[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Sunday, 2011-08-21

The Mugs of August – Circuit City Oktoberfest 2006 mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Work — bblackmoor @ 21:39
Circuit City Oktoberfest 2006 mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

In 2006, I worked at Circuit City for six months. It was my first job in Richmond, and the beginning of our new life up here. Sadly, I immediately saw that the handwriting was on the wall. The company was woefully mismanaged: it was clear that the people making decisions in upper management had no awareness of what anyone working in the company actually did. I was hired during one of the brief upticks in what was obviously a years-long death spiral. Circuit City became the first of a series of companies on my resume which are no longer in business.

I did get this swell Oktoberfest mug, though.

Friday, 2011-08-12

The Mugs of August – Nikon camera lens mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Work — bblackmoor @ 20:53
Nikon camera lens mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

I bought this mug for a friend who is a photographer. He’s been in IT for years and years, and we have shared some of the same anxieties and frustration that can cause. He got a new job about a month ago, and I was so happy for him, so I bought this for him as a gift. I haven’t seen him since then, which is why I still have it.

When I bought it, I thought it was a travel mug, but it’s not. The lid closes tightly: it’s not something you can drink through. Ah, well. I don’t think my friend drinks coffee, so this is just a novelty for him anyway. I hope he likes it.

Monday, 2011-08-08

The Mugs of August – ManTech International coffee mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Work — bblackmoor @ 20:32
ManTech International coffee mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

In between working at Circuit City and my current job at OneBookShelf, I did a lot of freelancing and a lot of contracting. Most of these were, by their nature, short term gigs. Come in, take a seat, get the job done, go home and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

One of the few contracting gigs which I left of my own accord was with ManTech. It was a great job: I was a Solaris system administrator for the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA). The only problem was that it was nearly an hour drive away, and closer to 90 minutes away from our dream property (on which we still, at that time, planned to build a house and ultimately retire). However, system administration can be and nearly always is done remotely. There is no technical or security reason why I couldn’t do the job from the other side of the world, much less from 90 minutes away. And as it happens, the US Government, and DeCA in particular, has a policy not just permitting, but actively encouraging telework.

This directive implements the requirements of Section 359 of Public Law No. 106-346 which requires each Agency to establish a policy under which eligible employees of an agency may participate in telework to the maximum extent possible without diminished employee performance.

(DeCA Telework Directive and Guidance)

So I took the position, secure in the knowledge that I would be able to transition to telework.

You should have seen the face of my supervisor the first time I asked when I might be able to transition over to teleworking a few days a week. You’d think I had asked to use the agency’s servers to torrent porn. Suffice to say, the answer was no way, no how, despite the fact that I never actually physically interacted with the agency’s servers (I wasn’t even on the same floor), and that DeCA policy demanded the availability of telework.

I was barely able to stand the drive to work as it was: there was no way I would be able to tolerate a three-hour round-trip commute. So I found another gig, and left ManTech and DeCA behind. This coffee cup is my only souvenir of that experience.

It’s rather a nice mug, though: large, sturdy, with a rubber base and a comfy handle. I use it often.

Thursday, 2011-03-10

Politics vs intelligence

Filed under: Society,Work — bblackmoor @ 18:55

The US director of national intelligence, a retired Air Force general with 47 years in the intelligence business, with access to the $80-billion American spying bureaucracy, made more than a few politicians upset today. What did he do? He answered their questions, and didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear.

Watching the video of the exchange gave me flashbacks. I am glad that I no longer work in the government arena. I may not have as much responsibility, but what I do now is a lot less stressful, and a hell of a lot more honest.

Monday, 2010-09-13

First day on the new job

Filed under: Work — bblackmoor @ 21:10

Today was my first day on the new job. This is the first time I have been an actual employee, rather than a consultant, contractor, or freelancer, in over a decade. Not being able to set my own hours is a bit of an adjustment, but having a reliable, consistent paycheck is something I eagerly anticipate getting used to. Not to mention that I love what I am doing.

Six months ago I was completely serious about getting out of IT entirely. I was beyond burned out. I was bitter. It’s amazing how things can turn around.

