Monday, November 30, 2009
Today about an hour or so into the session, one new family in our ward arrived at their appointed time and was pleasantly surprised to be ushered right into my office, that we were running right on time. I could see how his family, with five small children, would be inconvenienced by delays. I run on six minute intervals, so ten families per hour. The family comes in, I briefly review their callings to see if everything is okay, then we review tithing status for each member, I thank the family for their contributions of money and time, thank them for all their service in the ward, and read my annual "tithing scripture" (Ether 12:4 this year) and bear short testimony. I do not engage in additional discussions, but do take notes for any follow up interviews that might be needed. I don't count or reconcile any additional contributions--my counselor and clerks do that (or my "elves", as I refer to them).
Last year we had two Sundays that were snowed out, where church was cancelled (extremely rare here in Oregon). We had the unique experience of doing "house calls" for tithing settlement, so we could salvage as much of the session schedule as we could. What a memorable time that was, driving around with my counselor in deep snow and visiting homes.
I'm sure this is one example where I am strengthened and sustained in my service. I find I am energetic and upbeat the entire session. I am humbled and awed by the good people in my ward, and feel it a unique blessing to sit amongst them in this capacity. After I am released I know this will be one experience I will miss, and will look back on fondly.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Our first, Blair, was born in Provo, UT, and after a long and difficult labor, and after being sent home after our first trip to the hospital. How discouraging that was. But what a thrill to be new parents!
Daniel came five weeks early in Ridgecrest, CA. I was at work and my home teacher found me during lunch and told me to rush to the hospital, that Suzanne was in labor and delivery was imminent. (We didn't have cell phones in those days.) I didn't think this was possible and figured it would be a false alarm. When I arrived at the hospital they led me right into the room where Daniel had just been born and the doctors were working frantically to get him breathing (which he did, but what a scare!).
Bridget threatened to come early (Boise, ID), so Suzanne was confined to bed the final few weeks. When Suzanne went into labor I said "let's go!". Good thing we wasted no time because it was a wild rush to the hospital (I don't recall how many red lights I ran)--it was all Suzanne could do to hold off giving birth in the car. She delivered just a few minutes after getting to her room.
Teresa came a couple of weeks early, if I remember right (Portland, OR). We knew by now not to dilly dally once labor started, so we avoided the wild drive to the hospital, but she was still born not long after getting there. I think Teresa may have been our first ultrasound, and the doctor thought she was a boy, but we felt she would be a girl and were glad.
Steven was at risk of being born quickly, so the doctor arranged to induce right about the due date. Just a normal early morning drive to the hospital, and Steven arrived later that morning (Portland, OR).
There is nothing like the euphoria you feel after a newborn arrives in your family. It is one of the top wonders of the world.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I was exploring my options, including signing up for the National Guard or Reserves. As I recall, I even took a test to start down that road. I don't recall the exact situation with college or missionary deferments, but they must have been in jeopardy for me to be so worried.
Well, my number was drawn, and it was 348! I felt so relieved and lucky. The deal was that you were only exposed to the draft for one year, so I went ahead and listed myself as 1-A and eligible for the draft, even at school and on my mission for that year, so I could get it out of the way. My year passed and I was scott free. It was about this time that the draft started slowing down, anyway. But the number 348 will always be emblazoned in my memory.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Each year I look forward to the extra time off work with the extended weekend. The Wednesday workday itself has a little tingle to it, as people are in a pleasant mood, and the numbers, already diminished due to people taking vacation days, thin out further as the day progresses. I can remember several times (at Sequent in particular) when I felt like one of the few left in the building at the end of a full day (or a bit longer, as the work may have required). Things are so quiet, and when you leave for the parking lot it is dark and peaceful outside.
Often there are weekend projects to look forward to. At HP at least a couple of times I brought a computer home to play games on. This was before the days of PC's, so a computer at home was a novelty, though the games were very rudimentary. Sometimes Suzanne and I had wallpaper projects in store. Sometimes we would have shopping plans for early morning black Friday, or a visit to the temple. I often organized extended tennis play for Friday, or a bike ride, or a run. Sometimes we have taken trips--a couple of times to Boise to visit the Juhasz family, or Teresa. We have hosted family (I remember Barry's family visiting us in Meridian, and the snow storm when they left) or friends.
