my wonderful wife

once in a lifetime, a man is given the chance to find his soul-mate.  the person who he knows was put on this earth for him.  some people never get that chance.  i was fortunate enough to find her.  she is a constant blessing.  her constant love and devotion are always present.  she has blessed my life far beyond anything i could have imagined.  long before we were married, and i would wonder what married life would be like, never had i imagined it would be like this. 

Patti, thank you for your constant encouragement and support.  you are truly a helpmate from heaven.  on your birthday today may it be filled with joy and happiness.  may you get to enjoy the peace and relaxation that you provide to so many other people.

Get up, my dear friend,
   fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Look around you: Winter is over;
   the winter rains are over, gone!
Spring flowers are in blossom all over.
   The whole world’s a choir—and singing!
Spring warblers are filling the forest
   with sweet arpeggios.
Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed,
   and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms.
Oh, get up, dear friend,
   my fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Come, my shy and modest dove—
   leave your seclusion, come out in the open.
Let me see your face,
   let me hear your voice.
For your voice is soothing
   and your face is ravishing.

What i’m thankful for

First of all, i’m thankful for Patti, my totally awesome wife.  It truly takes a amazing woman to put up with the likes of me.  She is always supportive of my wild ideas and she is always there to help me with projects, run the media dept, give a listening ear, iron my shirts.. and on top of all the other things she does for everyone else.  I love you patti and I thank God for putting you in my life.

I’m thankful for the kids.  They each have enriched my life in their own unique way.  Hannah has become such a joy to be around.  I’m thankful that she includes me in her rather run school projects like band and her asl videos and even just going out shopping.  She’s making great grades in school, she’s even help teach the younger kids in her asl class.  She has so much potential built up inside of here, it’s exciting to see what she’ll become.  I’m thank for Tori and the healing that’s happening inside of her.  Last night she got up in front of her youth group at church and spoke on her life and how she was able to turn her situation around.  She told other kids how they can deal with it and really meet them on her level.  She’s also an amazing musician and the most determined person i know.  once she’s puts her mind to something she’ll see it done and done right away.  I’m thankful that Megan is still surviving and passing through school.  I’m thankful that her car is working and her bedroom is clean (for now)

I’m thankful for my new job.  I’m at a place where i’m surrounded by some of the smartest people in their field.  Biologist, chemist, geneticist, growers, professors, post doctorates, the place is just full of people any of whom you could sit and have an intellectually stimulating conversation with.  I’m at a place where i’m able to design the system architecture the way i’d it done.  I’m literally building it from the ground up.  And they actually listen to my recommendations and decisions.  It’s amazing to hand someone a list of servers and equipment and say i need this and “magically” an 18-wheeler arrives with more goodies.  Working in the academic environment is so much different than working in the corporate world.  

I’m thankful for my church and the things i get to do around there.  I’m thankful for the team of guys i have helping me.  Adam, Jeremiah, Gideon, Simeon, Mark, Art, Joel, Ben… you guys never complain and you show up when ever i need a hand.  I appreciate all that you guys do for me.  Without your help we couldn’t get any of the stuff we do.. done.

I’m thankful for my family.  For those here nearby and for those I’ve recently gotten to reconnect with.  It’s nice to be in the company of those who your stuck with for life and actually enjoy their company.  With this new job i’ll probably be getting to spend more time up in College Station with will give me more time to reconnect with relatives and friends i hadn’t seen in years.

I’m thankful for my friends.  Those who have chosen to be a part of my life not because of all the time we spend together at work or church or are just around anyway so might as well hang out.. but those who actually chose to be a part of my life.  I’m thankful for all of those who showed up at my surprise birthday party.  (still amazed patti was able to pull that off)  I’m thankful for the Leal’s.  They’ve enriched my life more than i can describe. 

I guess i do have quite a bit to be thankful for this past year.

College Station trip

Haven’t been back here since… Patti’s seminar back when she did that presentation.  It was a multi-function meeting.  First i wanted to get to meet the IT staff at A&M that i’ve found myself working more and more with.  Put a face to the name and an idea of the operation.  I got in and went straight to the Agrilife anex building to get myself acquainted.  Right from the get-go we talked about stuff going on in weslaco, things i would like to work on and they talked about stuff going on up there and where our projects meet in the middle.

From there i checked into the hotel.  It was actually an extended stay suite called the Vineyard so a bit nicer than a hotel.  Very comfy.  From there i drove my way over to my aunt Yolanda’s thanks to the very handy map’s app for iPhone.  (i’m horrible with directions but i can follow the little blue line)  Got to visit with them.  Then went over to my cousin Linda’s and got to see some more family there and dinner too!  After that entered a new route for walmart, picked up some plastic food containers, then to winersnitzel for two family packs of chilidogs.  You’ve probably heard me rave about these chili dogs.  They really are not anything extraordinary about them.. but for some reason, their is nothing else like them.  I can taste the even now as i think of the savor of a winersnitzel dog.  Back to the hotel, stored the 20 dogs in the containers and loaded them in the fridge.

