Saturday, December 29, 2012

Animal blog?

No, not quite, but almost.  At least we'll have an animal post.  Sammie the dog is just doing her doggie thing.  She doesn't even seem to know she is ill.  Here is a shot of her sitting, not to patiently, since she was just playing with one of her Christmas toys.
You can see the odd growth on her chest.  Here is a closer view.
That wasn't there before Thanksgiving!  In little more than a month this growth the size of a man's fist has appeared.  It seems it cannot be long before it bursts.  We'll just have to see.

I spoke of a Christmas toy; well, we got toys for the cat as well.  One was a laser pointer, I though he'd love chasing that little red dot.  Turns out, he basically doesn't care, the dog is more interested.  Now we are betting that the cat is at least partially blind.  He is 17 years old and has fits of howling in the night as if he were frightened.  We are guessing that he wakes in the night, can't really see very well, no one is in the room and he gets frightened.  So he howls.  After three or four howls, he figures he has scared off anything that would attack him so he shuts up.  If there are any cat psychologists out there who have a better idea; I'm certainly open to learning more. 

If I may jump to a completely different subject, how do you store your photos?  I store my photos by date; my wife stores hers by subject.  I have started using 'tags' so I can search by subject but that is relatively new.  (This is all Windows PC stuff; even when I had an iMac I stayed away from that Apple proprietary crap!)  Finding specific photos is obviously a pain in the ass regardless of the system.  When looking for a specific photo I have to have an idea when it was taken; my wife has to sort through tons of photos of the same subject to find the one she is wanting.  Any advice would be appreciated. 

Have a good one!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas to all and may you and yours have a fantastic New Year!

Things are happening around here; some good and some bad.  I'll start with the bad.  Last Thursday we loaded our dog Sammie into the car for a trip to visit the nice people at the Las Vegas Veterinary Specialty Center aka the oncologist.  Just before Thanksgiving we noticed that the growth on the dog's chest was going wild.  This is the same spot where she has had three surgeries for cancer; the latest only last April.  We spent quite a long while talking with a very nice (and very pregnant!) vet who explained what kind of cancer the dog has and the various treatment options.  The options are all over the place.  The most aggressive is taking her to Los Angeles or San Diego for surgery and a month of radiation treatments.  Let's not even discuss cost!  Then there is surgery done here in Las Vegas, various radiation therapy options and finally a simple painkiller to keep her comfortable until we need to euthanize her.  The doctor helped us understand why this sort of cancer is so difficult to remove completely and that even the most aggressive treatment would probably not be successful.  The doctor took a lot of time to help us come to our decision which is, of course, the last since it is so doubtful that the cancer can be overcome.  Right now she doesn't seem to be in any particular pain.  She is slow to get up but likes her walks and is always looking forward to feeding time.  The huge growth on her chest doesn't seem to bother her at all.  So we are good to go until something causes a reduction in her quality of life.  When that happens, it will be time to say goodbye. 

The good news is that talking with the vet brought us a better understanding of what we will be facing for the next few months.  Knowing that makes facing it easier.  Our other good news is that we are actually ready for Christmas.  Part of the reason is that we are reducing the size of the celebration.  Since it is only us and Number One Daughter, we don't need four appetizers, two desserts, rolls, two vegies, etc.  We'll have a ham, mac and cheese and a vegie.  We even managed to find a slightly under six pound ham (2.6 kg) - it should be fun to find out if that will provide enough for dinner plus all the secondary uses we find for ham. 

We made a trip into Las Vegas about a week ago for shopping.  Shopping together means that there won't be too many surprises under the tree but we are confident that we'll like what we get!  Old people can do this stuff!  I think it's in the Bible somewhere; near where they say you have to go out and go into debt buying presents at Christmas.  

I did actually write (email) to President Obama and my Congressional representatives about the fiscal cliff and how they shouldn't act like school children but should keep us from going over and under.  My Representative and one Senator responded with canned responses; nothing from Mr. Obama who is so proud of his "open and responsive adminestration".  I hope they can manage something but I guess we'll just have to get along if they don't.  It wouldn't be the first screw up by those idiots we voters send to D.C.

