Thursday, November 07, 2002

A Grand Adventure: a New Beginning

It was my intent to continue making updates on a regular basis after getting my job. However, it seems that I again value my time and am fairly selective about what I do outside of work. Granted, I have been spending most of my time playing GTA: Vice City, but I still only have a limited amount of time to spend when compared to having all day prior.

My apartment, although small, is large enough. It is neat to have my computer, bed, and television all in the same room. And, thankfully, the room is a large enough size that it does not feel cramped. Now that I have a cable modem, it is almost like being in my study back home.

The job is great. I enjoy it enough that it does not even really feel like work being there. My assignment is somewhat different from what I was doing before. Whereas at Nexiq I was working on the backend C++ code that interfaced with the controllers, here I am developing in Visual Basic 6.0 to create the front end GUI that interfaces with the C++ code. I think I may enjoy VB more than C++. We shall see how I feel in a couple of months.

The drive to work from my apartment only takes about 15 minutes; it is the closest I have been to work since my Cabletron days. The drive from Ypsilanti to Kalamazoo and back, however, is quite an ordeal. It is a little over a hundred miles and it takes about an hour and a half to travel it. Thankfully, it is a simple route; I get on 94 and take that for about 100 miles and then I am there. The only bad part so far is that the traffic can be cumbersome, regardless of the time. Hopefully, it will not continue to be so, but we shall see.

It will be nice to go home this weekend. It will be nice to see K and the kitties. :) Yay!

And, on a completely unrelated note, I really enjoy this Survivor show. So much so it makes me regret having avoided it the first three seasons. Don't be like me. Instead, start watching a great show from the beginning; check out "John Doe" Friday nights on Fox.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Laid Off: The Aftermath

The seemingly impossible task of finding a job has finally come to an end, however, it really just marks the beginning of my new adventure. Because my position at SPX is in Portage (around 105 miles away,) Kendra and I decided that it would make more sense to find an apartment in the Kalamazoo area for use during the week than it would to commute the four hour round trip daily. So, tomorrow, I am going to go get my new apartment set up.

As I only need it for myself, and only during the week, I figure an efficiency will suffice. Kendra and I loaded the car tonight with a bunch of stuff that I will need. Not much furniture, just a short rocking type seat, a TV with a TV stand, and an inflatable bed. I wonder if the bed will be comfortable enough to spend 6-7 months sleeping on it?

Tonight, prior to packing, Kendra and I went to dinner and a movie. Red Robin is one of our favorite restaurants and it is right next to our house. The movie, Jackass the movie, was hilarious. I have to wonder what is wrong with those people, though.

Earlier, I took a trip to Sterling Heights to eat lunch with my ex-co-workers at La Shish. It felt as though I had just returned from a long vacation. We all joked and chatted and had a good time. I got caught up on the details involving my old employer. Apparently, Nexiq is in a restructuring period since declaring bankruptcy. There is a meeting tomorrow between the CRO (Chief Restructuring Officer) and Sunshine Investors (the investment group that Nexiq is in debt to). As I recall, my layoff took place the same day as one such meeting, so hopefully that will not be the case for others. Unfortunately, there was already a temporary layoff of one week for forty Nexiq employees. Maybe they will be able to turn it around, but whether or not they do, my destiny, at least, lies elsewhere.

Afterwords, I visited my mom for a little while. It was nice working in the Sterling Heights area so I could see her and the rest of my family so often. Now that I am going to be working so far away, I doubt that I will even see them as much as I had been while working in Ann Arbor. I suspect that I will be less interested in making the drive to the Heights after my long trips to and from the office.

My job begins this Thursday, October 31st. I will meet Scott, my contact from Tek Systems, at 8:00am for coffee and we will drive over to the SPX around 9:00am. I am excited to be working again. Even though it means that I will no longer be able to sleep until noon, at least I will be close enough that I won't need to get up by 7 to get to work by 9.

And, so the grand adventure begins...

Friday, October 25, 2002

Laid Off: The Final Chapter

I have not been writing much as little has changed during the days. Eventually, each day begins to feel like the last. It could be a very depressing place, if you let yourself go there. For the most part, I have been pretty good about being optimistic while looking for jobs. A good way to do this is to spend time doing stuff that you would not normally have time during the day to do. Examples include going to noon karate classes, watching TV, playing games online, going to the store/mall and, most importantly, staying up really late and also getting up really late. All of these are things that help me to appreciate the state of unemployment.

However, I am pleased to announce that there is a very positive reason for the title of this entry. I have been employed by Tek Systems (formerly the Maxim Group) at a place called SPX. It is a contract position that will last 6-7 months. At the end of that time, it is likely that I will be offered a full time position there. The only problem with this position is that it is located in Kalamazoo. So, I will have to look for a little apartment for the week and only make the trip home for the weekends. Fortunately, I am to be given an additional sum of money per hour that will be tax free that will more than make up for the apartment and any gas spent on the trip. So, although the location is far from ideal, the additional sum should make up for it.

