Posted in Thoughts, Timeline

Hiring a hit man … Illegal??

I found this short paragraph on tumbler, written by “theconcealedweapon” and found out meaningful and crisp enough to share it here with you.


Think about why it’s illegal to hire a hit man.

All you’re really doing is speaking and giving someone money.

It’s legal to speak.

It’s legal to give someone money.

Even if they actually complete the job, you’re not the one who committed the murder.

So why is it illegal to hire a hit man?

Could it be because inciting violence is not protected under free speech?

And if that’s the case, why should free speech protect Nazis advocating genocide?

Posted in Timeline, Travel

It’s not a big deal, it’s a HUGE deal – our visit in Ashland

Google Pictures LINK

As we now have our San Jose house on the market for sale, we are making some use of this time to the country we are about to leave as well as visiting “fellow Bay Area exiters“. Our friends the Kuwabaras moved to Ashland Oregon and they were nice enough to host us for a week. Seeing them and seeing Ashland was great. What topped it off seeing and being with them and their kids is not something we have done before and it was “not a big deal, it’s a HUGE deal“, as Nikko, their youngest son coined a new phrase for us.

Moving into the home Yu grew up in after doing some pretty intense overhauling seems like a great thing to do and they did that while living in their Van for a while, then moving in as the work goes on. Ashland is an interesting town in the south of Oregon, in the middle of some amazing mid-sized mountains. A University, small stores and interesting places to be and stay, parks and what seems like a pretty amazing sense of community in this town. Yu and I made some good use of the weather to get out on a MTB ride, except I used my Brompton for it and seem to live to talk about it.

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We followed it up with a hike through the hills with Mumu to the town of Ashland. They really have a good playground here, right in front of their doorstep.

There is Mount “A” withing 30min drive and it offers plenty of SKi fun for all levels and community fun in the hut with music, food, and drinks. It’s even ok to bring your own food and drinks there, as long as you show up and be part of the fun. The Ski area is now owned by the city of Ashland and just needs to break even in terms of financing. What a difference that makes to the people that come and the climate you create in a Ski hut. I love the idea and loved it there.

One trip to Crater Lake with Yu renewed my love for this place. It’s simple and there is not so much to do in winter unless you take skies and hike along the rim, from one peak to the next. But it is amazing and impressive, spiritual and beautiful. Crater lake was formed from a much taller Vulcano that spewed out so much lava that the top, now nothing more than a shell collapsed and created a concave  structure, now the Crater lake.

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We got to meet some of their childhood friends one evening ina Potluck. These guys, I think, choose a good spot to move to.

We moved on to Portland for a few days and meet up with Janel and Chris who are feeling out, if exiting the Bay Are towards Portland is what they want to do. We are more than glad in assisting this process a little with some bike trips in the area and some beer tasting. I want to be really sure we do thorough testing.

But already on the first night, our little Fiat 500 showed signs of weakness and refused to start. I will have to look into what the problem might be.

Posted in Timeline, Travel

Physical work in the Silicon Valley

Google Photos LINK

So Mumu and I are back united in California. After a pretty stressful time in Italy to get the next phase of the house purchase accomplished, I slept almost for a day straight afterward, I made my way to California again. December 17th it all started. Hands-on hard work in the Yard to get all the work done that did not happen during the year we tried to rent the house and it was a nightmare, and also nothing got done at all in the yeard. 10 days of hard work for Mumu and me to get only the front and back yard in shape. I totally underestimated the time it would take. We had our favorite painter cover the amazing colors inside with a creamy white. It was hard to see, but it was needed to be able to sell. The inside also needed still a number of changes and we spent maybe a week to get all that done. We moved our matres from the garage into the bedroom and off we went to the Yoga Teacher training we signed up for; 21 days & 8.5 to 10 hours every day talking about Yoga and doing Yoga and teaching Yoga to others. I could not believe it how intense it all was. The group of people there was nothing short of amazing. From all ages and all corners of the world, smart and sensitive people got together to learn about how to teach Yoga to others the best and safest way. It was held in Santa Cruz, but we only got to see a little bit of the sun over lunch and we went back into the studio for some more Yoga talk.

Last week we finished all the nitty-gritty in the house to get ready for the stager and photographer. But then it happened, 2 women came to the house and showed interest in the house. Muriel showed them around and they went on their way. In the afternoon the same woman came again, this time with her husband. We walked them through the house and yard again ==> Result was “I want to buy the house”. Real Estate agents came into the picture, another visit with the whole family, then an offer was made and we accepted it. We got exactly what we asked for. This all without the house being officially being on the market. Fabulous. -5 days and we have a buyer. -2 days and we have deposit money in the escrow account. WOW. Two more meetings of the buyer’s family and agents, still they are very excited to buy. WOW.

