Archive for November, 2007

Yesterday Was an EXCELLENT Day

I got in to work yesterday to find an email from one of our project teams announcing that they had successfully completed all the performance tests on one of our overseas projects – this was great news for the company, and something everyone was really excited about.  We got called down to the conference room by the head honcho around 2:30 in the afternoon for an all-hands meeting where he congratulated everyone on a great job, and then announced that we were having a champagne toast and cheese platters in the next-door conference room.  Anyone who wanted to was able to have a couple of glasses of champagne and a plate of cheese in celebration…they were also handing out cigars, so I got the hat-trick of fun stuff yesterday: yummy fatty cheeses, decent booze, and a Romeo y Julieta cigar.

I got back to my desk to find out that I had been one of the winners this week in a drawing for tickets to this week's home game of the Carolina Panthers vs. the 49'ers.  Not only do my wife and I get free tickets to the game, but we get a "preferred parking" pass to a lot right near the stadium – since stadium parking ranges from $10 to $50, depending on how close you want to get to the stadium, this is a nice little bonus.

Finally, I got home to find a bunch of boxes of packages sitting on my front porch – Hanukkah presents from my Grandmother, mostly.  She had ordered me a soldering iron that I had put on my wish list – except the company must have botched the order, because instead of 1 soldering iron, they put in the box a quantity of 10 soldering irons!

Everything's coming up Milhouse!

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I’ve Succumbed…

It was inevitable.  I fought it off as long as I could, but I have now joined the collective.

Now excuse me if I act like a n00b for the next few weeks while I figure out what the hell I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

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I Need a Time Machine

This is a venting post and not typical of what I post here – you've been warned.

My wife's due date is December 28th, but she's scheduling to have a C-section on the 20th.  My first daughter came 3 weeks early, so if this one follows suit, that means any time after Dec 7th could be D-Day (delivery day).

I was scheduled to go to India in November for a factory acceptance test (FAT).  It was supposed to be November 4-21, getting back in time for Thanksgiving.  Then they pushed it back to after Thanksgiving, and suddenly the trip was November 26th – December 17th.  I told my boss that I could no longer go on the inspection, as there was a chance my wife would go into labor while I was in India, and it would have taken me about 2 full days to get home from when I was first notified.  He seemed okay with this, understanding my reticence to be so far away, and suggested that I'd take care of a couple inspections in late November and early December in place of the FAT: one locally and one in Houston.  I agreed, thinking that they would be the first week of December at the latest, so I'd be ok and still around for when the baby was born.  My boss and the only other experienced electrical engineer still in the office left for India on Monday, so they were really depending on me to do this inspection so they could get this $6 million piece of equipment off the books before the end of the year.

Yesterday, they said the Houston inspection would be next week (as I expected).  I told my wife that and while she was worried, she finally said she would be ok with me going and I promised her I wouldn't travel past the 7th of December.  I just found out today that the inspection in Houston has been scheduled for December 10-12.  I called up my wife to have her help talk things through in my head on what to say to them to let them know that I did not want to participate in this inspection if it was after the 7th, but my wife took the start of the conversation in a way I hadn't intended for her to, and started to get upset that I was asking her to decide whether I should go on the trip or not.  By the time I got her to understand I was really looking for help on what to say to these folks, and not asking her to make a decision, we were both in tears on the phone.  I feel like crap, mentally, still, an hour after we talked.

After she gave me some suggestions, I went and talked to the Project Manager about my situation, and that I really wasn't comfortable leaving town with less than 2 weeks to go before the due date.  He said that he was trying to get them to push up the inspection to December 5th – 7th, but in the meantime I should try to get in contact with my boss (who is now in India) and see if there is anyone else who could possibly go in my place.  The prospects really are slim, since pretty much all of the department is out in the field right now.

It's currently 8:00 PM in India right now.  I emailed my boss and told him that I really didn't feel comfortable going on an inspection so close to the due date.  I told him that I would definitely go if it was the 5th-7th, and even though I didn't want to jeopardize my job, being in town for my family for those two weeks before the scheduled due-date just in case was really important to me.

