74) Hewlett-Packard, Fort Collins, Colorado


In my last post I disclosed my belief I had reached a milestone in my career drawing computer chips; I had become unemployable – or so I thought at the time. In this post you will read about a period of two years between 1996 and 1998 during which I began work at Hewlett-Packard (HP), enrolled the kids in Fort Collins schools, saved a down payment for a house and became consumed with Stevie’s worsening chronic pancreatitis.

The  Microprocessor Lab

At HP I was assigned to work in a group that was responsible for the development of a microprocessor known as “Cuda”. Sparing you some details, microprocessor layout is quite different from the work that I had done at Analog Devices. The project teams numbered in the hundreds, and the folks in layout worked 50 hour weeks for a solid year.

Daily Disciplines

My apartment in Fort Collins was located in a complex known as The Preserve. After working a 10 hour day, I would go to the gym, where I lifted weights, then to a restaurant to eat a salad or a charbroiled chicken sandwich. The best part about the contract with HP was working with Dave. Often we would have long walks on the campus and exchange philosophies about working for money or having money work for us. I was not yet positioned to have money work for me – passively, either in an investment portfolio or a self-sustaining business. But after nearly a year of talking about this, I had saved enough for a down payment on a modest house in Fort Collins, which Nadine and I eventually purchased.

Two More Mask Design Contracts: Boise and Tucson

Our work in the HP lab was going alright – although to my dismay, no one had heard of my groundbreaking work on the accelerometer, and as the project in at HP began to wind down in 1998, I secured two more short-term contracts with Micron Technology in Boise, Idaho and Burr-Brown in Tucson, Arizona.

Absurdity of Me Selecting Schools for Our Children

Nadine had sold the Londonderry, New Hampshire house and she, Jenner and Steve had taken up residence in our new house in Fort Collins directly behind the Miramont Health and Fitness Club near Lemay and Rule Drive. I had interviewed the folks at Preston Middle School and Werner Elementary School and determined the staff, curriculum, facilities and academic expectations to be quite good and reported my findings to Nadine. She and I then made arrangements for Jenner and Steve to attend the schools in the fall 1999 for eighth grade and sixth grades, respectively.

Although I had failed horribly in no less than 7 schools before completing undergraduate work at San Francisco State University, quite by magic I believed myself to supremely positioned to select a school district in Fort Collins for my children. Why? Because being a family man is the only thing I ever truly wanted from my life.

Stevie’s Condition Worsens

Later that year Steve’s flare-ups with pain from chronic pancreatitis continued randomly but became longer in duration and more frequent. By this time he was 12 years old and missing a lot of school at Werner. The medical staff in the Poudre Hospital system were trying to manage Steve’s pain by resorting to treatment plans that included deep breathing, positive imagery, meditation and message. Later, we tried things from the holistic realm including acupuncture, ra ki, cupping, and herbal nutrition. And finally, as a last alternative before surgery, Steve underwent a celiac plexus (nerve block). All without significant and sustained relief.

Did you ever want to make a bold, knarley career move across the country and then your spouse said no?

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