Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fatherhood Day 187

I am truly dreading the day when a smile from me won't automatically be responded to in kind. I know it's coming - just hoping to hold on a little longer...

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving at the Bonners' house

Since we weren't going anywhere or having any family in town for Thanksgiving, we decided to have some friends from work over to celebrate the holiday (and pool resources on trimmings). It's always nice to see family of course, but some of the best holiday's I've had have been spent with friends, and this Thanksgiving was no different...thanks to Jay Karr for showing how an actual professional photographer does it by the way...

Next Thanksgiving Macias can eat dinner with us!

We aren't supposed to be watching TV but...the game is on!

Look kids - it's Brian Dearth!

Allison slaved away in the kitchen all day...

Jake Vrabel showing Macias his book of trains

I made the gravy. Well, I stirred the gravy anyway...

Thankfully an expert Turkey carver came over...

The menu

Umm...who let this guy in here?

My favorite: gotta go with the Sweet Potato Casserole.

Taking a break before dessert...

Macias had never seen someone from California before...

It's not turkey and stuffing but...

Jake likes the Bonner's house - we have lots of cool toys...

Like Lightsabers

Darth Dearth

Leeann prepares for battle...

Jake turns to the Dark Side and must be stopped...

Then he turns back to the good side a few minutes later

Battle of the nerds...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fatherhood - Day 166

Today as Mommy was walking out the door on her way to work she told Daddy to clean Macias' left eye, which was pretty goopy. Well Daddy and Macias got to playing and were having such a good time that Daddy forgot what Mommy told him. So Macias went down for his nap, and Daddy drove him to day care. When he got there and Macias woke up, he could only open one eye as the other one had completely crusted over. Well, Daddy felt really terrible that he forgot to clean Macias' left eye because Macias looked so sad only being able to open his right eye. After getting him out of his car seat he asked Macias' teacher for a warm cloth. Even though his teacher said she would do it, Daddy still felt like crap so he insisted on cleaning Macias' left eye himself. So Daddy put Macias in his crib and cleaned out his left eye...when Macias finally opened his left eye for the first time in more than an hour, the first thing his left eye saw was Daddy - and he gave Daddy the biggest smile he had ever given him. Daddy was so happy that he picked up Macias and they played together right in the middle of his classroom and Daddy was 15 minutes late to work.

And Daddy didn't care one bit.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A night at the symphony

Allison and I left Macias with Grandma Patty and went to see Star Wars in Concert in Greenville on Thursday night. The show was excellent, there were several of the original props and costumes on display and lots of little Ewoks and Stromtroopers running around. I thought I'd share some video for the two people who might care...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom

Sixty-One years ago today my Mother was born and the world became a much better place. I am continuously amazed by her strength and toughness, her ability to handle every punch life has thrown at her (and life has landed some real haymakers) and always get back up off the mat every time. In addition, she taught me left from right, right from wrong, how to drive, how to treat a lady, a respect for life in all its forms and a million other big and small things that made me into the person I am today. It also puts my mind at ease to know that she will be there to help me with the most difficult challenge I'll ever have - doing as good a job raising my son as she did raising hers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My other baby

Seven years, one month and fourteen days after I came home from the Beaufort Toyota dealership with her, she's finally mine - the title arrived in the mail today. There was no great rejoicing at paying off the loan, mostly because I won't be saving any money as I have substituted one stupid-big monthly payment with another in the form of Macias' day care. Still, even though in reality she's been mine from the beginning, it does feel good to officially call her my own. She has gotten me out of more scrapes than I can even remember (though the time she went 90-degrees sideways in less than a second to avoid a head-on from a Ryder moving truck that had crossed into my lane stands out) and is now charged with keeping my son safe every morning as well. Despite it being difficult (to say the least) getting the car seat in and out, there is still no ride I'd rather have.

I mean, I might trade her in for the Batmobile, but that's about it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Macias....still cute.

Always happy after his bottle...

Watching the game while checking his Twitter feed...

Possibly too much stimulation from his Posiden's Adventure activity mat...

Camouflage baby is camouflaged....

Well yes, he does have some big shoes to fill thank you...

Aww Mom....

The mirror is a window to the soul...and drool...

Friday, October 23, 2009

The seven types of people you meet during a network meltdown at a Newspaper

It's the one thing that keeps IT folk awake at night - the total collapse of the network. Hard drives die, you have a backup. End user does something stupid, you can easily fix while possibly making them feel bad about themselves. Server crashes - who cares? The clone you made last month will have it back up in an hour tops. But when it's the network, all bets are off.