Today will be a bit different. Suzanne is incapacitated with her foot surgery recovery, so we are having a simpler Thanksgiving. Blair will cook the turkey and each of us will have other food preparation assignments, but nothing will be elaborate.
But, as with each Thanksgiving, we are so mindful of our countless blessings. What a wonderful life we lead! And I wish all you readers a marvelous Thanksgiving as well.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
A child has the advantage of innocence, minimal world concerns, toys and games for play, and, perhaps, an awareness of continual growth and improvement. But, lots of negatives, too.
As a teenager I so much looked forward to age 16 when I could get a license to drive a car. Not a bad age, but also too many negatives with the teen years.
Early twenties, a full time mission under my belt, a bride, a newborn son. But college years were tough and stressful.
New college graduate, (relatively) lucrative job, beginnings of a family. Definitely a fun and rewarding age, mid-twenties. Perhaps near optimum physical body. And a sharp mind capable of learning and comprehending quickly. But in retrospect, later years were better.
I specifically remember talking to my mother when I was about 32 and remarking that this was the best period in my life. Strong, healthy, good career, wonderful young family. A definite candidate for the ideal age.
Forties weren't bad at all. Age wise it seemed like I should be starting to feel old, but health, vigor, energy, activity, mental acuity--all still very good. A notch below thirties to be sure, but offset by maturity, stability, wisdom, self confidence, financial means and security, and really interesting family activities with older children. In my case, I may have been more physically fit, due to ambitious cycling. I think forties were the best so far.
At age 50 I definitely felt like I should be feeling detrimental effects of aging. But I honestly felt like this could be the ideal time in my life, for many of the same reasons as listed above for the forties, but even more so. I was still very active physically and felt so happy and fulfilled, and excited about life. My mother warned me that after age 50, which is still a very good age, that I would definitely start experiencing a downhill trend.
Now I am 57, and my mother was right. The slow decline in mental acuity, eyesight, and physical abilities and ailments are becoming more pronounced. Though I remain very active playing tennis and riding my bike, I no longer run and my athletic skills are in decline. Still, 57 is not a bad age at all, due to further increases in all those positive attributes mentioned above.
Looking ahead, I anticipate late 50's and 60's will be more of the same trend, and these will be good years, too, with the added bonus of increased discretionary time and (hopefully) increased financial means.
I don't know, tough call. I think, in my case, I will vote for age 50. Does that surprise you? It is a good compromise of reasonable mental and physical abilities with all the bonuses of knowledge, wisdom, experience, self confidence, judgment, etc.
What do you think the optimum age is?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
When your family has home movies of when you were a child it can be difficult to separate real memories from what you have seen in the movies. I'm not sure which of my foggy memories would be the earliest but I can at least pinpoint the timeframe of one.
I was born in California but moved to Germany when I was about 6 months old as my father was stationed there in the Air Force. About a year later we moved to England, then when I was about 3 we moved back to the states. My parents tell me I was very concerned about leaving England because I was worried there wouldn't be Grape Nuts Flakes breakfast cereal in the USA.
My memory is of being in some public place, and running up and down a gradual ramp or incline. The consensus is that this was at a restaurant or airport during our trip back to the USA. It is a happy memory, and an activity that is characteristic of a small child.
What is your earliest memory, and is it a pleasant one?
By the way, the picture above is of Wendie and Barry, my two older siblings, and me, presumably around 3 or 4 years old.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Roxie did all the usual puppy things, like chewing up everything in sight, pooping on the floor, jumping all over visitors, and barking all night. But we all loved her. We would go to the pet store and buy her toys, food, and other things.
Roxie was an exceptionally stupid dog, if good natured and hyper. We wondered why we bothered buying her the premium dog food when she didn't mind eating her own feces in the back yard. When we had the choke chain around her neck she never seemed to figure out that obedience and restraint would avoid the choking sensation. We tried and tried to train her (sit, heel, stay), with very little success. We would try to play fetch with a ball, but she would play keep-away after bringing the ball back to you so you had trouble getting it back to throw again. Someone told me that's why you don't buy just any dog at a pet store.
