It's been a while right? I barely recognize you (or myself). It's been about four months now with nary an update or peep out of me. Not really good attendance. To be honest, I feel a bit guilty. Not too guilty mind you -- just a bit. Life has been more unexpected than I expected. Things came up, things happened, balls were dropped, mistakes were made, assignments were overdue, vacations were had, companies closed, and opportunities arose.
Let's rewind the clock about four months. I had just gotten done writing this beauty of a post. Sadly, I can't say that I've updated or really touched the Chromebox after finally getting Lakka onto it. I don't want to make any excuses; all I can say is that life got busy. School was hitting pretty hard at that time and I didn't want to fall behind. I was (stupidly) taking another 18 credit semester. Around the middle of March, I took a week long vacation with my wife and sister for Spring Break and visited two of my very good friends in Pennsylvania. It was a wonderful vacation and a good break. Please, allow me to regale you with some vacation photos.
TL;DR lots of vacation photos below as well as an explanation towards my bloggy absence
Landed in Philly. Longest (perceived) flight of my life.
This is the Lehigh Valley. Its where my friends live. It is home to a sleepy college town with some great architecture. If you've ever watched Madmen, Bethelehem steel is based out of this valley.
Speaking of which, I'd recommend hitting up the Steel Stacks; its an old steel mill/foundry, except it has been repurposed as a sort of downtown/event hub.
This was the highest point in the valley. Turns out Pennsylvania has got nothing on Utah's elevation. I will concede that the Blue Ridge Mountains were pretty (and there's a great Fleet Foxes song by the same name).
My friend is working towards a PhD in physics at Lehigh University.
Not only is it home to some beautiful and historic East Coast architecture, its got a wonderful stained glass dome in the library. To be honest, I was a little jealous that my university didn't have the same.
This picture is a pretty good indicator of how tired I was as well as a good example as to why I'm avoiding redeye flights in the future. I just can't do it. Planes are cramped and uncomfortable, I'm a big guy, and this makes sleeping pretty impossible. In this state of mind, I didn't question getting cozy with Penn State's Nittany Lion.
After bumming around in my buddy's town for a bit (and severely taking advantage of his and his fianceé's hospitality) we went on a couple hour bus ride to New York City.
New York can be pretty intimidating. Its just a mass of activity, noise, smells, and movement. Its different to what I'm used to, but it was a pretty great experience. One of the first things we did there (can't remember if this was before or after checking out the Museum of Sex) was eat some delightful Spanish food.
I quickly learned that buildings in New York were just like in the movies; pretty dang tall.
And my hotel room had a pretty kickass view of those tall buildings.
I ate street food.
I was overwhelmed by Times Square.
I ate some amazing Cuban food and booze after watching the Book of Mormon musical.
I checked out the Empire State,
along with the view.
I took touristy photos on the Brooklyn Bridge
I hit up shops in China Town
I ate some fantastic Bao
I found a hat store
I was exhausted sometimes
After our one night stay in New York, we made our way back to Pennsylvania to spend the rest of our spring break. The city was something else; the experience isn't something that I'll be forgetting anytime soon.
We hit up a cool and small time Farmer's Market. Needless to say, I was jealous of the Allentown Farmer's Market (and still want something like this near where I live).
Afterwards we drove into the Poconos and found a cold and windy lake.
I would later jump into the lake just wearing my skivvies, but that isn't something I'm gonna post here :grin:
I visited the Philidelphia home of Edgar Allen Poe
I ate at Pat's Steaks and had a pretty alright Philly Cheesesteak
I hit up the Mütter Museum
I took more touristy photos
And finally finished up the trip with some Pakistani food. It was incredibly spicy, but pretty good.
Special thanks to my friends (you know who you are) for extending an invite to my wife, my sister, and I to come out to the East Coast and have a great and hectic time. Bucket List items were crossed off of several people's list because of this trip. I hope to see both of you again soon.
