A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 2012

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Winter

January 13

H'okay ... this may be lengthy. I have not been putting much up here for awhile, most of my "regular" posts have been on Facebook, but I feel a need to summarize some things, and put it here.

Got information via Facebook before the year-end that an old friend probably has less than a year to live, due to cancer of the pancreas. We haven't been on the best of terms in the recent years, but friendships also fall apart over time if people don't stay in touch ... and we have not been close for some time. I am sad to hear it ...

Before year's end I had to have a biopsy of my prostate, because my PSA (blood tests) were high enough to alert the doctor. After having to contact the doctor myself, since I hadn't heard anything, I found out that I have (currently) a low-risk cancer of the prostate. Many people have survived 20+ years with this, without doing anything. Of course, the doctor I talked to is trying to convince me to immediately act on it. I don't like the idea, because the side effects from the three options given (prostate-ectomy -- removal of the prostate, and two forms of radiation treatment) all have possible (high odds) nasty side-effects that really affect quality of life (erectile dysfunction, incontenance...), that I don't want to risk if I can avoid it. My current goal is "watch", and if the PSAs go up, do a biopsy, and if things get worse, then deal with it. For those who have some medical background, the Gleason Score is 6 (3+3), which is considered to be the least aggresive cancer, PSA at 3.7 on the second test (down from 4.6 the first time).

Fun, eh? This is minor compared to some of my friends. Laura (Chiara in the SCA) is dealing with cancer of the liver, among other things. Her body doesn't seem to like her much, and it's very sad, because she's a very lovely, sweet woman. I hope she manages to beat it ... I don't know how she keeps as upbeat as she does. Her husband is also a wonderful man, and it would be devestating to him to lose her, so we're all rooting for her. Another friend had kidney stones in both kidneys, then a month or so later had acute appendicitis, and then a little while after that a possible abcess where the appendix used to be ... oy! He seems to be okay now, but good grief ...

So, within the SCA, 12th Night happened. The play happened. The event was nearby (Concord Hilton -- probably 10 minutes, maybe 15 if traffic is bad, from our house). We got a hotel room because of convenience.

First court I got called into court with the herald holding a scroll. I was wondering what scroll I was getting for an existing award (only a couple of awards that are granted scrolls that I don't have the scrolls for, so ...). They started reading it, and I started to realize it wasn't any of the standard ceremonies. WTF? Well, it turned out to be an award that isn't given often (it was created 4 or so years ago), the Writ of Endorsement. It's basically an award the royalty can give that says "We like the work you're doing, which is x, y and z, and we want to recognize you officially for it." I got mine for the History website, the herald's website, and the award list ... I apparently turned a good shade of red. The photo of this that is below (only photo I've grabbed) is before I turned red, I guess. A photo of the scroll can be seen at The West Kingdom History Site -- Writ of Endorsement scroll ....

Didn't go to most of the courts, but was there for peerage ceremonies of friends. There were a lot of ceremonies, but oh well.

The play got put on after all the courts. This put is fairly late. We got started somewhere after 7:00 p.m. Whoof. Fortunately, everyone was on. It was an excellent performance. Details can be found (if interested) at The Golden Stag Player website -- click on the "The Plays" button, and the play at the top "34) The Alexandrian Tapestries". Probably more detail than you might want. It was an excellent performance ... I'm proud of the troupe, they really did a great job.

The rest of the event was "the usual" ... not much to say ...

So ... let's see. N. California has not had much rain this winter, which is not good. I am not sure we're at drought conditions, or that we will be this summer, but there's been this massive "high" over the the coast for way too long, and the rain and snow has not moved in. Hope that goes away soon.

Carolyn is still looking for work, but keeping busy. She's trying not to go crazy ... it's been frustrating, but a 54 year old woman with many years experience is going to have a harder time finding work than a much younger woman, because of pay. Sad, but true. Luckily the severance package is good, but ... She's also looking at going back to College and getting her Bachelor's. She could do it based on money in the bank (inheritance, savings, etc.) but she's really having to think about it. She really needs to be working.

I got a couple emails from the new CEO of dataBased Intelligence (former employer, formerly dBASE, Inc.), asking about my book. It seems he would like to bundle a PDF version of the book with every sale of dBASE. He is working on the contract, but the amount of money is more than I've been making in royalties for awhile, and I would retain the right to sell the book through whatever other venues (print, electronic ...). Even better, he'd pay something similar to the initial amount once a year to update the PDF version of the book ... To that end, I have been working on the book. I had to get the person who built a PDF version awhile back using another software package to give me Word document versions. I had WordPerfect documents for the first edition, but they're badly out of date, the second edition was edited directly in PageMaker, which I don't own anymore ... so it's been a weird situation. I have to re-do all the screen shots, which is frustrating, but oh well. Once done it will be worth it.

I'm doing pretty well at the school. I seem to have hit a good space there. I want to keep it, so it's a lot of work, but my pay raise at the end of last year was better than expected, and I hope to keep that trend going <g>.

The last quarter (which ends officially tomorrow or Sunday, but my part is done as of last night) was particularly tough -- an instructor had quit a week+ into the quarter, and so I picked up an extra class on top of my regular full load. On the good side, extra pay, on the negative, it was a difficult group of students. Some good ones of course, but the ones that were hard to work with were REALLY hard to work with. Oy. Luckily it's done.

