Monday, April 29, 2013

Good Times

I guess you could say that I get paid to listen.   Mostly to keep my mouth shut and listen.    I hear a wide variety of stories and conflicts and fears most every day, and I always wish I had something wise to say in response, but mostly I don't and there is nothing to do but listen.     I come home sometimes exhausted, full to the brim with problems that I cannot solve.

This week I tried something new to see if it would help me relax a little.    I have mentioned that I am learning Morse Code, and there is no point in saying again that I often feel like I'm going backwards instead of forward, because it's beginning to sound like whining (although, let's face it, I have no shame and I do whine, repeatedly, because it is SOOOOOO HARD and I don't seem to be getting any better!)    My Friend, the owner of the keyer I was using, needed it back (the brute), but he is helping me build another, with parts that belong to yet another friend, with the agreement that if I put it together,  I can borrow it for awhile.    Sounded like no big deal to me.    I have a mentor, he has the parts and the gear and the knowledge and the experience, the whole thing is so small it fits into an altoid tin, gotta be easy peasy.

Well, a full day later with another day to go all I can say is Good Grief!    All those guys you know who fix and solder and mess around with chips and wire and potentiometers and dohiggys are not, as it appears, just goofing around.   This stuff is not nearly as easy as they make it sound.    (The names of the parts alone is enough to give me a headache.)   The bottom line is that, despite my sweat, blood and tears (okay, my whining and my tears), the keyer still doesn't work.   I wrecked one blinkety blink cheap plastic part (those solder irons turn out to be very hot indeed), and the replacement part I used turned out to be a closed intermittent switch where I needed an open intermittent switch -- and the very fact that I now know what that means should tell you how far down this road I've traveled.

But tomorrow -- after another day at work of listening to problems and fears and sadness I can't fix, after exhausting myself with agency politics and problems and conflicts -- I will drive back to My Friend's house and get that puppy finished and finally have a keyer again that I can use to practice so that I can finally learn that blasted Code that is driving me crazy.   

Relaxing?   You betcha.   And I can hardly wait.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


 I just got back from a short trip to California, where I spend a few days with my two brothers and my sister.    What a lot of fun!   The place we stayed was lovely, with a pool, a hot tub, a koi pond,  citrus trees in the back yard, and a mountain view out the front door.   Fresh orange juice and lemonade every day, thanks to my picking and squeezing siblings.  

I had hoped to spend some serious time in the desert but my family had other ideas, so we only made a very few short stops and (I thought) spent way too much time in the car.   Still, the desert was amazing, and almost every cactus was in bloom, which was such a treat for me.    I saw my first Joshua trees, and my first of every imaginable cactus.    I was thrilled by the cool mornings that made the hot days bearable, and the stars!    The night skies were amazing.

We stopped in Palm Springs -- to my amusement, the MOST walking we did was in shopping areas, which says a lot about my Fam -- and we saw the statue of Marilyn Monroe that towers over the city.  
 I loved watching hummingbirds feeding on the cactus flowers, I could have watched them for hours.
When everyone else was sleeping or busy, I worked on Morse Code and just took in whatever was around me.
 On our way to and from the airport, we passed miles and miles (and miles) of wind turbines and solar fields.   On the way back, we passed through a small dust storm.   I loved the alien landscape.
I always think I am nervous about flying until I get into the air, and then I love looking through the window.   On the flight home, I took a million photos of the landscape because everything was new and so cool looking.    And a new fun thing for me was listening on my mobile radio during the layovers in Dallas.   The airport structure made it impossible for me to talk on the radio, but I got to listen to local folk talking about a variety of things, providing a little local flavor to my trip.    The return trip was like Oz in reverse, coming back from a world of color and sunshine and  returning to Detroit, where the landscape seemed black and white in comparison.   

But it was good to be home.   Good to see my Grands and family.    Good to practice Morse Code and radio stuff with my Friend.   Good to get the laundry done.    Just all good.

Now, home only a few days, it is already time to pack up again and drive for four hours to the the Upper Peninsula for a work seminar.   I both dread and welcome the trip, looking forward to the information I'll learn that I hope will make me more useful to the people I serve, but not looking forward to the lonely hours away from everyone I know.    Getting used to being with people is dangerous that way, I guess, lol.   I'll take my new hobbies along, of course, and try to use the time well, and find as many ways as I can to have Ridiculous Amounts of Fun despite it all.     Hoping for bright skies and no wind as I begin my drive north!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Today I hugged a crying woman who kept saying she couldn't believe that her 100-year-old mother was "failing so quickly."    Talked to a grieving widower who said that he now knows that virtually everything he ever spent his time on was unimportant, and how much he wishes he could have those hours back to spend with his wife.  

No kidding, no matter how long it lasts, life is short.    I need to rethink my priorities daily, maybe hourly, maybe now.