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2018 was a very Dry Year. Yes, I took a year off from drinking alcohol.

Starting January 1st, 2018, I decided to take a year away from drinking alcohol. Each year most of us choose to make some changes in our lives. Sometimes it’s a healthier choice for our bodies and sometimes it a healthier choice for our minds. There were a couple reasons that I chose to not drink for a full 365 days. Some of the reasons, but not all;

  • I had been drinking alcohol for about 30 years at this point. I should make sure I can live a life without it, because, alcoholism.
  • I had made some alcohol infused decisions in the past that I still am not proud of and I wanted to work through those.
  • I have an addictive personality. If I were going to make some changes in my life, mindset and future I needed to make sure I did not use alcohol as a crutch to bypass those changes and the progress it takes to build a better me.

Even though this choice to stop consuming alcohol was mine alone, as you can see above there were some real-life reasons behind choosing to stop drinking alcohol. I felt that I needed to remove alcohol from the metaphorical bag of stress-relieving tools that we usually rely upon. Instead I chose to try alternative ways of dealing with the mental and physical stress I had been carrying around for the last 35-40 years.  Therapy, finding hobbies, changing habits and relying upon my wife for what turned out to be some truly solid fundamental changes in actions and reactions.

Therapy. I chose to start therapy very early on in 2018 to find out what was really weighing on my mind. I would assume that most of the people who know me from the last 30-or-so years will tell you that I am a fun-loving, very social, center-of-attention-seeking, life of the party who tries hard to live up to the stereotype of an Irish bartender with a penchant for burritos and dance circles. Although I have not tended bar in over 20 years, I still refer to it, since it made a HUGE impact on expanding the social side of my personality. A fact that I rely on even to this day, in sales meetings and collaborating with others to successfully blend many disparate business personalities.

My addictive personality has manifested itself in a couple areas over my lifetime. I enjoyed partying and going out for drinks, which means I am prone to binge drinking. This led to making some really unsafe choices. It put my relationships in danger, my life in danger and my daughters’ future in danger of not having their father around. One my other manifestations of addiction is food. I love food, or at least I always thought I loved food. However therapy has opened my eyes to show me that I have used it as another crutch to deal with stress, anxiousness and even most importantly, the lack of control. Over the course of 2018, I have realized that I can now identify areas and times when I have lack of control in day to day actions, outside influences as well as making my own choices. Dealing with stress was often accomplished by finding food. Being able to identify when this is happening has been a huge help in learning that I can deal with internal as well as outside forces.

Identifying these items in my life was both overwhelming and yet it was also a great relief. Learning about you is both scary as well as important. Looking back at my younger self; I wonder what would have happened if I were pulled off to the side of the road of life and told to slow down and be taught how to deal with the oncoming onslaught of what life; has already cited you for, as well as what it was about to throw at you. Maybe I could have been taught the best ways to identify what just happened how to deal with it; instead of just handing you a not-so-small stack of pink slips that will soon land you in front of a judge with a truly life-altering conversation.

2018 was also the start of finding ways to busy myself with constructive things and much more positive uses of both my time and don’t forget the money I was saving by not buying drinks at dinner, happy hours and weekend stress-relieving-Coors-Light-thrashing games of darts. So I tried out a couple things to keep my mind focused on for more than a couple hours at a time (which not drinking actually helped a lot, more about this later). One of those hobbies I started was woodworking. I grabbed some old pallets and a large stack of left over large boards, from a deck demo and remodel, and decided to try to nail something together and see what I could make. Come to find out, it is a great stress reliever in a couple ways. It keeps you busy. Busy enough to take your mind off of upcoming responsibilities that would normally trigger a coping strategy. It focuses you on the task at hand or would occupy your mind on finding a solution to what needs to be fixed or completed. What I found out was; not having drinks, and more importantly, not going out for a hangover-inducing-attack on those alcohol filled glass and aluminum vessels in front of me on the weekends, allowed me to hold on to ideas and projects for longer than a few days. I found myself focusing on a project for weeks instead of a fleeting passing moment. Lastly, it creates. This last one is probably the most important. It creates a direct impact on something I have found to be a core trait of my personality. Tangible proof that I can create something good or complete a project to actual fruition. Holding these completed woodworking projects in my hands and having been told by family and friends that what I had just created was something really cool, would directly stimulate my need for outside validation.

