17. May 2014 · Comments Off on Enjoying a Sam Adams Summer Ale in (where else?), Boston! · Categories: Boston, vacation

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07. September 2013 · Comments Off on Inevitable change · Categories: change, family, summer, vacation

I took the week off from work for the first vacation for the year. It was not a relaxing break but was a break from work. Without going into too many details, I did too much outside work, had rainy weather, and spent too much time alone and too much time feeling stressed for this to be considered a relaxing week.

Monday was the day to take my baby girl back to college. She had a rough first year, mostly roommate related. This year, she is in a new dorm with 3 other gals that had similarly difficult roommate issues last year. They are each determined to make this a better year. After less than a week after being at school, she and several of those gals took a road trip to see country star Luke Bryan. Given that she saw him over the summer in Hartford, she was in heaven seeing him again. I am so happy to see her in a much better place this year.

Last Thursday, I went shooting with my 21 year old son. He owns a couple of rifles now and I own one rifle that I’ve had since I was a kid. I inherited mine from my grandfather and have used it in the past to kill two deer as I was growing up in Pennsylvania. The shooting was both fun and entertaining. We had no hope of actually seeing the target from 50 yards away but had fun shooting nonetheless. The ammo was purchased by my son and I paid the range fees. All in all, it was a fun couple of hours together.

The big project that I started this week was the repair of our side yard that had stones covering the slope from the back yard to the front that the previous homeowner created. The stones were needed as the pine trees that were between us and the neighbor down the hill prevented most grass from growing on the hill. We removed the pine trees a few years ago and the soil has returned to a pleasant, grass-growing state. So the landscape cloth that the previous owner has laid down was now covered with dirt from the front yard (thanks to heavy rains) and grass that had both started in and now thrived in that same dirt. As I shoveled the stones into a wheelbarrow, I moved the stones that were on the side, many under the ivy bushes. While I was there, I pulled a few random branches while shoveling. Bad mistake. Poison ivy covered most of the ivy so my arm are now covered with what is left from that poison ivy, a week later. It has been a miserable experience that I don’t want to do anymore! To top things off, I had my first colonoscopy on Friday. Fasting for 48 hours and taking the meds to prep were among the least fun experiences of the year to put it mildly.

While there’s a bit more going on at home, I’m not quite ready to reveal that yet since it’s still pretty much just starting to be juggled and is very much up in the air. Let’s just say that one life coach and one therapist will push a few things into changing. It’s been a rough 5 years with no friends outside of work and two very demanding jobs – things are certainly ripe for change. Also, when you no longer need to have your kids in a specific town or high school, options open up. When one of you is in a job you hate and get beat down every day, things have to change. We’ve been together 27 years, married for over 26, but things change. Hopefully, whatever changes come will include both of us.

More to come…

This morning, my wife and daughter took off for Florida on the first stop to their Caribbean cruise. They flew from Bradley to Tampa, then Tampa to Fort Lauderdale where they are spending the night. Tomorrow, they make their way to the ship and spend a week floating around the warm waters of the Caribbean.
Neither of them have ever been on a cruise, and neither have ever been to the Caribbean. Sue was a bit nervous before leaving, but I’m sure that she will be fine once on board. This is Kaite’s graduation present from her grandmother, and intended to be a once in a lifetime trip with her mom.
I cannot wait to hear the stories and see the pictures!

The past few weeks at work have been absolutely nuts. Our team moved under a different manager during the summer, including a different VP over our team. This changes our direction somewhat, but we’re mostly doing the same thing we have been doing. The biggest exception to this is what I am specifically doing. We have three members of our team, but each brings a different level of experience to the team. I am, by far, the most seasoned info security professional on the team. I am a bit younger than my closest teammate in age, but she has spent a considerable amount of time in a related but somewhat more focused role. The youngest member of the team has moved around a bit and has, again, been less focused on our primary goal of information security for his entire career.

