A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 2003

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Winter
At the moment I'm writing this I have every hope that this year will be better than last both for our friends and loved ones, as well as ourselves. Some of the cataclysmic things that have happened to friends and family over the last year were hard on them and on us. We can only hope it'll be better ...

On the bright side we're seriously considering a trip to Hawaii with Don and BJ this spring. This came about because at CJ's company's Christmas Party she won a small travel bonus ... and BJ's really good at finding good prices for things. So we're thinking about taking a week in late February or March ... scheduling looks like it'll be a bit tricky, but we all want to do this, so we'll find a way to make it work.

SCA
Twelfth Night - January 4 - (the event at the beginning of January) came and went, the Golden Stag Players did an amazing job, especially considering the difficulties we had. That statement sort of short-changes the work and the performance. All I can suggest is to see the website for the players and click on the link for "A Tale of Two Squires".

Carolyn managed to get through Francesca's Laurel ceremony (her last apprentice, and this one was difficult ...).

I am not quite sure why, but I was given a Queen's Cypher by Cyneswith before she stepped down. That was pretty special. It's an award given for helping the Queen out during the reign. I cannot think of anything special that I did for her, but ... she is a thoughtful lady, and I'm proud of it.

In the real world ... the Cast Party for the play done on January 4 is being held on Saturday the 11th, and then Carolyn is flying out the next morning to Texas for a week again. Sigh.

A Small Reality Check: Went to lunch on the 7th of January at the best local Chinese restaurant in the area, and got a fortune cookie with this fortune in it: "You have so much to be thankful for." Maybe it's the cosmos telling me to 'quitcherbitchin' ... I know my life is far from the worst it could be, I suppose I ought to work on my attitude about it ... (I also realize that fortune cookies don't tell a person's fortune, etc. I find them interesting, but this one while pretty generic is a bit humbling - I realize a lot of folk out there have harder lives than mine. Having a reminder about that once in awhile is not a bad thing.)

The cast party for our play (Jan. 11) came and went, and was a lot of fun. Nearly everyone involved in the show was able to be there, we watched the video, had some really great food (there are some good cooks in this group), good yucks ... good chance to do some post-mortem of the play before taking six months or so off.

A bit later, while Carolyn is in San Antonio again for work ... (boy, that's gotten tiring fast!). We've worked out all the important details for our trip to Hawaii (travel dates, where we're staying, airline tickets ...), of course there's all the minor ones (some clothes, I need sandals, that kind of thing, not to mention making sure someone checks on the house, cats, mail while we're gone). The trip is still far enough in our future that we have time, but we're so jazzed about it that we're looking at books (loaners from Don and BJ who have been there a few times) and trying to get an idea how much we can cram into the week we'll be there.

An email out of the blue -- an old friend of mine John McKay stumbled across this part of my website, and contacted me. That was pretty cool -- he filled in some blanks on names I couldn't remember (I'm horrible with last names in particular), and some details, and promised to get back in touch with me, so hopefully I'll get more ... I always liked hanging out with John -- some of the earlier sections of this bio have been updated with information John has sent me (1975-1978). Unfortunately after a few emails he stopped writing (I assume life got him and has him busy ...). Hope to hear more.

January 22: Yesterday and today word has arrived that an old friend, who unfortunately we haven't seen much of, died yesterday morning of bone cancer. Carol Furey (Caroline O'Cainnigh in the SCA) was a very sweet, lovely, bright woman. She was quiet, but had a wicked sense of humor which most people didn't see much of -- but once in awhile she'd say something that folk could hear. There were several times (that I'm aware of) that she messed up a whole group of folk with a single sentence (by causing hysterical laughing fits). She had a lot of life in her, and struggled for many years against the worst case of arthritis I ever saw. There were times she could hardly walk. Despite all that she was always positive when I saw her. I knew her because of her relationship to Kevin, her husband. Before her arthritis got really bad, she was an artist of some talent, and she worked with the heralds in the SCA. They have a daughter, but I only really met her a couple of times. Her death was not a horrible surprise, but it was still sad to hear about. She will be missed, even though we hadn't seen much of her for some time (she and Kevin were not going to SCA events). I hope Kevin can handle it ...

End of January (Friday, 31st ...). Been a strange month, but things keep trundling on. Income taxes are just soooo much fun to deal with. Decided this year to try to catch up to the digital age. While I've been using a software package for years to handle our taxes, this year I tried to do an electronic filing. I wasted the $15 fee from Intuit. The IRS data and mine don't match perfectly (for all I know something is off by a penny, but they don't tell you what things should be), so I ended up printing the darn forms and mailing 'em again. Figures. Mailed the IRS forms today, and when the refund from them comes in, we'll pay the state taxes we owe (I hate that -- no matter how we plan, we always end up owing state taxes).

On other fronts there is not much to say. The year is off to a start. We (Carolyn and I) watched the President's state of the union speech a couple of days ago and were apalled. It sure looks like no matter what happens, we're (the US, not CJ and I personally <g>) going to war with Iraq. Bush really wants this -- I think he is hoping that a win in a war with Iraq will get him a second term in office. Stupid. Sigh. I love all the rhetoric from Bush -- he talks about all these things he and his administration are going to do (huge budget items) and also talks about huge tax cuts. Um ... how are we going to pay for all this? Not to mention the war ...? And once again the republicans put the US into a deficit. (Note that while I am ranting against the republican party, I am not registered with any party, I am completely independant, don't let any political party tell me how to vote -- I vote on candidates/issues based on my specific feelings about them, not the way some group of people feel I should vote.)

Oh well. Enough of politics, its not my favorite subject anyway. I'm not a really political animal, but I do try to keep an eye on things. So, that's it for the first month of 2003. We're talking with Don and BJ on and off about the trip to Hawaii, and getting all excited ... the condo we're staying at is paid for, the plane tickets are paid for, and of course vacation time is scheduled. Since they've been there before they know what kinds of things are fun to do, and all that. We're planning on a few things - specifically to see the volcano, to visit Mauna Kea, and I'm hoping to go on one of the whale watching boat trips (CJ's not as keen on this, not because of the whales but because of boats). It sure sounds like it'll be a blast.

Feb. 1 -- A very sad day. The shuttle Columbia went down. At this point, the folk at Nasa aren't sure what happened. Basic conjecture is that during liftoff one (or more) of the heat tiles on one of the wings may have been damaged from a minor collision with one of the booster rockets. The shuttle was returning from its mission. There were seven astronauts on board with no survivors, including an Israeli. Sigh.

Personally, I hope no matter what is discovered that this does not curtail further missions to space. I agree very much with folk that mankind needs to get out to space. I know there are people who feel that it's a waste of money, but ... as J. Michael Straczynski points out in Babylon 5 (a no-longer-on-the-air Science Fiction TV show, season one, Michael O'Hare's character - Commander Sinclair makes the point), at some point the sun will go out (or go Nova or ...), Earth will no longer exist, and all of mankind's works will be for nothing (Jimi Hendrix, Picasso, whatever art or other accomplishments you think are man's best), unless we get to the stars and have other places for our species to be.

The current space missions may not look like we're getting out there, or at least not fast enough, but as long as they continue there is hope ...

Feb 2nd -- We had a series of small earthquakes (3.5-4.2), but I gotta tell you, watching things fall off shelves in the grocery store is disconcerting, and of course the cats are both a bit freaked. Sheesh. As far as we can see no damage, though. (Later: no damage, all's okay, just a bit shaken up.)

Moving along ... a few days after the earthquakes ... I was watching, believe it or not, a cooking show (the Food Network is kind of fun sometimes). One of the cooks who was preparing for a school reunion with some of his "mates" (he's British) remarked something along the lines of (this is a paraphrase because I didn't write the comment down) "When we're young we take our friends for granted. Later after we've moved on we miss them." It's true ... I found that out when I started writing some of the early parts of this (particularly the high school and years after high school bits). That's why when a few of the folk have contacted me (Greg, John, Adrian ...) I've been thrilled ... my friends were important to me, and always have been, even though I did take them for granted at the time - I am trying to not do that now and in the future.

Feb. 10 -- Heard from Adrian Dube, who found this site through another High School friend Eric Johnson, who was looking for Ted's name through Google. Corrected her husband's name, and added some comments from the email I got from her ... Hope to hear more. It sounds like she and Karl are doing well. Carolyn is in Texas yet again for work. This time she forgot to pack a skirt, so first thing this morning I had to go to the post awful and over-night her skirt for her. (She feels a bit weird at business meetings wearing jeans.)

Have heard from my niece, Rose, by way of her husband -- she's been stationed somewhere in the middle-east, in preparation for the probable war that Bush wants to have. Sigh.

Feb. 21 -- Feeling a bit fried at my company. We're having more funding issues, and my paycheck, due on the 16th, might be deposited by tomorrow, but most probably on the 24th, that being Monday. This is not looking good, and frankly I'm concerned about whether or not we're going to survive. I hate commuting, and I hate job-hunting, but I may have to do both again. Sigh. It's a bit depressing, to put it mildly.

Feb. 28 -- well, Carolyn and my wedding anniversary (on the 26th) was nice, quiet, but nice. We went out to dinner, had a very nice dinner, and came back and were vegetables at home for the rest of the evening. On other fronts, I am even more concerned about the job situation, as once again, my paycheck will be late. It's getting harder to want to actually do any work, with the paycheck being late and not being sure if it's going to be there each pay period. Of course, trying to get a new job a few weeks before going on vacation for a week (one I am NOT going to kill, since the big expenses are already paid for and are non-refundable) is a bit touchy, too ... Otherwise, things are going okay. CJ's job is wiping her out, but it's mostly because she understands the ins and outs of what she's doing, and a lot of the folk she's working with don't, and unfortunately, from what it sounds like, don't want to know it that well. She often puts in 10+ hour days ... I'll be glad when her current project is done.

March 6 -- I thought I'd take a look at the items I'd mentioned at the end of 2002 about things going wrong for people ... just to show things can right themselves to some extent (and to give myself a bit of hope, I guess):

So, all in all, things are looking up a bit. Now if my company can get its act together, and start making money, I'll be really stoked.

March 20 -- Well, last night Bush started bombing Iraq. I am sorry to see that war had to break out, and that it was caused by the U.S. I think this is a dark day for the world, and for our country.

Today's the day we're making our final preparations for our vacation to Hawaii -- I won't be uploading this until after we get back. Those preparations of course include cleaning the house, preparing to be gone for a week, spending some time with the cats. We've hired someone to check on them daily, rather than boarding them -- we met with her last night and she seems to be a nice woman, and she's been doing this for 15 years now (bonded, insured, etc.). And of course today I have a staff meeting for work. Timing is real fun. CJ's big mondo project she's been working on for a year now is hitting some major "fu" (bad stuff), and dates for the project have been shifted so that it's all hitting the fan about now -- but the vacation's paid for. And my company is starting a public beta just as I am going on vacation -- figures. We're bound and determined to enjoy ourselves and not think about work, though.

