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Family reasons are causing me to move out of San Diego. I won't have internet access after I publish this until at least sometime Friday evening, and for some reason my software is not publishing things I schedule ahead of time. I could take my laptop to Starbucks at the appropriate time, but it works out that I've got sole adult charge of the originating end of the move, which includes 2 kids and a dog who is terrified of car rides despite the fact she gets more rides to the park than to the vet (and the ratio would be more lopsidedly park if it wasn't such a chore to deal with giving her a car ride). Let's be real: I'm not leaving them alone to go to Starbucks.

I never thought I'd leave San Diego, but circumstances force the move as the least bad solution. I'm a very private person by nature, but I owe readers at least a note as to what is going on. Those of you who may be close personal friends and were entitled to a more full picture, please respect my family's wishes to keep what has been shared private between us. I am not certain of what my professional future holds at this point. Due to moving away from my client base and the nature of the current economy, it's likely I'm going to have to take a job - as in working for someone else - at least for a while (if I can find one with the employment situation as bad as it is). If I'm not working real estate full time, it strikes me as likely that ignorance of changed conditions will leave me less able to write correctly about real estate or loans and less able to update past articles correctly.

At the very least, past articles will stay up for a while, but how long is unknown. Site revenue took a sudden dive a few months ago when Google decided to start paying a fraction of its previous rate for ads. Where revenue used to be well above costs to keep this up, that situation has now reversed. There's a bit of a pot built up (a couple hundred dollars - about a year at current burn rate), but we shall see what the future holds.

Disneyland Trip

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Just so you know why I haven't written new articles over this weekend, here is my trip report. Didn't take a huge number of pictures - mostly we were busy having fun.


The World's Only Perfect Woman and our kids in front of the Matterhorn. Ramona loved it last time. This time, not so much. Brynhilde liked it.


The Teacups - before the ride.


Main Street Station from the train. If you don't understand how important the train is to a successful day there, have someone explain it to you


Ramona loved King Arthur's Carousel. It's the World's Only Perfect Woman's favorite ride


Our little engineer. She's got disassembly down pat. Be very afraid.


I just think King Arthur's Carousel looks cool at night.


My driver on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Brynhilde's first drive. Mr. Toad never had it so good!


The other half of the family party - Ramona was starting to fade, nap or no


Just after riding Grizzly Rapids the next day. The water was cold, but it was nice after the immediate shock wore off.


My kids with some random unimportant stranger on the Zephyr ride


Ramona, fresh out of crawling over the water faucet in Bug's Life, in line for the Ferris Wheel. She really wanted to ride bad - "They won't let us in!"


Brynhilde, suitably bored in line for the Ferris Wheel.

I've spent the time since recuperating. It's what you need to do when you're an old fat guy who takes young kids to an amusement park for two consecutive days.

I hope to have time and energy to finish an article for Wednesday publication tomorrow. But tomorrow It's going to be a reprint. I would rather it weren't so, but sometimes a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.


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March 25, 1993 - July 19, 2008

Just got home from running a couple of errands, and when we got back, Mellon was dead.

She was fifteen years old, and not in good health, so I'm not all that surprised, but it is like losing a family member. This has not been a good year for me, in any way, shape or form.

She was a pureblood dachshund, black and tan with a silver grey dapple on her. Her name was out of Tolkien elvish, "Friend" it meant, and she was. No champion dog she, but one of the most eye-catching dogs you ever saw, and she loved attention. I knew when I bought her that her hips were bad, but she was such a sweet little dog her whole life that everyone loved her, even though she started losing her mobility before she was five. All she wanted out of life were regular meals and a little affection. I did my best to provide those, and in return, she loved everybody. She never so much as growled at either of the kids, or anyone else for that matter (except Julia, who I felt guilty about introducing into the family with her so old and hampered).

She may have started losing her mobility early, but until recently you could always tell when she was happy. She would run little circles of joy when something good happened - special treat, mommy and daddy paying attention to her, or even just mealtime. She'd go round and round, hips pumping despite how damaged they were. She wasn't in pain, she just couldn't move as easily as most dogs any longer. When she lost the ability to run in circles, we bought her a little canine wheelchair that she hated because she couldn't get under the couch to take shelter from Julia. She couldn't run and play like the puppy, so the girls started ignoring her, but she was still happy with whatever anyone would give her in the way of affection.

