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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Big Day

A big day indeed. Today I reached a goal of sorts. I have now lost 30 pounds. I'm at 215 and I was at 245 in July of this year. I am headed to my goal of 200 and below. That was the weight  I was carrying when I was training for another marathon; almost 6 years ago. And that was when my spine began  to give me such pain that I had to give up the marathon and ended up with my having four different spinal surgeries.

I know I won't be able to do another marathon, but I can dream of doing some 5K and 10K races. Unfortunately, I won't be able to do anymore racewalking. The racewalking stride puts a lot of pressure on the hips. In fact, it's the hips that drive the feet forward when you're doing that 'funny walk'. I'll give it a try, but only for a few minutes; I don't want to hurt myself and have to start over.

I lost the 30 pounds with exercise and my special diet. I eat less. I avoid snacks. I avoid most but not all sugars. I drink more water. That's it. Forget Paleo and all the other fad diets. Eat less. Exercise more. Works every time.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Facts

In a previous post I was talking about our local police force and how much money they make...the police here use scare tactics to convince the citizens that violence surrounds them and only a strong police force can keep them safe. Bull puckey!

Of course, the 'average voter' believes all of this and is quite willing to add more officers and more money to the police budget. No matter the cost! Local schools schools lack supplies but the police
have an armored vehicle for their SWAT officers. Makes sense...

I was wading through the internets this morning and across the following story...follow the link below.
americawakiewakie.com/post/97715879263/last-november-the-activist-post-ran-a-story-about

These are not made up stories. These are the same facts that I have been talking about (to friends and family) for over 20 years! Nothing has changed in that time. The police unions know PR and how to use it. I believe strongly in unions. I think the police need a union. But they need an honest union. That, they don't have.

Friday, November 7, 2014

More to come

Yes, two more years and we will be cheering or crying once again...

The election is over for now and now the pundits have even more to 'pundit' about. All these fresh new liars in Congress and so many lies to write about! Well, I'm not a pundit, just an ordinary independent voter. Being independent is the best! You can't blame me for anything. And about 20% of California voters are registered as independent, making California one of the smartest states in the nation. Looking at the election results, we have made progress in California by eliminating felony sentencing for drug offenses. Putting these people in prison made no sense and only harmed our society. No other state has done this and we lead the way once again.

I live in a bright 'Red' county and city, so it's only natural that local election results were not to my liking. The conservative winners for city council promised more jobs and more police protection as well as lower taxes. Of course none of them would give a statement describing just how they were going to attract new business or how to pay for a police force that is already paid in the top 25% of the state. Most policemen here make over $100,000 a year in salary and benefits. The last police chief makes $200,00 in retirement! The firemen make even more. Just off the top of my head, I would think that lowering taxes would be problematic at best, a disaster at worst.But these are Tea Party stalwarts and I'm sure they won't back down from their promise to lower taxes.

The local independent press, the one that conservatives hate; has an article about the latest demon capitalist; Jeff Bezos and his weapon of destruction; Amazon. The article was written by Jim Hightower and Mr. Hightower does have a reputation for playing fast and loose with the facts. Don't get me wrong, I get his newsletter and thoroughly enjoy it. He skewers people that deserve skewering. (is that a word?) Anyway, I had some problems with the article as I am a fan of Amazon and always have been. And I'm sure Jeff Bezos is a terrible person to work for. Which is why I wonder why the people continue to do so? Why don't they form a union and use that power to get what they want? Jim Hightower says that union busters are employed by Amazon to keep the employees from organizing. Mother Jones must be spinning in her grave to hear that workers are afraid to organize. (Google Mother Jones) There is no law against organizing as a union. Mr. Chavez ignored the threats and formed the United Farm Workers. He is honored today with a day of rest in recognition of his efforts.

No, I can't become angry with Amazon because of the way the employees are treated when the solution is simple. Stop coming to work for as long as it takes. Imagine what happens when Prime customers don't get their packages within two days. A work stoppage would change the way Mr. Bezos sees his employees.

Yes, it would require great sacrifice on the part of the employees. The history of the labor movement reveals just how dangerous it is to confront power. But the people who made that history, persevered and it's high time that others take up the good fight once again. This country needs it to happen.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Neuropathy and me

A quiet day here. I went to the gym and did most of the usual exercises. But while I was there I asked the sports physiologist there with the Senior Wellness program, if there were any good exercises that would help me with my recent? problem with a loss of balance now and then. I always recover quickly and have never fallen but it was worrying me. The day before, I had gone to our doc for a 6 month visit and I mentioned this problem to him. He told me it was probably due to the neuropathy I was enjoying in my right foot. Neuropathy caused by my back surgeries. He thought I should visit the local hospital for their outpatient service dealing in just this problem. (This story is getting convoluted but that is how my mind works these days.) Anyway, I thought I would try the gym first and maybe get lucky with just the right exercise. No such luck, but the swim exercise coach gave me some exercises to do in the pool. Oh man! I tried walking heel to toe as she instructed and I was lucky that I had the floats in each hand to keep me from falling over in the water. Apparently, I have very poor balance in a situation like that. I practiced for half an hour and she said she would have more exercises for me on Monday. Oh boy! I can hardly wait...not.

Another new thing in my life is a very red car. I bought a Scion Xb; a box on wheels. A lot of research went into that purchase as I had to be able to get into the car without hitting my head and without descending into the depths of the seat. Also, no climbing up into the vehicle; I had to be able to open the door and sit. Almost all car failed my tests. The Scion and the Cube were the only two choices I had and the Cube of 2014 is the last model year to be sold in the US of A. So, it was the Scion, And I like it. It's quick and it's maneuverable; getting into a tight parking spot is very easy. Best of all is the fact that it's red. Fire engine red.

We just finished voting today and our ballots will go out in the mail tomorrow. It's a tough year for the progressive voter in this county. The Democratic candidate for Congress is being ignored by the California Democratic Committee as she dares to be a candidate in a very Red part of the state. No support at all. That's another reason why I left the Democratic Party 10 years ago. That and the fact that they embarrass Progressives with their near Republican attitude.

There are 2 candidates for our city council that are Tea Party candidates and I'm afraid one will win. She's running with public safety as the main thrust of her campaign. She will try her best to give the police even more in the upcoming contract negotiations. We can't afford the police we have now. Our retired police chief gets $200,000 a year for retirement. Which is what he made before retiring. Their pay and benefits rank in the top 25 cities in the state and we're only a town with a population just under 100,000. Dozens of much larger cities rank below us. It's a crime!

Of course all the Tea Party types carry on about how dangerous  it is to be a policeman and they deserve more money because they put their lives on the line. Baloney. The police unions have the best pr in the nation. A carpenter, working in commercial construction has a better chance of not coming home at night. There are dozens of other occupations that are more dangerous than the policeman's. But who cares if a carpenter dies? No headlines there. I get a little worked up about this issue as I was a carpenter/lather and I saw two killed on the job and many injured. Hanging over the side of a high rise and guiding a crane as it drops a panel into a place next to you and where you will weld the connections; that's dangerous.

I never should have written anything about the election. I vote but it is so depressing and so is writing about it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Photos

I thought I would post some photos here, odds and ends I've collected since we bought the iPhones.

 Twin Lakes in a very dry state...probably 6' down

 My sister on the left and wife on the right as we slowly troll down the lake

 A 5 piece bowl set I made in a pottery class last year

 Collier's Hardware store in downtown Chico...wooden floors and a bit of everything

 My cat, Boo the Magical Cat. In her favorite pose

A crane at work on a new building at Cal State University, Chico. I could sit and watch this work for hours...even days. My memories are so vivid! I can see myself with my steel lunch box and a Stanley thermos. I have my hard hat on as well as safety boots. I will soon be putting a welding hood on as well as welding 'leathers' to keep from being burned by the hot sparks. I'm weighted down by the tools I will need. The crane swings a panels up and over to us. We catch the tag line and pull the panel in close to the building.We use clamps to secure it in place until we are ready to weld it. Using hammers and levers, we move the panel inch by inch  till it's at the correct height and it's plumb and level. Now we weld it into place, an integral part of the building. Darn it! I have to wake up and move on...