Now I'm no Network admin, but spend enough time around one and you can't help but pick up lots of knowledge. I can ping, traceroute and ssh till I'm blue in the face, but when the network goes down my role becomes the gopher for the real network gurus. Anyway, I mention this because about once every 18 months or so, our internal network will get totally FUBAR'd and we have to sneakernet our way to getting the paper out. Yesterday was just such an occurrence, as something went horribly, horribly wrong at around Noon and all of the sudden every user was without a network connection. The details are unimportant, and we did eventually get going again at about 7PM, but as I've now lived through three or four of these near-disasters during my time at the Packet I find that no matter the circumstances, I always see the same people. The names and faces may change, but when their precious Facebook e-mail is taken away from them the people are the same…

Type 1 - The freaked-out Copy Editor
After first taking a pot-shot at you for not being more communicative about the situation (even when you a) have no idea what the situation is and b) they wouldn't understand it if you told them anyway) the freaked out Copy Editor springs into action, making plans about early deadlines and writing things down that always include a "Stet" where they probably didn't need one.

Type 2 - The laid-back Sports Editor
He knows there's trouble, but he also knows you're doing your best and only needs enough information to know if he can get his pages out. He may even ask if there's anything he can do to help which makes you stop and say "Damn those Sports guys are cool!"...

Type 3 - The completely-oblivious Ad Rep
The network is down so they can't e-mail you to "ask" if they can turn in their late ads, and of course your phone system is all VOIP so they can't call you either. Nothing left to do then but to come up to your office in groups of two or three and give you the same three excuses ("I wasn't in yesterday" or "the client said they couldn't get a hold of me" or "I forgot to write up the ad") that you've heard one million times and stopped buying 999,992 times ago. Then, neither realizing nor caring that because of their late ad once you get done fixing the network problem you will have to re-dummy a section you did yesterday, they have the nerve to tell you to "Have a great day!"….

Type 4 - The snarky Entertainment section Editor
Though I've only known two of them in my time at the Packet, their reactions to network meltdowns were the same - they both come to your desk to say only half-jokingly "What have you done?"...you see as the "Internet" person in their field of vision, you and you alone are responsible for their sudden lack of access to social media, and if they could get away with bashing your skull in with a baseball bat they would.

Type 5 - The Investigative Reporter
Always ready to uncover the next Watergate, the intrepid Investigative Reporter lurks in the shadows, hoping to overhear a juicy quote from IT like "it will be back up in ten minutes" or "it's completely hosed and I have no idea how we're going to get a paper out" that they can then run with. They don't actually talk to you, because they don't actually talk to any of their co-workers who isn't also a Investigative Reporter, but you know they're there - ready to pounce.

Type 6 - The-sketchy-outside-vendor-guy-who-was-in-your-server-room-before-the-network-imploded-doing-who-knows-what
He's here to work on his company's systems. He's got the key to your server room because that's where his servers are. He obviously knows what he's doing….with his systems. But what if if his systems are interacting somehow with your systems? And what if he makes a seemingly benign change to his systems without realizing that it may impact your systems? Of course when the network has imploded and you go looking for him to ask if there was any chance he might have done something by accident, he gets defensive and tells you, step-by-83-steps what he was doing. I'm not saying you hosed my network dude, I'm just saying it's been running fine for years and YOU are the only out of the ordinary thing going on around here...

Type 7 - The employee who makes a big show of doing nothing because his computer is down
My personal favorite - these are the people who stare at you when you walk into the room, waiting to be told they can get to work. If you don't tell them they can get to work, they will just sit there, talking amongst themselves and eating microwave popcorn. They simply cannot conceive of a universe where they might actually go looking for something else to do that would help out the company until their usual responsibilities return. Take out the trash? Nah. Clean up their messy desk? Nope. Mop their messy floor? Yeah right. They are there to do their job, not to lift one additional finger - and if they had to do more they would EXPECT to be paid for it, despite the fact they knowingly work for an industry that is on death's doorstep.

