Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Facebook 101

Facebook was founded in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and his college roommates.  It was probably founded in their dorm room since I doubt there are many garages on the Harvard campus.  Why I am telling you this?  You’ve probably already seen the movie. 

I haven’t yet seen the movie, but I’ve finally gone onto facebook.com and set up an account.  Before I did so, I took the time to read all the privacy information and learned how I can control what is on my Facebook site.  This was a good thing.  The security geeks that I‘ve worked with for so many years worried (and continue to worry) about how easy it was for hackers to get personally-identifiable information (PII) from Facebook pages.  Turns out I didn’t have to put too much PII in at all, and I don’t have to display any of it – even to my “friends.”

And friends – wow!  The algorithms that Zuckerberg and company created are just amazing.  I had found 19 friends in the half-hour it took me to set up my profile!  As of today, I have 74.  In contrast, it took me weeks to get 16 followers on Twitter. 

I didn’t even have to consult the kids.  My daughter signed up right away to be my Facebook friend.  I don’t expect to hear from my son, though.  What self-respecting 25 year old man wants his mother as a Facebook friend? 

This could be scary time consuming.  In fact, one of my new “friends” warned me not to become obsessed.  I’ll do my best.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Being Social

My good friend Charlie once wrote, “Be social or be irrelevant.”  While I was busy working for Corporate America, being irrelevant didn’t seem too bad, but now that I’m about to reinvent my life, I’m thinking relevance may be a good thing.  

While I’ve always enjoyed being “found” in LinkedIn, I haven’t really focused on promoting myself.  It’s time to change that.  I updated my LinkedIn profile a few days ago.   Finally completed my profile, added a photo, and joined a couple of groups focusing on writing.   I’ve even posted the links to both my blogs!

Back to Charlie, who taught me the ins and outs of Twitter over margaritas in St. Paul.  Of course, after the salt and lime wore off I realized that I wasn’t ready for any of my friends to know just how close I was to retiring – yet, so the Twitter account I’d created for this blog was out.  No problem – I’d just create another one.  I sent my first Tweet using the new account from the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport.
I’ve been maintaining two Twitter accounts for nearly a year.  I say maintaining because in reality I didn’t do either of them justice.  Compartmentalizing myself made me seem shallow – dare I say boring – in both places.  It’s time to pull myself together and consolidate my Twitter accounts.  I’ll be inviting all my followers @cherylrtrr to follow me @cheri0429.  

Sigh – I guess I’m going to have to join Facebook next.  Good thing I have children to show me the ropes!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Maiden Voyage

We picked up the fifth wheel on Friday, March 9 in Hinckley, Utah – which is just about five miles west of the middle of nowhere.  After a short visit with Ray and Patsy, the real work began.  It’s quite a production to hitch the trailer to the truck.  Patsy recommended we make a checklist.  Not a bad idea.

Off for our first road trip to get the feel for driving, parking, and living in the “coach.”  Hooked up to the truck, the “rig” is about 45 feet in length, and the coach itself weighs 12,500 lbs.  The truck sang as we drove along – it was finally doing what it was meant to do.  But the cost of gas was not a song – pulling hills we only get 7 miles per gallon.  Ouch!  We decided then and there that we would not be doing any cross-country road trips.  

Our first destination – Ely, Nevada.  Why?  We’d never been there before and it was a good stop after three hours of driving.  Ely was founded in the 1870s as a post office and stagecoach stop.  The city grew with the discovery of copper in 1915; but suffered a significant downturn when the copper mines closed in 1978.  The town still looks like an old mining town.  There were few modern buildings and – unfortunately for us – even fewer parking lots that would accommodate a 50 foot rig.  We ended up doubling back to the KOA outside of town.  Did you know you can plug in cable TV at a KOA?  

Our second night was spent at Wendover, Nevada, where they had a parking lot just for us – well, for us and about 50 semis that rolled in an out all night.  There was plenty of room to spread out, and just a short walk from two casinos.  

I told Paul that I would be happy to drive the rig – going forward!  I have been the subject of much laughter as I have attempted to back other trailers.  In the end, he wasn’t comfortable letting me drive – just yet.  I’m sure my opportunity will come.

The final challenge came when we brought the rig home.  As we knew before we even investigated buying a fifth-wheel – our driveway just isn’t big enough.  It sits there as I write, leaving me barely enough room to pull my car into the garage.  

It’s too big for the driveway.  It’s too much work for road trips.  But it’s just right for spending a summer in the mountains.  Can’t wait to take it up there – and get it out of the driveway!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's Official


That was the first word out of my manager’s mouth when I told her that I planned to retire at the end of May.  She proceeded to congratulate me and made it very clear that she was supportive; just as I made it very clear that I was available to do whatever needed to be done to transition my workload.

I have to tell you – I was really nervous about telling her.  I’m not sure why – maybe I was afraid she’d tell me to pack up and leave immediately.  The next several calls were a bit easier – although the initial reactions of most of the people I told were similar.  I heard from each of these people that my work was valued and that I would be missed.  I felt good.  

Word travels fast.  Within minutes of “the announcement” email going out, I was barraged by well wishes, usually prefaced with expressions of surprise.  My favorite read, “I didn’t know we allowed people to retire at age 21 J  Other favorites included “Congratulations!  Sucks to be us!” and “Have you hooked up the trailer yet?”  

Hooking up the trailer on Friday. :)