Remembering my Stepfather

…whom I choose to call Dad.   I’m lucky – I got to have two fathers.  My second one showed me how to be honest, gentle, gently pursuasive, non-confrontational, silent before speaking.

I’m writing this post via Livejournal because I don’t think it belongs on my geeky blog.   Its too personal.

Anyway.   Dad died on Tuesday.   I was driving up to be with the family.   I could have left home sooner.. I could have left Monday night.. I could have left Monday morning … but at the time, he seemed very stable, there was no rush.  But, as I drove, I got the call that his numbers had tanked, and then I got the call that they were waiting for two more people to arrive.. and then I got the call that he was gone.

I cried during the drive.  I was also very numb during the drive.  It was like.. i could see my body doing the driving, but I couldn’t feel it.  Nothing was real.   I told the lady about it at McDonalds as I picked up lunch.  She smiled and took the next person’s order.

Some detail on him.   He got cancer several years back .. 2005?  Chemo worked, but left his heart running at 10%.  The numbers are all wrong, but focus on the intent.   He got accepted into an experimental? program, got an LVAD – a heart pump.  That kept him going for a strong 5 years – which he put to good use.

He got to spend time with his grandchildren, who all got to know him. 

He taught some of his grandchildren how to play Bridge.

He became a Daddy to his son’s wife – she who left her whole family behind in India, who needed family here.

He wrote incessantly – a Family history, about LVAD’s, about Bridge. 

He became the primary article writer for a political organization (North American Punjab Association?)

Then, all of a sudden – things didn’t work.  Turned out, a clog had formed (lots of clogs forming these days in LVAD’s) – which lead to things getting weaker.  They tried to supplement, get things strong enough to inject some clog removing stuff – but things didn’t get stronger, and they realized they couldn’t keep him.    So, they let him go .. turned off the machinery that gave him some extra years.   He passed almost immediately.

I’m here at my mother’s right now.   She’s doing .. better.  Lots of phone calls, lots of people to talk to.

I got to go through all of Dad’s writing – on the computer – organize it, preserve it, make copies for all the kids (5 total).   It took me a full day, one document at a time.   100+ megs of word documents, mostly text.  

Amongst that, I found example after example of him writing on behalf of other people.. using his political ties to helpful ends.  One political asylum here; one land grant case there; vouching for people.   Good man.

He had also asked me to help him, once.  He had written a family history – he wanted to make it look better.  He had pictures that needed to be inserted, and .. it needed some maps and satellite photographs and various things to finish it.   I never did get around to helping him with that, while he was alive.

That’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow.   I don’t know that I know enough about the content to figure out which chapters which photographs go with .. but I do know something about page layout and prettiness.   I’ll be trying out for the initial layout, see how that works.. if the family approves it, I’ll continue it; and ask for help in figuring out what additional content (pictures, which he had already scanned) to add to which chapters (several of which have phrases like “insert picture of statue here”).       Its not a one day task, but I hope to do enough tomorrow to determine if I should continue with it or not.

There’s a service at the local temple here on Sunday, but mainly, there’s going to be a memorial service in March for him in Columbus.   (He donated his body to science, so no visitation or funeral).  

Good man.  I’m going to miss him.   And his stories.

God, I hope I can capture some of his stories.   “Sunny Beta.. did I ever tell you about when I met Gandhi?”   Perfectly paced storytelling.

I think I have audio of him teaching me how to make Chai.   I’ll post that at some point. 


9:32am at a La Quinta Inn in Germantown, just outside of Memphis TN.

I’m sitting on the floor next to the window, whose blinds are mostly pulled down.. the teenager has half an hour more he can sleep.. but I can see the sun peeking through the bottom of the blinds, and I feel warm.

The inspiration of this post was the feeling of ZOMG! There’s NOTHING I need to do!   … for the first time in, well, what the heck have I been doing?

