Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Well, I put this web site in the family Christmas letter. I'm wondering if any family and friends will actually make it out here? If so, did you enjoy Traven's letter?

Out here in the cyber land, I can give you all the details on the family, and not incur additional ink, paper and postage costs!

I switched jobs from Novell to the LDS Church back in April. It has been a bumpy ride. I went from no structure to way too much structure. It takes an act of congress around this place to get anything done now. The layers of management are mind boggling, and there are too many people trying to build their own little kingdoms. Thankfully, I have some good buddies I work and commute with, so they help the pain somewhat. And all in all, I have found happiness in my new employment.

I've also really enjoyed my other jobs. Being a husband and father is awesome. I am definitely happiest with my family. I have also enjoyed working with the scouts and spending extra time with Jason. It'll be sad when he turns 14 and leaves the troop in May. I don't know if I'll be around when Traven hits the troop!

Lori still does some part time work for Kids Who Count. It works out well to help pay for Kaylee's tuition at BYU. Lori works when Kaylee can watch Traven. That way, we get the money coming in without putting T in day care.

Kaylee had a rocky summer semester at college, but is doing great now. It was a culture shock to go into those first year BYU classes where there are hundreds of students. She is in the groove now, though. She has also climbed the corporate ladder at Western Watts, and is pretty near the top of the office now.

Braden earned his Eagle award this year, despite the apparent goal of the local leaders trying to do everything they can to keep boys from getting it done. Ridiculous. I hate it when people focus on roles and rules and not on the end result. But I digress. That happens a lot.

Back to Braden - also completed the St. George marathon this year, participated on the track team and seems to just love life. He has learned some about dating - asking him about dating the twins if you see him. Oh, and Braden is in 11th grade at Maple Mountain High. And he works with Kaylee at Watts.

Jason was delighted to get a dog for his birthday. He spends a lot of time with Buddy. He played football again this year, and has the potential to dominate the line of scrimmage once he muscles up some more. Ok, he is already stronger than me, but that's not saying much. He is in 8th grade now, and doing awesome. If I could just get him to get his room clean!

Alyssa is the social butterfly of the family. Maybe that just comes with being a 6th grade girl? I get a lot of calls, asking if so-and-so can come over. She is a lot of fun. Her friends are amusing as well. Alyssa had two great soccer teams this last year, and is excited for basketball season. Speaking of which, I think this is the first time in 10 years I am not coaching! I am also WAY excited for the season, and to just be a loud, obnoxious parent and not a coach!

That leaves us with Traven. He is two, and is so much fun. He is also a great, big turkey! He can be loving one moment, then an absolute beast the next. He makes us all laugh, and I think he has made us all cry. Usually from pain. Man, that boy can use his head like a lethal weapon. He is an athletic wonder, loves to jump and run, and loves playing any type of ball.

Anyway, that's a bit more of the boring details on the life of the Elquist family!


Monday, November 02, 2009

Things I've done at work that don't suck

Since I fear this will come up someday and I'll have to defend my work accomplishments, I am going to start jotting them down here so they are convenient to get to and I can update them on the fly.

1. Bundles 33 - 34. Went in faster than any other bundles / bi-monthly release ever has.
2. RAC. My project time line was awesome. I also worked to get a SOW from Quest for their Shareplex product.
3. Windows patching. I worked with the server team to get anti-virus software installed on our servers, and worked out a patching schedule with them. I also wrote a Windows script to be used to check if the job is running PeopleSoft jobs, then reboot it when it is free.
4. Monitoring. I worked to reduce some unneeded alerts we were getting, and also worked to set up some new ones for the database servers.
5. Phire. I stepped in and helped get the project done. I also worked to get the dev environment up and running with 4 VM instances.
6. Oracle security. Worked with Tony and others to research ways to lock our environment down more.
7. I have excelled at covering the duty phone, handling the remedy queue, etc.
8. As far as the training I went to, the others that have been to the same training did not come back with all sorts of ideas either. The class is what it is.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Flying to Albuquerque

I recently learned several things you don't want to see or hear when flying.

