Tag Archives: Family

Life’s better, when you focus on the good things

Yesterday I went deer hunting with Youngest. He got to learn why it’s “hunting” not “bagging” because we came home with nothing.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. We came home with a bunch of great experiences and memories.

It wasn’t until maybe a year ago that Youngest expressed any interest in hunting. But since he did, I’ve been trying to make it happen. Finally, thanks to the generosity of a friend, I had an opportunity to take him out. Now, I’m doing the actual hunting and work here as Youngest doesn’t feel ready to do anything other than observe. But he wants to see what it’s all about.

We set off at an early hour. I swear I’ve never seen this kid so happy to wake up, not to mention wake up at 3:30 am! Obviously excited, and we set off. Over the hour drive there was much talking, asking and answering of questions, and getting ready for things. We get there, we set up the blind, and then we sit and wait.

I made it clear that there are no guarantees. That we could sit and wait and be bored out of our skulls, and have nothing to bring home. So he was prepared for that. Still, I really wanted to be able to bag a doe, as it was his first time out; it’d just help him see a lot of it all.

Alas, we saw almost nothing. We saw 3 does when we parked the truck, and we saw a very immature buck. That’s all we saw in our hours sitting out there. We even got tired of sitting and went on a stalk hunt for a while. Alas, nothing. It was very quiet.

But in that is where we were able to experience some neat things.

I told him that it is a little boring, but that’s ok. Take in what’s around you. There will be sounds, there will be things to see. Watching the sun come up itself is really cool. You never know what you might experience.

We saw movement behind some trees and thought “maybe a deer?” No… it wound up being a feral (house)cat. It was rather cute, and actually spotted us and stalked us for a while. :-)

We got to see a hawk. Numerous other birds. This one squirrel had no idea about us and was hopping straight at us — that was mighty cute.

But the coolest thing?

We heard a woodpecker. We found him atop a telephone/power pole that was maybe 50-60 yards from us. We thought he was rather large, but didn’t think much of it. We watch him for a long time.

Then he took flight.

GEEZ! He was huge! I mean, for a woodpecker. Imagine a really large crow. He was a big dude! We kept watching him when he landed on another tree, then eventually lost track of him. But it was quite cool. We didn’t realize how cool until we got home.

We determined it was a Pileated Woodpecker.

Here’s a video of one, which is a pretty good shot of what they look AND sound like:

What made this extraordinary is they are an East Texas bird. To find them where we were is a rare occurrence!

Frankly, that made our day! :-)  We’ve spent more time talking and learning about the woodpecker than anything else.

And you see, that’s really what it was all about.

It’s about having time together, building memories, and doing fun things. Heck, the fact we didn’t take a deer? Just means we have to go out again — gee, darn the luck! Which means another opportunity have time together, build more memories, and do more fun things.

So you see, we could focus on what we don’t have – a deer in the freezer. But life is so much better because we focus on what we do have. :-)


About these ads

Do you know what a “Livestock Guardian Dog” is? Let Sasha explain…

My dog, Sasha, is a Kuvasz.

More cute than intimidating (for now…)

The Kuvasz is a breed classified as a Livestock Guardian Dog, or LGD for short.

Often when we discuss this breed or LGDs, people think about herding dogs like Border Collies. No, LGDs aren’t there to herd, they’re there to protect the herd. They aren’t guard dogs either, in the commonly understood sense, like a Doberman, but still they are guards and guardians. They are something unique, but not well-known.

Cody & Liesl Lockhart of the Candll Lamb & Cattle Co. provide a great introduction and understanding of what LGDs are and their role.

Here in Central Texas, I see a lot of farms with a “guard donkey” in the paddock, but not too many with LGDs. I have seen a few, and I think it’s a wise notion because of what a strong pack of “sheepdogs” can bring to the table in terms of keeping your stock safe.

Via the Kuvasz Fanciers FB page, I read a great 3-part series on LGDs by Mother Earth News:

  1. Part 1 – a general introduction to LGD’s
  2. Part 2 – discussion of some of the breeds
  3. Part 3 – more breeds

An important take-home is that all LGDs are not the same. As example, when people ask about Sasha we tell them she’s a Kuvasz. Most people are unfamiliar with the breed, so we explain it as “you know what a Great Pyrenees is? Similar.” We do that because Pyrs are fairly well-known, and they are similar: both big white fuzzy dogs, both LGDs. But once you get to know them, they are different. Pyrs tend to stay more with the flock and focus on the ground. Kuvasz are more perimeter dogs and will watch the sky. We see this constantly with Sasha, ensuring a secure perimeter, and ensuring those birds (especially the big vultures) keep away from the house.

