greg hughes - dot net - Personal Stories http://www.greghughes.net/rant/ Note that the contents of this site represent my own thoughts and opinions, not those of anyone else - like my employer - or even my dog for that matter. Besides, the dog would post things that make sense. I don't. http://www.greghughes.net/images/gregheadshot1.png greg hughes - dot net - Personal Stories http://www.greghughes.net/rant/ en-us Greg Hughes Fri, 26 Oct 2012 20:46:34 GMT newtelligence dasBlog 2.1.8015.804 greg@greghughes.net greg@greghughes.net http://www.greghughes.net/rant/Trackback.aspx?guid=bec31120-0c1c-4bdc-9723-28c158d45890 http://www.greghughes.net/rant/pingback.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,bec31120-0c1c-4bdc-9723-28c158d45890.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,bec31120-0c1c-4bdc-9723-28c158d45890.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/SyndicationService.asmx/GetEntryCommentsRss?guid=bec31120-0c1c-4bdc-9723-28c158d45890 1

In early 2006, after years of progressively worsening chronic pain due to a damaged lower back, I had surgery to remove the lumbar disc at the L5/S1 level of my lower spine. The failed disc was replaced with a new device – a three-piece metal joint called the Kineflex Lumbar Disc – which was under FDA study as an alternative to fusing the two bones together.

The artificial joint, which is made of a strong, durable cobalt chromium alloy (and should last longer than I do, I am told) maintains the natural movement of the back and that joint, where a fusion locks that joint up and grows the two bones together into one. In theory, the result is better overall since a fusion results in transferring the load and movement (and resulting wear and tear) to the adjacent joints.

The stuff that didn’t work…

This all came to pass after repeated attempts at less-invasive therapy and surgical procedures. From medication to physical therapy, then on to anti-inflammatory steroid injections (hot topic these days) and surgical procedure called a microdiscectomy, the pros tried many different approaches (and I suffered through even more pain and troubles) before we eventually settled on serious surgery. And even then it was still a tough decision.

Looking back on it now, I really waited too long before pulling the trigger each step of the way. Too long to go to the doctor in the first place, too long to get the first steps of treatment, and too long to get to a spine orthopedic specialist. I was beyond miserable, barely able to get on my feet (and sometimes unable to get up off the floor). I was quite literally in constant pain, and my mind and body had compensated – as the brain tends to do – by tuning out all but the worst of it from conscious awareness. But pain is still pain, and the lack of sleep and physical consequences of always compensating for it were just too great and went on for too long. By the time I had the ADR surgery, it was well past time to do something.

The surgery…

My doctor – Dr. Reginald Knight, who I hear now practices medicine somewhere on the east coast – Was awesome. I went up to Seattle and met with him. He evaluated me and determined surgery was the best remaining option in my case. He offered up the medical trial device as an option to fusion of the joint. In fact, it was a lottery-style program: I would either get the Kineflex device or another artificial disc, and I would not know which until after the surgery (since they were randomly and blindly assigned).

It was a pretty heavy duty procedure, known as an anterior approach (good description here), which involved cutting me open below my belly button and moving all my guts and stuff out of the way in order to get access to my spine from the front. Then they cut the ligaments along the joint, removed the badly damaged disc (a shock-absorbing-like structure between the vertebrae) and replaced it with the artificial disc. That process consisted of cutting some slots in the bone, spreading the joint out, and sliding the new artificial joint in place. Then they sewed me back up.

As I wrote about at the time, the first few days were pretty rough. But quickly I started to heal and within a few weeks I was getting better and better. Within an month and a half, I was travelling internationally and was well on the way to being “normal” again.

Life after the surgery…

I wrote about my status a year later, and commented on how much better things had become. Since that time, my back has only improved. I regularly ski and do anything I want. In fact, 99% of the time I forget I have the artificial disc at all. For a year or so after the surgery I would get some odd joint clunks and pops, but over time my body has adjusted and anymore it’s just part of me. Everything else seems to have aligned and adjusted.

When doing heavy-impact sports, such as skiing on icy or very hard surfaces, the jarring motion on my back can cause some inflammation. I have to watch out for that. But it’s more of an aggravation than a problem. I just have to remember that there’s no more shock absorber there – It’s all hard metal now. Once a joint is damaged as badly as mine was, you’ll never be 100% better I think, but I am consistently 90-95% like new, and that’s something I’m grateful for.

Common questions…

There are a few things people ask me about regularly, so I’ll list those here with some answers.

Q:  How do you deal with airports? Do you set off metal detectors or get into trouble on those new millimeter-wave scanners?

A:  No problems at all. The metal is non-ferrous, so it doesn’t set off magnetic sensors, and the millimeter-wave scanners look at surface items, not into your body. So I’ve had no issues at all, not even once. And I fly commercially a lot.

Q:  What restrictions did your doctor place on you, and for how long?

A:  Now every patient will get specific instructions from his/her doc, but mine were clear: My doc told me that I had missed out on enough life, and that I needed to follow some common sense rules post-surgery about not bending over or lifting anything for a couple weeks (mostly aimed I think at making sure my incision healed without tearing), but within a few weeks he told me it was time to get out and do whatever I wanted. If it was uncomfortable, I’d know not to go there. But, he said, no restrictions (literally) and that was it. I took him at his word and went to Germany for work, where I climbed the 400+ stone steps to the Heidelberg castle and walked mikes and miles.

Q:  Have you placed any restrictions on yourself?

A:  Since the trip to Germany in 2006, I’ve done nothing but stay active with skiing, boating, jet skiing and a variety of other crazy, stupid activities. I did give up my motorcycle, however (the street bike, not the dirt bike hah – I still have that one!). I found that when I rode it I was focused on what could happen to my back if I was in a motorcycle accident. If that joint was damaged, fixing it would not be much of an option. I’d rather not take that chance and I found that the mental distraction was not exactly safe, either. So that’s the one thing I gave up. For now, anyhow. :)

Q:  Are there dangers and side effect of the surgery?

A:  All major surgery has risk. Anesthesia, bleeding problems – these are real any time someone goes under the knife. In particular this procedure has some risk related to blood vessel damage, since there are some key vessels to watch out for. In addition, there’s a risk of possible nerve damage that men especially should be aware of, since it can affect fertility and – well – let’s just call it “plumbing operations.” You can look it up if you like. Sometimes the damage is self-correcting over time, other times it’s permanent. Don’t avoid talking about the possible issues there. While it’s rare and occurs in a very small percentage of cases, once a guy is affected he is 100% affected - and probability just isn’t relevant at that point.

Past writings for people who are interested…

For people who are looking for information, or for anyone who cares to read back in time stalker-style (hah), I documented my surgery experience and early recovery, plus my one year results, here on this site:

I also documented the mess of different things the docs tried, but which failed – much of the stuff that led up to the major surgery:



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Six years after artificial disc replacement surgery &ndash; Status update http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,bec31120-0c1c-4bdc-9723-28c158d45890.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/SixYearsAfterArtificialDiscReplacementSurgeryNdashStatusUpdate.aspx Fri, 26 Oct 2012 20:46:34 GMT <p> In early 2006, after years of progressively worsening chronic pain due to a damaged lower back, I had surgery to remove the lumbar disc at the L5/S1 level of my lower spine. The failed disc was replaced with a new device – a three-piece metal joint called the Kineflex Lumbar Disc – which was under FDA study as an alternative to fusing the two bones together. </p> <p> <img style="margin: 11px 0px 10px 15px; display: inline; float: right" align="right" src="http://www.greghughes.net/images/kineflex_2D1.jpg" width="158" height="188">The artificial joint, which is made of a strong, durable cobalt chromium alloy (and should last longer than I do, I am told) maintains the natural movement of the back and that joint, where a fusion locks that joint up and grows the two bones together into one. In theory, the result is better overall since a fusion results in transferring the load and movement (and resulting wear and tear) to the adjacent joints.<br> </p> <p> <strong>The stuff that didn’t work…</strong> </p> <p> This all came to pass after repeated attempts at less-invasive therapy and surgical procedures. From medication to physical therapy, then on to anti-inflammatory steroid injections (hot topic these days) and surgical procedure called a microdiscectomy, the pros tried many different approaches (and I suffered through even more pain and troubles) before we eventually settled on serious surgery. And even then it was still a tough decision. </p> <p> Looking back on it now, I really waited too long before pulling the trigger each step of the way. Too long to go to the doctor in the first place, too long to get the first steps of treatment, and too long to get to a spine orthopedic specialist. I was beyond miserable, barely able to get on my feet (and sometimes unable to get up off the floor). I was quite literally in constant pain, and my mind and body had compensated – as the brain tends to do – by tuning out all but the worst of it from conscious awareness. But pain is still pain, and the lack of sleep and physical consequences of always compensating for it were just too great and went on for too long. By the time I had the ADR surgery, it was well past time to do something. <br> </p> <p> <strong>The surgery…</strong> </p> <p> <img style="margin: 0px 0px 10px 15px; display: inline; float: right" align="right" src="http://www.greghughes.net/images/greg_2Dback0003a_thumb.jpg" width="265" height="347">My doctor – Dr. Reginald Knight, who I hear now practices medicine somewhere on the east coast – Was awesome. I went up to Seattle and met with him. He evaluated me and determined surgery was the best remaining option in my case. He offered up the medical trial device as an option to fusion of the joint. In fact, it was a lottery-style program: I would either get the Kineflex device or another artificial disc, and I would not know which until after the surgery (since they were randomly and blindly assigned). </p> <p> It was a pretty heavy duty procedure, known as an anterior approach (good description <a href="http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/anterior-approach-spine-surgery" target="_blank">here</a>), which involved cutting me open below my belly button and moving all my guts and stuff out of the way in order to get access to my spine from the front. Then they cut the ligaments along the joint, removed the badly damaged disc (a shock-absorbing-like structure between the vertebrae) and replaced it with the artificial disc. That process consisted of cutting some slots in the bone, spreading the joint out, and sliding the new artificial joint in place. Then they sewed me back up. </p> <p> As I wrote about at the time, the first few days were pretty rough. But quickly I started to heal and within a few weeks I was getting better and better. Within an month and a half, I was travelling internationally and was well on the way to being “normal” again.<br> </p> <p> <strong>Life after the surgery…</strong> </p> <p> I wrote about my status a year later, and commented on how much better things had become. Since that time, my back has only improved. I regularly ski and do anything I want. In fact, 99% of the time I forget I have the artificial disc at all. For a year or so after the surgery I would get some odd joint clunks and pops, but over time my body has adjusted and anymore it’s just part of me. Everything else seems to have aligned and adjusted. </p> <p> When doing heavy-impact sports, such as skiing on icy or very hard surfaces, the jarring motion on my back can cause some inflammation. I have to watch out for that. But it’s more of an aggravation than a problem. I just have to remember that there’s no more shock absorber there – It’s all hard metal now. Once a joint is damaged as badly as mine was, you’ll never be 100% better I think, but I am consistently 90-95% like new, and that’s something I’m grateful for.<br> </p> <p> <strong>Common questions…</strong> </p> <p> There are a few things people ask me about regularly, so I’ll list those here with some answers. </p> <blockquote> <p> <strong>Q:&nbsp; How do you deal with airports? Do you set off metal detectors or get into trouble on those new millimeter-wave scanners?</strong> </p> <p> <strong>A:</strong>&nbsp; No problems at all. The metal is non-ferrous, so it doesn’t set off magnetic sensors, and the millimeter-wave scanners look at surface items, not into your body. So I’ve had no issues at all, not even once. And I fly commercially a lot. </p> <p> <strong>Q:&nbsp; What restrictions did your doctor place on you, and for how long?</strong> </p> <p> <strong>A:</strong>&nbsp; Now every patient will get specific instructions from his/her doc, but mine were clear: My doc told me that I had missed out on enough life, and that I needed to follow some common sense rules post-surgery about not bending over or lifting anything for a couple weeks (mostly aimed I think at making sure my incision healed without tearing), but within a few weeks he told me it was time to get out and do whatever I wanted. If it was uncomfortable, I’d know not to go there. But, he said, no restrictions (literally) and that was it. I took him at his word and went to Germany for work, where I climbed the 400+ stone steps to the Heidelberg castle and walked mikes and miles. </p> <p> <strong>Q:&nbsp; Have you placed any restrictions on yourself?</strong> </p> <p> <strong>A:</strong>&nbsp; Since the trip to Germany in 2006, I’ve done nothing but stay active with skiing, boating, jet skiing and a variety of other crazy, stupid activities. I did give up my motorcycle, however (the street bike, not the dirt bike hah – I still have that one!). I found that when I rode it I was focused on what could happen to my back if I was in a motorcycle accident. If that joint was damaged, fixing it would not be much of an option. I’d rather not take that chance and I found that the mental distraction was not exactly safe, either. So that’s the one thing I gave up. For now, anyhow. :) </p> <p> <strong>Q:&nbsp; Are there dangers and side effect of the surgery?</strong> </p> <p> <strong>A:</strong>&nbsp; All major surgery has risk. Anesthesia, bleeding problems – these are real any time someone goes under the knife. In particular this procedure has some risk related to blood vessel damage, since there are some key vessels to watch out for. In addition, there’s a risk of possible nerve damage that men especially should be aware of, since it can affect fertility and – well – let’s just call it “plumbing operations.” You can <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=retrograde+ejaculation+spine+surgery" target="_blank">look it up</a> if you like. Sometimes the damage is self-correcting over time, other times it’s permanent. Don’t avoid talking about the possible issues there. While it’s rare and occurs in a very small percentage of cases, once a guy is affected he is 100% affected - and probability just isn’t relevant at that point.<br> </p> </blockquote> <p> <strong>Past writings for people who are interested…</strong> </p> <p> For people who are looking for information, or for anyone who cares to read back in time stalker-style (hah), I documented my surgery experience and early recovery, plus my one year results, here on this site: </p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/OneYearAsABionicManHowKineflexGaveMeMyLifeBack.aspx">One year as a bionic man - how Kineflex gave me my life back</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PicturesOfMyBionicBackKineflexDisc.aspx">Pictures of my bionic back - Kineflex disc</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/SevenWeeksAfterBecomingBionicMyBackIsBetterThanEver.aspx">Seven weeks after becoming bionic, my back is better than ever</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/WalkAHalfAMileInMyOwnShoes.aspx">Walk a half a mile in my own shoes...</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/LikeBeingHitByATruck.aspx">Like being hit by a truck</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/SurgeryWednesdayImAboutToBecomeABionicBackRecipient.aspx">Surgery Wednesday - I'm about to become a bionic back recipient</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/GoingCrazyWannaRideAlong.aspx">Going crazy, wanna ride along?</a> </li> </ul> <p> I also documented the mess of different things the docs tried, but which failed – much of the stuff that led up to the major surgery: </p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/DecisionsDecisionsRightBackToTheBackSurgeons.aspx">Decisions, decisions: Right back to the back surgeons...</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/BackToTheBackDocs.aspx">Back to the back docs</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/ALightAtTheEndOfThePainTunnel.aspx">A light at the end of the pain tunnel?</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/GoingUnderTheKnifeItsTime.aspx">Going under the knife - It's time</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/StickANeedleInMySpineReduxSurgicalDiscectomyItIs.aspx">Stick a needle in my spine redux - surgical discectomy it is</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/StickThreeNeedlesInMySpineAgain.aspx">Stick Three Needles in My Spine – Again</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/StickADifferentNeedleInMySpinePartUhhhThreeFour.aspx">Stick a different needle in my spine - Part (uhhh) three? four?</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/StickANeedleInMySpinePartTwo.aspx">Stick a needle in my spine, part two</a> </li> <li> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/StickANeedleInMySpine.aspx">Stick a needle in my spine</a> </li> </ul> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,bec31120-0c1c-4bdc-9723-28c158d45890.aspx Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery Personal Stories
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I spent the afternoon and the better part of the evening with my friend Dave the other day. We're close friends of ten years, both pilots and generally good buddies. We spent the day keeping each other company and - although we only briefly spoke about it - supporting each other through the anniversary of a difficult, life-changing day. It's so hard to believe it's actually been ten years - Both an eternity and a blink of the eye, all rolled into one. So much has changed in that time, yet so much seems the same.

Life can make remembering the good stuff difficult, if we let it. My son died suddenly the day before Thanksgiving so many years ago. He was 15 years old, and Dave was his good friend in high school. While much has happened and changed in both our lives in the intervening time, there's a slice of us that was sort of put on hold back then - almost as if one dimension of time simply stopped still while others kept on moving along. We both miss Brian, but we're also thankful for the times we had together.

So, the Thanksgiving holiday is always a bit of a rough time for me - one with mixed and conflicting feelings. Every year, however, I purposefully try my best to remember what this holiday is all about and to reflect on all the things in life for which I am truly grateful, and there are many. One of the ways I accomplish that is by writing and re-writing these words annually, adding to them and making them paint a picture of life at the time. I do this partly for me, and in no small part for others who might be feeling much the same way and just happen to run across this. So in some ways I'm repeating myself here, but that's what it's all about really - to keep looking back, reflecting on progress, changing and growing as we move forward.

Life's not perfect, and from the depths of the desperate situations and experiences that substantially change us - often things that we would never wish to have happen again, to anyone - we are destined to learn and grow, and hopefully to become better people in the end. I know I have experienced that over the years, and my life is quite different as a result.

Not too long ago some friends of mine impressed upon me the importance of adopting an "attitude of gratitude" in life. What they meant - at least in part - was that the place where you focus your thoughts is pretty much where you'll end up, and that being grateful for what you have - rather than obsessed or angry about what you don't have - is a good thing. For the most part I think they're right. This time of year I tend to think about a lot of different things, some difficult and some pleasant. But every year I try to take some Thanksgiving time to remember that even though life is crazy and our time is often too-short, there are so many things in life for which I am grateful and give thanks.

So, ultimately this message is supposed to be about what I am thankful for. About gratitude. So let's get to that.

This has been an amazing year for me. So much has changed in my life. I am thankful for Laura, my new and amazing wife who somehow understands me and has truly changed my world for the better. And for Megan, Nick and Sam, three of the greatest kids one could possibly hope for. I only hope I can be what they need me to be. They mean so much to me and I love them all very much.

I am also grateful for our many terrific friends, my (now much larger) extended family, my job, our home, my goofy dog, and now another goofy dog. I'm thankful for flying and wakeboarding and skiing and concerts and so many special things we get to experience. I'm grateful for doctors who fixed my damaged body a few years ago and for people who cared enough to put their lives on hold and help me when I needed it. I often wish I was better toward those who have been so good to me, and I strive to find ways to both give back and pay forward. I truly appreciate them, and am thankful they are a part of my life.

There are many, many people in this world much better than me, and a few of those good people I've had the privilege to know personally. I am thankful for them, even if I don't or can't always show it when it counts. I only hope in the future I can be more more worthy of their qualities.

Thanksgiving doesn't have to happen just one day a year. We can - and should - remember these things every day. But in a busy world of hurrying to get from here to there every day it can be easy to forget, so a little reminder never hurt anyone.

I'm grateful for my life - all of it. The people in it, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, and for all the possibilities of the future - whatever those may be. I've been lost and found again. Even though I'm not sure how or why, I think I've come out of it all at least a little bit better of a person. At least I hope so. Our experiences and what we do with them when he times get tough make us who we are. I've been very fortunate in so many ways, and am truly thankful for that.

As they say, "With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."

Yes, it is.

