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I hate it

I'm pro-do what you want.  If you want to worship God through a personal relationship, through a church, through meditation, through nature, whatever, I'm cool with that.  On the flip side I'm cool if you don't.  However, I hate when my family forces me into this stuff.  First it was confirmation, now it is marriage prep.  If we want to get married in the church, and she does, then we have to do it. It sucks.

Work a lot

I've been working 60-80 hour weeks for 5 months. That doesn't count 12 hours a week worth the commuting. I haven't been on here at all.

Not a good reason for ignoring your blogs, but the reason none the less. Actually, it is a good reason, but whatever.

I hear a lot about how my generation feels more entitled than those of the past. That is wrong. We do feel very entitled, but so do all the others. We just feel entitled for different reasons. I feel entitled because I work longer, work harder and produce better results than the boomer in our office. The baby boomer feels entitled because he's been doing this for many many more years and has more expertise.

What makes my feelings of entitlment worse than his and by extension, our feelings worse than theirs? I have more responsibilities, produce more and achieve better results. Is it wrong that I believe I deserve to be compensated in the same way or even more? Why?

Before people start blathering on about how my generation feels entitled, maybe they should take a look at what entitled means. Just because you feel entitled because of your experience doesn't make you any better than me when I feel entitled because I produce more.

Older workers are just pissed that their lazy asses are being out performed by my generation, and instead of working harder (or smarter) they complain about my generation either receiving or thinking they should receive better treatment.

And yes, I know I'm generalizing... that's exactly my point. Don't complain about me doing exactly what you're doing by calling my generation the entitlement generation.

Boo-yah, back to 6 12's in the morning!

Chalk Talk, Almost Left, DA 2, Sad

1. Chalk talk has the potential to be really cool for the blogging community. All you soapbox fans better support this.

2. I came *this* close to quitting this site completely.

3. Dragon Age 2 is not nearly as bad as everybody made it out to be. I suppose that is the good thing about playing a game several years after release, you don't get caught up in everybody's hype. It is nothing compared to DAO, but hey, nothing could be.

4. Many awesome users left in the last few months and I almost joined them. I'm sticking around for now because chalk talk seems like the blogging community at least gets a tiny bit of attention now. Due to everybody leaving (and some huge changes in my work schedule) I have not been reading many blogs or producing any. That won't change for a while.

I'm working 6 days a week 10-11 hours a day with a 1 hour (each way) commute. No time for anything. Fiance is working 3 12 hour shifts a week, which sometimes overlaps with my day off. Very lame.

I hope I didn't miss anything major around here.

Tried out Fallout New Vegas. Not a fan. I barely finished Fallout 3, so I don't know why I thought I might like New Vegas, but I didn't.

Tim Tebow Symbolizes Everything I Strive to Be.

Watch this video, then read this blog. It is less than 2 minutes and it will help you understand this blog.

First, I'm not religious, so that doesn't have anything to do with it. He stands for exactly what I want to be professionally.

1. "All he does is win, all all all he does is win games."

First and foremost, I'm a results guy. Anytime I see somebody be successful with a non-traditional skill set (in sports or any field) I will be impressed. I am a construction engineer, but I do not have the typical "engineer" personality. I feel much more comfortable talking to a group of surveyors or laborers or carpenters than a group of engineers. While I am technically competent, I routinely get blown away by other engineers when it comes to the numbers side of things. I try to offset those deficiencies with skills like good communication (which I failed at today, coincidentally) and flexibility. Tim Tebow is exactly the same. He can't throw. That is the single thing quarterbacks need to do. That is the one thing he can't do. He still wins. He still succeeds.

2. "The kid is a gamer, he's a baller, he's a playmaker, and a shot caller"

Tim Tebow is a leader. He's not a cheerleader or a manager. He is a leader. When he says something it inspires action and trust. Although the media has gone a little crazy with giving him all the credit, notice that he never ever gives himself credit. The first thing out of his mouth is praise for his team mates. If there is one thing that defines a good leader in my mind is this quote, "If it is a failure, it is because of me. If it went okay, it is because of us. If it went well it is because of them." Tim Tebow lives this motto. I am trying. I don't always succeed, but my #1 goal for the rest of my career is to always give credit to those that deserve it.

