Monday, November 6, 2017

Border management is not EZ.

A long-time friend whom I respect posted his opinion to Facebook if favor of the U.S. Mexican border wall. I am NOT in favor of that method of gaining control of our border. Here is my response:

Granted. But all these factors and many more would have to be analyzed and publically discussed in a properly executed environmental impact statement process, which is supposed to be completed for federal projects of this scale. I personally think the EIS process is too restrictive for some projects (it's even required for some purely administrative actions -- such as the VA home loan program, for instance) but I am very strongly in favor of strict application of the process for large-scale projects that have the potential to impose significant changes on our world. Yes, we need a secure border. I don't believe that a wall is the right way to get that. Let's start with logical, transparent, and humane immigration laws and policies and then work on political changes that encourage our neighboring governments to work with us. While we are doing that, we can continue to implement border control processes and procedures that make effective use of manpower and technology to minimize unlawful crossings and human suffering. I think we could do all of this for a fraction of the dollar cost of the wall and much less environmental and social cost. How do you control smuggling into Florida? You don't use a wall, yet the DEA, DHS, and Coast Guard are pretty effective. Of course, if we did gain complete control of the Texas/Mexico border, that would increase pressure for unlawful entry for all of the Gulf Coast states and California, so there may be a zero-sum game here (if you ignore the huge financial, environmental, and social costs to the U.S. of the wall), even if the wall were built and were 100% effective. That's one of the reasons that I strongly believe the political, legal, and social reforms are a more effective way to deal with the border issues. You and I would probably have a long and possibly contentious discussion on the way we, in the U.S., treat and control drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. May I comment that I've had some up-close-and-personal experience in working with the DEA and the State Department in counter-narcotic efforts. From that experience, I have deduced that our current policies are counterproductive and cause more human damage than the drugs they are designed to control. Please study the implementation and impacts of early 20th century prohibition (and the long-lasting negative impacts on U.S. politics and society) before we start that debate.

Friday, August 25, 2017

An anniversary date made EZ!

Last night's performance by the Piano Guys in San Antonio's Tobin Center was absolutely awesome! At one point, Steve Nelson was playing an awesome Cello piece with video in the background of him playing that same piece with what appeared to be a high school orchestra-young artists hard at work. They displayed onscreen a quote from Beethoven, “Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.” It was an inspiring scene, but then, as I watched the video I thought, "Where are the young people of color? There must be young people in tonight's audience who are wishing they could see someone who looked like them in this uplifting scene." Trying to be charitable I concluded that the video must have just been shot in an area where the majority are white, with no intent to exclude anyone. Then--the stage was dark except for the spotlight on Steve--the video switched from the original scene to a shot of 8 young people of mixed complexion, all dressed in black, all playing violins beautifully right along with Steve. Music still sweetly resonating, the stage lights came up and there they were! The same 8 young people, looking very representative of San Antonio in skin tone, size, and shape. As the piece ended, Steve thanked them and introduced them as string players from a local San Antonio high school! Thank you, Piano Guys, for including youth, and especially local youth that are representative of our great San Antonio diversity, one of the things I love about living here. If you don't know the Piano Guys, check them out on YouTube, where they have over 5 million subscribers and over a billion views.

Before the show, we had dinner at Taste, the restaurant at the Tobin Center which serves on performance nights by reservation only. We also splurged on valet parking, so we rolled up and strolled in. The menu included Italian meatball soup, a variety of salad and vegetables, penne pasta, and veal osso bucco with gelato or tiramisu for dessert. A wonderful date with my life-long-love, Glenda! Thank you, Mrs. Moyes, for putting up with me for over 49 years.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Summer vacations are not EZ.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation. An essay by Dan Moyes.