SPX is a company that has been around for a long time and does many different things. If you are interested, I suggest that you look at the website. What I will be specifically doing is writing diagnostic applications to be used on Harley-Davidson motorcycles as well as Mercury-Marine boats. Essentially, I will be doing what I was doing at Nexiq, just for different vehicles. In fact, when I was speaking to one of the other contractors there, I determined that I would be completely shocked if I was not selected for this position. While talking with my recruiter afterwords, he commented that he told his co-worker that he wouldn't attempt to do further business with SPX if they didn't hire me; I was that good of a fit.

So, hopefully I'll be happy there. I'll miss all the fun things, including sleeping till noon, but I knew that this state would not last forever. A belief I have that makes life easier is simply that everything changes. It helps you to make the most of a bad situation when you know it will not always be that way. Additionally, it helps with accepting the loss of a good situation. I've read somewhere about a saying that I believe is attributed to some Buddhist monks (or some sort of monks.) It says that if you have a favorite cup, behave as though the cup has been smashed to pieces. Thus, every time you use your cup, it is a celebration. And, if it is to break, it is as expected and not a loss.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Laid Off: Day X

Monday October 7, 2002
When I started writing these, I suspected that I would either tire of them or get a job and no longer have a reason to update them. It appears that the first condition has been met. Although, I feel that it is beneficial to continue updating these not only to make others aware of my status, but also to act as an outlet. It is helpful to be reminded that others enjoy reading these, so, thanks Kelly.

I had a job interview today. It was for a three day assignment with Analysts International. After driving to meet with them in Auburn Hills, it was discovered that I did not have experience necessary to complete the job in question. I suspected that the position was not going to be a match, but I went to this interview because I figured I would at least be able to make them aware of my skillset for the other jobs that they encounter. Also, I really didn't have anything else going on and at least there was the opportunity of getting some work. Well, at any rate, it was frustrating. :(

After the interview, I got to drive home in rush hour traffic. It reminded me of how glad I am that I no longer have to make that drive every day.

I received a voicemail from my old boss, asking if he would mind if he used me as a reference. I'll give him a call tomorrow. I somehow suspect that this is not a good sign for my old company. I am not sure if I have mentioned this here, but of all the companies where I have worked, Nexiq is the one I feel best about, even after being laid off. Thus, it is sad to see them crumble. :'(

I went to karate tonight. It is a nice constant to have during this unstructured time. The other day, I received an award stating that I had the qualities, skill and potential to become a black belt. Even though I can't help but wonder if everyone receives this award, I am still proud of my achievements. I would love to make a living via Tae Kwon Do, but at this stage, I do not have the required experience. Also, I doubt I would be able to make as much as I could as a programmer, and that is unfortunate.

Tomorrow, I am going to try to transport an old desk from my basement to my mom's. It doesn't look like it will fit, so I will have to see if it can be disassembled. Kendra has informed me that is has been glued together, so it might be a lost cause.

This past weekend, Kendra and I ran/walked in a 5k race. We finished in about 40 minutes. It is a pretty good pace and I think we can improve on that.

Also this past weekend, I finished the baby blanket for Megan, Dr. Jen's new baby. I don't know why I enjoy crochet as much as I do, but I am pretty good at it. Heh, I wouldn't mind making a living doing this, either. So, uh, anyone want to buy a blanket? Only $10,000 each. ;)

One final comment. Opera is great alternative to IE or Netscape. It has a built in popup killer and has a nifty "mouse motion" feature that you can use to do a variety of different things that can only be done with hot-keys or button clicks in Netscape and IE. Still a couple of oddities about the way some pages and links are represented, but definately worth a look.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Laid Off: The Lost Days

Sometimes more is communicated when less is said. I have been been doing a mix of sending out resumes, waiting, playing games and sleeping these past days. However, I really didn't feel like logging all these activities. Hopefully, I will feel up to continuing the log, but when each day seems like the last, it can be pointless.

One of the highlights of these Lost Days comes from Saturday. Keith Hafner's Karate, the place I train, had a tournament* for its students. At the beginning, they asked for anyone who wanted to try in the weapons competition, which was completely separate from the "forms demonstration" in which everyone was to compete. Since I have been playing around with the nuchuckus for several months, I figured it might be fun to see what everyone thought of my skill. So, of course, I was to perform first. What I learned is that, apparently, I am fairly advanced with them. Even though there was only one other competing with the chucks, I was proud to win, and was really pleased by the mounds of compliments from both students and instructors. My favorite was from a friend who said it was amazing. :) Then, I went on to win the forms demonstration for my division. That's right, I'm a karate champion. :-D

Recently, I have been taking care of things around the house. Yesterday, I called several places that needed calling for appointments and such. Today, I went to several stores to get groceries; it is nice not having to fight with a crowd of people while shopping. I also sent out several resumes and need to send out some more. Although it is definately nice to be able to sleep in, I hope I hear back from some of these companies soon.

