On the new laptop

July 31, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Work 

I got my “new” laptop (really the old one reformatted) back today.  I think I have the few extra pieces of software installed and I think I have my environment back to stable.  It’s nice to be home again.

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Friday Roundup

July 27, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life, Religion, Work 

For reasons that will be clear below, I’ve been quiet this week.  Here’s a roundup.

The big event this week happened on Wednesday.  My work laptop (which I’ve had since 2001) caught a virus mid-morning.  It appears that this virus’s purpose in life was to download other viruses, spyware, trojans, pop-ups, and to take over the box so completely that the machine was unusuable.  I finally had to resort to contacting our Desktop Support folks (I prefer to fix my own problems most of the time) and we agreed that there was no point in saving the box.  The hard drive was wiped and is being reloaded from scratch.  I have a loaner PC for a few days while they complete the reload, and then I’ll have to spend time getting the reloaded PC back to the way I like it.

I’m an IT person.  For us, the loss of a PC or changing PCs is a very emotional thing.  We spend at least 8 hours a day working on the PC.  To us, the PC is a lot like home – we install applications that make life easier, we change the background, we have our lists of bookmarked websites, etc.  Losing the PC to a virus or hard-drive crash is like your house burning down.  Moving onto a loaner PC is like staying in a hotel – you can’t really do much to it and it doesn’t feel quite like home.  The one exception to this rule is a better PC.  That’s like selling your 1500 sq. foot house and moving into a 2400 sq. foot house.  It’s an upgrade!

I may also get upgraded in the near term – I’m waiting to hear.

Also happening at work this week – the division that I support got a new top guy.  He is something we haven’t had for many years – knowledgeable about the business, makes good decisions, and is a friendly person who is easy to work with.  We haven’t had that combination since about 1998.  This bodes well for the business.  If he were able to get the culture changed (which includes people outside of his control – so I don’t think it’s likely) I might consider staying.

I’m headed back to camp for check-in this coming Sunday.  I’m looking forward to it, as I always do.
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Our new Associate Pastor ran the service last weekend alone – our senior pastor is on vacation.  She did a great job.  I wonder if anybody else saw her take a deep breath just before she stood up to speak the first time.

Another amazing thing.  An “older” woman (older than my parents) had some sort of back issue.  When I started attending last year, she was essentially permanently bent over at a 90 degree angle using a walker with wheels.  Then she disappeared for a while, and when she showed up at church she was standing straight!  This past week she was the musical soloist, and at her age she still has a very strong and true voice.  It’s good to see her get back to something else that she had lost.  Very inspirational!

I’m a little worried about the youth group.  I didn’t go on the Mission Trip a few weeks ago.  I’m sensing that the group is at least temporarily breaking into two groups – those who went on the trip and those who didn’t.  After the fund raiser for the trip at the beginning of June, the youth director stopped inviting people (students and advisors) who weren’t going on the trip (reasonable – the meetings were about the trip).  I spoke with the adults and youth who went on the trip and I felt a fairly universal vibe from the youth – if you didn’t go on the trip you let them down.  I would have hoped that the folks who stayed home (including some of the students) would have been formed into the “Pit Crew” or “Support Team” or even “Prayer Team” supporting those who made the trip.  On the up side, I seem to have been active and supportive enough that I’ve been included in the group that plans things for all 3 groups (Jr. High, Sr. High, Young Adult) and we’re meeting next week.

Wife is good.  House is good.  Cats are good.  We need to paint a few things around the house, and we need to get the fireplace chimney fixed/replaced.  Otherwise all is well.  I’m most of the way through the new Harry Potter (no comments with spoilers, please).

That’s the Friday roundup.  Have a nice weekend!

Quiet Birthday

July 17, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Life 

From about the beginning of my high school years through my college years, my birthday was generally a disaster.

It takes place in the summer.  Summers at that time were the time when I was living at home (during college) or spending more time at home (during high school).  My parents and I had a lot of friction during that time and during college it got so bad that they nearly lost their relationship with me on numerous occasions.

For some reason, my birthday acted like a lightning rod.  I remember having a screaming match with my parents EVERY birthday.  Even when Carolyn (now wife, then girlfriend) was in the house it didn’t help.  I have a very clear memory of sitting in the basement in tears, emotionally wrung out after a fight, and Carolyn didn’t know what to do to console me.  She should never have been subjected to that.

Ever since then my goal for my birthday has been to have a quiet day.  For the most part this means just Carolyn and I at home.  Family celebrations are welcome on other days.
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This year worked out that way.  My parents, Carolyn and I went out to lunch on Sunday.  My brother called yesterday, but it was a fairly quick call.  Otherwise I went to work and spent the evening at home with Carolyn.  Her parents will probably call in a day or two.  We might go out to a movie later in the week.

Thank you all for your wishes and for honoring mine.

