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?

glassmansteven-2002-badge
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?

Just after the Summer solstice, a post!

I’m borrowing this post idea from Bevchen.  I don’t usually do a lot of meme-inspired posts, but lately I haven’t been posting much at all.  So here’s the “What’s New With You” format…  here’s what I’ve been up to just lately.

Reading.  I haven’t had much time for the Kindle lately, but I did start Jen Bradley‘s novel “Virago,” along with  the fascinating “Cleaning Up The Kingdom, which is written by people who are former members of the Disneyland custodial staff.  Really interesting stuff here!

Watching.  Summer is upon us, which means there’s not as much new television to be seen.  I’ve nearly completed a re-watch of Star Trek: Enterprise, which I absolutely despised on the first run.  I find it considerably less revolting now, and I’m not sure what changed.     I’ve also nearly completed a re-watch of Leverage, which was a delightful and fun show that could easily have run another season without losing steam.

I also watched the first episode of the new Dangermouse, and it’s definitely got flavor of the original ones, even though some of the new voices completely take me out of the show.  The new Silas Greenback voice is particularly terrible.  I’m rather surprised they didn’t try to get Sir David Jason back… after all, he was the original voice of Dangermouse. (And Count Duckula!)  Maybe he wants to retire from acting, since he’s 76 now.

It’s also the summer movie season.  I haven’t had time to watch everything I want to see, but I can say that “Finding Dory” was exceptionally adorable, and the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was super entertaining.  It was basically a two-hour live-action movie version of an episode of the 90s cartoon.

Fascinated by.  This news that the Earth has picked up a second moon.   Basically, an asteroid got caught in our gravity about a hundred years ago and it never managed to break free.   It’s tiny, about 150 feet by 300 feet, and it has a weird orbit.  It’s still technically a moon, though.    We have two moons!  Next up, Jedi Knights!

Cooking.  I’m not much of a cook, but I’ve been using the slow cooker for the occasional moist fall-apart-y chicken breast. (Amelie’s Salsa Chicken recipe:  Put a chicken breast in the slow cooker with mild salsa for a bunch of hours, then shred and eat with rice or something.  It’s super delicious!)

I’ve also been taking advantage of the meats that they sell which have already been prepped/seasoned/marinated-  Target sells a garlic and herb roast that is absolutely amazing after about six hours in the slow cooker.    I’ve also been making more easy-prep foods like spaghetti at home.  I want to eat out at restaurants less frequently, because I enjoy having money.

Exercising.  I’m still probably going to talk about exercise in more detail in another post down the line, but I’ve been trying to go to the gym several times a week.  When I lived in Germany, I walked most everywhere, lived upstairs, took the bus to work, and walked all over creation whenever I traveled.  My life in Florida is so much more sedentary, and I needed to get up and move.  So, the gym.  I just use the little gym at my apartment complex,  because paying for one that I would never drive to is just a waste of money.  I do some of the weight machines, some Couch-to-5K stuff on the treadmill, some time on the bike, and as little time  as possible on the Devil’s Elliptical.  I hate every second of it, but so far I keep going.

Buying.  Since I’ve been doing the gym stuff, I got myself a new Fitbit.   The Fitbit Charge HR is a wrist-worn step counter that also checks my heart-rate and tracks my sleep.  It’s great for being reassured that I am, in fact, terribly unhealthy and in need of drastic lifestyle change.

I also recently bought an install-it-yourself basic alarm system for my apartment, and the little SD card that activates the maps in my car.  The Mazda 3 model that I drive had the GPS built in already, and just needed the maps to activate the navigation.  There’s an SD card slot in the console.

Traveling. Not so much lately.  I did the Germany/Switzerland trip a little while back, but there’s nothing else on the near horizon, except a planned Disney trip in late August.  Orlando is only about a three hour drive from me, so I tend not to think of it as travel.

