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