Our Summer vacation for 2012 was a Disney Dream Caribbean Cruise along with a few days spent at various sites in Florida. For most of the trip we were in the company of the Baers (Robb, Melinda, Jack, Amanda) and, sometimes, Robb's folks Pam & Steve. It's the fifth vacation I've taken with Robb & Melinda (Italy twice, China, Yosemite/Safari West, and this trip). It's the third vacation Fianna has taken with Jack & Amanda who she calls "My Guys". Do kids take vacations?

On July 4th of last year my Grandmother Brown passed away at 88 years old. Grandma Brown always had a smile and kind words for just about anyone she met. As with many of Americans of her generation, she was very patriotic and devoutly Christian. She would often tell stories of her early family life. When she was a child the family lived week to week, moving wherever there was work and enjoying simple and rare pleasures, like an extravagant trip downtown for an ice cream sundae, the single new Christmas present she got one year, or 10 cent boxes of oatmeal. As a young adult at the time of WW2, she could relate how everyone pulled together in salvaging scrap materials and rationing goods. She'd never complain, just laugh about how different things and people are now.

The Sacramento Valley Scottish Games & Festival are one of our biggest 'family' events of the year. Jennifer and I have been going every year for probably over a decade. Fianna has been to each one since she was born. Over the last half-dozen years or so, we've teamed up with the Wilsons and their kids (who we consider extended family), wandering around as 1-3 groups of managed chaos (me watching over a couple of the Wilson kids, the Wilson girls managing Fianna, everyone together for the Wicked Tinkers, or some other combination).

Some years ago I subscribed to Esquire out of curiosity and, in way, desperation. A couple of favorite magazines had fallen victim to the Internet, and closed up shop, leaving me little in the way of bathroom reading. At $10 a year I figured why not check it out. Turns out that once past the advertising, you can find some good interviews and well written stories on current events. The regular feature I like most, and read almost every time, is a brief one page interview called "What I've Learned".

A few months ago, I was taking Phoebe on her walk. These days, this isn't much of a walk at all but she enjoys it. She's coming up on 15.5 years old and getting a quarter mile out of her can be a challenge, often requiring a stop about two-thirds the way through. As we reached the last (and slowest) leg of Phoebe's stroll, I wondered about the common assumption that a dog year is the equivalent of seven human years (making Phoebe something like 110). Where did this come from?

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