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it was a good ride... [Oct. 10th, 2007|12:05 am]
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[Current Location |Home]
[mood |okayokay]

After a bit over 8 years with the company I am no longer a Dell employee

It seems that Dell has made a business decision that they no longer need our services and have laid off my entire department. Rumors of upcoming cuts had been circulating for awhile but most had only indicated 30-50%. While this isn't the first time we have had these sorts of rumors, this time they were serious enough that even all the managers started taking their vacation time, even the ones who normally never take it. As the days rolled by, the rumors got more dire, that the entire XPS support group and a large part of the Gold Tech Support group as well would be going. Many of the rumors said that part of the reason was to make room for sales. This makes some sense as Nashville is the most expensive support site but, conversely, sales here is easily an order of magnitude or more better than any other sales site in the company.

It wasn't until last Friday that I realized how screwed we were. One of my good friends at work who we call "Pooch" has a lot of contacts and found out that several of the large conference rooms downstairs had been reserved for all day on Tuesday by HR. On top of that came the (unofficial) news that they had closed two of the sales only call centers, Waco and one other one, Roseburg maybe but I don't really remember. Putting all these together, things were looking grim indeed.

It was when we came in to work on Monday that we knew it was really going to happen. Our manager got walked just a few minutes after my shift was supposed to start. He wasn't the only one. By mid-afternoon, there was only one manager left in our support group and he was there to close the queue. Most of our coaches also started disappearing through the day with only a handful left going into evening. Word on the street was that they were all being told to come in at 8 am the next morning. And then the phone calls started. People who were normally scheduled to be off on Tuesday were getting calls asking them to report to their desks for a mandatory meeting at their normal shift time the next day.

Now, well before this it was pretty obvious what was happening. Mind you if we tried to ask or suggest anything was amiss the response was basically, "I don't know what you're talking about." Yeah. Right. Sure. Wink wink nudge nudge. To say that people were goofing off Monday afternoon and evening would be something of an understatement. We were playing phone games, sitting in after call wrap, jumping into various aux codes, whatever. We knew were were killing our stats but, then, WTF did it matter at that point. We all knew what was coming anyways. Most people DID take calls, we just spent a lot of time NOT taking calls too. In a way, though, I can say it was one of the most enjoyable days of work I've had. Since we knew that nothing we did really mattered, we were able to kick back and just try to have a bit of fun too. After all, what were they going to do, write us up?

So, anyways, I took the kids to school this morning and went back to bed but got awoken by a call from Pooch about 10:45 asking if I wanted to meet him and a few of us all go in together. So I got up, got dressed, and headed in. I was the first to arrive. While I was sitting on the stairs waiting for the others, one guy walked out, let out a whoop and exclaimed "At last I'm finally free of this place!" That sentiment seemed to be pretty common actually. I guess maybe that says a lot about what a drain it was on one's soul. Certainly morale has not been especially good the last few months.

Once we had all got there (only three of us, several others had already gone earlier), we went in and walked around to say our goodbyes to a few folks. HR finally found us and we all went to the conference room for a short presentation about what was happening and that our employment was terminated effective today and to go over the severance package. While I'm not at liberty to fully discuss it, I will say that I get a couple months pay and if I agree not to try to sue them, headhunt from them, and so forth then I could get some additional severance based on my tenure and two months of outplacement assistance. All in all I think they were fairly generous with what we were offered.

So I don't bear the company any ill will and would even consider going back. I'm not sure about sales, but I might try going for some of the business sales positions, those guys can make some SERIOUS bank ($100k/yr is not unusual from what I understand). I would never touch consumer sales though. Still, I haven't really decided what I'm going to do yet. I have a few friends in the tech industry I've asked to keep an eye out for something for me. I may also see if I can take advantage of the downtime to try to get some sort of tech services business going, though I expect that I will still have to try to find a real job too. For now, though, I am going to put in a few apps and then I think I may take a couple of days to relax and maybe play the stay at home dad. Not too long, though. I don't want all my ex-coworkers sucking up all the available technical jobs in the city.

