View Joe Lowry's profile

Work Parking Problems by
10
(22 Stories)

Prompted By Parking

/ Stories

Parking was no problem until I went to college at Cal Poly SLO.  In my freshman year, I lived in an apartment next to the campus.  In my sophomore year, I was a couple of miles away, but Cal Poly had plenty of on-campus parking, even though everyone complained about how bad the parking was there.  Yes, it might be a 10-minute walk away from the class room or lab you had to go to, but that did not seem excessive to me.

Parking, never a problem for me at college, but work at Lockheed was different.

Then it was off to San Jose State University.  There, students did have a legitimate complaint about parking.  There was only one five story parking garage, about 1,500 slots for a student population of 22,000, and there was no way it could accommodate the needs of the university.  A second parking garage was under construction, but it would not ready for an additional year.  Alternative transportation like buses was terrible.  However, I solved this problem by living within one block of the school for my junior and senior years.

My fifth year of college, finishing some senior classes and taking a few graduate classes, I lived about one-half mile from the university.  Biking to class was the best method.  However, bike theft had become an epidemic at San Jose State.  In fact, there were criminals driving vans around the campus, who would unbolt bike racks, and take five to ten bikes at a time.  Very disturbing, but the student government came up with a good solution.  At the center of the campus, they had a special bike parking area that was always monitored by an attendant.  When you entered the area with your bike, they gave you a special bike parking card.  Later, to get your bike, you had to show the card.  Bike theft became a minor problem, limited to bikes that did not park in the bike lot.  Another method some people used was to remove the bike’s seat after it was parked.

Later, in my employed life, parking was only a problem at one employer, Lockheed Martin.  The building I worked in was shaped like a big square, approximately fifty feet on each side.  Another identically shaped building was on its west side, but between them was a parking lot about the size of each building.  While the building I worked in was an “open” building, the other building did top secret work.  Therefore, the parking lot had limited access, and you had to show your employee badge to get into that lot.  The fear was that bad guys would park in that lot, and try to monitor electronic signals coming from the top-secret building.

There were a few uncontrolled parking spots in front of the building for vendors, visitors, or customers such as military officers or civilian customers such as representatives from satellite TV companies.  This worked well except for one problem.  The visitor spaces were supposed to be for visitors, but were frequently abused.  For example, my wife would come to lunch with me at the Lockheed cafeteria.  The cafeteria was very good, serving salads, fish, hamburgers to prime rib, etc. at good prices.  However, many of the visitor spots were frequently occupied by employees, particularly union employees.  We would complain, and it would be noted in their personnel file.  This was not a good thing, but the union employees would shrug it off since there were no real consequences to them for this action.  Meantime, people like my wife ended up parking in a remote lot and walking to my building.  I generally support unions and this is not a popular position for my fellow scientists and engineers. However, these actions of taking visitor parking places lessened my support of Lockheed unions.  This problem finally got solved when the top-secret building was closed during one of the personnel lay-offs that occurred around 2010.

Today, my biggest parking problems occur when I attend a popular event in the San Jose area.  However, for the last one and one-half years due to the pandemic, this has not happened.  Maybe, parking woes for me is a problem in my distant past.

Pro Vaccination, and Proud of It by
10
(22 Stories)

Prompted By Vaccination

/ Stories

I am proud that I am vaccinated against Covid-19, and many other diseases such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus, etc. Having suffered with measles, mumps and chicken pox as a child. I am glad that my sons skipped those rites of passage to adulthood. I believe that vaccination was one of the top advances in medicine in the twentieth century.

Proud to be vaccinated, and sorry so many have refused it.

Since I grew up when polio was common, I remember getting the first polio vaccine shots. Later, it was the sugar cube vaccination. The local Boy Scout troop, which I was a member, helped at the vaccination clinic.  Unfortunately, I know some of my peers that got polio, with life long consequences. Fortunately, I did not know any person who died of polio.

