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Notes from Erich
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Erich Schneider's LiveJournal:

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Friday, March 9th, 2012
9:32 am
Ten years
Today is Connie-Lynne's and my tenth wedding anniversary. Ten years ago was two houses ago, when our set of three cats was completely different from the two we have now. It was two (or three, depending on how you count my current status) jobs ago for me, and more than that for Connie-Lynne, who at the time was in the middle of going back to and finishing college. We had been together for about three and a half years, but sharing a living space only for seven months or so. Of our various brothers and sisters, we were the first to get married (beating out Connie-Lynne's sister by three months).

Between then and now there have been plenty of ups and downs and many adventures: road trips, three Burning Mans together (and four for her solo), Ground Control, Dungeon Master, the Derby Dolls, the Grilled Cheese Invitational, various gaming groups, my ongoing yoga practice (which has been joint at various times), our move to Northern California, and other one-off bits of wackiness - and each of those things has brought new groups of friends into our lives. We've also helped each other weather serious illness, job setbacks, and the loss of people and pets close to us.

A former co-worker told me that when I talked about all the things Connie-Lynne and I were doing together, that we "sounded like newlyweds". I hope to keep that spirit alive in the years to come and to have a lifetime of love and togetherness.

Tonight we're heading north to a bed and breakfast in Mendocino for the weekend, staying in a cottage with its own hot tub and climbable water tower.
Wednesday, December 28th, 2011
12:05 pm
Year's End
I last posted an update here about six months ago. Many things have happened in the interim, but as far as my posting frequency is concerned, the big one is that I joined Facebook and Google Plus (I only use the latter for reading). At first it was because I was tired of having to ask other people to tell me about things only visible on Facebook, but I have found I enjoy communicating with people in those little sound bites. I feel like I am too busy experiencing life to spend a lot of time writing about it, and by the time I get around to it, the intensity of whatever it was has faded.

Two months ago we moved north to Redwood City, due to Connie-Lynne's new job with Groupon in Palo Alto. I've had a really good time in those two months, exploring our local neighborhood and bits of San Francisco, getting together with a new acroyoga community, and seeing our friends who live up here. There are things I miss from living down south (like the great game store in Pasadena where I'd play something weekly) but on balance I am very happy living here. Now if only I could have a vision of what our house will look like when all of our boxes are unpacked!

In early October I went to an acroyoga festival in Richmond, CA, and at the beginning of December a three-day intense workshop in Oakland. I am at a stage where I want to figure out where I want to go with the practice - moving from a "taking classes in a studio" mode to integrating it more into my life. Having practiced regular yoga for 10+ years I'm a big believer in learning it to a point where one primarily does it on one's own. Since acroyoga involves multiple people, I think this means getting involved in more informal practicing. I imagine that when the weather warms up there will be plenty of opportunity.

Our plan, when we moved up here, was that I'd work through November or so and then take some time off to enjoy myself and think about where I'm going next, careerwise. However, we quickly realized that due to the financial numbers, I'd need to keep working until we got a tenant for our house in Altadena, which we decided not to sell. We have a property management company running ads and showing it to people, but I am going to keep working as a remote consultant for First Quadrant until someone starts renting it. My intention is to have my next job be something that makes me truly excited to get up in the morning and go to work. Fortunately, I'm in the center of the tech world, so I think that's possible.

Tomorrow we're driving down south for a one-week trip - a few days staying in a mountain house with Connie-Lynne's brother and sister and their spouses and some friends, then a few days at Disneyland for her birthday. Today's a day for taking care of some errands and packing. I hope all of you reading this have a fun transition to the new year!
Sunday, July 10th, 2011
8:33 pm
Over the 4th of July weekend, I went camping with a bunch of friends at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. I hadn't been there since Burning Man in 2008, after which I said I wouldn't go back, due to my three Burning Man trips all involving being nauseous to the point of throwing up every morning for 3-4 days. But, Connie-Lynne really wanted me to go up with her and said we could leave right away if I had the same reaction.