Recollections

Fall is here. Not that you would really notice it. Few leaves have left their homes upon the branches. The weather is hot to moderate and no rain in sight. Okay, a chance of rain next week. But I know how these 'chances' evaporate the closer we come to the appointed date.

Our trip to Twin Lakes is a memory now. A good one despite the poor accommodations. We all had fun and made jokes about the service or lack of it. After we came home I put up a review of Twin Lakes resort on Yelp; it was critical but fair. A few days ago I received a message from the NEW owners of the resort, apologizing for the poor experience. The new owners had taken over about 3 weeks after we had left. It was now obvious that the previous owners really didn't care about service; they were soon to be gone.

I'm still going to the gym 3 times a week for the Senior Wellness program. 30 minutes of resistance training and 1 mile on the treadmill. Then it's into the pool for 30 minutes of what I call vertical swimming. I have a flotation belt on and I wear swim gloves; with this setup I pedal and stroke back and forth the length of the pool. Water jogging.

I've lost about 22 pounds in the past 3 months and that's a good thing. My pot belly has just about disappeared. Luckily for me, the stomach muscles that I had developed over 50+ years in the construction trades had never deserted me. The fat had just accumulated on top.I still have 25 pounds to go if I want to return to my former training weight of 195...and I do. And since I can't run or walk very fast or far anymore, I must lose this weight by dieting. I would much rather run, swim or walk than give up my cookies. But I must; sob!

I'm still painting. I've entered some shows and put my name out there in the artistic community. I'm in the middle of an artistic funk right now; unable to complete anything. I must have a dozen unfinished paintings in my studio. One has wet paint on it which proves that I haven't given up yet.

This morning started off with a trip to Trader Joe's for milk and some low calorie cookies. But, seeing that it was Trader Joe's, I ended up with a few more items. Trivia fact; Trader Joe's is a German grocery chain. They operate under a different name in the EU. And they are very successful, worrying the likes of Walmart and Target.

In the past I may have (or not) talked about the fact that we are now iPhone owners and our land line is gone. In general, it has been a good move. Our phones rarely ring for political ads. Or any other ads. The perpetual commercial calls were the reason for the move to Apple; the FCC Do Not Call list is a joke. It never slowed down the calls and we registered our number at least 3 different times.

But, the move to Apple was not without its problems. I was a devoted Google fan and I had vowed to never own an Apple device. I relented only because Steve Jobs is no longer on the planet And it was time for me to see what new things Apple has to offer...you see, my first computer experience was on an Apple 2E and I liked it. But Apple changed and Jobs' position on open platform drove me to pc's very soon after. In fact it was the snooty attitude of an Apple salesman, back in 1993 that made me exit the store and go directly to an Epson dealer the very same day. (Epson made computers for awhile in the 90's. Today, I have an Epson printer on my desk.)

Back to iPhone problems; we installed the dreaded iOS 8 and then the problems grew. When one of us received a call, both of our phones would ring. We assumed that would be an easy fix; it was not. We were on the phone with Apple service for 3 days, hours at a time. I won't bore you with the details. Finally, a supervisor took over and fixed the problem in 10 minutes! Which makes you wonder why they ever hired the 4 or more techs that had 'handled' our problem up to that time.

Now that I've started this post, feel like continuing, but it is time for lunch. maybe I will post some more after lunch.
  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dry and drier

Drought. That's all we hear about these hot summer days. The local news delights in showing us parched reservoir and empty stream beds. Another favored news site is either Lake Oroville or Lake Shasta. Each week there are videos of the latest man made object to appear as the waters recede. Bridges, old railroad tunnels, the bases for transmission  line towers, the footings for old houses, churches and markets. They are all surrounded by the cracked mud of the former lake bed.

Still, despite all the evidence, there is no overall plan for the state to use if and when the next dry year appears. This state doesn't even have an accounting of how much groundwater is available. If next year is going to be dry, we are really in trouble. The promised 'El Nino' event is slowly becoming undone and that usually means little or no change in the drought for next summer. Woe is us!

I'm just back from a mini-vacation. We went to Twin Lakes, in the Eastern Sierra's, above the town of Bridgeport. The plan for our short vacation was to spend some time with my sister and my brother in law. We had a cabin and it had a kitchen plus 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Nothing else. When we went down the lake, Lower Twin, we found the lake level was down by about 3 feet. That meant that we had to traverse an area of rocks and steep bank to get close to the water. We tried a place that looked halfway accessible but found it too dangerous. I'm simply not able to do the things I once did at this same lake when I was 10, 20, 30 or 40. Plus, I was hampered by my COPD. We were at 7,100 feet and my blood/oxygen percentage was down to 88%. I was muddle headed and unsteady. An accident waiting to happen. So we rented a fishing boat, an 18 foot pontoon boat with a sunshade. Now we had a steady platform from which to fish. And the second day gave me a boost as my body recovered somewhat and I had a blood/oxygen level of 92%; much better!

I love the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. They are still pretty much undiscovered. The landscape is rugged and not serene. Trees are scarce.Granite boulders are common. To the east, the desert shimmers in the heat waves. We used to camp in these mountains and I would hike to distant streams and catch native brook trout, releasing them after a good fight. There are hidden hot springs and great stands of quaking Aspen. The towns are all small with few services. For instance, we wanted to buy some Squaw bread in  Bridgeport but the bakery had closed after Labor Day and wouldn't reopen till the spring. The winters here are brutal as the valley itself is at 6,000 feet and snow tends to drift as the winds are unchecked across the valley. Yes, it's my kind of place!

Friday, August 22, 2014

My cat, Boo the Magical Cat

She hops lightly onto the bed and then onto me. She quickly settles down and we usually fall asleep at about the same time. If I’m already asleep when she discovers me, she can slip up onto my stomach so quietly that I never know she is there until I wake.
Dogs, cats…they are simply animals that we can love for a short time and then they are gone. Trust me, there are never any winners if you decide to get into a war over pets and how they are treated. Some people think that pets are close to human and treat them so, adoring them and giving them all sorts of wonderful gifts. But, in truth, the pets are the gift to us.
So I enjoy the gift of Boo the Magical Cat while I can, knowing that she won’t be with me forever and some other cat will take her place, ad infinitum. I should mention that when I hold her close to me and look into those fantastic cat eyes, I see nothing there. No spark of human intellect. We’re from different tribes and although we can connect on an emotional level, it ends right there. She will never be able to answer my questions. Sigh.
Humans. We’re so darn complex! And still so elementary. We could be the most powerful force for good that the universe has ever seen, but we have decided to become the exact opposite. All because of ‘tribalism’, the curse of mankind. In the figurative Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve didn’t discover good and evil, they discovered that they were different from each other; that’s tribalism at its root and the good and evil came about immediately afterwards. Tribalism breeds evil. Us against them. From the playground to the battlefield, it’s exactly the same.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

a need for speed

It’s been awhile since I last posted something here. There’s just too many things happening in my life and finding some time to write is close to impossible. I think my medications may have a negative impact on my creativity and that would account for the long stretches of silence for this blog. I do take Norco in the evenings and that slows me down physically while the same drug wires me and makes ‘thinking’ a tough slog. But I digress. I do have time to write today and I might as well get to it.
What’s on my mind? The internet and its speed. We have DIRECTV for our entertainment needs and it depends on AT&T for On Demand offerings. We also have a Roku device to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime. All of these entertainment functions depend on the high speed delivered by the ATT modem. Which it doesn't deliver. A familiar complaint for most of us. Sigh.
Now I could switch my internet needs to Comcast where speeds are close to 3x times that which ATT delivers. But I hesitate. Comcast is evil. Since corporations are people I find myself not caring for this particular ‘person’. I think ‘he’ is a bully. A greedy bully and I would rather not give him any of my money. Now here is where I’m stuck. It’s Comcast or ATT. Both are evil. There are no other contenders for my fortune in this area.
As I stated, I’m particularly incensed by the slow internet speeds offered by both of these companies. You see, I once spent a week in the offices of ADP; the payroll people for the nation. I was taking a class in their Georgia headquarters and we were given access to T1 lines while we were there. T1, T2 and T3 lines are very, very fast. If you've never used one you wouldn't believe how fast they are. And once you have used one you will never get over the fact that you are stuck with third world internet for as long as the corporate ‘persons’ of ATT, Verizon, Comcast and others can milk this cash cow.
What speed do we get? We average download speeds of – 4 mbps. I just checked the speed a minute ago and it was 2.56 mbps. On the 17th at this same time I was able to get 5.04 mbps. AT&T tells me that I can expect UP TO 6 mbps. The speed is not guaranteed and I've never seen it even close to 6. As a nation we are in tenth place among them when measuring download speeds. We average 10.0 mbps. South Korea is #1 with an average of 21.9 mbps
What do I propose? I see the internet as a valuable public utility. Let’s cut the crap. The internet belongs to us; the people. We gave a license to these corporations to operate the internet. We need to take it back and set some rules and guidelines as to how it should operate. This is the Information Age. A time more important in human history than the Industrial Revolution. More important than the printing press and the revolution that followed that invention. This is not the time to deprive the people of their own treasure; the internet. The welfare of the people depends on it. The internet brings us knowledge and that is more important than ships and tanks and guns. We can’t allow knowledge to rest in the hands of corporate ‘persons’. Cities, towns, counties and States should take responsibility and ownership of the internet in the name of the people. It needs to be free, just as the streetlights and streets are ‘free’. The public is already paying for the internet but making that payment to the wrong people. What kind of an internet do you think we could have if we took just half of what we pay the ‘Persons’ now for the service and used it for ourselves?
Will it happen in my lifetime? Will the people of this country and a hundred others finally see that others are taking what is rightfully theirs, the internet, and stealing money from them by charging them to use it?