My focus on information security started when the industry was really in it’s infancy. Part happenstance, part luck, I ended up where I am through many hours and lots of persistence. So, I have a new role. The migration of our team into the new VP somewhat lined up with other changes happening in the Enterprise Architecture Services group. People would be aligned with specific domains – information, technology and applications to name a few. My specialty continues to be a strong background in data security, so I am now the domain advocate for the security domain that crosses all of the other domains. This is either a blessing or a curse. A blessing because it provides more corporate focus on information security, a curse because as of today, I am the only one in this domain. The fact that I still have responsibility for all of my existing projects, each requiring a great deal of attention, is my biggest challenge.

As this year winds down, I have an increased workload and decreased ability to “opt out” of projects. At the same time, I have increased visibility with the senior management of the company. If executed well, this could be an excellent career move. If I stumble and don’t ask for help and training and patience, I can easily be the driver of my own failure. The choice is easy – ask for help, pawn off existing projects, and create some time to focus on the new opportunity and doing the right thing for the company. I’m sure that I can work this out and succeed if I handle this right. Now, about that vacation I had to take before year’s end… that might just have to wait.

Last night, we went on a three hour sunset kayak trip in the water near our rental home. We went with Castine Kayak Adventures to see the bioluminescent dinoflagellates that live among the seaweed in the shallow waters. After an introduction of each person (including their favorite 80’s song), we got a very brief lesson in paddling. We were then outfitted with our kayaks – three doubles and three single watercraft. The nine of us, plus two guides, took off as the tide was coming up quickly. We stayed close to shore, in fairly shallow water. The near full moon was obscured by clouds, providing for a very dark night and excellent viewing.

As the sky darkened, the lights started to twinkle as our paddles moved the water. As the darkness progressed, our paddles stirred up more and more light. Not knowing what to expect, we were all fascinated by the lights coming out of the water. Once the dark was fully upon us, we noticed the glow coming off from most of the kayak bows. The light was in streams on either side, plus the paddles were stirring up a full arc of light with each stroke. The guides said that this was the strongest they had seen the bioluminescence this year (if not ever).

This has to rank in the top 10 coolest things we’ve ever done on vacation, and one I would recommend for anyone even slightly comfortable in a kayak.

We are finally on vacation in Maine. Last summer, we spent a week only about 12 miles from where we did last year. Those 12 miles are by boat – about 45 miles by car. We are on the opposite side of the bay, significantly closer to Acadia National Park. The town of Castine is a sleepy little town. The house we are renting was built in 1803 and occupied by the British from 1814 to 1815. The owner’s great, great Grandfather built the house, so it has been in the family for over 200 years, although currently on the market for sale. I took a look in the basement and the original support beams are clearly visible – logs that were hand trimmed and notched to provide the support. Several of the logs still have some bark attached. When you look at the structure, you know it was a slow process, and carefully pieced together by hand.

This year’s vacation is with friends from Richmond, VA. We’re so glad to be able to reconnect with this family after 3+ years of not being with them multiple times per week, all year round. Heather is my daughter’s second mother and my “church wife.” She remains my non-family emergency contact since there is no one else I’d rather have contacted in an emergency. Dave and I became much closer in the final few years we were in Richmond – one of the most level headed guys in the group of friends. He can laugh with the best of them, loves music even more than me, and provides a very safe haven for his family and close friends.

Sue and I are both hoping to relax, reboot, and reconnect with friends in this week. We have both been strung tight, and are in need of a solid week of downtime before hitting the fall hard once again.

Breakfast, Intercontinental style. I don’t get to eat salmon often, so take Not at every opportunity. We’re staying at the Intercontinental in downtown Miami now, and this is the standard breakfast faire for the club level rooms. Sue is working her tail off, but finishes up at 7:00 tonight. Since we don’t leave until Monday afternoon, we’ll have Sunday and Monday mornings to indulge together.

I have been the “official photographer” for the conference and have daily assignments for photo opportunities. Today is the biggest one as the board turns over, including the current president. Most of the attendees are MDs, but lots of techs as well. Almost everyone is very nice and I have not been introduced to anyone who expects to be call DR or Mr. For being most of the world leading bone density and osteoporosis researchers, they are very down to earth in this environment.

