This past weekend, I installed some component speakers in the front doors of my car. Quick side note: eBay rocks! I picked up a brand new set of speakers for about half of what they sell for locally. Okay, back to our story at hand.

It proved to be a fun project. I’ve never taken apart car doors, and figuring out where and how to mount the crossovers proved challenging, not to mention overcoming intense inhibitions to actually drill holes in the doors to mount the tweeters. Anyway, it was a fun project and the new speakers are a huge improvement. Think AM radio to CD quality sound.

But that’s not the meat of the story, so let me cut to the chase. I did the first door on Saturday, and, as you might expect, it took far longer than the second door which I completed Sunday evening. So on Sunday I’m cranking through the second door, hanging out with my brother-in-law Andrew, and I’m perhaps taking a shortcut now and then.

I’m making the modification to this plastic doohickey that serves no apparent purpose other than getting in the way of where I want to mount the crossover, and I decide to forego the jigsaw (which I had used on the previous door) since the plastic had seemed pretty soft. Well, once I got it in my mind to cut this plastic with an exacto knife, I sort of ignore the warning signs (e.g. the knife getting stuck) and decide I’m going to make it work, even if it means resting the plastic doohickey on my leg while pushing down really hard with the knife.

Right as I’m thinking “this probably isn’t too bright” and contemplating a retreat to the jigsaw, the knife slips out of the plastic, makes short work of my jeans, and ends up in my leg. Thankfully the blade was only extended about half an inch, and the jeans really did slow it down a bit. I sort of look up at Andrew, and he’s waiting for an indication that I did in fact just stick a knife in my leg before he bursts out laughing, so I graciously offer confirmation.

After retreating to the bedroom and dropping my jeans, I found a neat half-inch cut that was perhaps a half-inch deep. Interestingly, it didn’t really hurt for quite some time. However, I’m carrying my keys in my left pocket today so they don’t bump the wound, as the amnesty was only temporary.


On November 11, I quit working for Nortel. I had worked for Nortel for 11 years, one third of my life. On the 15th of November I entered a confused situation in which I am employed by Alcatel but working at Spatial Wireless, pending Alcatel’s acquisition of Spatial. It has been great fun so far.

A couple facets of the change stand out. First, the gentleman who called me up out of the blue to discuss the position (the man who is now my boss), was the same gentleman who interviewed me at Rice University more than 11 years ago on behalf of Nortel. Second, Nortel had been a pressure cooker for quite some time. I could envision risks associated with the new job, but if the frying pan is hot enough, the fire doesn’t look so bad… and none of those concerns have played out yet. I am grateful for the Lord’s blessing in this whole matter.

Here’s the downside (perhaps one day I’ll call this “the curse of Spatial”): since starting at Spatial, I’ve had bronchitis, a sinus infection, and strep throat. Along the way everyone else in the family has also been sick. Tricia has been a constant whirlwind of activity and largely kept things sane through force of will. She has been absolutely terrific!


I just wanted to take a moment to say a very Happy Birthday to my dear hubby. Due to an unexpected turn of events, his trip to Israel which should have taken place this week was cancelled, so we are thankful to actually have him here to wish Happy Birthday to. I am overwhelmingly grateful for Jay and for what he means to me and the children. We are immensely blessed to be the recipients of his love and devotion and care. WE LOVE YOU JAY!!

Trip to Israel

On Friday, November 14, I headed off to Israel on behalf of my employer. Now, the last time I had some international travel, both I and Tricia (on the home front) had enormously challenging situations arise (for those who regularly read House of Horne, think “duck foot”), so I was expecting this trip to be rather straight forward in comparison. Oh well.

One hour prior to landing in Tel Aviv after flying from DFW to Chicago to Zurich, I came down with a migraine headache. Thankfully, I had packed my meds in my carry-on. Unfortunately, they didn�t seem to work, and I was pretty much ready to throw up from the pain about two hours into the Israel international customs experience. I eventually made it to the hotel and got to sleep. The next morning, as the group I was with was to begin working, I came down with another migraine that lasted through the morning and into the afternoon. At that point, I was dealing with two major issues: 1) the hit to my body of the travel, migraines, and forced fasting (I couldn�t eat while having the migraines), and 2) utter terror that something had gone terribly wrong and I was going to have one migraine right after another indefinitely.

