Feb 23, 2015

A Sad Day for a Cat Lover

Not a good time for Goldberg cats. First, mys sister Toby lost her beloved Desdemona a few months ago, then my Mom lost Ginji last month. Well, last week our cat Hobbes passed away. I'd like to believe he passed peacefully in his sleep with no suffering, but I'll never know for sure.

I got Hobbes back in January of 2000 when I was still single. At the time I was living in a small one bedroom apartment and my step-mother, Karen, called to ask if I could help out with something. It seems her ex husband, Frank, had a "tiny little cat" that he couldn't take care of anymore due to health issues and she thought the cat would be perfect for my small apartment. I've always loved cats (we had plenty growing up), but I hadn't actually owned one since moving out of my parent's house years before. And so I said, "Sure, why not!"

I bought a small kitty carrier and went to pick up this "tiny little cat." Imagine my shock when I got there and discovered a VERY large (long, not fat) cat who weighed in at around 23 pounds! As it turns out, the last time Karen had actually seen Hobbes (who was named Cornbread at the time, incidentally), he must still have been a kitten. Oops... As a result, though, I've always assumed Hobbes must have been about a year old when I got him, but I'll never know for sure.

It took the newly renamed Hobbes (named after the tiger in Calvin and Hobbes) a few days to get used to his new environment, but pretty soon he took to jumping onto my bed every night to snuggle as soon as I climbed in and turned on the light. At first, that was the only time he was demonstratively affectionate, but in his later years he started jumping on my lap when I was working on my computer, and over the last year he would always come on the couch whenever I was watching TV in the basement and lay his head on my lap so I could rub his belly for an hour or so.

One funny story is that Hobbes' original owner was a heavy smoker and Hobbes must have gotten used to the smell. Soon after I got him I happened to go to a restaurant where smoking was allowed (this was way back in 2000, remember) and came home reeking of smoke. That was the first time Hobbes started rubbing against me and purring, and I imagine he missed his original owner a bit. Perhaps it also helped him accept me as his new owner.

Hobbes was such a long cat that he could put his paws around doorknobs and used to bat at the security chain on my apartment door (which I eventually had to remove so he wouldn't keep me up all night playing with it). He did eventually develop a bit of a belly over the years, but I was always amazed at just how long of a cat he was.

I'm heartbroken, but as I keep telling my son, Hobbes lived a very happy life, with plenty of food, comfort, love and affection (both given and received). And he will live on in our memories forever.

Jan 26, 2011

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Or, for those out there who (like me) do not actually speak French, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

I really have to remember to update this blog more often so as to not leave readers hanging. Assuming, that is, there are any readers. Nothing like a little existential angst to get your morning started, I always say...

Anyway, the reason for this particular post is to mention that, in fact, nothing much has changed. Despite my fears of losing my job (which seemed like a near certainty last time I posted), things managed to actually work out pretty well in the end. The company that bought my company informed me that I needed to either relocate (to Wisconsin or Toronto) or quit. I had no desire to relocate and fully expected that to be the end of things. Except... It turns out they really did value my contributions and want me to stick around, and this wasn't just a ploy to avoid having to pay unemployment benefits. And so, after much discussion, the company agreed to let me keep my job and work from home. Which is exactly what I've been doing for the last six or so months.

I have to admit that working in my basement is not exactly something I was looking forward to (I am a social guy by nature and enjoy face-to-face interactions with co-workers), but so far it has actually been working quite nicely. I still have plenty of interactions with co-workers over the phone and via e-mail, and I find I am actually more productive without the distractions at times. The lack of a commute to and from the office is obviously a plus, although I was actually starting to look forward to that commute after buying a Chrysler 300C AWD (with the 5.7 liter 340 HP Hemi engine) a few months prior to the change. Seriously, though, now that Joshua has started Kindergarten, it has been extremely convenient to be able to drop him off and pick him up without having to worry about running late due to traffic or other problems. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Speaking of Joshua, he is really enjoying Kindergarten and doing quite well at it. Jun was concerned because he didn't seem to grasp the concept of reading before starting Kindergarten, but he picked up on it very quickly and is now reading at least at a first grade level. His teacher says she has never had a kid as bright as Joshua in her class, although he is still a bundle of hyperactive energy and we may need to do something about that at some point. I hate the thought of giving him drugs such as Ritalin to help him calm down and focus, since I really see that as a failure on my part. And Jun agrees with me 100%. What society labels ADHD is what used to just be called "normal" not too long ago, and neither of us want to drug him just so the pharmaceutical industry can keep making money. But we'll see what happens. Right now, his hyperactivity isn't affecting him academically (although it's certainly likely to cause social problems at the very least). If and when it does, well, we'll burn that bridge when we come to it, I guess.

May 1, 2010

Four More Years Pass and Life Changes

And suddenly, it's 2010! In the past 4 years we moved from Malden to Melrose (2 miles north) and bought a house large enough for Jun's parents to move in with us. Which they have done.

Joshua is now five years old and will be starting kindergarten in the Fall. He is a nonstop ball of energy! Very smart, but extremely active and talkative. It is an effort most days to get him to settle down.

My job was going along swimmingly. I was promoted to the position of "Director of Product Management" with the responsibilities of overseeing the entire Technical Writing department as well as remaining an individual contributor for a number of product lines. Back in 2009, my company acquired another company, which increased the number of people reporting to me. I was reporting directly to the Chief Technical Officer/Senior VP of Engineering and felt like I was able to make significant contributions to the overall quality of our products. Things were, in a nutshell, really looking up for the future.

Sadly, that is apparently coming to an end now that my company has itself been acquired by a competitor. They have offered me a similar (perhaps even better) position with the new company, but the Boston office will be closed in the very near future and I would likely have to relocate to Wisconsin or Toronto to accept the position. Given the fact that Jun is fully employed with a good job of her own, her parents have moved in with us, my parents still live here in Boston, and a host of other reasons, I don't think I'll be able to take them up on their offer. And so, the next phase of my life begins. I'm tempted to just take the summer off and relax with my son before he starts kindergarten, but we'll see...

May 6, 2006

A Long Overdue Update

Man, I really need to update this page a bit more often! The main problem, of course, is that when I first started this page I honestly felt my life was pretty much over. Not that I felt like I was dying, mind you, simply that I was single, had a steady job, and really didn't see any prospects for getting married, having children, changing careers, etc. Life does have a way of surprising us, though....

