family tree

about grace pariante            

where do I begin?

I begin in the 1950's in suburban New York. I was the 4th child of first-generation Italian Americans. We had no lawn statues or opera wafting from our windows, but we had the best food and everyone was welcome at our dinner table.

Sunday was family day. This was Dad's only day off. We either visited aunts, uncles, and cousins, or we entertained them. We started with an antipasto of olives, peppers, and mushrooms. If we were lucky, Aunt Grace made stuffed mushrooms or artichoke pie. We then ate linguini with meatballs, brisket, and cold broccoli with olive oil and lemon juice. After the main course we had a green salad. Then, the grown-ups drank cordials and ate roasted chestnuts my uncle brought from Manhattan. The kids ran off to play. Uncle Tony put on the football game, found the most comfortable chair, and promptly fell asleep.

Eventually as everyone was ready to leave, Aunt Phil and Uncle Herb would show up with Dunkin Donuts. The kids squealed for joy, both for the sweet treats and for the opportunity to stay up past bedtime.

That is where I began.

when did I leave it all behind?

In 1979, after graduating Cornell University in Ithaca New York, my boyfriend and I packed our stuff into my little Fiat and drove to California. He was recruited by Ampex in Redwood City to do engineering research on their advanced media recording equipment. We found a small apartment on Latham Street in Mountain View and began our new life far from home and family. I found a job at Manpower, recruiting temporary workers to build printed circuit boards and silicon wafers.

It took me two months to realize what was missing. Rain. We moved here in June and it did not rain until October. That was very strange for a person who had lived her whole life in the rain and snow. I liked the sunshine, but it was a little unsettling.

It took me a year to realize that the restaurants in this area close their kitchens at 9:00 PM. I don't know how many times I missed dinner by showing up to eat at 9:30 or 10:00. I don't think I ever managed to change my dining habits. Instead, my boyfriend Albert learned to cook.

what did I do once I got settled?

I married Albert in 1984. We moved 4 times to 3 different towns, but we never managed to get more than a half mile from the intersection of San Antonio Road and El Camino Real. Guess I'm just too attached to Longs Drugs and Tower Records.

In 1986, Peanuts was born. She lived to 17 years old years and died in the spring of 2003. That's a long life for a dog, even for a Beagle. In 1993, Aja was born (pronounced Ay-ja, with a soft J ). She is the light of my life.

I graduated from San Jose State with a masters degree in Psychology in 1990. I had completed an internship at NASA Ames Research Center, Aviation Human Factors Division. That was scary. Trust me, you do not want to know about cockpit design and pilot error. Actually I spent most of my time on something even scarier, Air Traffic Control systems. I'll leave it to your imagination to guess how many planes each controller handles, for how many hours, staring at little blips on a screen in a little dark room.

When I graduated SJSU, I was recruited by a software start-up called GO. They were developing a pen-based operating system, yes way before Palm, and even before the Apple Newton. I did usability research on handwriting recognition software and got started in application user interface design. I worked with a remarkable group of people, visionaries, incredibly talented engineers, creative designers, everyone (almost) was top in their field. It was a very exciting place to be. We all worked very hard. Nevertheless, the company went under a few years later. If you are a Silicon Valley history buff, you might know of GO as the first big start-up failure, setting the trend for many to follow.

I worked for SGI for 5 years, another exciting failure. The company was known for eccentric engineers and leading edge computer graphics products. They defined "cool" at the time. I worked on the bundled email application and speech recognition software. I was fortunate to be able to design the UI for really fun stuff like a movie editor, a MIDI synthesizer, and multi-track sound recording software. Eventually Windows NT showed up on systems selling at one quarter the price. They wiped us out. No one wants to pay 8 grand for an engineering workstation, even if it is a cool indigo color and the shape of a 1950's toaster. SGI is still in business, but they've been in the death spiral since the late 90's.

Somewhere in the 1990's I managed to do the following:

  • Get my black belt in Karate.
  • Learn some Spanish.
  • Have a baby.
  • Travel to Italy, Greece, France, and Holland.
  • Maintain a 1967 red Camaro convertible and a 1990 black Saleen Mustang coupe.
  • Become vegetarian.
  • Enjoy the company of family and friends.

where am I now?

I've been working at Intuit since 1999. I do user interface design on the QuickBooks products. For the last couple of years I have had the wonderful opportunity to work on QuickBooks Online Edition. This is a web-based application, different from designing either desktop software or a website, very challenging. I work on a team with some of the most talented people in the company. We operate as our own business unit, so it has the energy of a start-up and the stability of an established, successful company. Intuit is know for customer centered products and a loyal customer base. You may have used one of our other products, perhaps Quicken or TurboTax.

I'm also an aide in my daughter's class. I don't do karate anymore, but I try to get to the gym twice a week. And my latest endeavor is building a website. What was I thinking :-)