Hi! I'm Gordon Zaft, why isn't everyone?


Thursday, May 15, 2014

One month!

Yesterday was my one month anniversary at Shutterfly.  The time is going by really quickly!  I'm enjoying it a lot.  For example today I had my head buried in automation code... the time flies by which is kinda nice.  Got my first regular paycheck today (with all the deductions, health insurance, 401K etc. in place).  I upped my 401K withholding by 3% and I'm coming out about the same almost as at Intel (though I will def. miss those bonuses!).

Unfortunately Shutterfly does not do any matching at all for 401K, so I am going to have to work harder to save for retirement.  To be fair, Intel did not match 401K either, but they had a separate Intel plan that they put money into as well.  Since I was there for 8 years I am vested in that as far as it goes.  I guess this means that like a lot of Americans my age, my retirement income will come from a lot of different sources.

I've pretty much adapted to schedule and so forth, now I'm just trying to get my skating life back in some sort of order AND get my butt to the gym.  So far that's not happening.

Friday, May 09, 2014

New Job

I started my new job April 14th.  I am working at Shutterfly!  My job title is Senior Software Development Engineer in Test.  Pretty fancy-schmancy, eh?  Basically I am doing software QA, back to the kind of stuff I was doing before Intel.  We are using Agile methodology so there's been a learning curve for that as well as our tools  and environment.  Now that I've completed my 4th week I'm feeling like I'm starting to settle in a bit.  I even managed to help one of the other "new guys" today, which was a good feeling.

It's hard to explain how excited I am about this job.  My coworkers are a lot of fun and pretty supportive.  My boss is great.  I feel like I'm learning a lot of cool stuff that will make me more valuable in the future and it's challenging and gets me thinking.

Things I like more than Intel:

  • very few meetings!  Most days I have just ONE 15-minute meeting (our "scrum").  I can't tell you how good it feels to have uninterrupted time to get things done
  • cool coworkers
  • great boss
  • good benefits -- free product, they take us out to lunch pretty regularly, we have a variety of treats in the break room
  • willingness to spend money on tools etc.
  • regular work from home day (Thursdays)
Things I like less than Intel:
  • commute -- okay, I was pretty spoiled living a mile from work.  Now I'm commuting into west Tempe/east Phoenix with a million other people.  Still it will get better -- we will be moving in 2015 to a site closer to my house and with a less daunting commute
  • no air shuttle -- okay, so now when I want to go to Oregon I have to pay for it on my own dime.. oh well!
  • a bit less flexible on scheduling.  I am pretty much expected to be in the office 9-5; I can't really come in much later than that so I am having to get up earlier to skate.  On the positive side I think I am a bit more productive this way so long term it will probably be better for me
  • Mac OS learning curve -- I'm sure I'll be over this before long, but having to learn to do things the Mac way has been a lot to deal with.  Of course the upside is I'll be "bilingual" in the future.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Day 5 of my Loneliest Road trip.

I hit the road from Topaz Lake about 9 and headed south on 395.  I stopped at Mono Lake to look around and take some pictures... truly amazing!  I did not take time to go to the South Tufa area, which supposedly is more impressive, but what I did see on the shore and at the visitor center was pretty amazing.

Headed south again... the mountain views were breathtaking.  Got into Bishop and gassed up and got some lunch, then south to Big Pine where I turned east onto CA 168.  This is a narrow, curvy mountain road that goes up and over the White Mountains to Deep Springs Valley, then up and over more mountains to meet up with 266.  It was a really fun drive! It reminded me of 191 in eastern Arizona -- lots of hairpin curves and switchbacks.  At one point, for about 100 yards it was one lane!  Eeep.  A few miles in I caught up to a car in front of me... was thinking Crud! Stuck!  But after a mile or so the driver pulled over and let me pass, which I really appreciated.  Anyway it was a really fun drive!

266 to 95 was not as exciting but it was pretty.  Then I took 95 to Vegas and 93 home to Phoenix as usual.  I got home about 10:30 p.m.

It was a great trip! I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Day 4 of my Loneliest Road trip.  Today I actually drove the Loneliest Road!