Anyway, Jun and I got married on April 26, 2003 and had a wonderful honeymoon in Vegas. We wanted to travel to Europe, but she was still on an H1B visa and didn't want to risk traveling outside the U.S. for fear they wouldn't let her back in. So, we went to Vegas and stayed at the Venetian and visited the Paris, the Luxor, and all the other themed casino/hotels, and it was like a poor man's hallucinogenic tour of Europe. Kinda, sorta.

Right after the honeymoon, we moved into our very own home in Malden, Massachusetts. Jun was actually living in Malden when I first met her, so she knew the area pretty well and felt comfortable about it. Plus, it wasn't very far away from where I was living before (meaning my commute to work wouldn't dramatically increase) and it was on the subway line (meaning Jun could get to work easily as well). The house is definitely a starter home (it's actually a townhouse/condo, one of three units joined together), but it suits our needs. For now.

Not much changed for awhile until, of course, Jun got pregnant. I won't go into all the details of the pregnancy. Suffice to say we all survived more or less in one piece. And the end result was an absolutely adorable little boy named Joshua Jinlong Goldberg who officially joined the human race, kicking and screaming, on January 31, 2005.

At the same time, Jun's parents moved in with us for an extended year-long stay. Again, no details, but suffice to say we all survived more or less intact, and they're gone now.

Right after Joshua was born, I ceased getting much sleep. Which is, of course, to be expected. For many months I felt like I was a member of the living dead zombie club -- always tired (especially in the evenings), no energy whatsoever, headaches, you name it. I tried to compensate by increasing my daily intake of Mountain Dew, but it didn't help. Finally, around July or August of 2005 I went to see the doctor to have my blood pressure checked because my headaches were getting worse and weren't going away. As it turned out, my blood pressure was a bit high, although not horribly so. Unfortunately, the doctor also told me that I was a bona fide diabetic, just like my father and older brother. No big shock there, I guess, but still not the news I wanted to hear. To make a long story short, I immediately stopped drinking Mountain Dew and went on a reduced carb diet. After 5 or 6 months of this, along with a daily regimen of a drug called Metformin (a.k.a. Glucophage), I managed to drop close to 30 pounds. When I went to the doctor, she informed me that my blood sugar was back to normal (as was my blood pressure and cholesterol) and that technically I was no longer a diabetic. Of course, since I was still taking the medication and reducing the sugar in my diet, I knew that I was only one Mountain Dew away from becoming a diabetic again, but it was nice to hear. Since then I've tried and failed to lose any more weight (mostly for vanity's sake, but I'm sure it would also be healthy to do so), but at least I've managed to keep the weight I've lost from coming back. A big part of that is simply the fact that I've never gone back on the Mountain Dew. I was drinking 30-40 ounces of the stuff per day for many, many years, and I'm convinced that it single-handedly caused my diabetes. It is pretty much pure sugar water, after all.

Anyway, that's about it for me. Jun has her own issues, of course, but they're not for me to discuss in an open forum such as this. Joshua is now 15 months old and he's running all over the place and keeping us busy. He babbles a lot, but isn't really saying much intelligible yet. And he's still completely adorable. I'm still at the same job, and my responsibilities have expanded so that I'm now managing a department consisting of two other writers. After getting married I stopped buying any more pocket watches, since we're trying to save money toward a larger house in the next couple of years. Instead, I picked up a new hobby involving photo manipulation (a.k.a. "Photoshopping") which is a lot of fun and doesn't cost nearly as much as collecting antique clocks and watches. And, just recently, I officially opened Barry's World, my on-line store at Cafepress.com. There you can find all sorts of merchandise, including t-shirts, hats, mugs, posters, etc., emblazoned with my original designs. Cool, huh?

Oct 11, 2002

We Interrupt This Program for an Important Announcement!

We interrupt this program to bring you an important announcement... On Wednesday, October 9, 2002, at approximately 7:30 P.M., I asked my girlfriend, Jun, to marry me. And she said yes! I'm still in a state of shock, let me tell you. It has only been a little over three months since we first met each other, and I know a lot of people are saying, "Three months? You hardly even know her!" But we both feel that this is the right decision to make. Both of us are old enough to know what we want in life (I am 36 and Jun is 33), and neither of us want to wait a couple of years before taking this step. And, most importantly, we love each other very much and really do feel incredibly comfortable and compatible with each other. We have not set a date yet, other than to say that it will be sometime next year, and in spite of the speed of our engagement we don't want to rush into marriage. At the very least, there are gobs of plans to be made, not to mention the logistics of getting all the family members together in the same place.

I'm not going to describe our entire courtship, but let me just mention a few tidbits:

  • As I mentioned in my previous entry, Jun and I have either seen each other in person or talked on the phone pretty much every day for the last two months. When we talk, it is often for an hour or more, and when we get together it is often for the entire day. I suspect we have spent more time together in the last two months than most couples do in six months.

  • Two days before I proposed, Jun told me that she talked to her father and that, based on what her mother had told him when she returned to China, he likes and accepts me. This was apparently for three important reasons: I don't smoke, I don't drink, and I don't go to church (and no, the irony of that last reason doesn't escape me)....

  • After I proposed, Jun told me that, while it wasn't "love at first site" on her part, she quickly grew to love me. She said that the defining moment when she knew she wanted to marry me came when I took her to meet my mother for the first time and she saw how well I treated my mother. Jun felt that this was the best indication possible of how I would treat her.

What can I say? All my life it seemed that whenever I met a woman I liked, she had no interest in me, and the women who did express an interest in me were all women I just didn't find attractive (and no, I'm not just talking physical attraction). For years I've worried that I was being too picky, or that maybe I had a subconscious fear of commitment that caused me to avoid women who might actually be interested in me. It seems, however, that it really was just a matter of finding the right woman. Jun is not perfect, any more than I am. But I truly think that she is perfect for me. And, wonders of wonders, she actually seems to feel the same way about me.

Sep 13, 2002

Time Really Does Fly

Wow, I guess time really does fly, whether you're having fun or not. It's hard to believe almost two years have gone buy since I last updated the information on this page....

