April 16th
A Bit Of Advice
I know all too well what it's like to work at a place that seems like a dead end. To feel not wanted and under appreciated. I know what it feels like to hold most of the cards and still not being able to use them because that one card you don't hold could potentially trump you anyway.

However, attitude means a great deal. When I wrote my reviews earlier this year for my team, the new guy is the only person who didn't get a mediocre review. The reason for this is that his attitude has been fantastic while with the rest of my team their attitude has not been less than satisfactory. Today really demonstrated my justification for addressing this issue in their reviews.

My most senior technician couldn't fix something today. It sounded like it should have been an easy fix, but knowing the product he was working on I know that isn't always the case. So I told him to set it to the side and I would look at it later today. After lunch I was probing around trying to reproduce the fault. It was fairly intermittent at first and I couldn't do anything concrete to bring it about it. I decided to flex the board. The first issue was now there 100% of the time, and a new issue popped up.

When you flex a PCB and it stops working this normally indicates bad solder joints or open tracks. I still wasn't quite sure where to look for the problem, at the input where it goes through some microprocessors, or the output, where a transistor is being used as a constant current source to help drive a contactor. Checking the inputs I could not find any issues. I sat back, took a deep breath and decided to go to the output, an area my technician had already supposedly thoroughly looked over. I start to probe the bad area and I notice one of the current sensing resistors had some cracked solder by it in the section that wasn't working. I use my multi-meter and lightly press the leads to the two points where there should be a connection. No continuity! This tells me that the multi-meter is detecting an open path, whether it's a soldering issue or an open track.

Reflowing the cracked solder joint fixed the issue. I did the same thing to the other issue and that issue went away. Now when I see issues like this, I know that sometimes heat can make an open track expand just enough to make a connection to the point where it works. I cleaned the board and let it sit for about ten minutes. This should have given is sufficient time to cool. I tested the board again, no issues. I started to flex the board, no issues. I did a quick thermal cycle on the board, no issues. At this point I'm confident I've fixed the board. This all took me two hours to do, where he spent six hours getting nowhere. While I too dislike working on those boards due to the numerous issues we've had with them over the years, I don't let those type of challenges bring me down when it comes to getting the job done. Here, he was already defeated before he started. I see this frequently.

My second technician is relatively seasoned. He's not a stupid guy, but he often plays stupid due to his laziness. He encountered an issue he never saw before. Upon seeing this failure he mentally gave up before he even started to try. Suddenly the control was a piece of shit every step of the way. I had to hold his hand every step of the way on fixing it to ensure that he didn't swap out the board. He's not so busy that he can't spend the time troubleshooting seven components for that circuit.

I'm not sure what's more frustrating for me - not knowing how to change their attitudes, or the fact that they'd rather give up before they start.

I guess the question is, how does this fully equate into any advice I'm trying to convey. As I stated before I know full well what's it like to feel defeated. The difference between me and them is that just because I might feel defeated doesn't mean I am defeated. I persevere through it. I make sure I come out victorious. It really is all about attitude. Try to have a positive attitude at all times. Your bosses and managers will notice. You are more likely to move up in the company, more likely to be given special projects, more likely to be given bigger raises if you aren't always a debby-downer. If you want more money and more opportunities, show that you have the right attitude for it. I'm not saying it's guaranteed. What I am saying is that your chances are greatly increased.

April 1st
I added a review for Defense Grid: The Awakening. I've had the game for a while and I still go back and play it.

I had originally started a proper review for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but any review I was going to do wouldn't have been great from a writing perspective. That game just was not any fun for me. I was simply going through the motions and I had a hard time deriving any enjoyment out of it. I think my biggest issue with the game is that it can't decide if it wants to be a tactical shooter or not. Other games that I've played that have tip-toed that line between tactical and rail shooters I have enjoyed. I have enjoyed all types of shooters when they feel right. When that core gameplay element doesn't feel right for me, I just can't continue on. I didn't even bother trying to make it past the first boss. That's how little I cared about the game.

March 31st
Melissa came back into my life in the middle of January. I was quite skeptical at first. She had stated she never wanted me to contact her again about a year before that, and I respected her wishes. I was shocked, to say the least, that she would puruse me after a year of silence. She wanted to get back together and wanted to try again. I quite skeptical that she had changed, but I just went with it. I have no concrete plans and I'm at the point in my life where I'll let the next opportunity take me places. The only thing I wanted out of her this time was to hear that she was at least willing to make sacrifices to be with me. I flat out told her I wasn't going to bother if I was the only one giving up something. I haven't heard anything back from her in regards to this, so I doubt she's willing to do much.

So I've been looking for jobs (unsucessfully) in her area these past few months, getting turned down time after time again. All the while we've been talking on the phone daily. This past week I was talking to her about my job and the difficulties I encounter on a daily basis. Right now my biggest difficulty is dealing with personnel issues. I have on employee who I feel is milking the fact that she has a "disability" and uses that to her advantage. She's been there longer than a year, so there's not much we can do about it, but I digress. I kept telling her all of the things I've tried to work about my issues and she kept making recommendations to get around them.

