Friday, January 29, 2010


I have yet to sign anything. But I've received an offer of employment from Oracle. That I'll accept.

I'd like to say I headed into this with a zen-like calmness. That was definitely true over the past few months, when we were waiting for EU approval. But once that came and it turned into a waiting game, I was getting a little antsy. And while I'd resigned myself that my fate had been long ago decided and was out of my hands, it doesn't stop you from wondering how you will pay for your mortgage with two unemployment checks.

It's always a little weird to survive a layoff, as there's definitely a measure of survivor guilt. People sometimes say, "Congratulations," but it doesn't seem right. I mean, you don't tell that to someone who survived a plane crash. I will, however, accept, "I was praying for you," "I'm glad you made it," or, as my sister put it, "I'm so relieved for you."

So finally, I have some closure. Time to take a deep breath, and plow ahead.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sun set.

We interrupt our coverage of my visit to Prague with this special bulletin.

Rhonda and I spent the final night of our three-week Japan trip where it all started for us - the Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower, where we stayed on our honeymoon in 2004. We checked out of our other hotel, took a cab to the Southern Tower, and checked our bags as we were much too early for check in. We decided to head across the terrace near Shinjuku Station's new south exit to the Takashimaya Times Square department store.

As we headed across the terrace, down on the station facing us, was a giant Oracle billboard. That's when we knew that as nice as it was to get away from it all for three weeks - the worry, the insecurity, the pressure - this day would come.

Much of the fireworks I expected last week in Prague carried over to this week. Last Thursday, Oracle scheduled a webcast for today to discuss Sun integration and roadmaps. The same day in Europe, the EC gave their blessing to the merger, setting the wheels finally in motion. Overnight last night, there were many media reports, including one from the AP that Oracle had closed its acquisition of Sun.

Inside Sun, there have been a wide range of emotions, from jubilation that we'll soon receive closure, to all-out depression from the SMI lifers. There have been a few rather poignant tributes to Sun, from James Gosling's tombstone image to a touching musical tribute from Alec Muffet, finally resulting in this email from Scott McNealy.

About halfway through college, perhaps spurred on by a free Java t-shirt that I wore with fanboy pride until the logo was disintegrating, I decided Sun Microsystems was the company I wanted to work for. In late 1999, only 18 months out of college and in my second job, I was able to make that happen. With a new girlfriend that would later be my wife, and a new job at a company whose technology and culture I held with the highest esteem, I felt on top of the world at 23. (I know, what a sap I was.)

To its credit, Sun did not disappoint. While I haven't always been completely satisfied with my job or with the work I was being given, I always greatly enjoyed working at Sun. From the company dress code ("you must") to the mission statement ("kick butt and have fun"), Sun's culture has been a perfect fit for my working style. I've also felt Sun has conducted itself ethically in its pursuit of profit. I'd even forgiven Sun for its roots as the Stanford University Network (however, former chief technologist Bill Joy is a Berkeley guy).

Which leads to today, where I am feeling more conflicted than I thought I would be. The last few years have been difficult and stressful career-wise, and working for Sun had lost a bit of the luster that it held for me at the turn of the millennium. The nice thing about this week has been remembering and rediscovering what I thought was so great and special about Sun in the first place. While I'm sad that it had to come to this, I would rather see Sun end up with a buyer that values its technology (and, hopefully, its employees) and is going to do something new and forward-thinking with it, than to be bought for its customer list and sent to the slaughter. The alternatives to Oracle could have been much, much worse.

So I'm definitely willing to give this the benefit of the doubt. We'll see what happens over the coming weeks - if I even have a job by then, although things are looking promising. Things are going to move fast and furiously (which is never good for my blogging output) and while life as we know it is going to change at Sun (and will it ever), there is perhaps a second life for this company I love.

And the sun will rise tomorrow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Random thoughts from my journey to Prague

(Consider this a draft, pictures to follow.)

In the walkway connecting the hourly parking garage to the international terminal, the first ad you see is for Sun Microsystems. I haven't decided yet if that is happy, sad, or ironic.

Just ahead of the Sun ad was a Tiger Woods ad for Accenture, which provided some levity since Rhonda has been worried about my flight and that has made me nervous as well.

Rhonda used the restroom and said someone was in there crying. I said, "Don't be her." We browsed the bookstore and Sephora in a pathetic attempt to delay the inevitable. We said our goodbyes outside the security checkpoint, and to her credit, I didn't see her lingering around when I looked over my shoulder as the line snaked around.

Had a tonkatsu dinner at Tomokazu, a Japanese restaurant on the post-security side. For airport food, not half bad. Figure there won't be many Asian meals for the next week.

This is my first time flying Lufthansa, and I'm not sure I've ever seen this many German people before. (Duh, this flight is going to Frankfurt.)

