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Furry Weekend Atlanta

Friday, December 13th, 2013

9:59 pm - This is where the story ends ... or has it just begun?
Once upon a time, long before radio navigation, before satellites and GPS, airmail pilots flying cross country relied on giant concrete arrows to orient themselves and point the direction to fly to the next arrow and destination. Despite advances, many of these arrows still exist, as if continuing to serve a roll even they're no longer needed.

Well, I'm putting this post up as an arrow for anyone who comes looking. It points to:

Which is where I will be blogging now. Since LiveJournal seems to be slowly fading away as heat death takes ahold and Dreamwidth never caught on how I had hoped it would, I decided to resurrect that bastion of the 1990s, the personal homepage. Rather than be beholden to some service that may decide to die or sell to Russia, I'll just do my own thing. Feel free to comment there - you can even use your Twitter (or Facebook, or Google+, or Disqus) account to log in.

It's been a great run. 2,000+ entries is nothing to sneeze at (and all have been safely archived). And there were a lot of great memories here. But all good things must come to an end. As one of my favorite quotes says, "All things change, and the arrow of time points in one direction only."

Considering that I started by talking about cheese, this is a pretty heavy way to go. So I'll leave you instead with the words to The Fray's song "How The Story Ends." Seems most apt.

All we know is distance
We're close and then we run
Kiss away the difference
I know you hate this one
But this is where the story ends
Or have we just begun
To kiss away the difference
I know you hate this one

So long, and thanks for all the fish.


Thursday, June 20th, 2013

9:23 pm - Quick question...
Does anyone even pay attention to this thing anymore? I seriously want to write, but it just seems like everyone's moved on. Some things can't be said in 140 characters, but I seriously miss the community that used to be on here...

This post was originally made on DreamWidth.

(6 comments | Leave a comment)

8:45 pm - Test
The cheese is good today.

This post was originally made on DreamWidth. Please leave comments here (you can even use your LJ username and password!) Or ... you can join me there!


Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

1:08 pm - The tale wherein Kiran catches the plague
Last week, I got sick. And not only did I get sick, but I went fucking all out. 

It started Wednesday night. I was out in the new garage wiring up a few new outlets before we start the project to finish it off. I was up on a ladder running some wire and suddenly I just felt so tired. Like unbelievably tired. So tired I could barely hold my head up.

I got down off the ladder, went inside and sat down, figuring I had just pushed myself too hard. It was nearing bedtime anyways, so I decided just to head to bed early. But, before going to bed, I took some Pepto Bismol because I was feeling a little bit nauseous.

I woke up a short time later feeling absolutely terribly nauseous. I went in the bathroom, and after several episodes of diarrhea (I'll spare you the graphic details, but the term "pure liquid" is probably accurate) I violently threw up in the trash can. Immediately, I began to feel better, so I figured, okay, maybe I just ate some bad food.

I tried to go back to bed, but then the chills started. I had cold sweats. I've never had cold sweats in my life. I had to go to the bathroom again for more diarrhea and about an hour later, vomited again. At this point it's like 4am and I'm just sitting on the toilet, sobbing. Wanting to rip my stomach out, wanting it all to be over.

My wife made me some tea to help settle my stomach, and we went to the doctor at 8am. He diagnosed me with norovirus. Unfortunately, there's no real cure for norovirus; you can just treat the symptoms and ride it out. So he gave me a shot of promethazine in my arm to control the nausea, a prescription for anti-nausea pills, and sent me home to.

I slept about 40 of the next 48 hours. No shit, I have very little recollection of anything from Thursday morning to Saturday afternoon. And, because we have a baby in the house and I didn't want to get my wife and daughter sick, I had to ride it out pretty much alone in the guest room, quarantined from the rest of the house. Fortunately, my wife would bring me food and gatorade, but otherwise, I got to watch a lot of really crappy TV and stare at the ceiling.

Sunday, I finally started to feel my appetite coming back, and by Monday I was almost completely back to normal though there are still some lingering after effects. I've noticed I've been having a lot more heartburn, for instance.

I was trying to think of the last time I got that sick. I usually don't get puking sick - I get really bad sore throat sick. I get lots of respiratory infections, but not often do I get like this. The last time I can remember getting this sick was probably 12  years ago, my freshman winter at Auburn when I had the flu.

Regardless, I'm very happy to be back among the land of the living.
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Monday, December 31st, 2012

11:49 am - 2012: A Year of Change
Wow. What can I say about 2012?

I've been meaning to post updates for awhile now, but whenever I sit down to write, invariably something happens that takes my attention away. But, right now, sitting at the in-laws house, seems as good a time as ever to review just what an amazing year 2012 was.

Even if nothing else of note happened in 2012, it would be a great year for no other reason than ...

1. The birth of my daughter Scarlett.

Little Scarlett, hours after her birth.

I always wondered what kind of parent I would make. I guess I'm going to find out now. In the process, we encountered frustration, joy, sadness, terror and every range of emotion you can possibly imagine.

Around July of last year, Sarah and I decided that the time was right for us to expand our family, and we started trying for a little one. Frankly, after spending nearly a year trying for a baby, I'm honestly stumped at how anyone accidentally gets pregnant. There was testing, planning, and all kinds of craziness before we finally got he word at the end of March, just two weeks after FWA, that Sarah was pregnant.

