Friday, October 6, 2017

I'm back at it

Here it is, October, and I can now walk without a 'walker'. People, including doctors, told me that the pain from broken ribs takes six weeks or more to fade away. I'm getting close to that number and the pain is very manageable now. If I stand for a period of ten minutes or more, the pain returns with a vengeance. But if I'm walking it is very easy to ignore. I see the doctor next week and I'm looking for good news.

Trump...what can I say about him that hasn't been said? I send him nasty tweets every few weeks but that's just to make me feel better. I'm sure he never sees them.

Las Vegas...it's the same as above. What could I possibly say that hasn't been said about this tragedy?

On a different note, our landscaping is complete. Although the landscaping consists of all native plants,  the incredible heat we experienced early on this summer damaged a number of the plants. Newly planted, they didn't have enough root structure to withstand the heat. And the heat continued through the summer and now into fall as well. We are seeing low 90's and high 80's this past week with some relief in sight about two weeks from now. The outlook was positive enough to remove and replant the damaged plants. While the crew was here, we added some rocks and some more lighting. Now, when we look out the kitchen/dining area windows, it's all flowers and beautiful plants.

I have to walk twice a day as part of my recovery therapy and so I get a close look at the neighborhood yards. This is a middle class neighborhood as is most of the city. And lawns seem to be the preferred landscaping material. I have to admit that I hate lawns. As a young boy, I had to push the family mower across the lawn as part of my chores. If I didn't mow the lawn I didn't get the .50 cent allowance. That started my hatred of lawns. Then, strangely enough, when I was 11, I decided to advertise my services for mowing lawns. .50 cents for the back lawn and .25 cents for the front lawn. Edging was included. Pretty soon I had half a dozen jobs and a partner. After one summer season of lawn mowing I had close to $10 and I made a vow to never mow a lawn again (unless I needed my allowance). I kept that vow all through my time in the Navy and then our early years as a married couple. We lived in apartments until we had our first child. That's when we rented a house and it had lawns, front and back. For a few years I was unable to keep my vow. Then we bought a new house and we had to have a lawn like all the rest of the new homeowners. We decided on a dichondra lawn for the small front yard and for the enormous back yard I decided on benign neglect. Dichondra was perfect as it only needed mowing once or twice a year. In our subsequent moves, we had large houses with very small lawns and I was okay with that. Then, 1977, we moved to our house in the woods, in Lassen County. With 8 acres of second growth pine we had a lovely carpet of pine needles with no hint of lawns. It was heaven! But all good things come to an end
and 11 years later we had to move to Roseville, suburbia. Where we tore out the lawns and put in native plants and concrete and sold the lawn mower. We were there for 16 years. Eventually we ended up in the far northern end of the San Joaquin valley. Here, I hired someone to mow the small lawn we had while we planned on this landscaping project that I love so much. 

I know that landscaping is something very personal. It's the image that you want to project to the community. And as I walk, I pass one perfect lawn after another. All mown and edged beautifully. On any day of the week, there are mowers and blowers creating an angry buzz on more than one lawn as the 'Mow & Blow' contractors make their rounds. Oddly enough, we have never seen a child playing on this perfect grass? With the chemicals that are applied to these lawns, I don't think I would want to let my child play on it.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Rinse and repeat

On Friday, September 8th, I will be checking in to the local hospital for surgery on my back. This will be the 5th time, but the first at the cervical end of my spine; the part that holds my head on. The years that I made a lot of money by installing  drywall ceilings have come back to haunt me. The weight of innumerable sheets of drywall pressing down on my spine, so many year ago, weakened the vertebrae and now they are pressing down on the many nerves that exit the spinal column at this level.

It's a fairly simple operation, microdiscectomy and fusion of 6 vertebrae. A few days in the hospital and then home with a brace to keep my head attached while the bone grafts grow into strong bones. I have looked at the entire operation on Neurosurgery TV and was amazed at how easily they perform such intricate surgery, all the while looking through a high powered microscope and wielding very small instruments and working within a 1" incision.

During the past few weeks I managed to make it to the age of 77. Watching American longevity dropping during the past decade, I'm happy to have made it this far. And thinking about that made me think of my life 70 years ago. I was in the 2nd grade at Center Street school in Manhattan Beach. At that age I was allowed to go as far as my legs would take me; except that I wasn't allowed to cross Sepulveda (101), about half a mile east of our house. There were sand dunes in every direction, but I used the sidewalk that would take me down the hill to downtown and then to the pier, about a mile away. Such great times...

September 18th...things have not gone exactly as planned. The surgery went well and I was surprised that I needed no brace. The vertebra, C2 through C6 are held together with titanium plates and that is supposed to be enough. Then, I was released on the 10th. we're pretty sure that was about 2 days too early. Later that night, I got up from bed, a mistake, and headed to the bathroom. I reached for the handrail but didn't have the strength to keep myself from falling into the side of the toilet. Sharp pain ensued. In no time at all I had a room full of firemen and EMT's. Back to the hospital I went, where X-rays determined that I had broken more than a few ribs on my right side.

I began another recuperation and was released from the hospital on the 15th. I feel very fragile at this point, though I do have a physical therapist, courtesy of Home Health. I have oxygen in just about every room. I have an oxygen cannula in my nose. Of course it could have happened to anyone...but it happened to me.  Now I have to move on with my life. And I'm feeling stronger every day. I have to use a walker now, but that will soon change.  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

There has been time enough

We have given him all of the time needed. He has wasted it. He wasted it with rallies designed to stroke his ego. He wasted it going after imaginary enemies and making new ones. The list could go on and on as he never works hard at anything. Pushing bills, mending fences; that's for underlings to do. And everyone is an underling. If you aren't sure of that, he will be glad to inform you. "I'm the President. You're not!" is a declaration that rolls easily off of his tongue.

I recently read a column where he was compared to Caligula. Strangely, history tells us that the comparison fits, And it was said that Caligula was mad, insane. Trump is not insane but he is mentally ill. Maybe it's dementia caused by aging. I'm not a professional and I haven't slept in a Holiday Inn lately, but he is sick. And that makes me wonder about the 'Annual Presidential Physical'. Is there any law, rule or regulation that makes it mandatory for the President to check in at a government hospital and undergo an annual physical exam? An exam by that unseen doctor of Trump's choosing, the one he used at the beginning of the campaign, should not be acceptable. The fact that this 'MD' spoke using the same vocabulary as Trump would make him suspect.

And then there is this Nazi business. You have to be of a certain age to remember them with the horror, hatred and contempt they deserve. And there are fewer of us to remember them every year that passes. That is dangerous. Then, to see the 'leader' of our country fail to use the power of his office to condemn them and the 'White Supremacists' tells me where his real interests lie. To top it off, he pardons the racist "Sheriff Joe" before he is even sentenced. Doing that tells the criminals of the Alt-Right that they have nothing to fear from the courts.

On and on it goes. Every day brings new controversy, new scandal. Will he ever do a day's work? For the people?

Friday, July 21, 2017

We're rich!

The strangest thing has happened; the Neilsen Company has decided to make us members of their survey team for television. Some months ago we received a letter from them asking us to tell them all about the radio stations we listened to. They included $5 to thank us for our cooperation. We responded with the fact that we didn't listen to radio. They thanked us for the information and gave us another $5. Then we received a letter with  $4 dollars in crisp $1 dollar bills and a request for us to join the TV survey. As long as money was coming in, we were more than happy to do it. They thanked us and gave us both $5. Today we received our 'diaries' to fill out daily, detailing what shows we watch. To be clear; we had informed Neilsen that we only watched streaming video and no video 'shows'. That didn't deter them. This letter came with $9 in crisp cash. Why $9??? I have no idea. I will have to go through all of the paperwork that came with the diaries and maybe I can find out the answer to that question and more. In the meantime, we seem to have a second income. It won't make us rich but we will never have to worry about overdue library books again.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

What's on tonight?

As I stated once before, we have cut the cable and disabled the satellite feed. We're streaming only...that and an antenna in the attic for the local channels. I don't remember when we did it but it was close to 6 months ago. And life has been great without the 'box'.

