Tag Archives: journal

2018-02: Monthly review

Settlement on our house took place on schedule, February 16. The proceeds from the sale were deposited in our account on February 20.

I’m about as ready for the Chilly Hilly as I can get. Grant and Benton assured me that I won’t have any problem. I’m hoping the weather isn’t too cold and wet. I have a rear fender installed, but couldn’t get the front fender on; the screws don’t seem to fit the holes in the fork ends. Received the jersey on February 17, as I was getting for a ride, so I wore it, unwashed (gasp!).


2018-01: Monthly review

We’re settling into Shoreline. This involves developing isolated activities into patterns. For instance, we’ve shopped at several food markets, and now Susan has an idea of which stores to go to for various types of provisions (e.g., meat, produce, good prices on staples). We’ve also begun getting appointments with various doctors. And of course we’ve been spending a lot of time with Ren, Chris and Grant.

I’ve been riding my bicycle, at last! In Maryland, I practically never rode outside in the winter. Here, I’m trying to ride like a local. I spent a significant amount on clothing suitable for the weather, and I’m hopeful of doing the famous Chilly Hilly ride on February 25. I’ve found a couple of routes I can ride from home, including some fairly steep segments. I’ve been on a longer ride with Grant and Benton. I’ve also started recording some of my rides on Strava.

We have a contract to sell our house in Edgewater, with settlement planned for February 16. If this goes through, it will be the last formal tie to Maryland. Our agent, Chip, has been very good about handling the details and keeping us informed. I’m looking forward to converting a substantial fraction of our assets from the illiquid real estate form to cash. There will still be some expense to correct issues found during the home inspection.

On the project side, not much progress on Neal’s Story or WN. However, I put together a first draft of Susan’s Camino, and gave her a proof copy. This was a project I imagined back in the fall, when I realized it was the tenth anniversary of her 500 mile pilgrimage. I’ve also updated the website for her Camino commentary and pictures; it needs her attention to refine it. Once that is done, we can add some pictures to her book and publish it.

The unpacking process is taking longer than anticipated, even with Chris prodding us. There are boxes we haven’t opened, and things we’ve looked for that we can’t find. We are making progress.



0000-00: Monthly review template

yyyy-mm: Monthly review

Date in title refers to the month being reviewed

  • Work I got done
  • Projects I’ve moved forward
  • Personal learning I’ve been working on
  • Health and fitness challenges I’ve been doing
  • Other big life events (some of them unexpected)
  • Things I’ve learned and want to remember
  • Hopes for the next month

2017-12: Monthly review

Happy New Year from Shoreline, Washington!

We’re still settling in (i.e., unpacking boxes and trying to find stuff), but we like the house and the area, and being close to Ren (and Chris and Grant).

I accomplished nothing of my projects that aren’t related to the move, but I feel like I should be able to get re-started soon. I did get my first bike ride since the move today, 10 miles. The movers messed up my bike, but at least it’s rideable. Due to the move, I didn’t ride at all after October 24. My total for 2017 was 1,740 miles; my target was 2,100.

We had a white Christmas in Shoreline, nearly unheard-of. The day was spent mostly at Chris’s, with a couple of returns home to walk Billy. It’s very convenient to be so near. We could take Billy over there (and we have), but he and Batu (Golden Retriever) get rambunctious, not a good idea with a slew of presents under the tree or being opened. Also, Billy felt the need to mark a chair in their living room. We’re all learning something.


2017-11: Monthly review

A little late this month, and skipped the previous review, so more than usual to cover.

Much of October was spent in sorting our stuff, to keep, sell, or donate, and packing the portion to keep. A few items were sold on Craigslist.com, quite a bit was donated to Good Will, or placed at the street where many items were taken in a matter of hours. We also worked on minor repairs and cleaning of the house, though the cleaning was mostly wasted effort as the painters and repairmen came through and made a mess in the process.