One week off, in which to get things ready for the quarter, try to relax some, and get other things done. Next week on the slate: Take the cat to the vet (Zootie needs to get his meds re-upped), do some clothes shopping (my sports jackets for work are getting worn out), we have a play on Tuesday (A.C.T.) with friends, meet the doctor about my Prostate Cancer and discuss options in person (with my wife there), new student orientation at the school (Thursday), and I have to get my syllabi for classes done using current "templates", etc. Work on the book in there, and try to get as much done as possible. I am sure I'm missing something. Anyway, that's the current state of "me".

February 13

Not a lot to add to what's been going on, except for the following. We've been crazy-busy at times and otherwise about normal. CJ is still looking for work. She's had some nibbles (er, interviews) but ... sigh. The bit below is an incident that occured at a major SCA event this weekend, I am damaged, but mostly healthy. I have some purple scrapes (not open wounds, but deep purple bruise-lines) down my left hip and thigh from this, and bruising in various places across my body, not suprising. I don't believe anything is broken (sheesh). The description happened Saturday (the 11th), posted on Facebook and several other places on Sunday (the 12th).

Ow.

The Culinary Symposium went well. However... I discovered that taking a walk in the dark when the moon and stars can't be seen is a bad idea. Last night I was heading back to the building we were sleeping in from the main dining hall, in the dark, no flashlight ... D'oh!

Turned left way too soon. As in WAY too soon. I realized the ground did not feel right, so I was walking slowly. At one point I stopped, puzzled by the fact that I could barely see the lights of the house through the tree (tree, why is there a tree there?). Then the ground slid out from under my feet. I turned a bit and slid down the 11 foot or so high bank of the creek, landing in the water.

Luckily I didn't panic. I was a little freaked, and in some pain. Still couldn't see much.

Couldn't see a way out. So I called for help at full heraldic volume. Gianetta heard me, asked what was wrong, I explained. She rushed into the main building and called for help. About 8 people came out. Brion and others managed to human chain and get me out.

I got brought back into the main building, sat in a chair with my knee elevated, with ice, for awhile. Everyone was very kind and helpful.

Brion drove me up to the building we were sleeping in, and I got out of the wet, muddy clothes. A bit of hanging with friends, some painkillers, etc., before I went up to bed.

Today the knee is mostly better (bruised, but I can walk, navigate stairs, etc.), my left hip and leg are scraped up. However, I am in better shape than expected.

I want to thank everyone who helped. While the situation could have been much worse, it still makes me feel good that so many people helped me out, including in the little ways, jokes, etc. I'll be fine. But next time, flashlights are definitely in order ...

Gad. That could have been so much worse.

March 14

My old friend Chuck (Charles Hart) passed away in the night from pancreatic cancer. Apparently it was peaceful ... really don't know what else to say at this time.

Spring

April 18

Hrm. Hard to believe it, but Spring came and went. It felt like Winter (late rain, and some intense rain at that -- last week we had lightning storms that hit the Bay Bridge, and so on ... gad!).

January quarter at the school is over. Gearing up for the April quarter, which has been weird (new software at the school making everything more ... interesting ... and a bit stressy).

Nothing truly major to report. I'm over the pain and such from my accident in February. I'm overall feeling pretty healthy. Went to wine country last week, bought two cases of wine from our two favorite wineries, and was convinced to join the wine club at Peju Province. We'll see how that goes. Got new glasses ordered. Have been taking CJ to various doctor appointments (since I drive and she doesn't, and she's not working so she can go do all that stuff).

Carolyn's still stressy about the job situation (she has about 6 months of severence left, before things get dire ...). Sending out lots of resumes, went to a job fair last month, and there's another one next week I hope she'll go to.

I won an iPad (hasn't arrived yet, found out Monday) from my favorite textbook publisher for some activity on one of their websites. That was pretty cool. Made me feel better about life on Monday. Looking forward to the new toy.

Plan on working on my dBASE textbook. My old company has reorganized under a new name (dBase, LLC), and maybe with a new CEO will be able to get things on track again. I am not looking to work for them, but am thinking if all goes well, an update (rev. 3) will be welcome by the dBASE Community ...

Everything else is trundling along ...

May 4

Wow. Two updates in less than a month, what's the world coming to? Well, I do spend a lot of time on Facebook, Google+ (less), and LiveJournal (less) ... and I'm generally busy.

Briefly, new quarter is in swing (finished week 2). Carolyn has had a long phone interview last Friday, an actual in person interview on Wednesday, and TWO in person interviews scheduled for today, all for one job at the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco. She hasn't posted about it because she doesn't want to get her hopes shattered if she gets them up too high. However, this is not read by the numbers of folk on Facebook, and I doubt most of our friends even bother to look at it. I am posting it just to get it out there. Four interviews is a good sign. She would love to get this, not just because it would resolve the "out of work" issue, but she would love working for the Federal Reserve Bank. 'nuff said.

Had a PSA blood test and the results came in as "no change". So, that's a good thing. Means the prostate cancer is inactive ... or not enough to trigger anything. (Doing this quarterly now ... yipee ...)