I may have already given you a list of the shows we watch, but as I am almost 77, I must be forgiven for any memory lapses. So, here are a few of the shows that we currently have in our little black book and in no specific order.
#1 'Offspring' on Netflix is the story of a OBS/GYN doctor, Nina, and her amazingly fragmented family; the Proudman's. This is an Australian show and if you can't handle an accent, this is not the show for you. Your loss. In fact, almost all of the shows we watch are foreign.
#2 'The Brokenwood Mysteries' Amazon. is a detective/mystery/comedy show from New Zealand. We are anxiously awaiting season 4. It's quirky and quite often the mystery is solved long before the end of the show.
#3 'Inspector George Gently' Amazon. Is an older (2007) British police mystery show that takes place in the gritty parts of Newcastle. Always enjoyable. Oddly, I am put off by all of the smoking. I can't even smell the smoke and it bothers me!
#4 'Inspector Lewis' Amazon. Is a police/mystery thriller taking place in Oxford. The scenery at the various colleges and Oxford itself are beautiful. The acting is great and the murders are always understated. The show is a spin-off from Inspector Morse, which was also a great show.
#5 'Winter' Amazon. Is a one season detective thriller and I really wanted to see a few more seasons. This one is also from Australia; Sydney to be exact and it's great scenery as well. There are more seasons but Amazon isn't buying them yet.
#6 'Bosch' Amazon. This is Season 3 of a great police/crime/drama. I really hope this goes on to seasons 4, 5, 6 and more. Like too many American shows, the violence is explicit. The acting and the writing help to counter that.
#7 Grace and Frankie. Netflix
#8 Happy Valley. Netflix
#9 Doc Martin Amazon
#10 Happy Valley. Netflix
#11 Father Brown. Netflix
#12 Crossing Lines Netflix
#13 Miss Fisher. Netflix
#14 The Heart Guy Amazon
#15 Delicious Amazon
#16 Pie in the Sky Amazon
#17 Lark Rise to Candleford Amazon
#18 Lillies Netflix
#19 Murdoch Amazon
#20 Agatha Christie Amazon

A lot of those that are on Amazon are actually on Acorn/Amazon. We subscribe to Acorn TV for all of the British/Australian/New Zealand/Canadian show they carry. Worth every penny. Between Amazon, Netflix and now, Acorn, we have more than enough to entertain us of an evening.

It's hot outside

And, until last night, it was hot inside. Our AC went out last Friday afternoon (why does this always happen on weekends?) and although I reported it to American Home Shield, our home warranty insurer, I knew we wouldn't see a repairman till Monday. Then we received an email from AHS that told us they were sending a repairman from a company located over a 100 miles away and they had 3 working days to respond to our needs. What? The temps have all been in the 100's and Saturday was 107. We started calling and found that AHS didn't take calls past 7 and never on weekends. I went to their Facebook page and tried venting there. That gained me a promise that someone would call. A promise quickly broken. What to do?

We do have a whole house fan but we don't like to use it as it pulls every allergen and irritant into the house along with the cooler night or morning air. We had to use it. I would watch out indoor temp and outside temp carefully and as soon as they were equal and the outside temp was falling, I would start the fan and keep it running all night. In the morning I would watch the two temps closely and then when the outside temp began to rise from its overnight low,  I would close the windows and shut off the fan. Then we would begin calling AHS. Finally, on Tuesday we got lucky. The initial repairman decided that the job was not worth their time and bailed. A phone call to AHS finally found a receptive agent and she arranged for a local contractor to call. He arrived Tuesday PM and after an hour or so in the hot attic, he found the problem; a fried circuit board. He called and tried to get a validation from AHS and find a local source for the board. He finally made all of the connections but he wouldn't be able to get the board and install it until Wednesday. He was back on Wednesday afternoon and after some more time in the hot attic he had the board installed only to find that the original board had failed because the fan motor had failed. More phone calls to AHS for authorization and then a trip to a supplier. He was back about 6:30 and began the repair. It was close to 8 when we felt the first chill breeze from the vents. We couldn't thank him enough. The temps are supposed to be way over 100 again this weekend and we had been dreading it.

What a wonderful sleep I had. Temp inside was 79 and I had a light cover on. What a life!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It's all fake news...

It is another busy week in The District of Trump. Of course most of the furor is caused by the rolling train wreck of the Trump family. I survive by attaching no importance to most of it. I trust the Special Prosecutor to do his job and when he is done I will have something concrete to look at. In the meantime it is all political theater.

The giant iceberg is certainly not fake news and it's more interesting than what comes from the lips of Trump...any Trump. The Larsen Ice Shelf, now a berg, is 1,150 feet thick or so they think. I wonder where it will go? Most bergs move by action  of wind and current. I have a feeling that this one will move very slowly and most ships will not be surprised when it appears. They will have seen it coming for days. No Titanic disasters with this one.

Our landscape was 'landscaped' during the past few months and we're really happy with it. It is actually xeriscaped with mostly all California natives and they are fantastically colorful. At the same time this was going on, the weather changed and we began experiencing some brutal heat. A number of plants hadn't been established long enough to survive. I would check the garden one day and then come out the next to see damaged plants where perfect plants were growing 12 hours previously. I raised the watering times by 50% and then watered twice a day to halt the damage. Plants will survive this heat with some care. I know that next year at this time the damage will be forgotten and we will be enjoying the color.  

I think we're going to have to become accustomed to this weather or move. The heat is here to stay. I was checking the long range forecast and it's not till November begins that we will see any relief. I saw no rain...but, it's a long range forecast.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Life goes on

It's been awhile since I last posted here and I have some of the usual excuses, pain and more pain.In fact I am sitting at home because of those excuses. But, I do have another reason for not sitting down to write. You may remember that our youngest granddaughter, now 14, was struck (overnight) with Acute Flaccid Myelitis at age 13 and is now unable to walk and has to use a wheelchair for her transportation. I would have been depressed if it happened to me, but she has been optimistic about it; certain she will walk again. It hasn't been a year since that day; her paraplegia happened at the end of October and her optimism has been showing signs of strain.

Then a miracle happened. Someone at the Shriner's Hospital in Sacramento recommended her for a scholarship for the summer camp that AbilityFirstSports.Org puts on. And it was being held on the campus of UC Chico. That's about 4 miles from our house and the house was the perfect place for our son and his girlfriend to stay while our granddaughter was at camp. (Facebook link)
Our granddaughter wasn't certain that she wanted to go to camp. During the past 9 months she has gradually become less adventuresome, but she was convinced by her father that it would be worth the risk. He promised that they would stay close by and would always be available. So off she went. And as her father was leaving, one of the coaches approached him and said "Don't be surprised if we hand you a bag of wheelchair parts when she leaves" It seems that the campers quickly turn their staid chairs into sports models. Campers who are returning for their second or third summer show the new campers how to strip the chairs and make them 'race ready'.

Our granddaughter did not make the expected phone calls on the first day. And then again on the second; no calls. My son went to investigate and found a happy camper in his daughter. She wa having so much fun she had forgotten to call. The camp counselor told my son that all was well and she was the kind of camper that they love to see; unafraid to try anything. And they did everything. swimming, tennis, basketball, skate park, water skiing, even rugby. Also, they only stopped to eat and then they were back at it until 10 at night. There were 31 campers and they were all different, different backgrounds, different colors, different talents, etc. Then we saw our granddaughter being interviewed by one of the local TV stations as the spokesperson for the organization and its program. Amazing! And she was now doing things that she once required assistance for. She fell over once while racing and got her chair back up and herself into it in record time and with no assistance. Parents are asked to stay away during that week while the coaches are building up their self confidence. And it works.

She was returned to her father this afternoon and we were able to see her for awhile before they left for the 2 hour trip home. She was a different girl. She was positive and mature. And ready for next years camping trip. And we're going to make sure she gets to go!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why, oh why...

This administration drives me crazy.  I was reading an article describing the methodology used in parts of Trump's budget. Mick Mulvaney has this to say... “We need people to go to work,” Mr. Mulvaney said this week. “If you’re on food stamps, and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work. We need everybody pulling in the same direction.” At the same time that Mick is setting forth this 'common sense' ruling, he is proposing to cut job training, food stamps, child care, health benefits and more. He says that these moves will force people to get jobs and become part of a growing economy. This comes from a man that has never 'worked' a day in his life. He's never had to use his hands and his back to make wages that will, hopefully, feed his family and pay the bills.

This strategy was used in the 90's and it seemed to work... in a massively different economy. And when the economy went south, so did those jobs. It's odd, but the Republicans have been spouting this nonsense for years. And further back, when they weren't called Republicans, but were called Conservatives, they have been saying this for hundreds of years.

Homeless? How do you rent an apartment without first and last plus a cleaning deposit. How do you get a job without an address (and clean clothes). Can't get a job because of your prison record? The record you got for smoking dope ten years ago? Can't get a job because you can't meet the requirements? And they just closed the re-training center. You don't have a chance! Prepare to be hungry...and cold. Or, maybe you could call Mick and ask if he needs any help?. Any help at all?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

When?

In a normal? Presidency, it takes 4 years to create a diary, of a reasonable length, telling of the highs and lows of that Presidency. We're into the 5th month of this Presidency and already that diary is in need of more paper to record the high crimes and crimes of omission committed by Trump. Those are the lows and there are no highs to record. I said, not too long ago, that Trump is mentally ill and I stand by that today. He is a psychopath. In all the days since his disastrous inauguration, he has done nothing positive. If he did, it wasn't an hour, a day or a week later that he negated it by doing something vile and negative to counteract it. Of course he surrounds himself with simpering sycophants to whisper encouragements in his ears and anyone that even hints that they might tell the truth is dealt with swiftly. "You're Fired!" was heard quite often when Trump was the star of his own reality TV show. Does he even know that he is no longer on television?

It's time for a Special Prosecutor. It's time for Trump to hear the words 'You're Fired!' and it needs to happen soon.

Monday, May 8, 2017

There is a light


Vive la France! Vive l’Europe! 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Hooray for us!

