Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Devilish Dilemma

So... my work situation has really gotten crazy. That big re-org that I talked about in the last blog entry happened last week, and I am left in this group doing PM work, along with 3 other people. over 70% of the team moved to various operations groups, including all of my employees, which is where I would have preferred to go- seeing as I enjoy doing build and deployment engineering. I even fought for it- I talked to my manager, then the next manager I had, then my skip level manager, and all had the same feedback- ok, we will keep that in mind, but also realize that we might not be able to move you very easily depending on various other variables, such as budget, headcount, and retaining talent. Well that was the case, as they wanted to keep me pretty badly. I went and talked to the operations team I work with, and apparently they made a pretty big push to try and get me, but were rebuffed quite thoroughly. Seems like both teams wanted me.

Well, in the meantime, I have been doing a decent job managing very, very large projects for the current team- just last weekend we had a datacenter maintenance that took over 10,000 servers down to upgrade switches. I managed the whole thing for my division- communications, smoketest, representing our division on the war room bridge, and so on. So... I feel successful here, but. I don't really enjoy being a PM. I wasn't hired to be a PM. I have pretty good impact, and work on things that span very large groups at Microsoft, but it holds little long term growth for me. Now I'm in this dilemma- if I start looking and find a great position and leave this group, I am leaving a team that loves me and that regards me highly, and I leave big broad work that I am completing with a high level of competency. I'd probably be giving up a promotion if I leave. And I might even find myself on a worse team with bad management or crummy team mates. My current team doesn't have much drama or politics, which is somewhat rare here at MS. But... long term, I'd love to be working on a product or in a group that I am passionate about. I am decidedly not passionate about IT patching or infrastructure. It's commodity work, albeit highly complex commodity work.

So there you have it. stuck between a rock and a hard place. No idea what to do, besides pray and fast.

Monday, September 19, 2011

And just like that, summer is gone.

Here I am sitting in my office at work, shivering. Like I always do, unless it's August. I need to remember to wear coats every day again, unfortunately. This summer was interesting, in that it held a lot of different experiences than a normal summer does. Some due to the weather, some due to normal life progressing for us at this stage.

First off, my daughter has learned to walk. This of course is a blessing and a curse, as she follows me around constantly whenever I am home. I like it when she's happy and wants to see me, and of course it's not very fun when she just clings to my leg and cries and yells at me for extended periods of time. We have a lot more bonding time now, with rough housing almost every morning on the bed and evening on the couch, and she can *finally* call out "dada" around the house when she's looking for me (yeah, that only took months longer than Judah, hah). She's very sweet when she's in a good mood, and very melodramatic at the inverse.

We did manage to get over to the monroe state fair and watch the car races this summer. That was great, because we've been trying to do that for the past 4 years to no avail. It was exactly as I hoped- Judah cheered and yelled for his favorite cars all night long, while explaining in detail to us exactly what was happening, or asking us what was happening. We kept him awake with greasy fries and ice cream, and lugged his tired form back to the van, all the while sleepily asked questions about race cars streamed from his mouth.

In the past three months or so, I've taken up flying RC Airplanes. It's been a fun adventure, if not something of a patience builder. My first month was mostly a disaster, with flight after flight of catastrophic results, the longest of which lasted for all of 30 seconds. I rebuilt my first plane about 4 or 5 times (thank goodness it's made of foam that glues back together) and finally picked up a smaller plane that was a little easier to get off the ground and could handle crashes a little more gracefully. It wasn't really any easier, but the percieved psychological difference of flying a much cheaper and smaller plane helped get me my confidence back. Once I started getting full flights on the little plane for a few weeks, I put my first plane back into the air, and it was far easier. Finally, I was over the learning curve of maneuvering aircraft in 3 dimensional space. Lord knows I had enough gaming experience to fly from a 1st person perspective, but it's quite different looking at the plane from the ground and knowing what direction you need to steer it. Well, after I got the hang of flying the simple trainer planes, I stepped up to more maneuverable planes. That was about two weeks ago. I've had about 20 successful flights on my two new planes, a T-28D Trojan and a Xtra Slick 3d plane, with absolutely zero crashes. I feel like I'm getting the hang of it quite a bit better, and most all of my crashing is behind me. It sure is a joy to put a plane into the air and putz around, and do some fun dogfighting manuevers or just do laps around the field near my house. Helps me sort of forget about work sometimes.

