Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Life goes on... 

When my father passed away four years ago, my brother and I promised to keep the blog alive.  And we are not doing that very well... for various reasons; some reasonable, some not so reasonable.  I will not make any more pledges to post more often, but (as this post demonstrates) will visit from time to time and share my thoughts.

I think about my dad a lot.  Music usually brings him to mind, but there's so much more... driving my car, hard, the way a good German sport sedan with a 6 speed manual transmission was meant to be driven... or a good article that makes me think deeply, and then wonder what my dad would have thought of the article... and there's hockey.  I'm not going to expand on hockey, because we didn't share the same favorite team and that, at some level, was a source of frustration for him.  Music, most of all makes me feel close to him.  He was never a musician, but knew every guitar lick from arguably the greatest Rock and Roll songs of the 50's, 60's and 70's.  And he loved nearly every genre, from Bach to the Blues to the Beatles and more progressive artists as well.  Van Morrison was one of his favorites and he is one of my favorites as well.

Before joining the Navy, 31 years ago, I spent a couple of months living with my dad.  I worked at a music store and got a decent discount on CDs... and CD's being all the rage back then, my dad took advantage of the opportunity to expand his collection.  I spent more (of my dad's) money on CD's at work than I made.  I believe he bought a copy of every Van Morrison CD we had in the store and more than a few other CD's during those two months.  I would get home from work, turn over the latest buys... and we would listen to the CD.  I vividly remember those times, the music and the mood.  We really didn't talk, but we shared time and a love of the music we were listening to in a way that I've never experienced before... and will likely never experience again.  I have some hope that I may share something like that with DN4 (my dad's GDN6).  She is really talented, has earned numerous awards and has literally performed at Carnegie Hall.  And she's a lot like her Grandpapa in so many ways.

All things considered, if a favorite hockey team is the only thing worth mentioning that we didn't agree upon, our relationship was pretty damn good, despite the many miles that separated us.  We had a mutual appreciation for the finer things in life; ideas, values and people that brought us more than contentment... they brought him and still bring me happiness.  I hope you are all well... if you're reading this, you probably followed my father's blog and still get notifications of updates, which made you important to my father... and important to me.  I know his memory lives on in this blog and our collective memories.

SN2 posting... for GDN6

My Grandfather

When I was twelve years old I woke up one morning, my stomach rumbling with hunger and pulling me to the kitchen.  As I walked down the stairs, I was confronted with the strong smell of coffee and the tapping keys of my Grandpapa's laptop.  I followed the sound into the dining room and found my Grandpapa working on his laptop.  I sat and watched him, admiring the intense concentration on his screen.  I greeted him with a shy smile and a polite "good morning"... and sat silently, drawing in my sketchbook until he saw something on his laptop, tilted his head, smiling and said "oh".  I said "oh what?"  He showed me a picture on his laptop of feet.  The picture showed different feet and described how the various shapes and lengths of toes correlate to different personality types and physical traits.  So naturally, we stripped off our socks and started looking at our toes.  My mother came down stairs, walked by and asked what we were doing... not stopping, not missing a beat and said "weirdos".

Self portrait 2015

This memory, with my Grandpapa, taught me to love myself and accept what makes me unique.  We laughed and talked about toes, made silly faces and discussed art and writing.  In life, we all need those moments when we forget about  reputation and simply laugh and live.  I am who I am because I'm unique in my own, odd ways.  I miss you Grandpapa... thank you.


Angelina... aka Googoo... aka GDN6

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

While we may not be making any new memories... we are making new posts, with some new contributors. I've added a link below to DN2's blog (required for school, not something she chose to do... but did choose to write about Dad)... something you may find interesting; I did.


I hope everyone who still visits this blog has a wonderful day.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Happy birthday dad... it has been a year since SN1 or I have posted.  We just do not have the affinity or desire my father did for writing.  I do stop in from time to time and read a bit... and wonder how long Blogger will keep this page alive. My daughter (DN2) stops in as well.  My dad was a wonderful grandfather... grandpa-pa, was what he liked to be called by my girls.  The memories I have of him with my daughter's are all pretty darn good... most memories are pretty darn good.  I believe time doesn't really heal the loss of a parent, but it does improve the lense by which we see them; I see my father's wonderful mannrisms and hear his quirky laugh... and smile, then remember all too well that there will be no new memories.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today's Dad's birthday. It's a hard day for a lot of us but one we also cherish because of the memories it brings, the happiness associated with those memories and the encouragement to make some of our own. That pic was taken as he and I were sampling a few local brews in Layton Utah. Dad did enjoy a good beer!

