Fanax: the Mycenaean term for "king"; pronounced "wanax". The funny initial letter, "F", is called digamma and shows up in Archaic Greek epigraphy (papyrus and tablet writings). The sound, if not the letter form, and its linguistic equivalent initially show up in the heiroglyphic writings (Linear B) of Bronze Age Greece both at Pylos, in the far west of Greece (Peloponnese), and at Knossos in north central Crete, the funny "F". Specifically, digamma shows up in the Greek of Homer's Iliad with the word "F"anax, but there it's a "rough breathing" in the form "(h)anax", where the term is linked to an important individual at Pylos. In Classical and Hellenistic Greek, the F continues in this aspirant, or "h" sound, form at the beginning of many Greek words.

Entries Tagged as family

the Food Farm

February 28, 2010 ·

How cool is this?  Just sorry that we weren't able to make the trip up for the award!  My folks and brother in the news:

Food Farm's Fisher-Merrit family wins MOSES farmer of the Year

Tags: family

musicians in the family

May 19, 2009 ·

So, my grandfather, Charles Fisher, known to us as 'Gus', was a music professor at Northwestern, where he taught the young lady who was a piano student at the school and a voice student of his and became his wife and my grandmother Shirley, known to us as 'Gert'. Granpa Fisher was a choral director much of his life, retiring as conductor of the Boise Master Chorale.  My son, Ian, age 8, was recently recommended to the Cincinnait Boychoir by his music teacher.  Auditions were last night, May 18, and Ian was accepted into the Training Choir.  Rehearsals / training will start next fall.  As he trains up and develops, the next tier is the Resident Choir, which is a transition to the Tour Choir, which tours the world giving performances:  Honolulu, Carnegie Hall, Austria, German, the Czech Republic, Arizona, Canada, and on and on, as well as numerous TV appearances.

In celebration of this grand honor and just simply in celebration of Ian's high love of music, I want to share some other Fisher music.  Not only do my mother's sisters have phenomenal voices, including an aunt who majored in Voice and still sings professionally (love you, Laurie ;-), but my Granma Fisher took voice from my Granpa Fisher (yes, since I was a young lad I always spelled those honorifics without the "d").  At Gus's funeral a few years ago, he scripted the entire ceremony, including a set of pre-recorded music.  The fourth track on that CD was a set of recordings from his doctoral dissertation defense, which my grandmother had never even heard.  Here, for your listening pleasure, is my grandfather, Charles Fisher, singing Air from Comus (G F Handel) and The Divine Image (John Donne), as he performed them in 1953.

I played this track for Ian last night when he and Sue got back from the auditions:  Air from Comus / The Divine Image


Share and Enjoy,

miss you, Granpa!


Tags: family

I am so done

March 30, 2009 ·

Sue's email to the Dean of Students at Deer Park Junior / Senior High this afternoon, following another situation of utter insanity after Andrew missed 3 days last week, due to vomiting (you'll get the reference at the end).

Hi Mr. Klasmeier,

I hope you're having a good week!

I have two concerns I wanted to bring to your attention.  The first is that Andrew's lock (the actual combination lock) is broken and is taking 10 or 12 times to open each time, thus making him late for classes.  He said that we can't just purchase a different lock because it has to be a school-approved lock.  Can we therefore get a new lock for him? And in the interim can he be at least spared his teachers' wrath for being late?

Secondly, I want to raise my frustration over the process of make-up work.  At Howard, Holmes, and Amity all you need to do is call in the morning and they have work to send home that afternoon.  Very often the child can get a bunch of the work done prior to returning to school.  If the work isn't all finished, or if there is more that has not been sent/picked up, the teachers have it ready to roll when the child returns.  In fact, my younger son missed two weeks at the beginning of the year and walked in on week three and wasn't behind AT ALL.  From what I have learned in the first three quarters of this year, at the Jr. High a two-week absence would involve at least six weeks of Progress Book monitoring, countless emails to teachers, and daily grilling of a stressed-out child to make sure that everything was known about, completed, and ENTERED on Progress Book.  This is asinine.  Likewise, I have not gone one quarter yet where I haven't had to hound a faculty member over work that Andrew finished, but was then deemed missing or that took weeks to get updated.  He has started asking for receipts when he hands in assignments.

Now I understand that as kids get older it should become their responsibility to ask for what they have missed.  I totally agree. However, when a student is making a full attempt at completing his work, the process should support rather than hinder him.  Having wasted another hour of my life emailing faculty, it would appear that, given the Jr. High's abysmal process, it might be more pleasant for everyone involved if I just sent my son to school vomiting.

Thanks for your attention to these matters.


