Saturday, September 15, 2018

Work on Work

Work is going great! I'm a software architect for LexisNexis now, and it's a really cool company and I've gotten a really cool position there. And, what's even more surprising, they seem to really like me. In fact:

My award came with a stuffed animal


Along with about 4 other members of my team, I got an award called "Leader of the Pack". The office is on campus at NC State so a lot of our office stuff is wolfpack themed. I'm the tech lead for the Migration Tools team, so I tell around 20 people how to move a bunch of data around. It's a big team. They are all java developers too, so after 20 years of writing Microsoft code I'm totally in a foreign land here.

They also give us 2 days each year for volunteer activities. My favorite is volunteering for Habitat for Humanity building houses. If I'm lucky, I get on a framing crew. This time, we were sheeting a roof. I'm very much into construction (if you couldn't tell by my woodworking blog) so getting to do this with a crew of my engineers is really fun for me.


so much fun with this crew
The only downside was that it was 102* outside (closer to 120* on top of that roof) and there was no shade in sight. I sweat through my clothes so fast and could not stay hydrated. Mostly I was just grateful that work lets out of of the office to go do such valuable work. It's a real company value at LN.

They also have tuition reimbursement, and I'm taking advantage of that to start taking some MBA classes at UNC-Wilmington. My first class is called Management, but it's really about organizational behavior. I'm doing ok in there too, and it's pretty interesting. Grades are good, but I've only had quizzes so far. It's 11 classes at 7 weeks each, and so far I'm counting 3 weeks done, 74 to go. Not going to finish until 2020, and as long as I stay with the company for a year after they they will end up paying for most of it. My first day of school picture:

It's all online. Laptops are the new backpacks


Again, normally I'm all like






But this company is seriously cool.

Other pictures of the family just so we all know they really exist:

Ella and my niece on a recent visit with my parents

The kids standing in a masonry project I built in the backyard

Evil Genius took a picture of a picture of herself

Kelley hanging out on the finished masonry project
So we're all good. Work and school are ok, hurricane Florence is barreling down but mostly went south of us so we're all good in Raleigh with this thing. Just a little rain and some wind, nothing strong. Kids are tracked out, football season is back in swing, and summer is almost over.

Monday, August 20, 2018

What else is going on

Since the surgery, I had to take plenty of time for recovery. It wasn't easy for me to not do anything; I don't deal well with idle hands. No training and don't lift anything heavier than 10 lbs really meant I was making a lot of dick jokes.

We had already planned on hosting a party for the 4th of July. The city of Raleigh moved the fireworks back to the State Fairgrounds this year, which is practically in our backyard. So we have a bunch of friends over, fill up one of my boats with beer and let what happens happen.

I hung an extra string of lights before the surgery

The little boat has kids drinks

That's proper

Good times with EG at the party
Only strange thing about the party was that it rained on us twice. After the first time, Kelley said if it rained again we were done with 4th of July parties. It rained again, so I guess this will be the last one. It was a blast, we had about 20 people over including a bunch of kids.

After that I had a birthday. 43 doesn't suck that much worse than 42 did, so far. I got a "rad dad" shirt

And the kids went back to school! When I started the blog right around 10 years ago, they were barely walking. Now they are starting 6th and 8th grade, and the last year we'll have to drive them both to the same school.

my middle schoolers
Next, I got a new tattoo! This one hurt like you wouldn't believe. Almost my most painful tattoo. I wanted it to look like something was buried under my cherry tree. I've had this "skull and rose on the ribs" idea for a long time, so I felt comfortable getting it done now so that I could let it heal while recovering from the surgery instead of running all the time or something.  It turned out really good, I think. The artist was slick and had a tender touch.


in the shop


My mom came for a quick visit while there was a quilting convention in town. This was her second trip to Raleigh this year, and we're always appreciative of the time we have together

Mom loved the patio

Kelley and I have really enjoyed it this summer

The kids have a great sense of humor with these things

Okra, beans, squash and zucchini!

The okra is taller than Kelley!
Finally the garden is really kicking this year. We've been getting more okra, squash, and zucchini than we can handle. Considering most years we don't get much of anything out of the garden this is really fun.

We've been having a great summer!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Surgery

Well, just 11 days after the marathon in Colorado I went in for surgery to repair an umbilical hernia. That's a hole in the abdominal wall right at the top of the belly button. When I gained all of this weight, some fat poked through the hole and gave me a half inny-half outy belly button that was just weird. Kelley and the kids made fun of me enough to make me want to get it fixed. This problem will not fix itself, surgery is the only option, and if a piece of stomach or guts squeeze through the hole it can be painful and sometimes fatal, if irritation around the hole causes internal bleeding. Better to get it fixed now.

You have to wake up really early for surgery. So nothing to eat or drink after midnight, and I had the alarm set for 4:45 to get to the hospital on time. Funny thing happened, though. Around 3 am, the phone starts ringing and something is shining into our bedroom window? I walked out to the living room in my skivvies to find a cop on my deck! After turning off the alarm he asked if we owned a pickup truck. I said we did, that green Ford parked in the front yard. He then told us it wasn't in the front yard anymore! Someone stole our truck, went on a joyride through Cary. Turns out a friend of his stole a suburban, and they were racing down Maynard ave when a Cary Police officer found them and pursued the high speed chase!! This is insane!

