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life

2013 plus 1

Now, with little light remaining in the last day of 2013, seems like a good time to review the year. Challenges always stick in our memory—money has been too tight for our tastes and we’re all itching for a real vacation away from home—easy painful memories, but I want to focus on the good things we have enjoyed.
My wife has worked a couple of jobs here and there since resigning in July 2011 to earn her master’s degree, but has not enjoyed employment. That changed several weeks ago when she was hired to do work she is passionate about. She makes me proud for sticking to her principles and finding work she loves in a gasping job market. I am ever thankful that she agreed to spend her life with a bum like me.
Our oldest daughter started college in the fall at a balmy south Georgia campus where she is doing great. Her grades are hanging in there after her first semester (which is more than I can say about my own college experience) and she has lots of friends on campus and was invited to join the ΑΣΑ sorority. For now, she has declared a major in criminal justice with some thoughts of going into law.
Our two youngest are still doing great in high school; definitely in the top half (third?) of their respective classes. Great Scott, our sophomore will probably get her driver’s license next month with with her younger brother getting a learner’s permit after his birthday in the spring. They both have a bumpy ride toward learning how to be personally responsible and respectful of others, though they are learning (kicking and screaming the whole way). One of favorite TV characters, Ron Swanson[1] from the show Parks and Recreation, summed up responsibility and respect better than I can.

You know what makes a good person good? When a good person does something bad, they own up to it. They try to learn something from it and move on. Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation

They aren’t the only ones with lessons left to learn. I need to find my center and be more patient to be a better parent and husband. My biggest failure as an adult and parent is my broken relationship with my oldest son. It took both of us to reach the point we did while butting heads before he turned 18 and struck out on his own. The last time I saw him was during an awkward visit on my birthday in 2009. I love him and miss him, and want to be a better father to all of my kids.

New Year Rising

My hope is the new year will bring health, hope, and good luck to me and my family. Yours too.
My wife and I will turn 42[2] this year. As a feisty young whippersnapper, 42 sounded ancient. Now, I know I was wrong. While I’m not as spry as my younger self and surely need to lose about a third of my weight, I’m still learning and maturing while accumulating the wisdom that can only come with time.
As an inveterate nerd, I have been poking around in several computer languages.[3] My plan is to become somewhat proficient in a couple of those with a good working knowledge of the rest, because doing so furthers my ultimate, if vague, plans.
You see, for years I wanted to be a Writer. In my early 20s, I played the traditional role of drunk tortured writer, perpetually scribbling bad poetry and nonsense with fancy pens in a journal while writing very little. Then, I was hired as a journalist and wrote a lot, complaining all the while how I was so tired of writing for work that I couldn’t write for me. After my stint with print journalism, I migrated to public communications. There is a lot to love in my current job and I’m pretty good at it; however, I stubbornly remain a computer jockey at heart and want to be a professional nerd when I grow up.
Also, read less news and more books, and *groan* write more.
OK then. So, 2014 is going to be a year of growth and learning for me. Thanks again to my wife’s support for my crazy ideas and steady support so we can enjoy this exciting year coming straight at us. Strap yourself in for a Happy New Year everyone. I hope this is your year to shine.


  1. Swanson’s wisdom goes straight to the point like some amalgamation of the Dalai Lama, Yoda, and Yogi Berra.  ↩
  2. The number 42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and that has to be a good thing. Right?  ↩
  3. LaTeX, Perl, python, and some PHP with a dash of CSS and JavaScript for the web.  ↩
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Coffee

Coffee

My “go juice” during the work week is brewed in a drip machine from a prepacked filter pod of standard issue name brand coffee. Those who capture a cup with the last drops dripping from the coffeemaker may get a decent cup, but the odds aren’t good. More likely, java drinkers will find a half-full pot of coffee scorching on a burner burning a little too hot.

After five days of “work coffee,” the weekend brings with it a special treat. Each Saturday and Sunday morning begins with three cups of steaming black coffee rich with aroma and natural oils. My weekend coffee is as much of a treat as a candy bar or milkshake. The recipes are so similar, hot water and ground coffee, yet the results are so different.

Here’s a look at the differences as I see them.

Office Coffee: Preparation

Rip the metallic bag open and place one pod of coffee in the basket. You don’t need a filter; each serving is conveniently wrapped in its own paper filter. Place a glass carafe underneath, turn on the burner, and pour water into the top of the machine. Wait five to 10 minutes and pour a cup of hot coffee.

Office Coffee: Observerations

Looks like hot black water. The taste reminds you of coffee and the metallic smell reminds you the weekend is never more than five days away.

Weekend Coffee: Preparation

Pour filtered water into a kettle and bring to a boil on the stove. While you wait, place coffee beans in the grinder, but don’t grind them yet! The kettle’s whistle is your cue to grind. Slowly pour the hot water over the ground coffee you placed in the glass carafe of your French press. Give it a quick stir, put the lid on, and wait four minutes. Gently press the grounds to the bottom and pour a steaming cup of coffee.

Weekend Coffee: Observations

An irridescent sheen glimmers on tanned bubbles across the surface in your cup. The rich aroma enhances the flavor to help you relish two precious days out of the office.

My weekend coffee

Cook like a caveman

In my culinary experience, the more old-fashioned the better. Cooking in a microwave is quick, but food has a better taste when cooked in the oven or on the stove. The best flavor comes when you are able to cook over an open flame. The closer you come to cooking like a caveman, the better your meals taste. Maybe that’s why the paleo diet appeals to me so much.

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Family

Julie has been in Missouri for the past five days at a work-related conference. The kids have been in Florida at SuperWow with their friends at church since Monday morning. I have been home by myself–just me and the dogs–since Monday morning.

On top of all that, we started working our short weeks at work. During the summer we work four 10’s and take Fridays off. The three-day weekends are terrific, but when you take a new work schedule and add everyone being out of town, it’s been a weird week.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. –American proverb

The buses carrying the kids are probably getting close to home and Julie is on an airplane now winging her way back. I’m not going to deny that it’s nice to have private time to find my focus. It’s nicer to know that while I’m home by myself I’m never alone and our family will be reunited soon.