Remembering Dad

That’s my dad, holding my infant self, in Oakland. California, in early 1953.

We’ve been here on Orcas Island since Saturday and it’s rained pretty much nonstop. No biggie. It’s what the weather forecasters predicted.

So why am I thinking about the sunny Southwest? And why am I thinking about spring training just as it’s come to an end? After all, the regular Major League Baseball season starts tomorrow.

It’s because of Dad.

My father died a year ago today, six days after turning 91 years old. In the year since then, I’ve thought of him often – and always with appreciation for the man he was and the life he led.

Read “90 years and still kicking”

Read “A son’s remembrance”

A man who valued family and faith and an honest day’s work. A man who could build or fix anything. A man who encouraged me to pursue the college education he never had a chance to dream of for himself. A man who was proud of his service as a Navy veteran and who served his community in Silver City, New Mexico, the place where he and my stepmother Oralia chose to retire.

Time and again at his memorial service, I heard my dad described as kind and generous and, quite simply, as a good man.

***

Dad loved baseball. It was my favorite sport, too, growing up.

At his service, I told the story of how he bought me my first baseball bat – a heavily-taped, too-heavy-for-me Willie Keeler model that cost him 50 cents at a weekend flea market.

We played countless games of catch in our backyard, and watched the Giants and Dodgers go to battle on our black-and-white TV screen.

When I joined a Little League team, he volunteered to be an assistant coach. When I moved up to Pony League as a 13-year-old, he volunteered to be the manager. During my five seasons of organized baseball, I don’t remember him ever missing a practice or a game.

san-francisco-giants-logo-transparentSeveral years after he retired, I made good on a vow to take my dad to spring training in Arizona. I flew from Portland to Tucson, drove 150 miles to his home in Silver City, picked him up and, the next morning, drove back 300 miles to Phoenix.

For three days and nights, we hung out together, taking in three ballgames in three stadiums scattered around the metro area. It was all I’d hoped for as a father-and-son experience. Sleep in, get breakfast, go to the ballgame, grab dinner, relax in our room, sleep and repeat.

I still remember seeing these teams with him:

  • A’s vs. Cubs
  • Giants vs. Padres
  • Mariners vs. Royals

And I still remember how content he seemed, sitting in the cheap seats with a beer and a hotdog, enjoying his favorite sport alongside his adult son.

Now that he’s gone, I hope to take a walk around Eagle Lake today with Lori and keep him close in my thoughts.

Dad and Ora visited us here once at our island cabin, and we took them on a short walk on the Lake Trail. Though he had slowed down some, I know he appreciated the natural beauty of this place.

Yes, my father was a good man.

I miss you Dad. Love you always.

Your son, George

 

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I already broke my resolution

smartphone addiction

Who’s in control? You or your device?

I flunked. No doubt about it.

Remember that pledge I made to “lighten up on the iPhone” this year and become “a smarter user about when and where to use it”? Yeah, that one.

Here’s how I fell short:

On Friday night, Lori and I went to see the Trail Blazers. They easily beat the Atlanta Hawks in a lopsided game that had people leaving early. I didn’t want to go, though, because I wanted to stay until the final buzzer, when the confetti rains down to signal a Portland victory. And, truth be told, I wanted to get a couple of photos to post on Facebook after the game.

As the game was winding down, a young man seated to our right began chatting us up. He and his date were friendly and, as one question led to another, we found ourselves talking about our marriage and our three kids. The guy had moved around a bit and was intrigued that our youngest child had moved from the Seattle area to the middle of Missouri after graduating from college

As he and Lori conversed, I found myself checking the remaining time on the scoreboard, wanting to be ready for the game-ending photos. The buzzer sounded and I got my pictures. We said goodnight to the couple and headed to the exit.

After we got home and I’d walked the dog, I selected some photos, wrote an intro and posted them, and went to bed. Next morning I was surprised to see something had gone wrong. No photos.

Was that a sign or what?

I could have taken the time to re-post, but I had to ask myself: Why? Who needs to know that you were at the game? Who cares if Portland won or lost?

And in that moment, I realized I had been a chump.

blazers-hawks

Why did I think it was so necessary to capture this moment?

I’d been handed an opportunity to engage in friendly conversation with a stranger, and I’d chosen to focus on a meaningless photo or two. While Lori seized the moment to be present, I only half-listened because my attention was elsewhere.

Shame on me. I’d broken my resolution one day after I’d made it public.

***

Though I’d already recognized the error of my ways, a column by The Oregonian’s Tom Hallman Jr. popped up in my Facebook feed and drove home the point.

The piece describes the change of heart that Andrew Sullivan, a renowned journalist and author, had after shutting down his blog in 2015, after writing 115,000 posts and attracting millions of readers.

