Thursday, May 29, 2008

Project Management 101

On May 1st, I started a Project Management class through SAIC. I had to complete all requirements in 42 days and pass the final. Today, Day 29, I finished the course.

So, now I can tell you what a critical path is. I know what a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is and how to create one. I know what the Triple Constraint is and how important it is to balance all three parts of it. I understand the importance of risk analysis, having a quality plan, a procurement plan, and a communication plan. I know formulas for determining if a project is ahead of schedule and under budget OR behind schedule and over budget. I also learned a few tricks for estimating cost, personnel resources, and schedule.

Most importantly, I learned why my current project has been such a challenge to manage. With some of the tools I've learned in the last month, I know I could have been a much more successful project manager. I'm almost looking forward to my next project. Almost.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another Sad Day

“In all their suffering, He also suffered, and He personally rescued them. In His love and mercy, He redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.” Isaiah 63:9

One of my co-workers committed suicide this past weekend. When I was initially informed, I simply could not believe it. I still don’t want to believe it. Apparently he was really depressed lately and drinking heavily because of that. I loved Earle and I didn’t know about either one of those things. Why didn’t I know?

I fight depression and I know how bad things appear when a person is depressed. Actually, that’s probably not true. I just know how *I* feel when I’m depressed. But I guess I can understand a depressed person not seeing any other way out and thinking that death is the only way to find peace. But it never crossed my mind that Earle could ever reach that point. He just seemed so much stronger than that to me.

I don’t know what to do with a suicide. I am so sad at the loss of my friend. I’m still shocked that he took his own life. I’m even a bit angry that he chose such a selfish solution. And I'm frustrated that there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it now. But in time, I’ll get over all of those feelings. It’s his salvation that I worry about most.

What really happens to the souls of those that commit suicide? I just keep reminding myself that we have a loving and merciful God. And who would know Earle’s heart more than God?

Being Catholic, I was always taught that no one is good enough, pure enough, worthy enough to get to heaven from this earthly world. We would all spend time in Purgatory, atoning for our sins and learning what it truly means to praise and worship God. So, when I think of someone who has committed suicide, I pray that they are in Purgatory…sitting on a bench with Jesus. There Jesus reveals to them everyone who has said their name in sorrow or cried a tear, wondering how they could possibly take their own life. And then I imagine Jesus saying to them, “You sit right here and watch over these people who love you, who will miss you. And you pray for them until the last tear is shed and they all find peace. Then we’ll talk, you and Me.”

I don’t know that any of that is true. It’s just the best way I know how to reconcile it in my head

From the Catholic Catechism:


2280: Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281: Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282: If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283: We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

The following was written by my friend. He was supposed to read it at a Memorial Day service yesterday. Since he took his own life Sunday, this was never presented, to the best of my knowledge. So I'm publishing his last words here.

Memorial Day 2008 – Earle Wolfe JR, VFW Post 3321 Judge Advocate

I anticipate that some of the statements that I plan on making today, might not set well with part of the audience, but I sincerely hope that by the time I am done talking, the folks that might not agree with what I have to say at least come away with a broadened perspective. We all know that Memorial Day is about honoring our lost or fallen friends, family, and comrades. Of these, I would like to talk about the ones that I hold the dearest to me – the American Veteran. I would also like to bring mention to the country that these men and women have fought and died for.

I am not here in attempts of convincing anyone that veterans are Gods, the sons of God, or anything of a religious nature, but I am going to try to point out a few similarities between the mission that our American Veterans have been given, and the mission Jesus Christ was given. There are a lot more similarities than one might think.

According to the things that I have been taught about the bible, God put his only son, Jesus Christ on this earth with the mission of living among us, teaching us, and ultimately to die for each and every one of us so that we would not perish, but have eternal life. Just for clarification - this not saying that life, as we know it now will last forever; eternal life refers to the life that comes after the one we are living now. I think that is a pretty widely accepted belief in most forms of Christianity. Did Jesus know what was ahead of him as a baby, or as a small child? I personally don’t know if he did or not, but I was taught that by the time he was an adult, he knowingly willingly and unselfishly gave his own life in order to secure a very good place for us to live. Most people call that place Heaven. Of us that do make it there, we will be subjects to a kind and merciful ruler most people simply call God. What if Jesus wasn’t willing to give his life for us? What is the alternative to eternal life? I was taught that the alternative is eternal damnation - living in a horrible place that is full of pain, suffering, being subjected to inconceivable atrocities, and we would be forced to bow down to an evil ruler most people call Satan. Because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, he is often referred to as “our Savior”, and I was taught that his mission was a success, even if it did cost him his life here on Earth.

