Things You Won’t Learn on My LinkedIn Profile

I had to do a little introduction exercise when I moved over to the marketing team as a Tech Marketing Engineer. I had to share some things you wouldn’t learn on my LinkedIn Profile with the team. I thought it was fun to walk through and worth reposting here!

I just married the woman of my dreams (Kat) who was born in Germany but moved to Florida when she was young. She says y’all with a mixed German and Southern accent and it melts my heart. When we got married we smiled so much our faces hurt. We’re both still amazed that our lives turned out this way and we get to live our dreams.

Despite my mild mannered appearance, I like to live life dangerously. In addition to the rock climbing with my wife, you can find me riding motorcycles, snowboarding, or my one true guilty pleasure, eating Chipotle on my walk to and from HQ and the SJC airport.

I’m a Tough Mudder finisher. You’ll find me out crawling through the mud once a year.

Our long term goal is to move to a walkable city (maybe in Germany or the Netherlands) and spend summer nights walking between cafes. Especially Eiscafés

Memorial Day Ziplining in Florida

I decided to make it a 4 day weekend for Memorial day on the Tuesday before the weekend started. I checked my family’s availability for Saturday, booked tickets for a zip line tour in Florida, took Friday off, then drove down to Florida on Friday.

I had a little bit of a stop in Jacksonville to visit a colleague Nik and say hello. Breaking up the 8 hour drive was good.

It was great to spend time with Jen, Matt, Cody, Mom and Cal. Saturday was zip lining and you can find some pictures here:

Zip Line Photos

Group shot
Group shot!

Sunday was a lazy pool day at Jen’s and dinner at Mom’s.

Monday was driving back home to Raleigh. I don’t really mind driving and I got to listen to a lot of NPR along the way.

DC – Buffalo – Rochester Visit – September 2009

This post has been languishing in my WordPress drafts for years. It torments me to see unfinished work. I don’t even remember the whole trip now, but I’ll do my best to summarize.

First, here are the pictures from September.

So back in September I went to Buffalo because of a girl I’d met at the beach in August. I told this girl I was coming to Buffalo to visit friends and family. Ostensibly that’s true, but sometimes I’m not entirely honest. I went to Buffalo because of the girl. I may have spent most of the time with my family and friends, but without her I wouldn’t have even thought about making the trip. In the end I learned that family and friends are the most important.

Girl had a Boyfriend at the time which threw a wrench into the works, but I still had an incredibly strong desire to just see her. I don’t know what I expected out of the trip really. Just to see what happened I guess. What happened is that we got along really well and kept talking even after the trip. Things were just starting to push the threshold of “too complicated.” Little did I know what was in store.

I shouldn’t forget to mention that on the way TO Buffalo I stopped in DC to have lunch with my favorite DC Heather.

While up in WNY I also stopped in Rochester to see Devon and have a few drinks!

On the way back FROM Buffalo I stopped in DC again for a delicious dinner made by the one and only DC Heather. An interesting and exciting week book-ended by my most constant friend.

I go off camping the NEXT WEEKEND in NC, and the Buffalo girl txt messages me “I’m engaged, are you coming to the wedding?” Wow. I say “Congratulations,” via txt (I had to) but that I don’t know if I want to go to the wedding. I then spend the next few minutes swearing to my camp mates about the situation I’d managed to get myself into.

We talk more between September and December online. My online persona apparently makes an impression.

I go visit again around Christmas time. Saying it’s for family, and it was good to see family, but of course that’s not why I made the trip at first. Again though – a learning experience that friends and family should come first.

She’s not engaged anymore around January. A surprising turn of events.

She comes to visit in January.

I go to visit at the start of February.

I’m going up again this weekend for the Tour De Beerfalo. Also, because it’s March and I haven’t seen her in a while. To be honest I have no clue what’s going on anymore. (This was written back in March of 2010, at which point I was a stupid jerk and exited the situation in the jerkiest of ways possible). Her and I are still friends after a long period of no communication. She’s married to someone else now (not the original guy).

As a post script to this whole event years ago I wanted to make this post public. I wanted to share the pictures of friends and family and also that I learned something important.

Buffalo Family Visit

My sister Jen said “I’m going back up to my HS reunion, and our cousin is having a bachelorette party / wedding shower”. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to combine some family visits with the brief time where the weather in Western New York is pleasant.

Here’s a link to the full gallery of our WNY Visit.

We stayed at my Dad’s and had a chance to check out some of the weaponry. This was fun because Matt (Jen’s BF) had never shot a gun before.