First off, when you are waiting for your plane to arrive at the gate, it's not comforting to see that the airline can't even run the digital status board, but has written your flight information on a large white paper and taped it to the screen. This seemed a bit odd to me.

Later, just after the plane has taken off, the pilot decides we need a thorough debriefing on our flight. I realized a pilot can indeed share too much information. He proceeds to tell us that our flight was delayed, because our original plane had mechanical issues. Also, he throws in this little tidbit - the navigation system on the plane is out, so we are doing things the old fashioned way. Excuse me? I'd rather not know my life is in the hands of a pilot with no electronic navigation and we are in a hand-me-down aircraft?

It was scheduled to be an hour and a half long flight, but 50 minutes into the flight the pilot announces we are beginning our descent. Apparently when you have a loaner plane and aren't hampered by that obnoxious navigation system, you can really put the hammer down and see what that plane can do. Once we were safely on the ground, I had the urge to kneel down and kiss the ground. This was an unusual flight, to say the least!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Family vacation 2009

The weather - awesome.
The crowds - thin and few in number.
The trip - great!

We left on Friday after I got home from work. Long ago, I decided I prefer to make the California trip over two days. It costs more, but making the drive in one day is exhausting. We arrived early enough in St. George that I had time to drive out and say hello to my parents. That seemed like a good way to start the trip. That night, Braden and I did some speed work on a local running trail. The next morning, we had an over-priced, poor quality breakfast at JBs, then we made the trek down to Anaheim.

The last two times, we have stayed at the Staybridge Suites. I highly recommend them. It's about a mile away from Disneyland, but the accommodations are clean and nice, the breakfast is a good quality and for us, having 3 beds plus a sofa bed is awesome. This night, Braden and I went for a longer run through the streets around Disneyland. I'm pretty sure we strayed where we shouldn't have, but it was one of the best runs I've had lately. We cruised for about 5 miles.

Sunday was our first day in the park. We decided to start with California Adventure. Grandma mentioned that Soarin' Over California is her favorite ride, so we started with that. Man, I love that ride. I always feel just a bit emotional when it starts. I know that's silly, but hey, that's me I guess. We hit most of the major rides in the park, then moved over to Disneyland and watched the fireworks show.

Monday we were off to Universal Studios. I loved the new Simpsons ride. They crack me up. I should also mention that Traven was actually very good this trip. He had a bit of a hard time not being able to get down and run around like he likes, and he was a bit of a bear when he got too tired, but all in all he had a great time.

Tuesday we spent in Disneyland, then Wednesday we sort of just hit the spots we wanted to again and took in a few shows. It is a lot of fun vacationing with Glenn and Allison, along with their kids, and also with Grandma and Grandpa and Jeremy and Emily. It's interesting to see the different personalities play out, interact and sometimes have a bit of conflict.

I should mention two funny, embarrassing moments from this trip. First, we had a load of our family on It's a Small World, and we managed to get our boat stuck. We had to off load, then shamefully parade back to the front of the ride to board another boat. I mean, they just had the ride shut down for months to fix it up for fat people, and we broke the thing! Then, on Roger Rabbit, Lori managed to break that one down all by herself. It turns out that, if you don't board as quickly as they need you to, the ride shuts down. Actually, she was just trying to get Traven on board, but we still tease that it was all her fault.

Thursday was our journey down to San Diego. Everyone slept the whole trip, well except me! We then went straight to the zoo. The zoo was a lot of fun, but sadly Glenn and Allison's vehicle was burglarized while we were in the zoo. That put a damper on things. I feel very badly for them. Glenn also got a speeding ticket on the way down, so it was not the best of vacations for him.

Friday we spent at Sea World. Traven loved the shows. He was so sad when one would end, so we would have to find some more as quick as possible. This is the day he really wore down, and pretty much just wanted his Daddy to haul him around. I was sore and exhausted by the end of the day, but I really didn't mind.

In 2010, the new water show will open up in California Adventure, and then in 2011 the Little Mermaid ride will open. Sweet! And Kaylee, Jeremy and Grandma stayed late one night and saw a preview of the new fireworks show starting soon. They loved it.

