Archives: March 2004
Tue 30 Mar 2004
February 2004 Top Ten Posted
The email top ten results for February have been posted.
In February, Al decided that he would once again go for the win, having last won last year in August. From the very beginning of the month he put in an effort almost every day. Every once in awhile he'd slack and have a day with under 10 emails, but most days there was a steady stream. 20 here, 30 there. On a number of days he broke 100 emails. With the biggest effort on February 14th... Valentines Day... where instead of doing something nice for his wife, he spent his time sending me 401 emails. In addition to the various reply to all's on wider discussions, Al sent me lots of interesting phrases and movie titles, and he counted a couple times, and the alphabet, and other fun things. He put in his last effort for the month on February 26th with a final 40 emails, then went away for the month, confidant that his four digit total for the month would be sufficient.
Mon 29 Mar 2004
The World is Safer!!
For the first time since I have been tracking it (in October) the number of countries with State Department Travel Warnings has gone DOWN. In October it was 25. By the end of November it was 27, where it had been holding ever since. It has now dropped down to 26.
For those wondering, the country that had a warning, but now does not, is Turkey. Turkey is now apperantly OK. So if you were holding off on your trip to Turkey, perhaps now is time to buy your tickets!
State Department Travel Warnings Over Time
A chart of how many countries world wide have US State Department Travel Warnings as that number varies over time. Serves as a proxy to chart roughly how dangerous the world is as the world situation changes over time. Perhaps not the best measure of that, but an interesting one perhaps.
Several people have asked me where the blog posting is about actually STARTING the new job. Sorry about that, it was kind of a busy week. I flew down to Florida for the work week last week and started the new job. It is going well so far.
So far I'm mainly just getting settled. Learning who people are. Learning what they do. Learning more about the product. Learning more about the plans. I imagine this phase will last a few weeks. Maybe a month. Hopefully after that it will be in full swing. I know these orientation phaes are needed and are normal, but it is frustrating. One wants to get up to speed and busy quickly.
The folks there are very nice and friendly and accomodating though. This looks like it will be a fun time.
I am back in PA this week. I have a few conference calls to attend, and a number of things I've been given to research. But I can tell this going back and forth will make it a little harder to get started up. But on the other hand, it will really help in the transition in terms of getting moved and everything.
We've probably had almost a dozen people come look at the house so far, and Brandy keeps getting more calls about it. That is good. Hopefully later this week there might actually be OFFERS. But maybe not. We'll see how it goes.
Then next week it is back in FL again, this time taking Brandy and Amy with me. It is Amy's spring break, which is why we picked that week. We'll be looking at houses and such, but depending on what is going on with the house here, we may not actually be ready to put an offer on anything quite yet. I've heard people recommend we shouldn't do that right away anyway, and spend more time getting to know the area.
But I just feel I want to get all these transition details settled, so I actually know what is happening the next few months. This back and forth thing is crazy. I want to hurry up and get things settled and get all of us down there. Of course, that won't be happening until the end of the school year in June anyway, but I want to at least nail down the schedule, know where I am going, etc.
It will be an interesting and busy few months.
Fri 19 Mar 2004
Selling My House
As of early this morning, Brandy did the required things to list my house for sale. It should show up on realtor.com and similar places soon. (It isn't there quite yet, just checked.) We're saying showings begin at the end of next week. (To give us time to finish getting the place in shape to be shown.)
Anyway, GULP. I guess this means I *really am* moving to Florida. Of course, we all knew that already, but every one of these steps brings it closer and makes it more real. Sunday I fly down to Florida to actually start. That will be another "GULP". Things are moving right along now.
Anyway, it is a 2 bedroom (one of them is a loft), 2 bathroom townhouse style condo with a full basement in Yardley, PA (Lower Makefiled Township). If anybody is interested at all, email Brandy and she'll be able to provide more info, arrange showings, and all that. Although, of course, if you actually KNOW ME, and just want to come over and visit sometime, that is cool too. :-)
Tick tock, tick tock, Florida here we come...
