Monday, April 3, 2017

Some tweets

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What are we going to do?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

No thanks

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

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


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

After sundown

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

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

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Something from the Times

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 13, 2017

Things are happening!

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Repeat or not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 3, 2017

I feel like I am repeating myself

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 30, 2017

Pants on fire!

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

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

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

  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

Music to my ears

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Press conference

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It's been awhile...

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

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

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

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

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

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





Monday, December 19, 2016

Straight out of the Bible

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

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

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

Monday, December 5, 2016

Time Marches On

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 24, 2016

It's Thanksgiving Day...

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Saturday, November 19, 2016

How very strange

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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















 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Our granddaughter

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Three Million?

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

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

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

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

When?

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

I didn't vote for him

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mr. Blow is correct

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

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

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


This I believe

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



Friday, November 4, 2016

Trying Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Something different

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


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






So sad

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

on and on it goes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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












Friday, October 21, 2016

End of the week or the beginning?

Back in the day when I had to work for a living, Friday was the end of the week. Monday was the beginning of the week and those two days between the beginning and the end were? Whatever you wanted to make of them.

These days, those two days have taken over the whole calendar and I have to come up with a reason for each day. I visit the family doctor this morning, a PA-C and a darn good one. He's the best "MD" I've have never had. Warm, caring and very thorough. This morning we have to debate the pro's and con's of my pain med, Dilaudid, and what do I do now that my supply is growing short. The prescription came from a hospitalist that I won't be seeing again. That prescription replaced the one for IV Dilaudid.

This morning's pain came close to making me cry and the Dilaudid brought it to an end within 30 minutes. What else will do that? I would rather move down to a less powerful drug but I'm also afraid of more pain. After all of these years of pain you would think I would be used to it, but I'm not. I'm actually more fearful.

The subject was 'days' and today I'm looking forward to the weekend. Not my weekend but the workers laboring right behind our house. I want them to leave this afternoon and never come back. They are building a 19 home tract of high end homes. High end price but low end quality. And they are noisy while they build. Of course they are. It's to be expected. But I'm old and cranky and so I mutter curses under my breath each and every day until 4 PM when they go home for the evening.

When we moved in there was nothing but 20 acres of pasture with sheep, horses, donkeys and a goat to see, with the Sierra foothills in the distance. It's all gone now. After all our years of wandering up and down the state we have seen it changing. We moved from Manhattan Beach to the 'Valley' and then to Ventura Co, (Newbury Park) followed by Orange Co. (Brea) which lead us to Lassen Co. (Janesville) then to Placer Co. (Roseville) followed by Glenn Co. (Orland) and now Butte County. (Chico) My dream was always for a secluded spot with acreage and we had that in Lassen. Eight acres of second growth pines in a small community in the remote northeast corner of the state. We lived there for 11 years before the state moved in nearby with max security prison. There was a small hill and 15 miles between us but when the prison turned on the lights (they were never off) the bright glow on the horizon killed the night time sky. The stars disappeared and after a while we were gone as well.

Change is the only constant and we came here for health care reasons so we can't fly away as we did in Lassen. So the change is happening like it or not.

I don't  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hard to believe

I tried to avoid the debate last night. But I can't move very far because of the fractured pelvis and my wife wanted to watch. When the debate began I was immediately put off by the intro music and high drama from the narrator; was this a Presidential debate or beginning credits for a Hollywood Roman Empire epic? There was nothing Presidential about it!

And why Las Vegas? I happen to know that there is a lot more to that city than the "The Strip". I've worked there many times. It's a nice place. But...it's not a city meant for Presidential debates. Maybe 50 years from now, but not now.

In my opinion the evening went downhill from there. Trump was outclassed from the beginning and should have surrendered to Hillary early on, promising to go back to his Tower quietly if she would just stop being so mean to him.

At the conclusion I was, I'm sorry to say, embarrassed. Embarrassed that I was an American. Embarrassed that America had fallen to this sorry state. As a country we had allowed this spoiled man-child to become a candidate for the highest office in the world. As a nation we had allowed our representatives to love power instead of the people they served. That dysfunction begat the Tea Party and the Tea Party begat Trump...despite their fierce denials.

No, Hillary is not the candidate I would have chosen. I don't even know who that candidate would have been. Perhaps we will see candidates far more worthy 4 years, 8 years from now. I can wait.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I should have checked

But I didn't. I understand why you can't read the text and I can fix that. But the photo? Why the strange symbol where my photo should be? I will investigate.