  • Friday Night: Driving to Memphis.   Last night, from 7:30pm to 1:30am.  For a soccer tournament.  U19.
  • Before that:  7 nights or so: Working every night on the 2012 SOHS Soccer Banquet Video.   I rendered the .final version (.final = will be presented, unless something better happens) on Thursday night.   There are things I had to cut.. the hurricane flag waving, the interviews with the parents.. there’s a few edits I might go in and make when I get back home, but its DONE enough.
  • Before that:  Working on wedding video – to get my workflow figured out.. color correction, sizing, multi-cam setup, audio scrubbing, etc.    Not finished; awaiting my attention in the near future; but the hard part is over.
  • Before that:  “Vacation” (not) to Iowa – to go shoot the wedding, and to hang out with as many people as I could grab and love on.
  • Before that:  Stressing about work, transitioning into a team.   Glad to say, we are teaming with teaminess now.   We decided to do admin stuff in Round Robin form .. so now Person #2 is going to show Person #3 some of the admin stuff that I used to take care of, and my job is to stay out of it now, till it comes back to me.
  • Before that: I don’t even remember.     There’s some Water Heater stuff in there, I think.

So I have 20 more minutes of relative down time now.. and then some soccer to watch.. and then sit back and do nothing (?!) .. and then more soccer.. and then nothing (or maybe the parents will decide to conglomerate for dinner and I’ll have a margarita, but Donna Hulsman is not in this group, so I don’t think there will be any peer pressure)… and some more nothing tomorrow, and some soccer, and a drive.

Perfect.   Electronics off / time to sit in the sun / peeking under the blinds / playing on the floor / it knows more.

Aftermath of Elections

Watching the coverage after the wining declaration, before the speeches.   Those on Facebook would have seen my flip-flopping – actually, I had started out on the Democrat side, but because I married into a Republican family, and I really like some of the ideas of limited government, I forced myself to investigate, soak up, digest, get sick, and puke, on information. 

Here’s the perspective I ended up with.

  The Worst He Could Be The Best He Could Be What I felt He Was
Romney (blogs) Ruthless; detached; people are pawns unless you’re in his inner circle; a faithful follower of whichever group he was representing, no beliefs of his own “The Real Romney” -- Loving, compassionate, honestly cares about people, very smart, can get the economy going. A representative of powers that would love to rip the country apart even more, because they will get rich as a result. 
Obama “Amateur” => delusions of Grandeur; overwhelmed; enjoying being rich for once; controlled by his wife; will do anything to look good “Showdown” – very smart, holding his cards close, influencing the right people, make the right deal to get the most that can be gotten in a hostile climate Trying to do the right thing;  fairness and equality for all; least budget spent since FDR?  Representing my opinion that tax cuts for the rich does not improve the economy.  #zombie idea


So, I voted, and my state went to Romney anyway; but that’s okay.    If Romney had won, I would have hoped he was closer to column #2, than to column #1.

Probably the biggest turn-off I had about Romney was in reading what I *thought* was a pro-Romney book.  (Maybe it wasn’t?)  When it got to the kind of work he did at Bain Capital – it became pretty obvious to me – he doesn’t know how to build businesses.   He knows how to exploit the weak ones via control and extract profit from them.  Maybe the democrats did a spin job on me… maybe not. 

If I were to go conspiracy theory,  I would propose that the same folks Bush are the same folks behind Romney .. and that the war in Iraq was planned, not a result of 9/11.   I might even go down the #truther road, but therein lies some madness.. but yeah, I think there are folks out there who are ruthless enough that they would do something like that.   And I do not want them in positions of power.  (Note: if these folks do exist, and Obama is their enemy, then either some scandal will occur like it did for Clinton, or something more like JFK will happen.)  #IHopeImWrong

But, conspiracy theories are bad for me.  My mind gets stuck in them.. a cycle of neurological triggers, there was an xkcd comic on it

How the heck do I reconcile “Appropriate Government” with Obama?   What do I think is the right role of government? 

  Fed Govt Yes I don’t know Fed Govt No
Infrastructure – roads, train lines, phone networks, etc When there is not an economic incentive for a single company to build, then yes.  Example: interstates    
Education   There probably is a better role.  Don’t lay down testing standards – and $ based on testing. #NoChildLeftBehindFail
Healthcare Very basic health care available with bad service.  #cheap #lines #waiting Compare other countries to us – why we so costly? Still want private healthcare available
Food stamps Probably has to be federal because places hit hard don’t have the funds? I haven’t been on them. Less than current budget, I would hope?
Military Hell Yes.  #smarter    
Hell Yes, Promote (via states?)    
Gun Control There is some level at which building a personal army should be discouraged    
Illegal substances Legalize, or give to states to legalize   Waste of $ to try to fight; use economics instead, like alcohol.
Church Spiritual acceptable   Religious No
Energy Yes. Energy Sources causes wars. #care  

I haven’t spent a lot of time on this list, but that’s my feel so far.      Maybe it is better represented as “too much”, and “too little” .. I’ll try that sometime.