We're doing more for the economy than Trump even thought of doing. We have a landscaping company busy at work, front yard and back. The lawn has disappeared, as it should. It has been replaced by a curving pathway through flowering native plants and groundcovers. All irrigated by drip and mist. In front we have a short dry rock wall around the area that was once lawn. The rock has come from volcanic rock deposits not far from the Lava Beds National Monument. This is where Captain Jack, or Kintpuash, leader of the Modoc tribe held off the US Army for a year. It's a fascinating story.

The back yard is almost complete now and the crew of two is completing the tedious work of fitting the various sized rocks into place. Lots of hammering is involved.

I also have a fascination with all things volcanic. I think it started in elementary school in Manhattan Beach where we studied the story of the volcano that grew in a cornfield in Mexico.  Parícutin was it's name and it was a recent news event. The volcano made itself known in 1943 and I was in the 3rd grade just 5 years later.

Can you imagine a volcano poking out of the ground in your backyard? And it could have happened in my backyard; not probable but certainly possible as California is located on the Ring of Fire. The Ring is best described here "Geologic features along the Ring of Fire include not only volcanoes, but ocean trenches, mountain trenches, hydrothermal vents, and sites of earthquake activity." In my young mind, I knew it was possible and I would daydream about it happening in our backyard. I would never have to mow the lawn again!

I already have one souvenir of volcanos in my front yard. About ten years ago I saw a large chunk of basalt for sale at a yard sale and I just had to have it. It sat in the backyard of that house and then I moved it with us to this house. Why was I fascinated by this 100 pound hunk of rock? Growing up, our family would make a yearly trek up US 395 to vacation at Lake Tahoe. Driving that highway would let you see a portion of the Devil's Postpile National Monument and I thought it was a fascinating place, though Dad never stopped for us to tour it. Dad's are often like that.

I should post this and then  go and see how they are progressing.

Same old same old

I just  read in the WaPo that the House narrowly voted to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. I hope that the Trumpster understands that the replacement will be known as Trump Care. He's already made noises about his not liking that name. I'm sure he would rather it be called Ryan Care. So Trump Care it must and will be.

I was reading in the Economist that Steve Mnuchin is saying that the anticipated rise in productivity amongst the plebeian, due to a tax cut for the wealthier among us, will fund that tax cut and in fact the deficit will shrink because of all of the money that will pour in. I know I've heard it before...but I'm old, and a lot of citizens haven't heard it and to them it sounds magical! It is, in a way, because it was called Voodoo Economics way back then. Now Steve Mnuchin isn't all that old either, but he knows the term well and he knows that what he said was a lie. If he doesn't know that, he really should have flunked Economics 101.

This plan of his might work if world affairs didn't affect us. But they do. We are not immune to being influenced by events half the world away. This is not the beginning of the 20th century when the United States was able to produce just about everything it needed.

There are dozens of countries around the world that hitched their economies to oil and they are now seeing rioting in the streets because their economy collapsed. Who knew that was coming? We survived the oil disaster but where is the next disaster coming from? There will be one. Are we exposed? Shouldn't we be preparing for it by reducing the deficit right now, letting tax money roll in and not a pie in the sky growth in  productivity.    

Once again, I remember

It's just another 'normal' day around here. Go to the doctor and then wait for the other doctors to call and make appointments for me. During this time I sit and read the newspapers, including the 'failing' New York Times. The 'failing' New York Times has had its readership number explode in the days following the most expensive Inauguration in history.

Ah! A doctor has called and I have an appointment next week, just a few hours ahead of another doctors appointment. Just a typical day among the elders of this country; elders that can't possibly need all of this medical care.

I did have a small victory this morning as I left the family doctor's office with a large paper bag filled with samples of some of the drugs I need. Taking something from the pharmaceutical companies without paying is always a victory.

I was going to write about remembrances and I better get to it before I forget. As I read the news of today I can't help but to remember the 60's and 70's of the last century. In 1962 I had been discharged from active duty in the Navy and then had found some jobs that didn't pay much and had no future, but since Mom wasn't charging me a whole lot for room and board; just $20, I could get by. Then good fortune came my way and a neighbor, who I didn't know, asked me if I wanted to become an apprentice in the Carpenter's Union. If I did, he had a job and a career for me. It was going to cost me $50 to join the union and initially I would be making double the  dollars per hour that I currently 'enjoyed'. And that would change every six months, with a 10% raise if I didn't quit.

I bit at the thought of raises every six months and I became an apprentice. This changed my life completely. I had no idea as to why I was asked to do this by a complete stranger. Sure, I knew his daughter and since we worked for the same company, I told her one time that I thought the job I had was boring. Also, I  was in very good shape, I was six two and 180 pounds. That might have been the reason for the offer. Or, it may have been pure luck or it was a genuine blessing from God. Whatever.

After a week or two, I figured that the man who had hired me must have been looking for someone that appeared to be strong enough for the job, as this turned out to be the toughest job I had ever known and the money I was making was barely adequate for the labor involved. I was in the Carpenter's Union but I was an apprentice drywall installer and steel stud framer.

Many years have gone by since I made that fortunate decision and now I am enjoying the "fruits of my labor" and they aren't all good. My first spinal surgery was nine years ago; a fusion of the lower four vertebrae to correct the damage that lifting thousands of sheets of drywall inflicted on them. Then three more surgeries during those nine years. My neurosurgeon warned me, nine years ago, that the first surgery would not 'cure' me and that I could only expect pain, light to heavy, for the rest of my life. Irreparable damage had been done and he could do very little to help me, but he promised to help all that he could. And he has. Now the damage done to my cervical vertebrae has made its presence known with Level 8 pain in my shoulder every morning. This damage was almost certainly caused by all the times I installed (hung) drywall on ceilings (lids). You and your partner would roll the sheet of drywall from where it rested against your shoulders and up to your head. Then you would use your head to press the sheet against the ceiling framing and then begin nailing it or screwing it in place. I had a bald spot (not permanent) from a season of doing lids. And I had  shoulder pains that always went away when I stopped this harmful practice. Unfortunately, I did this kind of work for close to thirty years before I moved into office work where there was less chance of injury.

After seeing my MRI, my surgeon, a friend now, just shook his head and said "your back is just a mess!". Then he said, "This should be fairly easy to fix" and he took us into his office where he has the BIG monitor and gave us most of the details of his plan of attack. I will end up with 4 cervical vertebrae fused and all the nerve pathways will be widened and spurs removed. The pain will not end immediately as the nerves have suffered a major insult and may take a while to get over it. I will still have a pain in my lower spine and adjacent hip but he said he won't do any more surgery on my back. The amount of scar tissue there makes even a simple surgery a major risk because of the chance of severing a nerve accidentally. During my last back surgery he spent over four hours behind a microscope as he cut very slowly towards his target.

Now for the part of the story that I really enjoy. After showing us the MRI and giving us his plan, he sat back and we began to talk. We talked about the situation in the Middle East. We discussed the refugee problem. We talked about Jimmy Carter leaving the Southern Baptists. We talked about his childhood, growing up in rural Georgia and going to church with his grandmother and trying to figure out why there were two Southern Baptist churches in his town, less than a mile apart. We talked about Netanyahu. We talked about politics in Africa. We talked for close to half an hour before  he said, "I guess I had better let you go" and then we all stood and said our goodbyes.  This is the second time he's done this. He is one of the top rated neurosurgeons in Northern California. He was a teaching doctor at UCD Med school before moving his family away from the too busy life in Sacramento and yet, he is more than willing, almost eager, to have a normal conversation with two people. For myself, I am not a bit nervous when I know that it is my friend that is going to be doing the cutting, just millimeters away away from my carotid artery and my spinal cord.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Some tweets

It's really embarrassing. Trump Tweets constantly. Twitter, of course, is happy about this as it  keeps the company alive. People who would never dream of composing a Tweet are signed up just for the opportunity to see his Tweets first hand.

I'm a long time Twitter user though I can say that I have never Tweeted as much as I do now. I know that Trump never sees my Tweets but I love to send them because it relieves tension...for me. Of course I have a dream that one day one of his aides will slip up and my Tweet will end up in the pile of positive Tweets that he is allowed to see. Unfortunately, that aide will be fired.

The reason for my embarrassment is this; those Tweets are seen by millions of people, potentially and quite plausibly, billions will read them. And his gaffes are the cause of much hilarity the world over. The USA looks foolish and that makes me embarrassed. Sad.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What are we going to do?...

...That's my thought quite often these days. Especially when I consider that we have 4 years of his presidency to live through. What will my world look like in 2020?

The power of the independent voter continues to grow, but will it be enough to make a difference in 2020? I can't imagine coming back to the Democratic Party; I left them some years ago because I thought they had abandoned liberalism by a constant shifting to the center. To be effective, they have to be the 'Opposition' party. The Republicans have been proving that for the last 8 years.

