Sunday, November 01, 2015

Good Bye, My Friend

On Oct 12th, a coworker and friend passed away in Las Vegas. Kim was there on vacation. He got the Sunday morning and passed away in his sleep Sunday night/Monday morning. He was just 61.

When I found out it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was in the office and another co-worker, T, was bugging me to come down to the other end of the aisle where a few other people were standing around. I was in a team meeting and told T that I couldn't right now but would be down in a few minutes. T kept insisting. He then told me that Kim was dead. I was like "What the fuck a you talking about?". T said he was dead. I told T to shut the fuck up and then looked at one of the other guys standing there. This guy is a higher up dude that is in our aisle every so often, usually to hit the candy jar up. The look on his face told me T was not kidding around. I sat down in my chair in shock. The rest of the day passed in a blur.

For whatever reason, the building folks like to put Kim and his team near wherever I was. Sometimes across the aisle, sometimes a few cubes down. We have sat near each other for over 10 years.

In the two weeks since he died, going into the office seems weird. Every morning around 8:30 a few of us would walk down to the lunchroom to refill our water mugs. Kim would stroll down to my end of the aisle as ask "Are you ready for some water, young lady?" Sometimes it was just the two of us, sometime 3-4 of us would wander down there, chit chatting. We would go out the door on that side of the building and walk outside back to our side of the building.

Every so often, at lunchtime, a few of us would head to Menards to stock up on peanuts, or Penzey's to get whatever the free spice was in that month's catalog coupon. It will be strange to not have him go with us. He would give me shit (well deserved) whenever I would change purses and leave my badge in the purse that was at home. Since he got there earlier than I did, I would bug him to come and let me in the building.

I'm going to miss getting the good building gossip, hearing about his weekend at his cottage, shooting the shot about the Brewers or Packers.

Good bye, my friend. I'm going to miss you.

Monday, October 26, 2015

I Took a Walk

With the days getting shorter and the air getting cooler, I wanted to get out and explore a new trail that recently opened up near my house. After work today, I grabbed Boomer and we headed out.

Map of the Nojoshing Trail

Boomer and I walked up the street about .75 miles to get to one of the trail heads on the corner of Packard and Lake Dr. The first part of the trail is thru the meadow area. It is a paved trail that make access easy.

We soon came to the first split and headed off on to the trail that heads north and back to the woods. This part is all wood chips but was wide and easy to walk. Boomer had lots of fun exploring and smelling all the smells.

Boomer is having fun in the woods

Once we got to the woods the trail was nothing more than a path that meandered thru the woods. There were signs a couple times that pointed you in the right direction and most of trail was flanked by old trees and branches to make sure you didn't stray off course. This section was so pretty. One side was along the cemetery back in Seminary Woods. I wasn't sure how far it was to get back out of the woods so I didn't go over there to explore. Maybe next time when I know I will have more daylight. Boomer loved this section. I'm not sure what he was rooting around for in the leave piles. The trail in the woods made a big circle so soon we were back out to the wood chip trail in the meadow.

We headed back and took the path that came up behind the new Civic Center. That part was also paved and made it easy for people with disabilities to get around and enjoy. From there it was all neighborhood streets back home.

I want to venture out on the trail again when I know I will have more daylight hours to explore.

Looking from the path towards the woods

Monday, October 12, 2015

New Beginning?

I got an email today from Stat Counter telling me to update their code on my blog so that I can include mobile devices in my blog stats. I have pretty much ignored this blog for the past 10 months or so. Not sure why. Every so often I have things that happen in my life and would like a way to talk about them in a place that is not facebook or Twitter. But life gets in the way and the next thing you know it is a week or two later. I also realized that I have had this blog for almost 10 years. My how my life has changed in those 10 years.

Today was a day of downs and ups. Nothing huge or earth shattering but still important to me, none the less.

I've been working towards getting my BJCP certification. This is the standard used for judging beer. A friend from MN had recommended it to me a couple years ago as a way to become a better brewer. After attending the Home Brewers conference this past summer, I decided that this was something I would like to pursue further. The Beer Barons, a local home brew club, offer a series of classes that prepare you to take the exam. How it works is that you take classes or self study and you take an entrance exam. This first exam is pass/fail and not scored. You have one hour to answer 200 questions. They questions are true/false or multiple choice. It covers a wide range of topics from styles to brewing to judging. It is open book and I took advantage of that. What I didn't account for is how fast that hour would pass. At first I was going thru and answering each question. Then I realized that time was getting a bit low. So I started answering the ones I could easily do and skipped the rest hoping to come back to them. This worked ok as I was able to at least see all 200 questions. Next thing I knew I had 2 minutes left and panic set in. I started to go back and just guess on the true/false ones. Hoping I could squeak by somehow. In the end I only ended up answering 126 questions and failed the exam. But I now know what I need to focus more on for the next time I take it. I also know that for the next time to go thru them all once quickly and then go back and answer the harder ones. Time management is very important.

