A hint of a promise

Miracle of miracles, it rained in Socal last night. Unfortunately, it was a classic Socal rain, not a rambunctious Kentucky rain.

We got 0.01 inches of “rain” last night, the first moisture in months. That’s right, one-hundredth of one inch. Kind of a hint of a promise of water, a thin mist. That brings our annual rainfall total to 6.91 inches, when our long-term average is about 15.5 inches. Our rainfall calendar ends on June 30, so 6.91 is where we’re going to end up. This has been a DRY year, one of the worst since we’ve lived in Fallbrook. This does not bode well for the late summer and early fall, our traditional wildfire season. Most likely we won’t see any more precipitation until November-ish, so the landscape here will go from dry to drier. Stay tuned.

Back in Socal

Back in Socal after a fast but satisfying trip to Louisville. Just my luck, after 90+ degree heat my entire stay, the weather there is mid-70s today. Go figure. The flights back to Socal were once again packed. Every seat full. I think the airline industry is rebounding very quickly, and for my chosen “two homes” lifestyle, that’s a good thing. A necessary thing. Post-pandemic you can’t take anything for granted – just because we used to travel across country freely and relatively cheaply doesn’t mean we will always have that luxury.

The universal mask-wearing on airlines is still a negative, and I expect it to end within a couple of months. I would be OK if the new social or legal norm was temperature-taking at check-in and a wristband requiring you to wear a mask if you have any flu/virus/etc symptoms. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that wearing a mask around others if you’re contagious is a considerate and good thing.

Today is a day to catch up on a few things and make the extensive travel plans for upcoming trips. The travel blog will be busy – I need to take a few more and better pictures to include.

Last thought – I’m missing my daily Con Huevos brunch today. Probably a good thing, given the expanding waistline. Turns out walking there and back doesn’t burn off the delicious calories they serve.

Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day. Today I make the pilgrimage back to Ashland to see my Dad. It’s not an easy trip, but it’s important. In the last month three of my friends have lost their fathers. I suppose I’m simply at the age when the prior generation starts to check out en masse. Very sobering to realize that in 20-25 years it will be my generation’s turn.

But Dad is still with us, and getting some extra time with him is great. I’m pretty certain we gave him a few extra years by checking him into the assisted living facility in January 2020, where they could get his health straightened out. I don’t think he would have survived 2020 otherwise. The picture below is from 2019 on a good day.

And this evening I’ll get to have a meal with Emily, Greg and the grandsons. That’s all the Father’s Day I could ask for. Yesterday I lectured Hudson about how important it is to be extra nice to his Dad on Father’s Day – we’ll see if any of that sank in. With kids you never know what will stick and what gets blended into the noise.

My FD present to myself was discovering that Sling TV allows me to record the US Open at Torrey and watch it later tonight. Technology to the rescue!

First night

First night in the new place, and some first impressions.

Getting ready for even staying a single night was a lot of work. A bit overwhelming, in fact. Had to buy and assemble a bed, buy a coffeemaker (and coffee, belatedly), get Internet service installed, buy some towels and a few types of soap, get the place deep-cleaned, acquire a few tools for the bed assembly, go to a closing meeting and get the keys, meet the neighbors…whew! I was whipped at the end of the day.

We have fireflies! Or lightning bugs, as we called them when I was a kid. Our backyard is full of them and they’re beautiful. I did some research and it turns out that spraying the yard for mosquitos will kill the fireflies, so I’m cancelling that service. Taking one for the firefly team.

Turns out that having no chairs is a problem. Can’t sit down to write or eat, have to sit down on the stairs just to put shoes on. Will have to get a few.

Met the neighbors on one side, and they were nice. Learned a few things about the property line and parking, and entertained them with my story of this being a second home and living primarily in CA. They stated that they’d never heard of such a thing – I think they consider me to be exotic.

The place is in great shape, and I’m thankful for that. No big remodel projects necessary.

I have a great son-in-law. He helped me carry and assemble the bed and brought in some badly-needed libations as we were working. Good man.

It was 94 degrees and humid yesterday, so it’s awesome that the AC works. Works very well, in fact. I had to get up in the middle of the night and figure out how the thermostats worked to increase the temp a bit.

