Sunday, November 25, 2012

Autumn Beauty

Both spring and fall have such interesting colors all around--I love it.  Fall colors are often accompanied by a still, muted, soothing environment--overcast, damp, windless, even foggy.

To follow up on my earlier posts about the ideal camera, I did end up upgrading to the Sony NEX-6 camera.  I decided against replacing my DSLR, and went the mirrorless approach instead, essentially merging my two cameras into one (I sold my NEX-3 on craigslist for a good price).

Here are a few random photos just from my yard which I took on Thanksgiving and Saturday.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Work Commute

I commute to work on my bicycle year round.  I drive a car on an exception basis, such as when there is a bad storm, or ice, or I have other errands to do during the day.  My commute is 8 miles each way, and takes me about 35 minutes, on average.  Driving a car with no traffic might be 15 or 20 minutes--other days up to 30 minutes.

My motivations are saving fuel and other car expenses, saving the environment, good physical exercise, and mental health (feeling of accomplishment, and time to think or listen to an audio book).

Commuting by bicycle has its roots for me when I rode to school, perhaps some in 2nd grade, but certainly 6th through 9th grades.  On my mission in Germany my favorite mode of transportation was bicycle (only in my last city, otherwise trams and buses).  At BYU I rode my bike to school, and often to work at NWC in China Lake, CA.  I didn't in Meridian at HP--narrow, high speed roads, for one thing.  But at Sequent I did quite often, and again at RLX.

When I started at Intel I was a little intimidated by the longer commute (8 miles), but within a few months of starting there I had determined it wasn't a bad commute at all, and set a goal to average twice per week.  I've done much better than that these past 7+ years.  I've even kept a calendar log of days I have ridden my bike to work.

Earlier this week I brought a camera to document my route.  It was a rather rainy day, but I was dressed for it with my booties, rain pants, waterproof jacket, and waterproof gloves.

I start out on a short, uphill stretch before turning soon into quiet neighborhoods.

About three miles in I take a path under the freeway to emerge on Evergreen Parkway.  After heavy rains this path will sometimes flood, necessitating my detour around a longer route.
This day the flooding was as bad as I've ever seen it.  Sometimes I can ride through it, but not when this deep.
The past month they have been doing construction on the path, requiring an inconvenient detour.

I ride on Evergreen Parkway about four miles.  It is a major street, but with a substantial bike lane.

Evergreen curves around the Hillsboro Airport runway, then I turn left just ahead.  I was glad when they changed the strict, dedicated left turn signal to a blinking yellow (effectively a yield, and a boon to cyclists who don't trip the sensor to change the light).

This last stretch is a rare narrow road on my commute, but doesn't last long before I turn left into the parking lot.

I lock my bike to a covered rack just outside my building lobby (Jones Farm #5).  It is usually crowded with locked bikes, but not on this rainy day.

And there you have it.  The incremental added time required vs. driving a car is, I think, very well spent.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgivings past and present

I recall Thanksgivings from my youth with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  And watching football on TV and playing it in the yard.  As a freshman at BYU I got a ride home to Riverside, CA, unexpectedly, and enjoyed a warm holiday.  As a missionary in Germany we Americans cooked up our own feast at the church.  As a sophomore at BYU I stayed in Provo for a quiet Thanksgiving and snowstorm.

I have scattered memories of Thanksgivings with our young family. 

In 1979 we hosted Barry's family in Meridian, and there was a snowstorm on the day they drove back to Utah.

I used to borrow from work an HP desktop computer to play games on during the extended Thanksgiving weekend (1982).

Glade visited us from BYU once or twice (1982).

Kevin visited us just prior to leaving for Japan on his mission (1983, or early 1984, not sure this was actually at Thanksgiving).

We hosted the Juhasz family in 1983 (and in a subsequent year we drove from Oregon to Idaho and visited them).

Here we are in 1987.

Our family began to grow with grandkids arriving (2003, 2005, 2008).

In 2009 Suzanne had just had a foot operation, so we had a low key Thanksgiving.  Two years ago we hosted Ken's family from Eugene.

This year the Blairs are busy moving into their new house, and they will eat at the Jordans.  Bridget and family are in the UAE, Teresa and girls in Idaho, Steven and Kristi in Provo.  So it is just Daniel, Suzanne, and me.

