Friday, July 1, 2016

Tree House #2

Shortly after completing the last one I was contacted about building second tree house. I had so much fun the first time, figured why not. This adventure included more first. Swings, slide and roof similar to
the first tree house, but climbing wall, adjustable monkey bars and a 27 foot bridge were added to the mix. The bridge wasn't originally part of the concept, but design on the fly lead to its creation and it is really cool. Special thanks to Chris, Forrest, Andrew and Justin for the assist on completing another fun project.

Swings under the bridge

Adjustable monkey bars

Climbing wall and slide

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Tree House and More

Original Sketch
A few weeks into my unemployment my brother and sister-in law asked if I would build them a tree house for their kids. I agreed and asked them to start sending me pictures which resulted in a series of screen shots (from Pinterest) being sent in a flowing text string "I like this in this picture". Fortunately my sister-in law is pretty good with a pencil and paper so she put together a sketch.

After a series of discussions which resembled stand-ups we settled on size and budget.

The result was a structure built in 17 days. Actual build time was 10 days. It is connected to 2 trees in the back and supported by 6x6 post in evenly distributed around the structure.

Nerd Facts

  • 4- 6x6x16 post
  • 2- 6x6x8
  • ~ 50- 2x4x12
  • all floor joist are 2x8 on 16 inch centers
  • stairs are 2x10
  • roof is tin (runs from 8 feet at the front to 7.5 feet at the back. 
  • NO nails, over 5,000 screws
  • ~75- 3/8 x 6 or 8 inch lag bolts
  • 3 different deck areas (2 - 12x12 and 1 - 6x12)
  • moveable bench, swing, rope ladder, slide and plenty of eno hooks

Bottom Deck (12x12)
Stairs to second level

Second level (6x12)

Third level (12x12)

Back with swing

Side with rope ladder

It was a fun project. Building the basic structure then continual communication with the "clients" (including the kids) as the details were added. Interestingly enough, though it was built for the kids, seems the adults are enjoying sitting on the upper level as much as anyone.

Concept to Build

Life- Interesting Couple of Months

On April 15, 2016 I was informed my last day (with previous employer) would be May 13th. Unfortunately other members of my team were immediately let go. Interesting how you feel when you have poured a lot of effort into something and then the rug gets yanked. The first few days I reflected on the why, what and how. Then I decided it was time to get busy. I put a resume together for the first time in 16 years, reached out to a number of contacts and let the churn begin. At the same time I realized I had to be busy or things just wouldn't be good.

I was made to work. It is just ingrained in my being. So I started doing what I did before my first job working for the state. Simply put - manual labor. I quickly found out I had softened (and obviously aged) over the years sitting behind a computer. My feet, hands, back, arms, and legs hurt but I slept good and felt great. Manual labor is good for my soul. I have not found full time employment yet, but I have been enjoying what I have been doing.

My brother flips houses so he always has a need for help. I worked for him finishing up a house - hanging doors, laying floors, cleaning the yard, pressure washing and various other polishing touches.

Then I returned to my high school and college days, landscaping.



Buddy called and asked for a play structure to be torn down at a day care. Demolition is always a good release (sledge hammer, chain saw and crow bar). the kids were not happy with me but the structure was removed. First time I have removed poles buried in 4 feet of concrete.

Next was good old construction work. Knocking down cinder block walls and hauling debris to the dumpster. Then I spent a few day removing building a deck followed, which coincided with building a tree house (of sorts) which I will detail in another post.



So though officially unemployed I am some how coming home whipped, dripping in sweat and somehow full-filled.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My step dad was a barber

Why this post? Someone asked how I put my talks together.

Fact: my step dad was a barber for a long time. We used to joke he knew about 15 min (typical hair cut time) on any topic. I am not sure I am a lot different. So when I am asked to speak for 45 minutes, you get three 15 minute presentations or what I actually prefer is two 15 minute presentations and some discussion.

Seems some folks got desperate or they just knew I would say yes. Either way I am going to be giving several keynotes this year and hope to bump into you along the way.

Preparing for a keynote is always a process for me.
1. Curious as to what the planning committee would like for the keynote to accomplish
2. Typically ask if there are any specific points that should be made
3. Ask for additional links or comments prior to the event

The result is typically a slide deck with a bunch of words. I learned a long time ago that preparing too early only allows for my ADD to kick in at which point I tend to change everything. To combat this urge, I usually wait till the plane ride or even the night before to polish the slide deck. I have been known to finalize slide decks the morning of the talk but that has become a bit more risky for a number of reasons. I actually blew one event up, felt bad about it and decided to prep a little earlier than the morning before.