She got to a point where she was starting to sound annoyed. I told her I run into a lot of different road blocks and there's not much I can do without my managers taking charge. As a supervisor I don't have the same power that they have. She started doing this rapid talking thing, where you talk so fast a person can't get a word in, and it's normally used to make your point and put the person down, which is what she was doing here. I very calmly kept telling her to stop. She was getting herself upset over nothing for starters, and secondly, I wasn't going to let her talk down to me in this situation.

She pauses very briefly, a micro-second pause and then tells me that she has a right to speak, she listened to me and now that I have to listen to her. Then she hangs up on me. I didn't have a single chance to even explain. She texts me later tersely explaining how conversations work and when I understood that, I could call her back, and what I did to her was incredibly rude. I respond back with that talking to me the way she did was a stunning example of politeness, and besides, was it really worth getting that upset over it where you make this big of a deal? She then lays into me for not caring that I upset her.

It's clear she hasn't changed. She gets herself worked up over something so simple. For the past few months I've listened to her and how she deals with conflict in her life. Everything is a battle to her. She has to fight everything. This is a deal breaker for me. I don't have the energy or inclination to deal with a person like that. She always has a reason or excuse for why things is somoene elses fault, or why she is the way she is. I have not seen or heard of her actually doing anything that tells me she's grown as a person. She wants to sit there and complain that she's tired of being single and alone. Until she takes the time to do some self reflection and stick with it, I and I'm sure many others, aren't going to deal with her attitude.

I'm not going to reach out and talk to her. I've considered that maybe part of my problem is that I run away every time we have a fight. At the end of the day though, when you run into the same deal breaker with the same person, it doesn't matter what you do or what you say. If they're not making the necessary changes or improvements, or they scare you that much, perhaps its the best to run for the fucking hills and never look back.

March 25th
I've been mulling over the idea on whether or not to continue with my blog. Let's be honest, I update almost never. It's been nearly 11 months since I last updated. It's kind of a trend for me, I guess. I'm not shutting down any time soon, though. I have changed the layout a little bit. I'm not doing the whole external links thing. I just don't care to do it anymore. It is completely a "whatever" thing to me at the moment. Besides, if I want to add more links, I have all of that space at the bottom to do so.

Since my last update, I'm still job searching. People with two or three degree levels above me are searching for bench tech jobs too, and not getting anywhere. Yeah, the market sucks. Imagine having a bachelor's or masters in something and you still can't get a lower tier job in that field. I would very much dislike to be those people. My issue specifically is that I'm more than qualified for those with one degree level above me, but because I don't have that degree, no one will even bother to give me a second chance. I have 8 years of experience in my chosen proffession, 7 of which also have supervisory experience. I am getting beat out by people with only 1 or 2 years of experience who have bachelor's. There's a certain point where years of experience must outweight a degree.

Where I currently work, incoming candidates have a hard time telling me what a rectifier is regardless if they have an associates or a bachelor's. They can't tell me that if you put a 10 ohm resistor across a capacitor, it will discharge quickly. They can't explain the simple concept of resistance. They have a hard time drawing a 50% voltage divider. Asking them to draw a simple circuit to power an LED is a daunting task. These are the people I'm stuck with to train and mentor. These questions I have handed out to every tech I've had so far and only one has received a passing grade. I've had one tech that just didn't answer any questions. It's simply crazy.

I'm not saying I've always been great with electronics. It has really taken me a lot of time to become adequate with it, to understand concepts and ideas. I will be honest too, I probably still am horrible with the math if you want something precise. I can do some of the math in my head to get a guessitmation. When you're sitting there troubleshooting and you have 50 more things behind you that need done that day, it's often just much easier to grab a known working control, compare, and move on to the next step. I understand why these people are the way they are. However I have always taken the initiative to brush up on concepts I don't always understand or quite remember. The internet is a great resource. None of these other people bother to do this.

Really though, I can't expect them to have remembered every concept. Ideally it would be nice if they did, but it's not necessary. My biggest expectation is for them to understand the product that they're working on, and the concepts that apply to those products. I expect too much, I guess.

Backing up quite a few months:

I guess in September I pulled a muscle in my back. I have peroneal tendonitis. Well the pulling of the muslce in the back triggered that. I probably took what was the equivalent of two weeks off of work for this. From doing a little research on teh interwebz most people take 3 months off. During this whole time while I'm at work, my work load keeps increasing. It gets to the point where I'm a month behind on orders. I'm down two technicians, and I've never had enough laborers to help out with the grunt work. I'm constantly being yelled at why this and that isn't being done. I'm trying to run two separate areas while being severely understaffed. The only people who understand this are myself and the people on my teams.

It was to the point where I told my boss he tells me what my teams need to work on so the right things are being done faster. Any time someone needed me to do something that wasn't within the scope of what my boss told me to do, I would tell them to talk to my boss. You know what this got me? People from all over the company yelling at me. Saying I'm not a team player, that I'm not doing my job right. I tried to calmly explain my desperate situation to them so that they could understand. Not a single one of them gave two shits about it. I was the bad guy because people above me have horribly mismanaged everything. When I need resources, I ask for them. I even try to plan ahead with my superriors so they understand the ramifications of not giving me the resources. It never works. Oh, and I was still getting a stream of new products from the engineering group that clearly was not completed - which means I have to figure out the rest.

