Saturday, December 4, 2010

40 Years

I graduated with the Ramona High School class of 1970 in Riverside, CA. I recall there being about 900 in my class, so it was large and there were many I didn't know. And I really haven't kept up with anyone from my school.

Still, I was surprised to never hear about any class reunions along the way. I think I heard the excuse that they didn't know where I lived, which is strange considering my folks still live at the same address where I lived in high school. But with all the modern internet technology I was finally tracked down and started getting invites to class activities about a year ago, including the big 40th reunion this year.

Even though I'm not much into social events, and hadn't kept up with anyone, I was tempted to fly down and attend. However, it was scheduled right after our two week trip to Europe and Dubai, and I just didn't feel I could get away. I did order a class CD that will have info and pictures from the class and the reunion.

A senior picture was distributed with an index of names for people to identify the surprising few who were unnamed. I contributed one name for someone I played tennis and basketball with. It was fun browsing the picture and seeing friends from long ago. Can you find me?

I confess I was a bit dismayed to see photos from the reunion. Everyone is so old! I guess I'm old, too. Very few of my friends from high school actually attended the reunion, so I don't feel so bad having missed it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Intel Webcam

There should be a webcam looking west outside the 3rd floor window at Intel where I work. I often head up the stairwell to go to my lab and see these gorgeous views. I watch the colors change on all the tree varieties, and can see the snow level on the Coast Range mountains. In the spring I see the trees come alive and all the blossoms, and in the fall I watch the numerous vibrant colors unfold.

Here is a shot from early April. It had been cold and there was a new deposit of snow in the Coast Range.

Here is October 27:

This is November 2:

Here is November 15:

November 16:

November 21:

And November 30 (last year):

I should capture the spring progression in a few months. I consider it a treat to have such a diversion during my work day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Living in the Country

When we selected our new home in Beaverton in 1984 we were on the edge of housing developments. We could look to the west and the north and see empty fields and farms.

Here is our new home with empty lots around us.

The major north-south street adjacent to our neighborhood was a lonely country road that ended in a T-intersection.

A few years later a housing development went up to the west, another to the north (with a golf course), and the lonely country road was extended and renamed from 158th St. to Bethany Blvd.

In spite of all the development, we are still on the edge of the country, with rural roads and farmlands beginning just a mile away. I routinely hop on my bike and head out from my house for pleasant rides on the rural roads. Here is a random picture from a day I got caught in a February snowstorm on a Saturday ride.

We pick corn, strawberries, and peaches within 8 miles of our house (not counting our garden).

We drive about four miles to a tree farm to cut our Christmas tree. Here we are with our hot chocolate on a hay ride to the tree cutting area.

I would say we have the best of both worlds in the neighborhood where we live. The conveniences of the city and positives of the country close at hand.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Resurrection and the Life

Some of you followed the blog for Megan Smith's fight against leukaemia after she gave birth to her daughter:

There were so many ups and downs, and so many giving support and prayers. And we were all so griefstricken when she ultimately lost the battle.

Ryan grew up in our ward, and his family still lives here. The daughter, Rylee, came back with Ryan's parents at one point. Rylee is truly a miracle child, born under tragic circumstances.

I was asked to conduct the graveside service here in Oregon last week. It was a gray and wet day, and so sobering to see the white casket with Megan's remains poised to go into the ground. I gave the concluding remarks at the service, which I am including here.

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 15:19: For if in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable.
We have cause to be miserable. We are griefstricken by the loss of such a vibrant and good person as Megan. Anyone who knew her was immediately impressed with her energy, her charisma, her goodness.
We suffered and prayed along with her and her family during her struggle against cancer, and mourn at the tragic loss.
But because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because of our hope in Christ, we can rejoice. Christ won a victory over death. He gave his life on the cross at Calvary and rose from the grave on the third day.
Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 15:20: But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

We can take comfort in knowing that, while we lay her tabernacle of clay into this mortal grave, her spirit, free from physical pain and suffering, has returned to her Father in Heaven who gave her life and begat her spiritually, for indeed we are all begotten sons and daughters of God. I can imagine she had and continues to have a joyful reunion in paradise with loved ones who have gone before her and welcomed her home.
And we are confident that Megan’s spirit will be reunited with a perfect and immortal body to come forth in the first Resurrection, and that we will one day be reunited with her.
Christ said in John 11:25: I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live
That is my testimony, and that is the good news of the Gospel.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

1960-61 and ACW

I wrote previously about my father being stationed remotely in the Air Force 1959-1960.

Here is a photo of him in Labrador:

In addition to baseball, Barry and I had interest in football, and we got L.A. Rams helmets for Christmas. In fall 1960 we moved to Gulfport, Mississippi, and here is a picture of Barry and me playing football in our yard (or field next to our house). I love this picture. Such nostalgia.