“One of the great mistakes people make is thinking, as I did for a while, that being online and on your phone constantly is a wonderful enhancement, an addition to what you are doing,” Sullivan said. “But over time, you realize you are present, or you are not.”

Sullivan contends that the phone, always accessible, makes us believe we are connected. Instead, it renders reflection and perspective more difficult, and blunts our capacity to capture moments with meaning.

Hallman writes:

I thought about this on Jan. 1 when I stood outside to look at the supermoon, a term for when the moon orbits closer to the Earth and appears to be larger and brighter than normal. Instinctively, I reached for my smartphone to take a picture to capture the moment.

And then I put the phone back in my pocket.

That’s what I need to do more of in 2018.

***

Editor’s note: Thank you, Lynn St. Georges, my friend and fellow Boomer, for sharing the link. Here’s the column: Technology, the smartphone and the battle for our soul

Smartphone photo: i.pinimg.com

3 resolutions for 2018

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According to researchers at the University of Scranton, the three most popular New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, get organized, and spend less, save more.

All worthy goals, for sure. I’m keeping mine simple this year — simple as 1-2-3.

  1. Drink more water.
  2. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  3. Lighten up on the iPhone.

The first two need no explanation. The third means I’m going to strive to cut back on habitual use of that handheld device. This means reducing, not eliminating, my use of the iPhone. This means generally just being a smarter user about when and where to use it — and why I’m doing so.

It’s unrealistic to even think about severing the cord. As a communications professional, I rely on my phone for tasks big and small — texting colleagues, doing quick research, taking photos, checking email and keeping up with the news. As a consumer, it’s handy for maps, directions and business profiles, and a gateway to social media.

But there’s a time for everything. And my epiphany came last month as I was getting ready for a massage. I’d just begun to unbutton my shirt when a text popped up. I picked up the phone, paused — and then put it down.

It was from a co-worker. It was my day off. I was about to indulge in the luxury of an hour-long massage. Why would I even read the text, let alone respond to it at that particular moment? What would it hurt to delay reading and responding until after the massage?

It wouldn’t.

At that moment, I knew I’d work this into my resolutions for the new year. No more checking the iPhone before I even roll out of bed. More intentional, less habitual, use of the device.

***

A few numbers to chew on, courtesy of a 2016 study by dscout.com, a Web-based research firm:

Q. How often do we touch our phones?

A. Oh, only about 2,617 times a day?

That means that people tapped, swiped and clicked 2,617 times each day, on average. The heaviest users did so twice as many times —  5,427 touches a day.

Q.  How about sessions—how many separate times a day do people actually pick up their mobile phone to use it?

A. The average user engaged in 76 separate phone sessions a day. Heavy users (the top 10%) averaged 132 sessions a day.

Paul Lewis, writing in The Guardian, says these signs of phone addiction aren’t healthy.

“There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called ‘continuous partial attention,’ severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off. ‘Everyone is distracted,’ (34-year-old tech executive Joshua) Rosenstein says. ‘All of the time.’ ”

Read more about the dscout study here: Putting a Finger on Our Phone Obsession

Image: Digital Synopsis

Jordan at 30

SMU jordan

Jordan flashes a big smile after receiving his diploma during commencement exercises at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington.

Today brings yet another New Year’s Eve, but in our family December 31st means something more special: our youngest son’s birthday.

This year, it’s extra special: Jordan Emilio Rede is turning 30 years old.

Hardly seems possible but, yes, our little guy is saying adiós to his 20s.

Distance prevents Lori and I from celebrating with him in person, as he’s now living two time zones away. But that doesn’t lessen our pride and joy as his parents. And I’m sure Nathan and Simone would agree that their little brother has developed into quite a guy.

jordan-pumpkin

The pumpkin patch at Sauvie Island was always one of Jordan’s favorite outings.

Over the years, Jordan has transformed himself from an energetic, physically active, risk-taking adolescent into a solid, responsible young husband and father with a bright future ahead of him.

His trajectory in the last few years has been breathtaking. But let’s not get ahead of the story.

***

Growing up, Jordan was the most physically active of our three. No surprise, considering he started walking at 10 months, well before either of his siblings. He’d climb trees, skateboard and break dance. In high school, he played coed soccer, took up snowboarding and Shaolin kung fu, and wrestled.

When he joined the Army at 21, he took it to another level during basic training. I’ll never forget how trim and deeply tanned he looked when we traveled to Fort Benning, Georgia, in the summer of 2009 to see him graduate and become an active duty soldier.

Proud parents

Lori and George with Jordan in July 2009 following his graduation from boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Joining the military isn’t what we had in mind for Jordan, but he was intent on becoming an infantryman and seizing the opportunity to challenge himself and be part of a team in service to his country. Of course, we worried when he was deployed to Afghanistan for a 12-month tour ending in December 2012 — five years ago this month.

