Categories
life

Driving, texting, road rage, eating…to merge, to yield

Today’s subject matter is courtesy of the drive to and from work. I don’t know about you but I have seen car drivers do many strange things over the years. Eating a plate of scrambled eggs while driving, reading a newspaper, watching TV, woman sitting on a man’s lap while he is driving and she is facing him. Lots of time I have seen dogs sitting in the drivers lap with its head out the window. Yes. All of this while zooming down the road in excess of 55 miles per hour.

I also think that I have, at times, been an equally bad driver. Reading e-mail, reading a map, talking on the phone, texting and eating a Big Mac pulling away from the McDonalds drive through. My kids tell me not to text, and so I try my best. But in this rushed and hurried world where multitasking has become the norm. What can one do?

I’ve witnessed road rage and I probably have practiced road rage. I get angry when people don’t signal and they expect you just to let them in. They signal one way but go the other way. They don’t go the speed limit. They swerve around you at a high speed. They pass in a no passing zone because you are not going fast enough to suit them on and on.

The two most frustrating signs that anger me towards other drivers are merge and yield. The National Motorists association says that

The concepts of YIELD and MERGE mean nothing to many drivers. MERGE is used where a lane is available to allow cars to blend in, typically when entering an interstate highway. It is very dangerous to stop in the merge lane; accelerate instead, to match your speed to the traffic you’re blending in with. Just like when you were learning how to bike, you have to KEEP PEDALING!

YIELD also commands you to blend in, except there is no merge lane available. If a conflict would occur, you must allow the other vehicle to go ahead of you since you don’t have adequate room to accelerate. (You may actually have to put your phone call on hold for a second to do that.) But if there is no conflicting traffic, keep going: Yield does not mean “a rolling stop.”

https://www.motorists.org/mergeyieldstop-rules/

Sadly, drivers in either the merge lane or the yield lane just assume that you MUST stop for them and let them in. No signal, no consideration. Their destination is more important than your destination. Sometime it feels like their business and life is more important than yours. I try my best to be a courteous driver, but some days, it is tough. I think that if we all just slowed down a bit, watch out for the other drivers, we all will get to our destinations safely. After all, we want to get home to our families safely.

Categories
life

Sitting down at the table for dinner

For the past month or so I have been able to resume an age old tradition. That is to sit down together as a family for dinner. It’s tough as a single parent to cook for an almost teenage son and a very much a teenage daughter. Both tend to be picky eaters. For several years, I stopped because it was too much to accomplish between school, after school stuff and work. Also, there was lots of clutter such that I could not see the table. In preparation for hosting the last poker game several weeks ago, I have been working on the clutter issues around the house. There is something positive about the whole minimalist thing, but we can save that for another conversation.

Also, I am trying to eat healthier, trying to get them to eat healthier and a greater variety of foods. Yes we still have pizza night. Taco Tuesday has been curtailed somewhat cause the kids are sick of my ground beef taco’s. I’m working on chicken and pulled pork for a future meal. In addition, making things from raw ingredients can be better for you, and for the wallet. So tonight I prepared chicken on the grill, melon, rice, and

corn-on-the-cob. The kids like rice and chicken and corn and green melon. Simple, and except for the two starches, reasonably good on the healthy scale I hope. Sorry, they originally wanted spaghetti but I quite frankly am tired of spaghetti. I ate too much of that during my high school years.

The kids ate everything on their plates and aside from the soda, I was happy. The whole idea of sitting at the table is that there is no television, iPhone or iPad. We resort to the age old ideas of conversation and laughter. Now sometimes the kids get silly and that gets to me. However, they say more at the table in that short period of time eating then now. I’m here sitting at the table writing tonights entry and they are upstarts playing computer games. There is distance. There is silence.

Of course, when we went to feed the horse, we had to get desert. Ice cream sundaes. Bon Appetit.