As it turned out, the second migraine was the last, so on Monday I commenced a day late one of the more challenging work weeks I�ve ever had. We were together working, eating and talking about work, traveling and talking about work, etc. for about 18 hours a day. We did take an afternoon off to tour the old city of Jerusalem (I�ll probably put up a separate post on the tour) and one afternoon to hit the beach (we were staying right on the Mediterranean).

I landed back at DFW Sunday afternoon… it is good to be home.

Revenge of Duck Foot

I arrived in Beijing late Sunday afternoon and successfully made it through the airport after standing in approximately 5 different long, slow lines. A driver, who had my name scrawled in black marker on the back of a piece of paper, was waiting in the crush of taxi drivers and others who were yelling at me to acquire my business. He spoke no English, drove like a man with a death-wish, but got me to my hotel in one piece. He held his steering wheel in what I believed to be a fairly unique way with his hands on the middle part of the wheel positioned such that he could either honk the horn or flash the brights in rapid succession with finger twitches. It didn’t seem to matter that he couldn’t work the turn signals from this position since he didn’t actually use lanes in the classic sense of actually driving in a particular lane.

Duck_Foot_small.jpgI didn’t sleep particularly well that first night though I was incredibly weary, having been up for some 30 hours. It more closely resembled four consecutive naps than an actual night of sleep. The first day in the office went well, though around four in the afternoon I found myself vertically challenged as my body tried to shut down. That night I got an actual night of sleep, though it was far too short (perhaps 5 hours or so). Tuesday was more of the same, but culminated in several of us going out to a classy restaurant. We had a nicely appointed room to ourselves with great service and mostly excellent food.

Now, I like to try new things, so when they served the duck feet, I figured I wouldn’t reflect on it, I’d just eat one. Turns out that this restaurant was classy enough to actually remove the bones. What I discovered was that once you take out the bones, the only things left in a duck foot are all the parts I most despise in any form of fowl: fatty skin, ligaments, tendon, and cartilage. It was utterly disgusting, but I got it down. The picture of the moment was taken on a phone camera, so its not the best resolution, but it captured the moment fairly well. I was glad to have the whole episode behind me and went on to enjoy the remainder of the meal.
Continue reading “Revenge of Duck Foot”

Getting to China

Near the end of May, the Nortel folks in Beijing that work the various Chinese accounts requested that we send someone over to discuss with them our network architecture evolution (background: I am the senior manager for Nortel’s GSM/UMTS media gateway product management team, but have a sort of side job keeping an eye on the overall network evolution on behalf of my boss). Two things quickly became evident: 1) that person would have to be me; and 2) the trip wasn’t likely given the SARS travel restrictions at Nortel.

The issue went back and forth for quite some time until the accounts managed to swing approvals from the relavent management types . However, this took place early in the morning on Wednesday June 4th, leaving very little time to pull off the trip given a planned leave date of Saturday June 7. By Wednesday afternoon, we managed to book my travel. On a whim, I happened to ask the travel arranger if she knew of any further arrangements I would need to make. Her answer was something along the lines of “just a passport and visa”.

At that point my admin, who was also on the call, said something like “I forgot about the visa” (as I had), so around 5 p.m. she (my admin) began frantically trying to make arrangements with an agency to pull off a two-day turnaround on a visa to China while I rushed off to get Visa pictures taken. She found an agency willing to guarantee a visa by early Saturday morning (right before my plane was to leave) but they reminded her we needed a letter describing the need for the trip and signed by HR. It was at this point that things got really complex.
Continue reading “Getting to China”

Greg’s Place

Greg Hewlett has a website now to chronicle his battle with cancer. For those who know him, there might be the expectation that it is a retrospective, since he lost a leg to bone cancer in high school. Alas, it is not.

