Friday, January 13, 2023

Travel First Aid Kit

I finally got this dialed in just the way I like it.

Container 8 x 5 x 4" zip bag with mesh pocket.

EDC - Sleeve with band-aids, antiseptic balm, antacid, anti-diarrheal


Hand Sanitizer

Main Compartment (Day Trip) - ibuprofen liquid capsules, inhaler, insect repellent, eye drops, adhesive wrap, Dramamine, cough drops

Extended trip sleeve - anti-histamine, itch cream, cuticle cream, nasal gel

Still some room to add daily medications and cough/cold medication


I purchased some extra sleeves and single use antiseptic.  I would like my daughters to develop a first aid kit with band-aids, antiseptic balm, ibuprofen and develop it over time to meet their lifestyle needs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Career Transitions

Most of my career transitions have always had an inciting incident:

1989 - Started Engineering at Purdue with strong math and science skills
1991 - Wanted to pursue medicine and added Pre-Med electives
1993 - Rejected from medical programs, started Biotech at Northwestern to improve grades
1994 - Started Medical school at Indiana University
1997 - Withdrew due to alcohol related disciplinary issues
1997 - Job hopped from liquor store, Red Lobster, Hauser Chemical, Feiger Health Center
1997 - Landed job at StorageTek via a temp service, started as a manufacturing engineer
2000 - Internally recruited to product design
2003 - Started MBA after completing PE license and being inspired by colleagues
2006 - Finished MBA and transferred to Program Management
2017 - Laid off by Oracle and took first available job at Liberty Oilfield Services
2018 - Burned out by travel and long hours and took first job offer at CDOT design and construction
2022 - Looking for a change of pace and applied internally/externally R1, West Program, HQ
2023 - Intend to start in Traffic & Safety as the first available job offer

From the age of eighteen, I have either been in school or working continuously with the longest gap being in 2017.  I have not left a job without another in hand by choice.  

Historically, I have gotten cynical, taken my work less seriously, found myself going through the motions and making mistakes and oversights.  This started at CDOT and then I found myself embroiled in personality conflicts and disagreements with my management chain.  This was my impetus for change.

The Traffic & Safety position will be an exciting challenge.  It will entail more coordinating and less technical work.  It is a lateral move and could give me more visibility to a long term landing place at CDOT.

I have always enjoyed puzzles and troubleshooting.  I prefer to work in a controlled environment.

That being said, I have been done my fair share of administrative tasks and worked in challenging environments.  I have worked behind the scenes and have been customer facing.

My professional life has never been a passion.  However, my education and employment history have created marketable skills that pay fairly and allow me to contribute to society.

Essentially, I have discovered that I have enjoyed learning and getting good at something and if that slows or stops, I want to do something else.  If practical, I would find myself working as an entry level employee for 4 years in 10 different career fields to generate a 40 year career.

I have been more inspired by my fitness hobbies.  Unfortunately, these would not drive my economic engine.  

I have considered a side hustle with personal training, financial advice and working as a coin dealer.  

These could transition into retirement as well.

Monday, January 09, 2023

Long Haul Travel

Random musings on packing, what to bring, how to bring, staying organized.

4-6 days clothes depending on laundry facilities, pajamas, outerwear, footwear.
  • 6 t-shirts
  • 6 underwear
  • 6 socks
  • jeans
  • sweatpants
  • pajamas
  • rain coat
  • long sleeve shirt
  • shorts
  • flip flops
  • polo shirt
  • kurtha
  • jacket
  • hat
  • gloves
  • swimsuit & goggle
  • hat
Toiletries, travel sized and topped off, will have to separate liquids for screening, make-up.  
  • toothbrush
  • paste
  • floss/go-between
  • shaving cream
  • razor
  • aftershave
  • hair product
  • hair brush
  • body wash
  • shampoo
  • deoderant
  • lotion - Purchased refillable GoToob+ on 1/12/2023 from REI for $7
  • Cell phone/laptop and chargers, will have to keep power bank in carry on. 
  • Power bank (must stay in carry on)
  • Luggage scale
  • International charging block
  • Nail cutter and file, will have to be in checked bag
  • Eyeglasses and sunglasses
  • Small scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical tape
  • Lighter
  • Multi-tool
  • Zip lock bags
  • Carabiner
  • Snacks/mints
  • Kleenex
  • Compression calf sleeves
  • Water bottle
  • Passports, keep accessible
  • Currency, wallet, keep secure
Medical EDC
  • Bandaids
  • Neosporin
  • Tums
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Immodium
Medical Day Trip - Add
  • Advil
  • Inhaler
  • Insect repllent
  • Eye drops
  • Adhesive Wrap
  • Dramamine
  • Cough drops
Medical Extended Trip - Add
  • Benadryl
  • Itch Cream
  • Cuticle Cream
  • Nasal Gel
  • Cold/Cough Medication
Prescription medication - As required, plus a couple of days spare

