Zach’s 4th Birthday Party!

We planned a last minute party for Zach at Playworld in Grandville. Java Gym (the location we chose last year) has closed so it wasn’t an option. We also checked into MVP and a few others but in the end Playworld won out as we figured the kids would love to play while the adults could (hopefully) talk.

The kids seemed to have a blast! I took twice as many pictures as included in the album but most of them were blurry. Need a better DSLR (with higher usable ISO).

https://picasaweb.google.com/chad.kettner/ZachS4thBirthdayParty

Catching Up

I’ve neglected the blog for well over a year now, it appears. Here’s a short recap of what’s happened.

In August of 2010, the Kettner clan traveled to North Carolina to attend the wedding of one of Kellie’s cousins. We drove down and despite our hesitations, Zach did very well. It was a thing of beauty to have my parents with us as four adults watching one child is so much better than two. I think we all had a blast though the vacation wasn’t nearly long enough. Here are some photos:

https://picasaweb.google.com/chad.kettner/NorthCarolinaWedding2010

Later in the month, Kellie and I enjoyed a mini-vacation over a long weekend to attend another wedding in the Tawas area of Michigan (north of the thumb). Zach stayed with his grandparents so we felt like honeymooners again and had a fabulous time. Here are some pictures from that trip.

https://picasaweb.google.com/chad.kettner/JoiSWeddingGetaway

The Kettner clan took our usual trips to Traverse City in the fall (October) and the spring (May). Both trips were enjoyable as usual but the May trip deserves special mention because I completed the Bayshore marathon while there. It was my first and probably only marathon and I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of the experience. Yes, there was pain in the later miles but without the struggle, the achievement wouldn’t be such a milestone. Here are some photos from both trips.

https://picasaweb.google.com/chad.kettner/WineColorTour2010

https://picasaweb.google.com/chad.kettner/TraverseCitySpring2011

Along the way, we celebrated Zach’s first Christmas and birthday, and he’s grown by leaps and bounds both physically and developmentally (is that a word?). We’ve also celebrated several other achievements that I won’t mention specifically to avoid it sounding like we’re bragging. If you know us well, you’ll know what I’m referring to.

In June, we had the privilege of hosting a mini-reunion at our condo for Kellie’s extended family from North Carolina. We held a baby shower, celebrated birthdays, and immersed ourselves in the pleasure of wonderful company. Here are some photos from our official photo shoot.

https://picasaweb.google.com/chad.kettner/HesterReunionPhotoshoot

I’ll try to keep this a little more up-to-date but I make no promises. Life moves fast and I’d rather be experiencing it than writing about the past!

May Travel

I took two trips in May: the first was a long weekend in Traverse City during the middle of the month. My parents, Kellie, Zach, and I stayed at the Tamarack Lodge again and attended a wine release party at Left Foot Charley. We also had a great time visiting with the Acres (Steve is a former coworker from Steelcase) and my aunt and uncle who live up that way. It was Zach’s first road trip and while not without it’s challenges, we all had a great time.

http://picasaweb.google.com/chad.kettner/TraverseCitySpring2010

I returned last weekend from Las Vegas where I was with a bunch of guys for a bachelor party/getaway. It was my first time to Sin city and my expectations were exceeded despite the number of people who talked up the city prior to my departure. The size and scale of everything there is unbelievable and the fact that every morning when I got up for breakfast, there were people just getting in from the night before astounded me. I wasn’t able to get a lot of pictures but it really doesn’t matter because the pictures can’t do justice to how massive the place really is.

http://picasaweb.google.com/chad.kettner/LasVegasSpring2010

Breaking the Silence

It’s been four months since my last post so I figure it’s time to break the silence, so to speak. Life threw some changes my way and it’s taken me several months to adapt. The two biggest changes were the birth of my son, Zachary, on March 6th and starting a new job with Wolverine World Wide on April 5th. Both were full of what can only be described as a nervous excitement but reflecting back on them now, I’m very happy with how things have turned out.

