Sunday, January 20, 2008

January 16th the ball started to roll again

As my previous post suggests, I returned from my Active Duty Tour in Afghanistan in the middle of December.

It's hard to describe everything that has happened since my return, but I'll try to do it in this space since it relates to where I am at and where I am going (job-wise). I didn't do a lot for work since I was on terminal leave, but I did purchase a new blackberry and as such, I have a new number. If you know me and have my email address, then contact me for the new number.

When I first returned on December 14, 2007, I had to attend a family wedding the very next day. The wedding was great and I gained a great brother-in-law.

Then, we had company stay over for 4-5 days after. Then Christmas and then New Years arrived. I had spent two weeks at home with little to no privacy with myself, my family, etc.

It's not to say that I didn't go out and do things. For example, I spent a day going in and out of stores looking at all the great selections. This may sound strange, but over in Afghanistan, there wasn't much of a selection of anything. Imagine going to the grocery store and actually having something to choose from.

I visited Walmart first. I know that some people hate Walmart for various reasons, but there are a few things I want YOU to know about Walmart and perhaps you will think about giving them more of your money. For one, they save on average, 35-39% of the cost of food. I tallied it up and it is real. Most importantly, they ship overseas to APO addresses. So for the troops who want a choice and can get to a computer connection, anything Walmart has, you can also have, no matter how remote your location (thanks APO for your efforts as well.) I wandered around Walmart like a junkie looking for a fix. Unreal!

Second, I visited all the electronics chains like Best Buy, Circuit City and the likes. I am amazed at just how inexpensive laptop computers are now.

But, I didn't buy one personal thing for me. Not one thing since I have come home. I just wanted my freedom.

One thing I did buy, I bought for my lovely wife who stood by me and supported me 150% while I was deployed. She received the car of her dreams. I bought her a BMW X5. Not a new one, but a pre-owned model that was in excellent condition and under blue book (is there any other way for me?)

Then, we decided to take a trip to Los Angeles. I've never actually visited LA, but I have flown through there countless times on my way to Asia/Pacific. Thanks to my traveling job, I have amassed a tremendous number of hotel, rental car and frequent flier miles. For this trip, we tapped the hotel and rental car rewards.

We stayed in the Courtyard Marriott, Marina Del Rey, CA for absolutely nothing. It was quiet and in a very upscale area. Granted, it wasn't in the middle of Beverly Hills, but after scouring Frommer's Guide to LA, I didn't want to stay near any of that. It turned out to be quite a good decision. We were almost always going against traffic and everyone knows (at least from TV) how bad traffic is there.

We didn't have any particular purpose in mind, but we did have a few goals: See the stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame; Shop in the LA Fashion District; Shop and scout out wholesale/distributors in the LA Jewelry District. We did all that and made some fantastic business contacts for our Jewelry business.

I don't often publish this, but I met my wife while I was working in Sydney, Australia. She's not Australian; she's Indonesian and from the Island of Bali. One thing she misses here in the Orlando area is a good Indonesian restaurant and the opportunity to speak her native language. In a mere five minutes of being in LAX, we saw more Indonesians than she has seen since being here in the USA (since 2004.) So, one overriding theme of this trip was to eat lots of Indonesian food and meet and mingle with her Indonesian friends. From this standpoint, the trip was a huge success. The best restaurant that we found was Ramayani in Westwood. It's been around for over 25 years. Cheap, authentic and yummy.

After almost six days of shopping and being a tourist, I decided to do something different: I went to Fry's Electronics! If you've never heard of Fry's it's a combination of Crutchfield's, Best Buy, Tiger Direct and Walmart (for electronics). They had aisle after aisle of bins containing items for you to build your own computer. I was like a Junkie getting off the plane in Amsterdam and having Customs light one up for me. It was awesome. The choices, prices and brands were top-notch. The sales associates were well-trained and very knowledgeable. And believe it or not, I actually bought something. Since my daughter broke my Philips ANR headset, I decided to replace them with a brand I had never heard of called Turtle Engineering. The headset was magnificent and the price was even better. I also bought a 2gb micro SD card for my Blackberry.

The day after I returned from Los Angeles, I had to return to work. Funny how that all works out. BearingPoint ("The Company") actually sent me a reminder to return to work on the 16th of January. Of course, this is because I contacted the leave administrator and requested that they allow me to return to work on that date. I had until April 10th to return without penalty. But as many of you know, I can't sit around with nothing to do.

So, on the 16th, I contacted leave admin and advised them that I had indeed "returned to work" as per their letter.

While I was overseas, I spent a good amount of time tracking the industry, tracking my company's progress in the market, and tracking technology. It was no surprise to me to find out that BearingPoint is in the middle of a reorganization.

Late last year, as soon as the company became current with their reporting, the CEO left for a "better opportunity" and was replaced by Mr. Harbach (whom I've never met; I met Harry You in the elevator once at Tysons.) There have been many changes!

I won't dwell on what's in the press or what analysts are saying about BearingPoint because I haven't been with the firm for the last 15 months. I will say that they provided spectacular support for my family while I was deployed in Afghanistan.

I am sad that many of my friends have departed the firm, but that happens. Many of my very good associates along with my Boss have or will soon leave the firm (it's already public.) So of course, I have to wonder why they are leaving. I just guess it happens. Opportunities come and go.

One of the things I picked up while overseas was a fully adjudicated TS/SCI clearance. With my Boss (a managing director) on his way out, I started receiving phone calls from people who wanted me to join their group. Yes, the company has a shark-mentality. This wasn't the first time another group courted me. After wading through a number of these calls, I focused on a particular managing director and I have decided to join up with his group. I will leave the Commercial Space, probably for good.

This is significant, because I had never really considered the possibility of working full-time in the public sector. The biggest reason was that all the positions that I knew about required a relocation to the greater Washington DC area. The housing is expensive, taxes high, and the traffic is horrible (probably worst than LA).

Then, I ran into this new guy and he told me that he runs a group of guys who live anywhere they want and who all travel. This looked good to me. He also offered me opportunities to advance, lead, train, and learn new products. I will start with the new group in the next week or so. I'm excited! I also have to thank Jordan B. for the heads-up. Without his lead on this, it probably would not have happened.

Anyway, the new week starts tomorrow and I have things to do like install webMethods 7.1 and get caught up on the latest SOA strategies.

In parting, I want to thank everyone who kept in contact with me while I was snorting sand in the desert.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Hey Everyone! It's been a long long time, but I am finally back from my tour of duty with the US Army in Afghanistan. I've plenty of tall tales to spin, but I cannot wait to get back to work.

Hope to hear from many of you soon.

Take care!

Ray Moser