Womack Report

January 18, 2012

Learned something new today

Filed under: General,Work — Phillip Womack @ 10:01 pm

Ginger Smith called me.  I helped set up a domain server for her and the Mission Centers of Houston a while back. 

Now, just recently, all the users passwords expired.  None of them had changed them, ever.  And worse, the administrator password expired.

So, I spent my evening breaking into a domain controller, so that I could change the domain administrator password and unlock the account.

It takes some time to do, but if you have physical access to the machine, it’s not as hard as you might fear.  There are some useful tips floating around on the internet, too.

January 16, 2012

Lori Jones died.

Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 11:23 pm

Happened a few days ago; funeral was today.

She was a great friend of the family, and a great human being.  Used to work with Dad at Graceview Baptist Church.  I was a little kid, then.  Cancer got her; all of the staff from back then have had some form of cancer, except Dad.  I’m told it was benzene contaminating the water in the area.

Lori was fun.  When she first started doing chemo, and lost her hair, she went out and bought wigs in all sorts of different hairstyles and colors so that she could look like whatever she wanted any day.  She showed them off to people.

She fought the cancer for 17 years.  She had a good run.  Helped a lot of people.  Take care of her, God.

January 9, 2012

Harvard process done

Filed under: Notes,School — Phillip Womack @ 11:25 pm

Tonight, I hit submit on the Harvard application.  All the essays are in, all the scores are entered, and now it’s just a matter of waiting to hear back.

James has his stuff submitted now, too.  We’ve done all we can do for this moment.

I feel good about it.

January 7, 2012


Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 10:16 am

Picked up a few inches of snow last night, and still coming down.  That’ll help the skiing.

Got some more work done on my essays last night.  It’s going faster now, but I still need to keep cranking on them.  Deadline approaching.

January 6, 2012

Skiing going well

Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 11:02 pm

Arrived at condo late last night.  Very late.  Had to drive from Denver to Steamboat Springs, which isn’t the shortest trip I’ve ever done, and we didn’t really get started until about 11:00 local time.  I was very tired.

Got in a half day of skiing today.  Somewhat less than a half day, really, because my feet started hurting after three or four runs, and I decided to call it an afternoon.  I think I’ve fixed my boots so that won’t happen again.  Not upset about that, honestly; it’s probably smarter to ease into it than to ski until I keel over.  I still have three more days to go, after all.  Better to pace myself.

I’m in terrible shape, though.  Feet started hurting, hips started hurting.  Everything was easier ten years ago.

There’s some kind of music festival in town right now, direct from Texas.  So, after I packed up the ski equipment for the afternoon, I stood around and listened to a band that was playing.  Can’t remember the band’s name.  They introduced themselves as a few names and”Gingerbread” once, and as something with a river at the end.  Maybe some reference to the night, also.  It was cold outside.  They had some fun songs, though.

January 5, 2012

Vindication! Or not.

Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 7:40 pm

Things are looking up.  See two posts ago, when I was disgruntled because, despite many things going wrong, I had no one to rationally be grumpy at.

Now, however, errors have been made.  Inconvenience has been experienced.  Yes, I went to check in to my flight at Southwest, and they couldn’t find my reservation.  Not terribly shocking, since I was squirreling around with the flight multiple times the day before.  I went to the full service desk for help.

Come to find out, the reason I couldn’t find my flight reservation was that it was scheduled for the 4th, yesterday, instead of the 5th, today.  The second guy who changed my flight information back, and who was having trouble with the computers, booked me on the same flight plan I had originally had, but a day earlier.  I didn’t catch the change, because all the flight numbers are the same.

Finally, righteous indignation!  Someone messed up, who is not me, and I can have a villain for this piece.

The woman working the check-in desk straightened it all out for me in about five minutes, and based on casual eavesdropping, was staying past her shift end to do so.  And was very polite about the whole thing.  I made it on the plane I’d thought I was supposed to be on originally.  All in all, it wasn’t even that inconvenient.

And I had enough contingency time to cover the difference, so I was still through security early.  Chalk another victory to conservative scheduling.  Rats.

GMAT results

Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 4:02 pm

Following up on the last post, I DID take the GMAT today, and have my results back.

Initial score:  660.

That puts me in the 81st percentile overall.  Not bad, but not nearly as good as I had hoped.  I’m annoyed with myself because I should have done better.  I basically went on a bloody rampage across the verbal section, but the quantitative/math part was unkind to me.

Verbal score put me in the 99th percentile of test takers.  Quantitative score put me in the 35th percentile.  Ouch.

I clearly should have practiced that part a lot more.  For one thing, I took too long finishing.  Ran out of time with five or six questions not answered, which is a really big hit to the score when you only have forty-ish questions in the first place, and unanswered questions hurt worse than wrong answers.  That’s not even being bad at math, that’s just terrible test-taking strategy.  It’s been too long since I’ve played the game, and it’s showing.

As mentioned, the verbal section was no problem.  It was actually suspiciously easy, enough to worry me towards the end.  I finished the verbal section with half an hour left on the clock, and it never seemed tough.  But that sort of thing has always been up my alley.

