About Ken Mayer

Who am I? That is the question, isn't it? Over the years I have been many things. I assume this will continue. At the moment, I am actively seeking work. I am married to my wife of 23 years, am active in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.) ... and much, much more. The purpose of this WordPress site is to put my "Autobiography" here, allowing for easier commenting and such. We'll see how that goes.

Oh my, I seem to have forgotten about this …

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Well, sort of. I got really busy on a whole bunch of things, including more online classes, and after Twelfth Night (January, 2018), I jumped into my first real online project.

So, I created a fully web-based version of the West Kingdom awards list database. That was a bit of a bear, but it works. Still some fine-tuning to do, but overall it’s in pretty good shape. Huge learning curve going from localhost to full webserver, differences in software, differences in the way file locations are found, and more. But, it works now, and I think overall pretty well.

Otherwise, well, I’ve not been working much. Dammit. OfficePro’s contract with the VA seems to have hit a snag out here (not surprising under the current federal administration), so I assume that’s why I haven’t gotten any classes …

On the plus side, Pearson contacted me for some tech editing work, and dBASE is back in beta, so I’ve been updating my book (The dBASE Book Plus) for changes and updates (three new classes and more).

The kittens are now over a year old (Lune’s birthday was April 3, and Panda’s was a few days before that …). Still as delightful as ever, and as crazy at night sometimes, but oh well. The joys of kittens, who are pretty much full-grown cats now.

Nothing weird on the health front. Although in February CJ got two weeks off, and figured we’d do something together, all that. However, she got sick for the first week, and toward the end of that week I got her cold, and I was out for the second. Freakin’ figures. Otherwise health has been good. Been making it to the gym as much as possible.

Last week I did something totally stupid, I backed the van into the garage door. Luckily we got off lighter than we might have (didn’t have to replace it, garage door repair folk were able to fix it, and unless you know what to look for, you may not see anything wrong …). Dumb. I still am not sure how that happened (I mean, I can guess, but we’ve lived here 15 years and it’s never happened … weird).

I had started to do a full CMS version of my Bio, and after getting the award list into shape, I deleted it. It was taking a lot of space (copies of all those photos …), and I was never going to complete it. I do have code in my CMS that I intend to use elsewhere, but the CMS thing has so many issues, and while doing the award list I discovered a lot of things that would require a major rewrite (and I just don’t wanna!). But that said, there is some good and viable code in there, so I am not just dumping the main CMS yet. Not until I have gleaned everything I need from it … I have projects to work on still, and I can cannibalize this thing, so …

Anyway, rambling a bit, which always feels silly. Right now I am waiting for an updated beta for the dBASE code, a new chapter from Pearson, and am in a holding pattern. Those can get boring quickly. Such is life. Sigh.

On the whiny side … the job market still sucks. I have an application for community college and just general community teaching, hoping I can pick up some classes periodically. Part of me just doesn’t wanna bother filling it out (hand-writing an application? Old school …). Just frustrated as all get-out on that end. And my 61st Birthday is next week. Sigh. Oh well.

Boy, Has It Been A While

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There have been a lot of reasons, including work (well, some, the contract teaching takes a lot out of me), the kittens, ennui …

But, here we are. It’s the day before Turkey Day, my mom turned 84(!) today, I have a kitten sleeping behind me in my computer chair …

My attempts to build my own CMS have stalled out, due to frustration with some code that I haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around. Taking another class on Udemy but am not sure it will go where I want. However, am picking up a few interesting tidbits.

Still going to the gym pretty regularly (blew it off this morning after arriving without my keycard, and won’t be in Friday, but back on Monday). Plateaued there, but that’s okay, still feel it’s doing me a lot of good.

The kittens are getting bigger, Pandemonium (the one sleeping behind me) is so big he’s about taken over the chair. Lune is a lot bigger than he was, but still smaller than Panda, and may always be. That’s okay. They’re both special and sweet kittens. Hard to believe it’s been 7 months since they moved in here, and they’re 8 months (well, almost 9 for Panda) old.