We now moved out of the house and in with our friends in South San Jose for a week. I finally got a small ride in alone, then today a great hike with my friend Christian in the Milpitas hills. I call it the Qualification Hike. I usually use this one to weed out the slackers when they applied for one of my Trans Sierra speedy hikes. It’s pretty long and challenging in terms of climbing. It also was a little “see you later” to the spring green mountains in our area…..

Posted in Thoughts, Timeline, Travel

From Nürnberg-Germany to Stia-Tuscany with a stopover in Silicon Valley

SILICON VALLEY is in the news almost every day, discussing stories around the technology giants that truly shape our day. Software and its products are what shapes our lives in so many ways, not much of this software is architected in the VALLEY. The hardware is what we touch, is what makes it all possible. The heart of the hardware is silicon chips. No one talks about them much in public view.

As a Silicon Semiconductor Engineer, I came to Silicon Valley in 1996. I was imported from Germany, almost straight from University. I was fresh, able and hungry for challenges. As a well-trained engineer with an innovative mindset, I did not really fit well into the German workforce. I wanted to stir things up, change things, make a difference. After 2 years of working in Germany, I managed to find a way out, a way up. I landed straight in the VALLEY. I made it, I did it, it was a big deal for me to be hired by LSI Logic Milpitas. As proud as you can be, I packed my bags, married my 13 year-long girlfriend and we immigrated to the VALLEY. My supervisor was German as well, my US manager is now my good friend.

I was not even fully landed and I already synthesized hardware-based multipliers for the latest technology test chip, did what I was trained to do. The technology just transitioned from micrometer to nanometer technologies. Gates now were no longer wired up “by hand” but “synthesized”. All that is GEEK talk. Things went really well for me, I wrote up patents,  my way of thinking and working fit really well into the valley of the time. My manager titled me a “cheap copy of a German” and meant it as a compliment. With a good strategy, to be sure I solved the right problem and being detailed enough to solve the problem right. The VALLEY was humming as I saw it. People worked hard and things were moving along at a rapid pace.

After 23+ years in the VALLEY, I am hearing a lot of VC talks in coffee shops, employment interviews over the phone or over WhatsApp on the street. People are working from any and all places imaginable and it seems like the earlier cohesion between people, is not nearly as strong now. Corporations grew more influential over people’s lives and day to day actions. The Valley changed. People needed to do more in less time, people move from one company to the next faster than even 10 years ago. The VALLEY seemed too small and more companies expanded their office locations up the peninsula, up to Sunnyvale, Menlo Park, San Francisco and even further North. What I heard way too many times was; It is so crowded here, it takes me 1.5h for a 30mi drive, it takes me 2 h for a 40mi drive, I don’t drive there anymore it’s just too much time. The accessibility of fun things to do, the quality of life outside of work is what brings so many people here. You work hard, then you play hard. Now the playing hard is much harder to reach. Getting to skiing can be a 5-hour standing expedition, a visit to Yosemite Valley can set you back 6 hours before you know it. Try to visit Napa Valley and you are on the road for 3-4hours. Of course, you do it. It’s your time off.

Any day of the week can look like this. Your boss calls you at 10.30PM to discuss the results of the last release. This call just ends before you need to jump on the call with India, to discuss the feature list of the new version, due to go to QA in 23 days. Then, yes you write up the report of the call because no one else can capture it quite the same way you can and no one was in all the relevant meetings and can bring it down to the point just the way you can. You allow yourself to drop to bed well past 1am. Sleep comes later, much later. The next morning, on the way to the office, you take it easy. You take a “Four Barrel Coffee” in a real cup. It is so relaxing to just sit there and slurp your $3.20 espresso, hand made for you, by your favorite Barrista. You feel good about yourself. Life is so good. Only 2.5 minutes after you got your coffee you are back in the car to finish the rest of your 2hour commute. No, you are not bored as you attend 3 conference calls in sequence and then arrange for your oversee travel next weekend for the PVT release meeting in Taipei. The product your CTO relies on for the next company breakthrough. Then your regular 8-hour job starts in the office at 9.30am. ——- I am not exaggerating. 

In a more generic term, I see people creating their own little bubble, the bubble of work-work-work, only this matters, everybody else needs to be excluded from this bubble. It seems like a sate of deep psychological something. I don’t have a name for it. But the power of this bubble destroys friendships, relationships, wealth and more. In the bubble many people don’t work because they need more money, they work because they are so driven by something, something that drives many so many, manages to destroy their life. The out-of-box thinking that draws people into the VALLEY now ruins the life they were trying to build. It makes me sad. I am also trying to make a point. Any and all your energy is demanded and expected as a bare minimum effort. Just to have the right to work in your position for this company. All your peers work the same or more than you do, so it seems ok to do that, required to do that. It is no wonder I am seeing more people clearly under the influence of drugs, as an escape and also as the only way to stay in the game and keep up with it all, keep up with peer expectations. Some show the signs of drug use more visibly than others. Still many take it regularly. 

