Corporate America, Life Lessons, OutSourcing Ordeals

What happens when your company moves to a Managed Services Model

We got the news at our annual All-Hands Dept Meeting that we had been expecting for some time now.   My company TopFive has discovered that it is an accounting firm, not an IT firm and as such, it has decided to explore Outsourcing the IT Dept.  We are of course using the current buzz word “Managed Services” but it is really the same thing.

Investigating outsourcing is the polite way of saying it’s all but a done deal, and we will be unemployed this fall.  They have framed this period as Due Diligence to determine if it is cost effective but unless someone falls asleep at the wheel, the numbers are going to sound good, at least short term.

Office WorkSpace

Where did everyone go?

If you worked in IT in the last quarter of century, you have a few common experiences no matter what area you specialize in.  You took Fundamentals of Programming Languages at whatever learning institution you got your credentials at; you probably worked for a Dotcom or at least a startup; and you either went through or know someone who went through an outsourcing.

In a little over six weeks, TopFive’s IT will be outsourced.   When this happens you have three options:

Option #1 is you get cut, either right away because they have enough programmers, DBAs, help desk or whatever general IT function you do that is easy to replace or a little later after you agree to offload your knowledge in return for a severance package which usually includes a few paychecks to get you through to your next gig.

Option #2 is you get to stay on as part of the skeleton IT crew of the original company.

Option #3 is you get re-badged by the new company for your Native Knowledge and nothing else really changes other than who signs your paycheck and possibly your desk moves to another location (maybe even home).

I have no reason to believe I’ll be part of Option #2 and only slightly less hope to think I won’t be part of Option #3.  My Native Knowledge is in products TopFive isn’t happy with so it is very unlikely I’ll be asked to stay on in any capacity.

Stay Tuned….

This post was drafted a year or so ago, as these events were occurring.  I waited to post this because I didn’t want to risk my job hunting efforts or reveal any information about my former company.  The purpose of these posts aren’t to bash my former employer but to share my experience and hopefully educate people on the perils of Corporate America.

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Dark Matters, Getting It Off Your Chest, Life Lessons, Social Maintenance, This Week on Facebook, Two for Tuesday

When History repeats itself, it’s an opportunity to take the other path

Like most people, I periodically clean out the friends list on the ole Book of Faces, removing people who don’t interact with me,  log in very often or not make one of the Bucket Criteria.  In general I’m unfriending people that don’t fit one of the criteria for being a friend/connection on FB.  I discovered doing that breaks the FB algorithms and I see more of my active friends stuff.

I guess I was caught by surprise that anyone would reach out to me to confirm if I unfriended them.    Sidenote: is it unfriend or defriend?  hypen or no?  Discuss in the comments.

It probably seemed arbitrary to TGC that I un-friended them.  So why would I unfriend TGC but keep TG or FG who I know from the same circle?  Well FG and I have a common thing now as we are both parents of twin toddlers.  That is a connection.  Plus he was one of the few attorneys at BigName Law Firm 1.0,  that treated me like a human being.  TG was always a decent person to me and even came to one of my house parties back in the day.

TGC on the other hand didn’t always treat me like an equal.  In 2000 or 2001 or so, while working for the No-Name Software Company, I was a training class around the corner from where we use to work.  I emailed to see if TGC was free for lunch and if it was no trouble to meet.  TGC accepted my invitation but asked if SM could join because SM only worked part time at that point and would also be in the office that day.


Being the naive inclusive person I was, I said sure.  But that was a mistake becuase after 5 minutes of catching up on my latest and greatest life unlocking achievements, TGC and SM started talking about things that didn’t’ include me and made no effort to bring me into their conversations.  And the thing is, it’s not like TGC and SM didn’t hang out already.  They probably could have had this same conversation over drinks that evening or the next day that SM was working downtown or  they could have been less rude and brought me into the conversation somehow.  It was truly a case of why the fuck did we bother?

After that I never emailed TGC again and I only connected on FB because that’s what everyone was doing back in 2008.

