I love to work at nothing all day

Yesterday was my last day at Critical Path Software. After a torturous month of soul-searching, I met with my managers and they decided that I can no longer continue with CPS. After 8 years of loyal service, I received a paycheck for January and $1300 for severance. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that I will be starting a new job on Monday, January 28, with Electronics for Imaging, the company that bought Splash back in 2000. They offer a much better compensation and benefit package than Critical Path does and the hours are much more regular. As I settle into middle age, I really think this is going to be the kind of job I need.

I’m still mulling over whether I should write about the whole CPS saga but you can probably tell it did not end amicably. It’s a shame, too. For a long time I really loved working there.

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 1841
Weight lost: 40 lbs.
South Beach days in the last week: 4
Hours of sleep last night: 6
Hours billed last week: 40
Aches & pains: right wrist, lower back
Current reading:: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, Writing Solid Code by Steve Maguire
Recent listening: News from Lake Wobegon, This American Life, KBOO Bike Show, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Fresh Air
Recent viewing: Monk, Dead Zone, Countdown, Sky High, Dead Zone, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report
Recent playing: Gimme Friction Baby, Guitar Hero II (XBox 360)
Recently accomplished: mowed lawn, cleaned cat boxes, swept garage, can recycling, trimmed hydrangia, pulled blackberries, foam recycling, Salvation Army, magazine recycling, can return, groceries, salary presentation, doctor appointment, CPAP appointment
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, sift through inbox, post office, finish garage, freecycle gorilla shelf parts

We can laugh our lives away and be free once more

Recent events in the Portland Ring household:

  • As mentioned earlier, our cat Nietzsche had to be put down on Saturday. Possibly more on that later.
  • Tina saw her doctor on Monday and was disappointed to find that her foot fractures have not healed. I’m renewing my efforts to keep her off her feet. She will continue to wear “the boot” until she is healed.
  • Tina’s dad, Leroy, arrived yesterday. He’ll be with us for a week. Tina’s cousin Natians (Buddy’s step-daughter) will be in town for 10 days starting on Saturday.
  • Last night we took Leroy to his first zoo concert. The Charlie Hunter Trio played an incredible show. Hunter is a unique guitarists who simultaneously plays lead and bass guitar parts on his 7-string guitar. Unfortunately, after they returned from their mid-show break, the set became more solo jazz oriented so we left early.
  • Because Natians and Leroy are in town we’ve got a busy week ahead of us: a long weekend at the coast, another zoo concert (featuring the beautiful voice of Richie Furay), Body Worlds 2 at OMSI and the annual CPS golf tournament and company picnic.
  • I’m finishing up a big project at work and will soon be transitioning to a new project. When my product ships, I’ll have a link to the announcement here.

Providence Bridge Pedal 2007

Thomas and I rode the 6-bridge version of the Providence Bridge Pedal yesterday. I’ll post photos later but we had a great time. Although we had to walk our bikes for long stretches at the beginning, tearing down the Fremont and Marquam bridges (I-405 and I-5, respectively) at full speed made it all worth it. Thomas had a minor crash towards the end, but he was a trooper throughout even when his legs got tired going up the final bridge. Tina and Graham joined us downtown for a late lunch at Macaroni Grill and we adjourned to CPS for several hours of Guitar Hero II before limping home on tired legs. I was glad it was all downhill going home.

Distance: 20.4 miles
Riding time: 3 hours, 5 minutes
Max speed: 26.8 mph
Average speed: 6.5 mph
Temperature: 75º (approximate)

  • 162nd to Burnside
  • MAX to NE 7th Ave
  • NE 7th to NE Lloyd Blvd.
  • Lloyd to Waterfront Bike Path
  • Crossed the Steel Bridge
  • Waterfront Park to starting line
  • Hawthorne Bridge
  • Ross Island Bridge
  • Marquam Bridge
  • Burnside Bridge
  • Broadway Bridge
  • Fremont Bridge
  • SW Oak to Broadway
  • Broadway to CPS
  • MAX to NE 148th Ave
  • 148th to NE Halsey
  • Halsey to 162nd
  • 162nd to home

Only love can conquer hate

It’s turned into a whirlwind summer and I have had little time to reflect or report on it here, but here are the highlights so far:

  • CPS moved across the street and I’ve been slowly adjusting to the new space. We now have showers so I smell better during the workday. Unfortunately, I no longer have a window office. My new project is very interesting but quite hectic and time consuming. Hopefully, it will slack off by August.
  • I got new glasses for the first time in several years. I let them talk me into a pair with magnetically attachable sunglasses. New lenses (without scratches) are always so nice.
  • The NBA Playoffs started off with promise and ended in disappointment. Ho-hum, Spurs win again. I didn’t even watch the last three games on my Tivo after I got back from WWDC.
  • I was in San Francisco for a week at Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference learning about all the new technology they are introducing in the next version of Mac OS X plus checking what to do in San Francisco.
  • I also get a chance to meet up with my old friend, Rob, in San Francisco for dinner one night. As usual, it was awesome to see him again. Although we communicate several times a week electronically, there is no substitute for face-to-face.
  • I missed most of Portland’s annual bike celebration, Pedalpalooza, but did get back in time to attend the Multnomah County Bike Fair with Tina and the boys.
  • The Oregon Zoo kicked off their annual series of summer concerts this year with The Wailers. They started out with three or four obscure songs (which is great) but then finished in greatest hits mode (which is still good). Their new singer, The Young Lion, sounds very much like Bob Marley and quickly won over the receptive crowd. It was very near to a spiritual experience for Tina, who has been a Bob Marley fan since high school.
  • You may have noticed something called the iPhone in the news. In my position, I was witness to about 20 times the hype that you saw. Three of my collegues purchased one the day it came out and Thomas desperately wants one. I have played around with a couple and they are really quite incredible. I can’t currently justify the $60/month cost for service, but I may later.
  • The Trailblazers drafted Greg Oden, as expected, and I was present when he was introduced to the city at Pioneer Courthouse Square a few days later. People are very excited that the “Jailblazer” era appears to be over. I wanted to hold up a sign that said “Welcome to Portland, Sam Bowie” but several people (including Tina) advised against it.
  • On Independence Day we escaped the heat by seeing the latest Pixar movie, Ratatouie, at Cinetopia. Wow. I know I said this about Cars last year, but this is the best Pixar movie yet.
  • Rather than buy our own fireworks as we have in the last few years, I decided that the kids should go to a real fireworks show this year. Graham probably doesn’t remember ever going to a big fireworks display so that alone justified it, I think. We skipped the Waterfront and Fort Vancouver shows in favor of the Blue Lake show which is much closer to our house. It took a long time to get out of the park when it was all over but I think Graham really liked it.
  • We did buy a few smaller fireworks in Oregon this year and lit them Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Oregon has stricter laws than Washington governing fireworks which led me to cross the border for the more exciting stuff in the past. None of that this year, though. Street cleanup was very easy outside our house this year.
  • This weekend Tina and Graham are camping at Cub World with his Cub Scout den. Thomas and I will be dropping in tomorrow night for dinner and maybe again Sunday morning.
  • Thomas biked the entire way to work with me this morning (around 11 miles) and seemed a bit surprised this evening as we pulled into the Max station with our bikes. “We’re taking the Max?” I think he was disappointed we weren’t biking the whole way home again. He spent most of the day in the Rec Room at work playing new games on the Wii while I worked.

Our calendar will be equally full for the rest of the summer, too:

  • Thomas leaves for a week at Boy Scout camp starting next Sunday.
  • More zoo concerts: Asleep at the Wheel, Los Lobos, Richie Furay, Charlie Hunter and The Holmes Brothers.
  • A week-long trip to Iowa for a family reunion culminating in the annual Ring summer campout in Waterville, MN.
  • Tina’s cousin Natians visiting for nearly two weeks in August. It’s her second time to Portland but we still have lots to show her including a few nights on the Oregon Coast.
  • Body Worlds has come to OMSI and we’ve already made our reservations. All the reviews for this exhibit make it sound like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I can’t wait.
  • A vast reorganization of the garage when I can fit it in.

Starlight Parade

Last night we decided to skip the fireworks because the boys were tired from Graham’s birthday celebration, but there was no way to keep them (or me) away from the Starlight Parade tonight. We arrived and got a parking spot just before they closed the streets downtown. After hiking down to Blueplate and finding it closed, we settle on pad see ew (boys) and burritos (Tina and I) for dinner, which we purchased from a couple of food carts and toted back to the office. Everyone wolfed down their dinner and the boys and I adjourned into the Rec Room for a little Wii action while waiting for the parade to begin.

Outside the crowd had been massing since before our arrival. Once the police shut down the parade route to traffic, the streets turn into a giant playground for kids while the parents sit on the curb and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. People began marking their spots with duct tape and chalk yesterday, but that’s nothing compared to next week’s parade for which many will “reserve” spots days in advance. The crowds spread out from the middle of the sidewalk until they reach the edges of the parking lane in the street and are pressed up against the buildings on the sidewalk. Although it looks festive, it’s too claustrophobic for me and we’re glad to have second story window seats above the fray.

