Yes, it’s almost that time of year, so I’m sitting on the porch blogging away. Looking forward to doing more of it soon now that it’s spring, and the sun is up so long.

I saw an old friend this morning after my morning cappuccino and coding at my favorite coffee shop, Peet’s in Lexington. It was one of those odd moments of complete and happy surprise, since while we email regularly, I really didn’t expect to see him in downtown Lexington, just sitting on a park bench. In any case, he reminded me that I should blog more, and not just about that Apache stuff. So here you go. I will say I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends in the next two weekends, since I think some plans will be coming together nicely.

Hey! If anyone has good links for Patriot’s Day events this year, email them or post them here. I really want to get a good calendar of what’s happening when, since it’s one of my favorite holidays of the year. I’ll drop one excellent link here – if you want to know what actually happened back then, read Boston 1775, a blog by J.L. Bell, who has great commentary as well as links to original source material from the time of the revolution.

In other news, I’m ashamed to say I’m drinking instant coffee with my stroopkoeken. It’s one of those guilty pleasures – I love the Idee Kaffee instant coffee packets that I brought home from Amsterdam last month. Please don’t tell Janice or the staff at Peet’s I’m drinking anything but their bar drinks or my whole bean Maj. Dickason’s I get each week.

Resolutions 2009

Post > 5 items per week
Blogging (or writing comments, etc.) is creative work, and creative work makes me feel like I can do more. To cliche, to be the change you wish to see, you have to do it first. That’s either in the larger world, or for yourself (like this blog is).
Get physical exercise every day
Brisk walks around the block or doing simple weights at home count. Swimming is the best though.
Deploy one new project per quarter
Insert “personal” there. I have all sorts of ideas about community, open source, and swag/tshirts – I just need to do them.
Spend more time with family
Duh. Insert “quality” in there; it’s about avoiding the day’s stress and avoiding too much multitasking. I’m starting to understand when people say we should let kids be kids for as long as possible.


Maine is dark

Really dark. You just can’t believe how vastly deeply inkly dark it is. I mean you may think it’s awfully dark in your bedroom when you turn out the lights and close the door, but that’s just twinkles compared to Maine. And you haven’t stayed in Maine until you hear the loons on the lake in the middle of the night. Spooky, unless you’ve heard them before, and then it’s just eerie.

We had a lovely family vacation up at a cabin on the lake. Yes, it’s near Waterford, and no, it’s not at Papoose Pond, although one set of our previous neighbors stay there, and several other neighbors stay within a town or two of us. It’s odd how many New Englanders we’ve met who not only spend summer vacation in Maine, but spend it within a few miles of where we do.

Sadly, cell phone service is only on the highways, my dial-up was less than anemic, and the nearest wifi was over 20 min drive away, as well as my firewall acting up, hence I’ve been offline for the past weekend. Although I feel bad about missing a few things, it really was relaxing. I went just over 3 days without using a computer at all, and I can’t remember the last time I’d done that for… possibly years. While it’s a good thing to get completely away from work and such for a while, it still could have been useful to use teh internets for all those little convenient things, like ordering something online, checking the weather, and good gods, Google Maps would have been handy for exploring around there.

In any case, the weather was beautiful and we not only took out the canoe but also the little outboard skiff and got to cruise through the ponds. Quite spiffy.

Anyway, I’m back now. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

Frederick A. Otto, 61: beloved co-worker and outdoorsman; father and stepfather; loving husband

I’m not quite sure what else to put here, other than what we’ve already put in the local papers where Fred was well known. Needless to say we’ve been rather busy, and I probably won’t have a normal schedule for at least another week after other family events. So sorry if I haven’t gotten back to someone recently!

Fred not only taught me about the outdoors – hiking, fishing, hunting – but also taught me to play cards, and almost more importantly (to me, anyway) taught me to appreciate good rock and roll. I also know that he was both a good husband and father, and even more so was a good stepfather.

Frederick A. Otto, 61, of Littleton MA and Randolph NH, died at his home in Littleton on Dec 3. He was born in Northampton MA on July 23, 1946, son of the late Ernest and Dorothy (Dahill) Otto. Fred grew up in Northampton and was a graduate of Northampton High School. Fred received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University and an MBA from Michigan State University.

Fred worked at GenRad for over 20 years and later QuadTech. Most recently Fred worked at Instron as a Vice President where he was held in the highest regard by colleagues who also became dear friends during his 12 year tenure. Fred was dedicated to his profession and will be greatly missed by his work family.

Aside from work Fred enjoyed the outdoors, camping, hunting, hiking and most of all fishing. From their Randolph home Fred and Phyllis fished many rivers together and achieved their goal of hiking all 48 of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s NH Four Thousand Footers. From their Littleton home Fred was a member of the South Fitchburg Hunting and Fishing Club and previously a member of the Harvard Sportsman’s Club.

Fred is survived by his wife Phyllis Curcuru, son Robert Otto, and a stepson Shane Curcuru, his wife Amy, and daughter Roxanne. He is also survived by a sister Susan Wight.

Visiting Hours will be held at the Badger Funeral Home, 347 King St. Littleton on Thursday from 11-1 pm and 4-6 pm with a Funeral Service at 6 pm. Burial will be at the New Cemetery, Randolph NH on Saturday at 1 pm.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Randolph Mountain Club as follows:
Randolph Mountain Club
PO Box 279
Gorham NH 03581
Please write “In memory of Fred Otto” on the check memo line

Thanks to the friends, family, and co-workers who’ve helped out along the way.

