A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 2013

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Winter

January 21

First entry of the year. I'm doing so well at keeping this up to date ... sheesh.

It's been a colder winter than we're used to. Temperatures getting to below freezing (at 6:20am it is 29 degrees right now!). However, we had quite a bit of rain earlier (end of last year) and expect more ... bringing us back to closer to where we should be.

Quick update right now:

End of the year during the Christmas break, Sandra Linehan (apprentice to my former apprentice in the SCA) came over and took some professional head-shots (photos). I was feeling a need to update my photos for various things, including the planned-for update to my book. Some of them are quite good, I've posted my favorites below ...

It's been a little crazy. In the SCA, 12th Night came and went, the play was very well received, including by one of our harshest critics (an SCAer with a PhD in Theatre in this time period) who loved it. That's gratifying. The video for this year's performance is up on our YouTube Channel (The Golden Stag Players, and specifically the play is at: La mandragola -- warning, if you choose to watch it, the play is 1.5 hours, and not really safe for work ... [period humor]).

Right after 12th Night came finals week for the last quarter at school. And I started coming down with the cold-from-hell that was going around (there were two bugs, one was a flu, which I don't seem to have gotten). ARGH. I missed one day of class during finals week because of it. I suffered through the rest of the week, and the week after (the break between quarters) has been annoying. Today (MLK, Jr. Day -- no classes, we start the January quarter tomorrow) I am feeling like most of the head-cold is gone, but now CJ has it. She took two days off work last week because of it, and is having a heckuva time getting past it. She's not happy. We've filled trashcans with dead kleenex several times over ... sheesh.

Other than that, well, next quarter is going to be interesting -- two classes that are not Microsoft Office classes. One is Introduction to Entrepreneurship, which I taught several quarters ago. The fun part with that one is that it is at 8am, and students are not very good with this kind of "academic" class that early in the day. The other is one I have never taught before, Principals of Human Resources ... that will prove to be interesting. I am trying a new technique this quarter with these two classes, which are typically heavily lecture oriented. I am going to "flip the class", and have the students teach it ... well, with some help from me. More on how that goes once I've tried it.

My book is taking awhile to get complete because the developers are being ambitious. I can't speak to some of what they are doing (NDA), but it is slowing down progress on finishing the bugs I need fixed so I can complete the book. Sigh. Oh well. The new developments will be exciting.

CJ, besides the head cold taking her down (she's not happy about it), is doing pretty well. Her boss really appreciates her, she seems to be fitting in well ... that's all a good thing. I am not horribly surprised. A reasonable manager will appreciate an employee like CJ, as she is terribly conscientious, and a very hard worker.

Looking forward, we've already started making plans for our annual Disneyland trip for our anniversary in late February. We've both gotten time off for that Friday and she's ordered the tickets, made the hotel reservations ... I love doing this, it's fun. We had planned on going with her sister this year, but she just did a lot of rennovation on her bathroom which bit into her budget, so ... This year will be our 19th year. Hard to believe sometimes.

Most of our friends are doing okay, but Don and BJ have had a really tough time. Just after retirement, BJ's mother was diagnosed with cancer in the brain (several tumors), and her aunt has other issues, neither of them are long for the world from the sounds of it, but in the meantime their lives have been made very difficult. We don't get to see much of them because of it ... There are always issues, one friend is fighting cancer tooth and nail, but we fear is on the losing end of that fight. She's young, sweet, bright, and sadly we will probably lose her soon ... sigh. More on these fronts if/when there is anything.

Well ... not a lot else to say at this point. Just felt a need to update this. As usual, most of my daily or "regular" updates are on Facebook, a lot of dopey stuff, but if you really want to keep up with me on a regular basis ...

March 10

Okay, and another long stretch of time without posting.

Can you say "really busy?" I knew you could. This weekend I finally had some breakthrough on finishing my book. I sent off two chapters to my editors, and unless there is a lot of work to be done I didn't realize (anything is possible) I may be able to get the books done, and to the publisher soon.

We had our Disneyland trip the weekend before our anniversary, fun as always. If I find some time I may pull some photos from the camera and/or phone and post them, but there aren't a lot. Don and BJ ended up joining us ...

Anyway, wanted to pop my head out of the proverbial sand and and at least say something so anyone who actually reads this (and I have no idea how many people do on a regular basis) know I haven't died.

The quarter at the school has been very overwhelmingly busy (class schedule combined with trying to get the student club off the ground that I'm advisor for, as well as everything else ...). I wrote a 32-page manual on using the new online grading program we're piloting on our campus. Three instructors will be training the rest of the instructors on it at the In-Service in April.

We're down to the last four weeks of the quarter already. It came and went so fast ... Graduation came and went ... no photos. Sometimes you have students you connect with, and sometimes you don't. Oh well.

