Saturday, March 24, 2007

I'm back on dry land once again, opportunity awaits me like a rat in a drain...

(This is a three part post)

Part One - Yes folks, our long national nightmare is over. Yesterday I received an offer of employment from Earthlink’s municipal WIFI segment to be their Sr. Purchasing Manager. I cannot be happier with this prospect. When I was told that Sprint would be closing my distribution center a year or so ago, I began coming to terms with the fact that my next job may not be in the wireless world. This was a big thing for me since I have been working in wireless for almost 15 years now. I have played a hand in building out thousands of cell sites all over this country and others for five different companies, including Argentina’s first cellular network. I’ve been there for countless inaugural network turn ups large and small, bringing wireless telephony to those who hadn’t had access to it before. It’s quite a fulfilling legacy really. With all the current consolidation going on, including my former company Sprint and my beloved Nextel, I left my old job in the beginning of December ambivalent about the idea of working for any of the big four operators. With perhaps the exception of T-Mobile, the others have grown into younger siblings of the “old” Bell operators, no creative thinking going on, just strict adherence to Bellcore standards, blah, blah, blah…

Exactly the opposite of what my 13 years at Nextel was. Nextel was a perfect example of what a company can do when freed from the confines of the old rules. I went to work for Nextel (then Dial Call here in the South) a year after Morgan O’Brien raised his initial capital. It was a rough road in the beginning. In 1994 after Craig McCaw and his family pledged $100 million and hired a new executive leadership team consisting of Daniel F. Akerson (of MCI) and Timothy Donahue (of AT&T Wireless), we few South region employees were invited to an all hands meeting hosted by this new dynamic duo. Dan Akerson minced no words and opened the meeting with, “Folks, I stand before you today to inform you that this company is three months from bankruptcy…”. That certainly got out attention. He then went on to spell out our plan to not only turn the company around with a total re-launch of our product, but how we were going to have customers “running away” from the other wireless providers to get on our network and use our differentiated services in a cou0ple of short years. That my friends is EXACTLY what we did. Prior to the Sprint buyout, Nextel enjoyed the highest rated customers (from a credit perspective), the best customer longevity by a long shot, and highest revenue per user by a country mile. Nextel proved, as the last pure play wireless venture out there, that it’s not always about subscriber numbers, but the quality of your subscriber base.

The Sprint merge seemed to be a good match when first announced. So far, from a former Nextelian’s perspective, it’s been a unmitigated disaster. I wish no ill will on them and sincerely hope they can turn it around. They’re going to need the Nextel entrepreneurial spirit to do it though, and if they pass on this in favor of the old tired Bellcore standard that seems to be prevailing there, I think their headed for some long days.

Which brings me back to today. A month or two ago, I began looking into the muni WIFI thing as a result of the articles on the segment in my trade rags. Low and behold, I got an e-mail out of the blue from a recruiter asking me if I thought any of my former employees would be interested in coming to work for Earthlink (I had buyers reporting to me and this was what they were looking for). I told the young lady that I’d ask around, but also asked if they perhaps might have a need for someone like me. The rest is history. The muni WIFI business is so young and is moving so fast it’s staggering. The potential is boundless. There’s much I have to learn, but needless to say, the primary goal right now is to get RF in the air and get paying customers on the network. The future? Well, off the top of my head, content delivery; data, internet, and TV. Beyond that of course is the prospect of wireless VOIP. I told the VP I interviewed with that whether or not I was working for Earthlink, when the first call is connected over a WIFI network all the chips will be back on the table, and the big behemoth wireless operators better be ready to compete. It feels a lot like my first day at Nextel.

I’m hoping to delay my start date to travel to NYC with the family before my first day, but I really can’t wait to dig into the high risk/high reward world of municipal WIFI. It’s going to an interesting ride.

Part Two - All this on the eve of my 43rd birthday!!!

Part Three – Finally, it is worthy of note that this is Intravenus De Milo’s one year blogger anniversary. It was a year ago today that all my blogging friends had had enough of my long winded comments to their posts and told me to get my own damn blog so that they could ignore me without guilt. I have truly fallen in love with the form and even feel guilty when I don’t post. It has been a great ride and I have to thank my good friends Jackson and his brother Fred for turning me onto it, and the many others I’ve come to know through their blogrolls who inspired me. These include, but are not limited to; Tom Watson, John Cole, Jeff Jarvis, Jason Chervokas, Bob Lefsetz and all the comment communities whose intimidating intellect and sometimes sharp tongues got me off the couch and helped me dust up my woefully inadequate writing skills to do this thing. 177 posts and literally hundreds and hundreds of comments. I never thought I had it in me. Thanks guys.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Finally Someone I Can Agree With...

You know, I was really optimistic about the results of the midterm elections, I really was. I think this administration has blown it and believe the corruption runs deep. I still very much support the mission in Iraq and think that we need to stick it out no matter how long it takes. I also understand (but don’t agree with) the war’s detractors which is why I am so disappointed in the Democratic Party and it’s leadership at this point. For God’s sake, if you want us out of Iraq, take the vote and be done with it, but no. That’s not what’s going to happen. Why?