The teaching was a lot of fun, except for the commutes. But that’s life in the Bay Area, I guess. I have a new (and odder) thing with my contractor coming up, apparently in early December, going to a major pharmaceutical company to teach how to use Skype for Windows and use their conferencing phone hardware/software. A couple of days, what the heck? And if it opens more opportunities with the contractor, then even better. I like the folk I’ve worked with there, so that’s a good sign. I have only met the CEO face-to-face, but have talked to a couple others over the phone, as well as email. Things should pick back up for the contract I was initially hired for with the VA in March, if not sooner (prefer sooner).

The job market SUCKS if you’re my age trying to find a new job. Sigh. Oh well.
Anyway, happy Turkey Day if you actually read this stuff.

Massive Changes

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Well, in some ways. It’s been months since I last posted anything, and a lot has happened.

1) The biggest is we now have two kittens. May 16 a friend had been awakened in the middle of the night to hear very loud mewing in her back yard. After three attempts to find him a tiny (4 weeks old) kitten was out in her back yard, covered in fleas and dirt. She took him to her vet the next day and posted pics on Facebook. She couldn’t keep him, so was looking to see if any of her friends could. CJ and I both took a look and went “awwwww” and we were sunk. So on the 17th I drove to Milpitas and picked him up. That weekend we named him Prince Lune (after a character from The Cat Returns by Miyazake) on the way to Campbell to meet a possible foster-brother for him. The foster brother (Panda or Pandemonium) is about a week older, and much larger (more muscular), but very sweet. We met him, and the next weekend adopted him and brought him home. After a few days they started getting along and all is well. It’s been several months now, and they’re kiy-ing all over the house, both are now big enough to jump up on the counters in the kitchen (sigh) and be lots of trouble. But when not in total insane mode, they are the sweetest cats. The folk who fostered Panda brought him up from 2 days old, bottle-feeding him, and socializing him. Lune was not very socialized, and still hides when we have guests, sometimes getting up some nerve to come out if they’re around long enough. I imagine that will change over time.

2) The whole thing with OfficePro, while not a high-paying gig has been nice. I get to teach Office to students at the VA who want to be there. It does mean commuting to either Mountain View or Menlo Park every couple weeks or so for a day or two each class or set of classes, but it’s good for me. The people I am working with like me (both at OfficePro and the VA — have gotten glowing reports from the VA to the office manager at OfficePro, who has passed them along). Be nice if there were more days of teaching, and even better if the commute was not so bad. But c’est le vie. It’s something. I have classes lined up through October, so hopefully they will get a new contract or extend the current one, and I can get even more.

Other than that, life is … life. CJ’s eye is getting better, finally. The doctor is pleased with her recovery (just saw him yesterday). She has an odd “cyst” on the front of the eyeball that looks like a blister, but it’s not. She says it doesn’t hurt, the doctor says if that’s the case to not worry about it. The cure might be worse than just leaving it alone.

CJ’s best friend BJ (Tatiana in the SCA)’s husband has had some disturbing health issues (double-hernia, and an infection in the lower colon, and more). He needs surgery but there was an infection that he needs to recover from before they can do that. So, this weekend, CJ and BJ have trekked off to Oregon to see the full solar eclipse happening on Monday. BJ planned this years ago, paid for the hotel rooms then and all that (these rooms are going for five times or more what she paid …). Don is staying home but has my number for emergencies.

In the meantime, I got my PSA in July and the number dropped from 9.9 in April to 9.0 in July. Weird. I doubt it will drop a lot, but it means no “we have to do something this instant!” this time around. Hopefully I have a small reprieve on that. Otherwise my health is doing pretty well. Still going to the gym — usually 3 days a week, but trekking to the S. Bay for classes every so often will throw that off sometimes.

This seems like a pretty short post, considering the number of months that have ensued, but unless I want to get into politics (no thanks, too much of that on Facebook and the news), I think I’ll leave it with some photos of the kittens …

Health, Work, Misc.

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So … the OfficePro thang: I got in two days this month (last week) teaching Excel. They really liked me at the VA in Mountain View, the only problem is the commute home. It’s horrid. But other than that, this worked well. Billing is weird. I have to bill at the end of the month, and then it takes a month for them to pay. I don’t know why, but that’s how it works. Sigh. Still looking for a regular job.