Like every other dapple dachshund I've ever seen, she started losing patches of fur quite early. She was such a pretty dog when she was young, but even my wife (whom I met when Mellon was about three) had never seen her with all of her fur, and all of my pictures of her when she was younger (the way I want to remember her) are in storage. Luckily, she lived in San Diego, and she had a sliding glass door her whole life that got good sun in the afternoon. You always knew where you'd find Mellon in the afternoon - right there in that sunny spot.

Goodbye sweetie. Whereever dogs go, may you always have a warm sunny spot and as much food and affection as you need, without any young puppies who don't understand that you're old and can't play like that. You helped me in a very bad time of my life, and I will miss you badly.

New Family Member!

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I need to show her off to someone!

My wife and I had decided to hold off on a puppy due to some peripheral concerns, but she approached me earlier in the week and said, "Hilda needs a dog." So we decided to get a new puppy.

I visited four places today, including a fairly big breeder. Truthfully, I was pretty certain driving up that that breeder was not where I was getting a dog. Yes, they seemed very competent and very ethical (not puppy mill iif that's what you were thinking), but they just had too many dogs to properly socialize them to humans correctly.

My criteria were:

1) Must be miniature shorthair. Dachshund, of course! We're a dachshund family!

2) A dog that was hand raised by a family, not in a cage with other dogs or (worst of horrors!) alone! Dogs are social creatures, and the more and the earlier the human contact, the better!

3) The younger the better, subject to being completely ready to leave mom and the law. I understand there's an eight weeks law now. Well, you've got to comply with the law, but when I brought Thing home at a little under 7 weeks, the fact that I had to get up and feed him every two hours that first week helped us bond.

4) The only one that couldn't be checked over the phone: Personality had to be compatible with sharing a residence with a 7 year old and a 3 year old. Found one that was a possibility at this nice lady's house in Lakeside, but managed to say not yet, and I'm glad I did, because I found a two even better at the last stop of the day in Escondido. I gave serious consideration to a sweet little dilute red with a lot of spunk, but her sister was even better. She's not quite ready to come home with me yet, but we'll be able to pick her up after Wednesday, so we're planning Friday the 30th, so she'll have an entire weekend at home with the family before she's left with only Mellon for company.

After I chose, I took a few pictures, and here's the best one!

View image

Hilda doesn't know she's getting a puppy. We intend to surprise her Friday evening. I'll leave work early, and go pick up the puppy, getting home (I hope) before my wife. We've let the grandparents know, so they can be here if they like to see what happens when Hilda sees the puppy.

Hilda's first real pet! I'm excited, and Ramona is even more excited than I am! And it's going to be a surprise!

(Nobody could believe that coat color just wasn't on my list. But truthfully, I didn't care. I was prepared to search from now until Christmas or longer, because the personality part was that important. Disney notwithstanding, there's no such thing as an Ugly Dashshund)

Charles and I started out Tuesday morning just after rush hour. Jumped on the I-15 out of San Diego on the grounds that this way we would be on major interstates with lots of traffic the whole distance, and cell phone coverage was likely to be good. Just north of Escondido, the speed limit goes from 65 to 70 mph, and this is a good thing. I was just trying to stay within a few mph of the speed everybody else was going - by which I mean I was still being passed more than I was passing, but I wasn't being too worried about the actual numbers on the speedometer, as the whole I-15 corridor seems to be an impromptu version of a Grand Prix event.

So past the Lawrence Welk Village, up the hill past Fallbrook and Rainbow, then past the Immigration checkpoint and into Temecula. Why there is an immigration checkpoint on both the I-5 and I-15 seventy-five miles inside the US border is a mystery to me - all the times I've been past there I've never seen them arrest anyone, nor are there checkpoints on any of the state highways or other roads that pass the same line. Ridiculous waste of resources to hassle citizens for no good purpose.

But this time the checkpoint was closed (lucky!) so no wasting half an hours worth of gas idling to no good purpose. Past Temecula into Murrieta, where we took the I-215 bypass. Even if it does go through the construction in downtown Riverside, I-215 is about 20 miles shorter and doesn't often have mid-day traffic jams like the I-15 can.

