Moving On

I have reached that point in the past few days when you are ready to just move on. A decision has been made and the rest is just a matter of time. I am ready to leave New York and, provided I can find a job worth moving for, could go wherever I wanted. I can now say that I have lived in New York longer than anywhere else other than where I grew up. I have moved around a lot since 1997 and staying somewhere for four years is a long time for me, regardless of how quickly the time here has passed. But I have had my fun in New York and it is time to move on, personally and professionally. Sure, I’ll miss New York and always will because other large cities in this country are just not the same. The question on my mind, however, is where do we go from here? I am more open than I used to be, but that does not mean I would pick up and move just anywhere. Plus, we are in one of the worst job markets in the past many decades and finding a job may not be such a walk in the park, even with a New York resume. The top cities on my list, believe it or not, are Seattle, Dallas, Chicago and San Francisco. Maybe in that order. I can’t help but think that after living in New York for four years, housing prices everywhere else seems like a steal, as if we are somehow cheating, especially given the recent decline in housing markets across the country. If you could move anywhere, where would you go?

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San Diego Vacation

Last week we made what was our first and what may be our last vacation of 2008. We finally had the chance to take a few days off and relax and spend time with family. We went to San Diego where we rented a condo on Imperial Beach, just south of the city limits. We split the condo three ways among us siblings and went grocery shopping at the local supermarket to prevent the need to go out and eat each meal. We spent a few days on the beach and enjoyed the Pacific Ocean. We spent a day at Sea World and saw all of the shows and exhibits. We played games until the late hours of the night, talked and laughed and ate good food. We swam and relaxed in the hot tub in the summer weather. The atmosphere was vacation-like and the company was perfect.

If I could go back to San Diego with more time, the only thing I would do is actually see San Diego. To be honest, the central business district was not as pretty as I had imagined. Yet, it is unfair for me to pass final judgment until I actually see more. My sense of San Diego, however, is that while it is a large city by U.S. standards, it is also primarily a regional city. From a business or financial perspective, it is definitely not Los Angeles or San Francisco. The economy is much more regional and insular and is driven by the bio-tech and other new technology industries. Consequently, I am not sure it will be an area I will look to when the time comes for me to consider moving my career elsewhere. I would return again to the condominium complex I just vacationed at, and I would do so with the hopes of spending more time in the actual city instead of the beach. But my outlook at this point is that San Diego is not in my future other than for another vacation.

It’s Our Anniversary

Today is our four-year wedding anniversary. On this day in 2004 my wife and I married and two days later began the long drive east to New York. Everything we owned was in the yellow Penske truck that we drove, including the aging Toyota Corolla that we pulled behind us. We knew no one in New York, had no idea what the future would bring and made a leap of faith into the unknown. Now, four years later, I have lived in New York longer than anywhere else in my life other than where I grew up. My wife and I have established roots here in New York and have made some good friends. We have each completed our education and training and we have a beautiful daughter born in New York one year ago (the original due date was on our anniversary, but she was born a few days early and just turned one year old this past weekend). It’s hard to see our lives going any smoother than what we have experienced. The bumps along the road have been manageable and we can see the light at the end of the New York tunnel. Eventually, we will pack up our things and move on, perhaps making the same drive we did four years ago but in the opposite direction. But until then, we will continue to enjoy New York and each other. Thanks for the great four years, Honey. Happy Anniversary!

Increasingly Dangerous

Correct me if I’m wrong, as I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but it seems as if natural disasters are on the rise in the past many years. Hundreds of thousands of people have died by natural disasters alone in the past decade (if not more). I have been fortunate thus far in my life in that neither I nor my family have been involved in any serious natural disasters. But it can only be a matter of time before the next random event occurs in or near the area I happen to be residing. The question on many minds, however, is why is the increase in natural disasters occurring? Some see it as a sign of the latter days, a page taken directly form the Book of Revelations. Others believe it is our own doing caused by the damage mankind has inflicted on the world, damage that is rapidly increasing and shows little signs of abating. Still there are those that maintain that an increase in natural disasters is all a part of the earth’s natural cycle and there is nothing that we can do to stop it. Whatever the case may be, it’s chilling to think how much worse it may get if natural disasters continue increasing at the current rate. At some point in my lifetime, it is not extreme to believe that I will experience a natural disaster leading potentially to a breakdown of social order on at least a regional scale, if not nationally. That’s a scary thought. I can only hope that when the time comes I am prepared as best as I can be.

Energy – The Defining Issue of Our Time

Recently I have become extremely interested in the oil/gas and energy industry. I see it as one of the defining issues of the twenty-first century. From my perspective, the energy issue of today can be stated as follows: Will sovereign governments and corporations continue to find and exploit enough fossil fuels to provide affordable energy to a rapidly-growing world while at the same time discovering alternative means to efficiently provide for increasing global energy needs without irreparably damaging the planet in which we live. Here are some of my thoughts on the issue.

