Christmas Toes

2011-10-02 133333 073.JPG The family officially celebrated my birthday this evening with a feast of my favorite foods. Maya gave me an assortment of three gourmet cheeses which complemented a last of the season tomato, mozzarella and basil bruschetta. This course was followed by baked ziti and my mother’s rice pudding recipe for dessert. The deliciousness of this meal was well worth the dent it put in my diet. I was so engrossed in the food that I did not take any pictures of the birthday boy so this shot of Maya’s decorated toes will have to stand in (pun intended).

Birthday Bouquet

2011-09-29 153357 109.JPG I reached my 53rd birthday today with much to be thankful for. I am in great health, I have a wonderful family, and a great job. I am between soccer injuries and playing better than I have for many years. I have now spent more than half my life in love with the same woman and our kids are all thriving, each in their own way. Life is good.

I received this fruit bouquet and a nice card from my colleagues at work today. We have postponed our family celebration until Friday because I have soccer practice this evening (mustn’t lose sight of priorities).

Field Hockey

2011-09-28 174709 994.JPG Maya has expressed interest in playing field hockey on her middle school team this year. Here she practices with Sarinnagh in the back yard. Judging by the number of divots in the lawn I would say the girls are wise to be spending time on refining their technique. Maya informed me that it was much harder than it looked and encouraged me to give it a try. Not one to back down from such a challenge I stepped up, took aim, and launched a large section of turf across the yard. My second attempt was more fruitful but Maya had made her point. Her challenge now will be one of scheduling around conflicts with Model UN and Student Government both of which she is interested in pursuing.

Natural Gas

2011-10-02 152253 075.JPG It took longer to research the local plumbing codes and plan the installation than it did to run a new natural gas line to the standby generator I am installing. Code requires an external shutoff valve, a flexible pipe coupling to the generator (to isolate vibration), a 3″ sediment trap, and black steel pipe for all plumbing. Planning involved sizing the pipes and valves to carry the required volume of natural gas and routing the pipe from the existing system to the new location using nothing but commercially available pre-cut lengths of pipe (avoiding the need for renting a pipe threader or obtaining custom cut lengths of pipes). Natural gas pipe fittings leave no room for error. The slightest leak can lead to a house leveling explosion. Every joint must be tested. I used two methods to be absolutely certain of my work. The first method involves applying the equivalent of soapy water to each joint and inspecting for bubbles. The second involves over pressurizing the line with compressed air and checking the next day to ensure that the pressure has not dropped.

New Passport

2011-09-25 090814 977b.jpg I will be travelling to China in early December to visit our contract manufacturers and several key vendors. My passport has run out of pages for additional stamps and visa entries. For $80 dollars you can send your passport in and they will add 40 new pages. For $110 you can get a new 52 page passport and reset the ten year life. The later option was the obvious choice and I shot this self portrait for the required photo. I am not particularly happy with the result and I do not know who to blame more, the subject or the photographer.

Skyping

2011-09-25 210144 982.JPG Jeanine was up at the crack of dawn to begin her 12 hour day (2 hour drive, 8 hour class, 2 hour drive) at the University of Bridgeport. Nico was grounded for a curfew violation and Maya attended church school while I played soccer. We faced the top team in our division and had to settle for a 0-0 tie in very hot and humid conditions which left both sides exhausted. My team played very well as did I but our opponent was an even match for us. Afterwards Maya and I attended a pool party hosted by Rob Morrison, our goalie. Maya had a great time and wound up swimming in her clothes after declining to bring a swim suit despite my urging. The family waited for Jeanine to return so we could eat together at Chang An. It was our first time there seated at a table for four. Fortunately we ended the evening with a Skype video call to Kyle which alleviated our sense of loss.

Flexi-Girl

2011-09-24 095440 445.JPG Jeanine and I both attended Maya’s soccer game this morning. She had a great game demonstrating athleticism far beyond her years. Despite dominating play for most of the game her team lost 0-1. I spent a few hours working on the installation of our new standby generator working mostly on the interior wiring. In response to a last minute call for volunteers, Jeanine and I attended the dance at the high school as chaperons. Nico seemed unfazed when he discovered we were there. Many things have changed since I was in high school but at the end of the day it is still just boys and girls trying to get close to each other. I was called upon to vanquish a boy from another high school trying to sneak in through the open quad area. I was very BA in an appropriately parental way.

Father’s Day

Frank & Angela Wedding.jpg Today would have been my father’s 87th birthday and his 55th wedding anniversary. I am happy that our children each had a chance to know him deeply and that he will live on for a very long time in the memory of those who loved him. I am sad that he is no longer here to witness and take pride in the lives of his nine grandchildren.

My dad always used to complain about having to share his birthday with his anniversary. Felt he was being cheated some how. I once asked him why he chose to marry on his birthday. He told me it was so that he would never forget the date and then laugh at the outcome of his brilliant plan.

I miss his laughter.

My mom always complained that we only called on this day to wish my dad a happy birthday and never remembered it is was also her anniversary. Very tricky business keeping both parents happy.

Does one continue to “celebrate” birthdays and anniversaries after a person dies? I am more confused than ever. If I call the house my dad will not answer and when my mom does I am fairly certain “Happy Anniversary” will not be the way to start the conversation.

I think I will just call my mom tomorrow and tell her that I love her.