Still at 70 mph speed limit all the way to Sun City, a retirement community on the left hand side where you can see them driving their golf carts up and down the streets as you go past on the freeway. Why are they driving golf carts, you ask? Because these folks have lost their driver's licenses. And to judge from the evidence, nobody pays any attention to the five mph reduction in speed limit on the freeway. Then past the Perris airport where you can often see parachutists doing their thing, then March ARB, which used to be a huge Air Force Base but seems to be pretty much idle these days - I don't know when the last time I saw someone land or depart was, and this is the way we come to visit the in-laws. Merge with CA-60 in Moreno Valley, and the worst stretch on the whole trip, five miles down the hill to Riverside. The traffic is always awful here, and they act like there is some kind of area intelligence draining device - maybe it's just Riverside, but my theory is that they pay unemployed stunt drivers to drive unmarked cars up and down this stretch 24 hours a day to see how many accidents they can cause. Not to mention that they don't seem to be able to go over 45 miles per hour. Then CalTrans has one more joker up its sleeve. The 60 and the 215 diverge in downtown Riverside, but there is no warning and as far as I have been able to determine, only one small sign that says 215 North exit here (at the actual exit). The first time I drove this way when I was working in Palmdale, I completely missed it, but happened to notice that the freeway was only marked with signs for CA 60 right away. By weird coincidence, I got off the freeway and turned around at the exit that we use these days to go visit my wife's parents. I didn't meet her until ten years later, but I do wonder if the univese was trying to tell me something.

(Coming back the other way, the signage is reasonably clear that at this particular freeway interchange, the other piece of concrete comes in from the southwest as CA 91 and leaves to the northeast as I-215).

Ao a short wait at the interchange, as this particular freeway connector is in no way, shape, or form equal to the task demanded of it, then off again on the 215 past downtown San Bernardino and up into Cajon Pass. We also start picking up occasional freeway signs for historic route 66 at this point.

If anyone is unaware, US-66 started in Chicago and ended basically in Santa Monica, and those people who moved out to California in the years from the depression into the 1960s to a large extent followed its winding route. US 66 winds from town to town, while the interstates are laid out as straight as possible. Pass Baseline Drive, where the San Bernardino Base and Meridian is where most legal descriptions of land in Souther California are start, then Little League Drive, the western HQ of Little League baseball.

Rejoin the main route of I-15 and start into Cajon Pass. Cajon Pass, except for the last five miles to the summit, is not a difficult climb, pretty stress free. All the way up the hill to CA-138 and the cutoff to Palmdale that I used to take when I worked there doesn't seem too different from any other segment of rural Interstate, except that there are sharp rises to mountains on both sides. The offramp to CA 138 is at 3000 feet (the 138 goes over a 4800 foot saddle where CA 2 to Wrightwood ends, and on the other side of I-15, 138 goes up some of the twistiest, most unforgiving mountain roads I know. If you're 25 and single and driving an Rx-7, some of it is fun. If you're a 40-something family guy driving a less manoueverable vehicle, not so much).

The last five miles up to the pass itself are steep. They've recently added a truck lane, which makes traffic better as these so-called professional drivers used to string out across all four lanes about half the time I went up this segment, despite being legally restricted to the two right lanes, and places like this are why. No looking to see if there's anyone there, they just barge on over to pass and you had better get out of their way. They're doing 40, everybody else is doing 60. So how do you spell "trucker?" Either C-L-U-E-L-E-S-S M-A-N-I-A-C or F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-I-O-N, depending upon whether you're the person they just tried to kill or they simply cut you off and made you hit the brakes to avoid hitting them. I know truckers have got a heavy load and a deadline, but I have no problems keeping track of who may be in my blind spots when I'm driving moving vans and the like, not to mention that anyone else handling equipment even partially as deadly to others would be required to get whatever mirrors or other equipment you might need. Off to the right, there are some impressive badlands as we cross the San Andreas fault somewhere near the 4200 foot summit - highest point on the trip.

Over the hill into Hesperia and Victorville. The Victor Valley has become a major bedroom community, probably close to half a million people up there, who largely work forty miles down the hill in San Bernardino, Riverside and points further and further west. It hasn't grown as much as I would have expected three years ago from the last time I drove through. Hesperia seems to have been started as a railroad community (they've got a big railyard a few miles east of the freeway where the trains going up and down Cajon Pass run through), where I think Victorville grew around George AFB originally. Seems as if most of the California state highways we cross are the ones that come out of the mountains around Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead, as did the 138. Got gas at a station just off the freeway that I was familiar with.

