Category: Lessons Learned Directly From Life


This site has been stripped (of a lot of personality, unfortunately)…  It’s almost down to pure blog entries (the lists don’t seem to hurt too badly, so I left some of them).
 
  • No Pictures Module
  • No Friends Module
  • No Favorite Books
  • No Favorite Music
  • No Media Player

So far this seems to help a lot.  Tell me what you think.  Everything is still there, under its own tab, except for the Media Player.

I’m considering a move to "Blogger".  Any thoughts?
 
Here’s my "toe-in-the-water", so to speak.  So far, I’m impressed — it’s much faster and much more open-frameworked. 
Note: It’s not finished.  It’s not even started.  I just wanted to see how things like comment-tracking and content control work.
I have video I want to upload and share with everyone.  Unfortunately, for quite some time now (over a week, at least), FileLodge has had some issues.  First it was maintenance that disabled all uploads, and now storage constraints are limiting upload file size to 2MB due to some delays receiving hardware.  As of this moment, the site is entirely non-existent.  Earlier it was just the uploads page that yielded a "missing page" error.
 
So, while I sympathize with FileLodge for their woes, — I’m certain many other bloggers have blasted them, and I’m sure the tension level there is quite high with their primary product severely impaired — I am also experiencing my own frustration at managing to get only one video up before basically losing the service.  But, it’s free… how much can I complain?
 
As soon as I can, I’ll upload my latest demo reel, my vacation video (despite my larger-than-life gut!), and whatever else I can think of for your enjoyment (a bouncing red and white ball we just did in class?).
 
Until then, please enjoy the existing content.  UGH!
…this is just ridiculous!!!

Umbrellas???
Boys, now come on!!
I read somewhere to use the French term "Au Revoir" instead of good-bye because it lacks permanence.  Something akin to "until we meet again".  This is what I mean when I depart from Disney.  Everyone comes back to some degree.
 
Today was my last scheduled day at work with Disney Cruise Line (I can be called hour-by-hour as needed, so I’m not totally cut off).  I basically spent the day in a fog, running from good-bye to good-bye in different areas.  Question of the day was "How do you feel?"  The answer to this was, "I’m not sure it’s all fully settled in yet."  Surreal is a good word to describe it.  It was the feeling I had, after living at home for 18 years, when I was leaving to live at college.  It was a good feeling, although heavily touched with nostalgia and a bit of melancholy. 
 
But this time, there would be no, "Oh, c’mon Mom, don’t mess with my room, I’m only going to college!"  Nope.  There’s a battle waging between two "siblings" for my space, a premium cube with a window.  One claims seniority, having joined our team shipboard in January of 2000 and having been shoreside for, I believe, 2 years now.  The other claims rank, holding a title a level higher than the first and bumping against the next level up.  I have an opinion, but it can only cause grief, so I’m not sharing it with anyone.  It’s not my cube to give, and it’s not my place to manage the contenders.
 
There were butterflies in my stomach today.  Not a good thing on a day that’s all about food and celebration.  And as verbose as I tend to be here and in conversation, I could barely come up with an appropriate speech.  I think everyone understood.  I was a bit flustered by the whole thing.
 
My work group is fantastic!  Kelly (not to be confused with Keli, who is also quite incredible) arranged invitations for upwards of 45 people to an after-work event, and management provided for a pizza lunch where the team gave me a gift package for the road.  There are lots of wonderful things in it, but I’ll just mention the towel here (every "Hitchhiker" needs one, and it wouldn’t cause gift-envy to the next guy to know I got it).
 
My user groups also gave me some very nice gifts.  I’m so paranoid about missing one, that I’m not going to mention any specifically, but I do love crystal/glass items (see my "101" article - item 11), and I won’t be paying for Starbucks for a very long time.
 
