Me 2016

Armen Kaleshian

Thoughts of a life hacker

"Our revenge will be to survive."
Jerusalem Crosses
akale
One hundred, and two years - Long enough for three generations to hear every excruciating detail of how members of their family were driven from their homes into the desert, or slaughtered where they stood. Among the sorrowing detail, a few describe the fear, struggle, and eventual relief of escape from the Ottomans. It's because of their selfish desire to survive that the Turks did not succeed.

Today, we remember those souls who were lost, yet we should not forget those that escaped! They fled, leaving everything behind, knowing that their family and friends would never receive proper burials. Unbeknownst to them, their desire for self-preservation had an unexpected result - a future for a race set for annihilation.

It's because of those survivors that Armenians thrive in every country around the world. Without them, neither the free and independent Republic, nor the population of the diaspora would exist. Instead of becoming a race described in a chapter of a history book, Armenians hold positions of prominence and respect in every field, trade, and profession just as they did in the Ottoman empire. Communities flourish with schools, churches, and community centers in every state so that the next generation learns to speak, read, write, pray, sing, and dance like their ancestors did for hundreds of years.

This weekend, the film 'The Promise' was released as a Hollywood narrative of the Armenian plight in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. As I watched the on-screen portrayal of the Genocide take place, all I could hear was my mother's voice retelling the hell that my family endured. The sadness and anger in her eyes overlaid the screen stirred emotion in me that I had never felt. At that point, the purpose of the film was clear. To convey to us, generations removed from our ancestors that experienced the Genocide first hand, that without their ability to survive, we would not exist. With tears welled in my own eyes, on the way home, I started to think of the phrase by the character Ana, "Our revenge will be to survive."

I returned home to two boys, who learn to speak, read, and write in Armenian.
We sing and dance to Armenian folk music every day.
Each night, we pray for our family in Armenian.

This is my revenge.

Best of 2016
Me 2016
akale
Over the past few days, I've seen quite a few people post their set of nine best pictures on Instagram, and it made me think about the past 364 days, especially for my family. To describe this year in one word is futile, but if I were to, it would be with the word abundance. As a father to two healthy, energetic boys, every day is one filled with excitement, wonder, and best of all, love. I'm very fortunate to be in a career that enabled me to spend quality time with them each day. To be able to watch each of them grow into their own personalities gradually is incredible, and I would never be able to if it weren't for the flexibility that I'm provided.

Before sitting down to write this entry, I reviewed all of the photos that I had taken over the course of the year, and selected one for each month. Naturally, most of the photos include the boys in various states of adventure or amusement, which is the kind of life that I want them to live. Reflecting on the global events of the year, I realized that this life we have is truly a gift, and if we don't take advantage of it, then we've squandered it. Considering the number of lives that were lost this year, especially the children in the numerous war torn regions around the world, I wanted to express how grateful I am to be a member of my family; the best husband I can be to a wife that deserves it every day, and the best father to two of the most energetic and lovable boys around. Without you, my life wouldn't be as colorful, dynamic, light, or as abundant, and I look forward to all of the adventures we will embark on together in 2017.

I wish all of us a new year filled with health, prosperity, love, and most of all peace.

My best of 2016 photo set

Birth...again!
Me 2012
akale
In the early morning yesterday, our family of three was incremented by one with a son. He arrived with pink fingers and toes, and a hearty cry, ready to take on the world. The experience was quite different, but the outcome, the same. He's already working the camera, charming all of us with coos, and eagerly satisfying an insatiable hunger. We couldn't ask for a better result.

I am more confident this time. The anxiety, and the fear are replaced with knowledge from experience. I don't feel as vulnerable, or fragile, letting my mind use muscle memory to hold, and perform the necessary regular maintenance on our newborn. The feeling of responsibility hasn't increased, as I didn't take the role of fatherhood lightly before. In fact, I'm incredibly excited, looking forward to the four of us embarking on adventures together, exploring the world. I look forward to watching the brothers interact, support one another, and build a bond that is unbreakable. I expect to learn from their interaction on how to be a better person.

