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Well, my good friend Guy Robinson is raising hell again. ūüôā

Guy is currently working for IBM in Ireland and is the person that gave us the heads up on the job I took in Scotland. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have known about it. So, we’re very grateful that he gave us the heads up. Even though it fell apart in the end it was one of the grandest adventures of our life.

Well, he just (semi) jokingly sent me a link about a job in New Zealand. Wellington to be precise. It’s for the new 34 Teraflop IBM that the “National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research”, NIWA,¬† purchased. It seems that they need some HPC people to make it run. Job Detail. Roberta and I always joked that we’d love to go there some day.

So, I told¬† Roberta about the job in New Zealand, half jokingly, and she, half jokingly, threatened to castrate me. So, I don’t think we’ll be going there any time soon. Maybe for a vacation.

This weekend Molly made the comment, “We want to go back to Scotland.” When I told them I didn’t have a job opportunity in Scotland but there might be one in New Zealand they wanted to know all about it. They found it really funny that if you take and zoom in on Scotland with Google Earth and then spin the globe along the poles you fly over the South Pole and there on the opposite side of the world is New Zealand. Not quite the exact opposite, but so close as to not matter.

Ahh, Guy, you are nothin but trouble. ūüôā

There are times in your life when you feel deep in your gut that life altering changes are about to happen. For good or ill, your life is about to change and you can either ride with it our become overwhelmed.

When I left home for the Army. That was the first one I truly caused. It’s one I will never forget. 18 years old and I had just sold my body into 4 years of government slavery. Buddah was that a scary moment for me. It’s because of that I met and befriended John.

Then there was the time I left my wife and daughters for Alaska. I’ll never forget the gut wrenching fear that I would never see them again. Leaving them in the driveway watching me go. My young wife and twin two year olds. Meg was at school or I don’t know if I could have done it. That was so very hard. Knowing that the best case scenario had me seeing them again in a month. Heading for a land that I had never even seen before. With such a fear that I’d be gone forever.

Then when we had to say good bye to Lynn and Chuck. After less that 2 years as their friends and neighbors. Not knowing if, or when we would see them again. Heading off on another adventure, for Scotland this time. A new place, a new country, a new job, a new experience. Ironically, other than saying good by to Lynn and Chuck, it was one of the easiest, emotionally, moves I’ve done. Strange as that sounds. But knowing this would change our lives.

Now. The words “Pancreatic Cancer”. I’m still struggling to come to grips. The gut wrenching knowledge that I will, no matter how much I fight it, be raising three daughters on my own at some time in the not far enough future. My wife. The young girl I met and married 17 years ago will soon no longer be waking up at my side. It causes my fear of leaving my family for Alaska as nothing but a pale ghost in comparison. The fear I had when I joined the Army. Nothing.

This is going to be one of those moments in time that will never be erased from my memories. We all live, we all die. It’s not a matter of how long we live, but how well. We’ve had a hell of a good life. A lot of good, our share of bad. But the key phrase is, we’ve had “a lot”. Life will go on. It’s not going to be the same. I have no idea how I will handle it. Other than I will move forward. The girls will grow, live their lives, be happy and find someone to love.

I don’t know what the future will hold. It’s going to be different. I don’t know if it will be good or not. I guess it will be what it will be. I just know that there are¬†big changes coming.

My good friend Marnie is starting to blog. I can’t wait to see what she has to say. I love reading the blogs of my friends. It gives a feeling of connection. Even¬†from a distance. The hardest part of blogging is that it’s a cross between saying what you want in your own head and also saying what you want to total strangers. The danger comes when you say what’s in your head, but it’s not something you want people you know to know.

I found this out with a blog post about my frustrations at work. It felt so good to let off some steam and ask the question “what are they thinking??”. Unfortunately it seems my boss at the time was reading my blogs on occasion. Woops. Nothing bad, mind you, but it can be taken in the wrong light and held against you. Which this was.

I have on more than one occassion written something in the middle of the night and then deleted it the next morning when the cold reality of the day showed that maybe, in all truth,¬†I shouldn’t really write what I feel. That maybe telling the world about my emotional hell/happiness might not be such a good idea.

There is a fine line that can easily be crossed between writing what’s interesting and writing what can be a bit too personal. Especially in times of great stress. Hmmm. Kind of like right now.

