Wander project travel but don’t forget the vaccine!

I was thinking about birds, squirrels, and feeders on my walk yesterday. Well, mostly, I was trying to remember the name of a person I knew a long time ago. But once I remember his name, I started thinking about squirrels. The North American Tree Rat, as my grandfather used to call them. Grandpa had a long time war with the squirrels. He built beautiful bird feeding boxes, and the squirrels climbed up and into them. The squirrels or, again, North American Tree Rats then preceded to eat all the birdseed. That, of course, left little to none for the birds. My Grandmother enjoyed watching birds out her big bay window (it was in the living room). Although she didn’t like birds flying into that window.

WI Anderson Family Lake Ripley Jun 1965

In part, today’s post is more about there is always a better way than anything else. Over two or three years, Grandpa and I tried three different anti-squirrel systems. The first one was to make easy access feeders so the squirrels could get those, and the theory was they would leave the other harder to get seeds where they lay. Easier to fly into the boxes than it was to climb in was the theory. That was an epic fail. The squirrels just got double seed in that concept. Or, as Grandpa called them, that winter Fat North American Tree Rats. I never saw grandpa stand under a tree and shake his fist at the squirrels. My guess is they would have dropped across on him if he did!

WI Parents-Keith Lake Ripley Jun 1965

The next idea was wire mesh at the top of the enclosure and bottom. The birds could fly in, and we watched the squirrels swing in! Epic fails number two for our NATR think tank. The last thing we tried was acceptance. We ended up getting new bird feeders that were hard for the squirrels to get to, and the birds came back! Grandma was happy. The Tree Rats still got birdseed and didn’t drop across on Grandpa. I don’t think grandpa ever really accepted that compromise. I am sure I was frustrated. But we were out of options. Our think tank had run dry of ideas. I wonder what Grandpa told the new owners when they sold the Lake House a few years later. Did he mention the NATR issue?


wander project travel but don’t forget your vaccine!

Yesterday I stopped and took a moment to see and enjoy the flowers alongside the road. It is a very busy road, and I never notice the flowers when I am driving it. I have been walking that way now, and I like to vary my routes. When you walk 10 miles in one walk, it gets boring if you see the same ten things every time you walk. So I vary the route a little. The act of walking is my release. For many years for me, food was my stress relief. I didn’t eat to stay alive. I ate to relieve the stress I felt. I wasn’t being honest with myself about what was going on. So I would hide that by eating. Ice cream tastes good and relieves stress, but you are eating it only for 10 minutes.


So, I started running until my knees gave out and then walked to relieve that stress. It is an extremely calming action for me now. I can even be on a stressful conference call while walking and come out of the walk with reduced stress. Things that used to send me over the edge now still annoy me, but they don’t make me crazy anymore. Walking works for me; I have many friends who still run (I would as well, but my knees hurt all the time when I run now). I learned to love walking from two people—my father, who wanted to hike the world, and my grandfather. When my grandfather and I were first together after separation, we would always take a walk.


I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was Grandpa’s way of letting me know more than simply family connected us. That is something that still motivates me to walk now. Sometimes you have to do things that are focused on helping yourself. There is always guilt when you are a parent, and you take time for yourself. But the reality is you have to do that. One of the things I have learned is that sometimes unattended plants grow as well as the attended plants do in the garden of life. If that weren’t the truth, then weeds would not exist. Weeds, however, are a mix of beauty and nuisance. That balance is what we as humans often struggle to find. For me, I see it when I am walking!


Wander project Thanks Mom!!!!

When last we wandered by my mother, I mentioned her sense of humor. It isn’t always good, and I inherited some of that humor, so those who know me sometimes know the jokes bomb; my mom would probably say that the bad jokes were my father’s influence. But that is not all of the people my mom is. So I thought today I would wander, mom! My mother was a medical professional for many years. All of my life! What does that mean? Well, it means that mom was the go-to person in our family for medical issues. You didn’t go to my dad; he fainted at the sight of blood. As they were stitching up my head in Cambridge, Wisconsin, mom had to watch the doctor and take care of dad, who fainted!


First mom story – when I was a kid, I had several collisions and accidents on my bicycle. Mom used to treat my wounds and comfort me. Then she did something that impacted me far more than I realized until much later. She taught me first aid how to take care of myself and others when there were injuries. Mom was a calming influence. But introducing me to how to take care of issues has come in handy many, many times. I don’t panic when I see blood. I react the way I was taught when I was a youngster. Be calm, smile at the person, and quickly determine the extent of the injury. No matter what happens, do not show fear or deep concern as that caused the person to panic. Tell them afterward that you were worried.


