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Archive for November 2009

Offroad Riding in the Wharton Forest

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As some of you might know, I race offroad motorcycles in Enduro races.  In order to get into shape and stay that way, we go riding on Sunday mornings with a group of guys.   Here’s the recap for one of those days.

Started off with Ed, Skins, Mo, Mark and I.  The “no-shows” know who they are.  Ryan started off leading with Skins hot on his tail going down the Uth Trail.  Within the first couple of miles, Skins decided to “tattoo” a tree using the underside of his frame as the writing implement.  Tree survived, bike survived however Skins, more specifically his right thumb, took most of the hit.  Once the stars settled down in his vision we proceeded across Oakshade road and did the upper loop up to and through the smaller mud hole.  Special mention, should I say the pink streamer award, goes to a tie.  Skins, Mark and Ed attempted to take the award after Mo and I went through the mud.  The three of them just starred at the mud looking for a line.  Obviously, when asked where to go, Mo and I just pointed anywhere to try and get them across.  Once the fembots crossed the massive (?) mud hole we finished off that side of the road and went back across Oakshade and headed towards the bridge and out towards the bone trail.

After the bridge, Mo noticed his tire was a little low and bailed.  After we lost him, we headed out to Chews Road and the junk yard and worked the trail back in the opposite direction that we usually do.  We punched around a bit and did some log jumping and such.  No real news in that area.  Worked back to the bone trail and the blown down tree that Sven used his Husky Chainsaw on.  At one of the breaks, I suggested we take the 5 mile trail in as the last bit of conditioning however the screams from the women folk convinced me otherwise (you know who you are).  We looped back to the Uth trail and called it a day after about 40 miles.

At this point, I must defend one of our “fallen” riders.  Mike, aka Manpon, is still recovering from a debilitating arm injury.  Evidently, while “flying solo”, wheels in the air and all that, his hand slipped and aggravated his tendons and/or ligaments.  He is resting comfortably now and hoping to get back on his ride somewhere around Thanksgiving.  No word on if he managed a “happy ending”.

Mark your calendars now – there is a special Thanksgiving ride on Saturday (11/29).  I’ll get the details and forward them to everyone that’s interested.  It will be a few minutes further out towards the Lebanon State Forest area and work it’s way back towards Indian Mills.  I understand there might, just might, be beer at the end should you need that extra little push.

Lastly, if we do need to cluster away from Mo and Ed’s, let’s meet on the sand road by the stump field NOT the gun club.

So, there you have it.

Written by matthewkeane

November 29, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Giving Back

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What started as a day of learning and challenges ends on a happy social note.  It is Saturday and after a long day online I had to write this story so hang with me.

Many of us are under pressure to find and/or keep our jobs these days so it can become all about us.  This is a story about helping others, about giving back, about mentoring the next generation of leaders.

In my professional life I have met many amazing people.  Some you think you will only work with and never see or speak to again.  This does not have to be true if you care and want to give back.

My story starts with my first trip to India in 2003.  I was traveling there on behalf of my company at the time (Elsevier.com).  We (Rick Komyanek and I) were going there to evaluate several vendors and would be meeting up with several co-workers the next evening.  We arrived on Saturday night to get settled in after coming from the states.  We actually arrived about 1:00am on Saturday night (Sunday morning) and were scheduled to be picked up at 7:00am for a day trip to the Taj Mahal.  After getting a few hours of sleep we went down to the front desk to meet our “escorts” for the day.  It was there I ran into Rajat Pandit (rajatpandit.com) from HCL (HCL.in).  Honestly, I did not think twice about Rajat at the time.  He did a wonderful job getting us to the Taj and back so we had a great day.  He helped us get from New Delhi to Agra and back which is quite a long day.  Rick and I told him our observations as we navigated the roads between the two cities.  We all laughed about the cultural “differences” between what we were used to and what is normal in India.  I honestly thought that was the last time I would see or hear from Rajat.

As we progressed with our negotiations with HCL and eventually started to build up their team and transfer work to them, Rajat was assigned to our account in London.  I was pleased to see a familiar face and glad that he quickly became part of the overall team in London.  Through my periodic site visits I always tried to see Rajat because of the energy and enthusiasm he brought to work each day.  This relationship lasted for several years until both he and I decided to part with our respective companies and seek greener pastures.  Although we parted on good terms, the distance between us seemed like a huge obstacle (he being in London while I was based in the States).