On October 30, the moving van came and took waaay more stuff away than we should have packed. Downsizing after 39 years in one house is hard! We spent the next two weeks at Carl/Renee/Chad’s house, while we did what we could to get the house ready to sell. Then we handed off to our agent to supervise the rest of the repairs/renovations, loaded Billy into the car and drove across the country. We hadn’t settled on a route ahead of time, as the weather could be a problem along the shortest, most northerly, route. We ended up going through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. We made a short side trip to Hastings, NE, where my great-great-grandfather had been mayor in the 1880s. We also stopped briefly at the Messenger Old West Museum in Cheyenne, WY. We generally made good time, except in Wyoming. There we were forced off I-80 by a closure, and had to sit in a parking area with about 50 trucks and 25 cars for around five hours. When finally allowed on the road, we had to backtrack, and made a net progress of only 34 miles that day.

Our stuff arrived while we were still in Maryland, but Chris took care of meeting the movers and directing placement of furniture, boxes and loose items. On December 5 we spent our first night in the house, still surrounded by numerous boxes, and still wondering which box held the most urgent item at any given moment. Moving in is a work in progress.

I accomplished nothing on my projects, except for two sentences for TYHE: The first chapter will describe the various jobs the narrator took after leaving school, before deciding to try space-work. The chapter will end with the sentence: “I hate plumbing.” Chapter two will begin with the sentence: “A spaceship is mostly plumbing.”

I also had an idea for a new project, but haven’t been able to do anything about (tangible) about it: while updating the website for Susan’s Camino (fixing the picture albums), I can collect the material into a book, similar to what I did for Chris’s blog.


2017-09: Monthly review

The following quote from Steve Jobs was played during the tribute to him on the opening of the Steve Jobs Theater at the new Apple Park:

There’s lots of ways to be as a person. And some people express their deep appreciation in different ways. But one of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there. And you never meet the people, you never shake their hands, you never hear their story or tell yours, but somehow, in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love, something is transmitted there. And it’s a way of expressing to the rest of our species our deep appreciation.

This captures a feeling I’ve had for many years, and which I hope gets passed along to anyone who reads these words.

2017-08: Monthly review

Busy month. August was dominated by our trip, which was in four parts: Colorado and Wyoming for research; Seattle pre-eclipse; Oregon camping in the vanagon named Butter for the eclipse; Seattle post-eclipse.

Before our trip, we met with the recommended handyman, Scott, to get an estimate on repairs prior to selling the house. We also had modest success selling a few items on Craigslist.

On the 8th we flew to Denver and drove to Fort Collins. On a whim, we stopped at the welcome center. The friendly folks there asked what we were looking for, and when they heard we were researching family history, they summoned the manager. After telling them a bit about Harry Gant, they got more excited and said I needed to talk to Wayne, who was due to arrive any minute (around 11:00). They showed me his book about 150 years of FC history. I went out to the car to get copies of ISTRA/MISTRA, just as Wayne arrived. I ended up giving them those copies, and later sent a couple more. They hope I can return some time and talk to their local history group. We walked from the Best Western University Inn to the Fort Collins Museum Of Discovery (FCMOD). The archives are free and the woman on duty looked up Nellie Gant, finding a beautiful studio photo of six people, one named Nellie Sheffield Grant. The photo is not dated, but is obviously after she married Gant in 1901. Four of the other names are Sheffields but not familiar to me. We also looked at a brand book for 1912 or 1914. We found a brand, S Bar, registered to the Tenney Brothers; this cast doubt on my hypothesis that the Gant T Cross brand had been obtained from them. We also saw a brand, 6 T Bar, registered to Jonathan Gant of Rifle, in Garfield County; this is quite a bit west of FC.

We walked around FC looking at the addresses we have for Harry and John E Gant. It’s doubtful any of the buildings are the ones they lived in.

On the 9th, we walked across the street to the CSU library archives and looked at a brand book from 1894. This also had the Tenney Bros S Bar. Susan and were both astounded to find the T Cross brand, registered to J. Armstrong, Jr, of Fort Collins, probably Jacob Armstrong, father of George Armstrong, Gant’s friend and grandfather of my friend Ken Armstrong of Maple Creek, SK. As Susan said, it sent chills up and down our spines. There was also a linked A and J brand registered to Jac’b Armstrong, Jr of Larimer Co. This book also had advertising for the Denver Union Stock Yard, including a bird’s eye view drawing of the area.

