Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I feel better

Apparently I just needed to vent that one more time. Currently, I feel MUCH better... it's like all the anger just went poof.... had a great day today. Ok.. back to working on the house. See y'all again soon.

What a week... (useless ranting)

Well, I guess I'm here today to rant, vent, and otherwise get crap off my chest. I came home yesterday early to immerse myself in the remodeling as a way to vent some steam, only to stare dumbfounded at a bottle of hardwood cleaner that had fallen over on my floor, seeping in between the wood and ruining 3 planks of my new floor. Oh, to say I was pissed would be an understatement. I went completely nuts.. lol. I had just spent 2 hours shopping, buying base boards, trim accessories, etc and had the house all laid out so I could finish the mouldings yesterday afternoon. All of the sudden I look down and my already-sour mood was turned to vinegar.

I had to rip up the entire floor almost all the way back tothe front door in order to re-lay those three boards. I was so pissed and careless that I destroyed two more perfectly good boards in the process. Halfway through, I decided to run back to lowe's and get some more materials and take out my agression on someone I didn't know instead of fuming around the house scaring april half to death. I was most definitely NOT the guy to be around yesterday.

So, 11 PM found me just really starting on what I had planned to start on at 2 PM, however by this time I had worked through the frustrations with physical labor and was merely resigned to the tasks ahead. Seeking to achieve SOME feeling of accomplishment, I did at least get the baseboards laid and caulked in. I'll paint them tonight I think and get back on the swing of things by tomorrow.


Let's see, what else has gone wrong this last week? Oh yeah.. I got a ten thousand dollar pay cut. You work for someone for 15 months when all the rest of staff leaves him high and dry, you stick with him through the hard times and even travel 6 thousand miles around the world when no one else would go and what do you get... screwed for ten thousand dollars a year! I don't have the explecatives at hand to properly describe my thoughts on the matter, but you can imagine that most of them would be horrible machinations of the queen's english. It's been a really really realy rough couple of week.

Why, you ask, would some cut someone's pay ten thousand dollars? Oh.... apparently Attitude. I've been working nights, weekends, days in and days out to try to fix this project before it gets any more screwed up than it already is, and I've been shut down at every turn. I've pulled double the hours of anyone on this damned project and that's how I get rewarded? Wow.... thanks! The paperwork I'm sent from the client says "do this" so I do it. However, apparently my CEO doesn't want me to actually do it the way they've asked.. he want's me to make some illegible documentation that's meaningless to anyone who has to read it. So, since I'm not good with bullshitting, I just did my job the way I 'm supposed to...the way the document he sent me asked me to, thoroughly and with detail. This resulted in a pay cut. Way to reward motivation. Actually, I had a choice in the matter... how nice huh? I could choose to take the pay cut or I could choose to find another job... great job security huh?

I can't even find words to express how disappointed I am in the whole process right now. I devote fifteen months of my life towards some thing and then get sh** on by someone who has no comprehension about how to do what I do.

So, what's on the plate now? Well, in addition to the pay cut, I've been demoted to engineer status. Now we have no "project manager" AND have a new network manager this late into the project. Anyone else here seeing my frustration? So, I was demoted 4 work days ago. I went in to work yesterday to see what's been done in the last four days? Nothing..... absolutely nothing. Six months into this and I still have people telling me that they're trying to find part numbers for items? How absolutely retarded do we look when half the staff doesn't know what parts we're installing on the project? I spent 60+ hours creating a master spreadsheet containing white-papers, part numbers, spec sheets, and diagrams of EVERY single part, right down to the manuals for how to operate our hand tools... it's already been done... and then I get told that it's not what we need. Does anyone actually READ the hundreds of pages of detailed requests out cilents send us? I do.. I know what the request is.. and I fulfill in. As reward, I get shit-canned and busted down a rank.  Four days go by and I hear that we're waiting on parts information.... I'd like to print that spreadsheet, cut it into tiny ribbons, and papecut eveyrone involved until they bleed to death from it!

So.... where'd everyone go? Yeah, I'm a little miffed at this point. And the only thing making it worse is that I've been lied to time and time again about the money I'm supposed to be paid that's been owed to me for.. lemme see... August unti now is......9 months! So, I'm owed ten thousand dollars and then get another ten thousand dollar pay cut.. that's twenty thousand dollars I've been screwed out of in the last 30 days... glutton for punishment? Possibly.

