I travel the country on business, sometimes the world. Come see where I've been.
Talk about perks, my job has one of the best ones I can think of! I travel in the course of business, delivering classes for my employer. I am a Senior Training Specialist for Motorola Solutions, and teach classes on a wide variety of subjects centered around 2 way radio communications. I'm qualified to deliver approximately 30 different classes, but about half of those are 'Legacy' classes, and are not in demand anymore. My students are technicians, those who maintain, program, calibrate, and repair large 2-way radio systems. Some of these systems are statewide, and use TCP-IP networking to allow sites to communicate with others. Some are small, traditional type radio sites. The size doesn't matter, in each case the systems must be kept operational at all times, since many of them are Public Safety Systems. So I get to travel, sometimes frequently, 3-4 weeks in a row.... where am I this week?|
This probably won't have daily entries, but I will make entries when I get to go somewhere, and keep an updated list of coming trips. My schedule changes faster than the weather, so don't be too surprised to see me list an upcoming class, only to remark later on that it is cancelled, or delayed. Delays are fine of course, but a later date might mean that someone else gets to go instead of me,,, Well, here we go with this, let's see where it takes us.
|Locale: Bloomington, Illinois
Week of: 9/4/2023
I've spent the week of 9/4 here at home. Well, it's a holiday week, we don't normally deliver classes those weeks, which explains why I get to be home.
It's been a nice week of relaxation for me. I did get some work done, but I worked when I wanted to essentially. I managed to get a Powerpoint slideshow formatted in the fashion I prefer. I didn't change the slide contents at all, I only increased the font size in some areas and arranged the contents to look a bit better when presenting it. We'll see how it goes.
My 'big' project though was purchasing some inexpensive USB drives for one class I deliver. The reason I did this is it's a class I will deliver more than most other classes. I needed larger (32 GB, which is not large by today's standards) to hold the course contents, plus the drive could be no larger than 32 GB (and formatted in either FAT32 or FAT ) for use in class. Those drives will be used to complete one portion of a router hands-on activity. You might ask why don't we have the students bring their own drives to class? There's a simple answer to that. Because they will forget most likely, or will format the drive using NTFS, which will not work. I like to come to a class prepared for everything I can think of. This is one minor thing in my opinion.
I think that's about it for now. Until my next post, be good to those you love, spoil them, and write!
|Locale: Hyattsville, Md
Week of: 8/28/2023
The week of 8/28 found me in Hyattsville, Md, just east of Washington, DC. This class was a bit different from the others I've delivered. I'll explain that in a minute. While I was in Los Angeles though, I received an e-mail from a co-worker who was with this customer. He told us that the hotel he initially stayed at had Bed-Bugs, in his room! Needless to say I changed hotels right then.
This was a difficult class to teach for a couple of reasons. I'm still getting comfortable with the Juniper Router that's in their system. Plus, the students were a bit hand-tied by their IT department. They were unable to add software we use in the class, and could not change the state of their PC Firewall. If there's one thing I 'preach' about before/during every Networking class, is that the IT Department of the Customer must give the Technicians full Administrator rights on their PC so they can complete those small tasks. I realize it's something that all IT Departments are reluctant to do, but they either grant those rights, or accompany the technicians on their field calls. Fortunately, 4-5 of the students brought in their personal PC's allowing them to complete the hands-on activities.
Class done about noon on Friday as usual, now was the time to fly home. Except, my flight from Reagan Airport to O'Hare had been delayed. This would result in me having maybe a 30 minute layover there. Since I'm not near as young as I once was, and am somewhat hampered by my back and left leg 'not cooperating' at times, I knew it would be tough to make that connection. A kind American Airlines employee at the airport changed my flight, so I left about 2 hours earlier than originally scheduled. As it turns out, that didn't really matter because my flight home was delayed two hours Yeah, I could have remained on my original itinerary and still made the flight. Better to be safe than sorry though.
The Silver Diner https://www.silverdiner.com/ The Silver Diner is an excellent diner located in the Woodmore Centre. Their menu is diverse, I ended up enjoying their Old Bay Fried Shrimp appetizer, and their Summer Watermelon & Shrimp Salad. If I were to complain about my dinner/service, it would be that I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and was served a glass of Red Wine. I think there was a lack of communication between the server and bartender, as well as a lack of knowledge on the server's part,.
