2002-2003 Yearly Newsletter

Hi, and welcome to my 2002-2003 holiday letter. Lots going on over the last couple years; I’ll try to stick to the high points.

I’ve made both home and job changes over the last couple years. On the home front, I’d been living in an apartment in Los Gatos, a pretty, historic little town tucked into the South Bay Area foothills on the road to Santa Cruz. Finally, after decades of thinking (and waffling), in April 2002 I closed on a loft in the South of Market area in San Francisco.

The loft is a classic 1450 sq-ft new-construction space in a 1915-era warehouse- soaring 16′ ceilings, aged concrete and industrial steel, windows and light everywhere. I’m close to downtown, shopping, Golden Gate Park, theaters, and restaurants galore. A mixed industrial/residential neighborhood is not for everyone, but things like the sometimes-noisy nearby clubs are more than offset by SF culture, wonderful bits like the neighborhood fire twirlers that practice in my street every Sunday evening. It works for me, feels right, and is almost always energizing. I’m thrilled.

My job at Adobe changed a few months later. I’d been in engineering for the Adobe publishing software FrameMaker for 8 years, with the last couple years as the Senior Engr. Mgr. After shipping FrameMaker 7.0, Fall 2002 came with news that FrameMaker would be transitioned to India, and that my engineering team of 30 would move to new jobs or be laid off. The result: uncertainty, anxiety, frustration, anger, and resignation, with liberal doses of irony and gallows humor. My managers and I eventually found homes for a majority of the team, successfully moved the product to India, and threw a killer bon voyage party.

After all that, I took the opportunity for a long anticipated 7-month leave-of-absence from Adobe, starting at the end of 2002. My oldest brother Jim passed away in March 2002, leaving me as the administrator of his estate. His house needed to be emptied and sold, and I wasn’t able to focus on it while working full time. The LOA provided time to find Doug, my agent, hire contractors, and dispose of a house full of stuff in a 3-day Mother of All Garage Sales. Stuff. Man, am I tired of stuff. But I’m also pleased I was able to fix up the house, and leave it and the neighborhood in good shape.

The LOA also gave me the chance to hang out with my mom, for the first time in probably too long. Kay turned 90 at the end of 2002, and is still living in the Vallejo house I was raised in. Her tendency to help out both stray cats and stray people had resulted in a cast of unsavory characters essentially living in her garage and spare bedroom. It took 3 months of getting to know the county probation officers, learning new social engineering skills, and selective direct action, to get everyone evicted. Yuck.

But they all finally left, and I was able to remodel her spare room into an office, with a computer and white-board. Since Jim passed away, I’m helping her with her rental business; having the computer, file cabinets, and a place to work makes a big difference.

We had another death in the family this fall, with Kay’s sister Marian passing away after a major stroke in October. Kay and my sister Kathy handled the arrangements, but that means Kay has to get used to living in the house alone. We’ve all been worried about her, but I think she’s enjoying having the place to herself. Aldrick (her raconteur and opera aficionado brother) comes by 2-3 times per week, I drop in when I can, and she has other acquaintances visiting often enough that I don’t think she has THAT much time by herself.

I managed to get in the requisite recreational activities through all this. Street and mountain biking, yoga, and telemark skiing have been the biggies. My two big outdoor accomplishments were climbing and skiing Mt Lassen with Ellen, and getting to the top of Mt Shasta by climbing the backside. Ellen and I also rafted (American River) and sailed (SF Bay), did a handful of rock climbing trips, and lots of cooking. We read all 5 Harry Potter books out loud to each other, a few chapters being done over the phone (some couples do other things over the phone, we read Harry Potter :^).

I went back to Adobe in July of this year, finally getting a Real Job as Director of Quality Engineering in Core Technology. Woo hoo! Other than the reentry shock of returning to the corporate world, I’ve been enjoying the promotion- it’s a chance to try out things I’ve learned with a new group of people, and to see how much of a difference I can make. It’s unfortunately also added greatly to my stress level; I’m hoping that will ease off as I get more settled.

Having a Real Job has diminished the amount of time I have with Ellen, which neither of us are happy about. She sold her house in Palo Alto a few months after I bought my loft in 2002, subsequently buying investment property in Nevada City. She and I tried living together in SF, but she has strong trees-and-open-spaces preferences, and I need a lot of space and time to myself, such that she’s been spending most of her time in Nevada City (she’s actually about to close on a second property in the same neighborhood). We see each other when we can, working around the challenges of a 2 1/2-hr drive.

Finally… Betty and I finalized our amicable divorce last year, which was a relief to all concerned (we shared a good lawyer, still a lot of work). She’s doing fine, living in the same Campbell house, working for HP. Ellen’s son and wife are expecting their first child in June, down in Los Angeles. I have 85K miles on my Boxster, with added bike rack to extend my biking range. My new job mates invited me to play in their band, so I did my debut as a rock-n-roll bass player at our holiday potluck a couple weeks ago.

I hope your year and holidays have been great!

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