News

Jul. 30th, 2010 03:51 pm
jayfurr: (Preservation Hall)
Lots of stuff has happened recently. Pity that I've been too busy or tired to sum it all up, but hey.

We went to France and had a surprisingly good time. "Surprisingly?" you ask? Well, nothing went wrong going or coming that we couldn't overcome, people were generally very nice to us, and it only rained one day. I'll probably write up a longer journal entry at some point but if you want to see photos and stuff from the trip, they're all up on Facebook under my account in a series of photo albums grouped by day. If you're not on Facebook and want to see the photos, they're also available on Google Photos at this link.

We came home from France and immediately went to work serving as crew for the Boston Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure. Carole worked as a member of the Camp Services crew, doing things at camp during the day and evening and I was out on the route each day working as Pit Stop 4. It rained like crazy the first evening and made everyone utterly miserable, then was hotter than blazes on Day 2, but we all survived and most people were in good spirits by the end of the thing on Day 3. Photos from the event are on Facebook under my account and also here.

We then came home to Vermont and have been playing catch-up ever since. I managed to burn out the mower belt on our riding mower trying to make headway in the tall unmowed lawn, which bites, but a replacement belt is on its way and a visit from a service tech is scheduled for Tuesday... when I'll be out of town in California, but I'll be back the following Friday and can get back to work mowing.

Last night I had a sleep study visit at the local Sheraton, run by Fletcher-Allen Health Care. It was an attempt to figure out why I tend to drift off behind the wheel when driving on the highway. I don't personally think I've got sleep apnea, but this will hopefully rule it out or in one way or another. My visit to find out the 'results' of the sleep study won't be for a few weeks, unfortunately. I've been groggy all day despite having a full night of sleep. Perhaps it's due to lingering dehydration from not being able to drink much during the evening and night with electrodes all over my head and even up my nose.

After a lengthy period of unemployment, Carole has started a new job, temp-to-hire, with a firm called 89 North as their accountant/office manager. The firm seems very promising so far and has excellent benefits -- ONCE the position becomes permanent, IF it does. And we're trying not to count our chickens prior to that happening.

Continuing on the 3-Day front, I've raised enough money, partly through employer-matched self-donations, to walk in three Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure events, in Minneapolis/St Paul, Washington DC, and Tampa Bay respectively. I'd like to keep on raising money because the cure for breast cancer won't be cheap, but right now I'm just barely over the $2,300 per city needed to take part. Carole will be with me in Tampa but I'll be a 'solo walker' in Minnesota and DC. If anyone reading this would like to donate to help cure breast cancer, please please please do: my donation page is http://www.the3day.org/goto/jayfurr and all donations go DIRECTLY to Susan G. Komen For The Cure, not to my pockets at all. They're fully tax deductible and I defy you to find a better cause if you're looking for a charity to support. :)

News

Jul. 30th, 2010 03:32 pm
jayfurr: (Preservation Hall)
Lots of stuff has happened recently. Pity that I've been too busy or tired to sum it all up, but hey.

We went to France and had a surprisingly good time. "Surprisingly?" you ask? Well, nothing went wrong going or coming that we couldn't overcome, people were generally very nice to us, and it only rained one day. I'll probably write up a longer journal entry at some point but if you want to see photos and stuff from the trip, they're all up on Facebook under my account in a series of photo albums grouped by day. If you're not on Facebook and want to see the photos, they're also available on Google Photos at this link.

We came home from France and immediately went to work serving as crew for the Boston Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure. Carole worked as a member of the Camp Services crew, doing things at camp during the day and evening and I was out on the route each day working as Pit Stop 4. It rained like crazy the first evening and made everyone utterly miserable, then was hotter than blazes on Day 2, but we all survived and most people were in good spirits by the end of the thing on Day 3. Photos from the event are on Facebook under my account and also here.

We then came home to Vermont and have been playing catch-up ever since. I managed to burn out the mower belt on our riding mower trying to make headway in the tall unmowed lawn, which bites, but a replacement belt is on its way and a visit from a service tech is scheduled for Tuesday... when I'll be out of town in California, but I'll be back the following Friday and can get back to work mowing.