Tomorrow, I have an eye-doctor's appointment at 11:30. Again, it is nice to have a reason to get out of the house. :)

Note: the tournament is a non-sparing event in which the competitors demonstrate the form (the sequence of moves associated with belt level) for a panel of judges.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Laid Off: Days Eleven & Twelve

Writing the same stuff every day becomes a bit tiresome, as I am sure it is tiresome to read as well. Thus, I am saving us all a bit of tiresomeness by compacting days eleven and twelve (with a little of the weekend) into one entry.

The weekend was uneventful, just football and fun, the way it is supposed to be.

Last night, I went to a support group at Church for the unemployed. It was actually very useful and could be a very good resource for finding a new job.

When I came home after the meeting, Kendra told me that the police had stopped by. Apparently, a couple of little neighborhood snots have been stealing the mail of several homes. So, they were marched to the door and had to apologize, but we will see if there is any additional steps that could be taken. We were thinking it would be nice to have them weed and maintain the common areas of the subdivision as punishment. At any rate, the parents have offered to pay for any fees or problems caused by this. I suspect we will not be seeing those kids outside for a very, very long time. :-D

Today, I was a whirlwind of productivity. I mowed the lawn, scooped the kitty litter, took out the trash and sanded the walls in the "nursery" to prepare them to be primed and painted. Yup, I am good. :)

And, that is about it.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Laid Off: Day Ten

Karate again today at noon. The instructor is one that only teaches the noon classes, so these past two times were the first times I was in his classes. Nice guy with tough workouts. After class, I had a private lesson (which are included in the price of memebership, so I might as well.) I am pleased to report that not only was my form spectacular, but I impressed the instructor with my advanced techniques on the nunchukus. :-D

I called my recruiter and left a message. He'll probably return the call on Monday. These recuiters do a lot of driving around, so I am not shocked that he wouldn't be in the office.

Also on the job front, I received an email from the gentleman that I met in Karate yesterday; he let me know that he forwarded my resume to the managers and the HR department at his company. So, I have a couple of things going on in the job front.

Later in the evening, after Kendra and I took a nice little nappy, we watched some TV while I worked on one of the new blankets I am making ("John Doe" is as good as I expected; I would highly recommend it to everyone.) The problem with the way yarn is sold is that it comes in a standard sized skein. If the afghan I am making calls for 6 ounces of a certain color, but the yarn I am using comes in 5 ounce skeins, I will need to buy two and will end up with an extra 4 ounces when I am done. As I have made a bunch of blankets, all with different colors, I have quite a few different colors sitting around taking up space. With some of the excess Baby Sport I had left over from Elizabeth's (my Godchild's) blanket, I started a baby blanket for another friend, but ran out of the color I was using. So, until I can go get more of the needed yarn, I began another afghan with the leftover colors from the last blanket I mage; it will go in the "nursery" after we paint it (the nursery will be painted, not the blanket.)

I was up late again playing D2. I love that game. I wonder what D3 will be like. :)

I realized that I have a very diverse bunch of hobbies: crochet, Karate and video games/computers. I suppose that no one will be able to typecast me, huh? :-D

Friday, September 20, 2002

Laid Off: Day Nine

I got off the island today by going to the noon Karate class. Having to be somewhere by a specific time is sometimes a nice thing.

Speaking of islands, Kendra and I watched our first episode of Survivor tonight. It is an interesting show and I can understand the hype, but I would never be drawn in. Although, the totally wrong person was voted off tonight. ;)

I made another contact today for possible jobs. After Karate class, I was chatting with one of the other guys in the locker room and he offered to take my resume. It will be really neat if the way I get a new job is through one of these new people I am contacting. It will make the process seem even more worthwhile. Although, it already is worth it to be able to have a network of friends with common intersts and jobs in the area.

I didn't hear back from my recruiter today, so I will probably give him a call tomorrow. I am curious if his Ann Arbor contact has asked around the local area for me yet.

I completed the blanket for Kendra's and my friend. It is always with mixed feelings that I finish these; although it is always nice to be done, it is almost an empty feeling to not have the comfort of working on it that had developed over the weeks and months it takes to make it. So, to fill the void, I have begun a new one. Also, it is nice to be able to watch tv and still feel productive. :)

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Laid Off: Day Eight

The guy from Best Buy fixed the TV with a magic wire in the shape of an "O" that he plugged into the wall and waved in a ritualistic fashion over the screen. Amazing!

The key to today is not when I got up (which was at 10am for those of you keeping track,) but instead when I went to bed. I was up until 3am, meaning that I am actually writing Day Eight during Day Nine. The reason I was up so late is that I wanted to finish the blanket I am making for a friend. Since it doesn't matter what time I get up, it really doesn't matter what time I go to bed, either.

