kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Wow. What can I say about 2012?

I've been meaning to post updates for awhile now, but whenever I sit down to write, invariably something happens that takes my attention away. But, right now, sitting at the in-laws house, seems as good a time as ever to review just what an amazing year 2012 was.

Even if nothing else of note happened in 2012, it would be a great year for no other reason than ...

1. The birth of my daughter Scarlett.


Little Scarlett, hours after her birth.

I always wondered what kind of parent I would make. I guess I'm going to find out now. In the process, we encountered frustration, joy, sadness, terror and every range of emotion you can possibly imagine.

Around July of last year, Sarah and I decided that the time was right for us to expand our family, and we started trying for a little one. Frankly, after spending nearly a year trying for a baby, I'm honestly stumped at how anyone accidentally gets pregnant. There was testing, planning, and all kinds of craziness before we finally got he word at the end of March, just two weeks after FWA, that Sarah was pregnant.

A few months later, we found out that our little mass of dividing cells was going to be a little girl. In all honesty, a part of me was hoping for a little boy, but those thoughts immediately went out the window nearly instantly. However, it took us nearly until October to actually pick a name for the little one. In the meantime, we had a scare when the doctor found some abnormalities on her ultrasound and sent us to Birmingham for a more detailed test. Something to do with brain cysts. Thankfully, that turned out to be nothing.

Over the course of the pregnancy, I realized what amazing friends we have. Sarah had no less than 3 baby showers, 2 of which were thrown by our church. We received gifts of almost everything we would need to raise a baby. I literally think we spent less than $500 on baby things.

So Sarah grew and grew with child over the course of the summer and fall (while we moved, see next point), until her due date was upon us. And as her due date passed with no movement, we made the decision to induce her. I will spare you the graphic play by play of the birth process; suffice it to say that I saw way more of it than I was expecting or really wanting to see. The highlights were: about 12 hours of labor but only about 30 minutes of "active" labor, the maximum allowed dose of pitocin (the drug they use to induce).

Finally, at 7:23pm on November 27th, Scarlett Rose entered the world measuring 19 inches and weighing 7 pounds 8 ounces. And after a few days' stay in the hospital, we returned home with our little girl. And over the course of the next month, we had a virtual revolving door in our house of guests. Grandparents, great-grandparents, family and friends all came to see Scarlett. People from church baked us meals as we learned how to live with our new little addition.

The first few weeks were really rough. At one point, one night she was in a diaper less than 5 minutes before needing to be changed again. We've also had a running battle with baby gas. And I love my daughter, but holy shit her farts can peel the paint of walls.

However, I realize now that we've been blessed to have a pretty non-fussy baby. She doesn't complain or cry a lot, doesn't mind people holding her, and sleeps pretty well, usually only waking because she needs to eat or be changed (at least, when mom and dad can keep her awake during the day!). Heck, last night she slept nearly 6 hours before finally waking. At this point, I think we have a pretty good system in place.

Just a few of the things about parenthood I've learned in the last month:
  • Something so little needs an amazing amount of stuff. Cribs, bassinets, changing tables, pack and plays, diaper bags, all manner of things. For overnight trips Sarah and I can usually get away with a small bag, but Scarlett needs an entire trunk of stuff.

  • Doing anything with a child, even something as simple as running out for 15 minutes to grab a sandwich, requires careful planning and execution. When was the last time she was changed and fed? How much time do we think we have until the next feeding or changing? We've been living the last month in 3 hour increments.

    We finally purchased a breast pump a few weeks ago. With that we were able to get a bottle of food for her and were able to leave her with a grandparent while Sarah and I went to see The Hobbit. This has given us a little bit more flexibility to break out of that 3 hour cycle.
But most importantly, I learned that, while I still can't stand other peoples' kids, I sure do love my own. The weight of having to do a good job raising her is really there. I really hope I'm up to the task.

2. Sold and bought houses and built a garage.


In front of our new house.
 

About June, we made a big decision: it was time to move.

Honestly, it was not something I was looking to do. It would have to happen eventually, but I was hoping I could punt the ball downfield a little ways and not have to worry about it for a few years. But finally, in July, when we had a living room full of baby stuff and no where to walk, we finally had to face reality that we were going to have to move.

So it was with a great deal of sadness that we put the home I bought back in 2007 on the market and started looking for a new place to live. We looked at all kinds of places in Madison (we wanted to stay in Madison City Schools), but finally settled on a house what was far bigger than what I was intending to purchase but was such a good deal that we couldn't walk away from it.

Our new home is a nearly 3,400 square foot home in central Madison. It was the model home for the neighborhood, so it features many upgraded amenities like a jacuzzi tub, granite countertops, tankless hot water heater, music system and many others.

The downside? It didn't have a garage. In this house, the area that was a garage in the floor plan had been finished in as office space for use while the builder was constructing the neighborhood. We liked that space because it added a large amount of square footage to the house, so we decided to buy the house and have a detached garage built onto the back.