On the upside, I'm trying to get this shit out of my system and get my head right again, hence I'm venting here on the blog. I'm the kind of person who needs to release his agressions and then I'm fine. However, I feel that this time it's taking longer to release than usual. I've been biting heads off for a week now.

The problem is... ya wanna know? I'll tell you. I'm a conceited prick when it comes to my work. There.. it's out there. I've always known it and always admitted it. Those of you who know me, stop shaking your heads in agreement.

Prick-aside, NO one outperforms me, works harder, works longer, or throws more energy into the project. I was just raised from a young age to believe that ANYTHING in life that's worth doing is worth doing well. My father and especially my grandfather instilled a strong sense of pride in my work in me. If I'm going to have my name and my reputation banking on something, it's going to be the absolute best out there. No one's work will compare to it and my WORK will get me the credit and appreciation, not words, ass-kissing, or anything else. I stand behind what I can deliver and nothign else matters.

This is why I don't do the "employee" or subordinate thing well. I hate being under anyone who doesn't work as hard or as doggedly as I do, so I dont work under people.. ever. For the last 15 years of my professional life (which is most of it) I have been the boss. I'm the boss because that's the only way I don't get resentful of other people's lazy attitudes. If someone has to work overtime, I do it, cause I'm the boss. I don't ask others to do what I won't do or don't already do. I lead from the front line and make them keep up with me, rather than lead from the rear with a whip and scream uselessly at people.

So, all things considered, I'm not sure how I'm going to handle this "employee" thing.. I just don't do well working under people who aren't as smart as me. (again, that may sound like a prick, but that's how I am. Either you are or are not more intelligent. If you are, I want to learn. if you're not, get out of my way and let me teach you something.) I've never been demoted in my entire life, ever! I've not even been written up since I was 16 and late to work once. I've only worked under two people in my entire life that I had immediate and lasting respect for. Michael Turner and Bill Stovall. These are the only two men who made me want to subjigate myself to allow me to learn from them. They're both successful, both intelligent, and both have long lasting proof that their business models are viable ones.

Now, to give credit where credit is due, the man I'm working "under" now is excepted from this tirade. He's not a business-minded person, but he's technically very proficient in what we do, and he's my best friend. Am I pissed? Of course I'm pissed, but not at him. I'm pissed at someone who tells me that 15 years of successfully making good, informed business decisions and being able to read my client's wishes clearly and address them are less important skills than just not rocking the boat and saying "umm.. ok" to anything I'm told to do.

God.. I still just want to hit something. I'm SOOO frustrated. I'm just not sure it's worth it anymore. For God's sake, my team and I have turned down repeated job offers since taking this project, and for what? We've had offers from Britain, Libya, America... all with much higher pay, and we stayed here to have this crap happen to us?

Crap.. it's 9:20 in the morning. I really need to go to work this morning. I just don't want to walk in the office and blow up an someone. This whole shituation has put me in a funk.. and I hate being in a funk. I can't work when I'm agressive. I need to be clear-headed and motivated to succeed, which is hard to do when you're.. well, nevermind that statement. That would have been rude.

So, instead I sit here typing to you all, wearing my bath-robe, accomplishing nothing of note, which in itself irritates me because I'm supposed to be being productive and DOING something... I'm just not sure what until all the heads come out of the sand and point me in a direction. ONE of us (not I) has to come up with a complete Category 4 TIA 606-A scheme for this project or nothing else can be done. I've been yelling about this for two weeks... actually I've been quietly working it out on my own, and had been planning to deliver it completed and say "ha.. there we go.. voila.. now let's go to work" but this merry little jaunt off the career chain sent that idea out the window. I'm absolutely not going to be demoted and then do a job that's the responsibility of those above me to figure out. (Quite honestly, I'm betting no one will do it at all and then we'll get there and be screwed because they will only then see why it's required, when it's too late.) But hey, what are international networking standards anyway? What the hell do they know? I mean, c'mon, we can just use tape and sharpies right?

Fiber-optic link loss budgeting? Not done. 606 Scheme? Not done. 568B stadards and practices? Not followed. For Christ sakes, they only NOW figured out they got the wrong fiber cable for this when I've been screaming about the fiber problems since February!

I guess I'll see how it goes. Hopefully, if everyone in management gets their heads out of the sand, we'll be heading back to Africa soon, but who knows? Hell, at this rate, I'm liable to be fired before that happens. At this point, nothing would surprise me...