We next drove to Greeley. I had corresponded with the archivists there, and they were ready for us with a 1900 Colorado brand book and a 1905 Weld County brand book. The 1900 book has the T Cross brand registered to Jno. E. Gant of Fort Collins. This seems to imply that Gant obtained the Armstrong brand between 1894 and 1900. Maybe Ken Armstrong knows something about it. There is also a brand registered to H. T. Decker of Woods, WY. Another brand, Rocking L, is registered to J. J. Armstrong, Greeley, Weld Co. Another linked A J brand is also registered to Jacob Armstrong of Fort Collins. The book also has two brands registered to E. N. Sheffield, of New Windsor, Weld Co., and E. E. Sheffield of Fort Collins. In order to look at these books, I was required to wear gloves (I chose white cotton, rather than blue latex or blue non-latex). These made turning pages a bit difficult, and I was tempted to remove them to turn pages. We listed the pages that interested us, and the staff photocopied them for us. They were very interested in our story and the success of our visit.

After lunch we drove around looking for the ranch locations I had found for Tenney and Decker. The dirt county roads made us feel justified in getting a SUV rather than a sedan. On one road we met a “Dust Suppression Application” operation.

On the 10th, we drove to Cheyenne. The Old West Museum associated with Cheyenne Frontier Days was disappointing. At the state museum archives, I was shown a collection of programs from CFD. The 1907 program had a photo of a potato race, which was one of Gant’s best events. (He won in 1909, with Tom Mix on his team.) The Messenger Old West Museum was fantastic. We were ready to leave and stopped to tell the caretaker how much we liked it, when a thunderstorm moved in. Rather than go out in the rain we said we’d keep looking, so he came along with us and pointed out some of his favorite bits. When Susan asked if they had any books to buy, he said no, but maybe he could find something. He went somewhere for a minute and came back with a DVD, which he gave us, declining our offer to pay the $20 listed on its case! We then drove to Chugwater, to check the terrain in which I’m setting Neal’s Story. It was kind of funny to announce the creeks we would cross while Susan drove; I’ve pored over enough maps that I knew them pretty well, better than I know our own neighborhood, according to Susan. The land is mostly flat, only lightly dissected by shallow canyons for most creeks (at least where the highway crosses them), until you get to Chugwater. That creek has carved significant steep-sided bluffs, perfectly suited to the events I’d already written. In Chugwater, we stayed at the Buffalo Lodge and Grill. The woman in the fringed buckskin jacket said she could make us some chili or a burger, but suggested the Stampede Saloon and Eatery, for the Thursday Jam Session. She also told us that she’s charging $450 per night with a two-night minimum for the eclipse. Chugwater is not in the path of totality; other places in Wyoming are charging $1,000. We walked past the Chugwater Chili Company store, which was closed, the Chugwater Soda Fountain (“Wyoming’s Oldest Operating Soda Fountain”), and the Chugwater Museum, also closed. The jam session included about eight enthusiastic performers.

On the 11th, we bought some chili products, then got chocolate shakes and prairie pies for the road to Fort Laramie. We stopped at the Wheatland visitor center, just barely within the totality path. Despite a lot of eclipse-related souvenirs, the woman there was not enthusiastic, anticipating many problems such as gridlock, brush fires ignited by catalytic converters, inability of volunteer fire fighters to get to their stations and then to fires, and bank robberies. We didn’t see much of interest around Fort Laramie, then went back to Wheatland for dinner. On this trip in cattle country, we expected to find decent steaks; we were disappointed. In fact, we were somewhat appalled at the way cattle and sheep are crowded into pens. After dinner, we drove to the Elk Mountain Hotel. This is a slightly bizarre hotel with a dozen rooms or so. The proprietors are characters, and the Eliza Swaine room is decorated with nine photos and paintings of naked ladies (probably not Eliza Swaine).

On the 12th, we drove to the Snowy Range of the Medicine Bow mountains, up to Libby Flats at 10,847 feet elevation. We walked a couple of miles, then drove to Laramie. At around 4 am, someone pounded on our hotel room window. It took a while to figure out the phone to call the front desk, and I don’t think they ever found out what was going on. Probably someone went out for a smoke, and couldn’t get back in.

