That Two Year Mark


There’s a bit of irony about September 12th.  On Facebook, you get notices daily of a “On This Date” memories.  Usually they are posts you made or things you shared, but they are on that date in the past.  I love going through them for whatever crazy irony or goofy things I put up over the years.  As it turns out, when I looked at today’s memories, there was a lot both posted and hinted about.

Six years ago today,  on September 12, 2012, I was preparing for my first business trip as an employee of BP-Alaska.  I had only been there for a few weeks, and a supplier issue in Louisiana gave me an opportunity to make a run down there, and stop off to meet much of the rest of the team in Houston.   For the role, it was a pretty big point in my fresh start up there.

Two years later, on September 12, 2014, I walked into BP-Alaska for the last time.  It was my last day as an employee.  This was the beginning of my transformation from BP to Bodycote, my next employer.  While it would be another few weeks before I moved out of Alaska, this date had a fair bit of finality to it.

Two years later, on September 12, 2016 … while I didn’t post much, but there was something very very clear about what I did do.  I had changed my profile to Jim Carey in The Truman Show where he pretended to be an astronaut, and my cover picture to show aliens on Mars protesting a rover telling it to “Go Home Yankee”.  I made one written post saying: “Two football games on tonight? Why sure, I think I will partake … I mean .. someone could be celebrating something tonight.”  I couldn’t go public with it, but it was my super secret code to basically tell friends in the know that I had just been given an offer to join JPL.

Two years to the day, I had specific situations about a job transition.  Honestly, that ‘two years’ was a very real feeling to me.  In part, because it was a specified mandate.  I got a huge relocation package from BP (and by huge, I mean  … HUUUUGGGGEEEE); which came with only one stipulation … if I quit or got fired before my 2 year mark, I would have to pay it back.  While Bodycote didn’t officially have a statement on their relocation package, it was implied … and not something I wanted to try out either.  So, it became a feeling that I should at least give a job about 2 years to make sure it is right for me.  It just turns out, it didn’t take 2 years for either of those two places to tell me that things were not right.

So, since it is September 12, 2018 – and it is 2 year later – what do I have to post this time around?

Well nothing.

At least not yet.

Shared a post on a group about the Packers.  Was in messenger sharing a goofy thing about dogs changing light bulbs.

I mean, there is a good chance that I will open up a bottle of wine, and then anything can happen on Facebook.

The important thing is … don’t be expecting any weird post out there about some massive change of employment again, because *spoiler alert* there is no massive change.  To be fair, my 2-year mark at JPL isn’t until December; and there isn’t anything specific (that I can remember) that forces me to stay with it here.  That being said, I am nearly two years in and have no intention to leave.

Here’s the thing.  I believe that no one wakes up one day, realizes they have a miserable job, decides they are going to quit, then quits before laying back down for bed that night.  For someone in a more professional role like myself, that just doesn’t happen — you look to transition to something new.  For me personally, I never quit a job when I didn’t know where I was going to end up.  I had a job offer acceptance in my hand, and knowledge that all roadblocks are lifted with a start date agreed to.  To get to that point includes months of searching for a job, interviewing, re-interviewing, re-re-interviewing, and finally making a call.  To get that started maybe one of those days I wake up and say “holy crap this sucks”, but it leads then to the job search process … hours and hours spent flipping through online classifieds, websites, and calls from recruiters.  For a number of reasons, the time between I submitted an application at JPL to the time I put my notice in at Bodycote was nearly 9 months.  The whole process is grueling, and takes perseverance.  Which means … If I want to quit, I’ve wanted to quit for a long time.

Nearly two years into my time at JPL … I don’t want to quit.

Sure, you are probably thinking “Duh … it’s JPL, a NASA center, why would you want to leave?”.  Well, I counter with there was a point when “Duh … you get to live in Alaska, why would you want to leave?” was a viable question.

JPL is not perfect.  JPL has it’s issues.  There have been some tough periods, and there have been some really bad days.  I have not had that moment where I woke up and said “I want to start looking for something else”.  I openly say that to my management; even at threat to future compensation.