The Copper Canyon Grill https://ccgrill.com/glenarden/glenarden-menu/ My discussion here will be a bit different, especially since my meal was very good. Let's start by saying I won't dine here when I'm back with this customer the week of 9/25. Why? Because I ordered my meal, and it was delivered in less than five minutes. So why am I upset about such fast service? Ordering an entree and receiving it so quickly tells you that the food is prepared ahead of time, and is not necessarily fresh. My entree was their Rattlesnake Pasta. It should have taken a few minutes to get the Pasta cooked, but apparently it was prepared well ahead of time. Many restaurants do this, it's not a practice I'm a fan of. Yeah, I know, I'm picky. The meal was delivered so quickly that my drink hadn't even arrived yet! Plus, my server couldn't have been more inattentive. She walked past a couple of times, and on one occasion asked if everything was okay. It was, I didn't need anything. Am I being too picky here? Possibly.
The Hook & Reel Cajun Seafood Barl https://hookreel.com/menu/ I dined here Saturday night after arriving at the Reagan National Airport. I love places like this, and enjoyed their Catch-22. Essentially it's a choose 2 seafood boil, with a third choice tossed in. Shrimp, Scallops, and Crawfish made for a tasty seafood boil!
I think that's about it for now. Until my next post, be good to those you love, spoil them, and write!
|Locale: Los Angeles (Montebello/Alhambra actually), California
Week of: 8/21/2023
The week of 8/21 found me back in the Los Angeles area again. The customer this week is the same one that I've delivered seven other classes to already. They scheduled 38 weeks of training this year, which is a phenomenal amount of training! I will complete 'my shift' if you will, in September when I deliver my final session for them.
This class was a bit atypical for this subject, with one small exception that I will discuss in a minute. First though, this class is really two classes. The first one covered our current radio repeater used in Conventional Radio Systems, and everything installed at the site. Yeah, I know this makes a lot of sense to you all, but rather than explain it here I will say that I will answer any questions should anyone want a better/more in-depth explanation. It's funny how I never get asked those questions. I don't blame you, it would still be Greek to you all. The second class covered our small Analog Comparator. A Comparator, or voter does exactly what you might think when you read the word voter. It can be sent multiple received radio signals and determine which signal has the best audio quality. So yeah, it votes the best signal, and then sends that back to the base radios to be repeated. Now what happened to make this week different? First, the customer couldn't provide the necessary equipment for the class, so we had to access the training system in Schaumburg. This made everything more show-n-tell, which is not the best way to deliver a class that covers a technical subject. But, it was all we had to work with. I've done this several times before from sites around the world, so no big deal, right? Right. Unless you get careless, which I did on Thursday. We were going through how to load a configuration to a network switch, and I sent the wrong configuration to the switch I was accessing. This gave the switch a different IP address, which meant I could no longer access it remotely. It would have to be accessed locally so the correct configuration could be loaded. Since I was in Los Angeles and it was in Schaumburg, I needed help. I got it of course, the correct configuration was loaded by a teammate Friday morning. Still.... needless to say, this is not something you want to do in front of students! At the same time, all's well that ends well, and they saw first-hand what you shouldn't do. I stress this in every networking class I teach too.
Next week I will be in Washington DC to deliver a class there. It's a kind of strange month for me really, because in August I had a week off, then delivered a class in Schaumburg. That was followed by a week in Los Angeles and a week in Washington DC. In September I will have a week off (after being in DC), then deliver a class in Schaumburg, followed by delivering classes in LA and DC to the same customer I delivered classes to in August. Same customer, same classes. The only difference is the classes delivered in Schaumburg. A little different in some ways.
I think that's about it for now. Until my next post, be good to those you love, spoil them, and write!
|Locale: Schaumburg, Illinois
Week of: 8/14/2023
The week of 8/14 I was back in my old haunts, Schaumburg, Illinois. I delivered that basic Networking class again, and spent some time seeing old friends. There was one snag in everything, a snag of a personal nature. I forgot to pack my daily medicines, I had to meet my other half one Tuesday after class. Fortunately I can go about a week without taking them, so all was well.