3. "I'm no John Elway"

Humility. Not the fake kind. The true, honest to goodness, "aw shucks" statement is awesome. We all know those asses that do the "humble brag." Dane Cook tweets, Wow, it is embarassing when you get in a car accident and the other driver is just happy to see you (paraphrased). That isn't Tebow. He is just straight up genuine. I don't know what it is, but when he says something, I just believe him. I don't believe he is in it for the money or the fame or the glory, he just does it cuz he freaking loves it. Not only that, he does it while exuding confidence in himself and his team. It truly blows my mind how he can pull both off.

Look, if I can give any advice to people entering the workforce (coming from an engineer with a year of experience, so take it with a grain of salt), it would be to follow these three things. The guy I respect most at work lives and breaths #2, and he is widely considered the rising star. He is right around 30 years old and soon will be the youngest (or close to it) person in our 60,000 person company to reach general superintendant. He also demonstrates #1 because of his relative lack of experience. He isn't quite as good as Tebow at #3, but he is still a very humble guy.

Demonstrating these 3 things will, at the very least, earn you the respect of your peers.

Remember that blog with unsolicited advice from Auron? Well, I'm doing it in short chunks like this one because I don't have the dedication to do the monster blog like I originally planned.

Dragon Age: Origins Was Better Than Skyrim

Another set of props to @jbul for pointing me in DA:O's direction. I love this game so much. I just finished it an hour ago.

The big difference between DA:O and Skyrim is that when I played DA:O it got better all the way until I beat it while Skyrim slowly started being less and less fun until it turned into a chore at the 80 hour mark.

Granted, I beat DA:O with almost all the side quests in 60 hours (meaning Skyrim had a ton more content), but I feel like I can play DA:O at least one more time and not get burned out at all. I am thinking playing as a city elf will probably be completely different from my human noble, especially if I use all new party members and choose to be cartoonishly evil.

Skyrim is great (come on, I gave it a 9.5!), but it is just a giant sandbox. There is certainly more soul than in Oblivion, but how much of a good story is feasible in an open world RPG? I think there needs to be a distinction between western RPGs (Dragon Age, Baldur's Gate, etc.) and sandbox RPGs (Elder Scrolls). They really are completely different experiences, and it became obvious as I was playing DA:O that I strongly prefer the branching nature of DA:O to the go anywhere, do anthing nature of Skyrim.

DA:O definitely looks 10x worse than Skyrim. That really is the only thing I can see that Skyrim truly dominates. I could argue Skyrim has a better soundtrack, but I'd certainly say DA:O has a better voice acting crew.

Skyrim is more about exploring a cool world while DA:O is about learning about cool characters. I loved Morrigan until she *spoilers* walked out on me right before the end of the freaking game!!! Allistair will be a cool king. Sten was cool, not amazing like the other two, but still interesting in his own way.

Honestly, the only problem I had with DA:O was that it took me 5 hours to start liking it and 10 hours to really understand it completely. It is very counter-intuitive with console controls. I love the system now, but it took me a while to start liking it. Right now I'm resisting the urge to restart a brand new game and just play it again. If I don't wait a little while, I know I'll burn myself out, but I really want to see how big of a difference a character different character will make.

I'm probably going to try Borderlands instead while plugging away at Devil Survivor 2. DS2 is good, but the seemingly random difficulty spikes are annoying. I will struggle on one stage and die 5-6 times, go grind and then barely get by it. After that I'll have 5-6 battles that are a complete joke. I don't understand. If every battle was tough, I wouldn't mind because it would just mean that either I suck or I don't grind enough, but these random spikes just annoy me because it makes the next 5-6 stages way too easy. The game is amazing, but the battes are either WAY to easy or WAY too hard.

Anyway, I know DA2 made some changes, so I'd like to hear your thoughts on it. Also, I'd like to know if Awakening would be worth buying. I'm not going to do the DLC though. I just can't justify giving them 5 dollars for an hour or two.