About this time my favorite football team was the Baltimore Colts, with Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, and Lenny Moore. Still have some football cards.

I was bugged with the hassle of having to tell people I didn't go by my first name, Alan, but by my middle name, Craig. So when we moved to a new place (Gulfport) for third grade I just told the teacher and fellow students that my name was Alan, and that's what I went by when not at home. It was an interesting experiment, though when we moved again I went back to Craig.

I always thought it was a lame excuse by my parents to name me so my initials would be ACW (and putting my preferred name in the middle), the same as the Air Force squadron where my dad was stationed. Sigh. There are some advantages of going by my middle name to offset the aggravation of filling out forms with space for first name and middle initial. When someone calls on the phone for Alan, I have a pretty good idea they are a stranger. And being "A. Craig Walker" does sound a little distinguished. There is a famous radio and TV personality in Portland with the same name, so often people ask if I'm "the" Craig Walker, and I can just smile and reply that no, I'm just "a" Craig Walker.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday, and the Temple

I have a variety of memories associated with Black Friday, some of them shopping related, and some other activities. With the convenience and low cost of shopping online it is rare that I get out and try to chase bargains early Friday. I have unpleasant memories of fighting huge crowds at Best Buy trying to find sale items, which were usually sold out by the time I got there.

Still, there have been fun and profitable times. For a number of years we would use the 50% off coupons for Michael's to purchase picture frames for my Portland Temple picture. Suzanne and I would have to hurry to the store as the coupon expired by 8AM some years. They would stamp your hand upon entry to validate your entry time.

I took the photograph in late 1989 of a brand new Portland Temple and liked it so much that I started giving it as a gift. I entered it at the Washington County Fair one year in the photography section and won a first prize. I pretty much wore out the negative making many dozens of 8x12 prints. It was especially convenient and effective for wedding gifts for those married in the Portland Temple. One year I bought a mat cutting system on sale and with an additional coupon discount at Michael's.

I would buy large sheets of mat and we would get an assembly line going to make several at a time. A few months ago I did a big push and finished building up frames and mats for all my remaining prints, so I only have a dozen or so left poised for gifts.

The finished product:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Have a Dream (Part II)

Last year I composed a post about common dream themes.

There are a few more I could add.

One is that we are shopping for and/or moving to a new house. As dreams go, there are always weird complications involved, either with the selection/purchase of the house, or the poor construction/layout of the new house, or the inability to find things after moving in. My past experiences also blend in one way or another. Even though in real life I can't fathom ever moving again, this doesn't seem an obstacle in the dreams.

Another is that I am called to serve another term in my mission in Germany. This used to be a lot more common in the past.

I sometimes dream that I'm in a passenger jet that is on the verge of crashing. We lose altitude and struggle to find a place we can land safely. Oddly (and fortunately) the crashes have never been bad nor caused injury. Flying from Dubai to Frankfurt last month on a red-eye I was dozing off and having one of those dreams.

After moving from my first job at Naval Weapons Center in California to HP in Boise, I often had dreams of going back, or of them contacting me to help solve work problems. They were strong dreams. I had similar ones after moving to Oregon, but not as much.

One dream theme I'm thankful I don't have is one that a SWAT team member shared with the YM at their activity last night. He related an account of how his team was called to a hostage situation and they ended up shooting and killing the suspect (he came out of the house firing his gun at them). After this experience he has had nightmares of someone burglarizing his home, or shooting at him, and it is the guy they shot. He wakes up like in the movies, bolt upright in a cold sweat.

Why are dreams so weird, though? A strange mix of reality and bizarreness.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To Rent or Buy

In spring of 2000 we were preparing for Blair's wedding and looking at renting tuxedos. For the cost of the rental we wondered if it would be worthwhile to just buy one. Suzanne found a tuxedo coat and shirt marked way down at Nordstrom Rack near our home. I went to the downtown Nordstrom Rack and found some pants marked down. We also got a cumberbun and bowtie, with studs and matching cufflinks at the Rack. So the full deal. I no longer remember the total cost, but it was amazingly inexpensive, under $200 I think. We lucked out because I think much of it was leftover from the big Jan. 1, 2000 celebration stock and being closed out. In fact, my studs and links say 2000 on them (but subtlely). We figured the tux would pay for itself vs. renting with two or three weddings, which, with five kids, was a good bet.

