Tuesday, November 09, 2010

So...


I have a new job, and I start on the 21st. It's just an internal transfer to a new group, but it should be very good for me and my career. God is good, he provides all that I need. I have been job searching for something like 9 months now, and it's been getting more and more desperate the longer it goes on.

My current group has decided to completely move away from support and build engineering, and focus on being a standard development and test group, which left pretty much no place for me. Sort of unfortunate, but I was being "managed out," to use the polite term. I had probably two dozen informal interviews... and most of them got nowhere. My resume and experience caters very specifically to a certain type of work, and it does not line up with the traditional roles at Microsoft: Development, Test, PM, or Operations. It more aligns with an invisible group that ties all of them together and brings the code from one team to another. Every group handles that work differently, some ignore it, some use testers to do it, some use ops people to do it- but, rarely to people hire specific people just to do that one job.

I managed to find a group that is dedicated to doing code transition from development into production environments. Basically, the absolute most perfect fit I could ask for, as this is what my group used to do before it was cannibalized for other things.

I know that doesn't mean much to most of you readers, but... to me, it means that I have an opportunity to shine and be successful yet again. The first five years of my career were lit on fire, with constant promotion and increase. The last year has fallen off dramatically in that regard, due to the team getting away from what I do best. So this is an opportunity to continue growing and increasing my influence.

I had talked to every group within the xbox and games division about every single possible position I might be good for in the last 9 months. It was a dead end, unfortunately. But God knows where I would fit best, not me.

In other news... Life has been pretty darn good. Sure it has it's bumps and hills- Rosemary had her wisdom teeth out recently, Judah is having a hard time with discipline on some nights, and Taylor cries a lot. But overall, I think Rosemary and I are figuring out on a daily basis how to be better parents, and how to also focus on eachother more. My parents have been kind enough to offer to babysit every other week, which has let us have more alone time, which is darn critical. We've had some pretty fun dates recently. The food isn't always the best, or missing a showtime here and there, but just being alone with my best friend feels so relaxing and invigorating. I love her to death, and she needs this time just as much as I do, with those two little life suckers always taking their daily toll on her. :) We had some out of town family over this weekend, and it was a ton of fun. It's so good to have sane, nice family visit. People that share your ideas about life, and enjoy your company. Rosemary also got to go to the craft and gift fair with her mom a couple weekends ago, and I was so happy to let her get out of the house without the kids. It wasn't easy(for me), but it always gives a much needed perspective on how Rosemary's daily life is, when I haveto live it just a little bit. My respect and awe of her increases every time I do.

Our finances are really starting to come together now, too. Our car insurance just went down dramatically, and we've got a refinance coming. Being debt free really helps- most couples are too busy paying large corporations crazy amounts of interest, instead of keeping that money for themselves. I wouldn't say we live real lavishly or anything, but it's so important to have the option to GIVE our extra money away, instead of needing to constantly pay off debt or handle the next crisis, which everyone has. In the early church, right after Christ died, the church was described as a group of people that supported eachother fully, and helped provide for eachother whenever someone was in need. I want to be like that. I want to humble myself and give money to people that need help, instead of always spending it on myself. I hope I've achieved that, and I hope to continue to. Life is so much more important than money, and praise God for letting us live a life where we can embody those core beliefs.

I'm sort of just rambling on different topics, but I needed to blog. :) So enjoy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Far above the earth, many years from now, a large community ship in geosynchronous orbit slowly rotated around the earth in a purposeless fashion. Aboard, thousands of human survivors live in attached life pods, which made up the hollow, somewhat spherical shape of the community ship. The wide and bright front windscreens faced inward on the ship, and were surrounded by magcon lights that inform all that can see that the occupant is protected from the harsh vacuum of space. With little space, the occupants usually focused on their projected computer screens, which gave them the ability to communicate with eachother as well as options for entertainment. Inside the giant community craft, there was no atmosphere- the designers of the ship had no time or resources to do anything but design the life pods and the connecting brackets that ultimately made up the entire craft. Inside the vast expanse of the ship floated a small craft capable of holding seven- the Executors. These Executors were often considered more powerful than even the Grand Council- not because their influence was more far reaching, but because the real ideas and actions spawned from them, and not from the good looking politicians they served.