Categories
life

Explore Space Create History

That phrase is on the front cover of the latest LEGO catalogue that arrived today. The summer 2019 catalogue has creations associated with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. When I was growing up, I followed the space program before the landing. I was 8 at the time. I remember watching Walter Cronkite cover the liftoff, the landing, the first walk on the moon and the landing back here on earth. I had everything. A space suit, telescope, we would fly model rockets. I would write NASA every month for free photos and books, anythink about space. It would have been cool to be an astronaut.

So in the summer catalogue from LEGO they have listed as a “hard to find” item, the Saturn V rocket. It’s over 39 inches tall. I remember growing up my plastic model rockets of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. They had to be assembled by hand, and help from mom and dad. They were taller than 39 inches, but they also required glue and paint. Less pieces than these LEGO kits. At 1,969 pieces, it would take my son and I an afternoon to build this LEGO kit. New in the catalogue is the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander. I can remember that when you filled up your car with gas at the Gulf stations at that time, you could get a cardboard cut out kit of the Lunar Lander. It was cool. It was fun. You learned and you had pride in your country.

After that, the catalogue then gets into 20th anniversary Star Wars sets. We have many Star Wars sets here at the house, but not all of them. Over the years, I think I have spent thousands on LEGO sets for the kids. Horses for daughter and Minecraft for son, Ningago sets and LEGO movie sets, LEGO City sets, the space shuttle, trucks, Bionicles, and on and on and on. By page 8 of the catalogue, you have the “hard to find” Death Star and equally impressive Millennium Falcon. It took us about 3 days to build the Death Star over the Christmas break; the Ewok Village was about a week. It was fun. At 7,541 pieces, the Millenium Falcon will take several days to build. It’s labeled as the largest LEGO set ever. We have yet to build it but will get to it some day. But then I noticed, I have a different Millenium Falcon kit and it only has 1329 pieces. Just as fun to build I’m sure, but there are obvious differences.

Of course, my son talked about learning chess at one time, so I was able to find him a LEGO Pirates chess set. As you can see, it is still in an unopened box. Got it on eBay. I don’t think they even make them anymore. And as I flip through the new catalogue, I see that we have new adventures courtesy of Toy Story 4. Cannot wait till we can build Forky!

Oh to be young again. In this case, I get to explore it with my kids all over again. And yes, the dog is so excited!

Categories
Family

Summer Break

This week starts the summer break for the kids, about three months off from school. For daughter, the time will be spent riding. What hasn’t been worked out yet is whether she spends the weeks here at the stables riding her horse, or splitting the week riding here and several days at the stables south of Santa Fe, where she gets her training. The great thing about the latter is that she gets to work with many different horses.

There are other advantages for splitting the week. She gets some professional training with people watching and coaching. This is something that she doesn’t get riding at the stables closer to home.

For son, his summer will be spent at several camps. The majority of the summer weeks will be spent at art classes. Interspersed between the art camps are camps for hiking and outdoors, and a two week robotics class. The hiking explores the landscape around where we live and the forces that shaped the local mountains, getting wet and dirty. The second week explores the creatures that live in the dirt, the water and the mountains.

Then there is robotics. There they will learn how to build, program and control basic robots. We thought this would be great since he likes computer games. Reading up on the subject, it looks like they use LEGO

kits. Hopefully this will allow him to learn basics, to be creative, and to have fun.

Anyway, this summer should be fun, busy and keep them outside.

Categories
life

Exercise

Over the years I have tried many different activities in order to construct an exercise program. There has been biking, hiking, running, weights, swimming, and of course walking. Of late, walking has been the one that has been the most consistent of these endeavors in getting exercise.

Walking allows me to get outdoors, to take the dog with, to go as fast and as far as I can. Of late, I find myself going to the stables, as there are many trails along the Mesa that allows me many different opportunities to cover as many miles as I like. Typically I am walking for about 35 minutes on average and cover about 2 miles based on the app that I have on my iPhone.

Still, it doesn’t appear to be enough to get my weight down. That stays fairly constant. Even as I watch my intake of food, limited soda consumption, and less junk food. But I figure that every day, if I go a little farther, go a little faster, then the pounds will begin to fall off. At least that is what I hope to accomplish this summer. Exercise for the body, reading for the mind. Now to figure out how to address the spirit.

