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Thank You, Andy!

Hi Andy,

Thought I’d leave you a quick note as it is likely way past your bedtime as I write this.

Sunday was rough for me, as I expected it would be. But the pity party is over and I’m moving on.

I wrote a blog post here which describes what was going on in mind, maybe not to the fullest, but it covers the essence of my pain.

Thank you for checking in on me throughout the day. I greatly appreciate that. It means a lot to me. Sorry I wasn’t around to keep you company but hopefully you had a great time with the hubby and kids for Father’s Day.

This funk is something I go through almost quarterly. Kind of think of it as my “time of the quarter”. 🙂

Anyway, thanks for giving me the space I needed. Most of all…

Toodles,

Charles

 

A Solitary Father’s Day

So, as I sit here in a near empty Starbucks, sipping on a White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino, listening to some soothing guitar music by Adrian Legg, I reflect on the loneliness that is today – father’s day no less.

My son, is away in Taiwan visiting his maternal grandfather. His grandfather, my former FIL, was recently in a scooter accident and had been in ICU for some time so there is definitely good reason for my son to be there. But it doesn’t stop me from wishing he was here being his usual teen self, fixated on his mobile device and responding to my questions with one word answers like “good”, “sure”, “OK”, and “I dunno”. I can’t help but miss him. I’m sure he’d be having a Green Tea Frappuccino if he were here.

Today also happens to be my son’s birthday so that’s a double-whammy. I’ve been asking him for a  birthday wishlist for months and he hasn’t sent me anything so I’ll just have to pick something out for him. He doesn’t say much these days so it is hard to tell what he’s into. I guess with no communication from him, he’ll just have to enjoy whatever I get him.

Another issue that is making today feel a little less joyous, is that I’m having conflicted feelings about my own father. My dad passed away in Jan 2013. We didn’t have a terrible relationship or anything, but I never felt like he was someone I could consider a confidant. We never had those deep and meaningful conversations about life. Seemed like all of our interactions barely scratched the surface of anything worth remembering. I know he cared about me, and was always worried if I had enough money (even though I had a well-paying job and a relatively large house while he was alive).

When he passed away, I never cried – and this has been eating at me. I was not moved to tears for him when I saw him laying deceased in his hospital bed, during his funeral or as I reflected on our relationship any time after that. I think part of the reason for this is that I have been resentful of him for the way he treated my mom. In front of company, he was sassy with her but in a joking sort of way, but I knew he was much more of a jerk with her when no one was around – one of those very demanding old-school misogynists. I should have been more vocal toward him about my disapproval of his behavior with her, but I never lashed out at him.

That’s as far as I’ll go about all that.

Anyway, I’m struggling with my emotions today. And I’m coping with it the only way I know how – shutting out everyone around me. Ignoring texts/calls/emails, avoiding eye contact with people, anything I can think of to not burden people with my issues.

I really don’t have a bad life, but I sure do mope about what I don’t have far too much. I’ve got to find a way to not get in my own way of my own happiness so frequently.

I’m a work in progress.

Aren’t we all?

Poor Planning = Staycation

I have this horrible habit of taking time off work without having made any plans in advance. I definitely need the time off from work but I hate that these PTO days get wasted as staycations.

I will admit that I am a bit frugal when it comes to vacations so maybe I just need to loosen the purse strings and get out to some exotic island for once.

For this staycation, I had hoped to take some day trips 3 or 4 days out of the week to try some highly rated BBQ joints outside of Austin, TX. I had done this once before, during a previous staycation, but I did not document my adventures at the time, so I don’t recall which places I enjoyed most.

This time around, I got lazy during my first two days of the week so I went nowhere and binged on Netflix shows. I ended up working unexpectedly in the middle of the week for one day, but Thur and Fri were open and available to me. I managed to get out late on Thur so I didn’t want to risk driving for an hour and a half only to find the BBQ joint of choice sold out. (The good ones sell out by 1pm). So I told myself on Thur night that I would get out early for sure on Fri.

Didn’t happen. Well not quite anyway. I ended up leaving the house by 11:30, but didn’t have a hankering for BBQ as I was driving. Ended up at a Chinese buffet in south Austin.  Not a total waste, but disappointing in the end.

My next scheduled PTO is during my son’s spring break in March. I plan to meet with him in January so we can plan something together. Hopefully I’ll be blogging about the awesome time we had on that vacation.

Cheers

Microtip: Switching Between Browser Tabs

If you’re like me at all, you typically have multiple tabs open in your browser at any given time. After all, there is so much information to absorb from the internets, so some of us hope that a few kilobytes of data will sink in to our brains via osmosis. Right?

Well, there is an easy way to navigate through the multitudes of tabs in your browser without using your mouse.

CTRL-TAB

By holding down the CTRL key, then hitting the TAB key, you will be able to cycle through your browser tabs from left to right.

