Saturday, September 23, 2006

Jacob Aaron Stoller

Jacob Stoller, a classmate (actually a year ahead) of mine (Ron's), from high school, left this life on September 19, 2006. He was a victim of nerve cell sarcoma, which quickly ravaged his body.

I wasn't close to Jacob, but this still saddens me. His heart was big, and his fidelity to his beliefs were pure. I actually know his mother quite well, and I think I feel saddest for her. Jacob moved to a place of serenity and surrender as his short life drew to a close.

Jacob loved children, and particularly loved doing mission work with indigenous groups, providing them with much needed love and other services. Because of his debilitating condition, he had to remain home this last year, and so he worked at an assisted living center where he was a source of light and hope to many.

Jacob, an unassuming person, touched many with his life--his memorial drew hundreds of people from all parts of his life, and other memorials were being held in other countries in his honor.

We enjoyed the celebration of life as a massive reunion, and a chance to reflect on a life lived as it should have been. That's not to downplay the pain of his family, nor the tragedy of his passing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Fishhawk Lake

We spent the weekend at a cabin on Fishhawk Lake with Ron's parents and my parents. To get to this lake, you head out 26 to Vernonia, and go farther north. If you've ever been to Mist, you were close to the lake. It's a beautiful place. Our parents haven't spent a lot of time with each other, given that mine live in Seattle and Ron's live in Beaverton...so we decided it was high time to get them all together. We had a great time! Friday night, we broke the ice by watching "Meet the Fockers." Saturday we played badminton and bocce ball (Rick & I beat everyone at both games). On Sunday, we played horseshoes and more bocce ball (Rick & I's shoulders were darn sore after our star showing on Saturday with badminton). Throughout the weekend we ate. And we ate. We took turns preparing meals, so we all were anxious to share our specialty. It was sad to say goodbye at the end, but I think we may have created a new tradition!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Car Care World e-Xpo

As most of you know, I work for ISI. ISI makes software for fast lubes and car washes. I get the privilege of attending tradeshows such as the International Carwash Association (ICA) and the Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA).

Today is your lucky day. The ICA is hosting an online tradeshow...and you too can visit. Just go to http://carcarecentral.com/expoHome.html , register and enter the show. Be sure to stop by the ISI booth and we can chat. It's a pretty cool idea, the whole online tradeshow thing. While you're there you can learn all about the latest towel technology, using a spot-free rinse and pump system mechanics. Don't miss Wonder Wafers' booth - The World's Most Perfect Air Freshener; So Good, They're Patented.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Teaching!

I'm sorry for leaving you hanging. This last week was absolutely crazy. I had finals for my Microbiology class and started teaching the Marketing class at GFU.

Teaching went really well. I started the class by putting a different candy bar on everyone's desk. When they came in, there was a slide up that said, "Whoever can sell me their candy bar first, wins $5." It got the students interacting with me right away. They predictably started in with, "mine has peanuts" or "melts in your mouth, not in your hand"...but when the girl said "What do you like?", the $5 was won. You see, ultimately, Marketing starts with the customer...not the company. It was a good object lesson...and then they were all sugar-highed and started with a good impression of the class =).

I've been impressed with the students. Primarily juniors, all business, communication or graphic design majors...they have chosen to be there. Most are intrigued by the topic. I've gone to great lengths to avoid the typical lecture format. We start the class by clarifying that we're running this as a meeting, not a class. We sit in a large circle, not in rows. They're to show up on time and prepared to report to the class on the given reading/discussion at a moment's notice. For this first section of class, I inevitably have to do some lecturing...communicating concepts, vocabulary, etc. We'll move onto strategy next...then to execution. During the execution stage they'll be actually trying their hand at creating ads, sales pitches, press releases, etc. It should be pretty fun.

Honestly, as a topic, Marketing isn't hard. A lot of it stems from common sense. They're definitely retaining the things I'm saying (we did a brief review yesterday), but it's not like I've delivered any really huge news yet.

Probably the hardest part for me is trying to balance the challenge and support. I've done a lot to try and encourage their creativity and participation. Now I've got to start helping them hone some skills. It's great that you're willing to speak up in class...now I've got to get you to say more intelligent things =). Or at least say them more quickly!

All in all I am enjoying myself and it seems that they are too. I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

It all started with this book...

...Ron gave me for my birthday. Best easy day hikes in Oregon.

