Thursday, June 28, 2007

Giveth and taketh away...

I know. Three posts in three days after none in three months. A flurry of creativity.

So Becca and I had a great start to the day; went running up in Forest Park and had a nice breakfast out before heading home to do some work in advance of class as well as look over a few items my boss-to-be had sent me.

Upon reaching the house, I got quite a surprise. An email from my boss-to-be saying my position's funding had fallen through. So in the 30 seconds it took to read the email I went from ready to jump into a new position that I was fairly excited about to being right back at square one. Very disappointing and frankly a hard hit to take. A bit of levity was had though when the temp agency called to give me an update that the paperwork was still getting sorted out and I gave THEM an update.

So I'm back to square one in the job search. The good news is that I have connections out at the Swoosh and I'm continuing to look out there. I'm also going to start branching back out again for other options. In the meantime the silver lining and that Becca and I can leave early on Friday for our anniversary weekend.

More next week-


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

To my lovely wife...

We got married in Gresham (yes, Gresham. Deal :-) )
Our first anniversary was in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Our second anniversary was in the Grampians in South Australia.
Our third anniversary is at home in Portland.

It ain't Des Moines but it'll have to do.

Happy 3rd anniversary to the best travel partner anyone could wish for...


(picture from the Via dell'Amore in Cinque Terre, Italy.)

fixed the date, Chelle, thanks!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pete Sampras, Friggin' Mia Hamm and Nolan Ryan

I have no excuses. Heck, my excuses have no excuses, not even of the "Dad, I missed the last bus so I HAVE to stay over" variety. 3 months and 11 days since I last wrote and 22 days since either of us put up a blog entry. Ugh.

So what have I been up to since I last wrote?

  • Finished my first semester at Willamette, getting a B+ in Marketing and an A in Finance. Not a bad start, even with the obligatory MBA grade inflation. A fair amount of sleep deprivation was involved but I survived.
  • The same day of my last day of class, I lost a fight with Mia Hamm. No, not the retired now mother of twins. Instead with her plaque at the Nike campus. I was helping someone pick up papers they'd dropped and as I rose up, I caught the corner of the plaque. The employee asked if I was ok (I just thought I'd gotten my bell rung) and then I headed off to the car to go to my last night of class. On my way to the car I put my hand up to my head and got a handful of blood. Thankfully I had a towel in the car and was able to stop the bleeding. With that taken care of I elected to go the class. Of course it started bleeding again during dinner but I was able to again get it stopped and make it through the class (much to the amazement of my classmates who thought I should go to the emergency room). By the end of the evening though even I was convinced I should go to the hospital. As a result...
  • Got the pleasure of sitting in the hospital ER for 4 hours until I finally got a bed (where my sleep-deprived self took a nap until the doctor showed up) and in the end 4 stitches in my noggin. Despite the doctor's diagnosis that the gash would heal, I've got a pretty good chunk still out of my hair. Another reason to keep the buzz cut...
  • Spent WAY too much time obsessing over my fantasy baseball team. Yes, I'm a giant dork. But I'm a "currently in the money" dork :-)
  • I ended my first contract job with Nike. I enjoyed the position in that it gave me an opportunity to see the company first hand, understand the Nike culture and work with an interesting group. I even put on a very successful Bike Drive with the Community Cycling Center. Unfortunately my group had a head count open up for which my boss already had someone lined up. As a result, the tasks I was in charge of diminished and upon mutual agreement, my position actually finished May 30th. This was by no means an ideal ending to the position, but it did make me a "Free Agent" right at the beginning of Nike's new fiscal year (June 1). Pete Sampras, you were a gentle entree into the madness of the swoosh.
  • I watched my best friend from college get married. Foltzie, who over the years has evolved from a mismatched sock-wearing geek to a Jack Spade bag-carrying metrosexual geek got married in Seattle to his long-time girlfriend Jessica. Becca and I had a great time getting to catch up with my friends, the Foltz family and enjoy a beautiful weekend in Seattle. We even got in a spot of bowling with the Bride & Groom. Can't put a value on that :-)
  • I'm now 8 weeks into semester two at Willamette. This semester it is Accounting and Statistics. In addition to being two very labor-intensive classes and being taught in summer, they are both classes where the professor is talking AT you. This leads to minimal interaction in class, which makes the four hours go SLOWLY. I'm doing well in both and I feel like I'm learning a lot in Stats but overall this semester has been a much bigger grind than last semester. Hopefully we'll get something light like HR next semester.
  • The job front is picking back up again. During my last day at Nike in May I met with the Sr. Marketing Manager for Digital Commerce (think We had a great conversation and I stayed in touch. Just over two weeks ago I got an email from someone in their Marketing Analytics department. A few meetings and good impressions later, I've got another contract position. This time I'm going to be a Marketing Analyst for Digital Commerce. This will be a great combination of my online experience plus my quantitative strengths. Needless to say I'm excited. The sticking point now is the paperwork between Nike and Kelly Services, the temp company I'm working with. We're now at over a week of waiting for the papers to be finalized. Once that happens though I'm back on campus. The contract is funded through the summer though its likely that it will extend from there. I'm just thrilled to have another chance out there and see if this particular team is a better fit (it should be). And yes, I'm working in the Nolan Ryan building.
So there you go. As you can tell, I've been a WEE bit busy. So much so that I haven't even been able to read a book since February (of the non-textbook category). So I apologize for not writing sooner. I'll try to add my thoughts a little more often again. As long as I have accounting class, I have a place for uninterrupted writing...


