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Category Archives: Camping

We Are So Spoiled It Makes Me Ill. Hooyah! Let us Give These Brave People a Moment of Consideration and Thanks.

While the newsreels play out a perfect scenario of success, we sit back on our couches and pat each other on the backs for what “we” just did in Pakistan.  We all have the images in our heads (myself included) that Navy SEALs are invincible; highly trained and disciplined young men and women that somehow through deification become invincible the second they pass BUD/S INDOC.  Not to mention things like that if you fail the OC (obstacle course) twice you are out.  Contrary to the “GI Jane” opinion, you don’t necessarily have to ring “the bell” yourself.
In truth it takes a SEAL 30 months of training before they are ready for deployment.  The SEALs that emerge are ready to handle pretty much any task called on including diving, combat swimming, navigation, demolitions, weapons, and parachuting. The training pushes them to the limit both mentally and physically but that doesn’t make them invincible.
These young warriors aren’t anything like our wonderful Hollywood caricatures.  A model SEAL is 5’10” and 175 pounds, about the only similarity to the Charlie Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, and Keifer Southerland avatars we watch boldly walking down mud streets or wading in rice patties, guns blazing, as the venerable enemy drops silently in droves at either side.  Obviously these made up lipstick wearing Adonis’s wouldn’t last 5 seconds in an actual fire-fight, but that’s not the point.
As we sip our white wine with our fat asses on that couch, congratulating ourselves for a job well done (and for those of you who have been and done, this obviously does not apply to you) let us take pause to reflect upon just how “easy” it was to kill bin Laden.  We get a picture of the Spec-Ops guys gearing up for the pre-op briefing, huddled around Dennis Haysbert and the rest of The Unit, casually leaving their all very attractive wives for another mysterious little “outing.”  Every now and then one of them might be injured, but there is very seldom any wholesale gore, and it is very easy for them to “leave no man behind.”  We also have a tendency to look at the statistics of that particular (bin Laden) mission and have it validate our Jack Bauer image of what Spec-Ops duty is like:  build a practice scenario, shoot at some dummies, get briefed, get on a plane, get on a Blackhawk, insertion, recon, flash-bang, fire a few quick shots, egress, extraction, and appearance with the President.
http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/05/06/bin.laden.obama/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn
I t would be fine if life were so simple.
We can all mouth the words “war is hell.”  Very few of us can appreciate how true that is.  Sure we’ve all seen Ben Hur , Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan but the familiarity of the stars, the surreal nature of the sets and the dislocation of the context makes it beyond our sensibilities to comprehend or relate to.  It becomes as abstract as a computer game where the figures just disappear when you kill them or the car always returns to the track no matter how many times you crash.  A more true representation of “war” can be found in BBC History of World War II if you have the time, and the stomach to sit through it.  It would change your life.*
We have so much to be thankful for, and so much to regret.  Joseph Schumpeter (economist)  was correct in his publication of 1942 (Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy) in asserting that the success of capitalism will lead to a form of corporatism and a fostering of values hostile to capitalism, especially among intellectuals. The intellectual and social climate needed to allow entrepreneurship to thrive will not exist in advanced capitalism; it will be replaced by socialism in some form.   (Does this sound like anything we have been hearing lately in political debate?)
The end result of this is that we Americans have spent beyond our means, that stockholder equity has dictated that we ship our jobs offshore, that our past industrial success has left us with an abnormal dependency on foreign oil, and that the greed, arrogance and ignorance of our people has left our country gasping and vulnerable.  Can we get it back? Hell yes, but not without hard work and sacrifice.  Corporate bail-outs and pork-barrel legislation should be punishable by death.
So we got ourselves in a bit of a jam.  There are people out there that hate us:  Shiites, Sunnis, Cripps, Bloods, you name it.  In some part we have to be aware of the disparity that our opulence has caused, and the result of our largely Christian Evangelistic society and the push-back it can instigate.  We have been fortunate and not always particularly diplomatic about it.  We have all experienced the “Ugly American” at some point in our foreign travels, and I have had the good fortune to be able to travel extensively and hear what some extremely intelligent people actually think about us and our politics.  Since that experience it has been a comfort to watch BBC News more often than FOX, if you know what I mean.
The “war” on terrorism didn’t start on September 11, 2001.  It did not end on May 2, 2011.  How ironic it would have been if they could have negotiated the operation one day earlier.  “Bin Laden comes to infamy on 9/11 and is executed on May Day,”
* If you want just one example of what kind of hell a SEAL operation can actually endure I encourage you to read the story at the following link.  It is not my liberty or bandwidth to articulate how many stories there are like this, or how many young heroes have given their lives in the service of their country, and the pursuit of this threat.  Suffice it to say that the administrations statement of “no casualties” on this operation makes me sick.  This was part of a huge global operation that eventually culminated in a victory.  No victory for American service men and women comes cheap, nor should their sacrifices be overlooked.  Hooyah!
Please note that they had it right, even then. This Op was in Asadabad, where we finally caught him. They opened the door.  They did NOT die in vain.
http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=37856
This Op stared out with a crew of 4 SEALs.  Take a look at how “Jack Bauer” this turned out:
11 Navy SEALs and 8 Army Task Force 160 aircrew died in the battle.
 Marcus Luttrell, Matt Axelson, and Danny Dietz each received the Navy Cross, the second-highest decoration for valor in the military.
For his actions, Michael Murphy received the Medal of Honor on October 22, 2007.
The men who gave their lives on the helicopter are:
Staff Sgt. Shamus Goare, 29, Danville, Ohio.
Chief Warrant Officer Corey Goodnature, 35, Clarks Grove, Minn.
Sgt. Kip Jacoby, 21, Pompano Beach, Fla.
Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Muralles, 33, Shelbyville, Ind.
Major Stephen Reich, 34, Washington Depot, Conn.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Russell, 31, Stafford, Va.
Chief Warrant Officer Chris Scherkenbach, 40, Jacksonville, Fla..
Master Sgt, James Ponder III, 36, Franklin, Tenn.
Chief Petty Officer Jacques Fontan, 36, New Orleans, La.
Lt. Cmdr. Erik Ristensen, 33, San Diego, Calif.
Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Lucas, 33, Corbett, Ore.
Lt. Michael McGreevy, Jr., 30, Portville, N.Y..
Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery Taylor, 30, Midway, W. Va.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Healy, 36, Exeter, N.H.
Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Patton, 22, Boulder City, Nev.