There was also old photo time. Here is me at about 16 years old working construction working with Dad. Super safe use of power tools right?

Also we saw some evidence of the Bread Box mass production line that my Bread Box came from:

Amanda also took out her horse for a little bit of a pond swim. It was pretty warm up there so the horse seemed to enjoy it.

We got a great shot of me, Amanda, Jen, and Matt all at my friend Jason’s parents’ house. Perfect weather for hanging out around a fire.

Jason and Chuck were there too which was awesome. I haven’t seen these guys together in a while so it was good to spend some time with them.

A crazy part of the weekend was helping Don and Tiffany put a roof on their house. Sort of an interesting way to spend a vacation 😉 It was fun though. Here’s Jason tearing off old shingles.

There was a FRIGGING HILARIOUS moment where we needed Jason to move a 24 ft extension ladder from one side of the house to the other. I have never seen someone do THIS to an extension ladder. I don’t even really know how it happened but you could see the gears turning in Jason’s head as we watched and laughed at him.

On a visit up to the old farm I got to see my cousin’s Ashley and Angela. I took a great picture of Ashley post-party where she’s a wreck. She wasn’t too happy that I posted this one on facebook… but that’s what family is for 🙂

You can check out the rest of the pictures. This was a good trip where I got to visit old friends and family. The weather in the WNY area couldn’t have been better. The summers up there really are perfect.

Maybe I’ll go back some day for more than just a short visit.

Lessons Learned As I Approach 30

I’m turning 30 this month. When I think back on the past decade I see a series of lessons learned. Things I’ve learned that I already knew. Things that I’ve learned by making a mistake when I knew better. Sometimes making that mistake more than once. Mostly lessons about girls are on my mind at the moment, but there are other things too. Lessons about life and about myself. In no particular rank or order:

  • Just because you can sleep with someone, doesn’t mean you should:
    • If she’s engaged.
    • If she’s already in the friend circle.
    • If you just met and she seems into you through no particular effort of your own. This always ends poorly for some reason. Only cool if you’re OK with it ending quickly. You never are unless she’s crazy. Avoid that preemptively.
    • If she’s your friend’s EX GF and he swears he’s cool with it (You should know better than to believe him.)
  • Just because you want to hit on someone, doesn’t mean you should:
    • If she’s the younger sister of your best friend’s bride at their wedding. (The bride may smack you and say “No, bad Burns!”)
    • If she’s the bride and you’re not the groom.
    • If she’s dating someone in your friend circle.
    • If she’s married to someone in your friend circle.
    • Maybe if she’s married at all, but I’m not sure on this one. Jury is out.
  • When you’ve had too much to drink, stop talking. You’re louder and more vulgar than you think.
  • Your friends will forgive you when you’re an ass, but try to be better anyway.
  • When you’re not happy
    • Change something
    • Go somewhere new.
    • Buy something. You earned the money. You are allowed to spend *some* of it.
    • Do something different that you’ve never done before. Even if it scares you or makes you uncomfortable. (Also applies to jobs.)
    • Drive then wash your cars or motorcycle. This ALWAYS works.
    • Call or visit family. They are awesome.
    • Read
  • Don’t speed so much. Sure the tickets aren’t that bad, but the insurance hikes are killer.
  • Enjoy your time alone. It’s the only way you function, but don’t withdraw completely. You like people in small doses.
  • Take more pictures!
    • Take pictures of people, not pictures of things. The people are the only thing that matters. No one wants to looks at another damn waterfall or sunset photo. Your camera is crap anyway.
    • Caption the pictures. It’s great now for sharing and even better 5 years from now.

Alright – that’s enough for now before the post gets too long. Those are the main ones. What have you guys learned lately? Am I wrong on any of these? Did I miss any favorite “Burns Lessons” that you remember me learning in some dramatic and sordid way?


CCIE Voice Written Recertification – Passed

I passed my CCIE Voice Written last Friday. My CCIE is now recertified. There was some new material I hadn’t seen before, but I still managed to squeak by with an 827/1000. Passing was 790/1000.

To celebrate I went to the beach (Emerald Isle) with Kenneth and friends. We had a pretty amazing time, although my camera battery was dead. I only got one good group shot with my phone.

Group Breakfast Shot

Another highlight of the beach weekend was printing out and bringing Cards Against Humanity (A free party game for horrible people). Wil Wheaton recommended it (via Twitter) and he knew what he was talking about. It’s a combination of mad-libs, apples to apples, and something darker. Much fun was had by all. I’m looking forward to bringing this to Hawaii.