Anyway, first comes the boring stuff. I've been working at my new job for almost two years now and I've really been enjoying it. I had only worked as a contractor for two months when they asked me to come on-board as a regular full-time employee. If I were cynical I'd say that they simply were tired of paying me consultant rates (I typically work 45-50 hours per week), but I think they just really liked the quality of my work. My original manager -- the guy who hired me -- ended up leaving the company a couple of months later and they decided to reassign me to a different manager rather than hire a replacement for my old manager. It was a bit difficult at first, since my new manager knew nothing about my background or why I was hired, and basically treated me as "just" a technical writer. I soon showed her that I was much more than a mere technical writer and she came to depend on me for a variety of different tasks. At which point, of course, they finally decided to hire a new manager and transfer me again. This time, though, my previous manager was around to tell my new manager what a fantastic worker I was, and the transition was very smooth. I receive plenty of compliments on my work, both from co-workers and clients, and I really feel like I am making a difference here.

After starting my new job, I decided it was finally time to say goodbye to the Cambridge Madrigal Singers after something like six years. With the longer hours I was working, it was just getting to be too stressful singing in two different choirs, and I decided that I really wanted to focus on early music. My newer choir, Vox Lucens, exclusively sings Renaissance music, whereas the Cambridge Madrigal Singers (despite the name) sang music from all periods, up to and including contemporary music. Also, I really enjoy the experience of singing with a smaller group that allows me to frequently be alone on my voice part, and this has helped me grow vocally quite a bit.

And then, of course, there's the new girlfriend.... [Hopefully it is not too premature to be writing this, but I suppose I can always go back and delete this section if things don't work out between us, right?] As with most things in my life, there is a story behind the story, so let me start by mentioning that my best friend happens to be from Hong Kong. His name is Fong Yui Moon (Kenny, to his friends) and we lived together for a couple of years while at college. He got me interested in Chinese culture (pop culture, admittedly -- Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat movies in particular -- but culture nonetheless), and in January of 2000 I had the great opportunity to fly out to China to be the best man in his wedding. I'm not sure if it's because of my experiences with Kenny, all those years of watching Godzilla movies, or what, but I've always been very attracted to Asian women, both physically and personality-wise. Not exclusively, of course. I realize that there is an unfortunate phenomenon of Caucasian men "fetishizing" Asian women because of their "exotic" looks and becoming fixated on them as a result, but I honestly don't think that is the case with me. I actually find many different types of women attractive from all different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

Anyway, one of my co-workers happens to be Chinese, and sometime last year I half-jokingly asked him why he never introduced me to any cute Chinese women. He responded that the only cute Chinese woman he knew was his wife, and I couldn't have her. That was the last we spoke on the subject, until a few months ago when he came into my office and asked if I were serious about wanting to date a nice Chinese woman. I said, “sure,” and he told me about this woman he knew. Apparently, his father's best friend (they were college classmates, just like Kenny and I), has a 33-year-old daughter named Jun who has been living here in the Boston area for the last two years and working as a software developer for a large downtown company. Her mother had come for an extended 4 month visit, and was apparently very concerned that her daughter wasn't married yet and wasn't even dating anybody. So, she mentioned her concerns to her husband back in China, who mentioned them to my co-worker's mother (his father passed away a couple of years ago), who then called my co-worker and asked him if he knew any nice single men that he could introduce to Jun. Confused yet? Well, my co-worker told his mother all about me and what a great guy I am, the word eventually made it back down the grapevine to Jun, and she contacted my co-worker to say that he could give me her e-mail address if I was interested.

Well, I hate blind dates as a rule, and I had no idea what Jun looked like or if she even spoke English well or not, but I decided to take a chance and write to her and tell her a little bit about myself. She responded very quickly and told me more about herself, and also gave me her phone number and said I could call her. I called her that evening, and we ended up talking for about two hours. Her English was not perfect, but the fact that we were able to talk on the phone for two straight hours obviously meant that there wasn't much of a language barrier. Now, I don't believe in love at first sight, and I certainly don't believe in love at first hearing, and yet… I could tell there was something very special about Jun. She was intelligent, she was witty, and -- perhaps most important -- she was nice. In fact, she seemed to be the nicest woman I had ever met in my life. Maybe it's a cultural thing and all Chinese women are this nice, I don't know, but she just seemed to radiate an aura of kindness that I could feel through the telephone.

We had a few more lengthy phone conversations before we had a chance to meet in person, and I honestly think I was beginning to fall in love with her before I even met her face to face. And when we finally did meet in person, she was everything I hoped she would be. The first month had its ups and downs as we navigated the cultural divide between us, and at one point the relationship almost came to a complete end due to some miscommunication and misunderstandings between us. Once we cleared up that particular misunderstanding, however, we became closer than ever. We talk on the phone every evening and get together at least once every weekend, the more I get to know her the more I want to be with her.

Jun and I obviously come from very different backgrounds, but we seem to share a common outlook on life. One of the problems I've had since making the decision to stop attending church is that I still believe in living a “Mormon” lifestyle (no drinking, no smoking, no premarital sex, etc.) and have been looking for a woman with a similar lifestyle but who is not overtly religious. Unfortunately, the women I tend to meet either live a lifestyle I am not comfortable with or else are very religious. Jun, however, comes from a very traditional Chinese background that emphasizes family values, and she neither smokes nor drinks (well, at least she doesn't drink often). She was also raised to treat other people with respect (“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) without needing to rely on a belief in God to feel that way. There are certainly differences between us (she prefers comedies and just can't understand my love of monster movies, for example), but these seem to be far outweighed by the things we share. And the level of communication between us is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I've had a chance to meet her mother repeatedly, and her mother seems to like me. And Jun has now met my mother as well as my younger brother and his wife, and they all got along extremely well.

It has only been a few months, and I am fully aware that it is way too premature say anything for sure, but I haven't lost that initial feeling that there is something very special about this woman. I love hearing her laugh and making her laugh. I love the fact that she is not shy about speaking her mind, even when we disagree about a subject. I love the way she makes me feel about myself when we are together, and I love the way she makes me want to be a better person at the same time. And, dare I say it, I think I love her....

Nov 22, 2000

But Wait, There's More!

But wait there's more! I had originally intended to write the main "biography" and then just supplement it with regular "What's New" updates. However, as you can see, there haven't been any updates in a long time, and after four years I feel I need to add to the main biographical information itself.

Where to start? The main reason I haven't updated this page in so long is simply because nothing worth talking about had really happened since my last update [at least nothing I felt comfortable talking about, that is]. Basically, I am still single and I spent the last four years working at the same job, and I just didn't feel there was anything else I needed to share with you, the world at large. I have to admit, though, that I was not being truly honest with myself, and that a lot of it was sheer laziness on my part. Well, that and the fact that there were some things I felt were best left unsaid, at least for the time being. But now there are some things to report, and maybe it's time to just make a full disclosure....