Happy Thanksgiving.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Thanksgiving, loss, and finding ourselves again... http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,0cf4358c-2d48-4d3a-a2e6-1943227a7e7f.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/ThanksgivingLossAndFindingOurselvesAgain.aspx Thu, 26 Nov 2009 17:47:19 GMT <p> I spent the afternoon and the better part of the evening with my friend Dave the other day. We're close friends of ten years, both pilots and generally good buddies. We spent the day keeping each other company and - although we only briefly spoke about it - supporting each other through the anniversary of a difficult, life-changing day. It's so hard to believe it's actually been ten years - Both an eternity and a blink of the eye, all rolled into one. So much has changed in that time, yet so much seems the same. </p> <p> Life can make remembering the good stuff difficult, if we let it. My son died suddenly the day before Thanksgiving so many years ago. He was 15 years old, and Dave was his good friend in high school. While much has happened and changed in both our lives in the intervening time, there's a slice of us that was sort of put on hold back then - almost as if one dimension of time simply stopped still while others kept on moving along. We both miss Brian, but we're also thankful for the times we had together. </p> <p> So, the Thanksgiving holiday is always a bit of a rough time for me - one with mixed and conflicting feelings. Every year, however, I purposefully try my best to remember what this holiday is all about and to reflect on all the things in life for which I am truly grateful, and there are many. One of the ways I accomplish that is by writing and re-writing these words annually, adding to them and making them paint a picture of life at the time. I do this partly for me, and in no small part for others who might be feeling much the same way and just happen to run across this. So in some ways I'm repeating myself here, but that's what it's all about really - to keep looking back, reflecting on progress, changing and growing as we move forward. </p> <p> Life's not perfect, and from the depths of the desperate situations and experiences that substantially change us - often things that we would never wish to have happen again, to anyone - we are destined to learn and grow, and hopefully to become better people in the end. I know I have experienced that over the years, and my life is quite different as a result. </p> <p> Not too long ago some friends of mine impressed upon me the importance of adopting an "attitude of gratitude" in life. What they meant - at least in part - was that the place where you focus your thoughts is pretty much where you'll end up, and that being grateful for what you have - rather than obsessed or angry about what you don't have - is a good thing. For the most part I think they're right. This time of year I tend to think about a lot of different things, some difficult and some pleasant. But every year I try to take some Thanksgiving time to remember that even though life is crazy and our time is often too-short, there are so many things in life for which I am grateful and give thanks. </p> <p> So, ultimately this message is supposed to be about what I am thankful for. About gratitude. So let's get to that. </p> <p> This has been an amazing year for me. So much has changed in my life. I am thankful for Laura, my new and amazing wife who somehow understands me and has truly changed my world for the better. And for Megan, Nick and Sam, three of the greatest kids one could possibly hope for. I only hope I can be what they need me to be. They mean so much to me and I love them all very much. </p> <p> I am also grateful for our many terrific friends, my (now much larger) extended family, my job, our home, my goofy dog, and now another goofy dog. I'm thankful for flying and wakeboarding and skiing and concerts and so many special things we get to experience. I'm grateful for doctors who fixed my damaged body a few years ago and for people who cared enough to put their lives on hold and help me when I needed it. I often wish I was better toward those who have been so good to me, and I strive to find ways to both give back and pay forward. I truly appreciate them, and am thankful they are a part of my life. </p> <p> There are many, many people in this world much better than me, and a few of those good people I've had the privilege to know personally. I am thankful for them, even if I don't or can't always show it when it counts. I only hope in the future I can be more more worthy of their qualities. </p> <p> Thanksgiving doesn't have to happen just one day a year. We can - and should - remember these things every day. But in a busy world of hurrying to get from here to there every day it can be easy to forget, so a little reminder never hurt anyone. </p> <p> I'm grateful for my life - all of it. The people in it, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, and for all the possibilities of the future - whatever those may be. I've been lost and found again. Even though I'm not sure how or why, I think I've come out of it all at least a little bit better of a person. At least I hope so. Our experiences and what we do with them when he times get tough make us who we are. I've been very fortunate in so many ways, and am truly thankful for that. </p> <p> As they say, "With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world." </p> <p> Yes, it is. </p> <p> Happy Thanksgiving. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,0cf4358c-2d48-4d3a-a2e6-1943227a7e7f.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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After a year and a half of doing some fun security and IT consulting (along with taking some valuable personal time off), last week I returned as a contractor to work full-time at the "parent" of the company I used to work for. Fiserv acquired CheckFree last year, shortly after CheckFree acquired Corillian - which was the company I at worked for about eight years.

My new responsibilities involve working on enterprise security strategy for the company as a whole. I'm excited to be back working with a bunch of people I respect and admire. Completing the full-circle path this transition represents, I'm even sitting back at very the same desk I occupied when I managed Corillian's IT department several years ago. Funny how these things happen! It's been fun to catch up with my old coworkers and to get back in the seat.

Who knows... I might even be inspired to write more here in the future, now that I'm getting my brain back into technology again full-time. :)



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. What's old is new again http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,88a600b3-2142-4cc2-b231-afca364dd96b.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/WhatsOldIsNewAgain.aspx Tue, 09 Jun 2009 03:52:29 GMT <p> After a year and a half of doing some fun security and IT consulting (along with taking some valuable personal time off), last week I returned as a contractor to work full-time at the "parent" of the company I used to work for. Fiserv acquired CheckFree last year, shortly after CheckFree acquired Corillian - which was the company I at worked for about eight years. </p> <p> My new responsibilities involve working on enterprise security strategy for the company as a whole. I'm excited to be back working with a bunch of people I respect and admire. Completing the full-circle path this transition represents, I'm even sitting back at very the same desk I occupied when I managed Corillian's IT department several years ago. Funny how these things happen! It's been fun to catch up with my old coworkers and to get back in the seat. </p> <p> Who knows... I might even be inspired to write more here in the future, now that I'm getting my brain back into technology again full-time. :) </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,88a600b3-2142-4cc2-b231-afca364dd96b.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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As of this evening, I am among the ranks of those who call themselves licensed pilots.

"Wow, what a day! I woke up this morning and started in on some non-flying related stuff that I had on my list, and at about 8:45 this morning my instructor, Kelly called me. Turns out one of the local FAA examiners that conducts check rides for private pilot candidates had today open and so he wanted to see if I could be at the airport for my FAA check ride at 1pm today. It wasn't quite where my mind was focused at the time the call came, but I quickly started shifting gears in my brain and agreed to be at Twin Oaks Airpark to meet Kelly at noon so we could make sure all the paperwork was in order."

Read the whole story about the exam and check ride on my flying blog.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. I'm officially a private pilot! http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,cb9199a0-70a3-47d9-a161-7d019707d7c9.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/ImOfficiallyAPrivatePilot.aspx Tue, 03 Mar 2009 07:40:39 GMT <p> As of this evening, I am among the ranks of those who call themselves licensed pilots. </p> <blockquote> <p> "Wow, what a day! I woke up this morning and started in on some non-flying related stuff that I had on my list, and at about 8:45 this morning my instructor, <a href="http://www.fly-oregon.com" target="_blank">Kelly</a> called me. Turns out one of the local FAA examiners that conducts check rides for private pilot candidates had today open and so he wanted to see if I could be at the airport for my FAA check ride at 1pm today. It wasn't quite where my mind was focused at the time the call came, but I quickly started shifting gears in my brain and agreed to be at <a href="http://www.twinoaksairpark.com" title="" target="_blank">Twin Oaks Airpark</a> to meet Kelly at noon so we could make sure all the paperwork was in order." </p> </blockquote> <p> Read the whole story about <a href="http://coordinatedflight.blogspot.com/2009/03/i-officially-private-pilot.html" target="_blank">the exam and check ride on my flying blog</a>. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,cb9199a0-70a3-47d9-a161-7d019707d7c9.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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It seems like just yesterday in many ways, but it's actually been nine years - An eternity and the blink of an eye, all rolled into one. So much has changed in that time, yet so much seems the same.

My son died suddenly on November 24th so many years ago, and while much has happened and changed in the intervening time, there's a slice of me that was sort of put on hold back then - almost as if one dimension of time simply stopped still while another kept on moving along. I miss Brian, but I am also thankful for the time we had together.

So, the Thanksgiving holiday is always a bit of a rough time for me, one with mixed feelings. Each year, however, I purposefully try my best to remember what the holiday is all about and to reflect on the things in life for which I am truly grateful, and there are many. One of the ways I do that is by writing and re-writing this, partly for me and in no small part for others who might be feeling much the same way. Over the past couple years I've published versions of the words things I'm repeating here, but that's what it's all about really - looking back, reflecting on progress, changing and growing as we move forward.

Not too long ago some friends of mine impressed upon me the importance of adopting an "attitude of gratitude" in life. What they meant - at least in part - was that the place where you focus your thoughts is pretty much where you'll end up, and that being grateful for what you have - rather than obsessed with what you don't have - is a good thing to do. For the most part I think they're right. This time of year I tend to think about a lot of things, some difficult and some pleasant. But every year I try to take some Thanksgiving time to remember that even though life is crazy and our time is often too short, there are so many things in life for which I am grateful and give thanks.

Life's not perfect, and from the depths of the desperate situations and experiences that substantially change us - often things that we would never wish to have happen again, to anyone - we are destined to learn and grow, and hopefully to become better people in the end. I know I have experienced that over the years, and my life is quite different as a result.

But, this is supposed to be about what I am thankful for. About gratitude.

I am thankful for my friends, my family, my work, my home, my goofy dog. I am grateful for doctors who fixed my damaged body and for people who cared enough to put their lives on hold when I needed it. I sometimes wish I was better to those who have been so good to me, and I strive to find ways to give back and pay forward. I truly appreciate them, and am thankful they are a part of my life.

There are many people in this world much better than me, and a few of those good people I've had the privilege to know personally. I am thankful for them, even if I don't or can't always show it when it counts. I only hope in the future I can be more much more worthy of their qualities.

Thanksgiving doesn't have to be just one day a year. We can - and should - remember these things every day. But in a busy world of getting from here to there, a strong reminder never hurt anyone.

I'm grateful for my life, the people in it, the goods and the bads, and for the possibilities of the future - whatever those may be. I've been very fortunate in many, many ways, and am truly thankful for that. As they say, "With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."

Yes, it is.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Where did nine years go? Grief and Gratitude on Thanksgiving http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,dd7fc874-7533-4ccb-8278-82f1ad86922b.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/WhereDidNineYearsGoGriefAndGratitudeOnThanksgiving.aspx Mon, 24 Nov 2008 19:37:20 GMT <p style="clear: both"> It seems like just yesterday in many ways, but it's actually been nine years - An eternity and the blink of an eye, all rolled into one. So much has changed in that time, yet so much seems the same. </p> <p style="clear: both"> My son died suddenly on November 24th so many years ago, and while much has happened and changed in the intervening time, there's a slice of me that was sort of put on hold back then - almost as if one dimension of time simply stopped still while another kept on moving along. I miss Brian, but I am also thankful for the time we had together. </p> <p style="clear: both"> So, the Thanksgiving holiday is always a bit of a rough time for me, one with mixed feelings. Each year, however, I purposefully try my best to remember what the holiday is all about and to reflect on the things in life for which I am truly grateful, and there are many. One of the ways I do that is by writing and re-writing this, partly for me and in no small part for others who might be feeling much the same way. Over the past couple years I've published versions of the words things I'm repeating here, but that's what it's all about really - looking back, reflecting on progress, changing and growing as we move forward. </p> <p style="clear: both"> Not too long ago some friends of mine impressed upon me the importance of adopting an "attitude of gratitude" in life. What they meant - at least in part - was that the place where you focus your thoughts is pretty much where you'll end up, and that being grateful for what you have - rather than obsessed with what you don't have - is a good thing to do. For the most part I think they're right. This time of year I tend to think about a lot of things, some difficult and some pleasant. But every year I try to take some Thanksgiving time to remember that even though life is crazy and our time is often too short, there are so many things in life for which I am grateful and give thanks. </p> <p style="clear: both"> Life's not perfect, and from the depths of the desperate situations and experiences that substantially change us - often things that we would never wish to have happen again, to anyone - we are destined to learn and grow, and hopefully to become better people in the end. I know I have experienced that over the years, and my life is quite different as a result. </p> <p style="clear: both"> But, this is supposed to be about what I am thankful for. About gratitude. </p> <p style="clear: both"> I am thankful for my friends, my family, my work, my home, my goofy dog. I am grateful for doctors who fixed my damaged body and for people who cared enough to put their lives on hold when I needed it. I sometimes wish I was better to those who have been so good to me, and I strive to find ways to give back and pay forward. I truly appreciate them, and am thankful they are a part of my life. </p> <p style="clear: both"> There are many people in this world much better than me, and a few of those good people I've had the privilege to know personally. I am thankful for them, even if I don't or can't always show it when it counts. I only hope in the future I can be more much more worthy of their qualities. </p> <p style="clear: both"> Thanksgiving doesn't have to be just one day a year. We can - and should - remember these things every day. But in a busy world of getting from here to there, a strong reminder never hurt anyone. </p> <p style="clear: both"> I'm grateful for my life, the people in it, the goods and the bads, and for the possibilities of the future - whatever those may be. I've been very fortunate in many, many ways, and am truly thankful for that. As they say, "With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world." </p> <p style="clear: both"> Yes, it is. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,dd7fc874-7533-4ccb-8278-82f1ad86922b.aspx Personal Stories
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I wrote all about it on my flying blog, but Sunday was an exciting and cool day, because I flew an airplane solo, all by myself with no one else in the plane, for the first time. This whole flying thing might work out, after all!

The full story is documented on my "Coordinated Flight" blog, should you care to read all about it.




greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Flying lesson update: Flew solo for the first time http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,8517b592-28f7-471d-9371-fd33f7064bb6.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/FlyingLessonUpdateFlewSoloForTheFirstTime.aspx Mon, 17 Nov 2008 08:42:29 GMT <p style="clear: both"> I wrote all about it on my flying blog, but Sunday was an exciting and cool day, because <a href="http://coordinatedflight.blogspot.com/2008/11/first-solo-and-some-other-stuff.html" target="_blank">I flew an airplane solo</a>, all by myself with no one else in the plane, for the first time. This whole flying thing might work out, after all! </p> <p style="clear: both"> The full story <a href="http://coordinatedflight.blogspot.com/2008/11/first-solo-and-some-other-stuff.html" title="" target="_blank">is documented on my "Coordinated Flight" blog</a>, should you care to read all about it. </p> <p style="clear: both"> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/Zi6_3.jpg" class="image-link"><img class="linked-to-original" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/Zi6_4.jpg" height="287" width="380" style=" text-align: center; display: block; margin: 0 auto 10px;" /></a> <br style="clear: both" /> </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,8517b592-28f7-471d-9371-fd33f7064bb6.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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Note: While I'll likely cross-post the occasional flying post here (or maybe I'll just mention a few highlights), I've started a whole new blog called Coordinated Flight where I'll publish all my flying-related stuff. That way this blog won't get overloaded with long, detailed flying stuff.

The past couple days I've spent a little time down at Twin Oaks Airpark, a small private airport located on the far west side of Portland, Oregon. Yesterday I spent an hour there, and today I went for about two hours. Both days I learned and flew with my new flight instructor, Kelly. I've always wanted to learn to fly and over the years I've spent quite a bit of time in small aircraft. But now I'm going to put the time and effort (and expense) into learning and practicing everything one needs to know to safely fly a small aircraft.

Yesterday was what they call an introductory ride. Kelly met me and we went to the airpark office, where we chatted with Betty Stark. The Stark family owns the airpark which is on an old dairy farm and has a single runway, several hangars, classrooms and a fuel station. Then we went to our aircraft for the day, a Cessna 150. Kelly showed me the aircraft and together we went though the walk-around checklist. The Cessna 150 is a two-seater and is a smallish aircraft, but is a very common trainer. After checking out the aircraft we climbed in and started the checklist for starting the aircraft. I turned the key and the prop started spinning. Kelly explained some more necessary details about the controls and told me what was going to happen. And then we were off.

We taxied from the ramp to the end of the runway and did the engine run-up and final checks on the list. Kelly radioed the local traffic to let anyone flying in the area know we were departing, and he told me to put my hands and feet on the controls so I could feel the aircraft as we departed. He explained each task he was doing as he performed them, from the time we walked up to the aircraft until we were in the air. I think I've found a great instructor. He clearly knows his stuff and is confident. That gave me a feeling of confidence, too.

Once we were in the air, he told me he was going to hand the controls over to me. The next thing I knew I was flying the airplane. Of course, Kelly was still there, light on the controls in case I screwed something up. He didn't overwhelm me with information, but instead balanced the doing, the explaining and the having fun and looking out the window. We spent about 30 minutes in the air (and a little rain from the clouds that were well above us) and then returned to the air park. I learned about the traffic pattern for Twin Oaks (it's a left pattern with a 45-degree entrance). It was a lot of fun, and probably just the right mix of time, information and experience for a first flight.

Kelly gave me a quick-read intro book with some basic information to learn: Controls, attitude, parts of an airplane, climbs and descents, turns. He assigned it as homework and we arranged to meet again the next day at 3pm for two hours - starting with a quick ground lesson followed by some time in the air.

When I arrived today, we went into the small classroom and Kelly explained some of the performance numbers I need to start getting familiar with. It clear to me that there are a lot of pieces of information that will need to become second nature. Today's classroom lesson focused on common airspeeds and engine RPMs for different basic flight maneuvers, plus an introduction to flying the traffic pattern and the proper aircraft configuration for landings. I had a chance to ask questions and took some notes and we headed out for the aircraft (another C-150, but not the same one).

Today our time at the aircraft was a bit different than yesterday. Kelly handed me the checklist and rather than having me following him as we did the first time, he followed me as I did the walk-around inspection, checking the aircraft from nose to tail, top to bottom. He told me that the next time we meet, he may have me do the pre-flight walk-around on my own (I'm sure he'll check my work, too). After the outside inspection, he then moved the plane to a safe spot on the ramp and we climbed in. Once properly buckled up, we returned to the checklist and started the process of making sure everything was working, properly configured and ready for flight. I turned the key and Kelly showed me how the ground controls work. It's pretty counterintuitive to get out of a car and climb into an airplane: To steer in the ground you use the two foot pedals (and toe brakes when needed). If you put your hands on the control yoke (wheel), nothing happens on the ground. I'm sure looked pretty funny when my brain automatically told me hands to turn the wheel left or right. I had to force myself to use my feet. Once I took my hands completely off the yoke, however, it got a little easier.

I was taught how to do turns on the ramp, with and without brakes. After that, Kelly had me taxi the plane down the taxiway to the end of the runway, where we then entered the runway and taxied all the way to the end, did a couple turns, and then did the same thing all over again. It was a good opportunity to try to get my brain around driving the aircraft on the ground with my feet. I think some future practice will be helpful in overcoming some of the counterintuitiveness.

Kelly then had me stop on the ramp at the end of the runway, where we did our engine run-up and other checklist items. Then he made the radio call and told me to taxi onto the runway and line up on the center line for take-off. I managed to line it up and then let it point left a bit. After correcting for that (I bet it looked pretty dumb from outside the plane, heh), Kelly walked me through applying full throttle and he controlled the plane with his feet as we sped down the runway. "Okay, you feel that? We're doing a wheelie now," he said as the nose started to lift. A little pull back on the yoke and we were in the air, climbing out. When you depart to the south out of twin oaks, you have to start a turn soon after departure due to a noise abatement area (you'd think if you buy or build a house next to an airport you'd know what you're getting into, but oh well). So after a gradual left turn we straightened out and continued climbing. The airport is at about 270 feet above sea level, and we climbed to about 2200 feet.

The main in-air lesson consisted of progressively moving through various maneuvers and maintaining proper attitude of the aircraft: Climbs, gradual turns, medium turns, descents, trimming the aircraft for hands-off flight, and then combination maneuvers: climbing turns and descending turns combined with ending each of the turns on specific compass headings and returning to straight and level flight. It was really fun.

We were almost right on top of the airport before I even recognized it. That whole awareness-of-where-you-are thing comes with time, they say. For now, it;s enough to pay attention and apply what my instructor tells me.

By the time we were ready to enter the landing pattern, my brain was on the edge of overload. 45 minutes of information and sensory load was enough for my feeble brain I guess, so it was good that Kelly was handling all of the landing. I just kept feet on the pedals and fingers on the yoke to feel the controls move. Kelly explained what he was doing as we followed the landing pattern (upon passing the end of the runway on the downwind leg turn carb heat on, throttle to 1500 RPM, flaps to 10 degrees (three seconds pressing the switch), add nose-up trim... then on turn to base leg, dial in 10 degrees more more flaps, engine speed will increase as work load decreases so a little less throttle to maintain RPMs, maintain 70mph, look for the end of the runway on your left and prepare to turn to final... then your final turn, check airspeed and ensure you're moving straight for the numbers on the end of the runway (that they're not rising or sinking), add or subtract throttle as needed and line up... after that, work some voodoo magic, flare the aircraft a bit and put the wheels on the ground without breaking anything - I figure the details will become more clear as I get more experience, heh... then keep the aircraft moving straight down the runway with your feet (back to those feet again) and when all the tricycle wheels are on the ground and it's safe apply a little gradual brake as needed to slow the airplane and taxi off the runway...)

Now I have my first textbook in hand, which is the basis of the ground school lessons (which I am looking forward to). I took a ground school class several years ago at Portland Community College when I was thinking about learning to fly helicopters (I then did the financial math and decided maybe I should wait), and I am hoping some of that will come back and help me this time around. I'm flying to Philadelphia this weekend for a family get-together, so I'll have plenty of time for reading the first couple chapters and answering the questions for each - while on the plane.