I (mostly) enjoyed taking Roxie on runs with me (with a leash, of course--otherwise she would run wild). At the beginning she would run ahead of me, straining on the leash in all her enthusiasm, then tire at the end and I would be dragging her to keep up. One night I took a risk and let her run with me without a leash. She mostly stayed in the general area with me, but upon arriving back home she would not go into our fenced backyard where she normally stayed. I commanded and coaxed and bribed and tricked -- nothing worked. In exasperation I finally gave up and went to bed. Roxie must have had a wild night, because the next morning she had gathered up a number of random shoes from the neighborhood. How embarrassing. We placed them on the curb so the neighbors would find them. Roxie slept all the next day.
After three or four years we finally decided to find a new home for Roxie. Ironically, the very day the prospective new owners were going to check her out Roxie got loose in the front yard, and, in her trademark unruly fashion, would not come back when we called or coaxed. She ran out into the busy street near our home and was struck by a car. What a sad day that was, as we took her to the vet and, due to severe injuries, they put her to sleep. Daniel and I were by Roxie's side as she breathed her last, and I confess I shed a few tears, as much for Daniel as for her.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
During our kitchen remodel Suzanne was working hard painting and staining the cabinets. We brought in some Chinese food for dinner and worked on into the evening (or at least she did--I was downstairs on the computer). About 9PM I heard a soft voice call "Craig, can you come up here?". I sat bolt upright. There was something alarming about the voice. I came upstairs and Suzanne was lying on the floor in significant discomfort. Her face was ashen colored, she had pains in her chest and arms, was clammy, and I don't remember what else. Her mother died of a heart attack in her 60's and this had all the classical symptoms. I asked if I should call 911 and she said let's just drive to the emergency room.
I quickly helped her into the car and drove very fast the 5 miles to the hospital. I only had to run one red light. I pulled up to the emergency room curb, jumped out, announced to the staff I thought my wife was having a heart attack, and rushed back out with a wheelchair.
They took her right into a cell and hooked her up to machines and a doctor checked her out. Her skin still had no color and symptoms persisted. They gave her oxygen and ran the usual tests. Gradually her color returned and the symptoms subsided.
To make a long story short, she spent the night at the hospital as a precaution but her heart tested out just fine. One theory was that the Chinese food caused it (acid reflux), another that the paint fumes did. But for a few hours there we were quite alarmed, and we count our blessings more readily these days.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
A few years ago I was sitting in Sunday School class when a man near me was dozing off. I teased him after class saying he might have snored out loud and embarrassed himself. He laughed and said that was no problem, as he had a simple operation (uvulectomy) that took care of any snoring problem. I asked more about it and he said it was a simple procedure, just snip snip, and a sore throat for a couple of weeks.
Wow, I wanted to pursue this! As I've aged I've become more self-conscious about my snoring. I had some medical savings account money to use or lose so about Dec. 30 I went to the doctor and had it done. I told Suzanne it was her Christmas present.
For starters, the doctor gave me a prescription for pain killers, and I thought I was manly enough not to need that. I could handle a little sore throat for a week or so. I was wrong. That night or the next day I picked up the pills. It was so painful to eat for two weeks or more I lost a bunch of weight. I used this over the counter sore throat spray to temporarily deaden the pain so I could get some food down, or when the pain just got too bad. (I ate lots of brown rice during this period, so whenever I eat brown rice I associate it with this time period.)
About two weeks or so later I was sill in great discomfort and getting discouraged. I asked the same man about it and he said "yeah, the pain was awful for a few weeks, and now my snoring is coming back." What!!?? I wanted to strangle him.
Well, eventually it healed, and the snoring is improved, though not eliminated. One side effect is that food and drink can more easily slip down my throat and gag me if I'm not careful. Was it worth it? I don't know. Perhaps. I should let Suzanne answer that. The snoring never bothered me. :-)
Friday, November 20, 2009
You may recall that Lee Harvey Oswald (who most people believe shot JFK, though not the conspiracy theorists) was fatally shot himself by Jack Ruby while in police custody. Here is the famous photograph of that event.
I hope this isn't too disrespectful, but here is another perspective on that famous event. Enjoy.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I evolved to liking Wheat Chex cereal the best, and was really proud of myself once when finding the Safeway brand clone of Wheat Chex on sale for $1 per box (I think Wheat Chex was about $4). We stocked up and bought 20 boxes, as I recall, and thought that was a huge haul.