That's pretty much the story of our trip. Saturday we drove up to Las Vegas, and Sunday evening we were home. All in all, it was a great trip. Kaylee starts college in a couple of weeks, so I really wanted to have one last family vacation while we could. It gets harder and harder the older the kids get to find time to do things together.

Monday, April 27, 2009

When did I become so old?

Saturday, I watched as Kaylee's prom date picked her up, and helped Braden get ready and then watched as he left for his first prom date. Kaylee graduates from high school next month, Braden will be a junior and Jason will be at the junior high. Even my two babies are getting old. Alyssa will hit the 6th grade now, and Traven will be into the terrible twos. Well, he is there already, but that's a different story.

Time just flies by now. It terrifies me. If it continues to go by faster and faster the older I get, I'm just about done already! I guess the secret is to enjoy each day and make the most of your time. With my new job up in Salt Lake, I feel more isolated from my family, so I try to make the most of each evening and especially the weekends. I'm also happy about this occasional swing shift thing we have going on. Today for instance, I don't go into the office. I work remotely from 2:00 pm - 10:00 pm. I like the notion of that.

I ran a half marathon last Saturday, so physically I guess I'm doing ok. Of course, I've whined about the pain and soreness for a week now, so maybe not.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Reflecting Back

As I am on the brink of making a change in employment, it has caused me to do some serious soul searching. I've been with Novell for close to 12 years now. I find this very fitting. I see a lot of parallels between my high school education and my time at Novell.

I came to Novell back in 1997. I had tried several times to get some type of job there. I was working up in Salt Lake up by the zoo, and felt overworked and under paid. When I interviewed with BJ Murray, she was in need of a Sybase database administrator, and I had Sybase on my resume. I was so happy when she offered me a job. It was honestly a dream come true.

Within about the first week of employment, I received my first assignment. It was to help out with terminating accounts and locking out users as Novell did a massive layoff. This became a theme of working for Novell - speculating about layoffs, hoping they didn't affect any close friends or neighbors, then trying to carry on after the carnage.

My first major assignment was to support the Vantive databases used by support. My first rollout was a disaster, and the entire system was down for hours. Looking back, I realize my manager probably had to fight to keep me from being fired. I have since sent her a thank-you note!

I remember Kent and Kevin talking like Beavis and Butthead and playing air guitar to Collective Soul playing on Kevin's sound system. I remember Clint being the quiet Oracle guy who sat back out of the way.

I remember doing tape rotatations as part of oncall, and also producing the morning database report that went out via voice mail.

I met Gary at Weinerschitzel, when Kent wanted to meet him for lunch. This was when G was thinking about coming back to Novell. I had no idea the history and drama behind all of that!

Scott was a Unix guy when I joined the group. His baptism by fire into the database world was on the financials project.

I'm quite sure I will never find another Terry Wong. He is awesome and always entertaining.

Many extremely talented, great people passed through the group. Stan, Bill, Greg, Clint and Skip all were great managers. Of course, they all spent time at Novell doing things other than managing the database group. Ginger, Aaron, Barb, Tom and Randy all did the dba thing at some point. We had times when the group included non database people, such as Nicole, the apps group and the web group.

I'm sure I've missed some people, but I wanted to at least attempt listing off some of them.

I took on support of HR, and then the web group. This proved to be too much, so I transitioned Vantive and nts to Gary, and eventually HR over to others.

The web thing evolved from our preliminary one Oracle instance running on a Solaris Veritas cluster to hundreds of MySQL databases, dozens of Oracle instances, PostgreSQL and more.

I went from just Sybase to working with about a half dozen different database platforms. I came into Novell with experience writing Rexx scripts on OS/2. Since then, I've learned about Perl, Netbasic, awk, sed, bash shell and many other utilities.

I've worked on many different operating systems. I've learned to write my own web utilities. It has been quite a ride.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Confusion of the Ordinary Man

I have many thoughts racing through my mind, and need to get them down and try to sort things out.

