Monday, August 28, 2006

Moving on the winds of change

I finally got the Blue Beast back this morning, after being in the shop for about a month and a half while the manufacturer built a new wiring harness to be installed inside. I had forgotten that my Rage Against the Machine CD was in the CD player all this time, but Guerrilla Radio had a new meaning for me this afternoon while driving home.

It has to start somewhere
It has to start sometime
What better place than here
What better time than now

Okay, rewind to last week.... I had been to a few interviews and they had all pretty much said the same thing to me over and over. "Your resume looks nice and you seem to have lots of great skills, but sorry, it's just a little short of what we're looking for right now." I had one tell me the same thing, only a little bit less obviously, "We hired someone else with a little bit more experience than you, but thanks for applying." I had high hopes as it seemed like I was spending close to two hours every morning replying to emails and answering phone calls about potential leads in various developer roles across town, and even across the country.

Things were getting frustrating, and that's when the storm hit, both literally and figuratively. I remember leaving home last Thursday morning with ominously dark skies looming overhead. I dropped off Kaylee at daycare and headed north on the 101 to meet with a recruiter in north Scottsdale. It took me about 45 minutes to drive those seven or eight miles northward, and it was not due to traffic for once. Eerie white orbs slowly shuffled southward in the grey gloom to my left and many red pairs lights in front of me stared like disembodied eyes as I inched through the zero-visibility torrents of rain. Sheets of thick and heavy drops of precipitation hurled themselves furiously at the ground as I ducked from row to row of covered parking to get to the building where I would be meeting another pair of job recruiters.

The meeting was short and simple, just like the other meetings with the rest of the recruiters. However, the drive home was like a scene out of a movie. It felt like the thorough soaking I had received in dashing to and from the interview had washed away my frustrations and doubts. The drive south quickly cleared up into a beautiful and picturesque view of the clouds parting and the sun shining through radiantly. On the drive, I received information that one of the interviews I had the day before had resulted in another failure, though only partly. The company really liked me and though they had filled the position with someone else, they were actively looking for a different position for me within the company, even if a new one had to be created. All day, the emails would not stop. One after another, I received more solid leads and more good news.

The day finished off with another interview with a local bank. I could tell from their reactions that I blew them all away with my skill and knowledge, but of course nothing could be decided because they had to look at everyone else that had interviewed and go through their HR department before making any offers, so I wouldn't know anything more until Monday. Friday, the downpour of potential positions kept coming through voicemails and emails, but the most important one came mid-afternoon from the cell phone of one of the recruiters.

She was excited as she called me up, confirming that my feeling was right and the bank was impressed and the vice president of their technical division wanted to meet with me on Monday for a followup interview. It definitely sounded very promising, but she replied to my question about continuing to apply elsewhere with, "The offer isn't on the table yet, so keep your fingers crossed but don't stop looking." So, this afternoon I took off just a little bit earlier than I needed to (someone had mentioned exhaust problems inside with the air conditioning at work, so I needed more time to get some fresh air), had a quick bite to eat, and headed on into the interview ten minutes earlier than scheduled.

The interview itself was really short and was more focused on making sure that I would be comfortable with their working environment rather than my skills and experience. After about fifteen minutes of surprisingly relaxed conversation with the vice president, he shook my hand and stated that he would be getting in contact with the staffing agency to extend the job offer to me as a .NET developer for First National Bank of Arizona! I won't know the exact details of when or how much until tomorrow, but it sounds like they would prefer to move quickly on this position.

So now the hard part comes, and I have to begin the inevitable final preparations to leave the company for which I have worked for nearly three years now. I also have the daunting task of tracking down the dozen or so recruiters that I have worked with in the past few weeks and let them all know that I am no longer available for new positions. With the way things have turned out in the past few days, it almost seems like the fates are finally smiling on me favorably and making up for all the crap I've had to endure so far this year. The winds of change are blowing and it's finally time to set sail. What better place than here, what better time than now?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fountain of Youth found?

I got a laugh out of this news story this morning. Famed magician David Copperfield claims to have found the Fountain of Youth somewhere on the islands in the Bahamas that he owns. Of course, he's not letting anyone in except for a few select scientists on his own payroll. Any bets on how long it takes one of the major TV networks to contact him to do another TV special showing off his new magical "discovery" in paradise? Methinks that he has just been out of the public spotlight for too long and his bank account is starting to run a little low....

