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So much to blog about…
Feb 7th, 2009 by Jessica

I did not realize that it’s been since December that I’ve put anything new up.  Sorry about that!  Let’s see what’s been happening…

I finished Portrait Photography in the middle of December and am pretty glad to be done with it.  The class was frustrating, and I just wasn’t feeling very creative.  I always felt like my equipment was holding me back – I really needed a lens that could shoot at f1.4 or f2.8 in the lighting conditions we practiced with.  My two lenses only got me as low as f4.0 in certain setups, and that was entirely too frustrating.  I had to sit out of many sessions because my shots were just too fuzzy.  For Christmas, Andrew got me a macro lens which is a set f2.8 at 100mm.  I LOVE the lens – I just really wish I had it sooner to use during the class.  At least I have it now, and I know exactly how to use it.

Christmas was somewhat uneventful this year.  We had dinner at Amy and Mason’s for Christmas eve, and stayed home on Christmas day.  The 2 1/2 week break from work that Andrew and I experienced together for the first time was not what we expected.  Since we both work for the colleges now, we had December 24 through January 5 off paid holiday.  We discovered that having that much time cooped up together in the house with no travel plans and nothing to do was NOT a good thing.  Not good at all.  Let’s just say that we will plan a trip next time, for sure.

January was much more eventful.  Watching the inaguration of President Obama was very exciting for me.  I am so glad nothing happened and that we seem to be moving forward as a country.  I do hope he has it in him to help our economy come out of this slump.

Andrew and I went to Flagstaff for our seventh anniversary.  We had dinner at Brix, which we both felt was awfully high priced for the food we got.  If you like fine wine and cheese, it definitely should be at the top of your list.  The cheese selection was fantastic.  Then we went to Lowell Observatory for the first time.  Lucky for us there was practically nobody there.  They had three telescopes viewing that night.  The smallest one was looking at the moon at 85x.  The middle one was looking at Venus and the Orion Nebula at about 140x.

The Clark telescope was showing the moon at 180x and 460x.  Talk about spectacular!  Seeing the moon at 460x was uneblievable.  We were studying approximately 2 miles of the moon’s surface in one view.  I really enjoyed it.  Since there was nobody there, we just kept moving from one telescope to another and talking with the guides.  It was really cool!  We finished off the trip by driving down through Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona during sunrise, which was quite pretty indeed.

And of course, then there were the Arizona Cardinals.  Superbowl bound – the state went nuts!  We are so proud of them for getting all the way to the Superbowl.  I watched the whole game live on February 1 after we arrived home from Sedona, and was on the edge of my seat the whole time.  I can’t believe we ALMOST won it!  We were SO close!  Ahh well – maybe next year eh?  We can dream, anyway.

Work is very hectic these days.  We have severe budget cuts due to the state cutbacks, and it’s making everyone a little edgy.  I’ve been trying to steer my department in the right direction and save costs wherever possible.  We’re slashing through some of the politics and moving forward on projects that have been waiting in the wings for years (such as moving pieces of old applications off the VAX systems).  It’s been very challenging, and I’m thankful to have such a wonderful team of people to work with.  They are the reason I get up in the morning and drive to work every day.

I served on a jury for the first time ever last week.  It was a DUI case, and we found the defendent guilty of driving under the influence, as well as driving above a .08 blood alcohol level.  His level was .13 and he was convinced that he was not drunk or impaired in any way.  Sorry man – no matter how well you hold your alcohol, the state still considers you impaired.  Don’t drink and drive.

I’ve been reading the Twilight series from Stephanie Meyer.  I’m really not into vampires at all, and I truly didn’t believe that I could like the book.  Now that I’ve finished the first one, I find that the writing is quite good.  Although I don’t necessarily like the vampire talk or the suspense of the main character being hunted… the humor in the book is excellent.  The details of how the characters react to each other are spot on.  It really brings me back to senior year of high school the way the writer talks about friends and innocent romance.  Gaaahh – what am I saying?  Well, whatever, I liked it.  So there.  I even started reading the second book, New Moon.  Hopefully it’s as good as the first one.

Let’s see, what else has been going on…?  Andrew and I decided to spruce up the back yard this morning.  We planted petunias, pansies, another hibiscus and a lilac vine.  All the weeds are gone and the leaves have been collected.  It almost looks like a nice yard now!  Maybe it will start to smell nice once the petunias bloom.  We have some calla lillies, daffodils and tulips coming up in the planter beds too.  It’s early February in Arizona – time for all the flowers to bloom!  That’s still a strange concept to me.  Where I grew up, flowers bloomed in May and June!

