A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 2007

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Winter

January 8

Well, the year's starting out weird, but don't they always? It seems that way sometimes.

Today is my wife's birthday, so we're going out to dinner and a movie (not sure what movie yet, but there's not much playing I think either of us would be interested in, so that may be weird).

This last weekend was 12th Night, and it was harder than usual this year. The attendence was down, and I think there's been a kind of malaise running around the SCA, or perhaps it is just the nasty cold and flu season this winter has had, I dunno.

Backing up just a little. Thursday (the 4th), I went to Kinkos to pick up the printing that I always do for 12th Night -- the awards list, and the programs for the play. Just after the person at the counter dropped them off and I had paid for them (without checking them over first -- like an idiot), I got a call from the guy in the GSP who is the stage manager, and the person moving the sets, that he and his wife (one of the actors in the play) had come down with pneumonia, and wouldn't be able to attend 12th Night. AGH! After trying to let them know that I wasn't upset with them and that we'd work something out, and that they should follow their doctor's orders and all that, I started looking over the printing. They screwed up every single instruction. There were supposed to be 3 copies of the awards list, there were two. The awards lists were supposed to be three-hole punched, they weren't. The programs were supposed to be on ivory paper, they were on white ... and I didn't check until I got home about the last instruction for the awards list (the orientation of the printing ...). Everything was mucked up. I got the programs for free, but that didn't help my attitude.

Came home and started frantically emailing the members of the troupe. After some back and forthing, we decided that the show would occur, one of the other actors with a minor role picked up the part, and we arranged for the sets to be hauled to the site.

While relieved I was nervous. We'd never had things go that weird before. Friday night at the site things are fairly calm. The folk involved in the scene that the actor filled in did a rehearsal to make sure the blocking would work, and all that. Didn't sleep great.

The next day the event occurred. The new outfit that CJ made me was nice, although we fought with the peerage collar, and it won eventually (hung a bit off, that kind of thing, sigh); my new belt looked good but there are issues there ... sigh. Oh well. The play went on, and despite the problems was fairly well received. Not our best effort, but not our worst by a long shot. I think we learned some valuable lessons but we need to spend some time re-evaluating things over the next few months before we start our next play.

After the play was over, I went backstage to tell folk that it had worked, and they were kicking themselves and then I got snapped at really intensely by one of my core actors -- one who's been there from the beginning. For some reason this really messed me up -- my skin's usually a bit thicker than that, but ... and I ended up getting away from everyone and hardly saw members of the troupe the rest of the day, that evening, etc., because I was so messed up. Heck, I hardly saw anyone most of the day after that.

The next day CJ and I went to the heralds' meeting because she'd been talked into doing the artwork and I am a senior staff herald, and should go to some of the meetings ... came home completely toasted. I dozed on and off all afternoon/evening. Rare for me.

The other thing that's going on for me head-space wise is that I'm reaching 50 this year, the business I started isn't taking off, and I am probably going to have to throw in the towel in the next few months and get a real job. This is hitting the "you're a failure at the age of 50" buttons, which really sucks. The worst part of it is, it's hard to talk about. Add the play issues from above to the general "failure" issue, and I feel rather crappy. I have a client who I just can't seem to satisfy with some issues for his application (he's a nice guy, but ...), and I am not making anywhere near the money I should be to survive in the Bay Area. I've had to rely so heavily on my wife covering the mortgage, and the vital bills ... and it's really gotten under my skin. I should note that Carolyn's been amazing throughout all this, and while she would like me to be making more money and "pulling my share", I'm sure, she hasn't said anything (well, okay, she's hinted a bit, but not pointedly and has not once nagged me ...).

I'm sure that I'll pull out of it, but it's been a rough time and my psyche can't take much more right now, especially things that appear to be failures or heavy criticism right now. Sigh.

January 30

Well, the last few weeks have mellowed me out a bit. I've had some talks with a few friends, and don't feel as much a failure with the business as I did. It's still irritating and frustrating, but ... I guess one way to look at the business venture is that at least I tried it. I won't end up in my old age wondering if I could've made it by trying, and didn't bother, and feeling bad about it. So I tried. It's a tough world out there, and the software business is a mo'fo'. The fact that I survived three years (give or take a few months), and didn't actually fall-behind financially is something. One friend told me that a failure would have been if we lost money because of my trying this. We are not currently getting ahead financially, or if we are, it's in tiny amounts because my wife is a penny-pincher in some ways, and good at dealing with the big financial picture, and is doing well in her job.

I suppose if I had been a better marketer, I might have done better with the business, but ... well, I did what I could. The problem is that I just don't have the drive that's necessary to really do proper marketing. I'm happier sitting at my desk working on stuff ...

So, what do I need to do? Well, first I need to get the one application done for my client in New York. It's been a monster up-hill battle. And it doesn't help that he's the CEO and can't spend as much time on testing as I'd like. We've spent two+ weeks getting one routine to work (and I had to rely on another coder friend to help me out, but I think it may finally be there). There's a lot of stuff still to do on this thing, but it'll get there. I want that done.

I'm also working on finishing up my second dBASE book, and doing a revision on the first. The revision is to fix errors in the book, try to do better images (although I'm not sure how well that's working, we'll see if that was worth the hassle), better indexing, add a chapter on the grid (rather than just touching on it -- it's a vital part of the software); and deal with enhancements/changes to the software since the book was first published.

I may try to get a third book in there, probably on dBASE applications on the web, but we'll see how that goes. That's a tricky one.

Once all that's settled, I need to dust off the resume and start the job hunt. I am looking at spring or at the latest early summer. That's the very latest. I need to get off my ass and start bringing in some real income, paying my share of the mortgage, and all that. CJ's been great about supporting my efforts, but seriously, it's time I was contributing properly.

So, while I am turning 50 in a few months, I have a lot to do. One thing I don't want to do is find myself in the downward spiral I think my father was in when he died in his mid-60's. He was working for the Boy Scouts, and I know he wasn't making much money. I am sure he was probably frustrated and/or disappointed with himself over where he was and where he felt he should be. I know I would have been. I don't wish to be at that point when I'm in my mid-60's. I am trying to keep my health up (trying to cut out some of the bad foods, get some exercise in, all that ...) as well.

What else has been going on ...? Well, the week after 12th Night I started coming down with Bronchitis. Good grief. I called the hospital on Friday and got antibiotics and some cough syrup with codeine in it. Was very good and followed directions and am mostly done with all that. Sheesh. Luckily we caught it before it was bad. Let's see ... some dermititus that isn't going away on the ring finger that I wear my big ring on. Figures. It's not an allergy or the skin under all of the ring would have been affected, and I haven't been wearing it for a month or so. I need to get this looked at, as the cortosone stuff isn't doing much good.

Carolyn flew to Texas on Sunday again, and will be back on Friday, as usual for these trips. Bleh. She hates it, I hate it. But, what can you do? She gets paid for the trips, so ...