Let's see... First off, as I mentioned above, I am still single. I will admit that in my darkest hours I am starting to wonder if I will remain single for the rest of my life, but I have not given up all hope yet. So if anybody out there knows of an attractive, intelligent woman in the 25-35 year range out there, feel free to send her my way....

Next, I am still singing with the Cambridge Madrigal Singers, but in 1998 I also joined a small "start-up" choir which focuses exclusively on Renaissance music. There are currently ten of us, and up until recently the group had the rather improbable name of Melisuavia's Lips. After a few months of careful consideration, however, the name of the group was just officially changed to Vox Lucens [Latin for "Voice of Light" or "Shining Voice" or something like that.] Anyway, it is a terrific, tight-knit group made up of wonderful musicians, and we really make beautiful music together. The group is small enough that I often get to sing alone on my part, and I enjoy the challenge this gives me. Because it is such a small group we have had some difficulties with members leaving and trying to find replacements in a hurry, but the group is currently pretty stable and will hopefully be around for a long time.

I suppose now is as good a time as any to mention my other hobbies... Back in 1995, when I first got on-line, I rediscovered something from my childhood - Godzilla. When I was young I used to spend every Saturday afternoon from 12:00 - 4:00 watching old monster movies on "Creature Double Feature." Many of the movies scared the living bejeezus out of me and gave me many a nightmare [not to mention a lingering fear of the dark], but I loved them all the same. And Godzilla was always my favorite. Well, one of the things I discovered when I first started browsing the Web was that Godzilla was not only alive and well, but that they had actually started making new Godzilla movies in the late 80's and early 90's - movies I had never even HEARD of, let alone seen. I was able to get fan-subtitled copies of some of these newer movies, and I fell in love all over again. And when I decided to create my own Web site and was looking for something a little different to attract visitors, I decided to make a little Godzilla related site which I jokingly called "Barry's Temple of Godzilla."

It really was just a lark, and I never expected it to become very popular, but the Web site soon took on a life of its own. In 1998 the American "Godzilla" movie was released, along with an unprecedented amount of hype and publicity, and I suddenly found myself in the center of it all. Because my Godzilla site had been on-line longer than just about any other site, it came up first on most Internet searches for "Godzilla." As a result, I started to get flooded with visitors - at one point over 10,000 on a single day! And the e-mail began to pour in from people who, like me, were rediscovering their childhood, as well as a host of younger people discovering Godzilla for the first time. I ended up getting interviewed for the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Herald, and I was even quoted in an article in the New York Times. All of which was nice, but a little embarrassing to talk about. Due to the interest in the site, however, I decided to spend more time on it, and I even ended up writing two full-length cyber novels. These days I tend to look upon the Temple as a finished product, and only update it when news of a new movie comes out. But hopefully the site is big and complex enough to entertain people for years to come without anything new and exciting being added to it.

The other hobby I have picked up over the last few years is collecting antique pocket watches. I had long had an interest in antique timepieces, but I didn't purchase my first antique pocket watch until the Summer of 1997. At first, this was simply a single purchase and not the start of a collection. All that changed, however, when I discovered eBay and the wonderful world of on-line auctions in the Summer of 1998. Up until then I hadn't bought additional watches primarily because I simply didn't know where I could find more at prices I could afford, but eBay changed all that. Suddenly, I could browse through listing of THOUSANDS of watches for sale at any given time, and with a little patience and good luck I could purchase them at reasonable prices. I found I could also resell them on eBay -- sometimes even making a little profit in the process -- when I decided I wanted to "trade up" to a nicer watch. And the more watches I bought, the more interested I became in them. I joined the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors and started attending their various meetings and "marts" to meet with other collectors and learn more about pocket watches. I decided to display my current collection on-line in a special Pocket Watch Collection Page. And I even ended up writing a 40+ page illustrated informative booklet entitled "The New Collector's Guide to Pocket Watches" which has been very well received. Overall a very fun and fascinating hobby, and one about which I am very passionate. Plus, people don't look at me QUITE as strangely when I tell them I collect pocket watches as when I tell them I like Godzilla....

With regard to work, my time with Peabody & Arnold came to an end as of October 31, 2000. I really enjoyed my time there, and I think I accomplished quite a lot. However, my dream of building up a department devoted to document automation design [with me in charge, of course] never came to fruition. Although some lawyers in the firm understood the importance of my work and were able to "catch the vision," as it were, most were still stuck in the old rut of "billable hours." The work I did made things run more efficiently, meaning that an attorney could do the same amount of work in one-tenth the time. Unfortunately, when attorneys are used to charging by the hour instead of by the project, efficiency is not always a virtue. As I mentioned, some attorneys in the firm were willing and able to switch over to a "value billing" fee structure, which meant that the faster they could do the work and take on new work, the better. But this idea just never caught on firm-wide, and it became harder and harder to convince the attorneys to put in the necessary [but non billable] time and effort up front to work with me to develop systems for them. Plus, my job was not really going anywhere. Every year I got a cost of living increase, but that was it - there was no opportunity for growth, and I was never going to make it into management. So, when my boss came into my office and told me that there simply wasn't enough new work to justify my salary, we decided it was time for us to part ways.

Unlike when I left the Capstone Group, this didn't throw me into a state of panic. It helped that I had built up a fair amount of savings and wasn't living paycheck to paycheck this time, but a lot of it was simply that I had now been working for seven years and had a fair amount of experience under my belt. The only problem, of course, was that a lot of that experience was still in a field that few people would recognize or appreciate. I briefly toyed with the idea of looking for another document automation job in another law firm, or perhaps even opening my own consulting firm like the Capstone Group, but I quickly decided that this was the perfect opportunity for me to reinvent myself yet again. Seeing as how I was now seven years out of law school without ever having practiced, my prospects for finding a legal job seemed rather dim. And, to be honest, I'm not sure the idea of practicing law appealed to me all that much anymore. Sure, the thought of making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year remained an attractive one, but having seen the life many lawyers live [or lack thereof, as the case may be, what with thirteen hour days and six or seven day work weeks], didn't fill me with quite as much enthusiasm as it once had.

