If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it."
-Stephen Colbert

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More fishing

The Skipper moved the boat to within a hundred yards of the island. We were close enough to see just how rugged this island was. I had camped out here one weekend with the Sea Scouts (I was a Cub Scout at the time) and had done some hiking; it was rough going in every direction.

Being this close to the island meant that the waves were almost absent and there was no wind at all. As we drifted I could see down in the water and spotted some of the bright orange colored Garibaldi that are the official California State Fish. You can only find them around Catalina and at La Jolla Cove.

As the Skipper promised, we soon started catching 'rockfish'. There are 57 different species that qualify as 'Rockfish'. Red Snapper, Rock Cod, White Cod and etc. There is also a chance to catch a big Ling Cod or Black Bass. All of these fish are great for eating and easy to fillet.

There was a commotion on the other side of the boat and we all turned to see what was happening; A fisherman had hooked something big and he was struggling to bring it in. It was a Sheepshead. A very strange looking fish. And as it turned out, a little bit heavier than the Barracuda, making that fisherman the winner of the Jackpot. About $80!

We stopped fishing about 2 in the afternoon and began the long trip back. Catalina is only 26 miles from Los Angeles but the boat barely tops 10 mph. And on the way back the deck hand will clean and fillet the fish that he is allowed to...only if you want him too. His filleting  soon attracted a flock of seagulls that followed us all of the way in, fighting and diving for the scraps that were going overboard. The live bait tank was emptied and that made for a feast for the gulls as well. Some of the fisherman would stand near the stern and throw sardines far into the air and watch the gulls catch them mid-air.

At the end of the day I had enjoyed a great day of fishing and was eager to do it again. And we did this often. Not as often as I might have liked, but certainly enough times to make each trip memorable.

The photo above was 'borrowed' from the internet and is only here to let you see what an odd fish the Sheepshead is. I have no idea as to the identity of the fisherman. I apologize.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Continuing to Fish

Continued from the last post...

The drone of the engine and the rhythm of the waves kept me asleep until there was a sudden change in the engine noise. The engine was just idling and the boat began to pitch as we were no longer pushing through the waves. I sat up and noticed that everyone was rushing out to get their poles. Dad had already rigged our poles up with the necessary tackle on the way out and so I joined him at the rail. It was a gray morning and the sun was barely up. Dad explained that the Skipper had stopped because he had seen the gulls circling over a spot on the ocean and that usually meant baitfish near the surface and that meant that there were bigger fish below them. The Skipper yelled down to us that  he was intending to drift down and over the baitfish and that we should keep our bait about twenty feet down. I grabbed a sardine from the bait tank and hooked it up. I estimated the twenty feet and then waited, expecting to feel that first tug as a fish swallowed my hook. I waited some more. There was a yell from someone up front and it was soon obvious that he had a large fish on. The pole was bent and he was struggling to wind the reel. Then, just like that, the fish was gone. He reeled in and it looked like his line was cut. Then there was another fish hooked up on the other side. Again the fish got away and it looked like that line was cut. There was another hookup just then and this time, after about ten minutes, the fisherman brought in a large Barracuda. That was when the Skipper told everyone to reel in. "We're going to have to leave. There's a lot of Barracuda in here and if you don't have wire leaders you will end up losing your leaders and the fish."

With all of the lines in, the Skipper turned the boat and and we continued on to Catalina. Dad told me that one time he had been out fishing (without me?) and the Skipper had found a school of sardines just like the one we had left. They had just got their lines in the water when, without warning, almost everyone on the boat had a hookup. With big fish! With everyone fighting a fish, he said it was bedlam. That was when the deckhand came running down the length of the boat and cut everyones lines. Then the Skipper put the boat in gear and ran about a hundred yards away from the sardines before shutting it back down.

The Skipper told the passengers that he was sorry about the losses but it turned out that the boat had been sitting over a feeding school of Blue Fin Tuna and he had already used the radio to call a Tuna Clipper and let them know where the school was.

Dad said that once they were safely away from the main body of the school of tuna they were able to fish without the pressure of having everyone hooked up at once. He said that everyone did end up with tuna...but one at a time.

With the sun up, I could see Catalina clearly now and we stopped about a mile away from the Isthmus.  We baited up and dropped our lines. The Skipper said that they had caught Albacore in this spot yesterday and we should keep our bait down around fifty or sixty feet. Now we waited.

During the next few hours the Skipper moved us from one 'good' spot to another and there was never a single bite. All during this time, the deckhand stood above the live bait tank scooping up sardines and throwing them over the side. 'Chumming' in the hopes of drawing in some big fish. We never saw one. At this time, the lone Barracuda was the winner of the Jackpot...but we weren't through fishing yet.

The Skipper then told us that he was going to move us in closer to the island and we should be able to get a limit of rockfish...

I'll add some more to this story next time.




Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fish story

I love to fish. But, I rarely do it anymore. I think it's because I have so many other things going on in my life. That's not a good excuse but it is the only one I have.

My Dad loved to fish as well and some of my earliest memories are of being wakened at two in the morning to go fishing with him. He would come in to my bedroom and put his hand on my shoulder and I was instantly awake and ready to go. When I was a pre-teen, the destination was a deep sea fishing boat tied up at Norm's Landing at San Pedro in the Los Angeles Harbor. When we arrived at the dock I could hear all the idling engines of the sport fishing fleet  and see the bright deck lights cutting through the ever present fog. I just knew it was going to be a great day! Usually, we would take a Day boat as opposed to a Half Day boat and our usual destination was Catalina Island. Or to the reef that was about halfway to the island.

Once we were on board we had to take our chance on a number dawn out of a hat. That number represented an assigned space on the railing of the boat. At the same time we were asked if we wanted in on 'The Jackpot'. The largest fish caught that day would take all the money in the pot. It was usually just a few dollars to enter and we always put our money in. I don't remember ever winning?

One every one was aboard, the Skipper would back the boat out of the slip and begin a slow journey down the channel. Although it was still quite dark, the port of Los Angeles was busy. There were boats of every size going in all directions and the canning factories were humming. After about ten minutes, the Skipper would slow the engine and we would drift up next to a live bait boat that was anchored in mid channel. There were floating cages all around this boat and they all contained sardines. Lots and lots of sardines! Now the deckhands went to work as they transferred net loads of sardines and dumped them into the live bait well on our boat. It was best to observe this process from a safe distance as silvery scales were flying everywhere! And they stuck to everything they touched.

With a full load of live bait it was time to leave the harbor. The ocean changes dramatically as you abandon the calm waters of the harbor and face the full power of the Pacific. If you were lucky, large 'ground swells' would lift the boat slowly and then slowly drop it back. Over and over. If you were unlucky, you would be greeted by waves that would make the boat shudder as she plowed through them. Now the rise and drop were not at all gentle and you would have to find something to hold onto. The words 'pitch' and 'yaw' took on a new meaning. The railing now seemed to be too low to the deck and I could imagine myself pitching over it easily. I stayed close to the cabin and out of the wind.

Once we knew there was going to be a two or three hour boat ride, all the activity was centered in the cabin. Most these boats had large cabins with a galley and a cook. And there was always a poker game going on at the big table. And my Dad was always right in the middle of it. I watched and tried to understand the game but failed, and after awhile, I would find a corner and put my head down and go to sleep.

I'll return to this trip in a later post...




Thursday, July 23, 2015

'Throw Back Thursday'

I don't know how it started, but in our loose circle of Facebook Friends, there is a weekly event where you post old photos of yourself  or others and it's called Throw Back Thursday. Naturally, you do this on a Thursday...but if you forget, you can always post on Flashback Fridays. Of course.