SCA has been slow although we were supposed to go to the Perfectly Period Feast yesterday, but due to bad traffic (among other things) we turned around and came home. Spent the weekend working on my book (as noted earlier).

Went and saw Oz, the Great and Powerful last night. Fun, although CJ didn't like it as much (she's a Frank L. Baum fan, among other things, not to mention more critical of movies than I am). She's spent the last day figuring out what bothered her about it. (Among all the other things she's doing.)

Health is okay (for us, for others, not so good ...). Other things are mostly going along fine ... Not much else to say. Hope to have something significant about my book soon.

Spring

April 6

The January quarter was a bit tough, but it was good. The Human Resources class I gave was really fun, and though a few folk failed, it was their doing (or lack thereof), not mine. It was enjoyable because it was something that touched on people in ways they didn't expect (HR departments deal with a lot of different aspects of being an employee that people don't think about). The students really got involved in discussions, which was helpful.

Thursday afternoon after getting my grades finalized, I headed off to the airport for a quick Pearson conference on Friday (PHIT 2013).

Busy busy busy. Today is Saturday, Monday is the "In-Service" where I will be training about 1/3 of the instructors on campus how to use the new grading software we're using.

Then over the next few days I plan on finishing the next edition of The dBASE Book. I need to purchase the ISBNs, but I am not using AuthorHouse this time -- for a niche-market book, their setup fees are very high. If I assumed sales in the thousands, then it would be worth it, but at this point in time I can't count on sales over a couple hundred copies ...

Having a two week break from classes will be nice. I can sort of re-energize. A lot going on at the school. Campus president resigned, several layoffs (which was a big surprise, but this was a cost-thing, as our numbers are down, which happens when the economy is better ... so in one aspect it's good, but it was disturbing non-the-less). Just found out that the Director of Academic Affairs who hired me is moving to another campus. That's a bit of an odd feeling. Nearly 6 years later ... (Gad, I've been working at Heald for almost 6 years!)

SCA is trundling along. I made some dramatic changes to the Award List, Tim (my former apprentice) has been asked to join the Order of the Pelican, and more.

Sort of rambling right now, which I guess happens when I feel like I should write something, but am not sure what to say. I'll be better soon. Just a lot on my mind. Once the book is done, I can relax a bit before I start revamping it for the next version of dBASE (already released, because they needed the revenue, but the users are doing QA, basically ... which is not optimal).

I have some textbooks to review for the eCommerce class sitting here. Text review is tough. I fear the two books I have right now to look at may be a little "high-level" -- over the heads of many of our students.

Anyway, things are going well. Nothing momentous, but nothing bad, either ...

April 19

Textbook review done. Course prep for next quarter (starts Monday, 4/22) done.

Sinuses still acting up from cold/bug I got a couple of weeks ago. The rest of the symptoms are gone, but my sinuses are not drying up. Argh. Nose is a bit touchy ... sneezing, headaches from sinuses sometimes, but not always. Going to see a doctor this afternoon, hopefully get prescription for antibiotics and get rid of this stupid thing.

On the plus side, finally got my books published in both Print and e-Book forms. Not 100% thrilled withe-Book form, the Kindle formatting is weird. But oh well. (The dBASE Book) Two volumes, because among other things no Print on Demand shop wants a huge book. Went with CreateSpace, which is owned by Amazon, which means that making them Kindle was free. Of course, some folk in the dBASE community were complaining that there is no PDF format available. Well shoot. Whattaya want? Among other things you can purchase the Kindle version, and convert from Kindle to PDF ... not optimal, but still it will work.

Spent a couple of days on the Award List data, as the Baron of the Far West (Korea, Japan ...) sent me an Excel spreadsheet of the awards as they were tracked there. Took awhile to get 24 pages of data into the system, but now it is there.

Despite the sinus thing, mostly feeling pretty well. Going to get hair cut shortly, get some lunch, all that. Then later off to Kaiser to see a doctor as noted above.

CJ is mostly enjoying her job, although like any job there are issues. That's okay ... she's happy to be working, and it is challenging work.

May 23

A few friends of CJs are getting together on Thursday evenings to sew and hang out. That's great for her, she's over at Diane's now. I actually am looking forward to some down time. Not that I need a lot, but it is nice once in awhile.

A few weeks ago the dryer died. CJ paid for a repairman to come out and fix it. Died again a few weeks later. We now have new washer and dryer. No big deal in one aspect -- they were probably old and in bad shape when we bought the house, and we've been here awhile. Still, the expense put CJ on edge a bit. At least they work fine.

At the Mists Investiture last weekend I got a surprise -- a rarely given award from the Principality of Cynagua -- The Ruxton. As of now there have only been 61 of them given since Cynagua was made a Principality back in the mid-70s. Pretty spiffy. There's a photo below of me receiving it. There is no token, and the photo shows the Prince and Princess of Cynagua speaking to the populace. I don't live in that Principality, which is part of what made this such a surprise. It's not an award I ever expected to recieve.