I wish that some of the anti-vaccination people could walk through a polio ward of the 1950s or a village that was struck by small pox in the 1800s. Maybe that would change their minds, but I am afraid too many of them think “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”. The anti-vaccination people are going to prevent Covid-19 herd immunity from occurring in America.

The biggest surprise to me is Covid-19 public health measurers became a political issue. I never would have thought that I live in a country where so many people do not believe that science can solve many problems. Many politicians have used their belief to gain power, even though people have died from their actions. I wonder if these people use GPS in their cars, have radios, believe the world is flat, etc.

One close friend of mine has a 93 year old mother refuses to get the Covid-19 vaccine. While she is an African American, and America has not always done right by that minority, I don’t think that it applies in this case. My friend is a chemist and his brother is a physician, and they have not been able to convince her to get vaccinated. However, the physician’s daughter just had a baby girl. Her requirement to hold or see the baby is to be vaccinated. Time will tell if this happens.

My Covid-19 vaccination has allowed me to meet friends, eat in restaurants and attend gatherings in relative safety. It’s freedom. I hope that the anti-vaccination crowd realizes this fact. However, maybe the only way to get the anti-vaccination people vaccinated is to restrict their normal society privileges.

 

Inequality and Stereotypes by
10
(22 Stories)

Prompted By Inequality

/ Stories

Inequality, something I think will always exist but I hope that there will be less of it in the future.  Due to the Black Lives Matter summer, I have done plenty of thinking about this issue.  Since I live in a town that is approximately 60 % Asian, 25 % white, and 25 % others (Hispanic, Native American, Black and others), it has been a big issue to me.

Inequality and the role of stereotypes

I believe that stereotypes are a big driver of inequality. When we encounter a person who is not like ourselves, we often believe the stereotypes since it is the simple and easy thing to do. The world is very complicated, and that makes it impossible to quickly judge all people individually. However, I have many examples where stereotypes have been proven wrong. For example, we often think of Japanese Americans as very honest, but I have known exceptions. We think of Afro-Americans as criminals, but when I was assaulted by a large white man on the BART transit system, it was two black me that defused the situation. None of the 50 other passengers came to my aid, except my girlfriend started screaming. Inequality exists for other reasons too. For example, many of my fellow college classmates in science wanted to attend the University of California (UC) for graduate school. UC admissions did not think much of graduates from San Jose State College (later San Jose State University), so they went to graduate schools in different states. It was a loss for UC and California, but was an easy way for UC to reduce the pool of applicants.

One of the few, good things the selective service draft did was mix men of all backgrounds together. They quickly learned the fastest way to success was for all men to work together. When a man would complain that he was not going to work with a ***** man, the sergeant’s answer was he only saw army green “so get over it”. I would be in favor of some sort of national service for all young citizens and immigrants. It would help the country and individuals would receive valuable life lessons.

The one idea that troubles me is we too often measure equality in terms of equity of outcome. While it is a good measure of equality, it does not always work. I was the president of a San Jose youth soccer league. We had approximately 50 boys teams and 30 girls teams. It is about the same ratio today. I would not want to reduce the league to 30 boys teams in the name of equality. That would be a loss for many youth soccer players.

In my lifetime, 71 years, I think we have made major progress in equality. Progress still needs to occur. My biggest disappointments in equality is the widening wealth gap and a widening educational opportunity gap for all Americans. I hope progress can be made in those areas soon.

 

Meetings, Lateness, Driving and Can Deposits by
10
(22 Stories)

Prompted By Pet Peeves

/ Stories

Angry frustrated man with exploding head and steam coming out of his ears on dark background

Ah, my pet peeves. I divide them into pre-retirement and post retirement. Many of them overlap, so I guess I can classify some of them as double (?) pet peeves. Fortunately, I do not have many pet peeves since I am a mellow person, but some things do bother me. However, those that our pre-retirement are fading into the past.

My pet peeves.