Being unemployed is like being on a deserted island; you may have a watch, but the time is meaningless. And, although there are others around, you really are alone on the island. While everyone else goes off into the real world, you are stuck on the island, hunting and fishing for food and weaving leaves into huts. Well, maybe the similarity ends there. :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Laid Off: Day Seven

At 9:30am, I was already busy on the phone. I called Best Buy to see if the repair guy was coming, but apparently the service for the TV is scheduled for tomorrow. Nothing too serious, just a little screen burn in the lower right corner. Since we have a warranty, it is no problem at all.

After the Best Buy call, while still in bed, I received a call from my recruiter. He apologized for not returning my call yesterday; apparently, he has a bit of a head cold and was distracted. His plans for tomorrow include contacting his Ann Arbor recruiter and having him try to peddle me to the local companies. I would love it if I can get a local job. Driving two hours a day just for work gets old really quick.

I moved some stuff around the house. We are planning on painting the "nursery" (called that only because of its function to the previous owners) and I needed to get some of my junk out of that room. My old computer, which might be fun to have added to our little home network, needed to be moved. So, first I needed to clear space in our current study for the table to hold it, then I needed to move the table and remove the legs to fit it into the spot in the study. Then I needed to squeeze under the table to reassemble it. Finally, I got to move the computer onto it. So, the computer is moved, but the task took a lot longer and a lot more effort than expected. I still was able to clear most of the other junk out of the room, but I will need to finish that up tomorrow.

Kendra came home for lunch today. It was nice to have her company during lunchy. We even ate out on the deck; it was a beautiful day.

Later in the day, I got an email from good ol' Chuck. He passed my resume on to a coworker who works at another contracting company and told me I should expect to hear from them. That Chuck is a good guy.

Later on, after taking out the trash and recycling, Ryan and I had an opportunity to play a little D2. Not a ton, but enough to socialize with a pal. Killing stuff is always more fun with a friend. :-D

Laid Off: Day Six

Today was not as productful as I had hoped, but I did get some good things done.

Most notably, I went to the local job fair. Granted, since it was for all types of work, my options were pretty limited. However, I did give my resume to a couple of places that seemed to be worthwhile. It was disappointing, though, that I really didn't get an opportunity to really talk with anyone. I could have just sent my resume via email and saved myself some time.

I also took care of a couple things around the house, like having the pest control guy come spray for wasps. That's a good thing, right?

I called my recruiter, but I did not hear from him yet. He'll probably give me a call tomorrow (Tuesday.)

I received my letter of referral from Nexiq today. It is very flattering and I am pleased. Hopefully, it will assist in getting me hired elsewhere.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Laid Off: The Weekend

The good part about weekends, aside from the nice break they lend from the work week, is that they tend to be the same regardless of what is going on at work. In my case, there is no work, but the weekend remains the same. It was nice relaxing this weekend as I would any other, with my only concern being the poor play of the football teams around here.

Now that I am relaxed, I am looking forward to the coming week. There are a lot of potential opportunities to find a job and I am going to pursue them all with enthusiasm.

Monday, a local job fair is being run from 3-8pm. I just finished printing off a bunch of resumes and am excited about handing them out. Several of the places listed in the advertisement for the fair looked likely to be good matches for me. I suspect that additional places not mentioned will also be included.

I will also be giving a call to my recruiter to see what the status of his job hunt for me is. Hopefully he will have at least a couple of prospective places to discuss.

There are a lot of things I want to get done tomorrow. If I can finish them all, it will have been a very productive day.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Laid Off: Day Five

Today I was up and out of bed right at 10. I had woken up at 8, but kept going back to sleepy-land. I dealt with some things that needed to be taken care of at home via the phone and was doing fairly well. However, I hit a block when it came to going out to run a couple of chores. Although they were not complicated, I had a hard time getting myself to go do them. Hopefully it is just because I don't want to do them and not that I am becoming a psychotic shut-in. Hmmm...since I have not been having a problem leaving the house to do fun things (like going to Karate, I suspect that I just need to get motivated and do them. We shall see what happens on Monday.

It seems that my initial fear is proving to be correct; Jerry Springer was still not on at the regular time. :(

Not a whole lot on the job front, although I was pleased to get an email about my resume. My dad passed my resume along to his friend at work who gave it to a guy who does recruiting for a company in Southfield. I replied to his email and should hear back from him Monday. I'll also give my recruiter another call on Monday. Seems like a lot is going to be happening on Monday...

Later, when Kendra came home, we ran off to Sam's Club. I am always amazed at how so many mentally challenged individuals come together to annoy me at that store. How is it that everyone shopping there has a problem understanding that no one can get by if they stop their cart in the middle of the aisle? Well, at least we got some good deals on cheap food to make up for it. But, just be warned that you may have to deal with extreme pain and suffering for your good deals when you shop there.

Ryan and I played a little D2 after Kendra went to bed. It is nice to be able to do things that are normal to my routine since the whole job thing isn't there right now. It should be fun to go to the Tiger's game on Sunday with my brother and some of my friends, even though the Tiger's really suck. Social things are always good.

