Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Thursday Night Something-or-other

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Thursday Night Something-or-other

Thursday – 11 February 2016
Today was supposed to be #NoBadNewsThursday. It started that way. About a hour-and-a-half into it, however… not so much. One of the servers at work decided to try a new trick:

  • It was powered on.
  • It could see – and transmit to – the network.
  • NOTHING on the network could see it or any of the traffic it generated.

And, to make things even more interesting: This was tied to a production (as in “manufacturing”) system. So, it was “kind of” important.

To quote Dr. Sam Beckett: “Oh, boy…”

I – and a couple of network engineers – troubleshot it for about an hour before we came to the inescapable conclusion that it was not a network problem. Digging into things a little further, I saw that it was pending a reboot. That didn’t solve things. Next up: Check its updates queue. There were a few sitting there that needed to be run. So I let ’em fly. Reboot 2: Electric Boogaloo. Nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true. It started rolling back the updates. (That’s usually not a good sign.) I checked update error messages when it came back up and saw that they failed because the hard disk was full. As in “Zero. Bytes. Free.” There was a good bit of cursing on my part, to be honest. Then it was a dive into the storage array and VM systems to make space appear. Then present it to the server. That all worked. Then I tried the updates again. Lo and behold, they all went through with no problems. (There may or may not have been a few “Amens” and “Thank yous” that went up at this point.) And, almost automagically, networking traffic all worked again. I verified with one of the network guys and an end user that all was right with the world again… and it was. Selah.

Part of getting through the day included being taken to lunch by networking vendors. It was not only a good change of pace, but it brought my day back from the Precipice of Doom.

After work, I picked up Team DiVa from daycare. Home. Dinner and dessert. They even got in almost 20 minutes of Disney Infinity playtime before it was time to start bedtime prep. Selah.

Carve Away the Stone
I’ve made halting steps at getting back to the gym. Last night, I considered going… then I opted out, because it was damned cold outside. I did, however, still manage to get in a bit of a workout, courtesy of my dumbbells, Swiss ball, and a couple of suggestions from YouTube. Was it quite the same workout I would have gotten at the gym, no. But, I wasn’t just sitting on my duff doing nothing, either. I’ll call that a win.

Stray Toasters

Alright, that’s it for now. I think I’m going to catch up on a show or two before calling it a night.

Namaste.

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

#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.

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.

Monday… something… something…

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Monday – 15 June 2015
The new work week is under way. Where did the weekend go?! Oh, yeah… it was devoured by doing things. But, there was a fair measure of productivity involved.

Friday night we went to Noodles & Company, at Team DiVa’s behest. (Remember that point, it comes up later.) We haven’t been to N&C for a while, mostly because Diana decided a while back that she no longer likes macaroni and cheese. This was unfortunate, as we had long been able to get a regular-size bowl of mac and cheese and split it between them. They’d eat and life was good. So, we were a little surprised when they both said that they wanted to go. As much as I enjoy the food at Cafe Zupa’s, I was glad for the change of pace. So, we were off…

Vanessa boldly asserted that she wanted mac and cheese and Diana agreed to spaghetti with alfredo sauce and broccoli. Done and Done. There was a bit of… consternation on the girls’ part, when we got them water, rather than root beer.

*sigh*

We averted total drama meltdown by sacrificing my root beer to the girls. Shortly thereafter, the food arrived: Mac and cheese and spaghetti. Vanessa looked at hers and decided that she “…[didn’t] like that macaroni and cheese!” At the same time, Diana complained that she didn’t like her spaghetti, either. (It’s spaghetti. What’s not to like?!) Turned out that she didn’t like the alfredo sauce because it didn’t look the same as the sauce we used at home. Both girls resolved not to eat dinner.

::: braincramp :::

We got past macaroni disaster after Sara! stirred the shredded cheese in with the hot noodles. All of a sudden, it was the “right” macaroni and cheese! Hallelujah! One kid down, one to go. Diana still wouldn’t eat the noodles, but she was picking some of the broccoli out and eating it… as long as it didn’t have any of the alfredo on it. In an effort to both save our sanity and avoid sitting in the restaurant for hours, watching a child not-eat, I went and ordered a small bowl of spaghetti and broccoli. A couple minutes later it appeared, Diana was appeased and dinner was eaten. And I had a lovely serving of spaghetti and broccoli (with alfredo) to go.

The rest of the evening was relatively uneventful. Mercifully. A little after 8 PM, I received a message from my friend, Andrew:

Do you want to be in a movie, playing a well-dressed asshole at the bank?

With a line like that, how could I say “no?” So, I didn’t say “no.” And that’s how I wound up going to bed at 10:00 on a Friday night, so that I could get up at 3 AM to make a 4 AM call. About an hour later, I got another message, noting a change in venue. Still a 4 AM call, though.

