Richard Tocci

Richard Tocci
Just when you thought it was safe, I show up...


The contents of this blog are my own comments and opinions and do not reflect those of my family, friends, colleagues, clients, employers, or anyone else I may know. Additionally, their comments and opinions are not a reflection of me or this blog. Any links contained in posts are maintained by third parties and are not under the control of this blog, and as such, this blog is not responsible for their content. All links are provided "as is" with no explicit or implicit warranty of any kind.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sign of the Times

Today, Vertafore announced to their employees the closing of the College Station site. This is the site I worked at for over 12 years before my recent departure to Corptax.

The signs of closure were evident going back weeks. Today, of course, more information comes out from different sources, and it now appears to have been in planning stages for months. This is not surprising. The decision to close a site is a long process. Logistics and planning are crucial to the success of a site closing, especially if that site also hosts a data center serving thousands of customers.

The problem is that employees may not be as forgiving about the reasons for closing. The overall point of the closure was to centralize support to fewer locations. Additionally, the Vertafore Data Center is to be moved to a third party location in Dallas. The data center move was announced in the trades via a press release. I find it interesting that the press release mentions the data center move, but not the employee job losses -- but then, that wasn't the point of the press release, was it?

Most employees have about 2 months to either relocate, if offered the option or if they ask, or take severance. Others have more time because they are part of the data center transition, scheduled to complete by May 2010. Many of those people are my friends, and have been for over 10 years. They are strong people, and good people, and deserve better than what they are getting. While that does nothing to save their jobs, it's happened too many times over the years to forgive, I think, and the inevitable has finally come to fruition.

One thing I heard today was that management made a "very difficult decision" in closing the site. I don't think it was that difficult. The College Station site has been the target of closure for years, with one instance called off when executives were in the DFW airport awaiting a flight to College Station to close the site and lay off employees in a moments notice. But the decision to close the site is one of pure financial need. Relocating the data center to a third party saves money on costs of maintaining the physical site (AC, power backup generators, UPS units), so in the middle and long term, the decision should be good financially. So to patronize the support staff with stories of how difficult the decision is, frankly, insulting. There are a lot of smart, hard working people in the College Station office, and they are smarter than that to believe it was a difficult business decision. A difficult personal decision? Yes, I believe the majority of those involved in the decision are personally hurt to do this work. Like The Don said, "It's not's only business". But there's no sense in repeating how difficult it is over and over in meetings. Please, just tell the people how long they have and let them get it over with.

One amazing thing to note -- there are easily 10 people at that site that have worked there over 20 years. One in particular just hit 39 years. She began working there when I was 2 months old. She went 27 years before taking a sick day. I wonder if she's getting what she clearly deserves after service of that caliber.

One thing I've always said is that it's not the crisis, but how you stand up to and work through that crisis, that defines you. I have no doubt my friends will prevail, overcome, and excel in their future.

So on a lighter note, maybe this video needs to be revised:

...or click here.

To my friends in College Station -- I told you I would miss you when I left, and I do miss you. I still talk to you when time permits. You hold a dear part of my heart. You were with me during 2 marriages, 2 divorces, and 4 children. You've seen me grow and change, as I have you, and I have no doubt you will overcome this setback in your lives. I want to see you at Fox and Hound this Friday night, if we can get enough together. You know where to find me.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Hayden is Moving Along

Tonight I saw Hayden crawl properly for the first time. He's always been able to crawl -- an Army style crawl, using his arms only. But tonight he got up on his hands and knees and crawled across my floor.

I was very excited at this milestone. Maybe this weekend he'll do it again for me and I'll video it and post it. I hope so, because it was great to see. He's been doing this at his momma's house for the last week or so, so he's had plenty of practice.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I wish this was a little clearer -- I'm sure if I searched I could find it.

Remember when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift, and Beyonce gave up her time on stage so Taylor could finish her speech? I thought that was a decent thing to do.

Well, turns out Beyonce is more than that. Check this out:

If you can't see the embedded video, click here.

The rest of Hollywood needs to take a lesson from this woman.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Snuggie Madness, and Google Ads

Now, you can look like a tool, and support your favorite collegiate team at the same time. It's the Collegiate Snuggie!

Since my post on Alex's peeing in a cup, ads have arrived on my blog site about potty training. Yeah, you MIGHT be a little late on that, sparky...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More Conversations with Alex

Conversation with Alex in the car the other evening:

Alex and Dad singing. Hayden singing along as well as he can.

"It's take a're really dirty and your feet smell bad!..."

Alex makes a sniffle sound and says "Pee-YEW!" Hayden cracks up laughing.

Dad: "My feet don't smell bad."

Alex(voice tone very matter-of-fact): "Yes, they do. I smelled them. They stink. They're disgusting."

Dad laughs so hard he cries. Luckily, he has not reached the highway.

Dad: "Alex, you are the funniest kid I know."

Alex (sighs): "Yeah, I know. I'm special..."

