Why I Love My Moto 360 Smart Watch

My darling wife recently bought me a Moto 360 smart watch because, well, because she’s an amazing woman.

I gotta tell ya, I love this thing, and here’s why.

I love that:

  • I don’t have to worry whether I’ll hear the phone ring when it’s in my pocket, because the watch vibrates to alert me.
  • I’m digging my phone out of my pocket less and less.
  • After using it all day I’ve still got 40% percent battery life left.
  • I can change watch faces as often as I feel like it. I’m currently using one that looks remarkably like a Rolex. Cooool.
  • The band feels great on my wrist.
  • When I’m navigating the watch vibrates when I’m supposed to turn, a safeguard in case I don’t hear the phone’s speaker.
  • People ask about it and always think it’s cool.
  • I can voice-text while driving, and my hands stay on the wheel.
  • I can find out my heart rate anytime I want without taking my own pulse.
  • Figure out a tip without taking out my phone

I mean, seriously, what’s not to love?


Why I Love Golf: Reasons 1 through 7

Funny thing, golf. Four hours or so of ecstasy and agony interspersed with exclamations along the lines of:

  • Dammit!
  • Ooh, that’ll play.
  • What the —?
  • Now that felt good.
  • Oh, come on!

Gotta love the game.

Here are some of my reasons why I’m a golf-adorer.


That feeling when you “pure” it off the tee.


The sound of a long putt clinking into the bottom of the cup.


The process of successfully figuring out why you just pulled the bejeebers out of the ball when you’ve been pushing it all day.


Driving the cart.


Riding in the cart with a friend.


Changing your mind in the woods, when you decide that rather than trying to fly the ball over a wall of oak trees it makes more sense to drill it out under the branches.


The feel of a new cap.

The Snap That Brings My Mother Back

She has been dead a long time, my mother, more than a quarter century, and I still think of her often. Certain sights, songs, and sounds tend to bring her back, like the explosion that comes from snapping a freshly laundered towel.

I’ll bring up a basket of towels from the laundry room, not thinking about my mother at all, and plunk the basket on the bed, ready to fold. I’ll pick up a bath towel, grab two corners, and whip the towel like a headbanger at a Metallica concert.


And there she is, my mother, next to me. I see her holed up in that tiny laundry room in my childhood home, a room right off the kitchen, with pine-slatted saloon doors and walls a bilious green. Sounds of one towel after another, and T shirts too, thundered from that room about every day (there were six kids, after all), and we knew Ma was doing what she loved best, taking care of us kids.

Better yet were the days she dried the towels in the summer sun. The crispness of those snaps, the pureness of them, stays with you long after the sun sets and the years have moved on.

Eventually Ma would push through the doors, two stacks of towels folded in her arms just so, the doors fluhfluhfluhflupping behind her. A smile and a wink to her children and she is gone, much too soon.

So there I’ll stand now, snapping one towel after another, and I’ll fold the towels the way the mother of this home likes them, stack them neatly, and carry them upstairs for our own family to use. By that time my mother’s memory has faded, temporarily, awaiting another load of wash.

R.I.P, Wolfgang, You Were a Great Companion

Oh, how Wolfie loved an open briefcase.

We had to put a pet down recently, a horrible event under the best of circumstances. Wolfgang, or Wolfie, was a ridiculously handsome cat, black, shiny, strong, with a sphinxlike face and a loving personality.

Earlier in life than he should have, he developed acute and then chronic kidney failure. The vet prescribed subcutaneous fluid infusion three times a week, a procedure called hypodermoclysis. I had given tens of thousands of cc’s of fluid intravenously over my years as a nurse, so I took on that task at home.

We gave him several rounds of subcu fluid, but he reacted more and more violently as time went on, and why wouldn’t he? Hypodermoclysis is a painful, drawn out procedure that effectively blows up the fatty area on a cat’s neck to three or four times its natural size.


There was no other valid option for therapy, though we did try a low-protein diet for a while, but in the end we decided that we weren’t going to torture this poor guy three times a week for the rest of his life only to have him slowly waste away and die anyway. We would give him all the love we could, while we could, and let nature take its course.

That course finally ended when our favorite vet, Jim, gently, professionally, and compassionately euthanized Wolfie, just as he had euthanized three other beloved pets in the past. He came into the exam room, took one look at the waiflike cat on the table and said, “Poor little guy. He’s had enough.”

It was difficult, but we knew in our hearts that Jim was right, that Wolfie had indeed had enough. He died silently, calmly. I thanked Jim for his help, loaded the cat into the car, and drove him home for burial in our back yard, right next to Katie, Max, and Lucy.