The pictures in the photo album are of events outside of work.  The daylight ones are from last weekend, when the CRS team (I was a member of this team from 1996-2000, but we’ve stayed in touch) took me out "Around the World" at Epcot.  The indoor pictures were from tonight.  We went to the Orlando Ale House and occupied an entire section.  I was very happy to see everyone on my last day.  Michelle and the boys came and everyone got to see them, too, which doesn’t happen often. 
 
I saw how many people I’ve touched and influenced.  It became even more obvious just how much I’m giving up.  But, everyone, from every department, was so thrilled at the adventure I’m undertaking.  They made it clear how important it is that I pursue the animation career.  I think this opportunity comes with the responsibility not to let down those who are coming along with me in spirit.
 
So, I’ll go off and clear out Dad’s house and get it ready to hand over to the buyers.   Then, I’ll walk into class, and that will be my entire focus for the next year.  Hopefully, when I come out, I’ll be able to call on the next surprise from today’s conversations.  One of my friends from this job who left a few years ago is now employed by Pixar.  I think we may have some reminiscing to do.
This Entry Was Requested By Diana, A Friend Of Michelle And Me Since The Pre-Kids Days
16-Year Old Computer Saves The Day
 

Years ago (1996, to be exact), our house was robbed, including the computer, and that was bad.
 
What made it worse, though, was that I was always on call.  I was sole support for an application which had yet to be fully stabilized.  But, I didn’t want to rush into a new computer.  It generally took some research to pick that $3000 item (it’s still sitting next to me now, churning along at 200 MHz).
 
So, what was I to do when the pager started to go off?  Well, I had lost virtually everything with a microchip in it, but the two TV’s were left behind.  One of them was a 19" model from the early to mid 80′s, and the other was a 27" which proved too heavy for the thieves and had been left face-down on the carpet in front of its stand.  In 1996, I didn’t have anything but dialup anyway, and work was accomplished through VT100 software (pure text) into a SCO Unix box over a 14,400 baud modem.  Sounds ancient, but text-only at 14,400 is indistinguishable from being there.  In college, even hard-wired terminals were running at 9600 baud.
 
Hmmm… somewhere, buried in a box, I had my old Atari 400 (circa 1980 — now 16 years old!).  It had a floppy drive and a 300 baud modem (we’re not talking "acoustic coupler", here… we’re talking DIRECT CONNECT!).  One of those disks had modem software on it.  But magnetic media is only good for 10 years.  It couldn’t possibly still load, could it?
 
I dug up the equipment and booted up.  It read the Atari DOS disk (bip bip bip bip bip  b-d-d-d-d-d bip) and the screen came up.  I popped in the terminal software disk and the drive hummed quietly — too quietly as the disk was not spinning.  A little pressure on the front of the disk sleeve, and I could hear movement.  It loaded!  Program the number, press enter, and PRESTO!  A login prompt!  Granted, even on the flat pseudo-keyboard, I could out-type the modem, which was quite funny to see.
 
I was able to use "vi" and fix a file or two and evenutally resolve my issue using a glorified video game and a 300bd modem (at 40-columns per row of text no less)!  I kept the stuff in the storage box (no original packaging here) and left it near the TV for the remainder of the time between PC’s.  I used it plenty.  What a God-send that old computer turned out to be!
 
The simplicity of this setup led me to buy an actual VT420 terminal from a surplus warehouse and a 14,400 external modem.  We put it on a little phone stand and I used it for several years instead of waiting for the PC to boot each time.  Eventually, I switched roles at work and needed a graphical interface, so the terminal went away, but I really got a lot of use out of it until that time.  Sometimes, the lowest tech solution is the best.

This may be overly specific, but very appropriate should you find yourself in this exact situation.
 
If you:
  • Have a front loading washer
  • Have a wet bed to clean up
  • Use Dreft, a non"HE" detergent (necessary for potty cleanups).
  • Discover the offending jammies while cleaning the sheets.
  • See the foaming effect caused by non "HE" detergents in an "HE" washer.

DO NOT:

  • Pause the washer.
  • Open the door to insert said jammies into the Dreft load, thinking you can ensure M4 will have his "funny pajamas" in time for bed tonight.

