Kevin Neal Life Updates, 11/18/2017

Kevin Neal from California (in the news) – #NotThatKevinNeal

I need to make a quick Public Service Announcement before I get into my Life Updates.  I am not THAT Kevin Neal.

On November 14th, 2017 there was a truly awful shooting where a lunatic, coincidently enough, named Kevin Neal and, also coincidently enough, was from California murdered several innocent people.  I do not know this person, never have and never will.  I feel such sadness for his victims and pray that they rest in peace.

 KevinNeal.com Website Visitors Per Day

Not to make light of this awful tragedy but one rather strange thing that happened is overnight my Facebook and this Blog was of high interest all of a sudden.  In fact, I bet some of you reading my words right now are just curious people.  I admit that I sometimes do the same.  Anyhow I met a few people on Facebook that just said a friendly hello so that was fairly cool to see the decency of people in such times.  Just take a look at the drastic spike in my Blog traffic and you can clearly see when the news hit on 11/14.

 

………….and now that this Public Service Announcement is over, let us turn you to the regularly scheduled Kevin Neal Life Update…………

 

Ankle Recovery

It’s been nearly two full months since I sustained my rather serious ankle injury on September 23rd, 2017.  As I’ve expressed many times before, this injury certainly could have been much worse so I’m absolutely not going to complain about much. However, being in a hard cast for all this time is getting super annoying. I obviously still can’t drive and won’t be able to for months still. I can’t even start rehab yet because the bones are still mending. The good news is that at my last check-up with the doctor he said the x-ray looked pretty good and we are ahead of the original schedule.

I still will be in a hard cast for another three weeks and then hopefully a removal boot. Rehab might start after the being of the new year.  Oh vie!!!  There isn’t so much pain any more but the hassle of doing every little thing that takes so much longer and planning is about on my last nerve.  Things like this really make a person humble and also make you appreciate everything that is so good about being healthy.  I’ll just continue trying to be positive and do my best to get through because there isn’t much I can do to accelerate my healing.

 

Cloud Computing Technical Training

Cloud Computing Knowledge

Although I’m not completely stuck at home with my ankle injury and I manage to get out for about one or two meetings per week, I’ve been spending most of my ‘downtime’ being as productive as can be.  I want to take full advantage of my time and utilize it for productive things. Therefore, I have been doing a ton of research, training and experimenting on many new technical technologies.  It is true that there is so many new things, new concepts, new vendors, new approaches and such that it will be impossible for anyone to ever fully grasp all this knowledge.  As I have always appreciated when others share their knowledge with me; I like to reciprocate and share my knowledge with them.  This is absolutely required more than ever and not only when it comes to technology itself but also how business is done.  Business has to be more agile, nimble and willing to change more than ever because consumers are empowered like never before.

For these reasons, I feel that if I can gain valuable personal knowledge, with hands-on learning, for such things as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure Cloud and others then I sincerely hope I can accelerate the overall knowledge of my colleagues, friends as well as our valued clients.  My brain is certainly on overload right now from all the learning I’ve been doing but it feels great and I feel that 80% is sinking in already.  I’m immediately being able to put a lot of this learning into practical use.  This other 20% is still somewhat foreign to me and I can only hope that knowledge transfer can help everyone work together and reach their full potential.

 

Working Hard

It has always been a personal work character trait of mine to work even harder while others relax.  It could be coincidence or by conscience decision but so much of my work history has been working with people in other countries, and time zones, that I often work unnatural hours late at night or early mornings. Or it could be that so much of my work is being creative with marketing activities or critical thinking with technical work, that it just helps me concentrate and be more productive in downtimes. Or it could be that I’m just a workaholic like my wonderful dad was 😊.

Whatever the case maybe I double my efforts during the holiday season to really digest everything from the past year and get organized with a solid plan for the future.  I simply hate waiting for things to happen so while people stuff their faces with Turkey and participate in all the fun activities, I’m generally spending my time writing a plan, creating some marketing materials or planning a communication in some capacity or another.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having fun during the holidays and like time to relax a bit but it just gets old for me rather quick and I would rather spend my time in the present bettering my life in the future.

Business is super good and our plan is coming along ahead of schedule.  We planned well to be ahead of the onslaught of ‘cloud computing’ crush and now our Company is positioned extremely well with excellent knowledge, great solutions and a fantastic business plan. We have the right People, Process and Policy all in-place for a successful outcome and we can’t be any more excited about the upcoming year!

