Final thoughts for the year

Title picture is me and Jessamine watching a train go by. He so loves trains.

This will very likely be the last post of 2022. Tomorrow we leave for the airport at 530am, and hopefully take off for the west at 7am on a United flight. It will be a strange end to a strange year.

Southwest tries to reboot itself today, after the most spectacular operations and systems crash ever experienced by a major corporation. They’re going to have huge expenses due to the holidays debacle, and then again huge investments to fix what is wrong. Ironically, SW was the most profitable airline in the industry for 2022, with about $579M in profits. I’m pretty sure fixing what is broken is going to cost them more than that. And pretty sure that they won’t lead the industry in 2023 profits.

But even more than the money, what SW lost this holiday season was trust – their reputation is damaged, badly. I’m the most loyal SW customer you can imagine, and I’ll enter 2023 looking for alternatives to SW flights for every trip. I don’t trust them any more. They used to be cheap and reliable, and now they are neither.

Returning to Socal will be bittersweet. I’ll miss the kids and grandkids. But there’s a lot that needs attention at our western home, so there will be plenty to do. And the weather for January in Socal is typically very nice. My golf buddies and I will take advantage of that.

The next big home improvement project will almost certainly be a home battery backup system, used mostly for defeating the SDGE’s very expensive time of use (TOU) rates. TOU has cut our solar roof savings by 50% or more. With a smart battery system, I think I can drive our electricity costs back to near-zero again, plus get some backup for short power outages. Frontrunner at the moment is Panasonic’s Evervolt system.

As for 2023 resolutions, I have three:

  • Write more
  • Exercise more
  • Drink less

Very general, and very doable. I’m already moving in those directions, so just continued awareness on my part is all that it will take. The personal trainer sessions we started last month (and continued while in KY, via Zoom) are a firm foundation for these resolutions. With exercise, I feel less stress. With less stress, I drink less. And with both of those in play, I’m in a better head-space to write. Win-win-win.

And on that thought, I’ll call it a year for the blog.

2022 in review

2022. Whoever owns 2022 better have a thick skin, because the review is going to be brutal.

  • 2022 is the year that the “post-pandemic” housing market peaked and then crashed. A bad roller coaster ride.
  • It’s the year that inflation rose to 40 year highs and sent more shocks through financial markets. Tough year to be a retired investor.
  • Another ugly, sad year (so far) for Kentucky basketball. Coach Calipari has gone from legend to bum.
  • 2022 was the year that we got stuck in the Xmas travel nightmare. We were luckier than most, as we got stuck in a place I like and in a cozy home. But hundreds of thousands missed their holiday, slept in airports, lost their luggage, and just generally got buried in a pile of suck.
  • Our smallest Thanksgiving dinner ever. Was pretty sad.
  • The year that Elon Musk decided to destroy my investment in Tesla by mucking about with the cesspool called Twitter. And SpaceX’s prospects are dimmed by the same. Musk has turned out to be a childish idiot.
  • The year that my metabolism decided I could use a lot more fat around my midsection. Metabolism and I are going to have a frank discussion about that.
  • 2022 was the year that I caught COVID at least once (verified by test), probably twice.
  • The year that Dad died.
  • And stepmother Phyllis died.
  • The year that China found out the hard way that you can’t beat a virus with long-term population isolation. A billion people are now paying the price.

There were a few bright spots.

  • We got our water problems fixed in our Socal well system.
  • My buddy Jon and I won our flight again in his club tournament.
  • Our house didn’t burn down in a wildfire.
  • The democrats did pretty damn well in midterm elections.
  • We saw the Northern Lights.
  • I attended a fun writers conference in Louisville.
  • We had a good trip to Cabo.

So it wasn’t all bad, but on balance…not a great year. I’m ready for a reset in 2023.

Fire JC

The Kentucky game tonight was brutal. A 20 point loss that should have been +/- 5 points. This team isn’t what I hoped it would be, so the rest of the season is about enjoying the bright spots and suffering through the rest. Love the players, hate the losses.

I’m officially off the Calipari fan train. With this much talent, we should have a better team. Hold the $30-50M per year leader accountable. Sorry JC, time for the next coach.

It crashed

I can’t speak for both of us, but for me setting a target departure date a few days out is infinitely better than the daily trip to the airport and subsequent wait+disappointment. Yesterday we worked out, I read a book, and we went with the kids to dinner and ice skating. To be clear, the grandsons and my son-in-law skated – the rest of us watched. At this point in my life, ice skating is just a quickly broken bone. But it was a good day, and today SIL and I are taking the older grandson to Topgolf.

Southwest Air’s implosion is all over the news – it’s as bad a core service breakdown as I’ve ever seen. Their board needs to replace a few executives. Problem is that there are no quick fixes to what is wrong with them – some of their problems are fundamental to their business model. Their point-to-point route system doesn’t scale well in terms of crew deployment. Hub-and-spoke, which everyone else uses, has its own problems, but at least the major hubs are a place crews can be based and deployed easily.