Last night I had a sleep study visit at the local Sheraton, run by Fletcher-Allen Health Care. It was an attempt to figure out why I tend to drift off behind the wheel when driving on the highway. I don't personally think I've got sleep apnea, but this will hopefully rule it out or in one way or another. My visit to find out the 'results' of the sleep study won't be for a few weeks, unfortunately. I've been groggy all day despite having a full night of sleep. Perhaps it's due to lingering dehydration from not being able to drink much during the evening and night with electrodes all over my head and even up my nose.

After a lengthy period of unemployment, Carole has started a new job, temp-to-hire, with a firm called 89 North as their accountant/office manager. The firm seems very promising so far and has excellent benefits -- ONCE the position becomes permanent, IF it does. And we're trying not to count our chickens prior to that happening.

Continuing on the 3-Day front, I've raised enough money, partly through employer-matched self-donations, to walk in three Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure events, in Minneapolis/St Paul, Washington DC, and Tampa Bay respectively. I'd like to keep on raising money because the cure for breast cancer won't be cheap, but right now I'm just barely over the $2,300 per city needed to take part. Carole will be with me in Tampa but I'll be a 'solo walker' in Minnesota and DC. If anyone reading this would like to donate to help cure breast cancer, please please please do: my donation page is http://www.the3day.org/goto/jayfurr and all donations go DIRECTLY to Susan G. Komen For The Cure, not to my pockets at all. They're fully tax deductible and I defy you to find a better cause if you're looking for a charity to support. :)

jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
In just a few days my wife and I will embark on a vacation to France.

This will be her first visit to France, though not her first visit to Europe; she worked three weeks as a barmaid in London while she was in college. Seriously. But that's the extent of her Europe exposure.

I have never been to Europe. Or anywhere outside North America and the Caribbean. I've been one of those obsessive completists, trying to reach basically everywhere in the USA you can get with a car. (49 states down, most of the Canadian provinces too.) I suppose I can't put off venturing outside my comfort zone any longer.

So: I made my wife a promise many years ago that we would go to France before she turned 40. She turns 40 this October. Time to fulfill that promise, eh?

I'm not sure what it says about me, though, that as I look forward to things on the horizon I'm actually more excited about the upcoming Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure events I'm scheduled to participate in. When we get back from France we will immediately go to work serving as crew members for the Boston 3-Day. Then I'm scheduled to walk the Twin Cities 3-Day in Minneapolis/St. Paul in mid-August. Then I'm scheduled to walk the Washington, DC 3-Day in early October, revisiting the scene of my very first 3-Day in 2008. And then finally we'll both be walking the Tampa Bay 3-Day on Halloween weekend.

Tampa Bay means more to me than the rest in some respects because it'll be an opportunity for me to walk on what essentially might be called my ancestral soil. My mom's family has hailed from just north of Tampa, up in Hernando County, for generations and generations, and we often vacationed there when we were kids. Even today, living as I do in northern Vermont, land of ice, snow, maple syrup, and legendary fall foliage, I still feel very much at home whenever I take a Florida vacation. Tampa Bay can't come soon enough for me. "France?" I say. "Yeah, that'll be fun, but boy, how about Halloween, Florida, and the 3-Day all mixed together? That's gonna rock."

But yeah, France will be fun too. We're going to be in Paris for three nights, then travel up to Normandy for two nights, then return to Paris for three more nights, and then fly home.

Why Normandy? Why not just stay in Paris the whole time we're over there and attempt to eat a chocolate brioche at every patisserie within a thirty mile radius of the Arc de Triomphe? Or shop until we drop?

Simple: I respect commitment, bravery, heroism, and sacrifice. I respect the selfless dedication of those men who fought and died in World War II in order to free France and the rest of Europe from the tyranny of Naziism. I have an especially soft spot in my heart for the men from Bedford, Virginia -- not terribly far from my home town of Blacksburg -- who were in the first wave to land at Omaha Beach on D-Day. Members of the Virginia National Guard, fighting as members of the 116th Infantry Regiment, they landed precisely where they were supposed to at a spot arbitrarily marked "Dog Green" on invasion maps. The doors of their landing craft opened, and pre-sighted German machine guns opened up ... and within minutes the unit had taken 97% casualties.