That day he returned to Joint Base Lewis McChord, safe and sound with hundreds of other troops, stands out as one of the most emotional days of our lives.

Read “A soldier’s return” here

welcomehome1

U.S. Army Specialist Jordan Rede with wife Jamie and his proud parents in December 2012.

Jordan completed his four-year enlistment the following year and since then, the years seem to have passed in a blur.

Using his G.I. Bill benefits, he enrolled at St. Martin’s University, a small school with a veteran-friendly reputation, and plowed through four years of undergraduate study in the sciences. From their home near Tacoma, he endured a daily 50-mile round-trip commute to attend classes.

In May of this year, at age 29, he graduated magna cum laude in biology. Along the way, he won a National Science Foundation summer fellowship to study at Marquette University, an experience that piqued his interest in science research as a career.

Read “Jordan’s Journey” here

Immediately after graduation, he and his wife and their young daughter packed up and moved to Columbia, Missouri, home of the state’s flagship university, where he began a one-year fellowship aimed at giving post-baccalaureate students more experience in the lab in preparation for graduate school.

MO jamie-emalyn-jordan

All bundled up in Missouri: Jamie, Emalyn and Jordan.

When we visited Jordan, Jamie and Emalyn earlier this month, we was just hearing back from the first of several top-notch universities he’s applied to in hopes of pursuing a Ph.D in genetics and microbiology. Early next year, if the best-case scenario plays out, he’ll have a choice of where to go. (No specifics here, but we’re talking about Ivy League-caliber public and private schools.)

During our visit, I had a chance to see the lab where Jordan works on the Mizzou campus. Impressive.

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***

In spite of all his academic accomplishments, nothing makes us prouder than seeing Jordan in his element as a husband and young dad.

He and Jamie, sweethearts since he was in high school, have been married eight years now. She has been the wind beneath his wings, offering love and support from Day One.

They were married eight years ago on a crisp fall day in southern Oregon, not far from where Jamie grew up on a ranch. She worked as a licensed veterinary technician for several years but has shelved that for now to focus on being a stay-at-home mom.

Their daughter, Emalyn, was born in July 2016 and we were privileged to be the first ones (other than Jamie and Jordan) to see and hold her as an infant, within hours of her birth. Seeing the three of them together, whether in their cozy townhouse or out and about on a holiday outing, brought smiles to our faces.

So much has happened in the nine years since Jordan enlisted. That was a turning point in his life, for sure, as it gave him purpose while testing him physically and mentally. I would have never imagined he’d follow a path leading from the military to the college classroom to a university lab, but I’m damn proud that he has.

Today stands as a major milestone in his young life. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

2017: A year of transitions

lori-george-binks

In a year of transitions, Lori and George celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary in September.

This year has felt like no other.

Seeing the White House change hands from the most inspiring president of my lifetime to the least qualified and least compassionate was bad enough. Watching that train wreck of a human being proceed to drive even deeper wedges into an already splintered populace — well, that was even worse.

But I’m not here to dwell on politics.

No, not even Trump can take the luster off a year that produced plenty of memorable moments for the extended Rede family.

Yes, there was sadness with the passing of my dad, Catarino Allala Rede, just six days after he turned 91 in March.

sc.catarino

The scene at the funeral home in Silver City, New Mexico.

But even then, there was a silver lining to his passing. I got to do a mini-road trip with daughter Simone to and from the Phoenix airport to Dad’s home in southwestern New Mexico. There, we were reunited with my stepmother, my two sisters, a niece, a nephew, and assorted cousins that I hadn’t seen for several years.

It’s funny how life’s milestones — births, weddings and deaths — are those that bring families together from near and far. But when your siblings and other relatives are spread out all along the West Coast — from Alaska to Southern California — that’s the way it is.

SC cathy-rose-george 2

With my sisters Cathy (from Dillingham, Alaska) and Rosemary (from Oceanside, California).

Aside from Dad’s death, this year of transitions was dominated by our youngest son’s graduation from college, followed just days later by his move to Middle America.

In May, Jordan graduated with a degree in biology from St. Martin’s College, a small Benedictine school outside Olympia, Washington, where he had commuted for four years from his home in Spanaway, near Tacoma. It was a remarkable accomplishment for someone who began college just months after completing a four-year enlistment in the U.S. Army, including a one-year posting in Afghanistan, and who became a father during his junior year.

 

We had barely had time to celebrate before Lori and I returned to Spanaway to help Jordan and Jamie pack up their house for a 2,000-mile move to the University of Missouri. There in Columbia, Jordan would do science research in a fellowship program designed to help students prepare for the rigors of graduate school.

Father and son embarked on a four-day road trip, with me driving a 20-foot U-Haul truck and Jordan driving the family’s Honda Fit, packed to the gills and including their two dogs and one cat. I had envisioned the trip as an upbeat adventure, but it quickly took a dark turn when the U-Haul truck got a flat tire on the first day and again on the second day in remote areas of Idaho and Montana.