Here’s my feeling on the matter: Unlike Vietnam, the aftermath of an American pullout in Iraq won’t be something that is geographically contained. The instability will creep in all directions and be much worse. It will not be able to be ignored. Second, unlike the millions who died in the killing fields with little mention in the American and world press, the carnage that would certainly follow would not escape the worlds eye (you think it’s bad now, just wait). Yep, in my mind Pelosi & Co. know these two things and have chosen to debate meaningless crap (the Gonzales flap), or debate worthless legislation (non-binding resolutions). Lou Dobbs is utterly brilliant stating the obvious here.

Democrats MUST come to the realization that George Bush’s’ legacy will be his to own and if they want the presidency in 08, they are going to inherit this war. Wasting another minute talking about the fallacies (real or perceived) that got us there is NOT going to get you elected and will not change the situation one bit. It certainly isn’t a substitute for actual foreign policy.

When the elections were over, I actually thought the Dems were going to get their chance to end the Iraq war as they said they would, but alas, it was as I predicted; Business as usual. My liberal and left minded friends ought to be outraged at the let down their party leadership have displayed. I certainly wouldn’t blame them.

I could have written this myself…

Is there not one decent, honest man or woman in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, in either party's leadership, who possesses the courage and the honesty to say, "Enough. The people who elected us deserve better"? So far the answer is no. Is there really any wonder that public opinion polls demonstrate that the president and this Congress share equally low approval ratings in poll after poll?

The White House is behaving with utter contempt for Congress and Congress is acting without respect or regard for this president. Could it be that, at long last, they're both right?

Thanks Lou for saying it for us.

Just How Bad Can It Get..?

Saw this buried on page 4,635 of the national section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today…

AP - Three Islamic militants were found guilty of decapitating three schoolgirls in Indonesia and dumping their bloodied heads in nearby villages on Sulawesi island, which has been torn by sectarian violence. The alleged members of the al Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network were sentenced to between 14 and 20 years.

Two questions...

What kind of society gives a perpetrator of such a heinous act only 14 years?

Where is the outrage from the moderate Islamic community?

(crickets chirping)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Timeless Quote...

"It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers! In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late.

Accordingly, I'm readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects, and I'll, in turn, do my best for the Cause by writing editorials- after the fact."

- Robert E. Lee 1863 -

BTW... I read a well written Thomas Sowell piece in the oped section yesterday. You can view it here. Should make you think.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Day To Remember...

Yes folks, it's been a while. Sorry for the absence. It’s been a tough couple of weeks that have left me largely uninspired. I think it’s behind me and today’s milestone certainly lifts me up higher than the tallest tree.

It was five years ago at around 3:00 pm when my wife called me at work and asked me to come home. She was a full nine months along. She had only called me home once before for a false alarm and I knew to respect her wishes since she hated the idea of crying wolf even though I had told her not to worry about stuff like that. Only 9 months prior to this date we had been struggling with the reality we were given from all the doctors that we would never have a child of our own when the love of my life came screaming from the bathroom with a test strip in hand “I’m pregnant!”. She had been dreading her annual GYN visit since taking a pregnancy test was required prior to her appointment. The guts a woman has to have to take that test after all she’d been through will never be lost on me. I could write a book on the improbability of it after all the science I’d been brought up to speed on during the years of doctor visits and the perfect storm of fertility maladies that had beset the two of us, but none of that mattered after that day.

When I arrived home, my wife was cleaning the house in an attempt to calm her contractions which seem to have worked by the time I hit the door. I then did what most men would have done; I walked over to the couch and took a nap. My slumber was shaken with my wife leaning over a chair and in heavy voice telling me her water had broken. No freak out on my behalf I must say. Once I got her into the car and turned the key, Pink’s “Get this Party Started” came blaring through radio speakers. The sign’s could not be ignored. At around 11:00 PM I watched my daughter take her first breath. She was so little. I have never felt more emotion all at one time ever in my life and probably never will again. Ecstatic at the sight of our precious little miracle and never more proud of my wife for being tough enough not only to carry and deliver her, but for finding the strength to stick it out during the very dark days preceding that fateful day the previous July. They just don’t make them like that anymore.

Now our little peanut is a big beautiful girl all of five years old. I can not believe how fast it’s all gone by. Since her arrival, I’ve felt like I’ve been given a whole new second life to live. One filled with the joy of all of us.

Katie often asks us to tell her the story of her birth which I and her mother are only glad to oblige. I think it reminds her of how absolutely special she is to us. Little girls universally adore stories and fairy tales of princesses being rescued from all the various perils that lurk in such fables. But the story of her birth is one that is real to her and us and more than any other story she has heard, or will ever hear, this particular story will always remind her that there is a God, and that miracles are indeed possible. She is the living proof.

Happy birthday my little princess and happy birthday Mrs. Alva!