Happily, I had no health problems at all. I think it's because there weren't 50,000 people chewing up the playa surface with the attendant dust issues. I also hate the dust getting all over me and every surface around, and that wasn't happening. And finally, Connie-Lynne made arrangements so I could eat throughout the day without having to do a lot of preparation, which helped my sense of well-being a lot.

So, it was a good time. I went skeet shooting for the first time (I think I went 4 for 14 against the clay pigeons), and we spent one hot afternoon swimming in a nearby reservoir (something you can't really do at Burning Man). But most gratifying was how happy everyone was to see me, when they thought I'd never be out there again, and how happy Connie-Lynne was to have me with her.
Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
9:09 pm
I seem to have turned into one of those special-events-only Livejournalists. Anyway, today is Connie-Lynne's and my ninth wedding anniversary, which we celebrated by going to the restaurant where we had our wedding reception, Carousel in Glendale. The food is just as tasty as it was back then, and this time we didn't order too much. I had forgotten how good muharram, this amazing pepper paste with walnuts, tasted. We need to start going there again - we had largely stopped because it isn't very diet-compliant.
Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
11:36 am
Happy Birthday, Connie-Lynne
Please join me in wishing Connie-Lynne a happy birthday, her 41st. Unfortunately, she's starting it off sick, but I hope that will wrap up quickly. Here's hoping that, having left her stressful job behind her, she will have a great year ahead of her.

She told me last week that I didn't have to get a present for her, but too bad! I had already ordered one. Signs point to me being able to give it to her tonight...
Sunday, December 26th, 2010
11:57 am
Right now I am in the middle of a four-day pause between two holiday trips.

Trip #1 started on Friday the 17th. After work we went to see Tron: Legacy (3.5 out of 5 from me), got dinner, and then stayed the night in the Westin at LAX prior to jetting off to Denver at 6:30 the next morning. That was the start of a weeklong vacation in Breckenridge, CO with my parents, my brother, his wife, and his two kids (one step-). It was my first time skiing in 12 or 13 years (I'm not sure) and Connie-Lynne's first time ever. It went almost perfectly. I skied for four and a half days and had a really great time. Connie-Lynne took three half-day lessons and at the end of the third we went down a run together. I am so happy that it was a good experience for her and that we now have another thing we can have fun doing together.

For four of the evenings we had dinner in cooked by a different member of the middle generation, and we had a huge amount of fun playing games. I'm sure my 10-year-old niece thinks the grownups are even stranger than she thought.

The only down note on the trip was that on the last night there, the 23rd, my brother's family got news from their dog-sitter that one of their two dogs had died in his sleep, which was very sad for all involved.

Yesterday we spent down at C-L's parents' house in Long Beach where we had another great time, even though several members of the family were sick.

I work tomorrow and Tuesday, then on Wednesday we leave for Cambria for the New Year's trip we have been going on for the last three years. Today, in addition to putting Christmas presents away, we have to make plans for how we're going to prepare for that. We get back from there on the 3rd, the day before C-L's birthday.
Thursday, November 4th, 2010
11:34 pm
Today, I turned 39. It was a fairly low-key day. Work has been demanding (but doable) this week, so I had a nice lunch to myself to relax in the middle of the day. I spoke with my parents on the phone, and clynne made me one of her special dishes for dinner at home.

The last year has been a mixed bag of ups and downs. In a few ways the present moment is one of new beginnings for me, and I am at a spot where I can do some reflection on where I am, where I want to go, and how to get there. I am confident that good days lie ahead and things will work out for the best.
Monday, October 4th, 2010
9:38 pm
Different Skies 2010
When Connie-Lynne and I were travelling back from Texas early in the summer, we stopped by Arcosanti, an architectural experiment that's been under construction for the last forty years, and which I'd wanted to visit for about twenty. The details of that visit will have to wait for another time, but while we were there, I saw a list of upcoming events that included a space music festival, Different Skies, that would be happening October 2, that is, this last Saturday. I thought, back, then, "hmm, I could fly in for a day for that". And I did! And this time, unlike my trip to see Samuel R. Delany back in July, 2007, I paid for a hotel room near the Phoenix airport.

