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Welcome to Marc's Weblog

— also known as my vanity gripe page

From sunny, Las Vegas, Nevada, this is the blog of Marc Elliot Hall, leader and system engineer extraordinaire.


February
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
     
     
2012
Months
Feb

Wed, 29 Feb 2012


Back to Routine

Now that everyone has safely returned from the funeral and burial, I've gotten back into a routine in Anchorage. 

As promised nearly three weeks ago, I did return to town center park to take photos of the trees and ice sculpture.

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That one's a little blurry. Here is a close-up of a sculpture:

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And some of the trees:

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 Overall, a very attractive downtown.  

posted at: 22:42 |


Wed, 22 Feb 2012


Sacramento Bee Obituary

Dad's passing has been noted by his regional newspaper, the Sacramento Bee.

posted at: 23:07 |


Sun, 19 Feb 2012


My Dad

On Thursday afternoon, I learned that my father had been found by my mother unconscious in their home. He was rushed to the hospital and immediately sent into surgery. However, he remained non-responsive. A scan early Friday morning found no higher brain activity.

After numerous phone calls, texts, and in-person consultations with expert medical advisors, our family made the difficult decision to disconnect the ventilator. He passed away shortly afterward.

Dad was an influential man, far beyond his family. Dr. Marc Earl Hall, known as "President Hall" for both professional and ecclesiastical reasons, had been a prominent member of both the Sacramento academic and religious communities for more than forty years. 

As a consultant, Assistant Chancellor, and Executive Vice Chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District, Dad was instrumental in strategic planning leading to the acquisition of real estate that later became campuses for Cosumnes River College and Folsom Lake College. Subsequently, as President of Cosumnes River College, he orchestrated the construction of new academic wings, a new student center, and a new gymnasium. 

In parallel with his leadership in the academic community, Dad served in a number of positions within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including as Bishop of the Del Campo Ward and President of the Carmichael Stake.

Upon his "retirement" at age 50, Dad and Mom served on several multiple-year missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including extended stays in Russia (Moscow and Yekaterinburg), Ukraine (Kyiev), Poland (Warsaw), and Thailand (Bangkok). In Yekaterinburg, Dad served as mission president for three years. 

Dad and my mother, Cherylee Green Hall, were planning to celebrate their 50th anniversary this summer. My mother, my five sisters, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I will all greatly miss my Dad.

Arrangements for funeral and/or memorial services have not yet been finalized, although the tentative plan is for a service in Carmichael on Saturday, February 25 at 10:00 a.m.

 

posted at: 22:55 |


Mon, 13 Feb 2012


New Week, New Adventures

Snow Removal Machine 

The week I arrived in Anchorage, the snow had accumulated far more than usual, and clean up crews were having trouble keeping up. Property owners who had parking lots to clear pushed the snow to the perimeter — but after a while, that takes up too many spaces.

So they have to haul the snow away, like this:

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Imagine not being able to go to sleep because the heavy equipment is running under your window, with the rev of the diesel engines and the beeping of the backup warnings. 

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Finally, I had to take a walk to get away from the noise. When I came back more than an hour later, they were still going at it! Note, this is not the same dump truck. They take about six of the articulated front loader’s buckets and drive off. There’s always one waiting to replace it. Lots and lots of snow.

Speaking of walking, I've been trying to get out and about whenever the weather cooperates. One of the unusual things I've seen on my constitutionals is this man training his reindeer:

thumb.20120212_016a.jpeg 

I didn't get a very good shot, because they kept moving around through the snow, him shouting and pulling the lead on the caribou's bridle, while the animal jumped through the snow. I wanted to call, "Hey, everybody knows they only fly on Christmas Eve!", but I didn't think he'd take it in good humor. Remember, this is the middle of a city of a quarter-million people. Imagine seeing somebody training a white tailed deer in Forest Park in Saint Louis for comparison.

I also noticed that Anchorage has its very own "Occupy" protesters. Darn it, I just missed the speech promised for Sunday at 2:00.

thumb.20120212_017.jpg 

This is the town center park, right near all the arts and entertainment venues. The park has a bunch of ice sculptures and the trees are all lit up with blue lights at night — but the sculptures have seen better days, especially now that we've seen several days in the last week with above-freezing temperatures. I'll try and get some photos of the lights and the illuminated art, but I can't promise anything. 