The iPad came in last week, and the case I ordered arrived Monday (I had to wait to order it, just in the off-chance it was a "New iPad" -- the choices were an iPad 2 or the "New iPad", but as I expected it was the iPad 2 ...). I am really finding it useful. In some ways it's just a bigger screen version of the iPhone (except that the messaging goes to different places, and there's no phone in the iPad). The bigger screen is nice. This one is Wi-Fi only, meaning I don't have to pay extra to use the data services for 3G (or 4G). However, the one drawback is for it to connect to the internet, I do have to have access to a Wi-Fi network. Not a big deal, really. It's a fun machine, and I really cannot complain -- it was free ... I like it, and am happy with it. Of course, I'll end up getting reliant on it, and eventually have to buy "the new one" somewhere down the road. C'est le vie. I am a geek, after all.

My 55th Birthday was so low-key it practically didn't happen. That was the day the iPad arrived, which was nice. Not much else. CJ and I went out to dinner and a movie (saw The Hunger Games -- not bad -- I have read the book, and am starting the 3rd one now). That was my whole birthday celebration. Besides setting up the iPad, which I had fun with.

I started doing my old exercise routine last week and realized partway in I had to back off, so dropped from 30 each of leg-lifts, sit-ups and pushups to 20. I did 25 this week, and MIGHT be up to moving back to 30 next. I will see how I feel Monday morning ... but it's at least a little exercise. Not huge, but every bit helps.

Well, I suppose I ought to pack for the event this weekend (SCA: Beltane), since when herself gets home we need to load the car and head off to Cloverdale for the weekend. Long drive (around 3 hours depending on traffic).

June 2

Exercise: Back up to 30 each for the different items. I may move to 35 soon. We'll see. I can definitely feel my arms improving (there's some definition there, how weird!).

I have pretty much decided that the iPad is a really nifty tool, and I use it a lot. The bigger screen is fun. It's larger than the phone, but I can synchronize information between them for many apps (the ones I use the most). And the email works better. It's already becoming almost indispensible. Weird how we start to rely on these things. Had a friend who set his iPad on top of the car and drove off, losing it. Gad. I am so anal about this stuff I can't imagine doing anything like that.

Work ... halfway through the latest quarter. It's been a weird one. I have some really irresponsible students in one class, who are showing up about half the time. That's frustrating. Tuesday I will be reading them the riot act (assuming they show up).

Saw the doctor yesterday for what was originally diagnosed as ringworm on my back about 6 months ago. It turns it out may not be that. Which would explain why the medication I have been using has not gotten rid of it. Dermatologist looked it over and thinks it is something else completely (the doctor just put "dermatitis" on the official report, but that's not what the dermatologist says). It is something that apparently is a known issue, that happens to some folk as they age, in the middle of the back (about where the patch on my back is), but they don't quite understand it, and (the fun part) don't know how to get rid of it. Argh. Itching forever. Well, not really, but needing to apply something to it ... sheesh. Getting old is a bitch. However, considering the alternate, I guess I'll deal.

CJ was really hopeful about the job with the Federal Reserve Bank, but it fell through. She was called on Thursday, and told that they debated between her and another candidate right up until that morning. Well, I guess that's something. She was encouraged to apply for other positions as the person who called her thinks she has an excellent skill set, and believes she would be an asset. That's good, but ... sigh. She still has a possibility with a former manager who is working at Cal Berkeley, so they are both pursuing that. It would be a contract job possibly leading to full-time employment. She spent a lot of time Friday applying for more jobs, so she's not giving up on getting back into the work force. Her ego did take a blow on the Fed Reserve thing, though. It's hard not to take it personally.

Oh well. I am procrastinating right now. I am starting (barely) the updates to my book The dBASE Book now that I've reformatted it. It's a daunting task -- 5 years worth of build notes to look over and try to determine what to add to the book, what doesn't need to be added, figuring out where to mention it, how much to add, etc. Gadzooks. And all this is after reformatting it completely ...

The van is in the shop, and I am sort of waiting to hear when it is ready for pickup. CJ and I went down and dropped it off. It's just a maintenance thing (oil change, 55K miles maintenance, change the tires -- that's the expensive part -- but these tires lasted 5 years and are now almost bald), and so on. The Honda has been so reliable it's amazing. Once it's done we'll get picked up by their shuttle service, go pay for it and come home. We're going to dinner in SF at a friend's house.

My wife, Gail (Sister-in-Law) and I are going to a wine-tasting/BBQ thing at Peju Province in July. It sounded like fun, and as a member of the wine club I get a discounted price (for that and wine purchases there). It's a nice winery with beautiful grounds in the St. Helena area ... Just ordered the tickets ...

Well, probably ought to try to get something done. Either that or give up and go downstairs and watch a movie ...

Summer

June 23

This last week has been a bit of living hell ... well, perhaps not that bad, but ... the following was pulled from several entries on LiveJournal and edited a bit to clean it up:

This last week had more excitement than CJ and I need. So let me try to put some details here, this is for my own sake as much as anyone else's ... I want to try to keep perspective and remember details (and make them available for others who weren’t in the loop).

Thursday (June 14), CJ started having some vision problems with her left eye. She wasn't sure what was up, and didn't mention it to me. (S'okay, I don't always mention minor pains or what-have-you to my spouse until they get to a point they have to be dealt with.)

Friday (June 15) she was getting ready to go camping for the weekend (SCA event, she and her BFF BJ/Tatiana were planning on camping, I wasn't ... too hot for me, don't like camping, needed some down-time, etc.). Her vision hadn't improved, and BJ took her to see her regular Opthamalogist to find out what was up. He basically said it was a minor thing and not to worry about it, it would go away. (Now I am a bit miffed with this guy ...)