Our first overnight stay of our summer vacation to Costa Rica is in a lovely home in San Antonio, Texas. That's right. OUR home in San Antonio, Texas. We arrived at the airport at 7am this morning for a flight through Houston Hobby connecting to a flight to Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica (LIR), where we were to meet our son, Joel, and his wonderful and lovely wife, Orenda, who were flying from Phoenix by way of DFW. by 9am we were comfortably boarded and our flight from SAT to connect in Houston was taxiing. We taxied. To the end of the taxiway where we stopped. The captain announced we had a short weather hold for the airport in Houston. About 10 minutes later, the captain announced that, while we were waiting for the weather hold to be lifted, our airplane had broken and we'd be returning to the terminal gate and deplaning. Back in the terminal by 10am, the Southwest agents were working feverishly to reaccommodate their passengers, calling people by their intended destination, issuing new boarding passes, and sending them on their way. We waited. As the crowd thinned, we discovered 10 other passengers who were also bound for Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica on our flight. We all waited. We took turns going to the restroom and waiting. We visited and waited. We had a snack and waited. Finally, there were no passengers waiting except the Costa Rica 12. Over time, we became kind of a Cosa Nostra 12. We knew first names. We knew careers and grandchildren's name. We took turns approaching the gate agent to see if there was, yet, any news for us. Southwest agents hammered away at keyboards and spoke furtively into telephones. We waited. The stranded 12 consisted of three couples and one party of 6 bound on a scheduled deep-sea fishing trip. Finally, at about 1:30pm, the agent told us that there was no way Southwest could get us to Costa Rica today, even on other carriers. Everyone was booked or overbooked and the later in the day it got, the less likely it was that anything would be available. Further, Southwest was fully booked to LIR through the weekend. The best they could offer was an outbound flight on United (Oh, Joy!) tomorrow, Sunday, June 25th, at 1:45 PM changing planes in Houston Bush Intercontinental arriving in LIR at 8:00pm local that same day. The party of six threw in the towel and cancelled their plans. The three couples all agreed to the reaccommodations. While they made the new routing arrangements, we... that's right: waited. At about 3:00pm we were told to go home, we'd get our United routing by email before the day was over. By 3:30pm we had reclaimed our bags and were enroute to our overnight accommodations. At home. We did get the United confirmation at about 4:30pm. I guess we'll try this vacation thing again tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

It would be EZ to ignore these thoughts

This sabbath morning has me in an introspective mood.

Opus asked, 'Ever feel like a dandelion in your own lawn?'

I had a medical procedure done a couple of weeks ago that caused me to leave the clinic with an industrial-strength band aid on my upper leg. The band aid was removed after a few days, but, even now, I have a grey, sticky residue still on my leg where the band aid had been. I see it every morning when I shower, scrub at it a bit, and think, “I need to get some hand lotion or nail polish remover and see if I can remove that gunk.” Then I finish bathing, dry, and dress. My garments cover the stain and so I forget it. It's not uncomfortable, tugging hairs or such. Out of sight out of mind. And I wonder.

In covering this smudge with my garments and over clothing, am I “putting on the whole armor of God?” Or am I using the covering as pride to cover my filthiness? Is there an allegory here that I should ponder? If the spot weren't covered, I'd see it, remember it, and deal with it. But I don't, so next morning's shower, there it will still be.

Does the act of uncovering ourselves physically have a spiritual component? Can we become more pure when our realities are not hidden? Should I relate this sticky spot on my upper leg to my lack of obedience to certain Word of Wisdom teachings? Is that what confession is really all about, becoming spiritually naked being good for the soul, even when confessing things that are considered inconsequential? Is getting naked physically similar in allowing us to deal with other issues that may be hidden? Could people of similar disposition find strength and peace by sharing and confessing together, naked both figuratively and literally?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I've started journalling. As in hand-written entries to a notebook. We'll see how long I can keep that up. Just that simple act may make my blog entries even more sporadic. I've selected a "theme" for my journalling: Wellness. And my intent is to write regularly (if not daily) about actions taken to support my Wellness mind map:

I started journalling on April 13th of this year (2017). I've written on four days since then, today included. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Our financial systems and rules do not make things EZ.

A couple of years ago, my youngest daughter introduced me to a book by Barbara Ehrenreich titled Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America. The premise was that once you get to living paycheck to paycheck or worse, fall behind, the system will NOT let you catch up (Ehrenreich, 2011). 

I’ve recently watched a story unfold that, I think, provides a perfect example of her thesis.

