Nick Kirsch

Just keeping things simple.

Nick’s Location Changer - 1.0

% cat bin/locationchanger

#!/bin/bash
# Nick's Location Changer - 1.0
# 
# Automatically enables or disables Bluetooth depending on presence of
# the Thunderbolt adapter (en3).
#
# That makes it great for plugging and unplugging laptops, since
# Bluetooth keyboards and trackpads are really only used when attached
# to the Thunderbolt monitor.
#
# This makes sharing one Thunderbolt monitor between two systems (say,
# a Macbook and a Mini) really easy.  The inspiration came from the
# original LocationChanger:
#   http://tech.inhelsinki.nl/locationchanger/
#
# You should use the instructions to have OS X call the script. I also
# couldn't have done it without blueutil:
#
#     http://www.frederikseiffert.de/blueutil
#
# Good luck!
#
# WARNINGS
#
# XXX NMK - NO error checking. I'm sure this can break in many ways.

# XXX NMK - Detect interface automatically. For now use en3.  This is
#           the Thunderbolt interface on my MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
INTERFACE=en3

# LOG
#
# To tail log: sudo tail -f /var/log/system.log | grep 'Bluetooth:' 
# To view log: sudo cat /var/log/system.log | grep 'Bluetooth:' 
#
LOGGER=/usr/bin/logger

BLUEUTIL=/usr/local/bin/blueutil
# http://www.frederikseiffert.de/blueutil/" 

# BLUE TOOTH STATUS
# We don't check for "off", we just check for "on".
BLUESTATUSSTR="0==on, 1==!on"
BLUESTATUS=`${BLUEUTIL} status | /usr/bin/awk '{print $2}'`
if [ ${BLUESTATUS} == "on" ]; then
    BLUESTATUS=0
else
    BLUESTATUS=1
fi
BLUESTATUSSTR="Bluetooth: now ${BLUESTATUS}; ${BLUESTATUSSTR})."

${LOGGER} "Location Changed - begin. ${BLUESTATUSSTR}".

# If the interface exists, "enable" bluetooth. Otherwise "disable."
/sbin/ifconfig ${INTERFACE}
if [ $? -eq 0 ]; then
    ${LOGGER} "${INTERFACE} exists, enabling ${BLUESTATUSSTR}."
    if [ ${BLUESTATUS} -ne 0 ]; then
        ${BLUEUTIL} on
    fi
else
    ${LOGGER} "${INTERFACE} does not exist, disabling ${BLUESTATUSSTR}."
    if [ ${BLUESTATUS} -eq 0 ]; then
        ${BLUEUTIL} off
    fi
fi

${LOGGER} "Location Changed - end. ${BLUESTATUSSTR}".

# XXX NMK - We exit with the same status as blueutil.
exit ${BLUESTATUS}

Goodbye, 2013!

I typically combine my annual look-back and resolutions into a single entry, but this year I have decidedly to separate them. 2013 was an ordinary year by most measures, but underneath the waves of change are picking up momentum.

The news of my father’s diagnosis of primary progressive aphasia was the first time when I really felt as if my parents were aging. I had a lengthy seven weeks off Isilon, and I ultimately came to grips with the realization that it wasn’t work fulfillment that I was missing, but something else. In September, Zack’s first son, Cody, was born - happy and healthy, and Melissa and Kevin decided to move their large and loving family of 7+ to Oregon. Now my mother has been diagnosed with acute hypertension thyroid, which is further slowing down my parents ability to travel.

I just celebrated my first Christmas in 35 years without my parents, as all of the children are now on the west coast. I hope we can have many more holidays with our parents, but this shift to the west  marks a big change in our lives. We had a great time though, and here’s a fun video.

I had themed 2013 as RENEWAL and I put my resolutions into three simple categories: Health, Family, and Growth. I have scored them below:

HEALTH

  • Running - (4) half-marathons and three times a week

I ran two official half-marathons (Mercer Island and Seattle) but ran half-marathon distance seven times. I had a hard time achieving a regular schedule with running, especially during the week. I’ll give this a C+.

  • Exercise - daily: running, elliptical, or other

I maintained a daily exercise regiment for about 1.5 months, but stopped trying during winter. This is a solid D-.