Sue Fisher

Tags: family

The Oddities of Leaving

November 04, 2008 ·

Have you ever left a job that you didn’t feel bad about leaving?  I don’t know that I have, not really.  Looking back across half a career, it seems like there have been two general categories:  jobs that sucked but it felt like "if I could just [fill in the blank], I could help this thing turn the corner ...", and then jobs that were fine or even great, the kind you leave because the new opportunity is simply too good to pass up or because the current job is great but not a great fit.

In the rough spots, that first category, there are the good people that you’re leaving behind.  They’re still there, dealing with whatever made the place rough to begin with.  Lingering doubts of “could I have done more?” coupled with the knowledge that I could have done more, but not probably enough to make a difference.  Lingering doubts of “maybe it was just me being a jerk or being out of touch” but then watching a parade of others leave every month or two for a year after I’ve left.  Watched my boss leave once a few months after I did, inspired, she said, by my decision.

So, when you’re in a good spot, in that second category, why in the world would you leave?! What, are you nuts??  I’ve been functioning as a business analyst (BA) for the past year or so, a professional IT consultant tasked with helping to define and guide software projects.  This is a highly valuable role in today’s market, so when I float a resume on a job board, even when the resume is development-oriented, I get regular contact from HR reps and consultancies offering to discuss Great BA Opportunities.  Don’t get me wrong, I actually really do enjoy doing BA work, which is why I left my last job to focus on that area of the market.  Huge need in market, I have strengths there, great match and a good move on my part.  Problem is that it’s not all I want to be doing.  Secondary problem is that if I want to be a BA, there’s no way I would leave Cardinal to do so … I can already be a BA, change companies every year or so, get opportunities to learn new businesses and new processes, all while having the support of a well run, employee-centric consulting firm.

So, the decision to jet comes down to one of two causes, which can be related, although they don’t have to be.  One possibility is that the current great job is simply not the best fit, “You know, I really want to be doing X”, whether it’s more or at all.  Another possibility is that an opportunity comes to you which is simply excellent, either because of the career opportunities, the money, or the fit, which is where the 2 causes can be tightly related.  People are known to make lateral or even backwards moves to get a better fit with their hopes and dreams or preferences.  Sometimes these things only come clear over time, so “fit” is distinctly changeable.

Business analysis was certainly one of those areas for me.  I have been doing BA work in one capacity or another since I started doing freelance software development projects back in the mid-90s.  I like talking to users, I like figuring out what they really need to be doing, and I love designing software solutions that can meet those needs efficiently and effectively.  As I noted earlier, there is a huge need in the market for these skills, and so it was an excellent career move to narrow my focus and to head off in that direction.  But I miss the execution.  Especially in large corporations, in huge IT groups, it’s impossible to even get visibility into design and development because the execution is so many steps removed from the users and the BA.  Forget about influencing design and development.  For me, that’s simply no good.  I am a strong system designer, a strong database designer, and I see solutions in all their complexities.  That ability to analyze and to track all the variables is what makes a good BA, but no one reads documentation, period, they just don’t, which means that a good BA can only bring his expertise to bear if he can influence / participate in design and development, at least at some level.   In my opinion this is what makes agile methodologies like Scrum so strong:  get the business rep (BA, PM, whatever) on the project team, make the whole team accountable to each other, define short bursts of clear direction, and get out of their way while they figure out how to nail it.  Keep documentation to manageable levels and make sure that the business rep (BA, PM, whatever) is fully engaged.  Let the ScrumMaster help keep the work clean and the wheels moving, and let ‘er rip.

All that being said, this Friday I roll off my consulting gig, to no longer be a Cardinal Solutions consultant bringing my BA skills to Fortune 500 clients in the Cincinnati area.  As of next Monday, I will be the Manager of IT for Gardner Publications, a closely held publishing company, managing their department of programmers, database folks, and network specialists.  Whether or not I push code, or regardless of how much code I end up pushing, I will be once again deeply involved in actually architecting and delivering solutions for problems both immediate and strategic.  And so, as much as I hesitated to leave a company as supportive as Cardinal has been – and they have been amazingly supportive, I cannot express how excited I am to be making this move!

New challenges, a new industry (it’s not seasonal textbooks this time, it’s trade magazines in the manufacturing world), management responsibilities, and a return to the ‘real’ business of tech! for a company that was looking for exactly my skills and background to help them into and through new transitions.

God is good!

Tags: family · miscellany · software development

bugs begone

June 23, 2008 ·

So, just returned from a week's vacation in the Great White North (Minnesota) and the friggin' cicadas are definitely winding down.  Yay!

Much quieter, almost tolerable in the late afternoon when we got home yesterday, and hopefully as tolerable in the mid-afternoon today.  Smell is noticable, but not nearly as bad as it was in '04.  Maybe we missed the worst of it last week ... dunno, but we'll take it.