Saturday morning, we woke up and wanted to spend the sunny day in the great outdoors. After perusing our book, we selected a 6 mile route on Sauvie Island. I've never been there, and was quite excited to go. The island is beautiful, containing not just unending agriculture fields, but also beautiful beaches. We'd seen a few folks parking and walking with sand chairs and beach towels. So we pulled over to walk out on the beach ourselves. Turns out there are some "clothing optional" beaches on Sauvie Island. I'll admit we did see the clothing optional sign as we were walking up, but at that point, we were sort of in disbelief about it. Sure enough, clothing was definitely optional. Old people, little kids, both genders. Playing volleyball, walking on the beach, laying out in the sun. It was an experience. A brief experience. There's something kind of cool about people being so secure and free. And, honestly something a little weird about it. We got back in our car and drove to the trailhead. According to the book, "you may have to dodge some stray blackberry vines the first 1/4 mile of this trail..." And by some "stray vines," they meant a solid wall of vines that was taller than me. We didn't want to give up, so we ventured down to another section of beach to try and avoid the first 1/4 mile of the trail and then meet back up with it. As we were looking to meet back up with it, we found a small herd of cattle on the beach. So, basically, this is a strange stretch of beach. We ended up walking on the beach for about 2 miles (never did find the trail), and then turning back because the sun was going down and I was getting hungry. Definitely an adventure-filled day.

The next day we did the hike I was very excited about - a hike around Henry Hagg lake - Forest Grove/Gaston area. Ron had initially thought I was too ambitious, since the hike is 14.1 miles and I haven't really hiked since I went to New Zealand (in 2002). But, I've run a marathon, and the book said it was an easy hike, completed in 5 hours or less...so I figured I could obviously hike 14 miles. This hike started off better - we found the trail, for instance. Beautiful scenery, great weather, all visitors were wearing clothes. It was great. The first thing we noted was the elevation. Pretty much the entire trail was hiking up/away from the lake, or down/towards the lake. Very very little flat ground. About 3 miles into our hike, our trail came to an abrupt end. Have you seen the cover of that Shel Silverstein book, Where the Sidewalk Ends ? It was about like that. So, we logically decided the only thing to do was to crawl down the embankment and ford the stream (climb every mountain, ford every stream!). This is a good time to mention the section of the book Ron wishes he didn't read aloud over breakfast. "While hiking, you'll see a variety of wildlife including a bunch of birds and possibly bobcats..." Yes, BOBCATS. As you might imagine, I was on bobcat-patrol the entire hike. So, we're fording the stream only to find what we thought looked like a trail, was actually a clearing...the home of someone/thing. (Definitely a bobcat, says Trina). So we forded back through the stream, hiked back up the embankment and traced the trail out to the road. There's a road that circles the lake, so we thought if we followed it, we might be able to see the trail again. Sure enough, we found it. A mile or so later...it spit us back out onto the road. Down the road, another trail. At this point, the book definitely is getting an F. No continous trail that loops the lake here. But, we're enjoying ourselves. Just as we start to get concerned about running out of water, we found this boat launch area that had a drinking fountain. Perfect. We happened to ask a boat launcher for the time. 6:10pm. Not perfect. We were about 9 or so miles into the hike at this point. We remembered the sign at the parking area - "Gate locked at sunset." Hmmm. So, we started jogging. Yes, jogging, in hiking books, on an uphill/downhill trail in the fading light. Less than comfortable, I'll admit. The last 3 miles we opted for the road rather than the trail. It was getting really dark in the woods and hard to run in the dark on a trail. We did get back before the gate locked. A grand total of 5 hrs 40 min...having RUN about 1/4 of the trail. Easy, 5 hour hike, huh? Either we're weinies, or the general public is remarkably more fit than we're aware. We raced home to shower and then deservedly headed to the Cheesecake Factory. I highly recommend the chocolate oreo cheesecake.

Let's just say the next morning I was less than comfortable. So, on Labor Day, we ate and read. We lounged in Washington Park on a blanket, reading our current book out loud to each other, The Brothers Karamazov. Definitely a different experience from the Chronicles of Narnia series and A Wrinkle in Time, our last selections. But, we're enjoying the Brothers. The names are the most difficult part...but we give them nicknames...and reading with another person allows for helpful post-chapter clarification, "So that was the guy that liked the girl, who his brother likes, but he doesn't know, right?"

That evening, we celebrated Rick's (Ron's dad) birthday with BBQ-ed steak, corn on the cob and a small german chocolate cake. Yum.

And with that, our weekend ended.