They went camping. It didn't get better. Saturday she was losing about half her sight in her left eye. She and BJ decided after dinner to pack up a bunch of the camp gear and head home so I could take her to the emergency room at Kaiser. (For the record, BJ went back with her husband, Don, and got the rest of the camp Sunday morning ...)

They got to our place around 11ish. Immediately we took off after unloading some stuff, and went to Kaiser. They saw her right away. Did a CT Scan just to be sure there was nothing else going on in her head (nope). Checked out the eye, told her it appeared to be retinal detachment, which is caused by a tear in the retina. EEEP. They called the "On Call" opthamalogist in the Walnut Creek area, and told him to set up an emergency appointment on Sunday. We went home. Well after midnight, got to bed around 12:30.

Now on top of it all, we were having a record high temperature (if not actually record breaking it was right up there) in the triple digits. Bleah!

Sunday (June 17), 7am she got a call, the doc at Kaiser called, set up an appointment for 1. We went and NO ONE WAS THERE! On Sundays most of the Kaiser buildings are closed. However the doctor had thought it was Saturday. Sigh. Herself started to panic a bit (understandably -- she didn't want to lose her vision!) ... while calling and calling the advice nurse/etc., the doctor showed up. Whew.

He examined her, and yes indeed, it was a tear in the retina and she has retinal detachment in her left eye. And there is blood in there, which is what was blocking her vision. However, fixing it is not in his skill-set. He called the on call retinal expert, and we immediately drove to Union City.

There we met with Dr. Lam. She was very competent, which put herself at ease, and did more examinations, some a bit weird looking, but ... we talked, and there were two basic options:

  1. The simple version, freeze the retina into place, put a bubble of a gas into her eye, and for several days she needs to keep her head at a specific weird angle to keep the pressure of the gas bubble against the tear, so it heals into place. She said this has an 85%+ rate of success.
  2. Operation -- affix the retina into place surgically, then do a larger bubble of gas. However, this means cutting the eye, which typically leads to a cataract, which means cataract surgery a couple months later. However, this has a 95%+ rate of success. The trouble: it was Sunday, and her "A Team" of surgical support wasn't available, and she felt it was too delicate an operation to do with a team she wasn’t as comfortable with.
We went with 1). It took awhile, but the Doctor did it without any assistance (that I’m aware of – I wasn’t in the room). She had a big bandage over her eye, with an up-arrow pointing the general direction/angle her head must be kept at most of the time. That was kind of amusing. CJ slept downstairs on the sofa, had a hand-mirror so when she woke up she could check her head position and maintain as best as possible. I checked on her a couple of times, but there wasn’t anything for me to do.

Monday (June 18) after work I took CJ back to the Union City Kaiser health buildings, to check out the status of her eye. It took a long time for her to be seen. And then when they called her in, she sat in the exam room for a long time without seeing the doctor. Busy day there, I guess.

Her right eye got checked out and there are no problems there. However, the left eye (the one that had been worked on and has the retinal detachment) had a big problem: too much bleeding internally. However, this was not anything CJ did wrong, as a matter of fact, the doctor was pleased with how well she had managed to maintain the weird head position required to keep the gas bubble in place against the retina.

SO ... they did some prep work to do full-scale surgery -- EKG, exam ....

Tuesday (June 19), CJ’s sister (Gail) took her in to have a blood draw, and then to the Hayward Kaiser facilities in the afternoon. She took the day off work, and was there for a long time (this freed me up to cover my classes …).

It was more complicated than expected. There was scarring in the eye, which made things problematical. CJ’s surgery took longer than planned because of it.

The scarring in the eye is apparently from an earlier tear in the retina at the bottom, a place the doctor couldn't see (we have no idea what caused this, either). This scarring was hemorrhaging, causing the bleeding inside the eye. That's been repaired as has the rest. It also caused the more recent tear in the retina.

The doctor repaired everything, but has been cautious, stating that she wasn't sure she would regain 100% of her eyesight. Never mind the fact that this surgery always leads to cataract issues and surgery in a couple months. (Oy.) That's just the normal part of it.

CJ has had to sleep downstairs on her stomach (for the most part), with a weird face pillow.

We have no idea how well her eye will recover at this point, I think the doctor may have been hedging her bets when telling CJ (and Gail) that she may not recover all of her sight. I hope it's more positive than that.

Wednesday (June 20) her BFF (BJ/Tatiana) came by to keep an eye on her while I was teaching.

In the afternoon on Wednesday I took her back to Union City for a post-op follow-up. Overall, pretty good. She managed the "keep the head in the right position as much as possible" thing really well. There is some blood still in the eye, but the doctor thinks it will be absorbed. She was given prescriptions for a couple different eye-drops (one for inflammation, the other is an antibiotic). She has the bandages removed, but has an "eye protector" for sleeping (her eye looks like she got punched – lots of bruising around it), since she has to sleep with her face down. We watched some TV that night, but since she had to alternate head positions (two different ones), I am not sure how much she actually saw. But she listened, almost as good (the shows we’ve been watching are ones she’s seen before).

Thursday (June 21), nothing major. She tried doing laundry by herself, but the strain (she can’t put much strain on her eyes) comes from different angles and such. So when I got home I got to unload/load the washer/dryer as needed. No biggie. She folded clothes – that wasn’t a problem. She’s trying to keep her spirits up.

