Wednesday Jan 21, 2009

Sun Door Closes, Barn Door Opens

And so it will be told, that after 19.62 years with Sun Microsystems, Kimberley left the room.

Yup.   I am outahere.   Hasta la vista!   Sayonara.   Au revoir et salut.   Phir Milenge.   Ciào.   Tschüss.

And what next?   Well, as one sage person reminded me, as one door closes, another opens.   For me, it's a huge barn door.   I have decided to focus on my number two passion in life.   (Number one is my husband and fellow Sun employee, Georg Edelmann).   Yes, it is time to do what some thought I was doing already...   :-)   ...Play with horses all day!

And so, as CEO, CFO, President, Marketing Director, HR Director, and Chief Learning Officer of Kearsarge Meadows in Warner, New Hampshire, I am going to focus on the horse business, at least for a while.   After 32 years in the Computer Industry, I think it's time for a little break.

FY09 Goals will include getting to the US Dressage Federation Championships again.   And WITHOUT a broken toe this time!   Great goal and good fun!

(That's me with a happy face of deep concentration and bright sunshine.)   I'll be spending more time training, teaching, and competing with my favorite KWPN Dutch Warmblood and top dressage partner, Jeddien (by Bustron).   While we are both getting long in the tooth, she continues to enjoy her work, competing, and teaching my dressage students "the moves".

My husband's pet, Piper Warrior (by Ferro), will also get more of my time this year.   His first full year of competition came late in life and is chronicled in my blog Dressage-Queen.blogspot.com.   2009 is going to be a great year for the handsome, lovable boy!

Our two little ones who were born in 2006 will be learning how to carry a rider very soon.   Exciting times ahead for the little critters who have really done nothing much more than.... well, horse around really!

As Jeddien's only offspring, little Bea Yewtee (left) already has a special place in our hearts.   But with her sassy attitude and flashy four white socks, she is destined to follow in Jeddien's hoofprints as a diva in the dressage arena.

Big Ben (right), who had no problem growing into his name, is my big Teddy Bear.   His education is well underway and I'm really looking forward to his future.

For me, the adventure at Sun comes to an end.   International travel.   Great coworkers.   SUNW lows, highs, "retirement prices", and whoops.   Tons of great customer interactions.   Sigma.   Metrics.   Director at last!   (Thank you Diann Olden & Rich Green)   Technology galore.   Dragons.   Scorpions.   Planets.   Two international moves.   British Citizenship!   (Thank you again, Ian White & John Sanders)   Doughnuts.   Beer busts with Scott McNealy in El Segundo.   Town Halls.   PANIC!   (Thank you again, Chris Drake!)   Cooking lessons, including how to convert Thanksgiving turkey leftovers into a fabulous curry!   (Thanks to all my friends & colleagues in Bangalore India!)   And so much more.   But, now, a great new adventure begins.

And so with that, I'd just like to finish by saying "Thank you all for a most exhilarating ride!"

Kimberley Brown
aka Frau Edelmann

Thursday Jan 08, 2009

More Fraud Emails

Whether we work in hi-tech with its deluge of daily email, or just have a private email account through which we communicate with friends, family, and acquaintances, my guess is that most of us get junk email of some kind.   This can include various flavors of fraud and phishing.

Today, while investigating whether the sentiments in an email received were genuine or not, I found the very useful Fraud Guides website.   It was the first I've seen in a while with a nice index of fraud on the left, and links to TONS of informative fraud websites.

While I believe I can still spot a fraud email from 50 paces away, I do wonder....   At what point will the criminals behind fraud emails become clever enough to trip me up?

Until then, I don't think I'll be responding to the nice lady in a developing country who wishes to send her two children to Warner New Hampshire for 2 months of prepaid riding lessons.

PHEW!   'Nearly fell for that one.   Not.

Wednesday Jan 07, 2009

Customer Site Visit at Disney

Seeing how Sun systems are used by customers was one of the most interesting aspects of the job when I was a software support engineer in Sun Services back in the 80's and 90's.

My first role at Sun was a field support job, working out of the Los Angeles Sales & Service office.   My coverage territory, however, was not limited to the LA Sales District and, instead, included all of the southwest USA and Hawaii.   A big area with an amazing mix of fascinating customers and computer applications.

A few years ago, I wrote about one of my visits at JPL.   Today, something got me thinking about another fun site visit...   At Disney Studios.

