Had To Be Aggies…

From the TTI-TDS Department of Texas A&M University:

“Thank you for your interest in the Senior Web Applications Developer position within the TTI – TDS Department. The response to the posting included many qualified individuals with documented relevant education and experience.  After an extensive review, it was determined that another candidate would more closely satisfy our immediate need.”

Sheesh, and I thought I was wordy.



“I would like to withdraw from being considered for a developer position and instead want to be considered for a support position.  Thank you.”

I sighed as I clicked the “Send” button.  The email was going to an HR person at a local company that I had interviewed with earlier that day. We had been talking about a programming job, and I made the mistake of griping about having worked in under less-than ideal conditions at my last few jobs.  After hearing that diatribe, she asked me if I would instead be interested in a support job.  I said “no” out of reflex, but I think it was more likely because I wanted the higher salary that the programming job would command.

I was deluding myself, though.  I’m done with programming as a career.  From a mental standpoint, it probably was over months ago, but I just didn’t want to admit it.  Instead I chose to hang in there in the hope that things would somehow get better, but they didn’t, and so here I am.

I have always wanted to work with computers, and programming seemed to be a logical career choice. As time went on I gradually grew disenfranchised with it, though.  It did not help that I have never worked in a place where things were done “right.”  Instead, proper procedure and best practices were sacrificed to what I like to call The Altar of the Almighty Deadline.

I was chatting online with a friend about the whole situation shortly after the interview and during the conversation I had an interesting epiphany.  I started to wonder if my disinterest in programming as a job was related to my newfound interest in creative endeavors.  After all, I only really dove into creative things like writing, blogging and podcasting just over a year and a half ago.

I’m too lazy to look back through old blog entries and see if the two match up, but it raises an interesting question: am I starting to become more right-brained?  If so, does it have something to do with my desire to get away from programming?  The fact that I have also thrown my hat into the ring for technical writer jobs is also a telling sign.

Maybe I’m tired of being isolated all day at work and want to do something that involves contact with people, even if it is just over the phone or e-mail.  I worked with some great folks at my last tech support job, and heck, if the company had not hit a rough patch and started laying off, I might still be there today.  Or maybe its something more basic than that.  Maybe I just want to be as happy at work as I am outside of it.

Whatever the reason, I’m look forward to embracing a different side of the IT field, and some opportunities are starting to open up, so we shall see!



Another year has come and gone, and as I sit here bored at work, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on the end of what I like to call “the 2Ks.”

2009 was both a good and a bad year for me, personally. On the good side, I got off my rear and put the left side of my brain to work writing a few short stories and poems. I also started to pursue voice acting: taking lessons, getting into a studio for the first time, and doing some podcasting.

Interestingly enough, the shove that got my creative ball rolling again was Mizuumi-con, held on March 21st. There, I attended two panels; the first was a voice acting panel held by Kevin M. Connolly, which gave me an idea of what to expect going into the voice acting business. The second was Chris Holm’s “Inspiring Artists” panel. He and I had won the “My Cage” art and writing contests a while back, and it was my first time meeting him. At his panel, he told his story about (quite literally) where his art took him.

I started by going back through old ideas I had written down, thinking over which ones would be worth the effort to bring them to reality. I got started on a few things, and then a number of weeks later, Chris Holm emailed me. He wanted me to sit in on a meeting of an artists’ group that was starting up. I thought that it would be fun, and so I found myself at a coffee shop that Saturday afternoon. That group would eventually jell into First Storm Manga. My involvement with them has introduced me to some new friends, provided me with a creative outlet and led to some fun times spent at anime conventions.

Career-wise, the best I can say is that I had the same job at the end of the year as I did at the start of it. I was introduced to Military Flavored Baloney, as opposed to the Corporate Flavored Baloney I am used to having. At the end of the day, its still baloney, but the money’s good and the work isn’t too hard, so I’ll ride it out.

Moving on to the less-pleasant events of 2009, I lost two people that were important to me, namely Melinda Garcia, wife of my good friend Carlos Garcia, and my grandmother, Manuela Soliz. They are already sorely missed, and their passing has made me think about the direction I want to take my life in, but that is a topic for another time.

I had also hoped to have a house by the end of this year, but that got put aside due to the uncertainties of my job. Now that I feel more confident about my employment situation, I will start looking for a home in earnest, and my hope to have purchased one by summer.

In my opinion, 2009 was “The Year of the Attention Whore.” Maybe its just because we see them in the news more frequently, but I don’t recall the last time we had this many nutballs jumping up and down screaming “LOOK AT ME!” Just off the top of my head, we have Dick Cheney, Octomom, Joe Wilson, the Balloon Boy parents, Jon and Kate, the White House Gate Crashers, Lady Gaga, some prison escapee in England that has been taunting the cops via Facebook, and the various women that slept with Tiger Woods. Now, I’m not claiming any level of moral high ground, because I was admittedly watching and talking about them just like everyone else, so I guess I’m part of the problem.

