Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Please read my last post

because this could happen to you. 

This is after I'd crawled back from in front of the car and had laid over the bike. The Paramedics are trying to check if I'm conscious, had all of my fingers, and if anything was broken.

This is the actual impact location. The bike is in about 60 or so pieces. you can see the windscreen (which was inches from my face) in the middle of the image. 

This motorist wasn't paying attention; he didn't see me. The glare wasn't in his face, the sun in his eyes, raining or anyting... It was a beautiful day. 

This is what happens when you don't dedicate 100% of your attention to the road and your surroundings. 

Paramedics who took me to the hospital said that the gear I had spend all the extra money on had probably saved my life, along with the MSF course training. I think it was that and the grace of God; very rarely does anyone walk away from 1 motorcycle accidents, let alone two in the same day. 

From the accident I recieved:

Road Rash on my Elbow
Road Rash on my Knee
Swollen Knee
Swollen Hip
Swollen Ankle
Swollen lower back
Soreness/discomfort beyond measure. 

this is miniscule compared to what COULD have happened. 

Please... pay attention. Look twice, save a life. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Look twice, Save a life!

This is more of a rant post than anything else... but bear with me ;) 

LOOK TWICE, SAVE A LIFE!... and *GET* *OFF* *THE* *CELL* *PHONES*.  Pot meet Kettle, right? Well, I've tried to quit talking on the cell while driving (as much), and I only email if I HAVE to while driving now... someone drifting into your lane (with you on a bike) wil quickly change your perspective on things I guess.

Couple of stats for you:

2003 US Statistics:
Total Number of Vehicle Related Fatalities : 42,643
Total Number of Firearm Related Fatalities: 29,296

On average, 102 people die on US Roadways each day. 

Vehicles cause more deaths than firearms (criminal use and accidental discharge) in the U.S. consistantly every single year. 

I don't think people grasp the concept of how dangerous driving can be; you're actually operating one of the most deadly inventions created in modern history (looking @ total deaths caused globally). It's a 1-ton piece of steel being hurled down the interstate at 70+ mph... operating something like this should require you're full attention constantly.  Instead, we talk on cell phones, put on makeup, mess with Navigation systems, dig through purses etc... which drastically reduces our focus on the road and other vehicles around us. Couple that with basiccharacteristics of a vehicle (blind spots, stability and speed)... and you've definitely have a potential for disaster.  Everyone, I think, assumes that since they've been operating a vehicle for such a long time that they're essentially invincible... they've made it this long, right?  I'm sure some of those 102 people who die each day thought that same thing. 

Get your focus on the road; the text / call / email can wait till you can pull over. This is a hard habit to get into doing but it's SO MUCH safer.

We all see people doing stupid stuff on the road... drifting in and out of their lanes, missing exits, crossing 5 lanes of traffic, cutting people off, riding bumpers, speeding; but your perspective changes when you go from a 1-ton steel cage to a 316lb fiberglass frame because you're a lot more vulnerable to other people's mistakes. Also, having a much smaller visual signature and profile, Motorcyclist have to deal with not being seen most of the time. The MSF course teaches you to always assume that you're invisible.. and 95% of the time that is true because car drivres typically don't check their blindspots when changing lanes / pulling into traffic. If motorists would simply follow the basic driving instructions and look prior to changing lanes, motorcyclists safety would increase dramatically.

All of this just comes from observations from riding for the past 2 months.. of all the vehicles that have either cut me off, changed lanes INTO my lane, or pulled out in front of me.. I would say 75% were on a cell phone at the time. 

Look twice, save a life

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

P90X... geeez

Ok, so me and Jill got the P90X workout series from some friends at NWeds. For those of you unfamiliar with P90X, it's a acclaimed workout series that uses 'muscle confusion' to constantly be throwing something new at your body; this keeps plateau's at bay as well as muscle memory forming to impede progress... and it keeps the workouts interesting. Just like all 'as seen on TV' sort of informercial deals; there's always that tinge of  'these results are staged / photoshopped etc'... but we decided to give this a go, because there's a torrent of information about it online... from real people with Real results. 

So about me... I'm not in bad shape, I'm not in super great shape either. I've worked out in the past and decently kept my weight down. I use to run alot and do some stuff with weights; so I wouldn't consider myself too much of a workout - noob, or extremely out of shape... Body Fat wise, I don't know where I'm at (I suspect it's higher than I'd like) and weight wise I'm at 176 ( float between 165 and 180).  To keep you from having to go find a online BMI Calc... that's a BMI of 23.9.  In the two or so weeks that we've been pre-dieting.. I've dropped from 185 to what I'm at now, and that was with 'lighter' exercise and a semi-strict diet.