This week has been about my health. I went in and got a blood draw on Tuesday for my PSA testing. Last test was 9.1, which is heading in a direction I am not thrilled with. Yesterday I went and got my teeth cleaned and examined and they’re fine. Then I got the results of the PSA. 9.9. 10 is the “ah-oooga!” point where flags get raised, alarms go off, etc. Next PSA I have a feeling we’re going to have to start talking about actually doing something. I don’t want my prostate gland (well, the cancer that is attacking it) to kill me, so I suppose something needs to be done. That’s actually had an adverse affect on my sleep.

Anyway, yesterday was weird for herself (and lots of other people)’s commutes, because some idiot got all upset at the Walnut Creek BART station, threatened suicide, all kinds of fun. So CJ ended up getting off BART in Lafayette, I got her, and we had dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant there. That was nice, actually. A glass of wine, a nice meal, then home.

However, she’s working from home today (had a 6:30am phone call she couldn’t possibly have made it to the office in time for). Ugh. Hating that. She’s on the phone most of the day. Sigh.

Have still not gotten back to finishing the web code I was working on or working on the Award List code. I really ought to, but my “wanna” went away. Again. I’ll find it again at some point, but until then … bleah.

Finishing up fine-tuning work on The dBASE Book Plus, 2nd Edition.

Still battling depression, but I never manage to let it get me all the way down. I find something to do, something to occupy my fuzzy brain.

Coming back to the dry-rot thing. The contractors have finished most of the woodwork (and pounding on walls), but once the rain goes away again (it’s been in a come-and-go pattern for a bit), they need to paint. We also have started the process to have our contractor replace the fence and gate — petition in to the HOA, but we have to wait for them to discuss it, and approve it. Can’t see a reason for them not to, and the lady in the house next to ours that we share the fence with is fine with it (she signed the forms with no problem). She also wasn’t thrilled with the contractors and the walls, and she has a real job that she does from home most of the time … ugh.

Anyway, not much else to say, but FUCK CANCER. Sigh. (Won’t even try to get into politics, that whole area sucks so bad it’s scary.)

Whiny me …

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So … things that have been a real PITA lately:

  • The Home Owner’s Association sent some guys out to deal with dry-rot, and it’s been noisy as hell when they’re here … and it seems never-ending.
  • Had a webinar cancelled due to snow in Maryland today (hopefully tomorrow).
  • Herself was planning on doing a dinner for my 60th birthday, invite friends, etc. at a restaurant (we hadn’t picked one yet), but her company moved a deployment date to that date, so we had to cancel …
  • Various other annoyances.

I feel like I can’t win. Anything. Can’t find a fucking job, can’t get any relief from WAY TO FUCKING MUCH NOISE from the contractors doing the dry-rot work, can’t, can’t, can’t …

Shit. I just feel like shit today.

Been A While …

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So, this part of the year has been weird. It’s now nearly the end of March, and the last post was in January. Reasons … lots of reasons.

First, I had moved all the posts from here to the CMS I have been building. I figured I wouldn’t post here anymore. However I haven’t been working on the CMS for some time. I reached a point where every time I bring up the code, I just kind of stare at it, and my notes, and go “meh”. Close the editor, go do something else. I have no idea why that is. I am sure I’ll find that drive again, but right now it’s just … not happening.

Second, I’ve been feeling pretty bleah about life, the universe, and everything for some time. Life just feels like it’s passing me by. I am not truly depressed, again, I have never felt anywhere close to clinical depression that I am aware of, but I just really haven’t felt like doing much of … anything.

Coding doesn’t excite me right now, job hunting is always painful more than anything else, I spend more time in the house than out (of course some of that has been the weather — this last rainy season we got close to 200% our usual rainfall here in N. California in most places … meant a lot of indoor time — cabin fever is a real “thing”).

CJ’s work has been exhausting her, last week three out of five days she worked 12 hour shifts (give or take a bit, but then add in the commute time …). On the plus side, her boss still loves her, she got a raise again this year with a nice bonus.