In private conversations I hear more people talking to each other and in a clear tone, talking about their EXIT STRATEGY. The way they plan to make it out of this mad circle, out of this VALLEY. Making it out alive. Making it out rich. Making it out sane. Making it out at all.

A responsible way out was what I looked for next. I had a lot of choices but really had no choice if I wanted to stay true to myself. Staying was not an option. The VALLEY was in the process to change my personality, the very core of who I am. My wife and I decided during our last 2 years that we will not let the VALLEY change us and we will exit. We took one year off. We quit the jobs and started our trip around the world. The year was to serve as a tool. A tool to slow down our minds and get us grounded again. From this grounded state of mind, we wanted to make a decision about what to do next. A decision of this magnitude deserves time. It needed to be a process, not an event. In the process of traveling South America, we meet several VALLEY people. All, really all of them used the phrase of EXIT STRATEGY within the first 10 minutes of conversation. It is on so many people’s minds. I was amazed.

Fast forward. We are now exiting. We bought a house in Tuscany, we are on our way back to the VALLEY and we will sell the house of ours in the capital of Silicon Valley. Just to keep our sanity. Just to stay true to ourselves and stay alive.

Take-away: What I am really trying to say or do with this text is, there is still a huge draw to the VALLEY. But there also is a strong outward movement in progress for some time. It is driving the People out of the very jobs that got them here. The very areas they are working in and used to love are turning on them. Some jobs lose the heart and soul, the reason one used to love working there, some are just incredibly demanding, some areas are just too expensive, even for the salaries in the VALLEY. The golden handcuffs of money, company equity, status seem to still work, but the tides are certainly turning, the way I see it.

Amen

(in a secular way).

Whining-is-not

Posted in Timeline, Travel

We got it — Pretty much

Yesterday Dec 13th we finally signed the most committing document of this transaction. Preliminary sales agreement. Stepping away from this would be very very expensive for both parties, and by the look of all involved, no one will.
The days and hours leading up to it were eventful and hectic, even more than I expected. Doing to the bank for money matters two times, finding possibly illegal fence lines on the property (which ended up being fine and good for us), incorrect basic math by the real estate girl and lack of some prior payment records filled my days and hours before Friday 15.30 with more than I bargained for. Then 4 hours at the Notaio with two witnesses, and interpreter for me (she was fine and things worked out, but she was anything but qualified for this job), listening one of the two sellers (a lawyer herself) arguing with the Notario about one or the other wording with true Italian passion, then me listening to the Notario reading it Lloyd 32 pages of contact detail, making corrections as we went and argued. DONE I thought. But no, the next hour was filled with editing the just finished document and reprinting it, then, without any more reading we “blindly” trusted the edits and signed. What a wild ride. I am sure it will all work out, but the process employed is not at all waterproof.
The next milestone is deed transfer and therefore full ownership. May 19, 2020.
I discovered 20-30 Walnut trees and 5 Hazelnut trees and more land that we will own. I am not kidding, this land is huge. Walking from one edge to the other is more than 500m.
May the force be with us…

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Posted in Timeline, Travel

Strides in Europe – Paris – London – Nuernberg

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We are heading for a real Winter here, now. It’s our 1st real fall and now heading for a real winter time. It rained and poured in Poppi, we collected amazing mushrooms and Mumu and I headed for some change in scenery.

Paris, we had the great benefit to be able to stay with Veronique and Sandrine, good friends of Mumu for the 1st 5 days in Paris area. A super warm welcome and lots of care for the two of us still coughing and sneezing ones. We held some bread baking sessions and I learned how to make a Kings Cake, we made Lebkuchen together and ate them as well. Mumu and I managed to squeeze a little walk in between rain, but we staid indoors almost all the time. Oh yes, we did rake their leaves, from the property of ~4000m2.

Manu was nice enough to let us stay at his apartment in the center of Paris. It was a little nicer weather these days, but Winter is simply what it is in these areas. Cold and wet, not much sunshine. We had a nice good bye dinner with Manu and Marine, then off to Cassandre and London. My 1st time using the tunnel to get to England. I think it is 50km long and it goes bye in a flash. London was just as dark and cold in weather, but we had Cassandre and Gabrielle to warm our hearts on.

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With the plane to Nuernberg and a warm welcome from Doris and my Mom. Arriving in Moms meticulously clean and organized place is always a happy place for Muriel, and I go my Mom to hug. What can go wrong with that??? Nuernberg showed a pretty nice side so far with cold temperatures but a pretty regular occurrence of SUN. Yepeee.