Going to bed so early on a Friday seemed “wrong,” on many levels. But, I did it. Or, I tried to. I had the worst time getting to sleep. By the time the alarm went off, it felt more like a resignation to just get out of bed than having gotten a decent night’s sleep. Up. Shave. Dress. Go.

I got to the location with time to spare… and kill. The next five hours were spent learning lines, prepping, and shooting the movie – a short film for the 48 Hour Film Project. The cast and crew were great to work with and made it a very pleasant experience. “Pleasant” is an understatement, actually. It was a lot fun. I’ll post more about it when I can.

At 9 AM, I was done and headed home for Adventure #2: Going with Sara! to take Team DiVa to their first swimming lesson.

Poolside!

Poolside!

Things started off well enough. Then things went a little skewampus:

  • The girls were listed as being in the wrong class – not the beginner class. (Quickly resolved)
  • After a few minutes of dangling their feet in the water, Diana decided that “swimming” wasn’t for her. The reason: “I don’t know how to do that…!” The “that” in question was blowing bubbles in the water, which their instructor was showing the kids how to do.
  • A minute or two later, Vanessa was out of the water, too. Same reason. No amount of reasoning could persuade them to go back in the water. Sara finally told them that we couldn’t go to Redfish Lake this summer if they didn’t at least try. Voila! Success! Children in water!

Not too surprisingly, by the time it was over, they said had a great time and wanted to do it again.

The rest of Saturday was a little blurry – mostly because I was horribly tired and undercaffeinated. But, nothing of great import happened. Sara! and I did cap off the evening with cocktails and a movie: The Sorcerer and the White Snake, a Korean film, starring Jet Li. It was a little disjointed – a good bad movie, possibly a bad good movie. The jury is still out. It wasn’t great, but I’m still not sure if it deserves LEGO bricks or lawn darts.

Sunday was “cleaning up” and “room rearranging” day, after breakfast and a trip to Wheeler Farm.

Playing at Wheeler Farm

Playing at Wheeler Farm

Back home for lunch, a movie for the girls/nap for me, and then cleaning! We also rearranged the girls’ room for the first time since their beds went in. They seem to like the new layout, which is good, since they can’t really move the furniture by themselves and I don’t plan on moving it again for a few months, at least.

Workout
I made it to the gym this morning for a slightly abbreviated workout (skipped elliptical):

  • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 125 lbs
  • Standing Shoulder Dumbbell Press: 3 x 8 x 30 lbs
  • Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
  • Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
  • Barbell Curls: 3 x 8 x 40 lbs
  • Wrist Curls (fwd): 3 x 15 x 40 lbs
  • Wrist Curls (rev): 3 x 15 x 40 lbs

Stray Toasters

And, we’ll call that good for now.

Namaste.

Friday’s interminable ramble…

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Friday's interminable ramble...

Friday – 12 June 2015
It’s the end of the (work) week. Amen.

It’s been a good, though tiring week, as Sara! spent Tuesday through Thursday at Altitude Summit… including being a panelist on Wednesday. This means that Team DiVa and I had to fend for ourselves on those days. We all survived the experience. And, we even managed to do an art project and make s’mores in the process. I’d call it an all-around “Win.”

Photo Jun 11, 7 47 58 PM

Photo Jun 10, 8 01 11 PM

I even made it to the gym five days this week; I haven’t done that in a few years.

Chew on This: Food for Thought
My news feeds have been full of articles about Rachel Dolezal, president of the Spokane Chapter of the NAACP and how it appears that she has lied about being Black. The story apparently came to the national spotlight after her mother outed her. It’s interesting to note that this story is not about someone adopting or borrowing from a culture, but rather has asserted, to no small degree, that she actually is a member of that culture.

What I find curious is that no one has talked about the historical precedent for the reverse of this: Light-skinned Blacks “passing” as White. For decades in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, people of mixed race and fair complexions lived among the general populace, identifying as White… or at least claiming to be, when it benefited them. For a fictional account of such “passing,” I highly recommend reading Mat Johnson‘s Incognegro (1, 2, 3).

incognegro_vertigo

I don’t know of any stipulation in the NAACP’s charter that requires members to be “of color.” Hint: There isn’t one. ANYONE is welcome to join.

From the items that I’ve read, no one is calling into question her right to be a member of – or to be president of – the Spokane chapter, which is good. The whole issue seems to stem from her racial identification.

I am most curious to see how this shakes out.

Workout
I should probably log these before I forget. Again.