Our plane is a 747. It doesn't have the screens in the back of the seat in front of you like on American or United; instead there are 15" or so ceiling-mounted standard-def TVs every eight rows or so. There is one right over my head, meaning I have to watch the one twenty feet away. Boo.

No one is sitting next to me. The guy next to the window and I are ecstatic.

On the plus side, Lufthansa has two Japanese music channels on their in-flight lineup. The DJ speaks in Japanese but repeats herself in English, so I don't have to guess who sings which song.

JERO, this is a good start. Although the music is a little too light for my taste, I am already napping on and off by the time we reach cruising altitude.

The snack is a bag of crackers with a picture of beer on them. I also have a Coke Light. Love how only in America do they call it Diet Coke, since it doens't actually help you lose weight. Wow, Germans really like to booze it up on the plane. I feel like I'm the only one not drinking around me.

Dinner is eh. Wait a minute, is the booze free?!? It doesn't dawn on me until after the flight attendants have passed me by that no one is paying for these drinks.

I notice that the J-Pop songs are already repeating - I've already heard Thelma Aoyama and AI, and we're only like three hours in. Lame.

After dinner, when they pick up the trays, they are offering Bailey's and cognac. I decide I will speak up and get a Bailey's, since they appear to be free, but apparently my flight attendant has pegged me as a non-drinker, since she offers my neighbor a drink but not me!

After dinner I try to get as much sleep as I can. I stow my iPod and listen to channel 13, the relaxation channel. It's a channel with meditation instructions in both German and English over new agey music. It does the job and I get about four hours in, and I am about to try to force myself to sleep more when I wake up right in time for (500) Days of Summer.

(500) Days of Summer is pretty good, although I'll have to see it again, since it was the "edited for television" version (somehow I don't think they were yelling, "panda!") and a couple parts have subtitles and split-screens that I couldn't see clearly on a little screen from twenty feet away. I'm not Superman.

The time on the laptop tells me it's 11:13 PM in California, which means it's 8 AM in Prague. To me it feels like I went to bed at 2 an got up at 6, which means I'm on Prague time, but I will need to stay up for at least another twelve hours. Methinks this jetlag is going to suck.

Sort of awake, so as planned, I am working on my resume. Again, not sure if that is ironic.

Breakfast was not bad for airline food. My first coffee in what seems like forever (when it was more like 14 hours) is going down nicely. Listening to Dashboard Confessional. Less than an hour until Guten Tag, Frankfurt.

Neighbor just got up to use the bathroom for the first time. We're nine hours in, I've gone three times. What is he, a camel?

BSOD on Departures screen at Frankfurt Airport. Never fails to amuse.

Frankfurt is a big, sprawling airport. This is the kind of airport that if you have a connecting flight, you want to have lots of time to get to the gate. And you don't want to be hauling a big shoulder bag, and you want to be in at least fair physical condition. Let's it put it this way: I've never seen people riding bikes *inside* an airport before.

The Oracle advertising presence in FRA is huge. They sponsor all the kiosks you can charge your devices at. Talk about your omens: a Sun ad in SFO, Oracle marketing dominance in FRA.

Short, packed flight to Prague. Got to give it to Lufthansa: they served a cheese sandwich for lunch on a one hour flight! American airlines sometimes don't even give you peanuts. I also noticed they ask if you want multiple drinks (e.g., coffee and juice, or soda and water). And I didn't get charged for my bag. Wow, do the American airlines suck.

Shared a ride to the hotel with a Sun colleague and wife, both of whom I just met. Nice folks, of course. His wife confirmed that all that booze on Lufthansa was free. Seriously considering Lufthansa for all future travel.

All checked into the hotel. Room is super nice. Rhonda will be very jealous that I have a Japanese TV channel; I plan to watch that ad nauseum while I am in the room.

Debating going for a walk, or sticking to my plan and using today to iron. Dinner is in a couple hours and I need a shower, so the walk is not likely. More to come later, I'm sure.

Up In The Air

Ahh, where to begin?

Nine months since my last post. Tsk tsk. In my defense, it's been a busy and exciting nine months; sometimes harrowing, sometimes jubilant, not devoid of dull moments, but it probably could have used some more.

Did we make it to Japan? Yes. Was it an incredible, life-altering experience? Yes. Can we wait to go back? Not really. We are already backing off our "this may be the last time we go for a while, so let's make it last" stance, to one of "maybe shorter trips more frequently will scratch the itch." I hope to fill in my blog with tales of our Japan trip, possibly in LOST-style flashbacks. And, hopefully, flash-forwards.

