Monday, March 27, 2006

Reflections on the Last Year

I just realized it’s been a year since I got my last paycheck from the company I had to leave due to their inflexible telecommuting policies.  They forced me to make a choice between putting my kids in daycare or leaving the company, so it was time to bid them adieu. 

(BTW, I’m not criticizing those of you with kids in full-time daycare.  It’s a choice each family has to make based on their own priorities and how they want to raise their kids.  This was the road my wife and I chose when we first started talking about having ankle biters in the house.)

It was the company’s loss, and frankly, I was ready to leave after nearly a year of busting my ass scrambling for three and four weeks’ coverage at a time doing proposals and white papers.  Ick. Talk about stressful, crushing work — it was all stifling, endless process without any rewarding or creative accomplishments.   (OK, one of my solely-authored papers was used as an implementation plan for rolling out an extensive, complex electronic documentation system to about 7,000 users.  That was cool.)

Plus, I’d been far too long in boring system analysis and customer relations management, and far too long away from the technical, interesting work I much prefer.  (My former boss, a good friend, and my wife, a very accomplished program manager, both say I’ve got great talent in the program management domain, but I want to do more fun stuff before moving back to the Dark Side.)

Without getting too Dr. Phil or Oprah on my few readers, everything in life is an opportunity, and that’s how I approached this last year.  The following list of accomplishments and things I didn’t get done isn’t so much for readers here as a reminder of positive things to myself when I’m in my occasional whiny funks.

Stuff I Really Meant To Get Done but didn’t quite finish…

  • Certification as an MCSD.  Got one test done, got wrapped up with life on the others.  (Side note: I don’t view certifications as some Holy Grail.  I’ve used them in the past when changing into new careers — it shows I’ve got base knowledge of a domain even if I’m lacking practical experience in the field.)
  • Any number of projects around the house.  I got several rooms painted, some major repairs acomplished, and a fair amount done around the yard, but there are always items on the To Do list which just seem to hang there and hang there and hang there…

Stuff I’m pretty happy to have accomplished

  • Started my company
  • Took and passed one MCP test for Windows Forms in C# (let’s not talk about the other five tests…)
  • Started the Dayton .NET Developers Group
  • Started writing articles for James’s Visual Studio Hacks website
  • Got on contract with O’Reilly for writing a book
  • Worked with James to put on the Dayton-Cincinnati Code Camp (For some astounding reason, James keeps referring to the Camp as the Cincinnati-Dayton Code Camp instead of by its proper name.  Inconcievable.)
  • Gave several short Grok talks at the Dayton DevGroup
  • Gave two full-lenth presentations at the DevGroup
  • Moved a couple bushes around in the yard
  • Had a fair crop of peas and beans
  • Had a good crop of raspberries
  • Had a great crop of tomatoes
  • Fixed up the rotten back siding on our shed
  • Installed a new water softener
  • Bought a propane torch for soldering pipes for the softener.  (The real purpose of buying the torch was so I would have something to do a serious job for caramelizing sugar on creme bruleé.)
  • Spent a week working with some great folks in St. Martin
  • Watched my son grow from a lauging blob to a laughing, crawling maniac to a laughing, running maniac
  • Watched my daughter continue to grow into a wonderful little girl
  • Started this blog and watched its readership grow to a massive audience. (OK, that’s exaggeration, but it’s nice to know that there are a few folks subscribed to my RSS feed.)

Being a camp follower (my wife’s active duty military), I’ve had to take a pretty long-term view and very flexible approach to my career.  There are a few things I want to knock off for my career as well as other areas.

Stuff I want to knock off Real Soon Now

  • Deliver a killer book to O’Reilly  (Proceeds from the book will help pay for the therapy my kids will need after having gone through their formative years with me as their stay-at-home parent.)
  • Knock off a few more things from the To-Do list on the house.  Fixing the front door jamb is high on the list, as is repairing the #&*@!! street light.
  • Give a presentation at some venue other than our DevGroup
  • Squirrel-proof the #&*@!! shed

Number two on the priority list, after writing material for the book, is to continue building my network of contacts in the region.  I’ll be heading back to full-time employment in a few months, and I want to find a great environment to work in.

I’m also looking forward to seeing how this blog continues to develop.  Looking back through some of the archives has been a funny experience.  Content here is rather schizo, but it’s been a fun journey.

1 comment:

Jim Holmes said...

Sorry, "Worth", but you're pretty obviously a spammer trying to sell crap from your site. Your comment is history.

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