Storm front

As I was driving to my parent’s house last night, I noticed that Lake Michigan was unusually calm. This seemed a bit odd as there was a major storm on its way. I felt an impulse to find a spot to watch the lake and view the impending storm. As I was almost in Evanston, I decided to pay “the rocks” a visit. It had been a while. To my surprise, the campus has changed a great deal since my last visit. It seemed as though my quest had been thwarted by some fencing that was put up, but I managed to find a way around. I couldn’t tell if the rocks themselves had actually changed, but something seemed different. Perhaps it was the bushes that had slowly encroached upon them – or more likely, time encroaching on my memory. I finally found my rock. Though it no longer holds the meaning it once did, the faded paint always seems to have a message for me. 9/96 – it has now been over eleven years. How time has passed. I sat down and took in the scene. The lake was smooth as glass – yet the winds were blasting the air bringing the storm closer. It seemed such a strange juxtaposition; tranquility surrounded by chaos. But the lake didn’t seem to mind. As the clouds approached, the setting sun illuminated them with the most incredible colors. My digital camera was not at hand – cell phone to the rescue. I knew it couldn’t possibly capture the colors, but at least it gives an idea. At one point part of a rainbow emerged – I couldn’t help but to smile. The storm front seemed to miss Evanston by about half a mile, for everything south of where I was covered in dark clouds. At one point the city vanished as the storm engulfed it, lightning illuminating the clouds in the distance. I had not intended on staying as long as I did – but it was quite the spectacle. As I watched the clouds thunder by, it brought me back to my childhood; watching the storms roll by from the top of the hill in Dixon, with nothing more on my mind but the shapes of the clouds and the distance of the thunder. After some time, I walked back to the car feeling refreshed and invigorated. It seems as though I need to follow those impulses more often!

Remebering Unky Steve

His Obituary

I have just arrived home from the return trip to Minnesota. It has been a long weekend – but it was wonderful to be surrounded by family, and to be there for, and with, each other to celebrate Unky Steve’s life. (we have called my uncles “unky” all of our lives) The funeral service today was beautiful, I can’t imagine a better way to honor his life. Last night I decided to write something to read during his eulogy, as thoughts about his life, and his impact on mine had been swimming in my head for days…

One of my first memories of Unky Steve is at the pool when we lived in Dixon, IL. Unky Steve would demonstrate to us the arcane art of the Cannonball. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Canonball, let me take a moment to describe it. Unky Steve would begin by taking a swig of brewsky, he would then walk confidently onto the diving board, once he got to the edge he would pound on his chest with his hands, then jump as high as he could, grab his legs close to his chest, and attempt to displace as much water as humanly possible. For my brother Greg and I, this was the ultimate spectacle at the pool. We would watch in awe as the resulting splash would send water in all directions, creating waves so large that they would spill over the edge. He would always emerge, vigorously shaking the water off of his head, with a jovial laugh, awaiting the report from us on how high the water went. “It was higher than the fence!!” “It went up to that tree branch over there!!” We were amazed at this talent, and would try to duplicate it ourselves, as Unky Steve would laugh heartily at our attempts while taking another swig of brewsky. Nobody can do the Cannonball like Unky Steve!

Now I see that Unky Steve himself epitomized the Canonball. His voice and his laughter were both explosive and infectious. He made waves wherever he went, his joy of life spilling over and touching the lives of all of those who surrounded him. He would face each challenge by standing at the edge, pounding on his chest, jumping higher than the time before and creating an even larger splash! He was always drinking in life, enjoying every last drop. Those of us that had the fortune to witness it will always strive to duplicate his resolve and his passion for life.

For his last Cannonball, everybody watched. He fought like hell, approached the edge, pounded on his chest saying “come on Kimball”, and then finally jumped higher than he ever has before. When he came down into the water – his waves washed over us all, the resulting splash reached the heavens.

We’ll miss you Unky Steve.

Thank you all for your phone calls, messages, thoughts and prayers – your support has helped me grieve and helped me heal.

