I chose my initial career path one night in my senior year in high school. I had accompanied my dad on one of his nightly runs to the University of Michigan’s computer center. As he punched a few cards for his next job, I looked around. It must have been at the end of the term, after years into his fellowship. The gleaming clean of the computer rooms counterpointed the trampling dirty footsteps of final’s week. Somehow this dichotomy captured my heart and I longed to be on the other side of that computer room glass. I majored in computer science and at times scrounged dirty, but un-punched cards off of those totally unsanitary floors, but never did I break that glass. I graduated, just barely. My first boss was originally my college advisor’s babysitter. After two years on the job, I had become disenchanted to the point of insubordination. I was got a second chance in Saint Louis.
Anne and I married and moved to Saint Louis. We enjoyed our great adventure, before settling in and buying a house and having kids. My computer company was shot out beneath me. I jumped from the frying pan into the fire and hired into the defense industry, just as the Berlin wall was coming down and my prospective employer was also experiencing its own financial difficulties. What ensued was ten years of layoffs. My employer’s workforce shrank to 20% of my hire in numbers. I still remember my new hire orientation instructor touting his weight loss, while wearing his now oversized suit. Still, I persisted. Those ten year probably took twenty off my life. I survived and eventually prospered. What did I do? I like to say that I made paper airplanes. It tends to fend off further questions and keeps me square with the government. When I calculated that I had made enough money, I punched out.
When I look back over my career, there are a few things that were of note, awards, promotions and innovations. What I value most from my work was that it provided for my family. All of the petty crises that once populated my day-to-day work life have melted away. I can look back and see that my success was founded on three principles: 1) staying healthy 2) staying married and 3) staying employed. I wish my children my kind of success, because I love my life, I love my wife and I hope that they enjoy our kind of success. Show them the money!
Endless Summer Sunset
The joke around Saint Louis these days is, “How you liking this July weather?” With highs in the nineties it sure feels like it’s still July and not September, but there are some differences. With fewer hours of daylight now than July, it cools off overnight and I can usually shutoff the AC for a few hours. That’s not the usual case in July and while it has been mainly days with highs in the nineties, there are plenty of other days, when it is not that warm. Plus, I think that the humidity is a little lower than it typically is in July, but overall it is warmer this month than it normally is, leading to the sensation of an endless summer.
Anne and I went for a bike ride this morning, getting out and back before the heat really kicked in. Drumroll… Sixty years ago, Hawaii became the 50th state and today, Anne made it her 50th state too, when she spied a parked car with plates from Hawaii. She plays the license plate game. She’s got an app for that. Before our ride was over, she was more than halfway through the states in her new game. And yes, on the way back home, we circled the block, looking for that Hawaiian car again, but alas it was gone. Thinking that its owner is a bible thumping church goer, Anne made note to look for it again, next Sunday.
My consolation prize came from a passing cyclist, who complemented me with a, “Nice bike!” Forest Park was too crowded, so we headed to Tower Grove. I promised to make lunch, so we didn’t stop to eat on South Grand. I made my Californian chicken salad, chicken salad with fruit and nuts. On the way home, we came upon the remains of an early morning charity walk. It had a huge finish line sign that Anne could not resist. She sprinted ahead and while crossing over the line, raised one fist in victory. I just chuckled. Next, we stopped at Kaldi’s for a smoothie and iced coffee. When we got up to leave, a family that had participated in that charity walk took our table. They recognized Anne by her jersey and had seen her fist pump her way to victory. I just chuckled, again.
Taste of Saint Louis
On Saturday, we drove downtown and attended the food festival, Taste of Saint Louis. For the past few years, this fair about food fare had relocated out to West County, in Chesterfield. With the completion of the renovation of the Soldiers Memorial, it is now back where it belongs. Vendors are selected from local restaurants and while doing our initial walk through, I was struck by how many of these neighborhoods we haven’t been to for a while. Being out-of-town for three months is the main contributor for this, but I felt the need to revisit them.
We started with a pair of Sambusa from Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant, one beef and the other lentil. They were both spicy, but good and made me want to checkout again the wide selection of ethnic restaurants along South Grand. We next sampled Chicken teka Masala with rice from Sameem Afghan Restaurant, located in the Grove. The chicken was so tender that you could cut it with a fork. Finally, dessert from Ices Plain & Fancy, located in Tower Grove North. In a twist Anne had their mint chip and I had a Frozen Dude, an adult concoction.
It was a beautiful day, probably the pick day of the weekend. I wish that we could have stayed longer, but time on the parking meter was running out. Feeling comfortably full, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and left to go home. Too bad, it would have been nice to explore downtown some more. On the way out, Anne stopped to speak with a women’s college soccer team that was in from So-Cal. They had played Mizzou and still had some time to kill before their flight home. I hope that they enjoyed the Taste of Saint Louis as much as we did.