Man, it's been awhile since I've updated this thing. Look at all the cobwebs.
So anyway, I am alive and doing well, thanks for asking. Lots of fun new stuff to report, along with an obligatory empty promise about how I'll try to blog more often. Really, I will. Try, that is. Yoda once said, "There is no try, there is only do." But Yoda's a muppet -- or at least he was before computer animators showed up on the scene -- and as one gets older, one listens less frequently to muppets. It's just one of those things.
As I suggested above, there's plenty going on. I last updated this blog in November, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and long before Taylor Hicks was freaking out little kids by flopping around on the floor like a crazy person. For starters, Tiersa and I finally got married in December. We've been together more than nine years now, so (a) it was about damn time, I suppose, and (b) for the most part, nothing really has changed. For what it's worth, I can confidently report that nothing bad will happen to my marriage should gay people start getting hitched, so Bill Frist can stop worrying about me and instead can try figuring out a way to pull Terri Schiavo out of the dirt in time for the November elections. Put that medical degree to good work, Billy. It's not there just so you can kill cats.
What else is going on? So glad you asked!
GOODBYE, TREE, AND HELLO, MOTO! Tomorrow is my last day as a Stanford University employee. This is a really good thing, because this place drives me nuts. Starting Monday, I return to the belly of the tech beast as a senior content specialist at Motorola. I'll be working in developer marketing again, which is what I did at BEA for two enjoyable years and then a third not-so-enjoyable year before arriving at the university with all the pretty trees. My sabbatical from the world of technology lasted shortly over a year. My sabbatical from Stanford will probably last until the ice caps finally melt, although from what I'm hearing that very well might happen by August of this year anyway.
So why leave Stanford, you ask? True story. A couple of days ago, one of the upper managers in my department discovered a terrible problem with our intranet that simply had to be repaired at once. She was in a state of panic, as if she'd just discovered flames shooting out of her monitor. And, as is quite typical in my department, the tone wasn't "Oh crap, there's something wrong with the intranet." No, it was "Jackson screwed up the intranet," which is even more endearing considering it really isn't my intranet to screw up anyway.
I walk over to Psycho Panic Lady to see the terrible issue. She's hovering her cursor over an e-mail link. Her hands were shaking. "You really did this wrong," she says. For the sake of accuracy, I'd like to point out that whether it's right or wrong, and it most definitely was not wrong, I had nothing to do with that e-mail link being there in the first place. That really doesn't change the story; I just wanted it out there.
Whatever the case, I'm not seeing any problem. It's an e-mail link, and it appears to have the behavior one would expect from an e-mail link. "What's wrong with it?" I asked. "Is it pointing to the wrong e-mail address?"
"No," she gasps in a condescending how-can-any-human-be-such-an-idiot voice. "Look what it does."
She clicks on the link. At this point, I'm expecting porn to pop up. I'm practically hoping it's going to be something good, like a Strong Bad cartoon or Ratchicken IV, to make this waste of time seem more worth it. But no, all I see is a new message window in Eudora, which is exactly what I'm supposed to see. There's an awkward silence between us as I wait for her to tell me exactly what terror she'd expected to unleash upon the world by clicking on that link while she waits for me to admit I'm an idiot who clearly broke the whole intranet and, as a result, ruined life as we all know and understand it.
"I'm not seeing anything unexpected," I said, trying my best to remain polite and calm while silently calculating how much vacation time I'd be able to cash out if I were to quit at that very moment.
"How can you not see this?" she asks, incredulously. She points to the e-mail window. "We cannot have this on the intranet!"
I'm totally lost. "We can't have a link that lets users send an e-mail?" Nobody told me about that new law. Goddamn Republicans in Congress. What are they going to screw up next?
"No," she says, clearly growing frustrated with my overwhelming stupidity. She closes the window. "Watch," she says, as if she's talking to a toddler or a hamster. "I click on the link, and watch." Again, a new message window opens up in Eudora. By now, I'm finding this situation so amusing in a I-really-don't-give-a-shit-about-this sort of way that I'm doing a terrible job at hiding a smile. The upper manager, however, is not even the least bit entertained. This is a major crisis.
"Look at where the window says 'from' and tell me what you see," she says, clearly making an effort to lead the witness.
"I see your name," I say. "You clicked on the link, and your e-mail program opened up. It thinks you're getting ready to send that person an e-mail message."
"That's the problem," she says.
Again, silence. My blank stare must have raised her body temperature at least five degrees. I shook my head ever so slightly, which was my final act of stupidity. I had now pushed her over the edge.
"Don't you see?" she says, loudly. "Anybody using the intranet can send a message from me just by clicking on that link! We can't have that!"
I shit you not.
I politely explained to her that if I were to click on the very same link from my computer, the message would appear to come from me. She did not seem convinced. I offered to give her a demonstration. She declined, and then basically turned into Gilda Radner's old Emily Litella character. "Never mind then," she said. I'm still not convinced she believed me.
