Posts categorized “* Personal”.

The New Job – Honeymoon

Friday at 5pm I get a chat from my manager, “Join this call in progress.” OK.  My manager and another manager are on the line. “Andrew we need you to get to a customer site for Monday at 9:00 AM.” OK. “Where am I going?” He said, “The customer is in Honolulu.”

Silence.

My manager got upset. “I’d be jumping up and down screaming like I won the lottery if I was just told I was going to Hawai’i. I think I’m going to drop what I’m doing, pick up the manuals and go to Hawaii myself to do your job!”

I replied cautiosly, “I asked where I was going. [He] answered ‘the customer is in Hawai’i.’ I’m still waiting for the other shoe to fall. Like the customer is in Hawai’i, but I’ll be going to their datacenter in Alaska.”

I was also told I could stay a few extra days – the airfare was covered, I just couldn’t expense the hotel or meals for the extended stay. Which would have been great, if Saturday wasn’t Valentine’s Day.

So, I worked all weekend, packing, arranging last minute travel, doing research, preparing to be successful at work, etc.  I left the house at 8:00 AM Eastern time and arrived in Hawai’i 16 hours later at 12:00 AM Eastern time (the following day). Not a fun commute to work.

One connecting flight

One connecting flight

It was a very long flight. During it, I thought to pull out my car’s GPS and hold it to the window to get some satellite reception. I’ve got a Garmin and if you hold your finger on the signal strength on the first screen, you get into this hidden menu that shows the satellites, their signal strength, your location, speed and elevation.

You can see on Google Maps, right where I was when I took the photo of my GPS below: http://goo.gl/0WuDjy.

Geek out!

The secret screen on my GPS

The secret screen on my GPS

Off the Coast of Mexico

Off the Coast of Mexico

A very, very, very long flight indeed. But I had power in my seat, and I had brought my DC/AC converter for the rental car. I had no idea I needed it for the plane. So I had power the whole flight, which was very nice.

In the home-stretch, just over an hour away

In the home-stretch, just over an hour away

Nothing around for miles

Nothing around for miles

My hotel was spectacular, a short walk from the beach at Wikiki.  The view of the city was wonderful.

Panoramic View off my balcony

Panoramic View off my balcony

Wikiki at Night

Wikiki at Night

And the room, although a little dated, was clean and comfortable.

I'm not weird because I took a photo of the bathroom

I’m not weird because I took a photo of the bathroom

It was an efficiency apartment

It was an efficiency apartment

Tight, but comfy

Tight, but comfy

Not sure why, sleep wasn't on the top of my list

Not sure why, sleep wasn’t on the top of my list

I got so see the sunrise on my first day there.  Which was pretty easy, considering I woke up at 4:00 AM local time (9:00 AM in my home timezone).  I tried to keep an early schedule, so adjusting back would be easier. I kept my wristwatch on Eastern Time, and my iPhone automatically displayed the local time.

Dumb tourists sat down right in the middle of my photo

Dumb tourists sat down right in the middle of my photo

Wikiki Beach

Wikiki Beach

Monkeypod Tree at Dawn

Monkeypod Tree at Dawn

This is my iPhone's Lock Screen presently

This is my iPhone’s Lock Screen presently

And I got to see the sun set on Paradise. I actually had enough light Wednesday night to get into the water for a short period of time. The Pacific Ocean here is clean and fresh. It wasn’t overly salty or fishy, like the North Atlantic can be. I was very pleasantly surprised. Aside from the rude police officer I interacted with, making sure I wasn’t breaking any laws by swimming after sunset, everyone was kind, polite, and helpful.

Sunset

Sunset

Now it wasn’t all fun and games. I spent 40+ hours working, both in data-centers, and in offices.  However, these views were always waiting for me, just outside the door.

The view from the office I was working from

The view from the office I was working from

I stayed at the Ilikai Hotel, on the right in the photo below. It’s claim to fame was being in the opening credits of Hawaii Five-O.

The Ilikai and the Rainbow Hilton

The Ilikai and the Rainbow Hilton

City Hall

City Hall

I got to eat some traditional island food.

Lau Lau; Pork wrapped in Ti leaves

Lau Lau; Pork wrapped in Ti leaves

I loved Lau Lau! It was delicious. And if you’re on the Island, Oahu, you have to stop by Helena’s Hawaiian Foods 1240 North School Street. Be prepared to wait and I know you’ll thank me afterwards.

And the final day, after work and before my plane ride home, I visited the USS Arizona Memorial.

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor 1

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor 2

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor

The USS Arizona's Berth on Battleship Row

The USS Arizona’s Berth on Battleship Row

The USS Arizona, proper

The USS Arizona, proper

She still bleeds into the harbor, to this day

She still bleeds into the harbor, to this day

The USS Arizona's Anchor

The USS Arizona’s Anchor

It was a powerful and moving experience.

