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, September 2, 2015

Cars etcetera and more Cars Part lll

Ken, while working at the gas station, had met this guy that was really involved in drag racing. As a trio, Ken, Dan and myself loved going to Lion's Drag strip in Long Beach; the premier drag strip in southern California. We went every Saturday we could as that was the day that you could buy a pit pass, enabling you to wander around among the contestants and their cars.

Back to the guy that Ken met. We all went over to his house one morning and we woke him and his room mates up. It was around noon. We were invited in. These guys lived a little bit differently than we did. There were a lot of beer cans scattered around. The furniture was minimal and the drapes were bedsheets. But they were into cars! One of them was rebuilding a Chrysler Hemi. In the kitchen dining room. All the parts, including the pistons, were carefully stored off the floor; on the kitchen table. There were assorted carburetors and magnetos scattered around the living room and among the many beer cans. Outside there were half a dozen vehicles in various state pf repair or abandonment. This included two 'rail' dragsters. One was minus an engine and the engine was the one being rebuilt inside. All in all, we were in heaven! Car lover heaven.

Despite their quirks, they were all very nice and they suffered all of our questions with good humor. It was obvious that they were at least ten years older  and they could have told us to get lost, but they didn't. They even helped me rewire my Austin Healey overdrive so that I had 8 forward gears and 2 in reverse? That project came from their own imaginations. They knew that I loved to go to the drags and run my car. It was just a four cylinder with a 3 speed transmission. I had installed a 'hot' cam in it with the hopes of securing a trophy in my class, 'E' Sport. For some weeks now I had raced and beat everything in my class except for a Porsche Speedster. He would always show up late in the morning, just late enough to drive in, beat me in one race and take the trophy. I'm sure he delighted in it.

I tried out the newly rewired overdrive the following Saturday. I made two runs and had beat all the competition. And then, just before the drags were over, my nemesis rolled through the gates. He made one run and beat my time easily. That was the end of drag racing for me.

Many years later, a curious thing happened. My best friend was showing me a new book. It was a small coffee table book with lots of photographs in it. It was all about Los Angeles. I was going through the pages when I noticed a photograph that was titled "Racers at Lion's Drag Strip" I looked closer and I spotted myself! I was in my Austin Healey and was waiting my turn to race; just a car back from the focus of the photo. Most of my car was obscured by another, closer. car. But I couldn't help but recognize my dark horn rimmed glasses.      

Odds and Ends

We just got back from a trip to Costco. We just bought the necessities of life. Pork loin chops, popcorn, Danish butter cookies, shredded pork, cough drops, calcium, vitamins and 9 volt batteries. We went to the store for the last four items. Okay, we were shopping pretty light for Costco shoppers. But, there were plenty of shoppers making up for our stinginess!

On the way home we stopped at Cash and Carry, the store where restaurants shop. I love walking through this store and seeing all the restaurant sized cans of ...everything! Plus, they have lots of restaurant equipment and tools to buy. A four foot long pizza spatula. A three foot long potato masher. On and on. We weave through all the serious shoppers and bought our four little boxes of Stash Chai Spice black tea. It's my favorite.

On the way again, the dash screen told me that the car had successfully connected to my phone via Blue Tooth. I remarked on the fact that our cars are now loaded with technology. Dealers used to advertise horsepower and now they stress connectivity. Speaking of horsepower; I  have looked at the engine in my car one time and I doubt that I will look again. Why bother? There is nothing that I can do with the engine. Time was, you would lift the hood and imagine how the car would perform with a four barrel carburetor on it, or better yet, with three two barrel carbs! When I looked at the engine of my new car I could not identify the carburetor. Maybe it doesn't have one?  

The SI joint pain still has me on Norco and so I have not been able to enjoy the new backup camera that my son installed. Of course he used YouTube to help the install go smoothly. You know, Blue Tooth and YouTube and all the rest...they make life so much more pleasant. The 'good' old days simply weren't. In fact, I would probably be in a wheelchair if this was 1950. And would I have lived to be 75 back then? Sure, there are lots of little irritants in our lives but you can find those in every era. In fact, some of the things I will be sorry to have missed when I die will be the marvelous new things that technology will bring us. I'm pretty sure I will miss the final development of the quantum computer and that computer can or will change the world.