A few months later, we found out that our little mass of dividing cells was going to be a little girl. In all honesty, a part of me was hoping for a little boy, but those thoughts immediately went out the window nearly instantly. However, it took us nearly until October to actually pick a name for the little one. In the meantime, we had a scare when the doctor found some abnormalities on her ultrasound and sent us to Birmingham for a more detailed test. Something to do with brain cysts. Thankfully, that turned out to be nothing.

Over the course of the pregnancy, I realized what amazing friends we have. Sarah had no less than 3 baby showers, 2 of which were thrown by our church. We received gifts of almost everything we would need to raise a baby. I literally think we spent less than $500 on baby things.

So Sarah grew and grew with child over the course of the summer and fall (while we moved, see next point), until her due date was upon us. And as her due date passed with no movement, we made the decision to induce her. I will spare you the graphic play by play of the birth process; suffice it to say that I saw way more of it than I was expecting or really wanting to see. The highlights were: about 12 hours of labor but only about 30 minutes of "active" labor, the maximum allowed dose of pitocin (the drug they use to induce).

Finally, at 7:23pm on November 27th, Scarlett Rose entered the world measuring 19 inches and weighing 7 pounds 8 ounces. And after a few days' stay in the hospital, we returned home with our little girl. And over the course of the next month, we had a virtual revolving door in our house of guests. Grandparents, great-grandparents, family and friends all came to see Scarlett. People from church baked us meals as we learned how to live with our new little addition.

The first few weeks were really rough. At one point, one night she was in a diaper less than 5 minutes before needing to be changed again. We've also had a running battle with baby gas. And I love my daughter, but holy shit her farts can peel the paint of walls.

However, I realize now that we've been blessed to have a pretty non-fussy baby. She doesn't complain or cry a lot, doesn't mind people holding her, and sleeps pretty well, usually only waking because she needs to eat or be changed (at least, when mom and dad can keep her awake during the day!). Heck, last night she slept nearly 6 hours before finally waking. At this point, I think we have a pretty good system in place.

Just a few of the things about parenthood I've learned in the last month:
  • Something so little needs an amazing amount of stuff. Cribs, bassinets, changing tables, pack and plays, diaper bags, all manner of things. For overnight trips Sarah and I can usually get away with a small bag, but Scarlett needs an entire trunk of stuff.

  • Doing anything with a child, even something as simple as running out for 15 minutes to grab a sandwich, requires careful planning and execution. When was the last time she was changed and fed? How much time do we think we have until the next feeding or changing? We've been living the last month in 3 hour increments.

    We finally purchased a breast pump a few weeks ago. With that we were able to get a bottle of food for her and were able to leave her with a grandparent while Sarah and I went to see The Hobbit. This has given us a little bit more flexibility to break out of that 3 hour cycle.
But most importantly, I learned that, while I still can't stand other peoples' kids, I sure do love my own. The weight of having to do a good job raising her is really there. I really hope I'm up to the task.

2. Sold and bought houses and built a garage.

In front of our new house.

About June, we made a big decision: it was time to move.

Honestly, it was not something I was looking to do. It would have to happen eventually, but I was hoping I could punt the ball downfield a little ways and not have to worry about it for a few years. But finally, in July, when we had a living room full of baby stuff and no where to walk, we finally had to face reality that we were going to have to move.

So it was with a great deal of sadness that we put the home I bought back in 2007 on the market and started looking for a new place to live. We looked at all kinds of places in Madison (we wanted to stay in Madison City Schools), but finally settled on a house what was far bigger than what I was intending to purchase but was such a good deal that we couldn't walk away from it.

Our new home is a nearly 3,400 square foot home in central Madison. It was the model home for the neighborhood, so it features many upgraded amenities like a jacuzzi tub, granite countertops, tankless hot water heater, music system and many others.

The downside? It didn't have a garage. In this house, the area that was a garage in the floor plan had been finished in as office space for use while the builder was constructing the neighborhood. We liked that space because it added a large amount of square footage to the house, so we decided to buy the house and have a detached garage built onto the back.

Make no mistake, this was a long process. We got just days to our first closing before the lender decided they didn't want to do what we were trying to do (essentially, buy the house because we were getting such a good deal and use the equity to build the garage). So we ended up having to get a construction loan to buy the house and build the garage.

The other major sticking point was what to do with our old house. I was adamant that I did not want two mortgage payments, but we weren't getting many bites on the old house. Then our awesome realtor was able to work a deal where the builder purchased our home for resale, freeing us to buy the new one. We had to take a small loss selling it, but not unreasonably so.

But we worked through it all and finally, on October 23rd, we were able to sign the documents and buy the new house. We started moving that day, and the movers came the following day to finish off the big things.

In the meantime, the builder was finishing off some of the things that were left from the contract - namely, carpeting and building a closet in the front room and fixing a sidewalk issue. Then, of course, building the garage. As of today, the garage is "finished" - I had them build the garage unfinished because they were wanting too much money to essentially hang drywall. Now, all that's left is to close the construction loan and we're on our way.