We made it on schedule, but only after pounding through really long third and fourth days where sightseeing took a back seat to the urgency of sticking to our schedule. We arrived late on a Friday, unloaded the truck’s contents on Saturday, and I flew home early Sunday.

 

How I wish Dad had lived to see his youngest grandchild graduate from college and become a father, as well.

As for the rest of 2017, well, it’s no wonder it feels like these 12 months flew by. Lots of memories and two end-of-year milestones.

Travel: We stuck close to home with three trips to our quiet cabin on Orcas Island. We always look forward to the week-long respite from urban life. The trips entails a 250-mile drive to Anacortes, where we board the ferry for a one-hour sailing to the island, and then an additional 45-minute drive to our place above Eagle Lake.

Pictures are worth a thousand words.

 

In early December, Lori and I returned to Missouri for a quick pre-Christmas visit. It was a joy to spend time with our sweet granddaughter, Emalyn, and her loving parents.

Books: Literature is a passport of its own, with talented authors opening doors to unfamiliar places, people and experiences. Among those I enjoyed this year were: “Among the Living and the Dead,” a memoir by my Latvian-American friend and former colleague, Inara Verzemnieks; “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest,” the last in the trilogy of Swedish crime thrillers churned out by the late Stieg Larsson; “Hillbilly Elegy,” a window into the Appalachian hillbilly culture written by one who escaped, J.D. Vance;  “Lab Girl,” a peek into the world of Hope Jahren, a pioneering research scientist; and “Evicted,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning examination of American poverty through the  racist practice of eviction. (Racist? Read the book and you’ll see what I mean.)

 

Music: I like to think I have broad tastes, though family members would disagree.  But, what the heck. I think I did pretty well catching a handful of concerts featuring artists ranging from Janet Jackson and Coldplay to Lady Antebellum, Michelle Branch, Tuxedo, Liz Longley and ZZ Ward.

Movies: No links this year because I wasn’t as diligent as usual. But I did enjoy “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” “Detroit” and, most recently, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

Visitors: We had a surprise visit in early May from Chiho Hayamizu, a lovely young lady from Japan who was just 20 when she came to live with our family during a year of study at Portland State University. Our oldest child, Nathan, was just 13 when Chiho moved in with us in the spring of 1993.

Chiho, now 44 but still looking 20 (and even 30) years younger, was back in town for an unofficial reunion with friends who’d also been exchange students in Portland.

lori-chiho

Lori and Chiho: Radiant smiles, no matter the location or the year.

In October, my best friend, Al Rodriguez, came up from Santa Barbara to spend a few days timed to coincide with the annual Voices of August writers meetup. It was great hanging out with my longtime buddy, whether it was grabbing lunch from the downtown food carts or attending opening night of the Trail Blazers’ 2017-18 season. (They actually won!)

 

In November, two of Lori’s best friends, Terry (Long) Mullaney and Lin Dillon, came up from San Francisco for a long weekend of sightseeing and hanging out. Lori and Terry grew up on the same city block, and the two of them met Lin at the all-girls high school they attended. Nice to see such an enduring friendship.

Voices: For the seventh consecutive year, I curated a month of guest blog posts during the month of August. It’s become something that I look forward to every year, the opportunity to be informed, inspired and entertained by a changing cast of friends, relatives and online acquaintances, with ages ranging from 14 to 65-plus. Each person writes on a topic of their choice and does so in a way that brings variety and texture to the whole.

VOA 7.0 group

This year’s VOA peeps gathered Oct. 20 at McMenamin’s on Broadway. Front row, from left: Gosia Wozniacka, Elizabeth Gomez, Jennifer Brennock, Lynn St. Georges, Lori Rede, Lakshmi Jagannathan. Back row, from left: George Rede, John Killen, Bob Ehlers, Al Rodriguez, Keith Cantrell. Not pictured: Eric Wilcox.

This look back at 2017 wouldn’t be complete without two final notes:

— This is the year both Lori and I moved into a new age bracket: 65. She’s still rockin’ it as the owner of her personal training business and I’m enjoying my work as well, as an adjunct college instructor and part-time communications coordinator for a local education nonprofit.

— Chalk up another year with our two pets: Mabel, the mellowest of cats, and Charlotte, the energetic mutt who’s won our heart with her antics and underbite.

charlotte monkey

Up to no good. Again.

 

 

The mother of all milestones

SMU nathan-simone-jordan

Three reasons to be a proud father: Nathan, Simone and Jordan, all gathered at a family dinner in May 2017.

So I’m sitting in my favorite chair, with my little dog stretched out atop my lower legs, and I’m looking out the window at a silvery-gray sky. It’s perfectly quiet.