I left Ely, NV about 9 a.m.  Stopped in Eureka and got my Guide stamped at the Opera House.  What a cool building!  I really like Eureka.  It's small but it's really charming.

Onward from Eureka to Austin.  US 50 from Ely all the way to Austin traverses a large number of basins (usually 10 - 20 miles wide) separated by mountain ranges.  The basins are at probably 6000 feet and the mountain passes up to 7500 feet, so you really feel like you are at the top of the world.  While the surroundings will definitely make you feel "lonely" as there are almost no human habitations at all outside of the two towns, in another sense it's not that lonely as there was certainly enough traffic (usually going the other way) that I didn't feel particularly lonely.  It's true that I very rarely caught up to anyone in front of me or saw anyone behind me, though, in spite of setting a new GZ land speed record (classified).

Austin is on the western slope of a mountain range -- well, really in a ravine.  It's pretty narrow and US 50 is the main street and all the other streets are on the hill on either side.  I stopped for lunch and got my Guide stamped again, took some pictures of some quaint buildings including three pretty impressive churches and the Stokes Castle.  Then on into a verrrry wiiiiiide basin that went on for ever, seemingly.

Austin to Fallon is about 110 miles (further than the other towns which are spaced 60-70 miles apart).  A bit after Cold Springs (a Pony Express station and there's a little store there) the landscape changed pretty quickly as the road descends from the previous 6000 ft or so average down to more like 4000 ft.  So instead of a slightly green high desert with snowcapped peaks all around it was a very brown desert with mostly brown peaks (some had a little snow, but not much).  About 20 miles from Fallon I stopped to look at the remains of the Sand Springs Pony Express station (kinda cool!) and also Sand Mountain. Sand  Mountain is very very cool and I took some video of the crazy people driving their buggies and even cars up it.  Yikes!  Also saw several Navy jets from Fallon flying overhead returning from the range.

Coming into Fallon the last 10 miles or so the road is going through a somewhat residential area and it's slower.  Got into Fallon and got my Guide stamped at a Chevron station, yay!  I originally was going to stop at the Chamber of Commerce but it was closed?  What the heck?!

On from Fallon and I almost missed the turnoff as 50 turns into Alt-50 to Fernley; you have to make a left to stay on 50 to Carson City.  A fairly uneventful drive although I was surprised at the suburbs (I guess that's what they are) like Stagecoach where they are building houses left and right even though it's like 20 miles from Carson City.  Weird.

Got into Dayton and I wanted to get my Guide stamped (even though I already had the requisite 5 stamps) but couldn't find the Chamber of Commerce.  There was a roadsign but I couldn't find it.  I decided to go for the other option, the Dayton Museum... only to discover it was closed.  So I went looking for the C of C again, and even stopped at a nearby store and asked for help.  Finally  I found it hiding in plain sight -- it was where the sign was, but it was inside a bank building.  There was a very small sign outside not visible from the road.  Of course with my luck, it was only open MWF 9-2 so I missed out.  By now it was like 4:30 and I hit the road and hightailed it to Carson City hoping to get one more stamp, at the C of C there.  I got there about 10 to 5 and though it said it was open M-F 8-5 it was, of course, already closed.  GRRR!!

Continued on to Topaz Lake, where I had gotten a great deal on a room at the Best Western.  It's really a pretty place although, like every lake in CA (-ish) the level is quite low due to the drought.

Tomorrow I'm heading south on 395 to Big Pine, then over to 95 and back home (if I have enough energy) via Vegas and Kingman.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Still road-tripping!

Today I left Ogden about 10 or so and headed down I-15 to Nephi, where I took Utah 132 west to the junction with Highway 6.  From there I headed to Delta where I gassed up again and had lunch.

The drive from Delta to Ely was quite striking.  Delta is a cute little town with one stop light. From Delta to the Nevada border was mostly flat with a little bit of mountains and a lovely view of Sevier Lake, a mostly-dry lake that does have some water in it now it looked like.  Right after I spotted a small flock of sheep in the road, about 15 or 20 of them.  I was rather surprised to see them since I thought it was mostly a cattle area. I did set a new land speed record for me of 111 mph.  Not going to do that again but it was rather exciting. 