Inside the Executor ship, the occupants were hours deep in brainstorming sessions, as they usually were. Chak wearily rubbed his eyes and glanced out of the glass multi-faceted compartment, to the thousands of citizens. Immediately, he noticed the green lights on top of each life pod were not lit. Frantically rising, he craned his neck to see all around- indeed, everywhere he looked, the green occupancy health light was off on all of the pods. All, but one. One of the pods near the theoretical "top" of the craft was still lit. Chak raced to the executor's ships controls, and jammed the throttle full forward and oriented the craft towards the lone projected survivor of what was sure to be some expected cataclysmic event that spelled certain doom for almost all of the citizens. Only the computers knew of whatever would happen, for they controlled the green health indicator lights. Something was seriously wrong. The other executors looked up, weary from their tiresome debating and theorizing, to see what was unfolding. Immediate panic gripped them, and a few of them, understanding what Chak was trying to do, shouted "we'll just crash into him and destroy ourselves anyways!" Chak spun the ship around and went engines first towards the lone green light Just as they were meters away from impact, a beautiful blue shockwave ripped from one side of the ship to the other. The ship started coming apart at thousands of seems, and the magcon lights around each pod started stuttering and winking out.

The moment became a little surreal to Chak. He could see the people writhing in their capsules- no doubt subject to the cold and oxygen-free vacuum of space that assaulted them as soon as the magnetic containment fields collapsed. As he peered around to the aft, he noticed a seem starting to form near their projected trajectory. He deftly aimed the craft for the seem, and silently repeated a quick prayer that it would open enough, or that the impact would be obsorbed by the engine compartment, so that the executors might live. He saw the face of the lone survivor in his pod- he was white with shock, as he saw the events unfold before his eyes. The executor ship was hurtling towards him, and all he knew of life was coming apart in a near instant.

Friday, October 08, 2010

I'm so angry right now.


Microsoft has just announced that there will be massive health care changes, due to the new obama healthcare legislation, which taxes cadillac health care plans immensely, which will apparently make them extinct.

Right now, at microsoft, if my son needs to go to the hospital, we take him. It's fully covered. Zero costs. Even if I have to take him 4 times a year, or 30 times a year. That's a "Cadillac healthcare plan" and it gives me the safety and security that I know I can get my family treated no matter what. Microsoft cannot afford to continue providing cadillac plans, because it was the Obama administration's plan to tax them so heavily so they could pay for the rest of the obamacare legislation. It looks like they didn't figure in the fact that everyone will abandon these top tier healthcare plans because of the tax, and now their plan for how to pay for their healthcare is now gone. So now obamacare is unfunded, AND it's destroying top tier healthcare plans for middle class hardworking people.

OBAMACARE = SUCCESS! Let's just remove good healthcare from the majority and make EVERYONE have mediocre healthcare plans that cost thousands out of pocket. YAY.

Now I don't have enough of the details to fully understand the new health care plan options, but it seems at around 2013, we will be fully under obamacare plans, with deductibles, co-pays, and so on. Taking my son to the hospital will cost me $1500 up front out of pocket, and 10% of total cost up to $1,000. Well our last hopsital visit costed almost 10 grand, so that's something like $2500 out of pocket. And Judah visits the hospital several times a year.

YAY GO OBAMA! You are a failure as a president and you are destroying healthcare for millions and plunging us into trillions of dollars of more debt.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Judah's 2nd birthday

So yesterday Judah turned 2 years old. Quite the milestone. For the last few months, we've been marvelling at how wonderful his language skills have come, telling ourselves surely a 1 year old cannot normally have such a firm grasp of English. I'm sure some of it is just because we think our child is a genius because he is our child. But now we won't be able to say that as much, because he is 2 now. He's getting a grasp on the counting thing now, as well, and he'll properly answer you when you ask him how old he is.

