Tag Archives: family

Forty-Eight Years Old

Had a great birthday today. I turned 48. Two years to go until the big 5-oh.

My day was simple, but lovely. The main highlight was spending time with my family. In the early afternoon we did a puzzle together. All six of us: Melanie, Justice, Haifa, Verity, Ocean and myself. At about 3pm we all went to the Feast of Sovereignty together. This was particularly wonderful since it is rare that we do so all together.

The day was full with other things too: shovelling snow, errands, a great dinner (steaks, mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies), and packing for my work trip tomorrow.

I’ve set two new goals for my 50th year:

I will do 50,000 push-ups by time I turn 50. So far I’ve done just 25 since I set the goal 0.05% – yay!

I will say 5,000 “remover of difficulties” prayers by time I turn 50. My first spiritual development goal. I will add more.

FWIW, I’m making great progress on my first goal: 500,000 sit-ups… although I’ve had to modify it slightly. I hurt my back so I can’t do proper sit-ups. I’m doing isometric stomach clenches instead. I usually do 1000/day. Here is the chart showing my current progress towards 500,000 (weeks on the horizontal axis, total on the vertical axis):

One other little point of note: I finally crossed the million mile threshold with Air Canada. I’m now a lifetime Elite 50k member. I haven’t yet received my “package”. When I do, I’ll share some photos of stuff.

3485/500000 and 10th Day of the Baha’i Fast

My day of rest was good and I’m taking another ont tomorrow (one a week). This past week I set two new records: 100 reps of sit-ups in a single set (!!!) and 800 reps total for the week. The 100 reps was really hard and I felt awful afterwards. I also did another 150 reps day. However, I’ve added crunches to the traditional sit-ups, and I’m just calling them all “sit-ups”. So now, I will do 100 proper sit-ups per day and start working on increasing my crunches. I’ve also lost a bit of weight, about 7 lbs, mostly due to eating only one meal per day due to…

The Baha’i Fast has been great this year. It’s a little harder than last year, truth be told, probably because of my week off of work. I find it hard to ignore hunger and tiredness when I don’t actually have to do anything during the day. The part I’m having a hard time with is really getting some good prayer time in. There are distractions, but also I’m just having a hard time remembering. I have, however, been trying to spend time with each member of my family during this week. I have to do something with Ocean and Justice still. I went for dinner with Melanie, dinner with Haifa, and a movie with Verity (Captain America – good, but not great, btw).

I’ve tried doing a bit of pottery/ceramic art, but I feel like I haven’t got the hang of it right now. I tried an experiment for making tentacle sculptures, but it didn’t work out so well. And this evening I started a new “vase”, but it’s too early to say if it will work out.

I finished reading “Great North Road” by Peter F Hamilton. Fantastic sci-fi/detective/creature novel. Some really touching moments. Nice long read too, and completely self-contained. No sequel to wait for. No really unique ideas, but extremely well-written and enjoyable. I highly recommend it!

Sabbatical Day 38 – Thanksgiving, 3d Printing

Today we had my mom Valerie and stepdad Rob over for Thanksgiving dinner.  Justice, though not eating, sat with us so it was the whole family.  It’s been a few years since we’ve done that.  It was a really good meal.  Mom and Rob brought pumpkin pies and a nice salad.  Melanie made the turkey, stuffing and peas.  I made two versions of mashed potatoes and the gravy.  It was a huge meal and it was delicious!!!  We didn’t think to take any photos, unfortunately.  It was a hot day so the house was very warm – we’ve turned off the AC for the winter.  Even now at near midnight I’m sweating sitting in the basement which is normally quite cool.  The combination of a hot day with a looooong oven session for the turkey is probably why it’s so hot.  We had a very nice visit.  I’m thankful for my beautiful family.

Recently Rob posted something provocative on Facebook about sex ethics.  I found the discussion to be interesting, informative and quite insightful on the part of almost everyone who participated.  I’m grateful to all my friends and their diverse views.

