Super random updates

Every time I come here to write about a particular topic, I run into the fact that I haven’t blogged here in a while and that I can’t just talk about one topic when you have no context around that topic so then I end up writing posts that are really just life and “what I’m doing now” kinds of updates which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just letting you know that that’s why I’m always writing “update” posts as of late.

(And yes that was the most ridiculous run-on sentence ever.)

So anyway – here is another round of updates. One of these days I’ll get around to actually writing in depth on a topic.

Jackson’s birthday – he’s 5!

Little man has been waiting FOREVER (his emphasis) to turn 5 and it has finally arrived. Well, to be clear, the day he turned 5 was full of fevers and puking causing us to cancel his birthday party in the Milwaukee area. But alas, he got better and the next weekend when we were heading back from Duluth after the half marathon (see next topic below), we stopped in the Hudson/New Richmond area and had a proper birthday party for him complete with cousins, outdoor games, presents and cake. This year’s theme was PJ Masks. Finally, a party without Ninja Turtles! 😉

Half marathon = SUCCESS

In mid-June my friends and I ran a half marathon along Lake Superior and through the streets of downtown Duluth in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. We were able to do this by being a part of Team in Training. The weekend, overall, was a success. Lots of family time and friendship love before, during and after the half marathon. We stayed in a great AirBNB on a beautiful lot overlooking a gorgeous lake (one slight con was that it was 40 minutes away from Duluth where our race was taking place, but other than that it was awesome), and we got to hear the stories of other LLS survivors and see how much money we had all collectively raised for the organization. It was GREAT!

The half marathon part of it? The optimist in me wants to say it was nothing short of amazing given where I was at this time last year. But the realist in me wants you to know that it wasn’t all hearts and flowers for me, personally. The run, itself, got REALLY hard after about 6 miles because I have some lingering nerve damage in my toes – a nasty side effect from one of the chemo drugs I was on during treatment. In the grand scheme of side effects, it’s SUPER minor. But when you run 13.1 miles, that minor side effect turned into something pretty nasty feeling when I was trying my hardest to run the entire course…only stopping for water breaks. I was kind of a Debbie downer at some points farther along the course when coaches would run up and ask us, “How are you all feeling?” Lindsay and Sarah had jubilant “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!” answers (okay, they didn’t say that, but that was basically the tone…which IS awesome). My typical response was, “Well I feel like I’m running on glass…but there’s nothing to be done about it, so I’m just going to keep going.” The coach would give a weird look and respond with, “Are you sure?” and I’d just nod and manage through gritted teeth a, “I’m fine. Really, it’s fine. It’ll get better when I’m done.”

And it did get better when we were done. My toes forgave me once I wasn’t pounding them against pavement continuously and I savored the moment with friends of accomplishing my first half marathon and my first race since before treatment.

And to all those who donated to the cause, thank you for your contributions!

Kitchen remodel is nearing the finish line

This one is short because I’m not showing the good pictures because I want it to be a surprise, but we are less than two weeks away from finishing our kitchen. THANK GOODNESS. Living through a remodel of this scale is not easy, and our patience has been tested many times, but we’re getting there and soon I’ll be able to show the before and after pictures. And you are gonna be floored. Stay tuned!

So I built a chatbot. Go try it out!

Okay – this is where things get a bit random. I built a chatbot! You may be thinking, “Cool! Wait, what’s a chatbot?” And that’s a great question. In the most general sense, it’s like chatting with a computer program instead of chatting with an actual human.

There are a lot of different levels of chatbots. At one end of the spectrum the chatbot can process anything you say and give you a response. Think – IBM’s Watson that has built up an extensive knowledge base and can even best human’s on Jeopardy. That is NOT what I built.

On the other end of the spectrum you have chatbots that can handle simple inputs from the user (you) and give you a pre-programmed response that has been built into the system. That’s more like what I built.

But me explaining it is probably not going to paint the best picture so go try it out. You can either use this link to get started and a new window will open up with a chat screen (that’s where you interact with the chatbot), or you can go check out the website I built for it to live on – and click on “SET REMINDER” to get it going through there.

You can also launch it in Facebook Messenger if you’re really savvy. When you’re in the Messenger app, click on the “Discover” button in the lower right-hand area of the app and then search for “Air Filter Reminder” and you should see the bot come up. There’s also a lot of other bots in there from other companies. Try them out! You’ll get to see the new wave of conversational commerce that will likely be a part of your world in the near future.

One thing to keep in mind is that this bot is in testing which means any feedback you have would be much appreciated in order to make it better in the future. The site is also pretty fresh too so there’s not a lot of content on there yet. But that will be coming in the future also.

So that’s it.

That concludes a month’s list of random updates. Hope your summer is going well!

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