A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 2008

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Winter

January 20

Gad. I didn't think it would take quite this long to get back here and write ... well ... something.

Things have been busy. It's been a month since the last quarter at Heald ended, and we're about to jump feet first into the new quarter. I'm working two classes (to start, I may get a mid-quarter later -- hope so, can use the $$), but they're both evenings. Sigh. (M/W for Intro, and T/TH for Word) The big problem with evenings is that I am the type of person who would prefer to spend the evening at home unwinding in from work ... but instead I'm GOING to work. Oh well. It's a job, and I can't really complain too loudly, since it's a job I enjoy. I have let the Dean know that I don't want to get stuck doing evening classes, however. (And also let him know I was interested in going full time, if/when an opening comes up ...) We're evaluating textbooks for the change to Office 2007 in the April quarter coming up. That's pretty fun, actually. Weird, but fun ... we need to have that done by the end of this week, so that contracts can be drawn up for the publisher, and all the little details completed for all of that.

Let's see ... January -- there's always 12th Night.
The play at 12th Night was pretty good, one of our better ones in the recent few years ... it was a commedia, based on Henry V. We had a lot of fun doing it ...

One of the big things of the day though was earlier -- first court. Aldith (Carolyn -- my wife's SCA name is Aldith Angharad St. George) was named a Court Baroness, but the best part was that a bunch of folk pooled money and had a Coronet made for her, which was available to place on her head as part of the ceremony. Pretty cool. The coronet had to go back to the jeweler to finish, but ... Aldith was pretty blown away by it all.

Other than that, 12th Night was a bit of a blur. After the play everything kind of disappeared in my head. Schmoozing (as always), and ... well ... not a lot else. Got to court in time to be there for the fealty oaths of the peerage, which is all well and good. Then left a bit after ...

12th Night is a big cocktail party to some extent, and it just gets odd. But it was fun.

There's a photo (see below) of me at 12th Night as the Prologue for the play ...

My New York client and I have been beating up hard on the Invoice process for his application, with the hopes that he can get some of his employees testing it more thoroughly in the near future. Gah. What a headache that's been. This job started nearly two years ago ... but it looks like we may actually be getting somewhere. Some of the worst headaches (dealing with data from suppliers and such) are behind us, but now we're down to the day-to-day stuff, which obviously has to work properly ...

I think I gained more weight than I expected this last holiday season, and need to do something about that. Sigh. Time to start paying more attention, and try getting SOME exercise in. Even if it's just the floor exercises (situps, etc.) will help at least some.

Well, can't think of much else without just plain rambling, other than to mention that we're really looking forward to the trip to London in April (arrive March 31st, leave the 8th ...).

February 7

Lots of little things have been happening, as will, in life.

The NY Client and I have been going 'round and 'round with some issues, but I think we're finally getting there. I had something weird happen with code last week where some earlier code overwrote some of the new stuff, and I had to go back and fix a bunch of things that had been working. That was weird and annoying, to put it mildly.

Looking back at the last entry, I haven't gotten started on the exercise thing. It's hard to force oneself back into a routine that you've been off of for some time. I have got to really work on that, though. The hard thing is that I get involved in coding (see above, and of course on other things as well), and forget the time. When I look up and realize it's 7:30 or 8:30 or ... I do a mad scramble, go shower and do my other ablutions, get dressed, and make coffee ... I need to force myself to stop doing whatever I'm doing at around 6 (when the spouse leaves for work, which is a good indicator) and get my ass in gear and start exercising a bit. I'm going to have to back up to probably 15 each of the floor exercises (I was doing 30 when I stopped for whatever reason) anyway ... sheesh.

My classes at Heald are going well, as far as I can see. The new procedures we're using to try to retain students aren't really all that bad, but since I only have at the moment one class a day (well, evening), I'm not as stressed. Those who are doing several classes in one day, who are supposed to fill out reports between classes, and so on have it harder, I'm sure. Had a pleasant chat with the dean who hired me the other day, and ended up finding out that they're planning on me doing the mid-quarter class in a few weeks, which is great. I reminded both of the deans that I will be on vacation the last week of class and the days of the final exams, and they're okay with that. I have time to get substitutes to cover me for those class sessions and administer the final exams. I'll grade things when we get back from London ... I'm working on studying up for the Word 2007 MCAS (Microsoft Certified Application Specialist) exam, which will help put me in better staid at the school toward going full-time. After I get that one, I think I'll start on the PowerPoint exam. From there it'll be either Access or Excel - not sure which first. I want to get these certs so that I'm better qualified to teach the classes, and so that I can, as noted, hopefully go full-time once an opening occurs. There are other options as well, the school is opening up some new staff positions (which will include some teaching), and I may apply for one of them ... No guarantees of course, but ...

