Monday, January 28, 2008


I've been giving my second son quite a bit of thought lately. Jacob is a very enjoyable person to be around. He has a tendency to be over energetic, but when he has taken his medicine in the morning it really calms him down without completely robbing him of his energy and quick wit.

The other day when Lucy was playing around pretending a toy bucket was a wheelchair, Jacob said, "When I'm in a wheelchair, don't feel sorry for me!" A couple years ago we made a visit up to Pocatello and he spent a majority of the time in Grandpa Richins' wheelchair driving throughout the house having a great time. He is an optimist, creative and hardworking. That's a great formula for a successful person.

Cathi took this picture of Jacob saying goodbye to Gransie at her funeral. What a precious little boy.

Yesterday was his first day ever skiing. His fourth grade class went up to Powder Mountain to ski and he had a blast. When he took off his boots ice and snow came out. I wish I could have seen him shread up that hill.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

First Snow cave in about 5 winters

The last time I build a snow cave was in Fruit Heights probably in 2003. Yesterday we got dumped on. I couldn't get the snow blower to start and I ran out of starting fluid. Cathi took the kids to school and said the roads were a nightmare. She was talking with people who were saying that traffic on I-15 was terrible. So I called work to see if I could work from home. I will probably work 4 hours and then put in some major time tomorrow to make up for it.

So later in the day after the kids were home from school Jacob and I went to work building up his mound of snow that he has over the past few storm accumulated. We probably doubled the size of his mound and started hollowing it out. We got it big enough in there to fit a double size air mattress. I asked Jacob if he wanted to sleep out there and he felt adventerous and agreed. Only problem is the air mattress has a slow leak. I didn't remember how fast the leak was.

We went swimming and rushed to get the air mattress filled up and the large green sleeping bag arranged on top of it. By the time we went down for the night it was 11:00 pm. I slept pretty soundly and warmly until about 1:15 where I felt the air mattress only had about 1/4 capacity and parts of my body were touching the ice beneath us. Jacob was no longer the little heater and I knew that if we stayed out the whole night it would be miserable since the air beneath us was gone. The sleeping bag wasn't rated, just a thick cloth bag. So we went in at 1:30 am. Slept good the rest of the night inside. Would have been fun and warm had the mattress held out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Job interview

On Friday late afternoon I had a job interview. I won't name the company. It was an interview from hell! There were five people included in the interview. I was asked more PL/SQL questions that I anticipated. One question that particularly bothered me was from the short guy who asked how to do an outer join. I explained it (I'm sure not very well) and he went to the white board and tried to get me to tell him on what side the (+) goes on in the where clause when trying to get all employees with or without an assigned department id.

I told him on the dept side. But then he asked for another way to do it. I told him using an inner query. He and his friend smirked "Will that work?" Then I realized I had it wrong and then he asked if you can have a select as a column within a query. Yes I said, (But I hate those because it makes queries nasty and long). I'd rather see a function call than one of those. In fact AO has a bunch of those and trying to cut a paste those queries isn't fun cause there are from and where clauses all over and you have to take effort to space things out so it is readable.

Anyhow after an hour of getting grilled on PL/SQL, Java stuff I was then given a 15 minute breakdown of the company. The benefits were fine except for the Medical benefits. Then I was given another round of grilling on Java for about 40 minutes. I really messed those up. Many of the questions appeared to come from a Java test which included several trick questions and coding examples that were completely meaningless much like from a Java Certification Exam.

Luckily though that was only with one person. I stumbled all over the place and by the time I left was probably purple in color, felt extremely humiliated and considering driving into the Weber River on the way home. It has taken me four days to recover (and not even completely). The positive note though is that it has given me a huge resolve to go back to studying for the Sun Certified Java Programmer.

Last year Cameron, Justin, Trevor, James and myself met once a week to review a chapter on the exam. Back then I felt very new to Java and was blown away by the exam tests. But now realize that the attitude of giving highly confusing and sometimes irrelevant questions are a way of life for programmers being tested for their Java Knowledge. I've been relying on Eclipse too much and realize that my true Java knowledge isn't anywhere near where it should be, especially when interviewing for a position. So here is my plan:

I will reread the SCJP book and plan to cover one chapter a week (There are 10) and take the tests as I go. Then I will read the other Exam book I have and take the tests. I will then study the 310-055.pdf from eplanetlabs I bought a long time ago. My goal is to take the test on or before June 15th (My 10 year anniversary at Tomax). At that time I will then consider reinterviewing. But until then, I will probably just make a fool of myself.

I emailed my experience to Randi Thurman and she convinced me that I was just out of practice and that there might be some techniques to interviewing that I need to work on. I couldn't argue there. She offered to give me a mock interview. Hopefully I can get some pointers on how to better communicate during an interview. I sure stammered and stumbled all over myself.

I could sense disappointment in a couple interviewers when I was able to nail a question because then their satisfaction of tripping me up was unsuccessful. I was annoyed with the approach of the interview and how it made me nervous, but to be reasonable, they can't take a chance hiring a doofus with a large salary. Unfortunately I'm sure they thought I was a doofus and I'll be the first to admit that I sure felt like one. At any rate, enough of my venting, I've got a goal to correct the situation and have already started my path to non-ignorance (at least on Java).