Saturday, August 03, 2013

Becoming an adult...

Really really proud of my son Brandon. He turned 16 at the end of May. He did a good job working on getting his grades up in school this year. He did a great job at his Architecture Camp at Virginia Tech in June. He was a big help throughout most of the summer...but still appropriately lazy at times. The yellow Ford Escape I bought in January 2001 when he was 3 1/2 years old became his this summer. We had to work on the braking system and a few other things over the past couple of weeks and we both learned a lot along the way. He won't get his license until January, but he drove the truck 4 hours down route 17 back to NC today under the supervision of his mom. The truck held up and he didn't crash it. He still has a good share of bad ideas, but he is learning to take responsibility for his actions. I am very proud of the man he is becoming.

It has been a long and difficult road.  Last summer he left my full time care and went to live with his mom and stepdad in NC.  This was a decision that all of us made, though it was particularly difficult for me.  It is hard to let go.  However, I knew it was going to happen anyway and someday, and it is what I had been preparing him for.  Or maybe preparing myself for.   If you saw him last year and saw him now, you would know it was the right decision.

Brandon went to be in a much smaller school and a much bigger social circle.  That sounds a little strange, almost paradoxical, but it is true.  He has really flourished there, and if he'll just apply himself to his homework he is going to do magnificent.  


Wednesday, July 03, 2013

College for a week...

...or as my son says "CFAW".

After my son didn't call me the first night like he was supposed to and I tried to call and text him...he sent me this text the second night..."Hey sorry I got kinda caught up, I'm doing fine, lots of interesting people here."  :-)  







So Brandon had a great week at Virginia Tech, sleeping in the dorm, talking with all the other people there, eating in the dining hall, exploring the campus and exploring life in general.  The program was supposed to give the students an idea of what first year life was like in the Architecture and Design program at Virginia Tech and show them how to develop and harness their creativity with regards to architecture and design.  I come from a much more rigid background and was absolutely fascinated by the way they worked with the students.  Exploring thoughts and ideas with no right or wrong.  The professor made me want to come back next year. He said I was welcome to.  Brandon loved interacting with the Master's and PHD candidates that were there to help.  Brandon was up after midnight every night, and I think he only ate pizza.  Not at all unlike my first quarter at Virginia Tech back in 1987.

Brandon and I spent the rest of the weekend in Amherst County playing disc golf around Lynchburg, driving lessons, and exploring.  

The fireflies in Amherst were so plentiful that the forest looked like it was strung up with green Christmas lights.  I was just in awe staring at the trees at night.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Virginia Tech Architecture Camp

On Sunday afternoon this week I dropped off my son for a week of Architecture fun at Virginia Tech.  We parked and walked all over the campus before his check in.  I had gone to VT for a year and I shared SOME stories with him.  It was a beautiful day for walking around too.

We got him checked into his dorm.  I made him make his bed and put up his clothes and stuff.  He knew how to get in and out of the dorm, use the dining facilities and stuff already.  I'm very proud of him.  He is definitely maturing and definitely getting better at taking care of himself.

He was supposed to call me Sunday after his orientation and then again around 8pm so that I would know he was ok and had everything he needed for the week.  He said "Dad, even if I don't, you are 5 hours away."  I told him that I have amazing powers of Internet.  He didn't call that night until midnight and since the phones purposefully all sit where we can't hear them, I didn't get the call.  He did text me though and said "Dad, sorry I didn't call.  I just got caught up.  There are so many interesting people here."

Here are some pictures from the campus....

























Friday, June 21, 2013

Updates on various things....

So, the longest day of the year has come and now gone.  Another school year has come and gone too, so here is an update on kids and other things....

Brandon, the eldest, did very well this year living with his mom and step-dad in NC. His grades were good and he was involved in sports and other extracurricular activities.  It was the result we were hoping for when he went down there last summer and it paid off extremely well.  He also turned 16 this year and has his learner's permit.  He'll get his license in January most likely.  He'll be inheriting the 2001 Ford Escape I have. This summer I'm teaching him how to drive and how to maintain the vehicle.  This week we replaced the brake booster and one of the front calipers.  I think we need to replace the other caliper too.  He did very well getting all that done.  He starts an Architecture Camp at Virginia Tech this week.  Hopefully he does well!  He is very excited about it.

Michael has been living in Long Island, and he just finished school today.  He says he did well.  He has been playing football and basketball up there and continuing in orchestra.  He seems to really like it there and by all appearances is doing well too.