My boss normally checks his email in the evening, but if I don't hear from him in an hour, I'm going to call his international cell phone and try to get a hold of him before he would go to bed.  I'm really nervous – on one hand, I REALLY want to stay in town and even the 5th-7th would be a little risky if something weird happens – on the other hand, I feel like by telling them I can't do it, I'm backing out of a work commitment and possibly causing a big problem for the company. 

I may be getting paranoid, but I really think that this could be a fireable offense.  The Family Medical Leave Act only keeps them from firing you if you take off work AFTER an incident, not just because you did not perform your required work because you were preparing for a family-related incident.  The rational part of me keeps telling myself that they'll understand and be lenient, but I'm shaking here, nonetheless.

I feel sick.
I definitely don't want to upset my wife any more than I already have.
I want to be here for my wife and baby, just in case.
I don't want to get fired.
I just want to go home and crawl into bed and put the covers over my head and not think about this for a while.

Update: I managed to get a hold of my boss on his cell phone a little while ago and he's OK with me not going if the inspection can't happen by the 7th.  Just like the rational side of me thought, he understood my feelings and the fact that these are special circumstances that don't normally occur.  So things are looking good, and I might finally be able to relax a bit here and get my mind back on work.

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Good Luck With That, Time Warner…

As a Time Warner digital phone (VoIP) subscriber, I've been relatively happy.  The phone does what it's supposed to, gives me the features I want, and I get a price break since I'm already a TW cable and internet subscriber.  It's not the price of something like Vonage, but then again, security alarm companies won't allow you to use Vonage for their alarm phone-home services (too unreliable) — but they will let you use TWC digital phone.

I received an email today from TW inviting me to take a survey about the digital phone service with a chance to win $500 in a drawing for completing the survey.  Never one to turn down a free chance to win money, I went ahead and took the survey.

About 5 questions into the 68 question survey, they start asking questions about their Digital Voicemail service, which is one of the things I choose not to use.  As the questions go on and on ("Do you use Digital Voicemail?"  "Why do you not use Digital Voicemail?"  "What can we do to get you to use Digital Voicemail?") I start to laugh at the survey. 

There were about 45 or so questions asked related to rating new features of Digital Voicemail and how interested I would be to see them implemented.  I answered honestly, but in most cases, my rating was "1 – Not interested at all".  I mean, if I'm not interested in the product, why would I be interested in adding features to it?

Oh, and for the record, it appears that TW is investigating a push into the cell-phone service provider market (partnering with Sprint).  Sounds like they figured out that some people are with AT&T because they can get everything from one place, and are trying to poach customers from them, or at least convince others to join the flock with a similar mantra.

In case one of YOU is interested in what they're looking into, here are some of the various things they are considering, based on what they were asking me to rate:

  • One voicemail box between your cell phone and home phone
  • One number that would ring all of your phones (including cell phones) so you could choose which to answer on
  • One bill for all your services (woo, now I can finally see exactly how much out the butt I'm paying in one lump sum!)
  • Being able to access your voicemail through your TV
  • Having a Digital Voicemail guide available off the internet for you to download and print out
  • Having a Digital Voicemail guide available in hard copy format (I guess mailed to you, so you don't have to print it out)
  • Having voicemail notifications sent to you in various forms (email, text message, instant message, TV, etc.)
  • Having voicemails transcribed and sent to you in various forms (email, text message, instant message, etc.)
  • Having your voicemail menu system mimic your current work/cell voicemail menu options (because it is so hard to figure out whether you should press '3' or '7' to delete a message)
  • Being able to screen your calls by listening to people leaving their message (much like you can do with a hardware answering machine today)

Any of that make YOU want to become a Time Warner Digital Voicemail subscriber?