Oh you want to cycle through the tabs from right to left? No problem. Use CTRL-SHIFT-TAB to reverse the direction and cycle from right to left.

These shortcut keys are known to work in Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. Safari users, you’ll have to educate me as to what the equivalent key functions are in the Apple world.

Most people find that it is highly inefficient to constantly rely on the mouse to navigate on the computer so I do my best to find nifty keyboard shortcuts to streamline my workflow.

Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below! Also, feel free to let me know if you have suggestions for a future #microtip.

Cheers!

My Response to One of the Best Employment Survey Questions Ever!

So I had applied for a position as a Support Team Lead with a company called uShip a few days ago.

I received an email from them asking me to reply to a questionnaire  which included some typical thought-provoking questions you see in interviews and such. Well I plowed through the first 10 questions with relative ease, though my responses were in my typical verbose nature, by no means lacking in detail.

But the final question, number 11, really got me into some deep thinking. Here’s the question:

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

I could have easily rattled off one of my top 5 favorite songs of all time like Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” or “To Live Is To Die” by Metallica, or anything from Helmet’s “Aftertaste” album, or Adrian Legg’s “Irish Girl”, but none of those songs, although amazing in their own right, could not really be representative of my life.

So I had to dig deep through my playlists of favorite tunes on Rhapsody to find something suitable – and it took me nearly an hour to find something. I eventually settled on a song and here is my response:

Wow! This one had me thinking the most. All the other survey questions came pretty naturally to me.

First, I’m not a very lyrical person. I tend to listen to music for the instrumental complexities and rhythm. It’s why heavy metal, progressive metal, classical, and jazz appeal to me the most.

I don’t listen to much pop music as well. I mostly find that lyrics to songs tend to have a personal meaning to the composer and people can take bits and pieces that apply to their own lives. So their are a few songs that I identify with when it comes to certain aspects of my life.

But I’ve yet to find a song that perfectly encapsulates me as a whole.

As I combed through my playlists of various songs in my library, I settled on one song that I think comes close:
“Universal Mind” by Liquid Tension Experiment.

It’s a progressive guitar/rock instrumental song whose title is associated with the underlying theme of consciousness.
– The piece has several key and tempo changes, which to me reflects somewhat on my own journey through life (thus far).
– The sheer instrumental complexity of the song to me represents several facets of me as well, such as my consciousness, relationships, family life, etc.
– The piano interlude at 3:45 beautifully represents the birth of my son.
– The return to the main guitar riff at 7:00 represents the rebirth of my career and the new journey that will unfold before me.
– Finally, the circus theme at the song’s conclusion at 7:40 reminds me how I want people to celebrate my life when my time expires. I want to leave people with great memories and my only wish is that I have made an indelible mark on the lives of those who I’ve been fortunate to meet.

Great question!

If you care to take a listen to the song I’ve referenced, you’ll find it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEZC0ZJ1AW8

Sure, the response was long winded, but I didn’t feel right just tossing a song out there without some justification or explanation. I’m not sure how it will go over but it was an honest response.

What has been your favorite job search related question (from an interview or otherwise)?

When Will The Senseless Violence Stop?

I posted this message a few weeks ago in response to a friend’s FB post concerning this video series on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdb4XGVTHkE
In light of the recent mass shooting in San Bernadino, I figured I ought to post my thoughts in blog form.
 
—-
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
 
I think it ultimately boils down to the fact that we as a society have lost any sense of value for human life – life and nature in general, really. We’ve let man-made concepts like race, religion, politics, government, gender and sexuality (to name a few) consume us.
 
It’s hard for people to think in terms of a unified, global identity (humankind). We constantly look for ways to place ourselves into little boxes (compartments and categories) for reassurance and purpose. There’s a sense of comfort in thinking that way instead of looking at the bigger picture.
 
We’ve become desensitized when we hear about loss of human life, whether it is a tragedy in another country or in our own back yard. We don’t feel torn to pieces when these events occur unless it is really close to home.
 
Now certainly it’s unfair of me to speak so generally about people at large. Surely there are people who do get really torn up and emotional when they hear news of any loss of life, but I would venture a guess that most people’s reaction is “Whew, glad it wasn’t me or my friends/family or anyone I know”.
 
Unfortunately all I have to offer is my personal observation on the matter and I don’t have an immediate solution/suggestion to address the root cause.
 
Maybe we are beyond help. The larger a population is, the harder it is to unify said population toward a common cause/sentiment. Exactly how do we get everyone on the planet to value life and nature despite the differences we have in culture, traditions, religion, etc? Does the answer lie in breaking down those man-made, divisive constructs mentioned earlier which are seemingly tearing us apart as people?
 
I wish I knew how to solve the root question/problem, but something tells me this is an effort that we have to take on as a unified collective.
 