19 of 30 "Bedford Boys" in Company A of the 116th died that day. 22 died in all during the Normandy invasion. You can imagine the turmoil at the Western Union telegraph office in the small community of Bedford when all the notification telegrams to families arrived on the same day, to say nothing of the incredible sorrow in the town when the news spread.

So yeah, while we're in France we're going to go to Normandy. We'll be staying in a little hotel in the seaside town of Vierville-sur-Mer. Right on Omaha Beach. Right on, as it happens, what was once known as "Dog Green". And we're going to go to the American cemetery at Coleville-sur-Mer, three miles east, to pay our respects to the thousands and thousands of men, the Bedford Boys among them, who never made it home.

Some people might say that it was sheer insanity for the men who charged into the surf on D-Day to have done so, knowing that most of them would be killed. But if they, the ones who fell and the ones who survived, hadn't been willing to take the risks, the world today would be a very different place.

General George S. Patton, commander of the Third Army in France, is buried among his men at another American cemetery in Europe, not the one in Normandy but rather one near the site of the Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg. Even though his gravesite won't be on our itinerary as a result, as I think about risk and sacrifice I'm reminded of something he said:

"Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash."

D-Day was a calculated risk. It could have failed. The commitment and bravery of the men who took part saw to it that the lives lost in the effort were not in vain -- making the risk worthwhile.

At the same time, I celebrate and pay homage to the bravery of the members of the "Greatest Generation", I find myself wishing that there were more opportunities for people like, well, me to do great things. I didn't serve in the US military -- life took me in a different direction. While I derive a lot of satisfaction from the work I do for a living, I do feel, rather frequently, how pointless my life at times really is. Am I really making the world a better place by being in it?

And that question brings us full circle to why I'm a part of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day family. I've told the story several times before about how I got recruited by a friend to be in the 2008 DC walk after complaining about my life really counting for nothing... and as often happens to 3-Day people, I got kind of addicted to the whole doing-something-that-matters thing.

Breast cancer is as big a killer as they come. Certainly, we could all stand passively by and hope that Big Science will magically come along out of thin air and provide a cure, but anyone who has any experience at all in the clinical trial industry (and I happen to) knows how costly drug studies and trials are. The money raised by 3-Day walkers has already made a huge impact in many ways and it will continue to do so in the future ... PROVIDED that we all stick to the mission, keep spreading the word, keep awareness up, keep walking and fundraising, keep doing everything we can to keep the pressure up.

So please remember that, any 3-Day walkers who happen to read this, each time you come in from a training walk with blistered feet, sore hips, and shin splints. Please remember that the miles you pound on city pavement in 90-degree summer heat will pay off when your donors see you walking 60 miles in three days and pull out their checkbooks and credit cards in each subsequent year. What you're doing may seem at times like a rather pointless endeavor, especially when you got rained on, HARD, a mile from your house while out on an evening training walk, and then got splashed by passing cars. Or forgot your insect repellent and got enthusiastically snacked on by local mosquitoes. Or especially when you do a nine mile walk and come in hurting from that, thinking "how on EARTH am I going to do sixty miles?"

What you're doing is worth it. It's not a stupid, rash thing you're doing at all. You're taking a calculated risk, betting that if you go out and do everything you can to show that you care and that you're going to go the distance for the cause, your donors will stand up and act accordingly.

And they will.

You are doing something that matters. You are sacrificing, giving of yourself, and contributing to a fight against an enemy as bad as they come. Remember that when you're questioning whether it's all worth it.

That's why even as I head off to France on Monday, my thoughts will really be with my sisters and brothers of the 3-Day family. I can't wait to see all of you in Boston, the Twin Cities, Washington, and Tampa Bay. But, no matter where you walk, my thoughts will be with you.

Keep up the good fight.

jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
In just a few days my wife and I will embark on a vacation to France.

This will be her first visit to France, though not her first visit to Europe; she worked three weeks as a barmaid in London while she was in college. Seriously. But that's the extent of her Europe exposure.