It was 1990.   Disney was in the last days of "filming" The Rescuers Down Under.   And, while all of the computers and storage devices involved, which included Sun workstations, were running great, the management at Disney wanted HW & SW support from the system vendors involved, onsite, for the last critical 16 hours.   Insurance, just in case anything went wrong.

So, Steve Henry, one of the best HW support engineers at Sun (IMHO), and I hung out at Disney for two work shifts.

And did not touch a single system.

For 16 hours, we were treated to a full indepth technical tour of the creation of an animated film, shared amazing catered-in buffets with the animators, supervisors, and "film crew", and enjoyed the soothing creative atmosphere of the Disney workplace.   No telephones were ringing.   Soft Disney music was piped in.   And warm recessed lighting added to the overall ambiance.

I watched one of the illustrators / painters work on a scene which featured the movie's villain, Percival McLeach.   The colors she was using were drab, dark, treacherous, and depressing.   Frame after frame, she worked for hours, faced with this evil villain.   During a break, I asked her if working on such a character took its toll on her at all.   She smiled and shared with me that she loved what she was doing.   Wow!

After 16 hours onsite at Disney Studios, I drove home humming Disney tunes.   It was another great customer site visit.

Tuesday Jan 06, 2009

New Goals in 2009

There are so many events in life which one can observe with little reaction or response.   We can write them off easily as someone else's reality, things we can't change, and things that simply don't matter....   whatever the reason.

And then, there are some observations which do impact us.   Things that color how we see the world & life. Things that change our opinions.   Things that cause us to drop whatever we're doing and radically shift gears.

Recently a friend & work colleague suffered a heart attack.   He is doing really well now and is making changes to his lifestyle.   Surprisingly, his crisis had an impact on me personally.   It reminded me that each of our lives are finite in length.   It reminded me to look at my own life and, as one Sun VP, Diann Olden, would say, "Inspect what you expect"...   assessing if my life path is going in the right direction, in the direction I want.

And with that, over the holiday season, I realised that all is about 98.5% good...   starting with a superbly wonderful marriage and happy homelife....   a very satisfying 33 year career in the computer industry, the co-authoring with friend & Sun colleague Chris Drake of Panic!, a highly successful technical book, impressive successes in my "hobby" of horse training & dressage competition, travel in 16 countries around the world (mostly for customer site visits), excellent friends & families, both here and abroad, and a wonderful home.

But, for the past few years, one more great big target has been shining in the distance, tempting me to aim for it.   But, due to other committments, I haven't even considered it.   Until now.   Thanks to my friend's own brush with death, I can now actually envision going after one more goal before my own heart stops beating...   Someday...   Someday soon.

Here's to 2009!   May it be an interesting year!

Sunday Dec 21, 2008

Plowing to Pink Floyd

Hit by two good sized winter storms in 2 days, I've had to snowplow 4 times, totalling over 6 hours in the truck and many miles, nearly half of which were in reverse.   And, while the snow has finally stopped and the stars are now shining, gale force winds are whipping, creating all sorts of havoc which I'll have to repair in the morning.

You see, snowplowing is my job on the farm.   Georg is in charge of snowblowing.   And while I probably spend more time doing it, I know I have the more "luxurious" of the two jobs.   For starters, mine is done "indoors".

With Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", Anky van Grunsven's Kur Music, and Queen's "Made in Heaven" neatly packed into my Apple iPod Shuffle, I can plow... and sometime do... for hours.

The music and the warmth of the cab of our Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 work together to help keep the absurdity of plowing in perspective.   All the while, Mother Nature throws New England another curveball with a chilly 15 degrees outside, hours of snowfall, another foot or more of new white stuff, and increasingly strong winds that promise to whip everything into artistic but bothersome snowdrifts.

Plowing, like sweeping, can probably be done by anyone.   But doing it well is an learned skill that requires both shortterm & longterm strategic planning, methodic execution, coordination of motor skills, oneness with the equipment, and infinite patience.   For starters, how one approaches the first plowing event can define how successful snow management will be for the whole winter season.   The location of initial snowbanks is critical.   Once seeded, snowbanks take root and grow throughout the winter, requiring heavy equipment (and $$$$) when you need to relocate them.

Boss Snow Plow provides some great online plowing tips.   But my own Top Tip is simple.   If you're gonna spend a few hours driving back and forth at low speeds in challenging conditions, make sure you bring great music.