I borrowed all the pics here from the Twin Oaks web site. Sometime I hope I'll get comfortable enough to be able to take some quick pics of my own (but for now all I can really think about are the tasks at hand in flying that chunk of metal through the air).



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. I'm Flyyyyin' http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,a085b36c-2ddb-471a-afc2-ee29d283bdb8.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/ImFlyyyyin.aspx Fri, 26 Sep 2008 04:55:22 GMT <blockquote> <p style="clear: both;"> <font color="#006400"><i><b>Note: </b>While I'll likely cross-post the occasional flying post here (or maybe I'll just mention a few highlights), I've started a whole new blog called <a href="http://coordinatedflight.blogspot.com/">Coordinated Flight</a> where I'll publish all my flying-related stuff. That way this blog won't get overloaded with long, detailed flying stuff.</i></font> <br> </p> </blockquote> <p style="clear: both;"> The past couple days I've spent a little time down at <a href="http://www.twinoaksairpark.com" target="_blank">Twin Oaks Airpark</a>, a small private airport located on the far west side of Portland, Oregon. Yesterday I spent an hour there, and today I went for about two hours. Both days I learned and flew with <a href="http://www.fly-oregon.com/" target="_blank">my new flight instructor, Kelly</a>. I've always wanted to learn to fly and over the years I've spent quite a bit of time in small aircraft. But now I'm going to put the time and effort (and expense) into learning and practicing everything one needs to know to safely fly a small aircraft.<br> </p> <p style="clear: both;"> <img class="linked-to-original" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/cessna_fleet1.jpg" style="margin: 0pt 0pt 10px 10px; display: inline; float: right;" align="right" height="223" width="380">Yesterday was what they call an introductory ride. Kelly met me and we went to the airpark office, where we chatted with Betty Stark. The Stark family owns the airpark which is on an old dairy farm and has a single runway, several hangars, classrooms and a fuel station. Then we went to our aircraft for the day, a Cessna 150. Kelly showed me the aircraft and together we went though the walk-around checklist. The Cessna 150 is a two-seater and is a smallish aircraft, but is a very common trainer. After checking out the aircraft we climbed in and started the checklist for starting the aircraft. I turned the key and the prop started spinning. Kelly explained some more necessary details about the controls and told me what was going to happen. And then we were off.<br> <br> We taxied from the ramp to the end of the runway and did the engine run-up and final checks on the list. Kelly radioed the local traffic to let anyone flying in the area know we were departing, and he told me to put my hands and feet on the controls so I could feel the aircraft as we departed. He explained each task he was doing as he performed them, from the time we walked up to the aircraft until we were in the air. I think I've found a great instructor. He clearly knows his stuff and is confident. That gave me a feeling of confidence, too. </p> <p style="clear: both;"> Once we were in the air, he told me he was going to hand the controls over to me. The next thing I knew I was flying the airplane. Of course, Kelly was still there, light on the controls in case I screwed something up. He didn't overwhelm me with information, but instead balanced the doing, the explaining and the having fun and looking out the window. We spent about 30 minutes in the air (and a little rain from the clouds that were well above us) and then returned to the air park. I learned about the traffic pattern for Twin Oaks (it's a left pattern with a 45-degree entrance). It was a lot of fun, and probably just the right mix of time, information and experience for a first flight.<br> </p> <p style="clear: both;"> Kelly gave me a quick-read intro book with some basic information to learn: Controls, attitude, parts of an airplane, climbs and descents, turns. He assigned it as homework and we arranged to meet again the next day at 3pm for two hours - starting with a quick ground lesson followed by some time in the air.<br> </p> <p style="clear: both;"> <img class="linked-to-original" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/C-150-N1.jpg" style="margin: 0pt 0pt 10px 10px; display: inline; float: right;" align="right" height="202" width="380">When I arrived today, we went into the small classroom and Kelly explained some of the performance numbers I need to start getting familiar with. It clear to me that there are a lot of pieces of information that will need to become second nature. Today's classroom lesson focused on common airspeeds and engine RPMs for different basic flight maneuvers, plus an introduction to flying the traffic pattern and the proper aircraft configuration for landings. I had a chance to ask questions and took some notes and we headed out for the aircraft (another C-150, but not the same one). <br> <br> Today our time at the aircraft was a bit different than yesterday. Kelly handed me the checklist and rather than having me following him as we did the first time, he followed me as I did the walk-around inspection, checking the aircraft from nose to tail, top to bottom. He told me that the next time we meet, he may have me do the pre-flight walk-around on my own (I'm sure he'll check my work, too). After the outside inspection, he then moved the plane to a safe spot on the ramp and we climbed in. Once properly buckled up, we returned to the checklist and started the process of making sure everything was working, properly configured and ready for flight. I turned the key and Kelly showed me how the ground controls work. It's pretty counterintuitive to get out of a car and climb into an airplane: To steer in the ground you use the two foot pedals (and toe brakes when needed). If you put your hands on the control yoke (wheel), nothing happens on the ground. I'm sure looked pretty funny when my brain automatically told me hands to turn the wheel left or right. I had to force myself to use my feet. Once I took my hands completely off the yoke, however, it got a little easier. </p> <p style="clear: both;"> I was taught how to do turns on the ramp, with and without brakes. After that, Kelly had me taxi the plane down the taxiway to the end of the runway, where we then entered the runway and taxied all the way to the end, did a couple turns, and then did the same thing all over again. It was a good opportunity to try to get my brain around driving the aircraft on the ground with my feet. I think some future practice will be helpful in overcoming some of the counterintuitiveness.<br> </p> <p style="clear: both;"> Kelly then had me stop on the ramp at the end of the runway, where we did our engine run-up and other checklist items. Then he made the radio call and told me to taxi onto the runway and line up on the center line for take-off. I managed to line it up and then let it point left a bit. After correcting for that (I bet it looked pretty dumb from outside the plane, heh), Kelly walked me through applying full throttle and he controlled the plane with his feet as we sped down the runway. "Okay, you feel that? We're doing a wheelie now," he said as the nose started to lift. A little pull back on the yoke and we were in the air, climbing out. When you depart to the south out of twin oaks, you have to start a turn soon after departure due to a noise abatement area (you'd think if you buy or build a house next to an airport you'd know what you're getting into, but oh well). So after a gradual left turn we straightened out and continued climbing. The airport is at about 270 feet above sea level, and we climbed to about 2200 feet.<br> </p> <p style="clear: both;"> The main in-air lesson consisted of progressively moving through various maneuvers and maintaining proper attitude of the aircraft: Climbs, gradual turns, medium turns, descents, trimming the aircraft for hands-off flight, and then combination maneuvers: climbing turns and descending turns combined with ending each of the turns on specific compass headings and returning to straight and level flight. It was really fun.<br> </p> <p style="clear: both;"> <img class="linked-to-original" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/TwinOaksAirPark1.jpg" style="margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; display: inline; float: left;" align="left" height="286" width="380">We were almost right on top of the airport before I even recognized it. That whole awareness-of-where-you-are thing comes with time, they say. For now, it;s enough to pay attention and apply what my instructor tells me. <br> <br> By the time we were ready to enter the landing pattern, my brain was on the edge of overload. 45 minutes of information and sensory load was enough for my feeble brain I guess, so it was good that Kelly was handling all of the landing. I just kept feet on the pedals and fingers on the yoke to feel the controls move. Kelly explained what he was doing as we followed the landing pattern (upon passing the end of the runway on the downwind leg turn carb heat on, throttle to 1500 RPM, flaps to 10 degrees (three seconds pressing the switch), add nose-up trim... then on turn to base leg, dial in 10 degrees more more flaps, engine speed will increase as work load decreases so a little less throttle to maintain RPMs, maintain 70mph, look for the end of the runway on your left and prepare to turn to final... then your final turn, check airspeed and ensure you're moving straight for the numbers on the end of the runway (that they're not rising or sinking), add or subtract throttle as needed and line up... after that, work some voodoo magic, flare the aircraft a bit and put the wheels on the ground without breaking anything - I figure the details will become more clear as I get more experience, heh... then keep the aircraft moving straight down the runway with your feet (back to those feet again) and when all the tricycle wheels are on the ground and it's safe apply a little gradual brake as needed to slow the airplane and taxi off the runway...) </p> <p style="clear: both;"> Now I have my first textbook in hand, which is the basis of the ground school lessons (which I am looking forward to). I took a ground school class several years ago at Portland Community College when I was thinking about learning to fly helicopters (I then did the financial math and decided maybe I should wait), and I am hoping some of that will come back and help me this time around. I'm flying to Philadelphia this weekend for a family get-together, so I'll have plenty of time for reading the first couple chapters and answering the questions for each - while on the plane.<br> </p> <p style="clear: both;"> I borrowed all the pics here from the Twin Oaks web site. Sometime I hope I'll get comfortable enough to be able to take some quick pics of my own (but for now all I can really think about are the tasks at hand in flying that chunk of metal through the air). </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,a085b36c-2ddb-471a-afc2-ee29d283bdb8.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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For me, one of those timeless reminders is a song and a Pizza Hut commercial from the early 90's. I recall seeing the commercial on TV, and it's on the old VHS video tape of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The song is called "Right Field," and it was originally performed by Peter, Paul and Mary (here's an iTunes link for ya). I'm not sure who's singing in the Pizza Hut commercial, but the combination of the visuals and the music is priceless, and it just takes me back.

I think when I was much younger, I even looked a bit like that kid. Maybe a somewhat skinnier head, but close. Watching that commercial truly takes me back. I wasn't a great baseball player by any stretch of the imagination, but I truly enjoyed the game. I remember taking a couple fast pitches to the face, and standing in right (or left, or center) field, the ball high in the air and coming down at me. I was always at least a little amazed when it landed in my glove. I remember my best friends with me on the team and out on the field. The cottonwood fluff floating in the air, just like in the commercial. Lots of rubber bands, oil and a ball wrapped in a new glove, crammed under the truck tire overnight. And I remember, quite clearly, our dads (who were also our coaches) taking us to -- you guessed it -- the local Pizza Hut after games, where we pigged out (that's the term we used back then), belched a lot of soda bubbles, and generally had a great time. I remember playing Space Invaders and Asteroids and Missile Command on the table games there when they were brand new.

Years later as an adult, when the Pizza hut commercial was created I remember watching it with a couple of my foster sons. It was baseball season for them, and they loved it as much as I did. Of course, the fact that it was on the beginning of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video tape helped (since they loved that, too). I was helping coach by then. When the kids weren't around, I sometimes played the commercial over and over a few times. I know it sounds weird, but like I said - Each of us has those little things that truly take us back.

A lot of people don't realize the original song is one of many great songs by Peter, Paul and Mary. I have no idea who recorded the actual music used in the commercial spot. Many people also often don't realize there are additional verses. The final verse and chorus, with a minor modification, if what they used in the commercial. That's my favorite part, but the whole song is great and I think anyone who's a fan of the song would like to hear it or read the lyrics. Here's an iTunes link. The original lyrics appear below, and I've added a bonus YouTube link -- video of PP&M performing the original song.
Saturday summers, when I was a kid
We'd run to the schoolyard and here's what we did
We'd pick out the captains and we'd choose up the teams
It was always a measure of my self esteem
'Cuz the fastest, the strongest, played shortstop and first
The last ones they picked were the worst
I never needed to ask, it was sealed,
I just took up my place in right field.
Playing...

Right field, its easy, you know.
You can be awkward and you can be slow
That's why I'm here in right field
Just watching the dandelions grow

Playing right field can be lonely and dull
Little leagues never have lefties that pull
I'd dream of the day they'd hit one my way
They never did, but still I would pray
That I'd make a fantastic catch on the run
And not lose the ball in the sun
And then I'd awake from this long reverie
And pray that the ball never came out to me
Here in...

Right field, its easy, you know.
You can be awkward and you can be slow
That's why I'm here in right field
Just watching the dandelions grow

Off in the distance, the game's dragging on,
There's strikes on the batter, some runners are on.
I don't know the inning, I've forgotten the score.
The whole team is yelling and I don't know what for.
Then suddenly everyone's looking at me
My mind has been wandering; what could it be?
They point at the sky and I look up above
And a baseball falls into my glove!

Here in right field, its important you know.
You gotta know how to catch
You gotta know how to throw
That's why I'm here in right field
Just watching the dandelions grow!
A simpler time, not a worry in the world. Just a ball, a bat, a group of kids, a field and a few dandelions to distract some of us. We may never get back there in real life, but it's fun to revisit it from time to time in our minds.

I'm also reminded, strangely enough, of something that happened many years later. Several years ago I was in a conference room with my IT team, assembled as a panel to interview a candidate for a position on our IT help desk. We'd asked the common technical and background questions of the candidate, whose name was Aaron. We then threw a couple behavioral questions at him, including the classic, "Why are manhole covers round?" A semi-blank look came over Aaron's face, and after several moments he blurted out his answer: "Because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles like pizza???" I turned to the guy next to me and declared, "He's the guy." We hired him the next day. His other interview questions and excellent answers had a lot to do with that decision, but the pizza answer was really what made it stick for me. Anyone can answer technical questions. That answer was a classic. And for the record, he turned out to be a great hire, too.

Whether it's a song like "Right Field" or a movie ("Stand by Me" comes to mind) or something else, each of us has our memory triggers. I'm just glad YouTube has that old commercial online, so I don't have to buy a VHS player just to load up this old TMNT video tape that I still have on my shelf. I'm not even sure if it would play anymore, but one thing's for sure: I won't be getting rid of that old tape any time soon.


greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. My favorite commercial of all time: Right Field, Pizza Hut, and Peter, Paul and Mary http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,068530d6-1f28-453f-8d37-a96771b94d45.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/MyFavoriteCommercialOfAllTimeRightFieldPizzaHutAndPeterPaulAndMary.aspx Wed, 27 Aug 2008 07:35:32 GMT Now and then I think back to an old song, a not-quite-as-old television commercial, and a little league baseball "career" that happened years before. In each of our lives there's that song, that toy, that event, or what have you - Something from our past that somehow pulls us back, and returns our minds directly into a piece of our past that has some real meaning.<br> <br> For me, one of those timeless reminders is a song and a Pizza Hut commercial from the early 90's. I recall seeing the commercial on TV, and it's on the old VHS video tape of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The song is called "Right Field," and it was originally performed by Peter, Paul and Mary (<a href="http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?i=276170236&amp;id=276170176&amp;s=143441">here's an iTunes link</a> for ya). I'm not sure who's singing in the Pizza Hut commercial, but the combination of the visuals and the music is priceless, and it just takes me back.<br> <br> <p align="center"> <object height="344" width="425"> <param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/KpBsoU0tsxk&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1"> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/KpBsoU0tsxk&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" height="344" width="425"> </object> </p> I think when I was much younger, I even looked a bit like that kid. Maybe a somewhat skinnier head, but close. Watching that commercial truly takes me back. I wasn't a great baseball player by any stretch of the imagination, but I truly enjoyed the game. I remember taking a couple fast pitches to the face, and standing in right (or left, or center) field, the ball high in the air and coming down at me. I was always at least a little amazed when it landed in my glove. I remember my best friends with me on the team and out on the field. The cottonwood fluff floating in the air, just like in the commercial. Lots of rubber bands, oil and a ball wrapped in a new glove, crammed under the truck tire overnight. And I remember, quite clearly, our dads (who were also our coaches) taking us to -- you guessed it -- the local Pizza Hut after games, where we pigged out (that's the term we used back then), belched a lot of soda bubbles, and generally had a great time. I remember playing Space Invaders and Asteroids and Missile Command on the table games there when they were brand new.<br> <br> Years later as an adult, when the Pizza hut commercial was created I remember watching it with a couple of my foster sons. It was baseball season for them, and they loved it as much as I did. Of course, the fact that it was on the beginning of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video tape helped (since they loved that, too). I was helping coach by then. When the kids weren't around, I sometimes played the commercial over and over a few times. I know it sounds weird, but like I said - Each of us has those little things that truly take us back.<br> <br> A lot of people don't realize the original song is one of many great songs by Peter, Paul and Mary. I have no idea who recorded the actual music used in the commercial spot. Many people also often don't realize there are additional verses. The final verse and chorus, with a minor modification, if what they used in the commercial. That's my favorite part, but the whole song is great and I think anyone who's a fan of the song would like to hear it or read the lyrics. Here's <a href="http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?i=607472&amp;id=607480&amp;s=143441">an iTunes link</a>. The original lyrics appear below, and I've added a bonus YouTube link -- <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3Gqp_hYbpg">video of PP&amp;M performing the original song</a>.<br> <blockquote><i>Saturday summers, when I was a kid</i> <br> <i>We'd run to the schoolyard and here's what we did</i> <br> <i>We'd pick out the captains and we'd choose up the teams</i> <br> <i>It was always a measure of my self esteem</i> <br> <i>'Cuz the fastest, the strongest, played shortstop and first</i> <br> <i>The last ones they picked were the worst</i> <br> <i>I never needed to ask, it was sealed,</i> <br> <i>I just took up my place in right field.</i> <br> <i>Playing...</i> <br> <br> <i>Right field, its easy, you know.</i> <br> <i>You can be awkward and you can be slow</i> <br> <i>That's why I'm here in right field</i> <br> <i>Just watching the dandelions grow</i> <br> <br> <i>Playing right field can be lonely and dull</i> <br> <i>Little leagues never have lefties that pull</i> <br> <i>I'd dream of the day they'd hit one my way</i> <br> <i>They never did, but still I would pray</i> <br> <i>That I'd make a fantastic catch on the run</i> <br> <i>And not lose the ball in the sun</i> <br> <i>And then I'd awake from this long reverie</i> <br> <i>And pray that the ball never came out to me</i> <br> <i>Here in...</i> <br> <br> <i>Right field, its easy, you know.</i> <br> <i>You can be awkward and you can be slow</i> <br> <i>That's why I'm here in right field</i> <br> <i>Just watching the dandelions grow</i> <br> <br> <i>Off in the distance, the game's dragging on,</i> <br> <i>There's strikes on the batter, some runners are on.</i> <br> <i>I don't know the inning, I've forgotten the score.</i> <br> <i>The whole team is yelling and I don't know what for.</i> <br> <i>Then suddenly everyone's looking at me</i> <br> <i>My mind has been wandering; what could it be?</i> <br> <i>They point at the sky and I look up above</i> <br> <i>And a baseball falls into my glove!</i> <br> <br> <i>Here in right field, its important you know.</i> <br> <i>You gotta know how to catch</i> <br> <i>You gotta know how to throw</i> <br> <i>That's why I'm here in right field</i> <br> <i>Just watching the dandelions grow!</i> <br> </blockquote>A simpler time, not a worry in the world. Just a ball, a bat, a group of kids, a field and a few dandelions to distract some of us. We may never get back there in real life, but it's fun to revisit it from time to time in our minds.<br> <br> I'm also reminded, strangely enough, of something that happened many years later. Several years ago I was in a conference room with my IT team, assembled as a panel to interview a candidate for a position on our IT help desk. We'd asked the common technical and background questions of the candidate, whose name was Aaron. We then threw a couple behavioral questions at him, including the classic, "Why are manhole covers round?" A semi-blank look came over Aaron's face, and after several moments he blurted out his answer: "Because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles like pizza???" I turned to the guy next to me and declared, "He's the guy." We hired him the next day. His other interview questions and excellent answers had a lot to do with that decision, but the pizza answer was really what made it stick for me. Anyone can answer technical questions. That answer was a classic. And for the record, he turned out to be a great hire, too.<br> <br> Whether it's a song like "Right Field" or a movie ("Stand by Me" comes to mind) or something else, each of us has our memory triggers. I'm just glad YouTube has that old commercial online, so I don't have to buy a VHS player just to load up this old TMNT video tape that I still have on my shelf. I'm not even sure if it would play anymore, but one thing's for sure: I won't be getting rid of that old tape any time soon.<br> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,068530d6-1f28-453f-8d37-a96771b94d45.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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Today the trucking company showed up with my oh-so-cliché-midlife-crisis mobile, a 1969 Mustang convertible that I recently purchased from a good guy in Pennsylvania. I made a trip back east a couple weeks ago to hand over the check, transfer the title and drive the car a bit, and then painfully left it there to wait for a vehicle transport company to pick it up and deliver to Oregon.

The car made a long and round-about trip all over the country, and it got pretty grungy while in New Mexico thanks to a dirt road construction zone detour in the desert. I used to live there, so I understand. The soil in the desert, if you can call it that, is very fine and it gets into the air and can find its way on and into everything. When the car came off the truck today, it looked so dull and gross I almost couldn't stand it. But, after two complete washes it looks quite a bit better. It will need another good hand wash and them some detailing and a good wax, but it looks pretty nice already. These pictures were taken after the second wash and a hand-drying.