LGDs are serious dogs that require serious commitment on the part of the owner. They must have a job, they must be allowed to do their job. This is not a dog you can keep in a crate or alone in the house/apartment for 8-10 hours a day, then hang out with after work. Many people get an LGD breed not understanding what the breed is, and after they realize the strong commitment and work required, give up the dog (always a sad thing). These dogs are not Labs or Beagles, they aren’t a typical “family dog”. But if you can provide what they need over their entire life, they’ll give you something wonderful in return.

If you know anything about me, you could label me a “sheepdog” (in the Lt. Grossman sense of the word). It stands to reason I’d have a dog that embodies the same qualities.

Time to do my own thing

Today, I step out to be on my own.

I’m leaving the world of W-2 employment to become a full-time independent software developer. I’m making Hsoi Enterprises my full-time gig.

I’m excited, happy, and yes, scared. But very much looking forward to this.

Why am I doing this?

I’ve primarily worked for someone else all my life. But for over 20 years I’ve done side-project work to help scratch my own itches. Four years ago I got more formal with it when I founded Hsoi Enterprises LLC. So I’ve always been semi-indie, and one could say today’s event is just the next step in the evolution. But certainly my primary income came from being a salaried employee in someone else’s company.

There’s multiple reasons why I’m doing this. I’ll share two: one business, one personal.

My Own Road

Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer’s personal itch.
– Eric S. Raymond

I like to create useful, meaningful software that enriches and improves people’s lives. Throughout my career, things I’ve done on my own usually happened because I had an itch to scratch, a need to satisfy. The best software always is the software that the developers themselves use regularly. But often, the direction of a product is pushed by people that don’t use the software, or care more about selling the software than about the use of and users of that software – this often leads to less than good software (and the users are left unsatisfied). Long ago I came to terms about the balance between “good” and “good enough”, the need to ship even if it’s not perfect because we need to make money to keep the lights on in our ivory tower so we can keep working towards “good” (thanx, Doug!). So I grant all the realities of business. But by the same token, I firmly believe if one writes excellent software, it pays off greater dividends in the long run. This is not only in the form of revenue, but also in reputation and goodwill. Conversely, if one keeps shipping shoddy software, if users are constantly frustrated and hate your product, that just isn’t a solid business model.

I’m tired of compromising on this front. I know you can make good products, have happy customers, and still make money. Look at Apple, which is probably why I’ve been an Mac and iOS guy all my life but also why I believe you can have gorgeous, user-satisfying products, good reputation, and succeed. Look at Liberty Bottleworks. Look at EliteFTS. No, you cannot please everyone, nor should you try. But you can ensure you please yourself, that you hold yourself to high standards, and work to build a solid reputation with satisfied customers.

I want to make awesome software. I want to make more useful things. I want to make people’s lives better. And I won’t get to where I want to be unless I travel my own road.

My Family – Along for the Ride

[I] do not believe in quality time but quantity time. I do thinking creating great memories is important but not as much as “being there”. Because of this I work a lot of strange and odd hours.

Dave Tate, owner EliteFTS, talking about his kids and who he is

When I was growing up, my Dad wasn’t around much. It was just due to the nature of his job, and his dedication to it. As a kid, I resented this because while it was nice to have money and nice stuff, what I really wanted was my Dad. So of course I did what all kids do regarding their parental shortcomings: swear to do better when I’m a parent! For me, that meant being around for my kids. (BTW, I got over my resentment many many years ago, because I came to understand Dad much better as I got older… but a story for another time).

Early on in my professional software development career, I saw how this was a job that could be worked remotely. This is not a job that requires being on-site; yes there are benefits to being on-site, but it’s not a hard-and-fast requirement. I also saw how due to this fact, you could have a bit of a non-standard life (I’m looking at you, Robin Mair and Greg Dow). This greatly appealed to me, and I set about making full-time remote/telework a hard-requirement for any job I took in the future.

Due to that dedication and focus, I was able to spend 12 years working full-time out of my house. One way I can sum it up is that when Oldest took his first steps, I learned about it via a phone call from Wife. When Daughter took her first steps, I got a phone call. But when Youngest took his first steps, it was right to me because I was home. :-) Over those 12 years, I got to be deeply involved with my family on a daily, even hourly, basis. That’s precious to me.

People keep bringing up those death-bed regrets, and no one says they wished they worked more, that they wished they had less time with their family.

See, much of life tends to boil down to two things: time and money. I can always get more money, but I can not get more time. Time is the more precious of the two.

After the 12 years at home, I took a job in an office. I spent 2 years there. It was an educational experience in many regards, and I’m happy I went back for the experience because I learned much from the good and from the bad. But the biggest thing I took from it was that that was not the life for me. The precious time wasted being stuck in traffic every day. The orchestration of life around a time-clock and someone else’s notion of what “productive” meant. It just wasn’t working for me. This isn’t a slight against any employer in specific, it’s regarding that sort of life in general. It is not for me and does not enable me to best satisfy myself and provide for my family that which is most important — me.

