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Dogs

Since I have had to set up my own household, the kids and I have adopted two dogs. Both animals were from our local county animal shelter. The first was Abby (photo on the right). The second and most recent is Jewel (photo on the left).

They are part of our family.

Abby was a long hair mixed bread who was an older dog. The adoption papers suggested that she was perhaps 10 years old, and came to our local shelter after living in the Taos area. Set in her ways, she would always great me at the door when I came home, often sitting there looking outside through a window that was floor height.

She immediately fit into the family, but was not the kind of dog who liked to wrestle with son. Even though he picked her out of all of the dogs at the pound, she was my dog. When she wanted something, it was me that she would always visit. Short walks were fine, but she certainly would let you know when it was time to go home. I think that is a trait that she learned from my kids. We had Abby for a little over two years before she passed away from a seizure. We have a lock of her hair, a paw print and her cremated remains in a picture box in the dining room of the house.

At her passing, I wrote a little poem. It went like this:

Rest In Peace my four-legged friend.
Our time together, albeit brief, has come to an end.
I rescued you from the pound,
You rescued me from being lost.
Together our love and friendship grew.
I already miss your wagging tail, and your growls of joy when you roll on my pile of dirty clothes.
Your barking when you would greet me at the door,
was evermore poetic with the kids in tow.
My loss of joy makes this pain so acute.
It will exhaust me with each passing day I am sure,
But in the end, we will meet once again.

Some months passed before we got another dog. Her name is Jewel. A pit bull terrier, she equally had a troubled life. Abused and injured before she was two years old, I can only describe her as a very lovable ball of pure energy. Just looking at her chasing her tail wears me out.

She also likes to look out the window next to the door. And she loves long walks that allow me to really get a workout. She also is my dog even though the kids picked her at the pound.

In my life, I have only had four other dogsthat I called part of my family. They had less interesting names: Tinkle, Tippy, Buffy and Dash. Dash was the family dog after I got married. She was the dog who was around when the kids were born. A golden retriever, Dash was a great dog. The other dogs are from my childhood years growing up in Pennsylvania.

Dogs are just great. They are family.

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Tired

It’s about a quarter past nine as I sit and write this. Trying to write something every day. Kinda like Chemistry in graduate school. Equally important that I ran one experiment a day. Whether it was the necessary synthesis for starting materials, kinetics of chemical reactions, spectroscopic evaluations, or even modeling on the computer, I felt it necessary to do one reaction a day. So it is true with this new adventure. Just took son back to his mothers place; talked to daughter earlier as she is at Goose Downs working and riding in preparation for this weekends event.

I have been awake now for about 18 hours. A typical day. Never get much sleep on the weekdays. Three to five hours is the norm. Eight is sleeping in on the weekend. I usually start the day between 3 and 4 am. Hot tea or coffee, read, shower, take the dog for a walk. This morning we walked a little longer than normal and managed to come across 4 deer feeding in the yards around the place where we live. Got to work by 5:45 am. Usual day in terms of status and schedule meeting. Addressed questions about some equipment, worked with the quality assurance engineers on a new certificate of analysis for product specifications. Meeting on implementation of some new process monitoring to make us more efficient.

Left work after 4 pm to pick up son from summer camp. He didn’t want to go but I think he is actually have fun. It is tiring him out, a good thing. Cooked dinner, had to get dog food at the grocery store. Dropped him off at his mothers. Strangely, I too find myself very tired, having eye trouble. Looking at the dog who picks her head up from the sofa at the sound of the hospital lifeflight helicopter flying overhead.

That about does it it for me. It is hot this evening, not much of a breeze. Will make sleeping difficult. Until tomorrow.

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My story, or is it?

As I think about subjects to write about, I have been thinking about a pathway to guide me through the summer months. I started this blog based on a conversation at work with a coworker, during one of our morning “coffee cabels”. They often deal with work issues, but this one morning, the discussion focused on retirement, what to do after retirement, whether to retire and return part time, or under contract to another company. The work stuff focuses on what is working, what is not working, our management, solving this or that technical problem. Sometimes the conversation triggers thoughts about almost anything. I try to make a mental note about those things; ideas for a future blog post.

The pathway was my thought about the fact that my topics ramble on in terms of subject. While some themes have emerged, I think it will take some time to improve my skills, improve my subjects, and how the fit together. As an example, lots of my posts speak about my kids. I love them, but I don’t think they read my blog. I’ll keep trying.