69 Mustang convertible top up left 69 Mustang convertible top up right 69 Mustang convertible top down

Most of my day was spent on the car: Receiving it from the back of the truck, washing it the first time, getting title and registration taken care of at the DMV, fueling up and washing it again, driving to town and giving some friends rides, stopping by the 60's-style corner soft ice cream and burger place with outdoor tables in the town I live near, and driving home on twisty-turny roads through the woods. It's a powerful, cool sounding and fun-to-drive machine, without a doubt. It's several years since I owned a convertible and I forgot how much fun and how relaxing it is on a nice day to just put the top down and drive. Add the raw power of this car's engine, and wow... A pretty darned good day, if I do say so myself.

And a bonus, which I only discovered when I got it home tonight: It fits in the garage with just about 12 inches of room to spare, nose to tail. Phew! Looks like I need to relocate some shelves.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. My New Old Mustang Has Arrived http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,06916078-ec80-4dc5-b206-6bb5ed635d0a.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/MyNewOldMustangHasArrived.aspx Thu, 19 Jun 2008 04:08:28 GMT <p> Today the trucking company showed up with my oh-so-cliché-midlife-crisis mobile, a 1969 Mustang convertible that I <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/NewtomeYetClassicCarShouldIShipOrDrive.aspx">recently purchased</a> from a good guy in Pennsylvania. I made a trip back east a couple weeks ago to hand over the check, transfer the title and drive the car a bit, and then painfully left it there to wait for a vehicle transport company to pick it up and deliver to Oregon. </p> <p> The car made a long and round-about trip all over the country, and it got pretty grungy while in New Mexico thanks to a dirt road construction zone detour in the desert. I used to live there, so I understand. The soil in the desert, if you can call it that, is very fine and it gets into the air and can find its way on and into everything. When the car came off the truck today, it looked so dull and gross I almost couldn't stand it. But, after two complete washes it looks quite a bit better. It will need another good hand wash and them some detailing and a good wax, but it looks pretty nice already. These pictures were taken after the second wash and a hand-drying. </p> <p align="center"> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/MyNewOldMustangHasArrived_1291B/IMG_2855.jpg"><img style="border: 0px none ; margin: 10px 0px 10px 15px;" alt="69 Mustang convertible top up left" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/MyNewOldMustangHasArrived_1291B/IMG_2855_thumb.jpg" border="0" height="184" width="244"></a> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/MyNewOldMustangHasArrived_1291B/IMG_2859.jpg"><img style="border: 0px none ; margin: 10px 0px 10px 15px;" alt="69 Mustang convertible top up right" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/MyNewOldMustangHasArrived_1291B/IMG_2859_thumb.jpg" border="0" height="184" width="244"></a> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/MyNewOldMustangHasArrived_1291B/IMG_2861.jpg"><img style="border: 0px none ; margin: 10px 0px 10px 15px;" alt="69 Mustang convertible top down" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/MyNewOldMustangHasArrived_1291B/IMG_2861_thumb.jpg" border="0" height="184" width="244"></a> </p> <p align="left"> Most of my day was spent on the car: Receiving it from the back of the truck, washing it the first time, getting title and registration taken care of at the DMV, fueling up and washing it again, driving to town and giving some friends rides, stopping by the 60's-style corner soft ice cream and burger place with outdoor tables in the town I live near, and driving home on twisty-turny roads through the woods. It's a powerful, cool sounding and fun-to-drive machine, without a doubt. It's several years since I owned a convertible and I forgot how much fun and how relaxing it is on a nice day to just put the top down and drive. Add the raw power of this car's engine, and wow... A pretty darned good day, if I do say so myself. </p> <p align="left"> And a bonus, which I only discovered when I got it home tonight: It fits in the garage with just about 12 inches of room to spare, nose to tail. Phew! Looks like I need to relocate some shelves. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,06916078-ec80-4dc5-b206-6bb5ed635d0a.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
http://www.greghughes.net/rant/Trackback.aspx?guid=59111e63-8cac-4706-86db-faa8bf71e73c http://www.greghughes.net/rant/pingback.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,59111e63-8cac-4706-86db-faa8bf71e73c.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,59111e63-8cac-4706-86db-faa8bf71e73c.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/SyndicationService.asmx/GetEntryCommentsRss?guid=59111e63-8cac-4706-86db-faa8bf71e73c 14 I recently acquired a restored 1969 Ford Mustang convertible in an eBay auction, and now I'm trying to decide which method I should use to get it across the country, from Pennsylvania (where the person I am buying it from lives) to Oregon (where I live).

I have some flexible time right now before and after the Tech-Ed conference, so one option is to fly there and drive it back. It turns out I have '69 Mustangfamily very close to where the car is (within about 30 miles), so I could visit with them while there, as well. The other option is to have it put on/in an auto-moving trailer and shipped to me, no travel to Pennsylvania required. A third option is to fly there, drive it around a bit and visit with family, and then leave the car with the transport trucking company and fly home.

There's a certain appeal to driving this car cross-country and seeing the countryside this time of year (as well as a certain amount of anticipated fear, since although it's a solid and mechanically sound car, it is a 1969 vehicle). I've considered asking a couple people if they'd like to join me on a road trip, since that would make it even more fun. But, that's about a week of flying and driving to make it realistic.

The car's a nice one. It's a muscle car and built to perform like one. Not a show car, but more like a parade-quality one (meaning it gets driven on an actual, real roadway now and then). Leaving a classic convertible exposed to the elements (and seasonal storms) on a trailer for probably three weeks as it gets hauled all over the country doesn't exactly appeal to me, so I'd want to ship it in an enclosed rig, which means bigger bucks. Flying there and driving the car back means lower cost, but it also means putting almost 3,000 miles on the vehicle and possibly dealing with older car issues.

So - Hmmm... Thoughts? :)



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. New-to-me yet classic car: Should I ship or drive? http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,59111e63-8cac-4706-86db-faa8bf71e73c.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/NewtomeYetClassicCarShouldIShipOrDrive.aspx Sat, 24 May 2008 19:07:27 GMT I recently acquired a restored 1969 Ford Mustang convertible in an eBay auction, and now I'm trying to decide which method I should use to get it across the country, from Pennsylvania (where the person I am buying it from lives) to Oregon (where I live).<br> <br> I have some flexible time right now before and after the Tech-Ed conference, so one option is to fly there and drive it back. It turns out I have <img src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/images/1095_3.JPG" alt="'69 Mustang" align="right" border="0" height="299" hspace="15" vspace="10" width="400">family very close to where the car is (within about 30 miles), so I could visit with them while there, as well. The other option is to have it put on/in an auto-moving trailer and shipped to me, no travel to Pennsylvania required. A third option is to fly there, drive it around a bit and visit with family, and then leave the car with the transport trucking company and fly home.<br> <br> There's a certain appeal to driving this car cross-country and seeing the countryside this time of year (as well as a certain amount of anticipated fear, since although it's a solid and mechanically sound car, it <i>is</i> a 1969 vehicle). I've considered asking a couple people if they'd like to join me on a road trip, since that would make it even more fun. But, that's about a week of flying and driving to make it realistic.<br> <br> The car's a nice one. It's a muscle car and built to perform like one. Not a show car, but more like a parade-quality one (meaning it gets driven on an actual, real roadway now and then). Leaving a classic convertible exposed to the elements (and seasonal storms) on a trailer for probably three weeks as it gets hauled all over the country doesn't exactly appeal to me, so I'd want to ship it in an enclosed rig, which means bigger bucks. Flying there and driving the car back means lower cost, but it also means putting almost 3,000 miles on the vehicle and possibly dealing with older car issues.<br> <br> So - Hmmm... Thoughts? :)<br> <p> </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,59111e63-8cac-4706-86db-faa8bf71e73c.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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Several months ago I described a number of things I wanted to do during my work sabbatical, which will be coming to an end sometime soon. I've spent that time in a variety of activities, including doing some contract consulting work. But a significant portion of the time has been spent just remembering to enjoy life a little, and getting some much-needed rest. For anyone who knows they need some R&R and happens to have an opportunity to take advantage of, I recommend it highly.

So, what's my report card look like for the past several months?

I made a list back in September of things I wanted or needed to do, and here's a little detail about how each of those has worked out:

Stuff I need (or want) to get done

  • Get some real rest (succeeded)
  • Finish the bonus room floor and trim at home (thanks to a great friend, the trim and floor are done)
  • Finish the shed at home (umm, no progress here yet - still on the list)
  • Add a deck to the side of the house (did some designs, but have not pulled the trigger)
  • Travel somewhere in a 18-wheeler with my friend Broc (I did that, and it was fun - to California and back)
  • Dust off the cameras and get back into the photography swing (have done some of this but not quite as much as I thought)
  • Sell my street motorcycle (2004 CBR600RR - still for sale as of this post - email me  if interested!)
  • Finish reading this darned Koontz novel that I started 9 months ago, heh (done - it was "Intensity" and it was a fun read)
  • Read another book or two - one for enjoyment, one for furthering myself (done - read quite a few, actually)

Things I need (or want) to learn

  • Learn a programming language, at least at a starter level - I an thinking C# - any ideas? (Ummm, no real progress here)
  • I need to study up for a couple certification exams that the whole we-got-bought-busyness process pushed off my schedule, and then reschedule the exams (I've done the studying part...)

Things/places I need (or want) to do/go

  • Visit family in Colorado (done!)
  • Visit family in California (done!)
  • Visit New Mexico (where I used to live) (still pending)
  • Visit a few friends and colleagues in Seattle (done!)

I've also done a whole slew of other things since September. I've traveled to Spain and London, went to see the Patriots beat the Chargers during a weekend trip to Boston, went skiing a bunch of times, recorded a bunch of podcast shows, and a lot more. All in all, it's been a good experience.

Now it's almost time to get back at it, work-wise. I'm in the process of weighing options and deciding what's next. I'm actively involved in a couple ventures that are challenging me and those might be what I decide to do full-time, but have not made decisions yet. Time will tell.

At any rate, I can say with hindsight that I am glad I allocated some meaningful time for myself. I was quite fortunate to be able to do that. Here's to shifting gears!



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Sabbatical period coming to an end - How did I do? http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,09fdfd29-bfb2-4d0f-ad9b-8013b38b35a1.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/SabbaticalPeriodComingToAnEndHowDidIDo.aspx Mon, 10 Mar 2008 23:29:22 GMT <p> Several months ago I described a number of <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/MySabbaticalListTheThingsIWantToLearnOrDoDuringMyWorkBreak.aspx" target="_blank">things I wanted to do during my work sabbatical</a>, which will be coming to an end sometime soon. I've spent that time in a variety of activities, including doing some contract consulting work. But a significant portion of the time has been spent just remembering to enjoy life a little, and getting some much-needed rest. For anyone who knows they need some R&amp;R and happens to have an opportunity to take advantage of, I recommend it highly. </p> <p> So, what's my report card look like for the past several months? </p> <p> I <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/MySabbaticalListTheThingsIWantToLearnOrDoDuringMyWorkBreak.aspx" target="_blank">made a list</a> back in September of things I wanted or needed to do, and here's a little detail about how each of those has worked out: </p> <blockquote> <p> <strong>Stuff I need (or want) to get done</strong> <ul> <li> Get some real rest <strong>(succeeded)</strong> <li> Finish the bonus room <strike>floor and</strike> trim at home <strong>(thanks to a great friend, the trim and floor are done)</strong> <li> Finish the shed at home <strong>(umm, no progress here yet - still on the list)</strong> <li> Add a deck to the side of the house <strong>(did some designs, but have not pulled the trigger)</strong> <li> Travel somewhere in a 18-wheeler with my friend Broc <strong>(I did that, and it was fun - to California and back)</strong> <li> Dust off the cameras and get back into the photography swing <strong>(have done some of this but not quite as much as I thought)</strong> <li> Sell my street motorcycle <strong>(2004 CBR600RR - still for sale as of this post - email me&nbsp; if interested!)</strong> <li> <strike>Finish reading this darned Koontz novel that I started 9 months ago, heh</strike> <strong>(done - it was "Intensity" and it was a fun read) </strong> <li> Read another book or two - one for enjoyment, one for furthering myself <strong>(done - read quite a few, actually)</strong> </li> </ul> <p> <strong>Things I need (or want) to learn</strong> <ul> <li> Learn a programming language, at least at a starter level - I an thinking C# - any ideas? <strong>(Ummm, no real progress here)</strong> <li> I need to study up for a couple certification exams that the whole we-got-bought-busyness process pushed off my schedule, and then reschedule the exams <strong>(I've done the studying part...)</strong> </li> </ul> <p> <strong>Things/places I need (or want) to do/go</strong> <ul> <li> Visit family in Colorado <strong>(done!)</strong> <li> Visit family in California <strong>(done!)</strong> <li> Visit New Mexico (where I used to live) <strong>(still pending)</strong> <li> Visit a few friends and colleagues in Seattle <strong>(done!)</strong> </li> </ul> </blockquote> <p> I've also done a whole slew of other things since September. I've traveled to Spain and London, went to see the Patriots beat the Chargers during a weekend trip to Boston, went skiing a bunch of times, recorded a bunch of podcast shows, and a lot more. All in all, it's been a good experience. </p> <p> Now it's almost time to get back at it, work-wise. I'm in the process of weighing options and deciding what's next. I'm actively involved in a couple ventures that are challenging me and those might be what I decide to do full-time, but have not made decisions yet. Time will tell. </p> <p> At any rate, I can say with hindsight that I am glad I allocated some meaningful time for myself. I was quite fortunate to be able to do that. Here's to shifting gears! </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,09fdfd29-bfb2-4d0f-ad9b-8013b38b35a1.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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bolts-pats Over the past year I have become more and more aware of the value of doing some of those things that I've always wanted to do, yet have never quite gotten myself to execute on. I certainly have my limits, but I've worked to push myself a bit and to welcome this likely-midlife-crisis with open arms -- just jump right in and live a little. What the heck, eh?

So, this weekend I'm flying with a friend to Boston and we're going to the playoff game between the Chargers and the Patriots for the AFC championship. A couple lucky tickets combined with frequent flier and hotel credits make for a cheap relatively affordable weekend of fun. We were darned lucky to be able to line it all up last minute with flights and rooms available purchased with mileage credit, etc. The idea didn't even cross my mind until right after the Chargers beat the Colts last weekend.

For those not intimately acquainted with American Football, the winner of the game we're going to will play the winner of the NFC championship imagegame in the Superbowl in a couple weeks. the Patriots are undefeated this year, and I certainly hope San Diego shows up and makes it a fun game to be at.

The temperatures in the Boston area Sunday are supposed to be in the teens or lower 20's (Fahrenheit), but hey it could be a lot worse. The NFC championship is being played in Green Bay, Wisconsin (Packers vs. the Giants) and the temperatures there are supposed to be considerably lower, with a wind-chill in the hell-frozen-over range. ESPN has a great article on cold-weather football with lots of good trivia for anyone interested.

And before you ask... No, I'm not going to spend the incredible amount of money it takes to go to the Superbowl these days. That's why they make HDTV. :)



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Off to the AFC Championship Game http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,b48c348d-770e-4a00-860c-a0b50246021b.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/OffToTheAFCChampionshipGame.aspx Fri, 18 Jan 2008 22:45:22 GMT <p> <img style="border-right: 0px; border-top: 0px; margin: 10px 0px 10px 15px; border-left: 0px; border-bottom: 0px" height="163" alt="bolts-pats" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/OfftotheAFCChampionshipGame_CF7F/bolts-pats_3.jpg" width="244" align="right" border="0"> Over the past year I have become more and more aware of the value of doing some of those things that I've always wanted to do, yet have never quite gotten myself to execute on. I certainly have my limits, but I've worked to push myself a bit and to welcome this likely-midlife-crisis with open arms -- just jump right in and live a little. What the heck, eh? </p> <p> So, this weekend I'm flying with a friend to Boston and we're going to the playoff game <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs07/series?series=sdgnwe2007" target="_blank">between the Chargers and the Patriots for the AFC championship</a>. A couple lucky tickets combined with frequent flier and hotel credits make for a <strike>cheap</strike> relatively affordable weekend of fun. We were darned lucky to be able to line it all up last minute with flights and rooms available purchased with mileage credit, etc. The idea didn't even cross my mind until right after the Chargers beat the Colts last weekend. </p> <p> For those not intimately acquainted with American Football, the winner of the game we're going to will play the winner of the NFC championship <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs07/series?series=sdgnwe2007" target="_blank"><img style="border-right: 0px; border-top: 0px; margin: 10px 0px 10px 15px; border-left: 0px; border-bottom: 0px" height="198" alt="image" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/OfftotheAFCChampionshipGame_CF7F/image_3.png" width="243" align="right" border="0"></a>game in the Superbowl in a couple weeks. the Patriots are undefeated this year, and I certainly hope San Diego shows up and makes it a fun game to be at. </p> <p> The temperatures in the Boston area Sunday are supposed to be in the teens or lower 20's (Fahrenheit), but hey it could be a lot worse. The NFC championship is being played in Green Bay, Wisconsin (Packers vs. the Giants) and the temperatures there are supposed to be considerably lower, with a wind-chill in the hell-frozen-over range. <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs07/news/story?id=3199028" target="_blank">ESPN has a great article on cold-weather football with lots of good trivia</a> for anyone interested. </p> <p> And before you ask... No, I'm not going to spend the incredible amount of money it takes to go to the Superbowl these days. That's why they make HDTV. :) </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,b48c348d-770e-4a00-860c-a0b50246021b.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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Here we are again, right up against the holidays and I am not ready yet... as usual. On Friday afternoon I'll be jumping in the truck and starting the drive from Portland to Colorado, where my mom and step dad live - as well as my brother and niece, two stepbrothers, and related extended family. My mom had knee replacement surgery just yesterday (which she says went well according to the doc), and so there are a couple important and good reasons to be down there this Christmas.

My good friend Cory, who lives in Portland but whose family is in Minnesota, is going to make the road trip with me and we're going to spend a couple/few days on the slopes in the Keystone area after Christmas before we head back. We're pretty excited and looking forward to the trip. We were going to travel by air, but decided to drive instead for a number of reasons. Renting a four wheel drive in Colorado that week is obscenely expensive as it turns out, and we plan to be in places where it's likely necessary. By the time all is said and done, it's a little less costly and we get to spend more time in Colorado if we drive. Plus we have not done a road trip this year, and we have this tradition thing to keep up.

I recently obtained a HD video camera that I have not used yet beyond taking it out of the box, charging the battery and making sure it works, so I will be taking that with me. Maybe I will do some filming on the slopes and see how HD video does when making YouTube videos or something fun like that. I better do some quick research to see how to best deal with the video for web publication.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Christmas plans - skiing, family and friends http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,ac993ebf-c55f-4fba-afc3-12a2cf1b062c.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/ChristmasPlansSkiingFamilyAndFriends.aspx Thu, 20 Dec 2007 02:00:44 GMT <p> Here we are again, right up against the holidays and I am not ready yet... as usual. On Friday afternoon I'll be jumping in the truck and starting the drive from Portland to Colorado, where my mom and step dad live - as well as my brother and niece, two stepbrothers, and related extended family. My mom had knee replacement surgery just yesterday (which she says went well according to the doc), and so there are a couple important and good reasons to be down there this Christmas. </p> <p> My good friend Cory, who lives in Portland but whose family is in Minnesota, is going to make the road trip with me and we're going to spend a couple/few days on the slopes in the Keystone area after Christmas before we head back. We're pretty excited and looking forward to the trip. We were going to travel by air, but decided to drive instead for a number of reasons. Renting a four wheel drive in Colorado that week is obscenely expensive as it turns out, and we plan to be in places where it's likely necessary. By the time all is said and done, it's a little less costly and we get to spend more time in Colorado if we drive. Plus we have not done a road trip this year, and we have this tradition thing to keep up. </p> <p> I recently obtained a HD video camera that I have not used yet beyond taking it out of the box, charging the battery and making sure it works, so I will be taking that with me. Maybe I will do some filming on the slopes and see how HD video does when making YouTube videos or something fun like that. I better <a href="http://www.neopoleon.com/home/blogs/neo/archive/2007/12/05/28470.aspx" target="_blank">do some quick research</a> to see how to best deal with the video for web publication. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,ac993ebf-c55f-4fba-afc3-12a2cf1b062c.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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Nothing brightens and warms the heart during the holiday season quite like a summons demanding appearance at the United States Federal Courthouse for jury duty. I received my official letter of "congratulations" (yes, they actually use that terminology) in the mail today. I have to appear on the morning of January 8th.

