Kay and I have decided that I should re-enter the world of Information Technology, and networking in particular. Why now?
Things change. My life has certainly changed in the past few years and in particular in the past year after quadruple bypass open heart surgery. Major life-treating surgery has a way of shuffling priorities and reminding us of our mortality. I think it can be debilitating to some, but for me it has been transformative.
Recovery from having my chest split open and my heart and lung function taken over by a machine while doctors reroute the blood vessels around my heart has been very, very difficult and extremely painful at times. Every single hour of every single day was painful in the beginning, and it really helped me sharpen my focus on what is important in life. My top priority is now my health, followed by my relationship with my wife.
In the two years prior to heart surgery I had really focused on my health. I began eating better and exercising – a LOT. In 2018 I ran my first full marathon, rode my first 100 mile century bike ride and did my first half-iron man triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 57 mile bike ride, half marathon in one day).
Despite my belated efforts to improve my health, I still ended up under the knife on October 15, 2018. In the 10 months prior to heart surgery I had ran 1,060 miles, bicycled over 4,000 miles and swam 26 miles. Yet there I was with my chest cut wide open, barely able to walk and with blood and fluid filling my lungs repeatedly after surgery. While the normal recovery from heart surgery is a 5-7 day hospital stay, because of complications I was in for nearly a month.
Post Surgery Recovery
After surgery I was determined to continue my exercise routines and decided to once again run the OKC Memorial Marathon on April 28, 2019. While in the hospital I started walking. A lot. My doctors encouraged me to walk so I took it seriously, and walked 28 miles inside the OK Heart Hospital corridors – a full marathon inside the hospital. I even recorded my walks in Strava. To my knowledge I still have a KOM – King of Mountain – for the Strava route I created inside the hospital!
Once out of the hospital I began the long recovery. My first trip back to my local YMCA I was out of breath just climbing the stairs to the workout room. DANG! I started walking, then bicycling, then swimming again. Slowly my lungs cleared up and my fitness began to return. Now six months after surgery I am ready to run a full marathon after many miles of sweat and work and pain and effort. I am once again feeling the best fitness of my life.
Which brings me back to my point – I am ready to get back into the networking IT world.
I feel great. My mind has been recharged. While in the hospital my son Adam, who works in IT for OG&E, came up a few times and we talked extensively about virtualization, VMWare, network protocols, their movement to the Cloud, and his role in coordinating software development and deployment for a mid-sized organization. I enjoyed those talks and it began to remind me of the challenges I always enjoyed while working in IT. New technology is fun, taking on difficult tasks is fun, and solving problems that others struggle with is fun for me.
TCP/IP is my second language
As my son and I talked over several days and weeks, I began to realize that technology, and especially networking technology such as TCP/IP had become a second language to me. The protocol of the internet has always been easy for me to understand. I am not sure why, but I have alway completely understood IP subnet masks, routing protocols, been able to make sense of packet decodes, and figure out the logic of how devices communicate over networks. I used to be called in all the time to do packet decodes and troubleshooting when other IT folks had trouble. It just made sense to me. I could use a packet decoder – Wireshark now – and narrow down problems and figure out how to test, troubleshoot and decipher problems and then work with others to find solutions.
Our Decision for me to reenter IT world
For the past few years I have been helping Kay extensively with her real estate business. My role has been to build her web site, develop her marketing plans, set up and manage her CRM system, develop her drip marketing campaigns, produce marketing materials, and write extensive content for her very popular real estate web site www.kaypratt.com. This has kept me in the IT world and greatly expanded my skill set. Now I am quite familiar with HTML and CSS, as well as content management systems, SSL, DNS, PHP, SEO optimization, and a wide variety of back end web tools. While I am not an expert web coder, I have become very comfortable with the technology and how it can change how a business functions.
We now have her business pretty streamlined and I have time to dedicated to new tasks. I have spent time working in my shop, working around our house, but that is getting a bit boring. I am ready for a new challenge and of course the money in the IT world is very attractive, so we decided I should shift gears, re-enter the IT world and see what happens.
I gotta get caught up!
While I have been out of cutting-edge networking for the past 6-8 years a LOT has changed. While the basics of network routing, switching, VLAN’s, SIP trunks, VoIP and all that hasn’t changed all that much, new terms such as SD-WAN and Cisco’s DNA architecture has come onto the scene. I have started reading up on those technologies and others so that I understand the cutting edge changes going on in networking and can help apply that to my many years of network troubleshooting, designing and deployment. Installing firewall, routers, switches, VoIP systems is easy. Learning how to tie all that together and automating routing decisions and integrating with the “cloud” is new to me, but I feel I have the basic building blocks in place and just gotta learn and ready and study and practice.
I am looking forward to the challenge and the fun!