Later...I think I fixed it. I just put the photo back. I hope it stays...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Your pain level is?

Right now, mine is at 7. " Severe pain that dominates your senses and significantly limits your ability to perform normal daily activities or maintain social relationships.  Interferes with sleep."  Yes, it's a 7. I'm trying to type and it's a chore. I miss words or thoughts as I type. And sometimes, I just sit here and try to use my mind to fight it off. Meditate. I can't; not with every neuron firing and synapses overloading with signals from those neurons.  Impossible.

This being tuesday, I really wanted to go back to my group of friends that meet to paint on that day; every week. Our group, the Tuesday Painters, meets at the art center to paint...obvious! So I asked my wife to help and I got dressed. Then a short drive to the center where I use the handicapped parking. Now I'm faced with a real struggle and one I had not anticipated; the handicapped ramp. Up we go! That was hard work. And I even stopped midway to rest as we rose some 6'.

I met with everyone and I was very glad we had come. I also came to thank one and all for the special 'get well card', a painting by one and then all of them had signed it on the back. I had found a frame and had framed it and I wanted them all to see i
t framed before it went on my wall. Here you can see it if you double click the image.

Now you know why I was there. But, oh! the pain! The walk up the ramp had hit some spots that were now very irritated. We all talked for about twenty minutes and then my wife whispered in my ear "ready to go?" I nodded and then we finished up our conversation and headed back to the car.

The walk up the ramp was a piece of cake compared to the walk down. Now I was hold back the weight of my body with each step down the ramp. I was in agony when I reached the bottom. I recovered some on the drive home and I am now safely within the embrace of my recliner while I type.

Now here's a photo of my new walker...















That's it, I'm through for the day...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Are you kidding me?

I am hurting. It is very, very, very painful. It, in this case, being a fractured pelvis on my left side. Even with Dilaudid and morphine for pain, the pain is there; persistent! And you can only imagine what all of these drugs have done to my memory. Perhaps I should start at the beginning...

I am part of a church group that spends an occasional Sunday at church with a patrol of the church grounds. Bidwell Presbyterian Church. This morning I was by myself and had removed my badge in preparation for leaving. That was when I noticed that I had forgotten the magnetic bar that was part of the badge. I bent down to get it and and that was the time that I lost my balance and I fell forward, about 2'.  That was just right for my left pelvis to connect with a large pot. A hard pot. I hit it with enough force to break my pelvis. And that hurt!! I also broke the pot...

It is now 8 days later and relief is not in site. I saw the doctor a few days ago and he added to my pain relief by giving back the pain relief med I had asked him to delete from my drug list just a few weeks earlier. I can do some things with less pain than a week ago, such as standing upright with assistance. I can only dream about life without assistance.

I'm taking a very long time to type this; my brain and fingers have a communication problem. If I could find a way to 'speak' this blog post I certainly would. Apple has that feature in lots of places but I don't see it here. But, with my mind being fragmented by drugs, my speech has not been all that clear.

I guess I'm through for the day.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Bus Ride from Hell

It was last weekend when we boarded a bus that would take us to San Francisco and the Museum of Modern Art. We were supposed to be riding in a modern coach with all of the amenities, including a rest room. We were also supposed to be departing on time. 7:30 was the announced departure and we were all in the parking lot, eager to be on our way. 7:45 came and there was no bus in sight. It was around 8 AM when we learned that the bus had a flat tire and would be there soon. Some of us took a long walk to the far corner of the shopping center, for a Starbucks of some kind. Myself and others took the cheap route by walking down to Trader Joe's and getting a small sample coffee that is always available for free.

Finally, at 10 to 9, the bus arrived and we all were on board in record time. The driver put the bus in gear and off we went. In the wrong direction. There was hurried discussion with the driver and the leader at the stop sign and the bus then made a right turn and returned to the parking lot. Some more discussion went on and the driver took us out of the lot and we were on our way, in the right direction. It turned out that the driver didn't know how to get there and the bus had no GPS unit on it. Our leader assured us that she was giving the driver directions by using her cellphone. She had to yell to give us this information as the microphone/sound system wasn't working.

It was about that time that we heard, from the back of the bus, "The toilet won't flush." Great! A bus full of older citizens and no toilet. What was next?