First, I should state I was not supportive of either of the major parties Presidential candidates in 2008. It saddened me that they both felt the same to me. When the one who campaigned on "change" was elected, I was terrified, but tried to be optimistic.

Now, it seems the change we are presented with is a growing national debt and an erosion of our liberties. Taxes are certain to go up, as we are crushed by a debt we cannot possibly pay back.

I see Bank of America, failing due to bad loans, being rescued by a multi billion dollar bailout, then told that the majority of that bailout money should go towards more loans. Huh? Isn't that what put them in a failing position in the first place?

I see "universal" health care has managed to creep into the bailout legislation. Ask anyone in Canada how well that has worked out for them.

Of course, the "green" movement / global warming paranoia is still being milked for all its worth. Have you heard about the smart power grid, with the all seeing smart chip? If that goes forward, the government will be able to see what you are using power for, and will be able to regulate how much you use. That's what I need. Someone telling me I can't have two TVs on in my house at one time.

We closed Gitmo, and are limiting how are military can interrogate and detain prisoners of war. I'm sorry, but if you are threatening to kill Americans, then I could care less what the military does with you. You go to war with us, you deserve what you get. How many of you are excited about having prisoners of war sitting in the continental United States, in prisons you and I pay for, being represented in our court system?

I don't know if any of you have checked into what is happening south of our border, but it is frightening. It seems to me Mexico is on the verge of collapse. Are we going to be bailing them out as well?

I haven't checked on the 2nd amendment lately, but I would assume it is in trouble as well. I also hear talk about infringements on our right to speak out on whatever subject we please. Nice.

I am just an ordinary, very simple man. But it seems to me that in a short amount of time, we are going to be taxed at an unreasonable rate, we will have our freedom of speech and our 2nd amendments rights either severely limited or removed. We will be told how we can use power and how much, and we will be told what medical treatments we may or may not receive. We will have terrorists sitting in our back yard, being fed and sheltered by our dollars. We will be saddled with a national debt that we cannot afford, and the very thing that drives the economy, businesses, will be controlled in large part by a government that does not appear to be expert in handling the management of finances.

How do we fix this? What can we do to stop this downward spiral in which we are caught? I really don't know. Many great societies have come and gone upon the earth. I hope our time is not up already.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vehicles I've owned

Here, for no apparent reason or request, is a list of vehicles I have owned. I just had this random thought that it would be fun to list them all out. Here we go!

1. 1970 Buick Skylark. Engine head cracked.
2. 1974 Chrysler New Yorker. Tranny went out.
3. 1974 Ford Gran Torino. Sold.
4. Some really small Datsun. It was Lori's when we were married. Abandoned in Logan, as it could not make it up and out of the valley!
5. 1984 Ford Tempo. Engine head cracked. Gave to my brother in law Larry.
6. Ford Probe. Sold to my brother in law Glen, who wrecked it.
7. Ford Escort. Traded in on next car.
8. Ford Taurus. Traded in on next car.
9. Ford Windstar. Traded in on next car.
10. Ford Expedition. Leased vehicle.
11. Ford Windstar. Traded in on next vehicle.
12. 2002 Chevrolet Suburban. Traded in on next vehicle.
13. 2007 Chevrolet Suburban.
14. Pontiac Grand Prix. Traded this for concrete work at our house.
15. 1973 Chevrolet Pickup. Traded this for a PlayStation 2.
16. 1999 Ford Taurus.
17. 2008 Ford Escape.
18. 2009 Honda Civic.
19. 2000 Plymouth Neon.
20. 2010 Ford F150.

So, if I've been driving since I was 16, that'd put my total driving years at 25. Subtract 2 for my mission years, so total driving years would be 23. I'm averaging a changed in automobiles about every 1.3 years. The 1999 Taurus is the record holder for longest stay. I've had it for 11 years now, and it's still just purring along.

Update - Braden totaled my Taurus. It had a good run. Rust in peace my friend.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cory Hunter memories

Recently, I noted my two oldest children spending a lot of time on Facebook. I decided it would be a good idea if I checked it out, so I created me an account and started looking around. Within moments, I was hooked. I found old classmates from Morgan High, former coworkers and former neighbors. It was a lot of fun.

