Thursday, March 18, 2010

More job thoughts

Those positions that I interviewed for back in February were either filled by internal candidates or remain unfilled a month later. Clearly many companies have no intention of hiring anyone unless they find a clone of the CTO. I had two phone screens this week, and both HR people told me that they are having extreme difficulty filling their positions. In one case the job listing has been active for more than five months. I don't understand the point of posting a job and going through the interview process with (probably) dozens of candidates if there is no intention to hire. So much for the productivity gains that you see in the news.

I worked at one company years ago that tried to stockpile "superstars" for a new project. One year into the project there was a 1,000 page system specification and a layoff. Everyone on the team seems to post that year as "manager" or "architect" on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

I continue to believe that I am getting consideration at these places simply to make EEO statistics look better. "Call a few old guys this month please".

One of those companies from last month is actually reversing their outsourcing and bringing jobs back to the US after a failed two years of outsourcing. Their client base is all in the US and Europe, so why anyone believed that moving all the work to India was a good idea in the first place is astounding to me. I thought I had a pretty good shot at a management position with these folks, until I started getting questioned on the depth of my PHP experience during my second interview. Of course the guy is hoping to find a clone of himself, who can do every software job in the company, thus boosting the productivity and making his job that much easier. This focus on the tools in use is very prevalent, and is only an excuse at best to turn away an older worker. If there is truly a pressing need for someone to walk in and perform at a high level on 15 different tasks on the first day, then valuable productivity and time is being wasted trying to interview for such a person, too. Apparently these hiring managers truly believe that they can find someone that is 110% productive on the first day on the job or there is some other mysterious force at work that hasn't manifested itself to me yet.

I got a phone screen at a large industrial conglomerate for a SmartGrid posting recently, but the questions focused on what type of functional organization I liked to work under, and it also became clear that C# and Microsoft APIs were going to play a large part in the hiring decision despite what the job listing said. Cisco also opened a couple of SmartGrid software jobs, but these are based in San Jose, so there is little chance I will get any consideration. Oh, those promised 10 or so job openings in Massachusetts did start to appear on the Cisco website last week. But remember - 80% of those are expected to be filled by internal transfers. See my prior rants about how Cisco considers that process to be an indication of "new hiring" and "dedication to the Massachusetts market".

Perhaps these open requisitions are so precious that the hiring managers can't bring themselves to "spend" them. Sort of like sitting on cash while watching the stock market go up and convincing yourself that the timing isn't right. I can rationalize my way to sanity on these things by believing that I would not want to work for such a company / manager anyway. After all, this is supposed to be the time to invest and gain on your competition, at least according to companies like Cisco and investors like Warren Buffett.

I've probably mentioned it before, but another tactic I've run into is a mindset that equates years of tool usage with productivity and intelligence. Many postings start off with "10 years Java, 5 years C++" and many other similar statistics. Of course this a means to pare down the number of resumes under consideration, but I believe these people are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

So I did have one moderately successful phone screen this week, for a customer SDK/API support position at a major mobile phone manufacturer. They are building out a cloud infrastructure, and apparently are having extreme difficulty staffing their development positions. I suppose they were hoping to attract droves of ex-Apple and maybe Microsoft or Google employees. At any rate, the expectation is that some bug fixing and coding work will go along with this job, in order to help out the development team who can't seem to hire anyone, and to build a strong foundation for supporting customers with deep technical knowledge of the suite of services. Hopefully the onsite interview materializes shortly, 'cause I'm not too hopeful about those other two phone screens this week.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thoughts on software development

So with the lull in recent interview activity, I've been meaning to write down a few thoughts about my (former?) industry, and the way I see things.

First a quick job update, since I did interview for one of those support positions this week. I want to write code, not just answer angry customer questions, but they seem to have several internal candidates and they seem to want someone to just reproduce the issues and prove that a bug exists (see my earlier postings on that topic). A business consulting company gave me a quick phone screen, too, but I don't expect to hear back from them. Not because the phone screen went badly, but because I am competing against 100 other people, most of whom are younger than me and therefore more likely to stick around longer than I am (that is what I hear from some recruiters, at least).

I registered myself on eLance this week, a free-lancing contract website. I think there are at least 50,000 other registered members who do software contracting though. This speaks to one of the issues I wanted to write about. I think we are seeing the end of software and computer development in this country.