My own son, Sean sent me the following short remembrance a few weeks ago. We thought we'd save it for today. More remembrances will be posted later on, but this was the one that kick started us into writing them. Only three words were touched from the original sent from Sean. Here it is:

­­Norman Ellis Pennington was a normal man. He had two wives, three sons and many grandchildren. In the grand scheme of things, he was typical. It’s funny how one person can seem so grand, so large, when compared to your own life. I’m only twenty years old, and nearly every thing he said to me resonates in my mind when I consider my life.

My grandfather continues to be one of the most consistent and persistent influences in my own life. Throughout my life I’ve always heard that I resemble him. We looked nothing alike: he was a skinny, blonde white man and I’m a thick, brown haired, brown man. Yet, we are very much alike. The same aloof, yet kind spirit runs through my veins as it did through his. Our shameless sentimentality, shown through old American standards, still carries on through this day. Although we had reservations about expressing emotions, it only took him, and now me, a few shots of whiskey to open up. One of my most poignant memories is of him crying when “In My Life” came on and he opened up about his own life with his ex-wife. I had never seen such honesty and vulnerability. I think about it every day.

He introduced me to the blues. I learned the blues via a friend’s brother (learning the 12-bar blues from that guy), yet he taught me what the blues actually meant. Every time I play a blues song, even if the lyrics are comical, every lick, every note, reminds me of him. He encouraged me in person when my own father was too far away to do it. He played me every blues album he owned to show me how the greats did it. When it came to the blues, he was the first person that came to mind when I listen to it. Most of the artists I admire in the blues genre came from evenings where he told me about his favorite artists and he played them. I miss the times when he’d tell me about his favorite artists keeping the blues alive. I’d give anything for him to tell me about one of his new favorite artists. There have been a few he might’ve liked, including Leon Bridges (even if he is more of a soul singer.)

I love music. I’m an English major (former Music Education major), and yet I listen to certain songs and think of the memories when my grandfather played those songs from his stereo, singing every lyric out of key. My own musical philosophy comes from those experiences: if a non-musician can’t sing along to it, then it isn’t worth much. My grandpa could sing along to the best of them: Sonny Terry, B.B. King, Albert King, and, of course, The Rolling Stones. Whenever I play those artists, I can’t help but think of him.

And then I think of artists he may have liked. Lately, I’ve been listening to Julie London’s Julie Is Her Name. He didn’t own it in his own personal CD collection (which I now own), but what if he had loved it as well? Questions like that torment me. When it comes to grief, questions like that hurt the most. No matter how much I loved him, and how much I picked his brain, there’ll never be another chance when I can ask him questions like that. There are questions I want to ask him that will never be answered.

Overall, grief seems to be the feeling of knowing that you’ll never be able to learn about a person ever again. In my own apartment, which I share with a friend who collaborates with me on silly musical endeavors, I see constant reminders of him: an African decoration he had, a portrait of Copenhagen, even my own cooking ware that was handed down to me. I can’t even cook bacon and eggs without being reminded of him!

I’m glad these reminders exist. Now, I’m listening to “Moonlight Mile,” his favorite song, and hoping he’d somehow come back and talk to me. Little moments like that are the moments I miss: the moments when he’d have a beer in his hand and give me advice about life that still proves to be good advice even to this day. I miss the times he’d take me to get a Happy Meal at McDonald’s when I was younger, even if those trips were only a few minutes. It’s amazing how one person can have such an impact on one’s life.

I love you Grandpa.


More to follow...


Thursday, January 07, 2016



ˌrezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/  noun
a firm decision to do or not to do something.
"she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more"

synonyms:intention, resolve, decision, intent, aim, plan; More
the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.
"the peaceful resolution of all disputes"

synonyms:solution to, answer to, end to, ending to, settlement of, conclusion to
"a satisfactory resolution of the problem"

I have not been resolute in my actions to effect my resolution... but being a determined person, I'm working to remedy my current condition and find a rhythm that will allow me to post and meet my personal and professional obligations.  I've started this post a couple of times, but life being what it is... was side-tracked and pulled away by something (truly) more urgent.  I realized that the times I chose to write, were inherently prone to interruptions... hence the search for a better time of day to write and post... a better routine.