 

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Learning from Others: Finding Influential People When You Are On Your Own

My early years were blessed with always having owned a boat.  These were the frolicking years just after grad school with all the single folks jamming a deserted beach on a far away lake.  Naked waterskiing on a full moonlit night, was followed by running out of gas in the middle of the lake and paddling to shore with a water ski.   Ah, youth.

As the years passed, and children grew the excitement of the boat began to give way to other family responsibilities, and differed maintenance began to accrue.  Time was spent loading the thing with groceries and camping supplies for two weeks in the mountains, feeding 12 kids and 8 adults.  The yearly “tune-up” was accomplished, but little things piled up.  After about 15 years of this, it had come to a point of catharsis.  I was no longer motivated to keep the boat up, the kids were gone, and it seemed to be reasonable to give the thing up and move on.

This is where the power of the pen turned my life around.  In blogging about marketing, it seems to serve well to include a personal story and this was such a time.  Publishing the lament felt as a result of this dilemma yielded an unexpected, but welcomed response.  A good friend read the post and responded with a question as to my willingness to take a partner.

The attraction was immediate, and for a different reason than was later revealed.  It was attractive to have someone else to share the work load, to share in the cost, and to provide some renewed energy towards the project.   What was not yet apparent to me was that this person was my perfect complement.  He has an attention to detail that I don’t exercise.  If asked the proper way to accomplish something it is usually quite simple for me to utter a detailed step-by-step procedure of the correct sequence of activities.  Does this mean that this is the way I would ever proceed?  Hell no!

