Wednesday, October 24, 2018

I've voted-

-about a week ago. My ballot is already in the office of the County Registrar. I have been voting by mail since the mid 90's and can't imagine doing it any other way. The last time I used a voting booth, it was for a national election and that voting 'booth' was a cheap cardboard and canvas affair that offered no real privacy; no space or time to contemplate the decisions I was about to make. This 'booth' was located in the garage space of the local volunteer fire department for Janesville California; a town with no traffic signals and most houses had no number addresses. Okay, it was quaint, I will give you that, but after watching the election officials at work, I was in no way certain that my vote would ever be counted correctly all. The officials were all close to the age of 90 and they seemed to be struggling with the process. By the time another election rolled around we had moved and I was able to use an 'Absentee' ballot. I continued to do that for many years, even when I was at home.

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


Independent. That's me. I may have said this once before but since I am unable to dredge the memory didn't happen. Now that I'm in my late 70's, memory denial is handy!

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

A quiet Saturday

My sister and brother in law have made their way back to their home in Cave Creek AZ where once more they will be surrounded by Trump-ites. They must grin and bear it. Since we live in a 'Red' county, it was a pleasure for us all (4) to be among like minded folks. It doesn't happen often enough.

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 painAcceptance 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

Been there and done that #1

This summer has not been kind to us. Life was humming along; I was going to the gym 3 times a week and using the treadmill for 30 minutes and 1.5 miles. My hip pain was still present and the DEA said I couldn't take more than 4 a day. My prescription was for 6 a day but I could see where this was going and I had already dropped my usage to 2 a day. This made my 30 minutes particularly painful. But I persevered, hoping that yet another pain specialist would be able to stop the pain. He could not.
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

The oh so popular opioid wars

I think I'm about to be a victim of those wars. The facts are this; I use opioids, Norco, and have for ten years or more. I have had 4 different surgeries on my back and those surgeries were successful in that they reduced the amount of intense pain that drove me to see a surgeon. Reduced is not the same as gone. Various levels and types of narcotics were used in the fight to eliminate the pain. Some of them, such as Fentanyl were tried and never repeated. It did eliminate the pain but it left me in a stupor. I was given Norco and that seemed to dull the pain without a lot of side effects. Because of kidney problems I wasn't able to use any of the NSAIDs. My prescription said I could take 1 or 2 every 4 hours. and for at least 8 years I have been doing just that and keeping track of each and every dose in a small notebook. I now have a pile of notes with date and dose written on them. I take four 75% of the time and two for the rest. There are rare times when I need 6. I review the notes every once in awhile and I see a lot more six Norco days back in the beginning. As expected, the Norco became less effective over time and instead of taking more, the doctor prescribed a timed release morphine drug that I take twice a day. With that dosage I was able to go back to the gym and start regaining some lost muscle mass and cardio benefits. Also I was beating back the advance of COPD.

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 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

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

Sci-Fi & My Kindle

Back in the day..."when the rocks were young" as my children would often say, I became a fan of science fiction books and short stories. In my hometown, Manhattan Beach CA, bookstores were as rare as unicorns and the library was downtown. This required a one mile walk to get there and a much longer one to return as there was a steep hill to climb. 

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

First Nations

Another week, another month of high crimes by the idiot occupying the White House. There is nothing to say that hasn't been said about his behavior. He needs help but he will never seek it. So the day became much brighter when I got to the Art Center and found that the second painting had sold. I had offered a $20 discount if the buyer would take them both. It's really a miracle to sell art these days.

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 Ojibway of the Pic River First Nation. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Surprise Ending

I am an artist and have been painting for close to 20 years now. I like acrylics and I have done some watercolor work. Lately, because of my aches and pains, I have given up the use of my easel as I can't stand as long as I want to. More recently I have been using colored alcohol ink marking pens to satisfy my artistic urges. For the past 10 years I have been painting with a group of artists every Tuesday morning, meeting at the local art center. We talk and critique each other's work; if we want. I happen to be the only male in the group of 9 but that's not a problem. After all, we are quite civilized. Besides being the only male in the group, I am the only expressionist/impressionist/abstract painter among them. The women are all watercolorists,yet, despite all the differences, we all get along just fine.

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.