The uncertainty is the killer. Not knowing if she will recover most of her eyesight is rough. Luckily her left eye is the “lazy” eye, but still … all the artwork and such she does really requires depth-perception, and so on. She’s doing everything she can do follow the doctor’s orders, trying to keep head positions as required, using the eye drops, sleeping the way she’s supposed to, etc. She hasn’t had to try the vicodan she was given (she doesn’t like it anyway), and using Motrin/Tylenol for pain, if at all …

She has another appointment next week, scheduled for early on the doctor's primary "surgery day". The reason? It is possible she may have to do more surgery (I am guessing if there is still bleeding, or something along those lines). I hope not. This has been rough. After she got the call (yesterday, June 22) she told me that during the surgery on this Tuesday she had a panic attack. She had been in a twilight sleep, but woke up during the surgery and was having breathing problems. She didn't want to move her head, because the doctor was working on her eye. She had to grab a nurse's arm and get her attention. Scary ...

And of course, all of this is on top of a bit of depression because of her job situation. She had a couple of positive sounding interviews that fell through (two different jobs), and nothing else. Not even a nibble. The severance package will last through December or January, but not a lot longer. If she doesn't find work, our lives are going to get weirder (we may have to walk away from the mortgage on the house, which will trash our excellent credit ratings, and more ...). Sigh. A lot on my mind? Yeah ...

July 9

Okay ... so ... the spouse's eye has sort of settled. She did have to have the last surgery, but it was to use the laser to make sure the retina was in place. She is slowly recovering. She has also had (last week) several phone interviews, one for Wells Fargo that is moving quickly. She has two more phone interviews with them this week and an in-person interview on Thursday. Talk about a quick turnaround.

More health fun though, a bit over a week ago (Thurs. June 28) I came down with a stomach virus, and missed school, and missed it again the next day. Things got so bad that I called the advice nurse Friday evening, and went to E.R. (Emergency Room). Spent 5-6 hours there. I was dehydrated badly, so had an IV of saline, and they examined me all over (including an ultrasound of my liver, gall bladder, and pancreas, which all seem to be okay). The pain in my stomach was horrid for a few days. I ended up missing Monday, which was the first day of Finals week. Fun. But slowly have been getting better. Started taking probiotics to replenish the "good" bugs in my stomache, as I wasn't getting rid of the diahrea. That's pretty much gone. Made it through finals, and it is now a break between quarters. Whew. Rough times. Tired of health problems. I don't want to spend more time in hospitals! (Have to take CJ down to Union City for a checkup next week ...)

Oh, and my crown fell out again today. So tomorrow I'm seeing the dentist to get THAT put back in. I am thinking it's a problem with the way the crown was made, and maybe a new crown would solve it -- that's twice in one year, and several times in the last few years it has come out. NO MORE HEALTH ISSUES! Sigh.

In the process of ALL of that, I have implemented two big things on the West Kingdom History website -- a photo gallery that allows people to upload photos with minimal intervention from me (I can approve or delete photos, etc.), as opposed to the old method of my creating thumbnails, and all the associcated web pages, and so on. This has already saved me a bunch of work, there are over 300+ photos uploaded in that time, and I am hoping for more (people are still using Facebook and other sites more, but ...). The other is something I've been thinking about for awhile, but finally did it -- I added on the "Who's Who" a section that is sort of a "resume" -- a place to list all jobs and reigns (sort of a job) that someone has had during their time in the SCA. Useful (and it also helps me update the lists I already had). Whew. Busy much?

Now I'm in the "prepare for next quarter" phase, as well as needing to force myself to work on my book some. I want to try to get a bunch done during the break, because once the quarter starts my focus will get diluted. We'll see how well I do.

Saturday we went to Sacramento to celebrate my Step-Father-in-Law's birthday. He's such a nice guy, and we miss seeing him. It was a fairly huge celebration (13 people?), but it was fun, despite the heat. Spent the night at a hotel, and came back yesterday morning fairly early.

Anyway, things are starting to look up for CJ in the job market (as noted above), and overall things could be so much worse, I'm glad to report we haven't gone that direction ... Hard to believe half the year is gone already, though. I have graduation on Thursday, something I always look forward to, it's fun to see students stride across the stage, proud of their accomplishments. It'll be good.

Wednesday, after phone interview: CJ is feeling really good about this one, the hiring manager thinks she has a good chance. She has an "in-person" interview, and could know as early as Friday, or early next week ...

July 20

Whoof. Week's nearly over. My break's nearly over.

And what a week it's been. (And last week was, among other things, graduation for the school ... no photos yet, but who knows? Maybe one or two might show up ...)

Monday my wife was supposed to get a call from a senior manager about the job. Didn't happen. She let the hiring manager know she wouldn't be available for about 3 hours on Tuesday when she went to see the doctor to check out her eye. (This went well, doctor was pleased with the progress ...) No phone call. Wednesday ... no call. She got hold of the hiring manager and he set a specific date/time (Thursday).

In the meantime, I had the "In Service" for the school on Wednesday (nothing special happened, but it's something we are required to do ...).

Thursday I had orientation, and went to Trader Joe's after to "restock" the freezer.

Then CJ got the call. It went well. However, she wasn't told what the verdict was.

Argh! She dropped an email to the hiring manager, who got back to her fairly quickly. She should be receiving an acceptance letter soon (early next week at the latest). She's VERY happy. She will be starting work again soon, which is something she's been wanting to do for quite awhile. It's been hard on her not working ...