It's a real joy being a father. Judah is such a wonderful little child. He has his fits, like any other kid, but for the most part he is a curious, interesting, fun little boy. I'm very proud of him. He can do and say some pretty impressive things, but most of all- he's my son. I just can't WAIT to take him shooting, fishing, bicycling, hiking, playing video games together, and so forth. We already have a BLAST playing in the back yard and in the play room, and he really loves it. It's so incredibly important to keep him into the physical activities, because look around- childhood obesity is now considered an "epidemic" in our country, and a lack of work ethic is one of the many reasons this generation is having a very hard time finding jobs. Apathy is rampant, and the average toddler watches 4-6 hours of TV a day. That's more than the average face time they get with their parents... yeah.

I'm so very happy that we can afford to have Rosemary stay home and focus on our children's development and family life. Yeah we have less money. But you know what? When I look at Judah, all those concerns melt away, and I just want to be the very best dad possible.

In just one year, he's learned to walk, talk, run, jump, slide, climb, manipulate, beg, empathize, and lie. So Judah, here's to a new year, with even more exciting developments, and more exciting family fun. I look forward to being the best father I can to you, and enjoying your snuggles and punches.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First day back at work after we had the baby.  Yeah, it's been a while since I blogged.  I had a baby, spent 750 bucks on my cat who was very sick, thatched my back yard, buffed/waxed my car, got new tires, had the house painted, etc etc.

It was good to get some things done around the house.  The time off was also good for Judah and I, because we became best buds while mommy was taking care of baby sister.  Poor guy though, I'm home for a month and I go back to work, and it's probably a huge shock to him- he wakes up and his dad is gone all day.  Well the month was good- it felt long, and short, all at the same time.

So here I am, back at work.  It sounds like there are some major shakeups coming for my team.  My boss won't tell me, we just had our 1 on 1 meeting and he didn't say a peep, but he's not real great at hiding important meetings.  I saw on his calendar, an hour long meeting in sammamish titled "Rick Ochs' role in Strategic Adoption" with a bunch of text in it that sounded like there won't be a place for my skill set in this team much longer, and in the meeting a different, senior team member was invited, too.  Sounds like my boss will be getting all of his employees removed, and they will be redistributed between two of the other people in the team, and in addition, they might try to move me out to a different group or something.  We'll see I guess, but my skip level manager set up a private 1 on 1 with me for tuesday morning.  Probably when she thought I would be back from my paternity leave. heh.

So we'll see how all this shakes out.  It's a little bit of an answer to prayer, just because my relationship with my boss is so rocky, but it's also a very unsteady feeling, not knowing if they want to just tell me to find another job, or if they will just keep me around as baggage for some time.  Who knows.  But it doesn't bode well for my yearly review, either. :(

Anyway.  That's life.  I miss my family quite a bit right now...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

What a crazy week.  So the hiring manager for that position was on vacation all last week, and didn't complete all the interviews yet.  So I'm still waiting on that. 

I've been praying and thinking hard about my work situation, and since I don't feel that the job is a lock for me, I've been trying to work hard on my current projects and continue to deliver value.  I had a sad talk with my boss the other day, where he basically told me he ranked someone else ahead of me (someone that most everyone in the office finds a joke of an employee).  It got me pretty frustrated, that's for sure.  Well, in all of this reflection and prayer, I am constantly reminded that I need to work hard and be a servant, no matter my circumstance- because the word tells me, work as if God is my boss.  He's got my future mapped out- every day, every hour, and he knows me better than I know myself.  Each action or lack of action is guided for my benefit, and the only way I will benefit is if I continue to try hard and get the most out of whatever situation I am in- even if it means working for a man that sees little value in me, despite my accomplishments.

So here I am at work on the tuesday after a three day weekend, working hard.  I'd rather be at home, letting other people take over my projects, staying with my wife and child, waiting for my next child.  God knows, they could use me there.  Which brings me to my next topic.

