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?

-Burns

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!

CCIE Voice Written Studying + Bayside

I’ve been studying like crazy lately. The CCIE Voice Written has become more difficult since the last time I attempted to pass it for recertification. Every two years I have to pass the multiple choice part to keep the certification active.

I’m at a bit of a disadvantage because I’ve heard a lot of the material is similar to CVOICE. I’ve never done the CVOICE cert, so now I’m reading through the 700+ page book this week. Wish me luck for Friday. I’ve already failed this stupid test twice (by a razor thin margin) and I’m REALLY hoping I won’t have to go through that again. I can’t stand being less than excellent in my field of excellence. This was the one thing I was still good at 😛

ANYWAY – I was studying and this Bayside song came on that I’ve probably posted before.

Do you ever wake up to realize
that your life is meaningless?
Does it give you strength or lead
you to your grave at a young age?

I have an easy answer for this. Every time I’ve woken up and gone “Why the fuck am I doing this again? It doesn’t mean anything.” I’m able to say “Fuck it – do whatever you want. Do what makes you happy. You’re doing it because you want to.”

It’s empowering.

Maybe I’m spoiled because I’m responsible to no one but myself. It doesn’t hurt that the job pays the bills pretty well. At any point I could quit, move across the country (or ride my motorcycle there), and start all over again. I probably won’t, but I could.

Maybe I should search for something to give my life meaning, purpose, some greater goal. For now though, I’m pretty happy with being financially stable, able to take epic vacations, ride or drive anything that’s dangerously powerful, and drink my face off once in a while with friends. Is there more to it than that? I don’t care. Ask me in a few years.

Sometimes I go back and read old blog posts. I’m WAY happier now.

New Years Snowboarding in Vail, CO

I spent my Mandatory PTO / New Years in Vail, Colorado. I really wish the snow could have been better – but the front side of the mountain was open and it was an awesome time! The place is huge.

I went with Pete, Kenneth, Paul Harvin, Pete’s friend Brandon, and Kenneth’s brother Jeff and Jeff’s wife Mariana. It was crowded but fun. We apparently all like to drink because I had to recycle two giant trash bags of empty beer bottles!

Check out some pictures of the trip here:

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.

A Midsummer Night’s Blog Post

I’ve been ridiculously busy since my last blog post. I’m starting to keep track of things by having my picture folders include the full date in the folder name. Otherwise I’d have no way to remember what order things came in.

In chronological, photographical order here is what I’ve been up to:

Marcy came down to visit Lauren and we all spent a few nights hanging out. It was a really great time.

Raleigh Times:

The Pit and The Saucer:

Matt’s House for Matt and Lauren’s Birthday, followed by Napper Tandy’s:

That one is a pic of Marcy trying out the Rum siphon. Engineering + Alcohol = WIN!

The weekend after Marcy visited, I went out Jeeping with Brendan, Garland, Andy, and Shapess in Mountain City, TN. It was a full Jeep caravan to Callalantee. This place was pretty awesome. We found a Jeep playground to jump over things, as well as some very cool logging trails up mountains!

After Jeeping in TN I decided it would be an amazing idea to ride my motorcycle to NYC from NC to go to a Brewfest on Governor’s Island. I was correct.

I stayed with Pete at his Parents’ place on Long Island for a few nights, as well as spending a drunken night in Manhattan with Munns. It was fun to finally visit Munns and see him in his natural concrete habitat.

Here is the gang drunk on the island. Just like old times:

My back, hands, and wrists were sore for a week after that trip! It’s a hell of a long ride on a motorcycle to just tackle on a long weekend, but definitely an adventure.

I took the weekend of June 25th off for actual relaxing (I think).

The next misadventure was the 3rd of July party at Justin’s house. I proceeded to get liberally sloshed and make a new drinking partner (Ruri) who can drink more tequila than I can, while at the same time thoroughly making an ass of myself. It seems the two go hand in hand. I woke up the next morning on Justin’s couch.. knowing that there was something I should apologize for – but not what exactly. Either way – I had fun!

If I hit on your friend, girlfriend, fiance, or wife (or any combination thereof) I’m sorry. That just happens.