On the SCA Front, not a lot to say. It's been great having a couple of friends in the SCA living nearby who like having company. I started visiting on the "Wednesday Night Fighter Practice" just after Brion (of Bellatrix) won the Coronet List for his lady Ysabella Dolfin. Ysabella is relatively new to the SCA (four years or so) but jumped into it feet first when she found it, and she and Brion are great together. Brion grew up in the SCA, and is a really good guy. So Wednesday evenings I've been traipsing over there (about 2-3 minutes drive from here -- far enough that walking's not a good idea, but close enough to be an easy visit), and having a great time. Whether it's just a few of us (there have been a couple of nights where it's been Brion, Ysabella, myself and someone else), or a ton of people there, it's great. It reminds me a bit of Quid Non in its hey-day where every Sunday Kylson and Robin opened their doors to the household and friends, and generally had an open-door policy anyway. They're both good people, and CJ and I are enjoying seeing them, and hanging out with people we might not see much of otherwise.

Right now everyone's gearing up for the Estrella War, but frankly neither CJ or I have any interest in going.

Ysabella did something fun a couple weeks ago, though -- she had her guard over to do a heraldry session in an attempt at making sure all the members of her guard and court had registered names and armory at least started ... I taught a short class, and Carolyn and I consulted (and Carolyn drew up armory for them). That was a lot of fun. I'd do that again in a heartbeat.

February 14

It's been a weird couple weeks since the last entry. Lots happening, and yet, it feels like not much has gotten done.

I've completed the manuscript for my second book, and the cover is done. I had a lot of hassle getting the people at the publisher's to actually get them from me, and ultimately ended up last Wednesday going to UPS with a CD and sending it. Sheesh. Now I'm waiting for the "design meeting" (which will take about five minutes over the phone if it's anything like the first book).

In the meantime I'm done or close to it with the revision of the first book. But my main contact at the publisher isn't answering her email. I will try to call tomorrow to find out what the process is there. I need to wait until I have some money, because I think this will necessitate starting a "new book" process, and I need the money to do that.

I finally figured out how to get the images as clear and crisp as I wanted for the books. It was a combination of tweaking my screen capture software to give me 600DPI images, and a very specific setting in the PDF software, and finally an even more specific setting that had to be done for each file for PageMaker ... weird, but true. However, I can print the individual pages with images and read the screen shots -- small text and all is clear.

My one client has kept me busy, but in a weird way. I get a bunch of stuff done, then wait. And wait. Then suddenly a bunch more stuff ... sigh. It's been a hassle, but oh well. I need for this project to be done, and get one final paycheck out of it, so I can start on the resume and getting a real job. I am tired of this, and can't do it anymore. Three years of spotty income is making me crazy.

Health: Last week I saw the doctor about a rash or whatever that appeared under my signet ring (that big silver ring with the stag's head I usually wear). It had been there for awhile, and nothing I tried was making it go away. So he brought in a dermatologist. The determination there was that it was a rash, or exzcema, or an allergy or ... gawd knows. Great. Science? What science? They gave me a steroid ointment (well I had to get it from the pharmacy) that seems to have cleared it up. I am giving it a few days without the ointment to see if it's really gone, before I put the ring back on.

I seem to be completely over the bronchitis that I had. That was no fun, but the antibiotics were a wonder.

I also went and saw an optometrist (Site for Sore Eyes) to get new glasses. The old ones with the progressive bi-focals were making me crazy. I didn't have peripheral vision, and I was getting tunnel vision. I couldn't really use the bottom part of the lenses for anything (not to read, that's for sure) either. So I got real bi-focals, but they were super expensive because I ended up with an expensive frame. Sigh. That's where the real money seems to be for these folk. Oh well. They look cool, and I have peripheral vision, and while I'm still getting used to them I can read with them on, and see distances fairly well, and the whole bit. However working in front of the computer they're not real great. However they gave me ("free") a pair of prescription glasses set to focus at the between 1.5 and 3 (give or take) feet range, which I am to wear while sitting in front of the machine all day.

On the SCA front: Again not a lot happening. Folk have headed off to Estrella. We're not going, but we haven't since the one we went to and froze our butts off.

The Chancellor of Scribes is trying to get a "Unified Database" for the Awards List and Scribes. The idea is a good one, but it means putting my data up on the web and doing things in a very different fashion from what I'm doing now, including all that work over the years ... I don't know when it'll get done, because it's going to need me to be part of it, and if I get a real job the amount of time I will be able to spend on it will go way down.

February 26

Wedding Anniversary Today -- 13 Years. However, CJ is up in Sacramento helping take care of her aunt's "stuff" and paperwork. While she's still alive, her health is failing more and more. Carolyn took the week off work because she was told by the HR department she'd hit the "use it or lose it" point on vacation time. The problem is she got sucked into helping with her aunt's stuff, and will be in Sacramento through to Wednesday. We'll celebrate the anniversary on Thursday evening, but it feels a bit odd.

On other fronts, not much to say. The new glasses are working out well, I'm mostly used to the bifocals, which the progressive version I never got used to. On other health fronts, CJ and I are going to the hospital on Friday to have blood drawn -- I have an "open appointment" to just drop by the lab, but I'm terrified of needles, so CJ and I are going so I have the moral support. Blech. I really hate 'em. I have to fast for 12 hours before hand, but I generally don't eat much after 8, so that shouldn't be much of a problem.

I managed to work out some DVD things. I saved some Flying Karamozov Brothers videos to DVD that I was worried might be losing resolution on the VHS tapes we have. The hard part was the longer of the videos was too long for standard "single layer", so I futzed with trying to save it to dual-layer to find out that most DVD players (for TVs, not computers) don't understand the DVD+R dual layer format. Sheesh! I did find that one of the users of the software I'm using had a similar problem and had the video compress to fit on a regular DVD and it worked. So this weekend I did that, and indeed, it did work, the video resolution is no worse (that I can see) from the VHS (which was never great in the first place, although it is watchable), and there we are. Now I can start learning about titles and credits and get the Golden Stag Player videos going. Oh my.

My client in NY had a busy week last week and wasn't able to do any testing. Sigh. However, things are back in the running this week. I hope to finish some issues with importing the old data, and also importing data from the suppliers, so I can move on to fine-tuning the rest of the application and hopefully finishing it. Once that's done, I intend to start looking for a real job. Sigh.

My two dBASE books -- one is in process (the second) and the revision of the first book is ready to go ... Hope to hear back on the second book soon. Had the "design" meeting last week, and the designers had little to do, which was as it should have been. That was the plan all along.

March 6

Not a lot to say (except that I do anyway), but ...

Our Anniversary Dinner was going to be nice and simple, thought we'd go to The Back 40, a nice BBQ restaurant nearby (the place I took mom and Tim last fall). Unfortunately it seems that on a Thursday night, the place was packed, and the wait time for a table for two was 35 minutes. Good lord! So we left, and drove to downtown Walnut Creek. The goal was to park on N. Main and find a small restaurant there to check out (there are a lot of them). That didn't happen either -- North Main is hard to find parking on during the day, it was just as hard at night. Gave up. Drove to the big parking garage, and tried out a restaurant neither of us was familiar with -- "Stanford's". Nice place, good food, good service, not too pricey. Damn. That worked out well.