Zach was born via cesarean after roughly 28 hours of labor in which he would not drop down for a normal delivery. We brought him home and every day since has been a learning experience – how much he eats, sleeps, and plays has constantly changes as he matures. Now at nearly 11 weeks, Zach continues to grow in a multitude of ways and increasingly brings joy to my days while losing some of the neediness of a newborn. We’ve even started traveling with him: We took a trip up to Traverse City for a long weekend a few days ago and things went better than I had expected!

On the job front, I’m settling in well to my new role doing similar work to what I was doing at Steelcase: enterprise data warehousing and analysis (SAP BW). I was looking for a better work/life balance (i.e. not working 50+ hour weeks and always being on call), better benefits (401k matching, bonus, pension, etc), and better pay. I found it all at Wolverine with only one down side: a longer commute. I’m now 18 miles one way versus 5 miles. Oh well, can’t win them all.

I hope to get back into a regular habit of posting things I find interesting now that things have calmed down a bit. Time will tell if I’m successful!

Lower Level Vent

Last summer I ventured into the attic and tackled a project aimed at more efficiently cooling my condo. I installed air ducts to pull the hottest air down from the ceiling and into the air conditioner unit in the basement. I used vent covers that could be opened in the summer and closed in the winter. It worked pretty well.

Now I’m aiming to do the same thing for the winter. For about $25 in parts, I’m installing a return air vent in the basement to suck in the coldest air and heat it. I did most of the work today – cutting the drywall and assembling the duct piping – and need only to obtain a six inch circular hole saw to complete the project. Hopefully I can do that over the next week or two.

IMG_0616

What I really don’t understand is why most homes aren’t built with more efficient return air ducts in the first place. Is it because builders know most home owners won’t open and close the vents twice a year with the changing of the seasons? It blows my mind…

Updated Security

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to take digital security and privacy more seriously. I can now check that one off the list as completed. Why the resolution in the first place? Where to begin…

Stop Cyber Crime I don’t think I’m all that different from the vast majority of people in the world and as such, I probably make most of the same mistakes. For instance, I have used the same password for four or five years straight now at all sorts of online websites and for all sorts of functions. If only one of those sites were ever compromised or even if only one of those sites’ administrators took advantage of the user credentials in their possession, I could be in a world of hurt. From bank accounts to brokerage accounts to retirement accounts, my financial life could be devastated.

I also keep a lot of financial and credential information in a text file on my various machines – one copy on my work laptop and another on the server on my home network. This file exists as a master record of most of my user names and passwords for financial sites, social security numbers, banking, routing, and credit card numbers, etc. I started it years ago to keep track of passwords and information in case I ever came down with the momentary symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but mostly it’s useful for when I want to purchase something online but don’t have my credit card handy. Just open the file and there’s my information. Anyone who has been on my home network or work laptop has had complete access to this – they just didn’t realize it.

Lastly, I’ve noticed some issues with the security on the home network over the past few years. Knowing that encrypting wireless network signals demand overhead bandwidth and thus lowers actual throughput, I opted to use only MAC address filtering: permitting only those computers I knew and trusted. Strange thing is, the Wii worked and could access the internet long before I added its MAC address and others have brought over laptops that have exhibited the same behavior. I can’t figure out why this happens with my router but in reading up on it, I learned that MAC spoofing is easy enough for a toddler to do these days so my network really isn’t secure at all. Most likely that’s why there are frequently several computers on my network for which I can’t account.

Combine all this together and you have the potential for a wardriving crook to drive by my home, jump on my wireless network, access the shared files on my server, grab all my financial information and passwords, then use that information to drain all of my accounts – all while using my freely available internet connection. Talk about rolling out the proverbial red carpet for the would be cyber criminal.

So this evening I did my homework and made some changes. I’ve adopted a new password and while I plan to use the new password at all of my current websites, at least it’s a different password than what dozens of forums and other one-time use websites have stored for me. Sure, I could adopt a unique, computer-generated password for each site I visit, but I’m not yet that paranoid. I’d like to be able to remember my password and not have to look them up for each site I visit frequently.