I started wondering, who else might I know on Facebook? I noticed one of my good friends was a member of a group from his lds mission, so I checked and found two groups for me (I served under two different presidents).

Now, I must confess I am horrible with names, and most of the people in the groups did not sound familiar. But I remembered Elder Hunter had married a former sister missionary, and I saw an entry for Becky. I wasn't sure if it was his wife, so I googled her name. What I found was shocking. Elder Hunter had passed away back in 2007.

I went through a range of emotions. Firstly, I was shocked. He was so young, so energetic. How could this happen? I felt ashamed for not keeping in touch with him. He was one of my favorite companions, and I had done nothing to keep in touch. I felt concern, wondering how his family was dealing with this loss.

Now, I mainly want to put down some memories of him. Honestly, I'm not sure why, but it just feels like the thing to do.

Hunter and I became companions when I was 22 months into my mission. He was the perfect, inspired choice for me. I was feeling run down and tired, and his enthusiasm was contagious. I was the zone leader A, but in truth he was A+. He gave me a renewed drive to finish strong which I did not think possible. Most of journal entries reflect this. He truly was an inspiration.

One funny memory I have is of an experience with a lady named Roseanne. We had been teaching her for weeks, and things were going well. In fact, she was close to baptism. We had invited her to an activity at the church one night. I don't recall the activity, but I recall her insisting she needed to talk to Hunter alone. Since we were in the church, we figured this would be ok. They went into the kitchen, and I stood outside the door.

Well, it turns out she wanted to confess her love for him. She chased him around the kitchen, trying to steel a kiss or a hug. When she finally abandoned her plan and left, he was an absolute wreck. It was probably just minutes, but he looked like he had been working out for hours!

I also recall an entry he made in my journal. It was addressed to my future children. He bore a quick testimony and urged them to listen to their father. It was not a long entry, but it shows his thoughtfulness and foresight.

I remember him having such a strong testimony and an ability to relate to others. He had a way of reaching all. He was a great leader, and really took our zone to new heights.

One particular young lady had been investigating the church for months. She had been taught by numerous missionaries. There was nothing we could teach her that would help her make the decision to be baptized. We bore plain and simple testimony to her, and eventually she chose to be baptized. I think it was due to the way Elder Hunter could reach people, the way he knew what to say.

He truly was a great missionary. He turned the last two months of my mission into two of the most productive. There simply was no way you could not be enthused around him. Every day was filled with a desire to work hard and do your best.

I regret not knowing Cory's family, and for not staying in touch with him over the years. He truly was a great young man when I knew him, and I am sure he left behind a lasting legacy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

2009 St. George half marathon

Some time last year, Braden announced he wanted to run a marathon. This must have been shortly after Wasatch Back, when he was really pumped about running. This caused me a bit of concern. I have sworn off marathons after each one I've done, and my last announcement had been that the only way I'd ever do another one was if one of my children wanted to do one with me. I quickly measured my options in my mind, and concluded that maybe if we did a half marathon together, that might be enough to cure him of this idea.

I signed us up for the Painters half marathon. I had done that one before, and it's kind of fun to have somewhere to run in January. Plus we could roll in a visit to the family down south as well.

The problem turned out to be training. It has been bitter cold up home, and when it hasn't been too cold it has been too wet and too snowy. Apparently, due to the economy or something, Spanish Fork city has vowed to never plow a city street again. Plus with Braden, Jason and Alyssa all playing basketball, and me having been lured into coaching again, there just wasn't enough time to train properly. Braden and I both arrived at the start line unprepared.

Thankfully, the Painters half has grown in popularity. It has been renamed to the St. George Half, and the number of runners continues to grow. I enjoy running with lots of runners, as the odds of my finishing dead last go down as more runners join in.

I knew this would be my slowest half ever. Having accepted that reality from the start helped. I settled into my marathon / survival pace of around 10:30 minutes per mile, and off I went. I ran the first 3 miles to the first aid station, took off my ear muffs and gloves, took some water, then ran to the first hill. I also knew that if I attempted to power up the hills I would never make it, so I power walked up the first big one and took the opportunity to enjoy some yummy energy cubes.