Consider Bernie Sanders. I had mixed feelings about him and still do. I'm an independent liberal that leans very much towards socialism. And if we had a real socialist party I would have been all with their candidate. I also think Bernie would have dropped his Democrat label long ago and have been a strong contender for the socialist party candidate. In a dream world, there would be a third party and it would be a socialist party. I think the socialists would be strong, and as the Democrats slowly make their way into obsolescence, the socialists would gather up even more strength. That's when I cast my dream vote for Bernie.

In 2020, Bernie will be too old to be President. So will Trump. Being president is a young man's game. Look at what it did too Obama. Since Trump declined to give us a valid health report, we really don't know if the behavior we are seeing in him is dementia or mania. I'm betting on both.

Speaking of 2020; I'm really irritated by Trump's campaign for a second term. He is blatantly ripping off the public by traveling in Air Force One to these rallies of his. As usual, the Trumpeters see nothing wrong with that but are very eager to see a cutoff of any budget money going to the arts. I know that the money he is wasting is just a tiny dot compared to other budget items, such as the bloated defence budget. But so is the money for the arts. Just a dot. I think he is cutting them off to make a statement to his base. He is telling them that he is no highbrow intellectual. He is one of them! And they don't listen to any classical music or podcasts about some science stuff.

For some reason I was just reminded of an incident at a local county supervisors meeting. It took place in 2008 when we lived in the county on the other side of river and I was a member of the Friends of the Library. The supervisors were being asked for more money for the local library budget. They needed to buy more books. A supervisor stated that he was pretty sure that everyone had enough books at home and they could always read those if they needed to read. The extra budget money was denied.

No thanks

I just got back from the doctor and now I'm convinced that growing old has no real benefits. Yes, you do see more beautiful sunsets. And there are the grandchildren. But they grow older and move on with their lives; marry and have great-grandchildren. And have less time for you. Most of the friends are gone as well. Your closest friend, next to your wife, is your doctor. I'm not being bitter, just realistic. There will be a sunset tonight and I'm counting on  a sunrise tomorrow.

I try to avoid joining organizations. When you join a club or group, the mantle of that organization falls upon your shoulder and you become known by it. Did they do something questionable in 1974? That becomes part of your own history and you may have to explain away your involvement. I find it simpler to just avoid joining. I do belong to a church and I have belonged to the ACLU for about 15 years. I have never been embarrassed by either one of them. Well, I'm a little disappointed in the church. We recently sought a new pastor and the search committee came up with a capable minister; a young man with a wife that is an MD and they haves 3 children. He fits the demographics of this very white community quite well. But I was hoping, I was praying for a black woman as our new pastor. Oh, well...maybe next time.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

After sundown

It's just after 8:30 and we just finished watching television. We'll watch one or two shows a night, chosen from Netflix or Amazon. We had spent a good part of the day looking at the news on the net. To be honest, a 'good part' was just a few hours. Tuesday is my day to spend time with friends at the Art Center, not waste time collecting old photos. Anyway, we were both somewhat incensed after reading the current news regarding our would-be president. I asked my wife if she would like to see a show that would take our minds off of that news. I picked another episode of Inspector Morse from Amazon. Yes, it worked out well and now we can go to sleep with our minds cleared of the angry thoughts that were dominating our brains.

We watched the show on a new service via Amazon, Acorn TV. Acorn specializes in British shows  and those are the ones that already had us as fans. Now we can see hundreds of them. I was not an early fan of Acorn though...Amazon was offering the shows and then when you decided to watch, the message would pop up that you needed Acorn to watch it. Idle curiosity led me to Acorn's website and I found that I could see all of the shows for $5 a month. I thought it was a bargain, especially since our TV bill is just $12 a month, plus a small portion of Amazon Prime membership, plus some portion of our high speed internet bill. I only know that it's a much lower bill than when we were using a satellite service for TV. It was up to $135, plus or minus.

Honest, I don't get anything from Acorn. I just happened to be somewhat relaxed after 90 minutes of Inspector Morse and thought I would share that

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Something from the Times

It's our 54th anniversary today and we have not surprised ourselves with a mutual gift of some new cookware for the two of us. We had agreed that we didn't enjoy cooking with some of the old pans; she didn't like to cook eggs with one of the pans we owned and I needed a skillet with tall sides and a fitting lid. So we shopped together and found what we wanted. Plus, we agreed to remove the old pans from our inventory.

3 or 4 times a week I use my Twitter account to see what our so-called leaders are saying. This gives me a chance to be snarky as I tweet to them. Truly, I hope to be downright insulting when I do it. Alas, I know that the intended recipient will never see my bitter words. I usually see that 2.5k tweeters have beat me to first place. I'm not worried about my behavior; I know for a fact that I can insult the so-called president as many times as I feel the need to.  And it is a need. I feel so much better after a tweeting session that includes trump, pence, ryan and mcconnell.    

I know that I have called our so so-called president a sociopath. A narcissist and worse. I'm wrong. I just found this letter to the editor of the NY Times, dated Feb 14th 2017. I do like his conclusions and must agree with him. This does not mean that I will stop tweeting. I tweet for my own mental health!

To the Editor:
Fevered media speculation about Donald Trump’s psychological motivations and psychiatric diagnosis has recently encouraged mental health professionals to disregard the usual ethical constraints against diagnosing public figures at a distance. They have sponsored several petitions and a Feb. 14 letter to The New York Times suggesting that Mr. Trump is incapable, on psychiatric grounds, of serving as president.
Most amateur diagnosticians have mislabeled President Trump with the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. I wrote the criteria that define this disorder, and Mr. Trump doesn’t meet them. He may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.
Mr. Trump causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy. It is a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr. Trump (who is neither).
Bad behavior is rarely a sign of mental illness, and the mentally ill behave badly only rarely. Psychiatric name-calling is a misguided way of countering Mr. Trump’s attack on democracy. He can, and should, be appropriately denounced for his ignorance, incompetence, impulsivity and pursuit of dictatorial powers.
His psychological motivations are too obvious to be interesting, and analyzing them will not halt his headlong power grab. The antidote to a dystopic Trumpean dark age is political, not psychological.
ALLEN FRANCES
Coronado, Calif.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Things are happening!

I think most people in the US of A now know where Oroville CA is. It's the town with the broken down dam and a lot of people evacuated. We are located about 20 miles north of Oroville and are not in the flood zone so we weren't impacted in any way, or so we thought. Then we found out that our Church, Bidwell Presbyterian, was one of the evacuation centers. Church members have are soliciting supplies for the families that will be, or are, sleeping in our Fellowship hall. I'm really pleased with this reaction on the part of the church. They have been practicing; The end of January ended our participation in providing overnight shelter for homeless and their pets.

I've read that the water is no longer going over the emergency spill. And I've seen the size and location of the hole that is so dangerously close to the emergency spillway. The plan, as I understand it, is to drop rocks into this hole via helicopters. They already have the rocks ready and bagged up for transit.and the engineers are on site, able to see all of the way down into the pit.

I just finished reading the second book I've read about the San Francisquito Canyon Dam that William Mulholland built. Floodpath by Jon Wilkman.  This author carefully details the anatomy of the collapse of that dam (1928) and the subsequent loss of lives. As I looked at the pictures of Oroville Dam, I couldn't help but remember the arrogant attitude of the engineers of that time and then after the collapse, the behavior of the Metropolitan Water District when it came time to pay damages. Now it looks like the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) figures in the damage of this dam. The state of California owns this dam and the water. MWD is one of the biggest customers, or "shareholders" of this dam and it's water. It's already come up that when it was suggested to armor the spillway and use concrete to channel the water safely away from it's base. MWD and the San Diego authorities convinced the FERC (Federal Energy Resources Commision) that the spillway met all of the prevailing standards (when it was built) and the expense was not warranted. This was the 2nd time that MWD has used its financial muscle to block this safety project.

There is more rain coming, starting late Wednesday night and continuing for 4 or more days and that means heavy stream flow into the lake. There are just two short days left to fix that hole.They are releasing as much water as they can out of the lake via the main spillway and it has its own problem; a large hole in the concrete channel, about a third of the way down the slope.

This drama is just in it's infancy and it will end in a courtroom or many courtrooms. Just as the story of the San Francisquito ended, years after the event.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Repeat or not?

One of the frustrating byproducts of aging is memory failure. Not all memories are lost as you age, just the memory that you are currently trying to recall. But, take hope, you will recall that memory just as soon as it is not needed.

And since I wish to tell a story on these pages, I now have a nagging suspicion that I have told it once before. But when? Did I really do it or am I just worried over nothing at all? I do know that I am at a point in my life where I need to preface all of my conversations with "Stop me if you have heard this before". In this case, stop reading if you have read this before...

I got out of the Navy in 1962. I still had my Naval Reserve duty to fulfill but that was one weekend a month. I was attached to a Naval electronics unit in Hawthorne California and since I was a Hospitalman 3rd Class Petty Officer, they really had no place for me. But, they had to take me; I would come in on a Saturday morning and check the men's files to see if there were any discrepancies in their medical records and then I was through until next month, where I would repeat this same exercise.