Today we took Rebo in to the vet. He's been a bit hyper, and much noisier than usual, and has lost about 6 lbs over the last 6 months to a year. (That's a lot for a cat.) The doc thinks it may be hyperthyroid ... but the blood test will tell. He's been quiet today, but I think mostly that's "freaked out kitty".

This evening we're going to see a friend's daughter in a Cal Shakes (California Shakespeare) student production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Katie is good (she's been part of my acting troupe for the last few years, is a sweetie, and a good actress). It should be fun.

Tomorrow we're going to wine country with my sister-in-law. The date is due to a special event at one of our favorite wineries (Peju Province) -- I am a member of the wine club there, but we're planning on hitting a couple of our favorite wineries (Milat and Peju), and go to several others. I'm planning on dropping more money on wine than I think my wife may expect, but that happened last time (January), too ... <g>

Busy-busy. Sunday is a collapse and try to be prepared for classes starting on Monday. New quarter starts. Gadzooks.

On top of everything, I've been working on understanding the Windows UAC and requirements for deploying applications so I can update my book on dBASE app development. What a nightmare! The developers at dBASE are really helpful, but they always have been. Slowly but surely I'll get there. A bit at a time. Edition 3 of my book may be done sometime this fall. We'll see. And if all goes well, there may be a 4th edition, as the developers have some big plans that I can't talk a lot about ...

July 26

The weekend was fun. We went to Napa / St. Helena and did some wine shopping, hanging out, all with Gail (CJ's sister). We ended up at Peju Province, as there was an event we paid for (dinner, wine, etc.). It was fun, the country music was a bit loud ...

It was also hot. Sunday was mostly recovery.

CJ has been negotiating on this job. She was offered the job at a substantial pay loss. She is trying to bring it up closer to where she was when she was laid off. Other than that, the offer letter is in the works, although hopefully with a modified salary. She is looking forward to going back to work.

Carolyn's eye is getting better as well, a bit at a time.

In the meantime Rebo does have hyper-thyroid. CJ is breaking up pills and feeding it to him in yogurt, which he loves (he climbs her for yogurt). Yipee. But hopefully we will see improvements.

Tuesday we had a couple of friends over (Ben and Jessica) for dinner. It was a fun evening. We ended up helping Jess work on her SCA name and device. We chatted about all kinds of things ... Good stuff.

The quarter has started at the school -- a bit crazy, some of my classes are much larger than I'm used to, but overall, I am feeling fairly positive. Just tired. Good thing tomorrow is Friday. I have "Office Hours", but don't expect a lot of students.

Saturday will be The Golden Stag Players annual picnic, where we hang out, schmooze, enjoy each other's company, and try to determine what play we're going to do this coming year. Sunday will be down-time to relax and unwind, do some cleaning around the house, etc.

Minor update on Friday, July 27 -- Carolyn got a counter-offer back a little less than she put forward. She accepted it. So in the near future she's working again, and she's quite happy about that. I'm planning on making a nice dinner, opening an expensive bottle of wine that we got in January, and having a quiet celebration at home. The offer letter should arrive soon (apparently it may be emailed), and the plans are for her to start work next Friday (Friday? Weird). I guess we'll see. Hopefully the roller-coaster can now slow down ...

August 4

So, CJ starts work this coming Friday (August 10), and is very much looking forward to it. It may be in San Francisco, it may be in Walnut Creek, depending on availability of work space. She's actually basically telecommuting ...

At the school, well ... things are slowing down on the crazed part (end of the add/drop period, for starters), but my classes are all fairly large.

Last Saturday we had the picnic for the GSP to try to get the ball rolling for the play we're doing in the future, and we got to see the final version of the video of the play. Wow. They did an amazing job with it. I have a copy and am working on putting together our "usual" video, with outtakes and all that fun stuff. Having to convert a few videos to a different file format. Luckily I have the software to do the conversion. Just time consuming. Of course, it's going to be even more time consuming to go through 6 rehearsal videos and find items to use for the outtakes. The main video is available at The Golden Stag Player YouTube channel: The Alexandrian Tapestries. Fun show ...

Tuesday we went out to "Smuggler's Cove" in San Francisco with Jeremy and Dawn (they live/work in the city), had a couple drinks, found a small burger place and had dinner after, then came home. It was fun to just be social, although I was pretty fried that day ... I wasn't quite as up for it as I might have been.

This afternoon we're going out to a movie (The Dark Knight -- finally) with Don and BJ, and then doing dinner after. That'll be fun. We haven't been able to really get all four of us together much for awhile.

And I started (while doing other work on the main computer) watching Star Trek: The Next Generation from the beginning. Wow. That first season had some mediocre episodes ... Oh well. It does get better. Having the notebook computer and a decent workspace (I updated the desk area last year with a bigger desk -- photos there) means I can watch movies or other discs and such on the notebook and work on the main computer (or vice versa). I plan on getting the rest of the seasons on disc soon (have the first two). A bit at a time. My current schedule means I don't have as much downtime to work on things, so not as much time to watch the show on disc.

I am also trying to understand how to deploy an application on Windows (current versions) "properly" to be a good citizen with Windows. This is for two purposes, one my freeware library of code for the dBASE developer community, and for my book, which I am slowly working on a third edition of. This is hard, because Microsoft made things more complicated than we would like. But ... oh well.