Oh right. Internet – I’m going to Hawaii from June 2nd to June 8th to check out the Transit of Venus with a bunch of Cisco / RIT / Gaming friends. I hope to jump off something tall into the water and visit the Kona Brewery. That’s all I require. It should be awesome.

After that I’ll be in San Diego from June 9th to 15th for Cisco Live. I’m a backup speaker for a “Centralized SIP Trunking Best Practices” presentation. Our session was so popular we’re going to have to present it twice! People are really stoked about SIP Trunking.

Sometimes I think maybe they have this in mind:

Then I’m going to Buffalo June 28th – July 1st to hang out with friends and family in the frigid northlands. I have childhood memories of my father saying “Winter is coming.” Maybe I’m getting things mixed up here though.

I don’t think I have any travel plans for July. (Although I may go to Birmingham)

I’ll be 30 coming up in July. Expect a post on that at some point bemoaning my wasted youth, etc..

Random trivia – I sold my FZ6. I’m down to just a single motorcycle now!

Coffee and blog posts

I’ve taken to making myself breakfast and coffee on the weekends. Turning into an adult is actually pretty awesome (even if it took me a LONG time to start the process).

When I was a kid everyone was like “you’ll have to work so much” and “you’ll have bills to pay!”

Now that I’m actually grown up, it’s just as awesome as I thought it would be. All those naysayers of my youth must have been getting it wrong. I get to do what I want mostly whenever I want. Sure I go to work 5 days a week, and yes I have plenty of bills to pay. The upside of all that work on top of being unmarried with no kids is almost unlimited travel and hobby time.

That’s really the primary focus of this blog. I only post when I buy a new toy, or go a new place with that toy, or have awesome visits with friends.

Now that we’ve got the random thoughts preface portion out of the way, let’s continue on with updates.

  1. May and June were a blur of concerts and hang outs. I went to see random bands play in random places in downtown Raleigh.
  2. July was up in the air. Literally – I flew a plane with friends one weekend, then jumped out of a plane the next. I stole Pete’s GF Beth for a day and her friend took us up for some air time. It was a very fun time! I miss flying.

    Jumping out of a plane was a pretty awesome feeling too, but honestly my favorite part of skydiving is piloting the chute down after the jump. I just like to steer things. I did a tandem jump so I didn’t get much free fall flight control – maybe if I jumped solo I’d be more into the free fall portion of it. In tandem it just feels like wind going by fast – like on a motorcycle, but way more expensive per trip.

  3. July also saw me hanging out with this wicked cool girl Lisa who I’ve blogged about before tangentially(Last August See 3rd of July section). My regular followers will be impressed that I started hanging out with and then dating Lisa when she was actually single. Personal moral progress on my mission to not be such a terrible wreck of a person.She mentioned that she didn’t like me at first (Re: I’m a terrible person), but that she’s glad she found out there was a better person under the Quagmire-esque veneer.I’m not sure how I’ve managed to fool her for so long, but it’s going well 😉
  4. At the end of July my Step Sister Amanda decided she would fly down to Raleigh to visit. This was incredible as I hadn’t really seen the girl much since her high school graduation. When I met her she was in diapers. Now she’s 21. It’s fun to show a little sister around.We spent a night in Raleigh, then drove down to Florida to visit my other Sister Jen, my Brother Cody, and Mom and Cal (Step-Dad).Amanda had never been to the beach, so we sorted that out. We also went to the springs. Check out the cool pictures:
  5. At the end of August I spent a weekend with my motorcycle buddies and we rode from North Carolina to Indianapolis, IN to check out the MotoGP race.Check out these great pictures of girls, motorcycles, and racing:

    As part of this trip I added three new states to the map of states my motorcycle wheels have touched:

    I also learned that a 700 lb Kawasaki Concours with 180lb rider can easily drive up onto a curb if that’s where the hotel valet wants you to park. Who knew it would be so simple? After much trepidation I just drove up on that damn curb, no hassle.

  6. After getting back from MotoGP in Indianapolis I took another long weekend for a camping and Jeeping trip up at Rausch Creek in PA. This place was gigantic, exciting, and had gorgeous trails.
    Andy, Shapess and I have many good memories and stories about the place. There is nothing quite like a long weekend of camping and Jeeping with buddies. Although I’ll admit I’ve had my fill of dude hang outs lately. Bring back the female social interactions please. Or put more simply: Boobs.