(Speaking of London ...) Have had some good chats with the folk hosting the dBASE Users' Group session in London. We're trying to work out an agenda for a 5+ hour meeting, so that no one's time is wasted, and ... I'm really looking forward to it.

Carolyn's job is keeping her busy, but not actually (as far as I can see) as bad as before the merger. She's not working as many really late hours, and seldom works weekends. Not a lot else to say there. We're coming up (later this month) on our 14th wedding anniversary ... not too shabby ...

Spring

March 20

Typically, I haven't updated much here. Our wedding anniversary came and went with CJ in Texas for her company ... figures. We had a quiet dinner here after she got back. It was our 14th anniversary. Hope they don't mess up our 15th!

A couple weeks ago I managed to come down with a flu ... that was not fun. I ended up missing classes, and more. Serious fever dreams, nasty stuff. Sigh. I'm recovering, but not in the greatest shape even now. My sinuses are mostly done draining; I'm mostly done hacking stuff up out of my lungs; and the muscle I pulled in my back (probably sleeping in the same position too long or something stupid) is lightening up finally. Sheesh.

This quarter at school has been crazed. My full quarter (evening) classes are keeping me busy, but they have also kept me from a) the fighter practice at Brion and Ysabella's which is frustrating (I love visiting with the crowd there); and b) seeing two shows (well, one next week) at A.C.T. for which the spouse and I have season tickets. Sigh.

In addition, I got the mid-quarter Intro class. It's 31 students (I think -- the numbers sometimes change). This group are a bunch of go-getters (well, mostly), and it's been amusing to watch them push for perfect scores on their assignments, and their annoyance with their quiz scores. It's cool, but amusing at times. Due to schedules, I am teaching this one four days a week, two hours a day, rather than the usual 2 days a week at four hours each day. It makes for a lot of work, but I actually am enjoying this group a lot.

Then around the same time as the midquarter, a teacher who's been at the school for many years decided to retire (some emotional foo in her life), and I got asked to take on a class I've never taught -- Professional Career Development -- a required class for all students at Heald in their last couple-three quarters. The focus is resumes, interviews, communication, etc. It's an interesting course, and it would be fun to teach from the beginning of the quarter. Unfortunately the teacher who retired didn't turn in all the assignments the students had done to date, and hadn't graded anything ... argh. That's been weird.

And next quarter we're shifting to Office 2007, which will be interesting. I hope everything gets set up smoothly ... all the student files needed for exercises, and such.

Add to it all the fact that next week is the last week I'll be in classes, as the week after we're going to London (see other postings about schedules and such ... sigh). I have substitutes lined up for each class for each day I'll be out. Whatta pain. I've also substituted a few times, that's been weird, too.

On other fronts, my NY client is reaching the point where the app is starting to look like we may actually be able to go into production in the next couple months (he's out of town this week, and again the London trip ...). It would be nice to finish this darn thing.

SCA-Wise, not much. We're day-tripping March Crown this coming weekend, and Sunday I'll be spending time working on my presentations for the dBASE Users' Group in England.

The weekend after is the weekend before we go to London, and it's all the frantic getting ready. (Not to mention finishing the papers I need to for my time with the dBASE Users' Group ...) Both of us have purchased British Pounds from the bank so we have cash, we're notifying our Credit Card companies, and all that ... trying to avoid any problems/issues ...

Trying to line up the other stuff we need to take (I have some power converters, for example ...) ... all that fun stuff.

April 13

Back from London. Mostly relaxed, a bit tired still (some of that is just my usual insomnia/sleeping problem, though). I have just completed the Travelogue for the trip: Travelogue - London, 2008. This includes photos, discussions of what we did, etc. Hopefully it will be interesting/amusing.

The day after we returned (April 10) I went in to the school and spent 11 hours grading papers. Wow. Well, four classes, some of them pretty good sized, there was a lot to deal with, including Final Exams. But I got everything done. I have a tentative schedule for next quarter at the school. Next week is a break, so I can prepare. I have to go through the new text, make sure I'm ready to teach with it, do all the exercises, start laying out some of the stuff I need (quizzes, the Syllabus, etc.). By the end of the week the schedule should be close to final ... perhaps between now and then I'll get another class ... we'll see. I have three, all sessions of the same class -- the Intro class I was hired for. But, things change sometimes, we'll see what happens.

June 6

Wow. Haven't posted much. It's been a super busy quarter at the school, and I've been so busy keeping up ... almost full time. The classes I was scheduled for (last posting) modified: I am teaching two sessions of the Intro class (one evening, one daytime); Word Processing Essentials (Word 2007); and Professional Career Development. The "fun" class (well, they all have their good points, but some are just more interesting) this quarter is doing the Professional Career Development class that I took over partway through the quarter ... teaching it from the beginning has been fascinating. The students who care are doing well, the students who don't are generally failing, and that's weird to me. There's very little in-between. But oh well. I don't need to go off and rant and rave about all that.