BABIES.

Rosemary is halfway thru week 38 now, and she's been miserable since... well, since the start of this pregnancy. :( We were really hoping the baby would come over the 3 day weekend, for several reasons... the end of the pregnancy, to see our little girl, and so I didn't haveto go back to work, you know, in a legitimate way.  Well that didn't happen, and the weekend was only so-so because of the side effects of being 38 weeks pregnant.  She lost her mucous plug on sunday, so we're on notice, but man. come on.  Let's get going here.  I need a month off pretty bad, and I'd love to spend it with my family and be there with my wife.  God knows my breaking point, and he knows my wife's, and he won't take us past that.  I gotta keep putting my trust in Him- Father knows best.


Ricky

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Post Interview Thoughts:


Wow.  That series of interviews was very tough.  Probably the hardest interview loop I've ever been a part of, on either side.  The interviewers were really great at locking in on the purpose of the loop system, which is to slowly zero in on a candidates weaker areas and understand them better, in addition to assigning different areas of focus for each of the interviewers.  I felt like most of the interviews went pretty well, and I felt like overall they liked me.  They liked my passion and desire to work on the team, but the big con that kept appearing throughout the day was that my troubleshooting skills were a little rusty.  It's been about a year, year and a half, since I was actively troubleshooting complex issues on a regular basis, so those skills are a little rusty, and they keyed in on that pretty well.  That, and the fact that I don't have experience supporting a 24x7, production environment.  They seemed willing to look past it, because I went on and interviewed with the final guy, but there are three more guys going through the interview loop.  If any of them have good operations experience combined with a good head on their shoulders, they will probably take the job.

I'm sort of okay with that- it is their job to find the best candidate for the position.  I feel like I could do the job, and do it well, but it is an operations position that has an on call pager.  It is doing something I'm passionate about- working on xbox live- and I'm excited to work there if I do get the position, but I'm realistically looking at the odds and not seeing them in my favor at this point.  It's in God's hands right now- either I find favor in the eyes of the hiring manager, and he pursues me, then awesome.  If not, then I understand.

But I still need to get out of this group.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Well, looking for another job has taken a couple of big leaps in the last week or so.  My last post, on the 6th, I say that the position I was interested in opened up, after I had several informal interviews with that team already.  The team seemed like a decent fit after the informal interviews, and I saw the formal position open up in the internal careers website (I just decided to look for it on a whim and bam there it was).

Well, I shot the hiring manager an e-mail, and he immediately responded, and told me that he was planning on contacting me that day anyway, and that yes I should immediately formally apply for the position.  So I did.  I also answered several questions and provided my years past reviews to him so he can see my performance history at MS.

I was contacted last Friday about setting up a formal interview- that means that they are seriously considering my candidacy for this position, and I'm one giant step closer to getting it.  I'm not sure how many other people have made it to the interview stage, but I know lots of people are out of work and trying to get ops jobs at MS, so I wouldn't be surprised if there are several.  I'm hoping the fact that I've been growing a relationship with them for the past month or so helps.  I also have a friend that is in that group already, so I'm hoping that helps as well.  I can keep adding up things I think will help me get this job, but to be honest, it all comes down to the interviews.  If God wants me to have this job, then I'll have it, and if not, then I won't.  But, the interviews are TOMORROW.  I'm very, very nervous, and excited.  I boosted my gamerscore over the weekend to over 10,000, and I'm hoping I can interview well.  I've been told several times that I interview very well, and I scored extremely high in interview training both at Microsoft and OSC, so I really hope that my interview skills shine through here.  It's a battery of 5 or 6 interviews all in a row, with a short break for lunch.  I've done it before, when I first got this job as an FTE, but it was a bit of a shoe in, because I had already been doing that job as a vendor for a year and a half. 

I just pray for God's will, and I pray I can calm my nerves down and really knock the interviews out of the park.