Thinking about: Speaking of Orlando, I won’t get into the Pulse nightclub shooting very much, except to say:   Orlando is my second home city (Regensburg is my third,) and some of the victims were friends of my friends.   I love Orlando, and I want to live there again some time in the future.  The attack was brutal and insane and it saddens me greatly.  It also makes me very angry.    I won’t say more about this, because the logical thread here gets into religion and politics, both of which are not topics I can be calm or cheerful about right now.

Listening to.  Mostly Pandora at work, but I’ve been working on an upbeat playlist called Jim Rhatt for the iPod while I’m on the aforementioned treadmill or Devil’s Elliptical.

Recent concerts with Amelie have included Florence + The Machine, Panic at the Disco, and Weezer.   The Cure is playing Miami early next week, but that’s the last show we’ve got tickets for until October (Sia) and November (the Pet Shop Boys.)

Regretting.  That my car has a manual transmission.    Almost all of the cars I’ve ever driven have had a stick shift, but this might be the last one before I go automatic.  I’ve always enjoyed driving manual because I feel like I have more control.   I’ve always preferred cars that were small and quick and maneuverable, like a White Star or the Millennium Falcon.  In fact, whenever I downshift in a turn, I feel kind of like Han pulling this lever, which is obviously the Falcon’s shifter:

falcon-flight-smaller

The problem with driving manual is that I live in South Florida again, and I spend most of my drive time on the highway, especially I-95.  This means there’s a lot of stop-and-go driving, and I spend a large percentage of my drive with my foot pushing the clutch all the way down while I coast along at eight or ten miles an hour.  It’s very annoying, and I often get out of the car with an ache in my clutch foot.

What’s your preference, automatic or stick?

May your wheels never break. 

BigRed
Goodbye, Big Red, your time in my life is at an end.

I purchased Big Red when I was about to move to Germany, and I knew that I would have to live out of a suitcase for a month or more while the rest of my stuff floated across the Atlantic Ocean.  This suitcase is gargantuan-  it comes up almost to my waist, and I’m a fairly tall individual.  It has a strong extensible handle, and four spinning wheels that make it a dream to maneuver around airports.

For most of my time in Europe, Big Red sat in the corner because it’s just too huge for most trips. For a suitcase this large, it’s just far too easy to break the fifty pound limit the airlines impose.

The first year I visited Florida after moving to Germany, I used Big Red. I had rented a convertible for my birthday, and the suitcase couldn’t be loaded into the car unless the top was down.  It was just that big.

Since I returned to the U.S., I’ve been storing other suitcases inside Big Red, like those Russian nested dolls.

The thing is, I’m never going to travel in quite the same way again. I will never need a suitcase quite this large again.   That part of my life is over.

I’ve found you a home, Big Red- a home with someone who is only now discovering their wanderlust, so that you will still get to travel on.

Goodbye, Big Red. May you continue to be Samsonite-tough for many years to come.

All I need is a pith helmet.

The more time I spend in South Florida, the more I feel like Uncle Travelling Matt.  So much of life here is just a little bit alien to me now.  Take this, for example-  the weird flavors that are appearing on things are just strange to me.  I’m pretty sure this is a Thanksgiving holiday flavor:

meanwhile06

Speaking of flavors, I’m trying something I’ve wanted to try for months: Naturebox.  Naturebox is a subscription service that delivers healthy snacks right to your door. I first heard about this on a podcast while I was still in Germany, and I wanted to try it then, but I held off until I got back to the US because it’s not really an international service as far as I know.  (Administrative note:  I am not being reimbursed or compensated in any way for talking about Naturebox.  However, if any of you want to try it, let me know because I can give you a code that will give you ten bucks off your first shipment.)

meanwhile01

So far, I’ve only opened a few of my snacks.  The guacamole bites are delicious, but wickedly salty.  I won’t be getting these again because I can only eat a few before I need to rehydrate.

meanwhile02

The salted caramel pretzel pops are sweetly delicious, however.

meanwhile03

And now for some random stuff… I’ve been having trouble this week coming up with a coherent blog post topic, so I’m just going with random stuff from my last seven days.  For example, Amelie and I went to the South Florida Ikea.  It’s a little different than Regensburg’s Ikea, but it’s similar enough in most ways to actually make me breathe a tiny sigh of relief at the sameness.