I mean … this two year mark with desire to check out the grass on the other side of the fence … that’s not a big deal, that’s a HUUUUGGGGEEEE deal.

Now, to just keep the posts on Facebook above the belt tonight.



About Cleveland … No, It Doesn’t


Here I am sitting in good old Cleveland Hopkins Airport, and surprise surprise, my flight’s delayed. It seems there is always a travel problem for me when I come through Cleveland, and sometimes not due to weather, mechanical, or other predictable reasons. Travel problems in Cleveland are a norm for me. Some of you maybe sitting at home singing that song from that TV show “Cleveland Rocks.” Some of you out there maybe thinking “hey, maybe you just like sticking around Cleveland longer”.

I say to you … No, it doesn’t .. and No, I don’t.

Cleveland and I have had a pretty uncomfortable relationship over the years. Cleveland isn’t the only city I’ve had issues with. Paris and I have a contentious relationship mostly because its full of French people. St Louis and I are like quirky friends that don’t exactly know if we can trust each other. New Orleans, that evil es-girlfriend that I regret visiting, but not too proud to not call on her again (and again and again).

Cleveland is like that guy who wants to be like, but whatever he does seems to backfire into something that just makes our relationship worse.

I started coming to Cleveland about 12 years ago. If you never been, it still remains a very blue collar, very midwestern, very steel driven city. Driving around town, you can still smell the smoke and fumes from centuries of industry. Even it’s historical areas call back to days when America was built on the back of Cleveland labors. With Lake Erie to the North and the Cuyahoga River valleys running through the metro area, it can be a pretty place to visit.

But then again, centuries of industry have a way to real havoc on that beauty. I mean, one of their claims to fame is that their river caught on fire. Who does that? There really isn’t as much to see as you might think. The Rock n Roll hall of fame is nothing more than a building that has pictures you can download off of the internet … just without paying $30 to get in the door. The downtown area has some old buildings, but once you have driven though, that’s about it. They have some interesting sports stadiums but … Cleveland sports teams play there, so good luck with that.

So much of my problems with Cleveland come from circumstance. When I was coming here a lot, I was coming here a lot. One calendar year, I visited the city five times. Each time I was here, I had to deal with a company that always seemed to battle over what was best for my place and theirs … and every time I was here it snowed; including once in May.

Weather is a battle with Cleveland. It is just south of the Lake Effect Snow Belt, which means … yeah … May snows. Not just that but lots of it too. In one epic trip I made with long time Bear Feeder, Rusty Johnson,. We drove through white out conditions down from Buffalo, in a trip that too way way way too long.

It’s the flights I always groaned about. Back in those days when I was based in Wichita, the only good flight was a DFW connection, in a place that had one extra seat per row than the commuter flight should have had in a 2-1/2 hour flight that always was sold out out — that meant I always seemed to bet the last row aisle seat, which was really a middle seat with the flight attendant on one side, and the toilet pressed against the other. Seems they upgraded that route to be a MD-80 … you know, those planes that were built in the 1970s that used to be called DC-9, but changed their names 15 years ago, and still flying? Way to upgrade Cleveland.

Honestly though, Cleveland tries. I can honestly state for all my visits to Cleveland, I am confronted with some great people being nice in their own genuine way. When I first started coming here, a colleague turned me onto a hotel where the concierge lounge was manned by a foul mouth hilarious but motherly attendant. She was such a great personality that you would find dozens of business travelers sitting in the lounge silently as she spouts off about everything from her clunker of a car to the quality of egg rolls .. and every one in that room said they were staying at the hotel just because of her. After she retired, there was the legendary Janice at the Embassy Suites who tended bar five nights a week and never forgot a name, home town, place of work, and whatever life story you told her over a good bourbon or three. I might not visit for a year or two and she still remembered me … and everyone.

So forgive me if I am not in a rush to hurry back to Cleveland; we just have that bad relationship thing happening here.

But if my plane doesn’t arrive from DFW soon, I may never get the opportunity to leave.

