Wednesday Mar 04, 2009


Wrote this in December and time got away....

My kids are growing up a bit, and it is both great and a little painful. For instance, both of my older kids came home with their report cards a day or two ago. The did well, and, I was impressed. (The 11 month old is still at the drool stage, but she can pick up a cheerio and put it in her mouth....Yea! Best baby!). Anyway, we discussed the report card which I turned into a riff on how to use the Fibonacci sequence for a simple cipher for passing notes in class and (probably) not get busted. That was a great conversation, and I felt comfortable sharing because I can still crack any code that they might come up with. At least today. And then we had snack. I am a bit of a freak about cooking, and I like to try new things etc. Snack for me is a fun thing to do. For this snack I took apples and sliced them to resemble teeth. I used Raspberries for eyes and nose and ears. I used a little bit of chocolate syrup for hair and eyebrows and of course the face was the plate.  It was fun, and it probably represents some of the more important things in life.

Wednesday Dec 03, 2008

Of scotch and flames

Tonight I got a card from a friend of mine. It was a little card, and it was a thank you. In that card this fellow was thanking me for a bottle of scotch and a kind note that I had sent him due to a recent loss. He quoted Albert Schweitzer, and likened me to someone that helped his flame (at little bit) back to life. The card couldn't have come at a better time. I am not up to the praise he gave me, but, it helped a lot that he felt better. And, I felt better by his gesture.

Marine, if you read this, thank you. I needed that in ways you can't begin to imagine.

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being." A. Schweitzer

Tuesday Oct 21, 2008

Cool visual metric:

I haven't had a lot of time for blogging lately. Given the collision of work projects that are just about done, I have been hanging on by a fingernail. All that being said, my wife pointed out a cool metric. She took a snap shot of all my blog entries and ran them through It gives a visual representation of what I blog about. It seems pretty accurate to me in terms of attempting to quantify the relative weight of what I am interested in and validation that I talk about what I believe in. The number one word is "Team".

Tuesday Jun 17, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Deirdré Straughan, Community-Monger and Videoblogger Extraordinaire came to work with me about 18 months ago. She now works in a different organization doing fun things that rightly play to her talents. We grabbed some time and some equipment and some good ideas and together we build a pretty innovative program around storage software. Which is not really the plot of this post, but, interesting background information.

Anyway, she had a cartoon done of her  several years ago that I thought was pretty fun. In May I got one done as well. I like to think of it as sort of "The Matrix meets Tequila Sunrise" (I have always thought I was a mix of the best parts of Keanue Reeves and Mel Gibson) <big chuckle>. Anyway, here is the picture. The artist was great and very reasonable. Deb doesn't like the white spot on my nose, but, I think I actually have one there, so, it all works.  I like it a lot and Mike was fun to work with.

We now return from this two minutes of narcissism. Had this been a real narcissistic emergency, I would have written some poetry.  These are not the droids you are looking for. Move along.

Friday Jun 06, 2008

Courage Classic

In July of 2000 I rode my very first Courage Classic. It happened to be about two months after the birth of my first daughter and it was probably the first time in my adult life that I was moved nearly to tears by the courage of another human being. The stories about Club Courage are out there, so I will not repeat them. Suffice to say they are courageous and sad and hopeful and a triumph of spirit.

This year marks the 9th ride and the birth of my third daughter, so, pretty special. I ride with team Westword and I follow Dee as she leads the team. Dee has been on the ride since inception and is also nearly always a top ten fund raiser. 

Why I ride the Courage Classic

I ride because I have three daughters and I hope I never need to go to The Children's Hospital again. I ride because there are people, kids, that will never take for granted the things I enjoy everyday such as walking a flight of stairs, rolling around on the floor with their kids or live each day completely healthy.

I ride so that these kids continue to fight every day to live strong.

I ride because I can and there are those that can't.

When geeks learn rap

This made me laugh out loud, and a nice break from a busy couple of weeks. My boss just -9nd me for the rest of the day....

Monday Apr 21, 2008

How the internet saved me $1200

I have spent the last week swathed in swaddling clothes, diapers, prams, 8 year old super hotty bomb outfits, and questions along the lines of "Do you like my hair?" and "Daddy, how does this dress look?" My daughters (all three of them) are lovely and sweet and not boys. It is wonderful, but, I do have the occasional urge to cover myself in automotive grease and cleanse with gojo.