Welcome to the family Noah. You already fit right in!

100 years of Genocide - What next?
Jerusalem Crosses
akale
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Over the past few weeks, I've been thinking about how the Genocide has impacted my life, and more importantly, how it will affect future generations of Armenians.

As most Armenians my age, the memories of the Genocide I have are from my grandparents. All of the stories are of pain, struggle, suffering, and moments of near death to escape the intent of the Young Turks to annihilate the Armenians. They lost their family and friends, their homes, their churches, their communities, because of a difference in religion.

How is that different from the Jewish Holocaust? It isn't.
How is that different from what is happening in the Middle East today? It isn't.

History is repeating itself.

For a moment, let's remove religion from the equation, and focus on the cultures of the region.

The Armenians have lived in the same region since Before Christ. At various times in the last two thousand years, roughly the same piece of land has been conquered by the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Persians, the Mongols, the Ottoman Turks, and the Russians. Through each occupation, the Armenians persevered. They established their own language, own communities, rising to positions of leadership in local, and national government and at times, found autonomy from the occupying government. As a race, and as a culture, their intent was always to survive - to persevere.

What is it about Armenians that keeps them resilient in the face of overwhelming adversity? Is it genetic? Or is it because they are the oldest remaining culture in the region, with an unconscious will to pass on their history to the next generation for fear of letting down their ancestors? How does this will propagate to the day-to-day responsibilities of an Armenian?

As an Armenian, I can answer yes to all of those questions. Around the world, Armenians are known as hard workers, stubborn at times, because of this underlying drive to survive.

The Ottoman Turks should have consulted history before embarking on their mission.

Today, we commemorate the 1.5 Million lives lost, each one officially canonized as Saints by the Armenian Church. On one side, we hold a solemn remembrance, and another, a deep anger toward the Turkish government for not acknowledging their actions. Some argue that the current regime shouldn't be held responsible - Israel didn't negotiate with the Nazis for reparations. The Turkish government is understandingly afraid of what the consequences may be if they do acknowledge the Genocide. Unfortunately, the current leadership isn't prepared to give up their pride, and like the Armenians, fail to keep the unspoken promise to their ancestors.

The Armenians, around the world, year after year, will continue to remember the Genocide. They will continue to convince governments around the world to recognize it as such. They will not stop until the Turkish government has as well. In addition, they will continue to work hard, in passing on their language, their traditions, so that their ancestors will have not persevered for naught. What more can be done?

During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, the Armenians held important positions in business, and government. Their influence brought about the ratification of the Armenian National Constitution, defining autonomy of a Christian race within an Islamic empire... what if Armenians in modern day Turkey were to gain the same level of power in business and government?

In closing, I am grateful to be born as an Armenian, with a rich history, and culture. I am proud to call myself an Armenian, educating those who aren't aware of our plight. I will remember and pass on the stories of our Genocide to my children, so that one day, this dark time in our history will be recognized.

Աստված նրանց հոգիները Լուսավորե

Year 2
Me 2014
akale
Time passed so quickly this year! It feels like just yesterday, we were wondering when you would take your first step, or how much longer we would have to make sure there were clean milk bottles for the middle of the night. As the days, and months rolled along, your personality started to shine through, by facial expressions at first, followed by the tones of your voice.

Today, you turn two, well past infant, steaming toward an adult...

You entertain an audience wherever you go, with a simple smile, or smirk, raise of an eyebrow, or a blow of a kiss. You're learning that your natural charisma is powerful, and as your parents, it's our responsibility to teach you how to use that skill for good. You're kind, gentle (evidence by your interaction with your feline sisters), and determined to achieve what you set out to do. We can't wait to hear more of your thoughts, and opinions as you develop into year three.

Happy Birthday! We're lucky to have you as our son, and can't wait for the adventures that await for us in 2015.

