Sunday, May 20, 2012

Where Do We Go from Here?

I saw where Digger Jones posted an update on his current situation over at the Wordpress version of Reality & Redemption. I chimed in with a note of my own.

A glance at his blogroll made me realize not only how little energy I have put into blogging the past year, but that many of those who found themselves in the Diggersphere of anonymous bloggers, those with relationship issues determined to find resolutions via cerebral or spiritual means, have since shut down, gone private, or gone dormant, if not intermittent. My analytics show I still get on average of four or so visits a day, but most of that traffic is Googlebot, so a webcrawler has become my biggest fan.

I found myself with a few spare moments this morning, so I thought I would try to tap out some updates on my life since the end of 2011.

Kids On Friday, the kids finished up the third and first grades respectively, and did OK for the most part. She loves to read and write, pouring herself into projects where she has to create reports. With school out, she has been obsessing with writing her own story. She's finishing up her second year of piano lessons and will have her first recital this Thursday. The younger daughter's passion is in drawing. We go through a lot of crayons, colored pencils, and markers. Both are finishing up another year of dance. Their fourth and final competition was this past weekend. The end-of-year recital is in two weeks. Instead of a national competition, they will be going to nationals. Work

>I am nearing in on 4 1/2 years with my current employer. They are treading water and trying to finish up another round of securing money to keep running. I had an unpleasant conversation with the the product veep in early January, after I got back from some time off during the holidays that made me think he might be pushing for me to get fired.

He was complaining about the "lack of urgency" in my team and how other departments seemed to be stressed out but we weren't. We were losing clients and we were going to be very behind in the marketplace if we didn't start developing at a much faster rate. I asked him for some clarification to identify instances of where we had fallen short. He complained that we weren't releasing a lot in December.

I noted that we had several members of the team who had to use up vacation time at the end of the year and would lose it otherwise. He said it was more than that but couldn't give me a quantitative description of his vague complaints. He went on to say that if it meant sacrificing some application stability in the name of new features, he'd be willing to make that tradeoff. I asked him what that meant exactly? Was he willing to give up 99.9 % uptime? Be willing to offer service credits for downtime? He wouldn't say.

The next day, I called up three local recruiters with whom I had worked with in hiring capacity in the past few years. They put me in touch with some leads. One was with a local company that had been around for a long time but had gone public in November. The other was with a marketing service fulfillment company on far north side of town. There was a third lead that I don't really count because I believe that the recruiter was misrepresenting the role to me as well as my goals to the prospective employer. The interview didn't last more than a few minutes. I also secured an interview with another, more established company a few blocks away, based on a job posting. I got three offers, two of which were slight increases in pay. The other was a drop but had more employer coverage of health insurance.

I was on the brink of making a decision to take one of the jobs when I learned that our lead sales guy was leaving the company with only one week's notice. That would take the sales department to one person. Moreover, the lead over in the support department would be going on maternity leave in a couple weeks.

If I were to leave, that would be three out of four director level roles quitting the company or going on an extended leave. Rather than run the risk of burning bridges, I withdrew from the job seeking process. Fortunately the companies extending the offers understood and were glad to see I put my employer before myself.

While the job search was going on, I worked to get my team to retool the development process so that we could push releases in a more automated fashion so that we could deploy code more frequently than once a week. The changes we made were enough to mollify the veep. We started shipping so much so often that just this past week, he had to request that we start putting a 48 hour hold on deployment of user-visible features so the client relationship managers (read: people who couldn't make it in sales or product support and got transferred) could weigh in on it.

About a week after I withdrew from my job search, the CEO asked to have lunch with me. He asked me how things were doing with me towards the end, and I let him know that I was approaching a point where I was ready to think of moving on. He seemed both surprised and distressed. He asked me what was driving it. I said part of it was working for so long at the company and that I was ready to do some development on something different. I also expressed an incompatibility with the veep. He said that he didn't want me to leave and asked me to work out my differences with the veep.

In April, one of the three recruiters I had been working with contacted me and let me know that she had another possible lead for me. This one would be for a local professional school that had build its own social portal with outside contractors and wanted to bring development in house. Things were still in the budgeting phase, so nothing was certain. I did have an initial conversation with two managers in April and that went well. They had me undergo a technical phone interview on Friday of this past week. The interviewer was a third party because the in-house development team is a Microsoft centric bunch, and the portal is built on open source technology. If the job work out, I would make my transition sometime in July.


On May 14, I celebrated one year since my girlfriend and I started exchanging e-mails. Our in-person meeting anniversary is on the 24th. We've been doing a lot of reflecting recently, and both of us are very happy with where we are. We are committed to the long haul, still keeping our kids in the top priority spot, but looking forward to a day several years out where we share a place of our own.

Prior to meeting, both of us had struggled with a lifelong sense of not really clicking with anyone. We have very much in common with respect to past experiences, world view, and love of the arts. I've started to attend her church, which is has similar ties to my own upbringing, but more progressive. We are content just snuggling or sitting together and reading. We also help each other out of our shells so we see a lot of live music, most recently at a concert by a certain somewhat famous folk rock singer who also has an edgier bent when she plays solo.

We have not only become lovers but also playmates, best friends, and confidants. I will probably have some more good things to write about this in a future post, maybe in the next few days.

Any other questions?