Ham Radio

Ham radio is a hobby of mine. Call sign is NG2G and I am active on all modes including Morse code.

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Cruising challenge

What happens when you book four back to back cruises and the cruise company extends the third cruise by one day?

You find another cruise, spend two nights in Fort Lauderdale and begin negotiations for free stuff to reimburse the hotel stay and food costs.

We shall see how the negotiations go.

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Cruising through life

We are cruising, well not yet but soon. We will be on four back to back Holland America cruises for 70 days starting the first week of October.

More as we get closer.

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I’m doing it.  I leave July 29th on a disability retirement.  I get paid through the middle of November and will have disability insurance that I have paid for start January 1, 2017.

Ruby is taking a one year medical leave to be home with me.

We are very excited to begin this next chapter in our life.

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Making the most of my life!

This year has been full of challenges, from my legs getting worse to work being more challenging because some people are pushing the envelope of what three of us can do even if I was physically able to do more things.

I’ve been paying for a disability insurance that is making the possibility of an early disability retirement very possible.

We are running the numbers, working through the scenarios and will let everyone know when we have come to a decision.  But, at this time things are looking promising.

I have applied for and been granted disabled status on our bus system.  I can even take my scooter.  We are going to go to the transit agency and practice using the scooter later this spring or early in the summer.

I’ve been documenting my work, passwords and other stuff in preparation for leaving…….

We’ll see what happens.

PS – we are going to work the KPMG women’s open at Sahalee this June.  The organizers say they can accommodate my scooter.

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It is what it is …….

Those few words are on a T-shirt I bought at Sunshine Helicopters on Maui shortly after a fantastic tour of Maui and Molokai.

Those words, to me, say a lot.  Review my posts and you will see my world.

You may see my world and think that my life sucks.

My life is nothing less than fantastic.

How can that be?

It is what it is …….. It cannot be what it was and it cannot be what it will be, it can only be what it is.

We can make choices today and tomorrow can be different but, right now, no matter what we hope, it is what it is.

So, I choose to love life, have a great attitude about what was and accept what is ……. Because tomorrow will soon be here and it will be what it is.

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I am disturbed that someone would do this.

There are no answers.

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Love, Life, Family and Acceptance

Family is important to me….. so is Love, Life (what I have worked for, what I am, and what I have).  Acceptance is important also.  I try and accept people the way they are, don’t ask for changes, and generally try not to be biased or prejudiced.

Washington State recently had a vote to legalize marriage between same sex individuals.  I had a tough time with this but after researching the law decided that people needed to have protections….. basically I said, “Why not?” and because I could not come up with any good reasons why not I voted for “gay marriage”.

This may come as a surprise to a lot of my friends but ask yourself “Why not?”  What does it hurt you or me if two people who love each other (even though we may not approve of the lifestyle) get the same benefits (shared insurance, hospital visiting right, and many other benefits) as you or I might get?

Family is important.  After losing Dad (and while losing Dad — during his illness) our family went through some difficult relationship adjustments.

You should read the above paragraph again and understand that we had fights, we argued, and things were said that were hurtful, not really meant and very much a result of the different emotions being felt by all.

I am the oldest child, have always been the oldest child (funny how that works) and have been through a lot as we were growing up.  Mom tells stories about how I took care of my three siblings in South Carolina when she suddenly got sick and had to stay in bed.

Evidently, I was about 10 years old and had to cook and help my two brothers and sister get ready for school, eat meals, and do things around the house.  I remember some of it but not a lot……  although I do remember beating back the bushes and scaring the snakes as we walked the trail down to the dock so we could go fishing.

Anyway, during Dad’s illness a lot fell on me.  I gave freely of my time (spending ten weeks of sick leave in Arizona), my money (Dad had messed a few things up and I helped by paying the previous year’s property taxes, a mortgage payment, and other stuff), and I suppressed my emotions and became a “crisis manager” writing this blog and dealing with a wide array of problems.

Almost everyone understood that I was doing stuff because it had to be done.  I’ve always been like that and, when there is no leadership I seek to find a way to solve problems.