On another topic... Rosemary is done being pregnant now.  She's in quite a bit of constant nagging pain, and the only thing I asked her was that she wait until after the interviews before she tries to go into labor.  (last time she jumped on a trampoline for half an hour, and we had the kid 24 hrs later)  I just pray that she can have the stamina and mental wits to outfight her hormones, and the revelation from God that this is all to grow us and challenge us, and of course to provide us a new, loved member of our wonderful family :)


WISH ME LUCK!

Rick

Thursday, May 06, 2010

So, I've been having some trouble at work lately.  My relationship with my boss has been strained quite a bit.  To be honest, I'm not even sure why.  In the last 3 months or so, things have just gotten really bad between us.  I used to be his most favorite employee, and he gave me a huuuge bonus and raise last year to show it.  But it's just been a rollercoaster of dissapointment lately.  I can't seem to please him, no matter how hard I try.  He's taken several of my projects away from me and handed them to other people who have little to no knowledge of the topic.  I constantly get looped into e-mails that are roaring with questions no one knows the answer to, about something I've always been in charge of, and for some reason he's going to other people instead of me.  It's pretty frustrating.  I know the server landscape of this division like the back of my hand, and I've been working in that area for more than 6 months now- decommissioning old servers, getting new servers, helping customers, etc. I've even written reports that show our percentages of old hardware, percentages of virtual servers, and so on- and then I see, in the latest team meeting, that another member of the team has made the exact same reports and is now "working" on it.  I guess all of that work I did was forgotten?  I'm not sure.  It definitely makes me feel small.

One of his biggest gripes with me is that I don't think "high level" enough.  I don't think from a huge over-arching year over year strategy- instead, I solve shorter term problems.  I understand this feedback, and agree with it.  My entire career has been solving small problems.  I feel like I am very, very good at solving these sorts of problems, too- as is evidenced by my promotions.  The relationship is so strained, that he's walked into my office and yelled at me recently, and told me that if I keep butting heads with him, it will hurt my career.  Great...

It sort of feels like I'm wearing out my welcome, or that this environment is getting stale for me.  Opportunity is drying up a little.  I've been looking around at other positions (honestly, I have been for years) and it's sort of spurring me on even more.  Originally my thought was that I'd rather work on projects I'm passionate about- xbox live, or the xbox itself, or maybe zune.  Something I can connect with.  I feel like if I was working on something I was crazy passionate about, I'd probably pour more effort and love into it, and do a better job.  I'm not sure if it's true, but that's what I've been telling myself.  I do pour a ton of effort into my current job, and I feel like I do well, so I don't know if I will/can actually do better.  Anyway- my point is, I've had several informational interviews with teams across the Entertainment & Devices division, and today, I looked and saw the position I've had some informationals about, open up.  So... I'm working on submitting my resume and information to the hiring manager right now.

I pray that God's will be done.  I don't like to be a thorn in the side of my boss. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Well, we moved in on Friday the 26th.  I took the day off of work, and I had help from my dad, Luke, John, and Richie.  We got it pretty much all moved that day.  On Saturday, some of Rosemary's family came over and helped us unpack, and John and I spent a few hours reorganizing the garage so we could park both cars in there.

Now, a few weeks later, we only have a few boxes of stuff left.  The garage has maybe a dozen boxes of old attic stuff I'd like to clean out/throw away, as well.  I went out and bought a bunch of house and garden care things that any homeowner needs, and I brought my dad along with me to guide my purchases of a new homeowner.  We got hoses, a lawnmower, sprinklers, moss killer, extension cords, and much more.  Rosemary also went shopping and outfitted our two guest bathrooms, as well.  They look pretty good- much better than I expected we'd be able to do in the first year.  Thankfully we came out of the whole house deal with some extra cash left over, plus not having to pay the mortgage the first month in the house let us have the slack in our budget to afford the new house items we needed like towels, lawn mowers and whatnot.