Overall health seems to be good. I’ve been hitting the gym regularly three days a week, etc. CJ’s health seems to be okay, although she’s reaching the point of wanting to do something about her weight, but not really doing much except mention it. She has to decide when to do things, so …

I dunno. I felt I needed to post something, but for the most part, there hasn’t been a lot to talk about.

I have a contract with a company based in Maryland, doing Microsoft Training on a very sporadic basis for the VA in Mountain View. The biggest difficulty is the commute. Just getting to the interview which was not in rush hour took nearly two hours. Rush hour could be worse. I guess we’ll find out. in a couple weeks when I do two days back-to-back of Excel training. On the plus side I was able to negotiate to a higher pay than most of the instructors that the company hires. I was able to do so by pushing cost-of-living here in CA, and the fact that commute for this will be a bitch, etc. We’ll see how that goes. After the training next month the next sessions are in July. When I say “sporadic”, I mean it.

My sense of self-worth goes up and down a lot lately. I think most of this is my inability to get much coding done (see above), but then as an example an issue came up this weekend which I was able to fix (with a little help) with the web forms on the SCA websites that I use. (Turns out the ISP changed something and didn’t tell anyone … which caused a problem with a single line of code …)  Lows and highs. (I put that in that sequence, because there seem to be more lows than highs …) Sigh.

Ugh. Anyway, I really felt a need to say something, so here it is. I am mostly in the dumps/depressed lately, not getting much of anything done. The amount of money in the bank goes down faster than it goes up anymore. I am going to have to find a real job soon, even if it means working at some job that has nothing to do with anything I’m trained for or really have any interest in. Sigh. Seriously more depressing …

Of course, eventually this post will need to be put into the CMS and I will need to spend time actually fixing the things I need to fix. But getting the “want” and the “need” up is hard. But I do want to use some of that for other projects. It’s just been hard to get past that “don’t wanna” …

Well, I realized while I was whining here that there was something I needed to update, so I should go do that. So, hitting the Publish button and away I go.

Er, happy new year?

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So, it is now 2017. Wasn’t sure we’d make it, with the way the world has been going. I’m not going to post a huge list of resolutions, or irresolutions as one of my friends posted somewhere the other day. I never keep them anyway. They sound all lofty and ideal, but then something happens.

We’re trying to just move along and deal with life as it gets thrown at us. I have spent a huge amount of time on the CMS I’ve been working on. Just as I think I’m in good shape it turns out I need to do something else. D’oh. Got a bunch of coding done this morning, so there you are.

So let’s do a bit of catchup. Thanksgiving got dealt with. In between Turkey Day and Christmas, not a lot happened. I mean, life trundled along, the president-elect made a fool of himself many times, messing in international areas that he has no clue about, tweeting like an idiot (as always), and so on. People died. Lots of people died. 2016 felt horrible for those who were plugged in, because of the number of celebrities who passed. However, it’s not “the year” that is at fault. It’s that these celebrities are of an age where this kind of thing starts happening. Rock Stars, Movie Stars, etc. It was a tough year for a lot of folk. However, I never really saw the sense of blaming 2016 (“No, 2016! You can’t get this one!”) I suppose for some folk it’s easier to blame the  year, than something else.

CJ’s job is still going fine. Her boss still loves her. She’s still being driven crazy. There are some potential changes coming, but let’s wait and see. Would feel weird to post that “x is happening” and then have it fall through. She got a couple weeks off during the holidays, the week before Christmas and this week (after New Year’s, but before 12th Night weekend). So, she’s working on a new outfit for me for 12th Night, which is cool. Will be the first one (if she can complete it) in many years. Her birthday is of course, this weekend (on Sunday, when we’ll be coming back from 12th Night).

Did I mention 12th Night is in Reno? RENO. Sigh. If it had been last year, little snow, great. This year the weather has changed and we’re likely to have snow in the pass. That means getting chains (on my list for tomorrow) for the tires. I have never driven with chains on a vehicle in snow. In Alaska we had snow tires and some folk had studded tires (hard on the road, but boy they are useful). That’ll be weird if I need to use them.