Neither of us can pass a display of stuffed animals without playing with them, by the way.  This is her with some bears.

meanwhile04

Every time I passed a bin of stuffed animals in the store, I tried to give them all better vantage points.  This one was a joint effort.  We are roughly twelve years old.

meanwhile05

I commented on one of my last posts about all the super nice cars in South Florida-  not a day goes by that I don’t see a Maserati or a Lamborghini or a Ferrari.    But not everyone in South Florida is rich, and sometimes you see the opposite end of the spectrum also.  For example, this clever usage of custom duck tape was spotted in the parking lot at Target.

meanwhile07

Most of the time, it’s relaxing being back in the land of everyone speaking English.  However, speaking English doesn’t mean you can type it.  I promise, my name has never actually been spelled “STEVN” before, and I’ve no idea where the H came from.

meanwhile08

In my search for a new tagline, I came up with the idea a few nights ago to use “Whimsy is my resting state.”  That wasn’t quite it, though, and so I decided today to rename the tagline at the top of the blog with “Sunshine.  Whimsy.  Tacos.”  I really couldn’t leave the tacos out.

As for the sunshine, it’s this-  it’s all to easy to forget during my day to day grind that in this part of Florida, I’m never more than a few minute’s drive away from this view:

meanwhile09

 

I’m having trouble maintaining an election.

I wrote last year about election time in Germany, and one of the aspects which fascinated me the most was the incredible variety of poltical parties in the race.

In the US, there’s a wide variety of parties, but only two that get enough votes to make a difference in most races: The Republicans and the Democrats.  Not that you’d know it from the election mailings and Robocalls.  Here’s a small sample of the incredible stack of mailings received by this household in the last month:

2014midterms

Throughout my time in Germany, I had made arrangements to vote by absentee ballot.  The Broward County supervisor of elections office e-mailed me a PDF of the ballot for each election, and I printed it out, filled in the dots, scanned the result, and faxed it back. I still voted by absentee ballot in Tuesday’s midterm election because it was simpler to just follow through that way than to change my voting status this close to the election.

Because the Broward SOE has my (former) German address, I received these campaign mailings in Germany as well; big glossy cardboard fans of fluff and nonsense.    I did notice an interesting trend:  the mailings that I got while overseas were more often Republican than Democrat.  I assume that’s because the Republicans know that deployed military families are more likely to vote Republican and the Dems probably choose not to spend their money in that arena.  That’s just a guess, though, because Jenny (who has been receiving my postal mail since I left) made an observation that it’s very difficult to determine their party just from the mailings:  They often show no outward sign of which party affiliation they hold.

That didn’t affect the sheer volume of them, though.  If you have enough registered voters at your postal address, you could easily wallpaper a room with the mailings.  The Robocalls are prolific and awful if you have a land line, like my father.  I received none of them on my cell phone this year, however, which was nice.

That didn’t stop me from seeing the television commercials when I got back, or hearing the radio commercials.  Or hearing the endless discussion of the midterm elections on the news.  The elections went on this past Tuesday, and the Democrats took a pretty substantial hit.  The Republicans have been making pretty, empty noises about working with the Democrats to get things done, but the very next breath included things like repealing Obamacare and impeaching the President-  that doesn’t seem very cooperative to me.  Now that the Republicans have control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, I expect Presidential vetoes to hit an all time high.  One of my Facebook friends commented that now would be a great time to buy stock in Mont Blanc.

I’m just glad the election is over.  For all the Sturm und Drang about the massive shift in power, I really don’t think that anything will change:  Our Congress will still accomplish very little, and the state legislatures will continue to quietly remake the country in their ideological image.

But at least the mailings and the commercials will stop, at least until 2016’s Presidential election starts to ramp up.

Were you annoyed by this year’s campaign ads, flyers, brochures, signs, and zeppelins?