When I was employed, meetings could become a source of frustration. Many meetings went on for three plus hours. Someone was always bringing up side issues that should have been discussed off-line. Frequently, old issues that had been discussed before came up again. One example was when I worked for a pharmaceutical firm in research and development (R&D). We  were asked to develop a specific ophthalmic ointment. The product development manager stated he would not work on the project without the proper equipment, but finance did not want to spend money . The product development manager stated that if he made it, it was a waste of time to test it for quality and long-term stability. He even stated he did not want to waste my time to do the testing. Additionally, most of us in R&D were convinced that the FDA would not accept the data. After six months, we got the equipment, costing about $2,000 (1984 dollars). Then, we developed the product.

Later, I went to Lockheed, and they had good ways to keep meetings on time. All meetings were paid for using overhead money or project money. Everyone attending the meeting charged their time to overhead or a specific project. Overhead was always scarce, so there was a minimum of those meetings. Project managers wanted a minimum of people at the meeting to keep costs low and did not want them to run over the time allotted. In my 27 years there, I was only at one meeting that ran long. At that meeting, such good progress on the project was being made that the meeting got extended. Another thing Lockheed did to keep meetings on time was some principal people at the meeting would leave at the scheduled end of the meeting, whether or not all items were discussed. I remember one meeting when our team presented a project proposal that we needed some money and time budget. We knew that the man who controlled the budget was going to leave at 11:00am, and we made sure that we had finished on time. Otherwise, our requests would not have been presented if we ran over time.

Driving has some interesting peeves too. My favorite is the car that is speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. When I was working, I frequently saw this event when I was going to work. My thought was that I wish I had such a great job and could not wait to get to work, and I was willing to endanger other people to get to this job. I was just glad he or she did not hit me.

Another pet peeve is related to wasting my time, lateness. Most of the time, it just irritates me. I try to be on time, but things can happen and I realize that fact. However, people who are habitually late bother me. My worst experience was attending the wedding of a friend’s son’s. It was in San Francisco and I live in Milpitas (next to San Jose). I planned to go there with a friend, and we agreed to leave at least one and one-half hours early. I figured it should take about almost an hour to get there, and then find parking. My friend arrived just one hour before the event at my house, we got there fifteen minutes late and missed the opening. It was a traditional Hindu wedding, and the groom arrived by horse. We missed the horse, something I will probably never see in my life.

My phone peeve is the wait on hold “all are agents are busy now, but your time is important to us”.  That’s hard to believe.  My record holder is 48 minutes done by AT&T. Not only did it take too long  before a person talked to me, they did not take off the bogus charge on my bill. I have called again, and this time they promised to remove the charges. I will see if the promise is kept.

The can deposit in California has its own problems. In California, we pay a 5 or 10 cent deposit on cans and bottles. We can get the deposit back when we return the empty can to a recycling center. Of course, you cannot return it to the store where you bought the drink. In fact, I have asked the store where is the nearest recycling center, but most often I am told “I don’t know”. Sometimes I find a recycling center on the internet, only to find it is closed the day I go there.  Frankly, most of mine cans go into landfill today, and that is probably better than using a gallon of gasoline to go to a closed recycling center.  Maybe it will be improved in the future since the system is so poor, but I doubt it will happen.

My final pet peeve is cars with no front license plate, which California requires. Before I could drive the car I recently purchased  off a dealer’s lot, I had to sign a statement that the car had a front plate (it was a temporary plate till the permanent one arrived). Why do I care about a front plate? The other day, a Tesla almost hit me in a crosswalk. A few months ago, a Mustang decided to pass over the double yellow line and almost hit me. Fortunately, I made it to the shoulder and the pickup truck in the other lane got to his shoulder, avoiding a nasty accident. However, I could have given a better description to the police, even if I saw only part of the plate. In both cases, neither car had a front plate.

I am sure I have more, but these are the big ones to me.  However, they are minor compared to some of the major problems in the world.

First Memories, My Trip Home by
10
(22 Stories)

Prompted By First Memory

/ Stories

 

Coming home from a Colorado Army Hospital to South Dakota, first memories.