I have my own little computer to play with now. The Arduino Uno that my wife gave me for my birthday. Basic and very simple. I have a tiny 'motherboard' and a 'breadboard' to use when adding resistors, transistor, capacitors and all the other stuff I need to make this computer work. I've never done this before. I started my life's career hanging drywall and although I ended my career in construction as an instructor, showing our employees how to use their pc's. I was very good at repairing computers and networks and I had changed out various elements on the motherboards, but I really didn't know computers at their most basic level. Maybe I will now.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The first birthday celebration

Soon to be followed by the second and last birthday celebration (this year). My actual birthday is on the 1st, a Tuesday, which is not the best day to celebrate when relatives work, and, or are, a distance away from our house. So we celebrated my 75th yesterday on Saturday. And it worked out great as all three of our children were here plus four of our seven grand children.

The days haven't started out well for me recently as the pain from the SI joint has me pretty much crippled in the mornings. It takes a lot of Norco and time for the pain to subside. But the pain was easy to ignore with grandchildren all around. Grandchildren are a real blessing! And not just as pain relievers...

I wasn't allowed into the kitchen all day. The kitchen is normally my territory so that command to stay out was tough on me. What were they doing in there? Then my son got our old barbecue going; it hasn't been used in years. He put in a couple of large tri-tip roasts. Now I had an idea as to what the main course was going to be. And I could see my wife boiling a large pot of red potatoes. That had to be for the potato salad. That guess was verified when I smelled the bacon cooking. I knew this was going to be a memorable dinner. Especially so because I wasn't doing the cooking!

Dinner was wonderful, just as I had imagined. After dinner was time for some presents. I was given some great new heavy weight winter shirts, just in time for the El Nino that is coming to California. I was also given an Arduino! It's the beginners model and that's perfect for me. I already know some programming languages but the Arduino will test me. And I was given a Tessellation coloring book. My son probably didn't realize that this was a perfect gift for me. Since I have ASD, I have always loved repeating patterns. And patterns I could color was alway a plus for me. Whenever I start a new painting I have to stop myself from drawing or painting patterns. My wife gave me a backup camera for my Scion Xb. The camera was something that wasn't offered by Toyota at the time I bought the car and I have missed having one ever since. Being older, as I am, turning around far enough to see everything behind me is difficult...and no matter your age, you can't see a small child that might be behind the car. My son is installing it today.

After the present giving, it was time for dessert and it was spectacular...as far as I was concerned. I'm not much of a fan of cakes but I do love pies. My wife and daughter, though good cooks, don't count themselves among the finest of pastry chefs. So they went to the Upper Crust bakery here in town and ordered a marionberry pie plus a Dutch apple pie. Oh, heaven! Then there was Triple Vanilla ice cream to top it off. Heaven again! was a

It's Sunday now and I'm waiting, as usual, for the Norco to do it's job. I go back to the doctor on the 9th for a followup to the corticosteroid injection. I hope I can tell her it was a success. The last two injections were lifesavers. I need this one to be one as well.

Grrr...I'm typing on the keyboard of the MacBook and it always gives me fits. It has a built-in touchpad just below the keyboard and as I relax while typing, my hands get closer to the surface of the sensitive pad. They touch...and my cursor soars away and lands who know where. In the meantime I keep typing since I didn't notice the accidental touch. When I do look up I see that I'm typing far back up the page and in the middle of a sentence. Repair time...hopefully I find them all.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


I was recently reading some comments from pro-gun folks on a column in the NY Times; a column by Nicholas Kristof. And these anti regulation fans all have the same stupid, stupid, stupid argument! 'If we didn't have our guns, how can we protect ourselves from the government?' What if I happen to like the government and do not feel threatened by it. No one ever asks the other people, the ones without guns, if they want to be protected. Don't we have a voice in the matter. Personally, I don't want these anti-intellectual bozos to ever dare to speak for me. I do my speaking with a ballot and not a gun. It's far more powerful.

At times I am embarrassed and ashamed to be living in a country that is so backward. A third world country on the North American Continent.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

CARS and Junior and Senior years and more CARS! Episode ll

Back to the story of the 1940 Chevy. It wasn't long before Ken wanted more power than the old six cylinder  would give him, so he did some more trading and sold his model A and ended up with a almost new fuel injected Corvette engine and transmission. He also found a 1948 Pontiac rear end at the local junk yard. He put all of these things together in the Chevy and was rewarded with a very fast street racer. Street racing was common in the 50's  and it usually began with a cruise down Hawthorne Blvd. On any night of the week we wouldn't go past more than two or three signal lights before we were challenged to a 'drag'. And since the 40 Chevy still sported a single exhaust pipe (the other one was cut off short of the bumper and couldn't be seen) almost every competitor assumed it would be an easy victory for them. Ken would keep it in low gear all the way up to 60 mph and stay slightly behind them. Then, when they thought they had an easy victory, he would shift into second, leaving a patch of burned rubber as he did it, and leave them far behind. His car was soon the talk of all the drive-ins. Dan and I were only passengers but we basked in the attention that the car received. 

