Thursday, July 30, 2015

As Yet Untidy and Untitled

People have been asking me questions on my next book. What's it about? When will it be done? Are you going with the same publisher? Aren't you done yet? Etc, etc.

I'll try and answer some questions here.

The book will be a creative nonfiction memoir about the house I grew up in during the 70's and early 80's. I believe what will make it unique is that it is centered around a six child, single parent family - for much of the book, anyway. (My mother remarried in 1979, after we'd lived in this house for nearly ten full years with Mom.) Because Mom had to work full time to support us, we were latchkey kids, largely alone before and after school. When we moved in before Christmas in 1969, we ranged in ages from 14 to 5. If you don't see the potential for some good stories given these variables, well, you'll have to trust me on this one.

I'm not sure how to structure or chapterize the book as of yet. At the moment, it's in a mind-numbing state of disarray. As you can see from the image, I've really just been capturing the stories as they've
come to me. They are kinda, sorta by topic, but in some of these documents, I jump around or include parts of another story.

The good and reaffirming news is that most of the stories have been extremely well received by the workshop group at AllWriters. Most of them say good things and mention how much the stories resonate with their experiences and made them laugh. I've never really had "beta readers," before, so I consider this group to be my sounding board, my gauge as to whether I'm still on track.

I think at last count, when I went into each of the documents and added them up, I'm over 200+ pages at this point, so I have a good start. I'd like it to be at least as long as Dirty Shirt was (260 pages), so I have a little work ahead of me.

My only idea for chapterization at this point is to have each chapter take a room in the house. As a result, some will be rather short, and others much longer. Once I put all the stories into a single document, I will have a better gauge on if this will work. The way I work though, I don't want to do that until I'm closer to being ready to call it a "book".

Because, right now I'm just calling it a mess. Someday, book. Right now, mess. A beautiful, funny mess, but a mess.

Do I have a title in mind? Not really. I'm kicking around "House of Blue Lights,"  but am a bit worried about copyright, since that is a fairly well known song. For a short time I was considering "Keeping Portland Weird" based around a sign I'd seen on the show Portlandia that read "Keep Portland Weird." I think it is a bit to obscure, after all, I barely knew about the saying as little as a year ago.

I am aiming to have the book in good shape to start thinking about publication by the end of 2016. I am currently working on several other side projects right now, so the book comes and goes as the interest ebbs and flows. Maybe it'll be sooner, I don't know. I do know that I'm having a blast writing it and it hasn't taken on the "problem child" status yet, like Dirty Shirt did, but that will probably come too.

In the mean time, I'll dabble in poetry, flash fiction and short nonfiction stories for publication elsewhere. Knowing all the while that there's a bigger project in my future.

And it's going to be epic.

Blogging off...

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ten From Ten

I recently returned from San Diego. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I was out there for the ESRI User Conference. It came on the tail end of a five day trip to New York to visit family and to celebrate my niece's high school graduation. Being away from home for 10 days and family for 5 of those 10 led to some longings. I thought I'd list them here - some may resonate with you if you travel away from your family a lot.

Ten things I missed after being away from home for ten days.