I was looking through some old photos I had scanned; Kodak Kodachromes. The colors are still great after all these years; sixty six of them to be exact.

The first  photo is of myself and my older sister, plus a puppy and a Boxer named Butch. We are standing in front of our house on Center Street in Manhattan Beach. This house, known always as the 'Brick House' was probably the only brick house in town. It also contained a rarity; a basement. The basement is where my mother had the washing machine and we could talk to her when she was doing the washing by opening the door to the pantry in the kitchen above. There was a screen at the bottom of the pantry that allowed cool air from the basement to keep the potatoes and onions and such at the right temperature.  

You may notice in this photo that I am bare footed. And that I am wearing jeans with long cuffs rolled up. That was pretty much the norm in that town. The holster that I am sporting was what most 9 year olds would be wearing.



The brick house is long gone and Center Street is now named Manhattan Beach Blvd. I presume that the pig farmer that lived behind us at that time has moved on as well.

This second photo shows my older sister, Julie, and my younger sister, Kitty, as they try on Hibiscus hair ornaments. My mother made the matching dresses for them.



The last photo is of my sister Kitty and me. You can see the rolled up cuffs quite clearly here.

Sadly, my sister Julie passed away about 10 years ago. Kitty and I get together as often as we can, though distance keeps us from seeing each other as often as we wish. She lives in AZ and we're in Norcal. We just came back from a shared two week vacation on the Oregon coast and we recalled many memories during that trip. We'll do something like that again in six months or a year from now.

I can't get over how rich and clear the Kodachrome photos are. I scanned them from slides so that may be the secret...


Sunday, July 19, 2015

In the olden days...

I mentioned earlier this month that I was sending a DNA sample to Ancestry dot com so that I can be included in the database they are creating. With any luck at all, I will be informed that my ancestors were good upstanding citizens.

But...as I work on my family tree I find some disturbing things. I've already found that two of my Scottish ancestors address was 'the poor house' in Glasgow. And one more distant grandfather was executed for treason. Then there are the many poor harried grandmothers of mine that had a dozen children or more. It's no wonder that they usually died before they were 60. As I read the names of these distant relatives I can't help but think of how difficult life had to be in the 1700's or earlier. Just look around you and see if there is anything at all in our modern life that existed in that age. I don't think we could survive if we were suddenly transported back to, let's say, 1711.

On a another note; I'm somewhat surprised at some of the other things that I am finding in my family. As I work my way back in time and without doing  lot of strenuous research. (Ancestry dot com charges you for more than basic research) I find that one branch has lead me back to royalty. (King James of Scotland) Now it seems to me that it is highly improbable that I would be related this way. I fully expected my line to vanish with some poor serf. Then another line has brought me to a cousin of Jane Seymour? How can that be? I wonder if this happens to everyone who tries Ancestry for com and it's a gimmick to lead you on and to spend more money to find out more? Nah...I don't think so. I think I may have made a mistake or two...or four. And someday, when I can no longer move about easily, I will spend the money to do the proper research and that will keep me busy and my mind active.

And yet another note; I was walking around the church parking lot today in my role as 'security' and I wandered down to the fence that separates us from the University. There was nothing of interest down there and as I was turning to leave, I looked up into the sky. What in the world was that small white, round, object floating high in the sky? I studied it for awhile and noted that it wasn't moving very much but it was moving slightly back and forth. I'm sure it was not  flying saucer but I am pretty sure it was a drone. I looked back there in about five minutes and it was gone. That was my first drone sighting. Now I will start looking up more often. Who knows how many drones are up there?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Brainy

My neurologist asked me to have a brain scan as part of his search as to why I have some balance problems. I went to the local radiology center and had the painless CAT scan, both with contrast and without. I did this just before our vacation and didn't have the results until recently.

The doctor noted that the ventricles in my brain were slightly enlarged and he shared with me the fact that he could not make a diagnosis at this time. But, an enlargement of the ventricles could be a sign of NPH or Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus. The key word is 'could'. He wanted to make sure that I understood that he really doesn't have the whole picture yet and would not make a diagnosis until he does. So, I will have another brain scan in 6 months and then he can compare. This is a condition that is notoriously difficult to diagnose and he wants to make certain before he says yes or no. I'm happy for that as I read that many patients are overlooked and ignored when early detection is vital.

Then he tells me that the symptoms so far could also be a sign of early Parkinson's. (This guy is a bundle of laughs!) I wasn't expecting that but again, I'm glad that he is watching over me. I had heard good things about him and I can now confirm that they are true.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

PVD

Posterior Vitreous Displacement...that was the diagnosis of my eye surgeon. And not to worry. He did a thorough exam yesterday and did not find a retinal tear. He will exam my eye once more in a months time, just to be certain. And from all I've read, almost everyone has this happen to them as they age. The kicker is that most people never even know it happened. They don't see the black cobweb and black dots that cover your vision. They don't see the sparkling meteors that streak across the periphery of your vision. A lucky few get to see all of the above and become terrified. I was.

He told me that the floaters and cobwebs will clear up over time and the flashes of light will cease as well. He was right, as this morning I can see far better than yesterday. I still find the cobweb, a faded cobweb, floating back across my vision just as I need to see something clearly and that is irritating. But considering the alternatives, I don't mind that much...

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Views

I have a unique view of the world today. I have an eyepatch, ala Blackbeard the Pirate, over my right eye. I was driving to the store the other day when suddenly the asphalt ahead of me seemed to come alive, moving! I focused and I saw that it was the black spots in my vision, hundreds of them and they were all moving! Then a cloud of 'spider webs' settled down into my vision. Oh, great! As soon as I could, I let my wife drive the rest of the way home. I called the surgeon that had done the cataract surgery in that eye  a few years ago and he told me that he thought it was a retinal tear and he would see me today. In the meantime I have put a patch over that eye as that eye seems to become wet if I use it for long. Of course, with a patch over my eye, my depth perception is gone and I drop things when I think I have placed them safely.

Sitting on the counter is a small box that is addressed to Ancestry dot Com and it contains a DNA sample from me. Once in a while Ancestry has a special price on the DNA analysis and this time I decided to try it. I am very eager to find out more about my ancestors and this can answer lots of my questions...but I will have to wait 6 to 8 weeks before I get those answers.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Oregon memories

 You can't have a trip to Oregon without taking some pictures. And so I did. About 300 of them; which I have culled out about half. Here are 6 of them. These are in no particular order... that's the beach at Manzanita Oregon at a low tide.










 Food pictures seem to be all the rage and I have included some. This is my breakfast at the Big Wave Cafe in Manzanita. That's a prime rib hash with two eggs over easy...delicious! We ate dinner at the Big Wave the night before and were so impressed by the food and service that we had to try breakfast. That was a good decision.









 This is a view of the rock formation that stands close to the harbor at Trinidad Oregon. We had lunch in a restaurant that had this view as well as a view of the long pier. Good clam chowder. In fact, we had clam chowder in half a dozen places and they were all good...all different but all good.












 A view from one end of the deck at the house in Manzanita. This was an exceptional house and the view was unequaled...in any direction. We were about 1/4 mile above the beach and we could clearly hear the waves breaking on the shore below.









 This is the beach at Bandon Oregon. The fog bank seen just offshore would come in briefly and then retreat. Only to repeat this many times during the day. Only at night would the fog remain onshore.