I've also been learning how to smoke meat. I've always been interested in the idea, since a few co-workers of mine in my last job had been pretty avid fans of smoked meats. Well, the whole project sort of fell into my lap when we stopped by a garage sale of my in-laws, and I saw my father in law's smoker sitting there. The sticker read "$25" and the darn thing looked completely un-used. Rosemary pointed it out to me, (I'm not sure if she was entirely serious) and within a few minutes, it was loaded into the back of the van, with a gracious "no, I won't let you pay for that thing" from John. Well, the journey started by converting the smoker over to electric, and then I started off with some simple ideas, like smoked hot dogs, smoked bacon, and so on. After a few attempts of varied success, I tackled some smoked salmon. From what I hear, it tastes very good and came out well. We did smoked ribs over the weekend, and I must say, they were quite good. If I keep figuring this out, I might haveto invest in a better smoker! haha. I have this desire to throw a bit of a smokers party and smoke a bunch of ribs and salmon and have the family over to all try it, because it's just so much fun to smoke foods for people. I guess that's a bit of my servants attitude sticking out there.

Work... well, work has been interesting. The whole package of "work" in my mind gives me feelings that oscillate back and forth between disaster and resounding success. Half of my immediate team has quit to work somewhere else at Microsoft in the last two months, mostly due to an impending re-org that has been announced for the last six months but is still extremely vague in detail. We know that our team will be split in half and doled out to a half dozen seperate teams at Microsoft, which would hurt most everyone's careers. Hence the high turnover. Two of the casualties were my boss, and my skip level boss. So now my team has no real leadership, and we are considered "self-managed." It has it's pros and cons- lack of real leadership, but also freedom to make impactful decisions. Especially leading into this potentially career impacting re-org, it has a heavy price. I am now managing a half dozen division wide projects that sort of "fell" to me due to lack of any sort of management chain. I'm happy to do them and be valuable, but I really don't enjoy Program Management work. I am a tech at heart, with management aspirations, and the PM work is good experience, but not something I thoroughly enjoy. The odds are for me to continue working on this team in that PM capacity, something I'm not looking forward to. So this is where the whole "disaster" feeling comes from, with regards to my work. To talk about the other side of the coin, the resounding success, I'll just tell you that I've gotten more visibility at much higher levels than ever before, with one of the best review scores I have ever recieved. In addition, there is a very strong possability for a promotion within the next few months. An option to consider would be to look around within the company after my promotion, and see what sort of position I could land. Maybe somewhere in one of the new cloud computing teams. It's very unfortunate that for the second time in one year, I've had my career sidelined. God is good though, and he has brought me more success through these situations so far. I trust he will continue to do so.

So that's my summer recap. :)

Ricky Ochs

Monday, June 27, 2011


Well, that was one of the best vacations I've ever had. We just got back from Kauai a few days ago, and boy was it fun.

We did three "outings" during the vacation. First, we cruised up the Na Pali coast and saw the cliffs, as well as lots of amazing beaches, most of which are inaccessible by land. Some of them are pretty famous from movies, too, like pirates of the carribean, six days seven nights, and others... it was cool, we saw a military installation for shooting down missiles, and snorkled off the reef. Followed a big sea turtle around for a bit, too.
Second outing was kayaking up the Wailua river, hiking a mile inland, and enjoying lunch and a swim at "The Secret Falls." a 110 foot water fall. It was pretty cool, and we have some pictures of us under the waterfall. Apparently fish and sticks and rocks fall pretty often, so you can't stay under too long. heh.
Third outing was a Luau, and that was interesting. I'm glad we did it, but the whole thing was a little hokey- they had almost a cafeteria like feel where they put 500 people to eat a buffet, then you watched a hawaiian dance show that had pretty awful musicians and not the most pleasing to the eye dancers. haha :) We had seen a free public show earlier in the week that was better. The fire dancers were cool though.

