Happy Holidays 2022: The Annual Christmas Letter

OK, so maybe I skipped sharing 2021’s letter here, but continuing from 2020, I feel like sharing this year’s Christmas letter in part because the year was arguably a very uneventful one outside of work. I can only hope that’s a sign the world is finally getting back to normal and not that life will just be cruse control now that I’m in my 30s.

Hope you have a joyous festive season and a happy new year.

15 December 2022 

Selfie taken in front of Portland Streetcar 021, the holiday train.

Greetings from Portland, where we had some fun this year and put Christmas lights on one of our streetcars. Tourism is very much back, to the point that someone driving the wrong way in the train tracks has become a daily occurrence again.

First, as usual, the work update: I am finally salaried with Kroger. I officially transitioned in March after we completed yet another leadership rotation. Unfortunately, this did mean the boss I had for about a year lost their job after over 30 years at Kroger. Other than more leadership shuffles, this was the year of modernization: we’ve moved to a new cloud-based phone system for our call centers called Five9, and in what is probably a first for Kroger, we didn’t go with the lowest bidder to also replace our ticketing system; we’re now on ServiceNow.

And that’s really everything of note for work. It’s been a crazy year with those system changes and having to rebuild all of our reporting to accommodate them. Things have finally quieted down now that we’re in the changes freeze for the holiday (no new system rollouts or other changes). 2023 will be the year of modernizing our reporting with SQL and PowerBI to finally get away from Excel-based reports. 

Photo of the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland's Old Town/Chinatown.

Outside of work, as you might have seen on Facebook, I’ve been getting up to the Portland Japanese Garden about once a week on my days off. It’s still pretty busy even with fall color now gone, which I’m happy to see (even if it means it’s not so quiet) since it means the garden still has a steady flow of revenue. I recently also picked up a membership to the Chinese Garden here, which is radically different from the Japanese Garden. It reminds me a lot of the one I visited when I was in Sydney for the holidays almost ten years ago now. It’s technically a city park and takes up a block in our Chinatown. It’s small enough and on the same light rail line as the Japanese Garden that I can do both gardens in the same day.

I’m also still involved in the public transit here, which other than the opening of our first bus rapid transit line and the busses for the line being recalled just 45 days later, has had an uneventful year. Ridership is very, very slowly coming back, but it’s still nowhere near pre-pandemic levels. At Streetcar, we’re still waiting on our three trains from Brookville Equipment (in Brookville, PA) which are now expected in spring. As of two days ago, TriMet’s first new light rail car left Siemens in Sacramento, which means  starting next year, our original 1986 Bombardier cars will be retired.

Photo of a black cat laying on its back on a sofa.

Assuming the annual transit update hasn’t put you to sleep and you’re still with me, Jiji is doing well. He continues to be a blob that watches me from the sofa as I work. The noise from the construction project across the street means the bird channel hasn’t been as busy as it usually is, but he has plenty of toys to play with as an alternative… and for me to constantly fish out from under the sofa and oven.

That’s really about it from me for this year; it’s been a busy year that flew by with work and nothing else really of note happening. But, after all the uncertainty and craziness COVID has caused over the last three years, I’m honestly fine with an uneventful year. I’ll be staying here in Oregon for the holidays this year hoping for a dry Christmas.

Here’s hoping 2023 is equally uneventful.

~ Stephen & Jiji