A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 2009

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January 24

Well, I finally feel like writing something. Not a lot, most likely. I've been sick, which hasn't been fun.

SCA: Twelfth Night came and went. It was, overall, a pretty good event. The play went off well, with great audience participation ... Details can be seen at The Golden Stag Players website (hint: click on "The Plays", and then the button that says "31) Pericles, Prince of Tyre"). We had some technical glitches with the video camera, but may still get a video out of it -- have to get together with the person who has all that at some point, and see what can be done.

Otherwise, it was a decent day. If it had rained I would probably feel very different about it, as the only SCA shoes I had were thin leather flats (great for indoor events), and this site had a lot of time outdoors (going from parts of the site to others).

Besides the play, I revised the Herald's website (West Kingdom College of Heralds) to make it easier to work with, to find things, etc.

In addition to the SCA stuff ...

Work was weird at the school because we had two weeks off over Christmas, then the students came back for Final Exams week. That's always a bit awkward (some students don't return ...). But mostly it worked out. I spent a lot of time toward the end of the year working on a special project for the school that I got paid extra for (The Heald College Retention Manual) -- that is now in print, and it looks really good. I was quite impressed. The folk I worked with made sure I had a copy of it ... I did a good enough job that the Senior Vice President of the school has four more manuals that he wants me to work on (more money, always nice; having my work appreciated like that even better ...).

My darling spouse got sick with a cold that's been knocking people over that finally hit me last weekend, and took me out one day this week, which was annoying -- that was a full day of classes (three classes) that among other things I don't get paid for. Sigh. I'm still recovering (sinus issues).

AND the real biggie -- I had to replace my computer. The old machine started giving me trouble booting up a few months before the end of the year. I think the drive controller is having issues. The hard drive itself appears to be okay, but ... So, after the holidays I went out and got a new desktop computer. I have a good monitor so didn't need a new one, but otherwise I have had to replace nearly all the hardware (the scanner didn't talk to Vista -- it was an older machine and the company isn't making drivers for it for Vista). I kept the speakers and the printer ... but ... the old machine's IDE interface is having problems. Right now (as I type) I am running Eraser 5.7 on the hard drive (transferred via the network, since it can't see the CDs -- argh!) to do a full erase (government standards) of the unused part of the drive. Then I will see if anyone wants it for parts. Or something. On the techno-geek side of things, what made this work as well as it did was the 1 TB external drive my darling spouse got me a couple years ago. I was able to back up the whole hard drive, and then copy things as needed, and install the software that works (some didn't -- my copy of Dreamweaver, a few others, which I had to replace). I hate doing this kind of thing, because somewhere down the road I am sure I'll find something that I missed, but since EVERYTHING (including Windows and all that) that was on the hard drive of the old machine is on the backup drive, I should be able to recover it if absolutely necessary. The upgrade to Vista hasn't been as horrible as some folk would have you believe, but then I've had Vista on my notebook since I bought it a couple years ago. Except for the CUA (which you can turn off, although I know some folk suggest it's not a great idea ...) it's mostly fine. Some nice additions, etc.

Otherwise ... well, it's a new year. President Obama (nice to be able to write that) is looking in his first week to be up to the task. (Inauguration was Tuesday -- I was in classes but watched the speech online later in the day. The things he's been doing in his first week are looking very promissing.)

OH -- the Crown (in my mouth) that I had put in back before we went to Las Vegas in 2002 came out the other day. Sheesh. I will be seeing the Dentist on Monday (because of my cold I didn't want to go in until then, because it would have been bad to be coughing while he wanted to work on my mouth). Figures. But that's life. I will be fine.

Despite all the woes in the world, and the very high unemployment, Carolyn and I are doing okay. We could be doing better, but we're in decent shape. We're talking about possibly going to Disneyland for our anniversary with Don and BJ -- this year will be our 15th anniversary, and since we got engaged there it seems like a good (and romantic) thing to do. (Later: Don and BJ don't feel that they can afford to go, so we're going by ourselves, flying down ... staying at the Grand hotel at California Adventure ... heck, it's our anniversary, we're treating ourselves!)

CJ's merger woes have been weird. Working for World Savings for so many years, to have them merge with Wachovia, and then within a couple years merge with Wells Fargo ... she's still not sure about how long she'll have a job, but we're just hanging in and going with it for now.

On the family front ... not a lot to say. Robin (my cousin)'s sister Dana contacted me a bit back about some things. She's working through her anger at parents and found my stuff to be interesting and useful, I guess. I hope so. While that's not really the reason I put it out there, if it helps someone, that's a nice side benefit.