A good example is the boat trailer.  It has been rusted from salt water, the lights were almost all out, and the surge breaks hadn’t worked in years.  My new partner Scott looked at it and made some comments regarding an obvious course of action.  The wheels needed to be taken off and greased, the wiring repaired, the boat taken off, and the trailer ground, sanded, and sandblasted down to bare metal before priming and re-panting.

Well duh.  I knew that!  Why then was my first conclusion that the most logical course of action was to either buy a new trailer or just scrap the thing?  The most amazing thing happened when we dug into the work.  At first Scott did everything.  Finally the shame was too great and I picked up the wire cutters and pitched in.  Within a couple of hours we were working along side-by-side like the pit crew at an Indy race.  Wheels were coming off, bolts greased, tires changed, new lights installed, road test successful;  all things that I knew how to do, but would never have taken the time to do by myself.

That boat is like a business.  All it took was a fresh perspective to make it feel new again.  If circumstances are such that a “partner” is not the solution, there are alternatives.  I belong to several “success” groups and “Meet-up’s” where we get together with other professionals and share perspectives.  Many ides and disciplines come from these meetings, and they help me not only to see things differently, but to focus on the actions that are agreeably correct, but might not have been my intuitive course of action.  Webinars, podcasts, and YouTube videos are also great sources of educational and inspirational material. I try to schedule at least 2 hours a week in these activities, and then make sure that I document what they taught.

There are several ways to take advantage of the knowledge and inspiration of others.  We don’t have to do this all alone!

 

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There is Nothing Like a Good Long Storm to Make You Appreciate The Sunshine

Joni Mitchell was right; you don’t know what you have till it’s gone.  The past couple of weeks it has rained pretty much nonstop.  I feel like we’re back in my wife’s hometown of Hazel Dell, a suburb of Portland.  Never knew how people could live there, too freeking rainy.  The big difference between here (San Francisco area) and there is that we get breaks between showers.  They can go for literally weeks without seeing the sun.

Today we had a break for a couple of hours and I took a walk.  There were kids out playing on their skateboards, women washing dogs, others taking walks or riding bikes.  It was like the old Chicago song:  Saturday, in the park… It felt just like the 4th of July.  All that was missing were the Mexican vendors with their push-carts full of ice cream.  It was T-shirt weather for that hour, even though the temperature read 49’.  In the sun it felt like we were back in Cabo San Lucas.  Funny, when we were down there I didn’t even go for a walk last time.  It seems as though we appreciate things when they are scarce, as the sun was today.

There is much to the texture thing.  Humans often don’t appreciate things without it.  Three years ago who would have thought that we would be ecstatic that the market was back up over 12,000?  When the Silicon Valley was in its “heyday”, a thousand dollar lunch bill just went into the Advertising and Entertainment budget.  Now Mary and I get excited by a free vendor dinner at the Fairmont.  There used to be secretaries and admins to do things like typing and filing.  The internet was a tool and emails were a means of communication, not a burdensome task to filter through in the morning.

Belt tightening can be a good thing.  People learn to do their own typing, publishing, and organizing.  It is a better head space for most of us to be responsible for all of our own actions instead of blustering through the day only to dump the follow-up on someone else’s desk.

Cigarettes used to be 50 cents, gas 29 cents a gallon and what did we do as a country?  More people died from tobacco than anything else, and the average car was a V-8 that got 8 miles to the gallon.  There was no concern for health, carbon footprint, global warming, or anything other than how much steak and potatoes we could fit into our bloated bodies.  Our businesses were every bit as bad.

The new era has brought about many changes:  My car is a Prius that gets 50 miles to the gallon, my office is a converted bedroom in my house, that (the house) is a tremendously downsized version of the one where my kids were raised (but it’s paid for), my business is on the internet helping other folks sell what they do, and my sirloin habit has been cut down from three days a week to once a month.

I actually appreciate it all now.  The walk in the sun, the occasional steak, that I can now type 50 words a minute, all came from necessity.  The contrast in life is what makes us appreciate what we have.

 

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Puddle Stompin’ in the Rain

I have always been a California boy.  I was born here, went to school here, worked here, and will most likely die here unless I am traveling at the time.

