j.j. toothman

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Month: April 2011

Keturah + J.J. = 10 years

What I knew is that it was at some point this month.  And in fact, I got major points for not only remembering, but for recognizing the occasion with a gift that I gave to Keturah while we were in New York the other day.  But I didn’t know the exact day in the the latter parts of April 2001 that Keturah and I recognized as the day that we first decide to commit to each other as a couple. 

For those of you thinking that we’re sort of lame for recognizing the day we started dating with any kind of significance, I have only this to say: Celebrating stuff is fun! 

At some point over the past 10 years, Keturah decided to stick the day of April 28 in her Google Calendar and as a recurring occurrence.  And this morning, she got a Calendar notification on her iPhone that indicates that indeed, April 28 is our day.  One of them, at least.   Mind you, she only got that notification because I spent time fixing her iPhone settings so that her Google Calendar sync’d correctly.  So I should get some points for that, too!

But yes.  Apparently, April 28, 2001 is one of the biggest days in the timeline of our relationship.  How far we’ve come in 10 years. There’s no one I’d rather share my life with.  No one I’d rather see next to me in the morning.  No one I’d rather see the world with.  And no one I’d rather share a family and raise children with.

Pics of us from that time are pretty rare.  We have some, but nothing digitally accessible.  So the picture of us above is another rarity.  It’s the only picture of us together in Paris during our honeymoon. 1  It’s not even a great photo of us in Paris.  But trust me, that’s us on a boat along the Seine at night with a bridge in the background.

  1. Oh…those Parisians and there lame attitude towards American tourists. 

Big shoes to fill in the NASA I.T. world

I’ve been asked by many people inside and outside of NASA.  What are my thoughts on the departure of Chris Kemp from the role of CTO for IT?

I like Chris.  And I’ve enjoyed tackling some I.T. issues with him at NASA over the past few years.  The first time we sat down and had lunch together in, I found that I saw eye to eye with him on many things.  We immediately found common ground in the desire to be disruptive within NASA. Chris was most definitely disruptive1. Not only did he bring fresh ideas about information technology to NASA but he brought fresh ways of tackling them.  Agile ways.  He tried to work at a high energy pace2 in a manner that was more familiar with those who have worked in commercial industry or start up cultures.  The pace at which he tried to get things done was my favorite thing about him.

The void he leaves is one of approach as much as it is knowledge.  Will NASA survive without him?  Of course it will.  NASA is too big an institution to fall apart because one person left.  But whoever fills the role needs to bring the energy.

  1. And also divisive within NASA. Unfortunately 

  2. Though sometimes, I admit that it looked like it borderlined on being uncontrollably chaotic and frenzied 

On returning to New England

It’s done. Despite the fact that I haven’t changed my mailing address or gotten a new driver’s license or even found a permanent place to live, it’s time for me to admit that I am once again a full time New Englander.

The family and I are all on the east coast and currently staying at my mother’s house in Glastonbury, Connecticut while we house hunt in the suburbs west of Boston.  We’ve emptied our house in Half Moon Bay and everything we care about is either with us or has been packed by the moving company into storage.  Both of our vehicles have safely arrived on the east coast.

Glastonbury is about 90 minutes from Boston.  Yes, we’re in the house I spent much of my childhood growing up in.  Yes, Keturah and I are sleeping in my old bedroom.  And yes, it feels a little odd to be back.

But it also feels good.  Keturah has a friend who is also moving back to Boston from San Francisco and on one of her recent Facebook status threads was the statement “we came for the lifestyle out west and we’re moving back for the lifestyle back east.”  That pretty much encapsulates how I feel about all this.  I loved living in the SF Bay Area.  But my love for it began to wane as soon as Keturah and I had children.  San Francisco is a great city.  A great city to be a young professional.  But it’s not the most kid-friendly area I’ve ever been to.  One of the reasons we moved back to New England was to live in strong family oriented communities.  I’m not saying those don’t exist in the Bay Area.  They do.  But for whatever reason, they don’t seem like the communities I grew up in.  Those of you who have experienced living in both areas probably know what I mean.

I haven’t spent significant time in Glastonbury since….I don’t know when. The town has exploded. There’s a second middle school. Downtown Glastonbury has tons of new restaurants and cafes. There’s a Whole Foods. The library has tripled in size.