  1. Talking to my kids. They both have jobs right now, so between that and their friends, they are always coming or going somewhere. That makes those five and ten minute conversations around the dinner table or in passing so much more important. I enjoy hearing their stories about crazy customers at their respective grocery stores. They are getting a good taste of what it's like to navigate this world. Most of it good, some not.
  2. Laughing with my wife. When you've been married for 25 years, you know each other pretty well. We have similar senses of humor, so we enjoy making each other laugh when talking about our day. It keeps us young and connected.
  3. Walking my dog. This is my time to put in my iPod and get some "think time" or, sometimes "no-think time" after work. My dog is in my face every night after dinner, reminding me of my duties and it gets me moving, so that's okay.
  4. My chair. I do most of my writing on my laptop from a certain chair in our living room. It's nothing special, but it is also the place where I am most comfortable. It's my refuge. If I have headphones in and am in this chair, it means, Knock Before Entering. 
  5. My bike. Or, as Pee Wee Herman would say, MY BIKE! I ride it to work daily and usually put 10 miles in at night as "wind down time." It is my frugal answer to a gym membership and I look forward to it every night - weather permitting.
  6. My house. It's 93 years old, needs a bunch of work, but it's also my kingdom. I occasionally nap on it's floors, I clean it constantly and fix what needs fixing when I can. Someday I will upgrade, but for now, it is good to me.
  7. My bed. Two words: Hotel bed.
  8. My solitude. The first half of the trip was spent with family. The second half at a conference of 16,000 people. Socializing was expected at both. I'm worn out and am glad that I have long stretches of time where I can be alone. - At least until next weekend when I attend my family reunion in Minnesota. 
  9. My church family. The Collective MKE church we are trying to launch has a core launch team of about 15 people. I didn't realize how much I enjoy sharing my life with this group until we missed a week. Introvert or not, friends - especially good friends who you know will have your back - are so important. I love them.
  10. My writing time. Believe it or not, my two hours on Saturday and time after work to write, edit, submit and promote my work was missed as well. Some of you might consider this a nightmare, but it's become part of the fabric of my life. If I don't do it, I feel like I'm slacking and lazy. In that respect, it's good to be back in the saddle again.
Blogging off...

My New York Family

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Little Salvation

I am on the tail-end of my ESRI Users Conference, a gathering of 16,000 Geographic Information Systems professionals in San Diego, California. It was a harried week of running from session to session, networking with other GIS types, talking to support people, vendors, and friends. For an introvert like myself it is positively exhausting and draining. At the same time, I realize it is the most valuable training I'll get every year. Tons of technical workshops, tips, tricks and access to software people make access to this conference so important to many of us in the fast changing field of geospatial technology.

So, as part of this blog, I was going to post all the pictures of my week's experience. But my heart has been in a state of discomfort since I arrived, so it seemed out of place - at least today, at this moment.

You see, everywhere you go in San Diego, the homeless are tucked away in alleys, parks, doorways and benches. I'm not sure if it's because the climate here is so temperate, that there's more of them, but they are everywhere. Walking to and from a conference of well dressed professionals, it eats at my soul to see people living like this. My work at the Guest House of Milwaukee has made my awareness even more heightened.

I also thought it was ironic how my hotel room overlooks the Salvation Army center. Every morning when I open my shade, there are 8-10 homeless people sitting on the curb outside waiting for their meal. As I write this right now, there are more like fifty gathered. I was joking with my friends how I didn't like this room - it's laid out badly, the shower is funky and there's no drawers for my clothes, bad room coffee, etc. I call it white collar whining.

Then when my whining is at its peak, I open the shade and am reminded of how fortunate I really am. It is humbling.

So this morning when I was getting ready to go get a breakfast sandwich, I came across 10 granola bars that were left over from my weeks's stash. (I use them during the day to keep me going during my running.) Usually I leave these for the cleaning folks to deal with. Today I put them in my pocket with the thought I'd give them out to people I ran into along the way.

As I sat in the park eating my egg sandwich, a homeless guy sat down next to me and started futzing with his cart - which held everything he owns. When I was done eating I gave him a handful of the bars. Caught by surprise, he looked at me astonished and said, "Thank you, sir. God Bless you, sir."

And I thought there's that phrase again, the one I hear time and again at the Guest House.

To make a long story longer, I gave the rest of them to a woman making her way toward the Salvation Army, and she too looked at me with the eyes of a friend. I was choked up the rest of the walk, and am as I write this now, frankly.

I'm not stupid enough to think that this will get me into heaven or earn me accolades. I should have done more and will never be able to do enough, But I think it does call all of us to look again at where we can help in our every day. I aim to continue doing little things like making sandwiches for GH, and serving the guys dinner once a month.

I encourage you to all look around at your day to day and look for "granola moments."

It may just lead to God blessing you.