One of the last items I learned this last year was discovering how important it is to me to give to others. I believe one of the core aspects about being human is the connectedness of every living thing on this planet. And that we all depend on every other living thing on this planet. The basis of that connection is respect. Respect for others, life itself and the needs of others. Respect can be defined in a multitude of different fashions in anyone’s life. My belief is that the feeling of empathy should never be just acknowledged, but rather it should be acted upon, in some way. Acting upon your empathy can be an act of respect. Giving one’s time, energy and more to a cause that directly helps or impacts something important to you is crucial to one’s happiness. At least it is immensely important to mine. Although I have been part of volunteering groups for many years now, in 2018 I was able to find some real and measurable ways to impact the lives of others. In the past, I might not have immediately noticed how important these acts would be to my personal growth. Although, I am acutely aware that I’ve always been affected by seeing others in need, it was when I reflected upon the year of 2018, that I saw how my own actions greatly influenced me and the intended self-growth I was trying to achieve. I now find myself trying to find ways to recreate that feeling; sure, absolutely this is a selfish act that makes me feel good. However, it has become an important part of what I need to be happy.

2018 started with the desire to find out what is not only important to me and what I might be missing, but to also make myself happy and live a life that my children can respect. I’m perfectly ok with helping myself while helping others.

2018 at conclusion. Yes, I did have a drink after midnight December 31, 2018. The event was filled with both excitement as well as sadness. I noticed during the month of December, I was having dreams that I would accidentally find myself drinking alcohol and would get really upset with myself (in my dream) that I ruined my streak of 365 days alcohol-free. This would raise the excitement about finally breaking my alcohol-fast, as well as cause anxiety. Anxiety because, I would be choosing to break this streak, that I could go well past 365 days and just continue on with my attempt to go dry for as long as possible. A year straight without a hangover. A year straight with the ability to focus on thoughts and desires. A year of proving to myself and others that it is absolutely possible for a dyed-in-the-wool drinker to take a year off and be successful. And now for the sadness. At 12:01 am January 1, 2019 I raised a toast the New Year, my family and the successful cessation of my “dry year” with a glass of champagne. This was followed about 5 minutes later with the reintroduction of the bottle opener to my hand after being separated for a year. Ultimately, I had two beers that night. When I awoke I had a small sense of regret and a bit of sadness. Regret that I had ended a very long, and as I might say, very impressing streak of alcohol-free-continuum. Sadness that I had given in to the temptation to drink again. It was a palpable feeling.  I also had a real inkling of why I chose to give up drinking alcohol in the first place, pretty much exactly a year prior.

Then came the clarity, I can only assume was made possible by the now sober internal civil engineers of my grey-matter being able to finally pave these new neural pathways previously unavailable to me. Creating the ability to really digest and comprehend what I had experienced. There was a real feeling that I could measure within myself that was not there before. I could reflect on the act because it had a beginning and an end. Now, had I not drank that champagne, or that beer, I would not have been able to truly experience the impact of a “dry year.” By actually closing the end of the year, ironically by actually opening a beer I am able to say I have seen both sides of this coin. Returning to alcohol consumption was a mindful choice. Had I not made that choice to take a drink, I feel that I would not have been able to initiate the reflection part of the process and see the change in my life. It has allowed me to again complete something that I set my mind to and has come to fruition. And we all know how important validation is.

Plus, if I stayed on the sober-train, sure, I might still have that ever-so impressive sober streak continuing on going forward, but I would also have to somehow define into words, again, to my staunch pro-alcohol-infused-stress relieving friends and family, the choice I have made was my own. Not on doctors’ orders. No, I was not allergic to alcohol somehow. No my wife didn’t tell me I needed to. A choice, made and completed.

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January 2, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

The Fog in the Cloud

There has been a lot of talk recently about the definition and benefit of “the Cloud.” And, while you’ll get as many definitions as people you ask, I figure I’d again describe what the Cloud is. I may have written explanations in the past, but it seems fun to look back and see, how even my definition of the cloud has changed. What is the Cloud? Explain the Cloud to me. How does the Cloud work? How do I use the Cloud?

The Cloud, in the everyday sense of IT, is a collection of connected servers and storage devices that are owned and managed by some large corporation that you might be using at this very moment. I mean, even this WordPress blog is hosted in the Cloud. To the layman, the Cloud is where you store your pictures of your baby, your cat, your food or your OOTD Instagram pics. (Just Google it if you need to know). It could be your Google Drive, your Dropbox account, your Facebook or Instagram picture feed, hopefully it’s not your Snapchat feed, because apparently that stuff disappears within 24 hours or less… Yeah… that’s true… nothing on the Internet is forever on the Internet, am I right Josh? The cloud, to most people is the Internet. It’s the place you go to store your important, sometimes VERY personal files.

But some of you Curious George’s might like to know a little bit more about what the Cloud really is, you know, I want to know…’cuz, “The More You Know!” Right?