I don’t even remember this picture at all! No one should have let me near fireworks.

I hear they found me asleep in a chair on the back porch and then wrangled me to the couch. I have no recollection of that either.

After much recovering, it was decided that I should start drinking at a more moderate pace.

I spent a weekend of general sobriety Jeeping at Gulches ORV Park in South Carolina with Andy, Nadine, Cam, and Shapess:

Sobriety lasted until the weekend after that – when I decided I hadn’t yet put enough miles on the Jeep, so I drove it to New York. That’s NY trip number 2 of the summer. Probably the 4th time I’ve been to NY so far this year!

Marcy has a cottage up on Seneca Lake in NY. Finger Lakes Wine Country! There was a Wine Fest in the infield at Watkin’s Glen. I drove up with Lauren and Brendan to spend a very long, very relaxing weekend. We floated around in the lake, drank some wine, and took a lap around the race track in a pace car. We even managed to fit a trip into Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse.

Here’s the view from the Lake House

Here’s Brendan very sad about the number of our sign for picking up the wine:

Here’s Brendan and I taking a drunk ride (as passengers) around Watkin’s Glen:

After spending so much time in the Jeep it was time to spend a little less time behind the wheel.

That doesn’t mean I was done travelling though!! This past weekend I went BACK up to New York for my 10 year HS reunion. It was certainly an interesting time. Seeing everyone again brought back a bit of nostalgia (which was to be expected), but also turned out to be a much better time than I thought it would:

After the reunion we drove around town looking for bars that were still open. Quite an adventure.

This weekend I helped Pete move from his small 2BR in Chapel Hill to a big house with a 3 car Garage Mahal. We loaded up a massive truck with furniture and assorted boxes of crap. The best part of helping was getting to pilot his BMW R1200RT over to his place while he towed his other two motorcycles on a trailer. Woo motorcycle.

I’ve finally unpacked from all that travelling and done some laundry.

I’m beat.

I’ve become unstuck though. I want to go somewhere else now.

The summer has one more trip to NYC planned, and then WHO KNOWS? More motorcycling? More Jeeping? A road trip in the Z? We’ll see.

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.
Wings

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.
Jeeps

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 🙁

2010 Kawasaki Concours 14

I went down to Team Powersports in Smithfield on Saturday morning. Justin let me test ride the 09 demo model they had there. First, everyone in the shop seemed very cool. Second, this bike is big and heavy, but once you get on it that all disappears. It handled like a featherweight at slow city traffic speeds. U turns and figure 8s are no problem. At highway speed it would lay over left and right with just a little flick.

In 4th gear when pulling out to pass someone at about 60 mph you can do about 100 by the time you’re at the front of the car you’re trying to pass. It doesn’t have a buzzy high revving 600cc sportbike power. It’s a sneaky, large 1.4L displacement power that just rockets you up to speed without much noise.

The adjustable windshield was pretty awesome. I’m really excited about putting on some serious miles now that I have a machine made for it.

Knee Slider Review

Cycle World Review

After the test ride I wound up buying the 2010 ABS model. They’re putting it together from the warehouse and it should be ready sometime this week.

The rest of my time and energy will be spent on hooking up my Zumo 550 and maybe even the XM radio feature, and planning routes. Anybody want to ride up to Indianapolis for MotoGP in August with Pete Slow and myself?

PS3 – Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time

After a night out for Drinksgiving, I wound up at Brendan’s house because I was unable to drive home. Woo for passing out on a futon.

In the morning I woke up and realized that video games are awesome. I tooled around on Brendan’s PS3 hooked up to a big ass HD TV and had a bunch of fun playing the demo for Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time.

It had some really cool game play features, like creating a snapshot of your past self to help you solve puzzles. Your past self could go off somewhere else to push a button that opens a door while your current self went through the door.

All of this got me thinking… I don’t own a nice TV, and I don’t own a video game system. I *could* buy a big ass HD TV as well as a PS3, and I’d be moving into the modern world. If I could get my computer hooked up to it, it would be even better.

It’s either that, or I’m just buying myself a 30″ LCD for my computer.

Your thoughts?