The next day back to A&M for some more meetings.  Met back up with one of the IT guys and we walked over to Rudder Tower for our first meeting.  This was a training mostly on some new software they are deploying.  Very slick actually.  Got finished with that and went over to meet with Gloria, an old family friend from Bryan.  Drove by the old homestead, visited the old church.  Then back to A&M.  This time i had some time before my next meeting so decided to do some sight seeing.  Anyone who’s been to A&M knows about the many traditions out there.  There’s a saying, if you do something twice, they make a tradition of it.  Driving around i could see the wall of Bonfire Memorial, so i decided to check it out.  Went up the wall and right from the start it was that quiet somber feeling all over again.  Very similar to being at ground zero in NYC.  Everything about the memorial was very symbolic.  The wall for example..

Visitors enter the memorial at Tradition Plaza, whose vertical wall serve as a barrier between the peace and intimacy of the memorial and the outside world. The wall is engraved with The Last Corps Trip, the poem traditionally recited before the lighting of each year’s Bonfire; the view above the lower wall draws visitors into the memorial via History Walk.


The “History Walk” was a pathway to the actual memorial.  The ground covered in dark grey and black smooth gravel, the granite slab along the pathway.  I noticed a date engraved at the beginning of the stone.  1909.  The first year bonfire burned.  89 blocks in all.  Notches were cut out in each stone representing a bonfire for that year.  A small amber light within the stone glowed.  Three of the notches had plaques in them, each with a name in them.  Those plaques represented a person who perished that year during the bonfire.  Another stone along the pathway was not grey granite like the rest but was all black.  That represented the year the President Kennedy was killed.  The bonfire was dismantled log-by-log in respect for the fallen president that year. 

Then at the end of the walkway came the actual memorial.  A ring made up of 27 granite blocks with 12 portals created the “Spirit-Ring” This recreates the perimeter fence around the actual bonfire.  on the ring itself were more plaques representing those injured, but left blank representing all those injured during the 90 years. 

Each the portals has a portrait and signature of each of those killed along the left side, the right side a written memorial and along the floor the person’s hometown.  Through the portal you could access the grass, in the center was another plaque.  Being totally overwhelmed with everyone’s memorial out there and the sollemness and peace of the memorial, i didn’t feel right walking out there but according to the brochure,

At the ring’s center is a black-granite marker, 18 inches in diameter, representing the Bonfire stack’s Centerpole. Positioned on the exact spot used for Centerpole, the marker is engraved with the date and time of the collapse: 11-18-1999 2:42 a.m.

Kind of made it hard to go back on the with the rest of the day.

Made it back to rudder tower for another meeting this time on the internet threat out there, and how the bad guys get in.  It was actually scary the reality of ever thing out there.  Check out this blog of the guy who was doing the presentation about some of the stuff the bad guys are doing out there.

After the presentation met back with with guys in the IT office, ending up talking way longer that i was planning on.  Ended up trying to rush back to the airport.  Come to find out the name “airport” on my iphone took me some where completely different.  So i put in the name of the airport and now i’m back on track, except i get to the exit and think i know where i’m going, yeah i end up at the private airstrip, not the main terminal.  so back on the road literally the car rental return slot, throw the keys in the drop box and huff it up the stairs to the ticket counter.  The flight aka, roller coster ride, back to houston was rough.  The first time i’ve ever got sick on a flight. 

Finally get home and open my luggage.  and find the card from tsa saying they’ve checked my bag, nothing odd.. but i can just imagine that guy going home to his family, “you’ll never guess what i saw in this guys bag!  20 winersnitzel hot dogs cold and packed in this guys luggage”

another year in the books


Wow.. Talk about an amazing birthday.  I don’t think i’ve had one that good in years.  Saturday I knew i had a busy day working on a school project for Hannah.  We shot some video for them and then went home to start editing.  Also needed to get a master DVD made for Ivan Tait and and a DVD for Carey and Glory and the Fire is in town.  Even though we are not hosting them this year, doesn’t necessary mean that we’re off the hook.  They were having problems with one of their amps on Friday night.  Then on Saturday, they were having problems with their main audio mixer.  The entire thing would drop the entire audio output for a second or two.  Sounded almost like a cd dropping audio.  So i went out to the venue in the middle of editing Hannah’s video.  That one was harder to fix than the first problem.  Ended up removing the main audio from the main outs of the mixer and used the un-fadered output from the Rec Out of the console.  granted, it’s a high impedance output instead of low but i put two direct boxes in-between so that helped to match the outputs as much as possible.  I knew that Paula, was coming over at 4 30 so at 5 I’m starting to panic.  Finally at 5:30 the problem was fixed and ready to come home.  Took Jason and Blake over to their hotel to pick up some laundry and brought them over to the house to wash while we had cake, or so i thought.  I walked in the back yard and come to find a backyard full of people.  And they kept coming out of the house.  Even my parents were their.  I was totally surprised and overwhelmed to see all the people their.  My wife must have worked so hard to get all those people and food and the house cleaned.  And all the while not letting me know about any of it.  I think everyone i knew was there.  and for a while apparently.  And none of them let me know what they were planning.