When I do upload this, I should have some details of the trip. We've been looking forward to it, but there's now a bit of a shadow over it, what with the U.S. at war. Sigh.

March 29 -- We're back from vacation, and had a great time. If you really want to read about it, see photos, etc., check out this page:
Ken and Carolyn's Hawaiian Vacation.
It was a lot of fun ... I've scanned some of the photos. I operate the way some folk do -- take a LOT of photos, some of them will end up being worthwhile. That's about how this turned out ...

April 1 -- Now that I have the photos taken care of, until CJ decides to put some time into making an album of the photos from our vacation, I guess I'm done with them, and I need to force myself back into my old patterns (like, oh, exercising in the afternoons ... sigh). Work's being a bit slow, and of course the latest paycheck is running late again. This doesn't bode well for our surviving.

April 7 -- got a few more photos for the Hawaii trip from Don and BJ, including a good one of me on the whale watching trip, and some other nice shots. I'll try to get those uploaded in the next few days.

We saw the off-Broadway touring company production of "The Producers" on Saturday with Don and BJ, and laughed so hard it hurt. The play is even better than the movie, and the movie has always been a favorite. We had purchased the tickets almost six months ago (it's the only way to get decent seats at a show these days) ... It was hysterical. If you get a chance to see the play do so, even if you haven't seen the movie. If you have seen the movie be prepared for some dramatic changes in some of the roles as well as some changes in the plot. I'm not surprised this play won all those awards (12 Tony Awards, the Tonys being the Broadway version of the Oscars for the movie industry) ...

Sunday was Carolyn's aunt's 80th birthday. Her aunt (who she was named after) is a pill most of the time, but she was in her element, lots of her friends were there. She seemed genuinely surprised that family members showed up, but was pleasant to all of us ... The fun thing was that Carolyn's brother, sister-in-law 'Becca and children Stephanie and Patrick were down from Seattle, too. Always a kick seeing them, the kids are too cute for words (with the caveat that the best thing about them is that they're going home with their parents, not us <g> -- while Carolyn and I adore Bill and 'Becca's kids, we're not parent material).

April 18 -- Not much to add, but felt like something should be said in here. In theory my company may actually have some real investors, but to date it's been vapor as far as I can see. The worst thing is that our current investors have reached a max-out point (not surprised). If we don't get something by the end of this month it may be over. So I have no idea what my job status may be in the near future. I am hanging in because I like the job, but am being driven a bit nuts not knowing if I have a future at all.

On a different front the folk who've been hosting the SCA Web Server for our group are having life issues and moving away in June. This may mean that at least one of my big projects (the SCA History Website) may go away because I can't afford to pay for the hosting that would be necessary for it, and if the Kingdom isn't going to pay for it, then I don't know who will ... it just figures, don't it? The best part is that while it's a fairly large website in one aspect, in another when I back up the local copy I am using just over half a CD ... so it's not that big physically speaking, but it is too large to post on my own server space (goldenstag.net hosted by Earthlink) without paying huge fees for that much space. I already pay nearly $60 a month for the webhosting I'm getting, and with my job situation being a bit iffy, that's a lot of money.

April 21 -- Sigh. Another week with CJ in Texas for her job. How frustrating. I mean, at least she has a job, and the company really appreciates her, but still ... it does get to be annoying. A week each month until this project is done, and it was supposed to be done awhile ago, but of course dates have slipped ...

April 30 -- End of the month. My 46th birthday came and went very quietly. CJ and I went out to dinner. We watched some movies ... that's about it.

Speaking of movies, while I don't normally post movie reviews, this one's worth watching in the theatres, the review is by Carolyn:

A Mighty Wind (review from April 27)
Just go see "A Mighty Wind" if you haven't already. Ken and I just saw it today, and we laughed our butts off at it. It truly is the "Spinal Tap" of folk music. "There's a mighty wind a-blowin', it's blowin' equality... and it's blowing you and me". Also, "The Catheter Song". And the bands! "The Folksmen" "The New Main Street Singers" and "Mitch and Mickey" who are parodies of, respectively, The Kingston Trio, The New Christie Minstrels, and Richard and Mimi Farina, with bits of the Limeliters and Ian & Sylvia thrown in. Christopher Guest totally nails the patented Glenn Yarborough Vibrato (tm), which I remember from my Mom's record collection ("Baby, the Rain Must Fall") and that some of you may remember from those cheesy Rankin-Bass "Hobbit" cartoon specials from the seventies.

"A Mighty Wind" is based on an extended sketch on Saturday Night Live that Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer did in about 1985, a few years after they'd done Spinal Tap. They created The Folksmen for that sketch, and it was a scream. The premise of the film is a reunion PBS special focusing on three folk groups from the early sixties, and Eugene Levy (who co-wrote with Christopher Guest) and Catherine O'Hara almost stole the show as Mitch and Mickey.

Anyway, we give it four thumbs up -- we'd give more but we only have four hands!

May 2 -- This morning Carolyn is getting ready to go to an SCA event, which I am not interested in going to because of the weather reports (80% chance of rain, winds up to 30 MPH ... camping in that?). She's going with Valerie and camping, staying in Valerie's tent. But seriously, I have never liked camping in the rain (even from when I was in the Boy Scouts), and I dislike it even more when I'm at an SCA event. I realize rain is part of life, but ... not to mention I'm just plain tired of rain. The last month we've been getting more rain than sunshine it seems, and the rainy season in northern California is usually over by now (with the hills turning brown ...). The advantage is that there's more green than usual ... On the SCA side it's a bit frustrating, as we missed March Crown because we were in Hawaii, and we missed the next major event in the area because we saw The Producers. C'est le vie, I guess. I'll get to see some folk next weekend at Mists Investiture.

In email this morning I got a photo of John McKay with his two cats, which I am sharing (below). John has started a blog (web log), which can be seen at: http://johnmckay.blogspot.com/. The blog is partly why I haven't heard from him in a bit, although I imagine that he's just a busy guy, like always.

Job-wise, well, our CTO believes that the chances are quite good (75% chance) that the venture capital we've been hoping for will come through after a demonstration of our software, and some of the folk on the Board of Directors finally understanding what the software can do ...

Anyway, I have the day off today because initially I was planning on going to the SCA event I'm avoiding. I'll probably go see the premiere of X-Men 2 today ... CJ'll be a bit miffed, but not horribly, we already talked about it. If it's any good I'll be more than happy to see it again.

Later: X2 was pretty good. It was more complicated than the first X-Men movie, but that isn't necessarily bad. More action, which was probably necessary. I enjoyed it, but like most sequels, I don't think it was as good as the first. I'll probably see it again with Carolyn and maybe my thoughts on this will change. I like what they did with Nightcrawler (although the markings he scratched into his skin were a bit weird), and there were some other good bits. I'm sorry that they only tantalized us with Colossus, and they didn't give him a Russian accent. Some interesting bits with the story, and they left some things open for a sequel (X3), including ... well, if you haven't seen it, I don't want to spoil it.

Next on the list of "must see" movies is "The Matrix Re-Loaded", which is the second of three movies ... After that, it's hard to say. This summer has a lot of stuff happening, but who knows what will be any good? This year is pretty heavy in the "Comic Book Genre" movies -- "Hulk", we have already seen "Daredevil", and I seem to recall at least one more, but maybe my memory is off. Last year we had "Spiderman" (and a sequel is in the works for that already). Several science-fiction/fantasy movies, of course the "The Return of the King" -- the third part of "Lord of the Rings" will be out around Christmas. So there are things to look forward to. It would be nice, however, if the studios could put some more work into original stuff, but if they are on a run, they are on a run. I guess we'll have to wait for the independant folk to come up with the really original movies.

May 17 -- if anyone has been checking this more regularly than I've been updating it, sorry. There hasn't been all that much to say lately. CJ got back yesterday after yet another week in Texas. When will that end? Oh well. Today she's out with "the girls" -- It's Valerie (Frazier)'s birthday, and so they went out to do something together, with Lyn Gillespie (SCA: Kira Leonovna Zemnodushina), and I think with Erin Moody (SCA: Francesca von Hesse) to go do a museum thing, and all that. When she gets back (hopefully around 5ish) we're heading over to Pleasant Hill to catch The Matrix Reloaded (I have tickets already via "Fandango" -- an online service).

Last weekend we did an SCA event on Saturday (investiture of a new Prince and Princess), and then CJ had to pack for the trip. But on thursday night I took her to see X2, so we managed to get that in before she want to Texas.

The last few weeks have not been very busy for me, except in the SCA Website area, which I handle a few different things. They've kept me at least a little busy. Not much else going on, though.

Work's still plodding along. Part of the reason it's been slow is that Alan, the CTO and chief developer of part of the product (the part we really need to get done) has been ill and a few weeks ago got hit by a bus in his car. He's had a lot of pain, and possibly some torn ligaments in his knee. Having been through knee problems, that's gonna be just loads'o'fun. Anyway, I came in on the end of the manager's conference call the other day, getting ready for the regular R&D meeting, and heard the CEO of the company finishing a sentence like, "... so hopefully this time next week we'll all be smiling." Now, that of course doesn't say much, but it does tend to make me believe that some ground has been made on venture capital. At least, I'm hopeful ...

In the "keeping busy" department, this morning (while CJ was out with 'the girls', see above) I took photos of all of the needlework that CJ's been doing over the years that she's had sitting in bags in the closet, and so on. These will go on the SCA History website in the art section. I've also over last week spent a lot of time reading and typing some collections of work (writings -- plays, poetry, songs, political rants ...) by a not-as-active member of the SCA who's moved away from our area, with the hopes of being allowed to publish those works in the near future. I've contacted the man, but haven't heard anything back. It was a fascinating read, however, and I sure hope I can get permission to make his stuff available. The most recent works of his I have are from 1984, but most of it still resonates today (both in and out of the SCA).

May 19, 2003 -- Got an email out of the blue from Mark McWhirter who found me doing some searching on the web. Had a few pleasant emails. Seems he was living in Stockton for a couple of years, which isn't that far from the Bay Area. Figures. He's now living in Wisconson ...

May 21, 2003 -- the following email is from Mark McWhirter, sort of catching me up on the last ... years.

So I was reviewing your 1980/81/82 journal - life seems to fit together more when seen in perspective.

