Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sunrise and Sunset

It may come as a surprise to most of you, but I tend to like a good sunrise.

And a good sunset.

Big surprise, right?

Lucky for me, the average life is blessed with about 25,000 sunrises, and almost exactly the same number of sunsets.  As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the change-of-the-guard from day to night and vice-versa.  I have a fond memory from when I was around five years old, being the only person in the house who was up, standing at the large front window to a house we lived in only briefly, and watching the sun emerge in the distance.

I've mused on it in verse and in prose, I've expended more film on it than I care to consider, and now over half of the pictures I have taken on my new camera and my phone are of it.

I suppose some could say I am descending into obsession.

So be it.

This week was great for a sunrise-sunset obsessed man such as me.  Beautiful rains masked the sunrise on Thursday, but as so often happens, it gave way to a spectacular display on Friday morning.  I spent a lot of time and a significant amount of memory card on Friday's show.

I suppose I will remain fascinated, passionate, obsessed and in love with the pivot points of each day for as many days as I remain on this earth.  And as long as people will put up with it, I'll share that obsession.

Here is a sample from Friday, September 26th's, morning offering.

I love a story with a happy ending...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Along the South Side

This was a full week.  Considering my recent life, saying this by comparison says a lot.

Work had some big ups and downs, I bought a new camera, I realized that a planned upcoming trip to be with my brothers is at the same time as some tickets I bought for a concert that I was going to see with my son.

But all of these things worked out, and beautifully so.

Then there was this concert here in San Jose on Tuesday.  Concerts are fun, they are a great escape, they are a way to get lost in the dynamics of the euphoria of a large group.

Sometimes concerts are more than this.

Back in April, I bought tickets to see the band Yes at the Civic Center.  Yes has been a part of the soundtrack of my life, and especially of my life with DeDe.  And when they said that the band would be performing the albums “Close to the Edge” and “Fragile,” two amazing albums, which we knew would not be easy to pull off live, well DeDe and I had to go.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you probably know that between April and now, I lost my precious lady.

I didn’t lose the tickets.

I considered not going for a time.  I thought it might be unbearable, less than two months later, to go to an event we had planned with such relish.

Loss of a loved one affirms the power of the human memory in a jarring way.  It plays on us through the grieving and the growing in the days that come after the loved one is gone.  It stabs us and strokes us in the many difficult and mundane things we need to take care of in the short shadow after that person has said thier last goodbye.

My daughter Cyn, a bonafide Prog Rock fan, and very much her mother’s daughter, agreed to come along with me.  We ate some tasty food at the venue and thoroughly enjoyed the opening act, Syd Arthur, who we met when Cyn bought their two albums and had the band members sign them.

And though Yes had band members who were not on the main two albums they played (Jon Davison on vocals, Alan White on drums, Geoff Downes on keyboards) every one of them “brought it.”

Chris Squire, a bassist extraordinaire, is also a great performer and brought many a laugh intermingled with displaying his virtuoso style.  The way he played a sweet little bass progression to the hushed audience, then he looked out at the crowd and lifted his right eyebrow about a quarter of an inch was priceless, and brought a convulsive laugh from me.

Steve Howe is the ultimate “cool nerd.”  The guitar geek in me appreciated how he used a modern modeling guitar and amp rig to coax the many sounds that he provided in the original albums.  The way he goaded an authentic twelve string acoustic tone from the little electric six string guitar reaffirmed his ever-present musical sleight-of-hand.  His slight frame, and the way he looked out over the crowd through his thick glasses, was a wonderful counterpoint to hefty and charismatic Squire who roamed the other side of the stage working the crowd.

I am so, so grateful that I went to the show, and so grateful to have Cyn as company.  At times, I got lost in the music.

Other times I stared at the rafters of the Civic Center and thought back in time.

The band Yes has moved on, and continues these many years past their forming back in the 1960s.  Do they sound the same as they did back then?

Yes and no.

But in the end, with their white hair and aging bodies, they managed to rock it, and bring the Civic center to life with music and life.

As I listened to “South Side of the Sky,” I was transported back to a barracks room in Augsburg West Germany, listening to one of my favorite albums of all time through my Bose 501 speakers, admiring the many amazing sounds and the orchestration of the music with a lady who would soon be my wife.

The barracks are now gone.  The band Yes has changed.  Even West Germany is materially changed, now reunited with the East.

I believe in an afterlife, and so though my lady’s physical presence is gone, I also know that this is just another change.  I felt her along with me at the Civic Center.

The moments seemed lost in all the noise
A snow storm, a stimulating voice
Of warmth of the sky, of warmth when you die

Were we ever warmer on that day?
A million miles away we seemed from all of eternity

(From Yes, Fragile, “South Side of the Sky”)

This week ended with an earthquake that shook Silicon Valley.  I don’t report this from my own eyewitness account, but from third party reports, including Cyn who posted to Facebook. 

I slept right through it.

