Sunday, February 28, 2016

If this then that

That's IFTTT.  It's a great site that gives you some simple programming to make your life a little easier and a lot more interesting. You don't have to do the programming; it's all done for you in 'recipes'. My mind isn't all that sharp anymore and so these little 'recipes' do for me what I wish I could do myself...if I could remember to do them. Or remember to remember.

I may have mentioned this site before. I think I started using them about a year ago. And here they are, a year later and still around. I guess that makes them 'successful'.

They have recipes for Mac's and for PC's. Recipes for iOS and for Windows. Apple and Android. The recipes can set your thermostat and /or turn on/off your lights. I have an Ecobee thermostat and I found a recipe that will email/message me whenever the interior temperature reaches 105 degrees. I now have a fire alarm. I can set the temperature for that warning; maybe it should be 100 degrees? I also have a recipe that automatically sends any photo I take to my Dropbox. NASA now sends me the photo of the day. I get a message every time the International Space Station passes overhead. There are 100's of recipes and you may find one or two that will fit you.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Just what I need...

More medical decisions being made by...Governor's? I just read that the GOBC of Governor's has decided that they will be implementing their own rules concerning the use of opioids. The GoodOldBoysClub should keep their hands off and let the physicians handle this. Start giving money to the law enforcement branches that investigate the over prescribing and other violations of the drug laws. That's where it would do some good. But doing this will cost just a fraction of what it would take to do it right. And it's all about the 'budget. The fact that they have ignored this for so long has just made it harder and more expensive to correct. We really don't need another set of laws on top of good laws.

As a patient with long term pain (7 years) I have to worry about the damage these bureaucrats will do to those of us that require pain medications. And no, I am not addicted. After 7 years I take less Norco than I did seven years ago. The pain levels fluctuate over the years and so does the amount of Norco consumed. I was taking Fentanyl once; a very dangerous opioid. Guaranteed to make you 'high'. I told the doctor that I needed something less potent. Recently, about 2 weeks ago, I asked the doctor to reduce the amount of MS Contin I was taking. That's the way it is supposed to work; the doctor and the patient, together, determining the proper dose.

What will I do once the state determines that I've had enough Norco for the month and I need more? Really. Need. More. I know I've written about this problem before but the news article I just read revived my interest. I know that once the pain starts and I'm without a drug to alleviate it, I'm going to be mad. Mad, but without the ability to place some pain on the Governor. Let him experience pain! I guess I will have to start using marijuana. And my Medicare won't pay for it. So it's another expense for an elder on a fixed income. Technically, I can get a medical marijuana card (another expense) and then buy some weed; but not in this county. This county is solid red and redneck and they hassle medical marijuana card holders. "We know what you're really using this grass for! And it's not for any so-called pain!"

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

It's time for me to take a break

I'm developing tics. I have moments of rage. I sometimes cry uncontrollably. And all because it's 2016, an election year, and I'm watching the Stoopids explaining their reasoning for voting as they do. No, it's not nice to make fun of the intellectually challenged and so I must find something else to do with my time during these next 9, or is it 8 months? I really don't need to see any political ads. I already have a candidate to vote for. It's the Anti-Stoopid, whoever the Democrats choose.

And then there are the Senators that have chosen, once more, to display the fact that they hate a black man as President. They are willfully deciding to disobey the law and will not even talk to a candidate for Justice of the Supreme Court. I think it's seditious. I think they should be arrested. A 5 million plus majority of Americans voted for Mr. Obama and we want him to do his job; nominate someone for the post of Justice. But to do what they are doing, willfully disobeying the law...a law that was never challenged until these old white men saw a black President; we have become the laughing stock of the world.

Stamp collecting? Maybe that would take my mind off this sorry state of affairs.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Now what?

       As I noted last week,  the art show opening is over  and there were no new red dots/sales over the past week and weekend.  It's just a waiting game for any additional sales and sometime in March I will take the paintings back home. I really want to see a lot of them back on our walls. I have grown to love them. I've been painting to keep myself sane and it's working so far.
        While I was doing nothing the other day, I thought I should have some business cards, and then I thought about what should be printed on those cards. I came up with these ideas...
Steven Dunn, Artist 
Available for the Painting of Murals to Miniatures
Abstract and Abstract Expressionism are our Specialty
Sales and Rentals of Well Mannered Miniature Horses
Certified Dealer in New and Used Samovars. 
I am an Exclusive Dealer For the Troika All Brass Electric Samovar
We buy, sell, trade and swap       
Gently Used Samovars. Email us for an Appraisal
Food Stylist…Reasonable rates. Dinners Only
Curmudgeonly Dock Walloper With Over 20 Years of Experience in the Field

Maybe I should put all of these on a card...using the front and back of course. 