My wife’s sister (retired and living on her SS) was stranded in San Jose, California, while on travel from her home near Spokane, Washington. Her car was stolen, but recovered, but the towing and impound fees are more than she had – and were increasing daily at the rate of nearly $100. So, various family members tried to find ways to get money to her quickly enough to bail the car out before the fees were worth double the value of the car. We initially sent some money to her bank so she could use her debit card for the payment, but we’ve since learned that this particular form of electronic transfer requires 3 to 5 business days to accomplish, and the impound lot will only accept cash. Her bank is in Spokane and has a daily ATM limit of $400. Other family members set up a GoFundMe account and donated funds. There, too, there is a 2 to 5 business day delay for the beneficiary to get the funds from GoFundMe to their bank account. The fees eat up the funds as fast as we can get them delivered. There are modern ways to do “instant” transfers (PayPal, Facebook, etc.) but the merchant has to accept that form of payment or it doesn’t work, and, again, 2 to 5 business days to get cash out of the electronic account to the account holder’s bank account, and then the daily ATM limit to deal with. I tried to pay over the phone with a credit card, but the impound lot simply refused to do that. On the phone, I asked the impound lot clerk if I could FedEx them a bank cashier’s check—“No”, she said. The stranded sister doesn’t have a credit card. She has no simple way to cash a check or a Western Union draft as her bank is 1,000 miles away. I looked into flying out there to help and to pay the fee but short-notice air fare, one night stay-over, and a rental car would be more than $2,500 even before paying the impound fee and I just can’t afford that. She has appealed to various charities but none can or will help. So: Uncomfortable family drama. I was originally worried the car would be damaged and un-drivable, even if she did manage to get it out, but the impound lot did let her inspect it and drive it within their fence. Her hotel, meals, taxi, and impound fees are increasing faster than we can get money to her. This will eventually leave her essentially homeless in San Jose even though she has a perfectly adequate home waiting for her 1,000 miles away near Spokane. In the meantime, the car is an older Cadillac de Ville. Even though it has low original mileage and has good tires, shocks, battery, brakes, etc., its maximum value is probably only about $3,000—it’s not quite old enough, yet, to be an antique. The initial towing fee and one day of storage gave us a starting point of nearly $500 and it’s escalated very quickly. Then, to add salt to the wound, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's office (who made the initial arrest that led to the recovery) tells her that if she abandons the car, and the impound lot is not able to sell the car for what *they say* is owed them, they will then sue her to recover their lost revenue. What a scam! I finally recommended that she give up and taxi to the airport, fly to Spokane, forget the car and let them sue later keeping a “you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip” (n.d.) attitude.

Ehrenreich, B. (2011). Nickel and dimed: on (not) getting by in America. New York: Picador.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved March 8, 2017 from website

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Trying to make 2016 a little more EZ.

Saturday, December 31, 2016: The last day of the year. This morning I decided to review our iPhoto library for the past year. A lot happened in the world during 2016 for good and for ill. Joy and sadness were both to be part of the human condition. Nevertheless, we were blessed and enjoyed much. So, here in the modern version of the Christmas Newsletter, are a few of the events of 2016 as I was prompted by my iPhoto library (I've not uploaded the photos here as I'd have to export them from iPhoto first and I'm feeling lazy). 

I began the year with recuperation from prostate cancer surgery performed at Brooke Army Medical Center by Dr. Duffy and team on December 3, 2015. As of the end of the year, the recuperation continues (some side effects of treatment remain) and my last test showed cancer-free.

In January, we had some repair and renovation work done on our pool house. The work was done by John, a handyman who lives a few doors from us. We had a new frame baseplate installed, new siding, new doors, and new windows. Cost: About $2,000.

In mid-January, I contacted Mike Holloway in an attempt to learn the providence of the ceramic tile artwork that is attached to the back wall of our home at 9315 Overton Road in San Antonio. This home was built by Mike Holloway's father in 1972 and Mike and his siblings grew up here. He is now a custom home builder in the San Antonio area. He told me that his parents bought the individual art tiles in Monterrey Mexico in the late '70s and had them assembled and fastened to the wall of the house. The art piece is signed but the signature is unreadable and Mike does not remember any more than that. Age and weather are beginning to damage the tiles, and they are not quite assembled in the right order. Viewing the tiled artwork closely you can see that a couple of the tiles are out of order. I contacted a couple of preservationists but no one had any good and simple advice for preserving the artwork.

On January 23rd, we celebrated Ian's 8th birthday at his families’ home.

On February 19th, we celebrated Derek's birthday early along with Glenda's birthday at Derek's home.

In March, son Joel visited Cuba and sent us some photos.

I attended Coffee and Cars in NW San Antonio a couple of times in 2016, the first time, with Jennifer on March 13th.

In late March, I bought a mini-quadcopter UAV and tried to learn to fly it. My skills were not top-of-the-line. On one event, I actually lost the drone in a tree in neighbor Martha Beard's yard. We were able to retrieve the lost toy.

On April 12th, a huge hailstorm swept across San Antonio, doing what was eventually estimated to be $5B in damage. Our home suffered a damaged roof, siding, screens and damage to garden and shrubs, but no broken glass or other serious damage. During the initial cleanup, we had over four tons of tree and shrub debris removed from our yard. It took the rest of 2016 working with insurance and contractors to get all of the repair work done, but by the end of the year we had a nice new roof on both the house and pool shed and new siding and solar screens on the house. Trees and shrubs have all recovered.