John, the youngest, made straight A's in all of his classes and played baseball in the fall and spring.  He stopped taking piano lessons this year, but still plays here at the house and is first chair with the cello in orchestra.

I've been traveling some for work and just recently spent 2 weeks in Japan.  That will probably need its own post, but I'll briefly say that I loved every minute I spent in Japan.  I also spent 2.5 weeks in Hawaii for work, and got to experience an earthquake and amazing food in San Diego in December.

SGG started working again, and the projects she is working on will take her to the pacific northwest later this summer.  I hope to be able to fly out and meet her there!

So things have been going well.  We get out to do hiking in the mountains quite a bit, but we have so many chores that we don't get to do a lot of other things we want.

One big item coming up is that I have to fly to NYC in a couple of weeks to pick up my Google Glass.  This is one thing I am very excited about.  I put up a post in February on Google+ for the ifIhadglass Google Explorers project and found out I was selected in March.  One aspect of this that I am excited about is the hands free photography and videography.  When I am taking pictures of something, I never feel in the moment.  I feel like I am focused on getting a good picture or video and not what it going on.  I hope that glass can help me to be more in the moment and less focused on the pictures/video.  I know that documenting things like changing out the brakes, working with software, and many other things will be much easier knowing I don't have to be holding or controlling something.  I will definitely post a bit about my experience with it here.

I keep talking with SGG about blogging more.  I'm just not sure what to write.  I'll keep working on it though!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Ahhh....the world didn't end and other mumbo jumbo

So, life remains extremely busy for us at Casa Loco, or Fetzig Haus.  My job has me traveling from time to time.  Things are never easy it seems, not for anyone.  We've had to make some hard decisions during the past year.  I foresee more in the future.  I am always very thankful for the quite moments SGG and I have to reflect on our lessons learned and always looking and dreaming forward.

Dreams, as it turns out, don't happen effortlessly.  They require quite a bit of energy to materialize and to keep going.  Sometimes they don't turn out quite like you wanted, and often you realize how very thankful you are that they didn't.  We had two children this past year that went to live with their respective other biological parents.  We had not planned on that, but given the circumstances in both cases it seemed like the best decision for them to grow and move forward.  In both cases it appears so far that we made the best decision as both boys are doing very well.

Brandon will be 16 in May and has been living with his mom and step-dad since June.  He is working on getting his driver's license.  He completed his classroom work in the fall and yesterday, New Years Eve, he started his actual behind the wheel training.  His grades could always be better, but he is really maturing and doing so very well in everything else.  He has been playing soccer for his school and is looking forward to playing golf and baseball in the spring.

Michael just turned 14 in October.  He is now 6'4" and still growing.  He is living with his dad in Long Island.  He rides the train into Manhattan to see his dad on Wall Street and seems very savvy about moving around New York City.  He is going to the same middle school his dad went to, and may even go to the same high school.  He played football for the school this year and is playing basketball right now, go figure.  :-)

John will be 13 in just a few days.  He lives with SGG and I.  He plays cello for his middle school, and piano when he feels like it.  He is trying to teach himself guitar too.  He played baseball in the fall and will likely play in the spring too.

For SGG and I, our big news is that we acted on our dream and purchased a small house up in the mountains in western Virginia.  The beach area is nice, but we love the hills and mountains.  The house will probably be where we retire to as well.  I was trying to think about how to describe that adventure and whether to detail those stories here or in another blog.  I decided that we would start another blog dedicated to the adventures or misadventures we have in the mountains, and keep this one here about parenting, marriage, etc...though I don't really write a lot here anymore.  :-(

Monroe Mountain House Blog

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Life Decisions...

...made here.

Everyday SGG and I wake up, make some coffee (Cafe Verona unless she has found a better "deal" which never tastes as good), and then sit in these two chairs.  We hold hands, drink coffee, watch the sun come up and the world come to life.  The boys aren't up, but the animals have been fed.  The dog runs around the yard, patrolling for intruders and that the cat sits on the sills squeaking at the birds.  We sit here and we talk about our day coming up, our week, our future.  On Sundays, SGG scours the paper for coupons and we talk about what we are going to eat that week too.  Every day we have 30 minutes to an hour to ourselves to talk about anything and everything.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Some life decisions that have been made lately...
We made the decision to take a job in Richmond in April and move there, but after four weeks of working there I ran into unresolvable issues and decided to quit that job and not move.  So we are still in Virginia Beach.  I took a job working for a Navy command that does vulnerability assessment testing for all new Navy programs (with my previous employer) and I believe that is going to work out very well.  The only real problem has been that we had to get caught up on testing and that put my co-worker and I on the road in California and Hawaii for a month.  More about that in the next post (coming soon I swear).