I think I had better go back to my painting.

Scrapping the scrap books

It's early on a Monday morning and I'm busy taking photographs of my scrapbook, page by page. I'm doing this so that I can keep it on my computer as a compilation of JPG files and file it under "Scrapbook", of course. I love scrapbooks and photo albums. And this scrapbook in particular. I may have mentioned it before; it's a scrapbook that contains all sorts of business cards. I saved business cards, starting back in the 1980's. I have a vague memory of one like that that my Dad had and I really wish I had it now, even though it was quite small. But I don't; What I do have are a lot of current business cards as well as old ones and all the expired credit cards I once used. I have all my old drivers licenses. Fishing and hunting licenses. Plastic room keys for hotels I stayed at. Cards from all of my doctors and dentists. Hospitals. I think you get the idea. I have almost filled this very large album and I'm ready to start shopping for a new one. If I have 3 or 4 of any one item, I will begin to collect more. I'm not an active collector of solid objects. I don't sniff out the items I want on Ebay or Craigslist. If they come to me, I take them. That's all.

I have Autism Spectrum Disorder and so collecting comes naturally to me. I'm lucky; I have a wonderful wife and she keeps me and my collections under control and mostly invisible. The collections are invisible, not me. Every once in awhile, she will insist that some items must go and she gives me a good argument as to why they should go...and with some sadness, I will pack them up and take them away. When I was the IT guy for our local branch office I collected electronics. Lots and lots of electronics. Keyboards, monitors, mice and everything in between, plus all the cables that made them work. I was persuaded to surrender them to a local salvage group that was turning the junk into working computers, printers and scanners for the local high school district. I'm down to 2 small boxes now, mostly cables.

The computer has become a wonderful tool for me as a collector. I have folder after folder filled with images of things. I have 67,000 plus images on my Flickr account. Close to the same on my Amazon Prime account. Then there are Google Photos and Dropbox, plus my Apple Cloud account. All filled with thousands upon thousands of images. Did I mention that I also have these images saved on 3 portable hard drives and a couple of 'jump' drives? All of these images help in keeping my collecting under control. A photograph of something is almost as good as having the real thing. Besides, lately I've been collecting images of old steam locomotives; where would I keep one of those? In the backyard? Nope, but I do have over 1,000 images of these beautiful steam driven wonders.

And talk about how easy it is to collect! All I have to do is decide on what I want to collect and then let Google be my guide. Fruit box labels? I have hundreds already but I can always use a few more. And one of my latest; complimentary ash trays. Every hotel room had them. Every bar and restaurant. Every casino. Now I have hundreds of them and I'm looking for more; via Google. My mom and dad had a very small match book cover collection; maybe 50 covers. When it became mine, it was down to half that number. I'm beginning my own collection and it will be huge; maybe 500 MB. Yes, I have car collections. And auto advertising. And auto accessories. Get the idea?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

continuing in the same vein said the phlebotomist

I've been trying to paint recently and it's been terrible. Very bad. Awful. I stink. Up till the time of the show I was creative. I was cranking out good paintings every 3 or 4 days. I was surprising myself with the quality. Then it stopped. The day after the show opened I finished two paintings that I had started earlier. One turned out to be a fine piece, the other, not so much but still worthy of my signature. Right now I have 5 paintings in rotation. I paint over them on a daily basis; wasting paint.

I suppose I shouldn't force it. If I have talent, and I know I have, it will come back. Maybe a change in format would help. The smart thing to do would be to paint small once again. Saves money on canvas and on paint. But I have a large 4'x4' piece of hardboard that I have painted on before. It just needs some bracing on the back of it and I could work on that. I love large paintings and the ones I'm having difficulty with are small, 16x20.

More sunshine here. We had a few days of partial rain, certainly nothing to brag about. Trees are blossoming and it is at least a month early for them. I don't know what this will do to the local money crops of almonds and walnuts.Some ranchers are doing olives and I suppose they will be fine. Olives are not weather dependent. I know the apricots are in trouble. They blossomed a good 5 weeks early and they are a very sensitive crop.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The second one...

I got carried away and posted that last bit of writing just a bit too fast. I had one more painting to describe.

This is a watercolor with pen and ink. It's on a medium weight paper and it's mounted on  a thin piece of Foamcore. It's been banging around the studio for the past 8 years? I think so. It's easily one of my first drawing/paintings.

It had never been in a frame but I found these 80% off frames at Aaron Bros. the other day and $8 for a frame, a neutral looking frame at that, was hard to resist. I bought four of these, 16x20 at $8 each. And two at 10x12 at $6 each. A bargain.