Gross Things on a Birthday


**BLOGGER NOTE — Facebook users see the end**

Six years ago this Saturday, something gross probably happened that I luckily wasn’t around for; I just have the remnants of a third of it to deal with.  Sometime late in the evening of September 1st 2012, a momma dog plopped out three little ones who probably celebrated that event by pooping or something.  Like all newborns, these little ones were helpless, cold, and hungry – luckily momma had help too from her breeder, to guide the pups to momma’s side and welcome them into the world.

The breeder bred the pups as show dogs.  Usually a litter doesn’t have a full load of show quality dogs, but the show arena’s loss is a good home’s gain.  They looked for new owners from mailing lists, social media, and other places that they respected.  They weren’t looking for anyone to buy a dog; they were looking for people who they could trust to own a dog.

Which makes my involvement in this story kind of sound ironic in hindsight.

I showed up in this story about 3 weeks later.  I actually didn’t intend to show up, I just was looking for something to do on a Saturday.  A friend from work happened to be on of those mailing lists.  She’s been in the market for a specific breed, namely Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and this local breeder just had a litter of three.  On a Saturday with nothing else to do, I drove out with her.

Now, when I think of ‘breeder’, I picture some farm with loads of cages, pens, and piles of poo.  This was a split level ranch in the middle of town.  Besides the chain linked fence in the back to keep the moose out, there was nothing special about the place … well, except for the stock car being built in the garage.  The house had a family of four.  Father & son raced cars; Mother & daughter showed staffies .. thus the breeder name “FullThrottle Staffies”.

At just three weeks, the pups were pretty momma dependent, and only just started sniffing at dry food.  They had five weeks of weening to go at least.  Yet even at that age, they were starting to show a little personality.  The black one clearly was the alpha and the most attentive.  He would have a future in show dog circuit for sure.  The girl, the runt, a white and black patched little thing, had an mischievous attitude.  The breeder mentioned “that one is going to be a handful”.  Hindsight told me it was her code for: “I’m going to be really picky who gets her to know they can handle her.”  In the middle was a brown one with a white patch on his neck.  More laid back, he had a wonky ear going on – a minor issue that would be nothing to the rest of us, but would keep him from being show quality unless it was corrected.  While my friend had an interest in the white one, the breeder made it clear

**and I’ll note this is the first brick that fell**

the brown one was for sale as well.

We talked about what kind of dogs they would grow into; what to expect from different situations with other dogs, what kind of disruption they would put into our lives.  To help show them off, we took the three and the momma out back to the back yard.  The pups were still new to going back there, and quickly explored the place running  away from the watchful eye of momma.  The little ones took an interest in a neighbor dog, a bigger pit bull, who at first didn’t really do much but watch them.  The pups ran up and barked at the bigger one, as if they were tough and ready for a fight.  After a couple of minutes the pit had  enough, he gave one huge ‘Woof’ and the pups went running.  Two, the girl and the black one, went running to hide behind momma.  The third …

**and I’ll note this is the second brick that fell**

The little brown one ran to me and hid behind me.

We picked the pups up to take back inside.  The breeder made sure the brown one was in my arms.  Worn out by the exercise, it suggled into my chest, no bigger than a hot dog.  When I put him back in his pen with his momma, he gave a brief look back to me.  My friend pointed out a stain on my and then she said ..

**third brick**

“Looks like he marked you.  I guess you’re his now.”

The next two days, I was consumed by this dog.  Not in that … I can’t stop thinking about how cute it is … more of a, how does this dog thing work?  I always thought having a dog would be fun, but never knew what it meant or what work it would require.  Over those two days, I sent no less than five emails packed with questions to the breeder … it probably would have been tons more, but she didn’t check her e-mails and responded as much as I would have.  I won’t say I was ready to own a dog after those two days, but I would say that my language changed.  It wasn’t “If I buy a dog” or “when I buy a dog”.

No … it was “when I bring home that brown one”.

On my Birthday, no less than two weeks since moving into my new house, I brought Auggie home.  Since that time he has done gross things on nearly every floor, bed, couch, or blanket I own.  He’s woken me at all hours to bark and nothing.  He’s tripped me from being underfoot constantly.  He’s fought me.  He’s ignored me.  He’s been a royal pain in the ass.

Yet, he’s still my buddy.

Happy Six Years Old to Auggie the Doggie.

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