Birthday Week Recap


My birthday week didn't exactly go off like I'd planned. I didn't do as much hobby-oriented what- not as I had planned, but I still marked some things off my list.

I wrapped up my Top 10 Movies viewing, which was truly a Top 10 I was In The Mood To Watch That I Hadn't Seen Recently. Wrapping up from the first 2 I listed last time:

Kind of interesting that the newest movies on the list are from 2013. Maybe I need a new list - favorite movies from the past half-decade?

I finally made it to Gardendale to have lunch at the closest Shrimp Basket. Beach food not at the beach isn't as good as it is at the beach. A ~90 minute drive to find this out is a lot better than the 6 hrs it takes to reach the beach, though. On the way back, there was a wreck on 65 roughly 5 minutes after I got back on to the interstate. It was bad enough that the interstate became a parking lot for 90 minutes. This was the 2nd time I've been parked on an interstate, the first time being about 12 years ago - both times involved some type of wreck with a tractor trailer, but I've never known any other details for the cause of either. Interesting thing that's happened both times - somebody had a football and started tossing it around.

My old man moment of being stuck - I had to pee about 20 min into being parked, and didn't know how long I was going to be there. So I waved politely to the trucker behind me and aimed to the shoulder, after making sure no emergency vehicles were flying past, and I relaxed my bladder and for the first time ever I peed on an interstate. 50. Peeing on the road. That's me.

I wrapped up the week by getting sick. After catching Strep 3 weeks ago, I was paranoid when the same symptoms hit me Saturday. For someone who doesn't go to the doctor very often, I've now been twice inside a month. Good news though, I don't have Strep. Or the Flu. Just a really bad sinus infection, but without being stopped up like I am with every other sinus infection. A shot in the butt, various drugs, and I should hopefully be feeling fine in a few days. 50 year old me has different symptoms, this is going to take a little getting used to.

movies/tv/dvd rambling road trip

Nashville Trip


Nashville has long been my close/weekend getaway spot, but last week said location became the target of a business trip. Is training business? It think it is.

Back in March I took a class in Nashville to become a Certified Scrum Master. This time I went back to become an Advanced Certified Scrum Master. Same venue. Same trainer. I even managed to stay in the same hotel room.

Advanced Scrum Mastering involves a lot of facilitation. Since March, I've learned that was a skill I was especially lacking. Besides being the second of three certifications on my current career track, learning how to (better) facilitate made me want to take the class RIGHT NOW. So I did.

I learned a lot in the 2 days of class. I learned things I was doing wrong. I learned I was just not doing some things that I thought I was - the difference between coaching and mentoring sneaks up on me faster and harder than I would have thought. I lucked out again with class and was with a good group of 20 people. Within that group I found that with any problem I thought I had coming into the class, at least one other people shared. It wasn't always the same person, and in a way that made me feel better.

As with any multi-day trip to Nashville, Dr Blondie is in charge of my evening meal selection as long as she's in town. Class was scheduled for the right week and she was, indeed, in town. I give Dr Blondie a very specific rule for dining selection: No nation-wide chains. The local joints ruled again as we went 3/3 on good eats!

My personal side trip was to go to McKays to trade in some boardgames. Dr Blondie introduced me to this used Everything I'm Interested In store on my last trip. On the boardgame shelf at work (ie Overflow Storage), the top shelf is mostly taken up by Target/Clearance riff-raff that nobody is going to play, and is not worth the shipping cost for anyone I might be able to sell to online. Various versions of Scene-It, Trivial Pursuit, Jenga, and that damn Jeff Foxworthy Game that got about 3 rounds played. It was an opportunity to free up some shelf space and get some store credit, so I loaded up the car before I left with about 30 of those games. Oddly, it didn't seem to make that much of a difference when looking at the games I left in my office.

I wasn't expecting much for trading in the games, and Dr Blondie told me they likely wouldn't take everything. I bet they wouldn't take Mall World, near the top of my list on bad, uninvestigated impulse buys. But they did take Mall World. They took everything I brought. For the ~30 games I brought, which I admitted were crap (crap in great condition, but crap) I was hoping for $3, maybe $4 per game of credit. By the time they totaled up everything up, I had $212 in credit.

I was overjoyed with $212 in credit.

I didn't spend it all. I barely made a dent in it. Now I've started a list of things specifically to look for on my next McKays trip. DVDs over a year old. A couple of books that they might have that I'm in no hurry to read.


The day back was a long day. I gave Brenda a heads up that I was going to be in Nashville in case she was planning any trips to Florence. I'd hate for her to fly into Huntsville while I'm 2 hrs away in Nashville. She took this opportunity to find a great deal on flight into Nashville (on Tuesday), then back home on Saturday. I had 4 hours between the end of class and picking up Brenda at BNA. Pizza with Dr Blondie took up part of that, plus she let me use her home internet to take care of a little work that made Wednesday start off a little easier.

I forgot that BNA uses cell phone waiting instead of park & wait at the terminal, and the waiting area was pretty full. I ended up making 3 laps around the terminal when Brenda called to let me know where she was, which happened to be about 20 ft away. She got loaded up into the car, and we got to Florence about midnight. A little after 1 and I was home and in bed. While normally on End of Sprint Wednesday I go in about 6, I slept completely thorugh the alarm and didn't get out of bed until 7:15. Luckily, it didn't make a bit of difference.

mckays road trip work

My Tony Robbins Is Coming To Town


Not the most traditional of any blog post made on Christmas day, but this morning I checked my email and saw an alert that good old Kev was coming to Huntsville in May. Every other time I've had a chance to see him I've either been too late to the ticket line or there's a late night trip to Nashville involved.