At Baker (on the Nevada border) I stopped at the Border Inn and got my first stamp in my Loneliest Road Survivor's Guide.  Yay!  From there I went on to Ely, going through a couple of mostly deserted valleys separated by snowcapped peaks that were just breathtaking.  Gorgeous, really.

I got into Ely just before 4.  The motel is not the greatest, but it's clean so that's enough.  I ran over to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum.  Way cool!  And I got my Guide stamped for Ely.  The deal is you have to get it stamped in 5 different towns to get your "I Survived" certificate.  Ha!  I think it's fun.

After the museum I gassed up the car and wandered around Ely a bit, then came back to the motel and relaxed and surfed the web a bit.  About 7:30 I went and had dinner at Racks Bar and Grill just down the street.  Not bad. 

I'm going to relax and do some reading and try to get to bed early so I can get an early start.  Tomorrow it's all the way across Nevada to Carson City and a little further, down to Gardnerville.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Still road tripping..

Today I got up, checked out of the hotel and went over to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center and toured the Glen Canyon Dam.  It was really awesome!  I love dams.  I've seen Hoover (of course), Grand Coulee, Bonneville, and the Coolidge Dam.  There are a number of dams in Arizona that I've not seen since I was little so I don't count them.

After the dam tour I gassed up and got some food, then hit the road up 89.  Pretty country!  At one point I was heading up a hill and saw a passing lane open up with a (slowish) truck so I hit it to get around him before the lane ended... got the Mazda6 up to 97 (going uphill!).  Seemed like it was capable of more but there wasn't space or time and anyway I worry about getting a ticket.

Got stuck for 15 minutes or so in Panguitch waiting for a pace car to take us through construction... then on up until I got to the highway 20 turnoff.  20 is fairly short but it was fun with some nice curves.  Then on to 15 and boring driving -- although the speed limit was (usually) 80!  That was nice.

Coming into SLC I almost got rear ended... traffic got really busy and all of a sudden the traffic in my lane (left lane!) stopped short, and I stopped, and the guy behind me stopped (phew!) but then I hear screeching/squealing and I was waiting for the impact... which didn't happen, thank God.  The car behind the car behind me couldn't quite stop in time but he was smart and lucky and pulled over into the HOV lane and stopped about half a car length alongside the car behind me.  Smart to have pulled over, and lucky that the lane was empty.  Geez!

Got into Ogden and had dinner with a friend, then websurfing and off to bed soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I'm on a road trip!

 Here's the route..

Today I left about 2 p.m. and drove up 17 to Flagstaff, then on up 89 toward Page.  I love the scenery north of Flagstaff; it's a huge volcanic field with more cinder cones (similar to the area east of Springerville).  Due to a road outage there's a detour  (Navajo 20, signed as "89T" (Temporary)).  A landslide took out part of 89 so ADOT got $ from the Feds to pave N20 (it was dirt/gravel).  It's pretty nice, really.  Got into Page just before dark and found the hotel, then took my friend Kirsten's recommendation and went to the Dam Bar and Grille for a really awesome steak.  Yum!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

[I'm going to try to go back to posting more here... we'll see]

I am in Oregon for work, and got to attend rehearsal last night with the Oregon Chorale.  I'm going on tour with them this summer so this I'm taking advantage of my work trips to go to rehearsal and learn the music.

Oh my gosh, it was so much fun!  And a good workout too.  I have not sung with a choir like this since I left Oregon and I'd forgotten just how much fun it is.  We worked hard for two hours and covered a lot of ground.

This morning I was driving to work from my friend's house and it was very foggy.  Very surreal and reminded me a lot of foggy mornings when I lived here, driving to the rink in the early morning (although that was darker!) and then to work from the rink.  Good memories.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Dad, Alfred George Zaft, Jr., passed away today, March 23, 2013, of complications from lung cancer.

He  had been somewhat sick for some time.  Doctors thought it was pneumonia, but after several weeks of treatment in December and January they brought him in for a bronchoscopy.  The samples they got showed pneumonia; they were not able to do a biopsy at the time as he went into atrial fibrillation. They were not able to get his oxygen levels up after this procedure so they admitted him to the hospital.  He was in the hospital for several days, then released, but after a week he was back in the hospital again as he was very weak and having trouble breathing.