Do young boys and girls know at an early age if they were born with the destiny of being a soldier, sailor, or airman? Probably not, but many of them do mature into brave warriors that are willing to fight for the ideals and the people of this great nation. Why do they choose to join the armed services? There are a lot of good reasons - educational benefits, travel opportunities, and experience that they might hope to use later in life are some of the more popular reasons IF these young folks are looking at what the nation can do for them. Some of these young folks might simply want to return the favor to the aging veterans that once did the same for them. That is called having a sense of duty. There are some people that served, that didn’t actually want to fight in wars, or were drafted… All the same, when these people were called upon, they didn’t run or hide - they proudly answered their call to duty.

Before answering the call, they took an oath to defend this country, and it’s ideals with their very lives. It doesn’t matter what branch of the service they were in, or what their specific job was when they were in the service – the oath was the same, and the mission was ultimately the same. When they signed the dotted line to enlist, and raised their right hand as they were sworn in, they swore with their very lives (not in so many words) to be our saviors in this short life that we know now. It really doesn’t matter if all of them actually saw combat or not - by taking the oath of our Armed Services, they acknowledged that loosing their life for their country was a real possibility, and by continuing, they made the statement that they were willing to make that sacrifice if that is what it took.

How many troops do you think knew on December 6th, 1941 that the Japanese were going to bomb Pearl Harbor the following day? September 11th 2001 came as a surprise to most of us to. I doubt that hardly anyone in this country knew what was coming on these or other occasions, but there were troops signed up, and trained for such possibilities.

Unfortunately most of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen - especially those outside of the Chaplain Corps, don’t have much if any control over the life after this one. They do however have some influence over this life. Their mission is to secure a very good place for us here and now in the United States of America – the greatest Nation on Earth. They unselfishly put their life on the line to make sure that we can continue to live under the ideals of what we call the Constitution of the United States - under a President, House, Senate, and local officials that we the people have the power to change any time they don’t lead in the way we want them to. Is the United States Heaven? I wouldn’t go as far to say that it is, but being a former sailor in the United States Navy, I have seen the vast majority of the world, and this place truly is as good as it gets. I haven’t been out of the Navy long enough to forget how good it felt to come home to this country, and I hope that I never do forget that incredible feeling.

Are our leaders always kind, merciful, and just? Maybe not, but you and I do have the right to vote. It is a shame that more people don’t exercise that right. We have even swifter tools at our disposal if and when they are needed – Presidents have been impeached, Senators and Congressmen have been forced out of office, and local officials have been removed in the past, and will surely be in the future. This is proof that the system does work, and it is why the constitution starts off with the words “We the people”. I realize that our government is not perfect, and that it doesn’t always move as dynamically as we would like for it to, but keep in mind the next time you start thinking about how wrong something is within the government, that you and I collectively make up “We the people”, and only WE can change things.

Throughout the history of this nation, our Armed Services have fought to preserve the way of life that we have come to enjoy, and some even take for granted. They have protected us so we could keep the things that we have worked hard for, to prevent us from being subjected from unthinkable atrocities, and to keep us from being taken over by rulers that have been called evil, and even been compared to Satan by people far more educated than I am. What specifically have we been saved from? Have we forgotten about Hitler? What about Saddam Hussein? While these and some of the other leaders we have stood against were not actually Satan, these leaders tortured, experimented on, and even killed their own people. If this were the way I had to live out the rest of my life, I would think that it would seem like Hell on earth. Don’t you?

I am thankful for all of the American veterans that fought for this country before I was old enough to, so that I could grow up in the land of the free, under a reasonable leader. I am proud that I was able to return this favor by serving in the Armed Forces to protect all that have fought before me and for those that have yet to serve their country, so they could enjoy the same quality of life than I have enjoyed.

