May 2007 Archives

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a demonstration at the office of one of our business partners. It was a really exciting demonstration of a new SAN (Storage Area Network) device that we're interested in implementing across our data centers. I could bore you with the geeky details but that's not why I'm here today.

As I was driving to the demo, I listened to a story on NPR by writer Mark Peter Hughes. Mr. Hughes provided a commentary to All Things Considered that detailed how he struggled with the idea of leaving his "regular job" to pursue his "dream job." He shared his fears, his dreams, his visions, and his last day "at work." He made it sound like working from home, while doing his own thing was a dream - with nary a downside. He seemed to glamorize leaving the "corporate world."

I had to chuckle. The piece was titled, "Take this job and shove it."

It's not that he disliked his employer, or that he was genuinely unhappy with his worklife - he just wanted to focus on writing teen novels, and decided to leave his job to do so.


For those not familar with my past, I did something similar in 2001. I quit "corporate life" to pursue a dream job. I had started a website with my spare time, and a few people took notice. Soon, I had offers from all corners of the world. I was offered free trips, free products, and plenty of opportunities.

I had always liked cars, and I had always liked writing, so I took a job as a "partner" at an automotive website - one of the largest at the time - as the editor in chief. My first task was to publish a magazine that would be based on the content of my website (which my new employer had purchased from me). This was my big break - I got to work my "dream job," and I got to work from home. It seemed so glamorous.

The truth of the matter is, I hated it. I hated almost every minute of it. Sure, it was cool to hang out with Jay Leno, Chip Foose, Alton Brown, G Gordon Liddy, and the like. It was cool to be something of a "celebrity" - appearing on telelvision shows, being quoted in mainstream magazines like Men's Health, and being treated like a "god" within certain automotive circles. But I didn't like it.

What?! How's that possible, you ask?

No matter how you slice it, work is work. Working your "dream" quickly diminishes the dream and converts it back to good 'ole fashioned work. And the dream fades even faster when your livelihood depends entirely on your ability to be successful. If you stink at your dream job, you're not gonna' eat well for very long. No one cares that it's your "dream," except for maybe you and a few loved ones.

I found myself working 12-, 13-, 15-, and even 16-hour days. I became married to my office and my computer. Every minute away from my desk was an opportunity "wasted" in my eyes. I gained a lot of weight. I stoped being active. I lost social skills. I grew increasingly jaded and withdrawn - I lived in my 14' x 16' office. I worked day and night. There were times when I'd work until 3am, only to start back at it again by 7am the next day.

I justified it by telling myself that this was my chance to live my dream - to write about cars, celebrities, technology, and so on. Don't get me all wrong - there were good times, and lots of them. It's hard to complain when you're driving a $300,000 Bentley, or dining with BMW executives. But in reality, I wasn't living anything - I was working myself to death and not really accomplishing much of anything.

I grew to hate my employer/business partner. He was, for the most part, the only person I consistenly interacted with, and we repeatedly stepped on each others' last good nerve. His voice was like nails on a chalkboard. His e-mails went straight to the trash. I loathed seeing him online and wanted to just get away from it all.

And so I went about finding a normal job again, and I eventually landed with my current employer. And I couldn't be any happier. I love having a "regular job." I love taking a shower each morning, getting dressed, and commuting to work. I love having meetings, attending seminars, performing research and generating reports. I love the PowerPoint presentations and the business trips. I love going to lunch with coworkers and spending a few hours after work enjoying a beverage with them. I love my office, with its view of the horses, and its glorious fluorescent lights.

It's so great to have a "purpose," and to work with people that I respect and genuinely want to be around. I learn from them, and I enjoy exchanging stories, experiences, and ideas with them. It's great to be able to surround myself with people that are smart and confident without being arrogant and condescending.

And it's even more great to have free time.

Free time? Yeah - that's the best part. When I leave my office at 5, 6, or 7pm, I go home. And my work stays at work. Sure, I may spend a few hours every so often working on something from home, but it's not all that often, and it sure beats the 15 hour days that had become the norm from 2001 - 2005.

Weekends are all mine, save for when there's a huge conversion project at work. But I even like those. Holidays are spent enjoying myself. I'm not slumped in front of my laptop on Christmas Day trying to finish a story idea or checking a message board for spam.

So, Mr. Hughes, I have to let you know that life isn't always better on your own. I love my job. I love it, I love it, I love it. So much so, that it may in fact be my real dream job.