Anyway, about two weeks ago my Audi started yelling at me about brakes. No big deal, until the ABS light came on and the brake light started flashing maniacally. Oddly it was flashing to the tempo of the Pink Floyd song Money. Yes, everything is expensive to fix on this car. Anyway I started wondering what the problem could be as the ABS light is a totally useless symbol. All it does is tell me to go to the dealership and automatically give them $1000. I hooked up my OBDII reader to see what was going on. Totally useless message of course (rough road). So I scratched my head and tested the brakes. They seemed to be working just fine.

In comes the internet. By reading a number of the Audi forums I get the gist that this is pretty common, involves usually a deffective ABS module and it will run me about $1200 to $1500 to replace. However, someone suggests pulling it myself and sending it to a company for a rebuild. The company offers instructions to pull the module and they ship it in three days. I decide that I would rather replace with a rebuilt module and ship the core back to the rebuild company. $225 and two hours later my car no longer yells at me. NICE!

This experience made me think that as the systems get more complex, it is extremely likely that all the dealerships are doing is replacing the parts on these cars. There is little or no diagnostics (Pull the OBDII code and replace the part) and rather it is much more a replacement culture than a fix culture. Interesting. As long as you have the tools, probably much of the work can be done by the individual again. If you don't have the time or the willingness, you can pay for it. Sounds like another model I know quite well.

Sunday Apr 13, 2008

Final release authority

At 2PM MT the engineering team announced final release authority and Anna Jasmine arrived at a big bouncy 8lbs. As the manager, I can't exactly claim credit, but, I am pretty proud and she is phenomenal. Currently a limited distribution, but, shortly she will be GA (generally available). Her sisters are as proud and happy for mom as I am.

Go - No go decision

We met this morning at about 6:30 AM for the Go No go decision. The product boss gave a Go and we decided to launch the new product today, a day early. The release engineers are assisting and the final product is being evaluated by manufacturing. We should have a launch in the next 6 hours or so. Preparing the press release and the go to market strategy now.


Stay tuned for the marketing brochure... 

Friday Apr 04, 2008

Rich communication

I got a question from my mother the other day about the title of my blog. My mother is a retired English teacher and she reads my blog on occasion (much to her chagrin as my grasp of the mechanics of language considerably lags hers). Anyway, she is responsible for my love of language (the way a word rolls of the tongue or fits neatly in a phrase). My title is a bit obscure, unless you know me. So, let me explain the content of my blog title.

First off, I consider my time in the Army, Army National Guard and New Mexico Military institute to be one of the defining periods of my life. Duty to others and country etc... The military is rich with tradition, the cadence of life and an exploration of individual definition. Some have heard of the "Long Gray Line" and it refers to long line of cadets that have attended West Point, the United States Military Academy. It means, that there are those that have come before and there those that will come after. Each has a place and there is value in the continuity of duty, honor and country. Clearly I did not attend the USMA, but my school shares many of the same traditions and is called "The West Point of the West". So, to me, The long purple line represents a play on that same spirit of duty and tradition, but with a twist. We have a duty to our folks and we have a tradition of excellence in engineering. There have many before and there will be many after.

I chose the color purple because the logo at one time looked purple to me. I have since been corrected, and was told rather pointedly that the purple color is blue. However, I call things like I seem them, and to me it looked purple. Hence the purple connection to identify myself a true purple warrior.

And finally, a line is something one writes for a magazine or a newspaper. It is also something that one can deliver at a bar to the stunning looking Irish "Sheila" that I married. Never been a particularly good line deliverer but, I played on the line in football (you know, the great unwashed blokes that got their butt kicked in defense of the quarterback) and that kind of appealed to me. I like things with lots of rich content and deep meaning. 

So there you have it. Not a Da Vinci code mystery, but, rich contextual language none the less.

Things that amuse me

Every once in a while I get the urge to poke at these test that define me (NOT!). Anyway, accordingly, here are some of the results. What amuses me is that most people would claim I am an extrovert.

I just found out that I am a Slight Dorky Nerd God. Strange.