Ken decided that he had enough money for the next step; paint and upholstery. The car was painted a metallic blue and then we made plans for a trip to Tijuana for some of the famed south of the border tuck and roll upholstery. We left around midnight as we wanted to arrive early in the morning. There were no freeways in 1957. We arrived around 7 in the AM and parked in the inner courtyard of the upholstery shop. There was no one around. About ten minutes later, two kids on bikes rode in and without a word began to remove the seats from the car. They told us not to worry, that the shop owner would be there soon. They did their job and sped off on their bikes. So we sat. And sat some more. It was ten before anyone arrived to do the work and once the price and design was agreed upon, the work began. It was twelve later before we drove off. Once we arrived home, we slept for at least twelve hours. It had been a long, long day...and night and day again.  

During my Junior and Senior class years, I was fascinated by all things mechanical, especially cars. At the same time, I was getting grades of A and A+ in English and History. But, those were the only classes where I shined. In Chemistry I was a D student and in Spanish ll I was only a C- student. My teacher, the former Miss Murphy, had married an officer in the fascist Army of Spain. She was now Mrs. Ramirez-Cardenas and was quickly angered by any perceived criticism of Franco's government. We all had to think twice before we spoke because she was very sensitive to the kind of criticism we all felt towards that government. 

The point I am trying to make is that while I was 'car crazy' I was also into more intellectual interests than most kids that were drag racing down Hawthorne Blvd...I still had my library card and used it often.

I just realized that as I write these stories down, I am recalling even more stories from this period. I could write for days it seems. I won't. But I may come back at some later date and write about this time in my life. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

CARS and Junior and Senior years and more CARS! Episode l

I got my license to drive in 1956, my Sophomore year in high school. I didn't have anything to drive as my mother didn't have a license and our one car was with my dad all day. Then fates began their work. My great-uncle, and a very real part of our family, retired from being a chef on an ocean going dredge that was part of the workforce of the Army Corps of Engineers. He was 65 and had never owned a car. But he was retired and could do as he wanted. He rented an apartment in Santa Monica and then went to a Chevrolet dealer. He paid cash for a new, 1956,  mid level 210 Chevrolet 4-door sedan. He drove it back to the apartment, (without having a drivers license) parked it and then died of a massive heart attack; still in the car.

Of course we grieved and there was a funeral,. He is buried at Inglewood Cemetery. The estate was settled and our family were the sole heirs. He had been a bachelor and during the years he had adopted us as his 'family'. And we loved him.

Back to the cars. Part of the estate was that brand new Chevy.  And I was allowed to use it. Part of the deal was that I had to take mom shopping whenever she wanted. That was okay with me; I just wanted to drive!

After a few weeks the glow of new car ownership had faded and I saw that the car was simply a cheap Chevy 210. It had blackwall tires and factory hubcaps. It was becoming embarrassing to park it in the school lot. Why didn't Uncle Len buy the Bel Air model with a V-8? I was driving a stick shift with a 'Blue Flame' six cylinder engine.

About this time, a new friend of mine told us he had made a fantastic deal on a car, Like most of us, Ken had been mowing lawns to get gas money. He owned a Model A coupe at the time. Earlier in the year he had been mowing the lawn every week for a very old lady and noticed that she had a car in her garage. It was covered with sheets and he peeked under them. It was a 1940 Chevrolet business coupe. It was flawless. Except for the paint which had become very thin in spots because she had the local service station come and wash it for her every week. Did I mention that she never drove it? It had less than 10 thousand miles on the odometer. He made a deal with her and would mow her lawn for a year for the car. Ken told us to come over and take a look at it...

That car became a big part of our lives; Ken, Dan and myself.  

#miracosta #1956

More High School

I'm sitting here waiting for the Norco to take effect. My latest corticosteroid injection hasn't begun to work and it's been 6 days. 6 pain filled days. I did make it back to the gym this morning and I did 2 miles on flat ground and at 3,2 mph. Far below what I usually do. I had to get back to the gym because I didn't want the Norco filled mornings becoming a habit. I tried the pool but only lasted 10 minutes before the pain had me drying off and looking for the car keys.

And before I go back to High School memories I will tell you that the solar installation is complete and we're now on line, selling power to the power company. We have a link to a webpage that shows us the current amount of power being produced. We can see the immediate effect of a cloud drifting into the path of 'our' stream of photons. I can see now that a cloudy day will become personal for us.

Also, the construction noise behind our house continues unabated. Dirt movers of all sizes parade back and forth, visible not 20 feet away from our kitchen window. When we bought the house there was a small ranch behind us and the 15' setback  didn't bother us in the least. Now it does!

