Nick Update.

I’m really proud of my son Nick.

We moved last summer from near Arlington, WA to just outside Bend, OR. This happened between his Sophomore and Junior years at High School. Moving when you are a kid is tough, and moving as a teenager is even tougher. My parents moved when I was a teenager and I was morose for the next several years. Not Nick. Despite leaving the place he grew up, a place where he had accumulated quite a nice group of friends, he has hit the ground running here in central Oregon. He ran Cross-Country in the fall, and at the urging of several of his teammates, decided to give Nordic skiing a try. The very first time he ever put on XC skis was on November 20, 2010. Three months later, last weekend he competed at the Oregon State High School Championships… and placed 26th in the state!

Here’s a few photos of him from the meet:


And a photo of the whole Bend High School Nordic Ski Team:

The 2010-2011 Bend Senior High School Nordic Ski Team. Can you spot Nick?

Here’s a clue for the sight-impaired. 😉

Winter Arrives

Winter has arrived in Central Oregon, and with it a new pastime.

Nick has been running Cross-Country competitively for many years, and the XC season ends as soon as the snow falls. But now that we live in the mountains instead of at their feet he’s taken up a new sport: XC Skiing.

His new High School has a Cross Country Skiing team and he’s decided to join, despite never having put on the skinny skis… ever. The team started practice, in the form of running and general exercise after school a few weeks ago, but yesterday was their first venture “on the snow.”

We drove up to Mt. Bachelor and they took to the Nordic Center courses en masse. I tagged along with my camera.

Wax on, wax off.

He's getting the hang of it.

Life Update

I’ve been too busy at work and home to post here of late. I’ve been trying to settle into a routine here in Central Oregon, but still haven’t really got the house sorted out. Nick & Sue have had over a month to unpack their things, but I’ve been on the road for Facebook, learning how they do things in their existing datacenters for most of the past three months (when I wasn’t moving from Washington to Oregon.)

I spent yesterday unpacking the workshop. It sort of became the “catch-all” spot to throw stuff while we unloaded the moving truck. The shocking realization that this workshop is probably one-sixth the size of our former barn sort of hit me as I was unpacking. I always had plenty of open space in the barn. Not so here.

I barely made room for one car. It is going to be a while before I genuinely have the place set up for car maintenance and repair. I’m going to have to build an addition on to it first to set up the home-brewery. Stay tuned for that.

Work is great. It is wonderful to be on-site in Prineville. There is so much to do, and be a part of! I can’t wait for the whole crew to be here at once, and the real datacenter work to begin. Meanwhile it is all about completion of the first phases of construction and commissioning. I’m doing my best to document it all with my camera. I share daily snapshots with the rest of Facebook on our internal websites. You can keep tabs on what we’re doing by photos posted on the official site, some of which are off my G1. See if you can spot them.

My commute is a refreshing change from the Seattle freeways I’ve been battling for most of my life. It is all two lane roads through the Central Oregon High Desert – sage and juniper, mixed with cattle grazing land. If I keep my eyes open I get to see things like this:

Young coyote hunting mice near Powell Butte, Oregon.


This morning I pumped the hydraulic fluid out of my car lift and dismantled the lift mechanism.

This is essentially the final step prior to moving. I’ve packed up and organized everything else. The movers come in a little over a week. On Tuesday Nicholas & I depart for Oregon as he begins school on Wednesday. We’ll be living in a hotel for at least a week while the house closing completes. It has been a long and stressful month for the Goolsbees… here’s hoping things start to smooth out going forward.

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Pixels!

Apologies for the lack of updates this week. It has been a crazy 10 or so days.

In short: Sue & I flew down to central Oregon, and found a new home, then we came back and I’ve been working like mad to prep our current home for sale.

As far as house-shopping goes, I am a good husband and just let Sue find what she wanted. I only ask for enough garage/workshop space for my hobbies of old British car maintenance and homebrewing. Everything and anything else is just a “sure honey, whatever you want.”

The choice came down to two places (after discarding dozens of alternatives) and both had excellent detached workshops for me. One had a stunning 270° hilltop view of all of central Oregon and the Cascades from Bachelor to Adams, along with a Garage Mahal of a workshop… easily room for a half-dozen cars and then-some. Unfortunately the house itself was … odd. Really a bizarre mish-mash of architectural styles thrown together in an outrageous excess of late90s/early00s Mcmansionism.

The alternative, and the one we ultimately chose, is a very understated and elegant house, that fits our personal style. It has a modest view (Mt. Bachelor & the Three Sisters) and a fairly generous workshop, though not in the Mahal-class of garages. I think I’ll have to put the homebrewery in storage until Spring, as the property will require a bit of preparation for it. The current owner runs a woodworking shop now, but it should adapt well to a car-wrenching area. Here, have a look for yourself:

The ceiling is a tad low, so lift clearance may be an issue. Not so much for the Jaguar, but certainly for the Jeep and maybe the Jetta. We’ll see.