We’ll see how it affects my application.  I sort of wish I’d elected to not submit the scores and take the test again, but that way lies madness.  I’d have to let the application date slip to the third round, which seems like a mistake, and I’d lose all my momentum in general, which is deadly to me in particular.  Once you settle on a plan, you have to commit to it.  I’ve committed, and I’m not going to start chasing my tail now.

Error margin

Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 3:52 pm

This has ended up being a very frustrating week.

I had two unusual tasks for the week.  First, I’ve had a ski trip planned for a couple months now, leaving tonight, getting back next Thursday.  Promises to be a good time.  Peter and Erin did most of the organizing.

My plane actually leaves tonight at 5:30.  I took the whole day off, just so that I wouldn’t have to get in a hurry and could spend the day running errands.

Then, I got serious about Harvard thing.  Needed to fit the GMAT test in.  Went looking for test centers to register, and Eureka! there’s an appointment open near me on the 5th, the day I’d already taken off work!  This was about a month ago.  All worked out pretty cleverly.

This makes for a busy day, mind you.  Four hours of testing in the morning, then three hours of airplane travel, then a few more hours of driving from Denver to Steamboat.  Going to be packed, but, hey, nothing I can’t handle.

Monday this week, T minus three days from leaving, I help Dad reshuffle a few things in his garage.  Picking up a sheet of plywood, my right wrist make this little twang sensation.  Whoops.  Trick wrist acting up again!  Stupidly, I then went shooting with Mom, since she has a new gun, and that aggravated it.  Then, since it still felt fine, I mowed my lawn.  That probably didn’t help.  By the evening, the wrist hurt a lot.  Only when I moved it, granted.  Fortunately, you don’t use your wrist at all working an IT job, or taking a computer-based test, or skiing!  I’ve purchased a wrist brace now.

Then, we got a sudden call that Grandpa was in the hospital.  He had an infection in his elbow that looked scary.  So, went to visit him.  He’s fine; any medical issue is alarming when you’re dealing with an 80-year-old who’s had multiple heart attacks, but they put him on an antibiotic IV, and he responded just fine.

Tuesday was not too bad.  Some issues at work; boss’s laptop is being weird, but I’ve got it fixed.  Wrist was bothering me, but the brace helped enormously, and it improved hugely overnight.  Spend a few hours that night working remotely to update servers and make sure everything’s OK, since I’m going to be out of town for almost a week.

Wednesday is going to be a day for packing and working on the last bits of my application.  Easy living.  Except, right at 4:15 or so, I get a call.  It’s the GMAT testing center.  A transformer blew up, and they can’t administer the test Thursday.  When would I like to reschedule?

This is a problem, of course, since I have a deadline to take that test of January 10 for Harvard’s admissions, and I’ll be flying out to the mountains from the 5th to 10th.  No other testing center in Houston has anything available the 5th.  Some digging produces a center in Austin that has an available slot, and my flight to Denver stops in Austin!  Score!  I reshuffle flights to meet the plane in Austin, and call the testing people to get on the schedule. 

Sorry, in the ten minutes since you last looked, that appointment was taken.

There’s another appointment available, in Beaumont, at 9:00 AM.  Beaumont, Texas is not remotely near either the place I was at, or the place I wanted to be.  But it’s only a two-hour drive from Houston.  Hour and a half with a tail wind.  So, grab that slot.  Call Southwest Airlines again, have them switch my flights back to the original configuration.

So, now I need to do everything I already had planned for Thursday, but with an extra four hours of round-trip driving.  Hooray.  So much for my padding, and my leisurely day for packing.  I instead spend Wednesday night getting everything together so that I can hit the ground running, borrow a few things I need for the trip, and get five hours of sleep.

There are two particularly irritating things about this.  First, I left plenty of error margin in my initial plans for things to go wrong.  I thought this out.  And it worked.  I sit here, in a Fuddrucker’s, half an hour from my airport, with three hours until my plane takes off.  I had to run like a hamster for a while, but it’s looking like things may, in fact, go off without a hitch.  Which is great, but vaguely unsatisfying.  Doesn’t make for a very entertaining story.  “Yeah, all this stuff went wrong.  I was prepared for it, so everything was fine.”  Lacks punch, it does.

The second irritating thing is that I don’t have anyone to blame for all this.  The Pearson testing center people would be very satisfying scapegoats, since it’s their inability to give me the test I booked well in advance that caused the most trouble.  Except, well, a power transformer blew up.  They probably didn’t cause that.  And they went out of their way on my behalf; they could have allowed me to just show up at the testing site that was having problems and be out of luck, but instead they called me up and helped me reschedule.  I’ll admit to being mad at them, but it was irrational.  And the people at Southwest who helped me reschedule my flight…twice…were nothing but polite and helpful, and made that whole process easy, even when it seemed evident from my side of the phone conversation that their system was being squirrely.  I can’t even blame myself, because, hey, I’m pretty awesome, jumped on this issue and surfed it to a solution.  Even my wrist is back to about 90% function; I’m still being cautious, but it doesn’t hurt in normal use.

So there’s no funny story and no useful indignation.  Just fault-tolerant planning and good customer service.  Which isn’t all that entertaining for anyone.

Powered by WordPress