Went to the hospital last week with CJ to have blood drawn for testing. Nearly passed out, as expected. Sigh. I suppose I should have warned the intern. The results are coming back online, and are better than they might have been. Two flags that I expect I'll be talking with the doctor about, the others are in ranges that appear to be okay.

Saw Don and BJ for the first time in awhile, because things have been crazy -- between CJ's work schedule and BJ's work schedule, and of course their family obligations as well as ours, finding time to see these good friends has been hard. Spent the afternoon with them on Sunday. They've been having a resistance pool put in, in their back yard -- it is in its own building. Really spiffy. We took swimsuits and got to play in the pool. There's still a bit of work to be done on the building, but between rain and schedules, it's not quite done, but the pool works. Don and BJ are using it for exercise. It's got a device that creates a current in the pool, and you can set the resistance levels, so you have a short pool, swim against the current, and can get a helluva workout. That was fun. Went to dinner with them and enjoyed their company. I am sorry our schedules are so out of wack sometimes. They're good folk.

Books -- well, the second book is now at the "hurry up and wait" phase, and I hate it. I am waiting for the galley to arrive, since it's too big to download online (anything bigger than 50MB is too big ... people are writing tiny books, I guess). The second is waiting for me to have the $150 sitting around to start the process for the revision (basically the same process, but the same ISBN is given to the new version of the book, and they pull the old one out of the process replacing it with the new one, once it's approved).

Work -- not much. My NY client had a week out for a show, and a week of recovery from the show (getting things in control), so little or no testing last week. This week I think we've fine-tuned and tweaked some things to the point that if they're not running exactly as he wants, they're close. I really want/need to get this done. It's been a very frustrating process. The client is a nice guy, but good lord, what a mess.

SCA -- nothing to report, really. Haven't been to any events for a bit. Saturday is the next Heraldic Collegium (the timing sucks, a friend is running a gaming convention that I would have gone to if not for this collegium, but I am a senior herald ... I should show support for these things ... being a responsible person is annoying at times <g>). Things are of course picking up for events, with March Crown two weeks after the Collegium, and Mists Coronet the weekend after that. So it'll get busy soon enough.

DVDS -- the Flying Karamozov ones seem to be fine. Started, but just barely, the Golden Stag Player videos. I need to eventually do a test DVD for the first set, but I want to finish one part. I need the cash to get a larger external hard drive, too, so I can back all the video stuff up off the main drive. Figures. Money -- it's always money ...

March 12

I got the letter from my doctor with the blood test results ... the basics are:

"Your triglycerides (fats) are elevated; a lowfat diet will be helpful. All other tests look OK."

With tons of detail.

The one I was really worried about was diabetes. This is the "glucose fasting" result, which is 75mg/dL, with a "normal range" of 60-99, and according to details attached to the first page, between 100 and 125 might indicate pre-diabetes, and over 125 might indicate diabetes. Whew. I was really worried about diabetes because both my father and his mother were diabetic. I am clear there. They give a "normal range" for most of the tests, and I am, except for as noticed before ("Triglycerides" high and "HDL" is low), I'm apparently in decent shape.

Guess I need to start working on a lower-fat diet than I've been doing. That's hard to do -- everything has fat in it, and fat is where the flavor is with most meats. I eat a lot of chicken, and when I fry things it's usually in olive oil, but ... oh well. Gotta work on that.

Overall I'm fairly pleased, but the notes from the hospital state that the high Tryglycerides and low HDL levels bring the chances of heart disease up ... sigh. I suppose if I add more veggies to the mix it'll help ... (time to start drinking V8, and all that -- we've been doing salads a lot, but ...).

I have also started more exercise. Hope to get back onto the Nordic Track in the next couple weeks.

Spring

March 24

Little bits and things ...

My client in NY got sick, and that's been hard, because it means he hasn't been able to do any testing until this week. However, we may finally have one search routine working properly (it's a bear, because of the data he gets from one of his suppliers ... looping searches, complex monster).

My second book is available for order from the publisher. Yeah!

The first book is in the revision process, I'm waiting for the galley and cover for approval and hopefully that will get done soon.

And I'm going to be contacting a headhunter on Monday with my resume, and start looking at real jobs again. Sigh.

Carolyn and I are working on a big birthday party for my 50th birthday, the party will be on the Saturday after the actual birthday. It ought to be fun.

SCA: normally we'd be at March Crown, but CJ couldn't get off work yesterday, and the drive is such that we decided not to bother day-tripping (Red Bluff -- probably 6 hours each way). We'll be going to Coronet next weekend and camping, it's much closer, and she can get Friday off work.

Joined the AARP, because, well ... it's not expensive, has a bunch of benefits, and I am, after all, turning 50 in less than a month.

Not a lot to day other than the above. Feeling a bit tired, but then it's 6am, and I've been up for most of an hour, because I had to feed the cats (and wasn't sleeping well anyway, sigh).

April 11

As usual, things have been weird, crazy, busy, and ...

Let's see. The resume went out on Monster and DICE, and I updated my View Ken Mayer's profile on LinkedIn and it seems to be starting to get somewhere. I have an interview tomorrow afternoon with a headhunter who has a permanent full-time job in San Francisco ... and another headhunter contacted me with a contract job, but don't know if/when I 'll hear back on that.

Still working with my client in New York. We've gotten past some of the biggest hurdles, but he was sick for awhile, and I am not sure is fully recovered. There are some nasty bugs out there.

SCA: we camped Mists Coronet. Nice event, not a lot to say, but it was nice.

I started added event descriptions from old newsletters for the West Kingdom's (more SCA stuff) History website. That's been a blend of really fun and funny and interesting to a bit tedious, but that's bound to happen. I have most of the first 16 years taken care of. Good lord. (We're about to start the 42nd year ...)

Exercise: some. Not really as much as I ought, but ... there you go. I have been doing the floor exercises (leg lifts, situps and pushups) most work-days, but the Nordic Track is a hard one to get started back on. I don't know why, but ...

And today, in the middle of juggling a bunch of stuff, I got an email from an old pal from High School, Sam Rose. He said it would be okay to post his email message, I don't want to post email addresses because of spammers, but here's what Sam had to say -- I found it fun to hear about old friends again:

Hi Ken!
I know you didn't expect to hear from me but you put your autobio out there on the web and through the wonders of the Internet, I finally found it. I remember hearing about you writing that and thinking, "I should look that up" but then it slipped my mind. I came across it after reading an article saying how nowadays, people Google their dates to find some background on them. So, I Googled my wife to see what would come up. Lo and behold, your autobio mentioned her (and me)!

I married Laura Imlach (now Rose) almost 8 years ago. We have a beautiful little girl who is 6.5 years old, named Celia. Laura and I re-met in late '95 after both of us had practice marriages. She has 2 older boys, now 22 and 24 but I convinced her to start the family thing over again with me. She is an elementary school librarian at Campbell Elementary here in Anchortown.