So that's my day. In the words of Pooch, "It was a good ride, playa."
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shoulder injury update - surgery? [Feb. 6th, 2007|09:05 am]
For anyone that doesn't know, I managed to injure myself caving back in Dec. There was a ledge that went up around a waterfall inside the cave. It's really low and you had to basically belly crawl over it. Unfortunately, it was also rather slick with mud and I almost slid off. I grabbed a rock to stop my slide off the ledge, but managed to injure my shoulder in the process because my arm was way outstretched over a gap and supporting my upper body. I likely made it worse when I pushed myself back up.

Anyways, I had gone to the Dr and she gave me an anti inflammatory for it and it helped but it wasn't really getting any better beyond a certain point. I called her back after a month and was referred to an orthopedist. He sent me for an MRI and I went back to get my results this morning and just got back from the doctor's office.

Apparently the injury was worse than I had expected. He said that I had torn the cartilage pretty badly almost halfway around the shoulder socket and that there is apparently a piece of bone floating around in there too. My options are basically to live with it or to have surgery. The surgery itself is arthroscopic (so only a couple of small, one inch or so incisions) and is done as an outpatient procedure. About as minor as surgery gets basically, only one step above having your wisdom teeth cut out. To me, the former isn't really an option. No serious caving , likely will have problems throwing overhand, etc. If I was 80 then, yeah, probably live with it. But being 30, somewhat active and having kids?

My wife and I are going to talk it over but most likely I will be having the surgery. At this point I'm scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on the morning of the 21st. Sad thing is that being arthroscopic and outpatient, I probably won't even get the good drugs. ;-)
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shoulder injury [Dec. 28th, 2006|06:05 am]
Remember how I said I had hurt my shoulder caving? Well it hadn't gotten any better so I finally broke down and went to the doctor on Tuesday. After I explained the situation and she examined me, she said she felt I had a torn rotator cuff. :-( Thankfully she said it wasn't bad and wouldn't need surgery or anything (yay for that). She gave me an anti-inflammatory and a refill on my Adderall. I haven't gotten the former filled yet, though. Money is a bit tight, what with the holiday and everything.

And I still haven't figured out what to give my wife for our anniversary which is coming up on Sunday. Yeah, I'm gonna be so dead.
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Autozone sucks [Dec. 21st, 2006|03:14 am]
[mood |pissed offpissed off]

I had an awful experience at Autozone this morning. One of our vehicles is a 98 Durango. Like any SUV, it's pretty heavy, easily over 5000 lbs with gas and people in it I'm sure. Anyways, the truck has been really hard on brakes. I have had to replace them several times over the last few months. I think I'm averaging maybe 4 months or so per set. Definitely abnormal. At first I thought we might have been installing them wrong, but the last time I made sure that wasn't the case. And, face it, a brake job is not rocket science. The brake pads I had were, admittedly the cheaper ones they sell. At the time of the initial change, money was very tight and it was all I could afford at the time. I might be totally off base here, but my feeling on the reason for the short life is that, simply, the truck is too heavy for those brake pads. Being lower quality, they're going to be softer and not offer as much stopping power. That means that to accomplish the same stop, you have to apply more braking pressure which is much harder on the brakes.

I got to the store and was greeted by what appeared to be the only employee there. I believe his name was Steve and his tag said that he was a store manager. So far so good. I explained the situation to Steve and he went and pulled me up in the computer system. He then said that I had been getting them every 4 months and that I must be using my vehicle for commercial use. I explained that no, it's entirely personal use and the only deliveries being made are my kids, mainly to and from school. Despite this, Steve wouldn't let it drop. He went on about how he has taxi drivers that try to pull that trick (when was the last time you saw a Durango being used as a taxi?). No matter what I told him, he basically kept coming back to the same thing, that I must be using the vehicle commercially. I thought I had finally convinced him. I explained why I felt that the cheap pads were at fault and I would like to upgrade to better ones. His response was basically, "No pad is going to last any longer when you're driving that many miles." I tried to convince him to let me buy the better pads but he simply wouldn't. He went back, got the same cheapo pads again, and proceeded to ring me out.