But they were consumed quickly enough, then earlier this year we stumbled upon Wheat Chex on sale for about $1.80 at Winco. Then we discovered that some boxes included a coupon for $3 off when buying 3 boxes. Needless to say, I made two or three trips to Winco and sorted through the boxes to make sure I bought ones with the coupon attached. The net result was over 50 boxes purchased at 80 cents each, and 20 or so extra coupons for future use.
I thought this supply would last a year. But when you eat a bowl and a half each morning it is surprising how quickly you go through a box. A month ago we were running out, and our coupons were about to expire. Each trip to Winco we would check the Chex for sales, but no luck. Finally, we just used most of our coupons and bought a bunch more at $3.42 (net $2.42).
Then last week we saw them on sale for $2.38 so I rounded up about 10 coupons we hadn't used and hoped Winco wouldn't mind if they were a couple of weeks beyond expiration. And they accepted them!
But here is the real bonus--I hadn't noticed that a few of the new boxes had a new $3 coupon that expires a year from now! So, another trip back to Winco to buy more boxes with more coupons. What fun!! So now we have a stash of a dozen coupons for the next sale after we use up this supply.
Okay, so am I pathetic or what?
I already told about my inspiration to climb mountains in a previous post. Perhaps the most ambitious climbing adventure was ten years ago when my oldest son, Blair, and I decided to climb Mt. Hood, the highest peak in Oregon. While a number of people have perished on Mt. Hood in climbing accidents over the years, I figured that thousands climb it each year, and if we did our research and preparations, and were careful, we would be okay (even without a guide or going with an experienced group).
We rented ice axes, crampons, and boots from REI and headed to Timberline at around 4500 ft. elevation to start our climb to 11,249 ft. just after midnight. It is recommended to climb at night so you can summit soon after dawn while the snow is still firm and debris won't fall on you. I found the hardest thing about the climb was mental--specifically climbing all night in the dark. Even though it was July and pleasant weather, there was a breeze blowing down the mountain off the snow and it was quite cold. We rested perhaps an hour about half way up and we felt rather discouraged and tired. But we kept going.
It got steeper and more precarious towards the top, but once we started seeing light in the eastern sky our spirits rose and we were doing fine. Just below the summit is the Hogsback, and the Bergschrund (a deep crevasse you have to hike around and jump over).
We used the ice axe to plant with each step so we always had stable footing on the very steep final section. Just don't look down, keep moving, and don't think about it too much (I'm very afraid of heights!). Then, the exhilaration of reaching the summit!
We could see all the prominent NW Cascade peaks up and down the range. We could see Portland to the west. Then there was the long slog back down the mountain, and the tiredness from no sleep and hard climbing settled in.
Ever since I have not looked at Mt. Hood the same. I see the majestic peak towering in the eastern horizon and contemplate standing there on the top.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
At college I was working on a major computer lab project (designing and constructing an electronic calculator from discrete digital parts). I was so engaged that sleeping and eating became a nuisance and I worked all day and all through the night on it. I don't recall that there was a particular deadline driving the behavior. I was just consumed by it.
At college (and since) I tend to perform better when the heat is on and I immerse myself totally in an assignment (working like a madman the day and night before something is due, rather than sanely over multiple days).
I can be mulling something over in my head and become largely oblivious to conversations or events around me. This can come across as rude when I seemingly ignore or am unresponsive to those around me.
When I planted our grass lawns at our new house in Idaho I was obsessed with them. That's all I wanted to talk about at the dinner table. Each day I would observe how the grass blades were growing, how to water it, what the weeds were doing, etc.
I love troubleshooting problems. This has been a great plus in my engineering career, as various product development efforts have had significant bug finding and fixing activity. When I'm hot on the trail of troubleshooting it is hard to break free and go home to dinner. This has yielded significant job satisfaction for me, as well as contributions (and rewards).
Last week I did a bunch of research and decided to upgrade our computers at home to Windows 7. Once again, it was heads down doing research, installation, and troubleshooting, and all other life activities became a nuisance.
I think a downside is that I don't multitask very well. When multiple things enter my brain I tend to latch onto one and drive it hard.
I'm sure I'm not unique with these qualities. I see them in my father, and I'm sure I have passed them onto my children to some degree. I suspect males are more apt to be this way than females (Suzanne reminds me often she can't afford this behavior when there are kids around to watch over).