Back to my freshman year. I had been put on the 'College Track' by my counselor. I had just gone along with it. I had no interest in college. One of the classes I had to take was Algebra and the teacher's name was Bernardi. He was a Major in the Army reserves and ran his classroom as if we were all privates in his personal platoon. If you made a grievous error in your calculations you were sent outside to 'police the grounds'. What? He explained just what that entailed and within a day or two I was well acquainted with policing the grounds. I could not  understand algebra, I couldn't relate to unknowns like x,  To make it worse, you were frequently called up to the board to explain how you arrived at the answer. In my case it was how I didn't arrive. I would be standing in front of the whole class when he dismissed my algebraic incompetence with "Go outside and police the grounds!"

At mid semester I would be summoned back to my counselor to explain my D- grade.  I had no answer; I simply did not understand algebra. She would remind me that I had an IQ of 142 and was not working up to my potential. She used this particular 'club' all through high school. 'You're not working up to your potential!' By the time I was a Junior, I had given up listening to her altogether.

I was taking Spanish that year and Miss Murphy was the teacher. She was an erratic teacher. Stern one minute and your best friend the next. I was very good at pronunciation and lousy at sentence structure. She frequently called upon me to do the readings or whenever she wanted the class to hear how a word was pronounced. "Please let the class hear how 'ferrocarrill should be said," I just loved to roll those 'r's. And since she spoke Castilian Spanish I quickly learned how to lisp as well as any good Castillian. Even with good pronunciation I could only muster up a C., but I was 'her friend' and would see her later when I took Spanish ll as a Junior.

I finished up the year with that same D- in Algebra and moved on to Geometry. I wasn't given a remedial course, just moved on up the line. But in Geometry I shined. One, the teacher was great! He explained everything and with geometry I could see the lines, the angles and they all made sense! They were almost physical objects. I could measure the lines and calculate the angles. There were no 'unknowns for me to worry about. For someone with ASD, unknowns are worrisome. We deal with reality; things we can see and touch. I got a B+ and was spared a trip to the counselor for one semester.

High school revisited

No, it's not time for another high school reunion. Our class hasn't had one in years and the number that are alive from that class has to be dwindling quickly. But...as I was using the treadmill this morning my mind went directly to the memory library and picked out the volume '1955 through 1958 at Mira Costa High School". A treadmill will send me to the memory library every time!

I remember, that as a freshman, the people I knew in junior high became strangers as they quickly mingled in with popular people. I was soon eating lunch alone. Then, in Mechanical Drawing class, I made the acquaintance of a fellow freshman and a 'nerd'...like me. We got along well and shared many of the same interests. One day, Earl asked me if I had listened to any of the new music, called rhythm and blues? He said he had run across a radio station where they played it. It was a 50 watt station down in Long Beach with the call letters, KFOX. (KFOX later moved to Mexico and became a 50 gazillion watt station, just across the border from its audience.) In 1955, the station featured Johnny Otis as the DJ and sometimes musical star on his own show. You could only pick up the station late at night and then, only after some fine tuning.

I listened that night and was hooked. It turned out that, Earl and I were the only ones at school that listened to that kind of music. We would compare notes every day about what we had heard the night before. We knew that this was 'Black Music' but that didn't mean a whole lot to either one of us. There were no African Americans living in the beach cities at that time; if there were, we had never seen one. Thanks to my parents, I had been raised to be without prejudice. I really didn't know how that applied in our lily white community but at least the thoughts had been planted in my brain. I did have a secret prejudice, one that I couldn't tell anyone about, and that was towards 'pachucos'.  There were maybe a dozen or more in school. They had a uniform of sorts. Tan pants pulled low with long tailed shirts worn outside the waist band. Duck tail haircuts. And they all lived in North Redondo. It was an odd sort of prejudice as none of them had ever talked to me. They simply seemed threatening.
Earl and I had lunch together so we could talk about some of the scandalous music we had heard; 'Work With Me Annie' followed by 'Annie Had a Baby' by Hank Ballard and the Midnighter's were
examples of that kind of music. We loved it! We reveled in the fact that we knew all about this music and the rest of the high school was clueless. (that didn't last long...by 1956 everyone knew about Johnny Otis and R&B)

Earl and I also attracted other 'nerds', though that wasn't a term that was in use in the 1950's; you get the idea though. As a group or singly, we were purposely ignored. Just another reason why I disliked my high school years...

#miracosta #1955

Friday, August 21, 2015

The weekend is here...at last!