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dutch against sexual harassment

The Netherlands have started pushing a new campaign to warn underage surfers about the dangers of sexual harassment on the internet.  Not that any of you really need the public service announcement, here it is for sheer entertainment value:

Cyber Sex-Don'ts - video powered by Metacafe

So long and thanks for the free work

I had brought my book with me to read in the waiting room, but I couldn't help but overhear a story on the local news playing on the television. I was upset at hearing the news, but my emotions probably pale compared to the anger felt by the employees of the Krispy Kreme donut shops located in Arizona.

Apparently all locations in Arizona closed up this morning with absolutely no warning at all and managers were instructed not to hand out paychecks because they would not be worth anything and couldn't be cashed. So not only do we lose some of the best donuts around, but the employees that made our sweet treats have basically worked for free the past week.

If you don't understand how sad it is to lose Krispy Kreme, you haven't had a hot glazed donut freshly made from their shop. It practically melts in your mouth and is so deliciously addictive, but now they're gone from the state of Arizona. Now I need to find another place to get my sugar fix... hopefully Cinnabon doesn't close down anytime soon. =)

The outpatient surgery

I am not a morning person. When the doctor's office told me that Kaylee needed to be at the hospital by 5:30am, I groaned. If it weren't for her own well-being, I would have protested and pushed it back some, especially knowing how much difficulty I have getting Kaylee up in the morning too.

The time at the hospital flew by fairly quickly as we were ushered from one room to the next to get everything squared away before the 7am surgery. A nurse here and a doctor there, a few comforting words from the anesthesiologist, a pair of trips to the potty, then finally the time came and the nurses took her away with a sad look on her face as I waved goodbye to her.

Apparently the procedure she underwent, called myringotomy, is a very common procedure performed on children to drain built-up fluids in the ear. The doctor returned a few minutes later to inform me that all went as planned and gave me instructions on using the ear drops over the next few days. Shortly thereafter, she was dressed and the release paperwork was signed. At 7:45am, I carried my grumpy little girl out the front door and drove back home.

Aside from the cotton balls in her ears, she doesn't seem to have any problems or side effects. Just to be on the safe side, I'm staying home with her today and will keep an eye on her. A stack of stickers from the nurse and some breakfast in her tummy, and she's back to normal again.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A curious break-in

It's hard to have good news without having some bad news, so the universe decided to balance out my recent fortune with the curious sight I found on my porch when I returned home about 45 minutes ago.

There have been boxes and piles of miscellaneous stuff that belong to Andrea on my patio for a while now.  She has been promising that she will come and clean it up and take it away somewhere, and I keep nagging at her to finally keep her word and do it.  Maybe this afternoon will finally convince her to do it, as someone emptied a decent amount of her stuff everywhere across the patio and broke into my storage room on the patio.  It's not like it would take much more than a solid yank on the knob, even while locked, to open the door.  The contents of the first box of hers inside of the door had been emptied as well, leaving enough debris in the way to block the door from shutting.  Also to be found were blue streaks of paint here and there from a mostly-empty can of her spray paint.

I have no idea what was in any of the boxes, or if anything was stolen or broken (nor do I care), but it is an annoyance to me because I'm going to end up cleaning it up.  It's not my stuff, and by the rules of the lease it shouldn't have even been out there that long, so I can't exactly call the police and report it... whatever did happen.  My new next-door neighbor was of no help since he was out all morning and said it was like that when he returned home.

I'm just worried that someone may come back and try to break into my apartment now.  I wouldn't be surprised if it was the work of the noisy and inconsiderate drunkards downstairs.  Hmm, maybe if I can install a webcam inside, I can keep an eye out from work through the internet.  Heh heh, a clever use of technology to nab would-be thieves and get them kicked out like they deserve to be.

The winds of change blow faster than I expected

In light of the announcement made by my employer last week, I figured I would throw up my resume on a few job sites and see if I received any offers while continuing to work through the end of the year with my current employer. My length of service with the company meant that I had plenty of experience and knowledge that could still be put to good use before my department shuts down locally, and the bonus and severance package would be a nice fallback padding for me to use when looking for new employment after the first of the year.