Now, if you're in the area and ever want an quick cheap lesson in the value of trade, exit the 15 at D street in Victorville and turn north along the old route of US-66, which bascially followed the wash of the Mohave River through the desert instead of the I-15 which cuts straight(er) to Barstow. Look at all the shells of buildings in what was once a fairly prosperous area that died after I-15 went down the other side of the ridgeline for a shortcut to Barstow. You'll take maybe 15 minutes longer to get to Lenwood Road which takes you back to the I-15 just outside Barstow at the Outlet Center and Fast Food and Gas agglomeration there.

But this time we stayed on I-15, which cuts across basically empty land to Barstow. It's also a lot less stressfull now that it's three lanes after Victorville instead of two, like it was a few years ago. If you've never been to California, you might think there are people everywhere from the fact that it's the most populous state. Not so, and this twenty miles shows why. There must have been some moisture up there recently because most of the brush was actually green instead of brown or dried out grey, but there is no water and no body in the twenty odd miles between Victorville and Barstow. There are also two or three multi-million dollar freeway offramps that go nowhere and serve no function save as hiding places for the California Highway Patrol in their never-ending quest to write tickets (Note that this has no observable effect on slowing anyone down). Stop for a quick fast-food lunch at the Lenwood Road agglomeration I call the Pit Area, just before Barstow, then off again.

Barstow originally grew up on a hill overlooking the Mohave River, and it's a rail junction as well, having a military logistics depot. Every other job in town has to do with the fact that I-40 and I-15 meet there, so everyone coming out of the San Diego and Los Angeles areas - some sixteen million people - use this as a rest stop on the road to and from Las Vegas. You'd expect more people, but the sign at Barstow City Limits says the same 23,000 it did several years ago. Perhaps the surrounding armpits communities of Daggett, Lenwood, and Yermo make up the difference. Barstow is at about 2100 feet - half the elevation of Victorville. Needless to say, it gets hot - I've seen 120, but today it's fairly pleasant - maybe 90. Must be because it's mid-October.

Onto the beginning of I-40. We're a little less than halfway. About half the truckers but almost none of the cars peel off with us on this Tuesday afternoon. A sign says "Greenville North Carolina 2554 miles". I don't know why, because checking the maps when I got home says the I-40 ends up in Wilmington. I've never been on this section of the road before, as when we went to see the Grand Canyon we went another way, and I came to the I-40 on the I-17 at Flagstaff when I went back and forth to Oklahoma City from San Diego.

Past the Barstow-Daggett airport. No planes moving. What a surprise. Seem to be following the railroad east. Twenty-odd miles of nothing to Newberry Springs, which is basically a offramp and a gas station or two, although I do see a UPS truck off on a parallel road. Another fifty-odd miles to Ludlow, ditto minus the UPS truck. Nice broad valleys, and the only life you see is the brownish scrub. No people. Elevation runs up and down between about 2000 and 3000 feet. With water, it would be beautiful. Even without, it has its charm. I'm doing about the posted limit of 70, most of the truckers seem to hanging around 60. Several of them pull right in front of me to pass other truckers, forcing me to tap the brakes, but only in two cases is it close enough to consider it attempted murder (okay, attempted criminally negligent vehicular manslaughter), so not bad considering the number of truckers encountered.