  • 50 pound checked bag
  • Carry on bag
  • Personal item
  • Apple Airpods
  • Bag locks
  • Packing Cubes
  • Shoe bags
Stay organized with packing cubes, pouches and zip locks, be prepared to separate electronics, liquids and sharp objects, know what goes in checked bags and carry on.  Be prepared to separate liquids and electronics for airport security

Under the seat in front of you, charging cable, power bank, water bottle, snacks, mints, light jacket extra socks, moisturizer, neck pillow

Pack as 3 kg small item, 7 kg carry on and 15 kg checked bag for India domestic travel.  Nothing should be full in terms of volume.

EDC - first aid, Immodium, cash, eye glasses, hand sanitizer, wallet, mask, antacid

Water bottle, I carried a 1 liter and a 200 mL, I will buy a 500 mL for future travel.  Purchased 1/12/2023 from REI for $7.  Should be ideal.

I am planning on buying a Nero Fillo travel pillow.  I am also considering the Thermarest Lumbar pillow.

I like to carry compression calf sleeves and wear them for all flights regardless of duration.

I sometimes bring a hat, but only with a lot of outdoor activity or sporting events.

Small scissors, electrical tape, duct tape, keep these in checked baggage as they are often prohibited.  I also carried a disposable lighter for shoelace repair, but would be hesitant to pack again in the future.  It is often prohibited and did not come in handy.  I left the multi-tool at home also.  It would have been fine in checked baggage.

Measuring tape and duct tape was confiscated by Delhi Airport security from my daughters carry on.

We also traveled with a luggage scale that did come in handy.

We also carried an international charging station. that was very useful and a must travel item.  I did not need my toothbrush charger for a 2 week trip.

I like to wear a travel vest to stay organized.  I like all of the pockets and if pressed, it could even replace a carry on bag.

I also carry a few zip lock bags and a carabiner and they have mixed value.  I do keep drawstring bags that I use for shoes and odd items, but I might switch over to mesh bags as they would be see through.

The ziplocks were most handy to pack up food from the lounges to snack on later.

For outerwear, I always include a windbreaker as they are small, pack tight and provide a surprising amount of warmth.

Aside from a pair of khaki pants that I did not utilize, all of my other packed items were useful.  I did not use the sharpie or cuticle cream and I would have liked to have had lotion.

I did not use my go betweens or mouth guard and I am not sure what the repercussions of that will be, but I brushing me teeth with filtered water and would have used significantly more with my full oral regiment.   I also brought shampoo and bodywash that I did not use, but would still pack again in the future.

I would like an under seat bag that I could pull out of my backpack and am seriously considering the Patagonia 3L and 6L bags.  The 10L feels too big, but I will probably get it anyway to complete the set.  I will certainly find a use for it.  I took a look at these at REI and opted to get the 6L and 10L bags for $45 and $55 respectively.  The 3L was too small to be practical for most of the things I would pack in it.  I have not test packed it yet.

I also want to consolidate first aid supplies as EDC, day trip and extended.  My full kit fit inside a 8x5x3 inch bag (about 2L).  This is a reasonable size to pack for nearly every trip.

On the way back we had several connections and it would have been nice to brush my teeth, shave and apply fresh deodorant.  If I am checking my dopp kit, I will carry those items in my carry on.  Otherwise, I will have my dopp kit available.

Passage to India 2023

I have traveled to India a number of times.

1972 - My mom took me when I was a baby
1977 - Family trip for Vimal Uncle's wedding
1981 - Family trip, not sure about date
1984 - Family trip, not sure about date
1987 - Family trip, not sure about date
1993 - Family trip, definitely went in college
2001 - Family trip, definitely went after moving to Colorado
2008 - Family trip with Ratna and Diya - Gautam's wedding
2011 - Family trip with Ratna, Diya and Nisha - Delhi and Ahmedabad only
2022 - Family trip with Ratna, Diya and Nisha - Delhi, Amritsar and Ahmedabad

The dates kind of blur together and we never did much site-seeing during family trips.  I do remember the pictures from the Taj Mahal in 1977.  I also recall going to the caves near Mumbai.  Finally, we drove to Kashmir when I was in high school (probably the 1987 trip).

With that pretext, we planned a trip as we were long overdue to connect with family and people are getting older.  Since 2011, my last grandparent died, two uncles on my Mom's side have passed away and my wife has lost several aunts and uncles.  Also the kids are older and we wanted to make a trip that they could remember.