Fall

October 5

Wow, and time goes whipping by ...

Carolyn has been happy to be back at work (currently in Walnut Creek, but may be moving at some point to either San Leandro (bleh) or San Francisco (which she'd love, but that's more exensive a commute)). It's a bit stressy at times, but nothing like working with the manager she had before the layoff. Too bad the pay isn't as good. I have hopes that if she does well that will change. But ... we're trying to work out a few things so she doesn't stress about money. And if things don't change she can try again with the Federal Reserve Bank -- they liked her, but hired someone else for the job she really wanted ... c'est le vie -- she's been encouraged to keep trying for other positions).

On the job front for me ... July quarter just ended. We have a one-week break (next week) and start the October Quarter.

I just got a flier in the mail from the school with information about a website that I could go pick out my "five year gift" ... odd selection from a Panini grill to a woman's diamond ring, to a docking port for the iPhone, etc. I chose a web camera because I'd been thinking about getting one anyway. I may even use it. <g> I've been at Heald for a bit over five years (June was my anniversary), but that's cool. I wasn't too worried about it. I think I will be getting a service pin with a saphire chip in it as well.

Speaking of other school related things: I just got asked to be on an 8 instructor focus group in Boston, mid-November, to examine the books and online software for the Office 2013 line for the publisher we use at the school for these classes. Cool. All expenses, very quick trip -- fly in Thursday, focus group meeting Friday and fly out that evening. Gonna be jet-lagged, but what the heck?

I am also now a faculty advisor for a new "Business club" for the students in the Business department at the school. We've been trying to find a club that would work with our school, many of the "big ones" focus on 4-year schools (never mind that Heald just got approval to become a 4-year school, we have a way to go on implementing/finishing that ... although it's pretty cool all on its own).

On other fronts, have been working on the book. It's not going to be done for October like planned. Some of it is just time, although I may have a bit more next quarter. The other is some bugs in the software have surfaced and my sample code doesn't work, not because of my code, but because of changes in dBASE that broke some things. D'oh. Well, I of course surfaced them, and the team there is looking them over. I have one guy in England doing an amazingly detailed editing job (grammar errors all over the place -- no big surprise, I use too many commas among other things). I may get it done by the end of the year. And then, once it is done, I anticipate within another year time to start the 4th edition, as we will start seeing beta releases aimed at a new version of the software (can't say much, NDA) ... and some of them will require re-writes, new screen-shots, etc. Fun, fun, fun!

On the health-side of things ... not a lot to say. CJ's eye is nearly done with the nitrogen bubble inserted to help heal things. She can do some of her needlework and calligraphy/illumination again which makes her very happy. She is expecting to have to do cataract surgery in the next year, but she was told that when diagnosed with the issue in the first place. I picked up a bug that laid me out for a weekend, but was back in class during the week (about a month ago). Sniff. I hate those. Otherwise I think anything else is just aging. I had a weirdness in my knee for awhile that seems to have calmed down; an odd pain that hasn't quite completely gone away near my kidney, but I don't have a clue (no peeing blood or anything weird like that) ... and it's not hurting -- I can just sometimes feel a pressure or something. Bleh. On Monday I am going in for the next PSA test -- check to see what my Prostate cancer is doing (hopefully nothing).

Our play is starting to come together for the next year. It's odd not having Tim (Juan -- my former apprentice) working with us, but he has a big project he wants to do this year, so ... This year it is a scripted show by Machiavelli -- yes, the same one who wrote The Prince, and is known for political machinations. It's a comedy and quite funny. The translation is also very good.

October 9

So, I was just going to note, because it's been odd, the upgrades and updates in computer stuff around here lately.

Last week I saw a great deal on a 3 Terabyte external hard drive. I have been wanting to upgrade my external storage because I ran out of room with GSP videos and other things on the 1 Terabyte drive my darling spouse bought me many years ago. So, I said "cool!" and bought it. It just arrived, which is what is spurring this. The amusing thing is that this is less expensive and smaller (by half) ...

Juan has been recording GSP shows for a long time on his own camera. Well, that is in the process of going (pixelating -- one of those things we never had to worry about in a pre-digital world), and he can't afford to replace it right now. So I have been keeping an eye out on ads and doing some looking around to try to find something equivalent to what he had. Found a nice bundle deal at Best Buy, including a case, a tripod, etc., at a good price.

Then when trying to help a friend out over the weekend, the scanner died. ARGH. We use the scanner a lot. I use it for the History site mostly, although it comes in handy for other things, and the spouse uses it for a variety of things (and did a lot when she was exchequer). It was a good ol' work horse of a scanner. Too bad I couldn't find one of the same model or brand (HP), but ... I was lucky to find a flatbed scanner that was ONLY a flatbed scanner ... (these days it's all multi-function printers, with functions I don't want!)

I went out and got new scanner and video camera yesterday. Oof.

AND last week I got a letter from the corporation that owns our school, telling me that they wanted to thank me for my 5 years service to date (it's actually a few months beyond 5, but who's counting?). I went out to the website where they had all the various options for five years of service, decided not to get a woman's diamond ring, and I have a good watch, and I don't golf so the golf bag isn't really interesting. I have plenty of luggage, so most of that didn't grab my attention. I don't have a mantel to put a mantel clock on ... and so on. Found a web cam among the items shown -- I have been thinking about getting one for web conferencing and things of that nature (not that I do much of it, but ...). Maybe use with Skype or ... I really have been thinking about it for a couple years, but never got around to buying one. Well, cool. They will give me one. I'll take that. So that's arriving this week.