Once we got over the 'new' Bay Bridge the driver said that she had been told that there was no place to park the bus to unload at the SFMOMA and we would be dropped off at the Jewish Museum, just a few blocks away. Everyone on board vetoed that plan immediately and told the driver that she HAD TO drop us off in front of SFMOMA. Okay. That was the new plan. And it worked. There was parking for busses right in front of the museum and we were all grateful to be off of the bus and on our way to a wonderful afternoon at the museum. And it was. But, before we left, we were told to return to this same spot at 4:45 to get back on the bus which would leave at 5 PM on the dot. The same time that the museum closed.

The museum was fantastic. I got to see original pieces by artists that I have revered. And there were 6 floors of exhibits. But, first we had to get some lunch, for energy. We chose the museum lunch room and found the prices were astronomical. I had a bagel with smoked salmon and a cup of squash soup for the bargain price of $21. But, all prices in the Bay area are shockingly high because of the influx of high-tech millionaires from San Jose/Silicon Valley. Rents have quadrupled.

At this point, I have already taken 2 Norco for the pain and I'm depending on my walking stick. But with all of this beautiful art to see, I'm ignoring it as best I can. I do take many opportunities to sit and simply look at my favorite paintings.

In the museum they have the Red elevators (4) and the Silver elevators (3). And they have stairs; long, long flights of stairs. It seemed as if we had to wait a long time for an elevator and then I stood back and watched the doors opening and closing. The Red elevators only had one working elevator. The Silver had 2 out of 3. So we spent a lot of time in the stairwells. Pretty soon I had taken another 2 Norco.

All good things must come to an end and at 4:45 we were eager to sit down in the luxurious seats on the bus. Except, there was no bus. And no place to sit. Phone calls were made and after 30 minutes or more, we learned that the driver was lost in downtown San Francisco. She wasn't sure where she was.
At this point I had run out of pain meds and the pain was overwhelming me. I sat down on the sidewalk with my back against a light pole. The pain had turned everything to black. I couldn't think beyond the pain. And time went on. And still no bus. And I was not the only one in pain. A bus load of citizens over the age of 65 will have a large number of them suffering from all kinds of pain producing ailments. We all needed to sit down!

Then, at 6 PM the bus rolled up and we all made it aboard. Gratefully. And it was a very quiet 3 and a half hour trip home.

Even though the bus ride was hellish, the museum was not and I'm very glad to have gone. I really want to see it again on a day when I am guaranteed a nice ride and when all of the elevators are working. I'll bring a sack lunch...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Summer is on its last legs

We spent the early morning hours...after 7 AM...walking through the Farmer's Market here in Chico. We try and do this every Saturday as it's good exercise and we can buy good food. Especially heirloom tomatoes! The market is quite large now, taking up a full 3 rows in the city parking lot. In December it will be down to just 2 rows as the summer vegetables and fruit disappear. This morning we found a small melon for just $1.25 and 2 tomatoes for $2.90. Yes, heirloom tomatoes are expensive but oh so worth it.

We walked the length and width of the market twice and it was obvious that fall was on it's way. A lot of the stands had noticeably meager offerings. The peaches and nectarines disappeared 2 weeks ago, much to our dismay. They made a great topping for oatmeal.

Since we will be taking a bus ride, next Saturday, to San Francisco to see the SF Museum of Modern Art, I thought we should do a little more walking in preparation for the 7 floors of exhibits in the new building. Well, it's obvious now that I will have to bring my pain medications with me. We hadn't even strolled a mile and the pain was becoming intense. Now I'm home; I've taken some pain meds and I contemplate my life. I've completed 5 marathons, half a dozen half marathons, numerous 5K and 10K races. I once mapped my mileage as if I were crossing the country and I did. Plus. I put a 26.2 and 13.1 decals on the back window of my car. Now I can't even go a mile without pain and the state just delivered my blue 'Handicapped' emblem to hang from the rear view mirror. Color me depressed!

The bus ride to SFMOMA was arranged by the Chico Art Center.  It will cost us $180 for the ride and admission. I think it's a bargain. Driving and parking in Baghdad by the Bay is perilous! This way we have a comfortable seat in a modern coach with a restroom. Even if we traveled there ourselves we would still have no more than 5 hours to visit. And 5 hours is not enough, or so I've been told. We have a map and we will visit what we really want to see and come back some other time.