http://www.netindex.com/download/allcountries/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Internet_connection_speeds

That’s probably enough ranting. If I move on to some other subjects I run the risk of repeating some posting of months or years back. Memory; I miss it so, now that it is gone…

Friday, June 6, 2014

Graduation day

It's been a long time since I last wrote something here. I'm seeing the same thing happening with my Journal. I used to write in  it daily and I would write a full page or more. Now, I'm lucky if I write a paragraph every week. Aging? Of course, everything is aging. From the time I get up in the morning with whimpers until I fall asleep at night with a sigh of relief. Maybe it's the drugs? I have this feeling that I would like to start this pharma experiment over again. Stop all of the various drugs and begin again with just one. But which one?

Still on the subject of aging; at 10 this morning we're going to our grandson's graduation from middle school. He's 13 and the our two youngest grandchildren are 11. In two years they will graduate and go on to high school. We have no babies to pamper! And all of this reminds us of how old we are.

Enough of that...We're still going to the gym on a regular basis and our mental processes seem to be fine enough. I paint all of the time but at a slower pace. I can't stand in one place for a long time without pain. When I paint with acrylics, I need to be standing, as I paint 'large'. I like a big canvas. 24"x24' at a minimum. My dream would be to have a 30'x10' canvas and all the paint I needed. With watercolors, I tend to paint 'small' and I can sit down to do that. Same with oil pastels. Although...painting a big canvas with oil pastels would be great fun! And expensive.

We had company over last night and I was very pleased when one of the guests took me aside when they were leaving and told me that he thought my paintings were beautiful. Now these were very abstract paintings and I had never heard anyone tell me they were beautiful. I had told myself that they were because I saw the beauty in them. For someone else to see what I had seen was most gratifying. And stimulating! I will return to my painting with a renewed sense of purpose.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Tell me

Like Mr. Kuralt, this is a question I have asked many times and I have never received a reply...name one conservative idea or project that moved this country forward? There is no answer possible. Conservatism is all about 'don't' while liberalism is about 'do'!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

odds and ends...again

I checked the obituary page this morning and it appears that I made it through another day. Alright! Do I really read those pages? Yes, I do. It's a morbid interest, I know, but it is interesting to see where I place in the various ages represented there. At 73.5 years of age, I'm approaching the 'average age' for demise.

But I'm trying hard to stay in shape. I'm enrolled in the Senior Wellness program at a local gym and that's a 3 day a week commitment. For approximately 1.75 hours per day. I do do weights and resistance for 30 minutes and the rest of the time is spent in the pool, doing water aerobics. I love that part!

And I'm trying to keep my mind active; I read and I do puzzles all of the time. Plus, I paint. I paint in acrylics, watercolors and oil pastels. I just started the oil pastels and I love the feel of them. I haven't sold many paintings lately... but then again, I haven't had many shows available.

And then there is programming. Our twin grandchildren live in Susanville and that is very poor city. The schools in Lassen County don't offer much in the way of computer science and I know that's something our grandkids will need in their future. The programming that I used to do is obsolete, but I did some research and found 'Scratch', a computer language for kids and it was developed by MIT. Great credentials! So I bought the books for them and had Amazon deliver them right to their door. The kids came down a few weeks ago and we spent some great time together, learning how to use the language. I'm hooked! And I can put together simple programs... a shark chasing a penguin across the screen... then download the project to my computer and email it to them. I ask them to modify the program; have the penguin jump and add an octopus.

I'm guessing that the programming is also helping to keep my mind in good shape. But, if that is true, why do I try and put the salt and pepper in the refrigerator? My sweater in the freezer? I do silly things like that all day long; or so it seems.

Another 'mind' thing. I have become very much attached to the memories I have of my youth. I collect old photos of Manhattan Beach. Old images of Los Angeles. Each image releases a flood of memories and I delight in them!

My collections are all a part of my Asperger's side. I collected songs and I now have, after editing, 26,663 recordings. My art collection, now cataloged, has over 7,000 images. My photo collection, which includes the Manhattan Beach photos, Old Los Angeles, Old Lassen County, Old Westwood, Chico, Old Roseville, etc, etc has over 2,000 images. Luckily, I don't collect cars; I just collect images of each and every make and model ever made.

Speaking of cars. I'm looking for a car that I can get in and out of easily. I have a Ford Ranger and it sits far too high for me now. I bought it before all of my surgeries and now it's a struggle to get into it. I don't drive it very much, maybe 30 miles a week. Whenever I have to take my pain meds, my wife drives me in her car. It's an Altima and very comfortable... once you get in. It's the getting in that's troublesome.

I'm going to go to the local car dealer and tell him what I'm looking for... make, model, color, economy, appearance, horsepower are all things I don't care about. I have to get in and out of it easily. It's that simple.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Seasons

I saw this image of the 'tops' a few days ago and I was reminded of school days. Elementary school days; that was long ago. At our school, Pacific Elementary in Manhattan Beach, there were seasons for our playground fun. There was a time for marbles and a time for yo-yo's. Time for tetherball and time for dodgeball. And then time for tops. Tops and and marbles were the most competitive and personal of games. Marbles were easily lost to a deadly accurate shooter. And tops were easily destroyed in a game where the sharpened spike at the end of the top hit your spinning top. You would take turns with one spinning first and then the other attempting to 'Spike' the spinning top by spinning it directly on top of the hapless top, breaking it in two. I remember being devastated when my brand new top was destroyed by the school bully.

Everything I know about violence in human nature I learned in kindergarten...and elementary school. Well, maybe not all. Some of it I am still learning.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Your Show of Shows

Saturday night with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. I watched this show regularly along with everyone else in the family. I wasn't quite a teenager at the time, though I was one when the show went off the air in 1954.

Imagine 90 minutes of laughs. All on live television! Sid, Imogene and the cast were simply genius! Even now; how many years later? Yes, 60 years has gone by and I still laugh just thinking about some of their skits. Most of the skits. All of the skits! Can you think of anyone alive today that would even consider doing 90 minutes of live comedy before a television audience of millions?

I wish that there were more shows like this available. The Bachelor? You must be kidding! The Biggest Loser? Not even close! I really miss the comedy and there is no show on TV that comes close to the Show of Shows. Saturday night TV is simply boring. Thank goodness for our Amazon account. We're just into the third season of Downton Abbey followed by an hour of Foyle's War. Amazon plus the DVR saves the day...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stormy weather

Our storm? is over. And we added almost 4" to the season rain total. That means that we are only 20" behind where we should be.