I am a chiropractor and had my own practice for about 6 years. I moved my practice and joined an established clinic - Community Chiropractic Clinic in '02 (www.CommunityChiroAK.com). I really love helping people improve their health and enjoy what I do (although fighting insurance companies to get paid is a pain).

Reading your bio, I was struck by some similarities in our pasts. I too went to UAF but in '76'-77. I was in 3 out of the 4 plays up there that year. I transferred to Oregon State the next year and roomed with Steve Gonnason. I also took a stage makeup class that year and was into fencing. Then I dropped out for a couple of years and moved to Juneau. I worked in the Legislature but kept my hand in theater as well (I also waited tables and drove a tour bus). When I decided to go back to school, I ended up at University of California, Santa Cruz. I loved the Bay Area but had to move back to Anchorage to help my dad, who was going through a major depression. When I decided to go back for chiropractic college, I again chose California - in Sunnyvale at Palmer College of Chiropractic, West.

I keep in touch with some of the folks you mention in your bio. Eric Johnson, Al Levy, Brian McClaskey (you might want to change the spelling of his name in your bio), Patti Irwin, Adrian and Karl Dube. I've occasionally run into some of our other compatriots through the above mentioned cast of characters - Ted Mahalich (sp?) came up a few years ago, as has Steve Gonnason. I had the honor of marrying Eric and his wife, a wonderful woman from the Dominican Republic named Antonia. She has a beautiful daughter 2 years older than ours and we visited them in the D.R. before they settled here in Anchorage. Laura did their wedding cake and it was amazing (as all her cakes are). They own the house Patti Irwin is living in, right next door to Adrian and Karl.

Laura also did the wedding cake for Al Levy when he married a beautiful woman from Russia named Olga. Al got his Masters degree in counseling and is working on getting into a Ph.D. program. He has a private practice and seems to be doing well.

Other connections: Brian and Claire were married for 20 years but grew apart. They divorced amicably and I introduced Brian to the woman he's been with for 5 years, by the name of Colleen. Claire re-married, lives here in Anchorage, and is very happy.

OK, I think that is enough for an initial email! I didn't want to bury you with all of this info but after reading your site last night, I couldn't wait to touch base. I'm also going to contact Greg Gadberry, thanks to you.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Sam Rose.

Wow, Sam married Laura Imlach. Cool. I liked her ... there are photos back in earlier parts of the bio covering my high school days, of most of the folk mentioned in Sam's email. (Any of my old friends -- if you want to get in touch with Sam, or anyone else I have gotten email from, please let me know, and I will be happy to send email addresses to folk ...)

April 25

Finally took my cat in to be tested, since the other night he threw up -- practically projectile vomiting. Sigh. The problem? He has diabetes. ACK! Poor baby. Luckily for me, Carolyn is willing to give him the insulin shots necessary to keep it under control (with my fear of needles?), but ... oh, that poor beast. Okay, he's 9+ years old, but still ... and his brother Rebo appears to be fine.

What a start for my birthday. Sigh. Yes, I'm 50 today. Good lord. It's hard to believe. Except for a few pains here and there, most of which come and go, depending on the amount of exercise I'm doing (or not -- it's the "not" that often leaves me with more pain) -- none of which are all that bad ... the white in my beard, and the loss of hair that is happening, I don't FEEL old. Okay, I realize that in today's world, 50 isn't that old, but still ...

So, we're planning a party for Saturday. It's looking like 25 or so people may be there. Not a huge party, but oh well. The problem is that it's the week before Beltane (major SCA event), and it's tourney season in the SCA in general. There are a lot of events happening, and most of my SCA friends are pretty darn active. I know I didn't invite everyone I could have, but ...

On other fronts ... the job search is horrid and slow ... most of the nibbles I've gotten are not ones I'm interested in (partially because I know that I won't get the damn job ... one of the reasons I took SQA off the options, despite my 8 years of experience, is that most SQA jobs require experience with software that I've never seen or heard of for automating tests ... long story short, I've never used anything like that -- when doing automated testing with dBASE, the software that ran the tests was written by someone else at Borland, and the tests themselves were in the dBASE language, not using some third-party tool ...) -- or the job is in a place that I am not commuting to (my car can't handle it, nor can my psyche ... three years of commuting in this freeway hell-hole, with one accident each year, and I don't want to do that again!). I do need to try to the teacher route for some of the schools, as well. I've been sort of putting that off ... but I need to really get my ass in gear.

My New York client and I have finally got the major thorn-in-the-side issues with the data from his supplier taken care of, we both think. Good lord was that a nightmare.

Well, I'm just wasting time right now. I suppose I ought to do something, but with my cat being ill, it's hard for me to want to focus on anything else.

April 26

On top of it all, I took the car in for maintenance to find that the head gasket was blown. ACK! The universe is dumping on us this week! This is going to cost $2000-$3000, and then there's the car rental so we can still do the things we need to during the week while the car is being fixed.

Good lord! This is the week of my birthday, it's supposed to be a good week.

Well, okay. I know, it's not supposed to be any kind of week, but still.

May 4

It's been a time of mixed blessings, that's for sure. The birthday party for my 50th birthday was great (see Photos below). Not everyone made it who planned to, but that happens (there was a major SCA event that day, and it ran later than some folk expected, so they weren't able to come up to this side of the world until too late to make it worthwhile). My in-laws were there, and that was great. They're such good people (I really do adore them). I got some nifty presents (much more than I expected!), great (very funny) cards, we had lots of good food, chattage, and hanging out. That's what I wanted for the party, and thats what I got. This is the first birthday party I've had in years, and I only did it this time because it was my 50th birthday. Any other birthday and Carolyn and I would have just gone out to dinner or something. Maybe if I hit 75 I'll do a biggie again.

On the plus side, the second edition of my first book is finally available, and Zootie is doing better -- the insulin seems to really be helping. He's got more energy, and I took him back in a couple days ago to have another blood test done -- blood sugar levels have definitely dropped -- not enough to reduce the dosage, but it's a good start. In two weeks he goes back for yet another test, and we'll see if maybe we can reduce the dosage at that point.

On the downside, due to the financial foo from last week (the car cost us over $3000 with the cost of the rental thrown in ... we had to have the heads milled -- not replaced which was good, the radiator and oxygen sensors replaced, the dipstick and bracket replaced, and then there was the maintenance ... yipe!), we're not going to Beltane like usual this year. This is a fun event at a stunning site (a sheep ranch outside of Cloverdale), and this is the first Beltane Coronation we've missed in years. Well, actually CJ is going tomorrow as a day-trip. She is delivering an award scroll, the one she considers her masterpiece to date. It's stunning, and we have photos -- tomorrow they'll be available on the History website ... I'm a little bummed that I'm not going, but it's probably just as well. Sigh.

