Journal History

Here are the previous journal entries from my home page

Read the previous archive.

Journal as of 10/26/99

Fun and games, and lots of work.  The new company is working on raising seed funding and that keeps me pretty busy. We're looking for wealthy individual investors and talking to as many as we can.  I'm also trying to complete the design so that when the funding does come we can hire engineers and get them working as quickly as possible. In a startup like ours time is always against us.

The Shark's opener this season was a total surprise, a blow out that they won! The team looked sharp and ran the ice well.  Goal after goal kept slamming into the net and the crowd went wild.  Thanks to Bob for the tickets while he relaxed in Twain Harte.

Angela's been busy in San Carlos politics. She's part of a group that is pushing for the preservation of the downtown atmosphere. Their current target is saving some small Spanish ranch houses from the 30's.  The developer is doing all he can to make them look run down and uninhabitable.  We've seen pictures of the interiors, and they are charming.  A new coat of paint on the outside would make them glow.   Unfortunately the developer wants to raze them and put up another 4 story monstrosity right on the main drag.  The campaign generated more letters and phone calls than the city council has ever received before. The developer has withdrawn his proposal to submit another in the future.  Funny, in the original proposal the developer argued stridently that these six units were "beyond any chance of repair."  He now says the new proposal will be able to save 4 of them, but the other two are impossible to save. Bullshit, me thinks.  Now Angela is out walking the precincts for a City Council candidate that promises to retain the charm of San Carlos.   I'm proud to see her get so politically active.

We met with the gang in SLO again this year.  Just a weekend away in the Quality Suites. We shopped and there was one long afternoon of golf at the San Luis Bay course.  We captured one hilarious birdie attempt by Ron-O that was ruined by an eight putt. Oh man, we must have watched that ten times on video. I wish I could stream it for you from here.

And then, there was this year's Exotic Erotic Ball in SF.  Kind of the Mardi Gras of the West Coast.  Lots of naked people and many just covered with paint on latex.  Angela and I were dressed on the modest side.  Jen put together a leaf and branch outfit called "Autumn" that was super, and her friend Carmen was all sparkly.  Karl had a professional makeup artist turn him into some kind of off-world creature in black and white - excellent job Peggy! The music blared way too loud, it was like the ZZ Top concert I saw last year.  Way, way to loud to be enjoyed, so we spent our time in the other halls listening to the music there and ogling the crowd.  Give me a ring and I'll show you the pics.  Definitely a good time.

Journal as of 9/20/99

Back Home! It's been five weeks (only five?) down Insane Diego working on the new business.  We had a tremendous time - workwise that is.  I was doing the early shift and that means 6 AM - 8 PM six days a week and on Sunday I only worked 6 PM - 11 PM. Sunday was a great day of rest.  From a personal standpoint it was an exile from friends and family.  I didn't have time to play around or see much of SD. A great city but my forays were confined to coffee in La Jolla one Saturday, and the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Greek festival another.

Still, I was one up on Vance since he let me play hooky over Labor Day to attend a wedding in Ohio with Angela. Angela used to live in Columbus (fish out of water there) and took me to all the old hot spots. We started with a late breakfast at Bob Evans.  Angela calls it "the place people from Ohio wax nostalgic about until they come back for a meal and then they wonder what the hell they were thinking."   She tried to sucker me into ordering their world famous sausage gravy and biscuits but I wouldn't bite.  We also saw the world's only installation of 200 7-foot tall cement ears of corn, standing upright on a grid of ten foot centers. This unusual, to say the least, art installation was in front of the corporate HQ of some local corn driven firm.  To come across this mess while driving down a normal road is to risk slamming into a telephone pole as you laugh enough to bust a gut.  I'm not sure that's what the artist had in mind . . .

The wedding was a huge success.  Lauren and Dan got hitched at the Home Road Party House in nice ceremony on the lawn. Then we danced to the likes of Rocky Horror Picture Show tunes and the GoGos.  There was a little tiff with the DJ who refused to play some of the bride's requests. "No one will dance and I'll ruin my reputation," he said.  I have to wonder how much it enhances his reputation to not play Billy Idol when the bride requests it?  We chowed down on a big, whole smoked pig. 175 pounds before dressing.  Whew. Fortunately for my heart they remove the skin and fat prior to smoking.  A couple of big slabs of fatty cooked skin would have gone a long ways towards helping my retirement financial plan.  Also met tons of Angela's friends.  Many geodisists were present (go figure), medical tech's, and a librarian or two. (Watch out when they start to party!)   However the map to events was superb! And we spent a super morning with Alexandra and George at their wonderful house. (Also got some awesome homemade spanikopita!)

