The First Signs of my life at Apple

As I approach my 10th chronological and official year with Apple (Sept 2017 and Feb 2018, respectively), I am looking back at what led me here and what the road has been. This is the first post about some of my experiences on this path leading up to next February, when I hope and plan to celebrate that 10th official year. I never take the next day at work or in life for granted, but I’m excited about the next few months.

Identifying a problem

August 8, 2005, I wrote:

Mom had bought a new Dell computer, and despite my warnings, actually paid them $100 for home installation. She said the guy wasn’t there long, and after he left, the sound still wasn’t working. I took me about 20 minutes to fix what he didn’t do right (the sound and he even used the wrong I/O monitor connections), and then spent the rest of the evening installing necessary programs and getting her Outlook set up. It almost disgusts me that so much work has to be put into a new computer to get it up and ready for the individual person. I’m about to go to a CompUSA, so I think I may go by and check out the Macs.

Discovering an old archive

I recently downloaded and logged into SpiderOak, an encrypted backup service I trialed many years ago, to give it an updated look. I thought everything had been deleted from the service when I stopped using it, but I was surprised to see it had about 3GB of data in use. I found the 3GB in the trash file, and the data was recoverable!

I was impressed the service had kept 3GB of data for years in a Trash bin without so much as a login on my part. I downloaded the data to find it was an old version of my Documents folder, complete with a backup archive of my old blog. It has posts from May 2005 through January 2006, covering the separation from my first marriage and subsequent decision to leave law enforcement and my hometown!

Perusing an old blog archive

I spent time today reading through the posts. It has been almost twelve years since that place and time. In my writing I see the sparks of the person I was to become. Early signs of the growth I was to experience in leaving my first career and hometown in search of something different.

In twelve years, I have changed religious beliefs and political parties. I have lived in four different states, including moving across the country to the west coast. I have remarried and had a son with my second wife. I have had a life-altering surgery to correct a heart condition which had not been properly diagnosed at the time. I have built a second career in Information Technology, and I have worked for [what I believe is] the best computer and personal device company in the world for almost the last ten years.

Many things have changed since I was the person writing that blog. Yet, among the differences, I see the foundations which would become the life altering events the last twelve years.

Getting a solution

Before I was in tech, I was a cop. My interest in tech blossomed during that time, and I began learning what I consider now to be the basics. By the time I had written the quote above, I had become the “tech guy” in my family and occasionally at work. 

When I wrote the first quote, I was outlining a problem. I didn’t know that problem would lead me to recommend an iPod to my stepfather early the next year.

January 30, 2006:

Ok, something has been on my mind since my trip to Charlotte last weekend. I set up my stepfather’s new iPod Shuffle 1 gig, basically from scratch. This included downloading and installing iTunes, ripping about 15 of his favorite cds to the computer, and adding them all to the new shuffle. Having not used iTunes since version 1, I figured it would take me a bit to figure it all out and that it would involve reading instructions, directions, or maybe even a call to tech support (those of you that know me KNOW it is an absolute last resort). I was wrong, and that is my problem. It was all so simple and easy to learn. The interface was so intuitive and user friendly. My beloved podcasts are integrated into the program, without a need for a separate program like iPodder that I use with Windows Media Player 10. Transferring files to the new iPod was fast and simple, unlike the complex world of syncing with WMP. Somewhere in the simplicity, I was hooked. I thought of the ease of conversion of my current music library from the unprotected WMA I use now to the AAC format of iTunes. I even came to accept that the files that did not transfer well could easily be purchased through iTunes, having never given myself over to the confusing cacophony of various music stores available through WMP (fear of obsolescence, I guess). Having received an offer from a coworker just last week to purchase my current RCA Lyra, I have found myself perusing the Apple store online, searching and deciding whether to jump on the iPod bandwagon.

I didn’t know that recommendation would lead me to buy one myself, or that it would lead me into an Apple store. I couldn’t have imagined those early trips to an Apple store would influence me to apply to work at one in 2007.

Ending up on the right path

I’ve been asked many times why I left law enforcement and how I ended up in tech. The months of the archive I read today cover the answer I’ve always given: I had a choice between staying where I was and looking for something different. I took the bold choice, the one of a dreamer, the one that didn’t make sense, and it eventually worked out. It wasn’t all roses. It was far from it. Tech wasn’t the first career I tried. Apple wasn’t my first employer.