And now my brain is blank, and I can sleep.

Happy Birthday To Me! 2012

In this year, I’ve switched my main blogging place to, as I’ve wanted to focus on my more technical side as well as build up a history of “here is who I am (hire me)” for the future.  But when it comes to my philosophical posts.. I have so much history here on LiveJournal, I may as well continue that vein of thoughts here.

Biggest changes I’ve noticed this year:

  • I now admit that I am probably half-way through my life, or more.   This means I probably have 3 more houses that I’ll live in, maybe 5 or 6 cars. 
  • I can see my body being more and more eager to not-function than to regenerate.   Nothing bad.   Just, more aware of it.   I can see how I have to take extra care now with all my parts.  Use it or Lose It?   I’m talking about you, Molar #5! (j/k)

What can I change about this year?  (this is effectively my “New Year’s Eve”)

  • I know I MUST get back to working out.   This requires slowing down life enough to make the space for it.   It has to be in the evening.    Please please please I want to get to twice a week.. yoga and running, perhaps.
  • I feel bad that I don’t call people.  Maybe I can start small.  Like, posting on people’s walls for their birthdays on facebook. Smile
  • I have two dogs with limited lifespans left.. and a cat, same situation.  There are a limited number of walks I can take the critters out on.    It might be time to do it.   This works well with working out.

Big Changes coming this year

  • Looming: Quinn turns 18, and possibly graduates High school.     This will probably bring some changes.
  • The rest is in God’s hands.  I don’t know what’s coming.   But I know I’ll be given the guidance I need to navigate it.

That’s about it.  Thank you all you beautiful people for your love of me and mine… 



I ran again (Who Am I)

The Last time I really ran was December of last year.


Insert story here about physical therapy, knee, IT band, core muscles, shoulder muscles being out of whack, reluctance to run, skipping the triple crown that I had registered for...

Especially mention have tons of friends ask me how my running is going (and feeling ashamed of it not happening)...

Wondering when I see a runner on a road.. do I feel envy as I once did? Many of them, their faces screwed up in misery and pain.

Who am I as a runner? Am I a 30 minute 5k, or a 26 minute 5k? Will I ever be a 23? will I be a 26.1? So much looking forward, pressure on myself.. self definition.


I ran today. Up to the church and back, just over 2-ish miles. In something minutes, plus or minus 5.

I enjoyed 95% of it.

Nothing really hurts. My feet sting a little -- I ran barefoot. Which means I had to run slowly, and pay a LOT of attention to how I was landing. It was a complete joy to cut into people's yards and feel cold squishy grass under my feet, and smooth concrete of driveways.. fresh asphalt was good too, but old asphalt was prickly.

The 5% i did not enjoy is when I put my Vibram Bikila's on. I could no longer feel the road, I started landing much harder, and I noticed it in my vision - every time I landed, the whole world "shuddered" as though my eyeballs were shuddering. So they came back off. This was at about the turn-around point.


I was inspired to go run by a coworker who posted a link to the Louisville Color Run. Surely I can do that.. the point of that one is to get splatted with color.. similar to Holi, the festival of color, which I never ever got to experience (was never in India). (But i heard about it, a lot. It was one of the things I feel I missed out on.)

Its in July. That's two months from now. So back into running un-shoes I go..

Sierra Leone, 1978

2nd Grade or 1st Grade.
There's a race.
I run the race.
I come in dead last.
I'm pissed off.
Walking home, I ask somebody if we can have a little private race.
I give it my best best best shot
I cannot beat him.
If I can't beat them, why play?
I release the path of being physically active and doing sports.

Two years ago

I start running.
I'm not sure I can even do it.
I do it.
I get faster.
How fast can I go?
I push myself.
Best was 25:56 for a 5K, i forget if it was Anthem'11 or Weathermen'10.
I Have to do better
I injure myself in fall 13.1 2011.
I try to recover for the January season.
See the backstory above.