Ok, so the Cloud is made up of many players. There are players like Amazon Web Services, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Dropbox, Rackspace, Apple and tons more. These companies use huge data centers to store all of your data and settings and snaps, tweets, Instagoodies, and likes. But to bring is closer to home, and on a more detailed level, you need to know that in most large cities, there are data centers just sitting there. Like huge-ass-Acorn Mini Storage sheds just waiting for people to rent them and fill them up with their crap.

Like Mini Storage, data centers have space available to place your own servers, your own drives for storing databases, files and even cat pictures; if you really wanted. Yes, this is literally true. You most certainly can waste your very-hard-earned money on renting or subscribing to server and storage space at Amazon or Rackspace to have your very own cloud or (OwnCloud) on the Internet. Go forth, if you are so endeared, to waste your money away.

You see, the Cloud is no longer just some magical place that all your priceless baby pictures are stored. It’s now a huge business venture. A service model. A pay-as-you-grow avenue where you can place your high-speed websites and databases as you need them or remove them in case you need to test the next Flappy Bird development platform.

The Cloud is a complete Infrastructure of everything you need or want in a business network that probably already have, inside your office or even in your very own home. Well now, (unless you live in Austin or Kansas City) for half of the amount you already pay for your Internet access, you can have a complete infrastructure at one of the thousands of data centers around the world. You can have switches, servers, firewalls, load balancers, sata storage on enterprise class SAN’s and disk arrays, virtual desktops for playing as many Minecraft games as your wallet can handle without melting. And you can do it without drawing unwanted crazy attention to your house for using 4 megawatts of electricity a month to power your bit coin mining rigs.

You see, the Cloud, now, is a complete infrastructure. A complete network. A complete LAN. Connected by unbelievably fast fiber optics Internet connections just waiting for you, your neighbor, or that snobby Internet sensational cat to purchase and host whatever it might be that you are trying to create or curate on the net.

September 1, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No One Told Me I Couldn’t; Until They Did

There were a couple times in my life that I look back upon favorably. There are two instances where I was young and naïve enough to try something new, even when they said it couldn’t be done.

At about age 19, a friend and I decided we’d try our hand at starting a business. When you are up all night, bar tending, drinking with friends and talking about things that you could do someday, your possibilities are endless. I mean why not, there was no one around to tell us that we couldn’t do it, right?

Then you grow up a little bit each year and you start to acquire something called wisdom.

Wisdom has two distinct properties when it decides to rear it’s head in your lifetime.

1. It stops you from doing something stupid.

Wisdom comes from failure, and failure comes from trying. The more wisdom you have, you become smarter and more aware of the risks that affect your decisions.

At 19, you can take a day trip across half the state to a fun and crazy destination with nothing more than your wallet, a couple bottles of pop and you can leave the removable top off the car because the sun is perfect. Wisdom, on the other, hand teaches you that after driving for 3 hours with no roof over your head in the sun, no sunscreen, drinking pop and no water, then going to a water park and riding rides all day, you become dehydrated, thirsty and broke. Wisdom is sometimes bestowed upon you at times like these when you least expect it. Such as getting kicked out of the water park because lighting was striking the really tall things around you, the cold front that had just moved in brought with it winds of 20+ mph, driving rain and you were about to be drenched in 50 degree rainwater with no top on the car, no dry clothes and no money left to buy anything except gas to drive home. Wisdom can teach you that driving 55 down a highway in the rain and cold with sunburn and a touch of heat stroke will most likely cause you to get hypothermia and turn your body many unnatural shades of purple. Wisdom now stops me from doing that sort of thing again.

2. It stops you from doing something crazy.

Wisdom derived from failure and those good old fashioned slap-in-the-face learning opportunities teach you to prepare for things. Bring sunscreen. Bring water. Bring a change of clothes. Look at your phone to see if the destinations still exists, or if there might be a tornado there waiting for you. Learning from failure gives one the wisdom to know that doing something crazy just might not be worth it.

On the other hand, wisdom can stop you from doing something crazy, something others have deemed impossible, too difficult or even ask; why you would ever want to try that when this other thing is so much closer, safer and cheaper. Wisdom stopping one from doing something crazy…is what makes it so much more difficult to be an entrepreneur at the age of 42 than it was at 19, or even 30. Two of my greatest achievements came during times when there wasn’t anyone there to tell you no. Nowadays, wisdom steps in and tells you to bring water, sunscreen and emergency credit cards. Sure it’s safe, and you just night be better off, physically and probably emotionally, but it doesn’t leave much room for failing miserably and not only creating yet another great story, but wisdom can suddenly be there telling you, you can’t do that.