Back in the civilian world I was at a loss as to what I should do. I could go back to working at the Texaco station so that I could make a little money. I had tried to get into the brand new EMT program with the Los Angeles city fire department. I qualified without even testing because of my role as a Navy Hospital Corpsman. But, and there always is a 'but', I wore glasses. I couldn't join the fire department in any capacity unless I had better eyesight.  

So, what to do? I think I saw an ad in the paper for help wanted at Space Technology Laboratories, or STL. I knew that STL had built a large complex on the eastern border of Manhattan Beach and that made it close by for me. I went there and applied; finding that there was an opening as a warehouseman and it paid? I don't remember but I know it was more than I would make at the Texaco station. I was accepted and would start as soon as the FBI conducted a background check on me. What? I found out that STL did a lot of government work and most of it was SECRET. That meant that everyone that worked for STL had to have a SECRET clearance. Even the gardeners had to have a SECRET clearance.

After a few weeks had gone by I received a call and was told to report to a warehouse in Hawthorne. I was there bright and early the next day and received my assignment. I was going to work in the government bonded section of the warehouse and I would work with a federal QC inspector. The bonded area was a small section of the warehouse with an 8' high chain link fence around it. Inside was a small desk, for the QC inspector, and a couple of rows of 12' high shelving for pallets. On the pallets were large cardboard boxes with cryptic notes written on them.   My job was to retrieve the boxes as ordered and then help the inspector sort through the contents. All of the boxes contained surplus items and the inspector was to determine, one; that they contained what they were supposed to contain, and two; what was the value and disposition of those items in the boxes.

The inspector was a nice guy with very low stress work habits. I arrived every day promptly at 8 and then I would wait until 9 or so before he made his appearance; carrying a cup of coffee and a ream of IBM printer printouts. He wore sandals most day and would stroll through the warehouse, saying hello to all before opening the gate to our little "kingdom". I would retrieve our electric forklift and stand ready to pull down the box he wanted. But first he would ask me to look at the print out and see which one I thought might be the easiest for us to begin with. I would suggest and he would agree. Then I would find the box and bring it over close to his desk. Then we would open it.

Each item in the box had a metal tag affixed to it and the tag had source and contract numbers on it. He would look up the numbers on his sheets of paper and then we would verify that, indeed, we were looking at the item described and then he would determine it's fate. If it was useable (rarely) we would return it to the box. Usually it would be termed 'surplus' and put aside. Most of the things we were looking at were experimental electronics and neither one of us knew anything about them. He was just guessing most of the time. I did learn to recognize waveguides and stepper motors  and half a dozen other items. He soon depended on me to tell him what an item was and what we should do with it

Since the inspector was so relaxed, he would take an hour and a half for lunch and then knock off at 3.  I would spend the next 90 minutes working out in the real warehouse and doing real work. What a relief!

After four months of this I was ready to quit, but I was rescued by a neighbor who had heard about my being ready to quit and he directed me into the career that I loved and that I retired from...43 years later.

a footnote...STL was soon acquired by Thompson-Ramo-Woodridge  or TRW.

Friday, February 3, 2017

I feel like I am repeating myself

The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings.


I can't remember when I first discovered the wonderful words of Lewis Carroll. In my mind I can see that book; I can see the illustrations. But how old was I? Who gave me the book and why don't I have it still? I'm pretty sure it was my Nana, my grandmother that gave it to me. Since I couldn't read until I was in the third grade, I must have been 8 or 9 years old when I received the book. 


In the last few months of the third grade a switch was turned on in my brain and suddenly I could read. And I read everything! I read our Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Zymurgy. And then read them again. I read the dictionary from front to back. When we went for a drive I would read every sign that I saw; out loud and driving my family crazy. My mother had the collected works of Rudyard Kipling and I read those...I was desperate! 


The oddest things come into my mind these days. I could see that third grade classroom as clear as day. And the teacher who had been trying so hard to help me. Enough of that...this morning I was reading an article about the reversal of global trade and what it means. No, it was not caused by the blatherings of Trump. It has been happening over the past four years or more as the need for it has begun to shrink. And profits declined. China was once the source of cheap labor and the giant container ships sailed back and forth between the USA and China. But China has a middle class now and labor costs are rising. These days, China doesn't need all the things we sell and the prices for what we buy from them have risen. It's happening in Vietnam and in India. With trade shrinking, the multinational corporations are looking at coming 'home'.

But, the multinationals have stacks of cash located offshore and don't want to bring that home with them to be taxed at what Trump calls an outrageous amount. I suppose it (35%) might be properly called outrageous if that is what they actually paid. But corporations pay only 15% to 20% because of the loopholes in the tax laws. This is the Effective tax rate. Trump wants to cut the corporate tax to 15% and eliminate the loopholes...so what's the incentive there? It makes for a great speech for the base to hear, but that's all it is; words.

And there's more. Here, from the Economist: ...if American multinationals shifted a quarter of their foreign jobs home, at American wage rates, and paid the same tax rate abroad as they did at home, their profits would fall by another 12%. This excludes the cost of building the new plants in America.

The dynamics of world trade are not as easily managed as selling real estate. I think Trump has some lessons to learn, but when has he ever wanted to learn anything? He's already the world's smartest guy.

After all of these years of cheap goods, I can't see Americans being calm when they see the price for t-shirts going up to $10 when they used to buy a 3-pack for $12. Will American labor remain calm when they are asked to take a cut in pay so that the company can become competitive? When labor balks at the cuts, the company begins investing in robotics. These are definitely interesting times.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Pants on fire!

The Presidential lies continue unabated. Luckily, there are more and more people willing to call them lies and not some euphemism that disguises the fact that the President is not just misinformed, but is in fact, a liar. A pathological liar. A sociopath. When you can, read Charles Blow in the NYT. He is a leader in calling Trump a liar.

I don't see any statistics,  but I have a feeling that more and more of the Trump supporters are quietly slipping away. I haven't heard Trump talking bout how popular he is, lately. He used to mention that on a regular basis. Bannon, the sinister half of Trump's brain, may have told him to keep it quiet. After this weekend's immigration debacle, it's obvious that Trump is losing even more ground in the popularity polls.

Every once in awhile I have a daydream where Edward R. Murrow, Huntley and Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, and John Chancellor are alive and well. Trump doesn't exist politically; he had interviews with these five during the campaign and folded early on.

  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

It's going to be a long 4 years...

unless the fool is run out of office before then. I'm sure that the fool is making a lot of congressmen nervous. They have to support him...for now. But what happens when all of his promises fail? He was going to cut the deficit, which had been falling over the past 7 years, but his tax cuts and infrastructure spending are projected to raise it dramatically. I already know that any broken promise will be blamed on the Democrats and I hope some of them are.

His behavior in the past week has been erratic to say the least. That's why I question his mental health. Today he seems to be focused on proving the 3 million votes that beat him in the popular contest were cast by 'illegal' or even dead voters.  He can't find any data to support his claim so I have a feeling that he is about to manufacture some data to validate his claim.

He needs to be adored, much like Dear Leader, and he has even stooped to bringing in his own cheering section when needed. That happened at the speech he gave in the CIA headquarters. He was given a standing ovation. Some of that was because no one was given a chair to sit in. And then were the paid 'clappers'....

Yes, it is going to be a long time before sanity is restored.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Music to my ears

Today was the day to visit the doctor. In actuality, he is a PA-C and far better than most physicians I've met. He is thorough. Anyway, my lab work came back and all is well, cholesterol included. But I did have a few other complaints; sore shoulder, COPD and MES.

COPD is an old one and I had kept it at bay by exercise. I have a pulse oximeter of my own and had always kept the oxygen levels at 98. That's good and then some. But today I was down to 94 and he was worried. He has a plan now and we will be followed up in two weeks to see how the plan is working. And I go back to the gym on Monday and that will help.

Now for MES. That stands for Musical Ear Syndrome and the symptoms are music that is heard when there is no music being played. It's also known as Auditory Hallucinations. With my description of it I had a chance to get him smiling and even laughing. He had never heard of it and I explained that the knowledge was just a Google search away from him. I love being able to educate the doctor. After we talked some more he prescribed something to remove ear wax and then the follow up.

But what about my ear music? Mine is usually a tenor, a good one, and he is singing from an aria. But the volume is so low that no matter how much I strain to hear a single word, a vocal clue, I cannot. He is singing right now as I type. And he sings the same refrain over and over for a long time. But then it will change while I am not paying attention. Yesterday, I was certain that he was singing the Star Spangled Banner...that was the melody. Again, I heard no actual words. Yesterdays volume was higher than today's but that means nothing. It varies in volume as well as content.

This past Wednesday I graduated from the physical therapy for my fractured pelvis. All is good. But now I will have to return to the PT people and their tender mercies as they work on my shoulder.

This getting old is really the pits! It's nothing like I imagined. For one, I had no idea I would have to learn so many acronyms! This little post has 4 of them...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Press conference

If you haven't had a chance to see and hear the president-elect at his first press conference, you are missing an amazing performance. Google it and read the transcript, and if you are up to it, watch trump in action.

