Category Archives: Work

Career Fair

A few coworkers and I were earmarked to go to a career fair at MIT to seek out new talent for the office. We were short an Electrical Engineer, so we approached the big boss about inviting Sander along. His response?

Boss: “No way, Sander’s time is too valuable.” Mike D: “Should I still plan on going?” Boss: “yes. You should go.”

… wait a minute…

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A far cry from Paleontology

It’s 7:00am on a Sunday in the middle of Ohio. Snow is carried by cruel gusts through the gaping industrial garage doors of our building, collecting briefly on the steel toe of my boot before vanishing – taking with it one more calorie of heat from my body.

I’ve got 750 gallons of water/glycol, a sticky gluey solution, to pump from heavy 55 gallon drums into an empty labyrinth of pipes and hoses: the circulatory system of our machine. Our transfer pump is tired. I have to prime the pump and all the connecting hoses just to coax the suffering motor into pushing liquid. I pour cup after cup of glycol into the fluid reservoir from a weary paper gas-station coffee cup. It’s impossible not to spill. Ice cold Glycol runs down my arms, soaking into my sleeves. It has a sweet cotton candy smell to it, but will oxidize into oxalic acid if ingested.

I pause and think back to elementary school. Back then, I wanted to be a paleontologist. I had great dreams of digging and discovery. The Apatosaurus was my favorite; these days I think if asked I’d pledge allegiance to the Stegosaurus. It’s silhouette is simple, iconic, and immediately recognizable.

In fact, I’m wearing a Stegosaurus t-shirt under my lined Carhartt jacket and Under Armor hoodie.

The glycol hasn’t yet soaked through to my t-shirt.

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A Marketing Problem.

About 18 months ago I was given the supplementary job of IT manager at my company. This was meant to be a small hat to wear. And in the grand scheme of things, this is mostly true. The job is cyclical and as I am trying to implement some significant projects, there are times when it sucks up my time. But mostly, I spend my time working with engineering and sales on new projects to expand the business.

Here’s the problem. When I work with engineering and sales, I interact with about a dozen people. When I help with IT, I interact with everyone. So more people have come to recognize me as the person who helps with IT.

As a result, people across the company have started introducing me to customers and new employees as the company IT guy. Nothing against IT, but this is only a small portion of my job and in comparison to my other projects, a very simplistic component of my tasks. I feel this sells me short.

I’ve got a marketing problem. How can I accomplish my all my tasks and pull my reputation away from ‘the computer guy’ and more towards ‘a major contributor to the company’s bottom line’? Somehow I have to better communicate the actual work I do. I don’t know how to do this. Hopefully I will come up with something.

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Kimchi

Of all the foods I’ve tried, it is Korean cuisine that I can’t yet appreciate.

I am currently working on the South East end of the Korean peninsula about a four hour drive from Seoul. A typical lunch for the workers here consists of a pile of white sticky rice, various vegetables covered in brine and hot chili peppers, kimchi, a meat and a soup. It’s that brine-esque, pickled vegetable stuff that I haven’t yet learned to love. and it is EVERYWHERE. 50% of most meal options are sprinkled with hot&spicy ocean flavor spices.

Yesterday, the Koreans that I’m working with requested a pizza party. So we bought them Pizzas from their favorite locale: Dominoes.

Korean Dominoes should be classified as local cuisine. Two of the pizzas had mayonaise on them, another had shrimp and unidentified yellow cubes. Squash? I’m not sure. You’d think I would be all over that mayo pizza, but I couldn’t move myself to try it.

I will be here until the 28th.

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Monkey.

During the superbowl season, one of the guys here at work had his NYGiants Rally Monkey stuffed toy abducted by a Patriots fan. The resulting fallout was hilarious and included, amongst other things, various photoshopped Monkey football pictures and a new company e-mail account for Monkey. While the superbowl drama subsided, Monkey’s e-mail remains fairly active. Every once in awhile Monkey sends out an e-mail of encouragement or harmless mockery.

This week, I’ve been working hard to complete a few critical customer proposals. It’s tedious work that requires a lot of back and forth with the bosses. This morning, one of my bosses sent the following email:

To: Company President, Mike D, and Monkey.

Mike D

As you have experienced some difficulty this week completing the quotes, I am requesting Monkey manage this process to closure. Please provide Monkey any resources or assistance he may require.

Monkey’s reply to all:

Mike D: I’m glad to help. I can get this done.

As for resources please provide for me a carton of noisemakers, 4 binder clips, a sombrero and Tony Danza.

Stat.

Oh Monkey. You’re so crazy.

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IT

About a year ago I took on the added role of being the IT ambassador at my company. This job has zero benefits. Information Technology is a thankless field. Never has anyone walked into my office and proclaimed: “The network is working beautifully! Thank you for keeping everything status quo!”

Instead, it is nothing easier than wading through a tide of complaints complicated by bottomless computer naivety.

Adding to the excitement is that our IT infrastructure is a carefully balanced bridge built of toothpicks and mini-marshmallows. That’s not to say it’s weak… it just defies common sense. And in the past whenever a weakness appeared we’d throw marshmallows and toothpicks at the problem until it was fixed.

The good news? I’m going to fix it. Bottom to top, we’ll have an solid design by the end of summer.

The hilarious news? This endeavor includes the cleaning out of old cabinets and storage rooms. Yesterday we found this:

Perfect.

I feel better knowing we’ve got that as a back-up.

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