Now in my third week, I have been exposed to many fellow bloggers in the past few weeks. I find their stories and subjects equally interesting. Some deal with writing, animals, art, a variety of topics. Some readings that I have exposed myself to suggest writing about one or more of my hobbies. I have some future plans in this area and will lay those out over the next few months. I have lots of interests, but they all clearly are not hobbies. Book reviews, movie reviews are all fair game, but I fail to see how writing about those subjects will separate this blog from others. A book review about my reading might appear. I bet you all are interested in how far I have gotten in Atlas Shrugged (7 pages). Fishing, hunting, hiking and camping are also fair game. I won’t write about sports or skiing, although an occasional shout out to my teams is permitted. Similarly, food and alcohol are things that I enjoy, but I am neither a cook, critic or a connoisseur. Lots of blogs on history and politics but I don’t want to alienate half of the audience who would disagree with my political views. But then again, I would not be true to myself if I didn’t write about these things.

Some of these topics go to the heart of why I started this blog. It’s obvious that writing and communication are important in my job, with my friends and coworkers. It’s all around us. It’s also under assault (in my opinion). Just spend some time on Facebook. Read the comments to any article. Whether you agree or disagree, there is someone who has an opinion, or will tell you why your opinion is wrong, bad, stupid, or just embark on a characterization of you in detail in comparison to a part of the human anatomy. It doesn’t matter if your male or female. That is what is wrong with Facebook. But it gets worse as they try to have “community standards” that they impose. The imposition stifles free speech and communication of diverse subjects. We cannot have a debate, which is what is destroying our country, or democracy. That is a strength of social media, and for that Twitter might be better ( I am not on Twitter, but really, the limited character size constrains us). It is why we cannot compromise, we cannot move forward together. It’s sad that this has been the turn of our country since the 70’s by my recollections. But here we are. This blog isn’t going to fix those issues, but I will at least be able to express. Myself. And I hope that you will respond in kind and join me in these conversations. I’ll keep trying. I won’t be right all of the time, or most of the time, but I need to express myself.

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Pony Club

If you spend time with horses, you eventually get introduced to the United States Pony Club. They aim to teach young and old riders the proper rules for taking care of a horse, as well as riding and eventing.

In preparation for my daughter’s next event, she has a mounted pony club meeting today. The have regional and location-specific clubs throughout the country. My daughter rides as a member of the Santa Fe Pony Club, which is one of the clubs in the Southwest Region.

So I dutifully took her to the place where they ride, which is south of Santa Fe. Santa Fe has several places in the area that offer riding and host events, including polo. Just past Lamy, on the way to Galisteo is Goose Downs Farm. This is the place where my daughter rides and trains often.

They offer training for dressage, show jumping and cross country for all ages. Indoor and outdoor. As you know, the weather in New Mexico is nice for most of the year. Today was sunny and low 70’s. I just love the blue sky. You can rent a horse or bring your own. Today my daughter road Wyatt, which is not her horse. We will transport Ruby down later in the week. I like to tell Ruby that she is going to the spa for the week.

Sadly, she was ill prepared for the mounted lesson today because she forgot her equipment, but practiced the dressage course for her ranking in preparation for next week.

Goose Downs has a riding event coming up next weekend (http://www.goosedownsfarm.com). You can board your horse there for a fee, and they even have a bunkhouse where you can stay if your coming from afar.

So while she practiced today, I helped groom the place in preparation for the dressage events this weekend. Thus I managed to get several miles in while pushing the mower.

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Subject

As I sit here in the living room this evening, I am trying to figure out what to write. Usually, there are several subjects during the day that pop into my head. Some cause me to think longer and harder than others. It’s the one that I ponder the most that writes itself. That is the one that becomes the subject matter that I write about in the evening. I was setting here this evening, alternating between the TV, my beer and things on my iPad. Lots going on today so there are many topics to write about.

Then my solitude is interrupted by the kids. That quickly escalates into an argument about ice cream sundaes. Something that is a special treat has now become an everyday treat in the mind of my son. So as the sucker that I am, I run out and get them. Daughter has a friend from school over for a sleepover. Right now I am actually quite angry at both of them for different reasons.

Upon my return, son knows he is in the doghouse but he just cannot comprehend why and his typical response is “I’m sorry”. However, as I try to explain to him again, he has never comprehended the concept of an apology and that with it comes the idea that he will not do that which he is apologizing for again. Literally it can be a matter of minutes and he is back at it. We have this conversation over and over and over. He just does not comprehend the idea.

Disclaimer. Both of my kids have been diagnosed and are taking medicine for ADHD. They are not in the zombie state that one often thinks of with ADHD medicines. Just the opposite. And to those who suggest that it is overdiagnosed, and the medicines are over prescribed. There is a clear difference between both of them with and without the medicine. Over the years we have tried everything. The symptoms in a boy can and are often very different in a girl.

I often wonder if it is me. Like me, both have anger issues. I’ve tried over the years to work on it, and have been somewhat successful, especially around the kids. Not perfect but getting better as they get older. Sometimes my actions remind me of my life in growing up. Then I wonder if it’s a product of the divorce. As I am the product of divorce, I do my best to be there, treat them equal, and try to talk to them every day. Conversation was never a big thing in my household.

