Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Still here.... Yes, it HAS been a while...


So, it’s been more than a year now…  Last time I wrote one of these I was getting ready to come down here to North Texas to become the CIO of the University (MSU Texas)…  Well, survived my first year.  Coming from the IT/Tech side of the house far more than the “management” side has helped a lot.  Since I’ve done most of the jobs that the folks reporting to me have done, I’m told my “eyes do not glaze over when they get into the technical details”.  Since we’re a small shop, we don’t have the same level of separation I was accustomed to back at UIUC…  Well, we have just become the 5th University in the Texas Tech University System, so more akin to the relationship between UIUC and UIS I suspect for folks familiar with the Illinois System.  But getting here to be the same sized fish in a much smaller pond has been…  Interesting?  LOTS of legal requirements here in TX that simply do not exist up in IL, and having the multi-million dollar budget is JUST a bit different than working in Atlas where I was scrounging and rebuilding “stuff” to just keep things moving…  Yes, had a budget, but it did not even begin to cover what was needed to maintain and update all the machines there.  Working on a 5 year old Laptop because we didn’t replace our own machines with any regularity was “less fun”.  And having to deal with the random IT equipment that just “appeared” made life way more interesting…  At least not having to deal with the potential HIPAA legal issues stemming from one particular part of Psych deciding to do whatever they want despite being instructed repeatedly that “what you are doing is in fact illegal and putting the University at risk” has been a huge weight off my shoulders J


Got the family moved down here finally…  Rented a house owned by the University right across the street from Campus for the first 6-7 Months…  Was super convenient as I could simply walk the block or so to my office, but was rough maintaining the 2 households.  FINALLY got the place up in IL ready and on the market, which sold within the first week or so.  MOVING on the other hand was super un-fun…  And the motivation to never be doing that again I think, at least not any time soon.  We got rid of 3 large dumpsters full of stuff and gave away tons of random things and still have a garage full of moving boxes J


Gaming?  Not much, for the first 8 months I worked a lot and it was during the lockdown, so…  Now, the family is here and the School year has begun, so just a bit busy.  There is an X-Wing event in the DFW area “The Battle for North Texas” coming up in November now that I’ll try to get to.  It is ~ 2 hours’ drive, and REALLY looking forward to playing again.  Picked up a number of the BattleTech things in their Kickstarter and have dug out the ancient BT stuff I had from the 80’s-90’s when last I actually played.  More or less the same rules, not a WHOLE lot changed?  I stopped playing not long after the 3050/3060 stuff, so up to the Clan invasion and the immediate fallout.  Played “MechWarrior”, the Clix based “Dark Ages” game and have a bunch of that stuff still, but WizKids has long since killed that game off…  Fun in a “beer and pretzels” sort of way and was close enough to the BT I grew up playing that it was interesting to me for a time.  The competitive events were not very fun once people got deep into the “Mr. Suitcase” mentality and just went to venues to prize snipe and E-Bay it off because the prizes were exclusive to the events and were generally just better than what you could buy…  Made it less fun for folks like me who wanted to play a specific Faction or Factions and just have fun…  Any case, have WAY too much of that stuff around that I dug up in the move.  The dozen or so 40K armies I have, random other dead games like “Planetstorm” and the like…  My Legion stuff I’ve done some painting while I was here renting, but have not really since we bought the new house…  Packed away until I have a “hobby space” again…  Well, that and the realistic chance of actually PLAYING the game.  Not a lot of incentive for me to build and paint up the armies if I’m never actually getting to play the game…


FFG used to be the Asmodee owned company that ran X-Wing and Legion, but that moved over to “Atomic Mass Games” (AMG)…  This happened during lockdown and while there have been a few releases for those games, the fact that they (AMG) announced that nothing was in the pipeline for Armada (another I used to play and still have many ships for)…  Not a dead game yet, but with no more releases for at least 2 years?  Seems dead to me.  We get some news tomorrow in fact on X-Wing points updates and rules changes?  Maybe some Organized Play (OP) announcements…  I am slightly hopeful as without OP, I see X-Wing also continuing to die off…  Legion less so, but even that has a VERY strong OP component that drives a lot of traffic at big events like Gen Con…  


Guess We’ll see…

Thursday, July 23, 2020

So, I'm a CIO now?