Dragon Age, Devil Survivor 2, (Sigh) Work, Great News

@Jbul deserves credit for convincing me to drop $17 on Dragon Age: Origins. The plot is basic (so far), the setting is generic, the battles are clunky on the PS3, the graphics are subpar at best, the inventory system is terrile, and I'm loving this game.

See, all those observations are negative, but they are completely outweighed by 2 things. 1. The characters (both Party memebers and npcs) are actually interesting. This is the first time I've played a WRPG with interesting characters since the days. Morrigan and Allistar are very cool. Not quite a Minsc, but still very cool. I wouldn't quite say that I "care" about the characters like I would in a typical JRPG, but I do oftentimes find myself "interested" in them. This is very different for me. The only characters I can think of that I've ever been interested in before are in three games. The Persona 3 + 4 social links and Auron from Final Fantasy X. Now, there have been a ton of characters that I've cared about, but none of them actually piqued my interest. This is a HUGE plus for Dragon Age.

2. The moral choices are not binary. In Skyrim you can be cartoonishly evil, or sugar-sweet good. In Final Fantasy (insert number here) you don't get to choose. In Dragon Age, I feel like this is not as much of an issue. Your decisions are not always so clear cut and easy.

Atlus deserves credit for developing and publishing amazing games. I bought Devil Survivor 2 new at full price ($30) because I knew I'd like it (Heck, I gave the first one a 9.0) and Atlus deserves my money. They never have day one DLC, they never try to milk the customer, and most importantly... they make fantastic freaking games. Hmmmm, ever heard of Demon's Souls. Yeah, Atlus published that (when nobody else would touch it with a 10 ft. poll). How about Persona? They developed those. What about Ogre Battle 64? Published by... yep. How about ALL Shin Megami Tensei games? All developed by Atlus. They make games that don't hit the mainstream, but they are almost always great.

How easy would it have been to change a few things around and tack on a 5 hour add-on for Persona 3 FES (which was like a rerelease of Persona 3), and then just rake in the money for next to no effort. Not Atlus. They added 30+ hours to a 90+ hour game, added characters, adjusted the story, etc. They took a great game and made it incredible. Then how easy would it have been for them to release the game to the PSP, unchanged, and rake in even more money. Not Atlus. They added a female protagonist (which to the uninitiated may seem minor, but this completely changes many aspects of the game), added characters, and made a sleeker interface.

I'm sure Persona 4 Golden Edition will be the same for the Vita.

Atlus deserves my money the same way Square deserved my money back in the PS1 era.

Anyway, the game is more of the same of the first game. Awesome battles, ok characters, crazy difficulty spikes.

Today at work was a little rough. If you haven't followed my past blogs, you should skip this part because I'm not going to preface this with everything you need to know for it to make sense. I spent the first half of the day actually doing field engineering. That was freaking awesome. I loved it. Had a blast. I crawled in a confined space, took measurements and did the analysis required to decide how to proceed forward with the activity. Then I had training until almost the end of the day. Well, that's when I got ran over by a freaking mac truck two or three times. I've been tasked with supporting the electrical department. I've done everything they've asked, plus pushed out a few other products for them that they didn't really want to do. Well, today I found out that the head of the department complained that Phil (the guy whose main job is to support them) and I (who is supposed to spend 10% of my time supporting them) aren't doing enough. The problem is that the head doesn't really know what he wants. I ask him if he needs anything 1-2 times a day and 90% of the time he says no. The rest of the time he gives me a little, which I quickly finish and get back to him.

Well, he was promised an electrical engineer, which neither of us are, and he is just complaining for the sake of complaining. My manager isn't mad at me and only a little mad at Phil because he knows we are doing everything asked of us and more, but the simple fact of the matter is that it looks bad on our department, which is bull.