We rented a convertible mustang, and that was sort of neat, driving around with the top down and enjoying the breeze and smell of the ocean. We snorkled 4 times, saw some of the most amazing, brightly colored fish you'll ever see, and attempted to body board several times as well. I say attempted, because on 10 foot surf, it's very very difficult to body board well. We got the hang of getting out there and positioning, but we rarely were able to catch a good wave that brought us in. It was a ton of fun though, and great excercise. AND, booze is about a quarter the price there. So we came back with some of that. Not that we drink a lot, but man, why not stock up a bit when it's that cheap?

We came back extremely happy and relaxed. Of course, the kids are already driving us up the wall, but it's OK. We had a great vacation, and life is good.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Great proverbs

Proverbs chapter 9 & 10 are especially good for me with my current challenges that God has given me. I need to be very consistently reminded of certain truths, in order to keep a level, sane head. Proverbs does the trick nicely, because it's almost like reading laws of common sense. Each of these proverbs is like a "well duh" statement, but to see it written and endorsed by God is... good, and encouraging for me, as I attempt to follow on this path laid before me.

Here's a few excerpts:

7 Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return.
Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt.
8 So don’t bother correcting mockers;
they will only hate you.
But correct the wise,
and they will love you.
9 Instruct the wise,
and they will be even wiser.
Teach the righteous,
and they will learn even more.

4 Lazy people are soon poor;
hard workers get rich.

8 The wise are glad to be instructed,
but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.

17 People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life,
but those who ignore correction will go astray.
18 Hiding hatred makes you a liar;
slandering others makes you a fool.
19 Too much talk leads to sin.
Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.

25 When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away,
but the godly have a lasting foundation.

32 The lips of the godly speak helpful words,
but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Funny, how

Funny, how disasters sort of wake people up. What's happening in Japan right now is crazy, thousands dead, millions without power and water. A lot of people on the preparedness discussion alias have been talking about it, but what's funny, is how many of them are commenting that a lot of their friends and family are contacting them for preparedness advice since the quake hit. For instance, all local sources of the radiation pill are sold out, since the reactor shutdown that happened in Japan. One person even said they had an emergency neighborhood meeting around preparedness, where people were on the verge of panic.

I'm glad for things like this- not for the loss of life or well being, but that it opens peoples eyes, and makes them see what's important in life. Living day by day, status quo, seems good and feels good, but life gets interrupted all the time, and should be expected and planned for. The person too comfortable in their own little box in society is the person that will stand to lose the most when anything happens.

Do I live in fear? Absolutely not. That's why I have prepared, so I do not haveto. Same answer when people ask me why I carry a gun- am I scared? Nope, I'm not- because I'm carrying a gun. (duh)

Just like anything in life, resources are a tool. A means. They can be used for whatever you want- more TVs, cars, sound systems, and so on, or you can live a simpler life, and still have your happiness, while having some extra food in the garage and a few supplies stored away. After every major quake around the world, several very, very smart geologists come out of the woodworks and remind us that the pacific north west has it's very own fault line all to itself, and it's due for a magnitude 9+ earthquake any year now. People nod and go "yeah, pretty scary!" and continue on their day. Helllllooooo... pay attention folks. I know it's not fun to think about scary stuff, but there's pretty much zeroooo downside to being prepared. Oh, so you have an extra few hundred dollars of gear? Perfect for going camping! Too much food? Ha. Just eat it. :P

So, I am glad that a few people are waking up. CNN had a funny poll, which asked, do you trust the government's disaster response is good enough? and the response was pretty funny. 80% said no. Just why I can't expect a cop to be around every time a crime is committed, I carry a gun- I can't expect the government to protect me from everything in life. I am responsible for me and my family, and I will protect and care for them to the best of my abilities at all times.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My conservative day

Last friday, I took the day off from work to get a bunch of errands done that couldn't easily be done on a weekend. I set out at about 10 am, in a pretty good mood. Some of the things I had set out to do were things Rosemary and I had been thinking about doing for some time, so I was excited to finally get some of our goals taken care of.

