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 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. 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' 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 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 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?