Reflections on September 11

Eight years ago I walked into work as I had the previous four and a half years, and was interrupted during my morning routine of sitting down, booting up, reading email, and getting my first mug of coffee by Mark Heslip. He said "Hey, did you hear? An airplane crashed into the World Trade Center."

And that was the beginning of the most incredible, horrible day of my life.

Eight years later, I am sure to watch a show about the time line, or if a station plays recorded, uninterrupted coverage I'll watch that, and I'll remember the fear I felt that day. I'll remember how, later that day, I watched neighbors bring ammunition and guns into their houses, and thinking at the time that anarchy might break out at a moments notice if anything happened in Texas.

I like those emails that go around from time to time that talk about how college kids are so young, and to prove it, the email lists items, events, or technologies that these children only know from pawnshops, history books, old magazines, or junk in the basement. So, on that concept, I'd like to put a few things into perspective:

  • Fliss, my second ex-wife, was not my wife at the time. We were dating, and she was on vacation in England, visiting her family and friends.
  • Alex was not born yet.
  • Chris, a 21 year old college junior now, was 13 and in 8th grade.
  • Amanda was 11 years old and she was living with me at the time.
  • Blu-ray DVD were still under development.
  • Windows XP had not officially shipped to consumers.

When I commemorate September 11, I always use a phrase like "We must never forget". I believe that today as strongly as I did last year, and the year before, and all the way back to 2002 on the first anniversary. I wonder if I would have been as brave as some of the people caught in this tragedy, and I'm thankful I didn't have to find out.

While remaining vigilante to threats against this country, we must also remember to remain civil to those that share national heritage with those that attacked us, because many people from the Middle East have relocated to The United States to start over and give their families better lives. That's not to say that wrong doers should not be caught and punished, but blind discrimination for no reason is wrong.

I also believe that, in order to prevent future attacks, a variety of methods can be used on different people that would have pertinent information. This includes torture. If we catch one bad guy, and we get information from that one bad guy that saves the lives of hundreds or thousands of American citizens, and torture was used, then so be it. I am not so naive as to think that these methods are not used when the CIA is told not to use them -- they are used. My father told me not to use his drill when I was a kid, but when he wasn't around, I used it.

We need to remember those lives lost on September 11, 2001, we need to remember the lessons learned, and we need to remember to remain vigilante.

One last thing. I have a lot of friends in the military, and know a few kids that plan to go into the military. They sacrifice their lives and their families sacrifice so these soldiers can serve their country. Stay safe.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Parent's View

I was recently involved in a discussion about the, at the time, upcoming Obama speech to school children. The discussion started with a reference to a New York Times article outlining the controversy.

I believe the core problem with this entire "controversy" is the inability of a group of people to understand that parent's have the right to review and object to material presented to their children. Additionally, if a parent objects to a presentation, they can remove their child from that presentation, and schools have to oblige.

I don't care about the content of the material. That had nothing to do with my argument. It's the right of the parent I was arguing. I'm not even saying the parents are correct in their views. That's entirely immaterial. If a parent does not want to have their child hear something, then it's my view that the parent should be allowed to act as they see fit, unless the action is an abusive action.

That's not to say that a parent should take their kid out of school 3 days a week because of a class lesson. That's ridiculous. This was a one-time event, and the parents, in my view, had the right to exclude their children.

It's also not wise to question or demean those parents, or attack their level of education, because, in my view, education takes on many forms, and not just the form of a formal classroom setting or a piece of paper framed in wood with a pretty golden seal, signed by someone who you may not even know, or does not even know you.

I would really like to know how many of the people with whom I had this discussion have children. I know one of them does not, and I felt that, perhaps, that may have factored into their argument.

I would love to place the the entire conversation in this blog, and if I find an easy way to do it, I might. But I was asked, at one point, if I was afraid to tell my son, Alex, if we had a President, or a President of color. Not only was this insulting to me, but it was childish, and frankly ignorant of the person that asked the question. It also amazed me how many of these people were quick to question my personal values because I disagreed with them. OK, it didn't surprise me, but it still proves, to a degree, that people are very intolerant of other people's opposing views.

I have to give them credit, however -- they felt very strongly about their view, regardless of how flawed I felt it was, and regardless of how many points I expressed trying to disprove or counter their arguments.

Oh, and here's another thing -- no one had yet seen the contents of the speech. I didn't, they didn't, no one did. In fact, after the speech was posted on the White House web site, I posted a link to it and stated it was a good speech, and mentioned a few points I really liked. The one person that could have said something said nothing at all.

I can't wait till the next discussion...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Slap Jack...uh, Roger

A Facebook friend posted an article about a guy that slapped another woman's child because the kid would not stop crying.

You can read the article and get as pissed off as you want to. In fact, I encourage you to get as pissed off as I did. If any complete stranger lays one hand on my kid, for any reason, that person will suffer a fate worse than death. In face, I'm pretty sure the person will wish for death by the time I get done with him.

I don't need to say any more about this, do I?