So there you have it - the seven types of people I always see in some way, shape or form when the network goes down. It's uncanny really. It also makes me kind of want to get out of IT and go sell Apple products for a living. Sigh. Maybe in a few months years.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sick and tired

No, this isn't a post about my right-wing friends who cheer when America loses and piss and moan when it wins. Instead, it's about me recounting the last 9 days in which I have experienced every typical symptom associated with the Flu. Given that I rarely get sick since I'm so obsessive about germs, my guess is that Macias brought home the first of what will be undoubtedly be many illnesses from his day care. In his case, it doesn't appear to have gotten past the sniffles - in mine, I've had the typical sore throat, runny nose, sinus and chest congestion, cough, headache, fever, aches, pains and muscle weakness. Also, this all started the day I got my first ever flu shot, which I don't blame for the illness because a) it can't make you sick and b) I had the sore throat before the shot, but the illness may have lingered as my immune system was busy dealing with flu shot and forgot about what I already had. In any case, I thought I'd share a few observations about being sick…

1. Being sick sucks - having to work while being sick sucks more. With only two IT people left at work, when one of them is on vacation the other simply has to be there - sure enough, that was the case this week. Having no IT person in the building is simply not an option - this is exactly when the servers will undoubtedly crash and the whole organization will grind to a halt. I've kept my distance from as many people as possible, and to this point do not have appeared to infected anyone else.

2. Over the counter medicine is worthless. Now that I've been forced to take an interest, it turns out that a few years ago someone decided to make a little Meth using Pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient that actually makes NyQuill and Musinex worth a damn. Now you can't get anything with this stuff in it without having to go either behind the counter or get a prescription - but the drug makers are still happy to sell you their Pseudoephedrine-free product, even though it no longer does anything. Musinex, NyQuil, Theraflu and Robotussin will not relieve your symptoms - don't bother with them. You need to get the "D" versions of those products. Allison says it probably works in other people - right, because my body is clearly much, much different than everyone else's and I must be the one with the problem….

3. Speaking of Allison, she is just the best wife ever…when I'm healthy. Poor thing did her best to tolerate my illness this past week, but quotes like "are you ever going to be fun to be around again?" as well as general irritation around me seemed to indicate that her patience for sleeping on the fold-out couch had come to an end. She hasn't been sick (like, sick sick) since moving back to South Carolina from Idaho. When it finally does happen, I plan to take extra special care of her...

4. By far the worst thing about being sick was not being able to be around Mr. Macias. The Friday and Monday when I was really out of it and couldn't take him to school were especially lousy, since he and I always hang out in the mornings after Mommy leaves. I will feel a lot better when he reaches the six month mark and can get vaccinated. On the upside, getting exposed to these things now should help him down the line. Allison went to day care, got sick all the time and now is healthy as a horse - I didn't go to day care, didn't get sick until I was three years old, was constantly sick all through my school years and apparently can't fight off much of anything as an adult :(

5. You'd be amazed how many people said to me something to the effect of "Too bad you don't drink - all you need is three or four glasses of wine, then wrap yourself up in the biggest blanket you can find and you will sweat the flu out in no time". Does this actually work? To me it sounds a lot like the "put soap in the bedsheets to cure leg cramps" thing, but whatevs.

In conclusion, I appear to have survived my latest brush with death (hey, it felt like I was a goner for a while there) but remind me next year to postpone the flu shot unless I'm feeling 100%. For real.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Freaking out - parent style

I have been dreading the first time Macias gets sick - the feeling of being so sad that he hurts but doesn't understand why mixed with a complete inability on my part to do anything about it...not good. Last night he was coughing and sneezing a little more than usual, and some green stuff came out of his nose. He also woke up in the middle of the night crying, which he hasn't done for almost two months. So Allison and I went into full crisis mode - up in the middle of the night monitoring his sleep, taking his temperature, calling his day care to check on him, devising a plan as to which one of us was going to pick him up if they called and wanted him to go home, having his Pediatrician on speed dial, reading up on infant respiratory conditions - we were as ready as we were ever going to be.....

....which is why I feel a little silly at the moment because it appears he just had an incredibly severe, eight hour long case of....the sniffles.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Monday, September 14, 2009


"You choose your friends, you choose your enemies, but family - that's in the stars...."

That has always been one of my favorite quotes - I was reminded of why during our week-long vacation to Maryland and Virginia. We began in my hometown of Ocean City, Maryland (ok, it's not quite my hometown but it's the closest place anyone has heard of) for a few days, drove past my old stomping grounds and the house I grew up in, had funnel cake and fried twinkies on the Boardwalk, saw some ponies on Assateague Island and had some delicious white pizza at the world-famous Lombardis.