The Starlight Parade is preceded by the Starlight Run which is a semi-competitive event that winds throught the parade route. Most runners dress up in costumes and the crowd cheers the best ones. Here’s a series of comments from Graham as the runners went by:

  • “tutu! jester! Fairy! Elf! Sunglasses!”
  • “Hawaiian Dude!”
  • A nurse and her patient (actually my observation)
  • “Cavemen… no togas. Supergirl. Soccer player. Some guy with colored hair right there. Who’s that?”
  • “Buzz Lightyear. Here’s Flash coming. Two Supergirls! A girl with pompoms. A hula girl. A marine. Togas! American man. American boy.”
  • “There’s jailbirds. Superman. Pacman! A leprachaun! A prom person. Chickens! A new hula girl. A green something and there’s another Wonder Woman”
  • “A viking! Or is that a devil? Banana! Hula persons! Canoing person. Cow! Another Flash.”
  • “Pirates! Somebody is moving it. I love Spiderman! So many green people!”

There was a bit of a break after the runners finished before the parade proper started but before we knew it, the firefighters arrived with their perennial feat of climbing 30 feet into the air and then jumping to the waiting rescue squad below. The crowd loves it! And not long after that, the One More Time Around Again Marching Band thundered to a halt in front of our building and played the hell out of “Louis Louis.” This is, by far, the highlight of the parade for me every year and the primary reason I come to see it. The power of the brass is overwhelming and I get chills each time. When the various high school bands march by after the OMTAAMB I can only feel sorry them. There’s simply no way to follow that act.

The streetlights are all dimmed or turned off and many of the parade participants wear flashing LEDs. Entries vary from regal to hilarious to annoying and it all will blend together eventually. I’ve retired to an office with a couch to watch the rest of it in comfort as I write these words. Eventually the PGE light bulb mascot will bring up the rear and remind everyone to pick up their garbage. Then the streets will slowly empty out and be re-opened. We’ll drive home and perhaps stop at Voodoo Donut for the boys. Life is good tonight.

Rose Festival Starts Today

Portland’s annual Rose Festival starts today and continues for the next couple of weeks. Tomorrow night there will be fireworks on the waterfront and then Saturday night the Starlight Parade will march through downtown. The following Saturday features the Grand Floral Parade but we’re going to have to miss it this year because of a Scouting event. I’ve always preferred the more informal Starlight Parade anyway. CPS HQ is located right on the parade route so we get free front row seats every year. Everyone else marks their “reservations” with duck tape on the sidewalk and lawn chairs chained to roadside signs.

Every year the big ships come in and dock for a few days while their sailors roam the streets of Portland enjoying shore leave. There is also a week long Family Fun Center with carnival rides, but we hardly ever go there.

Is that all you get for your money?

This blog and other websites on rynosoft.com have been up and down today because of the CPS office move. CPS SEO network infrastructure including the server hosting rynosoft.com was moved last night but the DNS changes did not propagate until this morning. Sometime later in the morning, power to our network was turned off by the electrical contractors in order to install the proper plugs for our UPS units. The network wasn’t restored for a couple of hours and then the server got unplugged from the network a couple of times. Evidently, this all lead the DNS to re-propagate incorrectly and I was unable to access rynosoft.com until just a few minutes ago. Hopefully, the interruptions are over.

CPS is moving Friday


We are literally moving right across the street, SW Broadway to be specific. Our old address is 711 SW Alder and the new address is 621 SW Alder. Friday I’m putting the contents of my office on a book cart. The movers will transport it across the street over the weekend and I’ll probably be at the new office to unpack on Sunday. 

For those of you who have lived on a different world during the last 30 years, the photograph is a parody of this famous Beatles album cover. The street we are walking across in the photo is not actually Broadway.

Note that CPS isn’t the first to parody Abbey Road: you can find many examples here, but this is my favorite. The Wikipedia article also mentions several parodies.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor

Last weekend Thomas and Graham competed in the district pinewood derby races. Graham didn’t place, but Thomas came in 3rd in his division. He was actually disappointed at not doing better. There were also a number of other activities that we did in between races, including CO2 rockets. What fun those are!

Graham continues to get seriously into listening to music. Mostly he listens to They Might Be Giants and The Bobs, but he still asks me for a Song of the Day every few days. He’s proud that he has learned the words to many TMBG songs.

Thomas is still very interesting in learning how to program computers. He found a bug in one of the examples in the Logo book I got for him and has decided that fixing the bug will be his first test. He spends a lot of time in his room playing Runescape, an online role-playing game, with his friends. Occasionally, he’ll move over and play his bass for awhile. I love that he does it for enjoyment.

Tina and I have gone back to Phase I of the South Beach diet and have started losing weight again. Last week I lost 4 lbs. and feel confident that I’ll be up to 60 lbs. lost soon. Tina’s already there. We’ve decided we’re not celebrating until we get to 75 lbs.

This weekend Thomas and I were supposed to go camping with his Boy Scout troop, but somebody messed up on the reservations. Instead, they are having three consecutive day camps at a nearby park. The next weekend, Thomas and I are biking out to adjustable dumbbells Oxbow Park with the troop for another weekend of camping. It’s about a 14 mile ride, so it will be interesting to see how all the boys handle it. They’re young so they should be fine.

In a few weeks, Critical Path is moving offices. The new office is just across the street from us.