A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 2011

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Winter

January 14

Okay, nearly a week since 12th Night ...

12th Night was a blast, but mostly because of the play. I didn't do courts, I didn't do much else. Friday we got there, had a line-through (interrupted because the hotel put us next to a Pilot, and Pilots need their 8 hours sleep, we were loud ... had to move to a new room ... sigh). It was a bad line-through, but the performance the next day was one of the best we've ever done. Figures, somehow.

Tuesday (Jan. 11) was graduation ... some of my students sent me photos. (See below ...)

This week is the week between quarters, so I've been spending a lot of time doing very little activity, mostly because of the cold I picked up somewhere either before or during 12th Night. Bleh. Yesterday was my first day not using cold medications since Monday, and last night I didn't take Nyquil ... so I am on the recovery path.

January 20

The first week of the new quarter is mostly over. I got some more photos from another student at graduation. It's been a little crazy at the school, but that's pretty normal, really. The first week+ of the quarter people are constantly changing schedules, and so on ...

On the plus side, today after class, I checked my email at the school, and found that the publisher of the new books we're starting to use at the school has invited me to an IT Seminar in Orlando, on their dime ... so in the middle of February I'm off to Orlando for a weekend.

And then two weeks later, CJ and I are celebrating our 17th anniversary, and going back to Disneyland in what is becoming a small tradition (the last three years) ... just the two of us this time.

March 1

Gad, things have been so busy I haven't written much at all here.

The trip to Orlando was great, although tiring. Flying cross-country and back over a weekend is tough. But I learned a lot.

The trip to Disneyland was just this last weekend. Travelogue here ... with photos.

I'll try to write a bit soon ...

Spring

April 4

APRIL?? Already? Gad ... where does the time go?

This has been a crazy spring. Rain and cold, much worse than we're used to in the N. Bay Area (CJ keeps telling me it was normal, but those temperatures were not normal). Massive earthquake in Japan, all of that. It's been very odd.

The latest quarter at the school has completed (last Friday, this is Monday). Gearing up for the next quarter, it's hard to really get up to speed, since I have a two week break between quarters (which luckily I get paid for).

The most frustrating thing is that the weekend before this last one I had some very simple plans. Back up the computer on Saturday, and Sunday back up the backup to another external drive that I was going to take off site and leave there in case of something really bad.

Instead, Sunday I got up, turned on the computer and ... it couldn't find the hard drive. EEEP! I tried all the usual stunts, but nothing worked. So ... cursing and swearing, I went to Best Buy and bought a new desktop. Then I spent all day Sunday restoring from the backup, reinstalling software, and all that. THEN trying to get the network to work ... all week. I have things mostly working now. Good grief.

The good side: the new machine is incredibly fast (6 processors, 8 GB RAM ...). It's a bit scary. So yesterday I did another backup of the things I knew I had changed to the external drive, then to the second external drive to find I actually had enough stuff that the new 500 GB external wasn't big enough. Sigh. Figures. I will eventually need to get a 1TB external just for the off-site backup.

Feeling a bit of how crazy things have been? It's been weird.

The keyboard for the new computer is making me nuts (space key is not responsive enough, among other things -- keys are too close together ...), so I will probably have to replace it (I would just swap out the old one, but it has some issues ... getting old and sticky keys, and ...).

All of this latest computer fu is after I upgraded the desktop and the notebook to Windows 7 and I had many frustrations there. Then a couple weeks later the desktop died. Figures. Anwyay ... hopefully that's the end of the computer fu for awhile. (Knock on silicon ...)

This evening I am a speaker at the In-Service session for instructors (something we do between each quarter -- "training", issues, policy changes, all that), which is fun. I am taking some ideas from the conference in Florida I went to a couple months ago and presenting them.

CJ has been having a stressful time at work. I won't go into details, but it's been rough in many ways. Hopefully it will settle soon.

Otherwise things are actually starting to look up. It is actually looking and feeling like spring. There was a joke early last week about our skipping spring and going straight into summer (a Monty Python reference), as the temperatures went from the 40s to the 80s ... gadzooks.

