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The Day After Christmas

family

Most of the family is in town.  Our one daughter that is in the mid-west was almost here as we skyped in while we unwrapped presents that she gave us.  This is our first Christmas in our new home, and for how much change we had during the year, it is almost starting to feel a bit like we belong here.

Because we live in Los Gatos, I have been reading about the local history.  One of the main points of the local history is the idea of cats, and this is what Los Gatos is Spanish for “The Cats.”  One of the most famous statues in Los Gatos is the cats sculpture by Robert Paine.

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I want both cats in the entry to our house, but we also have a couple of pillars inside of our house that I stated that I would like some cats.  The family didn’t tell me that they were carefully listening, and the scoured the local area, and they found a set that was perfect for the place that I called out.  I was delighted opening them and placing them in their place of honor.

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Then what is cool about this is that we have another set of pillars on the opposite of the living room where I have some bunnies looking at the cats, almost as if they are afraid that they are going to jump off the pillars and chase them.

Now, there is one other cat that my wife could not hide from me that is sitting outside of our door.

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Well over 100 pounds, my wife said that I might want to buy another so I can put them outside.  However, for right now, this cat is perfectly adorned for our Christmas season.

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Happy Thanksgiving

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Welcome to Thanksgiving in the Yung See San Fong house.  We were pretty close to a grand slam this Thanksgiving with all of the kids home, but my newly wed daughter and her husband are still in De Kalb, IL.  However, we did have my 88 year old Father-In-Law at the table.

This year has been one of a wild ride.  The main thing that has happened since our last blog post has been moving into our new house.  A 100 year old house in the hills of Los Gatos that is in many ways, our dream house.  Now, it isn’t a dream house like many people would have.  No, our dream house is one of history and flavor.  This one was owned by Senator Sanborn Young and his famous author wife, Ruth Comfort Mitchell.

They were given the piece of property in October 1916, and we bought the property exactly 100 years after they got it.  The most striking thing about the property is the view from the living room.  The piece of property is perched approximately 800 feet above the Silicon Valley floor in the hills of Los Gatos, and has an awesome view of the valley.  It is not high like a plane, but like a house that is nicely placed.  Just 1.5 miles from Los Gatos High School, my wife and I were amazed that the place was on the market for two years before we bought it.

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Other than needing to tent it an gas it for termites, which they say is not a critical issue, the place is in remarkably good shape.  Now mind you, there is a hundred things to do on a 100 year old house, but for the most part, nothing is critically pressing.

We had a ton of boxes moving into the house, and we were really nervous about all the books that I had gotten over the years.  For we placed almost all of the books into the downstairs basement and lower room.  However, we were very nervous that we would not be able to get all our stuff in our new house considering that our old house was much larger.  Indeed, after the first day, we had so much stuff on the outside of the house, and the inside was already getting full, I was convinced that we were doomed.

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However, we were able to get a lot of it into the carport/garage.  We moved a lot of it downstairs into the old basement that is a thin passage under the house, and somehow we got a lot of the stuff into the rooms, but not so much that we felt we had in too much weight.

Last weekend we put in the piano, and got it up on a piano dolly, which allows us to move it around the house a little bit.  Considering that one end of the piano space is a inch lower than the other, we had to jack up one side of the piano.  This weekend, I hung the flat panel television on the wall, which required me find the old 2” studs in a lathe and plaster living room.  I drilled some holes just to find the studs, but the TV is now handing nicely over the piano.

We are getting close to having everything crammed into some corner, and we can basically get into almost every corner of the house.  We now need to simplify, but my wife needs to get her knee fixed first.

Regardless, we are loving our new house that the Lord gave us.  I never thought 1 year ago that we would be here.

A Moment Of Reflection

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Well, here I am sitting in the United air lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International airport.  I have been “home” for two day, but really because my wife is not here, it really was not home.  I actually don’t belong to the United premiere club, but my traveling companion, who already left, got me in.

It certainly seems like I could have been writing more, but the last 8 months have just been such a flurry of activity that I simply have not have been doing anything other than trying to just survive.  And I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night a lot.

So where to start?  I left my previous job of 14 years in February of 2016.  In retrospect, the easiest way of describing why I left is to say that I was called.  Now I called away from my last job, but I continue to be engage in my life in hard drives.