I’m only a couple of blocks away from Con Huevos, so I walked here this morning for a classic Louisville breakfast. Was the second person in the door. At the moment I’m busy licking the plate and hoping no one notices.

All in all, a successful first night in the new place. Now for some chairs and maybe a TV…

Layover

Feels like old times. I’m ensconced at an airport bar in Houston, between flights. Have almost two hours to kill. Not much has changed, other than masks. Bad wine selection, high prices, patrons all studiously staring at their phones. Or at their computer, like me.

Some poor woman on the flight to Houston had three big seizures, so we did a hot landing and run to the gate. The firemen/medics came on board and took her away – I hope she’s OK. Everywhere I turn these days there’s someone with a bad health problem or someone whose family member just died. It feels like a message.

Aside from the medical emergency, flying on UA was pretty good. I’ve flown soooo much SW that I’ve forgotten what the experience on other airlines is like. I’m pleased to say that the UA flight was just fine. That’s good to know, because we have a long flight on them later this year, to and from southern South America.

I’m really happy about heading for Louisville this trip, as it fulfills a dream I’ve had for a long time – a place of our own there, something to share with the kids and grandkids. And someplace to have houseguests and share the Louisville experience. This trip I’ll only have electricity, water, a bed, Internet service and a coffee pot – the bare necessities of civilized life. Other furniture and possessions will happen over time.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

My hard-won expert traveler cred got challenged this morning. Southwest cancelled and rebooked me on a flight on a different day, so I’ve had to scramble to find another flight on another airline at the last second. Plus change parking and rental car reservations. With some quick thinking, I managed to get that done without much change to overall plans or budgets. Thanks United.

I’ve seen this before. An airline’s computer systems have a problem and flight changes cascade through their system for days. Southwest is very susceptible to this – they run a system without much flexibility. Any disruption impacts flights downstream, and big disruptions just shut them down. So I made a good decision just opting out of their flights until next week, when things should have settled down.

I’d hate to be their CIO right about now. You have one job – keep the computer systems running – but you didn’t, so the entire flight schedule gets wrecked for days. And people spend their money with your competitors. That’ll be an ugly meeting with the CEO.

Walkin’ man

I’ve got less than a month to get in better shape for one of the toughest tests in golf, Oakmont. Oakmont is a notoriously difficult course, but it’s not my game or score that I’m worried about. The last time I played there 2-3 years ago I couldn’t finish my first round. Oakmont is old-school formal, and unless you’re handicapped there are no carts allowed. You walk the course, which is normally no problem for me. But that day the temperature was 105 F with 90+% humidity, and after about 8 hilly holes I was gasping and couldn’t get a breath. Embarrassing, but I had to take a break.

I did get back on the course for the back nine, but in a cart. So I don’t want a repeat of that. It’s possible the weather and temp will be just as bad, so I’m walking multiple miles per day and will do it in the heat for the next few weeks. Sounds like fun.

You know you’re getting old when a round of golf is something you have to train for. Yikes.

Busy

I love this quote, seen a while back on Blue Heron Blast. Oppenheimer was a complicated guy.

“The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears it is true.” J. Robert Oppenheimer

It’s been a long week. Some consulting work every day, then trying to get into better shape by walking a lot, and then a long day Saturday doing some team building with one of my companies. All day in a conference room revisiting The 5 Dysfunctions of Teams. This retirement thing is tough.

Next week I’m looking forward to (a) a big go/no go decision on the quantum project, and (b) closing on the KY house and actually seeing it in person. Things will slow down sometime this summer, but I’m not sure when. I may have a case of post-COVID mania.

Master tracks

Wow! I just discovered a video/music series published by the master himself, Jackson Browne. It’s his “live from home” series on Youtube, a set of beautiful, intimate, high fidelity versions of songs from his previous albums and concerts. At age 72 he hasn’t lost a step.

When he looks into the camera in these videos, you can see the wisdom, the sadness and humor, the intelligence of the man. It’s at least as good as any front-row, in person show we’ve seen him. And the glimpses of his house, his personal space where he’s recording these gems, are very cool.

