Tales From The Ipe!

I sit by and watch the river flow. I sit by and watch the traffic go.

I passed my CRISC exam!

It’s been a long 10 weeks since I took the CRISC exam on June 4. I don’t understand it. The exam was a Scantron exam with all the bubbles, so it was certainly a machine-scored exam. ISACA says it takes up to 5 weeks to score the exam using a 200-800 point scale, blah blah. See below:

ISACA uses a 200-800 point scale with 450 as the passing mark for the exams. A scaled score is a conversion of the raw score on an exam to a common scale. It is important to note that the exam score is not based on an arithmetic or percent average. For example, the scaled score of 800 represents a perfect score with all questions answered correctly; a scaled score of 200 is the lowest score possible and signifies that only a small number of questions were answered correctly.

A candidate must receive a scaled score of 450 or higher to pass the exam. A score of 450 represents a minimum consistent standard of knowledge as established for the exam by the respective ISACA Certification Working Group. The passing score of 450 represents the minimum number of questions that must be answered correctly by the candidate in order to demonstrate practical application of the job task and knowledge statements. A candidate receiving a passing score may then apply for certification if all other requirements are met.


Every week since the exam, I’ve been dreading the results. Kicking myself for not studying more, or taking more practice questions. Fool. Hundreds of dollars to register for that exam, you know, and all potentially all wasted.

With all that complicated scoring, it took them 10 weeks to send me my ‘Notice of Exam Results’.  When I  received the letter on August 15, I opened it with dread. Color me shocked when I read the results below.

Not only did I pass, I did really well. Heck, I was in the top 5% of everyone who tested that day. I was speechless.

So it feels good. Some vindication that my mind hasn’t fossilized or atrophied that much yet. The next steps are to complete the application for certification, get verification from old colleagues/managers, and submit the paperwork to ISACA.

Wow, I am still stunned.

I sure am having a lot of bad luck driving into Newark

wp-image-760095873jpg.jpgJuly 18th. Driving out of Newark again after a long day in the office.  I hit a  huge bump in the road, and lights go off in the dashboard with beeping. See below. I mean, it’s been a little over a week since my last flat tire in Newark. I couldn’t have multiple flat tires, could I?

I still don’t know what happened exactly, but something bad happened. Luckily, I didn’t have to change a tire that evening on a Newark side street. I was able to limp home at a slow speed down the NJ Turnpike, and yes, had to have the rear right tire replaced. Total cost of replacement tires this month, because of Newark NJ? $500.

And that, my friends, is why I’m not driving into Newark anymore. I’m done.

Joel’s Review of Me Before You (2016)

wp-image-730166959jpg.jpgIt’s been a while since we’ve gone out to see a film, but we had chance on July 17. The kids were away, and we had date night. Namita had recently finished reading Me Before You, and the Hollywood film version of it would soon be out of theaters. We decided to go watch the film at the  dinky little (and really run down) Digiplex Cranford 5, a Carmike Cinemas theater in Cranford NJ, Seriously, the theater was a bit of a dump. Small in size, but lots of broken seats and not very clean. You get what you pay for.

In any case, the film was decent. Starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Clafin, it’s about a rich man who becomes a quadriplegic during a freak accident. Emilia Clarke’s character is a young woman who becomes his caretaker. He’s a jerk, she’s got the quirky heart of gold. He’s a jerk to her, and she works hard to break through his defensive shell. Look at the movie poster — you know there’s romance a comin’. I’m not spoiling anything here.

Afterwards, we grabbed dinner at Ambeli, a Greek restaurant in town, which we were lucky about, as most places were closing for the night. We ate outside, and the food was really good. The management was extremely nice — one side we ordered wasn’t very good, and they ended up comping us the side, and gave us two free desserts. Extremely nice restaurant staff.

Me Before You (2016)

Me Before You (2016)

We had a backyard camp-out on July 10th

You know, a lot of people talk about braving the wilderness, but we Ipes actually do it. We’re not afraid of braving the wild outdoors and camping out in our backyard. No, sir.

The kids (mostly Lily) had expressed this huge wish to go camping in the backyard. We had the tent and the free time this June, so how could I say now. Namita was gone on a business trip, so we set up the tent on a Sunday afternoon with little muss or fuss (it’s actually quite easy), went to the neighbors house for a BBQ and to hang out in their pool, then we went back home to camp out. We didn’t get to do all the cool stuff like eating ribs by a fire, but maybe next time.

July 6 flat tire

Stupid Newark, NJ.

Every so often, when I’ve had early morning meetings this month, I’ve been driving into Newark to park, then take the PATH train into the city. I started doing this a few months ago when I had 1st-2nd-3rd-round interviews in Manhattan, and I got into the habit of the convenience and comfort factor.

Driving to the parking lot, I rolled down my window to hear a very audible and ominous hissing sound. Yeah, it’s gotta be me. With no time to spare (I had an early morning meeting), I left my car with a flat tire in the lot and jetted for Newark Penn Station.

In the evening, I had to call AAA to help me change out the tire. I was in a suit, and it was way too hot in July for me to sweat it out like that. I should have taken a picture, but there were seven nails in the tired. Seven. Unbelievable. It ended up costing me about $250 for a new replacement tire.



In the spirit of getting things done, we had the exterior of our house painted

Guess what, kids? We decided to get the house exterior painted. That’s right. We decided that we did not want to wait 10 more years to freshen up the house. We used to have these faded red shutters, and off-white / yellow trim all along the house. It felt dated. It looked a little worn. We didn’t want to be those people, so we got some quotes, and then supported one of our local businesses to come paint the house. We decided to paint all of the shutters and front door black, paint the trim bright white, and repaint the garage doors and bay window white as well. We think it looks snazzy.

