287. The Guy Who Goes in Cycles

In spite of the fact that I have eleven beautiful granddaughters, I only have two grandsons-in-law added to my collection to-date. While not many in number, the two I have are choice.

This is one of them:  Sean MacQueen Smith, – urbane, funny, athletic, good natured, and one of the best qualified members of my family who could have taken up a lucrative life of crime.  

Sean is 34 years old today. He’s married to my eldest granddaughter, Elizabeth, daughter of Susy and Curt Warden.  They were married in 2005, and it must be due to their good sense and moral upbringing that Sean is still working on the legal side of the law. 

As a baby born and bred in the Pacific Northwest, Sean grew up to love and appreciate the outdoors.   He and Elizabeth (and their dog Lily and their two cats) duck away from their home in Seattle every chance they get to escape to their Lummi Island paradise, and to our endless supply of interesting and beautiful sites (note to prospective visitors) that can be explored and enjoyed in the Pacific Northwest.

Sean is a dedicated bicyclist. He logged about 1,500 miles on his bike last year. He bikes back and forth to work, and on all kinds of marathon rides besides.  A few weeks ago, he was heading for work, and a car pulled out of a parking lot, hit him, and threw him – still on the bike – somersaulting over the car, and landing on the other side.  Unbelievably, he got up, received the insurance information from the worried woman who had been driving the car, and then drove his damaged bike the rest of the way to work.  And home again that night.

Sean earns his living as a software consultant/engineer. He works for Isilon Systems (a division of EMC2). I don’t know what his IQ is, but I don’t think my keyboard types numbers that high.  He also loves computer games, puzzles, problems, and taking things apart and putting them back together.  These may be typical job qualifications for one of the most profitable positions in the industrial world today – that of computer hacker.  I keep reminding him of this opportunity, but he just won’t listen.

The two members of my family who could be nominated for computer hacking – should the economy nosedive any further than it has, would be Sean Smith and my nephew-in-law Dan Roecker (husband of my niece Heather Milner Roecker).  Oddly, they were born within 11 months of each other, making them, in a way, “Irish twins”.  In spite of my best efforts, however, I have been unable to corrupt their morals in order to take up partnership in a life of crime.

While I was writing this, I emailed Elizabeth to ask some questions about Sean.  What she wrote is so much better than what I did, that I’m going to post it below:

Sean was born on June 20, 1977, at the UW Medical Center to Brent and Celia Smith. They lived in Ballard at the time. Sean was an only child for almost 10 years. He was a smart little boy who wanted to understand how things worked and who was likely to take things apart to find out.

Here he is with his parents and grandparents.

When Sean was little, he was not interested in your average kids’ toys. For example, when he was turning about 3, he asked for a fan for his birthday because he thought it was cool how they worked. He drew a bunch of pictures of fans, and his mom still has them. I watched a home video of him opening Christmas presents one year when he was maybe 5, and he was super excited about his favorite gift–a flashlight! Sean still loves gadgets today. He has a bunch of remote control helicopters that he has learned to do tricks with. And believe me, that is not easy! I flew one of the little ones in the house once and immediately crashed it and broke part of it.

When Sean was about 8, his family moved to a little house on a big lot in Richmond Beach. Not long before Sean turned 10, his parents had another little boy. They were sure that this one would be a girl, and they had a girl name picked out, but they told Sean he could pick the name in case it was a boy. He chose Evan, and Evan it was!

Sean went to middle school and high school at Lakeside, a private school with excellent academics, but Sean didn’t feel like he fit in with the crowd there. His closest high school friends went to different high schools in the area. Many of those friends are people he met in elementary school, and he is still in touch with many of them today.

After high school, Sean went to the University of Washington. He lived in his parents’ garage apartment for most of that time and part of the time he lived with his great aunt Margaret, who had an apartment very close to the UW. Sean was in the architecture program at the UW and then switched over to computer engineering. He ended up with a minor in architecture and a major in computer engineering.

Sean met my high school friend, Irina, in the computer department at the UW, and she introduced us during a hike at Mount Si in the summer of 2000. We started dating right away, and about a week later, Sean took me out for my 21st birthday on a fun and special date to Port Townsend (which he partially recreated about 5 years later when he proposed on the dock there).  

Sean had an internship at RealNetworks in the summer of 2000, and he later had a summer internship at Pixar in California. After Sean graduated, he worked in Snohomish for his dad’s engineering company, Teknologic, for a few years. 

Sean has always had a love for biking and he often rode his bike to the UW while in school. When he worked at Teknologic, he bought a house in Everett and sometimes biked from Everett to Snohomish for work.