Silence has fallen over the neighborhood as the big Cat graders, back hoes, tractors and vibrators have been parked and switched off. It's the weekend and they quit early every Friday. But Monday morning the roar of big diesel engines will fill the air as they continue to dig and grade for the 19 home tract right behind our house. The plates and dishes will resume their dance as the vibrating compactor passes by and I will silently curse the builder. 

Speaking of solar energy; on the plus side of life, the electricians have finished their work and the city has inspected and approved all that they have done. All we need now is for the power company to come out make the final 'connection'. I got a preview of what kind of power we will generate from our 7.3 Kw panel array on the roof. The electrician turned it on for an hour of testing and he asked me to turn the home thermostat down to 65 degrees. I did and then watched as the screen showed I was using .45 watts of the power company's power. All the rest was mine. And this was on an overcast and hazy day. I'm excited!

The corticosteroid injection for my SI joint pain hasn't begun to work yet. All very depressing. So I'm doing what any normal person with autism spectrum disorder does; I count things. I'm busily deleting all of my image files from storage on Amazon's servers. If you have a Prime membership, you can store an unlimited number of image files and 5GB of documents. Well, I had a large number all right, 33,000 plus. And as I delete them, I count them and then count how many remain. I had collected images of everything and had put them all in folders. Not bad; until they became scrambled somehow and began duplicating themselves. I couldn't keep up with it so I decided to delete them and start all over. Of course I have copies of all of those files on another server. Two sets of copies to be factual. Yes, it makes me feel better. You have to trust me on that...

Back in the day; whenever I was troubled I would find something to count or to arrange. When we lived in the woods of northeastern California, I was reloading rifle and pistol cartridges. I had a reloading kit, complete with gun powder and bullets. You had to be precise when you were doing this and I would carefully count each item that went into the finished cartridge. I didn't do vey much shooting out at the range so I would ask people at work if they had any used cartridges and I would reload those and count them. I would open the boxes of shells I had finished the day before and I would count them again. All very soothing to me. 

Time to make a final count for the day and do some painting...

Thursday, August 20, 2015


We were greeted with an orange sun in the eastern sky. Smoke, from the many fires in the north state, is settling down around us and the air is definitely not safe to breathe. My voice is a raspy imitation of what I once sounded like and I cough frequently. That's life these days in the dry and flammable Pacific northwest.

I just came back from having coffee with my middle daughter; a Thursday morning tradition. We had to sit outside because the barista makes lots of iced coffees and that ice crushing blender makes a racket that shakes the room. But, we did sit under a shade canopy so that the smoke wouldn't fall on us.

Later. For some reason I was thinking about one of my early car purchases. It was just one of those stray thoughts that fly through your mind all day but this one lingered long enough for me catch and expand upon it. It was 1957 and I was 17, still in high school. I had been driving down Sepulveda (Pacific Coast Highway), in Redondo Beach, when I spotted a little red and white sports car in the lot of a used car dealer. I turned around, parked and went to look at it. It was a 1954 Austin Healey and I was hooked as soon as I opened the door and sat down behind the wheel.

Since I had been saving for a car and had a great after-school job, I had the money to buy it, $1,700. But what I needed was a parent to sign some paper that would allow me, a minor, to purchase the car. All I had to do was convince my dad that it was in my best interest to drive a sports car. So, I took him down to the car dealer and we walked all around the car, kicking the tires and lifting the hood to examine the engine. Then it was time to do the test drive.

I had already driven the car a few days ago so I knew how to start it and maneuver through the 4-speed floor shift. But, the clouds that had been growing darker decided to rain upon us at that moment. 'No problem' said the salesman and he showed me how to unsnap and lift the top into place. He opened the trunk and removed the side windows from a protective carrier. The early Austin Healey was a true roadster; no rollup windows for a real aficionado of sports cars! The side windows even came with a hinged flap at the bottom so you could thrust your arm out into the rain and signal for your turns.

We both got in and that was when I discovered that my 6'-2" frame meant that my head was jammed up against one of the supports for the top. No matter; I knew I would rarely need the top to be up. After all, we lived in sunny Southern California and it rarely rained. Ever.

I put the car in gear and pulled out into traffic. What a rush! When you are sitting a mere 8" off of the pavement and have what seems to be a powerful engine at your command, everything speeds up. You barely turn the wheel and you're in the next lane. You can feel as well as hear the growl of the exhaust as you wind the engine up in each gear. I was definitely in love with this car!