I'm taking "before" pictures tonight... and I'll be trying to document my progress here; and maybe if my 30 day pictures are up to par, I'll post the Day #1 pictures later ;) But me and Jill are going to really stick to this and record our results...

Diet - The meal plan is like that with any other diet... Minimize "bad" carbs (I'm trying to completely cut out all refined sugar) while intaking as much protein and water as possible. Eat 6 times a day to keep your metabolism up, and make sure to consume enough pre-workout calories so that you don't crash during the workout. My average day is going to look something like this:

Breakfast - Two pieces of sugarfree,  homemade bread (Jill makes this)
Mid Morning - Fruit (banana or apple) or Lite Protein Shake
Lunch - Grilled Chicken Salad from CFA w/lite Italian dressing or another shake 
Mid Afternoon / Pre workout - Fruit or Almonds / Peanuts
Post Workout - Protein Shake
Dinner - Grilled Chicken with some type of Vegtable

That should be roughly 1200-1300 calories per day, about 100g of protien or more, and less than 10g of sugar. 

Ok.. so given I'm not super out of shape or anything; I did the Back & Biceps video last night with the Ab Ripper X 15 min routine afterwards.  Kicked. My. Butt. Its not like working out at a gym, where you can take 3-5 minute breaks between exercises... it's a constantly moving, continuous motion routine where every exercise is utilzing (to some extent) both your biceps and back muscles... and I'll be honest; I wasn't able to finish every exercise (finish = the number of reps they were doing). I was shooting for 8-10 reps of each exercise, but sometimes could only do 5... I had no idea that there were so many different bicep exercises. Afterwards, with the Ab Ripper video... I had a really hard time with it, because so many of the exercises rely on building your hip flexors; which unfortunatly, i have almost 0 strength in (primarily because of the hip surguries), so many of the exercises I was only able to do 8-12 reps (instead of the 25) cause my hip would be hurting. 

Anyways... so there's all that. I'm going to be giving this the proverbial 110% (even though thats not possible) everyday for 90 days, and then post up my results. I'm going to try and use the blog and Jill for accountability (who doesn't need help there; skipping a day is way to easy) to make sure that I exercise everyday thru 90 days as well as eat right. 

For More information on P90X:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day 3 - Philly

Today started classes hard and heavy. 

This morning started with a breakfast and networking session bright and early at 7:30. This was a lot of fun... I sat with some guys from a couple different North East CU's and a vendor or two. I'd been at the bar the night before with one of the vendor's, so he was pretty cool and wasn't very 'sale-y' which was nice. After breakfast we went to the primary ballroom, where the Official conference welcome was held and Symitar presented their items. Even though this isn't a Symitar sponsored conference (like the SEC), Symitar still makes an appearance since there's about 120 of their clients represented.  They talked about a lot of the upcoming changed we'll be seeing in our two 2009 released, which a lot is the result of user submitted requests from 2007 and 2008; which is really really nice. There's a nice big Card (ATM / Debit) creation solution going in, free of charge (yippee!!), that will resolve a lot of Credit Union's convoluted debit card ordering processes. For example, I've worked for a year to clean the junk and crap out of our Card Ordering program, and printed we're still sitting at a 170 or so pages. It's a NIGHTMARE to edit... the room busted out in Cheers whenever they announced this change. 

After that we saw a small break, where I went and got some coffee to settle in for the day full of classes. My first two classes were symitar-put-on classes talking about a massive upcoming project that its going to completely reorganize the way symitar handles Member Name and Address records, and its going to be an epic undertaking.... we're talking a year and a half minimum, and thats if everyone buys into it. This is THE topic of this conference; everyone's talking about how they're going to go about cleaning their database to get ready for this. I ended up sitting next to the SVP of Operations for Members Choice CU; a Philly based CU thats about $1.1Bil in assets and talking to him about their upcoming 2-to-4 digit conversion, database cleaning and our solutions for another project they're about to start on. I didn't know at the time that he was with MemChoice, but I ate dinner last night with 2 Project Managers from MembersChoice who were real impressed with me and stuff... then they ended up walking up on the conversation he and I were having, and after formal introductions and stuff... I ended up eating lunch with them. It was really cool and we all kind of picked each others brains and stuff.. talked about how we were going to go about getting ready to do this big address project; and then some out of stuff work (talked about Vacations, I talked about Italy and mah lovely wife... etc). They run a 40 person IT shop and were extremely impressed with all the products and services our IT department supports with just 5 people; not to mention all of the inhouse customization and project management we do. He ended up giving me his card and saying if I ever find myself in the Philly area or wanna move up to the big leagues, to give him a call... 

