Category Archives: Home & Family

Family & Home related items.

Quasimodo for a Day

First Unitarian Universalist Steeple, Providence, RIWe arrived early, much earlier than we normally do. On a typical Sunday, I’ll drop Jack off and then drive a few blocks to find an open spot and get into a pew just as announcements are finishing up. Today we were early as we thought today was the field trip for Jack’s Sunday school class to a local Mosque. But today was the day the permission slips were due. So, we were a half hour early. And it was very lucky for us that we were!

Shortly after 10, a woman came through and asked if anyone wanted to go up and ring the bell. I beat the kids to saying, “Sure!” and after rounding up Jack, two other kids, me and Ann, we headed to the steeple.

The current building was built in 1816 and survived significant fire damage in 1966. Climbing up into the steeple was a trip in a time machine back to the nineteenth century. The higher we climbed, the more I felt I had to squeeze myself into tinier and tinier spaces. And the steps got smaller and steeper as well. But after 98 steps (yes, I counted, why do you ask?) we arrived at the top and had a glorious view of Providence on all sides.

First UU BellThe bell itself was one of the last, and largest, cast by Paul Revere and his son in the early 1800s. It weighs one or two thousand pounds (I forget what she said). When rung, it was a lovely tone but I am getting ahead of myself.

The kids had a blast looking out at the city and Ann and I played tourist taking lots of pictures. When 10:15 rolled around much too fast, we headed back downstairs to ring the bell.

Providence, RIA large rope went up through the ceiling above and to the pulley system attached to the bell. You give the rope a good heave down, as if you are trying to throw it through the floor) and on its way back up, the bell rings. When the rope stops moving up you grab it again (don’t hold on or you will either get rope burns or go for a ride in the air!) and repeat the process. The kids did most of the work, each taking turns to do a few pulls in succession, but I also got a good run of rings as well.

The Afflecks in the Bell TowerAfter five minutes we were done and it was time to complete the trip back down to the meeting house. I don’t know if or when I will get back up there but it was such a wonderful, fun experience. I highly recommend it!

A Leap

A Leap

Since we returned to New England in late 2005 I’ve been working as an IT Project Manager in Big Pharma. Three years at Pfizer, one at Merck, and then one more back at Pfizer again. I’ve learned a great deal and made many great connections and more than a few good friends in the process and I could happily continue on this path were it not for an old friend from college.

My current contract at Pfizer is a quick three month stint up in Cambridge, MA, my old stomping grounds from grad school. I don’t actually mind the commute, I’d recently become an addict and I’ve “read” a great many books thanks to the drive. And I also got to see many old friends (and hopefully will see a few more before my last day next Friday). But because the contract is only 3 months, I started looking for my next contract almost immediately. I’ve learned in this line of work that you always keep looking for new work and that you make every effort to have the next gig lined up when the current one ends so you have no unpaid downtime. Last year it didn’t work out that well and I ended up having to leave Merck sooner than I’d wanted to start a high profile project at Pfizer.

Early into this process my cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and was floored. It was Joe, a buddy of mine from college I hadn’t spoken to in something like 17 years (no, I am not counting that initial, “Dood! How you been?!” message that is mandatory for all Facebook reconnects). I answered and everything changed.

Long story short, I am joining Joe on a four month sprint to get a new service to market that is web-based as well as iPhone- and Android-based. I jokingly tell friends, “I’m going to write an app with a friend from college and get rich!” But the truth of the matter is that Joe has a killer idea and the months to follow are going to be intense and exciting.

So I am sad to be leaving Pfizer (again) and if this venture fails I may yet return a third time. But, I’m filled with optimism and I feel more alive now than I have in some time: I’m taking a risk with a large potential payoff and even though it is scary, it is also exhilarating and something I have desperately needed for some time now.

I never do New Year’s resolutions but I was inspired to do so this year. Ann and I have been pushing hard the last year or so to improve our lives. She’s started taking classes at RISD, I’ve returned to the theater, our son has crossed over from Cub Scouts to a Boy Scout troop, we’re renovating the house Ann grew up in, and other smaller projects as well. The one major area we had not touched was my career. I felt that I needed to push myself so I resolved to change things up, take some risks, and finally move forward instead of playing it safe as I had been. It only took a few weeks into the new year before the opportunity presented itself!

I don’t know what the future holds but I am excited to be taking an active part in it again for myself and for my family.

What’s really fun is figuring out what tools I need to manage a project working entirely on a Mac. At Pfizer and Merck everything was Windows and Sharepoint and Microsoft Project and Outlook. Those tools are all fine but now it’s MacOS X and Dropbox and OmniPlan and and BusyCal. I’m playing with Basecamp, Campfire, and Backpack, I’m investigating Flow, and considering a number of other tools (especially ones that interop well with an iPad and iPhone). We’re experimenting with FaceTime, iChat video chat, Skype video chat, and even Xbox Kinect video chat (though that one is a non-starter for many reasons).

And, of course, my days are spent wrapping up my work at Pfizer and preparing the transition plans because, of course, once we were well down the road to making this a reality, they extended my contract. Between days working for Pfizer and nights planning the new venture and taking my son to Karate classes, Troop meetings and campouts, working crew for the latest Swamp Meadow Community Theatre show (Footloose), and helping back at the Pack as an Assistant Den Leader for the Bears I am pretty busy. But it’s a good busy and am having a great time.

So, that should explain why I’ve been so quiet on this site for a bit. And why I almost certainly will continue being quiet for the next while.


Playing “Small World”

House decorated for Halloween

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Bobbing for Apples

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Karate Boy Playing the Violin

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Now, that’s a cupcake. (Cranston Whole Foods)

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Jack and Phil Crabbing in Narragansett.

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Ann and me on Ann’s Birthday

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First sip of pumpkin chai of the year

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