I had an excellent time at the concert. There were 14 guys on stage from all over the US, plus the UK, Denmark, and Finland. The process is that they come together at the start of the week, spend a day getting their sound in order, then present musical ideas to the group. Those that get a good response are fleshed out into arrangements for the whole ensemble, which they then spend the rest of the week rehearsing. And then, the concert. There were a lot of keyboards, but also guitars, electronic wind instruments, and at least one drummer.

The concert had between an hour and an hour and a half of the material they rehearsed. The pieces spanned a range of styles, from non-rhythmic soundscapes to stuff like jazz combo improv, but with all electronic instruments. One really interesting piece was performed by about five guys using iPhones or iPads and an app called Morphwiz, which played tones that varied continuously in frequency and timbre based on how fingers were moved on the touchpad.

Apparently, they usually follow the rehearsed pieces with about an hour of jamming, but as the rehearsed section was ending, lightning started flashing in the distance, and about five minutes into the second part, a heavy rainstorm started. So, the concert was cut short as the musicians powered everything down and covered it with tarps.

Most of the audience that wasn't residents bailed out at that point, but I stuck around hoping to buy some CDs, and also because I didn't want to start the hour-long drive back to Phoenix during a thunderstorm. I ended up spending a bit of time talking to the musicians backstage, who, when I told them I'd flown in from LA for the concert, asked "are you crazy?", "how did you find out about this?", and "did you enjoy the show?" When I told them that I loved everything Tangerine Dream did in the '70s, they started saying "well, you might like this CD of mine..." I wound up buying $75 worth of music (aka all the cash I had on hand).

All in all, a great experience.
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
11:39 am
Thank you all for your kind words about Sydney.

Friday was a pretty tiring day, what with the unhappy events in the morning, then flying and driving, which involved getting caught in the awful traffic between Oakland and Santa Rosa in the afternoon.

But, the weekend was pretty pleasant overall. The wedding was held at the Mendocino Woodlands Camp, which was originally built by the WPA and is a few miles outside of town (including a "several miles down a dirt road" component) in a beautiful wooded valley. The only problem with the accomodations was that I failed to pick up some blankets some people had brought up for us, nor did I build a fire in the cabin's fireplace, so we were very cold with the blankets that we had on the first night. We fixed that problem for the second night, though.

We had a good time with all of our friends there. Connie-Lynne accurately described the ceremony as "a half hour of wedding-related stand-up comedy followed by some vows". Perfectly suited to the bride and groom.

We returned to San Francisco Sunday evening, after a final game of fizzball (think baseball with cans of beer). Yesterday morning I finally got to eat at our friends Heidi and Nate's restaurant in SF, the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, which was great. Connie-Lynne then went to work, so I had the city and the rental car to myself for the day. I had wanted to go to the Exploratorium, but it turned out to be closed, so I wound up visiting a bunch of bookstores in Berkeley. I think I have to come up with a new default activity for when I am in another city with time to kill, because visiting bookstores has grown more unsatisfying over the years - I have a large queue of books to read, hardly ever buy new ones, and most anything new I would buy I'd buy from the local bookstore a few blocks from my office.

I had thought my flight from Oakland was at 8pm and scheduled my arrival at the airport accordingly - it turns out I was actually booked on the 7pm flight. Oops. Fortunately they managed to put me on the 8pm flight without problems.
Friday, September 24th, 2010
10:00 am
Rest in peace, big guy.

(taken December, 2004)
Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
5:32 pm
Still here
It's somewhat surprising that September is almost over and summer is gone. It's been kind of a tough summer for me, for various personal reasons, and that's mostly what's kept me from posting.

One of the things that has been tough has been the sickness of our big cat, Sydney. More.Collapse )

Here's hoping that my happiest days are still ahead of me.
Friday, May 21st, 2010
11:08 am
It's been one of those months where there's always something going on, and there's still stuff going on.

