Thursday, May 05, 2016

Ralph Vaughan Williams "Dona Nobis Pacem"

Tonight I drove down to Tucson after work to attend a concert of the Arizona Symphony Orchestra, Arizona Choir and Symphonic Choir performing Ralph Vaughan Williams's "Dona Nobis Pacem."  My friend Mikey (Miguel) sat with me and was nice enough to get me a free ticket!

It was a wonderful concert!  The soloists (esp. the baritone) were really good, and the choirs and orchestra did a great job.  I had not heard this live since I performed it with the Ventura County Master Chorale back when I lived in Oxnard so many years ago.  It is not performed often, which is a shame.

I was especially struck, as I had not been when I was performing, by the "story" aspect of the piece.  As an audience member I could experience and appreciate interplay between the soloists and the orchestra and choir to convey such a depth of meaning.  It was just beautiful and I couldn't help but cry.  I'm so glad I made time to go.

Monday, May 02, 2016


I was up in northern Arizona this weekend.  I drove up to Flagstaff Saturday afternoon and had a chance to hang out with my friend Katie.  She's a FOCUS missionary at NAU.  She's done a great job there but her time is short as she will be leaving at the end of the semester.

Saturday evening was Kappa Xi chapter's initiation ritual.  It was pretty good and their new guys are really terrific.  Of course it was a very late night and I didn't get to bed until like 3!  And of course it snowed... it seems like it almost always snows when I'm up there for initiation.  Just an inch or 2 and it was gone in the a.m. so that was okay.

Sunday I stopped off on my way home to tour Arcosanti. I had driven by so many times but never had a chance to visit, so I was determined to take advantage of this opportunity.  I got there just in time for the 1 p.m. tour.

It's ... interesting.  Soleri's vision of a different way to design a city is still a long way from any kind of completion.  It's been a work in progress for over 40 years and I think it will always be that, actually.  That's not such a bad thing, though perhaps it's different from what the original hype was and/or what Soleri and others thought would happen.  As a place to prototype and experiment with different "city technologies" it can do a lot.  I don't really foresee it ever being a "real" city but that's doesn't mean it's a failure.

Monday, April 25, 2016


A lot of fraternity stuff the last couple of days... and a goodbye.

Saturday morning was a gathering to remember our good friend Tawnya who passed away in December.  I knew Tawnya through skating, but she was a woman of many, many talents and interests.  She was a cancer survivor for many years but alas the cancer came back and she lost her fight.  Seeing the broad spectrum of friends and family that came out to remember her and the breadth of her interests and involvement, it was more clear than ever what a loss this was to so many.  Rest in peace Tawnya.

Saturday afternoon and evening was spent in Tucson for the Alpha Upsilon chapter's initiation.  They had 9 guys enter.  A good turnout, including 2 brothers from Iota Phi (UNM) who made the trip.  A wonderful evening.

Sunday I had dinner with another brother, and we wound up meeting with Province 35's Commission on Standards representative, who was in town to visit family.  The COS is in charge (among other things) of overseeing colonies as they work to become full-fledged chapters of Phi Mu Alpha.  We had a nice dinner and a good conversation.

Tonight I had a rehearsal for our upcoming (Thursday!) concert of the Honegger King David.  Afterwards I stopped off to visit the Kappa Nu colony at their last regular meeting for the year.  After the business was done, they had an impromptu jam session. Watching them having fun making music together and just being sociable, I was really joyous at the effect that Sinfonia is having on their lives.  As I told them, a year ago they were just some guys who knew each other a little.  Now they are a SOMETHING.  An entity, a group with a purpose.  They have come so far!  And seeing them tonight I know that they are going to make it, because they "get it." They are beginning to understand what it is to be a Sinfonian.  Now, we just need to make it official.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Tucson For A Day

I was in Tucson today for a couple of events.  I worked from "home" today, where home was Connect Coworking downtown.  I've worked here a couple of times before while visiting.  Drop-ins are $25/day.  Due to some events they were having, I got to be in the upstairs part of the building which is normally reserved for monthly clients.  It's pretty nice up there!  There are reserved offices and reserved desks, along with clean bathrooms (with a shower!) a kitchen, printers, conference rooms, etc.  It's a pretty nice, quiet space and I could see it as a viable place to work if you needed that and your company would pay for it, or you were a startup.  I paid for street parking, which is $1/hr.

The first event I was here for was the bimonthly NewMonics alumni lunch.  I worked at NewMonics from 1998 - 2002.  It was an awesome place to work, and the fact that we still gather to hang out, eat and chat all these years later says something about what kind of place it was.  There were only four of us today (myself, Evan, Frank, and Bergy) but we had good food and a great conversation.  Awesome.

After my work day I met up with a couple of the guys from the Alpha Upsilon chapter (Danny B and Nick) for dinner on University.  Good conversation and good food, again.  I'm spoiled!

