Saturday, December 22, 2018

Colorado Department of Transportation

My career has taken another turn and I have accepted a position with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).  I am working in the Division of Mobility Operations and more specifically, with the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) group.

ITS is responsible for advanced technology applied to the existing roadways.  We support the transportation operation center by installing fiber optic cable, closed circuit television cameras and traffic monitoring devices.  We use microwave radar to establish speed and vehicle size.

Colorado is well poised to be a leader in autonomous vehicle technology.  Projects are in the works to assist vehicle to infrastructure (V2I), vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and infrastructure to vehicle (I2V) communications.

Technically it is a pretty cool role.  In terms of the responsibilities, the role is broad.  Professional Engineers own the project from design and project management to construction, before a final walk through when the project is turned over to maintenance.  It will be a nice blend of design work and field work.

Having never worked in public service, there are a lot of adjustments.  The field vehicles are not bright shiny Ram 1500's.  They are a mix of the most affordable vehicles in a given year and my choices were a 2007 Ford Expedition or a 2010 Jeep Liberty.  The offices are comfortable but do not have free coffee, soda, etc. 

It is an exciting time to be in transportation.  I have wanted to get involved with infrastructure, but was not sure in what capacity.  This is a nice blend of engineering and field work.  With ~3300 employees at CDOT, it is also a right sized organization.  Not too big and not too small.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Goodbye Liberty Oilfield Services

After 18 months in the oilfield, frac'ing in North Dakota and Colorado for some great customers, I decided to turn in my resignation.  The oilfield has been really good for me.  It is a welcoming meritocracy where age, race, gender, sexual orientation does not matter.  Getting to work on time and doing your job does matter.  I have made closer friendships in my short time at Liberty than I did over a 20 year span in technology.  I think it is a combination of long hours, close quarters and having a common purpose.  I have had fascinating conversations on philosophy, religion, domestic policy, foreign policy, child rearing, marriage and other topics typically taboo in the workplace.

The oilfield asks a lot.  The crews work hard and are never deterred.  The job always goes forward.  Being a 24/7/365 capital intensive industry, no problem is unsolvable, we have spare equipment, an electronics technician and mechanic on site all the time and numerous resources on call that can be on site within hours.  People get hurt.  Usually it is little things like twisted knees, twisted ankles, bumps and bruises.  Unfortunately it is also traffic fatalities.  We spend a lot of time on the roads.

The oilfield is a family and one does not take a job in the oilfield.  Your spouse and children become an oilfield spouse and oilfield children.  This means missing family events, but it also means security.  Working 12+ hours daily for 2 weeks straight all around the country, makes for some healthy paychecks.  When oil prices are up and work is plentiful, companies share the wealth with bonuses and incentive pay.

My journey ended for a number of reasons, but I would gladly go back if my circumstances change and I would recommend the industry and specifically Liberty Oilfield Services to anyone.  There is a place for everyone in the oilfield.  I have had the pleasure of working with folks who have incredible natural mechanical aptitude, unsurpassed strength and stamina, nuanced troubleshooting skills and true leadership.  I have also worked with folks who could not make it anywhere else, but are teachable and willing to work hard.  The oilfield has a place for you.

I will always be proud of my contribution to providing energy for my community.  Access to energy has been the single largest contributor to quality of life over the past 1000 years and will continue to drive medical technology, access to food and ability to live in otherwise harsh natural environments.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Urban Quest LODO

This past weekend, we decided to do an Urban Quest.  It was similar to an escape room, but we got to walk around LODO for a couple of hours.  I have heard it is similar to geocaching, but without all of the GPS stuff and there are no physical items to uncover.

Our quest started at 19th and Blake and the directions were all based on streets and compass directions (North, South, East, and West).  The markers were various buildings and sculptures.  The  clues were a little confusing, but fortunately hints were provided along the way.  Of 17 clues, we only had to skip 2, but we did use a lot of hints.

The quest took 2 hours, which felt like a long time.  We started around 5:00 PM on Sunday and did not finish until a little after 7:00 PM.  In retrospect, we should have stopped for dinner half way through instead of waiting until the end.  We should have also carried water.  Finally we probably should have gotten bird scooters for the kids.  Even my feet started to get tired after 2 hours on concrete in Crocs.