“I don’t know what to think or how I’m supposed to feel,” I say.

“It’s just like any other day,” Lori responds.

“Is it?”

A milestone day I never imagined has arrived. On this 27th day of December, life’s odometer has reached LXV. The Big Sesenta y Cinco. Sixty-Five.

An age that officially makes me a senior citizen, though some businesses and organizations consider you to be so at 62 or 60 or even 55. Whatever.

In any case, I’m now 65, eligible for Medicare and Social Security.

I don’t feel it. I’m still swimming, running, lifting weights. Working three part-time jobs: teaching at two universities and working for a local nonprofit. Reading, writing and blogging.

Two thoughts come to mind:

— The two people who gave me life are both gone now. My dad, Catarino, died in March of this year, six days after reaching his 91st birthday. My mom, Theresa, died four years ago in October, one day short of her 86th birthday.

I am eternally grateful to them for instilling so many enduring values — of hard work, honesty, loyalty — that I’ve tried to live by, as well as pass on to our three children.

I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without their love, support and encouragement. Neither had the opportunity to attend high school (though my dad went back and got his G.E.D. much later in life). Both worked a variety of blue-collar jobs and took pride in my earning a college degree, knowing I could then make a living with my head instead of my hands.

— I have much, so much, to be grateful for.

Three adult children — Nathan, Simone and Jordan — each with a personality as different from the others as one can imagine. Two daughters-in-law — Kyndall and Jamie — and one more —  Sara — who will become the third next May. One granddaughter. Emalyn. Everyone in the family healthy, happy and gainfully employed, or else in school or at home by choice.

Two furry roommates that provide entertainment and companionship: 12-year-old Mabel, our brown tabby cat, and 4-year-old Charlotte, our border terrier mix.

One wonderful wife. Lori has been with me since college and at least a half-dozen moves, most of those coming in the early years of our marriage. She adapted every time as we moved from San Jose to Portland to Bend to Salem to Ann Arbor, back to Salem and up to Portland again, finally settling in a place that brought financial stability and a great city in which to raise our family and build our careers.

SC.jacketI know I drive her nuts after 42 years of marriage, with my forgetfulness and I’ll-get-to-it-in-just-a-minute approach toward too many things. But there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t recognize what an amazing and tolerant and generous woman she is. I love her deeply.

And not to be overlooked: My stepmother, Ora, now living without my dad in the home they made together in his native New Mexico. We grew very close over the course of her 46 years of marriage to my dad, and I am grateful for her love and support as well.

So, is turning 65 just like any other day?

We shall see.

Today I’m wearing my dad’s San Francisco 49ers jacket, the one I inherited upon his death. Wearing it with pride.

 

 

 

My other job

pwa door

Behind this door in a modest school building office, five staff members, including myself, work for the nonprofit Portland Workforce Alliance.

A year ago at this time, I felt like a first-grader walking into a new job at the Portland Workforce Alliance, an education nonprofit in east Portland.

This week, I felt like a second-grader returning to that job. (Well, maybe a better comparison might be a high school freshman becoming a sophomore.)

What’s the difference?

Last fall, everything was new. With a year of experience under my belt, everything is a lot more familiar — the work, the people, the acronyms, and the physical surroundings. I’ll get to each of those in more detail, but first a few words about the organization.

Portland Workforce Alliance is a small but muscular nonprofit, leveraging modest financial resources and a ton of volunteer energy to make a big impact in the lives of countless teenagers in the Portland metro area. Founded in 2005, PWA has a well-defined mission of connecting young people to great jobs.

With literally a handful of employees, it builds relationships with local employers and educators to serve up a steady diet of career-related learning experiences that introduce area high school students to jobs and careers that might have eluded them otherwise. The school year calendar is loaded with career days, field trips, job shadows, internships, mock interviews, classroom visits — and the NW Youth Careers Expo, a signature event that brings 150-plus employers and 6,000 students together for a day of career exploration at the Oregon Convention Center.

CHECK OUT A ONE-MINUTE VIDEO OF THE 2017 EXPO

PWA does all of this Career Technical Education work as a complement to our public schools. The organization has contracts with three metro-area school districts — Portland Public Schools, Parkrose and North Clackamas — that provide most of its revenue, and relies on grants and donations for the rest.

It’s an organization I’m proud to work for. As a first-generation college student coming from a blue-collar household, education is at the top of my list of professional and personal interests. With the encouragement of my parents and the help of a high school journalism adviser who recognized my potential, I was able to recognize my passion early on and get on the path that would lead to a satisfying career that spanned 40 years in various newsrooms.

Now, I’m a former journalist teaching at the college level and helping young adults acquire internships. That work fills up my weekday mornings. Fortunately, I’m able to devote three to four afternoons to part-time work at PWA. This other job does my heart good knowing I’m part of a team working to help students get started on pathways to rewarding careers in technology, architecture, health care, skilled trades and construction, and other well-paying occupations.

