Farewell CA

These last 5 months have absolutely flown by. Abby is packed and we leaving for Colorado.

Our time in California wasn’t all that we had hoped. We had hoped to travel more on the weekends, see more of the state. The Master Brewers Program was intense and weekends were spent studying. In hindsight, entire weekend trips would not have been wise, but day trips were feasible. We were within a couple hours drive of some amazing attractions (coast, Sierras, San Francisco, state parks). If we had given the situation more thought, we would have been able to enjoy the surrounding attractions much more.

What we will miss

View after sunset as the fog rolls in at Westport Union Landing State Beach.
View after sunset as the fog rolls in at Westport Union Landing State Beach.
  • The diversity and beauty of California. Mountains, rugged coast line, a fertile valley, redwood forests. There is a reason the meteorologists provide micro-climate forecasts in California, the character of these areas is extremely varied. We didn’t explore the state as much as we would have liked, but have so many reasons to keep returning.
  • The weather is truly spectacular (excluding the Central Valley’s heat in the summer) and rather gentle. When it rains, it doesn’t stay gray for 3 weeks. Rain falls, clouds clear out, sun is shining bright.
  • The produce – especially from the farm markets. It is amazing how fresh the produce is and how good fresh produce tastes. We have been purchasing avocados and we haven’t had a bad one yet. No careful monitoring of the avocado to make sure it is caught in that rare 15 minute window between inedible and rotten, no cursing when you realize you have again incorrectly estimated the state of our avocado. Besides the avocados, the strawberries! The apples! The broccoli! The cabbage! And so much more – all fresh, all flavorful. Farewell outstanding produce.
  • The people. We met some really awesome folks through the Master Brewers Program. It is rather bittersweet as everyone is scattering with the wind to different job and educational opportunities. Although, this does create a fantastic portfolio of breweries to visit.
  • Our landlady. Karen gave us a chance with our 3 dogs and 6 month lease. We appreciated the opportunity.
Fresh June snow fall on Mount Lassen.
Fresh June snow fall on Mount Lassen.

What we won’t miss

  • The heat. Summer is just getting started in the Central Valley and it hasn’t even truly gotten hot yet (only up to 105 Fahrenheit so far). But far too hot for us.
  • The students.

So, fare thee well California. We wish a very rainy winter to help alleviate the drought and build a fantastic snow pack. Our plan is come back for vacation.

The corporate dustbowl

So why would I quit a job that paid well, offered good benefits, and leave behind family and friends to move across the country and return to school? And why would Dave support, even encourage these actions?

Simply, to escape the developing corporate dustbowl. I worked for DuPont, headquartered in Wilmington, DE for over 7 years. My time there was eye-opening and I got an eyeful of corporate culture. (One of the funniest moments – HR telling me to give them the exact date my maternity leave would start. Sure. Easy.) My frustrations grew, but when the opportunity to enroll in the UC Davis Master Brewers Program arrived a year early, I hemmed and hawed over accepting.

Dave asked a poignant question: ‘You are miserable there. How are you going to feel spending the next year working there, knowing you passed on a chance to leave?’ So I accepted and we started to make preparations to leave. Right after we went to Firefly and took 3 weeks to travel the country in 2015.

So, where is the corporate dustbowl? Beginning slowly with sizeable layoffs in 2008 (contractors, support staff), 2010 (exempt employees), the dustbowl hit hard in 2015. Ellen Kullman (DuPont CEO) won a proxy batte against activist investor, Nelson Peltz, but layoff rumors were rampant after the win. Dismal 2Q and 3Q numbers all but guarentee layoffs. Ellen’s unexpected ‘retirement’ and appointment of Ed Breen, fat cutter extrodinare, had the rumor mill estimating 25% of departments would be let go.

And then in early December, the Dow-DuPont merger was announced. In early December the layoffs began. 50% of one department, 90% of another, an entire department shut down. The company is dying. To make matters worse, despite company claims of environmental stewardship and highest ethical behavior as core values, investigative articles report about the willful illegal disposal of toxic chemicals.

Finally, Central Research and Development (CR&D) is gutted. 60 to 70% of groups are gone. All to save $2 billion to distribute to the shareholders. From a group that returns $9 billion in revenue. This is the new quarterly capitialism, squeezing every penny of short term value out of company regardless of the long-term effects, which are outlined in this article. In short, the company’s future is being destroyed (no CR&D, no new products) to provide investors short-term returns.

Now, this is not a claim that there wasn’t waste; waste was rampant. However, gutting the scientists and support staff while leaving in place the business personnel making the poor choices of products to pursue will not decrease waste.

And so the corporate dustbowl has begun and is not limited to DuPont. The question is, how long before the effects are felt and can we ever recover from it?