Our current global infrastructure was designed to run on fossil fuels and not on ethanol or alternative forms of energy. While the world’s energy use could and must certainly become more efficient, it is a farce to believe that oil will become less important in the decades to come, especially with the enormous amounts of fossil fuels still available and being discovered each year. Not to mention the energy demands that China and other growing economies will require in the years to come as developing countries become more prosperous. Contrary to what some believe, the idea that the U.S. can become energy independent is a fiction. Not only is the world’s energy industry one of the largest and most critical industries around the globe, it is also one of the most interconnected. Energy independence in the U.S. is no more a reality than is completely transitioning away from fossil fuels. That is not to say, however, that alternative energy should not be emphasized and increased. Alternative means of energy are essential and should be a focus. The U.S. government must be in the forefront in developing new energy technologies and industries. It’s baffling that there is no “Manhattan Project” or “JFK Man to the Moon” sensation underlying the global energy race to alternative technologies. Instead, the current alternative energy technologies we have require huge amounts of resources themselves while the resulting energy output hardly begins to meet the growing energy needs of any country, let alone the U.S., E.U. or China. I believe that fossil fuels will be here for decades to come, but until our leaders make cleaner, alternative energy sources a priority, little will change. And in the end, that could be bad news for us all.

The Great Saunter of 2008

One of the things I wanted to do in life was to run/walk a marathon. I did that on Saturday and more. Shorewalkers, a New York City-based organization dedicated to preserving the city’s shoreline while improving members’ health and stamina hosts an annual walk around the island of Manhattan each May. A friend and I completed the 32 mile walk this past Saturday and it was a great experience. We set out from the South Street Seaport on Saturday morning around 7:30 am. We rounded the southern tip of Manhattan and headed north along the lengthy Hudson River. The weather was perfect for walking, partly cloudy with cool breeze and no rain. I had done much of the walk before until we reached the west 90s. From then on it was virgin territory for me. I was impressed with the development of much of the waterfront and believe that the city has plowed millions of dollars into improving its parks and recreational areas along the waterfront in the past decade. I had no idea Riverbank State Park was so cool or that there were trails that go directly under the George Washington Bridge and the little red light house. I also found the Inwood community at the northernmost tip of the island quite pleasant. I hardly felt that I was in Manhattan.

Once we had reached the top of the island, we had to start down the eastside along the Harlem River and then the East River, eventually making it to the South Street Seaport where we started that morning. The walk along the Harlem River Drive was beautiful and relaxing. Construction and lack of development near Harlem along the waterfront required that we venture into the city for several blocks before finally allowed to head back to the waterfront. By this time our legs were both sore, but we had to finish. We had come too far to stop by then. We entered Carl Schurz Park in the east 80s and were told by those at the checkpoint that we were flying. We stayed along the East River until 63rd Street and were then forced to enter the city on First Avenue until 34th Street. From 34th Street down the Lower East Side it became a struggle to keep going, but we knew we had to. I downed some more energy drinks and power bars and by 4:30 pm that same day we arrived at the South Street Seaport. In nine hours we had walked over 32 miles and around the entire island of Manhattan staying as close to the waterfront as we could. It was quite the experience.  

Although there were close to perhaps 500 people at the start of the race, we only consistently saw maybe 15 or 20. We kept a good pace (about 3.5 mph) and hardly stopped to rest, as we knew it would be hard to get going again. We ate as we walked and talked, but towards the end it was about focusing on walking and any form of verbal communication was pushed aside. It was almost halfway through the walk that it hit me that I was about to walk much further than the 26.2 miles that make up a marathon. I’ve thought about doing a marathon and can now say that the New York City marathon doesn’t seem intimidating at all. If I can walk it, that is.

No Risk, No Reward

No risk, no reward. That’s the idea behind many of life’s decisions at home and in the boardroom. But how much risk is prudent? Should a steady job and paycheck be given up in the pursuit of one’s own interests and desires? Should a family be asked to sacrifice because of a potential opportunity that may or may not work out? These thoughts are on my mind as I look down the road at what may be. Unsatisfied with my current position in the business world and where it will inevitably lead should I choose to stay on track, I am thinking of making a radical change. But I have second thoughts. Would it be the best move, the best timing? Potentially, it could be an exciting and intelligent move into a field that is largely untapped and has tremendous room to grow. Yet, timing is critical. Whatever potential exists, it will take some time to cultivate the fruits of our labors. As such, I am in no rush to quit my day job. But the internal nagging remains each day as I sit in my workplace and know that there must be more to how we approach the business of our business. Why can’t anyone else here recognize this? The status quo is a one way road to nowhere. To me, the writing is one the wall and has caused me to think differently. The next several weeks will be the testing ground to determine if I am ready and willing to leave what is steady and accepted and commit to, just perhaps, one of the smartest moves I’ll ever make.