So take your wisdom whenever you are slapped in the face with it, but don’t let it stop you from creating more failures, because at some point it won’t be a failure, but instead it could lead to that long awaited success.

May 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2 Months of Baby Love

It’s been two months and I am getting a little upset with myself. I thought for sure that I would be gushing over Brenyn’s arrival. Talking to everyone about my new baby girl and how I can’t get enough of her. By this time, my co-workers and friends should be sick of me talking about how she, “Is the smartest, cutest and everythingest baby ever.” However, things are not quite what I expected.

The first few days, at the hospital, were so tiring and scary. It was a complete brain melting flood of change and disorientation. See, in most situations I’m quite a calm person. When things start to get crazy and frantic, I pride myself with usually keeping a level head; assessing, helping and even launching into action. While others are watching gape-mouthed or wide-eyed and frozen in stare, I find my sense of urgency and act. Well for the most part… usually.

I assumed what follows was a product of me not having been through this type of scenario before and; what I can only assume, was being so involved in the action, that I just couldn’t to take myself out of the action and act accordingly.

Expected due date T-2 weeks and counting. Tif was told by her doctor that her high blood pressure was a factor and they wanted to induce labor two weeks early. Me? I was calm with the news. I knew it was a possibility and I knew that the hospital, the doctor, the nurses and anyone else involved had been through this a million times before. Nothing to worry about. So we went to the hospital and checked in. They took us to our room and we settled in; sending emails and text messages to family, friends and work. Letting them all know that we were going to be a little busy over the next few days.

After a couple hours, near or around 4 or 5 pm, the nurses came in and told Tif that they were ready to induce labor. She had already gotten her IV in her hand and was settled into her bed, actually connected to work getting last minute things finished up. They administered Pitocin and said it would slowly ramp up over the next few hours and she would probably be ready to have a baby in less than 12 hours. This all went, what looked like to me; according to their plan. They came in and checked each half hour, upped the dose, lowered the dose and at 11 pm Tif’s water broke and they said that it wouldn’t be long now, and we should try to get some sleep and get as much rest as possible.

Now here is where things really started to go off the rails of normality. I had recently had back surgery 2 months before and was recovering slowly. I figured if I took it easy I would be able to handle the ups and downs. I could sit and rest when needed until the labor really started and stick it out for as long as it would take. However, with the couch in the delivery room feeling like a crooked blowup mattress stretched across a bunch of steel pipes that were obviously welded together by someone who had never purchased a level or acquired any semblance of mechanical inclination whatsoever. So sleeping was limited to about 35 minutes at a time; at which my body, now twisted like a cherry Red-Vine licorice, would need to flip over and untwist on the other side. This lasted for about 4 hours, when amidst one of my many unhelpful deep-REM-induced terror naps, I heard the soft caring voice of my wife call out, “Honey, Honey… HONEY,! It’s time.” I waddled my now corkscrew body over to the side of the bed and looked at Tif with one of those… Yeah, I’m ready. What are we doing, what do you need me to do… waking up in a stranger’s house and running from the police type expressions on my face. Probably didn’t help much to calm down the pregnant and soon-to-be-pushing wife of mine.

Sparing the details of what turned out to be an amazingly lucky 45-minute labor, Brenyn was born.

I was guided through cutting the umbilical cord, was rushed over to the warming table, was the first person to put a diaper on this tiny slippery little 6 lb. person. Took some very nervous first moment photos and carried my brand new baby back over to my tired and worn out wife. Who, being numb from the waist down, was oblivious to the fact that the doctor was putting in stitches. Handed her the newborn life we had created and smiled nervously to each other. With a little bit of laughter to one other, we feigned our happiness to mask the nervous energy. Over the next 6 hours, Tif slept on and off and I was tasked with changing, feeding and holding our fragile little bundle of joy.

The dissemblance of what I considered to be my normal thought process and ability to cope with stressful times.

Nearing the 12 hour mark, I found myself feeling overwhelmed, scared, annoyed, sad, happy, frustrated, excited, worried and many many other feelings. The most unfamiliar to me was worry. I am normally not a worrying person. I am of the camp that things happen for a reason, they will happen no matter what. Time marches on and life continues. You can’t do much to stop the world from turning; you just hang on and point yourself in the best possible direction to mitigate the oncoming damage… so to speak. But here was this little person, eyes closed, hands grasping at anything she could find; hungry and loud, tired and scared, cold and needy, loud and unending. I was so busy trying to watch out for our baby, I lost track of time and soon we were going to be leaving the hospital with this life in our hands. Tif had been going in to the bathroom from time to time and I would sit in the bed and hold the baby. Each time she left the room I felt myself start to well up inside and want to start sobbing. I didn’t know why, but once I was alone with Brenyn, I felt like I wanted to cry. We were soon about to leave and Tif asked me… “Honey, what’s wrong? You look like you are about to cry.”