Pearl Harbor Visitors Center

Pearl Harbor Visitors Center

Overall an awesome week. I was challenged at work. I think I did a great job, at least the customer’s feedback I got before leaving was very positive. It was tough. Including my travel time, I worked more than 80 hours; but, it was so worth it.

I am loving my job, but I have a foreboding feeling that the Honeymoon is now over.

Traveling with my New Job

I worked at a Fortune 50 company for 14 years. No names. I’m not bragging. This isn’t my resume. I share because it makes my job change all that much more significant. My new job is now in computer and corporate network security.  We basically protect corporate Data and Applications in the datacenter. The work is fantastic and our client base is world wide. Which brings me to the point of this post. Travel.

I’ve been on two trips already with my company; but, they were to places I had been before… many times. They were very work oriented, with little or no time for anything resembling recreation discounting our dinners out. This past trip was different.  Please don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a vacation. We worked, a lot. But we were working in Las Vegas, NV.

I wanted to share a few photos I took.

The flight was very interesting.

Grand Canyon Photo

Flying over the Grand Canyon

Landing in Las Vegas was interesting too.

Welcome to Las Vegas

Welcome to Las Vegas

Some like minded friends and I went hiking the first day.

Desert Nature

Desert Nature

And we saw spectacular views.

Red Rocks

Red Rocks

Sunset in the desert

Sunset in the desert

I stayed in a really nicely decorated room although the Hampton Inns I usually stay at for work are kept much cleaner. Then again, I’m sure the hotel rooms in Vegas see a different magnitude of filth than most business class hotels around the country.

MGM Grand Room

MGM Grand Room

MGM Grand Room

MGM Grand Room

MGM Grand Room

MGM Grand Room

The view from the room was pretty nice too.

MGM Grand Room View

MGM Grand Room View

And of course, I walked around on the strip a bit.

Luxor

Luxor

 

New York, NY

New York, NY

The Strip

The Strip

MGM Grand

MGM Grand

But eventually, every party must come to an end.

Party Mode Paused

Party Mode Paused

I stayed up all night my last night, caught a noon flight out, and actually slept for a few hours on the plane.  I could never sleep on a plane before. I think I’m now a veteran traveller.

Above the clouds, running from the sun.

Above the clouds, running from the sun.

 

Sunset just before landing.

Sunset just before landing.

(Click on the photos to see larger images.)

God our Universe?

I saw a pulp-science show the other month offering a scientific explanation of life after death experiences with quantum entanglement. My question to you: What do you think of a sentient universe? That is, one with the ability to think, being quantum-ly entangled to every living brain within it. Does that make science into a religion?

With the multitude of stars and the ability for entanglement to work instantly without regard to distance, think about the possibility of billions upon billions of sentient life forms throughout the universe, all contributing to a higher, universal consciousness.

Maybe religion wasn’t far off with an “all knowing” or omnipotent god?

Think about each brain as massively parallel organic computer, and think of quantum entanglement as a network bringing them all together as a supercomputer cluster. Think about the processing capabilities! Think about the intellect of the macro-consciousness! Mind boggling!

Have we mere mortals peered into Heaven?  Have we just glimpsed the mind of God?

Candy Hearts Bingo

I put together this game way back in 2007 for my daughter’s Valentine’s Day party. If you are a teacher or student, please feel free to use this in your class. I think it’s a fun, free, holiday children’s game that can liven up any school party.

You can download one convenient file, which includes the rules, all of the calling tiles and 30 playing cards. You can also download a pack of 30 additional playing cards if needed.

Game Contents

In the PDF package there are 30 randomly generated color game cards, 10 sheets of color calling tiles, and 2 sheets of monochrome calling tiles. Print the number of game card pages you need and the type of calling tiles you’ll use. There are different variations of game play all explained below.

Game Play

Variation #1 – Simple Rules

In this variation, you only need to print out the number of cards you need and the last two pages of the PDF file with the monochrome heart calling tiles. Cut the calling tiles out. Place the calling tiles in a hat or other container. Mix the calling tiles up. Distribute the cards to the players. Everyone gets to mark the center square because it’s a free spot. Pull a calling tile out of the hat. Read the saying out loud, for example “Red Hot” or “Love me” or “Wow!”. Players will mark their cards if they have a heart of ANY COLOR in ANY COLUMN with that saying. Play continues until the first player gets five in a row across, down, or diagonally across their playing card. That player will call out “Candy Hearts!” and is the winner.

Variation #2 – Color Rules

In this variation, you only need to print out the number of cards you need and the nine pages of color heart calling tiles. Cut the calling tiles out. Place the calling tiles in a hat or other container. Mix the calling tiles up. Distribute the cards to the players. Everyone gets to mark the center square because it’s a free spot. Pull a calling tile out of the hat. Read the color of the heart and the saying out loud, for example “Purple, Red Hot” or “Yellow, Love me” or “White, Wow!”. Players will mark their cards if they have a heart of that color and phrase in ANY COLUMN upon their playing card. Play continues until the first player gets five in a row across, down, or diagonally across their playing card. That player will call out “Candy Hearts!” and is the winner.