The one that sold is on the left side of this photo; taken at the last show and where it was priced at $260.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

What did he say?

I use Twitter. Not constantly, maybe once or twice a month. And my tweets are usually in response to one of Trump's notorious tweets. (it is hard to believe that I, a 77 year old male with a good IQ, uses words like Twitter, Tweet, Google and Blog...and thinks nothing of it?) But this morning I wanted to respond and I went to his home page on Twitter in search of his Twitter address. When I started looking around I was shocked at the number of Tweets and upon closer inspection, the quality. There was none. I knew he had a problem with the English language, but his Tweets are almost unintelligible. Twitter has increased the number of words allowed in a Tweet and that should have given Trump a break. But no, it has only given him more room for more errors.

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

The united? States...

3/12/18...This morning, two months after putting together this draft (below) that never saw the light of day, I decided to finish it. Coincidentally, Trump is visiting the state today and tomorrow. Hopefully, he will be met with resistance everywhere he goes...On a different is a link to my art blog

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 is a link to my art blog

Friday, January 5, 2018

A new year with old thoughts

I haven't been here for at least six weeks, though I did post some things on my art related blog back in December. As I read the headlines and the stories from the first week of the new year, I was reminded of my private thoughts concerning Trump, and now, Sessions. I was certain that Sessions was going to try and throw a legal monkey wrench into the marijuana market once California entered the marketplace. He says that he is only enforcing the 'rule of law' when, in fact, he is enforcing it to please the drug manufacturers...and his own weird Southern Baptist mentality. It didn't take a genius to predict what Sessions had planned for this week.

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.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Yes, time does go by

I have to admit that I don't read as many blogs as I once did. Everything seems to be slowing down and reading blogs is a victim of that slowdown. Back in the early oughts, I was a prolific reader and writer. I have posted 7,344 times in the years I've owned this blog.

I was reading my Journal for the year 2009 and I spotted an entry where I was mentioning the fact that Ronni, of Time Goes By, a venerable blog, had asked me to write a guest column for her. I was thrilled to be asked as her blog was very well read. I had been reading her blog for many years, starting when she lived on the East coast; was it Maine or New Hampshire? Then she gladly exited the cold country and moved to Portland. Actually,  she moved to Lake Oswego which is just up the hill from Portland. In my working days I often stayed at the Phoenix Inn in that town and would do my training workouts on the hills of Lake Oswego. Beautiful town.

My guest column? I didn't keep a copy and it's lost it should be. I found it hard to write as well as she does.

I'm I decided to read her blog again and I was angered to see that she was battling cancer. Angry is the only word that I could come up with. Cancer always makes me angry. But she is on chemo and seems upbeat about it. And Ollie, her cat, is still with her; that is a good thing. I know that Ronni is not a religious person but I am and will pray for her recovery.

Speaking of cats; I was reading, in that same Journal, about the antics of my cat. She was about 4 years old at the time, making her 12 years old more or less. She didn't come with a birth certificate so we are relying on the educated guess of the veterinarian that handed her off to me. She is currently sitting on a blanket, on a pillow, on the couch and next to me. She is asleep of course, snoring softly. She still has the ability to modify my pain, just as she did 9 years ago and she has continued to do that through the years. She did it this morning and she is doing it now....

Friday, October 6, 2017

I'm back at it

Here it is, October, and I can now walk without a 'walker'. People, including doctors, told me that the pain from broken ribs takes six weeks or more to fade away. I'm getting close to that number and the pain is very manageable now. If I stand for a period of ten minutes or more, the pain returns with a vengeance. But if I'm walking it is very easy to ignore. I see the doctor next week and I'm looking for good news.

Trump...what can I say about him that hasn't been said? I send him nasty tweets every few weeks but that's just to make me feel better. I'm sure he never sees them.

Las's the same as above. What could I possibly say that hasn't been said about this tragedy?

On a different note, our landscaping is complete. Although the landscaping consists of all native plants,  the incredible heat we experienced early on this summer damaged a number of the plants. Newly planted, they didn't have enough root structure to withstand the heat. And the heat continued through the summer and now into fall as well. We are seeing low 90's and high 80's this past week with some relief in sight about two weeks from now. The outlook was positive enough to remove and replant the damaged plants. While the crew was here, we added some rocks and some more lighting. Now, when we look out the kitchen/dining area windows, it's all flowers and beautiful plants.