That was all it took I couldn’t hold back any more and started to sob.
As she asked me over and over what was wrong I couldn’t figure out why I was crying. Are you tired? Are you mad? Are you hungry, do you need me to go get you a burrito? Finally she asked me, “Are you scared?”

I started crying really hard and knew what it was. I was never scared in the past about not being able to figure things out. My world is viewed through an analytical filter. To me, everything has an answer. It might not be easy or fast but there is always an answer to every problem. Except now. I had no idea how to keep you safe from all the crazy, idiotic, stupid selfish things in the world I had grown accustomed to taking care of. It scared me.

2 months later, I am now able to look back and not get choked up thinking about Brenyn’s future. How we will take care of her or how we will protect her. The big difference is, now I look at Tif and see a partner that will help do whatever is necessary. I am no longer the one that will have to find the answer on my own, I have help.

March 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

We’re having a girl…but wait a second…

I just found out that our first child will be a girl.

When people ask, and they always do; “What are you hoping for, a boy or a girl?” The average response is “It doesn’t matter to me, as long as it’s healthy.” But honestly, there are always some internal pings and pangs that make you think that you are having either one or the other.

I do remember this though, when I was sitting next to my wife in the sonogram room and I saw the outline of my baby for the first time, I got that pang in my chest. I knew something was changing and it was going to be big. Another amazing life was soon going to be in my hands.

Now on with the more truthful side of things. A few days later, after the initial viewing of the sonogram, we had a reveal party. A party where we invited our closest friends and family to be part of finding out that we are having a girl.

So we planned out get together, and my job was to bake cupcakes, hollow out the center, pump them full of pink frosting… the revealing surprise that the baby’s gender was female, and then put the top of the cupcake back on so that Tif could frost it and make it look professionally done. Obviously, from the look of the cupcake in the picture… we were awesome at this.

Now day of the party, in true to form fashion, Tif’s family was nearby and came to the house. Also, not imperative, but fun to note… they were late as usual. Tif’s family runs on Skoog time. Not sure how to figure that out, but it usually means that a party at 1:00 pm, means you can expect people to show up at 1:15 to 2:00 pm.

However my family, is not close by so I decided to set up a YouTube channel for my family to log in to and watch, as I broadcasted out to the Internet, the inner sanctum of my home for them to see. A remote party. (Which, looking back, was the first remote simultaneous drunk cast of my family, yet makes me think certainly not the last.) In it’s own true to form fashion, my family logged in early, with everyone drinking their drinks and stuffing their faces. But not to be outdone, my “Always Creative sister, The Party Starter, Kelly,” figured out that she could take her laptop to the bar where she was bartending and set it up on the WiFi there to partake in the festivities. So there we had it. Our baby girl’s first party. Which of course included the Lyons family involvement with drinking and the Skoog family involvement with family and caring. Such great juxtapositioning.

An hour or so in to the party, after assuring my 74 year old mother, that “Yes this is live, just like the NBC Nightly news correspondents in London, can talk to each other, so can we across the Interwebs. And yes I am answering your questions in real time. And Yes, I know you can see me, and Yes I can see you and the chain hanging from your glasses since you are about 3 and a ½ inches from the camera on the laptop Ma!” We were finally ready to reveal the gender of the baby. Everyone at our house bit in to their cupcakes and someone screamed out… “HA,HA!!! I was right.. I said it was a girl … and I was right… HA!!!” followed by a quizzical look from the remote onlookers in Wisconsin small town and the wide-eyed bartender that was slinging both… Fish Fry and Leinenkugel’s to the peeps at the Bowling Alley… coincidentally only a block and  a half from where my Mom and family were at…crept up to their laptop camera’s and peered into the screens to see what the results were.

the joyous giggles and laughter kept up for a good minute or two, with the occasional question from my Mom…”What is going on.. what are they doing? Why are we watching everyone walk around Ted’s house… is he going to tell us what is happening or what?”

So I walked up to the camera on my laptop and showed them the inside of our cupcakes… filled with pink frosting and heard Greg and Stacey exclaimed… Elaine… its a girl… that is why the cupcakes have pink frosting.”

“Oh, well that’s nice,” mom says calmly, sips her wine and says… “Ok I’ll be right back I have to go have a cigarette.” Yes this is my family.

