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Projections





Updated: 2017-11-18T14:58:07.366-08:00

 



Yes, time does go by

2017-11-18T14:58:07.377-08:00

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 forever...as it should be. I found it hard to write as well as she does.

I'm wandering...so 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....





I'm back at it

2017-10-06T10:15:12.957-07:00

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 Vegas...it'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.



Rinse and repeat

2017-09-18T08:59:31.036-07:00

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.  



There has been time enough

2017-08-27T10:09:20.861-07:00

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?



We're rich!

2017-07-21T11:09:07.654-07:00

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.



What's on tonight?

2017-07-20T13:47:00.770-07:00

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

2017-07-20T07:57:16.764-07:00

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!



It's all fake news...

2017-07-12T13:20:54.916-07:00

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.



Life goes on

2017-06-24T14:44:10.294-07:00

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!



Why, oh why...

2017-05-24T10:45:24.955-07:00

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?



When?

2017-05-11T07:45:09.122-07:00

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.



There is a light

2017-05-08T07:06:09.671-07:00


Vive la France! Vive l’Europe! 



Hooray for us!

2017-05-04T14:04:20.980-07:00

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.  Parícutin 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. p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #454545} 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.p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #454545} p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #454545} [...]



Same old same old

2017-05-04T12:18:02.311-07:00

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

2017-05-04T14:05:09.070-07:00

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 sto[...]



Some tweets

2017-04-03T14:08:53.870-07:00

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.



What are we going to do?...

2017-04-03T14:02:42.860-07:00

...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

2017-02-22T13:21:17.344-08:00

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.





After sundown

2017-02-21T21:07:29.392-08:00

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



Something from the Times

2017-02-16T08:32:07.459-08:00

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.ALLEN FRANCESCoronado, Calif.[...]



Things are happening!

2017-02-13T15:16:32.630-08:00

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.



Repeat or not?

2017-02-04T15:52:37.316-08:00

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 retri[...]



I feel like I am repeating myself

2017-02-03T11:32:17.192-08:00

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 loopholes...so 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.[...]



Pants on fire!

2017-01-30T09:02:15.630-08:00

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.

  



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

2017-04-03T14:06:57.369-07:00

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.