 

Crazy FurrBalls and a Change of Season

(Back-to-Front) Jack, Gracie and Bleu

Jack, Gracie and Bleu continue to provide a ton of comic relief at the Neal Casa. Brandee and I can already tell that the turn of seasons from fall to winter is not going to be an easy one for Gracie and Bleu especially. Jack is old-hat at the seasonal changes but Gracie is inexperienced as she just turned 1-year old a few weeks ago. And for Bleu, since she was born in the March-April 2017 timeframe, the dew on the grass or the rain drops from heaven are all new, exciting (and sometimes treacherous) challenges for her to overcome.

For our best guy, Jackson, he continues to provide sanity and wisdom for his rambunctious sisters. Once in a while he’ll get in a playful mood and have a little rough-house fun with Gracie. On the other hand, Jack and Bleu rarely interact with each other. They just act as if each other didn’t exist. Jack is such a good boy with his little sisters and he’s so gentle with them.  One thing that is for sure is that poor Jack still does miss his older sissy, the beautiful Bella, as do both Brandee and I.  Bella was such a precious and unique little furry, fluff of fun.  She filled our hearts with joy and the pain of losing her in April is still tremendous and probably will never cease.  Jack, Brandee and I are at peace that our lovely Bella-Ringa is healthy and happy at Rainbow Bridge.

 

Preparing for the Holidays

Bleu Neal – Halloween Spirit

Well it’s that exciting time of the year where, once again, where the months of October-December become all smashed together in a blurry haze with so many birthdays, holidays and just overall busyness going on.  This year is no exception with Halloween already have flown by and Thanksgiving upon us in just a few days.  It’s the time of year when Brandee over thinks plans for Thanksgiving and plans a meal for an army.  I kid but it’s great fun for her and she says relaxing but I can’t imagine so as it seems like so much work!  Nevertheless, she has fun and enjoys doing it so it’s all worth it in the long run.

I think this time of year is very special for Brandee in particular.  She loves so many of the great qualities of the holiday spirit including spending time with family and friends, children running around crazily everywhere and the general good-vibe that the holidays bring.  She can careless about the commercialism that the season brings but there is so much more positive than just minor annoyances.

Here’s to wishing everyone a great, safe and enjoyable Holiday Season!!!

-From the Neal’s

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Since the end of last month when I sustained my ankle injury, life has been challenging. While I’m very grateful and fortunate because the injury could have been so much more worse, the truth of the matter is that I’m not a very patient person and the disruption to my normal routine has been difficult, to say the least.

I’m very fired up for this upcoming week! Let me start with the highlights first.

I have taken my downtime over the past few days, and weeks, to organize some meetings that I am so much looking forward to this week. Some of these meetings are professional but some are also very personal. I’m looking forward to each of them with equal excitement, yet for extremely different reasons. Most of all I’m so pleased that Brandee will participate in each of them.

Whether by fate, destiny or divine intervention, I have had to lean on Brandee for so many things due to my ankle injury last month. Right now, I cannot do many of the normal things I used to do. Or even if I can do them, it’s at a much slower pace than usual. She just has this uncanny ability to jump right in and get things done without me even asking, or realizing that I needed help in the first place.

In addition to our meetings this week I’ve been doing a lot of educating myself in various disciplines. I’ve always felt that my professional business value, to be very honest, is not that I am necessarily an expert at any one thing in particular.  Rather I have a well-rounded professional background where I can relate to others in a sincere manner. I have professional experience in sales, marketing, customer service, business management, account management, product management, technical and other skills rather than just one particular job responsibility throughout my business career. I have

been very fortunate for this and I’ll never forget some very wise advice Dave Wood gave me many, many years ago. He said, “Kevin, even if you continue working at the same Company, do something different within the company.” I could not agree any more strongly than I could with this great advice from such a terrific person as Dave.

An area of particular focus recently has been digging deep into the setup, configuration and usage of ‘cloud services’. This is a very daunting task as the information is overwhelming, the terminology and services offered are different for each provider and the learning is typically on-your-own instead of some formal classroom style course. This is good and bad. It’s good because you can move at your own pace, which I’m finding really beneficial. However, the learning-curve just to get started is a bit overwhelming. Overall, technology is something I’ve always been interested in so my thirst to learn is genuine and natural.  I’m glad I can apply this to my professional career. This learning I’ve been doing recently should be of great benefit to myself, but most important our partners and clients, in this current era of technology convergence between traditional/on-premise and cloud computing services.

Another thing that has me really fired up is that after several weeks of uncertainty with not knowing about my mobility (or ability to work at all), having to juggle my calendar to re-schedule so many planned activities and having to level-set my personal business strategy; for the first time in weeks, I feel that I have a solid schedule to follow this week. I spent the end of last week, as well as this past weekend, preparing a lot of documentation and discussion materials that should be very useful in our upcoming business meetings this week to have positive and productive outcomes.