Prayer for Uncle Steve

My Uncle Steve passed away this morning at 11am. He had been taken from the Mayo clinic to a Hospice closer to his family in MN. My Mom and Uncle Greg were with him when he passed away – the rest of us are heading up there tomorrow morning. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers. My Mom sent me this prayer recently:

Do not look forward to the chances and change of this life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that, as they arise, God will deliver you out of them. He has kept you hitherto…
Do you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand, he will bear you in his arms. Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to beat it. Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
— St. Francis DeSales


Its interesting the way we seem live today – in snippets. Everything seems to happen so quickly that I hardly have time to register it before the next thing comes along. I feel that blogging is much the same way. There is so much going on in my life right now, but I find it difficult to share in small doses like this. I also sometimes wonder if its actually worth sharing in this context. The title of my blog lays claim to who I am, yet I feel like I share very little of that here. Am I really defined by the weekend adventures that I have? By the pictures that I take? By the websites I visit? I’d like to think that many of you readers know me well; but for those who have stumbled upon my site, or that are just tuning in – I’m not sure if my posts (or recent lack of) are living up to the title of my blog “I am Pablo“. Perhaps its too much to expect to really delve into the depths on these pages, and perhaps the snippets of life that I share here are just enough to evoke an idea – but somehow that doesn’t feel like enough. I also wonder if maintaining a blog gives an illusion of a connection – as if those who read it have a sense they know whats going on in my life. On the flip side, do I really know whats going on with the lives of those whose blogs I read? I guess each of us only discloses what we feel comfortable disclosing – but lately I can’t help but to feel as if that is bit disingenuous. I suppose that partially accounts for my lack of writing as of late. I’m also finding that in this world of perpetual connectedness it is quite hard to detach – just when you think you have, something reminds you that you are still plugged in.



I’ve been busy disassembling things as of late. After a bit of a bicycle mishap coming back from a Cubs game a few weeks ago, I broke my phone. When I started to lose my balance, I launched myself off of my bike to try to avoid breaking the phone, as I was on it! But I had gripped onto the phone too hard and cracked the LCD with my fingers! T-Mobile wanted $110 deductible to replace it (and I’ve been paying ~$7 a month for insurance!) So I purchased a replacement screen on eBay for $40 instead – it took forever to arrive, but I finally got the phone back up and running yesterday.

I haven’t been very good at blogging as of late, I guess I’m working on a personal disassembly – you see, something broke not too long ago, and I’m working on putting the pieces back together. It’s difficult to see how they will all fit again – but I know they came apart from one whole, so hopefully it is just a matter of time.

Cracking Word and Excel protection passwords

One of our employees has left the organization and, with that, had left me with quite a predicament. He had password protected the views on all of his Excel and Word documents. In other words, you could see the document, but you couldn’t edit it. Apparently he didn’t leave on the best terms, as he would not relinquish the password to us. Of course, I wasn’t about to say that “it isn’t possible” – so I did a little digging and came up with the following solutions:

Both links are quite simple to use and give you an unprotected document as an end result! I figured I’d share the knowledge as I had tried quite a few other methods from other sites that either didn’t work or were much more complicated.

As far as document open passwords, which Microsoft Office handles quite differently, they require “brute force” method which can take days to weeks to accomplish. So those of you using passwords for those files should fear not, one would have to be quite determined to crack them!

five thousand dollar mistake

I have had and HSBC savings account for quite some time now. I direct deposit my paychecks to my savings account for the 5.05% return – but the problem is that my Amex card won’t take payments from a Savings Account. It’s no big deal, as I just schedule the money that I need to be transferred to my checking account. The other factor that lead to this disastrous mistake is that I leave very little money in my checking account. Only $100-$200 for the month. I had a rather large payment coming up for my credit card ~$2500. Well, about two days before the payment was due, I got a phone call from my bank’s automated system that notifies me that I have a new deposit. I ignored it, as it I knew what it was. The following day I checked my account, and to my dismay I was $2500 overdrawn! Instead of transferring from my savings to my checking, I had done the reverse. I desperately needed $5000 to bring my account above the red, as well as to pay off my card which was due the next day. I already had been charged $25 for overdrawing – I had no idea if the charges were to continue each day I was overdrawn – nor if I would also have a hefty finance charge on the credit card. I went into panic mode, calling my bank, calling my credit card. The only option I had was to wait the 3 business days for another transfer from my HSBC account. One of my co-workers had overheard me on the phone, and asked if he could help in any way. I jokingly said “you don’t happen to have $5000 I can borrow, do you?”. About an hour later, he came into my office with an envelope with $5k in cash! I couldn’t believe it! I thanked him profusely, telling him he didn’t have to do that at all… but I was eternally grateful! On my way to the bank with his money, I realized that it was the most cash I have ever handled at once! I deposited it immediately. The following Monday, when the funds had finally come through, I went to get the cash to give back to him – I had to take a picture! Fitty Benjamins – didn’t quite fit in my wallet!

Right Brained

Saw this on Andrik’s blog and had to try it.

You Are 25% Left Brained, 75% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you’re left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you’re right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.