Pre trip we all had typhoid immunization and we were prescribed malaria medication, but did not take them.  We also verified that our OCI cards would still be valid for the trip.  We electronically stored all of our travel information as well in case anything got lost.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022 - Day 1

After packing for several days and trying to button up the house, we finally turned the water off, provided the neighbors with keys to the house, locked up and hopped in an Uber XL with (4) checked bags, (4) carry on bags and (4) backpacks.  I will touch on packing in a future post.  It took an hour to get to the airport, check in and security took a long time, we grabbed Einstein bagel and Pizza Hut as a snack.  The 9 hour flight to Munich took off on time at 1630.  We flied Lufthansa on a A350-900 wide body jet.  They served chicken or pasta for dinner and then egg salad on a croissant for breakfast.  We were very fortunate to just beat the blizzard which snarled travel across the country.

Thursday, December 22, 2022 - Day 2

We disembarked around 1000, did passport check and collected our luggage.  We dropped off bags at left luggage and then took the airport shuttle to Le Meridian.

In Munich, we walked to the city center, visited two churches, snacked on roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, donuts, apple fritters, warm nuts and a giant pretzel.  We had dinner at 35mm (meh).  We had pasta, chicken patty and fries.  Ratna ordered a beer.

Friday, December 23, 2022 - Day 3

We slept in the next day and caught the 915 shuttle back to the airport, we arrived to find that left luggage was on break until 1030, we collected our luggage and got our bags checked by 1100, we then went through passport screening by 1115 and security by 1130, keep in mind, we had to remove belts, laptop and toothpaste, it was chaotic as we all separated to try to get food, move bags around and get situated.

We arrived at the gate and then had another ID check and then waited to board.

The flight ended up boarding late and we actually had new seat assignments, but we were all still together, unlike some other families.  Flight was otherwise easy, they served chicken or vegetarian dinner and a vegetarian sandwich for snack about an hour before landing.  We arrived in Delhi and got through passport control, collected our bags and then went through customs without incident.  It took a little bit to find our driver as we got mixed up between gate 6 and pillar 6, there were two Nescafe landmarks, but fortunately only one KFC landmark.  Arriving in the middle of the night, there was no traffic getting back home.  My Uncle's house is very comfortable with two guest bedrooms.

Saturday December 24, 2022 - Day 4

We slept well and had paranthas,  papaya and rice for breakfast.  The girls planned a salon day and I got to relax at home, while my Uncle and cousin went to the office.

Chakshu arrived and we had lunch of rajma and then they headed to the salon for nails and mendhi

When everyone returned home, we had chicken dish, veg dish and pasta for dinner

Sunday, December 25, 2022 - Day 5

On Sunday, I was supposed to do yoga with Lakshay, but ended up working out on my own with calisthenics followed by some dumbbell work,  We had pav bhaji for breakfast and then got ready for the holiday party. Monicka Mommy hosted a party for the Delhi cousins and Summit, Pooja, Nikhil, Nitin and Ankit were able to attend.  Raj and Nancy stopped in as well.  We also went to the local temple and walked to the park.

Food started with soup, pakora, spring rolls and fried paneer starters, Main course was rice with vegetables, paneer dish, channa dish, gobi dish, yogurt with puffed danias and roti.  Dessert was halva, galab jamen, and brownies, Ratna gave out her gifts and the cousins had fun chatting

Dinner that night was homemade thin crust cheese pizza and we ordered popcorn chicken and tandoori chicken from Nazeers which was very good.

Monday, December 26, 2022 - Day 6

Monday was our trip to Agra, we packed snacks and water, had tea and headed out at 7 am.  There was heavy fog and one tire was low on air which slowed our drive.  Around 1000 we stopped at a roadside rest area which featured Pizza Hut. KFC. south Indian, coffee bar and Subway.  We had south Indian.  The restrooms were clean.

We arrived in Agra and met our guide, Abdul, who fast tracked us around the school trips and general admission crowd.  It took a little over 2 hours to tour the grounds and the mausoleum.  We then headed to a marble inlay craft shop for a demonstration, coasters were around $35, but we did not buy anything.  Then we headed to a souvenir store for postcards and magnets and the girls tries on some leather jackets that were around $100.  Then we had snacks at the Salt Cafe and met up with our driver.  We drove back in about 4.5 hours again stopping at a different roadside rest area for snacks and a bathroom break.  We had sweet corn in a cup and popcorn.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022 - Day 7

Today was a planned rest day, the girls got wash and blow-dry and we ended up tagging along with Ratna and annoying her while she went to the post office, look for lost hat and the outdoor bazaar.