Monday

  • Elliptical: 10 min/1.1 miles
  • Lat Pulldown (long bar): 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Lat Pulldown (shortg grip): 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Row: 3 x 8 x 80
  • Tricep Rope Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 70
  • Standing Tricep Press: 3 x 8 x 70

Tuesday

  • Squats: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs
  • Leg Extensions: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Leg Curls: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs
  • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs

Wednesday

  • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 115 lbs
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
  • Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
  • Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
  • Wrist Curls (fwd): 3 x 8 x 40 lbs
  • Wrist Curls (rev): 3 x 8 x 40 lbs

Thursday

  • Elliptical: 5 min/0.55 mi
  • Squats: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs
  • Leg Extensions: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Leg Curls: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs
  • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs

Friday

  • Lat Pulldown (long bar): 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Lat Pulldown (shortg grip): 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Row: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extensions: 3 x 8 x 30 lbs
  • Tricep Rope Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Standing Tricep Press: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs

Stray Toasters

I think that’s good for now.

Namaste.

“It’s lonely out in space…”

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Wednesday – 03 June 2015
It’s a sunny #NBNThursdayEve in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain.

Last night, I was putting Team DiVa to bed and, as they were getting into bed, they reminded me that “…we didn’t do a special story,” which is how I referred to Monday night’s D&D-style story. We spent the next ten minutes spinning a tale of their new adventure. (Yes, this made my inner #geekdad grin like a fiend.) They went to bed; I went to pick up this week’s comics. Win-Win.

I managed to make it to the gym this morning… after oversleeping. But, I went. I had a decent workout. Back home to help get Team DiVa ready for the day and out the door. And to get me ready and out the door, too.

Work’s been good and there haven’t been any major monkey wrenches thrown into my day, so I consider those all positive things.

Workout

  • Elliptical: 5 minutes/ 0.55 miles
  • Lat pulldown (wide grip): 3 x 8 x 70
  • Lat pulldown (short grip): 3 x 8 x 70
  • Dorsi Flexor row: 3 x 8 x 75
  • Row: 3 x 8 x 70
  • Standing tricep pulldown (rope): 3 x 8 x 70
  • Standing tricep press: 3 x 8 x 70

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
I found this quote as part of an interview with Joy Williams, formerly of The Civil Wars:

Moving on doesn’t mean neglecting my past.

I like it. It strikes me as an interesting corollary to a couple lines from Time Stand Still by Rush:

I’m not looking back
But I want to look around me now

Namaste.

Mittwoch

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Mittwoch

Wednesday – 20 May 2015
I didn’t get up this morning to go to the gym. No, that’s not entirely correct. Let’s try that again: I woke up this morning, in time to go to the gym, but decided not to do so, thanks to a not-happy stomach and a headache. I regret nothing.

At work, I called into a meeting, had a couple of impromptu business-related talks with people and apparently spaced off another meeting altogether. Go, me! The later meeting was for a software upgrade – one that I didn’t have to do – and got pushed back a bit until I got to the office. It was further delayed by some VM issues, along with a side helping of someone needing a cluster of servers rebooted. The shutdowns were easy; the reboots were not, mostly because the servers were on a VMware host whose existence I was only tangentially aware of.

::: braincramp :::
“Drat these computers…”

But, I managed to get things resolved.

For lunch, Adam, Brad, Kelsey (!), and I went to Lucky 13. There was a pretty major wait for food, but it was worth it. I went with the Hot Pastrami and Swiss Burger; I was not let down.

Now, I’m tackling an issue that popped up this morning… as a side-effect of the software upgrade. We’ll see if that takes me until the end of the day to rectify.

Stray Toasters

  • David Letterman steps down from the late night stage tonight. I’ve been a fan of his since… 1985, I think. Possibly ’84. Either way, it’s the end of an era. I wish him well on the next leg of his journey.
  • I quite liked this series of strips from Sinfest:

    sinfest2015-05-13
    sinfest2015-05-14
    sinfest2015-05-15
    sinfest2015-05-16
  • Princes of the Apocalypse is D&D’s Killer App

.eof

Monday, Monday…

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Monday, Monday...

Monday – 18 May 2015
Happy Miracle Monday (1, 2).

superman_shield

Today finds me back in the office. I enjoyed last week’s class, but it was a LOT of information crammed into five days. I appreciated the time away from “work,” but there’s something to be said for being back in the swing of things.

Of course, I would have preferred to have gotten back to it this morning, rather than last night…

I got a call, just as Team DiVa was going to bed, that a server was down. By the time I was able to log in and start looking, I got another call, from a different user, saying that another server was down.

::: braincramp :::

Once I started looking, I noted that it wasn’t so much a “server” issue as it was a “virtual host” issue. And it was one that didn’t want to let me fix it remotely. So, into work I went. At 9:30 at night.

*grblsnrkx*

After banging on things for a while, I resorted to the time-honored IT tradition of: “Turn it off and then turn it back on.” That worked, for the most part. There was still one issue that didn’t resolve. I tinkered with a few settings and got that issue fixed… at least for the time being. There’s a long-term solution in the works, it’s just a matter of timing.

Workout
This morning, I also woke up a little before 6:30, chock full of the good intention of going to the gym. I actually got up and out of bed and – albeit a little more slowly than I should have – got ready to go. I had to abbreviate this morning’s routine due to time constraints, but the bottom line is: I got in a workout.

