Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Keith has left the building

Today was my last day with Penn West. It's been quite a ride, almost 4.5 years. It started with one team building something cool. Then many of them got fired including my boss and her boss, and eventually the guy that fired them.  Eventually that cool project got unplugged and thrown away. I got paid for it, and if they don't want to use it, that's not my problem. Still, that was sad, and it was useful even in the part done state.

I was rescued and joined another team, where we were migrating data and working with an implementation team to set up processes. Interesting and fun in many ways. All of them got fired during the great blood bath a year ago. That was when I spent several weeks nearly alone in a corner of the 5th floor. It was spooky, having the lights come on as I walked in, and then the lights would go out as I settled into work. What just killed me about the whole thing is that if I'd had to pick two people to stay, I wouldn't be one of the people I'd pick. (The other guy's contract was ending in a few weeks so they let him work it out.) I have no idea why they kept me, out of all the other employees and contractors that got the boot.

Then some strangers came into to do some of the jobs of the fired people, and I was sort of part of that team. It was all very much of a word that sounds like firetruck. Lots of good stuff happened, but we weren't really a team. Once again I was the only person doing what I do, providing data and analysis on demand. The word silo comes to mind, though I hope not silage. I produced many complex spreadsheets that baffled my boss, which is a specialty of mine. (Only one has ever been not baffled.)

To say I have mixed feelings is an understatement. This has been a long, long gig by contractor standards. At the moment I'm glad it's over. The last little while has been some pretty tough sledding, adding pipelines to the database in a rough and ready way that hurt my soul. I know for a fact that someone, sometime down the road is going to be wondering what I was smoking while I did this. I did what I was told to do.

On the plus side, I learned a ton of stuff, some of which might prove to be marketable, even in this economic climate. SQL works on any kind of data, not just oil and gas. Some very generous people helped me through some tough spots and I'm not going to forget that.

I know that all contracts end, as do employee gigs, sooner or later. As I've said elsewhere, they usually end at one of two times. When you choose, or when the company chooses. I know which is easier on you. Though as a digression, I watched one of my buddies get a job offer, and on the way in to inform the boss, get the layoff notice.

Penn West chose the ending date here, mainly by not renewing. Given the economy, I wasn't going to pull the plug. After 5 or 6 renewals I can hardly complain.  It was rewarding to see the shock on my team's faces when they were told. They all feel there is work to be done there, and it's work I can do. Maybe they've got a cheaper person coming in. Or maybe it's just not going to get done. I gave them a list.

There were lots of good people there, but it was hard watching so many of them depart over the years. Well, except for a few idiots that only made things harder for the rest of us. Some of us celebrated their departure.

My biggest regrets? The way locations are set up in Maximo is an abomination. An LSD is a unique place, regardless of the equipment on it. By creating different kinds of locations (There are lots of LSD that have 3 or 4 kinds of locations, and one has or had 8) they create difficulties on many fronts. There are other ways to manage this. And serial numbers. I still get heartburn about this. Stripping punctuation from serial numbers is the second stupidest thing I heard the entire time. The first is a tie, between the big layoff a year ago, and learning the exact way Maximo stores some of the data and what that means for querying and loading data. Oh, and serial numbers are now going in with punctuation, though I don't think existing data is being corrected in any organized way. (I know an easy way of doing that, but noooo.)

I was thinking about it today as I was writing my farewell note, and I knew more people there at the the end of my first 6 months, than I know now.  At most of my jobs I've made friends that continue long past our times at that company. I'm still buddies with people I met at Nova in 1993. One person was hired at Penn West essentially on my say so, and it was really good to work with him again.   We're going for beer next week. There are several people I think I'm going to stay in touch with. Who knows, I might end up working with some of them again.

What's next? Vacation. I'm tired, and not just from running my ass off. (Down 3 pounds this month!) I'm looking forward to living like a retired person for a while. September has all sorts of stuff getting booked into it, so afternoon naps might be hard to come by. There are so many festivals and stuff in Calgary this time of year. Plus I'm in a 3 day photography course. An all day Maximo session. Beakerhead. Writing. Photography. Running. I may not get as many afternoon naps as I hope.

Work? Call me if you have an interesting project. But not this month.


  1. Sorry to hear your contract wasn't renewed. It definitely sounds like you need a good break. Enjoy retired life for a bit!

  2. Excited to see what you make of this next chapter


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