I started the day with Lakshay's yoga instructor who was very good and put us through a 13 pose sequence, followed by static holds which he pushed to expand range of motion and finishing with breathing exercises over the course of an hour.

Breakfast was uthma and fried dough savory potato filled pastries.  Lunch was a turnip dish, potato dish and rice and chapati.  Dinner was pani puri and veg burgers topped with cheese and a wonderful cucumber, tomato and onion relish.  We also ordered ice cream from Gianis which has been in business since 1956.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022 - Day 8

Wednesday was travel to Amritsar by plane which will include an hour drive to the airport ahead of a 3 hour prior to flight check in.  Baggage check in and security screening were very fast and we could have arrived 2 hours prior to departure.  The airport is very modern with plenty of shopping and dining options, clean and well appointed gate areas with abundant seating.  We bought McDonald's fries and veg surprise, Subway veggie sandwich, and Krispy Kreme plain glazed donuts

The flight to Amritsar was a quick 50 minutes and they served a puffed samosa snack.  We traveled via Vistara on an Airbus A320neo.  We collected our bags in a few minutes and met Akhil at the baggage claim and it was a quick 10 minute ride to the house.  We met Purnima and Neena Masi and had lunch with a paneer dish and also had coconut water and enjoyed the garden which had a lemon tree, aloe Vera plant, Tulsi plant as well as decorative flowers.  

That evening we drove to the Golden Temple, they have a parking garage, you check your shoes and socks and cover your head before crossing the water to enter the compound.  The sense of peace is hard to describe with the prayers being broadcast, the water, and the splendor of the temple itself.  We walked around and read about the history and saw the temple from many angles.  We also looked into the Langar where food is continuously served 24/7.  We took Prasad,  made a donation and headed out.  We also stopped by the memorial for the Jallianawala Bagh massacre.  We did not go in as it closes at 6.  We also missed the partition museum.  Before leaving the Golden Temple area, we stopped at the Jalabiwala stand and tasted the world famous jalabis

We came home and had drinks and dinner which had a aloo mutter dish, paneer, and rotis that were brought to the table fully puffed up.

Thursday, December 29, 2022 - Day 9

We slept in and started the day with tea and then breakfast of cauliflower parantha and sweet porridge.   The girls are enjoying going through Sonia's stock of custom jewelry, they will also shop for outfits in town.

The plan tonight is to see the border retiring of the colors at the Waga border.

After lunch of aloo gobi and palak paneer, we headed to the border about a half hour away.  Traffic was heavy and vendors were selling India hats, flags and face painting

We arrived at the border a little late and were quickly ushered to the pre-arranged VIP seating.  The border security force was already whipping the crowd into a frenzy in a show of national pride.  The ceremony itself was very well choreographed and fun to be a part of the celebration.  There were easily 60,000 people on the India side and 30,000 on the Pakistan side when the flags were retired.  We took pictures near the gates and headed out.

On the way home, we stopped at Biba so that Diya could finalize a dress purchase and then home.  Dinner that night was traditional Punjabi food at Haveli with Dahl, chole, pathura,  and parantha.  We also has Lasi which is made from sweetened yogurt.

Friday, December 30, 2022 - Day 10

For our last day in Amritsar, we had kulcha for breakfast which was very spicy and cream of wheat idle and veg burgers them we were off to the memorial for the Amritsar massacre which was well done and included details on Indian freedom fighters, we were back home for a light lunch of paneer dish, peas and potatoes dish and milk roti (train food), then it was off to the airport where we scanned checked bags and got through security relatively quickly.  Security is done well with metal detector scans, belt removal, jacket removal and electronic devices removed from luggage.

The Air India flight (Airbus A320) was pleasant and a quick 45 minutes, they served a cheese sandwich snack.  We collected out bags for the 90 minute drive to my Uncle's house.  Dinner was a pleasant dinner or rice, Dahl, palak paneer, and aloo gobi.

Saturday, December 31, 2022 - Day 11

Our last day in Delhi was easy with packing.  Breakfast was noodles, idli, and sambar and for lunch we had paneer Dahl, rice, curd.  We packed up and being heavy on weight opted to courier one bag to Ahmedabad.  The trip to the airport was the usual chaos, but we got to terminal 1 without issue.  ID screen was quick, bag check was a little longer and our bags were right at 60kg.  Security screening was tough with belt and electronics removal and my daughter had duct tape and a tape measure confiscated.  I had a power bank that I thought was in my carry on, but then I struggled to locate.