I am not apologizing nor am I trying to explain myself but it has been a tough road that our lives have taken………… and while my life has not been super difficult I have made mistakes, missed opportunities (I should have invested $1000 in 1982 when I was told a little software company was going to be HUGE, Microsoft, what is THAT?) and I have been misunderstood.

Mistakes happen, we correct them.  Missed opportunities are missed.  They rarely come back.  Misunderstandings can be corrected with communication.

I am grateful for where I am today.

My brother, Jack, and sister Julie and I talk regularly.  I’ve invited each of them and their families to my home, as well as made an effort to try and visit them whenever possible.

Recently I had a birthday and Jack and Sandi brought some of the best clam chowder I’ve ever tasted as well as cupcakes.  But, it was the clam chowder that I loved the most.  We had a great visit.

Julie could not come to our home on my birthday but we went to Marysville and met her and my Aunt Patty for lunch.  That was also a great visit.

I am grateful that my daughters and I have a fantastic relationship and I am grateful for a special woman in my life.  I am also grateful for my mom, even though she drives me a little crazy at times.

Sometimes while writing these little “missives” I get caught up in writing what comes from my brain.  I may ramble, I may be very lucid but I have tried to just write and not worry about what I am saying and about who I may be saying it about.  I just write…… and I am learning that writing frees my mind of the emotions that may be bothering me.

I’ve never really thought about my life but it seems like I put myself into positions of leadership (either getting elected, volunteering, or being a person — personally or professionally — that someone or an organization can count on) and sometimes I get burned.

Leaders get burned for doing what they believe is right.  Leaders also need to be able to understand that the person “burning” may feel slighted in some way.  We don’t have to fully understand but we do have to be able to look at ourselves and try and modify our message so that we can continue to lead while bringing people in who can help us.

There’s that rambling again.

I guess I am trying to say, “I do what I can, when I can, and I hope what I am doing helps.”  If I hurt you, make you feel like I’ve stomped on you, make you feel stupid, or inferior then please let me know.

I may be able to say “I’m sorry.”  And, I may mean it.  Then again, I may say “I’m sorry” and wonder “Really, that bothered you, WOW, why in the world would that bother you?” and then I would try and make you feel like I meant it because I value you.

I hope you can never see the difference….. because if you are in my life than it means I want you in my life…. and I value you.

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Thanksgiving 2012

The first thanksgiving since Dad died has come and gone.  It was one which went better than I expected.

Ruby and I spent the day with her family — her mom and dad, aunt and uncle, sister, her brother in law, all three of her kids, her son in law and six month old grandson — and my daughter and her boyfriend came and visited for a few hours.  I got a special call from my oldest daughter and made a call to my mom.  Mom must have been busy because I only got her voice mail.

It has been almost five months since dad died and it is becoming easier yet there are moments where I am reminded of Dad.

One of those moments was when watching “Act of Valor”.  The funeral at the end of the movie had the commanding officer kneeling in front of the widow and saying, “On behalf of a grateful nation …..” and presented the flag to the widow.  That made me sad.  I remembered the beautiful and respectful service we had at Tahoma National Cemetery.

Another moment came the other day when my uncle Gary sent me a poem where  a little girl went to “Daddy Day” at school without her daddy.  She explained how her daddy had been killed a few days earlier by a roadside bomb and that he was with her always.

My memories of Dad will be with me always but I am feeling like I am moving on.  The grieving process has been interesting and unique to me.  I’ve felt sadness, a sense of betrayal, a feeling that maybe I did not really know my dad as well as I thought I knew him, and a feeling, as I dealt with the aftermath of mom and his finances, that he was living a life he could not afford.

Fortunately the laws of Washington and Arizona have protected mom and she is going to be OK.  I know what I am writing will hurt some of you and I ask you to be gentle with me.  I have seen a lot more than many of you have seen of the effects of Dad’s decisions than any one else, even my mom…….  and I am not writing to disparage my dad’s reputation but am writing to make a point.  I hope the point is clear later.