When I started out, the mini-computer was a big deal, and the personal computer was just about to become a big deal. Kids coming out of school for the next 25 years were targeting some form of computer or networking career. Today, these jobs are viewed as a commodity to be outsourced to the low bidder. The innovation that is happening in this country is mostly around better ways to shop online and tell your friends what you are shopping for, and where to find the next coupon. A lot of young people have Wall Street as their ideal job now.

I see this as closely related to what I have experienced on the job. Too many of my colleagues seem to believe that they know more than the customer. This leads to an "attitude of least effort". In this mindset, anything that takes more than a few minutes of work is deemed "too hard" and "not worth doing". If you get really good with this technique, your job becomes a series of status reports where you diss everything that is proposed as worthless and too expensive to pursue, and you don't need to actually work on anything other than your next status report. It usually helps if you also complain about how long it takes to write the status report.

The goal is to work on the newest technology and the most fun projects with the fewest requirements and no actual customers. That way you pick up new skills and never have to deal with real product development or support. I know this, because that was my goal early in my career too. If you do land in such a position, you get to speculate on what your possible customer base might want, because no one really knows, including the marketing people. You use all the latest techniques to teach yourself the newest framework or JDK release. You avoid virtually any schedule constraints (the schedule is made up by marketing people and is therefore meaningless). You get to put in features that you believe are critical, at least if you are good at yelling about how critical the feature will be. Usually there is a real sense of urgency though, because if you don't demonstrate a few cool features, your wonderful job goes away, project cancelled.

So I'll try to relate this back to some general industry observations. It seems to me that there are broadly three categories of software developers. These are the prototypers, the product developers, and the sustaining developers. Very rarely you find someone who can bridge two of these categories, and even more rarely, all three. The Prototyper is the person I just described, who follows the new technology and doesn't actually ever deal with customers, let alone with the second product release. In my experience, the Prototypers are the folks being hired at Google, Amazon and other places. They are very smart. They can answer all kinds of questions about design patterns and the latest sorting algorithms and the latest Java frameworks. They crank out vast amounts of code that implements flashy new features. They usually have little interest in building in any kind of extensibility or troubleshooting features, because that is boring and that is what the Product Developer is for. They advocate for Agile and believe that a large quantity of new features equates to a Product. It usually does, but always in Release 1.0 form. Product quality, which I define as the perception of the customer that the product is fun to use, reliable and intuitive, usually falls by the wayside. This is what happened with Google Buzz, in my opinion. It also happened with a couple of major product releases I was associated with at Cisco.

The focus on Agile methodology strikes me as a kind of last gasp attempt to keep software development in this country. It ties software development to rapid cycles that focus on the next feature. There is no thought of long term product and service support. It is the antithesis of the waterfall model that is at the core of the CMM and outsourcing successes. Where the CMM crew focuses on statistical measurement of quality (just about as bad a way as there is to measure success, in my opinion) the Agile crew focuses on the rate of new features. The common element is a lack of focus on the customer and the longer term services that can be built around a product.

Now the Agile crew will tell you that the Process allows you to rapidly fix customer problems. Throw the new feature or fix out there, and see what pain it causes, and then rapidly fix it. The problem is that the PROCESS doesn't write good software. That only comes from good management and good Product Developers. The Prototypers are already gone from the project, re-assigned to the newest thing. In its worst form, this mindset leads to a huge pile of hacks, with zero documentation. Sound familiar?

Okay, back to the three categories. The Product Developer usually cares about a solid job, a good manager, and the opportunity to somehow make a difference at the company. Usually the goal is to find a niche where you demonstrate a thorough understanding of the component or subsystem, and the way in which the customers are using it. You become an expert in a specific area, and you focus on making the product better for the customer, and easier for you and others to troubleshoot. After the third or fourth time that the technical support group asks you to diagnose a core dump, you tend to start thinking about ways to avoid the core dump, or at least make it simple for the field support people to diagnose the core dump. You find all those CASE statements with no DEFAULT case, and the IF-THEN constructs with no ELSE clause, and the empty CATCH blocks that the Prototyper didn't want to think about because it would slow down the innovative thinking process and cause the current scrum deadline to slip out. Besides, the Prototyper argued that "the probability of anyone causing that scenario is very very low. It will almost never happen and is not worth my highly paid brain cycles to think about any more." After the tenth customer complains that the data input method is awkward and caused them to enter invalid data, you tend to try to think of better ways to structure the product's work flow, so you won't have to keep answering this question by telling the customers that they are stupid for not reading the eighteen warnings in the user guide on how NOT to enter data into this product.