I have several more things to return to and report upon during the course of my journey here. I hope you come back and follow my progress, or my lack thereof.

Categories
ramblings of a madman

one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer…

Woke up this morning and in the shower I found myself singing the George Thorogood and the Destroyers tune “One Bourbon, one Scotch and one Beer”. Not sure why. Didn’t have a drink the night before. Whatever. It was just running through my head.

As I was reading early in the morning before getting the kids up, I looked up the lyrics and the history of the song. Often such studies start with Wikipedia. There I was able to read that the song was first written and recorded by Amos Milburn in 1953, and with some different lyrics by John Lee Hooker in 1966. Finally the George Thorogood version was comprised of two separate John Lee Hooker songs in 1977.

Anyway, the tie to the picture that I included is my list of summer drinks, which I think will help me pass my summer evenings home alone while reading.

Buffalo Trace is one of my favorite bourbon’s. I describe the taste as sweet with a hint of brown sugar, vanilla, and toffee. I really enjoyed my visit to their distillery in 2017 when my daughter was competing at the Kentucky Horse Park. The Macallan is a tie to Rush. Their great drummer, Neil Peart is a fan of Macallan and I agree with his taste. My first drink was from a bottle of the 15 year old that was a present from a coworker. The flavors include oak, honey, spicy and orange zest. And finally, the Samuel Adams Summer Ale has a bright citrus flavor comprised of orange, lime and lemon. It taste great after working outside for a few hours.

Anyway, I find periods of my life are defined by songs. I’m guessing this is the summer of one bourbon, one scotch and one beer. Of course, all in moderation.

Categories
life

What to write about today

Since I have started this journey a little over a week ago, when I sit down to write, I have typically had the entire piece written in my mind. Today I find myself in the opposite state of mind. Some subject ideas but nothing about the details of the piece. Not sure if it is because I haven’t thought enough about what specific subject to write about, or was it the frustrating day at work, or is it running for three days on seven hours of sleep, or the fact that there is to much going on.

As I said, I have many subjects to ponder. All of them will hopefully get put into words as we continue on this journey. All of them will provide you, the reader about what kind of person I am. Such topics include financial stuff. Lots of blogs about that. Some offer great advice and I have found the articles to be very helpful. I am not a financial expert so I will not write about that much. At least I can write at some point about my axioms for handling money. History and politics are two areas that I have interest in, but they can easily turn people off, especially when they don’t agree with your position on the issues that confront our nation. Suffice it to say, I characterize myself as being “so far to the right that I end up on the left”. Other topics can be hobbies, travel, people, book reviews. Many ideas of things to ponder and keep me occupied and hopefully, all of you as readers, coming back for more. Of course, there will be more offerings in the future about my kids and our pets. Cannot wait to tell you about the goldfish.

Work can be a dull subject. I have a PhD in Chemistry from a Big 10 school, but I really don’t do much chemistry anymore. Most of what I do is in the area of solving technical problems. These technical problems are often caused by others and thus it becomes my job to “make it work”. You do with what you have and don’t request the Lamborghini when a Ford works.

As for the sleep, that becomes an annual conversation in my medical checkup, along with weight, diet, and exercise. Ever since college some 40 years ago, I have been able to function on 2 to 4 hours of sleep every day. Yes it is odd that when I am on vacation, 8 to 10 hours is the norm. Charging the batteries I guess, but I’m thinking that weight, diet and exercise, would be better controlled if sleep was more normal than what I get at present.

And as always, there is lots going on. While I no longer work the 50 to 60 hour work weeks, there are the kids to consider, life and activities outside work, and the general realization that it’s time to do something different as I reach middle age. Yes I plan on living forever, so I better start working on weight, diet and exercise in order to even remotely live to 150.

Categories
Family

Ruby

When the kids were younger, we would often go to the local stables and slowly drive the roads and look at the animals. Chickens, goats, a couple of cows, a llama and some turkeys. The main residents at the stables are horses. All different sizes and colors. A coworker of mine had a stable and several horses and on one of our trips, he and his wife were there. We stopped. Big mistake. Shortly thereafter, daughter was sitting on the back of a horse. A big grin across her face, she was immediately hooked. At that time she was three.