I have plenty to do here while I wait for the pain to go away. I do the data input for new members of a local charity. The Blue Bag, or the Chico Food Project. Once every two months the members will put a blue bag filled with food (packaged) on their front porch. The Blue Bag volunteers will drive by and pick it up and leave a new and empty blue bag to be filled in two months time. The collected food is then given to local groups that need the food, such as the Jesus Center, Salvation Army, some churches, etc. It's usually close to 6 tons of food after all is done and counted. It's a very successful project and I have to input new members every two months as well. I have 16 this time; added to the 1,000+ that we already have. The small town of Paradise, just a few miles away, has been doing this for years now and they have 1,500 members. We have been doing it for just a few years.

I also have my own projects here. I am still trying to arrange my photo collection (26,000+) while I continue adding to it. There are no perfect systems for this. I'm using Apple's Photo and not their iPhoto. For some reason that I don't quite understand, I get lots of duplicates. I didn't store duplicates originally but after a few weeks, there they are. And Apple's system doesn't follow a file if it's moved. Lot of systems can do that. If I change the folder that a photo is stored in, my Photo system acts as if it's lost and puts a yellow tag on the photo. It does leave a copy of the original but it can't be modified in any way. The hard drive knows the location of every file on it. The path to it should be irrelevant. Oh, well, it keeps me busy and my ASD mind demands these kinds of collections. I would bet that I've seen all 26,000 photos twice and they never lose their appeal. Not so much the visual, but the order is what appeals to me. Now I'm double filing them by using Apple Smart Folders that look for the keywords attached to each photo. Of course, I'm the one that has to type in that keyword on each photo. All of this activity does wonders for my depression. I used to use alcohol for it, but this way is much healthier

Earlier this week I had planned to post something here, but, when it came time to do it, I had forgotten what it was. I tried to remember it for at least two days without success. Memory failure are my biggest headaches. I was going to get a soda from the usual place in the kitchen. I went to our bedroom and the attached bathroom and then the laundry room before I found the correct place to find my soda. I can tell stories like that every day. I get some good exercise by just allowing my brain to guide me in my searches.

Maybe I will remember that fascinating subject for the next time I post...or maybe not.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The days keep on coming.

When can we say the election is over? Will it be the day after we vote and the clear cut winner will take her place in the seat of power? Will it be a week or more after the vote and only after the Supreme Court decides our country's fate...once again? Or, best of all, a week or more before the vote, after which we can all relax because his lies have finally all come home to roost and not a day too soon?

I want the latter. It's already overdue. I read the NY Times and they are unabashed in their hatred for Trump. They reveal his lies for what they are and their opinions/truths are dismissed by the Republicans, but without evidence.

Trump has to fail and then what will the Republicans do? Their Party is shattered into many factions and all yelling that the vote was rigged. They seem not to understand just how difficult that would be to pull off. And without anyone leaking the details of such an action? Thousands of people would have to be complicit in the 'rigging' and to believe that no one will spill the beans? Now that is unbelievable.

Now, I didn't go to college, but I can see what the 'educated' Trumpeteers cannot. I suppose I should be happy that I didn't waste my money on the tuition. Okay, that's stretching things. But, I do find it difficult to understand how someone with a classical education fails to see that Trump is a phoney. He's a liar. The list of dishonest things that he is is far too long for me list here. There are a couple of things he isn't and one is Presidential. The other is christian. (I'm not using a capital C here because I've found that those that capitalize Christianity are usually using that honorific for personal gain.)

I've tried my best to keep this election out of my head. I know who I am voting for and Hillary would have to be a convicted murderer before I would vote for Trump. But every once in awhile Trump says something so outrageous that I have to say something.

The Trumpeteers and their ilk are constantly saying that Hillary is a liar and she is responsible for the deadly raid on Benghazi; yet, the Senate, the House, the FBI and Justice Department have all said that she is innocent in every case. Innocent. What's so hard to understand about that? Anything else you hear is rumor mongering and part of a very lengthy campaign to paste so many lies on her that maybe one will stick. So I guess that the Senate, the House, the FBI and Justice Department are all in on this white wash campaign arranged by Hillary. Really? She is a liar or she is not. If she is, present the evidence and move on.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Just another day

A good day. Went down to the Art Center, early, and unlocked our class space where 8 of us meet weekly for 3 hours of conversation and painting. Not all of us were in attendance, two were close by the fire near Paradise. It's been growing in size damage and the smell of smoke was in the air this morning. They weren't in danger, but the smoke was pretty thick where they live. Another member had other commitments so we were down to just the 5 of us.