I ran again, this time to the next water station. I was feeling pretty good at this point. I was able to run to the next aid station as well and took 3 more cubes. This was now about 8 miles in. At this point, the race climbs around Bloomington in St. George. It looked to be about a half mile climb, so I walked this one as well. Once it leveled off, I started running again. Even though it was now downhill, I could feel an all too familiar sensation starting to form in my legs. It's as if they start to tell me, hey, we've had enough! I also had to take a few minutes to get out of my long sleeve running shirt at this time. I realize this does not sound too difficult, but keep in mind I have a hat, sunglasses, Ipod, Garmin, gloves, earmuffs and more to keep track of! It probably took me a good 5 minutes to switch shirts.

I shuffled into the last aid station, and this time slammed down two waters and a gatorade. I was now 2.5 miles out from the finish line, looking at a very flat to slightly uphill finish. This was going to hurt. I entered into another form of marathon survival, which consists basically of a walk fast / run slow combination. Once I could see the finish line, I had enough adrenaline going to finish off strong. Plus, the Last of the Mohicans main track popped up on my Ipod, followed immediately by some Hollywood Undead!

Lori and the kids were there, plus Eric, Sally, Jeremy and Emily, plus my sister Charlotte. I said hello, grabbed some water, then started searching for Braden. I eventually started walking back up the trail, and found him coming in about a half mile out. I encouraged him and kept him company, and got him back to where he could finish it off.

I am so proud of him for finishing. The poor guy hadn't ran more than 5 miles in months, so going 13.1 was quite a feat for him.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Traven's latest health adventure

You'll note several things about the picture. First off, Traven is wearing a breathing treatment mask. That's never a good thing. Second, it's dark outside, I am dressed and T is still in his pajamas. That is a bit odd as well. Third, I'm wearing my Seahawks jersey, even though they have been out of the playoff picture for weeks.

As most of you know, at one month of age Traven spent a month in Primary Children's hospital battling whooping cough. He made it through, but the long term consequences were unknown. The plan was to see how things went. He actually had a pretty safe spring, summer and fall, and at least for my part I thought we were free and clear.

Around Christmas, T started showing symptoms of a cold. It kept getting worse, and when we took him on the 2nd of January, we found out he had pneumonia, plus a double ear infection. We love him, but he is by far the crankiest sick person you will ever meet. He can't sleep through the night - the poor guy is so congested and hurting. It has been an adventure in patience and sleep deprivation. I feel blessed to have a flexible job that allows me to work from home sometimes, so I've been able to help take care of him.

For the breathing treatments, he has been amazingly well behaved. We put on a movie for him - either on my laptop or on the tv. He love Little Einstens, and will just sit there the whole time for the treatment.

Hopefully, as he gets older, his body will strengthen and he will be able to stay a bit healthier. Either that or we are moving somewhere much warmer!

Goals for the New Year

This is the time of year when many of us pause for reflection and make goals to better ourselves during the coming year. I like this custom, and also believe in the rule that a goal not written and shared is simply a wish. So here, for all your reading pleasure / boredom, are some of my goals for this year!

1. Switch up my exercise routine. Honestly, my body has learned all it needs to know about my running routine. I need to add in some cross training and other activities to shake things up. Since a goal should be specific, let's make this one be run 3 times a week, strength train 3 times a week, and cross train twice a week. The running will consist of one speed workout, one hills workout and one distance run.

2. Step up my spiritual exercise. Let's make this one simple as well. I'll say 30 minutes of some sort of reading or research each day.

3. Family reading. This is another simple one. The goal will be 10 minutes a day of reading as a family.

4. Nutrition. Man, I love to eat. I love to eat way too much. I hate to get bogged down in details with this one, but I'll set a goal of one serving per meal and no late night snacks. If I can stick to this goal for a year, I will be amazed myself!

I think 4 simple goals shared with the world should be enough for me for 2009!