Sitting out on the porch of the family beach house we were staying in (which my Father built) the first night hit me with wave after wave of nostalgia. Even though I never spent much time at that particular house, I did spend many a weekend in the Ocean Pines neighborhood. They have similar issues with street lights that Hilton Head does, so it was very dark, save for the various porch lights. There was a wonderful breeze blowing and it was about 70 degrees - perfect weather. Between the smell of the pine trees on the wind, and the sounds of the frogs and crickets, it was as if I had stepped back through time. That, coupled with the massive growth in the area (Ocean Pines even has a Dunkin Donuts now!) it was enough to make me fantasize about returning one day, but only for a moment. The truth is even though it will always be my home, there isn't anyone or anything left there to bring me back.

After Ocean City we headed west, towards Kent Island on the Chesapeake Bay where my Grandfather lives, and where my other Grandfather built several houses in the 70's and 80's. He and his wife Diana gave us the grand tour, which included my Grandparents old house that was built in 1700 and the "worlds fourth largest Holly tree"! While there I also managed to blow Allison's mind by asking for and receiving a shot of Kahlua, which I for some reason had a very distinct memory of having before in that house, at an age no greater than 10. My Grandfather surmised that my Dad must have let me have a sip. Anyway, Macias got to meet his Great-Grandfather, and I got to see my Aunt Jordan and Aunt Cynthia for the first time in at least 15 years, and meet my cousins Peter, Justin and Molly for the first time.

Then we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on our way to Allison's Grandparents house in Warrenton, VA. The trip on the Washington D.C. beltway was pretty intense and made even more so by the precious cargo I was carrying. The 55 mph speed limit on that road must be some kind of joke - people were routinely passing me doing at least 90 mph. I guess that's just how the city folk do things....moving on, we arrived at Joan and Brooks house on Wednesday afternoon. The entire family was coming in for their 60th wedding anniversary party. Macias got to meet his Great-Grandparents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins - the whole works. Despite his Father being a little overwhelmed (my family can fit around a dinner table - Allison's....maybe 20 dinner tables) he was his usual awesome self, taking it all in and was of course the star of the show. My job was to stand there and make sure he had whatever he needed for continued cuteness.

We headed home on Sunday, having to make the drive in one day so that Macias could start at day care and Allison could start her first day back at work. Trying to keep up with the Broncos game with nothing but a Blackberry and AM radio was impossible, and apparently I missed one heck of a finish but we made finally made it.

Overall it was a wonderful trip and so great to see everyone - obviously there are times when your family can get on your nerves, but in the end they're the only people you can always count on. Macias is very lucky to have been born into such a wonderful family full of people who unconditionally love him. As for me, I'm not sure when I'll get back to Maryland again, but I doubt it will take me another seven years. It is, after all, home.

M & M swimming in the Emporia, VA Fairfield Inn's pool

Hopefully Macias will never need prescription shades like his old man...

The Bonner family beach house in Ocean Pines, MD

The view from the back deck of said Bonner beach house...

Macias, his Great-Grandfather and some nerdy guy...

The Bonner clan - clockwise from center: My Grandfather John, Aunt's Cynthia and Jordan, some woman holding a baby, my cousins Justin, Peter, Molly and John's wife Diana.

My Grandfathers house, built by my other Grandfather

View from the back deck - sunset over the Chesapeake Bay

Macias meeting his Grandfather for the first time

Snack time with Grandma Lynn!

Macias and his Great-Grandmother, Joan

A happy family...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Confessions of a family man

Allison and Macias have taken a mini-vacation to visit Grandma Debbie in Charlotte for a few days, and I find myself missing them both terribly. This is the first night I've spent away from my Son since he arrived, and although it's a whole lot more quiet around the house it still sucks. I keep expecting to hear him cry as he wakes up, but have to keep reminding myself that cry isn't coming for another few days. As for his lovely Mama, I have to say that I'm counting the minutes until she gets home too. While not a strange feeling, it is somewhat unusual in that as anyone who has been married for a long time will tell you, you miss the person but you do very much look forward to your alone time. Despite having several things I want to get accomplished with this break, I find that nothing worth doing is any fun without Mace and his Mom around to do it with. That being said, I'm sure Allison won't mind missing out on at least one item on my list of things to do while they're gone - seeing G.I. Joe...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Mace

He never did decide what to put in his first-ever shirt pocket.

What do little boys dream about? My guess: boobs.

Training camp starts Friday!