I'm not sure if I am going to include the weekend as part of my Laid Off count. So, Monday will likely be Day Six.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Laid Off: Day Four

This morning was a slight improvement over the past couple of days; I was able to get up around 10. Granted, I did stay in bed until 10:45 looking for Jerry Springer (I wonder if he is off the air in our area?) but at least I was conscious.

It is funny; I still feel that I will be going back to work at Nexiq any day, as if the lay off was only temporary. I suspect that it might be because I had just come back from vacation when I was laid off. It feels as if the vacation was just extended.

I didn't spend as much time as I would have liked applying for jobs today. It is hard to constantly focus on the same task all day, every day, especially when it is as mundane as searching for a job and sending out resumes. Although, it was nice to relax a little bit. I was able to watch some TV (G4, the video game network, is the coolest channel I have ever seen), fool around on the computer (Diablo 2 has been around for several years now, but is still a bunch of fun), and work on the blanket I am making for a friend. I also was able to feel useful by setting up a couple of appointments and calling people and such. Tomorrow, I should be refreshed and ready to devote myself to the job hunt again.

Tomorrow, I am thinking about running off to karate for either the noon or 3:30 class, just to see what the classes are like during the middle of the day. Actually, I could do all kinds of good stuff tomorrow if I time things right. If I get a decent start (around 8am,) I should be able to do job stuff until 11:25 am. Then, karate from 12:00 to 12:45. I could then stop by Lowe's to get the shades re-cut for the windows and also stop by Meijer to drop off cans/bottles and pick up milk and whatever else we need. There should still be time left to get another couple of hours in searching for a new job. That might be the best strategy, since it will get me out of the house and also break up the monotony of the job hunt.

I think I will check in with my recruiter again tomorrow to see if he is any closer to finding me a position.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Laid Off: Day Three

Had a hard time getting out of bed again today. Again, I was up around 11am. I think it has something to do with the changing seasons; as I recall, I always have a hard time getting out of bed around this time of year. To hopefully get more done, I am going to get up with Kendra tomorrow for some coffee. Later on, if I really need to, I can take a nap, but I think it is important to maintain some sort of schedule.

I filled out the forms needed to apply for jobs at U of M only to discover that I really didn't see any online that looked like they were a fit. What a frustrating waste of time. >:o

But, the good news was that I heard back from my recruiter. Tek Systems (formerly the Maxim Group) is a great company that finds both contracting and permanent positions. They are the ones who found me my last job and I suspect that they will be the ones to find me my next one. They guy I work with, Dave, is pleasant and professional. And, now that the Maxim Group has merged with their sister company, Tek Systems, the potential of finding a job closer to home is greatly improved. Yay! :-D

Not a whole lot to report today. Hopefully I will start hearing about potential jobs soon. I'll continue sending out resumes, as well. Tomorrow will be a good day.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Laid Off: Day Two

Well, my ambitious plan of getting up early today fell through. Although I didn't go to bed very late, I had a hard time getting my butt out of bed. Finally, I was able to get myself over to the shower around quarter to eleven. So, my plans of updating the resume before meeting with my friend for lunch had to be modified.

Lunch was at 11:45am at Damon's with an old friend from my first job at Cabletron Systems. Dave has actually moved on as well and now works for ProQuest, the same company where my wife works. Dave brought Kevin, another old Cabletron buddy, and we had a nice lunch. Apparently, Kevin is also looking for a new job, since he was laid off from Avail Networks (the local branch which was formerly owned by Cabletron.) It was fun seeing the old gang and talking about old times.

Then, it was back home to work on the resume. After reading through parts of the "Complete Idiot's" guide, I realized that I was doing many things incorrectly with my resume. I have completely updated it and I feel much more comfortable about it. After finishing the updates, a copy was sent to my friends, my recruiter and another friend who left Nexiq a while back who has a couple of contacts.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. I will be running over to Wolverine Towers like I was planning on doing today to drop off the paperwork and a couple copies of my resume. There are a couple of other sources that I need to get in contact with who may be able to help. Then, the fun part; I will need to actually start posting the resume at various places as well as tailoring it and sending it directly to companies for review. That has always been a pain in the past, but I am hoping that it will not be too troublesome without having a pesky job getting in the way of my job search. :-D

Actually, I am already starting to miss my co-workers. The work was ho-hum and sometimes outright boring, but I got along fairly well with everyone and it is kinda sad that most of these people that I have seen nearly every day for the past year and a half will likely never be seen again.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Laid Off: Day One

Well, the job hunt begins. I had been contemplating looking for a new job for a while, and now I finally have the stimulus needed to get me started.

Today at work was like any other. It was the first day back from a week long vacation I had took. We had not done much during the vacation, except relax which is really the whole point of vacations, so I was ready to be back and I didn't mind being back at work too much.

