Dwivian's Life Storyas told to his servant Morden
I can't imagine why anyone would want to read info about me. But, if you really are interested, here you go. Please, after reading this, look into getting a life. This isn't really all that exciting.
I was born a poor boy in a poor family. Well, no money, anyway. If we had nothing else we had each other, and that should be enough for anyone. My father was a Music Director for Hogansville High School in scenic Hogansville, Georgia. Mom was a school secretary, I think. She mostly took my sister (Lisa, who demanded a mention in this web page upon pain of divulging to my wife the location of some pictures I had thought were carefully hidden) and I to the clinic when we started bleeding on whatever was nearby, and taught me about rocks. We lived on Corinth Road for most of what I remember there, with a short stint before that on Johnson, across from the funeral home. I remember riding my bike up and down the yards behind my house, visiting Mr King (who had deer heads on his walls and toys for us to play with, and the electric lawn mower), and listening to the babysitter sing "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia." The song still hits me hard.
We moved to Cornelia, Georgia, so that my father could take a job as Music Director for South Habersham Junior High School (yes, back in THOSE days there were junior high schools instead of middle schools. And, we'd just gotten dirt invented, too.) My mother worked as a Bus Driver and Assistant for the special education unit in White County driving the short school bus. I finally graduated from high school in Habersham County, after failing to attend any Homecoming dance or my Junior or Senior Prom, with several honors for being quite the geek. By that time my father had left the teaching profession to work in the security force for Wells Fargo at the local division of Johnson & Johnson, and my mother was going back to college to become a chemist. They both succeeded better than I think they expected!
I however didn't select to go to M.I.T., or Georgia Tech, or some other good geek school. Instead I left for the University of Georgia to study to be a teacher, but instead marched with the Redcoat Band, participated in the Air Force ROTC, and never did finish a degree. I got a cool job doing program testing for the Computer Software Management Information Center, which is the software clearing house for NASA. My experience there with the IBM Unix offering on the RS/6000 paved the way for my leaving college entirely and taking a job in systems administration for Dickens Data Systems.
I worked as the Dickens Systems Administrator/Telecom Admin/MIS Director type for over three years, consolidating three offices into one, supervising network design and installation, managing several RS/6000 computers, along with an RT-135, and an AT&T Definity G3iV2 Switch. It was cool, and I learned a lot. I was finally making a career for myself, and I got to keep my weird clothes, bad habits, and gross incompetence! What a world! I was on cloud 0x09.
I also had my first real relationship outside of college at this time, when I dated a nice girl for a couple of years, got engaged, moved in together, and started looking at getting a house and a mortgage and a marriage certificate. All was on track for the happily-ever-after gig, when suddenly I realized that I'm a pig, and not worthy to be co-dependant for life with such a wonderful person. The date was 6 June 1994. D-Day. I remember it well, for not only did I lose my support of a future wife and nice place to live, but....
Dickens decided to downsize a little, and I lost my job. Well, there goes my sanity. I began a watch on my family to see who was going to die to complete the descent into hell. Fortunately, God had more in store for me, so I missed out on the complete disaster, and instead found something good to hold me together. I returned to Church, finding one in Atlanta that I finally liked -- the "Smells & Bells High Church" of the Church of Our Saviour; an Anglo-Catholic Episcopal Parish in the Diocese of Atlanta.
I went to Chateau Elan, an Atlanta winery and spa, to apply for a job. It's a really cool place, even if their wines are just now becoming good enough to dodge the cooking pots for glasses. I learned more than I had previously wanted to about wine, including what to look for as a good table wine, what serves well to bring out various flavors in foods, and how to make a Merlot by leaving a box of grapes out in the sun under a tarp, with the occasional addition of yeast and a big stirring paddle. It worked pretty well, too! I even went back and bought a bottle later to see how it turned out, since I took my turn stirring. Not bad, for bucket wine... *grin*
Dickens decided they needed me back, but didn't want to put me back into systems administration. I think my bad habits, weird clothes, and other things finally caught up to me. They instead wanted to make use of my AIX skillset solving problems for our customers. This is commonly known as "Phone Support", but after a while I showed that I could be trusted to go out to meet the customer and I worked on a wide variety of hardware in the RS/6000 line, installing, updating, and otherwise making cool things happen with each of them for the people that wanted our services.
The Customer Support center divided, like a cell, into left and right sides (we stayed in our same cubes, though), for phone support and tech support. We then became "Professional Support", then "Technical Services", then "Professional Services." I think. We changed a lot in our restructuring back then. Well, not really. We never changed what we did, only how we called ourselves as we did it.