Working at home gives me the ability to be around my family all day every day (helped in part because we homeschool). Yes, some people think, as a result of our work/school situation, we live an insular lifestyle. No, we just are a tight family. This work setup, the ability to have a more flexible work schedule, allows me to provide my children what I believe is right and best for them, including mentorship as they embark on their own business ventures. What’s funny to me is I’ve thought about having daily “stand-up meetings” with the family. Yes Dad, your daily asking of “Son, what did you do today that was productive?” has come full circle. :-)

Yes I know. The life I’m leaving is the life many of us live with. Understand this is a personal preference for the road I wish to journey down. I have friends who prefer working in an office; it’s just not my preference. I have friends that consider commuting to be a useful endeavor; I don’t. I know what my priorities are in life, what I want out of the life I have left on this Earth, including what I wish to provide for my family, and well… tho I’m scared and have no idea how this will work out, I’m closing my eyes and taking the plunge.

What’s Ahead

For the immediate future, it’s about getting established. I have infrastructure to firm up.

I already have some projects to work on, and I actually will  be contracting back with my (now) former day-job for a time and helping them find a replacement for me and transition to that replacement person. For the record, I am thankful for the support and mentorship I’ve received from Lee and Carrie Little, founders and owners of Bar-Z Adventures.

If you or someone (some company) you know is looking for a solid software developer, drop me a line. :-)

Meantime, I forge ahead. I don’t know how this will work out, and honestly while there’s much about this situation that I’ve done before, there’s much that’s new and novel — I don’t know how it will go, or even if it will wind up being the right road for me to travel. But still, I look forward to the challenges, to the new experiences, and the hope for the life I wish for myself and my family. If nothing else, it’ll be an interesting experience, and I’m thankful for the opportunity.

My Great-Grandfather

I never knew my great-grandfather, John M. Daub — simple matter of time and age differences. But I do recall as a young boy reading my baby book and seeing the family tree, and of course seeing “John M. Daub” stood out to me due to the name similarity (different middle names). I was always curious about him.

When I asked, Dad told me what he could. A little while ago a distant family relative was in Plymouth, Nebraska and took the following pictures at the community center.

Learned something new about my great-grandfather.

Here’s a close-up of the text on the left:

Quite a businessman! Quite handy too.

Here’s a close-up of the right:

I love it. He made gas pumps. Electrician. Made batteries. Opened a grocery store and meat market. Prided himself in a job well done and ensuring customer satisfaction. Which… was stuff he handed down to his son, and to his son, and then to me. And hopefully I’m doing the same for my sons.

This is neat for me on so many levels. :-)

Great-grandpa? I never met you, but somehow I guess I’ve always known you.




How’s it going, Amazon?

About a month ago we said goodbye to Sprouts and hello to Amazon. I’ve been an Amazon customer for many years, but the change was starting to use Prime.

So, how’s it going?

Quite well, actually.

There’s no question, we buy more from Amazon than before. I mean, shipping cost (both money and time) is no longer an issue. I feel no reserves when it comes to ordering something — just click click click and done. Of course, this is precisely what Amazon wants. So, mission accomplished.

However, it’s not without a few gripes.

A key selling point of Prime is 2-day shipping. We don’t always get that. Now, I’m going to cut some slack here because I’m not sure where fault lies. There’s been all sorts of bad weather across the US this past month, and that’s certainly thrown off the shippers. So I’m willing to bet it’s mostly due to weather and things outside Amazon’s control. But a few things haven’t shipped in a manner such that would lead to two-day shipping. That is within their control. But it goes both ways, because I have gotten some things that shipped a day late, but then shipped in one day, so in the end it worked out to two days. Overall, this is fine, but the key thing is when you start getting enough things that don’t meet the promise, you start to get skeptical (make a promise? keep the promise, y’know?). However, I’ll reserve getting fully irritated because I’m guessing a majority is weather-related. So we’ll see how things fare come summer.

It’s true that Amazon cannot control how poorly UPS handles your boxes. But they should be able to control how well they pack the items in the boxes.

We’ve had more than enough times of receiving damaged goods. One situation had a larger box filled with light bulky items, like cereal boxes, but then also a box of canned goods. And things weren’t tightly packed in the box such that things would avoid shifting. Why would you do that? So all the cereal boxes had burst open, and numerous cans were dented (yes, some along the seals). I’d reckon things would be OK to eat, but how can I be sure? How can I know where the damage occurred? And regardless, I’m not paying for used/damaged goods, I’m paying for new ones. We’ve called, complained, they have taken the complaint. I’m not expecting much to change.

I’ll say this tho. If the merchandise is damaged in the warehouse, it should never ship.

Then, pack things to minimize shipping damage. We expect the shipping box to get banged up, but the box and packing materials are there to be destroyed so that our purchased goods won’t be.