College Roomate

1981-06 020.jpg Thanks to LinkedIn I just reconnected with my roommate while I attended Stanford University, Ken Zabriskie. We shared an apartment in Palo Alto, hiked the Napali coast in Kauai together, and ran the Bay to Breakers. We are pictured here after the 7.5 mile race from the San Francisco Bay to the breakers on the Pacific Ocean. As I think back on it Ken was responsible for kindling my interest in photography and was also the man behind the camera for some of my favorite photos from that time in my life. He is living in Indianapolis, has 4 kids in college, and is a Systems Architect at Global Tel*Link. Connecting with him has inspired me to try and locate other members of a group known as the OYOCs (One Year On Campus). Back in the day, Bell Laboratories would hire promising college graduates and sponsor their Master’s degree while paying them half salary. It was a fantastic program and I met some of the most wonderful people while on that program.

Standby Power

2011-09-22 071044 964.JPG During the 8 years we have lived in Concord we have seldom lost electrical power for more than a few minutes at a time. On only one occasion were we powerless for more than a day. With changing weather patterns seemingly producing more and more extreme weather I decided it was time to invest in a standby generator. An extended power loss during sub freezing temperatures could result in burst water pipes which are very expensive to repair and cause huge collateral damage. The system delivered today is powered by natural gas and is completely automatic. In the event of a power loss it will restore power to essential circuits within the house in a matter of seconds and will run for as long as needed. I will complete most of the installation myself but will probably sub out the gas line connection. Now all I need to do is figure out how I am going to move this 350 pound behemoth to its service position on the southwest corner of the house.

Nico Proofing

2011-09-19 185515 961.JPG With soccer season in full swing Nico is putting maximum stress on his crutches. Over the weekend one of his crutches had a total failure. Today the second one had the exact same failure. The aluminum insert to which the upper end of the carbon fiber tube connects appears to have suffered a material fatigue failure. We spoke with Kerith at SideStix this evening and will be returning the broken parts for failure analysis. Meanwhile Nico will use his backup crutches which are of a slightly different design. Nico had an assist on his team’s first goal before he was forced to sit for the rest of the game. Nico continues to be the most aggressive field tester that SideStix has and they are committed to make their products “Nico proof”. We can literally point to a half dozen major design improvements that address prior Nico induced failures.

Guitarist #2

2011-09-19 072913 955.JPG Maya continues to show interest in learning to play the guitar. While we were away in California she taught herself to play a new song which she was happy to audition for us. As the first anniversary of my father’s passing approaches I can think of absolutely nothing that would have given him greater joy than to see another of his grandchildren take up the instrument he loved so dearly. We have now made arrangements for Maya to take lessons with Kyle’s former teacher.

Final Farewell

2011-09-18 151126 882.JPG Kyle joined Jeanine and I for an on campus outdoor non-denominational Sunday morning service this morning. Sitting between us it is not clear whether he noticed our tears as the music tugged at our heart strings. The moment had arrived to say goodbye. We enjoyed a nice reception after the service and posed for a family portrait before leaving our son to start his college adventure.

Jeanine and I drove over the foothills to Santa Cruz where we got some exercise along the Pacific ocean before returning to San Jose for our red-eye flight back to Boston.

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Move In

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I felt infinitely better this morning after a quick rebound from my severe illness yesterday. Rising several hours before the sun I decided to spend some time on the SCU campus, my first real visit, to familiarize myself with Kyle’s home for the next four years and to take some photos. The architecture and layout reminded me of a smaller and more intimate version of Stanford University. Centered on the historic Mission Santa Clara this private Jesuit school was the first institution of higher learning in California opening its doors in 1851.

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Our move in time was scheduled for 10:30am at which time we entered a well organized queue of cars which pulled up to the dorm, Swig in our case, and discharged passengers and belongings on the curb. Huge containers on wheels were provided into which all items were loaded for the elevator ride to the seventh floor where Kyle will share a room with Tyler from Seattle. With the three of us working in concert we had Kyle situated and organized in his dorm room in no time flat. He selected the bed adjacent to the window which overlooks the Santa Cruz foothills and gives him a good overview of the party scene at the off campus housing below.

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Shopping Spree

2011-09-16 155017 710.JPG Shopping was the order of business today. Armed with a list of supplies and essential dorm room accouterments, Jeanine, Kyle and I went on a shopping spree that ended when our rental SUV reached full capacity. It was amusing to see other college freshman flanked by their parents with equally full shopping carts at each of our strategically selected shopping venues. Vans and SUVs stuffed to the ceiling in our hotel parking lot revealed that a half dozen or so Santa Clara bound student were also staying here. It was a very busy and productive day during which we procured exactly what we needed. Unfortunately, I came down with a bout of food poisoning which left me sicker than I have been in quite some time. I took a short nap in the late afternoon and was able to join Kyle and Jeanine for dinner in Cupertino at the home of the Meugees, friends of ours from 18 years ago when we lived here. It was great to reconnect with them and to see how their son, David, one of Kyle’s early childhood playmates, had grown up.

One Way Ticket

2011-09-15 161749 709.JPG After a busy morning of packing Jeanine, Kyle and I left for the airport with a pair of round trip and a single one way ticket for San Jose, California. During the long flight, connecting through Phoenix, I had time to think about the various one-way tickets I had purchased in my life. Each one demarcated a major transition point in my life journey. I suspect the same will be true for Kyle. In twenty years will this day be remembered as the one on which he moved from the east coast to the west coast? The day that led to a job in Silicon Valley or marriage to a girl from Santa Barbara? Only time will tell. My emotions today have been running the gamut but mostly I am excited for Kyle as he embarks on this new chapter in his life. Kyle is fully ready to begin college. Santa Clara’s academic school year begins later than most colleges and Kyle has been bouncing off the walls for the last few weeks. Kyle leaves the nest very well prepared for what lies ahead. I wish I could say that Jeanine and I were as well prepared for the void we will feel when we return to Boston without our first born.