Well, suppose I ought to check on the status of the old computer, and then see what else I OUGHT to be doing. I always have tons of things to work on. (My NY client and I are slowly getting closer to finishing the project I've been working on for nearly 3 years ... sigh ... I think we'll both be glad when it's done being developed and they can just start using it ... and of course the various websites I work on, and there's almost always something that needs to be done for school ...)

January 30

Crazy week. At the school the oddest things sometimes happen. Not always bad. Let me sum up ... A year ago the company started a new recognition, "The President's Circle". It has a quarterly set of awards, and then an annual set of awards. I never paid a lot of attention to it, because you have to do something really spectacular with a set of 11 different campuses to get that kind of recognition.

Monday of this week the email went out about the winners of the fourth quarter of 2008. I saw it, but didn't look at the actual list (an attachment to the email), because I had to leave and get a crown re-cemented (see above), and then go to graduation for the school.

At graduation, one of the program directors asked me if I'd ever worked at the Hayward campus. I was a bit surprised, because he gave no explanation for the question until after I answered. There's a a teacher on the list for the President's Circle awards from Hayward with my name. Er? Well, it's completely possible there's a teacher there with the same name -- my name isn't that uncommon after all. I decided not to celebrate anything until I was sure ...

When I got home, I checked my school email and there was a congratulatory email from the person who headed the manual project I completed at the end of the year. Gad. In the morning I responded to the original message (to the President of the corporation) and asked if that was me, or if it were someone else with the same name. He responded with "I wish we had two of you ...", and apologized for the typo on the location, congratulated me, etc.

Color me floored. Seriously. I did not expect that. When I get the award I'll take a photo ... there's a "statue" that goes with it ...

Other than that, it's been a busy week, because apparently I did such a good job with the manual (which is why I got the award) that they want me to do four more, on top of my class load (an extra paycheck for the work ... just like before ...).

Nice to be appreciated! <g>

March 2

Carolyn and I decided to go to Disneyland for our 15th Anniversary, the Travelogue for it is here: Disney Trip, 2009. For the first time since we've been together we went by ourselves. It was fun ... had a blast.

I will try to get more in here soon. Life at the school's been busy ... and I have some photos of the goober twins (our cats) ... from playing with the new camera I got for the trip to Disneyland.


March 25

Well, spring has sprung ...

School is busy. We're down to the last couple weeks of the quarter. I got the "trophy" for the President's Circle Award (see photos below), which is fun. Not a lot to say. I mean, I've been really busy. My N.Y. client has been keeping me really busy (more and more testing, working out all the tweaks/bugs/issues ...); school itself has been a bit crazy (I got drafted to teach other teachers how to use some new software, so I've been sucked into the business of that ...); Carolyn got a new job (with all the merger foo with Wachovia -> Wells-Fargo, she's now working for Wells directly in San Francisco, started this week, loves the people she's working with, is excited about the job ...) ... SCA: Crown happened last weekend ...

April 18

Minor catching up. It's the week before my birthday, the new quarter at the school is about to start, and life's mostly pretty good.

I am starting this next quarter as a full-time instructor, which is pretty cool (pay isn't a lot better, but a bit, and there are benefits ...). My N.Y. Client has been busy so hasn't had time to test much. But with going full time I also am picking up new classes, which will be amusing, and seriously keeping me busy.

Other than that, not a lot to report. CJ's job is kicking in (took a couple weeks for things to really take off, but now she's being kept busy), and she's happy about that. SCA stuff ... not much new going on, mostly same ol' ...

Generally busy, generally pretty okay. Healthwise ... twisted my knee a few weeks ago, and am having some pain from that (figures I'd do something to the already damaged knee), and I got new glasses/lenses ... decided to try the Progressive thing again, rather than bifocals. Not real sure how well that's working. Went in today to ask about it, they readjusted them, but if things don't get better by Tuesday or Wednesday I am to call them and they will order bifocal lenses ...

Getting older's a bitch, but the alternative is worse, so I'm okay with it in general.

May 31

General catchup time again. Busy ... been very very busy (well, for the most part). The job has kept me on my toes, the quarter is half over already. Boy does time fly sometimes. I am finding that in one class I need to work more on "anger issues". I have two students who are S L O W (to put it mildly), and right in the middle of a complex topic in lecture they will stop me to ask some inane question that has nothing to do with the lecture, disrupting the whole class. This is frustrating for me and my class ... sigh. I need to talk to them about it. It's making things difficult -- the further into the class (and therefore the more complex the topics), the less we can afford this. The problem is, they're both nice people, they are both trying hard, but they just can't keep up with the rest of the class. Sigh. And it makes me crazy, and I start to snap, something I have to get under control (I can't really blame them for my issue with anger here ... but ... sigh).

