February 2003 Archives

A Date in Traffic Court

I had never been to court before, so I did not know what to expect.

Background: car accident in December. In Illinois, one driver nearly always gets a ticket -- had everyone been driving legally there would be no accident, right? I got to be the defendant. License taken by cop. Three choices: plead guilty; plead guilty but opt for traffic school and record stays clean; plead guilty and get a date in court (and risk getting a blot on your record).

I really expected something Dickensian: intimidation and degradation and (in my imagination) a stint on a stinking brig.

Reality is nothing like that: suburban court facility -- remember, this is Cook County, a rich county in a rich country. Yes, it is cold and impersonal, but there are signs giving directions on the roads and there's a parking garage and there's enough room for everyone.

The judge was great. She was relaxed, with the air of a school teacher disappointed at pupils that had not done their homework.

Justice was dispensed, swiftly but it seemed fairly. After a short while the judge called my name (not quite correctly, but then who argues with a judge?), established that no witness to the accident was present and dismissed the case. I (finally!) got my license back. Next time I will definitely pay $75 up front for the privilege of keeping it. You don't realize how much you use it until you can't.

I have to say though, it worked well and (believe it or not) the experience brightened my day.

Some Clearing of the Air

For many days morale at work was at rock bottom. There were the classic symptoms of grief (denial, anger, why-me) and now people are over it. Why? Partly because we are only talking about jobs. (Obviously it's no joke, especially for those with kids and mortgages; however it is nothing like losing a loved one.) Partly because we have talked it to death.

Now there's a new topic: how is the search for a replacement job going? It's heartening when someone gets a phone interview or, as has happened, a real-life, face-to-face interview. It's much more fun to speculate about those and fortunately the lucky people have been generous to share their experiences.

Everybody is having to set expectations, meaning that we cannot expect to get our dream job while things are the way they are. We are probably all going to have to compromise to some extent. On the other hand, there is something exciting about starting afresh, leaving all the old work behind. It's easy to think of the things you won't miss.

In my own case, I've had word that there may be a job for me with my current employer in Ireland. This is just a rumour; I still don't know what is going to happen.

My job is going away...

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We found out last Tuesday, at a meeting called for 7am. The division is ceasing all software development in North America. All the work we are doing currently will be moved to India. We are to train and certify our successors and then be on our way. There's a severance package, but it is contingent on a successful "knowledge transfer" from us to them.

Geo URLs of interest

Geo URL is a way to find web sites by location. You enter the latitude and longitude and it spits out a list of sites that are nearby. I've looked around, using my trusty old paper atlas, the U.S. Census Bureau Gazeteer and an astrological web site[!!] to create a short list of Geo URLs that I might want to check from time to time.

Another New Year

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Along with a few hundred other people I've been moved to a new company as part of an outsourcing deal. Everyone knows that a company outsources to save on cost and that the main cost is usually salaries. People have been talking through any number of scenarios, most of them pessimistic, but nobody really knows what is going to happen.

We were told about this months ago but the move only took effect today. Last night some of us celebrated at a coworker's house. I got to bring along S and others brought their spouses and children. At midnight we raised our glasses in a mock New Year ceremony. I was surprised at how relaxed everyone was and how willing they were to enjoy themselves. Getting to meet family brings us closer together.

It's also the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Sheep, but for us it's the year of our new company.