A personal storm story; we had gone to bed about 10 after listening to the thunder and watching the heavy rainfall. With my head on the pillow I was all set for sleep...but what was that noise? Was it the dishwasher? My CPAP machine? The freezer? I listened for close to half an hour before I got up to investigate. I looked out the living room window and saw that the back patio was covered in water and it was getting dangerously close to the door. Where was my flashlight? After locating the flashlight, I rolled up the cuffs of my pajamas and stepped out onto the patio; I was looking to see if the drain had become plugged. I shuffled along, trying to stay on the unseen stepping stones. The drain was fine but right next to it was a river of water coming from the land behind us. The river had created a small waterfall and that was the noise I had heard. Well, nothing to be done about it so I went back in and just kept a watch on the water level. About 15 minutes later the water began to creep away from our door. Back to bed.

Okay, I know it's not much of a story. People east of the Rockies have far more dangerous stories to tell. I know, I've been there. Went through a hurricane in 1961. That was in North Carolina and I remember it as being very impressive; watching small trees being uprooted and flying off vertically. Then there was Nor'easter in Connecticut in 1965. Loads of snow! We couldn't get out of our rooms for 3 days. (we were staying in a small inn at Bantam Lake while I worked a construction job in Waterbury) From 1977 to 1987 we lived in Janesville, CA at an altitude of 4,500'. I worked in Reno and drove there every day; 75 miles each way. And I did that summer and winter. I learned to tuck my truck in close behind the 18 wheelers so that they could create a path through the snow. I would use my CB and let them know where I was and I would keep an eye on their rear tires for them...if they weren't spraying water, we were both driving on ice.

Being 73 years old, I could keep telling winter weather stories forever, but I won't. I'm quite content to have a heavy rainfall as my 'big story'.

Now, have you heard about the earthquakes?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Auto Industry

Big news from the Detroit area...

"Thanks to record North American profits, the Detroit automakers plan to hand out checks totaling more than $750 million to about 122,000 workers. Besides Ford’s $8,300, the most ever by a Detroit automaker, Chrysler Group LLC is paying hourly workers $2,250. For new Ford hires, who are paid about half what senior workers make, $8,300 adds 23 percent to their annual compensation of $36,000.
If General Motors Co.’s payout surpasses $7,325 when it reports year-end earnings Feb. 14, that would top the cumulative record of $17,875 set in 1999, when Detroit was awash in sport- utility vehicle profits, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Center for Automotive Research."
These are Union jobs. Why wouldn't you want to be in a Union? Partners with the industry

Happy, happy, happy!

This is why I am so happy... RAIN

And some forecaster said Tahoe and north from there would/could see 4' of snow!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Precipitation

Finally! It hasn't been a big storm but it is a beginning. The next storm is expected tomorrow and that one will hang around for 3 or 4 days, dumping 1" to 3" of rain in the valley and ? inches of snow above 5,000'. I just checked the CalTrans cameras around us and I see snow at 4.500'. True, it's not a lot of snow but it's better than no snow. I'm sure my fellow citizens to the east of us would not agree with that last statement.

 I had to include a photo of the the moisture on the street. Big Whoopee!

I went out for coffee and conversation with my daughter; something we try and do every Thursday. After that, my wife and I did some birthday shopping for various family members. Everywhere we went we heard people exclaiming over the rain. Smile everywhere!

Back home and with my shoes off, I have been searching the web for news...nothing specific, just news. Sochi seems to be big news. Surprise? And just like every Olympics since 19??, the naysayers have horror stories to tell. Those who follow the Olympics seem to have selective memories. Beijing, Athens, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, etc, etc. All were predicted to be failures. For myself, it doesn't matter. I stopped being interested in Olympic 'Sports' once I attained an age of reason. I will be watching Season 3 of Downton Abbey. Now there is some entertainment!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My ordinary life

As I reported earlier, my sister has departed and is making her way, slowly, back to Cave Creek, AZ. They are visiting family in SoCal before making their way across the desert. I already miss her. We had some great conversations while she was here and I know we had lots more to talk about.

I have been watching the evening news and it's all about the storms that are hammering the country east of the Rockies. Here we are about to make weather news of our own. The Pineapple Express is in view! This is a series of moist, tropical, storms that will come ashore Wednesday followed by another on Saturday and Sunday. The snow level will be 2,000 feet and hopefully we will see Mt. Lassen cloaked in white when the storm passes. Perhaps there will be even more of these storms on tap...hopes and prayers abound.

With our visitors gone, I had no more excuses and made my way to the gym early yesterday morning. It wasn't as painful as I thought it might be. I spent more time than usual in the pool doing water aerobics. I really enjoy it. I can go back and forth across the pool, doing the various exercises while I let my mind drift to a comfortable place. Soon, I'm not aware of anything but the feel of the warm water flowing past me. Very Zen!

Have I mentioned our Kindle use? Well, both of us have one and my sister and brother-in-law have one. Some evening would find us all engrossed in a book. Four different books. The television would be off and we might spend a few hours this way before the silence would be broken. Our Kindles have become indispensable.

We did put away the Kindle's to watch the Super Bowl. We were fans of the Sea Hawks only because of family history. My mother was born in Seattle. The only football team that I care for at all is the Green Bay Packers. And that is because it's the only team that is owned by ordinary citizens...of Green Bay, WI. Plus, Aaron Rodgers is a native of Chico, CA, the town where I sit typing at this very moment. I guess that's a good a reason as any to be a 'fan'.

It's getting close to our 51st Anniversary and we will probably give each other...a 'Smart' phone. I already have an older one, a Samsung with an Android operating system. My wife wants to give up her clam,shell and buy an Apple 5s and although the thought of buying an Apple product is repugnant to me, I probably will do it. It makes sense, as the rest of the family has already fallen into the Apple trap and they will be able to help her through the first few months of the novice smart phone users trial and tribulations.

Truth be told, I am tempted to join her, just to see what all the Apple hype is about. But that would be surrendering to the enemy?! I'm going to have to look long and hard at the new Android models before making that decision.

When I type up the next post I hope to be looking through a rain streaked window at a fierce rain storm.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February

A beautiful day. Sunny and mild. A little frost this morning but I'm already in my shorts here at 10 AM. And of course there are no clouds in sight. Drought has us all scared. I know a lot of the country has been suffering from it for quite awhile and now we join them. I read this morning that Lake Oroville is only a 100 feet away from 'dead pool'; that's the point where water can no longer flow out of the lake and would have to be pumped. Lake Shasta is in the same condition, with old towns popping up every day as the water level drops. People with metal detectors are scouring the bottoms of dry streams, rivers and lakes. Low water at Folsom lake now reveals the town of Mormon Island and a full sized, all original, two lane concrete highway bridge. A bridge to nowhere.

My sister and brother-in-law just left after a 5 day visit. Very enjoyable! Yesterday, we toured the Sierra Nevada Brewery. That is something to see! We have lived here for 9+ years and never got around to taking the tour. At the end of the tour you are invited to sample 8, 2 oz servings of their different brews. Once again I regretted not being able to partake...they looked so good! But I didn't dare.

The day before our trip to Sierra Nevada, we went to the Abbey of New Clairevaux, just a 20 minute drive from here. A fascinating place, even though we were unable to have a close up view the Sacred Stones project. It was closed; darn it! If you watch PBS you might have seen a special on the great cathedrals of Europe and part of the filming included the reconstruction of the 800 year old Chapter House. It was truly amazing that they were able to find a stone mason with the expertise to 'see' the Chapter House in the pile of ancient stones that had been delivered from their last resting place; Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. William R. Hearst had given the stones to San Francisco when he abandoned his plans to rebuild the structure. And he had bought the entire building in Spain and had it shipped to him. A fascinating story!

The arrival of a dear relative gave us the impetus to explore our own neighborhood. We need her to come back more often. And to bring water... The long range forecast says, said, that February would be stormy. We need it! The snow pack is at 12% of normal and the whole state depends on that snow pack. True story; the state of California was primarily desert until the 'white man' came along and captured the snow melt and channeled it to towns and fields. We could easily see that desert again.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And so it goes...

The second day of the government shutdown and still the retarded tea party types hold John Boehner hostage. And in turn, John holds us all hostage. I understand that there are 30+ t-party fools that would never vote for a clean bill and yet the rest of the house lets them run things. Cowards. All of them. John Boehner especially so. And he will go down in history that way. The coward that refused to do the right thing because it might cost him his job as 'Speaker'.

The Affordable Care Act is the law. The House and Senate passed it. They funded it. The Supreme Court agreed. There are no 'Mulligans' with the law.