After I explained to TGC my motivation for culling my friends list, they wrote back “That’s too bad. I enjoyed seeing pics of your kids and cute family. Take care.”

Talk about not getting it.  Let me translate:  “That’s too bad.  I enjoyed putting no effort into maintaining our relationship or acknowledging any of your Life Event Unlocking Moments, but when the fancy struck me I enjoyed being able to jump on FB and see your kids.”

News Flash: I already that with my Friends That Really Matter.  In other words, you’re not offering me anything I already don’t have but are expecting something from me.  Seriously?  Even a dog expects to be fed.  You don’t have to wish me happy birthday or High Five me for unlocking every Life Achievement, but over the course of a year, I’d expect some acknowledgement that I exist and have value.

About that History Repeating Itself Thing:

A similar thing happened recently at an event that reunited me with many from the No-Name Software Company.  Someone else I thought was a friend decided that it was better to spend the company dime on catching up with a friend they just spent the last weekend with and will likely spend some time with in the near future instead of sucking it up and talking to me for 30 minutes during the dinner portion of the event — even after promising that we would do so and I burned one of my rare hall passes to be out instead of home putting my kids to bed.  Yes technically it was my decision to stay out but it was influence by a promise someone apparently never intended to fulfill.

I did not wait 8 years to unfriend that one.

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Get It Off Your Chest, This Week on Facebook, Two for Tuesday

The Stages of Facebook Unfriending

So the day comes and you find out that someone unfriended you on the Social Media Merry-go-Round that is Facebook.  Maybe you figured it out because you watch your friend’s list count.  Or maybe Facebook’s On This Day reminder pointed out someone you hadn’t thought of in a while.  Or perhaps you have some software that helps.  However it happened, you now know that someone you use to consider friend no longer considers you a friend.

Sidenote: is it unfriend or defriend?  hypen or no?  Discuss in the comments.

Shock and Denial

The first reaction to learning that someone could possibly have removed you from the list of friends is to deny the reality of the situation.

How could they do this?  I helped them pass Calculus in college.

It is a normal reaction to rationalize unbelievable discoveries. It is a defense mechanism that blocks out the immediate facts.  I use to be one of those people who wouldn’t unfriend someone unless they were completely toxic and would get sad if someone unfriended me.



 Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed.

Why am I the only person from our now defunct Book Club that they unfriended!

Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us angrier.

Bargaining & Rationalization

Okay they only unfriend me because I did not wish them a sincere enough birthday or forgot to high five them or acknowledge any recent unlocking of a Major Life Achievement.

Acceptance Retaliation

Confession:  I have been aggressively culling my FB friends list in order to get down to a more reasonable level.  I was keeping a lot of them because of loyalty and whatever but fuck if we don’t interact anyway what is the point?  And I know some of this is caused by Facebook itself not showing you everyone’s status updates in your feed.

For instance, there are a couple of people I use to do speed work with for Marathon Training…in 2005. Or somebody that I met at a friend’s party a million years ago.  Do I really need to keep them in my friends’ list as some sort of message in a bottle to our future alien anthropologist exploring our post-apocalyptic planet?

Oh, he was friends with this attorney who also happened to be friends with someone who would eventually know someone who was there when the revolution began.

I think not.  Therefore I am diligently and aggressively culling my friends’ list.  So far I’ve cut about 150 people albeit, 3-5 people at a time, once a week since Lent started.  Do you know what I discovered?  It’s funny but just deleting 1-2 people will change the look of your feed.  Unfriending Marek, the fellow Pole I met at Eurocircle ten years ago has suddenly shown me Erika in my feed again.  I haven’t seen her stuff since 2009!

In general I’m unfriending people that don’t fit one of the criteria for being a friend/connection on FB:

  • Real friends and family that I care about;
  • People who entertain, enlighten or inform me;
  • People I’m loyal to;
  • People I know.