I hope it's not one of those trials that never ends. Fingers crossed. :)

Actually, I believe in the importance of the jury system and take seriously the duty. It's just such a schedule crusher, is all. Luckily I have nothing specific planned that week (or the next), or at least nothing that can't be kept flexible.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Federal Jury Duty Summons - Merry Christmas! http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,b73d7247-b8b5-41b6-bae2-bd28c6e961be.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/FederalJuryDutySummonsMerryChristmas.aspx Thu, 20 Dec 2007 01:53:25 GMT <p> Nothing brightens and warms the heart during the holiday season quite like a summons demanding appearance at the United States Federal Courthouse for jury duty. I received my official letter of "congratulations" (yes, they actually use that terminology) in the mail today. I have to appear on the morning of January 8th. </p> <p> I hope it's not one of those trials that never ends. Fingers crossed. :) </p> <p> Actually, I believe in the importance of the jury system and take seriously the duty. It's just such a schedule crusher, is all. Luckily I have nothing specific planned that week (or the next), or at least nothing that can't be kept flexible. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,b73d7247-b8b5-41b6-bae2-bd28c6e961be.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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A couple weeks ago I rounded up three of my younger, somewhat crazier friends and (without telling them where we were going or what we were doing) jumped on a train to go from Portland to Seattle. This was our Secret Plan SecretPlan1 day, which sounds kind of stupid but really is a lot of fun. Especially for me, since I am the only one who knows the secrets, and the plan.

It works like this: I picked up my the guys - Broc, Cory and Dave - early in the morning on Thursday. All they knew was that they had to keep Thursday and Friday completely free. That's it - the rest is pretty much all trust and blind faith. But hey - what are friends for, after all? Broc and Dave I have known since I moved to Oregon (they were good friends of my son's years ago), and Cory I have known for a few years (he was in the Navy with Dave).

The whole time, each step of the way, they had no idea what was happening next, where we were going or what we were doing. After picking them up we went downtown and parked. We started walking and ended up at the Portland Union Station. I already had the train tickets in my cool Top Secret folder (heh), so we got on a train (which luckily was not announced out loud while we were in the building, so the guys didn't even know for sure which direction it was going), and pulled out of the station. It turned out we were heading for Seattle.

A few hours later we got off the train and wandered around a bit. We grabbed some burgers and then went to the Secret Plan Dane Cook 017 Pirate Store at Pier 57 on the waterfront, and finally ended up at the Seattle Underground tour for an hour or so, which is pretty fun and interesting. There's a fascinating and surprising history to the City of Seattle, and if you have not done the tour and find yourself in the area I recommend it. From there we checked out a kilt store next door (random, I know - and not part of the plan, heh) and then found our hotel over near Seattle Center.

By this time it was getting to be evening, and we headed out to find some food before the next secret plan stop. Of course, I was guiding us to the general area we needed to be in, but not telling why. We found a good pizza place near the Space Needle and went in. Then, once everyone was seated I told them I had to leave take care of some things and that I would be back. Oh, and that they should not get too drunk or anything since they'd have to walk from the pizza place.

I went out in the cold, found the will-call ticket window at Key Arena (which opened more than half an hour late - why is it that Key Arena staff never seem to be able to get information right, anyhow? Right-arm/left-arm issues are rampant, but I digress...). After freezing my butt off for a while, I had what I had come for (less a half-hour of much-needed time). So, I started running back to the pizza place with almost no time to spare.

I gathered they guys and told them we had to split (like right now), and we started walking toward Seattle Center. The frustrating thing about SPCrewWithDaneCook2Secret Plan Day is that at times it's nearly impossible to actually keep the secret - Eventually you want to say something because you're excited and don't want to keep it to yourself anymore, but you can't do that or you'd ruin the whole concept, ya know. Anyhow, I was pretty excited about the next part, so I waited (it was difficult) until we were standing just outside key arena before I took out the next part of the plan and showed it to them: Second row tickets for Dane Cook, who is one funny guy that these three friends of mine really like. The looks on each of their faces when they realized where we were going and what we were doing made it all worthwhile.

Then I pulled out the four back-stage passes and the looks got even better. Heh.

Since the title of this post makes it seem like it should be about Dane Cook, let me say that the back-stage meet and greet things they do with these special tickets (I won them in an auction) is really cool. We got to say hi real quick, shake hands and have our picture taken with him, which was cool. He autographed our tickets and stuff, too. And then we headed out onto the arena floor for some of the best seats in the house and really enjoyed the show. He did a lot of new material, which made it even more fun. It was a great performance. I was able to take a couple of pictures before my camera battery died... I really need to buy an extra battery.

Secret Plan Dane Cook 034a   Secret Plan Dane Cook 032a

It was a late night, and the next day we boarded another train and headed back home. It was a pretty cool couple of days. Hanging out with just your friends can be a really fun thing to do. Surprising them is even better.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Secret Plan day: and Dane Cook is one silly... http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,5512d4de-22ad-45ba-8aae-d5bc0ccacdc2.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/SecretPlanDayAndDaneCookIsOneSilly.aspx Tue, 11 Dec 2007 18:10:31 GMT <p> A couple weeks ago I rounded up three of my younger, somewhat crazier friends and (without telling them where we were going or what we were doing) jumped on a train to go from Portland to Seattle. This was our Secret Plan <img style="border-right: 0px; border-top: 0px; margin: 10px 0px 10px 10px; border-left: 0px; border-bottom: 0px" height="197" alt="SecretPlan1" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/DaneCookisonesilly_10F53/SecretPlan1_15c0d807-4bc7-4cac-af10-46bdfec5459e.jpg" width="244" align="right" border="0"> day, which sounds kind of stupid but really is a lot of fun. Especially for me, since I am the only one who knows the secrets, and the plan. </p> <p> It works like this: I picked up my the guys - Broc, Cory and Dave - early in the morning on Thursday. All they knew was that they had to keep Thursday and Friday completely free. That's it - the rest is pretty much all trust and blind faith. But hey - what are friends for, after all? Broc and Dave I have known since I moved to Oregon (they were good friends of my son's years ago), and Cory I have known for a few years (he was in the Navy with Dave). </p> <p> The whole time, each step of the way, they had no idea what was happening next, where we were going or what we were doing. After picking them up we went downtown and parked. We started walking and ended up at the Portland Union Station. I already had the train tickets in my cool Top Secret folder (heh), so we got on a train (which luckily was not announced out loud while we were in the building, so the guys didn't even know for sure which direction it was going), and pulled out of the station. It turned out we were heading for Seattle. </p> <p> A few hours later we got off the train and wandered around a bit. We grabbed some burgers and then went to the <img style="border-right: 0px; border-top: 0px; margin: 10px 0px 10px 10px; border-left: 0px; border-bottom: 0px" height="244" alt="Secret Plan Dane Cook 017" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/DaneCookisonesilly_10F53/Secret%20Plan%20Dane%20Cook%20017.jpg" width="184" align="right" border="0"> Pirate Store at Pier 57 on the waterfront, and finally ended up at <a href="http://www.undergroundtour.com/" target="_blank">the Seattle Underground tour</a> for an hour or so, which is pretty fun and interesting. There's a fascinating and surprising history to the City of Seattle, and if you have not done the tour and find yourself in the area I recommend it. From there we <a href="http://www.utilikilts.com/" target="_blank">checked out a kilt store</a> next door (random, I know - and not part of the plan, heh) and then found our hotel over near Seattle Center. </p> <p> By this time it was getting to be evening, and we headed out to find some food before the next secret plan stop. Of course, I was guiding us to the general area we needed to be in, but not telling why. We found a good pizza place near the Space Needle and went in. Then, once everyone was seated I told them I had to leave take care of some things and that I would be back. Oh, and that they should not get too drunk or anything since they'd have to walk from the pizza place. </p> <p> I went out in the cold, found the will-call ticket window at Key Arena (which opened more than half an hour late - why is it that Key Arena staff never seem to be able to get information right, anyhow? Right-arm/left-arm issues are rampant, but I digress...). After freezing my butt off for a while, I had what I had come for (less a half-hour of much-needed time). So, I started running back to the pizza place with almost no time to spare. </p> <p> I gathered they guys and told them we had to split (like right now), and we started walking toward Seattle Center. The frustrating thing about <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/DaneCookisonesilly_10F53/SPCrewWithDaneCook2_2.jpg"><img style="border-right: 0px; border-top: 0px; margin: 10px 0px 10px 10px; border-left: 0px; border-bottom: 0px" height="171" alt="SPCrewWithDaneCook2" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/DaneCookisonesilly_10F53/SPCrewWithDaneCook2_thumb.jpg" width="244" align="right" border="0"></a>Secret Plan Day is that at times it's nearly impossible to actually keep the secret - Eventually you want to say something because you're excited and don't want to keep it to yourself anymore, but you can't do that or you'd ruin the whole concept, ya know. Anyhow, I was pretty excited about the next part, so I waited (it was difficult) until we were standing just outside key arena before I took out the next part of the plan and showed it to them: Second row tickets for Dane Cook, who is one funny guy that these three friends of mine really like. The looks on each of their faces when they realized where we were going and what we were doing made it all worthwhile. </p> <p> Then I pulled out the four back-stage passes and the looks got even better. Heh. </p> <p> Since the title of this post makes it seem like it should be about <a href="http://www.danecook.com/" target="_blank">Dane Cook</a>, let me say that the back-stage meet and greet things they do with these special tickets (I won them in an auction) is really cool. We got to say hi real quick, shake hands and have our picture taken with him, which was cool. He autographed our tickets and stuff, too. And then we headed out onto the arena floor for some of the best seats in the house and really enjoyed the show. He did a lot of new material, which made it even more fun. It was a great performance. I was able to take a couple of pictures before my camera battery died... I really need to buy an extra battery. </p> <p align="center"> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/DaneCookisonesilly_10F53/Secret%20Plan%20Dane%20Cook%20034a_2.jpg"><img style="border-right: 0px; border-top: 0px; border-left: 0px; border-bottom: 0px" height="244" alt="Secret Plan Dane Cook 034a" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/DaneCookisonesilly_10F53/Secret%20Plan%20Dane%20Cook%20034a_thumb.jpg" width="183" border="0"></a>&nbsp; <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/DaneCookisonesilly_10F53/Secret%20Plan%20Dane%20Cook%20032a_2.jpg"><img style="border-right: 0px; border-top: 0px; border-left: 0px; border-bottom: 0px" height="223" alt="Secret Plan Dane Cook 032a" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/DaneCookisonesilly_10F53/Secret%20Plan%20Dane%20Cook%20032a_thumb.jpg" width="244" border="0"></a> </p> <p> It was a late night, and the next day we boarded another train and headed back home. It was a pretty cool couple of days. Hanging out with just your friends can be a really fun thing to do. Surprising them is even better. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,5512d4de-22ad-45ba-8aae-d5bc0ccacdc2.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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Funny how eight years ago can feel like yesterday. My son died the day before Thanksgiving so many years ago, and while much has happened and changed in my life in the intervening time, there's a slice of me that was sort of put on hold, almost like one dimension of time has just stood still while another kept on moving along. I miss Brian, but I am thankful for the time we had together.

So, Thanksgiving is always a bit of a tough time for me. Each year, however, I try my best to remember what the day is all about and to reflect on the things in life for which I am truly grateful, and there are many. Last year I said many of the same things I'll say here, but that's what it's all about really - reflecting, changing and growing.

Not too terribly long ago some friends of mine impressed upon me the importance of taking on an "attitude of gratitude" in life. What they meant - at least in part - was that the place where you focus your mind is pretty much where you'll end up and that being grateful for what you have - rather than obsessed with what you don't have - is a positive thing to do. For the most part I think they're right. This time of year I tend to think about a lot of things, some difficult and some pleasant. But every year I try to take some Thanksgiving time to remember that even though life is crazy and time is often too short, there are so many thing in life for which I am grateful and give thanks.

Life's not perfect, and from the depths of the situations and experiences that substantially change us - often things that we would never wish to have happen again - we are destined to learn and grow, and hopefully to become better people in the end. I know I have experienced that over the years, and my life is quite different as a result.

Sometimes we learn and grow quickly, other times a little too slowly. I still make mistakes. Fear is a great motivator, one that can be leveraged for good or bad. Best to try for good.

But this is supposed to be about what I am thankful for. About gratitude.

I am thankful for my friends, my family, my good career, my home, my dog. I am grateful for talented surgeons and for the people in my life who have cared enough to stop their lives and take care of me when I was truly in need. I sometimes wish I was better to those who have been so good to me. I truly appreciate them, and am thankful they are a part of my life.

There are many people in this world better than me, and a few of those good people I have the privilege to know personally. I am thankful for them, even if I don't or can't always show it when it counts. I only hope in the future I can be more much more worthy of their qualities.

Finally, I am grateful for my life, the people in it, the goods and the bads, and for the possibilities of the future, whatever they may be. I've been very fortunate in many, many ways, and am truly thankful for that. As they say, "with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."

Yes, it is.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Thanksgiving, grief, gratitude and time http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,fe8dfea7-55b6-4d97-9acb-355ab7d30638.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/ThanksgivingGriefGratitudeAndTime.aspx Thu, 22 Nov 2007 06:25:44 GMT <p> Funny how eight years ago can feel like yesterday. My son died the day before Thanksgiving so many years ago, and while much has happened and changed in my life in the intervening time, there's a slice of me that was sort of put on hold, almost like one dimension of time has just stood still while another kept on moving along. I miss Brian, but I am thankful for the time we had together. </p> <p> So, Thanksgiving is always a bit of a tough time for me. Each year, however, I try my best to remember what the day is all about and to reflect on the things in life for which I am truly grateful, and there are many. Last year I said many of the same things I'll say here, but that's what it's all about really - reflecting, changing and growing. </p> <p> Not too terribly long ago some friends of mine impressed upon me the importance of taking on an "attitude of gratitude" in life. What they meant - at least in part - was that the place where you focus your mind is pretty much where you'll end up and that being grateful for what you have - rather than obsessed with what you don't have - is a positive thing to do. For the most part I think they're right. This time of year I tend to think about a lot of things, some difficult and some pleasant. But every year I try to take some Thanksgiving time to remember that even though life is crazy and time is often too short, there are so many thing in life for which I am grateful and give thanks. <p> Life's not perfect, and from the depths of the situations and experiences that substantially change us - often things that we would never wish to have happen again - we are destined to learn and grow, and hopefully to become better people in the end. I know I have experienced that over the years, and my life is quite different as a result. <p> Sometimes we learn and grow quickly, other times a little too slowly. I still make mistakes. Fear is a great motivator, one that can be leveraged for good or bad. Best to try for good. <p> But this is supposed to be about what I am thankful for. About gratitude. <p> I am thankful for my friends, my family, my good career, my home, my dog. I am grateful for talented surgeons and for the people in my life who have cared enough to stop their lives and take care of me when I was truly in need. I sometimes wish I was better to those who have been so good to me. I truly appreciate them, and am thankful they are a part of my life. <p> There are many people in this world better than me, and a few of those good people I have the privilege to know personally. I am thankful for them, even if I don't or can't always show it when it counts. I only hope in the future I can be more much more worthy of their qualities. <p> Finally, I am grateful for my life, the people in it, the goods and the bads, and for the possibilities of the future, whatever they may be. I've been very fortunate in many, many ways, and am truly thankful for that. As they say, "with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world." <p> Yes, it is. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,fe8dfea7-55b6-4d97-9acb-355ab7d30638.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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I grew up in northern New Mexico. Green chile was everywhere, and found in everything. I remember for a while my dad was on this kick where he dreamed up all kinds of green-chile-in-it dishes. Random, crazy stuff like green chile pancakes and  ... well ... you name it. He had a condition where he couldn't taste much of anything, so I think it was the texture and spice that he liked. Anyhow, long story short: For the longest time I was completely burned out on green chiles.

Then I moved away from the area, and slowly the desire to eat good New Mexican food with green chiles in it returned. By far the best green chile in the whole wide world is from Hatch, New Mexico - a small farming town that's fairly close to where I grew up (well, close in a New Mexico sort of way). There is no debate on this one, by the way. Hatch chile is the best chile. Period.

The other day I decided to make some posole (my current recipe for which is below), and I used chiles in a can from the local (meaning Oregon-based) Safeway store. the posole turned out good, but honestly the green chile leaves a lot to be desired. I was spoiled, ruined, and spoiled again as a kid by Hatch.

I went online yesterday morning to the Hatch Chile Express web site at www.hatch-chile.com and ordered 14 pounds of roasted, peeled, diced and frozen Hatch green chiles from the Chile Capital of the World. You can also get whole chiles there, but unless you're making rellenos there's no point - Get diced and save the hassle of cutting and tossing out parts.

Today, almost exactly 24 hours later, the box arrived via FedEx. The shipment was very carefully and well-packaged, in a strong container with Styrofoam insulation and a frozen cold pack inside, and the 14 one-pound bags of chile were still perfectly frozen and went straight to my chest freezer (after some inspection and sampling of the goods, of course). I ordered mostly medium (since that's what I usually cook with) plus a few bags of hot and mild for good measure. Just the smell of this frozen chile confirmed I'd made a good decision.

Not often I get excited about putting food in my freezer, but as weird as it may sound I was excited today. Hatch chile is that good.

I also ordered some mild and medium variety seed for planting next spring (although the climate here will likely make for a challenging growing season). They threw in a book of recipes (which includes instructions for roasting the chiles if I can get them to grow) as well as several dish options and a handwritten note on the invoice about the varieties I had requested. It's nice to know you're interacting with a real, live person. :)

If you want the best green chile the world has to offer, you go to Hatch, New Mexico. If you can't get to Hatch, then you go online to Hatch Chile Express at www.hatch-chile.com -- and you'll be glad you did. By the way, you can also order wreaths, ristras and a bunch of other cool looking holiday-season stuff there. Highly recommended, check them out. And no, they're not paying me to say that - I am just that impressed and I think if someone sells something great, letting others know is a good thing to do. These are local farmers, actually in Hatch (not some large reseller in some city somewhere), and it's a family-run business. Their phone number and email address are on the web page. There's really no better way to do business.

Here’s my updated and current Posole recipe (an edited version of the one I posted here in 2004), archived here for myself so I won’t lose it, and for anyone else who’s interested and wants to try it:

  • Two #10 cans (108oz) Hominy (Juanita's or a similar Mexican style preferred, fresh or frozen/bagged is even better)
  • Two large yellow onions, sliced and cut up (not diced)
  • One tablespoon (or so) minced/chopped garlic
  • One teaspoon dry oregano (Mexican oregano if you can get it)
  • One envelope/package menudo spice mix (a few ounces, optional)
  • One quart (or less if you prefer) of frozen or canned green chiles, diced, preferably hot or medium strength (do not use jalapenos – use real green chile)
  • Salt (plenty)
  • Pepper (plenty)
  • Two pork tenderloins, about 4-5 pounds each
  • Olive oil

In a large stock pot (16 to 20 quarts size), combine the hominy, onions, garlic, oregano, and green chile. Fill with water to cover the ingredients, plus a little more (don’t get too worried about the water – just make sure it’s pretty full). Salt and pepper the heck out of it, and plan to do so again later. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil while preparing the meat.

Cut the pork into small cubes or similar shape pieces (like you can cut pork into cubes, yeah…).In a frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and brown the pork slowly, adding some salt and pepper to the meat.

After browning the pork, add it to the stock pot contents, and stir the meat in.Once it boils, turn the heat back to simmer the stuff. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stir, and boil again. Do this twice, then simmer again on low heat.

Now comes the hard part – leave it alone until the cows come home, stirring about every 30 minutes. Keep it on low heat, just enough to bubble a little, to avoid burning the food at the bottom of the pot. "Until the cows come home" translates loosely to anywhere between say five or six hours and overnight (depending on what time you start, I suppose). Trust me – let it cook down, it needs it. Add some water as needed to keep the stock covered. It will thicken up a bit as it goes.

And don’t be stingy with the salt and pepper in this recipe – you’ll need it. You will probably find you need to add some salt while cooking one or more times. Stir it in and cook for a few minutes, then stir again and taste.