After that I hit the road for home.  It was a nice day and frankly left me rather homesick for Tucson. *sigh*

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Road Trip

This weekend I went on a road trip for Fraternity business!

Friday night I left town after work and drove to Show Low.  I stopped off in Payson and had dinner with an old high school classmate and friend, Kathy S.  I drive through Payson all the time and had never had a chance to stop and say hi, so I'm glad I was able to this time.  We had some great Mexican food and a wonderful conversation.  Afterward I drove on to Show Low and stayed the night.

The next morning (Saturday) I hit the road.  First stop was Greer, to look around and reconnoiter for our Province Retreat at Benny Creek campground over Labor Day.  The campground was closed but I was able to take some good pictures of the area and get a feel for what it's like.  I think it will be nice.

After that brief excursion I drove on to Albuquerque via US 60 to NM 36 to NM 117 through the El Malpais National Monument.  It's a pretty desolate area, but I love seeing the lava flow there.  It's so striking and thought provoking to me -- I imagine what it must have been like when the lava was flowing and wonder why it did stop THERE and not somewhere else? Then on to I-40.

I got into town and checked into my hotel with just enough time to shower and change and get to the restaurant for dinner with the Iota Phi chapter and their probationary members.  We had a great dinner and fellowship, including (of course) serenading our waitresses.  After dinner and some post-dinner talking it was off to UNM to get ready for the initiation ritual.  As usual I spent most of my time beforehand sitting with the PMs, getting to know them and hearing about their experience in the PM process.  They are a great bunch of guys, and as usual Iota Phi has done a great job preparing them.

The Ritual was well done and, in a first, starting only 20 minutes after the nominal "knock" time of 9 p.m.  I was impressed!  Afterward we took pictures as usual and then I went back to the hotel and went to bed.

Sunday morning I drove up to Santa Fe to grab some stuff for my friend Olivia (she just moved to Phoenix) from her mom, then back down I-25 to El Paso.  I got in around 3:30, checked in to the hotel, then went over to UTEP to meet with Nu Lambda's vice president and FEO.  We talked for about an hour, I think, and I got a good overview of how things are going for them and gave some insights and advice.  Afterward I hung around writing up some notes for a while, then headed out for some dinner and back to the hotel.

Monday morning I checked out of the hotel and went over to UTEP.  I was at school all day for meetings:

  • chapter Faculty Advisors
  • FA for the SAI colony there
  • chapter secretary
  • chapter treasurer
  • chapter alumni relations officer
  • chapter president
  • other brothers
Unfortunately I did not get to meet with the SOM assistant head.  The school is in the process of choosing a new department head and they were actually in meetings that day for more discussions so everyone was very busy.

I did manage to sneak out for some food at the UTEP student union.  It's really a pretty neat campus.

At the end of the day (around 6) the chapter did their "Black Night".  This is normally part of the PM process; they don't have a PM class this semester but did one anyway as part of fraternal education.  I only was able to stay for an hour but I found it very edifying.

At 7ish I hit the road for home!  I had gassed-up the car Sunday night so I drove straight through to Deming, where I stopped for some food and a potty break.  Then back on the road and straight through to Tucson for another food/bio-break, and then home around 1 a.m.   Phew!  It was a good trip though.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Take Me Out To The Ball Game...

Today was a pretty fun day -- Shutterfly took our team out to watch the Diamondbacks - Rockies game at Chase Field.  We got a ticket and $20 of Dbucks for food. 

I rode the light rail out to the game from the park n' ride at Apache and 101.  I'd never ridden the Phoenix light rail; it's pretty much the same as Portland's MAX except the people are not as interesting :-).  Round trip was $4 which beat paying for parking and dealing with horrible traffic, so that was nice.

The game was fun, although we lost 4-3.  I really do enjoy spending time with my coworkers; they are a good bunch and a lot of fun.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Just checking in...

I've not posted here in almost 2 years... geez!  Sorry about that.

I took some time to update the blog template.  Not horribly impressed but Blogger has made a lot of changes since I started this blog in 2002 and the old stuff is not well supported, so it was time. I'll see if I can actually start posting again.

Since I posted last....

  • I'm still at Shutterfly
  • Still skating!
  • In October 2014 I was appointed Province Governor for Province 35 of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a men's music fraternity that I joined in 1983.  As PG I am responsible for keeping an eye on four chapters in Arizona, New Mexico, and "extreme West Texas" a.k.a. El Paso.  In addition we have a colony (chapter in the making) at ASU that I've been working with for 2 years or so.  With a bit of luck we will have them operation by this time next year.
  • I'm still singing with the Schola at Ss. Peter and Paul in Tucson.
  • I'm also singing with the ASU Choral Union, a community chorus sponsored by ASU and conducted by the inimitable Dr. Schildkret.  It's a lot of fun and we do some pretty good music!  We are performing the Honegger "King David" April 28th.
That's it for now!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

One Month!

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.