In May, Glenda and I drove from San Antonio to Idaho and back to visit friends and family. We spent two nights at the Faywood Hot Springs resort in southern New Mexico and while there visited the City of Rocks state park.

The next stop on the trip was in Tucson, AZ to visit Glenda's aunt Myrna Dillie, who passed away later in 2016. This was an amazing woman who was born and raised in Indian Country, supported a Navy officer husband over a noteworthy career, and spent time as a volunteer teacher and counselor later in life on Indian reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. After that short visit we proceeded to Gilbert, AZ, where we spent a couple of days with son Joel, his daughter Seville, and his beautiful wife, Orenda. We were there for Mother's Day and Orenda hosted a truly wonderful dinner and we got to meet her mother and other family members. Glenda and I attended Sacrament Meeting at an LDS church just a couple of blocks from Joel's home. There were over 500 from this one ward’s congregation in attendance and passing the Sacrament took over 30 minutes with a dozen deacons doing the duty. Four ward congregations meet in this building and, we were told, that not a single member of those four congregations live more than one mile from the building.

From Gilbert we drove to Flagstaff Arizona where we got to have lunch at an Olive Garden Restaurant with my cousin, Evelyn Patterson. Evelyn is a wonderful lady who was a good friend when I was just a child of 10 or so. We lost touch when her family moved from Idaho to Arizona so her father could work on the construction of the Glenn Canyon Dam. How we reconnected is a story unto itself. We now stay in touch via Facebook, and having lunch with her was a wonderful treat.

From Flagstaff we continued on to Utah where we were guests in the home of my Niece, Denine Smith, for a couple of days so we could visit my brother, Warren (her father), and other family members in the area. Warren is aging, having been born on November 15, 1934, and is unfortunately no longer to live on his own but resides in a memory care facility in Bountiful, UT. He could go out with us to lunch and for visits. One of the events we enjoyed was a chalk-art street festival in Bountiful, Utah. On our last morning there, we had breakfast with Denine's youngest sibling, Peri Griffin at Winger's Diner in Kaysville, UT, where we enjoyed fried-bread scones just as the one my Danish mother made when I was wee.

From Utah, we proceeded to Blackfoot, Idaho to visit my Sister, Sarah Leane, who, born on August 28, 1931, is also living in a memory care facility. I think I see a glimpse of my own future. While there, we spent some time with her oldest son, Michael Jensen, who has recently retired from long-haul commercial driving.

After time with Sarah, we went to Twin Falls, where we stayed a few days with Glenda's sister Laurie and her partner, Deb Krause. While there, we were able to visit our grandsons, Michael  and Tyler Johnson, and their Mother, our daughter Glenda Anne Moyes. We took the boys to church on a Sunday and to Disney's live-action Jungle Book movie the next afternoon. While in Twin Falls, we also visited Glenda's step mother, Netta Baum, and took the two boys to see family grave sites in the Magic Valley. Both of my parents are in the Hazelton graveyard while most of Glenda's past family are laid to rest in Twin Falls. Glenda's father just passed away at Thanksgiving time in 2015, and she was able to fly to Idaho for the services.

Leaving Twin Falls, we drove to Nampa to visit with Glenda's other sister Carolyn Baum-Buttorff, and her husband Mark. While in Nampa, Glenda's sister, Janet Lambert, was also able to visit us from her home in Moscow, Idaho, so it was quite a satisfactory reunion.

While there, Carolyn entrusted me with a few hundred historical Baum family photos to digitize and return. As of the end of 2016, that work is about 95% complete, and one of my planned tasks for January of '17.

After our return to San Antonio, Glenda and I visited the San Antonio Zoo in late May, for the first time in many years.

On June 11th, we enjoyed Hot Rod night at Soda Pop's drive in in Boerne, TX, with the company of our eldest son, Derek, his wife Jillian, and their son, Ian.

I attended the drive-in hot rod meet up event again, by myself this time, on July 30th.
For most of the year, Glenda participated in the Eden Ward choir. They provided beautiful music for many of our Sunday worship services. I continued to perform some administrative duties for the Sunday School.

Through most of the summer, we attended grandson Ian's soccer games each Saturday morning. Sometimes, we'd go for brunch with his parents after the game.