This version of “Farther On” brought tears to my eyes. I listened to this in my 20s and loved it, and it hasn’t lost any power. The entire song is beautiful and haunting, but the final stanzas always resonate with me:

“Now the distance leads me farther on
Though the reasons i once had are gone
I keep thinking I’ll find what I’m looking for
In the sand beneath the dawn

But the angels are older
They can see that the sun’s setting fast
They look over my shoulder
At the vision of paradise contained in the light of the past

And they lay down behind me
To sleep beside the road till the morning has come
Where they know they will find me
With my maps and my faith in the distance
Moving farther on…”

He wrote this in 1973 at the age of 24. Twenty four!! Who has that kind of soul and wisdom at 24? I’ll always wonder that about JB – he’s the prototype old soul.

It was worse than we thought

OK, a slight diversion from travel stories. This is a political story that needs attention. As always, historian Heather Cox Richardson has the direct, simple to understand take on this. From her article:

“In February 2018, the House Intelligence Committee was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the president became obsessed with figuring out who was apparently leaking information to the press about contacts between his people and Russia. 

Under then–Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice subpoenaed from Apple the records of the communications of California Democrats Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, and—we learned at about 11:00 tonight—Eric Swalwell, both of whom were key critics of Trump. The department also investigated members of their families, including one child. The government seized the records of at least a dozen people.

“[G]ood God,” journalist Jennifer Rubin tweeted. “They were running a police state.” For the Department of Justice to subpoena records from congressional lawmakers is extraordinary. For it to investigate their families, as well, is mind boggling.”

“They were running a police state.” That, in a nutshell is why none of the Trump cabal should ever be allowed to hold a position of power again. And should be prosecuted. The government does not and should not have the power to investigate citizens just because it doesn’t like what you say or do, or who you are. That’s dictatorship at its worst. That’s everything America was not supposed to be.

During 2016-2020, we didn’t quite realize or understand that we were living under a dictatorship. As the truth comes out, it’s terrifying. We didn’t dodge a bullet, we dodged a nuclear missile.

Bicoastal (if you consider Louisville a coast)

The longtime dream of a real second home near the kids and grandkids is finally coming true. But it’s a LOT of work. So far this week I’ve:

  • Signed up for water service
  • Signed up for gas and electric service
  • Signed up for Internet service
  • Set a date for Internet service installation
  • Shopped for and bought homeowners insurance
  • Shopped for and signed up for lawn care service
  • Signed up for streaming TV service (not going the cable route)
  • Ordered a bed for delivery after closing day

That’s kind of the bare minimum for occupying a place, in my opinion. Electricity, water, gas for cooking, a bed for sleeping and Internet service. All the rest can come later.

Next week we get the keys. I can’t wait to see the place in person for the first time.

Road trippin’

(Title is a nod to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.)

We’re back from Hawaii and mostly recovered from the travel day and time zone change. It was a great trip with memorable highlights: the anniversary evening and dinner, the manta ray swim, visiting the tops of Kilauea and Mauna Kea, the bright blue water and vivid daily sunsets…lots to love about the Big Island.

And looking forward to the next 18 months, we have a lot more memories to make. This travel blog can finally return to its original purpose – to document our travels in words and pictures. In the next year and a half, here’s what we have teed up:

  • One or two trips to Cabo
  • A trip to North Carolina for a nephew’s wedding
  • A long cruise around the tip of South America and into Antarctica
  • The inverse cruise into the Arctic (Norway) to see the Northern Lights ( we get to visit the top and bottom of the world in one year – how cool is that?)
  • A trip to the Colorado mountains for K’s sister’s 70th birthday gathering
  • Multiple trips to Louisville, some long, some short, now that we have a place to call our own
  • A couple of golf trips, one to Oakmont (!) and one to Tchefuncta in NOLA

And those are just the planned trips, the ones I know we’re doing. There’s still room for last-minute trips to Napa, or to visit relatives, or to Borrego, etc. We’re gonna be busy. And that’s the plan – stay busy and see the world while we can. Travel can be a little rough on the old body, and we’re never going to be this “young” again.