Dale Says

October 8, 2008

On my birthday 2005

Filed under: On My Birthday — Dale @ 10:44 am

For more than 20 years I’ve been writing summaries of what’s going on in my life and in the world around me on my birthday. Here’s an excerpt from 2005 …

April 24, 2005

On my birthday I’m 54 years old.

The past year has been a great one! I’m adjusting to being away from the corporate world and love the time available to spend with family and friends, traveling, and pursuing my dream of becoming a writer.

My love for Patty has increased over the past year, although the time and energy we are putting into our families is straining us. I’ve had to grow since leaving Visa, including in my relationship with Patty, and my appreciation and love for her has also grown. Each day I become increasingly aware of what a wonderful person she is and how important she is to our families, our friends, and to me.

We are very fortunate to still have three parents. Patty’s father has had his share of troubles the past year, but none has been fatal. He had an angioplasty and three stents in his arteries in December, and has had chest tightness with hospitalizations twice since. He had chest pains in May when we were all set to go on an Alaskan cruise, and we spent three days (including his birthday) in a Seattle hospital. Through it all, he continues to be steadfast and determined to go on, and his spirit is setting a wonderful example for the rest of us.

My father continues to slowly decline, both physically and mentally. He went through a period of hallucinations last November and December and he was occasionally uncontrollable. His doctors changed his medication and the result has been a much more controlled but forgetful person He has fallen several times the past year, including three in the past two months. So far, he hasn’t been hurt badly. He gets lost in his house now and he can’t carry much of a conversation. At this point, he is aware he is losing his memory and it drives him crazy. He is generally good-natured, though, and is grateful to be in his own home and for the help he gets.

So far, my Mom’s health has held up, although she had a health scare this year. Fortunately, it turned out to be a minor issue, and she seems to be better now. Between my siblings and us someone is in Chappell every other week, and I’ve gone neary every month the past year. Patty goes with me frequently, and Mom and Dad love our visits. We take them homemade things, and entertain Dad and cook for Mom, and we help them with projects around their house. Our hope is to keep Dad at home as long as possible.

Watchiing your parents go through this is tough, but we are constantly grateful that we have this time with them.

The group of friends we hang out with is very important to us and they provide a great deal of support and encouragement to us. We get together with them frequently and talk to them continuously. The husbands get together every couple of months for DHSOS meetings (Dashiel Hammet Society of Studs — a literary organization) and our wives get together for birthday dinners. Our annual trip to Drakesbad is an event we all look forward to. The week together this year was another great one, including a side trip to Ashland, Oregon and a leisurely stay at the guest ranch in August.

In October Patty, her cousin Tom, and I took an eight-day self-guided bicycle tour of Sicily. It was a fabulous trip! The scenery was wonderful, the history incredible, and the food remarkable. Sicily is now one of our favorite places, and the bike tour created a wonderful lasting memory.

Last May we took a Inside Passage cruise from Vancouver to Alaska with Allan and Paul. It was a terrific experience that included fabulous views, excellent food,, and a great family togetherness.

My grandfather’s Fehringer family got together in Estes Park in June for a family reunion. It was a great time and an opportunity for everyone to see each other. I filmed the reunion, made a video of it, and sent the video to family members.

For the past several years I’ve gone to sleep each night thinking about someday becoming a freelance writer, and now I’ve got the chance to give it a try. After a year and a half, I’m finding it tremendously rewarding — and a little frustrating. The reward of seeing your writing in print and getting good feedback on it is worth the frustration. I’ve found a catch-22 in this business: publishers don’t want to deal with you if they don’t know you, and it’s difficult to become known without being published. The secret seems to be to find and befriend small magazine editors, and I’m concentrating on that now. So far, I’m writing a column for Competitive Intelligence magazine, articles for SCIP.Online, and have had three or four travel articles published in small travel magazines. And I worked with my Mom to put together “Miss Lacy,” a tribute to her mother. I’m working on developing my writing “voice” and finding niche publications to carry my work.

