Category Archives: Dogs

More Puppies Needed

For no apparent reason, I recommend that offices, especially offices experiencing very high stress, shorthanded, please-dear-god-let-me-just-survive-to-Friday-night types of weeks should have substantially more puppies running around.

Particularly little Jack Russell Terrier type puppies, who figure out that the office is basically a loop and start running laps at just under light speed from the accounting office toward the kitchen, through the conference room, out by the finance director’s office, then back down to accounting over and over and over and over and over…

And then collapsing into a sleepy heap with their fluffy toy.

Even in a PDGLMJSTFN week, you can end Friday with a smile, despite it all.

More puppies!!!

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No Context For You – June 09th

Life is indeed too short to drink bad wine.

If you’re going to advise others to do “A” instead of “B” simply because “A” is “safe…”

If you’re going to tell others not to settle for “good enough…”

If you’re going to recommend that others live their lives with passion, fervor, and gusto…

Then you should bother to pay attention and do those things yourself as well.

Shouldn’t you?

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Filed under Castle Willett, Dogs, Photography

Wait, Did I Just See…

Watching planes at CMA today, golf carts whizzing by with AOPA Fly-In event staff. Wait…

…that wasn’t a British golf cart with the steering wheel on the right. So who…

…yeah, I noticed, I just couldn’t think of what to say in the moment.

More to the point, why was I the only one that thought this was unusual? And how did that golden retriever ever pass the test to get an on-field driving pass? Usually it’s only the German Shepherds that can do that.

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Filed under CAF, Dogs, Photography

No New Dog Today

I think today was the first non-holiday weekday where I haven’t worked since we went to New York City in August. That means that the errands and chores had built up for all of the places that aren’t open on Sundays. (I am, of course, either at a Saturday work event or at the CAF hangar every Saturday.)

I had replaced the battery on the van over the weekend to get it mobile again. With that accomplished, first thing this morning I had it loaded up with aluminum cans and plastic bottles for the recycling center.

Once I was done at the recycling center I realized that the back of the van still had two or three boxes of dog food, treats, bones, and various dishes and dog toys. I had gathered them up for donation somewhere but hadn’t ever gotten around to it. But the recycling center is only two blocks from the LA County Animal Shelter, the same one where twenty years ago (HOLY GUACAMOLE, BATMAN, TWENTY FREAKIN’ YEARS??!!) we got the legendary “Lucky Puppy.”

They were more than happy to take the donation. When I walked back out to the van to start bringing the boxes in, a pickup truck had pulled up next to my van. The driver had gone in but in the truck bed was a gorgeous yellow lab.

He was friendly, wanted attention, a good dog. He seemed healthy, not too old, maybe five or six years, and was just a vision of the typical “I just want to be friends with everyone and everything – do you have a ball?!” yellow lab.

And this was the place where people drop off animals that they found wandering around lost or the ones that they can’t keep any more.


Now, mind you, I had absolutely zero factual reasons to believe that was going to happen. I had zero facts at all other than that this friendly dog was there sitting in the pickup truck outside of the shelter. This was not an intellectual decision of any sort at all. Pure emotion, pure gut feeling.

See, this whole election kerfuffle has us all just a bit off balance emotionally. I blame Trump! (That’s my new mantra for the next four years, by the way.)

I know that The Long-Suffering Wife and I had agreed that there wouldn’t be any more dogs for a while. We have changes in our housing situation coming up and a dog would be a serious complication. We have plans for travel and other activities now that we’re empty nesters and a dog would be a serious complication. I need a break from scooping dog poop from all over the yard and a dog would be a serious complication.

But I would have figured out something and I’m sure TLSW would have gone along with it.

Fortunately for our plans, the driver came out at that point with another dog, causing the yellow lab to go nuts with joy, as only a lab can. It seems that the other dog in the house was an escape artist (been there, done that, with both Lucky and Jessie) and had gotten picked up and turned in again.

A happy ending for all. But there’s no new dog here today.

Which is a good thing. A very good thing.

Yeah, that’s it – a very good thing. (Repeat as necessary.)


Filed under Castle Willett, Dogs, Family

Please Accept My Apologies

On behalf of the sane citizens of the United States (a group that is apparently small and growing smaller by the day) I apologize for our electoral process.

Please accept my apologies. And these cute pet pictures. (Two of these are not like the others.)

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Filed under Cats, Critters, Dogs, Photography, Politics

A Certain Lack Of Trust

Out for my late evening stroll (two and a half miles) I was about two blocks from home tonight when I spotted one of my old nemeses. It was digging for grubs in a yard two houses down from me, a good sized critter, black, bushy tail held high, with that bright white stripe prominently displayed.