Monday, November 16, 2009
We were having a family reunion of sorts at Yosemite, and each visit there we always planned some hiking excursion. I convinced my brothers, Glade and Kevin, to join me in a hike/climb of Half Dome. We knew it would be a long day, and we wanted to avoid the Saturday crowds, so we camped in Yosemite valley and were on the trail at dawn. Of course, in the fresh, cool morning with the excitement of adventure fueling our legs the early part of the climb was very enjoyable. To avoid the rubbery legs problems of a steep descent, we chose to climb the steep stairway of the Mist Trail, with plans to descend the regular trail down the waterfall area.
We were glad for our early start, as the cables were so crowded as we worked our way down.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Fasten your safety belts and enjoy!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
I read this book many years ago, but was motivated to read it again as Steven will likely be reading it for his English class.
One measure of a good book is when it leaves you thinking about it for days afterwards, which this one does. Of course, it doesn't help that there is no resolution at the end of the book--it kind of just ends when things are about at their worst. While Steinbeck does provide some glimpses as to what motivated the Californians in their cruel treatment of the Okies, the portrayal is largely one-sided, with the Okies on higher moral ground. Things are rarely so black and white in real life, and of course there were helpful and magnanimous locals, as well as scoundrels among the real Okies. These were very hard times and the nation hadn't figured out how to solve the many tough economic problems. (In fact, we still haven't.)
Growing up mostly in California I also took an interest in the historical setting. My mother grew up in California during this time and I want to ask her what things were like during the Depression, and whether she was aware of the "Okies" pouring into the state. I also wonder how things ultimately turned out for all these newcomers--did they settle permanently? Are their descendants a significant portion of the population, and doing much better financially? (I guess I'm looking for closure to the book.)
I'm currently reading a non-fiction book on a related topic--"The Worst Hard Time", by Timothy Egan. This is an account of the Dust Bowl area, and the difficulties faced in the 1930's by those who settled the southern High Plains of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, especially those who stuck it out (as opposed to those who fled to California, for instance). A very interesting read so far.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Another common theme I have is being in public wearing pajamas or underwear (or less). A recent variation of this for me is being on the stand at church (un)dressed in this way.
Some dreams are based on real physical symptoms, like a toothache or body aches. Or the most common for me is having a full bladder and being unable to find a functional toilet. Or finding one, but getting no relief (thank goodness!). I often find the toilet is stopped up, or the plumbing isn't functional, or it is in an open public place (related to the underwear dream above?).
I think everyone has the dream of trying to run away from something, but the legs are lethargic.
Does anyone else laugh out loud while dreaming? I think I used to do this more often.
Not many people seem to have my favorite dream, where I can fly like Superman. Actually, I float rather than fly, but it is such a wonderful sensation and I love it when I dream that.
My most nightmarish dream places me in the midst of atomic warfare. Planes are flying overhead, and atomic bombs are going off on the horizon. I wonder if this is due to my childhood emotional scars when we had atomic bomb drills at school, hiding under our desks. (What were they thinking!?)
So, who is with me on these dreams? What common ones have I left out?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Some of his sayings:
"Better than I deserve" (when asked how he is)
"Debt is dumb, cash is king."
"The paid off home mortgage replaces the BMW as the status symbol of choice."
"Rice and beans, beans and rice."
"Never see the inside of a restaurant unless you work there."
"Live like nobody else now so you can live like nobody else later."
"If it's not in writing it didn't happen."
"If a debt collector is opening his mouth he is lying."
I admit that listening to his show and hearing his advice to callers helps me with some of the financial counseling I do as bishop.
You can check him out at www.daveramsey.com.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I have "read" more books the past 18 months than any similar period in my life, I'm sure. I read over 30 last year, and 36 so far this year. The vast majority of these have been audio books, and the majority of those non-fiction.
On another post or two I'll have to give some book reviews and recommendations.
Monday, November 9, 2009
I used to watch Home Run Derby on TV. All the big baseball stars of the day appeared on the show and engaged in normal, if campy, conversation with the announcer. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks, etc. It was a different time, and you didn't see distasteful swagger from these players on that show.