Around 11:00am, the Engineering Manager (my old boss who had been promoted and was in charge of my current boss) came by my cube and asked if he could see me for a moment. I could tell he was not pleased with the information he was going to deliver, but I was not yet aware exactly what was going to happen. When I arrived at a room full of people, I wondered who had been let go this time (we had been gathered into this room before to hear the bad news about who had been let go and why.) However, I noticed that several people in the room seemed distraught and that the Engineering Manager asked if he needed to stay (he looked really uncomfortable and near tears.) When I noticed that the Director of Human Resources was there, and was also fighting back tears, it wasn't hard to figure out what was going on.

What I found disturbing is who I saw in that room with me. The people in the room with me were hardware and software engineers, with a QA guy and a technical writer. It is never a good sign when a company has to let go of the people directly responsible for the products that produce the income for the company. Also, the new project that I was working on is going to suffer greatly not only because I'm gone, but also because there were at least three others in the room with me who were also working on it. As I am no longer working there, I try not to care, but that project (remote diagnostics of vehicles either over a regular network or, even more exciting, a wireless network) was so cool and it can really turn the company around if it is successful that it is disturbing that the remaining members of the team are now going to struggle to complete it.

A total of 34 people were laid off, from both the Michigan and Iowa offices. The reasoning was because of a mandate from the investors. If only they realized what an effect it was going to potentially have on their returns, they might have reconsidered. At any rate, I cannot fault my ex-employer, as the choice of eliminating a portion of the company is much preferred to the elimination of the entire staff.

Anyways, after they gave us the document they wanted us to sign to accept our severance package, we were given boxes and sent back to our cubes to pack. Everyone else must have been in one of the meetings I described earlier, hearing about the bad news; no one was around while we were packing up our stuff.

Everyone we interacted with seemed to have a grimness about them. I wonder if it is perhaps worse for the people remaining? My end at Nexiq is really a new beginning elsewhere and this will all be forgotten. However, the people who remain behind take a huge hit to morale; each person wonders if he or she is the next to go. And, even if everyone else stays, the memory of those who have been laid off will continue to haunt the company.

First thing out in the car, I called the recruiter who found me the position at Nexiq to let him know I was currently back in the market. Then, I told K. Next, I went over to my mom's place (since she lives near work) and shared the news with her. I read the document provided, signed it and then took it back (I had also forgotten to take my lunch out of the fridge at work; funny thing is this was the first time in months that I had actually packed a lunch. Heh.) Mom and I ate at Chilli's. It was yummy.

Then, back in the car and a drive back home. I made a couple more phone calls to make friends and family aware of my new status. I stopped by Wolverine Towers to pick up the paperwork necessary to apply for jobs at U of M. I'll fill those out tomorrow morning and take them in before I meet with a friend for lunch.

After getting the paperwork, I stopped by to see Kendra on the way home. She took it very well and has been encouraging.

Back at home, I received a couple of emails and got a phone call from my ex-boss. He is a really cool guy; we would discuss GTA3 on a daily basis. I also picked up a new book from Borders, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume, Second Edition." I have been looking through it a bit and I have realized that my current resume is really lacking. I intend to go through it tomorrow and update my resume. Then, when I receive the letter of referral from my ex-employer, I will send that along with the resume to my friends and as many companies as I can find.

I have had a pretty upbeat attitude about this the whole time. My daily commute to Sterling Heights (over 60 miles each way) was wearing me down. This additional time at home will be nice, even if I have to spend all my time looking for a new job. And, hopefully, that new job will be much closer and perhaps even in town.

Friday, May 17, 2002


Grade: A

Movie Time: 8:00pm on Thursday, May 16, 2002

Location: AMC Forum 30

Viewed with: David and Jennifer Stampor

There have been a multitude of superhero movies; some are good, some are bad. With a majority of them, the story differs in varying degrees from the original comic. Often this can ruin part of the enjoyment of seeing a favorite hero on the screen. I can happily state that this was not the case with Spider-Man. Although some things have changed, I consider them to be improvements on the original and really aren't essential details of the story.

This was a good superhero action movie. The special effects were decent, even though there were a couple of scenes that did not look quite right (i.e. the inital rooftop scenes.) The story flowed and kept up with the times (i.e. Spider-Man's origin) while still remaining true to the original comic's tale.

Another positive was the darker, more mature theme of the movie, "with great power comes great responsibility." Instead of ruining the movie by making it showy and stupid for kids (like a few certain movies involving a caped crusader,) it focused on the dilemas that a person with such powers would likely face. Additionally, everything doesn't fall into place like one would expect of a sappy movie.

My Review: Grade A :Go see it in the theatre; definately worth the time.

Monday, April 01, 2002

I've added some additional smileys that can now be used on the site. All available smileys are listed below:

: - D == :-D
: ) == :)
: ( == :(
; ) == ;)
8 - ) == 8-)
: ' ( == :'(
> : o == >:o
= - O == =-O
: - P == :-P
: - \ == :-\

Also, you can still use <NEW> to display if you desire.