A view from the front porch at the Bandon house. The ocean is just 50 years away, over the low rise you see here. Yes, we could hear the waves at night.

This house, like the others, was in a Tsunami danger zone and there was a Tsunami evacuation route at the end of the street. It was a steep walk up that street but it would take you to the bluff above the beach and to safety. The local library on the bluff was the Tsunami gathering place.

The people seem to take the tsunami warnings seriously. A good thing!

If I didn't tell you already, Manzanita Oregon is a favorite of mine. I could have easily spent two weeks in that house and never have gone to the other two.

We learned some lessons about vacation rentals and we will definitely do it again armed with that knowledge.  We will make certain that the house doesn't have stairs. Two of the three did have stairs and it was a real chore getting suitcases and ourselves up and down them. We also need to make sure we know all about the neighborhood; the apartment we rented in Florence was located just across the street from a cheap chain restaurant and we listened to a lot of midnight rumblings of Harley's gathered in the parking lot. Also, we need to read all of the reviews; both good and bad.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Art for Arts Sake

I have a canvas. I have paint. I have brushes and other tools. So where's the art? It's still locked up in my head. Why does that happen? I wish I knew.
     I have 8 canvases all prepped and ready but still not a creative mark on any of them. I wrote about art back on the 4th and so far that's all I've done; write about it. So, I guess I will go to the art supply store and see if some new material or brush or? will stir the creative juices.

Surprise! It rained here last night. It wasn't much as it only lasted for ten or fifteen minutes. But it was a solid downpour and was soaked up immediately by every thirsty plant. Now it's a chilly morning which is very odd for July.

I understand that there are or soon will be 16 Republicans running for President. It's so tempting to write about them but I won't. That's not a strict promise as the temptation may grow to a point where I can no longer restrain myself.

I was dismissed from the balance program at the rehab center as my balance has improved. And I'm back to the gym and doing the full exercise bit. I really missed it. I had a routine and we all know how seniors love routine. The older I become the more comforting the 'routine' becomes. That can become deadly.

Our recent trip to the Oregon coast was out of our comfort zone and it has done great things for me. I want to do more trips. They don't have to be 2 weeks of travel; just a long weekend would be great. Using AirBnB to book a place is cheap and easy. I even found a motor home parked on the shores of Bridgeport Reservoir for $65 a night. Good fishing!



Sunday, July 5, 2015

And now it's the 5th...

We were supposed to enjoy a 'fireworks free' 4th of July, but around 9 PM last night the explosions began. Small bangs at first and then the more powerful ones shook the night air. In the midst of a drought and with dry vegetation everywhere it makes sense to ban fireworks. As usual, some people never get the message or simply don't care...

I spent the morning at church; acting as a member of the Safety team. My job was to walk around the area outside of the church building and greet people while keeping an eye out for people who might disturb the service. I had been looking for a way to serve and since I would be able to walk and to drink coffee all while enjoying the sunshine, I thought this might be a good thing for me to do. Even with free coffee it was really outside of my comfort zone; as someone with ASD, talking to strangers is not something I do easily!

Our church is located in downtown Chico and right next to the University. Our patio is open to the street and we have coffee and water freely available. A lot of the street people use the patio for their morning coffee stop and are always welcomed. Understandably, some these people have mental illnesses in varying degrees and will sometimes act out in ways that makes some of the congregation uncomfortable. That's when we have to intervene and politely ask them to be quieter or to leave. The city has no sympathy for these people and would love to run them all out of town if they could. I don't know what the answer is but forcing them to leave the city is not!

Since it was holiday weekend we didn't have a full house and I was spared a lot of uncomfortable moments while greeting strangers. But even so, I was there for 3 services and had to walk for 4 hours. Midway through the first service I had to go to the car and get my walking stick/cane. Now I am home and sitting on my chaise, trying to relax...

Saturday, July 4, 2015

It's the 4th!

We're not doing much today. Varying types of pain have both of us on the sidelines. I have used one Norco, quite early, and am hoping for some relief. Also, on a different subject, I have resurrected a casserole from the freezer that was a mere 3 months old and it should be fine for tonight. It's all part of my 'Cleanup and Cleanout' campaign. Our freezer and pantry were overflowing with goods and some were in danger of being way past their prime.

I went to see the balance people at the rehab yesterday and I didn't see a lot of improvement. Monday will be an assessment and we can compare it with my first day. My new walking stick was a help more than a few times while we were traveling. But it's a pain to have it with you all of the time. It tends to be left behind in restaurants. It falls over when you prop it up to free your hands for a minute.   It's simply not a satisfactory substitute for good balance; the balance of 40 years ago.

The drought continues. Our May water bill told us that we had met, and exceeded, our water savings goal. All the amounts we save go into a 'bank' and our 'savings' can be used when we exceed our limit. I'm sure that our June bill will be even better as we were gone for 13 days. That's water in the bank!

I've been painting (not enough) during the past few days and I have also sealed the small abstract (4"x4") paintings I did for a mental exercise. There are 30 of them and now I have to come up with a way to display them. Also, there is going to be a Floral Abstract themed show at the Art Center at the end of the month and I'm tempted to enter something. I've never liked juried shows but after entering a few I am willing to be embarrassed...if my painting isn't chosen. That requires a lot of will power. It would be so easy to simply leave the painting at home; placed on a wall where it's rarely seen.

Now that the tiny abstracts are out of my system for awhile, I must start on some of the large scale canvas I have; all sitting on the countertop in my studio and daring me to put a mark upon them. I guess I had better look at some of my artists video's for some inspiration. Robert Burridge's CD is in the player right now and I have my favorite, Virginia Cobb, ready to go after that. Bob Burridge has a fast and loose style of painting that I try to emulate. While Virginia Cobb feels her way through the painting; laying paint on and then scraping it off if it doesn't impact her emotionally. I can also watch Art 21 on the computer and see another of my favorite artists, Mary Heilmann. Mary thoroughly enjoys painting and her abstracts reflect that. They give me joy when I look at them.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

We're back and it's HOT...

I know I'm odd and always have been, but I don't mind hot weather. It's summertime and hot is what it's supposed to be. Sometimes hotter and sometimes not so much. Why get all hot and bothered over a weather condition you cannot change?

We were on the coast of Oregon for about 12 days and it was a great trip. 3 different houses were rented for us as we made our way down the coast. We read a lot and we walked the beaches, collecting rocks and driftwood. I took about 300 photos and now I must organize them into a final semblance of order. I tried to load the shots into hastily made folders on my PowerMac as we went along and that helped.

I will be exchanging photos with my sister as she was taking quite a few as well. I don't get much of a chance to talk with my sister as she lives in AZ and that's a far distance from Northern California. There are just the two of us left now. Both of our parents are gone and our middle sister died some time go. And it's on trips like this that we drag out all of the old memories and examine them; enjoying them once again. As I am almost 3/4 of a century old, the memories have become quite dear to me.

But, at the end of two weeks, we were almost completely out of things to talk about. We waved goodbye to them this morning and felt the relief that comes with an end to "being on." Quite common among Introverts. Especially as I had been Extraverting for the entire trip, only getting relief when I was asleep.

Also this morning; I weighed myself. I had stopped being sensible about my diet while we were on vacation and I was worried...but, I had only gained 2.4 pounds. We were eating 2 meals a day and that helped. I was also eating salt water taffy and pastries, and that didn't help.

