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.

All Work. No Play.

Makes me a dull boy:

Every weekend of mine is planned out until March 16th. I have either Saturday change windows, Friday windows, or on March 11th a full on 14 hour session starting at midnight and going all day Sunday.

Maybe the worst part is I chose this schedule myself to hit optimistic deadlines.

At least I usually only work 6 days a week.

When my March windows are done with I’m going to take some serious time off from work.

The Kills – Tape Song

Normally I don’t post this frequently, but I was rocking out at work listening to Pandora.

It decided to spit out one amazing song after another! I’ve heard this one before and wish there was a bigger Thumbs Up button that I could hit. If this song were a married girl I would hit on it inappropriately.

Time aint gonna cure you honey. Time dont give a shit.

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.

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 🙁

Networkers / San Francisco: Day 1

I rolled out of bed at 4:07 AM on Sunday morning. Waited for a severely late Pete, and just barely got on the plane before they closed the doors at 6:05AM.

We got into SF around 1PM local time after taking the BART to Market Street. Little did we know that we were dropped straight into the Gay Pride Parade.

I joked with my friends that I should get a rainbow feather boa. When i got off the train 3 girls in front of us actually had rainbow feather boas. I didn’t even know they made them when I was joking about it.

Checking into the 28th floor of the Westin with a view of Alcatraz.
(Will insert pic later)

Walked from Market to the Embarcadero. Late lunch at Boudin’s. Walk the Ghiradelli for chocolate sample.

Walked back to the hotel on a “Stop at every tiny bar” route. This took many hours.

The first bar had $2 Guinness. It also was an Irish pub / Curry place. What?

We sat down next to random dudes who offered our table weed. We politely declined, but these guys were pretty cool. Remember the guys from “Training Day” who almost blew the guys head off in the tub? These were those guys.

The next stop was a “Rogue Brewery” bar. They had a ton of Rogue bers on tap which were delicious.

Next stop was some small Italian place I’ll never remember the name of. We walked to one section of town, and there were so many Italian restaurants to choose from that it was ridiculous.

That’s when we started on the wine.

After that we walked a long way home. Back at the hotel I still blew a .09 with my breathalyzer. Yay for not having to drive back home!

And now, breakfast.

Random Update – Off to Networkers

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything. Not a ton going on besides tons of work. I’m in desperate need of a vacation!

I have a week of “semi-work-related” activity ahead of me. I’m headed to San Francisco for Cisco Live! Networkers. I’m actually pretty excited about this. A whole week in SF talking about VoIP with customers, and hanging out after the convention at night.

I went back in 2007 and had a great time. It’s always good to meet the customers and meet up with TAC engineers from other parts of the US.

Here are all of the pictures from the last time I went.

I leave on Sunday, June 28th and don’t get back until Sunday, July  6th. I’ll post pics and update with stories as they become available.

CCIE Attempt #3 – PASS – Voice CCIE # 20707

I passed my CCIE Voice certification.

After three grueling attempts I am finished. I managed to come out passing with CCIE # 20707.

This last test I really destroyed. I walked out of there a few minutes before the exam ended because I knew it was done.

I put as much brain power into it as I had with me. The lab was finished to the best of my ability. Apparently my ability is enough to get a CCIE.

Awesome.

I now am free to focus on anything I like. The burden of unfinished responsibility is no longer mine to bear.

I am going to celebrate. After that I am going to figure out what to do with $5000 dollars. Something shiny with an engine *might* be in order.

And now.. on to the rest of my goals:

1. Tour NC on my motorcycle
2. Get pilot license again
3. Write google calendar integration plugin for pidgin
4. See a motogp race
5. Rebuild web server / mail server for hosting

CCIE Attempt #3

I just finished my third attempt at the Voice CCIE today.

My first impressions:

1. Wow, I’ve never seen any of these questions before.

2. Wow, I can do all of this.

3. Man, I kicked that tests ass.

Things went much better than the first two attempts.

And now… Cinco De Mayo!!!

I have to wait to get my results back tomorrow. I hope like hell that I passed. The grading can be a real bitch on this test and it’s completely possible that I’ll fail again… even though I think I’ve done everything correctly.

I’ll post again when I have results tomorrow.