Lastly, and most importantly, and I’ll say it once again, I am so grateful for the compassion and kindness of all of you. I have such incredible faith in the decency of humanity. So many of you have been so incredibly supportive of Brandee and I dealing with my injury that we cannot thank you enough. Your kind words, thoughts and prayers are absolutely felt and appreciated. We can only hope to do what little we can to reciprocate for you and your family in some fashion, manner or capacity. At certain times in life you must slow down, reflect, appreciate, regroup and then move-forward, stronger and better than ever.

 

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

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This is a difficult story for me to tell but in the true spirit of my KevinNeal.com blog I have personally committed to sharing the good, bad and ugly about my life events. This experience has brought a lot of each emotion for certain.

On the early afternoon of Saturday September 23rd, 2017, four of my good friends and I were enjoying the last full night of cabin-camping at a beautiful spot called Camp Layman. We had already been there a few nights, made friends with many of our fellow cabin-camper neighbors and all of us had just started to gather for the communal nightly campfire. It was a delightful night with crisp, yet comfortable, weather and there was just a really relaxed atmosphere.

This was a camp area of roughly 10 or so cabins within the immediate location of the cabin in which we were staying. As the sun was setting and people began to gather around the campfire, the guys and I started to casually toss a football around as we have done many, many times before on these camping trips. It wasn’t anything unusual.

After about 10 or so minutes, one of the guys threw me a pass that was a little bit high so, naturally, I jumped up to catch the pass. It’s amazing how one little action can forever change the direction of your life; just amazing. Anyhow, as you can likely figure out I landed on my right ankle which went one-direction while the rest of my body twisted 180 degrees in just the opposite direction. I immediately hit the ground and was in instant shock. I clearly heard bones breaking in my leg and while I recall every moment because I never lost conscience it was a weird experience, almost like in slow motion.

I knew immediately my leg was in bad shape because my ankle was dangling loose at a 90-degree angle. I don’t recall any major pain, rather what I do recall was that there was no possible way I could move my foot nor put any weight on it whatsoever. It was a strange feeling not to have any control over a certain part of your body which I had never experienced previously.

Honestly, what I was disappointed with most, is that I was going to ruin my friends last night of camping. They rushed me to a little local urgent care facility which took x-rays and confirmed a fracture but were too small, because we were in the wilderness, to do anything such as reset the dislocation or surgery. The doctors and the nurses were extremely nice and comforting to me and my friends in our time of distress nonetheless so I very much appreciate their help. This urgent care facility splinted and wrapped my ankle and we headed back to the cabin for the last, Saturday, night of our trip. Obviously, the rest of the night was spent inside and the guys had a lot of fun making wise-cracks and joking at my expense. Early the next day, on Sunday morning, we made the 4 ½ hours’ drive home. I’m very grateful and appreciative to have such good friends to take care of me when I needed them most. Thanks guys!

 

The Good

I’m going to start this story, and summary, with ‘The Good’ in what has happened. I will summarize ‘The Bad’ and ‘The Ugly’ below because there is enough of that content for a million lifetimes 😊.

Yes, I sustained a major ankle injury on that afternoon of September 23rd that I will surely remember for the rest of my life but this little inconvenience paled in comparison to so many other much more significant world events. For example, the wildfires in Northern California sweeping through the Napa and Sonoma areas has taken 40+ lives and destroyed 5,000+ structures. Or the awful Hurricanes that have ravaged Houston/Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have an ever-lasting impact on those affected. Or even the terrible shooting incident in Las Vegas that took 58 innocent lives. I cannot even imagine the pain of these people so I have no right to complain in the least. Lastly, one of my good friends passed away during the first few days of my injury and I was unable to attend his service. These are all life-events that could be perceived as Bad, but I choose to look at the Good as I feel a renewed spirit of choosing to do right for others.

The Good is that, although I generally see myself as a compassionate person anyhow, I feel an extra sense of motivation to do whatever I can to assist those in need whether it’s volunteering in some capacity, encouraging people to be kinder to each other paying-it-forward to others based on my personal life experience.

Right now, since I’m fairly immobile and home bound for the next few weeks at least, I’m spending my time doing creative writing that I’m sharing on Facebook, blog or e-mail where I try and share positive thoughts and stories in the hopes of doing something simple to brighten someone’s day. It’s therapeutic for me personally and I sincerely hope that if helps someone, anyone, in the least little bit then it’s well worth the time of my investment.

 

The Bad

10/2/2017:  Hello everyone, tomorrow morning is surgery to try and fix my badly damaged ankle.