It hits a peak about a month or two later where I grab some testing equipment I use on a regular basis. The equipment is disassembled. I was at the point where I didn't have half an hour to dick around with the testing equipment to get it back together for use. I was under the gun so often that I have zero time to goof off. I was constantly working 10+ hour days just to not be screwed even more than I already was. That test equipment set me off. I just calmly said this wasn't worth it anymore, took my things, and left.

I didn't leave because I think I deserved to be paid more (because I really do). I didn't leave simply because I didn't like the people around me. I left because the working conditions were progressively becoming worse and there was no way out for me. I had to do something desperate. Oh, and I was still constantly in pain due to my injuries. Can you imagine not being able to bend over very much AND stand on your own two legs for more than a few minutes? I think if I had explained this to a judge when it came time for getting unemployment, I'm fairly positive I would have won. It was a desperate move, but a calculated one. I was very prepared for the consequences of my actions if things didn't go my way.

About an hour and a half later I get a call from my other boss asking me what's going on. I just pretty much lay it all out for him. I can't do all of that work without more resources. At this point in the game I had more work to be done than the biggest team that was there. They literally have more than twice the amount of people I have. What I had to do was literally impossible for a small team to tackle. I couldn't grab guys from my other team to help out because they had their own issues that I had to work with them on (test equipment that constantly breaks, out-dated drawings, etc...). He kept asking me to come back in and talk about it. I just kept asking if things would change. Why would I go back in if things weren't going to change? What incentive is there for me if things aren't going to be different? I would had to have been insane without a guarantee of changes. After asking that for about the fifth time in a row, he gets the hint and says that things will be different. I tell him I'm taking the rest of the day off to think about things and I'll be there in the morning.

First and foremost, I needed more people. Or either that, take my biggest product load off of me. Secondly, I needed someone to take my bench spot. I can't be a team leader and make improvements to my teams if I'm constantly chained to a bench all day. I was not going to budge on these issues. Anything else I potentially wanted was secondary and was not important. I really enjoy the work I do, however it's clear I can't handle doing literally almost everything without the right resources in place.

I walk in the next day and discuss things with my boss and come up with a plan to take all of this stress away from me. I know I'm a very valuable resource there, one that they would have a hard time doing without. After our hour long conversation, it's decided that I'm losing the one team. I spend at least half of my day with them doing things. Half of a day that could be spent on my first team. Me being in charge of the second team was always going to be a temporary thing until one of those guys had the gusto to rise up and be a leader. So that was cut short a little - not a huge deal, though I was disappointed. It was also decided that the bigger product that's constantly causing me to be behind is going to the bigger team in the plant. They're set up to handle the volume. Again, disappointed that I'm losing a product that I've nurtured, but hey, it's not my problem any longer. And lastly, all of the junk that's come from our engineering team is heading back to them for remainder of the year so they can work out the kinks. It's not my responsibility to work out a process from the gound up. My responsibilities are to make improvements to the existing processes, which I'm very good at from a quality perspective.

With that in hand I decide to stick around. I really do enjoy the work. I get fucking bored sometimes, but overall I really enjoy it. I like to fix things. I've always been the type of person to try and fix things myself. I think it's fun and the sense of accomplishment I get from it is fantastic. I walk back to my bench, fix the test equipment, and continue cranking out what I can before I hand that product over to the other team. I'm still very sensitive about a lot of things and I'm ready to leave at a moments notice. While changes were promised, I wasn't going to hold my breath. A lot is promised around there and very rarely delivered.

About three days or so after that I'm being pressured to get this and that done, knowing it wasn't possible. I tell my boss I'm going to step up my efforts of finding new employment. Nothing's clearly changed yet. Why should I put up with this bullshit? My other boss comes around and has a chat with me about this and tries to calm me down. I tell him it's bullshit that yet three days after I come back, everyone is trying to push me as hard as possible without any of the changes having actually taken place yet. It is ridiculous. I completely understand the positions they're in and the way the company is ran. The only reason that company stays afloat is because of people like me. We make sure stuff is getting done. One would think that despite how the culture and attitude in the company is, they would do everything they can to keep one of their golden gooses. In any case I blow him off and just keep working as hard as I can to make a dent in the hole that my team is in. Also, I've decided to work strictly 8 hour days until the start of the new year. Fucking that over time stuff. I have worked more than most people in that company for little reward. It just wasn't worth it.

It's not until the middle of January that we're out of that hole. Changes were made between that time. We're out of that hole, I have a new technician who isn't worthless, and most importantly I've been making improvements to my team and the processes that are in place. some of my team members don't like the changes I've made or the new quality standards that have been set. This is one of those things I won't budge on with them. Now that I have the time to be a real leader, they're going to follow me or be booted from the team. All I expect of them is to do their job properly. The new standards and methods that I've set ensures this. Because of this, they're getting stuff done faster. They're taking the time to spend an extra minute looking at the work they've done through every step so they're not constantly going back and redoing it from the ground up. It's amazing what happens when I'm given the resources to get things done the right way.