The problem was, then, what exactly was I qualified to do? I met with a number of recruiters who, because of the "software training" part of my job title, kept trying to pigeonhole me into the role of a "high tech trainer." Well, there were two problems with that... First, most of the jobs for high tech trainers required very specific skills, such as an in depth knowledge of C++ or Java programming, as well as a lot of experience with cross-platform software installation. Now, I could certainly learn those skills, but these jobs were specifically looking for people with 4 or 5 years worth of experience. Second, I really wasn't all that excited about training for a living. Obviously I had done some at Peabody & Arnold, but it really was only a small part of my job and not even the most enjoyable part. I liked writing the documentation and training materials, but standing up in front of a class and teaching never gave me much of a thrill. I mean, I felt I could probably do it full time, but I also felt it wasn't something that would actually enjoy doing. I did end up getting some interviews with companies that were interested in me, but I just wasn't comfortable with the idea of being a full-time technical trainer. Sure, it was better than being unemployed, and the pay would certainly be nice, but I was still trying to think of something else I could do with my life.

After some careful consideration, thinking about the various skills and interests I have developed over the years, I began to think that I should look into technical writing. Basically, I had developed a love of writing over the years (having written two complete on-line novels, a collector's guide to pocket watches and numerous training manuals) and I have always had a love of technology. And so I figured that a job which combined these two interests might be perfect for me. The problem, of course, was finding such a job at a pay level that I could live with. I was not looking for an entry level position, but without specific qualifications as a tech writer it was difficult to get my foot in the door with many of the companies I looked at. In fact, a lot of the companies were specifically looking for people who had years and years of experience with particular programming language [which, to be honest, I thought was a little silly -- if I had 5 years of experience with C++ programming, for example, I'd be better off as a C++ programmer]. Basically, I was looking for a company that would appreciate my years of experience and was looking for somebody who was intelligent, had good communications skills, was a quick learner and who had a general understanding of high-tech issues. Whether there actually WAS such a company out there, of course, was the real kicker.

Well, I think I have found just such a company. I was contacted by somebody from AMICAS, Inc., a local startup company which designs medical imaging management software. They had seen my résumé on-line at one of the various job search Web sites, and they were looking for a senior technical writer. I ended up meeting with the gentleman in charge of hiring for 2 ½ hours, and we really clicked. He said that he was NOT looking for somebody with years of experience in a particular programming language, but instead was looking for somebody who was intelligent, had good communications skills, was a quick learner and who had a general understanding of high-tech issues. Sound familiar? The pay would be a bit better than what I was making at Peabody & Arnold to start, but there would also be stock options and -- most importantly -- the opportunity to grow and take on new responsibilities over time, which would eventually mean a higher salary as well and not just a cost of living increase. It really sounded like a match made in heaven, and after a little consideration I decided to take the job. In fact, I start work on November 29, 2000. Because I don't actually have a lot of experience in technical writing, I will be working as an independent contractor for the first three months. Assuming everything works out, I will then come aboard as a "permanent" employee. Although the thought of working as an independent contractor doesn't exactly fill me with joy, I think it will really work out well. Not only will it give them a chance to see if I can do the job, it also gives me a chance to discover if this is really what I want to do for a living. And if, after the three month trial period, it doesn't work out, neither of us will be any worse off than before. I am assuming., of course, that things WILL work out....

Finally, and this is the hard part, I suppose I need to talk about current religious status. As described above, I was raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [a.k.a. the "Mormons"]. Growing up, I did all the things I was supposed to do -- I went to church regularly, I paid my tithing, I kept the Word of Wisdom [i.e., refrained from alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea]. I even served a two-year mission to share the teachings of the church to other people. Much of my life, including the people whom I associated with and my political views, revolved around the church, and there was never any thought that I would be anything other than a faithful Mormon. I fully intended to find a nice Mormon wife, settle down and have tons of kids like my older brother [six kids and counting]. In fact, I had never even dated a non-Mormon in my life.

Unfortunately, as time went on I found myself growing more and more unhappy with my life. The church is a wonderful institution, and I don't have any problems with it. I think that the things it teaches are very important and that by living the principals of the church one will be a better person. But I just began to feel uncomfortable attending church each week. Part of it was the fact that I was 31 years old and still single, which is considered rather unusual within the church. And, the older I got, the less likely it was seeming that I would ever find a nice Mormon girl [or at least not one who hadn't already been married and had a bunch of kids]. And, as a result, I began to feel a bit out of place, as if something were wrong with me.

More than that, however, was the slow, inexorable realization that most of my life I had followed the precepts of the church not because of any deep and abiding faith on my part, but simply because it was what I was raised to believe. Yes, if I looked carefully I could see what could be interpreted as signs of the hand of God working in the background of my life, but there was no great revelation, no firm conviction that God existed and cared about me in any personal way. I found that, more and more, I was attending church simply to socialize and not out of faith. And I felt like a hypocrite because of that, something which is perhaps more abhorrent to me than any other possible character flaw.

And so, after a GREAT deal of soul-searching, I decided I need to take a sabbatical [and yes, I am well aware of the irony of choosing that particular word] from religion. Basically, I decided I needed to determine how much of who I am is intrinsic to me, and how much is merely a result of my upbringing. If I choose to act in a moral way, if I chose to love my neighbor as myself, is it because I am basically a good person, or is it because that is how I was raised? If I choose not to drink or smoke, is it because I have made an informed decision to avoid those substances out of health considerations, or simply because I was told not to. And if I find the "right" woman to marry someday, will it be because we truly love each other, or simply because we are both faithful Mormons doing what we are supposed to be doing?

Thus, in April of 1998, I told the bishop of my local congregation that I was planning on taking some time off from church. I was not asking to be removed from the rolls of the church, and I certainly wasn't becoming "anti-Mormon." But I just didn't want to disappear from sight and have people worrying about whether I had died or something. I also felt I needed to be up front about my reasons for leaving. The REALLY hard part, of course, was telling my parents about my decision. Not to trivialize the problems of others, but for the first time in my life I began to appreciate the pain and anguish people who "come out of the closet" must experience. Telling my parents that I was basically rejecting everything they had taught me was neither pleasant nor easy, and it actually took me many months before I got up the courage to tell them. In essence, I was afraid they would take it as a rejection of them, personally. Fortunately, however, my parents were very understanding. I think they both are hoping that I will eventually come back "into the fold," so to speak, but in the mean time they have accepted that I am basically a good, decent human being even if I don't attend church any more.