Who Am I?

I can't try to define myself by how good I am, because that leaves me open to what I am not.

Here's what I can say:

I am easily a 33 minute 5k runner, 10-11 minutes/mile.
I am easily a 5-8 mile runner.

With lots of effort and training, I can be a 9:00 or 8:45 m/m runner, I could get up to mini-marathon lengths.
But I'm not doing that right now.

What Am I Going to Do?

Possible choice #1: No matter what, enjoy the run.
Possible choice #2: Don't go fast. I cannot outrun my ego, so I'm not going to test it.
Possible choice #3: Love on everybody and be happy to be there.

I think I can LIVE! with this. (LIVE! and let live.)

I will give it a shot.

Why would I ever read a Technical Book?
When I was in college, I used to laugh at the "technical books" section of the bookstore in the mall. Well, actually I didn't, because at the time, I would go there exculsively to drool over all the science fiction books.. $3.50 or so each.. that I could not afford, as I was living on ramen noodles and cans of peas, because that's all I could afford. (link)

Then, when I became a working stiff paid professional, I would go to the technical books section and laugh, because.. I knew all that stuff. There was a lot less to know in the early 1990's, and there was a lot of stuff "beneath me" (Dbase II, FoxPro, etc). (I was cool, I was porting apps from Clipper S87 to 6.0, and nothing came even close to the beauty of LPC)

In the late 1990's, I would sneer, because I was a close-minded anti-microsoft pro-linux-perl guy, and I really did not want to know MFC. I did, however, buy and own the Perl Cookbook, which opened my mind to the amazing ways to hack things into place to get things done. I used that book a LOT. (The next year, i got sent to C# class because they had an extra spot, and I have changed my mind about Microsoft) actually, I would say that Microsoft changed, and no longer annoyed me. C# was almost as awesome as LPC. (link)

For a while, in 2006 - when I found myself facing unemployment (it lasted all of about 2 weeks), i found myself browsing technical books, lamenting: so much to learn, what shall I learn? I ended up gravitating towards unit testing and Asp.Net WebForms, which I learned almost entirely via google, not from a book. Thank you .Net Rocks and for the pointers! In this case, the dead-tree books did not do anything for me, and being unemployed, I felt I shouldn't be spending $$$ if stuff was available on the internet for free.

I did buy some technical books in 2008 to read on vacation - wow, that was a rousing success. (Not). I hardly picked them up. A waste of $100+. (Patterns and Practises in C#, something else). They're still too expensive, when all of that knowledge is available for relatively free on the internet.

So, i repeat the question:

Why would I ever buy a technical book?

My answer:

I bought one two nights ago. I wanted to know about how to use EF Code First - I couldn't sleep - I bought the book on my iPad Kindle - and I read it, cover to cover, in about 45 minutes. And my lightbulb was born.

Here is what is different:
  • I have a very specific application, for which I might need the technology. This is not "reading for fun", but rather, reading to get a specific job done.
  • I don't know enough about the technology to know what to search for. (searching online only gave me introductory examples, nothing with real meat.)
  • I'm approaching it not as "a ton of money spent for a dead paperweight that I'll never look at again", but rather as a fairly inexpensive class briefing me in a specific subject which i can refer back to later. Most of these books cost me less than an hour's work, after taxes. (I am a professional, and I need to know as much as possible, as quickly as possible, to give my client the kind of service that I want to give them.)
  • I have an e-reader. on my iPad, and pretty soon, on an e-ink device. I can archive with impunity, without killing bookshelves.

And thus, I'm sold. Here's what I choose to read up on for my current client, to ensure I'm giving them the best that I can:
  • PostgresSQL (done) (pdf, free)
  • EF CodeFirst (done) ($10)
  • EF (general)
  • Asp.Net MVC 3 +/- Razor
  • Dependency Injection (Structuremap vs Unity)


Nook vs Kindle
Ever since I read Scott Hanselman's praises of a Kindle, I've wanted one.

However, my wife is a Nook Girl. She wants me to buy a nook so that Barnes and Nobles won't go out of business, so that she can have a place to go when .. that need arises.