I went home with my new purchase, still stewing over the whole thing. I REALLY did not appreciate being all but called a liar. Finally I decided screw it. I went to Advanced Auto Parts (which is much closer to my house anyways) and the guy there was nothing but helpful. I ended up walking out of there with a nice set of Bendix brake pads. Cost me $75 with tax, but I'm equally sure they are far higher quality. The cheap Duralast pads I had been getting had another fault, they gave no noticeable warning when they started to wear down. Where most pads will squeal, these never did (none of the 4 sets of these I went through did). The result of this lack of warning is that the first you know that you need new brakes is when it starts grinding and chewing up your rotor. So I had to go out and purchase a new rotor as well. No way in hell was I going to Autozone again. So back to Advanced and bought a nice (if expensive, $130 for the pair) set of Bendix rotors to go with my pads. I have a set of those on my car and they have been MUCH better, lasting through two or three sets of brake pads with little noticeable degradation. So I know they're going to be good quality, certainly far better than the cheap store brands. I guess time will tell if they truly work better, but thus far the signs have been promising.

So, yeah, that's my story. I took the pads back. Unfortunately the manager wasn't the one to handle the return, but I made sure to wait for him to finish what he was doing and tell him exactly why I was returning the pads. I told him that I had decided to return them because he was being a dick and that I should thank him because his being rude is what got me to go out and get those better quality parts. I guess he didn't care for my bitching at him because rather than face me and deal with it as he should, even if just to apologize, he just ducked away into the building and disappeared (after half-heartedly denying that he kept accusing me of commercial usage of my vehicle). At this point I really don't know that I will be returning to the store. I have a $20 gift card still in my wallet waiting to be used. I need to use that I suppose but I know it won't be at that location for sure. And once that card is gone I doubt I will be returning anytime soon. That's a shame for them, too, since I've typically bought most of my auto parts from them in the past (despite warnings from more than one professional mechanic about cheap quality).
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The Top 10 3D Sidewalk Illusions Ever [Dec. 20th, 2006|07:01 pm]
I ran across these tonight. Most of them are just...wow!

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de pain! [Dec. 15th, 2006|01:46 am]

Oh my god. I am so very very sore right now. My arms and shoulders are agony every time I move. My legs too, but not nearly as badly. I'm sure you're wondering why. Well, I've taken up a new sport, caving. I went on my first trip last night, to a cave in Antioch called Swirl Canyon Cave. Somewhere I had gotten the idea that it would be a nice, pretty easy cave. Um..no.

We met at the Shoney's at Hickory Hollow mall. I started to get worried when I was asked about the need for kneepads and was told that we had to crawl about 100 ft to even get into the cave. Yay. So we get to the cave and park in a field nearby. Everybody geared up and then a short hike into the ravine where the cave was. Some trouble with getting the gate opened but we finally got in there. The initial crawl was a bit rough. There was a bit of water flowing through so I had to be careful crawling, trying to avoid getting too wet. Once we got past that point, we were all able to stand up.

As there were about a dozen of us on this trip, we decided to split up. A few of the guys wanted to go one way, our trip leader had planned to go the other. Since there were so many, we split up. I went with the leader. One thing about this cave, it was very much a wet cave. There was a small stream that ran all through it. At first I tried to avoid getting into the water, I was wearing tennis shoes after all, with some success. But it quickly became obvious that if I wanted to go through this cave I was just going to have to bit the bullet and get my feet wet. So I did. The water was cold, but not as much so as I had really expected, and it was warmer than I think a stream on the surface would have been at this time of year. Plus my shoes acted as a sort of wetsuit to help keep my feet warm too.

The cave was fairly tight. I can see how it got the name Swirl Canyon, though. Much of the area we walked through was narrow, maybe a couple of feet wide for the most part, and went up 10 or 15 feet, often spreading out somewhat well above our heads. Not all of it was that way, of course, not even necessarily a majority, but a largish percentage, yeah. There weren't really too many little side passages that we could really access so getting lost wasn't too much of a concern. Well, that and most members of the group had been in there before.

Some ways into the cave, we came to a room with a large pool, maybe 15 feet across and an unknown depth. There was a smallish waterfall running down one wall into the pool. The cave continued beyond the pool but it was a few feet higher on that side and to get there we had to belly crawl along a ledge that went around the pool and was maybe 15 inches high. To make matters worse it was muddy and slippery and sloped slightly towards said pool. Got around that without incident and we continued on. Just past the pool, there was a branch in the path. The larger path went off to the right and going ahead straight it got somewhat smaller. We went right. A lot of crawling and climbing later we finally decided to turn back, even though we could still continue. Those with more experience weren't certain we were on the right path. We were going to take the other path at the waterfall but on our way back we ran into members of the other group. Turns out they had already been down the other path and it dead ended after a couple hundred feet. So it HAD to be the way we were going.

