Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

The picture is our front yard at Sunset. This is our first Christmas in our house and I tried my best to do it justice. We have had a confluence of family drama and issues which have made celebrating difficult, but we will have some family here today and I think we'll do OK.

My father in-law went into the hospital last week and has had to have supervision till we get him in assisted care later this week. Vicki & I have taken off work to be with him, start the process of getting them out of their house and handling a bazillion details. In the meantime his wife who has dementia has gone to her grandsons' place and they are not living together. This couple has been married 63 years and Vic & I are of the opinion that splitting them up in this time of crisis is idiotic. 

Such is life when many siblings are involved and most of them just want to take advantage of the situation. I am proud of Vicki for jumping in and doing her best to fix this. I have been as helpful as possible including monitoring my father in-laws' medications, doing his blood sugar 4 times a day and getting his insulin dose correct for his nightly shots. 

We will be uniting Vicki's Mom & Dad today for Christmas. Hopefully it will go well. In her state of dementia Vicki's Mom is focused on their dog and money to the exclusion of all else. Vic's Dad has had anger issues when dealing with her disease and that has caused problems as well. With his Diabetes under control he is more clear headed and we think he will be more patient with his wife.

Our goal is to get both of them in the same facility with her in a Memory Care unit and him in the same building but in another wing. They will have access to one another but there will be no burden of care giving on him and no concern for her safety for her. (We hope)

Anyway... Vicki and I managed to sit out by the fire pit in the backyard on Christmas Eve for a while and enjoy a little peace. I snuck in a few whiskeys and a cigar as well.

Here's hoping your Holidays are joyful and full of cheer!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Dumb & Dumber

I have withheld comment on the current Political Drama in DC so far because in my view it is nothing but bogus BS. While this little bit of low class Theatre is being played out the bigger and more important issues are being totally ignored.

Just for starters and certainly not a complete list:

  •  Still no indictments or convictions Domestically of the Financials 
  • Our banks are still playing the market with the depositors' moneys in many cases to the detriment of those same depositors.
  • We have yet to state any sort of unified policy on the unraveling of the Arab Spring
  • No one is mentioning the re-emergence of Russia in what looks like the old cold war
  • China is still a prolific and successful cyber enemy costing this country her vital secrets and billions of dollars each year
  • We will spend billions of dollars this year in Iraq and Afghanistan in spite of our alleged pull out.
  • The continuing war on what some call entitlements ( like Social Security and Medicare, which we pay for our entire lives as employees) is being ignored 

All these things aside, I came across the following two videos concerning the Affordable Care Act today that seem to sum up the political intelligence of the electorate. It scares the hell out of me that some of the people in these videos might actually vote. Here they are for your viewing pleasure.

   OK that's it for me.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

No Country for Old Men

The reference to the movie "No Country for Old Men" is entirely intentional. I have known for some time that my experience in my industry is worthless to my employer, but this last Friday I learned that it is less than worthless, more a liability than an asset. 

This came about because an error that I made on a takeoff over a year ago just came to light. In fact, I was the one that found the error and instituted the process needed to correct the problem in the field and in the plant. This particular plan had been changed and modified numerous times by my boss and others in the department. The very issue that caused the problem was involved in these changes yet never corrected, in an entire year. Still I was called on the carpet and told that since I had the most experience there I should not have made this mistake. 

It was human error. There is no way to eradicate that entirely. It is possible to devise systems and procedures to catch these errors before they hit the field. I have lobbied for these procedures since my interview. It fell on deaf ears. I am not surprised that a mistake was made and that I was the one to make it. In spite of some people's opinion I am human. The startling fact is that it took a year to catch the error.

I expressed all this and more during the bitching out session. I left work Friday unsure if I would come back to work on Monday. I let my boss know this on the way out. I can retire now if I have to. I would rather work till my full retirement age of 66, but it's not essential to my well being. 

I have two concerns with the way this was handled.
  • My boss threw me under the bus rather than explain to his boss how this happened and how much of the workload I was doing. Indeed he failed to mention his own involvement with the issue. He will never be an effective manager till he learns to train his people well, give them the tools they need to do job, and have their backs. At this point he's batting 333 at best. Good in baseball, not so good in business.
  • My boss's boss literally pummeled me with my experience, yet they neither pay me for it nor listen to my advice. The company can't have it both ways. Either I am experienced and worth listening to, which means more authority, responsibility and pay or I am not. 

I am going in to work on Monday morning. I am not a quitter. If we can't come to terms I will give 2 weeks notice. Then the ball will be in their court. I'll find something to do for another year and a half.

Perhaps more change is the cards.



Saturday, August 24, 2013

West meets East

I haven't posted in some time. No excuse really, I just haven't had much worth saying. At least not much worth saying in my opinion. 

Today I am writing about our recent trip back to Atlanta for my oldest Son's wedding. We flew out last Friday morning. Neither my wife Vicki nor I like the flying experience. You know what I'm referring to; long lines at TSA, expensive food in the concourse past security, small seats with no legroom on the plane and the sometimes frightening noises and maneuvers that jet aircraft make. 