Only one of the clues was not accessible due to construction.

Overall it was a lot of fun and an interesting way to see a city.  I would consider doing one in another city if I had a window of time to kill, but not necessarily as a site seeing guide.  I think it would be a fun activity for a kids birthday party.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


This past weekend, I had the pleasure of flying out with the wife and kids to attend my sister's wedding.  It was really well planned and well attended.  We flew in on Wednesday night and the events unfolded through the weekend.

Mendhi was done in the city at the Darbar Grill off of Lexington.  Of course it was mostly women, but as the driver for the ladies, I did attend.  There were around 40 people in attendance.  The ladies doing the mendhi were good, but it was a slow process.  The food was pretty good.

Simi's puja was Friday morning in my parent's suite at the Doubletree in Sommerset, NJ.  The priest was really good and the whole event was less than 20 people.  The food afterwards was really good, but we did order too much and tried to stash it in everybody's mini refrigerators.

The Sangheet was Friday night at the Mirabelle ballroom at the Doubletree.  My girls enjoyed decorating the venue in the afternoon.  The evening included some speeches and my daughters welcome dance.  Food was Middle Eastern and catered by Sahara.  This event was attended by about 150 folks.

The wedding itself was Saturday night and held at The Palace in Sommerset, NJ.  This was an amazing venue with a tremendous staff.  We did pictures in the afternoon, then the ceremony on an outdoor mandap, then appetizers inside, followed by speeches, dinner and reception inside.  There were about 250 people in attendance.

There was enough to do in the area to keep ourselves entertained.  There was an indoor pool.  The fitness center was reasonably appointed with cardio machines and dumbbells up to 50#.  They also had a basketball court and tennis court with racquets and balls at the front desk.

While playing outside, my daughter gave me her gold earrings for safekeeping while we played.  After the game, the girls headed over early to get their hair done.  It was at this point that my wife reminded me to bring her earrings which I realized had leaped out of my pocket and hopefully were still on the court.  Scrambling downstairs, I recruited everybody in the lobby to help me search the courts.  Earring 1 was found in about 5 minutes, but was thoroughly smashed.  Earring 2 was found by the same guy in less than 20 minutes and was thankfully intact.  At that point, I claimed success and headed to the front desk to hopefully find some pliers and repair earring 1.  The maintenance guy came up with his tools and fortunately had some needle nose pliers that got close enough.  The biggest stressor during this whole ordeal was the realization that the earrings were a gift from their maternal grandmother who passed away last year.  I could not have been in any more trouble than not recovering the earrings.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

The Clothes Make the Man

My sister is getting married in a couple of months and my wardrobe needed a makeover so it was the perfect opportunity to go clothes shopping.  First order of business was a new suit.  I was married in 2005 and that suit served me well until last fall.  I was getting ready for a wedding and the suit did not fit.  I had slowly put on about 15# over the intervening 12 years and the last 5# put me over the edge.  I ran to Goodwill and got a close enough suit for that event.  With some time to prepare, I sought out a family friend to get a custom tailored suit.  A classic charcoal grey multi-purpose suit.

I also needed a shirt and tie and headed to Nordstrom as I am not in tough with men's fashion anymore.  I opted for a David Donahue double weave white shirt and a Nordstrom tie.

Next order of business was a trendy casual outfit for the rehearsal dinner.  I was planning on wearing my Ariat jeans and Banana Republic shirt and was only planning on buying a sport coat.

Next thing I know I tried on a pair of AG (Adriano Goldschmeid) jeans.  The Everett slim straight were the most comfortable pants I had ever tried on.  Even with the 30% off Anniversary sale, they were incredibly expensive, but I had to have them.

Finally I moved on to the sport coat.  The Peter Millar classic fit suit was the best fit for me considering my new found abdominal girth.  While I only need the jacket, it was sold as a full suit and the light charcoal is apparently acceptable for trendy casual.  My sales associate Roland was on summer break for Boston College and seemed in tune with current trends and adapted them to my personal tastes.

