I want to see a better government in the US, and have been so hopeful that Obama will bring that change to Washington.

But so far, there has been some disappointment.

  • Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner did not pay $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Daschle owed over $128,000 in taxes over three years.
  • Chief Performance Officer nominee Nancy Killefer had failed to pay the unemployment compensation tax for a household employee.
  • Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis’s had issues because of $6,400 in unpaid tax liens against her husbands auto shop.
  • Judd Gregg withdrew his name from consideration as United States Commerce Secretary, citing policy differences with Obama.
  • Chas Freeman withdrew his nomination for chair the National Intelligence Council due to a firestorm over his comments on foreign policy.

Hope is what makes us human.

Setting Targets, Meeting Goals

Here are my goals for 2009.

  • Become bi-lingual. I am already taking french classes for 6 hours a week. Je parle bien, mais j’oublie les mots.
  • Win a race. In 5 years of road racing, I have had three 2nd place results, a few 3rd places, but never a class win.
  • Write an essay. I have all these things in my head I want to say, but never had time to put anything down.
  • Create a personal web site and gallery. Glad to say that this site is working the way I want it now. Although I would like to continue to improve the look of the site. And find a better name!
  • Earn a small income from photography. This year I want to focus on stepping up my involvement in photography. I might look for opportunities to assist a professional photographer. Or I might offer my services; I have already taken photos for Les Petits Ballets, Ottawa Chinese Art Troupe and the Nortel Asian Business Council. One of my photos will be used for an ad poster for the ballet school this month. Another photo is being used on the cover of a CD for a friend.
  • Add a light in the storage area. I’ve never done any electrical work, so it’s scary and challenging.

Living with Layoffs

When I started work in Ottawa in 1997, it was during the ramp up of the tech bubble. Something exciting was happening everywhere. I shared an apartment with the founder of Linux Chix. Corel was competing against Microsoft with Linux, and was producing the Sidewinder. You could get a job anywhere. Companies were doing massive hiring. Nortel hired 1000 new grads in one weekend and competing with Cisco. Startups were everywhere.

Soon after I started, our division starting having free pizza on Friday afternoons every quarter, then every month then every 2 weeks. The cafeteria was open 24 hours a day.

We would receive $2000 USD for every resume we could bring that led to a hiring. Filing for a patent was worth $5000 USD and having the patent meant a $7000 USD bonus. Everyone was getting stock options, which was such a thrill even thought they took years to vest. Just like the book “Microserfs”.

Our director had a room created in our building with a large screen TV, DVD player, pool table and a leather couch. The room was badge-locked so only members of our division had access.

In 2000, that all changed. The wireless auction prices were sky-high. Our customers seemed less likely to be able to create enough revenue to pay off the bank loans required to buy the wireless spectrum. The high-speed optical build-outs were slowing as much of the optical bandwidth stayed dark, which led to other cuts.

Banks cut loans, customers cut back on spending, and the layoffs started at work.

In the fall of 2001, already 30,000 had been cut from the payroll. We watched 9/11 on the TV in the room our director had built. Six weeks later, our department was cut, and I was out of a job.

I was lucky and was brought back to work in late winter 2002, this time in CDMA Wireless.

I have been in CDMA Wireless since then.

WiMax equipment
WiMax equipment

Our business has continued to cut every year. We had to re-file our financial results (over and over), and the cuts kept coming. And the penny-pinching kept coming – death by a thousand cuts. They cut the milk for the coffee and then they cut the coffee. The cleaning staff was cut, and now we don’t eat in our office because the food waste is only collected once a week.

Since 2000, over 60,000 have lost their job at work. That’s more than the population of Moncton, NB. Another 3200 people were cut in February; friends I’ve worked with for years were cut.

I’m 38.5 years old. The corporation has been cutting jobs for 8.5 years. I’ve been living with the uncertainty of keeping my job for over 22% of my entire lifetime. Almost a quarter of my life has been living with layoffs.

I spent less time in high school. I spent less time in University, even after changing my major in my third year.

I am so tired of living this way.

Safari 4

So the new Apple Safari 4 is awesome. The coverflow of the history items (except for auto-refresh pages – I’m looking at you Contivity VPN), the Top Sites, it’s all very neat.


The new tab paradigm is awful! Putting the tabs at the top of the window (in-line with the window close, maximize and minimize widgets) is a terrible design. The tabs should be a child of the overall window controls, including the forward and back buttons and the search box, and below bookmark information. The tabs should not be the parent of the window, but should be children widgets. And not including a preference to change the tabs back to the old location is a major gap.

Plus, the new Javascript engine does not handle the WordPress pop-ups when editing. I have to use the raw HTML to add links instead of using the nice Visual text tools.

I don’t understand why Apple so often breaks their own existing paradigms. No other tool in MacOSX puts children widgets like tabs in the Title bar. It’s just wrong.

Richard needs…

One of the internet memes floating around is to give the first ten results from googling your name + “needs”.

  1. Richard needs to go to beauty school.
  2. Hunky Richard needs your votes.
  3. Richard needs surgery.
  4. Richard needs fixing.
  5. Richard needs a Jew.
  6. Richard needs a nick name.
  7. Richard needs help.
  8. Richard needs motivation.
  9. Richard needs logos.
  10. Richard needs TLC.


Tonight is a good night

Tonight, I feel good.

I studied hard this weekend and I think I passed my French mid-term this evening. It was scheduled for 2 hours, and I finished in 1 hour. I didn’t panic and forget everything as soon as the test was handed out.

I finished creating this web site, and have a working web gallery. It’s secure, and it’s finally set up the way I want it.

I am still employed.

My to-do list is only 6 items long, two of which are repeating tasks (weekly status report to my manager and monthly computer backup reminder).

My in-box at work is empty. I am staying on top of the work-load instead of being swamped like I have been for years.

I had a successful requirements review this morning. I could have done better, but I still had a lot of work to complete over the last few weeks.

I have created a transition plan for one of my four projects at work. I am involved in too many projects and need to cut down my project list. The plan has not been approved yet. One of the other projects is winding down too as the team in Beijing is taking over as we near customer release.

This past weekend, I had enough time to watch a DVD with Rosa. It was the first time in months.

I have transitioned all my MCO organizational work to others so I can focus on my racing this year.

And finally, and most importantly, I am married to the most wonderful woman. She means the world to me.

When I have moments of doubt and low moods, I should remember this evening.