After 9 days in the hospital they released him to a rehab care facility to work on getting him stronger, but after about 2 weeks there he was back in the hospital again.  After several days there they moved him to an acute care facility, but after 2 weeks he was rapidly getting worse.  He had another bronchoscopy a week ago, where they were able to get a biopsy sample.

This last Tuesday he was appreciably worse so they admitted him to the ICU (down the hall from where he was).  He was in quite a bit of pain, had no appetite and quite a bit of edema.  Early samples from the bronchoscopy showed that besides pneumonia, nocardia bacillia and aspergillus (fungal infection) he also had pseudomonas, a bacterial infection mostly found in hospitals.  He also developed shingles, due both to stress and his weak immune system.

This morning I received a call from my brother that my stepmom had been called into the hospital urgently to meet with the doctor as the biopsy results were (finally) in.  Unfortunately due to rush hour traffic I didn't get there 'til almost 8:30 so I missed the doctor, but the results were what we'd feared for a long time -- lung cancer. Apparently the variety he has often appears on x-rays much like
pneumonia does.  He probably had it bad since October or November.

Unfortunately the reality of the situation was that he was extremely weak from the multiple opportunistic infections he'd been fighting for 2 - 4 months now, and while the antibiotics had kept him alive, he was not winning the fight.  The prognosis was that he was not strong enough to endure cancer treatment on top of what he'd already been fighting; and indeed he had repeatedly said he did not want to.  When the doctor told him that they'd found cancer, he reportedly told him, "I told you that 4 months ago, !".  He had had no appetite for several days and his body gave other signs that he was ready to go.

So, we moved him to a hospice in east Mesa.  It's a beautiful facility.  I was there for a couple of hours last night with him and they are making him comfortable.  He was on oxygen, of course, and meds for the pain (though he occasionally still gasps in pain in a way that would break your heart), and a catheter; but no antibiotics, no monitors, no poking and prodding him.

My brother, sister and I had gathered at midday today to visit with him and my stepmother Fran; but he was heavily sedated and didn't wake up while we were there (or at least, he didn't open his eyes).  We talked to him, told him we loved him, held his hand.

I left around 2:15 to run some errands etc. with the idea that I would come back around 6:15 to see him and give Fran a break.  I received a call from Fran just a few minutes before 5 that he had passed.  I jumped in the car and managed to drive the 20 miles to the hospice in about 21 minutes :-).

 Fran told me she had been sitting with him, holding his hand, and he was breathing regularly, when he took a catch breath... and stopped.  After a moment of disbelief she called the nurse, who confirmed that he had no pulse.

Some family friends arrived immediately after his passing, fortunately, and stayed with her until my arrival so she wasn't alone.  After my arrival I paid my respects and talked with Fran, then my brother Gary and his wife arrived and then my nephew.  We prayed over him and paid our respects, and said our goodbyes. 

Needless to say this happened much, much more quickly than any of us anticipated.  My personal thought was that we had 2-3 days so the fact that he was only at the hospice for a little over a day was quite a shock and a surprise.

It was my dad's desire to be cremated.  I'm sure there will be some kind of ceremony or service at some point but I don't have any information at this point.

When I returned to Arizona in October 2009, my main reason for the move (okay, other than the fact that I couldn't bear the Oregon weather any more) was that I really, really wanted to be closer to my Dad and the rest of my family.  I knew this day would come at some point, and I didn't want to be 1500 miles away when it did.

In the time I've been back in Arizona I've spent a lot of time with my Dad; when he was not on the road in his RV we had dinner once a week and did numerous other things.  I had an opportunity to work on our relationship in a way I'd never had before, since we hadn't lived in the same town since I was 5.  All this is a long way of saying that I had an opportunity to say the things I needed to say to him, to tell him I loved him and to hear him say that he loved me too. 

So, I have no regrets... but of course I will miss him. 

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The WeatherPixie

Gordon/Male/36-40. Lives in United States/Arizona/Tucson/Sam Hughes, speaks English. Spends 80% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes Catholicism/Music.
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