The "high point" of this entire segment consists of me having to take a leak. It started with a vague urge just past Ludlow. Only there is literally no place to go, other than the side of the road, and it would be just my luck that a CHP would happen to be hiding under that exact bush and write me a $300 ticket for public urination. It happened to a guy I know on I-15 on the way to Las Vegas, and there's more offroad cover, there. But there are is nowhere to stop; I-40 is laid out fairly straight, where US-66 meandered from small town to town basically several miles south of the route of I-40. So there is no one and nothing and no place where it is technically legal to relieve yourself. So the pressure builds. After about thirty miles, I'm squirming in my seat. I don't want to mention a number, but my speed starts creeping upwards. Luckily, none of the truckers picks this time to try to run me off the road, or the problem would become academic, and I'd just have to change my pants. I'm trying to concentrate on driving and trying to focus what's left over in Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War of the Worlds, a late 1970s performance piece with Richard Burton narrating passages from the original HG Wells and several moderately well known performers of the era performing musical numbers. Well worth listening to, and, as the surrounding scenery seemed definitely martian, appropriate. Except for the freeway and associated signs, nothing manmade in sight the whole way. About the point in time where I'm about to conclude a potential $300 ticket is a chance worth taking, I see a sign that says "rest area 12 miles". By this time it's bad. I mean I've got to go as bad as Tycho Brahe must have. I'm not certain I'll be able to contain it when I stand up. But off I go, happy in the knowledge that I Have A Goal. A trucker doing 53 mph by my speedometer pulls right in front of me with about two miles to go (no pun intended), and if my car came equipped with photon torpedoes he'd have been driving a rapidly expanding ball of superheated gasses, because it hurt, and it hurt worse when I had to brake. Finally, we pull into the rest area, and I manage to make it into the restrooms without suffering containment failure. And then by the time I walk back to the car, I've got to go again. Empty the tanks completely. Then off, up a couple more hills, before starting down the hill to the Colorado River. The sign says "Running Springs Summit 2770 feet." Hardly worth posting.

Down the hill, I-40 is joined by US 95 which parallels the Colorado River from Mexico north to Las Vegas. I-40 makes a big loop to the south starting at the town of Needles (which I usually call "Needless"), so even though you're within a mile of Arizona the whole way, it's about ten miles until you actually cross over the river. But I don't really mind, because you can see green things from here, which after that long staring at basically bare dirt, any green is welcome. Drop down to about 500 feet elevation. You're also close to the Nevada line at Needles. Pass a couple of recreation areas, then over the river. There's a cool looking bridge just to the south, and of course the railroad crosses over where you do. There are a couple of little gas station and food combos at the offramps off the freeway here, but I don't see any actual, you know, dwelling places. The posted limit goes up to 75, and so do I. Then the state of Arizona for some unknown reason puts a "no lane changes" restriction on the interstate for about a mile and a half prior to their inspection station, which has got to be nearly ten miles in. By now, any sign of the river is lnvisible behind the hills. There is no more green. I-40 eventually starts northbound again as it starts to get dark. The scenery was starting to get pretty, the "painted" buttes and such that Arizona is famous for, but you can't see it in the dark. Through the town of Yucca, which appears to be basically a freeway offramp connected to a freeway onramp, with buildings on both. Then about 40 miles past the river, a town centered around a large building that looks like a large painted toaster. Up the side of the line of bluffs we've been paralleling, and past "historic" Kingman, which looks like it grew up holding on to the sides of those bluffs, into where most of the people actually live on the other side of the ridgeline, and off the freeway. Three miles north, turn right and go past the community college, and we're there.

Spent some time with the person I came here to see, but with the pain medication and the aftermath of all the cancer treatments, they really aren't there anymore. Every time I see something like this I'm more determined to have a method to check out under my own control when the time comes. I agree that life should be something sacred, but when it becomes a permanent pit of suffering and the person everybody knew and your family loved is replaced by a placeholder and the person who was there is never coming back, then whatever powers that run the universe are telling you that it is time to move on.

I actually spent more time with the caregiver spouse while I was there, talking about various things, but we've never been close. Furthermore, despite the best allergy medications available, there is only so much time I can spend in a house that has several cats. Charles was staying a few more days - he's not allergic to cats and he doesn't have a wife and two young girls that need him there back in San Diego. But it was time for me to come home. It hurts to leave when you know you're never going to see someone you love again, but like I said earlier, they were really gone already. I said my final goodbye and got in the car.

I had planned to leave right before sunset, as I-40 is going south for that first segment and the sun wouldn't be in my eyes, but ended up staying an extra hour so it was twilight as I drove down the Stockton Hill Road and got gas and two sodas for the trip. One Caffeine Free Diet Coke, one regular Diet Coke in case I need caffeine. Gas in Kingman was twenty-odd cents cheaper than in California, so I think Arizona must not levy a tax on it. Same unleaded gas. Back in the car and onto the freeway, theoretically westbound but in actuality south.

