Category Archives: Family

Opportunities Exchanged

Sometimes the universe offers interesting opportunities. No doubt it’s all just coincidence as filtered through the forebrains of some slightly evolved apes who have a knack for pattern recognition and not some higher power trying to guide us. But still…

Last Thursday, John Scalzi was in Los Angeles on his latest book tour. (“The Consuming Fire” just came out last week and I finished it on the plane today – it’s very, VERY good, I enjoyed it tremendously, FYI.) I’ve gone to see him on his last four or five book tours and I highly recommend catching him if you ever can.

But last Thursday I couldn’t, or didn’t, make it out to see him on tour this time around. Too many priorities, a location that I would have loved to see but is harder to get to during rush hour, etc. Lots of reasons to not go and not enough excuses to make it happen. I was disappointed, but not devastated.

Then I noticed in his schedule that tonight he was going to be in Raleigh, NC, on the other side of the continent. By sheer coincidence, I’m in Raleigh, NC tonight, for a family wedding this weekend.

Coincidence? Or message from the gods??!!

Right. Coincidence. Still…

There’s one opportunity. While we were travelling all day to get here and had to be getting to our hotel and meeting family for dinner and so on when we did get into town, it might be possible to boogie out of the family events by 7:00 PM. Maybe. The signing tour site isn’t that far from our hotel, and by LA standards (where “across town” can be 120 miles and six hours at rush hour) it’s literally almost walking distance. (Granted, I’ve run marathons and enjoy walking, so two miles might mean something different to me than it does to others.)

That’s one opportunity.

On the other hand, at dinner I got to meet my new grand-niece-in-law (?!) for the first time. She’s a two-year-old sweetie and I need to get started early on being a bad influence for this next generation. I am, after all, the “funcle” in the family. (A certain amount of exhaustion and some challenges in getting a two-year-old dressed to go down to dinner led me to being labeled “Funcle Pants” at one point, but that’s a story for another day.

That’s another opportunity.

In the end I chose to spend time with my new future co-conspirator, which earned me both hugs and the pride and joy of hearing her learn the phrase “Funcle Paul.” I’ve seen Scalzi before, and will no doubt see him again many times in the future. But there’s only one chance to become Funcle Paul.

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Filed under Family, Travel

Go Pro View – October 5th

It’s been a long, hard, exhausting day in many respects. Some of the exhausting parts have been depressing, some have been terribly sad, some have been frustrating, and some have actually been fun.

It’s called “life,” but today the volume might have been turned up to “11.”

Here are some GoPro pictures from the fun part. The non-profit I work for, Homes 4 Families, is having an “Over The Edge” fundraiser this weekend. (I’ve done this once before.) I will mention that if you’re in LA and this looks like fun and you can make a donation, we still have slots available for tomorrow. (www.Homes4Families.org)

This time there were two differences, one major, one minor. The minor one was that I was wearing a GoPro camera which was set to take a still photo every five seconds. The major one was that our son just happened to be in town today and since H4F’s mission is helping military and veteran families and since Steve is active military, we were able to give him a chance to go OTE with me!

Harnessed up, both the primary rope and the safety rope attached, getting final instructions. We’re TWENTY-SIX STORIES up. It was perfect weather.

Starting to lean back, get the feel of the clutch release, practicing feeding the rope up. Something on the order of 280 to 300 feet of that rope is heavy! And that pool looks very, very small.

Over we go! Just lean back, get into a rhythm with the rope and clutch, and walk down the wall.

Looking north into the eastern San Fernando Valley.

Looking north into the Cahuenga Pass and the 101 Freeway passing by behind us.

Who says, “Don’t look down”? That’s the fun part!

With a mirrored building, a lot of the pictures are various visions of me.

Steve got the hang of it and was motoring down – I was either more clumsy and awkward, taking time to enjoy myself a bit, or both. (Both!)

Getting closer.

Almost down by the trees – well, the trees up on the third floor garage outside of the main lobby. But that’s still 22 down and 4 to go!

There’s the plaza and my support team talking me down.

Terra firma! Death defied once again! And paying for it the rest of the day with some nasty cramps in my legs and the soles of my feet.

The other less corporeal exhaustion we’ll deal with tomorrow.

 

 

 

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Filed under Family, Homes4Families, Photography

Driving Lady Lilli

It’s always nice to see family – it’s especially nice when said family has a gorgeous old Model A that they let me drive!

(Photo by Melanie Kordis)

My dad had a 1929 Model A – this is (I think) a 1931 Deluxe Model A. The long-suffering-sister-in-law was kind enough to let me take it out for a while with her and she didn’t have a nervous breakdown or raise her voice or nothing!

(Photo by Melanie Kordis)

She did at one point very calmly and politely point out that we were passing the local courthouse and that coincidentally this is where the local speed limit was 25 mph and she had managed to not yet ever get a speeding ticket there despite the fact that it was heavily enforced… It seemed an odd point at first, but then again, I’ve often been accused of being a slow learner. (I slowed down, we did not get a ticket.)

