Monthly Archives: January 2013

Interstate

In an effort to experiment with commuting, I decided to take a new route to work.

Typically I drive on the commuting corridor known as K10, but today I went on the interstate to see how it measured up. It ended up being equal time, so nothing really gained there (in fact, it cost me a toll, too).

Shortly after I got onto the interstate, I noticed a car to my left out of the corner of my eye. We were neck-and-neck for a few seconds, and so I sped up. We were crossing over a bridge, and the jockeying for position made me a little nervous – probably because of my http://www.ericjgruber.com/blog/2013/01/spinning/ driving recently.

So, I accelerated. Then I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. The car was there, but movement caught my attention. It was friends of mine waving to say hello. I looked over and smiled. “Well, hello!” I said, and gave a wave back.

In taking a different route, I end up seeing people I know, out of the blue. If they were regular commuters or something, that wouldn’t be a big coincidence. But I happen to know they’re “off,” this week because of a death in the family, so running into them in this manner took me my surprise.

Isn’t it odd how things like that happen? I find those types of coincidental meetings occur with enough frequency that it feels like it must be more than chance. It makes me wonder if there has ever been a study done or a well thought out explanation, vis-a-vis the six degrees phenomon.

It certainly seems that it’s more than just coincidence. Or is it?

Cobwebs

A few years ago, my grandfather passed away.

He died from all the horrible complications associated with dementia, and it was incredibly painful to watch him deteriorate.

My grandfather was a master craftsman. He was a builder, spending most of his life building houses all around Kansas. My uncle has said he could frame a house taking only a couple of measurements.

My memories of him and his big red Ford pickup include a camper filled with tools. One time I got to drive the truck, and he had me drive a little faster than normal on the backroads of Montgomery County to “blow out the cobwebs.” It wasn’t until after he passed that, upon telling my father this, dad told me blowing out a supposed accumulation of cobwebs from a truck’s exhaust wasn’t really a thing. My grandfather gave me an excuse to speed with a little help of plausible deniability.

He intentionally sent me out thrill-seeking and I didn’t even realize it.

That big red Ford came with all sorts of memories. He would take my sister and I fishing in it, and we’d sit forever (to a kid that probably 45 minutes) and hope for the big catch. I remember the sound of those tools rattling around in the back, his glasses that would get dark in the sun, and his cowboy boots pressing on the gas pedal.

I miss my grandpa (thankfully his wife – Grandmama as my girls know her – is still alive). I miss my other grandparents, too. I pull such sweet memories from my 36-year-old brain sometimes. At times I can’t help it – a certain smell, or a stroll through an antique store might bring back memories of the past. Sometimes it seems like those I’ve lost are right beside me; like I could reach out and talk to them.

But of course, I cannot. Those days are past.

Now I delight in my responsibility to provide wonderful experiences, so my children will have something to take with them on their journey. While gifts and things can be fun, those things fade and become faint in the mind. But experiences and everyday little things can become etched in stone. That is my duty; ensure the good memories overcome the bad ones.

And someday, when the time comes, I’ll make sure my girls get the chance to blow out the cobwebs … just like I did.

Spinning

Thursday night was a rainy one, preceded by a rainy day.

As I got onto an exit ramp to get on the main highway that takes me home, I lost control of my vehicle. I started spinning, and my the only thought that went through my head was “You’ll be OK. You’ll have to ride it out.”

And so I did.

In retrospect its hard to say how many revolutions I endured. At first I thought it was only one, but thinking about it later made me believe it might have been twice. I can’t say for sure; it happened so fast but seemed to last forever.

My little Corolla came to a halt and I noticed all the dashboard lights were on and the engine had died. I wanted to just sit there, a little shocked and a little thrilled. But them I noticed another car coming down the on-ramp. I feared a collision or that it might also lose control, but it slowed to a stop.

My trance wore off, I started the car and continued my ride home, albeit more slowly.

And then I called my wife. I told her about the spin and explained I’d be home a little late.

“I’m going to stop in De Soto and fill up to add more weight to the car,” I said. “And I might need to change my underwear.”

In review: 2012

“A year from now you’ll wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb

When Josh Davis wrote his 2011 year in review, I thought “Next year, I need to do that.” And so, with Josh’s 2012 Personal Year in Review, I’m reminded of my good intentions.

Resolutions and goals are important. You can’t progress if you don’t set goals and take actions to move toward fulfilling them. Likewise, a year-in-review is a fantastic way to measure your actions against your resolutions.

So how did I do?

Accomplishments

  • Social Media Club of Lawrence Kansas – I started off the year by joining the local chapter of the Social Media Club as Promotions Chair.
  • Startup Weekend Kansas City – In April I attended Startup Weekend at Union Station. The experience was fantastic, and got my juices flowing for a major change that happened later in the year.
  • Randall 2012 – A friend and former roommate, Grant Randall, announced his candidacy for the 1st District House of Representatives in Kansas. I started out as just “doing the website” which evolved into “Communications Manager” about midway through the campaign. Sadly, he didn’t win in November, but it was one fantastic experience.
  • Learning Rails 3 – A book I contributed three chapters to about the web development framework Ruby on Rails was released in July from O’Reilly Media.
  • Getting healthier – In October, my blood work confirmed that my low-carb/Paleo diet was working. In fact, I ended up breaking through a weight barrier I had for years, dropped clothing sizes and went up two notches on the belt.
  • Job change – After almost seven years with the City of Lawrence as its eGov Coordinator (aka, website administrator), I left in early December for a web developer position at the City of Olathe. I think I have more to write about that, but I’m not sure when it will happen. My time at the City of Lawrence was the longest job I had ever had, and leaving wasn’t easy. But after a few weeks in at the new place, I can say without a doubt that I made the right decision.

Goals

So I know where I’ve been, but what’s the new year look like for me? I have a few things in mind …

  • Coding with Coda – My little book on one of my favorite text editors will be released in the next month or so with O’Reilly Media.
  • Old projects and loose ends – I have a project or two from 2012 that needs wrapped up. I’ll be working on those intently in the first couple of months to get them done.
  • Continue my health journey – The end of 2012 was decadent. Also, the job switch screwed up my exercise routine. It’s time to get back to healthy eating, and I’m starting to get my bearing on a routine for exercise. My ultimate goal is to get to my preferred weight and …
  • Go on a trip – My wife and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage and it seems like we should take a trip or something outside the usual camping and canoeing trip.
  • House projects – Painting, fixing and other little touches have been swept under the rug for awhile. I’m going to rectify that in 2013.
  • New projects – Oh, I have some ideas but I’ll keep those quiet for now.

So how did you do? What are your plans for 2013?