Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

February in Europe

Posted: February 18, 2012 in Travel, Work

In February, John took a twelve day trip to Europe for work. Though there was a fair amount of actual “work” involved, he did manage to have some fun too.

The first stop was Newcastle on Tyne, England. John stayed in a hotel just across the street from St. James Park, the home of Newcastle United FC.

There was an opportunity on the first day, the “recovery day”, to tour the city a bit and John and his colleagues did just that. Their tour started with a trip down Grey Street – the heart of Grainger Town, once voted by the BBC to be the best street in Britain!

They took off on a search for the Vampire Rabbit and found it near the St. Nicholas Cathedral before strolling to the river past the Castle Keep and the Black Gate and grabbing a bite to eat at the Slug & Lettuce pub – sadly, the slugs were out of season but they did have some lettuce! From the pub, they had beautiful views of the Tyne waterfront and The Sage performance hall.

They strolled a few bridges before returning to their hotel to meet up with additional colleagues for a pint at Rosie’s Bar and a great dinner in the oldest dining room in the U.K. – Blackfriars. The intriguing foods included wood partridge and “Medieval Meats” along with blood pudding and quail eggs.

After meetings at the lovely Vermont Hotel, they took business tours to Darlington and Wooler before moving on to Porto, Portugal.

In Porto, they’d arrive at their very dark hotel, El Teatro. They’d pass through theatrical curtains and motion-activated stage lights to find their similarly dark rooms. The décor took a bit of getting used to, but the hotel proved quite comfortable and accommodating. A Friday of meetings was concluded with an excellent dinner at Restaurante Escondidinho.

Saturday would be a play day. John was up early for a walking tour of the city before being joined by a colleague for a trip to the beachfront village of Matosinhos and a lunch of barbeque fish at O Valentim near the ocean shore. Here John picked the Black Scabbard fish to try and saw it prepared on the front sidewalk grill before being finished in the kitchen. Just great.

From there, they traveled to Vila Nova de Gaia on the south side of the river where they’d ride the gondola down to the river’s shore for some strolling and a stop at the Ferreira Cellars for a tasting of port. Tawny indeed!

Later that evening they had a chance to see up-and-coming violinist Alexandra Soumm together with the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música at the Casa de Música. The modern musical hall was beautiful and, although the performance started with the premier of a modern piece commissioned specifically for it, the dissonant chords soon gave way to enjoyable pieces by Bartók, Paganini, and Blacher.

On Sunday morning, they departed Porto for Madrid, arriving late in the morning for early check-in at their hotel. John headed out immediately for a tour. He began at the Museo Reina Sofía where he enjoyed the abstract pieces by Picasso, Dali, Miró and others.

A walk through the Parque del Retiro was followed by a visit to the Museo del Prado which, although it has a highly respected collection of European masterpieces, John found less enjoyable than the Reina Sofia.

A quick rest and then dinner of cerveza and paella was followed by a visit to Estadio Santiago Bernabéu to see Real Madrid FC take on Levante UD in a La Liga game. Levante scored first followed by three Real Madrid goals from their star player Cristiano Ronaldo. Real would go on to win 4-2 making the crowd of 75,000 quite happy.

After meetings the next day and with the arrival of more colleagues from Rome and Madeira, a nice dinner was had at Restaurante Ferreiro.  If there’s any question in your mind, Spain truly is the Land of Ham.

They enjoyed a nice lunch with their customer the following day at Araceli – another classic northern Spanish restaurant with more ham!  And some awesome fish too!

The next day would be a trip on the high speed AVE Renfe trains to Sevilla and back. Great views of the Spanish countryside on the glass smooth 2-1/2 hour trip. Not only did we clock the train via GPS at 170+ mph, but we also got to see the aftereffects of when a high speed train meets a low speed bird!

There was a quick tour of Carmona’s back roads and fields before a late return to Madrid and dinner at the Real Café – cool place with views into the stadium at night. Looks like a lot of work to get that grass to grow!