Thursday, 2010-06-17

IT Burnout

Filed under: Technology,Work — bblackmoor @ 11:39

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free ProductivityYou may be surprised to know that I have not always loved my job. Yes, it’s true. There have been days when I feel unappreciated, overworked, underpaid, disrespected… days when I just want to chuck my keyboard in a trash bin and go apply at the closest Starbucks.

Today is not one of those days. I am actually feeling pretty good about what I do for a living, and I am optimistic about the future. However, burnout is a real danger in IT, and it can have real effects on one’s health, happiness, and relationships. Tech Republic has an article about it. Why not read it, and take the burnout assessment quiz? It couldn’t hurt.

Thursday, 2010-06-10

A very good day

Filed under: Work — bblackmoor @ 00:35

Today has been a very good day. I have hardly coughed at all, and my ribs are not hurting anywhere near as much as they did yesterday. I put the last coat of clear lacquer on my steampunk nerf gun (photos of that are forthcoming, once I assemble it). I had lunch with a friend (Greek food, yum!), and we chatted about our respective IT projects. The client that bounced a $2000 check to me has promised to pay that and everything else they owe (knock on wood). Best of all, I put in a full day working on a project for a new client (not the one that bounced the check), doing work I enjoy a great deal.

Everything’s going so well!

Saturday, 2010-06-05

Why I no longer do web design

Filed under: The Internet,Work — bblackmoor @ 11:28

I got my start in computers by writing small applications in Basic, and then Visual Basic. In the late 1980s, I wrote a program that backed up selected directories by copying them, zipping them up, and writing them to floppy disks. In the early 1990s, I wrote macros to integrate PGP and Microsoft Word. I also wrote a reasonably popular dice-rolling program (I was one of the first few thousand people to do so). However, I got my start working in IT by doing web design. My friend Nathan told me about NCSA Mosaic in early 1993, and within two months of the release of Mosaic, I was creating web pages. (It still amazes me that the web took off like it did — I just thought it was a neat toy.)

I eventually migrated from what I call “front end” work (the part of a web site people can see), to “back end” work (the stuff behind the scenes that actually makes a web site work — setting up databases, writing scripts, managing servers, and so on). One reason for this is that I am not a graphic designer — I am simply not an artist. Another reason is that as more people learned how to do “web design”, I could maintain my value by doing something more difficult (difficult for other people; not necessarily difficult for me).

However, the number one reason I moved away from web design and toward back end work is because I had too many web clients who made my job difficult. Not all of them. Perhaps not even most of them. But a lot of them. What do I mean by “difficult”? I mean this.

How a web design goes straight to hell

Friday, 2010-06-04

Boldly they rode and well

Filed under: Work — bblackmoor @ 09:37

I have been unemployed for a full year, subsisting on freelance and consulting work. As of this moment, all of my job leads have led nowhere.

Time to redouble my efforts and find some new job leads!

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward!

Friday, 2010-05-28

Youth is like spring, an overpraised season

Filed under: Movies,Work — bblackmoor @ 14:11

So many interesting things are happening. My new classes start on June 1: CCJS 105, Introduction to Criminology, and CMSC 230 Computer Science II. After I finish these two classes, the rest will all be upper-level (300 and 400). I am currently 36 credits away from my Computer Science degree. I have been debating whether to get a minor in Criminology, but that would add six credits to what I still need. I am not certain that it is worth it.

I had a great job interview today, with a small marketing company that helps nonprofit organizations (and, less often, for-profit organizations) organize fund-raising events. They say that I am one of the “lead candidates”; I have a second interview scheduled for next week. I have high hopes for this. Working for a small business, helping make the world a little bit better, and still working in IT is pretty much the trifecta of what I would like to do for a living.

In other news, I picked up all five (yes, five — I was surprised there are this many) Return Of The Living Dead movies on Ebay for $21 including shipping. Not a bad deal! I think that is how I will be spending my Memorial Day weekend. I have seen the first one (which is great), and I think I have seen the third one, but the rest are unknown to me.

And I am still coughing, but much less frequently, and less forcefully, then I was.

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