Category: personal (page 1 of 2)

A Happy Ending/Beginning

appletv4

This brief story started on September 7, 2015 when the good (did I say good, I mean great!) folks at the University of Mary Washington gave me a going away party at one of DTLT’s favorite hangouts – Hard Times Cafe (I always have the Alamo Chicken – highly recommended). The present that they gave me was enough money on gift cards to get the new Apple TV when it came out. Well, today was finally that day when that gift was obtained.

One cool thing is that Jacksonville has its own Apple Store. It’s about 4 miles from the University of North Florida where I work.

JAX Apple Store

So my lunch hour was a quick trip to the store to pick up the new Apple TV 4th Generation that I ordered online in the morning. As it turns out it was the quickest method to get it, as opposed to pre-ordering online and having it delivered.

There were several people who, like me, ordered online to pick up at the store. As you might know, the Apple Store is a bit different from other stores in that you are greeted at the door for triage. I’m not sure the system is any better, but it is different. I gave them my name and eventually they came back with an all black box (with another all black box inside it). I signed the iPhone device that the gentleman handed me to verify my pick-up and that was it. Tonight, I will bring to home and begin to play with it.

So it’s kind of bittersweet because the Apple TV will remind of the great people at my former workplace, whom I miss, but now I get to talk to my remote and have my TV do my bidding – “Siri, show me all of the films directed by Stanley Kubrick.”

So thank you to all those who made this day possible – Jim, Tim, Martha, Jerry, Shannon, Jeff, Mark, Steve, Leah, Debra, Cartland, Jess, John, and Betsy (and Lisa and Mary who couldn’t be there). Thank you all of UMW!

Mom

On Tuesday, April 16, 2013, my Mom passed away after years of battling the affects of Alzheimer’s. The following is the eulogy I delivered at the service on April 20, in the church I grew up in – the Jamesville Community Church (formerly Jamesville Federated Church)

Service
Everybody smile

This is a day to remember my Mom. However, there is no remembering Mom without the memory of my Dad.

As many of you know, My Dad died back in 2002. Now, my Mom has passed in 2013 amidst the chaos of a terrorist bombing and the manhunt for suspects. I tell you this only because of its eery similarity to 2002 when the East Coast sniper was waging his reign of terror as close as our local mall in Spotsylvania – while my wife Michelle was pregnant with my son Aidan. Both of whom thankfully are here with me and sitting in this church today.

You also know my Dad was a minister. His ministry was the word of God and the love of his son. My Mother was an educator, she wasn’t a teacher in a school per se, at least not until later in life, but she was MY first teacher. My Dad was slightly hands-off when it came to raising me. As I got older he related to me more and more. Some Dads are like that. As I grew older, I began to appreciate his education. Dad AND Mom always SHARED in the serving of any given parish. I work at a higher educational institution because of my Mom and Dad. I like to think my ministry is education.

Mom was always great with her memories. Well up until recently….

At my hotel, my towel smelled like gerbils. Let me let that sink in for a moment. A towel brought me back to the slightly used bedding that my gerbils, Lewey and Dewey, had in their massive tower cage when we lived on Comstock Ave – Well over 30 years ago. Smell is a powerful memory trigger as you may know. Another interesting bit of trivia – My Mom had virtually no sense of smell.

The most important thing that my Mom was is the family historian. First of all, my Mom had pictures. Photos in albums with brief descriptions. I loved looking at these photos. I Imagined the places that my parents went to before I was born, and what my family was like once my brother and sister came along. The stories of what came before me were powerful.

And so today I write on this thing called a blog. And encourage others to do so. Students mostly. I’m hoping one day soon that we will ditch the term blogger and use that word no more than we would if we would say that a person is an Emailer. I blog because it allows me to reflect and to hopefully, ultimately help people. Yeah, it’s like a diary. Like my Mom had. The difference is it that it’s a little bit more out in the open. I believe in finding the outlets of these triggers of our memories. They’re called stories. Human tell stories.