My mom is very much like her father, my grandfather. It isn’t funny, but the second mom story involves the fact that mom and I didn’t see eye to eye when I became a teenager. The funny part? Well, it isn’t funny, but I never disagreed with my grandfather. He could say the same thing as either mom or dad, and I always knew he was right. Now, years later, I’ve come to see how much mom is like grandpa. That was why I struggled. I am a lot like my grandfather and my mother. Sometimes, water and water don’t mix! At least when some of the water is teenaged and quick to boil. But, mom was always there even when I was difficult. I know that I am the person I am because of her gentle guidance.

Thanks, mom, I owe you so much.


Wander project travel but don’t forget the vaccine!

Normally I get up early in the morning. It is easier for me to focus on the day when I have time alone before. I can get my thoughts in line and focus. I didn’t always do this. Being a school teacher taught me the value of early mornings. When you get to an empty classroom, it is quiet. When the start of the day bell rings, you will hear the last quiet for a long time. I do, on occasion, miss the noise of a classroom. It is a noise of discovery. I love that noise. It is also fun with your kids, but there is more to lose when your kids. I won’t talk about that today; it is just something that comes up from time to time in my head. Kids are a great addition to the world; they are also hard work!


I have a co-worker that has a cube full of knickknacks and various things on display. He has his video camera turned towards those things during calls. I have been printing baskets and storage containers for the past month or so. But in between those prints, I also print knickknacks and other fun display items. I am slowly getting to the point where my office looks like my co-worker’s cube! Funny how things stick in your head. I have great respect for the co-worker, so the reality is it is more of a parallel plaything or an emulation thing to use my education degree. Emulation is when you do something like a person you feel is where you would like to be overall!


I also realized in looking around my office that I have some odd items on display. I have golf balls on one shelf. They are logo golf balls. I also have my TESA house on that same shelf and some old slot racing cars from many years ago. The collection moves over to some of my dad’s and my mother-in-law’s wall hangings and then many wall hangings that are mine. On top of my corner desk, I have things from my parents and things from my career (awards, pens, and things like that). That is also where the firetruck traveled from Europe to Asia and then all around the US with me. The last two things on my desk honestly that I have are AR-focused globs. Earth and moon, using the application, you can see facts and information about both!


wander project travel but don’t forget the vaccine!!!

I have spent a lot of my IT career looking into a crystal ball. More because I like to think about what is possible. I have been involved in the rise of things several times. More, that a rising tide lifts all boats, rather than me always being in the forefront. It is not easy to always lead the charge! But one of the things I have spent a lot of time on recently is the rise of intelligence. The concept that humans would create an artificial intelligence makes me uncomfortable. I prefer to call it intelligence. I am not turning my family history project into a technology blog, just wandering through where my head is right now. In my wander, the reason for the initial technology wonder has to do with where that love of technology came from.


In my childhood, or better put perhaps from my childhood, there were two influencers in my life around technology. The first was my father. My father was a scientist. He, however, had a keen interest in the technology that applied to science. From telescopes to weather stations, dad was interested. I remember the Lab at the IU School of Education (Science Education Department) and going to Dad’s Lab often as a child. We used to take art lessons on Saturday mornings at the school of Ed. That was, I think, more mom’s pushing than dad’s. However, Dad loved being able to go into the office on Saturday and get work done. We would, when the art class was finished, go up to his Lab.

phoebe and me

The other person that influenced me around technology was my grandfather. He was always showing me the what and how of things. He and I had an old outboard motor that we rebuilt one summer. He taught me how to operate the speedboat and how to start the engine and keep it running. But grandpa was also the first person with a color TV in his area. He gave my folks their first color TV long before people had them. I think my love of new tech comes from him. He and I would often talk for a long time about the tech things I thought were cool. I would have no idea to this day if grandpa were truly interested in the tech or my thinking process. I suspect, honestly, it was my thinking process.

Those two were a great influence in my becoming a technologist!


Wander project travel but don’t forget the vaccine!