3. Cursillo

What can I say about the Cursillo weekend other than that it was life-changing.

I'm not going to write much about what actually happened at Cursillo. It's not out of any secrecy or shame - to the contrary, I wish I could share the joy of what I experienced with every person on Earth. But I also don't want to ruin the surprise and, no matter what, I don't think words could adequately express the joy of the experience. Regardless, my experience was different from that of my fellow pilgrims, and from past and future pilgrims. It's different and unique for everyone; we all experience it in different ways.
Coming out the other side, it feel like a new person. Cursillo was literally a life changing experience.

... and the rest!
  • This was my first year since 2003 when I didn't work FWA. I had intended it to be a permanent retirement, but the minute I set foot in the Sheraton, I knew I could never just be an attendee. So after careful consideration following the end of the con, I decided to return. My roll as of this time is uncertain, but I have a few ideas. :)
  • As far as concerts go, saw the Drive-By Truckers twice, Phish once, Matthew Ebel twice, and finally checked a "bucket list" item off when I saw Elton John. However, I missed out on Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters and I'm still upset about that.
  • Put a new stereo in my truck.
  • Barack Obama was re-elected.
  • The Olympics were awesome as always. Except for NBC's coverage. That sucked ass.
Of course, 2012 wasn't perfect. There were some things that sucked.
In review

I don't think any year in my life has had as much change as 2012 has. This has been a mind-blowing year, full of firsts, new starts, changes and stress, but as I look back on it, I realize what an amazing year it's been. I feel like I'm ending this year a different person than I was when I started it. However, despite all that, I'm kinda hoping 2013 is a little bit more laid back. If every year was like this one, I would be the most interesting man in the world.

So long 2012. Thanks for being awesome!
This post was originally made on DreamWidth. Please leave comments here (you can even use your LJ username and password!) Or ... you can join me there!


Monday, December 24th, 2012

6:27 pm - Luke 2
Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

This post was originally made on DreamWidth. Please leave comments here (you can even use your LJ username and password!) Or ... you can join me there!


Monday, November 12th, 2012

5:40 pm - On The Election
So we had an election last week, as I'm sure everyone knows. And I'm sure everyone also knows the outcome. Obama was re-elected in a landslide.

And if you were paying attention, you knew it was coming. Nate Silver in particular, of FiveThirtyEight, correctly predicted how every state would vote and correctly picked all but one Senate race. He did this using aggregate polling and statistics ... aka math. He used statistics and modeling to accurately predict the election.

And, leading up to Tuesday, he was vilified by the right, who were absolutely convinced he was skewing the polls. They created their own websites - ironically called "Unskewed Polls" - that predicted Romney would win 51 percent of the vote and 275 electors. Karl Rove predicted that Romney would win 285 electors. They were absolutely convinced they were correct.

We all know what happened. Obama won in a near landslide, winning 332 electors to Romney's 206. He also won the popular vote by more than 3% - a pretty large margin by election standards. And, from everything I've read, the Republicans absolutely didn't see it coming. And on election night, as Ohio was called for Obama - thus sealing his win - Karl Rove had a very public meltdown on air on Fox News. And while I usually don't engage in schadenfreude ... it couldn't have happened to a nicer asshole.

In the coming weeks, the Republican party will try to figure out just how they managed to blow this election that they had every chance of winning. They will have to make some big decisions - especially in light of the changing demographics - what direction they want to take the party. halioffirpine had some great advice on his blog - especially the part about not mentioning rape. But I'd like to add one little piece of advice of my own.

Stop living in your own reality.

I've watched Fox News occasionally, and I sometimes wonder if I'm living on the same planet. It's time for you to stop listening to the people telling you what you want to hear, and to the people who are twisting and distorting facts to fit their own beliefs. It's time for you to stop living in your own echo chamber and come join the rest of us in the real world.

Now, does this mean you have to agree with the Democrats on everything? Of course not. You wouldn't be the opposition party if you didn't. And more to the point, as liberal as I am - and I am very, very liberal - I want a strong Republican party to keep providing alternatives. I don't want to live in a single party state, because that's when real problems begin. But, before you can become a real alternative, you have got to stop listening to those people who are only telling you what you want to hear, and start agreeing to some basic facts of the universe.

Only then, can you begin to climb out of the hole you've dug yourselves into for 30+ years.

I know you don't like Rachel Maddow, but I urge you to listen to the last half of this video. Because it's important for the future of America.

Oh yeah. And don't talk about rape. Ever.

This post was originally made on DreamWidth. Please leave comments here (you can even use your LJ username and password!) Or ... you can join me there!


Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

4:09 pm - Home Blues
In my last entry, I mentioned how the move process was going. I also said we were supposed to be closing on September 26th, and moving shortly thereafter.

Well, it's October 3rd, and we're still in our old house.

What happened? Well, pull up a chair, and I'll pick up the tale where I left off last time.

The Inspection

As I mentioned in the previous post, we sold the house. And, as is common, the buyer of the house wanted to get an inspection done on my house. No problem. It worried me a lot because we had just found (and fixed) the leak in the chimney, and I had no idea what else might be lurking to be fixed. But, you do what you have to do, so they did their inspection on Monday, September 10th.