    Here are some awesome Jeeping and camping pictures:

  7. Not only has life involved all sorts of social interactions and vacation happenings, it’s also been busy at work.
    I’ve been applying and interviewing for a position in Advanced Services for a while now. It was a tough decision to make. There are so many things I love about my current job and my current team. Part of me wants to stay in this spot forever because of the things I like about it. I’m really going to miss the team and being able to help everyone solve complicated problems every day. I’ll miss being the technical expert who can come in and kick a problem square in the nuts and at the same time do some training of new guys coming in.

    However, I think after 6 years my stress levels of constantly being on the hook or on the phone with customers on their worst days, has taken its toll. You try to steel yourself against the customer who says they’ve spent millions of dollars and now everything is down and they need you to fix it ASAP and make sure it never happens again, but they do take their toll, one piece of sanity at a time.

    Some customers are great, patient, understanding, appreciative of your time, and know that some problems just can’t be instantly fixed.

    Some customers are ungrateful, impatient, uncooperative, willfully ignorant of basic facts and reality (even when clearly presented to them), and set expectations so unrealistic that their lives are guaranteed to be a constant disappointment for them. Some people have problems that I can’t solve. Some people just want to watch the world burn 😉

    That’s tough for me. I like being able to solve the problem, and then being recognized as the bad ass without whom it would not have been possible.

    Have you ever seen House? When House makes his diagnosis he walks away. He’s solved the puzzle – figured it out. The patient themselves are not the prize, it’s solving the puzzle. That’s my motivation – interesting puzzles.

    This new job is going to be designing and deploying voice solutions for customers who contract with us. I believe it will go like this:

    Customer wants solution / Customer is sold solution
    I come in and help gather requirements for design and implementation
    I present design and deployment plan
    I deploy and verify success
    Next project

    I’m excited to get started on it at the end of October. The two main differences are going to be:

    Project lifecycle has clear start and end points (as opposed to non stop incoming cases)
    Customer is paying you for the work you perform (as opposed to customers having paid a flat service contract fee ahead of time, entitling them to have their problem fixed no matter how long it takes)

    Also – travel and more work from home. I’m going to get to see some places and spend more time enjoying the downtown digs.

All in all – life is pretty damn good right now. I’m excited to see what this next chapter of personal and professional development brings.

Now my coffee pot is empty and it’s time to take on the rest of the day. Hope you enjoyed the updates.

Buffalo Visit – Tiffany and Don’s Wedding and other great friends.

This past weekend I went up to Buffalo for Don and Tiffany’s wedding. You can find some great pictures of the wedding here:

Don and Tiff's Wedding

I drove the Z up on Thursday to stop by and have dinner with my dad, and to go see Jaime. That’s an interesting story because I “met” her at my HS reunion. I know what you’re thinking, how do you meet someone at your HS reunion, don’t you know them already? Well yes I suppose that’s true, but when you have a terrible memory for people like I do, and 10 years go by, it’s like meeting someone again for the first time.

I drove the 10 hours up to my dad’s then the 35 minutes out to East Aurora for coffee, then around EA, then back out to Delevan, than back out to EA. We wound up staying out WAY too late, which turned out to be a fun time for everyone. I didn’t make it back home until somewhere around 5AM, at which point my dad was already working on getting up and doing chores.

Friday I went out to see Elementary school friends Janette and Will. That’s always a blast from the past when you can hang out with someone you remember from 2nd grade!

Friday night I spent at my Uncle’s place where my grandmother cooked dinner. Home cooked meal == win!!!

Saturday was the wedding proper which worked out really well. I was partially responsible for some of the decorations. It was my job to light all of the candles hanging from the trees in mason jars. After a few drinks I don’t know what I was doing at the top of a ladder, but I survived. The lights came out great:

You can look through all of the pictures to find some ridiculous dancing, and me getting to hang out with a ton of old HS friends. Always a great time.

On Sunday I made it home from the wedding at about 7AM, just in time to eat breakfast at my Dad’s, and then go to sleep! When I woke up I made a trip out to Rochester to hang out with Kaija and Devon. It was interesting to meet Kaija for the first time after chatting with her online for nearly a decade (wow).

Monday I made the long trek back home to Raleigh.

In the end the odometer says 1700 new miles, and 31 hours of seat time!

My left leg calf was really sore from all that clutching. I’m just not that used to it. The Z drove great minus some hydroplaning issues in the rain. I enjoy road trips more than any sane and normal person should! My friends told me I should be a truck driver since I love driving around so much.

Now I’m back in Raleigh after being in DC for business. Just back in time for Matt and Candra’s wedding. I need a weekend of rest to prepare for it!

