On the Yellow Brick Road

Week 10 Back in Minnesota

This has been a particularly hard week for me after being back in Topeka for a whole week.  Between spending all the time with Trudy, Benjamin, and Catalina and coming back to a pretty stressful work situation I did not do so well.

Work has been hard this week.  The on shore team is still having trouble committing to getting anything done.  They are so gun shy about commitment.  Part of this is because they have been burned.  Part of this is because the development and test environments have been so poorly managed and out of their control (in the past) that it was impossible to get anything done.  Also they are having a hard time seeing that things are changing.  Incrementally the environments are getting better.  Functionality is getting tested.  The situation is getting better inch by bloody inch.

As for the house selling front we have taken a step backwards.  The carpet has to be removed in the basement.  It was stained by the minor flooding on Thanksgiving.  We have a $1000 deductable with our home owners insurance and it is unclear if we have any coverage at all.  So who knows if we will have to pay for everything ourselves.  Most likely the house won't go back on the market until after Christmas.

It also means that Christmas presents between us (Trudy, Ben, Catalina, myself, etc) will be slim to none.  There just is not any $s for it this year.  And I am ok with that myself.  I have all the stuff I need and will be happy just to be home with my family at Christmas time.

Finally the best thing about this week has to be the ongoing blessing that I receive from my friends Dale and Cindy.  The warmth of their home and love every day when I come to their home from work.  It makes the end of the day so much easier.  I don't know what I would do without them.  Thank God for Dale, Cindy, David and Doug Foster!  Please pray a prayer of blessing for them this Christmas season along with me.

Week 9 Back in Minnesota

I spent this week in Topeka KS with my family.  I was able to drive home on 11/20/2010 and spend the whole week with the family. 

Work was done via telecommuting.  Thank goodness for cell phones, VPN, and laptops.  And bosses who understand that work can be done without actually seeing people doing the work.  As for the work being done, the teams did a good job.  There were some issues but nothing that can not be over come this week with some conversations and coaching.

As for the home front we are all doing pretty well considering the strain of living apart. Benjamin and Catalina seem to be 'nitpicking' at each other more than usual. I think they are doing this to get additional attention because they don't have two parents to pay attention to them all the time.  I will have to do somethings to help pay more attention to each of them to help let them know that I care.

Trudy has been doing so much lately keeping the household running, keeping the house clean and ready for showings, and being mom and dad for Ben and Catalina.  She has been wonderful.

Thanksgiving day we had a surprise - part of the lawnsprinkler system broken and water poured down a window well into our basement.  Fortunately Ben saw the problem just about the time it started and I was able to shut the valve off quickly enough.  We were able to have a company come out and start the clean up effort within a few hours after discovering the problem.

By tonight the family room carpet & one wall is dry.  About 1/3 of the padding was removed.  We hope the carpet just needs to be cleaned and doesn't need to be replaced because of any staining.  The tool room is still a bit wet and hopefully will be dry soon.

Trudy is 'stuck' having to deal with the insurance company and the lawn sprinkler service company that was suppose to shut the system off by the 2nd week in Nov. but didn't do it.  As Trudy has been learning how to channel her anger lately, I think that lawn service is in for a rough encounter. .

Well it is time to crash for me.

Week 8 Back in Minnesota

I am so proud of my teams.  The offshore teams demonstrated they can not only get work done but they also showed they can know when to ask for help.  One of the teams realized they didn't understand something so they asked some very detailed questions of our business analysts.  We found out that if the team had just fixed the defect as it was described they would have actually broken the entire system.     Instead they showed great judgement by admitting to themselves that they didn't know everything and asked questions.

My onshore team did two really impressive things this week.  The first thing is they committed to completing the work they accepted for this sprint.  This is the first time they have every committed to completing anything.  By Friday, 1/2 way throught the sprint, they were almost done with everything they had committed to and were ready to accept more work.

Also midway through the week, one of the members finished a part of his work but went on vacation.  Another member decided to take the work and complete it.  That same member realized a related piece of work could be completed and he took on that work and completed it as well.  When he realized that he couldn't test on his system he asked for help and another member of the team picked up the work and unit tested it on his machine.  Then the business analyst checked out the result and said it was ready for test.    Talk about great team work.