On the plus side, we had an all-hands meeting today at the school, because the President was in town to do a presentation, talk to the staff as a whole about how things are going (good!), and to congratulate the people who are making it work (meaning all of us).

On top of it all, since we were all together (not something that happens often), they gave out one-year service pins (I got one -- nice pin!); and I got a "Teacher of the Quarter" award for last quarter. Kewl! Nice certificate. I'll have to get it framed and on the wall. They give out two of these a quarter -- one for daytime teachers, one for evening. I got the evening one, even though last quarter was split with two evening and two daytime classes. That's okay. I don't mind. It's a nice recognition.

On other work fronts, the NY Client is in his really busy season and hasn't had a lot of chances to test the application. Sigh. But we did find and kill a couple of weird (and annoying) problems, and I think we have all the math parts down, so hopefully we're nearing completion. I guess we'll see. Ultimately it will require double-entry testing -- doing invoices on the old system, and again on the new, and comparing results over a period of time (a couple of months), which will likely be time-consuming for everyone involved.

On other fronts ... um ... CJ is the Exchequer for the (Principality of The) Mists in the SCA now. (Takes care of balancing the books and all that.) On the downside it means going to events (like wars) that we don't normally go to, but oh well. She's having a good time with it, even though it has moments of insanity ...

Everyone's health seems to be okay right now. That's good news.

Not much else to say ... it's been busy busy busy, but mostly good.

Summer

June 28

Summer is here. Last weekend (SCA: June Crown) was so freaking hot it nearly killed us (we left the event early, went to our hotel, and put the air-conditioning at arctic levels to cool down, crashed early ...).

California is in the middle of a very dry summer, there have been many (and some large) fires. Not great.

On other fronts ... not a lot to say. Busy busy busy. The latest quarter at the school is nearly over (next week is finals); the 4th of July weekend (coming up) includes the annual Golden Stag Player picnic; and more.

I'm preparing for Finals, and next quarter (two weeks in between) ...

The break between quarters will be weird. Carolyn is going to Texas for the first week after the 4th of July weekend, and I'll be working on a variety of things, including the History website for the West Kingdom; and preparing to take the MCAS (Microsoft Certified Applications Specialist) exam for Word 2007, and getting ready for the next quarter (new textbooks for one class I've been teaching, which means revamping ... everything ...), and ...

I am still hoping to go full-time at the school, but don't wish to push hard. I know there's a lot going on, and maybe soon there will be money. I guess we'll see ...

July 16

Typically, not much has been written here. Most of what I've been doing is, as usual, over in Live Journal (see link at top of page).

April Quarter is over, July Quarter is about to start (on Monday, Jul. 21) ... the two week break has been a combination of catching up on sleep, catching up on some movies, the History site, preparing (as noted above) for the MCAS for Word, and so on.

Most of it's done. I passed the MCAS this morning (required points: 660; my points: 908!), so I am now a "Microsoft Certified Application Specialist" in Word 2007. Now to get the same certs for Excel, Access, PowerPoint and Publisher. It's all in the plan.

CJ's break trip to Texas was fine, nothing special to write about. While life's not been dull, it's not been truly exciting (although that's not always a bad thing!).

The Golden Stag Players picnic was held two weekends ago, and we're still unclear what we're doing for the play this year. Sigh. Frustrating ... one idea that came up (and some people really seem to like) is making my skin crawl. No details will be posted beyond that, but it's frustrating, as it goes against everything we've been doing, and trying to to do over the years. Sigh.

Oh well.

One thing I did while Carolyn was in Texass last week was a big surprise to her. I had an electrician come in, install ceiling fans in the two upstairs bedrooms, and replace the fan in the master bath (which was sounding like it was going to explode at some point). Now the fan in the bathroom is nearly silent, and we can cool down the upstairs a lot better than before (and with the heat this summer we've had already, that's a good thing™. I had been saving up a bit of cash for this, because CJ has a hard time actually letting go of money and spending it for something, even if we really need it. It takes a lot of convincing, and this time I said "bag it", and didn't ask her, I just did it. Heh. It worked ... She's thrilled. During those really hot nights, she can sometimes sleep upstairs with the fan going, which she wasn't able to do before (she'd go downstairs and sleep on the sofa). Niiice.

Otherwise, things are pretty much normal. The last two days of this week will include going to the school for at least part of each day (New Student Orientation tomorrow; and In-Service on Friday ...). I'm still treating my employment as if I were full time, because I still want to be brought in full time when the opportunity arises. By treating it as if it were full time already, I've actually had people think I was full time, until I mention it to them ...

Fall

October 28

Hard to believe it's been that long since I last wrote something here, but life's been busy. Not bad busy, not specifically "good" busy, but busy.

