Pictures from the good ol’ days

My friends from childhood will know my dad. He was likely their high school principal (he was mine too) in a very small town (of about 2500 people on a good day). Those who knew our school may have seen the inside of his office; some were there because they stopped in for a nice visit, others were directed there by upset teachers. In either case, seeing the wall in his office was somewhat overwhelming. At peak, he had 70+ 8×10 photos framed and hanging on his wall. The pictures were of various sports teams and graduating classes from his tenure as principal.

I found those pictures in some old boxes recently. Almost 100% of them were taken by one of our high school math teachers, Jim Mikeworth, who was also a local photographer. Mr. Mike said he was fine with me posting the pictures, so I scanned all of them in and posted them online. If you have a facebook account, you may have already seen them, but if not, they are still accessible without a facebook account. You can find the pictures at https://www.facebook.com/franknorriswall. I hope you enjoy them!

My dad died almost 20 years ago and arguably was one of the most loved men in the history of Villa Grove. He would love for everyone to enjoy this shrine to his office wall of pictures–he was very proud of all the kids that passed through VGHS during his time there (1978-1993, I think).

Movember 2012: The ‘stache returns!

In 2011, I joined many others in the Movember event for the first time. This is a fund-raising effort where participants grow a mustache for the month of November and collect donations to support men’s health, specifically prostate and testicular cancers. Individuals can participate on their own or as a team, but no matter what you donate, it all goes to the same place. In my first year, I managed to collect $754 from 15 donors! Hopefully, I’ll exceed my previous year’s fundraising this year…just not sure what mustache style will bring in the most money yet?!

To see photo updates of how my ‘stache is coming along and to make donations, go to my page on Movember. Thanks for any donation you can make!

New job, lots of exciting stuff

It’s been a week since I started my new job at Oracle Corporation. I’m a remote worker which means that the first day of work wasn’t the usual event since I just went to my home office and got on a concall with my new manager. After getting connectivity and accounts set up properly, I was able to pretty quickly work through the new hire checklist of forms and mandatory training.

My new Oracle-provided laptop arrived around mid-week and I realized that, at least for now, I’ll have to revert back to using the Windows-based laptop and (hopefully temporarily) put my MacBook Pro on the shelf. Actually, my wife is very excited since she’ll get the MBP to use now and we’ll do the usual “trickle down” to the kids so that the oldest computer in the “fleet” will get ditched. Continue reading “New job, lots of exciting stuff”

Oracle’s latest acquisition: Me

I’m definitely the type of person that gets excited by new opportunities and always loves a new challenge. Without challenge, I get bored quickly and boredom makes me a little crazy.

So, this new opportunity came along a little while ago and I thought it sounded just perfect for me. Many of you that know me will recall that I’ve had trouble finding the right company that fits with all aspects of my personality, goals, and philosophy which has led me to “try” a few of them in the past several years. I don’t regret the choices I’ve made and I’ve learned an awful lot from each of my employers. Most importantly, I’ve created new relationships at each of my past companies that I still maintain today.

In looking at all the past experiences, I’ve concluded that I am ready for a change in direction. Things I enjoy:
Oracle products
People (customers and Oracle employees) that work with Oracle software
RAC
High Availability
Large, complex environments
Servers, OS, and storage infrastructures
Working with lots of new people, especially creating, managing, and growing new relationships
Presenting my knowledge to others, both one-on-one and to groups (and conference events that surround such gatherings)
A little bit of travel (which helps support my love of…)
Scuba diving

So, when an opportunity came along to get paid to do something that combines almost all of the things I enjoy (except scuba), I couldn’t pass it up. Starting on May 18, 2009, I will be the newest member of the new group at Oracle that’s known as the “X-Team”. This team is responsible for working with customers and prospective customers of the Oracle Exadata and HP Oracle Database Machine products to help them adopt these new technologies. The group is a part of the Maximum Availability Architecture group at Oracle that authors many of the best practices whitepapers and presentations you have likely seen online. For those at Oracle that know what this means, the group is a part of the Server Technology development organization under Juan Loaiza.