(The picture is sometime last semester. The danger of procrastinating with the MacBook camera...)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Mazel Tov, Dad

Another late entry as I'm trying to catch up on my backlog...

Lori, Jon, Mom, Ken Krane, Richard (Dad's brother), Laura, Becca, Brian

As most readers of the blog know, my Dad died almost 3 years ago on August 15th, 2004. His death was in many ways a catalyst for our trip and for trying to find a way to change the way we lived our lives day to day. I think that he would be very proud of the things we've done but I miss so very much being able to share all of this with him.

On May 2, he would have been 63 years old. On May 12th we celebrated what would have been another milestone. It turns out that before his illness Dad and his good friend Ken Krane had been making plans. The Kranes and the Bloomfields have a history of coincidental connections. Both Mom and Dad and Ken and Paula were married on Aug 28, 1966 and both Dad and Ken had their Bar Mitzvahs on May 17th, 1957 (and David and I were born only 9 days apart). A few years ago they started talking about how fun and cool it might be to stage a joint 50th "golden" Bar Mitzvah, aka a Bar Mitzvah Jubilee, aka a "re-Bar". Ken abandoned the idea for a while after Dad died, but then realized that it was still a very meaningful thing for him to do and that he could honor Dad by continuing on with it.

So last Saturday [ed note: accurate when I originally wrote this] we gathered at Corvallis' Beit Am for the first Saturday morning temple services I have been to in years and years. Some thoughts from that emotional day:

Even though the Jewish community in Corvallis has grown and changed a lot since Jon and I lived in town and there are lots of new young families there, for whatever reason most of the people at the service that morning were part of the original community that founded Beit Am. That means they were people who have watched us grow up, and had been at my Bat Mitzvah and Jon's Bar Mitzvah, were there for our weddings, and were there for Dad's memorial services. There was something so comforting and grounding about looking across the room and seeing all these familiar and caring faces. The funniest part Jon and I agreed, is that many of the pillars of the community looked exactly the same to us as they have our whole life, despite the fact that we've known them over a 25-30 year period!

It was definitely different being at a Bar Mitzvah Jubilee instead of a normal one. For one, when the Bar Mitzvah boy gets up to recite (sing) his torah portion you get a whole lot less voice cracking from the 63-year-old. Also, I have to say that his speech/discussion of the reading was a whole lot more thoughtful, insightful, and eloquent than you’d get from your average 13-year-old.

I’d also forgotten how very long Saturday morning services are compared to the Friday night services that we used to attend. Not only are they a lot longer, but there is also considerably more Hebrew used, with lots of standing up/sitting down/singing, and the particular prayer book used had very little transliteration [phonetic spelling of the Hebrew] in it. That means not only do the guests (and those of us who don’t read Hebrew) not understand what is being said, they can’t even follow along with where the congregation is at many points. It’s certainly not the most inclusive of Jewish events. (Unlike the Passover Seder, say). Despite that Brian and Lori were real troopers and participated as best as they could.

As part of the Torah service congregation members are called up to recite certain blessings. It's considered an honor and during a Bar Mitzvah it's often family or close friends of the bar mitzvah boy who get called. For the aliyot Ken split it between his family and Dad's. So Mom had an aliyah of her own, then Jon and I did one together, then Richard (Dad's brother) and his wife Laura did one. There was something really special about doing this with my brother. Neither of us had done one since we were 13 (or since the cousins had gone through their ceremonies), and there was a little bit of panic in relearning how to sing the blessings, but when we were standing up there reciting the traditional words together, I just felt a very strong sense of connection to Jon, to the community, and to Dad. (Even if the way we kept screwing up the last part made me giggle.)