We got through early enough for Diya to get a biryani bowl from KFC.  It came with a chicken wing which she seemed to enjoy.  Ratna ordered dosa from the Dosa Factory

The Indigo flight (Airbus A320) was uneventful and served sandwiches and juice.  We arrived, collected our luggage and had a 40 minute drive from the airport.  Prior to ringing in the new year, we made cucumber, tomato, and onion sandwiches.  We rang in the new year with Sprite and ice cream cake.

Sunday, January 1, 2023 - Day 12

We slept well taking advantage of the guest room and Rohans room. The next morning we headed to the Rajpath club for some badminton and a walk on rhe track.  The facility is amazing with a lap pool, card room, multiple badminton and table tennis courts, squash court, hard court tennis, volleyball,  cricket grounds, and a turf soccer enclosure.  The gym was well equipped with Hammer Strength equipment, machines and free weights with dumbbells going up to 50 kg.  There was a belt squat and a posterior chain developer.  We had snacks of fafra and dokhla, omelet, veg burger, and garlic crisp

Returning home, we met up with Raj and Nancy and there parents and had lunch at the house of idli sambar.  That evening we did a driving tour of the newer part of Ahmedabad, had bhel for dinner and then visited her Aunt's house.

Monday, January 2, 2023 - Day 13

The following day, I had a chance to go by the Rajpath club for a workout.  I opted for squat, bench, deadlift plus pull-ups and seated db oh press.  Top weights were 70, 60 and 90 kg, body weight pull-ups and 12, 14, 16 kg press, finished with 4 laps walking around the track.   Then home for breakfast of eggs and uthma with tea.

I ordered a ping pong paddle from Amazon India for 1000 rupees and the plan for the rest of the day is shopping at the mall.

We had lunch of aloo mutter and then drove to the Nexus mall where the girls tried on clothes at half a dozen stores.  I milled around the athletic stores and found the prices about 75% of US prices and a different selection catered to local tastes.  We had a snack in the food court and also purchased handicrafts.

As the girls were wrapping up, I took a rickshaw to the AA meeting.  It was a very unique experience with 6 people in attendance.  we started with the serenity prayer in English and then read the preface, how it works and the traditions rotating Gujarati, English and Hindi.  We then went around introducing ourselves as alcoholics.   For the book discussion, we read 2 pages 29-30.  The same section was read in English, Gujarati and Hindi and attendees were invited to share their experience.   We passed the can about halfway through the 90 minute meeting.  I shared at the end and it felt really good to connect.  We closed the meeting with the responsibility pledge in Hindi.  AA had only come to Ahmedabad in 2008 and the current state is similar to the US in the 1940s.  There are some rehab centers and psychiatrists know of AA, but it is not well known.  GSO of India is very active.

Getting a rickshaw home was slightly more difficult, but I caught up with the family in time to go to sizzler for dinner and ice cream for dessert.  It was spicier than I am used to, but otherwise OK.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023 - Day 14

Tuesday was site-seeing.  After a light breakfast, we drove to the Adalaj stepwell.  It was truly remarkable.  Built in 1498, it was important for life in the semi-arid region.  We then drove to the Ghandi Ashram, where he lived and established his thoughts and guiding principals.  It has been well maintained and there is a gift shop with books and cloth products.  Arriving home, we had a lunch of chole and aloo tiki which ws perfect for us.  The plan for tonight is another dinner out with family.

We hosted a nice dinner at Neem for about 20 family members.  My wife is fortunate to have a very close group of cousins,  We also put together small gifts for the kids.  I enjoyed talking to Manish about the Indian space program.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023 - Day 15

Wednesday, I was back at the Rajpath and did front Squat, overhead press and bench press with max weights of 50, 40 and 50 kg respectively.  I also did some back extensions and pull ups before heading out on the track.

We shopped for housewares mid morning with Ratna getting an idli pan, dosa pan, and a couple of tiffin.  I got some steel containers for dry snacks.

While Ratna and Sajal went to collect the altered dresses, me and the girls started House, MD and enjoyed two episodes.  Then we went shopping near Law Garden which was kind of chaotic (the picture is street corn that we actually got from a street vendor).  From there we went to Ami and Neeraj house for dinner of pani puri followed by dessert at another Masi's house.  She brought Havmor ice cream.

Thursday, January 5, 2023 - Day 16

The plan for Thursday is more socializing.  We stopped to get chocolates, bangles, and bindi.  Then we went to Manish house, the Cellad Eatery for lunch (western and Indian food), then over to her Aunt's house,  Afterwards we headed home for some downtime prior to a larger gathering with about 25 in attendance with traditional Gujarati food including undhiyu and some western dishes like pizza and pasta.  It turned into a late night, but we will be able to sleep in with no morning plans.