On the SCA Front:
March Crown was the most bizarre ever. We had storms that make everything I can remember from the past look tame -- and if we had been in the mountains it would have beaten "Freeze-In-The-Trees" from years ago ... Rain, wind, wind, rain ... the only thing that made it bearable was the people (there seemed to be an unspoken "be positive" thing in the air, and we ended up huddled around firepits staying warm and joking, watching the tourney, joking some more, and generally managing, despite miserable weather actually having a good time ...). We didn't camp (most people didn't -- either day-tripped or hotelled it). gad. The outcome of the tourney was great, though. A very nice couple who had never sat the Kingdom thrones before ... so Beltane (Coronation) will be nice. It's fun to go to a coronation for someone you actually like.

May 15

This weekend was weird. A few weeks ago while visiting Don and BJ, Don (who is retired) and I were chatting about all his free time and the handy-man work he was doing around the house, and such. I was reminded of some stuff that we had planned on doing here at our place for some tim -- mainly repainting the bathrooms a different color upstairs, and doing a few other things ... and Don (who is slightly bored, not being used to not working full time yet) decided he could help out. OOOH. And he felt he owed Carolyn for some help he's been giving with gardening at their house. So ...

CJ went off to an SCA war (she had to go, she's an officer, and ...) yesterday and Don came over and started the process. Details at: Bathroom Remodel. It's not 100% done, but CJ had a real surprise when she came home last night ... (pleasant, but a surprise).

Other than that, things have been busy as usual. Not a lot of "down time". CJ's taking a week off in a week ... she really needs the break from work.

We're meeting up with John and Sandy and John's daughter Siobhan to see Thor this evening ... and then back to work in the morning. But a good weekend ...

Summer

July 2

Gadzooks ... "Time is fleeting ..." (Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Time Warp). And of course I have been really busy and not updating anything.

Spring was odd, weather-wise. Summer has been odd as well. Late June, we had a huge one-day rain storm. Weird. Now we're having normal summer weather (meaning 90+, possibly into the 100's this weekend). Figures.

The latest quarter at the school is done-done. It's been a long haul. This is really not bad, it's just been a bit harder than usual. The school is trying to go for new accreditation, which requires that we have methods of ensuring our students (or some percentage) are meeting the Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). So we are adding "Benchmark" assignments to all the classes over time. This quarter we were supposed to have them for the Computer Application classes, which I teach a lot of (as well as others, obviously). Most of them were created too quickly with no real testing. Sigh. This is added to new textbooks and new online software, and learning the ins-and-outs of all that. Good timing, folks.

Oh well. The students were okay, some of the benchmarks got tossed out the window, but there we are. Next quarter I am not using them for those classes (they're being re-written), but have a new one for the eCommerce class which I am teaching (both morning and evening sessions; seems I'm the only instructor in the Business department with the perceived requirements to teach this -- not sure why that is ... I looked over the requirements ... sigh). This one is similar to the final project I have been using, and I think I can blend them together into one project (well, actually multiple parts, but ...), rather than try to do two different projects.

C'est le vie. I like my job, so for a quarter I have a truly odd schedule (starting in two weeks, no M/W clases, but T/TH classes -- three in a row from 8am to 2; then a break, then the evening class at 5:40pm ...; then a Friday class ...) ... that's how it goes. I get paid, I really like what I'm doing.

On the plus side, the publisher of the new books wants me to come on as a Technical Editor, which I am going to do. I have to take the "test" which is to edit a chapter of an unreleased book and send back my notes. (It's fairly involved, I have looked over the requirements). I get a week to do it, starting Tuesday.

I have other plans for the break, besides that, and getting ready for next quarter. Cleaning the garage (getting rid of "purged books", etc., and actually rearranging things), moving some things from my office to the garage ...

Oh, and last weekend CJ went and splurged and got us a new bed. Our old mattress/boxspring are ones she bought before we got married 17 years ago (after we moved into the house in El Cerrito). Unfortunately, because of the weird-ass hallway/stairs to get up to the bedroom, we only got a full-sized bed. Would have been nice to go to a Queen, but we got the Temperpedic mattress, and the "boxspring" (no springs ...) is solid wood, and there is no way they could get a Queen-sized one up the stairs (apparently these folk don't do a split boxspring for Queen size), they barely got the full-sized one up ... (chipped some paint off the wall, but nothing horrible). While my sleep patterns (waking up a lot) haven't changed, I'm dropping back off to sleep faster, which may be at least partly the bed. I hope so. It wasn't cheap, but it is nice ...