My sister is in Mexico right now with her husband on a trip for work.  They are flying back tomorrow and have a layover in Phoenix for about 4 hours, so we’re going to pick them up for lunch.  It will be nice to see them, even if it’s just for a little tiny bit.  I miss my sister a lot, and my neices and nephew.  I wish I could see them more often.  It feels like the kids are growing up without us.  I wonder if they will ever know how much I think about them?

Well, I think that just about sums it up.  I’ll try to post a little more often than I have been.  I know – empty promises.  I still have emails in my inbox from friends and family from Christmas 2007 that I haven’t responded to yet.  Guilty as charged.

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It’s past Christmas already?
Dec 27th, 2007 by Jessica

Well, okay then.  I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone without blogging before!  A lot has happened since Halloween.  Let’s see if I can recap.

November saw lots of homework.  We started two new classes in the MSIM program: Business Process and Workflow Analysis, and Enterprise Application Integration.  We completed the first five weeks during the first week of December, and will resume the next five weeks on January 14th. 

In the meantime, we are working heavily on our applied project, forming a real technology venture and completing the business plan.  We start our Winter Intensive course this Saturday.  It’s a 3-credit Master’s course in just 2 1/2 weeks: Managing Enterprise Applications.  I’ve been doing a lot of homework to get it out of the way before the Intensive starts.  Hopefully it won’t be that bad.

On the work front, I accepted a very cool position working with an excellent team in Operations.  As we grow closer to go-live on February 19th, a lot of changes are in the works.  Ops will take on the challenge of being Tier 2 triage for SIS issues.  There is a lot of work to be done, but I have excellent people to help with the tasks at hand!  I am so fortunate to have the chance to work with them.

Thanksgiving was different this year.  Mom, Dad, Andrew and I went over to Aunt Barbara and Uncle Mike’s house.  That was it!  Nobody else showed up.  The family is still going through some changes ever since Grandma passed away in 2005.  I wish everyone could just get along.

Andrew and I have been playing Rock Band (Xbox 360) and Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) quite a bit together.  I enjoy the vocals in Rock Band, and I even managed to make it to #3 in the world on the leaderboard in vocals for Dani California by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Freakin’ sweet!  Number three…  In the whole world!  I guess the computer likes my tone.  I can’t sing for real but I guess I match the computer just right!  We beat Super Mario Galaxy tonight, but will continue to play it and try to collect all the stars.  We like both of these games because they are cooperative efforts, and we can both play together at the same time.

We went to California the weekend of December 14th and met up with our friend Mike and his new girl, Rachel.  We tried going to Knotts Berry Farm but it was “Bring a toy and get in free” weekend, and the line to buy tickets was INSANE.  Thousands of people were single-file-lined-up to get into the park.  Forget it!  We drove over to Anaheim and waited a few minutes for a 3-day park hopper.  Then we hit California Adventure, followed by Disneyland.  It was lots of fun!

Andrew’s birthday was pretty good, and we celebrated with dinner at Rustler’s Rooste.  I got him a subscription to gamefly.com so he can rent hard to find games.  He seems pretty psyched about it!  Hopefully it works out well for him.  We threw him a little Transformers birthday party with Snickers ice cream cake.  He loved all the kitchy plastic tablecloths stickers and paper plates/napkins with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.  Who needs kids when we can both act like them?!  =)

December 21st was my last day of work until January 2nd.  The College District is on paid holiday for 12 whole days!  Hooray!  Andrew and I have been quite sick with matching sore throats and head colds.  This is the first vacation we’ve ever had that we stayed home on.  It was our choice to stay home (well, Andrew’s mostly, but I thought I’d give it a try).  It has been really relaxing to just sit around and get homework done and watch television.  I’ve been eating lots of junk food and cleaning up the house.  I guess I prefer to leave town when I’m on vacation, but with us being sick, I guess it worked out well this time.

Christmas this year was really low-key.  We tossed and turned all night with matching coughs and woke up being smothered by our four kitties.  We opened gifts together and gave the kitties their new toys and treats.  Then we headed over to pick up Mom, and Dad took Reesy in his car.  We drove out to the Fox’s for a Christmas lunch barbeque.  After a quick exchange it was off back home to relax for the rest of the day.

That pretty much brings us up to speed, I think.  So as I sit here typing, watching Cars on television, Andrew is resting and all the kitties are asleep…  I guess it’s time to do more homework.  Hopefully I can get ahead far enough that I don’t stress about it in January.  We’re almost halfway done with the Master’s program.  Holy cow!  Halfway point… I never thought I’d get this far.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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December: A Month of Mixed Emotions
Dec 25th, 2006 by Jessica

I haven’t blogged too much in the month of December. I figured I owe it to you at least to explain a little more on why that might be. Actually, the more I think of it, it’s been since before Thanksgiving huh?