For those of you that have been my past consulting customers, first of all, Thank You. I’m no longer consulting and while I won’t be able to provide an “Oracle-sanctioned” recommendation to other consultants that may be able to help, I do have a large network of friends and one of them can likely help you. Please never hesitate to keep in touch!

On a logistical note, I’m not moving and will hopefully continue to be involved with local events in Chicagoland. However, I will be traveling part of the time to visit customers and other Oracle facilities, so keep an eye on my twitter feed, Britekite location, and Tripit plans and let me know if there’s a chance to have a meeting IRL.

Finally, this decision to join Oracle means that I’ll be sacrificing several things. First and probably most near and dear to me is the RAC SIG. In September 2008, I took over as the RAC SIG President. The RAC SIG is as strong as ever and there are a good group of volunteers involved in leading the group as it continues to grow and evolve. I’ll always be a member of the RAC SIG and will continue to watch it closely and volunteer when and where I can. The RAC SIG is associated with the IOUG, the Independent Oracle User Group, and Oracle employees shouldn’t be too involved in “independent” groups. So, this year, the RAC SIG will once again elect a new president. I will remain president until Oracle Open World in October 2009 in order to provide continuity to the group’s leadership and ensure a smooth transition. You can nominate yourself for a RAC SIG office soon via our website nomination form (nominations will be open soon and stay open until July 31, 2009).

I’m also going to relinquish my appointment as an Oracle ACE Director. While I think I’ll still be considered an Oracle Employee ACE, I’ll remember fondly the fame that Oracle Technology Network affords the Oracle ACE program and the individuals that are given the honor. Thanks to Justin, Vikki, Lillian, Todd, and the others at Oracle for allowing me to be a part of that program. I’ll certainly miss the perks!

That’s about it for now, I’m off to the new job and will once again begin learning. Luckily, I’m apparently the only person named Dan Norris at Oracle (last someone checked for me), so you can contact me at dan.norris@oracle.com in a couple weeks.

Diving in Iceland, June 2009

It seems to everyone that I travel a lot. I guess I do compared to most people, but I enjoy traveling, seeing new places, new people, and old friends about as much as I enjoy anything. It’s usually part of my job anyway. So, with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit a place I’ve never been and may not have much reason or opportunity to visit again plus do some scuba diving, I couldn’t pass it up.

That’s right, in June 2009, I will visit Iceland and willfully plunge into the +2 C water that is the clearest body of water in the world. The reasons it is so clear have something to do with the fact that the water is the runoff from melting glaciers, filtered by volcanic rocks, and is very, very cold. It supports no wildlife (another reason it’s so clear/clean). Rumor has it that visibility is over 300 feet–that is something I really do have to see to believe.

The trip is being arranged by my friend Mogens Nørgaard who may very well be completely crazy. If you ever get a chance to meet and engage in conversation with him (a.k.a. “Moans Nogood”), do it. You won’t regret it, guaranteed.

The trip is highlighted on DIVE.is, Iceland’s (probably only) dive shop website. Oh, I forgot to mention that the lake bottom is where two tectonic plates (the North American and Eurasian plates, to be precise) meet up (!), so you’re essentially diving on or in one of the continental divides.

Of course, I’m very excited about this trip and hope that Ice, land can continue to function as their economic issues seem to be a little worse than everyone else’s. In the small world department, I have made contact with an Iceland native that I worked with back at Tandem (acquired by Compaq -> HP) in the late 90s. Hopefully, I can meet up with Leifur while I’m in the country. There are only about 300,000 people in the whole country, so he shouldn’t be *that* hard to find. On the other hand, it is possible that Leifur is like “John” is in the US. We’ll see.

I am not Dan Norris

I’m not sure why it has taken this long, but I recently started getting about one email per week that was intended for a well-named member of the UK’s Parliament: Dan Norris. After communicating with Mr. Norris’ office, I found that we both found one another via Google Alerts that we’ve apparently both set up to notify us when Google finds our name somewhere on the intertubes.

The person that responded to my email was a staff member from Mr. Norris’ office who acknowledged that while they hadn’t received any emails intended for me, they were aware of my website and domain name registrations.