While still a Dodger fan today, I would be hard pressed any given year to name two or three Dodger players. In fact, it is easy to become disillusioned with professional sports when we hear so much of greed, cheating, criminal activity, and just general selfishness and bad behavior. It is appalling to consider the bad role models too many professional athletes present.
I read a news item recently that remarked how awful Michael Jordan's acceptance speech was upon his induction into the basketball hall of fame. So I found it on youtube and watched all 26 minutes of a largely self-centered account of his career, with various digs at other people along the way. What a shame that the greatest basketball player of all time couldn't show more grace and gratitude in a big moment such as this.
Out of curiosity I watched the speeches of John Stockton and David Robinson, also inducted into the HOF. What a contrast! Each came across as grateful and humble, and talked about and to their wives and each of their several children. David Robinson played basketball for Navy, and was the top pro pick, I believe, yet remained true to his military obligation and served his active duty time before going pro. Right away you knew he was somebody special. At the conclusion of his speech he acknowledged the influence of Christ in his life, and pretty much bore his testimony of the Saviour. I admit it brought tears to my eyes. Here is a link to his seven minute speech.
Yes, there are good role models out there in pro sports.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Besides the adventure and potential satisfaction of working at a startup, there is the chance to make a lot of money on stock and options. This is (or was) the most common way for normal engineers to strike it rich, so to speak. For example, upon joining the company I was able to buy 10,000 shares of company stock at 25 cents per share. I accumulated more shares and options to purchase shares as time went on.
Of course, two things need to happen to make money on the stock. First, the company needs to do well so the market gives the stock a good valuation, and the company needs to go public so you have liquidity and can sell the shares.
Those first several years I looked forward so much to the company going public. It was an exciting prospect. But a definite downside -- and this is the theme of this post -- is that there is risk of looking so much to future prospects that you forget to enjoy today. I would think "four years from now we will be rich, and can do and buy so many things--then I will be truly happy."
In spring 1987 we went public, got a good valuation, and there was a big company party to celebrate. But I couldn't "cash in and become happy" yet because there was a six month wait before restricted shares like mine could be sold. I worried and fretted about the stock market, and was disappointed when the market crashed in October that year, and our stock price plummeted. The next several years the stock price would fluctuate up and down, depending on company results and market conditions. And it seemed my spirits fluctuated right alongside.
I was at Sequent for 16 years, then another two years with IBM upon their purchase of the company. Things didn't work out so well and most people got laid off, including me, in 2002.
Looking back on all this I can say we were very fortunate to have made a good deal of money on Sequent stock over the years. We were able to pay off our house and diversify investments. We have gone on some nice trips as a couple and a family. But, for the most part, it didn't really change our lives all that much. So, a lot of hype and anticipation that was overblown a bit.
We did find our pot of gold, though. We love living where we do in the Pacific Northwest. We had two more wonderful children and raised all five kids here. We live in the best ward, have great schools, and have cultivated interests and hobbies, and given service. Our wealth is measured not by our bank and stock statements, but by our wonderful living circumstances and precious memories.
I try to catch myself when, in big or small ways, I think I'll be happier after such and such at some time in the future. I try to remember to count my blessings and enjoy each day.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
In later years I have splurged selectively on some nice things, such as my BMW automobile. But I do get a kick out of parking my nice car outside the bread outlet store and paying pennies on the dollar for several loaves.
I inherited my frugality from my mother, and I'm sure she has always been so proud of this attribute of mine. Perhaps her proudest moment took place when I was visiting once and was dressed to go out and play some tennis. The topic of conversation was how expensive special purpose clothing can be, and she happened to turn to me and ask what I had spent on my clothes. I looked down and said the t-shirt was free (got it at Comdex), the shorts were hand-me-down running shorts from my son, the socks were from a cheap Costco 6-pack, and my tennis shoes were free in the sense that I wore out the previous pair within the 6 month warranty and got these for no charge. I think even she was stunned that I spent maybe $1.50 on this outfit, and then she beamed with satisfaction.
Friday, November 6, 2009
A couple of weeks ago I had Friday off work and around mid-morning I thought I'd swing by Home Depot and do some investigative work on attic insluation. For one thing, I wanted to know if this could be a DIY project, or one I should hire out, and what the cost might be. A helpful employee there explained the options and instilled confidence that I could do the job myself in 90 minutes. Whoa! He also showed me a website to apply for an energy credit that would cover most of my cost. Bonus!