We didn't drive very far as I could tell that my dad didn't care for us test driving in the rain. I got us back safely, but would he sign the papers? He did, and I drove my new car home. And that was the car that I still regret selling. In 1959 I joined the Navy and was then assigned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. I couldn't envision me driving across country in my car and I didn't want to put it up on blocks (why not?) so I sold it to a friend. I never saw it again. But I still dream about it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I'm back from my appointment with my pain doctor. I received an injection of corticosteroids right in the left side of the SI joint...that's where the ouch! comes from. She guides the needle in using ultrasound to visualize the joint. I've already had one of these injection before; one for the right side of the SI joint, back in April. This is the fourth injection I've had from this doctor and I think she is simply the very best. She is very sympathetic and listens carefully to everything you say. She is also very professional, using the latest equipment and techniques. If this injection is going to stop the pain it may take up to two weeks before it does. I'm eager for the pain to go away as I've been using far too much Norco to cancel the pain.

Oh, to be 25 again! But...I'm gaining on 75. sigh.

Odd, but I keep thinking that I have already posted something about these injections but I can't find any so I guess my memory is faulty. Again.

Our solar project is almost complete. The electricians finished everything  except for the breaker switch and he will install that tomorrow. He has already called for the inspector and if he gets the go-ahead, he will notify the power company and they could be out here by the first of the week to make the switch from expensive to cheap.

The invertor hangs on the garage wall and is equipped with a network connection so that I can see a graphic image of the performance on my computer or even my iPhone. The invertor, or convertor if you wish, turns solar DC power into household ready AC power. If Thomas Edison had been successful in pushing his DC power we would not need this invertor./convertor. But Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse were the winners...well, Westinghouse was successful; he bought all 40 of Tesla's DC power patents. But Tesla lives on as the name of the most spectacular electrically powered car ever built. So far...

Monday, August 17, 2015

My take

Every once in awhile, the news of the world condition becomes so sad that I have to sit down and write about it. I do it for myself. I talk about it constantly to my family; more often than not, to myself. Considering my age, 74 and 11/12ths, I believe they often they write me off as an old fool. But, writing it down gives my thoughts some degree of permanence.

I am a long time subscriber to the Economist. I believe that this newspaper gives the clearest view of what is happening in the world. Yes, the Economist is a champion of capitalism while I am not. But that doesn't seem to effect their coverage of the news. I doubt that I am the only socialist that reads their newspaper.

I read the Economist every weekend (if it arrives on time) and compare this weeks news with last weeks. I also read the Economist on-line for a daily view of what's happening in the world. Then I top it off with daily readings on-line of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. If you follow world news yourself, you may wonder why I subject myself to such a depressing agenda. At times, I wonder about that as well. But, what I find more depressing is the fact that so few Americans even bother to read the world news. Most Americans read the headlines and call that good enough.

History and geography. The two school subjects that are almost universally hated, beginning in grammar school. So it is no wonder that Americans avoid the subjects once they are free from the constraints of the classroom. It would take better teachers, well paid teachers, to change this outcome...but that's a different story and for a different time. In the meantime, we have generations of Americans that do not know where Iran is or its history.They have no idea as to why 'they' hate us. They being the leaders of Iran. Most Americans don't know of the long association of the Bush family with the royal family of Saudi Arabia. Most Americans have no clue as to what the word 'Zionism' means. Since most of our politicians and news organizations are bought and paid for by Jewish Americans, most will never know of the Stern Gang, Irgun and similar terrorist organizations in Israel. Yes, the Stern Gang et al are ancient history but there are new names for the same terrorists. Most Americans have no idea that the British and the French divided up the Middle East as they saw fit after they defeated the Ottoman Empire. If you really want to know who caused the present unrest in the Middle East, look to London and Paris for the answer.

Okay, I've gone far enough for the day. I may write more later...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

In the AM

It's early and the sky is just now beginning to turn that beautiful shade of blue that says the sun will soon be shining on us. Looking over the fence I can see the two excavators that will roar into life in about an hour and they will then dominate all the sounds in the area. Boo, the Magical Cat, has pestered me enough so that I let her out into the backyard. When she hears the roar of the excavators she will be back at the door, begging for admittance. Today is also the day for watering the yard. One of the three days a week we are allotted for sprinklers to sprinkle and soakers to soak. But...a news flash just appeared in the upper right hand corner of the screen on my laptop; "A strengthening El Nino in the Pacific Ocean has the potential to become one of the most powerful on record, federal climate officials said today." Now that is good news! If only it comes true...

There will be some additional noise this morning as the Sun Power crew continues with the installation of our solar power plant. They will finish up tomorrow and then we will have to wait a week or so before the power company becomes our customer for a change. A very welcome change! The solar panels are on the south side of the roof and can't be seen from the street; something my wife wanted. I was hoping that they could be seen; a symbol of the future.