Did IBM buy Sun? Of course, we know the answer to that is no. But Oracle did, and with that news came drama on a colossal scale. I don't like to blog much about business, since I like my job and wouldn't like to lose it (and I really don't consider it very professional). That said, my involvement in Oracle-Sun integration has really dominated the past four months or so. It has kept me busy, busy, busy, and made me glad I didn't decide to ditch my landline to go cellular only. I'm doing more work than ever (for the same pay, I should add), and I've moved to a new group. It's been very challenging.

Which leads to current events. I am typing this from 35,000 feet on a Lufthansa 747 over Calgary, on my way to Prague via Frankfurt. How I ended up on this plane, I'm still not entirely sure. But when you have a chance to travel on business to a faraway land, when you've been with a company for a decade and only traveled to Colorado once, that's tough to pass up.

I'm not sure if this will be my last hurrah. Rumor has it that by the time I land on American soil next Saturday, there may not even be a Sun. I may not even have a job by then, and if I do, who knows where it will be doing what.

It's going to be a very interesting week.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dollar dollar bill, y'all.

Earlier in the week, my friend Alma twittered, "I need to learn how to save money. And also how to make enough money to actually save it. =/." I offered to send some links her way, then figured I might as well blog it in case they would benefit someone else.

First a disclaimer: I am, by no means, an expert on personal finance. I have 800+ credit, but that's because I make all my payments. In fact, I have a ton of debt, a lot of it credit card debt, that I am still chipping away at. I have made many bad financial decisions (I bought a house in 2005, so you can guess how that's gone), just some of them not as spectacularly bad as others. But I have done a lot better the last few years, and like Jules Winfield, I'm trying. Real. Hard. To be the shepherd.

Enough chatter for now, here are the links:

  • Consumer Reports Money & Shopping Blog: Hard to go wrong with Consumer Reports.
  • Consumerist: not really an advice site, but it will let you know which companies treat their customers like crap, so you can avoid them. Entertaining.
  • Get Rich Slowly: J.D. runs a pretty nice site about frugality. I think blogs like this are best since they offer practical, first-hand advice.
  • I Will Teach you to Be Rich: I like this site quite a bit. Ramit targets young people, he's a bit brash but very passionate, and focuses less on frugality (he's not as extreme as some of the other bloggers) and more on redefining what it means to live "rich". He just wrote a book of the same name and I think I will check it out.
  • NPR Planet Money: Birthed by our current financialpocalypse, NPR breaks down the financial system. Recommend the podcast, which I listen to daily, and usually just skim the blog. Won't help you balance your checkbook but knowledge is power, and peeking behind the curtain of capitalism and understanding how we got here can only help.
  • Smart Spending by MSN Money: It's alright, not my favorite. kind of high-level for my tastes.
  • Smart Money Consumer Action and Spending: these are alright. There's some overlap but you can pick and choose what to read. Yay, Google Reader! Yay, 'j' button!
  • The Simple Dollar: Trent uses a lot of personal testimony in his content, and practical advice like that is always , useful. Sometimes this blog takes frugality to a level I wouldn't, but different perspectives are always a plus.
  • Wise Bread: this blog is not bad. I like that there are a lot of different contributors, but a lot of posts about good deals make me want to spend money, not cut back.

(You may notice there are all personal finance links, and there's not a lot about investment. There's a reason for that: I have debt. It doesn't make sense to sink the money I have into stocks or mutual funds when I have debt accumulating interest. That said, I like The Motley Fool for investing advice, and still own piddly amounts of MVL and PEP stock.)

My advice is simple:
  • Pay yourself first - sock away your 401(k) contribution or savings right out of your check, before your impulsive ass can spend it. And always, always, put at least as much in your 401(k) as to get the match from your employer. That is free money.
  • Stop buying shit - umm, yeah. I have a wall full of books and DVDs that's very impressive when people come over. But did I really need to spend $10 on a DVD I watch once a year, because it was a "deal"? The worst thing you can do is buy something specifically because it's a "deal". Pick something you want - a house, a car, an engagement ring, a trip to Japan - and when that video game is in your hand, think about how badly you want it compared to what you are striving for. That said...
  • Don't be a cheap-ass - you still have to live. Denying yourself everything is just going to make you miserable. Every once in a while, you have to treat yourself - you just don't want to do it all the time, or in huge quantities. Use your judgment.
  • Compromise - I have two speeds for shopping for clothes. I either buy pretty nice clothes, name brand stuff, off the clearance rack, at Costco, or at outlets. Or I just buy functional clothes from Target or Costco. I like nice stuff, but I don't like paying for it. I like Diet Coke, but if Diet Pepsi is on sale, guess what I'm drinking. Starbucks or Peet's coffee beans are pricey, but not compared to the two bucks and twenty minutes of your life you blow because you're too lazy to make your own.
  • Never, ever buy anything from Target that's not on sale. Everything goes on sale at Target eventually.

Hope that was helpful. Now it's time to go to sleep so I can carpool with my wife to work. You see how that works?