I am sorry you had to go through that time with Jeanne, but the clues were there, in hindsight. Not at all saying you should have known, it just put pieces together for me. (Well, next I offer the cut and the lemon juice.)

Speaking of troubled memories, I also saw the pic of Thibault there. She's pretty bright to have graduated so soon. I have regrets on how I handled myself with her, but 'que sara sara' - I am sure she's gotten well over it, although I would apologize if I ever met her. I wasn't emotionally ready to have a relationship with a 17 yr old, and dealing with her mom.

Well, the long stories have started....

I don't remember the year we lost contact with each other, but I am thinking it was in '85. I was living in Soldotna, and eventually got married, and had two girls. We're still together after 17 years, and enjoying each others' company. Here's a concise chronology:

Dec. 1984 - Leave Anchorage for Soldotna
1985-86 - Have series of small jobs, including college instructor, programmer, office manager, movie consessionaire, cannery hand, etc. Married in Oct 1985 to Joan
86-89 - Work at B.P. for a security project on North Slope, and live in Soldotna
89-92 - Work series of seasonal computer jobs. Anna was born 9/28/1989. Emma 4/5/1991.
92-94 - Work in Anchorage, and take extension university courses at night. Earn B.S. and M.S. in computer science
94-96 - Work for international consulting firm. Promoted to managerial positions, work 80 hrs a week, and have a stomach operation for a hiatal hernia. Fired (over protest of most of company), and rest. (Had decided to resign, but was beat to the punch!)
96-99 - More computer contracting work.
3/99 - Move to Stockton, California. Start work for a computer software firm, Alldata.
00 - Six months later, resign and start work for PacWest Telecom, where I worked for a couple of years.
2001 - Moved back to Homer, AK for three months, then back in Soldotna. Worked contract jobs telecommuting, and for old friends. Worked contract positions in St. Louis and Stockton.
Oct 2002 - Decide to take an extended trip in a 30' RV with my wife Joan, two preteens, a dog, a cat, and two rats. Go through Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico for 7 months, and then decide to take trip to Wisconsin, along the way seeing Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Iowa.

That is the synopsis. By the way, have you ever saw the wall poster that has this downhill skier plowing through a pile of hay? It's entitled 'Ski Iowa!' I always think of that poster whenever Iowa is brought up.

May 26 -- This has been a family weekend (in a good way). Carolyn's mother turned 70 today, but we had a birthday party for her at the Wente Vinyard in Livermore on Saturday. Lots of family, including Bill and Rebecca and their kids. It was very nice, even if one friend of the family brought their son and grandchild even though he wasn't on the invitation list ... Gail (Carolyn's sister) arranged it all, and we went down to her place before the party, and went back after. Stephanie (who is now five) used me as a kind of "Jungle-Ken" ... it was fun, although I'm still a bit sore from overworked muscles. She's a sweet girl, and her brother's a nice kid, too. Carolyn's mother is doing pretty well, which is good.

Yesterday we went to Don and BJ's and spent the afternoon through evening hanging out with them, which was nice. Due to work and such, we've hardly seen them since we saw The Producers, and they're good friends. So that was good.

While we were visiting Don and BJ my niece Rose (David's daughter) called, she and her husband are planning a road-trip north in June to see my mother, Rose's mother, and then back to San Diego. We got home late enough that I didn't call then, but had a pleasant talk this morning with Rose. The timing is a little difficult for their trip, but it's one we can work around (we have a major SCA event the next day, camping event, etc., and normally we'd be shopping for it, and all that ... but we can deal with all that). This is the first time I will have seen Rose since she came by my apartment with her father and brother ages ago when I was in Berkeley. She said "I haven't grown much ..." as a joke. I'm looking forward to seeing them, meeting Daniel (her husband), and getting to know her a bit. They plan on moving to Florida in a few months (once her term in the Marines is up), so it's likely I'll have even fewer opportunities to see her after that.


Summer
Okay, I realize summer officially starts on the 21st or 22nd of June, but ... well, it sure feels like summer around here, with temperatures ranging from the 70s and up during the daytime. So there you go ...

June 2 -- late last week I got an interesting email from Adrian that got me thinking a little. She said that someone who had read at least part of this bio in Anchorage called her and said something about being surprised at how much influence she had on me at that time. (She didn't catch the name of that person, so I don't know if it is someone I remember or not ... if you're out there, feel free to drop me a note ...)

This got me thinking, and I core-dumped a bunch of stuff on Adrian, but the basics are that I believe that in our adolescence (Jr. High, High School, and the years following High School) we influence each other more than we realize. Our parents of course have some influence, but I think that our friends have more -- because we're all going through similar things. We're growing up, trying to find our identities, etc.

She also noted: "I know for me, you were always a sunny warm person, even when things were obviously not going well in your life, and that was something that I remember of you and appreciated then. It's the positive things from the boy scout experience, to face life with confidence (even if sometimes it is only on the surface) and to be generally kind to others (a lesson that I struggle with at times)."

This kind of surprised me when I read it, and I stated that I didn't remember myself that way, that I was just as full of angst as everyone else that I knew. But later, thinking about it a bit (and talking with my wife about this discussion), I realized that I've always been drawn to the positive side of things. Yeah, I have gotten a cynical side over the years, and it can be fairly harsh (both toward me and sometimes others, although I try to curb that ...). However, I have always wanted to feel good about myself and others, and because of that I've tended to put that face forward more than the cynical side. I like to be around happy, laughing, fun people. Some folk tend to go the other direction, which I find amazing. I find happiness much easier to deal with than despair, angst, etc.

Adrian also asked about "... what is it that brings us at this time in our lives to reach back to those connections from our youth?"

I thought about that one a bit, too. Our youth, no matter how angst ridden, except in some very hard/nasty/rare (hopefully) cases, tends to be fairly care-free. Hell, even the two years before I went to College after graduating High School and I was working, living in an apartment, all that -- were still fairly care-free. The life of an adult hadn't caught up to me yet. I know a few folk who in their forties haven't really gotten into the adult responsibility phase of life, and I find that a bit sad. That's a different thing, though (the so-called "Peter Pan Syndrome" -- I know some who refuse to "grow up" and deal with the "real world" ... it is sad, really).

What I'm trying to say is that I think that as adults, we have a lot of cares and worries, and it's easy to feel nostalgia about a time that really was, for the most part, pretty care-free and fun. I'm not saying that being a teenager was a cake-walk -- for most of us it's not. However, compared to adult life where we have to deal with car payments, keeping a job (when you're a teen getting fired isn't a bit deal), house payments (if you've reached that point), taxes, all of that; life as a teen was a breeze. And really, there were some good people then, and it's easy to see why we want to re-connect with some of them. As noted above, some of those people had major impacts on our lives. So, yeah ... there's a reason for it. It's nice to be back in touch with some of the folk that I hung out with in school and after, it brings back good memories (for the most part) and it's nice to know that they're okay, too.

Finally, Adrian said she'd been reading John McKay's blog, and he called him self an expatriat Alaskan, but still felt like an Alaskan. "... and was also thinking about what it must be like to live somewhere else -- he makes some reference to considering himself an Alaskan, even though he doesn't live here anymore. Being someone who came back after college, and really hasn't lived anywhere else, I wonder how you decide to live somewhere else -- how do you make that decision, and start totally from scratch?"

Having done that, I can honestly state it's not an easy thing to do, I was in my late 20s when I moved. While I have lived outside of Alaska longer than inside of it, I will always have ties there. Like John, I moved to Alaska while in school (wasn't born there), but I was there through the big part of the "formative years" or "finding one's self" years ... I think that makes a big difference. If I had been there a couple of years and then moved again, I probably wouldn't have the same feelings.

As to how one makes the decision? In my case it was made for me. My then girlfriend wanted to leave Alaska, she was there for me and had planned all along that she was going to bring me back to California with her. For John, I can't say. For me it was a mother-****** to deal with. I left all of my friends except for Donna. I moved to a place I didn't know anyone, and didn't have a job. That was hard. As noted elsewhere it made it really hard for Donna and I to stay together because I had such a difficult time with it.

I truly felt like a "stranger in a strange land". Obviously I've adjusted. I think that the older you get, the harder it gets to make a huge move like that. And of course, if you're someone who never settled for long in one place, it would be easier to move in such a way ... different people, I guess. Anyway, it's hard to answer that one. I don't know if I could tell someone how to start from scratch like that, since I did it so badly. I've been adverse to the idea of leaving the Bay Area, as I've lived here as long as I have. Carolyn's company keeps trying to convince her to move to Texas (where the one branch of the company relocated a few years ago). She uses me as an excuse "He doesn't want to ...". It's true, I don't. (She doesn't either, but it's easier to use me as an excuse for this ... -- her best friends live here, her family is nearby ...) The only places I could envision moving these days are possibly the Seattle area, or back to Anchorage. Anchorage would have its problems -- retirement there would be hard, chipping ice off sidewalks at 60, 70 ... even older would be a pain in the butt. I might be able to see myself living in Hawaii, but I'm not sure about that. I suppose I shouldn't say "never", but "not too likely" is pretty good.

Well, so much for the philosophical stuff for today. I should try to get a little work done ... <g>

June 9, 2003 -- Well, we had another busy, but nice weekend. The work-week prior was pretty tough for Carolyn as the current project she's been on has been a real bear. She's been working 10 and 12 hour days for way too long. She finally talked to her manager about it, and that may lighten up, but I'll believe it when I see it. In the course of last week, she got the schedule for her monthly trip to San Antonio, and it kills our camping at the next major SCA event we wanted to camp at (June Crown), as she has to fly out gawd-awful-early on Sunday. Sigh. Figures.

The weekend started with dinner Friday evening. There's a nifty little pasta shop in the mini-mall near us that has pre-made dinners that you can pick up, with things like ravioli in various types (chicken, beef, cheese and some others, I think spinach ...), lasagne (haven't tried that) and other things, and something like 10 difference sauces, salad, and bread. You take it home and do some minimal cooking (for the ravioli it takes maybe 15 minutes to have dinner ready to go), and you're done. I did the ravioli for us, and we had a nice dinner, drank some wine, watched a movie, and she got to mellow out a bit.