The job search continues. It's slow. I don't want to jinx anything, but one headhunter may have something good as a 6 month contract. Guess we'll see how that goes. (Knock on silicon ...) Nothing else is going very far very fast. I keep running into the "require x amount of time with y and z software" type problems, which I don't have. Figures.

My NY Client is still there, and we're slowly finishing things up. The big woojoo stuff that was making me crazy seems to finally have gotten resolved, and now it's fine-tuning the application, all those little things, making sure the data is transferred and moved around the way it needs to be, and so on. Good lord, what a monster project that has been. The good side of it is that my contact at the company is a very nice guy, and is pretty easy going about a lot of things. It would be a lot harder otherwise.

June 1

Wow -- nearly a month between postings.

The last month has been a weird mix of things.

Zootie (the cat with diabetes) seems to be fine. He's taking the shots just fine, no biggie. The car is still running (although two days ago I had to replace the battery ... sigh).

Job search went on a weird twist. I'm still doing the project for my NY client, but last week (on Tuesday) I got a call from Heald College. They needed an instructor soon, who could teach an introduction to software applications course. So ... um, sure. I went in and interviewed on Wednesday. I was given the job after the interview and presentation. It's a part time thing, the pay is not great, but it's something. And it could lead to other things. The school however is doing something that for this campus they've never done before -- a mid-quarter start; and five-week classes. Apparently normally they have done 10 week classes only. So, things all came together fast, I got book, some CDs, a ton of handouts and paperwork, and got to put together a syllabus based on the course outlines for corporate for this class. Everything was a bit rushed. The school was a bit flummoxed by some of it, and I didn't get my keys until the day before my first class, I was never told how to use some of the equipment like the overhead projector (luckily it wasn't too hard to figure out), and so on. My first class was yesterday (May 31). I'm teaching the five week course, two days a week, four hours a day ... I don't know how long this will continue. I got the official "offer letter" yesterday that says that the offer is for one quarter (which means two classes, I guess), which they can extend if both parties agree. There are still some userids I need to do everything properly, but mostly it's all coming together. This first class of students has a good mix of fairly quick people and some who are really nervous and not sure of themselves. (About normal, really, based on classes I've taught in the past.) But ... it's going on the resume, and all that. I enjoyed teaching at the Alaska Computer Institute and at Computer Learning Center when I held those jobs, and the vocational school thing is rather interesting. The students usually really do want to be there, among other things ...

Health -- nothing new.

Carolyn's aunt died a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn't something that surprised anyone. She had been lingering and holding on. It was mostly a relief, I think. There's some inheritance that CJ will get at some point (as well as her brother and sister). While not a huge amount, it'll help us feel a bit better about financial things.

Speaking of financial things, our home loan was about to go out of fixed-rate into adjustable, which with the current rates, is a bad thing™. However, CJ went online and worked with a lender, and within a week and a half we have a refinance, the monthly payments go down a little, and we keep the fixed rate we had. We did the evening of signing a stack of paperwork, and everything's taken care of. Weird. It used to take a month or more, now a week and a half. (It didn't hurt that our credit score is really good ...)

June 11

The "Heald-thing" is settling in. I've done three class sessions (out of ten), and think I'm prepared for tomorrow. Whew. It's been fun, despite the crush/crunch/anxiety/etc. A lot of that is really "first time teaching this class" stuff, and so I'm doing my best to make sure that the students are getting the most out of it, despite my fumbling sometimes. The password situation seems to be under control, and I'm now able to post grades in the online system so the students can see them and all that. Whew.

I hope this pans out to something bigger, because I had almost forgotten just how much I really enjoy teaching this kind of class. Well, we'll have to see. I suppose in a couple of weeks I should start re-posting my resume (with Heald on it, that will help, I hope!).

Not a lot happening, and yet I feel like I'm swamped. A lot of it is preparation for the classes I'm teaching -- first time out, I want to cover the material properly, but that takes a lot of effort. Once I've gotten through it at least once, it'll be easier, I recall from the last time I taught professionally.

On other fronts, not much. The home loan refinance is done-done, just in time. Rates are starting to adjust upward, and we avoided that. Whew.

Health -- okee dokee. I'm trying to get in the leg-lift/situp/pushup routine every morning, but that's hard to do the days I head to the school to do things, because I'm trying to be there early for class, and all.

CJ is heading off to Charlotte, NC this weekend (leaving Thursday evening on a red-eye flight with her sister) for a big to-do for her aunt and Uncle's 50th anniversary. The airfare is being paid for by her mom, who doesn't feel she can go. Luckily our cat-sitter is willing to come over and give Zootie his insulin shots. (It's not cheap, but ... I can't deal with needles ... sigh.)

The car is holding up, although the day before my first class the battery died ... sheesh. Lucky that was a simple one to deal with, but another $200 into the car. Good thing the campus is only 10-15 minutes driving time from here, sheesh!

The other work stuff (my other clients ...): the guy in Pleasanton appears to be done-done. The guy in NY due to a combination of health, and just busy, hasn't been able to do as much testing as we'd like, but slowly we're making progress on finishing this up. Ooof.

That's really about it. Oh, a big birthday party for my friend John (Leohtulf) and another person whom I like but don't know as well -- both of them turn/turned 40 within a month of each other, so a big "superhero" themed birthday party. Fun ... that was yesterday.

SCA -- we've not been to a lot of events. Between car/cat/other finance stuff, and just being busy ... however, Wednesday I'm traveling to the S. Bay to teach a heraldry class for the Queen's Guard (and some others). Then again next month on a Sunday, to Turlock (Canale in the SCA) for more QG (and others). What the hey? It's fun to do. Not sure if CJ can go Wednesday, as she's feeling a bit overloaded lately. S'okay, I can make do if I need to.

Summer

July 3

Summer has hit. Life's been crazed.

The class at Heald that I've been teaching is about to end (today is the final), and there's a three week break before new classes start. However, I don't know if I'll be teaching even then, as the five-week class I'm teaching now is a mid-quarter start -- this means five weeks into the quarter. So that could mean up to 8 weeks! Ack. I have told the Dean I'm interested in teaching more, so we'll see what happens.

On other fronts ... the car. Sigh. A week+ ago we drove to Sacramento for June Crown, although we didn't camp. We stayed at a hotel (air conditioning in that heat was a blessing!). We drove home and all was well. Monday after the event, when picking CJ up from BART, the transmission started acting up. The good side -- it wasn't on the way home from Sacramento! By the time we had gotten to the grocery store it was pretty bad. We shopped, got groceries, loaded the car, and ... it wouldn't move (not in reverse). Called a AAA, got a tow truck out, he suggested trying forward/drive, and it ran, but not well. Went home, dropped off the groceries, and towed the car to the shop.

Got a rental the next morning (just barely got to Heald on time -- eeek! luckily I called them the night before). Heard back from the mechanic later that day to find that to properly fix the car it would cost $2,700 (the transmission). ACK! He replaced some of the transmission fluid and a filter (for only $200) and we decided we'd limp the car along for a bit (the mechanic said he wouldn't suggest driving it to Vallejo -- not that far from here). The car was turning into a money-pit. Well, it was 13 years old, we had it for 11 of those years ... I suppose it was bound to happen eventually.

