Yes, we managed to have a considerable amount of hardscaping done in the back yard. As I may have mentioned, we had most of the pine trees taken down and the land more or less leveled a couple of months ago. Then, Mary decided that she wanted to do something with the back yard besides plant grass and have to cut it all the time. (We have about a quarter of an acre behind the house, and I wasn't about to cut that much lawn on a biweekly basis, not in the hot Southern sun. Mom didn't raise a farmer.) She decided that she really wanted a waterfall, and contracted with a guy who knew what he was doing to have one built. It's actually more or less a creek with several rapids built into it, and we have a pump that takes the water from the retaining pool underneath the waterfall at the end to the top and shoots it out up there. Thus, no pond at the end to de-algify (I'll have to check with someone on how to do that, because I'm sure that there will be some buildup. I'm thinking that a cup of bleach every six months should do the trick.), and we have a switch on the deck from which we can turn it off. The guy who built it also built a patio at the waterfall end, a path around the creek, and a patio at the origin. It's kind of hard to describe; eventually I should post some pictures to show what it looks like. Yes, we're crazy, even crazier when you consider that the bulk of the work was done after I knew that I'd be leaving my current job.
Oh, and speaking of which: I received a document that constitutes the interview portion of my exit interview which I've been told to fill out and send to them before my formal exit interview on Friday at 2 PM. I've vacillated between being profane and being direct but professional. I think the latter option will have more of an impact. I see no reason to beat around the bush, nor do I see any advantage to simply venting my spleen. I'm going to have fun writing it, I think.
On the job front, I may have turned up a contract opportunity with a customer that I've worked with a lot in the last year and who really likes my work. They're based on the other side of the country, but I think they'll agree to having me work from home (or from their office in Atlanta that I'm assuming that they have). There are actually two opportunities here, both of which involve converting their data from my soon-to-be ex-company's files to their new ones. There's a training opportunity here as well, and a chance to learn a couple of more popular back-office applications (i.e. ones that have been developed during the years that I've been with my current company and which are seen by my current company as competitors). I've also heard from a number of people who are in the business of placing contractors with customers, and I've built a list of contact people at customers that I've worked with over the years who might be interested in using my services in the future.
I had lunch with an old friend yesterday, a woman who I had worked with and for over a long period of time and who basically found herself on the other side of the door in a situation similar to mine. She has been very successful as a generalist who specializes in software conversions similar to what I'd be doing if this contract comes through. She knows me and knows my work well enough to be able to help me find a direction and to give me a few ideas on things that I should look into, and gave me a few pointers on what it takes to compete out there. We talked for over three hours, just catching up on everything that had been going on with us since the last time we saw each other, which was some time ago.
I've decided that I'll do just about anything that I'm capable of doing for anyone who's willing to pay me for the effort. I'd like to be a training specialist, but if I can find work doing something else, I'll do that. Hey, I'm a really talented guy who's capable of doing a whole heck of a lot of stuff, so I'm not going to say no if it means money in my pocket and an opportunity to learn how to do something else. The days of just doing one thing for a living are over, not just for me but for everyone, and being flexible is part of the requirements. I'm a free agent now.
I once made the statement that the world would be a better place if everyone worked and no one had a job. I've discovered that a job is a form of slavery, and while there's a lot to be said for a regular paycheck, company paid benefits, paid vacation and the status of being employed, it comes at the cost of less personal freedom. I know some of you will denounce what I've just said as nothing more than a lot of libertarian claptrap, fine in theory but ignorant of the plight of the working man, but I'm sticking by it. I would go so far as to say that "having a job" IS the plight of the working man, and that anyone who looks to the government to provide them with any kind of relief from their employer is simply trading one form of slavery for another. I'll develop that idea later, but you get my general drift...
Anyway, on a slightly less contentious note: my two favorite baseball teams, the Chicago White Sox and the Atlanta Braves, played a three game series this weekend, and the White Sox won two out of three. I like series like this; regardless of who wins, I'm happy. I do have to admit to being slightly more happy that the White Sox won. Hey, you can take the boy out of the South Side, but you can't take the South Side out of the boy...