I hate to say this was the same ol' same ol' for this class, but it was. We ran a little behind getting the hands-on exercises done, but they were completed. Sometimes I'm surprised at how long it can take students to do what seems so easy. Then I remember that I've been delivering this class for about 16 years now, it should seem easy! I often think (and know) that I spend too much time talking about subjects in the Powerpoint slides instead of minimizing time on the ones I don't need to focus on. It's all a matter of timing, and knowing the subject matter. The more you know, the more time you spend on subjects. It becomes a matter of knowing what to focus on, and what can be minimized as far as time goes. I'm adjusting, have been adjusting, and will keep it up all the time.
Current schedule, in case you're interested. Any dates after October are subject to change, but I haven't seen many changes recently, only additions. The schedule for 2024 resident classes has been posted. I am scheduled to deliver at least one class every month.
8/21: Los Angeles (currently there)
8/28: Washington DC
9/4: Work from home
9/18: Los Angeles
9/25: Washington DC
10/2: Vacation - Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque!
10/9: Vacation - Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque!
10/16: Marin County, California
10/23: St. John's Newfoundland
10/30: Work from home
11/6: Kent Washington
11/13: St. John's Newfoundland
11/27: Los Angeles
12/4: Ft. Lauderdale
1/1/24: New Years, Work from home
1/15: International Travel
1/22: Frankfurt, Germany
1/29: International Travel
Until my next post, be good to those you love, spoil them, and write!
|Locale: Penn Yan, NY
Week of: 7/31/2023
The week of 7/31 I was in the beautiful town of Penn Yan, New York. I drove to this location because I love road trips, I love seeing the countryside. Plus, Penn Yan is in the finger Lakes Region of NY state, there was bound to be some great scenery. I wasn't disappointed either. There were some beautiful areas to see, my hotel was on the north end of Keuka Lake. Keuka is pronounced Q-Ka, I had to ask that questions. The photo below is from the grounds of the hotel, my room had the same view, but on this morning it was full of raindrops, so being outside was about the only way to snap a photo like this.
This class was a lot different from other classes I've delivered. There were only 2 students, but these two were not technicians. They were what I'd call an end-user. Someone who uses a radio, or supervises a group of people using radios, but do no maintenance on the radios or system themselves. Imagine you have to give a speech, maybe an acceptance speech for receiving an award. You prepare the speech with note cards and such. When you walk on stage though, a sudden gust of wind blows your cards from your hands and there's no hope of retrieving them. That's a bit like this class was for me. I had modified the slideshow and was ready for them, or so i thought. During the first hour I realized that I was not ready to deliver what they wanted, and needed to learn. I have the knowledge to do that for them, but the course materials were nothing close to that. Fortunately we made it all work. When I left they were quite happy with the course materials.
Penn Yan is a very small community, when you enter the town limits, the sign says "Welcome to the Village Of Penn Yan". Yeah, it is thar small. There weren't many restaurant choices there, but I didn't go hungry. As a matter of fact, I gain almost 10 pounds in the last 3 weeks! I am putting myself on a diet, intending to eat a lot less than I normally do, I can't go on like this.
Photo's From Visit:
Next week I will work from home before going to Schaumburg Illinois again. A small difference in this class will be having a new instructor sit in the class. Until next time, be good to those you love, spoil them, and write!
|Locale: Los Angeles, Ca
Week of: 7/24/2023
The week of 7/24 found me in Los Angeles for the third time this year. The customer is the same one I've taught before, so I was able to see students from a previous class. This always makes the class flow smoother because we all knew each other. The one I didn't know was about my age, we got along well.
The class flowed smoothly with only one issue that couldn't be corrected. The week before the class our PM was informed that the system would be under going acceptance testing, and we wouldn't be able to use the spares we were going to use. This meant that everything involving software was show-n-tell. I arranged access to the Conventional System in our training lab located in Schaumburg. We tried letting one of the students use the software, but that's harder than it sounds, and VERY slow. It ended up with me doing all the software programming / demonstration, which as you can imagine is not the best way to teach a technical course. We still made it work. The thing is, I could have done this from home then. Still, not a problem.