San Diego left us with lots of idle time in the office.  The spy cam offered welcome comic relief.  I'll get it set up here at home soon and you'll be able to view the town of Saratoga, live.  On the 15th at 6:01 we snapped the last spy cam picture for the archives and shut down the server - test over.  Anyone can read these pages, so I can't say too much here, but the test was an incredible success. Next step is to update the business plan, complete the offering letter, and get some investors behind us.  Watch for us on the cover of Forbes.

Journal as of 7/11/99

Seems like it's a monthly event to get more news here these days. With the startup underway I'm putting all my computer literacy to work on it and that leaves precious little time to update the site.

We had a super trip to San Diego last week. Met with our cellular partner, the radio station, the temp agency, and rented a place to live. Whew.  Had an absolutely excellent meal at the Crab Catcher in La Jolla. The entrees were so well presented that I mistook a dressed up filet mignon headed for another table to be some form of chocolate dessert. My scallop pasta was excellent and Vance enjoyed the tempura prawns. Too bad Angela was stuck at home.

We did get away for a big 4th. Mike and ... hosted us up in Gig Harbor for the weekend. Kinch joined us and so did Leonard's sister Carol.  We made a morally troubling trip to a local Indian reservation to pick up some legal bombs and spent the night trying not to blow off our hands.  As happens when young men have more money than they need in the face of sin, we bought more than we needed. (Remember how many six-packs you bought the night your turned 21 as a poor college student?  Think what would have happened if that event was repeated with the disposable income you have today!)

We plunked down $150 to obtain a veritable arsenal of black powder and minerals.  I'm talking about explosive spheres the size of tennis balls with small rocket motors and 12-inch fuses.  When these babies hit the 100 foot mark they explode just like the big boys' toys.  I think we were very safe, even if insane, until we began to experiment with hand grenading these bombs into the water.  Then there was the experiment of pointing the mortar tube horizontal to see if the bombs would skip (they don't).  Of course two in the same tube was hardly the act of Einstein. Anyway, at the end of the night we were setting them off three at a time - we just had too many on hand.  My advice: stick with the blocks that automatically fire off 16 in a row.  These provide plenty of fun, a modicum of safety, and several can be set in motion at the same time if you get tired of the whole thing.

Jen Smith had a great 30th birthday bash at Henry Cowell state park. We camped out Friday and Saturday night with friends and family. Lots more joined in for the Saturday picnic. Jen had prepped a ton of food. Corn on the cob was roasted on the fires, the potatoes were pre-cooked and wrapped in foil, we brought pasta salad, and Jen had the chicken marinating over night. At one point we had eight of the installed barbecues going at once.  A very enjoyable time. Pictures to follow.

Jazz On The Hill at CSM was also a blast. Jazz was really good. It was a super warm day and we spent all our time laying on the grass at one of the stages (there were 4) reading and listening to the music. As always the first acts were less exciting, but as the day wore on each act got better. We stayed through the last act, T.S. Monk. He was excellent. One bad experience - ticks. We were sitting under a couple of redwood trees with a lot of other people. I felt something on my neck and picked off a tick. I was showing others and discussing with Angela if we should move into the open when a second tick fell down onto my hand while I was watching. The damn things were dropping out of the trees onto us. Sheesh, we made a hasty retreat. No need for Lyme's disease here.

Since leaving HP I've been cooking a lot more dinners. The flexible hours of my new endeavor allow me some freedom to do what I like. As a result I've added some new recipes to the web site. All are tested on the beautiful Angela in the kitchen of  Jim.

Journal as of 6/7/99

Life in Saratoga is pretty good these days. The sun shines, my DSL line remains up, the coffee is fresh roasted. ... and the work goes on! Vance and I have gone over all of the competition and it looks like we have a strategy for each.  I'm working like a dog to get a test ready. I can't say much more here, but stand by for action.

Last weeks have brought four birthdays to fruition.  Nancy and Greg came out for her 40th.  It's hard to surprise a person who has to travel 1500 miles to attend a party. Yet I think Nancy wasn't expecting the breadth of attendees.  The whole family made it, sans Grandma Schrempp - she's not really up for long drives - and Rich and Jackie - they were AWOL on the Island of Mann having a super time on an excellent vacation. Mom was happily prepping Nancy for the big presentation of the birthday cake when, surprise, the cake was for mom! That certainly caught her be surprise.  Then Ed Hanna reminds us that his 81st was just three days earlier. Yeow. Birthdays all around. Pictures are here too.