Carolyn and I have just spent some time going through closets and such finding things to go away in a "free pickup" tomorrow. Niiice. Means we don't have to pay someone to haul stuff away.

There isn't really a lot to say. Things have been mostly "the same", nothing spectacular has changed, which these days is probably for the good. The California Lottery still hasn't decided I should win ... <g> (Not that I have ever counted on winning, just every once in awhile I buy a ticket with 5 numbers on it, on the off chance ... which I realize is not too likely ...)

It's hard to believe we have lived in this house for 5 years, and through all the financial crises out there, we aren't on the verge of losing the place. Luckily, because CJ is involved in the financial industry where she is, she knew what to watch out for when we got our loan, we refinanced as soon as possible to a loan with a clause specifying that the bank can't change the rates on us, and she's looking into doing that again (to bring the rate down from what it was two years ago).

Well, since there isn't a lot to say, I should just shut up ... go play a game or something (PopCap games came out with a real time waster: Plants vs. Zombies ... goofy but it sucks you in ...).


July 2

Summer has struck, and I went right on past the weekend it occurred ... typical. I've been really busy. The quarter just ended (finished the grades today), the two students I mention in the May 31 entry both passed the class with decent grades, but boy did they slow down the class. Oh well. Part of the hazard.

I got an Analog->Digital converter awhile back, and have slowly started converting a few things -- one video (not available on DVD) and some cassette tapes from back when I was in College. Those are bringing back memories. The summer of '83 my then roommmate and I discovered a performer -- David Ruthstrum (Ruthstrom?) -- who was a really good performer, came to Alaska once in awhile ... He was amazing. 12 String Guitar, fantastic voice, very funny man, did a good mix of songs from slow to fast, all folksie, but all quite fun. We saw him a lot. I have three tapes done at various performances from August of '83 that I'm converting ... fun. The memories ... pow -- right in the head. Some great evenings hanging out at places like the Chena Pumphouse (before it got all ritzy -- their website shows they've gotten rather upper-class ...), outside of Fairbanks.

Anyway, in other news ... not a lot to say. Life trundles on. Oh, we saw Heart recently with the SIL and a friend at Wente -- that was fun. Outdoor venue, very nice, the food was good, everything was great, Heart was ON ... some great covers and more.

Thought I'd mention the tapes more than anything else. The memories of David Ruthstrum performing and the people we hung out with ... fun.

September 4

Wow, another busy two months gone by.

Looking at the last entry -- update: Audio Tapes worked, but the converter gave trouble with any video longer than 1/2 hour -- the sound went out of sync about 1/2 hour into any video I converted. I think it's because it is a USB one. I ended up having to spend $200 on a more expensive converter (that uses Firewire) for the VHS tapes. However, those are mostly okay. I've reconverted some things, and all seems to be well.

Work continues. This quarter is about 2/3 over. Four more weeks (of an 11 week quarter). It's been interesting. I've got a feeling a lot of the students in my Word classes may fail or if they are medical students pass with a D. Sheesh. There are times I wonder if it is me, and others I am pretty sure it's not. My Access class, which is a fairly difficult class, is going pretty well, though.

Most of what's been happening lately is:

Monday to Friday: work. The schedule is odd. I am at the school at 6:30-6:45 each morning, even on the days (this quarter M/W) where I don't have class until 10. I made the mistake once of coming in later and couldn't find parking! Gad. This is a good thing in one sense -- the school is growing, but that was disconcerting. So, I am there. On M/W I teach classes until 2 and my official "work day" is over (I go home and deal with attendance and other things). On T/TH I teach until noon (two classes), then go home. BUT I then leave from home again around 3-3:30 so I can go back, grade papers, and get ready for my evening class. Luckily I don't live far from the school. Then I'm home at around 8 or a bit after, depending on who I see in the faculty lounge, how much email I have to deal with, etc. Fridays are always "Office Hours" (basically an open lab) where I grade papers, I finish any paperwork, I deal with "At Risk" reports (students who might fail), and such.

Wednesday EVENINGS the spouse and I go to a local SCA fighter practice that a couple of good friends host. That's always fun, good folk to chat with and hang out with, have some good food (she's a great cook) ...