That feel-good energy is reinforced knowing that PWA puts extra effort into outreach at highly-diverse, high-poverty high schools where students often come from homes where no one has attended college. I know what it’s like to navigate the college application process on your own. I also know it doesn’t have to be that way. So anything my peers and I can do to demystify the process and help students explore where their interests might take them is something we embrace. Their success is our success.

***

Much of the appeal of my job lies in whom I work with.

Kevin Jeans Gail, a former neighbor, is the founding executive director of PWA. It’s his vision, energy, networking and optimism that drives the agenda and tone of what we do and how we do it. Kevin is an amazing bridge builder who brings schools and businesses together for the sake of a stronger future workforce.

pwa-breakfast-2017-kevin-gail-speaking-with-students

Executive Director Kevin Jeans Gail introduces student panelists at the 2017 PWA Breakfast held in advance of the Expo.

Susan Nielsen, my former co-worker at The Oregonian, is the program and communications director. She works tirelessly with principals, teachers and career coordinators to determine student interests and then works tirelessly with Portland-area employers to schedule an array of career days, classroom visits and other activities to meet those interests. She also oversees our communications, ranging from the web site to social media to newsletters. Susan does it all with good humor and a second-to-none work ethic.

Kristen Kohashi, our lone millennial, is the program manager. She is a graphic designer whose multiple talents in photography, typography and layout result in attractive and easy-to-digest fliers, brochures, posters and pamphlets. She’s our one-person IT department. In addition, she works with Kevin in managing every aspect of our related nonprofit ACE Mentor Program of Oregon, which offers intensive after-school training to students interested in Architecture, Construction Management and Engineering. Last spring, ACE awarded $75,000 in college scholarships to 16 Portland-area seniors.

Sherri Nee, also a former journalist, is the program development manager. Hired just this fall, she is the “new kid” this year. She works with Susan on the front lines with students and teachers in developing career-learning experiences that range from the construction trades to nursing to advertising and much, much more. Sherri brings previous experience with two student-focused nonprofits she helped start.

I’m the communications coordinator, primarily working with Susan on grant writing, web content and miscellaneous projects involving data collection and analysis.

READ THE STAFF BIOS

Though we have clearly defined roles, some tasks call for all hands on deck. This is most evident in the months of work leading up to the Expo, but pitching in also can take the form of assembling file folder materials or setting up a room for a meeting of the board of directors.

Speaking of which, we’re fortunate to work with a diverse group of about 30 business and education leaders who volunteer their time to support the work we do and help us recruit new companies and individuals to the cause.

READ ABOUT THE PWA BOARD 

I pinched myself last year when things fell into place at work. After I left The Oregonian at the end of 2015, I had nine months to relax and recharge. When I went back to work, I found myself starting fresh with adjunct teaching gigs at two local universities and this, the perfect part-time job — all of it revolving around the education of college and high school students.

One week into my second year on the job at PWA, things are looking mighty fine.

42 big ones

1977_Lori-George

Lori and George in 1977.

Exactly 20 months after our first date and little more than a year after graduating together from San Jose State, Lori and I got married 42 years ago today.

September 6, 1975, was a typical late-summer day in San Jose, California. Hot and dry with a view of browned-out hills. We were 22 years old when we exchanged vows.

These photos, taken two years later, show just how beautiful my young bride was at that age — and how damn lucky I was (and am) to marry her.

1977_Lori-Gayle

Lori and Gayle, a former college roommate, on a day hike in 1977.

I’ve done the math, so trust me when I say these 42 years mean we’ve now been together for 2,184 weeks and 15,330 days. Add in 11 leap years and you get a total of 15,341 days.

That translates to 368,184 hours and 22,091,040 minutes and 1,325,460,400 seconds (1.3 billion seconds).

Silly? Yes, of course.

The most important numbers? We have raised three wonderful children. And after all that time together, each of us is committed to one love, one partner, one marriage.

 

1977_Lori-George (2)

Lori and her first husband, Tony Orlando (kidding!), against the backdrop of Central Oregon. We were living in Bend then.

For what it’s worth, most Americans marry once and stick to it.

According to 2010 census statistics, more than half of the nation’s married couples have been together at least 15 years. About a third have marked their 25th anniversaries, and 6 percent have been married more than 50 years. (Source: The Washington Post)

Photographs: Brian McCay

 

 

A rookie no more

OLive

A few of the notebooks and other items, including a pica pole, that I used to keep at my desk in The Oregonian newsroom.

As the month of June comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the good fortune that has come my way since I began teaching as an adjunct college instructor last fall.