I have never been to Europe. Or anywhere outside North America and the Caribbean. I've been one of those obsessive completists, trying to reach basically everywhere in the USA you can get with a car. (49 states down, most of the Canadian provinces too.) I suppose I can't put off venturing outside my comfort zone any longer.

So: I made my wife a promise many years ago that we would go to France before she turned 40. She turns 40 this October. Time to fulfill that promise, eh?

I'm not sure what it says about me, though, that as I look forward to things on the horizon I'm actually more excited about the upcoming Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure events I'm scheduled to participate in. When we get back from France we will immediately go to work serving as crew members for the Boston 3-Day. Then I'm scheduled to walk the Twin Cities 3-Day in Minneapolis/St. Paul in mid-August. Then I'm scheduled to walk the Washington, DC 3-Day in early October, revisiting the scene of my very first 3-Day in 2008. And then finally we'll both be walking the Tampa Bay 3-Day on Halloween weekend.

Tampa Bay means more to me than the rest in some respects because it'll be an opportunity for me to walk on what essentially might be called my ancestral soil. My mom's family has hailed from just north of Tampa, up in Hernando County, for generations and generations, and we often vacationed there when we were kids. Even today, living as I do in northern Vermont, land of ice, snow, maple syrup, and legendary fall foliage, I still feel very much at home whenever I take a Florida vacation. Tampa Bay can't come soon enough for me. "France?" I say. "Yeah, that'll be fun, but boy, how about Halloween, Florida, and the 3-Day all mixed together? That's gonna rock."

But yeah, France will be fun too. We're going to be in Paris for three nights, then travel up to Normandy for two nights, then return to Paris for three more nights, and then fly home.

Why Normandy? Why not just stay in Paris the whole time we're over there and attempt to eat a chocolate brioche at every patisserie within a thirty mile radius of the Arc de Triomphe? Or shop until we drop?

Simple: I respect commitment, bravery, heroism, and sacrifice. I respect the selfless dedication of those men who fought and died in World War II in order to free France and the rest of Europe from the tyranny of Naziism. I have an especially soft spot in my heart for the men from Bedford, Virginia -- not terribly far from my home town of Blacksburg -- who were in the first wave to land at Omaha Beach on D-Day. Members of the Virginia National Guard, fighting as members of the 116th Infantry Regiment, they landed precisely where they were supposed to at a spot arbitrarily marked "Dog Green" on invasion maps. The doors of their landing craft opened, and pre-sighted German machine guns opened up ... and within minutes the unit had taken 97% casualties.

19 of 30 "Bedford Boys" in Company A of the 116th died that day. 22 died in all during the Normandy invasion. You can imagine the turmoil at the Western Union telegraph office in the small community of Bedford when all the notification telegrams to families arrived on the same day, to say nothing of the incredible sorrow in the town when the news spread.

So yeah, while we're in France we're going to go to Normandy. We'll be staying in a little hotel in the seaside town of Vierville-sur-Mer. Right on Omaha Beach. Right on, as it happens, what was once known as "Dog Green". And we're going to go to the American cemetery at Coleville-sur-Mer, three miles east, to pay our respects to the thousands and thousands of men, the Bedford Boys among them, who never made it home.

Some people might say that it was sheer insanity for the men who charged into the surf on D-Day to have done so, knowing that most of them would be killed. But if they, the ones who fell and the ones who survived, hadn't been willing to take the risks, the world today would be a very different place.

General George S. Patton, commander of the Third Army in France, is buried among his men at another American cemetery in Europe, not the one in Normandy but rather one near the site of the Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg. Even though his gravesite won't be on our itinerary as a result, as I think about risk and sacrifice I'm reminded of something he said:

"Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash."

D-Day was a calculated risk. It could have failed. The commitment and bravery of the men who took part saw to it that the lives lost in the effort were not in vain -- making the risk worthwhile.

At the same time, I celebrate and pay homage to the bravery of the members of the "Greatest Generation", I find myself wishing that there were more opportunities for people like, well, me to do great things. I didn't serve in the US military -- life took me in a different direction. While I derive a lot of satisfaction from the work I do for a living, I do feel, rather frequently, how pointless my life at times really is. Am I really making the world a better place by being in it?