First I went to BECU, and took out the money I would need for the next few stops in my trip. It was a pleasant experience. I gotta say, BECU is quite a bit better than chase, and I'm glad we switched- I was pulling out a large sum of money, and they didn't give me any troubles at all, like Chase always does. Quick and courteous, and the teller had a beautiful new engagement ring on. She glowed when I complemented her, and it's cool to see happy people that are good at their jobs. :)

Second, I went down to Federal Way, to Northwest Territorial Mint, and picked up a gold american eagle coin, and some silver coins. My dad has been pushing me pretty hard to get some precious metals to help hedge against inflation, due to the entire united states economy hanging by a thread of debt. (of course, my opinion is food and supplies first, money second) I was surprised by the huge number of people in the lobby of the mint, waiting to buy or sell precious metals. Seems sort of weird to me, because I didn't think buying and selling gold/silver was that popular to the common population, but I guess it's getting more popular. The sales lady that helped me with my metals purchases also had a beautiful engagement ring on, and she also glowed after I complimented her on it. Again, another great service experience overall.

Third, I went all the way down near mcchord air force base, to a really cool shop called Surplus Arms & Ammo. This place... was completely awesome, in a guy sort of way. The shop was small, but packed out with tons of cool gear. Not junky old surplus stuff, everything was new, wrapped, and super cheap. I managed to pick up all the ammunition I had on my list, at a significantly lower price than I had priced out originally from their website. Quite shocking, when the website pricing was already some of the best I'd ever seen. I even managed to pick up a rear sight for one of my weapons, and still stay several hundred dollars under budget. :) They had cheap magazines, ammo, reloaded ammo, guns, gun parts, and more. So cool, I could spend all day in that little place.

Fourth- I went and got a burrito from Taco Time. A man's gotta eat, right?

Fifth- I dropped off some of the ammo at my parent's place, talked to my dad and Grandpa for a little bit. My dad tried to steal my new gold coin... and he denied all allegations. Liar.

Sixth- I went home and enjoyed spending the rest of the day with my lovely wife, and my son, who after seeing the gold coin, told me it was his, and that he was going to go put it in his piggy bank. I guess it technically is his- if it really does help us secure our future, it's all for him anyways.

I felt like I needed to bash Obama on facebook or something to round out my right wing crazy nutjob day. :) I refrained, of course, in good taste.

Friday, February 25, 2011

New experiences

So I had to "let someone go" a few weeks ago. It ammounted to me letting their vendor company know that their contract was going to expire on a certain date. I felt like I sort of cheated the system a little bit, because I didn't actually haveto do the entire "can I see you in my office?" bit, with the long hard talk about how their services were no longer needed. I just told the vendor company, and that was that. I felt relieved. :) I gave this guy a few weeks to ease his transition, find a new position, so on.

Enter today. This guy swung by my office about 30 minutes ago and asked if he could talk. Fortunately, I was a tad busy, and told him I'd come collect him in a few minutes (secretly hoping he had a work related question, and not seeking a question about why his employment was nearing it's end).

He swung by a few minutes later, and there was a lul in my work, so I invited him in. This guy is a diminuitive 4 foot 11 indian guy, maybe 90-100 pounds. When he got back from india a few weeks ago, he told me he had just secured enrollment for his children into the most prestigous school in all his city. So, he nervously asks me "My vendor company has come to inform me that my contract is ending soon. May I come to know why, what the reasoning is behind the contract being removed?"

Pretty articulate, for him, actually- one of the reasons we decided to let him go, was that no one really understood him very well. I want to hire someone to really strengthen and bolster my team's abilities and help me achieve some of my goals for my team.

