Monthly Archives: July 2013

After five plus years, the pool table has come down : (

For five years, we’ve stood around this pool table and pushed the balls around the table and talked and watched the mesa turn red with the sunset and just generally been very glad to be alive and in such a beautiful place. That life is gone, and so – now – is the pool table.


tabledownMy reaction to this is sadness. But I am glad that the guy taking it away is giving it to some friends, some folks who’ve hit some troubles, but enjoy the game of pool – he thinks it will bring some joy to their lives. So that’s a goodness!

Sorta the same way with The Chocolate House – I have some sadness about letting it go. But the folks who are moving in here are so excited – they were all crying together with Ethel when they made the offer. So the Chocolate House isn’t being bought by some investor who wants to turn it over to make some money – it’s being bought by people who want to live in it, and who already love it. So who cares whether it’s us enjoying it, or them? The important thing is the enjoyment. The “us” issue is called “self-centeredness”. The amount of joy in the world will be the same, regardless of the recipients : )

Well, the talks are winding down. I got an offer last week from a great group at a huge company – I would gladly have taken that offer at that time, but I had some other items in the works – some of which involved referrals from friends I’ve worked with before to their current companies. I thought that those conversations should play out – just to keep good faith with those friends, if nothing else.

One of them has come to naught (I won’t be going to Seattle. Ethel can breathe a sigh of relief now ) It looks like two of them are resulting in opportunities – both in Salt Lake – and the third isn’t settled yet – that would be a consulting gig, where I would be flying around the country showing people how smart I am.

(That one is a long shot : )

I really don’t know how much longer we will be here. We are packing. As soon as the job thing is settled, I ‘spect that we’ll head out  – “Shrek and Donkey, off on another whirl-wind big-city adventure!” We are supposed to go on vacation on Isla Mujeres for the last two weeks of August, and at least two of these gigs have taken that into account. (but, of course, I’m  not going to miss the right opportunity to save a pair of plane tickets : )

These are wonderful opportunities. They aren’t the choice between “Dishwasher in New Jersey” and “Newspaper delivery in New Jersey”. Any of them would be just fine by me.

My current job is not to decide. My current job is to find out what He would have me do. Where will I be of the most service? How can I be helpful, and to whom? Decisions involve brains. Guidance involves prayer.

So now my job is prayer.

Oh, and packing : )


I first heard the term “The Suck Zone” in the movie “Twister”, wherein they seemed to be referring to the radius around a funnel cloud inside of which anything not battened down would get battened UP.

But there exists another suck zone in nature – less dramatic, but much more malevolent and sneaky.

Behold – the Suck Zone:

SuckZoneThis is Lucy, the World’s Dumbest Cocker Spaniel (TM).

She’s so dumb that sometimes, when you tell her “Sit!” – she puts her head on the ground and leaves her rear end up in the air. She doesn’t really know her name – if you look at her and say “Pancreas!” she’ll run up to you, because it looked like you were talking to her, and – pancreas, right? Okay!

When we were training the dogs about the boundary on the radio fence, the other two got it right away – by the time Lucy learned that “beep beep beep means ouch ouch ouch” she had third degree burns and her coat was singed halfway down her back.

(I don’t suppose using a car battery for her shock collar helped much. But we needed twelve volts and ten amperes just to get her attention).

But Lucy isn’t just passively stupid. She is an active force for stupidity in our universe.

When you get within a certain distance of Lucy, you wind up in The Suck Zone, where Lucy’s negative IQ actually drains brains in her immediate vicinity to the point that one becomes dumber’n’a bag of hammers.

You can actually feel it come over you – a sort of sleepy feeling in your frontal lobes, as necessary circuity shuts down. Suddenly, you can’t find your keys. And you forgot what you came in the room for. Sometimes you forget to breathe, until the reflex arch in your spinal cord kicks in and you are suddenly gasping (this is called Lucy Apnea).

You become dull-eyed and slack-jawed, with your shirttail out and nothing on your mind.

This is why, whenever I move through our house, I’m always moving at high speed, hoping that sheer momentum will take me through The Suck Zone before all cognitive functions cease and I am suddenly amazed and enthralled with the color yellow, standing in a stupor looking at a bath towel.