Friday evenings if we aren't doing anything special (going to an SCA camping event, which we've been doing less of due to either her work or mine), I throw together dinner for the two of us (something a bit nicer than during the week, sometimes a LOT, depending on how much I feel like cooking). The rest of the week, well right now with my working T/TH we don't do much. Mondays is mostly "collapse" evenings with the paper, probably watching a movie ...

Not real exciting, really. But ... the weekends vary a lot. Sometimes SCA (oddly most of this summer hasn't been that busy, although there are points when it gets a bit crazed). Sometimes we have family stuff. Last Saturday for example, the spouse's sister came over and I cooked a very nice dinner and we hung out late afternoon and early evening (she left ... 9ish?). Pleasant.

This weekend (Labor Day weekend), a friend is getting married, so we have that tomorrow (Saturday). Sunday, herself is going to an SCA event for some meetings that I've opted out of, some other friends are driving ... I'll be working on the History website during that time (and probably part of the day tomorrow) trying to clear a backlog of photos that I have to get up on the site. Monday, probably just little things, putter around the house, there's always SOMETHING to work on or do ...

My business is down to a single client who is in the middle of his busy season. Once we get past that I hope to put more work into finishing his contract. I'd like to eventually be out of the business. I wasn't cut out for it, but it was a good experiment -- I can at least say I tried.

The spouse is still loving her job, but it's now a job again ... she's working a lot. But, since she likes it, it's hard to complain really.

All in all, life's pretty good, despite the general malaise in the country ... I hope that starts to turn around soon. I guess we'll see.

Unfortunately, while we have season tickets for ACT again, the first show is one I will miss, as I will be working that night. Figures. I am sure we can find someone willing to pick up the ticket ...


October 19

Boy does life go weird quickly. This last month plus has been a bit insane. There's been some truly nasty fu in the SCA (if you don't know what "fu" means, think about it a little ...). I've been closer to it than some because one of the people involved (and the one harmed the most) is a good friend. She's been handling it well, but ... On the plus side another good friend won the Principality Tourney for his wife (something he's tried to do for a few years) this last weekend, so that's good. Very happy for them.

I think the worst thing is what happened just before the annual Stinson Beach trip. My wife's mother has had emphesema for awhile now, 40+ years of smoking will do that ... she's been on oxygen for a few years, and 100% (meaning the tubes in the nose, etc.) for the last year or so. She went to a party a few weeks ago and started having serious issues. She is now dealing with congenital heart failure. She was in and out of the hospital for awhile there.

Her husband, one of the nicest people on the planet, has been trying to deal with it. His sister-in-law made him deal with some issues (getting a hospital bed in, and some in-home hospice care), and my wife and her siblings have tried to visit when possible. It's hard. My wife says that it's likely that her mother won't last through Thanksgiving.

I'm trying to deal with the emotional side of it myself, but part of me is burying some of it, because I need to be there for my wife (and her sister). I know that they will be okay in the long-run. But still, there will be a point where I will need to be just be there. Marge has been a great mother-in-law, one of the nicest, sweetest, and most welcoming people I've ever known.

Stinson was a bit subdued this year, with Marge in and out of the hospital. Lots of phone calls to Sacramento ...

Of course then there's the rest of life. My job is going along fine. CJ is doing well as far as I can tell at work. The cats are healthy. We're healthy (at least for the most part, CJ picked up a bug in Stinson and she's still in the recovery / hacking and coughing phase). Most of our friends are doing well. So there is a lot of good going on. But what a tough few weeks this has been.

October 20

CJ went to Sacramento today on Amtrack (with thanks to a good and dear friend who took her to the station). She got to the home of her mother and her step-father sometime around 8:30ish, or so. She spent a few minutes talking to her mother, then went and got some coffee. When she and her brother came back to the room her mom was in, she had passed away quietly.

There isn't a lot else to say. Marge Leffingwell will be missed by her children, and her family and friends. I can't say much, because ... well, it's hard to say much. I wanted to document it here. More eventually. I do need to get some sleep, because I'm still going to work tomorrow.

Carolyn will be home sometime later this week, but plans need to be made. Marge apparently had requested that her body be handled by the Neptune Society, who cremate bodies and do some sort of work with rebuilding reefs in the ocean -- which is a useful thing, considering all the damage we're doing to the ocean. There will be some sort of a service, but when I last talked to CJ she didn't know when yet, not surprisingly.

November 11

There hasn't been a lot to say since CJ's mother passed away a few weeks ago. CJ is still processing grief, anger at herself (personal feelings of remorse), and more. It will take time. Sigh. The memorial service is the 21st. Oh, and I was wrong about Marge's request for her remains. The body was cremated by the Neptune Society, but her husband has the ashes. Next year at Stinson Beach we're supposed to scatter the ashes. I have no idea how well that will go over. Probably have to do it in the evening or something ...