All along the coast of Oregon we drove into and out of Tsunami Danger Zones. The people along the coast take it seriously and Tsunami escape routes are clearly marked. The last place we stayed, in Bandon, was 100 yards from the ocean, and although we loved listening to the surf and the fog horn, I was a little nervous about our proximity to the ocean. Then I noticed a Tsunami escape route sign at the end of the block and it was no more than a few hundred feet away and then a quick walk up the hill to safety. I resumed sleeping.

We are having our back fence replaced and today was the day to start. The crew removed all of the old fence and have set the steel posts for the new fence. The posts looks quite sturdy; we only need them to last about 20 years and after that...who cares? If I'm still around I will be 95 and would care less if the posts had failed.

Our back fence kept us from seeing quite a bit. Now that it is gone we can see the foothills and the 5 acres of brown grass that was directly behind us. We feel kind of naked without that fence...but the new one will be in place tomorrow.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Eugene

We have made it to Eugene OR, the home of the Ducks. It took us about 8 hours, including a great brunch in Dunsmuir CA. (Cornerstone Bakery & CafeThe weather was perfect and the traffic was light; and we were in no hurry. We have rented a Chrysler van and the one we have is a 2015 model with all of the gadgets and electronics. I had to get used to driving a full sized car after driving my little Scion Xb.

The one thing that the van lacked was a GPS unit and so we depended on Google Maps to get us to the hotel; that was a mistake. All of the commands to 'Turn Left' or 'Turn Right' were given right at the intersection and if we were in the wrong lane, which we were, it was impossible to make the turn so we would have find a place to make a U-turn and try it again. Over and over. But we are here now and will be traveling to Manzanita OR tomorrow, a simple 3 hour trip. Then it will be 3 restful days of reading, painting, walking and napping before we drive south to Florence...for another 3 days of the same.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Getting ready

We're taking off on Thursday morning for a 13 day trip down the Oregon coast. We're driving up to the top of Oregon; think Astoria, and then we will make our way down the coast, staying at 3 different houses along the way. My sister and brother in law are on their way to join us. They are driving from Arizona and once they make it to Sacramento they will park their car and pick up the Dodge van rental that we will use for the trip. We want to be comfortable on this trip. They will arrive at our house on Wednesday and we will make the first leg to Eugene in about 6.5 hours.

Back in the day...when I was young and stupid, I would drive for as long as I could. An 18 hour trip was normal for me. I would stop for gas and toilets and then back on the road. I'm surprised now that I wasn't served with divorce papers after a couple of those trips. But, she's still with me...

I was back in the balance lab today, doing workouts in the Balance Master. And they are workouts! The floor moves and walls slide back and forth and up and down while you try to keep an image, representing you, in the square center of the video screen in front of you. I'm actually getting better at it and that's encouraging. Even so, I bought a nice walking stick for our trip. Going through the crowd at the local farmers market a few weeks ago I suddenly felt 'tippy' because of the proximity of moving people all around me. The cane/walking stick is insurance for me.

The drought continues to take a toll. I've lost two birch trees so far and I have 4 more that are looking sad. The front lawn is slowly growing brown and by the end of summer it will be an exact copy of the  back lawn; already brown and lifeless. I'm really quite happy to see the lawns go as we have plans to landscape with plants that actually belong in this climate. Lawns (meadows) don't have a place here in the arid valley. Meadows (and birch trees) are found up in the high country, surrounded by big timber and not shopping centers.

Tomorrow I have to make sure I have enough sketch pads and watercolor paper for the trip. And I need to make sure I have an empty 'jump drive' for the photos I will be taking.

Ah, Oregon! Where it's green...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I've been profiled...

I was recently interviewed for our local Art Association's newsletter. It was an interesting process as I had never been 'interviewed' before. The interviewer was an artist as well and it was easy to answer the questions she gave me. After awhile I forgot that she was doing a job and I was disappointed that she had to go. The articles are published once a month and the subject is chosen by whether or not you say 'yes' when cornered by the writer. And she likes to interview people that live close by. I live less than a mile away so I was a prime candidate to be interviewed.

I copied and pasted this article out of the newsletter, but since I am the subject, I don't think there will be any problems with copyrights.

Member Profile


Featured Member Profile


Steve Dunn, pictured in his well-organized and spacious studio with tabletops he built to his own height. He began in carpentry and construction, but devotes full-time to painting now.

Steve is a long-time member of the Tuesday morning watercolor group. He's not just the only man but the only one working abstractly and with acrylic. This is a lively bunch, and he enjoys the comradery and exchanges. For instance, his random line of white oil on a black ground brought a comment likening it to the P-Wave or cardial pulse. Steve ran with that idea, repeating it over and over. The finished piece is called "P-Wave."

It's obvious that Steve is in love with surfaces as he renders oil pastel on cardboard or masonite and watercolor on "Yupo" paper for extremely fluid washes. Steve is primarily self-taught through videos and information on the internet. He strives toward abstract expressionism with great excitement in exploring the interior of the individual. He often has three or four canvases going at once, setting them aside to reevaluate later. His paintings begin with just making marks or color layers and from there he rides the intuitive process.

Steve is currently inspired by the works of Mary Heilmann and Anna Barne. Both painters
are worth a look if you love glacial planes of color that intersect and lead into geometric
corridors and beyond. Steve's work really takes off at this point because as he admits, "All artists steal and then make it their own."  His attitude toward painting is simply. . . "This is what I do."

Friday, June 5, 2015

My dizzy past.

In my previous post I talked about the periods of dizziness that I have been experiencing. That post set my memory in motion and I remember the many times I worked up high. We used to install the 'skin' on high rise buildings. That skin was made up of structural steel and a finish material of some kind; plaster or synthetic plaster. They would weigh around 400 pounds; some much larger and much heavier. We used an electric hoist that had enough counterweights on it to keep it from toppling over the edge when we began to lift the panel from the trailer on the ground. To begin hoisting we would take the safety cables down so that we could push the hoist out far enough to drop the hook and 'headache ball down to the waiting crew. Standing on the edge of the building with no safety cables to keep you from falling 20 or 30 stories is no place for a person with balance problems...but that was 30 years ago and my balance was fine.

Or the time when we were finishing up the Harrah's Hotel expansion in Reno and the elevator installers wanted to show me what work was necessary around the elevator lobby door on each floor; all 24 floors. I assumed that we would get in the elevator and stop at each floor to look. But no, we were going to stand on top of the elevator car and go from floor to floor and look from inside the shaft. Macho me, I wasn't going to say no so I stepped onto the elevator with the two mechanics. It was a small elevator, about 6' x6' with nothing to hold onto. In fact; right in front of me and at the center of the car were the lifting cables. They were always moving as the car ascended. I was told to be sure I didn't touch them. There was a 40 watt light bulb that didn't do much to disperse the darkness that surrounded us. Then I sensed rather than viewed the presence of the other elevators in that shaft. They whispered by us at very fast rate. We were climbing at what was called Inspection Speed while the other elevators were moving at their normal High Speed and that was aptly named.
We stopped at each floor and I would nervously make my way across the top of the car to look at the work. Then on to the next floor. With High Speed elevators on both sides of us, going about their business. When we reached the top I told them that I had some business to do on that floor and so I would have to miss the trip back down. But, thanks anyway.

I miss me....

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Dizzy?

I've been having some balance problems lately and that's one of the reasons I've spent some hours at Enloe Rehab. My balance problems have been minor so far, a stutter step to keep myself from falling and I'm fine. I might turn my head and have to correct my balance. No big thing but I remember when my Nana fell and broke her hip and I don't want that to happen. A strong and vibrant woman was dead within a few months.