So after he asked the question, I had to explain. Well, the application you work on doesn't have enough hours of work to justify a full headcount. My other two vendors are currently working on in-flight high profile projects with a full workload. I made a mistake here, and I told him that there were also budgetary issues, too, which isn't true. I regret saying it, but I was sort of stammering to provide him with answers that didn't make him feel bad. I don't want to lie like that, and I will try not to do it again. Just sort of slipped out when I was thinking of how else to let him down easy :( One of the issues was his vendor company only told him a week ago, which is unfortunate, because I wanted him to have several weeks of time to look for new positions and get ready for the change. I apologized to him about that, and told him his vendor company was responsible for helping him find a new position and place him correctly, and that his resume is strong enough that he shouldn't have too much of a tough time finding new work. I sort of believe it, but I honestly can't recommend him to any team asking me for info on him. He's just not strong enough technically and personally, and I haveto be a good steward of Microsoft's money.

Business is hard sometimes. It's these sorts of decisions, where I need to do the right thing for the company and my team, that cause all sorts of "companies are evil" type crap talking. I'm not an evil person, and I'm doing my best to have a great build team that does great work. I'm sure situations like this all over the world cause people to get angry and hate companies and not understand intentions. Such is life, I guess. The anti-business rhetoric is extremely high right now, and I guess I'm part of that big business machine now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The story below was about a zombie. I'm thinking about changing it a little bit to reveal the fact that he was a zombie at the end, so it sort of "pops" in your mind and makes more sense. I'll haveto try it...

I'm sitting here in all day training about a really terrible application we all haveto use quite a lot at work but that everyone hates. So I'm not paying too much attention, since I know most of it.

Lately, it's been a bit of an emotional rolloercoaster at my house. We have a new person staying at the house, a friend of mine, who we decided to try and help out by offering him a room for relatively cheap so he can get back on his financial feet, and get some accountability to help him out. Well, he's a nice guy, but he hates the idea of accountability, and he values his freedom a lot, so it's quite the strain. He's never home, which isn't an issue in my opinion, but he's not a man of his word so it's very difficult to nail him down on anything, and he feels guilt tripped all the time whenever we ask him *anything*. So it's a tough situation, and maybe the best is just for him to move back out, I'm not sure. It's a strain on all of us, and maybe he doesn't understand that living with people is a sacrifice and hard work, not all roses. Before he moved in, he was excited about what God was doing in his life, and we were meeting weekly to read the word and talk about repentence and other Kingdom principles. After he moved in, every time we talk about these things he feels like I'm judging him or measuring him against a list of things he needs to meet to live with us. It's partially true, as well- he drinks too much for my liking in my house. He feels like it's an acceptable level, and I do not. He gets offended when I talk to him about it, in any manner.

It's exasperating. I love him to death and would help him in any way possible, but man, it's not real effective if he's running scared from me. He's got the same complaints luke did... "you guys are constantly judging me and looking down on me" which is so exasperating to hear. First off, Luke was off being a druggie while living in our house, and earned all the "talks" he got, which wasn't even that many. Second off, our new house mate is extremely sensitive. I can also be sensitive, which makes it harder, because when he gets so easily offended it sort of hurts me, too, when he obviously doesn't trust me or my intentions, when the whole goal of this entire arrangement was to help him and give him a home.

He doesn't feel comfortable in our home... so, ok, if the heat gets turned up and you are being sharpened by iron, it hurts. Get over it, humble yourself, and do what you can to stop being offended and work together to fix issues. That message goes for me, and everyone else.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