She had to work Saturday morning, and when done we did our grocery shopping. Then we went out to have dinner with some friends and see Oak, Ash and Thorn. We did dinner with Jeremy Fletcher and his wife Dawn Malmstrom (SCA: Wulfric of Creigull and Donata Ivanovna Basistova), and my ex-girlfriend Donna Green-Tye, her husband Andrew Tye, and Donna's best friend Toni Whyte (SCA: Juana Isabella ... etc., Ivar Hakonarson, and Geneviève de Vendome). If you've read previous stuff about these folk that I've written in the bio, you'll know that I think very highly of them, and we had, as expected, a great time. As usual, when we see an OAT performance, a lot of old-timer SCA folk showed up, some not really active any more, and some very active. There were a couple "blasts from the past" for me that were fun ... Heck, Dawn Davidson, my former girlfriend was there with her husband Mark. That was a bit weird, if you think on it -- two former girlfriends and my wife in the same room (my wife gets along great with Donna, and is fine with Dawn, so that's okay, but is a bit weird) ... Anyway, OAT was really on Saturday evening, and did a fine show and as noted we had a really good time.

Sunday was a mellow-stay-at-home (mostly) day. We had planned on seeing A Mighty Wind again with CJ's sister Gail, but it turned out it doesn't seem to be playing anywhere near us now. That's a shame, because Gail hasn't seen it. But, that's okay. We went to a late-lunch/early dinner at a local restaurant, and then we watched some HBO shows (Sopranos, etc.) with Gail ... so that was a good "down-time" day for both CJ and Gail, who both needed it.

June 16 -- okay, payroll is late yet again. Sigh. I really wish my company would either get it together or go under. One way or t'other, this nebulous twilight zone stuff is a bit much.

In the meantime, interesting weekend. Friday evening we saw Don and BJ and Don's nephew Håkon (pronounced Hokan ...) who is Swedish. He's out visiting for a few weeks, and Don's taken time off work to take him around and do things. He's a pretty funny kid (he's in his 'teens), but it's not surprising considering he's Don's brother's child. We did dinner and hung out until fairly late, like we do with Don and BJ.

Saturday was a house warming (or House Swarming) at the duplex house that Donna and Andrew bought the upper half of, and Jeremy and Dawn bought the bottom half of. Nice place, and we got to see lots of people and schmooze (one of my favorite things to do).

Yesterday was a "stay-at-home" day, which was good, because I haven't slept all that well, and the temperatures were getting up into the 80s, so I did some stuff on the computer, and then alternately read and slept most of the afternoon. Good thing I slept last night ... mostly fairly hard, but I think it all caught up to me. Anyway, yesterday evening we watched the first Lord of the Rings movie again (the extended version). It still wows me. We can hardly wait for the second movie to come out on DVD (in a few months the first release, then the extended one in November); and of course the third movie, which is the finale.

June 20 -- well, Rose and Daniel arrived Wednesday afternoon, and left this morning (Friday). It was a really nice visit. For those trying to keep up, Rose is my brother's daughter, making her my niece, and Daniel is her husband. They're doing a little trip up to Oregon and to Idaho, to visit family -- because in a few weeks they're moving to Florida, where Daniel has a job lined up. Rose is getting out of the marines in a very short bit, and that's when they're leaving for Florida, she's taking some vacation time now.

Anyway, it was a very nice visit, they stayed at our townhouse, and we went out to dinner Wednesday with Carolyn when she got home from work. Thursday we wandered over to San Francisco using BART, and then to the Golden Gate Park, and specifically the California Academy of Sciences, using Muni in San Francisco. Yes, we could have driven, but Daniel was interested in using mass transit, and I think they were being nice because I hate driving in SF. We had fun in the park, and wandered off after seeing most of the exhibits at the Academy, to the Japanese Tea Garden, which was very nice and tranquil and lovely. When we got back (with some minor misadventures on my part -- not reading signs quite right -- figures) we ordered pizza, which arrived just a few minutes before Carolyn got home from work.

I was almost sorry to see them leave this morning, because we had a really good time. My impressions of both of them are that if they rely on each other, and keep their sense of humor up, they seem to compliment each other quite well. They're both quite intelligent, and seem to have their feet firmly planted on the ground, and I think that they'll do well in their lives. When they get to Florida, Daniel's going to the police academy for the training he needs for that job, and she's going to College ... sounds like they have things worked out pretty well.

On other fronts ... normally CJ and I would be out camping (camp would be up, we'd be considering making dinner as I type) at June Crown (SCA), but she's going to Texas Sunday morning at the usual gawd-awful-early-in-the-morning time frame for work, so we're "day-tripping" the event. She'll be out for the next week. Sigh. It just figures. Well, that's it for catching up at this time ...

June 30 -- well, June Crown (SCA) came and went. We day-tripped and it was fine. CJ's latest trip to Texas came and went, with a bit of trepidation on her part, because she was concerned that if she didn't agree to move to Texas or spend even more time there, she was going to be killing her career. She called one of her managers here in the Oakland office where she works most of the time on Friday when she got back and asked about that, and was reassured that there was no problem on that front.

That's good news, which is really nice to have right now, because my company is so close to tanking it's scary. Our current investors aren't willing to pay full salaries now, and so everyone on salary gets an additional 20% pay decrease for the next six weeks or so (that's a total decrease on top of my current 20% decrease from my original hire rate, if you do the math, of 38% of what I was hired on at ...). Shit. If the attempt to bring on some new investors comes through, then in theory we go back up to what we were before this current decrease, but not to where we were two years ago.

That particular proclamation pissed some of us off so bad that I (at least) complained to the CEO. Even more fun, I got an email back telling me that threatening him wasn't going to do any good. My manager was copied on that, and he wrote back a very nicely written and detailed letter explaining that treating the employees of the company, particularly those who've been with the company from day one, as assets, was a really bad idea ... I guess we'll see what kind of fall-out we get from all that.

So, I've literally started dusting off and reworking my resume. Damn. I am not real happy about it, but I am going to have to start preparing for the fact that I may not have a job in a couple of months (or less) ... This whole thing of course has got CJ even more on edge than me, if that's possible. Add to it the fact that with a new lease due on the townhouse we're at, the rent went up (nothing like it did with our previous landlord, but that still hit us at a bad time) ...

The paycheck that was due on the 16th won't be here until July 2. The one that's supposed to be here on July 1 ... well, I dunno when I'll see it. This is getting really frustrating.

And we've been having close to record, if not record-breaking temperatures lately. It got up to 105 degrees the other day. Even with the air conditioning going it was really warm around here. The cats looked like they were dead, until you pet them ... and even then they only reacted with minimal energy. And that's about how we felt. The temperature has dropped quite a bit (right now it's supposed to be around 75 outside, but it's not that easy to tell ...). Due to everything combined lately I haven't been sleeping as well as I'd like, and my stomach's a bit twisty inside ... I sure hope this gets resolved soon. I almost don't care which way the job situation resolves -- one way or the other, just get us out of limbo.

"As private parts to the gods are we. They play with us for their sport." -- Lord Melchett -- Black Adder II

We watched a bit of Black Adder over the weekend, and that just hit me over the head, and I felt like quoting it ...

July 7 -- After the weekend. The Fourth was nice, nothing to write home about, but it was nice. Gail invited us to a friend of hers' place in San Ramon, because she only knew the friends, who had family over, and she felt a bit out of place. It was nice for her to have someone she knew there, and since we had no plans ...

The Golden Stag Player picnic (Saturday) went well -- everyone had a good time, and we discussed scripts for our next performance in January (we only rehearse once a week, and won't start until September). Sunday was great for Carolyn -- she went with Valerie and finally got shelves for her art books, which have remained in boxes the last year. Now they're out ... she's much happier about that. The problem of course is that art books tend to be heavy, so the shelves I have from Scandinavian Designs (basically laminated pressboard), which work fine for paperbacks and "regular" sized hardbacks, video tapes, etc., are not going to stand up to the weight of her art books -- they'd collapse in a month or less. So, she paid quite a bit more for a couple of units that are tall (7+ feet), solid wood, very adjustable shelves, etc. Looks good, and our dining room wall has disappeared behind them. Now she can find things when she's doing research, rather than shifting boxes around. The cats are disappointed because their "stack of boxes" is gone, and it was a favorite sleeping spot. Oh well ... Now if we can get the various framed art up ...

July 10 -- Carolyn took a couple of extra days off from work after the long weekend (planned in advance), because she was extremely stressed out. She broke down earlier in the week and yelled at someone on the phone, and nearly had a nervous breakdown. The pressure's gotten bad at work, and I think she's finally gotten someone to realize how bad. So, she's more relaxed ... she did some artsy stuff, and worked on an article for a class she's teaching later this month for the SCA, and got to really unwind.

I realize some folk may not be real familiar with Kevin Smith's movies, but you've probably heard the titles "Clerks", "Mallrats", "Chasing Amy", "Dogma", and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" (which makes very little sense unless you've seen the others). For a belated birthday present Gail (Carolyn's sister) got me a gift certificate for Amazon and I got the first three movies, and I broke down and got Dogma from them ... it arrived on Monday. This one's the "Special Edition" version, and it has a huge amount of deleted scenes, and more. If you haven't seen "Dogma", I highly recommend it -- it's Smith's best movie to date, although there's a lot of good stuff to be said about the first three movies, especially "Chasing Amy". However, if you're offended by cursing, well, maybe you shouldn't watch any of his movies ... <g> His characters tend to swear a lot. But oh well. The movies are really funny for the most part, and "Dogma" was astounding ... I just felt like plugging the man's work. For more details on what he's done, and what he's doing, visit The View Askewniverse ("View Askew" is his production company).

July 12 -- So, last night was a bit odd. Carolyn and I sat down to watch a dvd we'd rented, after having a nice dinner. We were about halfway through and we started hearing lots of fire engines, but since they were going past our place, we didn't think much about it. Then someone started hitting our doorbell continuously. I opened the door looking a bit confused, and it's this woman from the complex, one of our neighbors, and she told me the fire waas near and I should pack up my important papers, throw them in the car and leave. Wha'?
     Carolyn and I looked at each other, stopped the video, and started checking things out. Going out the front, we could see nothing that appeared to be a problem, but we could see reflected light from an emergency vehicle's flashing lights. So we went out the back. There were 7 or so fire engines lined up, with their lights going, but no sirens. Carolyn went out and looked and walked down the street a way with our immediate neighbor, an older gentleman who is a lawyer. They walked up the hill a bit to see what was happening. A grass fire, which the fire department had mostly under control. The trucks were lined up because they were sending them one at a time to dump their water on the fire. We kept paying attention for awhile, and eventually decided there was nothing to panic about. If it had been as serious as the neighbor had told us, the fire or police departments would have been sending someone around to tell us what they suggested we do.
     So, we had some excitement. Since it's now the next day, the complex hasn't burned down, the fire engines are all gone, I guess it's under control. We finished the video, went to bed, and slept ... no big deal. The cats were understandably freaked a bit with all the rushing about, but all is fine. Weird.