  • Moderation - stay away from overeating, drinking, etc.

I modulated most unhealthy behaviors around drinking, over-eating, etc. I still find myself slipping a few areas, so this gets a B-.

Overall, HEALTH is going to be a C- due to lack of follow-through.

FAMILY

  • Focus on positive discipline and outlets for Jerry

I put a lot of effort the last part of the year to get Jerry (and Momo) on a regular night-time schedule, help Jerry around homework discipline, and spend more quality time with him. Of course, Jerry himself has grown and is developing nicely (and he deserves most of the credit.) Still, it took me a while to figure this out so I’ll have to go with a C+.

  • Wean Momoko off of night-time wake-ups

The kids have a regular sleep routine and Momo sleeps great! I do put the kids to bed every night that I’m home (and lay with them anywhere between 10-30 minutes) but it is one of those special moments that I’m blessed to make time for. This is my best achievement of the year, a solid A.

  • Bring back the monthly date night with Eriko

Sadly, I think Eriko and I had only two date nights this year. Since the kids sleeping routine is better, we have more quality time in the evening together but I haven’t achieved my original goal of getting us out of the house. Score: D-

Overall FAMILY score is a B-; I’m really happy here.

GROWTH

  • Weekly Journaling and a Monthly Blog Post

I failed to deliver on this for the seventh year in a row… I haven’t been able to effectively journal or blog since we’ve gotten married (which I think is related to free time more than anything else…) I am installing a writing desk in my bedroom, however, so I have high hopes for 2014. Score: F

  • Projects - a great many! The MG, the Raspberry PI, etc.

I also did not make meaningful progress on the many projects I am actively exploring, but I did improve the electronics lab and home computing environments. I made limited progress on the MG but really need to get the workshop in shape so I can feel more comfortable exploring. Score: D

  • Reading - would love to consume a novel a month.

I didn’t achieve this entirely, but I did read five meaty books (including books 2-4 of A Song of Ice and Fire). Nonetheless, score is an D.

Growth score this year has to be a D-. I didn’t make enough time for myself, or didn’t focus on myself when I had the time.

This wasn’t a great year for moving personal goals forward and it wasn’t a great year in terms of my parents health, but I do believe I did a lot of things to build the base for years to come. This felt very much like a hump year and I’m looking forward to 2014!

Summer of Yearning (and Learning)

Let me first start by saying that I have a great job. I have an amazing position which affords me a wonderful balance of technical, business, strategy, and communication. I work with great people, some of whom I have known for many years and others which I have the opportunity to forge new relationships with. I work inside the fastest growing division, with the fastest growing product in the industry, contained within the industry’s leading company. I have absolutely no reason to complain and every reason to be excited and grateful.

But seven weeks ago, I was uncomfortable. I needed a change. I’ve been in the same company for almost eleven years (not that this particular number is important, given how much change I’ve experienced). My father’s health had thrown me for a bit of a loop and the summer itch was on.

I explored a few opportunities - and here again I am incredibly fortunate - I have the opportunity to co-found my own startup, to join a company post-seed, post-A, close-to-product, post-product, and so-on. Essentially, any stage of company was open to me, with a variety of roles and a varying degree of pace. But I found none of them exciting enough to quench this uncomfortable feeling inside - they were all missing the mark.

I was honest and open with my boss during this period and he offered to have me go on an extended vacation to figure things out. He did so knowing that not returning was certainly within my set of options, but he encouraged me to go anyway. So for the last seven weeks I have had a lot of time to think about what I want next. I spent 10 days by myself here in Seattle, 10 days in Japan with Eriko’s family, 10 days in Pennsylvania with my parents and sister, and now have one last week of vacation here in Seattle.

What did I discover? What did I realize? That isn’t my work that I want to change. Don’t get me wrong - there are always things to improve and challenges to overcome, but the yearning that I have right now is to focus on making myself a better person:

  • How do I cultivate a stronger relationship with my wife and my children? 
  • What hobbies do I invest myself in? What am I outside of a career?
  • How do I become closer to my family? My brother, my sisters, my parents?
  • What will it take to live a healthier life, both physically and mentally?
  • How can I become more internally motivated to balance out the external motivation?

