#5267 – on the disabled list

time for that same old story about wanting to post on lj but failing to do so for some reason or another. man, i haven’t updated this since before cynicalscribe and i went on that trip to japan!

so yes, we went to japan for about 10 days and it was lots of fun for my second time there and carrie’s first. altogether it was something like $1358 per person for round-trip nonstop airfare from newark to tokyo (our flight was around 11 am, so we drove up the night before and stayed at this best western hotel that cost $150 for the one night but included 10 nights’ worth of parking, so assuming parking would have been at least $15 / night anyway, we got our hotel for free that night, and they have a free shuttle between the hotel and the airport too that makes things really simple) and 8 nights’ stay in the prince hotel shinagawa‘s annex tower (free internet!). we visited all over tokyo, saw several japanese wedding processions at a shrine, saw the tsukiji fish market (and got lost in the maze of stalls and had to wander until we found our way out), chatted with a man in english about why we wanted to visit japan (“japan is so small! only about the size of california! why would you want to come here?!”), visited a cat petting zoo, went up tokyo tower, took a two-day trip to mt. fuji (only halfway up since it was part of a package tour and wasn’t climbing season) and the resort town of hakone where we bathed in green tea and sake and red wine and all sorts of crazy stuff, and on one of our last days carrie met up with a friend of hers from school who was in japan while i went to experience the wackyness that is a japanese baseball game. you can see all the pictures here, and there are links to a few different videos over on the left-hand side at that link too.

so that was a lot of fun. what else has been going on? hm…

i’m still trying to train for the marine corps marathon at the end of october. i say “trying” to train because i’ve been sidelined for the last week or so because of a painful ache in my left ankle. well, actually, it’s more complicated than that. i didn’t get a chance to run when we were in tokyo since we were walking around everywhere and pretty much each night i would conk out cold once my head hit the pillow, so i was already pretty worn out each day even without running. and then, once we got back, i managed to go running for a few weeks just like i was scheduled, but my long runs on sundays i never got a chance to do properly – either it was too hot out, or it was code orange or code red air quality, or something similar. i even bought myself a camelbak water pack to use for my long runs, and even though i’ve filled it up with water i haven’t had a proper chance to use it.

so yes, two weeks ago i was doing my 3-mile run like i was scheduled to do that day on the treadmill in the office gym, and as i got closer and closer to finishing my run my outside left ankle started hurting me more and more. it’s still sore now, but it’s doing much better; for several days i had to really limp around, and pushing in the clutch when driving really hurt if i didn’t have my foot angled a certain way. i’m probably not going to be able to run on it properly (meaning: i’m probably not going to run on it at all so it can heal) until next week… but then late next week we’re going on a beach trip so i’m not likely going to be able to get my running in during that trip either.

to add insult to injury, i got a subscription to runner’s world magazine and the july and august issues both showed up last week, so all i could do was read and wish that i could go for a run. 🙁

hm, what else…

ever since getting my technican-class ham radio license i’ve been getting more and more bit with the hobbyist electronics bug. i’m still studying for the next class level (general class) even though i still don’t have a radio or anything like that, but just because i’m in between semesters and it’s something new to learn. i’m hoping to get that studied in time for the next certification test scheduled next tuesday, but if i can get my general-class license before school starts back up at the end of august then i’ll consider it a job well done.

but like i said, i don’t have a radio yet. still, i’m thinking of things to experiment with. even though a radio license isn’t needed for this project, ever since reading about it online i’ve been thinking of trying to receive NOAA weather satellite signals … i figured that since my personal website is done up like a newspaper, and since it’s already got recent weather conditions on there, how neat would it be if i can pull down my own weather satellite images and incorporate those on there somehow? i’ve also been reading up about amateur tv (broadcasting video over ham radio frequencies) – though it’s not necessarily something i’d end up doing, it’s still pretty interesting to find out all the different things that are possible.

but like i said, electronic bug bites. i’m reading the make: electronics book and preparing to do some of its experiments, and i picked up a copy of make magazine the other day too.

i’ve also been thinking about what to do, job-wise. my goal is to finish my master’s and then see about finding a job elsewhere, since if i ever want to 1) get my student loans paid off, and 2) move out to a place of my own, then i need to be making more money than what i am now. it’s really a matter of necessity since my student loans will start to come due in september 2011, and right now i’ve got my finances figured out in such a way that i’ve got money going to savings accounts, retirement accounts, paying off bills/loans/etc., and i’d have nothing really left over once i start paying off my student loans. so, my plan is/was to finish up this degree program by spring 2011, find a new job in spring/summer, and have something that pays the bills by end of summer 2011.