Blogging off...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Goat Whisperer

I am writing this from the JFK airport in part because I've always wanted to say I'm a writer writing from an airport in New York City on my way to California. Truth is it's because I'm bored, and I have a two and a half hour layover and can't sleep.

I wanted to write about our friend's goat farm in Clifton Springs, New York. It was our second visit in a year to this farm and I always find it to be such a happy experience. Our friend Jody and Rob have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 goats ranging in size from a medium sized dog to some that stand four feet at the shoulder.

Jody is a fixture on Facebook with her silly goat pictures. She loves her goats like children and regularly dresses them up or "plays" with them in new and creative ways. I am jealous of her life. Being raised a city-boy, I was never around goats and farm animals, so it's always fun because I love animals.

I bonded with one of the bigger goats named, appropriately enough, Biggie. It seems Biggie likes getting his neck and ears scratched and took a liking to me. It was a weird animal/human connection for a bit. I felt kind of like the Goat Whisperer for a time. I now understand how Jody gets so attached to each of the goats (and the goat kids). They are simple, lovable, but smart, creatures.

Being around these animals for an hour led to some observations.

  • Goats will eat anything. While I was petting one, I had one nibbling on my shorts while another started chewing on my shoe laces. Pulling away was a temporary fix, as they were right back in a few minutes.
  • Goats are like kids. When they see an open door, they all run for it. "Hey, lookit that, the door's open. Everybody out!"
  • They have incredible balance for a hoofed animal.One was perched on a board no more than two inches wide.
  • There's a pecking order among them that's not unlike humans. Every once in a while a couple of them will rear up and head butt each other. Reminds me of some hard headed people I know.
  • They are a playful animal, if given the chance. They like to climb, explore and Jody even had a skateboard out that they could use. When I was crouched down, one put his hooves on my back. Jody said it was because he's used to getting piggy back rides from her. Who knew?
It was a great experience, one that brings your blood pressure down 10 points just by being there. I'm sure we'll get back again sometime, but until then, I'll miss their playful and sometimes annoying personalities. 

Blogging off...

Friday, July 17, 2015

Bucket Listed at 70

My usual Thursday and Sunday posts will be disrupted for the next few entries. I hope to get posts in when time permits, but the days may change and their content might be brief, so please bear with me and check back frequently. As always I will post them to Facebook and Twitter to notify people.

Yesterday we celebrated my mother in-law's 70th birthday. We had an absolutely PERFECT day weather wise from sunup to sundown. Temps in the low 70's, no humidity, clear skies and no wind. It was spectacular.

Donna, her brother and her dad spent the morning getting ready for guests. I took a walk with Mom and we had one of the best chats in a long time. I don't get one-on-one time with her that much, but when I do, I'm always amazed how well we connect. She has a wonderful attitude despite some health issues, and is fun to talk to face to face.

For her birthday, two of her best friends from high school come over for dinner. She didn't want a big party, so we limited it to them and her immediate family. The setup for the big surprise was done.

Ever since she was a young mother, Carol has wanted to ride in a semi truck. Who knows, she may have been a truckers wife if things had gone differently. So when our friends the Morris' pulled up in their fire-engine red semi truck, Mom's eyes about bugged out of her head. She was thrilled. We thought she might have some apprehension about taking a ride, but she couldn't get in that cab fast enough. She even said she might not come back!

The truck pulled away with Carol waving out the passenger window and with a blast of the air horn she was fulfilling an item on her bucket list. When she got back, the driver said that she was jabbering with enthusiasm like a school girl the whole time. She loved it. It was a good call by Donna and her siblings to give her as a gift.

The rest of the evening was spent enjoying dinner and drinks with her kids, her son in-laws and her grandchildren.

Like the weather, the whole birthday celebration was PERFECT. And much like my mother getting a meaningful tattoo on her 80th birthday, it reminds me that EVERYONE should have a bucket list or a list of life goals at the ready. It makes for a richer life as Carol showed us all yesterday. One of mine is to skydive someday.