[/hibernation]
Random Beach Chair
akale
sips from 3rd coffee of the day

It's rather unusual for me to have three coffees in one day, but I'm in the office for the first time in a long time. I'm actually pretty surprised that all of my gear is still in my cube and hasn't been poached. Since X was born and I changed positions, I haven't needed to come in nearly as much. I do miss it a bit though, as it's nice to see the people you work with in person. I'm not sure how much longer I'll have my name on a cube - we've been hiring quite a bit, and space is at a premium. For someone who rarely comes in, I don't mind giving my space up.

Work is going quite well. I've been busy balancing management and consulting tasks, which is testing my time management skills! I quickly realized that e-mail management in this role is crucial, and am glad that I've curated a robust ruleset to keep my inbox at zero, and stay on top of daily correspondence. There are folks who hate using their mail client to manage their daily tasks, but I've found that because a significant amount of my job is spent managing correspondence, it's better than dealing with an external task management tool.

Life at home is awesome. I am the luckiest father and husband in the world, and I try not to take it for granted. We've established a weekly routine that works for the three of us, and despite the occasional change in plans, we're all surviving! There are days that are naturally more difficult than others, and sacrifices are made to satisfy X's needs, but overall, at the end of the day, we go to sleep happy. The rate at which X is learning is awesome, and I love watching him discover something new. His innate curiosity is contagious, giving my inner tinkerer a pilot again. Granted, I have a scrolling list of tasks around the house that I need to work on resulting in a shortage of free time, the desire to tinker is stronger than it once was. With regard to tasks around the house, the theme for this year is 'The Yard'.

When we moved in, it was the dead of winter, and the primary project was to rebuild the den only because we had no idea what condition the yard was in. Over time, we realized that the yard, both the front and the back, needed work to bring it up to our standards. Earlier this Spring, we agreed to trim a significant amount of shrubbery (most of it invasive and unappealing). I spent a day in April on a shrub rampage, and the end result was quite positive (even from our neighbors). I also fertilized the front lawn for the first time, and am on schedule to regularly feed and cut for the remainder of the season. I realize it's going to take a few seasons for it to strengthen, but I'm quite happy with the progress so far. We also have an initiative to just about level the back yard. Between an overgrowth of trees, and unknown shrubs, it would be easier to clear the land instead of gradually taking the yard back. I have a few posts drafted on armenandsheena.net on the projects we've completed so far, and what is currently in the works. I hope to complete and publish all of them this week. Keep an eye out if you're interested on what we've done so far.

On the geekier side of things, I'm focusing on completing projects that I started long ago. The last major achievement was the release of soorpstepanos.org. I migrated the site from a free host using a generic template without any content management to AWS running Drupal on nginx. The set of modules that we're using comes from the OpenChurch project, and despite it being live, it's still a work in progress. The individual who is managing the content is doing an awesome job and the response we've received from the community is positive. Working with AWS has been a pleasure! I'll try to provide updates here as I work on and release new versions of other projects that I'm working on.

EOT

Year 1
Me 2013
akale
A year ago today, we were blessed with the most amazing miracle that two parents could hope for. The first 6 weeks were incredibly difficult, but the three of us prevailed by making progress each day. We were supported by our family, friends, and the incredible staff of the Beth Israel NICU, who we are forever grateful to.

No one can prepare you to be a parent. They can offer advice and guidance to no end, but until you hold your own flesh and blood in your own two hands do you realize that his fate is up to you. It's overwhelming, and truly frightening, but then you realize that generations before you wore the same shoes.

It's true that you sacrifice an incredible amount, physically, mentally, and emotionally to bring a child in the world. You worry, but you smile more. You discover that happiness really does come from simple things. You look forward to coming home from work, eating a small dinner, and spending the rest of the evening dazzling your son with multiple games of peekaboo, neglecting the half read book, unopened DVD, and pile of mail.

Julien, you taught us so much this year; To be patient, to be strong, to be silly, and above all to appreciate the tiniest things that we overlook everyday because we're too busy.

We can't wait for year 2. Happy Birthday.

Back in the saddle
Me 2013
akale
I had a really good day today.