It was bittersweet to have to say farewell to some folks in 2009, but new friends were also made. Thus, as a new year begins, I find myself a little more appreciative of my station in life and hopeful for the many possibilities that lay ahead in The New Year.

Here’s to you, 2009, don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!


Frak, Doctor…Just Call Me A Muggle

I don’t know if there is such a thing as “geek cred” but if there is, I’ve certainly lost quite a bit of it. I have just not kept up with all the cool sci-fi and fantasy stuff that’s been out these last few years.  As a youngster, I had a voracious appetite for science fiction and fantasy both written and on TV.  I would stay up to watch reruns of the original Star Trek on Sunday nights, had to watch Doctor Who just before bedtime, and read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings in high school for fun.

These days, TV just doesn’t interest me any more, I don’t have cable, and I find other things to do with my free time, like play games, watch DVDs, and write, of course.

Thus, I did not watch the Battlestar Galactica or the Doctor Who reboots, nor have I read any of the Harry Potter books or even seen any of the movies all the way through.   I feel a little vindicated now that Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who are cool now, or at least as cool as sci-fi can get.

As I write this, I keep thinking of more things I missed out on…Heroes, Smallville, and the only thing I know about Twilight is that it has something to do with vampires…didn’t we go through this awhile back with the whole “Interview with the Vampire” business?  I guess everything boomerangs sooner or later.

The sci-fi geek I used to be slowly has morphed into a gamer geek over the years, and that’s fine…but if they ever reboot Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, I am SO there!


Here In My Car…I Feel Nothing At All

I am not a "car guy," and for the life of me, I just don’t get the "car thing." I could not tell you the difference between year X and year Y of a particular vehicle, and I cannot recognize vehicles on sight.  If you are ever in an accident, you better hope I’m not one of the witnesses, because the conversation with the police would go something like this:

OFFICER: "Can you describe the vechicle, sir?"
RANDOMIZER9: "Yeah, it was, uh…silver! I think it had four wheels, too!"

I have friends that are "car guys" and I can hang with them for awhile, but once they get beyond a certain point, I quit hearing their words and the only thing I hear is the "Wah wah waah" of Charlie Brown’s teacher as they blather on about fuel-air mixes and trans-a-missions and all that.

I currently own a 2005 Dodge Neon. It is a conveyance, a box on wheels that gets me from Point A to Point B, and when I’m on vacation, to Point C. I keep it maintained, and I might even treat it to a wash every so often, but that’s it. "Car guys" on the other hand, have an attachment to their vehicles that borders on creepy. On Randomizer9’s Freak-O-Meter, they sit a few notches above pet owners who dress up their pets or name them "Baby," but I digress.

I’m not entirely in the clear on this one, though, because I did give my car a name: the "Reliant." I also did go "oooh!" when that yellow Lamborghini passed me up on I-10 awhile back, and I like Corvettes. I also considered an intake kit for the Reliant recently, and if AutoZone would have had one in stock, there might be a K&N air filter in the Reliant right now instead of a Fram. All things considered, I could be on the brink of becoming a car geek.

I think that my lack of car-guy-ness is due to the fact that I’ve never owned a vehicle that I ever really wanted. I have always gone with the practical choice out of economic necessity. The vehicle of my dreams is about a year’s worth of payments away, though, and that fact that I have already decided on a name for it ("Excelsior") might be a precursor of things to come.

Once people start tuning me out, I think the line will have been crossed!


Land of McConfusion

Why do people place complicated orders at McDonald’s?  Frankly, I think its just asking for trouble if you go to Mickey D’s and ask for more than two things to be done to your sandwich.  No onions?  Fine.  No onions and extra pickles?  Okay.  No onions, extra pickles, and hold the mustard?  You’re playing with fire there, bub!

Case in point:  I was at a McDonald’s a few weeks ago standing in line behind a woman who was making a pretty intricate order.  I could tell the guy behind the register was having trouble keeping up.  Sure enough, after getting it all down, he would repeat the order to verify, but there was always something wrong with it, which resulted in them starting over.  To make matters worse, the woman was trying to tell the poor cashier how to fix it which only made him more confused.

Incidentally, telling ANYONE in any restaurant how to do their job is just asking to get the “special sauce.”

A second cashier noticed the delay and took my order.  I paid for it, got my food, filled my soda, grabbed some ketchup and napkins, sat down…and the woman was STILL at the register placing her order.

Sometimes you just have to let it go.  I’m not saying, I’m just saying!