Vicki commented at the security line in Phoenix that this was the same way they lined up cattle for slaughter at the meat packing plant in South Dakota. All that aside, the flights both going and coming were OK. We payed extra to Southwest for early boarding and had seats in row 8 going to Atlanta and row 2 coming back. In both instances we could have had the 1st row seats but there would not have been a window seat for Vicki, so we went with the next best. She needs to see out of the plane or she gets claustrophobic while we sit on the tarmac. Even our checked luggage arrived  without damage this trip.

So... We arrive in Atlanta at 4:05 PM their time and proceed to baggage claim and then the rental car area. This requires taking two trains. The first takes you the mile or so from your departure gate to the baggage area. The second (after schlepping your bags outside and up an escalator) takes you another mile or so to the rental car center. Knowing a little about Atlanta traffic I opted for a full size car. At Enterprise they had a 2014 Impala (for a slight extra fee) and I went with that to check out the new Chevy. Nice ride by the way and lots of useful tech, like blind spot alerts on both passenger and driver's side mirrors.

Our hotel was north of the airport and downtown Atlanta in Alpharetta. We got good directions from the Enterprise counter and made it up the 285 and the 19/400 in about 40 minutes or so. 

The differences in geography, weather and population density become apparent the minute you leave the Airport. While the 285 was reasonable, the surface streets were small, crowded and closed in. There are folks everywhere all the time. Traffic was constant and unrelenting in the suburbs we traveled in Atlanta. In the neighborhoods it felt slightly rural, though congested; an odd mix that was alien to us. We were also amazed at the number of very large upscale apartment complexes. Some must have had thousands of residents. We got lost the first time we went to my son's apartment. Of course we are from Sun Lakes, it was night and there was all those trees and grass.

The Wedding took place at a community clubhouse and was very nice. The kids and their friends put the whole thing together including a great meal at the reception. I had not seen or spoken to my oldest son Jason or my youngest daughter Sarah in 10 years. The experience verged on the surreal at times.

I was also able to have a conversation with my Ex. I hadn't spoken with her in 30 years. We talked for some time and both us had some much needed closure, though I suspect mine may have been the more intense. I hope she just didn't say what I needed to hear to make me feel better. We'll see, she and Vicki are now going to communicate on facebook. Who woulda thunk it?

Vicki and I were able to spend some time with both of the kids at the reception and later at Jason's apartment.It was only later at a bar with the close friends that Vicki and I learned that some things have not changed between the kids and I in spite of both of them being in their 30s. They are still somehow, somewhat damaged. Their relationship as brother and sister which was so strong in their childhood has gone through changes. I'm not sure that either of them are totally comfortable with that. In addition their feelings (or in Sarah's case lack thereof) towards me are troubling.

As Vicki and I sat chatting with Sarah and her fiance Joe, Jason butted in to tell me that I should in essence shut up and let Sarah eat. Both of us were surprised by this passive aggressive comment. Had Sarah reassured her brother that it was alright, that we were just talking, we probably would have stayed. But that didn't happen. She attempted to play it off and I could see that his overbearing protectiveness was still an issue and that I wasn't the cause of their problem. 

Vicki and I looked across the table at one another and with a nod we decided to say goodnight. I congratulated the happy couple and we left. 

I was initially angry and hurt by Jason's outburst, but upon reflection it has provided me with long needed peace of mind. I have lived with the guilt of not being there for the kids for almost 4 decades and believed that absence caused their problems. Now I know it's not the case. They chose to be the way they are, just the same way their Mom chose her path in life. I would of course liked things to turn out differently, but there are few do overs in real life. 

I don't expect to ever go back to Atlanta, in spite of my daughter's upcoming wedding next year. For one thing I'm not even sure I'll be invited, but more importantly even if I am I don't see any reason to attend. Better that this time I just send them the money we would have spent on tickets. If either of the kids and their spouses ever want to see me they can come out to Phoenix. They will always be welcome, psychological warts and all, but if things go south they'll be the ones schlepping through airports, not me.

Life doesn't get an simpler as we grow older, but it does move faster. More on that in my next post. Things are happening here too.

Hang in there,



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Garbanzo Beans & the American Flag

Here we are at another Memorial Day weekend. Each year I wonder how much the younger generations know about this day or why we celebrate it. There does however seem to have been a resurgence of nationalism disguised as an attribute of conservatism. Perhaps its good if somewhat misguided. It seems to me that anyone who understands the sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces gets it, regardless of their politics.

I suppose I was very fortunate during my tour in Vietnam that I didn't lose a close friend or even a casual acquaintance. My friends that I joined the Marines with in 1967 had a very different experience in Nam than I did. 

Russell and Buddy both spent a good deal of time dodging bullets and artillery. Buddy took an AK round through his helmet (just the steel pot) and it went around the plastic liner and out the back. It knocked him on his butt and he had a headache for months, but when I saw him at Freedom Hill in Da Nang he was alive and healthy, though extremely salty and not the kid I with which I went through boot camp. He was a radio man in an infantry platoon and put his life on the line every day they were in the field. 