  • Elliptical: 7 min, 0.75 mile
  • Lat Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Short Grip Pulldowns: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Row: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Standing Rope Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
  • Standing Tricep Press: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs

Stray Toasters

  • Saturday night, Sara! and I watched Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. It’s been a while since I’d seen it. I celebrated the occasion by live-tweeting it… which entertained me nearly as much as the movie itself. I think we’re going to watch Return of the Jedi tonight. I may live-tweet that, too. Because… I can.
  • Kronkiwongi
  • Who were the Forty Elephants?
  • I hope to be as understanding and willing/able to let the girls explore their choices as this mom was: Mom’s dilemma: Should I let my 6-year-old daughter shave her head?
  • As I mentioned above, today is “Miracle Monday.” The story was written by Eliot S. Maggin, who also wrote Luthor’s Gift, a short story I just discovered today. Enjoy.

Okay, back to the grind.

Namaste.

“Moving ahead so life won’t pass my by…”

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"Moving ahead so life won't pass my by..."

Friday – 15 May 2015
I should get around to writing this before it is no longer Friday.

Things have been good during my extended radio silence. What’s kept me from posting? Basically: Laziness. I’ll freely cop to that. That said, I had planned to write something this afternoon, but wound up getting wrapped up in a project and the next thing I knew,  it was time to get Team DiVa from daycare. Oh, well, better late than never. On the other hand, I got to have dinner with these two cuties, so it was worth it.

Dinner with Team DiVa

One of the good things of the past two-ish weeks has been that Sara and I have rejoined a gym. More specifically we joined Vasa Fitness, a rebranded gym that we used to go to before Team DiVa was born. We’ve been trying to figure out schedules that would allow us to both work out 2-3 times a week.

Another good thing from this week, was in a training class for work (at home!) which had an east coast-based schedule. That meant that I was up each morning for a 7:00 AM class. That also meant that my “lunch” time was around 10:30 each day. I used that time to go to the gym, instead. I actually like the idea of getting up a bit early and starting my day with a workout. My plan is to keep getting up around 6:30 and putting in forty-five minutes to an hour at the gym before getting on to the so-called “friction of the day.”

Sidenote (since I just made a Rush reference): I’ve been tracking my visits to the gym on Swarm/Foursquare with the tags #carveawaythestone. Why? Because it’s less typing than #OhDearLordHowAndWhyDidILetMyselfGetSoOutOfShape and a bit less embarrassing than #WhyDoesThisHurtSoMuch.

And, being back in the gym means that I need to start tracking my workouts again. So, let’s get the past couple weeks out of the way:

  • Thursday- 23 April 2015
    • Elliptical: 15 minutes, 1.3 miles
    • Lower Back Extensions: 3 sets / 10 reps
    • Bench Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 90 lbs
    • Inclined Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 50 lbs
    • Fly: 3 sets/8 reps – 2 sets, 70 lbs; 1 set, 90 lbs
  • Monday – 27 April 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 minutes, ~1 mile
    • Leg Raises (Roman Chair): 3 sets/10 reps
    • Rotary Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets/10 reps, 60 lbs
    • T-Bar Pulls: 3 sets/8 reps, 45 lbs
    • Standing Tricep Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 50 lbs
    • Seated Tricep Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 45 lbs
  • Wednesday – 29 April 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 minutes, ~1 mile
    • Leg Press: 3 x 10 x 60 lbs
    • Leg Extensions: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Curl: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 10 x 60
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 40
    • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 95 lbs
    • Reverse Punches: 3 x 10 x 10 lbs
    • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Wrist Curls: 3 x 15 X 30 lbs (forward)
    • Wrist Curls: 3 x 15 x 30 lbs (reverse)
  • Tuesday – 05 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 minutes, 1 mile
    • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 95 lbs
    • Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Fly: 3 x 8 x 60
    • Vertical Press: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Barbell Curl: 3 x 8 x 30 lbs
    • Dumbbell Curl: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Plank: 3 x 30 seconds
  • Saturday – 09 May 2015
    • Fitness Assessment
      • Walking High Kicks: 2 x 10 steps
      • Walking Quad Stretches: 2 x 10 steps (each leg)
      • Walking Butt Kicks: 2 x 10 steps (each leg)
      • Kettlebell Overhead Tricep Extensions: 3 x 10 x 15 lbs
      • Kettlebell Squats: 3 x 10 x 25 lbs
      • Lunges: 3 x 10 steps x 15 lbs (each hand)
      • Hollow-Body Hold: 3 x 30 seconds
      • Russian Twists: 3 x 10 x 20 lbs
  • Tuesday – 12 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 min, 1 mile
    • Smith Squats: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Press: 3 x 10 x 60 lbs
    • Leg Extensions: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Curls: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 10 x 60 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 40 lbs
    • Seated Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
  • Wednesday – 13 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 min, 1 mile
    • Lat Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • Short Grip Pulldowns: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • T-Bar Pulls: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
    • Row: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • Standing Rope Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Tricep Press: 3 x 8 x 40 lbs
  • Thursday – 14 May 2015
    • Treadmill: 10 minutes, ~0.7 mile (betw. 0 and 2% incline)
    • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
    • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • Leg Extensions: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Curls: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 10 x 60
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 40
    • Seated Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 25
  • Friday – 15 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 7 minutes, 0.75 mile
    • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 115 lbs
    • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 x 1 @ 20 lbs/2 @ 25 lbs
    • Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8 x 2 @ 20 lbs/1 @ 25 lbs
    • Wrist Curls: 3 x 15 x 2 @ 30 lbs/1 @ 40 lbs