Life goes on around us; some small things burrow into us, some big things slip right by.  Seldom do we really control which is which, and the best thing we can do is strap in as best as we can and continue to ride along to the next mile-marker.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Full Day in SV

It was a full day indeed.

It started early (like they always do) with some work to catch up on.  Got a lot accomplished.  Flash forward a couple hours, and I see the sky getting vibrant outside - a particularly beautiful sunrise emerging. 

Ran some errands around town, then came back and helped my son with his car.  Bought tickets to see Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Steve Winwood in October, then went to work.

The evening was lovely, having a nice dinner with my other son, then out for a walk.  Now, I'm back home with a cold beer in my hand.  Well, cold beer is not in my hand RIGHT now, as it's hard to touch type with one of those like that.

Any-who, all in all, a great day.

But the funny thing (funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha) was this deep, burrowing depression in the middle of the day.  Only lasted a few hours, but it was so intense.  To some degree, these come and go in my recent times, but it was strange how it popped in during a great day.  Or maybe it was the greatness of the day bookending the depression.

As I wrote her obituary in July, I had the phrase go through my head, "had I known her for just six months in the spring of 1981, I would certainly remembered her for the rest of my life, and been grateful for the brief friendship.  To have had 33 years, and a family, and to have shared so many joys and sorrows, is a gift beyond measure.  With that in mind, how could I be anything but grateful?"

And I am. 

It still hurts. 

But I am most grateful.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Empty Bottle Blues

Empty Bottle Blues
©2014 Craig Sorensen

     The setting sun
          turned the clouds

Eggshell white
     charcoal grey
          tarnished silver

Between them
     a cobalt blue
          empty bottle

Scent still strong
     a rich bay breeze

Recalls the

Too recently


Sunday, January 12, 2014


Over the years, I’ve caught bits of the movie here and there, but never sat down and watched it end to end.

Each time I’ve seen these bits of it, I’ve gotten some sort of nugget of inspiration, seen something pertinent to my experience at the time.  So when I recently watched a part of the movie again, I also set the show to record on my DVR.  I’m planning to watch it soon with all the undivided attention I can muster, given my current life’s engagements. 

Hopefully I won’t be disappointed when finally I see the full movie in context, end-to-end.  That has happened to me with movies before.  But I digress.

For those who don’t know, it’s a movie about a well planned and funded startup of the late-last-millennium, leading up to the famous dot com bubble burst of 2000.  The once-thriving young company, loaded to the hilt with venture capital and great ideas, went down in flames along with so many other wannabes. 

The dot com-bubble-burst impacted the team that I managed at my prior job profoundly.  A well staffed team that was developing some rather sophisticated integrated marketing applications was on the chopping block entirely.  But at the morning of the cuts, I had ten team members.  By the end of the day, I had five.   It could have been worse.   We provided enough value to the company to remain in place, though dramatically altered.  So while my team’s personal experience in totality, was not a happy story, it was certainly a happier outcome than the ultimate collapse of govWorks, the company documented in

Anyone who has seen a movie that somehow resonates with them, and have watched this movie at different times, will understand how each watching can reveal new truths as your perspective grows with experience.  How it can help reveal the sort of synchronicity that can mark points on a life’s timeline like cities marked on a map used for a long distance voyage.

In 2000, when the dot com bubble burst, I had perspectives that related to the events laid out in the movie based on some startups I had dealt with, and based upon a certain perspective on the business world.

But now, in 2014, I am in a true startup, in many ways, like the company in the movie.  I’ve watched the venture capital process, and how the power of the board influences the vision of the entrepreneur who started our company.  As my life has changed to this “insider view” this new perspective makes me able to see things in the movie, and in life, as I never saw before.  As I watched the characters, dynamics, and interplay within the movie, I more personally relate to the tensions that lie behind the many changes.  I see the tip of the iceberg, but knowing a little more about what lies under the surface, I have a sense of the cold that is unseen.

Some of this synchronicity is a comfort.  Some is not.

But such is the reality of life general, and such is the reality of the startup world, for an old school guy like me.  Maybe that is, in part, why there are only a handful of us that are over 40 in the startup company I am with now.

The only thing I know for sure, is I have no regrets in moving to Silicon Valley, the most fertile soil of the startup, despite the cautionary tale of

This adventure continues, and promising results in Q4 of 2013 at the company I work for bring many, many new challenges in 2014. 

So I’ll watch this movie, now in its entirety, regard both the caution and hope, and continue starting up.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

DeDe's Steak and Egg Breakfast

Thirty-three years ago, nearly to the day, this young couple met for the first time.  They became fast friends.  This picture was taken a month after that first introduction at a Thanksgiving party in the barracks: 

Their friendship was quietly growing at the time of this photo, the last day of 1980.  Then, they were still months from their first kiss.  Months from the Sundays that they would wake up early and go over to the Top 5 club on Sheridan Kaserne, for breakfast.  Months from the walks around post and through downtown Augsburg.

She didn’t like eggs then, steak was “okay” but not one of her faves.  He loved them both.