I remain a huge fan of the Big Bang Theory. I miss that show. But, one of the lines from that show is something I think about a lot. “Man has spent 10,000 years perfecting indoors; why would I go outside?” Dr. Sheldon Cooper asks that eternal question. I would love to say that I have a good reason for walking outside. It is not something I can put my finger on. When I was 12 or 13 years old, I did everything I could to avoid being outside other than swimming. Outside at that time was the enemy. So, I would grab a book and read. I read many books from the time around 10 to the time I was 20 or 21 years old. By a lot, during the summer sometimes as many as ten books a week.


But looking back at walking outdoors in 2021, I have to think about getting a treadmill again. In 2021 I’ve been snowed on while walking. I have trudged through the snow. I have trudged through snow that was melted a bit and then refroze (that is one of the worst). I have trudged through freezing rain (that is the worst, without a doubt). I have tried to walk after freezing rain, but that only results in you falling a lot. Finally, I have now also trudged through a thunderstorm, rain, and hail. Rain several times this year, hail once. But once is truly enough when it comes to the reality of hail! Overall the number of weather events I’ve hit this year is pretty wide. It does make me wonder!


Here are my new walking outside survival tips.

  1. Ravean hand warmers
  2. Ravean heated gloves
  3. Ravean heated down jacket
  4. Headset for conference calls
  5. Raincoat
  6. A jacket or sweatshirt for days that aren’t cold but also aren’t warm
  7. Good shoes!

Staying warm and dry is critical. I ended up buying four golf umbrellas for use when walking. That way, we (the hoomans) are dry at the end of the walk. I can’t guarantee the Labs will be dry. But in theory, they are water dogs!


Wander project travel but get the vaccine!!!

I have a long-time friend who pops into my life via email, texts, and voice calls. In all cases, I look forward to the conversation. Yesterday he texted me with the following question, and honestly, I had to stop for a moment and think. What was the last book you read because you wanted to read the book? First off, I am in a profession that is constantly changing. The vast majority of books I read, listen to or consider honestly are more books I have to read. I shouldn’t say I have to read. That isn’t the complete truth. I am a technologist, and I like figuring out what makes technology tick. I do a lot of my troubleshooting and exploring the reality of technology. So there is a little fun in the reading!


But a book I sat down to read because I wanted to require some additional questions. First off, does that include the books you recommend to me? I asked. No, was the simple answer. Well, there was a lot more than no to the solution. The point being it wasn’t about books that other people told you about. OR that someone recommended to you. It was about the book experience. To me, giving someone a book is the most magical gift you can give. You are sharing a bit of yourself, but you are also opening a door for that person. I know, not many people put books high on the things to give to other people list. They, readers, have fallen into the same category as giving socks as a present!


My friend was reminding me of the days when I traveled a lot. I always had and read my kindle. But, you have to have your kindle off for the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of the flight. On short flights, I used to carry a traditional book with me. Simple and easy to just read without waiting for the Ding. But what he was trying to remind me of was the sheer joy of just picking a book. Of looking at author’s names and book titles and deciding that was the book to read. Once I got that into my head, the answer to the question was quite simple, really. The last book I read was Robert Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy. I read that book more than 30 years ago. Now, I reread the book about a month ago.

Do you remember the joy of picking a book to read?


Wander project remember mom today!!!!!

Mother’s Day 2021.

The day we honor, remember and cherish the mothers in our life. One mother lives with me, the other lives 10 hours away. The mother of my children is an amazing human being. As my mother did, she works in a field that is focused on making the lives of others better. But, I won’t focus today on what my mother and my wife do as professionals. I want to focus on the whole person and devote time to honoring both of them. As an aside, I would also like to honor the amazing mothers my sisters are. They have raised some amazing kids! My youngest sister (sorry, sis, my much younger sister) has introduced a mother of her own, so this day must be doubly special for her!

me vernon hills

My wife first, and I will end with my mother. My wife has had four careers since I have known her. Her first was as a college student finishing up her college degree. It took my wife longer to finish her bachelor’s because she was a working mother for a large part of that time. But when we started dating and during our engagement, she completed her degree. We moved to Ohio, and she became a video producer. Then she worked in several roles for organizations in Indianapolis, Indiana. After about seven years in Indiana again, my wife decided to go back to school. First, few people finish a degree (undergrad) after being in school for more than ten years. My wife did! Even fewer people go back to school in their late 40s. My wife did! Her current career is something I am proud of and tell people all the time. She is a hospice social worker. She helps people (and is the only social worker for the Kids team) and children transition to that final stage of life. It is a hard job, and it takes a special person to do it! Mother one covered, thank you, MaVert. Happy mother’s Day, Dear!!!!