How the Ipes spent Father’s Day this year in Asbury Park

20160619-20160619_092333Happy Father’s Day.

The Ipes spent a fun-filled Father’s Day together today, and I could not have been much happier.  Our plans were to  open presents, and then make for Asbury Park. For many years, I’ve expressed an interest in spending a day in Asbury Park. I’ve biked a few times through Asbury, and it seemed so interesting that it warranted a deeper look. We planned to hit up a food truck for lunch, hit a spray park, blow some glass, maybe visit the Silverball Museum, and have dinner somewhere in town.

20160619-20160619_142300The kids (and Namita) were nice enough to get me a very cool present — a brand new Sony PlayStation 4 (the Uncharted 4 edition). Although I would have loved to stay home to play Nathan Drake’s latest adventure, we were off to Asbury Park. We found the boardwalk, and ate MOGO Korean Fusion tacos from their food truck. We then took the kids to this Asbury Park Splash Park. It’s not large by any means, but the kids had been dying to get wet. After they ran around for a while, we got them ice cream on cones to sit and enjoy.

After all the ice cream, the kids changed in the car, and we drove over to Hot Sand a few blocks away. Basically, you can either take a class, or “walk in”. As walk-ins, you pick what you want to create, pick the colors, etc. We spent a small fortune to experience blowing our own glass under heavy supervision. Nums and I made glassware, Josh made a glass apple, and Lily made a hand print. All cool, but wow, expensive.

We wouldn’t be able to pick up our stuff for another week, so we paid for everything, then took a walk around the neighborhood. We walked around and make our way to an early dinner at Moonstruck. It’s a 3 or 4 floor restaurant right along the river. Let me tell you, if you have a chance, go eat at Moonstruck. Amazing food, great drinks at the bar, and the service is damn attentive.

And that was our day in Asbury Park. Nice little town that’s up and coming, and experiencing a revival.

Attending a Trenton Thunder game with the church folks on June 18 2016

I helped organize a church outing this year (2nd year in a row?) to Arm & Hammer Park to see the Trenton Thunder play. It was a beautiful Saturday evening game, and we got to experience the fireworks afterwards. The only hiccup was the ridiculous traffic getting out of the parking garage, but sometimes you have to simply grin and bear it. Glad lots of folks were able to come out and spend time with each other.

Josh’s 5th Grade / Elementary School Graduation

Our boy is growing up. On June 17th, Josh finished fifth grade, and officially graduated from elementary school. The school held a graduation ceremony for all of the fifth graders, complete with singing and a graduation ceremony. It was all very nice. Afterwards, we took some pictures with his fifth grade teacher, some more photos outside, then went to lunch on our own at a local restaurant. Afterwards, we met up with a few other families at Working Dog Winery to enjoy the good weather.

Taking the June 4 CRISC exam

You know how when the date for some big presentation or test is slowing approaching, you start getting nervous? When it’s months away,  you go, “Eh, I’ll be fine. I’ll prep tomorrow.” As the date gets closer, “It’s almost here, but I have one more thing to do, then I’ll prep.” Then it’s the week before, and you’re considering buying one way tickets to Yemen. No? That’s never happened to you? Oh, must have been me then.

Screw you.

Way back in 2002, I was out of work, and desperately looking for a new job. I signed up, studied, took ISACA’s Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) exam, and passed it! That led me to a storied career in IT auditing. Storied, fabled, legendary, you get the drift. Starting in 2006, I had these glorious dreams to take and pass the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam. I took a week-long class, bought the books, got busy with work and family life, and also got totally intimidated by the exam. It’s 10 domains, each one harder than the last. I ended up procrastinating out of fear for years. I have friends and colleagues who were accumulating industry certifications, and I was slowly falling behind. You don’t want to be the 40+ year old guy carrying around one basic certification that he earned 14 years earlier. I mean, what have you been doing with your life?  I know I’ve been busy, but people across the desk from you won’t care.

This year, I decided to put up or shut up. I would get a new certification. I had to do it. However, I decided maybe I didn’t want to start off with an extremely difficult exam and set myself up for failure. Why not ease into this slowly with a quick-win? I looked at my options, and signed up in January 2016 for ISACA’s Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) exam. This was a risk professional focused certification, which I figured would be handy if/when I made my move back to Risk Management. I signed up for the June 4 2016 exam in Woodbridge, NJ.

Of course, I procrastinated more than I had to between January – June 4.  I did download the exam book to my iPad, and I generally read for 30 minutes on the train. In that time, I spent long nights at the office trying to save my job, experienced first hand as my entire team was “restructured” right out of our jobs, and went job hunting from March to May. Crazy times. Let’s step back and look at the irony of this — in 2002 I was seriously studying for an exam while looking for work. Now, in 2016, I was again out of work, and seriously studying for an exam. Go figure.

This last week of May into June, I’ve been studying crazy, and taking practice exams. I should have finished the material sooner, and started taking the practice exam questions sooner too.

I took the exam this past Saturday June 4th, and I think it went well. I was at the hotel / testing center in Woodbridge with plenty of time. The exam was much harder than I thought, as the questions were structured differently than the ones in my practice book. For many of the questions, two questions were obviously wrong, while the two remaining questions  were nearly the same. That becomes very frustrating over the course of 4 hours. In the end, I’m glad to say that I managed my time well, finished transcribing all of my questions just before time was up. Afterwards, I left the site without any idea of how I did, and I wouldn’t know for 5-6 long weeks as they manually scored each exam. On the way home, I stopped at a nearby Sonic for comfort food, then went home to chill out and decompress.

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