They have a balance lab at the center and I had my first appointment last afternoon. After a 'dizzying' round  of simple tests I was put into the Balance Machine, a computer driven device to measure your balance in varying conditions. You have to put a safety harness on that connects you to a support above you; this keeps you from falling out onto the floor. Just in case, mind you. I climbed in and went through 4 tests and repeated them once more. I didn't fall out and the computer generated a printout of my activities. I'm below average for my age as far as balance goes. But...I now have been given exercises to strengthen my balance. And all of this wonderful help comes from Medicare (and my insurance to pick up where Medicare leaves off). This is what every citizen should have; help when needed. No insurance and you fell and broke your hip? You have no insurance? Now the state picks up the very expensive tab when preventive help could have saved this person.

Tomorrow I go to see my neurologist for further input on my Mononeuropathy. I'm just guessing but I think it's the compression I see on the nerve as it exits the spinal column at L5. And that would require surgery to correct it. I really don't want to do that again. And I think I can live with it for awhile yet.

There's a severe thunderstorm brewing and moving toward us. I'm using Weather Underground and the Wunder map to watch the size and movement. It says 'rain in 5 minutes'. There are some drops on the windows but not enough to wash the car. Okay! big drops now and the windows are covered with them. The window we had cleaned for us about two weeks ago. Now we hear thunder and I saw some lightning. Now that we live in the new California desert we are fascinated by any water falling from the sky.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Trolls

I was reading a fascinating story about a 'troll farm located in St. Petersburg Russia. Here's the link to the article... http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/magazine/the-agency.html

 After reading it I decided to take a look at the 'audience' for my blog. You can find it on the Stats page under Audience. Here are the numbers for each country.

EntryPageviews
United States
90
Czech Republic
64
Russia
12
Germany
10
United Kingdom
8
Moldova
7
Luxembourg
6
Belarus
4
Ukraine
4
China
3

Over the years I had seen these numbers before and wondered why Eastern European countries would even show up as members of my Audience. I had shrugged it off and never thought about it again...until today.
















Sunday, May 31, 2015

it's always greener on the other side of the fence

There it is, proof about that old adage. I know for a fact that the grass is greener on the other side. My front lawn is definitely greener than this desert. (but it is on a downward spiral) Luckily, the drip system will keep the trees and shrubs from dying.

The first of June marks the start of the 'Official' water savings. We have to use 32% less than what we used for the same period in 2013. Cool!
Compared to what we used in 2014, we only have to save 16%...or did I already tell you all of this?

I'm not going to look at prior postings to find the answer to that question, I'm just going continue on as if everything was normal. It isn't but I will try and tell myself that. This short term memory loss is very frustrating. It seems to have come on suddenly but with my memory, who knows when it started.

I took a moment to step outside, take a picture, come back in and post it to this blog. That's what I love about technology. Technology creates things that helps us all; from the highly scientific world to the mere social networks. Yes, I know it takes jobs away, but at the same time it creates jobs for those who were learning to exist in this advanced age. It has always been this way. I was lucky; my career in construction was never in jeopardy, it only became more productive with new technology. And building high-rises will always require human bodies and minds.

There I go again, off topic and ranting...

Friday, May 29, 2015

Let the sunshine in

The weather is getting warmer here. We're hitting the high 80's this week and we'll be seeing the high 90's within a few weeks. And with the high temps will come the fires. It's almost guaranteed; all we need is a north wind combined with high temps and the firebugs crawl out from the rocks to do their best to destroy all they can.

The bad news around here is that we have to conserve water at a greater than expected rate. Because this area was consuming water at a higher than average rate, we are expected to cut back by almost 1/3; 32% to be exact. Well, the back lawn is gone now and we've cut back on flushing. The front yard is looking less than lush. It probably looks bad enough to keep the self appointed 'water vigilantes' at bay.

A few more weeks and water worries will be memories for 13 days as we travel down the Oregon coast with my sister and brother in law.

The time I spend with the rehab therapists is not doing much. The pains and singular neuropathy come and go unpredictably. The surgeon that did the first two surgeries told me that I would probably have to live with the results. He removed the crippling pain and for that I'm grateful. I will be seeing the neurologist next Friday with hopes of solving the balance issues...and the neuropathy. Marijuana will be the next and probably last hope for finding a pain stopper that doesn't have all the side effects that the legal opioids have.

We decided to join the many neighbors around here by installing a solar power system. The process began today when measurements , photos and angle of the sun were taken and recorded. It takes about 2 months for the whole process and after it is complete, a switch is thrown and my electric meter will begin to turn in the opposite direction while I sell electricity to the power company. I will have a 20 year lease on the system and since I'm almost 75 now, the chances of my seeing the end of the lease are pretty slim. But I can hope! In the meantime, my lease costs me $149 a month and twenty years from now it will still be $149 a month.

Solar power installation in California is 14% ahead of the nation with 3 dedicated solar power plants in the desert south of here. 23 states still have no solar power utilities and no plans to build any. Solar cells are popping up on roofs all around here and the power companies and their stockholders are getting nervous. But where were they when it became apparent that solar power was viable? Heads were in the sand.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Musings

It's quiet around here today. We went shopping early, 9:00 AM, and it was apparent that those who were going to celebrate the day were still sound asleep. That's a bad choice of words isn't it? "Celebrate the day". But, that is what will happen today. The fairgrounds are ready for a crowd on this last day of the fair.  With all of this sunshine there will be plenty of barbecues going this afternoon.

Some people that will not be 'celebrating' can be found at the downtown Plaza. Laying on the grass with a bedroll for a pillow. Some will have a dog with them. I know of another that has a cat that stays on his shoulder when traveling. Some will be drunk. Most all will be hungry - and sick. I know some of the veterans that are living rough, here, on the Plaza that has a large memorial to honor veterans at one end. Clyde is one of those veterans; Marine Corps in Vietnam. He has a dog and a guitar and a cup for donations. He also has a wheelchair. He had back surgery at a VA hospital in Sacramento not too long ago. He was discharged back onto the streets. He made it back to Chico and reclaimed his dog from friends. Now he sits and plays and talks. The police will come by every few hours and roust every one of them and the Plaza will be empty. It will fill back up again. Then the police will come. It's like a dance...

Back in the day; I was in the Navy for no good reason other than the fact that I was bored. Three of us joined together so that we could endure boot camp with a friend alongside. Two of us went to Hospital Corps School and our friend went to Electronics School. After graduation and now a Hospitalman, I was sent to Camp Lejeune, NC. North Carolina was not a good place to be in the late 50's and early 60's. And Camp Lejeune, home of the Second Marine Division, was not exactly a welcoming home for a sailor.

Once on base and working at the Naval Hospital, I learned some basic safety rules; never wear your uniform off base and never go to J-ville (Jacksonville) alone. Navy or Marine; we weren't welcome. And if you were a Black sailor or Marine, you might as well stay on base.

During my time there, there were at least four 'World Crisis' alerts that closed the base to all traffic and had the 6th Marine Regiment, our neighbors, out onto the beach and ready to board Navy troop transport ships. Twice, they actually boarded and set sail, only to return a few days later. Everyone was becoming interested in world affairs as it was obvious that 'peace time' was coming to a close.