I have so much confidence in the expert skills, as well as compassionate concern of all the care givers we’ve met over this past week.

Also, I would like to thank all of you, my friends and family on Facebook, for all the well wishes. It truly helps healing.

Tomorrow starts a long road to full recovery that I am seriously looking forward to. My ankle, as is now, would never heal and I knew the second I hit the ground (while still catching the football, of course) that surgery would be required.

I’m so grateful to my friends and fellow campers that jumped into immediate action last Saturday after this happened.

Especially, I cannot imagine how I could have ever imagined getting through this first week without my talented home nurse. Who happens to also be my lovely wife . I have many upcoming days, weeks and months where I have to rely on her and it cannot be easy for her.

UPDATE 10/3/17: Surgery went well according to the doctors. It took much longer than the 2 hours they had planned. After 6+ hours they were done and I am now the proud recipient if 13 screws and 3 plates. The doctor said my ankle just fell apart after the initial incision. I am so grateful for their expert skill and compassion. My pain now is a different kind of pain, which is healing and good. Until this surgery it was just about getting ready for surgery by reducing swelling and that was no good.

 

The Ugly

UPDATE 10/16/2017 from Brandee: Kevin went for his first post-op appointment today. Everything looks great! His swelling is approximately 75% less than it was. His bruising is nothing less than miraculous, the way it has dissipated. His surgeon was very pleased. He has a new full fiberglass ‘short-cast’ with his foot reset at a 90° angle. It’s MUCH lighter and more comfortable for him, than the previous plaster surgical cast. Dan, Kevin’s ‘casting specialist’ , even installed a ‘custom bumper’ so Kevin can use his knee walker more efficiently. These people are amazing!

Kevin has 3 incisions- 38 staples combined, on both the outer and inner ankle. Those will be removed on the 25th. The skin wound he acquired from the dislocation, looks great and is healing. Inside, he has 3 titanium plates, and 14 screws. All of which, are permanent fixtures.

The next 3 months will be focused on healing. He cannot walk on the leg (zero weight bearing), but he has a snazzy knee walker, so everyone, please steer clear. 😀 Month 4-6 will be focused on physical therapy, stretching the tendons, and ligaments to get them back in shape, with the goal of getting his foot back into a regular shoe by month 6.

Kevin and I joke around, because that is just how we choose to meet life’s wrecking balls. However, this is a very serious injury. It’s going to take a lot of patience, commitment and time to get Kevin back to pre-injury condition. We appreciate all the love and support so many of you have bestowed upon us over the past 3 weeks. It’s been invaluable.

We have always lived our life together, and run our business by the same mantra, “Do the next right thing.” This bump in the road will be no different.

 

                         

Photo Note: The semi-circular shapes you see on the outside of the x-ray, are the incision staples.

 

My next major milestone is 10/25/2017 when we return to the hospital and hopefully the surgeon will remove the staples in my ankle.

 

Thanks to everyone for your compassion and kind words.

 

Love,

Brandee and Kevin

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Camp Layman, Plumas National Forest, 9/20/17 – 9/24/17

This year for our annual ‘guys’ camping weekend, the five of us headed up to a new spot we had never camped together previously. It was a gorgeous cabin-camping area called Camp Layman located in the beautiful Plumas National Forest.

The destination of these yearly cabin-camping trips is always different and picked by our fearless leader, Frank-buddy.  I generally don’t pay any sort of attention to where we are going other we will be camping in the Forest somewhere.

 

We generally take a similar route out of San Jose and head Northeast for roughly a 4-hour drive and then the last 1 hour of the drive takes us to our unique destination.  However, on the drive to this year’s cabin as we approached the 4-hour drive time the road became strangely familiar to me. As it turns out, ironically enough, Camp Layman is located just outside of a small town called Graeagle. Graegale is where we host our annual guys weekend golf tournament!

I instantly had a great feeling that the guys and I were going to have a great and fun experience because, having spent so much time in the Graeagle area, I knew the location was nice, the people are extremely friendly and we weren’t so remote that we didn’t have resources such as a locate grocery store, if needed.

 

Upon arrival we were greeted by the extremely friendly camp hosts. They provided us with all the camp information such as the amenities of the cabins, which did NOT include internet service, as well as other things we should know such a communal fire pit and BBQ area. The overall experience at Camp Layman was so wonderful because everything was so clean and taken care of. The camp hosts really encourage these sorts of communal activities and all of the cabins instantly became friends amongst each other.

The cabins themselves are super clean and have everything we need as we were ‘roughing it’. Inside the cabins, they have hot showers, a stove with plenty of dishes, a coffee pot, refrigerator and, for the first time in our cabin-camping experience, some really nice interior decorations. There were several beautifully hand-drawings handing on the walls.