On the 13th we, we drove through Fort collins and got mini-donuts for the road from Peace, Love, and Little Donuts (Feed your inner hippie), then on to Denver. Due to te Colorado Classic bike race ending in Denver that day, we didn’t try to see the location of Gant’s livery stable. Then on to Seattle, where Chris and Ren picked us up at the airport.

The next few days were generally getting ready for the eclipse trip, Chris and Grant had reserved campsites at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, within the path of totality. We hiked around the park, and saw nine of the ten waterfalls, some of which you can walk behind. On the  21st, we staked out a spot in a meadow with a good view toward the sun, and waited along with a few hundred others. As Chris later said, she knew what she’d see, but not how she’d feel. It was an amazing experience, which I recommend to anyone who has the chance to see it.

After the eclipse, we looked online at some properties Chris had identified, both apartments and houses. While driving around, we came across a sign for one, and called to arrange to look at it. As it turned out, this was the only one we actually looked at, and we signed a lease before coming home. We expect to move in November.

With all this activity, I haven’t made much progress on my personal projects.





2017-07: Monthly review

On July 3rd we bought a new car. We bought our previous car, a 2016 Mazda CX-5, in August 2015 from FitzMall Mazda in Annapolis. In June we received a mailing that described incentives and low interest rates, suggesting they could put in a 2017 CX-5 for the same payment. Skeptical, I called Anthony Johnson, the salesman we had dealt with before, to see if that was actually realistic. He was encouraging (surprise!), so we went in to talk, and ended up buying the car. The 2016 model ws version 1.0 of the CX-5, and the newer model has better suspension, better sound insulation, and a few new features. Among the features we like are: two-driver seat position memory, auto-hold brake, heads-up display shows digital speed, and recognizes certain traffic signs (speed limits and stop signs).

We’ve completed most of the planning for our August research trip, prior to the eclipse expedition. I’ve also been in touch with Ken Armstrong; he won’t be able to meet up with us on this trip, but we’ll try some other time.

My Social Security benefit has started, so we’re now reaching all of our regular retirement income. The remainder will consist of Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from IRA/401k accounts. These will vary each year, based on an IRS table and the year-end balance in the accounts.

We’ve also met with the realtor and his recommended interior designer, and have a fairly good idea of the changes they think we should make for selling the house.

We’ve also had advice on where to look for a place when we move: Edmonds. We’ll see.


2017-06: Monthly review

Chris and Ren came to visit in June, and we did a lot to get ready for a yard sale and to meet a real estate agent.

The yard sale netted over $200, and resulted in donation of a lot of metal for recycling, and usable items for Good Will, the Senior Center, and friends.

The agent advised us on people to do various tasks around the house, and things we should do. He recommended we prepare the house with minor tasks, then move out and allow major work to go forward without disrupting us. He also said the last few years sales have been best in Dec-Feb, rather than in the spring.

So, at last we have a strategy! We have “commitments” through October, but might be able to move to Seattle before Christmas. C has said we are welcome to stay up to six months with them.

On NS, added chapters 69-76 (Gunnar’s death).

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2017-05: Monthly review

NS is up to chapter 69.

No progress on WN.

Activated SS benefits; first payment expected July 26 (payments are scheduled for fourth Wednesday of each month).

Planned CO/WY part of August trip. Will locate Harry Gant’s house location (307 S Sherwood St, Fort Collins) and the street where John E Gant lived (number came up 1, but probably incorrect). In Greeley, hope to find some info about the Tenney ranch and brand, and maybe the Gant brand in 1905 Colorado Brand Book. Still need to refine questions for Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.

Saw Orioles/Yankees game with Barbara/John and Phyllis/Jim, in suite 62.

Had a quiet birthday, mostly to be celebrated when Chris/Ren arrive mid-June.

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2017-04: Monthly review

I didn’t write a review of March, due to a major distraction in early April: I was summoned to Mom’s deathbed on 4/4. She died 4/9, and we held a ceremony to commemorate her, Gary and Terry on 4/23. See the post: 2017-04-04: Mom’s death.

