Thursday, May 23, 2013

Career Day, or as I like to call it "What the hell did I get myself into?"

My daughter brought home a sign up form a month ago for career day.  I vaguely remember ours in school, where you had to sign up to go to a class and a parent would talk about their careers.  I thought it sounded like a good idea.  Of course my memory was on career day for high schoolers, in this case, I would be dealing with elementary school kids, how hard could it be.

My concerns started brewing when after signing up, they sent home a flyer advising parents to ensure they bring their materials.  Materials?????  What the hell kind of materials am I going to bring.  I sit on a recliner, with my laptop and my phone, that's the extent of my materials. 

I shook it off and decided to carry on with my plans of showing up sans materials.  I managed to even laugh along with the jokes from my daughter and wife in the weeks leading up to it.  They claim they don't understand what I do (although my opinion is they don't particularly care).  My daughter thinks I play video games all day and then go to Las Vegas occasionally, which would truly be a great job if that was the case, I suspect my wife believe the same, but has no interest other then that the bills are paid.

I will admit, that while the specifics of what I do are fairly mundane, there are some interesting things about my job.  I work for a Fortune 50 company at a fairly high level (given the number of years I've been there).  I work with people all around the world on high dollar contracts for cutting edge technology.

There is something cool about that, isn't there?

If that question was posed to elementary school students, the answer would be a resounding "no".  The career fair I arrived at, had us at our own tables in a horseshoe shaped seating arrangement and the students would come in and walk around the tables as the teachers brought their classes in. 

I was lucky enough to be seated by the chef/owner of a local restaurant and the fire chief.  Lucky me!!  Thankfully my table had little traffic allowing the chef to queue up the eager students awaiting to get at his display of gummy bears, dried cherries, and other assorted foods.  Any stragglers that couldn't fit in front of the fire chiefs table were also able to wait by mine, as there was a line forming to view the infrared camera he was showing off (way cooler then I would have expected and the resolution on the new models, wow). 

The poor children that did inquire about what I did, quickly had a glazed look come over their eyes, until they caught sight of the bright, shiny fruits and vegetables at the next table, which snapped them out of their trance.  Towards the later part of the event, I'd start my conversation by telling the kids they really should check out the infrared camera with the fireman.

I shouldn't have been surprised, over the years, I've taken to just saying I'm a project manager when people ask me what I do, it's quick and easy and a professional title that people understand, although I don't necessarily think they understand what a project manager does. 

My brother who has also shared this problem, advised me I should have taken the Barney Stinson approach.  "How I met your Mother" is a show which I've only casually watched, so I wasn't familiar with this running joke, but here's a collection of them.


Going forward there will be no Career days, I'll stick to coaching the daughter's softball team, I will be utilizing the Barney Stinson job reply though for the foreseeable future.

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Year and New Things

Happy New Year everyone!

It's been awhile since I posted anything, and it's always hard to start something back up after neglecting it for awhile (just ask my workout routine).

Anyway, I wanted to take a couple minutes to write about some things from the past couple months.  In late summer of this year, my wife got a job at a school system back up in Northeast Ohio, which meant moving back from Columbus.  We decided to stay with my parents until we figured out where/how we wanted to move, since the turnaround with her starting the job was so short.  This wound up being a great experience and a trying one all rolled into one.

My parents were great hosts, and as I've told you before, I believe they are first in line if there ever was a "Parents Hall of Fame".  However, moving a family of 3 into a place already occupied by 2, and then having a total of 3 dogs, meant accommodations were a bit cramped.  We all survived the couple months we spent together though, and I'm thankful for that time to get a peak back into the day to day lives of my parents and a chance to spend some time with them, that most people don't get when they hit my age.  I'm truly in debt to them for so many things, and you can add this to the list.

Before I get to the big news, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the crisis of the past couple months, and that was the gigantic staph infection I developed in my knee, that put me in the hospital for a week.  What a mess.  What started out as an infection on the back of my head (with no idea how it got there), moved to my knee and over the course of 4 days went from my ankle to halfway up my thigh.  I'm happy to report, that I've almost fully recovered.  There maybe a day in the future that I decide to write about the ordeal more and share some of the thoughts I had during that time. 

The big news though is we bought a house, a bright orange house actually, right in Kent, where I graduated college.  As happy as I was that the wife got a job and happy to move back by family, part of me really wouldn't have minded moving farther south.  I told my wife that if we moved back to NE Ohio and if we bought a house, I wasn't going somewhere for awhile.  We were hoping to find something to fix up and use some savings and 401k hardship loan for the purchase, since you can't get a conventional mortgage for at least 2 years after a short sale, but given we were wearing on everyone's  nerves staying at my parents, we decided to look for something a little better then a fixer upper and found a nice place in Kent.  We've spent the past 2 weeks painting, carpeting, and getting it ready to move into and moved everything over last Saturday (let me tell you, January moving in frigid temperatures, what a fun process). 

The house still looks like it's being filmed for an episode of Hoarders, but it's slowly coming together.  It's exciting to be back in our own place, and see all the things I'm going to have to fix, rather then call maintenance, and all of the rooms that are going to require new furniture as our old stuff doesn't fit right.  In all seriousness, it is nice having our own place and not having townhouse neighbors sharing common walls and no yard to speak of, there are moments when I'm in the house and just want to shout at the top of  my lungs, just because I can.  I also enjoy putting holes in the wall to hang stuff, again because I can and it's mine.  

So that's the recap for now.  One of the things I want to do over time is talk about some of the reasons we picked Kent, and some of the great development going on in the city (for those that read the blog and went to Kent State, you would not believe the business development that has gone on downtown).  I want to capture that over the summer in some images and I'm going to have plenty of opportunities to talk about how it feels being in a college city that I knew so well during my 20's as I return to it as I hit my 40's. 

