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A Good Year

A Good Year

It’s been a busy year here at the Pence household.

Like most people, I’m busy celebrating with the better half and quite definitely “nicely relaxed.” this year, I am “nicely relaxed” (ie obliterated… so please excuse the typos) on a steady stream of Mooing Irish Pepsis (Bailey’s, coke and milk) and rum and cokes, but made with this awesome Black Cherry rum. It’s very rare that me and the other half of 2phatgeeks.com actually get a chance to drink up and enjoy. We’re either too poor or too occupied or I’m too tied up with work.

But tonight? No way… Tonight we celebrate one hell of a year, as far as I’m concerned. Tonight we’re gonna tie one on because I can afford it (sort of), because we’ve earned it and because, for once, we don’t have any major crises hanging over my gradually increasing forehead. So let me tell you what we both accomplished this year.

  1. We were finally, legally, without a doubt and without legal issue completely married. We’ve been together seven years this year and we finally made it through, what for us, was a major international hurdle. It was also something I’ve wanted to do since we met and it is more than an major relief, it’s like I’ve finally managed to finish off a major life’s work. It would not have been possible without the continual support of my family, her family and… most importantly, her.
  2. Hell, not only that, we made it through reams of international (though largely US) red tape. Sure, it put us in debt beyond my wildest imagination and involved an enormous amount of stress, but as of this October, we officially made it through the first and most difficult portion of her naturalization. I’d like to throw out a special and very heartfelt thank you to our lawyer, Fernando Palacios. This kindly grandfatherly figure made a significant portion of our dreams come true and we’ll always be indebted. If anyone on the east coast of Florida needs an Immigration lawyer, find this guy… he’s the best.
  3. The credit union I work out announced it’s intention to merge, and absorb, one of the largest credit unions in south Florida. This was a huge deal and resulted in the next item, in addition to essentially securing the future for my family.
  4. I received a promotion to Assistant Manager. I’ve been a Senior Call Center Associate, basically the person you get when you ask for a manager or a supervisor, for over two years. It’s the longest I’ve ever been in a position. I figured, like most folks, that I’d be in this position another year or so. Thanks to the merger, the support of my managers and no small amount of hard work, I managed to claw my way up sooner than expected officially as of this November. This was an awesome surprise and the opportunity I’d been waiting for. It’s a lot more work, but I do find myself loving it. It, along with the above, has lead to the next item…
  5. Finally some relief from having to rely on credit to make our way through every plan and holiday. As 2010 begins, 4 out of 7 credit cards are shut down and in payoff and we’ve still managed to have nearly enough money set aside to pay for the entire awesome Disney Vacation we have planned. It may not seem like such a big deal to some folks, but moving away from Credit and moving into paying for things directly is a huge deal for me. As much as I might miss having the cards to fall back on for extra little surprised for the better half, it’s just awesome knowing that I’m paying these things off and closing them… eventually.
  6. While all of this craziness was going on, we both participated in NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. While many of you are very familiar with this it’s honestly the first I’d heard of it. I’ve never considered myself much of a writer. With all of the focus I’ve had lately on work, I used to play saxophone regularly, in several jazz bands and ensembles, but I haven’t had any actually creative outlet in a long time. So this year, when Mel mentioned this novel writing thing, I figured, “What the hell. I’ve got nothing else to do.” To my immense surprise I actually finished… and finished early. It feels like I won a fucking marathon and I certainly count it in my highlights of a year already filled with goodness.
  7. My better half opened and made some real, no-foolin’, people money on the intarwebz! Her Etsy shop took off more than even I expected, and I had high hopes, and she continues to show me just how talented she really is each and every day.
  8. Last but most certainly not least, every member of my family made it through the year still alive and still kicking; mom, dad, grandma, sister, mother and father in law (hang in there guys!) and my brother-in-law not to mention my non-human family: cats, bird, hamsters and all! Sure, some of my family are kicking a lot less strongly than before, but they’re still out there and they make it all worth doing, no matter what a pain in the ass it is.

It was one hell of a year, for sure. After what is sure to be a couple of frenetic months, 2010 will start off with me and my better half finally taking a long discussed and dreamed of vacation at Disney World. Instead of running through two parks in a single day, we’ll have four full days to enjoy it all. For those of you that don’t fully appreciate what this means, let me just say that I will have more fun watching her at Disney than I will actually being there myself. 2010 is already looking up.

To all of you that I’ve argued with, dealt with on the phone, annoyed, pissed off, amused or in any way touched your life, thanks for being a part of making this awesome year even more awesome. I wish each and every one of you as good a year as we’ve had and hope nothing but the very best for all of you and your families.

Happy New Year, Internets… I love you guys.