Ha, little did I realize that real life never works out exactly as you plan--sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. In my case it seems, for once, that it's actually for the better. Every day since the posting of my resume, I have received multiple serious inquiries from both staffing agencies and direct-hire employers. A few were thoroughly out of my league in qualifications, which makes me wonder how closely some of these people actually read my resume. A few others came from out of town, such as one about 30-45 minutes south of Phoenix in Florence (I don't know of anything down there except the prison) and even one in Connecticut.

The benefit of having the extended length of time to find a new position is that I relax for a while and be picky about what I choose. I've had to turn down a few offers because benefits would not start soon enough or just plain sucked, and I definitely need at least the medical coverage with a 3-year-old at home. Others I've had to refuse because either the drive was too far from home and others because they had a strictly fixed schedule which I'm not comfortable being down to with my daughter primarily living with me now.

So that leaves me with a trio of prospective positions right now that would fit the bill. One of the three might pan out to be a fantastic future opportunity for which I would love to help develop, but for reasons I cannot discuss, it's not a viable option at the moment. The second one is with a prominent company downtown that would almost double my current salary. They sound willing to train me in areas in which I am weak (like C#) and are apparently excited to contact me despite the fact that their current allotment of interview slots were filled up. I am waiting to hear back from them when I can visit with their hiring manager to discuss the position more and take a tour to find out what it would be like to work with them. The final opportunity I received this morning is from a recruiter located somewhere in a 512 area code that has a position in Gilbert that sounds like almost a perfect match for my skills. I'm also waiting to hear back on a possible interview for that one after emailing my resume to the staffing agency this morning.

I'm also hoping in the next few weeks to finally be at a level at which I feel comfortable and prepared enough to take a Microsoft certification and make myself even more valuable to any future employers. Every night, I take a half hour to an hour and study after Kaylee has gone to bed. I was always raised with the ideal "never stop learning" and I've tried my best to do that through my whole life. Now it looks like it's all going to finally pay off.

I hate to sound like I'm bragging, but I do feel very proud to be "in demand" by employers and see all of my time and various experience hasn't been a waste. Life seems to want to move ahead a little bit faster than I had planned, but it doesn't seem like a bad thing for me. So, here's to change.

Friday, August 04, 2006

All good things come to an end...

Telling myself that anything could last forever would be a lie. Nothing is eternal, not even the universe itself. It's a good thing when something bad or unpleasant is over, but when a truly good thing ends, it is usually met with tears, sorrow, and an emptiness or feeling of loss.

Such was the case for the last remaining employees in my department this week. I'm sure we all knew the day would soon arrive when the pendulum would cease its swinging and our positions within the company would be severed, much like the chaff gets separated from the grains during harvesting and discarded. Our usefulness has passed and the days are finitely numbered now. Some have already moved on to other positions or are on the cusp of departure as we speak, and the rest of us are seemingly lost. Very few of our dying voices have yet spoken of their new plans in the wake of this week's revelation, perhaps some await the responses of others before acting, or perhaps there are still some of us left who will tough it out until the end of days?

It truly pains me to see the final passing of our company to the new management up north and seeing our jobs slowly being spread like seeds to the winds of the world from India, to Argentina, to who knows where else in the future. I accepted a position within the company three days before the Thanksgiving holiday nearly three years ago, found through a temp agency and cautioned by the recruiter that the job would likely last through January or--if I were lucky enough--February. Fortune has filled my life since then as the temporary 3rd-shift position turned into full-time work with the company including benefits and I have had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful and diverse people since that cold and fateful night on which I started. Many opportunities have blossomed and much useful experience has been gained, and for that I am grateful. But that still doesn't take away from the loss I feel as I slowly see friends, acquaintances, and coworkers leave, and know that soon I must do the same.

They say that all good things must come to an end. I can definitely feel the winds of change blowing, fierce and strong. Where they will take me, I do not know. For now, I must place my spare energy into strengthening my skills and watch the winds for the right chance to let go and sail onwards.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lughnasadh, Lammas, Festival of Light, or whatever you call it...


Festive greetings to all in celebration of, um... that sabbat that looks hard to pronounce, Lughnasadh. Yeah. I'm at least in a very lively and happy mood today. It's been a while since anything terrible has happened (coincidentally, the ex has been gone a while as well). Life is good as the wheel of life makes its revolutions in my little corner of the universe.

As an unrelated side note, did you know that you could build castles out of Panda Express' fried rice? My 3-year-old insisted she was building a castle with the leftover rice she didn't want to eat tonight. It's always nice to learn something new everyday.

Blessed be,