Not a lot else going on. CJ's job is still making her a bit crazy, but it's money coming in, and she is not going to walk away from 20 years of seniority if she can help it. And most days it's not TOO bad. There are days she comes home ready to kill something, but some of that is riding home on BART ... <grin>.

Not a lot else to say. Carolyn was going to go to Sacramento today with her sister to take her step-father to lunch (his birthday is Tuesday), but Tom's brother West had a mild stroke last night and is in the hospital. We're all hoping it was really a mild one, and he'll be okay. He's a nice guy ... and hate to have something bad happen to him. So instead Gail (the sister-in-law) is coming over for dinner later.

We may be going to the movies with friends tomorrow to see more than one show ... just 'cause we can. That will be fun if we pull it off. We went to dinner at a nice Russian restaurant in downtown WC last night, and were the only ones there from 6 to 8. The deli out front got some business, but it was sad to see that no one was there. If you're in the area, and like Russian food (and who doesn't? They make beets more than palatable!!) please visit Babushka (Babushka Russian Deli and Restaurant) -- it will be worth it, really. We chatted with the owner a bit, and he thinks he may survive two more years, but after that if things don't pick up, he'll have to close. That would be a shame.

In a week+ we have a new graduation. Maybe some more pics from that. I love graduation ... the energy level is so high, and everyone's jazzed. Hard not to feel good about that.

August 1

No photos from graduation. It's weird, sometimes you really have some students who you click with and sometimes you don't ... this time I didn't. I mean, I liked many of them, but ...

Been a weird summer. Temperatures all over the map, cold, then hot, then cold ... not much middle ground.

Not a lot to say, felt I should update something, but I am mostly feeling just bleh, and don't really have a lot to add. Most of my updates have been on Facebook, daily stuff, not real exciting for the most part.

Oh, the bed we got last month: The mattress was too firm (my fault, really). I was getting a pain in the joint of my right shoulder, since I'm a side sleeper. The problem is, the Temperpedic mattresses are rather expensive. They do have a 100 day "replace it" warranty, so we went in and got the softer mattress (next level), but it was a bit expensive. However, in just the two nights of using it, my shoulder feels better ... just wish I was sleeping better in general (I go through phases of tossing and turning).

CJ brought home a bug a couple weeks ago that is still bothering me. Not as bad as at the start, but it's just a little in my chest, a little in my sinus ... but enough that I cough a lot more than I like to ... sigh. Oh well.

The Golden Stag Players are going into auditions this month, and rehearsals next month, for our 20th Anniversary production. Gadzooks. It's really been that long. Hard to believe that 20 years ago we started with some really lame plays (they were fun, but seriously ...), and now we're about to do our 34th play, and 20 years in. Overall our production values have improved tremendously. We're still an amateur troupe, but ...

My schedule at work this quarter is truly odd. I have Mondays and Wednesdays off completely -- no classes. Wednesdays I typically spend a little time grading papers, but still. Instead I have an evening class (something I try to avoid, but apparently I'm the only instructor that can teach e-Commerce at our campus -- which makes little sense to me, but oh well ... so I get two sessions of that class this quarter).

I passed the tech edit test for the publisher (see above), and may be getting some editing work soon. It's an "as we need you" type arrangement, so ... a little extra money can't hurt. I wasn't told how well I did on the exam, but was told "I have reviewed your test and think that you would be a great asset to Prentice Hall as a Tech Editor!". So ...

September 2

I just got word that my Aunt Judy passed away. It wasn't really unexpected, but I know my uncle (Jim) will have a hard time ... his health isn't great from what my mother tells me, and ... Unfortunately I was never real close to her, but she was always a nice person. I feel bad, I really don't have a lot to say about this. It is sad, but ...

September 21

Today was one of those truly weird, mixed days, as far as news and stuff.

Currently my schedule gives me Mondays and Wednesdays off, that will change for next quarter, but that's how things go sometimes. Anyway, that's not the important part of all this, of course.

