Archive for the ‘Personal History’ Category


Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

In a café after midnight in Suzhou, China, I watch World Cup Soccer with three Chinese graduate students from Singapore. They are all MBA interns in Beijing, traveling on holiday. It’s summer 2010 and I’m in town to address an international translation conference. Our little group finds we have many mutual interests and we remain talking long into the night after the game is over.

In my twenty-five years as an international entrepreneur, I’ve started and run four businesses in five countries. The interns want to hear all the stories. I tell them about being head of sales for Apple in Russia in 1992, building the business from the ground up. I flew to every significant city in the country, from Magadan to Kaliningrad, building channels and creating retailers and support mechanisms. I tell the interns how I later started the only independent high tech distributor in the Russian Far East in Vladivostok with Apple as my founding client.

After Vladivostok, I formed a publishing company in Los Angeles with the software industry connections I’d made through Apple. With millions of books printed, fifty-two published titles and a list of strong reviews, it was a success. Five years in, however, the publishing company lost its distributor and failed in a devastating multimillion dollar bankruptcy. I converted my business assets into a high tech localization agency serving Nokia and the California videogame industry, the company I currently run. And today I am in China giving a lecture to a conference hall full of recognized experts in translation, presenting my first five minutes in Chinese. It will be the top rated session at the conference.

The interns love it. It’s the kind of adventure story all young MBA’s want to hear. Travel, success, failure, then pull yourself up by the bootstraps to try again. They are so very eager to start on their own careers and make their own stories. I smile, shake their hands, wish them the best and leave to move on to my next step.

I’m going to become a lawyer.

Why the change? While I have enjoyed participating in the rough and tumble world of business, life has changed for me. Today, I am a husband and father to four small children. Continuing my adventures in business no longer puts me alone at risk, and I must do my utmost to support my charges. While I am well aware that many law school graduates struggle after matriculating, my post-law school prospects will be enhanced by my preparation in patent law and my established connections with a number of potential clients.

Fresh from university in the 1980’s, after completing more than twenty honors courses in mathematics, physics and chemistry, I had no interest in the law. It was only when I started running businesses that I began routinely to interact with lawyers, understand what they are there for and what they can do. My interaction with the law has been with corporate attorneys, several intellectual property lawyers and, perhaps most painful and necessary, a series of bankruptcy attorneys. With few exceptions, they have been civil, straightforward, well-spoken and intelligent. As a client, I’ve learned to recognize the good ones and the bad ones. The good ones have become my conversation partners, my confidants and my friends. They help, protect and advise me.

I will be joining them and will do so wholeheartedly with a proactive plan for success as an attorney. Immediately after applying to law schools, I will start studying for the patent bar. I will take the patent exam before May to complete my certification with the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Summer 2011, making myself available for duty as a Patent Agent before and during law school.

Academically, I will target Intellectual Property. Not only does it interest me the most, but it has the most applicability to the companies that I have worked with over the past twenty years, including Apple, Nokia and Electronic Arts.

UC Davis is, without qualification, my first choice for law school. It lies close to the Bay Area, which will ensure that I maintain my business connections in the region. Further, its idyllic location makes the prospect of raising and educating my young family a joy.

During law school, I hope to be able to share my experience from the wider world. While I will be at school to read, learn and understand the law, I carry with me more than twenty-five years of experience creating businesses from scratch and doing so on three continents under a myriad of languages. It would be a waste not to share this experience with my cohort.

This decision has engendered some very close talks with my wife. This is our mutually chosen path for the future. And there are other benefits beyond joining the profession. All of my children will see their father studying at home during their formative years; I will be leading them by example down the road I wish them to take. They will be my legacy.

It will be a grand adventure. And I hope, someday twenty years from now, to be up late in some far away café with another group of young students, and entertain and encourage them with my stories of entering and practicing the law.  

10 Years on February 7

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Yes, it really has been ten years. The photo above is from our honeymoon trip to Sonoma and Napa Valleys in March 2001. Wow, it sure does not seem like that long. More postings on this later.

India Bicycle Christmas Gift

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

My sister, Helen, contacted me in late November. She said that she wanted to give daughter Alex a copy of the photo of me in India on my bicycle years ago. I told her I would and, weeks later, I started looking into it.

Unfortunately, the quick scans I have of the sole surviving photo (located at the Freitag family farm in Monticello, Wisconsin) are not detailed enough for a full enlargement. So, I had to add other objects to make an acceptable 5″ x 7″ image — a map and some of the text from my blog post (here).

