Saturday, March 28, 2015

Say Cheese!

I'm sitting in the living room, perched on my chaise and trying to keep my mind focused. I have my faithful cat sleeping and hogging all of the space around my feet. Well, one foot on the chaise is about all I can manage right now. The old Piriformis nerve block is still a problem but I will see the doctor next week and I hope to get an early appointment for the new block. In the meantime I take far too many pain meds. But I used those meds this morning to make it possible for me to get in half an hour of deep water jogging at the gym. Walking was painful but the water and the meds combined to make it possible, and pleasant, to get in some much needed cardio.

Memory. Why is it going? And when will it all be gone? My short term memory loss is becoming a problem for me. I can't begin to recount all the episodes of memory loss I deal with every day. So far it's all lightweight stuff; nothing life threatening...yet. I keep telling myself that it's all normal and I will know when to ask for help. But will I? I have couple of lightweight pocket recorders; maybe it's time to put new batteries in one and start carrying it with me. I could record my name and address on it and then use it to record any memory joggers I might need during the day. "Buy gas for the car" or "Take your library books back".

Long term memory seems to be functioning quite well. My mind spends a lot of time 'back in the day'. I'm helping with that by cataloging the many photos we have. I'm scanning all the photos I consider worthy of being included in the digital photo album. And every photo brings a flood of memories with it. I've been working on this cataloging for years and I doubt that I will finish before I die. Sorry, kids, I tried.

I have thousands of photo that are digital and thousands more that need to be scanned and become digital. And I am the kind of collector that needs to collect everything. It's my ASD and that is also the reason for the 20,000 plus music files that I have collected. On the plus side, it does keep me out of trouble. Also on the plus side is the fact that Amazon Prime members can store as many image files as they want in the Amazon 'cloud' and all for free. I'm up to 73,127 image files and there will be more for sure.

Just to be clear; I don't have 73,127 photographs. a good portion of that number is taken up by my collection of the works of many artists. Those images are usually JPG files and Amazon treats them the same as any other JPG file. Thank you, Amazon.

I may have mentioned that I enjoy talking with a retired architect when I'm in the pool at the gym. We have common interests and memories of the construction of buildings, both large and small. After each conversation I regret not being able to find any photographs of the construction projects I hd been talking about. Cameras were not commonly seen on construction sites back in the last quarter of the past century. Cameras were only used to gather evidence of some wrongdoing on the part of the contractor or the subcontractors. Naturally, someone with a camera was suspect. It was only after I became a superintendent that I was free to take photographs wherever I wanted.

I certainly regret not having a camera with me during the first decade of my career as that seems (to me) to have been the most exciting part of career. That might have been because safety standards were mostly non-existent at the time. Hard hats were for sissies and don't even think about wearing a safety belt!

During my cataloging I have found a few photographs of my time in the Navy. Certainly not as many photographs as I would have liked. It's the same for the high school and junior high years. Imagine having an iPhone back in the 50's! Now imagine two of have to have someone to call.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Keeping up with the times

I will be 75 in September and apropos of that I was looking at some photos (of me) that my daughter took just the other day. Yikes! I'm an old man!

I don't feel like an old man. Well, maybe slightly. I'm sitting on my chaise while I type this because my hip pain has returned with a vengeance. Mentally, I think I'm young. If not young, certainly not as old as the guy in the photo.  

One reason that I think I'm young mentally is that I embrace technology. I'm sitting here with an Apple MacBook Pro on my lap. I just wirelessly printed a chicken cacciatore recipe and heard the printer spring into action in the other room. My iPhone is charging its battery right now. My Kindle was used at the gym this morning while I was waiting for the swim time. During my workouts I have a Sansa Clip to deliver music or podcasts to my headphones. I downloaded the above photos from my daughters Facebook account and then cropped and edited them before posting here.

Okay, so what? Millions of elders do the same thing and more every day. But some important people don't do any of the above and are quite proud of the fact. Of course they are Republican lawmakers; Senators McCain, Lindsey Graham, Pat Roberts, Richard Shelby, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Shumer and probably a dozen more that were sufficiently ashamed and didn't reveal their stupidity to the press.

These are the people that make hard decisions about everything under the sun and they can't even email someone? This is the the 21st Century and they are stuck in the 20th...or 19th. The fact that they are acknowledged Luddites should be enough to have them run out of office.The question is; what else don't they know?


Sadly, it has started. And we are only into the 3rd month of 2015. Ted Cruz has grabbed the steering wheel and is now driving the Republican Clown Car in the race to the candidacy . I think Donald Trump is acting as navigator and occasional relief driver. I hope there's enough room in the car for all the candidates. But, of course there is! It's a Clown Car after all...

Monday, March 16, 2015


Dry and drier. We saw some clouds today and there was a very light sprinkle of moisture that lasted less than 15 minutes. Nothing else is in the forecasts. There is no snow to measure and some experts are saying that California has just one years worth of water left. Things are going to get ugly here in the West. The western states have a historical record of water wars and the coming years 'wars' may eclipse all the previous water wars.

Sadly, the state doesn't even have an accounting of how much groundwater is in the state nor does it know the locations and volume of any aquifers. Water 'rights' in the state are extremely vague and written more than a century ago. They were written to protect the water needed for the mining interests at that time...think 49'ers. Lawyers and judges will be very busy this year.