Driving the Model A requires a delicate touch, even for those who are used to driving a stick shift. After doing my best to take 20,000 miles off the life of the transmission, I was catching on much better at the end. It was fun!

Thanks, Melanie!!

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Filed under Family, Paul, Photography, Travel

Noisy Visitor

My usual Saturday out at the CAF SoCal hangar in Camarillo. We had a somewhat rare and unusual visitor on the ramp.

A great-great-grandchild of sorts to our PT-19 trainer and the SNJ trainer that followed, the T-45 trainer is used today to teach naval aviators how to fly jets.

It says “Navy” on this side and “Marines” on the other – same difference to a certain extent, both are “naval aviators” and trained to take off and land from aircraft carriers. Note the launch hook sticking out from the front of the nose wheel, and the retracted tailhook at the rear. The T-45 is what today’s naval aviator is flying when he or she does his or her first carrier landings.

This would be a fun ride! I wouldn’t even need to be in the front seat!

There’s a whole bunch of “remove before flight” flags while it’s parked.

Not just for show, eventually they had to leave to go back to El Centro where they’re based.

Up close and personal, it’s really, really loud! (Video tomorrow if I get a few minutes to clean it up and edit a bit.)

 

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Filed under CAF, Family, Photography

Goodbye, March – Don’t Let The Door Hit You In The Ass

In what was a pretty high stress inducing, low stress relief, royal pain in the ass month, there were at the other extreme some pretty good times. There wasn’t a lot of middle ground it seems.

Without whining and bitching, let’s just say that this time of year, being in charge of two different accounting departments, both for non-profits that are living up to that descriptor, has been…”challenging.” There have been a lot of hours and a lot of wondering, “Okay, how do I solve THIS one?”

Yet here I am, still (more or less) on my feet.

Meanwhile, there were two very lovely weeks where it was great to see my son home on leave. He’s in the US Air Force and was finishing a couple of years there and heading towards a couple of years over in this other part of the world, so it was great to see him again. To their credit, my boss and co-workers did a great job of kicking my ass out of the office to go to hockey games and baseball games and conventions with him. (To be quite clear, while the job has its good days and its bad, the people I work with are wonderful.)

The hockey was nice, even if my beloved Kings are hanging onto their playoff hopes by a thread with a week to go. But baseball starts on Sunday and hope springs eternal, even if my hockey team is checking out tee times.

The convention I went to last week was a ton of fun. I saw lots of good friends that I hadn’t seen in a while, in some cases in a long while. I could stand to do that more often.

We made plans, plane tickets, hotel, and car rental for our trip in August to see the total solar eclipse. More on that later, I’m sure!

And despite it all, I have managed to make some progress in the last few days on a number of long-range issues. There’s some satisfaction there, despite the two-steps forward and one-step back nature of it sometimes.

While I can itemize many good things that happened, over it all hangs a pair of clouds – I’m so freakin’ tired all the time, and I dread turning on the news or looking at what’s happening in politics. Both of those things are such a constant drain.

Yet we carry on.

Now we waltz into April. And the jokes are already filling up Twitter and FaceBook. Let’s hope there are some good ones. I could use them. We all could.

 

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Filed under Family, Habitat For Humanity, LA Angels, LA Kings

Home Alone

We’ve lived in this house for over twenty-six years. There have always been kids, wives (not multiple ones at the same time, smartass!), dogs, cats, etc.

Tonight I’m home alone for what I think is only the third or fourth day in that entire span. It’s a little odd.

For one thing it’s quiet. Like, really quiet. While I’ve been watching the World Baseball Classic on television (let’s hear it for the USA!!) I’ve found it easier to watch with the sound off. Fewer annoying ads that way, and no need to keep turning the sound off and on as the ads come and go.

Then the noises started.

Okay, so I’m not entirely alone. It sounds like Rocky and/or Raquel and the brood are up on the roof. I’m used to that, although it’s surprisingly loud when I’m not hearing it over music or the television.

Once they left, I started hearing a chirping every minute or so. Today, of all days, a smoke alarm started getting low on its battery.

Once I killed that, I was startled by some fairly loud gurgling and watery sounds. I honestly didn’t know what it was and was starting to fear the worst when I got up to investigate. It turns out my short-term memory also sucks – the sounds came from the dish washer I had started a while ago.

(Which is also weird. I’m proud of my “dish washer Tetris” skills but had to start it when it was less than half full. With just me and my visiting son here for a few days, we used paper plates but ran out of silverware. I thought it better to run a half-empty dishwasher rather than going out and buying more silverware.)

Then the music started. I was in the living room but I could hear music from my office. I came in here to find some great tunes playing from my usual Sirius-XM station. The only thing is that there’s apparently no browser open, and it’s not playing a recording from an earlier broadcast, so I have no clue why it started suddenly or how it’s playing.

At least my poltergeists share my taste in music! (Or they can’t change the channel.)

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Filed under Castle Willett, Computers, Critters, Family, Music

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.

THAT DOG WAS NOT GOING INTO THAT BUILDING!

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.)

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Filed under Castle Willett, Dogs, Family