I am a hard drive journeyman.  This is all that I’ve known my entire life.  I can’t say that I immediately went to hard drives, but I have grown to love them.

My first real memory of understanding that their was something special about a hard drives was when I was 21 years of age, working at Computers and Applications, a large west coast gray market PC reseller in Bellevue, Washington.  At the time, I was in PC sales, through a path that was just a sheer miracle.  My father was buying a PC, and I was helping to negotiate the price, and the sales manager at the end of the session said, “Do you want a job?”

I remember after being there for a while, somebody had pulled out a hard drive that had died.  Because we were gray market, we couldn’t send it back, and one of the guys pulled the top cover off of it.  I remember that it was still alive enough so that the motor spun up.  The disks were so smooth that you really couldn’t tell that they were spinning.  It was a miracle.

After going back to school and taking a thousand different twists, I ended up at IBM helping to create and sell these hard drives.  I have been in every major hard drive company that was USA based, except for one major one until February of this year.  I left my previous job to go this this final company when I took my new job in February.

My last company was in  Southern California.  SoCal is a wonderful place.  Great weather.  Great outdoors.  Great golfing.  While  the people there complained about the housing cost, really it is is very reasonable compared to Northern California.  The one problem with SoCal is that it is not the home of high tech.  Now mind you, there are bits and pieces of high tech, Qualcomm is there.  Broadcom is there.  However, if you really want to be in high tech, you need to be in NorCal, and specifically you need to be in the Silicon Valley, Santa Clara, San Jose area.

The problem with the Silicon Valley is that there is limited land, and incredible wealth.  This is the home of Facebook, Google, Apple, and many other truly incredible companies.  San Francisco is overrun with web start ups, and really from San Francisco to the end of San Jose, the cost of housing is really crazy.

Let me give you an example:  My house in SoCal was built in 2001, so it is really very new.  We recently replaced and redid everything in the house, although the old stuff was really very nice, and it was only a broken pipe that causes us to do this.  We have the house on the market, and we are asking less than $300 per square foot for the house, in a beautiful neighborhood.

We are currently living in corporate housing in Cupertino, California,  the home of Apple Computer.  You can walk the neighborhoods in the area, and there are many houses from the 1960s, which are not built as nice as my home in SoCal.  These houses regularly sell for $1000 per square foot.  This means that for the same price that you can buy a so a 3,000 square foot house in my neighborhood will cost the same as a 1,000 square foot house in Cupertino. 

I was fortunate enough that my time in SoCal was tremendously rewarding for me financially.  This means that if I had retired in SoCal, I had more than a fair shot of simply using my investments to live my life with my wife.  However, I felt called by God not to do this, so I decided that I needed to continue working, and the new job was going to take me to NorCal.

However, we needed to get  through the housing crunch.  After looking at a lot of houses (with much of this being online, because everything is online), we found an extremely unique piece of property in Los Gatos, California.  Although I really hate to do it,  in many ways we got extremely emotionally attached to the property, for reasons that I’ll write about later, if we actually end up buying the  property.  I think we have a very good chance of closing on the property, but there has been so many twists in the road to getting in an offer, that I am trying to keep a completely open hand with God about this.  I have found that God doesn’t want you attached to anything on this earth.  When he finds that you are more attached to something here, rather than something in heaven, he performs an “extreme mercy” by killing the thing on earth.  Otherwise, you become obsessed with the earthly thing, which makes you no heavenly good.

Getting this house seemed simple at first because when we put our house on the market in SoCal, we immediately had an offer on it.  Once we had an offer on SoCal, we put in an offer on the NorCal house.  Then the SoCal house offer fell through, and the sleepless nights started.  I wanted the NorCal house, but I did not have the funds from my SoCal house to make it happen.  Then after a couple of weeks, we got another offer, which made all things better.  Then it also fell through, and we went into another round of sleepless nights.

However, through some hard work and help from my sister, we found an alternative way to finance the house.  However, this whole thing has been beyond stressful.  It felt as if we were going to lose  the house twice, and then we figured out a way of keeping it.  Every time that this happens, it is like Abraham putting Isaac on the alter, and you have to be willing to sacrifice what is most precious to you to keep you in the right relationship before God.