Wed 17 Mar 2004
Invitation: 2004 Q3 Random Vacation Picked!!!
The new random vacation has been selected!! You are all invited if you want to come. And feel free to pass this along to any friends of yours you think might be interested as well. More info below!
As usual, a budget was determined for the round trip airfare ($726.92 this time) and then random spots were selected until a spot on land came up that was within the budget and not on the current state department warning list. After 9 spots in oceans and spots in Australia and Russia that were over budget, the random spot came up fairly promptly...
The spot is in Mexico! In the Yucatan! State of Quintana Roo. A few miles outside of the town of Chacchoben.
It is about 100 miles south of Cozumel, or 150 miles south of Cancun. So those might possibly be part of any trip there, they are major tourist destinations after all, but the spot itself is further south, near Chetumal, only about 50 miles from the border with Belize.
The spot itself is only a mile or so off of Route 307. So even if one could get no closer, we could definately get to within a couple of miles. And less than 15 miles he closest major town appears to be one named Chacchoben.
After some Googling....
The town of Chacchoben features some Mayan ruins, which are open to tourism and for which one can get guided tours from several places. It is not far from the Atlantic coast, where there are a number of resorts and other good places to stay. Within easy driving distance (or via various tour companies) are many more Mayan ruins, beaches, lakes, kayaking, diving, nature reserves, resorts, etc.
From what I've read, although you can fly into the town of Chetumal which has the closest major airport, the better (and cheaper) thing to do is to fly into Cancun, then drive the 5 hours or so down to the area where the random spot is (and the resorts near it are), stopping at many of the interesting places along the way. As well as perhaps spending a little time in Cancun while there.
This is actually looking very interesting. I've posted more detailed information, as well as some maps, pictures and links to sites with more information at:
2004 Q3 Random Vacation - Selection
Check it out.
This time around, in addition to the fact that I am just starting a new job at the end of March, by the time I get to this vaction, I will be living with my girlfriend Brandy and her 8 year old daughter Amy near Melbourne Florida. Amy's school will make scheduling a little more difficult, but should still be possible. Because of the additional constraints, we may or may not be able to do a full week, but we'll work the schedule as best as possible. Brandy and Amy's logistics, as well as my own, will have a very strong influence on the details of the trip.
This is to be a 3rd quarter vacation, so that means July, August or September. Given school and all, July seems very likely over August and September. Although, I probably would have JUST gotten fully moved to Melbourne, so it may be better to do it later. Hard to tell right now. That is one reason why decisions on much of that scheduling and exact plans, etc, will be defered for at least a couple of months. By June I should have a much better idea of what is possible and what is not.
As usual, if anybody other than Brandy and Amy is also interested in coming with me, please let me know right away, and you can be part of the planning process in terms of figuring out possible dates, where to stay, what things to maybe do, etc. This one looks like it should be a lot of fun. And the more the merrier! And, um, cough, any of you NATIVE SPANISH SPEAKERS, cough, you know who you are... you would be especially welcome on this trip, and your presence would be much appreciated!!! :-) Anyway, Spanish speakers or not, if anybody reading this has any interest in this trip whatsoever, email me, and we'll work it out. This should be a blast!
Mon 15 Mar 2004
Mackay, Idaho, USA - 2003 Q3 Random Trip
At long last... way too long after it ended, sorry for the delay... the full website for the random trip to a spot near Mackay, Idaho is up and complete. In addition to myself, Marilyn and Chad also came on this random trip, and added their commentary to the website.
Those of you following my blog have probably looked at each of these pages as I have posted them, but for those who have not, check them all out:
Select - The random spot is chosen
Day 0 - Sam packs, leaves home, and meets Marilyn in Minnesota
Day 1 - We meet Chad in Boise, then drive back roads to Ketchum
Day 2 - First attempt for the random spot
Day 3 - Great views and Sam flips his bicycle
Day 4 - Concert, gym and broken camera
Day 5 - Sam gets mad and climbs a mountain
Day 6 - Mackay, river rafting, and Chad gets pulled over by the cops
Day 7 - Getting to the random spot... twice
Day 8 - Goodbye to Chad, Mall of America, Goodbye to Marilyn
Day 9 - Sam gets home, goes back to work, and moves boxes
And that's it! This was one of the best random vacations so far. We had a blast!