Then last weekend Angela turned... 29. We had a little potluck lunch at her place. The new kitchen showed well and so did the backyard. (It should after 8 hours of weed whacking and two hours of hauling concrete to the dump.) It was a cozy group of 10. We just fit in the living room. Everyone ooo'd and ahhh'd over the fantasy kitchen installation. We managed to add the wood drawer fronts the day before and they really spruced it up.

We spent some time at Ruth's Berkeley digs for a garden party the other day. What a great place.  We sat all afternoon in the big backyard chatting with new friends.  A group of three from Taiwan and Japan were there with their host family. It was an entertaining time talking about their acculturation into the Bay Area.

Oh, did I mention the latest roadhouse visit?

Journal as of 5/17/99

The new company is on-hold for a week or so while we sort out how to address the budding competition that we find in the field.  I quit HP on Monday, and Friday the Mercury News has an article on a company doing almost exactly what we're doing.   Wow, that didn't take long. We're regrouping to decide what the exact impact on our plans will be.

Meanwhile I'm living the retired life of Riley.  Playing catch-up with friends and family. Projects around the house that need to be done. A little volunteer work here and there. I even helped a group get their web site going.  It feels great!

Last weekend Angela and I lazed around the roadhouse. Ray's new deck is enormous and nestled right into the trees.  This is perhaps the best addition to the house since the walls went up.  We had a huge bonfire Saturday night - 12 foot flames licked the sky - and that brought out a whole brace of mountain folk. We watched the fire die down and drank our wine.  Thanks again to Charlie for the showers and Bob for the excellent wine!  Sometime I'm going to spend a whole week in that rare atmosphere.

Meanwhile, on with the summer of Jim.

Journal as of 4/25/99

Noah only had to deal with one flood, I've had to deal with three.   First, there's the basement room at my place.  Termite damage to the front of the complex required us to pull up and replace some concrete. We waited for the rains to subside and then we went to work. It just so happens that the rains were not over for the year. That Saturday a torrent came down that threatened to pelt through the roof.  I lay sleeping snug in my bed. Two days later I realize that the basement room is flooded. Half the floor is sopping wet. It takes 8 days to dry and is now a moldy mess. Shit.

Flood 2.  Angela's place is coming along great!  We've put in the cabinets, the crown molding. Now we just wait for the counter top (which Home Depot forgot to order...).  "Might as well put that new faucet in the vanity in the bedroom," I thought.  Sure looks sharp; it really dresses the place up. Three days later I notice that I'm tracking water all over her house. Must be from outside... nope, it's the sink! A slightly less than tight fitting on the hotwater connection has been drip-dripping for three days. There's a six foot circle of water in the bedroom. God.  

Flood 3. At least that's stopped.  So now I'm standing in my own master bath, toothbrush in mouth, water running down the sink. Suddenly I'm wondering, "why are my feet wet?"  NO! Yet another leak. The trap under my sink has chosen this particular day to give way. My god, a third flood in two weeks. Get the animals, it's time to jump in an ark.

Oh, and returning to Angela's bedroom - the water leak caused the hardwood floor under the carpet to buckle up like HW280 during an earthquake.  That's taken us weeks to fix. 

Imagine my trepedation as we were leaving Angela's last weekend after installing the countertop and sink in her kitchen.  Finger's crossed, we left for the night and everything held!  Last night after a lot of nailing her hardwood floor is repaired. The carpet is down, the kitchen is done, my carpet is dry but moldy, and my bathroom is out of commission.  Still, no leaks from the kitchen sink make me think that the badness is over.

We spent yesterday with a team from Cisco and Friends Of T.R.A.D.E. doing a Christmas in April cleanup and repair in Redwood City. Three houses on this block under HW84 were being redone. The owner of our house lost her husband last year in a fishing accident out of Half Moon Bay.  We spent the day cleaning up the yard. This guy had kept a ton, or three, of stuff. He'd been a painter so we had over 300 gallons of old paint and piles of painting gear. His fishing adventures had accumulated 500 pounds of lead waiting to become weights, and a vast assortment of fishing gear, old tackle boxes, gaffs, and a host of other miscellany to be thrown out.  We kept things she could sell and the rest went into three and one half of those medium sized dumpsters; thanks to BFI for giving us those for free. The only snafu happened when a Volvo wagon with 30 partially filled 5-gallon paint buckets shows up at the recycling place and the guy there says, "we only take 10 gallons at a time."  Oooops. Our house captain did some fast phone calls and we were able to leave the stuff there to be dealt with on Monday.

