Archive for the 'family' Category

Underpants.

October 6, 2008

It’s really tough losing a pet.

Underpants was the first cat I ever had. She was a part of my life for 14 years — dating back to the first marriage (one of the few things that still brings back crystal clear memories) — and the primary reason I became a vegetarian.

She was an awesome cat, and had experienced a bit of a renaissance this past summer. She returned to her outdoor ways and had gained a step or two bounding up and down the stairs when before she slowly sauntered. 

Cancer caught her. She ended up with an incredibly fast-growing tumor in her jaw that appeared over the past 6 weeks. We found out on Friday and took her in today for the final time. She passed as she purred on my lap.

I buried her out back.

It’s been a brutal couple of days for us. The boys are all upset, but they’re resilient. 

Goodbye, girl. You’ll be missed.

October 3, 1998

October 3, 2008

Ten years ago I married this wonderful woman.

Best move I ever made.

School Time Bag Time

August 22, 2008

Flash back to the end of August 2007. I arrived home from work — only a few weeks left before I would leave Avenet and start building a company that I had a piece of. The kids were just about to go to public school for the first time and Angela arrived home from shopping with their bags.

My heart sunk. Ang is wonderful at many things. Shopping for school bags in apparently not one of them. Bags are supposed to be my domain. I love a new bag to carry my stuff in. I know how to shop for them, I know how to look at the workmanship to see if it will hold up to the abuse. I also have a pretty good eye for knowing what will fit in the bag (and I’m pretty good at sniffing out a deal).

Owen came home with a big Darth Vader backpack. I had two thoughts: “total crap” and will be difficult to fit in the locker. It was both of those things but it held up better than I thought it would.

Field had a canvas messenger bag. Kids, especially elementary school kids shouldn’t have messenger bags — especially one like this. One area and a slot on the back for folder. Everything hung out of it. Messy.

The kids are vegetarian — like us which means they bring their lunches to school almost every day. Field’s would get clipped to the outside of his bag, making it even more difficult to carry.

This year it’s my turn and we’re starting a two-year bag rotation. Utility is the key. We’ll be checking REI, Altrec, and eBags to find the answer.

Coping with loss (of many thousands of dollars)

October 18, 2006

I’m not a rich man. I’m not poor either. I’m also not unique in my predicament. I’ve been stuck in a job for the past few years (has it been five years already?) — for a couple of reasons, but with real consequences.

I like the people I work with. I even like the work on occasion. The problem comes in the form of compensation. Let me preface further discussion with the following; I know there are a number of things I can do to change this. There are also a number of reasons that I haven’t.

Here are a couple of them:

  1. As I stated before, I like the people I work with (No, I’m not blowing smoke up anyone’s ass here).
  2. The health benefits are excellent — This is important when you have three children.
  3. I seem to lack some “testicular fortitude” with the boss.
  4. I like having an office (with a window and a door). It’s a nice space.
  5. In many ways I prefer a small company (although this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be).
  6. I’m not interested in another “job” — my next move is working for myself, making my own decisions.

It’s also been years since my last pay increase. I’ve supplemented things in a number of ways over the years. I’ve overspent on credit cards. I’ve refinanced the house to pay off the overspending. I’ve eBayed things on a number of occasions. Ang has gone back to work — which has the additional benefit of giving her a bit of sanity (in, quite literally, one of the most insane places). I’ve done some hit-and-miss side-work after hours — and even been paid for it a couple of times. I’ve planned and continue to plan on bigger and better things moving forward, but the reality is that I’ve shortchanged my family of between $20,000 and $30,000 in salary over this past five year period — figuring in only Cost of Living Increases, and this lower wage position.

My salary bubbled up along with other technology folks in the late nineties — to a point that wasn’t maintainable — so I took my 26% pay cut in stride after the Plural layoff. It sucked, but it was a reality I understood. I also figured it would get better. It hasn’t. In real dollars, I’m making 9% less now than I was in 2001 — at the already reduced salary. Figure in more dramatic 26% initial cut and I’m now making 68% a year of where I would have been.

Let me reiterate, that I know I am not alone, but that only takes the edges off of the pain.

Want a real big number? I’ve missed out on over $160,000 if the bubble hadn’t burst and I had just done a good enough job to get the bare minimum salary increase. It’s not as big a number as those seen by the truly rich, but it’s much, much bigger in ways that really matter.

Like most Americans, I’d have probably just spent it all on hookers and blow. Right?

So I’ve become a real bargain shopper. I dig thrift stores — I found an amazing number of like and brand new shirts the other night for about $5 each. I like to find ways to simplify. It’s amazing how this “slip down the ladder” has changed my perspective on what is important. I still have pride. I’m much more comfortable with who I am. I couldn’t care less about how big my television is — I don’t watch TV. I don’t care that my car is 11 years old — in fact it’s a fact I revel in. It’s economical, paid-for, and a blast to drive. I smile every time I climb in. I don’t go out like I used to. I’d rather grab the camera and find something interesting to shoot or hop on the bike than head to the bar. I spend countless hours coming up with ideas for new products. I fill Moleskine after Moleskine with jottings and story ideas. I continue to work towards a better life.

Oh, but that’s all so boring!

My wallet’s not as fat — by a long shot, but I’m not bored.

[photos] my son made these

September 12, 2006

My six-year-old son, Field, has been watching me take photos his whole life and asked for my old digital camera last weekend. I was more than happy to oblige him. Here are four of his first shots. I wasn’t with him but sent him with his grandparents with this, “Sometimes, but not always, a small part of a thing is more interesting than the whole.”

I expected 65 shots of his little brother and cousin making faces — he took 25 shots and only two obligatory snapshots in the bunch.

These are all full-frame.

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