So a bunch of words on slides? I despise a bunch of text on the screen so I typically replace the majority of the text with pictures. Sometimes, the pictures have little or nothing to do with what I am talking about, but I use them as an aid to keep some sort of coherent thought process rolling. This is one of several reasons why my slide decks often look similar, but the message may carry a different tone. I haven’t used notes in a long time. I am not suggesting that is a good thing, I just never seem to be able to get in a groove with a written script.

I believe you have to have fun, tell a compelling story, and find a way to weave in a few good points. If no one falls out of their chair asleep, I claim victory.

I've never really considered myself a good speaker. I have heard some good ones, and am pretty sure I don’t speak like they do. Nonetheless, I am honored to be speaking at the following events and I promise they will get more than they paid for.

2/25 - CLC Speaker: NSGIC Midyear 2/24-2/28
3/19 - Keynote: Maryland GIS Conference
4/16 - Keynote: Nebraska GIS Conference  4/16 - 4/18
9/17 - Keynote: GeCo-West  9/15 - 9/20

Hope our paths cross at one of these events and you can decide I lived up to my promise. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ramblings on Apple Maps

Apologies up front, this is more a stream of thought, as opposed to some well thought out and properly articulated post. There isn’t anything technical about this post. Far smarter folks already have all that figured out.

Been a while since I posted anything, so why post on this? Short answer, I find it interesting on several levels. I have had several friends who are not in the geo field ping me today regarding the ‘new maps’ on their iPhone. I guess everyone on the planet updated last night. Well not everyone, I tend to be a late adaptor.  Side note- It is pretty dang cool that my wife (not a technologist) has updated 3 devices in the past 18 hours without plugging into a laptop or asking me what to do next. --- That is a big win and would be pretty interesting to understand that IT feat.

There has been plenty written on how, what, and why Apple has or hasn’t done. Not to mention how good or bad the new maps are and all of the functionality or data they don’t contain as compared to Google. This post is worth a read I do not personally know the author but do know he is well versed in the geo / location field. I obviously have no idea what Apple is attempting to do with maps or why they choose to get in the game. Marc poses some thoughts that make logical sense.
Since everyone seems to have an opinion--- here is my off the cuff thoughts….

The “experts” say geo (LBS) is (or is going to be) really important. Apple ran the numbers and figured ‘if we can capture x% of that market then we will call it a win.’ Then they looked at their mobile device sells and figured, yup let’s go for it. My poor analogy would be Google deciding to get into the mobile device market. Let’s all admit, that effort didn’t get off to a great start. Will Android devices gain more market share than iDevices? Do they have too?  If they grab just x% of the mobile market they can justify being there. That is a rambling way of getting to - Apple doesn’t have to ‘own’ the whole market to claim financial success. They only have to capture a portion to justify being there. --- Side note, my wife and daughter have both used the Apple Maps (is that the name) today. Neither has run into my office to tell me how bad they are.

A roll out of this magnitude is going to be rough. I don’t think that means you lose. It just means the waters are going to be rough for a while. Way I see it Apple has enough money to give this a try. If it works, they captured part of a market, if it doesn’t they pay someone else to let them use their service. They could probably even go back to Google for enough money. Sure a lot of people will get to write a bunch of stuff about what a ‘failure that was’, but let’s be honest – we will all forget about it within a couple of weeks. So while Apple Maps good, bad or indifferent are what a number of folks are talking about today, I seriously doubt it will stay on most folks minds past 5:00 pm today (nice timing, huh).

I don’t claim to know much so take this next bit with a very small grain of salt.- If I were working in the Apple Maps group I would be watching the stats as I worked on the fixes. Don’t let the blah, blah, blah drive the decisions, and let the numbers drive the direction. Google does this masterfully. Watch the stats over the next 6 months - year to determine if Apple Maps is retaining the x% of the market to justify staying in the market. Then make a decision. I would also offer up Apple should follow a second thing Google is good at, which is failing fast. Maintaining and providing maps is a rabbit whole. After whatever the right amount of time is (I don’t have any idea), if Apple Maps hasn’t captured and retained x% of the market share to justify its existence then it should punt.

So what is x%? Are you kidding me? I have no idea! I figure some really smart person with a whole bunch more letters after their name than I have has run those numbers. I would say it is a safe beat that Apple has plenty of $ to throw at this, they have the talent, so if they have the leadership and management support there is no reason why they can’t succeed. The only question is what does success look like in the eyes of Apple?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Public to Private

Several weeks in the private sector and some general observations to offer. Go here for background, if needed.
These are generalizations so don’t get all worked up.