Journal as of 4/9/99

I took the big step. Out the door. Through the hatch. Off the bridge. Over the edge.  I gave notice.

After a long, happy 19 years at Hewlett Packard I'm taking the dive into a startup.  Not a big startup either - just me and Vance. We came up with the idea for this business just two months ago. It's hard to believe that in such a short time I went from lifer to madman - although some people have always seen me as a madman.

I can't say anything about the new business here.  We're working on an internet business and we don't do anything that could be seen as competing with HP.   There are competitors in our market, some big ones, but we believe we have a couple of twists on the business that will rock the industry.  Doesn't every startup say that?

We're out looking for funding, making the prototype and assembling a team.   It's a bit like finding people to walk into a knife fight with you. As time goes on I'll post notes on this page about how it goes and what we're doing. Who knows, maybe you'll all become customers!

For regular readers, Angela's kitchen is still in pieces.  We've got all the cabinets in now and they look fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Loading up the cabinets freed up the living room and dining room so now the house is livable again.   Home Depot messed up the counter top order so we won't be able to finish up for another three weeks. What a bummer.

Journal as of 3/2/99

And now it goes back!  Last weekend we really rocked on the kitchen. Primed, painted, assembled. We even braved the fire and put down sheet vinyl in the kitchen. We used four times the recommended application of latex adhesive, but we didn't put it on thick at all. Who knows how to do it right?

A ledger board on the wall and - kazam - there are cabinets screwed into the walls and the floor. Of course with the cabinets up we couldn't get the screw out of the ledger board. It was some kind of geometry problem. Sean solved it with a bigger hammer. Thanks to Chris for her help too.

I'm building the kitchen page as we go. It's not done, but you can view the work in progress here.

Journal as of 2/26/99

The kitchen saga continues.  Hats off to Nancy and Jim who just laughed and laughed when we told them it would be a two week project. At least we're now in the put-back stage. 

The dry wall is up, taped, and primed. The floor has the regulation covering of 3/4 inch plywood - and about a million screws. Every time the floor squeaked we drove in one more screw.  I think we made four trips to Home Depot for screws.

Last weekend we put the first crown molding onto the first assembled wall cabinet.  This one is going up against the ceiling so we have to get the molding on before it's hung.  The problem is not typical as this is a corner cabinet with angles of 135 degrees instead of 90.

Angela and I worked the problem over with my Stanley mitre box until we'd (I'd) burned up a $15 strip of crown molding, all to no avail.  Bob came by to give it a try and I threw up my hands in disgust with myself as he and Angela began again. They were figurin' and calculatin' and tryin' it here and there. At last they made it fit and mounted it. Man, it looks just great.  I hope we've learned enough from that to be able to do the next ones faster.

Journal as of 2/16/99

It's Tuesday. Me fat. Once again I'm not in 'Orleans. I am as sore as if I'd been there. No headache, but my legs are a mess o' pain. Last weekend we ripped out Angela's kitchen. Sean, Jennifer, Mark, Cathy, Leonard, and Dave all brought hands to the table. The old cabinets were ripped out toot sweet. Then we went to tackle the walls. The original plan was to cut out a band two feet wide to remove the tiles. Once we got going it made more sense to just take out all the wall board. Released to carnage, the team made short, gleeful work of the walls. Jennifer, Cathy, and Angela assembled a couple of cabinets, and several of us worked to upgrade the electrical system.

Along the way we found several surprises.  Behind one wall cabinet was a small yellow plastic pouch filled with some loose material - tobacco. In the back of one base cabinet was a shelf no one knew about. On it was a fondue pot - avocado colored. Behind one base cabinet was a space. There we found a tin of sardines and a can of Campbell's soup. The soup can contained a dry mass that rattled and sported a "sell by" date of 1967! Lastly, under the floor boards, we found an empty bottle of cola.

"Under the floor?" you ask. Yep. Unfortunately an old leak under the sink made it necessary for Sean and I to take it down to the rafters on Sunday.   We were pretty smart, I think, to cut out the floor in a 4x8 square. It got rid of all the damage and made it easy to just drop in a couple of sheets of wood goods to close up the incision. Angela and I finished up Sunday with the placement of pink insulation into the exterior walls. 