Had a decent trip to the north, after driving up through the far eastern edge of Wisconsin to get there, due to the substantial flooding and subsequent road closures across the southern part of the state.  About 90 miles or something of I-90/I-94 closed between Milwaukee and Madision, and most of the tributary routes closed around it as well.  Serious stuff.  Had beautiful weather up in Wrenshall, though, and pitched in to help get a lot of work done.  Managed to be there for both Janaki's birthday and Brennan's, so that was cool, too.  Had relaxing and enjoyable stays with Dan and Laurie, too, both going and coming, so that rocked as well!

As always, however, once the days of driving are done and behind, it is such a relief to be home.  Especially when one gets home and the bugs are nearly gone. >:)

Tags: family

Busy, busy weekend

June 02, 2008 ·

Among many tiring activities this weekend, primarily centered around animal chores at Turner all weekend, Ian gave his first piano recital on Saturday afternoon, and it was awesome.  After being in class for just a few months, he's really developed a good ear and he really has a lot of fun with it.  He played a bit of Ode to Joy, and then Sue joined him for a duet on Hot Cross Buns, and it was a joy to hear.  Very proud of him, and, although he's probably ready for a bit of break over the summer, Sue will keep working with him so that he doesn't at least lose any of it ;-)

Tags: family

Cicada Hell

May 02, 2008 ·

Hopefully they won't be nearly as numerous as the massive invasion of 2004, which was Brood X, but Brood XIV is on its way, having been dormant since 1991.  Should be on the emergence over the next few weeks, and supposedly mostly a bit east of us, but not by much.  Guess we'll get what we get, but they really are truly disgusting, especially in these massive 17-year swarms.  I just hope there are few enough of them this year that the cats and dogs and birds don't get full and stop eating them!

For those who remember and those who don't, we had a very fun collective fiction on the occassion of their 2004 appearance, which can be read in full on the blog.  For those who have never been through it, or were too young to remember or have some other lame excuse, just trust me that if we get the full swarm, we're going to need your prayers!

Tags: family

Time to move on

April 06, 2007 ·

After 7 1/2 years with the same company, Global Cloud, it is finally really time to move on. I spent considerable time over the years challenging myself to make things better here, challenging myself to define new strong roles here, and hoping for changes that would both re-energize me and re-invigorate the company. A number of years ago, I started putting together my resume, and then we went through a massive strategic planning process, spending several months with a high-powered consulting company to redefine and refocus the company. Great work, great results, and a clear plan.

Which wasn't followed. I spent over a year working with other programmers to identify and start work on a new framework, since the company uses an archaic methodology for all its programming. That work was then circular filed for no clear reason, and the company continues to limp along, losing people, losing clients, and making thin-edge profits.

There is new hope, however, in the most focused product move to date, and I wish them all the very best. As for me, today is my last day, and Monday I move on to become a consultant with Cardinal Solutions Group, starting my first project for National City Mortgage. I'll be away from code and away from servers, acting as a pure project manager in the implementation phase of product updates and National enters the last 9-10 months of a 4-year project. Should be a heck of a change and a monster challenge, so I'm really looking forward to it.


Tags: family · miscellany · software development

so much sickness

December 22, 2006 ·

Wow, what a week.  So a week ago, roughly, Saturday morning at about 6:00, Ian comes trudging up the stairs ... so we ask "what's up, buddy?"  Well, he had puked in his bed and tried to clean it up himself, poor guy.  So he was sick every hour from then till about 12:30 or 1:00 that afternoon.  Meanwhile, he'd been in the church kids choir, practicing the Christmas pageant once or twice a week for several months, and the show was scheduled for Sunday morning.  So he's crushed, thinking he's done all this work for naught.  Saturday night he gets a fever which spikes out at about 102, but it broke before midnight and he was feeling pretty good come Sunday morning.

So, he made it to the pageant, which was wonderful.

Then, Monday night Andrew's feeling rocky ... we'd made it a few days, but here came wave 2.  We had him sleep on the trundle instead of the loft, and sure enough he started throwing up around midnight.  Andrew tends to take stomach stuff full bore, so he continued to be sick every hour or so all through the night till about 8:00 or 9:00 the next morning.  Never got the fever, but certainly was feeling rocky until yesterday or so.  Sue then started feeling seriously bad Tuesday night, when we were supposed to go pick up the van from Firestone where we'd sent it for an oil change before the big drive to NY this weekend.  So, I got a neighbor to drive me over, brought the van home that evening, and about bedtime, Sue started with the diarrhea every 20 minutes or so pretty much all night. 


Long story short, we're leaving for NY a day later (Saturday rather than Friday), and we're pretty much drained as a family.  All things considered, however, at least there shouldn't be any nastiness on the trip if it's all behind us now.  That's our hope at any rate!

Merry Christmas to all and God Bless You!!

Tags: family

farm chores

October 01, 2006 ·

OK, so we belong to a local farm co-op here in the Indian Hill area (the ritzy bit of town to our east). Generally, we try to limit our work commitment to 1 weekend a month, but this weekend followed last weekend in awful succession. Brutally tiring, especially two weekends in a row.