You may not believe what I am saying, but the mere fact that she is here proves that this effect is real. Q.E.D – it can’t be denied.

Ethel has been living in the Suck Zone for nine years, since she brought Lucy home from the veterinarian-lobotomist. We know this because Lucy is still here. Anybody with a working cerebral cortex would have gotten rid of that comatose critter most riki-tiki, but Ethel just keeps feeding her and petting her.

Now, this sounds bad, but let’s face it – Lucy lives in the eternal Now. Lucy is not in the least concerned with where her next meal is coming from, or where she is going to live next month, or if Alabama will make it through September undefeated (I think that we can handle Virgina Tech, but the second game in College Station looks pretty scarey to me).

Sometimes, when I get worried or overly concerned – when my perceptions of the world are bearing down on me – I like to sit close to Lucy. Then, I feel that warm fog come over me, and all of my worries melt away into the bliss of idiocy.

Oh, look – Yellow!


My bookshelves are empty.


On the left, I have an iPod chager and a couple of CDs.

On the right, there’s my extra phone (as many calls as I’m taking, and as long as some of them last, I need an extra phone when the batter goes dead ; ) I’ve also got some programming books, because, programming books.

The desk drawers are empty, as well. My nest is barren.

Selling the house and moving. Changing jobs. I’ve re-decaffeinated just to keep the stress levels down.

This morning, I had 10 miles scheduled plus some core work. About six miles into the run, I found myself thinking (as is my wont) “okay, if I get this 10 in today, and 3.5 in tomorrow, then I can make 40 for the week – if I can hold that, then that should give me enough of a base to at least finish the Sioux Falls marathon on September 8th…”

And then I stopped.

And I suddenly realized – after I was sick this winter, I started back running again slowly, and ramping up my mileage slowly, because that was all that I could do. And as I ramped back up to 40 mile weeks, I was then thinking “Okay, I can ramp this up to 45 over the next four weeks, and then up to 50 the next four weeks, and still get in a two-week taper before Sioux Falls…”

…and then the job and house happened, and I only got 8 miles in last week.

So why was I planning out how things were gonna go? MY LIFE NEVER GOES AS PLANNED!…and those empty shelves, right there, are concrete proof of that.

I can plan out a task, and follow through with the plan. But whenever I try to plan out my own life, I find out that I can’t possibly do that – once again proving out Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge, that “a system cannot understand itself”.

Now, this is actually good news. It means that Somebody Else has to run my life for me. It’s when I forget that (which is when I start saying “Next week, I’ll do this…”) that I become fearful. I am fearful – even if I don’t know it – because I have started to run my own life, when I already know that I cannot possibly do that.

The Big Book says that all fear comes from self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency has failed us. But we think that there’s nothing else to depend on, so it’s like walking across a frozen lake and hearing the ice crack behind you.

So I become fearful, and suddenly decide that “I’d better get my stuff together! I’d better get my life figured out, because Chaos is descending and I have a sense of impending doom!”

This, of course, causes more fear. And I wake up in the morning to buzzards on the bedposts.

It keeps going until I become uncomfortable enough to realize that I’ve fallen for that lie again.

As soon as I cast off that delusion – the delusion that I can wrest satisfaction and happeness out of this world if I only manage it well – I will say something like this:

“Whups! Sorry! Father, here I am and here are all of my troubles. I am making a mess of things, and I don’t want to do this any more. Please take me, and take all of my troubles, and do whatever You want to do with them. Amen.”

At that moment I feel my intestines start to unwind – sometimes, I can  actually hear the bubbles as things start flowing down there again. All it takes is the decision to not run my own life anymore to make the buzzards go away.

So I don’t know how many miles I’m gonna run. And I don’t know which job I’m going to be working at. And I don’t know where I’m going to live.

But Somebody does. And He’s much better at planning my life than I am!

Many years ago, I gave my phone number to Go Daddy so that they could pay my phone bill for me. (That was nice of them).

Now they have kindly given it back to me.

And it is sending Verizon Tech Support into a tizzy.


