Friday was my last day as a contractor at Expedia. Monday is my first day as a full time employee. I made the jump to contract work a few months ago expecting – well, different things. While I did get a big bump in pay, that was offset by the fact that we had to budget in (or I had to make up)any time off that I had taken. We really could not budget our funds with any long-term certainty since the amount of money I received varied on a paycheck-by-paycheck basis. Fortunately, our family is enrolled in a low cost – but killer – health insurance plan, but we had to forego dental for the duration. Lastly, I had no automatic life or disability insurance to speak of.

I am not ruling out going back to being a contractor at some point; with the benefit of knowing being a contractor entails I’m positive that Carrie and I would approach things a bit differently. But for the foreseeable future, we’ll breathe a bit easier knowing that we have the stability that comes with being a full time employee of a large corporation.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since I committed these words to this blog (which were followed up three years later with this sad post), but that just goes to show you (or at least, shows me) that time does indeed fly by faster the older that you go.

Five years has seen a lot of change. Gabe and Ollie. Not one, but two new jobs. Unpleasant revelations, pain and heartache – but also change for the better, lots of joy and laughter. Comparing the me now with the guy I was a scant five years ago – yes, there are things that I wish that I would have done differently, but in the end, I like myself more the way that I turned out then I suspect I would have had I not made some mistakes along the way and taken the time and courage to learn from them.

On another note: tomorrow we are having a cookout, and, as usual, Carrie and Charlie are doing it up in style. Not only will there be pulled pork with my homemade rub, it will be accompanied by two of Carrie’s homemade barbecue sauces (one traditional and one Carolina-style mustard sauce), and served in Carrie’s homemade brioche buns. We are having two different types  of homemade coleslaw with homemade dressings: one made with green lettuce cabbage with buttermilk dressing;  the other made with red lettuce cabbage with an apple-cider based dressing. There will be homemade spicy pickles, homemade fermented collards, and, for dessert, a buttermilk sheet cake and two different homemade ice creams -buttermilk vanilla and Mexican chocolate.

Oh – and I’ll be offering some of my homebrew saison as well ;)

Recently, my team at Expedia held a morale-building event.

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For the first time in 30 years, I found myself playing softball. I was pretty hesitant my first time at-bat.

IMG_7820The second time, I decided to just strike a pose; if I didn’t know what I was doing, I might as well look good doing it:

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Both times, I got a hit. Both times, they were caught before leaving the infield, which sort of made this action kinda futile on my part:

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But hey, at least I got 2 RBI’s, which isn’t such a bad thing after 30 years of not having played the game. And I had fun, which was the most important thing :)

 

Last month I talked to my Neurologist about switching medications from the daily injectable that I currently take (Copaxone) to a daily oral medication (Tecifidera). After a round of MRI scans and blood and urine tests, I finally got this in the mail.

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Relief.

I had started taking medication for my MS back in 2000. Back then I was injecting myself once a week with Avonex; it had to be injected directly into the muscles, so the needle was about an inch long, and the side effects were pretty severe. I was left feeling like I had the flu for the better part of a day. Six years later, I switched to Copaxone; the shot just had to go into the skin, making for a much shorter needle, but I had to take that one once a day, and not only did I have site reactions, but I would also get headaches, experience dizziness and shortness of breath and the occasional bout of severely painful spasms. Thankfully, now that I am on a different medication, those days are behind me.

Not to say that Tecifidera itself is not without its own list of issues:

  • Flushing/warmth
  • redness
  • itching
  • burning feeling of the skin
  • Stomach/abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

A lot of those side effects can be ameliorated by taking Tylenol and eating when you take the medication. At the very least, I won’t be giving myself shots every day. As little as I look forward to having to take pills for the rest of my life, I relish the prospect of daily (or even weekly) injections even less.

(Aside) Now that I am taking the pills, I have a month’s worth of perfectly good Copaxone in the fridge awaiting disposal. It seems a shame to allow over $5,000 of medication to go to waste. I’m hoping that there is some way that I can donate what I have to someone who cannot afford the medication.

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Both Gabe and Ollie have digital cameras that they occasionally use to take pictures of random things. Sometimes they even take selfies or pics of one another. Here are some of the pics of Gabe that I found on their cameras :)

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Both Gabe and Ollie have digital cameras that they occasionally use to take pictures of random things. Sometimes they even take selfies or pics of one another. Here are some of the pics of Ollie that I found on their cameras :)

I’ve been fortunate enough during the almost 30 (!) years that I’ve been part of the workforce to have worked mostly with people that I’ve gotten along with, or at least was able to tolerate. There have been a couple of standout occasions, though, that I have had the misfortune to have to suffer through during the past few years. One of them involved a manager on another team; in the end, he and I were able to at least come to an accommodation that ended in a sort of mutual respect.

The second occasion I still find myself shaking my head at to this day, partly due to its’ relative recentness and the fact that I view the offender and I responding to strikingly similar circumstances in startlingly different ways.

I’m no stranger to being “the new guy” on a team. Given the fact that I’m expecting to change employers at least every couple of years or so (as well as my recent conversion from a full-time employee to a contractor), it’s pretty much a given at this point that I’ll be “the new guy” from now until the day I either retire or establish my own business. That having been said, in my role as a Software Developer who writes programs that break other programs, I do hold some quite strong views on both Software Testing and Development. I’ve seen (and continue to see) what I consider to be egregious errors being committed in both realms. Yet, time and guidance have taught me several  things when it comes to expressing my opinions regarding said errors, namely (1) explain my case as to why I feel errors are being made, (2) seek to convince others that my suggestions will make things better, (3) listen to the team when they state their concerns, (4) don’t be so intransigent that compromise is unachievable, and (5) when you are the new guy, you are not the one who needs to be convinced, but rather you are the one who needs to prove her case. Failing to follow especially the latter will cause a lot of bad feelings – case in point.

I guess I’m writing this down now because I’v recently made quite a few changes to the existing code base for the project that I am working on, and, looking back, I can see the difference between myself and the offending individual in how we communicated the changes that we wanted to make. There is the “I want these changes made; now you convince me that things should stay the same” approach, and then there is the “I want to make these changes; now let me show you why I think this will make things better and take  things from there” approach.

Now tell me – which one would you want on your team? Hopefully, I represent that person.

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