transpired to put me in Madison felt eerily like fate.  And everyone knows, you do not mess with fate.  I've been in that job for a few months now and all seems well. Of course my biggest concern is the lack of travel and new experiences on the scale I have become accustom to. I hope I don't get bored.

Friday, January 30, 2004

This is a test to see if Roadrunner is still ginving me space for free. By the way, I'm in Bursa Turkey right now, I've been here for about 2 months. Before that I was home for a week at Thanksgiving. Before that I was in Italy for a couple months. Before that I was on the Greek island of Crete for a few months.