OR ELSE BE PREPARED:

  • For a relentless bubbly onslaught from the washer.  They’ve just been waiting to expand in there!
  • To keep cleaning bubbles long after the door has closed, as they have now permeated the area outside the seal and are expanding, popping, and otherwise continuing to exit the washer and dribble down the front.
  • To be reminded of the Brady Bunch episode where Bobby (I think) does laundry and foams up the entire laundry room!
  • To come up with a good story to tell your wife because you’d never be stupid enough to open that door in the presence of all that foam.  ("Honey, I was thinking about hosting a foam party.  This was a test run, and I ‘ve since decided it’s just not my style.")
"This is the day
       your life will surely change.
This is the day
       when things fall into place."
                                           The The – This is the Day
 
Today, the secret is out.
 
 
The acceptance notice has arrived in the mail.
 
 
I’ve told my bosses.
 
 
The financing is finalized.
 
 
I have been to Disney World for the past 8 years and have absolutely LOVED it …
 
So, where do I go from there?
 
I have made the decision to step away from my 18 years’ experience in applications development for a year of intense training and pursue a new career in Digital Animation and Visual Effects!
 
This is a huge change for me.  As I told my manager, I’m either living my dream or ruining my life.  But I’ve enough confidence in the prior to make an all out go of it.  No safety nets, no turning back.  It was my father’s passing that left me in a position to make this move.  This in mind, it is very important to me that I use this time to its fullest.  I know he would approve of me using his inheritance to fulfill a dream, but not just to squander it on a year away from work.  I also have to thank my wife for her support in this decision.  Without her, my practical side would have squelched the whole thing long ago as folly, depriving me of the chance to really know for sure.
 
Only time will tell how successfully I can switch careers, but it will be an incredible journey.  And I plan to document it here… to the extent, that is, that doing so is permissible.  As with any film production, I’m certain there will be a code of silence concerning the final project. 
 
I’ve done some crazy things in my life… this may top them all!  In a couple of years, though, it may just be worth your while to look for me in the SFX "special features" sections of the DVD’s you buy.
 
btw… "Act 2" refers to a post by EZ, in reference to his career 180′s througout his lifetime.
More things flying by my window…. can you spot the helicopter?
(vertically centered just right of the American flag)

Something I’ve noticed in my recent posts is a lack of depth.  I’ve shared elements of my life, good and bad, but there has been so much going on lately that I feel like I’m reporting events more than sharing philosophies or thoughts.  I’ll refer back to two posts that occured over my blogging history…
An Ode To Starbucks – in this entry, I talked about the impact a 5-minute interaction can have on one’s enitre day.
 
De Colores - whether it had any merit or not, I geeked out on a puzzle that’s perplexed me for years and years without explanation.  And while pondering it in text, the answer may have come to me.  I have yet to confirm that.
These two posts are examples of where I planned to take this site.  But, if it went according to plan, I guess I wouldn’t be "EricAtRandom", I’d be "EricOnSchedule", wouldn’t I?  Granted, sharing life events should still go on, but these kinds of posts should be intermixed, too.
 
Well, I am about to take what may appear to be a VERY random turn.  Catholic Mom is aware.  I alluded to it in a comment on EZ‘s blog.  But the fact of the matter is that there are people in the physical world who need to hear it first hand before I can go any further online.  The result of this seemingly random turn, hopefully, is that the blog will become less random, as I’ll have something upon which to focus.
 
Let me clear the air (or avoid it fogging up in the first place):
  • We’re not having another child.
  • I’m not gay and will not be "coming out".
  • You will most likely agree that it’s good news (unless you’re gay and were waiting for me to come out).
  • It doesn’t involve sipping coffee in a cafe and having an idea that could save humanity with no one being nailed to anything.  If that were the case, certainly the Vogons would have struck by now.

 So… at this point, it’s still Any Day Now...