And that was that. It’s going to take a while to get back to where I was when I stopped going to the gym, but I’m enjoying the journey so far.

Stray Toasters

  • Since cutting the cord, nearly two months ago now, I haven’t missed cable.
  • I’ve been quite pleased with and a occasionally surprised by my Comics-On-TV shows of late: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Flash, and iZombie.
  • By way of Mike B.: Space X gets certified to launch NASA science missions
  • I’ve seen Avengers: Age of Ultron twice now. I’ll see if I can’t type up a two-part review in the next day or two.
  • Team DiVa asked me to play Candy Land with them last weekend. It was, not surprisingly, the first time I’d played the game in many, many years. And, it was fun, too.
  • Check out this Flash Gordon animated short, by Rob Pratt
  • Confederates in the Jungle
  • I don’t recall how I stumbled across this item, On Being a Cripple, by Nancy Mairs, but it is a fantastic and fascinating read. It is long and, for some, might not be necessarily “easy” to read, but I think that it’s very much worth the time to read.

And, it’s well into Saturday morning, now. I guess I’ll just schedule this to post sometime after the sun is up.

Namaste.

At the work week’s end…

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Friday – 06 February 2015
My niece, Grace, turned seven today:

grace_7

Team DiVa and I got to talk with her – and her sisters, my sister and brother-in-law, and my dad – over Skype this evening. I believe that it was one of the most engaged conversations that DiVa has had over Skype.

Other things that made today good:

  1. Post-work/post-daycare with Team DiVa.
  2. An end-of-the-work-day chat with Sara!.
  3. Introducing Team DiVa to Undercova Funk before bedtime.
  4. Learning that Sana Amanat, former editor and co-creator of the new Ms. Marvel, got what are colloquially referred to as “big ups” as she was named Marvel’s new Director of Content and Character Development.
  5. Conversations about fashion and style with a trio of coworkers.
  6. A discussion with a coworker about my standing desk, her pilgrimage o The Garden of Sweden to acquire one… and the confused looks on the employees’ faces as they showed her their standing desk (much more expensive) and she kept telling them “That’s not it.”

Things that did not make the day good:

  1. Yet another email spam/virus outbreak at work. (Fortunately, we caught it quickly and got ahead of it before it became too widespread.)
  2. Not getting to eat lunch because of the above.

On the whole, I’d call the day a “Win.”

Stray Toasters

  • I am running a nominally Valentine’s Day-themed tournament tomorrow. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of teams my players bring.
  • I should comb through the various and sundry links that I’ve posted here, see if the links are still active, determine if I still care about them, and pin the worthy on Pinterest.
    • I may even move The Covet List from an Amazon Wish List over to Pinterest, as well.
  • The Pro Dumpster Diver Who’s Making Thousands Off America’s Biggest Retailers
  • It may just be the way I’m wired, but I’m not sure that I entirely agree with How Often You Really Need to Shower (According to Science)
  • Speaking of which, how often do you wipe down your kitchen counters?
  • Marvel, in other news, also announced a new book, spinning out of the upcoming Secret Wars: An all-female team of Avengers.
  • And, before I forget: Someone at DC seems to have had a rectal craniotomy and decided to make Starfire a little more palatable/accessible to readers, including those who mostly/only knew of her from the Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! cartoons.
  • I might actually be one step closer to running a new Shadowrun campaign.

Time to find something to do now that Team DiVa has finally knocked out for the night.

Namaste.

Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen…

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Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen...

Saturday – 17 January 2015
Okay, three-for-one time…

Day 15: Come up with your own Cabinet of Invisible Counselors. There are innumerable great men from history who we can learn from today. When thinking about your life or pondering some question or problem, yes, go to actual mentors and friends, but also take in the advice of men of yore. Write out who you would have on your list and what you admire about them. Having trouble coming up with a list? The comments in the post should offer plenty of ideas.

I wasn’t sure how literally to take the “take in the advice of men of yore” when I first read this. I decided to take a more “interpretive” stand with it, and thus my list will include men and women.