Well, I guess I am a CIO (Chief Information Officer) now…  The on-Campus interview seemed like it went well, and I got the official offer yesterday.  I start in a few weeks and have started clearing out my office…  The details leaving the University of Illinois are going to be difficult….  20+ years there and so a full career.  Need to make sure that I do it correctly of course and then starting a new job in Texas.   Starting at Midwest State University (, and so begins another interesting chapter in my career.


Packing a few things and I’ll be the “advanced party” as my wife and daughters stay up here for a bit…  I suspect that a cat or two will accompany me on my various trips down as we set up for the eventual final move.  The work itself looks interesting and it will be VERY different than what I’ve been doing here in Illinois…


Gaming?  Yeah…  I found a few game stores down there and EVENTUALLY I suspect that I’ll get in some games eventually…  Maybe?  I will have TTS I suppose.  But I suspect that time will be the thing I lack…

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

And now from Texas...

So, the day after...  LONG day flying here to Wichita Falls, Texas...  American Airlines, or at least the sub-contractor decided to pull the plane that was scheduled to be used for the Champaign/Dallas flight to go to Charlotte...  And so my 7:20 am flight became 10ish, then cancelled.  Moved over to the 3 pm flight and DID make that one.  Got to sit around DFW until the 8:50 flight from there to Wichita Falls, and thankfully that one was not cancelled, being the last flight for the day and all...  Though, even if it were, it would have just been a situation of rent a car and drive the 2 hours or so...  Getting to DFW was the big part....  So got to the hotel a bit after 10 pm...  MSU booked me in a REALLY nice hotel (Homewood Suites) who also for reasons unknown upgraded me to a "King Suite"...  Nice, but just me in the room, so kind of wasted on this old ex-GI.  Still, nicely done and a thanks there...

Walked over to Campus to scout it out and be sure I knew where I had to be at 8 am for my day of interviews...  LONG day where I met a LOT of people.  I am absolutely terrible with names, so it will be quite a long time before I get that...  Assuming it is relevant of course.  But overall the interviews I thought went quite well...  By the end of the day I was actually having a hard time speaking, and started to stutter a bit...  Never happened to me before, so that was disconcerting.  But then I've never spoken that much in any given day...  Ever.  I'm usually fairly quiet, preferring to observe and learn before speaking.  All of the people I did meet were quite nice, engaging and frankly seemed happy to see me there.  A bit surprised that I DID come during the pandemic and all and that I am a fairly simple man who just takes things in stride and does not complain...  My wife was far more stressed about this portion than I.  For my part, I just had to be myself and present that while selling them on the idea that I was the right person for the job and could help them along the way I have at UIUC.  I firmly believe that I can do this job and will see if I get an offer.

Whether or not I get the offer though, I am taking this as an absolute win.  I made it to the final cut on another VERY senior level position and they were willing to fly me down there to talk to me about it.  This is awesome...  Sure, actually getting the job and you know succeeding at it would be better, but...

So, sitting in the Airport jotting down some thoughts as I wait to board and fly back home...  But overall this has been an absolutely positive experience for me and I look forward to whatever happens next.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Off to Texas next week...

Well, heading to Texas…  For a few days at least.  I leave Sunday for my long on Campus visit/Interview on Monday and then fly back on Tuesday.  I have to admit this one feels right…  NOT the first time I made the final cut on this sort of thing, but the last time I went down to West Texas for one of these I was mostly in awe and if I’m honest shocked that I made the cut.  As I said at the time, it is a LONG way from SGT Chappell to VP Chappell, or in this case CIO Chappell.  In the interviews and my contact with the folks at this University it has all been quite good.  So, less worried about that aspect of the process.  As I see things, they are approximately where 8-10 years ago.  And that was when I was working on a lot of the things that became Campus/System wide over the years.  SCCM was the big one, I guess it has been renamed “Microsoft Endpoint Manager”.  Another big one being the transition to “Remote Learning/Blended Environment” from the fully in person instruction with the Covid-19 pandemic which I have direct experience with here…  So it just a whole convergence of factors that I feel like this job is a direct continuation of the path my career has taken over the years.  Shame nothing is happening locally, but Texas is in a much more stable position in the long run than Illinois, something to do with one of those States being run by "The Machine" for a LONG time and it shows...