Serve with tortillas, and if you want grate a little cheese on top when you serve it up.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. The best green chile in the world - from Hatch, New Mexico http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,58587760-5b15-409f-9727-8a7045938fb4.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/TheBestGreenChileInTheWorldFromHatchNewMexico.aspx Fri, 19 Oct 2007 19:12:01 GMT <p> I grew up in northern New Mexico. Green chile was everywhere, and found in everything. I remember for a while my dad was on this kick where he dreamed up all kinds of green-chile-in-it dishes. Random, crazy stuff like green chile pancakes and&nbsp; ... well ... you name it. He had a condition where he couldn't taste much of anything, so I think it was the texture and spice that he liked. Anyhow, long story short: For the longest time I was completely burned out on green chiles. </p> <p> Then I moved away from the area, and slowly the desire to eat good New Mexican food with green chiles in it returned. By far the best green chile in the whole wide world is from Hatch, New Mexico - a small farming town that's fairly close to where I grew up (well, close in a New Mexico sort of way). There is no debate on this one, by the way. <strong>Hatch chile is the best chile.</strong> Period. </p> <p> The other day I decided to make some posole (my current recipe for which is below), and I used chiles in a can from the local (meaning Oregon-based) Safeway store. the posole turned out good, but honestly the green chile leaves a lot to be desired. I was spoiled, ruined, and spoiled again as a kid by Hatch. </p> <p> I went online yesterday morning to the <strong>Hatch Chile Express web site at </strong><strong><a href="http://www.hatch-chile.com" target="_blank">www.hatch-chile.com</a></strong> and ordered 14 pounds of roasted, peeled, diced and frozen Hatch green chiles from the Chile Capital of the World. You can also get whole chiles there, but unless you're making rellenos there's no point - Get diced and save the hassle of cutting and tossing out parts. </p> <p> Today, almost exactly 24 hours later, the box arrived via FedEx. The shipment was very carefully and well-packaged, in a strong container with Styrofoam insulation and a frozen cold pack inside, and the 14 one-pound bags of chile were still perfectly frozen and went straight to my chest freezer (after some inspection and sampling of the goods, of course). I ordered mostly medium (since that's what I usually cook with) plus a few bags of hot and mild for good measure. Just the smell of this frozen chile confirmed I'd made a good decision. </p> <p> Not often I get excited about putting food in my freezer, but as weird as it may sound I was excited today. Hatch chile is that good. </p> <p> I also ordered some mild and medium variety seed for planting next spring (although the climate here will likely make for a challenging growing season). They threw in a book of recipes (which includes instructions for roasting the chiles if I can get them to grow) as well as several dish options and a handwritten note on the invoice about the varieties I had requested. It's nice to know you're interacting with a real, live person. :) </p> <p> If you want the best green chile the world has to offer, you go to Hatch, New Mexico. If you can't get to Hatch, then you go online to Hatch Chile Express at <a href="http://www.hatch-chile.com" target="_blank">www.hatch-chile.com</a> -- and you'll be glad you did. By the way, you can also order wreaths, ristras and a bunch of other cool looking holiday-season stuff there. Highly recommended, check them out. And no, they're not paying me to say that - I am just that impressed and I think if someone sells something great, letting others know is a good thing to do. These are local farmers, actually in Hatch (not some large reseller in some city somewhere), and <a href="http://www.hatch-chile.com/default.asp?pageid=3946" target="_blank">it's a family-run business</a>. Their phone number and email address <a href="http://www.hatch-chile.com/default.asp?pageid=3946" target="_blank">are on the web page</a>. There's really no better way to do business. </p> <blockquote> <p> Here’s my updated and current Posole recipe (an edited version of the one I posted here <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/ItsTheHolidaySeasonRememberWhyAndMakeGoodFood.aspx">in 2004</a>), archived here for myself so I won’t lose it, and for anyone else who’s interested and wants to try it: <ul> <li> Two #10 cans (108oz) Hominy (Juanita's or a similar Mexican style preferred, fresh or frozen/bagged is even better) <li> Two large yellow onions, sliced and cut up (not diced) <li> One tablespoon (or so) minced/chopped garlic <li> One teaspoon dry oregano (Mexican oregano if you can get it) <li> One envelope/package menudo spice mix (a few ounces, optional) <li> One quart (or less if you prefer) of frozen or canned green chiles, diced, preferably hot or medium strength (do not use jalapenos – use real green chile) <li> Salt (plenty) <li> Pepper (plenty) <li> Two pork tenderloins, about 4-5 pounds each <li> Olive oil</li> </ul> <p> In a large stock pot (16 to 20 quarts size), combine the hominy, onions, garlic, oregano, and green chile. Fill with water to cover the ingredients, plus a little more (don’t get too worried about the water – just make sure it’s pretty full). Salt and pepper the heck out of it, and plan to do so again later. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil while preparing the meat. <p> Cut the pork into small cubes or similar shape pieces (like you can cut pork into <em>cubes</em>, yeah…).In a frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and brown the pork slowly, adding some salt and pepper to the meat. <p> After browning the pork, add it to the stock pot contents, and stir the meat in.Once it boils, turn the heat back to simmer the stuff. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stir, and boil again. Do this twice, then simmer again on low heat. <p> Now comes the hard part – leave it alone until the cows come home, stirring about every 30 minutes. Keep it on low heat, just enough to bubble a little, to avoid burning the food at the bottom of the pot. "Until the cows come home" translates loosely to anywhere between say five or six hours and overnight (depending on what time you start, I suppose). Trust me – let it cook down, it needs it. Add some water as needed to keep the stock covered. It will thicken up a bit as it goes. <p> And don’t be stingy with the salt and pepper in this recipe – you’ll need it. You will probably find you need to add some salt while cooking one or more times. Stir it in and cook for a few minutes, then stir again and taste. <p> Serve with tortillas, and if you want grate a little cheese on top when you serve it up. </p> </blockquote> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,58587760-5b15-409f-9727-8a7045938fb4.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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I have realized more and more that the time I'm taking off from working right now is time I need to spend doing the sort of things I can't realistically do while employed full-time. For example, I'm actually considering taking the time (and the expense) to get my private pilot's license. We'll see. That may be a bit of a stretch (and the rainy season is coming). But every time I see Jeremy Zawodny post about airplanes and flying, I get excited about it again. Darn you Jeremy!

Broc Driver I've always wondered what it would be like to travel the highways in a big truck. I'm writing this from northern California because I am on the road this week with my friend Broc (he's the goofball in the picture). He drives a 18-wheeler for his family's moving company. We left Portland on Tuesday and we're driving someone's household items to Modesto, California. Then we turn around with a different trailer and load and head back home by the end of the week.

I'm not sure exactly what it is about traveling from here to northern California in a semi truck that interests me this much. Seriously, we could be going anywhere and it would be an adventure for me just traveling over the road in the semi for the first time. Add to that the fact that I have never made the trek from Portland to California on the ground (it's always been by air) and it certainly makes for something to look forward to. In fact, I have never driven further south in Oregon than Eugene before today. Considering I've lived here for pushing nine years, that's kind of sad. And the chance to hang out with a friend for a few days is pretty darn cool, so I'm glad he asked.

It was a great drive today - nice scenery. Mt. Shasta is incredible and huge. It was amazing to be able to see it off and on for such a long time as we approached it and drove past. The peak is at more the 14,000 feet and much of the surrounding area sits down around 3,000 feet more or less, so you can imagine how it stands out. Shasta Lake is very, very low right now. Like maybe even 100 feet low, it's crazy. But it looks like a great place to bring the boat for an extended trip next year. It's on the list.

What would you do if you had unlimited flexible time? I'm always open to new ideas. :)



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Living life's little dreams - Part one - Over the road trucker http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,1436347f-c0b4-4805-9266-3b48a749df9e.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/LivingLifesLittleDreamsPartOneOverTheRoadTrucker.aspx Wed, 03 Oct 2007 04:04:12 GMT <p> I have realized more and more that the time I'm taking off from working right now&nbsp;is time I need to spend doing the sort of&nbsp;things I can't realistically do while employed full-time. For example, I'm actually considering taking the time (and the expense) to get my private pilot's license. We'll see. That may be a bit of a stretch (and the rainy season is coming). But every time I see <a href="http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/" target="_blank">Jeremy Zawodny</a> post <a href="http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/cat_flying.html" target="_blank">about airplanes and flying</a>, I get excited about it again. Darn you Jeremy! </p> <p> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/LivingthelittledreamsPartoneOvertheroadt_940B/Broc%20Driver.jpg" atomicselection="true"><img style="border-right: 0px; border-top: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 5px 15px; border-left: 0px; border-bottom: 0px" height="226" alt="Broc Driver" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/LivingthelittledreamsPartoneOvertheroadt_940B/Broc%20Driver_thumb.jpg" width="339" align="right" border="0"></a> I've always wondered what it would be like to travel the highways in a big truck.&nbsp;I'm writing this from northern California because I am on&nbsp;the road this week with my friend Broc (he's the goofball in the picture). He drives a 18-wheeler&nbsp;for his family's moving company. We&nbsp;left Portland on Tuesday and we're driving someone's household items to Modesto, California. Then we turn around with a different trailer and load and head back home by the end of the week. </p> <p> I'm not sure exactly what it is about traveling from here to northern California in a semi truck that interests me this much. Seriously, we could be going anywhere and it would be an adventure for me just traveling over the road in the semi for the first time.&nbsp;Add to that the fact that I have never made the trek from Portland to California on the ground (it's always been by air) and it certainly makes for something to look forward to. In fact, I have never driven further&nbsp;south in Oregon&nbsp;than Eugene before today. Considering I've lived here for pushing nine years, that's kind of sad. And the chance to hang out with a friend for a few days is pretty darn cool, so I'm glad he asked. </p> <p> It was a great drive today - nice scenery. Mt. Shasta is incredible and huge. It was amazing to be able to see it off and on&nbsp;for such a long time as we approached it and drove past. The peak is at&nbsp;more the 14,000 feet and much of the surrounding area sits down around 3,000 feet more or less, so you can imagine how it stands out. Shasta Lake is very, very <a href="http://www.redding.com/news/2007/aug/05/how-low-will-it-go/" target="_blank">low right now</a>. Like maybe even 100 feet low, it's crazy. But it looks like a great place to bring the boat for an extended trip next year. It's on the list. </p> <p> What would you do if you had unlimited flexible time? I'm always open to new ideas. :) </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,1436347f-c0b4-4805-9266-3b48a749df9e.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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I have started to form a couple lists of things to do or learn while I am on my self-induced break time. My typical methodology is to keep lists in my head, which worked well when I was a little younger and could remember things. Not so much the case these days. Ah, oldness. Gotta love it.

So I am organizing a couple lists. One if stuff I want to get done. The other is things I want to learn. Oh and and another one is things to do, which is a sort of people to see and places to go list.

Suggestions are always welcome. What do you think I should do during this unique time?

Stuff I need (or want) to get done

  • Get some real rest (making great progress on this one)
  • Finish the bonus room floor and trim at home (floor's done!)
  • Finish the shed at home
  • Add a deck to the side of the house
  • Travel somewhere in a 18-wheeler with my friend Broc
  • Dust off the cameras and get back into the photography swing
  • Sell my street motorcycle (2004 CBR600RR - email me, heh)
  • Finish reading this darned Koontz novel that I started 9 months ago, heh (done - it was Intensity and it was a fun read)
  • Read another book or two (one for enjoyment, one for furthering myself)

Things I need (or want) to learn

  • Learn a programming language, at least at a starter level - I an thinking C# - any ideas?
  • I need to study up for a couple certification exams that the whole we-got-bought-busyness process pushed off my schedule, and then reschedule the exams

Things/places I need (or want) to do/go

  • Visit family in Colorado
  • Visit family in California
  • Visit New Mexico (where I used to live)
  • Visit a few friends and colleagues in Seattle (I'm about half-way on this one)

I'll add to this list over time. I'm not nearly as concerned about accomplishing all of these things as I am about listing them out where I can see them and whittling away at them over the next little while.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. My Sabbatical List - The things I want to learn or do during my work break http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,c3dbff9f-88b1-4c03-8185-7bdad9721c55.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/MySabbaticalListTheThingsIWantToLearnOrDoDuringMyWorkBreak.aspx Sun, 09 Sep 2007 00:41:15 GMT <p> I have started to form a couple lists of things to do or learn while I am on my self-induced break time. My typical methodology is to keep lists in my head, which worked well when I was a little younger and could remember things. Not so much the case these days. Ah, oldness. Gotta love it. </p> <p> So I am organizing a couple lists. One if stuff I want to get done. The other is things I want to learn. Oh and and another one is things to do, which is a sort of people to see and places to go list. </p> <p> Suggestions are always&nbsp;welcome. What do you think I should do during this unique time? </p> <blockquote> <p> <strong>Stuff I need (or want) to get done</strong> </p> <ul> <li> Get some real rest (making great progress on this one) <li> Finish the bonus room <strike>floor and</strike> trim at home (floor's done!) <li> Finish the shed at home <li> Add a deck to the side of the house <li> Travel somewhere in a 18-wheeler with my friend&nbsp;Broc <li> Dust off the cameras and get back into the photography swing <li> Sell my street motorcycle (2004 CBR600RR - email me, heh) <li> <strike>Finish reading this darned Koontz novel that I started 9 months ago, heh</strike> (done - it was Intensity and it was a fun read) <li> Read another book or two (one for enjoyment, one for furthering myself)</li> </ul> <p> <strong>Things I need (or want) to learn</strong> </p> <ul> <li> Learn a&nbsp;programming language, at least at a starter&nbsp;level - I an thinking C# - any ideas? <li> I need to study up for a couple certification exams that the whole we-got-bought-busyness process pushed off&nbsp;my schedule, and then reschedule the exams</li> </ul> <p> <strong>Things/places I need (or want) to do/go</strong> </p> <ul> <li> Visit family in Colorado <li> Visit family in California <li> Visit New Mexico (where I used to live) <li> Visit a few friends and colleagues&nbsp;in Seattle (I'm about half-way on this one)</li> </ul> </blockquote> <p> I'll add to this list over time. I'm not nearly as concerned about accomplishing all of these things as I am about listing them out where I can see them and whittling away at them over the next little while. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,c3dbff9f-88b1-4c03-8185-7bdad9721c55.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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Change happens, and I'm living that fact right now. The company I work for was recently acquired and after a long stretch of doing my part to make sure everything went well with the integration process, I spent my last day on the job Friday of last week. I worked at Corillian for the past eight years, to the month. It was a great experience and I am grateful to all the good people I had the opportunity to work with and learn from. I truly appreciate the people I have worked with as well as the ones I have met over the past year during the transition process. Thanks for everything you've taught me and for some great times.

So the short version of this story is that I chose to move on find the next thing, and that by my own choice I'm on sort of an extended vacation from work right now. To be honest, a break will be good for me. Some amazing work opportunities have been presented to me recently and there are a number of people who are probably surprised I am not starting a new job immediately, but overall fit is important to me in a job and as such I will be carefully pursuing options in the near future. At this point I have to think about a variety of aspects of my life as well as work.

I plan to take a few weeks to relax and do some non-work things, followed by getting back on the work track. That means taking some time to get things done around the house, visit with some people I care about in person, do some writing and generally decompress from a year or two of extra-hard work. I'm looking forward to it.

And then, I'll be back on the trail.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. After eight years, I'm on a little vacation from work http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,c88da694-11c2-4775-a2a6-7b7aad3abccb.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/AfterEightYearsImOnALittleVacationFromWork.aspx Thu, 06 Sep 2007 06:42:23 GMT <p> Change happens, and I'm living that fact right now. The company I work for was recently acquired and after a long stretch of doing my part to make sure everything went well with the integration&nbsp;process, I spent my last day on the job Friday of last week.&nbsp;I worked at Corillian for the past eight years, to the month.&nbsp;It was a great experience and I am grateful to all the good people I had the opportunity to work with and learn from. I truly appreciate the people I have worked with as well as the ones I have met over the past year during the transition process. Thanks for everything you've taught me and for some great times. </p> <p> So the short version of this story is that I chose to move on find the next thing, and&nbsp;that by my own choice&nbsp;I'm on sort of an extended vacation from work&nbsp;right now. To be honest, a break will be good for me. Some amazing work opportunities have been presented to me recently and there are a number of people who are probably surprised I am not starting a new job immediately, but overall fit is important to me in a job and as such I will be carefully&nbsp;pursuing options in the near future. At this point&nbsp;I have to think about a variety of aspects of my&nbsp;life as well as work. </p> <p> I plan to take a few weeks to relax and do some non-work things, followed by getting back on the work track. That means taking some time to get things done around the house, visit with some people I care about in person, do some writing and generally decompress from a year or two of extra-hard work. I'm looking forward to it. </p> <p> And then, I'll be back on the trail. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,c88da694-11c2-4775-a2a6-7b7aad3abccb.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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IMG_0307Went out this evening for a hour or so ride with a friend on the dirt bike and ATV. Had a great time, but I need to remember when I come to a sudden end of a road, the front brake is not the first one to grab. I can't believe I did that.

Ouch. Thank God for helmets and gloves. Sorry for the detailed picture. A reminder's a reminder. And it's a knee, if you're trying to figure that out.

I've had one past motorcycle mishap that resulted in injury, which involved a deer in the roadway. This one was just me being stupid. I also had a ATV screw up once that I got a bit of a bruise on, and that's about it. This time, a couple bruised and beat up knees, some scrapes on my chest and a sore, sprained wrist are pretty much all the injuries I walked away with (plus a bit of a sprained ego, I suppose), which is excellent considering I went over the bars and straight into the packed gravel road. I did what I learned in sports as a kid - walked it off and got back on. And took it really easy the rest of the ride, heh.

Anyhow, I am posting this embarrassing moment to serve as a reminder to me and to others not to be a sloppy idiot on a motorcycle. The rear brake is down there by your right foot. Right foot good. Right hand bad.

Right foot, right foot, right, foot right foot, right f...

Doh!



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note to self... http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,95381308-504c-4b70-8cd8-71eaf492c1fd.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/NoteToSelf.aspx Sun, 08 Jul 2007 07:29:55 GMT <p> </p> <p> <img style="border-right: 0px; border-top: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 0px 15px; border-left: 0px; border-bottom: 0px" height="240" alt="IMG_0307" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/Notetoself_483/IMG_0307_1.jpg" width="180" align="right" border="0">Went out this evening for a hour or so ride with a friend on the dirt bike and ATV. Had a great time, but I need to remember when I come to a sudden end of a road, the front brake is not the first one to grab. I can't believe I did that. </p> <p> Ouch. Thank God for helmets and gloves. Sorry for the detailed picture. A reminder's a reminder.&nbsp;And it's a knee, if you're trying to figure that out. </p> <p> I've had one past motorcycle mishap that resulted in injury, which involved a deer in the roadway. This one was just me being stupid. I also had a ATV screw up once that I got a bit of a bruise on, and that's about it. This time, a couple bruised and beat up knees, some scrapes on my chest and a sore, sprained wrist are pretty much&nbsp;all the injuries I walked away with (plus a bit of a sprained ego, I suppose), which is excellent considering I went over the bars and straight into the packed gravel road. I did what I learned in sports as a kid - walked it off and got back on. And took it <em>really</em> easy the rest of the ride, heh. </p> <p> Anyhow, I am posting this embarrassing moment to serve as a reminder to me and to others not to be a sloppy&nbsp;idiot on a motorcycle. The rear brake is down there by your right foot. Right foot good. Right hand bad. </p> <p> Right foot, right foot, right, foot right foot, right f... </p> <p> Doh! </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,95381308-504c-4b70-8cd8-71eaf492c1fd.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff Things that Suck
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Another Fourth of July has come and gone. This year - as I have for several years past - I operated a public fireworks display, this time for the community of Walla Walla, Washington. It was my first time there, and I enjoyed the place and people. It was also my first time running a show in the state of Washington - the past seven or eight years of this have all been shows in Oregon. We shot the show in a sports park and school area on the VA grounds, and the audience was able to sit and watch from all angles around. There's a great hillside under a water tower nearby that makes for an optimum viewing spot.

My crew was terrific, and despite the fact that it was extremely hot (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny all day as we set up the show as well as the next morning while we finished cleaning up), we all had a good time and the show went off well - safe and to the cheers of the crowd. That's what we want. Even the playground sprinklers that came on automatically at around midnight while we were still cleaning up were no big deal, heheh. We just went back to the hotel for the night and returned in the morning.

Update: Travis wrote a bit about the crew experience at the show and Jenn posted some pretty terrific pics she shot.

Below is a video with some excerpts from the show. The video is five minutes long, which is a little more than one fifth of the actual length of the show (which came in at just under 25 minutes, right on target). So, you get a good flavor of the opener, mid-show shots and volleys, the build up to larger shells, some layered height effects, and of course the finale - which was pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself. Several thousand shells and pyrotechnic components from one inch to four inches in diameter made up the show.