My list would include:

  • My grandfathers – One died before I was born, the other before I was really old enough to go to him for advice.
  • Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart – It would be fascinating to talk with them about being pioneers, despite the cultural and societal changes they faced.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X – I would like to discuss the more mundane/day-to-day struggles they faced that we never hear about.
  • Sun-TzuThe Art of War is one of my favorite books. I would want to talk with him about how he devised the strategies in the book and whether he ever considered them as having viable applications beyond the battlefield.
  • Neil Armstrong – C’mon, who doesn’t want to know not only what was it like to walk on the moon!? And he’s the second Boilermaker (Ms. Earhart was the other) list. Win-Win. Also, the challenges of shooting a tin can into space, get it to orbit another astronomical body, LAND on said body, take off from said AND return to Earth have to be many and varied. That’s knowledge and background to which I’d love to have access.

Day 16: Imagine that someone has decided to write a book about your life, just up to this point. What would the cover blurb say? Be honest here. Is it kind of boring? Are you happy with it? Now imagine what you’d like that blurb to say at the end of your life. What changes need to made for that to happen?

Yeah. I’ve been pondering this one and I’m just not sure. I don’t think that it would necessarily be anything out of the ordinary. Would it be boring? Dunno. I think that I live a kind of mundane life, but to someone else, it might be kind of out there. Am I happy with my life? Yep. No matter what I’ve been through, it’s helped to get me where I am.

Day 17: Hop on the internet and search for the biggest news stories in the year you were born. Infoplease is a great resource for this. Think about how these news stories, or even statistics, may have shaped your childhood or who you are today. For example, the year I was born, it was discovered that 98% of American households had at least one television set. I could write about how television influenced my generation, and continues to do so today, either positively or negatively.

  • Prime time football ABC begins it’s long running Monday Night Football
    I came into watching football kind of late: In my early 20s. A friend of mine introduced me to John Madden on the Sega Genesis and fan of the Miami Dolphins. I kind of latched on to the Dolphins as my first football team, despite the fact that I had grown up in and around Baltimore. (This was after the Indianapolis Professional Football Club left Maryland…) It was around this point that I started watching Monday Night Football and started paying attention to games on Sunday.Fast forward twenty years, I’m a fan of the Baltimore Ravens and the Carolina Panthers)… and the Dolphins still hold a special place in my heart. I watch Sunday games – and Monday Night Football – when I can (and when the Ravens’ games are on).
  • World Trade Center is completed

    This picture was taken in 1999. And two years later, the towers were gone. This is what I had to say on that day. I haven’t been to New York for more than a layover since then, but I would love to visit the site on my next visit.

  • First F-14 Tomcat Tested – Dec. 21, 1970: The first ever F-14 Tomcat was tested; This led to use by the NAVY for about 30 years.This was one of my favorite aircraft in my early model-building years. Top Gun didn’t hurt my love for it either. While my favorite planes today are the SR-71 and the P-51 Mustang, I still appreciate the Tomcat.

Namaste.

Day Thirteen

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Day Thirteen

Tuesday (with a little Wednesday thrown in…) – 13 January 2014
Day 13: Perform a mind dump of everything you’re worried about. From the leaky dishwasher to your family member’s poor health — get it all out. Dwight D. Eisenhower did it, and it significantly helped him manage his stress. Just as your body needs to…cleanse itself of waste, so does your mind every once in a while. Getting all your stressors on paper may alleviate some of that pressure. Use David Allen’s GTD trigger list to help you out.

With apologies to Monty Python, “I’m so worried about…”

  • Being a good husband and dad.
  • Keeping in touch with my family – here and “back home.”
  • Making time for friends.
  • Making time for me.
  • Staying on top of my health.
  • Whether or not I’ll be able to fit some travel in this year.
  • Projects around the house, now that I don’t have the Train Room as an excuse.
  • Becoming more aware of and informed about issues in the community.
  • What the Hell is still “not as right as it could be” with my car?!
  • Keeping all of the balls that I’m juggling for work in the air.
    • This one isn’t horrible, but there’s just been a lot going on over the past two weeks.
  • A proposed project (that’s actually kind of up my alley) – I just want it to go well.
  • Cleaning up my queue of work requests.
  • Managing to get – and do well in – upcoming training.
  • “…the baggage retrieval system they’ve got at Heathrow.”

Namaste.

Day Eight

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Day Eight

Thursday/Friday – 08/09 January 2014
I was so intent on relaxing after work this evening, that I completely forgot about today’s challenge… until I had been in bed for a couple minutes. But, not wanting to skip a day, I got out of bed to do it.

Day 8: Take some time today to reflect on your career. Jot down a timeline of it, including all the ups and downs. What was your best experience? And the worst? What would you like your future to look like, in terms of your career? If you’re a young man and haven’t started in yet, focus on that future part. What do you want your work to look like?