The third category is the Sustaining Developer. Most often these folks also have what I call a "contractor mentality" in the sense that they love to work on short term issues with a well defined purpose and time frame. There is no concern about corporate strategy or angry debates about which tool framework should be used next. There is only the bug list, the customer and the bug fix. There is closure to your day, nearly every day. You get to solve real problems for real customers, and sometimes you are even recognized or rewarded for this. Not often, but sometimes.

Okay, a long posting again, and no new emails or phone calls today. I need to ping a friend of a friend about a startup he is trying to get off the ground. Maybe its a good day to go XC skiing at the local golf course, too.

More job musings

Well, that last post was kinda dismal, but I got some stuff out of my system, I suppose.

For some reason the job market seems a bit slower the past month. Maybe it is just slow for me, but I am definitely seeing a dearth of new job postings. Two more of my Cisco colleagues landed safely this past week, though. Java skills are definitely in demand. Colleague 'J' had five or six interviews and actually got Nuance to boost their offer to him. Colleague 'G' went a different route and is doing lab support at Netezza, at least as I understand it. More IT than software, at any rate.

I got a little irritated with the recent Cisco announcements about 3,000 new jobs in the next two quarters. Have a look at the Cisco careers page (if you can find the link on the website...). Then read the Mass High Tech article that says that they expect 50 requisitions in Massachusetts, but only 15 - 20 of those will be filled by new hires. More double-speak about what is good for the company vs the executives vs the country while they send the jobs and money overseas and collect their bonuses.

Disclosure for anyone who doesn't know me - I was a victim of the 2009 "limited reductions" at Cisco. That's right, it wasn't a layoff.

Had a depressing conversation with a recruiter today - he was clearly trying to tell me that I have no chance of getting a job through him, without telling me outright to get lost. I am too much of a generalist for this market. I need to "know" at least 30 or 40 technical frameworks and chip sets to even get an interview at most of the recent postings.

I liked the recent stories about Google Buzz - I view this as yet another failure of the "google methodology". Just because you hire the so-called smartest people doesn't mean you write good software or develop good products. Screwing up the privacy settings multiple times points to a group-think mentality that they teach you about in MBA case studies about spectacular failures. You only get a couple of chances to win people's attention and trust in the consumer business. Of course, here I am using the blog service, so I suppose they do get some things right - probably mostly by acquisitions, not unlike Cisco the last 20 years.

I continue to get interviews, one way or another. A large technology company here in Massachusetts still seems to be interested in talking to me. A business process company emailed me to call HR department this week for a phone screen. A friend of a former co-worker is supposedly close to landing seed funding and would like to talk with me in the next two weeks.

I think I will be able to find a niche somewhere supporting or developing a product line that is too critical to be offshored or outsourced. I ran across a posting on AppleInsider for an editor position. I suspect they are looking for someone who has coded a few iPhone applications and founded the next FourSquare social networking website though.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Job search notes and search database

I constructed a Filemaker database to track my job search, mostly out of boredom, and just to see if I could do something interesting with Filemaker. I posted a template copy on my iDisk public folder here:

The job search drags on. It appears that I have little chance at a development job now. I am convinced that rampant age discrimination is my biggest obstacle. At virtually every interview I am told that I did very well on the technical assessment, and that everyone liked me and thinks I am a good fit for the job and the company. But later I am told that other candidates had better skills, or that my expected salary is too high for the position. Why are they telling me what my expectations are before we even talk about salary?? And why do they think I will leave for another higher paying job, when of course, there are no other jobs, let alone higher paying jobs?? All of it boils down to age discrimination as far as I can determine.

All my recent interviews have been for support positions like escalation, where you get on the phone with angry customers at 3am and tell them the team in India/China/Timbuktu is working really hard on their problem with the best people assigned to it. The main goal is get the customer to stop screaming at the executive vice presidents about the poor quality of the product and the support, neither of which you have any control over, and neither of which the execs want to hear about. It distracts from their strategic planning.