I'll chat again soon, hopefully about something a little more positive.

Friday, April 20, 2007

This old house... (part 4)

Well, I'm tired and don't have a lot of time to post, but I've had lots of requests to see the work thus far.. so here you go. Here's what working 7 nights after work will get ya. GOD I really want a REAL weekend!

I've now got the hardwood through the living room and almost through the dining room. I had to stop until I get that wall finished, because I dont' want the paint and chemicals to drip on to the new floor while I"m painting.

We've just setup the furniture in a hodge-podge for fun. It's SO easy to just push the couch to the whole other side of the room... I love it.

As you can see I've started the baseboard too. I replaced the standard 3" baseboard with 5 1/4" wall base... due to the high wall heights. I think it looks a LOT nicer with the higher trim.

More photos soon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This Old House (Part 3)

   Well, it's been a couple of days since I had time to post any updates about the remodeling. It's not because I haven't been working on it. On the contrary, it's because I have been working on it so much that I'm too exhausted to post pictures about it. Tonight, however, I'm knocking off early (10 PM.. lol) and taking a break to post these.

Thanks to all of you who had nice things to say about the work. I appreciate it. This is what I grew up doing with my father and grandfather. Holding a hammer in my hand and smelling saw dust in the air is all it take to make me remember those days. I wish they could be here to help now. This is the first time I've ever worked on my own place, so it's kind of special to me in a corny way. When I get done each night, tired, sweaty, and covered in any number of dusty dirty speckles of crud it still feels great to see the progress created by my own two hands.

Anyway, enough of that for now. Here's an update on what's been going on these last two days.



My dearest April scrapes away endlessly at the wallpaper that plagues our one wall. This wall has been a major holdup for us, but we're beating away at it day after day during our evening hours after work.

I added casing to the doorway because there wasn't any, and then applied the double-layer chair rail to help separate the colors a little. I'm really pleased with the look it's taken on.

If you're the slightest bit familiar with drywall, you know it's never as easy as simply patching a hole. After I took the wall down, April discovered a bow in the wall that was there before we moved in, so I took the wall out a little more and rebuilt the corner with scrap sheetrock from the wall that I removed earlier this weekend. This also has been a pain in the butt, but overall I only have about three hours time in this wall and it's almost done now. It needs one more coat of mud on the left side, a final sanding, and then it's ready for paint.

This is the look we're going for with the fixtures. I like the old-world feel to the burnished copper and black color tones. This is about what the remaining fixtures will look like when we're done. Mainly I needed the extra light so I went ahead and replace the 60 watt dining room fixture with a 180 watt fixture.

This is what I started today when I got home from working all day. Today is the day I start the hardwood laminate. My knees are NOT going to like this. See all that sunlight that I'm getting now? THAT"S the look I'm going for.. much more open space and better "glow" to the room.

The fun begins: First I tear up the carpet, remove those stupid carpet tack rails, sweep, sweep again, the sweep one more time to make sure I got it all, and then the water barrier and sound barrier will go down before the floor gets laid in place.

Do I look like I'm having fun here? Actually I am. I'm finally getting to see it come together now. After I finish this part I'll start working on the baseboards and then we'll be in the home stretch of all this!

Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Greenville PD Officer Down

At 1:05 p.m. this afternoon, Saturday, April 14, 2007, an accident occurred involving two Greenville Patrol Officers operating a marked patrol vehicle and the driver of a Jeep pick-up truck. Officers Jason Campbell and Nathan LeCompte were in the patrol car, and 51 year old, Billy Ray Greene was driving the Jeep Pick-up.
The accident occurred at 500 North Greene Street in front of the Wilco Gas Station. 35 year old Officer Jason Campbell and and the driver of the pick-up were both killed.
The preliminary investigation indicates that the patrol vehicle, occupied by two members of the Police Department’s IMPACT Unit, were responding to a report of suspicious activity when the accident occurred.
The patrol vehicle was traveling north on Greene Street and had just crossed the Greene Street bridge prior to colliding with the pick-up truck traveling south The pick-up truck involved in the accident was not related to the suspicious activity.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol conduct the investigation into the cause of this accident. The Greenville Police Department Traffic Safety Unit is providing assistance as needed. The circumstances surrounding the accident are still under investigation at this time.
Campbell has been a police officer with the Greenville Police Department for almost five years. He served as a Deputy for the Pitt County Sheriff’s Department for almost five years prior to being hired with GPD. Officer Campbell is survived by his wife, stepson, and a 3-year-old daughter. Officer Nathan LaCompte, 25 years of age, was injured in the accident. He was treated and released from Pitt County Memorial Hospital.
Please Keep Officer Cambell's family and the officers of the Greenville Police Department in you prayers

Friday, April 13, 2007

Remodeling (Begins in Earnest...)