my problem is that it seems like for any position i want to take with verizon wireless as my next step, there’s a 99% chance that it’d involve having to go work at one of our main offices in new jersey, and i’m not that keen on the idea of moving to new jersey. i’d rather stay around the dc area if i can help it since i know the area and have so many friends and family here, but if i can’t find a good opportunity here or a better opportunity elsewhere then there are other places that i’d prefer to move to over new jersey; partly because i’d rather move to someplace where there are people i know, and partly because new jersey just really doesn’t appeal to me as a destination.

the funny thing is that of all the places where i don’t think i’d mind moving to, the only one that i’ve never been to is portland, oregon. i didn’t think about it really until homodachi made a joke that i should move out there, but after researching what the cost of living and other metrics are like out there compared to here, i can see why it’s appealing (it’s funny – outside of the dc/baltimore area, where are the most people i know that live in one metro area? yep, portland).

of course, it also didn’t help that i was looking at nike’s job openings since they’re based in portland (and have a surprising amount of information systems positions available, a ton more than i expected to find at nike) and found a position that i’m almost a perfect fit for right off the bat…

Requirements for the position include:

– Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Systems, Business, or other relevant subject area

– 7 years’ professional experience in IT or business

– 2 years’ additional relevant professional experience accepted in lieu of a degree

– Experience working as a Business System Analyst and System Analyst on multiple projects and business functions

– Excellent analytical skills and ability to translate business functionality and opportunities into clear, precise and easy-to-read functional specifications critical

– Strong business acumen to quickly learn new business processes and understand how IT needs to support the business in achieving revenue and profit goals

– Proven ability to pull a diverse group of individuals with different goals together and facilitate productive discussions

– Comfortable working in a fast-paced, results-oriented environment

– Demonstrated leadership capability, including ability to motivate and mentor others within work group

– Ability to work with onshore/offshore teams, and communicate using virtual communication tools (phone, conferencing, online meeting)

– Excellent verbal and written communication and collaboration skills to effectively communicate with both business and technical IT teams

– Lean experience with applied principles and methods preferred.

– Ability to pass a 7 year background investigation

– Deep knowledge and hands-on experience with iterative and waterfall development methodologies (e.g. BABOK, XP, Scrum, RUP, XUP, etc)

– Deep knowledge and hands on creation of key artifacts including uses cases, UML, user stories, user acceptance criteria, functional specifications, configuration stories or specifications

of those, the only thing that i don’t exactly fit is the hands-on experience with iterative/waterfall development. i’m trained in six sigma and i’m familiar with lean, and pretty much everything else is stuff that i’ve done.

it also doesn’t help that i poked around on glassdoor and it appears like a position such as this would be paying me about twice what i currently make, too. still, that’s hard to gauge from a website and people’s anonymous submissions.

i talked the other day with zenmetsu about this idea of possibly moving elsewhere to find employment (and at one part i forgot i had my salary info on this comparison i was doing, and he remarked that i really should be getting paid more than what i currently am, especially for the work that i’m doing), and he recommended that i look into government contracting. it’s something that i’ve looked at occasionally, but it seems that 1) most positions require clearance, and 2) while i don’t have clearance and don’t believe there’s anything that would prevent me from being cleared, it’s another hoop to have to go through, and 3) it seems that most/all positions i find want someone who has clearance already instead of sponsoring someone who isn’t already cleared to be checked out. also, i have a suspicion that i’d feel like i’m contributing to the problem of government waste. 😛

no matter what, if i left my current job once the semester starts, then i’d have to pay back my prepaid tuition for the semester, and i don’t necessarily think that it’s a wise decision to try moving to a new city and start a new job somewhere while in the middle of an online 6-credit semester of master’s classes which is why i’m leaning toward finishing my degree and then searching. but, who knows? what if i somehow found something else before the semester starts? or if it pays significantly more so i don’t have to concern myself with tuition reimbursement as a benefit of employment? what if i can’t find anything around here that interests me? would i really be able to try moving somewhere else on my own?

being a grown up sucks sometimes.