The last few weeks have been interesting.  Lots of yard work, lots of house maintenance stuff.  The TV is still sitting on the floor, because it's about an inch too tall for the TV hole in the wall in the living area.  We've been moving stuff around, reorganizing the office, the downstairs, and getting things just put away.  My commute has been a little better- maybe about 5 to 10 minutes shaved off of the total time, and since my commute is about 5 miles less each way, I've been noticing my gas tank emptying a little slower lately as well.

It's not quite home yet.  It's still just a big house we live in.  It'll start changing once we decorate more, and once we have some more memories to fill our minds.  It sounds like Grandpa will let me have his awesome Weber grill, so I'm excited to throw some BBQs this summer to help create those memories.  The backyard is in a pretty sad state right now- it wasn't when we moved in, but I mowed the lawn, and put down some moss killer, so the lawn is patchy and black.  Once I rake out the moss, it'll be an embarassing bare patch of dirt.  It'll probably take me until middle of summer before it's in a good shape, but it'll be good to have a nice healthy green lawn for Judah to play on. 

Judah LOVES the new house.  He runs around, goes downstairs to play, and has a great time.  He does essentially have an 800 square foot play room all to himself, in addition to his bedroom.  It'll change once we get some couches for downstairs and a TV, which probably won't happen for quite some time, but for now... it's just this huge cavernous room with tons of toys strewn about.

It's been real nice having new home experiences.  A lot of work, but refreshing.  And that's been helpful, because work has been pretty stressful lately.  The midyear review came and went, and it didn't go very well.  My boss continuously tells me I am one of his top employees, but rated me pretty low.  There's been some contention lately, and it makes me feel icky when I know I'm partly the cause of that.  I've been working on reminding myself that I am a servant, and I am here to serve those around me, as if it was Jesus I was serving.  That's always done me well, and I need to stick to what I know works for me.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My real estate agent just called-



The deal is 100% unblocked now! Loan approved, and we're going to try to close a few days early if possible so we can have more time to move!!!!!

YAY! WE JUST BOUGHT A HOUSE! IT'S FINAL!
Wow, what a couple of weeks. So our house deal is sort of half blocked, half not.  At first, the loan was denied to the people that are buying our house, due to the number of homeowners that are late on their dues.  So we got them more current info that shows the % of late people below 15%, which was their threshold.  BUT, apparently now that's not good enough, and they want ledger information on every single unit in the entire complex.  ugh.  So the loan officer is doing what he can now to fix all that, but we still haven't heard back that it is "fixed."

So that's in limbo, and we are slated to close next friday.  That's sort of a problem, since we really need to pack and get ready to move, but we're not sure if the deal is solid.  If that loan company does deny the loan, it'll take another week or two for the buyers to get a new loan and whatnot.


In other news, I've been job searching.  My current position has finally got the best of me, and it's time to move on.  I've been in this position for 5 1/2 years, and God blessed me with this job right out of high school, and I've had a ton of sucess here.  But alas, we've stagnated for the past year or so, and I'm just not excited about my job, or what I'm doing any more.  I want to work on something that excites me, something I can throw my energy at, where I can grow quickly and do my best work.  SO, I've been going around to different teams within Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices division, and having informational interviews, feeling the group out and seeing where I would fit best.  I've always been a gamer, and I love how technology works to create gaming environments and online play, and I'd love to work putting together the systems that bring online gaming to our customers, and I know I now have the job skills to do that, and do it well.  It looks like I'm starting to zero in on the team that would fit well for me, and it just so happens that the team in question has a job opening, my exact level, with the job description of my current skillset.  I go in for an informational interview on monday, and we decide from there if I go into the formal interview loop for that position or not.  I'm psyched, because I have been praying and fasting about getting the right job.  I had a lot of issues thinking about going to a PM position or an operations position, since they are very cut and dried, and my job up until now has been a hybrid of both of those positions.  But the position in question is also a hybrid PM/Operations guy, so it just seems to fit perfectly, which is an answer to prayer.  The perfect job, as it appears right now.  God answers prayer.  It's very evident that He has been guiding my life and blessing me- everything I do is blessed, and I can't imagine a better life.  I really can't.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

God is good.  Very, very good.

