Smiling Hill Farm with the Gilligans

This past weekend, Dani and I took a trip up to Portland to visit our good friends the Gilligans. First stop Saturday morning was to Smiling Hill Farm to pet some animals, ride a tractor and pick a pumpkin.  Although the weather kept us from the tractor ride and pumpkin picking, we still had a blast seeing all the farm animals.  I didn't take my nice camera, but I managed to get some fun shots with the iPhone.  I even took a selfie with a very handsome goat (which is much harder than it sounds).

Tech Recruiters, Don't be Stalkers

So the other day I had a first when an unsolicited tech recruiter obnoxiously harassed me. 

To preface this post, I'd like to state that in general I don't have issues with technical recruiters and the work that they do.  I've used them several times in the past to find jobs. And while there are certainly ones I like more than others, they do serve their purpose.

Talent is tight in Boston.  This town and the surrounding area is seeing a tech boom and while positions are plentiful, top talent is not.  I have first hand knowledge on this from a couple of viewpoints.  First of all, we have spent the past few months at MediaSilo looking for a good senior level UI developer.  We interviewed quite a few people and too often found they were lacking the skills we needed. The recruiters we employed had an equally tough time finding qualified candidates to send to us.

The other reason I know about the demand for talent, is the sheer number of emails and calls I get from recruiters on a near daily basis.  Sometimes we even joke at the office about who gets the most inquiries on average.  It can be annoying sometimes, but I understand that they are simply doing their job by both reaching out to people and by searching for referrals. I also understand that by having a public profile on LinkedIn I am inviting their advances to a certain extent.

Thankfully for the most part, the calls and emails have been respectful.  I typically don't respond, because I'm not looking and don't usually have the time to engage them. Sometimes they'll call a second time, or just follow up with an email. But two days ago I was approached by a guy who was a bit more persistent. Here's the timeline:

  • Tuesday afternoon - 4:50pm, 4:50pm, 4:51pm, 4:56pm - 4 calls back to back after each I did not answer.
  • Wednesday Morning - 9:53am, 9:58am, 9:59am - 3 more back to back calls, unanswered.
  • Wednesday Morning - 10:33am - I accidentally started a call back while unlocking my phone, which was immediately terminated
  • Wednesday Morning - 10:35am, 10:35am, 10:36am - 3 more back to back calls, I didn't answer (Stupid, I know)
  • Wednesday Morning - 10:37am - Finally I answered

So I finally had enough, and answered the call.  "Hey, I'm sorry about all the calls. I just really wanted to get in touch with you". Yeah, no shit.  He then continued with typically rhetoric "Are you looking?", "No, I'm set", "Well let me ask you a question, do you get a lot of calls from recruiters?". Wow, this guy is really giving me the third degree sales pitch.  Did Comcast open a recruiting branch?

It then continued on with, "Well let me ask you this, what is it you like so much about MediaSilo?".  And "If you were to lose your job tomorrow, wouldn't you like to have a relationship established with a Boston area recruiter?".  This went on for some time and there was some other crap as well. I tried to be patient and polite, but he wasn't taking no for an answer.  I finally had to said thanks, but no thanks and hang up on him.

I fully expect a follow up call or seven at a later on. Surely he wouldn't give up so easily right?

So yes, recruiters, I do heart you and your services. You've helped on numerous occasions. But please, don't call me, I'll call you. K? Thanks.

Chicago and C2E2 2014

I just got back from a much needed vacation to Chicago. For the third time since 2011 , I attended the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. C2E2, as it's called, has become one of my favorite comic events to attend. It's a great event that's both affordable and isn't completely overwhelming like New York or San Diego.

My parents traveled up from Bloomington, IL and spent the weekend in Chicago as well. It was nice to spend some time with them. Since moving to Boston I don't see them very often.  We spent Thursday together wandering around Chicago. It's always nice to reconnect with my old home. It's an awesome city. I miss it frequently.

Friday I spent the morning walking the show floor. I had a VIP ticket, so they let us on the floor with the pros at 10am. It was nice to have an hour with the floor largely empty. I picked up some show exclusives and a couple toys for my collection.  After they let everyone else on, I headed upstairs for some great panels, including one with writer Gail Simone (One of my favorite writers). After that I attended a panel with an assortment of DC writers and artists.  Finally I headed down to the main show floor (thank you VIP Pass for guaranteed premium seating) for a panel with Torchwood's "Gwen Cooper" - Eve Myles, and wrapped up the day with a Game of Thrones panel including Natalia Tena (Osha) and Kristian Narin (Hodor).