The weather has been weird, but we're looking at possibly some rain (after two years of low-rain levels, while I don't particularly like being in rain, this is a good thing).

The July Quarter at the school came and went. Nothing big. The October quarter is into its third week now. Busy -- I'm teaching three Word classes and one Intro class. I managed last quarter to get the MCAS certification in PowerPoint, and am going to try to get the Excel one this quarter (not sure if I will).

Not a lot else to say. Stinson Beach happened at the beginning of the quarter, but due to scheduling fun, I was only there for two days of the normal five. With new classes starting on Monday, I had to leave Sunday evening (and we started the vacation on Friday, rather than the usual Thursday). Oh well. Bill and Rebecca's kids (Stephanie and Patrick) are as delightful as always, and as full of energy, vim and vigor as ever. Fun to be around, and I'm sorry I had to leave early.

CJ's been frustrated, as she's part of the whole World Savings -> Wachovia -> Wells Fargo thing that's been happening, and at this point doesn't know if she'll have a job at the beginning of the year, and so on. The folk she works with are all weird around the edges because of the latest merger, and that's made it hard as well.

We're into rehearsals for the latest Golden Stag Player performance. It should be fun, although a lot of work. I've had one actor drop out (life - car fu), and am trying to replace them with little luck.

Otherwise, not a lot to say. Just thought I'd pop out here and add something.

Winter

December 15

A month and a half? Sheesh. I've been so freaking busy. (Okay, I update a bit more on LiveJournal ...)

First, there's work at the school. I'm still an Adjunct instructor, but that's mostly okay. I mean, I at least have a job. In today's uncertain market, that's a good thing™. I still have hopes that eventually I'll get to go full-time, but ...

That's keeping me pretty busy. Then I got offered a small task (decent money, though) to edit a manual for the school, format it (use those Microsoft Word skills), and so on. That's nearly done, waiting for some input from some mucky-mucks at the main office, and some minor editing here and there. But close.

My N.Y. Client has been keeping me busy as well. Lots of little things. Most of the issues he's found are small, and we're fine-tuning it. I still have hopes that soon it'll be done-done, but I'm not holding my breath for right-away.

The play (GSP) has taken off, and is doing well. We're (most of us anyway) feeling really good about it.

CJ is still hanging in there at her job, and maintaining. Some days she's really busy, some ... not so much.

Christmas is just around the corner. I should get a bit more shopping done for friends, but I haven't come up with "the right stuff" for some of 'em. My friends are part of my extended family, and I want to do something for at least some of them ... luckily Amazon.com's wishlists are there -- several folk got taken care of from there. I kinda felt like I was cheating a little, but that's what those are for, and I have gladly received some things from my wishlist from friends, so ...

My darling spouse has been taken care of, too -- I got lucky and found something that I doubt she'll expect, but I am sure she'll like ... so that's nice. Whew.

I guess with the recession on, many of us are feeling less holiday spirit than we normally do, but I'm working on drumming some up. I do love this time of year. And it's finally seriously raining in N. California ...

December 31

Wow. The end of the year. Hard to believe. It's been a helluva year.

I'm not one for spending a lot of time reminiscing, etc. (okay, if you've been reading this that may seem like a contradictory statement, but if you read the intro to this whole thing, you would realize that most of the "large" amounts of text in this were for cathartic reasons and an attempt to get my own past straightened out in my mind ...), but man ... lost some folk (something that I realize as time moves on will happen more often), and have met some new people ... there just doesn't seem to be a lot I can say here to try to recap the bumpy ride this year has been.

The economy tanked to all-time lows; we have the first black President of the U.S. voted in (and one who I am proud to say I voted for, and think has the potential to do a lot of good); and a lot more. Bumpy, to say the least. It's going to be years before the U.S. economy really rights itself this time ... sigh.

Among it all, CJ and I are still together and happy (coming up on our 15th anniversary in February), overall we're still hanging in there, despite mergers at her bank and my still only working part time. The plus side of my job is that I love the job. I also got a bonus bit of work at the end of the year editing and formatting a manual that should be printed soon.

The Golden Stag Players (my acting troupe) are gearing up for a performance in a few days, and despite it all the show should be a good one ...

Most of our friends are in good health, and hanging in there, most of them are working despite the economy, which is good. So, despite it all, it's not a horrible ending to a year. Guess it's time to gird our loins and get ready for what 2009 brings ...

To anyone of my friends and family reading this, have a happy new year, and take care of yourselves. As an old Russian proverb says, "Hope for the best, expect the worst." Next year promisses to be another bumpy one ... but hang in there, and with luck and hard work, all will come out for the best.


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A Few Photos

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

12th Night (clicking on these will bring up West Kingdom History site pages ...)

Ken/Hirsch - Prologue for Play


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