Make no mistake, this was a long process. We got just days to our first closing before the lender decided they didn't want to do what we were trying to do (essentially, buy the house because we were getting such a good deal and use the equity to build the garage). So we ended up having to get a construction loan to buy the house and build the garage.

The other major sticking point was what to do with our old house. I was adamant that I did not want two mortgage payments, but we weren't getting many bites on the old house. Then our awesome realtor was able to work a deal where the builder purchased our home for resale, freeing us to buy the new one. We had to take a small loss selling it, but not unreasonably so.

But we worked through it all and finally, on October 23rd, we were able to sign the documents and buy the new house. We started moving that day, and the movers came the following day to finish off the big things.

In the meantime, the builder was finishing off some of the things that were left from the contract - namely, carpeting and building a closet in the front room and fixing a sidewalk issue. Then, of course, building the garage. As of today, the garage is "finished" - I had them build the garage unfinished because they were wanting too much money to essentially hang drywall. Now, all that's left is to close the construction loan and we're on our way.

3. Cursillo

What can I say about the Cursillo weekend other than that it was life-changing.

I'm not going to write much about what actually happened at Cursillo. It's not out of any secrecy or shame - to the contrary, I wish I could share the joy of what I experienced with every person on Earth. But I also don't want to ruin the surprise and, no matter what, I don't think words could adequately express the joy of the experience. Regardless, my experience was different from that of my fellow pilgrims, and from past and future pilgrims. It's different and unique for everyone; we all experience it in different ways.
 
 
Coming out the other side, it feel like a new person. Cursillo was literally a life changing experience.

... and the rest!
  • This was my first year since 2003 when I didn't work FWA. I had intended it to be a permanent retirement, but the minute I set foot in the Sheraton, I knew I could never just be an attendee. So after careful consideration following the end of the con, I decided to return. My roll as of this time is uncertain, but I have a few ideas. :)
  • As far as concerts go, saw the Drive-By Truckers twice, Phish once, Matthew Ebel twice, and finally checked a "bucket list" item off when I saw Elton John. However, I missed out on Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters and I'm still upset about that.
  • Put a new stereo in my truck.
  • Barack Obama was re-elected.
  • The Olympics were awesome as always. Except for NBC's coverage. That sucked ass.
Of course, 2012 wasn't perfect. There were some things that sucked.
In review

I don't think any year in my life has had as much change as 2012 has. This has been a mind-blowing year, full of firsts, new starts, changes and stress, but as I look back on it, I realize what an amazing year it's been. I feel like I'm ending this year a different person than I was when I started it. However, despite all that, I'm kinda hoping 2013 is a little bit more laid back. If every year was like this one, I would be the most interesting man in the world.

So long 2012. Thanks for being awesome!
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
For me, August 23, 2003 will always hold a special place in my heart. On that day, I got in my car and drove from my home in Auburn an hour and a half to Atlanta. I was lured by a chance email I just happened to see on a mailing list and knowing only one person who would be at the meeting, and him - Flain - I had only met a month before in a chance meeting on a flight to Philadelphia.

On that day, in Tiger Paw’s living room, we laid down the plans for the first Furry Weekend Atlanta. In the intervening months, we worked like crazy. And, at the end of it, a staff of about 12 people, in seven months pulled a convention out of nowhere.

Ever since that day, FWA has been a part of my life. In the time between then and how, I’ve held three jobs, moved three times, and had three cars. I’ve graduated college, bought a house and gotten married. To put it another way, FWA has been the one constant in a period of unbelievable chance in my life.

But to all good things must come an end.

With increasing responsibilities in other areas of my life, I can no longer dedicate to the con the attention that that a great convention like this deserves. Therefore, I announce that I am retiring from my positions with Furry Weekend Atlanta. It’s something that I have given a lot of thought - perhaps one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. But I feel the time is right.

The reasons for my departure are personal and solely due to changes in my life; it is in no way a reflection of the convention. I would strongly encourage everyone to continue to attend the con - as I intend to! I just feel that, at this time, I need to go in a different direction in my life.

Growing FWA has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have had the chance to learn things I never would have been exposed to and met many, many wonderful people.

I want to thank the board - all its members over the years - and especially Tiger Paw. You guys are like family to me, and, Tiger, you’ve been like a brother to me. Just because I’m not actively involved in the con anymore, don’t think you’re gonna see me any less. In fact, there’s a fair chance you may see me more.

I want to thank my staff - not just this year, but all the people I’ve worked with over the years. I hope you know how much working with you has meant to me. You are all wonderful, amazing people.

Most of all, I want to thank you - our attendees. Without you, FWA would never have gotten out of Tiger Paw’s living room back in 2003 and wouldn’t be where we are today. You are, without a doubt, the heart and soul of the fandom and the reason we do this. From the very beginning, FWA has been about you, and my sincere hope is that it will continue to be a con focused on the attendees.