Near the end of my tour of duty, the officer in charge of re-enlistment summoned me to his office. I  wasn't surprised and I had already made some inquiries into various schools that were available for someone that re-enlisted. We met and he told me about the STAR program, Selective Training And Re-enlistment. The Navy would pay me some great amount of money and send me to any school I wanted as long as I signed up for another six years. I wanted to do it and I had already decided on the Aviation Medicine School at Pensacola. Then I asked if I would be assured that I wouldn't have to stay at Lejeune, normally a four year duty station. I had only served two years there and wanted out! He reluctantly told me that he couldn't guarantee that but I shouldn't worry about it. Well, I was worried, as I wanted out. And I knew that if I stayed I would be put into the FMF which is where you get to learn battlefield medicine and other fun things. You even get a new seabag, filled with Marine Corps uniforms, just for you. The enlistment officer and I had several more meetings with the same results. So I left the active duty Navy and become  Reserve; at home. It was October of 1961.

Unknown to most of America, the war in Vietnam was just starting to heat up. It was known at Camp Lejeune. And in 1965, when I was given my final discharge papers, that war had indeed become very warm. I had made  the right choice when I gave up the school and re-enlistment bonus money. Blessed is a good word for that.



Monday, May 18, 2015

It's been awhile

It has been close to a month since the last time I posted here and during that time I have visited with my new neurologist - new to me -and found him to have great skill in developing a good patient/doctor relationship. I like him. He has a clinical psychologist in his office and she assured me that my memory problems were absolutely normal for my age and I didn't need to worry about dementia or Alzheimer's. I will be seeing him again in a few weeks to find out the results from the blood tests he had ordered for me.

In the meantime I have been going to the rehab center where a physical therapist pummels me into submission each time we meet. He says he's loosening up my hip. I hope it works!

I completed a 5K walk a few weeks ago and got my t-shirt. Did it 1:10 faster than the last one. And I didn't fall over; a good thing. The balance problems don't seem to strike when I'm walking somewhat straight. It's only when I turn my head quickly. So, I didn't look back to see who was close to me as the finish line came into sight.

The local art center, where I meet with 8 other artists on Tuesdays, puts out a newsletter every month and each issue spotlights a local artist. The next months issue will feature me and my art. Another local artist came over to interview me and take photos of my work for the newsletter. I think I'm the first featured artist that is an abstract expressionist.

Memories; Mrs. Burt, my seventh grade teacher at Pacific Ave. school in Manhattan Beach. She was flamboyant to say the least. She wore red dresses and bright red lipstick. Her hair was long and black and she loved life; it was so evident! She was also my salvation. She recognized that I was quite bored with class work. I really did "know it all" and was tired of having to listen to lessons about things I already knew about. So she rescued me by having me become the school AV expert and I would go from class to class and setup the projector and the screen and then show movies. Once the film was running, I could step outside the classroom and read the books I enjoyed. Then she made me  a 'Hall Monitor'; a position that allowed me to be outside the classroom for at least 15 minutes for each period. But the best thing she did for me was to plant the seed of 'Art' within me. She showed me that beautiful art could be found anywhere and everywhere. There were no limits as far as she was concerned. Art did not have to be on a canvas and hung in a museum.

It took me a long time but now I get to 'make art' just as she showed me so many years ago.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Memory; so very complex

A dinner conversation about my glasses. It seems as if they are always smudged. Then, a comment about how my glasses were always covered with dark flecks back back in the days when I was working with my tools. Then I remembered; most of the dark flecks were from the cheap paint on the  3/4" cold rolled channel we used for ceiling construction. The other spots were more permanent; sparks of hot metal burned into the glass when I was welding and didn't get my hood down in time as the arc began to flare. I remembered the cost of new glasses when the spots became too numerous and vision was impaired.

Only a minute had passed since I had commented on the smudges on my glasses. In that small amount of time I had gone back in time to the late 70's and the 80's. And had placed myself on a scaffold, 40 feet above the ground during a cold winter day.

It's all part of growing old. A comment or the sight of something vaguely familiar will trigger the most intense memories. Sometimes I will see a face in the crowd that closely resembles someone I knew 40 years ago. But...it can't be. They haven't aged at all? A few times I stopped myself, just in time, from walking up to them and saying "Hey! remember me?" A close call!

I saw our doctor last week and I asked him about memory; both the long term and the short term. He told me that what I was experiencing was normal, and from his observations, I was not in any danger from Alzheimers or dementia.

I've decided to enjoy the memories. I can't go back in time but I can bring those memories back to this present time.

At the meeting with my doctor I was proud to tell him that I had lost 56 pounds since August of last year. Also, that I was going to do another 5K walk. Just for the t-shirt of course. I will be doing that this Sunday.

To conclude our meeting with my doctor, he gave me referrals to the out-patient physical rehabilitation department of our local hospital. That's to help me combat the balance problems I have these days. My right foot was affected by the spinal surgeries I had  and has a tendency to do what it wants, That, and neuropathy for the right foot makes balance an iffy proposition when I'm tired, And I have a referral to a neurologist as well and for the same thing.

I went to the out-patient department today to set up the appointments and there I was, in a building that I had helped to build 25 years ago. Apparently the building had changed hands and was now the property of the hospital. More memories! I can't seem to escape them...but that's certainly better than the alternative!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our very own volcano...

Sometime in the near past, I read the story of Mt. Tambora and its eruption in 1815. It was an interesting story that explained the Year Without Summer, 1816. That frigid summer caused so much death and misery around Europe and the New World and all from a volcano in Indonesia. A volcano that a starving Irish peasant had never heard of.

Now Chile and Argentina are suffering from the near effects of the recent eruption of Mt. Calbuco. Tons of ash are already in the upper atmosphere and subject to the winds that sweep from west to east. But...maybe the eruptions will end soon and the effects will be minor. It's happened in the past.

Here in Butte County, I can stand up from my seat here at the kitchen table and look out the window to the northeast and see Mt. Lassen, a real live volcano and it's less than a 100 miles away; maybe 60 miles? It last erupted in 1914-1921 with a major eruption on May 22nd of 1915. The 100 year anniversary of that event is less than a month away. I'm not really worried (should I be?) as the USGS monitors the whole of Lassen Park for any increase in volcanic activity.

My wife and son have climbed to the top of Mt, Lassen and described it as thrilling. I was away on business or I would have joined them. We've been to Lassen Park in the winter and seen the plumes of steam rising from the vents in 'Bumpass Hell'.

The evidence of volcanic activity is all around here in Butte County. Even the buttes themselves are formed from volcanic basalt. The fields around here are littered with small chunks of lava that make them unsuitable for anything other than grazing. The residents of Paradise, a small town just east of here, routinely use dynamite to 'dig' holes for the planting of trees. A cap of lava covers the whole ridge and it won't yield to a shovel.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Vertical swimming

Friday has come and it's on its way out. And Fridays mean time in the pool for me. I am certain that I am an imposing figure as I stand close to the edge; flotation belt securely fastened around my middle, webbed gloves for more 'traction' in the water, headphones with my Sansa Clip holding all my music securely fastened to the headphones with rubber bands and a hat crammed down securely over the headphones so that my music doesn't get wet. I'm ready for 30 minutes of 'deep water aqua jogging', or vertical swimming as I call it.

Back and forth for the length of the pool. Over and over. I couldn't do this if I didn't have my music to cut through the tedium of it all. I have the music set to play randomly and that adds some minor excitement as Santana plays a set followed by Charlotte Church followed by Little Richard followed by Randy Newman...you get the picture.