I am not a fan of large city's. Thankfully this class, like all the others I've taught to this customer is not in downtown LA, it's out in one of the Eastern Suburbs. Montebello. It was still busy everywhere I went, but things could have been worse. On Friday I decided to be a tourist and visited the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. After that my plan was to return the Rental Car, catch the shuttle bus to the LAX, then the hotel shuttle to the Hilton for the night. Sometimes the best laid plans go awry. The details of what happened is in "Note: I didn't post in [Link To Item #2177903] la...". I will spend the next few weeks allowing the wounds from that mishap to heal.
Crabby's Seafood & More https://digitalmenunow.com/wp-content/uploads/menu-crabbys-2023.pdf I've dined at several Mexican Restaurants in this area. I have to say I think this one is best of them. I intentionally ordered too much so I'd have leftovers for lunch the next day. This worked out well for me, it was as good the next day as it was fresh.
Next week I will be in a small town by the name of Penn Yan, NY. The customer is Yates County, Penn Yan is the county seat. This will be a bit of a challenge too, since the two people attending the class are not technicians. The challenge will be delivering subjects that they need to know. I realize that all my planning & modification of course materials will likely be out the window. It will be a bit like having a prepared speech, only to throw it out once you get on stage. Until next time, be good to those you love, spoil them, and write!
|Locale: Brooklyn, NY
Week of: 7/17/2023
The week of 7/17 found me in Brooklyn, NY for a couple of days. The class I delivered is not one I've delivered that many times. However, I am one of the few people who know this small device well. The customer is one I delivered 4 classes to in 2017. Those classes didn't go all that well, mainly because instead of having other manufacturers deliver a class on their product, it was decided that I could do them all. Oh well....
This class went very well really, though at times it was hard to keep the students focused on the product (something called an MLC 8000). Instead they asked a lot of questions about their system, how the MLC fit into the overall setup, generic topics like that. This afternoon I finally had to tell everyone, and in particular one man (the one who asked the most questions about their system, who also asked questions that had nothing to do with the course material) that the topic was beyond the course requirements, and that the class was on the MLC, not everything else. It could have gone bad at that point, but with a little explanation and a roundabout apology for not including that in the course, it was smoothed over.
I am not a fan of large city's. If I look around and all I can see are tall buildings and the sky, I know I'm where I really don't belong. I prefer smaller cities/towns. I'm not sure why, it's just me being me. Don't get me wrong, I love visiting NYC and it's sdeven boroughs. I just couldn't live here. It's just not for Jim, that's all.
Next week I will be in a small town by the name of Los Angeles. Yes, that LA. The class will be a five day class. I was going to be in Frederick Maryland the following week, but the customer wanted to delay the class since their technicians would not support this equipment until much later. You know the saying, "Use it, or Lose It." Yeah, they would have lost the knowledge gained in the class. The scheduling team contacted another customer who was going to receive a class in November about moving to the now free week, and they accepted the new dates. So instead of being in Frederick Maryland, I will be in Yates County, NY. Until next time, be good to those you love, spoil them, and write!
|Locale: Cheyenne, Wy
Week of: 6/19/2023
The week of 6/19 found me in Cheyenne, Wy for 3 days. I was in Cheyenne about 19 years ago with a different customer and really looked forward to returning. The class this week is one I've delivered many times, but I still needed to know how their system is constructed and how the sites interact. When you deliver a class to a customer with a statewide system like this, the students are from all over the state. Each site is a little different though, and often you are teaching students whose sites operated in different frequency bands. That wasn't an issue in this case, but it's something you have to consider no matter what.
After arriving Monday afternoon, I met the PM for dinner at a local place that is very nice. We dined at Wyoming's Rib & Chop house. He had eaten there many times because as the PM, he is needed to be present at various times. Since I'm writing this entry so late, I don't recall exactly what I had. Here's their menu though for you to review if you like.
I will say one thing though. I love Cajun food, but I could not find it in myself to order any kind of Cajun food in Wyoming! Based on what we each chose to have and it's quality, we might have been okay having some Boudin, or Jambalaya. I just couldn't see having that in Wyoming. In looking over their menu, I'm pretty sure I had their Western Burger. What I remember about it though, is that it was outstanding. One of the best burgers I've had in a while.