Now, according to the contract, they had 3 working days to present me with a list of repairs. Well, Wednesday and Thursday came and went, and I thought we were in the clear. Then, Friday, they finally get me a list of "requested repairs." and I very nearly blew a gasket. I fully believe their inspector to be batshit crazy. Here were some of the "requested repairs":
  • New driveway and sidewalk due to "cracks." Every fucking driveway in the neighborhood has cracks in them. It's a 20 year old house, and the driveway is in fine shape for it's age.
  • Wanted the siding replaced. The siding was just replaced by the previous owner in 2005.
  • Wanted a new roof because the roof vents were too narrow and the bathroom vent vented into the attic.
  • Wanted some major work done on the electrical system. The electrical system is fine and hasn't been touched.
  • Wanted the laundry vent line re-routed to be "shorter." The laundry room is in the middle of the fucking house. It's as short as possible already.
  • They wanted the motherfucking chimney extended two fucking feet! Apparently there's some code that says chimneys have to be a certain height above the roofline, and mine was two feet short. But every house in the neighborhood built on the same plan has the same height chimney, so it was obviously okay when it was built.
And that was just the crazy ones. That's leaving along the other 20 or so items they requested that were somewhat reasonable. I'm being serious when I say I almost lost my shit. My first instinct was to tell them to fuck the hell off because they broke contract, that they aren't getting shit from me, and I'll see them at closing.

In the end, because I have to work with this guy, I ended up agreeing to fix 12 minor items. Most of which was done in a weekend and was completed thanks to koakako's help. Fortunately, they agreed. Could have done without the drama.

Comes The Appraiser

As I mentioned in a previous post, the new house we are buying doesn't have a garage. It was the model home for the neighborhood, and, when the builder built it, they finished in the area that would have been the garage. We wanted to keep that because it adds enormous square footage to the house.

It's also his last property in the neighborhood, so he's under a lot of pressure to get it off his books. So he's selling the house at a massive discount. We're buying the house at $76 a square foot, when most of the stuff in that neighborhood has been going in the mid $80s. We were confident that we could write the contract for above the purchase amount of the house and escrow the remaining amount (essentially, borrowing against the equity the house would already have at closing because it's so underpriced) and use that to build the garage.

So we had everything set up with the loan. But their appraiser dragged his feet for the maximum amount of time he could before going out there (he had 10 business days and waited until the 10th day, then tried to reschedule - my realtor told him that he couldn't and we were closing in 3 days). According to my realtor, he had a foul attitude about having to drive down, and didn't spent a lot of time there.

Then we get the report back. He refused to value it any higher than the MLS listing, which is fucking retarded. The MLS listing is so low you couldn't rebuild it for that price. It's worth more than that in materials alone! (Not even kidding about this - every insurance estimate I've gotten has been almost 1.5x what we're paying as the estimated rebuild cost WITH the garage factored in).

Then, the mortgage broker informed me that, even if the appraiser had approved it, they would not have done the escrow in spite of us having been completely upfront with them from the very beginning about what we were trying to do. At the last minute, they were just like, fuck you.

That was Monday the 24th. We were supposed to be closing in the 26th. Everything fell apart that day. I'm not even kidding - I had moving vans arranged! I had the utilities scheduled to be in my name. Everything had to be stopped while we circled the wagons and figured out what our next move would be.

Starting Again

So, this time, we're taking a little bit different approach. First, we're talking to an actual bank, and not a mortgage broker. We're getting a construction loan for the full amount, buying the house, and then building the garage with the remaining amount on the loan. Then, we'll close the construction loan.

But people are still dicking with us. After we got all that set up, I got a call from the bank saying they couldn't send an appraiser out until they got drawings from the builder. Then they said they had the drawings, so I asked to see them. They had the wrong drawings. That took three days to work out, going between realtors, builders, and banks. Either way, it may be another 2-3 weeks until we can get into the house.

In the meantime, my wife is 8 months pregnant and looks like she could pop at any moment. Time is of the essence here, but nobody seems to be in any kind of hurry. I'm seriously losing my cool with it all.

The End

We also made a decision that this was the end. If something happens at this point, we are calling the entire deal off. All the way off. We are pulling our offer on the new house and pulling our house off the market. We'll wait a year until after Scarlett is born, then try this whole thing again.

All this stress has been absolute murder on me, and it's been holding us up from doing the things we need to do. I really hope it gets resolved soon, because both of us are just worn out of "one more thing."
This post was originally made on DreamWidth. Please leave comments here (you can even use your LJ username and password!) Or ... you can join me there!



Friday, September 7th, 2012

9:10 pm - Coming Up To Breathe
God, I don't ever remember being this busy in my entire life. Even that semester I took 18 hours and (helped) plan a convention pales incomparison to what it's been like recently. It's like someone through my life to warp 9.

We sold the house!

We had been working with a buyer and finally, last Friday an offer came in. It looked like a good offer, so we accepted it. But it's a littlemorecomplex than that.

What happened was that we've been working with a builder to buy a model home in a neighborhood. But my stipulation was that I wouldnotbuy unless my current house sold. But the builder has sold his remaining lots in that neighborhood to a different builder and is eager togetthis house off his books, as it is his final property in the neighborhood. So he cut a deal with us where he would buy our houseandimmediately re-sell it.