I said it was amazing and I was amazed. That the man who will sit in the Oval Office has the vocabulary and speaking skills of a third grader. Yes, even his social skills are those of a third grader. (Sorry, third graders everywhere) It was embarrassing to watch. How do the reporters keep a straight face? How does his staff and Cabinet keep a straight face? I am assuming that all of the aforementioned have IQ's hovering around 100 or better. Probably better. Yet, their faces were frozen.

I know for a fact that my sentence structuring is less than perfect. My grammar always needs polishing. Yet, I look like Einstein compared to that buffoon. I know that Ms Conway has told us that we need to see what's in his heart and pay no attention to his words. No matter how many times he changes those words, we are still supposed to be looking at his heart. But, I can't see his heart. His words represent him. Sorry, Kellyanne; you work for a cretin and I think that even you know that is a fact.

People; those who love and admire trump, say that he must be very intelligent because of the vast wealth he has acquired. They ignore the fact that no one knows how much money, or debt, he has because he won't reveal his tax returns. Considering his history, he is probably heavily in debt. His father always came to his financial rescue in the past but his dad is no longer around to finance his profligate son.  

It doesn't take a lot of intelligence to be the son, or daughter, of a wealthy man.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It's been awhile...

...since I last voiced an opinion here. Or told a story. What have I been doing? Mostly boring things. I go to physical therapy twice a week to clear up any lasting injury from my fractured pelvis. I hope to make today's visit the last one. The pain persists but I am now of the opinion that it will never cease. It's been with me, in varying degrees, since January of 2008. I'm waiting to see what kind of marijuana products will show up here now that California has joined the ranks of states with a liberal attitude towards cannabis. Perhaps there will be a strain of grass that will ease the pain and make life a little more enjoyable.

My pain is nothing when compared to that of my youngest granddaughter. I have written about her many times in the past few months; to recap, she has Acute Flaccid Myelitis and is paralyzed from the 'bellybutton' down. At the end of November, there were 108 cases of that disease, in 33 states. Still no cure and still no idea as to what causes it. She has made it back to school, in her wheelchair, and next fall she will enter high school.

I guessed correctly as to the cure for my network problems and my new, reconditioned. router is doing a great job.

Speaking of marijuana, that brings up the topic of Trump's cabinet and especially Jeff Sessions, his choice for Attorney General. This man, who pretends to be a righteous Christian, will be the one that wants to end the marijuana business and put all the buyers and sellers into prison. That's what they do where he comes from! He will have a hard time justifying the cost of all the thousands of FBI agents that will need to be hired to do this policing. Where marijuana is legal, the police in those states cannot arrest or hold anyone for the FBI. They will be on their own.  

Trump, this infantile ass, continues to amaze me. When the republican clown car was making its rounds earlier in the year, they should have opened the door and kicked him to the curb...in a concerted effort. but when do republicans work well together?

Then there's Trump and his crusade to save the American worker. Ford was in a bind with a plan to build the Focus in Mexico. The cheap gas had shut down the market for small cars. So they look like heroes by abandoning the Focus in Mexico plan and then told everyone (again!) about their plan to hire some 700 workers to develop electric vehicles in their Flat Rock facility. This was the same plan they had announced in 2015. But who was listening at the time? Now Trump has warned GM about their plan to build the Cruze in Mexico and GM doesn't have an ace up their sleeve as Ford did, so they are nervous. New jobs for American workers? Nope, it's all smoke and mirrors. And it spurs on the development of robotics and AI. That is going to lose American jobs faster than any plant in Mexico will ever do.





Monday, December 19, 2016

Straight out of the Bible

The Bible aside, for now,  I'm working here with my phone as a hotspot for the laptop. It's sort of a shaky deal and I really miss my internet connection via cable. I'm guessing that the problem is a router and so I'm waiting for Amazon to bring me one. Will that fix it? I have no idea. Luckily, I found a very nice $90 router in the Amazon Warehouse for under $30.

Back to the Bible. We were in church yesterday and our associate pastor gave us a sermon that couldn't be beat. He outlined all of the ways that Trump and Evil King Herod were one and the same. And he did all of this without ever saying the t-word. We were all smiling. Of course church is the best place to avoid Trumpeteers; you can't be a christian and support him.

The last few weeks has made it clearer than ever that I cannot give Trump a chance to show us how he may change once he is in office. He won't change; for the better.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Time Marches On

"Time Marches On". Where did that come from? Was it a newsreel I saw at the theater?

Well, time does march on and my granddaughter, the one with with Acute Flaccid Myelitis, is out of the hospital and home. Factoid; there have been 108 cases of AFM in the US, through November, and in 33 states. No one knows much about it. No cures. How did she contact the disease? No one knows. Why not her twin brother as well? No one knows. The number, 108, is more than in the year 2015 but not as many as in the year 2014. Why? How much research is being done? Well, with only 108 cases out of a population of 312M plus, you can imagine how many dollars are allocated for research into AFM.

Right in the middle of writing this post I decided to see if there was any research being done, so I Googled it and ran across transverse myelitis and it seems that AFM is a variant of transverse myelitis and they have a webpage! I sent this info onto my son...

I am glad I read the information they had as I read that the prognosis is a crap shoot. Instead of being condemned to sit in that chair, about a 1/3 recover completely. 1/3 are left with some disability while 1/3 are not going to recover. This is so much better than the bleak outlook I had. It is still correct to say that they have no cure; what they do have is therapy that is effective for some...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

It's Thanksgiving Day...

...and I should have a Thanksgiving story to tell; and I do. It's about our granddaughter that was struck by Acute Flaccid Myelitis and is now paralyzed from the umbilicus down. Or more easily, from the 'belly button' down. A lot has happened since she made that long ambulance ride from a small mountain town in a remote part of the north state. She was in UC Davis Medical Center (Sacramento) for a long time; long enough to stabilize her and to begin her recovery. Not a recovery to normal life, but a recovery that allows her some mobility; a wheelchair to be exact. There is no cure for AFM at this time so the wheelchair will be her legs for a long time.

UCD Med Center was a fantastic place. They cared for her and she responded magnificently. She was always smiling and trying her very best for the trials of physical therapy and all of the painful lab testing; spinal taps and more. In some cases her paralysis was a blessing as she couldn't feel the pain. She had to have 18 days of injections of an anticoagulant that would be painful. I knew this because I had to have 4 days of them when I broke my pelvis recently. They are given to you by pinching a fold of your skin over your stomach and injecting it right there. Lucky girl, she got to smile for those. But of course there were lots of painful things for her to endure. Still, she smiled and persevered. Her goal was always to come home.

About a week ago, UCD Med Center transferred her to Shriner's Hospital for Children. A fantastic hospital that has special programs just for children with spinal cord injuries. It was also 200 feet away from her bed at UCD. Once there, the physical therapy increased dramatically. Luckily, she is very strong from her years of soccer, volleyball and gymnastics. The PT didn't phase her. If you want to know about Shriner's in Sacramento, follow this link.

Yesterday she had an appointment with the wheelchair specialists to fit her with the best chair for her and her needs. It seems that her insurance only covers the most basic of chairs. The insurance company feels that going outside in a chair is a luxury for children. Well, Shriner's doesn't feel that way at all and will cover the cost of the best chair for her; one that goes outside! This was the main reason that UCD transferred her. Another is the care they give before she is allowed home. They will drive all of the way up to her home and do all the measuring of the house so that Dad knows what it will take to remodel for her. He had already started on a portion of it. I should say that their friends have begun the work; he has never left her side since the first day. Shriner's is also going to go to her school and with the help of the staff, they will talk to all of the students and staff about her condition. All of it. They said that there was no reason for her to endure the constant questioning that she would face when she arrived at school once more. If Abby wants to join the team  while they do this, that's fine too. It's all up to her. They are there to be her caretakers and protectors. And they are always available, even after she is home. I know where our year end charitable giving will go.        

I received a text from my son this morning and I want to share it...


Happy Thanksgiving. 🦃 we are taking a break for this Holiday. No PT, no OT, just time with family to reflect on all of our blessings. Thank you all for your support, and prayer. Abby is looking at getting home very soon. Still lots of work ahead, but because of her hard work and strength she has fast tracked her stay at Shriner's. 😊

Abby is enjoying her Thanksgiving with Dad, his fiance ((her most caring 'mom') and her twin brother who has missed her terribly.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

How very strange

Back in the late 1980's, maybe 1988, I was given a large set of plans. There were roll after roll of plan sheets, from structural steel to landscaping. Then there were the large books that contained the specifications for a new hospital to be built in Sacramento. There were half a dozen of those. All were for the Shriners Childrens Hospital. And I was going to construct a detailed bid from all of this. A winning bid, hopefully.

At this time I was an estimator for a large subcontracting firm and we were going to bid on the structural steel fireproofing, all of the plaster and synthetic plaster, all of the lath and structural framing for the lath & plaster. Then there was the interior where we were bidding on the structural steel framing for the drywall as well as the light gauge framing. We had to bid on all of the heavy gauge backing to be installed for the support of all medical equipment. We were bidding on all of the drywall. Of course we included the pricing for the taping and finishing of all the drywall. We had a separate bid to install all of the acoustical ceilings; the framing and the tile. There was a lot of work ahead of me.