Peace

My Photography Journey – The Early Years

Photography has been one of those elusive hobbies for me. You know?

It’s one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do but never really invested the time and money needed to really get off the ground.

When I was laid off from my job in July 2014, I was suddenly afforded the luxury of time and funding to invest in a DSLR camera. Before I ordered a camera, I consulted with a couple of people who have photography experience and also watched several reviews and tutorials on YouTube.

I found YouTube to be a great resource for photography tutorials Some of my favorites are:

Tony Northrup YouTube Channel:

  • This guy produces great quality videos. Some are advanced but he has some great beginner videos as well. In most of his videos he promotes his e-book, so you just have to put up with a little bit of that, but otherwise he’s really great at explaining things.

Matt Granger YouTube channel:

  • This guy is one of my favorites. He has tons of how-to videos for shooting in various situations. In many cases he is using off-camera flash lighting, which you may want to explore at a later time. Many of his videos focus on shooting models and people.

Digitrev TV

  • This channel had some good tutorials but I grew weary of Kai’s sarcasm.

Jared Polin – Fro Knows Photo

  • Jared has some really great videos and I still go to the channel periodically to pick up some pointers. He tends to be a little too wordy at times so if you can bear with the fro and the banter, you’ll likely enjoy the material as well.

Though I invested countless hours in these and other tutorials, the only real way to learn is to get out there and start shooting. I eventually settled on a Nikon D3300 which is a nice entry level DSLR camera and placed my order in September 2014.

Like most beginner photographers, I used the automatic settings exclusively. After a while I became more comfortable with shooting in Manual mode (controlling all of the exposure settings) and in RAW format (the native format of the camera which gives you more options when editing the photos).

Here are some of my early shots:

DSC_1298DSC_1614scn_DSC_1240DSC_1079

Needless to say, it has been an extreme joy to explore the visual art of photography and I am happy I made the investment.

Stay tuned for more posts in the future about my journey. In the meantime, be sure to visit any of my photography pages:

Until next time friends!

Charles

Overcoming Your Introversion With Meetup.com

In late August of 2014, a friend and world traveler, Christina Canters, spent a week with me while she visited Texas for a couple of conferences.

As an introvert (INTJ), I was fascinated by some of the resources Christina leverages while she travels. Needless to say. I learned a lot from Christina while she was here. One gem in particular was the social site Meetup.com.

Meetup.com is a free website that truly puts the “social” back into ‘social networking’. You simply access the site and create a free profile. While creating your profile, you can list a number of personal and professional interests and the site will attempt to list meetup groups in your area that line up with your interests.

You can  choose to join as many groups as you like. Most groups I joined are free, though there are several groups that have optional or required member fees which can vary in cost and recurrence.

The member fees make sense since the person(s) who created and maintain a group generally have to pay up to $20/mo to keep the group active on the site.

Some groups are very active and schedule in-person meetups fairly regularly, while some groups schedule events less often. The great thing about it is that you are not required to go to every meetup. You can RSVP to the events that work best for you and your schedule.

I found 5 groups that piqued my interest immediately after joining the site, including a group for introverts!

So far, I’ve been to about 5 meetups and have enjoyed all of them. I’ve met some great people and really appreciate the fact that I’ve been able to take my nonexistent social life from zero to hero in no time! This gives me a great opportunity to work on overcoming some of my social anxieties and awkwardness as an introvert in a safe and relaxed setting.

If you’re finding that your social life is in need of a boost, I strongly encourage you to give Meetup.com a try!

Let me know what your experience is like or if you have alternate suggestions for REAL social networking sites. Post your comments below!

How I Landed a Job Knowing About GIGO

So after graduating from college in ’92 with a BBA in Accounting I spent the better part of 2 years looking for my dream job. A number of my Accounting classmates had gone on to work for one of the ‘Big 4’ Accounting firms of that time and I couldn’t help but wonder why I was having such a hard time finding that dream job. After all, I had helped many of my classmates with coursework over the years so I was certainly just as smart and qualified as they were. Looking back, perhaps certain my interviewing skills were not as sharp as they should have been.

The hiring process of one particular job that I did land remains today as one of my most memorable.

Continue reading “How I Landed a Job Knowing About GIGO”

How to Make it Easy for People to Retweet Your Twitter Posts

If you’re like me, you find joy in browsing through your twitter feed to look for retweetable gems to share with the rest of the Twitterverse. Periodically…nay….frequently, I find tweets that are a bit too long for me to retweet without modifying or shortening the post, thus requiring me to post as an MT (modified tweet).blog 2014-08-01 More Retweets

In some cases, I feel reluctant to massage the post for fear I might change the context in some way. If I feel the message is REALLY worthy of sharing, I may make the effort to break the message up into two parts and post as a part 1 and part 2. Continue reading “How to Make it Easy for People to Retweet Your Twitter Posts”