During all of this strange work I began dating a wonderful person who established a necessarily open communications channel with me, making it the first time that complete honesty and openness was a part of my relationship. Not that I'm horribly deceitful, but I do look like a highly bronzed greek god, and am known for my acts of prowess, and I bench press cars for fun....well, not really. What my long-term problem was, and still is a lot of the time, is merely the issue of openness. I don't open up easily, and I really don't relax around people. This was a problem in all my relationships, and when my new lady love and I discussed it, she had a really cool plan to thwart it. So far, communication has worked to make this less of an issue than it ever had been before.
Laura and I dated for a relatively short time before we got engaged. I think it was either two weeks (when we first discussed it) or three months (when Laura got baptized by my Grandfather Stabler, Methodist Minister, Retired). Either way, we knew from the beginning that this was something we wanted to do, and began the long and arduous process to test our plan. We could have gotten married shortly thereafter, but we wanted to take things slowly, so I helped Laura move out on her own (so she could live on her own means, pay her own bills, and learn household organizational skills). She dragged me to the required marital councellor, Fr. John Bolton, who called me an idiot several times.
In all, it was going well. We were learning each other, making strides in our faith, and As a couple we were meeting new and interesting challenges instead of fighting against each other's ideas. This was an entirely new experience for me in the long-term process!
When Dickens decided to restructure massively, the Professional Services department became a division of the Sales side of the house (we were a profit center, after all -- made the numbers look nice). A short while later, while we finally moved away from the Phone Support group to our own little area, Dickens announced a REALLY major restructure. We got bought by Pioneer (PIOS).
Somewhere in here Laura and I got married at the Church of Our Saviour, and I left for travel after a single day honeymoon. The purchase of Dickens nee Keylink nee Pioneer gave me some good benefits (to pay for my wife and step-daughter), lots of travel (so I never saw my wife and step-daughter), and good skills. As the final closure of the deal took place, I learned something I didn't realize: Lots of paperwork later (and a cashing in of my stock options, which paid for my honeymoon trip to Ireland with my beautiful wife Laura), we were our own nice little company.
Yes, the services division seperated to become Dickens Services Group with only a partial holding as a Pioneer Company, while Dickens Data became a wholly owned subsidiary. They changed their name, we changed ours, and I had lots of really nice polo shirts that barely fit me anymore (living on the road like I was, I began to expand) with a logo that was meaningless. I still use them to mow the lawn, and other yardwork, when I lose enough girth to fit in them reasonably.
The company continued to work towards delivering excellent AIX services to North America, and I got to travel quite a bit. In fact, I was travelling so much that my wife began to get a bit upset with never having me around. When I brought this issue up to my boss, he handed me a contract with a local company who needed really esoteric skills. Fortunately I am a king of esoteria (well, minor baron, but the current king is off playing trivia games), so I was a good fit.
I contracted with Fundtech, a company for which I had no knowledge, references, or easy recognition. Well, that hasn't stopped me before, so I drove out to meet my contacts, and discover my duties.
What they needed was someone with skills in Disaster Recovery softare, specifically Clam Associates, now Availant software called HA/CMP and HAGeo. No problem. Got it in spades. Went to THEIR customer, and built a HAGeo connection to a DR site. Wow. Nice deal, and some travel, but I get to stay at home too! Can't be beat!
My travel for Fundtech was much less than for DSG, and now I discovered the perils of staying home. Laura bought the test, and we announced on 25 December 1998 that we were going to have a new munchkin in the world shortly. Estimated arrival was mid August, 1999. We avoided any knowledge of gender so that it would be a surprise, and we began the cleanup that continues to this very day, so that our house might be more baby-proof.
At the annual meeting, I discovered that I was expected to start travelling again, and quite a lot. In fact, a major deal would put me out of the country during the time my wife would be delivering our child. Now, I'm not one to want to sour a deal, and I wished the company well in their profits, but I just couldn't travel as much and be part of my family. I broached the subject several times with management, but I wasn't getting a particularly positive response. So, I took the only route I could discern...
I offered my services to FundTech after the contract expired. They, wisely, snapped me up, and made me a manager over other engineers here. My travel is almost non-existant, but I do get to help people (like a mentor) when they go do what I used to do. Yes, I took a pay cut. A substantial one, as road warriors get paid nice commission for being away from home so much. But, I got the benefits of being home with my family, seeing my newest daughter born, and teaching others the esoteric skills necessary to make a recognizable difference in the computing arena.
But, the whale was getting closer and closer to nineveh..... more later.