About face again and back the way we came. Amazingly, we didn't manage to follow the same path we took previously but still got there, though there was a little consternation when we didn't recognize landmarks we had passed the first time. Eventually we got back there and a few hundred feet past where we had turned back we started to encounter some really nice formations. Until this point, they had been VERY limited, an occasional stalactite/stalagmite or more commonly a soda straw. When we finally made it to the last room, the formations were incredible. Unfortunately I couldn't get all the way in to the area because of the limited amount of room and all the people ahead of me. But what I could see was just...wow! It made all the crawling over rocks and through the mud worth it. I really wish I had a camera to get some pictures, but at least one person did so I will try to post up a few if I can. I've decided that if I'm going to continue in this sport I'm going to have to purchase myself an inexpensive, decent quality digital camera to take with me to document these trips. One other site in the cave that was truly gorgeous is what I have dubbed the observatory room. It is a small room where the ceiling is covered with minerals, gypsum maybe. The minerals are very sparkly and if you're not shining your light directly on them, the spill from the beam causes them to glitter wildly. It looks like the ceiling is covered with tiny little stars. I don't even know if you could capture an image like that with a camera properly.

I did have one scary moment. On the way back around the waterfall on our way back, I almost fell. I had about reached the far side when I slid towards the ledge. I managed to reach out and catch myself on an outcropping before I went over but strained my shoulder in the process. And then I made it worse by trying to push myself back to regain my position. I didn't fall, but I sure paid for it. In hindsight, I probably would have been better to just slide my legs on down ahead of me and dropped into the pool. It was not very deep at that point, I just didn't want to go back out of the cave into the cold night air with my pants all wet. Or any more than I was already at least. Plus, well, I didn't think about it. When you're sliding uncontrolled towards a precipice, even one that's not even 10 ft high, deliberately dropping off is sort of the last thing to go through your mind. So, yeah, that's part of why I'm so sore. I can barely lift my right arm without a jolt of pain. :-(
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Where do I know you from? [Dec. 14th, 2006|05:35 am]
You know the feeling. You meet someone around town somewhere and you're absolutely CERTAIN you know them from somewhere but can't remember where. I ran into that again last night. I went to Mickey D's about 3:30 or so in the morning to get some lunch. There is a guy who works there, I've seen him many times before, who I'm certain I know from somewhere (besides McDonalds). Every time I see him down there, it bugs the crap out of me. I hate it when I can't quite remember something like that. It's not just that either. I can be watching a movie and there will be an actor or actress that I know I've seen in another movie before but I won't be able to place them. It drives her nuts because I inevitably have to get up and look it up or try to access it through my phone if I can and really don't want to get up. Don't get me wrong, I love my phone, it's a sweet piece of technology. But the screen is only 2.8" and at 320x240 it really doesn't work well for surfing the web, few if any pages really render correctly on it which makes it hard to use.

Anyways, I get up to the Window and pay for my food and I just couldn't take it anywhere. I told him that I felt sure we had met somewhere before. Then we did the usual running through possible mutual friends, schools, job, etc. In the end, we never did figure it out and just guessed that maybe we had smoked together at some point in the past. Not real satisfactory, but I suppose that's the best I will manage.
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MARIJUANA: SEX-CRAZING DRUG MENACE! [Nov. 30th, 2006|02:51 am]
“How about a little drag of love-weed?”

The girls didn’t like the sound of it.

“Aw,” said their host, “that’s just a nickname. Some call it love-weed, some call it greefa, some call it muggles. It just gives you a little extra kick— that’s all. Makes the music sound better. Take a whiff. One won’t do you any harm, anyhow.”

Janet was still unconvinced. But, after all the others had passed a cigarette from lip to lip, she yielded, rather than be called a “sissy.”

The acrid smoke made her cough.

“Whew!” she said. “You can keep them.”

“Try again,” was the reply. “Hold it longer this time. You’ll be wild about it.”

True enough, this time it didn’t taste so bad. But, as she breathed out the last of the pungent smoke, tasting something like stale coffee flavored with licorice, she resolved she would experiment no more.

The resolve came too late. With that last inhalation of the insidious, poisonous fumes, her will-power dropped away from her like a rent garment, leaving her a tractable, pliant creature, as exposed to chance suggestion as if her soul had been naked to the wind.