The sessions were chock full of soem great information... since it's just me going, I've maade sure to keep really good notes so that I can pass them to gene whenever I get everything consolidated tonight... I think I've got about 12 Hand written pages of notes! 

Networking with people, I'm finding that EVERYONE is cutting expenses, which has a drastic effect on IT. When you look at a balance sheet.. our department is usually #1 at the top of the list for spending money... we're earn the Credit Union / FinInst intangible benefits, so we've got a lot of value, but asset wise we do nothing but spend money. Technology... despite the Newegg and TigerDirect emails, isn't cheap. So its interesting to see that everyone's Travel and Conference budgets are being cut, but yet the vendors still haven't mitigated their prices in light of the current economy. OpCon's scheduling product is _still_  $19,000.00 witha  4K annual service fee... which is absurd. Symitar is still pushing $30,000.00 solutions like there's nothing wrong with asking a Credit Union that just got slapped with a 1.5Mil un-planned for expensese to pay 30K for a luxery application... I don't get it. 

Tonight there's a group event that I didn't sign up for... the tickets were $50 a piece, and I really didn't feel like it'd be that good of a time (I wish I would have signed up now though). It's an 'American Band Stand' themed dinner in one of the Ballrooms. I think instead I'm just going to go grab a chicken salad or something and come back up to the room and work. 

Speaking of dinner choices... I've done bad on my diet =(  They've just thrown and thrown and thrown the food at us; and you can only say no to fresh zitti with mushrooms and meatsauce once or twice... third times the charm. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Day 2 - Philly

Day 2 is a lot less exciting that Day 1..

Technically the conference "starts" today, but really it's just registration, checkin and a vendor showing tonight; classes and conference Jazz starts tommorrow. There was some optional training this morning at another CU, but I didn't go to it because of transportation and cost. So today is just a hang-out in the room kind of day. 

I was going to go to the mall; but it's pretty dreary out.. it's about 40 degrees and pouring rain, so I don't think I'm going to weather the shuttle out to the mall... I'll probably just grab me something quick to eat at the bar downstairs and come back up to the room. 

yesterday we had a couple of power outages at the CU (go go Generator Justification) and that caused some delayed problems thru this morning; so I've been working since I got up. It's been a long kind of morning. 

So that's pretty much Day 2 in a nutshell.. it's just working, but from a Hotel in King of Prussia. Excitement abounds! 

Meet and Greet Edit:   Last night was fun... I sat at a table with Two porject managers from Member's Choice CU, a Symitar programmer from Missouri Fed and a IT Manager from AmeriChoice (who are converting to Symitar in November). Had fun talking about things that our CU has done vs. what others have done. We're pretty far ahead of the curve, despite our size and small IT staff, and everyone had questions about implementation time, project lead time and costs. We talked about random, personal stuff too... one of the project managers was recently married and she was talking about her Honeymoon (they did a mini-moon and big honeymoon too), so then we talked about Italy, everyone asked what it was like etc... the other PM from MembersChoice had two kids and she was talking about the cost of tutition, and the Guy from AmeriChoice's son looked about going to Georgia Tech... so it was cool to get to know some people and get some contact information for future projects and all that good jazz. 

The food was really good and CuTek gave out free drink vouchers... so I had a Beer and a Scotch on the rocks. Afterwards some people went to the bar to hang out... most people peetered out early though; so I had a beer and talked with a couple of guys from PA credit unions and talked about the Phillies and Football in the North vs. Football in the South.. and then headed up stairs to call it a night...

EDIT: I've actually got a lot more to add about Day 2; the Meet 'n Greet was last night and that went really well. I've got a couple of sessions today since today is the first 'real' day of class. I'll update Day2 and do a Day3 Journal later on tonight. 


Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 1 - Philly

So, this morning started off bright and early at 4a.m. Got up, took showers and got dressed, then said goodbye to the small ones... warning them if they gave Jill any trouble, there'd be hell to pay. I double and tripple checked all of my goods, piled them into Jill's car then we headed out.