Such pleasant memories.  And Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Staying Put

My previous new jobs had required moving to a different state--Utah to California, then to Idaho, and finally to Oregon.  I loved my job at Sequent here in Beaverton, and worked hard.  I felt I was making a significant contribution through the start-up phase, then profitability, and public stock offering.  It was pretty exciting stuff (until the stock market dip in 1990 and company stock dropped to 25 cents on the dollar).

Sequent was a special place, with high morale and great working environment.  It was the Camelot of companies.  We did go through some hard times, including 1991 when nearly half of engineering was laid off.  But I survived all that and was still at Sequent 16 years later when IBM bought the company.  We were all pretty excited and optimistic about that.  We assumed we'd have increased job security and that IBM would be able to invest more in our product development and sales.

Well, things with IBM didn't work out too well.  The IBM executive who spearheaded the purchase retired soon after, and it seems we lost our advocate within IBM.  We began to die a slow death, and within two years almost everyone had been laid off, including me in May 2002.  Work had become a drag, so I wasn't all that disappointed to leave.

Fortunately, a relatively new company based in Houston, TX, decided to open a Hillsboro, OR, branch to take advantage of all the available ex-Sequent employees.  So I went to work for RLX Technologies, with a dozen or so others from Sequent, and felt right at home doing the same kind of work I had been doing.  This went fine for two and a half years while RLX tried to make a go of things, but couldn't.  A week before Christmas, 2004, the Oregon branch was closed and we all lost our jobs.  Fortunately, that same afternoon a couple of Intel managers came in and gave us a pitch to persuade us to come to Intel as an intact team to continue work on a similar product development.  So about twenty of us did so, starting with Intel Corporation in January, 2005.

Intel was always a dominant hi-tech employer in Oregon, and not always admired, at least from an employee standpoint.  They had a reputation of working employees to the bone in a cut-throat environment.  Many of us from Sequent thought of it as going to the "dark side".  But, to my delight, I found Intel a wonderful company to work for.  Sure, it didn't have the nimble, start-up atmosphere of a Sequent or RLX, but our development team was pretty tight and able to work efficiently.  The "big company" aspects gave us security and benefits, and our development team had a great environment.

When I started with Intel I negotiated to work 4 day weeks at 80% pay, so I really enjoyed my situation.  I figured if I got two good years out of Intel that would be bonus.  I never figured, for instance, I would be there long enough to earn my 8-week paid sabbatical after 7 years.  But here I am, almost 8 years later, and feeling so fortunate.  In recent years I have decided I would continue working at this job for as long as I enjoyed the work.  The pay and benefits and working environment and company are marvelous.

Meanwhile, for some years now we have felt our roots are too deep in Oregon to consider moving again.  We have been fortunate to experience two (or three, counting the IBM stint) more job changes and continue living in our house.  I don't see any motive on the horizon to tempt us to move--we really enjoy Oregon, with its mild weather and gorgeous scenery, with such a variety of outdoor opportunities.

So, on this Thanksgiving Day, I acknowledge my tremendous good fortune, both past and present.  I feel like I live such a charmed life, and raise thanks to my God.  And I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to anyone who reads this blog.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On the Oregon Trail

We really enjoyed living in Meridian, Idaho, for just over five years.  The job at HP was great, the neighborhood wonderful--we seemed totally plugged into life there.  But an exciting job opportunity came up that I just had to consider.

A couple of years earlier I had passed on a chance to join a start-up company with a college buddy.  And this kind of nagged at me, so when the next chance came, with Sequent Computer Systems in Beaverton, Oregon, I decided to give it a serious look.

On the interview trip in February, 1984, we left a snowy Boise and landed in a mild, if wet, Portland.  Everything was so green and beautiful.  The job seemed exciting and the near ground floor opportunity with stock offerings was very enticing.  It was a very difficult decision to uproot from Idaho, but we decided to go for it.

I started in late March, and we moved into a rental while we did house hunting.  We ended up finding a home lot we liked with a builder willing to modify a plan to our liking.  We watched the construction through the summer and fall, finally moving in on our anniversary, Dec. 19, 1984.  At the time we considered this our dream house, even though we did compromise on various points to save expense.

We  had so much to explore in this beautiful state--the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Forest Park, and Cannon Beach, to name just a few.

A new house meant yard projects...again.

And before long, we added our fourth child.  But that is another thread.  However, I love this photo, so wanted to sneak it in.