Yesterday I had to take my youngest daughter to the orthodontist to get her braces checked. She’s almost done with what is looking like a two-year ordeal to straighten her teeth. After she was done, we stopped by a local pet and feed store and picked up a bag of duck food, which they sell for $1.00/lb. We then went to Rancho Simi Community Park, which has a fairly large pond and is always filled with lots of ducks, geese, coots, and various other species of birds.
I took a bunch of photos as she was feeding them and they were milling around waiting or congregating to snatch up the tiny pellets of food she was throwing to them. I’m not conversant in all the different types of ducks there are, but I recognize Canadian honkers when I see them and I’ve researched the other species of goose that seem to live there year round. The first picture here is of Chinese geese. The only thing I can say for sure about them is . . . they’re assholes; at least the males are. They’re very aggressive. A couple of months ago I had to lightly kick one of them to keep it from attacking me.
The second photo is of a duck that has a pompadour. Not sure why that happens, but I’ve seen this duck at the pond before. Another reason I’m pretty sure all these waterfowl reside here year-round. The third pic is, I believe, a Mallard Drake. The fourth is a nice closeup of a Canadian goose who was unconcerned enough to come right up to me. Fifth is another Canadian, maybe the same one in the fourth. Sixth is also a Canadian and I can’t quite figure out what it was doing; whether it was begging for food or trying to intimidate me. No other goose has exhibited this particular behavior.
The seventh photo is of my daughter feeding them and gives you an idea of the various species that live there. Thankfully, the Chinese geese didn’t come by and ruin it all. The eighth photo is of a bunch of birds eating right in front of the bench I was sitting on, and the ninth is mostly coots and a few Mallards in the water. My daughter loves feeding the ducks at this park and we’ll be going there again soon.
The Three Trashketeers in Their Previous Incarnation
A couple of weeks ago I posted about the two basketballs and the hula hoop my youngest daughter and I had spotted in the flood control channel we passed each day on our walk to her elementary school. We named them Wendy (the first basketball we noted), Haley (the hula hoop accompanying her), and Oliver Boliver Butt (the basketball that joined this duo a few days later.)
It is with a note (not really a profound one, but a somewhat dismayed note) of sadness I am compelled to inform all that the Santa Ana winds, which were pretty fierce about a week ago, have blown, Wendy, Oliver, and even Haley closer to their final destination.
Molly the duck, and her companion, Junior had – of course – already moved on, being animate objects and all. We looked for them each day but there must not have been enough excitement available for them to stick around.
Unless someone comes along to clean the channel (or the river, which is where they will soon be), they will eventually make it out to sea and join – perhaps – with all the other flotsam and jetsam littering our Pacific Ocean.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to miss them . . . already do.
For almost a quarter century I have spent my life planted behind a desk, working and playing with computers and the online (Intra and inter) world. I exercised once in awhile but, for the most part, was content to delude myself into thinking exercising my intellect was sufficient. I knew it wasn’t true, but there was so much to learn and so many things to do, I just couldn’t get off my ass and get the exercise I needed.
This is not the entire truth. Shortly after my 46th birthday, I was summarily drafted to play in a golf tournament being conducted by the Program Office where I worked. I reluctantly agreed and decided it might be best to prepare — that is go to the driving range and hit a few balls — something I had only done once since I determined golf was for old men back when I was 15 years old.
I played in that tournament and within a short while found myself returning to the range on a daily basis. I was hooked. So I got some exercise — I stretched, swung, and walked a fair amount. I did almost every day, sometimes all day, for a few years. You can walk a lot playing 18 holes of golf; as much as five miles (if you play what they call “Army” golf — left, right, left) and I liked to carry my clubs.
Unfortunately,a few years later a crippling attack of Sciatica put a giant crimp, and an indeterminate hold, on my ability to play the game. That was followed shortly thereafter by a decision to adopt, which pretty much ended golf for me. So, for the most part, I’ve remained behind a desk.
Last month, with the entry of our oldest to middle school, which now makes it necessary for our girls to be taken to schools separately, I made the decision to walk our youngest to school each morning. I purchased some walking shoes online, downloaded an app to my phone for keeping track of my walks, and set off to change things a bit.
I should point out I’m now 66 years old and all those sedentary years don’t just drop off in the face of moderate activity, like they used to in . . . say . . . my thirties. Nevertheless, I’ve been pretty diligent and, save for Thursday mornings when I have a Rotary Club breakfast meeting to attend at 7:00 am, I’ve walked my daughter to school every day.
The walking is still a bit tiring, even though it’s only a mile I’m covering round trip. What I have discovered, however, is the difference in perception from when I’m in a vehicle. Most of us probably don’t realize it, but when we’re in our vehicles the majority of our senses are either stunted or deprived of input.
We see, but most of the things we look at are related to either safety or arriving at a particular destination. We can’t afford to actually pay attention to much else. We hear, but almost all aural input comes from inside the vehicle, unless someone honks at us or an emergency vehicle approaches, siren screaming. We smell little, save for the occasional wafting of BBQ, hamburger, or other food odors. We touch and taste nothing.
Not so on foot. One of the first things I noticed was the houses and yards of my neighbors. Sure, I’d seen them all before many times, but not with the clarity I’m seeing them now. I hear sprinklers, vehicles, children on bicycles and scooters, crows foraging, and other birds singing. I can smell the grass or even stop and smell the roses (or other flowers), and I can touch and taste anything I feel like, though I doubt I’ll be doing much of the latter.
The point is, walking puts you in the middle of things, whereas driving kind of puts you in a layer sitting on top of things. A vehicle serves as insulation, a cocoon of plastic, rubber, and steel. You can roll up the windows, turn on the radio or CD, and sever all but the most necessary of ties with just about everything around you. This isn’t possible when walking. You walk in the same layer as everything around you. Even the vehicles that pass are an important part, because you have to ensure they don’t impinge on the layer you’re in and end up seriously ruining your day.
Another benefit for me is I get to hold my daughter’s hand on the way and her incessant and zany questioning about my preferences amongst lists of things she will provide for me (“would you rather eat Jell-O or be a Zebra?”) becomes more like a game, and less of a distraction. So this walking thing is clearly beneficial for both of us, in at least two ways. I believe I’m going to continue this behavior. You should try it.
Since my retirement from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2010, I have spent quite a bit of energy on developing work as a social media marketer for small business, a business manager for an AI software development firm, and as an editor/proofreader for a number of business books and a couple of novels, as well as a two-year return engagement at Rocketdyne from 2015 to 2017.
I have decided to stop actively pursuing business in these fields and am now positioning myself to be a writer. I have done quite a bit of writing over the years, but I’ve never really attempted to make any money at it; at least not specifically. I’m starting out with a couple of memoirs and, currently, I’m studying the craft, creating a detailed outline and timeline, and honing my skills as a storyteller. Pretty sure I’ll be writing some fiction as well.
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.