I always try to go climbing with my friend Kurt here, indoor of course now. So I bought new shoes for it, finally and we already had two sessions. The E4 Climbing Gym is such a great and big place. Rock climbing is a real culture in this area. Sunday I arrived at 14.00 and I am sure there were at least 150 people in the Gym, all ages, all shapes and all skill levels. We even have comic books, just about Rock Climbing.

I also got to pick up my new drivers license and can now buy a car in Italy. YEPEEE. A serious word of praise for German bureaucracy. I am looking for guidelines how to design and build a kitchen were I can hold legally baking classes. I asked at least 10 different people in Italy and I could not get one clear pointer where to find this or really anything intelligent for that matter. Frustrated, I went to go to the Town of Nuernberg and went to the “Ordnungs Amt” (office of order). GOT IT. order Order oRder orDer ordEr ordeR—– Things need to be in order here. I spoke to one lady and she quickly and competently directed me to one floor lower into a room and to a specific man. I asked him if there would be a guideline on how I would have to build a kitchen like this in Germany. Well sure he says. It is EU Verordnung 852/04 Anhang 2 Kap. 1,2,4-12 Read this and you know what you need, he says. But let me give you the gist of it. really easy …… 2 minutes of precise and competent explanation made me smile all the way around. I must have said thank you 10 times into his face, I shook his hand with both of mine and really wanted to hug him. A total of 5 minutes in a German government office gave me exactly what I needed.

ILG

I LOVE GERMANY

 

I miss my bike!!!

 

Posted in Timeline, Travel

Poppi and more Poppi, rides and a LOT OF RAIN

Google Pictures LINK

Mumu and I spent some good times in the Casentino Valley, trying to get some rest into our heads as well as doing some early planning for the hopefully soon to be, new house.

I ran into an Australian guy, Dave, at Poggio di Dante and I showed him around some of the roads I know. Only smooth ones of course as he had this exquisite carbon racing machine, skinny tires and understandably not willing to risk a flat. Our 1st stint was a short ride to Talla, ~22km one way and some climbing. I usually take 1hour to get there and another to get back. Well, I seem to have bought the express train option with Dave and we sipped espresso back at his place after 1 1/2 hours only. I showed signs of the effort, Dave was not even phased. Great talks along the way, whenever I was able to spare a breath of two, made it all worth it and really fun. We went on a few more like this and it is truly much better to suffer in company. I only had company when it was not uphill, as dave seems to light a rocket on his side when it is going up. … You OK is the last thing I hear, and 15 seconds later he is out of sight.

It is clearly turning to be Fall here in the Valley. November is the month of rain here and I think we had more rain in 5 days than we usually have in a whole year in San Jose. There is a reason why Tuscany is so green. Mumu and I were able to squeeze in the one or the other short walk, not hike as we both were downed by some serious COLD bug. I was forced to NAP for 5 days straight, 2 hours each day. We were the coughing and sneezing couple for a while.

We found a rental home for the time we are remodeling the Macia house. A tiny and charming place. The people renting it seem great and very warm. They will not be there most of the time as they live in Florence.

Dave and his family were on a similar trip that we. They were out for 6 months as a complete family. House sold, jobs quit and remote schooling for the kids. What an awesome experience for the 4 of them. They seem to really have tuned into each other and set priorities and managed to pull off a trip like that. Amazing to me, and an inspiration for many I hope. The kids will NEVER forget this trip and come out so much bigger and better than how they started the trip.

Oh, and Mumu is making good progress on riding the Unicycle. The rain really held up any further progress, but this is moving through the phases fine. We are trying to get some type of rhythm into our day, one item is to try to have a semi-regular Yoga practice per day. The local cats help a lot distracting our minds as well. Mumu found out that cat presence does NOT increase the quietness of mind during Yoga.

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We have decided to start moving a little as Mumu got “ants in her pants” and could not really stay in the Valley any longer doing almost nothing productive. SO we decided to go to Paris for a week, stay with Vero and Sandrine, then in Manu’s place. Thank you for all your hospitality. This is amazing! Take the train to Cassandre and Gabriele for an early Thanksgiving party, then fly to Nuernberg for the opening of the Christmas market and some Marita time for me. Mumu will fly to San Jose one Dec 3rd and trying to get the house ready for sale while I will wait to be able to sign the next phase of the house purchase agreement.

It is pretty amazing to me how much on the edge we too still are. Small things set of one of us easily, I am not quite clear what is going on in my head, but I am not at ease. I think it is the lack of a NEST. It will take about another one year, to get to that nest that we both som much desire.