Russell received the navy cross for taking ammo and supplies into Hue during a time when they were being shelled by NVA artillery. I was told the intensity was something like a thousand rounds a day.

I on the other hand just had rockets and snipers at Da Nang airfield to contend with.

We did lose two COs and their radio operators to North Vietnamese anti-aircraft up north. Our squadron flew F-4Bs for photo recon in North Vietnam and it was very dangerous work for the pilots and crew. Another squadron lost 8 men who were killed in their hut by a 122 MM rocket one night during my tour. 

If I remember the numbers correctly there were 50,000 Americans killed in Vietnam and  over 300,000 wounded.  If you want to know more; look here.

So this was my war and these are the soldiers, sailors, airmen, coasties and Marines I will be remembering on Monday. We'll enjoy hot dogs and hamburgers from the grill with our oldest daughter and maybe some of my wife's spaghetti salad (which requires Garbanzos beans that I forget to pick up at the grocery store). I'll hang the flag out front since I was able to buy one while getting the Garbanzos. 

At some point I'll say a prayer for all those lost and their families. In that prayer will be a plea that some day we won't have to send our sons and daughters into harm's way.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend,


Monday, April 15, 2013

Back to Work

This will be my last week of staying home. I go back to work next Monday. It will be 5 weeks after my surgery. To make sure I'm up to it I am getting up at 5:00 AM all this week to help me get back on a work schedule.

I am feeling better every day and have more energy and importantly more stamina with each passing day. So ... There's nothing for it but to go back to work and get on with my life. My doctors have told me it could be some time till I feel as good as I did before the triple bypass, but they also say that at some point I will be more healthy than before and actually feel better than I have in years. I am looking forward to that.

I will try to do a little work around the house this week, keeping in mind my restrictions on lifting, pushing, pulling or tugging. It seems that the sternum takes a good deal longer to heal than just a few weeks and you have to be careful not to mess up the wiring job they do on the bone by over exercising or straining the chest bone. You know right away when you overdo, the pain is instant and a little scary. Still, I look forward to some work in the garden and doing some minor honey-dos while I have the chance.

Next week it's back to work and back to a more normal existence. I thank God each day for blessing me with that opportunity.

Hope your summer is relaxing and joyful.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Three weeks ago yesterday I was laying on an operating table with my chest split open, my heart stopped and my lungs deflated while a machine breathed and circulated my blood for me. A very skilled team of individuals was monitoring all this while an even more skilled individual grafted new arteries on to my three coronary arteries. The operation took 6 hours of which I spent a little more than one hour on the heart and lung machine. 

Three weeks ago today I woke up just after midnight and was overjoyed to be alive. Then came the pain and the realization that things had really changed. I had tubes sticking out of me from various places, a device that went into my heart for some unknown (to me) purpose and a variety of IVs, EKG leads and sundry other attachments of some sort of medical necessity. 

After a week in the hospital I was allowed to come home. My wife, Vicki, spent the first week taking care of me and last week I managed on my own. My Cardiologist says I'm making good progress and I see the surgeon this coming week to get all the staples and stitches left remaining in me removed. So ... Things seem good this Saturday afternoon, I've got the energy to write and the will to do it.

I hope all of you are blessed with as much good fortune as I have been.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cabbage Patch Guys & Dolls

If you can get past the lame wordplay and puns in the title I hope you will stay long enough to read this post. I am writing this from my living room after returning home from the hospital. What I had thought would at most be an overnight stay turned into a ten day 
"rite of passage". 

While at the first hospital I had an Angiogram . The findings were severe enough that my Cardiologist brought in a Heart Surgeon. My x-rays showed one coronary artery with 100% blockage, one with 90% blockage and the other with 80% blockage. I had only  survived this long because the condition took many years to get this bad and I had been very, very lucky.

So instead of heading home after an overnight stay I was transferred to a hospital that
does this type of surgery, Chandler Regional Medical Center. Commonly called a triple by-pass by us civilians, it is referred to as a "CABG" (Cabbage) for Coronary Artery Bypass Graft. Ergo the pun in the title.

I feel very fortunate to be here to write this blog post.

My sincere thanks and appreciation goes out to all the outstanding and dedicated people who saw me through the process. Starting with my Cardiologists Dr. Villegas, my heart surgeon Dr Kralik and his team of Larry (the Murse) and Andrew (the kisser) to the last RN Pat,  on my release day,  I was cared for in the most professional, kind and gentle manner.

I woke up in CVICU to the careful minestrations and hovering of Karen and Darryl; many thanks for seeing me through the return to life.

After two days they moved me up to Cardio Recovery and a wonderful team of nurses looked after me and showed me  how to get better. Thanks to all three Jessicas, Amanda, Ashley, Rebbecca, Frankie, Belle, Missy, and all the other folks on the third floor for your hard work and dedication..

I wish I had the words to say how much I appreciate all that each of you did for me during my time in your unit, but I think I'll just end it with this.... Thanks, Thanks, Thanks.