Other than that, things have been going okay. Work is trundling along, and so on.

Today is Veteran's Day. Not a lot to say. Not having served myself, all I can do is say "Thank you" to those who have served, including family members (my brother in law, my youngest brother and his two oldest "children" ...), and anyone else out there that I know and don't who have served. Today was a day off from work for both CJ and I. She has a friend over now to work on some costuming.


December 26

Day after Christmas. Boy, Winter came hard and fast to the Bay Area. It's been cold (getting down to 32 or colder at night).

Carolyn and I both have this week and next off. In her case, she was told she needed to use up some of her accrued vacation time, as it wouldn't carry over to next year. In mine, well, this is the usual break over the holidays at the school, but the difference this year is that since I'm full-time, I get paid for it ... niiiice.

It's been pleasant over all. CJ has had a bit of a time dealing with the idea of Christmas without her mother. That was to be expected, but still ...

We did Christmas yesterday at her sister Gail's place, with Tom (Marge's husband), Gail, a friend of Gail's (Joan), and Tom's son John/Sanford. It was pleasant, and even when Marge's name came up, it was without a lot of tears. I think the worst of the grief processing may be over, but it will still take some time.

The play we've been doing for 12th Night has been going well. However, we have a possible hiccup. One of the actors has some sort of mass on one of her kidneys, and it's been causing her some problems. It was diagnosed two days ago, and they need to do more testing but had to wait until the dye used in the testing had been processed by ... her kidneys ... sigh. She's got a major role in the play. We may be able to put someone in there, but we're hoping not to.

Speaking of that actor, she and her husband got married back in early September, mentioned earlier on this page. Jeff and Laura -- we got their Christmas card today, and it had in it some photos from the wedding ... The wedding was fun. Jeff is Jewish, I am not sure if Laura is. But they did a fairly standard Jewish wedding, and had yamika's available for those of us who didn't bring any sort of head covering. I spoke at the wedding which turned out to be kind of fun ... the photos show some of that. Not a lot, but that's okay, I didn't expect to see any photos ...

There's a lot of stuff I seem to not be putting in there. I don't have the date in front of me, but last quarter I was asked to speak at the first induction of members to the new Honor Society on the campus (Phi Theta Kappa), and that went over really well. I hear about it even now, a few months later from some of the students who were inducted.

This quarter is winding down, it ends after the break (the last week with finals starts the 4th of January). Then there's another one week break to gear up for the January quarter, which starts Tuesday, January 19 (the 18th is MLK Day, and a holiday).

I guess perhaps a little end of the year stuff to wrap things up ...

This has been a tough year. Several friends have had a lot of bizarre life/foo. Some of it in the SCA (one particularly nasty one, but I am not going to say much here ... at least not now ... maybe once it's done-done and completely over -- there may be some fallout for awhile ...). Laura's kidney issue was a big surprise. We're all hoping that comes out for the best. Another friend has been diagnosed with problems with her spleen. Both of them are younger than I am, by a fair amount. Carolyn's mother's death, while not a surprise, has of course made things a bit weirder and tense at times. Again, it's to be expected, but ...

On the plus side ... CJ loves her job. Like any job it has its moments. She loves working in San Francisco, and all that. She seems to be doing well with the job. I love my job. I am still surprised and gratified nearly every day. I have one student who has been an amazing "case" over the time I've known him -- I don't want to say a lot, but he started at Heald nearly 2 years ago. He's an ex-con who had spent much of his adult life in and out of jail. Somehow we connected early on. He's graduating with honors, a straight "A" student, a senior Mentor, and a founding member of the PTK honors society at the school. He's one of the three students who will be speaking at graduation (the Monday between quarters). He is one of the nicest people, and it's been great to work with him over his time at the school.

Other plusses -- despite everything, CJ and I have our health, we're happy together. We're planning another trip to Disneyland for our anniversary in February, we had such a good time last time.

We have great friends ... and despite anything that may go weird in their lives or ours, they are always there, and we're there for our friends ... and it's all good.

If you want to contact me (corrections, updates, or just chat), you can drop me a note by clicking here:

A Few Photos

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

Circle Award

Circle Award

Spring, 2009 ...

Ken looking at Gail's Cat ...

Jeff and Laura's Wedding

Jeff and Laura's Wedding

Jeff and Laura's Wedding

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