What I did on my summer vacation!

This past weekend had the family taking a quick trip out to Connecticut to visit my grandmother for her 90th birthday party, a surprise celebration my dad and aunts have benn putting together for a couple of years now.

We flew up to Hartford on Saturday and rented a car to drive down to New Haven/Orange where I scored a room at the Courtyard Marriott for about 35% of the regular rate, thanks to Moreno’s tips on how to make Priceline work for you.

We met my dad who was holding a spot in line at Frank Pepe’s while the rest of the gang showed up. After some waiting, my aunt and grandmother showed up. I walked across the street and asked my grandmother if I could help a little old lady across the street 🙂 After about half a second, it registered who asked her, and I got a big hug for my troubles after we got to the sidewalk. She had no idea we were coming to visit. A little later on, my brother showed up as well, on his way to Dublin. We got a table and had some great apizza. After the meal, our waitress got up and announced to the whole place that it was Bev’s 90th birthday and had them all sing. My grandmother told them all that her brother was one of the early customers of the place, and that she and her cousin were sitting in nearly the exact same spot when the radio came on to announce that President Roosevelt had died. Turns out the waitress was Frank Pepe’s granddaughter and that it’s still very much a family business, and they were honored to still have some one of their early customers. My grandmother promised to be back for her 100th.

The following day, more extended family gathered for another surprise at the Norm Bloom & Sons quay. My grandmother had been told that we were going to visit a “maritime museum”. After a little resistance from her and some convincing on my aunt’s part that she REALLY needed to come with us, she saw the extended family all wearing matching T-shirts for the occasion. As she’s digesting this and more family are trickling in, we take her around the back of the building where she sees the Catherine M. Wedmore, her grandfather’s oyster boat, set up for a Sunday afternoon cruise and picnic. The last time she’d seen the boat was 1951. It was sold by the Wedmores to the Blooms in the 1960s. 84 years after her maiden voyage, she’s still working the bay dredging for clams and oysters.

We have family footage of a similar sunday afternoon picnic, from 1940.

A reporter from the Stamford Advocate came along and wrote up a story.

Once out in the bay, we dropped one of the dredges and scooped up a bunch of fresh oysters, which were shucked and eaten. In one shell we found a small crab about the size of a dime rooming with one of the oysters. The girls had lots of fun meeting their 2nd cousin Adam (my Cousin Jeff’s son), and my cousin Catherine and her hubby gave my grandmother one more surprise, that she was going to have a fourth great-grandchild in February.

Lots of pictures were taken. Pics to follow.

Vacation Update!

I’ve been on vacation up in the great frozen cool north, in Calgary to visit my mom. My brother cashed in some of his frequent flier points to come visit as well. The story so far:

Thursday, 6/26: Arrived in Canada. Finished a novel. Got eaten by mosquitoes.

Friday, 6/27 : Went to the University to get some books for the girls and see my mom’s office. Took the girls to the wading pool. Bought some new hiking/work shoes. Got eaten by mosquitoes.

Saturday, 6/28 : Went hiking in Kananaskis Country, up Ribbon Creek. about 9km round trip, Faith walked the whole way. Went with a group of seniors from my mom’s church. Got left in the dust. These people go hiking nearly every week. Finished another novel. Got eaten by mosquitoes.

Sunday, 6/29 : Went to church with my mom. Met some of the hikers again. Finished another novel. Picked up my brother at the airport. Got eaten by mosquitoes.

Monday, 6/30: Made pilgrimage to IKEA. Lunch with my mom’s friends. Music night at my mom’s house. Finished another novel. Got eaten by mosquitoes.

Tuesday, 7/1 : Canada Day! Went downtown to the festivities on Prince’s Island. Went to see fireworks afterwards. Got eaten by mosquitoes.

Wednesday, 7/2 : Exhausted. Down day. Went to the city library to get some videos for the girls. Got eaten by mosquitoes.

Thursday, 7/3 : Went to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller. Went out for dinner and drinks with Andrea and my brother. Got eaten by mosquitoes.

Friday, 7/4 : Rested at home. Took the girls to the wading pool. Got eaten by mosquitoes. Introduced Andrea to Canadian Tire.

Saturday, 7/5: Spent the day at the Calgary Zoo Introduced Andrea to poutine. Caught evening service at Centre Street Church. Introduced girls to Tim Horton’s. Got eaten by mosquitoes.