My boss is starting to loosen his gripe on the team.  It is easy to 'talk Agile' but a lot harder to 'walk Agile'.  Part of walking Agile is letting the team self organize and decide on how much work they can take on in a sprint - even if upper management wants more.

The best part about this week is that I got to drive home on Saturday (11/20/2010).  I will be working from home this coming week.  Then I will be driving back to the Twin Cities on 11/27/2010.

It is great to be back in Topeka with Trudy, Benjamin, Catalina, Jack, Sergei, and Midnight.  It is good to have the comfort of home and people who love me.

On the house selling front there have been two open houses in two weeks and a number of house showings.  We all know it is a numbers game.  Eventually the right person will coming into our house and will decide this is their home.  Hope that person sees our home soon.


My friend Dale got his hands on two decommissioned Sun Fire v240 servers.  I ordered a couple SCSI hard drives to put into them.  We are going to be spending some time figuring out how to get them up and running.  And then I will spend time getting Apache, MySQL & PHP running on mine so I can run my website on it.

Week 7 Back in Minnesota

Week 7 ended with snow.  Not just a dusting of snow but a winter weather advisory.  I would say we got a good 4" to 6" of heavy, wet snow Sat. morning and all day long. 

I had a long tiring work week.  The team had a long tiring work week.  The US team did a good job slogging thru their environment problems but there are still many challenges to overcome.  This week I am going to have to challenge some of the status quo and set some boundaries with my boss.  I wonder how that will go .

Still missing Benjamin, Catalina and Trudy.  I did get to go home last weekend.  It was really nice to be home for a few days.  We all got to go to Catalina's flute concert.  She won the crystal flute that is given away every year by the professor who runs the flute choirs.  I am so proud of Catalina for her hard work as a musician.

Benjamin has been working hard on the debate team.  He is part of the novice debate team and is 'restricted' in that he has to use the research provided by more experienced debaters.  Also he hasn't had a consistent partner so that has limited the opportunities to gel with a team mate and win debates.  Hopefully as the season goes on things will get better for him on the debate team.

He did show me one of his monologues via Skype for drama and I was impressed.  He is a pretty good actor.   He is also turning into a good nerd because he noticed a problem with the Windows Home Server and let me know about it.  Which helped me fix the problem before it became a major problem.

Trudy has been doing everything to keep the household running and clean so it can be shown.  Plus as good as Ben and Catalina are they do have their moments as teenagers.  I know she could use the break from there 'misbehavior'.

As for myself I have been mostly just tired.  Hopefully this week I will have time to play my guitar and relax a bit at night.

I did got out to see a blues show last night and will post on that soon enough.

Also church at Redeemer Lutheran today was amazing.  For a congregation that does 'high worship' they know how to bring it 'down' (guitars, accordian, shakers, folk, jazz, violin) along with the best stewardship sermon I can remember hearing.

Week 6 Back in Minnesota

For six weeks I have been working at the new company and learning how things work there.  The job continues to go very well.  I think I am helping the teams get better at what they do.  It is hard to tell though.  A few members of the US team are very quiet (maybe even a bit sullen) and so it is hard to tell what they are really thinking.

The teams have been struggling with poorly designed, developed and deployed development, test and QA environments.  It just kills their productivity.  Fortunately it is getting better because my boss took charge of the issue and is getting a solution thru the system.

Living up here is harder than I thought.  At night I often eat by myself and spend quiet a bit of time by myself.  This week I didn't pick up my guitar at all because I was so tired (emotionally & mentally).  Dale & Cindy & their boys have been really great.  But it isn't the same as living with my own family.

I miss hearing Ben talk about sports and I hate sports.  I miss listening to Catalina play her flute.  I miss getting hugs from the both of them.  I miss seeing Trudy's smile in the morning when we get up.  I miss her hand in mine at night.

There really hasn't been any movement on the house and that is frustrating.  Who knows when it will sell.  Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Well it is about time to sign off and get ready to fly back to Kansas.