Traveling as I Turn 55

“Happy Birthday, Love and Hugs” greeted me first thing in the morning, a message from my sister Margaret.

At 5:45 am Josh drives to me the airport, the plane to San Francisco departs at 7 am. I have a day filled with meetings ahead of me.

Working on my birthday—a necessity for this self-employed engineer. A long-time consultant counseled the following– each month you need two weeks of billable hours, one week for professional development and one week for marketing/networking.

So I find myself on my birthday traveling.

At the airport I panic when the TSA officer states my electronic boarding pass doesn’t show the Pre-check. Yikes, I’m cutting it close to make the plane. To the airport counter I go. Corrected boarding pass in hand- I breeze through the TSA process. A quick synch on email on the phone and the computer. Set to board.

I have no time to check Facebook for birthday greetings; I can do that later.

While the air-fare was a steal, traveling in and out of San Francisco International airport is not as convenient as the San Jose International airport. Instead of walking across the street, you take a train to the rental car center. At least being a Gold member of Hertz I skip a line.

At 9:15 am the traffic down to the south bay seems average congestion. Arriving at a Palo Alto Starbucks I greet Deanna with an early “Happy Birthday;” her birthday is the very next day. With my tea drink in hand we get down to business.

Entitled “Journey to Successful Presentation at a Technical Conference” she provides encouragement on my course idea. “It’s needed, people ask for it all the time, no one else is doing this, you can take it to corporations, definitely you can do this online.”  She provides excellent feedback on length of the class, how best to create a community of people trained with this training and not spreading myself thin.  I can giving a 1 hour talk on this subject at the conference she organizes.  In addition, she can connect me with people asking for this kind of training.

A great present for me on my birthday- validation that I have a marketable course.

No time to check for Facebook birthday greetings.

Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley campus resides at the NASA Ames Research Center. I reverse the buildings for the lunch seminar and my contact’s office. A quick phone call and John escorts me to the room, points out the food which I gather with everyone else. He introduces me and I make a 30 second intro. A student presents his research on applying machine learning to chat bots.

For a life time learner, I received another present for my birthday- I learned something new.

No Wi-Fi available to check Facebook.

Behind Intel’s SC 12 building I drive to the top of the parking garage, I arrive just in time to meet Senthil at a café next door. We exchange on what each of us is doing. I share my next phase for The Engineers’ Daughter blog site. Collecting stories at conferences will play a key role in funding the activity as well as generating future content. He shares his passion for working on educational technology projects. In addition, Senthil shares that startups are looking for advisors; he and several others have been approached. I mention I would be interested in such a position as it makes good use of my many years of semiconductor manufacturing test experience.

I give him two of my cards. Another birthday gift for me- extending my network in the direction of startups.

After working on some emails using the café’s Wi-Fi I drive out to a shopping center that resides along US 880. Finally, I find the entrance to the bakery that my colleague Al has suggested for a meeting place. Tea, bread and cakes are available.  I eye the cakes- dinner will be at the consultants meeting. I have cake before dinner- tis my birthday/

I met Al through the layoff mail list over a year ago. He specializes in failure analysis. I recently connected him to a client I have signed on to represent. In talking to Al about Intel’s operation I gather more information about how FA labs work and any info on Si debug labs.  We discuss tools, software and engineer in the trenches frustrations.  We could use that frustration. Like most large companies there exists a lot of internally developed technology, in some ways that’s the harder competition. We come up with some approaches to collect info and what looks to be a promising infiltration path. He agrees to provide some feedback on the survey.

I leave with another birthday present- information, a path and an ally.

Sigh, by the time I reach the consulting networking night I discover I’m too late for food. The break between a special working group and the regularly scheduled meeting provided ample time for consumption. Good thing I had packed some nuts and grilled summer squash. An engineer from NeoJ4 discusses graph engines for storing data. I’m fascinated– this topic could help with my ideas on sharing data across boundaries in the semiconductor industry. Definitely something to learn more about.

Another birthday gift- a new topic that could help in my research.

Afterwards I talk to the speaker about the problem I wish to solve. A young man, Danny, also has some questions as we walk out to the parking lot. Danny studies economics. He mentions hailing an Uber; I ask where he lives. Santa Clara- hey that’s on my way to the airbnb in San Jose. I insist on driving him home. Been provided a lift many times in my student days.

On my birthday I don’t forgot to help others. It’s part of my character; thankyou Mom and Dad.

At 10 pm I arrive at the correct block; the lack for street lights obstructs my ability to read the house numbers. Eventually, I identify the house. As I get out of the car John, one of the hosts at the airbnb, greets me. I take him up on the offer to take a bag.  Big sigh, been a long day and I just want a good night’s sleep.

No time to check Facebook- that’s a planned belated birthday gift for tomorrow.

Have a Productive Day,

Anne Meixner

Dear Reader, please share your comments and stories that are sparked by this piece.  How do you spend your birthday on a work day?  See Contribute for how you can share a story at The Engineers’ Daughter.

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