For some reason the women I have attracted have never been from California.  My first two wives were from Michigan and my current (and last) was raised in Oregon/Washington.   My sensibilities tend to gravitate towards football games, hot buttered rum drinks, and over-eating when the rains come.  This is obviously not too healthy, but the “rainy days” are few and far enough between that the lifestyle never gets too sedentary.  Of course ski trips and other “outward bound” trips break up the winter.  My skiing career started when I was 5, walking up the hills and skiing down.  The thing I never really embraced was the all day, grey day in March when there is no Football, Baseball is just in training, and BasetBall and  Hockey are not my favorites.

The  mother of my children, although we split up 7 years ago she is still a dear friend, was one of the Michi’ganders.  She was born in Kalamazoo, which is a name I have always loved just for the sound of it. “Tippy-canoe-and-Kalamazoo-Too.”

We had kidz.  We had great kidz; they were into everything.  They attended Adalante Spanish immersion school, the both got their kiddy black belts in Okinawa Karate, they played some music, held interests in teaching and journalism, partied like their parents, loved and helped people like their pastors, and were generally just great kidz.

This happens to be a very rainy day.  It somehow reminded me of some of the most wonderful things that my Michigan wife and I did with our Kidz.

There was an area down from where we lived in the hills, down by Middlefield “Little Mexico” where the fields were not as well grated, and there were big depressions in the turf, where huge lakes (at least 8”deep) would accumulate during a good rainfall. Kip (Mom) would dress the girls all up in their finest Muck-luk attire (boots, hoods, slickers, goggles, astro-hand-warmers, etc…) and we would head for the puddles.  It didn’t matter if it was raining 1” an hour at the time.  It also didn’t really matter how cold it was outside, but being California, it was usually still mid ‘60’s when we were out.

The real game plan was to totally drench everybody around you.  It didn’t matter that it was cold and wet, the action of the competition and play was such that nobody was ever cold.  There would be the unsuspecting girl (or Black Lab) standing way too close to a 6” puddle, and it was irresistible to jump in with both feet and splash the heck our of everything..   As the exhaustion became an aphrodisiac and the endorphins mixed with the lack of sensitivity to the cold, we became a bit bolder.  What were at first “foot- stomps” denigrated into full body slams into the cold rainwater.  When the splashes were insufficient, there was indeed (hate to say it as a dad) dunking involved.  There were side splashes, back splashes,   back lashes and amazing crashes.  There were times we brought our bikes, walked with spikes, floated tikes, it was all good.

The inevitable end to the day was to throw all the clothes (down to the undies) into a huge garbage bag, pile into the Astro Van (the best family vehicle we were ever exposed to until my wife decided we needed a leather lined Tahoe that got half the mileage and cost twice as much) and as hypothermia was beginning to take control, rolled back into the driveway of our Upland home.

Decontamination was efficient, concise, and incredibly poorly received.   Upon return home after this afternoon of excess mud and clayurnal bliss, the clean-up process at home was not popular.  There was the garden hose for the bulk of the mud, then the total strip search on the porch for the remainder of the mud.  Tubs were simultaneously run, and by the time the girls had recovered from the shock of the hoses and subsequent stripping, and were ready for the hot tub.  Not like we had a “HotTub” but the tub in their bathroom was by then, pretty inviting,

An hour later, dressed in their “onesies” or whatever attire was appropriate for their age, we were all snuggled in front of the fireplace.  We were always resplendent with the memories of the day, the wonderful feeling of having an athletic “outdoor” day, enjoying the contrasts in temperature,  the sheer excitement of the splashing and wallowing, and sharing the “Aprè” experience with our family.

Every time I see a puddle on the side of the road, I have to drive through it or stomp on it.

I love you, my girls!  Kayla, Kelsey, and Kippy

 

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You Have Me ALL WRONG!

You might, by now, have the impression that I will do virtually anything to get out of work.  You might think that I fabricate excuses to avoid long walks, heavy lifting, any event precipitating a line, shopping, listening to really long explanations of mundane things, etc.   (You get the idea.)

You might get the idea that I have little tolerance for fools (in my eyes of course) , controlling people (other than myself),  religions of any kind, lack of patience in others, and that I go overboard expressing my love for my children and my wife.

You might think that I have little patience for the likes of Rush Limbow, Bill O’Reily, and Howard Stern.  That I find their bombastic oratory inane and pedestrian.  Might even think that I enjoyed seeing our Black Irish president O’Bama verbally castrate O’Reily on national TV.

You might think that I feel that everybody deserves to love who the freek ever they want to. I don’t necessarily need to hear about how, where, and how often, but I also don’t feel the need to share that part of MY personal life either.

You might feel that I have an opinion that the Internet is both the best and worst thing to ever happen to mankind.

You might think that I cried when I thought the reactor in Japan had melted down.

You have me ALL WRONG!

I don’t go overboard expressing my love for my children and my wife.  They deserve every bit of it.

 

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If You Have Had Trouble Accessing a WordPress Blog…

Alexia Tsotsis Mar 3, 2011

You have no idea how hard it was to get this post up, as WordPress.com, our blog host, is currently under a denial of service attack. It’s been almost impossible to access the TechCrunch backend for the past 10 minutes (everything seems to be stable now) and users have been receiving a “Writes to the service have been disabled, we will be bringing everything back online ASAP” error message.

From the VIP blog post:

WordPress.com is currently being targeted by a extremely large Distributed Denial of Service attack which is affecting connectivity in some cases. The size of the attack is multiple Gigabits per second and tens of millions of packets per second.

We are working to mitigate the attack, but because of the extreme size, it is proving rather difficult. At this time, everything should be back to normal as the attack has subsided, but we are actively working with our upstream providers on measures to prevent such attacks from affecting connectivity going forward.

We will be making our VIP sites a priority in this endeavor, and as always, you can contact us via xxxxx@wordpress.com for the latest update. We will also update this post with more information as it becomes available

WordPress did not mention the origin of the attack (DDoS =! Anonymous) and I have contacted founder Matt Mullenweg for more information. WordPress.com currently serves 30 million publishers, including VIPs TED, CBS and TechCrunch, and is responsible for 10% of all websites in the world. WordPress.com itself sees about 300 million unique visits monthly.

Update: Automattic and WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg tells us that this is the largest attack WordPress.com has ever seen, and is likely to be politically motivated:

“There’s an ongoing DDoS attack that was large enough to impact all three of our datacenters in Chicago, San Antonio, and Dallas — it’s currently been neutralized but it’s possible it could flare up again later, which we’re taking proactive steps to implement.

This is the largest and most sustained attack we’ve seen in our 6 year history. We suspect it may have been politically motivated against one of our non-English blogs but we’re still investigating and have no definitive evidence yet.”

You can check here for the latest status updates.

Image via: blogohblog

Update 2: Looks like everything’s back to normal.

 

Monday morning wisdom

An old man once said …There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living!!! Thanks Doug for this!

 

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Parting With an Old Friend – Part Three; Daisy Mae of the Redwoods

It’s been twelve years now, it will be in the fall anyway, and it still chokes me up every time I think about her. For some reason loosing that dog hit me harder than either of my parents. Good grief, I literally have tears rolling down my cheeks writing this, and its freeking noon on a holiday and I feel fine.

My first wife loved Alaskan Malamutes. She was from Michigan and had had several in her youth, so the first thing we did after getting married was to go to a very reputable AKC breeder and grab ourselves a descendant of several grand champions. His name was Duke, and he was a gorgeous creature. Like many physically perfect human specimens he could also be a bit of a butthead. I remember him getting loose once when a friend was walking him and he wouldn’t respond to his own name, but when shouted at with the name “Asshole” he responded. Fitting. Actually he was a great and loving dog, and actually did put up with lots from the kids and eccentric parents.

We had this thing about dress-up. Still do come to think of it, but that is REALLY another story. While one dog is great, I have always had a tender spot for leaving a dog alone all day while we go to work and go about our lives. Having been an only child, I could relate to wanting a brother or somebody around all the time to play with, so one dog just wasn’t going to make it. I had always loved labs, although never had one. I set my mind on finding one, much against my wife’s urgings. Not being a patient person, it had to be “right now.” There was a breeder way up in the redwoods by Humboldt that had a litter ready for adoption so we piled in the van and made the trek up to the snow to get my puppy. Immediately upon arrival we were ushered into the den with the litter and this little scrawny runt came out of the back of the pen and stuck her nose in my face. That was it. She had picked us. My wife was aghast that it should be such, as she put it, a “magnificent creature.” Guess she was all about looks, but how wrong she ended up being. There was more heart in that little ball of fur than an elephant.

We brought her home and Duke took right to her. One of the first weekends we had together we brought them to Tahoe to one of those ski cabin rentals where 10 people slept in the loft and another 6 or so crammed the bedrooms and fold-out couch. I remember them all running and cavorting in the snow with Larry’s dog Eddie, named of course after his father !?! They loved the snow, the Malamute was right at home, and Daisy was up for anything. They used to run behind my van up in the hills after getting home from work. It was a good way to combine dad’s “quiet time” (read: happy hour) with a dog run. Thankfully there are loads of quiet mountain streets with almost no traffic. That little black puppy would run for miles, keeping up with the Malamute twice her size because she didn’t know any better.

Then came the summer and the aforementioned boat. Before we found our “Shangri-la” at Sly Creek we went places like Whiskytown and Lake Tulloch. Fuzzy had already taught Duke how to swim by tossing sticks in the ocean, but Daisy needed no external motivation. She took to the water like, well like a Lab takes to the water. Once when we had been out skiing for about an hour we returned to find that she had been trying to “retrieve” the anchor buoy the entire time and almost drowned herself in the effort. It happened to be tied to the anchor at the time.

As we progressed to the great camping lake mentioned so often in the previous two blogs, http://wp.me/pY9Fa-9v the dogs were in their element. They loved all the people, the freedom to wander, and the music and attention of the evenings. Only one consideration for a rowdy bunch of evening frolickers with a minimum level of sobriety: Beware the sleeping black dog at night! Poor Daisy claimed the balance (and usually beverage in hand) of many an unsuspecting camper. Duke and Daisy both loved the boat. Duke got a hair up his backside and jumped off in Whiskytown once about a mile offshore and insisted on swimming the way back. They both used to sit up in the bow with the wind blowing through their muzzles like some strange byzantine kazoo.

Duke also decided to go AWAL once on a long holiday weekend and we had to stay over an extra day to go bail him out of the doggy penitentiary in Redding. He was getting on in years for a big dog, and his hip dysplasia was making him more and more grumpy. He made the mistake of snapping at one of the babies one afternoon and was with his honorable ancestors about an hour later. It wouldn’t have been my choice at the time, but mama bear was not happy with a 150lb doggy snapping at a two year old.

Daisy gave us a scare the next summer at the lake. As always, things like bursted water heaters, broken axles, or animal emergencies, happen on weekend when there is nobody at work to help. We had piled kids, tubes, coolers, skis, and friends on the boat for the morning run and were ready to push off. As was customary there were the checks of lines, glance over the shoulder to see that nothing was behind us, and we started to back out of shore. No sooner than the prop was engaged we heard a piteous whine which caused me (thank God) to immediately kill the engine. Recognizing the source of the scream I reached into the water and hauled the 85lb dog onto the boat with one hand. Amazing what adrenalin will do. There was no “vet” open on a Sunday, so we really didn’t have anything that we could do but my Boy Scout first aid and keep her quiet. Benadryl is good for putting dogs asleep too! Later that day, thankfully, a county sheriff (a dog lover) shows up and put butterfly bandages on her arms and paws so that we felt better about her safety. Thank you God and Karma. Next morning I was in the truck and off to the vet to find that her injuries were such that her tendons were spared by about 1/16 of an inch. Daisy Mae rocks, and God was lookin out.

We had so many other wonderful experiences with her it would take months to document. God only knows what patience that dog had to exhibit on New Year’s Eve with Dad and Uncle Paul. I think we were trying to dress her up like a can-can dancer. My lasting impression of her is her loving patience, her devotion to me, her brother Duke, and most importantly my girls. She allowed them to put skirts on her, to sit on her, to pull her ears, to drag her around any physical object available; that dog had more patience than the kids mother and I had combined. I sincerely believe that was part of what made the “family” as centered and “normal” as it was. There were other things that contradicted both of those terms, but it certainly was not the dogs fault.

The last trip Daisy was to take to Sly was in 1999. We had a great time and she never failed to return the Frisbee and set herself for another toss. Ad infinitum. There was no lack of spunk in her step as she ran the campground searching for food. She was above all a loving sensitive… but LAB. She had a way about food, but didn’t hold a candle to her new sister “Oakley” who we will discuss later. There was no lack of enthusiasm in the attack of the lake and the Frisbee, nor that in the love of French fries she inhaled on the way home at “In and Out Burgers” in Davis. The only thing that we noticed was that for the first time she had become incontinent and “peed” herself while sitting on the cement in front of our favorite in-route stop (“In-and-Out” in Davis). With concern we proceeded home.

Over the next two days it became apparent the this was not an arbitration and that Daisy was winding down. She began to lie in a particular area on the side of the yard instead of her usual spot on the porch. It was bizarre, but we finally began to feel that she was choosing her place to die. The incontinence got worse, but she did her best to hide it from us. Her visits to the bush, and the restful spot she had chosen were more frequently.. The decision was somehow clear to me, my love – my little black soul-mate, had lived her years. I spent the next three nights on the porch with her crying my eyes out telling her every story I could remember; preparing her (bullshit, me) for the fact that she was going to be put down. I actually don’t really understand how it is that we think that we get to play God, but when it comes to animals it seems OK. Is it that our love is conditional? Oh jaez! My ex once said “the second she can’t make it up the stairs on her own, she’s gone.” Is that what we really want to do to the things that we love?

Anyway that is what we do to dogs, and in this case I was convinced that it was for her good. That would have been the only way I would have ever parted with Daisy. Our mobile pet doctor Petra Drake was called and responded immediately. She is a wonderful doctor and person. It made me feel much better that she was there. Daisy was laid in my lap, in front of the whole family, and given an injection that removed her spirit from this earthly vessel. Dr. Petra simply said “She is gone.” What a lovely setting for Daisy, and what a meaningful way to go out. By God’s infinite design, my great friend Martin (see previous blogs) arrived just then to say “Hi” and ended up helping me dig a grave for Daisy in the exact place that she had been frequenting for the past week.

There are no coincidences.

 

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Top 10 Shockers from the Republican War on Women

pol.moveon.org
From redefining rape to drastic cuts for health care, food assistance, child care, and more, Republicans are waging an all-out war on women. Check out the top 10 list and share widely today.
 

Parting With an Old Friend – Part Two

In town I had become great buddies with a few of the locals that saw us every summer for two weeks.  I had taken the kids into town to get ice, make phone calls to civilization, have a cold one, and most importantly play horseshoes.  We’d leave the ladies at camp (after mom and I retired to the cove to “bathe” – lots of great memories on that boat!) and motor into the little general store at Strawberry Valley. The horseshoe pit was right next to the store, adjacent to the “group W bench” where the local loggers and pot farmers would congregate every evening to drink and smoke.  The kids would eat their ice creams, I would have my beverage, and we would trade war stories about the Grateful Dead with the locals and chill.  Since the kids were little, they couldn’t reach the end of a regulation pit, so I let them back up a few feet and throw at the stake while I sat on one of the benches and threw from there.

Eventually the kids got to big to do that, my Grateful Dead buddy, “Digger,” died from sclerosis and it just wasn’t the same going into town any more.

Over the years the camping experience gradually began to decay, as did the condition of my boat, my marriage, and the kid’s relationships with each other.  My soul mate and faithful black lab Daisy made her last trip in 1999.  We had to put her down the week after we returned home.  I love our yellow lab, Oakley to death, but there will never be another Daisy Mae of the Redwoods.  She came into my life at a time I really needed a friend like her, and was the best friend to the kids as they were growing up.  That is a story in itself.

Some of the friends that used to be such great buddies with my girls (they used to put together a “show” for the adults that they would rehearse the entire week and then perform on the last night) became boring or irritating.  The great core of friends that we started out with in 1983 had gradually dwindled down.  Everybody moved out of the bay area, or had married people that had different tastes from the camping experience we used to enjoy.  A few got their own boats and just got on different schedules. The relatives that had once flocked to the shore tapered off and dried up altogether with the divorce.  I went up one last time with the Ex and her sister with the kids, and we had a great time just like the old days (without the “bath” run), but knew it would be the last for that group.

The next year we went up with my daughter Kayla, her boyfriend, his buddy Josh and my best friend and Brother Paul.  My new wife came up for the last weekend and we had a great time.  The kids had their own vehicle and started going their own way much of the time.  For the first time I was happy to stay on the beach and let them all go out on the boat and wakeboard.  They started taking their own little trips into the forest, leaving dad and Paul at camp, in other words growing up.

We had had quite a few great trips out on the bay.  We’d start .out at Oyster  Point, stop off at pier 39 in San Francisco, head through the sailboats at St. Francis Yacht Club and out through the Golden Gate bridge.  I never went very far out in the Ocean, although the boat does pretty well in seas up to about 6 feet after that it gets a bit nerve racking.  From there we would cruise past Sausalito and Tiburon over to Angle Island for lunch.  Once in a great while there was a stop at Zach’s for a cocktail, then back in the bay.  The return trip was a spin around Alcatraz Island, followed by a stop off at AT&T (PacBell) Park – Home of your WORLD CHAMPION SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS.  It’s great if there is an afternoon game on; you just anchor in McCovey cove and watch the game on the big screen while listening to it on KNBR.

There were a couple of trips (thankfully all with the “boys” where we had problems and had to be bailed out by the Coast Guard.  Once I even had to have a windsurfer off of Coyote Point radio in for help for us.  Another time we had to get towed into the base at pier 30 and walk to Western Marine to buy a battery.  All good adventure!

The year before last we got everybody up to camp and the boat wouldn’t start.  We spent literally days taking it into Oroville and picking it up only to put it back in the water and find it still broken.  When we got home I took it into a repair shop again, spent $2,300 on it and the guy let my daughter pick it up only to tell her it still needs more work.  He’s not sure how much it will cost because it entails a new gas tank, and the upholstery and trailer are shot.  I don’t have anything to pull the damn thing because the ex got the truck in the divorce.

Last year the campground at our Lake was closed, and my daughter was in Guadalajara teaching Spanish to the locals, so there was no trip.  This year it looks as if she will be going back, and our summer is getting booked with family reunions and the like.  The lake was getting too crowded anyway.  Since they doubled the size of the campground  there are all sorts of jet skis and wake boarders in the water anyhow.

The boat needs about $5,000 worth of work to make it “nice” again.  The kids are going their separate ways, and the old gang has disbanded.  It makes no sense to keep the boat.  Am I feeling this remorse because I just don’t like the fact that part of my life is gone forever?  The kids are grown, the friends are scattered, the lake is more commercial, and Diggers dead.  So is Jerry Garcia for that matter.

There are things that we do in our lives, our businesses, our relationships, that just don’t make any sense.  Am I chasing memories, or is it realistic that I can fix the thing up and enjoy it with my new friends, my new wife, my new in-laws, and my new nieces and nephews?  Can I really justify having that thing in my driveway 24/7/365 just for the few times a year we have these amazing experiences that I could never have any other way?

Hell, I’m only 57 and the house is paid for.  Screw it, you only go around once.  Like my good buddy Jesse says, “This is not a dress rehearsal.”  How am I going to take JC out fishing without a boat? How many people get to watch the Giants in McCovey cove?

Thanks for helping me make up my mind.  You have been a great listener, and it didn’t cost me $140 for a 50 minute hour.

 
 
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