They are very different. Daughter is outgoing, has her horse, lots of friends, tries new and different things. She is on her own journey. Son has a hampster. He is a lot like me in many ways. He keeps to himself. Somewhat shy, an introvert. Has a couple of friends, but with school out he doesn’t keep in touch or try to play with them over the summer vacation. Doesn’t excel in sports; actually has no interest in sports. He is the one I most worry about. Hopefully next week will be better because he starts a summer camp and his tow closest friends from preschool will be there. Hope that goes well.

Today was a beautiful day outside. Both spent the day inside. We went out and I got them new bikes for the summer. Their older bikes were too small for them. Bring them home and nothing. Put them in the garage. They did not go for a ride. Ditto with daughter and the horse. No riding today. It’s clear, and although he doesn’t say so, I think he feels slighted by the horse. It’s a big expense and so he sees things. One can by lots of game coins or things for playing online video games for the cost of some horse things. We tried to get him interested in horses. No. We talked about chickens, rabbits, or goats. Initially displays some interest, but like most things, he will loose interest and then it becomes my responsibility. In general, I’m not one to force things upon either of them. It never turns out well in the end.

And just like that. I am done with this evening writing assignment. I covered the five or six topics that went through my mind during the day. Might be long winded rambling, but there it is.

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Rip off

Last night, as I was reading posts on Facebook, I came across an advertisement for the LEGO Millenium Falcon. It was the 7451 piece set that I commented on in a post the other day (Explore Space Create History). The problem is that the company only wanted $49.95 for it. Odd since the LEGO catalogue had it for $799.

The website link had several pictures of the item. It was the same LEGO item. It even had the same catalogue number. The box even had the Disney logo on the lower corner. But LEGO wasn’t on the box in the photo. I commented that it was probably a knockoff. A short time later a man from Hong Kong commented that it was not a LEGO product. Obviously a blatant rip-off for profit.

I reported the matter to Facebook. If I understood their site, they have a policy that basically doesn’t hold them liable for many copyright and trademark issues in the buying and selling of things. I guess it is ok to sell fraudulent items but it’s not ok to comment on certain things that impact their community rules. Not surprising since they don’t make money if you call somebody a bad name, suggest that a government official should be hung, or note that the B52’s should be locked and loaded to address issues. They just ban you for a period of time. (A story for another time, but I think I’m up to 30 days now). Not that my complaint mattered, or did it? By morning, my conversation with the man from Hong Kong was erased, my links to the web site were gone, and the company was advertising fashion items. Not sure who did all of that!

Since my kids and I love LEGO products, I also reported it to LEGO by e-mail. They responded about 10 hours later and thanked me for the information, commenting that they are constantly searching the internet for knock off products. Their legal department is looking into my information.

Now this post will probably strike a cord with some, as it ventures into politics, vis-a-via the current trade issues between the United States and China. In my opinion in this matter, it was obvious that a Chinese company tried to rip off a foreign company. Copyright, trademark infringement and patent protection are important in economics. The ideas that people generate should be protected. Other people should not be allowed to take someone else’s ideas and profit from it. If I had to guess, I bet that since they didn’t put LEGO on the box that they were not ripping off LEGO.

This isn’t the first time that I have seen this. Hasbro had the Avengers Thanos glove with the Infinity stones that light up. I think that it was possible to buy knock offs of that glove on another shopping website before Hasbro actually shipped it. I know because my son got one of the cheap knock-offs that was rendered useless in the first week. Shipped directly from China. I guess that the bottom line is buyer beware.

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Pizza night

Typically, Thursday night is pizza night for the kids and I. Tonight we had Papa Murphy’s. Cheese and black olives for daughter; cheese, pineapple and ham for son. I have some of each. With Papa Murphy’s they make it fresh and you bring it home to cook. Simple, fresh and whatever you want.

We alternate between Dominos, Time Out ( a local place) and Papa Murphy’s. The local grocery store also makes pizza and of course there is frozen. We like Jacks Frozen Pizza the best.

Pizza is simple, easy to have, and somewhat healthy with the right ingredients. Lots of cheese, the kind that forms long strings. Rich tomato sauce with spices, and your favorite toppings. My toppings are usually pepperoni or sausage with green chile. It’s a New Mexico thing.

Of course, growing up back home in Lewistown, Pennsylvania meant that you could get square pizza from Gus’s. It’s still there and it still makes great pizza. For me growing up, I remember that it was the rare occasion that we got pizza, and while it has been a few years since I have had a slice, I remember that it’s still good.

The great thing about pizza is that there is usually leftovers. And I was reading that it’s not just for lunch or dinner anymore. Wonder how it goes with coffee.

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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.

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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.

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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!