On Friday, John was up early for one last tour of Madrid’s Centro area before heading home. He squeezed in the Puerta del Sol, the Plaza Mayor, the Almudena Cathedral, the Royal Palace, and a few other spots before somewhat reluctantly returning to his hotel to begin the trip home.

Though the return was threatened by a strike by the Iberia Airlines pilots, John got home on time and settled back into the home routine. Back to work!  Now, for the strong of heart, many more pictures here!

Advertisements

Land of the Tiger

Posted: December 11, 2011 in Vacation, Work

In December, John made a business trip to Bangalore India to visit a customer there.

Departing on a Saturday night, the first stop was Sunday morning at London’s Heathrow Airport. John was here just long enough to catch a nap and a pint.

From there, it was on to the city of Bangalore and the Blue Petal hotel.

After a nap and a trip to the local mall to do a little Christmas shopping, we had the first of many Indian meals and settled into a routine of working with the folks back in the USA as their day began in our evening.

Work occupied the next days. We did have an exciting trip to a cell tower…

Of course, every trip in Bangalore is exciting because of the notorious traffic. It’s not just the cars, it’s the plethora of motorbikes, auto-rickshaws, trucks, buses, and even cows that make the roads really exciting! Here’s John’s video excuse for being late for an evening conference call – pretty typical in Bangalore.

There is an amazing range of culture here – from the poorest to the richest. We tried to see the full spectrum!

On our last night in Bangalore, our hosts treated us to an outstanding dinner at the absolutely gorgeous ITC Windsor Hotel. The building had served as a British government headquarters until India’s independence in 1947. Today, it’s a magnificent hotel with restaurants including the Royal Afghan where we dined in luxury by the pool. What a treat!

It was up early the next morning for the marathon trip home. Up at 3:30 AM for a 4:30 departure from the hotel, a 7:50 AM 11 hour flight from Bangalore, a quick beer at Heathrow, and another 7-1/2 hour flight before arriving in Boston, 26 hours after waking, at 7:15 PM.  Talk about a long day!

It was an exciting trip but it’s good to be home.  Give me Massachusetts any day!

Chile Isn’t

Posted: November 6, 2011 in Vacation, Work

John traveled to Chile at the end of October. It was mostly a work trip but he got to tack on an extra day at the front to play tourist a bit.

He spent a good part of a weekend in Santiago, the capital city, enjoying the Chilean spring. After arriving on Saturday morning and a cab to his hotel to drop bags, John set out on walking tour of the city.

After catching the tail end of the changing of the guards at the federal building, the first adventure was in the Municipal Park – a great elevated pastoral respite with awesome 360 degree views.

Next came an exploration of the shopping district and it’s vendors. Halloween costumes were in big demand!

Though the name confused some, the Hotel Plaza de San Francisco, so named from its proximity to the Iglesia San Francisco below,  provided comfortable lodging and a fine Saturday night seafood dinner.

More walking on Sunday led to the discovery of the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM) and its striking architecture. The stained glass-like skylights and the metal superstructure were particularly impressive.

A bit further down the road, John discovered the Funicular San Cristobal and it’s $4 round-trip ride to the summit of Cerro San Cristobal in the Parque Metropolitano. The summit was impressive with its chapel, amphitheater overlooking the city, and statue of the virgin Mary.

John also observed the effect of “El exceso de información” or “Too much information.” Reminded him of Midnight!

A cool beer at Pio Nono’s “Blue Bar” was called for…

Then it was a two-hour flight north to Antofagasta and a drive to the mining community of Mejillones where he’d spend the week working on his company’s new storage installation there. Though on the coast, the landscape was mostly dirt and electrical wires – the community exists to support the mining operations off in the mountains with port operations, electricity generation, etc.

