all my family and friends, a Happy New Year, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
I hope the 2005/6 holiday season finds you in good health and that the coming year is fulfilling and prosperous.
Okay, so most of you have not heard a peep out of me in a year or so, sorry! As per the plan outlined in the 2004/5 holiday letter, I sold my house in Val Verde, and moved in with Kelly up in San Francisco. Just click on the thumbnail images in the right hand column to see larger photos, then browse back. Key to the transition was taking a job at retailer Good Guys! Starting at store 44 in Valencia and later at store 02 in Daly City - Serramonte I sold Camcorders, Digital Cameras and many types of High Definition Big Screen TVs including Plasma, DLP, LCoS, Direct View and Rear Projection LCD and CRT. Check out my new license plate! In this customer facing retail environment my compensation was commission based and I consistently exceeded my gross profit targets for product, accessories and extended service protection. Repeat customers and referrals sought me out for my friendly, honest and knowledgeable solutions to specific requirements or general technical issues.
Kelly has two kids from her first marriage. Greg is 23 and a Junior majoring in film theory, Sabrina is 21 and spent several weeks in Mainland China this year traveling with a college course which traced the route of Marco Polo. We have three cats; Raja is the cowardly lion with one blue eye and one yellow. Scarlet is the oh-so-beautiful big black fluffy thing, aloof to her adoring fans. Lily is the youngest, a black and white smarty pants baby cat brought home at three in the morning last year from the adopt-a-thon after our much-loved old lady cat Sally succumbed to the ravages of time. Lily enjoys teaching me how to play mousey fetch when not napping on my computer keyboard.
Sister of adventures Jennifer visited with us this time last year; she recently completed an internship at a Santa Barbara retreat exploring the world of gourmet cooking and is now working as the personal assistant to a CEO in New York. Sister Stacey has moved from Colorado to Massachusetts. It’s been a sad year or so for the senior generation in my family, we’ve lost some beloved members of the tribe.
Kelly and I saw The Strawbs in an intimate acoustic venue, no more than 30 folks attended. They played at the Little Fox in Redwood City. Dave Cousins still has all the intensity and passion I remember 30 years ago. What a superb musical performance! Forget drums and mellotron keyboards, these acoustic Strawbs were fabulous. We even got to thank Dave at the bar after the show. We also attended the dedication ceremony for the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater just a few blocks from our doorstep, he grew up in this neighborhood. We got to see Paul Kantner hold a family re-union of sorts in honor of Garcia, performing the best from the original Jefferson Airplane and Starship days, very moving.
I collected plenty of cash perks and free electronic goodies for exceeding sales goals at Good Guys!, including a new Canon digital camera, Archos 20Gb MP3 player, Yamaha multi-zone audio amplifier and a complete set of Klipsch speakers for surround sound. Publicly traded Good Guys! was bought-out and taken private by CompUSA shortly after I joined the company, and they began to gradually dismember and shut down this once proud organization.
No matter, once settled in San Francisco my impetus switched to hooking back up with the Pro-Video and Broadcast community. I briefly acted as an independent sales agent for my old friends at Teranex who have been acquired by Silicon Optix. I tried to stir up some interest here in Northern California for their high-end broadcast products but without much success.
Overly eager to escape the retail world of working nights and weekends, rather than wisely waiting for the best full-time opportunity, I impatiently grabbed at the first offer, and blundered into joining Pacific Coast Visions - a Manufacturer’s Rep firm in the Broadcast, Industrial and Pro A/V marketplace. Calling on over 100 Northern California channel sales and designer/consultant partners for top flight OEMs including AutoPatch, Winsted, Chyron, and Hitachi was my primary responsibility. Traveling within an extensive territory, I demonstrated product and trained dealer sales staff while providing quotation support and manufacturer liaison.
Prior to my hire, this territory had gone completely fallow due to illness and neglect. Even though I cleaned up the account list, sought out new business and built sales back up from zero in short order, the best re-sellers in my territory were hoarded by the managing director as his own accounts, which severely limited my commissions.
I started looking for a better paying job, the boss found out and preemptively let me go as of December. Well, at least I’m not completely unemployed; I also write web content for B&H Photo in New York City. Right now I’m studying to upgrade my technical certifications while looking for a new Sales Engineering opportunity. If you know of a video equipment manufacturer looking for a West Coast based technical sales guy, tell them I’m available! Thanks!
Kelly and I took a full day tour of the Hoover Dam during the weekend run-up to NAB 2005. Kelly won a jackpot while I did my tours of manufacturer client booth duty, too bad she was only playing nickels!
It is too cold and cloudy and wet up here in San Francisco to recreate the sub-tropical fruit orchard I had in Val Verde, or even grow many of the sunshine and heat loving vegetables that did so well in southern California, but I’ve started to push the envelope just a bit. In the veggies department we get to grow almost year-round crops of fancy lettuce, artichoke, snow peas, bok choi and broccoli. Surprising successes this summer were edamame soy beans and romano green beans. Root crops or corn? Forget about it. Tomatoes? Let’s just say that this year I will try one of the newer mildew and virus resistant hybrids!
Fruit-wise after much research I purchased a variety of Banana from India called Raja Puri which is reputed to be fairly cold and wind resistant, so far as of this writing my three babies are holding up nicely. We have Passion Fruit, a multi-grafted apple tree, two varieties of plum, a Black Jack fig, Izu Persimmon, Kiwi, Grape, and a Cherimoya I started from seed.
While I seem to have finally escaped from the packs of fruit tree climbing coyotes and root munching gophers that plagued my garden in Val Verde, here in the city of San Francisco we have racoons. Racoons! Who knew? These brazen beasts made sushi out of our little pond goldfish and lay claim to every fig that turns so much as half ripe.
Also, from seed but still in pots awaiting the warmer ground of spring are Loquats, Mango (yeah I know – no chance!) Macadamia, and Dates. The Ice Cream Bean tree lives indoors. We plan to order a new variety of Jujube in January. The rare fruit growers club is very active up here, Kelly and I have toured some lovely gardens and gone on tastings of apples, mushrooms, grapes, figs, dates and pomegranets at local homes, farms and the Germoplasm Repository.
Kelly’s half of the yard is teeming with every variety of herb and spice you could ever want in a kitchen garden, tucked neatly between roses and butterfly bushes and bulbs, all those flowery girly plants you see in the California gardening magazines. The inoculation of Oyster mushroom spawn we dug into a trench last year bore first fruits in September.
In June Kelly and I spent a weekend in Yosemite. The background image on this page is a photo of Half Dome I took during our hikes. This was reportedly the best time in the past one hundred years to see the waterfalls, and we hiked many miles to see them all. Like the Sequoias, it was all too beautiful for words and too big for photographs or videos, you simply must go and see it.
October Fleet Week brought the Blue Angels to town, and we joined the throngs lining the Embarcadero to thrill at the power and grace of these aerial acrobats. For Thanksgiving Kelly’s family continued their tradition of renting a community center at Marin Beach for a “bring your assigned courses” feast. Between dinner and dessert we hiked down to the water for a perfect west coast sunset.
Just a few weeks ago we visited my parents in Lake Worth Florida. The lush tropical vegetation took quite a beating from the last small hurricane that passed through, but damage to the house was limited to roof tiles. We all spent a day at Butterfly World, one of the coolest touristy things you’ll ever see. They breed their own rare butterflies and you walk among the fluttering swarms. There are also aviaries full of hummingbirds and lorikeets. The lorikeets were hilarious, like feathered kittens, wrestling each other and tasting the human visitors.
That’s it for now; hope to speak with each of you sometime soon . . .