And all the while I'm supposed to learn all the electrical stuff, mechanical stuff, instrumentation stuff all while spending 90% of my time on design. Just learning the electrical and mechanical stuff would be a full time job, which is evident by the fact that we have a guy that does just those two things on a full time basis. I despise design, so I'm starting to let it slip to learn the mechanical stuff as best as I can, but here pretty quick I'm sure that the design manager is going to get mad at me. I actually don't want to call in sick everyday (like in design) when I'm doing the mechanical stuff though, so maybe it is for the best that I just go with this.

All that being said, I've been so much happier at work lately that it is insane. Design isn't quite so terrible (more like a 2/10 instead of a 0/10) when I do it half the time.

My fiance got 2 job interviews for this Saturday. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Mr. President

This isn't political in nature, and I would say the exact same thing about the other side.

Dear Mr. President,

Your advertisements on this site make me less likely to vote for you.


Your acceptance of political advertising annoys me and makes me visit this site less.

Dear Gamespot users,

Yes, this is a stupid complaint, no I don't care. I come here to take a break from the more serious aspects of the real world, not get reminded of them.

People Don't Change

Thanks for the comments on the last blog. I've accepted it, so I can't drum up the motivation to discuss the issue any further.

This was originally going to be a part of a single mega-blog, but I decided against that.

Anyway, now that that is over, I can get to the meat of the blog.

There are very few things that I believe are universal. Almost everything has an exception, or it doesn't apply to all situations. I believe that this blog applies to everybody, in every situation except for those who have adult on-set mental conditions like severe post-tramatic stress disorder or paranoid schizophrenea.

I firmly believe people don't change. That statement needs a little disection. First, what do I mean by "people." By people I mean indivduals that have reached a certain maturity level. I struggle to determine exactly what that maturity level is. I think it occurs for most people around age 6-10, but that is just a typical age.

The second part of that statement that needs clarification is the word "change." People change their behaviors, beliefs, actions, thoughts, emotions, and much more all the time. By change, I simply mean that everybody has an aspect of their personality that is distinctly "them." This "thing" they have never changes and it drives the individual to do behave the way they do. I do my best explaining with examples, so here we go.

I'll use myself as my first example. I've identified one "thing" about myself that fits into this catagory, though I am sure there are more unidentified ones out there. The one "thing" that hasn't changed and won't change about me. My beliefs, my actions, my emotional state, etc. are driven by this one unchanging aspect of who I am. I am very analytical. That is my "thing," that is who I am. The things I do and the things I believe are in a constant flux, but they are all (at least) affected by this or (at most) directly determined by this. This aspect of myself has been there as long as I can remember. I choose what I do and what I say because of a detailed, unemotional thought process. I didn't realize this about myself until 7th grade when I had a couple teachers point it out to me. By late high school, I had quit denying it and I finally just embraced it. It should be unsurprising that I'm an engineer.

Using myself as an example is proving more difficult than I presumed because it is very difficult to observe my own actions and put words to it.

My second example is my father. His "thing" (or at least one of them) is optimism. No matter how bad things are, or could be, he will always believe that everything will work out. He is that guy who says, "well, the worst case scenario is..." and he follows up with not the worst case scenario, but actually an above average scenario. People, especially family, can screw him over and over and over again, and he will come back for more. Every. Single. Time. His actions, beliefs and everything else are affected by his eternal, unchanging optimism.

I believe that everybody has certain "things" that simply make them who they are and those things don't change, even if the behavior of the person does. I know that looking at my high school self, I'd be looking at somebody with a very different set of beliefs, behaviors and actions. The thing is, the changes in those things has been because I have analytically determined that my current set of beliefs, behaviors and actions are better. The way I decide what I do has not changed.

A perfect example of the above example is a guy I knew in high school. On the surface it seems as if he is a whole new person. In high school he never drank underage, never did drugs, got straight A's, started on the football team, was the lead in the musical and play every year and was considered one of the most fun people in our school. Now he is broke, does marijuana, shrooms, and drinks excessively all the time. He is wasted all the time.

The thing is, the people that knew him well in high school are completely unsurprised by this, even if nobody else is. His actions have always been determined by a strikingly simple impulsiveness. Whatever was the most fun, he did. Period. He didn't do drugs or drink because he didn't view them as fun. Once he was put into an environment where people proved that doing drugs could be enjoyable, he jumped right in. Although it may seem like he went from one extreme to the other, he didn't. He just continued to be who he was.

