Seems after gaining 2 lbs. while Colleen was in town, I was able to still drop a significant amount of weight this week. The weekly total this time around was 8 lbs., making my total since starting Jenny a nice solid 22lbs. For some reason I keep thinking my goal was 100lbs, but realized it was actually only 75lbs. Making this week only 3 lbs shy of reaching the 1/3 mark. Yep, that’s –almost one third of my goal in only 6 weeks! While I haven’t noticed ANY change in appearance or how my clothes fit, I AM fairly happy with watching the numbers drop… In fact I am finally back down to where I thought I was when I called to sign up for Jenny (turned out I was 25lbs heavier than I had thought). So that’s the news on the weight loss front for this week.
On the work front, I am finding myself writing in a way that is really messing with my brain. Due to some of the, shall we say, less than stellar articles coming out of one of my regional offices, I am facing a predicament of having to instruct a large number of support engineers as to what constitutes a GOOD FAQ or Technical Paper. As you can readily imagine, this can be a very esoteric concept since good FAQs for our complex software suites are typically more than the sum of their parts. Simply saying that an article needs to meet “x”, “y”, and “z” criteria isn’t cutting it. I have been forced to reject a number of documents submitted simply because they were insufficiently written, even though they met all the general criteria.
Because of this, I am working on a “user guide” of sorts to help try and educate my support engineers as to some of these less concrete concepts which combine to make a good FAQ. Imagine the mind-fuck that comes from writing an FAQ about how to write an FAQ, and you’ll understand the maelstrom swirling around in my brain. As Jean said to me last night after having given me a cursory review of my article, “It is very…. META”. Indeed it is.
I’m still not sure if this will do ANYTHING to help curb the problem I am facing. How DO you teach an entire group of people how to be good technical writers when that is not their goal or interest and English is not their primary language to begin with? Add on to that the cultural limitations which typically keep this group of engineers from thinking outside of the box and focused on following clearly drawn out requirements and process when they need to have a more conceptual understanding of a requirement which can’t be easily quantified, and you’ll begin to understand the difficulties my new responsibilities as Knowledge Manager bring with it.
On the civic service front, last night was my first session in the Washington County Citizen’s Academy. We had a good group of around 30-35 people participating in this class. After a general introduction to the Academy facilitators, and the stress inducing nature of having to introduce ourselves, we were greeted by the Sheriff himself. Sheriff Rob Gordon presented a good solid hour’s worth of overview regarding the Sheriff’s office and all the differing branches providing the various services to the public. Like the other facilitators, Sheriff Gordon is remarkably approachable and VERY proud of the office he serves as well as the people he has working for him.
Some of the highlights which I have to look forward to in the coming weeks of this 11 week program are:
Jail tour and ability to job-shadow a corrections officer for a shift
Hands on training for “Use of Force” including tasering a student
Canine demonstration with a student as “bait”
10 hour shift ride-along with a Patrol Deputy
And a multitude of 1 hour sessions covering all of the various programs and services provided by the Sheriff’s Office, including CERT team and SAR team demos.
This looks to be a VERY interesting and enlightening course and I am quite excited to be a part of it. At the very least it will give me a good insight and understanding as to how the Sheriff’s office is run and maybe even make some friends in the office. That can –never- be a bad thing, knowing how many speeding tickets I have received prior to moving up here Who knows, I may even find a job to fall back on if this IBM deal shakes things up more than expected…. Computer forensics would be a pretty cool gig…
On the travel front, I will be hopping on my motorcycle and riding 875 miles down to Santa Maria, California on Friday to attend a close friend’s bachelor party (Aaron for those that know him). That will make a nice 17-1800 mile round trip for the weekend. Due to work, I am only able to take one day off, so I will be leaving fist thing Friday morning, and returning late Sunday night to be back at work Monday morning. It will be a long (12.5 hours non-stop) and lonely ride, but something which I am looking forward to. While nervous about taking such a long ride solo, I DO have many hours of solo riding under my belt and have also done a 1k mile ride in 18.5 hours, so I know I can physically do the ride with ease. My real concern is the mental aspect of a long distance solo ride. At the same time, I am excited to do it as a bit of a test to prove to myself that I can do it. I have never done a solo ride longer than 350 miles, so this will be one of those things to check off a “been there, done that” on the list and know that I CAN do it.
I just received my stock seat back from Spencer (aka Frank Turnier) who modifies stock motorcycle seats for comfort, height adjustment, and long distance riding. Honda, for some reason, can not make a comfortable seat to save their company; a common lamentation from most every Honda owner I know. For half the cost of a custom Sergeant, Russell, or Corbin seat (shipping was EXPENSIVE) and only a two week wait time (it took a while to get it there and back, total time in Spencer’s hands was less than 24 hours, probably closer to 12) I got a fully modified stock seat lowered, foam shaved and shaped, and with gel inserts for long distance riding. So far, the seat is exceptional! This weekend will be the true test. We’ll see how my rear holds up to 1700 miles on the newly modded seat.
With the addition of a communications system on the bike which supports audio inputs from my GPS and iPod, I am hopeful that having a bit of music will make the day go by more quickly and assuage any loneliness which may creep up on the road. I should also be getting some driving lights via UPS tomorrow, though it doesn’t look like the switch I ordered will be here in time, so I may need to wait to install those until after the trip. Kind of a bummer since this ride would be a good test for those as well.
As for the bachelor party, I am really looking forward to this. Friday night will be hit an miss since I am bit sure exactly when I will make it into town, but Saturday should be unbelievably fun. Thus far it sounds like the day will consist of either wine tasting (never a bad thing in my favourite region for Syrahs) OR trap shooting. Hopefully we will be able to do the latter since this is something I have always wanted to try but never really had the opportunity present its self. Don’t get me wrong, wine tasting would be sweet, but when posed with the option, I’d like to try something new and exciting. After the day’s activity, it looks like we will find our way to either Oktoberfest, or to the Hitching Post for a nice hearty man-sized dinner to celebrate. More than anything, though, I am really looking forward to just hanging with friends and enjoying our time together.
Continuing with the travel theme, Jean and I will be driving down to San Francisco on Sept 28th for a Cuban pig roast as hosted by Fergus. I can’t tell you how much we are looking forward to this too; Jean even more so than me most likely since she hasn’t had the opportunity to visit with friends in the past few months since we moved like I have had. Since we are leaving after work on Friday and need to be back for work on Monday, that weekend will be quite a long one even though no extra time was taken off! That will also put my personal total mileage between the two September weekends around 3k miles; one third of that being on my motorcycle!
Then, in October we will be flying down to Santa Barbara for Aaron&Erin’s wedding, so that should give us a nice opportunity to hang with friends again. After that, we are pretty much holed up in Oregon until people come to visit, since time-off from work is becoming very difficult to come by. Looks like short weekend trips will be in order, which pretty much takes away any larger trips to SoCal. I am sure the parents won’t be too happy with that considering the holidays are on the horizon. Hmm… perhaps we could convince them to just come up instead of making us come down……
Ok, since I have begun writing in more stream of consciousness, I will conclude before I become incoherent…. Consider this the last post until I return from my weekend ride and have time to sufficiently recover next week.