I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had to turn off the noise and listen to myself. I can’t express enough thanks to my boss and my company for giving me this privilege. Now I’m ready to move forward with the next phase of my life - and I feel great.

My family

Family is more than genetics. Family can be your best friends and best friends can be your family.

My father was recently diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia (PPA), an identity stealing degenerative brain condition. While his body may remain healthy for some time, it will rob me of my father, my role model, and the person I have spent my life emulating. I have always been proud to be called “his clone” (although it isn’t always intended as a compliment.)

I worry about my mother, as she will have so many additional burdens: watching her husband disappear before her eyes, transforming from a partner to caregiver, and ultimately facing the world by herself. Not that she isn’t a strong woman, with all the support she could need, but she will have to rediscover that part of herself.

It may be that the passing of one’s parents forces everyone to consider their own life: where you’ve come from, where you are, and where you want to be. The irony of life is that’s only long when you’re looking at it. When you’re living it, it’s always shorter than you can imagine.

My own children are suddenly that - my children. Jerry just had his seventh birthday; a milestone I couldn’t comprehend seven years ago. He’s a real boy: in first grade, reading books, climbing trees, playing baseball, and getting in plenty of trouble along the way. Momoko has suddenly become a young lady; at just three years old she provides a glimpse into the young woman she’ll grow to be. Earlier this year, I took steps to ensure that we would be a two children household. Jerry and Momo are everything I could want and all that I have. Eriko seems happier than ever, having developed her own extended network of friends and activities.

My brother, Zack, is months away from being a father of his own and for the first time I will have the ability to be a real uncle (as we have the fortune of living not only in the same city, but merely blocks away). My eldest sister, Melissa, has five children but they are far away and our lives are not nearly as intertwined as I could imagine them to be. I hope that someday Katrina, my little big sister, will give up the sun and move to Seattle. 

My other family, my work family, has grown up as well. I’ve made many great friends, seen many lives grow and change, and have grown tremendously myself. I’ve seen many grow up and move on, move out, and watched their journeys from afar. I now approach my eleventh year, with amazing memories of the past and tremendous uncertainty around my future. 

But I’m certain of one thing. I have an incredible family.

Welcome, 2013!

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. -J. Pierpont Morgan

My 2012 theme was balance and while I didn’t always achieve it, it has become a mindset.

This year is about renewal.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I put my resolutions into three simple categories: Health, Family, and Growth. 

Health

  • Running - (4) half-marathons and three times a week
  • Exercise - daily: running, elliptical, or other
  • Moderation - stay away from overeating, drinking, etc.
Things do not change; we change. -Henry David Thoreau

Family

  • Focus on positive discipline and outlets for Jerry
  • Wean Momoko off of night-time wake-ups
  • Bring back the monthly date night with Eriko
Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point. -Harold B. Melchart

Growth

  • Weekly Journaling and a Monthly Blog Post
  • Projects - a great many! The MG, the Raspberry PI, etc.
  • Reading - would love to consume a novel a month.

Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves. -Dale Carnegie

No matter what you do in 2013, do your best at it!

Happy New Year!

Eriko’s first produce - I hope for much more!

Eriko’s first produce - I hope for much more!

Think of Yourself

I was in Nagoya last week, on our last night, in the 8th floor of a commercial building at some kind of pasta restaraunt. Momo was scarving down pizza, Jerry was laying on my lap, and I was chatting with Eriko’s mom about my career.

I told her I had four “things” I wanted to accomplish:

1) Be a father
2) Hold a leadership role
3) Start a company
4) “Retire” a professor

Through broken Japanese, broken English, and Eriko, I explained that my milestones were at different points in life - first learn from others, than do yourself, then teach others. But constant through all of these was my responsibility to be a father - and without intending to, I conveyed my concern that I could not balance these things.

She told me (via Eriko) something that has stuck with me - “think of yourself.” As you consider your career, your next move, what you want in life - put your family aside for the moment. Don’t let concern cloud your vision - think freely. Perhaps it wasn’t so much that her mother said things to me, but that Eriko agreed and encouraged me.

What will I be, when I grow up?