Friday, January 6, 2023 - Day 17

Our flight was unfortunately delayed and we ended up departing at 2050 instead of 1630, we spent some of the extra time watching House MD and the rest snacking and hanging out in the lounge which had veg and non-veg snacks and desserts.

The Spice Jet flight was on a Boeing 737 MAX-8 and had some of the most attractive flight attendants I have seen in a long time.

Arriving in Dubai, we deplaned quickly, but then spent 20 minutes in immigration.  We collected the bags quickly and went through customs.  Ankish and his brother met us at the airport and it was a quick 15 minute drive home.  They have 2 apartments across the hall from each other and I slept very well.

Saturday, January 7, 2023 - Day 18

In the morning, we started the day with breakfast at Venus and it was excellent South Indian food.  Then we went over to the gold shop (Kannattu Silsila Jewelery) and selected several items (including an Au Finja 916 ring for myself, it is similar to Ring 88)  .  Then it was site-seeing, driving past the 7 star hotel, the Palm and Atlantis, the Barg Khalifa, the Museum of the Future.  We had lunch at a Falafal place that was amazing.   Then we purchased dates and tries Filli coffee.  Arriving home, we freshened up, packed and had a nice light dinner of rajma chavel.   We headed to the airport and got through baggage check, passport check and security quickly, then we got our VAT refund and finally made it to the business class lounge which we could access with our Priority Pass cards.  It was comfortable and had great food and drink.  We avoided shopping at the airport with the exception of a fridge magnet.

Sunday, January 8, 2023 - Day 19

The Air France flight (Boeing 777-300) fell short of our expectations for International travel.  The food was meh and the cabin hospitality below average.  The Paris Airport was ok.  We had to switch terminals and repeat security.  We stretched our legs, window shopped and waited for our next flight which was unfortunately delayed.

The Delta (Airbus A330) flight was nice with a Minneapolis based crew that was friendly with better food options including my wife's vegetarian meal and a choice of pizza or pasta, they also served a warm cookie and then a snack of either cheese and spinach puff or chicken spring roll.

Passport check, customs and security screening were remarkably efficient and we had a chance to stop at the escape lounge, run by Amex, nice selection of hot and cold food, breakfast items soft drinks and drip coffee

Boarding for the final Delta leg (Airbus A321) was easy thanks to Ratna's military service.  The plane felt newer and the flight attendants very pleasant for our 2 hour flight.

We deplaned and got our bags surprisingly fast.  We called an Uber XL and a nice Infinity arrived 5 min later.  It was funny that our driver was Nepalese. 

We got home to a snow bank in front of the driveway, but the house was otherwise OK.  After turning the water on, we discovered a leak in the basement.  Quickly shutting off the water, we called a plumber who came by and fixed it that night.  It was expensive, but I am glad it is resolved with the exception of the dry wall repair.

Goodbye 2022!

2022 kind of came and went without a lot of fanfare.  I finished my fourth year with CDOT.  My wife is still with Department of Interior and is an Air Force reservist tied to the US Air Force Academy.  My first born started 10th grade at D'Evelyn Junior/Senior High School.  My second born started 8th grade at D'Evelyn Junior/Senior High School.  My first born started viola lessons this summer and continued through fall.  She also started with the Dakota Ridge Civil Air Patrol and has been enjoying it.  Both girls were part of the 3A Colorado State champion marching band.

My dental health continues to decline.  I had another tooth extracted and one more at risk.  My first born is out of braces, but my second born still has some time.  My first born also got a pair of glasses this year as she was having difficulty seeing from the back of the classroom.

Both of my daughters decided to host birthday parties at the house.  It seems like our finished basement is a pretty entertaining spot.  Not sure where my wife's birthday meal was held, but I opted for French Press.

We traveled quite a bit this year with road trips to Crested Butte in March, Royal Gorge in July and Grand Junction in October.  We also flew to Orlando for my wife's conference in April, Texas for my nephew's graduation in May, St. Louis for Scott AFB in June, and back to Orlando for Horseshoe Bay Resort in September.  I also went out to Memphis to help with my Mom's cataract surgery in September.  Visitors included the Bhavsars in March, Namisha in August, Sangeeta in October, Thanmay in October, Telatis and Mom in November.

Professionally, I continue to enjoy designing and running ITS projects, but I applied aggressively starting in late October and landed a job with Traffic & Safety at CDOT which I will start in a few weeks.

My community involvement has stayed low.  I have attended some D'Evelyn Marching band functions.  I attended 82 AA meetings, but need to get more involved with an actual home group and a sponsor.

