Sunday, February 24, 2008

I am white trash...

... as far as the city of Torrance is concerned.

I come home on Wednesday and Dena hands me a certified letter from the city of Torrance. Apparently our parkway (the 4ft wide grass strip between the sidewalk and street) was in violation of city ordnance. "No person shall plant or grow any vegetation taller than 18in... nor shall any home owner allow vegetation to become over grown so as to provide shelter to vermin..." Like I need one more thing on my plate.

The Parkway Project, as it has been monikered, originally was a neat and tidy arrangement of lavender, society garlic, lilly of the Nile, buffalo grass and sweet broom. That was B.M.B.A. (Before MBA)

The Parkway Project has since become my Waterloo.

There was nothing sweet about the sweet broom. It was so prolific it shot up to 6 feet tall in 3 months. Caterpillars were the only creatures that found it sweet - they infested them, one died last summer (the plant, not a caterpillar). The carcass stood as a large skeletal reminder of how little time I had to garden.

The lavender became about 5 ft in diameter and 2-1/2 ft high. At one point one of them threatened to colonize the front lawn after fording the sidewalk.

The lillys all died - I guess full sun on the label doesn't apply to the specific climate that is my front yard. Half the buffalo grass fried.

The society garlic you ask? It's fabulous. It is sitting there taunting me. If it had died I would just weed-b-gone the whole lot and plant something I can handle, like grass. But no, the society garlic is there planting thoughts in my head like "you can just plant more of meeee!" and "don't give up yet, you're a great landscape artist. Even Michelangelo screwed up a few pieces." Evil. Just evil.

Maybe that's how it got the name "society". This garlic talks about you behind your back at garden parties.

Anyway - the city has given me until March 6th to fix my nature preserve. I'll let you know how I do.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just quit, already...

It's official, after almost nine years toiling at Honeywell - I'm resigning...

That is of course if I can get my boss on the phone!

My boss and I are in the same location maybe 100 times a millennium. His travel schedule is far more rigorous than mine but we always seem to pass each other on the way to the airport/Mexico.

I have been trying for two days to get him on the phone to tell him I am resigning. This after spending an entire day finding an admin that had access to his travel profile to figure out what timezone he's in. I signed my offer letter on Thursday. The clock is ticking.

Anyway - today's the day - I'm going to call him, actually speak to him and tell him - I just feel it.

Leaving Honeywell will be difficult but it's the best thing for us right now. I'm leaving to go work for my previous boss as the product line director for a family of industrial valves. I know. Sexy. Glamorous. Certainly my life is going to change, what with all the models and movie stars I'll have to party with...

The hard part isn't leaving the job. Its leaving behind the many close friends, most of whom are in another country, that I've made over the last nine years...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Ok, I admit it. I hold on to things too long. Call them grudges if you will, I think of them more as emotional equivalents of the occupied west bank. Little fortresses built of ire.

In one particular instance I have been very good. I have been very nice. I have not made disparraging comments. I have not passed judgement. Not once.

Background: Last year I was asked to fill a temproary role as the Director of Program Management - while they looked for a real candidate of course...

Nevermind I was/am the most experienced in the division, regulary sought out as a resource by others in the organization and I know the business to boot... no, we needed a change.

We needed... someone new, someone with an outsiders perspective, someone with an english accent!

This morning I had the pleasure of really seeing my replacement in action. He's been on the job for 9 months. Here are some of the gems from a Project Phase exit he was holding.

"Is that very technical?"
(in response to a heat exchanger modeling tool used to appropriately size the heat exchanger - nah, any midly intelligent monkey can do it)

(while looking at two graphs - one showing the change in temperature over time)
"So the one on top is varying from zero to 650c and the one on the bottom is going from -900 to +500"
"Why is that?"
"Because its the derivative of the one on top."
(confused silence)
(I'll spare you the doomed attempt by one of the project engineers to explain what a derivative is)

"So how much is that going to cost to do that?"
(after reviewing the incremental costs necessary to improve the reliability of the product, line by line with the total summed at the bottom, in bold and labeled "Total cost to implement")

They were right - I was WAAAYYYYY over qualified for that job.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I need an outlet - my thoughts need a place to take shape. My mind works in a similar fashion to a superball. Random. Abstract. This is a great asset when one is trying to solve a complex problem or trying to find a way out of a maze - bouncing unpredictably through scenarios and finding alternate paths.

The problem: It drives other people nuts.

So I've learned a defense mechanism - don't share everything that goes through my head.

The result: At times I appear distant, disinterested and disconnected.

My Fix: Package my ramblings in written form and thereby make them more coherent to others.

As with most experiements - failure is the most likely outcome.