Main > Joel's June 2006 News

.:Picture of the Day:.


Friday, June 30th 2006

I feel that this month went by very fast. Did it go by too fast, or is it just me? One crazy, hectic month. I'm really tired too. We saw our old minister Pam last weekend -- the first time since we moved to central NJ. She wanted to know if I was still staying up late at night. I looked at her extremely befuddled. It's funny how your life can change in only a fe months. Nowadays, I can't imagine staying up all night for fun. I mean, I'd like to, but these days, I'm just too tired. Once in a while, I stay up late doing work, or because we're cleaning the house before a lot of people come over, or if we're packing for a trip. Otherwise, I'm asleep within 60 seconds of placing my head on the pillow.

Work is good otherwise. I've got a tentative plan on my travel schedule the rest of this year and 2007. I'll be in Toronto, Chicago, and possibly on a review in London for two weeks. Sometimes this stuff doesn't pan out, but I really hope London works out. I really want to visit England. And you know I'm going to have to take a train ride through the Chunnel to France on the weekend. :)

I took Missy to the vet yesterday to get her annual rabies and feline distemper vaccinations, and for an annual checkup. $168 later, my cat is still crabby. Are there better pets out there that don't cost so much? Crickets maybe?

My friend Doug is a realtor, and he had a NYC police officer recently as a client. The NYC cop was telling Doug that the NYPD recently hired two..... "little people" to join the force. I'm all about equal opportunity, but seeing them walking the beat at 11pm in Brooklyn is going to be odd.

Happy 4th of July!


Tuesday, June 27th 2006

Folks, my workload is looking up. I've nearly finished business monitoring for my two audit entities, and I even completed my remaining web-based writing course today. If my manager approves my business monitoring work, then all I have left to finish this week is......mmmmm......... my expense report, my performance goals, and maybe some corrective action plan validations. And boy are my arms tired. [I don't think that joke works here.]


Monday, June 26th 2006


This is just one of those months, I suppose. I'd wish that this month would end already, but then that would mean the umpteen things that are due June 30th would be all late. And Mr. Top Performer here can't let happen. I just got reminded that I need to finish an online writing course and get my performance review goals into an online system. I may just skip sleeping this week. And my expense report. And complete business monitoring for my two entities. I wouldn't worry so much, except I want to take off Friday! I'm taking off next week though. I'm looking forward to cleaning up this place.

I got a new cell phone today. Although the nearby Verizon Wireless store salespersons shot me down about upgrading early [see last Sunday's entry], my wife suggested I call the main customer service line, as they're supposedly nicer. I called, and although they couldn't do anything, the rep suggested I call various stores, and see if the manager would make an exception for me.

First store I called? The one that laughed in my face. I got the assistant store manager to agree to upgrade me, and even though the evening manager was a bit pissed that I got the deal, she let me do it anyway. I checked out the Motorola Q and the Motorola Razr, but wasn't terribly impressed with either. The Q was difficult to type, and had a smaller screen than I wanted. I just didn't like the Razr all that much for text messaging. I chose the Motorola E815, which is an updated version of my old V710. Nicer cameraphone too.

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The E815
The Q
The Razr

I tried to use my Motorola Mobile Phone Tools software, but it seems my edition is only version 2, which I purchased in Sept 2004, and it doesn't work with this model. Nor can I download updates. My only recourse is to buy the current version 4 of the software. My wife has said an emphatic "No!" for now. Something about us not being made of money, I don't know.

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Diet Coke and Mentos video

I guess we'll wait on it. I may be forced to [gulp] add numbers manually. Eww. That makes me sick just thinking about it. The software states you can transfer MP3s and photos between PC and phone, but they say some wireless carriers may not support that feature. Hmmmm, and when do I find out? After I paid $30? It stinks.

Have you seen the Diet Coke and Mentos video from the people at I love it. I like the music too.

Whoa! I've found preview footage of Spiderman 3. Special effects look a little raw, but "Yes, Virginia, there is a Venom."