I sincerely hope that you are able to accept the comparison that I made earlier as rational. Our Service Men and Women may not be able to give us eternal life, but they most certainly have saved us repeatedly in this life, and some are deployed right now doing so. Please remember our fallen comrades today, the prisoners of war, and the missing in action. If you really want to honor these souls, stand up for the things they fought for, and support your local Veterans Organizations like the American Legion and the VFW.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Sad Day

After mass, I went to dinner with my parents and my older brother. My parents mentioned that their cat, Bo, was not doing well at all. In fact, they were going to call the vet to see about having him put down. So, I knew I needed to stop by their house and sit with Bo for awhile.

I did that right after dinner.

As soon as I saw him, I just couldn't believe how still he was. He wasn't blinking. He wasn't talking with his tail. We just sat with him and talked. Mom thinks it was comforting to him just to hear our voices. Hopefully, we helped make his last hours easier.

He stopped breathing shortly after midnight. So, now he's running through the fields with Jesus, Lily Monster Moe with a Long Tail, Peek-a-Durn-Boo Underwoo, and Doc.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indianapolis Will Host Super Bowl XLVI

WooHoo! How exciting is that?! Of course, it would be even better if we were playing in it! One can only hope.

It'll be good for Indianapolis to host the Super Bowl. Lots of tourists. Lots of money coming in to the state. Lots of opportunity. Really good for their economy. I hope they pull it off. Between security and hotel space and building the new practice field, it's going to be a lot of work. The airport will be crazy busy for two whole weeks. Traffic will be a nightmare. Makes me kind of glad I don't live in Indy.

But you know, even thought it would be very cool to say that I went to a Super Bowl, I think I prefer to watch the game on television. I like watching the game from my couch. I love it that there's no line for my bathroom. I like it that I can fix whatever snack I want for a reasonable cost. I like it that I don't have to drive two plus hours away and fight traffic. I like it that I have the best parking space in the place. I love instant replay. I even like it that I can flip channels to the 'other' game during commercials. I just like watching the game from the comfort of my own home.

But if given the opportunity to go, I probably would. ESPECIALLY IF THE COLTS WERE PLAYING!!! But I am NOT one of those people that would pay $1,000 for a ticket on e-Bay.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I've just been too busy...

and too tired... to take the time to write anything significant. By this time of the day, my brain has stopped working. Bummer, huh?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Mothers' Day!

I got to spend Mothers’ Day with my son. Of course, he had to work. So, instead of him coming up to me, I had to go down to him. But that’s okay. I don’t mind the drive. It’s a lot of miles in a 24 hour period. But since my car is my studio, I got some much needed voice practice in.

Once I picked up J from work, we did our usual late night trip to Waffle House. Over ‘breakfast’, we discussed the life and times of J. He’s so funny. I know I was tired and when I’m tired, EVERYTHING is funny. But J was especially so Saturday night/Sunday morning. I laughed so much. I love it when he makes me laugh. But even more, I love to hear him laugh.

Once we got back to the hotel, we played dominoes. I don’t mind saying, I kicked his butt! He says he let me win because it was Mothers’ Day. Long gone are the days when I let him win. Apparently now we’ve come to the days when he lets ME win. Though I assure you, it did NOT happen that way. I kicked his butt!

We didn’t go to bed until close to 4am. Then it took me awhile to get to sleep. Once I slept though, I slept well. But I was definitely not rested enough for my day. During the drive back to God’s Country, I soooooo wanted to sleep. I was home by 8:30, in bed by 9:30, and didn’t wake up this morning until 6:30. I can’t remember the last time I was so darn comfortable in my bed. I could have stayed there all day!

But back to Mothers’ Day. Once we woke up, we didn’t really have plans for the day. I didn’t care what we did; I was just happy to be doing it with the boy. So, he decided where we ate lunch. It was okay, but not my favorite. During lunch, we played this trivia game on the television. Again, I kicked his butt! Then we went to see a movie. Again, he decided what we saw…Iron Man. It was good, but wouldn’t have been my first choice. Then I had to take him to work. (I picked him up from work; I dropped him off at work. The kid works a lot. Almost as much as I do!)

