Butterfly Kisses and Cactus Thorns

Today I drove 32 school kids and 8 adults to a field trip and while I was there, I was able to take these two pictures.

The butterfly is delicate.  The cactus flower is delicate but *VERY* well protected.





Retired But Busy

If you read back in the blog, you’ll see I retired.

Retired is not “doing nothing”.  Rather, it’s “doing what I want, when I want and on my schedule”.

My wife asked me to coach the robotics team at her high school.  This is from 2:30pm to 4:30pm, three days a week.  This is a volunteer position.  There is a lot of learning going on during these time; using tools, problem solving, team work and “engineer think”.  I feel this is an important thing and I will be there unless I’m deployed or my family needs me.  This is my chance to give back to the world.

I’m driving a school bus on field trips for multiple schools.  These days start with my inspecting the bus around 7:30am and since the schools finish up at 2pm, the buses are always back to school by 1:30pm.  I’m doing this 2 or 3 days a week.   This gives the kids a chance to see things outside of school and gives me a chance to see that the future world will be in good hands.

And, I’m busy catching up on the house maintenance that got deferred while I was working full time.



I mentioned to a TV station engineer that I’m retiring.  They offered me a job before I could even catch my breath.  We were running 8:14 minute miles at the time and it was over 100F degrees (almost 40C), so “before I could even catch my breath” might have been one or two minutes….but still…….

Apparently that engineer told someone else who told someone else, and so on.  I’ve received telephone calls from three other companies asking if I’d be interested in coming out of retirement to work for “them”.

Yet another engineer (he does consulting work for sewer system operators) has asked if I’d be interested in writing software for computers that control sewer systems.

My wife mentioned on her Facebook page that I’m retiring and somewhere she must also have mentioned my commercial driver license and school bus driver certificate because I’ve received telephone calls from two different friends of hers…both are school district student transportation directors and both are asking if I would like to drive a school bus.

My wife has already said how nice it will be for me to come down to her school and help mentor the high school kids in the robotics club.

I still have my government “portable hospital engineer” job and I am still a substitute school bus driver for the elementary school that our daughter attended.

Can I have a 5 minute break between retirement and un-retirement?  Please?

Bus Driver

I am a substitute school bus driver and until this year, I only drove a few times per month.

This year, following the retirement of one of the drivers and the inability of the school to find a new driver, I temporarily became the regular bus driver.

Well, they found someone.  She is now fully qualified, certified and licensed. While we have detailed route maps that are enough for a driver to “get on the bus and drive the route”, it is much less stressful to have the driver ride along a time or two.   This is especially true for the part of the route that is completed before the sun comes up.

The new driver rode with me today and I told her all the landmarks on the route….”See that speed limit sign?  The kids will be right by that sign.” or “When you turn this corner, start counting street light poles.  The stop is under the 3rd street light.”

She said she is ready to go and will drive the route tomorrow.

I can tell she will be good.  Driving the bus is the easy part.  All one needs to worry about is where all the pieces of the bus are in relation to everything on, near and over the roadway. The hard part is finding that fine balance between easy going and strict when working with the kids…note that I said “working” and not “dealing”.  The words “dealing with”, to me, sounds like it is an adversarial relationship and nothing is farther from the truth, which is why I prefer the words “working with”.  Anyway,  I have found my fine balance and it’s obvious this lady (mother to four boys) knows her fine balance.

The kids already know she is going to become the regular driver, so tomorrow I will be the one riding and that will give me a chance to say good by.   I will miss them.  The new driver has already said I can drive when ever I want.  I’ve already asked if I could drive drive once or twice a month–just so I can say “hi”.

Even though I no longer need to get up a 4:30am, I will continue to do so. Only now, I’ll go directly to my telephone company job and get there at 6:30am instead of 9am. I’ll then be able to leave early and hopefully avoid both the morning and evening rush hour drive times.