(Check out the earlier vacations.)
I'll be picking the next random spot sometime in the next few days. Watch for it!
2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 9 Posted!
Day 9 of the 2003 Q3 Random Vacation is now up and complete. Enjoy!
2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 9
So this time, Jon and I got there. I tried to open the door. It would not open. "Oh no!", I thought, "It did it again!". So, assuming that things had fallen again, I figured I knew what to do and got out the jack.
John and I worked with the Jack for about 10 minutes. Trying different angles. Trying to just lift it with our hands. Nothing worked. It was not budging at all.
Now, if you look CAREFULLY at the picture above, you will see the problem. OK. The padlock is off and on the ground. Good. OK, now look at the latch. Uh huh. It is still latched. I had taken off the padlock, but had not remembered to pull back the latch to actually free the mechanism so that the door could move. John and I had just spent ten minutes trying to force open a latched (but unlocked) door.
Well, once we noticed this, the door of course opened immediately and with no effort at all.
This of course means that the 2003 Q3 Random vaction website is complete. I'll make a summary blog posting (and also send out an email annoucement about it) in just a little bit.
Sun 14 Mar 2004
2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 8 Posted!
Coming to the home stretch here. Day 8 of the random vacation from last year has been posted.
2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 8
When we got off the plane, Marilyn had this inqencible desire to go see the Mall of America (largest mall in the US). There were a decent number of hours until my flight, but only a couple until Marilyn's flight. But Marilyn asked at an info booth and they gave us the bus schedule and there was enought ime to go and get back and spend a few minutes there. Barely. So it was off to the bus stop, and off to the mall.
Day 9 will be posted shortly.
Thu 11 Mar 2004
2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 7 Posted!
Finally, at long last, Day 7 is posted! And this is the day where we got there!!!
2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 7
We headed up and down and around and up into some areads that were a bit more wooded, then back out that up to more scrubby hills, then up the side of a hill around some dead trees...
And then the countdown began. 100 feet. 90. 80. 70. 60. 50. 40. 30. 20. 10... ZERO.
Day 8 and 9 will be coming this weekend I expect. Just need Marilyn's comments on Day 8, then everything will be done. After that comes the picking of the next spot...
Enjoy the random spot!
Wed 10 Mar 2004
Now *this* would be interesting. And this might be a VERY good combo. McCain would be a hoot. I would love this. It might even tempt me to vote for them. I saw McCain on the Daily Show a few weeks (months?) back and all he did was bash Bush. Stewart asked him, "Excuse me, what party did you say you were in again??" He is hilarious and refreshingly honest. Should have beat Bush for the nomination in 2000. He's a bit nuts, but in a loveable sort of way. This would be so much fun! Please do it Kerry! Please ask him!
Sen. McCain Open to Being Kerry's VP
(AP via Yahoo)
McCain said he would consider the unorthodox step of running for vice president on the Democratic ticket” in the unlikely event he received such an offer from the presidential candidate.
Mon 08 Mar 2004
A Line for Phatback
I've added a line for Al's Phatback to my Ecosystem Tracking Graph. So now you can compare Al's popularity to Rebecca and myself. I think the Ecosystem is a bit slow recognizing new links though. There seems to be some lag going on. But still a fun graph.
Now if only Al would post more.
Fri 05 Mar 2004
Some folks reading this who have been keeping in touch with me more regularly may already know much of what I will mention here, but things are now official, and so I can now discuss and announce things more widely...
At the beginning of November my position at Merrill Lynch was eliminated as it became clear that the type of role I filled was no longer desired or valued by the department I was part of. I had found out about the inevetibility of that development in mid-September. I spent October actively job hunting, but during the course of November, one by one my initial leads went dark. Then it was December and with the holidays, there was not much progress. I spent some time talking to folks about possibilities, but there was no real forward momentum.
