Sleep. Now. *

At about 1:30 in the morning, I was still awake.   At around 1:30 in the morning, I’m almost  always awake.   I track my sleep with the Fitbit on  my wrist-  it’s not a perfect tracker, but it does a pretty good job of noting when I stop tossing and turning.   My regular sleep patterns look a great deal like this one, except Monday was extra horrific because of Daylight Saving Time.  The blue lines indicate restlessness (tossing and turning) and the red line indicates I was completely awake.  If it’s a work day, odds are pretty good that my sleep didn’t break much more than six hours.

I have good intentions, I really do-  I generally brush my teeth and get into bed before midnight.    There’s always a lot of tossing and turning, though.  Sometimes I just can’t get comfortable.  Sometimes I can’t get my brain to shut off.  Once in a while, I use an over the counter sleepytime pill (diphenhydramine, usually) to help out- that’s why there’s a big swath on Monday with no indications of restlessness.  The image to the right is a pretty normal night.   I don’t know if it’s the bed, or the extra electronic light in the room where I sleep, or the temperature, or all the things that are chasing my attention, or some combination of the above, but the lack of good sleep is starting to grind me to a pulp.

I started this post at about 1:30 AM last night, intending to say a whole lot of other stuff about how much it sucks to not be able to sleep.   Since I started thinking about the blog post, I continued to be wide awake until about 3 AM.  Then I conked out until work called me at 5:45am with an emergency.  I made the mistake of caffeinating myself in order to solve a technical problem, and was able to go back to sleep for another hour after.  My total sleep for last night: 3 hours and 39 minutes.

Being on call for work is a temporary condition, and they very rarely need to wake me up from a sound sleep.  The rest of the scenario from last night is all too common, though.  I’m partway through my relocation to Orlando, and my to-do lists have their own to-do lists.  I need to find a better way to shut my  mind off so that my body will actually go to sleep.

* – “Sleep. Now.” is a line from Dark City, and also the title of one of my favorite songs from the soundtrack. It’s a pretty groovy little tune. You should check it out.

What do you do when you can’t fall asleep?

Whasaaaaaaaap?

I apologize for using a seventeen year old commercial as my subject line, but it’s kind of appropriate.  It feels like it’s been at least that long since I really posted anything, not counting that one post with the yummy cinnamon rolls.

I’ve tried to come back to the blog numerous times, but each time I do, that blank post box just stares accusingly at me, asking why I haven’t fed it.  The further you go between posts, the more difficult it is to wrench yourself back to regular blogging.

So getting back to where I’ve been and what’s been going on since my last truly informative post, let’s start with the stuff that’s not changed:  My relationship with Amelie is still great, and we have loads of fun together.  My family is all pretty much the same as they were before.  My dad is doing a little bit better, actually-  he was diagnosed with some form of Parkinsons and the medication they gave him specific to that has helped his mobility quite a bit.

For the changing things, though-  my apartment lease ended on December 9th, and I moved into my brother’s spare room as a transitional thing.  I’m still there.  My job ended on December 15th, and the following Monday I took a six month contract doing pretty much exactly the same thing I had been doing previously.  The difference is that now I’m working from home instead of an office, except for that one time that Dave and I tried a Regus co-working space.  That was kind of neat, actually, and maybe I should have used that experience as a blog post.

Although my departure from Mr. Company was in December, it’s not until the first of April that the company that hired me in 2002 is really and truly dead.  The last few people left at the office have their last day at the end of this month, and there’s going to be a final happy hour near the old office-  I plan on going, but I suspect it will be a fairly somber outing for a happy hour.    The death of my fourteen year career with my former Mr. Company might be an entire separate blog post in the future, because there’s a lot to unpack there.   I’m still waiting for the actual realization that it’s truly over.   I suspect I’m in some form of denial because I’m still doing more or less the same work, at least until the end of the contract.

The biggest thing happening in my life at the moment is that I’m relocating.  You may have noticed that most of the concert dates in the sidebar of this blog have started to be located in Central Florida.  That’s because Orlando is where I’m heading.   I’ve already moved everything that was in my storage unit here up to Orlando, during a surprisingly fun day with Amelie, a fifteen-foot U-haul truck, and the assistance of several friends and family members.   Most amusingly, my Orlando digs turned out to be on the same street as my friend and fellow blogger Jenn.  The universe is full of very silly coincidences.

I’ll be spending time flipping between Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale throughout April and into May.  My Orlando residential address is a temporary situation- once I’m up there full time, I’ll be looking for a new place of my own.  There’s all kinds of great little apartments for rent near Lake Eola and downtown, and the rental rates are way lower than they are in South Florida.