Ok.. so I thought I was tired last night when we started ripping that wall out. Having experience this day in its entirety, I realize that I was quite mistaken about my prior thoughts. I wasn't even feeling the beginnings of tired yet. Now, I can say that I'm tired.... exhausted. It's been a LONG day of working on the house, but it's starting to come together. Here's a little preview of our progress throughout the day.


We got that wall tore out and cleaned up a little bit. I've still got some basic remodeling to do there, but I'll get to that tomorrow or Sunday sometime.


It came to my attention earlier today that my daughter did not know how to properly enjoy a Bologna sandwich. After convincing her that its actually NOT that good cold, she agreed to learn how to cook a bologna sandwich! What followed was an enjoyable break from our toils while we munched down on our sandwiches and prepared to begin phase two of the remodeling.

I spent 6 hours taping walls, ceilings, doorways, etc in preparation for painting when April got home from work. She and Hannah went to work with a vengeance.

Yeah, you can guess who got put on ladder detail.

Hannah applies finishing touches to the median where the chair rail will go tomorrow.

April takes a turn with the high spots while I work on trim paint.

More baseboards that have to come up. I waited until last for this one because it meant I had to move the stereo and big screen to get to it.

Blue..... kind of a battleship blue color. I really like it! It contrasts well with the cork color on the other side walls.

And here you have a general preview of what it will look like, minus the chair rail that's got to be added tomorrow. I'm going to Lowe's tomorrow mornign to start on that part while April and Hannah work on finishing the painting.

I'll post more later when we've put a bigger dent in the project. Next: Chair rail, door casements, and hardwood!

Wish us luck!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The remodeling begins...

Remodeling: You know, it's a stage in a man's life when he feels like he's "doing" something for his family... it's nice. Also, I'm dead tired! lol. We started tonight. It's official. There's no going back. I"m having the paint delivered tomorrow morning and so we started the basic pre-steps tonight; taking all the pictures down, patching all the holes, knocking down walls, repulling some of the electrical.

It's going to take a few days to get it done, but I'm glad to finally be started. This means I've hit the point where there's no going back. There's notes scribbled on all the walls, saying things like "Red here, Blue over here, Cork up there." It's fun. I took a few pics if you're interested to see the progress.

The last view of the old original living room/dining room.


Yeah.. that wall.. that one right there? Gotta go.

Hannah helps take the moulding off the railing of the half-wall.

Meanwhile, Miss April fills holes before the new paint job!

Mark and I diagnose a little electrical issues before tearing the live circuits out and re-running them to repower the porch lights on the patio.

Anyone got an excedrin? That wasn't easy to rip out of the floor!

Hannah has moved on to spackling small blemishes in the door mouldings before painting.


One wall down.. what's next?



Tomorrow, the paint comes. Then we start marking the walls for the new double-chair rail thats going to be hung and start the long process of applying paint.

Wish us luck!

A brief respite in my busy life...

Wow! It's been a LONG couple of weeks. My sincerest apologies to those of you who take the time out of your day to read my thoughts and have been left disappointed in the lack of fresh content on here lately. Between working 40+ hours for my CEO at one company, plus working 40+ hours at my own company which has finally gotten off the ground, AND trying to remodel this condo, time is in extremely short supply.

Let me start with the updates to recent events.

April's Birthday:

Thanks to all of you who made an appearance for April's birthday. It was a great resounding success and she loved the whole night. I can't tell you how many times I got thanked for being the bestest boyfriend, just for calling everyone and saying "y'all come on and let's eat." However, I take my gratitude where I can get it and I wallow in it shamelessly! So thanks for coming. Those who couldn't make it were sorely missed, but there will be many more Scooby events this year I hope, so we'll get together then and catch up.

Now.. to share some photos from the evening:


Yes, w'ere just that cute. (and God I look like hell. It was the first week we had opened the new company up and I had just left work. Had I known there were gonna be so many pictures I would have at least done my hair and did a better job shaving!)


