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A 12 post collection

Weekend Report #9

 •  Filed under Weekend Reports, Golf, Family

Is it April already? Where did March go? Yip, it's been one of them months where it's over before it's even began.

The last three weeks have definitely been like this. I've been busy working and we've been out and about a bit more now that the good weather is with us and getting the boys outdoors isn't such a problem.

Saturday was errands day. Heading to a few places to get some ideas for the garden. We invested some time and money into the garden last year and this year we're ready to finish most of the heavier work in the garden. I can't wait for the day that I can just put me feet up in the garden, fire up the grill and start on a couple of cold beers.

Sunday was Ethan's return to weekly medals at Paisley Golf Club. He's spent a fair amount of time over winter putting in extra practice and it's starting to pay off. Once the course dries out a bit more though and he's had a few more practice rounds he should start to see his handicap fall.

Easter holidays have started for the school kids. I took Ethan up to Paisley for a round of golf. Weather was favourable (it wasn't raining) and the course was in great condition. Ethan played very well as always. I was a little slower to get started and couldn't hack the pace at the turn. By that point my back and arms were tired. We're heading back out on Wednesday again, so hopefully I'll be a better playing partner!

Weekend Report #7

 •  Filed under Posts, Weekend Reports, Family

This weekend was something of a bust. It's that time of year when kids of a certain age turn from innocent little chaps and madams to plague carrying monsters. Little Drew started us off with a case of the lurgy last week and it's ran rife through the house. There's still a couple of us fighting on into this week. Hopefully by next weekend we'll all be back to full health.

On a more positive note this weekend saw the return of what for me is the greatest show on Earth. The Super Bowl. I get that not everyone likes it, but there's no denying it was a great game to watch.

I had no intentions of staying up to watch the game though having already started my lurgy phase and the fact that I was working the next day, so I recorded the game in the hopes of watching it the next day.

I already knew the score before watching the game, some media blackouts you just can't get through unless you unplug your wireless router but I needed that for work.

It certainly wasn't a disappointing game. The Falcons routed the Patriots in the first half but the momentum of the Falcons started to die in the second half. Despite the rocky start in the third quarter the Patriots stepped up and proved that there were more than capable of matching the Falcons in their first-half.

With the game tied, the Super Bowl went into overtime for the first time. The Patriots opted to receive the punt, made the drive to the red-zone and scored the touchdown. Game over.

It's hardly seems fair to decide a game like this, maybe they should play the whole overtime quarter regardless of the number of possessions each time has and decide it on points.

Anyway, that's the Patriots and the Brady/Belichick combo with their fifth Super Bowl win. So the countdown begins to the next season.

Me and Ethan are Packer fans but Jennifer and Drew like the Patriots and no-one was as happy as Drew was when he discovered that his team had won the Super Bowl.

The Weekend Report #6

 •  Filed under Weekend Reports, Posts, Family

Apologies. Missed a couple of these in November and December!

After the feasting and festivities over Christmas, the New Year weekend was a chance to get some sense of normality back.

Me and Jen took the boys to the ten pin bowling on the Friday morning just to do something different. Poor performances by all except from Drew who won both games!

New Years Eve was a quiet day and a chance for the boys to mess about with their presents.

New Years Day involved dinner at my parents house. While most people might have ordered their steak pie from their local butchers (not a bad option by the way), my mum opted to make hers from scratch. It went down a storm, especially with the boys who love their steak pie.

To round off the long weekend I took Ethan up to the golf club for a few holes. The weather wasn't great but it didn't stop him putting in a solid nine holes. I'm starting to find some consistency as well which is good.

Home Values

 •  Filed under Links, Cultural Offering, Family

Kurt Harden loves the family life at home and makes it a top priority.

At lunch, I was able to drive home for a sandwich. The kids were off school so Libby and Henry were added to the lunch conversation at the kitchen table and I ran Libby to a friend’s house after lunch. I am fortunate enough to live close to work. The break in my workday often keeps me fresh, adding perspective to problems and opportunities that might otherwise be seen differently.

Home by Kurt Harden

I'm also lucky to be in a position where I work from our home and I can take the kids to school and nursery and pick them up at the end of their day. Working from home is hard work, but the value in being nearby for the family is too good to give up on.