Your only required skill is to keep saying nice things to the irate customer and avoid screaming four letter words back at the customer out of your own frustration about the poor product quality and support. Oh, and you get to install and run the product and verify to the rest of the company that the product is in fact poorly built and full of bugs, just like the angry customer says it is. Somehow the product team never believes what the customer tells them, so someone has to spend a week or two to duplicate the issue before anyone will be assigned to work on it. Usually the customer wants you on a continuous phone link 24x7 while you are trying to duplicate their problems, in case something else goes wrong.

So once you have isolated the problem and proved to your local development team that something is in fact wrong, you get to try to persuade the mostly non-English speaking remote support team that they need to write the fix for this problem as soon as possible, because the problem isn't important enough for the local development team to assign anyone to it. If you do manage to get the remote team to understand what you are saying, and they do manage to get some code written, then you get to install the supposed fix and re-test the customer issue. Usually this last phase drags on for several weeks and a couple of dozen attempts at fixing, while the customer demands that you stay on the phone and give progress reports every five minutes.

One thing I have learned from some of my remote colleagues is that there is an art to constructing a progress report. There are an infinite number of ways to say "I am still trying to understand what the heck I am doing" and "I really don't understand anything you are telling me" and "I am busy looking for another job that pays better" that make it sound like something is actually happening. I never realized how many process steps there are between the time you tell the remote team what needs fixing and the time that any code at all is actually written, let alone tested. There are at least 30 process steps that I never heard of prior to last year.

Finally, if you do actually succeed in improving anything for the customer, you are now the world expert in this area of the product functionality. Everyone in the company will now direct every customer question or complaint about this area of the product directly to your cellphone. Your number will be programmed into the favorites list of every operations manager at every customer.

Oh, and it is bad form to scream at the development team too, be they local or remote. They don't normally listen to you anyway, any more than they listen to the customers, and screaming obscenities at them does not improve the relationship.

The executive vice presidents don't reward you for any of this of course, since this has nothing to do with the strategy or direction of the company or the customer satisfaction. The only important thing is that you are the firewall between the executives and the angry customers. This is not a highly paid or respected position despite what they tell you when they are trying to hire you or keep you from leaving.

Hmm, and one other skill that gets no recognition on the job is the fact that you do not scream obscenities at your loved ones after being awake for 60 hours continuously with nothing to show for it other than cauliflower ears from being on the phone.

The good part is that there is a salary and benefits.

In case you can't tell, my frustration with this whole thing is that if you build the product right in the first place, you generally don't need very many escalation or support people. Building it right doesn't mean that you don't have bugs, or unforeseen customer problems when they insist on using the product for ten things that you never thought of originally. It just means that the product is built to be extended quickly and easily, and that you have built in mechanisms to assist with troubleshooting field issues on the actual customer installation, because they have the 1,000 server machines deployed and you have only a single CPU 10 year old PC cobbled together from spare parts due to cost cutting measures.

One of my former colleagues just landed a support job. Per usual, he knows the hiring manager from about 15 years ago. And another colleague has suddenly gotten 4 or 5 interviews this past week, and it seems highly likely he will get multiple offers within the next week. There are definitely more job listings the past month. And of course, both these guys are about 20 years younger than me.

So anyway I have another round of interviews at a small startup tomorrow, for one of these escalation positions, since they don't think my technical skills are up to the high level they require for a development position. I guess I talked too much about how I want to keep the customer happy during my technical interview. Their idea of keeping the customer happy appears to involve establishing an escalation organization to keep the angry customers away from the development team. They do not appear to have any plans to improve the way the development is done, other than to rewrite the application using the latest Java technology. There seems to be a pervasive belief that if only they were using the latest tools, they wouldn't have angry customers.

Another large company where I already interviewed twice just contacted me for sustaining position on their 30 year old code base, so perhaps that will turn into an interview within the next few days. The variation on the above theme here is that you get to look for horrible mistakes in 30 year old code with no documentation or any clue what you are looking for, other than the fact that there is - wait for it - an angry customer who is paying millions of dollars in annual support fees on the phone screaming at you. In this variation, you are expected to actually fix the code yourself, while on the phone. The good part may be that the pay is actually decent, since you are expected to actually write the code fix as opposed to simply isolate the non-English-speaking support team from the North American-based customer.

I'm sure I can find more things to rant about, but I need another cup of tea and I have to get ready to talk to someone in China about that escalation job tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More thoughts this week

So that interview back in October did not pan out, nor did the one that followed it. But then EMC called, and I will interview after the Thanksgiving holiday. Seems to be some kind of tools or performance analysis group, and some Java involved.