Now, it’s time to dress up so I do my final photo assignment before an actual full day of vacation. Tomorrow, South Beach!

It’s two days after Christmas, and the family is all in Georgia visiting my mother in law. We’re in Northwest Georgia, basically we are about 10 miles south of the Tennessee border. We arrived via an 18-hour drive from New England. I believe that this is the single longest drive I’ve ever taken in a single, non-stop trip. Certainly, I have driven further over a multiple-day drive, but 18 hours in one day is very draining. The worse part was that I slept for only a few hours the night before leaving, then almost none in the car. I don’t sleep well (or at all) in cars or on planes. You’d think that I could find a way to get comfortable, but it doesn’t happen. So, we arrived exhausted, ready to collapse. We did, and after a solid night’s sleep, were refreshed and ready to start visiting.

It’s been cold here, as should be expected in late December in the mountains of Georgia — no snow, just a heavy frost on the car windows each morning. Sue got to see all three of her brothers this weekend, including David who lives in Florida and whom she hasn’t seen in many years. Late yesterday, my nephew showed up with his kids – peers of my own kids. They were instantly having fun. Today, after most got a good night’s sleep, they should have the opportunity to burn off some much needed energy. They haven’t see this family in several years, although the eldest (Alex) and my daughter have started chatting quite a bit via Facebook. It was an instant bond when they saw each other – and the hug was quite genuine!

We had quite a meal last night – 9 adults (ranging from 45 to 87) and 6 children, ranging from (3) 17-year olds to 12. I was glad to neither be the eldest nor the youngest! I had never eaten beef wellington before – it was very well prepared, but didn’t end up sitting with me well. I think the combination of very heavy foods and lack of salad-like substances, that my body is rejecting my holiday-eating patterns. We have eaten very well over the past year, so changing that pattern for more than a few meals in a row evoke havoc!

So far, the vacation has been a good bit of work, but all worth while getting in some visiting that has been long overdue, and never knowing when it will be the last time, is being embraced. At least my dog is getting spoiled with all of the attention!

So, I haven’t posted in a long while. I have been blogging on my running blog (http://neversitstill.com), but that is mostly about the running I have done in the past year. As a very high level review, I completed two half marathons. They were completed within 5 weeks of each other, and all of the training was by myself on the back roads of northern Connecticut – plus a couple of runs at the gym at work.Speaking of work – it’s been a difficult year, but the year is almost done with a single day of work standing between me and the new year. I am taking the longest break from work I have ever taken, but feel that it is both deserved and very much needed. I’ll mostly be offline for the duration, although will be trying to keep up my blogs and email while offline. Work, however, will not be touched for the entire break other than during one of the trips and only to break up the drive (and of course, when I am NOT driving!).

One other event that happened this year was that I lost 25 lbs between August and October. While the majority of that was due to cranking up my distance, but also watching what I was eating thanks to my wife following the biggest loser quick start diet for dinners. There were a number of really delicious meals, so it has expanded our array of meal choices while reducing our waistlines!

Some of our best friends from Virginia visited recently. We spent two days relaxing, talking, and just getting back in touch. Then, last Saturday, both of our families headed to Pennsylvania. The three families are all great friends, and that really came through as soon as we got a chance to relax. I have a great deal of respect for Bill, for multiple reasons I won’t go into here. We always have a great time together – totally laid back with lots of laughs.

Debbie is just amazing. She came up with games, variations that we have played previously but always with twists that were only Debbie created. Take a ton of adults, most drinking, and the games are always a great deal of fun. For example, the first game started with two teams (partners were always on opposite teams), and each person had to pass the string with clothes articles attached through their clothes. It was interesting, and a great ice breaker for those of us from out of town.

The trip was relaxing, fun, full of friends, and very hard to end. Monday when the Ps headed back to VA and we headed back to CT, and the T’s headed to an appointment in Phila., it was the hardest goodbye we have said in a long time.