Eight years and haven’t missed a day yet

On May 31, 2000, I officially left my job at United Technologies and became a full-time technical trainer. It’s now been eight years since that day. While I don’t like to talk about personal things here very often, I thought that was worth a mention. That, and the fact that in all the training classes I’ve taught since then (probably somewhere around 250, though that might be a bit low), I’ve never missed a day.

As Inigo Montoya said, “Let me ‘splain — no, it is too much. Let me sum up.” After receiving my Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Princeton, I took a job as a research scientist at United Technologies Research Center in East Hartford, CT. I spent nearly 12 years there, mostly investigating the aerodynamics and aeroacoustics of jet engines. That meant lots of math (pretty cool) and lots of Fortran (shudder). Toward the end of my stay, I learned Java and switched to a different group at UTRC that specialized in Artificial Intelligence. Quickly realizing that twelve years of programming in Fortran hadn’t taught me anything about modern software development, I went back to school at night and got my MS in Computer Science from Rensselaer at Hartford.

Just before graduation I reentered the job market. This was in the Spring of 2000, just before the dot-com bubble burst completely. In the end, I had to choose between a developer job, and a job teaching training courses. One night at dinner with the family I said, “I’ve decided which job I want.” My son Xander, who had just turned 8 years old, said, “did you take the one with more money, or the one you liked?” I was very happy to say I took the one I liked, and became a member of the Golden Consulting Group.

Five years later, in March of 2005, I formed Kousen IT, Inc., and went out on my own. I now look back and can honestly say that I’ve never been happier. I spent years in jobs and in situations I intensely disliked. It took me a long time to correct all that. Now I’m finally in a job where

As for never missing a day of class, I simply can’t. These aren’t like academic classes, where you see a single group of students for months at a time (though, come to think of it, I’ve never missed a day teaching an academic class, either :)). People clear their work schedule for training classes. The classes only last three to five days, too, so missing a day is a huge sacrifice. No, I can’t miss a day if it’s physically possible to be there. It’s more than a responsibility; it’s an obligation.

I freely admit, though, that keeping a perfect record going involves some luck. I’ve certainly been sick enough to miss days. Earlier this year I caught some stupid stomach bug that knocked me for a major loop. I couldn’t get out of bed, much less make it to class. I’m just glad it happened to hit me on a day I wasn’t scheduled to teach.

I’m sure that first missed day is coming. Life simply isn’t always controllable like that. Illnesses happen, and I received a reminder about a week ago that my parents are aging and no longer in the best of health. As they say, stuff (or even life) happens.

Still, I wanted to take a moment to feel quietly pleased about the fact that I’ve made it this far.

Recent classes:

Upcoming classes:

  • OOAD/UML in Austin, TX
  • Java Web Security in Asheville, NC
  • Java Web Services in New Haven, CT
  • Java Web Security in Huntington Beach, CA
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