As most people are aware, driving after dark is a different world, more so through barren lands like this. There are a few places where people live on the Arizona side, but once you cross the river into California, there is Needless and a few miles further north, the lights of Bullhead City Arizona and across the river, Laughlin Nevada, a kind of Las Vegas wannabe. You can see the lights from the freeway near Needles, but that's it. Once you're past Needles and start the climb, the only thing you see is the other vehicles on the freeway; a string of red lights in front of you, going the same way, and oncoming white lights off to the left. Kept the speedometer right near the posted limit of 70. Passed just as many truckers as I did the other way, but none tried to run me off the road, and none came particularly close. Perhaps the fact that they can see my lights on the road beside them helps, but during the day they just can't keep up a routine of actually, you know, looking in their mirrors and then remembering that if there's somebody there, they didn't just vanish.

Living in a major city, I rarely have any use for highbeams. The law reads you can't use them within 500 feet behind another vehicle. Truth be told, as long as I can see the taillights of the vehicle in front of me I usually don't bother switching on highbeams. That car up there is not having any problems, and I can see stuff that interposes between. But there were segments where it was the prudent thing to do to turn on the highbeams. Except for the lights of the other vehicles, it's dark on the I-40 at night in that area. Overhead the desert sky has about triple the number of visible stars it does in the city, but except for the occasional airplane, there is no man made light away from the freeway. This area of the Mohave desert is that deserted. Most of California's population is in three coastal mega cities plus the Central Valley. East of Barstow, I don't think there's 10,000 people within a fifty mile swath of country on both sides of I-40 until you get to Needles. Except for the 2000 person town of Baker, the same probably applies to the I-15 corridor until you get to the Nevada state line. Up north of Sacramento, the population thins out in a major way also, although it's green there.

Ludlow. Newberry Springs. Daggett and then Barstow. Starting to get hungry, but even the fast food places are closed or closing. Still pitch black except for the freeway until you come over the hill that looks down on Victorville. Stopped for gas in Victorville even though I have nearly half a tank, just so there was no anxiety, and decide not to get any junk food. I need to lose a lot of weight anyway, and I've still got the Diet Coke if I need caffeine, although it's warm now. Ick. Wish I'd bought another, but this one will work if it needs to.

Up the last few miles to Cajon Pass. They've got the right three lanes (and the brake check area) closed for road work, so there are only two lanes open. The right lane is solid truckers, and they are understandably taking it as slow as they can (my engine will stop my car if it needs to. Theirs may not, and definitely won't on that slope), and I get stuck behind some woman who doesn't want to pass any of them for some reason. So she hangs out in this one tanker truck's blind spot the whole several miles until the freeway opens up again. Stupid. Yes, her lights were on, but it's not nearly so dark here, and he could have missed or forgotten about them if he decided he wanted to change lanes. I made sure I was in a gap far enough back where the one wouldn't hit me and the one behind him could see me, until the freeway opened up to five lanes again. Down past 138, and I'm thinking this isn't too bad, and I'll be home before I get too tired. Off onto 215 again, through the place in San Bernardino where it come together with CA 30 and narrows to one lane for no good reason before expanding back to three. There's a lot of cars on the road now, and will be for the rest of the trip.

Around the "exit" back to San Diego in order to stay on the 215, instead of continuing on the 91 which takes over the same piece of concrete that's been the 215 until now. Up the hill out of Riverside, and just because it's getting close on midnight doesn't mean this hill is any less stressful. Like I said, paid stunt drivers doing 45 mph on the freeway and trying to cause accidents. But after five miles they vanish near the top of the hill (or maybe they continue on the 60), as the 60 and 215 split. March AFB looks deserted. Suburban lights both sides of the freeway right up to the mountains. Two more turns, past Sun City, and the Speed Limit goes back up to 70, not that anybody around me was doing 65 prior to that. Up a long gentle hill, then back down again as the 215 and the 15 reunite, then past Temecula and notice that the immigration checkpoint on the northbound side is closed. Again or still, I'm happy. The whole concept of having it there is one colossal waste.

