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April, 2000: 7 23 25 26 27


(1999-2002: Pre-Retirement Years)

4/7/00-Fri.-Since the last entry, we found a leak in my bathtub (not yet fixed), the termite folks have been out and pumped a large quantity of poison under the house near the hole through the slab for my toilet (the termite's latest entry point), and arrangements have been made for a visit this weekend in Austin between Frances, Mom, Allen, Ron, Esther, Jane, Pete, and me. We'll be getting together, first, at the place, out past Bergstrom, that Ron recently bought, a large double-wide mobile home on a big lot.

I have missed work for jury duty recently, with an assignment to a county court upcoming on Monday, 4/10. Hopefully I'll not be selected, since the difficulties I would have, from my prostate as well as lost time on my casework backlog, would not be pleasant. Still, on the possibility I shall be chosen, I've been doing my utmost in the past couple weeks to get caught up at work, after being well behind due to my earlier period of illness.

Our current assets now stand at about $545,000. If we include the present value of my retirement contributions plus the interest accrued on them, what I'd receive if I quit the state and withdrew those funds, the current total now well exceeds $600,000. Put another way, if we look at the retirement annuity plus medical benefits as if it were the principal needed, conservatively allocated, to generate the annuity and medical perks, our assets now exceed $900,000. We are shooting for the figure to be at least $1,000,000 or for me to reach age sixty, whichever first, before my retirement.

4/23/00-Sun.-Easter. In the last couple weeks or so, since my most recent earlier entry, there have been a few significant developments.

We paid our 1999 taxes, submitted our IRA contributions, and sent in our first year 2000 estimated tax payment.

Our really big news is that Fran has figured out how to program the computer so as to generate our first working web site, Wagner's Home Page, complete with links to our e-mail address and to "The Wagnerian Express," which we thus put out for the first time (the 4/00 issue) online! This was a terrific improvement! It was also done with significant embellishments, so that, once the text was added, it seemed a quite professional family newsletter.

Positive feedback has come in from several directions. In only one instance, from Mary, was there resistance to the new form for the family/investment letter. She is somewhat techno-phobic. In her case, as well as for two readers who lack internet accessible PCs, we shall be Xeroxing printed versions of the issues and mailing them out.

Frances already has ideas for additions to the home page and possible new links and/or home page sites, i.e. an album featuring our dog, Pepper, an investing site I would put out, photos of creative projects Fran has done, pages for many of her drawings and photographs, and so forth.

There has been a substantial downturn in some of the equities markets. Since our portfolio is well allocated, we lost just 3% of our assets. Nonetheless, this has meant a drop in our current total of over $20,000 just since the last entry, about as much as Fran has been netting in a year!

Today we are just back from a brief, overnight visit in Waco at my mom's place. We had a nice time there with Mom, Mary, Jim, Allen, and Tess. The rest of Tess's family were away for most of this holiday weekend, Chris out of town with friends, and the others on a trip to Sea World in San Antonio.

4/25/00-Tues.-At ye ol' state job we celebrated Secretaries' Week today with lots of bad-for-us vittles, plus exotic potted plant gifts to the clerical staff.

This evening I decided I want to start an online journal, indeed, this one, that I've been keeping all these years, but on the web. Who knows if it would be seen as worthwhile reading by anyone, but the idea appeals to me. What to call it? That's a real puzzler. I have thought of "Diary of an old fart." This has the advantage that folks looking for Diary of Ann Frank on the web might find my site because the search engines would notice my site's similarity to the beginning of the other title.

Somehow, though, I suspect the sort of reader who had gone looking for Ms. Frank's work might not be too thrilled with finding mine instead. Still, it's a thought. Fran says it's important to have something in the name of your site that search engines naturally gravitate toward, to help winnow you out of all the other thousands or millions of old codgers who are trying to do the exact same thing. Then I thought of "Ezekiel's Word Galleries." This has the advantage of capturing the attention of Jewish plus maybe a few Christian web surfers, as well as all those yahoos looking for photo galleries. Still, I don't think I quite have it right yet. Somehow, it is not a grabber, like "Java," "The Wagnerian Express" or "Red Hat." Must keep trying!

4/26/00-Wed.-With Fran's help, I started my new web site tonight, naming it simply "The Vintage Diarist." It will be nothing more or less than a memoir, in online journal entries, but without my last name. I envision it as something of a written form of what that lady is doing on the web, the one who has cameras up in several rooms of her house or apartment and which, potentially 24 hours a day, shows her in her routine, whatever her current activity. However, like her, I shall show some discretion and try to avoid an elaboration, for instance, of what goes on, plop by plop or tinkle by tinkle, in the restroom. There is no way one can in this venue be totally candid. Nonetheless, I'll attempt to come close to a genuine rendition of this man's life.

The journal, like myself, will doubtless evolve as I move through whatever is in store and for however much time I have left. I see it as similar in kind to the effort of that initially very depressed old lady noted in the news a few years ago who, through amateur art, in self-portraits, gradually came to a transcendent self-acceptance, which could not help but then be expressed as well in her created images.

4/27/00-Thurs.-A rather hectic day at work, as we are needing to carefully yet hurriedly decide how to use up available monthly casework moneys that, if not spent by the end of the day, will be lost. Since funds are scarce, it is essential the best use possible be made of what few are there. Meanwhile, a half-dozen other priorities keep intruding into one's time and attention.

Each spring since we moved into our house, about fourteen years ago, a family of sparrows has taken up residence in our garage attic. This year being no exception, they are now noisily going about the business of getting a new generation ready for independent living. It appears the youngsters are now fledged and about to strike out on their own. The young of other birds are also awkwardly flapping about in search of choice morsels, to replace what their parents are no longer bringing, or are drinking from various small reservoirs we keep replenished with water through the drier, warmer months, which, unfortunately, are already upon us.

The image occurs to me of our thoughts and, indeed, all our activities and interactions as we pass through existence, being like large schools of fish shoaling, now this way and now that, as if randomly, in the vast and gray or dark blue-green deep of the seas.

Tonight Frances, Pepper, and I went for a brisk walk for a couple miles in our favorite area. We saw about nine deer, despite the recent incursions of developers and the dry, warm conditions. We bathed the dog in an irrigation sprinkler's spray and gave her a drink before going on to a Chinese restaurant for supper.

At home, I'm having to contend with a plague of fleas. So far I've tried salting the carpet and poisoning it with flea-killing insecticide mist, but with limited success. Tomorrow I'll put out a fine coating of sevin dust and leave the dog outside awhile, so we do not also poison her.

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