July 14 -- Except for the strange Friday evening, the weekend was fairly normal. We (Carolyn and I and Don and BJ) saw Disney's Pirates of the Caribean, which is their movie based on the ride at their theme parks. Cute. Story could have been less predictable, and such, but it wasn't bad, but I'm glad we paid matinee prices rather than full price for it. We did a late lunch with Don and BJ before seeing it, and after we just schmoozed at our place for awhile.
     In re-reading things, this is becoming more diary than I expected it too. I hope this doesn't bother anyone reading it unduly, and I'll probably back off some of that. I meant this to be more of a summary of my life, rather than all the little details.
      John McKay's been having fun in his blog lately, really lambasting the president and others "in charge" for poor behavior. It's been some fun reading. And that's about it ... we watched some rental movies, did some futzing around the house ...

July 21 -- Mellow weekend, but the heat's been frustrating. I got up this morning (Monday) and planned on exercising. By the time I was done with my stretching and warmup exercises (sit-ups and such) I was sweating. I looked at the temperature and it's already 76 degrees at 7:20 A.M. I could probably have done the Nordic Track at that temperature, but my intestines are not happy with me this morning either. Figures.

I did a huge coding project -- just "because" -- that took a major part of the weekend ... I wonder if anyone will use it? Oh well. One never knows when you do these things. It's a huge interface for the Borland Database Engine, to read/write registry entries, and/or create programs that can be inserted into a developer's code to write registry entries (just for the data engine).

I heard from Dawn Davidson (a former girlfriend), with a nice chatty, friendly message. She did say some things about our days together that I thought I'd share:

Kinda surreal, reading your account of the time where our lives overlapped, and finding old pics of me up on the web there. Then again, I suppose that makes sense, because it was a surreal time for both of us, I think.

I want you to know that I still think of you with fondness. When I see stag's heads on anything, I invariably think of you. You mention the fact that, in the process of that whole confusing mess, you hurt me. Even though you don't really talk about it in your writing there, much, I'm equally certain I hurt you. And I regret that, Ken. You're a good guy; you were always a good guy. We were both confused and on the rebound, and found each other to help each other through a very difficult period. I don't blame you for anything you did at that time, and I hope you can find it in your heart not to blame me either. I knew even then that you felt more strongly about me than vice versa, and it was a hard place to be. I so very much needed companionship, and you appeared to as well. I cared for you deeply, even though I didn't think that we would make a good marital match. I'd like to think that, despite all the weirdness, that I contributed to your life in some positive way(s). I have many positive memories of the times you and I shared, and am proud to own a "Hirsch original" cutwork Laurel medallion, for those rare times these days that I might need to wear such a thing. Who knows, maybe at some point, I'll get back into doing some SCA stuff, and wear it more often.

It took me a bit to respond to the message from Dawn, because I am still a bit uncomfortable around her, but I have worked through the anger a long time ago. I think the lack of comfort is that I still feel a bit hurt, but I'm not really sure. It's weirder when her husband is around, as I think he's still jealous of me, but I could be mis-reading him, too. I am not sure how he could be jealous, he's married to Dawn, I'm not. <g> And again, I could be misreading him, or perhaps even projecting some of my own feelings onto him. (Dawn tells me she thinks I'm just projecting ...)

On other fronts, the Golden Stag Players have narrowed the play we're going to do down to one, and we're gearing up for auditions in a couple of weeks, followed by rehearsals in just over a month. Once more into the fray, and all that.

That's about all ... time to go shower, and actually get some work done.

July 29 -- Well, the week and the weekend have come and gone, and I'm almost recovered from a sleepless (but fun weekend ... see indented stuff as it was an SCA weekend. Because we camped, and all that, it's taken me a couple of days of recovery. Guess I'm getting older. It doesn't help that it's been a hot summer this year. It routinely breaks 80 degrees inside the townhouse, and I know it's warmer outside. While 80 may not seem much to some folk, to me it's horrible, and anything higher is worse. The only reason it was acceptable in Hawaii was the cool breeze off the ocean that was almost constant. Here, well, sometimes there's a warm breeze, which doesn't help at all. Sigh. Oh well.

SCA: This weekend was the Kingdom's Arts and Sciences "Tournament" (I really do wish they'd quit using the term "tournament" for the name of the event ... while there is sometimes fighting, there's no actual tournament). The point of the event is to hold Arts and Sciences classes.

I was asked to teach a protocol class, and no one showed up. Sigh. That's rather disappointing. Carolyn taught two different classes and had a decent turnout for each.

We left for Fort Ord Friday morning, expecting a three hour drive, and it took two. That got us there an hour before the site was officially open. However, since we were not camping in the main teaching area (some folks tents were coopted for classes), we were allowed to set up. This meant we could reserve the large amount of space needed for the "slum" we ended up with. It was huge, but it worked out great. Our own household had only four of us, and we ended up without much problem with people being underfoot, and all that. That included a miniature pony, and two huge dogs (well-trained, their owners were delightful folk, who are good dog people ...).

Over the evening folk showed up, and got set up, and so on. The biggest weirdness was the fact that we couldn't have a fire, because there had been a big one the week before on the Fort, but not near where we were. But they were being cautious, which we respected. It just seemed weird to not be able to have candle-lanterns, candles at all, flames of any sort ... except the coleman stove so we could at least cook. Got to sleep late, because I just wasn't ready to go to bed until late. Strange.

Saturday morning, classes started, I had first class session, but no students. Oh well. I went back to camp with a friend, and we schmoozed, and I spent most of the day there, schmoozing with a variety of folk, including those in our camp, and those who wandered by. Not a bad way to spend the day.

After dinner, we watched Juan, our former apprentice, take his first apprentice on formally (we were informal with Juan, it's all a matter of style, and what the individuals feel is appropriate). There was a nice little ceremony, an oath of fealty was sworn between them, they promised to teach and learn, and all that. Now Aldith and I have a "grand-apprentice", as it were. Silly, but what the hell ...

Owen had written a song about the Golden Stag Players, which he presented, and we howled, it was very funny. Once he emails the words to me, I'll be sending 'em out to the troupes ...

Same problem with going to bed late Saturday night ... I think maybe it has to do with the fact that I was just enjoying company and direct human interaction. I spend most of my days at home, by myself, working. I contact a huge amount of folk via email, both work, and other, and sometimes I talk to folk on the phone, but not all that often (usually work). So it means I don't get out much, and I don't see people face-to-face much ... I guess I miss it more than I thought. <g>

Sunday we did much the same thing, and after Carolyn's class is done we packed up, and met up with some of the folk we camped with at Denny's in Scots Valley because we were hungry (ants had gotten into the lunch food ... sheesh), before heading all the way home. All in all, a good event, but I was fried (red eyes, could hardly move ...) when we were done unloading, and just barely kept my eyes open through The Sopranos ...

I am a bit frustrated with being asked to teach classes and then not having students, or only having, say, 1 student show up. I'm thinking maybe I should just take a break from teaching at SCA events for awhile ...

Oh well, on the apprentice front, it gets really silly, as I mentioned before, with Aldith (Carolyn) and I having a "grand-apprentice", I didn't note her name -- Ghislaine d'Auxerre. Juan has taken her on as apprentice to learn magic, and/or whatever else they decide. The even funnier bit is that her husband, James Andrew MacAllister (Jim-Bear), has taken on as apprentice another friend of ours Moira Ramsey, which sort of makes her, if you're charting a family tree, Ghislaine's cousin, and I'm not quite sure how the relationship works for the rest of us -- I tried to work it out and gave up. Anyway, it's fun, and I'm sure that Juan will do a good job as a Laurel in this area. I'm not saying that as a "because he learned from us ...", but simply that I've watched him over the years, and I think he takes it seriously enough to do a good job. He'll more than likely do things differently than we did with he and Rose (his wife), but there's certainly nothing wrong with that, just different. I think on that front we pretty much expect he'll do things differently, because he's "gotta". <g>

August 2 -- I just finished reading Spider Robinson's latest novel, Callahan's Con, which of course was fun, silly, and had some wild-ass stuff that shouldn't have worked, but it's Spider Robinson, and in his own way things always end up making sense.

The only problem is that Robinson decided to have one of his major characters in this series of books (The Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series) die of a brain tumor. He tells you up front about halfway through the book (well, the character tells Jake, the narrator ...). You figure that like usual the story will take a twist and somehow a cure will be found. Only ... it doesn't. While I am sure that Robinson is dealing with the death of a loved one in this way, it is still startling to lose a character that you've been reading about for 20 or more years, and have grown to love as much as the other characters in the book love him. This is similar in my mind to when Anne McCaffrey has the Masterharper Robinton, who was in the series from the beginning, die at one point in the Pern series, or for those familiar with the Star Trek series, the second movie (The Wrath of Kahn) where Spock dies. It was a jolt, and I cried ... (just like I did for the other characters mentioned), even though I know they're not real. Sniff. Sigh. Bummer.

R.I.P., 2003, Doc Webster ... it was fun.

I guess the hard part for me is that it does bring death into clearer focus. I've lost people I knew, but except in a few cases it's never really affected me that much, usually because I didn't know them that well. In the SCA some of the early members of the group have died in the last few years, and that's affected me a bit, but for the most part I didn't know most of them, they were mostly names associated with specific events in the history of the SCA. I guess what surprised me is how much the death of a fictional character would affect me ... I suppose as time goes on, and as I get older, I will start losing folk closer to me, it's inevitable. It's still not easy to deal with the idea, but ... everything that lives, dies. It's part of the cycle. I think I'm done with philosophy. Maybe I should go watch a comedy flick ... <g> I need to smile ...

August 4 -- Odd weekend, but what the hey. Besides having a small cry over the death of a fictional character that surprised me (see above), we had auditions for the next couple of Golden Stag Player (my acting troupe) plays, the first of two sessions of auditions. I expected more folk at the first one, but I think that some folk decided that since there were two, they'd go to the second and do other things yesterday.

Not much else to report, except that I have fun checking in on John's blog (http://johnmckay.blogspot.com/) periodically. Some of his most recent stuff is pretty interesting ... I've known about the creationists trying to insert their version of "science" as "Intelligent Design" for awhile. Sheesh. They want this taught in schools alongside Evolution and real science. John discusses it quite well, and says it better than I could. John's always been more interested in politics than I have, but I do keep an eye on what is happening out there, just so I don't feel like an uninformed moron. John is much more involved and pays more attention to all the hard-core details. I get the impression he's having a field day with the fact that Bush has finally admitted to lying (not being factual ...) about the reasons behind the war, and all the other lies the guy's been telling. What surprises me is how many people still support him. Americans are way too much like sheep, I guess. Sigh.