First thing Saturday, I spent some time walking through Artists Alley. I didn't buy any art this year, but I always leave these cons completely awed and inspired by the work of the artists attending. And with the intention of getting back to drawing myself.

One of this weekend's panels I was most excited to attend was the Power Rangers "Reunion" panel. Jason Narvy (Skull), Paul Schrier (Bulk), and Steve Cardenas (Rocky the 2nd Red Ranger) were ridiculously entertaining. I think we laughed more that panel than any all weekend. I finished up Saturday with a "24" reunion. Carlos Bernard (Tony Almeida), James Morrison (Bill Buchanan), and Louis Lombardi (Edgar Styles) were up on stage telling stories and fielding questions. Dani and I have been powering through all 8 seasons of the show the past couple months and are super excited for 24 Live Another Day.

I usually just got back on Sunday to wander around the floor a little more and maybe take in one last panel.  However there were a couple this time I had to see.  One was a special private event for Marvel Unlimited Plus members (subscribers of Marvel's digital comics app). We got some cool swag and were privy to some neat previews. Including some test footage from the new Ant Man Movie, which is going to be great.  And then I wrapped up my C2E2 weekend by seeing Stan Lee, in a Q&Q panel. This was my first time catching him live anywhere, so it was pretty special. Excelsior!!  Below are some pics I snapped from around the event.

One of the coolest parts of these show is all the amazing cosplayers that attend. So much time, energy and creativity goes into making these awesome costumes. And with a huge "Hero's of Cosplay" event going on Saturday night, awesome costumes were not in short supply. This is just a small sample of what was there.

I was sad when the weekend wrapped up. It was a great experience and a much needed vacation. I didn't want it to end. I came back feeling refreshed and inspired to be more creative.  I had said earlier that I wasn't planning on doing NYCC this year. But now I'm reconsidering. It's just too much fun!

May old 2013 ever be forgotten

As I sit here in the closing 36 hours of 2013 the first words that come to mind are, "thank fucking goodness this year is over!".  While this year has had it's highlights, those have been largely overshadowed by a couple of pretty crappy events.

The first being the Boston Marathon bombings. I was one of the unfortunate people to have a nearly front row seat to the awfulness from that day (which I wrote about here). While physically I came away unhurt, it still eats at my brain. It'll be hard to ever see the world the same way again. The other setback was tearing my ACL in my knee and having surgery the day after my birthday.  It's been tough going nearly six months so far without playing hockey. That's always been my primary stress relief and a major source of enjoyment.

But despite all of that, I also did have some pretty awesome stuff happen.  Dani and I went to Disney last January where we both took part in the half marathon through the parks.  I traveled to Chicago for the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.  I got to do a little bit of sailing. I went to my first ever Stanley Cup finals game. And the Blackhawks beat the Bruins for their second Stanley up in four years (cough... 19 seconds... cough). And I finally got to see a bit of New York City, including my first trip to New York Comic Con.

I also switched jobs this year.  I left the creative agency behind and stepped into a lead development role with a young (start-upish) company.  It's been a crazy hectic year there, and I've put in a lot more time and work than I have in previous places. But I think in the end it will be worth it.  I also dissolved my LLC this year. I've decided to step back from extracurricular development for the most part so I can focus on some of my other interests.

So I sort of had this blog tradition of ever year going back over goals I set out the previous New Years and see how I did. And since I am one for tradition, here we go:

  • "In 2012 I went a little spend crazy on my toy collecting hobby.  2013 will bring fiscal responsibility."  - Eh... no comment
  • "Also in 2012 I kind of let my goal of not being a fat-ass go by the wayside.  I shall right that ship." - Torn ACL equaled sitting on my ass and getting fatter.
  • "Actually finish a personal project.  Time to rein in this project ADHD and actually finish one. Milkcap Museum, I'm looking at you!" - I am currently working on this now, so only half fail...
  • "Finally, I'd like to spend more time outdoors.  New England is beautiful, I must have more! Starting with finally learning to snowboard this month." - I did take a snowboard lesson, and went sailing a handful of times. So I tried right?

So not a lot of great accomplishments this year. But in my defense this has been a pretty rough year.  For 2014 my goals are less specific and more about being happier.

  1. Get my groove back. Spent way to much of 2013 depressed. It's time to be just be fucking awesome and not waste time with anyone who thinks otherwise!
  2. Live healthier... financially, physically, and emotionally.
  3. Draw something everyday. Doodle, sketch, illustration, whatever... Must. Be. More. Creative.

So yeah, that's about it other than a few pictures from the past twelve months below. Hoping everyone has a safe and Happy New Years!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Signing

To this day, my favorite, and arguably the best, comic book / cartoon / movie / toy lines is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I still have vivid memories of being a young kid in the toy aisle of this store called Roses, seeing those first toys on the pegs. After that came the cartoons, Archie comic books, coloring books, movies, and years of my elementary school art teacher begging me to draw something other than a ninja turtle.