Part of the laughter came from stress relief. I was completely unprepared for how emotional the experience turned out to be. I had known about Ken's plans for a long time, but as it turns out knowing this was something Dad had been going to do and then actually sitting though it imagining how much fun he would have had with Ken preparing for it and putting it on were two completely different things. There were a lot of tears just picturing him up there with the twinkle in his eye that was always there when he would be up in front of a crowd in all of his didactic (but humor-filled) glory. It was really hard; it made us really, really miss him.

In some ways though, he felt closer than ever. It was strange/cool/comforting. (I don't even know the word to use). But in that building that he had been such a part of obtaining, in front of all these people that had watched him raise a family and become a community leader, in a ceremony celebrating the achievement and rededication to the faith of one of his best friends that also very definitely and frequently made mention of him, with his family participating and sharing in the aliyot...with all of that there he was absolutely a tangible presence in the room. And it wasn't just me that felt that. I lost track of the number of people who came up to me during the reception afterwards and made a comment to that effect.

So Mazel Tov, Dad... it was your jubilee too.....

Friday, June 01, 2007

Memorial Day Musings....

Some thoughts after Memorial Day Weekend.

A little bit of background first maybe. I don't consider myself a particularly partisan person. Though I do vehemently despise what the Republican party has come to stand for over the past 10 years (party of intolerance, moral majority, single-issue definitions of "value/faith", etc.), I'm not particularly impressed by the Democrats either. What I'd like to see are reasonable people taking workable ideas from both sides and doing them because it's the best thing for the country and for all our citizens (not just the connected/wealthy ones), even if it's hard, not because it scores the most political points.

Sigh...oh well, back to the real world.

I was against the war in Iraq because I believed it not only was wrong, it wasn't even good tactics/strategy. However I didn't demonstrate or speak out a lot about it; I regret that now. I want our troops home and out of there as soon as possible, but I also understand that we have to be responsible about leaving (even if we weren't about getting over there) and that might mean we have to be there a little longer.

Anyway, growing up I experienced Memorial Day as the holiday that it had become over decades of peace and prosperity: a three day weekend just as the weather was getting nice where you could hang out with family and friends and look forward to the beginning of summer and maybe take a moment to think about the veterans from the past whose sacrifices had gotten us to this kind of a life.

And of course as we all experienced, it also increasingly became about money, money, money. Big retail, big sales, big promotions. I'd certainly noticed it but I guess I'd never really spent a lot of time thinking about it. But this year all of a sudden I couldn't take it anymore.

We were up in Seattle for a wedding and our hotel was located in the middle of an upscale shopping center. So every time we walked out we'd see the signs: "Big Memorial Day Sale" "Don't Miss This Chance for Huge Savings" "Celebrate Memorial Day in Style" etc. I think it was this last one that finally made me lose it. There's just something obscene about glorifying commerce on this day when troops (and Iraqis) are fighting and dying on a daily basis. This isn't just about the sepia photos of the Greatest Generation over in Europe 60+ years ago. It's the sand and blood over in the Middle East yesterday. And tomorrow. Have we as a society forgotten that?

I drove Brian crazy all day muttering things like "There oughta be a law." Actually, that's not a bad idea..... How cool would that be if there were a law that said that as long as we have troops in active organized combat, businesses are not allowed to use Memorial Day for profit?

Okay, so that law will never be enacted.

But I did spend some time wondering what would happen next year (if we're still stuck in morass in Iraq) if some major retailer (and it would have to be one of the REALLY big ones) put out a statement that said something like "Memorial Day sales are really important to our business projections, but some things are more important than the bottom line. So in honor of those who are over in harm's way (no matter what your thoughts are about their being there in the first place), we will be closed on Monday, May 26th." (Or maybe open, but revenues/profits go to veteran's support groups or something). I know it won't happen, but what if it did? Could you imagine the cascade of peer pressure forcing multiple companies into making a similar statement? Hmmmm.....maybe I should start writing some letters. :-)

Anyway, sorry for the preachiness.....Just thought I'd share what was on my mind.


picture is from the American Cemetary near Omaha Beach in France