So, I have to honestly compare them. No matter how much of a screaming fan girl believer of pontificous pontifications dreamy star struck hanslefan impulse buyer I am, i must give the illusion of honestly investigate the Nook. And so.. here goes.


Here's what I'm interested in for my new device:

b) E-ink display - to read technical books on.

Nowhere in here have I been able to fit in "why do I want a Kindle with a Keyboard". Reading up about it ( it turns out that the Kindle 3 is the only one with a keyboard.. The fourth generation (Available for free with my summit gift card!) does a better job of multiple file formats, but I would loose the keyboard. More discussion here. I guess I can let go of the keyboard. And I can always get a keyboard for my iPad.

The current Kindle does NOT have an SD-card - only the original had that.

So.. the reason(s) I would go for a Nook is:

a) My woman will like me more (this is important, y'all) (j/k, she thinks I'm cute)
b) I could just head over to B&N and read an entire technical book for free.
c) Could put an SD card with stuff into the nook.
d) possibly rooting the nook to make an e-ink tablet.

Dang. i am so undecided.

CodePaLousa 2012 Review Part 1
This last weekend, I attended CodePaLousa. At the end of it, it seemed IMPERATIVE that I write down some kind of a post so I could straighten all the information flashing through my head. Today, 3 days after.. it doesn't seem as important. Yet.. i'm sure it was important.. so I'll try.

Thursday Session #1: Functional Testing@aJimHomes
Selenium, Webdriver
Setting up repeatable data for tests at this level

My take away
I knew more than I thought i did.
Page objects pattern -

Session #2:
I split this between OData (meh, i knew this already) and TDD Kata (meh, knew this already).

Keynote #1: "The Next Generation of Dinosaurs" @BillyHollis
Cobol & Mainframe guys were very good in their ecosystem - small ram, linear thinking. (Fortran Equivalences = perfect for then). Then the ecosystem changed.
Currently, we are in an ecosystem. Its probably changing. Are we dinosaurs?
Barriers to entry in current market are unsustainable - if "to do it right" == "TDD" + "SOA" + blah + bleh +yarborough.

My take away
Yeah, i need to get familiar with programming in the google world.. writing gadgets, things like that .. without all the layers of .net architecture around me.
Things need to be simple and usable now to succeed.
Mobile is probably the meterorite that's taking out my ecosystem.

Friday Session 1: Best Practises for a Team of One @mjeaton
It was mostly aimed at single developers in a company - not my situation. We already do source control, bug tracking, etc.

But I did get:
Heard about Campfire for the first time here.
There is a Kalamazoo X Conference which deals with "Soft" (people) skills.
Business Driven Design (Given-When-Then) ways of representing requirements.
Tracking tasks: Moleskine, RTM, Hiveminder, AgileZen. OTHER than in your head.
Tracking Time: Harvest, Timesnapper, Pomodoros (all that I knew)

Session 2: Slicing Backlog Items Dr. Timothy Korson

I wish I could find the slidedeck for this!

What I scribbled down:
Sizing = 6-7 in a sprint
Vertical slices = a little at every level of architecture
Sunny day scenario first; what are the prerequisites for a sunny day scenario; each of those prerequisites = variability point.
User Role Options
Action Options
Object Options
Business Rule Options
Interface Options
Quality Attributes
Book: "Lean Architecture on Agile Systems" Jim Koplien
Sprint 0 = timeboxed architecture dive (too much vs too little)

Session 3: Developers Can't Design

This one left me feeling empty. It stated "things exist" -- but gave me nothing to sink my teeth into easily. So I wrote the presenter an email. More later if that pans out.
I exited quickly and caught up with another session, a guy I sat with at lunch:

Session 3.5: Intro to RavenDB @ReverentGeek

Chock full of fun knowledge, the Q&A caught me up on what I needed to know. Will definitely consider this in the future.

Session 4: Ruby's Object Model & Metaprogramming @superninjarobot

This was very deep - it went into the stuff that makes Ruby on Rails work (the method_missing stuff)
I had fun with it, it reminded me of LPMud's, and the fun stuff one did with /std/object instead of /std/object#43.
I couldn't find any links, but might work

Session 5: CoffeeScript @dmohl

This was cute and fun and enjoyable. I don't know that I would ever use it.. unless i was writing objects in javascript, i would check it out.

