So this is what having free time is like.

I meant to keep writing on a more regular basis, but the first half of December has been absolutely ridiculous.  I moved out of my apartment with Amelie’s help, and Thursday was the final day at Mr. Company, after more than fourteen years.  I’ve been keeping busy since Thursday afternoon, so I don’t have a lot of emotions to process yet.  I suspect it will hit me later.  Like any long relationship that comes to an end, there will be a grieving process.

It’s difficult to really frame fourteen and a half years in your mind.  We’re used to shorter hops in time-  what happened in the last week? What happened in the last year?

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My ID badge. July, 2002

When I started working for this company, I was in my late 20s.  It was the summer of 2002, and my ID badge photo was taken on July 1st.  I worked for Mr. Company at first in technical support.  I moved from a tier one job to tier 2, then tier 3, and within four years I was a supervisor.  I wrote reviews, did hiring interviews, the whole lot.

During that time, I worked with dozens of people who have passed in and out of my life over a span of years- the tech scene in this part of Florida is not so large that you don’t run into each other from time to time.  I made friendships at Mr. Company that will be with me for the rest of my life.

I didn’t really like being a management type, though.  The job wasn’t technical, favoring delegation of tech work instead.  I much prefer to be responsible for only my own work, and I missed getting into the technical work.

In 2007, I moved over to operations and became a UNIX administrator.  Right away, I was given the chance to travel to Dulles, Virginia to do a bunch of work in the data center.  The next year, I went to Hong Kong for two weeks to work with a team of colleagues on a big server installation.   Hong Kong was my first-ever trans-Atlantic hop.  My only international trips before that were the Bahamas and Canada- international traveling for beginners.   Hong Kong was the first time I ever went to a place where I didn’t know the language and it was fascinating and awesome.

In 2011, I was in my fourth year as a UNIX administrator and our partners in Zurich asked us to assign a sysadmin to the local German office.  Volunteers were requested, and I was in a perfect situation to go- I had just sold a condo and all of my stuff was already in storage.  I said sure, and by the middle of November of that year, I was living full time in Regensburg, Germany. I was promoted again when I moved, giving me my fifth title change sine I started working for the company.

Including Germany, I visited 23 more countries during my three years living and working in Bavaria, and I made still more life-long friends.   I compiled an incredible variety of experiences in that time, and it’s all chronicled here in this blog.

At the end of 2014, after three years in Germany, I returned to the US.  I worked in the Boca Raton office again.  During the summer of 2015, I spent five weeks in Japan to work on a migration of their customers to a new platform.  While I was there, Mr. Company announced that we were divesting all of our web hosting business, and I knew my time at the company had an expiration date.

Fourteen years is a long time.  While I was working for this company, I bought a home, lived in it for about seven years, and sold it.  In fourteen years I’ve moved nine times, two of them internationally.  I’ve attended weddings of friends and family.  Also funerals.  And births.  My oldest niece has graduated college and purchased a house.  My youngest niece just turned six.   I’ve purchased two cars, a 2005 Civic and a 2015 Mazda 3.  I met my girlfriend just before I moved to Germany, and we got to know each other while I was across the ocean.  We’ve been together since 2014.

Trying to recap a span of nearly a decade and a half is not an easy task.  It’s just too much.

It’s finally the end-  the company has eliminated the positions and the entire office is closing.  I’m not the last person out of the building. but there’s only a dozen or so people left to clean up the mess we all left behind.  I’m glad that I’m not the one left behind, because that’s going to be the most difficult work of all.

The goodbyes on Thursday were difficult.  I mostly wasn’t emotional, until Daryl started saying nice things about me.  That was enough to make me almost lose it a tiny bit.  (Damn you, Daryl!  Why can’t you just hate me like a normal techie person?)

The picture at the start of the post was me on the first day in 2002.  This one was taken earlier this week, in my last days at the company in 2016.  I look like I’ve seen some stuff.  And I have.

Fourteen years later, December 2016.

I also got the best sleep I’ve had in years on Thursday night, because there was no reason for me to wake up early on Friday.  For the moment, I have nowhere to go.

So how’s your December going so far?

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A Fork in the Road

As we roll into day 30 of National Blog Posting Month and Nanopoblano, I find myself surprised to have completed the entire month.   When Rara asked me in late October to participate, I initially said that my life is too crazy-busy right now to do a blog post every day.  Nevertheless, on the first of November, I posted a thing.  On the second of November, I posted another thing.