If you’re intersted in the loot, be prepared to be disappointed (though I was not).  Carolyn gave me a wire brush to clean the BBQ grill (that I asked for) and we had previously agreed that my new watch purchased a few months ago to replace a broken watch was part of my birthday present.  My parents asked for suggestions and I came up dry, so they donated some money to Camp Johnsonburg (I said “donate money to somebody”) in my honor and gave me a gift certificate to a local restaurant.  I expected nothing more – I’m hard to buy for.  I’m the “if I want it and can afford it I’ll just go buy it” type.

What’s Going On? Redux

July 13, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Life, Religion, Work 

It’s been a while since my last post, so I’ll give you another wrap-up.

This past Monday at work I experienced what might be a last-straw event.  As last-straw events tend to be, this was a little thing that pointed out a pattern that I had seen before.  The short version – I was helping a co-worker and a Vice-President work through an issue.  The Vice-President said some rude things and cut off discussion with an “I make the decisions, I don’t have to listen to ideas I don’t like” attitude.  I responded by starting to walk away, and then returned to finish the discussion when drawn back by my co-worker.  I was upset and talked to my direct supervisor about the situation.  I was even more hurt later during a conversation with my co-worker.  She stated rather vehemently that she didn’t want to get involved because you can’t take on a Vice-President and it would only end up hurting both of us.  I found this ironic because I have fairly recently gone WAY out of my way to help this co-worker.  I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to work in an environment where power and position bring the privilege of behaving badly towards lower-level people.  I also expect myself and others to speak truth rather than avoiding conflict.  I really don’t think I fit in here anymore.

A confession:  My birthday is coming up rapidly.  This will be a year ending in “9”.  I kinda wish that nobody would notice this year.  (THis is NOT a veiled attempt to drag birthday wishes out of my readers – it’s an emotional statement.)

Last Sunday I went back to camp to help out with check-in again.  As it turns out this was a good idea; there were about 230 kids to check in – nearly every unit between just short of capacity and just over capacity.  We ended up dividing the medical form job that I learned the previous week between three people and were able to hang on and keep up.  I was only there for a few hours – I went to church back at home first and then drove to camp.  I didn’t stay for dinner – it was 94 in the shade and all those bodies in the very full dining hall would be … ripe.  Camp must really mean something to me to get me to drive 3 hours round-trip to spend 4-5 hours working.
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I was scheduled to fly again tomorrow but the club canceled the flight – the plane I had booked needed a repair.  I just looked and another plane is scheduled to come out of maintenance just when I need it, so I don’t think I’ll chance scheduling that one.  I probably won’t get into the air this weekend, but that’s OK.  I have family stuff to do Sunday afternoon so Saturday I really need to spend the day on chores.

Job discernment continues.  I’m reading Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation right now.

That’s the roundup.  Lots going on in my head, but most people in my life wouldn’t notice.  The important people in my life do.

What’s going on, Mark?

July 3, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Life, Religion, Work 

Just an update to say “I’m still here” and let you all know what’s going on.

I had a great time at camp last weekend.  The weather was perfect (low to mid 70’s, dry, blue sky with fluffy clouds) as Carolyn and I helped check in 12 units full of kids.  That’s a light week for Camp Johnsonburg, undoubtedly due to the holiday.  I was trained to do the medical form coordinator’s job.  This is a relatively new job for check-in.  Jill, a friend and fellow former camp alumni, made it her purpose in life last summer to organize the medical form process.  This has resulted in a significant reduction in chaos and an increase in making sure that medical information (particularly received prescriptions) is right and that the campers are safe.  She is going to be away one Sunday in August so I’ve been trained to cover that week.  I’m also going to write up the procedure for the camp because right now it’s all in Jill’s head.  I might go up to camp immediately after church this Sunday – they’re bringing in 20 units next week and they’ll really need the help.

I’m working every day this week except Wednesday – no long weekends when Independence Day falls on a Wednesday.  I might get out a few hours early today if management is willing.

I’m undergoing a career questioning process.  My job is frankly not challenging right now and there are other reasons that it is getting increasingly uncomfortable (very few having to do with me or politics – it’s more of a “do I want to be here?” issue).  I’m wondering whether or not it’s time for a career change rather than a job change.
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At one point about a month ago I thought that the ministry might be a career for me, but I’ve since decided against it.  I think it was a fit of overenthusiasm for church-related things in general due to lots of things at happening with me and church.  In talking with others about this idea, the reaction has ranged from shock/surprise to “Are you sure?”  That’s not really a rousing sign that I should be considering such a career.  I really don’t think I have the right personality as an introverted technical thinker who happens to care deeply about people.  I’m really a behind-the-scenes kind of person.

So now I’m trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  This might be a mid-life crisis (if you take my life expectancy at birth and divide by 2, you get something less than my age), or it might just be the start of a 2nd career.  Or maybe I’ll determine that I’m really supposed to be doing what I’m doing now.  I might even be at the right company.  Who knows.  What I do know is that when I work really hard at camp or at church it doesn’t feel like work.  That might be “a change is as good as a rest” or it might be my real vocation peeking out.  We’ll have to see.

And that’s the roundup for today.