Variation #3 – Auditorium rules

In this variation, you will need to print out the number of cards you need, the nine pages of color heart calling tiles and the last page of HEART tiles. Place the calling tiles in a hat or other container. Place the HEART tiles in another hat or other container. Mix both sets of tiles up. Distribute the cards to the players. Everyone gets to mark the center square because it’s a free spot. Pull a calling tile out of each hat. Read the letter of the column heart and the color of the second heart and the title out loud, for example “H, Purple, Red Hot” or “E, Yellow, Love me” or “T, White, Wow!”. Players will mark their cards if they have a heart of that color and phrase in the particular column upon their playing card. Play continues until the first player gets five in a row across, down, or diagonally across their playing card. That player will call out “Candy Hearts!” and is the winner.

Note:

In all variations of play, the game cards were created randomly, and do not have two of the same sayings on a card. Variation #1 has 63 different saying. This will produce a “Candy Hearts!” winner relatively quickly. Variation #2 has 63 different sayings, in six different colors, for a total of 378 combinations. Variation #3 has 63 different sayings, in six different colors, which can occur in one of five columns, for a total of 1890 combinations. This is best suited for large groups and will need many more randomly generated cards to avoid multiple simultaneous winners.

Feel free to mix and match to your liking.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Video Project, Phase 3

Last year, June 2009 to be more precise, I contracted imemories to digitize some old 8mm film that I had saved from my parents. It was pretty expensive, but I didn’t have a lot to do. I figured I’d break the job up into smaller bits and spread the cost over a few years. I’m glad I got part of it done before my father passed away this summer. I think that motivated me to make sure all of the video I’ve taken over the years was safe.

So back in March of 2010 I started a project to ‘recover’ all my home video. I could have used imemories to do this also, but I had so much video, it wasn’t cost effective to pay someone else to do the conversion work. It would have been tens of thousands of dollars for them to do it. And sure most of the tedious, boring, busy-work would have been farmed out; but, I’d still be stuck doing the hard work of categorizing and editing the video. It just wasn’t a cost effective solution. Plus, I had almost everything I needed. My old Video8 VHS camcorder still worked. I had a way to capture and digitize the analog footage. I just needed to pick up a miniDV camcorder that was in working condition to digitize the close to fifty hours of miniDV footage I had. Thank goodness for Craig’s List! I found a working camera for $80 and after about a month of working, I completed Phase 1 of the project — getting everything onto a hard drive.

Thinking this through, phase 2 might still be uncompleted. Phase 2 consisted of getting everything into an iMovie format ready for archival and editing. I migrated computers and think I may have several dozen hours of Video8 footage in EyeTV format. If that’s the case, I’ll figure it out after Phase 4, which will be the accounting and audit phase to make sure I didn’t miss anything. If I missed anything, Phase 5 will be to do whatever it takes to finish the project. I do mean, “Whatever it takes!”

So, I find myself here, in phase 3 — “Compression and Archival”. Since I started this whole process, I learned that iMovie saves my HDTV footage from my newest camcorders in Apple Intermediary Codec format. This is the native format that iMovie uses for editing. My understanding is that it’s a lossless codec and takes up 50% of the space that DV encoded events do. With this new knowledge, I am in the process of re-encoding all my DV footage to be this newly discovered native apple format. Afterwards, I plan on encoding each event as a .mov and .m4v file, then archive it onto optical medium (DVD +R DL).

I just started this last week. So far, I’m working on my third event. I think I could do an event a day: it takes about four hours to encode both formats and two hours to burn it to disc with verification for each hour long event… some events are two hours long. It takes ten minutes to set it up to start, two minutes to export to the 2nd format after one two hour conversion, then ten more minutes to set up the disc burning. So, about twenty two minutes of real computer work per day of waiting. Taking into consideration the lack of efficiency on my part, and the inevitable hurdles I’ll come across, let’s say I can complete five events a week. At around a hundred and twenty hours of events I’m looking at approximately four months of work for this phase. The product will be a DVD library of cataloged, home, video footage in neat little DVD cases with covers and explanations of what is contained within.

Wow, sounds a bit OCD, doesn’t it? Well, you know what they say… if the skin fits… wash it! They don’t really say that… it was my attempt at OCD-humor. Forget it. OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is sometimes epitomized by the frequent washing of one’s hands — it’s also epitomized by the compulsive need to explain failed humor, inform and enlighten others, and generally drone on for hours, blogging crap no one will ever read. But I digress.

“So what,” you say? So, I started another phase of this monumental task. I do it for me, to keep track of time, but, mostly to show that if you break it up into small enough pieces, no matter how big the task is you can tackle it.

How’s that for a blog entry really about nothing pulling a moral and life lesson out of nowhere! I think what I just did needs a name. If we were playing hockey, it would be comparable to a hat-trick, so let’s call it a head-trick!