Over this weekend, I’ve completed work on an insta-project: to create a fender for my road bike so that I can ride it in wet weather.  I used my Solidoodle 2 (ancient) 3d printer.  here are some photos and some files if anyone wants to work on making their own.  You can click on the photos to see the full-size photograph if  you want to see the details.

The construction is fairly simple: there are five pieces glued together.  From left to right in the photo I have called these pieces “Tail”, “Extender” x2, “Adapter” and “Anchor”.  Here are the OpenSCAD files that show the design of each piece:

Adapter Anchor Extender Tail

Here is the latest on my kanban board.  Note: the only thing that has changed ( not good ) is the new project I did which is in the done column.

Sabbatical Day 23 – Hard Work

I can’t believe it’s already a week since my last post.  This past week has gone by really quickly.  I’ve been working hard on school, mostly.  My first degree, back in the first half of the 90’s, was something I barely worked at.  I spent most of my time socializing with my friends and trying to teach other people about the Baha’i Faith.  In many ways, it was time well spent.  However, my studies suffered grievously; I failed several classes and barely scraped by with a 3-year degree after 5 years of school.  To say that my study habits were poor is an understatement.  I mostly didn’t go to class, I mostly didn’t read the textbooks, I mostly didn’t do assignments.  What I did was I would get classmate’s notes and read them quickly before the exams.  I’d scan the textbooks sometimes.  I begged for late assignments to be accepted (sometimes).

All of this led me to some anxiety about school this second time around.  So, I decided that in order to not repeat my past experience, I would go to every class (barring illness or other truly unavoidable situations), I would keep up with the reading for my classes, and, most importantly, I would do every single exercise in the textbooks along the way.  This has been working well for me… except that it turns out to be a lot of work!  Part of it is that I believe that I am mentally slower than I was 23 years ago.  I might speed up as I continue… in fact I can feel it happening already.  But part of it is that I still have ¼ time work, and I’m spending a lot of time with my family and helping around the house.  So the work for school is really substantial and it is pushing against my time in a way that I didn’t expect.

Anyway, I finished an assignment for my Math 3020 class today.  The assignment itself had one really hard question, and the rest were easy to moderate. The hard question, I spent over 3 hours on it.  And I’m not sure that I got it “right”.  I know that I got the final answer right, but I’m not sure that I will have met the expectations of the prof in terms of the work that I did to get to the answer.  We’ll see.  Anyway, after I finished, I realized that I have a very high expectation for myself: I expect to get high-90’s in both my classes.  I’m pushing myself as close to perfect as I can.

There have been lots of other developments in the past week.  My daughter Verity has started taking the bus to school alone.  I’m proud of her.  She also had a bit of a nervous breakdown mid-week.  I helped her through it a bit, but it’s related to the stress of changing schools.  Her grade 8 class was only six people including herself… her grade 9 class is about 500 people!  She had one teacher for the previous four years… now she has four teachers simultaneously!  We drove her to school every day… now she travels on her own.  Big changes, to be sure.  Anyway, I was glad to be home to talk with her and hold her as she struggled with the stress.

In general, I’ve been spending more time with all the kids.  Justice by driving him and sometimes seeing him briefly on campus.  Haifa by being home and helping her practice driving.  Verity by sometimes biking part of the way to school with her and helping her with her little projects.  And Ocean by being in the same room with her while she draws and I do homework.  I’ve also been walking our dog Toby almost every night and I’ve been cleaning up the kitchen almost every night before I go to sleep.  Melanie has now given me 7 projects, and I’ve completed 5 of them so I’m helping her out a lot too.  Here is my updated personal kanban board:

20180923 Personal Kanban Board

I’m pretty happy about how things have been going so far on my sabbatical.  I still think about work, but not much.  Earlier this evening was nice: my colleague Iryna had her birthday a couple days ago so a few of us went out with her to dinner at a place called “Mythic Grill Greek Cuisine” – the food was fantastic!  We had a nice relaxed visit and talked about all sorts of things including politics, parenting, lethal injections, Russian weddings, and a bit about work.