In August, I travelled to Pittsburgh, PA for a week to provide training in the proper and safe management of hazardous waste materials to US Air Force members at the 911th Airlift Wing. This is work I've done annually for about 12 years. In 2015, Glenda went with me on this trip and we toured the museums of Pittsburgh and I got to check off one bucket list item by visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, the Fallingwater home in Laurel Highlands, PA.

Glenda and I celebrated our 47th anniversary with our first-ever ocean cruise aboard the Carnival Liberty from Galveston, TX to Cozumel, Mexico in mid-August. This short trip was very relaxing and a lot of fun, too!

One month later, on September 18, 2016, I completed my first-ever 5K run. The Zero Prostate Cancer run in San Antonio. There were around 3,000 participants. I finished far, far from first in my age group, but I did finish!

To celebrate the accomplshment, I took Glenda to a musical review, Lady Sings the Blues, at the Harliquin Theater later in the month.

We hosted our neighborhood's National Night Out get together on October 4th. I grilled hot dogs and we had chips and chilled soda or water for all. We had a great turn out and were supported by visits from our local city police, fire department and city councilman's office. Our neighborhood association helped with the set up and clean up and reimbursed me for the food costs. Around 60 neighbors dropped by for a visit and a snack over the course of the evening. A good time was had by all!

On October 8th, it was back to Boerne. This time we visited their Market Days and annual old-time car show. Hundreds of restored and customized cars. Some real beauties.

On October 10th, Glenda was still swimming daily in the back yard pool, although the night-time lows were into the 50s. I told her she was dedicated to her exercise routine to do that. Later that day, we signed her up for a Gold's Gym membership so she could use their indoor heated pool.

Grandson Ian, with his parents help, has been building and launching model rockets. On the 15th of October, we went with them to a launch at a field in Schertz, TX.

On October 16th, I rode my V-Star 1100 in the international Distinguished Gentleman's Ride. Attended by several hundred motorcyclists, we rode a scenic route through San Antonio, accompanied by a city police motorcycle escort team, while dressed in our finery. This event is an annual fundraiser for prostate cancer research and male health. Some of the riders went all-out in their costumes, and many of the motorcycles were rare or vintage models.

In early November, we attended the Olmos Park Art Shuffle, and saw a wide variety of works of art by local artists. One of the artists on show was John Garland, an acquaintance from my days in the Air Force.

On the evening of the 12th of November, Glenda and I attended the Classic Theater's production of School for Scandal.

Our Thanksgiving Day Dinner was a family success. We fed about 20 people, with Jennifer and Bre, Derek's family, Vincent's family. We had the food catered by D'Lish Cafe and they provided an excellent repast. The family gathering was very satisfying.

On the second of December, we were privileged to attend the Texas Children's Choir presentation at the 7th annual Windcrest Community Christmas Devotional, held at the Windcrest, TX LDS chapel. The choir is a non-denominational group and has leadership and participation from many congregations in the San Antonio area. They have performed for international heads of state, at Carnegie Hall, and with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

In early December, our son, Ben, and his wife, Samantha, gained full-time custody of our grandsons, Michael and Tyler Johnson. These are the two youngest sons of daughter, Glenda Anne, who has unfortunately had her parental rights terminated by the State of Idaho due to her inability (or refusal) to secure and maintain a suitable home for the boys. Ben and Sam traveled to Idaho on the 10th and 11th of December to take the boys to their home in Wisconsin. While Anne sees their actions as traitorous, everyone else sees a giving and loving act on their part.

2016 wound up with a Christmas celebration at our home, with family gathered from Arizona and Wisconsin as well as Texas. We got to play at a firing range, at a bowling alley, and a couple of cafes as well as having a great dinner at home on Christmas Sunday. Santa paid his annual visit, gifts were exchanged with love, and a warm feeling prevailed. The grandkids swam in the back yard pool (!! it was 80 F. Christmas afternoon) and we all sat around the fire pit pool side late into the night.

Through the year, there were a variety of birthday and anniversary celebrations too numerous to mention here.

At 5:00 PM on Friday, December 30, 2016, I officially ended my full time employment and became a retiree! I’ve filed for my Social Security stipend and we’ve been working on being prepared to live on a fixed income. I’ll still work with my company a little, hourly as needed, but no more punching a time clock for me.

So here we are, New Years Eve day. A lot happened in the world during 2016 for good and for ill. Joy and sadness were both to be part of the human condition. Nevertheless, we were blessed and enjoyed much. For all, we are grateful!