So we agreed to the deal. The downside is that I'm taking a loss selling the house. Not a big one, but a loss nonetheless, which is kind ofabummer. 

But wait, there's more! The current house doesn't have a garage on it. Because it was a model home, the area that would have beenthegarage in the normal plan was, in this house, finished off as office space. It's actually really cool, there's a L-shaped room, with asmalleroffice inside it with a little glass window.

But either way, the house doesn't have a garage, and needs one built. So we had to get the final dimensions on the garage squaredawaybefore we could have a final price on the mortgage. It will also be attached to the house via a small breezeway, which has to be factoredintothe construction costs.

So I've spent the last week doing things like finalizing the garage dimensions, finalizing the contract price, getting the mortgage, havinghomeinspections done, and working on other various financial things. Still have to go is getting the insurance finalized - people are being apain inthe ass when it comes to calling me back - picking a mover, etc.

Oh, and did I mention that they want all this done by the 26th? Oy vey. If I survive the next few weeks without a major psychotic episode itwillbe a fucking miracle.

In the meantime ...

Fucking water.

Some of you who follow me on the Twitters may have seen me tweet about the fucking leak in the chimney. Well, after getting quotes from anumber of contractors, we finally had that fixed in the last 2 days. I repeat, it took them TWO FUCKING DAYS to fix all the damage that waterleak had done, and likely had been doing for years.

Most roof leaks become visible fairly quickly when they leak onto drywall. But, because of the precarious nature of this leak - leaking almostdirectly down to the chimney to the slab below - meant it probably went years without being discovered. Almost all the wood at the top of thechimney was rotted and had been rotted for some time - i.e. my inspector back in 2007 should have found this.

So it took them two days to pull out all the rotted wood, repair it, re-side the chimney and put a new cap on it. The plus side is that now I have a bunch of siding in case I need to do a repair in the nest 3 weeks. But, either way, it's done.
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Thursday, August 9th, 2012

12:12 am - Looking back on Yellowstone
My cousin is currently touring Yellowstone with his wife; they're posting pictures on Facebook and causing me to reminisce about where I was 10 years ago.

About this time I was wrapping up my final few weeks of my last tour as a Park Ranger at Yellowstone. And while I loved the park and, to a certain extent loved the solitude, I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to getting back to Alabama, and to my friends. Still, that summer changed me. Perhaps more than any short period of time in my life before or since.

2002 was, by far, my longest tour of duty in the park. Most of the experience was overwhelmingly positive. I still have a love of "western" and Native American culture. There were some negatives, and one in particular that I don't talk about much. But overall, I came back from Yellowstone in 2002 a different person than when I left. It showed, when I was willing to stop floundering around in my life, start tacking some of the tough decisions and taking responsibility for myself. That next year I really turned things around. Got things right with school, started living [more] on my own, and got a real job.

It was that real job that kept me from returning to Yellowstone in 2003. I had to make a choice - quit my job in Auburn and go to Yellowstone, with no guarantee of what would be waiting when I returned in the Fall, or work through the summer, stay in school and be a semester closer to graduating.

The me prior to 2002 would have hit the road without a second through. The me of 2003 did't. The me of 2003 stayed in Auburn, worked, studied and continued pulling myself out of the tailspin I'd been in. But, even then, I knew I'd probably never go back. The changed me sacrificed any chance to "do it again" because of what I learned about myself.

I try not to dwell on "other paths," but, seeing my cousin's photographs makes me wonder what that other path would have been like. I almost chose that path again in early 2005 when I couldn't find a job out of Auburn. But, just as I was getting my paperwork together go back and considering the possibly going to NPS seasonal law enforcement training at Sylvan, an offer appeared to go work in Huntsville. The rest, they say, is history.

And I haven't been back since.

I still miss the park. I miss the quiet and solitude. I miss the long drive to Jackson, or to Idaho Falls. I miss the wildlife - the moose, the elf and the howls of wolves. And yes, I even miss the annoying tourists.

Although I can't help but smile a little bit. Next time we go, I get to share some of that joy with my daughter.
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Monday, August 6th, 2012

7:59 pm - The State of Kiran
So it's been awhile since I posted, so here's an update. Or something.

It's a girl!

Or, it will be. Sarah and I found out that the aforementioned sexess baby we were having will be a little baby girl. While we don't currently have a name, we are leaning towards the name Scarlett Rose - just unusual enough to be interesting, but not something silly or crazy.

Although the sex determining ultrasound was not without some drama. The doctor called us a few days later to let us know that the ultrasound showed some ... irregularities. Namely choroid plexus cysts which are cysts in the brain of the child. Apparently, these occur in 1-3% of all pregnancies and they usually resolve themselves on their own. But, they can also be an indicator of certain genetic disorders such as Trisomy 18. So, she wanted us to go to UAB in Birmingham for a more detailed ultrasound.
So Monday, after sweating this shit for 2 weeks, we went to Birmingham. I have to admit, I was impressed with the facility. The first time I can ever remember a doctor getting us in ahead of our appointment, and at one point we had two doctors, a medical student and a tech looking at the ultrasound. Fortunately, thank God, they pronounced that there were no more signs of the cysts and everything else looked completely normal.