Pinkopalypse

When it comes to computers, there are pink components, and there are good components, but there are scant few good pink components. While for most geeks this is not a problem, for me it is as the better half loves the color pink. So, in addition to doing every odd job I could think of to fill my time, I decided to right a serious geek wrong and make the pink computer I know she wants.

I am not a case modder; not by a long shot. I put computers together in preassembled cases. I’m pretty handy when it comes to putting things IN computers, but I am not known for my vast case modding skills. So while this was intended to be a welcome home gift for the better half of 2PhatGeeks, It was also a learning experience. So, I began.

First, we had to modify the cover. The case was originally black and silver and designed around a nicely geeky RPG/Medieval theme, complete with a shield on the front. Unfortunately The XBlade Design wasn’t going to work for the pink happy box idea I had in mind, so I had to do something. I pondered long and hard, several weeks before she left, in fact, deciding what to put on the case…

1-coverstart

This brilliant design, of course, required I cut aluminum approx ¼” thick. I needed firepower. I needed… my first Dremel! It is an amazing machine that I am not at all good at using. But I managed to accomplish what I needed and lined it with a little bit of rubber tubing and hot glue to cover some of my many imperfections… wow, it’s a metaphor for me!.

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Next there was a BOATLOAD of painting. Every peripheral that I could properly paint (as well as some I couldn’t) got a coat of candy pink, white or pink fading to white.

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One thing you won’t see in this next picture is a fancy pink keyboard. While I knew it would be a challenge, Mel had literally worn her keyboard almost out, half the letters were gone, so I figured I had nothing to lose. If things didn’t work out, well, she was due for a keyboard anyway. Good thing I had planned for the possibility of failure! While the keyboard looked awesome, it just didn’t work. The Microsoft ergo that she prefers is made to pretty dang exacting standards that my painting is not up to! I bid it a fond adieu and replaced it with a new one. Anyway, here we can see some of the peripherals. The mouse looks and feels awesome!

4-midway1

Next I turned my attentions to the case. Every surface was repainted. The chassis frame is completely white, inside and out, while the outside of the case is pink in the front fading to white at the rear. It was far from flawless, as a first attempt, and some minor touch ups were needed, but when I first saw the case front repainted and reassembled, I started to get excited. I think it looks awesome and girly!

5-midway2

6-casefront

Lastly, as I assembled the case, I couldn’t just let the blue lights and fans stay, so I replaced them with white lights and filled the heart in with a pink bit of plastic from, of all things, a girl’s notebook from Wal-Mart.

7-cpuandstand

Behold… The Pinkopalypse! It looks so light and airy and girly I think I just grew an ovary.

8-pinkopalypse

So ended my first real attempt at (admittedly very minimal) case modding and I hope the returning princess likes it! I really believe she will. I learned several good lessons for the future… including that 1. The Dremel is the coolest power tool ever, but that they require patience and that 2. I really suck at painting. By the time you are all reading this, she will be on a flight home and will be seeing it by sometime around 8PM this evening.

WELCOME HOME BABY!

Pic Dump #1!

I decided to clean out the images on my phone memory card last night, in a desperate attempt to give me something to do. I’ve always loved stumbling across pic dumps and a couple of these gave me a chuckle, so I figured I should follow kindergarten rules and share! You’ll have to forgive the quality of some of these, my camera phone is just one step above a daguerreotype.

Breakfast Time?

Breakfast Time?

Well, you didn’t think we weren’t going to have at least one picture of an animal, did you? Flora’s morning kitchen shenanigans now include table top supervision.

The Mileage of the Devil!

The Mileage of the Devil!

It’s time for the Oil Change from HELL!!

Shindler's Lift

Schindler's Lift

Alright, I find this hysterical, but I’m not sure who else will. This is my elevator at work, made by the Schindler company. Schindler’s Lift! HA HA HA HA HA!

Hi, Grandma!

Hi, Grandma!

This is my Grandmother. As you might be able to guess, she would probably kill me if she saw this picture. I snapped this one while helping her out one day. She’s waving at Melissa in Canada.

Living in Florida is so hard!

Living in Florida is so hard!

I took this pretty much just to brag. I took this about a two-and-a-half weeks ago. This is a shot from the table where I usually eat lunch when I get a chance to go outside. Obviously it’s looking back into the parking lot, but it;s under a great open concert shell like covering and those aren’t just random woods back there, that’s a nature preserve here. We have Owl, Dear, Hawk, Sandhill Cranes and pretty much every small bird in the area. When I took this it was about 78 degrees (25.5 C for you metric folks), dry (for Florida) and with a nice breeze. Yeah, it might suck in the summer, but it is freakin’ awesome the rest of the year!

A Delicate Princess!

A Delicate Princess!