In order to deal with all these devices I got a new USB hub with 7 ports, instead of 4 ... I used to think that with the ports built into the computer, that the 4 port hub would be all I'd ever need. Silly me.

It's been an interesting week so far. And it's far from over. Tomorrow part of the day will be copying what is on the 1TB drive to the 3TB drive, and then backing up the hard drive on the desktop completely over what is there. That's gonna take awhile. All the videos, MP3s, etc ... not to mention the West Kingdom History Website ... but, backup is a good idea.

Kinda cool, but I spent more money on hardware than I wanted to recently. I really only meant to buy the external drive, although I was looking for a video camera and would have eventually bought one. (And I don't have to pay for the web cam ...)

Anyway, wanted to throw all that out for a lark. Oh, and the spouse and I are sort of planning to upgrade our phones in a month or so (she's waiting for Apple to fix the Maps, or for Google to release their own iOS map program ... among other things). We're using the 3GS phones we got some time ago, and they're a bit slow these days (I notice it, anyway). I say "sort of" because, well ... getting a commitment to spend money out of her right now is not easy. But ... I think it'll happen.

Winter

December 22

Man, time flies when you are really busy.

Between work (which is mostly odd hours this quarter), and various other projects, I am just swamped.

My book (3rd edition) is close to done, but there are two chapters I cannot complete until the R&D team comes through with fixes to the software. I was hoping to finish it during the "Winter Holiday Break" at the school, but that's not too likely at this point. So in addition I've been updating the History site (scanning issues of The Page -- newsletter -- event copy and fixing what the scanner does to it) and then updating a "resume" part of the site from that information.

So, a bit of rambling is in order, I suppose, like some of the other entries here.

Christmas in a couple more (well, three) days, lots going on ... we're going to see The Hobbit (part 1) with Don and BJ today. We have play rehearsal tomorrow. Monday besides just getting stuff together for Christmas, there are a couple parties we'll be going to. Christmas is in Livermore at Gail's house ...

It's hard to believe the year is almost over. I've made it a year+ with low-level prostate cancer. I hope it remains low-level. Next blood test in the middle of next month to see.

Let's back up a little ... in November I got sent to Boston by Pearson (publisher of most of the textbooks I use) for a Faculty Focus Group session to look at and give feedback on the Office 2013 textbooks and changes coming to the online software we use for our courses (MyITLab). That was fun, but it was tough. I left on a Thursday, got there after travelling for many hours in time for drinks and dinner then crashing. That was a blast, really. The next day was the focus group meetings ... saw some cool things, had a good time, and then had to leave at 3 to go to the airport and come home. Good grief. What a short but interesting trip. Had several conversations with people both at the school and elsewhere (Pearson, and other places) based on that session. Not sure if any of those discussions will go anywhere, but ...

At the school my evening class has made me insane. I am down to 9 students on the roster (from a larger list which dropped due to non-attendance at all), and up until shortly before the break only 1 was passing, the others with many attendance issues hadn't turned in the homework. Some of them took advantage of an "amnesty" I gave them to get assignments turned in by a specific date. Not all did. But about half the class is passing now. Some of them might bring it off with the final project, but it's hard to say.

Anyway ... moving on ... let's see, iPhones: I upgraded to the iPhone 5 when I got a bonus from the school. CJ refused until Google Maps was released for the iOS again. That has happened, so her big XMas present is an iPhone 5. She upgraded the 3GS to the current version of iOS and is happy with the Google Maps program ... so that will be a nice surprise. The 5 is so much faster than the 3GS ...

Um, hmm ... I know there's more. I'm very fried though. One week off from school and I'm feeling weird around the edges. Next week is also off, and the two days after that. Then over half the week we have classes and all that. Week after is final week, and another week break. Oof. It's been a weird quarter, but the end is in sight. I guess we'll see how things go moving forward.

I love my job but when you have a quarter like this one you wonder ... I know it's not my fault that so many students aren't doing well, but it can be frustrating.

Last week CJ had a guy in to look at our furnace, and it turns out it needed serious work. On the other hand, it was less expensive than replacing it. But still ... so we went last weekend and then into this week with no heat. Argh. That's now working, but ... it was during a nice cold spell, temperatures at 31 degrees in the morning ... yeow.

Other health issues: Well, I've gained a little weight, due to the holidays and all the extra food, sugar (argh the sugar!) and such. I have almost no resistance to the sweets. It's stupid, but there you are. I know better, but ... Carolyn's eye is about as healed as it is going to be. Sometime in the next year she'll have to have cataract surgery, I think. I was doing my "workout" in the morning, but broke the pattern this week because it was so cold. I need to get back into that again.

Well, that's about it for now. I've been watching "Farscape" as I work on projects, using my notebook computer. While working on the book I upgraded to Windows 8, and have had a lot of dumb issues with that, but they seem to be okay. The notebook has Windows Media Player on it now, and as far as I can tell all is working. It's been fun re-watching this show. I'm in the last season of it now. I guess I'll find something else (not like I don't have things to watch) after.


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)

January, 2012 (SCA Twelfth Night)

Ken (Hirsch) getting
an award
February, 2012 (Heald College Graduation)

Ken with students


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