Monthly Archives: March 2012

We have something worth caring for…


Reid called Sunday morning after he crossed the finish line of an 8K run in Chicago.  For the record, I cannot recall a call from him on a weekend day before noon.  The kid was pumped.

His 8 minute per mile pace ain’t half bad.  Jeez, I didn’t even know the kid was running.  Then again, 26-year-olds can climb out of bed and hit the bricks for 5 miles without even thinking about it let alone train for the distance.  I’ll laud him in today’s letter which will be posted next week.

I say all this because it’s good that he and his sister are far from couch potatoes.  They get out and do things (i.e. Reid to India/backpacking; it’s a piece of cake for Ellento assume the ‘Down Dog’ position and whatever other tortuous yoga contortions are called).

I am now the avowed foe of morons who would choose to defile the path of my daily walk.

On the other hand, their dad hauls his carcass off the couch for a daily constitutional of 2.5 miles around the block.  As of late, however, it has made me increasingly disheartened to see the communal path shared by Felicia and me and others treated as the personal dumping ground of who knows how many slobs.  So, because I have two hands and prefer my walk to be a little tidier,  I’m bending and stooping to pick up (and recycle) trash along the way.   Plastic in any form draws particular ire.  I allude to it below; it will probably make the kids think I’m loonier than birther zealots.  Okay, maybe not.

The larger point for Ellen and Reid is that we have something worth caring for.  That Diet Coke bottles, Bud Lite cans, 5 Hour Energy and Gatorade G2 bottles and Burger King or McDonald’s wrappers – plus other vile pieces of unimaginable trash – can be discarded without a second thought makes some dolt’s problem my problem.  I’m willing to stoop and bend to keep my little patch of turf clean.

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March 19, 2012

Ellen/Reid: Ellen, you look marv in your Facebook photos.  You really do.  It is just amazing how you’ve managed to care for yourself and your baby.  The clock is ticking, too; it won’t be that much longer now.  Not that you have to share potential names with me, but you have some in the hopper, don’t you?  At least it’s not like you’re gonna have twins where you could have a rhyming scheme like Dora and Flora, or something like that.  One at a time sounds about right.

One of my best friends at the bank appears to have run out of all his options to find something inside, even at a lower level.  All the talk and go-get-‘em assurances about “Oh, you’ll find something” have fallen through.  It just drives me crazy but him more so.  He’s nearing panic-mode.  I don’t know what a guy of his standing and age in life will do.  There really aren’t any parallels to my situation because things were wholly different, but all I can do for Mike is hope that something pops at the last minute.  Internal alliances and allegiances aren’t what they used to be.  No one has his back, and that is distressing to me.  His reviews are good; he just got caught in the cuts.  That’s about all there is to it.  That’s the way business is these days for better or worse, and from my view it’s decidedly worse.

Felicia had a bit of a scare yesterday.  Because I head to church an hour early to interview folks and do profiles on people for the church newsletter, she typically hangs back at the house and has more coffee, finishes the paper then heads over for a just-on-time arrival.  But she never showed and I assumed she was beat from working long hours on Saturday and wanted a day off.  But when I got to my car, there were texts from her that she was having heart flutters or it was skipping a beat.  A policeman saw her in distress on the side of the road, and he called 911.  She was taken to the ER by ambulance.  So I raced over there right away, and they had her on a gurney out in the hallway since no rooms were open.  We were there about 3 hours as they tested and x-rayed her.  She has what’s called PVCs, which essentially is an untreatable fluttering of the heart.  I’m not sure what will be done about it right now, but it doesn’t appear to be life-threatening.  It was a scary episode for sure.  She feels better now but I’ll know more when she comes over for our evening walk.

I’m trying to herd the cats for the Bridger Wilderness.  I think – think – we’ll end up with about 5 or 6.  Obviously Ellen, you guys are out for the foreseeable future, but Reid, if you haven’t used up all your time, you and Liz are welcome to come out West.  That would be a gas.  July 23-27.  Its country you know pretty well.

My weight continues to drop.  It’s down about 10 lbs. from a month or so ago.  I’ve adhered to the tenets of the diet for the most part but I fudge by having cereal in the morning.  I feel pretty good and my belts are cinching a little tighter these days.  Some carbs in the morning, no carbs the rest of the day.  We’ll see if it is sustainable.  Vegas wouldn’t touch those odds.