Sunday, June 18th 2006

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My 2nd Father's Day
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I'm both happy and reflective @ TGI Friday

This month has been rather tumultuous for the Ipes, good and bad, but I'm not comfortable talking about all the bad, so I'll focus on the good news, and some of the bad.

Good News

1. I'm very relieved that I don't have to get back on a plane later today. I don't have to pack a suitcase, catch a flight, or leave my home. I'm done with the Planning phase of my audit, and we did pretty well. Lots accomplished, but I'm very tired. As a Lead, you're supposed to just work on administrative tasks, but since there was only 3 of us, I jumped in for a few sections (Change Managment, Facilities Mgmt, Capacity Planning, etc), so that took a bit of my time. I'm somewhat behind in my own tasks, but it's manageable. Overall, we got a lot accomplished according to the original plan. So, that's good. We're back in August.

I'm out on Monday, but I'm focusing on business monitoring work for my two audit entities before the June 30th deadline. I'll tell you one stressful thing about my job -- deadlines. I know, I know, everyone has deadlines, but this is the first job where the deadlines are "Do or die." My last two jobs weren't like this. Anything "Due Friday" could wait until Monday. Not here. If you miss a deadline, it gets ticked off on some management metric report, and ends up on someone's desk. With your name on it. And maybe the name of your boss. Trust me, your boss doesn't appreciate being on a report, because of something YOU did wrong.

2. Someone in my family has good news, but I won't announce it until probably next week. No, it's not that. I don't mean this branch of the Ipes either. Relax, I'll let you know.

3. Someone I know has good news, but I'm not allowed to talk about that either. I'll keep you posted.

4. My in-laws closed on their new house, and we had a small prayer at their new home last night. They'll be moved in at the end of this month, and only 15 minutes away.

5. I saved my certification [see last Saturday's blog entry], but it wasn't looking good for a while. I had called the ISACA office in Illinois on Monday, and left a voicemail for the main person in the Certification dept at 8am. I didn't hear back from them all day, so I called again at 5pm, and got someone else. I explained my plight, but they said they couldn't do anything for me. I have to have a minimum of 20 CPE credits annually, which I technically didn't. Nor did I have a time machine to go back in time, and take courses in 2005. I did have something like 57 credits in 2004, some 15 hours of internal courses with my then-new employer in 2005, but nothing that says specifically CPE credits earned.

Friday morning, some odd 847 number shows up on the CallerID on the phone, and it's the head certification person. She apologized for getting back to me so late (Monday -> now Friday). Anyway, as she looks at my records, I explain that I have 50+ credits in 2004, 15 credits (shut up -- they might be equivalent), and I'm probably going to have 40-50 credits this year. (I'm working on a 36 credit UNIX web-based training class right now.)

"I hate to lose my certification over 5 credits." [cue the shrug and sad puppy dog face]

You know what she does? She allows me to borrow 5 credits from this year. I was shocked. SHOCKED! I thanked her profusely. My CISA certification is saved. For now.

Some of the Bad News

1. My cell phone is dead. It's been acting up for the past two weeks, and I took it to the Verizon folks nearby. I have the insurance plan ($5/month), and their "New Every Two" program gets me a $100 credit towards a new phone in July. I asked Verizon Technical Support what to do, but the insurance plan will only get me another v710 (nothing newer/better) after I pay a $50 deductible. The Sales dept says I have to wait until July 8th to get the new phone credit. They recommended that the "best thing to do" is to pay $50 to fix it, and buy another phone in two weeks. The "best thing to do"? It sounds like the dumbest thing to do. $50 to fix a phone I'm going to toss out in two weeks.

Well, now it's not charging anymore, and it has a tendency to turn on and off by itself. I may be landlocked for awhile. I hope you know how to reach me. I may dump the insurance plan if it's going to cost me $50, on top of spending $5 every month anyway.

2. Friday night, a few of us met up at our friend Teena's apartment to help her pack. You see, on Monday, she's moving to Chicago for an exciting new chapter of her career. I had the car service driver (who turned out to be a crazy Chinese man with extremely poor driving skills) take me to Woodbridge instead to meet at her apartment. We ate, the women packed, and I kept my kid out of the moving boxes.