After I framed it, I had to admit that it looked much better. It turned out to be my wife's favorite. Half a dozen people commented as to how much they liked this one and wished they had been there sooner and bought it themselves. Who knew? Anyway, it was titled "Frenzy' and it sold for a $100.

After the Opening

It was a grand opening night. Sort of. I sold two paintings. Or, you could say that I sold three paintings as one was a diptych. They were small paintings and only $100 each. I sold the diptych myself. That doesn't sound right? I sold a painting. Personally. The one I sold was the diptych. I'm sure it's understood now. But, there is a story to go along with the sale. An older gentlemen (younger than me but barely) approached me and asked if I was the artist? I confessed and he said; "There is a painting over there...I guess two of them. And they have the word "space" on them. Are they about space? Or what?" I went with him over to the paintings and explained that "Spaces" was the title of the paintings. That they were watercolors on a heavy watercolor paper (300#). And that the paintings were representative of what is called a 'reflected ceiling plan' in architecture and that I had painted it because I had a long career in the construction industry. I had painted it for fun. Actually, I had painted about 6 but these were the only two I had entered. Now I should mention that this guy had a gruff voice and looked like Broderick Crawford. He looked as if he had had a rough life. He was short and compact with a demeanor that told me that he would be no pushover in a bar room brawl. And so he tells me..."I'm a retired English teacher and a friend of mine is an architect. Would he be able to see that that this was an architectural painting? I want to give it to him as a present". I assured him that any architect would recognize that this painting was inspired by 'blue print' drawings. He thanked me for the information and left. A few minutes later I see him return to the painting; this time he has one of the sales people with him. I watched her put a red dot on the tag next to the painting. I had just sold a painting! A $100 painting. Or, a $70 painting for me and a $30 painting for the gallery. Truth is, 30% is pretty low for a commission in the art world. I heard that it's more commonly 40% or more.

Everything was wrong about these paintings and I was really glad to see them gone. The frames were wrong. I hate frames! The colors are not right. These are watercolors but applied with a very dry brush over a wash that was applied over a pen and ink drawing. It's an embarrassment and it's gone! And I learned another lesson about not judging people until after you have met them. An English teacher? Who would have guessed? Now I'm stuck; it's sort of customary to write a 'thank you' note to the buyer (they can't have the painting till the end of the show) but if he's an English teacher that means he will be scrutinizing my note writing efforts. Will he hand it back to me with errors noted and a grade given, all in red pencil?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Are you kidding me?

In my last posting I complained at the end that my memory was failing due to to the drugs I have been taking. Did I remember that fact? No, I read it on my blog.

I had a great day on Tuesday. I went over the exhibit at the art center with the director, making sure that I was happy with the exhibit. He loved one of my smaller pieces ($100) and said that he would buy it right then if he wasn't an employee. Then he pointed to a larger picture ($600) and said he would buy that one as well...but he can't. He used 32 of my paintings and would have used them all if he had more wall space. I was thrilled. And the pieces looked so good under the professional lighting.

This morning I was having coffee with my daughter and my wife. My daughter mentioned that the childhood home of Jackson Pollock was for sale. What? I didn't even know that he had ever lived here. The house is quite old, built in 1903, but is very well kept. And they only want $9,000,000 for it. Did I mention that comes with a 17 acre almond orchard. Still, that is expensive for an orchard.

Now that I knew that Pollock had once lived here, I knew that I must be 'channeling' him and perhaps I had driven by the house when I painted this one. It's 24"x24" and painted with acrylics on a birch panel. And I want $220 for it. That's a steal!

After coffee it was time for me to visit my nephrologist. Nephrology, or care of the kidneys became an issue about 2 years ago and a nephrologist was recommended for me. Great doctor and we got along right from the beginning. First thing he said was 'drink more water!' 3 visits later and my lab work told him that I would no longer need to see him. That's good! I've been gathering up physicians of every specialty...or so it seemed. And his advise had worked; drinking more water was the primary reason for the change. It seems that elders stop drinking a lot of water as they age. That stresses the kidneys and in turn all the of the other systems. The road leading up to a cardiac event may have had its beginnings in a drop in water consumption. Drink more water! Keep a water bottle with you at all times.

Was I talking about memory recently? Maybe...either way mine is shot. And I'm hoping this is due to a temporary increase in pain meds. I may have to trade memory for pain. Okay; I want my memory back and I'm willing to have some pain for it.

Clumsiness is back as well and once again I'm hoping it is caused by the pain meds. I haven't fallen yet. I have a suspicion, a slight one, that my neurologist may be on the right track. He had looked at a CAT scan of my brain from 4 or 5 years ago and saw what could be symptoms of Normal Pressure Hydrocephaly. He wants an MRI brain scan (March 6th) so he can see the area of suspicion in better detail. The NPH could easily be the cause for the memory problems and the clumsiness...or not. We will see.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Time and time again. Did I say that already?