I firmly believe that life is full of chances, and the only regret you can have is the chance you didn’t take. I was so worried that day when I set off from Auburn to drive to Atlanta. But I took a chance. When I took a chance on driving to Atlanta in 2003, I had no clue what the outcome would be. Without a doubt I can say, eight years later, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Thank you for making the last eight years one amazing ride for this collie.

- Kiran Lightpaw
Director of Operations, 2003-2011
Furry Weekend Atlanta

FWA

Mar. 22nd, 2011 10:57 am
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Another FWA is over. Yay. :P

There's really not much I can say that hasn't been said already at this point. Thanks go out to my awesome staff - without you the con would not happen each year. Thanks go our to our awesome GOHs for being so excellent at all times. Thanks go out to our guests (guys like [livejournal.com profile] 2_gryphon and [livejournal.com profile] halioffirpine among many others) who do so much for the convention.

But most of all, the absolute biggest thanks go you, our attendees. We pride ourselves on being an attendee-focused convention. We do this all for you, and when I hear people say things like "this was one of the best weekends of my life," it's like hooking a battery up to a nuclear reactor. It makes me want to do it all again in a week.

I had two awesome moments this weekend. First was drinking - perhaps a bit too much - with [livejournal.com profile] zotcoon in the bar Friday night and talking shop about development, flying and life. And the second was running into Hati, an old, old friend from my Furreality MUCK days.

There were some issues, of course. We'll deal with those in the offseason like we always do. But I'm already pumped for FWA 2012, Moulin Rouge. I hope we'll see you all - and your friends - there. After all, just think. What if everyone who was at the con this year brought just one person with them... :P
 

FWA 2010

Mar. 30th, 2010 03:37 pm
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
I was telling [livejournal.com profile] koakako on the drive back from Atlanta how odd it is. You go into your insular little bubble that is a furry con, and come out five days later. And ... what? The world is still here. It has kept moving while you were gallivanting around in your own little world for a few days, and it's odd that you now have to catch up with everything that happened in those five days.

You half expect to see a fursuiter bouncing down the hallway and not think anything of it, but when you don't see it, you're kinda disappointed.

FWA went off well this year. In fact, I think this might have been one of our best so far. A big shout out to all my staff, who worked so hard this weekend to make all the magic happen. And a big shout out to the 1,564 furries who took over a block of downtown Atlanta and turned it into a giant furry castle.

We had a few problems (we always do), but those will be dealt with over the course of the next year.

Now, time to do the normal post-con wrap up stuff in putting 2010 to bed. But stay tuned for Furry Weekend Atlanta 2011: Furries in Wonderland.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Home. Truck unpacked. Bags unpacked. Food procured.

Survived another FWA.

More later.

ZZZZZ.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
"Twitter me gently, twitter me sweet.
I’ll follow you anywhere you tweet.
The system is fragile, the birds are weak.
So twitter me gently and I’ll be complete."

-Matthew Ebel, Twitter Me Gently
It's that time of year again. Time for me to start ordering all the things that will break be used at Furry Weekend Atlanta this year.

One of the things we're doing this year is retiring our thin-client based registration and sales system in favor of more modern, small form factor computers. The thin clients have worked well for 5 years now, but they're getting increasingly hard to find and expensive to use. So the new system will be based on used Dell GX-270 SFF machines running Ubuntu Linux to avoid any licensing issues.

So I soured the web for a merchant that would cut us a deal on 20 of these machines, and finally found one. 20 machines for $1300 including shipping, or $65 a machine, is about what we were paying for the thin clients, and these will have a lot better lifespan and be eminently more usable. They also support wireless, so less running cable!

So I placed the order Friday two weeks ago. And within hours I had shipping information. And then I found out about Sarah's grandfather and that we'd be going out of town precisely when FedEx was supposed to deliver the computers. Crap. So I call FedEx and arrange to have them delivered the following Monday when I will be home.

So fast forward to Thursday. Just after the funeral. We're eating lunch at the post-funeral meal, and my phone buzzes. I check. Emails from FedEx saying they've delivered all 20 boxes to my house in Alabama. Where its raining. Great. Wonderful. 20 boxes are probably sitting in the rain in front of my house. So I call FedEx. The agent on the phone was singularly unhelpful, too. He just said, yeah, they've been delivered, nothing he could do about it or knew why it happened.

I called [livejournal.com profile] koakako and asked him to run by my house and rescue them when he got a change. Then, in frustration, I sent out a tweet: "So Fedex just really fucked me. And not in the good way either."

About 20 minutes later, my phone buzzed again. Someone had replied to my tweet ... from FedEx, asking me what the problem was. I replied back with a few tweets about how $1300 in computer equipment was sitting in front of my house when I was 1,000 miles away, and sent her a tracking number.

Didn't hear anything for about an hour and a half.

Then, I got a tweet back. "The terminal sent a driver to pick up your packages. They are now on hold."

Yay Twitter. And sure enough, Monday afternoon, my packages were delivered. So while I still don't know why my message to hold the packages was never received here, I nonetheless applaud FedEx for using a very Web 2.0 way to solve the problem.

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kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Kiran Lightpaw

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