Although it is a terrible law; far too weak and certainly a god send to the insurance industry. We deserve a law that gives us single payer health care. Medicare for all of us. The rest of the world has it. Only they have it better. Our health care system has fallen further and further behind with each passing year, all because it is being sucked dry by the insurance industry. We no no longer have a second rate health system, we have a third rate one and it's falling fast.

If you think that the Affordable Care Act is 'socialism' and that Congress is filled with patriots; you are stupid. Too stupid to think beyond the end of your nose. And certainly too stupid to understand what is being said here...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just another day

The days go by too swiftly. I'm very close to being 73 and so the alternate, no more days, is on my mind more often. But...I'm trying to stay healthy despite the back surgeries. I go to the gym three times a week for the Senior Wellness program; That's an hour of gym work (cardio and strength) and then an hour of water aerobics. And I'm celebrating a full year of this routine. My blood pressure is now in the 120 range and I have a working heart rate of 118.

The gym gives me an abundant supply of endorphin's, so I should be happy...and I was until I saw the 35 year sentence for Bradley Manning. Soldiers convicted of murder get lesser sentences. And he gets no apology for the brutal treatment he endured for the years before his trial.

It looks like the NSA will be challenged on their stand that the 4th Amendment has no meaning for them when it comes to our phone records, our internet use and even our location; our cellphones rat us out every time with GPS technology. The Supreme Court, in the 70's, ruled that the police could legally observe the numbers being called by a suspect. That's a big leap from the technology of the 70's to now. It's no longer apples to apples. Yest, that's the case that the NSA uses when denying our rights under the 4th Amendment.

I try to avoid reading comments on the news blogs. Whenever I do I am amazed at the number of people who are quite willing to give up their freedoms just because 'the government' said it would be a good thing to do. Haven't they ever looked at the track record of 'the government'? The government, no matter where it is, is comprised of ordinary people making and enforcing rules. They are prone to making mistakes. And giving unlimited power to the NSA is a big mistake!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

4H

Yes, I'm a proud grandparent. The twins are down from Susanville for another week long visit and swimming lessons. But just before they arrived, they had to auction off their 4H pigs at the Lassen County fair. My granddaughter had a 240 pound pig and it was the 4H Champion and sold for $15 a pound! Thank you NAPA auto parts. My grandson had a 242 pound pig and it sold for $7.25 a pound.  The twins are ten years old and this is their first 4H/County Fair experience. (the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion pigs went for $10 a pound?)



Sunday, June 23, 2013

eye drops

More eye drops. It seems as if I have been using eye drops forever! All because of my recent cataract surgery for my right eye. You use them before the surgery and then for weeks and weeks afterwards. But I'm still wishing for a cataract in my left eye so that it can be removed and I can get on with life with brand new eyes. Maybe the doctor will spot a cataract during the next exam. I can always hope...

We live in a 'Blue' town located in a bright 'Red' county. And we have a budget crisis. Which was 'caused by the damn liberals' - of course. Sigh. The local newspaper, which I pray will fail soon, has scores of letters from the hate filled conservatives that love the forum given to them by the newspaper. What isn't mentioned is the fact that the city charter mandates a balanced budget on a certain date. That's nonsense and most cities have abandoned that kind of budgeting.You don't balance your own budget that way...why do we expect the city to do it?

Of course the main cuts will come from the police and fire departments. They make big bucks and so they will feel the heat on this. Policemen make an average of $97,000 plus benefits per year while firemen make $117,000 plus benefits. All of this in a city where the median income is $36,000.  But...with all of the vocal concern about public safety, those departments won't be too terribly inconvenienced in the end.

Of course I see the biggest problem here is the $36,000 figure. It needs to be $50k or $60k if you want a healthy economy. People are being forced to work longer and for less money all of the time. Yet the major corporations as well as the minor ones are sitting on huge piles of cash. Cash that could be used to create jobs. Didn't we hear that they were the 'job creators'? So where are the jobs? The well paying jobs?

The only well paying jobs here are the union ones. Police and fire unions. If there were more union jobs there would be more money in the economy instead of sitting in corporate bank accounts...getting .01% interest. what a shame...



Saturday, June 22, 2013

Global Warming?

I had heard that temperatures in Alaska were rising so I checked the temps in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Nome for next week using Weather Underground...try it yourself and see the results.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Keeping up

Somehow this post was stuck in the Draft section and I didn't notice it till just now. Old news from February...

No ax to grind and no windmills to tilt at. I'm just recounting my recent history, here on these pages. Our 50th wedding anniversary was last week (16th) and we had decided to give ourselves a trip. Because of my spinal surgery, I've found it hard to take a long trip in the car, so we decided to go to Monterey and see the aquarium there.

AAA provided the travel planning and we made reservations at the Spindrift Inn, a small hotel about 2 blocks from the aquarium. We requested an ocean view as well.

The weather wasn't cooperating and as the date moved closer we began to be worried. Forecasts showed only one day that was going to be clear. We told ourselves that an event like this only comes around once and we're going!

And so we did. The rain was furious as my wife drove us southward. Finally, about 3 hours into the 4 hour drive, the skies began to clear. When we pulled up in front of the hotel the sun was shining.

We were welcomed to the Spindrift and shown to our room; top floor, southwest corner, overlooking the beach and the bay, not more than 30 feet away. The windows were opened and  the sound of the surf was welcome music to our ears. There was also a fireplace and a canopied feather bed. We loved it all!

We went to the aquarium the next day and we were amazed by the things we saw. The buildings themselves are prize winning for their interior architecture. First on the list was the Jelly Fish exhibit and I wondered how could  that be interesting? I was overwhelmed by the beauty of these amazing creatures; and they come in every size and color.

The book

somehow I duplicate a previous post here... now it's gone.

Brasil

Congratulations to the people of the República Federativa do Brasil for demonstrating in solidarity against the excesses of their government. I wish them the very best of luck...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Books for a buck

My wife and I are proud owners of Kindle Fire HD tablets. We check out ebooks from the local library on a regular basis. We also read the free books found on-line. And so far the price for reading materials has been 0.00 (zero) and I thought that was a good thing. Then, upon the recommendation of my sister, I downloaded the free ebook 'Wool' by Hugh Howey. She was right and I enjoyed it but then I needed to buy a book, another book, if I wanted to continue the series. It was only $.99 for the second one and so I bought it. And the following books as well. All priced at $.99 except for one that required 1 payment of $2.99.?? Still fairly cheap. Then the series ended and I purchased a future book; to be published and delivered to me in August. I was truly well hooked on these books.

It hasn't ended. The author, Hugh Howey, has given permission to other authors, allowing them to use his story settings. Now there are dozens of short stories available that purport to carry the theme forward. Not all do. But they are all priced right at $.99. 

Okay, the Kindle can deliver plenty of free reading material as most public libraries are offering ebooks these days. But beware the 'free' book that hooks you...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Post surgery

A week has passed since I had my cataracts removed from my right eye. The surgery took a total of ten minutes and I was back in the car within 5 minutes after surgery. Amazing! 50 years ago I would have been condemned to blindness. My new lens is almost crystal clear now and I will be fitted with new glasses in a few weeks. Unfortunately, my left eye is only in a pre-cataract condition and so I must wait for it to become a medical necessity before I can have a second lens inserted and then throw my glasses away.

On the day after the surgery I went to my usual Tuesday morning at the Art Center where nine of us gather weekly. I had promised to bring along some Yupo paper for them to try and so I had cut up a couple of large sheets of the light weight Yupo.

After passing out the sheets I was happy to see one of our group had quickly become fascinated by the reaction of watercolors to the slick plastic surface. Yupo is a polypropylene plastic; created for use by the people that make  outdoor signs and posters. I think it was ten or more years ago that artists discovered it and some took it seriously. Slowly but surely the medium is gathering acceptance as a valid art form.

 I love using it because of the unexpected movement of color across its surface. I use a spray mister to wet the areas before applying color and then I drop or brush the color into the water. Once I see a form emerging I use a brush to guide the color where I want it. Sometimes I will let the incomplete painting dry and then re-wet the areas I want to work on by changing a color or even removing a color. Being plastic, Yupo doesn't allow colors to penetrate and if I wanted to I could put the painting into the sink and wash it clean. I frequently use paper towels or sponges to remove or fade certain areas of the painting.

