Mini-Man Cave (Weekend 1)

My wife wanted an indoor kids playhouse… My Dad’s and my project would be to build it.  OK!

Here are some photos from weekend 1.

Winter Camping

We’re faking out happiness…

About 7 years ago my brother and dad convinced me to go camping…in the winter….in Northern Michigan.  As most would assume, I was reluctant at first, and still am.  We have gone several times over the years and for me it is still a love-hate relationship.  I enjoy the outdoors and the winter, just not at the same time.  However, there is something about the trip that has its appeal, in addition to spending time with brother and dad.  Also, there is certainly something to the digital detox to a few days in the woods.  However, I am talking about a feeling that simply won’t go away.  I suppose it’s your ability to reflect and also envision the future as you want it.  You have a tremendous amount of time to think while trekking through piles of snow for miles a day.  Often you’re thinking, ‘Man, we must have walked like 15 miles so far’ and in all actuality, you’ve walked 1.5 miles.  I would say this takes up 90% of the quiet time with the other 10% being reflective.  You can’t really talk to each other because your head is down wondering why you’re in the middle of nowhere while it’s snowing.

It only takes a moment to remind me of these trips.  Usually a face full of snow falling off a roof at 55mph will do it.  It’s a good memory but one I am still conflicted with.  I hope in the next 3 or 4 months I will have the opportunity to put myself through hell again with my brother and dad.

Baby-ops

The Baby Bjorn™ is an interesting tool in the man-dad arsenal.  It could be equated to black-ops or a high precision stealthy missile.   With a successful mission, your target child will be disabled sound asleep.

Mission Complete

Cable Management

I’m somewhat fanatical about cables, and well, I think everything should be aesthetically pleasing, but especially cables.  I’m not really talking organization since that is just good practice.  I am talking about when cables need to match.  Why?  I have no idea, I just like it that way.  I am often annoyed when I have a bunch of cables in my (online) cart just to find out that the last cable I need isn’t available in that series.  I must then pick a new series if possible, otherwise I might even try a different manufacturer.  Stupid I know.  Over time the people I work for realize this and then proceed to bust my balls over this quirky behavior.  I just know they appreciate it even though they won’t admit it.

This post doesn’t have any value.  I’m sorry if you read this hoping for more.

Family growth

Baby Making

While growing up I always assumed that my own family would consist of 4 people and I still have that firm belief.  I can say recently though, my firmness has softened, a tad.

With my business growth looming my wife and I have were faced with a serious decision… Buy another house or put our kids in daycare.  We chose the latter.  I can certainly say we are both happy with our choice.  The next couple months will be difficult to manage the purchase but it has made my time with my wife and kids even more precious.  I feel renewed when everyone is home with me, not tired or bored.  For some the stay home lifestyle is wonderful, I am not one of those people.  I like my job too much to not be able to do it often.

Going back to the 4 member household thing, it’s still firmly in place.  Don’t think I’m going to become “octo-dad” anytime soon, however, I do see how someone could want more than 2 kids.  The love grows just as much as the first did.

If you want to read my wife’s perspective and a more grammatically correct post, click here.

iPad Warranty.

Is there a pixel guarantee on ipads?  I seem to have a few burnt out.

 

Auditing oneself.

Whenever I have a meeting or a demonstration, I always walk away wondering where I could have improved.   I would assume that is the natural feeling everyone would get, but maybe not.

Question yourself

This rule can really be applied to anything.  If you were to ask the client, “What do I do?” would they be able to explain it?  Often in my case, I am not sure they could (see here: http://brianjcollins.net/2012/10/06/am-i-a-secret-agent-no/).  Over the years, I think I have gotten better at being more precise, but that has its own set of complications.   I won’t take all of the blame but no matter how much I put on the client for not knowing more, it doesn’t produce a sale.  So I focus on the things I can change.

Demonstration Aid

I often think I can run through a software demo without an aid, i.e. prezi, powerpoint.  This is a serious misstep.  It leads me down paths of technical jargon and while I’m talking, I simultaneously think to myself, no one cares about the sql join statements.  Of course you have to continue and try to bring it back around to normal conversation, which can’t happen smoothly.  A prepared presentation helps keep the train on the track.

Tangibles

Being prepared with something to hand out no matter how trivial it is seems required.  Most people like things they can hold.  I find this goes above and beyond having a business card.  I keep far more information around when it comes in a binder.  I might never intend on calling or using that company but their packet fits so nicely in a filing cabinet.  Business cards, who wants them?  They want them in their phone which is great, but if you are trying to build a brand, you lose that as soon as they import the information and pitch the card.  If you give them a binder, sheet of paper, and a business card, it’s going to stay all together preserving your brand.

Am I a secret agent? No.

I’m often asked what I do in my job.  I really don’t have a good answer.  I will usually start to explain in far too great of detail but when that results in glassy eyes, I sigh.  I will then often change the subject to some bullshit topic.  To be fair, I (usually) talk to educated people, so I will take the brunt of responsibility.  I’m not sure why I have an inability to explain it.  Maybe it has something to do with being a child laborer mixing chemicals to clean a moldy basement (Life experiences, I almost died.).  Regardless, I now use the vague term ‘technology consultant’.  If you want details on what that is, sit down, I’m going to spread it on thick.

Most Money

  • Maintain high availability networks
  • Design and build web applications for first responders
  • Integrate with 911 dispatch centers to deliver emergency calls to fire responders
  • Responsible for providing information technology insight and direction to multiple agencies
  • Recently built a county wide mutual aid application for assisting in large operation management (mabas box cards)
  • Run a small startup company (firemodules.com)

No Money (maybe a gift)

  • Help family and friends with all of their IT needs
  • Business card design for people I like
  • Web Design for people I really like

Volunteer (no gifts)

  • Joyboxexpress.com – I tried out for the band but they don’t accept people of my musical caliber – I now help out with web related things
  • MITF1.us – Technology Information Specialist
  • TheNewYorker.com – Senoir Editor*

 

*This is fake.

Life experiences, I almost died.

Throughout my life I’ve learned everything by doing.  I think that trait was part of my DNA, handed down by my parents (obviously).  We grew up not wealthy but had everything we needed.  I was unaware of the yellow pages or at least unclear why they existed.  For that reason, I learned a lot about a lot.

I can say with absolute certainty my own abilities are a direct reflection of my parents’ abilities except for writing.  They’re both substantially better than I.   My dad could and can fix anything… well, other than a computer.  I completely own that one.  I was fortunate to have many opportunities to learn from my parents’ example, especially my dad.  My brother and I were both his slave driven apprentices.  As we got older he paid us, quite well actually.  I still bitched a little.

I had multiple near death experiences but I can recall one in particular.  It was a foreclosed home that the finished basement had a foot of standing water.  It was a tear out and it went swimmingly.  Well, that was until we came to the point to clean up the mold.  My dad and I share a few similar things in common, or we at least used to.  One major one, and important to the story, was the stronger the chemical smell the better the cleaner.  For liability reasons, I won’t tell you what we used.  I can say it causes a pretty severe chemical reaction and a severe smell.  It might have been the world’s best cleaner if you could use it without dying.  We ended up flooding the basement with a few hundred gallons of water and then used a proper cleaner.

Looking back, I can say for sure, this was the dumbest move in our history.  All of the other experiences we had gave me the skillset I am proud of today.

 

Boom goes my name…

If I had to have a mission in creating this site, it would be clear my name or at least alter the top search results.

Over the next while, I’ll be filling this space up with things other than misplaced catchphrases.  Eventually, I hope to have my name somewhat cleared of the most painful 4 minutes in  sports broadcast(ing?) history.