We started looking at new cars, but only research ... Saturday we had narrowed it down to a couple vehicles. We test drove the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna. The Odyssey won by a small margin. Sunday we went back to the Honda dealer and bought the Odyssey. It's now in the garage, our faithful, but tired Taurus is no longer ours (and most likely will be junked, I fear). Wow. We have such good credit ratings because we pay our bills, and do all the right things, that getting the car loan was a snap. Weird.

That's all the news at this point. Various friends have had some sort of health issues, including one who has a staph infection that started in his nose (he's not happy). We're actually doing okay on that front. Zootie is still getting insulin shots by CJ.

Sales of my dBASE books is slow. The reports book has not yet made back what I put into it ... sigh.

CJ's work goes apace just fine, including the merger with Wachovia. She'll be heading back to Charlotte, NC, which is the home of Wachovia for something in a couple of weeks. Oy. My NY Client is still paying me and we're still trudging along trying to finish his monstrously complex application a bit at a time. He's sending me more recent data so my tests will match his tests (right now there's a lot of "I don't have that invoice ..." stuff going on. I hope the thing with Heald allows me more teaching time -- I've enjoyed the heck out of the one class, despite it being the first one I've taught in a long time (and the learning curve on my end) -- and would love to do more, I'd even be willing to get MS certified to teach advanced classes for some of this software. We'll see ...

July 27

So much has been going on that I haven't had time to update here. Let's see if I can catch up ...

Car Fun: So, the Odyssey has been a good purchase to date. We've been quite pleased with it. It handles great, etc. We haven't loaded it down for an SCA camping event yet, but I don't anticipate any issues there. We'll see.

The annoying thing is: It's in the shop. Already. I went to Turlock (see the SCA note below) to teach a class, and on the way back, in the Altamont Pass, I got side-swiped by some jerk in a large SUX/SUV (Expedition, Suburban, or something that big ...) who did a hit and run ... I literally felt the van jump/jerk to the left, straightened the car up, looked up and he was speeding off (didn't get a license plate). While I could have been in his blind spot, you would think he'd have felt it -- he almost surely did -- (he hit 5 of 7 panels on the passenger side of the van, banged the side mirror in, marked two windows with rubber or something) ... rackenfratzen. I'm okay (except for the damage to my psyche), and there was no one else in the van, thank goodness. The damage on the passenger side isn't bad enough that anyone in the passenger seat would have been hurt, but it would have been really hard on them, I think ...

We have to pay the deductible because the jerk ran, and I didn't get his license. I hope something bad happens to him ... or his vehicle ... or both. I wouldn't wish a horrid accident on anyone really (no matter how angry I am about this), but I hope the jerk gets pulled over at some point for something else and gets the book thrown at him. There was no sign of a policeman in the pass -- not real surprising. The Altamont Pass is frustrating because, at least coming back toward Livermore, the freeway has just opened up to four lanes after spending a really maddening time at 2 lanes through the Tracy area -- and when there's lots of traffic, it gets very tiring. So people get all pent up and as soon as the traffic opens to four lanes they go a bit crazy. I've never been hit there before, although I don't travel that area much. The furthest in that direction we usually get is Livermore which is before the pass ...

So, we're back to renting a car for a few days while the car gets fixed. Not real happy. Everytime I think about the accident I start getting angry again.

Work: My NY Client and I are still working on completing his application. It's been tricky between his being ill, busy, having a family wedding taking up a whole weekend and then catching up from that, and so on ... and of course my being busy. But we're making progress. Slow, but progress is progress.

The good news is that they like me well enough at Heald, that this Quarter not only am I teaching a full quarter for the Intro class that I taught last quarter, and the mid-quarter start (which means 10 weeks for the full quarter, and then at the 6th week starting the mid-quarter class), I got asked, the Friday before the quarter started (a week ago) to teach a class on Word Processing (Word 2003). Kewl. However, the class started the next Monday. EEK! Talk about scrambling. When I started the Intro class the last time I had a couple weeks to try to get my stuff together, this time it was with less time. However, with the help of some of the other instructors, that seems to be coming together. The one frustrating bit right now is that after the first two class sessions, some of the students still don't have their books. (I got the class because they had 47 or something students signed up for it, and that's too many students for a single teacher to deal with, not to mention none of the classrooms has enough computers for that many students. The bookstore at the campus wasn't prepared for that, either, and the publisher hasn't caught up -- hopefully by Monday ...)

What this means is that I'm teaching two classes on Monday/Wednesday, and am at the school from about 7am to at least 2pm (my second class ends at 2), although frankly if there's not another class after, I could stay and give some students some "catchup" time. Then at mid-quarter, on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have a class from 8 to noon, so I'll be there at least from 7am to 12pm, maybe a bit later.

In theory I should be getting the Microsoft certification for the Word class, but things have been crazed -- beginning of a new quarter at the school. I'll talk to the Dean about this in a week or so, I think.

One problem is that in my last class one student failed, and was upset about it (felt she'd been treated unfairly) and we had to deal with that. I won't get into a lot of details, except to note that the Dean put the fact that she failed on her shoulders -- she was the one who missed school because "she didn't understand the topic, so why bother?", she was the one who didn't put the effort into learning the material, and because of some of her attitude, he told her squarely (I was there and heard it) that this was the only chance she would get to challenge a failing grade like that -- he wouldn't help her out the next time. The Dean is a good guy, mostly soft-spoken, and so on. It was impressive to see him become a father-figure all of a sudden, and have the girl (and she's young enough I think of her as a girl -- early 20s at the oldest) be all contrite ... He was concerned that throughout this process it might damage our relationship (the Dean and mine -- we've been getting along well, and he's been impressed with me, I think), so I had to reassure him there that there was no problem there.

I do want to note that I'm having a great time teaching at Heald, despite anything that might sound like a complaint. I had forgotten how much I really enjoy it. Yes, it's a lot of work, but I also take it seriously and want the students to get as much out of it as possible, which is WHY it's a lot of work.

CJ and Work: Not much to say, except that's been busy. Her trip to Charlotte for work has been postponed. Not sure when that will happen now. She's still pretty happy with work, and all, despite any frustrations (which job doesn't have those?). She really enjoys what she's doing ... which is good.

On the SCA front, things have ranged from not all that busy to weird and really busy. We have the Golden Stag Players gearing up for the play at 12th Night. We take this seriously enough that we're doing auditions this coming Sunday (at the A&S event), and the Sunday after, and going right into rehearsals the Sunday after that. Seems a bit extreme, but what we're doing is not all that easy -- we're doing an unscripted Commedia (meaning it's improvised), but we want to do it as close as we can to period, which is not easy.

In addition, we're going to A&S Saturday because CJ is teaching some classes. It won't be as hot this year as last (the site last year got up into the 107-110° range, we didn't go ... it would have killed us ...). And of course on Sunday we have (as noted above) auditions for the next play.