As for the jobbyness,  Amelie and I are both hunting for new gigs in Orange County as my contract starts to wrap up.  Looking for something new before the month of April is sort of pointless for me, because the contract doesn’t end until May 30th.  Amelie could start something new much faster than me, but it would be pretty convenient if we’re starting new things at roughly the same time. In the interim, I’m trying to learn some new things and perhaps get a certification or two to make myself more appealing to employers.

So that’s what I’ve been up to…  how about you?  Whasaaaaaaaap?

Knaus Berry Farm (or we waited almost an hour to have a snack and it was totally worth it)

Look, I know it’s been two months since my last post and you’re probably wondering where I went and what the heck happened.  I’ll get to that, I promise.  That’s not what this post is about, though.

This post is about dessert.  Sort of.

Last weekend, Amelie and I took a drive down to Homestead, Florida, into the Redlands Agricultural District.  For those who’ve never been to South Florida, Homestead is one of the southernmost cities in the state, just north of where the Florida Turnpike and US-1 meet.  Redlands is about 20 miles south-west of downtown Miami.  If you keep going south from there, you pretty much wind up in either the Florida Keys or the Everglades.

Inside of Redlands is a place called Knaus Berry Farm.   They’re a seasonal bakery that has been run by the Knaus family since 1956.  They also have you-pick-em strawberry and tomato fields, depending on availability.  Amelie has been raving to me about this place for more than a year, but we missed their open season last year and I had to put a reminder on my calendar to check in when they opened again in November.

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Knaus Berry Farm has a dedicated following, and the line on a weekend to get to the bakery counter is often 45 minutes to an hour.   This wasn’t even all that busy, from what I understand.

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The bakery counter has various fresh basked goods, which I’ll get to.  If I had more stomachs, I would have wanted to try one of everything.

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The bakery counter is a cash-only operation, so the line actually moves reasonably quickly.

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There are separate lines for produce and for milkshakes.  The produce counter only had one person step up while we were inside.  The produce looked amazing, but we were there for the baked goods.

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This is what we went out for:  the cinnamon buns.  Fresh out of the oven, they were so, so good.  They’re also dense!  Just one of these is actually crazy filling.  Once we made it to the bakery line,  we just sat in the grass, in a patch of shade near the main building to eat one of these each.

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Since I had a family thing the next day, I also took one of their Black-Bottom Cakes.  I’d never had this type of cake before, and it was damn tasty.  I know it may be blasphemy for me to say this, but I liked this cake more than chocolate chip cookies.

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If you want to visit Knaus Berry Farm, I will offer some quick tips:

  1. Use the bathroom before you go.  There’s no restroom on site.   We were in line already, and had to duck out to go three miles away to a fast food restaurant on US-1.  Then we started the line over.
  2. Bring cash.  They don’t accept plastic here, and you’re gonna want to get more than one thing.  The prices are reasonable, but you don’t want to go all the way there and not be able to buy these delicious baked goods!
  3. Check the weather, and bring sunblock.  The line for the bakery is not covered.   The only time you’re really indoors here is at the bakery and produce counters-  the rest is basically outdoors.  Standing in the South Florida sun for even forty minutes will give most people a bit of a burn.  I’ve lived here almost all of my life, and I wore the same hat I wore to the Great Pyramid, and even I got a little pink in places.
  4. Come hungry.  Seriously, if you eat a big meal before you drive out, then you’re missing out on the joy that is these gooey wonderful cinnamon buns fresh out of the oven.

Knaus Berry Farm is open November through mid-April each year, at this location: 15980 SW 248 Street
Homestead, FL 33031
305.247.0668

You can see more reviews and photos here.

Have you ever been to Knaus Berry Farm?

So this is what having free time is like.

I meant to keep writing on a more regular basis, but the first half of December has been absolutely ridiculous.  I moved out of my apartment with Amelie’s help, and Thursday was the final day at Mr. Company, after more than fourteen years.  I’ve been keeping busy since Thursday afternoon, so I don’t have a lot of emotions to process yet.  I suspect it will hit me later.  Like any long relationship that comes to an end, there will be a grieving process.

It’s difficult to really frame fourteen and a half years in your mind.  We’re used to shorter hops in time-  what happened in the last week? What happened in the last year?

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My ID badge. July, 2002

When I started working for this company, I was in my late 20s.  It was the summer of 2002, and my ID badge photo was taken on July 1st.  I worked for Mr. Company at first in technical support.  I moved from a tier one job to tier 2, then tier 3, and within four years I was a supervisor.  I wrote reviews, did hiring interviews, the whole lot.

During that time, I worked with dozens of people who have passed in and out of my life over a span of years- the tech scene in this part of Florida is not so large that you don’t run into each other from time to time.  I made friendships at Mr. Company that will be with me for the rest of my life.

I didn’t really like being a management type, though.  The job wasn’t technical, favoring delegation of tech work instead.  I much prefer to be responsible for only my own work, and I missed getting into the technical work.

In 2007, I moved over to operations and became a UNIX administrator.  Right away, I was given the chance to travel to Dulles, Virginia to do a bunch of work in the data center.  The next year, I went to Hong Kong for two weeks to work with a team of colleagues on a big server installation.   Hong Kong was my first-ever trans-Atlantic hop.  My only international trips before that were the Bahamas and Canada- international traveling for beginners.   Hong Kong was the first time I ever went to a place where I didn’t know the language and it was fascinating and awesome.

In 2011, I was in my fourth year as a UNIX administrator and our partners in Zurich asked us to assign a sysadmin to the local German office.  Volunteers were requested, and I was in a perfect situation to go- I had just sold a condo and all of my stuff was already in storage.  I said sure, and by the middle of November of that year, I was living full time in Regensburg, Germany. I was promoted again when I moved, giving me my fifth title change sine I started working for the company.

Including Germany, I visited 23 more countries during my three years living and working in Bavaria, and I made still more life-long friends.   I compiled an incredible variety of experiences in that time, and it’s all chronicled here in this blog.

At the end of 2014, after three years in Germany, I returned to the US.  I worked in the Boca Raton office again.  During the summer of 2015, I spent five weeks in Japan to work on a migration of their customers to a new platform.  While I was there, Mr. Company announced that we were divesting all of our web hosting business, and I knew my time at the company had an expiration date.

Fourteen years is a long time.  While I was working for this company, I bought a home, lived in it for about seven years, and sold it.  In fourteen years I’ve moved nine times, two of them internationally.  I’ve attended weddings of friends and family.  Also funerals.  And births.  My oldest niece has graduated college and purchased a house.  My youngest niece just turned six.   I’ve purchased two cars, a 2005 Civic and a 2015 Mazda 3.  I met my girlfriend just before I moved to Germany, and we got to know each other while I was across the ocean.  We’ve been together since 2014.

Trying to recap a span of nearly a decade and a half is not an easy task.  It’s just too much.

It’s finally the end-  the company has eliminated the positions and the entire office is closing.  I’m not the last person out of the building. but there’s only a dozen or so people left to clean up the mess we all left behind.  I’m glad that I’m not the one left behind, because that’s going to be the most difficult work of all.

The goodbyes on Thursday were difficult.  I mostly wasn’t emotional, until Daryl started saying nice things about me.  That was enough to make me almost lose it a tiny bit.  (Damn you, Daryl!  Why can’t you just hate me like a normal techie person?)

The picture at the start of the post was me on the first day in 2002.  This one was taken earlier this week, in my last days at the company in 2016.  I look like I’ve seen some stuff.  And I have.

Fourteen years later, December 2016.

I also got the best sleep I’ve had in years on Thursday night, because there was no reason for me to wake up early on Friday.  For the moment, I have nowhere to go.

So how’s your December going so far?

Peter Dinklage and I Have One Thing In Common

I never really gave much thought to the place where I was born. I’ve only been there twice. The first time is when I was born, before I went home to the family home in nearby Livingston.

The second time was in 1997, when the entire family went to Jersey for our cousin’s wedding. During that trip, my brother and I took the rental car for a brief day-trip to check the place out. I was a little curious about my birthplace: Morristown, New Jersey.

While we were there, we walked around the downtown area a little bit, walked by the hospital where I was born, and also walked through a park in the center of the town. Unbeknownst to me, the Morristown National Historical Park is the site of General George Washington’s encampment from December 1779 to June 1780, and there’s a Washington museum on site.jon-in-morristown-2016_08_01_21_43_27_001

The picture to the right is of Jonathan standing in front of the equestrian statue of General Washington.  This was the first moment that I had any inkling that my birthplace is interesting on its own, and since then I’ve found out a few other neat facts about the town.

  • During Washington’s encampment in Morristown, Alexander Hamilton was present. It was during this stretch of time that Hamilton met and courted his future wife,  Elizabeth Schuyler.
  • The Morristown Green is also the site of  a statue commemorating the meeting of George Washington, the young Marquis de Lafayette, and young Alexander Hamilton.  (I’m gonna have to go back some time to see this one, probably.)
  • The 1780 court martial of Benedict Arnold also happened in Morristown.
  • There’s an additional encampment from the revolutionary war situated on a hill which gives clear views to the North, East, and South, while being backed by mountains on the West.  This encampment, created by order of General Washington in 1777, has the hilarious and awesome name of Fort Nonsense.    (Note to self:  I’m totally gonna steal that for my next apartment.  “Hey, let’s go back to Fort Nonsense and watch movies!”)
  • Peter Dinklage was born there, four years before me.  He’s no Alexander Hamilton, but he’s really good at drinking and knowing things.

Does your birthplace have any interesting history?