I quickly rearranged my busy calendar for the day (which consisted of calling Suzanne and bagging our lunch date, and recruiting her as helper) and got right to it. The project juices were flowing, and there is nothing like the immediate satisfaction of finishing the same day.
Buying all the stuff, renting the blower, transporting all to my house, and doing prep work in the attic probably consumed three hours, so I was already double the estimated project duration and hadn't blown in an ounce of material yet. But once that started things went very smoothly. It was a strange sensation up in the attic with flashlights, goggles and mask, and insulation material blowing out 10 or 15 feet from the hose. As the material trickled down in the darkness I had the definite sensation of being outside during an evening snowfall. So it was rather soothing in that respect. Suzanne and Daniel kept at work down below stuffing each of the 15 insulation bags into the blower. After about two hours we finished, packed everything up, returned the rented blower, ate a late dinner, and took great satisfaction in completing the project ourselves, one that was still some indeterminate time in the future only that morning.
We spent $400 on materials, the rental was free (with insulation purchase), and the energy credit figures to be $325. This project may pay for itself in one winter. I like it!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
It was particularly sad, as a mother and two teenaged sons were the victims, and one son was an acquaintance of our son (took the same bus to school). We thought it odd that the police were reassuring saying there was no lingering danger in the neighborhood, seeing they didn't have a suspect identified or anything.
About three weeks later the police arrested a suspect and the news media reported the sordid details, including the motive. Turns out the victim's husband was having an affair with the suspect's wife, and the suspect struck back by killing the innocent mother and kids. They traced cell phone records to place the suspect near the crime scene at the time of the murders, and also a few hours later when the husband returned. (I don't know why he didn't just kill the husband instead of or in addition to.)
Detectives and forensic experts were at the home for many days after the murder. There was a large quantity of flowers and other memorabilia piled on the yard from all the classmates and friends mourning the victims. For many months the house fell into disrepair, with several back fence sections collapsing. Finally, someone fixed the fence and cleaned up some things, but I believe the house remains vacant still (house photo above). It is sobering to drive by the house nearly every day and be reminded of the tragedy.
Here is a link with some of the official information on the case. The trial hasn't been scheduled yet, to my knowledge. Perhaps someday an accomplished crime author will write a book about the case.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I have been a bicycling enthusiast for many years, going back to when I was a child. I got really serious about 20 years ago, doing centuries and week long tours. I was in the best shape of my life. For a number of years there I also ran for conditioning, but a few years ago I grew weary of all the aches, pains, and nagging injuries that running seemed to provoke. So I decided to step up my cycling again (to replace running), and included a regimen of commuting to work.
After joining Intel almost five years ago my commute distance increased to eight miles each way. Though long, the route was very conducive to cycling (I love
Well, with the loss of DST, this week is the start of my night riding season. I put fresh batteries in my lights, dusted off my reflective vest, bought some reflective decals at the bike shop, and cleaned my clear lensed eyewear. I often feel I am more visible to cars with my flashing lights than I am in daylight. Yesterday was such an enjoyable night ride home. No wind, pleasant low 50’s temperature. There is something magical about riding at night. For one thing you feel like you are going so fast! (I noticed the same sensation running at night vs. day.)
I included a picture of my commute bike with lights on and fenders.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
By the way, I spent maybe 30 milliseconds deciding on a title for my blog, and it isn't "A. Craig Walker's Blog". It is "A Craig Walker's Blog", a significant difference. In other words, it isn't "The Craig Walker's Blog" just "A Craig Walker's Blog".
Today was stake conference for the Cedar Mill Oregon Stake. Our ward was assigned the 10AM session at the stake center. The high point of the conference for me was sitting together with my youngest son. I won't dwell on the reason for us sitting together at the back, namely that he was slow getting up and dealing with a sore toe so I remained behind to go with him (Suzanne and "on time" Daniel left without us). We arrived quite late. In fact, so late the parking lot was full so we parked up the street at Five Oaks School. It was a nice, sunny day, so other than being late it was a pleasant little walk. Anyway, I didn't let any of that bother me, but enjoyed the conference and counted my blessings as I contemplated the fundamental goodness of each of my children, and was pleased to be sitting with Steven (http://steven-walker.blogspot.com).