Jill and I had decided we'd go eat breakfast together at the ever-healthy Wafflehouse before heading to the airport... so we went and had some Hashbrowns, eggs and bacon. It was good, and it gave us some extra time together. We drove thru the dreary rain until we finally hit Hartsfield. It wasn't raining extremely bad, but I was really worried about Jill driving home (she doesn't drive good in the rain), but I tried to not let it show that I was worried ;) We said our teary-eyed goodbyes, then I headed into the Airport... to go wade thru security, departures and baggage all by mahself.

Security - I got "randomly" selected for additional screening; but it was random my-butt. In the line there were 13 people, 12 of whom were African-American (all of the TSA staff was African American as well). So I have to pull off to the side, empty my pockets of everything ('including lint' - his words) and get patted down and step into some crazy vertical MRI-esque machine to be rescanned. Everything apparently checked out clean and I was able to go to my departure gate... At departure, I just sat there and listened to the IPod (downloaded a couple of free app's for the flight) until my zone was called.

Flight - They should've stenciled "Vomit Comet" on the side of our plane. I'll give Capt'n Buttface McGeee (our pilot) the benefit of the doubt that the weather sucked at Atlanta. He still threw us around like.. I don't know what. I think he must have JUST gotten his Junior Flying license this morning, cause our take-off was like some kind of sick joke.. but it was beautiful compared to our landing. We had a couple people in our plane, I think, get sick and charged for the bathroom. While the weather might have been an excuse for our pilot getting off the ground; Philly was a brisk 35 degrees with little to no wind... there's no reason our plane should have *bounced* when it hit the ground.; Buttface McGee was screaming down the runway too, and just about Jerked us all thru the windshield with as much brakes as he had to use to get us to stop. (even one of the stewardesses made the 'wheeeeeeeeew' face).

Philly Airport - Philadelphia smells like an armpit; there I said it. The airport was nicer than La Guardia, but not as nice as Harts-Jacks. I sat around in the airport for about 45 minutes waiting on the shuttle... everyone seems pretty nice; but everyone's just going about their own business, doing there own thing. It didn't seem too dirty or anything though. My shuttle finally arrived and I met Frank. Frank was a really cool, down to earth, no BS kind of guy... he loves Philly, and told me if I went North of Philly to buy crack, that I might get shot; Always a good tip. Frank told me all about the history of Philadelphia and how now was a good time to be a Phillies fan. After about 15 minutes of hearing about Ben Franklin and the World Series Parade, we picked up Henry at the Amtrak station. Henry was an awesome guy; he was in the mortgage broker business for 17 years, but with all the recent stuff he's closed his mortgage business and now works for AT&T's Business-to-Business group. We had a really good time talking about all the crap going on, with not only mortgages, but the housing market, insurance... everything. Had a really good time and it made the time pass really quick.

Hotel - The Raddison is right on the outskirts of Valley Forges Natl. Park, which is pretty.. and about 3 minutes drive from the King of Prussia mall (2nd largest mall in the country). Unfortunately though, that's all thats around here. The room is pretty nice.. I mean, hotel rooms and fairly standard, right? This has a SleepNumber bed though, which is cool. I'm on the 11th floor and my balcony looks over the front courtyard / entrance. It's not bad really.. there's, 3, I think, restaurants in the hotel, so that'll give a little variety.. I'll probably go to the mall and find a restaurant for dinner though. I already saw a Ruth's Chris, Magianno's, Cheesecake Factory and Chilli's... and the hotel apparently runs a shuttle every 30 minutes to the Mall.

Anyways; that wraps up everything so far from this morning. I'll try and post up a couple of pictures of the room or something in a little bit!

5:30 update - so my laptop won't play WAR; this is gonna be a reeeeally boring week =/

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

...and Greg got a terribly, awful idea....

So my friend at work, Chris, is out getting some certifications for two weeks... 

Around CUofGA we take work very serious... but we take our practical jokes and office pranks just as serious. We've:

Found a dead rat and attached it to a car
  1. Filled an office with 900 inflated trash bags
  2. 100% covered an office with post-it notes
  3. Zip tied everything in an office
  4. held stuffed animals hostage
  5. decapitated replica's of said stuffed animals when ransom wasn't paid
  6. Rigged batteries to pass an electrical current through a desk-drawer handle
  7. gutted entire computers
  8. parted-out a desk and placed the pieces at different places in the branch
  9. parted out a desk and placed the pieces at different places at OTHER branches
  10. Put vaseline on keyboards/mice/phone recievers
  11. Removed all the inksleeves/internals from all pens on an entire floor
Just the other week, when I came back from Italy... all of my desk drawers were filled with packing peanuts... packed to the top; like I said... we try to have fun here =)

So anyways... Chris.  He's gone for two weeks.... two loooooong, grueling weeks:

3 rolls Blue Painters Tape
400 Sq. Ft. Plastic Cling Wrap
200 Sq. Ft. Aluminum Foil
1 roll Clear Packing Tape
30 Magnetic Data Backup tapes (300 yards of 1" magnetic tape each)
1 Mousetrap
1 Empty 1 gallon Milk Jug
2 Bags multicolored confetti
1 bag multicolored glitter
1 spool fishing line
1 small mouth-funnel
1 Old Beanbag (large)

1) Take Blue Painters tape and cover all flat surfaces of desk, including all objects on top of the desk (Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse, Phone, Individual Pens, Scissors, etc)
2) Wrap Plastic cling wrap around all Taped Surfaces, at least 2 layers thick. 
3) Follow the Plastic wrap with Aluminum fo
il, giving the desk and all objects on top of the desk the 'shiney new desk' look
4) Fill 1 over-desk storage compartment with shredded magnetic tape; close front-door and lightly tape to ensure the door remains closed until pulled
5) Tape up any holes or openings in 2nd over-desk storage area, ensuring a tight, leak-free fit. 
6) Close and tape door to storage area #2, securely tape (you'll see why)
7) Place funnel at screw-hole opening on top of Over-desk Storage area#2... empty entire contents of bean bag into funnel, down int
o sealed storage area. 
8) remove any traces of tape securing the door as to be unsuspecting
9) Above desk chair, remove ceiling tile, cut a 1" hole just big enough for the milkjug top to fit into. 
10) place glitter and confetti into Milk Jug, loosly place a sheet of paper overtop
11) Connect 1 end of fishing line to the back of a closed-desk drawer
12) run the fishing line discretely up the wall into the cieling. 
13) Connect the fishing line to the catch mechanism of the mouse trap, ensuring that the line is sufficiently pulled tight when the drawer is closed
14) from the trap mechanism, tie a length of fishing line long enough to reach the cieling tile above desk chair. 
15) Gently but quickly, flip the milk jug upside down (with the paper over the opening of the jug)  and place it into the cut hole. 
16) place the Jug & Tile assembly into the ceiling and connect the paper with the loose end of the fishing line thats attached to the mouse trap. 
17 ) Wait. For. It. 


Been a busy couple of weeks

So, first post since the 26th... yikes.

We got the new server in and implemented on Saturday; the symitar tech who was sent out from california said it was one of the smoothest conversions he had ever been involved with. We did a *TON* of prep work, so he didn't have to... the conversion only took 2 hours (he was sent out here for 4 days, just incase).  Even though I know most who read this blog won't care... but:

We went from:

IBM RS 6000,  (1) 2.3Ghz PowerI5 Processor, 2048MB RAM,  6x74GB 15K SCSI Drives using a 80mm AME Tape Drive 


IBM Power6 510, (4) 4.2Ghz Power6 Processors, 8.6GB Ram, 6x350GB 15K SCSI Drives with a Ultirium LTO4 Tape drive. 

I ran a bunch of Stress tests on the Box yesterday.. transaction history searches, full DB queries... everything shattered what the old box could run it in. The big test was lastnight though... even after my big Streamlining project, our Nightly process that closes out each business day took 2hrs 11minutes consistantly.  Last night the new Box finished the entire process in 17 minutes.... that's a 87% reduction in downtime with one fell swoop. It's quite a nice feather in Tech Services cap, thats for sure. 

Jill was gone over the weekend to NC... and I missed her a TON. The house is very quite and boring without her. I tried to keep myself busy all weekend to not really have a ton of down time, but at night it was pretty lonely. I rode the bike a whole lot, went to the bday party, worked a good bit; but it was still really lonely all the time. It's going to suck next week when I go off for business to PA... I've got a conference I've got to go to in Valley Forge (no speaking about a product this time though, which is nice), where it'll be just me in PA.. my boss isn't going; so I'm gonna be really really bored. =(

Bike Riding.... Riding has gone really well, getting the hang of it a lot more, still learning new little nuances everyday. I've put over 1,000 miles on it since I got it, looking to put a lot more on it before winter ;) While Jill was gone I used it to take up some of my spare time... put 4 coats of wax on it, Adjusted my chain, cleaned my chain and sprocket, rode to Rome, rode around Kennesaw/Acworth/Cartersville/Woodstock. Trying to get accustomed to a new riding position (technically it's the 'proper' position).. make handling and carving corners phenominal, but it's an ab workout... 

anyways, more post later... gotta wrap this up and get to working.