I'll add a couple show setup pictures later today or this weekend. Enjoy.   : )



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Fireworks Show Video - Walla Walla, Washington - July 4, 2007 http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,e0720c93-79cd-4ed3-97cf-13a481f2cd21.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/FireworksShowVideoWallaWallaWashingtonJuly42007.aspx Fri, 06 Jul 2007 19:56:21 GMT <p> Another Fourth of July has come and gone. This year -&nbsp;as I have for several years past - I operated a public fireworks display, this time&nbsp;for the community of Walla Walla, Washington. It was my first time there, and I enjoyed the place and people. It was also my first time running a show in the state of Washington - the past seven or eight years of this have all been shows in Oregon.&nbsp;We shot the show&nbsp;in a sports park and school area on the VA grounds, and the audience was able to sit and watch from all angles around.&nbsp;There's a&nbsp;great hillside under a water tower nearby that makes for an optimum viewing spot. </p> <p> My crew was terrific, and despite the fact that it was extremely hot (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit&nbsp;and sunny all day as we set up the show as well as the next morning while we finished cleaning up), we all had a good time and the show went off well - safe and to the cheers of the crowd. That's what we want. Even the playground sprinklers that came on automatically at around midnight while we were still cleaning up were no big deal, heheh. We just went back to the hotel for the night and returned in the morning. </p> <blockquote> <p> <strong>Update:</strong> <a href="http://www.paraesthesia.com/archive/2007/07/06/walla-walla-fireworks-2007.aspx" target="_blank">Travis wrote a bit about the crew experience at the show</a> and <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/travis.illig/WallaWallaFireworks2007" target="_blank">Jenn posted some pretty terrific pics</a> she shot. </p> </blockquote> <p> Below is a&nbsp;video with some excerpts from the show. The video is five minutes long, which is a little more than one fifth of the actual length of the show (which came in at just under 25 minutes, right on target). So, you get a good flavor of the opener, mid-show shots and volleys, the build up to larger shells, some layered height effects, and of course the finale - which was pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself. Several thousand shells and pyrotechnic components from one inch to four inches in diameter made up the show. </p> <p> I'll add a couple show setup pictures later today or this weekend. Enjoy.&nbsp;&nbsp; <strong>: )</strong> </p> <p align="center"> <embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/eOsuiYIhUp8" width="425" height="350" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"> </embed> </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,e0720c93-79cd-4ed3-97cf-13a481f2cd21.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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Ah, fireworks. It's that time of year again. Some of you probably know that I'm a licensed pyrotechnician here in Oregon, where I live. That's what lets me run and operate public fireworks displays - the big ones, you know? Like here and here and here. Not the stuff you buy at the local stand or up on the reservation (common way around purchasing issues in these here parts), but rather the kind of explosives that make for huge (and expensive) shows. It's something I've been involved with for several years now, and a number of my friends like to help out on the Independence Day shows I do each year as well as the occasional other occasion. It's a lot of fun.

Well this year the fireworks display company I work for needs me to do a somewhat larger show in Walla Walla, Washington (yep it's a real town, not just a Bugs Bunny reference). So, in order to be able to run a show in Washington, I took my exam recently to be licensed in that state. Today (just in time, I might add), I got my license in the snail mail. I guess I passed the test. :)

Operating these shows is a big responsibility, and there's a lot of critical safety items to watch out for every time, but it's also a lot of fun and I do enjoy it when I get the chance to blow up someone else's stuff and not get in trouble in the process. I mean, where else can you destroy what someone else buys for thousands of dollars and have everyone cheering when you're finished? Heh.

For anyone in the Portland area that might be interested in spending your July 4th this year helping with a show, let me know and I will put you in touch with my friend Norm at Western Display and he'll probably be able (and glad) to set you up to assist with a show somewhere. Or, if you want to join me in Walla Walla for a couple days and don't mind making the hike over there, let me know as well and we'll see what we can work out. Or if you're in Walla Walla, even better. I'll be making a three-day deal out of it, including travel and setup and stuff. My cell phone is 503-970-1753. Call or text me. And you can find out a little more about what's involved in being a crew member at this link from a show last year as well as the links above.

Ker-freakin-boom. Heh.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. A license to blow stuff up (legally) http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,910e995e-7a8e-4020-8cea-4166e65cea67.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/ALicenseToBlowStuffUpLegally.aspx Tue, 26 Jun 2007 04:39:42 GMT <p> Ah, fireworks. It's that time of year again. Some of you probably know that I'm a licensed pyrotechnician here in Oregon, where I live. That's what lets me run and <img style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px" src="http://www.greghughes.net/images/07works.jpg" align="right">operate public fireworks displays - the big ones, you know? Like <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/FourthOfJulyFireworksShowPartOne.aspx">here</a> and <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/FourthOfJulyFireworksShowPartTwo.aspx">here</a> and <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/FourthOfJulyFireworksShowPartThree.aspx">here</a>.&nbsp;Not the stuff you buy at the local stand or up on the reservation (common way around purchasing issues in these here parts), but rather the kind of explosives that make for huge (and expensive) shows. It's something I've been involved with for several years now, and a number of my friends like to help out on the Independence Day shows I do&nbsp;each year as well as the occasional other occasion. It's&nbsp;a lot of fun. </p> <p> Well this year&nbsp;the fireworks display&nbsp;company I work for&nbsp;needs me to do a somewhat&nbsp;larger show in <a href="http://www.wallawalla.org/" target="_blank">Walla Walla, Washington</a> (yep it's&nbsp;a real town, not just a Bugs Bunny reference). So, in order to be able to run a show in Washington, I took my exam recently to be licensed in that state. Today (just in time, I might add), I got my license in the snail mail. I guess I passed the test. :) </p> <p> Operating these shows is a big responsibility, and there's a lot of critical safety items to watch out for every time, but it's also a lot of fun and I do enjoy it when I get the chance to blow up someone else's stuff and not get in trouble in the process. I mean, where else can you destroy what someone else buys for thousands of dollars and have everyone cheering when you're finished? Heh. </p> <p> For anyone in the Portland area that might be interested in spending your July 4th this year helping with a show, let me know and I will put you in touch with my friend Norm at <a href="http://www.westerndisplay.com" target="_blank">Western Display</a> and he'll probably be able (and glad) to set you up to assist with a show somewhere. Or, if you want to join me in Walla Walla for a couple days and don't mind making the hike over there, let me know as well and we'll see what we can work out. Or if you're in Walla Walla, even better. I'll be making a three-day deal out of it, including travel and setup and stuff. My cell phone is 503-970-1753. Call or text me. And you can find out a little more about what's involved in being a crew member&nbsp;<a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/NoSetPlansForJuly4thComeBlowSomeBigStuffUpWithMeLegallyEven.aspx">at this link from a show last year</a>&nbsp;as well as the links above. </p> <p> Ker-freakin-boom. Heh. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,910e995e-7a8e-4020-8cea-4166e65cea67.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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As I mentioned recently, I went to a sleep study center a couple weeks ago and stayed overnight, where I learned I have an apnea problem. A couple days ago I returned to the sleep center to spend another night, this time with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine and a mask. It was in interesting night.

A little pill helped me fall asleep that night, but throughout the night I woke up from the weirdness of the mask on my face. Sometime in the middle of the night I had a pretty bad "mouth leak," meaning my mouth was opening so the air pressure from the machine and mask over my nose was flowing right out my mouth. So the technician came in and put a chin strap contraption on me, which was a bit too much - I have to say I felt like I was in a head cage or something.

But it did work - Even with the interruptions, I felt noticeably more refreshed than ever the next day as I drove to work and went about my daily work routine. I also had some super-crazy dreams on that first night with a CPAP machine at the sleep center, ones which I actually remembered. And that pretty much never happens to me these days. My doc told me my REM sleep (deep sleep where you dream) was pretty much too broken up to be of any good to me based on the number of apnea episodes I was having, so he was not surprised at the dreams, or the intensity/craziness. He said there's a theory of REM rebound, where a person who has had badly fragmented sleep suddenly is able to enter extended REM sleep, so the brain has a lot of clutter to clean up and the dreams can be intense or active.

I was sent home with a CPAP machine (actually it's a BIPAP machine that has a humidifier - more on that later) and a couple different masks to use. One of them is very small and fits under the nose, and the other one is more of a traditional full-face mask. I tried the nasal pillow model last night with limited success (it made the lower bridge of my nose pretty sore by morning), so tonight I am trying the mask that covers both the nose and mouth in hopes it will provide better results since I am told I am a "mouth breather." It turns out there are a lot of masks out there, with new ones coming out all the time, so it's a matter of trying them til you find the one that works best for you. Most take some getting used to, they say.

At some point here I'll get all geeky and write about the hardware and what it does (the BiPAP machine is computerized and has a smart card like thing that I can pull out and take to the doc so he can see how well I am doing on the machine - pretty cool). I'm lucky to have really good health care insurance that recognizes the preventative value of this stuff and covers the significant majority of the equipment cost

Any CPAP tricks out there that people know of? How long did it take people to adjust, I wonder?



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Sleeping with a mask - giving CPAP a try http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,74213389-f11f-4f41-a3a9-b58d8d0037b2.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/SleepingWithAMaskGivingCPAPATry.aspx Fri, 01 Jun 2007 06:25:07 GMT <p> As I <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/FirstSleepStudyResultsApneaAndCPAP.aspx">mentioned recently</a>, I went to a sleep study center a couple weeks ago and stayed overnight, where I learned I have an apnea problem. A couple days ago I returned to the sleep center to spend another night, this time with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine and a mask. It was in interesting night. </p> <p> A little pill helped me fall asleep that night, but throughout the night I woke up from the weirdness of the mask on my face. Sometime in the middle of the night I had a pretty bad "mouth leak," meaning my mouth was opening so the air pressure from the machine and mask over my nose was flowing right out my mouth. So the technician came in and put a chin strap contraption&nbsp;on me, which was a bit too much - I have to say I felt like I was in a head cage or something. </p> <p> But it <em>did</em> work - Even with the interruptions, I felt noticeably more refreshed than ever the next day as I drove to work and went about my daily work routine. I also had some super-crazy dreams on that first night with a CPAP machine at the sleep center, ones which I actually remembered. And that pretty much never happens to me these days. My doc told me my REM sleep (deep sleep where you dream) was pretty much too broken up to be of any good to me based on the number of apnea episodes I was having, so he was not surprised at the dreams, or the intensity/craziness. He said there's a theory of REM rebound, where a person who has had badly fragmented sleep suddenly is able to enter extended REM sleep, so the brain has a lot of clutter to clean up and the dreams can be intense or active. </p> <p> I was sent home with a CPAP machine&nbsp;(actually it's a BIPAP machine that has a humidifier - more on that later) and a couple different masks to use. One of them is very small and fits under the nose, and the other one is more of a traditional full-face mask. I tried the nasal pillow model last night with limited success (it made the lower bridge of my nose pretty sore by morning), so tonight I am trying the mask that covers both the nose and mouth in hopes it will provide better results since I am told I am a "mouth breather." It turns out there are a lot of masks out there, with new ones coming out all the time, so it's a matter of trying them til you find the one that works best for you. Most take some getting used to, they say. </p> <p> At some point here&nbsp;I'll get all geeky and write about the hardware and what it does (the BiPAP machine is computerized and has a smart card like thing that I can pull out and take to the doc so he can see how well I am doing on the machine - pretty cool). I'm lucky to have really good health care insurance that recognizes the preventative value of this stuff and&nbsp;covers the significant majority of the equipment cost </p> <p> Any CPAP tricks out there that people know of? How long did it take people to adjust, I wonder? </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,74213389-f11f-4f41-a3a9-b58d8d0037b2.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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Snoring and sleeping are two things that fall on a very short list of items that one cannot observe about oneself. Because of that, there's a strong tendency toward denial. It's a natural human tendency.

As I mentioned the other day, on Thursday night I went to a local sleep lab and spent the night there hooked up to a bunch of wires and stuff to find out what might be going on with me. I've been waking up tired for some time, feeling like I am getting little rest, etc. You can read more about that in the original post.

Anyhow, as you can sort of see in the bad-angle and bad-hair picture there on the right, I got a zillion wires, sensors and bands stuck to me (which it turns out was not as bad as people thought it would be) and fell asleep after spending the evening watching some TV and taking a Lunesta provided by the physician.

I remember waking up a few times throughout the night, which is pretty typical of me. Once the technician (who was very cool, by the way) had to come in and re-attach an airflow sensor that worked its way loose from my face, but overall I figured I slept as well as I do normally, or maybe even a little better than normal. I'll chalk that up to the pill.

The way the study worked was if you exhibit severe apnea within the first few hours they hook you up to a CPAP machine for the rest of the night. That didn't quite happen with me, so I was not woken up for that change of equipment. So in the morning I did the typical rationalization things and figured I was in the clear, no problems, must just be my head or something.

But when the doc came in the next morning (It's a great arrangement by the way - You fall asleep and the doctor shows up first thing so you don't have to come back for another office appointment), he showed me the data printouts and graphs from the night. Turns out I am waking up about 60 times an hour due to breathing problems - Apnea to be specific. People tend to be surprised by the facts since they can't observe it themselves, so when you can see your own stats and see that, hey look - I stopped breathing completely there for like 5 or 10 seconds and then make a loud snore and took a huge gasping set of breaths... My blood oxygen level dropped to like 80% in many cases. Well, let's just say the evidence speaks for itself.

I actually remembered waking up maybe 4 times or so because that's how many times I was awake long enough to form a memory and to become fully lucid, the doc explained. The other several hundred times were enough to be awake but not long enough to remember.

According to the doc I have at least moderate sleep apnea. Because I shifted off my back to sleep my side for most of the night, the apnea signs were probably not as bad as they would have been otherwise (it tends to be worse if you are positioned on your back, and during the time I was on my back the data shows it was in fact worse).

Apnea is simply the closing of your airway while you breathe during sleep. When you sleep your body relaxes, and that includes the muscles that shape the upper part of your airway (the part above the Adams apple is flexible, the rest is rigid). If the airway closes you get no air. If you get no air the brain is not happy. If the brain is not happy it wakes you up to move the muscles needed in order to open the airway. If this happens often enough, you never get long enough sleep to enter that REM phase, or deep sleep, which is needed to get "real" rest, or restorative sleep. And if that happens you have to deal with the problems of sleep deprivation. As mentioned earlier, you don't wake up long enough to remember anything, so it's hard to know when this is happening unless someone else sees it and knows what to look (and listen) for.

My doc said to think of the collapsing airway as being similar to the effect of trying to suck a milkshake through a straw: The straw collapses from the negative pressure and nothing can get through. The same is true for the throat for many people. That's really what snoring is - a collapsing or blocked airway.

So, long story short (too late), I will be going back to the sleep study place in a couple weeks for one more night, during which they'll hook me up to a CPAP machine. That stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It's a thing you wear on your face to blow some air into your airway to maintain enough positive pressure there to keep the airway open. I have spoken over the past few days will a surprisingly large number of people (some of whom commented here) who tell me they use a CPAP machine when they sleep and it's changed their lives. Well, worth a try then I guess. I have to admit I am not thrilled about the idea of wearing a mask when I sleep (it seems to me to be such a tied-down option) but I will try it if it might help. You never know.

More in a couple weeks, after the next phase of this whole deal is complete. Meanwhile if you ever need to do the sleep study thing, Oregon Sleep Associates is a good group of professional people and the sleep center is nice - not at all hospital like and easy to relax in. My doc's name is Scott Fromherz, MD and he's great at explaining things and answering questions. Definitely recommended if you find yourself needing a place to fulfill the need.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. First sleep study results - Apnea and CPAP http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,36754708-1a3c-47da-ac14-11fcc5964306.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/FirstSleepStudyResultsApneaAndCPAP.aspx Sun, 20 May 2007 15:44:12 GMT <p> Snoring and sleeping are two things that fall on a very short list of items that one cannot observe about oneself. Because of that, there's a strong tendency toward denial. It's a natural human tendency. </p> <p> As I <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/DoingTheSleepStudyThingTonight.aspx">mentioned the other day</a>, on Thursday night I went to a local sleep lab and spent the night there hooked up to a bunch of wires and stuff to find out what might be going on with me. I've been waking up tired for some time, feeling like I am getting little rest, etc. You can read more about that in the original post. </p> <p> <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/Firstsleepstudyresults_6E23/gregsleepstudy17.jpg" atomicselection="true"><img style="border-top-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 15px 15px; border-right-width: 0px" height="192" src="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/content/binary/WindowsLiveWriter/Firstsleepstudyresults_6E23/gregsleepstudy_thumb11.jpg" width="240" align="right" border="0"></a> Anyhow, as you can sort of see in the bad-angle and bad-hair picture there on the right, I got a zillion wires, sensors and bands&nbsp;stuck to me (which it turns out was not as bad as people thought it would be) and fell asleep after spending the evening watching some TV and taking a Lunesta provided by the physician. </p> <p> I remember waking up a few times throughout the night, which is pretty typical of me. Once the technician (who was very cool, by the way) had to come in and re-attach an airflow&nbsp;sensor that worked its way loose from my face, but overall I figured I slept as well as I do normally, or maybe even a little better than normal. I'll chalk that up to the pill. </p> <p> The way the study worked was if you exhibit severe apnea within the first few hours they hook you up to a CPAP machine for the rest of the night. That didn't quite happen with me, so I was not woken up for that change of equipment. So in the morning I did the typical rationalization things and figured I was in the clear, no problems, must just be my head or something. </p> <p> But when the doc came in the next morning (It's a great arrangement by the way - You fall asleep and the doctor shows up first thing so you don't have to come back for another office&nbsp;appointment), he showed me the data printouts and graphs&nbsp;from the night. Turns out I am waking up about 60 times an hour due to breathing problems - Apnea to be specific. People tend to be surprised by the facts since they can't observe it themselves, so when you can see your own stats and see that, hey look - I stopped breathing completely there for like 5 or 10 seconds and then make a loud snore and took a huge gasping set of breaths... My blood oxygen level dropped to like 80% in many cases. Well, let's just say the evidence speaks for itself. </p> <p> I actually remembered waking up maybe 4 times or so because that's how many times I was awake long enough to form a memory and to become fully lucid, the doc explained. The other several hundred times were enough to be awake but not long enough to remember. </p> <p> According to the doc I have at least moderate sleep apnea. Because I shifted off my back to sleep my side for most of the night, the apnea signs were probably not as bad as they would have been otherwise (it tends to be worse if you are positioned on your back, and during the time I was on my back the data shows it was in fact worse). </p> <p> Apnea is simply the closing of your airway while you breathe during sleep. When you sleep your body&nbsp;relaxes, and that includes the muscles that shape the upper part of your airway (the part above the Adams apple is flexible, the rest is rigid).&nbsp;If the airway closes you get no air. If you get no air the brain is not happy. If the brain is not happy it wakes you up to move the muscles needed in order to open the airway. If this happens often enough, you never get long enough sleep to enter that REM phase, or deep sleep, which is needed to get "real" rest, or restorative sleep. And if that happens you have to deal with the problems of sleep deprivation. As mentioned earlier, you don't wake up long enough to remember anything, so it's hard to know when this is happening unless someone else sees it and knows what to look (and listen) for. </p> <p> My doc said to think of the collapsing airway as being similar to the effect of trying to suck a milkshake through a straw: The straw collapses from the negative pressure and nothing can get through. The same is true for the throat for many people. That's really what snoring is - a collapsing or blocked airway. </p> <p> So, long story short (too late), I will be going back to the sleep study place in a couple weeks for one more night, during which they'll hook me up to a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_positive_airway_pressure" target="_blank">CPAP machine</a>. That stands for <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_positive_airway_pressure" target="_blank">Continuous Positive Airway Pressure</a>. It's a thing you wear on your face to blow some air into your airway to maintain enough positive pressure there to keep the airway open. I have spoken over the past few days will a surprisingly large number of people (some of whom <a href="http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,4575f031-381e-4d3e-8bb5-5e62567bfb35.aspx#commentstart">commented here</a>) who tell me they use a CPAP machine when they sleep and it's changed their lives. Well, worth a try then I guess. I have to admit I am not thrilled about the idea of wearing a mask when I sleep (it seems to me to be such a tied-down option) but I will try it if it might help. You never know. </p> <p> More in a couple weeks, after the next phase of this whole deal is complete. Meanwhile if you ever need to do the sleep study thing, <a href="http://www.oregonsleepassociates.com/" target="_blank">Oregon Sleep Associates</a> is a good group of professional people and the sleep center is nice - not at all hospital like and easy to relax in. My doc's name&nbsp;is Scott Fromherz, MD&nbsp;and he's great at explaining things and answering questions. Definitely&nbsp;recommended if you find yourself needing a place to fulfill the need. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,36754708-1a3c-47da-ac14-11fcc5964306.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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I snore. A lot. Or so I'm told, quite frequently. Years ago I used to go to the movies with my son and drift off to sleep in the theater, just to wake up to him laughing, usually along with the neighboring moviegoers, because I had started snoring and snorting myself awake.