And that question brings us full circle to why I'm a part of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day family. I've told the story several times before about how I got recruited by a friend to be in the 2008 DC walk after complaining about my life really counting for nothing... and as often happens to 3-Day people, I got kind of addicted to the whole doing-something-that-matters thing.

Breast cancer is as big a killer as they come. Certainly, we could all stand passively by and hope that Big Science will magically come along out of thin air and provide a cure, but anyone who has any experience at all in the clinical trial industry (and I happen to) knows how costly drug studies and trials are. The money raised by 3-Day walkers has already made a huge impact in many ways and it will continue to do so in the future ... PROVIDED that we all stick to the mission, keep spreading the word, keep awareness up, keep walking and fundraising, keep doing everything we can to keep the pressure up.

So please remember that, any 3-Day walkers who happen to read this, each time you come in from a training walk with blistered feet, sore hips, and shin splints. Please remember that the miles you pound on city pavement in 90-degree summer heat will pay off when your donors see you walking 60 miles in three days and pull out their checkbooks and credit cards in each subsequent year. What you're doing may seem at times like a rather pointless endeavor, especially when you got rained on, HARD, a mile from your house while out on an evening training walk, and then got splashed by passing cars. Or forgot your insect repellent and got enthusiastically snacked on by local mosquitoes. Or especially when you do a nine mile walk and come in hurting from that, thinking "how on EARTH am I going to do sixty miles?"

What you're doing is worth it. It's not a stupid, rash thing you're doing at all. You're taking a calculated risk, betting that if you go out and do everything you can to show that you care and that you're going to go the distance for the cause, your donors will stand up and act accordingly.

And they will.

You are doing something that matters. You are sacrificing, giving of yourself, and contributing to a fight against an enemy as bad as they come. Remember that when you're questioning whether it's all worth it.

That's why even as I head off to France on Monday, my thoughts will really be with my sisters and brothers of the 3-Day family. I can't wait to see all of you in Boston, the Twin Cities, Washington, and Tampa Bay. But, no matter where you walk, my thoughts will be with you.

Keep up the good fight.

jayfurr: (At the Plunge)
Question for people who've visited France but wanted to stay reachable by friends, family, and work back in the USA: did you rent a cell phone that would work on European networks (the kind that gives your American associates a local number to call that rings through to your cell), did you buy a regular burn phone once you got to Europe, are you one of those lucky sorts whose US cell carrier supports phones that work on both US and European bands, or what?

We have service through Verizon, so no luck there -- and while we could certainly buy a burn phone once in France we're not sure if it would be cost effective for people to call us on one, not to mention that we'd have to send out mass emails to everyone once we got the thing giving them the number.

A rental phone that we had before we left would seem like a workable option but there are so many carriers out on the Net and many of them seem frankly kind of dubious -- we really don't know what's the best option.

Parenthetically, we don't like the "none of the above, don't have a phone" option that free-thinkers might recommend. We need to be reachable for a variety of reasons.

But otherwise, we'd be very grateful to hear your suggestions.

jayfurr: (At the Plunge)
Question for people who've visited France but wanted to stay reachable by friends, family, and work back in the USA: did you rent a cell phone that would work on European networks (the kind that gives your American associates a local number to call that rings through to your cell), did you buy a regular burn phone once you got to Europe, are you one of those lucky sorts whose US cell carrier supports phones that work on both US and European bands, or what?

We have service through Verizon, so no luck there -- and while we could certainly buy a burn phone once in France we're not sure if it would be cost effective for people to call us on one, not to mention that we'd have to send out mass emails to everyone once we got the thing giving them the number.

A rental phone that we had before we left would seem like a workable option but there are so many carriers out on the Net and many of them seem frankly kind of dubious -- we really don't know what's the best option.

Parenthetically, we don't like the "none of the above, don't have a phone" option that free-thinkers might recommend. We need to be reachable for a variety of reasons.

But otherwise, we'd be very grateful to hear your suggestions.