I started moving my autobiography/blog over to a test copy of my CMS, and found bugs (think I fixed most of them, but …), and found things that would make it “that much better” (main pages and subpages … but only one level of subpages, didn’t want to get into the recursion nightmare of having a subpage with subpages of its own …). So, have been working like a dog on that.

Let’s see. Christmas was at Gail’s (my seester-in-law) place in Sacramento (the old Eaton homestead that she bought from her step-father). Overall nice. Got to spend some time with one of the more skittish cats and convinced him that those people in his house were not so bad. At least as long as he remembers. Guess we’ll see if he remembers next time we’re up. It was kind of fun. Turning into the “cat whisperer”. Nothing special for Christmas. Well, Gail got me a nice sauce pan, CJ got me a couple shirts. But, I’m not worried, she’s also paying for the new coronet that a friend is making (the early photos are looking good, but he forgets to take photos sometimes, and he gets busy, has a day job, etc. — may not be ready for 12th Night).

Still getting to the gym, even went today, the day after New Year’s Day. Feeling like overall it’s still doing me some good.

Well, not a lot to say, since I’m not doing a full 2016 type recap or a set of resolutions, so I should try to get some more coding / testing done on the CMS, and all that fun stuff. Eventually the stuff that’s here in WordPress will end up in the CMS version of the autobiography, and I will get rid of all this. But until then …

Catching Up (again)

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Feeling a bit out of it lately. I have managed to complete most of the coding for the main CMS I have been building. Working on documenting some “tips” for some of the things I did, which is amusing and interesting. But …

Out of it because … well, among other things last night CJ got off work so late that she wasn’t home until 8:30pm, and THEN I got to make dinner. Having dinner at close to 9:00 in the evening, when you typically go to bed at 9:30 or so, is just … wrong. Sigh.

The problem is that while my wife is happy to be employed, has a great boss, some of the people she works with are totally incompetent — to the tune of close to 100 million dollars in transfers being screwed up, which she and her team had to fix, and then she had to document (which apparently has to be done the same day, which is why she was so late). This kind of thing happens way too often, and honestly I am wondering how come no heads are rolling on the floor. But, not my business, except that it screws up my life.

Thanksgiving was okay. It was at the sister-in-law’s “new” house in Sacramento (“new” in that she’s now the owner, but it’s the house her mother lived in for close to 30 years, and it was sold to her by the step-father). We went up Wednesday evening and were there through Friday evening, because CJ’s brother was in town (he’s now a full pilot at Alaska Airlines, and gets layovers in the Bay Area again, which he’s happy about). It was nice to see Bill, but two nights in an unfamiliar bed, etc, was off-putting. Oh well. And frankly, turkey dinner doesn’t make me all excited like it does some folk.

The rest of the weekend was okay, but not all that exciting. We did get out Sunday and see Fantastic Creatures and Where to Find Them (part of the Harry Potter universe) — that was fun. But otherwise …

Went and had my follow-up CT Scan Monday, but have not heard back from a doctor about results. I assume since I haven’t gotten a panicky “CALL US NOW” that things aren’t bad, and hopefully all is well.

I am finally starting to consider getting back into the job market more, partially because my savings are slowly dropping. I still have money, but … sigh. And frankly I need to be making more money and contributing more around here. I pay a couple of regular bills (cell phones and internet web hosting with Earthlink, as well as a lot of food bills, gas, etc.). However, I am not paying part of the mortgage costs, etc. I need to be doing more of that, I feel bad (it sits in the back of my fuzzy brain and bothers me) that I’m not doing more there.

Herself is refinancing the house again, better interest rate, drop the monthly mortgage payments. We’re looking at ways to bring the cable bill down (I think we need to just go in and renegotiate with them), and I am considering trying to work with the cell phone folk and see what I can do to bring that down.

We’re both tired all the time, but I have less reason to be so than herself, she’s the one working herself so hard. It’s been weird. Very weird. I almost feel on the verge of depression again, despite seeing so much progress with the CMS project.