Some might say, “Why are you taking the hint and not buying the property?”  My view of this is one of spirit and brainpower.  You need to continuously be willing to sacrifice the opportunity on the alter before God.  However, the hard thing, the really hard thing, is to understand that even though God has you put something on the alter, he may ask you not to kill it.  To state it more clearly:  it means that God often calls us to having faith, and working the problem, in light of adversity.   In many ways, it would have been simpler to walk away, but the numbers told me that I should not do this.

What do I mean?

This property is unique in that it has two rental properties on it, with a complete house  where I can also put the family.  Once I rent out the  two properties, I will be able to cover approximately 45% or more of my mortgage and taxes bill every year.  Now I will pay more property tax and insurance, which takes away from the benefit of rent, but I roughly calculate that the bigger house with rentals, will end up costing me 25% less per year than a smaller house with no rentals.

So, it really makes sense from a cash flow perspective, and it is really a very reward opportunity.  Now, because this is so attractive, you think that the mortgage company would see this and make the mortgage incredibly easy to get.  The problem is that we are dealing with corporate America.  Corporate America does not thinking creative, so they are saying that without selling my house in SoCal, I really can’t buy the NorCal house, even though it is a better deal.  This where creativity and a lot of support from my sister came in.  So, we figured out a way of making this work.

With this written, the property is still so unique that the mortgage company wanted to get the assessed value of the property validated by an external assessor.  After we had this done, they asked to have an evaluation of the external assessor’s assessment!  So they are going to the house today to double check the original assessment.

So, I am  supposed to close the house 19 days from now, but I still don’t have final agreement from my mortgage company that they will give me a mortgage on the house.  Both my real estate agent and my mortgage broker believe that they will approve the mortgage, but it is still very distracting.  If you remember, earlier in this long post, I called out that I had not one, but two offers go dead on my SoCal house.  Now, to be clear, we have moved a bunch of times.  I have never had one offer go back, let along two offers.  On top of this, it has been over two weeks since the last offer, and I don’t have another offer on the SoCal house yet.  It almost feels like we are just waiting for more bad news to come in.

So, we wait with bated breath for the validation of the assessment. 

We put the house on the alter one more time, and we tell God that it is his will not ours.

And his will be done.

I Hope I Never Stop

imageI am flying on a plane back from Denver to San Jose.  My home is in Southern California, and I won’t be there for one more day.

The side photo is taken with what is possibly the worst PC photo camera produced in the last 3years.  This web camera is featured on my Lenovo 100S-11IBY.  I bought this PC during Christmas.  It featured a 32bit Bay Trail CPU with 32GB of eMMC memory.  In other words, the low end off the low end.  However, I am using it to find out what a little over $100 (on sale) can buy you.  And other than the world’s worst webcam, it isn’t too bad.

Why am I using this PC?  For the same reason that I have an iPhone in one pocket and an Android phone in the other.  The same reason that I have Linux Mint on a Sandisk USB stick to boot up a portable Linux station. The same reason that I have a USB on the Go dongle in my fanny pack, and I have been using more Google docs of late.

I do this because I am fascinated with technology and the changes that it brings to our lives, and I am going to live every moment of it.

Yesterday, Intel announced that they were laying off 12,000 workers or 11% of their workforce because they needed to adjust to the post PC world, after being in 5 years of declining PC sales.  Although I was born and thrived in the PC world, I am moving beyond it.

This is a change for a man that started in high tech in a start-up in Bellevue, Washington as a Junior in High School on an Apple IIe.  Tell you the truth, I was not the most talented hacker, and there were a couple of kids at the school that were much better than me.  One had discovered how to do machine language on the Apple IIe, and had a beautiful graphic where a dragon would breath fire in monochrome on a 640×320 bit screen. But times have changes, not even our low end cell phones would deal with something so low of a resolution.  Yet, this was state of the art in 1980.

I later would become more technical, but I know that I was unique at the time on strategy and business because I had the habit of just reading about business and technology.  My Dad used to subscribe to Business Week and Forbes, but I bet that I read them more than he did.  I really just enjoyed open up the business press and seeing what people’s strategies are.  I would also read any computer press I could get my hands on.  Normally, if it was tech and business together, I was in high heaven.