So I took my car into my shop a couple of days ago to have them listen to the motor and give it an oil change.  I switched back to redline oil, since there are so many reported problems with mobil1 synth.  Well, they do the oil change, listen to the car, put it up on the rack and poke around... and nothing. the motor sounds great.  Final word was, the top end of the motor was probably starved for oil, making some metal on metal contact where the springs are.  Should be good to go now.  That's great to hear, since now I don't haveto drop 3k for a new motor and installation.

I did my taxes on that same day.  We increased our deductions last year since our tax return was so large, so I wasn't expecting a huge return- but a little something that would help us with unexpected expenses as we move into our new house here soon.  Well, bam, our tax refund was even larger than last year's.  The amount we tithe per month has almost doubled throughout the year- because of our personal tithing goals, income increases, and whatnot.  God is faithful- that's for sure.  The tithe was a big factor in the tax return, as was the interest paid on our home loans, some childcare costs, and all that tax that was paid on my bonus (my bonus for some reason always bumps me up into the higher tax bracket, so it's taxed at something crazy like 50%).

We managed to lock in a 5% interest rate on our new home loan.  That's incredible- rates were starting to edge up right when we were getting ready to make an offer, and bam- they dip back down to 5% for just enough time for us to lock in that rate.  This drops our payments a good $30 a month from our initial estimates, and gets us in a little more comfortable territory.

We got the house we wanted for 5k less than we expected, further lowering our mohtly payment from our estimates by a good $70 a month.

The sellers agreed to all inspection items to be replaced/repaired, and they might do more than what is requested.


Soooo.... all in all, God is GOOD, all the time, and He is faithful to fulfill His promises in the bible.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So,

After writing a beginner's guide to my latest favorite game, Modern Warfare 2, and distributing it to a few people that needed some serious help, the guy that runs the Microsoft Sidewinder blog noticed and asked me to write a few articles on their blog for that game.  Since it is the most popular game in the history of gaming.  Well since then, I've written several more articles on that blog that have gotten some fair amounts of attention (a few hundred legitamate hits a day from the blog), the Sidewinder team decided to send me some free hardware.

I always was a HUUGE sidewinder fan- I had pretty much every controller they've ever made.  Sidewinder 3D pro, Strategic Commander, Voice Commander, Freestyle Pro, etc etc.  They canned that group several years ago when PC peripherals started winding down, unfortunately.  Well the team was re-created a couple years ago to mainly focus on keyboards and mice.  They've done a really great job with their latest creations, and I'm excited to help out the sidewinder team, and I'm very excited to play with the X6 keyboard and X8 mouse.  I just got them, and man, they are pretty cool.  Lots of great features, great for gaming, and a very nice tactile feel on the keys- a nice backlight on the keyboard, macro buttons, detachable num pad, and so on.  I'll probably write up a couple nice blog posts over on the http://www.sidewinderblog.com/ soon about them once I can play with them more, but wow it's a little surreal to be helping out one of the teams that helped define so much of my childhood time in front of a computer. :)

Ricky
I'm so frustrated at computer repair shops.  Recently a family member mentioned to me that they had their computer in a repair shop, and they were asking me for other potential options to the MINIMUM $500 REPAIR BILL they would charge just to pull data off of their hard drives.


WHAT?! $500 to just copy some data over?  I mean, maybe if the hard drive is smashed and they haveto use a clean room to get the data off the spindle. So I grabbed the computer from him, got one of those little USB backup drives, copied all his data over to the USB drive, (I bought some data recovery software for fifty bucks to take data off of the bum drive) and gave it back to them last night.  eighty bucks for the new drive, fifty bucks for the software, and a few hours of pulling the drives out, setting up the data copy, and verifying drive integrity etc.  all done.