Work timeline (very high-level view)
I have worked for:

  • Architecture firm (high school internship)
  • U.S. Postal Service (service employee/supervisor)
  • A friend’s auction management start-up (IT/Operations Manager)
  • A tech startup… that wound up getting acquired by a larger – much larger –  company (IT)
  • A consumer good manufacturer (IT)

I don’t know that I’ve had a “best” and a “worst” work experience. There have been good and bad points at each job. There were things that I loved, as well as things that I absolutely hated. Could I name them? Sure, but looking at the breadth of them, I can say this: All of the experiences have served as places and positions of learning and have helped mold me into the employee that I am today. To borrow a verse from Headlong Flight:

All the journeys
Of this great adventure
It didn’t always feel that way
I wouldn’t trade them
Because I made them
The best I could
And that’s enough to say…

I’ve found that I quite enjoy working in IT; it was something of an unexpected and unplanned career path, but it’s also been a good fit for me. I’ve been fortunate to be in positions learn about and work with current and emergent technologies. And, while some of it’s been a lot of “work” – and has had me nearly at wits’ end on occasion – it’s been fun. Besides, who doesn’t love a good challenge?!

I’d like my future to continue to chart an upward course. Would I like to “get out of the trenches” and into a management track again, someday? Sure, if the right opportunity presents itself. For now, though, I’m happy with what I do.

Namaste.

“America. It’s Beautiful.”

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"America. It's Beautiful."

Tuesday – 04 February 2014

black_history_banner

I was at a bit of a quandary about what to choose for today’s Black History Month entry.

Until yesterday morning.

There are many fine options for choosing an “A” entry for my first post of the month:

  • Abolition
  • Achievements
  • Africa
  • African Americans in the Civil War
  • Art

…to name a few, not to mention the names of the famous and the not-so-famous. But none of those struck the chord in me that today’s topic did. What is it? You already know. Or at least, you know if you were paying attention earlier.

Today’s topic is: America. More specifically, it’s “America. It’s Beautiful,” But, I’ll get back to that in just a moment. First, I’d like you to take a few minutes to enjoy this:

That was the late Ray Charles performing what my brother-in-law, John, has deemed the finest rendition of the song America the Beautiful. I’m inclined to agree with him.

As I said above, my topic for today’s post is “America. It’s Beautiful.” And it is, in many ways – ways that I think that this attempted to demonstrate:

The Coca-Cola Corporation attempted to show that America is more than just a world superpower, it’s a country that is made up of a diverse collection of people. In a sixty-second spot, they showed people living out their lives and dreams. (Many of the images featured a Coca-Cola product or logo in them, but it’s a commercial, after all.)

America is full of many great things. It has been called “The Land of Opportunity” for hundreds of years. One of the first sights that greeted immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries was the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island in the New York Harbor. In the statue’s base is a plate inscribed with the poem The New Colossus, which includes the following lines:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

What better way to welcome people to their new home?

So why is it that nearly 150 years after those words were written, it seems that we are no longer a country that welcomes those yearning for something more or tolerant of those who are different? There was a great uproar on the Internet (I know, I know…) over Coke’s interpretation of America The Beautiful, mostly because it dared to present the song in languages other than English. If you’re curious as to some of the things said, please take a look at Speak English!: Racist Revolt As Coca-Cola Airs Multilingual ‘America the Beautiful’ Super Bowl Ad. There, you can see a handful of examples of the dark undercurrent of what America has to offer.

I asked a few people what their thoughts on the commercial were1.
(NOTE – Some comments include language that some may find offensive)

  • My brother, Adam (African-Amercian male, married to a white woman, with two biracial children), had this to say:

    Oh sweet fucking mercy. Xenophobic cock monkeys who are so insulated in their own little world of white picket fences and car pooling need to get a life. America is – and always will be – a land of many colors and creeds. Lest we forget: the Pilgrims and every other blonde-haired blue-eyed [person] was an illegal alien at one time, just ask the Native Americans they disenfranchised.

    I wear a uniform of a country that practices stop-and-frisk in its major cities and wear it with other men and women that John Q. Sixpack would call a “terrorist,” because they pray to a different God. Don’t be shined when people say we need to return to old-fashioned values, what they mean by that is when whites had their own schools and people of color were subjugated and lived in slums at the expense of the white elite.

    I can’t walk down the street holding my wife’s hand in Fort Collins, CO without some white women grabbing her purse. Women, please, do you know how much I make?! But if she saw me in my flight suit, she would shower me with thanks and praise. Sometimes, I just want to smack people for being so repulsive. What… you can’t be a Jew, Muslim, or any other religion and love this country?

    I hope that answers your question.

  • My brother-in-law, John (Greek-American, married to my sister, with three biracial children) offered up this about the Coke commercial, as well as the Cheerios commercial that preceded it:

    My first thought on the Cheerios commercial was “kid was cute. Commercial was boring.”