In retrospect, I wish that I would have been tested and worked with more focus at a younger age.  Because it has taken me almost 40 years to really start to figure things out.  I read much of this, and I think that I really have only started to understand how unique I am in reading a lot of stuff.  However, the things that I’ve learned is for another blog post, probably in my serous thinking blog.

I woke up last night at 3am in the morning, and I could not go back to sleep.  It wasn’t that I was worried, but it was that I was excited.  I was excited about so many things that I could hardly contain it.

As you well may know from this blog, I have moved to a new job.  This time, the new job is stressful, but it is highly engaging.  I have written this before, but the absolute best thing that you can do for yourself is to get into a position where you do not have to work, then find a job that you do want to work.

I am now 53 years old, and I simply understand that I have a lot of wisdom tucked away in my head.  I am convinced that if I was not in business, what I would have wanted to be is in the military.  We are currently working with some consultants that have a military background, and I am finding that their frameworks are immensely helpful.  I think that the field of war brings out some clarity of thought that is apparent to everybody.

I have told my wife that I will retire at 60 years of age, and I am getting close to that only being six years away, but I am hedging this bet.  Instead, I am telling everybody that I plan to retire in 6 years, but I am trying to make friends so that they will allow me to work part time.

I am moving back to the Silicon Valley at 53 years of age.  The conventional wisdom is that this doesn’t work.  There is ageism in the Valley.  I am like a minority trying to join an all white firm with a strong history of racism.  Yet, I am hoping that my burning desire and my bag full of wisdom will allow me to contribute strongly. 

One of the things that I do that everybody loves is create content.  I have been at my new company for 10 weeks, and already I have people showing me slides that I created.  I am a creator.

Dave Cutler of Microsoft was recently celebrated.  He goes in everyday to Microsoft to code, and just got down with a lot of hypervisor work.

I hope I can be another Dave Cutler.

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This is my gorgeous bride, and she is standing in the hollowed out area where our refrigerator used to be.  By the side of her is our hollowed out oven area.  In front are all our missing cabinets.  Our kitchen is gone.

I have had my new job since February1st, 2016. Out of the last 10 weeks, I have been travelling on 9 of them.  There was one week in which I was not travelling, but this has been far and few between.  I have spent maybe 30 nights in hotel rooms so far.

So, I was in San Jose last week, and my wife gives me a text at 9pm on April 6th.

“Can you call me?  Wesley just found a leak on the floor by the kitchen island.  I am speaking with insurance company.” (SIC)

I call her and ask her to turn off the water.

They aren’t clear where the leak is coming from, and I have fear that it is under the slab, which would be really bad.  However, they immediately got Servepro out to our house, and they start digging around.  They think it is a broken pipe, but when they turn the water back on, it is Wes who spots the water coming out of the center island.

It turns out that the center island actually was piped for another sink.  This is the type of thing that I would have loved to known 14 years ago.  I always thought that there were a few things that I would like in a kitchen.  My Dad has two sinks in his kitchen in Port Orchard, and it is always really nice to be able to rinse out your cup or glass while somebody else is taking up the kitchen sink.

It turns out that although it was plumbed, it was never put in.  The pipe under the center island sprung a leak.

The next day, the Servopro guys came out.  There was one character that we termed Mr. Gumpy pants.  He was both very informative and negative, all at the same time.  My wife was telling me that he was saying that the insurance company may not pay for any of it.  Then he would say that we had pre-existing mold, and everything would need to be ripped out.  Then he would say that the insurance company would pay for everything.  It was all very confusing.

I flew in the next day, and in the morning, I went downstairs when Mr. Gumpy pants was there.  I greet him, and he looked at me and said, “I’m your worse nightmare.”

Not knowing what exactly what that meant, I ignored him and he showed me were the water went. 

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We have Pergo as a wood floor look alike.  The Pergo sits on a thin pad of foam.  This gives just a tiny bit of flex, and it makes installation very easy.  The under pad also serves as an aquafer layer for a leak.  Once the center island started to leak, the water ran under the floor, and was channeled throughout the lower part of our house.  In other words, it went everywhere.

The family room was wet.  The kitchen was wet.  The guest bedroom downstairs was wet.  It was a mess.