As I mentioned before... part of my strategy will be to include some of Dad's previous posts.  So... here's a snipet from January 7th, 2007:

Jules Crittenden says we’re at a Crossroads
Option One: Pull out. Achieve short-term gratification for those who believe our absence from Iraq will solve our problems. Watch Iraq descend into further violence. Watch a nuclear-armed Iran come to dominate Iraq and the world's richest oil fields.
More likely, a dispirited people, our army broken by defeat, we'll just wait to see who emerges as the new world power. It will be a while before there is one, and much longer before there is one we would care to live under. I predict a dark age, in which brutal second-rate powers such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea do what they choose to whom they choose without restraint. An age of modern warlords, with no over-arching, feared power to keep them in check. We can watch the sick man that is Europe slowly succumb. We can watch small free nations try to fend for themselves. We can await the inevitable nuclear crisis.
Does that sound at all medieval or apocalyptic? It is. Don't think we can't go back to that.
Does it sound overly melodramatic and alarmist? If so, you're a fool with no understanding of history. I have bad news for you. The fight against evil in this world is business as usual. It never ends.
There’s more, of course. And you can probably guess what Option Two is.
This morning’s lead item on memeorandum: Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran (from The Times UK).

I know hindsight is 20/20... but the foresight in the article above is remarkable.  Think about what North Korea has done... from the Washington Post today:
"The United States and other global powers sharply condemned North Korea on Wednesday, vowing to punish it for conducting a fourth nuclear weapons test. But it was not clear what more the world could do, short of war, to a country that for years has been impervious to international isolation and sanctions."

That's all I have to say about that...
I hope all Exile readers have a wonderful (warm, for those of us in colder climates) day... take wonderful care.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Track Santa!

NORAD tracks Santa.

Back when I was in the radar biz we used to do this sort of thing locally, for the families of the guys at the radar sites where I was stationed. Back in the day every radar site had a video mapping device that fed programmed exercise video to Operations; the normal output from the video mapper was "canned" and consisted of video blips simulating actual aircraft. On Christmas Eve we'd load up a special video overlay and route it to the intercept control scopes in Operations. While "exercise" video consisted of fake bogeys (simple blips) and tracks to train intercept controllers and technicians, the special Santa video showed a sleigh and reindeer on the scopes. Not nearly real, but real enough for the kids that saw it!

The kids always got a big thrill out of the radar displays. Doing the Santa video was one of the most fun things I ever did while I was a radar guy.

Updated on 12/25/2005 0215: correct typos and grammar plus add a small amount of content. I shouldn't post after I've been into the egg nog!

Reposted December 24th, 2015... I distinctly remember being one of those kids that saw radar overlays and thinking how cool my dad was cuz he could track Santa.

I hope all "Exile" readers have a warm, safe and very Merry Christmas. 

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

My dad's favorite carol... repost from Christmas eve, 2013.

It don't get no better than that.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Time keeps on ticking...

Benjamin Franklin was a wise man... he said many profound things; a few examples below

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

"In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria."

"Some people die at 25 and aren't buried until 75."

"Dost thou love life?  Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of." (my favorite!)

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us  to be happy." (possibly my father's favorite... despite being somewhat agnostic about religion)

Time is said to heal all wounds... but after a year without my father, I can't imagine ever being well again, not like before.  I spent some time today reading blogs my father visited... and I found some peace in the posts I read; I always worried my father was alone in Portales. But today I realized he had so many wonderful friends that he shared his passion for life with... you all (if you're reading this... you are VERY likely in the group I'm referring to) brought joy and purpose to my father's life. For that, I'm truly and immeasurably thankful.

I added a couple of pics of my Dad with a couple of his favorite motorcycles... or rather mo'sickles.

My brother and I intended to keep the blog going... and more quotes come to mind; the road to hell among the first.  My mother (TFMP) would often say, (when my brother or I asked where she was going) "To hell if I don't change my ways!"  So I am making a resolution to change my ways and begin posting here... I know I can't compare to my father's writing, so I won't even try to do that... my commitment will be to re-post favorite posts of his and to write about things that remind me of him or reflect his colorful personality.