My blog has a name. The story of the name of my blog came from my Mom. She never really knew that.

How many of you know the comic Family Circus – Raise your hand?

How many of you know the hymn “In The Garden”?

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;

In the house where my Mom lived in Jamesville, she had a framed Family Circus cartoon of one the children – I think it was Dolly – singing the mis-heard lyrics “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me.” Pretty powerful to see this every time I visit. Humor is also a very important part of my upbringing.

So the name of my blog comes thanks to my Mom. And He Blogs

So I will blog about this – I mean Write about this on my site, and I will include the picture that I just took. Because more than anything my Mom created in me a documentarian. And documenting life helps me keep hold of memories better and longer.

For my Mom, her memories left her many years ago, but she documented so well that we have a treasure trove of words and pictures.

Cherish your memories. But preserve them too.

Thank you all for being a part of this memory. I cherish you all.

Marion Baker Rush - March 22, 1930 - April 16, 2013

Marion Baker Rush – March 22, 1930 – April 16, 2013

Master of My Domain

andyrush.com godaddy parked page

It looks like 2013 will be the “Year of the Domain”. Most of the conversations in the DTLT office seem to have the word domain in them. Domain of One’s Own, “what’s your domain?”, “that’s a subdomain not a subfolder”. My 2013 started out innocently thinking about my domains and specifically my online identity. It also put me in nostalgia mode as I recalled the history of my domain ownership. It began even before the Bluehost Experiment. It was not too long after I moved to Fredericksburg that I decided to start a “Cycling Education Web Site”. It was 2001, and it was called velodynamics.com. It was my first real foray into domains and web spaces besides the university “tilde” sites, and the Geocities and Tripod stuff. I owned Velodynamics for two years. It was good experience and it allowed me to work on my Dreamweaver skills (version 4 and MX). I was very proud of it. Proud of the name, proud of my logo, and even proud that I contacted a cycling photographer in Belgium named Cor Vos to ask permission to use one of his photos as part of the website design.

I let velodynamics.com lapse in 2003. There was no way I could keep up with a such website in addition to a regular job, and more importantly, with a six-month-old boy running around the house.

Also in 2003, a mild-mannered English professor named Gardner Campbell became the Assistant Vice President for Teaching and Learning Technologies. In 2004, Gardner talked to us in DTLT (this is pre-Jim Groom era) about blogging and experimenting in spaces on the web that we could control. My first blog was not WordPress, but using something called B2Evolution. Our web host starting out was a service called “Bloghost” and my first personal domain was awrush.com. When Bloghost declared bankruptcy (and subsequently I lost my domain), we switched to Bluehost. I had another shot at picking a domain, and while andyrush.com was not available, andyrush.net was.

So back to the start of 2013. I returned to UMW from a much-needed holiday break on January 7th. As the DTLT conversations returned inevitably to the Domain of One’s Own project, I had the thought to once again check on the status of andyrush.com. To my amazement it was listed as “expired 12/29/12”. I immediately went through the process to grab it as quickly as I could. Well, not so fast I found out. There would be stages that I would have to go through if I was to have this domain. I read a few articles, but especially this one called How to Snatch an Expiring Domain. As the author states there is a 40 day process that you need to wait out, and while I thought about using a “domain snatching firm”, I ultimately just signed up for Godaddy’s backorder service (because they owned the domain) for about $20.

domain public backorder

The first email that I received after the backorder process started was this one on January 23:

andyrush.com at auction

On February 2 I got the notification of the winning auction bid:

Domain Auction Winning Bid

Today, February 10, 2013, the process is complete:

andyrush.com complete email

So the next step was to go to my web host (MediaTemple) and add the domain to my account (as you can see, I’ve done this before).

andyrush.com to andyrush.net

Following that I went to Godaddy to change the name servers to point to MediaTemple.