I discovered doing that breaks the FB algorithms and I see more of my active friends stuff.  I’m actually engaging with people on Facebook that I haven’t interacted with in years!  So now the challenge is to unfriend people who would remain uninvolved in my life anyway so that I can rediscover people who have only been dormant because of those blasted algorithms.

Stay tuned.


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Father’s Day finally has some meaning in my life

Today is Father’s Day and I get to partake in it, as much or as little as I want.  Father’s Day never really meant much to me, especially when I was a child.  My father was not a part of my life and that’s just how it was.  It wasn’t really that odd when I was kid because many of my fellow Humboldt Park delinquents friends had Absent Fathers.  It only really became a thing when I was away at college and interacted with white people from the suburbs of St Louis instead of inner city kids.

father whoI can almost understand why my dad wasn’t part of my life.  He was twenty something when I arrived on the scene and that can be a lot for a young dude to handle.  From the few times I did met him, I can tell you he was one part jerk, and two parts asshole and not a Rise-to-the-Occasion or Step-Up kind of guy.  So I’m probably better off that he wasn’t in my life.

What I don’t understand though is why his family didn’t ever reach out to me.  I have their fucking DNA in me and that has to mean something.  Maybe his parents felt they had enough legitimate grandchildren from his siblings to spend the family fortune on.  Growing up, I always assumed a half sister or brother would show up on my door step asking for a kidney.  Spoiler Alert: if that were to happen today they would be so screwed.  You had 40+ years bro.

What is really hard for me to wrap my mind around about FD is the fact that I get a lot of credit, praise and accolades from other parents.  It’s because, as my wife Nightingale points out, I do Step-Up and do the things a lot of fathers don’t, like change diapers, feed and dress my kids and interact with them.  I really don’t know what life would be like if we only had one kid but I’d like to think that I would still change a fucking diaper once and a while.  Guys seriously the learning curve on this one isn’t that high.  Your first diaper won’t be perfect but by #50 (or Day 4 as we call it) you can pretty much do it with your eyes closed.

So I’m torn.  On the one hand, I’m just doing my fucking job as a father, parent and grown up.  On the other hand, these Assclowns who don’t change diapers exist and they really need to be eliminated from the gene pool.

I think the last thing I want to say is that if you are a father and you have guy friends who aren’t, try to reach out to them and let them know that you value their friendship and Today isn’t about excluding them.  Today is about showing them what it’s like on the Other Side.

Happy Father’s Day!
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Blogapalooza, Marathon Monday, Running Related

That Time I missed Qualifying for the Boston Marathon by 15 minutes

It’s the 2nd/4th Wednesday of the month and that means Blogapalooza where we are challenged to write a post and publish it in one hour. Here is this month’s challenge: “Write about a period or moment in your life when you were at your best.”  Here’s my take:

Ten years (and a few months) ago, I ran my best marathon time ever.  I was 36 years old and managed to pound out a 3:29:54 Finish Time at the Spirit of St Louis Marathon.  It was an interesting week especially since that same weekend the Cubs swept the Cardinals back in Chicago.  So it was a victory for all Chicagoans though obviously everyone was more into my success than those fleeting northsiders.

Training for a marathon during the Winter is rough enough under ordinary circumstances.  It’s dark when you wake up, dark when you get home from work and cold all throughout.  This season was extra demanding because my knees were hurting and I had gained some holiday weight.  Because of the January weather it was hard to get any kind of consistency going where training was concerned.  I couldn’t afford to miss any runs because I inadvertently started my training five weeks late.  On top of that, I decided to try a new training program, adding my own on the fly adjustments to make up for those missing weeks.  To make matters worse, I caught a terrible cold five days before the marathon.

The Sunday before this race, I had run the Shamrock Shuffle back home and also set a new personal best.  But then I caught a very bad cold.  I could feel it coming on Sunday evening and by Monday night, I had a full fledged virus running through my system.  How could I run a marathon?  I wasn’t able to get in the last few training runs of an already truncated training season.  I had worked very hard for this marathon, training in the cold, dark winter. Doing speed workouts during my lunch break when WFH and cross training with spin classes and weights.