On the flip side of that, putting down in words things that are on the edge of driving you insane can get you through another day. Things that keep you up till 1:45am (the current time) can sometimes be calmed by writing about them. There is a level of anonymity that blogging can give. The feeling that you’re not writing something for someone else to read, but writing something down so that it’s no longer bouncing around in your head. That can be both the danger and release.

This web page began as a gallery of pictures of our adventures around the world and has slowly migrated over time to a blog with pictures. I’m not really sure it that’s a good or bad thing. I guess only time can tell.

There are times when what I do is pretty cool. Other times it’s a pain in the tail.

Today I had a visitor over from the Naval Postgraduate School and during the show and tell I was giving he mentioned another show and tell up at Stanford that I might be interested in. It seems that they are doing a project up there similar to what I am doing down here. Basically taking 10+ Terabytes of data down linked from Satellite a day and placing it on disk, and then subsequently onto tape for longer term storage.

They are grabbing data from the SOHO satellite and other astronomical systems while I’ll be grabbing scientific data off of the NPOESS satellites.

I love these views of the sun.

It’ll be a real kick to go up there to Stanford and chat with these guys. I’ll tag the guy in charge next week and see if I can’t get a meeting set up. Should be fun.

I ended up getting a Blackberry for work about a month ago, and the first day I had it we bought a used one for Roberta. Mine is on Sprint, Roberta’s on Verizon. Both are¬†World Edition 8830’s and both will be referred to from now on as the SuckBerries.

It’s great to have hundreds of gadgets available on your phone. Sadly, 95% of them are unstable, semi usable, and over all poorly made. Let’s look at the greatest (flops) features.

Web Browsing: Works great, if you don’t mind the 15-60 second wait for each page to load, and that’s in a good network area. In a poor area half the time it¬†never finishes a page load. At the house it flat doesn’t work. I also love the “not available at this time” feature that doesn’t go away until you do a battery pull and reboot of the phone, then it magically works again. Well, kind of.

Texting: Full keyboard, so tiny you hit 80% of the keys correctly the first time. Texts show up in a reasonable amount of time 90% of the time. The other 10%, well, up to a 4 hour delay so far. And let’s not forget the undeleteable texts. Those are the ones that you delete and they don’t go away. You have to pull the battery to get them to clear. Happens about twice a week for me.

Phone Calls: Ah the beauty of a phone, that can’t make phone calls. I use the old verizon phone at the house because the new suckberry has such poor reception I cannot make a phone call, even standing outside in the street. In a good reception area I only lose the call 1 out of 4 or 5 calls. Which is annoying as hell when you have to keep calling someone back.

GPS Maps: A great idea. Use the gps function of the phone and add a mapping feature. Too bad it doesn’t work worth a crap. Tried to get it to work today. Hit the “get directions” function for an address in Salinas, 20 miles away. 10 miles into the drive and it’s still trying to find the satellites. That’s when I killed it and figured it just wouldn’t work at all today. Maybe tomorrow it will magically work again. Probably not.

Computer connectivity: AKA Desktop Manager. I really think this must be written completely in java. That’s the only programming language that I know of that can be so poorly written as to completely kill the performance of a dual core monster PC that I have. So damn slow as to be nearly unusable. Seriously. It’s that slow. Unusable to do the “media” functions the suckberry is advertised for. I have an 8GB card in both of our phones and have successfully installed 1 album, 8¬†songs, ¬†so far on just mine. Roberta gave up.¬†My ipod? 4800 songs, movies, photos, etc.

Voice commands: The button for the voice commands is located on the side of the phone in such a location that you almost always hit it when you remove the phone from the holster. You have to just love/despise the “Say a command” coming from the phone everytime you pull it out. And no, it doesn’t respond to “Bite Me you sorry piece of @#$%”.

Conclusion: So, we have a phone that doesn’t make phone calls, a web browser that’s dog slow, a media player that you can’t load media on, a gps system that never properly finds the satellites, and a texting machine that will randomly hold texts for hours on end and then not let you delete others. And to¬†top it off, poorly placed keys. ¬†Hmmm…. Great idea the SuckBerry. It does it all¬†for you.¬†Just none of it right.¬†

And the kicker, you can’t blame the carrier. This is on both suckberry networks, Sprint and Verizon.

Enough of the sadness! It’s Friday morning and it’s going to be a good day. End of story.