I hope you are all well, warm and enjoyed my brief post... I promise there will be more to come.  In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Things remembered...

I received my copy of "Road and Track" over the weekend.  The article comparing the new 2015 Chevyy SS and a classic BMW M5 immediately caught my eye.  Dad often said if he had a million bucks (non pun intended), he'd drive an M5.  A little background is in order here... one of dad's favorite cars was his 1983 BMW 320i, similar to the one below...

 Another favorite of Dad's was his 1996 Impala SS... when this car first appeared as a concept vehicle, one of the car magazines wrote a wonderful article that stated "Lord Vader, your car is ready."  Very appropriate, given the car was only available in black its first year of production and had a Vette motor and equally impressive handling upgrades.
So knowing my father had an affinity for Super Sport Chevys (he also owned a 1966 Chevelle SS with a 396 big block) and BMW's... I was immediately drawn to the comparison.  The article, like most in Road and Track, is very well written and conveys more than the numbers.  It succeeds in placing the reader in both cars as they drive down a foggy highway along the coast of California and with colorful descriptive language like "all that voodoo between its fenders..." it's a quick and enjoyable read.

Articles like this take me back to conversations with my father... about cars, motorcycles and other pleasures in life that enabled him to live a very interesting life.  I learned a lot from my father, but the life lesson I enjoyed the most and continue to enjoy, is to drive a car that makes me feel alive.  I will always own a car that I love to drive... life's too short not to.


Sunday, February 08, 2015

It's hard some days...

Watching the Beloved Red Wings was a past time shared by Dad and I. We would spend time together (virtually) watching the games and calling each other after good guy goals and wouldn't call when the bad guys scored. We'd talk about the team, player interviews, Don Cherry's ridiculous suits and ties and anything Red Wings related. If the Wings were obviously going to lose, one or the other would pick up the phone to say "Alright, I'm done, don't bother calling me if you stick with it." If it was a close one the understanding was we wouldn't call if we lost. No point in that! We'd just pick up at the next game. There were even a few superstitions we shared about when the Wings or the other team would score. We would call each other quickly after each goal, lest the other team get the chance to answer with one of their own and cut off our chance to talk to each other. Most of our calls ended with a phrase like "Alright, call you when we go up by two!" if we were leading by one or "Call you when we tie this up" if we were trailing by one. So many phrases were standard we would say them together at the same time, like: "There's still a lot of hockey left!" which was an interchangeable phrase used both when we were down or up. One of Dad's favorites when we were up by more than a goal was his emphatic exhortation to finish out strong: "Skate to the throat!"

Our Wings are doing well right now and I miss being able to call him after a goal. More than a few times I've reached for the phone after a goal, only to catch myself and stop. It's a sad feeling that.

The first game after arriving back home from saying goodbye to Dad was especially hard. I watched most of it through teary eyes and when the Wings won, I broke down and cried. Won't ever be able to share that post game celebration phone call with him again and it hurts.

Apologies for the sporadic and limited posting. We will strive to improve.

Just know gentle reader, that he's in our thoughts daily and is with us wherever we go.

The plan for his ash-spreading soiree is slowly coming together. More to follow on that.

Until then, please hoist an occasional toast and think of him fondly.

And cheer for our Beloved Wings!!


Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year!

We said we'd keep it going. We will...

Many have asked about services for Dad. Sam and I are working out our plan.

You see, for those of you that know Dad at all, you know he was a particular kinda guy with a particular kind of style. Style, Dad had in abundance!

His wishes were to be cremated and have his ashes spread in various locales across the globe. These favorite places would require a small fortune to get to in a short amount of time, being the world traveler that he was, so for now, we're going to stick to the CONUS (continental US, for those of you not familiar with the military vernacular) locations for the beginning of his services.

This could be a party that lasts a decade!

Just so you know, Dad mentioned places like a favorite pub in London, a bar in Japan, New Orleans during Mardi Gras and a national park in California.

We will compile the list and hopefully begin to comply with his wishes as soon as practical.

Meanwhile, please feel free to visit old posts and leave comments as you wish. We are monitoring comments and working out a plan on how to best keep his blog alive.