Given my prodigious spending, I opted to open a Nordstrom account which comes with some nice perks including $100 in free tailoring annually.

All said and done, I spent a little bit more than I had planned, but am set up well with a very functional and versatile wardrobe for the next decade.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Key Largo

This past weekend we had the opportunity to attend my niece's first birthday party in Miami and parlay that with a couple of days in the Florida Keys.

We usually get together with family a couple of times a year and a first birthday party is as good an excuse as any to fly out to Miami.  We were fortunate to stay at the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove a few blocks from my brother-in-laws house.  The kids enjoyed time at the pool and dining out.  They did not enjoy the fact that the hot water boiler was not operational and we had to settle for cold showers or a shuttle to the Marriott sister hotel.  The event itself was well attended and catered by a local Indian restaurant, had fresh coconut water (complete with a duo opening coconuts on site) and slip and slide activities.

It is a little over an hour to get to Key Largo along US 1 and the Playa Largo is one of the newer resorts in the area.  They had a nice pool along with the ocean front property that had stand up paddle boards, kayaks and a catamaran for rent.  The resort also had other activities like tennis, basketball and ocean fishing, but we stuck to the pool and the ocean front.  I let myself down by not doing some open water swimming.  The water was 80 degrees and perfectly still and they even had buoys set up, but I was not up for a workout.  The dining options were reasonable and centered on seafood and was only moderately kid and vegetarian friendly.  We went off resort for dinner one day and brunch the next day.

I did get some scuba diving along Molasses Reef.  We went to two shallow dive sites that were well within my comfort level.

(1) Hole in the Wall - aka Yellow Brick Road - Max depth 30 feet, water temperature was 83 degrees and I was comfortable without a wet suit or even a rash guard for the 45 minute dive.  We saw manta rays and a shark in addition to parrot fish and other tropical fish

(2) Permit Ledges - Similar depth and water temperature, but with a bit of a current so it was a fun challenge to navigate around.  I saw another shark here in additional to the usual tropical fish.

Rainbow Reef was a pretty good outfit.  I rented a BCD and fins, but brought my own mask and regulator.  The dive boat took 28 of us out.  Maximum capacity was 30.  Two groups of 6 divers went out with dive guides and the remainder were participating in training.  They were organized and the diving briefings were very good.  Captain Wade and Luke took us out and Diver Tina (Dina) was my guide.  I am considering getting a travel BCD so that I can be less dependent on rental gear.  While in good condition it is always better to be very familiar with your equipment.

The drive and flight back was uneventful with the exception of checking out the American Express lounge at the Miami airport.  For those with a long layover, it would be a good opportunity to enjoy the spa along with food and drink.  It was a bumpier than usual flight back and we were all pretty wiped out.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

48 Hours in Memphis

It seems like the only times I had to visit with my parents this past year have been weddings or when they have come to visit Denver.  That is fun, but really doesn't give us much time to talk uninterrupted by life, children, etc.  With a cheap fare on Frontier, I decided to fly out for a couple of days.

It is nice to be of service.  I helped out with some visa paperwork so that my cousin could attend my sister's wedding in the fall.  I helped my Dad update his coin inventory spreadsheet.  Finally I helped clean out some of their storage spaces.  All said we sent about 150 books, 50 articles of clothing and a few household items to Goodwill.  I also filled the recycling dumpster and trash dumpster with stuff that could not be donated.  A lot of this was paperwork, hindi novels, household goods and children's toys.

The books were especially interest as my Dad's library could be categorized into religious books, coin books, bridge books, business books, English composition and grammar books, self help books and novels.  The books to keep were religious, numismatic and bridge.  The rest could be discarded.  I was struck by how much my Dad struggled with professional business conduct, speech and writing.  Although he made it look easy, I now better understand the struggle to survive and advance as an outsider in a US based business.

We had some fun also.  I got measured for a tailored suit by a friend of the family.  We also made a trip down to Tunica for some casino gambling.

While my parents health is good, I am glad that I can spend some time with them.  It is also nice to get a head start on cleaning up the house in case they decide to downsize to something more manageable.