Sunday, 7/6 plans: Stampede Breakfast at my mom’s church. Maybe get together with my godmother, as I haven’t seen her in years. Probably will get eaten by mosquitoes.

Monday, 7/7 plans: Meeting with Gregg, the IT Director at CSC to extend the hospitable hand of CITRT. Going to stampede events. Probably will get eaten by mosquitoes.

Tuesday, 7/8: Fly home. No mosquitoes, I hope.

Wednesday, 7/9: Back to the daily grind to try and fix everything that broke the second I stepped on the plane to Calgary. Rejoice in the lack of mosquitoes.

Canadian things to do:

  • Tim Horton’s
  • Poutine
  • Canadian Tire
  • Canada Day
  • IKEA (OK, not really Canadian, but we don’t have IKEA in KC)
  • Hockey (wrong season 🙁 )
  • Mountains
  • Curling (wrong season 🙁 )

On the road again…

I’m spending Labor Day weekend at Andrea’s dad’s place in Valparaiso, IN. Much needed grandkid time for him, mini-vacation for us.

We’re such church nerds. On Friday afternoon, we went up to Willow Creek Church for an informal tour of their facility with Mark Stanger, one of their techie guys. Andrea is a theatre nerd (she even has a degree in theatre!) and was duly impressed by what they had at WC. We also got a brief tour afterwards of the IT facilities from Brett (I missed his last name), one of my counterparts there. Technically cool, and professionally informative. It’s nice to see that they face many of the same challenges we do.

Today, we got a chance to go worship at Granger Community Church and break bread (and noodles!) afterwards with Jason Powell and his family. A good time was had by all, and the worship experience was phenomenal. They’re doing some really awesome stuff at GCC that we could definitely learn from. (I found it amusing that today’s message was about work/life balance, right after having had my vacation interrupted last night by our VMWare datastore filling up and causing the database server VM to go on strike due to lack of swap space)

One of the coolest things they have at GCC is the check-in/drop-off process for the kids. If you’re a regular, you check in, get your kids stickered, and then take them to the “launch area”, which is a big tube slide where the kids slide down and pop right into their classroom (unfortunately, Clara wasn’t quite old enough for those classrooms, so we had to cart her down the stairs (where there is a really cool fish tank). Faith went down her slide and popped out the mouth of a giant whale. They have cameras at the top and bottom so you can see them popping out the end and into the classroom. Faith was duly impressed. My immediate thought was that it’s a great way to deal with separation anxiety problems – the kids get a rush of fun, and immediately forget that they’ve just been taken away from mom and dad… and there’s no turning back. I think there’s a metaphor in there for the Christian life too 🙂

The worship experience was, in a word, WOW. They’ve done an incredible job at GCC to make the entire experience immersive and seamless. There’s smooth and logical integration of music, drama, and multimedia that all blend into the message. There’s some really cool technical wizardry going on behind the scenes, but you really don’t have a chance to focus on that, because the experience is so engaging.

On the way back, the kids snoozed, and we passed two things of note…

Valpo has a ski resort. OK, not really a resort, more of a lump in the terrain with a chairlift. To wit:

Where I come from, that would barely be worth bothering with as a sledding hill. Note the snowboarding halfpipe in the second picture.

The other thing that we saw was another Living Water(s) church, that is even smaller than the one Clif‘s wife planted:

And, while I’m posting nerdy pics from my phone, I finally got our rack in something close to its final configuration:

From top to bottom:

  • Sony LIB-81A Tape library (8 slots, 1 AIT-3 drive)
  • Galilee (DR Server) – Dell PE2650
  • Buffalo TeraStation and TeraStation Pro (archival storage)
  • Jericho (ESX Node) – Dell PE2950, 2xIntel 5160, 12GB
  • Jerusalem (ESX Node) – Dell PE2950 2xIntel 5150, 12GB
  • 8-port KVM Console
  • Dell/EMC AX150i iSCSI SAN (1.5TB)
  • UPS for the SAN
  • Dell PowerVault 220 (12x73GB SCSI) (attached to Galilee for DDT backup staging)
  • APC Smart-UPS 2200 (x2)
  • Whitebox security controller PC (in the bottom of the rack)

This makes up almost our entire infrastructure except for telecom and networking.