Welcome to our web site. For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!

10/01/18: I was back at work today after Summer Vacation, our first vacation since I started this job almost two years ago. Kalamazoo was great, and the Air Zoo was fabulous. I did chicken out on the biplane ride though, not because I was afraid to go up, but because of the cost. We were already debt-funding this trip, and I couldn't justify spending the extra money. Maybe I'll be able to afford it next summer.
     Ann Arbor was good, too, but there didn't seem to be as much to do there as there was in Kalamazoo, so for our second full day there, we drove to the Henry Ford Museum in nearby Dearborn. Wow! There is so much to see and do there that we didn't get to see everything in one day. And oddly enough, while the Air Zoo only had a half-size replica of a Curtiss Jenny, the plane flown by my protagonists in my Barnstormers story, the Ford Museum had a full-sized one! Granted, it was hanging from the ceiling so I didn't get a great look at it, but it had a cool fish painted on the side!
     So today I was back at work, and as I swiped my badge to get in, I chuckled to myself that it was a good sign that the badge still worked. But I sat down at the computer and for the life of me, I couldn't remember my password! I knew what the kernel of the idea was that I used to create it, but I didn't know the exact spelling. To make matters worse, I usually get in two and a half hours before the next IT guy, so I was stuck. That'll teach me to take a week off!
     I tried for over an hour to determine what the password was, but to no avail. I use KeePass to keep track of all my passwords, but I couldn't get into the computer to access my KeePass file. I finally broke down and texted my manager and he reset the password from home, likely chuckling at my expense. After much digging, I found a program on my system that still had the password stored in plain text, so I then had to log into all my password-protected applications to reset them. Then I stored a copy of my new password in LastPass, the service I use for keeping track of my personal passwords, so I won't have to go through that again.

09/21/18: Stephie and I needed to get away, so we decided to take a little trip. Our first thought was Wisconsin, but in the mood for something different, we decided on Michigan. Some friends spoke highly of Kalamazoo, so that was our first destination. We didn't have any plans, other than to go to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, in hopes of getting some inspiration for my Barnstormers story. Mainly we just wanted to get away.
     The drive was nice, and the motel room was decent, after we had some initial quality problems (we'll never stay at a Red Roof Inn again!) the room was decent. We then went downtown to check out the area. It looked like there were some storm clouds moving in, but the day was nice and we enjoyed a little window shopping.
     Stephie spotted a small coffee shop, so we stopped in so she could get a tea. While she was talking to the guy behind the counter, I wandered back to a wall plastered with playbills, and spotted one for Morris Day and the Time, playing that night. I asked the guy where the theater was, and he said two blocks down. I left Stephie waiting for her tea and hurried down to the Kalamazoo State Theatre and scored tickets!
     The Kalamazoo State Theatre is a converted movie theater, first opened in 1927 and renovated in the mid-'80s. The place is beautiful, fairly well-preserved, and the show was great. The band was tight and Morris did all the usual shtick. We were amazed that they played the first half-dozen songs without a break, one song blending into the next. That's not unheard of, but these are fairly up-tempo numbers and that drummer kept up amazingly. He got quite the workout. I was kind of surprised by the frequent mentions of Prince, who had passed away two years ago. I suppose the Time owes a lot of it's success to him, so maybe the fealty was warranted, although it has been two years now. All in all, it was a great first day in Michigan.

09/10/18: This is my Gerber Shard. I keep it on my keyring. If I'm being honest, I bought it because it's cheap, it's an interesting gizmo, and it allows me to have a bottle opener with me wherever I go. I saw it on that Everyday Carry web site where they try to convince you that everyone should have a knife in their pocket at all times (which, come to think of it, is Gibbs' rule number nine on NCIS.)
     I've had it for a while now and have successfully opened many bottles of beer for my self and friends, but at work today I found myself in need of a Phillips screwdriver and couldn't find one. Then I remembered the Shard on my keychain. I checked and one end is shaped like a Phillips tip, so I tried it and it worked great. I don't think I would use it as my primary screwdriver, but in a pinch it worked great. And did I mention it was cheap and opens bottles?

08/24/18: Cautionary tale: today I accidentally deleted all of Stephie's artwork from our server. I was trying to help her do something and got frustrated, so I went to delete the file I was working on. In my haste, I used the Shift-Delete key combination, which hard-deletes the file rather than placing them in the Recycle Bin to be removed later. I didn't notice that Windows had helpfully selected all the files in the folder, so when I deleted what I thought was just the file I was messing with, it happily deleted everything. Several hundred pictures of Stephie's artwork were gone in the blink of an eye. I thought was going to be sick.
     Fortunately, I had just done my monthly back up this morning. I'd tested restoring my backups in the past, but back when I used to back up to tape, I'd had tapes fail and not been able to recover anything. I didn't have that problem this time and the restore worked like a charm. I recovered all the pictures that I had inadvertently deleted.
     Two lesson learned today: I should stop using the Shift-Delete combination, especially when I'm frustrated and not paying attention, and more importantly, make sure I keep to my monthly backup plan.

08/20/18: This was the weekend of the annual Silent Summer Film Festival, put on by The Silent Film Society of Chicago. I've been going for many years now (and have the t-shirts to prove it!) but this year I was only able to make one screening: Rin-Tin-Tin: Where The North Begins from 1923. I thought that I could talk Stephie into going, since it was Rin-Tin-Tin, but she's sticking with her "Only Douglas Fairbanks" rule for silent movies, and I respect that. I went yesterday and the film was terrific, as was the organ accompaniment. I haven't been to too many SFSC events since they moved most of them to week-nights at the Arcadia in St. Charles, but I was glad I went.
     While I was there, I was looking around at the crowd and it skewed older, and I was thinking about how future generations will see silent films. I keep hearing about how hard it is to get young people to watch a black and white film, let alone one that has no dialogue. I remember how excited I was to see silent films when I was a kid, and it made me a little sad to think that not a lot of kids have that curiosity, although I don't know how may of my peers growing up had those same interests.
     But I think all is not lost. I stopped at Jewel on the way home, and behind the deli counter was a young woman who noticed my Silent Summer t-shirt on a previous visit, when she told me that she really liked silent films, much to the chagrin of her boyfriend. When I saw her there, I gave her a flyer I picked up listing all the upcoming SFSC events, including a Halloween showing of The Phantom of the Opera at a church in LaGrange. She seemed really excited about that.
     And on my way out, the cashier commented on my t-shirt showing the moon from Melies' Trip to the Moon. Not only did he recognize it from the film (as opposed to the Smashing Pumpkins video or the Hugo Cabret movie or book, but even got the year (1902) right. Maybe there's hope after all.

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