1. Everyone puts their pants on the same way. Though it may come as a surprise, people are just people. They have families, eat, drink and breathe all the same. Well that one isn't a generalization.

2. If you love your job, you work hard. It doesn't matter who you work for citizens or clients, you work hard. An often stated misconception is people in the private sector work longer hours or harder. I don't believe that is true. People that work hard do so regardless of their industry.

3. Private sector has a better talent pool. This one is nuts. I've had the opportunity to work with very talented people in both positions.  Intelligence or lack of should not be judged based on title, or employer.

4. They can do anything they want. I have heard this on both sides. Public service has the impression ‘private sector has unlimited funds and can do whatever they want too.’  The private impression is ‘public sector has no risk’. Both are wrong, but you all knew that…

5. Private sector is more agile. This one seems to be true on face value. It is much harder to hire an individual in the public sector. That said, I still believe the bigger the ship, the harder it is to turn, regardless of what sector. So may be agility is more closely coupled with an organizations size.

Am I enjoying my new gig? Yes, there are plenty of challenges and I am enjoying digging in and trying to solve problems.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Interesting Day

I truly feel fortunate today. I have known a lot of people that made career changes because they had to do so. Some because they thought the grass was greener, some because they needed more $, a few because of some itch, and others because they lost a job they loved. They rarely seemed happy.

Today I left a place that I truly enjoyed working at. Love seems like an odd word to use, but I am not sure it is too strong. I cut my teeth in that office and having a great boss (I use that word loosely) made it a fun place to work. I don't recall a single time that I dreaded going to work. Seems there had to have been some day that was miserable in the past 11 years, but I don't remember it. So as I left today I nearly cried. Go ahead and laugh... I did...

I also realized that there was nothing or anyone that was forcing me to leave. I was leaving because I was more excited about the new opportunities than I was sad about the current ones. I think that is a unique position to be in and I am thankful.

So today has been interesting, and I have enjoyed it. #goodtimes

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Partly Cloudy / Mostly Sunny

It is a good day when departing one gig is a little sad (you still love it) and starting another gig is really exciting. All at the same time. I am fortunate on both fronts.

Yes it is true after 11 years, I am departing my post at the AGIO. This decision occurred following a number of conversations, reflection and consideration of my priorities; faith, family, fun, and work. I appreciate the opportunity I have had to help develop a sustainable office that brings true value to the citizens of the state of Arkansas.

I will miss the AGIO. This decision did not come easy. Shelby Johnson has served as a boss, friend and colleague for 10 years. His management style has allowed me to do (get away with) a lot of things. My resignation is the result of a great opportunity to work on new challenges. I have been lucky to serve with a great group of people performing a job I enjoy. I wish nothing but the best for the entire AGIO team.

The opportunity to work for a well established company with a rich history will offer new challenges, experiences and opportunities. I am looking forward to joining the Sanborn team and jumping into the 'what's next' phase of this adventure.

Thank you all; for the kind words many of you have expressed via email, text, twitter, voice mail... I apologize for not responding directly to each of you individually.

Hope to catch up with you in one of several locations over the course of the next couple of months.
1.    I will reside in Little Rock, AR (duck hunting)
2.    I will be in Colorado Springs, CO - next week (ping me if you are in the area)
3.    I plan to attend FOSS4G in Denver, CO
4.    I plan to attend NSGIC in Boise, ID

Personal reflection:
* Shelby yelled at me the 3rd day on the job. I might have deserved it.
* Shelby has owned 2 dogs since I have worked here and he truly hated one of them.
* My oldest daughter was 3 months old when I began work at the AGIO. She just started 6th grade.
* More than doubled the size of my family while working at the AGIO.
* Had no experience with government when I started at the AGIO.
* Had the opportunity to work with executives at the highest level of AR government.
* I have owned 2 pairs of boots since I have worked here and nearly cried when I had to retire the first pair.
* I have had the support of a great community of GIS users in the state (AR GIS Users).
* Learned the value of open data.
* Had the opportunity work with numerous county folks on their gis efforts that continue to flourish.
* Have developed a deep appreciation for a virtual community that includes a number of people I would not recognize in a line up but feel like I know.
* Been here 10 years and I packed all my stuff in 2 small boxes. Including #Geoglitterduck
* Lessons Learned; communication trumps everything else, technology is rarely the issue/people usually are, if a technology doesn't support a business process (reevaluate), if you aren't making mistakes you aren't trying hard enough.

Little known fact
Grew up and have lived in the south all of my life. Plan to stay here. Found out a couple of years ago; I get sick if I go over 10,000 feet (yes, even following all the rules). So I had to check to see what altitude Colorado Springs was at.

About Me

Little Rock, Arkansas, United States