This week has been a week of ups and downs, or so it seems.
The weather Monday and Tuesday was amazing. To go from 50 degree weather to 70-80 degree weather was fantastic. We were able to get so much done outside, and the kids were thrilled to be able to play outside without jackets. (Which of course made me happy because I wasn’t ordering them away from the TV.) But, the 50 degree weather is back. They promise 70 next week, but we won’t hold our breath.
Work has also been up and down like the weather. Monday and Tuesday were dead. Nothing going on – and way too quiet for our liking. The upside was the fact I got out of there early both days. The downside was the fact I got slammed with work on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday, I had to block of my calendar so I could eat lunch.
We have a huge project underway. A project to replace our major business system – the one that drives all aspects of our company. This requires a huge rework of our processes as well as rework to all of our other touch points with vendors, partners and other systems. HUGE undertaking. The consultants or thieves (thanks, Hubman, I like that name for them better) are behind schedule by at least one week. They were to learn about 11 integrations we have, document them, write up the technical specification for how to make them work in the new system, and present them to us for approval. They have 8 people working on them for the past 4 weeks now. We are not done. And, you figure with 8 people working on them, the work would be pretty decent. Not the case. I have kicked at least 11 of their 22 documents back to them for rework. And the mistake – stupid mistake, mistakes they could have totally avoided, but mistakes that would screw up development.
In the meantime, they represented to my boss that her staff was not being “helpful”. After she and I had an interesting interaction about it, I got the full story with the thieves’ onsite manager. We finally had a big meeting about this issue – and it was all brought to light. They were not communicating with us – but instead presented her with a stack of change orders to do the work outlined. She pushed back on them because change orders mean more money we have to spend on this project – and they tried to throw her staff under the bus. I am happy to say, all of this came out in this meeting. The downside for the thieves is that they pissed off the staff they are dependent upon, so I wish them luck.
I decided this week at work that this place isn’t as lively without our Irish business architect in the office. Kate hurt her back many years ago, and it healed only giving her occasional grief. Each time, she was able to deal with it using treatments, etc. A few weeks ago, she had another flare-up – the worst one to date. She can’t sit, stand, or lie down. Many doctor’s visits, MRIs, and x-rays later, they think they need to do surgery. The poor lady is now working from home part-time while she manages the pain with drugs. Kate is a fucking riot to have around. She grew up in Ireland and moved to the US as an adult. Her stories about going to the all-girl catholic schools and traveling around Ireland with her friends are some of the best. And the way she talks about and drinks a Guinness is pure entertainment. The way Kate deals with difficult people is also great. She is an engineer by training, but transitioned to this role over the past few years. The way Kate handles those engineers is fantastic. I usually sit back in the corner and laugh during those meetings. Maybe that’s why I’m missing her – we need her wit and humor in some of these Engineering meetings we’ve had lately. Having her drugged up on the phone just isn’t the same. Hopefully she gets some good news soon, so we can have her back.
Related to technology but more about home, a week or so ago, I signed us up for a local WiMAX service called Clear. I had been hearing about it, but didn’t quite understand the offering until I had someone show up on the doorstep. I’m a geek, he was an “expert”, so my plan was to take advantage of him and his knowledge. WiMAX, to quote the literature, is a combination of 4G technology on cell phones but runs at broadband speeds. Think broadband speeds over a wireless connection. Unlike broadband where the capacity is shared by you and all of your neighbors which means your speed varies depending on the number of people online at the time, this is not a shared bandwidth situation. You buy the bandwidth you want which is pretty much on par with the way the DSL works. And the prices – a hell of a lot better than Comcast or Qwest. Oh, and since their router connects to their network via wireless, I was able to validate all of their claims using my own computer and running my own tests before I had to commit to anything. Literally, he plugged in his router to power, and I plugged the ethernet into my Mac.
I was sold. It will save us about $10-15 per month (only because I signed up for more bandwidth given the number of Internet devices on our network). It would have been about $20 if I had gone with a lower bandwidth option. We’ve been using it now for a week – and I’m still not disappointed. And, we are one step closer to being rid of Comcast. To be fair, Comcast has had great service. But, they keep raising the prices dramatically, in some cases. Our cable alone has gone up almost $50 over the past few years, and I keep downgrading the channels. I am starting to get annoyed because I don’t mind paying more, if I felt like I was getting more for it. Sadly, this is not the case, in my opinion.
From what I understand, Clear is a brand under Clearwire which is the WiMAX provider in more markets around the US. I figured I would throw that into the post in case you are intrigued and wondering if it is available near you. I’m hoping my happiness with it lasts.
Our weekend is going to be a bit unusual. DJ is going to a Brownie play-day where they earn patches. Because she bridges to Junior Girl Scouts in a few weeks, her troop gets to stay overnight and do Junior activities. She is excited because she will be meeting girls from other troops, and the theme will be the environment which means science which means DJ will be in heaven.
Indigo has been upset because she wanted to be in Girl Scouts this year. But, no one volunteered to lead the troop. Garbanzo and I did some checking recently and found that next year will have the same problem. Since there are kids interested, we are going to likely lead her Brownie troop next year. I’m actually excited because I loved Girl Scouts as a kid – and here’s the funny part: this exact same thing happened when I was a Brownie. And it resulted in my mom and dad taking over the troop. My dad was the first male to lead a troop in that part of Iowa. They did it for three years before turning it over to another set of parents. After that, Girl Scouts was never as fun.
So, we are going to be DJ-less for 36 hours. Indigo may love that or hate it. I’m already anticipating the “but I can’t sleep alone with DJ” argument as to why she should sleep on the couch. But it also means Sunday should be fun too because DJ will be exhausted. It may be a quiet weekend! Here’s hoping!