After that, there are pieces of if not wilderness, at least open space in the hills between Temecula and Escondido. Just past the intersection with CA 76 into Oceanside is a bridge over the freeway between two hills. No offramp, no onramp, just a bridge overpass maybe a hundred feet overhead. But it's an eye-catchingly pretty piece of engineering, with graceful curves, and to anyone who lives in San Diego and drives up the I-15 regularly, it kind of says "Welcome home." At this point, I could probably put myself into autopilot mode and not worry about anything until I'm turning into the driveway, but that's not a good way to actually arrive, so I take a couple pulls on the bottle of warm Diet Coke. Ick, but it's enough of a jolt that I'm fully awake and processing traffic information. Drop down into Escondido. Even though it's after midnight, still a lot of cars on the road, most of them acting like it's the 24 hours of Le Mans. Solid suburbia from here on out. Nothing remarkable, you just have to watch out for traffic. Half an hour or so later, I'm home. Greet the dogs, wind down and crawl into bed, trying unsuccessfully not to wake Ramona. We cuddle a bit, and fall asleep.

I'm Back

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Home again. Mentally soggy, though. Maaybe I'll be sharper tomorrow. Probably going to spend rest of evening petting dachshunds and watching a movie.


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Posting is liable to be light for involuntary reasons for the rest of the week at least. I may have another post Tuesday afternoon several hours after the Carnival, but then I'm going into the hospital early Wednesday morning, and will not have access until I get home, and am likely to be under the influence of drugs (sedatives and such) for a while. So my ability to post - or post coherently - may suffer adverse effects for a while.

Just gave our elder daughter her first swim lesson while Ramona (who tenses up around water) watched from behind the bush.

Just confidence building exercises - showing her she's tall enough to stand in the shallow end, then how close to floating she is if she relaxes. "If you're not scared of the water" type things. Followed by a few passes at kicking around the pool while holding onto daddy's arm.

We came back in, and she ran up to Mommy and said in a very excited voice, "Daddy showed me how to swim!!"

I think I've had my father's day present.

About DM

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Dan Melson

I was born in 1961, in San Diego County, California, where I have lived almost all of my life.

Politically, I am a libertarian of sorts. I tend towards small government solutions in most things, but this is subject to change for over-riding concerns. I tend to believe that if it doesn't harm anyone else, you should be allowed to do it. I tend to believe that anybody who wants to be treated as an adult, with the rights and privileges attached to adulthood, should be required to be responsible for themselves. I am a Capitalist. I find nothing inherently wrong in considering your own interest, on the individual or national level, but tend to believe that the interests that should be considered first in political decisions is overall well being of the entity making the decision, or on whose behalf the decision is being made. For example, United States officials should usually consider the interests of the United States as a whole first.

Religiously, I tend to call myself a spiritual humanist. I believe the divine exists, but it's nature is not nearly as important to me as the behavior I think it expects an adult human to manifest. I consider failing to exhibit negative behavior to be as important as exhibiting positive behavior. For those of organized religions reading this, I consider myself a supporter of those that accomplish good in the world, and I do recall both subclauses in the First Amendment that relate to religion, where some seem to forget the part about not restricting the free exercise thereof.

Professionally, I am a Real Estate Loan Officer and Agent, in that order. This is my third career. I also have or have had professional qualifications and experience in financial planning (investments and life and health insurance), and as an Air Traffic Controller.

I have been married to Ramona since 1997. She works at a Credit Union which shall remain unidentified to avoid possible trouble, even though we have a lot of praise for them, both as an employer and a place to do business. We have two daughters, Brynhilde ("Hilda") born St Patricks Day of 2000, and Ramona, born September 10, 2004 (We thought she might end up being a 9/11 baby for a while!). We have two shorthair dachshunds, a black and tan male named House-Thing ("Thing") and a female black and tan with silver/grey dapple named Mellon, as in "Say friend and enter" (But the black ball-dog usually comes first!). They're really my dogs as opposed to the family's, as I acquired them several years before my wife and I met, but they are both good with the girls despite the fact that they're getting on in years. We also have an aquarium full of the technicolor piranha known as "guppies".

My interests are (aside from professional or former professional) science fiction and fantasy, role playing gaming, computers, computer gaming, history (especially military, political, and technological history) and politics. Neat scientific, mathematical, and technological development, as well as worthwhile movies, plays, and music will usually attract my attention. I love to laugh, and to learn. Sports just isn't my thing unless I've got a personal stake. Due to family constraints, I watch very little television and movies often have to wait for the DVD.

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