On the last weekend of April there was the Grilled Cheese Invitational, for which clynne was the "executive officer" (my term - she made sure whatever had to happen, happened) and I was a volunteer who did various odd jobs. It was a great success, even if it was a second full-time job for her during most of April.

The weekend of May 1 we drove up to San Francisco and attended the wedding of our friends Jason and Djinnaya. The ceremony was at this neat WPA-built monument called the Pulgas Water Temple, and the reception was in a meadow in Golden Gate Park. We were asked to dress "freak fabulous", so I wore my Meistersinger von Nurnberg opera costume. I probably turned a few heads when we went for lunch burritos in San Bruno.

Anyway, that was Saturday; on Sunday I flew back down, as Connie-Lynne was going to work the next week and the drive back down with our new trailer. The trailer wound up not getting finished, so I flew back up there the Saturday after and we drove back down with the utility trailer of the guy building us ours. (See below for why.)

Then this last weekend we had a birthday cookout party for doafy at our place, where not one but two people performed magic tricks for her. No clowns, though - and that's probably for the best, given what happens when our friends dress like clowns.

Tomorrow we leave town to go to Flipside, the Burning Man regional event in Texas (it's being held about an hour east of Austin). We are towing the previously mentioned utility trailer as our sleeping quarters. Our plan is to take our time getting out there, stopping to visit Carlsbad Caverns among other places and getting to the event on Thursday; it runs through Memorial Day. Then we head back home, probably taking a different route. Our fake dog Rowdy will be accompanying us, and there will definitely be photos taken at suitable spots.

A short while ago I started rereading John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, the 1969 Hugo-winning novel set in the then-distant future year of 2010 (in fact, the novel starts on May 3, 2010, and I started reading it a week after that). It's still a great book even if it's clearly the late '60s extrapolated 40 years forward.

Oh, and I never mentioned on LJ that in January we got ourselves a new kitten, Jane Earl Jones (we just call her Jane). Here she is (front) in a picture from February sitting in a basket with Izzy. One reason we got her was that Izzy was giving our older cat Sydney a hard time, so we though a kitten might give him someone to boss around who was more his age and energy level ... it turns out she follows him around and does everything he does all time time, to his immense annoyance (although he's starting to figure out ways to outsmart her).
Saturday, April 17th, 2010
1:00 pm
Imagine it's a couple of hundred years ago and you're a resident of, say, Scotland. One day, a pall of ash clouds the sky and settles across the land for no reason that you or anyone you know can discover. Huddling in a church with all of your neighbors, praying, seems to make a whole lot of sense in that situation.

With fast international transmission of information, the number of inexplicable dread-inducing natural occurrences has dropped pretty much to zero, as far as I can tell. "Why are my eyes stinging? Oh, that volcano erupted in Iceland."
Saturday, April 3rd, 2010
12:11 pm
When our wedding anniversary rolled around this year, on March 9, Connie-Lynne had to be out of town on business. We planned then to have "our anniversary, observed" shortly thereafter. Since I had the day off yesterday (the stock market is closed on Good Friday) we decided to do it then.

One thing I had thought to do was "go see something beautiful together." Connie-Lynne suggested going back to the park where we were married, Brand Park in Glendale. I had had that notion too, so we went with that. When we got there, we couldn't get in to the actual area where our ceremony happened, because it's fenced off and the gates were locked.

We had wanted to stop by a library, though, and Mr. Brand's old mansion in the park ("El Mirador") is now a branch of the Glendale public library. It turns out to specialize in art and music books, and has an attached art gallery. We decided to look around, and there was this great exhibit there that appealed to us both, and yesterday was the last day it was going to be showing. Stumbling on it was totally serendipitous and exactly what we wanted. It was a great part of a great day together.
Sunday, March 21st, 2010
11:06 am
Congratulations to twistedcat and ratswallow, who got married last night in a wonderful nontraditional ceremony (and they meant nontraditional - the reception preceded the ceremony). As often happens at weddings, we got to see many of the great people we know that we don't manage to see as often as we'd like.