Maybe at age 60.

Blogging off...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Deadbolts vs. The Incredible Hulk

You've heard me say it a few times before. I'm not handy. To some people, a hammer and drill in their hand is perfection. It gives them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Those same things give me a sense of dread, and defeat. And while I continue to admit my non-handiness, I always seem to finish my projects and, ultimately, there is a small sense of accomplishment that comes along with each.

My latest project involved putting two deadbolts into an upstairs door that leads out to a flat roof over our kitchen. Our insurance company said either bar the door with deadbolts or put up a very expensive railing. Dead bolts it is. What followed was a total of about four hours of sweat, sawdust and colorful language. It was not my finest hour...or four hours, actually. Here's how it went.

I brought up my tool tray and drill from the basement. I figured that would about cover it. I opened the directions and set to work. After deliberating over whether my latch was a 60mm or 70mm deal, I moved on to the first step, which had me marking the drill holes with a provided template. Once those were marked, I was ready to drill.

Oops, I'll need an extension cord. Back down the basement to get one.

I plug in the drill and realize that my drill bits are in the basement. Back down I go.

After a short hunt for the drill chuck key thingy in my poorly organized tool tray, I put in the 1/8 inch bit and drill my pilot holes.

The instructions then call for drilling a 2 1/8 inch hole in my door. This requires a hole saw. Guess where that is? Yep, in the basement.

The instructions tell me to drill 1/2 way through the door and then come at it from the other side. In a perfect world, the two holes would intersect and the wooden piece would pop out. Unfortunately I live in a fallen world - at least from a home improvement standpoint - and my hole takes a bit of what I like to refer to as Carpenteric-Improvisation. This means wiggling the hole saw while it drills until eventually the two pieces pop out. It was almost perfect. Luckily the inside of this hole is a place no one will ever see. I suspect there's a fair amount of this kind of thing behind the walls of every home.

Once that hole is drilled I'm told to mark the faceplate location for the deadbolt by pushing a 2" nail through the pilot hole I'd drilled earlier.

Where are my nails? Oh yeah, in the basement. This time on the way back through, I grabbed a beer. Donna knew this was a bad sign and warned me "Beer and power tools don't mix." This warning fell on deaf ears because well, I needed an attitude adjustment. If you want the project done, you'll grant me this beer and however many more it might take. (It only took one).

When that is done, I'm told to chisel out a spot for the faceplate. With regards to this tool called a chisel, I have a bone to pick with toolmakers and lock manufacturers alike in the twenty first century.

Why, when we can Skype with someone in the remote regions of Polynesia are we relegated to using a hand tool as crude as a chisel to put a lock in a door? This thing is right out of the bronze age for crying out loud.

Needless to say, this is where the colorful language started to surface. As I elocuted my litany of what I shall call "creative release" I was reduced to a stone tool making Cro-Magnon man condition, chipping away with hammer and chisel at my door and door frame. Of course I wasn't wearing safety goggles. At this point safety was NOT first and you need to get over that. Chiseling the heck out of my door was first. During the process there was the occasional inadvertent badly splintered piece that shall remain unseen by most and and even a finger whack or two.

As I pounded and chipped and chiseled and pounded and crafted and chipped, and honed, I thought about Michelangelo and his statue of David. He was clearly a demented sadist. Of course marble was more pliable than the wood in my nearly 100 year old house, so there's that.

At times during my pounding and chiseling and drilling I was overcome with a rage so intense that I wanted to hurl my drill/hammer/chisel. It was not a healthy state. Standing amidst the sawdust and tools sprinkled about like someone shook my tool tray upside down, in full rage, I thought who is this man? I'm usually so even keel. What happened to nice, quiet Jim?

And so instead of hurling tools, I hurled language. There is a reason no one was allowed to "help" me with this project. I was channelling my inner Incredible Hulk and no one needed to see that.

