Monday, June 29, 2009

763 - Relocation, And It's Not Me

Through the course of this Retirement Countdown journey, my focus has been on the changing aspects of my professional, civic and personal life. All of the things you would expect to change, do, on the path to retirement. They've included health, volunteering, college tuition, a heart attack and more. One thing that has been a solid constant has been children... until now.

I am very pleased to say that the change involving the children is quite positive. Son Jake has been pursuing a position in Seattle. Excellent extension to his own professional journey. Two visits. One offer. Accepted. We could not be more pleased and proud.

However, the point of 763 is that now I'm treading in a topic area of the Retirement Countdown never before visited: the moving of a child away from home.

Sure, they both went to college. One local; the other semi-local. Easy transition for Mom and me. This one is different. Not better. Not worse. Different.

Seattle is only a few hour drive away. Twenty-five minutes between PDX and SEA. Geography is working in our favor. But we get the best of both worlds. First, we are proud parents of a successful child. Secondly, we now have an excellent excuse to head up Interstate 5. It's not that I've never had a reason before - Seattle is a great city and I've grown up enjoying it from time to time. Now, there's a "reason."

This "reason" will satisfy my occasional need for a road trip. But the "reason" will have to be managed. After all, my first born will not be just across town. Sure, I may go weeks without seeing him based on our respective schedules and travel demands, but I know he's in the area. Electronic messaging seems to bridge that short gap. A couple of hundred miles will be a wider gap to which I will adjust. Fortunately, it's for all the right reasons.

What's been your experience with distances between you and kids? All positive, I hope? How have you adjusted or endured, depending on the circumstances? What's your advice?


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sports Tradition, Superstition, and Habit

Carl Del Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Wimbledon is probably the most storied and tradition-filled institution in the world of sports. The players, the plays, even the weather have played a major role in creating the aura that surrounds the annual event.

The weather is what is causing the latest stir as it relates to the first-ever retractable roof over Center Court. Countless matches have been delayed or postponed over the years, but weather delays look to be no longer served up. Thanks to a 1,000 ton retractable cover with translucent canvas. As you can imagine, purists aren't pleased.

It appears that even Wimbledon struggles with change. How do you approach your sport? Whether you are a pro, avid amateur, or week-end warrior, everyone has their own traditions, superstitions, and habits. Aspects of our game that must stay the same. But which are they and where do the lines blur between them?

As a hockey player back in the day, I had a very specific way in which put on my gear, stretched, warmed up and took practice shots (I was a goalie.) If you were to ask me then, I'd say, "Well, it's a logical series of steps to prepare for the game." Bull. It was all superstition, with maybe a bit of habit thrown in. The only tradition involved was the fact that I did it that way (habitual superstition) for a long time!

What about you? What quirky... er... I mean... interesting rituals do you practice before any sort of sporting participation?

- Do you wear the same socks when you play tennis because they feel the best, or is there a bit of superstition involved?

- At the golf course, do you hit a bucket of balls before your round to "warm up" or is it more traditional for you?

- When you go for a run, do you listen to the same kind of music each time because it puts you "in the groove" or are you simply a creature of habit?

It's OK to come clean. This is a (relatively) anonymous forum.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day Retrospective

Happy Father's Day to all. If you are a father, then this is obvious. But if you are a wife, mother, sister, or any relation that is a part of the fairer sex, or if you are the child of a father, it is an opportunity to celebrate fathers and look back with them to enjoy fond memories.

My memory is one I keep with me daily - in the form of a fountain pen.

I remember as a child, watching my late father pay the bills. That was a time when the man of the house took care of the financial matters so that the "little lady" didn't have to worry her pretty little head. Let the record show that if I took care of the day to day finances in my home, I'd be a wreck (and so would the finances!) My wife does the "here and now" by taking care of current obligations and I "look to the future" by taking care of the investments. It's a great arrangement in these modern times.

My father was a carpenter and had scarred, tough, beat-up hands. I used to watch those hands create the most elegant and flowing signature when he signed the checks. A signature made possible with a simple Shaeffer fountain pen. A fountain pen that would be my future tie to the past.

Years later (and only a few before he passed away), I happened to ask him if he remembered that pen. He did and said he thought he knew where it was. We went down to the basement and rifled through is his old WWII Army footlocker.