Thursday Dec 18, 2008

Pictures from NH Ice Storm '08

For friends, colleagues, and family...

Photos from around our property, taken the first days after the storm can be found here.

After The Storm

It's now being called "Ice Storm '08" by the local news.   After 4 and a half days, we got full power back.   But half the town is still without power, as are many in New Hampshire and apparently Massachusetts as well.

We have cleared up most of the mess...   downed tree limbs and broken fences...   but a couple of big hardwood trees will be left to age over the winter, then we'll hit them with a chainsaw in the spring.

At least the driveway (right) is no longer an obstacle course.

We lost a lot of refrigerated and frozen food when temps soared into the 50's before power returned.   And 4 copper heating pipes burst, ruining the carpeting in the process.   But overall, we fared better than many.

Our personal version of the Ice Storm '08 crisis is over.   Now, a big snowstorm is coming.   Oh well.   Ya gotta love New England weather.   It's that or time to move out!

:-)

Saturday Dec 13, 2008

Water, Fire, and Malibu Lights

As I write this, much of New Hampshire is without power.   After an impressive ice storm, many trees took down power lines.   At 1:47 am Friday morning, we lost power in Warner.   That was about 40 hours ago.

Like many of our neighbors, we have a generator for these rare emergencies.   Our home is wired to support the water pump, the oil furnace, a couple lights and two power sockets run off a generator.   And that's good enough!

In the past two days, we have come to appreciate access to water, first and foremost.   Not only for ourselves, but for the horses, chickens, dog and bird.   Next, we are glad we stocked up on firewood.   The woodburning stove not only provides warmth and a bit of light, it is kinda fun to cook on!

But the real challenge is lighting.   Especially for the 20 horse barn, which is not wired for the generator.   However, after a full day of cold but strong winter sunlight, we found our solar powered Malibu lights placed every 12 feet along the aisle are good enough to provide just enough light to tend to the horses one last time before bed.

Venturing out, we had to travel 20 miles to get gas for the generator.   The local super market, DeMoulas Market Basket, is running on minimum generator power and selling canned & dry goods, wine, beer, and a lot of water.   Meat, fish, and frozen goods were pulled from the shelves soon after the power failure looked more than momentary.   But the town is happy they are open and serving the community as best they can.   The hardware store next door, Aubuchon's, is out of all major emergency provisions.   Big batteries.   Generators.   Portable lights.   But they are open, running on a borrowed generator.   And as usual, we ran into some neighbors there.   Talked about the weather.   Talked about the power failure.   And learned that Warner lost power into our sub-station.   They say we should have power back by.....   Next Thursday!!!

At home, every fenceline on our property is down with fallen trees.   But in comparison to what we saw while out and about, we faired well.   Electric wires are down in the roads.   Some homes have been damaged.   Some roads are closed.   And the local rivers are creeping over their banks and will get higher when the temperatures lift out of the teens and into the 30's and 40's in the next day or two.

While temps are sub-freezing, we are keeping the former contents of our freezer outside and the contents of the fridge on the porch.   As it gets warmer, we will no doubt be eating the thawing meats with priority.

Finally, we have no mobile phone reception at all, but our land phone line is working, and therefore, we also have Internet access via laptops only.   However, that is at about 2 gallons per hour.   :-)

To those who sent us emails, thank you.

Tuesday Nov 04, 2008

Voting - So Easy!

Today marks my first Presidential Elections!   Cool!   And wow!   Such an easy process in my little town in central New Hampshire.

It's a 4 minute drive to the Town Hall.   Plenty of parking out front.   Then a short walk past campaign sign holders who only said, "Thank you for voting", and made no attempts to push their favourite candidates.   So friendly and polite.

I walked straight to A-F registration desk person, announced myself as Brown, then remembered I'm actually Edelmann (oops), and was handed my one page paper ballot.

I went straight to one of 8 booths, only half of which were occupied.   Picked up the pencil and quickly went down the page....   Tick, tick, tick....

From there, I walked straight to the A-F completion desk person, stated "Edelmann" correctly, on the first try I would like to add, and walked a few more feet to the ballot collection box, and dropped mine in.

Done.   All totalled, the process within the Town Hall took about 3 minutes, if that.   Small town.   Gotta love it !   Such a pleasant & easy experience.