Summary of first two days
My world didn't shatter and change yet.. that was to come on the third day. Its getting late, so I'm going to post this as it is now.. will do another post for the last day.

Health Reboot

I started this post while in Evansville for Q's soccer stuff.. and then, the whole family fell sick. As I write this, I've just had my first big meal since the illness, and wow, I'm bloated.  Maybe not the best time to think about this... but hey, why not.   Maybe I'll be realistic rather than optimistic.


  BEST Be Vewwy Caweful  NOT GOOD that i like
Breakfast In Yogurt Plain and Fiber1
Green Monster Homemade Juice
Yogurt with Fruit Dipping Sauces
Cereal (Cheerios) and Milk 
Waffles, Syrup
Chocolate Fudge Poptarts
Fruit Juices in quantity
Bananas in quantity
Breakfast Out Panera Apple Panera Chocolate Chip Bagel with Plain Cream Cheese IHOP/ CB Pancakes!
Panera Pastries
 Lunch In Yogurt and Fiber1
Veggies and Cheese (String, Square, etc)
Frozen Microwave Meals
Making Sandwiches (bread is my enemy)
 Lunch Out  Jason's Deli (Salad bar)
QDo'ba (naked, lite rice)
Smashburger Veggie burger no bun, no fries
General TSO's from Yangkee Noodle? (don't eat the rice!)
Jimmy Johns (careful on bread portions)
Subway 6" (bread portions)
Pita Pit Falafel Wrap
General Tso's from LingLing
Beef Fried Rice (PFC)
 Dinner In Home Made Stir Fry (control the rice)
Beef Crockpot Homemade
Chicken Crockpot Homemade
Home Made Fried Rice (control the rice)
Spagetti Portion Controlled
anything, Mashed Potatoes on the side
Chili Mac
Spagetti All Out and Breadsticks
Hamburger Helper
Sanfrancisco Treats
 Dinner Out
(too many to list)
Salad Salad Salad
Fajitas (ignore the tortillas and rice)
Fruit Salad
Sandwich-based things
Pasta based things
Rice based things
 Beverages Unsweet Tea
Diet Sprite, Pepsi
Coke Zero 
Minute Maid Lite Lemonade
 There is no middle ground. Coke
Sweet Tea
 Snackeroos  Peanuts, Cashews, Nuts  Popcorn (Quantity!) Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ice Cream Sundae


BEST GOOD Questionable
Monitor blood sugars after meals
Monitor morning blood pressure
Log all food intake (FatSecret Calorie Counter)
Go Vegetarian and Low Carb again
Monitor morning (fasting) sugars
Some kind of exercising
Eating just before bed
No exercise

Exercise Possibilities
Morning workouts vs getting to work at a reasonable time vs ability to wake up
Yoga (am)
Aqua fitness class (am)
Evening cooking dinners and house stuff vs Evening workouts
Pick up Soccer games on Fridays at Noon
Martial arts?  (TKD, Kenpo)
Jog treadmill
Jog outdoors with Liz's group
Jog outdoors with the NE YMCA Group
Jog outdoors by myself, Jog to/from work
Ride bike to/from work (work hours?)
Sign up for and participate in races
Stretching at night before bed

Okay, i'm going to have to reflect more on the exercise front. 

Xplane 10

I have really been enjoying flying around in xplane 10.

Last night I flew from Des Moines to Louisville in a personal jet at 5000 ft using mostly VOR. At night. Beautiful lights. Landing was amazing. Although in reality, probably fatal.

Eh that's easy to correct... Just being impatient with the landings, not bleeding enough speed.

I hooked up my iPad as an "EFIS" app.. Used it to control the NAV radios and stuff. The computer monitor was mostly mouse looking out the windows.

There are a few things I want to do:

Take what would have been a 2 to 6 hr road trip and do it in a Cessna instead. Just to get a feel of how much faster it isn't. Like to Evansville or Columbus or Morgantown.

Take a 18 hr road trip in a personal jet. To see how awesome that is.

Do a totally IFR ATC guided flight. In bad weather.

Fly over my house. Done and done!

Fly VFR dead reckoning to somewhere I know. Like maybe Cincinnati.

Figure out how to use the damned Navaids.

Not crash a helicopter.

Yep, I have a list.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.



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