I was off today and took Boomer for a longer walk this after noon. It was nice out and he had some extra energy to burn off. We were walking at a pretty good clip so I decided to see how or even if I could run again. After tearing my plantaris tendon in my calf a little over three weeks ago, I have been slowly getting back to walking normal and not limping. I have always been active and this forced rest period  has been difficult on my both mentally and physically. So I started to run. I took one step, then two steps and then ten and felt no pain. I was super slow and found myself heel striking but I was running! I ended up running a little over two blocks. This left me feeling so happy. Maybe I will try a little further tomorrow.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Don't be the Asshole Neighbors

I live in a small-ish suburb of Milwaukee. Most of my neighbors are older people. I like that. They keep their house and yards up and don't do stupid shit. I talk to them, keep an eye out for them and help when they need it. But then there are the "others".

You know them. They are the ones who just move into the neighborhood and disrupt the good juju of it.

A new family moved in a couple houses down this summer. Mom, dad and two kids under the age of 5. They didn't start out very well when the first weekend they moved in their dog was running around the block. The dog is a bigger dog, maybe 60-65 lbs or so. They pretty much opened the door and let the dog out. They were never outside with the dog, so the dog would wander around to people's yards and poop. It would go across the street, they didn't seem to mind. I put a stop to that the 2nd day when I took the dog and the bag of poop and took it back to their house and asked that they keep the dog restrained and supervised or I would be contacting the police. I have three little dogs and one of them was attacked two years ago by a Pyrenees at the park. I didn't want a repeat performance. They were kind of taken back but said that they would. For the most part that has been taken care of. They now let the dog outside in the fenced in back yard. It is out there almost all day, every day. How do I know this, you ask. Well I work from home usually 2 days a week. I can't take my dogs outside in my back yard if the dog is out there because all it will do is bark and bark and bark. There are days when that dog barks almost all day long at the squirrels and other critters outside. I'm not sure if they are deaf or what but I'm two houses away and can hear it.

Last month, we got about 1.5-2" of snow. It was a wet, heavy snow. Well, these people didn't bother to shovel the sidewalk. I walk my dogs a couple times a day and use the sidewalks on my block. The first day I walked on the snow. By day 3, I called the city. You have 24 hours after a snow to clear sidewalks. By this time it was trampled down and because the sun was out it was melting a bit and now icy. I had to walk on the grass. The people were home, I seen them outside. They shoveled part of the driveway. Someone from the city must have stopped over there or something because it was about three hours after I called that they were out there chopping the ice/snow from the sidewalk. It took them the better part of the day to get it all cleared because they had to chop away at it.

Garbage pick up is on Mondays, usually by 8 am. Last week, they took the carts (two 85 gals one that were overflowing (how can people generate THAT much garbage??)) tot he street just before they picked the trash up. Then the carts sat there. and sat there. and sat there. Until Wed night. I seen them coming and going several times over the two days so it is not like they were not home.

Today I see them hauling out piles of trash to the curb. Not just a bag or two but boxes, chairs and quite a few bags

We are suppose to get rain/snow over the weekend and this will for sure now be a wet, soggy mess.  I am half tempted to copy this picture and tape it to their front door but doubt they would pay attention to it anyway. I should call the city on them.

I guess I just don't understand why people do stuff without regards for other people. I really don't want to look at their trash sitting there for the next three days. Once it rains I'm pretty sure the garbage guy doesn't want to have to pick it up. Don't make things harder than they have to be. Do what's right and don't do shit that will impact someone else.

PS. These are also the people who for the first month they lived here parked on the street and got a parking ticket every night for almost a month. How hard is it to pull your POS minivan into the driveway?

PPS.. as I've been writing this post their dog has been outside barking the entire time. I tried to get a sound clip but I'm not that stealthy. 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Five Years Later

Five years ago today, my world was tossed upside down. You can read about it here. You don't expect to be 39 and wonder how will you go on.

Some days, I am still sad. Some days, I am happy. Some days, I am still angry. Some days, I find that there is something I want to share with you. Some days, I wonder what might have been. Some days, I don't think about you at all. I think that Rufus still misses you.

I look back over the past five years and think about  how my life has changed. The things I've done that I never thought I would or could do. The places I've gone. The people I've met. I probably would have never done any of that if you were still here.

I found out that I'm stronger than I ever knew could be. For that I'm so glad.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Big Eddy and the Angels

This post is a long time in coming. Just never got around to taking the pictures off my phone.

Last month, Barley's Angels was invited to the Miller Caves for a Leinenkugel's tasting. I had met the 10th and Blake representative, Lisa Zimmer about a year ago for a Beer Club event she hosted. We later found out that we are both space geeks and would have been at the same NASA TweetUp for the last ever shuttle launch. I had contacted her to see if she was interested in hosting an event for the Angels. She was.