Last summer, on a trip up to Wells/Ogunquit Maine with the wife, we drove by this shop called Shellback Artworks on Rt 1.  The distinctively TMNT branded signage immediately drew me in. Turns out it's owned by an artist named Steve Lavigne.  He is known for his lettering and coloring work on the older Mirage TMNT comics. He wasn't there that time, but we took a spin around the shop, the art gallery upstairs, and met his wife.

Recently on Facebook, he announced a signing at the shop. Peter Laird, as in the Laird of "Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was going to be there along with TMNT artist Jim Lawson. I definitely couldn't pass that up. So I gathered up a few belongings to get signed and drove up for the afternoon. It was amazing!

I'm kind of shy, so I didn't really say much to them. But in the off chance that Peter Laird ever reads this, I wanted to say "Thank you for the Turtles. The characters have brought, and continue to bring, me hours of enjoyment in all their various incarnations."

Some pictures from the event and the items I got signed are below.

July 2013 Loot Crate Unboxing

Sorry I'm a bit late on this unboxing. I had knee surgery on the 19th, and hadn't had a chance to get to it quite yet. The theme for July is "Varsity". That fits with the fact that it's largely a "Video Game High School" (VGHS) themed box.

I wasn't familiar with VGHS prior to this months crate. OK, I honestly had never heard of the web series. So I found the entire series as a movie on Netflix and took a look. It was an interesting show. Nicely done and well produced. However I think the target demographic for the show is slightly younger than me. 

Anyways, onto the unboxing...

So right off the top, we see a newer, slightly larger shipping box. And inside we are met right away with a PEZ dispenser and some star wars head phones. Ok, good start.

Here's the full crate revealed. Here's the full rundown of what's included -

  • Star Wars Earbuds from Jazwares and Lucasfilms Ltd
  • Video Game High School Season 1 DVD Set from VGHS
  • Marvel Pez Dispenser from PEZ and Marvel
  • Video Game High School Button Set from VGHS
  • VGHS Stormtrooper Vinyl Sticker from Danger-Brain and VGHS
  • VGHS 'Emergency Wireless Keyboard' Pencil from Danger-Brain and VGHS
  • Sonic Air Freshener from Epic-Scents and Sega
  • Rocket Jump Vinyl Sticker from Rockery Jump

Here we've got all the VGHS themed  items in the crate. Nothing crazy exciting here for me. I wound up watching the show on Netflix like I mentioned earlier, so the DVD isn't terribly compelling. The storm trooper sticker is kinda cool. I'll find a place to stick that for sure.

The rest of the items are pretty sweet though. Star Wars ear buds... classy.

 Sonic air freshener... errr... fresh. That'll go up next to my Megaman Air Freshener from the February crate.

 PEZ Candy Dispenser... sweet.  Not a huge Captain America fan, would have rather had Wolverine, but them's the breaks. However I do like candy and it's been forever since I've had PEZ candy. Forgot how sugary yummy it is.

Like what you've seen here and want to get your own crate each month? It's super easy, just hit this link and sign up. It takes two minutes and starts at only $13.37/month plus shipping. Sign up today! http://mbsy.co/lootcrate/113253 

Baby Joanna's First Birthday

A little over a year ago, our friends Sarah and Brandon brought this beautiful little girl into the world.  Dani and I are fortunate enough to get to spend time and be a part of her life.  Below are some photos from her first birthday party. As you can see, she loved playing with Molly, Laney, and her birthday cupcake!

Recent Life Musings Stanley Cup Edition

The wife was away this weekend to a fitness blogging conference in Portland, OR, so I had myself a fun little weekend.   I saw a couple movies, did a bit of shopping, and played some nerdy games with friends. I missed Dani, but it was nice to have some play time. I picked up an early birthday present for myself - Lego R2D2. In case anyone wonders... Lego's always make a great birthday present. :D

The past couple weeks have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. There's been a lot of good news and a doozy of some bad news. I'll start with the with the bad news. About two days after the marathon bombings I slipped on some stairs and I thought I had twisted my knee.  Turns out I finished off my already weakened anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. So lucky me gets to have surgery in a couple of weeks which pretty much finishes off the chance of any fun summer activities this year and likely any hockey until after the first of the year.  I'm pretty bummed!

Back to brighter news, did you hear the Chicago Blackhawks are the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions? That's right 2 cup rings in four years. I remember watching the Hawks for so many years growing up every year either not making the playoffs or coming up short.  It's so easy to take for granted how consistently good the team has gotten over the past six years.