This time, I was early enough for the general admission ticket line and it's a 6:30 show in Huntsville which should get me home and likely in bed by 10:30. 10:30 is a respectable bedtime for an old fart like me.

After seeing Kevin in Nashville last time I had told myself it would likely be the last that I would try to see him in person as I'd heard a good 75% of what he talked about before. That thought passed through my head as I clicked the button to purchase my ticket, but come on, he's basically coming to my doorstep.

At the very least I won't hear the story again of how his father loved Nashville and their trip to the Ryman. I have to see if that sentence comes back to haunt me in May.

road trip

San Jose


Last week I took my first Dealnews work trip to the Velocity conference in San Jose. I'd last visited California (San Francisco) around 2002 on a work trip to a biotech conference, which was really just an excuse to meet a bunch of people at Stanford that I'd been working with/doing their bidding. This time, I was actually going for the conference.

The conference was focused on Dev Ops. I know marginally more about Dev Ops than I did before the conference, but that's mainly because I don't know how to attend a conference. I've spent most of my career pigeonholed into making web pages/applications and I'm slow to learn. Delving into the world of Dev Ops with people that know Dev Ops didn't help me much.

This is the first conference I've been to that dealt with anything close to what I actually use. I actually learned a little - there was a panel on web browser debugging tools that I enjoyed - but my method of retention doesn't line up with conference presentations. But now I know that, and the next time a conference opportunity comes up I'll most likely opt for some online training instead.

The trip itself was nicer than I anticipated. I upgraded my flights to first class and got a good deal ($141 above what work paid for). The Santa Clara Hyatt, which is joined to the convention center that hosted the conference, was quite nice. The weather... ahh, it was great. Mid 60's in the morning, perfect for walking. There were a couple of sandwich places within ½ mile of the hotel (I didn't bother with a car while I was there). Traffic actually pays attention to pedestrian crosswalks, so it seems very pedestrian friendly. My flight anxiety was once again present for no reason - all my flights were fairly smooth and most arrived early.

Now for some obligatory pictures:

The Cali hat pic from the San Jose airport led me to create my first ever meme pic (or whatever the kids call them), as I had LL Cool J running through my head afterward.

road trip

The Kevin Smith Trip


After the Pentatonix concert, I traveled back to Nashville the following week as Matt and I went to see Kevin Smith at Zanies.

I find it a little ironic that for a homebody like me I end up going to 2 events in Nashville over the course of 2 weeks. Kevin Smith's Q&A was going to keep me out longer on a work-night than I'm used to, but Kevin is one of those go-to-see people on my bucket list. He ends up in Nashville once per year, which I found out last year right after his tickets sold out. This year I was on the ball, and coerced Matt to go/drive. Matt went to Vandy so he's used to Nashville traffic. Post-wreck Russ still gets a little skittish in large mobs of cars in conjunction with not really knowing where I'm going.

Matt, along with Dr Blondie, is a big fan of Chuys. While I'm not the go-to for Mexican food like most people I know, I've come to enjoy it more than I used to. Lately I've been trying fish/shrimp tacos, and on my last visit with Dr Blondie I found that I liked Chuys' shrimp tacos. Matt and I had a couple of choices for dinner, but traffic helped steer us to Chuys.

After dinner we had a little time to kill so we walked around the block (or maybe a couple of blocks). I enjoy people watching, and there was quite the diverse crowd to watch milling about in midtown Nashville. The highlight of my little walking trip, not counting the heavily tattooed tight clothed women fold walking about, was a beautifully painted Prince motorcycle. I don't know if it was a paint job in memorial of Prince's death or if it was just a long time fan, but the paint job was nice.

Most trips to Nashville involve as stopover at Frugal MacDoogle. Matt needed liqour, so such a stop was required. Though not a drinker, I enjoy looking at the artistry of the bottles. Over in the "ale" section they had a 4-pack of Vulcan Ale which seems to be a Star Trek licensed beer. That shouldn't amaze me, but it does.

Finally we ended up at Zanies to watch Kevin Smith. I didn't really know what to expect going in. I thought it would be a little Q&A session that might go about 2 hours. Once Kevin started he talked about his Dad coming to Nashville and loving it years ago, then he started the Q&A. He looked at his phone and said "It's 9:21 now. We're going to go to about midnight." Lot's of hoots, hollers, and cheers. He ended up going until roughly 12:30. That man can talk. Like he said in the beginning, "You may think that everybody gets to ask a question, but we'll really only get a few. A little Q, a whoooole lotta A." I think he answered 7 questions by the end of the night.

Most of what he talked about I'd heard before through years of listening to his podcasts and other Q&As. Kevin has stories he tells the same, I think that's just something he has to do with the way he does his Q&As. Questions about his newer projects (Yoga Hosers and Moosejaws) I hadn't heard as many details previously. There was at least 1 backstory I was telling Matt on the way to the show that came up when Kevin was telling his stories, and I felt good that I stayed pretty true to what I had originally heard.

I enjoyed the show. At the end I was ready to come home (I got to bed at 2:45AM). Now I've seen Kevin, and I'd probably go see him again if I don't have to go to work the next day.

road trip

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