Eleven years have passed, as has several loaner horses, two rented horses, the local US Pony Club horse. Today she has a horse, a stable, and rides regularly and in competitions. Her horse is named Ruby, and she has become another family pet, much like the dog.

Here she is, greeting us for her evening feeding. She gets fed twice a day, and depending upon daughter, ridden every day. Daily practices are often in preparation for dressage, show jumping and cross country. My daughter competes in all three at the beginner novice level.

She enjoys it. It keeps her and her friends out of trouble. Yet, when I see her with Ruby, she still has that big grin across her face.

Categories
life

Reading is Fundamental

Today starts the final week of the school year for my son and daughter. Every year the schools send out information about summer reading programs, books to read, things to try to get the kids to read during the summer months. It’s a great idea and I try to do my best to get my children to read over the summer. There are two approaches that I take to accomplish this.

The first approach is pure capitalism. They get to choose the book and if it meets with my approval, then they read it. For every book that they read, I will pay them twenty dollars. The book has to meet with my approval, otherwise, the legal minds that are my children will argue over what constitutes a book. There is no prescribed number of pages, it cannot be a short story or a comic book. A collection of short stories is fine, but they have to read all of it. There is no quiz, or essay. I just need to see them reading. They are not speed readers, so devouring 100 pages in a day will cause me to question the actual reading. But it is the honor system, which I try to impress upon them is as important as being able to communicate well. The art of communication is dying in our society, between texts and tweets and emoji’s. It is certainly something that I struggle with and try my best to get it right. But I will let you be the judge based upon my blog posts.

The second approach is to lead by example. By that I mean if they see me reading, perhaps they will also read. I cannot ask them to do something that I then will not also do. I’m not going to pay myself twenty dollars, but I am going to read. One reason will be to generate ideas for future blog postings.

For the start of my summer reading, I have chosen a book that has constantly gotten the better of me. On a Facebook post once, I commented in the category of things people may not know about me is that I have managed to read the Bible twice, cover to cover. Odd as I am not a religious person, but we can explore that in some future blog. No my challenge for the summer will be my fourth attempt to read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Why? First is that being a Rush fan, their songs were influenced by the writings of Ayn Rand. Yes, I have seen the movies but the story is as important today as when it was written. Every time I start reading a book, I put the date and where I am at the time I am reading it. For this start, I wrote “here is hoping that the 4th time I will finish”. My copy is worn, having been purchased in the summer of 2011. I think I bought it as part of a trip to go see Rush in concert.

I’ll keep you informed of the summer reading challenge for both me and my kids. I’ll have more words tomorrow as I explore this new world of blogging and work to improve my own communication skills.

Categories
life

Memorial Day

It is written that Memorial Day is a day set aside as a day of remembrance for fallen brothers (and sisters) in arms. Of late, it has become a three-day weekend, the end of the school year, the start of summer. It’s a day of some flags (depending upon where you are). Honestly, much of today is for working around the house and barbecues with friends. We should all take a moment to reflect upon those who have died in protecting our country; to honor those who do so today, or served and came home and returned to society, or those who unfortunately wander our streets, homeless because of some reason that we cannot or will not understand.

Not many people acknowledge that today is a special day with the simple act of hanging the flag. In the little complex where I now live, only two houses hang a flag. It is sad that people cannot take a moment out of their busy lives that hang a flag, to be thankful and to reflect upon the meaning of the day or what the flag represents. Sadly, to many, respecting our country is a bad thing. The flag is a symbol yes, but there is substance behind it if you take a moment and ponder. And while our country and our history is not perfect, the ideals that founded our nation over 200 years ago ring true today. The freedoms that we take for granted are in jeopardy, and we run the risk of being overrun in a world where there is still evil, a world where there are those who want to take away our rights, our independence, our freedom.

I did not serve but honor those who did!