I was almost 4, and I was at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver Colorado. I remembered being moved to the long-term recovery ward after a major operation.  It was not a pediatric ward, that was a rare thing in an army hospital. Most of the patients were Korean War veterans recovering from their injuries.  Since I was a US service dependent, the service was my health provider.  I had gotten very ill and the physicians at my family’s home station, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, could not determine my illness. They sent me to Fitzsimmons Army Hospitals and hoped I would get better care and have the problem fixed there.  Dad stayed in South Dakota, but Mom went to Colorado.  Her mother came from Chicago to take care of my 1- and 1/2-year-old twin brothers, Jay and Teddy (John and Ed).

The army, in their infinite wisdom, gave me a three month stay in the hospital. While they felt they fixed my problem, they did not want to release me, then have me return if problems later reoccurred. During my stay, Mom visited me every day.  I am sure I looked forward to her visits. Soon, I hoped I was going home.

Finally, I was released to go home.  We were scheduled to go back to Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota, a long way from Colorado.  So, air transportation was arranged via the US Air Force’s military air transport service (MATS).  I, along with my Mom and a man I don’t remember took us to Lowry Air Force Base to await our flight.  Since the flight was on Air Force C-47 or C-54 (the Air Force version of the DC-3 or DC-4), we were all given parachutes.  Of course, I was too small for any of the parachutes, so I supposed to be strapped to a stretcher and thrown out the dying plane in case of an emergency.  The chute was suppose to open a few seconds after I left the plane.  Then, some rescue crew was supposed to find me somewhere in the Rocky Mountains or maybe on top of Mount Rushmore.  Mom did not think it would work, but she had to sign consent forms releasing the Department of Defense of any liability if we wanted to get home.  Thankfully, no problems were encountered on the way home. Today, all of the service’s transport planes no longer give passengers parachutes, unless they plan to jump out of them during their flight.  Lowry Air Force Base was named after 2nd Lt. Lowry, the only Colorado pilot to die in WWI but no relation to our family. Another interesting note is most military transports now have their seats rearward facing for safety.

Finally, Mom and I arrived late in South Dakota.  Grandma was there to greet us.  My first question was where are Jay and Teddy since I wanted to see someone near my age. Grandma said they were asleep, and it was off to bed for me.  I’m sure I got a good night sleep.  Sometime in the next few days, Dad took me to a toy store, and I got to pick out a gift.  I don’t remember what gift I got. It was good to be home!

 

A Four Hour Interview Leads to a Twenty-seven Year Career by
10
(22 Stories)

Prompted By Interviews

/ Stories

I have two interview stories. I realize the request was for a single story, but they are slightly connected. The first one came when I got laid off after fourteen years of employment at a pharmaceutical firm.  After a one year stint at a scientific instrument company, I got laid off again and went through more interviews but with more polish than the interviews I had done the year before.

How a 4 hour interview lead to a 27 year career

The first experience was being laid off from Cooper Vision’s quality assurance department.  Quality assurance is a department that all American companies hate funding and is a vulnerable  department to staff cuts when times are bad. Unknown to Wall Street, Cooper Vision was not doing well. However, Cooper Vision had put out many press releases telling Wall Street how successful they were.  I starting  interviewing and reading the want ads.  A frequently unasked question was “what is the real reason for your lay off? I understand Cooper Vision is doing well.”.  After four months, a kid on my youth soccer team told me about a friend who was looking for a chemist.  Fortunately, it went well and I was hired.

As a side note, Cooper’s 401k was just purchasing Cooper stock, around $20 per share.  I was so angry when I left Cooper, I sold all of my Cooper stock at $20 per share.  A year later, Cooper stock was selling at $2 per share.  It was one of the benefits of being among the first laid off from  Cooper Vision.

Next, I worked a year at a ten person scientific instrument export-import company. The stock market crashed in 1987, so two of the newest employees had to be let go.  However, they did get me an interview at Lockheed.

