Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Happy Birthday Neil

September 3, 2018

Today is our son Neil’s 36th birthday. We didn’t get to spend any time with him. Perhaps, we can get together in the next month or two. Neil lives in Salt Lake City with his lovely wife Laura.

So we went to church this morning. After church, we all went to the Pacific Diner for brunch. This is one of our favorite places for Sunday brunch. The diner is on Pacific Ave at 38th street. Always good food.

Here is a picture that we took of the rest of the family.

The little rascal in the right side of the picture is our grandson Jonathan. All together four generations sitting at the table.


January 28, 2018

I am overdue for a post on Mary. So here we go. This week Mary celebrated her 94th birthday. We managed to persuade her to go to Senior Bible Study at Ocean View.

Side note: We have managed to get her to Sunday services for the past few weeks. First occasion was to see Jonathan perform with the kids Christmas Cantata, then to see Theresa in the adult cantata. Trying to get her in the habit of going to church again.

She hadn’t been going to the Bible study for quite a time now. We had told her that the people there missed her and encouraged her to return. I told her that Betty Walker would be getting her a cake and we would all sing “Happy Birthday” to her.

So we were continually trying to figure out what her problem was with going to Bible Study on Wednesday and services on Sunday. I think that I finally figured it out. She didn’t want anyone to see her all decrepit and walking with the aid of a walker. I told her that several people there used walkers and canes. She wasn’t the only one that was a having trouble with walking stability. It seems to help if there is a reason to go.

So we continued with the celebration this week. Mike and his family came over for dinner on Friday. We got another cake from a local bakery for the occasion. We ordered a banana/whipped cream cake from Amalfitano’s Bakery in San Pedro (a family favorite). It was very tasty.2018-01-26 20.10.20

The 11th Commandment

March 8, 2017

So the Old Testament has 10 commandments as delivered to Moses in Deuterotomy 5.

Deuteronomy 5:1-5 ESV

[1] And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them. [2] The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. [3] Not with our fathers did the LORD make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. [4] The LORD spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, [5] while I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD. For you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain. He said: …

And so forth and so on.

And in the New Testament it is written,

Matthew 22:34-40 ESV

[34] But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. [35] And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. [36] “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” [37] And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [38] This is the great and first commandment. [39] And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So I propose an 11th commandment that incorporates all of the above. It works for all religions including Christians, Jews, Muslims and Atheists. Do this and we can all get along better.  I doubt that I am the first person to say this but it is worth repeating.

Don’t be an asshole!

Nuff’ said.


January 1, 2017

Well I finally finished reading “Hamilton”. I had been reading it off and on since this past June. That was a long hard slog. The book runs a total of 800 pages. Though, the main part of the biography runs only 730 pages. It’s a good read and worthy of your time to read.hamilton

So where do I start? I learned so much that I never knew. Here is an excerpt from the blurb on Amazon:

Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party…

Here are a few things that I learned (more than I ever learned in HS History):

  • Hamilton was an illegitimate child born on the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean.
  • Republicans and Federalists despised each other. Much like political parties today. Maybe even more so.
  • The duel that ended Hamilton’s life occurred in New Jersey, because New York state had outlawed dueling. Although New Jersey was in the process of outlawing it too.
  • Both Hamilton and Burr were carried across the East River by (separate) row boats at the crack of dawn to avoid detection by local authorities.
  • Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury (under George Washington)
  • He fought in the Revolutionary War.

So much more. You can read the Wikipedia entry here. But don’t let that stop you from reading the whole book (click here for the Kindle copy)

Minor League Baseball

April 28, 2016

milbWell, as many of you know I am a huge (or as Donald Trump would say “Yuge”) baseball fan. So last week I learned that the son of one of our friends in OES is a pitcher in minor league baseball. More about this later on in my post.

Forgive me if you already know this. Minor league baseball is divided into classes with Single A at the bottom and triple AAA at the top. As players get better at the sport they move up from one class to the next with AAA players potentially moving to the Majors.

The various minor leagues tend to be somewhat regional in nature probably to keep travel costs and ticket price lower . There are three AAA leagues. The International League is mostly in the Northeast. The Pacific Coast League is mostly in the west. And the Mexican League is in (drum roll please) Mexico.

There is an excellent web site that covers all of the players and teams in Minor League Baseball. covers all you could ever want to know about players, teams, stats, scores and standings. The site is free unless you want to watch games on streaming video.

Going to a minor league baseball game is a lot more affordable than major league games. When I was living in Massachusetts, there were several teams that played close by. We would often go to see the Lowell Spinners (Single A) or the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA) for a fraction of the cost it take to go to a Major League game. The ball parks tend to be a lot smaller. You are always close to the action. There are no “nose bleed” sections. Even the beer is cheaper.

Alas, here in LA there are no AAA teams within an hours driving time. eg. The LA Dodger’s AAA team is in Oklahoma City.  There are several Single A Advanced league teams in California. Closest is probably the Inland Empire 66ers. But still that’s 2-3 hours on the freeways. The closest AAA team would be either Las Vegas 51’s or Fresno Grizzlies.