Got the new suit out for another interview at yet another Texas University…  As I’ve lost a LOT of weight, my older really nice suit that I had for the beginning of this long job hunt simply does not fit.  Turns out an 80-pound drop means you need a new suit.  Not a bad thing overall, I think but trying to buy a new suit during a pandemic means of course buying it online…  Foolishly I followed the guide and took actual measurements for chest, neck, length, etc.…  Fortunately, easy enough to return and order the correct size as I could see the difference between the “listed” size vs actual sizes…  J  Correcting the initial Artillery shot and calling in the “Fire For Effect” …  But, yet another VP level interview down there.  So apparently I do fit the profile for that level somewhere, just not Illinois J  And the suit itself fits really well…  So, yea?  Have it packed up and ready to go for the upcoming trip as I gear up for that particular adventure.


So, adventure…  In booking the flight I was completely unprepared for at least the first oddity.  Flying from Champaign to DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) then on to the other small regional airport.  As an Engineer, it seemed obvious that taking a flight from point A to point B would be cheaper than the flight from point A to point B and then on to point C.  No.  J  So, I would have failed that particular math test had I not listened to the hiring committee chair who suggested that I look at the flight all the way instead of just the flight to the hub and renting a car for the drive up to Campus…  Not sure how this works economically, but there you go…  It is in fact much cheaper to take the connecting flight than just the flight to the hub, despite the flight to the hub being the exact same flight as the connecting one…  OK, so flight booked and hotel arranged.  Just the oh dark flight on Sunday, so that will be fun…


Gaming?  Not really much going on.  Diablo 3 season 21 started and playing that with my wife…  Been test flying a Scum 5 ship build waiting on the points update for X-Wing:


Scum 5 Ship 1 (200)


Serissu — M3-A Interceptor






Ship Total: 50

Half Points: 25 Threshold: 2


Laetin A’shera — M3-A Interceptor


Snap Shot




Ship Total: 40

Half Points: 20 Threshold: 2


Sunny Bounder — M3-A Interceptor




Ship Total: 30

Half Points: 15 Threshold: 2


Nom Lumb — JumpMaster 5000






Contraband Cybernetics


Ship Total: 49

Half Points: 25 Threshold: 5


G4R-GOR V/M — M3-A Interceptor




Ship Total: 31

Half Points: 16 Threshold: 2



So, a theme there I suppose…  Using my M-3’s and Autoblasters while I can…  Fun, but certainly not OP…


Legion, a bit more painting, second Vet Squad base coated and a bit more done on the rest…  Mostly just waiting I suppose…



Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Legion and some University life stuff...

We got the official word that for the next year, no raises and cutting all expenses we can.  The Sidhe verbiage included “no mass layoffs planned at this time”…  But getting to sit in on a lot of meetings dealing with the budget and the like it is not looking good.  Will see how things pan out if the Students come back or how many of them do since the bulk of our budget is based on you know, our customers actually coming and attending the University.  At one point I wanted to get to a level where I knew “what was going on” and maybe even had some input on that direction…  Got that, but once again reminded about the being VERY careful what you wish for as you might actually get it…  And it might not be what you thought it was…  The official announcement is due this week what the University is planning to do/offer for Fall Semester.  Being in a number of those meetings where this is discussed it will be interesting I suppose.  “Blended Environment” being the new buzz word thrown around.  So, the bulk of the computer Classrooms will be changed somewhat to allow Students to remotely log in (RDP) and use the machines as if they were physically there.  In other places we are creating the virtual machines (VM) to host virtual Classrooms of machines with the software for instruction.  The Spring Semester showed how the bulk of the traditional Lecture sessions and the Discussion sections will be held via Zoom, MS Teams or whatever other platform that the instructor in question chooses…  J  Plus and minus there for the IT across the University being decentralized and every group getting to do whatever they’d choose to do.  FAR less efficient of course, but the central IT group has been quite helpful and Campus has arraigned to get us all the licenses we would need to remain legal and keep things moving. 