I didn't get a lot done. My digital painting skills are growing, but I feel clumsy and I erase a lot of the work. Or start over. A benefit of digital painting is the fact that you can erase anything you put on the canvas...I think I've saved close to $1,000 in paint and canvas in just the past 3 weeks.

Home now and listening to the almost constant low roar of the 'bombers' as they land at Chico airport, fill up with fire retardant and take off again. The fire is growing; it was at 840 acres and only 10% contained at 1:00 PM. I just checked the incident page of the Cal Fire website and there hasn't been an update. It's close to 4:30 and I expected to see some change in the status. A little closer to 100% containment would be nice but the flights I hear tell me that there is still a lot of work to do.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Once again

I woke up the other morning and I was 76 years old. That's a good thing. Waking up was the good thing. Now I can concentrate on making it to 77.
   
Regarding  the Ring doorbell; we have enjoyed the ability to speak to someone at our door when away. Yesterday, we were shopping at Trader Joe's when we heard the doorbell. It was a friend of ours with a newspaper for me. We talked for a minute, told him where we were, and he left the paper at the door before leaving. Last weekend we were at church when I spotted my granddaughter unlocking the front door (she comes over to clean every Sunday) and I greeted her. She was surprised of course but thought the doorbell was 'way cool!'

We have to change the location of the Ring as there are too many false alerts caused by the noise of the trash trucks coming by. And that's twice a week. I'm going to check the new location with a tape measure to be sure I have the distance set right.

My digital painting is getting better and better. That's if you enjoy abstract expressionism. If you don't, the quality of my painting will appear unchanged. Sorry about that. I've been sending them to Costco to be printed and I have a few dozen of them now. Costco has the right price but they darken all my reds. I will try and compensate. Here's one without a red in sight...

Saturday, August 27, 2016

I see you

We have entered the age of 'fraidy cats'. We now have a Ring video doorbell installed. We will be notified, via our iPhones, whenever someone approaches the front porch. We will see live video and a live microphone will be working; "Hello. Can I help you?" when someone presses the Ring doorbell, the remote chime will sound. This bell plugs into a wall plug and can be moved to wherever you want it. My wife is unable to hear at all in her right ear and her hearing is hearing aid assisted in the other. This feature gives her the ability to hear the bell even when her phone is in another room.

My memories include my time growing up in Manhattan Beach and our doors were only locked when we were on vacation. When we married and lived in some apartments before buying our first home, we rarely locked the doors. Our first home, a brand new one,in Newbury Park, was on a cul-de sac with most homes occupied by young families like ours and once again the doors were rarely locked.

We moved to Brea and things changed. There were reports of daylight home break-ins and garage thefts. These became more frequent and we now locked all the doors. One night I forgot to lock my truck and in the morning my favorite jacket was gone. That, and other factors, convinced me to ask my wife to move. To move far away. I suggested that I would drive drive north of the Los Angeles basin on US 395. This is the highway that goes from Mexico to Canada but on the eastern side of the Sierra's. This had always been my favorite route and I loved the small towns that were targeted by this highway. Towns like Mojave, Lone Pine, Independence, Bishop, Bridgeport, Walker, Coleville, and then past Topaz Lake into Nevada. In Nevada there were more small towns; Minden, Gardnerville and then Reno. Reno wasn't a small town but it was a small city. I had never been past Reno on 395.

I packed my bag and a camera  and with the blessings of our family, I set out. Once I was past Ridgecrest, the traffic thinned out to almost zero. I already felt better about this project and I began to daydream about finding this perfect place to raise our family.

The miles and the towns went by without my being notified by some unknown 'inner sense'. It was a long day and then I was in Reno without a clue as to how far should I go. I found a motel and then, in the morning, I found 395 North again and began driving...shortening the story; I found a house in Janesville. I bought it and we moved. I bought it because I could let my children grow up as I did, without fear. The doors in the 'new' house were not locked and my truck keys were just where I could find them every morning...in the truck.

One by one the children grew, graduated and moved on with their lives. Sadly, we moved as well. To Roseville, a suburb of Sacramento and we knew immediately that we had to lock things up. Flash forward to 12 years ago and we moved to Orland, a rural community south of Redding by about an hour. It was rural but not enough to skip locking the doors. Five years ago we moved to Chico and since that time, the break-ins have increased. We live in a nice neighborhood but that's not a barrier to thieves. And we're in our 70's and aging typically increases the feelings of insecurity. I wish it wasn't so, but there it is...