Since that time, I have been on a journey of self-discovery. Sometimes I feel as if I am merely floating aimlessly through life with no direction, while other times I feel a great sense of freedom to do whatever I choose. I still haven't resolved any significant issues, but at the same time I haven't locked any doors behind me, either. As I said before, I don't harbor any ill will toward the church, and there is always a possibility that I will choose to return someday. And in the meantime I haven't joined any other churches, nor do I have any desire to do so. For once in my life I am simply being me, with no labels attached. It's a bit scary, like walking on a tightrope with no safety net, but I kind of like it....

Nov 6, 1996

The Story Continues

And the saga continues! On the last day of May, 1996 I was officially "laid-off" from my job with the Capstone Group. This was done amicably, and was solely as a result of lack of enough business to keep me busy. Back in June of 1995 the company hired a second full-time programmer to work directly with Cliff in the Arizona office. This was done partially because of a perceived inflow of new business, and partially because Cliff really wanted someone to work by his side, and I wasn't willing to relocate to Arizona. The new employee, Dave Johnson, had been out of law school a year longer than me, had been working for another company doing the same sort of stuff, and was from Arizona, so it looked like a perfect match. Unfortunately, almost immediately after Dave's hire, business hit a prolonged slow period. This was not Dave's fault, of course [nor mine, for that matter] -- just poor timing. A number of promising clients fell through or simply dragged their feet before committing. For the next six months it was a struggle to find enough work to keep both Dave and me busy full-time, and there was even talk about a temporary pay-cut for everyone involved.

Things seemed to get back on track after the first of the year, however. The pay-cut never materialized, and it seemed that we were on the verge of landing our biggest account yet. Back in December, I had considered actively seeking a new job, but decided against it. Part of this was do to loyalty to the company. Another part, though was that most of my networking contacts also knew Cliff, and I didn't want word to get back to Cliff that I was looking elsewhere for employment [I was afraid it would turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy...] As things seemed to be on the upswing in February and March, I was glad that I decided not to "rock the boat", as it were.

Then came "The Call". Seems that, yes, things were looking up, and the future did indeed looked rosy, but the recent problems had convinced Cliff that the company really couldn't support two full-time programmers at this time. While I had been with the company longer, the simple fact was that I was 2 ½ thousand miles away, whereas Dave was right there in Arizona... I was shocked, to say the least. Also simultaneously numb and panicked. I had two strong urges competing with each other inside of me: (1) run around like the proverbial headless chicken and try to get out as many résumés as possible, and (2) crawl under my sheets and go to bed for a couple of weeks.

Cliff asked me to sign a "non-competition" agreement, basically saying that I would not contact any of our current or prior clients for a period of 6 months. Basically, he didn't want me calling them up and saying "Hey -- I've been doing the work for you anyway, but now I'll do it for half price if you send the $$$ directly to me instead of to Cliff". In exchange, I would be entitled to keep the various "tools of my trade" which the company had paid for over the years [including software and various hardware upgrades to my computer].

All of my friends and family members were unanimous in their opinion as to what I should tell Cliff -- "Screw him!" they said. Everyone agreed that I should refuse to sign the agreement, buy all the stuff I needed, and then start calling all of the company's current and prior clients. I decided to take the high road, however, partially because I'm just that kind of guy, and partially because I really felt that Cliff was trying to be fair and not trying to rip me off. That still left me without work, however...

My biggest fear was that I would be completely unemployable, due to the highly specialized nature of my skills. Not that my skills aren't useful, but most people don't have a clue what I do [do YOU know what a "practice systems specialist" is?] and putting it on a résumé isn't particularly enlightening.

Well, almost 2 weeks to the day after "The Call", I received an e-mail from Marc Lauritsen, my "other" boss at the Capstone Group. Earlier in the year, he had spent some time training a paralegal at a local mid-size law firm how to design practice systems using the same CAPS software platform we used at the Capstone Group. Well, it seems that the paralegal had announced that she was leaving to go to law school, and the firm was wondering whether Marc knew of anyone in the area who was already trained and might be available. I can pretty much guarantee that Marc would NOT have forwarded this info on to me if I had gone ahead and told Cliff to stuff it where the sun don't shine...

Well, I contacted the firm, Peabody & Arnold, and they pretty much hired me on the spot [first interview on Friday, second interview the following Monday, offer on Tuesday...] They asked me how much I was looking to make, so I took a deep breath and quoted a figure between 10 and 15 thousand more than what I was making over at The Capstone Group. They didn't even blink, which made me wish I asked for a heck of a lot more... Anyway, they ended up offering me 13 ½ thousand more than I was making at the Capstone Group, and I started working for them on July 1, 1996. I've been with Peabody & Arnold for four months at the time I'm writing this, and everything seems to be going swell. I like my job, the hours are good, the commute is not too bad [I DO miss telecommuting, though], and the people are, for the most part, nice. I also ended up with much better benefits than I had with The Capstone Group. My official title is "Software Training and Development Specialist," and I split my time between designing document automation systems and training attorneys on the various software applications we use in-house.

As a side benefit, I was hired to work specifically with the law firm's business law department. Although I spent most of my time with The Capstone Group designing estate planning systems, I focused on business and corporate law while in law school. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would never have a chance to work in that area of practice...

So, now I'm working at a better job, with better benefits, more stability, and a better salary. And yes, I DID call Cliff up and thank him for laying me off when he did...

Overall, I can't help thinking that the Lord has a plan for me. I do wish, however, that he would let me know a bit about it ahead of time. It would certainly save me a lot of panic and anxiety...

Oct 8, 1995

The Story So Far

I was born on June 29, 1966 in Natick, Massachusetts, which is about 15 miles outside of Boston. I suppose that makes me a Cancer, but I don't believe in astrology (Cancers are noted for their skepticism). Both my parents were Jewish, but they converted to Christianity when I was 4 years old. I, myself, was baptized at the age of 8. Whether I am still truly "Jewish" is a matter of debate. According to many people, one is Jewish if (and only if) one is born of a Jewish mother. Although not without exception, this has been the historical determination of whether one is Jewish or not, possibly because in ancient times the Jewish people were commanded not to marry outside of the "House of Israel," and it was easier to be sure who someone's mother is than someone's father. In this sense, I am clearly Jewish (although, interestingly enough, this criterion is most often used to exclude people -- "you can't really be Jewish, because only your father is Jewish"]. Personally, this is the viewpoint I adhere to, and I consider myself to be Jewish as a matter of birth, heritage and bloodline.