Paris

Mar. 22nd, 2010 01:04 pm
jayfurr: (Bald Knob)
I've never been to Europe. I've seen 49 US states and about half the Canadian provinces and I've been to places like the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, and the Bahamas on a cruise, but I've never been across the Atlantic or Pacific at all. Blame it on a family tradition of every vacation being a long road trip to see American national parks.

But this summer we're finally going to Europe. Carole got to go to London when she was in college, but neither of us has ever been to France. Thanks to all the travel that I've done for work, I've got frequent flier tickets to Paris from Boston on Lufthansa that take us into Paris the day before Bastille Day and have us heading back out two days before the Boston Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure. That's going to be an interesting two weeks, to put it mildly: Paris, Normandy, Paris again, then home to spend four days crewing a 3-Day. Then back to the grind.

I'm tickled that I've accumulated enough Hilton points and award certificates earned via various promotions that we've got six nights at VERY expensive hotels FREE. Three days at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe, close to EVERYTHING. Right in center city Paris. Then we go to Normandy for three days and two nights, then come back and stay two nights at the Waldorf-Astoria Trianon Palace Versailles. Then one more night at the center city Hilton Arc de Triomphe, and then we fly back to the USA.

Thanks to all the award travel, the only major stuff we'll be paying for will be two nights at a hotel overlooking Omaha Beach, the train tickets there and back, and the Hertz rental car. Apparently Hertz points don't work in Europe, but the rental car won't be costing a lot anyway, not for the amount of time we'll have it up in Normandy.

I'm not sharing all this to brag or anything. We could never afford to do this sort of thing if we were paying for it all out of our own pockets -- but thanks to my travel-heavy work lifestyle, we're not going to have to.

And now we can focus on what we want to DO while we're in Paris. I mean, obviously we're going to spend a whole day at Versailles while we're staying down there, but we've got multiple days in Paris proper to plan out... allowing, of course, for the fact that ONE of those days will be Bastille Day. I told Carole it would be sort of like staying in a hotel on the Mall in Washington, DC on Independence Day. Quiet, it won't be. :)

Paris

Mar. 22nd, 2010 01:04 pm
jayfurr: (Bald Knob)
I've never been to Europe. I've seen 49 US states and about half the Canadian provinces and I've been to places like the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, and the Bahamas on a cruise, but I've never been across the Atlantic or Pacific at all. Blame it on a family tradition of every vacation being a long road trip to see American national parks.

But this summer we're finally going to Europe. Carole got to go to London when she was in college, but neither of us has ever been to France. Thanks to all the travel that I've done for work, I've got frequent flier tickets to Paris from Boston on Lufthansa that take us into Paris the day before Bastille Day and have us heading back out two days before the Boston Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure. That's going to be an interesting two weeks, to put it mildly: Paris, Normandy, Paris again, then home to spend four days crewing a 3-Day. Then back to the grind.

I'm tickled that I've accumulated enough Hilton points and award certificates earned via various promotions that we've got six nights at VERY expensive hotels FREE. Three days at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe, close to EVERYTHING. Right in center city Paris. Then we go to Normandy for three days and two nights, then come back and stay two nights at the Waldorf-Astoria Trianon Palace Versailles. Then one more night at the center city Hilton Arc de Triomphe, and then we fly back to the USA.

Thanks to all the award travel, the only major stuff we'll be paying for will be two nights at a hotel overlooking Omaha Beach, the train tickets there and back, and the Hertz rental car. Apparently Hertz points don't work in Europe, but the rental car won't be costing a lot anyway, not for the amount of time we'll have it up in Normandy.

I'm not sharing all this to brag or anything. We could never afford to do this sort of thing if we were paying for it all out of our own pockets -- but thanks to my travel-heavy work lifestyle, we're not going to have to.

And now we can focus on what we want to DO while we're in Paris. I mean, obviously we're going to spend a whole day at Versailles while we're staying down there, but we've got multiple days in Paris proper to plan out... allowing, of course, for the fact that ONE of those days will be Bastille Day. I told Carole it would be sort of like staying in a hotel on the Mall in Washington, DC on Independence Day. Quiet, it won't be. :)

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