Posts Tagged ‘Personal’


Have you ever had a dream where you are trying to run, but go nowhere? How about the one where you are stuck in quicksand and feel like the drowning is imminent? That is how my life has felt for the last six months, and unfortunately the realities of being a parent, business owner, a conference organizer, volunteer, etc. overwhelmed me. More like crushed me. It zapped me of something I treasure, which is energy.

I realized this last week as I was talking with people at Southwest Fox. I sat there feeling like a slacker, and not proud of my lack of contributions to things that are most important to me with respect to the communities I participate. Completely burned out. Completely spent.

One of those things is my blog and how it really has not provided much reason for people to include it in their RSS reader, or to stop by on occasion. I provided weak excuses during my sessions why my blog is inactive. Sad.

Not really a good excuse, but Twitter is 140 characters at a time and a blog is real writing and often time consuming. So Twitter more easily gets the mind share. You can follow me on Twitter @rschummer (regardless if you have a Twitter account or not). Twitter is fun, and the community provides me things I need like humor, advice, pointers to things important to me, and most importantly friendship. Twitter does take some time, but Twitter is not a waste of time like most non-tweeters think, at least for me. It is just one more way to feel part of a community and another avenue to share things with peers.

I know Southwest Fox was a real drain on me this year as we worried whether we could provide the same level of awesome as in years past despite the lower attendance numbers. Based on the feedback I believe we succeeded. I should not feel surprised by this as I know there was a lot of hard work by the speakers and organizers, and normally hard work translates into something positive. I think we need to change Southwest Fox a little, but not as much as I thought we would before the conference.

After Southwest Fox I headed up to Sedona. Land of the Red Rocks and land of re-energizing. Something special happens there each year for me. Maybe it is the fact I get some exercise by hiking the trails. Maybe it is the fact I get away from the computer and twist my mind in other directions. Maybe it is the eight hours of sleep each night. Maybe it is the spiritual nature of the area and the vortexes have magical powers over me. Maybe it is a combination of everything. Does not matter really as I return energized and full of new ideas. This year I needed this more than ever, and taking an extra day turned out to be one of the smartest things I decided to do in the last 12 months.

So I am hoping I can get back to blogging more frequently and more regularly. I have a list of things I want to discuss and announce. Some personal, some professional, some volunteer related. All important to me, and hopefully sharing with you will expand the benefits many times over. Thanks for your patience as I get back in the saddle again…


I have a minor in economics and have always found it interesting how economic forces that appear negative for the masses still leave many untouched, and in some cases benefit some who work around and avoid the downturns. Might have to write a white paper some day how I am avoiding the media created recession of 2008. Over the last few months I have been looking for ways to be one of those who avoid the recession. I know, crazy talk if you listen to the so-called experts in the mainstream twisted media. I for one refuse to become a casualty of this economic situation, and so far am winning this battle.

This evening on Twitter I tweeted some of my keys to being successful during these times. I figure that only 10 people will read the tweets, and if I blog about it maybe 10 more might take the time to read.

You will not find sage advice on how to invest or how to survive smaller revenues. I have not had good luck working with investors (bad luck listening to alleged experts, see key #1), and I have no intention to making less money (see key #2). I am once again sharing key strategies of my success, which some people think is nuts (see key #4). Please be advised, your mileage might vary, and take it for what it is worth (free).

  • Key numero uno – most pundits are full of themselves and advice should be avoided. Same for elitists and extremists.
  • Key numero dos – know how to duck when morons throw shoes at you, and know how to laugh about it afterwards. Translate: avoid negative people.
  • Key numero tres – Be willing to take on work no one else wants to touch. Finding a niche funds growth and builds loyalty in customer base.
  • Key numero quattro – something learned in Kindergarten: share. Sharing with others helps promote good will that lasts a lifetime, good karma.
  • Key numero cinco – positive thoughts, positive results.
  • Key numero seis – surround yourself with good, genuine, and smart people.

Sure these are more zen-like than solid things you can add to your to-do list, but that is how I work. Take a view that is higher and visionary and work down. I am sure you can take each one of these keys and build to-do list items that will move you forward. These to-do items will be specific to your situation and environment.

Key #5 has served me well over the years and is one that negative people hate. “It never works” – if you believe this you are correct. I prefer to work the opposite way. These are words I repeat all the time. Hope you enjoyed some initial thoughts on how I am planning to live above the recession experienced by others. I look forward to hearing other ideas too.