But some things remain. It’s odd what I’m noticing. The car wash on Main Street is still there. I totally forgot about drive up bank tellers. Most of the banks have those.  And it’s still ridiculously confusing to figure out how to get from point A to point B. On day 2, we realized we had to go out and buy a top notch GPS in order to navigate the back roads of New England.1

But in the long run, this won’t be about returning to Glastonbury.  It will be about relocating to metro Boston.  For all the time I previously lived in New England2, I’ve never been a resident of Massachusetts.  And I think the longest consecutive string of nights I’ve spent in Boston is probably 4 nights.  So there’s a newness to this adventure that is very exciting to me.  One that I’ll be even more excited to embark upon as soon as we deal with the next thing in the relocation critical path – finding a house to live in.3

  1. We got a Garmin Nuvi 1450 LMT 

  2. 23 years 

  3. Mason starts kindergarten this fall.  So figuring out what town we want to live in is priority #1 

The post where I finally talk about leaving San Francisco

I’ve had a hard time getting myself to actually write this blog post.  In fact, I can’t believe I’m about to type the very next sentence.

My wife, our two sons, and myself are moving away from the San Francisco Bay Area.

When I moved to San Francisco in 1999, it was a dream come true.  I’ve said many times over the past 12 years that there was no way I was leaving SF for another city in the United States.  I would now like to retract all of those statements.


North Beach in San Francisco

So what’s happening?

We are relocating to Boston.  The movers are coming tomorrow to pack our house.  We already shipped one of our cars eastward. A few boxes have also been sent in advance.  We have plane tickets to Boston for Wednesday, April 13.  One way tickets.

Obviously, this has been in the planning for months.

And it’s been stressful.  Especially for the last month.  And it’s bittersweet.  San Francisco is an amazing city.  Living a few blocks from the beach in Half Moon Bay has been (for me) a dream come true.

For me, relocating east is a move back to New England, where I lived for the first 23 years of my life.  I’ll be moving closer to my Mom.  Immersed in Red Sox Nation.  Surrounded by many of my friends from my days at the University of Vermont.

For Keturah, it’s an opportunity to experiencing living in another state for the first time in her life.  In addition to going through all four seasons every year, she’ll be moving closer to her grandfather.

And for our kids, it’s a better educational system.  Apologies to people who grew up in California and to my friends raising kids here now, but simply put, the public schooling in California is not nearly as good as what can be found on the East Coast.

Regarding my position at NASA.  I’m keeping it.  It makes me extremely  happy to say that I work with a supportive team and people willing to let me continue performing the job that I love from afar, via a full time telecommute agreement.

Believe me.  It’s not easy leaving Northern California

There is so much that I love about living in Northern California.  I am nat moving a family of 4 all the way across the county1 because San Francisco sucks.  It doesn’t.  San Francisco is my favorite city in the U.S. and I don’t imagine that changing anytime soon.  I am going to dearly miss things like wine tasting days in Sonoma, Tahoe skiing, staring out at the Pacific, mouth watering burritos, the ever energetic tech scene, bar hopping North Beach, and seeing bands plat at The Fillmore.  As well as the friends and family that we are leaving behind.

San Francisco is the place where I met my wife.  Keturah and I were married in Golden Gate Park.  Our children were born here and took their first steps in the house that we are now boxing up.  The area is not lacking in once-in-a-lifetime memories.

Thus, the obvious question is “why leave?”.  As mentioned above, the quality of the public school systems is probably the single biggest reason we are doing this.  But there’s more to it than that. Things which I’ll share over time.  In short, it feels like the time is right for us to experience something different.

Boston, here we come

To our Boston friends and family.  We’re excited.  Very excited.  Moving is extremely hard.  The past month is as stressed as I’ve been in a long time.  Our entire focus has been on packing and preparing.  There hasn’t been a ton of time to think about all the great things ahead as we venture into New England living.  No, we don’t have a house yet.  Working on it.  For the next few weeks, we’ll be staying with family in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

And there’s plenty to be excited about.  I know that I’m looking forward to baseball games at Fenway this summer.  And camping trips to Vermont.  And swimming in the ocean with my family.


Fenway Park


  1. It doesn’t get much more cross country than what we’re doing 

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