I was going to simply cross the street to give it a wide berth, but the skunk started toward the street instead and I froze. I’ve read that they have lousy vision, which was fine  by me. It waddled across the street and started digging for grubs in that yard.

Down the street was walking a man with two dogs on leashes. He had moved out into the street and over to my side. I was watching the skunk to make sure it didn’t do anything rash, as well as to see if there might be a mate or baby skunks wandering about. As my neighbor got next to me he asked, “Was that what I think it was?”

“If you think it was a skunk, then, yes, it was,” I said.

He reined in the leashes on his dogs, which were now picking up the scent (the skunk had not sprayed, but still…) and getting excited. He moved on past me and I started toward home again.

As I got to the corner to turn for home, another man rounded the corner with two large dogs. I stopped him and gave him the heads up that a potential major problem lie just down at the next corner.

He was incredulous. “A skunk? Here? In the city?”

He must be new to the area, because we can smell them once or twice a month, even though seeing them is more rare. I assured him that I was dead serious, noting that running into a skunk while walking the dogs would most certainly ruin his day.

“Yeah, right,” was all I got for my efforts. He moved off down the sidewalk.

I crossed the street and headed for home. As I got halfway down the block I heard dogs start to bark and could clearly hear a man’s voice yelling, “OH, SHIT!”By the time I got home the first whiffs of Eau d’Skunk were wafting across the neighborhood.

In the stereotypical big city suburban neighborhood where the assumption is that no one knows their neighbors’ names even after living next to them for twenty years, I tried to be friendly and outgoing. You know – “neighborly.” Our now-stinky friend should have had a bit more trust.

Karma, man! It’s a real bitch.

(P.S. – For the record, we do know most of our neighbors’ names for at least the first two or three houses, with one notable exception. Further down the block, if we don’t know the name of the neighbor, we at least know the name of their dog.)

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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Dogs, Health

2015 – The Schizophrenic Year

(I had to use “schizophrenic”, I already used the roller coaster analogy.)

For almost all of us, every year has its ups and downs, highs and lows, sorrows and joys. (Insert your own dichotomy pairs here – I’ll wait. Done?) It’s a fine line to a certain extent – no one really wants it to be too frantic or hectic, but no one wants it to be too boring and dull either.

2015 might be the most “dynamic” for me in quite a while. I’m not sure that I’ll miss it.

The bad – well, obviously, my mother’s passing last month. I’m glad that we got to see her in July for her 80th birthday,

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and given her condition and how it had deteriorated after the stroke, it wasn’t a surprise, but there are still some strong emotions involved.

We had to put down our cat in February,


and our dog a couple of weeks ago.

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The house is an empty place without their demanding and cuddly little presences.

On the good side, obviously, the great job I finally found after a long period of unemployment was the highlight of 2015. So far things are going very well and I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures and challenges the new year brings there. Having a regular pay check again is short on suckage as well.

There were three NASA Socials for me this year, to tour SOFIA in February,

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see the LEAPTech demonstration in May,

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and the fantastic trip to Washington, DC in April for the Hubble Space Telescope 25th anniversary.

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That’s a pretty cool trio of events. I enjoyed myself and geeked out a lot.

In addition to the Washington trip, The Long-Suffering Wife and I had three trips in 2015, to Vermont in July to see my mom,


to North Carolina in April to see a friend of hers and a friend of mine from high school,


and to Indiana in September for a niece’s wedding.


In the air and at the hangar, we had a great airshow at Camarillo in August,

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saw the Blue Angels at Point Mugu in September,


and had “Fifi” visit us for a week in March.


Getting the opportunity to fly in “Fifi” from Camarillo to Palm Springs was also one hell of a great treat.

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I got to meet some of my heroes,

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and saw the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum for the first time.


Most importantly, I, my kids, and The Long-Suffering Wife are all healthy and well. This is particularly important since there was one serious scare in particular in early 2014, but so far things are going very well in that regard.

In summary, there were a handful of really deep lows, but there were an awful lot of highs, many of which were pretty stinking good. 2016’s highs don’t have to be quite as big as 2015’s (although I wouldn’t complain if they are) but I could happily live without the really lousy lows.

Call me selfish.

I hope your 2016 triumphs are as satisfying as mine were in 2015, and your 2016 tragedies are more like inconveniences with attitudes.

Happy New Year. Welcome, 2016!