While I'm typing I am waiting for the pain killers to kick in. Lately, I have been plagued by a severe pain in my left hip. I had the same pain, but, in my right hip about a year ago. I have a wonderful pain doctor and I have an appointment to see her at 11 this morning. Self diagnosis is not a good thing, but I do believe that this pain is caused by an inflammation of the bursa around the Greater Trocanter...or the 'hip bone'. Last time, an injection of corticosteroids fixed things up in about two days. The pain from the injection itself was enough to make me cry. But I will welcome it today!

Tomorrow, I have an appointment with my dermatologist. He will greet me with one hand for me to shake while his other hand will be holding the liquid nitrogen spray. After about fifteen minutes I will emerge from his office with dozens of burn marks where he has used the liquid nitrogen to burn off all suspected pre-cancerous growths. My life as a 'beach rat' is catching up to me; luckily, he has never found any full blown skin cancer.

As I have noted before, I have too many doctors. In 2004, when I retired, I had no doctors to call my own. Zip. Zero. Nada. Now I have seven. With another half dozen holding files on me and my body. This is not exactly how I had planned my retirement.

But, on the positive side; one of our daughters and one of our granddaughters will be over this morning for a game of Monopoly. They will be bringing the coffee, a caramel Macchiato for me. We usually meet at a local coffee shop on Thursdays but they love board games and we're changing our habits today. Let the game begin!  

Sunday, August 9, 2015


What can one say about last weeks Republican 'debate'. Of course, it wasn't a debate at all. It was...words fail me.

Okay, I do know that it wasn't entertainment; far from it. Also, it was not informative, inasmuch I didn't receive any information that would lead me to changing my mind about any of the ten 'debaters'. And, I do know that it was a waste of my time.

I was hoping, really hoping, that a statesman of his political party would emerge from the fray. No, it was lies from the very beginning. I only watched for about an hour and then I switched over to the live Twitter feed from PolitiFacts. They were doing fact checking during the debate and it was an ugly scene. This is what I don't understand; don't these politicians understand that we are living in the 21st century and everything they have said or done in public (sometime private) has been recorded and is searchable. Every database that records their accomplishments is open for our inspection. We don't have to take their word for it. we can look it up! I guess they are simply 'stupid'. (I think Trump said that)

Friday, August 7, 2015


Next Tuesday, a crew from a local solar power contractor will begin the installation of a 7.3 Kilowatt solar power unit on our roof. Then, within two weeks or less, my electrical meter will begin turning in the opposite direction as I sell my excess electricity to our power company, PG&E. I will have a fixed cost for the lifetime of the lease and that will become more valuable as the years pass and inflation makes my fixed cost even more of a value to us.

We picked Sun Power for the panels as they had the best reputation, and a local contractor does the installation. We had noted earlier that solar power sellers were springing up everywhere and they had salesmen working the home improvement stores as well as going door to door. That 'turned us off'. So we went looking for the one that had been around longer than all the rest. We went to their Solar Design Center and asked all the right questions. We got good answers. The installation won't cost us a dime. We have one monthly payment, and that is about 1/2 of what we used to pay PG&E. They said they would assign a customer relations person to us and that person would keep in close contact with us  throughout the process. And this representative has called us every two days and will do so till the final sign off.

The area where we live is seeing a flood of solar power installations. The two high schools here have covered parking and that cover is all solar panels. They've had them for close to ten years now. The local JC has been a leader in solar power installations with two large power plants. Sierra Nevada Brewery, a local company that has now gone nationwide has been using solar power for years now. We took a tour of the brewery last year and at one point we were in an open staircase that was high enough to see that the entire roof of the plant and the parking lot was covered by solar panels. They provide the brewery with over 90% of it's power needs. Sierra Nevada just opened an east coast brewery near Asheville NC and we heard that is has even more solar panels.

No, I'm not a salesman for solar power. I'm just excited at the prospect of selling electricity instead of buying it. That's a real 'turn on'.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The sun is shining

It's Monday and I'm waiting for the first hint of activity from the construction project next door. It's not quite 7 AM and I expect the noise to start around 7:30. By that time I will be packed and ready to go to the gym for the morning. I will get some respite there...

I must be positive! I must not let this small blip in my life turn me into a full time curmudgeon.

I was reminded, the other day, of just how many homes we have lived in during our 52 years of marriage. This is home number 11. The first 3 were apartments and number 4 was a rental house. All the rest, up to number 9, were ours and our mortgage holders. We were able to own the last two outright.