Our painting group meets again tomorrow and I'm going to bring the half dozen paintings I have completed in the past week. I really got enthused again when a friend showed some interest in Yupo and so I pulled out all of my sheets of blank Yupo and even one painting that I wasn't happy with and I went to work. Now I have two incomplete paintings drying in the 'studio' and five waiting to be sealed.

It's hard for me to be a 'serious' watercolorist; painting flowers, birds or coastal scenes. But I do try. Then, every once in awhile, some Yupo is discovered in my stack of blank papers and I will go wild with abstract forms and colors that satisfy my soul.

Yupo is not my only outlet for abstract art but it is the only one that is small enough for me to take along to our art group. All of my other paintings (acrylic) are larger than my workspace at the Art Center. I have one, done with oil pastels on a large piece of cardboard, that is 30"x48" and one, a blank piece of MDF and that is 40"x60". I would like to work even larger but the size of my 'studio' prohibits it. Maybe some day...  

Here comes a thunderstorm. Lots of lightning and rain. Thank goodness it's a wet storm. The grasslands and forests here are dry as a bone and lightning is as bad as an arsonist...will the power stay on?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Life in the slow lane...

Another day at the gym. I'm doing okay with it. I get about an hour and a half of mixed cardio and core strength training. Then it's time for an hour in the pool. With weights on my feet. I try to exercise while I float about holding onto my 'noodle'.  It 's all good but nothing changes the pain in my hip and foot. The pain level goes up and down but never away for long. It's depressing at times and although I've taken my Wellbutrin for the day, I'm still depressed about it.

How can I be depressed when I have so many things to be thankful for? Must. Remain. Positive! I must remember that I'm lucky enough to have a pension from the Carpenter's Union and that, along with Social Security will always be there for us. As the deunionization of America continues, I have to wonder what will happen to my grandchildren and their children. Union wages provided an income that drove the economy and provided benefits, health care and retirement, that kept the union member off of the welfare rolls. Now what do we have? The wealth disparity continues to grow. Corporate coffers are filled to the brim with cash and job growth is anemic at best. Why isn't this front page news? Because the news organizations have abandoned their role in society. When was the last time you saw or heard of a first rate exposé? Edward R. Murrow is dead and Bill Moyers can't do it all by himself.

Mel Brooks is going to be celebrated tonight at the Kennedy Center. What a guy! I love everything he has done...and I was listening to a Fresh Air interview with him this morning. He's a genius! I remember his name from the times when he was writing for the Show of Shows with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Karl Reiner. Howard Morris.One night a week of fantastic comedy and I could hardly wait to see it each and every week. Now I have to make sure tonight's show at the Kennedy Center will be recorded. Priceless!

On another note; There's lots of controversy with the new DSM V. I believe it debuts the day after tomorrow. And all those with Asperger's will 'officially' disappear and have to be reclassified with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ignored. Since I never had to use any 'help' , it won't bother me. But those on the spectrum with more apparent autism will not be able to get all the help they might need. Or so I have been lead to believe...time will tell.

We have new living room furniture. Comfortable furniture and not necessarily the latest in style. With a limited number of years left we decided comfort should be our first priority. Yes, it it Lazy Boy but just one piece is a recliner and that's a special small one for my wife. She needs a small chair where her feet can touch the floor. This is one of the first ones we've seen that accommodates her. For myself, I have a modified lounge chair with just one arm so that I can sit and then swivel my legs up onto it.

Something I just read; a snippet from Who Hijacked Our country

Right now the Labor Relations Board doesn’t have enough members to even have quorum.  And Republicans are determined to block any and all nominees to serve on the board, just so they can keep the Labor Relations Board dysfunctional and unable to enforce the laws that protect millions of working people.

Bill Maher said:  “At some point it becomes more about hating Obama than loving our country.”

Michael Moore added:

“No, they hate America.  I think that’s really what it is.  Conservatives and right-wingers, as much as they profess to love this country, they hate it. They hate the government, they hate the people.”

Unfortunately I think Bill Maher and Michael Moore are both right.       Include me as well

okay, it was more than a snippet...and you can't cut and paste from Blogger without dragging the stupid formatting along with it. Dumb Blogger!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Home again

Just back from a trip to Arizona. Cave Creek to be exact as that is where my sister lives. We spent a week with them. I had hoped to gather some great photos of Saguaro cacti while we were there but most of my images turned out dull and lifeless. The Saguaro are magnificent and there are so many of them! We had been  to Saguaro National Forest many years ago and I presumed that the park was where they were all contained. Not so. They are everywhere. And maybe I can give some life to my images with some careful editing.
We departed from Sacramento International and their new terminal is fantastic. Great art and even great restaurants. It's too bad you have to have an airplane ticket in hand and pass security before you can dine. Nearby residents are out of luck.
Security. I simply numbed myself and made it through without any hassle. In fact they didn't even pat me down as they usually do because of my battery powered spinal implant. For an Aspergian the whole process is very disturbing even without being touched. On the way back, security was being overwhelmed by the crowds and it took much longer to get through. And once more I was ignored. And that's a good thing. Maybe they are used to seeing batteries and wires when they do the body scan?
Arizona's airport, Sky Harbor, is showing its age. Everything is dirty. And at 2 in the PM and on a Tuesday, the crowds were huge. That I didn't expect.
Now we're home and Boo the Magical Cat is happy once more. We left her in our garage (insulated) and had our granddaughter come over once a day to check her food, water and litterbox. I'm sure she was happier in the place where usually sleeps overnight and not in a steel cage.
Getting older. I went to the Dr. today for my pre-op visit before my cataract removal/lens implant surgery. They had to measure my right eye and they also used a 'ocular sonogram'. They place a soft cup like device on your eye and move it all around as the scan the interior of your eye. It wasn't a painful experience, just irritating. 6 hours later and I can still feel some soreness. I have an eye ache.
I've seen all the surgery videos on YouTube and so I am really going to interested as to how it is done with me. I certainly hope I be can awake for the procedure. Watching it all from the 'inside' should be quite an experience.
This surgery will give me, hopefully, near perfect distant vision for my right eye. The left eye is still free of clouding though it is 'pre-cataract'. I will have to wait awhile before I can have that eye corrected. Once it's done I will be free of glasses for the first time since I was 8 years old.
The national news. I've numbed myself from this as well. I know I will have to return to it but not now. I want to rest my mind and do some more painting. I bought a portable watercolor painting kit and I like the way it works. I may take some of those small paintings and develop them on a large canvas.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Voting

How? How in the world can the voters in the coastal district that includes Charleston elect Mark Sanford to be their congressman? Sure, it is their right to choose but it puts them before the nation as buffoons. South Carolina has made far too many mistakes like this for me to ever take them seriously again...buffoons they are!

On another note but related note...why didn't the Democratic Party do something for their candidate? She was left swinging in the wind by the Democratic heavyweights that should have come to her aid. The same thing happens around here and is one of the reasons I left the party.

Monday, April 22, 2013

More spam...

I just cleared out my comment section. 34 comments waiting for my review and they were all from Anonymous...spam is everywhere!

We just got back from a pilgrimage to the Temple of Wretched Excess, or as it is more commonly known...Costco. Despite my early morning workout I had some back pain and we thought it would be better to walk the aisles of Costco than to sit around whining. Since we really didn't need all that much we decided to prowl every aisle just to see what curiosities might be there.

Oh my! We got into the camping section and we were reminded of our early camping trips. We were in our late twenties and had three small children but we did love to camp. With a three room canvas tent from Sears, a Coleman stove and lantern, sleeping bags and assorted camp gear. What a chore! And camping today? It's very different. Everything is lightweight and self assembling. LED lanterns instead of Coleman lanterns with broken mantles. A camp stove that included an oven. What sissies!

Of course our camping experiences are almost 50 years old and we see it all in a very different way. A jealous way! Why wasn't this stuff around when we needed it? That old tent must have weighed 100 pounds. And how many broken mantles did I have to replace? The camp stove required lots of pumping to keep the burners going. And we were always running out of white gas.