We do feel a little safer now. And we can be out for dinner and still answer the door as if we were inside. No one knows. Being a nerd, I enjoy the geek factor that comes with owning such a thing.

On the pain side of things; the surgeon says there is nothing he can do. It was strange watching the fire in his eyes fade out as he looked at the x-ray and realized that he couldn't justify surgery. He dismissed us. We returned to the pain doc and I get to see her in about 5 1/2 weeks. For a consult. Who knows what will happen. In the meantime, I take what I need to put a dull edge on the pain.






 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Pain and more pain

I'm really getting tired of this. I didn't intend for my blog to become a place for me moan and groan. But here I am. I'll be seeing the surgeon tomorrow and maybe I will get some answers as to my future. Maybe not pain free but less pain. I know that people are given new hips every day and if that will do the job for pain relief, let's do it!

I had spoken highly of the Slovakian digital art software in the last post and I have to revise that. The program stopped working the other day. I couldn't find any reason for it to stop like that; not after researching all the usual suspects. Now I'm waiting for the Slovakian help desk to call me back with a fix. I still like the program, but with reservations.

Our youngest, our son, and his girlfriend are visiting this weekend  and they brought our 'babies', the twin grandchildren, along with them. The twins are now 13 years old and 'babies' doesn't really describe them.  This is their last year of middle school and then they will be freshman in high school. I look at their baby pictures and then those when they were toddlers and find it hard to believe that they are growing up so fast. It's a typical lament of grandparents.

Since I started this post with pain, I'll end it that way as well...but differently. Whenever I grow tired of the pain I sometimes think of the plight of those that were born 150 years ago, in the 1800's. When they had spinal stenosis and compressed vertebra, what did they do for pain relief? It must have been terrible! I had the luxury of having those vertebra fused and the pain relieved. When they had arthritis and their hips were affected by it, creating a continuous pain; what did they do for it? Morphine? Alcohol? I don't know if I could have withstood the pain without going mad. Yes, the 21st century is pretty nice.





Sunday, August 7, 2016

But is it art?

I tried and then purchased a new digital painting software package. The price was good and it allowed me to use just about any image file extension I wanted. I played around with it last night and then again this morning. I decided to grab one of my old digital works (old = 36 hours) and see what could be done with it. It worked better than I thought it might. I believe it was a smart purchase.

The software is called Rebelle and it's a Slovakian companies product. Slovakia? Okay, I'm guilty of not paying enough attention to that part of the world. After the Serbs and the Croats and other began isolating themselves by creating borders where borders were last seen a 100 years ago. I'm not a big fan of borders; but that's neither here nor there. I assumed that Slovakia was somewhere near the spot where Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were located. Sort of close; it's a high income advanced economy small republic located between Hungary and Austria and Poland and Ukraine and Czechia. It's name is the Slovak Republic and the citizens are Slovak and their language is a Slavic one. It belongs to the EU and to NATO.

Enough geography; the software is what I like and I don't care where it came from. Odd, but Citibank seemed to have a problem with it's origination and refused the card because of possible fraud. U.S. Bank had no problem with it. I had checked the company out earlier because I hadn't heard of it. Since I'm new to digital art, I haven't heard about most of the software. The software company had many recommendations and awards. I think it's because Citibank doesn't trust that part of the globe.

During my research I ran across a blog that was meant for digital artists. On the blog was an email from a critic/troll who stated that digital art is just a toy for children and cannot be considered 'art'. He didn't let that subject go until he had bashed digital art into submission, or so he thought. I didn't get into the discussion. I have heard the same thing before, but very politely to my face. I don't know what they say after I'm gone. I know it's art and that is the final word. Watercolorists were subjected to this criticism through the ages. Acrylic artists are still treated with disdain by some; even by watercolorists who have forgotten their own history. I have created art, good art, with watercolors, acrylics, oil pastels, Crayola crayons and colored pencils. I have everything I need for oil painting but I'm afraid to start; yes, fear; fear of failure. I know that art is not easy and I'm finding digital art to be very difficult to produce. All art is difficult and oil painting looks to be the most difficult. I'll get there someday...in the meantime I practice with digital art.