Apple Ocean

For my wife, “Don’t the cows get tired. It’s a long way to the barn.”

My mother is, without question, an amazing human being. First, mom is so creative. Her out-of-this-world quilts have kept everyone in our house warm with love for the last 30 years! I cannot imagine sleeping without one of mom’s quilts! But that is only part of who my mother is. She raised two great daughters, both of whom became wonderful mothers. She raised an average son who was unable to become a mother. Mom was always there when you fell. She was the go-to person when anyone in the house was injured. Mom was a nurse for many years. She was one of the first Nurse-Practitioners in the State of Indiana. She was, however, always our mother. I cannot tell you how many times mom has saved me from myself. But the last thing I want to share about my mother is her sense of humor. Mom is one of those people that when she wants to be, she can make anyone laugh. I know, as a morose, grouchy, and sometimes highly angry teenager, mom could always make me laugh. I couldn’t ask for a better mother! Happy mother’s Day, mom!!!!

For my mother, “He’s a turkey, Buzzard.”


wander project travel but don’t forget the vaccine!!!!

Woke, which once meant arising from sleep, now refers to being socially aware. I do truly believe in being socially conscious. But there are rules by which we as humans have to operate. We have to be willing to listen to, understand and evaluate both sides equally. There are many things that both sides bring up that are of value, that are true. The problem with the truth is it always has a view and a viewpoint. Or, to move things to John Boyd, it is all about the OODA loop. Orient, observe, decide and then act. The orientation of the observation determines the proper decision and then action. The issue with the reality around us is threefold.


First to the woke people – I am with you. But to wake, you have to understand the context. Am I proud of the way the world was in 1980? To a degree, yes, and to a degree not at all. We were a world trying, struggling to grow up. What has come from 40 years ago is a huge chasm. We cannot build a bridge across that chasm without change on both sides. Why? Why is change required to bridge the chasm build globally over the last 10,000 years? Because both sides are built on dunes. I listen to the right In the US, or globally what is the “conservative view,” and I hear the same word over and over. When I listen to the left (liberal), I heard the same words.


There is a song I hear on SiriusXM from time to time. It is a song that was written many years ago, but it applies now more than ever. The line that uses, “There ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys. It’s only you and me, and we disagree.” We disagree. When I was a school teacher, I was told my classroom wasn’t equal. Because I made the girls play sports. I realize now that the reality of the situation was that that was the right thing to do. It is not about color. It is not about sexual orientation. It is simply about learning the critical rule in that song from the 1970s. We disagree. There are many ways to look at the information. We need to consider both sides carefully.

Everyone should consider their words. Words have an impact on others. But we also have to remember that everyone has a right to their opinion. Period.


Wander project travel but don’t forget your vaccine!

Dear Diary:

Yesterday I had that uncomfortable feeling that I missed something. Not that feeling of dread that comes knowing you missed something. No, it was that uneasy feeling that there was a missing piece. Ever have those feelings? Where do you feel like something is wrong, but you can’t put the finger on what it is? So you sit there and think for a moment. Did I forget something yesterday? I forget something; the funny thing is it is something I am always careful to do. Over the last three years, we’ve had several breaks ins to the cars in our neighborhood. One of the cars in front of our house was broken into a few years ago (my daughter’s car parked in the street).


I went out early yesterday to get my quarterly blood test and didn’t lock my car. I always lock my car, but I forgot to do so yesterday. I was in a fog. The Lab had a new tech who was in training, so I ended up with two distinct pokes in my arm. That makes the entire process feel off. So, when I got back home, I had a call right away, and I didn’t lock my car. I caught it when I went out later. But, for a few hours, my car was unlocked. The good news is the feeling left when I pressed the lock on the remote! I suspect those nagging worries are the ones most of us have. From time to time, that feeling that something isn’t done, or that something wasn’t done right, What and we wait.


Sorry to take you inside the factory and show you how the sausage is made. Having been to a meat processing plant as an adult, I know that I try not to eat hotdogs after visiting that place. The bacon preparation didn’t bother me. I guess it bothered me that the smoky flavor of the bacon I liked came from liquid smoke. But I didn’t mind the way the bacon was prepared. It was a simple process. Watching everything left over from the cow get ground up to make hotdogs wasn’t as much fun. I guess I shouldn’t be so squeamish about that. But I am. Even though I still like bratwurst, and I suspect they are made similarly, I never saw those being made!