Eventually the truck was found in some apartment complex parking lot where the thief escaped on foot. The thief even set the parking brake! So strange. The truck was not damaged. But the cops did have to toss it for fingerprints, as well as they checked my car for fingerprints. So far the thief has not been caught. The hardest part of that whole affair was dealing with the cops and driving to Cary to pickup the truck without being able to have any coffee or breakfast! We got back home and the cops left at 4:35, just 10 minutes before the alarm was supposed to go off.

Ready to sleep or get breakfast

the "before" belly button

Kelley thought this picture was disturbed. What is that giant pink orb back there?


Still mean mugging with my duel IV's in the back of my hands
The surgery itself went fine. I talked to the doctor, the nurse had never heard a stolen car story the morning of surgery before, we had a few laughs. Eventually they wheeled me back to the OR and I heard "here comes the good stuff" and the next thing I knew it was 11:30 and I was back in recovery.

The surgery was a laparoscopic robotic procedure. The doctor actually sat off in a corner playing a video game that controlled the robot. It went in through my side, stitched up the hole, added a mesh in the middle of the layers of the abdominal wall, then sewed in the mesh. Really cool and it was all over in about 2 hours.

now flat?

got some cool new scars

The "after" belly button
Recovery is the hardest part. We scheduled the surgery for after the marathon because I can't do any kind of training or lift anything over 10 lbs for 4-6 weeks after the surgery. I don't do well with idle hands, so this was really hard for me. 3 weeks after the surgery I had a follow up and the doc cleared me to resume normal activities, but still take it easy for another week or two.

This surgery was the last prerequisite in the transition I'm trying to make to revitalize my overall health. Now it's time to get to work!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Estes Park Marathon CO

The purpose of my recent trip to Colorado was the Estes Park Marathon. This was marathon #26 and CO is state #13 on my 50 state list. It was amazing! This is noted as one of the most scenic marathons in America, and I can totally believe that. The course was beautiful, the elevation was challenging, and the support was fantastic.

The high school for the packet pickup

Can you imagine going to school with that view?
Packet pickup was a breeze. Got to make some new friends, and that high school is the parking lot and finish line for the marathon the next day. The views from that high school were amazing. It would be so distracting if I was a student there.

Then I got the most not fun part of the entire trip. Small towns in resort areas aren't known for their early morning food sources. After packet pickup I discovered that the hotel had no breakfast option at all, and the only restaurant didn't open until 5 am. The last shuttle to the start line left at 5:15. Do I risk it? hell no. So my only option was to walk (in the rain, while drunk) to the McDonalds in downtown and get some biscuits. Ok I kind of wanted an evening snack anyway, but McDonalds is never an acceptable food choice. It's a decent coffee place, sure. But they just don't serve actual food. I bought 3 biscuits, ate one that night and two the next morning. They sat in my stomach like bricks until about mile 10. ugh.

I've never been this high before
The starting line was at the Dao House at 9200 feet elevation. This resort was amazing. I would love to come back and stay there for a weekend, or have a meditative retreat with friends or family. I even got to meet Wu Dang Chen, the daoist priest who owns the facility. I have never been at this high of an elevation before, and I have to admit I got a little dizzy just standing around the lobby! Not a good sign. At least they had coffee.

At 6:30 am they started the full marathon. The first 6.7 miles of the course were downhill. Except for a slight incline half a mile in. I have to admit, I had to walk that incline. I couldn't make it half a mile running at that altitude. INSANE!

Chilling at the start

It's a small race!

The incline half a mile in

that was an incredible sunrise
My arms "shunted" before I hit the first aide station in mile 2. That's only happened once before, and it is quite unpleasant! The aide stations, however, were all quite decked out. Plenty of gels, super friendly volunteers, everything was well stocked.

That sunrise was incredible






I saw a bald eagle flying over this lake during the 2nd half

Hit the halfway point at 2:25

Storm is starting to roll in


Another runner offered to take a picture for me


Hit mile 20 at the 4 hour mark
Going into this race, I wanted to be done by 11 am. That's when it was supposed to start raining. I hit the 20 mile marker at 10 am, leaving me one hour for the last 10k. Guess what? It did start raining at 11 am, and I did not make it. No pictures for the last 10k because I was one hurting honey. This was beautiful, but the storm was rolling in and I was ready to roll on down to the finish line. Right when I hit the Mile 24 marker the bottom really fell out. I finished in pouring rain with a lap around the track at the high school.

Still feeling good

Finished in the pouring rain

Still fuzzy in the car
Overall this marathon was incredible. Very scenic, the aide stations were impressive, the volunteers were all great. This is a small race, which I prefer. I finished in 5:20:36, my slowest marathon ever. 79/115 overall, 49/66 men, and 16/18 M40-49 puts me solidly in the back of the pack. I knew running at altitude was going to be a challenge, but what I got was so much more than that. This was an incredible way to knock Colorado off of my 50 state list.