Any requests for additional icons will be considered.

I also added a new links section to the website containing a handfull of links, most of which I visit daily.

PS -- April Fools sucks when it comes to finding reliable news updates on the web. >:o

Sunday, February 24, 2002

Well, not a lot has been going on with the site. I'll need to investigate the issue with the counter. Not sure what caused it to reset, but I am guessing it had something to do with multiple users accessing the page at the same time. A good site for information about PHP is PHP The forums are constantly monitored and the advice is elaborate.

What a pain in the ass it was this weekend trying to get the laptop to be able to access the internet via the desktop. What I decided to do instead of simply buying a cablemodem/dsl router-hub was to install a second NIC into my desktop and buy a back-to-back (or crossover) cable to connect the laptop to the second card. Well, I couldn't get it to work. I know a couple of people who might have some suggestions regarding this, so I still might be able to get it to work. Although, it might be more convenient to have the ability to add addtional computers to the network with little difficulty. I wonder if I am missing a step, or if Win98 (desktop) and Win XP (laptop) have problems communicating?

I was surprised that a couple of people signed the guestbook this weekend. One of them I knew, the other I didn't recognize. I'll have to investigate where she found my site listed. I suspect somewhere at

How sad. The US lost the Gold. But, if I had to pick a country other than the US to win, it would have been Canada; they are a neat bunch of folks. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Added happy little New icon and ability to be replace text with image by using <NEW>. It is case sensitive.
Updated the choose style page. Now you can decide which page, either The Daily Monkey, or the Silly Monkeys, you would like to be the default.

I should have a lot of time to update the site this weekend. I really don't have a lot of other things planned.

Ryan and I had a good time with D2 tonight. If anyone else has D2X and would like to join us in a game, email us; we'd be thrilled to have another along.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Kendra and I watched Scary Movie 2 tonight. It was one of the worst movies we have seen in a long time. We were both really disappointed, since we like the original.

And, that was about the most exciting part of the evening. At least Ryan got ice cream and beer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Ouchy! I way over-did the workout on Monday! My arms are so sore that I can barely bend them! I guess I should be a little more careful when first starting working out again. :(

On a happier note, I have updated the counter so that the error where it would not display the number of hits the first time to the page has been fixed. Additionally, the value is incremented if the page is viewed by someone else while you are at the page; before it would remain the number that you first saw for the entire duration of your time on the web, regardless of how many would come and go. :-D

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Worked out two days in a row! It is almost a personal best! :-D

I have updated the counter so that it will only update once per session. If you want to see it increment now, you will need to close down your browser and restart it. Great. Good job. Was it worth it? :-D

Monday, February 11, 2002

For the first time in a long while, I actually worked out today. It is amazing how quickly I felt the effects as I was working out. I am certain I will be sore tomorrow, but it is all good. :)

As you can probably tell, I have added a counter to the site. In its current state, it is pretty simplistic; every time you refresh the page will count as a hit. All I had to do was fiddle with permissions for the counter file to get it to work, since I had already written the script several days ago. I'll spend some time and adapt the script to handle multiple counters and also disallow refreshes as counting toward the totals.

Although it may seem trivial, the counter is the first step in creating many wonderous marvels here. :-D It makes use of reading and writing to a file, and knowing how to do that opens a world of possibilities. For instance, I have noticed that Blogger is becoming busier; I had a hard time actually logging onto the site to post this because of the heavy traffic. Thus, it may be possible to replace Blogger with my own Blog script. I'll probably start by replacing the html-gear I have with my own guestbook script and poll script, although you can feel free to continue to create and post any polls you want from html-gear.

I love PHP. :-D

Sunday, February 10, 2002

Kendra and I had a good time tonight. We went to dinner with Court and Dave at Camp Ticondaroga. Good food and very large portions. After dinner, we all hung out at Border's for awhile.

The neat part is that I am going to be the baby's godfather! :-D Hopefully that little bugger will come out soon.

Saturday, February 09, 2002

I didn't even think about the website last night; too busy watching the Olympic's opening ceremony and then playing Diablo II with Ryan.

I probably won't do much tonight, either. Kendra and I are going to dinner with Courtenay and Dave. That is, of course, unless she decides to give birth instead. If that happens, I imagine it would become a very interesting evening.

Thursday, February 07, 2002

Kung Pow: Enter the Fist was hilarious! The previews made it look like it could go either way, but rest of the theater and I were dying. I highly recommend it. The way they did stuff made me think of the old Woody Allen movie, "What's up, Tigerlily?"

Not enough time to work on any new stuff tonight. I should have time this weekend to fool around with my site.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Red Wings rock. :-D

Tonight I added the Shakespearean Insult generater and added it to automatically display when the page is reloaded. Give it a try.