When the holes were all drilled and the chiseling had all been chiseled, it was time to assemble the hardware. Understand that there are 3 screws that need to be aligned to successfully pull one side of the lock to the other. These 3 screws require a superpower that has not been discovered yet. I futzed and finagled and farted around with these things for half an hour. When I finally thought I had it together, I turned the key and the stupid deadbolt did not move.

More rage.

Unscrew, try to re-align. Give up, call daughter Sarah for help. Watch her frustration grow for ten minutes before we finally get it together.

It occurred to me that sometimes these jobs require a woman's touch.

Or maybe a change in perspective.

Or maybe just someone less ragey.

In any case when the deadbolt slid into the hole I fist bumped Sarah and thought I was almost there. This of course was a short lived joy. When I mounted the faceplate on the door, with two screws, the deadbolt no longer slid into the hole. With a couple more adjustments and a couple swigs of beer and a couple of creative releases, it was just like you see on HGTV.

And then, this entire process was repeated today when I did the second one. Trust me when I say it was equally as joyous. It also involved an encounter with a stubborn nail that almost did me in. I'm telling you man, I almost needed therapy by the end of it. I'm convinced this is why God invented beer.

Like all of my projects, this was a great reminder of why I will never "enjoy" working with my hands. I have the soft hands of a writer. I am a great typist. I can write 1000 words with the best of them. And when the day is done, I can do home improvement projects and finish them and make them look decent.

But that doesn't mean I have to like them.

For more of my not handy handiness, visit this old blog post.

Blogging off...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fishing for Metaphors

I feel I have to tell you about my latest fishing outings. Everyone knows I love to fish. But almost as well known is the fact that I love to teach others to fish. I get a charge out of seeing their excitement as they pull in that first or forty fourth fish. Part of my aim is to see that they develop a lifelong passion for the sport and hopefully pass it on to someone else along the way.

A beauty!

The first incident was when we were in the BWCA. My niece Alison, who loves to fish, had great success the first afternoon we were up there. She caught three walleye and a rock bass. The best fish came the next day when she landed her personal best, a 28" northern. When she pulled it in, my kids laughed as I went scrambling down a rock wall to see that it didn't get away. During the hook extraction I managed to cut myself a good one on the fish so was bleeding a bit too. It was chaotic fun, in the name of a big fish. But to me, I wanted to make sure she got a picture with it. It was a great moment. Like her dad, Alison loves to fish and is becoming quite accomplished at it. Over the weekend, each of the teens that were in our party also caught a northern. It was great to see everyone having success and working hard at it.

There is nothing like seeing little kids get excited about fishing. I had the pleasure of teaching a couple of my friends' kids how to fish at the cabin in Mercer last year. Cohen had such a good time that I made a point to buy him a fishing rod for his birthday. That came with a retainer that I needed to take him fishing again. So, a couple of weeks ago, my daughter Sarah and I took him and his sister Tegan to a nearby pond for a day of fishing. It was really fun until we started hooking into the Bullheads.
BULLHEAD! Runaway!

Now, if you know me, I've caught some pretty big fish in my day. I'll be honest that my heart sank when I saw them pull in a bullhead. They're like the spiders of the fish family for me. I hear they have "stingers" behind their gills or some such thing. So, my usual technique is to just cut the line on these fish. (They are "rough fish" which are technically a nuisance and should not be put back.).

I changed my technique a bit as I grabbed the pliers. Then pinched the hook between the pliers and shook it like mad until the fish flew off the hook and back into the water. I'm sure my fishing buddies would laugh at the site, but hey, they don't have to know now, do they? Anyhow it was good fun fishing with the kids!

Then, last weekend I went out with a friend who recently got a kayak. He's wanted to get better at fishing for quite a while, so I was happy to give him some hints. We went to my favorite lake because he wanted to learn where the hot spots were and try things out. He had some success and enjoyed the nice weather we were fortunate to have that day. The fact that he has invested in a kayak means he's serious. It gives me someone to go out fishing with and that's always a good thing.

