the POST finale

Today was my last day with the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST as it’s known internally. On Monday I’ll be starting a new job at the California Department of Education.

My final day at POST was like most endings in my life so far– anticlimactic. I spent the early part of the day filling out my exit paperwork, then I spent a few hours wandering around shaking hands and saying goodbye to the people I’ve worked with. That’s probably what I’ll miss most about this job, the people. Because it’s such a small organization it’s almost like an extended family.

The work itself I won’t miss too much– Initially I really enjoyed it, and it was something that I wanted to try my hand at. I was hired on as a web developer, and because the agency is pretty small I was able to do a variety of things as a web developer, from graphics design to database administration to programming and even some photography. At least that’s how it was initially. But towards the end of my time there I was almost a pure programmer/developer, which I found I didn’t enjoy as much. I found that I enjoyed working with databases, and so I’m fortunate that I was able to find a job that works with data more. Starting on Monday I’ll be working in the data reporting office of the CA Department of Education.

I’m fortunate that I found a new boss that was willing to take a chance on hiring me as a database/report developer, even though I don’t have a whole lot of experience with databases or data reporting. And I’m fortunate that four years ago I found a boss that was willing to take a chance on hiring me even though I didn’t have a whole lot of experience in web development. Looking back I realize that I’ve been blessed in my career– I’ve always been blessed with great managers, and I’ve always been blessed in being able to find a job in something that interests me, even though I might not have all the qualifications on paper. I’ve found that what I like most is learning, and I’m lucky that every job I’ve had has been a great learning experience, even though sometimes I learn what I don’t like doing.

kid’s day

Today my work had it’s annual kid’s day. This was my first time seeing it, since I was out on vacation last year. I was expecting it to be super boring, just a bunch of bored kids sitting in their parent’s cubicle. Instead I found that my work has just about the most awesome kid’s day imaginable. My work deals with a lot of law enforcement agencies, so they were able to bring in some local agencies to do demonstrations for the kids.

Folsom PD brought in their mounted horse unit. One thing I learned. Don’t stand behind a horse. It smells back there…

The Sheriff’s department brought in their bomb robot.

The SWAT team even brought in their armored truck.

The K9 unit brought in two of their dogs, a German shepherd and a Dutch shepherd. I’ve always been scared to get near a K9 police unit, but found that the dogs were super friendly. They couldn’t do any of the normal tricks, like shake hands or roll over, but that’s totally fine because they can do awesome tricks like take down suspects and sniff out drugs.

I was by far the biggest kid there, but I still had a ton of fun.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Law Enforcement Officers– The men and women who put their lives at stake for public safety.
  • My job. Sometimes I think it’s really boring (well actually it is, because I’m just a computer geek)– but at least the agency I work with does some cool and useful stuff.

eight times five

For about a year and a half I have been working a four-ten schedule, meaning I work four days a week, ten hours a day, and get an extra day off. Up until now that day off has been Friday, but I decided to switch it to Monday.

There’s a couple of reasons why I figured Mondays off are better. First, there’s the advantage of never having to wake up early on a Monday. It provides one extra day to recover from the weekend. Second, any Monday holidays get banked as floating holidays, which I can basically use as an extra vacation day. This is the main reason why I’m switching to Monday– I used up a good chunk of my vacation days last year, and I want to save up as many as I can to try and travel internationally sometime this year. And third, Monday seems like a better day to run errands. On a lot of the Fridays I had off, I’d run errands like going to the car dealer for scheduled maintenance. Apparently Friday was their busiest day. I’m hoping Mondays will be less crowded.

Anyways, because the Monday and Friday fell within different months this week, I had to work all five days this week. But on the plus side that meant getting out while the sun was still pretty high in the sky. I ended up taking advantage of it by biking into work on Tuesday. I had actually had my bike ready and my panniers packed, ready to go for a ride to work since the beginning of the year. I had been planning to bike in at least once a week, but I’ve been lazy. But with gas over $4 a gallon, it starts making more sense to ride in. I just need to find a way to haul my butt out of bed…

Today I went for a short jog at McKinley park after work. I don’t especially like running, I mostly run when I’ve eaten too much during the day. Today I felt obligated to run because I had buffet with coworkers at Mizu. It’s actually quite nice running at McKinley park. I might do it more, even without eating buffet. I guess part of the reason why I don’t like running is because I run towards the end of the day, under cover of darkness. It’s actually not so bad when you’re running during the day through cherry blossoms and sleepy ducks and swans.

On a completely random, unrelated note… I saw the Google self driving car this week. On Wednesdays I’ve been going to a bible study in Sac, this week we met at Happy Corner, which is right next to Akebono. The driver of the car came out when he saw us standing around the car taking pictures (with our Google Android phones). He was pretty cool, he talked to us about the technology behind the car and random stuff, even though we probably interrupted his meal.

So anyways, this week was a nice change. Getting off early was nice. But I’m looking forward to going back to four-tens and having Mondays off.

Things I am thankful for:

  • flexible employment
  • Vibram five finger running shoes
  • bike lanes
  • Google super engineers
  • bible study buddies

twelve pounds

My work has a holiday tradition called the twelve pounds of Christmas. For twelve days there’s a potluck every work day leading up to Christmas, except for one day off for the annual holiday party (which is a buffet.)

My work is organized into different bureaus, and each day a bureau brings in food for the entire office. So basically you bring food in one day and chow down for the rest of the days. For some reason this year it seems almost like a competition, with each bureau trying to outdo each other.

The potlucks used to be held in the upstairs meeting room, but for some reason this year they moved them to the downstairs meeting room, which is at most ten feet from my cubicle. Willpower comes a lot easier when you have to climb a flight of stairs to see the food. This year the food is basically in front of my face, and I can constantly smell it, so willpower is in short supply.

Yet somehow, up until this week I was able to stay away, just nibbling here and there. But on Monday things changed when the potluck got cranked up another notch. Somebody started cooking bacon in the meeting room. The smell and sound of sizzling bacon was intoxicating. They should have laws against cooking bacon in the office because I’m pretty sure productivity drops to zero when the aroma of cooked bacon wafts through the office.

Today things got even crazier. Somebody brought a chocolate fountain in. Best invention ever. I started off slowly, eating a few pieces of fruit dipped in chocolate. But later somebody brought in doughnuts, marshmallows and rice krispy squares. “I’m already in this, might as well go big…” I thought, as I drenched a doughnut in chocolatey goodness.

I guess by go big, I meant stomach go big.

identity crisis

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been at my job for six months already. To mark this momentous occasion I ordered business cards. It seems kind of wasteful because I have a box full of business cards from the previous person who had my position. The position is the same, as well as the phone number and fax number, so technically I could just cross out the name and email address and use them. And in truth I don’t really meet with external customers often, so I wouldn’t really hand them out often.

I left my old job because I wanted to get away from technical support and server administration and do something more mentally stimulating. My job at CalPERS was cool and all, and the people and facilities were awesome, but it wasn’t all that interesting to me. At times it felt like a glorified version of Geek Squad. There were some days when all I did was stupid stuff like replace keyboards and tell the user to reboot the computer (that fixes 90% of computer problems).

I wanted to try my hand at web development, since I did it on and off as a hobby. But since I didn’t have much actual work experience in it, except for one summer internship during college, I didn’t get much response from employers. So I was pretty blessed to get my job here. Not only did they hire me without much work experience, they paid to send me to training. I guess I should have been more thankful, but I was greedy, already thinking about the next step in the career ladder. I didn’t expect to stay at this job long, I planned to just stay until I found another job that paid higher somewhere else.

Looking back, all the jobs I’ve had have been a blessing. I’ve had some pretty awesome ones. The first job I had right out of high school was as a video game tester, a dream job for almost any guy. I can honestly say that I’ve never had a crappy job. I didn’t really realize that until I looked back and thought about all my blessings.

We are all blessed in many ways, but we often don’t realize it. Instead we are greedy, always wanting more, never content with what we have. I think a lot of our life is controlled by our attitude. I read this quote this morning that sums up what I’m trying to say better than I could have.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.
-Charles Swindoll

And so I guess that leaves us with a sort of identity crisis. Do we want to be known as a cynical, negative person? Or do we want to be positive, upbeat and encouraging? We have that choice each day.

personal daze

For the past few months I’ve been working a 4×10 schedule. That means I have to be at work at 7:30 in the morning and I don’t get off until 6:30 in the evening. Including travel time that means that I basically spend 12 hours at work every day. Sometimes those long days are brutal. But the upside is that I get a three day weekend every single week.

Originally I chose this schedule so that I could be productive on Fridays, using them to travel or go play outdoors or work on the house or do volunteer somewhere or work on some of my half baked projects. I especially wanted to work on those half baked projects, because they’ve all been stagnant for a long time.

I have a food blog that I’ve been wanting to relaunch for at least the last three years, a motorcycle that’s been needing a carb cleaning and possible engine rebuild for about six months, two mountain bikes that have been sitting in my house in pieces for the entire winter season, and a front yard that’s been slowly turning into a tangled mass of weeds for the past year. In addition I’ve been wanting to volunteer at a soup kitchen on Friday mornings and start training hard for the century rides and the ridiculous two hundred mile Seattle to Portland bike ride that I signed up for.

So yea there’s a lot that I could and should be doing on Fridays, but the reality is that I’ve been really lazy. And of course the rainy weather hasn’t helped. I have been able to travel a bit and go outdoors a few times, so I guess it hasn’t been a total bust.

This weekend I actually got a good chunk of yard work done. Last year I ripped out the lawn in my front yard, but neglected to cover it, so for the past year my yard has been growing into a tangled mass of weeds. So it ended up being a wasted effort, looking even worse than it did before. Over the past year I’ve been looking at Craigslist for free landscaping materials and have been slowly accumulating stuff to redo my yard. (Yes, I’m cheap and landscaping stuff is surprisingly expensive.)

Cheapness is sometimes a good thing though, especially when it can motivate me to get off my butt. That’s what happened this past Friday. The weekend before I found a load of mulch on Craigslist. It ended up being from a really nice lady in west Davis. She called me in the morning and said she had another truck load for me. Awesome. The problem was the load I got from her last weekend was still in the back of my truck. So to get that second free load I ended up pulling all the weeds in my front yard, laid down weed fabric, bought edging at Home Depot to create a border, and emptied a truckload of mulch into the area. It actually came out looking pretty decent, and didn’t cost me too much.

My front yard is a lot bigger than I thought, so I have a pretty big area that I don’t know what I’m going to do with yet. Hopefully I can find some more free materials to fill up this blank canvas. I do want a couple of fruit trees, I’ll probably plant them in containers. The rest is kind of up in the air. I’m hoping I can find some nice free pea gravel or quarter inch ginger rock for the path areas, but that’s probably not going to happen. At the very least I hope I could keep up the momentum and keep these Fridays productive so this project can eventually finish, even if I have to spend some money and buy rocks.

musical fruit

Today my work had their annual Halloween costume party and chili cook off. I was planning to be my usual boring old party pooper self, planting myself in my cubicle while the festivities went on in the conference room upstairs. At random I got a call asking if I wanted to be a chili judge. So I decided ,”Why not?” It’s not often that you get a free meal.

There were twelve entries this year. They were all decent, and some were incredibly good. I was quite impressed. My favorite two were actually pretty light, both used chicken instead of beef or pork, and both were pretty light on the beans.

Speaking of beans, did you know that they are the musical fruit? Apparently the more you eat, the more you toot. My limited experience on the matter confirms this to be true. Now I am back at my desk, waiting for the musical symphony of toots to begin.

OK so this was a pretty pointless post. I actually have a lot of stuff on my mind lately, but they’re all kind of in a jumble so I haven’t really been feeling like writing. Perhaps when I gather my thoughts together I will write something better.

gender equality

I am all for gender equality. That is why on casual Fridays (or casual Thursdays when there’s a furlough Friday) I wear flip-flops to work. I figure if women can get away with wearing those platform shoes that are basically glorified sandals, I should be able to get away with wearing sandals or flip-flops to work occasionally.

fist bumps

Our friendship started off in probably the worst possible way. I think it was my first or second month on the job. It could have been a hangover or it could have been some spoiled leftovers that left my stomach feeling queasy that morning, I don’t remember. But I do remember having the sudden urge to puke. I made it all the way to the bathroom, but didn’t quite make it to the stall, throwing up in the last sink before the toilets and clogging it completely.

I decided to be responsible and notified facilities. A little while later I had to go to the bathroom again and saw the janitor cleaning up my mess. I remember feeling really bad about the mess and apologizing to the janitor. He gave me a fist bump and said,  “Don’t worry about it, hope you feel better.”  Over the next two and a half years, whenever we passed each other in the vast hallways at CalPERS, he would greet me with a fist bump.

It’s funny how sometimes you don’t need to say much to be encouraging. Sure we would talk sometimes, about weekend plans, or about the weather, typical small talk stuff. But what really spoke to me was that almost daily fist bump. It encouraged me to have a better attitude towards work, to be more cheerful and thankful.

Today was my last day at CalPERS.  To the many people who I’ve worked with and learned from over the years I sent an email thanking them. To a handful of people I shook their hands and said farewell in person. To Alejandro it was one last fist bump, a handshake, and a thanks.

beginning of the end

It’s the beginning of the end, but with the end comes a new beginning. It’s my final week at CalPERS before starting a new job in web development at another state agency.

I still remember the first time I stepped foot at CalPERS Lincoln Plaza. I remember parking in the garage and then walking up the stairs around the glass tower thinking, “What is this place? The building is crazy…” Since I worked in field service before, I had visited a lot of corporate campuses. If you name a Fortune 500 company, chances are I’ve been at one of their locations to fix a computer there. A lot of these companies had really cool buildings, but still there was something special that stood out about this building that made me want to work here.

It’s almost three years later and I still think there’s something special about the work environment here. The environment is so relaxed, the facilities are awesome, and the people are all really cool. I will definitely miss working here.