And now . . . andyrush.com. So it’s just a redirect right now, but it’s mine. The treasured “dot com” vanity address. I just keep staring at it. Like it’s a new-born. It doesn’t really do much yet, but there’s so much potential.

Crazy About Baseball

When I was a kid, I was crazy about baseball. From conception I was a Yankee fan (I’ll wait for the boos to die down…) – I grew up during the second longest drought of World Series titles for the Bronx bombers (60’s to late 70’s), but unlike other sports, I remained a true Yankee fan. It was reinforced growing up in Central New York State because Syracuse was the AAA farm club of the Yankees and every year there would be the traditional Yankees/Chiefs game. During one of those games I got to see one of my heroes of the day, Roy White. Southeast of Syracuse in a little town called Oneonta, there was the Single A ball club known as the Oneonta Yankees. Since the late ’60s players came up through the NY-Penn league team. The likes of Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada all played at one time in Oneonta. Even John Elway played some of his baseball career there.

As for baseball, it was what I dreamed of doing up until my high school days. I played little league all the way up until I was 14 when I moved back to the city of Syracuse. I was good enough to move forward with my dream, but the city summer baseball leagues were quite intimidating. Our family had moved in the middle of the summer so I didn’t get to play that first year. Someone suggested that in the fall I should keep in shape by doing cross-country running. I enjoyed that so much at the time that I never looked back.

I still loved baseball though. I had a longtime friend (another Yankee fan) who moved to Syracuse and he lived just down the street from me. There was a cemetery across the street that had an open space to play “home run derby” ( we also had permission from the cemetery caretaker). So running and then cycling took up my time, but some of my passion remained with that great summer pastime.

Fast forward to today where baseball is not so much a sport that warrants a passionate following, but a business with a stock ticker that you watch as it goes up and down. However, there is a way to reignite that passion, and I discovered it in the Leatherstocking region of New York. Cooperstown, NY in the summertime is a place for baseball nuts. My wife, my son, and I decided we should see a baseball game when we went to Oneonta, NY for a visit. A scheduling error (on my part) meant that in order to see a game, and not disappoint my son, we would need to travel about 45 minutes north and see the Oneonta Outlaws play the Cooperstown Hawkeyes.

Oneonta batter-up

It was a perfect summer day/evening for a game. I gave the option to my wife to watch a couple of innings and then go antiquing. I also worried about my son’s attention span. Both wound up watching all nine innings of the Collegiate Baseball (NYCBL) league game. It didn’t turn out so well for the Outlaws, but one of the Hawkeyes players wound up giving my son a bat. It was like the Mean Joe Green Jersey scene, minus the hurt player and the Coke.

There’s a palpable Woodstock/Mecca feeling about baseball when you’re in Cooperstown. You hear numerous accents as you walk around the village streets. I even had one gentleman who asked me in a bit of broken English where the Cooperstown Dreams Fields were. I gave him directions (feeling a bit like a native) and wondered where exactly he was from and how he developed his love for the sport.

It’s in these minor league and developmental systems where you can see the passion for the game. There’s the inevitable cockiness in some of the players, but then there’s the generosity and humility too. Top it off with some hot dogs, popcorn, and some sodas and you’ve got a memorable day. A last stop at the souvenir shop to get a Tucson Sidewinders cap (because we like the colors) and we’re off.

Inside the souvenir shop

Where my life took a turn

Old Spanish Tavern

You don’t always think of visiting your family as a vacation, but I recently visited my brother and sister in Syracuse, which most of you know is the town I grew up in. My sister had a retirement party and we were escaping the first round of heat in the 2012 Virginia summer and experiencing somewhat cooler temperatures. We then celebrated my brother’s and nephew’s birthdays (they were both born on July 4th) by, among other things, playing some miniature golf. It was at a “course” that I remember fondly as a child in a place called Fairmount, NY.