I have also had a little time for personal relaxation.  I’ve been making my way slowly through “The Flash” on Netflix.  It’s a bit cheesy, but it’s enjoyable enough.  The acting isn’t great, but it’s not terrible.  The writing is a bit formulaic, but there are some nice little surprises.  I also binge-watched the second season of “The Good Place” which I loved (available on Netflix).  Lots of laugh-out-loud moments for me.  I’ve been eating poorer than I hoped (in other words, less healthy, more quantity).  But, I’ve been doing more exercise than I expected and I feel like my fitness level is going up overall.  In particular, cycling to school has been a real joy even though I end up sweaty and exhausted in my classes.

This week I hope to finish publishing “The Scrum Master Guide to Choosing a Retrospective” by Jerry Doucett.  I have to re-do some diagrams to get it to work well with the ePub format.  Then, next weekend, I start pottery lessons with my family!  I’m excited to do some sculptural pottery, not just cups and bowls and stuff.

Sabbatical Countdown T-53 Days

I have been approved for a sabbatical by my business partners (Melanie and Travis) and I have most of the needed things in place in our business (www.berteig.com) so that it will thrive while I am away, and I begin a full year sabbatical starting September 4th, 2018!

This has been a long time coming.  I started thinking about a sabbatical at least 6 years ago.  I’ve been over-stressed, over-worked, and going through a lot of both business and personal challenges.  With Melanie, I started the business in 2004.  We had a number of up and down cycles in the business with the latest down cycle ending in 2014.  It’s been solid growth and maturation of the business since then.  We have grown from 5 employees (including partners) to our current 15 employees.  We have established a solid reputation in public training, private training and coaching/consulting work. Our employees know how to run things.

I have also been considering going back to school for many years.  Both my father and my mother went to get Masters degrees in their late 30’s.  I’m in my 40’s and I’m ready to do the same.  I’ve considered an MBA or EMBA, but they don’t appeal to me.  I’ve considered other possibilities related to business such as leadership.  But really what I want to do is Mathematics.  Several months ago, in anticipation of the possibility of a sabbatical, I applied to University of Western Ontario (“Western”) and after a bit of back and forth on my first degree, I was accepted.  Just in the past  two weeks, I have received confirmation that many of my mathematics courses from my first degree will be allowed as alternatives to the normal prerequisites.  So, starting in September, I will be taking two math courses.  One is a second year course and the other is a third year course.  I’m super excited.

I also, and more importantly, will be spending a lot of time with my family.  I’ve been so busy with work that my four kids know me mostly as a worker.  Travelling, late nights in the home office, weekend interruptions, etc.  The cost of running a small, struggling business.  My kids, being that they are human, have various challenges they are facing and I hope to be more involved in helping them face their challenges and overcome them.  Better late than never.  I’m not the dad that I thought I would be (i’ll probably expand on that more later).

So, as I count down towards my sabbatical, I will start documenting here my interests and my passions and my experiences.  Stay tuned for mathematics, family, philosophy, religion, fiction, and all the other things that make up my life as I experience much less work for a year.

Archive Journal Entry: 20030226

Today was a pretty good day. The second day of Ayyam-i-Ha, we had Melanie’s sister, Kristine, their dad, Benny, and his girlfriend, Linda, over for dinner. Melanie made an absolutely fantastic dinner including home-made bread, a great salad, her amazing squash and apple soup, and bruschetta (sp?). The meal was vegitarian, partly for Linda’s benefit. We opened some gifts. Melanie got me the Strictly Ballroom DVD (US$, CA$), one of my all-time favorites. I first watched it at Cory April’s mom’s house in Saskatoon. I’ll have to watch it again very soon 🙂

The other cool thing today was getting together with a bunch of friends from InSystems. I worked there back a little over a year ago from Oct. 2001 to Feb. 2002. Primarily I was working as the software architect for what became their eXterity products. In particular, I worked on their “Magic” authoring product (due to be released at the end of this month). Aparently it has continued to do very well as a project. Anyway, today a bunch of InSystems people came to have lunch with me at an Indian restaurant called Motimahal. The food was good and the company was excellent. It was so heartwarming to see my friends again. A big “THANKS!” to all of you!