Normally I don’t have this problem with Amazon. It’s groceries that have been the issue.

All in all tho, Wife and I are happy. It’s going to take time before I can assess the financial impact. Right now, it’s costing more, but it’s because we’re buying just about everything in bulk. I would assume, over time, it will save us money because 1. bulk is usually cheaper, 2. there’s less impulse buying.

But we’ll see. Need more time. So far, mostly good.

Improvised Weapons, and kids

Of all the presentations at the 2nd annual SDS Conference, the 3 kiddos were unanimous in what their favorite presentation was.

Leslie Buck‘s presentation on improvised weapons. (yeah, it should have been Dad’s presentation, but I’ll let them slide). ;-)

Not only was it just a fun presentation, with lots of good video. It was something that was really valuable to the kids.

Because I got to thinking.

The purpose of the presentation was primarily for us adults that probably carry a gun normally, but for some reason cannot. So what else could we have at our disposal.

But think about kids.

Kids are vulnerable. They are generally physically smaller, weaker. When it comes to force disparity, usually kids are going to get the short end of the stick. Weapons are tools designed to help us overcome force disparity.

However, look at how our legal structure denies children the ability to use and possess these tools.

Look at how schools and other groups and places kids go will deny them.

If the mantras are “won’t someone think of the children” and “if it saves just one life, then it’s worth it”, then why are we doing things to make our children even more vulnerable?

And while it wasn’t necessarily a new topic to the kids (given their father), sometimes things make more impact when it comes from another teacher (especially one that isn’t Dad), or due to the presentation. From talking with kiddos afterwards, it sounds like Leslie’s presentation made a lot of positive impact on them and really opened up their minds to the possibilities. Even Wife took something from it.

So, when it comes to your kids, think about how they could use improvised weapons to help them defend themselves. Temper it of course (it’s not license to bash the bully upside the head with hammer), but help them realize there are things they can do when the situation arises and they may need it.

Hello Amazon

Saying goodbye to Sprouts is tough. You know the saying, “don’t you what you’ve got, ’til it’s gone”? Well, now that Sprouts is gone, I realize it was a larger part of our groceries than I realized (I knew it was a primary, but it’s even more than I knew). I didn’t realize how many Sprouts-branded things Wife bought. Everywhere I look in the fridge, in the pantry, I see Sprouts, Sprouts, Sprouts.

But in time, our stock will dwindle. And in the meantime, I can hope Sprouts will reconsider their decision, basing upon facts and not emotion.

The hardest part was thinking what to do as an alternative. There’s a lot of things we bought that we can’t find at other stores in town, or to do so would become difficult, with Wife running all over town to collect all the things we use. That’s a big sink of gas money, and most of all… time.

You know the saying about closing a door and opening a window? Well… I think in this case, what was opened was a laptop computer lid. :-)

I’ve shopped at Amazon for many years. I mean, what CAN’T you find there? Very few things. And Amazon works at expanding its offerings all the time.

I’ve never bought Amazon Prime tho, because I never felt like I ordered enough in a year to have Prime offset the shipping costs. I mean, most things I order from Amazon I can wait a week or two for, so I’ll always pick the cheapest slowest option, which often yielded free shipping anyways. So it was just difficult to justify Prime. And things like Kindle and movies? Meh.

But I thought about it. Yeah, what can’t you get? Often the prices are competitive or better. So Wife and I sat and searched Amazon for many of the foodstuffs and other products we bought at Sprouts. And gee if we couldn’t find most everything there. In fact, there’s probably a lot of non-Sprouts things too that we could get. I tried to convince Wife to consider Amazon for things like toilet paper, paper towels, etc. (things you know you’ll use and use a lot of, eventually in time), but the idea never really took off with either of us because again, shipping.

But now? Well, we’ve been pushed to try it. :-)

I signed up for Amazon Prime. When it comes to things like groceries yeah, I’d rather have it in 2 days than 2 weeks. If I can get 2-day shipping “for free”, and we can buy a huge bulk of stuff via Amazon (regardless of container size and weight), well gee… I suspect we could do alright with this. That local grocery shopping could be reduced to things like fruit, eggs, milk, etc.. I mean, we get our veggies delivered once a week….

The biggest win that Wife sees? Time. It’s a big time sink to do all that grocery shopping. But now? She can shop and build her cart in her own time. While she’s homeschooling the kids, they’re doing some work and she can search and click to get shopping done. Kids need attention? she can stop, tend to them, then resume shopping as time permits. She can shop at 5 AM before the kids get up, or whatever. There’s more flexibility, there’s better use of time.

I also think it could be a win because impulse buying might be curbed.

So… this will be an experiment. We haven’t bought anything yet and I don’t know how it will go. But, this should be fun to explore.