So much of my memories and my life experiences took place in Central New York. So I enjoyed a “vacation” by visiting some places from my memories. Maybe not quite so enjoyable for my wife since they’re not her memories, but she did enjoy, and competed quite hard in, that round of mini-golf. However, you’ll soon see where she fits into this story.

After the visit with our family, we decided to drive to a place farther downstate. Oneonta, NY. It was where I moved to after working in Cortland, NY for a few years. In Cortland I was an alum who went back and worked at the State College there. While working at SUNY Cortland, I met a guy named Jim Greenberg. I don’t know what his title was then, probably Director of Academic Computing or something similar. He visited our campus and did a presentation of this new thing called the Internet and World Wide Web. I remember it vividly because he set my mind on fire with its possibilities. Little did I know at the time, I would be working with him at SUNY Oneonta.

So after working briefly for a private company in Cortland, I found I missed working at a higher education institution. I was excited to find an opportunity at Oneonta working with . . . Jim Greenberg. It was a chance to work with and develop resources for this World Wide Web thing that was quickly growing in popularity. I got to be a little like Jim and get people to imagine the possibilities of instantly accessing great gobs of information, instantly. It’s at Oneonta that I first started working with digital video, and ultimately, web video. It was the first job where I was encouraged to PLAY. All I had to do was regularly tell people what I was playing with. One of the things I was playing with was this “language” called HTML and showing people how to create web pages and explaining how people all over the world could see what you created. It was a great job. I had great colleagues and there was just one piece missing in my life.

That brings us to the picture at the top of this post. The Old Spanish Tavern. The Oh-Ess-Tee. 195 Main St. Oneonta. A non-descript bar that people do have great affection for. The fact that it’s still there after the almost 15 years that I had last been in it I guess says something. However, as you might guess, it has GREAT meaning for me. On October 17 it will be exactly 15 years ago when I quite literally bumped into my wife. It was also quite literally where my life changed. This girl that I met was up for an Alumni weekend, and I was out giving a send-off for another co-worker, leaving Oneonta for another job opportunity. A description that would be identical to my life 10 months later.

Teaching jobs were hard to come by in New York State, and even harder to come by on Long Island where my wife was from. Technology support jobs in higher education were more plentiful. New York was also – cold. So after my wife was recruited by a Virginia school district (Stafford County), it was up to me to find a place near her to work. The job I found was at Mary Washington College, almost literally a George Washington coin toss from Ferry Farm elementary school, where my wife got her job. The description was perfect – support faculty’s technology needs in a new science building on campus. My education background was in early secondary science. I also got “one of those feelings” when I first walked on the beautiful campus. I generally don’t believe in that stuff.

I will have been married for 13 years as of July 30, 2012, and worked at MWC/UMW for 14 years as of August 10, 2012. The Old Spanish Tavern is where I can point to where my life changed, and it was less of a fork, and more of a new path. One that has led me to have my own family with a son I am proud of every day, and colleagues that I am truly fond of. The OST is a geographic location that I will always look at with great fondness and the most pleasant of memories.

As an epilogue to this story, I got a chance to meet up with Jim Greenberg on the Oneonta campus and we had a great time recalling, and reminiscing, and generally catching up. He’s one of those colleagues who shares a vision for higher education that is in line with my own, and continues to fight to make it better. Here’s to you as well, Jim.

Breaking Wind


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by tedreese

A little over 5 years ago I wrote two posts titled “Winds of change” (I and II). The first post highlighted a video from Kodak titled “Winds of Change“. The video has since been removed by the user who posted it, so I’m republishing it below because it was terrific then and it still is terrific. And now at the same time tragic as well. Kodak declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. They exuded confidence 5 years ago that they were going to conquer this digital thing. Heck, they invented the first digital camera! But, obviously they didn’t conquer it – at least not in their current form. Kodak is one of the true icons of American culture. Kodachrome is lauded in song, and phrases like “Kodak picture” and “Kodak moment” are still used today. Even though when those phrases were coined it referred to film.