Busy lately – Camping, Jeeping, Motorcycling, Partying

I haven’t posted in quite a while. That time has been filled with all sorts stuff. I’ve been riding my motorcycle around, going camping and Jeeping, Ward’s wedding, more motorcycling, and just hanging out with people around Raleigh and Chapel Hill.

I guess I’ll start with links to albums in chronological order, just to document things. I have such a backlog of stuff that I can’t really write it all out in detail. Instead, we’ll skip straight to the pics, and brief blurbs.

Pete and I took our motorcycles down to the beach one random day for lunch. We ate, walked around looking at girls in bikini’s then we turned around for Easter Dinner.

I went to Ward’s wedding and met up with a whole bunch of RIT and Cisco folks. It was incredible to have everyone together again. There was a lot of bittersweet talk about how this was the first and maybe last large reunion of so many RIT grads in one place.
Ward's wedding

There was camping and Jeeping after that.

Brendan and I took a random Thursday after that and went up to Richmond, VA to see Flogging Molly and Big D and the Kid’s table. They added ridiculously hot dancers. I was immediately in love. We also met up with Esther and her friend that night. It made for a long night. I eventually wound up riding my motorcycle at home from the Cisco parking lot at 3AM. Heated grips are AMAZING!

The next night we went out for Sasha’s birthday party. Raleigh was in full blown skirt season. It was excellent.

The first week of May is a Blur. Brendan’s friend Daniel had a grad party

I saw Steve’s band Idiom play at The Berkely. We met a cute Brunette that worked at an Animal Hospital

Aric had a house warming party where it was decided that everyone loved this girl

We also ran into another short Brunette who had opinions on whether or not Earth should be keeping a backup planet in the works for disaster recovery. Awesome.

Shapess, Andy and I had a random day out at Uwharrie. I had time to dial in the scope on my 22, AND spent some time shooting Shapess’ AK-47. Too much fun there.

On May 12th Kenneth, Pete, and I drove down to Charlotte to see Say Anything and Angels and Airwaves. Say Anything put on a good show but the set was too short unfortunately. It was nice to know that the girls belt out the lyrics to “Every Man Has a Molly” even louder than the guys.

You god damned kids had best be gracious with the Merch money you spend.
Cause for you I won’t ever have rough sex with Molly Connolly again.

I met a beautiful girl with so many awesome traits it’s hard to believe she actually exists.
1. Bartender
2. Graduated Culinary School
3. Loves the music scene
4. Gorgeous
5. Incredibly friendly / nice
6. Brunette
7. Tiny
8. Likes jeeps and motorcycles, knows how to replace a radiator.

Doubtful that said girl will actually get in touch with me – but it was a good night regardless. Another weeknight of getting home around 3AM. Energy drinks are my savior.

Just last night I went to a Skinny Tie Party at Justin Tiexera’s place.

I proceeded to introduce myself to a girl so forcefully that she immediately notified me she was someone elses wife. I need to do a better job looking for rings.
I also met another beautiful brunette who can bust out the quadratic equation at the drop of a ‘hat’. Math teachers for the win. There was Rock Band. People rocked out to Coheed and Cambria, and I sang my heart out to NIN – The Hand That Feeds. I don’t even need the scrolling words to sing this one:

And finally – today I went on an awesome motorcycle ride out to Wilson NC with my motorcycle gang. We hit up Parker’s BBQ and it was delicious. There was some really beautiful back country and great roads between here and Wilson if you avoid the highway.

After riding around NC I went over to Andy’s house and helped him tinker on his new front axle. We removed the diff cover and took out the locker, getting it ready for the new axle. We also greased up his lower control arms, and I drilled some holes for his new bump stops.

I am now VERY tired just thinking about all of that.

The future holds a trip to DC to see the air and space museum, and hopefully a trip out to the mountains with my Mom to check out the roads there.

In other non fun related matters, I’ve REALLY got to recertify my CCIE 🙁

Song Lyrics – Thinking of Dad

My father has a way of changing a phrase or song lyric to make it inappropriate. I think it’s something I was either genetically gifted with, or learned through repetition. Maybe both!

I was listening to Say Anything – I Want To Know Your Plans

Which as you can see is a stirring love song about a man professing his love for a girl. This man pours out his soul saying that this girl is his primary motivation for life, the universe, and everything.

Say Anything Version: I Want To Know Your Plans

Burns Version: I Want To See Your Boobs

I think Dad would approve. I should go visit that guy sometime.