I have been drafted to teach Heraldry classes for the Queen's Guard. Last Sunday I drove to Turlock and back in our new van (details elsewhere), and got side-swiped on the way back. The worst part is that (no fault of the person who put the class together) only two students showed up, and one of them had a coat of arms ... sigh. I've made sure the Queen knows about this. Grumble, mutter.

Otherwise, well, folk are also gearing up for the Pennsic War on the east coast -- a lot of Westerners are going, so that means things will be quiet around here for a couple weeks.

Not sure if we're going to Purgatorio -- it means a lot of driving, as it's up near Reno. Even if we don't camp and hotel it (it'll be hot ... really hot) ... I'm kind of torn. I mean, the royalty stepping up are some really spiffy people, and I like them. Their last reign was a good one. However ... well ... it is a LONG drive and all that.

September 6

It's hard to believe it's been a month+ since I last updated here, but things have been rather crazed.

Work: Full Quarter first -- that's the one that started in July. Mostly good. The Intro class has gotten small -- I think I have 8 active students in it, with a couple on the roster who aren't showing up ... The Word class has been a real challenge. But it's been fun. I've learned a lot, and while I'm having to dock points for the most amazing things on some assignments, the students who want to do this are doing well. There are some who just aren't listening while I lecture. I don't know why not, but ... you can't force 'em.

The mid-quarter start Intro class. Ooof. The week before the class started, on Thursday, there were 33 students. That's a lot, but it's doable. Went to orientation that day, because I was asked to, so what the heck? By the time the orientation was over, the number had jumped to 35 or more. Friday, the number was up to 47 ... eeeek! That's too much for any instructor, even if they had a Teaching Assistant, and there aren't enough computers in any classroom for that many.

The class got split with lots of foo. It was a bit of a mess, but ... oh well. I figured I'd start catching them up. Unfortunately I have a slow student in my half of the class. I mean very slow. He even talked to me about it ... argh. This is slowing me down. Figures.

Oh well. It's a bit more stressy than I'd like, but I'm doing everything I can to keep the humor up in class, and keep things moving along. It's not easy, that's for sure. I'm certainly earning my pay this time.

I've also been helping the teacher who took over the other half of my class. She got 1 day's notice to try to prepare. So she's stressing a bit ... I spent a couple hours after class the other day showing her some things with one of the teaching tool software packages, and discussing some of her concerns about "being in charge" of the class, and trying to give some advice on how to take control back. Hope it helped.

Other than the school thing, well, some work is happening with the NY client. I've been dealing with some nasty stuff that happened because he had a crash that corrupted a record, and the data import routine started giving weird errors and causing heartburn. I seem to have worked around all that, and now it's working on some MORE weirdness with some of the stupid data design the client's brother did years ago. I have to use some of that, and it makes me crazy ... I've jumped through hoops to make this thing work, and it's still not quite there. Part of me just wants this project done-done. Sigh. It's hard to get angry with the client, because he's a really nice guy, and he does know what is not right in the software, but it's frustrating to have spent a year and nearly 3/4 and not be done with this thing.

On other fronts, well, life's been busy. The van is working great now. The body shop did a good job and all is well there. No further incidents (knock on silicon) ...

We broke down and got Comcast Cable Internet, so we have a broadband connection again. After well over 3 years, it's nice to be surfing the web at a decent speed again.

SCA -- not much to say. We've been attending the Wednesday fighter practices, play rehearsals have started -- a bit rocky because we've had people out, and trying to get masks done, and ... we'll start getting more done soon. I know Wulfric (who wrote this scenario) is getting antsy, but he'll just have to hold onto his horses. Otherwise, we haven't been to a lot of events ... we will be going to Mists Bardic on Sunday.

A.C.T. -- the new season started with Sweeney Todd -- what a weird play. Okay, I've never seen any other version of it, but I knew it was going to be weird, because I've heard little bits and such. But it was weird. (Barber in London who kills people, and his girlfriend uses the meat for meat pies in her shop ... ick ...)

Well, that's a quick synopsis. It's been busy, but not a LOT to really write about without getting boring and dull.

Fall

October 1

Life has a way of moving on, even when you're tired, etc.

Last week was a hard one. First, finals at the school -- I was pretty tired by the time I was done Friday morning, getting the grades finished, turned in, and all that.

Friday evening, while making dinner, we got a phone call from a friend that Teresa McCartney (SCA: Teresa le Marchant) had passed away quietly in her sleep overnight -- she just went to bed and didn't wake up. The good side: it was over quick. The bad: well, shit, the fact that she died ... lots of folk have said what can be said about her at Teresa's Memorial on the West Kingdom History website, not a lot more I could say. The funeral is this coming Saturday, and we'll be there.

I found out today (we have a two-week break between quarters at the school) that I will be working next quarter, which is great. The income has made things a bit easier, and I hope to get a full-time position at the school if/when one comes up.

My mother-in-law sent a photo of me taken at my sister-in-law's place late in the spring, I've added it below. Pretty good shot of me watching Gail's cat be really goofy.

Other than that, well, the last month went by really quickly. In a week plus we'll be heading off to Stinson Beach for the annual family vacation. However, due to the job at Heald, I will be coming back on Friday for an "in service" day, and then leaving early (the vacation ends on Monday, but classes start that day, so I'll be driving back Sunday evening).

I have to say, the last week it's been almost chilly, with touches of attempts at rain. Weird. However, it does mean Fall came in, and it came in good and hard. I hope it means we get some rain this year -- we didn't really get enough last year, and if the same thing happens this year, well, water rationing is no fun ...

Not much else to say, really. Odd. Maybe it's just 'cause I'm tired.

October 22

Okay, been a few weeks ...

Other than Teresa's funeral, Stinson Beach, and the first week of the current quarter at Heald College, it's been rather ... well ... the usual. Oh yeah, I bought a new laptop computer. Nice HP Pavilion, large (wide-screen) screen, etc. Fast. OOOH. (On the geek-side -- I would never recommend an HP desktop computer -- HP is very non-standard when it comes to parts, but for a notebook computer -- well, they're all pretty much non-standard for parts, so it doesn't matter so much, and it is a nice machine ...)

So, let's see ... Teresa's funeral. In a way it was pleasant. It was a touch uncomfortable at the Episcopalian Church, because I am not religious, but they were pretty understanding about that, and didn't try to make anyone feel bad. I didn't participate in the readings, and just stood there respectfully. The reception after was nice. Good food, nice to see some folk, even though the reason for being there was not good. Still, I felt like a bit of closure happened. CJ had intended to go to the wake held last Thursday on Teresa's birthday, but couldn't make it -- work ran late, and so I was sick ...

After that, the week between the funeral and going to Stinson (well, partial week) was spent working on code for my NY client. Every time I think we're getting close, he or one of his employees finds something ... argh. The most annoying is finding that just when I thought all options were at least planned for, something weird comes up. Never-ending project. Oh well. He's a nice guy, and he's still writing (not huge, but ...) checks, so ...

