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Veteran’s Day

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Veteran's Day

11 November 2015
Today is Veteran’s Day.

History of Veterans Day

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” which stated: “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.”

-excerpted from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs Veteran’s Day site

I’d like to say “Thank you” to my family, friends and the thousands of other people who serve our country – and those who have served in the past – to protect our country and our freedoms.


Kids and the Things They Say

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Kids and the Things They Say

Tuesday – 10 November 2015
Sunday evening, as we were heading home from dinner with Sara’s parents, Vanessa started coughing. Well, “coughing” may be a bit of an exaggeration. It was more of a “cough-like throat-clearing,” but she’s been doing it for a few days.

I said to her: “Vanessa, can you stop coughing…?”

Without missing a beat, she replied: “I can’t control my coughs, like Elsa can’t control her ice magic.”

Not only did my four-year-old daughter shoot me down, but she did it with a perfectly apt analogy.

Sara and I are either totally winning at this whole parenting thing… or we’re in a whole lot of trouble.

#LifeInIT #ajobaintnuthinbutwork

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#LifeInIT #ajobaintnuthinbutwork

04 November 2015
It’s a god-awful small affair…

I’ve worked in IT for over ten (10) years. It’s a diverse field, which is something that not everyone outside of IT gets. (More on this in a minute.) Sure, there are times when I have wanted to beat my head against the wall, but that’s also true for just about any job/career. At the end of the day, I do enjoy my job.

What most people don’t consider is that a lot of what happens in IT is behind the scenes. Most people never think about IT until something is broken. Then it’s four-alarm fire time… ALL THE TIME… until the situation is resolved and everyone is happy again. (YAY!) Contrary to what might be popular belief, there’s more that goes on than “just” designing, configuring, and/or building systems. There’s also maintenance. And updating/upgrading. Streamlining processes. Creating policies and repeatable procedures.

Wait… That sounds like… almost every other job out there!

Another thing that I wasn’t quite prepared for when starting to work in IT was just how much parts of the job resemble a customer service job. While most people are actually fantastic and easy to work with, some users can be snippy, ill-mannered/ill-tempered pains in the ass. (Really, there’s no way to sugar-coat that one. #sorrynotsorry) And, just like customer service, you have to deal with them calmly and rationally.

I’ll let you in on a secret: Working in IT really is a customer service job. Users are your customers. They have varying needs. It’s your IT person’s job to identify that need and find a reasonable accommodation to satisfy that need. If that gets done, everyone walks away happy. Typically, the only difference is that if a user needs something from IT, the whole “May I help you find something?” step is skipped and the conversation starts with “Is it possible to get [problem/situation] taken care of?”

As noted above, some people don’t seem to be clued in to the fact that just because someone “works in IT” that doesn’t mean that they know everything – or even anything – about that one system you’re asking about. I am a system administrator; I deal with servers and storage. I have worked in desktop support/help desk, so I’m familiar with problems with laptops and desktops. Networking? I have enough knowledge to be dangerous there – not necessarily in a “good” way, mind you – but it’s not really in my wheelhouse, so I tend to leave it to the people who actually have more than a rudimentary clue about getting data packets from Point A to Point B and beyond. Programming? Haven’t really done any since college. ‘Nuff said.

Disclaimer: I am a team player. If I’m not elbow-deep in something and if I have some insight into how to ameliorate that user’s situation, I’ll do what I can to help.  That said, there have been more than “a few” times when a user has needed something, has gone looking for Person X to fix it, didn’t find them and then stopped to ask me about their issue. Or, a user will ask for something, I’ll explain the steps that will need to be taken and then they are ready to back down from the initial request. Those are times when all I want to say or do is… well… this:

Okay, maybe without quite so much breaking of things. But, you get the idea.

Another thing I love – and by “love” I mean “drives me full-blown, bat-shit crazy” – is when a user comes up with an “emergency” issue – one that needs to be resolved two hours ago, naturally – and I’m in the middle of another issue or project of equal or more importance. For these people, my inner monologue can be best summed up as the next twelve seconds of this:

To be honest, that has been what goes through my head in those situations for a couple years now. It also allows me to take a mental step back and address the issue at large in a somewhat reasonable manner. Without jabbing needles in someone’s neck. Usually.

Today, I discovered a new inner monologue! Someone was making a request, but was interminably rambling… without getting to the point. What went through my head looked something like this:

Fortunately, filters kicked in before words came out. And, they managed to get to their point. Win-Win.

So, the next time you go looking for your friendly, neighborhood IT person, please consider:

  1. It might not look like it, but she or he is doing something.
  2. Your emergency does not always equal our emergency… unless it’s something that will cause the entire business to come to a grinding halt. In that case, you have our immediate and undivided attention. Usually.
  3. If you have an issue or problem, explain it succinctly but don’t leave out relevant details.

This will make for a happy IT person, a happy you, and a happy work environment.


Brimful of Asha on the… 45!

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Brimful of Asha on the... 45!

Monday – 26 October 2015
I was born forty-five years ago today; it was also a Monday.

My sixth birthday…

The past year has been a good one. I have been blessed and lucky enough to have spent it among some rather amazing people and had the opportunity to do a few cool things.

In celebration of what I’ve come to refer to as “International Robert Neal Day,” I took Friday and today off. For some reason, I thought that I’d have gotten a lot more rest out of it than I did. But, when I consider the reasons that it was so busy, I’m glad that I had the time available to do so.

Friday, Sara and I dropped Team DiVa at daycare and then took a drive up Emigration Canyon to Ruth’s Diner for breakfast; I hadn’t been there in at least a year or so. After a couple of other stops, Sara dropped me at home and went off to do other fun things. I worked on a Pinstripes and Polos post for a while, until it was time to pick up Amy, who was in town for an event that I’ll get to in a minute. It was her first time back here in a couple years, if I remember correctly. We hit a few stores including: The King’s English Bookshop, The Train Shoppe, and a couple other places before meeting back up with Sara and Team DiVa. That evening, we had dinner with Amy, Russ, Gala, and a few others, but wound up missing Clitorati.

Saturday, we got up, dressed, and headed to Bountiful for Galadriel and Russ’ wedding – the aforementioned event.

#TeamDiVa2011 and @saravictorious – before the #wedding. #GaladrielAndRuss

A photo posted by Rob (@shadorunr) on

Sara was Gala’s Matron of Honor, which put me in the role of “Crowd Control/Damage Control” with Team DiVa. This came to a head during the processional, when Vanessa decided, “I want Mommy…” and began crying and getting loud about the issue. Not wanting to be “that parent,” I got her under my arm and made a beeline for the nearest exit. This didn’t help matters much. A minute or so later, my friend, Leah, came out with Diana in tow.


The girls finally calmed down enough that we were able to go back and watch the remainder of the wedding. We got back just in time to hear Topher give THE BEST wedding sermon from the Book of Batman that I have ever heard. Seriously, it was fantastic. And very appropriate for the bride and groom. (I learned later that Gala had more than “a hand” in crafting it.) As Matron of Honor, Sara also gave a lovely and heartfelt speech during the reception. The rest of the reception was equally nice and the girls were decent through the rest of the event… and I ran into a number of people whom I hadn’t seen in a long time.

We came home for a little downtime, before heading to Russ’ parents’ home for Reception 2: Electric Boogaloo. Actually, Sara and the girls had some downtime, I went out and ran errands. The evening reception was a rather informal barbecue. It was nice to let the girls run around and play – and eat a bit – while Sara and I had the opportunity to chat with adults.

Yesterday, I woke up a bit after Sara, who was awakened by Diana, who had an irritiable stomach and needed to poop. (What?! I’m a parent of toddlers. Surely, you realize that at some point, I’m going to talk about poop at some level.) And poop, she did. A lot. And often. Fortunately, as she cleared her system, her stomach felt better. Hallelujah. Most of my day was spent watching football and cleaning the train room. I can actually see the floor in there, now. We went to the in-laws’ for family dinner and came home to get Team DiVa ready for bed and for us to get ready for The Walking Dead. While I won’t go into spoilers, I will say, “Wow…” Yeah, that’s pretty spoiler-free.

Today, I don’t know what manner of mischief I’ll get into. But, I’m sure I’ll think of something. CBS is giving me – and the rest of the country – the pilot for Supergirl for a present. That was nice of them. Hopefully, the Ravens can scrape together a win for me tonight, as well. I’d appreciate that, given how this season is going.

Fourteen years later…

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Fourteen years later...

Friday – 11 September 2015
Today marks the 14th Anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as the downing of a plane in Shanksville, PA. (Last year’s post)

Please take a few moments to remember those who died, both in the attack and those who gave their lives trying to rescue/save those in the affected areas.

Something of which I was not aware, until this morning, is that the day is now/also being recognized as September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance.


I feel remiss in not knowing about it, but I also feel better knowing that it exists.



Happy 4th Birthday, Vanessa!

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Happy 4th Birthday, Vanessa!

Tuesday – 08 September 2015
Today is the fourth birthday of the “Va” of Team DiVa!

The Birthday Girl

The Birthday Girl

Happy birthday, Cupcake!

Happy 4th Birthday, Diana!

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Happy 4th Birthday, Diana!

Monday – 07 September 2015
Today is Labor Day – and I labored far longer than I had planned today – but, more importantly…

Today is the fourth birthday of the “Di” of Team DiVa!

The Birthday Girl

Happy birthday, Little Bean!

Tuesday Musings

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Tuesday Musings

Tuesday – 25 August 2015
Today is my “Monday,” due to staying home with a sick little girl (and a non-sick one) yesterday. I thought that I might be able to squeeze in a bit of work, but opted to just hang out with them. And, in my humble opinion, that was the best call. We had a fun day. And, last night, we assembled a play castle for them.

The started decorating it last night. And resumed this morning, after breakfast.

Over the weekend, we also took them on their first visits to a trampoline park (for a friend’s birthday) and to the “planet museum,” as they have taken to calling the Clark Planetarium. Both were fairly big hits, although Vanessa was definitely not a fan of the “motion” in the movie – Perfect Little Planet – in the planetarium dome. To be fair, I don’t suffer from motion sickness, but I could easily understand how someone could succumb to it while watching that film.

Stray Toasters


Geek Conversations: Thanos and Ray Lewis

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Geek Conversations: Thanos and Ray Lewis

Tuesday – 04 August 2015
So, this just happened:

Keith: Envision, if you will, Thanos doing the Ray Lewis dance.
Me: I can totally see that. Right after winking half of the universe’s population out of existence.


Keith: WOO!

(Images added for those who don’t get the references.)

We’ve got a pulse!

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We've got a pulse!

Friday – 31 July 2015
It’s been a few NBN Thursdays – and Fridays – since my last post. Figured I should get back to it.

At the beginning of the month, we went on vacation. It was a greatly needed break from the norm, for the most part. The parts where the girls got sick, we could have probably done without, though. But, seeing new family, old friends, and other relations was good. Highlights of the trip included (but were not limited to):

  • A family reunion

    Family Tree

    Family Tree

  • Seeing my parents
  • Team DiVa’s first fireworks display
  • Team DiVa playing with cousins they don’t get to see very often, other than on Skype or FaceTime
  • Setting off the alarm at my mother’s house – twice – prompting a visit from the sheriff’s department
  • Taking Team DiVa to the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the Greensboro Science Center
  • Seeing another high school classmate for the first time since graduation



  • Surprising my aunt – on her 60th wedding anniversary, no less – with an impromptu reunion of some of the kids she used to babysit and our kids
  • Catching up with friends
  • The very serendipitous meeting up with another friend, while stopped at a traffic light

Yes, there were a few so lowlights – what trip doesn’t have something go not-as-right as it could – but why dwell on the negatives?

All-in-all it was a decent trip and we all survived. I’d call that a “win.”

This will be coming under a separate post. I’ve got a plethora of backfill to cover.

For now, though, let me just say that I am still not a fan of lunges, which I did yesterday. And my glutes are “thanking” me for today.

Stray Toasters


July 4th

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July 4th

Saturday – 04 July 2015
It’s Independence Day!


Wait… not that.

This one…

Have a enjoyable and safe holiday!

Dr. Bill’s Discount Sychaiatry

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Dr. Bill's Discount Sychaiatry

Wednesday – 24 June 2015
Another No Bad News Thursday Eve is here. I hope that it finds you well.

I’ve mentioned that I was cast in Dr. Bill’s Discount Sychaiatry as part of the 48 Hour Film Project in a couple of previous posts (1, 2). Last night, there was a “Best of the Fest” award ceremony…

Some of the Dr. Bill's cast and crew with Bill Higgins (center), Director of 48HFP -SLC

Some of the Dr. Bill’s cast and crew with Bill Higgins (center), Director of 48HFP -SLC

… and Dr. Bill’s won the Best Writing Award!

McCord and the Award

McCord and the Award

Congratulations to Andrew Malin and McCord Larsen for writing such a fun – and well-received – script! This is notable as it was the second script that they wrote: They had to scrap the first one after it became apparent that the location they wanted to use was unavailable. All of this on the Friday night they received the genre and criteria… and before rehearsals and shooting started VERY early Saturday morning.

It was interesting to juxtapose the reactions at the screening last week against the ones last night. Last week, there were assorted laughs and chuckles on the right beats, but the reactions last night were bigger. I’m assuming that the reason – or at least part of it – was because last week, our film was being screened with all of the other people in our group, so there was a pretty large personal stake for each crew as to whether their film would make the cut, so to speak. Last night, casts and crews from all three film groups were there and I think that helped alleviate some of the tension. I don’t know. Whatever the reason, it was nice to see hear that people enjoyed it.

I should also note that while there wasn’t an official “Best Comedy” category, Dr. Bill’s was the only comedy shown during the “Best of the Fest” screening… so we’re pretty much claiming the unofficial title of “Best Comedy.” Because we can. Q.E.D.

As I’ve said before, the cast and crew were great to work with and just… fun to be around. I’ve heard from others in the cast that Dr. Bill’s was a really well-oiled machine and that’s why things went as smoothly and quickly as they did. I hope to have the opportunity to work with them again.

And, before I forget, click here to see the finished project: Dr. Bill’s Discount Sychaiatry

And, keep watching after the credits.


Father’s Day 2015

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Father's Day 2015

Sunday – 21 June 2015
I’d like to wish a “Happy Father’s Day” to the fathers out there. I would especially like to send Father’s Day wishes to my father and stepfather.



Growing up, like most kids, I didn’t truly appreciate my parents, their rules, and – quite possibly most important – the sacrifices they made to make sure that my siblings and I grew up in safe home environments. Looking back, through the lens of time and some nominal wisdom, I am indescribably grateful for all they did – and continue to do – for us.

I also consider myself blessed and fortunate to be able to celebrate Father’s Day as a father, thanks to these little ladies:

There are times when they can drive me positively up a wall (see: “threenager”), but I wouldn’t trade the experience of being their dad for anything.

The Art of Manliness posted what I consider a very interesting and sobering article called The Importance of Fathers (According to Science) last week. The first two lines of the article surprised me:

In 1960, only 10% of children were raised without a father in the home.

Today, 40% are.

The article goes on to give examples of life in households with and without fathers, as well discussing how children growing up in those environments often wind up. It doesn’t take a long time to read and it makes more than a few points worth considering.

I hope that the fathers – and/or those who are fulfilling the role of fathers – who read this have a phenomenal day and get to spend it in the company of those you love and love you, as well.


Miscellany for a Thursday

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Miscellany for a Thursday

Thursday – 18 June 2015
Today is #NBNThursday, but it is also my sister-in-law, Melissa’s, birthday!


And, I just found out that she’s coming to town and will be joining us for this year’s Run Through the Lavender 5k. Win-Win. She’s a bit of a runner, so she’s going to make the rest of us look bad not as good. I think I can live with that.

I really didn’t want to go to the gym this morning. Then I remembered that it was a leg day. #neverskipalegday. So, off I went. At first, I wasn’t going to do the elliptical, but decided to get five minutes on it, to get a little cardio. Then I found that the smith racks were all in use, so there went my squats – I would rather have a spotter if I was going to attempt squats with free weights. Today’s routine:

  • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 120 lbs
  • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs
  • Leg Extensions: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Leg Curls: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 120 lbs
  • Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs

Stray Toasters

  • I think that “threenager” is my favorite Sara-ism for describing Team DiVa.
  • If you have the opportunity to pick up a copy of Long Distance, by Thom Zahler, do it.
  • Tuesday night, I went to screenings of some of the short films made for this year’s 48 Hour Film Project, including the one I was in: Dr. Bill’s Discount Sychaiatry. (“Yes,” the misspelling is intentional.)

    Some members of the Cast and Crew of "Dr. Bill's Discount Sychaiatry" at the 48 Hour Film Project screening

    Some members of the cast and crew of Dr. Bill’s Discount Sychaiatry

  • By way of Coworker Brad: The History of the Carlton Dance As Told By The Legend Himself, Alfonso Ribeiro
  • I love the sheer joy of this little girl while flying with her father: First Aerobatic Flight Lea
  • I had an epiphany last night: I could move the girls’ videos off my iPad and onto theirs.
    Why it took me so long to realize that, I have no idea.


Happy Anniversary!

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Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday – 16 June 2015
Happy 36th Anniversary to my parents (well, one set of them, anyway…)!


They’ve been married for 36 years and are still going strong.

Otherwise, today’s been a pretty average Tuesday.

Made it to the gym for another #neverskipalegday workout… and even upped the weight on each exercise.

  • Squats: 3 x 8 x 90 lbs
  • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 120 lbs
  • Leg Extensions: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Leg Curls: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 120 lbs
  • Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs

Stray Toasters

Back to it.