Sunday, May 17, 2015

I Happened Fifty Years Ago

About three hours east from where I sit is Lake Charles, Louisiana. It was there, fifty years ago today,..I came to be.

..even then, the hat.
I must admit the first few years remain a bit fuzzy.

My earliest memory is still about the time I turned three. I remember living in the Riverside section of Orange, Texas.

I remember well the day my sister arrived.

As a child my free time was spent playing Pop Warner football. Kind of a family affair - my dad was the coach, my mom was Team Mom and my sister was a cheerleader.

Growing up in Southeast Texas, we also spent a tremendous time on the water... fishing, hunting, skiing. By the time I was twelve I had my own boat.

In high school I signed up for Data Processing. The instructor was Junios O. Tuley but everyone called him JOT. He was an ex-Air Force officer who understood the goal of the class was to plant the seed, to spark interest. Boy, did he.  We actually punched cards back then. You youngsters have it so easy. I loved the discipline and the precision required for computer code to work properly. At the same time, tremendous creativity could be brought to bear on a solution. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Went to Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. We had no PCs, We had a VAX and a Honeywell mainframe. You would submit your programs and grad students would compile them and run them overnight. You would come back the next day and receive your output. I remember the angst of seeing a compilation error due to something like a typo and having to do it all over again. You youngsters have it so easy.

Really? Forget Harvard??
Back then college was affordable. With only a part time job, I was able work my way thru school. Never threatened the Dean's List, but the requisite wild oats were sown. Life was good.

After graduation I took up dBase and FoxBase to maintain inventory for a building trades manufacturer I worked for, I was able to transfer within the company to our California plant and ultimately to the Oregon facility. Loved living in the Pacific Northwest. So much to explore...snow skiing...the outdoors...Yes, life was really good.

Here is where the plot pay attention.

I returned home to Texas for a visit and came into the company of Dianne Richards.

In Dianne, I found someone who shared my core beliefs, but at the same time was much more of a free spirit. She lights up any room she walks into and has the ability to make each person she meets feel special. A ski trip to Vail. A visit out to Oregon and within months we were married. She left a life of her own back in Texas to join me. She's the one who gambled, but I'm the one who cashed in.

We lived in the coast range of Oregon between Newport and Philomath. She took a job with Oregon State University. I ran a hosting company from the house. Life couldn't get any I thought.

A little over a year later our first born arrived. Madelyn Elaine Latiolais. We call her Maddie. She's a whole lot like me. Driven. Intelligent. Stubborn. Voracious reader. She's unique in that she's extremely analytical yet artsy and creative at the same time. She's got in her the best of Dianne and the best of me. She will excel in whatever she attempts in life.

It was time to go legit. Took a job near Denver, Colorado coding Oracle Reports. So from Oregon to Colorado we went. Dianne and I bought our first house together. If you could believe it, life got even better.

We soon began to tire of the seventeen hour drive back to visit family in Texas. I took a job in San Antonio doing Oracle development.

San Antonio was very good for us in that it brought us closer to our families, was able to advance my career, but most of all it was the birthplace of Mason Luke Latiolais. Mason is a real lover of life. A people person who shares Dianne's musical ability and my love for music. At nine years old, an accomplished piano player. So young, so talented. Life just kept getting better.

While at San Antonio I petitioned management to go to KScope, Kaleidoscope as it was then called. I'd been reading the ODTUG Technical Journal for a years as well as the mailing lists. I definitely wanted to see and experience it in person. Two words - awe-some.

The next few conferences I got to know Mike Riley and a few of the other board members like Bruce Bergman and Jeff Jacobs. I was asked to serve on the conference committee for Kaleidoscope 2009 in Monterrey, California.

One thing led to another and the next thing I know I'm on the ODTUG Board of Directors. A few years later I was asked to serve the organization as President. I
owe a debt of gratitude to ODTUG, because the membership houses my closest friends the world over. From Estonia, to Canada to Venezuela to Australia, the Middle East, India...and all points in between.

In order to get even closer to family we moved yet again. This time to Houston. I'd like to think we're done moving. I'd like to think the roots we're putting down now will run deep.

I want to make mention of another development from the past year that really affects how I look at fifty and how I look at the next twenty years. Last August, I accepted an offer with Insum Solutions. I now work from home which allows me to spend more time with my wife and family. Work life balance is within sight. If life got any better, I don't think I could stand it.

Wow, it all happened so fast. Elders will tell you it will, but you don't believe it. As a child and young adult you're always wanting to get to the next thing. As you age you realize it's much more about savoring the moment.

I'm fifty. In some ways I thought I'd be further along. I figured I'd be a grandfather by now with retirement in sight. Both will have to wait.

To the men in my family, THANK YOU for the work ethic, the grit and the determination required to make one's mark on this world.

To the women in my family, THANK YOU for smoothing my edges and giving me an understanding that in order for me to win it's not necessary that someone else has to lose.

Yes, it's at these milestones that we take stock. We look back, but in true optimists fashion I choose to look ahead. The sun will come up tomorrow and don't ask me how it happens, it will shine brighter than the one from earlier today.

I don't know what the next fifty years hold in store, but I do know that with my wife and my family and my friends I'm going to take my time, enjoy the ride, and savor each and every moment.

...our journey continues

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