This had all the makings of a Greek Tragedy waiting to unfold.  But I was registered to run the Spirit of St Louis on April 9, so I packed up my gear and headed down I-55.  I was staying with a friend from my undergrad days at Northeast Missouri State University.  Going to school there allowed me to get to know St Louis so well, which made it an excellent choice for a spring marathon.  (a free place to stay did tip the scale a bit!)

10502319_10203893351835621_4970538730843304457_nI wrote a really long write up about my marathon race story back in the days when I blogged by emailing friends my marathon stories.  The website I used is gone but I was able to find it using WaybackMachine so I’ll give a very abridged version by cutting to the chase.

Although the forecast was for cloudy and rainy, it turned out to be a sunny, windless day and I didn’t have any problems running.  The first half of the course was shared with half marathoners and I did my best to not go out too fast.

At Mile 20 I introduced myself to my new friend. His name is Kevin and he told me that we were on pace to do a 3:25 or so. I said to him, I think I’m gonna open it up a bit and see what I can do.  A gutsy move, especially since a Boston Qualification time (BQ*) was realistically out of the question. But the one thing I’ve learned that year is that even when you don’t have a prayer, you still have to take your shot. Otherwise you end up in your own personal purgatory.

For the next few miles I ran either just under 8 minutes, if the course flattened out enough or 820s if we hit a hill.  At Mile 24 I confirmed what I had suspected a few miles earlier. If I were to walk, I would finish under 4 hours. While I could ease off and try to save something for the end, I realized that at this particular moment, whatever pace I achieved, however fast or slow I ran, that would be my new PR. I controlled my PR and in a small way my destiny.

Somewhere halfway between Mile 24 and Mile 25, on some highway underpass I’ll probably never see again, my watch showed I had been running for 3 hours and 15 minutes…the time I need to qualify for Boston at my age level. The marathon was 1.7 miles too long.

It didn’t matter. I felt strong, ran as fast as I could and the lactic acid meltdown never came. As I approached the finish line, I heard the announce encouraging the runners “if you hurry you can break 3:30”. It hadn’t occurred to me to go for any particular time once I realized I would set a new PR. I threw whatever I had left and pushed for the finish line.

Bending But Not Breaking

In a year that started out with great promise but quickly spiraled out of control, when at times it seemed my best just wasn’t good enough, I probably had no business running a marathon under the training conditions I experienced. Yet on Palm Sunday, the weekend when the St Louis Cardinals went to Chicago and were swept by the Cubs, the marathon gods graced me with a new PR of 3:29:54. I didn’t even have my best stuff, but it was apparently more than enough.



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Becoming a Parent, Parent of Twins

It’s okay that my twins haven’t started talking yet

I’m a really bad parent.  For one thing, when someone asks me how old my rug rats are, I hesitate.  It takes me a minute to remember what freaking day and month it is because they are all the freaking same.  I also don’t speak Parentese very well because I will round up or down and say they’re a year and half or almost two instead of spitting out how long they have been on this earth down to the last minute.

“They’re 20 months, 8 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes old”

I refer to them collectively as Moose and Squirrel on this blog and individually as Boris and Natasha.  I know that’s mixing the pop culture reference but hey I’m a lousy blogger too.

But where I really suck at being a parent:  my twin toddlers haven’t started talking yet and I just don’t care.  I wish I could say it was because I’m being all zen and whatnot with “we have plenty of talkers in this world, what we need is more listens” but that’s BS.  The truth is, I have no fucks to give about this one.  I’m tired, sleep deprived and might just be wearing something my kid ate for breakfast on my shirt collar.

We are totally conspiring to take you down if you don't let us stay up past bedtime

We are totally conspiring to take you down if you don’t let us stay up past bedtime

Besides, it’s a well known established fact* that twins take longer to start talking than singletons because they have each other and their own special Twin Language which they obviously use to plot their takeover of the Universe.  [* Give me five minutes warning before you search so I can edit the Wikipedia page.]

