# Tuesday, 08 August 2017
Tuesday, 08 August 2017 05:21:28 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, 06 August 2017

8/6
Today I am grateful for:
-3 days in downtown Kansas City
-Lunch with Sara
-Pizza with Tim at Pequod's last night

8/5
Today I am grateful to attend my first PubConf last night.

8/4
Today I am grateful for my first time speaking at #KCDC.

8/3
Today I am grateful to meet so many old friends in Kansas City last night.

8/2
Today I am grateful for the past, present, and future MVPs who contribute so much to our community.

8/1
Today I am grateful to watch Game of Thrones each week with my son.

7/31
Today I am grateful for:
-breakfast with Tim and Ahmani yesterday
-a drink last night with Tim at the new outdoor café across the street.

7/30
Today I am grateful for the International Nodebots Day workshop yesterday.

7/29
Today I am grateful to spend a day with my team.

7/28
Today I am grateful I was able to help people multiple times yesterday.

7/27
Today I am grateful I got these web services working (mostly)

7/26
Today I am grateful for:
-Starting a new project yesterday
-Coffee with Thad -Dinner with Michael and Dave

7/25
Today I am grateful for a chance to sleep in this morning.

7/24
Today I am grateful for an afternoon at Warren Dunes State Park.

7/23
Today I am grateful for a week in Las Vegas with Microsoft folks from around the world.

7/22
Today I am grateful for a gondola ride yesterday with Jennifer and Matt.

7/21
Today I am grateful for:
-Lunch with Jeffrey
-Drinks with Scott and Brian
-Dinner with Shahed, Nickolas, Paul, Jeffrey, and Bret

7/20
Today I am grateful to see Lenny Kravitz and Ellie Goulding in concert last night.

7/19
Today I am grateful to reconnect with so many colleagues yesterday.

7/18
Today I am grateful for honest conversations.

7/17
Today I am grateful for the year that we had together.

7/16
Today I am grateful that Thad and I saw Pharez Whitted in concert at the Jazz Showcase last night - my first visit to the club.

7/15
Today I am grateful for a Pakistani dinner with Raj last night.

7/14
Today I am grateful to meet so many students and entrepreneurs from Africa yesterday.

7/13
Today I am grateful to the organizers, volunteers, speakers, and attendees of the first Detroit.Code() conference for making the event a success.

7/12
Today I am grateful for:
-Lunch yesterday with Mark
-Help from Ryan answering my JavaScript questions

7/11
Today I am grateful to see so many friends last night in Detroit.

7/10
Today I am grateful for a visit from my son Nick this weekend.

7/9
Today I am grateful to attend a Cubs game last night with Nick and Tim.

7/8
Today I am grateful to go to the gym and dinner last night with Tim.

7/7
Today I am grateful for dinner with Emilija last night.

7/6
Today I am grateful for lunch with Ondrej yesterday.

7/5
Today I am grateful for fireworks last night in Dawn and Bill's backyard

7/4
Today I am grateful to live in the United States of America.

7/3
Today I am grateful for the hospitality and generosity of Kevin and Judy, who opened their home to me.

7/2
Today I am grateful for yesterday's celebration of my mother's life.

Sunday, 06 August 2017 13:48:55 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, 31 July 2017
Monday, 31 July 2017 11:40:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin is the story of the twin planets - Anarres and Urras that rotate about one another.

Centuries ago, a group of revolutionaries on Urras escaped or were exiled to the barren world of Anarres, where they have been working the mines and building an equalitarian society - a society in which all property is owned collectively, and everyone shares everything and the government controls nothing.

Urras is a world with a beautiful main city where everyone has plenty. But the ruling class of this city oppresses the lower classes outside the city and keeps them in their caste. An oppressive government keeps the rich and poor in their places.

Shevek is a physicist, who was born on Anarres; but he is one of the few from that world permitted to visit Urras. Shevek is invited to an Urras university in order to complete his work - a work that the Urrans hope can allow them to produce faster-than-light interstellar travel. He is overwhelmed by the beauty of his host city, unaware of the suffering outside the walls until local rebels try to contact him.

The story is filled with ambiguities: The 2 planets orbit one another yet each considers the other its moon; It's never clear if walls are built to keep people out or in; the anarchy of Anarres seems morally superior to the caste system of Urras, but Anarres's system is far from perfect and its people suffer much hardships.

LeGuin tells the story in a non-linear fashion, alternating chapters between recounting Shevek's early life and his pilgrimage to Urras. This narrative style can be hard to follow at times, but it revealed his character and contrasted the strengths and weaknesses of each society.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed LeGuin's writing. She weaves within her stories multiple themes about society and economics. I will be reading her work again soon - maybe a second reading of this book.

Saturday, 29 July 2017 06:53:50 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, 24 July 2017
Monday, 24 July 2017 16:36:36 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, 17 July 2017
Monday, 17 July 2017 10:06:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, 10 July 2017
# Saturday, 08 July 2017

AssassinsQuestAssassin's Quest is the third, final, and longest book in Robin Hobbs's Farseer Trilogy.

It also the book with the most action.

Royal bastard Fitzchivalry Farseer was executed by his Uncle Regal, who has usurped the throne from its rightful heir. He escaped by using his Wit power to transfer his consciousness to his wolf-brother and living as a wolf for weeks. Fitz's allies manage to return his soul to his exhumed body following the execution, but he is become more wolf than man and struggles to resume his old life or to fight for his kingdom.