They are trying to move my phone number to this NEW phone from my GD phone (GoDaddy graciously let my have my phone while all of this works out).

And they can’t do it.

The first time they tried, they sold me a new phone at the store, and gave me a temporary number until the transfer of liability (i.e. GoDaddy giving me my number back) took place.

Then, when the transfer did take place – well, never mind. That was an accounting nightmare!

I’ve been on the phone now for 69:02 while they figured out what happened. They think that they’ve got it now – but it’s still going to take a bit.

I have not yet gotten fully dressed. I put on my running clothes a couple of hours ago, but never made it to the garage to go to the gym. Currently on the phone w/Verizon tech support trying to get my phone number moved to my new phone (GD took my number when they started paying for my phone, and now they’ve given it back). Ethel is working with a pigeon at Denny’s. The New River Pucketts aren’t getting much done today.

Now it’s been 79:55 and we’re still going through this. No wonder cell phones are so expensive – somebody’s gotta PAY these guys!

News…well, a week ago yesterday we put the house on the market. Amy Gilner did the listing for us. It took her four days to get a full price offer, FIVE days to get a full price cash offer – and a whole week to get a full price offer that we could live with. Reckon I orta report her to the Better Business Bureau? : )


(she did an AMAZING job. I’d like to show you the online listing, but it’s already invisible because it is “under contract”. Let’s just say that if your realtor doesn’t bring in a professional stylist and stager to stage your house, and a professional photographer to take 60+ photos and a seven-minute video shot with StableCam, fire him and hire Amy ).

99:XX – didn’t see the seconds before it disappeared – that’s a long tech support call. But now my phone works, got my contacts transferred, my apps are reloading…it’s possible that Ethel’s phone got turned off while I was doing that. I would tell her to dial *228 to fix that, but if her phone is off, then she can’t call me….

It’s now 1:24 and I, myself, still have not gotten anything done. But I’ve sat on the phone for an hour and a half while Verizon folks did stuff, and kept rereading the SIM card number to them. That’s gotta count.


I…am NOT Bill Gates.

billgatesWestern Governors’ University had their semi-annual graduation ceremony today. Ethel, who is the #3 employee there (although numbers 1 and 2 left and came back, so she is actually the longest-term employee) mentioned that they got another endowment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

She remembers when the university was new, before they had a faculty or any students (the first Christmas party was at #2’s house, at his kitchen table – 1998) and they were very strapped financially. They got a letter in the mail, with a check from the (brand new) Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation.

The check was hand-written, signed by Melinda, and the envelope was covered in 1 and 2 cent stamps, as though she didn’t have any full-postage stamps, but she had been carrying these around in her purse for a while…

B&M are still supporting WGU – they sent another endowment recently. Kim said they “they must really like us”. So I did the math.

Let’s assume that the recent check was five million. That’s a reasonable number – now that WGU has about 50,000 students, those are the sort of endowments they get these days. I did the math.

Based on Bill’s current net worth, and a 6% return on those investments, it takes Bill almost ten hours to get five million in income.

That means that, if he does some nighttime reading and then gets a good night’s sleep, Bill earns enough to make such an endowment while he is in bed.

Well, when we take a look at how affordable personal computing has changed the world, I reckon that nobody can say that he didn’t earn it. The world is a WHOLE lot more than 5 mil/night better off because of what he did. (And I’m not a MicroSoft fan)

(If you are younger than I am, then you may have no idea whatsoever what the word “computer” used to mean. In the old days (and even in the old science fiction stories) a “better computer” meant one that took up more rooms in the university).

Go Daddy has done an awful lot to change the world, as well. Because of their products, GD has made it easy and cheap for anybody to have their own website, much as BG’s work made it easy and cheap for anybody to have a computer.

But now they are doing that work without me.

As of yesterday, I am no longer employed at Go Daddy.

There’s no reason to speculate as to why. All parties don’t get to share this forum for debate, so it wouldn’t be right for me to crank up such a discussion. And I am not the first Go Daddy Granddaddy to leave, for whatever reason, since Bob sold the place a year and a half ago.