In the nine-plus months that have passed since I walked into a classroom on the Portland State University campus and faced my first group of students, one opportunity after another has presented itself. I’ve said yes to one thing, only to have another thing come my way, and then another and another.

Never could I have imagined I’d be in this place so soon after making the transition from veteran journalist to rookie college instructor. But I’m grateful, even if I have to pinch myself from time to time.

***

I taught a single class at PSU during the fall, winter and spring quarters, each one lasting 12 weeks. This summer I’m teaching two four-week sessions back-to-back. The first class began this week. The second one starts in late July.

Meanwhile, I taught two communications courses across the river at Washington State University Vancouver during the spring semester from January to mid-May. Combined with the single PSU class, that meant I was managing three courses at once for most of the 16-week term. It was a stretch, requiring two days a week on each campus, but I managed.

This summer I’m teaching a single class in Vancouver.  Yesterday marked the halfway point of the eight-week course. I gave the midterm exam, welcomed a guest speaker, and met with each student individually after class in the fresh air outside the classroom.

PSU shirt

You can’t teach at Portland State without a branded T-shirt, right?

Looking ahead to the 2017-18 academic year, both campuses want me back. WSUV has me lined up to teach one class in the fall and one in the spring.

PSU wants me to teach a single class during the fall and winter quarters (nothing in the spring) and become the internship coordinator for the Department of Communication.

On top of that, a key contact in PSU’s Education Abroad program is encouraging me to pitch a course that would enable me to teach overseas sometime next year.

Can you believe it?

Those of you familiar with my journalism career know that I spent a decade at The Oregonian as the newsroom recruitment director and internship coordinator. So here I am, 18 months removed from leaving the newsroom, and I’m being given the opportunity to essentially build another internship program for a different employer and a different set of students.

What a perfect fit of my skills and background with the department’s need and desire to do a better job of helping students secure internships in public relations, advertising and communications. A primary goal is to ensure that they and their employers both benefit from the experience.

Starting in the fall, I will likely have no more than a handful of students to supervise, as the onus is on them to find and arrange an internship. Once I’m in the new role, the expectation is that I’ll be able to help place students with a variety of employers and provide ongoing support to ensure they are successful and doing meaningful work that relates to their academic major and career aspirations.

This vision no doubt will require lots of networking with internship coordinators already doing similar work for other campus departments, as well as with area employers who’ve had interns or are interested in having them. By adapting best practices to the Communication Department program and tapping the experiences of recent interns, I hope we’ll be able to develop a robust program that serves everyone’s needs — student, employer, university — and lays a foundation for a sustainable program.

I look forward to the challenge, confident that much of the work I did 20 years ago — advocating for students, building partnerships and strategic networking — will still be relevant and useful in a 21st century media environment.

***

None of what has transpired — and, certainly, none of what lies ahead — would have been possible without the help of key individuals on both campuses. So here let me express my gratitude to a handful of folks:

cindy coleman

PSU Professor Cynthia-Lou (Cindy) Coleman.

Cynthia-Lou Coleman. Cindy is a tenured professor and former chair of the Communication Department and she was the one who encouraged me to apply as an adjunct. She’s provided valuable counsel at every step of the way as I’ve gotten my foot in the door and become more established at PSU.

Jeffrey Robinson.  Jeff succeeded Cindy as the department chair. He’s the one who brought me aboard last fall and asked me to teach again during the winter, spring and summer. He approved a teaching assistant for me for an unexpectedly large class during one term. Most recently, he surprised with me with the proposal for 2017-18 that includes the internship piece.

Ky Tran. Ky is the all-purpose finance and administrative specialist who welcomed me to the department. She has been indispensable as an all-purpose resource, helping me figure out which campus buildings were located where; providing support for guest speakers; answering questions about payroll, student evaluations and other mundane matters. She’s moving on to a new job next month in the private sector and I know everyone in the department will miss her.

Ky Tran

Ky Tran greeted me warmly and was an invaluable resource during the past year at PSU.

Becky Kearny. Becky was a lifesaver during the winter term. As my teaching assistant, she helped grade certain assignments, kept track of student scores, did a lot of photocopying and provided useful feedback on my teaching methods and lesson plans. Becky was a straight-A student herself who excelled while managing a blended household of five girls, including three who were in college at the same time as her.

Narayanan Iyer. Nanu is program director of the Integrated Strategic Communication program at WSUV. He’s the one who brought me aboard in January and since Day One has provided encouragement, positive feedback and continuous opportunities to teach. He also has filled in for me as a guest lecturer when I’ve had to miss a couple of classes.

wsu. nanu iyer

Narayanan (Nanu) Iyer heads the Strategic Communication program at WSU Vancouver. 