And of course my mind wanders for the 30 minutes of boring exercise. I think there's something to be said for the 'wandering mind'. Being old, 74, I get to dredge up all sorts of long term memories. Short term, not so much. So for 30 minutes I get to wander through the memories of my teens, the twenties and thirties, the workplace and memories of watching my children grow. Yes, my wife is included in these memories; that goes without saying. I certainly didn't raise three wonderful children by myself. I also spend some time solving the worlds problems. But, important as that is, it's not as much fun.

I started the day without my usual cup of coffee as it was time for the 6 month checkup and I had to go to the lab for the blood draw. It's a 'fasting' blood sample that's needed so no coffee till that was done. I was lucky, it was 6:30 and I was first in line and first out, heading home for the needed cup.

I will be seeing my PA next week and I want to be sure I tell him about all the the health items that concern me. I'm writing them down and will email the list to him. Hopefully, he will have time to read it before I show up. The only hard part of this plan is the fact that I don't always remember what those items were. I have a feeling that 'memory problems' will be top of the list. Followed by neuropathy, balance, memory problems and how much longer do I have to take Neurontin?

I said memory problems twice because I just took a look at my previous posts and I have been repeating myself at an alarming rate. Sorry about that...


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Relief

Ah! Relief is here at last. The last steroid injection has done its magic and I can go to the gym once again.

I need to keep going on this fitness craze of mine; who knows when it will suddenly stop and you find me eating Butterfinger ice cream once again. Plus, I have another 5K race next month and I want to make a respectable showing. I made it down  to 191 pounds last week  and that's good enough. I can eat to stay at this level. But...I have grown quite fond of a certain brand of rice cake so it will still be my choice for a snack.

I've been spending a lot of time scanning the old family photos. The amount of images that I own staggers me and yesterday I took most of the unscanned photos off of my desk and put them away for now.

My fourth grandchild, my granddaughter #3 is a high school junior and is taking a class in photography for the second year. She has become quite good at restoring damaged photos and so I have her working on a dozen photos left by my great uncle. He was in the Army Balloon Corps during WW1; the war to end all wars. The photos show some of the balloons used as well as the terrible damage done to Ypres in Belgium. He also had some photos of the USS Mt. Vernon. The Mt. Vernon was a captured German luxury and was used to ferry troops home from the war. Wikipedia has an interesting story about the ship.


These are the photos before retouching via Photoshop





Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ouch!

The pain in my right hip has finally been identified and treated. It's been hurting me for the past 6 weeks or more and increasing in pain levels during the past two weeks. I finally got in to see my favorite pain doctor and she wasted no time in diagnosing the pain as an inflammation of the SI joint. Sacro-Iliac to most people. She made my day by telling me that I looked like I was in a lot of distress and she was going to see if she could fit me in right then for the treatment. She did just that and in a few minutes I was laying facedown on the treatment table. She uses ultrasound to guide the needle in to place. Like most doctors, she told me that I would feel 'a little pinch'. A pinch? Maybe a pinch by a gorilla! I gripped the edge of the table as hard as I could until she told me it was all done. A corticosteroid had been injected into the joint and I should start feeling the effects within a week.

It looks like I have my life back. I was taking an awful lot of pain meds during the past two weeks.

And, although the steroids do a great job, they aren't a permanent fix. I now have 3 different sites that have been injected. It's like driving a car that has 3 recapped tires. Wait...how many people even know what a recap or retread tire is?

The big news here is the drought. Now classified as California's worst drought in over 1,000 years. Well, we are breaking a record; is that a plus?

Now that the governor has declared a mandatory 25% reduction in water use we will see the lawyers rushing to defend the rights of their clients to use as much water as they want. The oil industry is going to be targeted as a water waster. Supposedly, they use 200 million gallons a day for fracking. Water that is now hopelessly contaminated. Another target will be the corporate farms that are able to drill deeper and buy more powerful pumps to water their almond and pistachio orchards. These are trees that require more water than most and they were planted after row crops were dug up because the price for almonds and pistachios is so high now. In the lower San Joaquin valley, the ground is subsiding almost a foot a year in places as the supporting aquifer is drained. All very serious stuff and a lot of money is involved. Although agriculture uses 80% of the water here, they only contribute 2% to the states GDP.

One of the more powerful sectors of the economy is technology. And strangely enough, no one seems to notice the amount of water used in microchip manufacturing. Here is a fine article that details the amount of water used in a 'Fab' or a 'Super fab'. These fabs can use between 2 to 4 millions gallons of water each day. These microchip foundries also use an inordinate amount of power. Here is a report on that.




Saturday, March 28, 2015

Say Cheese!

I'm sitting in the living room, perched on my chaise and trying to keep my mind focused. I have my faithful cat sleeping and hogging all of the space around my feet. Well, one foot on the chaise is about all I can manage right now. The old Piriformis nerve block is still a problem but I will see the doctor next week and I hope to get an early appointment for the new block. In the meantime I take far too many pain meds. But I used those meds this morning to make it possible for me to get in half an hour of deep water jogging at the gym. Walking was painful but the water and the meds combined to make it possible, and pleasant, to get in some much needed cardio.

Memory. Why is it going? And when will it all be gone? My short term memory loss is becoming a problem for me. I can't begin to recount all the episodes of memory loss I deal with every day. So far it's all lightweight stuff; nothing life threatening...yet. I keep telling myself that it's all normal and I will know when to ask for help. But will I? I have couple of lightweight pocket recorders; maybe it's time to put new batteries in one and start carrying it with me. I could record my name and address on it and then use it to record any memory joggers I might need during the day. "Buy gas for the car" or "Take your library books back".

Long term memory seems to be functioning quite well. My mind spends a lot of time 'back in the day'. I'm helping with that by cataloging the many photos we have. I'm scanning all the photos I consider worthy of being included in the digital photo album. And every photo brings a flood of memories with it. I've been working on this cataloging for years and I doubt that I will finish before I die. Sorry, kids, I tried.

I have thousands of photo that are digital and thousands more that need to be scanned and become digital. And I am the kind of collector that needs to collect everything. It's my ASD and that is also the reason for the 20,000 plus music files that I have collected. On the plus side, it does keep me out of trouble. Also on the plus side is the fact that Amazon Prime members can store as many image files as they want in the Amazon 'cloud' and all for free. I'm up to 73,127 image files and there will be more for sure.

Just to be clear; I don't have 73,127 photographs. a good portion of that number is taken up by my collection of the works of many artists. Those images are usually JPG files and Amazon treats them the same as any other JPG file. Thank you, Amazon.

I may have mentioned that I enjoy talking with a retired architect when I'm in the pool at the gym. We have common interests and memories of the construction of buildings, both large and small. After each conversation I regret not being able to find any photographs of the construction projects I hd been talking about. Cameras were not commonly seen on construction sites back in the last quarter of the past century. Cameras were only used to gather evidence of some wrongdoing on the part of the contractor or the subcontractors. Naturally, someone with a camera was suspect. It was only after I became a superintendent that I was free to take photographs wherever I wanted.

I certainly regret not having a camera with me during the first decade of my career as that seems (to me) to have been the most exciting part of career. That might have been because safety standards were mostly non-existent at the time. Hard hats were for sissies and don't even think about wearing a safety belt!

During my cataloging I have found a few photographs of my time in the Navy. Certainly not as many photographs as I would have liked. It's the same for the high school and junior high years. Imagine having an iPhone back in the 50's! Now imagine two of them...you have to have someone to call.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Keeping up with the times

I will be 75 in September and apropos of that I was looking at some photos (of me) that my daughter took just the other day. Yikes! I'm an old man!