And that was that. Not even a thank you after she raped five minutes of my life using only her excessive naivete as a weapon. Grumble.
The main reason I'm leaving is not Stanford, though. It's Motorola. They made a nice offer, and it's a great opportunity to join what is essentially a startup group working inside a Fortune 100 company. So it's really about that. Well, and the turkey.
Yeah, the turkey. When you arrive at the Motorola office in Sunnyvale, the first thing that strikes you is how unnatural the whole place looks. It's nothing but asphalt and concrete, hiding near the Lockheed building not far from Moffett Field. Really, it's not much more than a big cement building rising out of a paved parking lot. Pretty ugly.
When I arrived there for my second round of interviews, though, there was something in the parking lot that definitely looked out of place -- a huge wild turkey. Just roaming around, looking for whatever turkeys look for in parking lots. I have no idea how it got there. Maybe it took the light rail. Maybe it's all symbolic of my going back to developer marketing. A great big turkey, wandering the concrete jungle, looking for a place to roost.
Not to sell the turkey short, but I'd bet it has just as much knowledge about what happens when a user clicks on an e-mail link as members of the management team here in my soon-to-be-former department.
A SCANDINAVIAN FAREWELL. The folks at Stanford, who pretty much avoid me at all costs because they see me as some weird Web guy and they're all very special writers who are responsible for Stanford having all the money it does and therefore can't be seen with some creepy ape working in such a low-brow profession, threw me a little farewell party yesterday. Well, that's actually a lie. They threw a party, sure, but it was only for me in that they needed an excuse to throw a party. Hey, whatever works.
They decided to go with a Scandinavian theme, because those zany Scandinavians dig celebrating the summer solstice and yesterday, sure enough, was the summer solstice. Three different people asked me if I was Scandinavian. I said no, someone just wanted a Scandinavian party, and please don't make this any more awkward than it already is.
The director of the department, who is probably the biggest Stanford-centric reason I'm leaving in the first place, had been out of the office for the past two weeks or so and wasn't here when I gave my notice. She walked up to me. This was to be our first conversation since I announced my intention to leave.
"Well, this was unexpected," she said.
"Yeah, I know," I said. "It's a great opportunity."
"It sounds like a great opportunity," she said. I wonder if she heard that from me approximately a third of a second ago.
"I think it is," I replied. "I'm excited to get back to that line of work."
"Great," she said. "Well, OK. I'm hungry for a salad, and they don't have any of that here, so I'm going to go get a salad. Good luck." And with that, she walked off. I haven't seen her since.
It would take her approximately 25 seconds to walk from her office to my cube, so I doubt she's going to expend that degree of effort just to talk to me again before tomorrow afternoon. Barring something both completely unexpected and socially uncomfortable, her last words to me will be "I'm going to go get a salad. Good luck."
It really will be hard to survive without her love and support in my daily life.
Then again, at least she said something. At least half of the people at this small gathering didn't even bother to speak to me. I guess they fear my Web cooties. Or maybe Scandinavian people are just naturally unfriendly, and they were simply keeping with the theme.
At least Stanford people outside this department have been really nice. A couple of them have even said to me, "I can't even begin to imagine how you tolerated working with those people as long as you did."
It's easy. I just look forward to that next salad. That keeps me going.
THERE'S TAR ON MY HEEL. So there's this new job, and then there's this other thing.
A few months ago, while undoubtedly distracted by thoughts about my next salad, it crossed my mind that I was not being challenged at all here at Stanford. Well, that's not true. I was faced with the challenge of dealing with irritating blowhards playing university politics every single weekday. But that wasn't really doing it for me.
Not sure what I wanted my next step to be, I decided to start looking into business schools. It's probably just a lark, I thought. It would pass. There will be salad soon.
But the coursework started sounding more and more interesting. I spent a couple of weeks preparing for the GMAT, and I wound up doing pretty well on it. Then I sent off a couple of applications. A couple of schools invited me to visit, including my top choice. What the heck, right? Tiersa and I could use a couple of days away from our regular lives anyway. We got there, I sat in on a case study, I talked it up with the director of admissions, and I thought, "Yeah, this would be fun." But I wasn't expecting anything to come from it.
Then they told me two weeks later that I was accepted to their program. I totally didn't see that coming.
So once September rolls around, I'll be attending classes in one of the executive MBA programs at the University of North Carolina. And yes, I am aware that North Carolina is a pretty long commute from Silicon Valley. Fortunately, classes only meet in person one weekend per month. It's sort of like the Army Reserve of business schools, only I get to spend those weekends either in Washington, D.C., or Chapel Hill, N.C., instead of in some Quonset hut near some swamp 500 miles from civilization. Also, the program has an international theme, so I'll also get to study in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Brazil. The Netherlands is almost like Scandinavia, so I now have experience in that part of the world thanks to my Stanford going-away festival.
And yeah, Motorola knows. They're really cool with it, in fact. I like it there. I don't even think of salads when I'm visiting.
I'll try to blog more. Really.