Jet Set

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As mentioned below, we took the jet to Kansas City today. It's still unbelievable to me to fly on that thing... AR to KC is normally 3.25 hours by car. By jet? About 30 minutes.

Here we are coming out of the lobby of our airport - the jet is waiting... we walked out, got on, and were in the air 3 minutes later.

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Picture is from my friend's cell phone, so it's nothing fantastic, but you get the idea.

OKC & The Omnivore's Dilemma

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Spent Saturday and Sunday in my favorite state, reminding myself of why I hate it... that's right - I got me a little seat time in good 'ole Oklahoma again.

Some friends from work and I went to a concert in Oklahoma City. We drove out at around noon on Saturday, and arrived at around 4pm. We stayed at a Super 8 motel, which was quite interesting and not something I'd care to ever do again... I was truly afraid that my car would be missing its wheels, radio, and many interior parts by morning at the Super 8.

The good news is that nothing happened to the car, and the concert was a good time. That's not to say our trip was without adventure. Our cab driver from the hotel to the concert venue (The Ford Center in OKC) had 1 rotten tooth and we think she was high as a kite on something... that, or she was truly insane... We also got to see "Bricktown," which is a new river-walk attraction in OKC. We ate at a Denny's, a Sonic, and a McDonald's (yeah, my diet was blown this weekend). We got to see some liquor stores in the ghetto, and we bought gas from a 7-11 that could've doubled as a prison it had so many bars on it.

The group we saw? Tool. I saw them back in the late 90's while in WI and hadn't seen them since. We were able to get some really awesome seats online, courtesy of StubHub. Even though the concert was completely sold out (at $65/ticket), we got 12th row seats, on the aisle, near the center of the stage for $110 each (with taxes, shipping, and handling fees). They put on an excellent show, and I'm amazed with how accurately the engineers can reproduce sound in a large venue - it was crystal clear and perfectly mixed. I did wear ear plugs for the entire event, but it still sounded great. Tool's drummer is nothing short of amazing.

(picture isn't mine, but it is how the stage was set-up):

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So, that's about it. I'm off to KC tomorrow for a day-trip. I've been running quite regularly on the treadmill - I found a program online that's called, "Couch to 5k" and it trains you to run a 5k in less than 10 weeks. I'm on week 3 and am doing pretty well - up to about 2 miles right now (mixed walking/running). I figure once I nail-down a 5k, I can try their 10k program. That'll be my limit...

Oh - almost forgot... if anyone is interested, I'm reading a book right now called The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It's absolutely amazing. By far the best book I've ever read so far. Read it - it'll really open your eyes to our food supply and how we've condemned our selves due to our need for a commercialized, industrial food supply. I promise you'll be amazed by it.

... that's about it for now ... more to come.

The end of an era...

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I sold the majority of my CDs today.

Actually, that's a partial truth. I sold a bunch of them at our garage sale a few weeks ago, for $1 each. I think I sold 40-50 of them, and gave away 5-10 (to sweeten deals for buyers of bigger items). That left me with about 200 CDs that I hadn't touched since around 2002. So, we took them down to a local buy/sell/trade CD store and asked if they'd be interested in "an entire collection" of CDs.

They went through every single CD. Some were worth $0.25. Others were worth $8. All in all, I left with around $300 for my CDs. I came home with about 20 - they either were scratched or were missing a part of the set or something like that...

It's funny. I look through my iTunes collection, and most of the songs are songs that I had on CD somewhere or another, but it was easier to buy them for $1 from Apple than it was to go grab the CD, extract the song, and then put the CD back... Anyway, it feels great to have those things gone - they just sat around taking up space and collecting dust.

Amy got back from Dallas on Saturday night. She got some good pictures, so hopefully she'll post those in the next few days.

We also cleaned our deck today (washed it by hand with brushes and wood cleaner/water); I think we'll stain/seal it next weekend.

Friends

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My mother-in-law, "Mommy," sent a picture to us that she took while visiting a few weeks ago.

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Aside from my wonderful "hat head" - if I remember correctly, this picture was taken on Tuesday, after I hadn't taken a shower that morning, wore a hat all day, and had just come in from changing the oil on the Tahoe (notice the oil stain on my lower leg).

I was trying to enjoy a piece of carrot cake, but I had several interested parties carefully observing my every move.

I also have an awesome double chin -- reason #0817293874192873409812 to keep losing weight (I'm stuck right now -- down about 35 from where I started, with another 35 to go, but I've been plateaued for a few weeks... guess I need to exercise more... ugh!)