Had it not been for running into friends and neighbours with whom Georg and I simply had to say hello and chat with a bit, the whole experience, home, there, and back home again, would have taken less than 15 minutes.

But with perfect warm sunny weather, we found ourselves chatting with fellow town folk, and then went next door to the local restaurant for breakfast and, yes, some more chatting with other locals who were doing the same thing.

My first Presidential Election.   It feels good.   And such a pleasure!   And, according to Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, the big thing to do today.   :-)

Thursday Oct 23, 2008

Tight Budget? Eat Lobster!

Oil prices are still jumping around.   Like many, we locked in our winter oil heating costs at a ridiculously high rate only to see the prices drop recently.   Ugh.

A wet summer damaged local hay crops, resulting in higher hay prices and less hay supplies to get everyone though the next winter.   Even wood shavings, used as bedding for our horses, has gone up 20% in the past year.

Fertiliser prices are skyrocketing, impacting the costs of many agricultural products.   Even organically grown maple syrup is at an all time high price and is expected to increase in price with the upcoming season.

Yup.   The cost of living just keeps going up and up, and now we get to factor in the global economic crisis and wonder HOW and when things will, if ever, turn around.

Meanwhile, lobster is selling for $3.99 a pound at our local DeMoulas Market Basket supermarket.   Cheaper than most steak.   Cheaper than a hamburger meal.   Cheaper than a foot long sub.

Things are tough right now.   Unless you happen to love lobster.     :-)

Friday Sep 26, 2008

Preparing for Holiday Feasts

Each year, there are a few things we say will not do again, since we had already done them, just for the experience.   You know.   Been there.   Done that.   Got the T-shirt.

Making our own maple syrup is one of those things.   A cool novel thing to try.   Hard work, but fun.   We have now done it 3 years running.

The other is raising our own turkeys for food.   It is work.   Not hard work, but still work.   And it is definitely not cost effective.

But at the beginning of July, we did it again.   We took ownership of some newborn turkey poults.   And with it, responsibity for the quality of their short scheduled lives.

Raising five poultry with the full intent of keeping them only for only five months and then serving them up with cranberry sauce may seem harsh and cruel to many.   In fact, I lean towards being one who would be a vegetarian if not for the fact that I really enjoy meat.   My problem is that I also like the animals.

Watching the turkeys grow is fun.   They can grow from mere ounces to 60 pounds in 6 months!   In fact, we buy our poults later than some people just so that we don't end up with oversized birds like we did our first year.   20 to 30 pounders is what we expect this year.

This year's group were born around the 4th of July.   At 5 weeks old, they were fluffy, relatively inquisitive (turkeys are not the brightest animals in the farmyard), friendly, and already about the size of our chickens.

Like their native cousins, the wild turkey, our turkey enjoy roosting.   Unlike wild turkeys, however, our turkeys can not fly.   They can walk and run well, but they just don't fly.   I suspect they are not lean enough, to put it politely!   So, when they roost, they do so on stonewalls, on water troughs, under the truck, under bushes, and on the lawn.

The critters are now approaching 3 months of age.   And it is becoming apparent we may have 3 Toms and 2 Hens.   Not an ideal situation at all.   The Toms will soon start arguing and sorting out their hierarchy.   It's not pretty.

This past weekend, we had a nice warm afternoon and an impressive sunset.   When I went looking to round up the turkeys to put them back into the barn, I found all five them basking in the last bits of sunshine.   They truly looked to be quite content, sharing the sunshine together peacefully.

When it comes time, we do not "do the deed" ourselves.   We use a local USDA inspected & approved operation for that.   We book a date, pack the critters into individual dog crates and drive them over on that morning, and pick them up later that evening.   It is fast, safe, clean, and less traumatic for us.   However, I always get sad and teary-eyed as they leave the farm.   And why not?   I raised them from babies, took them for walks, and tended to them everyday.

But, THAT day is still weeks away.

In the meantime, as we keep an eye on the calendar and await the first big holiday at which one of these fine creatures will be the main event, the turkeys continue enjoy to run free of the property all day long.

This includes wandering out into the pastures with the horses, some of whom herd them and chase them, others of whom will graze peacefully side by side with the white feathered birds.   (This photo is from a pasture webcam.)

Each night, the turkeys go back into the barn, into their own shavings-bedded stable, where they eat, sleep, drink, and roost, safe from the fishercats, coyotes, and foxes that would love to have their own Thanksgiving feast.