Again, she breathed in that treacherous, stinging vapor, surrendering herself and her youthful senses to its imperious, idiot power.

“Love-weed?” she thought. “Is this love?” Stripped of inhibitions, her ego clamored to be informed. Reality mingled with delusion, lending false glamour to the voice, the touch, and the dope-dazed kisses of her companion.

Time passed—but with no sense of time. She found herself on a dance floor, dancing with a man she had never seen before. It seemed an eternity between each beat of the music. Other men— strangers—approached her. She was passive in their hands.

The rest is too horrible to tell. Even the victim did not tell it all herself. But she confided enough to enable investigators to piece out the rest from her companions and from employees of the road-house.
Obviously they went to the same bad metaphor school as your average Harlequin Romance author. It reminds of those bad writing awards they give out every year.

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Outlook 2007 spam filter silliness [Nov. 25th, 2006|11:31 pm]
[Current Location |home]
[mood |exhausted3 hrs of sleep today]
[music |SNL on the TV]

I was setting up my Outlook 2007 on my system after installing Vista RTM. Like previous versions, it gives you the option to test your email settings when you're setting the account up by sending a test message. Like always, I did that. After enabling the spam filter, I set out cleaning my mailbox and creating rules, etc. So what happened when I clicked on the test message to delete it?

Yep. It considers it's own test message to be spam.

Okay, in the interest of full disclosure I had set the filter level from low to high but it still should have recognized itself as being safe.
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Stupidest anti-gay ad ever? [Nov. 1st, 2006|08:11 am]
There is a measure on the ballot here in Tennessee to put a constitutional amendment in place that would forbid the state from ever making gay marriages legal or even of ever recognizing one performed in another state where they are. Mind you, that is already in place as a law, but that's not good enough. They want to take it to the state constitution. Sure, and after that we can work on the amendment that refuses to recognize evolution. Ooh, and we have to add one to make being gay illegal, or at least to allow us all to discriminate against them.

So anyways,  I was on the way home from work this morning (after being there for 15 hrs). The early traffic report came on the station I happened to be tuned to. The spot went something to the effect of that some pro-family group wants to remind you that there will be no more people if men and women stop having babies and so therefore we should vote yes on that amendment.

I kid you not. Their argument was there will be no more people if we don't forever ban gay marriages. Cause, apparently, homosexuals just REALLY want to marry and if they can't marry they will settle down with a nice girl/guy of the opposite sex and pop out lots of cute little straight, protestant Christian babies. And conversely, apparently the other 98% of us just can't seem to make enough babies to carry on the human race without them.

It's all just a bunch of stupid BS. Who are we to tell two consenting adults that their love is less real just because they both have the same plumbing? If they both love each other and want to enter into a committed relationship with the same level of commitment as a straight couple why SHOULDN"T they be allowed to get married and gain the benefits of being so (as well as the downsides)?

Oh, I know, I know. Marriage is a "sacred institution." Let's look at that, shall we? Sacred generally pertains to religion. So what is really being said here, then, is that marriage is a religious institution. Well that IS a problem since, you see, being religious means the government can't endorse it. So, really, NOBODY should be recognized by the government as being "legally married" for the simple reason that they would be endorsing religion by doing so. Here is what we do about that. We pass a law that also grants all marriages the legal title of civil union. The government joins any two people that desire and pay the requisite fees in a civil union. It would be recognized by the government in the same way that a marriage is now. The only difference is that marriage can only be performed by some sort of priest,  minister, rabbi, witch doctor or whatever. That protects marriage as a sacred institution. Anyone that doesn't want to go through a religious institution can go get married by a justice of the peace, just like now.

Meh, they'll never allow that as long as they choose to remain frightened of it (which, ultimately, they are). It really is the only practical, fair solution but it will sadly never happen anytime soon.Certainly not as long as the Christian right remains in control. One can only hope that the next election takes more seats away from the Republicans. Having a majority in both houses and the Presidency is bad no matter WHAT party is in control. I would prefer to see some independents get in there, maybe some people from the Libertarian and Green parties. But failing that, I suppose getting some more Democrats in there can help restore the balance of power.

In the mean time, I encourage you to check out the Libertarian and Green Parties. And get out and Vote next Tuesday if not before.
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