I also downloaded Steganos LockNote to replace my text file of important information. LockNote is a neat little self-contained program that acts as an encrypted (AES 256-bit), password-protected text file. Not only does the would be viewer need a password to access the file, the contents are encrypted with one of the highest cryptographic ciphers currently known. AES 256-bit is the only algorithm approved by the United States government (including the NSA) for use on Top Secret documents. My LockNote file is so secure, I could post it publicly on the internet and boast about it containing access to millions of dollars that are up for grabs. At the earliest, someone might crack it in 75 million years (but inflation will have effectively reduced the prize to $0 by that point). Needless to say, it’s secure.

Lastly, I tightened down the home network by removing MAC filtering and enabling WPA2. WPA2 is currently the highest grade security protocol that exists for wireless connections. Without my pre-shared key, access to the network could only be obtained through a brute force attack (in this case taking somewhere in the neighborhood of two million years). If I’m still in the neighborhood at that time, they can have access.

Garage Project Officially Finished!

This weekend I took advantage of the beautiful weather and finished the last two steps in the garage project of 2009. I got up into the attic and installed the gable vent on the backside of the garage (see photo) and I finished installing weatherstripping around the garage service door. Now we’re officially ready for winter.

IMG_0543

I really liked this vent from Builder’s Edge. I special ordered it at Lowes in the brown finish to closely match the exterior of the building and it looks great. Aside from being off-centered (didn’t feel like cutting structural wood) it could almost pass for being original – which is important given that there are a few members of our condo association who disapprove of any changes to the external of the buildings.

Motorcycle Thoughts

I finally heard the news that Buell is being discontinued. Harley evidently didn’t want the Buell name around anymore and instead of selling it, they’re killing it. Be that what it is, I still love my Buell and hope to enjoy many years with it.

While reading up on that news, I stumbled across a nice motorcycling news blog and saw this video on it. It’s a mockery of the high-revving import bikes and it really made me laugh out loud.

Allison’s Birthday and Audi TT Brakes

Kellie and I hosted a birthday party for Kellie’s sister, Allison, last Friday night. We made some tasty white chicken chili paired with a white table wine from Menage a Trois – very good. After stuffing ourselves with dinner, the ladies played cards while the guys played video games. I hadn’t played Smash Bros on the Wii in ages.

IMG_0498

On Saturday, I undertook a project that I’ve been both dreading and looking forward to: a brake upgrade on the Audi TT. Back in July, I was informed by the dealership that my brakes were nearly expired… and they wanted $1400 to fix them. I sourced some better parts on the aftermarket for a fraction of that and they’ve been sitting in the garage ever since. I spent five hours on Saturday (including a trip to Autozone for a 7mm hex 3/8 socket and Sears for a new jack – it started leaking oil on the first lift and died halfway up the second lift) and three hours on Sunday (including another trip to Autozone for a 8mm hex 3/8 socket). Even if I valued my time at $125 an hour, I still came out ahead. They look so much better and work perfectly so far.

Before
IMG_0499

During
IMG_0501

After
IMG_0502

The Last Few Weeks

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated so here’s what I’ve been up to. The weekend of the 10th, I attended Hope’s Homecoming activities and my class’ five year reunion. It was a full day packed with fun things to do and catching up with several old friends. We had brunch in the morning followed by our class picture. After some exploring of campus, we headed to the football game and tailgating/picnic’ing. Some warm hot chocolate was in order afterward so we patronized JPs before attending the class party at New Holland Brewery. Here are some photos!

http://picasaweb.google.com/chad.kettner/HopeHomecoming5YearReunion

Last week went by in a blur. I had two quick days in the office and spent Wednesday and Thursday working out of the High Point, North Carolina office. I caught the corporate jet down and back so it was a breeze but still very busy… I even made it to class Thursday night. Friday morning we left for Traverse City on our annual wine and color tour. It was a beautiful weekend full of wining and dining, shopping, visiting friends, and of course, relaxing. For photos, check the following link.

http://picasaweb.google.com/chad.kettner/WineColorTour2009

Sorry to keep it short but I’m writing this between running jobs at work. Yes, still working at 10 PM!