Thanksgiving was important to me this year.  I am a son without his father, a man who I came to know very well before his death and a man I came to know even more after his death.  I have read his entire Navy file — everything from his signing of his enlistment papers to the fight he had with Navy brass at the end of his career as he tried to get command of a destroyer and extend his service to our country.  In between all of that he served with distinction and was never disciplined but praised for his hard work and dedication to his service of our great country.

I am still learning lessons from this man who was my father — Dad — and learned (remembered) today that being thankful for the people who surround us on days like this is very important.

All of us will make mistakes.  When we die people will look at what we did with our lives and they will judge us or they will love us and believe in their hearts — like I believe in my heart — that my dad made decisions that he simply did not have time to correct.  He had work left to do and he ran out of time.  I am finishing his work and taking care of his business.  It has been hard, there has been a lot to do, but as of today it seems like it is mostly done, except for reassuring Mom that she is going to be OK without the man that she loved for over 60 years.

I have enough love in my heart for all the people in my life and I hope every one of them knows how thankful I am for each one of them.

Overlook the flaws, pick up the people you love, hold their hands, love them, show them that they are valuable to you and just love them.

As I read this I wonder how it will be received………  I hope it is with love by those I love.

Nobody and nothing else matters.

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The evening on the day after

It was a nice drive to Snohomish.  It was, as I had thought it would be, a little emotional.  Just about the same time that I began to think about the great golf I had experienced with Dad at Snohomish Golf Course, I had heard the muffled sniffles from the back seat.  (Mom was in back.) I let her be for a few minutes, thought a bit more about Dad and finally asked Mm if she was doing OK.

She answered honestly and said no.  She then told me about Dad playing all the time at Snohomish, how he had volunteered at the course for the Men’s Club and how awful he felt when the Men’s Club voted to remove him from the board of directors and forced him to withdraw from the Men’s Club event after he turned professional.  He was unable to play with his normal foursome and lost one of the things he valued most, his time with other golfers.

Mom also told me there were several things that made him happy, one was when I decided to take up golf again about ten years ago after not playing for about twenty years.  I do not remember many times playing after high school but Mom assured me I did play.

Some of the best times with Dad were fishing, camping in the trailer and golfing.  Mom reminded me that after Dad decided to stop drinking he also stopped going fishing.  He loved fishing and loved associating with the fly fishing crowd and even served as the president of the Washington Fly Fishing Association.  But when he went fishing and camping with the people he knew at the WFFA he also drank.

Dad discovered that drinking was bad for him and our family and he decided he would golf more…… he loved going to the course — he became president of the Inglewood Golf and Country Club in Kenmore, WA and, even though there was a lot of drinking at the club he found a way to golf and stay away.  Mom said he would drive up to the course, park away from the club, put his shoes on and carry his clubs to the range or the practice green.  He stayed away from the places where he felt he would fail and start drinking again.  He always wanted to succeed at everything he did.

In October, 1958 he was supervised by an officer on the USS Ulvert M Moore — Dad’s first ship and the Lt jg wrote:

It is partially in appreciation of his extremely fine work and partially a desire to bring attention to an outstanding individual that I write this recommendation.

He went on to say:

Challender possesses the talents which make him a leader of men and specifically, which have made him a successful leading petty officer…… Challender is, in my opinion, a potentially fine officer.  He has claim to all the adjectives which are used to describe the Naval Officer at his best.  The Navy will benefit when he receives his commission.  I hope that steps in that direction will be taken as soon as possible.

Without knowing it Dad was showing me how to be a man, how to volunteer, how to do the best job possible and finally how to be an “outstanding individual.”

Now, before anyone points out my flaws let me say I know I have flaws.  We all have flaws.  Dad had flaws.  It is how we try and overcome those flaws that we become better people.  I try and overcome my flaws and I try to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

Dad overcame many of his flaws yet still had many flaws that more life may have helped him overcome.  Dad told me in March that “dying of cancer sucks.”  He also told me he was proud of me.

What more could a son ask of his Dad?

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