So, for clarification, Dan Norris is (also) the name of a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons in the UK. I am not him. In fact, I haven’t even been to the UK (yet) and have no interest in becoming a politician. Mr. Norris’ office offered that when I do finally make it to the UK, Mr. Norris would be willing to meet with me, so that’s exciting and something I’ll look forward to.

If you should wish to contact Dan Norris MP in the UK, he’s got a lot of contact options posted on his contact page. I find it very interesting that he offers a number to send him text messages–another (of the many) refreshing change from politicians in the US.

I’m still not exactly sure what surgeries are, but I can only presume that they’re something like office hours and there are no doctors involved.

Best of luck to Mr. Norris and his staff. While I haven’t made a habit of reading the emails that come to me, I read enough to determine that it isn’t intended for me and based on that sampling, I’m glad that I don’t have his job!

PADI Rescue Diver, check

This past weekend, I was diving again at Haigh Quarry in the 50-57 degree (F) water to complete the dives for the PADI Rescue Diver certification. The dives were great and I continue to learn a lot from some good teachers and buddies too. I completed the dives and demonstrated the skills successfully, so I’m officially a Rescue Diver now. If you’re not familiar with PADI‘s certifications, the Rescue Diver certification is intended to teach you the skills necessary to assist another diver that’s having trouble or has stopped breathing. As part of the certification, we practice:

  • Searching for and bringing an unresponsive diver to the surface if they’re found on the bottom (you can’t safely just hit the “up button” and have them rocket to the surface)
  • Safely assisting a panicked diver (newer divers are especially prone to freaking out the first time they lose their regulator underwater or see a big animal)
  • Assisting an unresponsive diver on the surface, including providing rescue breaths for a diver that isn’t breathing

There are safe techniques for all these scenarios and safety of all parties is stressed in the course at every step of the way. Continue reading “PADI Rescue Diver, check”

I’m an Advanced Diver

I think I caught the scuba diving bug because after I got the initial certification, I’ve been working to figure out how I can get more certifications and more diving into my schedule! I cautiously signed up to do my PADI Advanced Open Water certification dives on October 6-7 fearing that it may be very cold by then. However, as those in Chicagoland can attest, the temperatures hit 85+ degrees each of the two days. The water wasn’t as cold as I thought–about 70 degrees at the surface.

For Advanced Open Water certification, you have to do five dives. The first three are mandatory for everyone: Underwater Navigation, Deep, and Night. Then, you pick two more from a list of 5-7 (can’t remember exactly) others. My two electives were: Peak Performance Buoyancy and Wreck Diving. Of the five dives, my favorite was the Deep Dive. It was in a place in Haigh Quarry referred to as “the hole”. It’s a relatively small place in the back of the quarry (read: long surface swim) that goes down to a platform at 80 feet. As expected, the water got quite cold at depth and the usual cloudiness in the water made it pretty dim down there as well. Those carrying computers reported that the water temperature at 80 feet was 49 degrees. We stayed there for a few minutes and did a few games to test ourselves for nitrogen narcosis, a common condition at deeper depths. I wasn’t experiencing any signs during my test–not sure about the others.

I managed to convince my wife to let me go on a dive trip with a dive buddy (that I’ve known since grade school). We go to Cozumel on December 14th–less than 2 months away!

Congratulations to all my dive buddies in the Advanced OW class–we all passed. Thanks also to Eunice Z (our esteemed dive mistress and instructor) as well as Divemaster Ted who was great at getting us all down to the cold depths.

I’m a diver

In a departure from the usual technical grind, I spent this past weekend scuba diving in a local quarry (Haigh Quarry, to be precise) and obtained my PADI Open Water certification! It was a great weekend to be in the water (though the water was murky…about 5-10 ft vis in most places). My classmates were great too and we had fun playing catch with the bowling balls scattered around the bottom. Eunice is an awesome instructor–be sure to request her when you sign up at Below H2O.

I logged 6 dives (two as a full-fledged OW diver) and did the first of my 5 required dives for PADI Advanced Open Water certification. I’m hoping to finish the others either next month or next spring if next month gets too cold.

So, since I’m the only diver in my family, if anyone in Chicagoland is looking for a dive buddy, let me know as I’ll be looking on a regular basis.