Nope! The times of receiving and giving are not over until I say so! You receive this in January on purpose, to give all of you the last surprise. I also need to confess that I did not send out the previous year’s letter on time, so you’re getting two this time!
I hope this finds all of you well. I started writing this from the redwoods of the southern Oregon coast near the state line as I return to this location after ten years ago (2007) to visit my grandmother. It’s a place to reflect on things without all the hype. I keep finding myself wanting to contribute to so much with little time to do it. But one thing I found deeply grateful for in the year was the following of good friends, colleagues, mentors, and family, that I can count on. Here’s why…
Life at work is compelling. iHerb.com celebrated their 20th year in operation, with our new warehouse in Perris, California, in full operation and our old one in Moreno Valley was decommissioned. Our Hebron, Kentucky, warehouse is up and running. Needless to say, the Development Operations Department has experienced some growing pains. Working between the software developers, security engineers, system engineers, and our network technicians, having a diverse understanding of our business logic is ever important. This year, I headed our expansions in Frankfurt, Germany; Sydney, Australia; and Tokyo, Japan, without having to even travel there. Our department has doubled in size and has been a challenge to keep moving along in projects as I train several engineers and write documents of our process. Our operation is now fully 24/7 staffed and am somewhat relieved by this accomplishment of the company. One thing is for sure, a process changes every few months and we may not even know about it. That’s the fun of a 24/7 E-commerce operation. Our CEO is the most generous guy you will ever meet and is thankful of this hard-working team. I can’t complain about that.
My non-profit work with the CSU Long Beach Foundation continues as we support the operations of Long Beach State Rowing and our alumni base of over 50 years. Our team returned to their national championship regatta in Gainesville, GA, after a five-year hiatus and we funded a majority of their cost. I closed out just over $15,000 of gift-in-kind efforts for all sorts of equipment, not including a new racing shell that was dedicated to John Cashman, a U.S. National Team member form the 1980’s. But something else even greater happened. Our association was a pioneer of the efforts to dedicate the Alamitos Bay Bridge, a portion of California State Highway 1, more popularly known as the Pacific Coast Highway in Southern California, to the late Joan Lind Van Blom. A year ago August, we lost Joan to an aggressive form of brain cancer if you recall from my last writing. Joan was the first woman to win an Olympic medal in rowing at the 1976 Montreal Games. We were successful through the help of the university, local authorities, and State Senator Janet Nguyen, in pushing through Senate Concurrent Resolution Bill (SCR)102, signifying all of Joan’s accomplishments. The association’s efforts were credited in text of the bill. The resolution was approved on the opening day of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio this last year. “Joan’s Bridge” dedication ceremony is scheduled in March. The camaraderie continues to be strong, time spent that I don’t complain about at all.
I was involved with a massive project this last year at the Pete Archer Boathouse of Long Beach, replacing the security system over the course of the summer. While the building resides on park land, it is privately operated, including CSULB as one of the tenants. My team crawled through dirty attics, dusty hideaways, and over rusty pipes to run wires all around the building and underground conduits. In just under three months of operation, Long Beach Police requested evidence of two incidents, one involving a marine radio stolen from a Lifeguard vessel, and the other involving an attempted theft of one of CSULB’s outboard motors on the docks. It’s scary what things happen in the middle of the night.
My duties as an official for USRowing continue to escalate. We saw the sport hit the big screens of NBC over the summer as the Women’s 8+ claimed the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio. One of my colleagues in our southwest region was selected to officiate at the event. Being selected to do that is equivalent of winning the Nobel Prize. Of course, we are all looking at the 2028 Olympics coming to Los Angeles. So far the rowing/kayak venue will be Lake Perris (really?). In 1984 the venue was out at Lake Casitas. All the way back in 1932 the venue was in Long Beach’s Alamitos Bay and Marine Stadium, where the waterway remains, but has had significant residential development and bridges constructed since then. Who knows where it will be. The International Olympic Committee has a decade to decide.
And now for something that was quite challenging. Apparently my fellow colleagues thought it was time for me to progress through the ranks of officiating. By surprise, I was handed a written exam two weeks before I was scheduled to be at the western college championships (WIRA) in Sacramento, on top of testing a new timing system I had been working on, still in the works. Apparently I passed and was going to be scheduled for an observation at the regatta. Great! Now I have several things to worry about at the same time! The weekend was exhausting, starting from having to “code” in the car on the way up to prepare the timing equipment, handing off video equipment to another person to deal with the broadcast, then worry about those watching my every move and those who were working under me. Well, I passed, and am proud to be a plenary official. The weeks in preparation for this regatta was not an easy journey. Having three big tasks under my plate and running out of time to get everything done made me pretty nervous running into this event. Somehow by the grace of God I pulled it all off. I have attended WIRA either as an athlete, chaperone, candidate, or assistant referee since 2007. Working at this regatta gives me a sense of nostalgia of the good ol’ days and a chance to do the things I love, sometimes more off the water than on, to spread the heritage and camaraderie of this sport. I want to personally thank my examiners for believing in me, and to all who make this regatta special, too many to mention. You know something is up when you are suddenly paired with several experienced officials at these events. Now I know why.
Something was brewing while I was out at the national college championships in Gainesville, Georgia. As you probably know this is where I’ve been involved with a national broadcast of the event for the past few years over Memorial Day weekend. A guy came up the finish tower and wanted to talk to me. I was approached to run the broadcast for the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, Massachusetts, the largest two-day regatta in the world. The first thing that came to my mind was how much more I can take on. This isn’t my job you know. It turned out that I wasn’t doing any of this work in the fall season, so I took them up on the offer to come out and observe the course just before Labor Day weekend. The game was on, and I have less than two months to assemble a team, get them trained, take care of the logistics, and figure out what else I had to build and/or acquire. I hate having to go back to the drawing board, but when an offer like this comes along, they make the R&D possible, which in return can improve the other events I do this stuff at. The event came and went and I have to say I have never seen the amount of preparation and people involved at a regatta, anywhere else in the country. I could talk for days about what’s involved, but I’ll let the broadcast speak for itself. In lieu of pulling my hair out at times, my friends started calling me, “oh fearless leader,” when my answer was needed. I thank them all for coming along and being a part of this journey. I don’t know where we’re going with this, but we are having fun, our viewers are happy, and we’re turning heads.
In honor of this “fearless leader” that everyone is claiming me to be, I leave you with this that I find intriguing.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decided to be.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
On to the next page?