Fast forward about eight years and I'm still snoring, still tired most of the time, and still being told by anyone who observes me sleeping that I snore. I have to believe them, I guess - I can't imagine there's some vast snoring accusation conspiracy that everyone I know has waged against me for that many years.

Recently I have even woke up suddenly catching my breath at the end of a loud snore. Ahh, proof. I often wake up tired and feeling heavy. I get morning headaches. Something's crappy feeling about all that. So I went to see a sleep specialist doctor after a couple people (my mom and someone I work with) both told me they found out they had a sleep apnea problem and got help via a sleep doc and study.

So here I am, sitting on a bed in the Oregon Sleep Associates sleep center in downtown Portland. They have five private rooms here and it's not like a hospital though. It's more like a hotel room. There's a TV and DVD player and the main unusual stuff is the video camera on the wall and all the boxes and wires and stuff over on one of the nightstands. In a few minutes someone will come in to "hook me up," meaning they'll be sticking EEG and EKG stuff to me, a microphone to record sleeping and breathing sounds, strap around my chest to measure breathing, and other stuff. Then they'll give me one of those Lunestas or something similar, and off to sleep I will go.

Tomorrow morning I will know more. If there's something related to my snoring or other sleep problems that are related to the physical symptoms I have, at least there will be options to maybe do something about it. If not, well then I will know it's time to find more ways to reduce stress I guess. Heh.

Have you ever done the sleep study thing? How did it go for you? I'll write more about my experiences once it's all said and done.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Doing the sleep study thing tonight http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,4575f031-381e-4d3e-8bb5-5e62567bfb35.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/DoingTheSleepStudyThingTonight.aspx Fri, 18 May 2007 04:32:32 GMT <p> I snore. A lot.&nbsp;Or so I'm told, quite frequently. Years ago I used to go to the movies with my son and drift off to sleep in the theater, just to wake up to him laughing, usually along with the neighboring moviegoers, because I had started snoring and snorting myself awake. </p> <p> Fast forward about eight years and I'm still snoring, still tired most of the time, and still being told by anyone who observes me sleeping that I snore. I have to believe them, I guess - I can't imagine there's some vast snoring accusation conspiracy that everyone I know has waged against me for that many years. </p> <p> Recently I have even woke up suddenly catching my breath at the end of a loud snore. Ahh, proof. I often wake up tired and feeling heavy. I get morning headaches. Something's crappy feeling about all that. So I went to see a sleep specialist doctor after a couple people (my mom and someone I work with) both told me they found out they had a sleep apnea problem and got help via a sleep doc and study. </p> <p> So here I am, sitting on a bed in the <a href="http://www.oregonsleepassociates.com/" target="_blank">Oregon Sleep Associates sleep center</a> in downtown Portland. They have five private rooms here and it's not like a hospital though. It's more like a hotel room. There's a TV and DVD player and the main unusual stuff is the video camera on the wall and all the boxes and wires and stuff over on one of the nightstands. In a few minutes someone will come in to "hook me up," meaning they'll be sticking EEG and EKG stuff to me, a microphone to record sleeping and breathing sounds, strap around my chest to measure breathing, and other stuff. Then they'll give me one of those Lunestas or something similar, and off to sleep I will go. </p> <p> Tomorrow morning I will know more. If there's something related to my snoring or other sleep problems that are related to the physical symptoms I have, at least there will be options to maybe do something about it. If not, well then I will know it's time to find more ways to reduce stress I guess. Heh. </p> <p> Have you ever done the sleep study thing? How did it go for you? I'll write more about my experiences&nbsp;once it's all said and done. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,4575f031-381e-4d3e-8bb5-5e62567bfb35.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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One of my favorite people in the whole world, Scott Hanselman, has launched a campaign to raise donation funds for Team Hanselman's goal of $50,000 in this year's Step Out to Fight Diabetes fund raising walk.

Last year, Scott's team raised around $12,000 on a goal of $10,000. This year Scott's pushed way ahead and has more than quadrupled that amount for the team's current goal. You can help! Go to:

    http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes/donate 

... and provide your assistance there. Here is what Scott has to say on his blog about the walk and the goal:

This year  Team Hanselman , led by myself and my wife, Mo, who had this whole idea, will be walking to fight diabetes on Oct 20h, 2007. We have set a goal of raising US$50,000. Crazy, huh?

If only 2500 of you, dear readers, gave US$20 to this cause, we've met our Team Goal. If only 1000 give US$50, well, you get the idea. If you can't donate, that's OK. Post about this on your blog, spread the URL http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes or put some of our Diabetes "Flair" on your site!

Last year this time, there were over 5000 people subscribing to this blog (for the technical content, I assume) - this year there are over 14,000.

Let's see what we can do to add to the pot. There are more than 14,000 daily viewers of this web site, as well - so if there is anything you can do to help, even just a couple bucks, please consider making a donation!

Read more about the walk, Scott's own motivation and battle with diabetes, and get all the details at Scott's site.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. Please help one of my all-time favorite people fight diabetes http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,5edc24cf-76ed-4c52-a5bd-616cc1a6968b.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PleaseHelpOneOfMyAlltimeFavoritePeopleFightDiabetes.aspx Fri, 13 Apr 2007 17:16:10 GMT <p> <a href="http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes" target="_new"><img style="margin: 0px 0px 10px 15px" height="225" src="http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes/HanselmanBadge225.png" width="225" align="right" border="0"></a>One of my favorite people in the whole world, <a href="http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes" target="_blank">Scott Hanselman</a>, has <a href="http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes" target="_blank">launched a campaign to raise donation funds</a> for Team Hanselman's goal of $50,000 in this year's Step Out to Fight Diabetes fund raising walk. </p> <p> Last year, Scott's team raised around $12,000 on a goal of $10,000. This year Scott's pushed way ahead and has more than quadrupled that amount for the team's current goal. You can help! Go to: </p> <p> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a title="http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes/donate" href="http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes/donate" target="_blank">http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes/donate</a>&nbsp; </p> <p> ... and provide your assistance there. Here is what Scott has to say on his blog about the walk and the goal: </p> <blockquote> <p> <em>This year&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes/donate" target="_blank"><em>Team Hanselman</em></a><em>, led&nbsp;by myself and my wife, Mo, who had this whole idea, will be walking to fight diabetes on Oct 20h, 2007.&nbsp;<strong>We have set a goal of raising US$50,000. </strong>Crazy, huh? </em> <p> <em><strong>If only 2500 of you, dear readers, gave US$20 to this cause, we've met our Team Goal. If only 1000 give US$50, well, you get the idea. If you can't donate, that's OK. Post about this on your blog, spread the URL </strong><strong><a href="http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes" target="_blank">http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes</a></strong><strong> or put some of our Diabetes "Flair" on your site!</strong> </em> <p> <em>Last year this time, there were over 5000 people subscribing to this blog&nbsp;(for the technical&nbsp;content, I assume) - this year there are over 14,000.</em> </p> </blockquote> <p> Let's see what we can do to add to the pot. There are more than 14,000 daily viewers of this web site, as well - so if there is anything you can do to help, even just a couple bucks, <a href="http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes/donate" target="_blank">please consider making a donation</a>! </p> <p> Read more about the walk, Scott's own motivation and battle with diabetes, and get all the <a href="http://www.hanselman.com/fightdiabetes" target="_blank">details at Scott's site</a>. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,5edc24cf-76ed-4c52-a5bd-616cc1a6968b.aspx Helping Others Personal Stories Random Stuff
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A few weeks ago I had to fly with a coworker down to Santa Barbara. It was a last-minute trip. Of course, if you absolutely have to fly somewhere for work at the drop of a hat in March, Santa Barbara's a pretty darn nice destination. Good weather, good food, interesting people. We spent almost all of our time there indoors, but we did get an evening outside to enjoy the nice weather and check out the town.

Anyhow, this particular story actually starts right about the time we arrived at the airport for our return flight back to Portland. My co-worker Matt and I finished up our work and dropped off our rental car. We headed for the terminal at the last minute. In the process, Matt found out first-hand why one shouldn't pack liquids in carry-on bags (heh).

Immediately we were faced with a departure delay. Now, I'm not sure what the rest of the world's experience is with SkyWest Airlines (a regional commuter airline that operates and flies the smaller aircraft fleet for the "bigs," in this case United Express), but my consistent experience over the past year is that they do a pretty poor job of being on time and they generally come across as semi-pro. They're just a bit too casual. By contrast, other regional carriers for United Express have always been quite professional and timely. Your mileage may vary, I suppose.

Anyhow, eventually the aircraft showed up from it's previous leg. When it came time to board the airplane, an E120 turboprop, we waited in line as instructed, like impatient school kids waiting with eager anticipation five minutes into a fifteen-minute recess to be told they can run onto the play field, staring out at our aircraft. Our anticipation was interrupted a few minutes later as we were ushered back indoors and directed to take a seat again. "They have to reboot or reset something or another with the airplane, but they didn't tell me what it was," the gate agent informed us. "We'll let you know when it's time to go." Breeds confidence. Nice.

No less than two minutes later they got us back up, hurried us back into line (by now it really did feel like first grade), rushed us to the airplane like a herd of cattle. I looked at my watch. We were nearly an hour behind schedule by now, and it was very unlikely we'd make our connecting flight in San Jose.

Fast forward about 45 minutes to our landing in San Jose and sure enough, we hit the ground five minutes after our connection had already left for Portland. Nice. We headed over to Alaska Airline's service desk (because that's who had the ticket for the flight we'd just missed) and the agent there quickly told us that she would not be able to help us find a flight, that we had to go down to United. There's probably some rule or something that says who has to deal with the ticketing that I am not aware of, but I can tell you that it seemed as if she really just didn't want to be bothered (although the lady standing next to her was quite nice) and was brushing us off without any real concern to the next counter, but what the heck. I'm a frequent flyer with United and have what they call "elite status" with them (I easily broke the 100,000 mile mark last year), so we marched with our bags in tow down to the United ticket desk.

That's where things changed. As it turned out, there were no more flights that night from San Jose to Portland (save an Alaska flight later that night, and I was not about to go back there). But the United desk agents jumped right in and saved the day. They hired a town car (on their dime) to drive Matt and me to the San Francisco International airport (a 40-minute drive) and got us on a flight to Portland that evening. Even better, we ended up in first class and got home the same day (it was late, but at least is was not a day later).

The fact is that traveling for work is not the super-fun thing that people who don't travel sometimes assume it is. More often than not I get to see airports, the insides of office buildings, hotel rooms and lobbies, and the scenic drives through often industrial areas from the airport to the hotel and back. Several months back I started to make a point of scheduling some extra time at my own expense in places where I know I would regret not seeing the sights and taking some time for myself (and Lord knows if I didn't take vacation time that way I would pretty much never get any).

But it's nice that all that flying means I can count on United to be there when things get tough. They may not have the most comfortable seats on their aircraft (Alaska's got them on that one for sure), but the people are consistently great and believe it or not they almost always get me there and back on time, even with all my flights that go through Chicago, which is pretty good in this day and age. So -- Thanks, United.

Do you have a favorite airline? If so, why?



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. It pays to be a frequent flyer - and a quick &quot;thank you&quot; to United Airlines http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,b49d0221-b632-4e71-8fab-f7450ab10d86.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/ItPaysToBeAFrequentFlyerAndAQuickQuotthankYouquotToUnitedAirlines.aspx Fri, 13 Apr 2007 16:24:43 GMT <p> A few weeks ago I had to fly with a coworker down to Santa Barbara. It was a last-minute trip. Of course, if you absolutely have to fly somewhere for work at the drop of a hat in&nbsp;March, Santa Barbara's a pretty darn nice destination. Good weather, good food, interesting people. We spent almost all of our time there indoors, but we did get an evening outside&nbsp;to enjoy the nice weather and check out the town. </p> <p> Anyhow, this particular story actually starts right about the time we arrived at the airport for our return flight back&nbsp;to Portland. My co-worker <a href="http://www.bit-shift.net" target="_blank">Matt</a> and I finished up our work and dropped off our rental car. We headed for the terminal at the last minute. In the process, Matt found out first-hand why one shouldn't pack liquids in carry-on bags (heh). </p> <p> Immediately we were faced with a departure delay. Now, I'm not sure what the rest of the world's experience is with SkyWest Airlines (a regional commuter airline that operates and flies the smaller aircraft fleet&nbsp;for the "bigs," in this case United Express), but my consistent experience over the past year is that they do a pretty poor job of being on time and they&nbsp;generally come across as semi-pro. They're just a bit too casual. By contrast, other regional carriers for United Express have always been quite professional and timely. Your mileage may vary, I suppose. </p> <p> Anyhow, eventually the aircraft showed up from it's previous leg. When it came time to board the airplane, an E120 turboprop, we waited in line as instructed,&nbsp;like impatient school kids waiting with eager anticipation five minutes into a&nbsp;fifteen-minute&nbsp;recess to be told they can run onto the play field, staring out at our aircraft. Our anticipation was interrupted a&nbsp;few minutes later as we were ushered back indoors and directed to take a seat again. "They have to reboot or reset something or another with the airplane, but they didn't tell me what it was," the gate agent informed us. "We'll let you know when it's time to go." Breeds confidence. Nice. </p> <p> No less than two minutes later they got us back up,&nbsp;hurried us back into line (by now it really <em>did</em> feel like first grade),&nbsp;rushed us&nbsp;to the airplane like a herd of cattle. I looked at my watch. We were nearly an hour behind schedule by now, and it was very unlikely we'd make our connecting flight in San Jose. </p> <p> Fast forward about 45 minutes&nbsp;to our landing&nbsp;in San Jose and sure enough, we hit the ground five minutes after our connection had already left for Portland. Nice. We headed over to Alaska Airline's service desk (because that's who had the ticket for the flight we'd just missed) and the agent there quickly told us that she would not be able to help us find a flight, that we had to go down to United. There's probably some rule or something that says who has to deal with the ticketing that I am not aware of, but I can tell you that it seemed as if she really just didn't want to be bothered (although the lady standing&nbsp;next to her was quite nice) and was brushing us off without any real concern&nbsp;to the next counter, but what the heck. I'm a frequent flyer with United and have what they call "elite status" with them (I easily broke the 100,000 mile mark last year), so we marched with our bags in tow down to the United ticket desk. </p> <p> That's where things changed. As it turned out, there were no more flights that night from San Jose to Portland (save an Alaska flight later that night, and I was not about to go back there). But the United desk agents jumped right in and saved the day. They hired a town car (on their dime) to drive Matt and me to the San Francisco International airport (a 40-minute drive) and got us on a flight to Portland that evening. Even better, we ended up in first class and got home the same day (it was late, but at least is was not a day later). </p> <p> The fact is that traveling for work is not the super-fun thing that people who don't travel sometimes assume it is. More often than not I get to see airports, the insides of office buildings, hotel rooms and lobbies, and the scenic drives through often industrial areas from the airport to the hotel and back. Several months back I started to make a point of scheduling some extra time at my own expense in places where I know I would regret not seeing the sights and taking some time for myself&nbsp;(and Lord knows if I didn't take vacation time that way I would pretty much never get any). </p> <p> But it's nice that all that flying means I can count on United to be there when things get tough. They may not have the most comfortable seats on their aircraft (Alaska's got them on that one for sure), but the people are consistently great and believe it or not they almost always get me there and back on time, even with all my flights that go through Chicago, which is pretty good in this day and age. So -- Thanks, United. </p> <p> Do you have a favorite airline? If so, why? </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,b49d0221-b632-4e71-8fab-f7450ab10d86.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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Exactly forty years ago my mom and dad brought me into this world. As I recall (from their stories, not from personal memory), my dad went to park the car and by the time he got to the delivery room I was already in preschool (not really, but it was a very fast delivery and dad actually got there real quick). I'm told that when they handed me to my mom, I peed in her face, and the rest is history. What a great way to kick things off, eh?

It's been quite an interesting journey so far, with lots of life lessons, trials, tribulations, successes, fun and great experiences. I am blessed by the many terrific people, friends and family members who are and have been a part of my life - and for that I am truly grateful. Thanks everyone. I only hope I can give as much back.

I suppose it's just about time for a mid-life crisis, so... I think I will sell my motorcycle. How's that for backwards? And the spur of the moment trip I made this past weekend to Las Vegas with my good friend (and with less than an hour's notice)... Well, lets just try for a bit more of that kind of fun.

Mostly it's just another day, and it's always nice to keep adding those on - one at a time. I don't plan to do anything particularly special, other than to maybe getting outside and enjoying the day for a while and hanging around people I work with and a couple friends.

Maybe I should shave my head or get (another) tattoo or something?

Or maybe not. Heh.

Here's to another forty, if I'm lucky enough.



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. I am officially old now http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,e3ef7ede-a7a7-40a9-bd36-e556059ee48a.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/IAmOfficiallyOldNow.aspx Wed, 11 Apr 2007 07:09:41 GMT <p> Exactly forty years ago my mom and dad brought me into this world. As I recall (from their stories, not from personal memory), my dad went to park the car and by the time he&nbsp;got to the delivery room I was already in preschool (not really, but it was a very fast delivery and dad actually&nbsp;got there real quick).&nbsp;I'm told that when they handed me to my mom, I peed in her face, and the rest is history. What a great way to kick things off, eh? </p> <p> It's been quite an interesting journey so far, with lots of life lessons, trials, tribulations, successes, fun&nbsp;and great experiences. I am blessed by the many terrific people, friends&nbsp;and family members&nbsp;who are and have been a part of&nbsp;my life&nbsp;-&nbsp;and for that I am truly grateful. Thanks everyone. I only hope I can give as much back. </p> <p> I suppose it's just about time for a mid-life crisis, so... I think I will sell my motorcycle. How's that for backwards? And the spur of the moment trip I made this past weekend to Las Vegas with my good friend (and with less than an hour's notice)... Well, lets just try for a&nbsp;bit more of that kind of fun. </p> <p> Mostly it's just another day, and it's always nice to keep adding those on -&nbsp;one at a time. I don't plan to do anything particularly special, other than to maybe getting outside and enjoying the day for a while and hanging around people I work with and a couple friends. </p> <p> Maybe I should shave my head or get (another) tattoo or something? </p> <p> Or maybe not. Heh. </p> <p> Here's to another forty, if I'm lucky enough. </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,e3ef7ede-a7a7-40a9-bd36-e556059ee48a.aspx Personal Stories Random Stuff
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We all have tell-tale signs that the level of difficulty, stress, work or just plain old "stuff" is too high. Maybe we spout off, maybe we forget things - It's different for all of us.

For me it happened on Sunday: I got in my truck, drove down the driveway, turned right and headed for town. A few minutes into the drive something just didn't seem right, and after trying for several seconds to put my brain on what was amiss, I realized I was still wearing my slippers. Luckily I had fresh socks on and shoes in the car. Heh.

Ever done funny or crazy things thanks to the amount of active clutter going on in your brain and life? Here's your chance to admit it. :)



greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a Creative Commons License. How do you know when *this* much is *too* much? http://www.greghughes.net/rant/PermaLink,guid,2ebdda76-115b-42bb-b630-e5ce4cb0fdeb.aspx http://www.greghughes.net/rant/HowDoYouKnowWhenThisMuchIsTooMuch.aspx Tue, 20 Mar 2007 20:12:41 GMT <p> We all have tell-tale signs that the level of difficulty, stress, work or just plain old "stuff" is too high. Maybe we spout off, maybe we forget things - It's different for all of us. </p> <p> For me it happened on Sunday: I got in my truck, drove down the driveway, turned right and headed for town. A few minutes into the drive something just didn't seem right, and after trying for several seconds to put my brain on&nbsp;what was amiss,&nbsp;I realized I was still wearing my slippers. Luckily I had fresh socks on and shoes in the car. Heh. </p> <p> Ever done funny or crazy things thanks to the amount of active clutter going on in your brain and life? Here's your chance to admit it. :) </p> <br /> <hr /> <font size="1">greghughes.net weblog - copyright 2009 - licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons License</a>.</font> http://www.greghughes.net/rant/CommentView,guid,2ebdda76-115b-42bb-b630-e5ce4cb0fdeb.aspx Humor Personal Stories Random Stuff