I am still travelling during this time, and my wife is dealing with all of the craziness.  While I’m in San Jose the next week, she gives me a call. 

“Well the good news is that they insurance is going to pay for all but $5,000 of the damage,” she said.

You know that when the good new is “you’ll only need to pay $5,000,” there is a lot worse coming.  It turns out that because the water went everywhere, there is no good way of getting it out other than to rip everything out.  When I say everything, I mean the floor is coming out. Part of the walls are coming down.  The cabinets need to be replaced.  Finally, they said that the granite on top of the counters will most likely break, so these will also need to be replaced.  It is a major change.

My wife informs me that they will be ripping out much of the floor, taping off 30% of the downstairs, and then filtering the air to make sure they get all the mold out for the next three weeks.  We will have no kitchen at all.

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The next week, they come and they start ripping out the floor.  Now while the kitchen may have been a little more well used, the family room had an old oriental rug on it that kept it well preserved.  I get a phone call from my wife.

“It’s so sad,” she said.  “The floor is so beautiful, and they are ripping it out.  They should send it to somebody less fortunate than us.  Somebody should be able to use this floor because it looks new.”

I inform her that they don’t make this color any more, and there is nothing we can do.

“I know,” she says glumly.

They come the following week, and they tape off the kitchen and the guest bedroom and set up their filtering equipment.  Now we are very fortunate that many years ago, when we lived in Cary, North Carolina, we were forced to buy a refrigerator.   About 7 years into the life, the refrigerator had a problem, but we kept moving it with us.  When we got to Southern California, my Dad asked, “Hey, why aren’t you using this refrigerator?” 

I told him that the fan was down, and I never got to using it.  It turns out that the fan that the refrigerator used was very special, but Dad figured out how to find a generic part.  “The top and bottom are not going to be separate for the fan control, but this is how many refrigerators work.  For $30 bucks, we can fix it.”

The fan could not be found local, but Dad called around and a trip to the inland empire, around Corona, found us our part.  We were using this refrigerator in the laundry room to store extra stuff.  My Dad has been gone for many years, but his refrigerator was going to be our main stay because the central one was so big that the contractor didn’t think he could pull it out without destroying some tile in the hallway.

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So, they taped up our kitchen, and we have created a makeshift way of cooking and living.  the laundry room has a laundry sink.  This was become where we wash our dishes. I had a hot plate that I would use to heat up wax to clean my bike chains back when I was riding a lot.  My wife found it in the garage and set it up in the butler’s pantry.  We had our frig.

Other than my wife telling me that the hot plate is way slower than her gas stove, we have been making it work. 

So why did this happen?

For those of a religious bent, I am saying that it is divine providence.  The previous kitchen was really, really nice.  My wife had no desire to change it.  But it was 16 years old.  We are just getting ready to sell our house.  One of the most important rooms in the house is the kitchen.  It turns out that we can do a complete revamping of the kitchen.  I’m thinking that this will be important for the new people coming in.  Although it could cost us $5,000 to fix, we might find out that we get much more out of the house than what we put in.

Noah was delivered safe through his flood by the Lord God Almighty.

I believe that the Lord will deliver us from our flood in the same way.

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Here I am with the younger generation, standing on the edge of a small lake in the city of Alpine, CA after the memorial for my mother-in-law Mary Lou.  The other kids also showed up, and we had a delightful time listening to some of the remembrance of my wife’s mother.  It was a bit emotional, but I thought it was well done, and when I leave this earth, I hope that we can have something similar for those that might want to get together to say goodbye to my wife or myself.

I had not wanted my children at the funeral of my Dad or my Mom.  My Dad never had a problem with this.  He told me of a story where his parents made him go to his Grandfather’s funeral as a young boy, and be had nightmares for months afterwards.  In my mind, I wanted my very young children to remember their Grandparents as what they saw them last.  Alive and caring and in good health.  I did not want them to remember them in a casket or in a graveyard.  And I was not going to split my kids up, and have only the older attend.  It was one family or none.

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If you knew my wife, you would find one of the most interesting and eccentric characters that I have ever known.  I find her intrinsically fascinating because she is like nobody else on this earth, and her humor, strange behavior, and wonderful characteristics make her a fun person to be with.  In some ways, it’s like having a variety show going on in my life.

However, for my Mother-in-law, the youngest child was now 14, and the service was not a funeral but a memorial.  While my oldest child cried the most, generally the memorial was kind and thoughtful.  It was the type of thing that recalled the good of the person that we knew.

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Although it was a two hour drive from Biola to the memorial for my two oldest, they carpooled together and made it to the lodge before I got the younger generation there.  My wife had been staying at her sisters with our good friend Alice, who flew down from Seattle to help with the arrangements.  So, we were all gathered together to think about my mother-in-law, who is survived by her husband of 66 years.

Ecclesiastes 7:2 says:

It is better to go to a house of mourning Than to go to a house of feasting, Because that is the end of every man, And the living takes it to heart.

For me taking it to heart means that I think about how we influence each other.

The person that my wife is, was drawn from the genetic code that her parents were.  My mother-in-law contributed several traits to my wife that I see in her life.  Mary Lou was a constant source of energy.  There is something about a woman that clearly loves her family, and is constantly working to take care of them.  She had a lot of hardships in her life, including constant pain due to a back injury, and cancer which took her breast, but I can’t remember a time when I saw her moping around and complaining about anything.

This unending sense of optimism and energy was clearly an inspiration for my wife.  I truly don’t know where this comes from as I see my wife as constantly driven beyond what I think I could do.  In some way, when I get going I can get more done.  However, she gets out of bed at 120 MPH in the morning, and is a whirlwind of activity.  This is my mother-in-law, who was known not to sleep a lot (maybe due to some of the pain she had), and clean the house in the middle of the night.

In the courtship of  my wife, we met and spent time together at a running camp at a facility that Seattle Pacific University owned on Whidbey Island.  This place was called “Camp Casey” after the facility there that housed soldiers during WW II.  Our oldest daughter has the nickname of Casey because of our Love that started at this namesake.

I had just gotten into triathlons with the goal of Mercer Island Tri, and my wife to be was biking into Camp Casey with her coach from her track team.  They had been out biking hard because she also was planning to do the triathlon on Mercer Island.  The camp had been abuzz because the rumor is that “Lauri ate a pizza.”  I was like, “Yeah, so what, people eat pizzas.”  But the answer back was that “Lauri would never eat a pizza, but she ate one.  She must have REALLY been hungry, we can’t believe it.”

I remember biking and running with my wife at Camp Casey.  I remember we once went biking, and it became obvious that we were not going to make it home for dinner, and she said it was okay because she had food in her dorm room.  When we got back is was some apples, bananas and a loaf of whole wheat bread.  To my wife, this was the type of food that was good for you.

Meanwhile, while my wife was friendly, she was not very talkative.  She was pretty quiet and nice, but not a lot of conversation.  I tried to pry some stuff out of her, but generally she didn’t offer a lot.

At the end of the camp, my wife said that she needed to go home, and I volunteered to drive her back from the ferry to her house in North Seattle at the end of Lake Washington in my blue pick-up truck, with three on the tree.  We rolled toward her house, which is in the picture below, close to the edge of Lake Washington.

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I don’t know what I was expecting, but I did expect somebody like my wife to come out of the door of the house when we rolled up.  However, what I got was nothing like my wife at all.  My wife was serious and quiet, and didn’t say much in my pick-up on the way to her house.  As we rolled into the driveway, Mary Lou came out.  In my minds eye, she was running, but I know it was just much more of an energetic bounce.  Mary Lou started chatting immediately.  After 30 years, I can’t remember what she talked about, but know she wanted to know what was happening at Camp Casey, how Lauri’s bike ride was, how our college coach was doing, and many other things.

The law of contrast was so high that this encounter sticks out in my mind.  And my wife, who would have never worn a track suit in her life unless she was at a track meet was in stark contrast to her mother who came bouncing out of the house in her velour track suit.  With her blue eye shadow, she was very much the woman of the 80s.

For all the quietness of my wife, Mary Lou was a chatterer.  However, nothing in a bad way. It was all good and approachable.  If you had nothing to say, she would say something.  If you had something to say, she would listen carefully and say, “Yeah, yeah.”

