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See, What Happened Was...

     

NOTE: This is not a post about Ben, autism, or Disney. It is a post about why I haven't written about any of those things in the last nine months. I promise I have plenty to write on those topics in the future.

Hey! How are you doing? Long time no see! What happened to me? Ah, well, I got kinda busy with my day job. See, what happened was...

So aside from being the World's Greatest Dad (not really) and a world-renowned best-selling author (seriously, not really), I am a software developer. Specifically, I write all of the software that drives the Conferneces and Events department of a luxury travel consortium. We put on dozens of shows each year, the largest of which fills the Bellagio in Las Vegas to capacity every summer. For me, my working year cycle starts in September and builds to a climax the following August when I and nearly five thousand of my closest friends descend upon the Bellagio for a week. Actually I am there for more than two weeks, helping to produce the single greatest luxury travel event in the world. I love my job, and I especially love those two weeks.

This past year, however, I had a metaphorical mountain to climb. As a colleague of mine so succinctly puts it, I've been out chasing deliverables.

Without getting into the boring details, for the last few years we have outsourced a major aspect of our big event to an outside vendor. They did a nice enough job, and were nice people, but ultimately it was neccesary to bring that functionality in-house because of Reasons. We actually began the pre-planning process for Huge Software Deliverable way back in the fall of 2013. The plan was to do all of the design work that fall and winter, complete our big 2014 event, and then dive into the actual development work for Huge Software Deliverable once we all woke up from our post-2014-event-coma.

I came home from Giant Vegas Event last year fully energized, and ready to take on the world. Not only was I going to architect, build, and deploy Huge Software Deliverable, but I was also going to Get Healthy and Lose Weight.  It is worth noting, at this point in the story, that I am a big dude. I didn't used to be - back in high school I was skinny as a rail. Even when Ben was born I was still a pretty slim guy. But somewhere along the way I went from looking like 1981 Dan Aykroyd to looking like 2014 Dan Aykroyd. That's not a pretty sight.

How fat am I? Well, one summer just a few years ago I arrived at the Bellagio for Giant Vegas Event but my suitcase did not arrive with me thanks to the dedicated effort of United Airlines. You know them, they're the ones who break guitars. So I walked into a formal business situation with nothing but the slobby traveling clothes on my back. I needed to go and buy some professional attire to last me until my luggage was found. I walked into the Armani shop in the Bellagio, and the clerk there just took one look at me and shook his head without saying a word.

I'm too fat for Armani, is what I'm sayin'.

So anyway, last fall I dived into my new healthier regime with an extremely detailed and complex three-point-plan:

  1. Drink More Water
  2. Eat Less Crap
  3. Get More Exercise

Wonder of wonders, it actually worked. Throughout the fall and winter of 2014 I was losing weight, and jamming on work. Life was good.

Huge Software Deliverable was humming along and getting done, but we started later than anticipated because of a few other distractions that came up, which made our dates slip.

I hired a contractor to  help me with the development, and he did not work out, which made our dates slip.

I hired a new contractor to help me with the devellpment, and he was great, but it took some real ramping up time to bring him up to speed, which made our dates slip.

I got stressed. I got a wee bit irritable. Our dates were slipping, but our final delivery date was immovable. By the beginning of February I had pretty much cut out everything from my life I possibly could besides work. I found less and less time to work out, and less inclination to do so anyway.  Somewhere around there I had a really horrible emotional blowout with my poor wife, who did nothing to deserve it. Life was not good.

Between the fall of 2014 and the spring of 2015 I had lost 45 lbs, which was awesome. Between the spring and summer of 2015, I gained back more than 15 lbs, which was not awesome. I was working a stupid number of hours per week. Don't get me wrong, I still loved my job and I was proud of the work that I was doing, but I was fully aware that Huge Software Deliverable was sucking away my life at an alarming rate. I just didn't have any option but to power through it and focus on the magic date when it would be done and safely in my rear view mirror.

On the day in July that we went live with Huge Software Deliverable, the server promptly fell over. In layman's terms, we pushed the big green button and then bad things happened. I spent a 36 hour "work day" struggling nonstop to find and fix the problem, and wondered if I was even going to survive the experience. Fortunately, I was eventually able to identify the issue and deploy the fix. My monster was alive, and life was good.

I am very proud to say that Huge Software Deliverable has been a huge success. We just finished Giant Vegas Event about a week and a half ago, and it was very satisfying to see my software driving the event and solving problems. It was easily the single largest and most complex thing I have ever built, and I am very proud of what was accomplished.

With the event over, I took a week to finally relax and feel human again. I am back to  blogging, not only here but on two other websites. I have made at least some progress on a new book I am working on (tentatively titled <Something, Something>: A 100% True Work of Fiction.) Next Monday I start rehearsal again with the choir I had to quit last year because of work I am back onto my complex three-point-plan for getting healthy. I just finished three days of planning meetings for next year's events, with a sane work schedule and manageable deliverables.

So hey, it's great to be back. I have plenty of new stories to tell, if you are still around to read them. I hope you didn't miss me too much,


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About Shmoolok

The word "shmoolok" is a mashup of the longtime computer handles for my wife and myself ("Shmooby" and "Lokheed", respectively).

I originally created this website to be a place for my family to connect, but it has since grown into something a little different.

As for me -- I am a father, a husband, a son, a software developer, and a writer. On any given day I am not sure how good I am at any of those particular things, but I do try my best.

Thank you for visiting my website.

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Ben and Snow White

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