First, I've been putting in a lot of prep time to get ready for next quarter, and at work, I'm really busy. I'm on a Faculty Focus Group committee, and all kinds of stuff. So having a day off here and there is kind of nice. I've also been working on a YouTube channel for my acting troupe, as a way to share our videos with a larger audience (Hello, World!). So, super busy, as you might imagine.

Around 10 or so this morning, I got an email from my wife stating that she had been given her notice. That was ... disconcerting. Now, granted, she had a good idea this might happen sometime in the next year based on a company-wide meeting awhile back ... but still ... on the plus side, it's not quite as bad as it sounds. She's still officially on payroll for two months, although Friday is her official last day for the moment. But, she can apply for positions within the company ... this was not a case of her doing a bad job, her position had been terminated (they are consolidating various departments). So, she gets paid salary for those two months. IF she gets a job at Wells Fargo, it will be as if she had not been off work, she starts up, all her seniority, everything. If she doesn't get a job, there is possible contract work. If she is not working after, her severence pay kicks in, but it gets paid like normal payroll ... and she's got quite a bit of severence built up. If she starts at another company, then she gets the rest of the severence. So, the odds are good we'll be fine (rather important, as she has been the major bread-winner for sometime ...).

Argh. So, they allowed her to take the rest of the day off, she goes back in tomorrow and Friday, cleans out her desk, and so on.

When she came home, I took her out to lunch, and we talked about it, among other things.

A little while ago, I found out that if I had been at the school for "Student Appreciation Day" I would have received a certificate as "Teacher of the Quarter" for the previous quarter (April, 2011). Kewl! That's the good news. It means I'm at least appreciated at work. (Too bad there isn't a pay raise included, but oh well, it's something I can put on my review, if nothing else ...)

Odd day. We're both looking forward to fighter practice tonight, so we can have a little wine and relax from this roller coaster. Again, CJ's being laid off isn't as bad as it sounds, but it's not very good for her ego. She ran it through her head, she hasn't been "not working" for 31 years! Very odd ... But, she has plenty to keep her busy, so ...

Fall

September 28

CJ's keeping busy (Monday was her first day not working for 31 years). She is also working on the resume among other things.

Noted above, I got the Teacher of the Quarter for the April quarter, the certificate was in my "In Box" yesterday, so in the photos below is a scan of it.

And, the Golden Stag Player You Tube channel now has all of the GSP's video catalog on it. Woof. That was an interesting process.

Not a lot else to say, except, "Gosh, it's hot!" -- it's 93 degrees right now. At the end of September. Where's the "fall weather"?? Sigh.

November 15

Time just whips on by sometimes ...

We are in rehearsals for our play, more on that. The new quarter at the school had a surprise ...

So ... let's see. CJ not working has been weird. She's trying to follow my lead from when I got laid off years ago from dBASE. Keep busy, be productive, don't let it get you down, and work on finding a job. It's still hard on her. But she's doing her best. The fact that money is coming in from her job is good (but weird).

My job went strange. One of the instructors in my group left with a week's notice for a better paying job closer to home. Makes sense for her, but oh my. So one instructor picked up a few classes (putting her into full-time, which she likes), and as a full-time instructor I picked up another class, putting me into "overload", which means extra pay. The downside -- I am exhausted when I come home, as the new class is an evening class. Oh well. It's for this quarter. If I do more overload, maybe it'll be all day-time. No guarantees, however.

The play started out pretty good, but we've had a lot of strange issues. (Motorcycle accident, the person is okay; attack of bees same weekend, the individual is okay ...) The most recent one is harder. One of the nicest people on the planet has been having health issues, and now they've found spots on her liver. She and her husband have decided to bow out. He had a fairly important role. We will make it through, but ... of course we are concerned for her. She's had several bad issues in the last few years, this is yet another.