August 11 -- Weekend report (that's when most of the interesting stuff seems to happen lately). Friday morning, Gail (my sister-in-law) went running, and saw a cat get hit by a car (hit and run). Being the friend of cats that she is she had to do something about it. There was a guy there who saw it and didn't know what to do, so she took charge, and they got the cat to her vet. The cat turned out okay, but it put a small damper on Gail's weekend, and since we were going to Knocti Harbor to see Heart (more on this in a bit), it was even more sad. Basics: the cat pulled through okay, and Gail found (at the first house she tried) the owner of the cat, got them to pay the vet bill, and all is good. Whew. Anyway ... this meant we got off to a late start.
     Getting off to a late start meant horrible traffic in several places. Sigh. Oh well. This year (we did this last year and two years prior) we were able to get a room at the resort itself, rather than going into Lakeport (or whereever) and using a hotel there. This had several advantages, including the fact that we could walk to our room from the amphitheatre, and if we had something to drink, we didn't have to worry about driving.
     Concert Summary: of the three times I've seen Heart live, this is the best performance I've seen. Three years ago, we saw Ann and Nancy Wilson doing a tour, just the two of them. And they were good. But ... and last year the lead guitarist wasn't really into it. This year, everything was good. The lead guitarist (new guy) was really on, and Nancy had fun "playing" with him, they did some great back and forth, and had great energy. Anne's voice was in great shape, and it was just a really good concert. I think getting a standing ovation before they even played probably helped their energy levels ... but no matter what, it was a good show. They performed a lot of their big hits, some covers (several Led Zeppelin, including Battle of Evermore ... wow), and some songs from the album they're working on. After it was over, we walked back to the main lodge building, got some nachos and drinks at the "Classic Rock Cafe", and then went back and slept.
     The next morning, we got up, had breakfast, and did the wine-country "thing". We only stopped at our two favorite wineries, Milat, and Peju Province because Gail wanted to get home and see if the cat was okay, and all of that. These two wineries are both good, and their wines are quite different from each other. Milat is much smaller. They both have websites -- I am not sure I've seen wine from Peju in the stores, and Milat can only be gotten either from their website or in person ... The folk we talked to were fun, and all that, and we bought a bunch of wine. It's fun to get wine directly from the winery, because you can taste them first, and some of them change from year to year. The first time we stopped at Milat they had a really nice, almost desert wine, that they haven't had since, which is too bad, but oh well. Anyway, we got home, Gail went home and dealt with the cat, and all that got taken care of. We spent the evening being vegetables, watching a couple of movies ...
     Sunday rolled around, and we had the second set of auditions for the Golden Stag Players. Again the the turnout was small, but we had a couple of new folk, and we can cast the play for 12th Night, but I'm not sure about the smaller (larger cast, but smaller play) I wanted to do as well. I'm still trolling for folk for that ... sigh.

August 12 -- Yesterday's paper noted that Gregory Hines had, presumably the day before, died of cancer. What a shame. He was a great dancer and performer. I was lucky in that I got to see him live as a birthday present from Donnna years ago, in San Francisco. I am sorry to hear he's gone. So last night Carolyn and I watched The Cotton Club in memory of him.
     On the GSP side of things, I am not sure I'm going to have a cast for the smaller play, and am struggling a bit to fill in the roles on the larger one, although I now think I can do it. I was concerned last night ... I'm gearing up for the idea that the players may be done soon -- it's not easy for me to deal with. It's been a large part of what I've done in the SCA for the last 12 years, but ...
     On the work side of things, still no signs of the money issues being dealt with. Sigh.

August 17 -- Keegan came to visit CJ this weekend, although there was of course another reason for being in town -- her husband is coming back from the Pennsic War (SCA, it's out in Pennsylvania) today. She spent the night Friday and they went into San Francisco yesterday. She went to stay with a couple of other friends last night, because CJ and I had to get up at 3 in the morning and get her to the airport for yet another trip to Texas. That's about all that's happening ... slow week.
     Well, okay, with a bit of work we managed to fill the cast of the play (Golden Stag Players) for 12th Night, but the smaller play is put on the back burner for now, possibly for spring.

August 19 -- Exercise has been low-priority, and it's showing around my waist. Sigh. The reason it's been a low-priority item? It's been too hot in the afternoon, and I keep forgetting in the morning. I mean, sometimes I remember at least to do the "floor" exercises -- scrunches, leg lifts and situps, but I haven't been using the Nordic Track. So, today the weather's a bit cooler (fog came in last night in full force), and I'm going to try, even though my left knee (the one I had surgery on all those years ago) is giving me some trouble. I really need to get back into the habit ... Exercise is my least favorite (or one of ...) thing to do, but if I want to have good health for years to come, I have to do this.
     While not a health-nut, I found it interesting that scientists have proven that a breakfast (anything) will kick-start the digestive system in the morning, and that means that in theory, I shouldn't gain a lot of weight unless I eat a lot of bad foods if I have a breakfast. I've started eating muffins or breakfast 'bars' along with my morning coffee (for years it's been just coffee in the morning). In general I don't eat much "bad food" -- I don't do a lot of deep-fried stuff (very little fast-food, among other things), and try to eat veggies, and have a glass of Orange Juice every day (at least during the week).
     I generally feel pretty good health-wise, but I'm still at least 20 lbs. overweight, and there are days I can feel it ... oh well. I mean, in the long run, 20 lbs (maybe even 25) isn't that bad, but still, I should try to lose as much of that as I can. I think for someone my age I'm doing okay, although I see folk out running (bad knees, I can't run) all the time around here. There are undoubtedly people my age in better health, but I don't have any major health conditions that I know of, and I haven't had a serious cold in some time ... so that says something about my health. <g>

August 28 -- Been a bit slow, but I suppose that's okay. Paychecks are still happening late, but at least they're happening. On the exercise front, the heat has been bad enough that exercise isn't really an option beyond the "floor" exercises mentioned earlier. Sigh. Oh well. Labor Day weekend is coming up in a couple days, and we have very little in the way of plans, which is nice. I think Carolyn really needs the down-time. Her job has been so stressful that she took a day off today (Thursday) ... she's wound up so tight that little things are setting her off, and that's not good. Something has to give, either work has to let up, or she's going to implode ... I'd rather that she not do that, of course.

September 5 -- Just a bit of catch-up ... last weekend (Labor Day) -- Saturday was just CJ and I -- I mean, I went to Don and BJ's and met there with Jeff and we moved set pieces around and he pulled a few for the play we're about to start rehearsing for. Otherwise, we spent it at home, watched movies, had a mellow day, did some cleaning, that kind of thing. Sunday was more of the same, except that Gail (CJ's sister) came over for dinner and a movie (we watched Chicago, which we have on DVD now). Monday, Laurie (Rose) came over and she and Carolyn did designs for costumes for the play, and then we went and met up with Tim, James and Sandra for dinner ... nice, mellow.
     During all that, and for a bit of time prior, I started a huge mondo coding project, to create a deployable (by a developer) table designer that could be used in an application with our product. Complexities after complexities keep hitting me, but it's getting close to done. In the process I was able to find some interesting bugs in our product, which means I got some actual "work" done as well. It's been a good project for me, as I am having to stretch a bit to get some of this to work. I'm having to really think about some of what I'm doing, although I am sure there's some redundant code in all that. Oh well. I think I'm down to just a couple of difficulties and it'll be done. We'll see. The company is still running late checks, but the news on the investor front is more positive, at least, last time I heard anything. In theory, maybe in October we'll see some money actually coming in. Be nice ...

September 14 -- Well, not all that much to talk about. Still keeping busy, I think the biggest bugs are out of the software project mentioned above, and I'm down to hoping that someone can help me out with some low-level coding that I'm unfamiliar with.
     We haven't managed to see a lot of Don and BJ lately, because they've been really busy, but we had tickets to see Eddie Izzard on the last day of the San Francisco leg of his "Sexie" tour. It was, as we expected, hilarious. I had gotten the tickets as soon as they were available, which is the only way to get good seats for these things. To see the show, we got together with Don and BJ and did dinner (early) in Concord, then went to the Lafayette and parked at the BART station and took the train into San Francisco. There's a set of stairs coming up from BART right outside of the Orpheum theatre, which is rather handy. We had a lot of fun people watching ... this one woman, very small, very thin, who couldn't have been younger than 40 in very little clothing (ruffled tight-fitting top, ruffled panties, stockings that were held up with garters, and fuck-me pumps -- five inch heels ...) with a butterfly attached to a black shirt she was wearing, was interesting to watch. She ended up sitting behind Don in the theatre and was a real pain (loud, obnoxious "look at me, look at me!" type stuff), until someone told her to shut up. Sheesh. There were the usual funny hair colors (lime green, blue ...), and so on. But of course the best part of the show was Eddie himself. He was as funny as we could expect. We got back home around 11:30, had some coffee (well, Don and Carolyn did), some ice cream, chatted until 12:15 or so, then Don and BJ went home, we crashed hard, and there you go.
     Sitting here this morning in shorts and such, getting ready for play rehearsal, and realized I hadn't added to this in awhile. CJ's still sleeping, but I couldn't sleep any longer.
     On the home front, Carolyn's sister Gail had put down an offer on a town house or condo, but had second thoughts about the financing deal (105% financing?). She and Carolyn are going to be talking about that this afternoon while I'm in San Jose for rehearsal. Can't think of much else ... anything I could say about the idiotic Gubenatorial election (recall or not, and if recall, who to replace Gray Davis ...) coming up soon will have been said far better by others, but what a stupid waste of time and tax-payer's money. Sigh. I swear, Americans, and Californians in particular can be SO stupid at times.


Fall?
September 22 -- Well, the weather sure doesn't seem like fall, it's 2 in the afternoon and 79 degrees inside the house (and much warmer outside). Sigh.
     This last weekend was pretty mellow, but kind of nice because of it. Friday was Carolyn and my usual dinner and mellow-out time; Saturday was just the two of us, although she spent some time on the phone, and a lot of time just playing on the computer when I wasn't coding. Sunday was our play rehearsal and dinner at Valerie's with her and her son Kelvin. We took the game Star Munchkins over -- as a side note, I have to highly recommend for just silly, with relatively simple rules -- the Munchkins games from Steve Jackson Games -- we'd played it with Valerie the last time we went over for dinner. This is the first time I've won a game of Munchkin (or any other game that wasn't a computer game, for that matter) in a loooong time. As noted, a nice weekend, but nothing to write home about.
     I have managed, with the help of a couple of other folk, to get the big programming project I was working on mostly under control, and I'm just waiting to see any bug reports from the users at dBASE, Inc. Whatta task I took on ... a single coding project, focusing on it for most of a month plus (close to five weeks), working on it a lot, and losing some sleep over it at times ... Whoof. It was interesting, and got some folk delving into things deeper, we surfaced some bugs in dBASE, found some other interesting little under-the-cover things, so it was worth it from just that point of view. I hope some of our users actually find the code worth using after all that. I sometimes wonder with some of the stuff I throw together -- once it's out there I often don't hear much, but I guess that's probably good in the long run, although you sometimes wonder when someone comes up with a really obvious bug report months after you finished it and made the code available for folk to use ... was anyone using it until that point? Oh well. It's still good to keep my hand in on the coding end of things.