Our cabin was 4-5-person capacity with four beds. So, before you jump to any conclusions about the sleeping arrangements how 5 guys and 4 beds works out, let me just say that, as in every previous year, I just end of sleeping on the couch. I actually prefer this because I like to spend all of my waking time chatting and having a good time with the guys so there generally isn’t much sleeping happening anyway.  Being a couch-dweller enables me to be in the middle of the action at all times.

There were roughly 15-20 total cabins at Camp Layman of various sizes and capacities.  Some looked like they could be 1-2-person cabins and then there was at least one cabin that was 10-12-person capacity. There was a nice little creek that ran out front of each cabin which was a nice little, subtle touch of ambiance.

The guys and I would spend our days hiking, shooting, conversing about politics, sports and family-life. Then each afternoon we would do a delicious BBQ for lunch. One of the other nice things about Camp Layman was that they provided a BBQ grill for each cabin. We always bring our own but it was nice to not have to haul out our BBQ. This was a nice surprise that allowed the campers more time to enjoy each other’s company instead of hauling gear.

In the evening’s each night the five of us would gather at the communal fire pit with our fellow Camp Layman campers and spend some really great time getting to know each other and sharing interesting stories.

 

 

So, in summary, let me please provide my ratings:

 

Location: Cromburg, CA = 8 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Cabin: Camp Layman = 9.5 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Fellow Campers: 5 dudes and 2 dogs = 10 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Food: 9 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Drink: 7 out of 10 Steeler Stars

 

I had a lot of fun guys and I look forward to next year!

Sincerely,

Kevin

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Bleu-Berry update, 9/8/2017

Bella’s passing, honestly, is still raw with Brandee, Jack and I and this is no kidding. Five months later and we still miss our little sweet Bellaringa; and will miss her forever I’m sure. She is the greatest but it’s heartening to know that her wonderful legacy lives on!

However, today’s blog is about a Bleu update. It’s very difficult to share updates about Bleu, as much as I would like to, but it hurts because I always think about Bella. Nevertheless, here goes with a Baby Bleu update.

Blue was officially rescued from the great San Jose Animal Care Center at the young age of 5 weeks old and 1.5 pounds. The rescue was amazing!

I really had no intention of adopting a cat that day. In fact, I was admittedly against it as Brandee and my reason for the visit was to get a puppy that could re-energize Jack’s, and our, broken spirits since Bella went to Rainbow Bridge. But, as I was walking by the cat habitats at the Center this little, tiny, jet-black kitten (that wasn’t even a grand total of six-inches long) began to scratch at the glass and got my attention. She immediately grabbed my heart and the rest was history. After about only one hour after I met Bleu, we were taking her back to her forever home.

Apparently, she was there with one of her sisters which had be already been rescued when we visited the Center and Bleu was left behind. I knew from the second that I saw her that she was going to be a part of our family so we went through the adoption process and the great folks at San Jose Animal Care Center were absolutely awesome!

I cannot thank all the wonderful people at the San Jose Animal Care Center enough. They all are so awesome, terrific and compassionate. The volunteer that interviewed me for Bleu’s rescue was such a nice and caring guy. All the nice ladies that helped process the paperwork were very sincere. It was a very pleasant experience indeed.

Fast-forward from a little-Baby Bleu of six inches long (at 5 weeks old) to now, 5 months later, an 8.7-pound young girl. Bleu is such a fantastic sister to her two canine brothers. Each of the canines has extremely different temperaments and Bleu does a great job to navigate these dangerous territories.

Bleu treats them 100% completely different and it’s quite amazing. With our puppy, Gracie, which is a 11-month old chiweenie, Bleu is as aggressive as can be and they play nearly all day long as loving sisters. Both Gracie and Bleu were rescued on the same day, and although they had never met each other until we brought them home together, they act like biologically-integrated sisters. With Jack, Bleu’s behavior is completely different because Jack is more slow and deliberate. Therefore, Bleu has no fear of his nearly 100-pound brute body, yet just leaves him alone. Also, Jack’s totally chill nature is really awesome as we have no fear whatsoever that he would ever hurt Bleu. Sometimes Jack and Bleu will cuddle on chilly nights so this winter should be interested for all of us.

Brandee and I have left the door wide open for Bleu to come and go as she wishes. Although we really considered this a lot and it was an extremely tough decision, we ultimately decided that she needs to be free as an indoor/outside cat. Thus far, knock-on-wood, I think this is the best result for everyone. Bleu loves her freedom, and sometimes wanders too far off, yet still stays within range.

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