With the job transition and transition back, we made some other rather big decisions.  My son did ok in our public school here for his first year in High School.  He didn't do great though, and he certainly didn't take full advantage of the opportunities he had.  The school has over 2000 students in it and can be a bit daunting.  During the decision to move to Richmond, a new place for all of us and a move to a new school with 2000+ students, we had to make a decision about my son's future.  His mom really wanted him to come down and live with her and her husband.  His mom works at a private school and he would go to school there.  He has a large network of friends down there already because he spends the summers there.  The teachers aren't as connected to the parents in the public high schools, but with his mom, the teachers work with her at the school.  I talked to the school and went through their curriculum.  My new job also involves some travel for the first time, which Brandon never responds well to.  The end result is that SGG and I believe that Brandon moving down to be with his mom and in a smaller school would be best for Brandon and his future.  So far that looks like the right decision, but it is still very early.  He has a lot of good friends and had a great summer.  He has already started school there and had a great first week.  He is also playing on the school's soccer team.  Helping him get his stuff together to move to his mom's was very difficult and very emotional.  Much more so than I was anticipating.

Earlier in the year, Christmas/New Years to be exact, SGG and her ex-husband made the decision to have the middle child (her eldest) move to NYC to be with his dad.  There were a number of factors going into the decision that I won't go into, but he seems to be doing well up there.  He is also 6'4" tall, still growing, and not quite 14.

That means that starting the school year here, Labor Day basically in VA, we only have one child with us.  It is certainly going to be  a different year.

Fortunately, the other two boys are not all that far away.  I also spend a LOT of time on Google+ now and the Hangout feature there is great for video conferencing with the boys...when I can get them to use it.  :-)

We have also been replacing the carpet in the house with laminate hardwood type flooring.  I got two bedrooms and a hallway done before I had to leave for the month for work.

Leaving you with these two shots from my trip...will do the write ups later:

San Diego Skyline on my last night in California

Pt Mugu - 8 hrs of driving for a 1 hour meeting....

Six days in Hawaii and we only got about 6 hrs to explore the island....this is from the Pali Pass...
Delicious juice drink I found in CA...

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Hello world....

Hello World.  It has been a while since I have logged back into blogger and quite a bit has changed.  We've been quite busy with some good things, and some not as good things.  I wish I could say that we had solved most of the problems in the world but that would not be the case.  Mostly we have just been getting by, happy to just deal with the day to day ups and downs of every day life in a mixed family home. 

The big news is that I have decided to take another job.  This one is a private sector job in Richmond, VA.  After some interviews last summer I realized that I was stagnating were I was.  I was dug into my work and I hadn't realized what was happening.  In March, a number of strange and unintended events had the net effect of my company losing the contract with the military command we were at, and the government scrambling to get us back.  That took some time.  There were several of us that were temporarily displaced, and we came together as a team to win the work back or find other work.  We are all adeptly skilled in doing network vulnerability assessments and security engineering.  We quickly realized that we had no idea that there were so many opportunities all around us.  We even picked up and did a small penetration test for a commercial company as a side job as 1099 self contractors.  In the end I had to make a choice between three jobs...staying on as a government contractor, going to a government civilian position, or taking a job back in the commercial sector with the regional power company helping them to protect their networks.  SGG and I discussed it at length and we went with the third option for a variety of reasons that will become more clear in the coming months.  We are very excited about the opportunities that surround this position and the move to Richmond.

Also, I write a lot more on Google+ now, but it is almost all about network security stuff.  There are some funny stories I need to post when I get some time...things like the dog chasing a squirrel into the house one day and the chaos that ensued.  There are the ongoing chronicles of the boy that won't do his homework, and so forth.  :-)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

amalgamation...

"Kindly let me help you or you will drown," said the monkey, putting the fish safely up a tree. (Alan Watts)

What is the right thing for one person is not necessarily the right thing for another.  No special reason for posting this thought other than I heard it today from a friend and I've been doing a great deal of listening and reading of Alan Watts material.  If you want to think about something other than the day to day grind of things I highly recommend you try listening to or reading Alan Watts.  The material is centered around Buddhist and Taoist philosophy.