Melanie has been reading “The Absorbent Mind” (US$, CA$) by Maria Montessori. She is incredibly inspired by it. I haven’t read it myself, but I certainly hope to!

I have been researching teaching the kids foreign languages. Two nights ago I did a big search for Arabic and Chinese online tutorials. I didn’t find anything amazing, but I did find some beginner material and some source material that I can use to make better stuff. As well, I’ve got to research some language learning methods. In particular, I want to find out more about “The Silent Method” and the “Power-Glide” materials – anyone have any experience with these, please email me. We are planning on teaching French (because Melanie and I know it fairly well), Chinese (because it is part of Melanie’s heritage and we expect our kids will go to China), and Arabic (so that they can read a substantial portion of the Baha’i writings in their original language, e.g. The Hidden Words). As well, the diversity in these languages we hope will improve their thinking skills.

Archive Journal Entry: 20021225

I finally finished the "Liveship Traders" series… WOW! That is one cool series, and it is really neet how it ties in with Robin Hobb‘s previous series. I don’t think I have been so affected so many times by a work of fiction.

I bought a few DVD’s: "Lilo & Stitch", "Monsters, Inc.", "Ice Age", "Monster’s Ball" and "Amelie". I haven’t watched any of them yet on DVD, but I have seen both "Ice Age" and "Monsters, Inc.". My brother recommended "Lilo & Stitch" and I heard from a magazine article about Netflix that "Monster’s Ball" was very well regarded. "Amelie" just intrigues me… I watched "Lilo & Stitch" I loved it. It’s quite the tear-jerker, but then I’m a real sucker for loyalty movies.

Melanie, Justice, Haifa, Alexei and I are all visiting my dad’s family in Fort McMurray, Alberta. We got here on the 20th. We arrived at the Edmonton airport. My dad picked us up at the airport in his Suburban. That was at midnight Ontario time. We then drove for five more hours north of Edmonton to get to Fort McMurray. Suffice it to say, we didn’t get much sleep. Melanie and Haifa both got sicker. Haifa actually has had a pretty bad fever for the last three days (around 39 degrees Celsius). It was mostly better today, but this evening it came back. If it stays bad much longer, we’ll probably take her in to a doctor since she also isn’t drinking as much as she should be.

I’ve looked all over Fort McMurray for a hard drive enclosure. I want to get an enclosure that has both Firewire and USB2.0 so that I can transport a small hard drive between Toronto and Jersey City instead of a heavy laptop. I found one at Staples for CA$149 that is decent, but it is just USB2.0. Still, maybe I’ll get it.

I’m hoping that Melanie, Alexei and dad (Garry) will make an agreement so that Melanie will do work to promote Lex and dad’s careers. Alexei and dad don’t know too much about promotion, and they are particularly blind to the methods when they try to apply them to themselves. I’m hoping that Melanie can spend a couple hours each week for both of them to help do some basic stuff. I’ve got some ideas: apply for grants, look for speaking/exhibition opportunities, work on websites and other marketing materials, do cold-call promotion to corporations, etc. The problem seems to be that Melanie also has no sense of what to do for them. Personally, I don’t think it really matters: an extra few hours a week of almost anything will help 🙂 I hope that I can get involved a little as well. I also hope that she will be able to spend some time working on my business needs such as a web site, looking for side contracts, doing taxes and other paperwork and working on financial management (investing a float).