Looks like SW’s system complexity outran its internal processes for scheduling and routing. Their system, both process-wise and IT-wise, didn’t have enough fault tolerance. So they had a cascading failure, where each subsequent problem spawns more problems, and they got to the point where they couldn’t even tell you the current state of their system – where crews and luggage were at the moment. At that point, operations just aren’t possible.

I may try to contact them and offer my company’s services in righting the ship. We’re expert project managers, and they’re going to need LOTS of that. All they can get. There’s this old IT saying about “rebuilding the airplane in flight” to describe a particularly difficult project. SW will have a lot of that – they have to try and keep operating while fixing things, at some scale, but in their case the airplane is no longer in flight. It crashed.

This shit is getting old

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends.

We were scheduled to leave Louisville this morning on Spirit Airlines at 8am. Just before midnight, we received notice that our flight had been cancelled (I was asleep, so didn’t read it until 5am). They Groundhog Dayed us after all.

After a few seconds of despair, I got busy and found us a flight on United that, at least as of 6am, is scheduled to leave at 9am and head west to San Diego via Denver. The Denver part is a calculated risk. We could easily get stranded in Denver, but…there are more service options there than at Louisville.

I know this is an unusual circumstance, but my faith in air travel is shaken. What used to be reliable service now isn’t. So my plans to have a dual life, homes east and west, suddenly seems unwise. If I owned any airline stocks, I’d sell them or short them ASAP.

Anyway, wish us luck. Five straight cancellations – that’s gotta be a record.


Update – it’s a no go on a flight leaving today. I’ve now booked something for the 31st – the airline crunch should settle out by then. Time for us to settle in and do what we can to enjoy our next few days here.

Last day in KY for 2022?

Just read about Flipper Zero. Wow, I expect this device to wreak some havoc. I may just get one to play around and see how vulnerable we actually are to ubiquitous, invisible information being beamed around us. Though to get one I may have to pay Amazon double the retail rate – the OEM company is sold out.

Today is just a relax and bide your time day. We plan to have lunch with my brother and go see the kids later, before we try to fly west one more time tomorrow morning. Air travel at the holidays, and this holiday/weather shitstorm in particular, is pretty awful. I’m going back to my old rules about flying at the holidays – just don’t.

I feel so bad for all the families who got stuck yesterday (and the day before, and the day before that) when flights cancelled and they had no rental car, no flight onward at any price, and definitely no second home to fall back to. We had it easy in comparison.

Looking westward, it’s 80+ degrees and sunny today at our CA home. But as we arrive tomorrow, the temperature will drop about 20 degrees and then we get a few days of cold rain. Is it us – what did we do to piss off the weather gods? I have mixed feelings about that forecast – one one hand, I was looking forward to a little heat. On the other, rain is the best thing that can happen in Socal. And 60 degrees is a helluva lot warmer than what we’ve experienced the past week.

With the wintery weather here (that’s an understatement), I haven’t even broken out my Fuji camera, after hauling it and a couple of lenses here, I know I’ve missed opportunities for some dramatic B&W shots of the snow and ice, but I haven’t been up to it. One more reason that I might just sell the expensive gear and rely on an iPhone 14 with its very solid camera. It might be time to face it (shades of Tame Impala), I’ll never be Ansel Adams.

Rough morning, great day

I have to admit, I’ve been guilty of conflicting goals these last few days. On one hand, I want to be with the grandkids. On the other hand, the desire to get back to our CA home. We got blocked again today from flying westward, and given that I have been in goal achievement mode, that felt bad. Once I get focused on a goal, I’m blind to all other outcomes.

But the silver lining showed up this afternoon and evening. With today’s abrupt flight cancellation, we were “forced” to spend the day here in KY. We went over to the kids’ house and had a great afternoon/evening with the grandkids, the other grandparents, and of course E&G. It was better than anything we had waiting for us on the Left Coast. Good food, good company, the grandkids, and most of all family, albeit an extended one. My daughter and son-in-law are wiser than us, and we benefited from their tradition of “come one, come all” on Xmas Day. I enjoyed the evening more than I can express.

Having distributed families is hard. It’s not natural, and we’re all figuring out what it means and what it can be in our lives. Divorce, moving away from the childhood home, jobs, children, and marriages all shape your life in ways you never expected – this is all new, in a sociological sense. But today I experienced the best of that. It turned out to be a Merry Xmas, indeed. Ho ho ho, after all.

White Xmas after all

Welp, it’s 8pm Xmas Eve and we’re still in Louisville. I have a serious bone to pick with Southwest Air. Our Plan B C D E flight leaves at 8am tomorrow on another airline. At least that’s the plan. Ho f’ing ho.


Update, Xmas morning, 530am. In theory we leave on Spirit Airlines at 8am today. After some consideration, I think Spirit may be the new Southwest, with a few twists. At least they seem to have good service to and from Louisville, which SW no longer does. In the spirit of this being a travel blog, I’ll post more detailed results once we experience Spirit’s service.