The Lockheed interview was a three part affair. An initial interview was an hour with the lab manager.  If he was happy, you got invited back.  The second interview was a four hour affair.  The third part was the company checking your references and college degrees. They also determined if you could probably get a security clearance if needed.  For that, they checked to see if you had an arrest record and looked at your credit record.

After being invited back for the four hour session, I was excited and found it an interesting experience.  First, you gave a half hour talk to the department on any chemistry subject you desired.  I had recently given a talk about epoxy adhesives, so that was my subject.  Unknown to me, they were using many epoxies, so that was a stroke of good luck.  Next there was an hour of interviews with some of the lab supervisors.  I liked them, and ended up working in both the labs they supervised.  Then, you went to lunch with some of the peers you would be working with so they could tell you the good, bad and ugly of the company. The last hour was with the lab manager to review more details about yourself and the job.

A couple of days later, one of my references told me that Lockheed had called, and he thought I would get the job.  Since I knew him well, I had worked with and for him for fourteen years, it raised my hopes.  A few days later, the Lockheed manager called and said he would be giving me a job offer contingent on Human Resources checking all the boxes that needed to be examined. He said it would take two weeks, but since I had a temporary consulting job, that worked out well. I ended up staying at Lockheed for twenty-seven years. It turned out to be a good choice, and I am enjoying their pension and 401k today.

Speling Is Hard For Me by
10
(22 Stories)

Prompted By Spelling

/ Stories

 

Ah, spelling.  It has been a frustrating struggle all my life.  For my father and two of my brothers, it was always easy.  That added to my frustration. My mother understood my frustration since she was a poor speller too. She told me that when she took an open book test in college, the book she always took was a dictionary.

My struggles with spelling. Included are my early problems and a reflection on the possible reasons for my poor spelling.

My struggles started in grade school.  Rules like “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ or when it sounds like ‘a’ like in neighbor or weight” made no sense to me. My mind got confused since there is no “i” in the word “way”.  When I had a math test and a spelling test on the same day, I only studied for the spelling test.  Generally, I got a better score on the math test. It was ironic. As they say, hard work does not always guarantee success, otherwise coal miners would be the richest people in the world.

At the beginning of most school years, I had to fill out a personal data form with my name, birthday,  date of birth, place of birth, etc.. Since I was born in Albuquerque, NM, I was always searching for a book with a map so I would spell “Albuquerque” correctly.  After a couple of years, I made it an objective to learn to spell “Albuquerque”. After I learned its spelling, my mother told me I should also know how to spell the county I was born in, Bernalilo.  Fortunately, I never had to answer that question.

Off to college.  By that time, I mastered using the dictionary. That worked most of the time. However, for my botany class, tests were the essay type written in blue books.  While I knew the science well, the instructor took points off for spelling errors. Most of the class was not impressed with this rule, especially me.  I ended up with a “B”, not an “A”.

Off to work, and my spelling became less of a problem. Most of the papers I wrote were typed by a department secretary or my secretary.  The secretaries corrected most of my spelling errors.  Later, when all the employees got personal computers, we typed our own papers.  Fortunately, the software had a spell correction feature.  Of course, I still had to be careful since the software could not tell the difference between real and “reel” errors.

I often thought about my poor spelling skills.  I blame the US Army.  When I was 3 1/2, I spent three months at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver since I was very ill.  During these  months, my mother visited me twice a day, but otherwise I was generally isolated.  The hospital did not have a separate pediatric ward.  I was in Denver even though we lived in South Dakota since my illness was initially a mystery to the physicians at the US Air Force base in South Dakota. The air force did not want to fly us home until they were sure the problem had been fixed so I stayed in the hospital for three months. Fortunately, there was no charge for the stay or air flights since I was a military dependent. However, I think that I did not learn vocal sounds well, and thus I was behind most children at that age. Then, at seven, the illness returned, and I missed two months of second grade. During that time, my peers were learning arithmetic and spelling skills.  I was able to teach myself math, but did not learn how to spell on my own.