House number 7 was the first one that was not located near a place where I could work. We bought 8 acres in the forest near Janesville, CA. We wanted to get away from the suburbs of Los Angeles and find an uncomplicated life for our children. Janesville had no stoplights and only 4 Stop signs. Population 700? There was a great school there and the sky was blue. There were four seasons and the kids were soon into 4-H and raising sheep. But the downside was that I had to drive 75 miles one way to find work in Reno, NV. We lived like that for 11 years and then my longtime employer went bankrupt and I had to find another job. The job found me but it involved a move back to a city; Roseville, CA. The children were now adults and had moved on to their own lives so moving wasn't so traumatic. And...I no longer had to cut 7 cords of wood every year to keep warm.

Roseville was a small suburb of Sacramento and we found a nice house there. With a thermostat. We lived there for 16 years; until I retired.

(7:16 and the noise has started. The first heavy duty grader has just blocked out the sun as it passed by our kitchen window. Ah! There are the melodic sounds of the "Backup Signal")

After retirement we began looking for a place near our daughters; they lived in Chico. We didn't want to live so close that we were a nuisance but we did want to be close enough so that we could see our children and grandchildren on a more regular basis. I also wanted some land; I had visions of becoming a gentleman farmer, away from the city lights. We found a one acre orchard and house with a pool. Perfect! It was 20 minutes away from Chico, in the farm town of Orland.

We lasted 7 years out there. I had assumed that since we were so close to a University, life would be pleasant; lots of technology and culture available. Wrong. There was no culture in Orland. Only farmers and farmland. Oh, we tried to fit in. We joined the Friends of the library and one of the local churches. I became a board member with the Glenn County Seniors Association. We had friends. And our grandchildren came by to use the pool...but not often enough. It turned out that the 20 minute trip out and 20 minutes back was a big chunk out of a busy family's life.

Once I began to have medical issues I found that we would have to drive in to Chico to see a doctor. And a hospital. And a dentist. I began to joke that the Sacramento River was the location of a hole in the space/time continuum and Orland was in the 20th century while Chico, on the other side of the river, was in the 21st.

About 4 years ago we decided that the almost daily trips to see our doctors was too much. We needed to move to town. That's where house number 11 comes on the scene. We like it here and we hope this is the last house for us. Our daughters are just a few minutes away and that's a good thing.

That doesn't stop me from daydreaming about living somewhere else. Hilo, HI and Santa Fe, NM are current contenders for my ideal spot to live. I love the beach and was raised at the beach; Manhattan Beach. But that town no longer exists. We just came back from visiting the Oregon coast and there are some wonderful places there. Manzanita Beach is far and away my favorite. But...we will be here for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cranky old man

Another quiet week...not! There is a 19 home development going in right behind us and they have begun site work. This involves moving a lot of dirt around and to do that they have to use some heavy machinery. Noisy machinery!

When we bought the house we knew that the fence line was only 15' feet from the house but since there was a 5 acre farm behind us we weren't concerned. There were some horses,  goats and a few donkeys back there but they weren't a problem. Then the farm was sold and plans were made for 19 homes on the 5 acres.

We thought we were prepared for the construction phase but we soon realized that the 15 feet between us and them...wasn't nearly enough! They have been moving dirt since last Monday and they have been doing it for 9 hours a day. Yesterday it was for 10 hours. This is a clue that they are non-union builders. And yesterday was a day for compacting the soil by using a vibrating compactor. The glasses and dishes in our kitchen cupboard were dancing! And it never stopped...for 10 hours.

I'm going to assume that they only have another day or two of site preparation before that work will be done and they will move on to less bothersome activities. Such as forming and then pouring the concrete pads; hammers and the concrete pump. After that they will begin framing; lots of hammering. Plumbing and electrical will be some of the quietest work but will be followed by the interior and exterior finish work; more nailing! Roofing; nailing! and then quiet once again as they paint...but, what I haven't mentioned is that since these are non-union contractors, they will work any hours they want and we can expect noise from sunup to sundown.

The finished homes will sit 60 feet away from the common fence and that will help. Plus, they are supposed to be selling in the mid $400,000 dollar range and that will help our property values around here. On the minus side, they are still just shacks built by non-union labor. Do you get the feeling that I am very much a Union Carpenter even though I am retired? What gave you a clue?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More fishing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

Continuing to Fish

Continued from the last post...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fish story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

'Throw Back Thursday'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 19, 2015

In the olden days...

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


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

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

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


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

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

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Views

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

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

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Oregon memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Art for Arts Sake

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 5, 2015

And now it's the 5th...

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 4, 2015

It's the 4th!

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 18, 2015


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

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Getting ready

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I've been profiled...

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

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

Member Profile

Featured Member Profile

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 5, 2015

My dizzy past.

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

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

I miss me....

Thursday, June 4, 2015


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


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

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

United States
Czech Republic
United Kingdom

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