Grandpa and Grandma Brenden start hugging everyone. Family members start shaking my hands over and over. Everyone is so excited! The presents all start to come out and we see baby clothes, and sippy cups and after a good 15 – 20 minutes of excitement…the murmurs die down just enough that my wonderful, beautiful, loving and caring sister can be heard, from behind the bard with a Busch Light in one hand and a Whiskey Coke in the other… peering into her camera and smirking like only Kelly Jean can, we hear

“Oooooh Shit yes… watch out bitches, there’s going to be a Kelly Jr in the family!”

I obviously laugh out loud. One of the only things that can be heard on our side of the World-Wide-Web transmission of fun and humor from this tiny Unincorporated town’s Bowling Alley just big enough to house my sister’s personality, and I look at Tif. I see a little tear in her eye.

Oh Honey, what is wrong? I ask sweetly.

“Honey,” she replies…. “I was a really terror as a young girl, what if our baby turns out to be more like me…?”

I look back at her with a scared look in my eyes…” Honey, what if Kelly is right; and our daughter does turn out to be another Kelly Jr?”


More tears!

November 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Summer…Then

I’m not sure how many of you think or feel this way; but, there are moments when I am walking outside in the sunny mornings that remind me of a specific time in your life. A time many years ago, for me anyhow.

 
For the first 11 years of my life I grew up on a farm in central Wisconsin and I am a firm believer that these are the most formative times in my life. Most of these moments feel much more real that many other memories that come afterwards. 
 
In summetime on the farm you are out of school and just desparate to find things to do with your time so that you can enjoy the short break from school. I would find myself riding my bike or walking around the farm, around the fields and down the dirt roads to places that stick in my head. A bridge that we used to fish under, a pond we used to swim in or a huge hill that we would spend 10 minutes slowly climbing on our bikes, sometimes getting off and walkin the rest of the way, just so that we could ride back down at break-neck speeds we swore Evil Kinevil would be jealous of. Now, this was a gravel road hill that was almost half a mile long. This was the type hill that the Tour De France would be proud to call it’s training ground… or at least we thought so at 10 years old. 
 
Once at the top we were barely able to wait long enough to catch our breathe. We had just climbed the largest hill ever and “Dammit we wanted to ride down it as fast as gravity and hot summer wind would allow us to go. Pedalling as hard as we could. Looking like calvin and Hobbes in a Radio Flyer…spinning our back tires as we tried to get to top speed as soon as possible. Wobbling from left to right, sliding back and forth losing grip and cranking our bikes like a snake’s tail from side to side. Pushing on the pedals so hard that our feet would slip off and scratch dotted lines up our shins that looked like there should be a zipper attached to one end. But we never cared, we were on our way down. Down a hill that was our Everest. Down the loose gravel track that had mini grand-canyon gorges running like vericose veins down the rock hard age defying granite from the night before’s downpour. 
 
That’s when it would happen; the few times that we would lose the traction on our tiny tires, only as wide as a quarter, hurteling our andreniline-fueled idiot sticks of a child frame down the only obstacle that we could overcome. That gravel teton monolith would exact its revenge and be paid in blood. What started out as an attempt to sling-shot ourselves into history, would be just as quickly side-lined into a rocky sharp and painful slide tha twould go on for a good five to ten feet. Of course to us it felt like it lasted the entire length of the damn hill.
 
Blood trickling down the calf and the side of your knee, picking tiny sharp red and pick invaders our of the heels of your hands. Rubbing your hands together to get the bloody dust off your hands. Carefully but quickly you wipe the rocks off your legs and assess the damage. Followed by the younger and much more high pitched version of a “Johnny Knoxville-style” curse to the gods above.
 
Only to squelched by the sounds “Alright one more try then I have to go home and get a bandaid for this,” as you limped your way back to the top of the hill. thank god you fell off while you were less than half way down. That way you wouldn’t have to climb the whole thing.
 
Except the fact that the house was two mile on the side of that effin hill! But, lets not worry about that until we get to the bottom dammit. 
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***disclaimer… I know that my child with certainly find creative ways to hurt themselves (Barns, abandoned Railroad tracks, ice racing, etc… but remember…this is in No Way a manual on how to do that! Besides, that hill is now paved. Wait… wouldn’t that make it faster?***

August 11, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A message to my “Shapeable Mind”

There was a time; it was quite a while ago, now that I think about it, that I would look forward in time and wonder if I would ever be like those happy idiots on TV, in the movies, in books, and on streets. Back then, I would look forward in time and picture myself being happy, happy with you. Before I even knew it was you.

Let’s take a tangent…as I often do; I love driving. I love heading out in the evening and in the morning. I love crossing the multitudes of cross streets in the city, in the county, on back roads and speeding down highways. I love looking out the top of the car, or out the side, seeing the stars that seemed to have never moved. In the same place now that they were back then.