There is no set of "things." I tend to be pessimistic when it comes to dealing with friends. This isn't my "thing" though, I am pessimistic because my analysis of past events has shown that pessimism is an appropriate response, unlike my father, whose optimism is actually his "thing." Two people that are extremely optimistic when dealing with work could have completely different "things." One person's thing might be optimism while another's is that he is a workaholic.

The two examples people try to use are reformed criminals and religious inspiration. I can derail the first, partially at least. People commit crimes to get ahead. Once they determine that the negative aspects of getting caught outweighs the positive aspects of making personal gains, so they quit. That would be an analytical criminal. Or if they quit because they see how it affects others, maybe they are empathetic. There are plenty of "things" that explain why a criminal would reform that still would involve a non-change. The religious aspect is very similar. I know a very analytical person who turned towards God, not out of love (at first), but out of a risk analysis. His theory was, if I believe and he isn't there, what did I lose? Sure, he has grown to love God and religion, but that wasn't the original motivation.

Sigh, I'm not really sure if I said anything of value here. I took too many words to say, "people have aspects of their personality that affect or determine how they behave, and these aspects never change." I'll try to do better next time.


I've been pretty slow on personal updates lately.

First, I'm still working as a construction engineer on a multi-billion dollar dam construction project. I graduated in May, got hired in June to be a FIELD ENGINEER. I was to be sent down into the field to monitor construction, fix field issues and work on efficiency systems.

The first month I spent ordering materials to help a coworker catch up. The next 6 months after that I spent 80% of my time on weight control. We have the largest moving gantry crane on the planet. We are picking up concrete shells that are 5000 tons (10,000,000 pounds). As a result, we have to make sure we know exactly how much it weighs, and we have to know exactly where the center of gravity is. To do this we make a 3d CADD model including every single thing on, in and attached to the shell. We use survey equipment to get the surface of the shell modeled with a surface consisting of tens of thousands of points, just to make sure that the shell was constructed in the way the plans say it was. This data is used to alter the model and get a new weight and center of gravity based on true as-built conditions.

The person who did weight control before me was a pay grade above me, had 5 years of experience and left 1 week after I started. He gave me no training, no advice, no nothing. 2 days before he leaves, his manager (who is not the same as my manager) asks if I'm willing to fill in and do weight control until they could replace him. Keep that last statement in mind because it is very important to the whole point of this story.

So, I went from being promised a field job to being in a design function.

I suppose this might be a good time to explain the difference on a construction site. On large construction jobs, the contractor (builder) has to design some of the components. This means that the engineers on the job are generally fit into two catagories, field and design. The field engineers monitor construction, troubleshoot issues, perform inspections, and deal with construction means and methods. The designers design formwork, come up with solutions to interferences and design the miscellaneous odds and ends.

I had a design job at IDOT. I declined it because... I hate doing design work. It is very important and I respect everybody that does it, but it is not for me. I took my current job to get down into the field.

So, I worked 6 10 hour shifts a week (plus a 2hr/day commute) to catch up on weight control, in a design function. The engineer that left who was responsible for this had blatantly and completely ignored it because he knew he was leaving. The first report needed to be done 2 weeks BEFORE I started working on it. I worked tirelessly on this report and it took me roughly 6 weeks to pump out the first report. Each report after that took me 1 week less until I got down to 3 weeks/report. I revolutionized the way we use survey data on these shells.

So, I finished all 6 reports not too long ago. During this whole time, the way they kept me motivated was by saying things like, "the quicker you get this done, the quicker you can get down in the field and do something interesting." By the end I was back down to 5 10 hour days a week and I was even helping out some of the efficiency efforts down in the field. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Then December hits...