I have been reading Ronni Bennett's blog this morning and the one I'm reading is the Monday blog. Perhaps, Ronni doesn't get up as early as I do?

That aside, the blog is focused on SSI. I don't know about you, but I think about SSI quite often. That's our Social Security investment. At the age of 16 I was washing dishes at Tai Song, a local Chinese restaurant. That is the first place where I was paid weekly. A real job. It's also the first place where I saw the letters 'SSI' and a dollar figure after it. I knew I had earned that money and now the government (you and I) was taking a portion of it to keep, for safety's sake, until the day I retired. I certainly didn't think that my retirement, at that time, was 48 years ahead of me.

Over the years, the SSI amount changed. I no longer worked at a Chinese restaurant. I worked at a gas station and I worked at a liquor store. The government (you and I) kept taking out that money even when I worked directly for the country. I was in the Navy and at the time, SSI was a bigger part of my wages because the government (you and I) paid me so very little. A large amount or not, I knew the money was mine and it was an investment. An investment in my future.

By now you must know that I believe the government to be controlled by the citizens. I don't believe it to be part of a grand conspiracy to control the citizens. I don't believe in 'grand conspiracies'. Every conspiracy has a weak point and that's one of its members. Or two. Show me evidence of a grand conspiracy that worked. They all fail because no one can keep a secret.

My retirement age was 9 years ago and one thing we have learned during those 9 years was that we need that money. And we are very lucky elders. We both worked for a union construction company. I was in the Carpenter's Union for 25+ years and my pension money was guaranteed.  It still is. The last 20 years in my working life I worked in management for a construction company. I had a 401(k) and a pension. No one ever told me what to do with my 401(k) and so I did nothing with it. At my core, I was still a carpenter and not a financier. I suppose that if someone had said that the 401(k) was important, I might have made some learned investments and we would be multi- millionaires now. But no one did and I didn't and here we are.

We are living comfortably but we keep an eye on our investments. We have a financial planner. That's all they do. They don't sell insurance or anything else out of their offices. It's a father and son team and they have two offices. They are conservative by nature but will invest in any manner that you wish. I've been a customer for over 10 years and we seem to be quite comfortable with each other.

oh, seems like I'm going astray. I was going to stay on the subject of SSI and I've begun to wander away. It's the drugs that make writing such a chore. I have an IQ that's into the 140's, very low 140's, but I can't remember common words. I start to write and my mind drifts away. Pretty soon I'm talking to myself. The words 'doddering old fool' come to mind. Maybe I will try this again when I'm thinking a little more coherently...

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Life and more life

Lots of stuff happening these days; or so it seems. I have the opening night reception of my first ever art show coming on Friday night. I was worried about it till today. Today being the day I went to the gallery to see how the hanging was coming along. Our art director had everything under control and it is going to look very nice. Others in our painting group seemed to have the same thought about it. There was one glitch; one of my paintings sold before the show opened. That's a no-no. And the sale of that painting had to be canceled. An art center volunteer had bought it and she came to me to apologize profusely.  It was a $100 painting, so I was quite happy that she thought my painting was worth it. As I walked the gallery, the director pointed out one of my larger pieces, a 30"x48" painting and he said that he would would buy that one in a minute if it hadn't been just a little over his budget. I understood; it was selling for $600. If it doesn't sell during the show, I will offer it to him for $500.

I had to go to the big radiation center today for an MRI. What an ordeal! It turned out to be a 2 hour MRI of my upper and lower back with and without contrast media. With my painful hip and spine giving me fits all during the time I was in the 'tube'. And the tech that was handling it was making me more and more more irritated. He kept referring to me as "young man" or "youngster". It's obvious that I am 75 years old. He may have thought that he was being cute. He was not. I had my perfect response for the next time he said it and of course he didn't do it. It is starting to irritate me more and more when they treat me as a less than capable (mentally) just because I have a physical condition that hampers my ability to do lay up shots or play a 6 sets of tennis. We all get old; get over it! If you help me, do it because you see see that I need some help, not because I'm old and need help for everything. Sorry, I'm not expressing myself very well. That's due to the meds I'm taking.  As long as I take this morphine sulfate along with half a dozen Norco tablets and a few Dilaudid each day I will be be forgetful (who wouldn't be?) and will be talking out loud on a regular basis. At least I'm not out wandering around the neighborhood! (I don't think I am?)

I guess that is about it. My old bones need a rest and I can do that if I look into the front room and see my old recliner. I will have to talk my cat out of it, but she won't mind sleeping on my stomach. When she rests on me it reduces my pain.