The second “Winds of Change” post was about Windows Vista, which I still argue was better than its predecessor Windows XP. But I wouldn’t ask my worst enemy to use it now. However, Microsoft is in a go-either-way position right now. Many are starting to write them off as has-beens. Others are saying just wait, it’s Microsoft’s year. Microsoft can keep trudging along for years before they are in Kodak’s position, but they do need to start innovating again.

The point of this post was originally to just get you to watch the Kodak video again. But it’s also a helpful reminder of many things. First, things change. Constantly. No revelation here. How we manage the change will determine our success. I’m managing some change in my life right now. Some days are better than others. I’m also embarking on some new ventures soon. Some that I hope to write about soon. It involves writing, blogging, and posting more content. About stuff that I enjoy. I hope that it spills over into writing more on this site (or at least cross-posting). That would be a change for the better. This first post of the new year is me managing change – better late than never.

Climbing with technology

For the past several years I have had a couple of what I like to call “marker” bike rides. They are rides to let me know that I’m progressing adequately in my training. The Virginia MS Ride is one I’ve been doing for 12 years now. It is a ride that involves riding a long distance (75 miles each day), and it includes some hill climbing. No major elevations, but enough to challenge the legs. So my marker rides are a long day in the saddle, and a hill climb.

Today, I did the hill climb. Virginia has the great benefit of having some beautiful mountains in the western part of the state, and beaches in the east. The Blue Ridge Mountains happen to be just over an hour from my home, so I start from a base there and head almost immediately uphill.

This year I brought along some technology with me – my iPhone. Alright, I usually bring my iPhone, but a service called Strava allows me to use the iPhone’s built-in GPS to track my ride and plot my course, as well as my changes in elevation. The result is the page with the map you see above.

I am using the free version (5 rides a month) to get an idea of how the service works. It’s $6 per month to have unlimited rides. I like getting details on rides like the climb to Skyline Drive, but I don’t personally need details on every ride. For me it’s just fascinating to see the data on those special rides, and seeing how hard I did ( or didn’t ) work.

MS Ride – 2010

Last year about this time, and certainly during last year’s MS Ride in June, I was convinced that I would take a year off. I had done the ride for ten years in a row. I had my share of bad breaks with two flats the first day and an eye infection that left me wearing my normal glasses on the second day. Let me tell you, the main reason I got contact lenses 25 years ago was that wearing glasses during a hot summer’s day bike ride is a pain. The photo that you see associated with this post is of me at the finish of the 2009 ride. I have a big smile on my face because I’m done. I also had my wife and son greeting me at the finish line.

This was also the time when we were dealing with a flooded basement in our relatively new home. Lots of obstacles seemed to be getting in the way of me training, and therefore, enjoying my rides. I felt slightly less prepared for the ride than usual. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t the first rider in Williamsburg. Well, despite all of what happened last year, I will be riding the 2010 edition of the MS Ride. The reason that I will is that it has become a habit. It’s something that I can still do. The obstacles that got in my way last year are nothing compared to the obstacle that is MS. All of the stuff that got in my way were mere inconveniences. What I enjoy is the challenge every year. Sure each year I ride, I will get progressively slower, and there will always be younger riders that will ride ever faster. The more I do the ride, it’s more about being reminded of the struggle, and how minor it is in comparison to people with MS. I ride for Bruce Lowery, husband of Pam Lowery, whom I work with at the University of Mary Washington. Pam has shared with me that Bruce’s struggle has stabilized somewhat, but life is still a quite a bit of a struggle living with MS.

I hope that you can support my ride this year. Encourage me to suffer for two days and 150 miles, if only to remind me that my life is pretty good.

Visit my Personal Page and donate what you can. Thank you.

Andy

Blur Reunion!

blur_reunite

This is just extra special news for me personally. I’ve known about the possibility of this reunion for a few weeks now, but seeing others in my Twitter network tweet about it makes it very much more real. Blur, one of my recently discovered favorite bands, are getting back together and doing at least one summer ‘09 concert. I’ve especially been on a Damon Albarn kick for the last year and a half, having seen his Monkey: Journey to the West opera in Charleston S.C. this past June (more on that in a future post). This is some damn fine news!

