Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This week in the world of no one.

This week I am learning an advanced software testing package as part of my new job responsibilities. I have never really worked in an information technology role so this is all new to me. I am a bright guy, but a LOT of this is beyond me. Things like custom scripting and regression testing are beyond my current skill set. I am ramping up quickly, but trying to learn an entire new profession ini 5 days is like... well, trying to learn an entire new profession in 5 days. It is as daunting as it sounds.
Some of the people in the class are very senior programmers. One interesting thing I found is that I am finishing the exercises a lot faster than they are and with few if any mistakes. I couldn't figure this out until this afternoon. It turns out being an IT dummy is actually helping me in these situations. I follow the instructions in the book to the letter and make no mistakes, they try and do fancy IT stuff and ignore the interface and screw it up. Being dumb in this instance is cool. :-)
No 1 of Consequence

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sometimes being a parent sucks

While I had planned on doing a lot of reading over the last week or so, I truthfully didn’t get much done at all. I spent a majority of my free time, doing laundry, changing diapers and trying to comfort my sick little baby. I have three children and while they have all been sick at any given time, neither of the other boys has EVER been as sick as the baby was this week. Between the vomiting, diarrhea, trips to the emergency room for IV fluids, and about a million diaper changes I was probably as scared as I have ever been for one of my children. He just didn’t seem to be getting any better at all. Thankfully it the illness seems to be behind him at this point.
I have a newfound respect and appreciation for people who have a chronically or catastrophically ill child. I cannot imagine having to endure that permanently. The powerless feelings of not being able to help or in some cases even comfort the little guy are terribly painful. The thoughts, however brief, that we might lose him aged me ten years. Having to live with that feeling full time would be crippling to me. I can’t imagine how parents survive it.

Some lowlights of the last week:

I had to hold my little guy down while they gave him an IV. Since he is a bit of a chubby baby they had trouble finding a vein. So, they had to stick him three times. One of the times they jiggled the needle around inside him a bit to try and get the vein. He screamed. He screamed a lot. It wasn’t pleasant.

That of course, came in a close second to having to pin him down while they gave him a catheter to get a clean urine sample. Now, I held him for his circumcision, but this was something completely different. I can’t imagine something more unpleasant. He just cried and cried. Thankfully it was brief, but if I never see the inside of an emergency room with one of my children again I will be OK with it.

Overall it was probably one of the worst experiences of my life and I am drained just thinking about. I will tell you this though, coming home last night and seeing him smiling and giggling while splashing in the bathtub was one of the more uplifting experiences I have had in a long time.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

4 books I intend to finish before Feb 12

Why on Earth is February 12th the goal? Well, I have accepted a role on the global management team of my company and I am starting some intense training on that date. After that, things are going to be a whirlwind with multiple trips to Scotland on business, countless hours working, and very little time to focus on any leisure reading outside of news and keeping up with my various fantasy baseball teams. So this is the goal I have set for myself.

I have a legitimate shot to finish three out of the four, mainly because I have already started reading three of them. The 4th is over 1000 pages long and apparently the beginning of a rather intricate tale.

So let’s begin the latest installment of what is No 1 Reading:

Watchdogs of Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corps and How it has Failed the Public. By Helen Thomas

This work is extremely critical of the White House press corps and the press in general, essentially accusing them of being complicit in the abrogation of our constitutional right to know what the hell is going on with our government. She accuses them of being fearful of falling out of favor with a bully of a White House and not asking the tough questions. Helen is a long time Washington correspondent and has been continually snubbed by the President and his handlers during press conferences because of her desire to find the truth for the people.

Why am I reading this? Well, I have been making a similar argument for a long time. No Best Man of Consequence works in the media and I often challenge him and the industry by proxy when I see what I feel are significant injustices taking place in the world. He always comes back at me with the “people don’t care about anything anymore argument,” which I partially agree with and we usually move on to something else. (I have a partial post about our distracted society and how we all suffer for it, but that is a different discussion for a different day.) Anyway, he usually has me outclassed in the argument because I don’t have anything empirical to back me up when we talk about it, so I am trying to broaden my mind in this particular area.

Phil Gordon’s Little Green Book – By Phil Gordon

This is considered by many to be the best poker book ever written. I am only a couple of chapters in and am already enthralled by his simple and concise style. Annoyed and No Brother both recommended this book very highly and since I respect their opinions and their poker abilities I definitely want to finish this book.

Why am I reading this? I want to be a better player. I do well in my home game here in GA and I do well online. I, hopefully, am going to be in Atlantic City in late February and am definitely going to be in AC in early April and I want to be at the top of my game. Digesting the information in this book and integrating it into my personal strategy of play is one good way I can do that.

Now I Can Die In Peace – Bill Simmons

Anyone who reads this blog knows I am a big fan of Bill Simmons. I read anything he writes and I enjoy about 80% of it. The odd thing about my liking this guy is that he is a huge Red Sox fan and this book is a collection of articles and associated commentary leading up to the Red Sox defeat of the Yankees in 2004 and their World Series championship. I have been reading the book for awhile and I am really enjoying it. I am planning a detailed post related to it because it offers such a unique perspective to a Yankees fan. Also, for a Red Sox fan Simmons has a very good understanding of the mentality of Yankees fans even though he calls rooting for the Yankees the same as “rooting for the house in blackjack.”

Why am I reading this? You have to support people who have entertained you that much in your life. Even though the subject matter is not something I am terribly interested in the writing is good and I have been entertained throughout.

Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

This book is the first in a significant series. HBO is turning it into a TV series. When they made the announcement, No Accountant of Consequence, who is an expert in this particular genre, was very excited. He highly recommended it so I picked it up.

Why am I reading it? The recommendation is a big reason, plus HBO’s de facto endorsement of the content carries a lot of weight with me. Of all 4 books I have going right now though, I will probably not get this one finished by my deadline.


Some quick hits not related to what I am reading.

I have about 10 posts in draft and this causes me to be significantly irritated with myself. I really want to write more, but I won’t just throw anything up and a lot of the topics I want to cover require research because as most of you know, talking out of my ass is something I don’t really like to do.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training imminently. (Feb 14) I am very excited for the coming baseball season.

Work has taken a lot of interesting twists and turns this year. This is my 24th month with the company and if you had asked me in my 4th month if this is the way it was going to go I would have told you that drugs were bad and you should really get your head checked.

Projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea from your almost one year old baby is not really fun. There is just something about a very sick little baby that is especially pathetic. There is also an acute feeling of powerlessness that happens when your child is sick. My little man has the flu right now. He can’t keep anything down and he is just miserable. It just sucks that there is nothing we can really do for him.

Disney World is an incredible amount of fun, but while it may be the most wonderful place on Earth, it isn’t even the 1000th most relaxing place in Florida. I still have blisters on my feet.