Then we went to Stinson Beach. Oof. Well, it was pleasant, and the family (CJ's family, and this time some extended -- her step-father-in-law's brother and wife) were great. However, Stephanie (my niece) and my mother-in-law had colds. I got one of 'em. Sigh. We started on Wednesday this year. I can't remember why, but there you are. I had the computer with me, so I did some work, mostly preparing for the next quarter, which started on Monday (of last week) -- nominally the last day of vacation, but for me, well, Sunday was the last day. Anyway ... it was cold and rainy at Stinson a lot, until Saturday. Friday I drove back to Concord for the "In Service Day" for the faculty. Because I was there, I ended up being given a Word class, as they needed someone to cover it. So, I am teaching this quarter for the full quarter the Intro class, but this time in the evening (oy!) and the Word class in the afternoon; then at mid-quarter I get another intro class. Basically the same number of hours and such as last quarter, just with the Intro class in the evening rather than the morning. Oh well. Anyway, drove back ... it rained like crazy both ways. Sheesh. Spent Saturday feeling like crap because the cold hit. Hard. Sinuses, headache ... Sunday wasn't any better, and I left around 11 in the morning because I needed to just go home and crash.

My brother-in-law became enamoured of the computer, and may be buying one like it. He figures that if I, the computer jock, am happy with it, he should be too ...

Anyway, I didn't get out and play at Stinson because of the combination of sick, and/or weather ... sheesh. But I did get some good time with the nephew and niece, and a chance to at least chat some with everyone. I really do love this family. Like any family, there are days that individuals may be annoying, but overall, I really do love them. Good folk.

The quarter started at Heald last week. Been a bit crazy. I have 7 students for the Intro class I haven't seen, because the current policy allows for students to start classes up to one week after they start. This gives the admissions folk a chance to try to fill those classes, I guess. So, this evening while administering a quiz to the rest of the class, I will be talking to these folk and arranging for them to catch up. Fun. The Word class seems to be going okay. We'll see once they start their first independent assignments, probably today. The first day of class was really rough, as I was on sinus drugs to try to keep things under control ... ick. Lecture that way is a bit harder.

On the SCA front ...

As usual, we missed October Crown due to the Stinson Beach trip. It's possible (knock on silicon) that the schedule is actually worked out for next year and we won't have the same issue. We'll see.

Collegium was Saturday. Nice event as always. Not a lot to say about it, except I spent the day schmoozing. I probably ought to provide a better example and attend more classes. There were some I might have enjoyed. But I'm still getting over the cold ... yeah, that's the ticket.

Golden Stag Players -- rehearsals have been interesting. Since the purpose of this show is to be an improvisational (Commedia) performance, we've not been doing a lot of run-through type stuff, rather we've been focusing on characters. I am not sure how well it's working. Some folk it seems to be working better for than others. I also think there's a bit of resistance to what I'm trying to do, but that could just be normal paranoia, or something.

That said, rehearsal on Saturday was the first full run-through (well, except that the actress playing the lead trouble-maker character, the one driving the plot, wasn't there for most of rehearsal -- we worked around that as best we could). While very rough (heck, we still have two months!), it shows a lot of good stuff happening, a lot of ideas to keep, if not specific wording, and so on. The physical schtick (the lazzi, to use the proper Commedia dell'Arte term) have been all blocked out, which is good. Someone could get hurt with wooden swords and daggers moving around, punches being thrown, and all that. Now we need to rehearse them to the point that they move quickly, smoothly, and with no injuries ... All the usual timing stuff needs to be worked out.

October 24

Found out Monday evening after I got home from Heald, that an old acquaintance, Gaius, had passed away in his apartment, apparently from "natural causes". We haven't heard any more details than that yet. I immediately started the In Memoriam page on the West Kingdom History website, because, well ... if I didn't I wouldn't know what else to do (my comments are under my SCA name: Hirsch von Henford). I said, eventually, what I needed to about Gaius there. I was, and still am, a bit ambivalent about Gaius, so it made it harder to write anything. He was only a few years older than me, at best.

November 16

Wow. Three weeks since my last update. Lots of misc. stuff going on, but not a lot that I felt like writing about.

Play rehearsals are still happening, as are the usual SCA things. Nothing really outstanding happening, but that's good, I think.

Work has been ... well ... work. Between stuff for the NY Client (that never-ending project, although I'm making progress, I think, on some of the reports that are vital and need to be accurate ...), and work at Heald (starting the new Mid-quarter class on Tuesday ...), things have been pretty busy.

Thursday (coming up) is Thanksgiving. We're just having the sister-in-law (Gail) over this year. Small, but it should be pleasant (for the most part, anyway).

Just posted a photo of the bozo twins (our cats) below ...

The one really interesting thing is that I heard last week or the week before (gad, I've lost track already) from a long-lost (as it were) cousin. My father's side of the family is one we (my immediate family) were never close to, due to ... difficulties between my father and his sister. I put some things into the "Pre Alaska" part of this bio with some information that Robin gave me. Maybe at some point we can arrange to have a small gathering or something? Might be nice to actually meet Robin and her siblings (and families and ...) at least once ...

Winter

December 23

Typically, it's been a month+ since I last wrote anything here.

Winter came in hard to the Bay Area. It's been chilly. Carolyn loves it, on the other side of things, the heat's been on more than last year. Sigh. We've gotten some rain, but not up to where we should be by now. Perhaps a few more rainfalls will take care of it, but after Christmas, please!

The quarter at Heald ended for me on Thursday of the last week. Finals done, graded, all paperwork turned in. We get a long break before the next quarter starts (January 22, with orientation on the 17th). Good grief. This means little income, so I have to be a little cautious between now and then, but I have some buffer space. Not a lot, but ...

Christmas is coming fast (well, two days from now), and as always it's been a bit crazy. But overall we've been on top of things. I have most or all of my shopping done (anything left can wait to Twelfth Night in a couple weeks).

The play is overall coming along nicely. Still a bit rough, but it always feels that way from the inside. The audience generally doesn't notice things we do ... so we're probably fine. Those rough things keep the actors on their toes, though!

Part of me is getting excited about the trip to London (booked, paid for, airfare and the flat we're renting ...) at the end of March and early April. Woohoo! The only weirdness is that the school changed their schedule, so I will have to have a substitute for the last week+ -- we planned for the older schedule, and had no idea this was being contemplated. Oh well. We're going, and that's that! In addition to everything else we have planned to do, I'm spending an afternoon/evening (early in our stay) with the dBASE Users' Group in London. That'll be fun (I hope).


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A Few Photos

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

Ken's 50th Birthday Party (April 28):

Ken getting a good laugh
Photo by Tom Leffingwell

Ken examining the loot
Photo by Tom Leffingwell

BJ and Ken
Photo by Tom Leffingwell

Late Spring/Mid-Summer(?), Gail's House:


Ken watching Belle
Photo by Marge Leffingwell

The Cats (Rebo and Zootie)


Our Bozo Cats
Photo by Ken Mayer


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