Last but not least, my wife, Lori. She encouraged me initially as I set out on this new path but undoubtedly had second thoughts as our evenings and weekends were gobbled up by the workload associated with my classes. For each one, I had to create a syllabus and a weekly schedule, then develop lesson plans and lectures. I also had to assign, read and grade assorted papers;  put together midterm and final exams; and keep in touch with students, faculty and guest speakers.

No one sacrificed more than Lori during these first few months of 2017 and I am deeply appreciative. The workload has slackened a bit during summer and I’m confident I can manage it effectively when the new school year begins this fall.

Next: The joy of teaching

 

 

Two tributes to a great dad

SC.ring-watch

I inherited two prize possessions after my dad’s death. The watch is linked to his long service as a union member. The ring, with a ruby stone, honors his service during World War II.

 

George and C.A

Son and father during a 2014 visit to Silver City, New Mexico.

On this Father’s Day 2017, I’m sharing two tributes to my late father, each of which was read aloud at his funeral two months ago.

My wife, Lori, couldn’t be there with me in Silver City, New Mexico, when we buried my 91-year-old dad. But she did share memories of her father-in-law, which I was proud to share with family and friends who attended the April 6th funeral Mass at the Catholic parish that Dad and my stepmother Ora attended.

Separately, I offered my take as the son of an extraordinary ordinary man.

Here they are:

***

Words For Dad | Lori Rede

I have had the privilege of being the only daughter-in-law to a gentle man named Catarino.

I proudly called you “Dad” for some 42 years because you were like a father to me in every sense of the word. You always warmed my heart when you called me “mija.”

I lost my own father twenty-five years ago. Having you in my life was a joy for me.

You were a hard-working soul, a man of integrity who took great pride in all of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, sincerely interested in all of our endeavors.

I know you were especially proud of your grandsons who served in the Armed Forces. That pride gave me comfort when our youngest son, Jordan, was deployed to Afghanistan.

Always supportive, always understanding, you watched as your family moved around the country and pursued our interests. You instilled the values of independence, responsibility and self-reliance in all of us.

Wherever we lived, you and Ora always made it a priority to visit us and we appreciated that.

dad and lori gift

Lori, a native San Franciscan, watches as the birthday boy shows off his 49ers license plate in March 2016..

One of my fondest memories was watching you garden and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Not only would you grow a variety of peppers, but you would can them and cook with them, remembering to save a jar or two for me.

Up in Oregon it’s almost time to plant some peppers, and I will think of you when I garden.

There will be much to miss about you, Dad. We are the individuals we are because you had a hand in shaping us. This is a part of the legacy you leave behind.

A couple of others are:
Your silly jokes that George continues to repeat.
Your funny pronunciations of Spanish words. I think I will forever call “tortillas” “torpeders.”

Farewell, Catarino.

I know my parents are happy to see you again up beyond those pearly gates.

 ***

A son’s remembrance | George Rede

A father holds a special place in a son’s life. He can be a positive influence or a negative influence. A role model of what it means to be a man. Or an example of how not to be.

I am fortunate, so fortunate, that my father was someone I could look up to and learn from and love.

I could talk for 30 minutes about Catarino Rede but I’ll try to take just three minutes.

First, the short version: My dad was perhaps my biggest supporter. As someone with a grade school education who made his living with his hands in a variety of blue-collar jobs, he provided an example of taking pride in his work, in showing up on time, in performing at a level that he could be proud of. Likewise, he encouraged me to push myself and aim for opportunities he never had himself. He supported me in every job I took, in every move I made (in a geographic sense and in a career sense), and as fellow parent and husband.

Second, we shared a love of baseball, too. I will always appreciate that my dad volunteered to be a coach, and then a manager, of my Little League and Pony League teams. While other dads sat in the stands or maybe didn’t attend the games at all, my dad was one of those who stepped up to be there not just for the games but for the twice-a-week practices. We played catch in the backyard — a timeless pastime enjoyed by fathers and sons throughout the ages — and it paid off when I became a pretty successful pitcher as a 15-year-old.

Third, let me tell you a simple story that illustrates how a gesture can mean so much more than money. I must have been 8 or 9 at most when my dad took me to a weekend flea market. We strolled between the aisles of used merchandise, much of it worthless, much of second-hand, much of it forgettable. But it was there I got my first baseball bat. It bore the signature of Willie Keeler, a turn-of-the-century player who played for the New York Highlanders and was known as one of the best hitters of his time.

The bat was long and heavy, so much so that a skinny kid like me had trouble swinging it. It had black tape around the handle and, if I remember correctly, a small nail embedded in the lower end of the bat. My dad paid 50 cents for it. And though it was used and endorsed by a player who had died in 1923, some 40 years earlier, that bat occupied a special place in the corner of our garage. Much like my father occupied a special place in my heart.

***

If your dad is still alive, give him a hearty hug or at least a phone call to offer your thanks. (Texts don’t count.) If you are a dad, embrace the responsibility. Anyone can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad.