The O K Corral Isn’t O K

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Despite my unintended efforts yesterday that seemed destined to sabotage a beautiful day, intermittently the kindness of others was enough to boost my spirits and set me in a healthy place emotionally. Abraham may have set out not knowing where he was going, but he managed somehow to become the father of the Israelite nation despite a blunder or two on his part. Seriously he could have jeopardized the whole shooting match. It pays to have God watching over you and being involved in the process.

 

Please don’t judge me as being sacrilegious, but yesterday’s prayer: “God, help me figure this out” didn’t get me a lot closer to proficiency in learning the use of Office 365. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming God. At this point, I’m not even sure Office 365 isn’t the work of other forces. I am also quite sure that I really didn’t pray: “God help me figure this out.” That was a strategic error on my part. I labored under the illusion that I could figure it out on my own. How’s that for the joke of the day? I could have used the outside help.

 

Day-before-yesterday I thought I was closer to having Office 365 figured out. Yesterday it was two steps backwards. I would say at this point that if I have things saved in the cloud, only God knows where to find them. I am fairly certain that I’ll never see them again. In fact, I’m not sure I want to see them again. Yep, it was that kind of day around the “O K Corral”.

 

Speaking of the “O K Corral”, it didn’t help my attitude any when I went out to my truck yesterday morning and noticed that the “O K Corral” around my house is no longer “O K”. I’m stretching the truth a bit here, but half of one side of my yard fence is bent over. O K, so maybe “half” is a substantial exaggeration, but large four legged animals don’t stop at much. That includes what once was an attractive fence. So do I say calf-rope (pardon the pun) and pay to have the whole thing taken down and something substantially stronger installed in its place?

 

I don’t yet know the answer to my own question. I’m still thinking. The current fencing around our home was selected because it went with the look that we wanted for the house. Using oilfield pipe with a three or four-inch diameter welded together to fashion a rail fence is going to look very different. I started to say “aesthetically awful”, but decided not to in the fear that you might have a fence like that. In addition, I’d have to rob a bank to pay for the materials and the labor to build that kind of fence. That sets up another scenario of a shoot-out at the O K Corral or Wells Fargo.

 

So why wouldn’t I just have the fence refurbished? It was only about a year ago that I had similar damage done to the fencing on the other side of my yard. I opted to have that damage repaired. Seriously, the damage was only about three hundred dollars, but it is frustrating. Of course, my frustration hasn’t risen to the place that I’m contemplating a real shoot-out at the “Not So O K Corral” around my home. However, I have heard the expression: “They shoot horses don’t they?”

 

Of course, shooting horses had some relationship to putting a horse out of its misery. It hasn’t really been that long ago that it was customary and merciful to shoot a horse with a broken leg. Veterinary medicine has improved a lot in recent years.

 

Besides that, not much good comes from a shoot-out. The famous gunfight that ensued at the O K Corral in Tombstone, Arizona lasted all of 30 seconds. The year was 1881, but the memory lives on. Reportedly only around 30 shots were fired. According to one source: “Though it’s still debated who fired the first shot, most reports say that the shootout began when Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton point-blank in the chest, while Doc Holliday fired a shotgun blast at Tom McLaury’s chest. Though Wyatt Earp wounded Frank McLaury with a shot in the stomach, Frank managed to get off a few shots before collapsing, as did Billy Clanton. When the dust cleared, Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers were dead, and Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded. Ike Clanton and Claiborne had run for the hills”.

 

I will leave it up to you to figure out who the good guys were. I’m going to side with the country song on this one as far as shooting horses is concerned: “Son, Don’t Take Your Guns To Town.” Consequently, the horses are safe. It’s not that they were intentionally destructive. It isn’t there fault that they previously looked at my shiny tough Ford truck and gnawed on the paint. Shucks, only a drug store cowboy would worry about something like that. A real buckaroo would write it off as good luck and a badge of being rugged. After all, it is just a truck. Did I mention that I had my truck fixed?

 

Let me mosey on to the kindness of others that reframed the day for me yesterday. It was noon before I got to the Post Office. No sooner had I parked my truck than I realized I didn’t have my post office key with me. I started to back out and just go back home, but I was also mailing books to my cousin with whom I reconnected day-before-yesterday. Consequently, I gave it a second thought and went on into the post office.

 

Mercifully, there wasn’t much of a wait. The young man behind the counter asked: “How’s your day going?” I responded: “It would be much better if I hadn’t forgotten my key to the post office box.” He asked: “What’s your box number and do your have your diver’s license”. Miracle of miracles, I actually remembered the box number and I had my driver’s license. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to ask for that kind of help.

 

I told him up front that I was mailing books. He asked: “Do you want to ensure them?” I laughed and said: “I wrote them so they can’t be worth much”. A kind lady overhearing the conversation interjected: “If you wrote them, then they are worth a lot.” Her kindness boosted my spirits greatly. I thanked her for her kindness and told her I also write a daily blog. She asked for the blog address and promised to check-it out.

 

My neighbors insisted Sunday that they take me to dinner last night. That too, proved to be most enjoyable. It helped erase away some of the afternoon frustration associated to Office 365.

 

When I got home following dinner, I opened an email. It was from my cousin’s daughter that I had reconnected with months ago through ancestry.com. She sent me a note: “I don’t know if you’ve seen this picture of your mother or not, but I found it on ancestry.com”. It was a class picture taken at the school in Forestburg. The picture identifies the students by row. My mother is on the first row in the center. I don’t know how old she was at the time. The picture didn’t identify the grade level. But seeing it was a “feel good” moment for me.

 

All is well in my world even if the O K Corral isn’t so O K. The owner is and that’s all that really matters.

 

All My Best!

Don

 

Somewhere In Time

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Several months ago, a match on ancestory.com paired me with the daughter of a paternal cousin that I had not seen in several years. My dad’s family was a small family and for a portion of our lives we grew up as neighbors. I guess you could say in our early years, we lived in the family compound or at least on the same street. Our house number was 512; my grandparents were at 514 and my uncle’s house was 516. Wow! That was a long, long time ago.

 

My uncle and his family subsequently moved to Lubbock. Actually, during the course of his life, he and his family lived in lots of different places. He was a builder and worked primarily building commercial real estate. I remember when Johnny Cash and June Carpenter released their country hit: “If I Were A Carpenter.” It was a good sound, but I remember my uncle wasn’t a fan.

 

Of course, I can understand why. The lyrics of the song carried the connotation that there was something less than honorable about being a carpenter. What other explanation could you construe from: “If I were a carpenter and your were a lady, would you marry me anyway? Would you have my baby?”   If that wasn’t enough, add: “If I worked my hands in wood, would you still loved me?” I can see how a person whose trade was that of a carpenter would be a little miffed at the lyrics. It does sound somewhat denigrating.

 

Late yesterday afternoon I received a Facebook request from my uncle’s daughter. At least, I thought it was my uncle’s daughter. The three-word name on the invitation to be Facebook friends included the name “Rebecca”. I immediately accepted the invitation and with a smile on my face responded: “That’s not really your name. Your name is ‘Mary Claire Melvina Rebecca Jane’.

 

As it turned out, the invitation wasn’t from my cousin “Becky”, but from her second oldest daughter. It was her oldest daughter that I had connected with through Ancestry.com. Annette laughingly responded to the name I had tossed back in her direction: “That’s not my name. That is the name you always call my mother.” She also mentioned that her sister had told her about my daily blog and she thought she’d enjoy reading it. Okay, so that, too, was music to my ears.

 

The name “Mary Claire Melvina Rebecca Jane” took me back in time. I don’t remember the year, but I was traveling with my uncle and his family to see my grandparents who, too, had moved away at the beginning of my high school years. It is strange the things you remember.

 

We stopped for lunch or dinner at a café in Jacksboro, Tx. I think it was lunch, but I don’t really remember. You know the kind of café I’m talking about. They have all but disappeared from the landscape of places to eat. There was a large jukebox in the restaurant and each table had a device where you could select a song for a dime or three for a quarter. You sorted through the available songs by simply “turning the page” so to speak of the selection play list.

 

That was back in the day when “country music” was the only venue of music I listened to if I had a choice. I grew up listening to country music. None of us had a musical bone in our body and we had absolutely no musical ability. The one thing we shared was enjoyment from listening to music.

 

I am a sucker for a sale. I always have been. Three songs for a quarter in the jukebox seemed like a bargain to me. Why not? One of the three songs I selected was a song sung by Eddie Arnold. I had never heard the song before and I have never heard it since, but the title of the song has stuck with me well over half a century. The title of the song was   “ Mary Claire Melvina Rebecca Jane”.

 

From that day forward, I have always called my cousin by that name. I guess you could say it has a musical ring to it, but as I recall, it wasn’t the kind of song you latch on to and can’t let go. However, the title of the song stuck with me.

 

Before the day ended yesterday, I had also become a Facebook friend with my cousin, Mary Claire Melvina Rebecca Jane. I treasure the contact. The simple memory of family times together during our growing up years and times shared together at my grandparents home in Forestburg fill me with a sense of delight. I miss those times. They were good times, but they are forever captured in the resources of my mind.

 

It is nice to have the renewed connection with Mary Claire Melvina Rebecca Jane.

 

All My Best!

Don

Father’s Day 2017

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Father’s Day 2017 was a good day for me. For starters, it was a Sunday.  I had gotten home late the evening before from a wedding in Houston, but invested the time to jot down a few things I wanted included in my Father’s Day message before I went to bed.  I purposefully didn’t set the alarm.  I figured my body would tell me when it was time to get up. The night before I had exercised the same logic and I had slept for over nine hours. I don’t remember anytime in the last forever that I’ve slept that long, but it felt good to be able to sleep.

 

Sunday morning, I checked my watch for accuracy. I had been retired from my day job for just over 17 days.  This was the beginning of day eighteen.  Already, I had made tremendous progress in learning to relax and simply giving myself permission not have to come up with the right answer for every problem presenting itself for resolution. Empathy comes easily for me, but there are limits on what I can control. Truth be told, that has always been the case. I have absolutley no control over anything that ultimately really matters.

 

The remaining church work is more therapeutic than anything else. It has provided me a lifeline over the past forever because it routinely forces me to focus on things that matter most as a balance to some of the other priorities that have consumed my time. Yesterday’s message focused on two things: God’s love and my Dad’s love. I highlighted my discovery of how they blended in to one and the same. The thoughts shared came easily for me and when my time was done, I sensed the message was well received. 

 

We’ve all heard the expression: “Like father/like son”. More often than not, that plays itself out the way Jim Croce describes it in his song: “The Cats In The Cradle”:

 

“A child arrived just the other day,

Came to the world in the usual way,

But there were planes to catch

And bills to pay, he learned to walk while I was away

He was talking before I knew it and as he grew

He said I’m going to be like you Dad,

You know I’m going to be like you.

 

And the cat’s in the cradle, and the silver spoon,

Little Boy Blue, and the Man in the Moon,

When you coming home son, I don’t know when

We’ll get together then, you know we’ll have a good time then…

 

My son turned 10 just the other day,

Said thanks for the ball now c’mon let’s play

Will you teach me to throw, I said not today,

I’ve got a lot to do, he said that’s ok

And he walked away and he smiled and he said

You know I’m going to be like you, Dad,

You know I’m going to be like you…

 

He came from college just the other day,

So much like a man I just had to say,

I’m proud of you, won’t you sit for a while

He shook his head and said with a smile,

What I’m feeling like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys

See you later can I have them please…

 

I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away

I called him up just the other day

I’d like to see you, if you don’t mind

He said I’d love to Dad, if I could find the time

You see my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu

But it’s sure nice talking you Dad, it’s been real nice talking to you.

 

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me

He’d grown up just like me, my boy was just like me.

 

And the cat’s in the cradle, and the silver spoon,

Little Boy Blue, and the Man in the Moon,

When you coming home son, I don’t know when

We’ll get together then, you know we’ll have a good time then”.

 

 

Of course, I threw in some other antidotes including one author’s confession that when his children were very young, he focused on all the wrong things.  Patrick Morley shared in his book, “Man in the Mirror” that when his children were toddlers, he was always uptight about the new scratches that showed up almost daily on their coffee table. He writes, “This was a real point of contention with my wife, who could care less about such matters. My blood boiled when I spotted a new nick in the luster of the smooth-grained wood. Finally, Patsy couldn’t take it anymore and said, ‘You leave my children alone! I’ll not have you ruining a million-dollar child over a $300 table!”

 

That at least gives you something to think about. In the interim, while I’m thinking, my grandchildren aren’t going to eat in my truck. For that matter neither is their Gram.

Following the service, a thoughtful church member shared with me as she made her way out the door: “Don, that was one of your best sermons.”  I couldn’t take credit for any of it. I simply had the privilege of writing it down as the thoughts crossed my mind. I had the sense that I had honored both God and my Dad with the morning message. I don’t always have that kind of affirmation, but yesterday it felt right.

 

All was well in my world. Following church, I opted to make hospital visits.  I smiled later in the day when the husband of one of the patients I visited in ICU sent out an email blast providing an update on his wife’s medical progress to the 55 people who are blind copied on the distribution list.  He signed off with the funny notion: “…reporting live for (name of the patient) news network…we now return you to your normally scheduled programming…

 

Ps. I did smuggle Pastor Don in today while the staff wasn’t looking to lead us in prayer – but don’t tell the hospital administration- I might get sent to detention or have to wash dishes in the cafeteria or something and they only use paper plates everyone throws away so that could get a bit tricky…”

 

Reading his notation not only put a smile on his face, but also affirmed for me how blessed I am to have the privilege to be involved in the lives of others.  That experience greatly enriches my life well beyond my deserving.

 

Andrea and Kevin had invited me for a Father’s Day meal later in the day. It turned out to be an exceptional meal, but then again, that is their signature trademark. There were a couple of things about our evening discussion that gave me pause for concern.  Crediting it as a God thing, they mentioned a conversation they had shared with someone the day before.  By happenstance or as they inferred Divine providence, they had a meaningful conversation with a volunteer at Austin Pets Alive.  Simply referencing a dog shelter gave me pause for concern, but the conversation moved on and I didn’t ask.  Besides that, if they opted for a third dog, I really didn’t have a say in the matter. After all, Andrea’s brother has four dogs.  Crazy isn’t it?

 

Later in the evening Andrea asked if I’d like to watch a show about a talking dog. She had mentioned the series to me before. I think it is “Downward Dog”.  The mention of a dog show brought back my earlier concern.  So before we watched the talking dog on television, I wanted to make sure we were on a level playing field and that there was no misunderstanding.

 

I said: “Tell me more about your visit to Austin Pets Alive”. So it really was none of my concern, but on the outside chance that they were shopping for Gram a new dog, I wanted to make it clear that was not an option. I am even more adamant about that than I am about my grandkids not eating in my truck.  Neither is going to happen in my lifetime.

 

As it turns out, Austin Pets Alive is one of the non-profit charitable organizations that Kevin regularly supports. They were onsite at the invitation of the organization. It had nothing to do with Gram or a new dog.


Like I said, “Mine was a perfect Father’s Day.”

 

All My Best!

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Don

Cadence Count: “One, two, three, four…sound off”

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I generally don’t pay that much attention to the calendar. The days come and go in such rapid succession that it is like having to keep up with the swift movement of a cadence count. You know the drill: “One, two, three, four …sound off.” Whether voluntary or otherwise, most of us plod along to the rhetorical beat and quick time rhythm of life without fully processing the steps we take.

 

Somehow we manage to go the distance. For most of us that has never been the issue. Getting from point A to point B isn’t the problem. The problem is that we often don’t take advantage of simply enjoying the experience. We live our lives as though we are regimented to carve out seven minutes for a fast food lunch and we race throughout the day as though we are going to a fire.

 

For example, to prove my point, let me ask it this way: “What do you most remember about yesterday?” What treasured gift did you glean along the way that added contentment and fulfillment to your life?” Perhaps a better question than that is, “Whose life was touched by yours? Did the connection add quality and joy to both of your worlds?”

 

This isn’t rocket science. It is simple enough that all of us have the capacity to get it, but somehow we routinely miss it. Truth be told, that is one of the reasons I carve out the time daily to write something down. I don’t want to live life up without at least taking the time to notice where I’ve been and where I’m headed.

 

I’ve learned through the act of writing that it is better for me to dedicate a couple of hours a day to chronicling a memory or thought. That ensures that I devote some time thinking about the topic or experience. The time shared in giving it thought is of value to me.

 

Like I said, “I don’t pay a lot of attention to the calendar.” Consequently, the fact that I remembered the significance of today is almost unprecedented. Today, June 15th, is our 49th wedding anniversary. Where did the time go?

 

Day-before-yesterday, when we lived in the other house in Henly, Treva and I bought a grandfather clock to commemorate our 12th wedding anniversary.  It doesn’t seem that long ago, but it was a lifetime ago. Andrea was one year old at the time. Today she is 36. How could that be possible? Of course, Craig was twelve and today he is 45. I won’t even begin to mention Treva’s age or mine. All I can say is that the grandfather clock has held up well.

 

For both of us, the grandfather clock is probably the one item most cherished by either of us in our home. There is something about the chiming of a clock that adds a flare of warmth and coziness to a home.

 

I’ve often said that I married way above my pay group. That is obvious to even the most casual of observers. Treva has it mostly all together and I’m mostly still a work in progress. Somehow, she hasn’t given up on me and she’s willing to go the distance.

 

Across the years, the things I valued and loved most about Treva when we were first married haven’t changed. She is still the same person I married a lifetime ago. And yet, it is also true that she isn’t at all the same person I married a lifetime ago. I like her better now than I did way back then.

 

In my arrogant stupidity, I will take credit for having taught her a lot. For one thing, during the first several years of our marriage, Treva hated to go shopping. Consequently, I purchased all of her clothing. You probably think I’m making this up, but it’s true. Do you remember Scarborough’s Department Store on Congress Ave and Sixth Street in downtown Austin? I shopped often for her at that location.

 

I don’t actually remember the year that the tide shifted, but trust me, the General no longer no has an aversion to shopping. She’s gotten it down to a fine art form.

 

If Treva were contributing to this posting, she’d probably tell you that she’s taught me a lot as well. She’d hasten to add that I am a very slow learner. We’ve learned from each other. Despite the distance we’ve come, we are still as different as night and day and yet, we’ve never been more alike. I just read those two sentences over twice. It sounds like a contradiction, but it is 100% factual.

 

It is almost uncanny; I know what she’s thinking before the words come out of her mouth. Even if I’m in the midst of doing what she wants me to do, she’s still going to verbalize the request. And yes, that makes me a little crazy.

 

She will tell you that my procrastination makes her a little crazy. I never miss a deadline, but I am also a fan of the last minute. That’s just the way I roll. She’ll never understand it, but if we agreed on everything, can you imagine how boring life would be?

 

At the end of the day, when push comes to shove, Treva is my greatest fan. She freely offers the gift of encouragement. She also mixes that with a lot of other advice, but I glean out the things that work for me and I don’t always pay attention or so she says.

 

Our life is good. It has worked well for the two of us and I am looking forward to going the distance. Since she doesn’t need me to shop for her clothing, I may pick up some ear plugs hunters use when hunting.  That way I can enjoy the volume on my car radio while she muffles out the sound. If you believe that, I’ve got ocean front property for sale in Arizona.

 

It was Browning who said: “Come and grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” I’ll offer that same invitation to Treva except that I’m fairly resistive to the concept of getting old.

 

All My Best!

Don

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location, Location, Location

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They say it rains on the just and the unjust.  At various times it probably could be said that I fall into both categories. Our lawn is currently green and lush, so I’m not complaining, but we’ve missed some really good chances for rain.  The man who has taken on the responsibility of maintaining our lawn has done a tremendous job.  He is a perfectionist and his rate is very affordable.   He actually does a much better job than I’ve ever done. Consequently, I don’t plan to go back.  Why should I “sweat it” since he’s set a higher standard and seems to enjoy the process.  Interestingly, his own lawn is xeriscaping and it purposefully doesn’t take up much of his time.

Last year when the General had half of our lawn replaced with river rock, I opted to get rid of our lawnmower.  It was taking up too much room in the well house.  I also tossed my old weed eater and bought a new one. I used it one time, loaned it to a friend who found that it didn’t work, and put it back without resolving the issue of its brokenness.  I mean after all, it is still in warranty, but getting it repaired is such an inconvenience.  I’ve only been to the SEARS repair center one time and that was thirty years ago.  I truthfully don’t even remember where it is located, but it was a long way from where I live.

Getting back to the rain, a couple came to church yesterday and their car had literally been through hail. The car was covered with huge dents.  I guess I needed the visual imagine to really process the level of damage that hail can cause.  Reportedly, a portion of Dripping Springs incurred golf-ball size hail one evening last week.  In case you’re wondering, that causes a lot more damage than the nickel and dime stuff.

I guess when it comes to a hailstorm; it is a lot like the real estate market. It gets back to location, location, and location.  The only variable is where you are at the time.  Hail is no respecter of persons.  If you find yourself in its path, brace yourself for the damage it can cause.  You literally have no option but to ride out the storm.

Reportedly, many who found themselves in the hail headed for the closet bank to safely park under the portico extending over the drive-in banking location.  Wouldn’t you know it? Everyone had the same idea and most didn’t find save cover. Consequently, there are dented cars in Drippin’.  Fortunately, mine is not one of them, but only because I wasn’t in that location at the time.

It is interesting that when bad things happen, someone always wants to assign some level of blame.  Sometimes people point the accusing finger  to themselves.  If only I hadn’t done this or that, I wouldn’t be dealing with this…  You can play that game out and to the nth degree and it doesn’t alter one’s circumstances or situation at the end of the day.  The blame game isn’t a silver lining that leads anywhere other than an attitude of regret unless it carries with it a lesson learned that leads to life-altering change.  Then it may be worth the price of admission.

Living under the auspices of blame and shame doesn’t often add quality to one’s life.  I’d much prefer to think each day is an opportunity to hit the reset button and with the Lord’s help choose to do it differently. 

I recently visited with a young man at the hospital who said with a smile on his face something closely akin to: “My days of drinking, wild-ways and running around are over”.  I had the thought: “Good for him!”  Yet, I’ve known the guy a long, long time and I wouldn’t have described his lifestyle as being filled with any of those things.  Back in the day when he prided himself on being a “wild bull rider who liked to rodeo”, maybe I would have been in agreement, but not now.

Fortunately, he has come to the place where he can live and learn, but I’m not sure it was a lesson he could have learned earlier.  Maybe he should have known better, but I’m not sure without last week’s wake-up call, many of us would have gotten it.  Even though he previously was forewarned by his doctor, he precipitously and unexpectedly found himself in harm’s way. 

Though he was fully alert last week, he was moved from his hospital room to the intensive care unit with a blood sugar level of over 500.  He knew something wasn’t right, but he didn’t know he was diabetic. 

The year before the doctor mentioned a “pre-diabetic condition” and suggested a dietary and life-style change.  The young man processed the information in exactly the same way that many of us would.  He saw it as “cautionary and suggested” rather than a life and death mandate.

This time, there was nothing cautionary or suggested about the doctor’s warning. It was a mandate and it effectively garnered his attention.  Just hearing the mandate made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. 

The doctor’s pronouncement was grim. Without an immediate and abrupt lifestyle change, there were three things the young man could count on: damage to his kidneys, damage to his extremities and damage to his vision.  All three were at risk.

Some may question the doctor’s bedside manner, but the physician was on a roll.  There was more to the warning on the off-chance that his mandate for a life style change weren’t followed: “In all likelihood, the kidneys would be first to go. Consequently, the young man could count on coming to the hospital three times a week for dialysis”. The doctor wasn’t finished.  “Next, we’ll start cutting off your legs and someone will be pushing you in a wheel chair to get you to dialysis.  Next you’ll lose your vision and you won’t even known where you are, but someone will still be pushing you in a wheelchair to get you to dialysis.”

So what are the young man’s choices?  If you’re thinking: “Get a new doctor”, that doesn’t really change the game plan.  I’d turn to God and ask for the perseverance and stamina to go the distance in making dietary and life-style changes.  Seriously, I think he has done that, but the journey is far more difficult than one might think.  Consequently, please remember my anonymous friend in your prayers.  I know that he would appreciate the prayer support. 

All My Best!

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Don

Birthday Paradox

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When it comes to probability and statistics, I figure most of that is a left-brain function and I’m pretty much mostly in my right mind. Consequently, with me it all becomes a guessing game. Last Sunday at church, a lady named Janet asked: “Did you see the flower beds?” How could I not? We were both standing outside not twenty feet away from one of them. So was she fishing for a compliment? Janet is the person that painstakingly has planted, cared for and maybe even prayed that the flowerbeds would flourish. Whatever she’s done, it is working. They look fantastic!

 

Honestly, it has been an amazing transformation. Janet has a green thumb, but she seemed a little distraught. Pointing to the beds she asked: “Did you notice the tracks?” The General says that I don’t pay attention. Maybe she’s right. Until the Janet mentioned tracks, I hadn’t noticed the layers of mulch surrounding the plants were uniformly uneven. Something obviously had been in the flowerbed.

 

I asked, “So do you think it was deer?” I’ve never thought about it before now, but the term deer can be used as either singular or plural. The use of the term can mean either. For that matter, the same is true of the word fish or sheep. I guess technically adding “s” to the word deer is grammatically correct, but I’ve never heard it done. The term deers sounds strange rolling around in my head.

 

So for that matter, my left-handed suggestion that the culprit invading the sanctity of the flowerbed was a deer was way off-track (pardon the pun). Janet shook her head “No”. She didn’t believe for a moment that deer or deers was or were responsible. Until the sound of the word “armadillo” rolled off the tip of her tongue, I was at a loss. Once she mentioned armadillo, I intuitively knew that Janet was right. She’s the kind of gal you’d want to take tracking with you. I’d be absolutely no help in coming up with the right answer.

 

Just so you know that I have a destination in mind for my morning (late morning blog – I’m retired now) , I wondered about the term beer. Is beer singular or plural? I don’t know the answer, but regardless of the number, I don’t want any. I tasted beer in college and learned it is obviously an acquired taste. I guess the same is true of whiskey mixed with Kool-Aid. I tried that in college as well and found it equally unpalatable .

 

With that as a backdrop, you’ll probably be surprised to know that I invited the General to go with me to happy hour yesterday. Why not, from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. through the workweek, Jack Allen’s has a 50% off special on their appetizers. I had no interest in the beer (for that matter, I don’t know if the happy hour discount applies to that or not), but the chunky Queso is a tasty bargain at that price.

 

Besides that, the 3:00 – 7:00 discount is available to anyone ordering an appetizer. It is not reserved as a senior discount. Did I mention, I don’t look for opportunities to cash-in on a senior discount? A retired friend suggested that we meet at McDonalds for coffee with the notation that the coffee is free for seniors. Thanks but no thanks! While I’d enjoy the coffee and the conversation, I’m not a fan of McDonalds. I don’t need access to the playground. Besides that, Mazama Coffee Company is the “happening place” in Drippin’ to meet for coffee. I’m not going to become one of those old man who hang out anywhere for a free this or that just because I’m old. Thanks, but no thanks!

 

So the General and I made it into Oak Hill for happy hour at Jack Allens yesterday afternoon. Miracle of miracles, we even found a place to park. I’m hearing impaired and I didn’t fully catch the name of the waiter? Consequently, I repeated “Keith” back to him. Is that spelled with a “k” I asked. All I heard was the “eith”. He smiled and repeated his name back to me. He added, whenever I tell anyone my name over the phone, they think I’ve said: “Pete”. I really try to enounce it clearly. That was good enough for me, “I promised to call him Keith unless I messed up and called him Charles. He laughed and said, “If you get confused, just ask for the guy with the beard.”

 

I later noticed two other waiters through the window on the patio who had beards, so I called Charles (I mean Keith) to task. He smiled and said: “I’m the only waiter working inside that has a beard”. That led to a discussion of the “birthday paradox”. Keith mentioned that he learned about the birthday paradox from one of his college professors. I, too, went to college, but maybe that was before the “birthday paradox” was a topic for discussion. I was clueless.

 

So Keith asked: “How many people do you need to have in a room before you have a 100% chance that someone else in the room has the same birthday? Maybe I had a puzzled look on my face. He added: “This is the easy one.” Since I had been eating Queso and not drinking beer, I didn’t blurt out an answer. Consequently, Keith answered his question for me. He was right. It was a simple answer: “366 people in the room.”

 

It didn’t take long for the birthday paradox to get a little over my head. All you have to do is throw out the term “bell curve” and I’m out of the game. By-the-way, Keith used the term. However, he couldn’t remember the exact answer for the number of people needed in a room for there to be a 99.9% chance that two people would have the same birthday. He threw out the number 32 and I was at a loss. Go figure, I can’t. That is a left-brain function.

 

It later occurred to me that I now know why Keith is serving Queso in a restaurant and not working the numbers game. He was wrong about needing only 32 people to have a 99.9% chance of two people having the same birthday. If you believe what you can find on Google, you need 75 people in the room to have a 99.9% chance. Of course, you reportedly only need 23 people in a room to have a 50% chance.

 

For me to sort it out, I’d have to be hardwired differently. I’m not going to waste my brain power looking for the answer. The one thing I know for sure is that the General and I shared the Queso and we got twice as much. So now you’re confused. You thought I said it was 50% off. It was, but it was so good that we opted to order a second order. Consequently, we ended up getting twice as much, but for the regular price.

 

All My Best!

Don

IT IS NOT AS SIMPLE AS IT SOUNDS

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Yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life. Several folks asked on Wednesday what my agenda looked like for Thursday.   What I discovered is that being newly retired is a lot like having a birthday. There really wasn’t an appreciable difference. Apart from sleeping in a little later, there were things on my unwritten “to do list” that had to be addressed. Consequently, it wasn’t a day totally filled with leisure.  I am not quite to the “Life of Riley” phase.

 

A friend from Round Rock was working in Dripping Springs yesterday. Learning earlier in the week that he was going to be in the area, we planned to meet for lunch. He mentioned that the last time he was in Dripping Springs his venue for lunch proved something other than enjoyable. For starters, he said the meal wasn’t nearly as good as he anticipated it would be and the service was sadly lacking.

 

The most troubling thing about the lunch was what he observed as he was leaving the restaurant. There was a young man slumped over face down on a table. An ambulance was parked in the portico just outside the front door. One of the ambulance attendants rushed back to the ambulance to get rubber gloves and commented in his hearing: “I can’t get vital signs.”

 

As it turned out, that was the same restaurant I would have recommended for lunch yesterday. Consequently, I suggested instead that he come to my home. I’d fix lunch. You guessed it. I grilled steak for the second consecutive meal along with a side of grilled corn on the cob and grilled asparagus. If anything, in my humble opinion, it was a meal fit for a king.

 

The thing that made the meal remarkable was the company and the conversation. The guy isn’t professionally in what you’d typically think of as a human services delivery occupation, but he delights in opportunities to help others in lots of different venues and circumstances. I’ve also observed that he makes his servant leadership look amazingly easy. The guy is always smiling and seldom seems rattled over much.

 

We talked of many things over lunch and as is always the case, when you are in the midst of meaningful conversation there is never enough time. He had a mid-afternoon work commitment in Georgetown. Noticing my watch, I told him he needed to hit the road. I’m a seasoned commuter and I know it always takes a lot longer than you might anticipate.

 

The General has trained me well. Before I could get back to computer time and fulfilling some responsibilities in that regard, I needed to clean the kitchen. I noticed that the “high-end kitchen faucet” was set to sprayer mode. I’m sure I’d used it as such when I gave the kitchen sink the final rinse the evening before. I pressed the little black button for the normal flow of water and nothing happened. Surprisingly no water was coming out of the faucet. I subsequently pressed the button to return back to the sprayer mode. Guess what? “No water was coming out of the faucet at all. And just for the record it wasn’t because I had inadvertently turned off the faucet.

 

I immediately had a panic attack. I had tried my hand and home improvement when we replaced the faucet last time. The lady who waited on the General and I at Home Depot assured us that anybody could install the faucet. She had recently done so at her home and “if she could do it, anyone could do it”.

 

I took the bait and for a period of about four hours and another trip back to Home Depot to buy a special tool needed for installation, I did everything but stand on my head before the faucet installation was completed. I remember the experience well. I will never do it again!

 

At any rate, I opted to unscrew the faucet sprayer from the faucet. It was a simple process just like the one pictured above. This was going to be easy. I’d just make a quick trip to Home Depot and buy a new sprayer. The concept seemed valid, but it was all magical thinking on my part. “Sure, you can order a new one on-line if you know the model number, but we don’t carry them in the store”, were the disturbing words shared with me by the helpful employee of the store. He went with me over to look at the display of Moen faucets and wrote down a model number that probably would be closest.

 

He asked, “How old is the faucet”. I replied, “I don’t know, we’ve had it a long time.” What was I thinking? We haven’t had it a long time. I know that because I blogged about the experience of installing the last one. Actually, the General was so proud of me for the accomplishment that she thought I could single-handily take on replacing the hot water heater the following week when it went out.

 

For the record, I wasn’t that gullible. I knew I couldn’t do that! Consequently the plumber that came out to do the work, took one look of the hot water heater and stated to the General that the “CODE” had changed and several modifications needed to be made including electrical work and who knows what else. I never dreamed you could spend over $1,600 replacing a hot water heater, but if memory serves me correctly we did.

 

The guy at Home Depot said of the Moen faucet: “We can sell you a new one. It’s just a little over $400.” I smiled and said: “Thanks but no thanks! I was a sucker for believing anyone could install one last time. I’m not going there again.” He laughed and said: “I know what you mean. I wouldn’t take on a project like that either.”

 

Later I thought again about his question: “How old is it?”  I vaguely remember some reference to a warranty when we bought the last one. At this point, the kitchen faucet is inoperable. Will I get it repaired? Only time will tell.

 

At any rate, last night I invested several hours on the computer. Before I called it a night, I complied some information I had promised to send to a friend before the end of the day.  I looked at the clock. It was five minutes to midnight. I was going to be true to my word.  Just as I was reaching for the send button after attaching the document to my email, the notation came up “Server Not Found”.  Okay, so I invested another fifteen minutes looking for it only to discover, I could not get back online.

 

Today an air conditioner crew is coming to replace the air conditioner in our bedroom. That too, will be problematic because the attic in our bedroom is sequestered from the other areas of access in our home. They will have to enlarge the available space to we currently have in the ceiling of our bedroom closet in order to get a new unit in place.

 

This could be the beginning of a “No good, terrible, no good day.”

 

All My Best!

Don