I'm now done with weight control and I'm giddy with excitement about being moved to the field. Then my manager and the design manager pull me into my manager's office. They tell me that construction is slow (which it really is, we are building half as many shells this year) and we are very far behind in design (which is a perpetual issue on this job). As a result, I am going to help out in design for at least the next 6 months. I'm about to explode at this point. I start checkin formwork drawings and even producing my own formwork designs. I do electrical drawings, metals drawings, etc. By mid Feb. I go on daily profanity-laden rants on my way home, feel like s*** all the time, and catch myself complaining about everything I come across. My productivity tanked. Nobody really noticed because they all chalked it up to a learning curve, but that wasn't it. I just couldn't get motivated to tackle the designs. I hated going to work, woke up everyday and considered calling in sick. My manager tried to throw me a few bones by having me help out the electrical superintendent, but he didn't want to take the time to teach me enough to be useful. I would ask him daily if he needed me for anything, but he always passed me over.

Before I forget, we got a new structural engineer (10 year of experience) in December. I was told by my manager, make sure you teach him weight control, he is taking it over. I tell the design manager about this and he says, and this is an exact quote, "Hmmm, I'm not sure about that, I mean, Khalid has a lot of designs to do. I don't want to pull him off those designs every summer to do 5-6 months worth the weight control. You know, he could do that with his hands tied behind his back and I think it would be a waste of his time." Yeah, I know that seems awful long to be an exact quote, but I wouldn't forget something like that. He might as well have said, "your time isn't worth jack."

This conversation is the one that put me over the edge from just being mildly annoyed to the rants, complaints, etc.

I finally get to the point last week that I walked into my manager's office and said, "I'm just going to be blunt, when am I getting out of design?" The conversation went around and around until he said, well you're scheduled to be there until the beginning of June, but he has you scheduled to do weight control??? what? Supposedly my manager is going to get that taken care of and get me off weight control, but I'm not going to believe anything anybody on that job says till I see it.

My manager has told one of the other engineers to get me more involved in the field, but once again, I'll believe it when I see it. I'm still gonna be doing design. In fact, my manager's exact quote was, "we're gonna start taking that needle out of your back, but its gonna be slow."

Here's the thing, despite all this bull dung, I love my manager. He is awesome.

So, This week I started getting a better attitude, better productivity, etc. I'm just gonna put my head down, get the designs done and hope for the best.

That being said, none of this would be an issue, but I live 200+ miles away from my fiancee. I could have had a design job and still lived with her (with IDOT). I could have avoided weekly 4 hour drives, one way, to see her had my current employer simply been honest with me and told me it was a design job. There is no way I would have accepted a design job 200+ miles away. None.

Since I'm doing design, I am effectively under the design manager. He is the most competent engineer in the history of mankind. He is flat-out amazing. He is the second worst manager I've ever seen though. One of his employees described it best. You have a conversation with him, walk away, feel fine and then 2 hours later you realize how much of a dick he was.

The best example was that our survey department was very far behind and got me the data 5 weeks late for one of the weight control reports. He walked in my office and asked if it was done yet. I said, "no, I'm waiting on survey." He turns around, and as he is leaving says, "well, I guess you aren't getting it done this week either." As I try to explain, he just walks away. Yes, I'm responsible for the report, so it is my fault, but is it my fault that 3 visits a day to survey hasn't been enough to get them to work on my stuff? Can I at least explain that?

He does this all the time, to everybody. His department causes so many delays that it is ridiculous. He needs to hire 2 drafters and 2 engineers (one to take the spot I'm filling now and one to take another spot), but he won't tell his boss. He just kisses so much ass.

I don't like that guy.

Anyway, it doesn't sound like I'm over it, but I am. Now, if July comes around and I'm in design or doing weight control, it will be a totally different issue. I will have over 4 weeks of vacation saved by then, and if I'm not out of design by July 1st, I'll take 3 weeks of vacation and start a job search.

I'm not sure whether I should believe them or not when they say no weight control and no design come June and some field work coming up. I want to believe, but I've heard it all before.

Yeah, I know I sound negative, but I am truly appreciative to just have a decent job, so don't bother going there.

Also, to all the people (not on GS, just in general) that say "oh just wait till you hit the real world" to all the high school/college students.... Screw you. Even with all this bull dung going on, this is a joke compared to college. A joke.