I am trying to do a better job of keeping in touch with a few recruiters in the hope they can get me an interview at places where I do not have my own personal contacts, since I have about tapped out said contacts now. I suppose I should alter a few words in my resume and re-post it, but the only result from that effort last time was a flurry of new emails from various door-to-door career change opportunities.

There really does seem to be some truth to the age discrimination rumblings. I am the oldest person from my former group, and I am one of only two or three (out of about 50) who have not yet found a new position (although a couple of folks took short contracting jobs). I have also been told that I made too much money - no one is likely to offer me a major salary cut because I am likely to seek a higher paying job.

Oh, my former company back-pedaled on the outsourcing and granted "immunity" to the 6 or 7 folks still on the payroll in the U. S. of A. Those folks were due to be phased out in October, but were then granted a 6 month stay of execution, which was followed a month later by a "permanent" status. My conclusion is that the overseas team is completely incompetent, and the customers screamed very loudly as the evidence of that incompetence reached their ears. You'd think after about 10 years of this out-sourcing pressure that such a large and seemingly technically competent organization would have figured out a smoother process for this stuff. Probably this mishap can be attributed to the VP who organized it.

And what the heck was my former employer thinking by buying a one-trick pony of a video camera company right before Apple started shipping iPods and iPhones with video cameras in them...and then they turn around and invest in another tired technology, video conferencing...I guess the money was burning a hole in someone's pocket and the tax advantages of a write-off outweighed the measly interest on the cash....I plan to unload my remaining shares as soon as feasible...

A colleague recently landed a new job right after finishing a Java certification, so now I am motivated to at least get the SCJP (Java programmer) rating. I downloaded the pre-test last week and slogged through the 120 questions. I did not score well enough to pass the real exam, but I was within spitting distance, so I am encouraged that I could perhaps get the SCJP book and study guide, and be ready to pass the exam within a week or two. The alternatives seem to be a multi-boat-buck web class or a full blown boot camp with hotel and meals in Dallas or Orlando (I missed the local class at the beginning of this month, sigh).

The pre-cert test was a depressing mish-mash of questions about how certain pieces of code might fail to compile. I understand that they are trying to teach me some subtle issues about the language, but there has to be a better way than asking me to think like a compiler. Why wouldn't I just look at the compiler errors and fix them? Do they really think that stuff that people type into an editor is supposed to compile and run with no errors?

The SCJD test apparently covers a whole bunch of Swing and other UI technologies, and the Sun web page says that the main part of that certification is to write a real JEE program, which is graded. There is also an exam, and an interview that attempts to determine if you really wrote the program that you submitted. This higher level certification is expected to take a couple of months to complete and another couple of months to be graded.

On to the domestic news:

The oak flooring is installed in the kitchen and it brightens up the kitchen a lot. This brought attention to the sorry state of the radiator, and also the shelving in the pantry. Said shelving turns out to be subflooring with a thin coat of urethane or some such, and badly stained and somewhat warped. Who knew. All shelving is since replaced with solid wood stained dark cherry. Wonder how long it will take the next owners of this house to notice the nice wood. Spousal energy was devoted to cleaning and painting the radiator a shining coat of white.

Here's a couple pictures:

We switched our internet and TV over to Verizon FIOS a couple of weeks ago. The TV really does look brighter but I am suspicious that the tech set the brightness to maximum on the TV when we weren't looking. Now we have about 100 channels, and basically still nothing we want to watch, except the coveted HGTV channel.

The Apple Mail program crashed repeatedly when I attempted to add the new Verizon email account manually. It did let me set it up "automatically" with several warnings that the password would have to be exchanged with the Verizon server in a non-secure manner. So if you all start getting spammed by a Verizon account, it is probably my fault.

We seem to have an infestation of moths in our area, what with the warm-ish weather the past couple of weeks. At least it was easy to get the leaves dealt with this year, since they stayed mostly dry and easy to vacuum up, unlike other years when an ice storm created blocks of leafy ice to pick up.

This may be the first November in many years that we skip the major snowstorm around the Thanksgiving holiday. Can't say we'll miss it.

Just finished reading the newest Terry Pratchett book "Unseen Academicals" in which he examines the nature of big time sports.