 

NHL 2013 Finals Banner

NHL 2013 Finals Banner

The downside this year was living here in Boston during the finals. Being a fan of the enemy team is not a much fun. It's even less fun when your wife and her whole family are rooting against you. It made for an oddly emotional series for me. I just kept thinking about how awful it would be here if the Bruins won and I'd have to hear about it all year. Thankfully the hawks came out on top, in stunning manner. And bonus I got to attend a finals game for the first time ever. Unfortunately it was pretty much the worst game the Hawks played the entire series.  Still a pretty amazing experience.

NHL 2013 Stanley Cup Finals Game 2

Oh and my championship hat and hoodie will be here this week! 

The other big awesome news this week was the Supreme Court overturning part of the Defense of Marriage Act. So now my marriage is fully legit. LIke for realsy, no take-backs, all the way legit.  So in a handful of states the misses and are are no longer second class citizens. Score for progress america!

Well, thats all I've got for today. Less than three months until NHL training camp!

June 2013 Loot Crate Unboxing

I came home from our weekend away in Syracuse to find the June 2013 Loot Crate waiting at my door. Score!  The topic this month was MASHUP and we have seen some pretty rad mashup posts from the Loot Crate crew on their Facebook page leading up to this months delivery.

Last months box wasn't as great as some of the previous ones, but this one really made up for it.  Let's check it out!

First up from BIC we have a Tech Stylus 2 in 1 pen.  it's a combo retractable ball point pen and stylus.  The stylus end looks like of like a black round eraser.  I tried it out on the iPhone and it actually works pretty well.

Also seen here is the Loot Crate branded wall Tangrams. Now I love tangrams. It's a great logic puzzle. With a quick search online you can find the puzzles to use your wall tangrams with.

Continuing on, we have some pretty sweet 8-bit sunglasses, always fun Warheads candies, and a couple of pretty awesome stickers. Especially loving the Mario and Ninja Turtles mashup sticker by Hairbrained Design.

Last but not least, we have a Comickaze golden ticket and a t-shirt! Yes! So the golden ticket is for a con that I was actually unaware of.  Stan Lee's Comikaze is a mulit-media pop culture convention in LA happening in early November.  My "code" only netted me 20% off the tickets - which unfortunately is no where near enough to prompt me to spend the cash to fly out for it. Oh well!

On to the shirt! So you may say to yourself, what does the "Kool-aid Man and Dead Pool have in common?"... Well aside from similar coloring absolutely nothing.   Good thing that being similarly colored is good enough for the awesome mash up shirt. Check it out and be super jealous you don't have one!

Seen enough to say to yourself, "I really want my own Loot Crate every month!"? It's super easy, just hit this link and sign up. It takes two minutes and starts at only $13.37/month plus shipping. Sign up today! http://mbsy.co/lootcrate/113253

Summer sailing 2013 - Back in the skippers seat!

Courageous Sailing

This past Saturday I finished up the second of the two classes that make up the second half of the beginners keelboat course at Courageous Sailing. Even though I already have  the US Sailing basic keelboat certification, I was feeling quite a bit rusty. So I figured a good refresher was in order.

Compared to the sailing I did on the Charles river last year, this was so much better.

The class was split up into two days, and oddly we had a different instructor for each day. Despite the different instructors, we had the same three students on the boat both weeks.

The first day was a scorcher.  It was sunny and it was hot.  Apparently in the advanced beginner keelboat class you pretty much just cover two major things - Man Overboard and Docking.  Of course this assumes you have a good handle on the rest of the concepts like points of sail, right of way, etc.

Happy to say it all came back super quick. I aced the figure-8 man overboard maneuver the first time I tried. Beyond that he also taught us the quick stop and we did a fair amount of buzzing around the inner harbor.  The wind was pretty shifty and we experienced quite a bit of gusty weather. Overall though, it was a nice day on the water.

The second day started out much more drearily, but thankfully cleared up about the time we headed out. We got the pleasure of manually pumping the rain water out of our Rhodes 19.  And headed back out in the harbor or more of the same as the previous week.

I felt like I was pretty much back up to speed and comfortably handling the boat. When it was all said and done I was given a red area rating (the most restrictive) though I felt like I should have gotten the yellow. The instructor didn't really give me much of a chance to do things on my own. It's all good though. I'll go and take the test, and get back out there to get the yellow rating. 

And hopefully before the summer is over, I'll complete the basic cruising class. I'm looking forward to much more time on the water this summer!

 

The courageous sailing dock and fleet.

Photos Below Courtesy of my classmate Tania.