One a day, every day, until we reached today.   I didn’t even write ahead and schedule posts to go up in the future until Thanksgiving- I wrote a new post each day, or had three-fourths of a post almost ready to go in the drafts folder, needing some polish.

The truth is that I’m kind of grateful to this little project, because it’s been a wonderful distraction.   I’ve mentioned only a few times in the blog that my employment is ending on the fifteenth of December, but I haven’t really shared just how terrified that makes me.   Writing something new every day has helped me to stay sane and to keep the stress at bay.  I didn’t know that my blog could do that-  I’ve never really used it that way before now.

I didn’t realize until just recently how much of my identity is tied up in what I do.   And I also wrote a while back about how my highly specialized product knowledge will be useless after this job ends.

This is a fear that I have-  I worry that my skills won’t transfer to a new job, or that even after more than fifteen years doing tech work, I won’t be any different than any other resume on some hiring manager’s desk.   I worry that I won’t stand out enough to get hired.  I worry that if I do get hired, I’ll hate the job and be stuck in a soul-crushing perdition from which I cannot escape.

I worry, also, that this might be the last time in my life that I can really choose a career path different from the one I’ve been on.  I’m two days from 44, and I still haven’t got the foggiest idea what I want to be when I grow up.

I don’t really know if I want to keep doing this kind of work.  I don’t really know where I want to live, although Orlando and Portland are both very appealing to me.  (And, frankly, Orlando is the more likely of the two because it’s right there and it has Disney!)

The image attached to this post is my laptop wallpaper right now, because I find myself  at a fork in the road.   For just this moment, I’m not attached to a lease.  I have, thanks to some creative application of time off, roughly six actual days left in the office before I’m unemployed.

And I don’t know what to do next.

Except to keep blogging,  I guess.   Probably not every day, though, because I have a feeling things are about to get a lot busier around here.

fork-in-the-road

What was your favorite post from my last thirty days of bloggery?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

My Favorite Scream

Have you ever heard of the Wilhelm Scream?  It’s been in over 200 movies, and it’s so recognizable that if you didn’t notice it before reading this post, I’m sure you’ll start to notice it everywhere.

It was introduced to modern cinema by all-around amazing sound guy Ben Burtt when he was designing the sound for Star Wars in 1977- he used it for a sequence where Luke shoots a Stormtrooper across a chasm while trying to escape the Death Star.  When the trooper falls, you hear the Wilhelm Scream.

Ben Burtt didn’t create the sound, though-  he just found it in the studio sound archives, on a reel labeled “Man being eaten by alligator.”  The scene described there is from the 1951 movie, Distant DrumsIn that movie, a cowboy in the Everglades was indeed eaten by an alligator, yelling out the scream as he is dragged underwater.

The scream was used again in the 1953 movie, The Charge at Feather River, and it’s heard by several different people as they die.  One of them is a guy named in movie dialogue as Private Wilhelm, and he makes the scream when he is shot in the left leg with an arrow.

When Ben Burtt found the sound on the “Man being eaten by alligator” reel, he also found the Private Wilhelm footage, and it was Ben Burtt who named it the Wilhelm Scream.  He went on to re-use the Wilhelm in all the remaining Star Wars movies as well as the Indiana Jones movies.  It wasn’t long before other sound designers started to use the Wilhelm in other movies, and now it’s all over the television and movie landscape, including Toy Story, Batman Returns, Aladdin, Howard The Duck, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit, Lethal Weapon 4, and many many more.

Everything up until this point is material that I knew as I began to write this post.  There’s one interesting fact that I didn’t know until I started researching to write this up:  It is now widely believed that the voice of the Wilhelm Scream is none other than Sheb Wooley, known to most for his novelty song, “The Purple People Eater.”  Ben Burtt found notes at Warner Brothers which indicated that Wooley was on a short list of people who recorded dialogue for Distant Drums, and he recorded material for several types of screams.

Here’s two short compilations of a bunch of Wilhelm Screams:

What’s the last movie you saw containing a Wilhelm Scream?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

A Speedster, an Archer, and a Kryptonian Walk Into a Bar

I mentioned this a few posts back, but tonight is the start of a four-way crossover on all the CW network’s superhero shows.   It starts towards the end of tonight’s Supergirl, continues tomorrow on Flash, then on to Arrow on Wednesday, concluding with Legends of Tomorrow on Thursday.