Let’s just say that, for the last twenty-one months, I’ve been in a job in which I did not fit, and in which I was not very productive, and thus was not very happy.

So I shouldn’t be there any longer. Mayhap the Big Boss (and I mean to use capital letters to indicate the divine rather than the corporate) was aware that, as long as I was getting the renumeration that I was getting at GD, and had the potential “someday” payoff that I had, that I was not going to leave easily to make much less money elsewhere, even though I had started looking.

(I was overpaid where I was, because my salary kept increasing when I was a load tester, and when I went back into development, they had to restructure the budget to accommodate me.)

So, when I went to bed last night, unlike Bill,  I didn’t earn any money at all. The stock market actually went down yesterday, and my salary had stopped, so at that point, I started eating into my capital : )

Of course, there is plenty of capital there (see above re: overpaid) for me to draw on. There’s no crisis as of yet. I have a reasonably large final check coming (a LOT of back vacation in that puppy) and currently we have two out of three homes for sale (at prices that our realtors assure us are saleable) and, if everything else falls through and I’m left with nothing, I still have a paid-for condo two miles from the ski hill.

There are worse endgames than “unemployed, with a savings account,  living at the ski hill” : )

The immediate consequence is that last week, I could tell prospective employers that I was a long-term employee at a famous fast-growing company who was making salary $X. Now I’m a bum who’s been shown the door and I have my hat in my hand.

But it’s gonna be all right. In fact, it’s all right now.

And last night, although I did NOT make five million while I slept – I could have. Because last night was the longest night’s sleep that I believe that I’ve had in months.


Things are a little…..stressed right now at the Chocolate House.

Which is, btw, up for sale.

So last night, we sat back and watched something that had no stress involved at all – the 2013 BCS Championship Game – I mean, Scrimmage.


Much fun was had at the Irish’s expense. Sorry – but after the “Domer vs Mobile Homers” and “Catholics vs Cousins” t-shirts, it seemed justified.

We will not have another team like that for a long time – maybe never. But that’s okay – likely, neither will anyone else.

This year looks much more iffy – sure, we’re the preseason #1. I think that, last year, USCw was the preseason #1 – and they went 7-6. We are replacing three of the five O-linemen and”Spin Button” Lacy is gone, so we might not be able to run the ball as well. (Yes, Floyd, I know that we’ve got a crazy stable of running backs – but how many of them have never played a down of college football?)

So Ethel and I decided to take a break from all the crazy stress and have some crazy fun!

Here’s the video that a photographer took of the Chocolate House on Tuesday:


ChocolateVideoTonight at midnight, this house goes on the market.

We’ve been here for five years and two months – the second longest we’ve ever lived in a single house (the longest was Park City) even though we’ve now lived in the North Valley area of Phoenix Metro for over eight years – the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere.

But we’re selling it.

Or at least we are going to attempt to sell it. It might not sell.

But my job is to take the actions, and not get tied to the results. I just finished the Bhagavad Gita this morning, and if there is one thing that Krisha keeps going back to, it is not being tied to the fruits of one’s actions.

In the West, we have (somehow) managed to proclaim ourselves a (mostly) Christian culture while somehow ignoring the Sermon on the Mount. I”m more guilty of this than most, perhaps, because I’ve studied it a lot *and truly want to live by it*, but sometimes I get so caught up in results that I forget Who is really in charge.

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”

“Uh, yeah, thank you there, Jesus, good stuff, and I’ll get right to that, once I make sure that I have already TAKEN enough thought for my life so that I’ll have enough in the bank that then I’ll be ABLE to take no thought for my life, and all that. Get back to me, willya? Have your girl call my girl!”

Wow. It’s not that nakedly dishonest, but it might as well be – those are definitely the motives.

Now I need to go pray some.

Anybody wanna buy a Chocolate House?

Today I finished the last Calvin and Hobbes.


A few years back Ethel got me “The Complete Calvin and Hobbes” – a three-volume set. They are each (as you can imagine) rather heavy, and difficult to tote around. So I would open one up and read a bit from time to time, but never made a concerted effort to read the whole thing.