Here I am wearing it at wedding number three in 2005:

Also in 2005 (I like this photo with my mom):

With the beautiful bride:

And with my beautiful bride:

Since I already own the tux, I have worn it on several other occasions. Two or three times I have worn it at Halloween, instead of a costume (and just for fun). I wore it at grad night where I was a volunteer card game dealer. And just last week the Young Women in our ward had a special event where everyone dressed up, so we as a bishopric wore tuxedos (I and my 2nd counselor owned ours, and my 1st counselor was able to borrow one). We must have looked sharp because we got a lot of compliments.

To make the tux useful for several years it means I can't grow out of the size. It has gotten a bit tighter, but I'm happy to say all that cycling and tennis must be keeping me in shape as it still fits. And each time I wear it I feel such satisfaction.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Such a Ham

I have memories from before age 7 of lying in my bedroom in the basement of our house in Havre, MT, and hearing my dad talk on his amateur radio. He had many post cards hung up on the wall with the call signs from fellow ham radio operators he had contacted from all over the world. I think his call sign at the time was W7ZOV.

This was before computers and many other technical marvels, so short wave radio was pretty exotic stuff to a growing boy. At some point along the way I was motivated to learn morse code, and got very serious about it when I was in junior high. I listened to practice code tapes and got to where I could copy code at 15 words per minute, plus or minus.

After I graduated from college with an electrical engineering degree my dad suggested I apply for an amateur radio license. With my schooling in electronics and my morse code background, it shouldn't take much study and practice to pass the exam. I started out with a novice license, and got the call sign WD6CCR. My dad gave me his old Heathkit radio and we were able to communicate with each other--I in Ridgecrest, CA, and he in Riverside. His call sign then (and now) was W6WUG.

I obtained more code tapes and practiced. I needed 13 words per minute to pass the general class or advanced class license exams, and 20 words per minute for extra class.

I studied from the license manual to bone up on radio and electronic theory.

In addition to added privileges and frequencies, each upgrade in license class provided a more exclusive call sign, with a 2X3 for general class or lower (e.g. WD6CCR), a 1X3 or 2X2 for advanced class (W6WUG or KD7JS), and a prestigious 1X2 for extra class (N6ID). I studied the book's theory sections for general and advanced class pretty hard.

In the exam room the first test was morse code at 20 words per minute. The code came flying at me and I doubt I copied more than two thirds of the characters. But for the multiple choice questions I was able to piece enough together to pass the exam at 20 wpm!

Next up was the general class theory. I passed that one without difficulty. I went into the hallway and briefly reviewed the section on advanced class, and then passed that exam as well. I had already exceeded my expectations at this point and was very pleased. But since I had 20 wpm code I was eligible to try for the extra class test. I again went into the hallway and frantically studied the extra class section. I had nothing to lose by taking the exam. After they graded it I learned I missed it by one question. Oh, so close! If only I had studied more beforehand.

I moved to Meridian, ID, and got my new 2X2 call sign of KD7JS. I strung up a simple antenna on my roof and scheduled weekly radio chats with my dad. Most days we got through okay. I would get my kids on with me to say hi to grandpa. It seemed pretty exotic and was cheaper than calling long distance on the phone.

After moving to Beaverton, OR, I put up an antenna in my attic and bought a better used radio.

I continued talks with my dad, though sometimes conditions were so poor we would go weeks without success. Then new communications technology caught up with and passed ham radios. With computers and cell phones it became much more convenient and reliable to communicate with these vs. the ham radio, and now my rig just gathers dust in the corner of my desk. Email, Facebook, blogs, and texting are the norm today.
However, I did get a 2M radio from my dad so I could communicate on the LDS Church emergency radio network. A few months ago we had an emergency drill and it worked out fine. So I guess my ham license still has value and purpose in this computer age.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hotel Alibaba

In 2002 when we visited Slovakia we reserved hotel rooms in the only hotel in Humenne, Hotel Chemes. It was a bit worn, an old Communist feel to it, but the price was right.

When we visited Europe last month we used the wealth of internet resources to find hotels and B&B's to stay in (especially But for Humenne information was very scarce. There is a new Best Western in town, but it was booked, and also expensive (by Slovak standards). We couldn't find the Hotel Chemes, but there was a Hotel Alibaba. Through further research we determined it was at the same location as the Hotel Chemes, so must have been renamed. There were no customer reviews to rely on, so we took another chance and reserved a room

This time we were pleasantly surprised. Though the exterior, lobby, and elevator were pretty tired, the top floor of rooms where we stayed was newly renovated. And we had great views of Humenne out our windows.

Can't quite see it in this photo--maybe just a bit bottom left--but the final step down to the pavement is quite high, so you have to pay attention when stepping down.

A wonderful and spacious room!

Here is a side view showing the debris dropped down from ongoing renovation.