I’ve known Greg since I was a freshman at Rice University. He was a senior that year, and I met him at a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting. That particular night a group of folks piled over to his dorm room after the meeting, and I happened to tag along. Upon entering the room several minutes after he had entered, I crossed over to say hi to him where he was sitting on the couch. Now, to understand this next part, you must know that Greg did extremely well with his prosthetic and had been wearing jeans that night. Quite frankly, I had no idea he had lost a leg (above the knee) to cancer� I merely thought he might have had a mildly sprained ankle that was causing him to limp a bit. Anyway, I crossed over to him as he sat on the couch. He was in shorts now, and had taken the leg off (though I had not seen it and still was not in a frame of mind that this was a man with a prosthetic leg), and it just so happened that the remaining portion of his amputated leg was in the crack between two of the sofa cushions.

I walked up to him and the first words I ever spoke to him (that I can recall, and spoken in total innocence thinking I was playing along with a joke) were, “Dude, you’ve got one leg.” I don�t remember exactly what he said (something like “Yep”) but I immediately realized what I had done. In response, I smiled and acted like I had meant to state an obvious truth� but how I burned inside.

Zip several years forward and I showed up at Town North Presbyterian Church upon graduating from college and moving to Dallas, where I soon ended up in a small group led by Greg. We’ve spent much time together in the intervening years, even taking Greek together prior to his time in seminary. We now serve together on the session at TNPC and continue to enjoy a steady diet of lunches with one another.

There are some friends from my past who I didn’t know all that well yet I wished I had had the opportunity to get to know better. Greg was just such a person, and by God’s blessing I have gotten to know him much better as the years have gone by. When I got the voicemail last week with the devastating news of the severity of his illness, I was at work on an elevator. As the message ended, I simply kept the phone to my ear so that no one would speak to me and tried to keep my balance as the world shifted.

I’ll have more to say in the future, but quite honestly I get choked up thinking about the whole situation and don’t really feel up to continuing at this point.

Let’s Hear it For Jay!!

IMG_0843_small.jpgI would like to take a few lines here to unabashedly applaud my wonderfully creative and gifted husband on his latest achievement: the Train Table!! Jay is not what you would call an experienced woodworker, nor does he have access to a fully equipped workshop. But when we talked about getting the kids trains this year for their Christmas gift, he mentioned how much he’d like to build a table for their collection.

Admittedly I was somewhat hesitant. Besides the aforementioned drawbacks, when would he possibly find time for such an undertaking? But Jay was quite certain he wanted to do this and so I encouraged him that I thought it was a great idea.

He did encounter a few frustrations along the way, mostly caused by a lack of proper tools for the job (thanks to David C for the use of his fine router!) but the finished product is proof of his hard work and determination. The table is a beauty. He designed it to be a bit larger than those generally sold so as to allow for more play area. The design is simple and compelling. Corners and edges are soft and rounded, very child-friendly. And it is sturdy enough for Jonathan to climb on top of it (which he’s already done several times!).

Most importantly, Abigail and Jonathan love it. And in this day of factory-made toys, etc, when we use our hands less and less to create, it is wonderful to me to see this table in our play loft, laden with trains and track, and think of Jay’s labor of love.

Musical Chairs

For those of you who know of my employer and are wondering, when the music stopped after this last announced round of layoffs, I still had a chair. Thus far, I’ve wound up with a chair through 5 or 6 major rounds of layoffs, as they’ve pulled out 65,000 of the 100,000 chairs. Perhaps I’ll make it through that last round and get to turn out the lights.

Working at Nortel

I don’t mention work very much, do I? For those who don’t know, I work for Nortel Networks. 2001 was the year to forget; yet I fear it will stay with me far longer than the ‘years of plenty’ that preceded it. Nortel scaled back a bit… from around 100k employees down to 48k. Here in Richardson we probably laid off well over 5000 of the 10k employees in town at the beginning of the year. Due to a promotion I received at the last January, I was far more aware and involved in the proceedings than I might have been otherwise. I had many formative experiences (let’s just say I had never seen people crying in the office prior to 2001). To be honest, I was absolutely certain I would start going gray before it was all over.

After enjoying a bit over a week off, I went back on January 2nd. I hadn’t realized how helpful the time off had been until I went back. It was like a shadow drifted back over me. The environment spoils what would be a major plus: the position I took last year is the first one that has given me that “Ahhhh” feeling of doing something for which I am well suited. The chaos of Nortel imploding makes it rather challenging to enjoy.