I have an idea for a new blog which will, I am certain, assure the two of you that your old man is battier than ever.  I’m socking away content for the next month or thereabouts so when it does go viral, it will hit the ground with some pages.  The only thing I can tell you is it will be environmentally related but there will be no shortage of goofiness.  If you want to turn your heads and deny me, I’ll understand.  But it keeps the creative juices flowing and that’s not all bad.

Okay, by for now.  I’ve got some leftover flank steak that we’ll use to make salads of for dinner.  My diet has included a lot of lettuce, and if any more is consumed, there is a good chance I’ll turn into a bunny rabbit.  You knew my high school mascot was a bunny, didn’t you?

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Back to the Bridger…


Buried in last week’s letter (see below) to Ellen and Reid is a hurried mention of the Bridger Wilderness.  (That’s me, above, doing my pack mule imitation.  But I love that country and will go as long as I am able.  As age advances, my window slowly closes.  I have to go now while I can.)

We will go back to Wyoming in July of this year; the full week of the 23rd through 27th to be exact.  In fact, we will really be out there by Friday, July 20 to acclimate a day or so and then head into the back country on Sunday the 22nd.  It will be more arduous than ’11 but not by a whole hell of a lot.  Four to five hours a day on the trail, max.  The ultimate goal is to be in country but the fishing is a primary draw for me.

There is worry in some quarters about another infestation of mosquitoes.  The winged vampires extracted a fair dose of blood last year but that’s when the water was high and the conditions ripe for a ‘skeeter explosion.  I’ve tried to prevail on Felicia and Bob that the blood suckers cannot possibly be as bad as last year, but apparently by their standards, any amount of mosquitoes won’t do.  To them, the only good mosquito is a dead mosquito.

Ellen and Tim will be no-shows this year, and Reid has pretty much tapped out his vacation time on his journey to India.  That doesn’t mean others (i.e. you) aren’t welcome.  The door is open.  But just be sure to shut it so the mosquitoes don’t get in.  The more trekkers, the merrier.

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March 12, 2012

Ellen/Reid: The remainder of my spring planting took all of 5 minutes this morning.  Jammed a few spinach seeds into a large pot and watered the lot.  That’s the extent of getting my hands dirty.  I miss a little plot of dirt to poke around in.  Takes me back to the old days of black Iowa soil, raspberries and sugar snap peas.  Those were the days.  If there was a 6’ x 6’ chunk of good earth out back right here, right now, that would be nirvana.  But since there is no ‘out back’ other than the driveway and blacktop, that will remain a dream.  Still, it’s good to have something to water in the morning and fertilize on the weekends.  Fun to watch stuff grow.

We broke the bike out for a couple of rides this weekend.  Good to fire that mother up.  I just like to get out.  I suppose now that the weather should be – should be – consistently nice, the Harley will be a normal mode of transportation for us.  It passed its 45,000 check up with flying colors.  That, and a $500 check to the dealer, will do that for a bike.  It would be fun to ride to Illinois and Minnesota sometime.  That too, is a dream.

On the medical front, I had what is called a Calcium Scoring Test a few weeks ago.  It’s where they pass you through a CT scanner as they try to ascertain if there is any coronary plaque build-up in and around the heart.  It’s a byproduct of high cholesterol.  The test is over and done within a matter of minutes and you are on your way.  The results are in.  It’s all good.  The doc called me to say the results showed zero accumulation, which he cannot explain other than good genes.  I have relayed this on to your uncle in the event he wants to discuss it with his physician.  I guess as you age you worry more about that stuff.  But that was a good bit of news heading into the weekend.

Ellen, I think I will self-moderate a bit on the Atkins diet.  I miss a bowl of morning raisin bran topped with a banana, so I will revert to that then go carb-less the rest of the day.  I think Felicia isn’t as attuned to that approach as I am, but if I omit the bread and the spuds, that’s where most of my carb problem lies.  Hopefully the weight will continue to stay steady now that it’s kind of, sort of where it should be.  Just saying ‘no’ to ice cream has helped more than a little bit.

My trip to Scotland to play golf at St. Andrews is likely to unravel.  Steve has some new business coming in the door right about that time, and he’ll probably take a pass.  Our other candidates have deferred, too.  So now it’s on to the Bridger Wilderness July 23-27.  It will be Tom, Troy, maybe Felicia if we can assure her there are few to no mosquitoes, and maybe a couple of others from church.  I’m actually pretty excited about going back out there.  John and his crew can’t go as Ellison and Sophie go back to school right about then, plus they probably had their fill of trudging and huffing and puffing last summer.  Still, we’ll have a good time doing the loop, which is pretty much what Tim and Tom accomplished in about a half day last year.  I can’t wait to fish again.  Which reminds me, time to hit the gym if I hope to be in reasonable condition.