We’re down to one four-legged friend, Princess Sadie, Ruler of All Who Enter, Table Beggar Par Excellence, Holy Devotee to Queen Gay and Most Unholy Archenemy of Yours Truly.

Hoo, boy.

Ask Not What Love Is, This Is It

You can see the Pittsburgh skyline from Ollie’s room. It’s quite lovely in the evening, your eyes scanning the row home rooftops of the working-class neighborhood below and then shifting to the lights on the horizon, a horizon that should signal hope and renewal.

This vantage point, though, is the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and the room is for Ollie Halligan, a nearly 6-month-old infant with a host of problems that have proved to be, at the last, insurmountable.

He had suffered surgeries, strokes, cardiac arrests, infections, and a rare condition in which his blood cells literally ate other blood cells. He survived all but the last, his swollen little face unaware of the mortiforous path ahead.

His eyes, though. My God, his eyes.

Darting this way and that, looking at a strange visitor and wondering, possibly, what on earth he’s doing here, and where is my mom?

Dark, persistent eyes, intent on seeing whatever he can, while he can.

A visitor watches as Ollie’s mom, Ollie’s unspeakably patient, tenacious, and devoutedly parental mom, speaks a poem in hushed tones, just hushed enough for a visitor and Ollie to hear, tones so soft they seem otherwordly.

I wanted you more
than you ever will know
so I sent love to follow
wherever you go.
It’s high as you wish it. It’s quick as an elf.
You’ll never outgrow it…it stretches itself!

So climb any mountain…
climb up to the sky!
My love will find you.
My love can fly!

Ollie’s eyes slide to the outside, where the words come from a voice he knows and craves. The eyes remain fixed, listening to this bedtime ritual.

My love is so high, and so wide and 
so deep, it’s always right there, even 
when you’re asleep.

His heart rate slows, his breathing steadies, his eyes slowly, slowly close. The pureness of love only a mother can give lessens Ollie’s pain, comforts his mind, soothes his soul.

It won’t last, but it’s enough. It is heartrendingly enough.

You are my angel, my darling, 
my star…and my love will find you, 
wherever you are.

You are loved.

The visitor tries to wipe tears from his eyes, but he fails. They seep past his tissues and defenses. He has witnessed true devotion, life in its shatteringly short span and profound tenderness, and he is forever changed.

So it has been with everyone who has known this little élan vital, this stoic being who nearly overcame the odds.


Adieu, little Ollie, adieu. Your wee time here will leave an imperishable design upon my heart.

I’m not an idiot, I said

I cannot tell you how many times over the years I’ve called myself an idiot. Gotta be in the gazillions, fer sure.

I open the wrong folder in Word, and it’s “Idiot!”

Misspell preference, and it’s “Dumbass!”

E-mail someone and forget the attachment, and it’s “What a duh!”

I probably shouldn’t do that.

No, I definitely shouldn’t do that. I’m trying to learn that putting myself down like that is just as powerful as someone else saying it to me. I wouldn’t put up with that, so why do I do it myself?

No clue, but I’m going to start stopping it. I’m going to start trying to recognize the things I do well and not pay so much attention to those little annoyances.

That’s the plan, and I’m sticking to it.

Saying a Gradual Goodbye to Our Wolfgang

Wolfgang “Wolfie” McPhee

Our poor kitty is on his last legs, I believe. Only 8, he has chronic renal failure for reasons unknown.

They could be known, I’m told, if we just get an ultrasound. Worse-case scenario, I suppose, would be that the ultrasound shows either a carcinoma or amyloidosis, a condition of protein buildup in the kidneys. Not good either way.

His renal failure is progressive and incurable.

We’ve put him on a special low-protein food, which he hates. We’ve tried clysis, an infusion of fluid in the subcutaneous tissues in his back. He hates it. Hates it.

Who wouldn’t? Clysis is painful, quite painful. Imagine the last time you had a “shot” in your arm. It was probably all of 0.5ml, a teensy amount. Did it hurt? Probably at least stung.

Now imagine someone gives you a shot with 100 times that amount. It hurts.

My wife and I decided that we were not going to put him through the agony of clysis three or four times a week. It seems inhumane.

He is losing weight and drinking water like it’s going out of style. But he remains as loving now as he has been all his life. He’s a great cat, and I will miss him terribly.

This is the part of pet ownership I hate the most. I can clean poop all day, if I have to, and pick up after his spittles. But this.

This is awful.

So we will give him the best life we can for the time he has left, and we will love him as we always have. We will not get an ultrasound or more blood work to tell us what we already know. We will pet him and hug him and give him long, slow pulls on his tail, which he loves, and when it’s time, we will say goodbye.

God, I hope we’re doing the right thing.