In terms of hobbies, it continues to be all about the Garage Gym Build.  I eclipsed 2021's $1100 net investment by piling on a net of $3200 in gym equipment plus another $2700 in vintage equipment.  This doubled my lifetime spend and I also kept a membership at Crossfit Golden.  The vintage equipment collecting has been a lot of fun and I have focused on York Roundhead dumbbells and Deep Dish weight plates.  I returned to endurance racing with two foot races and the Littlefoot Sprint Triathlon.  I also took up recurve archery and have practiced indoors and outdoors.  

My fitness was also highlighted by joining the US All-Around Weightlifting Association. I participated in some Garage Gym Competitions (powerlifting and random).  I got to try some Highland Games events with the Rocky Mountain Scottish Association.  I tried to offer online coaching, but did not get far.

I joined an online Bhagvad Gita study in the Spring, but did not stay involved.

We only had (3) ski days this year during a trip to Crested Butte for Spring Break.

I had (3) days in the Coral Sea including the 4th of July bash.

I was out at the golf driving range quite a bit in the Spring and played one round during the ITE golf tournament at Arrowhead golf course.

I bought (3) capped bust dimes, but unfortunately could not add any Gupta Dynasty coinage. I also added a book on Lescher Dollars to my numismatic library.

I read (4) books this year.  (3) Amor Towles novels and a self help book.  My favorite was  "A Gentleman in Moscow."

In terms of purchases, it has been harder to keep track without the benefit of my credit card statement.  I did buy a pair of running shoes and my archery equipment.  In terms of gym equipment, my favorite purchase was the Quicklee collars and my favorite vintage item was the Billard 25 pound custom painted Bronco's logo plates.

In terms of home improvement, we poured concrete for a walk way, had new fencing installed, had blinds installed, window inserts installed, and bedroom canned lighting.

Finally we bought a 2011 Subaru as my first born is learning to drive.

The LA Rams won the Superbowl and the Astros beat the Phillies in the World Series.  Justin Medeiros and Tia Clair Toomey won the Crossfit Games.

Political strife continues and the US Supreme Court has joined the fray by overturning Roe v Wade in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, reinforcing the second amendment in New York State Rifle & Pistol v. Bruen, and dissolving separation of church and state in Kennedy v Bremerton School District and Carson v. Makin.

On a general note, Covid continues to run rampant along with our old favorites, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus.  The girls did a couple of camps at Colorado School of Mines, USAFA and AUMC, but otherwise had a low key summer.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

StellarXplorers Competition

The StellarXplorers National Space Design Competition challenges teams of students to put their skills to the test in all-things space design. Open to students in grades 6-12, teams must solve orbit planning, satellite component, and launch vehicle selection scenarios presented in a series of online competition rounds

CyberPatriot’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition challenges teams of high school and middle school students to find and fix cybersecurity vulnerabilities in virtual operating systems. Using a proprietary competition system, teams are scored on how secure they make the system. Top teams advance through the online round of competition, and the best of the best advance to the in-person National Finals Competition.
Each team has two challenges during their six-hour competition period:
Network Security Challenge: involves finding and fixing security vulnerabilities in Windows and Linux operating systems.
Cisco Networking Challenge: consists of an online quiz and a virtual networking exercise based on specific training materials.

My eldest daughter has no shortage of activities.

In addition to participating in Civil Air Patrol, Mock Trial and Stage crew for the school play, she has recently taken up StellarXplorers and CyberPatriot.  I had never heard of either of them, but it seems competitive in a nerdy kind of way.  I am happy she is finding her tribe and trying new things.

I did forget to mention that she is part of the 3A State Champion D'Evelyn Marching band and a Violist in the High School Advanced Orchestra.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

I'm Alright

You ever ask a man how he's doing and he says "I'm alright" 

I'm here to tell you, that man is not alright. That man is battling demons that you can not even possibly imagine. That man is struggling every single day to find a reason to keep going and the reason we say we're alright is because as a man nobody really cares  what you're going through, so why even bother to say it. 

But you know what, I feel you brother, because... I'm alright too.

Quote and Image from Oilfield Now (Facebook)

I am constantly filled with gratitude for all of the incredible people in my life, good fortune, opportunities and God's grace.  This quote and image did hit home for me personally and for people in my life who suit up and show up for life everyday sometimes because of and sometimes despite of their personal demons.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

3A Marching Band State Championships

The 3A Marching Band State Championships returned to Colorado Mesa University (CMU) on October 31, 2022.  As both of my daughters are members of the 2022 D'Evelyn Marching band, my wife and I decided to make the trip.

We dropped the girls off at the charter buses 8:30 AM on Sunday and then packed up and got on the road ourselves around 11:00 AM.  We made a couple of stops and by happenstance caught up with the girls at the rest stop in Parachute, Colorado where they were finishing up lunch.

