Saturday, July 08, 2006

some humor for us dregs of society

It's not exactly "family-friendly" so beware. Seriously. But if you want to laugh -- and laugh HARD -- then click the link below. At your own risk, of course.

Most hilarious video ever.

Holy crap. I will never again in my life see anything even close to that funny. Now THAT is what I call a July 4th stunt. You would think they'd have tested the method with a smaller bottle rocket first...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

them spammers ain't stupid

At least not as stupid as we might suspect at times, anyway. Have you ever paid attention to the junk mail you get? Enough to notice the subjects, I mean. If so, have you ever noticed how closely the offers are matched to the content of sites you've visited recently? I've sure seen that. Funny how that works...until I realize there must be spyware on my computer that lets those evil spammers track the sites I visit and tailor their spam to match my assumed interests. That isn't so cool, and I should probably care enough to purge that trash from my hard drive, but I don't. (Hey, maybe that's why I keep catching viruses every few months that force me to reboot my machine! Oh well, I guess if I cared more then that wouldn't keep happening.)

Anyway, case in point: I've been looking into Vegas info over the past few nights, trying to find the best hotel deals and hidden bargains and such, in preparation for an upcoming vacation this fall. Well, surprise! Today I received seven messages in my junk mail folder, six about how I can gamble my way to riches ("Live like a Hi-Roller!" "Better odds than Vegas!" etc.) and one touting the benefits of a vacation to Italy. Although the latter hit on a huge interest of mine, I'm not dumb enough to open spam messages and so it didn't get a bite. And unfortunately for those tracking my internet activity, they have guessed wrong that I'm a crazed gambling addict desperately searching for someplace to gamble away the rest of his pennies. Sorry folks, better luck with the next sucker...

And just think, somebody out there is getting paid okay money for sending this trash to thousands of people like me, 99.9% of whom will hit the delete key without ever giving it a second look. Ain't the internet great?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

the expat thing

To heck with those little plots of escapism I keep talking about. You know, heading to other states and stuff. How about living semi-permanently in another country? Like, on the other side of the globe? That's the kind of real vacation/life I'd love to get my feet into. But that sort of pipe dream is just that. It's cool to think about, but I'd actually have to find a way of making good money over there. Not to mention that it'd take a kind of daring adventurism I've rarely possessed to drop one's life on this side of the ocean and trade it all in for the unknown of "over there.", but not entirely realistic.

Or is it? I've been thinking a bit lately, which of course is not always good in my case. But this time I might be getting somewhere -- literally. For a while I've been considering trying to land a part-time job with a local engineering consulting firm doing electrical design, for the experience and extra cash. I mean, I've done it before and I'd gladly do it part-time for considerably less than a full-time engineer would get paid out here for the same hours. And I'm actually good at it -- at least good enough to be worth bringing on for small stuff. At least I think so. But that's just me and unfortunately I don't own an engineering firm. Anyway, it'd be a good way for me to keep my skills up and stay current in the industry, not to mention gain expertise that could help later on. That'd be step one in Jesse's Master Plan. It may be a reach to assume someone out there would be willing to take me on under such terms, but it's step one.

The next step would be to get a Professional Engineer license. I need to do more research on this, but supposedly the requirement for related experience in Maryland is four years, not five as I had thought, and I may even be able to count experience prior to my passing the EIT exam toward that. If so, I'm only about a year away from being eligible to take the licensing exam. That's gonna be brutal, but given that there are plenty of prepatory classes out there and other guys in my unit at work are interested in taking the exam as well (read: study partners), it's plenty doable.

So those are the first two steps. The third one is much harder I think. I'd need to get to a point where I'm getting paid for doing consulting work out of the office, on my own time, and proving that I can do that sort of thing regularly. I don't know if any company would even be interested in such an idea, or if they would be willing to pay for work at home. I'd have to convince an employer to allow me to work on my own and they'd have to trust me on projects and timesheets. In some ways that might not be a stretch, especially given that I'd have a chance to prove myself first (see step one), but again, I don't have my own engineering consulting business. I'm playing on others' terms here.

Okay, so let's say those three work out. They'd take some work, but as I see it each is within reach. Fast forward a year or two, and I'm still at my current job gaining experience with widely-used industry tools, I have my P.E. license, and I'm doing consulting work at home to the tune of 10-20 hours per week. Yeah, that's a rough 50-60 hours per week of work, but I'm getting experience (and contacts) and making extra money in the process. That's worth the extra toil. So, by this time I've gotten good enough at consulting to be able to do projects on my own, at least small ones, and I could even stamp and sign off on my own work if need be. Heck, I could even receive and return project work from home, without ever setting foot in an office.*

Voila! See where this is headed? I would then have the ability to do legitimate work totally from home. And then home could be anywhere on the planet that has reliable internet access and international shipping outlets. These days those places aren't hard to find in almost any part of the world. And given that one needs very little money to survive in a lot of those places, I'd only need to work maybe 15-20 hours per week to take care of myself and have the time and money left over for ministry, travelling, visiting home, and whatever other escapades I get myself into. That puts me in another part of the world with the time on my hands to get to know it and work in it, not to mention the ability to put in my work hours as I choose.

Admittedly this great scheme is a bit hare-brained at the moment, given that a lot of things need to fall in line nicely and the failure of any of them to do so would basically take the wheels off the rest of the thing. And it might take much longer than I hope to establish myself and get good enough at doing such work to get to that position of working from home. But it's still cool to think and dream about. For as long as I can remember I've been interested in doing the international exploration thing. It's still very high on life's "big picture" priority list. So for the first time in a long time, one of those life goals seems reachable, more down-to-earth and real than one of those things you just hope kinda works itself out somehow. Hopefully I'll be looking back on this post from my home in who-knows-where five years from now...

* This would actually require a fourth step consisting of me gaining much proficiency in CAD programs, as I'd have to do my own drafting. But there are classes on this and it's something that'd be interesting to me anyway so I don't see this as a big deal. It is something I need to get started on though.