I don't feel like an old man. Well, maybe slightly. I'm sitting on my chaise while I type this because my hip pain has returned with a vengeance. Mentally, I think I'm young. If not young, certainly not as old as the guy in the photo.  

One reason that I think I'm young mentally is that I embrace technology. I'm sitting here with an Apple MacBook Pro on my lap. I just wirelessly printed a chicken cacciatore recipe and heard the printer spring into action in the other room. My iPhone is charging its battery right now. My Kindle was used at the gym this morning while I was waiting for the swim time. During my workouts I have a Sansa Clip to deliver music or podcasts to my headphones. I downloaded the above photos from my daughters Facebook account and then cropped and edited them before posting here.

Okay, so what? Millions of elders do the same thing and more every day. But some important people don't do any of the above and are quite proud of the fact. Of course they are Republican lawmakers; Senators McCain, Lindsey Graham, Pat Roberts, Richard Shelby, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Shumer and probably a dozen more that were sufficiently ashamed and didn't reveal their stupidity to the press.

These are the people that make hard decisions about everything under the sun and they can't even email someone? This is the the 21st Century and they are stuck in the 20th...or 19th. The fact that they are acknowledged Luddites should be enough to have them run out of office.The question is; what else don't they know?




Running?

Sadly, it has started. And we are only into the 3rd month of 2015. Ted Cruz has grabbed the steering wheel and is now driving the Republican Clown Car in the race to the candidacy . I think Donald Trump is acting as navigator and occasional relief driver. I hope there's enough room in the car for all the candidates. But, of course there is! It's a Clown Car after all...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dry

Dry and drier. We saw some clouds today and there was a very light sprinkle of moisture that lasted less than 15 minutes. Nothing else is in the forecasts. There is no snow to measure and some experts are saying that California has just one years worth of water left. Things are going to get ugly here in the West. The western states have a historical record of water wars and the coming years 'wars' may eclipse all the previous water wars.

Sadly, the state doesn't even have an accounting of how much groundwater is in the state nor does it know the locations and volume of any aquifers. Water 'rights' in the state are extremely vague and written more than a century ago. They were written to protect the water needed for the mining interests at that time...think 49'ers. Lawyers and judges will be very busy this year.

Why haven't the 47 Senators that signed the seditious letter to Iran been threatened with arrest? I'm not so gullible that I believe that they would actually be arrested. But I do believe that the Attorney General and the President should make it clear to the 47 that they have crossed a line. I think that the rest of the world is watching.

Very Local news...our fence is falling down. We have about 175 feet of old (13 years?) wooden fence that has seen the last of its life and is in danger of falling over. When we lived in Orland we had similar situation but a providential wind storm blew the fence over and our insurance paid for it's reconstruction. I don't see a fierce wind storm in our immediate future so I'm calling the local contractors and asking for bids.

The weight loss program continues. I'm close to 195 now. I would be feeling great if it weren't for the fact that the right Piriformis nerve block I received about 6 months ago has faded away and I'm at the mercy of the 'Pain Monster'. I knew that the block would only be good for a limited time but I was hoping that I might be the exception. Wrong. So I have an appointment with the pain doctor in about two weeks; I'm back to  using more Norco than usual for the time being. I normally use 6 to 8 a week and now it's 4 or 5 a day. I haven't stopped going to the gym though; the gym is my salvation! I'm up to 5 days a week now and three of those days I use the pool as well as the gym. Don't think that I'm one of those 'gym rats' that spends hours and hours in the gym; admiring their own pec's and lat's. I'm into cardio health exercise and doing something to keep my COPD at bay. I'm into flexing my lungs and not my biceps.

We are also looking at removing our lawns and putting in drought resistant plants.  Lawns are not natural. I've been saying that for years and only once have I been successful at making that argument work for me. My wife has always loved a lawn so we have had one for most of our married life. But one time, in Roseville, I was able to convince her that the front lawn should go. And it was gone; replaced by beautifully designed drought resistant landscaping. When we sold the house we assumed that the landscaping would remain; but no, the new owners (the bank, because the initial buyers faced foreclosure within 6 months) paid to remove it all and install a lawn. Both sad and stupid. But this time I already have her support for the lawn removal. Our daughter owns a nursery so we should get a good deal on the plants and we will save all sorts of money because we can cut off the expensive lawn service we are using. Mow and blow. That's what they do.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Oops. High drama at the airport

A few weeks ago we went off to Arizona, Cave Creek to be exact, to spend a week with my sister and brother in law. Despite my increased good health, flying is the only travel option for the two of us. When I first retired I promised myself that I would never darken the doorway of an airport again. The years of business travel had taken its toll on my psyche. So much for promises...

We bought our ticket early for a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to Phoenix and back at 1/2 price! Southwest is not the airline it once was, back in the 90's, but it's hard to beat for value.

On travel day one we were at the airport around 10 in the morning and on a Wednesday the airport is fairly quiet. Almost enjoyable. Going through security we were shunted through a separate aisle and  given the 'preferred treatment' and never had to take our shoes off or be body scanned. We were smiling! We stopped at Peet's and bought a coffee apiece and a scone to share. I bought a cross word puzzle book and a copy of Mac World. (I'm hoping to accelerate my education all things Apple) We watched people as we sat in the comfortable departure lounge area. The airport was almost serene...and so were we.

Departure time came and we found some seats just aft of the wing. That's my preferred section to sit in as it takes awhile for the luggage to be unloaded and I would rather sit in the plane and wait for a awhile rather than stampede off and stand around the baggage carousel for half an hour. The flight was uneventful, a good thing, and once on the ground I contacted my sister and we texted back and forth as the plane slowly emptied. She told me that they would be waiting for us at baggage claim. All was cool...

At Sky Harbor, the Phoenix airport, you have to take a long, long escalator ride down to baggage claim from the arrival floor. We stepped on and began our long descent. Suddenly, very close to the bottom, a woman, ahead of us, fell backwards, towards us. The person ahead of me went down on top of her as the escalator kept on moving. Suddenly, I was down as well and felt someone landing on my back. The escalator kept moving. As I was falling, I remember thinking, among many other thoughts, that someone had to reach the emergency shutoff. Soon! There were probably 5 or 6 of us down and struggling to get out when someone, on the outside, grabbed the initial fallen lady by her feet and dragged her out. (she was very, very large) it was as if someone had removed a cork. We all spilled out onto the floor. Luckily, my wife, a petite 4' 11" had been pushed to the side of the escalator and had been able to hop over the over sized carry-on 'wheelie' that had caused the initial wreck. She was safely on the outside and fearfully watching the mayhem. Once on my feet and finding that I could still walk, I joined her and we quickly moved away from the scene and found my sister and brother in law just a few yards away and oblivious to the wreckage behind us. We told them our tale and on our return to the area not a sign that anything had happened there could be found. Odd?

I still find it hard to believe that no one was injured, seriously, in the mayhem. I know that I was stiff and sore for the next few days but no lasting harm was done.

The large lady and her luggage? Oddly enough, she had been sitting near us in Sacramento and we had watched her earlier as she had slowly pushed her 'carry-on' across the terminal floor. She was unsteady on her feet because of her size and we wondered at the time about her 'carry-on'. Someone had been asleep when she was allowed past the check-in area with that monster. Seriously, someone could have been killed.

ps
On our return to Sacramento we hesitated for only a moment at the top of the long, long escalator that takes you down to baggage claim. And there, over to the right and about 20' away was a bright  and shiny elevator. Empty and waiting just for us. We took it! It was the best ride on the whole trip!