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Filed under CAF, Cats, Dogs, Flying, Photography, Space, Travel

The Roller Coaster Continues


Already the pee-mail is piling up in the front yard from Jessie’s friends.

I don’t know who’s going to read all of that, but it’s not me. And I’m sure as hell not going to try to answer any of it!

Seriously, our thanks to all of our friends and family, those we know face-to-face and those we know only online, those we see every day and those we see every five years, all of whom have been there to support us in the bad times and celebrate with us in the good.

Your kind words and thoughts are much appreciated.

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Jessie The Pup (2001-2015)


We got her as a teeny, tiny pup.


The Long-Suffering Wife had a friend who had a litter of puppies to give away.


We went to see them and found this one – the trouble maker!


The one always nibbling at my shoelaces and trying to kill me.


Of course we took her.


She was not always the most dignified of puppies as she grew.


But she got to be beautiful as the brown and tan colors came out.


She was a jumper, so if you left her in the back yard and went to work, she would often meet you when you drove up, ears back because she knew she was in trouble.

She had a couple of memorable run ins with skunks.


When she was young, the ball was her most prized possession.

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She only let us use the kitchen. It was her domain because that’s where all the food is, and she knew that all the food was really hers.


She was as cool as the other side of the sheets.


She could be a happy, holiday dog…

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…if you didn’t destroy her pride by making her wear these stupid looking antlers.


She was always on the lookout for the dreaded, “Squirrel!!”


The front yard was her domain, where she would sit and survey the passing world for hours.


Toward the end, she was getting very gimpy, having some serious mobility issues.


The bathroom floor was one of her favorite places to sleep, because it was cool on her belly.


She would gnaw on a bone any time – she was vicious to the bones (and the ball), but gentle to everything else.

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Front yard domain, in front of “the rock” where I would sit with her.


Sleeping on carpet was acceptable if the air was cooler.


If not, sleeping in the dirt or on the back patio would work just fine.


In her later years, while I was unemployed and home most days, she would lie under my desk next to me for hours on end. I always thought she knew here time was near and she didn’t want to be alone if/when it ran out.


Jessie The Pup was a most excellent dog, the most spoiled rotten & pampered dog in at least Los Angeles, probably the world. She was smart, vocal, and had a bit of an attitude if she didn’t get what she wanted.

Jessie, the Pupster Beast, was a wonderful companion. We love her and are going to miss her.

Sleep tight, big girl. Say hello to the Lucky Puppy for us.


Filed under Dogs, Family, Photography

Roller Coaster

(It’s another disjointed ramble, I fear, but I’ll try to keep it short.)

I like roller coasters, always have. My kids all learned to love them. Then there are the roller coasters off of the rails without all of the OSHA-mandated safety backups five deep, like going and flying aerobatics in a T-6 or catching a ride in a P-51.

And the Space Shuttle or Soyuz or Dragon or anything else that’s in the pipeline? Bring it on. You need to “man-rate” the SpaceX Dragon. Just put in a sleeping bag and some snacks and I’ll man-rate that sucker for you on the next launch. (Rhetoric, I know, since the odds of being allowed to do that are just about the same as having the USS Enterprise land in my back yard with Kirk, Spock, and friends. But I really would do it. In a heartbeat.)

It’s the mental roller coaster that’s beating me up tonight. Adrenaline’s a wonderful thing (ask for it by name!) and it’s gotten me through the last month, but it might be wearing thin at the moment. Or maybe there’s just too much news about a certain bigoted, ignorant, hate-mongering piece of shit who is running for President. It could go either way.

Getting the job was fantastic! Having my mother pass away, while not unexpected or even a bad thing given her condition, was a blow.

High! Low!

The job’s going great, I loved it my first week! Our poor dog is literally on her last legs, starting to lose her last semblance of mobility, in more and more obvious pain.

High! Low!

Orbital launched a Cygnus cargo vehicle to ISS yesterday on an Atlas V, and SpaceX is hoping to launch their return-to-flight Falcon 9 by the end of the year. Just about anything related to American politics.

High! Low!

I feel like a piece of taffy being stretched just a bit too thin.

Then comes the healing power of music. Just when you need it most, you get “88 Lines About 44 Women” popping up (the unedited version to boot!).

Go ahead. Turn it up, way, Way, WAY up! Sing along.

I don’t know if we’re headed up or headed down on the roller coaster, but as long as we’re singing, I guess it’s better than not being on the ride at all.

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Filed under Dogs, Music, Politics, Space