We move at the end of August, which is timed to have Nick start at his new high school the beginning of September. Meanwhile my blogging may remain sparse until we are settled and I’m in a reasonable daily routine. I start my new job on Monday 8/2, but will be in the Bay Area at first. Would love to meet any Northern California readers for dinner/drinks in early August!

I’ve got a nice backlog of “Car Photo of the Day” posts, so I’ll try to make them live when I can.

My Next Challenge: Facebook in Prineville, Oregon

Facebook's Prineville, Oregon Data Center.

Now I can finally tell everyone what’s been going on… what all those cryptic status messages I’ve posted on Facebook & Twitter over the past several weeks have meant:

I’ve taken a position with Facebook in their Technical Operations group as the Lead Datacenter Technician at their new Prineville, Oregon facility, working for Ken Patchett. I’ve talked often about the migration of the datacenter industry into rural areas, and now I’m living up to that conclusion. Facebook is a rapidly growing company and performs technical operations on a scale I never could have experienced at digital.forest, so I’m very excited about this opportunity. In the decade I’ve worked at d.f I was immersed in every facet of the datacenter business except scale, as our largest project ever topped out at ~2MW/10,000sq’. Day One at Facebook for me will exceed that scale by a wide margin. I can’t wait to meet my new colleagues and be a vital part of building and operating the best facility on the Internet. I start at Facebook on Monday, August 2nd.

Sue has found a position as a Public Defender in Crook & Jefferson counties. This move will something of a homecoming for Sue as she was born in Prineville and grew up in various small towns in central and eastern Oregon – her dad worked for the USFS. We’ll be close to family now too, as Sue’s dad and two sisters still live there. When I first heard about Facebook’s choice of Prineville for their new facility I joked to Sue about her birthplace being suddenly thrust into the limelight… then a few months later they called me! It was like fate or something. She’s very excited about being able to move back to Oregon. Due to the Oregon State Bar process she can’t start practicing law until early October, but we hope to be all moved down there by early September at the latest to have Nick ready for school.

Nick is mildly apprehensive about all this, as he’s really settled into a good spot in life here in Arlington. He has all those things teens need: great friends, good grades, and a passion (running X-C.) As much as we tell him that he’ll be able to find all that in Oregon, he doesn’t know that … yet. We hope to find a place where he can fit in, so we’ve been emailing the coaches of the various X-C teams in the area.

We’re currently shopping for a home down there (dictated by Nick’s terms above, and of course with some good shop or barn space to build my “Garage Mahal”) and will update everyone with our new address as soon as that process comes to a close.

It is of course tough to say goodbye to our home of the past eleven years here in Arlington, and our friends, family, and colleagues. But we’ll still be in the region. Come visit us at hit the slopes!

This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the Goolsbee’s life. As always stay tuned to follow along!

Nick Driving Stick, take two.

Nick laughs when I once again remind him that he has to be IN GEAR to achieve actual launch.

Nick finally worked up the courage to take another attempt at learning to drive a manual transmission car today. After the last time, when he never quite got the hang of it, and shaved some life off my pressure plate in the process, he’s been a tad clutch-shy. I finally convinced him that it can be done by showing him a neat trick: the one pedal launch. The healthy torque of the VW TDI motor means that if you are very smooth with your clutch foot the car will start from a standstill (on flat, or gently down-sloping ground!) at idle. His problem last time was too much throttle. I pulled the Jetta out of the garage and demonstrated very low-speed launches using nothing but my left foot. After a couple of demos I had him take the wheel. Of course the car immediately died on his first five tries. Thankfully he stuck with it and eventually got the hang of starting from a dead stop. At first with no throttle, then with gentle acceleration. I had him do it over and over on the gravel driveway, doing laps of the house. Eventually I hopped out of the car and he continued practicing until it seemed that he really had the hang of it. Next was several more laps of the gravel driveway at higher speeds (never out of 1st gear though) to get a feel for the car at rates of travel more akin to driving on the street. Then I had him take the steep part of the driveway uphill to get a feel for the amount of throttle needed to overcome gravity. I did NOT have him start/stop on this steep grade however… that comes later. Much later!

Feeling confident I drove into town and went to an industrial park south of town where the streets would be empty on a Sunday to have him practice on a paved street. The car won’t be as forgiving of poor clutch technique and timing on asphalt compared to gravel. Wheelspin isn’t going to happen with 90 HP and good tires on tarmac!

Nick gets his game face on to tackle the tarmac starts.

It was a small step backwards at first and his car-killing ways came back, but at least now he was gentle with the throttle and not buzz-sawing life out of my clutch plate. A lesson or two more and he’ll be ready for the real streets!