Friday, December 24, 2010

Morgan and Jensen hanging out

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Las Vegas

BBH goes to Vegas 2010.

As we grow older it seems to get more and more difficult to organize trips, yet alone trips with our friends. So, it was a pleasant surprise when we managed to get a group of 11 friends together earlier in November during Veteran's Day weekend for a trip to Las Vegas. I've only been to Vegas once before, but I really enjoy the uniqueness of the place. Here's a few highlights of the trip. And yes we may have consumed a few adult beverages during the trip as some of these photos indicate.

To start the trip off right a few of the group gathered at our house for a little breakfast before our 10 am flight to Vegas.
There may have been a little something special about our OJ on this particular morning.

Since we had such a large group, we opted to rent a limo from the airport to the hotel. For this size of a group it didn't cost that much more than a shuttle. And even better was the fact that the limo driver was kind enough to take us by In and Out Burger to grab some lunch. So, we ended up eating burgers and fries with champagne in the limo. To be honest, champagne doesn't pair very well with burgers and fries.

After checking in at the New York, New York hotel we found some time to check out the city. The weather was great. Sunny and upper 60's.

One of my favorite parts of Vegas is that you can walk around the entire city with a drink in your hand. A constant reminder that you're on vacation.

Something about Vegas just makes you smile.

All you can eat crab legs!

We stopped by Ellis Island Brewery and Casino and enjoyed the $7.99 steak special which includes steak, potato, salad, side, and a 2o oz beer. A solid deal. And the steak was actually pretty good.

I'm not sure who does these ranking or how many breweries are in Nevada, but I have to say the beer was pretty good.

Now that I work in the beer industry, I'm required to do research on new breweries.

We also spent some time by the pool in the sun...and yes we are from Seattle.

The rest of trip involved eating a lot, dancing, a little gambling and just hanging out and checking out the sights with good friends. I won't bore you with the many blurry photos we have of all that. But, it was so much fun to be able to get a group of friends together for a weekend. As life speeds up, we all realize that the opportunity to do these types of things will become less and less.

Last photo before heading to the airport to go home.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Latest Morgan photos

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Well, since we felt like our lives were not busy enough with our standard day to day home, job, and social responsibilities and activities we decided to get a dog. So, last week we brought home a Brittany puppy. And we named her Morgan after the British car company...why after a British car company? Because Tonja wouldn't let me name her after a beer. You pick your battles. But, anyway we brought home Morgan and because we're glutants for punishment we also brought home her brother...Jensen. Yes, as in that other British car company. But, Jensen is actually my parent's new puppy. But, since they live in Spokane, we also had to take care of both of the puppies until last weekend when my parent's could make it over to pick up their new puppy.

Meet Morgan...

And Morgan's brother...Jensen

Anyway, every one know's how much work a puppy is. But, for three days we got to find out how much work two puppies are. Baptism by fire. But, other than the lack of sleep and constantly taking them outside to pee it wasn't too bad and we survived and even kind of got used to having two around. So, it was kind of sad to separate the two of them.

On the bright side, once Jensen went home with my parent's, taking care of one puppy felt darn right manageable...for a while at least. How about a few more puppy photos...because that's what people do...they take pictures of puppies and put them on the interwebs.

She's so cute. And then she wakes up.

She's grumpy after naps...Morgan...not Tonja.

Her first kill.

I think the biggest victim of all of this, might be my parent's other dog Samantha. So much for those quiet golden years for her. She gets to get chewed on by Jensen.

Anyways, I'm sure the adventures of Morgan will make for some interesting blog posts from time to time...which is probably good as I'm sure people are getting tired of hearing about me drinking beer or watching football...or drinking beer and carving pumpkins...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

565 Days

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today...

A Long Cold Trip.
I still can't really wrap my head around it. I still haven't figured out all the lessons from it. At times it felt like a long vacation, but more often than not, it felt like I was stuck in the movie Ground Hog Day. The same day over and over. At the start it was kind of liberating. It allowed me to experience life a little bit differently without the 9 to 5 grind. But it got old quickly and reality soon set in. And towards the end, it was suffocating. It was a long cold 565 days.

What The Hell Am I Talking About?
I'm talking about 565 days of unemployment. From January 15, 2009 through August 3, 2010, I was one of the roughly 9.6 percent or 14.6 million Americans out of work. (Although, I did do some part time work during that time frame) And for a big chunk of that, I was considered long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more). A term I could have never imagined would be used to describe me at any point in my career. I cringed every time I heard the term. I thought a college degree would insulate me from such difficulties. I thought seven years of work experience would count for something. And in the end it did, but it took 565 days of patience and persistence to rescue a job and in some ways parts of myself.

The Start of the End.
To be honest, as I sat in my former Silicon Valley office with my boss back in January of 2010 and he told me that I was being laid off, I was kind of relieved. I had known since October of 2009, when I started reading about things like the Sequoia Powerpoint Presentation of Doom, that the startup company I was working for was in trouble. Cut costs, and raise capital, became the mantra. My projects weren't making any money for the company, so I knew I'd eventually become one of the cuts. And after another two months of uncertainty, the ax finally fell on me and the people I worked closest with that January.

Mentally, I was prepared for some time off. But, little did I know how much time off I had just received.

A Reason?
I immediately took on the belief that I was being put into this position for some type of reason. And the reason’s, some bad and some good, quickly presented themselves. Because of being laid off, I was immediately able to take an important trip that otherwise would not have been possible. Sadly, My grandmother in England passed away about the same time I was laid off. Due to a lot of different circumstances, none of our family was going to be able to travel the great distances to Oxford, England to attend her service. But, within a week of being laid off and knowing that I had a clear schedule, I booked a flight to England to be there. It was an amazingly powerful trip, that found me back in England for the first time since the age of 7. And it allowed me to understand so much about my family, myself and my past. But, it also left me realizing (as cliché as it sounds) that no matter what happens in life you have to live everyday. It’s a trip I'll remember for the rest of my life. It's a trip that shaped my entire viewpoint of how I would deal with long term unemployment. If I'd been working, that trip wouldn't have been possible for me. So, I'll take that as a sign from some place. (At some point, I'm going to put that trip into writing.)

Upon my return from England, I began what would become a very long job search. I threw myself into networking and creating a million different versions of my resume. I was confident in myself and abilities, even as the stock market tumbled and terms like the “great recession” found there way into the popular consciousness.

Although, I was looking hard for a job, I was also being sure to take advantage of this time off by spending a day or two per week exploring. After all, I was living in the Bay Area, which to me remains one of the most beautiful and diverse areas I’ve every experienced. As a bonus, the sunny weather of Feb and March prevented me from getting too down about my predicament.

Continuing with my philosophy of not wanting to waste the opportunity of this time off, In March of 2009, I drove from San Jose to Peoria, AZ to spend a couple of days at Seattle Mariners spring training. Normally, I'd never of had this opportunity to take the time to do this. But, it turned out to be a great adventure that I have fond memories of.

May of 2009 was a tough month, as Tonja lost her grandmother. But, once again, my open schedule allowed me to spend a lot of time in Spokane trying to help out anyway that I could.

By the end of May of 2009, I'd had a few leads for jobs in the Bay Area, but nothing worked out. And at this point I had a vague idea that we might be moving back to Seattle later that year. So, as a result my job search began to shift to looking for Seattle jobs. But, with the bad economy, it was pretty difficult to get people to take a look at your resume if you had an out of town address. So although I continued to look for opportunities, in the back of mind, I figured I'd have better luck once we actually returned to Seattle.

And finally in August of 2009, we got back to Seattle. I was optimistic that I could quickly reconnect with old business contacts and find some strong job leads. Little did I know I was in for almost another full year of disappointment.

Worse before Better.
The bleakness of the job market in Seattle last fall and winter was a bit of a wake up call for me. Old contacts were glad to hear from me, but many of them were facing their own career uncertainty. As a result, job leads were sparse.

In addition, I continued to struggle with defining exactly what it was that I'd done in my career and how it would translate into a new position. I'd enjoyed the sports industry, but felt I'd done as much as I could do in that area of event entertainment. My experience with online marketing was great, but a little too brief for me to be considered for a similar role.

I'd go to networking meetings and introduce myself and people would give me a puzzled look when I explained my career experience. Most failed to see how I was going to translate my experience entertaining crowds of 8,000 people or creating online contests into a new job for a traditional company. Hell, I failed to see how my experiences transferred as well.

A Fear of Risk or Sour Grapes?
The reality became that I wasn't going to be able to find a traditional marketing role. Which to be honest really pissed me off.

I looked at and applied to countless marketing and event companies that touted their ability to think outside the box and push the envelope with their marketing and event planning. This seemed like a great fit for my skills. How much more outside the box can my experience be? How many people have managed a 7' tall bear on ice skates and repelled him from 60 feet in the air with fireworks attached to his arms? How many people created and executed brand building contests that pitted people riding an exercise bike in an YMCA in Buffalo, NY with someone in a health club in San Diego. Yet, when it came down to it. Rather than take a risk in this economy with someone who might bring some new ideas or processes to their team, They hired the same "agency experienced" people who bounce around from one agency to another. In the process they recycle the same ideas over and over without looking outside their industry.

I’ll digress here for a minute, but in my view, this recession has been a determinate to "creative" companies and the hiring of people with new ideas. Which I'd imagine will have some impact on their ability to innovate. In my opinion, the recession has caused companies to not have to compromise on any of the experiences that they are looking for in new employees. Companies have no reason to hire from outside their industry because they've got 20 applicants who match their job description to a T from within their same industry. As a result they're bringing in people with the exact same industry ideas. While in a good economy, with fewer applicants a company might be more likely to hire across industries, resulting in a new person bringing in new ideas and perspectives from their previous industry. From my experience working in a somewhat "creative" industry, the failure to bring in new ideas will hurt a company. End rant. And maybe this is just sour grapes on my part.

Dazed to Enthused.
During the first part of this year, I found myself as a finalist for a few positions, but eventually lost out to other candidates who’s experience “more closely matched” the job description. It left me lost. My professional background didn’t match any job description. And if that was all people were looking for I was screwed.

During March and April, I really had no idea what I was going to do. But, I pushed it all aside to focus on our wedding. But, when the the rush and excitement of the wedding cleared, I still had no ideas. I started to grasp at straws, by looking for jobs back in the sports industry, which best matched my experience. But, they were far and few between. I really was lost. I truly began to believe that I would never find another job in my career field.

And then one day or night it hit me. Beer.

I don’t know if I’d been drinking a beer when I came to this decision, but at some point I came to the conclusion that my event and marketing skills would really fit well in the beer industry. And in Seattle, beer was doing pretty well even during this recession. When I shared this epiphany with others, they didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm. I’ll admit after being out of work for over a year, looking for a job in the beer industry probably made me look desperate. But, hell I was desperate. In another few weeks, I’d consider myself lucky if I was serving beer.

But, I knew it was the right move, because for the first time during my entire job search, I got excited about the idea. So, I went about networking and contacting as many people in the industry as I could find. And at some point my enthusiasm paid off. And after a few more long weeks of networking, I quite literally stumbled across a job opportunity that was a perfect fit for my experience and my joy and knowledge of beer. After making it through three more rounds of interviews I had finally rescued a job. And not just a job, but a job in the beer industry. A job that I was genuinely excited about. A job that would tap (pun intended) into my experiences, but also allow me to expand my event and industry knowledge. I really couldn’t believe it…and still can’t.

I started my job in early August. And I really feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world right now. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found a job at all, let alone a job that I’m so excited about. So, in the end it was all worth it.

What Does it Mean?
So after 565 days…I’m asking the same questions as the Double Rainbow Guy. What does it mean?

I really don’t know what it means but I’ve learned some things. To be clear, I know there are a lot of people who face far greater challenges everyday of their lives. So, as much as this was a challenge for me, I realize that on the grand scheme of things, it’s not that significant. But, I think the personal lessons learned are significant.

In addition to the things I’ve mentioned. I’ve learned to be more appreciative of each day. And the opportunities that come with each day.

And I’m not just thankful for finding a job, but thankful that I had the luxury of time. I know there are a lot of people and families who are hurting during this recession who don’t have that luxury. Despite the length of my unemployment, through a combination of preparedness, time of life luck, and frugality (3 cheers for my Honda), the financial threats were minimal. I can’t imagine trying to of gotten through this while trying to support a family or pay a mortgage. So, as much as I might have gotten down about my situation, I knew it could be much worse. It's left me wanting to try and help in some way, just not sure how yet.

Thanks to my family for their support. I think the stress wore on my mom as much as it did on me. And thanks to my friends for not treating me different through all of this, even though at times I felt a little disconnected.

And of course thank you to Tonja, for not kicking me to the street corner. ☺ We went through a lot during this period of time, including planning our wedding and getting married. My biggest regret is that we had the stress of my unemployment lagging on us during the otherwise exciting and happy time of our engagement and wedding. But, throughout my job search, Tonja was patient with me, even if there were times she was confused about my methods. (To be fair, I was confused about my methods at times.) And we’ll probably face much greater challenges during our life together, but I’m proud that we handled this one positively.

And I think that’s the number one take away from all of this. As cliché as it sounds, you’ve got to stay positive. There will be good days and bad days, but everyday is important, because we’ve only got a finite number of them. The bad days make the good days that much sweeter. And the prospect of good days make the bad days bearable. But, they all make up life. And life is pretty good.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Summer Time=Busy

I haven't given up on this whole blogging thing, we've just been busy with a whole lot of summer time activities. In fact, I just got back from a BBH weekend of boating in the Tri-cities. Although, I'm not sure I'm allowed to blog about that.

Anyway, I've actually been writing quite a bit, as I'm working on a rather long entry that is a reflective post on my job rescue and how long term unemployment shifted my perspective on some things. That might sound like a dry blog entry, but I think it is making good therapy for me to write it (even if it sucks to read.) Regardless, it's not quite ready for posting. So, to at least keep this site some what updated... here are a few pictures (and commentary) from our Camping/Hiking trip out to Lake Chelan from last week.

The trail head for our Pot Peak Trail hike. For the record, I didn't see any pot, but I did chew on some grass.

The hike took us through some hilly terrain. And parts of the trail had been hit by a wildfire in years past. It was pretty interesting to see how the forest begins to recover after a wildfire like that. And you can see that some of the switchbacks of the trail were reinforced with brick, for mountain bikers and dirt bike riders. Although, there was really no one else on the trail.

er...a purple flower. What does it mean?

This is me attempting to make coffee without a coffee maker. Our camping french press broke a while back. So, I poked a hole in the bottom of a paper cup and stuck a filter in it. Put some ground coffee in the cup and poured hot water into it. The coffee dripped out into the pot. I can't say it was the best coffee I'd ever had, but we were camping and it did the job.
Making coffee without a coffee pot attempt 2.0. I got tired of holding the cup and came up with this. And no this isn't likely to be BPA free. This is likely why I didn't become an engineer. However, I wasn't that far off the mark.

Anyway, it was a fun camping trip that allowed us to catch some sun away from these darn Seattle clouds. I'll get back to posting more often soon.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Smart Phone. End of Civilization?

I was overdue for a new phone, so I finally decided to jump (somewhat reluctantly) on the "smart" phone bandwagon. I've been a Verizon customer for a long time and have always been happy with their service. So, I decided to stay with them and ordered the new Motorola Droid X. After a wait of about a week, It arrived two days ago and I've spent more time than I should getting it set up and figuring out the bazillion different features. Having never used a phone like this, my head was spinning for the first day or so. It did not make me feel smart.

Two days later, I've gotten used to it. In addition to allowing me to have email and internet on the run, I also bought a car mounting kit, so I can use it as a GPS. It has been about a year since my old GPS quit working, so it is good to have back. The phone also has an 8 megapixel camera and can record HD video, which might come in handy for blogging.

Okay, this is not my phone. But, it's not that far off.
Welcome to the future-for better or worse.

My reluctance to getting a "smart" phone, stems from my fear of becoming too reliant on technology. This is an age old fear that I'm sure many share. And perhaps its a fear that has been beaten to death in literature and Hollywood. But, I really do think it's a valid concern. At what point is all this access to information 24 hours a day, too much. At what point does technology override our natural life? At what point do we become disengaged from the world around us in order to be plugged into a cyber one? (is it me or does the word "cyber" sound dated?) As I already feel that I spend too much time "plugged in", what impact will this phone have? How do we strike a balance? How do we teach the next generation to strike a balance? Whoaa, this is heavy! Okay, I'll lighten up.

I guess only time will tell. And I guess these concerns don't (yet) outweigh the convenience factor of having this phone. So for now, I'm "buying" in.

Image of my phone. If I was really good, I'd of blogged this post from my phone.
But, I'm not ready for that, yet.

So there, I'm glad I got the phone, but it's kind of weird that every time I use it, I feel like I'm using something out of Star Trek. It's kind of like a Data Padd and Communicator rolled into one. That probably makes me a nerd, just for thinking that, but I can't help it. And for good measure I think I'm going to start referring to my phone as the HAL 9000. We'll see how long this is funny for.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Update of Randomness

In no particular order, here's an update of juicy randomness about what we've been up to over the last few weeks since my last post. If you care, read on. If that "Next Blog" button at the top of the page.

Greenwood Car Show
We checked out the Greenwood car show, which is held just up the hill from our house. With almost a thousand cars on display, you can pretty much find every classic car you can imagine. Plus a lot of other random gasoline powered creations. And inevitable a few "green" vehicles have started to creep in, too. The picture is not one of "green" ones. Which is fine by me.

German head hurts just thinking about it.
Drank too much German beer a couple weeks back. I'm not sure if its the fact that the German's drink their beer in liter glasses or my English heritage, but nothing good ever happens after drinking German beer.

Tour de Bike Shops
A couple of weeks back we and our friends (Kevin & Joe) rode our bikes up to Redhook Brewery in Woodinville to have lunch and then rode home again. It ended up being about a 30 mile bike ride. It was a fun trip, but it also turned out to be costly tour of bike repair shops. Ten minutes into the ride, I blew out the inner-tube in my rear tire and had to stop at a near by bike shop to get a new one. And then 10 miles into the ride both my rear inner-tube and tire blew out. Fortunately, once again, there was a bike shop right by the trail. And since these things always happen in threes, on the ride home we had to stop again at a bike shop in order for Joe to fix his malfunctioning bike shoe. Good times. As much as I enjoy cycling, running is cheaper.

4th of July.
Had some friends over for a nice 4th of July BBQ, even though the weather sucked, 60's and rain.

After our BBQ, we headed to Gas Works park to watch the Seattle fireworks display. Yes, this picture really is July in Seattle. But, the fireworks display was one of the best I've seen.
It promptly turned sunny and reached 85 degrees on the following Tuesday when everyone returned to work. Pacific NW. Gotta love it.

Shot Some Hoops...Badly.
Tonja and I went and shot some hoops at one of the local schools by our house. It was the first time I've picked up a basketball in about 5 years. It was ugly, but fun. Tonja's got some skills. I think she might of missed her calling. The court we played on, was one that the Sonics had refurbished a number of years ago when they still existed. I thought the fading logo was a poignant reminder of the fading legacy of the Sonics in Seattle. (That's my one semi-insightful thought for this entry.)

Z is for Zombies
And Finally...this photo doesn't really do it justice, but we went down to Fremont and watched a bunch of people dressed up like zombies set the Guiness Book of World Record(s) for the most people dressed up like zombies. You might not understand ( I don't really understand), it's a zombie thing. And yes, if you look closely there is a zombie Jesus amongst the crowd. I think that's ironic or something.

So, that's a very brief and very random recap of the last couple of weeks. We've actually done a lot more than this, but I don't have pictures of it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

World Cup...that was fun while it lasted.

Well, I got my wish and both the US and England advanced out of group C to make it into the final 16 of the World Cup tournament. And of course, both the US and England promptly lost and were eliminated from the tournament over the weekend. Bummer, as I had hoped that at least one of them would get on a role and make a run. Oh well, it's only another four years to wait.

Regardless, I must say there is really no other sporting event quite like the World Cup. And here in Seattle people have really gotten into it. We watched last Wednesday's US vs Algeria game at a local bar called Spitfire. It's a large sports bar with 20+ flat screens. 7:00 in the morning and the bar was packed. Standing room only. Fortunately, I'd arrived at 6 and snagged a table.

Throughout the game, the tension in the bar was pretty unbearable. And I'll never forget the chaos that happened in that bar when Landon Donovan scored his goal in the 91st minute to beat Algeria and save the US from elimination. Grown men and women screaming, cheering and jumping up and down like kids. Perfect strangers high fiving. People falling out of chairs and spilling coffee on themselves, but not caring. I wish I'd had a camera, because it was a sight to see. I guess soccer can bring people together. Just think what might happen if the US ever makes a World Cup final game. Seattle might explode.

On Saturday, I wasn't feeling like fighting the crowds at another bar, so we opted to watch the US vs Ghana game at home. But for some reason, I got the idea in my head to move our TV out on the back deck and BBQ. I'm not really sure why. But, it actually worked out well. It was kind of like a personal beer garden. And as another plus, I could tend the BBQ without missing any of the game. Anyway, that's the story behind these pictures.

I used my bar to protect the TV from the sun and cut down the glare on the screen. And yes that is a trumpet case the TV is sitting on. Tacky? Maybe. Did it work? Yes.

Sometimes you just gotta bring the indoors to the outdoors. Damn the consequences and odd looks from the neighbors.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Tonja!

Happy Birthday Tonja! Thank you for bringing so much joy and happiness to this adventure we call life! And Thank you for...

Being goofy with me.

Inspiring me to stay young at heart.

Enjoying beer (and wine) with me.

Sharing your wisdom with me.

Enjoying sports with me.

Sharing your dancing skills with everyone.

Enjoying the great outdoors with me.

Just generally enjoying life with me.

And finally, for putting up with me, even when I'm acting old and cranky. Happy Birthday, Love ya!

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