On other fronts, well, school's been weird. We've had a lot of shakedowns in management, some of them just because that's how it goes. The latest is Dr. Hawkins leaving for another job ... sigh. I liked working with her, but we can still stay in touch via Linked-In. But now we have a new Director of Academic Affairs, and he's interested in jumping in as much as he can (transition, moving from Portland, has to move his family here ...). Hope that works out.

We're also moving toward Senior status as a College, meaning that soon we will be able to offer Bachelor of Arts degrees. That's requiring a lot of changes in curriculum, which has people scrambling. Oy!

Keeping busy, though. Not a lot else to say. Health is good. CJ's health seems to be good. The cats are mostly okay, although they're starting to feel their age more. Zootie started having issues with sleeping for long periods of time and then getting up to walk around and (we guess) either arthritis causing a leg to not work (pain? hard to say since he is Mr. Stoic) or "asleep" -- something humans get, but you don't expect from a cat. That was unnerving and I took him to the vet, but he couldn't find anything wrong. The issue has either stopped, or we're just not seeing it as much ... very hard to say, but he seems fine the rest of the time. More loving than ever. Weird.

Lessee ... book sales are not good. I guess that's the end of that. Sales were never great, but seriously I have only sold something like 9 digital copies and 6 or so physical copies. Not worth the effort. I give up. No more books for me, at least not for now.

Feeling rather wiped out, probably going to crash soon.

June 2

Hot ... it's already 83 degrees, and it is only 2:15pm. Sigh.

Life has been busy like crazy around here, but crazy in a mostly good way. I said mostly intentionally.

On the bad side, something we've been sort of expecting, but not happily, a friend of ours passed away Thursday after struggling with cancer for several years: Laura Weiss-Lampert (SCA: Chiara la Trombottiera). She was a lovely, sweet, intelligent, and funny lady. Always kind to everyone, always fascinated by everything. This is hard to take, but we knew it was coming. The last year has been rough, and the last week we knew it was coming soon. Her husband posted on Facebook and other places the day before she passed it would be in the next couple of days. Sigh.

On the plus side, we're more engaged with friends and family in the SCA lately. Last weekend we went to Gail's for a celebration of Carolyn and her mother's birthday, with a couple of friends of Gail's, Tom (step-father-in-law) and his lady-friend. We went to dinner with friends on Tuesday, went to a movie together on Wednesday (Star Trek Into Darkness), Katie's High School Graduation (Katie is an actor in my troupe and a friend, and her mom is a good friend) ... Friday evening we did dinner with Gail to celebrate her new job (which is here in Walnut Creek now).

Yesterday (Saturday), CJ went to the City with BJ, her BFF to see "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" museum show, and hang out a bit (BJ is losing her mom, slowly, and she's one of the primary caregivers ... she needed the break ...). Tuesday of this coming week CJ is going to see a play in SF (ACT -- we didn't get a subscription this year -- it's pricey and CJ's pay is down from her last full-time job, so until we can afford it again we may see an ocaisional play, but ...). Wednesday Meg and Walkyr are coming over for an "Arts Night", Thursday CJ often (not always but usually) is doing a sewing night with some friends (Toni and Dianne, as well as anyone else who shows up, at Dianne's place). Oh, and I have a movie "night" Thursday with the DECA club on campus (fundraiser for the club).

Carolyn is keeping super busy. She worked on a fighting tabard for one friend recently (in time for a major non-SCA event but with all SCAers involved on Memorial Day weekend), and is sewing a dress for the current Queen of the West (Etain) who is a dear friend. This is on top of all the other stuff she usually does.

Busy, that's us.

Summer

July 7

Hmm. Trying something new ... I've been pondering this for a long time ... I want to put this whole thing (if possible) over on WordPress. The reason? It is difficult for the few people who actually read this thing to comment on it. I would like this to be a little interactive for those who feel they have something to add ...

So I went to the hosting site for my web host, and installed WordPress. I have it set up, but am not sure how well I can move everything over. One difficulty at the moment is that I cannot seem to access my FTP site, to handle WordPress updates. The password I have written down isn't working, but it could be the password or the username, or ... sigh.

So for now, the goal is to just start using it ..., I guess: Ken's Autobiography, Take 2 ...


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A Few Photos

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

Head Shots by Sandra Linehan
(taken December, 2012)

Heald College
(taken January 29, 2013)

Ken/Hirsch -- Mists Investiture
(May 18, 2013)


Receiving the Ruxton

Nice photo ...

Misc Photos -- May 28-31


Alcatraz/Sailing Ship

Wine Glasses ...

The Cats ...


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