So I laid out the plans in order on my plan table and shut the door to my office. I began by reading all of the spec books, highlighting all the important sections. After a few days I put the books aside and began to 'read' the plans. I created spreadsheets using the old Lotus 1,2,3 software. Then I .....

I know that I was in that office for a very long time. And I remember thinking that the Shriners were spending a lot of money on this hospital. More than I had ever seen before. Disclaimer: I had only bid on one hospital before this, a Kaiser 'cookie cutter' hospital that had been much smaller.

After many weeks it was time to bid. There was lots of tension in our office and especially in mine. This was going to be a big part of our volume for the next two years if we secured the job. As an estimator, I kept my job or I could lose it on a bid this big. Then we decided to cut our price substantially to increase the odds in our favor. We called in our price and then we waited.

It turned out that there were 3 bids, quite similar in price and scope and mine was among them. The owners, Shriners, and the architect wanted to interview all 3 of the firms to determine who would build the hospital. On the appointed day, 3 of us, my boss, the senior estimator and I, went to the meeting, armed with facts and figures and fancy pictures of similar sized projects that we had completed. It took us about an hour to answer all of the questions that Shriners had for us. We went back to the office to wait for a phone call. We didn't have to wait long; we received a call that afternoon with the news that we would be building the new Shriners Hospital in Sacramento. I took a deep breath;  I was now a hero and would be until the next big job came along.  But that would be a long time coming, as the estimator of a large project would normally be assigned the job of Project Manager. And on a job of this scale I would be the PM for close to 2 years.

But it was not to be. The branch manager and I were not the best of friends. And he had just received an opportunity to be rid of me without showing any signs of being vindictive. I was to be transferred to a department back in Kansas City, our headquarters. From the new job description they gave me; Strategic Development, I was intrigued, although I was sad to lose the opportunity to be part of the construction team on the hospital. I wouldn't have to move to Kansas City; I would be given an office in a building adjoining to the one I was currently in.

The years went by; the new job was wonderful, as was my new boss. The 'old boss' was let go after a few years and I felt vindicated. Then I retired in 2004. I should have let it go but I always felt a little sad that I hadn't been able to work on that hospital. It had been my last big job and I had been cheated out of something. Then this year comes along and then this month. My granddaughter now has a beautiful room in that very same hospital. She is being treated by the fantastic staff there. I couldn't have ever imagined something like this back in the day. My granddaughter hadn't been born. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense but today I feel a real attachment to the doctors and nurses that work there. They are working in a building that I had a small part in its construction. My granddaughter sleeps in a room that I once measured and counted.

When you work in the construction industry you soon learn that you are there to just build the buildings and then you move on. You may have had an emotional attachment to a building; I know I had plenty, but you learn to forget it and look forward to the next one to build. It's pretty rare that you have a chance to revisit a special one. Considering why I am revisiting this one, I would gladly give up all memories of all the work I have ever done. I would give up anything and everything to have my granddaughter asleep in her own room at home in Susanville. Dreaming of the basketball game she will be playing this afternoon.  

Here's a photo that my son took last night. This is the lobby, looking straight up to the skylights on the roof. There is a lot of sunlight coming down through those skylights during the day. You can see the curved glass railing on each floor.  It's a beautiful place and it's filled with happy people. Everyone smiles. No one is sad here. I think the Shriners spent their money wisely.















 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Our granddaughter

I last or first posted about our granddaughter on November 4th. A lot has happened since that date. On Tuesday evening she was moved by ambulance to Shriners Childrens Hospital in Sacramento. The trip took all of 90 seconds as the two hospitals are about 200' feet apart. I could go on and on about health care abuses and expenses, but, why bother? I'm not going to change it by myself.

Anyway, back to the important stuff; our granddaughter! No she is not cured and won't be in the foreseeable future. Life is what it is and she is ready to begin it as a young woman who happens to be a paraplegic. In October of this year she was a future gymnastics, soccer and volleyball star. Now? Different goals and she is busy working towards them. She is already very proficient in the use of her wheelchair; nothing slows her down! And she calls to encourage me as I recover from the pelvis fracture.

As I said, there is no cure, and much like polio, when the disease leaves, it leaves a crippled body behind,  In polio, some cases were able to regain a great deal of their strength. It takes lots of work and lots of physical therapy. I think she has a good chance of being one of the lucky ones.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Three Million?

I just read that Der Drumpf has decided to remove 3,000,000 undocumented workers. Well, it is 8 million shy of the undocumented that are supposed to be here. I suppose he had to start somewhere.

I decided to do some math, something I'm sure his team has already done. First, I estimated the cost of finding, holding and then deporting the 3 million. I estimated low but then I remembered it was government work and estimated higher. That number was astronomical so I came up with an estimate that was somewhere in the middle, $3,000 per head. That brings the total to $9 billion.

What I didn't figure in, and I'm sure the team didn't either, was the cost to business as sundry members of the manufacturing,  wholesale and retail businesses when some members of the workforce don't show up. The disappearance of these workers will open up job opportunities but I have a feeling that that they will go unfilled. Picking fruit and vegetables in the Southern San Joaquin valley is not for the faint of heart. Even the Drumpf Hotels may lose kitchen and cleaning workers. You only have to think of the nastiest job possible and that's where there will be a sudden rash of job openings.

I was an estimator for a construction company for about 12 years and I quickly learned that you double your price for government work. You won't make any money but you won't go bankrupt. I think it should apply here.

When?

I have been thinking about the election. (who doesn't?) And I wonder about the electorate that put this clown into the Oval Office. When will they realize that they have made a terrible mistake? Or, will they ever? If you look at the histories of the states that fell into the Trump camp, you will see that the majority of those states have been voting against their better interests for many years. And the majority of these states take more in federal aid money than they contribute. Yet they rail against the federal machine, as if it were the fault of that machine that they are poor and ignorant. Not surprising,  the majority of states that were Hillary's, are the states that gave more than the feds gave back to  them. What a shame; we financed our own downfall. And the corrupt, blatantly corrupt. politicians of those poor states were eager to take our money for their own purposes.  

I really don't see them, the poorer states, coming to their senses until the voters that are responsible for this Trump presidency, die off. It's going to be up to the youth to correct this terrible imbalance. It may be wishful thinking, after all, year after year, the youth in these states became clones of their parents. But...the internet in the 90's wasn't the power that it is now.

Something else that I don't hear much about is the power of the popular vote. Clinton won that. Der Dumpf does not want to mention it. In his version of real life, he fires people that are critical of him. He can't fire millions of Americans so he does what he does best when faced with a power greater than his; he ignores them. Yet, there is a strong power there and we need to learn how to use it. The news media is still concentrating on what they think will give them advertizing dollars and so they write about the terrible defeat suffered by the 'left' and not the disadvantage given to the Alt-Right Trump presidency by the fact that the majority of Americans don't like these people and a number of these Americans will do what they can to disrupt them and their plans.

With the official elevation of Steve Bannon to chief White House strategist, the Breitbart group now has a degree of legitimacy. Have you ever read anything written by the Breitbart group? Even conservative Republicans are sometimes shocked by what is seen on the Breitbart website. I believe that the majority of the Trump base will be shocked as well and realize that they have been conned. There is no room for Christianity in Breitbart News and the majority of the Trump base believe they are Christians.

It looks like Trump is reneging on a lot of campaign promises. As expected. But certainly not expected by his base. If there are any media powers in the majority of voters, now is the time to start using the power given to us to harass Der Dumpf at every misstep of his. He hates criticism and it makes him do things that his handlers are supposed to prevent. His handlers can't keep him in a glass bubble and so we will see plenty of missteps.  

Friday, November 11, 2016

I didn't vote for him

And I mean Bernie. When I first heard of his decision to run, I was excited. I've always liked him and I believed in 75% of his platform. Heck, make it 90%. Some time went by and when Trump became the candidate I had to change my mind. I started to see small cracks in that platform and ones that Trump would easily exploit. There was only one word needed to do it...socialism. Heck, I am a socialist. Though I do not belong to the party. I don't belong to any party and haven't for the past 11 years. I do belong to one organization, the IWW. Yes, I'm a Wobbly. Or is it with an IE? Wobblie? I'm old and I forget. It doesn't matter.

Trump would put Bernie through a wringer and it wouldn't be pretty. Sure that's just an opinion. But it is what changed my vote. I thought Hillary had a better chance of handling him and when it came to the debates, she mopped the floor with him! I didn't realize that the debates made no difference to the Trump base. They don't watch debates.

Since my vote was wasted anyway, would it have been better to waste it on Bernie? I don't know...

I did read an interesting piece this morning. If the dumpf goes through with his plan to find all the Muslims in the country and register them, then I will register myself. Apparently, muslim without a capital M simply means a believer in God. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John were muslims. So was Jesus. There's no reason for me not to register as a muslim. I even have a Koran at home. (I'm about halfway through it and haven't found any terrorists yet) I'm also a Presbyterian muslim. Now if millions of us muslims will register, the registry will become bloated and useless. Let the dumpf chew on that for awhile.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mr. Blow is correct

If you have had a chance to read Mr. Blow's column on the bigoted President, I can only hope that you agree with most of what he wrote. I know I did.