Aside from those significant events, March and April included the following.

Ended my trial run with mint.intuit.com and deleted my account. There were numerous problems with mint.com connecting to certain financial institutions, requiring me to repeatedly enter login credentials. Also (maybe not caused by mint) a credit card was fraudulently used (fortunately caught by Chase).

NS is up to chapter 61.

Little progress on WN.

While in Seattle, we attended the PBR at the Tacoma Dome. We visited the exhibition of China’s Terra-cotta Army; the exhibit was very good, and I have recommended it to others when it moves to Philadelphia.

Retirement: applied for SS benefits, payments should start in July.

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2002-01: GTD – Monthly reviews

2017-02: Monthly review

NS: began making map to show relative locations of ranches and certain landmarks that figure in the story, e.g., waterways.

ISTRA: contacted Western Livestock Journal to inquire about archives. They’re at Colorado State University library in Fort Collins. Unfortunately, 1931 is missing. Still might find something interesting. Archivist Linda Meyer sent link to CO newspapers: https://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org/ which looks interesting.

Retirement: decided to move up start of SS benefit.

Finances: started trial of mint.intuit.com to see if budget, etc functions are worthwhile.

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2016-12: Monthly review

I made 2,016 miles in 2016! About 145 hours on the bike, moving and stationary.

We went to Shoreline for Christmas with Chris, Grant and Ren (and Grandot, Dina, Lew, Linda, Blythe, Garth, Joni, Laura and Laura’s son AJ). Ren played a lot of Monument Valley on my iPhone.

I downloaded the latest version of OpenCyc (4.0) and found it runs with no changes on MacOS with Java 1.7. I plan to start the tutorials, but many of the documentation links on cyc.com are broken. Some documentation is available through an old MIT course site.

At the Browns, someone mentioned “The Orphan Train”, a book based on a mid-1800’s custom of sending trains full of orphans from easter cities to the mid-west, where they were sold to farmers as laborers. This reminded me that Harry Gant’s grandfather was said to have been adopted in Iowa in that time frame. It might be interesting to see if there is any evidence he was in that “migration”.

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2016-11: Monthly review

November was dominated by Disney World. We had a great trip with Ren, Chris and Grant, and with Carl and Renee. It was fun seeing Carl repeat experiences he had had with Chris at the same age. Ren was very good, with only one melt-down after a couple of long days.

I resumed work on Barbara’s snow globe project. It’s nearly finished.

While working on organizing my files as part of the migration to my new computer, I re-read the summary document of Mom, Gary, Dina and my emailed reminiscence in 2002. I mentioned it to Susan, and she suggested putting it into a book. She found a suitable picture for the cover, and within two days it was formatted and ready for review. After a couple rounds of review/update using CreateSpace’s digital proof facility, I ordered four hardcopy proofs, three for gifts (Mom, Dina, and Chris). They arrived quickly and are ready for giving. I won’t publish it.

I purchased PowerPhotos, and intend to use it to manage our pictures in the Photos app on the Mac.

I’ve been using my old Sirrus on the training stand, and am on track to get over 2,000 bike miles this year. Chris suggested making my goal 2,016 miles for 2016.

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2016-10: Monthly review

Computer: I bought a Mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15″ (16GB RAM, 500GB SSD, AMD Radeon R9 M370X graphics). I’ve arranged with Carl to store backups at his house.

Work: I retired on 10/28! The team at Estimation Program Office and some other colleagues gave me a nice send-off (Chevy’s) and made a VERY generous donation to Qhubeka / World Bicycle Relief.

I’ve applied for Medicare part B, and have to select a health insurance package by 12/14. After that, work-life will be over (hopefully). I intend to keep in touch with Dave and Rick, and have promised to help EPO with the Excel tools I developed. But barring an unpleasant financial surprise, I should now be able to focus on Susan’s and my personal projects.


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2016-05: Monthly review

NS: no progress

WN: improved fish model; verified mirror-modifier; verified human pose modifiers; verified compatible scale fish/human.

TYHE: new tweezers still too large to fit holes while holding clips, will have to use glue.