I’m still making videos, and I love that work. Monique and I made four films the past year: Abaco (about our vacation in the Bahamas), Gathered Together (the Fehringer reunion), Arthur (a product promotion for my friend, Arthur James), and SCIP at 20 (for the SCIP annual conference).

Thankfully, the SCIP Annual Conference went off without a hitch. Attendance exceeded expectations and reviews ranged from “best conference in several years” to “best conference ever.” I worked very hard for a long time on the conference, and I used all my managerial skills to herd a group of 20 or so volunteers and 10 staff through the process of selecting and organizing 1,200 attendees, 90 speakers, and 60 educational sessions over a four-day period. It was a terrific transition between working full time and not working, and it helped me keep up my social and industry contacts and gave me a great sense of accomplishment.

Other than an occasional bit of anger over the way my exit from Visa was handled, I rarely think about Visa now. I feel good about my years there and am happy to be out with as much sanity as I have left. I’m grateful for the financial benefits and experience I had and am moving on with the next phase of my life. One surprise so far is how little additional time I have. True, I spend a sizeable chunk of time helping my parents and Patty’s father, and I’ve been very busy with SCIP activities. And we exercise and travel more. But I want to write more this coming year, and I need to set more time aside to do that.

In the news, the past year has seen a step backward for the world, as the U.S. continues to over-react to the terrorist attacks of 2001. As the only remaining super power, the U.S. is clearly leading the world, and it is leading it by imposing its sense of right and wrong on other countries. Unfortunately, that means waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. European nations are trying to find a way to work with President Bush and his bullying tactics, but the U.S. is increasingly finding itself alone on most international issues.

George Bush was re-elected last fall by a narrow margin. John Kerry ran against him, but Kerry didn’t come across as a strong leader and he didn’t connect with enough Americans. And the Republicans sabotaged him during the election by questioning his patriotism. So we’re stuck with four more years of Bush’s right-wing views and policies that further divide the country. Two of the hardest things about Bush are his arrogance and the type of people he surrounds himself with. Many are cronies of his father, while others are bullies with sketchy backgrounds. Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Carl Rove are among his inner circle and all will go down in history as corrupt intimidators.

The price of oil has soared over the past year and is consistently over $50 per barrel now. The high prices are dragging the U.S,. economy and hurting industries dependent on oil. The airline industry, for example, is in complete choas with some of the largest players in bankruptcy. The price of gas has risen too, by nearly $1.00 a gallon over the past year. We now pay $1.50-2.00 a gallon, which is stressing a lot of U.S. budgets.

The U.S. economy continues to grow (slowly), though is it being dragged down by record budget and trade deficits. And looming over it are the problems with social security and medicare. At current trends the social security system will run out of funds sometime in the next two decades, and medicare will run out of money before that. And no one wants to do anything about it.

Pope John Paul II died in April after 26 years as head of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics. He was well-respected by the whole world for his faith and fights for the poor. More than any other pope, he reached out to other faiths, and he touched the whole world.

In California, the glow has worn off Arnold’s crown. The bodybuilder-turned actor-turned governor has had to make tough choices when proucing a budget in a shrinking economy, and some of the groups who elected hiim got the short end of it. Most noticably, the state teacher’s union ran a series of scathing TV ads that say Arnold went back on his word. The criticism is starting to take its toll, and Arnold’s popularity is heading south.

In San Francisco our flamboyant mayor, Gavin Newsom, hit a few road bumps this year, too. His beautiful wife left him after just a couple of years of marriage, because their careers were more important than their marriage. And, after touting his support for same-sex marriages, Gavin has now taken a slightly lower profile. There’s now a feeling among many Democrats that he may have hurt the party in the last election by his public support for that controversial issue, and he’s now trying to tone down his act a little.

These are interesting times, and I’m leading an interesting life!

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