I wish I had a good recording of this because it is something that was most distinctive about her. The words “yeah” was said with just the right amount of empathy and agreement.  My wife has had a very distinct difference from her mother, but a couple of things have emerged later in my wife’s life.  First off, she has picked up her Mother’s characteristic of chattering.  This is not bad chatter, but it is wonderful chatter.  This is the type of talk that allows you to know exactly where you stand with somebody and that they aren’t hiding anything back.  There is no gossip in it, but simply a catching up on what is happening.

The second thing she does is say the “Yeah, yeah,” and I can see my mother-in-law saying the same words in the same way.

My wife has changed dramatically since I first met her, and she has the same amount of chatter in her life.  I often call her on the way home, and she chatters about the day, what she did, and how the kids are doing.  It is wonderful and transparent, and this is something that was a gift from her mother to me.

I think that Mary Lou took a liking to me pretty quickly.  We had college cross-country meets, and if they were close enough to Seattle, Mary Lou would come to watch her daughter run.  She would hang out by me and tell me stuff about my future wife.  I remember one time I was remarking that my wife was very quiet.

“Oh, she’s not like that around her family,” Mary Lou remarked.  “As a matter of fact, she get quite pumped up for her meets and I’m surprised at what she does.”  I inquired what in the world that meant, and Mary Lou told me the following:  “We were going to a track meet, and Lauri was a bit nervous, and talking a lot.  We got to a stop sign, and there was a woman walking her dog down the street.  Lauri open up the door, leaned out of the car looking back at the woman, and yelled, ‘I’m ready to run!’”  She started to laugh and say, “How that for Miss Quiet.”

As I got to know her daughter, I would spend weekends at the house sleeping over.  Mary Lou would always be in the kitchen and ready to talk.  I found out that she and her husband were not good disciplinarians, but they were loving.  For my wife, who needed no more pressure to do what was right, this was the perfect environment.  I enjoyed talking to her, and she would tell me stories about my future wife even though my wife would not tell me the stories herself.

However, once her Mom would start, this would unplug my wife so she would open up also.  It wasn’t long until my wife and I were always hanging out together, and I guess that my wife showed her respect to me because she was constantly referring about something that I said.  My future mother-in-law thought this was hysterical and would tell me that my name was often used in their house as the authoritative source of many things.  I guess she saw that her daughter and I were meant for each other.

Mary Lou accepted Jesus Christ later in her life, and because she decided to do this, it influenced the rest of her family.  The Bible makes a commandment that believing wives are not to leave their husbands, but win them over by simply showing the life of a true Christian.  Mary Lou followed this to a T.  She was constantly praying and hoping for the men in her life to accept Christ Jesus.  My wife was the first that did follow early in her life, but her husband would not listen for many, many years.

However, after many years of waiting, longer than I could have held out, her husband did accept Jesus.  This was her biggest accomplishment because without his wife being the best example for decades, he would have never accepted him.  Some people win over more people, but the people have less resistance.  She might have won less people to the Lord, but the one she did win was the one that took the longest, and was her special project.  We are all assigned to do an assignment.  She did her special assignment on this earth in a wonderful way.

imageAlthough she lived into her 80s, the disease of Alzheimer’s is what took her at an old age.  My parents owned a nursing home, and I saw many an Alzheimer’s patients.  Many of them would get angry and mean.  As Mary Lou lost her ability to talk and communicate, she still remained pleasant to be around.  I guess that Alzheimer’s shows what was truly inside, and much of what Mary Lou had was being pleasant.

For those that have faith in Jesus, you know that we have a hope.  A hope that says, “All of us have a yearning for something more.  Every yearning as a fulfillment.  And we believe that our fulfillment is heaven and a life after this life is over.”  I am looking forward to seeing my mother-in-law in the life that is after this life.

I’m sure she’ll be chattering away and inviting me to visit.

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This is my first selfie with my new iPhone.  Switching jobs often means doing a lot of stuff that you weren’t thinking about doing.

I am now on my second week at my new job.  I wasn’t sleeping all that well last week in the hotel because I was both excited and feeling bad about leaving my old job.  I am sleeping better, but I still wake up in the middle of the night thinking about things and where they will go.

