Week 150 February 11, 2017

Dear Family and Friends, it is always so wonderful to hear from you – by email, on this blog, however it is that you reach out to us, it is always meaningful and most welcome. Thank you for thinking of us! And, woohoo, this week is another round number for us with living away from our home for 150 Weeks.
Still in Castro Valley at an AirBnB this week, and Loren and I are checking off more to do’s on our lists of routine appointments, important business and errands that are hard to accomplish further away from home. For example, we now have our POLSTs – Physician Orders For Life Sustaining Treatment, done… do you have yours done?
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Our primary goal of spending time with Loren’s Mom included watching the incredible Super Bowl game with her and his one sister, and, finishing a couple of house projects for her. We have watched Warriors games together as well. I enjoy seeing her calm, “Miss it, miss it, miss it,” mantra that she often says to opposing basketball team members when they are attempting a free throw, while wiggling her fingers in front of her face as if casting a spell. It frequently works! I have to say that I tried it out during the Super Bowl on a conversion, and it worked for me too. We also enjoy seeing their lush backyard while we are here!
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Loren and I had a date to see Hidden Figures. Despite strong recommendations of people whose opinions we value, I have to say that the online description did not grab me. So while it was on my list, it was often pushed down – until, we heard an announcer of the Super Bowl rave about it too. That was the turning point that made it a priority. And, lucky us, it was the only movie playing in the local downtown theater. Hidden Figures now ranks among our top 5 best of all time. For me that means I laughed and cried, then came away feeling uplifted and hopeful about life. Many images and the story of this movie have stayed with me in the several days since. A snippet of Grand Old Flag playing during the film reminded me how long it has been since I have heard that song. It ear whirred in me all week, taking me to many places of childhood nostalgia.
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Not only was Hidden Figures inspiring, it also awoke memories of my 23 year career in the computer industry. I had not heard of the 7090 mainframe portrayed in the film, but I reminisced about my work on the IBM 3033, 3081, 3084 and 3090 machines at what was then General Foods, a customer of IBM. Those gigantic mainframes ran VTAM (Virtual Telecommunications Access Method) software under the control of MVS (Multiple Virtual Storage) and VM (Virtual Machine) operating systems. Using SNA (Systems Network Architecture) communications protocol, VTAM, in tandem with NCP (Network Control Program) software in the separate 3705 and 3725 Front End Processor machines, allowed for RJE (Remote Job Entry) work to reach the mainframe’s JES (Job Entry Subsystem) program for processing.
Customizing NCP and sometimes VTAM software properly to the company’s needs was my realm – my main responsibility. Subsequently at Amdahl I taught VTAM and NCP customization concepts to customers across the US, Europe, and Japan. Later, at Hewlett Packard, I provided Customer Support by telephone. Teaching and traveling provided the most fun and reward during my 23 year computer career.
Loren and I were also able to travel to the south bay for Loren to attend a UUFS Men’s group meeting while I attended a Bikram yoga class nearby. Our AirBnB hosts are away for a long weekend, just after celebrating the son’s 22nd birthday one evening.
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While they are gone, it is my job to gather the fresh eggs from the hen house, and, to try to be a replacement for their cat and dogs’ real owners. They are missed!
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After much rain this week, we are enjoying seeing the sun again. Harbinger of spring, a flock of Cedar Waxwings with their unique call, visited Loren’s Mom’s backyard earlier this week, and, I noticed how fresh the air smells today after the rain.
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And, this week I was delighted to find the copy of my great-great grandmother’s book of memoirs that I had left with Loren’s Mom for safekeeping. Inside I found handwritten notes and a newspaper article that I had forgotten were there. An extra special find!
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