The rest of the week would be spent on the Angamos Power Plant construction site where’s John’s company, A123, is installing a 20MW grid stabilization battery system. Pretty exciting to be there when the first of ten battery containers arrived!

It was a great trip! There are many more photos here for the strong of heart!

MORE Career Transitions!

Posted: January 3, 2011 in Work

As if buying a house and John changing jobs weren’t enough stress for the family, Shawn’s job had recently become a bit “tenuous” as her firm was having difficulty being successful in the markets where her expertise lie and she became doubtful about the long-term prospects.

So, word got out that Shawn might be looking for a new position and, before long, folks came knocking! She was fortunate to have been “wooed” by a couple of companies that wanted to leverage her experience and reputation and, though she really liked working for Black & Veatch and the people she worked with there, she had to balance job security with everything else.

In the end, Shawn chose to accept a new position with an old employer. When she and John met, they were both working for a company in Burlington, MA named Xenergy. Though still in Burlington, the company has since become part of KEMA, a “leading authority in energy consulting and testing & certification.”

She starts at the new place on January 10. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Career Transition

Posted: December 2, 2010 in Work

Word came down on October 6 that John’s group within Motorola would be slashed by 50%.  Out of the 170 positions in his group, 85 jobs, including John’s, were gone. Like Shawn last year, he was laid off.

John knew something was coming, but hadn’t anticipated the scope or the direct impact. He was given two weeks notice and 14 weeks of severance pay after that. That gave him through January to find a new job and he was on a mission!

Fortunately, there seemed to be a lot of leads out there for Project and Program Managers and John followed a bunch. He felt very blessed by all the friends and colleagues that were eager to offer information about openings, references, or even just words of support! It’s great to have great friends!

He managed to be off on his first job interview prior to his last day of work. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, he had two job offers in his pocket. The following week, he would receive a third, and had two more still in the works when it seemed time to make a call. In some ways, it would have been easier if he’d struggled and found only one offer!  Each of the openings he was offered had very positive aspects to it and making a decision was tough.

A123 LogoOn December 13, John starts work as a Senior Program Manager with A123 Systems. A123 (NASDAQ: AONE) is a battery company on the cutting edge of nanotechnology. Their state-of-the-art lithium ion battery cells have applications in the rapidly expanding hybrid automotive field, for portable power tools, for stabilization of electrical power sources, and in many other areas that leverage their lightweight energy density advantages. It’s a cool “green” job that draws on John’s more recent Program Management experience as well as his long-term interest in the energy field.

The commute’s a bit long but John’s really excited about the job, the positive impact of A123’s products, the company’s future and his part in it!!  A huge THANK YOU to all of those who helped him through this transition!

New Job Means Baseball!

Posted: July 10, 2009 in Work

Shawn lost her job in February – laid off the day she returned from our Mexican Vacation after 12-1/2 years with Global Insight. She did receive a nice severance package so she set to work painting the deck, working her garden, and enjoying the spring while feverishly working her network and contacts.

Happily, on June 22, she started a new position with Black & Veatch in their Enterprise Management Solutions group.  She’s pretty excited about the new challenges and especially about her new commute – she’ll be working from her home office!

Of course, one of her first duties was to attend a regional meeting in New York City. Among the grueling tasks thrown at her was attending a New York Mets game in their brand new Citi Field stadium!  It ain’t no Fenway but she still had a great time!

Third Annual Motorola Day of Service

Posted: October 15, 2008 in Work

October 15 marked the Third Annual Motorola Day of Service. Last year John spent a day in one of the Lowell middle schools introducing kids to the joys of engineering. This year, things got a little dirtier as John and nearly forty of his compadres headed for the nearby Lowell National Historical Park.

John led a crew of nine who spent the day cutting brush, hauling the trimmings, raking, and sweeping in an effort to clean up some of the park areas near the Tsongas Arena and LeLacheur Park. Since it was an absolutely stellar fall day, it was doubly pleasant being outside in the sun while giving a little back to the community.