Tomorrow is the day I finally get to see an ophthalmologist about the cloudiness in my right eye. There may be some in my left as well but it's not as apparent as the right side. Cataracts, I'm sure. And I want them fixed as soon as possible. But first I have to fly off to Arizona for a week to spend time with my sister and brother in-law who lives in Cave Creek. But as soon as I'm back, I need that surgery. Everything is a blur now and if I were driving regularly I would have to stop. As it is, I drive three times a week, just over to the gym and back, not even a full mile each way. Because of all my other meds I have to give up serious driving. I still haven't driven our new car...the one we bought in November. Darn!

Sure, I'm rambling but I'm not in the mood to discuss serious stuff. There are far too many opinions being voiced these days and I am eager to see it settle down. Maybe then we will know the truth about Boston.

Did I mention that we have matching Kindle Fire's? They were well worth the money. We have had them since February and we haven't bought a book yet. We search out all the free books as well as the free library ebooks. The public library collection is growing every day. It's a priority for them. And the Kindle's go everywhere with us. I usually have to wait for my wife at the gym as she has a different workout routine and so I sit and open the Kindle to the current book or I play some game until she arrives.

I still love a 'real' book and have not given up on them. I love our library of books we have treasured over the years. But the ebook is part of our life now.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The ban fails

The assault weapon ban is on it's way to failure. Our congress and our senate are filled with cowards; allowing the tiny group of perverts (The NRA) to have their way despite the fact that the majority of Americans wanted the ban. Cowards!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What a life...

It's been a long time since I last posted something here. I think my medications may have something to do with my lack of ambition. Nothing can be done about that for now. I went to the doctor today...actually, he is a PA-C and more thorough and caring than most doctors I've met. Anyway, I am fine except for a rise in bad cholesterol and CO2 in my blood gases. I also told him about my suspected cataracts and I will be seeing someone for that pretty soon. I hope it's soon as these fuzzy images and tears are a bother.

And so I age...I am going to the gym three times a week for a Senior Wellness program and it's rigorous enough to keep my blood pressure in a safe range. After the exercise on the treadmill and other instruments of torture, I spend an hour in the pool doing water exercises to ease the pain in my hip and leg.

I'm not completely without ambition; I am painting and last week I took 30+ painting down to a local health club for a solo art show. And I just heard that I sold one...the most expensive one at $150. It's also one of our favorites and it had a special place on the wall of our home. Now I have to come up with a replacement. My mind is already churning away at the possibilities...





SOLD

Friday, January 25, 2013

He did what?

That darn Reagan!


  • As Gov. of California, Reagan signed the Mulford Act which prohibited the carrying of firearms on your person, in your vehicle and in any public place.
  • As Gov. of Cal. Reagan signed off on a 15-day waiting period for guns.
  • As president he signed into law a ban on ownership of fully automatic rifles.
  • After leaving the presidency he supported the Brady Bill which provided for a 7-day waiting period for guns.
  • In 1994 he wrote Congress supporting a ban on assault rifles.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Re-elected! Amen!

I was just listening to the Political Junkie on TOTN (NPR) and Ken Rudin was playing a litany of spots from conservative pundits and the emphasis was on just how "Liberal" the President's speech was. As if that were something bad. You know, I'm tired of that. I'm a liberal and quite proud of it. Liberals have made this country great while conservatives have contributed nothing at all. Their record speaks for itself. And this President has bent over backwards to appease the rightwingnuts for the last four years. It has not worked. So yes, it's time to be a liberal and to move the country forward.

I left the democratic party because they were not liberal enough and I'm not sure that I can ever return. being an independent has a nice sound when stated. I don't belong to a political party...I'm independent.

Still listening to the radio, I got to hear Hillary Clinton blast some senator...as he deserved. I think it was Rand Paul. And then the old fool, McCain declared that she hadn't answered the questions to his 'satisfaction'. He will never be satisfied. He doesn't want to be satisfied. He can't get over the fact that a black man beat him in the race for President. He is a racist and AZ suits him fine. He really needs to retire...or wait? What if he did retire, would the wingnuts in Arizona elect Joe Arpaio to take his place? Perish the thought! My sister lives there and being the great liberal that she is, she finds it hard to stomach some of the idiocy that takes place in the AZ capital. I try to support her when I can by letting her know that is not alone...

Monday, January 21, 2013

A grand day...

President Obama is President once again. And the Republicans are still perplexed as to how they will best derail any of his plans. They do have some ideas and they will put them out there just to see which way the political wind is blowing. I'm not worried. A little bit irritated at them but not worried...

I just came in from my studio where I've been working on a few paintings. One is Pollock style on a small scale, only 2'x2'. I really need to go big for this kind of painting but I don't have the room for it. The other is an oil pastel piece that is 18"x10". This is one where I've been experimenting with using a heat gun to soften the pastels and then I use my finger to blend them. It works great and I love the smooth transitions between colors. What I don't like is the fact that my finger often encounters a hot patch of 'oil' and I have to grin and bear it until I've finished the stroke.

Speaking of Pollock style paintings I have another one hanging at our local Art Center in a Members Show. I'm asking $350 for it and hoping that it will come home at the end of the show. It has a decent space on our living room wall and it looks sad without it hanging there. But then again, $260 will buy a lot of paint.

I watched the documentary 'Painting Bolinas' the other night. It's a short film detailing some of the last days of the artist Peter Lee Brownlee. It was fascinating. And disturbing, as Peter Lee lived in squalor. He was bedridden at the age of 90 but he never stopped painting. His paintings surrounded his bed and were stuck in every imaginable place in his house. Despite all of this, he seemed to be very happy. Certainly much happier than I would be in that same condition. And at the same time, I envied him his freedom. The film also shows him with his friends as an art show of his works  is being prepared. I recommend the film...

And follow this link for a better view of the phenomena known as Peter Lee Brownlee.

We're still enrolled in a Senior Wellness program at a local gym. Three morning a week of cardio and core strength exercises. Afterwards, I come home and take a shower and then return to the gym for an hour in the pool. I put weights on my ankles and use 'noodles' to support myself while I float; allowing the weights to flex what is left of my normal vertebra. Four of them are fused and will never flex again. I also hope to loosen the hip connections that give me the most pain. Then I treat myself to 10 minutes in the spa at 104 degrees. Aaaahhh! so nice...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What to do?

Everything I read tells me that the 113th Congress is primed to do as much, or more, damage to our country as the previous Congress. ( I recommend reading Gail Collins in today's NYT )

So, what do we do? Since I can't be Emperor for a day...where I would allow congresspersons to serve no more than 6 years. Total!...I think that we must hound our congressperson at every turn. They must not be allowed to forget who they work for. Email, snailmail, Twitter and Facebook. Make them remember your name. Republican, Democrat or Independent (recommended), they work for you. That's something they seem to have forgotten. And it's all our fault...

Just as small children misbehave when unattended, Congress (large children) misbehaves when we are not watching them. We need to do better this year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Fiscal...don't say it!

Here it is, a new day in a new year. And if one more person says "fiscal cliff" to me, I swear...to the moon!
That phrase has already been condemned by most groups that exist to protect our language. Oh, yes...kick the can down the road and bucket list are also verboten from now on. And not a moment too soon.

I would not be surprised to learn that 'fiscal cliff' was created by Fox news. It sounds like something they would do. What is sad is the fact that 'responsible' newscasters picked up on the phrase and used it till it lost all meaning...if there ever was a meaning. If there ever was a responsible newscaster. Edward R. Murrow is dead and we're the poorer for it.

What is sad about this negotiation is the fact that the President caved...again. $250K was supposed to be the limit. The republicans have no power. They are a tired and useless party. So why give them an inch? Look at their leaders...Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and McCain. Liars and losers! 

I guess I better watch a football game today and allow the players to dissipate my anger. After all, it is a New Year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Words fail me

...but not for long.
I find it hard to believe that our country has has slid so far back into the mire of history that some actually celebrate the fact that another state has passed 'right to work' legislation. What are they thinking? The Governor of Michigan assures the voters that this will make the state more competitive. Competitive? Competitive with China, South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi. Not to mention Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana. And do they really believe that by ridding themselves of the evil 'Union' that someone will come along and invest in a new auto plant? And do they really want to become like South Carolina  where the state is famous for the number of Waffle Houses it has and the fact that they are also the fireworks and billboard capitol of the world? Or like Georgia? No, I won't say it...I don't want to go there. Arkansas and Mississippi are like the first two. Poor and becoming poorer. Just look at the data comparing the 'right to work' states with the sane states.