Until later, enjoy life and health, and take advantage of it when you have it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Doctor is in...

In a previous role in my company, I did a lot of contract negotiation, which meant dealing with customer requests and internally dealing with multiple entities that were looking for their own protection.  It's an extremely hectic role and one I'm suited well for given my talent for listening and approaching an issue from multiple sides.

A sales rep. I worked with, used to refer to me as the "Contract Doctor" and advised that if we were in an office setting, he'd put up a huge poster outside of my office of Lucy from Peanuts during contract negotiations, stating "The Doctor is in".

Today I'm expanding my practice, and offering service to all of those that are despondent from the election results yesterday.  I'm here to reassure you that the world will not end and our country as we know it won't look much different 4 years from now.  Now you may ask,"How do I know this and what experience I have with this sort of thing?"  Those are fair questions, and my response is, "I've handled this before."

While most of you, that are despondent celebrated during the two terms of the Bush administration, there were an equal number that felt the same way as you and they ranted on the same things. (Supreme Court Justices, economy, education, social issues, etc.)  They also thought it was the end of the world, and I counseled as many of them as I could and tried to set them straight.  We know we are constantly bombarded with information and opinion in today's society, but we don't always understand how much of that opinion is true.

Let me give you some examples of the messages that people received during the Bush administrations.

1. He'll elect Supreme Court Justices that will always vote along party lines.

2. The war in Iraq will never end and we will be spending money on Nation Building throughout our children's lives.

3. He'll ruin Social Security by taking it private.

4. "No Child Left Behind" will ruin our education system.

These are four that come to mind off the top of the head, trust me when I tell you there were many others.  Let's break them down.

1.  He did elect Supreme Court justices and the effect on the populous has been fairly minimal from their impact, the thing people forget is that by and large Supreme Court Justices work to stay true to the law as they see it, while it's influenced by their background, if you look over history, you'll see this, that doesn't mean there aren't things that don't affect the populous, but belief that they are all out to get the other side once they get on the court has proven for the most part to be untrue.  This goes back to our Constitution, they answer to no one once they are there.  Besides go back and look at how well George Bush (Sr.) picked 'conservative' justices, or even take a look at John Roberts and how his vote for the health care reform  played out.

2. The war in Iraq.  The war that was originally about Weapons of Mass Destruction, where they never found any.  It's over, and we survived.  The wars outcome will be debated over time, but it's over for now and done with.  We won't know for some time (if ever) on how it will affect the world, or whether it lead to "Arab Spring" or how those funds spent on the war contributed to the debt that so many point the finger at the current administration for.

3. After Bush's re-election, his main focus was trying to privatize Social Security, it didn't happen.

4. No Child Left Behind didn't push the school systems into oblivion, did it make it more difficult in some areas and better then others, likely, but that makes it no different then most other government programs. 

There are other examples, but I've long since forgot them, our politicians seem to struggle with getting real messages across so they rely on fear tactics to try and get their point across.  The Republicans did it this campaign, the Democrats did it for Bush's reelection.

I'm here to reassure you that you'll survive.  Let me point out a couple things that I would suggest focusing on.

1. Health care reform: It's unlikely to look like it does now when it's fully implemented, rarely do bills look the same at the start and their implementation.

2. Businesses will whither away under the current policies and taxes that the evil health care law will levy on them.  Take a look at some of these businesses that are cutting hours for jobs and health care coverage.  Many of them didn't exactly have the best track record in the first place.  Over the past 20 years all we've seen from businesses is continued cost cutting at the sake of their employees, while continuing to focus on rewarding shareholders and executives.  Pensions cut, health care too expensive, part timers hired en mass.  These atrocities have happened under both administrations, while bickering between parties goes on, isn't it time we took a harder look at what corporations are doing?

3. Spending and deficit: Congress has a role in spending, maybe it's time to put some pressure on them to cut some of the fat from the budget, that isn't a deceptive way to try and legislate morality. It's also time to acknowledge how awful spending has been for the last 12 years.  Some of you maybe too young to remember this (or choose not to), but a big reason that George Bush (Sr.) was beat in his re-election bid, was the deficit was too high, want to know how it looked when Clinton left office?   Spending needs to be corrected, but the model that says cut taxes and increase spending on the programs that we like (military, etc) doesn't work either.  Both sides of the aisle need to do a better job of that, and as long as we let them manipulate us into pointing fingers, none of it's going to get done.

4. The moral fabric of our society will break due to initiatives the president will launch.  Ah one of my favorites and the last one for the day.  Here are a couple questions to help you think about this a bit differently.

1. How many years of your lifetime has abortion been legal?

2. Did you know gay people currently live together, get married in certain states that allow it, and that many large corporations already offer same sex partner benefits?

Think about abortion, at this point in your life, it's probably been legal far longer than it hasn't (if it hasn't).  Has the earth crumbled?  This isn't to say your opinion on the matter is irrelevant, but realize this it didn't change under a president like George W. Bush, it was unlikely to change under a Social Moderate like Mitt Romney.

Now onto gay marriage, my point from the above statement is that no matter what fear the parties try and instill with you, it doesn't change what's happening today and the fabric of our society isn't going to rip apart because same sex marriage is legalized.  It's an easy issue to see people trying to inspire fear with, because if you really think about it, there is no good reason why an individual would oppose it, as it would have no effect on you whatsoever.

That's enough counseling for the day though, remember the sun will come up tomorrow and over the next four years (unless the Mayans were right) and that.....