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Just in case you are not one of the 3 people who follow me on Twitter, I have a new Web site. If you need to blame someone for something you did or want to avoid the responsibility, please check out the newest social Web site:

Just in time for election day, a new week of the job grind, or just living everyday life.

And for the record, it could be: BlameITonRick (IT as in Information Technology), but we want the non-geeks to have a place to shirk responsibility too. {g}

The site is all cutting edge Web 1.0, with hints on where it will go next. All the important details are found on the About page on my newest technical experiment.

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This blog post is not about politics, but it does have a political tone because of the parties involved and my observation of a blown chance by the media to do some good for once. This is a critical statement on the mass media, not on any of the political candidates involved. For the record: I have respect for all four presidential and vice-presidential nominees. Further for the record: I believe the race is about the individuals and how they will lead our country, not about their individual family members. And lastly for the record: I am tired of hearing about this election, just give everyone a ballot Friday morning. {g}

I should have expected the news media to miss a great opportunity, but deep down I was hoping the media would have picked up on the issue of amazing parents raising children who are affected by the genetic condition of trisomy. In the case of Sarah and Todd Palin, their son Trig has trisomy-21 most commonly referred to as Down syndrome. Instead the media decides to drill into the pregnancy of their daughter Bristol.

Parents who have trisomy children face a slew of medical decisions and situations that I believe pale most challenges any parents face, including pre-marriage pregnancy. How would I know? Our son Paul was born 12 years ago with trisomy-18 (less commonly known as Edwards syndrome). Trisomy 21 and 18 are fundamentally the same thing, but significantly different results. Down syndrome children often live long somewhat normal lives. Trisomy 18 children have what the doctors described to us as a “life-incompatible” condition. No matter though, raising any trisomy child has its challenges and stresses.

Each time I see parents with trisomy children I recall the sleepless nights, the fights with the nurses and doctors, the give-comfort vs. extending life decisions, and putting a feeding tube down my son’s throat hoping I was reaching the stomach and not his lung. I believe we averaged less than 4 hours of sleep a night in the two months Paul was here. Our time with Paul is the reason my favorite movie quote is from Hans Solo in The Empire Strikes Back:

Han Solo: Never tell me the odds. (in response to C-3PO’s statement: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1)

Each time we met with genetic doctors they explained the odds of survival to us. Same with the heart doctors (Paul’s heart effectively had three chambers instead of the four because of a huge ventricular septal defect (VSD)). The amount of stress it put on us did not kill us, so it only made us stronger, and *more* compassionate and understanding.

In the case of Joe Biden, the media focused on how great a dad Biden is for traveling hours each way to and from Washington. My hat is off to Mr. Biden for the choices he as made to provide the best life he could for his family. I feel this is further proof that the media is very biased and is working very hard to lean one way in their influence on all elections. Sickening.

I only have the highest respect for this family. It matters not to me that they are Republican or Democrat, caucasian or martian. They are human, earthlings just like the rest of us with real world problems. I am more amazed how this family decided with everything going on in their lives, that serving their country is something important too. I am not so sure too many other people on this planet would accept this challenge, yet have time to criticize the way they are raising their family.


White Light Computing is relocating…temporarily.

Our home is 13 years old and needs a makeover in many ways. We have done a little here and there, but starting three businesses got way of the cash flow over the years and we kept putting it off. Over the holidays I convinced my wife we need to make some changes to the family room furniture which is a mismatch of hand me downs and some couches we bought 15 years ago. This means we need to paint too, and when we moved the old furniture out we decided new carpet has to be ordered. One little change like this always snowballs.

The White Light Computing world headquarters is right next to the family room, so the carpet decision impacts the business. My office is jammed with stuff, computers everywhere and enough wire to probably circle the globe once. The last time the office was torn apart was when I started White Light Computing four years ago and it was painful.

We ordered the furniture in January, and I started working on the drywall repairs in spare time normally when I am thinking through a design or need to work out a bug. This slowed the progress and we decided to hire a painter so I could keep focused on the clients. Yesterday the painter called us and said he can show up *now* so I had to tear apart the office. I figured it was going to take two weekend days to tear apart the office and relocate it to the dining room (an acquisition not easily negotiated with Therese {g}). So instead of a month long project, this will all be done by Wednesday next week (paint, carpet, and furniture delivery). This pleases the project manager (Therese) because she now has hired workers who are not sluffing off pretending to write code all day.

I was seriously dreading tearing apart the office, but now that it is done I feel better because it gives me a chance to better organize the layout of the furniture and discard some stuff I no longer need in my life. Still, this is a nightmare come true. Time to get back to work.