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Fantasy Football Recap #12 – Skin of My Teeth

It was a crazy week for me this week, in part because I rushed to get my lineup situated before the games started on Thursday, and missed out on using Barber on the one week he could have scored 20+ points for me.  By Sunday evening, all of my players' points had been tallied (totaling 135 for the week), and I could only watch in dread as my opponent slowly crept up the scoreboard every time Tom Brady threw another complete pass.  At the end of the first half of the New England / Philadelphia game, I thought it was over for sure — all Brady needed to do in order to force a loss for me was to toss out another 100 yards and a touchdown.  Yet time and again in the second half, New England got close to the end zone only to run the ball in, or otherwise turn it over without a pass TD.

I watched the last few minutes of the game anxiously, my opponent 1 point behind a tie for the week.  I know the Pats were trying to run the ball to run out the clock.  But would Brady throw that one extra pass to try to get a first down and ensure the Patriots retained possession for the rest of the game?  In the end, the answer was no; they kicked the ball, and regardless of Feeley's pick at the very end of the game, I was a winner for this week, 135-134.  It took me until well after midnight to settle down from the nail-biting jitters, as it just doesn't get any closer than that, in fantasy competition.

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Ross Hunt (or Whatever It’s Called) Winners!

Hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving had a fantastic turkey day and I hope you are now well on your way to recovering from the food, fun, and festivities.  For everyone else, hope you had a good week, and yay, it's the weekend again!

We had 4 entrants in my guest-host contest, all of which had me laughing at one point or another in their entries.  And upon further review of the piles of junk in my garage, I have confirmed that every entrant wins a prize, consolation or otherwise! 

(In all seriousness, I do have something special for each entrant that will have them shouting out loud with a resounding "MEH.  I guess that was worth entering this week's contest."  Please send me a quick note with your address – I promise you won't be disappointed.  [Or at least don't reveal your disappointment to me])

The judging was tough, but you can see how it was done by reading the following, or just skip to the winner announcements below:

1. Best Yod Art: Although this was a close race, in the end I had to give this one to snoringKatZ.  Cranky, flattery will usually get you anywhere, but in this case, the pun is mightier than the apple polishing.  Or something like that.

2. The Tourist Attraction I'm Planning to Visit on my Next Vacation: Definitely Cranky's Crap Emporium.  There's no doubt in my mind that this will make it big.  As long as Wal-Mart doesn't try to horn in on your business – watch out for that, Cranky!

3. My Alternative to Thanksgiving Would Be: Another Thanksgiving, apparently.  You folks really don't want to give up this holiday!  With that said, Ebby's comment that this used to be the only day where Yod was able to eat white-people food cracked me up, and took the birthday-cake on this one.

4. Easiest to Blackmail:
Cranky, when I saw your photo for #1, I immediately thought it trumped any blackmail photo you could have shared with us.  Apparently you agreed.  However, you were blown clear out of the water by WPG's blackmail photos, red duct-tape and all.  Those are some seriously hostile working conditions!

5. The Worst Pun-ishment for the Readers: Your puns all made me groan, but only snoringKatZ's made me run out of the room screaming.

With that said, this week's winner for the GRAND PRIZE is snoringKatZ!  Congratulations, your skill with the slap-dash entry knows no bounds.

WPG – You still won the first-entry prize and will be receiving that prize and some lovely parting gifts, along with my sympathy for anyone who still has to work in that hellmouth building.

Crankypants – Unfortunately, you didn't win the GRAND PRIZE, but I have something specific in mind for your consolation prize.  As a bonus, it's not going to take up a lot of space, so you'll still have lots of room in your Crap Emporium for your regular sales stock.  Oh, and I'm seriously considering making your blackmail photo my desktop wallpaper for a little while.  Heehee.

Ebby – I don't live in a cat household, and I'm fresh out of catnip.  However, I have a nice selection of small consolation gifts that you can share with your Daddy – I bet you can work out a trade with him for something more suitable for a kitty like yourself.  And let him know that if he doesn't want his gifts, they'd probably make decent additions to Yod Hunt prizes for future contests :-)

Thanks everyone for playing.  Hopefully you had as good a time entering my guest contest as I had reading your entries!  I now return control of the hunt back to the group's founding father, the man with the plan, YOD himself!

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