This morning the girls and I are going to stop off at B’s coffee house on the way to school and pick up 3 hot chocolates and a coffee. This morning the local radio station will be broadcasting live from the coffee shop, so that should be interesting.

I’m writing this while we’re all waiting on Megan. The Teenager! Big surprise right?

Stupidly I’m wearing a white shirt, no tie, for work and I’ll be helping Dottie and Carol hook up the car dolly to the 37′ motor home. What are the odds it’ll still be white when I’m done?

Lunch with Roberta later and then it’s the weekend.

I received a text message tonight, 4 hours after it was sent. Welcome to Pacific Grove. Anyhow, it was a simple question. “How did it go with the twins?”

We only spoke with Molly tonight, due to the fact that she overheard us last night. We talk with Nora tomorrow night. Molly didn’t want to talk about it until after everyone else went to bed. Then, there she was in our doorway crying.

How did it go? It was the most emotionally painful thing I have ever experienced. I watched my 10 year old daughter sob in pain, trying to come to grips with the eminent death of her mother. And I couldn’t do anything other than tell her that we will get through this. It’s going to be the most painful experience of her life, but we will get through it. Her sisters and I will be there with her. While her mom sat there and cried, trying to tell her it would be okay.

This is really hard.

We don’t know when it will happen. We don’t know if it will be months, or hopefully years, but it’s going to happen. And faster than we will want, or be ready for. We want so much to protect our girls from this, but can’t. We have to be as honest as we can. We want them to come to grips with this and spend as much time with Roberta as they can. Now that we know this is what it is, we have to let them know. It’s what we have to do.

We will have to do this again tomorrow when we tell Nora. The one thing Molly asked was that she be allowed to go over to Nana and Pappa’s when we tell Nora. She doesn’t want to be here to see Nora crying.

This really sucks.

We were planning on telling Molly and Nora about Roberta’s cancer this weekend. As such I wanted to let their teacher know in case they had any problems at school.

Today is Thursday, early day at Robert Down Elementary. I pick the girls up on Thursdays. So, after the bell rang I went into their class room and the first words out of the teachers mouth were, “we need to talk”. Uh Oh.

I expected to hear about Molly and Nora’s difficulties with math, or something. Instead I hear, Molly had a meltdown yesterday. She told me her mom is sick with Pancreatic Cancer. Is it true? Damn.

So much for keeping them out of the loop. I don’t think we’ll be able to wait for the weekend. We’re going to have to sit down and have a talk tonight I think. Damn. This is something I wish no one had to do.

Lesson learned? Kids know more than adults give them credit for.

This morning we got a late start because I slept through my alarm. I don’t even remember it going off actually. Anyhow, I got Molly and Nora to school on time, barely, but Megan ended up 45 minutes late.

Because Megan was late due to my sleeping through the alarm she now has an hours detention. If on the other hand I had lied and said she was late due to¬† a headache/cold/flu, etc she wouldn’t have gotten detention. So, guess what will happen the next time?

It’s a stupid policy and I would have raised a stink if I didn’t have so much else going on right now.

So, lesson learned. Pacific Grove High School, you pencil pushing, check box minded, idiots. I will flat out lie to you from now on. Congratulations. You’re teaching our children a great lesson. It is better to lie and not be punished than to tell the truth and be punished.

I wrote this a week or so ago and never posted it. I’ve done this many times lately. And then I delete them. It’s too personal I think. But, the cat’s out now. It’s been said aloud, and can’t be put back. Roberta is dying of Pancreatic Cancer. Period. Face the facts. Suck it up.

I don’t know if it’s easier or harder. The fact that it’s not me, but Roberta, that’s sick.

Molly and I were sitting on the couch tonight, watching some silly movie on tv. She has a cold, so doesn’t feel well, and wanted to snuggle. So, we’re sitting on the couch, and Roberta wanders into the kitchen to heat up her rice bag in the microwave.¬† I can hear her putzing around in the kitchen, and I had the sudden realization that in the not too distant future Molly and I might be sitting on this same couch, snuggled up watching a show, and Robeta putzing in the kitchen will only be in my memories. The haunting sounds in my own head.

This is not going to be easy.

I will do what I can to keep this blog about the day to day trivia that makes up a families life. But, I don’t make any guarantees. I might have moments of lapse like tonight. Where the weight of the future is more than can be handled. If only I could stop time. I know it’s coming, if only I could hold it off.

Live life today, like you have no tomorrow, for you may not.

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September 2009
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