Sorry for the long absence from the blogosphere.

I am digging out of a huge backlog of customer work, recovering from a neck full of unaligned vertebrates (literally a pain in the neck) from a slip on the ice, working on some long avoided home improvements because of neglect, assorted hardware problems, wrapping up some to-do items for Southwest Fox 2007, working with conference center for next year, tiding up the office, and the inevitable onslaught of the holidays.

Heck, I have not even had time to setup the new Vista laptop that arrived a few weeks back. I did however connect my new Dell 24 inch LCD monitor (yes it is very sweet and highly recommended if you need extra light in the office {bg})!

I am also working on some cool new things for the Fox Community (more coming in the next blog post).

Happy New Year to all. I wish each of you a very healthy, extraordinary, and extremely prosperous 2008 with your favorite developer tools and environment, what ever platform you have chosen. Fox Rocks!


Twenty years ago today I became a father when our oldest son was born in the middle of the night (2:56 am). We were very young and married for only 10 months. We were broke because we bought a house when we got married. Each of us were working full time, and trying to establish ourselves in the world.

Therese called me at 4:00 in the afternoon on a Friday and asked me not to work late because she thought she might be experiencing labor pains. It was one of those weeks where I was more than happy to come home because I worked a lot of hours on a tough project hoping to meet some deadline before our new baby arrived. I was ready for my week long “vacation” (there was no such thing as paternity leave back then).

It was a nice warm day so we were able to take a short walk when I got home. We followed the instructions given to us by the doctor and waited to the contractions to get 10 minutes apart before heading to the hospital at 10:30. Sure enough the admissions people pushed us right up to the maternity ward and hooked Therese up to the contraction monitor machine. Captain Obvious (me) noted on several occasions when the contractions were starting, something I never mentioned to Therese during the other three births {g}.

During the contractions I watched the heartbeat of our son and how it would go from 120 to 60 beats per minute during the peak of a contraction. During one of the hard contractions I watched the heartbeat go flat line. So I did what any good husband would do, I panicked and screamed for the nurse who then calmly called out Stat-something or another, Code-something or another. I sat in a chair at the foot of the bed as a crew of doctors and nurses rushed the room (just like on the TV show ER or Grey’s Anatomy) calling out different observations and making guesses as to what was going wrong. They hooked up a probe to my son’s head to get more accurate readings. I felt myself passing out (not good with blood or bad medical news) so I put my head between my legs. At least I remembered proper first aid {g}. Sure enough the monitor was bad and needed to be replaced. So all night long I got hammered by every nurse and doctor as the dad who could not keep it together. I never passed out, but I did require some orange juice to keep it together. As you can see, my hatred for hardware even goes to the extent of the hospital equipment. Chris was born and was healthy (a blessing we took for granted). The doctor had some fun by letting loose blood from the umbilical cord. It splattered all over the very clean delivery room.

The next day I got to change my first diaper ever with my mom looking over my shoulder. I handled it like I had done two or three before. Today I could probably change one in my sleep as I have done so many times over the years. Actually it has been more than 10 years since I have changed one, but I am guessing it is like riding a bike. The key with boys as we learned the day we got home is to cover them up when you take off the old diaper. Twice on the first day we got to witness the fountain of urine {g}.

I have learned a lot about being a father in the last twenty years and know I have a lot to learn in the next twenty years. Today is another one of those chapters as my oldest daughter goes to her Senior Prom tonight. Now where did I store that Super Soaker? (not much into carrying a real gun around {g}). Actually the young man taking my daughter to the Prom is a nice guy and I figure this night should be no different than any other date they have been on except it is costing them a small fortune.

So Therese and I will celebrate our parenthood by taking a ton of pictures, calling Chris to wish him a happy birthday, and then going out to dinner. It will be much different than twenty years ago, but one thing will be consistent: I am exhausted after a long week of work trying to meet a deadline (but today is only Wednesday).


I shipped an alpha release this morning after working like a dog yesterday to solve a half dozen deployment issues and a huge crasher bug I found when testing yesterday. Yes, I was working like a dog. Or so I thought…

Then this afternoon I was reminded by my dog that I was working like a nutty human. The moment I realized I was not working like a dog is the moment I heard her snoring at my feet in the middle of the afternoon while I was coding like a crazy man.

I reserve the right to rethink this, but maybe in my next life I can come back as a dog who gets to sleep all the time between the moment I scare the ducks and squirrels out of the backyard, and when I take time to train the humans to throw me a rubber toy. What a life she has going these days.