Yep - it's time for yet another annual "Alek's Ramblings" email with
pics/videos at the bottom and misc. links for even more.
Some items of possible interest in random order:
- I wrote last year about the "addition" to our family
as we volunteered to raise/train a puppy for Guide Dogs for the Blind -
click here to see wayyyyy too many pics of our super-duper-cute Yellow Lab Puppy named Bliss
and also see the
documentary movie called "Pick of the Litter."
It was a LOT of work ... and fun! The majority of
puppies don't make it through the program (odds are even less for
first-time raisers) ... and unfortunately, Bliss did not make the cut. The standards are high (as they should be) but it was still a rewarding (and challenging) experience. A delightful epilogue is
that she ended up being placed with a wonderful family in the neighborhood - such a win-win
for them & Bliss ... and us since we see her periodically which makes us feel like "Grandparents" ;-)
- Our oldest son Dirk interned at Groupon (in Seattle) last summer - yes, we even bought a few Groupon deals! He will graduate this Spring after just 3 years at the
University of Washington with a Math degree and Minors in Physics, History, and...Slavic Literature; perhaps appropriate for someone with a last name of Komarnitsky!
He really worked hard pursuing job opportunities and after graduation, he'll be doing
Management Consulting for McKinsey.
Dirk tells me that while he appreciate all the airlines miles I've gotten for him playing
the credit card game, he'll now be earning them the hard way via BIS - Butt-In-Seat miles! ;-)
- Our youngest son Kyle graduated from Fairview High School and is off to college after
a long arduous application process ... basically applied to CU-Boulder (which with his
grades/ACT/SAT was automatic), got accepted, and DONE! He's enrolled in the
AeroSpace Engineering program (same as Dad's undergraduate degree) and is living in
the dorms on campus. Alek & Wendy like that he is close by ... but Kyle says it is "wonderful" being out of the house and away from his parents! ;-)
- Wendy continues to excel/enjoy the wildlife travel business and among various trips, Kyle joined her in Florida to see Manatees & Alligators ... and then also
in Brazil to explore the Pantanal (10X the size of the Everglades) which included spotting Jaguars.
Meanwhile, my "Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom" was taking pictures of neighborhood owls - see 'em
Wendy squeezed in a couple of trips to NYC and it's always fun hanging out with her old girlfriends.
The whole family went to Cancun for Spring Break - airfare was pretty cheap with double Southwest Companion Passes! ;-)
- I've been fortunate to visit Alaska each of the last several years. For my
sister's 50th, we surprised her with a fun get-together at a fishing lodge. I really enjoyed
hanging out with my siblings ... and it was a slayfest ... so our freezer has self-caught Alaskan Salmon.
- Every couple of years we have a monster (> 1000) peach harvest ... but hardly any in
the "off" years. 2019 was a bit unusual and we "only" got about 500 peaches after a big year in 2018 - see saga/pics here ... which includes some very close-up pictures/videos of another year of raccoon invasion - they do like the peaches!
- Some minor setbacks this year was when I took a tumble on the ski slopes (caught some buried rocks on the East Wall of A-Basin and did a double-eject, front-somersault) that sidelined me
for a bit. Wendy took a tumble off her bike (tire got wedged in between railroad tracks) and
had minor rib & elbow fractures.
But we are fortunate to be generally healthy and my brother's situation (see below) puts things in perspective.
Speaking of health stuff, my writeup of Cataract Surgery 8 years ago (plus UV vision) still generates a periodic stream of Emails - kinda wild.
- So life is pretty mundane for us -
helping people with their taxes
doesn't exactly make me a "Wild & Crazy Guy", but I enjoy it.
And yes, www.watching-grass-grow.com continues
to live stream my front yard ... as it has been for over a decade now.
Along those lines, when our HVAC system got replaced, Alek (of course!) setup "Furnace-Cam"
- the "exciting" things one does when they have time on their hands! ;-)
Similarly, my wife's company has their annual Fall-Fest ... so I showed up with my Big Green Buddy ... and the HULK-SMASH team won their "Olympics" competition! ;-)
- With both kids off to college and out of the house, Wendy and I had an "Empty Nester Party" ... ;-)
Our lifestyle is starting to change ... so it will be interesting to see
in the next year how the transition to that next stage of life goes.
- I'm obviously a bit whimsical in writing these annual letters and focus on the
good/funny things in life. But I'm unfortunately going to close with some sobering news
about my youngest brother Myke who, a year ago, was diagnosed with Cancer - specifically
"Rhabdo" is pretty rare with just a couple of hundred cases/year in the US ... mostly in children ... so it's even more unusual to get at age 40. I'm not going to mince words - it's a bad, bad, bad cancer.
Myke is 15 years younger than me - when he was going to CU-Boulder, he used to come over to our house and "terrorize" the neighborhood with his motorcycle! ;-)
He also got into technical climbing and was very entrepreneurial - starting several companies/websites. One was climbingboulder.com which eventually merged with the well known mountainproject.com.
So if anyone can successfully manage this "uphill climb", it's Myke ... and the doctors
continue to be amazed how well he is doing.
So it's been an incredibly difficult year for Myke and his family.
His wife Li-Ming is doing a masterful job navigating the medical system plus doing exhaustive research.
It's amazing how well he has handled this and continues to be strong and positive (but realistic)
after all the chemo, radiation, and surgery ... plus all the uncertainty which
just adds to the emotional burden.
Not much else to say except I love 'ya Bro ... and look forward to Skiing with 'ya' in 2020! ;-)
P.S. If for any reason you'd rather not get my annual "mail-all's",
please just let me know - happy to remove 'ya from my address book.
FYI FWIW that the response to that is surprisingly consistent every year.
I'll get a couple dozen requests which I always reply to and mention the
Email conversation (sometimes from years ago) how they got in my address
book ... plus thanking for letting me know and have removed their
address. The majority of people will then write back:
"oh yea, you were
really helpful and/or I love your pictures ... please KEEP me on your
annual Email list" ;-)