In my first week, I spent three days in Cupertino.  Then I flew back to Southern California.  The main thing when joining a new company is getting use to the new systems  In my old company, we used Outlook with Outlook Exchange to do everything.  In the new company is it Google.  I think that I am going to enjoy the new company’s tools for just one reason:  the search is very, very good.  Although I love the front end on Outlook, I get frustrated that the client simply cannot do searches very well.  However, Google is the King of Search, so it should be the solution to my problems.

So, what is the plan?

The first plan is to simply integrate.  When taking a new job, there is always the chance that you will make a serious mistake.  Although one week worth of work isn’t a lot of time, I current feel that this has not been a mistake.  In many ways it won’t be any better than my last job, but it should be a new experience, and new experiences are a joy to have.

I am trying to get myself on email.  I am trying to figure out how to book travel.  (Which blew up over the weekend because I found my Monday flight that they sent a schedule to me on, did not get booked!)  I am trying to figure out how to do expense reports.  I am trying to get my system set up.

Well some new experiences are a joy.  The new job has an interesting policy.  They reimburse for cell phone use, but they do not provide.  This is the first company that I have been at that does not provide a cell phone.  My previous cell for almost four years was an iPhone 5, and I have a bunch of apps that I like.  I did not like the expense of iPhones, so I looked on Amazon for a used iPhone, and I found one that was very reasonably priced.  The only problem is that it said "good" and something about scratches on the screen.  I figured I need to get something temporary, so I kept looking but after a while, I was just spinning my wheels.  I thought, "I just need to get something as I have too much going on to be thinking about this."  So, I ordered the used iPhone.

When it came in, it was just great.  I thought "If this is an iPhone in ‘Good’ share, what is ‘Excellent’ like?"  If it had a scratch on the screen, I could not see it.  I trimmed down an old T-Moble SIM that I had down to "nano" size, and I popped it in.  (This is required for the phone to initialize.)  Everything was great except for on thing.  The "Wake/Sleep" button did not work.  This was very disappointing.  The screen was great.  The buttons did not work.  This was hardly a good phone.

However, I googled the condition, and I found out that this was a latent defect in the iPhone five. Even better, Apple has a fix it strategy, even though the phone is manner years out of warranty.  So, I set up an appointment I gat the Apple store.  I need to just get one more thing off of my plate.

After working in San Jose for three days, I come back and I take Uber to the Apple store.  I arrive 30 minutes early, but they get to me in 40 minutes.  Make a mental note.  Better to arrive late for the Apple store Geniuses because it is better for them to wait that I.  I had already looked up my phone on their website, and I was expecting them to quickly resolve the issue.

However, when he checked the purchase date of the phone, it was just outside the window of returns.  Evidently, they have another condition where even if the iPhone is defective with this problem, they only will fix it for 3 years.

Dishearten, I went home and I started to look on Craigslist.  There was one guy that had a “perfect” iPhone 5s that he wanted to sell.  I made an offer for 10% less than his asking price, and he countered with 5% less.  I agreed to drive 15 miles to Chick-fil-A to meet.  I greeted him because he pulled up at the same time.  We went into to find and seat and he pulls out his phone.

It was absolutely perfect.  I found out that he was an engineer working for Southern Edison, and he had upgraded to the iPhone 6.  He had kept this phone in an otterbox with a glass cover on the screen.  You couldn’t ask for anything better.  If I had knew that it was going to be that good, I would have offered full price.

So after a lot of pain and hassle I have my phone situation fixed.

As much as I am trying to get everything in order, my wife has it worse.  In our case, our kids go to a really cool Christian School.  We are trying to get into another Christian School in the San Jose area.  Evidently, to get into the school, it is competitive.  My wife is currently scrambling to get the kids to write an essay to why they want to get in.  My youngest daughter is aggressively writing and afraid that she won’t get in.  My son is simply not motivated to try all that hard.  While he is the more easy going of the two, and he did not freak out about going to San Jose, I think he is not really happy about it.  When you are not happy about something, it is easy not to want to do a lot of work on it.

However, we will get over this barrier, and we’ll see if the good Lord allows our children to join this school.

No matter what happens, I know that the Lord has our paths plan.  Perhaps God wants my kids in this school.  Perhaps God does not want them in the school.  Regardless, we will follow the path of the Lord.