In their first year of marriage, living in a small apartment off post, he introduced her to eggs, the way he cooked them.  He’d always loved eggs, it was one of the first things he learned to cook.  He mastered them as a cook in a good restaurant in his home town.  The first time she bit an over easy egg he prepared for her, he knew he had her hooked.

He loved steak enough to make it for Thanksgiving of 1981.  See they had no oven, but had a hibachi grill, and the Bavarian weather was surprisingly pleasant that day.  She humored him and ate every bite.  And her taste for steak grew slowly, steadily, perhaps in part because he enjoyed it, as it made him think of his dad, who he loved very much. 

The young man carried on his dad’s tradition of t-bone steaks for dinner on Friday nights, cooked on a charcoal grill, for years.  She loved the tenderloin side the most.  Steak became a less common meal as the young couple grew old together.  Beef in general declined, as he grew to love fish the way she did.

Through the births of their children, she followed cravings that would later emerge on the appetites of their children as they grew to adults, but they always came back around to the varied, eclectic diet they had grown to embrace together.

In early 2013, she was diagnosed with cancer.  Emergency room, surgery, doctor’s office visits, gave way to chemotherapy, which sometimes sapped her strength, but never her spirit.  She craved protein more and more.  Eggs became a regular breakfast.  Roast beef or steak or burgers frequently made the menu for dinner when the chemo was doing its worst.

Last Friday, the man took a day off to be with his lady.  Something he had loved to do their entire life together, cook her breakfast, was the logical way to start this day off.  “What would you like?”

“A poached egg and some hash browns would be great.”

He had an errand to run before breakfast, and he made a stop before returning.  He started to set up in the kitchen.  “I know you asked for a poached egg, and hash browns, but how would you like a filet mignon, an over easy egg, and hash browns instead?”

She lit up in a way he had come to know in their many years together.  She lit up like that first solid meal in April of 2013, after the touch and go surgery to remove the tumor that had all but stopped her from eating.  She lit up the way she did when she ate that first egg he had made for her decades before.  She lit up like getting a Christmas present she never expected might come.  She lit up the way people light up for a surprise birthday party (the good kind, of course.)

See, he had recalled how she’d said something about steak the night before, and he knew her well enough to know this was a craving, and that once a craving took hold in her, it had to be satisfied.

Life became more precious this year.  Every meal is a celebration.  Every day, whether it’s driving down Fair Oaks for a chemo treatment, or simply sitting in the living room and talking about shared and diverse passions, is a reason to be thankful.

Years and years of cooking breakfasts, first as a pro cook, then as a husband, as a father, went into making this simple breakfast, served lovingly on a paper plate (a good quality one, though.)  It was a breakfast she would have rarely desired in the past, but picture perfect, for this day:

We are not in a position to force the course of events in our lives to our specifications, any more than we can change the course of our respective pasts.  No, we have today, and we have now, and we have each other.

We have the people we love, and the things that bring us joy.  For example, the joys of making breakfast then sharing it with a life-partner.

And that is what matters most.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The first rule of Eat Club is, we do not talk about Eat Club.

The second rule of Eat Club is, WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT EAT CLUB!

I look around, and I see a lot of you eating.

Which means a lot of you have been breaking the first two rules of Eat Club…

Okay, I apologize to those of you not familiar with the movie Fight Club, but every time I get an email from Eat Club, this bastardization from Tyler Durden’s monologue goes through my head – I couldn’t hold it back any further.

What is Eat Club?  They take lunch orders over the web, offering a number of different options, and they deliver a meal to your door.  The company I work for now buys us lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Most of those lunches come through Eat Club.

The point?  Well, the point is about one of the unusual dynamics of working for a startup.  I’ve never had a company regularly buy me lunch.  There are so many things I’ve experienced here that are so different than any work experience I’ve had before.  As I look around from my little desk amidst the overcrowded office, another difference becomes clear.  90% of the employees are roughly the ages of my kids.  I don’t know if this is common among start ups, but based upon the way we work, I have to believe that, to a degree, this is young person’s game.

A fundamental element that makes startups different is the entrepreneurial spirit behind them.  Like small established businesses, they can bear a strong imprint of their founders, but there is a temporary feel about this.  And this temporary sensation can be positive or negative.  But the temporary sensation is truly a part of the experience, at least mine.

Money comes from Venture Capitalists and clients, doles out to different aspects of the company to seed growth.  One area might get great attention, the other might be temporarily neglected.  There is a constant state of speculation.  Will it work?  What made it work?  Can we repeat it?  Is the road we are going down the right road?  If it isn’t, what does that mean?

The truth is, at least in my little corner of the startup universe, there is never a day when I wake up and know what I will do today.

Well, except for one thing:  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I know I will eat well for free.  I know that around noon will come the delivery person with the bright orange bags that contain the lunch I ordered earlier in the morning.

Three days a week, I’ll have a good meal, and if I’m not too busy, I might have it on the big balcony with some of my coworker, and enjoy the mercifully temperate northern California weather.

So, I guess now I’ve broken the first two rules of  Eat Club.  I hope Tyler will forgive me.