The meeting was being held at the historic Miller caves. The caves are where Frederick Miller first stored his brews over 150 years ago. It was a pretty cool (literally) place carved into the hillside. The theme for this month's meeting was Leinenkugel's and their Big Eddy series of beers.
The Miller caves are carved into a hillside and is the original stone

When we arrived, we were treated with Honey Weiss or Orange Shandy paired with either spinach, mozzarella and tomato flat bread or roasted red pepper and basil flat bread. I liked mixing the two beers together and having what was called an Orange Blossom.

The first course was the Hoppin Helles paired with rosemary chicken breast stuffed with herb garlic and topped with a balsamic cream sauce and caramelized onions over pearl couscous. The sauce was made with the Hoppin Helles and really brought out the citrus flavors in the beer and food.

Hoppin Helles

Next up was the Snowdrift Vanilla porter paired with sweet potato puree topped with brussels sprouts with bacon and vidalia onion. The porter and sweet potato was perfect together. I even ate a brussles sprout an it was ok. Just not a big fan of them.

Snowdrift Vanilla Porter

The main course was the Big Eddy Baltic porter served with prime medallion filet mignon with the porter demi-glaze and fingerling potatoes. This was fantastic!! The steak was so tender you didn't even need a knife to cut it.

Big Eddy Baltic Porter

For dessert we had Bid Eddy Russian Imperial stout that had been aged a year. It as paired with a flourless chocolate torte with Door County cherry and raspberry melba sauce. OMG!! This was fantastic. The stout really was so good with the berry and chocolate. I could have had that every day and I would be happy.

Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout 2012
I was blown away by Lisa, Amanda and Chef Ernie. We had a great evening and I hope that Barley's Angles and 10th & Blake can pair up again for an event.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Cutting the Cord

Most everyone has cable. Every couple of months it goes up. Not a lot, a few dollars here and few dollars there. After a while you realize that your cable bill is damn near a mortgage payment.

It started almost a year ago when Time Warner (TW) started charging for "leasing" their cable modem. I've had the same modem for almost five years and now they want $5/month to lease it. After talking to a few people, I discovered that you can use your own cable modem. I went to TW's website and found a list of modems that are supported. I bought one on Amazon. Do your homework as prices can vary quite a bit. I wanted one that if I ever upgraded my internet speed the modem could handle it. It took about 15 minutes to set up. You have to call TW and give them the MAC address of the new modem. Make sure you return the old modem to avoid still being charged for it.

I work from home two days a week and some days spend 3-4 hours in meetings so having a land line is essential. Using my cell phone would eat my minutes up in a couple of days. So, I started doing some research on VoIP phones.  A few days later had a Ooma as one of their daily deals. I snapped it up. I liked that Consumer Reports gave them a good rating. An added plus was that when you register your device you enter your address and it can be used by 911 to determine your location. It is now $40 to port your existing phone number. They said it would take a month. More like a week and there was no loss of service. You get emails from them at every step and know when things are going to happen and are done. They even notified TW to cancel their phone service for you. The call quality is excellent and have never had an issue with it. All I pay for is taxes which comes to $3.71/month. That saved me $30/month

TV service is where things took a bit longer. I started out by making a list of what I DVR'ed. Everything I watched except Finding Bigfoot (which I may break down and get on iTunes, unless some kind soul will let me watch it at their house) is available for free. I can either watch most shows live or stream from the networks websites. 

I've had Netflix for years so I can use that as an option for some shows

I had a digital antenna I got when the gov't was giving them out for free several years ago. TW was giving them out for free, so you may want to ask them if they sill are giving them out. Otherwise you can get one at Target or Best Buy for $20. If your tv is newer it may already be built in. I already had a Roku player. That can get lots of channels including Netflix/ Hulu. There are several options available.

My DVD player was about 10-ish years old (it was a PJ’s raffle one from like 2002) so for $75 I bought a blue ray that has internet and Netflix built in. It can get several other channels as well. I have a Wii and stream Netflix from there as well.

My laptop is older and does not have an HDMI port so I bought a little converter on Amazon. I can connect the laptop to my tv and stream network shows from there if I want to watch something that has already aired.If you have an HDMI port on a laptop, you can stream using a cable to the tv without the converter

One of the biggest things I watched on cable was sports. Namely the Brewers games. Come next baseball season I can stream from any of the devices. If you are wanting to watch your local team they are delayed. So I found a website that will switch your IP address for $25/year so you can get the games live instead of on delay. The Brewers season ended on Sept 29th. I returned my cable box on the 30th. 

My last cable bill was $143/month. Next month it will be about $53. I call that a huge win to my pocket book