The vacation was necessary at this point in my life. Work and school were getting pretty heavy, so getting away was a nice stress relief. The worst thing about a vacation however, is coming back to all the stress that was left behind. I didn't work on any schoolwork on my trip (fie and shame), and as such, I didn't get a respite when I came back. At this point finals were looming their ugly, sadistic head so I begin to shift into panic/survival mode. Still, I don't regret taking in the East Coast to its fullest; schoolwork would have hampered that experience.
Unfortunately, work started giving me some hardcore weird vibes. Vibes that invoked my need to preserve myself. I don't think I've mentioned where I work(ed). I was a Jr. Software Dev turned pseudo-Sysadmin at Template of Doom (formerly Gearshift Technologies). It was a small development and IT outfit where we did mostly client work. It was one of my first real 'grownup' jobs and I enjoyed it; coming into work wasn't a hassle.
The weird vibes started some time before my trip to the East Coast; my spidey senses really started tingling when I came back to find my iMac, mouse, and keyboard all missing. I still had my work laptop, but preferred working on that massive iMac screen, so I started asking around about what happened. Turns out the owner had started **selling off some equipment (DANGER DANGER RUN). ** I casually (kinda) started keeping my ear to the ground for work; keeping my options open in case the something happened. And boy, am I glad I did -- Because the worst happened.
It was a spring Friday morning when I lost my job. The owner of the company came downstairs and informed me that the company could no longer keep its doors open. Since we were involved in a client-based business it was usually feast or famine. Well, famine happened, and the most recent dry spell with clients had been the straw that broke the camel's back.
I'm sad the company had to close the way it did. I don't hold any sort of ill will towards anyone that worked there; it was fun, it was a great place, and I got to be part of a great team. I learned a ton while working there (as well as learning of the fickleness of markets). And I still have a mousepad with the company's logo.
Before the hammer came down I had the pleasure of getting into preliminary talks with two tech companies (however nothing had been promised thus far). So that was a little bit of a thin pad to land on. My sudden unemployment didn't help my stress levels in the slightest (let alone my wife's). We had bills to pay and I was the primary breadwinner in the household. This was going to put a major strain on everything; school, home life, future plans.
I internally panicked.
18 credits didn't sound so daunting anymore now that I had all the time in the world to focus on school, right? At least, that's what I told myself. I was wrong.
Losing my job made school infinitely harder.
I couldn't focus. I didn't want to attend class. I wanted to find work or find a way to get income and staunch the sudden loss of revenue. I stressed, I ate too much, I skipped classes when I shouldn't have. I withdrew within myself.
Ii short, everything kinda felt like a shit show.
Luckily I had a wife that loved me and was willing to put up with me. I had a bit of a social net to fall back onto (Thank you unemployment checks), and I was able to pull myself together enough to just barely not fail any classes, as well as somehow get two competing job offers. Life didn't suck so much, but I felt more exhausted than I ever have.
Things turned out okay. I embraced summer along with embracing my new place of employment. I was lucky enough to get hired as a Software Engineer at Spark Networks. If the site's tagline wasn't enough of an indicator of what Spark does, I'm happy to elaborate. Spark Networks is a dating site company that manages powerhouses like Christian Mingle and JDate. I've been here for a few months and can say I want to be here for a while; its a great work environment and there is good work to be had. I've also had to do some quick learning here to get up to speed and I'm sure the job will continue to push me.
Thankfully, this fall I'm enrolled for 9 credits at my university. Its going to be a more mellow schedule. I'm just now starting to be okay with the idea of going back to school in the fall.
I'm getting my home in order. I recently nuked my room/living spaces of junk. I don't think my wife and I have done a deep declutter in the time that we have been married, so we had many things that we didn't want, need, or enjoy. I (finally) laid down some sod in my backyard. Everything is looking pretty decent!
I'm also just starting to get that fire back for side projects (hence the blog post). Its slow going. I think this is the first real side project-thing I have done since what happened a few months ago. Spring was hard and extinguished my fire quite a bit. But my core is stabilizing and I'm slowly working up to being able to enjoy side projects/side learning again.
Things are good, and they're getting better.
Sorry about falling off the face of the Earth, sorry about the wall of text/pictures above, and thank you for reading!