Enter the advent of Social Media sites such as Facebook (www.facebook.com) and Twitter (www.twitter.com).  As I jumped into these new sites, I started to build out my circle of friends and followers working my way through contacts I made over the years.  I was lucky to find Rajat out on Facebook and started to chat with him here and there.  This went on for a few years and was a nice way to “chat” but nothing really became of it (from my perspective).  Rajat moved onto Yahoo and a couple of other leading technology companies and continued to hone his technical skills.  Here is where the story gets interesting (or at least to the point of he post).   As I stated above, Rajat is a very sharp programmer / architect.  As such, he was helping this former engineer (moi) overcome some learning hurdles with some of the newer internet technologies.  Always willing and helpful, he would walk me through this and that with a smile on his face (and in his voice).  I was happy for the help and he seemed more than eager to offer it.  All was good.

Today, Rajat asked me for some career advice.  I was honored for him to ask me because you never know where someone is that appreciates your experience and consul.  We share a similar background albeit separated by a few years (his just a few years my junior).  We both come from the technical ranks and eventually face decisions as to where to go in your future career progressions.  Rajat asked how I made the transition from a Systems Engineer to being a leader in IT an organization.  As I stated above, I was honored to offer him my advice on what it takes to be a leader, both in general and in an IT organization. In addition I was happy to relay the specifics on how I moved from being seen as a programmer to being thought of as a leader.

Leadership is about a vision, it’s about a story of where you’ve been, where you are and where you should be going.  It’s about selling the vision of the future, a better place for all the right reasons.  Leadership is about confidence, an understanding of the business/technical issues and how your vision will bridge them to the other side.  It’s about leading from the front, rolling up your sleeves and showing/doing what it takes to implement tactical and strategic change.  It’s about taking calculated risks and delivering the rewards from them.  It’s about inspiring others to stretch to the next level, to grow, to be challenged, to be scared and to overcome.

I’m glad I had the time today to start on this journey.  I did not expect to end up here however am very glad I did.  I took the time and hope it pays off in spades for Rajat (blog.rajatpandit.com).  Have a great journey my friend.

Written by matthewkeane

November 22, 2009 at 12:51 am

Nascar – 2009

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Tomorrow ends the 2009 season and the 6th year that the Race for the Chase rules have applied.

The 2009 Champion?

I still have mixed thoughts on this setup to this day.  The purpose of the Race for the Chase has been to tighten the championship point structure down so many more drivers are in the running.  I’m not sure it is working as designed because as it stands now, Jimmy Johnson is just about a shoe-in to win his 4th championship (consecutively as well).  Can it be that the combination of Jimmy Johnson and Chad Knaus is so strong that even teammates like Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin are long shots tomorrow?   Forget about Junior – his head is NOT in racing anymore and I doubt he will be back at Hendricks next year.  I am searching the web now for comparison statistics on how Jimmy would have fared without these rules and will update this post once I find them.

http://www.nascar.com/drivers/dps/jjohnson00/cup/index.html

Written by matthewkeane

November 21, 2009 at 9:56 pm

My journey to Social Media Enlightenment

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Like many of you, I too, am working my way through this new rich playground called Social Media.  This quest allows me to combine my love of technology and my passion for always learning new things by applying them to situations in my life.  So here I am.  What have I done to date?  I have the required accounts at:

www.twitter.com

www.linkedin.com

www.facebook.com

I have spent many hours to build these out to reflect my experience, skills, personality, etc and have acquired quite a few friends and/or followers however still do not feel like it’s all coming together hence why I started this blog.  Over the past few weeks, I have started a new project for a non-profit that I donate my time to with the expressed purpose to drive their membership up using Social Media.  For now, the name of this non-profit is not important.  What is important is how to harness the power of social media to achieve the goals that you set out to do.  Being a technology professional I quickly realized that I needed help so I started to surf the web to find those more knowledgeable in this area.  I quickly found several people that I’d like to recommend to you.  The first is Jeff Bullas who hails from down under (Sydney):

twitter.com/jeffbullas

jeffbullas.com/

This guy is a Social Media ANIMAL!!!  Check out his twitter page and also his blog.  You will spend hours here learning new tips and tricks.  I’ve been following and reading him for the past few weeks!!!  I’ve also found some local people that are much more advanced than I on their Social Media Scale such as:

twitter.com/aaron116

livefromnj.com/

Between the two of these guys, you will greatly increase your Social Media knowledge.  I know I have.

Written by matthewkeane

November 21, 2009 at 9:34 pm