The Bus, 4th Graders and Word Choice

I have been driving the school bus each morning since mid August.  Sometimes I have to work hard  to not laugh out loud.

Tuesday is a perfect example.

A 4th grade boy sits in seat two.  Seat one is directly behind me and seat two is to  the right of seat one.  Since the bus is not terribly noisy, I can hear him quite well when he speaks.

I’m driving along, the kid is sitting in his seat, looking straight ahead and for no reason that I could see, he blurts, “F—!” loudly enough for most of the bus to hear.

This bus takes the kids to a Catholic school and I could see everyone looking at me to see what I’d do.   I grew up around the Marine Corps and I’ve that word more than a few times, so it really didn’t offend me.   However, I felt that if I didn’t do something, or worse, laughed,  I’d have a bunch of potty mouthed kids…and I didn’t want that… I’m both protective of “my” kids and I feel their behavior is somewhat of a reflection of me….So…..

“Hey!  Don’t talk like that!  Why did you say that?”

“It was just random.”

“Random?  That didn’t sound random to me.  Would you say that to Sister _____(the principal)?”

“No.”, kind of uncomfortably.

“Well, why did you say that around me?  Don’t you respect me as much as you do Sister ____?”

“I don’t know.  Yes.  I mean no. I mean….” as he shrunk down in the seat.

“If you ever say that around me again, you’ll be randomly cleaning cafeteria tables during recess.  Understood?”


Then, a bit more gently, “You know, if you get into the habit of talking like that,  one of those words will just slip out without you even realizing it. And it will probably happen at the worst possible moment.  That’s why you shouldn’t talk like that.”



This morning,  after I finished driving the bus route, I mentioned this exchange to one of the teachers and she smiled.  Yesterday during lunch, the same boy was talking with one of his friends and behind him, talking with a parent, was the principal…”You’re F—-ing kidding me!”

She said the principal politely disengaged herself from the conversation with the parent and walked over to see who said that.

At the school, they call this situation “Fun with the nun.”




Our daughter seems to be adjusting to dorm life very nicely.  The arrangement is 2 girls in one room and two girls in the adjacent room with common bathroom for both rooms.  So far the only issue has been one girl in the adjoining room that is running a bit wild and annoying the other three girls.  When everyone was moving in, I met “wild child” and her parents.  My guess is that it’s a case of her never being allowed any freedom at home and now she’s not sure how to live without a parent keeping things under control.  Everyone is hoping she settles down.  I think she will settle down once she realizes the hangovers and people making fun of her drunkenness are not as fun as it seemed a few weeks ago.

This summer was the final year of a lady’s 27 years of driving the school bus.  Since then, the school has been looking, without success, for a new driver.  Until they find a regular driver, I’m driving the bus every morning.

This means the alarm clock rings at 4:45am instead of 5:30am and the day ends, as usual, with me getting home around 7pm.

They have someone that has stepped up to the challenge and is studying for their class B commercial driver license with the P and S endorsements.   While driving the bus is a lot of fun, I will be glad to get the extra 45 minutes “sack time” each morning.

The old Volvo I drive to work had a slight oil leak that I fixed.  The oil from the leak contaminated the insulators on the spark plugs and that was causing a misfire–the engine was running rough and getting worse than normal gas mileage.  After cleaning things, the engine is now running perfectly.  This isn’t bad for a car with close to 400,000 miles on it.


Last Monday

June 1 was my last day to drive school bus for this school year .  The 8th graders will move on to high school and I won’t see them very often.  Next year I will get to see a new set of kindergarteners and all the returning students.

The teachers see the kids for just one year.  I get to see them year after year, and watch them grow up.  The transformation from small child to teenager is absolutely amazing.

To all those who feel the world is going to hell and that the younger generation isn’t worth anything…you are wrong.  If even 10% of the world’s kids are as good as “mine”….when it’s their turn to run the world, we will be in good and capable hands.