A Lasting Impression

 •  Filed under Family, Posts, Programming, Favourites

How many people have you encountered in life that have really left a lasting impression on you for most of your life? I know of one that immediately springs to mind. My Grandfather, or Papa as we was affectionately known to all his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

When I was about nine years old my family returned back home to Scotland after living in Canada for four years. We lived with my grandparents for a few weeks before we had our own house. It was during this time that I encountered the first computer I had ever seen, a ZX81. It was the strangest contraption I had seen. My Papa showed me how to load games on it and type in basic instructions.

While this was my first encounter with a computer it wasn't my first introduction to programming. A little later on my Papa bought an Atari 800XL. During one of my many visits to my grandparents house, I watched my Papa typing furiously into his computer. I moved round to look at the screen and seen lines and lines of text with each line prefixed by a number.

Always inquisitive about stuff, I asked what it was and he told me he was typing in the instructions for a game into the computer or a program as he called it. Once all the instructions were typed in, you could run the game. He showed me the game once it was complete and explain what the different parts of the code do.

To start programming in your 50's is quite a feat, especially given the lack of programming resources and aids that were available at the time, but he was such a clever man and was always looking for something to dabble in.

Since those days of watching my Papa writing code on his Atari, I've always had a computer at some point in my life. From a couple of Spectrums I made the jump to a PC in the 90's. Through a number of different PC's I've ended up where I am today typing this on a MacBook Pro. What started out as a little hobby through my childhood has turned into a career that I thoroughly enjoy doing.

This morning my Papa, my first programming mentor, passed away.

It wasn't expected, but he was very old and suffered from a number of health issues including dementia and macular degeneration. Whether it's expected or not, it's always hard news to digest.

One memory that will always stick with me though is the hours he spent showing me what you can do with a few lines of code and computer. From those first days of writing programs in BASIC, it has shaped me into what I do today, a person who not only earns a living from writing code but also thoroughly enjoys doing it.

Quite a lasting impression I think you'll agree.

Just a Nudge

 •  Filed under Ethan, Golf, Posts, Family

Meet my son Ethan.

Ethan at the range

He loves playing golf. He's also quite good at it. He might not be the next big thing in golf, but he's better than most kids his age. He attends golf lessons for one hour a week and this year we even got him in as a junior member at a golf club in the area where most of his family play. A chance for him to meet other kids his age and also to get out onto a proper golf course for a change.

Now as parents we all want the best for our kids. It's natural. The best criteria though is interpreted different by different parents though. My interpretation is that I want my kids to be happy and do what they enjoy the most.

Me and Jen don't do the pushy parent thing. He plays golf when he wants to play golf. We don't make him practice for hours on end at home, nor do we make it his exclusive hobby. Just for variety he goes swimmming, plays tennis and wants to up upgrade his bike to a mountain bike for Christmas so that he can go mountain biking with me.

He also does all the usual things kids do, watches television, plays video games, plays outside with his friends and a whole heap of other things that kids are supposed to do (and sometimes not supposed to do!). Quite a good mix for any kid if you ask me.

I'm hoping that this no pressure approach to his golf gives him enough breathing space to be himself and not be put under pressure. He's still a kid and needs to experience his childhood. Sure we still give him a gentle nudge now and again, but that's all it is, a nudge.

Prioritizing Family, Career and Other Things

 •  Filed under Posts, Family, Career

Being a parent is tough at the best of times, but being a parent, holding down a job and working on anything else that takes your fancy is hard too. As a developer I like tinkering with code and ideas, but these aren't a priority and so I only work on side projects when I can. However, even short bursts of coding can be productive as John Polacek points out:

It has happened to me over and over again. I get away from what I’m working on, then when I come back, I focus on it in a fresh way. I can accomplish in 10 minutes what may have taken me an hour or more had I just stayed ‘heads down’.

How Getting Married and Having Kids Made Me a Better Programmer by John Polacek

My focus is family first, income second and then everything else. So only when I have exhausted all my options about the house do I crack open my text editor and start coding. I might only get 10 minutes or half an hour, but it's all I need to move project forward.

The surprise for me is that I thought that with freelancing I would be able to set aside some time for side projects, but the priority for freelance work is to simply save what I can. When the work stops coming in for a short spell, then I can focus on my side projects for a period of time until I find other work. For the moment though I'm happy to only work on side projects when I can.