House for sale.

But with a little girl on the way, Sarah and I have discovered that there is simply not enough room for us in this house with all the baby stuff. The house I bought back in 2007 is simply not big enough for all the stuff we're going to be buying. And forget having enough room should another kid come along in a few years. So, concluding that now was a good time to buy and that I only want to move once again, we finally put the house on the market last weekend.

It has been very bittersweet, and I've run the gamut of emotions on it. I gotta be honest, though, I'm gonna miss this place. I've really loved this little house and I have a lot of memories here. It'll be sad when we have to leave. But if anyone's looking for a home in Madison (great location 5 minutes from the Arsenal and Research Park), let me know.

In the meantime, we've put an offer on an absolutely enormous house in another area of Madison. 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 3,150 square feet. It has a huge open floorplan living room, an enormous master bedroom and bathroom suite with a closet larger than some bedrooms in my current house. And, best of all, a huge front room with a separate office. It was once used as a model home and the builder had their offices in the front area.

We've been going back and fourth with the builder. He's trying to unload it, but I'm firm in my resolve to sell my current house before committing to a new one. So prayers would be appreciated that all this works out.


In the past we've taken some big vacations. Jamaica, Las Vegas and London come to mind. This year we're staying a little closer to home and driving down to Pensacola this weekend to spend 5 days ont he beach. It'll be the first time I've been back to Pensacola Beach since way back in 2003 when I went with my Dad. 


Today, I did $800 worth of work on my truck. Among the service done:
  • Two new tires.
  • Two older tires rotated and balanced.
  • Oil changed.
  • Brakes services.
  • Alignment fixed.
It's pretty nice not to have that major vibration in my steering wheel anymore. Moreover, with all this done now, it should be some time before I need to do any major service again *knock on wood*.

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Friday, July 13th, 2012

8:55 pm - Penn State.
As a college football fan, I would be remiss if I didn't at least have some thoughts on the biggest scandal ever to hit college sports.

I remember when this first started to surface last year. I was very cautious at the time as everyone around seemed to be out for a pound of flesh. I generally try to avoid mobs and witch hunts - what I most wanted was to let the investigations play out, and find out who knew what and when did they know it. Because only once we know the facts of a case can we truly sit in judgement.

Well, now we know the facts, and it's worse than I could have ever imagined.

Now, I haven't read the Freeh report - I really haven't had time (or desire) to digest a 227 page report detailing the actions of a child molester and the people who enabled him, even after they knew. But the report is the probably the single most damning thing ever to land on a college athletic program. It eclipses Kentucky's point-shaving in the 50s. It eclipses Louisiana-Lafayette's academic shenanigans in the 70s. And it most definitely eclipses SMU's "Pony Excess" in the 80s.

This is, without a doubt, the worst, most rotten thing I could possibly imagine. I don't think this would have even been imaginable 15 years ago. And yet, here we are. All of those cases pale in comparison to what happened at Penn State.

As the report details, the problems at Penn State were wider than just the football program. Many, many people, from the President down to janitors, knew what was going on ... but nobody said anything. A culture of silence and, more importantly, a reverence for athletics beyond all reason, pervaded everything that happened in State College. Nobody would go against, or risk threatening, the almighty sacred golden calf that was the Penn State football program. For all intents and purposes, Penn State football and Joe Paterno were sacrosanct and any attempt to confront them would elicit the highest orders of outrage.

What happened to those kids was terrible - and the justice system will see to it that those responsible are held to account for their crimes, as will the completely justified lawsuits which are sure to follow. But there are some other points surrounding this whole thing that I think are worthy of pondering here as well.

For the longest time, I held Joe Paterno and Penn State as the paragon of stability that all athletic programs should strive for. I mean, here was a guy that was head coach for 45 years. In that same time period, Auburn had six coaches and Alabama had eight. In retrospect, I can't help but wonder if that same stability allowed a culture to flourish that enabled something like this to happen. Is it good for one person to be allowed to accumulate so much power and hold it, unchecked, for so long? Would a few changes in administration have helped deter this situation?

I would like to think so and, in truth, it may. But think the problem is bigger than Penn State and cuts right to the heart of the worship of college athletics in the United States. This same "athletics can do no wrong" culture can be seen at many major Division I schools. I mean, in my heart I would love to believe that something like this could never happen at Auburn. But I also cannot discount the power that the athletic department holds. The same can be said for Alabama, LSU, Oregon (whose program I think is absolutely rotten to the core on so many levels) and so many programs. Can I honestly believe that a janitor who sees something like that janitor at Penn State saw and has to decide between his job and reporting will do the right thing? And even if they keep their job, would have to constantly be on the lookout for some crazed "fan" much like we hear every week on Finebaum to do something insane?

That's the thing about this whole sad situation that I don't think is getting enough discussion. This scandal is an indictment of the worship of athletics that pervades colleges across the US. Penn State just took that same worship that happens at every Division I program and turned the knob to 11. As a result, a culture of silence allowed a child molester to run rampant for years with the full knowledge of many people, who placed covering up for the name of the Nittany Lions above doing the right thing.