Then I made the trip home. I listened to my CDs REALLY LOUD. The noise, the beat, and singing along helped me stay awake. And even though it was raining, I had my window down about an inch. The cool air and the noise also kept me from falling asleep. But still, it was a struggle. I couldn’t WAIT to be home. I absolutely HATE to drive when I’m tired. Otherwise, I LOVE it. Sunday night, I did NOT love it.

I was so tired and miserable that I couldn’t even reminisce on my enjoyable 16 hours with J. I had to focus too much on keeping my eyes open and my car on the road. It wasn’t until I pulled into my driveway that I started to smile. I truly enjoyed the day with J…but I was THRILLED to be home safely. Happy Mothers’ Day to me!

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Okay, I gave blood today. That's not too big of a deal; I give blood all the time. But today, it hurt like WOW! There's always that pinch when they initially stick me. But today, she had to play with the needle a bit because the blood wasn't flowing. At one point, I even yelled out. I NEVER do that! I'm telling you, it hurt!

Finally she declares victory as blood is flowing from my veins through the clear tubing into the little plastic bag. But I'm still in pain, which I'm guessing she surmised by the look on my face and the fact that half of my body was still stiff as a board and somewhat contorted. She promised me that if I relaxed, I would feel better. So, I did. Well, I tried. It took me a couple of minutes. Even though I felt a little more comfortable, the entire time that needle was in my arm, I felt pain. I've never had that before. She kept checking to see if I was okay. I told her that as long as the blood was flowing, I was okay and that I'd let her know if I couldn't stand it any longer. (Secretly, I was avoiding having to completely start over. That's always my fear when giving blood.) Finally, when she yanked the needle out of my arm, my eyeballs nearly popped out of my head! Holy wow! Let's just say, it's a good thing I was still lying down.

So, she puts a band-aid on my 'wound' and wraps it in purple sticky-stretchy tape and I make my way over to the canteen for some orange juice. By this time, I expect the pain to subside. But no. I'm talking to the Red Cross volunteer about something completely different and I couldn't help but interrupt our conversation to announce that my arm was killing me. I asked her if it was okay that I remove the purple sticky-stretchy tape. I thought maybe the pressure on the 'wound' was causing undue discomfort. So, I removed it and washed the iodine off. This helped some. But not completely.

I went on to finish my orange juice, grab my things, and make my way back to my office. My arm is still bothering me. So, it's at this point that I'm wondering if I am in fact allergic to iodine. You know they ask you that every time you give blood. I always say no. But at this point, what else could it be? There's no longer a foreign metal object in my arm. Blood is no longer being sucked from my body. So, I removed the band-aid the phlebotomist adhered to my arm, removed all evidence of the iodine, and put a new band-aid on my puncture wound. After an hour or so, about 3 1/2 hours before I was supposed to, I removed the band-aid.

My 'wound' is naked now. Completely open to the air and all germs in the area. But it's the best I've felt in a couple hours. To look at it, it looks completely fine. And thankfully now, it feels fine…mostly. Lucky me, I don't have to look forward to that again until July 7th.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Perfect Moment

I couldn’t get to sleep last night. I don’t know why. Sometimes I know why…too much on my mind, not feeling well, too hot or too cold. But none of those things was the culprit last night. I just couldn’t get to sleep. I tossed and turned and rationalized and prayed, but to no avail. So, I got dressed and went out on my front porch.

Wow! What a gift!

I sat on the one chair there that normally serves as just another place where the cat sleeps. I kicked my feet up onto the railing. In no time, Linus Felinus was bounding onto my lap. And we just sat there in silence, enjoying the gift.

It was absolutely gorgeous. And so peaceful. I decided then and there that I LOVE the sounds of gentle winds. The yellow glow of the street lamps reflected on the new green leaves. The lawn looked like rolling velvet, exaggerating every slope. The sky was clear and even with the glow of the lights, I could see the stars. I couldn’t describe the temperature as a number, but it was perfect.

I sat out there with Linus Felinus for a good 30 minutes. We were just listening to the sound of the breeze and watching how it made the leaves dance. Far away, I could hear the soft sound of wind chimes. We just sat there. Not saying a word. It was lovely. A perfect moment.