My health: Let's see ... a weird skin issue on my back turned out to be "ringworm" which is actually a fungal thing. It's in a tough-to-reach-location so my wife gets to apply the ointment. That isn't going away, however (grumble, mutter). At the same time, the doctor had me set up to do a blood test to check various levels. My bad cholesterol is a little high, my good cholesterol is a little low, and my PSA level is high. High enough that they did a second blood test a couple weeks later, after a rather embarassing probe of my prostate (nothing found, which is good). The second test confirmed concerns. I got a ton of urgent phone calls (while I was in class of course, so couldn't answer). Finally talked to the urologist and I have to have a biopsy, in case of prostate cancer. There is a 10% chance of it, and even if I do have cancer there, it is not as bad as other places as long as it doesn't spread. Once the biopsy and results are taken care of, I will deal with whatever I have to. The concern of course is the big "C", but seriously, there's nothing I can do until I hear the results. Until then, I am trying to not think about it much. Particularly since the darn thing sounds very inconvenient and nasty. I thought the earlier probe was uncomfortable ... the description of the biopsy leaves me a bit more pale than usual.

Well, that's about it at the moment. Just wanted to put some of this down, as I keep forgetting to write here ...

OH! My friend Rachael opened her restaurant in Martinez, The Compass Star (Facebook page). The soft opening was last week, the Grand Opening was today ... she's a superb cook, and her assistant chef is excellent as well. I have many hopes that this will take off for her. She's put nine months into just getting the place ready (it's a long story of frustration, but she hung in there and finished ...).

December 10

Well, nearly Christmas already ... time zooming along.

CJ is still looking for work, but had a couple of encouraging interviews for a job ... good thing the severence package is so good.

My biopsy was yesterday. I never want to go through that again. Not pleasant. No more details necessary. I'll find out the results late next week or the week after. I don't anticipate any serious issues, but ... bleh.

Work is being tough, with the extra class. But, oh well. I don't think I've had a class as frustrating as that one. Students wandering in an hour late, one who leaves an hour early ... another who tells me he realizes his failing the class is his fault, and he wants to pass, and then changes nothing about his behavior despite my telling him what he needed to do ... argh. Oh well. On top of it, next quarter we have massive changes in the way some of our work processes are done for tracking students, grades, etc. In the long-run it is supposed to be better, but the first half of the quarter will be weird.

The play is coming along pretty well, despite the concerns we've had recently. I don't want to say a lot, but I'm feeling pretty good overall. We have some "polishing" to do, but we also have a few more rehearsals to do it in ...

I'm up early due to a touch of insomnia ... bleh. So, working on a few things here and there.

Winter

December 24

Way too early. I got up around 6. The cat is yeowing ... Rebo has, in the last year, gotten more vocal than is good for him. He yeows way too much. Sigh. His brother is fine, and he's the one with diabetes. Sheesh.

It's been a cold (fall and) Winter -- hitting temps in the low 30s to high 20s. It is currently, according to my computer, 29 degrees in Walnut Creek. Good grief. Very little rain this year. That's not good.

It's been hard to really get into the true Christmas Spirit this year. CJ is not working, although she's been looking. It's been a very frustrating process for her. My job seems to be going pretty well, which is good, but I have not been the major breadwinner for a long time. Good thing she has that severence package, but still ...

Other than that, things are mostly okay. I haven't felt like writing a lot. Most of this last week has been me being a completely lazy bum and sitting around watching Battlestar Galactica (made it through the third season). We went out and saw friends (Donna and Andrew) on Tuesday, spent most of the day in San Francisco. Thursday evening we went and saw a movie with some friends (D&M) in Dublin (about 20 minutes from here). Tomorrow (Christmas Day) we're of course going to Livermore to spend time with herself's family (and some friends of Gail's). That's about it. Next week I also have off, and I suppose I ought to get cracking on getting syllabi worked up (they will need to be done in the next couple weeks) for next quarter. But other than that, it's been a slow break.


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A Few Photos

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

January 11, 2011 -- Graduation at Heald College

Yesenia and Benicia

Yesenia, Benicia, Ken,
Jacie, Kim

Benicia, Yesenia, Jacie,
Kim, Sandy, Stacey

Kim, Yesenia, Benicia

Stacey, Benicia, Sandy

Stacey, Ken, Sandy

Jacie, Stacey, Sandy

January 18, 2011 -- Heald College in the Moonlight


Tuesday morning ...

Teacher of the Quarter Certificate:


For the April Quarter ...


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