I know that this has been done before and if you do a search of the web you can find a bunch of such insulting scripts. However, back in the day when I had the "Domain of the Andyman" hosted at umich, I had received the Shakespeare insult email and immediately decided it would be a good perl script. So, although it really isn't original, I was one of the original implementors of such a script, so it is kinda original. Hmm... At any rate, it was very easy to write in PHP. In fact, some of the built in functions of PHP make me wonder if it was designed with the thought of creating such a script.

Some other things I have been working on is a third template option. This one displays my two blogs side by side in the old school format. I have some addtional tinkering I need to do, but I should get that up tomorrow.

I also have been fooling around with writing a counter script. The way it should work isn't too complicated, and it was very easy to write. The difficulty I am facing is that the script does not have the necessary rights to create or edit a file. There might be something I'm missing, but I need to investigate further.

If anyone has any suggestions for neato things they would like to see here, please post at the Damn Dirty Apes (aka Silly Monkeys). I will be sure to promptly ridicule your suggestion and make you feel dumb. :-D
Kendra and I went to see "Mamma Mia," the play with the music of ABBA. It was a lot of fun and very interesting; they did a good job of working the songs into the play in a meaningful way. I give it my approval. :) Only down side was that the seats in the Masonic Temple are the most uncomfortable I have ever encountered.

I have made some corrections to my scripts so that they work better. I also cleaned up the scripts and set the groundwork for addtional features. Unless you are really observant, you will not notice any of these changes. You'll just have to trust me when I say that they're there. :-D

Monday, February 04, 2002

Since I love my honey, and she preferred the original name of The Damn, Dirty Apes, I have created an option under Choose Style that will allow you to select the name you prefer for the Silly Monkey/Damn Dirty Apes blog.

I love you, Kendra. :-D

In doing so, I needed to make a couple of additional changes that will make it easier to adapt additional features onto the site. Most of these changes will not be visible to the user, since the change really just breaks the visible webpage up into several smaller components which are then easy to rearrange without a lot of duplicated effort.
I have been working on my site a lot lately. It is just a lot of fun. Kendra has been saying that if I put forth the kind of effort I have been on developing this site into everything I do, I would be a dynamo of efficiency. I guess it all depends on how you look at it. I really enjoy playing around with stuff here, so it doesn't feel like work at all. I guess if I could "find the fun" in stuff, like Mary Poppins said, stuff I have to do wouldn't be so bad. Hmmm....

At any rate, the latest item developed for the site is my implementation of smileys. Right now, you can use :), :-D, and :( by typing in : ), : - D and : ( respectively. (Without the spaces.) I wrote a nifty little script that searches for those items and replaces it with images. Try it out; it is nifty. :-D

Saturday, February 02, 2002

It's been quiet around here lately so I have been playing around with the layout. PHP is a really powerful scripting option for the web. I have enabled cookies and now you now have an option as to which style you would like applied to this site. Currently, there are only two, but if you see a setup elsewhere on the web you like, I could easily add a third option.

Friday, February 01, 2002

I have discovered a fun online game called Sanctum. It is a "collectable card game" in the tradition of Magic: the Gathering, but done entirely online. Free to play, and a free deck of 60 cards is enough to check it out. No limit on amount of play, so feel free to take a look. You can find me under my handle, "A-Feeble-Mind".

Monday, January 28, 2002

Happy Hosting

I now am hosting at Thus, I have a greater limit than the 10 meg that I had at my mediaone default account. And, for $5 a month, I figured it wouldn't break the bank.

It should have been an easy task, but it took forever to get everything looking properly at the new site. Hurts my head. At least all is well, for now.

This site is now the default page. To get to the Silly Monkeys, use the link on the left.

Saturday, January 26, 2002

The Return of the Monkey

Well, it has been a long time, but I am back at it. Although it is likely that I will be the only one to visit this site frequently, I am planning on actually making it true to its name. Namely, I am going to add monkeys here. Errr...or update it daily. I can't rememeber what I thought initially.

Adventures in Cyberspace, old school style

The other day, I found a link at one of my favorite sites to another site that has a bunch of interesting links. had a link to a site that has a game based on the light cycles from the movie Tron.Long story short: this game rocks! It is true to the movie and is fun to play.

I remember desperately wanting to play the light cycle game from the movie as a child. It was too bad that it didn't really exist as it did in the movie. Now, with the addons, it is really like you are part of the movie. Without the addons, the game is pretty easy against the computer. I'd be interested in joining up with some of my buddies and playing this together online. Check it out for yourself.

Damn Silly

Kendra has suggested that she is tired of the "new" title of the Silly Monkeys. Let's have a poll....

If you choose "Other" post your suggestion after voting on the voting page.

Deals at Sams

Kendra and I went to Sams the other day. They have great deals, but a lot of their items are stuff that you would not normally get, as flavors are limited. For example, we got a good deal on some popcorn, but we're not sure we really want to eat it....

Things to come

Neato things will be happening soon. I must resist speaking of it now; I don't want to ruin the surprise.