This. Has. Got. To. Stop.

The thing that is so damning about all of this is that it's not the oh so loved "lack of institutional control" that we usually hear about when it comes to sports scandals. In this case, the institution was in such complete control of every aspect of Nittany Lion culture, that no one would dare go against it. This is unique, uncharted waters for college athletics.

Now, I don't know what the NCAA will do, if anything. Frankly, my opinion of the NCAA is right down there with the UN in terms of being able to do anything useful. But if there's any justice in the world, the NCAA will drop the hammer on Penn State and end the program. At least for a couple of years. And if the NCAA doesn't do it, Penn State should, for once, do the right thing and pull the plug themselves. Shut everything down, cool everything off and, in a few years, return with a new focus on what is really important. Because even though all the people responsible are gone, the culture is still in place. You have to change the culture.

Yes, I said it. I'm talking the Death Penalty. A slap on the wrist - a few scholarships lost, a TV or bowl ban - would be insulting. To do anything less in this situation is to condone the very attitude that allowed Jerry Sandusky to molest children for years. A message needs to be sent, to universities and fans across the nation that there is a line of acceptable behavior and culture when it comes to college athletics, and that Penn State flew over that line at supersonic speeds. There must be accountability.

SMU paid some played. Kentucky shaved some points. But at Penn State, a culture of silence and reverence for athletics enabled a child molester to go unchecked, with full knowledge of the administration, for years. If that's not worthy of the ultimate penalty, the entire NCAA is s sham and should itself be disbanded.

For the average college football fan, this should be yet another sobering reminder of the dark places that operate at some of alma maters. For as much as we would like to believe in the purity of sport, this scandal - perhaps the saddest and worst ever- indicates of the depths to which evil can spread.
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Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

11:15 am - Fuck.
This is why we can't have nice things.
Are you fucking kidding me?

Now, in the case of the first one, the assault apparently happened after Anthrocon was over, and it's not certain that the person was actually an attendee. Whenever you get that many people in one place, there's bound to be at least one creep. So I don't "blame" Anthrocon, and there will always be people shitty people who will do shitty things, although that hardly matters to my main point below. The incident at FurBQ, on the other hand, is absolutely inexcusable.

There are two things that connect both of these incidents: they occurred in public at furry events, and in both cases no one did anything until it was too late. All I can ask myself is "Why?"

Why did no one go up to that person sexually assaulting that woman and say, "Hey, you should stop doing this immediately before I call the police." Why did no one go up to the two jackasses fucking in fursuit on the hood of a car in broad fucking daylight, in front of children, and say, "Hey, you should stop doing this immediately before I rip your dick off and feed it to you. Take it to a room!"

Why? Because it's uncomfortable. I get that. No one likes to have to be "that guy" that has to break up the "fun." In the back of our heads, we know what we're seeing is wrong. We tell ourselves, "well, it doesn't involve me" or "someone else will talk to them." But no one ever does because everyone always thinks it's someone else's problem. Everyone always passes the buck to someone else who's supposed to be responsible. And because people were too busy looking away, a woman was sexually assaulted and two furs fucking in public cost an ambulance service hundred of thousands of dollars and (apparently) several people their jobs.

I am saying this clearly, without any equivocation: every person standing in front of the Westin when that woman was assaulted, and saw it happen, bears some responsibility for what happened, because you did nothing to stop it. Every person who attended FurBQ and saw those two morons fucking on the hood of the car bears some responsibility for what happened, because you did nothing to stop it.

We furries have got to begin to police our own. I'm sorry, but "it's someone else's problem" is no longer a justifiable attitude to have as long as you are part of a community and live in civilized society. When you see something like this happening, you have a choice to make. You can take the easy road and say, hey, it's not my problem. Or, you can do something about it. If you choose the first option, you bear the same shame as the offender.

It is your moral obligation to look out for others and the community.

Any time you, as a furry, are in public or at a furry event in public, always remember:

Your behavior reflects on us all.

Especially fursuiters, because you are the most visible members of the fandom to non-fandom members.

When you fuck in fursuit on the hood of a car in broad daylight, average people think all furries fuck on the hoods of cars in broad daylight. You may think that all furries do (or would, given the change) but, news flash Sparky, they wouldn't. Most wouldn't. Some wouldn't. A few wouldn't. In fact, it may just be you, ya damn fools! So quit taking it on yourself to give us all a negative image!

The sexual assault incident should never have happened. It was in public, in front of a hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. But it did, and more than anything that's sad and infuriating.

Now, I've ranted enough about this. Instead of sitting back and just shrugging, I'm going to do something positive to offset this. I'm not sure what yet, but I'll find something. If you are looking to help:
This post was originally made on DreamWidth. Please leave comments here (you can even use your LJ username and password!) Or ... you can join me there!

Current Music: Glass Hammer - If


Monday, June 11th, 2012

7:36 am - Cursillo
How can you possibly put into words what was one of the most unexpected, best experiences of my entire life?