Also I’ve talked to other twin parents including our own Dumpster Momma and they concur, twins start talking when they are good and ready. Dumpster Momma pointed out that there are different kinds of talking, words versus full on sentences versus baby-babblespeak.  She assured me that one day it kind of clicks and you forget they ever weren’t talking at all.

So what if they are part of the percentage that are behind the learning curve or Development curve or whatever and early intervention might mitigate some issues down the road?  The lack of caring I have about this particular scenario is ginormous.

I feel passionately about a great many things, but this isn’t one of them. I think they can talk but choose not to and will start speaking when they feel like it.

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Marathon Monday, Running Related

Things to Consider When Selecting a Marathon Training Program

The following is a revamp of an email I wrote for one of my running groups when I led a marathon training groups for CARA.  This content is Chicago Marathon centered but could easily be applied to any marathon.

So you’ve decided to train for a marathon.  You got your shoes and your running clothes ready and you’ve accepted, perhaps reluctantly, that your Saturday mornings will be sweaty and tiring for the next few months.  But there is at least one more thing to figure out: Which training program should I follow?

If you have never run a marathon before, the answer is a no brainer: Go Novice and use the program designed by Hal Higdon, the Godfather of marathon training.  The Novice schedule is a gently progressive program involving four days of running a week.  Each weekend, the Long Run (LR) gets longer, peaking at 20 miles three weeks before the marathon.

If you already have a marathon or two under your belt and want to achieve a faster time, set a new Personal Best, or even qualify for The Boston Marathon, there are programs which step up the difficulty and intensity. These programs require more mileage and incorporate speed-work and cross training.  Here are a couple:

Word of caution:  If you are thinking about moving up a pace – from 9:30s to 9s for instance – I recommend you do not simultaneously change programs.  Running longer mileage at a faster pace might set you up to fail.  It’s better to run longer mileage at slower pace than shorter mileage at a faster pace for marathon training purposes.

More mileage doesn’t necessarily guarantee better results and a consistent pace is better than a sloppy one.  You might be able to run an additional 2-4 miles each LR, but if your pace is deteriorating at the end, it might be better to drop back to lower mileage and work on consistency.

The next thing to decide is whether you are going to train solo or join a running group.  Marathon training involves piles of miles and it helps to have someone to run with for some of them, especially the LR.  I encourage you to find a group to train with because not only will it keep you on track, but you will likely make life-long friends in the running community.  Two great resources are Chicago Area Runner’s Association and The Clock Tower Runners.

The final thing to consider is How much time will this take?  Looking at Higdon’s Intermediate and Advanced Programs, the most noticeable difference between the schedules is the weekend LRs. In the early weeks, it doesn’t seem like much. But soon the difference is literally miles apart. Take Week 7 for example. Novices run 12 miles which is almost a half marathon in itself. But the Advanced runners do that and tag on an extra 5K (and then some) for a total of 16 miles.


Photo Courtesy of Robert Meyers

Photo Courtesy of Robert Meyers

Another key difference between the programs is the number of additional 20 milers scheduled (2 and 3 respectively). Not only do these LRs take a large part of your morning but you have to factor in recovery time as well. Ask yourself, how will that impact other areas of your life?

Pro-Tip:  Get a blank calendar and mark out in different colors the mileage of each program schedule you are considering on the dates you would run them if this were a perfect world and all you had to do this summer was train for a marathon.

Now go back and add important can’t change the date events like weddings, vacations and business trips.  At this point ask yourself, honestly, what is realistic?  Now put your ego down and back away slowly and ask yourself again: what can I do?  If you still aren’t sure, you can use the early weeks of the program to see how you feel about extra mileage.

Which program is right for you?  The only person who can answer that question is you.  The good news is this is one of those times when it is absolutely, positively all right to be selfish.  After all, your friends aren’t running the race for you.  So if everyone you know is running the Advanced, but you are more comfortable doing Novice, run Novice and make some new friends along the way.

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