Patti, thank you so much for pulling that off.  I love you so much.  You truly made it a very special day.  Thank you for everything you did to pull that off.  I love you more than i could ever put into words.

Thank you everyone else for showing up.  It was great spending time with family and friends.  i had an awesome time.

change your world

ok, that title has nothing to do with any of this but that’s kind of how i feel about my new job. I haven’t posted any about it since i left so i better catch you guys up with what’s going on.  from last Thursday through Monday, i was on a mini vacation debriefing from my old job and getting some much needed rest.  Come tuesday i was ready to hit the ground running at my new job.  I am the System Analyst for Agrilife Research a part of the Texas A&M system.  The guy currently taking care of their computers actually knows his stuff pretty well.  I overheard him diagnosing a problem with a dns server over a vpn and another problem with an external smtp server.  So, after spending the morning doing the mandatory sexual harassment training, ethics training, computer saftey training, etc etc..  I got to shadow the current computer guy, repairing hardware in a mac, connecting a pc to a network printer, safari problems.. just liittle things here and there, but the more i got to walk around and see how things were being done, i’m taking this all in and making notes, seeing how can be better.  so by the 2nd day, i’ve got a pretty good size list of things that can keep me busy for a while.  later that day we go into a meeting and they hand me a list of things they could use help with from their system analyst.  pretty much everything on their list was covered by my list previously made.  and almost all under the umbrella of setting up an Active Directory / Open Directory environment.  A&M uses this really extensive LDAP system that i’ll probably need to find a way to integrate into what my thoughts are.  Tomorrow i get to meet with the guys up in college station to see about getting our ideas together and finding out how much we can actually accomplish. 

So all in all.. I’m super excited about this job.  I love the atmosphere and the people.  I have a very spacious office area in the administration part of the building as well as a work area within the data center itself.  The DC is pretty much empty now, just a router, core switch, and a couple of novel servers that don’t seam to be doing anything of any importance that i can tell atleast.  So i have alot of room to grow into.  The electrician guy came by today asking about a cooling system for the DC.  I threw some numbers together and the finall recommendation was something like.. after i get done in there.. your going to need many more AC circuits as well as several tons of cooling in there.  at least for the first phase of upgrades.  The work environment is so much more welcoming too.  Even before i officially started they were asking what computer i wanted, what chair i wanted.. what supplies i needed, shirt size.  On my first day my chair was their waiting for me.. unopened computer boxes, new staff shirt, id badge, keys, everything i need to make a productive first week. 

I went by the old office today to help them with a few things.  It was really strange being back their.  instantly i could feel the difference.  just as instantly, i knew i didn’t have any regrets about my decision to move on.  Now it’s a new adventure.. new accomplishments to make, new things to learn, and many new friends to begin making. 

Steven Curtis Chapman

last night Patti and I got to go see Steven Curtis Chapman at the dodge arena.  He put on a good show, i could have done without the 3 opening bands.  The first time i saw him perform was at the woodlands ampheater in Houston with Sonnie and Jonny.  That was a really awesome show.  it was in the afternoon, we were sitting on the lawn.  The show as billed, Steven Curtis Chapman with special guest Geoff Moore.  So.. i was thinking Geoff was going to open up for Steven.. well they ended up performing the entire show together.  there were two stools setup on the stage, no band.. just the two of them and their gutairs.  probably the most simple setup i’ve seen in a professional show and also probably one of the best.  They were even using the house sound and lighting.  They just went back and forth singing and talking.  they are both great story tellers.

So back to last night.  first thing i noticed was how much he’s aged.  I remember his “cassettes” from the 80’s.  yeah he looked a bit older now.  They touring company he was using wasn’t the best contractor i’ve seen used.  jbl array, 1k par’s on the downstage truss, nady wireless mics, the stomp-boxes were all individually wired instead of using a cat5 router.  (which seamed to be a continuing problem throughout the entire show) 

The LD had a few nice scenes setup, but that quickly got dwarfed by several really bad ones.  H-Sweeps running throughout an entire song, the only variance was a changeover to V-sweeps.  Just about all the i-fixtures were all spots.  i only saw about 4 washes.  I probably found myself being most critical of the LD only because i’ve been in the LD position at other shows.  you can really set the mood of a show by doing a good job in that seat or a bad job. 