I'm not going to write much about what actually happened at Cursillo. It's not out of any secrecy or shame - to the contrary, I wish I could share the joy of what I experienced with every person on Earth. But I also don't want to ruin the surprise and, no matter what, I don't think words could adequately express the joy of the experience. Regardless, my experience was different from that of my fellow pilgrims, and from past and future pilgrims. It's different and unique for everyone; we all experience it in different ways.

Coming out the other side, it feel like a new person. Cursillo was literally a life changing experience.

I will, however, share with you one observation I made about myself over the weekend:

As part of the weekend, they take your cellphones and watches. Not having my cellphone made me consciously aware of how much i actually look at my phone, and how socially ... lame ... it has made me. The first day or so any time there was a lull in any conversation, I found myself unconsciously reaching for my pocket. But by the third day, I wasn't doing this anymore, and seem to have recovered some of my atrophied ability to socialize. I'm going to try to be more consciously aware of it in the future.
This post was originally made on DreamWidth. Please leave comments here (you can even use your LJ username and password!) Or ... you can join me there!


Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

4:18 pm - Anthropomorphic Radio Productions
Anthropomorphic Radio Productions is an idea I've been kicking around for a few years now that I think could be a lot of fun.

The idea is to produce "radio dramas" in the spirit of the golden age of radio, which lasted from the early 1920s through the introduction of the first televisions in the 1950s. This was an era that produced many of the most famous productions of old radio (think Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air, War of the Worlds, the Sherlock Holmes radio dramas, etc). I'm envisioning going beyond just "audiobooks" - just one or more people reading a story - to a full adaptation and production, including music and sound effects.

In order to pull this off, we're going to need a wide range of talent:
  • Writers and radioplay adapters. There will be a role for both original content and adaptations of stories from other furry mediums.
  • On-air talent. Obviously we'll need voice actors. :)
  • Sound effects. We need people to research sound effects for the productions as well.
  • Musicians. While I'd love to have some original music, this may be the single biggest obstacle to overcome, so we may need to look into royalty free music.
  • Audio technicians. We need talented folks to mix a lot of sound together in a way that sounds awesome.
  • Producers and directors. Somebody's gotta shepherd a production from idea to completion.
  • IT/Web hosting. We'll need a website and a place to host the files. I'd like to see them available through iTunes and the like as well.
  • Sales? I kinda had this idea of selling advertisements as well. This is up for debate though.
Interested in helping? Join up!
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Monday, May 21st, 2012

8:56 am - 10 Years Ago
It weirds me out a bit to think about how long, and yet how fast another 10 year marker has gone by.

Ten years ago, right now, I was driving across Nebraska. I had left a Days Inn in Lincoln and was heading for Rawlins, Wyoming. In Rawlins, I would spend the night before heading up US-287 towards my final destination: Yellowstone National Park.
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Sunday, May 20th, 2012

10:12 am - Adding to the family...
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Thursday, May 10th, 2012

7:53 pm - New Truck Stereo
Upgraded the stereo in my truck.



The new head unit is a Clarion CX-501, which has built-in support for Bluetooth audio streaming from my iPhone as well as built-in support for Satellite radio. I figured since I'm probably going to be driving the truck for the foreseeable future, I may as well have a good sound system.

This post was originally made on DreamWidth. Please leave comments here (you can even use your LJ username and password!) Or ... you can join me there!


Friday, April 27th, 2012

3:59 pm - April 27th: One Year Later
Today, one year ago, was literally one of the worst, most terrifying days days of my life.

If you haven't been "under the gun" for a tornado, or otherwise affected by a major natural disaster, it's hard to explain what the terror islike. You know it's coming, but you don't know how long it will last or how bad it will be. The feeling of absolute helplessness is the worst.You are totally at the mercy of Mother Nature, and whether or not she decides to fuck up your shit is a stroke of the divine. None of yourpreparations matter. All you can do is take cover and pray to God that he spares your life, let alone all your shit.

My memory of that day will forever be Sarah and I cowering under blankets in the downstairs bathroom as tornadic cell after tornadic cell passed us by. I had my laptop in the bathroom while we streamed weather. It was so loud in there, with the wind and rain pounding. And when the power went out, we weren't even sure if it was because we were about to die or what.

It would be a few days of no-power before we would finally decide to bail and spend awhile in Nashville before things leveled out in Huntsville.

You can read more of my thoughts and memories of the 2011 Super Outbreak here. In short, the tornado and the aftermath of it was a life-changing few days. The things I thought were so important before suddenly didn't seem so important.

Anyways, it just seemed like an appropriate day to look back.
This post was originally made on DreamWidth. Please leave comments here (you can even use your LJ username and password!) Or ... you can join me there!

Current Music: Widespread Panic - Driving Song


Thursday, April 19th, 2012

11:03 am - A lifetime ago...
It seems like a lifetime ago...

I was working at my first real career type job - a junior programmer for a transit company. All summer I lusted over a 2000 Ford Focus. And, if there was one indispensable soundtrack to that "last summer" before I left for Auburn, it was the Titan A.E. soundtrack. 

It was only 12 years. Why does it feel like a whole different life, and a whole different person?
This post was originally made on DreamWidth. Please leave comments here (you can even use your LJ username and password!) Or ... you can join me there!

Current Music: Electrasy - Cosmic Castaway


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