I have to walk twice a day as part of my recovery therapy and so I get a close look at the neighborhood yards. This is a middle class neighborhood as is most of the city. And lawns seem to be the preferred landscaping material. I have to admit that I hate lawns. As a young boy, I had to push the family mower across the lawn as part of my chores. If I didn't mow the lawn I didn't get the .50 cent allowance. That started my hatred of lawns. Then, strangely enough, when I was 11, I decided to advertise my services for mowing lawns. .50 cents for the back lawn and .25 cents for the front lawn. Edging was included. Pretty soon I had half a dozen jobs and a partner. After one summer season of lawn mowing I had close to $10 and I made a vow to never mow a lawn again (unless I needed my allowance). I kept that vow all through my time in the Navy and then our early years as a married couple. We lived in apartments until we had our first child. That's when we rented a house and it had lawns, front and back. For a few years I was unable to keep my vow. Then we bought a new house and we had to have a lawn like all the rest of the new homeowners. We decided on a dichondra lawn for the small front yard and for the enormous back yard I decided on benign neglect. Dichondra was perfect as it only needed mowing once or twice a year. In our subsequent moves, we had large houses with very small lawns and I was okay with that. Then, 1977, we moved to our house in the woods, in Lassen County. With 8 acres of second growth pine we had a lovely carpet of pine needles with no hint of lawns. It was heaven! But all good things come to an end
and 11 years later we had to move to Roseville, suburbia. Where we tore out the lawns and put in native plants and concrete and sold the lawn mower. We were there for 16 years. Eventually we ended up in the far northern end of the San Joaquin valley. Here, I hired someone to mow the small lawn we had while we planned on this landscaping project that I love so much. 

I know that landscaping is something very personal. It's the image that you want to project to the community. And as I walk, I pass one perfect lawn after another. All mown and edged beautifully. On any day of the week, there are mowers and blowers creating an angry buzz on more than one lawn as the 'Mow & Blow' contractors make their rounds. Oddly enough, we have never seen a child playing on this perfect grass? With the chemicals that are applied to these lawns, I don't think I would want to let my child play on it.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Rinse and repeat

On Friday, September 8th, I will be checking in to the local hospital for surgery on my back. This will be the 5th time, but the first at the cervical end of my spine; the part that holds my head on. The years that I made a lot of money by installing  drywall ceilings have come back to haunt me. The weight of innumerable sheets of drywall pressing down on my spine, so many year ago, weakened the vertebrae and now they are pressing down on the many nerves that exit the spinal column at this level.

It's a fairly simple operation, microdiscectomy and fusion of 6 vertebrae. A few days in the hospital and then home with a brace to keep my head attached while the bone grafts grow into strong bones. I have looked at the entire operation on Neurosurgery TV and was amazed at how easily they perform such intricate surgery, all the while looking through a high powered microscope and wielding very small instruments and working within a 1" incision.

During the past few weeks I managed to make it to the age of 77. Watching American longevity dropping during the past decade, I'm happy to have made it this far. And thinking about that made me think of my life 70 years ago. I was in the 2nd grade at Center Street school in Manhattan Beach. At that age I was allowed to go as far as my legs would take me; except that I wasn't allowed to cross Sepulveda (101), about half a mile east of our house. There were sand dunes in every direction, but I used the sidewalk that would take me down the hill to downtown and then to the pier, about a mile away. Such great times...

September 18th...things have not gone exactly as planned. The surgery went well and I was surprised that I needed no brace. The vertebra, C2 through C6 are held together with titanium plates and that is supposed to be enough. Then, I was released on the 10th. we're pretty sure that was about 2 days too early. Later that night, I got up from bed, a mistake, and headed to the bathroom. I reached for the handrail but didn't have the strength to keep myself from falling into the side of the toilet. Sharp pain ensued. In no time at all I had a room full of firemen and EMT's. Back to the hospital I went, where X-rays determined that I had broken more than a few ribs on my right side.