He awoke with a groan, feeling throbbing pain throughout his body. Slowly, he pulled himself up off of the floor and glanced around. Nothing unusual, but the abandoned library was usually pretty quiet. He decided to go off to the city center and see if anything interesting was going on. He noted the rumble in his belly, and decided it was probably best to keep an eye out for anything to satiate the insane desire to eat.
As he arrived at the commons near city center, he noticed a commotion already starting. There were several other people crowding around something he couldn’t quite see. He tried to peer through the bodies into the middle of the commotion, but all he saw was flesh and clothes. As he neared the situation, he saw what it was. Someone had found a wild animal and, as expected, the throng of people were all attempting to rip it from his grasp. The animal was clearly dead, even half torn apart, but that didn’t stop anyone. He sauntered off, knowing that he really didn’t have any chance at any of the meat.
As he slowly made his way around in the morning light, he studied the buildings around him. They always felt so familiar, yet he couldn’t quite place it. Sometimes, he’d have quick moments of remembrance from a particular bench, street, or field, but they always seemed to flee before he could wrap his consciousness around it. He found one such park bench and decided to sit and see if anything interesting would come along. He repressed the urge of hunger, knowing that he probably wouldn’t have much luck anyway.
As he sat there watching the trees sway, he felt the inexorable draw towards a certain building. Just like most everything, he couldn’t identify the reasoning behind the draw, but he picked himself up and made his way over to the structure. There were glass doors at the front of the building, and it looked like lots of small colorful objects inside on shelves. He made his way to the front, and started hammering at the doors, not quite sure how to enter. Eventually, one of the doors wiggled a little bit and he pushed at the edge and it swung wide open. He made his way down one of the many aisles, keeping his eyes darting about for any potential danger.
He heard a scream and a large boom from outside. He quickly turned around and narrowed his gaze out the front doors, near the bench he had previously occupied. There- someone was being murdered! He saw a diminutive woman with a piece of wood with some metal sticking out of the end, standing over the body of some unfortunate person. She glanced around and quickly moved away, not wanting to draw more attention to herself than necessary. There seemed to be a few other people with her, but they were far more stealthy, not wanting to attract attention either. But it was too late.
As he got near the front doors, he saw a growing group of people forming as they made their way down the street, towards the body that was still leaking fluids, and ultimately, the girl and her companions. One of them shouted, and fire spouted from the wood and metal stick he carried, towards the oncoming group of people. He saw some of them fall, but that only enraged the survivors even more, as they picked up speed. Slipping out of the front doors, he decided he might be able to stop some of these people from being senselessly murdered- and he also noticed the rumble in his stomach growing louder. He eyed the wood stick with trepidation, knowing that it had felled many a fine person.
Instead of rushing straight on towards the group of stick-wielding murderers, he loped in behind them. It was almost too easy, with the throng of folks rushing at them taking most of their attention. He neared the first girl that he saw, the one that committed the first murder. As he got closer, he picked up speed and started roaring as the adrenaline and hunger for vengeance stirred within him. She turned around just as he arrived at her- only to take a fist to the stomach and have a bite taken out of her shoulder. She screamed to try and alert her companions, but it was too late for her- the blood gushing from her shoulder was too much. Several of the others looked back and saw the situation. As they reoriented their sticks of fire, they were overtaken by the large group of people from behind. But not before one of them got a shot off.
As he lay there in a steadily growing pool of blood, he remembered his name. Joe.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Hi all.

So my vision has been getting blurry earlier and earlier in the day, as the years have gone by. I attribute most of it to staring at really superbright LCD screens all day every day. They used to get blurry at around 4pm, and then 3... and then 2, and now it's down to like 11-12am. Not good! I was just guessing it's eye strain and fatigue, so I checked into some LCD glasses. But Rosemary helped and schedule me an appointment with an eye doctor.

So I went. And they told me I have a small astigmatism... argh. Frustrating, because I feel like my eyesight is perfect in the morning. But she had me try on some glasses, and... I could see perfectly, without straining or squinting. So I guess she knows what she's talking about. She told me my eyes were probably focusing harder and harder to counter the astigmatism, and they get tired as the day progresses, and have trouble keeping focus. So I should wear the glasses all day. I'm sort of expecting to only wear them when I'm at my desk, to be honest. I'm hoping that relieves enough eye strain so that my vision remains clear for the rest of the day.

Anyways. That's my glasses post.

I get them tomorrow.