But quite a while ago, I spent countless hours driving from place to place. From house to home. From one happy time to another. On long trips back to family and friends but I spent it driving without you. You see, I love driving. But; there were those moments when I was alone on the road; when my mind would wander into the future and wonder what you might be like. What would your personality be? What would make you smile, what would you love? Would you think that the stars are just as amazing and would they pull on your heart strings like they do to mine?

I may have wondered about so much, but I one thing I didn’t have to wonder about was… I knew I wanted you there in the seat next to me. I just didn’t know it was you, yet. There was a time, quite a while ago, that I knew I wanted something, someone to look to for reference; a point. Maybe a measure, a measure of myself in fact.

And now… The stars are still in the exact same place as they were that long time ago and they’re for sure going to be in the exact same place, far forward in time. But I am finally going to be able to see them from a different angle. Not so much looking at those stars wondering what the future is going to be like, but instead, I’ll probably be looking back; back to where they used to be, because now that I have you, as my reference point. A change in time. A reason for a good… no, a great life.

I can see myself being one of those happy idiots, and I can move forward in time, and in life… instead of just looking forward. Maybe I can just look to the seat next to me.

I look up at the stars quite often still. I love knowing that the same stars are going to be there when you get here too. You haven’t seen them yet, but I’m pretty positive you’re going to love them. And I guarantee that they will be right there where I left them. In the same spot I’ve seen them all my life. In the same spot that you will see them…all your life.

I’m looking forward to seeing them with you.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Ducks and Salmon…who knew

Well, this entry isn’t so much a fun creative rant but more of a descriptive story. Stories are the best, and some of you out there who know me know that I can sometimes get quite animated when telling stories. But not this time, this time it’s just a straight story, it takes a bit to get going, but of course there are few droplets of humor.

We flew in to Spokane and then drove about 2 hours to Walla Walla Washington. There we stayed at the Hampton Inn for three nights. We were working at the Co-op in town for the days we would be on-site. The one thing that always got mentioned; was the steelhead salmon that they all love to go fishing for on the Snake river just nearby . On Thursday drove back to Spokane for the night to be close to the airport when we left Friday at 7am.

But, for our last dinner of the trip, we went to eat at a great place called Milford’s Fish house. The owner seated us and talked to us for quite a long time.  I could tell he was down to earth since he was wearing a Gonzaga U baseball cap and Zubaz pants. We bullshitted about the local college team, Gonzaga, and how they usually are in the March Madness Basketball tournaments. However this year they were not doing so well. He even commented on Joshua’s Oregon Ducks jacket that he proudly wears each time we go someplace (Joshua is an Oregonian locked in a Minnesotan body, I swear).

He recommended the Calamari, which was Korean shallow fried. He even made a joke about how he had no idea how to fry these large squids but thank god his partner’s wife was Korean and she showed him how. He also recommended the Clams and Andouille sausage, which Joshua got, and the Stuffed Steelhead Salmon which I got.

The Calamari was full tentacles and not the rings that you normally get when you order it. It was panko crusted and very light. The texture was like strong crabmeat.  The dish came with 5 different dipping sauces and a nice joke from the owner, “Those Koreans,” he said “They give you about 2 ounces of protein and about 3 acres of sauces. It’s crazy, but seriously that’s what they do.”

I replied laughing heavily… “No wonder they keep so slim. Not like us Americans, we get a whole cow and a bottle of A1.” The owner busted out laughing so that the whole restaurant turned to see.

The 5 sauces were, spicy BBQ, homemade sweet and sour, Wasabi Cream cheese, Spicy red pepper sauce and a lemon and pear puree. Each one made the mouthful of calamari a little different and it was such a serious treat to have so many tasty choices from one dish. He did not disappoint.

When the entrees arrived, we sampled a piece of each other’s order. I tried some of the clams and Andouille and it was creamy and spicy with some sautéed vegetables. It came with a really neat salad, simple but amazing veggies flavored and smooth dressing. It was just wonderful.

However, I was extremely satisfied with my salmon. Usually I do not like salmon since it has a distinct fishy flavor I usually could not get past, but not this steelhead. It was local fished from the Columbia and Snake rivers, and it was amazing. It came with mashed potatoes and broccoli fried in butter and cream. On the side was a very sweet cranberry and cherries sauce that brought the flavor up just a bit and made it seem happy on the palate. The add on, was a side of tomato basil soup that was perfectly blended between broth and cream based. The fresh basil sprig allowed me to rip them apart and add as much as I wanted.  In the soup were small pieces of onion and   It easily ranks as one of my favorite fish dishes of all. That experience alone has made me want to come back to the area of Spokane and the Pacific Northwest area as soon as possible.