The employee owned company that I retired from was all union and quite proud of that fact. Why? Because we were allowed to bid and secure the largest construction projects. Even where non-union firms were allowed to compete, we secured the projects because of the skill of our workers. Would you trust a non-union firm to build a $2 billion dollar microchip foundry? Even when our bid price was higher, we got the job because we had trained union workers. How about a high rise building put together by non-union iron workers? I don't think so! The phrase 'You get what you pay for' is always true except in the case of politicians.

From my vantage point of age, 72 years, I can clearly see the turning point in our countries economy and that was when reagan gave the green light to union bashing when he destroyed the Air Controllers union. From that point on, as unions lost their strength, we lost our economy. Those union wages were buying homes and car and tv's and boats and everything else that was driving our economy. Slowly but surely, my union, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, lost it's influence in the construction marketplace and homes were the first to go 'non-union' and built by less than qualified carpenters. Don't like the quality of your new house? Blame reagan. But, then again, you may have come to accept that quality of workmanship and think it's just dandy.

Are there corrupt union officials? You bet! I've met my share. How about corrupt politicians? Have you ever seen any of those?The truth is, we get those corrupt officials and pols because we deserve them. We don't pay attention and we vote emotionally and not rationally. We complain about those terrible union contracts that put us on the hook for millions, yet we seem to forget that it takes two signatures to create a contract. What did the city, county or state official get ($$$) to sign the contract? We'll never know and still we blame the unions for the terms of the contract. Some people say that the governing office was over a barrel and had to sign. Not true; no one signs under pressure unless they've lost their moral compass.

It's open season on unions now and the economy will react. As people lose their union jobs they will demonstrate their anger and their will be violence. And the so called 'union' cops won't hesitate to strike a brother union member in the name of law and order. The First Amendment has been broken so many times that it really won't help. Sad times indeed.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

More universes...universii

I read Wally's great post on universes and lo and behold, two hours later I found a Tumbler post that took me to a TED talk on universes, or universii?

Here's the link to that talk...
TED


The Sun is out

The storm is over, though we will see occasional rain for the next few days. Last night, the rain woke me up around 2 and I walked around the house, looking out the windows to see if I could see anything dangerous happening. Nothing, just lots of heavy rain and fierce wind. I was up again at 4:30 and although my bedside clock was flashing, I found that all the others were doing just fine. And still the rain and wind continued. I had built a barrier at our patio door as the rain had threatened it a few days ago; in the dark it was impossible to see if the water was coming close. The carpet was dry so I figured I shouldn't worry for awhile.Then, about 7, the clouds opened up. What a racket! In five minutes it was over and we were back to a steady drizzle. Now, the sun has made it beautiful again.

Earlier in the morning I read an email from my sister and she included a link to a Photobucket site with old images of life in the South Bay in Southern California. Incredibly, I recognized a lot of the very old photos. They are now downloaded and filed away...as they should be. But , how did I become so old?

With the election over, I can return to writing posts like this one. Ah!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

A snapshot

I'm sitting in my office/study/spare bedroom/computer room and I'm browsing Tumbler for abstract art. I will download some of it and store it away in  my Art folder. That folder contains contains over 5,000 images. I also have a Music folder that is 2.5 Gigabytes in size. I have no idea as to the number of individual files as I have them all arranged by genre in sub folders. I also have another Image folder that is filled with sub folders and it is over 4GB in size. Want to see an ad for a Goodyear tire from the year 1923? I've got it! All of this is my Asperger's Syndrome hard at work. Sure it's 'work', but I love doing it! (and I really can't  stop...I've tried)

Boo the Magical Cat has just made a dash through the house and is now sitting in the window next to me. She is intent...on what? Humans will never know. She had been outside perhaps five minutes ago and had wanted back in almost immediately. That's her routine now; sit at the door until I open it so that she can stick her nose out. If all seems satisfactory to her nose, she ventures out and sits about five feet away, She turns and looks at me as if she wants to make sure I haven't abandoned her. A minute later and she is at the door, wanting in. Now this is a cat that used to hunt in the barn next to us when we lived in Orland. She was fearless and would stay outside night and day if we let her. I used to bring her in before we went to bed because there were coyotes and raccoon's prowling at night. There was even the threat of Barn Owls; they could easily grab a cat her size. But as soon as we moved to the city she became a changed kitty. She loves to sleep and hide under the furniture, something she never would have done before the move. Is Cat Psychotherapy in the future for her??

Yesterday, I spent the morning with my artist friends as I do every Tuesday. We paint or draw or simply talk to one another. Intellectuals are hard to find and so I treasure my Tuesday morning friends. The majority of these artists work in watercolor and three of them are fine artists, working on commissions and selling work at local galleries. A few of us work in acrylics; I'm the only abstract artist among the 8 of us. I've sold a few painting during the past three years. One went for $75 and the others, smaller, were in the $30 range.

I'm doing most of my work at home in my garage studio. I'm using 5/16" MDF for my supports and I cut and glue integral wood frames to the backside of them. They look like a normal canvas after I'm through putting two coats of gesso on them. And all done quite cheaply. I've read that the MDF can be archival quality if it's prepared correctly and more and more artists are using it now. I do put a coat of enamel on the backside so that the 'canvas' is protected from humidity. I also use a palm sander to finish sanding the wood frame and edge of the MDF so they look integrated.

I have a show in March at a local sports club and I'm busy putting frames on paintings where I hadn't framed them before painting on them. My bad. I don't expect a lot of sales from this show as I have shown here before along with my friends. The patrons of the sports club are not abstract lovers; but it is a chance for my name to be seen and who knows? maybe someone will tell someone who will tell another, etc, etc. I think what I'm looking for is acceptance by the local art community. Being an abstract artist doesn't always win friends. Yet, I can't paint any other way. Famous abstract painters; Gerhard Richter's work is awesome. So is the work of Cy Twombly, Gerard Stricher, DeKooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Mary Heilman, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. And many more. I FEEL their paintings. They don't talk to me; they shout!

It's getting darker outside as the storm approaches. The wind is really whipping the trees and the first sprinkles of rain have made an appearance. This is the second storm in a series of 5? storms that are due to hit us here in the north state. Unfortunately, these are warm storms and the snow level will be quite high. We really need a decent snowpack if we are going to avert another dry year in the current drought. Global warming? You bet! I was believer from the beginning.









Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A dreary day

It's overcast and calm outside. But this is the calm before the storm...

Wind Advisory remains in effect from 6 am to 4 PM PST

Wednesday... 

* winds: southeast 15 to 30 mph with gusts up to around 40 mph.

* Timing: winds will increase across the region Wednesday morning
and are expected to peak in the afternoon as a cold front moves
through the region. The strongest winds are expected to be
around the Interstate 80 corridor and south. Winds will decrease
behind the frontal passage late in the day. Although winds are
expected to increase again and be even stronger Thursday evening
into Friday.

...and along with the wind we will get this...
 Flood Watch remains in effect from Thursday afternoon through
Sunday afternoon... 

The Flood Watch continues for

* a portion of northern California... Sacramento Valley... West
Slope northern Sierra Nevada... northern Sierra
foothills... Carquinez Strait and Delta... Clear Lake
area... Shasta Lake area... Lassen park... motherlode... northern
San Joaquin Valley and East Slope of the northern coastal
mountains.

* From Thursday afternoon through Sunday afternoon

* confidence is high in a prolonged period of moderate to heavy
precipitation. The heaviest precipitation is expected over
Shasta County along with Butte and western Plumas counties where
a large area of rainfall amounts of 12 to 18 inches or more will
be possible through the weekend. In the Sacramento
Valley... rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 inches with higher amounts
possible through the weekend. 2 to 4 inches are possible in the
northern San Joaquin Valley by Sunday.

* Impacts: debris flows likely... especially near recent burn scars
in Shasta... Tehama... Colusa... and Plumas counties. Urban and
Small Stream flooding will occur in the valley and foothills
with river flooding expected on the upper Sacramento River.
Mountain river and stream flooding above the reservoirs is possible.

The weather service had predicted another dry winter for us.