Minor league team names always seem to be interesting. The names often have a local flavor to them. Here are the logos for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (that’s one nasty looking pig) and the Albuquerque Isotopes:


6254_rochester_red_wings-primary-2014So back to my original subject. So our friend’s son is a pitcher in the Minnesota Twins organization. Jason Wheeler was called up to the Twins’ AAA team (Rochester Red Wings) this week. He pitched in his first AAA game yesterday. He pitched seven innings. He gave up a home run and got a “no decision”. You can follow Jason’s progress here.





Chicken Recipe from 1959

December 24, 2015

So the other day, we were looking for a new way to cook some chicken thighs. So Paula was browsing through various cookbooks and we found a newspaper clipping tucked inside one of Mary’s cookbooks. The recipe was one where you dip the chicken pieces in evaporated milk and coat with crushed corn flakes. Okay, we haven’t done that in a long time. Let’s try it.

But that’s not much of a story. What is more interesting is the ad on the back side of the recipe. It’s an ad for diet pills. It doesn’t say it but my guess is that it’s some sort of speed/dexedrine. So, I scanned and included here.



Oh by the way, here’s the recipe. Tasted pretty good.



Christmas Letters

November 29, 2015

Every about this time I start working on my Christmas Letter. I started doing this annual letter back about 1998 or 1999. I felt that sending a Christmas card with just a signature was too little work and hand writing news on each and every card was way too much. My in-laws had been doing Christmas letters for as long as I have known them. Back then Mary did the writing and typing on her IBM Selectric and took it to the copy shop for duplication. Computers made my job so much easier.

I still have copies of previous editions going back to 1999. Some years, I would send my email. But I didn’t like that very much. The initial editions just had generic Christmas clip-art. Eventually, I started including pictures. I figured our friends would rather see a few pictures than some lame clip-art.

Now a days, I do a press run of 120 copies. 120 is a nice round number. There are 30 address labels per page and 24 e-stamps per page. Both numbers divide evenly into 120. I still send a few email copies for folks not in the USA. Besides, going past 120 gets into serious money for postage.

So I already have a rough draft done. And I have started printing stamps and labels. Some years when I was working, I didn’t get the letter out until after Christmas.

So without further ado, here is my 1999 Christmas letter (this was the text only version sent by email):

December 1999

Well it is December again and time to do some writing to our friends and family wherever you may be. This year Paula and I decided that she would write her Christmas cards the normal way (ie. Christmas card, pen, envelope, stamp, etc.).

I decided to do another Christmas letter, but this year I would send it via email. I have added several hyperlinks for your web-surfing enjoyment. So without further ado, here is the latest news at the Bowker family:

Mike finished his freshman year at Northeastern University. He made the Dean’s list for the Spring Quarter. He is majoring in Electrical Engineering or as Dave Barry calls it “Big Scary Equations”. This fall he is working at his Co-op assignment at Ezenia Corporation in Burlington.

He continues to be active in NUHOC (NU Hiking and Outing Club). Click here to see a picture of him last winter at a NUHOC Ice Climbing event. He is eagerly awaiting the first good snow of the season. It has been unseasonably warm in New England this December and for that Mike is quite unhappy.

Mike continues to train at Kwon’s Tai Kwon Do in Tewksbury. He tested and received his 2nd Dan (2nd Degree) Black Belt in December. He will be returning to campus in January, to start his sophomore academic work (Physics, Math, Circuits).

Neil is in his junior year at Shawsheen Vocational Technical High School where his shop specialty is Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (ACR). Neil spent the summer working at a local Air Conditioning contractor. He was spent many a weekend diving off of Cape Ann. He passed his Advanced Open Water Dive certification. 

Neil got his drivers license this spring and Billerica roads have not been the same since. In June, he decided that he really needed a car, so we found him a 1990 Jeep Wrangler. Neil is rapidly learning the hassles of owning a car.

Paula is still working at Chelmsford Pediatrics as a staff nurse. There are unfortunately no web pages for Chelmsford Pediatrics. Paula and I try to spend as many weekends as we can up at our condo in Plymouth, NH.  We never seem to have enough time to get away. Here are a couple of pictures of the place. The condo is located at Tenney Mountain in Plymouth, NH.

I have been asked by some of our west coast friends whether we would be out in LA this Christmas. Unfortunately we will not be traveling this Christmas. One of the reasons for staying home is that I will be working over the New Year’s weekend keeping the world safe from the Y2K problems. Paula’s parents will however be coming out to visit for Christmas.  We are looking forward to their visit.

I continue to work for Compaq (or as we are fond of calling it: the company formerly known as DEC). I am doing more or less the same job in Customer Services doing either solving complex customer problems or consulting in the High Availability Systems area. I am currently working on a project for AT&T where I get to spend weekends in New Jersey. This is not quite the international travel I was becoming used to. Whatever, it’s a job.

This past weekend we finally had a taste of winter. Temperature got down to 32F and winds of 25 knots gusting to 30-40 knots. BRRRRRRR!!!!. Paula and I spent Saturday Christmas shopping starting with to gift shops to Wal-Mart and so forth. Mike decided to forego the pleasure of joining us and went skiing instead.

Well, that’s enough. May all of you and happy and joyous Christmas. Keep in touch.

Joe, Paula, Mike and Neil Bowker