Then he got a full-time job at RealNetworks in Seattle, so his commute became much longer. He got from Everett to Seattle via a combination of bike and bus each day. We were married in July of 2005, and I couldn’t handle that long commute, so we ended up selling his Everett house and moving down to Ballard, not far from the area where Sean spent his childhood. We bought our house in October 2005. Sean is very handy at building and fixing things on our house and has started and completed many projects here–and we have many more to do!

In early 2008, Sean left RealNetworks and went to Isilon Systems, a company that provides massive clustered data storage systems. Sean is a software developer there. His favorite things about his job are when he gets to figure out the most efficient and best ways to solve problems. He is very good at solving problems and is constantly coming up with creative inventions and ideas in all areas of his life!

Isilon Systems is conveniently located in a building next to the Sculpture Park at the Seattle waterfront, which happened to be the very same building I worked in. My company later moved across the street, but we are lucky to be able to have lunch together often and commute together sometimes too. Though the truth is, I often drive, while he bikes almost every day. The bike ride varies from about 6 miles to 8 miles depending on which route we take, so I bike to work occasionally too. However, I might bike a handful of times during nice weather, whereas Sean bikes in pretty much any weather! He biked more than 1,500 miles last year alone. In September, Sean’s company will move to Pioneer Square, so his bike commute will get a little longer.

Last month, Sean was captain of a bike to work month team at Isilon, and on the very first week of the bike to work challenge, he was hit by a car while on his bike. Sean was doing everything correctly, obeying the law, and was very well lit, wearing a bright neon jacket in broad daylight. But a lady in a parked car pulled out suddenly in front of him to do a U-turn, and he didn’t have enough warning to brake in time, so he went flying over the hood of her car (with his bike clipped to his feet!) in a forward somersault type of move and landed in the road along with his bike. The lady felt terrible and fortunately she was an honest person who told the insurance company that she was at fault, so they paid for the damage to his bike. Sean then got back on his bike after that terrible crash and rode home! And although I tried to convince him to take a day off after that incident, he got back on and rode to work the next day!

Obviously, Sean is pretty tough and resilient! He enjoys any and all outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, camping, etc. We have kayaks and often go out for a paddle on Lake Union after work in the evenings.

In the summer of 2009, Sean and I bought a cabin on Lummi Island, which is technically in the San Juans, but it is accessed by a small 20 car ferry that goes from the mainland just north of Bellingham. The crossing is only 5 minutes. Lummi is a quiet little island with friendly people and beautiful scenery. It only takes us 2 hours to get there, so we go up there often on weekends and vacations. Our golden retriever, Lily, and our two indoor cats, Booja and Oogie, love the cabin. We see so much wildlife there! Sean’s mom, Celia, loved Lummi so much that she ended up buying her own waterfront cabin there and moving there! Sean’s dad and brother live in Richmond Beach, but Brent has an amazing cabin in Winthrop that we love to go visit too.

Sean is a very good cook and an excellent home bartender. We both love good food and often try new restaurants and pubs in our area. Sean is very social and likes to spend time with our family and friends. We often play board games and enjoy going to trivia nights at local pubs. 

Sean is funny and can always make me laugh. He is spontaneous and adventurous, which makes him a good influence on me, since I tend to be more cautious. Sean is such a sweet, funny, smart, and talented guy. I am lucky to be married to him!

And the rest of us are lucky to know him, too.  Now if only I can convince him to read “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”.  Coincidentally, the heroine’s name is “Lisbeth”, and she is a super amazing computer hacker without equal. If he’ll read it,  I’m sure Sean will find it to be an inspirational experience. Heh-heh-heh.

Have a happy birthday, Sean!  We love you to pieces.

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3 Responses to 287. The Guy Who Goes in Cycles

  1. Elizabeth says:

    The Dragon Tattoo series are some of Sean’s very favorite books, actually! That was so nice of you to put this together! I really loved seeing these baby pictures of Sean again! He often looks so focused and intense.

    I think Sean’s cat is a little bit similar to how he might have been as a toddler–constantly watching to see how you do things in order to try them out later. For example, Booja has figured out how to stand on her hind legs and open our bedroom door with her paws, so when she wants breakfast in the morning, she lets herself and Oogie into our room!

    (I am not 100 percent sure, but that cute chubby baby in that one photo with Sean might be his cousin Lindsay rather than Evan. Evan is next to Sean in the photo where the boys are all wearing blue shirts though.)

  2. A relative says:

    Happy Birthday Sean! Enjoy your wild mountain bike ride today and have fun kayaking too. You are an amazing guy. Have fun with your new “Slap Chop”. We just used ours again this morning. We love you.
    Susy and Curt

  3. Pingback: 324. The Girl Who Made a Scene | Going on 80

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