Thursday, October 14, 2004

Payment in Kind

So, it was an interesting day for me. Yesterday my manager asked me if I'd be interested in moving half time (remaining half time on my current project) to a project that involves a few architects, (at least) two new technologies and a visibility that absolutely dwarfs what I work on at the moment. Sometimes you get the immediate impression that something is probably what you should agree to if you ever want to move up in the company. This seemed to be one of those times. I asked a few questions, confirmed a few suspicions, said I'd think about it, and 24 hours later, even without saying anything else, there's an architect in my cube explaining that I can't read the book about the primary technology because it doesn't exist yet, I'm expected to be at 4 days of training with a Microsoft specialist immediately after my week of vacation, I might be headed south for a Microsoft project workshop, and handing me a chart that indicates that the (primary) second bit of technology is pretty much still in beta as well, although at least that one I've installed on one of my dev servers for fun, though I haven't actually touched it yet. I explained to Erik that if he was willing to put a positive spin on it I wasn't stabbing him in the back by bailing on our project as it was gearing up for a slew of new changes, but rather it was his chance for filling the void and moving closer to a promotion and that I wouldn't be any more absent than our old tech lead when she had her headaches. I'm pretty sure this is one of those situations where I get to work a whole bunch of extra hours for six months to nail down two positions - bad for my family life, good for my career - but at least at only six months I can reevaluate at some point and make sure I'm not abandoning my family entirely. The fact that it lends itself to familial abandonment means it must be a career-enhancing position as there's a shared joke about finding a mistress/mister in order to advance.

I also got a call today about an old project from my consulting days and issues about moving it to a new server. That in itself isn't interesting. What's interesting is that the guy who came to my cube to talk about the move saw my pictures of Lance Armstrong and started talking to me about bicycling - seems he used to race professionally - Tour of Flanders and all. We talked about Lance, his divorce, Tyler Hamilton, his dog and his doping (well, hyper red blood celling), etc. Very cool - you just don't expect to meet a former professional cyclist at work - it's neat and depressing at the same time. I always wondered if I should have been cycling instead of programming, and now I know I would have just ended up at West 20 years later than I did otherwise :)

Finally, I spent four hours (including travel) visiting Erik's house to look at his boiler with my friend Dan, the furnace man. Dan's specialty isn't boilers, but I thought he might be able to at least give Erik and Holly some sort of idea about what was wrong and what it might cost to fix it, or at least patch it until it needed fixing. He spent all sorts of time hitting the furnace with a hammer until it worked (honest - mostly I sat around drinking Summit and asking questions about whether it might make it until Summer) and then watching it while the pressure and temperature climbed and he bled the air out of the system. End result? Erik can pay $500-$700 for a new regulator system (as long as he doesn't get a furnace guy in there who might red flag his furnace with the city), or he can get a somewhat shady furnace/boiler guy in there for $3500-$5000 to chop it out and put in a new furnace, or he can get a standard guy in there for up to $10,000-$15,000 (possibly). These are things you don't want to hear right after you get a new house. His other option is to sit in the basement and keep the gas feed button pushed while the house heats up every night - ugh! Sounds like Holly might double check with her boiler friends (she looked downright paranoid), and Dan will refer them to his boiler friend, and they'll figure something out amongst all those options; but I'm sure it won't be cheap. I though it might be nice to offer them a loan either through Jen and I (partial portion as that's all I have after my flex plan gives me some money, no interest) or the LLC (just enough interest to cover the loan the LLC covers as a home loan) , but I'm pretty sure Erik will find a way to swing enough money/a loan with a family signature - I know I've always been a little careful about who I owe money to in the past. Just a note if he's reading this and needs a signature for some collateral or proof that his good faith is backed up by definitive assets from somewhere, I'm definitely game as a signatory - $5,000 isn't enough to break either me or the LLC if he drops dead.

Finally, as payment for working on the furnace, Dan got a 12-pack of Miller High Life and the joy of torturing Holly about how to turn off the main gas line. I love inflicting Dan on people. He just doesn't have good boundaries at all times, particularly after partaking of any part of a 12-pack of Miller High Life. I thought he'd be in big trouble, seeing as I got him home late (his wife went to high school with me as well), but her friend was still there, so I think that mitigates it a bit. I got paid in something infinitely more valuable, a really good story from Holly that Erik wasn't willing to share with our group in his discussion about vacation. Seems that when they were in Japan, Holly's sister took them to her classroom to show them off (Americans and all). When she was done introducing them, she asked if there were any questions. One traditionally-Japanese-school-girl-dressed teenage girl in a sea full of similar girls raised her hand and asked Erik in her Japanese-accented English, "Do you think I'm pretty?" At which all the other girls giggled with their hands over their mouths. g*ddamn stud.

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