 I've been using Google+ for a few months now and I really like it.  It does bring up some interesting quandaries about identity and anonymity.  I certainly think a lot more about what I write and where I write it. 

Back in June I said I went on a secret mission.  It wasn't really secret, I just wasn't sure what to say about it at that point.  The gist of it was that I went to California to go on an interview.  I am pretty happy with my current job, but sometimes an opportunity comes up that you just have to follow through on.  This was one of those.  I love California, especially around Monterey and San Francisco.  The company flew me out and paid for my expenses.  I spent the weekend there and had the interview on Monday, the day after Father's day. 

On Father's Day I went to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, which was amazing.  I drove up and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, then went on a hike up the hill on the other side to get some great shots of the bridge and San Francisco.  I was invited by a long time blog friend to spend Father's day afternoon with their new family and extended family.  It was a great time.  I got to meet and talk with a lot of amazing people that have done amazing things with their lives.  They have the coolest fire pit I've ever seen, and there are red wood trees growing in their back yard!  It was the best Father's Day I could have had having to be away from home.  Computers, hiking, and wonderful people.  I really wish SGG could have come out with me, it would have been just perfect then.

Alas, I did not get offered the job.  They were definitely looking for someone with a computer software development background, and that isn't what I do at all.  :-)

So all the boys are back , no more earthquakes or hurricanes (I hope).  My son Brandon is now in 9th grade, his first year of high school.  He seems like he is really liking it so far.  Michael, the middle one, is in 7th grade and is now about 6'1" tall....he will be 13 years old this month.  John, the youngest, is in 6th grade and is in his first year of middle school.  Two of the boys are playing baseball, and the other is writing computer code.  There is always something happening, and SGG has a giant calendar up on the wall to keep track of it all.

The dog has now gotten two squirrels.  The first was a baby that was already dead and had been washed out by the hurricane.  The second he got today, but we sort of saved it before he killed it.  No telling if the squirrel will make it, but it did manage to get back up the tree.

We did manage to paint the shed over the summer, and we have a new driveway being put in this week...we think, and the garage door will be replaced soon.  I've had to take the current door apart once to get it back into working shape until the new door gets here.  I get to do a lot of little projects around the house, like fixing doors, painting, and keeping the lawn mower running.  I had to replace the carburetor on the mower this weekend...I'm pretty sure there is a piece of dirt stuck in the fuel line inside the thing, but I couldn't get it out.

We had our first day of cooler weather today too.  I am very glad it is finally here.  It snowed in WV yesterday....and that means snowboarding season is not far away!  :-)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dogs, Earthquakes, and Hurricanes.....

So, so much to catch up on....life is pretty crazy and when it isn't SGG and I collapse.

Did I say crazy?  Because in the insanity we got a dog.  His name is Blaze (Blaze-O, Blazer) and he is part Border Collie and part Black Lab.  He is a year old and we got him from the SPCA.  SGG said he looked adorable, I said he looked mischievous, I was right.


The dog is a very smart, energetic and lovable dog.  The dog is very energetic.  Did I mention he was energetic?  The dog also doesn't come when called.  That means that when he gets out we have a neighborhood meeting and everyone has to get involved.  There is a lot of running and eventually the dog gets tired of the game.  He'll stop when he wants to check out someone else's dog.  I've even met people with other "problem" dogs.  They taught me to accept the fact that one day I will be picking up the pup at the pound.

I finally found all the holes in the fence too.  I finally had to tie 100' of rope to the dog and let him show me his final escape route.  And he did.

Dog and Cat can almost cohabitate in the same room without the cat puffing out and hissing herself to death.

The dog is from Narnia by the way.  When he doesn't know I'm looking, he gets up on his hind legs by the bushes and tries to walk along them to see the birds in them.  

So Tuesday afternoon (8/23/11) I was in the middle of a conversation in the hallway at work when I had to stop ask "Are we moving?  Is this an earthquake?"  Sure enough.  It was the first one I can remember feeling.  The epicenter was about 150 or so miles away in Mineral, VA.  Magnitude was 5.8.

Then we hear that Hurricane Irene is coming.  So we packed up kids and dog and headed to see my friend in Blacksburg, VA...which is where we are now.  We plan on doing some hiking and probably heading back Sunday depending on damage assessments/power/etc.  As of the time of this writing, the storm has been downgraded to a Category I and is supposed to pass by off shore with only tropical storm winds and rain where we live.