However, a month or two back, I put the boxed set in my office bathroom.

Now I’ve read them all, and loved them all. I understand that Bill Waterson was probably tired of writing them, and I do know that he was tired of fighting to keep Calvin and Hobbes’ images from being marketed (unsuccessfully, I might add – how many rear windshields sport a likeness of Calvin urinating on some object of the driver’s contempt?).

But I wish that it hadn’t had to end.

I cried when I read the last Bloom County many years ago – but that was seeing it end in a newspaper that I was holding, and many of the characters showed up later in Outland. I knew when I read the above strip that it was coming (it’s hard not to notice the end of a heavy book) and I also knew that it actually ended eighteen years ago, so no tears were shed.

Like most comic strip characters, Calvin did not age. However, he did develop as a character – he got more articulate as time went on. He started out the strip with a six-year-old vocabulary, with his parents adding any needed pithy comments; by the end of the strip, he sometimes used words that I was only able to figure out by context.

And he got more preachy in the last few months; it seemed that Bill Waterson had some things that he wanted to say, and Calvin was his only way to say them. Well, he earned the right to use the podium, by my way of thinking.

…who, me? Exhausted – from all of the work that we are doing to stage the Chocolate House to put it on the market, from running and playing golf in record Arizona June (and now July) heat, from worrying about my job situation; the other stresses one can recover from, but when one’s brain wants to wake one up after just four or five hours sleep because one’s brain wants to talk about the job, then one doesn’t have the rest to recover.

I….am exhausted. Completely exhausted.

And it’s a Monday morning. Dang.

I sure am glad that it’s a three day workweek (I’m taking a vacation day Friday – but, then, I’ll be prepping the house to go on the market, so that’s not going to be any kind of rest day, is it?)

I was in Salt Lake last week, and I had nowhere to sit.

NoSofaEthel got a hotel through Priceline, and it looked like a good deal. They had just completed a remodel. We walked into the lobby, and it looked lovely.

But it turns out that they fibbed just a little bit – they had not, actually, completed the remodel. The first room that they put us in was still sort of under-construction; they had sheets hanging over the window.

So they upgraded us to a suite – but it turned out that the part of the room that made it a “suite”, the part with the big screen TV and living area – didn’t have a sofa, so you could STAND over there and watch the big screen TV if you wanted to, or sit on the ground. (That’s the open area you see above, beside the end table (end of what?) between the coffee table and the wall. If I were a hotel designer, I would put a sofa there).

There were other interesting aspects to the hotel – for one thing, it had a very nice single-cup coffee maker, but there wasn’t anywhere to plug it in while the coffee maker was on any of the pieces of furniture that one would expect to put the coffee maker.

They had an ironing board that came out of the wall from behind a mirror, but they had installed the smoke detector directly over the installed ironing board, so BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!

The suite had a jetted tub – but no jets. Just threaded holes in the tub walls. N.B. – if your are in a jetted tub with no jets, don’t turn on the whirlpool. Bad idea.

The Salt Lake trip was a real burn – interviews and meeting with folks and running wif Da OotahClydzz, then came home on Wednesday night and flew out to Pleasanton, CA on Thursday for more interviews, then back that night.

On Friday, I took the day off sick, because I couldn’t even think straight. I just lay there on the couch, often with my eyes closed – but then the realtor came by the house with a stager in the late afternoon, and Ethel had me moving furniture (mostly out to the garage) for the evening.

The weekend? Oh, the weekend – 15 miles on Saturday morning, then spent the day in class and in the pool, finishing up all of our PADI work, so that we could turn around and head for the lake on Sunday to do our open-water dives. Ethel and I are now PADI-certified Open Water Scuba Divers.

Okay – check that off the bucket list.

In between all of this other stuff, I was moving furniture – mostly out to the garage. It was the hottest June on record in Phoenix, and the fun isn’t over yet – the next four days are all 110+ F.  Floyd and family came over on Sunday afternoon, and, while helping me take the treadmill out to the garage, he said “Did we agree that none of us would move in Phoenix in the summer, ever, again?”

I had no response.

I’m really, really tired.

Is it bedtime yet?