Why haven't the 47 Senators that signed the seditious letter to Iran been threatened with arrest? I'm not so gullible that I believe that they would actually be arrested. But I do believe that the Attorney General and the President should make it clear to the 47 that they have crossed a line. I think that the rest of the world is watching.

Very Local news...our fence is falling down. We have about 175 feet of old (13 years?) wooden fence that has seen the last of its life and is in danger of falling over. When we lived in Orland we had similar situation but a providential wind storm blew the fence over and our insurance paid for it's reconstruction. I don't see a fierce wind storm in our immediate future so I'm calling the local contractors and asking for bids.

The weight loss program continues. I'm close to 195 now. I would be feeling great if it weren't for the fact that the right Piriformis nerve block I received about 6 months ago has faded away and I'm at the mercy of the 'Pain Monster'. I knew that the block would only be good for a limited time but I was hoping that I might be the exception. Wrong. So I have an appointment with the pain doctor in about two weeks; I'm back to  using more Norco than usual for the time being. I normally use 6 to 8 a week and now it's 4 or 5 a day. I haven't stopped going to the gym though; the gym is my salvation! I'm up to 5 days a week now and three of those days I use the pool as well as the gym. Don't think that I'm one of those 'gym rats' that spends hours and hours in the gym; admiring their own pec's and lat's. I'm into cardio health exercise and doing something to keep my COPD at bay. I'm into flexing my lungs and not my biceps.

We are also looking at removing our lawns and putting in drought resistant plants.  Lawns are not natural. I've been saying that for years and only once have I been successful at making that argument work for me. My wife has always loved a lawn so we have had one for most of our married life. But one time, in Roseville, I was able to convince her that the front lawn should go. And it was gone; replaced by beautifully designed drought resistant landscaping. When we sold the house we assumed that the landscaping would remain; but no, the new owners (the bank, because the initial buyers faced foreclosure within 6 months) paid to remove it all and install a lawn. Both sad and stupid. But this time I already have her support for the lawn removal. Our daughter owns a nursery so we should get a good deal on the plants and we will save all sorts of money because we can cut off the expensive lawn service we are using. Mow and blow. That's what they do.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Oops. High drama at the airport

A few weeks ago we went off to Arizona, Cave Creek to be exact, to spend a week with my sister and brother in law. Despite my increased good health, flying is the only travel option for the two of us. When I first retired I promised myself that I would never darken the doorway of an airport again. The years of business travel had taken its toll on my psyche. So much for promises...

We bought our ticket early for a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to Phoenix and back at 1/2 price! Southwest is not the airline it once was, back in the 90's, but it's hard to beat for value.

On travel day one we were at the airport around 10 in the morning and on a Wednesday the airport is fairly quiet. Almost enjoyable. Going through security we were shunted through a separate aisle and  given the 'preferred treatment' and never had to take our shoes off or be body scanned. We were smiling! We stopped at Peet's and bought a coffee apiece and a scone to share. I bought a cross word puzzle book and a copy of Mac World. (I'm hoping to accelerate my education all things Apple) We watched people as we sat in the comfortable departure lounge area. The airport was almost serene...and so were we.

Departure time came and we found some seats just aft of the wing. That's my preferred section to sit in as it takes awhile for the luggage to be unloaded and I would rather sit in the plane and wait for a awhile rather than stampede off and stand around the baggage carousel for half an hour. The flight was uneventful, a good thing, and once on the ground I contacted my sister and we texted back and forth as the plane slowly emptied. She told me that they would be waiting for us at baggage claim. All was cool...

At Sky Harbor, the Phoenix airport, you have to take a long, long escalator ride down to baggage claim from the arrival floor. We stepped on and began our long descent. Suddenly, very close to the bottom, a woman, ahead of us, fell backwards, towards us. The person ahead of me went down on top of her as the escalator kept on moving. Suddenly, I was down as well and felt someone landing on my back. The escalator kept moving. As I was falling, I remember thinking, among many other thoughts, that someone had to reach the emergency shutoff. Soon! There were probably 5 or 6 of us down and struggling to get out when someone, on the outside, grabbed the initial fallen lady by her feet and dragged her out. (she was very, very large) it was as if someone had removed a cork. We all spilled out onto the floor. Luckily, my wife, a petite 4' 11" had been pushed to the side of the escalator and had been able to hop over the over sized carry-on 'wheelie' that had caused the initial wreck. She was safely on the outside and fearfully watching the mayhem. Once on my feet and finding that I could still walk, I joined her and we quickly moved away from the scene and found my sister and brother in law just a few yards away and oblivious to the wreckage behind us. We told them our tale and on our return to the area not a sign that anything had happened there could be found. Odd?

I still find it hard to believe that no one was injured, seriously, in the mayhem. I know that I was stiff and sore for the next few days but no lasting harm was done.

The large lady and her luggage? Oddly enough, she had been sitting near us in Sacramento and we had watched her earlier as she had slowly pushed her 'carry-on' across the terminal floor. She was unsteady on her feet because of her size and we wondered at the time about her 'carry-on'. Someone had been asleep when she was allowed past the check-in area with that monster. Seriously, someone could have been killed.

On our return to Sacramento we hesitated for only a moment at the top of the long, long escalator that takes you down to baggage claim. And there, over to the right and about 20' away was a bright  and shiny elevator. Empty and waiting just for us. We took it! It was the best ride on the whole trip!