This just ticks me off that these lame computer repair companies gouge so much.  I've heard so many stories of computer repair shops claiming people need new RAM, a new motherboard, and all this other junk for $800, when really... it's a software issue.  OR telling people they should reformat their computer for every minor little issue that they could fix if they were a little less lazy.  I qouted out a new computer for this family member, and the entire qoute came out to about $430, with 4 gigs of ram, two processors, new hard drives, and all that jazz.  And repair companies want often times double that just to repair bits and pieces that are only at max 100 bucks?  so lame.

Anyways.  That's my rant against computer repair shops.

Ricky

Monday, January 11, 2010

We put an offer down on the #1 house on our list a few days ago after looking at some more.  We identified our potential 2nd and 3rd choices, since we agreed the chances of us actually getting our #1 pick was pretty low.  That house was listed at 389k, and we'd haveto buy it for 375k with them paying 10k of closing, effectively 24k less than what it was listed for.  Sort of a low ball offer, so we didn't think they would accept.

We put our first offer in for 370k, them paying 10k closing, figuring if they do counter, we'd go up to 373k and then 375k or something like that.  BUT, much to our surprise, they just accepted our first offer straight up.  There was one little thing they wanted to change, which is the neighborhood review contingency, which basically gives you a couple of days to see if you like the neighborhood and opt out if you don't.  We loved the neighborhood, by far one of the best parts of the house, so it was an easy choice to waive that.  Our real estate agent, Lesa, took a look at the local sex offender registry and asked someone locally about the neighborhood just to make sure they weren't trying to hide anything, and it all checked out perfectly.

It feels definitely like God is in control of this deal, because of a few details:

- We got the house for 5k less than we ever thought we could have gotten it for. This raises our comfort level a good deal.
-  We put our offer in 5k above a previous offer they had, and they completely ignored that offer because it was an insulting lowball.  But, they accepted our offer straight away.  That tells us we came in at the best possible price.
- The house is perfect for our needs/wants list.  Perfect neighborhood, 2 car garage, big back yard, 5 bedrooms, 2500 sq ft, enough to live in basically forever.  The few downsides to the house are all either minor, or something we can fix down the road.
- we essentially got this house for 360k.  In a nice neighborhood, with all the amenities we wanted.  This house will be very, very easy to re-sell at some point, and it will most likely turn a very good profit, because of the well kept neighborhood, location, amenities, etc.  Our real estate agent is very happy about that part.

Overall, this buying a house experience went absolutely *perfect*.  Which is great, because our #2 and #3 houses on our list each had a big negative piece, either a small back yard or a bad location (across the street from a high school).

Praise God.

http://www.johnlscott.com/propertydetail.aspx?IS=1&ListingID=300434992

Monday, January 04, 2010

So...

started up my car after church yesterday to go get a haircut.

KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK

Oh no. shut off the car.  Check oil levels, add some oil... restart car.


KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK

it got a little quietter... but that's probably just the ECU trying to adjust for it.  I didn't drive it or anything, I don't want to damage the car any more than it might be right now.  No Check Engine Light, which is weird since the knock sensor should be picking up the really loud knocking.

I'm 2/3rds of a way thru this tank of gas, so it's probably not bad gas... I did just get my timing belt done 3 or 4 thousand miles ago, so maybe it's a timing issue.  Either way, there is probably something seriously wrong inside the motor. maybe I spun a bearing? that happens sometimes in these 2.0 motors that have been modified.

At about any other time in my life, I would be somewhat excited by this, because I'd have the opportunity to drop in an STI motor and continue the life of my beloved bugeye.  But... since we're in the middle of selling our house and buying another, we're absolutely zero on cash. yay.  So what do I do? Buy a beater and figure out a way to eat the cost, drive it for 6 months until I can afford to fix my WRX, or do I just try and drive my wife's car, leaving her without any options during the day?  None of the options are any good.  I could just do the cheapest repair possible on my WRX, but that doesn't make much sense either, since I'd just haveto drop in a new motor later anyways, or sell the darn thing.

I'm stuck!  Well, time to get on my knees and pray about it.  Just one more challenge in my way.  We'll get through it- God always provides.

Rick