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Thoughts from a Wednesday morning

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Thoughts from a Wednesday morning

Wednesday – 03 February 2016

Drove to Millcreek in the snow
Nine-thirty on a Tuesday night,
Just to hang with the guys at the
Comic shop.
Call it impulsive
Call it compulsive,
Call it insane;
But when there’s trivia
We just can’t
Stop.

It’s a matter of instinct
It’s a matter of conditioning
It’s a matter of fact.

Call us geeks, nerds, or
Savants.
Ask us dates, names, or publishers,
We’ll answer like that
Lost track of time and I
Wound up losing two hours. Again.

Last night, I
Went to the gym
Got a midnight workout in
So I
Went to the gym
Got a midnight workout in.

With apologies to Barenaked Ladies, that about sums up last night, after Team DiVa went to bed. What was supposed to be a quick trip to the comic shop and the gym turned into a three-plus-hour excursion. But, I can at least take a modicum of comfort in the fact that I did make it to the gym.

On the other hand, I completely bollocksed my sleep schedule. Oh, well… sacrifices.

Stray Toasters

“Once more unto the breach…”

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"Once more unto the breach..."

Monday – 25 January 2016
Another work weeks begins. I woke up this morning with the first verse of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 playing on loop in my head. That was a little unexpected.

This past weekend was good and spent mostly around the house. After Team DiVa’s ballet and swim lessons, a lot of the time on Saturday was spent cleaning up. I actually located the rest of the floor in the train room. I should really figure out just “what” I want to call it, since it’s not just my train room, but also my gaming room, and comics-reading room, and home office. And I have a deep dislike for the term “man cave.” I have called similar incarnations of rooms in previous homes the “HALO Command Center,” but I play far more Destiny and Disney Infinity these days than HALO. Perhaps I’ll take a cue from Infinity and call it the “Toy Box.” We’ll see… Speaking of the train room: There are actual trains on the tracks!  I still need to power the inner loop, but trains have been run.

Saturday night, it began snowing in the valley. That continued, off and on, through Sunday. We were expecting company for brunch, so I got up and busted out the shovel. Snow was shoveled. Brunch was had. A good time was had by all.

Later, I watched the Broncos send the Patriots back to Foxboro. I am usually only that happy to see the Pats lose when it’s the Ravens on the field, but this was a suitable proxy. Then, I watched the Panthers take the Cardinals apart. As the Panthers are my #2 team, I was quite pleased with this outcome. Next stop, Super Bowl 50!

6-let-s-celebrate_pg_600

Picture (c) NFL.com

Sunday night, we watched the return of The X-Files and wrapped up the evening with Fringe.

All-in-all, a good weekend.

Stray Toasters

  • I just learned of this version of the Spider-Man theme today. I like it.
    • A few days ago, Vanessa spontaneously started singing this:
      Spider-Man, Spider-Man
      Does whatever a spider can!
      Spins a web – any size
      Catches leaves just like flies…She then stopped and asked: “Mama, why does Spider-Man catch leaves?”
  • Thanks to my friends, Charity and Sean, for introducing me to Friendship is Witchcraft, a dark parody of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
  • I’ve made a few trips to the gym this year, so far. That’s better than the prior two-and-a-half months. I also re-learned that taking such an extended “vacation” causes you to lose a lot of progress. So, I’m finding where I can comfortably pick up and restart.
  • I had a couple of thoughts about the latest Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice teaser trailers.

That’s good for now.

Namaste.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

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"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Monday – 18 January 2016
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States.

martin-luther-king

On this Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service, we reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. through a national day of service across the country. Share your story of service throughout the day on social media using #MLKDay and follow the impact on all of our official accounts.

mlk2005_noline

The venue where I have normally done volunteer work is closed today, so I’m spending it with Sara and Team DiVa, talking with the girls about Dr. King and his work. Some of the ideas and concepts are a bit broad for four-year-old comprehension, but we do the best we can to break it down. We also found a great book that helps explain Dr. King and his mission, in language that kids can easily digest: I am Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Can Change the World). I can’t recommend this enough if you are looking for a way to introduce your young children to Dr. King.

IAmMLK

Sara and I are also taking some time to go through our things and set aside items for donation – service to our community.

Please take some time to reflect on the day and what it means and how we can work to bridge the gaps between us to build better relationships, a better country, and a better world.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Namaste.

As 2015 draws to a close…

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As 2015 draws to a close...

Thursday – 31 December 2015
It’s the end of the [year] as we know it, and I feel fine…

There were many things that I could go on about, but I’ll summarize by simply saying that 2015 was a good year.

I hope that the new year treats you and your loved ones well.

happy-new-year-2016-night-wallpaper

Namaste.

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas!

Friday – 25 December 2015
Wishing you all the best this holiday season, from our family to yours!

Team DiVa with the Sugar Plum Fairy and company. (Picture courtesty of Ballet West - "The Nutcracker" 60th Anniversary)

Team DiVa with the Sugar Plum Fairy and company.
(Picture courtesty of Ballet West)

 

Merry Christmas!

December 7th: Pearl Harbor Day

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December 7th: Pearl Harbor Day

Monday – 07 December 2015
Today is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Please take time to remember those who died and those who fought.

pearl_harbor_16203115_BG1

Namaste.

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.

Namaste.

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.

Great.

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.

911IntroGraphic

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

Namaste.

 

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

Namaste.

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.
InfinityGauntletSnap

ray-lewis-s-last-dance-o

Keith: WOO!

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