Reid, be sure to send me some shots from Bangalore, and point me in the right direction online to see what you have posted.  I’d love to rustle a few and plunk them on my blog page.  Speaking of which, I have a known blog expert coming to my class this week to answer student technical questions which are over my head.  I can get the folks writing, but a huge chunk of it is the technological frontier.

Perhaps the one dream that will come true is getting an iPhone.  I pledge to have something new in relatively short order so I can see pix of my new granddaughter and the pilgrimage to India.  I know I’m a late adopter – by a couple of years – but that’s just the way it goes.

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Two weeks of experiential sightseeing…


After a few weeks of Ellen-only letters, Reid has been added again to the salutation line.  Welcome back, kid.

As was noted here previously, he jetted off to India (the Bangalore area, mostly) for two weeks of experiential sightseeing, aka just plain enlightenment.  He relayed much in a 45 minute phone call but has been slack on sharing images (I wanted to post some of shots here) although the blame could just as well lie with me as Reid simply doesn’t email photos to tech-dunces like me.  Instead he posts pictures and I’m supposed to find them.  Do they make an app for that?

But I’m glad the boy is back on home turf.  Always good to know they got there and back.

Here is last week’s letter to my dynamic duo.

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March 5, 2012

Ellen/Reid: We’re all glad you got back safe and sound, Reid, and the trip sounds beyond incredible.  Can’t wait to see the photos, and it’s cool you took the vintage Nikkormat with you for the trip.  Good for you to have the nerve to go.  A lot of us, me included, wouldn’t have the nards to make such a journey, especially going solo the second half.  I’m glad Liz was there for the first week.  Glad, too, that you could hook up several times with your friend in Bangalore.  Nice to have a local host who could show you around.  Your reflection last night about the pollution, the people and your overall impressions was nice to hear.  It can do nothing but broaden you wider horizons to have gone over there at all.  I’m serious about something to Vietnam or Thailand.  That would be a real gas.  I’m open to any and all suggestions.

Man, Ellen, you’re entering the home stretch.  Sorry about the insensitive nature of the weight question.  Felicia sided with you and kind of harped on me about it, too.   It’s just that you look so good in your photos.  You’ve taken good care of yourself and your baby.  Leave it to a dad to trip over himself.  I’m sorry.  Let’s hope the rocking chair arrives ahead of time so you can take it for a test rock.

The weather is really looking chipper around here.  The trees are beginning to leaf out and the daffodils and tulips are long gone.  The winter here, as was yours, was unseasonable in its warmth.  We’ve had a few raw days lately, but nothing that can’t be overcome.  We’ve only got another week of the so-called bad weather forecast on February 2 by that loathsome rodent in Pennsylvania.  I was a little behind the 8-ball on planting so on the 28th I stuck some romaine and other lettuces in the pot on the front porch.  The seeds have already sprouted.  If we have a nice growing season we will be eating lettuce for weeks.  Given the new Atkins diet (no carbs) that Felicia has foisted on me, that will be a harvest worth having.  I erred in not planting spinach so that will go into the ground this week.  I’m down about seven pounds as of this writing and seem to have gotten over the ice cream and bread urgings.  My only concession is an apple a day.  A man has to eat some fruit.

Also noted this morning is that nutcase Rush Limbaugh has lost some advertisers.  The guy is a total moron.  And now his defenders simply call him an “entertainer.”  I’ll stick up for his constitutional right to speak his mind all day long, but that doesn’t make him right.  Here’s a guy who was hooked on Oxycontin, plays fast and loose with the facts, and has the unmitigated gall to call someone else out.  All he has is a nice voice.  That’s it.  He’s taking the Republicans with him, which isn’t all bad.  Illogical for a man to talk about women’s reproductive rights.

I played what could be one of my final rounds of golf yesterday with my friend Tom.  He’s about to leave Charlotte for a big association job in Washington, D.C.  It’s hard for him to leave Charlotte but he’ll like D.C. soon enough.  My golf was miserable, and the progress in keeping my swing short and compact has all but evaporated.  The Charles Barkley stop-start-and-lunge swing is back with a vengeance worse than before.  Makes me sick.  I need a sports shrink.  But the weather will be nice enough for riding soon enough, so Felicia and I will get back to cruising so that will take up some of the non-golf slack.