Thursday Mar 20, 2008

The value of deep history

Last night I spent about two hours listening to music with my wife, kids, and former aupair. We surfed around on Youtube and listened to such venerable oldies as Fine Young Cannibals (She drives me crazy), Ozzy Osbourne (Crazy Train), Nirvana (Smells like teen spirit), Quiet Riot, Def Leopard, Depechemode, New Order, Falco, Bon Jovi, Leonard Cohen and of course Paul Robinson. We also listened to a spattering of new stuff (much of which I couldn't stand) including Scooter (I liked sort of) and the beatbox flute guy(awesome). When I got tired enough I wandered up to bed. On the way up I noticed the time and I was a bit shocked. I was going to bed literally two hours later than I normally do. This got me to thinking about the new model and the new distributions methodology. It used to be that people spent $1000s collecting albums and playing the albums. Even the most extensive collection was limited to a mere smattering of what was available. However in several hours last night I listened to my old favorites, some new favorites and we spent hours talking about and appreciating the various elements of music that even ten years ago would have been impossible (at least in this format). So, whats my point?

My point is pretty straight forward: As the range of connectivity solutions increase and the range and things we care about increases, storage solutions become more important. I have a 140GB hard drive in my AppleTV box, but, realistically, all of the content I watched last night was a function of three things:

Remote storage (and lots of it).

Deep search algorithms.

High bandwidth connectivity.

These solutions are smack dab in the middle of the products we work on. High throughput, cheap and deep storage solutions and persistent archiving and search functionality. Unlike a brain surgeon, I actually get to use the stuff I build and repair... I have a great job.

Tuesday May 01, 2007

Who am I?

Ignore the guy in the middle. The kids are the best thing to look at. 

I started blogging for a couple of reasons. First, as I work with (and for) more people, it is important that they get a sense of what I value and what I believe in. This is, in some sense, a force multiplier for communication.  The second major reason I blog is because it helps me to refine my thoughts and speak articulately about important things (people, strategy, leadership, choices, winning, losing, culture and communication, technology, poetry, and of course hockey.)

In that spirit I asked our web producer and blogger extraordinaire to suggest ways to help me reach a wider audience. Her very first comment to me (phrased slightly differently) was "Who are you and why should I pay attention to you?" Cogent comment. Not sure why you should pay attention to me, but what the heck, I will give a shot at explaining who I am.

My first thought is that I don't know how to explain who I am.  I am many things. I can't help but think of "The Breakfast Club" when I hear that phrase. It seems like something that has followed me my whole life, explaining who I am and what I believe. I am 6'4" large, and I feel like I have had to be aware of my size since I was 11. Not easy explaining to someone that you really like that you accidentally just broke them because you outweigh them by 50 pounds and you aren't sure how to move that large of a structure.  I kid you not. Just a couple of weeks ago I hit a kid on the ice so hard that his contacts popped out. It wasn't intentional, but there you go. (And, worse yet, he was on my team.)

So, I have been many things in my life. At the age of 14, I was the sophomore class president and a football jock. At 16 I was the lead in the school play and on the debate team. At 17 I was a ski bum and a mentor for 6th graders. At 18, I was a poor kid trying to get through life by managing a McDonald's and attending classes. At 22 I was an Army officer and a business school student. At 24 I was an older Army officer and a Director of Security. At 26, after my GM explained to me that I was scaring people (high and tight very tall and serious Director of Security) I became a wedding planner. (\* Yes, it is true, and I value that time. My GM was wise. He explained to me that dealing with people I didn't understand and learning to do it with grace was in important part of leadership. He taught me to be softer and not look at everything as though it was a problem waiting to happen.) At 25 I wrote my first real software program and I became a software engineer (and a wedding planner). I worked nights at Grumman Aerospace learning Unix and programming. I literally would work from 11PM to 7AM and then I would go sell weddings from 8AM to 5PM. My wife would occasionally come to work with me and keep me awake.

Now I work at Sun and have the privilege of working with a team of outstanding engineers.

And so, Mr. Vernon, I am many things. I am a father, a husband, a writer, an engineer etc...


Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact
that we had to spend a whole
day in detention for whatever
it was we did wrong. But we think
you're crazy to make us write an essay
telling you who we think we are.
You see us as you want to see us...
In the simplest terms, in the most
convenient definitions.

But what we found out is that each
one of us is a brain...
...and an athlete...
...and a basket case...
...a princess...
...and a criminal...






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