I like Cheyenne, it's a very nice town. Then again, I love most places I've visited in the Western US. I prefer the western area of the United States over the East Coast. The main reason is the people! You see this a lot in the smaller cities and towns, on both coasts really. It's just more prevalent in the western area. The people. What about them? They seem to be more in touch with life in general. More earthy? More in tune with nature? Perhaps. Either way, I love the west more. I could live in Cheyenne, but the winters might be a bit too cold for my liking. Life should be so tough, huh.
The weeks of 6 /26 through 7/10 will find me at home. Wow! Three weeks at home, my longest time at home this year. I will deliver an online class the week before and week after 7/4. Looking forward to a relaxing time,. Until next time, be good to those you love, spoil them, and write!
|Locale: Queens, NY
Week of: 6/12/2023
I spent last week in Queens delivering two short classes to the Long Island Railroad. I had an advantage though with these classes. I wrote both of them! And even though I hadn't taught one in 5 years, it went very well. Both classes went very well actually. The trip there was another story.
I've been using a soft sided suitcase the last couple of years. Somehow the outer pocket zipper was broken. It's repairable, but man... Both zipper pulls are gone, one zipper is missing, the other is missing the part that the pull slides into. The same for a smaller outer pocket on that pocket. Additionally, the seam along the zipper is ripped for about 6 inches. I have to wonder what happened during the baggage handling., Then there's the flight home. The flight was delayed 1 hour, then 2, then 3.5, and finally 5. I'm not sure if it was cancelled or not, because American Airlines rebooked me the next morning. Their first booking was laughable, I mean that. It was then that I call American Express Global Travel, and they booked my on United Friday night, reserved a room near O'Hare airport, then on to Peoria Illinois, where a rental waited, and I drove home. However, that damaged bag? Yeah, it was never retagged, and was essentially lost. United is still looking for it, even though I have it. How's that? Well, I looked at the final American Airlines itinerary, and I was to fly Saturday morning to Detroit, then O'Hare, and finally home by 9 pm or so. I figured the bag was on those flights, and it was! I went to the Bloomington Airport to check and see if by chance it was there, and it was. I have no idea which flight it came in on, but it was there. That's all I cared about,
The week of 6 /19 I will be in Cheyenne Wyoming for a class with the Department of Transportation. After that, I get to spend 3 weeks at home! I will deliver an online class the week before and week after 7/4. Looking forward to a relaxing time,. Until next time, be good to those you love, spoil them, and write!
|Locale: Schaumburg, Illinois
Week of: 6/5/2023
I spent last week in Schaumburg delivering what we call a resident class. In this case, it was a class I've delivered for 22 years now. I can deliver it blindfolded and one hand tied behind my back. The class was excellent, the students involved in discussions every day, everything I could hope for in a class like this. It's a class that covers basic RF theory, with 10 different subjects discussed throughout the week. I've tried to get other instructors interested in delivering it, but have had little luck in that regard. It's okay, I like this class, but we need other qualified because I know I won't be around forever.
One of my students was in my GTR class in April, it was nice seeing him again. He did tell me that after that April class, he found out that one of his sisters had a very aggressive form of Cancer. Forgive me, I don't recall what type it was, but for some reason Ovarian Cancer sticks in my mind. When she received the news, she just gave up on life in general, and died just over a month later! I know I've mentioned this before, but something I learned over 40 years ago is, Never Give Up! In this case, it wasn't life and death, I was trying to qualify as a Radiological Controls Shift Supervisor. It was an oral board, and I was doing well. Then came the casualty that everyone gets during their board, and still, I was doing well. Then they threw a twist in the scenario, and I actually said, "Well, since I screwed up the immediate actions and everything after that, I guess you're going to fail me." That was the anchor that sank me. They told me afterwards that the only reason they failed me was that I gave up. That was the only time I've heard that, because I've never given up on anything since then. End rant.
The week of 6 /12 I will be in Queens NY for a second class with the customer I delivered a class to in May. That too should go very well since it's a subject, and device that I've taught for 12-13 years now. Until next time, be good to those you love, spoil them, and write!