Update, still Xmas morning. Our 8am flight hasn’t boarded or left as of 10am – apparently, they’re one flight attendant short. Someone probably couldn’t get permission for the holiday off and just called in sick. So 135 of us are hanging out in the Louisville airport terminal, waiting for the latest lie about leaving. There’s not a lot of holiday cheer in the waiting area. I’m just tired of the multi-day shitshow of scheduling, cancellations and futile waiting. And just tired, period.


Final update on this little tragedy. Spirit cancelled our flight at 1030am, leaving a planeful of people upset. I immediately got online and rebooked us for the same itinerary two days from now. There’s no guarantee that we won’t Groundhog Day again on Tuesday, but…gotta try. Eventually, we’ll get somewhere. Meantime, I have an unhappy fellow traveler trying to accept the inevitable. Sometimes that’s tough.

The day after Festivus

Aaaand it’s Xmas Eve, the day after Festivus. Five hours to flight time and it still looks like we’ll leave Louisville today. Our aircraft is in flight, on its way from LA to Chicago. From Chicago it comes to Louisville, and then heads back west to Phoenix. With us aboard. The transition in Chicago is the most likely point of failure, so we’ll see. It’ll be fine either way.

Meanwhile it’s time to clean up, do laundry, get rid of perishables in the fridge, repack, set the thermostats appropriately, fuel up the car and ourselves, and take one last drive in the crunchy snow. I’ve gotten to be an expert in the “buttoning up the house” checklist. Maybe I should do a TED talk on that.

Back in Socal I plan on playing a lot of golf. Now that I’m getting in better shape, I’ll walk the courses whenever possible. Cardio plus fun, that’s the ticket.

It’s too early for the usual list of New Year’s resolutions and subsequent failures, but I have started thinking about it. How can you not think about it when you’re aware that you don’t have that much time left, big picture. Every day I read about some 60 year old celebrity who ran out of runway, died “way too soon”. It’s depressing and energizing at the same time. A bit like playing golf.

Xmas Day minus 2

Well, after spending a great morning with the kids (picture below), we burned an entire afternoon and went to see Avatar, The Way of Water. In a nutshell, great effects, but *exactly* the same movie as before, full of white man’s guilt. A very obvious, heavy-handed screed against colonialism, industrialism, technology, etc. Nature good, mankind bad. Three hours of that drivel, and I’m ready to become a conservative.

In general it was not a good movie. Glad we saw it on the big giant screen, but I’ll never see it again.

Being out and about today in the crunchy snow was a bit of an adventure. All my years of snowtime driving in Akron OH came back to me, and I navigated the roads pretty easily. Just have to be slow and cautious, plus be aware of the physics of what’s going on between your wheels and the snow.

A tale of two cities’ weather

It’s a little chilly this morning.

So far we still have power and no pipes frozen. Hard to believe it was a balmy 45 degrees yesterday. So far SW has not cancelled our Xmas Eve trip…we probably won’t know about that until about 24 hours from now. I still think the nonstop to PHX is a good bet.

Comparing KY’s weather snapshot to today’s report from Socal, below. Amazing – hard to believe we’re in the same country. All of a sudden I’m a little nostalgic for our CA home.


Here’s some not-so-common good sense about passwords that I wish website designers would read and understand.


There’s a lot of political news this week, but I can’t get too worked up about any of it. I did watch BBC news last night instead of the shite that US networks call news, and it was refreshing. No breathless drama, no drug commercials – just factual video and stories from around the world.


I was just elected to the Board of Directors for San Diego Health Connect. That should be interesting, and I’m looking forward to doing what I can to help them grow.

Batten down the hatches

The closer we get to the Arctic storm tonight, the less it feels like an adventure – more like an opportunity to test survival skills. This area just isn’t prepared for negative 30ish wind chill. The combo of below zero temps and wind gusts at 40 mph could be devastating – lots of tree falls and power line problems. The nightmare scenario is an extended power outage. In close second are broken pipes, cars that won’t start, and roads filled with wrecked cars due to ice.

We tried to bug out today, but Southwest wasn’t up to the task. They rebooked us for 610am Friday through Chicago, and there’s no way in hell I’m getting on that flight, even if it leaves Louisville. Another worst case scenario is being stranded in Chicago airport with another million angry travelers. Nope, just nope. I’ll cancel that reservation if SW doesn’t cancel the flight, which I think is likely. So our last option is a reservation we have for the 24th through Phoenix. My hope (not a good strategy) is that there will be an aircraft available by Saturday afternoon, and Phoenix is a safe destination, untouched by the Arctic storm. We’ll see.

So, in the meantime, faucets will be on drip and flashlights at the ready. Communication devices all charging up. Some meals ready for Friday in case no one can drive on the roads. And hoping that LGE has a great field service organization.

Also really, really hope that the homeless folks in Louisville find some shelter. I know of one large homeless encampment along the river west of the city. Without shelter, tonight and tomorrow will be deadly. In San Diego I know my 211 team would be mobilizing to help in a situation like this – I wonder if they have the same kind of service organization here?