This awesome pic is also my current Cell phone wallpaper. This is what happens when you leave your phone unattended at your desk while you’re working on your wife’s computer. Love you, baby!

THIS is Customer Service

THIS is Customer Service

And last but not least: yours fatly. The next time you feel the need to unload your frustration on some poor, unsuspecting Customer Service Rep, remember this.

Gardenlicious

Ok, I couldn’t resist sharing. The garden continues it’s amazing development. While we finally said goodbye to the peas, that we still have a bag full, I might add, everything else is coming up like crazy! I hope you all enjoy the pics of a walkaround of the most awesome 2PhatGeeks garden ever. A special “Hello!” to all of you that are following this at Mel’s LiveJournal.

First we have a couple shots of the northwest corner of the garden. While initially this was dominated by bluebells, they’ve gone to pod (yay, more bluebells next year!) and these Blue carnations have taken over

crazyness

bluecarnations

bluesummer

Here we have a couple shots of some of the edibles. We can see some Sage, Onions, Basil, the side of the Jalapenos (which are just starting to bloom) and a little Oregano.

herbsandpeppers

herbsandpeppers2

basil

And check these out! Cayennes are coming up really nicely. Yum!

pepper

Remember that White Tri-color Daisy Chrysanthemum? Well, we have just a few more.

tdc

tdc2

tdc3

tdc4

In addition to the mostly white variety, we also have these cool little light purple ones scattered in.

violettdc

flowers

Hey, who’s that’s poking their head in the picture? Oh yeah, this little guy! He was quite the surprise and there seem to be a good number of these coming in, too.

redtdc

The Tomato plants may start demaning “Feed Me!” at any moment. We have about 30 tomatoes by our count. If they taste haslf as good as they look, they may be fatally delicious. I can’t wait to have fresh basil and tomatoes. or maybe even ad in a little fresh mozzarella from the deli and make a little home grown pizza margherita!

maters2

maters1

This guy is so big he needs his own caption. I don’t have tiny delicate little fingers, either.

bigmater

Not pitured are parsley and dill that are growing literally like weeds… so much so I couldn’t get a realy good picture aside from the little snippet in the title image. The dill is about 3 feet tall and still growing. We’ll be sure to let all of you know just how delicious everything is. Hope every one is having a great spring… summer is just around the corner!

Digital Parchment.

I need you so much closer.”

It was just black Arial text on a white back ground staring at me unflinchingly from the frame of my monitor.

Eight little words delivered to me via a tool bar downloaded and installed into my fire fox to entertain me as I browsed this great tangled mess called the Internet. He didn’t send it to me directly you see, he thumbed it up. Possibly several months ago, maybe a week before I received it, could have even be the day before it arrived onto my screen.

It arrived, actually, sometime early last week and I haven’t said anything about it–that’s a bad habit of mine. I don’t say things to the important people. I write them for the world to see; I bare my dark little places with courage to a room full of strangers. When it comes to close friends or family, to the people I should say things to? My mouth shuts tight with the clang of savage bear trap. So I never told him that I got it. I never told him how it rang within me like old sounds lost forever in endless deep-earth caverns.

I know that after I read it several times, I went very still.

The television had long been turned off before he’d gone to work. The birds were unusually calm, the cats napping, the house hummed along with its central air conditioning; everything appeared to follow me in this moment. Movie directors have been attempting to perfect this single moment without much success. It is when the span of a heart beat stretches on for endless minutes, when the world to your right and left become a blur and all you can see is the tunnel of clarity directly in front of you.

For me, it was nothing more than black font on a white page.

I need you so much closer.”

It wasn’t noise that brought me back to this world. It wasn’t the cat knocking something over or the sleepy chirp of our pet cockatiel. It was the emotion that welled up into my throat to make the back of it ache then tighten.

It was the understanding that right here on this very planet, in a million, million lost souls gasping, lamenting, clawing, screaming, wishing, praying, wanting for love–trying so hard to be loved–fighting for love, that I had already. That I’ve always had it. That I have it every day. That is sleeps beside me, snoring away every night and it gets up in the morning and it goes to work and it plods through shitty people with shitty attitudes to bring home money that it spends on me even when it doesn’t really have the money TO spend on me. It wakes up in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep to roll over when he’s snoring because it knows I can’t fall asleep when it does. It’s the hand that curves around my hip jolting me awake after fighting all night to go to sleep anyway. It’s the cheesecake that mysteriously appears in the fridge when I’m on my period and ready to kill everything that tip toes around me. It’s the quiet, adamant insistence that there’s nothing wrong with me and that I am beautiful no matter how many rolls of fat I can count.

It’s the man I married, quietly thumbing up a web page with the words:

I need you so much closer.”

And I’m trying.

I’m trying.

I love you.