So, prepping continues for Fall here in Illinois…  Waiting on word from Texas as I have at least one more interview there…  Heading down there for a Campus visit, but of course reality has been…  Less conducive to travel.  So, just in wait and see mode.  Seems like an amazing place and the opportunity is definitely one I would jump at were it to present itself.  Suit packed in my “go bag” and looking at the flights from Champaign to Dallas… 

Gaming?  Well, I finally figured out some of the controls on TTS, so I might actually get in a game with that…  X-Wing seems simple enough to run on that platform and Legion I hear is also doable…  But Legion is a much longer game and I lack that time these days with the work and real life schedule being what it is.  I HAVE been painting a fair bit… 

My Legion Rebels are coming along quite nicely.  Need to get Cassian Andor assembled as I intend to magnetize him to swap between the “sniper” and “close combat” setups…  But Legion differs from 40K in that it is explicitly NOT a WYSIWYG system.  So, either would work, and I rather like his “sniper” setup…  So if the magnets look to be more trouble than they are worth, so be it.  I DO seem to be drawn more to the Rebel “Rogue One” sort of setup with Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor leading out my forces.  I go more for the Rebel Vets over the more standard “fit in as many Sniper Teams as possible” that I see a fair number of other folks fielding.  Maybe I never learned how to use them correctly, but the 2 man Sniper Teams seem easier to deal with, at least they were with my Clones on the 500 point tables.  The BARC speeder rolling up fast and the support fire from a Squad or two would usually clear the Teams in a turn or two before they could do much to me.  I suppose my Rebels will need something similar and of course I may find on the field that my build simply falls apart…  But:
Jyn Erso (110 + 5 = 115)
--Strict Orders (5)

Cassian Andor (90 + 18 = 108)
--Duck and Cover (4), Overwatch (4), A280-CFE Sniper Config (10)

Cassian Andor (Loadout)
--Hunter (6), Endurance (6), Environmental Gear (3), A280-CFE Pistol Config (10)

K-2SO (70 + 10 = 80)
--Jyns SE-14 Blaster (10)

Rebel Veterans (48 + 26 = 74)
--CM-O93 Trooper (26)

Mark II Medium Blaster Trooper (38 + 0 = 38)

Rebel Veterans (48 + 0 = 48)

Mark II Medium Blaster Trooper (38 + 0 = 38)

Rebel Commandos (Strike Team) (20 + 28 = 48)
--DH-447 Sniper (28)

AT-RT (55 + 20 = 75)
--AT-RT Laser Cannon (20)

Tauntaun Riders (90 + 6 = 96)
--Endurance (6)

AT-RT (55 + 25 = 80)
--Comms Jammer (5), AT-RT Flame Thrower (20)

So, a few points to play with and of course change out the options here and there…  But a decent starting point I suspect there will be things changed one way or the other…  Thinking of a few of the obvious builds for instance, what do I do to deal with heavy Armor?  The CIS tank is terrifying, but very expensive and with this game focusing heavily on missions I feel like I can win a fair number of them by doing what Jyn does well and just completing the mission…  11 Activations initially and with my Tauns being  decent flanker/linebacker with the AT-RTs it is a fairly mobile list…  Well, except for the Vets themselves…  I suspect strongly that I will need to make changes to them at least. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

So, a trip to Texas...

Well, the last interview I had was apparently quite successful.  They indicated at that time that it would have been an on Campus interview and that was amazing news.  Got the call today that they want me to come down for an on Campus visit.  Timing is still up in the air, and it will be some time in June when the travel restrictions are lifted to some degree...  This one just feels right.  So, hoping for an offer of course :-)...

Amusingly, I got word from another place down there to schedule another interview...  So I am apparently quite popular in Texas?  Ironic, working here in Illinois for 20+ years and now with so many of the places I am applying to entering hiring freezes, just not filling the positions or the like...  Guess we'll see...

Monday, May 11, 2020

Mid May in Quarantine...