Back in the field, working with customers to solve their difficult problems is where I belong. As much as I enjoyed the comfort of working in a cube for the past four years within support, I'm glad I decided to join the services organization. I'll admit that at first, especially with Julien just being born, I was a little nervous about pursuing a new role, but I figured that a time for change was due.

As I write this entry, I can hear him making all of his interesting noises while sleeping. To this day, I'm still surprised that he can sleep through his own symphony! In the middle of the night, I find myself waking up in between REMs and chuckling as he delivers one of his many masterpieces. I won't be surprised if he has a soft spot for orchestra music when he grows up.

Looking back now, I never really could put my finger on what I wanted to be when I grew up. Sure, I had fantasies of all sorts of professions, and roles, but nothing really stood out. The only two cornerstones that I could always count on though were that I was 'good' with people, and that I enjoyed solving problems. After 10 years of searching, I think I may have found a fit. I know that there will be aspects of this job that I won't be thrilled with, but overall, it caters to my strengths, while giving me the opportunity to pick up a new set of skills (read: project management).

As a kid, I don't think 'consultant' is in the fantasy profession category, but I'm excited to finally call myself one.
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The future of this LJ blog
Me 2016
akale
In early October of last year, I revamped armenandsheena.net with Wordpress at the request of my wife, so that we could start blogging about our family adventures. She's been much better at posting there than I have here, and I know that she'll continue, especially as we get busier with family activities. To stay consistent, I expect that I'll start posting my public musings about fatherhood over there instead of here. However, I have no interest in abandoning 'my LJ'.

Looking back, I have more than 10 years of thoughts and absolutely drivel in this repository, and I want to continue. Between my paper/pencil journal, LJ, and now the family blog, I have enough outlets to express my thoughts publicly or privately. I expect that LJ will remain a place where I discuss non-family related topics.

At RSA TechFest last year, I sat in on a session by Branden Williams on how to get 'published'. The session was the perfect kick in the pants I needed to write more frequently, and with more focus. Apparently, the kick in the pants took a little longer to take effect. In that session, I came up with an idea that I've been toying with, which I'd like to start soon. The idea is not earth shattering; it's simply to host a blog on a specific topic that I haven't found yet. If/when I do star it, I'll make sure to post a link here.

In the next couple of weeks, I will be standing up my personal site again and associating this LJ as the blog for that site. When I do, I'll make sure to post the relevant details here.
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5,875,200 seconds
Me 2012
akale
It's amazing to think that almost six million seconds have passed since the birth of my son. With such a large number, it seems like so long ago, but put in perspective, is only a brief duration of time. Looking back on the 47 days we spent in the hospital, I still don't know how we persevered. Each and every day, we would make the hour and a half commute into the city, walk into his room, and hope for a discharge announcement. There were days that it seemed like it was imminent, and others that seemed like it would never come. Ultimately, our son decided when he was going to be released, and chose the weekend of the Blizzard of 2013. We were amused, only because it felt like he had it all planned out from the day he was born, and was waiting for his due date to be released.

We drove home that Saturday afternoon, with him securely fastened in a properly installed car seat, ecstatic that we would be snowed in together as a family. Sure, that night was the beginning of many sleepless nights, but we wouldn't want it any other way. The fact that we only had to take a few steps from our bed to where he slept (or wept) was incredibly comforting.
Since he's been home, we've learned quickly that time has become infinitely more valuable. We're learning to adjust our schedules to coincide with his (roughly) three hour maintenance cycles. A full service includes 4oz of breast milk, a diaper change, and tummy time and takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Generally, he's pretty consistent, but moments of irregularity creep in occasionally. I'll admit that I'm looking forward to being able to interact with him more, instead of the one way conversations we have now. *amused*

I love being a dad. Even though he's only a little over two months old (3 weeks corrected age), he amuses me every day with his facial expressions, peculiar sound effects, and general demeanor. I can't imagine how much more entertaining he'll be when he learns how to speak! Don't get me wrong, it's not all sunshine and rainbows, especially in the middle of the night, but somehow, with the right partner, you make it work.

Go Team Sh'Armen!

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