Good luck in Chicago, Teena. The Ipes will miss you.

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Saturday, June 10th 2006

I have survived my first week leading, with no visible bruises. It went pretty well, except the flights to and fro. Delayed last Sunday on the way to Toronto, and delayed on the way home last night. That's to be expected, I suppose. I'm glad I have a good team with me for Planning, and we accomplished a lot. I'm sending my manager in NJ daily status reports, and I keep asking if there's anything he can recommend, and he just says, "No", very matter-of-factly. Knowing him, I really don't know if that's good or bad. The two guys with me are experienced, so we're planning strategy every day together. That's been a big boon, as they're helping me figure out the best way to handle stuff as it comes up.

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Where am I going today?
Where I'm staying: The Intercontinental
This is Bert, the spider outside our conference room window
We have great views of the city
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Great looking church
The CN Tower at midday
I forget
The CN Tower at dusk
Soho hotel - I liked the style
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Toronto has streetcars
I also forget
Trying out the nighttime feature on our new camera
Works well, but I could use a tripod
Nice building

We have one more week next week, then we're back in NJ the following week. The actual fieldwork doesn't start until August, which is when we do the actual testwork, write up findings (if any). That's when the fun begins.

I'm so irritated with managing CPEs (Continuing Professional Education credits). You'd think it'd be easy. I thought it was. I just got an email from ISACA, from whom I am accredited with being a CISA. I was just so busy last year, I never attended any training classes. The one class I requested for, well, the request disappeared in a black hole on somebody's desk. I digress. Having a certification, like the CISA, means you have to maintain it with a certain number of CPEs annually, i.e. take classes, get CPE credits, or you lose your certification. Guessed what's going on yet? I got an email from ISACA that is threatening that I will lose my CISA certification if I don't show that I've taken at least 20 hours of training last year. The email says I until June 30th. Nice, right?

I don't think it truly matters if I've taken classes in one particular year or not, but I know I need 120 credits in 3 years. I'm going to call them on Monday to find out. Although I can't attend any classes physically before the end of the month, I can take web-based training. I started a UNIX Fundamentals course last night, and that's 36 hours (worth 36 CPE credits). I figure 2-3 hours a night max for the next two weeks may do it for me. I hope.

Well, it's good to be home, regardless of bad news. I have a 8:10pm flight Sunday night, so I aim to make the best of my 48 hours in NJ.


Sunday, June 4th 2006

I'm leaving in a few hours for Toronto. Wish me luck on my first week.


Thursday, June 1st 2006

It's June. I'm thankful for the nice weather, but now it's too hot in the house. We tried the central air on Sunday evening, but 1 hour later, it was still 82 degrees. Hmmmmmmm. We had to call in a HVAC guy to check out the central air unit on Tuesday. Some part had burned out, and set us back a bit to replace the part. Ah, the life of homeowner. At least it's nice and cool in here. I loves me some climate-controlled environments.

The countdown to Canada began this week. We're currently at 4 days to launch. I had my first meeting with the core team, so that was kinda neat, in an administrative kind of way. Now I'm not concerned about having evidence for me to personally review and test. Instead, my goal is to make sure my team has the necessary materials to do their work, and have it competed on time.

I spent a lot of time tonight working on this monster deliverable list to send to folks in Canada, so that they have the stuff ready for us sooner rather than later. I could wait for my team to do it next week, but it doesn't hurt for me to get them a head start. Call it the "Schwed method". [Inside joke -- if you don't get it, please frown and move on.]

Here are three links, then I'm going to bed.

  • Pedophiles to launch political party in Amsterdam. That's just downright creepy.
  • Wells Fargo is piloting a new process to make deposits at their ATMs. In northern California, 400 ATMs will allow you to make deposts without needing an envelope -- scanning your checks and bills directly.

At least the weekend is finally here. Yeehaw.