And, so it goes.   Another year raising turkeys.   Probably not our last.

Stripers

Few words can get the heart racing, the mind dreaming, and the feet itchy to get moving away from the office as these.   The stripers are running!

At least once a year, no matter where I live in the world, I try to get down to Rock Harbor Charters on Cape Cod in Massachusetts for a trip out with Captain Dick Clark on "The Flying Mist".

Next week, good weather or not, we're after striped bass.   And from what we hear, the fishing is good this fall, as we all hoped it would be!

As an avid fisherman, I know the simple facts of life :

A Bad Day of Fishing
Is Better Than
A Good Day of Work
:-)

Yup, the stripers are running!   We'll see you soon, Captain!

Thursday Sep 25, 2008

Kyle May Visit New England

According to the National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Tropical Storm "Kyle" may come visit New England this weekend!

In the 3.5 years since we have moved from England to New England, we have not experienced a Tropical Storm.   And, depending on how things develop, literally, we may even be dealing with a HURRICANE!

Sitting tight for now, paying particular attention to news about the weather...

Aside from the damage that "Kyle" may inflict on property, the high winds will unfortunately also take a toll on the fall foliage which is starting to take hold.   With two weeks left to go to the 61st annual Warner Fall Foliage Festival, that would be a shame.

Kyle, our advice is that you head east.   Way, way east!

Tuesday Sep 23, 2008

ESPP Time Again

I am one of SUNW's (I mean JAVA's) biggest fans.   As a longterm participant in our Employee Stock Purchase Plan, I have reaped the benefits of ESPP, felt the tingling joys & niggling pains of being a stock owner, made wads of cash, spent bundles of cash, and watched some of the stockpile melt away, and some of it grow.

In the long run, I don't know if I've made more or lost more, but I do know this.   I am a Sun Microsystems stockholder.   An owner of Sun Microsystems.   One of millions of stakeholders who Sun employees work so hard to please.

"ESPP Time", both for programme enrollment & the actual stock purchase, comes twice a year.   We are getting close to that time again.   For those already in the programme, the choices to make right now are simple:

Cash out
      or
Stay in and buy the stock at ESPP prices

Now, I don't give no nevermind to what the Wall Street analysts have to say about JAVA, not when it comes to making my own decision about whether to purchase SMI stock or not.

I work here.   I know what we're doing.   I know we have great products.   I know customers want those products.   I believe our upper management & execs are focussed on making those Wall Street naysayers get all warm and fuzzy about SMI again.   And so, I will continue to increase my ownership of Sun Microsystems.

Yup, I'm buying more SUNW.   Erhm... I mean JAVA.   :-)

Monday Sep 22, 2008

11:44

I love how the folks at Google play with their logo to accentuate events.   Today, they celebrate Autumn which officially begins at 11:44 Eastern time.

Autumn.   Already?   Seems summer zipped right by.   But then, we worked without taking any vacation time this summer, which means we actually spent most of the summer indoors.

Autumn.   One could see it coming.   Some of the maple trees in town starting changing color as early as the first week of August.   And this past week, we had our first frost.   This past weekend, we did an emergency harvest of the garden, collecting artichokes, string beans, tomatoes, chilis, and hops.   The delicato squash were also collected while the butternuts will stay outside a bit longer with the pumpkins.

Autumn.   One stroke of the horses' coats also provided clues it was coming.   They've been shedding out their summer coats and growing new thicker coats in preparation for the winter.   So much so that we had to clip Jeddien before going to a show two weeks ago.

Autumn.   The best time of year in New England according to many.   Pleasant day temperatures, crisp nights.   No bugs.   Amazing foliage displays, deep blue skies, puffy white clouds.   New England natural beauty at it's most colorful.   So peaceful.   So relaxing.

Autumn.   Nature's way of saying, "Get to work!   Winter is coming!   Lime the pastures.   Get the snowplow repaired.   Fill the barn with hay.   Put up the final winter fences while the ground can still be worked.   Cover the horsetrailer.   Put away the boat.   Cover the delicate perennials.   Put up the outside Christmas lights.   Test the snowthrower.   Put away the lawn furniture.   Stack another cord of firewood.   Position the generator.   BBQ while you still can!"

Autumn.   Sheer beauty and more work around the farm...   :-)

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Kimberley

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