October 8, 2003
Well, it's been a bit of time since I last actually wrote anything here. The coding project I rant about above appears to be done, at least, no bugs have been reported in a bit. Carolyn and I went to Mists Fall Coronet two weeks ago, and then we took some time and went to Stinson Beach for what is becoming a family tradition -- Carolyn's family, but I'm part of it -- spending nearly a week at Stinson. Fun. I'm still a bit tired from that, but it was a lot of fun for the most part. I got a bunch of reading done. Didn't get the coding done I was going to shoot for, it takes more concentration than you can get sitting around at a place with a couple of kids (Bill and Rebecca's) running rampant. Just when you think you're settled, the kids come back from the beach, or whatever. I have no complaints, they're lovely kids. Bill apologized to me at lunch on the way back from the time there for Stephanie, who's decided I'm her toy. I told him that she wasn't a bother most of the time, really. I'm not sure he believes it, but ... She's 5 1/2 years old, and very cute, and way too much energy, but she's bright, and understands that she needs to stop (most of the time ...) if that's where things are headed, and normally you just have to tell her once.
     Other than that, well of course there was catch-up from work and from other projects when I got back, and dealing with the 1000 emails that accumulated (most of which were spam). We went out and voted yesterday on the (expletive deleted) gubenatorial recall election. That was a waste of our time. There are enough truly dumb people in this state who seem to think it'll be funny having Arnold Schwartzenegger as governer that it looks like he won. What a waste. Sigh. Californians can be so STUPID sometimes, and this just proves it. If anyone thinks he's going to be able to resolve any problems in this state, think again. If he lets the republican party run him, then the deficit will get worse, not better, if the president's example is how things will go ... There are times I almost wish I could just leave this country for somewhere smarter, but unfortunately I don't think there are a lot of options anymore. Sheesh.

October 14 -- I seem to have picked up a flu bug of some sort with symptoms I've never dealt with before (pressure in the stomach that is on the verge of pain, gas, but no "trots" ... headache, everything in a fog ...). Blech. Today I think I'm nearly over it, but still ... blech. What a nasty feeling. Yesterday was the worst, because the night before I hardly slept on top of it all, so I was totally in a head-fog yesterday. I slept on and off all day, tried to watch TV (couldn't really read -- concentration was messed up). Oy. And this week was when I was planning on starting back on th exercise regimine ... figures. Oh well. I've been told that several people have had this bug and that my symptoms match theirs, so at least it's not an isolated case. I was figuring I might have to go to the hospital if it kept up. I'm still feeling week, and a bit light-headed, but most of the pressure in my stomach is gone today, and the fever is mostly gone (although the last time I took my temperature I was low -- 97.7 degrees ...).

October 17 -- Mostly over that bug, it's Friday, and on Sunday Carolyn flies out to Texas for a week. Sigh. Oh well. The big problem this time is that she's got a head-cold. She was miserable last night. I made her take some cold drugs to quiet the sinuses down, but she got up in the middle of the night coughing. I probably should have checked to see if we had any Nyquil or something. Oh well. I hope it's better before she flies out, or she's gonna have to do that on cold drugs, and she hates taking drugs. I also of course hope I don't get that cold as well, but we'll see. Maybe I've been saved by having had the nasty from earlier in the week? I can hope ... (Later, she seems to think that this is an allergy to some pollen, but she has no idea what.)
     A good friend gave me a copy of Dreamweaver 4 (not the most current version) that he had sitting around from when he worked for the company (Macromedia). It's a web development software application that gives a nice user interface, and adds some functionality that's kind of spiffy. I'm working on a revamp of the Golden Stag Player website right now, and am nearly done, although I know I'm not using all the functionality of Dreamweaver. It's got some fairly cool stuff it can do (templates, and more), but I haven't quite gotten my brain wrapped around some of it. If I can get better at this software (and I think I will probably pay for the upgrade to the most current version soon -- cheaper than buying it straight-up!), I can do more interesting web pages without as much work. This could lead places ... heh.
     On the company side of things, well, we're theoretically 6-8 weeks out from some investors sinking money in, but I heard that a couple of months ago, too ... in the meantime the paychecks are all running late (two weeks currently ...). Sigh. The only saving grace there is that CJ has enough money in savings that she can cover rent for when the check from my company is late ...

October 20 -- Well, Carolyn is in Texas until Friday. Play rehearsals have been a bit rough, because a lot of people have other things scheduled. Sigh. Next week should start getting better, but we won't have a full cast until December. Sheesh. Oh well. And we keep moving around. In the process of all this, Teresa, who isn't in the play, but who is a member of the troupe managed to tear her aorta, which is not exactly a good thing. She's apparently at home resting now, but things were touch and go for awhile. If it's not one damn thing, it's another.
     I got a letter on Friday from the IRS that noted the time when I was a "contract" worker for dBASE. I screwed up the paperwork, and owe them $1,603. ACK. I hate that stuff. It took the IRS 2 3/4 years to figure this out, and of course that amount includes interest. If they could do this faster, it would have meant I owed a lot less. The worst part is that no one is to blame but me on this. I honestly didn't handle the paperwork properly, so I screwed up, and ... sigh. CJ had the money in savings, but it put a nasty dent in the money she was saving toward buying a house.
     Other than that, work progresses on the revamp of the Golden Stag Player site.
     Work is still not great, it's taking forever for the folk working on dQuery to get new builds together. And the CEO is still screwing up with finishing the deal for new investors. And on top of it all the current investors are balking at payroll issues, so paychecks are typically 1 to 2 weeks late. If the job market didn't suck so bad, and I didn't actually like the job, I'd be out of there in a heartbeat. Sheesh.

October 21 -- Well, on the positive side of things, Gail (CJ's sister) just had an offer accepted on a house in Livermore. She's very happy about it, and I guess we'll see what happens from here. Of course, this is going to make Carolyn want to buy a home that much more. She is realistic for the most part, but she honestly thinks that maybe next year we can buy a home. I am not sure how that's going to work ... of course, if the financing for my company finally comes through, and if we can ever get sales back up a bit, maybe that'll help.

October 23 -- During our staff meeting for work today, it turns out that some of the investors we were hoping for have screwed up, missed deadlines, and are now "right out". Damn. I really need for this company to get its collective shit together ...

October 27 -- Being frustrated with my current company, I am going to seriously start looking at the resume, and job hunting. As much as I hate the idea, I may have no choice ... to give some idea how bad things are, I have $17 in my checking account, and nothing in savings. I had to borrow money from my wife to be able to deal with things such as lunch money. And as of this morning, still no word on when to expect the missing paycheck (and another is due in a week, since the first falls on Saturday). Other than that ...
     The play rehearsals despite everything conspiring against me (illness of actors, and so on), actually seem to be going well. Misc. other projects proceed on apace ... no major setbacks for the most part. I replaced the old acting troupe website with the new one. It looks pretty good (if I may say so myself), and has a lot more detail in some places, is easier to read ... I guess things aren't all bad. Learning Dreamweaver has been fun, and I am continuing to mess with it and learn more about it.


Winter
As with summer, Winter appears to have just come charging in. October 30 the weather was too warm, October 31 it was cold, rainy, very much like one expects Winter to be. I realize Winter officially doesn't start until December 21 or 22, but sheesh.

November 4 -- My company is so confused lately ... sigh. I was told by my manager that I was set up to go to the Borland Conference for a couple of days, that a hotel room was set up so I wouldn't have to drive home and back the next day, etc. Cool. I went to San Jose yesterday morning, got to the convention center, and found I wasn't registered. I called my manager (woke him up of course), he called New York, found there was some confusion, and we weren't sure what to do. So I gave up and drove home. I got home to find a message from the CTO stating that he was sorry for the screwup, and asked me to call. So, I did. I'm going in for part of the day today, but this is pretty dumb. Sigh. On the other hand, the paycheck (due October 16) finally got processed this morning so I can pay some bills. (I wonder how late the one due yesterday will be ...)

I've been futzing with Dreamweaver some more, and using the Herald's website for testing for that lately (with permission of the current head-honcho herald). I'm not using all the features of Dreamweaver, but there's some nifty things that make it easy to make global changes to parts of the site without having to modify each web page. The bulk of the site is done now ... I've got someone who's learning heraldry and having a heyday with that, and in the process is helping me out with one huge project that I have no idea when it will ever get done ... but it's fun that she's so enthusiastic that even my nitpicky bits on what she's doing are not driving her away from it all.

November 11 -- I was updating this a lot more regularly, but I've actually been relatively busy. Most of my "busy" has, however, not been work-related. Sigh. It's mostly been a bit of this, a bit of that, West Kingdom History website, other things. The Golden Stag Players (we're down to five rehearsals for the next show in January ...), and so on.

Carolyn and I went to an SCA event this last weekend, which was fine, but in the process I managed to slip on the floor a bit and in what appeared to everyone else to be a graceful maneuver, pulled something in my stomach wall area. Not bad, but enough that I am trying to avoid stressing it ... sheesh. It was one of those truly dumb moves that happens when you do something unexpected at the same time someone else does, and in order to avoid a collision, you twist and turn and ... and apparently it looked really cool to some folk. I didn't realize until the next day I'd pulled something. Just when I was making plans to start getting up at the same time Carolyn does to go to work (5 am) and exercising in the mornings. Figures. So while I have yet another excuse to not exercise, I really did want to start getting back on the machine and doing it.

A bit more detail on the Borland Conference from last week -- things went pretty well. There are some things I can't really talk about here that may be happening, and among other things, there was a member of the Board for our company at the conference who wants to try to get the payroll issues dealt with now. I haven't heard that anything's actually happened on that front (and the paycheck due on the first hasn't shown up yet). It was cheering to see the reaction to our product by developers at the conference, however. It means that we may have found a good place to be with some of what we're doing. The member of the Board took three of us out to dinner and we had a pleasant evening.

Carolyn's sister Gail is dealing with the final papers on the house she's buying, and intends to move the last weekend of the month. Not much to say about work right now. I know R&D has been busy ... I haven't seen anything new, but they're fixing things, etc. So, things keep trundling on.