She seems happy with it, and I wanted a publicly available spot to be able to download the printable image. It’s here.

10 Years with Gabi

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

It’s been ten years this month since Gabi and I moved in together. The photo is from the house we were renovating at the time in Los Angeles. Dang, ten years? No way … not that long.


Monday, October 4th, 2010

I really wanted to blog about this months ago, but held myself back. Around July 4, I started on a diet. It’s strictly a calorie restriction diet, run on a website or a iPhone/iTouch/iPad called LiveStrong, a Lance Armstrong sponsored site.

Every time you put something in your mouth you enter it into the site. It gives you a running tally of exactly how many calories you’ve consumed.

You preset your activity level (“Lightly Active” for me), current weight and goal. I set mine at losing one pound a week, which didn’t change my diet all that much. I eat less for breakfast and substantially less for lunch, but have a normal evening meal. I’m down 15 pounds, my blood pressure is lower than it’s been in a decade and I’m running more and faster. I’m five pounds off my goal, returning to my college weight, and I want to achieve that by Thanksgiving. No problem.

Some surprises in the calorie counts. Alcohol is surprisingly low in calories, especially when compared to sugared soft drinks. Store-bought bread has a very high calorie count, though Gabi’s homemade bread is much better. Mayonnaise, cheese and salted almonds are all high in calories and off my list unless I’ve gone jogging that day.

Processed foods in general are bad, but I don’t get too many of those. Gabi homecooks just about everything, and we can pin down calorie counts from the individual ingredients. Gabi started a more aggressive version of the diet later than I did. I can really tell the difference, though most people probably can’t see the change yet.

Anyway, the link is here. Strongly recommended.

Melchior Steussy Passenger Manifest?

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Click on the image to see the full-size version.

Passenger #130 here looks very much like it might be Melchior Stüßi. It was certainly the closest match in the passenger manifests kept on microfiche from that era. The age (22) is right. Date of landing (November 12, 1845) is right as well. Switzerland is the country of origin.

If so, then he appears to be traveling with a Samuel Stüssi who is 18 years old (passenger #129). is offering free searches until 9/6/2010.

Happy Birthday

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Happy Birthday, Cutie! You do have your hands full …

Back in Town

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Yes, I’m back home now. Exhausted (and a bit behind) from all of my travel over the last two weeks. I’ll put more up soon.

Until then, one quick story. We’re riding in the car, leaving New Glarus for the Madison airport.

Daniel: “Look at all of those slow-pokes behind us.”

Camilla: “Yeah, they’re slow-pokes!”

Gabi: “Are they calling those cars slow folks?”

Ed: “No, slow-pokes. It’s a Dad-ism, he always accused other cars driving slower than him to be slow pokes. Where did they learn that?”

Gabi: “They drove with Aunt Cally to Target to get floaties one day …”

Daniel: “Yeah, and she called them slow-pokes!”

Camilla: “And she said they were crooks!”

Ed: (laughing) “I think Aunt Cally said, ‘Crocks.’ Another Calvin-ism.”

Historic Steussy Photos

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Helen, Calvin, Robin, Edwin Steussy, circa 1925. Photo courtesy Ruth Rondeau.

In addition to the standard photos that line halls of the Freitag Farm, there was a collection of photos from Aunt Ruth. I captured quite a few of them. The one above is from somewhere else entirely, the collection of Ruth (Steussy) Rondeau of Minnesota. These photos take awhile to process, so don’t expect too many of them to show up.

Ethel and Robin Steussy, undated but probably around 1989.

Sue, Winna and Fritz Steussy 1959. Photo from Ethel.

Freitag Farm aerial view, 1955. Note that Highway 69 still runs directly in front of the main house.

Edwin Emil Steussy, 1918


Friday, July 30th, 2010

Chris and Solana

Some of the people attending Calvin Steussy’s funeral.

Mom, Norma, Solana

Brook Steussy-Edfeldt and David Edfeldt

Mary and Larry Shanahan

Cally Parkinson, with Veronica and Camilla Steussy

Alex and Gabi

Alex, Nicky and KC

Nic Sammond, Clyde McPhee, Nic McPhee, Thomas McPhee, Brook, Misty McPhee

Barbara McPhee

Marti, David and Lindsay Steussy

Nic Steussy

Andy and Ashley Parkinson

Peter and Kay Sammond

Tom with Veronica, Camilla, Aaron and Daniel

A whole lot of Steussy's