    My first thought on the Coke commercial was, no joke: “OK, how many nanoseconds is it going to take for the morons on the Twittersphere to lose their minds with collective grammatically incorrect diarrhea?”

    I liked the commercial. I thought it was sweet, well done, benign, and forgettable. But sadly I knew there would be the usual willfully ignorant vocal minority who use the ‘net as a megaphone for their stupidity.

    So here’s the deal — I’m not sure why folks choose to focus on a friggin’ commercial for bubbly sugar water (or before that, a cereal that nobody eats after the age of 9) as a vehicle for their imagined grievances.

    I like to think the younger generation is more tolerant — or at least, don’t see any of this as more than the side show it is. This thought is probably true…but again, the internet is a grand megaphone for the stupid.

    Ironically, nobody seemed to notice the Coke ad also had a gay couple in it. They were too busy bitching about ‘Murca and how it apparently is going down the tubes because someone had the nerve to sing in another language

    Overall — much ado about nothing. It’s what we do best as a country. But for the record, oh ye willfully ignorant — and yes, I’ll continue to refer to them as willfully ignorant, because that’s exactly what they are — not stupid, not ignorant, but proudly and willfully ignorant — America the Beautiful is NOT our #$(&ing national anthem. Our national anthem is the one about bombs and war. So there’s that.

    And one last thought — you remember the old Chris Rock routine about blacks vs. n****s?He goes off on an epic rant about how n****s love to NOT know. How do you think these same ignorant idiots would react if black folk went off on these similar rants? Pretty sure we’d hear the word “thug” and some blather about race cards, some epithets, etc. Because…well…BLACK people. YOU know.

  • My friend, Chris (White male, married to a Brazilian woman, with one biracial child) had this to say:

    Seriously, I liked it. I like that song more than most of the blind patriotism songs, and I thought it was well done, but not surprising for a professionally made commercial. But didn’t think it was all that memorable. And now I really think the screaming was the point, to MAKE it memorable.

    I saw something today on a friend’s FB feed, that the song was originally called, O Mother dear, Jerusalem, and the songwriter was a lesbian. So the “tradition” card is trumped, right at the start.

    I think that it demonstrates very well just how much racism is still around, and how comfortable the racists are about being very vocal about it. No shame at all.

    It seems to have really overshadowed the screaming over the mixed-race family in the Cheerios commercial, although that’s happening as well, of course.

    I went on to ask him a few related questions and got very candid responses in return:

    Rob: Did you catch any blowback when you announced that you and your wife were getting married?

    Chris: None at all, but mainly because my mom was NOT a raging bigot, and she and my brother were really the only family I had at the time.

    My grandmother was senile and living with relatives in Brigham City (north Utah) who probably would have disapproved, had I said anything to them. But I had cut all ties with the Mormons years earlier.

    Rob: What’s it like being a mixed family in the (top part of) The South? Do you find difficulties in dealing with some/many neighbors?  And how about raising a mixed-raced kid in the south? 

    Chris: I was a bit worried, but no problems that I’ve experienced. My son looks like a little Aryan (genetics are weird), and we’re in a fairly liberal spot anyway, just north of Chapel Hill. Lelia has run into some anti-Hispanic stuff at some of the stores, when she was there alone.

    Neighbors – our neighborhood is really damned diverse. We moved in partially because there was another Brasillian woman living in the neighborhood, and we met a couple who were African-American and African-Panamanian, and they introduced us to all of THEIR friends…

    About raising a mixed-race kid – I think I WOULD be concerned about it if Marcus looked more Brasillian. I’d certainly feel like I had to warn him to be careful. Even in an area this relatively-liberal, there are a lot of Tea Party types. As it is, though, I’m more worried about him looking so typically white-American when he visits Brasil. Huge kidnapping risk, in some ways.

  • And, what was quite possibly the most expressive – and tongue-in-cheek comment – on the commercial came from my friend, Maddox:

    FUCK YOU, COCA-COLA! I want all the singing in my commercials to be done in English while I watch African-Americans play a game that evolved from Rugby on my Japanese TV!

    Those familiar with his website know that Maddox has a keen eye for the goings-on in American culture and is unafraid to challenge them head-on. While his commentary is often acerbic and brusque (and usually humorous), he doesn’t pulls his punches when skewering those things that he finds absurd and ridiculous.

America really is beautiful, despite the thoughts – or possibly the unthinking, knee-jerk reactions – of some of its citizens. Take time to explore it and the documents that were created to make this the country that we call “home.”

Also, take time to reflect on the fact that we’re not just making Black History.
Or White History.
Or Asian-American History.
Or Hispanic-American History.
Or Arabic-American History.

We’re making our collective history; let’s make sure that it’s a story worthy of being told.

Namaste.

1 – Opinions expressed in the comments above were those of the commenters and do not necessarily represent their employers or any other agency.