In spite of my struggles with spelling, I feel I adapted well.  While good spelling is a valuable skill, I am thankful for dictionary.com and spell check programs.

Learning Helping and a Job By Volunteering by
10
(22 Stories)

Prompted By Volunteering

/ Stories

 

Experiences in volunteering in, especially in youth soccer and Kiwanis.

Volunteering became a two way street for me. Not only did I help others, I learned many things that I would not have been exposed to without these experiences. I grew in maturity and knowledge, and even got a job when I was unemployed.  Here are a few of my experiences.

I started volunteering in college.  Both Cal Poly SLO and San Jose State offered volunteer tutoring classes. You got a 1 unit credit even though I did not need it.  The class paired you with a middle or high school student. In addition to helping them with their class work, we did a few recreational activities such as hiking in the local area.  I learned later that the man coordinating this activity was doing this work as alternative service to the draft. I had a few mixed feelings about this, since I was against the Vietnam War, but knew peers that were in the military or had been killed in action.

Marriage and family initially slowed down my volunteerism. However, when my older son was seven, he joined a youth soccer team. He loved it.  The next year, they needed a coach, and I finally stepped up to the role. Part of the reason I took the coaching job was I was unemployed from my paying job.  I told them my soccer experience was limited to a few PE classes in high school and college.  They immediately offered training, which I took. It was taught by a local high school coach, and he could fake you out when he dribbled the ball and shoot it by you as it curved into the goal.  He was great, but his best piece of advice was “You don’t need to be an expert to teach it, just good enough to demonstrate it to the kids”.  It turned out to be very true.  In the end, I enjoyed the experience and soccer.  Also, one of the players on the team knew a man whose company was looking for a chemist.  I ended up working at that company.

Later, I took the referee class.  Refereeing has its own set of experiences.  Nobody likes the referee, but that did not bother me.  I told both coaches that I would do my best, and they accepted that.  It was the parents that I had a few problems with.  One game, a parent threatened a coach after the game ended.  I knew that coach and could only see trouble since this coach had a quick temper.  He wisely said the game was over, and he was going home now and did not want to engage in any other discussion.  This parent’s wife came on the scene and told her husband he could come home with her or have the police bring him home. Meanwhile, the other referee called the Milpitas Police.  By the time the police arrived, he had left.  Later, we banned him for the next three games.

Coaching later led to being on the local Milpitas soccer board and finally being the president of the San Jose soccer area board.  I learned that I could administer approximately 75 teams, and speak in front of all of them with confidence. Part of my success was most of the people I worked with were good people interested in the organization’s success.  Of course, there were the standard problems with such an organization. I got some practical lessons in politics, something that is true in all organizations. One must find a good compromise between many competing interests.

My younger son also played soccer, and I coached some of his teams.  However, the bulk of the experiences were with the high school he attended.  He was in a special academy, the computer academy.  Some parents like me volunteered to mentor a student in the academy.  I would take them to various museums, outdoor activities, etc.  I also took them to the laboratory at Lockheed where I worked.  This lab was the best lab I ever worked at, and had about 75 scientists and engineers.  Most of the mentees had never seen much of a laboratory. I still remember the student I took to the mechanical engineering lab where structures and parts like bolts were tested until they broke.  He remarked that he could not believe we were paid to “break things”.

There was one student I still keep in touch with from this program.  He came to America when he was ten, and only spoke Vietnamese.  His father had left the family, so his uncle and I filled this role.  Today, he is a junior at San Jose State University majoring in biochemistry. He hopes to go to graduate school, and I expect he will since he has done some research there and his GPA is 3.8.  While I helped him with some chemistry classes, I spent most of my time helping him with his English classes.

My wife did a significant amount of work for the American Cancer Society. Most of the work was their annual Relay for Life fundraiser.  I assisted her, but she deservedly got most of the credit.