So, the goal is to allow the farmer or farmers (the full-time staff devoted to animal care) to have weekends off, since they often are driving in some distance from the country to the 'burbs to take care of the animals at Turner Farm. Bonnie, the lady who owns the place, loves animals and knows how to care for them, but due to a stroke 10 or 20 years ago, she just isn't physically capable of doing the work herself. We commit to work a few hours a week, we pay a seasonal fee, and then we get a bunch of meat products from the farm. Organic lamb, pork, chicken, and eggs, so it's a good deal. Rather than working odd hours here and there, the animals really just need to be tended morning and evening (breakfast and dinner, essentially), so by doing one weekend, we're effectively doing 4 sets of chores = 1 month's work in a single shot. This year we set aside a lot of time for Alaska, then Sue took the kids to New York for 2 weeks, and then I went to Boise 2 weekends ago, so we got compressed into September pretty badly.

Up at 7:00, to the farm by 8:00 or 8:15. Luckily, it's only about a 15-minute drive, but it's a rough schedule to kick the kids out of bed and get everyone out the door that early on both weekend mornings. Feed and water the draft horses and the donkey, and administer and medicines or other treatments they may need, water the sheep and check on them for illness or injury as they lie hidden among the trees in the far corner of the pasture (always the far corner of the pasture), feed and water the chickens being raised for slaughter (about 80 or so), feed and water 3 sets of laying hens, feed and water the hog and sows, feed and water the sow with piglets (there is usually a set), and feed and water the dogs. Usually there are special rules for the equines, somebody's hurt or somebody needs meds, and usually we're checking on a pregnant sow or newly farrowed piglets. In addition, we often have to haul 50-pound sacks of grain for various critters from a storage area to the feed bin area.

So, this was the Sunday of back-to-back weekends, and the owner just fired the animal farmer, the cowboy, on Thursday or so. In other words, we were beat to begin with, and the animals were not in terribly great shape. Meat chickens, for instance, had no food and no water yesterday morning. Took 5 full 5-gallon buckets of feed to fill their troughs, when a normal feeding time is 2 buckets.

This weekend, my routine was

  1. Get the donkey from the front pasture, making sure that the draft horses don't follow her, although they want to and they each out-weigh me by about 1,000 pounds.
  2. Take the donkey all the way across the front lots to the stable washroom, tie her up, and then slip her front hoof into a soaking boot full of hot water and Epsom salts, to help ease a case of stone bruise (a painfully split and tender hoof). This is supposed to be done for 20 minutes, but the boot is made for a draft hoof (about 5-6 inches in diameter) and a donkey hoof is about 2 inches in diameter. She doesn't like the boot on her leg, and it's too big to stay on ... so it's a constant struggle.
  3. Meanwhile, start soaking the beet pulp in hot water, which forms the base for the horse food.
  4. When the donkey is done, let her into a middle pasture, since she's too fat and doesn't get any food, beyond the grass she gets to eat all day and night.
  5. Mix the horses' meds (different for each horse) with the beet pulp and alfalfa pellets and molassas and corn oil, and haul it back to the front pasture. Chain up each horse, so they don't fight over the food, and give each one the proper mix.
  6. Go get the hose and pull it down to the trough and fill it, if necessary. Coil the hose all back when the waterer is full.
  7. Go down and check on the sow and her 9 new piglets, born Thursday night and Friday morning.  Find the dead one buried in all the straw (sow broke his leg and then laid on him, poor little guy), dig a good hole in the hard clay of the forest, and bury him.  Fill up the water buckets and check the feed.
  8. When the horses finish eating, let them all off-line, go get the donkey and let her back in, and then take the feed bowls back to the stable.

Meanwhile, Sue was

  1. Feed the dogs, trying to get them to take their pills wrapped in lard and buried in the food.
  2. Measuring out feed for the hog and the sows and the large piglets, haul it all down to their various sties and mix their food with water. Fill a self-serve feeder for the large piglets and make sure it hasn't got all gunked up from them rooting around in it.
  3. Fish out the hog's feed trough from the large wallow where they like to drag it, and fill it with fresh food.
  4. Check the laying hens, in 2 different houses, check for eggs, fill the waterers, which means dragging them out to the nearest taps and back, and fill the feed troughs.
  5. Check the meat chickens, pulling over a hose to fill all the waterers and hauling several bags or buckets of feed into the lot to fill all the troughs.
  6. Do a walk-through of the sheepfold to do a visual check on their health. Fill the water trough, if necessary, pulling over a hose and recoiling when done.

In addiition, there is a 3rd house of laying hens, not yet mature enough to lay any eggs, that we check on the way out, filling troughs and waterers.

Basically, we're so friggin' tired now!


Tags: family

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