So, here I am. Sitting in Atlanta, contemplating Fat Tuesday, and nursing my hurting legs and shoulders back to health.

Journal as of 2/8/99

Ouch! Don't know how else to say it. We had way, way too late a night with Jen and Timo watching the movie Incognito.  Everyone else liked it a lot. I liked it, but I thought the dialog was a bit contrived and strained. Too many quick bites for me. It's an entertaining movie, just not worth $7.00 at the theaters.  Still, after the hot tub the movie kept me awake until 1AM. That's not too bad - unless you have to be on the road by 8AM the next day for skiing.

Time and tides kept us away from SLT until almost 2PM. Angela has some really neat alternative chains called Spider Tires. These snow traction devices install on your wheels in about three minutes flat. And I can report that they drive better than chains. When we reached the cabin a beautiful snow storm was in progress so we cooled our jets  over TV, books, and Bookers. Fresh powder is a great mixer. The others in our cabin were more aggressive than we and didn't return from the slopes until almost 5. It was a tired bunch that slouched into chairs and onto the floor. Maybe that's why Angela followed up her trouncing of me with three more blitz's of the backgammon board.

Thanks Jennifer for an excellent vegetarian spaghetti sauce... any chance I could post the recipe here? Sleep came pretty quickly, except to those who ran into Nevada for some gaming.

It snowed all night and Sunday brought clouded skies and a load of new, very wet powder. With all major routes closed Angela and I headed East and North. We drove through Reno before running into a complete stop on HW80 at Truckee.  You know me and traffic jams ... we don't mix well. Downtown old-Truckee is great and we had a super meal before tackling the drudge of 80 again.  Once over the summit speed picked up. I don't know why everyone was driving stop and go, the summit was clear. No chains, no ice, no accidents. Why the traffic? We made it home in just 7 hours - God. Good to see everyone at the cabin; sheer hell on the way home.

Journal as of 1/31/99

Rang in the New Year with a special trip to LA. Angela was off to a spa in Palm Springs, so I took the opportunity to invite myself down to see Tom in Whittier.   I've been wanting to get down there and bring Tom onto the web, but events always conspired to keep us apart.  This time the planets aligned and I was in LA.  I didn't realize at the time, but I was inviting myself to join Tom's family in the long standing Schaffer Family Rose Parade event

Just before heading to LA, Angela and I found that there was only one weekend in the next eight that would do for a housewarming - the next one!  I sent out some frantic emails and tried to get on everyone's calendar. A lot of people couldn't make it on such short notice, but it still came off so well. Thanks to everyone who came. We really started to rock around 7PM. The place was packed as friends and family wandered the grounds and ate all the food we had (except for the cheese). This was the first party with both my friends and Angela's. I think it went fantastically. I could see some new friendships being formed as we knitted these groups together.

Two weeks ago the Marble Doctor finished resurfacing and polishing all the marble in the house. It was in such bad shape that I was constantly wiping down the counters thinking they were dirty. In reality they were just etched.  Before the Doctors came out I experimented by drawing a big letter J on one tile with orange juice.   I left it there for one hour and then washed it off. Son of a gun, my initial was now permanently engraved on that tile! Marble is not the thing to have on a kitchen counter. The Docs convinced me to leave the kitchen counters honed but un-polished. Right decision.  The whole house looks just super now.

And... last week was gone off to Whistler / Blackcomb for skiing with the Crash and Burn club. First day was beauty, all sun and crystal clear. Our luck didn't hold as the next two days were overcast and I took a break when the fog came in and caused a white-out. Then another super clear day and a final oh-ya? from the mountain as it rained on Friday. The party was 50's dress at the Blackcomb Hard Rock Cafe. Lots of good pictures to come next week. Rob also got a video of two non-CB gals stripping and heading down the mountain buck naked on a saucer while Julie heckled them from afar. Yep, another good trip.

Today Angela and I went out shopping for a bookcase for her place. She's looked around a lot and found nothing that really suited her. Today we stopped by an antique shop in San Carlos just on a whim and ran into the perfect case. This one was build in the 30's. It's six feet tall, three feet wide. Glass door with hand carved figures at the top and bottom of the window. We brought it home, it fit perfectly, and changes the whole tenor of her living room. Excellent purchase.

This week's work is a load. Monday in Roseville, then a two day long meeting. Thursday I'm home in the AM for the DSL installation - stand by for some great new web tricks. I have big plans for the DSL. Then Friday a bunch of preliminary interviews for the project manager opening on my team. Whew!


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