This is my approximate route:


View Larger Map

posted at: 02:38 |


Fri, 10 Feb 2012


Day 7

Housekeeping, Mostly

Went shopping today — got a load from Sam's Club and no M&Ms! I shocked even myself.

However, I don't think I'll be saving much money. Based on the prices for raw food, I would probably come within 30 percent if I just ate every meal at a restaurant. 

I've also been running all of the dishes that came with my furnished condo through the dishwasher. It's one of those two-thirds-sized jobs, so I can only put about a quarter of the stuff through at a time. I did the utensils last night, the plates, bowls, and cups this morning, and now I'm running about half of the pots. 

Why?

Because when I pulled them out of the storage closet to put them in the kitchen cabinets, they were all greasy and spotted, like somebody rode 'em hard and put 'em away wet. 

At work I made a breakthrough in getting my new application up and running — Finally got the app to write to the back-end database. Only 19 days to go before our first delivery date! 

 

posted at: 01:34 |


Thu, 09 Feb 2012


Days 5 and 6

Moving Day

After the usual breakfast at the Ramada, I packed up, put my bags in the car, and checked out.

No, I'm not coming home.

Instead, after work I moved one block east to the Anchorage Uptown Suites and Condominiums (Condominia?), where I will be putting down roots (yes, they're ugly and their momma dresses them funny) during my stay here in Anchorage.

In the new digs I will have a complete apartment, with kitchen, bedroom, full bath, and living room. I'll continue to have a lovely view of the eastern sky and mountains, plus I get to look in my neighbor's windows across the alley winking 

Dinner was once again at the Slippery Salmon — I walked over without a coat, hat, or gloves, and it wasn't too cold. Chili and the House Salad, washed down with… Dr. Brown's Cream Soda. I think I've just about exhausted the menu at the Slippery Salmon, now (yesterday I had the French Dip Netter sandwich; all that's left are pepperoni and Hawaiian pizzas and a bunch of appetizers), so it's a good thing I have a kitchen, now. Tomorrow morning I'll do a little grocery shopping before work and cook myself dinner when I get home.

posted at: 00:32 |


Tue, 07 Feb 2012


Anchorage Days 3 and 4

Everybody Back to Work!

Sunday and Monday were kind of all mooshed together. Breakfast was the usual waffle/oatmeal/juice at the hotel. Dinner was at the Slippery Salmon again, with the Arctic Cuban Panini during the Superbowl and Chicken and Ranch Pizza on Monday night, late. Dr. Brown's Cream Soda (diet!) to wash it down.

Aside from the Superbowl and eating, I looked at two condos on Sunday. Nothing fantabulous, but they were both passable. One was just a little too expensive and one was just a little too far away from the office. 

On Monday, though, I actually met my new colleagues at GCI, including my manager there, Mark Hall. No kidding. Also, I got my desktop system set up and accounts on some development servers, got a quick walk through the datacenter (that makes my basement server closet look well organized), and then dove right into some Perl code. The day flew past at a frightening pace.

We're on a tight schedule to meet our go-live date; so everybody on the team is under some stress — but they seem like a good group. 

Then tonight I looked at one last condo. I think this is the one I've decided on. It's at the low-end of expense, but has a reasonably good vibe and is only 1.4 miles from the office. 

Time to make a decision!

posted at: 01:01 |


Sun, 05 Feb 2012


Anchorage Day 2

Snowed in?

After my nap, I got up and saw that the snow was still falling. Discouraged but not undaunted, I organized my luggage and sorted through all my email and other messages from two days. Then I called my contacts with Bergaila & Associates and GCI to confirm everything for Monday and learned that the work site was not where I was originally told. Fortunately, I had not yet signed a lease for an apartment; so I went online to find a long-term place to stay that would be closer to my office. 

I had done this before and had some contacts, but a couple of the places I had been considering had already been rented. Not deterred, I scheduled a couple of showings for Saturday. 

At about 17:15 I went down to the Slippery Salmon, the restaurant adjacent to the Ramada, and ordered a TBLT wrap and root beer for dinner. After eating, I went up to my room and crashed again until about 04:00 on Day 2 of my Anchorage Adventure.

Knowing I wouldn't be able to sleep, I got up, showered, shaved, dressed, and logged in again to look for places to stay and catch up on my news. I munched on a complimentary breakfast in the pre-dawn dark. 

Sunrise came, eventually, and I got my first glimpse of mountains east of town. They were black against the horizon until the sun was fully over the horizon in the southeast. 