I began another recuperation and was released from the hospital on the 15th. I feel very fragile at this point, though I do have a physical therapist, courtesy of Home Health. I have oxygen in just about every room. I have an oxygen cannula in my nose. Of course it could have happened to anyone...but it happened to me.  Now I have to move on with my life. And I'm feeling stronger every day. I have to use a walker now, but that will soon change.  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

There has been time enough

We have given him all of the time needed. He has wasted it. He wasted it with rallies designed to stroke his ego. He wasted it going after imaginary enemies and making new ones. The list could go on and on as he never works hard at anything. Pushing bills, mending fences; that's for underlings to do. And everyone is an underling. If you aren't sure of that, he will be glad to inform you. "I'm the President. You're not!" is a declaration that rolls easily off of his tongue.

I recently read a column where he was compared to Caligula. Strangely, history tells us that the comparison fits, And it was said that Caligula was mad, insane. Trump is not insane but he is mentally ill. Maybe it's dementia caused by aging. I'm not a professional and I haven't slept in a Holiday Inn lately, but he is sick. And that makes me wonder about the 'Annual Presidential Physical'. Is there any law, rule or regulation that makes it mandatory for the President to check in at a government hospital and undergo an annual physical exam? An exam by that unseen doctor of Trump's choosing, the one he used at the beginning of the campaign, should not be acceptable. The fact that this 'MD' spoke using the same vocabulary as Trump would make him suspect.

And then there is this Nazi business. You have to be of a certain age to remember them with the horror, hatred and contempt they deserve. And there are fewer of us to remember them every year that passes. That is dangerous. Then, to see the 'leader' of our country fail to use the power of his office to condemn them and the 'White Supremacists' tells me where his real interests lie. To top it off, he pardons the racist "Sheriff Joe" before he is even sentenced. Doing that tells the criminals of the Alt-Right that they have nothing to fear from the courts.

On and on it goes. Every day brings new controversy, new scandal. Will he ever do a day's work? For the people?

Friday, July 21, 2017

We're rich!

The strangest thing has happened; the Neilsen Company has decided to make us members of their survey team for television. Some months ago we received a letter from them asking us to tell them all about the radio stations we listened to. They included $5 to thank us for our cooperation. We responded with the fact that we didn't listen to radio. They thanked us for the information and gave us another $5. Then we received a letter with  $4 dollars in crisp $1 dollar bills and a request for us to join the TV survey. As long as money was coming in, we were more than happy to do it. They thanked us and gave us both $5. Today we received our 'diaries' to fill out daily, detailing what shows we watch. To be clear; we had informed Neilsen that we only watched streaming video and no video 'shows'. That didn't deter them. This letter came with $9 in crisp cash. Why $9??? I have no idea. I will have to go through all of the paperwork that came with the diaries and maybe I can find out the answer to that question and more. In the meantime, we seem to have a second income. It won't make us rich but we will never have to worry about overdue library books again.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

What's on tonight?

As I stated once before, we have cut the cable and disabled the satellite feed. We're streaming only...that and an antenna in the attic for the local channels. I don't remember when we did it but it was close to 6 months ago. And life has been great without the 'box'.

I may have already given you a list of the shows we watch, but as I am almost 77, I must be forgiven for any memory lapses. So, here are a few of the shows that we currently have in our little black book and in no specific order.
#1 'Offspring' on Netflix is the story of a OBS/GYN doctor, Nina, and her amazingly fragmented family; the Proudman's. This is an Australian show and if you can't handle an accent, this is not the show for you. Your loss. In fact, almost all of the shows we watch are foreign.
#2 'The Brokenwood Mysteries' Amazon. is a detective/mystery/comedy show from New Zealand. We are anxiously awaiting season 4. It's quirky and quite often the mystery is solved long before the end of the show.
#3 'Inspector George Gently' Amazon. Is an older (2007) British police mystery show that takes place in the gritty parts of Newcastle. Always enjoyable. Oddly, I am put off by all of the smoking. I can't even smell the smoke and it bothers me!
#4 'Inspector Lewis' Amazon. Is a police/mystery thriller taking place in Oxford. The scenery at the various colleges and Oxford itself are beautiful. The acting is great and the murders are always understated. The show is a spin-off from Inspector Morse, which was also a great show.
#5 'Winter' Amazon. Is a one season detective thriller and I really wanted to see a few more seasons. This one is also from Australia; Sydney to be exact and it's great scenery as well. There are more seasons but Amazon isn't buying them yet.
#6 'Bosch' Amazon. This is Season 3 of a great police/crime/drama. I really hope this goes on to seasons 4, 5, 6 and more. Like too many American shows, the violence is explicit. The acting and the writing help to counter that.
#7 Grace and Frankie. Netflix
#8 Happy Valley. Netflix
#9 Doc Martin Amazon
#10 Happy Valley. Netflix
#11 Father Brown. Netflix
#12 Crossing Lines Netflix
#13 Miss Fisher. Netflix
#14 The Heart Guy Amazon
#15 Delicious Amazon
#16 Pie in the Sky Amazon
#17 Lark Rise to Candleford Amazon
#18 Lillies Netflix
#19 Murdoch Amazon
#20 Agatha Christie Amazon

A lot of those that are on Amazon are actually on Acorn/Amazon. We subscribe to Acorn TV for all of the British/Australian/New Zealand/Canadian show they carry. Worth every penny. Between Amazon, Netflix and now, Acorn, we have more than enough to entertain us of an evening.

It's hot outside

And, until last night, it was hot inside. Our AC went out last Friday afternoon (why does this always happen on weekends?) and although I reported it to American Home Shield, our home warranty insurer, I knew we wouldn't see a repairman till Monday. Then we received an email from AHS that told us they were sending a repairman from a company located over a 100 miles away and they had 3 working days to respond to our needs. What? The temps have all been in the 100's and Saturday was 107. We started calling and found that AHS didn't take calls past 7 and never on weekends. I went to their Facebook page and tried venting there. That gained me a promise that someone would call. A promise quickly broken. What to do?

We do have a whole house fan but we don't like to use it as it pulls every allergen and irritant into the house along with the cooler night or morning air. We had to use it. I would watch out indoor temp and outside temp carefully and as soon as they were equal and the outside temp was falling, I would start the fan and keep it running all night. In the morning I would watch the two temps closely and then when the outside temp began to rise from its overnight low,  I would close the windows and shut off the fan. Then we would begin calling AHS. Finally, on Tuesday we got lucky. The initial repairman decided that the job was not worth their time and bailed. A phone call to AHS finally found a receptive agent and she arranged for a local contractor to call. He arrived Tuesday PM and after an hour or so in the hot attic, he found the problem; a fried circuit board. He called and tried to get a validation from AHS and find a local source for the board. He finally made all of the connections but he wouldn't be able to get the board and install it until Wednesday. He was back on Wednesday afternoon and after some more time in the hot attic he had the board installed only to find that the original board had failed because the fan motor had failed. More phone calls to AHS for authorization and then a trip to a supplier. He was back about 6:30 and began the repair. It was close to 8 when we felt the first chill breeze from the vents. We couldn't thank him enough. The temps are supposed to be way over 100 again this weekend and we had been dreading it.

What a wonderful sleep I had. Temp inside was 79 and I had a light cover on. What a life!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It's all fake news...

It is another busy week in The District of Trump. Of course most of the furor is caused by the rolling train wreck of the Trump family. I survive by attaching no importance to most of it. I trust the Special Prosecutor to do his job and when he is done I will have something concrete to look at. In the meantime it is all political theater.

The giant iceberg is certainly not fake news and it's more interesting than what comes from the lips of Trump...any Trump. The Larsen Ice Shelf, now a berg, is 1,150 feet thick or so they think. I wonder where it will go? Most bergs move by action  of wind and current. I have a feeling that this one will move very slowly and most ships will not be surprised when it appears. They will have seen it coming for days. No Titanic disasters with this one.

Our landscape was 'landscaped' during the past few months and we're really happy with it. It is actually xeriscaped with mostly all California natives and they are fantastically colorful. At the same time this was going on, the weather changed and we began experiencing some brutal heat. A number of plants hadn't been established long enough to survive. I would check the garden one day and then come out the next to see damaged plants where perfect plants were growing 12 hours previously. I raised the watering times by 50% and then watered twice a day to halt the damage. Plants will survive this heat with some care. I know that next year at this time the damage will be forgotten and we will be enjoying the color.  

I think we're going to have to become accustomed to this weather or move. The heat is here to stay. I was checking the long range forecast and it's not till November begins that we will see any relief. I saw no rain...but, it's a long range forecast.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Life goes on

It's been awhile since I last posted here and I have some of the usual excuses, pain and more pain.In fact I am sitting at home because of those excuses. But, I do have another reason for not sitting down to write. You may remember that our youngest granddaughter, now 14, was struck (overnight) with Acute Flaccid Myelitis at age 13 and is now unable to walk and has to use a wheelchair for her transportation. I would have been depressed if it happened to me, but she has been optimistic about it; certain she will walk again. It hasn't been a year since that day; her paraplegia happened at the end of October and her optimism has been showing signs of strain.

Then a miracle happened. Someone at the Shriner's Hospital in Sacramento recommended her for a scholarship for the summer camp that AbilityFirstSports.Org puts on. And it was being held on the campus of UC Chico. That's about 4 miles from our house and the house was the perfect place for our son and his girlfriend to stay while our granddaughter was at camp. (Facebook link)
Our granddaughter wasn't certain that she wanted to go to camp. During the past 9 months she has gradually become less adventuresome, but she was convinced by her father that it would be worth the risk. He promised that they would stay close by and would always be available. So off she went. And as her father was leaving, one of the coaches approached him and said "Don't be surprised if we hand you a bag of wheelchair parts when she leaves" It seems that the campers quickly turn their staid chairs into sports models. Campers who are returning for their second or third summer show the new campers how to strip the chairs and make them 'race ready'.

Our granddaughter did not make the expected phone calls on the first day. And then again on the second; no calls. My son went to investigate and found a happy camper in his daughter. She wa having so much fun she had forgotten to call. The camp counselor told my son that all was well and she was the kind of camper that they love to see; unafraid to try anything. And they did everything. swimming, tennis, basketball, skate park, water skiing, even rugby. Also, they only stopped to eat and then they were back at it until 10 at night. There were 31 campers and they were all different, different backgrounds, different colors, different talents, etc. Then we saw our granddaughter being interviewed by one of the local TV stations as the spokesperson for the organization and its program. Amazing! And she was now doing things that she once required assistance for. She fell over once while racing and got her chair back up and herself into it in record time and with no assistance. Parents are asked to stay away during that week while the coaches are building up their self confidence. And it works.

She was returned to her father this afternoon and we were able to see her for awhile before they left for the 2 hour trip home. She was a different girl. She was positive and mature. And ready for next years camping trip. And we're going to make sure she gets to go!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why, oh why...

This administration drives me crazy.  I was reading an article describing the methodology used in parts of Trump's budget. Mick Mulvaney has this to say... “We need people to go to work,” Mr. Mulvaney said this week. “If you’re on food stamps, and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work. We need everybody pulling in the same direction.” At the same time that Mick is setting forth this 'common sense' ruling, he is proposing to cut job training, food stamps, child care, health benefits and more. He says that these moves will force people to get jobs and become part of a growing economy. This comes from a man that has never 'worked' a day in his life. He's never had to use his hands and his back to make wages that will, hopefully, feed his family and pay the bills.

This strategy was used in the 90's and it seemed to work... in a massively different economy. And when the economy went south, so did those jobs. It's odd, but the Republicans have been spouting this nonsense for years. And further back, when they weren't called Republicans, but were called Conservatives, they have been saying this for hundreds of years.

Homeless? How do you rent an apartment without first and last plus a cleaning deposit. How do you get a job without an address (and clean clothes). Can't get a job because of your prison record? The record you got for smoking dope ten years ago? Can't get a job because you can't meet the requirements? And they just closed the re-training center. You don't have a chance! Prepare to be hungry...and cold. Or, maybe you could call Mick and ask if he needs any help?. Any help at all?

Thursday, May 11, 2017


In a normal? Presidency, it takes 4 years to create a diary, of a reasonable length, telling of the highs and lows of that Presidency. We're into the 5th month of this Presidency and already that diary is in need of more paper to record the high crimes and crimes of omission committed by Trump. Those are the lows and there are no highs to record. I said, not too long ago, that Trump is mentally ill and I stand by that today. He is a psychopath. In all the days since his disastrous inauguration, he has done nothing positive. If he did, it wasn't an hour, a day or a week later that he negated it by doing something vile and negative to counteract it. Of course he surrounds himself with simpering sycophants to whisper encouragements in his ears and anyone that even hints that they might tell the truth is dealt with swiftly. "You're Fired!" was heard quite often when Trump was the star of his own reality TV show. Does he even know that he is no longer on television?

It's time for a Special Prosecutor. It's time for Trump to hear the words 'You're Fired!' and it needs to happen soon.

Monday, May 8, 2017

There is a light

Vive la France! Vive l’Europe! 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Hooray for us!

We're doing more for the economy than Trump even thought of doing. We have a landscaping company busy at work, front yard and back. The lawn has disappeared, as it should. It has been replaced by a curving pathway through flowering native plants and groundcovers. All irrigated by drip and mist. In front we have a short dry rock wall around the area that was once lawn. The rock has come from volcanic rock deposits not far from the Lava Beds National Monument. This is where Captain Jack, or Kintpuash, leader of the Modoc tribe held off the US Army for a year. It's a fascinating story.

The back yard is almost complete now and the crew of two is completing the tedious work of fitting the various sized rocks into place. Lots of hammering is involved.

I also have a fascination with all things volcanic. I think it started in elementary school in Manhattan Beach where we studied the story of the volcano that grew in a cornfield in Mexico.  ParĂ­cutin was it's name and it was a recent news event. The volcano made itself known in 1943 and I was in the 3rd grade just 5 years later.

Can you imagine a volcano poking out of the ground in your backyard? And it could have happened in my backyard; not probable but certainly possible as California is located on the Ring of Fire. The Ring is best described here "Geologic features along the Ring of Fire include not only volcanoes, but ocean trenches, mountain trenches, hydrothermal vents, and sites of earthquake activity." In my young mind, I knew it was possible and I would daydream about it happening in our backyard. I would never have to mow the lawn again!

I already have one souvenir of volcanos in my front yard. About ten years ago I saw a large chunk of basalt for sale at a yard sale and I just had to have it. It sat in the backyard of that house and then I moved it with us to this house. Why was I fascinated by this 100 pound hunk of rock? Growing up, our family would make a yearly trek up US 395 to vacation at Lake Tahoe. Driving that highway would let you see a portion of the Devil's Postpile National Monument and I thought it was a fascinating place, though Dad never stopped for us to tour it. Dad's are often like that.

I should post this and then  go and see how they are progressing.

Same old same old

I just  read in the WaPo that the House narrowly voted to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. I hope that the Trumpster understands that the replacement will be known as Trump Care. He's already made noises about his not liking that name. I'm sure he would rather it be called Ryan Care. So Trump Care it must and will be.

I was reading in the Economist that Steve Mnuchin is saying that the anticipated rise in productivity amongst the plebeian, due to a tax cut for the wealthier among us, will fund that tax cut and in fact the deficit will shrink because of all of the money that will pour in. I know I've heard it before...but I'm old, and a lot of citizens haven't heard it and to them it sounds magical! It is, in a way, because it was called Voodoo Economics way back then. Now Steve Mnuchin isn't all that old either, but he knows the term well and he knows that what he said was a lie. If he doesn't know that, he really should have flunked Economics 101.

This plan of his might work if world affairs didn't affect us. But they do. We are not immune to being influenced by events half the world away. This is not the beginning of the 20th century when the United States was able to produce just about everything it needed.

There are dozens of countries around the world that hitched their economies to oil and they are now seeing rioting in the streets because their economy collapsed. Who knew that was coming? We survived the oil disaster but where is the next disaster coming from? There will be one. Are we exposed? Shouldn't we be preparing for it by reducing the deficit right now, letting tax money roll in and not a pie in the sky growth in  productivity.    

Once again, I remember

It's just another 'normal' day around here. Go to the doctor and then wait for the other doctors to call and make appointments for me. During this time I sit and read the newspapers, including the 'failing' New York Times. The 'failing' New York Times has had its readership number explode in the days following the most expensive Inauguration in history.

Ah! A doctor has called and I have an appointment next week, just a few hours ahead of another doctors appointment. Just a typical day among the elders of this country; elders that can't possibly need all of this medical care.

I did have a small victory this morning as I left the family doctor's office with a large paper bag filled with samples of some of the drugs I need. Taking something from the pharmaceutical companies without paying is always a victory.

I was going to write about remembrances and I better get to it before I forget. As I read the news of today I can't help but to remember the 60's and 70's of the last century. In 1962 I had been discharged from active duty in the Navy and then had found some jobs that didn't pay much and had no future, but since Mom wasn't charging me a whole lot for room and board; just $20, I could get by. Then good fortune came my way and a neighbor, who I didn't know, asked me if I wanted to become an apprentice in the Carpenter's Union. If I did, he had a job and a career for me. It was going to cost me $50 to join the union and initially I would be making double the  dollars per hour that I currently 'enjoyed'. And that would change every six months, with a 10% raise if I didn't quit.

I bit at the thought of raises every six months and I became an apprentice. This changed my life completely. I had no idea as to why I was asked to do this by a complete stranger. Sure, I knew his daughter and since we worked for the same company, I told her one time that I thought the job I had was boring. Also, I  was in very good shape, I was six two and 180 pounds. That might have been the reason for the offer. Or, it may have been pure luck or it was a genuine blessing from God. Whatever.

After a week or two, I figured that the man who had hired me must have been looking for someone that appeared to be strong enough for the job, as this turned out to be the toughest job I had ever known and the money I was making was barely adequate for the labor involved. I was in the Carpenter's Union but I was an apprentice drywall installer and steel stud framer.

Many years have gone by since I made that fortunate decision and now I am enjoying the "fruits of my labor" and they aren't all good. My first spinal surgery was nine years ago; a fusion of the lower four vertebrae to correct the damage that lifting thousands of sheets of drywall inflicted on them. Then three more surgeries during those nine years. My neurosurgeon warned me, nine years ago, that the first surgery would not 'cure' me and that I could only expect pain, light to heavy, for the rest of my life. Irreparable damage had been done and he could do very little to help me, but he promised to help all that he could. And he has. Now the damage done to my cervical vertebrae has made its presence known with Level 8 pain in my shoulder every morning. This damage was almost certainly caused by all the times I installed (hung) drywall on ceilings (lids). You and your partner would roll the sheet of drywall from where it rested against your shoulders and up to your head. Then you would use your head to press the sheet against the ceiling framing and then begin nailing it or screwing it in place. I had a bald spot (not permanent) from a season of doing lids. And I had  shoulder pains that always went away when I stopped this harmful practice. Unfortunately, I did this kind of work for close to thirty years before I moved into office work where there was less chance of injury.

After seeing my MRI, my surgeon, a friend now, just shook his head and said "your back is just a mess!". Then he said, "This should be fairly easy to fix" and he took us into his office where he has the BIG monitor and gave us most of the details of his plan of attack. I will end up with 4 cervical vertebrae fused and all the nerve pathways will be widened and spurs removed. The pain will not end immediately as the nerves have suffered a major insult and may take a while to get over it. I will still have a pain in my lower spine and adjacent hip but he said he won't do any more surgery on my back. The amount of scar tissue there makes even a simple surgery a major risk because of the chance of severing a nerve accidentally. During my last back surgery he spent over four hours behind a microscope as he cut very slowly towards his target.

Now for the part of the story that I really enjoy. After showing us the MRI and giving us his plan, he sat back and we began to talk. We talked about the situation in the Middle East. We discussed the refugee problem. We talked about Jimmy Carter leaving the Southern Baptists. We talked about his childhood, growing up in rural Georgia and going to church with his grandmother and trying to figure out why there were two Southern Baptist churches in his town, less than a mile apart. We talked about Netanyahu. We talked about politics in Africa. We talked for close to half an hour before  he said, "I guess I had better let you go" and then we all stood and said our goodbyes.  This is the second time he's done this. He is one of the top rated neurosurgeons in Northern California. He was a teaching doctor at UCD Med school before moving his family away from the too busy life in Sacramento and yet, he is more than willing, almost eager, to have a normal conversation with two people. For myself, I am not a bit nervous when I know that it is my friend that is going to be doing the cutting, just millimeters away away from my carotid artery and my spinal cord.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Some tweets

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What are we going to do?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

No thanks

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

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

After sundown

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

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

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Something from the Times

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 13, 2017

Things are happening!

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Repeat or not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 3, 2017

I feel like I am repeating myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 30, 2017

Pants on fire!

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

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

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


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

Music to my ears

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Press conference

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

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

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

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

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