I voted for President Obama twice.  Occasionally, I was disappointed in his decisions. But, since I was not able to know all of the factors that went into those decisions, I moved on. I know that a lot of his decisions were made for him by the obstinacy of Congress. He was a black President and they were not going to allow him any victory, no matter how small. Did I just use the 'race card'?  You bet I did. In my travels around the country I found racism alive and well. It still is. And we just saw it in action during the last election. Despite the Republican's attempts to slander him, history will show that Mr. Obama was one of this country's finest Presidents.

Now, for Mr. Trump. He is mentally ill and unfit for the office of the Presidency.  He is unable to tell the truth. The whole country had a chance to see him lie and lie again. He is a racist. His own words convict him of that. I could go on but I just realized that what I would say has been said by many others and nothing changed. Just read Mr. Blow's column again. He is writing about Mr. Trump. And he will never be my President.  Is that sedition? So be it...


This I believe

I have no words. But, what I read this morning in Charles Blow's column gave me the words I needed.



Friday, November 4, 2016

Trying Times

And it's not political at all. Just after my last post we received word that our youngest grandchild, 13 year old Abigayle, was being transported from Susanville to UC Davis Medical Center by ambulance, a 250 mile trip. Along with a lot of other symptoms, she had lost all feeling below her waist. To be exact; her belly button. My son was in the ambulance with her and had messaged us as they passed through town.

Of course we were frantic. I had a broken pelvis and I couldn't travel to Sacramento. Neither could my caregiver, her grandmother. And now communication became sporadic. My son had little time to sit  down and compose a letter, so we waited anxiously for news.

Finally, we learned that she was in ICU and the many medical teams at this hospital had swung into action for her care. They had installed a Port for the many injections she needed and they had also installed a PICC line to begin plasmapheresis, a procedure that removes antibodies in patients with autoimmune conditions. Another two days went by and it was very difficult to see photos of her trying to smile while under the influence of morphine for pain. They also had a possible diagnosis for her,  Acute flaccid myelitis, formerly described as "acute flaccid paralysis with anterior myelitis" or "polio-like syndrome", is an acute neurologic illness in children with focal limb weakness of unknown etiology.  This is now known as AFM and it is becoming far too common. There have been many new cases on the West coast. Samples of her spinal fluid and blood were sent to the State health department.

Finally, on Tuesday of this week, her grandmother and aunt made the trip down the valley to see her. And her condition was turning around! She was allowed to go outside.She was still in ICU so she had to wear a mask while outside. And an ICU nurse accompanied them, pushing the Super Wheelchair. This chair had a miniature ICU unit built into the back of it. When they first pushed through the door to outside, Abigayle burst into tears. The nurse bent down and asked "Are you crying because you're happy?" Abby shook her head up and down emphatically. With the patient having a smile on her face they took off on what was a one mile trek. Later that night Abigayle reported that she thought she had moved a toe. Progress!

On Wednesday she was given permission to eat a hamburger, which she did as soon as her dad returned from a quest to find the best burger around; not one from the hospital cafeteria. Now that her dad was slightly relaxed, we started to see more messages and more photos. She was (and is) still being given plasmapheresis every 4 hours. This procedure is painless and takes about 2 hours, so you can see that that there isn't much 'free time'. Since it is painless, she reads or watches TV.

Then, on Thursday, she called me! I know that she is 13 years old but she is the youngest and last of the grandchildren, an honor she shares with her twin brother. And since she is, I will always consider her my 'baby'. Due to family strife when she was an infant, I got to be the sole caretaker for her and her brother for about 2 weeks. Dad would come and help after work. So there is more than the usual bond between us.

Now she is on a waiting list to move to a regular room. And she has begun Physical Therapy. Wonderful progress is being made, though the diagnosis of AFM is not a final one and labs up and down the coast are trying to understand just what this disease is and what caused it. Meanwhile, we are simply happy as she gains strength each day.

 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Something different

Since I am unable to stand at my easel for more than a few minutes, I began using my digital software and a Wacom tablet to paint on. I've created dozens of paintings since then. And tonight I finished one that I've been working on for a couple of weeks. Not continuously working on it but off and on. With abstract expressionism, only the artist (me) can say when it is finished. I rarely say that a painting is complete. This one is. And I had better stop looking at it or I may change my mind.


This is titled Henry Ford in the Amazon. It's 24x16, although with it being digital I can make it just about any size I want. I saved it as a TIF file so it will remain quite sharp even after being enlarged to triple that size. 6'x4 1/2'.'






So sad

Such a sad little man. You know who I mean. And I am baffled by the hold he seems to have on so many people. Or so I have been told. That's part of my bewilderment; I don't know any of these people. And in our town I have seen only one Trump lawn sign; yet I am told that his supporters will rise up and demand justice if he loses the election. Maybe his supporters are waiting to see which way the wind is blowing before showing themselves?

When I read the stories about his supporters and read their quotes, I am baffled once again. They appear to be intelligent yet they are quite willing to believe in some vast conspiracy that will deprive them of their votes. It can't happen. The logistics of pulling it off are mind boggling. And pulling it off without someone spilling the beans? 50 states and thousands of independent polling places and thousands of county clerks to certify the results. How could anyone make that happen? I know the Trumpeteers love to talk about the 2m 'dead voters', yet no one can show us where or when any of those dead voters rose up and made it into the polling booth to pull a handle. The 2m were the number of voters that county clerks across the country had failed to purge from the rolls. Shame on them! Sloppy bookkeeping; that's all. Not a grand conspiracy.

Then there are these stories of how the people will rise up and shed their blood if necessary to reclaim the 'stolen' election. There are stories of seemingly intelligent people that have gun collections "I have north of 40 guns". Collecting most things is an innocent pleasure. But stamps are not the equivalent of M-16's. And there has to be a special place in Hell reserved for those Justices that did as their NRA masters asked them to and turned the 2nd Amendment over to them.    

It won't be long now and this seeming nightmare of an election will be over. Or will it just be a bad dream?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

on and on it goes

The pain continues. I had no idea that a broken pelvis would hurt so much. It's a Level 6 24/7 these days. I went to the ortho doc the other day and x-rays were taken. By the way, x-rays are the only medical diagnostic tool that has not changed, basically, since it was invented /discovered in 1895. Anyway, the x-rays confirmed what we already knew. It was fractured. A nice straight line across the widest part of the pelvis. After viewing the images I found myself feeling 'delicate'. Like a rare china plate...

The bad news was that it would take 6  to 12  months for my recovery. I guess I will take up knitting. Again. I tried knitting after my first spinal surgery and found that I was only good at casting on. Maybe I can learn to knit this time. There has to be a thousand or more YouTube videos to teach me.

The building activity behind us has reached a critical stage. They were pumping concrete at 6:30 this morning. Illegal. Now they are finishing the concrete with a very loud radio to help them. We do not appreciate the noise. If I had a portable radio I would set it up on the fence and give them some of the finer operas at max volume.

We picked up the mail today after a visit to the family doc and found it to be 99% political mailings. I can't help but think...can I write "return to sender" on this stuff and put it back in the box? I have voted. I did it yesterday and it's like a huge weight has been lifted off of my back. Of course I voted a straight Democratic ticket. Not because I am a Democrat; I am not. I left them a long time ago but this time around they seem to be the only sane ones. This weeks Economist has a good article on Hillary Clinton. This issue has a sinister cover featuring Putin. That's also worth reading.

The republicans and their base seem to believe in every wacky conspiracy theory.There are no conspiracies. All attempts at it fail because no one can be trusted to keep a secret. Conspiracies might last a month or even two, but then someone will always want to tell someone else. Then it's over.

I'm waiting for the Dilaudid to kick in and relieve me of some pain. I'm also waiting for my cat to get over her grumpiness and come and join me. She has been super throughout this painful episode in my life, jumping up on my lap and sleeping there for hours. A cat on the lap is great therapy!

I have spent the last few days working on my photo collection. These are photos I collect off of the internet, such as photos detailing the building of Grand Coulee Dam or the Los Angeles Aqueduct, logging and railroads. Plus my photos of family and friends. I'm up to 8,000 now and most are decently titled and filed. Using Apple Smart folders I can use keywords to place the photos anywhere I want. But then...just as I was humming along, the Mac lost the network. Just the Mac and neither one of the iPhones. My wife's iPad never lost a beat. After 72 plus hours the Mac came back to life. I checked online and apparently these interruptions have been going on since 2013 or earlier. Then I read that Steve Jobs, who was not a programmer or engineer, but was more interested in esthetics. His products had to look beautiful and in that he succeeded. How they worked was a problem for his engineers to work on, not himself. I bet that was why Wozniak left him. He probably didn't trust him.

I love my Mac but I hate flaws that no one seems to be interested in fixing. Well, I better go get the cat...we need each other.