In the growing light, I bundled up and went out to see how my rental car had fared.

It was bad: 

20120204_001.jpg

See how lonely it looks? This is after the parking lot had been plowed once the night before. 

Fortunately, Alamo had included an ice-scraper and brush with the car, so I was able to get it cleaned up enough to run some errands around town. Here's the car (the one in front) after my return from Fred Meyer and other locations around Anchorage. As you can see, I don't really even need a car, as Anchorage has the People Mover bus line that runs all year 'round. This is the view from my third floor balcony (where I keep my ice cream wrapped up so the snow monkeys don't pee on it) looking east. 

20120204_010.jpg  

Note that these streets have been plowed multiple times during the night and into the morning; I took this photo in the afternoon. 

After my errands, I visited a couple of condos to see if they suited. Cheap rent is not available in Anchorage, even in the dead of winter; a furnished studio starts at about $1350 a month and goes up to around $1800, depending on location, amenities, and length of stay. The less expensive ones tend to be old, miles away from everything, or in bizarre configurations — or all three.

Fortunately, the weather was clear and relatively warm — high reached about 30 degrees. Totally bearable and overall quite pleasant after the previous day.

I made a few more appointments to see condos on Sunday and then went back to the Slippery Salmon for dinner — the battered halibut chipotle wrap is pretty good when washed down with a Dr. Brown Cream Soda. 

posted at: 12:44 |


Sat, 04 Feb 2012


Anchorage, Day 1

My Adventure Begins…

Now I’m in Anchorage, where the snow isn’t afraid of falling and the drivers aren’t afraid of six inches on the roads. What a contrast with Missouri! But I’m getting ahead of myself…

I arrived in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, February 3. The plane was full (I was on the aisle, fortunately, but didn’t get more than fifteen minutes of sleep while in the air), which made things a bit uncomfortable. Fortunately, we landed nearly 30 minutes early… which was also a first for me. Just as I exited the parking garage with my rental car, it started to snow.

And snow.

And snow.

Fortunately, at 02:30 a.m., there aren’t many cars on the roads, so I had plenty of room to get my snow driving skills back up-to-date. Despite the snowfall, it was nearly as bright as daylight — the phase of the moon and the albedo of the snow made it easy to see.

Anchorage is one of the few cities in Alaska that is laid out on a grid, so finding my way around was relatively easy. My Tom Tom came with maps for Alaska, too, so I was able to navigate without any trouble.

Knowing my hotel room wouldn’t be ready for me when I was ready to crash, I drove around, exploring the land in the falling snow, practicing my driving technique, and marvelling at the sheer quantity of snow as it fell.

At about six-thirty in the morning, about six inches had fallen on the roads, and traffic was starting to build up. Being both tired and uncomfortable with the taffic volumes, I decided that the iced-over windshield in my little front-wheel-drive Chevy Aveo wasn’t going to give me enough visibility to compete with rush hour.

So I pulled into the parking lot at the Ramada in downtown Anchorage and approached the front desk. “Good morning!” I said to Angie, the manager in charge. “I know my room won’t be ready, but I have a reservation for tonight. Can you help me out?”

Angela was very accommodating. She said, “The room you reserved won’t be ready until about noon, but I can store your luggage behind the desk here and you can join us for breakfast around the corner.” She also offered a different room in the interim, but I demurred, deciding that I didn’t want to move my luggage twice if I could avoid it. Instead, I said, “If I could just change my shoes, that would be great.”

So I brought my luggage in through the snow (two trips, snow over my knees), commented on the uselessness of wheeled bags in the current conditions (Angie laughed at that), opened up my big bag to get out some dry boots to replace my soaking airport security-friendly shoes, and left everything else with her.

Breakfast wasn’t particulary exciting, although they had the usual oatmeal and hot chocolate packets, a variety of cold juices and milk, boiled eggs, fruit, and muffins. The make-your-own waffle irons were nice; I made a couple and topped ‘em off with syrup and whipped cream.

Later, as I was nodding off for the third or eighth time in the lobby, Angie announced that my room was ready. I dragged my bags onto a luggage cart and into the elevator to my third floor room.

The bed was wonderful, and I slept until about three in the afternoon.

At three, though, I got up, showered, dressed, and looked outside to see what the weather was like.

The snow was still falling.

posted at: 17:06 |



Marc Elliot Hall St. Peters, Missouri 

Page created: 21 January 2002
Page modified: 09 December 2017

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