So, beginning another week in the seemingly endless quarantine J  We have a large and probably growing number of Cats here, all of whom feel like this is “Every Day is Caturday”.  They are thrilled that their people are here in their home almost all day, every day.  So, they are thrilled by all of this…  Being VERY social little creatures, they have been working on their pack hunting…  Amusing when the 9 here decide they are hunting something…  My wife’s wee dog is “less thrilled” by this behavior as he is smaller than almost all of the cats now and it is frankly kind of terrifying when the lads DO pack hunt something…  But I usually have 2-4 of them down on and around the dining room table where my ad hoc “desk” is set up to work from guarding me as I DO work from home.  Amusing until they decide that it is attention time and Heimdall for instance decides that my beards needs to be groomed like he just did J  So a pause while typing for a bit.

Gaming wise?  Not a lot going on.  I cleaned out a bit of my basement and rebuilt my painting station there in a different location.  And have been painting a LOT of Legion things…  So I should have two fully painted 800 point armies easily for my factions there.  Rebels of course have FAR more options that I could field as the original faction in the game.  Republic is limited, but I have more than enough to field a decent force there by now.  Only have my Sabre class tank to assemble and paint and I have everything currently produced for the faction…  Waiting on more releases, but of course with the global issues we are all waiting it seems. 

I HAVE TTS and Vassal on my computer but have yet to carve out the time to play a game in either system.  So, actual gaming?  None.  My Hyperspace list is set with the 4 Aethersprites…  Fun at least.  Not sure I’ll ever actually WIN anything with it, but this is a list I will enjoy flying so I am going with this. 

The leaked “upcoming” stuff from Europe indicates that the V-Wing and ETA-2 will be coming at some point…  The ETA-2 should be interesting as the last Jedi starfighter, and an improvement on the already excellent Aethersprite?  Yes, I DO think I will take a few of those.  Actual screen time for these in at least the one movie and of course the “Clone Wars” TV series.  The specs indicate it is closer to the TIE perhaps?  Well-armed, maneuverable and lacking Shields.  Maybe they will not make it as powerful as the Aethersprite, but I suspect it will be an improvement in many ways.  Base 3 Attack, probably 3 Agility would be where I suspect it will start.  3-4 Hull though making it a powerful but fragile platform…  Rewarding Ace play and punishing mistakes.  And as Anakin Skywalker was one of the main Pilots flying these things, there should easily be the I6 there…  So things to look forward to I guess?

Legion?  Not a lot…  Painting and I ordered some acrylic silhouettes for the new LOS rules…  Waiting on the physical release of the new stuff?  So, nothing much on there for me…

Gen Con?  Still officially “on” at this point I suppose…  Kind of annoying that I get the downtown hotel attached to the Con Center the year that it seems somewhat unlikely that there will even be a major convention…  At this point I am not entirely sure that the convention will even be a go at this point…  And with the complete dearth of events this was the one I was REALLY looking forward to…  They have delayed the release of the event catalog and REALLY hedging to get to this one for both X-Wing and Legion…  Guess we’ll see.  I am leaning toward not going though as I suspect my wife will not be interested in going…  So maybe drive over for a day or two?  We’ll see I suppose…

Job front, holding the line here at my current job…  Things are going fairly well as we have done the transition to “online only”…  There are a number of things upcoming and fights I am looking to avoid as directions are coming from our CIO…  Coming from a Military and corporate IT background, it never occurred to me to question them as “them’s the orders”…  Will see how things go I suppose, I am personally OK either way it goes as my own concerns are not those of the folks who are dead set against it…

Still in the running for that position I have interviewed for I suppose?  Waiting on word for that.  If I get an offer, I’ll be figuring out the living situation.  It is a REALLY good position, and Texas appears in a much better position over Illinois going forward…  And that University looks amazing.  So, wait and see…  Travel restrictions prevented an early trip for an in person interview, but I am of course willing to travel either by air or just drive…  J  Yes, THAT motivated for this opportunity.

Running 3x/week still and getting back to “in shape”…  Weight loss is continuing, and starting to work out more while we are in quarantine…  Projects around the house getting done…  Wife and kids are healthy and finishing school for the year so all in all, things are actually going well for us…