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January 06, 2005


Have you ever Googled yourself? This week I received an email from a person mentioned in one of my blog posts thanking me for a kind review of his performance. I tried it tonight – a surreal experience indeed. Entering just ‘mark woods’ (no quotation marks) returned over 4,530,000 hits; a bit too much for my purposes. Next, I tried “mark woods” (with the quotation marks) and returned over 48,000 hits; a bit more manageable. My namesake in Googleland revealed the following:

A British freelance basketball journalist
A PhD at the University of Texas at Dallas
A Cinematographer
An actor in the, ahem, adult entertainment industry
A medical doctor
An assistant inspector general for the USDA

No programmers in the first several pages.

An old joke that I used to tell about my career goes something like this. “About 25 years ago I was face down in the gutter after a weekend of drinking. I found two matchbook covers: Make your Fortune in Hotel/Motel Management and Become a High-paid Data Processing Professional. I kept the wrong matchbook cover.”

It’s really quite the accident that I wound up in Information Technology – more a function of being in the right place at the right time than any conscious desire to get into the field. But on whole it’s been a satisfying career choice. I definitely get to play with a lot of expensive toys and usually work in a climate controlled environment. The hours can be a bit challenging sometimes and there’s the occasional missed vacation or concert but most of my employers have been extremely flexible on the hours that I keep.

Change will probably be the word for 2005 in my professional life. After a comfortable existence working with the Recovery application I can no longer ignore the rumors that a restructuring in my department will result in my working on the Collections application. Recovery deals with loans that have been written off as uncollectible; Collections deals with loans that are merely past due, and is one of the largest software applications in the company. Collections programmers also work long hours because of the workload. While not exactly looking forward to it I realize that I need to expand my knowledge of the applications in my department in order to move ahead (or, at least, not have to move to New Delhi to keep my job).

So no looking at the list of jobs that I could have had. Besides, I don’t particularly care for basketball, chemistry and medicine held no interest for me in school, cinematography may have been fun but the schools were so expensive, that kind of “acting” has too many side effects and lastly, who wants to be saddled with the stigma of being a lawyer. I guess I’m right where I need to be. Do me one favor though -- make your credit card payment on time...

Posted by mjwoods at 08:57 PM

January 02, 2005

Happy New Year 2005

Another year survived – just.

As always, I’m grateful to God for allowing me another year on this side of the sod. I’m grateful for the friends I have and the family that surrounds me. Work has been steady, the house has stayed upright and tennis has been, well it’s been fun lately.

Most days and nights on the court I feel like I could play until well into my 80s. Then comes the next morning when sometimes it feels like I’m walking on two broken feet. At times like those I begin to think that perhaps a less high impact sport is in order. Alas, I know of no curling leagues down here.

On a whim one evening I did a bit of googling for one of my hockey heroes from the past, Esa Tikkanen. He played on those awesome Edmonton Oilers teams of the 80s with Gretzky, Messier and Kurri and teamed up again with Messier to win the Stanley Cup for the New York Rangers in 1994. He was usually assigned to the other team’s best player and was tasked with pestering him, denying him the puck or just instigating something to get the other player into the penalty box. On the ice, Tikkanen employed a language dubbed by Gretzky as “Tikkanese” – a concocted pidgin of Finnish, Swedish and English. The last I had read of him, his knees were shot and he had hung up his skates. Then to my surprise I ran across this article on the web: Esa Tikkanen's indecipherable hockey journey continues in South Korea. If it’s possible for Tikk to play after 20 years in the NHL, who am I to complain about a little soreness the morning after…

However, the year just passed wasn’t all fun and games with a little work on the side. Sometimes it just seemed like ten shades of suck. Like losing Steve Gaissert to cancer this summer, or almost losing Denise around Thanksgiving.

Steve and I were stationed at Eglin AFB together back in the 70s, busy helping catalog all of the junk in orbit around this rock when we weren’t cruising up the coast highway in his red Triumph TR6. He was a good friend and I’ll miss him and his humor.

The part of most marriage vows that kinda gets glossed over during the ceremony is the second part of “for better or for worse.” I hope that I never have to spend another week like that again in my life – work all day, rush home to get Bailey fed then tear across town to spend time with Denise at the hospital. It was a test of faith and of stamina, but the prognosis is good.

So I start off on yet another year. Hopeful that events will unfold to my liking but experienced enough to know that life can change in an instant. And when things get to the point to where they’re almost too hard to bear, a little zydeco on the stereo can usually brighten my mood.

Best wishes to you, dear reader, for a happy and prosperous new year!

Posted by mjwoods at 11:42 PM

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