With all the digital distractions in the world today, I think it's so important to try and get kids outside and into the great outdoors. They are forced to make their own fun and usually, without even intending, they develop a love for fishing, camping and canoeing. My brother has a tagline on his email that reads, "Take a kid fishing today." 

To me, that's good advice.

Blogging off...

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Summer Skin

We've had a few days of eighty-plus degree weather this past weekend and it would appear that Summer is upon us for good this time. I once called summer my favorite season, but have come to appreciate all of them - with the exception of winter which, I'll be honest, I still kinda hate. Because of all the fun Summer brings, including vacations and a few national holidays sprinkled in, it's right up there with the beauty of Fall and the promise of Spring. Here's a bit of what summer held for me as a kid in the seventies as well as today.

70's: With Mom at work all day us kids were left to fend for ourselves and make our own summer fun. One of my favorite things was to leave notes for her at night to leave us a quarter or fifty cents that we could use to buy candy like Jolly Joes, Now and Laters, Pixie Stix and Dots. Or maybe a package of football cards or Wacky Packages.

2015: Summer is a time for shorts and sandals. As a Midwesterner, I get so tired of layers of clothing that at the first sign of spring, I switch into shorts. I tend to spend at least May - August in shorts and a T-Shirt. Don't judge, it's one of my simple pleasures. The jeans and sweatshirts can wait.

70's: Pickup games of baseball at St. Lukes's playground were a popular pastime for the neighborhood kids and us. I can remember using the bats we got from the Minnesota Twins Bat Day giveaway and sharing gloves because not every kid had one or, more likely, couldn't find the one they did have. The rules changed according to how many players each team had. More often than not there was a "supply your own pitcher" rule or a "any hits to right field are an automatic out." Other rule modifications included four foul balls and you're out, and no stealing or leading off. Come to think of it, most games were more about what you could not do, than what you could do.

2015: Because our house does not have central air conditioning there is a whole process on hot days of closing up in mid-morning and opening up again in early evening. Our house stays pretty cool and usually we only have to run the window air conditioner units a couple of weeks a year.

70's: Every once in a great while, Mom would pile all of us into a car for a Drive In movie. We'd dress in our pajamas and take blankets to put on the roof of the car. (The bugs usually took care of that novel idea shortly after dusk.) My sister and her boyfriend once took us to see Sounder which was about the saddest movie I'd ever seen.

2015: Grill outs with friends and family seem to happen almost weekly in the summer months. Brats and hot dogs, countless chips and cookies, jello salads and of course lots of watermelon. These affairs ALWAYS require at least a second trip back through the line to make sure you get a little of everything. Oh, and the rule for soda is that every kid must take at least three cans and never drink more than one quarter of each. Leave the rest for the ants and bees.

70's: Hot Saturdays and Sundays sometimes meant my stepfather would bring us and some of our stepbrothers and sisters to the beach for the day. We went to Bayport beach near Hudson or Lake Owasso out near Shoreview. Not being much of a swimmer, I usually brought my fishing rod, a Frisbee and football. Some of the best memories of my childhood come from these outings. Listening to Three Dog Night singing "Ride Captain Ride" while playing pinball and eating a frozen Charleston Chew at the beach house was about as good as a kid could get back then.

2015: Thinking back to some of the great family vacations we took with the kids in the past 15 years or so brings a smile to my face. In addition to our annual trip to the cabin in Mercer, Wisconsin, we've been to South Dakota, Pennsylvania (Poconos, Philadelphia, NYC), Disney World, and Colorado. Priceless times for our kids and their cousins. Great memories for the adults as well.

70's: Once a year Mom and Jack took us and a few of our stepsiblings camping to a state park for 4 or 5 days. Lots of fun swimming, playing cards and poking around with the fire. I have to hand it to them for taking 6-7 kids anywhere for four days. I think there may have been some Fleischmanns brandy in a plastic jug with a built in pourer to serve as a sedative for the two of them over the course of the week. Looking back, I can't say I blame them for that.