I also had the amusing experience of failing to get clynne a drink because, while on my way to do so, I was dragged into a conversation about Star Trek, from which I was interrupted to give advice about studying ancient Greek. Luckily, clynne understood.
Sunday, March 14th, 2010
9:08 pm
Yesterday I went to Disneyland with clynne and two Gigsville friends from up north, and had a good time. There are a few people who see this who will say "whoa". The last time I went there was about ten years ago, and my experience was mixed. I got kind of cranky because a lot of the things I remembered liking when I had last been there, around 1982, were gone.

This year I have been trying to be less rigid and inflexible about things, and to say "yes" to more things in life. clynne really likes Disneyland, so I decided I would go and have a more open mind about it, and accept that things aren't the same as they were when I was a kid and enjoy it for what it was. The day was a fun mix of the familiar and new, and fortunately we didn't have to spend a lot of time standing around in line.
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
10:40 am
Today is Connie-Lynne's and my eighth wedding anniversary! Unfortunately we are having to spend it apart - she's up in San Francisco for important face-to-face business meetings. In the near future we're going to take a day off together for "our anniversary, observed".

I am a lucky man to be married to a woman with so many talents, so much drive, and so much heart.
Saturday, January 30th, 2010
2:46 pm
Connie-Lynne has been away since Tuesday - she went up to San Francisco for a big in-person get-together for her company. This has left me with hours to fill, so last night I went to a yoga studio in Silver Lake for an acroyoga class. It goes beyond partner yoga to "multiple partner yoga" and involves a lot of aspects of, well, acrobatics.

The class had about 15 people of a mix of experience levels. It was tremendous fun for me but also very challenging. I've been doing yoga for about 10 years and the particular style I do now (ashtanga) for about 2 years, so there are a lot of things I feel strong doing and I have a lot of well-worn paths in my practice. The acroyoga required different kinds of strength than I am used to - imagine lying on your back with your legs straight up in the air, and then supporting someone whose body is horizontal with their hip/thigh grooves on top of your feet. Oh, and they're moving around too to maintain their balance.

What immediately struck me is that I felt like a beginner again. It's been a long time since I felt that way doing yoga. I haven't actually been to a yoga class regularly for about seven years, when Connie-Lynne and I stopped going to the class we went to together (due to some changes there that made it less fun). I don't think I'll be able to attend this class regularly (8-10pm on Fridays) but feeling like a beginner reminded me that there are still plenty of ways I can grow and improve.
Monday, January 4th, 2010
7:11 pm
clynne and I just got home from our third annual New Year's Eve trip up to Cambria with several dozen of our closest friends. We had a wonderful time. One highlight was the first night, when about 30 of us went on the nighttime tour of Hearst Castle, which is longer than the daytime tours and features docents dressed up in clothes from the castle's heyday. Being the hams that we are, many of us dressed up ourselves, which the staff got a real kick out of. The castle was decorated for Christmas and was very beautiful.

While on the trip, I also held a ceremonial presentation for the trophy and medal I had made commemorating Connie-Lynne's fortieth birthday, which is today. She'd been asking for a trophy for the whole year, so I decided to do things in grand style. Several dozen people were in attendance and Connie-Lynne marched down the center aisle to the sounds of the "Throne Room" piece from the end of Star Wars. She carried her trophy around all night (New Year's Eve) and wore her medal all weekend.

2009 was a tough year for me in many ways. 2010 is off to a good start and I'm hoping things keep moving in a good direction.
Saturday, December 26th, 2009
10:43 am
Yesteday clynne and I spent the day with her family (parents, brother and sister, with associated spouses) in Long Beach. After a slightly later start than we expected due to her brother being delayed, everything worked exactly as it should and everyone had a great time, which is the most anyone could ask for, I think. I hope all of you had a day as good as we did.

And now I have the longest amount of time off work since ... last Christmas, I think. In 2008 I went negative on vacation days to go to Burning Man, so I've only had an extra day off here and there this year as I built some time back up.

Today we are going to try and go to the movies and tonight, Space Is The Place.
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