Despite all that, Steven himself did a great job.  He started the show off sharing his heart and pretty much carried that tone to the final song.  If anything, you can walk away from his show having a stronger understanding of the grace and love that’s available even through some of the darkest moments of anyone’s life.  He did a few of his classics.  I will be here, Speechless, Great Adventure among others.  He also did a few new songs.  One of which was Cinderella.  A song that will defiantly be a great cross-over song just like butterfly kisses.  Unless you’ve heard the story he had to tell behind it though, it won’t mean the same to anyone else who hasn’t.  I will defiantly be looking for his new album in i-tunes this coming November. 

a night of hope

Got back from Joel Olsteen’s meeting at the dodge arena this evening.  I went with an open mind and heart, not really expecting anything but left with optimism and hope.  A renewed hope of God’s promised for us and our lives.. and in the changes that are fixing to happen in our lives.

This week is going to be an exciting week.  Friday i got an email from of the places i’m applying with, they would like a 2nd informal on Tuesday, and i got a call from the other company i’m applying with, they were able to meet my salary requirements and would like to talk face to face.  we’re having dinner tomorrow.  So.. i’m confident that by the end of this week- I’ll have a course laid out for my future career.  I’m not looking for temporary work anymore.  i’m too old for that.  i’m ready to find an employer that i can be with for years to come.  an company i can retire with.  Randell is retiring in two weeks from the FD.  24 years of service.  That can be me some day.

Joel had a good message.  He’s a great inspirational speaker.. and has scripture to back up what he says.  It was something i needed to hear.  especially as a kick off to this week.  Now lets see what God has in store..

career goals

These past few weeks I keep finding myself referring back to my three career goals.  I figure it’s probably best if i lay this out.. mostly for myself and giving myself something concrete to look back to.

1) Get closer to mcallen.

I’ve lived in mcallen and the upper valley for a while now.  Buying a house pretty much solidifies that i’m going to be stuck in mcallen for a while.  Grant it the current commute isn’t horrible- that’s about 45 minutes a day i’m on the road from my carport to the parking lot and back.  The expressway has gotten better now that most of the construction is complete.  The drive can be a drag though.  I have over 150,000 miles on my car already and i got it after i started working here.  It would be nice to be able to go home for lunch and save money in going out to eat or all the gas driving across the valley

2) Provider better for my family.

Things are not as comfortable as they used to be.  Clear Channel was in the process of selling to a private company.  They had to cut all expenses which meant no raises for anyone.  Come to think of it, i haven’t gotten a raise a few months after i started here 6+ years ago.  At no fault of the local management, but Corp isn’t spending any money.  Back in december my wife got laid off.  All of a sudden we were living on half our income.  Oil prices fell which was good for gasoline pump but bad for the royalty payments.  With two kids in college now, a house mortgage, 4 cars, a new roof looming and just trying to stay afloat.. it’s been a good exercise of faith for the both of us, but we are both ready for some breathing room.  Also, with the uncertainty of “the market”, who knows how soon it will be before i’m on the chopping block as part of a RIF.  In the past two months i’ve seen a handfull of job openings for computer people throughout the company.  (are IT people jumping ship all over the company?) I’m looking for somewhere i can still be at 5, 10, 25 years from now.

3) Get back into to a service career.

Not just trying to make “the man” richer or put profit on the shareholders books, but to actually do a service.  Feel good about going to work, look forward to seeing what the day brings.  Work in an industry where i can be a part of something bigger and more important.

Of course there are a few other things i’d like to find in a new career but those are the three bigies.

night skies

9:38 pm, So last night we were sitting here i begin to read this post…

KRGV WeatherTime to see the shuttle again! 9:38pm….face West – it’ll show up in front of you and move toward your left (Southwest). Shuttle will be visible for just under two minutes.

I look at the clock on the pc and it reads 9:38.. we go out side and sure enough there is this really fast “star” streaking across the night sky under the moon’s horizon.  cool!  so we go back inside and i read the rest of the post. 

Then look west again – and the International Space Station will show up at 9:41 and follow the same path!


and i look back at the clock, 9:41.. we go back outside and another “star” begins moving across the sky.  way cool!

Continue reading night skies

To the class of '97

MIT’s 1997 Commencement Address

Here’s the commencement address given at MIT at 1997, but
unfortunately I don’t know by whom. In any case, we might
all be wise to pay heed, regardless of our age.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen
would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been
proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no
basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.
I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind.
You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth
until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look
back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp
now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you
really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying
is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by
chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to
be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that
blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up
with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead,
sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end,
it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults.
If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with
your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22
what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most
interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss
them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children,
maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance
the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever
you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself
either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of
it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest
instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone
for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link
to your past and the people most likely to stick with you
in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few
you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography
and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need
the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes
you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians
will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll
fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable,
politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust
fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when
either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40
it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a
way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting
over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.