Before that decision, I was never the risk taker. Making that decision was the single pivotal choice between the life I knew before and the life I have now. It was the first decision that challenged me to think differently than before.

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Level 40 Alex, Level 1 Dad

Level 40 Alex, Level 1 Dad

I just got good at being me.

I’m almost 40 years old. I’ve been through college, a first career, first marriage and divorce, a second career, a second marriage, and a cross country relocation where I’ve planted my flag in the great state of California. I feel like I know myself pretty well.

I know my strengths, I know my weaknesses, and I have no problems expressing either. I have a fairly good idea of the things I don’t know which impact my daily life, and I aggressively acknowledge that there is much in this world I don’t know that I don’t know. If you can follow that, you’re probably on your way to self-actualization yourself.

One of the big things I know I don’t know is how to raise a kid.

Starting back at the beginning.

It’s been a while since I’ve started something new. I started my second career about 10 years ago. I met my wife about 7 years ago. I moved to CA two and a half years ago. In each case, I had started a career before, been married before, and relocated somewhere before. I had a background from which to work.

This is my first time raising a kid from birth. I’ve been a stepfather to teenagers. I’ve had very limited babysitting experience. I’ve never been in the day in, day out of keeping a newborn alive. For the first time in a long time, I’m back at Level 1.

Is there a buff for this?

I’m hoping that all the other experience gained from doing other things helps. I know I’m not going to be jumping right in and be awesome, but I hope that as I encounter the unknown found in dirty diapers and extreme sleep deprivation, I can pull from having to crawl through the other muck of life to get to the promised land of a potty trained child. I hope as we negotiate on what pre-school and schools to send him to, I can draw from the other decisions I’ve made to help guide us.

I’m not going to be a grade A dad right off the bat, but I want to be a great dad, and maybe that will help make the difference.

Letting my day get ahead of me.

I was already off balance.

I had a weird as hell dream last night. My wife is almost 35 weeks along, so we’re preparing for the new baby which is about to change our lives in ways we don’t even realize are possible. Last night I dreamed my wife had the baby, and it was mine, but wasn’t hers. That’s right, I had a fucked up dream that the baby my wife is carrying wasn’t her baby. In the dream, the mother of the aforementioned baby wasn’t anyone I know, but it led to all kinds of turmoil and conflict at the hospital.

Waking up to that bad dream, especially when I rarely have bad dreams, threw off my state of mind this morning. We had planned to get up and get out. Have a pedicure, maybe go shopping. An easy day is all I had to do.

The smallest of cuts.

We went to Starbucks. About once a week for the last month I’ve been getting the new sous vide egg bites. I started keto four weeks ago and they’re an easy somewhat keto-friendly option there. A few days ago I had gone by a Starbucks and had been told they were sold out. Today when I ordered them they said the region was pulling them because their distributor doesn’t have space for them.

This pissed me off way more than it should have. Why should I have given that much of a fuck about it? I shouldn’t – just order something else and move on. Instead I ordered something else and mumbled something about “fucking senseless” under my breath as I walked away. I could have done without that.

A pedicure should have made things better.

My wife wanted to get a pedicure this morning, and she wanted me to come with her. I’ve never had one, so I was game. I wish I had been in a better state of mind, because I think I would have enjoyed it more.

Instead, I was gnashing around the egg bite thing, the dream, and a situation at work in my mind. None of these things were relevant to my immediate life, and I should have gone on not giving them any further mind.

Finally turning things around.

After the pedicure and a quick trip to Ikea (yes, I said quick, so that much was going for us today), I went off on my own in search of a clear head. Finding a book related to my work situation and starting another about simplifying the things that I really care about helped. I’m not going to call out the books by name today, I’ll wait until I’m done reading them to mention, but there is one exercise I did this afternoon I think is helpful.

I write down two lists; a list of things I care about (whether I should or not), and a list of things which I surprisingly don’t care about (which maybe I should). It was a simple free-form exercise to see what I would write down if I were honest with myself. I’m going to sit down to go over it in a few days, but today it was enough to get it out.

I think I’ve had some bleed between the things I really care about and stuff I can really let pass. I’ve gone through simplifications and resets before, and I think with a baby coming it’s a good time to do this again. In a month, there’s going to be a lot of things on that list of things I care about which simply won’t be in the competition anymore, and shouldn’t be.

For today, I’m not on edge anymore. I know there are things for me to clear off my plate, and being upset about stupid egg bites at Starbucks is one of them.