"The" Bridget Pose... I've become used to this cutesy expression. This girl can pose for a camera in a split second... but almost always looks nice doing it.

Ok... so we KNOW I'm going to post the one where my head is between two gorgeous women and all those boobies... right? Gimme a break! I am most certainly NOT passing up a shot like that. *copies that photo to the directory with all the other shameless booby photos*

You can't see everyone in this shot, but there were about 15 of us for dinner. We pretty much packed out the right side of Chico's.

My sincerest thanks to Nicole for getting the cake handled for me. She did a fantastic job! (PS: Remind me to write you a check to replace that one you lost!)

Yes... I did good!

There are lots more photos to post, but if I put them all in here, the page would never load for those libyan friends who visit, so I've got to cut the photos short somewhere.

The New Office

Yes, I'm tired of working out of my apartment each and every day, so I finally sucked it up and got an office across town. It's nice to be able to get up and leave the house for work in the morning. Being up and out of the house gets me focused and gets my head right a little more so than when I work at home. Anyway, we originally purchased a 2 office suite downtown, but within about 3 days we learned that wasn't going to be enough, so now we have a 4 office suite with plenty of room for my office furniture and conference tables and with enough space for each of the guys to have their own office. Things are going good so far. We're staying busy with projects during the dead periods while we're waiting for our overseas contract to take off again. We tried the whole sit at home and get paid for doing nothing thing for about three days, but that got old quickly. I can't stand NOT to be working. If I'm not going to be busy for one company, then I stay busy working on the other. Besides, I'm paid well, but not well enough to want to drop all my customers and let them go elsewhere.

On the upside, I landed two national contracts today for our new business. I can't release names yet, but I'll do so later when things are more secured. I'd rather have some good repoire behind my belt with the new contracts before I start blurting out crap and then I'll have to eat crow later if something goes wrong with the deal.. but things are lookin up for us. That much is good.

The Condo

Ok.. so can I just say that I have the absolute coolest landlord inthe whole damned world? Attention World: Richard Donaldson Rocks! My landlord knows that I grew up in construction and carpentry, so we worked a deal where he will let me upgrade the condo I live in, since I'm gonna be here a few more years it seems. (I decided not to pursue a house AND a new company in the same year.. too much risk there.)

Anyway, he ok'd me to replace the carpet with hardwood floors, rip down one of the walls, and do just about anything else I desire as long as I do it professionally. The upside for him: he gets about five thousand dollars worth of free labor working on his condos. The upside for us: we get the hottest pad in our area with little to no financial cost to us... just a little sweat and blood. (Hopefully more sweat than blood.)


It's been asked a dozen times every week for the past few weeks and YES I'm still going back to Africa. I can't go into the details for professional reasons, but let's just say that it takes a LONG time to get a Libyan company to cough up a couple million dollars to get this thing rolling. Pretty much we're ready to go as soon as the check comes into ship the parts, which should be soon now. I don't have a date yet, but I'm personally expecting sometime late summer to be honest. We still have to consider the two to three weeks it's going to take to assemble and ship the thousands of parts from various spots in the US to the port in Charleston, then we have to add the 38 days time it takes for the transatlantic freighter to get from here to London, change cargo, and then get to Tripoli, Libya. So, we're looking at a minimum of 6 weeks from the time we get the check in. Not to mention that my Visa is about to expire again, which means another six week process to get new visas from Libya. Did I mention that international projects are a major pain in the butt? However, I can't complain... I'm getting paid to be here just as well as I'm getting paid to be there.. and the food is definitely better here.

To Libya With Love

Sabah al'kheer my friends in Libya! I miss you guys SOOOOO much. You have no idea how much it pains me to be away for so long, even though I'm glad to be home again. I can't wait to get back over there and jump back into the culture, the food, the customs, (ok.. maybe not the food... but the rest is true enough.) My greetings to all of you, Khadija, Tara, Nadir, Mohamed (Shortround), and the rest of you. Someome go tell Mohamed at the Corinthia that the ornery amreeki (american) is coming back and I want my garlic bread on the menu when I get there!

Ok.. that's about it from me for one evening. I'll leave you with ONE more interesting piece of fun.

Beach Music and Bill Agans

I recorded this the night we went out for April's Birthday party. I actually got 4 videos, but this is the only one I can post until I get my upgrade to director status on YouTube. The other three are a tiny bit too large to be allowed at the moment.

Hope you enjoy





Tuesday, April 03, 2007