Hopefully the next update has some positive job news...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This week's thoughts

The job search drags on. Some recruiters suddenly showed a bit of interest last week. Also got through a screening interview last week and got invited back for a second round, thanks to a former colleague putting in my resume. They gave me a packet of technical questions, three or four mildly interesting SQL problems and a couple of Java programming questions.

Signed up on the Genotrope website last week at the recommendation of another colleague, a lot of startup jobs are posted there. I need to keep pinging the recruiters and target a smaller set of companies, I think.

Just finished coding up a little java application to build a fairly complex relational database and run some interesting queries. Still need to read up on nested (sub) queries and play a little more. Hopefully this will help with the upcoming second round interview. Beyond that, I plan to enhance my Advisor application to do more modern Hibernate annotations and add more user interface elements, as well as Groovy extension points. Got to keep the coding skills honed.

Coded up a little Java solution to another job application, to print out all relationships between two people in a database (the db was to be simulated in a memory array). At least they acknowledged my submission, but no word on an interview. Some of these companies are keeping the job req open for months at a time.

Speaking of which, I just found out that a local startup is still seeking resumes for a position that was posted at least 8 weeks ago. My resume went in through a recruiter, I never heard of the company but the technology (warehouse automation) sounded interesting. The recruiter that submitted me sounded pretty peeved that things were not moving along.

Oh - all this coding is happening on a new 17" MacBookPro. I put Parallels on there and run MySql and JBoss on a Fedora 10 partition. It is really cool to just suspend the partition and resume it when you want to muck with the database or whatever.

Moving along to other pursuits:

The sailboat got moved to the dock for the winter on Tuesday, and hauled out on Wednesday. This is the first year that I plan to do most of the maintenance, and I started right off by winterizing the water systems, painfully. I have the ripped skin to prove it and about five trips to the hardware store for miscellaneous plumbing bits and pieces. There must be a better way to do this - I'm thinking a T-joint with a threaded plug to open up and bypass the system at key points so I don't have to yank the hoses off those barbed connectors and risk my knuckles every time.
Planning to put the cover on it next weekend and perhaps get the batteries off it. Those suckers weigh at least 70 lbs each and will be a bear to get down from the deck to the ground now that the boat is up on stands (the deck is about 12 feet up in the air now).

The kitchen counters got replaced two weeks ago, and we are extremely pleased with the Cambria quartz surface material and the new wood paneling on the strange half-wall behind the sink. The red oak flooring is stacked in the dining room acclimating to the house, and I am targeting starting on that job on Wednesday, after that second round job interview. Yes, I am planning to install the flooring myself, although I have persuaded a former work colleague to supervise my efforts and speed up the job.

I signed up for FaceBook finally, and located several family members and college buddies immediately. The wife is still not convinced that she needs to do this to keep in touch with the younger members of her family.

I ran the leaf mulcher machine for the first time this fall. There weren't a lot of leaves down, but enough to make it worthwhile and alleviate the effort when the next windy day comes along and really dumps those peeping leafs on the grass. Oh, and there was a dead squirrel lurking in the drift of leaves at the back of the yard. Perhaps the animal that has been taking big dumps in the backyard grass got to it. I probably need to run the gas out of the mower tomorrow, I think we are done mowing the lawn for 2009.

Yikes the Angels are falling apart in the bottom of the eighth.

The newish DVD player died last weekend. Ran out to BestBuy and picked up a Samsung Blu-Ray player. Cripes our 27" TV looked tiny when we got home. The store must be filled with 50" flat screen models. The occasion for getting the new player was that we rented Office Space and Take The Money And Run from the local Blockbuster. I liked Outsourced better than Office Space.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Time to replace that broken window

Another slow day on the job search front. Nice lunch at NYAJ's with colleagues. Possibly we will soon all be contractors working for foreign employers? No cat pix today, both of them are snoozing the day away. Good time to try to replace that second floor window, I guess.
Yard waste went to the pit this morning, cross that off the honey-dew list. Should I go sailing on Thursday? Friday? Are we supposed to eat dinner with SeaQuester tomorrow? So many things going on...

Why did this guy tweet me last month? This sounds like a variation on the "driveway sealcoat scam". I can just hear this - "we were in your neighborhood, and we just painted your neighbor's lawn, and while we are on your street we can give you a big discount, today only. All we have is this lovely turquoise color left over, but it will be 1/2 off the price, today only."