November 23rd – Thanksgiving at Aunt Barbara’s house. The day was overall uneventful, although some of the family gathered together. Uncle Cecil was there and met Mason (Amy’s fiance) for the first time. We announced Amy’s engagement to the family.

November 27-December 1 – I spent this week in training for HP Openview Operations for Windows from home. The class was spectacular and I learned a ton of stuff to take back and implement at work.

November 29-December 5 – Andrew went to Orlando with his parents for a trip to Disney World. The three had a nice time taking in all the sights. He says not much has changed since our wedding there nearly 5 years ago.

December 3-8 – I traveled to Las Vegas for the Storage Decisions 2006 conference. Again, I learned so much that I am eager to implement back at work about backups, SAN architecture, security, archiving and more. It was a nice conference.

December 9 – I met Andrew, Mom, Dad, Amy and Mason in Sedona for an ATV Adventure Tour of the red rocks. It was so much fun to go four-wheeling in the brush and washes of the desert! Unfortunately I was last of six, so by the break time I had a perfect dirt moustache. When we returned to the hotel, my sister called to tell me that my mother’s companion had passed away while we were on the tour.

December 10 – We returned to Phoenix so I could do laundry and pack my bags to hop a flight to Michigan the next day.

December 11-16 – I flew into Saginaw and rushed up to be with my mother. We tried to occupy our time by slowly taking care of items (like reading the will, calling insurance companies, taking account of finances, etc) and also I tried to help her calm down a bit. We laid Bruce Struble to rest on Friday, December 15th. It was a very hard week for Mom, and continues to be painful I’m sure. Unfortunately since I was out of work for almost a month at this point, I had to go back home.

December 16-17 – I stopped in to see my DaD, Karen and my brother Noah overnight before my flight. It was really good to see them, even for such a short while. Noah is growing up so fast! At 3 years and 1 month, he’s almost like a tiny adult who is kind, considerate, funny, happy and loves to play. What a cutie!

December 17-18 – I returned to Phoenix to find Andrew with a horrendous case of food poisoning. The poor sweetheart – he was sicker than I’ve ever seen him in the 10 years we’ve been together. He spent the next 48 hours in extreme pain and exhaustion. I returned to work but left early to help care for him.

December 19 – Andrew celebrates his 30th birthday recovering from food poisoning. We woke up to a phone call that Uncle Cecil passed away just minutes before midnight (December 18, 2006). With that sad news, we go to work all day, and hardly anyone remembers it’s Andrew’s birthday. He didn’t even feel up to going out with the family (in fact, we still haven’t gone out to celebrate). I got him an Xbox 360 with all the perks. He seems to be liking that, anyway.

December 20-21 – Work as usual. I take a midterm for Theater 210 and barely get a B on it. I just simply could not concentrate with all that happened. I also completed the photo tribute boards for Uncle Cecil’s service.

December 22 – Uncle Cecil’s service takes place at Valley of the Sun Mortuary in Chandler. The house is packed full with over 100 visitors. It was an extremely emotional service. I’m sure his wife and 13-year old daughter will miss him dearly. He had a very long battle with cancer, same as Bruce (my mom’s companion).

December 23-24 – We tried to relax during these days, and shake off all the recent deaths and bad news. Andrew played his Xbox and I took the time to work on some VHS transfers and video/DVD editing. Our friends Leisa and Cuinn came over to play some Monopoly and relax a bit.

December 25 – Christmas day. I woke up with severe cramps and a really hard-hitting sore throat. Apparently I have a head cold, to go with my cramps. =( My mother was first to call and wish us a Merry Christmas. She also let me know that her sister, my Aunt Sandy, was found dead at her home this morning. We don’t know how long she was there, as she lived alone and had no children. Her close friend found her and called my Aunt Rose. What a horrible way to die; alone in your house and nobody finds you for days. I feel so saddened by this news. I didn’t know Aunt Sandy very well; she was very helpful with my genealogy research though. She spent hours one day telling me all about the family, how things were back in the 1940’s and 50’s at my Mom’s childhood home, and filled in lots of details about the ancestry. She was such a nice woman to me; it’s a shame I couldn’t have known her better.

That pretty much brings us up to speed. If you were wondering why I didn’t write much this month, I’m sure you are no longer wondering.

I hope this holiday brings you more joy, less sorrow, and a little more happiness than sadness.

Hugs to my friends and family,
Jessica

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