Until the last week of December or so, when Matt at Merrill pointed a vendor he was working with at my website and my resume. The vendor called me a couple days later. Over the course of the next two months I talked to them quite a few times about possibilities and how I might fit in their organization, then I visited their location, then it was just a matter of logisitics. It seemed to take forever, but...
Yesterday morning I received their formal offer, and yesterday afternoon I sent off my formal acceptance. I will start there on March 22nd. So four months and three weeks after leaving Merrill, I will once again be fully employed. And I managed to do it before completely running down the cash reserves. It has been an interesting few months, but I certainly find no need to repeat this sort of thing often.
Now the details, which will involve some major life changes for me.
I will be the Product Manager for Presentation Librarian, the flagship product of Accent Technologies. The product is one that allows companies to manage, control, access and utilize their presentation assets subject to usage rules defined by policy or regulatory requirements. The position will be right up my alley, involving a lot of high level strategic thinking about content management, and specifically how this specific product should evolve over time to best serve clients and compete in the marketplace. I will be interacting extensively with the internal technical and sales teams as well as with clients to determine goals and directions, and then work toward implementation. I have been very excited about the possibilities in this position since my first conversations with Accent. It should be a spot that challanges and stretches me, while also directly utilizing the areas in which I am strongest, something which I'd been missing more and more of the last couple years at Merrill. I am excited and anxious to get started.
As always though, there are wrinkles. While I just bought a home and moved to Yardley, PA in August, Accent is not located within easy commuting distance of my new house. No, Accent is in Melbourne, FL. Not anywhere near here. Not anywhere near anywhere I have ever lived. So relocation is in order. I will be moving from Pennsylvania to Florida.
In the mean time, over the last year there have been personal developments. Since Feb 2003 I had been regularly seeing Brandy as a "friend" but over time that developed into more. In November I stopped being stubborn and admitted we were a couple and started acting like it, even though the reality was that we really had been developing that relationship for months before that. Since then things continued to develop and get stronger. Once the possibility of me relocating came up, the possibility of Brandy and her daughter Amy following me came up almost immediately. At first it was just a question and a possibility. Things were early yet in the relationship. But by the time the possibility had become real a couple months later, there was no longer any question. Brandy, Amy and I had bonded into a family, and whatever we are going to do, we will do together. So Brandy and Amy will be going with me to Florida. (Probably after Amy's school year is over.)
So, starting next week I will begin the process of moving. I will be selling my home in Yardley, PA. (So if anybody out there is interested in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath townhome in Yardley with a big basement... let me know!) I will be shopping for a similarly priced house in the Melbourne, FL area. Since housing prices are less there, the same price should let me get a bit larger place, which is needed anyway since there will now be three of us instead of one. Related to that move will be all sorts of logistics and packing and all sorts of fun things. It will be a very busy time.
At the same time, I will start at the new job. My first day will be Monday March 22nd. The first two months I will be alternating between Florida and Pennsylvania week by week to ease my transition and also to be able to work with some of Accent's clients in the Northeast. But I aim to be fully moved to Florida by the end of June at the latest.
Sometime before I vacate the house in Yardley, I *will* be having a house warming / house cooling party. People have been saying I should have a house warming party since I moved in back in August, but I kept procrastinating. I figure I should actually have one before I move out and leave the state. That will be some weekend between now and the end of April. If anybody reading this wants to come, but has a strong preference on dates based on when they could or could not make it, please let me know. Sometime in the next week or so, we'll finalize the date and invite folks.
In any case, that is the big news. Sam has a job again. Sam is starting in a couple weeks. Sam is moving to Florida. Sam's girlfriend Brandy and her daughter Amy will be joining Sam in Florida.
While of course a bit nervous about all the changes, I am also very excited about all of them. This will open a new chapter for me, one that while it has its risks (doesn't everything?) also has great possibilities. This will be good.
Thanks for all of your support.
Wish me luck!