King Shrewd and King-In-Waiting Chivalry (Fitz's Father) are both dead.  Verity has left the kingdom to seek the help of the legendary Elderlings, hoping they can rescue his kingdom from the attacking Red Raiders.

Fitz has 2 quests in this story - the first to find and assassinate King Regal and the second to find his Uncle Verity in hopes he can restore order to the kingdom.

Most of this book follows Fitzchivalry's odyssey across the world, seeking Verity and the dangers he encounters along the way. He is reunited with The Fool - a jester he befriended during his days at court. The Fool reveals himself to be more than he showed before and they seek Verity together.

This is the most complex and most satisfying of the 3 Farseer novels. The storylines weave in and out as Fitz travels across the world and out of his own kingdom. Magical powers are used just enough to keep them plausible in this world; but not so much that they are an easy escape from any danger.

Assassin's Quest completes Fitz's transition to manhood and brings the story of Regal's power grasp to a conclusion. The ending felt a bit rushed, but Hobb managed to tie up each of the plot lines. Overall, I very much enjoyed this series.

Saturday, 08 July 2017 14:04:25 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, 05 July 2017

"Royal Assassin" continues the saga of FitzChivalry, the bastard son of king-in-waiting Chivalry, who is raised to be an assassin.

Fitz recovers from the assassination attempt by his Uncle Regal at the end of "Assassin's Apprentice". He grows to manhood at a court engulfed by the rivalry between his two uncles: the noble Verity and the wicked Regal. Regal and his minions plot to poison the mind of King Shrewd by drugging and isolating him from anyone else. Meanwhile, Verity is devoted to the protection of his people (most notably from the invading and pillaging Red Raiders).

This story mostly involves political intrigue as Fitz is caught in the middle of a battle between his 2 uncles. But there is also much action and character development, most notably of Fitz himself, who is growing to manhood and attempting to harness his mental powers.

Fitz is prosecuted for practicing the feared and illegal Wit power and must find a way to hide it while also using it to protect himself, his king, the kingdom, and his woman.

I enjoyed the story on its own, but it also convinced me to complete the Farseer Trilogy. So, I am now on to book 3!

Wednesday, 05 July 2017 09:53:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, 04 July 2017

JoyceGiardMy mother - Joyce Ann Gill Giard - had a lot of idiosyncrasies.

There were phrases she would repeat often. "and what not" meant she could not think how to complete her current thought; "so anyway" meant she was ready to leave; and "You're special" meant that she wanted to say something nice about you but could not think of anything specific.

There was her inability to tell a story properly. So many times, she would tell a nonsensical punchline; then remember that she had forgotten an important bit from earlier in the story.

And there was her habit of re-telling the same story to us, as if we hadn't heard it a hundred times already - maybe just yesterday. Maybe earlier in the same conversation.

We used to make fun of my mother for these idiosyncrasies. We would smile, and roll our eyes, and we would laugh about it later.

But I began to rethink this attitude a few years ago. That was when my mother's life was struck with a series of tragedies.

It began when my father - Norm Giard - was diagnosed with skin cancer. He recovered, but it cost him his entire nose, which had to be rebuilt.

Next came the following events, which happened in rapid succession.

  • My mother had open heart surgery
  • My sister Denise (Mom's oldest child) died suddenly at the age of 50.
  • Someone my mother trusted betrayed the family and tried to steal an inheritance left to my sister's daughters. This ordeal lasted nearly a year.
  • My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He ultimately had to be placed in a nursing home when my mother was unable to care for him.
  • My mother was in an automobile accident. She was in the hospital over 6 months and never fully regained the use of her legs.
  • My father passed away after a long illness.
  • My mother's health deteriorated, leaving her deaf, confined to a wheelchair, and losing her memory.

JoyceAndDavid2015-06-13 It was her loss of hearing and memory that my mother found most frustrating. Mom was a very social person. She loved people; she loved spending time with her friends; and she loved to start conversations with strangers. I was once driving her around our old neighborhood when she spotted the current owners of our former home. I had not fully stopped the car before she had opened the passenger door to get out and introduce herself.

As her memory faded, she found it difficult to recall the names of close friends and how she knew them. She once called me in a panic because she could not remember where she had met my father.

When she lost her hearing, she found it nearly impossible to engage the new people she met. And when she moved into an assisted living facility in Michigan, everyone was new.

It was this string of tragedies and the dignity with which my mother faced them that caused me to re-think her and my behavior around her. Her idiosyncrasies became for me unique aspects of her personality, rather than a reason to roll my eyes.

I would visit her, and she would tell me "You're special" and I would respond "No. *You're* special!".

She would tell me a story I've heard before and I would listen and nod as if I were hearing it for the first time.

And I laughed at her jokes.

These struggles and these tragedies did not break her. I admire that she maintained a positive attitude and a strong faith throughout all this. She did not blame anyone for her fate. And she remained positive that she would eventually be reunited with her husband and daughter.

My last visit with my mother - about 6 weeks ago We still sometimes laugh at my mother's idiosyncrasies; but now we do so with the appreciation that these are the things that set her apart; that made her unique; that made her the woman we loved.

Joyce Ann Gill Giard passed away last week at the age of 84. Yesterday, I returned from her funeral in Florida.

If she were here with me right now, I would tell her in no uncertain terms: "You are special!"

Tuesday, 04 July 2017 21:27:47 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)