Weekend Report: Thanksgiving Families

(Yes, I still have ApacheCon blog postings to finish; I’m waiting on a friend to supply some graphics-fu before I wrap those up with a bang.)

The Thanksgiving week started out in a Murphy-esque way after we all arrived back home from our respective trips. The day after I stopped taking Airborne, I got a cold, which was quite a doozy on Wednesday. Luckily, we weren’t planning to travel far.

Thanksgiving day my lovely wife Amy volunteered to do the cooking and watch Roxanne, allowing me to sleep in and feel a bit better. We spent the traditional Thanksgiving locally with my mother, stepfather, stepbrother and his beau. Although my stepfather has been seriously ill, we made it through Thanksgiving with all traditions intact, if a little more tired than usual.

My mother’s traditional Thanksgiving is pretty familiar, with a couple of twists. The good white wine goes with cheeses, crackers, and crudite. The only requirements – besides good wine – is that one of the cheeses is blue, the stuff with mold in it. I lucked out and picked a wine that went perfectly with my light french blue (on the gorgonzola side). With the TV on the in background, there’s the traditional half-hourly dashes to the oven to baste the turkey and set the next side dish into motion. I usually help with the gravy, and then do the mashed potatoes as everyone else takes care of a vegetable.

Our biggest twist is the addition of sauerkraut, steeped with the turkey neck, as a side dish. It’s a surprisingly good counterpoint to the white meat, and comes from the tiny bit of Germanic blood in our background. Dinner is simple, and is accompanied by the good red wine. Everyone got through dinner fine, Roxanne even with unscathed clothes after deciding that the best use for cranberry sauce is to spread like jelly on the cranberry bread.

After the cleanup and finishing of one of the football games, we have coffee with the traditional pecan and chocolate mousse pies. Yes, I actually like pumpkin better, but my stepfather’s dark chocolate mousse pie has been a staple since I don’t remember when.

Friday we drove a couple of hours to spend a night with Amy’s family in CT. This is always great, because her parents use this as an excuse to have everyone else over, including their kids – all close in age, and (usually) all who play together for a while, leaving us a little bit of time to catch up. The dinner was, of course, traditional – turkey sandwiches. Hot or cold as you decided on microwaving with gravy (or not, with homemade cranberry sauce) yourself.

The highlight of this trip was bringing Lucas, our beloved Siamese cat, home again. He had been staying with family for a few weeks since we had both been traveling previously, and he’s a very social guy. He took the trip just fine, but I sense that he’s still a little miffed for having been sent away for a couple of weeks, since he’s still not purring nearly as much as he usually does. Siamese can hold a grudge for quite a long time…

Sunday was fairly productive in getting the house ready for winter, and trying to face up to going back to work in the face of only XX more shopping days until the midwinter holidays. Hope everyone had a good trip, wherever they went! (Or didn’t go, for those of you working a normal week and not succumbing to the odd colonial America holiday!)

Weekend Update(s); Soon Tobe Blogalot

A few random notes to use as off-brain memory, and a notice I’ll be blogging a lot more soon.

A few weekends back I had a computer-free day. In fact nearly the whole weekend was computer free. By computer-free, I mean that I neither logged in nor opened a computer – I think I didn’t even touch my laptop. It was quite nice, and mostly because I was busy with family and friends and events all day.

Last weekend was great, if very busy. Amy’s sister’s family came up with their two little ones, cousins of Roxanne. They had a blast. I’d forgotten how fast time can fly when there are a bunch of kids who all get along in the house. Also, how quickly a gallon of milk goes – although a lot of that was us adults, since they drink a lot of tea. He’s from the old country, you know, and makes a wicked pot of tea, just strong enough, plenty of warm milk, and sugar too. Along with being tasty, it’s an excellent excuse to have a lot of cookies.

Oh, and Halloween was a lot of fun. We all went trick-or-treating for a while, then Amy and Roxanne walked over to a friend’s house and I passed out candy and talked to the neighbors. Roxanne was a cat in a pink tutu – the tutu covering up the fact that we lost the tail from last year. The costume still fit, but just barely. She was very happy with it. One young boy in the neighborhood comes up with the best math geek costumes (he must be 8 or 9 now). He’s been a giant “i” (the imaginary number); pi; and this year was covered with triangles with little numbers – Pythagorean triples. Definitely a budding geek.

And I’ll be blogging a lot more soon because ApacheCon is NEARLY HERE! And I still haven’t packed, finished all the $dayjob I need to do, nor split the ApacheCon Europe CFP’s into tracks and all that for the next conference’s planning meeting. Yikes. Hope to see some of you soon!

Real Conversations with a 3 year old

Roxanne had just woken up, and since mom had already left for work, I came to sit on the bed to snuggle. After her minute of stretching and rolling about to wake herself up, she sat up on the bed next to me and asked a still-sleepy question.

“Daddy, what day is today?”
“Today is Fooblesday!”
“No it’s not.”
“Sure it is. I got all these foobles ready for today myself!”
“No, daddy, Fooblesday is not a day. Wednesday and Friday, those are days. Not Fooblesday.”

As always, her delivery was flawless. Still not always sure what each day is (unless you count the days with her), but her vocabularly and phrasing of so many things is amazingly adult sounding.