A solitary bird house on the edge of the woods

Bird House

For the last several weeks, I’ve been trying to make a dream, reality. I had been seeing this bird house in my dreams, and as of October 30, 2008, I now have it behind my new home in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. So now that it is over (well, almost – as of this writing we still have a small truckload of stuff to move yet) I can apologize to my DTLT colleagues for being such a basket case the last few weeks. Alright, more of a basket case than usual. I made the classic mistake of falling in love with a house that I wanted to buy. I was also bucking the trend in these poor economic times of going forward with this major purchase. However, along the way I learned more about my determination and more importantly about my friends and family, to make this one of the most valuable processes I’ve ever gone through. This post is to remind me for the future, when I re-read it a year from now, or 5, 10, or 20 years from now, the value we put on things versus the value we put on people.

Now as for a bird, I don’t know how much thought is put into whether a given bird house is in a good neighborhood or not. I don’t know whether the contemporary design will lead to higher resale, or how the previous owners kept the place, but the one pictured above looks like a pretty nice unit. I wonder also if a bird flying in from high in the sky sees this house and wonders whether it’s still on the market. Do they get disappointed if it’s not available? If it is occupied, do they rationalize that “I guess it was not meant to be”?

This was a refrain that I heard from my wife numerous times as we went through the hurdles of buying a “short sale”, which previously I thought meant that the process of buying the house somehow is an abbreviated/quicker version of a regular sale. Boy, was I wrong! A short sale is one that “shorts” the bank who has the mortgage and they agree to sell it instead of foreclosing. The owners of these homes owe a considerable amount of money, so many times these homes are great bargains for the future buyers. We knew the house that existed in front of that bird house was a bargain – but was it meant to be OUR home? When things looked like we weren’t going to get this house, my wife said, “well, maybe it isn’t meant to be.” I said bullshit! (thankfully, I’m able to express myself this way to my wife, and she can be heard to express herself this way to me).

I have the answer to the question for everything as to whether something is meant to be or not. Whatever happens, is what happened. Period. Meant to be? Stop it. There is no plan and the sooner we realize this, the better off we will be. The fact that there is no plan is what’s great about life. If I had listened to my wife about maybe it wasn’t meant to be, then it wouldn’t have been. I would have given up. Now, some amazing things did happen to get this sale done. The title company said that it was the shortest (or at least one of the shortest) amount of time that they ever finished a closing. My real estate agent wanted this to happen as though we were her children. Let me also declare my unpaid endorsement of Virginia Credit Union for all your banking and mortgage needs! People made this happen because lots of hard-working people wanted it to happen. Other things, and people, were merely obstacles to be overcome. Many of the obstacles we encountered had many options for ways to deal with them. We got creative and I/we did our research to maximize our options.

Now, I have to question why I wanted it to happen. It’s a nice house to be sure, but is it better than our old one? There are many memories that we experienced in our old home, not the least of which is that it’s the only house my son has ever known. A few times I got emotional about leaving it. However, something in my wife and me said it was time to go. OK, so I wanted a place to build a new home theater. I wanted a bigger, flatter yard with less trees. I wanted a gas fireplace in the family room and a bigger, more up to date kitchen for my wife (she’s the better cook in the family, just so we’re clear – it’s not because I expect her to be in the kitchen). Of greater importance, though, were things I wanted for my son. A flat place to learn to ride his bike, and more kids his age to play with. I also wanted sidewalks for him and me to walk on, as well as woods (behind the bird house) we could explore together. And maybe, just maybe, there is one more little Rush to come into our family in the near future.

So there. It’s out of my system. I (and others) made it happen. I will invite the many people who were working for us, and cheering us on, over for a big celebration. Time to get to back to work.

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