Shortly before I retired, I joined the Milpitas Kiwanis Club.  Its emphases children.  While it is a small club of 23 members, it does a lot.  For example, we take approximately 100 kids to Kohl’s for back to school clothing shopping in August each year. Each member and some volunteers we recruit help a student pick out clothes, and we end up giving about $130 of clothes plus a back pack with supplies per child.  Some of these kids have never been in a department store. This year, we could only give out gift cards and back packs due to Covid-19. As a note for the future, 20 of the 23 club members are white, but the community is only 20 % white. I hope it recruits more members and becomes more diverse in the future.  It would strengthen both the club and the community.

Finally, I think these experiences added to my life.  Without them, my life would have been different, and not as satisfying. I thank all the people I have helped.  Lastly, the company I worked for would give awards for volunteering.  The award was tied into the Presidents Volunteer Award, fortunately President Obama.   I got a pin and a free lunch, but the rewards far exceeded a pin and lunch!

Holidays in California, By Car, Train or Plane by
10
(22 Stories)

Prompted By Pandemic Holidays

/ Stories

Like everyone else, this is my first pandemic holiday season. I certainly hope it is my last pandemic holiday season. To increase my odds to experience more holiday seasons, this Thanksgiving will be with my girlfriend and I, and no one else.  It’s sad, but it’s the best choice. Of course, I will miss my sons and granddaughter and special friends. I will think of some of the past holidays I have had, and I will summarize some of them now.

My previous holiday travels

When I was a young boy, I remember Mom cooking the turkey as the aroma filled the house.  Of course I and all others stayed out of the kitchen that day.  No need in risking Mom’s wrath or even worse, especially since there were fire and knives in the kitchen.  Dad would get an early start on the feast by eating the turkey neck and maybe the giblets. We would watch various football games and engage in interesting conversations and banter.

Off to college and the work world, and generally, I went home for the holidays before I was married. After marriage, my family generally went to  Los Angeles where my wife’s family lived.  Sometimes we flew to avoid the awful holiday traffic. San Jose Airport was often a better choice than Interstate 5. Of course, ticket costs sometimes prevented this option. When going by car, many times we would stop at my Dad’s house since it was on the way to LA. Other times, when we were in LA, we went to my step-mother’s house in LA (Mom passed away shortly after I left college). It was always a nice break from work.

After my wife passed away, I generally had dinner with my brother in Sacramento or with friends in San Jose. I always had a nice time with my brother. I would travel by BART to the Oakland Coliseum station, then by Amtrak to Sacramento. The trip takes about three hours, versus two via car. However, on Thanksgiving day, the car trip is much longer. My brother from the San Jose area drove it once on Thanksgiving day, and it took over five hours.

One interesting story about my train trips to Sacramento happened shortly after I meet my girlfriend. We had just met, and I informed her that I would be taking the train to Sacramento.  She was surprised. Why would anyone take the train?  Maybe, there will be lots of alcoholic beverages, and he is just using good judgement.  After all, he is part Irish-American (an unfortunate stereotype, but sometimes true). Little did she realize that this was the smart choice, no matter what type of beverages were served. In subsequent years, we both took the train to Sacramento.  In fact, last year, we took Amtrak to New York City. As San Jose State alums, we got to see SJSU beat Army and I saw my first New York Broadway play.

Finally, Christmas and New Years will be the same this year. However, it’s the best choice, and it’s a choice I hope most Americans make this year.

The best thing I am thankful my family, girlfriend and my friends are healthy now. Also, I give thanks that 2021 will end Trump’s residency in the White House

Pet Rock by
10
(22 Stories)

Prompted By Fads and Trends

/ Stories

In 1974, the Pet Rock was the pet to have. It did not need to be fed or walked, was never sick and did not need a litter box.  In fact, it came in its own box with air holes, feeding straw and a care and training manual.  It was popular, especially in San Jose where it originated. It was the perfect gift for the person who had everything.

The Pet Rock, my favorite fad.

As a side note, much of the packaging was done in at Agnews Development Center in Santa Clara California. The Pet Rock was more than a pet, it also did job training.

<< Older posts