November 13 -- I'd forgotten to mention this -- Erin (remember Erin from last year and early this year?) got her family evicted from the apartment complex they were living in. Charming. I don't want to get into details, it was pretty dumb. Anyway, Carolyn and Valorie paid for a month's membership in a housing search program, to help them find a new place.

November 18 -- Figures that I would come in on my first version of this, this morning, and rant and rail about not getting paid, to find out that two paychecks are being processed and should be in my account Friday morning. Whew. Shakeups at the company, but hopefully it means we can move forward finally. Don't want to say much just yet, but I feel a little better about things.

November 20 -- My friend John (in the SCA: Leohtulf) and I who have been chatting in IM for awhile, went and saw a movie last night. We chose a spot that was close to half-way for both of us, which turns out to be Dublin (California), as he lives in San Jose. That was fun. John's been feeling a bit down and out lately, and I think just hanging out with someone was something he needed. Heck, it didn't hurt me, either -- a chance to just get out and do something with someone ... Anyway, we went and saw "Master and Commander: Far Side of the World" -- pretty good movie about tall ships, the war between England and France (Napolean ...). We went to dinner first, saw the movie, and then got a soda after and chatted for awhile. It meant I got home around 11 or so, but what the hey?

Apparently today may be the day that Gail closes escrow on the house she's buying. That's kinda cool.

The Golden Stag Players have been having fun coming up with stuff for the back of the program (we like to entertain the audience before the show starts, and if nothing else, we're entertaining ourselves with some of it ...). That's meant a huge flurry of emails, but it's always fun when we get into that mode.

November 26 -- I forget the wierdest things sometimes when writing all this. My watch started losing time, but only when I wore it. Now, that seems a bit odd to me, but losing 3 hours in one day is a problem. I had the battery replaced and it was still doing it. So ... after a couple of weeks, Carolyn took me to Macy's and we replaced the watch. Oh well. So much for a decent watch, but it probably would have cost more to get it fixed than to replace it. That's a sad commentary on things these days -- the same issue comes up with electronics -- PDAs, DVD and VCR players, and more. Then, what do you do with the remains? What brought all this on was the obsession Americans seem to have with time. Every appliance has a clock in it anymore, computers, PDAs, watches, cars ... I sometimes wonder how we got that obsessed with time -- so much so that we have to have clocks everywhere?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I almost feel like I should write some sort of thanksgiving thing. You know the type of thing, the "I'm thankful for ...". It's not me, though. Yes, I have a lot to be thankful for, but I don't feel like I need to expound on it all.

Carolyn's sister (Gail) is now dealing with all the "moving" issues. The former owners of the place she bought left it a mess, and it turns out she has to replace the water heater, a heater for the house itself, and some other stuff. Figures. She's moving on Saturday, and while we're not part of the "moving crew" (a bunch of friends are helping her), we'll be coming by in the afternoon, I guess. Maybe earlier ... In the meantime she's coming here tomorrow and we'll have a small Thanksgiving dinner, unlike last year where most of Carolyn's family was here (which is good, because frankly it was crowded last year). Guess I need to do some cleaning for tomorrow.

Carolyn almost never gets the day after Thanksgiving off from work, but she doesn't usually mind. It does mean that going somewhere for the holiday means being home Thursday evening, so she can get up for work in the morning. She'd rather have the time off after Christmas to prepare for the SCA's Twelfth Night.

November 30 -- What a weekend. Thursday was Thanksgiving. Carolyn did most of the cooking (her sister would normally have done more, but with moving, and all that she was a bit pre-occupied). Dinner was good, we watched a couple movies with Gail, and just had a pleasant day/evening. Friday, while Carolyn was at work, I visited with friends for an "Orphan's Thanksgiving". That was fun. We played games, watched a movie, had some good food ... Carolyn on the other hand didn't get home until 8 from work. Sheesh.

Yesterday we did some stuff around the house (including my getting two garbage bags of leaves from our tiny back yard raked up and out of there -- for such a small yard we get way too many leaves - mostly from trees outside the fence). Then we took off in the late afternoon to Livermore to see Gail's new house, and visit with her. It's a nice place, and while smaller than her previous place, a) she owns this one; b) it's laid out well and doesn't actually feel smaller. She did well finding a place.

Today is an art day to work on the sets and costumes for the play we're working on, but it's raining, which most likely means that painting the sets will have to wait. Figures. And I'm not sleeping well (weird dreams), so I'm up at 6 in the morning writing this. Oh well ... that's how it goes.

December 11 -- Well, thinks have just sort of kept trundling on. I started a new project, that I actually started because of the Herald's Template project I've been working on for awhile now. I wanted to be able to look something up, and the way things are laid out for what I wanted, it was very difficult. So I've been spending a huge amount of time copying data into a new database from a set of web pages. It's a bit mind-numbing, but the search routines I have seem to work well, which in the long run will make things easier. There's interest in this from other heralds, as well, so ...

Keegan came down from Albion on Thursday and we saw her through Saturday morning. That's always fun for Carolyn -- she really misses Keegan, and the two of them got to spend all day Friday together.

The latest play rehearsal was really rough, which is disappointing, as we only have two more rehearsals. Oh well. Sigh. (It will all come together. How? I don't know, it's a mystery. -- Shakespeare in Love)

Carolyn's been in Texas since Sunday as well, last time for the year, but that's just a sort of silly statement -- it's the last month of the year too. Christmas is coming, and I've got most of my shopping done, except for some small last-minute things. Cards are out. Feeling a bit down in general. Paychecks are still running late, the one due on the first is being processed on the 15th. Wonder if they have allocated money for the paycheck due on the 16th? Sigh.

Mark McWhirter has been sort of chatty lately, so I've heard from him a bit in email. That's been fun. Nothing really new, except he's considering moving out to the California coastal area somewhere between San Diego and Monterey.

December 23 -- With Christmas just a couple of days away ...

Lessee ... Big mondo earthquake near San Simeon (6.5 on the Richter scale) yesterday, trashed a couple of buildings, killed three people I think. It was felt mildly here in the Bay Area. Hussein captured last week ... um ... that's about it for news.

We saw Return of the King on opening night (Wednesday, the 17th), the final installment of Peter Jackson's version of Lord of the Rings, and it was even better than the first two movies ... wow. We have plans to see it again with Valerie, Kelvin, Gail (who we saw it with on opening night) and a couple of friends of Gail's (teenager daughters of some friends of hers, Rita who we know, and her sister who we haven't met yet), and we may try to squeeze in another viewing with just the two of us. And that doesn't even count the DVDs, when they're available late this coming summer and the extended ones in the fall.

On the personal front, not much to say. Things are still in about the same state for the company, except we're theoretically gearing up to release a product around the 31st. I even coded some stuff for dQuery, taking some code I'd written (with help from some others) and making it fit into one of the wizards for the software (Import data from Excel spreadsheets to a table). I started working on yet another project, which is hard to 'splain, but it's more dBASE stuff, and for the heralds ... it will be useful, but it's a lot of work at the moment just getting the data taken care of.

Carolyn's still coming home from work totally fried. Oh well. She gets Christmas day and the day after off this week, and New Year's day and the day after off next week, so that's at least something.

The play is coming along, still a bit rough, so I'm really happy we've gotten one more rehearsal off-site, and we can do a full run-through on-site the night before the performance, which we need. As noted in the previous entry, it'll come together ...

The plans for Christmas are: Christmas eve, Carolyn and I at home with the cats, we're still figuring out what we're doing for dinner. Christmas day at Gail's house, which we're looking forward to. That's about it.

December 27 -- Well, Christmas was nice, although we had a change in plans, and spent the night at Gail's for Christmas itself. This meant I wasn't home to work, like I was supposed to be, in the morning on Friday. Figures. Not a big deal, but ... it did cause a minor row between us when I suggested maybe we should head for home in a bit. Oh well. We made up later in the day and all was well.

It was a pleasant Christmas, though. Gail's settled into her place nicely, and while she still has a bunch of work to do, that's to be expected. Tom gave us a CD with photos from Stinson Beach (back in October) and I'll be adding some of those to the site ... maybe today.

I got up this morning (CJ's still sleeping) and there's frost on the ground. Wow.

December 31 -- Last day of the year, and it's gone crazy. We finally got some code we needed to test before getting it out to the users, and things have been nuts work-wise. In addition, I'm still trying to get other things done (the herald's project mentioned above -- most of the data is in, but one last run on data, then to finish the code), had to run errands (including getting film for this coming weekend, photocopying, and more -- and the copiers gave me one less copy than I ordered of the award list -- luckily they didn't charge me for the copy I didn't get -- these things run close to $15 each ...). Came back from errands to work 'hopping' ... and ... oh well. I suppose at least I'm not bored.

CJ and I had planned on visiting friends this evening in San Francisco for New Year's Eve, but she's feeling burnt out and feels like she has too much to do, so I guess we're not doing anything. So I got our usual date-night dinner for tonight from the local "Pasta Stop", and we'll have that, some wine, and try to relax a bit this evening before it all goes completely nuts for this coming weekend (SCA 12th Night, which includes CJ's annual "Birthday Dinner" on Friday evening, a play rehearsal, CJ fixing one costume for the play, taking photos of the costumes and set ...; and then the event itself on Saturday ...).

Tomorrow (January 1, 2004) she's going to a "stitch and bitch" -- something she has hosted in years past, but our place is a bit small, so this year it's at Valerie's place. I may go to a movie with a couple folk during the day, but the rest of it will likely be spent either working, or ... something. <g>

I may not get the Stinson Beach photos done ... been too busy, but they're here, so I will get to 'em, really.

Happy New Year, folks. Hope it's better than the last one ... no new wars, less nasty shit going on. Wrap up the current war. Oh, and it's an election year. That's something to look forward to (not!). Oh well.


A Few Photos
(These are thumbnails, click on them to see larger versions with text explaining them)


Rose -
David's Daughter

John McKay
with 'the Girls'


Ken and Carolyn's Hawaiian Vacation -- there's too many photos to put here, so if you click this page you'll be taken to another with a breakdown by day ...

Stinson Beach -- October, 2003 -- Photos all by Tom Leffingwell


Big Fun

Big Fun

Big Fun

Big Fun

Big Fun

Bill and Mom

Gail and Mom

Ken and Becca

Gail Practicing
while CJ listens

Gail Practicing

Sandpipers Running

Becca, Stephanie and
Patrick Running

Sunset and Birds

Sunset and Birds

Sunset and Birds

Sunset and Birds

Morning

Pelicans

Pelicans



Rebo


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