We must have taken this picture the first day, because subsequent photos show an entire floor gutted and the exterior windows gone (4th floor down from the top).

I hope they keep renovating so our next stay will be even nicer. I asked them the history of the hotel, and they said it was previously Hotel Chemes and was originally used as a dormitory for workers building a nearby factory.

The lady at the hotel reception was so helpful and spoke enough English to translate for Suzanne's relatives who showed up soon after our arrival. We wrote up a nice review of the hotel on an internet travel site so future researchers would have some info.

In a previous post I mentioned how we were concerned about car theft in Eastern Europe on our recent trip to Slovakia. This is what I asked Hotel Alibaba via email:

"Is there secure parking nearby? Has there been car theft in Humenne?"

Here is the email reply I received:

"Parking is next-door hotel.Car us not just yet shake."

Huh? We got a good laugh out of that and tried to surmise what Slovak/English dictionary words might have been used to arrive at the result. Thankfully, our car survived two nights just fine outside the hotel.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


This time of year reminds me of Comdex. Comdex was a huge computer trade show in Las Vegas that I attended almost every year from 1986 to 2002. I experienced its growth from a large show, to bursting at its seams consuming all hotel rooms in the city and spilling outside the main convention center, to shrinking back down in size. I usually spent two or three days walking the convention floor to learn about new products and meeting with suppliers. It was pretty exhausting.

But after hours I found enough energy to spend time with family members who would come up from Riverside. We would tour the sites around Las Vegas and watch the shows, some free and some with admission charges. The last year we watched the Blue Men Group, for instance. Usually my mother treated us all to the shows.

One year in particular we had so much fun driving from one casino to the next to take advantage of free gambling money. We were all such cheapskates but enjoyed the thrill of the hunt. Often we would crowd several of us into my hotel room to sleep, spilling out onto the floor. I can't recall if it was Kevin or I who clogged the toilet one year and inconvenienced everyone. We would eat inexpensive meals at the hotel buffets.

When I got home we would have a family gathering for everyone to choose gifts from all the free stuff I would get at Comdex. T-shirts, hats, pens, candy, travel bags, alarm clocks, balls, pads of paper, key chains, etc. Suzanne and each kid would take turns choosing one item, first through last, then last through first. It was pretty exciting for everyone.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Doghouse

Just in time for holiday shopping to warn all you guys. Enjoy:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bicycle Tours

I have enjoyed riding bicycles since I was a kid. I recall commuting to Jr. High School on a bike, and loved my mission area when we were on bikes. I took a cycling class at BYU with Suzanne and learned a lot, and also commuted at college on my bike.

Later in life I really got hooked on road cycling. I started commuting to work regularly and went on lunchtime rides, as well as many Saturday club rides. We would routinely do 50 to 100 mile rides. In the summer of 1990 I graduated to a week long summer tour with a group of about 20 cyclists. We had a van haul our gear and we stayed in motels each night, riding 70 to over 100 miles each day. Our tour in 1990 started in Walla Walla, WA, went over to Lewiston, down to Enterprise, Halfway, Baker, Ukiah, Pendleton, and Walla Walla. This photo is near Enterprise:

1991 was an ambitious tour beginning in Roseburg, OR, over to the coast, down to Eureka, back inland to Weaverville, up to Yreka, Ashland, Klamath Falls, Crater Lake, and Roseburg. I can't locate any pictures from that tour.

I didn't do a 1992 summer tour, as Steven was a newborn. In 1993 I joined the group for half of their scheduled tour, beginning in Wisdom MT (staying at the famous Sandman Motel), over to Yellowstone, and down to Jackson Hole. Here is the Sandman and a traumatized Teresa:

In summer 1994 we started in La Grande, OR, over to Halfway, to McCall, ID, Emmett, Vale, OR, Burns, John Day, Ukiah, and La Grande. The road to Ukiah:

1995 was the most ambitious tour. We rode in the Rockies in Colorado, starting in Gunnison, down to Ouray, Durango, Pagosa Springs, Creede, Gunnison, Buena Vista, Aspen, and Gunnison. Here is a view near the headwaters of the Rio Grande in the San Juan Mountains:

On the way to Aspen:

We climbed several passes over 10,000 feet, and the air was pretty thin. Here was the high point prior to the descent into Aspen:

In summer 1996 I did something a bit different with the Oregon Bike Ride tour from La Grande to Ukiah, Monument, Fossil, Maupin, Mt. Hood, Newberg, and Pacific City. This tour included tent camping, but a truck hauled our gear. Here I am fixing a flat in the Coast Range on the last day:

This was from a one day ride up to Mt. St. Helens.

When I travel in the metro area, or the state, or even throughout the West, I often remember places because I rode my bike there.