I cannot rave enough about Milford and his fish house.  On our way out, we thanked him personally and shook hands. He was even nice enough to give us some parting wisdsom as we left.  “There is a great book store on the corner of the university by Gonzaga . The road splits into a Y and you can see it right there on the right. If you go in there you can pick up a nice new jacket from Washington State University and throw away that Oregon Ducks thing you got on!”

Awesome!

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You get Squirrels with each new job.

squirrelcrowturkey

I used to certainly think of myself of the type of person that wanted to work for a small company.  When looking for work I mainly focused on companies with 50-100 employees or so. I am a huge technophile. I love gadgets, geek culture, networks and anything nerdtastic.

In the past I assumed that working for a big company, you are given a position or job to do and that is all that you were able to do; a cog in the machine, were to the contrary; small companies allowed you to be in face to face contact with almost everyone at the company, from the CEO to the Sanitary Engineers. I was certain that I was a small business focused individual. I could build a website one day and the next I would start an implementation of an entire VMWare environment with Active Directory upgrades, a new Exchange environment and a large SQL cluster to house thousands of CRM records. Or, you might be able to watch crows and turkeys fight and litterally chase squirrels outside your office window each day. Small business lets you wear as many hats as you would like in the technology field or the just in the field. If you want to learn it you can learn it. If the company wants to implement a new technology, you get to jump at the chance to be the TechHero, or Observer of nature happening right in front of you.

The other side of small companies is that not all of them are run as efficient and properly as they could be. This leads to fluctuations in projects, customers may come and go and the work that might need to be done can dwindle. One day you could be putting the shiny protective wax coating on that awesome new virtual server environment you just designed and built; the next day you can find yourself looking for a new job.

Enter, the LARGE Company. I had worked for large companies in the past, but this was on a whole new level. This company has a global reach. On the daily I would be talking to people from Argentina, Singapore, Australia, Israel and Spain, oh and even a couple people 4 miles down the road at the end of the gravel path that led to a corn field. When this opportunity presented itself, I was weary of working for a company this large. Honestly, I was scared to be in charge of projects that impacted approximately $20 billion worth of yearly Net Income. I was certainly a cog in the machine, but I was a very visible and very valuable cog as well.

In the past, I was the go to person for all things tech. In a small environment you are not only expected to be the guy who knows how to implement a secure firewall with proper rules, restrictions and port allowances, but you also had to know which was the best laptop; that Joanne in the secretary pool should buy for her daughter that was headed off to college, under $300 of course, and which of the fat playful squirrels out Joanne’s window was named Hercules and which was Sean Connery.

I was worried that I would lose that personal connection with co-workers and the fun environment that I seemingly always try to create around me (there is a reason I was voted class clown). Surprisingly I found myself, not only being put into meetings at 2:30 am with a Tech Manager in Taipei, but also bullshitting with the people around me about cars, social media hilarity and the penchant of a certain server administrator’s ability to rid his wooded home of squirrels by the creative use of forceful home-relocation; for any puffy tailed adventurer that felt the need to fill his truck with roughly 500 walnuts. True Story.

It has been many months now and I am surprised to find myself enjoying the security and opportunity that a multi-billion dollar fully internationally reaching company can offer (Yes, Hunny Bunny you were right). Not to mention that I have a new found understand for each and every “Dilbert Cartoon Of The Day!”

I can now appreciate the family feeling of the small business and the nuances of the crazy large global reach of the Large Company, It is reassuring that joyful rodentia can play a part in almost every companies employee’s happiness (comparatively of course). To my knowledge no squirrels were ever harmed, unless my back was turned and those crows truly earned their name-right of “Murder”.

February 20, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

What the hell is wrong with that half of the cookie?

Today Nick brought up a pretty good point.

We were provided with tasty large oversized cookies today. They were pretty good, still warm when we got them. However sometime during the day, someone broke a cookie in half and decidedly;  “left it for someone else.”  Now most of you might think that is a very nice thing to do…. WRONG!

That “half of a cookie” is going to sit there all day and all night and never again get touched. It is going to dry out and get hard, and it’s going to remind everyone who walks by it that someone, someplace thought it would be a good idea to full-on Xbox controller-grip that cookie and break it in half. Transferring all of their month-old keyboard, mouse and dried desk coffee-stained lint and bacteria over to the unwanted obviously non-culminating cookie’s existence.

I mean really, is it worse to leave that half of the cookie for someone else, or just spare that cookie from the sneering judgmental looks from passers-by and just take the whole damn cookie back to your desk and throw away whatever the fuck you don’t eat!

January 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments