It has been a long long time since I came to post. I should tell you that starting in December, I began losing my mind. I was in the hospital twice with pneumonia and it was during those times that my memory of all events failed me. At one point I was unable to walk and it must have been suggested that I would need a wheelchair. I now have 2 of them; one is for being pushed and the other is self propelled. They have never been used. The last thing I remember is getting in an ambulance for a short ride across town to a 'Rehab' hospital where I was checked in to the quarantine area. It was then that we found out my wife and I would be separated by glass. We could use telephones to talk to one another. She would be standing or sitting on a chair in the bright sunlight while I would be sitting in the cool comfort of an air conditioned room. I have a lot of stories regarding the 'best rehab hospital' in Chico, but those are all for a different time.
Monday, August 31, 2020
I'm 79. I've told you that plenty of times before, but today is a different kind of ageing for me. It's my last day as a youthful man of 79. Tomorrow, I will wake up (I hope) as an old man of 80 years. That's simply amazing to me. To most others, it's no big deal. All over the globe people are doing the very same thing. Not as many as the number entering the world 80 years ago. Some have dropped out early while others more recently
How could I have attained such an age? I can't remember making it to an age and then telling myself " I sure hope I can make to 80". And today, my son announced that the State Disability Insurance people have ok'd his surgery. He has had a tear in the muscle caused by a bone spur. This will be the second surgery for the problem. He works for the State and when he reported the continuing pain despite physical therapy. That was close to 3 years ago and they (the State) have sent him to a multitude of orthopods. Some of them were close to 200 miles away. My son had suggested some that were close to 10 miles away and others as far as 75 miles. They rejected all. of those. As the years went by, without a decision the condition of his shoulder deteriorated.
My son had another bit of news for us. He said that he would retire sometime during his recuperation. He wouldn't have to go back to the prison...oops, the correctional center. At the age of 51 with a full retirement, he will be looking into pursuing a new career. That bad shoulder will still belong to the state.
He will be glad to get away from the seniority system, as that never made sense to him and he refused to participate. He stayed a Corrections Officer for the duration. He had been urged by the Warden to take the Sergeant's exam and he took it to see if he could pass it. He did. Then stayed where he was. If he had become a Sergeant, he would lose his seniority and the shifts he needed. As a single dad, he needed to be home for the kids. Later he was asked to move up to Lieutenant, even Assistant Warden. The answer was always no and he doesn't regret it. In my career, I saw some seniority problems handled handled the right way. I was given a second check on payday, as the fact that I was an apprentice and being paid foreman's wages, made some of the journeyman angry. So my boss arranged for my payroll check to be reduced and I was sent the second check to cover the difference. The tension was reduced.
In another case, one of the journeyman hadn't put in quite enough hours for a decent pension. He was very old and didn't always make good decisions. Yet we all enjoyed his company and when working, he tried as hard as the others. We were all working piecework And when we could, we hired him put all the screws in the board and to install all of the metal trim. Or ha could install all of the board in the closets. His was just the first of this kind of behavior that I saw. Certainly not the last.
Thursday, August 27, 2020
( This was written. about 3 weeks ago) Yes, I know it has been a long time since my last post. I did some posting on my blog "Working". Still that was brief. I suppose it's the quarantine that has me feeling this way. Depressed. I have depression, or better yet, depression has me, and has for many years. I take a drug for it, Wellbutrin, but it doesn't seem to work as well as it once did. Normally, I enjoy solitude, but now it's just my wife and I rattling around this large house. We are getting along fine with only rare moments of mutual frustration. We have daughters and grandchildren no more than 10 minutes away, but it might as well be a million miles away.
We started this day with a brisk walk of 0.5 miles. I walked while gripping the handles of my bright red walker while my wife walked slowly behind me. That sounds terrible, I know. But, she is not being subservient by walking behind me. One, she has a very bad knee that will be replaced as soon as it's safe to do so. Two, the sidewalk is narrow, not allowing two to walk together, if one is using a walker. About 2 weeks ago, I started walking, increasing the length by 100 feet, more or less. My goal is one mile and that will require some exploring of new neighborhoods.
When the quarantine started, I lost my exercise time that I had enjoyed with other members of the Pulmonary Rehab group at the Rehabilitation Center of our local hospital. It didn't take long for me to start losing muscle mass and strength. Depression, and the quarantine, had me sitting all day, doing nothing that was physically demanding. I did spend some time sketching, but nothing came of it. Now I spend my time trying to file all my photos and images. It has been tried before and nothing came of it. One major problem has turned up right away, and that is the duplicates I find. I am using the Photos program that Apple installs on its Mac's and it seems to create these duplicates, triplicates, and quadruplicates. Before I can file an image, I have to erase all the copies. Usually, they are all together and that helps me. As you can imagine, that doesn't leave a lot of time for blogs.
I try to avoid thinking about Trump. Thinking about him and being outraged by every utterance of his will do nothing. Biden has been using the right method, so far, in his campaign. He doesn't answer him. He ignores Trump and that is already infuriating him. Finally, a lot of people are beginning to ignore him. I think that Kamala will be using that same method of dealing with him. I have seen that when Trump loses his temper, he doesn't moderate his thoughts, and then he says things that reveal the real Trump that his staff and cabinet don't want to be seen by his adoring public.
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Thursday, June 4, 2020
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
He lies constantly. Minute by minute, hour by hour, the lies mount up. Yet he refuses to admit an error, He never supplies evidence to support his claims. We're supposed to believe him just because he said it? Did you believe your 7 year old when they told an obvious fib, just because they were your 7 year old? If you did, you're a Trump fan. And 7 years old is where Trump's level of social intelligence lies.
And the claims that the mainstream media lies and it's all 'Fake News'? If that were true, the mainstream media would have been out of business 100 years ago. And we would be getting our news from supermarket tabloids and from our neighbors who heard it from another neighbor, and on and on. Why would anyone believe the 'Fake News' claim, when no evidence that it is fake, is produced?
Do average citizens believe anything they hear as long as it supports their established view? No they don't. They question it, as they should.
I was born a cynic, so it's easy for me to question authority. I also know when to submit to authority. I am a Navy veteran, so I've seen my share of dumb authority. Now, what I see & hear from the White House isn't simply 'dumb', it is evil. Yes, it is time to make America great again, but we have to throw away the red hats and question why we thought we should wear them.
Saturday, January 18, 2020
But now talk about long term memory and I can shine there. I'm depending on it right now; my son bought me a 400 piece jigsaw puzzle and it's been made by mapmarketing.com, a company in England, or maybe Great Britain. I'm always confused by that. The puzzle is made with a full color map from Google Earth that covers the place where I grew up in the 40's and 50's, Manhattan Beach. I need my memory to help me locate the streets that will connect all parts of the South Bay Beach cities. The box has no cover picture of the contents to help you, so you are on your own, and your memory. Heck, I can go to Google Earth and look it up myself, then print it. There goes a lot of the memory worries right there.
Now I remember... spiral binding! There is even a great sci-fi series I'm reading, where the focus of the book is/are The Spiral Wars. I should remember it, why didn't I?
As usual, there are a lot of health items. No one told us about this 'aging' process, or if they did, we weren't listening. My early career choices have come back to haunt me. Hanging drywall and being paid for it on a piecework basis. For every 4'x12' sheet of drywall (sheetrock) I put on the wall and nailed it there, would pay me 72 cents. I was in the Carpenter's Union at the time regular pay was $5 an hour, or $40 a day. I would only have to hang 55 sheets to equal that. That's easy! I could hang 8 sheets an hour easily... because I was young an very dumb. What that was doing to my spine was not apparent until I was in my late 60's. Then I learned in a hurry. Now, 11 years after that first surgery to fuse 3 vertebra, I have followed up with 4 more surgeries and numerous injections, all to no avail; the pain remains.
Last Monday, I slid into the MRI tube once more. I have done that 11 times. An x-ray taken a month ago revealed that my thoracic spine is falling apart. Compression fractures and bone thinning are the culprits this time. I have told my neurosurgeon that surgery wasn't going to happen this time. He agreed. Yesterday I was back at the radiology place for a CTA scan . This was to measure my aneurysm of the ascending aorta. I have scans every 3 months and this was my 6th scan or x-ray. I should be nervous about it, but that won't do anything, so I ignore it.
Besides a neurosurgeon, I have a neurologist, a urologist, a pulmonary doc, a thoracic surgeon, a dermatologist, a pain doc, the family doc and half a dozen others that are not currently active in my medical world, but they have been.
Yes, the 'Golden Years' are made of fool's gold. This all sounds very depressing and I must admit that I suffer from depression and take a drug for it. But, when being honest, I would not change my life. I wouldn't mind doing a little editing, but overall, my life brings me joy. The woman I share this life with and our children, grandchildren and even a great grandchild bring me a great deal of that joy.
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
...More about fishing later.
Thursday, December 19, 2019
Friday, December 6, 2019
On a different subject; I am spending most days collecting and filing old photo files of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. That includes the Los Angeles Aqueduct project, all the way up to the Mono Basin and Mono Lake. I probably have over 6,000 images filed away and I continue to find more of them. I know that sounds like OCS, but, it's actually autism. I found a website, Water and Power Associates, and they have thousands of images. And they have little nuggets of history along with the photos. But, there is a problem with all of this. My expensive (at the time) MacBook Pro is failing; and I have most of my photos on it. First, the Photos program stopped working altogether. Oh no! I researched on-line for a cure, for days without success. Then, I tried a simple hint and rebooted into Safe mode, opened Photos, closed it and then rebooted. Photos came back! Great news but a week later I lost all of my keyboard shortcuts, such as Cmd-C for Copy and Cmd -V for paste.
Plus all of the rest. I tried rebooting again. It worked...for about 2 weeks.Reboot again and this time it was cured for about a week. Now, it only works for a day or two. The Photos program is shaky but it is working 90% of the time. In the meantime, I am trying to move all of the rest of my photo files (36,000) to a stand alone hard drive with 4 TB of space. I would move them onto a new MacBook Pro, but the price is prohibitive. The same computer is now $500 more than what I paid, 5 years ago.
Here on the right is a 1910 photo of the steam pump belonging to Los Angeles Fire Dept. Engine Company #9 as it is pulled out of the fire house by 3 sturdy fire horses. I love these old photos, and I am sad that I never took very many photos of where I was working during my 48 year career. I have a blog "Working" and I have hopes that my children & grandchildren will read it someday. While I was working, I never seemed to have time to talk to my children about all of the things I did. They knew what I did, in a vague sort of way. my middle daughter worked for me as a secretary during the big Sierra Pacific Power Co, job. But most of the time she was stuck in our jobsite trailer, filing correspondence. My son worked for a fastener sales company, where for a year or so he sold screws, shots and pins for powder actuated fasteners, plus an assortment of safety equipment. Again, his exposure to my kind of work was limited. My blog isn't complete, but it is a good description of what I did for a living. I know I would have loved to know what my mom and dad did, before and after I was born in 1940. And my grandparents; I only know the titles for the work they did. One grandfather was a 'Timber Cruiser' in Minnesota and later, a farmer in Oregon. My other grandfather worked for a finance company, GM Acceptance Corp. I have the gold watch he received. But I would rather have his story...
Thursday, November 14, 2019
Civic duty is something that's rarely heard anymore. Maybe we need a law that makes voting mandatory. Australia does. And the citizens haven't rioted there. And if we had a program like the Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC, once again, I believe everyone would have a better idea of what civic duty was.
Perhaps compulsory military service would help us become a better nation. I know that not all can be soldiers or sailors, but all could be of service.
Many years ago, I volunteered to be a sailor. I joined the Navy. I stood before the flag and swore to preserve and protect the Constitution. This Country. I missed the Vietnam war by just a hair breadth. And I knew that the war was a mistake, a terrible mistake. If I had been held in Service for another month, I would have gone to that war. And as an E-5 HM2, attached to the Marine Corps, my survival chances would have been low. My wife and I were very much afraid, waiting for that letter from the Navy command that would recall me to service. Now, when I see or hear someone bragging about their patriotism, I wonder if they have ever gone to the recruiting office to volunteer for military service? If they have not, their patriotism is hollow. Patriots don't brag.
I was just reading about the tragedy in Japan. A tragedy that is rarely talked about. Because of the Fukushima disaster, Japan shut down all of their nuclear power plants and now use coal and gas to power the plants. Their carbon output went from the low 60% and is close to 90%. The U.S. is not much better off. Ever since the accident at 3 Mile Island, politicians have placed their heads in the sand and ignored common sense and science. No new nuclear power plants since then.
I was writing about a tragedy, and the tragedy is the number of deaths caused by lung disease. Preventable deaths. Unfortunately, we can't see the contaminants in the air. Contaminants produced by carbon powered generation plants. Still, seen or unseen, they end up in our lungs where they build up until they shut down the alveoli that are part of the mechanism that transfers oxygen to our blood.
There are already plenty of people warning us about these dangers, still we refuse to look at nuclear power as the clean source of power. Accidents happen. People die. So why haven't we outlawed motor vehicles and mandated the use of bicycles? Ignorance is the cause for the accidents and that can be remedied; much as we are reducing the cause of motor vehicle accidents and deaths by mandating safer vehicles. Blah, blah, blah...it's all just noise until the politicians take their heads out of the sand and pay attention to the scientists.
Sunday, November 3, 2019
I started working early, as my parents were not giving me any additional funds beyond my .25 cents a week allowance. And I did not get the allowance unless I helped with the dishes; that's washing or drying. I had to take the trash out and clean my room, at least once a week. And...I had to mow the lawns. Of course I felt put upon, and I was certain that no other child was so mistreated as I was. But, my parents didn't budge. Instead they suggested ways for me to make money by working for others. I began by mowing lawns for neighbors. And it was at that point that I began my working life. rounds
My wife and I had similar working backgrounds, though she is 3 years younger. I like to think that created a culture within our small family where working was expected of our children. They are now middle aged and my oldest daughter has a grandchild. And all 3 of them have been and continue to be successful. My daughters have always held 2 jobs, raising children while running a household, and they worked outside the house as well. My oldest was a Single mother while earning her degree from the University here. My son didn't follow me into construction, which was a good thing. He has been an amazing single-dad, working full time while raising his twins from infancy; they are now starting their Junior year in high school.
I don't think all of this was good luck, I really believe it's genetic in origin. And when I read the stories of my grandparents, great grandparents and beyond, I am certain of it. So I have to thank some nameless ancestor for all that has come to us. He, more likely she, gave us the gene to pass along and we have.
Thursday, June 27, 2019
Three plus years have now gone by and Abby just finished up her third year of camp with Ability First. This group leads a camp for children with disabilities and it's been a miracle worker for Abby. She changed immediately after her first camp. She came back with a 'can do' spirit that never left her. She now has a drivers license and car with hand controls. She is a member of the Track and Field team for the high school where she competes in Discus and Shot Put. At her second year of camp, she was given a scholarship for a brand new, custom made, Box chair. Mike Box is well known for his wheelchairs for athletes. She made a trip to Texas to compete in some wheelchair basketball games with her new chair. This year, in camp, she was able to master the single water ski (it has a chair) without any help at all. I have a video of her jumping the wake many times as the boat went down the lake. When she got home from camp, she and her father put her new racing wheelchair together. Her father had applied for a grant to buy this chair and this will enable her to become a full member of the Track and Field team. This week she returns to Texas for more basketball. She has one more year of Ability First camp before she is aged out at age 18, but they have already asked her to return as part of the staff for camp. She has been an inspiration and friend for many of the younger campers.
During the past 3 years there have been many more stories and tears along with the smiles. That's life, isn't it? As her grandfather, I would give anything to see her walking and running once again. But that's not going to happen. And she knows it, so she is moving forward with her life. She has the beginnings of a photography business; she has an eye for design and art. And I need to include the fact that she and her date went to the Senior Ball this year!
Friday, June 21, 2019
Now I'm an elder that feels sorry for himself too often.
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
I just finished collecting and filing away a large trove of photos of the Saline Valley and the the industry there. First, the Saline Valley is a the location of a fairly large and very shallow salt lake. This valley is located in a very remote section of Eastern California. There is a mountain range, the Inyo mountains, between this lake and Owens Lake; now a dry lake that the city of Los Angeles sucked dry. At the time of my story here, Owens Lake was full of water and had a steamship making runs from one end to the other.
In the early 1900's, some businessmen saw a market for the salt in this remote location. No one, that they knew of, lived there and there was only one, very bad road road, in and out of the valley. But, tramways were being used to transport ore in the gold and silver mining districts throughout California and Nevada; there didn't seem to be any reason not to do the same thing with salt. There was just one barrier, the Inyo Mountains. The tram would have to climb up 7,000 feet on one side and descend 5,000 feet on the other (Owens Lake) side. To make it even more difficult, it couldn't be in a straight line. They would have to build 'Crossover Stations' wherever the tramway had to change direction. Since this was in the earliest part of the 20th century, almost everything would be hand built and built of wood. All constructed without the benefit of tools, such as saws and drills, that were powered by electricity. They also had to build 'Dead Men', which were large wooden structures that, once they were filled with rocks for weight, were designed to hold the cable and the other structures - down, and in place. The weight of the cable, plus the salt and the gondolas, could rip the supporting structures apart when traveling down a ravine before heading back up.
The website that holds all of this history and much more, can be found at this link
It's an amazing website that does a good job of covering the story of the Owens Valley without becoming mired in the drama of the Los Angeles theft of the valley's water resources. As I said earlier, I collect old b&w photos for my personal use, and I would bet that I found 500 photos throughout the website. The photos elicit great memories for me as I have traveled up and down El Camino Sierra for many years. My Dad would take me to Twin Lakes each year for the Sierra Trout Season Opening Day. We would stop at most of the small towns along the way. He would recount to me the abuses of the Japanese Relocation to Manzanar. Manzanar is Spanish for 'the place for apples'. I doubt there are are any apple trees left. He took me to an 'upside down' Tungsten mine just outside of Bishop, where you enter at the bottom and take the elevator to various levels of the mine. As a family, I have taken them to Mono Lake and camping at Twin Lakes. Technically, these places are not in the Owens Valley, but they are in my heart.
Saturday, May 11, 2019
Probably not. I do remember having a large roll of these maps stashed behind the seat of my pickup truck and I would use one or another of them on most weekends, when I would be out exploring in Lassen County. If I were going to be in an area that I had no map for, I would buy it at one of the big sporting goods stores in Reno. If I couldn't find it that way, I would send away for it at the USGS headquarters in Washington, D.C. I would usually buy two or three maps of the adjoining areas, just in case! My collection of maps grew steadily, and more and more fragile as the years went by. I used a lot of cellophane tape on those maps, just to keep them useable.
The downloads are very fast and are free. I have not tried pried printing them, in any case, I don't have a large format printer, so the best I could do would produce legal sized map. Still, that's all I need for my travels while sitting on this couch. Here is the link again...
Thursday, May 9, 2019
I know that criticising art is dangerous...but someone has to do it!
Friday, April 19, 2019
Gyms are funny places once you get past the intimidation period. Gym are usually crowded and noisy with some people sweating over weights while you hear the 'clang' of dropped weights. There's lots of 'posing' in front of mirrors while muscles are flexed. But, if you get past that and stick around for awhile, you see that there is a lot more to the gym. There are people in their 90's here along with a crowd aged 30+. There are lots of overweight and unfit citizens as well as people using walkers. And there's me; aged, long gray hair and using a cane. And, while you use the treadmill, you get an elevated view of the gym and its occupants for 30 minutes. If you are a 'people watcher' this is a great place for it. I think I could write a book about the people and their habits. For instance, there are the 'Fitness Flit'ers' that flit from one machine to the next, never staying longer than 2 minutes. I watch them, wondering if they will ever land on one they like. They usually travel in pairs and have headphones attached to their phones. At the same time they carry on a lengthy conversation with their fellow Flit'er. Some people come to occupy a machine while they fiddle with their phones, listening to music or a podcast. They never exercise. Then there are those that love to gather in larger groups, 4 or 5, and discuss world events or whatever, all sitting on or draped across the equipment and using very loud voices. And then there's me...I don't know what group others would put me in, but I'm sure I have been categorized by someone watching, just as I do.
Monday, April 8, 2019
I'm hoping to see what kind of a market there might be for some of these 5x7's to be printed on a 16x20 sheet of aluminum. The process of printing on aluminum seems to give the image a glow, not seen when processing on photographic paper.
Printing on aluminum is not cheap, so if I sell some of them that cost has to be covered as well...as well as for my talent!
On another subject; my youngest granddaughter. She is confined to a wheelchair and has been for close to 2 1/2 years. She started her high school freshman year in that chair and she will graduate in it. She will have her drivers license this week or maybe it was last week? She does have an older Explorer with hand controls, so she will be just as mobile as her twin brother. About two weeks ago we were able to see her when the high school track team made the long journey down out of the mountains to compete in a local high school invitational meet. Yes, she is on the track team, a junior varsity discus and shotput member of the team. At the end of the day she had her personal best discus throw but she was unhappy with her shotput attempts. A few days later we got the news that she had just received a grant for a racing wheelchair and had been measured for it. It will be built for her and she will be on the track team next year, as well as the field sports. She is one happy young woman. And she has plenty of reason for that; last summer, at the camp for challenged youth, she received a scholarship for a custom chair, built for sports such as basketball and indoor rugby. That's now her daily wheelchair. It's a good thing that her Explorer has enough room in it for her two chairs and all of her sports gear.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Saturday, March 16, 2019
I started the morning a little differently than usual. I watched a YouTube video of one abstract artist interviewing another abstract artist about the process of abstract painting...for them. I am an abstract artist, so I was able to relate to the conversation. The interview lasted a little over 48 minutes, so a lot was covered in that time. One thing that stuck with me was how and why they loved to paint 'Large'. That is something I crave. I have 3 or 4 canvases that are approximately 3'x4' and that is as big as I have been able to afford. One of those canvases is sitting on my easel right now. But...I can't paint in my studio anymore; or, at least for now. My constant hip pain makes standing at an easel for any length of time, next to impossible. I may have mentioned once before that I have been painting digitally/electronically. I have a couple of good programs on my computer and after I have 'painted', I will send the files (jpg or bmp) to Costco to be printed as a 5x7 photo. Then I review them and go back to the original file to make any corrections I think they need. I have framed some of the good ones and have them hanging around the house. At the end of last year I became brave enough to order a larger print of a painting. My sister had seen one of my 5x7's and told me how much she liked it, so I decided to print it on 16x20 aluminum. It was outstanding! I used Costco for this printing and they do a nice job of it, adding a French cleat all of the way way around the back of it. I sent it off to her and she was thrilled to see it. But...16x20 is as big as Costco will print on aluminum. I will have to search around town to see if anyone else is doing larger prints on aluminum.
Money is the problem, as it always is. A 5x7 photo is about .60 cents and a 16x20 print is $60. With no refunds if it didn't turn out as you had hoped. A 3'x4' canvas can be $50, but, if it doesn't turn out as you wished, you cover it with gesso and start over.
So, the hunt is on to find another painting worthy of a $60 gamble. I have been going through my files and picking out some that might make the cut. Those I will tweak and print once more as a 5x7 photo print to see if I am on the right track. I am also painting some from scratch to see if I can come up with the magic to make them candidates as well. My one software program, Rebelle 3.2, allows me to tilt my 'canvas' and let the 'paint' flow in any direction I want. I can put as much paint as I want on my brush and I can wet the canvas as well as dry it. I can use acrylics, watercolors, oils, pastels and airbrush, by themselves or in combinations. I have thousands of brushes to choose from and I can choose the opacity as well as the pressure. I can use my other program, SketchBook, along with Rebelle. Each has their strengths and each is very powerful on its own. Now I have a third program and that's Affinity Photo; a poor man's Photoshop. I can use that to correct the image. No, you don't push a key and get a painting. You actually have to work at it and it's a lot of work. The big advantage you have with digital painting is that you don't have to get paint out of your hair or off of your clothes. And it doesn't smell.
Krista Harris Interview
Friday, February 15, 2019
Sunday, February 10, 2019
I also began driving once more. My pain hasn't left me but I am well aware of any deficiencies I might have after taking pain meds and I'm comfortable with that. Being able to drive again gives me an incredible feeling of freedom. I don't go very far, just to the gym and back 3 times a week. And I go to the Art Center once a week. A distance of 4.5 miles. The gym has made me stronger but I have a long way to go if I want to make it back to my prior life. I started Rehab by walking at 1.2 mph on the treadmill. In 8 weeks I was able to double that and that - 2.4 mph - is where I am. I use a pulse oximeter every few minutes while exercising and it's my blood oxygen levels that I watch. When they get down to 91, I slow down a notch until I have it back into the range of 93 - 95. Because of my prior marathon training, my pulse rarely goes over 85. The last time I was in the gym, before I ended up in the hospital a few times, I was doing 4 mph and going up a 3 % grade with no problem.
The valley is free of smoke these days and there is talk of rebuilding Paradise after the Camp Fire. I would be surprised if that idea had more than a few followers. The fire exposed a lot of sins in its path. No sewers is a big one. There is the rebuilding of there water service. And there were numerous illegal dwellings as well as roads to serve those houses. Building codes weren't always enforced. I am reminded of the fire every morning when I open the door to let the cat out; the early morning air smells like a fire that has been extinguished with water.
I was using my nebulizer a little while ago, something I do 3 times a day using Albuterol to expand the airways of my lungs. As I was using it I was reminded of my mother having one for me when I was quite young and had asthma. The nebulizer was made of glass. The one I use today is made from some type of medical grade plastic. I was struck by the fact that we didn't have plastic in the early 40's. I'm sure there was some kind of plastic around then but it wasn't an ordinary consumer item. Bakelite was a type of plastic material and one of its uses was making jewelry, such as bracelets. I 1940 Ford had no plastic except for the Bakelite used for the distributor, coil and other parts that were in close contact with electricity. I am sure I have forgotten some other uses but I do know that plastics were not commonplace and glass was. Every once in awhile I will see some current use object and then find out that it has been around for longer than I have. I am always surprised...
Saturday, February 2, 2019
I was looking through Flickr this morning; looking for photos of the local area. I found a local professional photographers (Anthony Dunn) Flickr page and saw some great photos that I can use. It wasn't until I was near the end, that I saw a photo of his address. It was in Paradise. He had photos of his house and it was located deep in the forest. He had a lot of equipment, including a drone for his aerial shots. There were no current photos, so I don't know if he and his house survived. I will post some of the photos here.
This is Bidwell Park in the Fall. I used to train in the park back in those days when I did marathons for a hobby. It's a huge park and it would take me an hour or more to go around the park at a 13 minute mile pace. And that was just Lower Park. Upper Park is much larger.
This is a bridge over Big Chico Creek in Bidwell Park. The bridge is made with Cor-Ten steel and is naturally a rust brown color. It won't rust and will remain this color without the need for paint. There are 3 of these bridges in the park that I know of.
This is a great shot of the Big Chico Creek in the Fall. All of these photos were taken and posted on Flickr by Anthony Dunn. I can only hope that he he survived; as well as his house and property.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
In November (and December) I was just going through the motions. My pain was constant and not controllable. I was taking drugs and using a nebulizer to help with my COPD. Christmas came and went and during that time I resolved to join the patients at the Pulmonary Rehab center at the Enloe Hospital. Also during this time in November, the Camp Fire started in Paradise. This mountain town is just 30 minutes away by car and about 10 minutes in a straight line. We had spent a week or two looking for a house in Paradise before getting smart and moving to Orland. We had seen all the narrow and twisting roads leading to houses with great views. We were tempted, and then we remembered our friends in Janesville, where we first lived in N. California. These friends were members of the US Forest Service and CDF, the California Dept of Forestry; now Cal Fire. They all lived away from the forest and out on high desert land just to the north of our forested land. We had a house on 8 acres of trees and there was only one paved road out of there. They warned us of the dangers. We remembered that about 30 years later.
Back to November...The fire started in the morning and we saw the large plume of smoke almost immediately. Looking to the south/east that plume soon blotted out the sun. By mid afternoon we had to turn all the living room lights on. The news reports were very sketchy and the reporters were very nervous. Soon the fire swept through Paradise and continued heading north towards us and east to complete the devastation of Paradise. I stayed by the television all night and into the early morning, watching and listening the progress of the fire. At one point the fire came into Chico, about 6 miles away from us and so I was not going to go to bed. We had all of our important papers out of the safe and ready to put in the car.
Here, the Camp Fire was finally contained after days of no progress. Air tanker flights were almost continuous over our house. But once contained, the damage was being assessed and it was monumental. 86 people died in terrible ways. Most were elderly as Paradise had always been a retirement community and housing had been cheap. Infrastructure was almost non-existent here and roads and houses had often 'just happened'. There were no sewers and water service depended on a community lake/reservoir. They had a police dept and they contracted their fire protection to Cal Fire, as many small towns here do. And Cal Fire had always been worried about this town. They saw it as a disaster waiting to happen. Yet, there was very little they could do to change things.
Now the fire is out but there is a new slow moving disaster happening. The City of Chico grew by 20,000 homeless citizens overnight. Most have moved on to friends or relatives. Making new lives. Some were able to buy houses in the area, but very few were available. There are about 600 to 1,000 people left living in tents, cars or campers, all in the County fairgrounds. The Red Cross said they were through and now local agencies are struggling. Traffic is horrendous. Shopping is difficult.
Yes, a lot has changed and it continues.
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Before retiring, I worked for a large international construction company, with headquarters in Lenexa KS. I had to visit there quite often as our small group was headquartered nearby at Bonner Springs and over time I became well acquainted with that part of Kansas/Missouri; especially Johnson County KS. And that County impressed me because of their voting rules. Voting was actively encouraged! Voters were given a week or more to cast a ballot...I just checked with the Johnson County website and voting began Oct 22nd and will end on Nov 3rd. Then one day of voting again on Nov 6th. That adds up to 2 weeks of voting opportunity.
Before giving me grief because of my criticism of 90+ year olds and their abilities, please know that I am 78 years old and I don't believe that I should be entrusted with anyones ballot. Vote by mail and a clerk in the Registrar's office will handle the process competently. Please, don't trust me or anyone older than I am to handle your ballot.
Monday, October 8, 2018
Back to being independent; I have been an independent voter for at least 20 years. I became independent after many years of watching the ever increasing antics of both parties. My reasoning is this; if I were to remain a Democrat, I would be subscribing to the party and all of it's faults as well as any good it might do. Those faults were embarrassing to me and I had no part in them. It was the same with the Republicans, and the Peace and Freedom party, the Socialists and...all of them. None of them were even close to being squeaky clean!
After watching that Kavanaugh debacle I can only conclude that I had made a good choice. Was there even one good actor amongst the lot of them? I believe Dr. Ford was the only one. And I do not know if she belongs to any Party...Judge Kavanaugh was the one that was screaming out his Party affiliation.
What I saw reinforced my conclusion that there must be an age limit for these clowns. 65 should be the age for mandatory retirement for Senators and CongressClowns, and their brethren in black robes, the Justices. Or tie their retirement age to that of Commercial pilots. We mandate a certain retirement age for pilots because they have the health & safety of 100's of passengers resting on their shoulders. And our lawmakers? They have the health & safety of millions depending on them.
Saturday, October 6, 2018
I'm still in 'recovery mode' after my last hospital stay. I only use use oxygen at night, piped into my CPAP machine. I use a nebulizer 2 or 3 times a day and I keep an eye on blood oxygen levels. I hope to be able to get back to the gym next month. My pain situation hasn't changed much and that's a good thing only because my opioid consumption is still legal...but barely. I just read that the Congress, in their infinite wisdom, wishes to stop all opioid consumption. Some doctors are touting a plan called Pain Acceptance. Here is a description of this marvelous therapy.
Pain acceptance is the process of giving up the struggle with pain and learning to live life despite pain. Acceptance is associated with lower levels of pain, disability and psychological distress. Relatively little is known, however, about how patients arrive at a state of acceptance without the aid of therapy.
"Relatively little is known" ? And this is how they expect to treat patients? People without pain get to walk around that way, live their life, 24 hours a day, with no pain except for the usual headache now and then...while I am supposed to just accept my lot in life? Even though there is an imperfect drug to give me relief? A drug I have been managing safely for close to 11 years now? If that becomes reality I will have to do something other than Accepting it. I don't know what it will be. It won't be heroin or Fentanyl, (a doctor gave me Fentanyl once...never again!) although I would bet the sales of those two drugs will skyrocket, as well as arrests for possession. Prisons will have to learn how to manage prisoners with severe disabilities and pain. But, here is the good part; Doctors and Congress will be able to congratulate each other on another job well done.
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Then, about a month ago, I woke up, totally confused as to where and who I was. I just wanted to lay down again but this person (my wife) kept shouting at me. She finally persuaded me to get in the car, At the hospital I was taken in and they found that I was oxygen starved. Testing gave me a diagnosis of pneumonia. I have no idea as to where that came from! I was admitted and given huge amounts of antibiotics along with steroids. In 3 days I was told that I could leave. Which was fine with me; I could write a dozen blog posts about hospitals!
After a few days of home living I began to have a cough and it was increasingly hard to get a full breath. Then, 6 days ago, I was really struggling to get a breath and we decided that it was time for another trip to the hospital. A pulmonologist became my primary doctor and he took a sample of sputum and cultured it, to find that antibiotics were next to useless and the drug to take was a sulfa type. Very old school....but it worked and I improved daily. After 5 days I was released from the tender mercies of the local hospital. I came home yesterday and now, you can find me by following the green oxygen tubing that decorates the floor.
I have oxygen for all of my sleeping times; running at 2 liters (per minute or hour?) and I monitor my blood oxygen level hourly. I also use a nebulizer to get the drugs deeper into my bronchial tubes. Luckily, my costs are covered by Medicare and AARP. I do know that we would be looking at selling our house to avoid bankruptcy. Just to complicate things, I have become a neurological puzzle and found that typing helps me to communicate. I have neurologist and will see him soon. And I need to see my urologist. And the DEA has determined that I should not have more than 3 Norco a day.
Yes, I have been there and done that in the hospital. And I don't want to do it again!
Friday, June 8, 2018
All of this time I thought that I was a responsible user of opioids. As a former Navy Hospital Corpsman I was aware of their addictive qualities and had been documenting my use so that I would know if I were increasing the dosage. I was sad that this had happened to me. Fate, bad luck, karma? My earlier career as a 'sheetrocker' had not helped my back and then at some point I fell and broke my back at the L5 level. I remember an intense pain and it took a few minutes before I regained my feet. I finished the day working as if I were crippled. I was. The pain persisted but in the environment where I worked, you didn't take time off unless you had been taken away by an ambulance. I had broken my left foot on the job at one time and I had a walking cast put on and took one day off to let the cast dry, then I was back to work; climbing the stairs with my crutches and then climbing up a rolling scaffold where I remained, working, most of the day. Over time I forgot the pain in my back and what I didn't know was happening to my back. New bone was growing but it was growing wild and forming an enlarged shield over a portion of the L5 vertebra. I was told of my broken back about 40 years after it happened by my surgeon after the first back surgery. Now, 10 years after that the bony growth prevents doctors from injecting corticosteroids into that area where a nerve exits my spine. Doctors won't surgically remove the bone because the scar tissue from makes it impossible to see where to cut. Doctors have tried to inject there, causing me a lot of pain while they tried...to no avail. Fate, bad luck, karma? I still don't know.
Now the opioid war has started for me. Yesterday, we were told that the prescription we had given the pharmacy would not be filled. This was after we had called to ask when would it be ready? Our doctor isn't answering our queries. The pharmacy tells us that the DEA is stopping the filling of the prescription because "they were worried about heart attacks". An obvious non-answer in the hopes that we will go away. I've taken the last of my morphine time release and my Norco needs refilling. Yet, no one has contacted the person who has the most to lose...me.
My wife just left to see what she can do and she has her Kindle with her; she says she's not coming back without an answer.
Friday, May 11, 2018
Then, one day I saw the construction of a store up near the Shell station on Sepulveda. It turned out to be a pharmacy; Stuart's Pharmacy. There were already two pharmacies in town but downtown and a little farther away than the library. Those two pharmacies had fine collections of pocket books and magazines plus a soda fountain so I was hoping that this new pharmacy would be similarly equipped.
I went to Stuart's on the day they opened and saw that they had a great selection of comic books, pocket books and science fiction books. There was no soda fountain but they had an impressive selection of candy. Stuart's was soon my default destination for reading material and candy. And no one stood nearby to monitor my reading selection. At the library there were two blue haired spinsters to prevent the 'Wrong kind of books' from being seen by a young mans eyes.
The only comic book that I really enjoyed was the adventures of Plastic Man. If you paid attention to the dialog you would see a lot of 'adult' satire. That may have been the reason for the early demise of my hero. With or without Plastic Man, I had a fantastic selection of science fiction to choose from. Heinlein, Asimov and other greats had short stories every month.
Slowly, over the years, my tastes changed or the quality of the fiction was lowered until one day I noticed that I hadn't read any sci-fi for a long time and it didn't matter; I had better things to read.
That was the way it was for many years and then I spotted a free sci-fi book on Book Bub with delivery by Amazon and it sounded interesting. Oh boy! was it ever! It was a series of books titled "The Expanse" and it went from a 5 book series to an 8 book series plus a TV adaptation of the first book. I was really hooked and I've read 5 of the books now and will soon order the 6th. Then I decided to try some others of that genre. I soon found some duds but I also found some promising authors.
Along the way I came across "The Spiral Wars" which was a 4 book adventure with good chance for a 5th and 6th book. The author, an Australian, has a great track record or CV and the books showcase his talent. I'm on the last or 4th book and reading it slowly to make it last. When it's gone I will order the next book from the Expanse series. After that is gone I don't have any great choices...yet.
When it comes to sci-fi I demand actual science. Nothing is faster than the speed of light and when the author has his characters breaking that speed limit he better have a darn good explanation. In reality there are rumors that it can broken but it hasn't reached any mainstream science that I know of. Ah! there's the rub; "...that I know of" and that means that I have to do some homework as well. I love it!
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
I don't know if I mentioned that I was studying art from the 1st Nation artists of Canada. I find it fascinating, as I find all aboriginal art. There seems to be something common to the art of Australian aboriginals, North American aboriginals and African aboriginals. I've started painting (digitally) in that same style and find it satisfying. I look back at my early drawings and it seems that I preferred to express myself this way; black outlining and bright colors with a central, mythical, subject. The artist that I watch for is Jessica Desmoulin,she is an Ojibway of the Pic River First Nation.
Sunday, April 1, 2018
So much for the background; on to the story. Some time ago I was talking to the manager of the center and, just for fun, mentioned that it would be great if we could use the two bathrooms as a gallery to display our paintings. The bathrooms are quite small and someone at some time had hung 4 or 5 large paintings on those walls. I thought we deserved some equal time and space. She was sympathetic but couldn't give me an answer. Two weeks ago she saw me and told me that the large (and ugly) paintings were gone and the walls were being painted for us. I told the group and found 3 others that wanted to show their art. We picked names out of a hat and I was lucky enough to get the first show which we had decided to call Masterpieces of the 'Loo'. It was just a fun kind of project.
I wandered the house and found 6 paintings, 3 per bathroom, that had not sold before. Afew were on our bedroom wall and the rest were in a closet. I hung them carefully, wanting whoever was sitting there to have a chance to contemplate them. A week has gone by and yesterday I went into the art center bathroom and saw that one had sold! I had used some card stock to scribble down the name of the show and the price, plus my website address. I had plucked the prices for each out of the air and used my imagination. They were all priced at $150, whether they were worth it or not. Apparently, someone sat there long enough to appreciate that particular painting; one that I had completed in 2012. One that had been in at least 4 shows. And one that had been on our bedroom wall for many years. I had made the frame from scrap wood and gone to Lowe's for a piece of 2'x2' 1/4" birch plywood and some 3/8" wooden base material to trim the frame. I had nailed it all together and given the plywood 3 coats of gesso before painting on it.
I have a feeling that Masterpieces of the 'Loo' will be become very popular and many artists will be eager to secure a 3 week showing of their art in a 5'x8' bathroom.
Sunday, March 25, 2018
I formed my Tweet to him as best I could and sent it on its way. I had complained about the fact that he was doing Pentz a favor and banning transgender persons from serving in the military. This is coming from a man that did his best, and succeeded 3 times, in avoiding the draft and serving in the armed forces. Commander in Chief? I think not!
Monday, March 12, 2018
During the past two months the issue of marijuana sales seems to have become less of an issue with the weasel, Sessions. But like a weasel, you can't trust him and should never turn your back to him. The issue of immigration has become the centerpiece of Trump's visit to the Golden State and Governor Brown has made a mistake by answering the charges that Trump makes. You should never attempt to argue with an idiot like Trump.
1/7/18... This morning I was reading an article about the 'war' between Trump and California. Trump's flunky, Sessions, is tasked with upsetting the new marijuana market in California. The Interior dept has opened off-shore drilling to the oil companies. The new tax scheme of the Republicans will punish the 'blue' states and California is the biggest and 'bluest' state in the union. ICE is threatening public officials with jail because of our status as a Sanctuary State. The list of attacks goes on and on.
On marijuana, the citizens of the state and the nation approve of the legal sale by more than 70%. Sessions should know more about states rights than most AG's but he seems to have forgotten them. He will be met with many lawsuits and hopefully, California will prevail.
Scott Pruitt, an ambitious and amoral Trump soldier will do anything he can to damage the state through the use of the EPA. Again, lawyers will be called in to fight him.
Thomas Homan, the acting director of ICE has a mandate to find and deport immigrants without a legal status. But he wants the state to shoulder the burden of arresting , jailing and transferring the suspects. If a suspect is arrested and detained without evidence, that suspect can sue the state for unlawful imprisonment. Medical care and feeding while in state custody becomes a state problem. ICE has a budget and it has facilities. I would say that they should do their job.
Of course, I am already an antagonist of everything connected to Trump. I am not without bias. I really don't understand his supporters. Of course there were all sorts of comments to this article and I read some of them. I try and avoid the comments on most articles, but, at first glance, these comments seemed interesting. The majority, maybe 60%, favored the stand of California. The others were more predictable and were in favor of punishing the 'land of fruits and nuts' as California is known by polite conservatives. There were also some that took every comment by an Assemblyman, Senator or Governor and believed those words described the actions or thoughts of the entire state. California is a very large state. Some people think we should be three states or two, to better represent us. I doubt that it will ever happen because, as citizens of this states, we rarely ever agree on anything.
On a different subject...here is a link to my art blog
Friday, January 5, 2018
And Trump; every day brings out more evidence of what I and many others have thought about him and his mental state. This new book about the Trump White House may not be factually correct. and that would be a shame, as the premise is correct. If there are some exaggerations in the text, critics will pick those apart trying to discount the entire book. Luckily, for the author and publisher, Trump has responded with fury, threatening lawsuits right and left. You can't buy this kind of advertising.
I was reading an article in the failing New York Times about the rise in employment for male nurses. I couldn't help but remember my own career decision struggle in 1962-1963 as I was leaving the Navy Hospital Corps and entering civilian life and marriage. As a Hospital Corpsman, I was entitled to be an LVN in California at that time. Being an LVN meant very low pay and poor chances for meaningful employment as a male nurse. I could have used my veterans benefits to go on to school and become an RN. Again, with poor pay and some bias against males in a female profession. At the time I had a full time low paying job as a stock clerk in a warehouse and a second job as a night shift manager at a Texaco station. I also had a weekend job as a delivery boy for a liquor store. But...I was getting married and couldn't begin a married life and later a family with these jobs. And I certainly couldn't do it as an LVN. That was when an opportunity to become a union carpenter's apprentice came along with the promise of more pay than two of those jobs combined. I put the idea of nursing aside and moved ahead with a construction job.
It's only been recently; maybe, the last twenty years that nursing has gained the status, and pay that it deserved. It definitely takes a university education to become an RN now, where I could have done it with night school courses in the 1960's. I may have mentioned that I found and spoke with a former Hospital Corpsman, now an RN, while I was hospitalized late last year. He loved the job but lamented the fact that the hospital wanted nurses to specialize, while he had been trained, as I was, to do it all. During a day shift on an orthopedic ward with fifty or more patients, there were three corpsman and one 'floating' nurse that covered three wards. As corpsmen, we weren't allowed to open the narcotics locker for the pain meds and we had to call the nurse to do that.Then, at night there was just one corpsman for the entire ward. There were no 'call buttons' that patients might use and so we had to patrol the sleeping patients constantly.
There I go again...dredging up memories. I will be 78 in September and memories have become good friends; dependable ones.
Along with the nursing story, there was a good story about automation (read 'robots') in Sweden and how it is accepted, even welcomed. They have a very strong union there and relations with management are very good. You might know that Sweden is one of the ten 'happiest' nations although they are taxed much higher than we are. The Scandinavian nations are often called 'socialists' as if it were a bad thing. I have been a socialist for years, though never a member of any political party. I used to be a Democrat when I thought that they were the polar opposites of the Republicans. Once I discovered that they were too closely related, I left. They never noticed. I still get mail addressed to me as a ' Democratic leader in your community' and asking me to attend some function. I didn't realize or acknowledge that I was a socialist until recently.
The Sweden story had me thinking about the company I retired from at age 64. It was the largest specialty contractor in the US. We did the work that general contractors didn't do. Drywall, steel stud framing, plastering, fireproofing, acoustical ceilings, insulation, Clean rooms, and variations of all of those things, such as marine insulation or insulation for the piping in nuclear power plants. We were an all employee owned, all union company and very successful.
As I left, I had an occasion to talk to one of the vice-presidents and he told me that although I was retiring with a pension and a 401k, all of the new hires would see only the 401k. Project managers were now recruited from universities that had majors in construction management. Project managers, such as myself, had been recruited from the ranks of the union carpenters. The new project managers and estimators were paid much less. The company is still quite strong, still growing, still all union but I am no longer quite as proud of working there.
That's a lot of words. I think it's time to quit for awhile.