According to other people, however, being Jewish is primarily a matter of belief [hence the Sammy Davis, Jr.'s of the world]. According to this view, then, I "gave up" being Jewish when I converted to Christianity. This view, by the way, is held both by mother, who converted to Christianity, and my grandmother, who did not. My mother's views are, I believe, a direct response to Hitler's attempts to wipe out the Jewish "race" during the holocaust -- since Hitler kept referring to the Jewish people as a separate [inferior] race, my mother and many other people now reject the idea of Jewish people being a separate race together with everything else Hitler said. Personally, I think this is a case of throwing out the baby with the bath water. I have no problem with thinking of Jewish people as a separate race -- it's the "inferior" part and the "they should all be wiped out" part which I reject. What I find most interesting is that many people (including my grandmother) who no longer consider me Jewish themselves do not follow many of the core Jewish beliefs. For example, my grandmother, who escaped from Germany during the Holocaust, but lost most of her family, is an avowed atheist.

In any case, I grew up in a Mormon household [which, contrary to what some people may think, is a Christian faith -- "Mormon" is a nickname for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]. I have one older brother, Michael, and two younger siblings -- a younger brother named Jonathan, and a younger sister named Toby. I attended Bennet- Hemenway Elementary School, Henry Wilson Junior High School, and Natick High School, from which I graduated in 1984. I was admitted to the National Honor Society my senior year, although, to be honest I didn't really apply myself academically -- I tried my best to get by with as little work possible. Fortunately [or not, depending on your point of view], I was intelligent enough to get away with this, and aware enough to know what things absolutely had to get done, which is to say I did manage to graduate. I also got quite involved with music, and sang in two high-school choirs and had leads in two musicals ("Lazar Wolf" in "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Judd" in "Oklahoma") I also sang at Districts and All-States for each of my three years at the High School.

After high school I attended a year of college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. I declared my major as chemical engineering, primarily because I had taken a lot of science and math courses in high school and didn't know what else I could do with my life. I soon discovered that, while I enjoyed the theory behind chemistry, I didn't care for the practical end of things (titration experiments, etc.) I also learned that I absolutely loathed calculus! Needless to say (although I'll say it anyway), I was not a happy camper, especially since I still had no idea what else I could do with my life! The only really positive part about my freshman year was singing with the BYU Concert Choir, directed by Mack Wilberg.

After my freshman year (which I finished up with something like a 2.4 GPA), I took 2 years off from school to serve a voluntary mission for my church, preaching the Gospel. Missionaries aren't given a choice as to where they will serve, or even in what language. I had secretly hoped that I would go somewhere foreign and exotic where I could speak English, since I had tried learning Spanish in high school and had failed miserably. Someplace like England or Australia would have been just fine with me. Of course, I ended up being sent to Idaho, where I was asked to teach in Spanish. I spent two months of preparation at the Missionary Training Center, primarily learning how to speak Spanish. My first day there I was told to visit MTC president (President Bishop), who gave me a special blessing. As part of the blessing he blessed me with "the gift of tongues" so that I might be able to do those things I had been asked to do. The amazing thing was that within 3 weeks I was speaking Spanish fluently, and by the time I left I was speaking it like a native. To this day, many native speakers don't believe me when I tell them I was born and raised here in the United States!

In spite of my success with learning Spanish, however, my mission was probably the most difficult thing I will ever do in my entire life. I've always been extremely annoyed at telemarketers, door-to-door salesmen, and especially missionaries from a certain other church (which shan't be named, but suffice to say their representatives don't take "no" very easily ...). In spite of the fact that I truly believed in the message I was asked to deliver, I constantly felt uncomfortable, essentially doing unto others that which I hated being done unto me. I did have many positive experiences, though, and I don't regret having done it.

While serving my mission, I had a chance to reflect on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Through discussion with some people I came to know and admire, and what I can only call personal revelatory experiences, I decided to change my major to philosophy, in preparation for entering law school. This was very scary because I had never done particularly well in English during high school, and I hated writing papers, which I knew would be required of me in both philosophy and law. I also had no idea what sort of law I wanted to eventually practice -- I just knew I should go to law school.

So, I finished up my mission, returned to BYU and switched my major to philosophy. I learned to think analytically and argue logically. I learned to express myself via the written word (although I still hated writing long papers). And I started doing very well, academically. I got a 4.0 one semester, a 3.98 another and ended up making the Dean's list three times. Throughout it all, I continued to sing. In addition to singing with the Concert Choir, I started auditioning for roles in the annual opera productions. My first role was that of Zuniga in Bizet's "Carmen". It was a small role, but a review in a local paper singled me out as bringing an "unusually high quality of singing" to the part. The following year, in the off-season, I got the part of "death" in a small, one-act opera by Gustav Holst entitled "Savitri". The opera only had three characters, and each character was of equal importance. I had been taking voice lessons in the meantime, and my performance was probably the best vocal singing I had ever done. In addition to the operas, I also performed in a couple of award recitals. I didn't win any scholarships (primarily because I wasn't a declared music major), but it was an honor to be asked to perform anyway.

I graduated with a B.A. in philosophy in April 1990, and started law school the following Fall. I had applied to, and been accepted with a scholarship by, the law school at BYU (the "J. Reuben Clark School of Law"). Many people told me I should go elsewhere -- somewhere "more prestigious" -- but, once again, I felt strongly that I should stay where I was.

After my first year of law school, since I hadn't lined up any summer clerkships back in Boston, I decided to stay in Utah and look for summer work out there. Things were not going well. I got a number of interviews, but everyone kept asking "Why are you applying for work out here if you are from Massachusetts?" Of course, firms back home were probably looking at my résumé and thinking "why is he applying for work here if he is going to school in Utah?". Anyway, things were getting a little desperate, financial-wise, and I was in the process of filling out an application for the local 7-Eleven when the phone rang. It was a law professor who needed someone to do a little research work for him. It wasn't much, but it was enough to keep me alive until I could find more work. I worked for Professor Goldsmith for about a month when I received another phone call. This time it was a guy I knew from my undergraduate days as a philosophy major who was also attending BYU law school. He was working for another law professor, Cole Durham, and Professor Durham was looking for someone with a philosophy background to be his research assistant.