We arrived in Grand Junction around 3:00 PM where some friends were waiting on us to go for a short hike in the Bangs Canyon Special Recreation Management Area.  We followed the Rough Canyon trail about a mile from the trail head before scrambling up to a "slot" in the canyon wall.  We played around in this crack for about 20 minutes (and only managing about 30 feet) before making our way back.

Returning to the Hotel Maverick we got cleaned up and joined some other parents for dinner at Edgewater Brewery.

Monday was band day and preliminary performances were starting around 9:00 AM.  Ten 3A schools were invited to the state championship and D'Evelyn was fortunate to be selected for the finals along with Windsor, Pueblo, Evergreen and Palisade.

Having a long break, I visited the rec center, wandered campus a bit and then relaxed in the room.

Finals were exciting and we watched all of the performances. There was a 2 hour gap between final performances and awards so we grabbed a bite to eat at Diorio's Pizza.  We returned in time to see the CMU band perform and then see the awards for 1A, 2A and finally 3A.  D'Evelyn squeaked out a nail biter of a win over Palisade in 2nd and Pueblo in 3rd.  It was pretty emotional for a lot of the parents and kids

We headed back to get some sleep.  I made a return trip to the rec center around 8:00 AM and then grabbed a burrito from the University Center before heading back to the room.  The kids got on the road around 9:00 AM and we headed out shortly afterwards around 10:30 AM.  The kids made pretty good time and we were nearly late picking them up.  We had a really nice lunch at Pure Kitchen in Frisco.

It was certainly an adventure for the kids to go on a school trip.  The buses were loud, meals were not optimized for their tastes, it was 3-4 kids per room and it was a big production to be outdoors warming up, waiting and performing.  Fortunately the weather was unseasonably warm, but I am still very impressed with how they managed.  Upon returning, they also have to contend with missing 2 days of class, make up work and make up tests.  Yikes.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Home Maintenance

After renting for 15 years and now owning property for nearly 20 years, it is amazing how much one can learn just through osmosis regarding home ownership.  As with any physical good, nothing lasts forever and repairs are part of the process.

Periodic Maintenance
  • HVAC Service - Spring & Fall
  • Change Filters - Per Furnace Guidelines
  • Wooden Deck - 1-3 years refinishing
Lawn Maintenance
  • Cut Grass
  • Trim Bushes
  • Aerate
  • Fertilize & Weed Treatment
  • Sprinkler start up and blow out
Big Items
  • Roof - 15-20 years
  • Paint - Interior/Exterior - 5-10 years
  • Fence - 10-15 years
  • Windows - 15-20 years
  • Water Heater - 10 years
  • Furnace - 10-15 years
  • Air Conditioner - 10-15 years
  • Appliances - Fridge, Oven, Dishwasher, Microwave - 10-15 years
Professional Support
  • Handyman
  • HVAC
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Lawn Service
  • General Contractor
  • Screwdriver Set
  • Hammer
  • Drill & Bits
  • Open end wrenches, Adjustable Wrench
  • Pliers
  • Allen Keys
  • Duct Tape
  • Electrical Tape
  • Level
  • Tape Measure
  • Lawn Mower
  • Trimmer
  • Blower
  • Garden shears 
Moving into a new house is overwhelming and the first time something breaks it feels like a huge burden.

There is not much periodic maintenance and developing a relationship with an HVAC guy is a good idea.  It is kind of like getting an oil change for your car.

Budget for big items.  You will know when these are coming up based on new build, your inspection or just living in the house for a while.

Professional Support is vital.  Ask your neighbors and colleagues for recommendations.  We use a handyman for all kinds of jobs like installing fans, easy carpentry, assembling furniture, etc. at least twice/year.  HVAC, plumber, electrician are less common, but one of them will come by the house once/year.  Lawn service should be secured for fertilize and weed treatment even if you do everything else yourself.  General Contractor is for remodels.  They will coordinate everybody if you redo kitchen, baths, basement, etc.

Learning to fix stuff yourself is great.  You can save a lot of time, money and frustration by taking care of big and small jobs.  You should have some basic tools so that you are not constantly borrowing stuff from your neighbors.  It is easy to rent tools and and materials needed are easily found at Lowes or Home Depot.  You will slowly accumulate a small wood pile and extra screws, bolts, nails, and other materials as you go.  I would recommend labeling and zip locking odds and ends from furniture, appliances, etc.  I do not like working on plumbing or electrical items, but I can unclog a sink and replace light fixtures.  Beyond that, I stick to landscaping (where the stakes are low if something fails) and garage organization (where finishing poorly is not the end of the world).