There it was.

I told him of my memory, which took him by surprise - he remembered me hanging around when he paid the bills, but had no idea the impact it had on me. But realizing it then, he immediately made of gift of the pen to me.

That was the genesis of my pen collection.

In my 781 - School Board Farewell Message, I noted the 781 days left to retirement by sharing my final message I delivered at my last Board Meeting. How does this tied together? The gift I received from my fellow Board Members was a fountain pen. They've heard me talk about (and use) special pens for eight years and decided to put their money where my mouth was. I couldn't have been more pleased.

If you are father, congratulations and enjoy your day with family and friends.

If you have, know, remember, or just like to hang around fathers, celebrate the memories they make and tell them how much of an impact they have made on you. They may not know about your version of the fountain pen.

Do it while you can.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pittsburgh Penguins Claim Stanley Cup

Yes, the tuxedo trimed birds claimed the Stanley Cup on a foreign ice flow, winning the famed 7th game in rival Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. The Pittsburgh Penguins: you have to like a bird that dresses for dinner. How can you not want them to succeed? Didn't you see March of the Penguins?

Stanley Cup Finals; 7th Game; down to the wire: what all hockey players use as a backdrop for street hockey (shinny for you purists) games to build drama.

But the drama is something that most people never experience. I've of course never experienced Stanley Cup success, except for when it came through town a few years ago and was able to visit, touch the names and marvel at its presence. As a long time, but quite "previous" hockey player, I get a chill when I see the cup and experienced a thrill when I got to touch it.

But this accomplishment begs a question: if you have achieved a "championship" in any fashion, do you re-connect to that time when you see a team or individual achieve that milestone? Do you (at least temporarily) live vicariously through them? As someone who has experienced several championships in my youth as a hockey player, I can attest to the fact that there are not may other feelings quite as fulfilling.

What's your experience? Have you achieved "championship" status in any endevor? Was it individual or a team accomplishment? Do you relive it with the same passion when you see current teams do the same?

I need to know if I'm the execption, or the rule.



Friday, June 12, 2009

781 - School Board Farewell Message

After eight years on the Gresham-Barlow School Board, I have finally elected to retire. A difficult decision, but one that is right for me. While it is time to move on, I will deeply miss the work, the kids, and my colleagues.

Last night was the final formal business meeting, of which I have had the honor to lead for the last two years as Board Chair. Kind words, gifts and an occasional "jab" made for an excellent send-off. Knowing there would be an opportunity for some final remarks, I knew the only way I would get through them emotionally was to write them down. I'm glad I did, because I barely held it together while I read them. I share them with you here in hopes that some of my perspectives may resonate with you.

Best regards,


Gresham-Barlow School Board
Farewell Message
June 11, 2009

There is something about the magic of this District that I’m sure all of us inherently feel to some degree, but that I have had a difficult time truly understanding until just recently. I’d like to share with you how that perspective has finally come into focus.

Over the past six months, I have seen at my employer, a number of long-time friends and colleagues retire. While my retirement is still a few years out, it is being on this precipice of a significant change in my professional life that has allowed me to relate it to my work in Gresham-Barlow School District.

This has caused me to observe many similarities between our home lives and our professional and civic activities. For example:

  • We are frequently working hard to live within our means
  • We often pack our schedules full in an attempt to do it all
  • We are sometimes dysfunctional (and you know who your are!)
  • We take what we do very seriously, but try to have fun doing it
  • We care about each other
  • We do it all for our kids
  • We are a family

Speaking of family, I want to take this opportunity to thank them for giving up 8 years of Thursday nights. Especially my very patient and supportive wife, Margaret. Without her support, I would not have been able to focus on the work at hand.

It has been a pleasure and an honor to be a part of this wonderful family over the last eight years. It is not uncommon for people in my circumstance to announce that they have benefitted exponentially more than they have contributed, but it is so true.

  • How many people can say that they have worn dorky hats to read Dr. Seuss books to Kindergartners?
  • And at the other end of the educational spectrum, how many people can say that they have been afforded the honor of handing out high school diplomas and shaking the hands of our graduating seniors?
  • How many of those can say they got to hand them to their own children?