2015: Summer's now are made up of kids sleeping until noon while mom and dad head to work. There are kayak fishing trips, summer naps, outdoor music festivals, and of course trips up to St. Paul and New York to visit family. All of these things and the things of so long ago still make it the best season of the year.

Blogging off...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Conference Circus

I went down to Chicago yesterday for the Amazon Web Services Summit. This is a fairly large conference (approx. 5500 attendees). For those that don't know, Amazon offers cloud servers and storage space for any public or private organization for pennies on the dollar compared to what you might pay your own IT shop. They're the 500 pound gorilla of computing technology right now and getting bigger everyday.

I'll try not to bore you with all the geeky cool stuff I saw because, frankly it's a yawner for most people. I took the train down and between it and the conference, I came away with some interesting thoughts on the day. I'll sum them up here.

  1. If you've been to one tech conference, you've kind of been to them all. Lots of geeky looking people, many lugging laptops, tablets, phones and coffee while fast walking between sessions. Statistically I would put them at 70% male with a median age around 36.
  2. The train is my favorite way to travel for a number of reasons. First, you can sleep if you want. Or you can read if you want. Or listen to music. Or play mindless games on your tablet. If you're lucky enough to travel alone, it's like an hour and a half vacation. 
  3. The phrase of the day yesterday was "an all-in approach," as in "Netflix took an all-in approach to using Amazon Web Services." Heard it about four times. Does anyone ever take a "halfway-in" approach? Are there other percentage approaches? 
  4. I managed to pilfer a free T-Shirt from a vendor table without getting my badge scanned, which is always a bonus. (It saves you from having to answer their follow up sales pitch cold-call a week later. Never mind that these shirts are typically pretty ugly - nothing I'd much wear in public - but I lift and pilfer when I can. Why? No friggin' clue. Because I can't turn down anything free. Lord knows I have 300 other T-Shirts, why do I need one filled with tech-logos? It's a disorder and I'm not sure how to treat it. (Nor is my wife.)
  5. Similar to number four above, I do the same thing for trinkets, gadgets and vendor junk that sits out alluringly to pull in suckers like me. A flashlight that will break on the plane home? I NEED that! A stress ball globe that flattens into a mouse pad?  Sure, I MUST have that! A Swiss Army knife made in Thailand (Isn't that a Thai Army Knife?) well, now there's something that might actually get used in my fishing tackle box.
  6. Why am I subjected to watching a looping terrorist video in the train station telling me to call the cops if I see anything suspicious? Trust me if I see a backpack with alarm clocks strapped to it and fuse coming out, I'm calling the cops. No need to hire bad actors to act this out for me. The shady guy in the trench coat carrying the guitar case? Well, that's normal. Those guys are everywhere. LOL.
  7. How does blaring music in the conference atrium help make the conference better? I'm puzzled. Was that an extra charge? Save it and put more coffee out at the break please.
  8. Speaking of conferences, why is it that I can drink coffee all day at these things? I normally have a cup a day. Well, it's probably that "free" thing again.
  9. I'm a sucker for overtipping cabbies. For a $10 fair yesterday, I tipped $5.00 both times. They were both super appreciative. I figure if nothing else, I made someone else's day. That and I feel like a skinflint saying can I get two dollars back?
  10. These tech conferences are all about the jargon and acronyms. I came away from the conference yesterday with this mission:
I noodled the information, then leveraged it, then repurposed the big data, sent it to the cloud using an enterprise authentication store, and am now part of an "all-in approach" to an elastic cloud computing solution (EC2) for application development, deployment, with low latency, high availability, using a pay-as-you-go, high uptime virtual server in a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and gathering statistics using CloudWatch and CloudTrail while looking at new technologies like Signal To Noise (S2N) and Elastic Block Storage (EBS, not IBS which is actually Itchy Butt Syndrome) to insure that we meet the Burstable demands provided by the Transfer Layer Security.

It makes your head spin a bit. But, at least I had a train ride to digest it all.

Blogging off...