This is the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a live-action Justice League.   It’s already better than next year’s Justice League movie with emo-Flash, Aqua-grunge-man, and Batfleck.

Just look at this line-up!   This picture contains Supergirl, Green Arrow, Flash, Firestorm, Atom, Vixen, and a bunch of other people!     Honestly, this is the closest we’ve ever come in live action to the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, which was always kind of amazing and wonderful.

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I’ve been enjoying the hell out of The Flash ever since his first pre-lightning appearance on Arrow in season two.  I love that they leaned into the comic book aspects and showed that not everything has to be darkness and grunge and pain.   In this respect, the DC television universe is infinitely better than the DC movie universe, which was so loathe to do Superman as bright and hopeful that they didn’t even call him Superman until the last few minutes of Man of Steel.

At the beginning of this season of Supergirl, they brought Superman onto the show and he was everything that the movie Superman isn’t.  He was charming and colorful and true to the original comic vision for the character.   He was optimistic and hopeful, which is how Big Blue is supposed to be.  I feel like the people behind the movie iteration have forgotten this, if they ever knew it.

On the television side, however, they definitely know it.  Superman, Supergirl, and Flash are all characters who inspire hope.  That’s part of why Arrow has floundered a bit since the first two seasons-  this version of Arrow is heavily Batmanned-   full of darkness and broody angst.   (And let’s face it- the 1941 first appearance of Green Arrow was obviously trying to cash in on the success of the 1939 first appearance of the Caped Crusader, right down to the Arrow-Car.)

It’s kind of interesting that although Arrow paved the way for the current crop of CW Superhero shows, it’s the one that is the least comfortable with embracing the fantastical nature of comic book heroes.  Arrow has, for the most part, tried to keep things grounded.  They didn’t do superpowers until after the Flash had premiered, and they waited until season four to bring up the idea of magic, not counting the Lazarus Pit.  Even with powered characters like Firestorm and Hawkgirl running around the “Arrowverse,” the show that started it all still prefers to work with non-powered characters.

That’s part of the fun, for me though-  one of my favorite parts of bringing the Flash into the Arrowverse was seeing Diggle’s reaction (and stunned disbelief) at what Barry could do.   The first time these two had a proper team-up, I was super psyched, even though Oliver is kind of a dick to Barry most of the time.

The cross-network Flash-Supergirl crossover last year was much more satisfying.  Barry is way more at home in Kara’s world than in Oliver’s.  The entire episode, from start to finish, is just fun as heck.   (Kara’s reaction when Barry demonstrated his super-speed by getting everyone in the room ice cream is one of the best moments on television so far this year.) The Legends of Tomorrow, while not the strongest show in the current line-up is still entertaining enough, and it takes its tone cues more from Flash than from Arrow.

Tonight, the whole lot of them start to battle an honest-to-goodness alien invasion.  It’s gonna be great.

And I can’t wait to see how Diggle reacts to Supergirl.

Are you a DC or a Marvel?   What’s your favorite live-action superhero adaptation?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

Three short thoughts about hair.

Sometimes, a string of  semi-random thoughts sits in my draft folder for so long that I give up on the idea that they’re part of a longer post and just use them as-is.  This is one of those times.   Just roll with it.    Longer posts resume tomorrow!

1) Sometimes, I use Amelie’s shampoo instead of my own. I just like the smell of it.  I’ve also learned over time that I really like the smell of coconut in hair products, but I can’t stand shaved coconut on pastries.

2) I hate shaving with the fire of a thousand suns, but I hate being unshaven, too.  I thought about laser hair removal for my face a bit.  I know someone who had that done and he only has to shave about once a month now.  I always have other things to spend my money on, though.  Besides, you never know when you’ll have to go on the run and will need to grow a disguise-beard.

3) Speaking of shaving, I think I have shaving gnomes.  There’s a large-ish bald spot on my left shin, close to my ankle.  It’s on the front of the leg, and it’s super smooth.  Logic dictates that it’s probably from the way I cross my legs at work, but I’ve spent lots of time crossing my legs in various comfortable ways to try to duplicate that rubbing, and none of them contact my shin on top of the bald spot.  I have not been able to figure out exactly how I’m rubbing my shin at the point of baldness. So: gnomes!   Gnomes with Nair!

I usually try to end my posts with a question, but I honestly can’t think of one for this topic that wouldn’t be patently ridiculous.

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?