As I’ve already discussed with the Superintendent, I hope to be involved with some projects going forward, so I am excited about getting to work with you again, only in a different capacity. Until then, I’ll leave you with a few thoughts:

  • To students: continue making us proud
  • To staff: continue doing the right things for our kids
  • To Cabinet: continue creating opportunities for teachers to succeed
  • To the Superintendent: continue being the leader that you are
  • To Board Members: continue balancing the here and now, with the distant future
I wish all of you the best, both professionally and personally for the future.

Thank you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Donate Life Northwest Raffle

Donate Life Northwest
Donate Life Northwest

A good friend of mine is the Program Director for a small non-profit organization in Portland called Donate Life Northwest. They are responsible for the statewide public education about the importance of registering to be an organ donor.

Part of their fundraising efforts is an annual benefit raffle which is coming up in August. I am reaching out to all Ultimate Blogging Toolkit readers and fellow bloggers to buy a ticket or two. There are six great prizes and if by an unfortunate chance you don't win, all of your charitable gift is tax deductible and 100% goes towards their wonderful programs.

You can buy tickets online at their secure website:

And what great prizes!

  • Grand Prize: Roundtrip airfare for two on Alaska Airlines within the continental US
  • 2nd Prize: Seven day stay at Eagle Crest Ridge in Redmond, OR (sleeps 6)
  • 3rd Prize: Central Oregon Getaway - weekend stay in a cabin on the banks of the Metolius River and dinner at Chloe Restaurant
  • 4th Prize: 16GB Apple iTouch
  • 5th Prize: A one-of-a-kind handcrafted jewelry piece by local artist Jessica Vasi
  • 6th Prize: Beach Getaway - Two night stay at a charming cottage on the Yachats River in Yachats, OR (sleeps up to 6)

For more details on the prizes and some pictures of the getaway cottages, you can check out their website.

I'm already signed up as an organ donor. If that appeals to you as a way to help another person, sign up or just buy a raffle ticket. Hey, you may get to pick up one of these prizes.

Donate Life Northwest
PO Box. 532
Portland, OR 97207
Office: 503-494-2257
Fax: 503-494-2290

Register today to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. Thanks for your support.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Words to Live By - From Charles Schulz

A good friend mentioned this in a comment on the New Blogged Word. It was taken directly from I have tagged this under the "Health" category, more for mental than physical. We all can do a lot worse than to follow these inspirational thoughts. I hope you enjoy the sentiment.


Charles Schulz Philosophy

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read the e-mail straight through, and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winner for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending
time with


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care

Pass this on to those people who have made a difference in your life.??

Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.
It's already tomorrow in Australia."
(Charles Schulz)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

French Open Tackle

What is it with people? As a recreational tennis player, I of course can't relate to having "fans." However, if this is what fame brings with it, I would just as soon pass it up. (On second thought, it would be fun to explore for a while!!!)

In this video, an idiot tries to put a hat on Roger Federer. He's quick, because it took a few moments for security guards to stop him, but wait until you see the tackle!

I just shake my head. What are people thinking - and what do they think they accomplish when they pull these stunts?

The tackle should have been harder.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

JA Biztown Bonanza

In JA Biztown - Kids Conducting Commerce, I was giddy about my experience at the volunteer orientation for Junior Achievement's JA Biztown day.  Well, that was today, and giddy isn't anywhere close to explaining my excitement about the program.

Today was a culmination of many weeks of work by three of our local 5th grade classes, who were able to exercise their newfound skills in money management, business operations and a taste of grown-up responsibility.

Kids... er... ah... workers, were given paychecks, asked to make bank deposits, manage their cash and checkbook registers.  As employees, they created and distributed invoices, collected payments, made deposits, interacted with retail customers and generally saw how hard it was to "work."  (Not my assessment - direct quotes.)

This was the most enjoyable morning I've spent in a very long time.

Biztown is funded in part by naming rights of the companies represented in the "town."  (See previous post on the subject for an impressive list.)  I've added a "Memorable Merchant" tag to this post as an indicator that not only was the experience memorable, but so is the willingness of the sponsors to support it.  Operationally, it relies heavily on contributions.

Contact your local Junion Achievement office, specifically, the Portland office at:

JA of Columbia Empire, Inc.
7830 S.E. Foster Road
Portland, OR  97206

Phone: (503) 238-6430


Web address:

Contribute your time, your money and your enthusiasm - you won't be disappointed!