Speaking of that: next up, delete the existing data, document the whole process of setting it up and using it, including deployment. For that to work I am going to take my bio and convert it over (including the WordPress stuff) … that will take some time, but it will be a viable test, and it will ultimately mean having the whole thing in one place. The documentation will include screen captures, etc. So … lots of work there, but I hope to make it easier to understand and use. We’ll see.

I guess the other part of my near-depression is the whole “country going to hell in a handbasket” feeling after the elections. Looking at the people the president-elect is putting into office is frightening. Looking at the way people out there (white males, mostly) reacting to this guy being the president elect and feeling like they can now act out in ways that are so wrong … (threatening Muslims or people they think are Muslim, same for Mexicans, blacks, etc … WTF???). The next two years are going to be fugly. I can only hope that a few Republicans, as well as the Democrats in Congress can pull together and fight back against anything they can legally do … and the election in two years most of the house and the senate seats are up for election, it’s time to make some changes there. Sigh.

Well, anyway, that’s about it for politics on this site. I don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about it …

Day before Turkey Day and …

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Herself is working from home today. I’m of course home. Still have to go to the store and get the turkey. Sigh. I hate going to the grocery store the day before a holiday, but …

Apparently we’re driving to Sacramento this evening. That outta be really amusing, as traffic the day before Turkey Day is always really bad. I don’t know why this is necessary, I would have preferred driving up tomorrow morning, when traffic will actually be lighter. Sigh. Oh well.

The weather’s been a bit colder, which in some ways is kind of nice, although it’s harder to get out of bed in the middle of the night and do those “necessary things” we sometimes have to do.

Got some more work done on the CMS, although I kind of got side-railed between the pancreatitis and being hospitalized (and being really tired for a bit after), and the folk at dBASE releasing beta versions of the software, and having to go back to my book and work on things. I hit enough bugs I had to stop there, though. So this morning I cranked on some code and got something I’ve wanted to add to the CMS done. The last “feature”, I hope. I intend to do more cleaning up, take care of a few things, document the use of it (which means a clean-slate), and then start using it to re-do my blog/autobiography using this CMS. We’ll see how that goes. It will take some time to get everything moved over, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

If I can get that working on the web host I use, then I will feel more sanguine about copying it and using it for the Award List … we’ll see.

Doing a backup of the hard drive, figure today would be a good day to get that done …

Lots of randomness here, notice? Very train of thought this morning. Sometimes it’s just the way my brain works.

 

Good thing we have insurance …

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Herself got the bill from Kaiser form my hospital stay (that whole pancreatitis thing) — pre-insurance payments. It’s alarming. Three+ days in the hospital: over $30,000. The insurance will cover a good portion of it, but good grief. It’s a huge ripoff, I tell ya’.

So she had to work late last night (got a phone call from someone around 2am after she had crawled into bed) for a deployment at work. She has more deployment fun today. Sigh.

Tomorrow however will be fun, we’re doing Donna’s “cheese crawl” again. The only worry is that it’s supposed to rain today and tomorrow, but oh well. We need the rain, can’t complain too loudly about that.

Haven’t been as productive as I’d like this week. I have one more item for the CMS and some cleanup to do (some of that’s done); then documentation. Got siderailed with a new beta for dBASE, added a couple chapters to my book, moved some things around. Ran into numerous bugs with new features, one of which halted me yesterday. Sigh. Oh well.

This coming week is Thanksgiving, which will be at Gail’s new place, her mom and step-father’s place in Sacramento. Tom sold it to her, and she scarfed it up.

Of course, I have to do low-fat for a while longer, and “no booze” for a bit. That’s part of the recovery from the pancreatitis. I’ve been eating okay, the GI tract is fine, no pain … but still … not pushing too hard on that front. Minor changes in the diet here and there. Her eye is recovering, she has an appointment in a couple weeks to have it looked at, and the Monday after T-Day I have my cat-scan to make sure the pancreas is okay. Then I can go back to the gym, and life get back to semi-normal, I think. Be nice to have some wine on the weekends. Sigh.

Well, I’m not sleeping, although I had hoped to, but that’s life. Suppose I oughta shower, go make coffee, all that fun stuff.