Friday, March 31, 2006


Profession upgrade: IT professional to child care center administrator

I finally took the plunge and hired a lawyer to help me research licensing requirements and grant opportunities to open my daycare. I fleshed out sort of a "manifesto" on child care philosophy, and I wholeheartedly believe that the core beliefs I have about running a business and how to correctly take care of kids will pan out.

My goal is to have funding, licensing, training, and a few possible sites picked out by this time next year, quit my current job by March 2008, and to open the doors on or before June 2, 2008. Here are some basic points that will be at the core of the business:
  • Low staff to child ratio
  • Well compensated teachers (good pay, benefits)
  • Well treated children
    • Be the child's advocate
    • Provide a healthy environment (good food, cleanliness, first aid supplies, etc.)
    • Provide a comforting environment (no prison wardens allowed)

  • Lots of room to play (not overcrowded)
    • Child care is not a market.
    • Play is a child's job

Body upgrade: Adrian Adonis to Randy Savage

I just spent the last of my annual bonus on exercise equipment that will be delivered this weekend. I've been meaning to hit the gym as frequently as possible for some time now, but it hasn't been happening due to both my own laziness, and my not wanting to be away from my kid for any length of time.

This Saturday will be clean out the garage day to make room for the chin-up bar, upright ab-crunch thingy combo, which will also expose my heavy punching bag, which has been surrounded by boxes for about 6 months.

The treadmill goes in the family room. It's light enough to be dragged out of the way (note to self: maybe move bookshelves to living room) when not in use, and if it isn't in sight all the time, I'm going to forget about it and let it gather dust, so it has to stay in a prominent place in the house. The one I bought is like one you'd find in a gym, complete with incline and a fan to blow on you (I can't decide if I think that's cool or silly).

Webserver upgrade: P2 300mhz to P4 1.4ghz

The server sitting in my closet is on its last leg. The ethernet card does not reconnect after a network outage, and ifdown/up eth0 doesn't fix the problem, and it needs to be rebooted every time. In addition, the hard drive is slowly disintegrating, and each reboot has me holding my breath when fsck runs. A few days ago there was an outage and I just couldn't get linux past the boot sequence. It turns out my keyboard was the culprit, and it was not sending my "control-D" or the complete root password when I was prompted.

So I decided to lay the little bastard to rest and use the P4 that has been unplugged for awhile. This was my Windows XP gaming computer in 2000, complete with the whopping 20 gig hard drive and 56k modem, w00t! To turn it into a decent webserver environment, I decided to go with Damn Small Linux, which is a pretty neat distro, and I'm a fan of the minimalist approach.

I just got apache working correctly (e.g., turned on during the boot sequence) last night before I went to bed, and the remaining steps are to install exim, and copy over the (now archived on a third machine after the earlier fiasco) content files. In the process, I think I'll ditch the encrypted journal, redirect calls to the main page to this blog, and just use it for private content and as a host for smaller images and cgi scripts where my low RoadRunner upstream won't be a big issue. (Of course, speed isn't an issue now, as I get about 5 or so legitimate hits a day). I hope to have everything finalized on the new machine by Sunday night.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Fork in the road

Judging by what I've seen of her interactions with kids at school lately, whatever slump Stacey was in socially has abated. She seems happy when I pick her up from school, lots of kids say goodbye to her, and kids I don't know are being invited over for sleepovers.

One such example was Haley, who came over with another girl for a Saturday/Sunday sleepover. We didn't do anything fancy, just ordered a couple pizzas and went to a movie. Stacey and the other girls were happy and animated, didn't fight, got very little sleep. It's always nice to see a smile on my kid's face, especially with new friends. As for the staying up too late, they are no doubt paying for it today at school. Fortunately, the week of BS standardized testing is over, so they can afford to only be on their B games for one day.

In other news, I just paid off my credit card, and have vowed to never use it again. I'm struggling now to get my car paid off early, and to increase my emergency account funding from the measly $2000 in there now to an amount that would actually get me through an emergency. If I stick to my budget plan, don't get fired, and the price of gas stays under $5 a gallon for a little while longer, I'll be able to meet all my personal financial goals and still help Stacey with college.

I would consider it easy money, except for the little devil on my shoulder telling me to go take risks. I've been doing some beginning research on day care expenses and crunching numbers, considering everything from liability insurance and taxes to 401k matches and field trips, and I think that I can charge a reasonable rate and still pay the teachers well. Either I'm missing something, or what I've heard about day cares only being able to afford paying teachers kibbles and running a very thin profit line is all a sham.

I want to make my escape from IT and work with kids, which I've been saying for the last 5 years, but I also have financial commitments to my daughter. Her needs outweigh my desires, so I won't take any leaps unless I'm reasonably sure I'll be successful (or at least that I'll be able to recover from). I imagine this is what creates the resentment that some parents have for their children, when they realize that they are the old generation caring for the new, and that their pleasure and freedom has suddenly come to a stop. For me, being wishy-washy about making decisions helps to avoid that potential conflict.

I've been thinking about my escape and future entrepreneurship a lot lately, and will soon make the choice one way or the other to go for it, or to stay secure in the work I know will pay well, or take the unsure road of the work I would much rather be doing. Will I choose the road less traveled by? You know, the one that makes all the difference? Stay tuned.