So, I started working for professor Durham. I spent a month doing mindless grunt work -- summarizing philosophy texts so he didn't have to read them, helping him clean his office in preparation for a trip to Europe, etc. During this time, Professor Durham was involved in a joint project with another professor who had helped design a computer system for automating various practice areas in the law (called CAPS for Computer Assisted Practice Systems). After I had worked for Professor Durham for a month, the other professor (Larry Farmer) called him with a problem -- it seemed Professor Farmer desperately needed another research assistant for the joint project, but had used up all the hours allotted to him for paying assistants. Was it possible that he could borrow one of Professor Durham's assistants?

So, I started working for Professor Farmer. I started off primarily doing data entry, sometimes thirteen hours at a stretch. I got exposure to the programming language used by the system, however, and eventually began doing some basic programming. I continued working for him after the school year started, until I had to stop because I developed a minor case of carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrists. Professor Farmer told me about a man named Cliff Jones who was his first research assistant 10 years ago, and who now had his own CAPS consulting company in Massachusetts. Although I was still determined to practice law, I met with Cliff over Christmas break. Cliff's company, the Capstone Group, Inc., was very small -- it consisted of only himself and a partner who only worked part-time (I guess that's why he was called a "part"ner, eh?). Oh yeah -- by this time my parents had announced that they were planning on getting a divorce, but that's their story, not mine ...

My final year in law school I decided to actually take the CAPS classes which Professor Farmer was teaching, primarily because I felt bad working for him and never actually taking his class. I really enjoyed the classes, and even ended up getting the highest grade of all the students in the advanced class (I know because I got a nifty little certificate in the mail). For my final project I ended up working with Cliff Jones' part-time partner at the Capstone Group, Inc., Marc Lauritsen (who was also a Senior Research Associate for Practice Technology at Harvard Law School at the time). I found that all the logic classes I had taken as a philosophy major really helped in computer programming. Of course, it was still just a side-light -- at most, I thought, I could do a little programming on the side when I get a real law job...

And so it went, until three days before law school graduation. I still hadn't lined up a job, and I was debating whether to go back to Boston, where the job market was incredibly tight (we were right in the middle of the Recession and Massachusetts was listed as having the worst economy in the nation), or possibly to Washington state, where I had received an offer to do some part- time work which might possibly turn into regular employment. What to do, what to do ...

And then, fate intervened, in the form of a Pontiac 6000 going upwards of 60 mph. You know, Chevy Sprints aren't bad little cars, I mean they get great mileage and everything, but trust me, you DON'T want to be driving in one when you are sideswiped by a Pontiac 6000!!! The last thing I remember was pulling up to an intersection, looking both ways, and thinking "as soon as this car on the right goes by, I can go." The next thing I know, I'm flat on my back, totally blind, and being loaded into an ambulance. I apparently suffered a concussion, which would explain both the temporary blindness (I could see by the next morning) and why I have no memory of the actual crash. I also ended up with my pelvis fractured in three places.

Well, my parents were planning on coming out to Utah for my graduation anyway. Instead, they ended up coming out a few days early to pack up everything I owned (well, almost everything, but, hey -- they tried) and ship it home. I stayed in the hospital for eight days until I was stable enough to get on an airplane, and then I flew home to stay with my mother (by this time my father was living in his own apartment). I did end up graduating [cum laude, no less!] -- I had taken all my finals except one, which they let me waive -- and the Dean presented me with my diploma at the hospital.

So there I was -- living with my mom, confined to bed, in pain, no job, no social life, no nothing. I couldn't even take the bar review course, because I couldn't sit up for long periods of time. After some thought, and a lot of encouragement from my father, I decided to sign up to take the bar exam anyway. It wasn't until July, which was three months away, and it only cost about $200 (as opposed to the $1300 they charge for the review course). I figured that I would most certainly not pass, but at least it would better prepare me for the next time I took it. I bought a generic multi-state bar review book to study the multiple-choice portion of the test, but I had no materials with which to study the Massachusetts-specific essay portion (worth one-half of the total score). All I had were my class notes from BYU law which, considering all the hype about the absolute need to take a state-specific review course, did not exactly instill me with a great deal of confidence.

So, I took the bar. By that time I was finally off crutches and allowed to walk with a cane, but it still hurt to sit for long periods of time. The bar exam itself consisted of four three-hour sessions over a 2 day period. I rushed through the answers for each section as quickly as I could, finishing about an hour early for each section, at which point I would stand up and find someplace to lie down. I'm sure people who saw me leave early every time got a little ticked off at me, thinking I was showing off how quickly I took the test. I would have liked to have stayed and checked my work and spend more time on the essays, but I was too sore to stay sitting.

And you know what? I passed. I can think of 4 possible reasons for this: (1) I am, like Wile E. Coyote, a "super genius"; (2) BYU really prepared me well; (3) The bar really isn't as hard as its cracked up to be, and the entire bar review course thing is a total scam; or (4) the Lord was really helping me. I don't know for sure, but I'd like to think it was a little of each.

Well, the bar results didn't come back until late October and, while I was waiting, I talked to Cliff Jones some more. He said that, although they were not prepared to hire me full-time, they could offer me some part-time independent contracting work. That was just fine with me, since I wasn't physically ready to work full-time, anyway.

In January of 1994, Cliff and Marc officially asked me to work for The Capstone Group as a full-time, salaried employee, and I started designing legal practice systems for a living. The following June, Cliff decided to move his family, and the company, to Arizona, while at the same time I moved out of my mother's house and got my own apartment in Somerville (right next to Cambridge). Marc stayed here as well, and I began working part of the time directly with him, and telecommuting with Cliff the rest of the time.

In many respects, I feel that I lost a year of my life because of the accident. Even my social life was pretty non-existent during that time. But now, everything is pretty much back to normal. I get little twinges when it rains, but I play volleyball for three hours every Monday night. I have joined two local choirs here in the Boston area -- I even traveled to Germany and Switzerland with one of them in October of 1994. And I really love my job! Telecommuting is definitely the way to go. I mean, I get up at 8:00 a.m., take a shower, get dressed, eat a leisurely breakfast while reading the paper, and then "commute" all the way into my living room. My job requires a lot of direct phone communication with our various clients, so I don't even feel lonely during the day.

Was the car accident a "blessing in disguise"? I don't really know. I do know that if it weren't for the accident I probably wouldn't have this job, and I might not even be here in Massachusetts. Although I felt some pain when I sat too long at one time, I have no memory of the accident itself and was confined to bed until I could walk without pain. I'd hate to think that the Lord has to hit me with a car to get my attention, but you never know ....