Otherwise, not much else is going on.  Same old, same old.  Work is what it is.  But as May 1 draws nearer, I’ll get plenty more excited.  Love you both.

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The prodigal son returns…


Reid has returned, no worse for the wear, from his sojourn to India.  We talked at length last night on a dad-initiated call.  The kids sounds great.  He spent the last half of his trip by his lonesome.  That takes some nerve to pack up and head to the other side of the world when you don’t know but a single soul.  But Reid has a daring side that I admire and encourage (within limits, of course).

If nothing else, his trip affirms he can make his own decisions, spend his own money and be his own man.

Nevertheless, last week’s letter went solo to Ellen.  It was like the old days when she was at Butler U. before her ‘bro arrived.  But Reid’s name is plastered on the salutation line of this week’s letter – which is already in the mail.

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Here’s what I wrote to Ellen last week:

February 27, 2012

Ellen: Betsy and I just got done pinging back and forth about your expected due date.  I told her late April or early May.  That sounds about right, doesn’t it?  She’s always so good to ask how you guys are doing.  She asked about the pecking order of visitation once the little girl arrives.  Your photo is good.  You’ve taken very good card of yourself physically and dietary-wise and you’ve hardly gained any weight.  That is a good thing.  Your mom didn’t gain all that much weight with you or Reid, either.

Speaking of Reid, as you say, typical Reid.  He takes the one trip that you want to hear about and we don’t get squat from him.  I hope things are okay.  How did Tim manage to get that one video of Reid and Liz in the cab?  I wish I had her phone because I’d check in to see how the trip went and how Reid is doing.  From all indications, Bangalore is the tech center of India.  Incredibly, my post from last week, which mentioned Bangalore once, gets picked up by a blogger in India who tells me Bangalore is considered a garden spot.  So that was pretty cool.  That made me feel a little better about things.  Hopefully Reid’s having a great time and getting his fill of exploration.  Once a Razzmatazz, always a Razzmatazz.  Hard to sit back and wait to hear about his worldly exploits.  In a major coincidence, Bob Furstenau traveled to Ghana the same day Reid left for India.  Bob was seeing one of the twins, Tori, I think, and he took Adrian with him.  He texted a little bit the first day about how different things were but no word since.

Tim texted me from the Charlotte airport just a few moments ago.  He must be on U.S. Air as this would be their hub.  He says they caught a few red fish but the conditions were awful.  For a fly fisherman that must’ve meant heavy wind because he’s not about to toss any other line in the water.  Once the baby situation settles in, you three ought to come down here and we’ll trek over toward the ocean, down by Charleston or Hilton Head so your little one can anoint her toes in the Atlantic and Tim and I can try our hand at the coastal fish there.  That would be a lot of fun.  I think your bro’ is planning on Thanksgiving down here but we have yet to make any solid plans.  Who knows, he might want to head to M-SP to spend some time with Liz.  We’ll just have to wait and see how all that unfolds.  Depending on your schedule and energy level, I could always trundle up there, too.  I don’t need to bunk with you guys and create unnecessary turmoil.  There have to be motels nearby.  No biggie.  I can go either way.

Another reorganization at work.  But my name still shows on the chart, so that is a good thing.  One of my best friends, Tom, is pulling up stakes and moving his family to Washington, D.C. where he will take a position with a big association.  It’s not a bad move for him other than the price of real estate and uprooting his seventh grader to a new school system.  But that’s the way of the banking world.  There’s just so much uncertainty.  We are still going to contract size-wise down here so he was being pretty prudent in his planning.  Hard to lose friends, though, when you don’t have very many to start with.  We had golfed a far amount and now that’s done.

I’m getting kind of burned out on my church newsletter.  It’s been more than three years of 12 pages month in and month out, and it’s just taken a mental toll.  Hard to keep the creative juices flowing issue after issue.  More and more photos are taking the place of copy.  That’s not all bad from the reader’s perspective if you believe ‘a picture is worth 1,000 words’.  I don’t get much editorial help about news although I’ve not really recruited people to step in.  Some have volunteered but their idea of a contribution is to submit a poem or some other creative reflection.  I need people who can write on events and such and stick to deadlines.  But enough moaning.  Another issue is due March 11.

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