We have been having all kinds of different weather.  Cloudy days, clear days, windy days and all the possible variations have been coming our way.  I left the hummingbird feeder out one night and discovered it frozen the next morning.  I'd forgotten that last year we brought it in every night so now that is added to the nightly chores.  I saw a hummingbird trying to drink from it the morning it was frozen; afterwards he perched on the holder and kind of looked at me.  Bet he was thinking nasty thoughts!  Here's a shot of Mt. Charleston with the desert floor in the foreground.  Have a happy holiday.  I'll be back before the new year.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What can one say?

I had a thought or two that I was going to share this morning but after the shooting in Connecticut, what else can I say but Oh My God, all those little children dead.  The photos of the parents who have found their children; the photos of the parents who have not; it is just heartbreaking.  The news that is coming out is so contradictory.  I suppose in a couple of weeks we will have a better idea of what happened and why.  Not that I expect it will help the parents of the children or the husbands and wives of the school workers.  Maybe it will help the survivors, a little.

Needless to say all the gun control people will be howling.  They seem to misunderstand that people who want to kill will manage it regardless of the laws.  Don't you have to be 21 to purchase a gun?  The kid identified as the shooter was only 20.  Laws don't protect people, they can only punish people who get caught.

I don't break speeding laws much but there are plenty who do.  Maybe we should build cars that know the speed limits and won't break them.  Surely the technology is there.  Our GPS knows the speed limits on most streets and highways; it would be trivial to tie the GPS into the car computer system and have it just say 'no' when you want to speed.  That and a car that won't start if the driver has been drinking would save thousands of lives.  Laws are only the answer if people obey them and some people just don't.

On a happier note, we got half an inch of rain (1.3 cm) yesterday and a bit more today.  For a place where four inches (10 cm) is the average, that's good news!  It means we have lots of clouds around the mountains as well.  Very pretty.  The ski resort over on the Las Vegas side of the mountain is pretty darned happy too.  Let me close with yet another photo of the mountains I look at as I sit here; this from yesterday afternoon.  Have a good one!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rainy Day

Yep, around here, it's news!  We were getting a few drops at 07:00 when I took the dog out and it has increased to the point where we might receive a measurable amount.  Hot dog!

The big plan for today is to hit the couple places where toys are sold.  The Marines have lots of boxes out for Toys for Tots and we like to contribute.  We figure older kids should either work for their toys or go without but little kids aren't going to understand if there isn't something for them.  We are good with buying stuff for Tots.  I can see why people have trouble though.  It's really easy to blow through some serious money when the toys are $25 or $50 each.  Needless to say, we stay in the cheap seats when buying stuff for the little kids.  Number One Son made a name for himself many years ago when he played longer with the box than the toy.

Of course there will be a food drive; probably this weekend though I haven't heard of it.  It is another opportunity to help the less fortunate.  We have plenty of homeless folks and plenty who are just poor.  I suppose it is the same everywhere but with the lack of work here in our valley we notice it especially.

I read a very good commentary in The Economist about Republicans beating up Mr. Romney for losing the election.  There were lots of rocks to throw of course.  When he made the stupid 47% comment I thought he must be mad.  To say something like that in a public forum ranks right up there with sending threatening emails or leaving voicemails that should be a private one-on-one conversations.  (Yes, I've known people who have done both of those things!)  The GOOD news though is that some Republicans are saying things like we shouldn't divide the country into "our" and "their" voters.  Tom Cole, an Oklahoma congressman, talked about drawing a distinction between those who need help and those for whom state aid has become "a way of life".  Now those are thoughts, if they remember them, that will help Republican candidates in 2014 & 2016. 

No photos today but it looks like we have snow down to about 4,000 ft (1,200m).  It might be a good sign for tomorrow.  Have a good one!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

It's chilly!


I went out the feed the birds this a.m. and got an interesting little lesson in hydrodynamics.  The birdbath was frozen so I took a pointed rock and knocked a small hole in the ice.  I was thinking I'd knock it all out but every time I hit the ice, water shot out of the first hole I'd made.  Interesting!  It never would have occurred to me that the pressure on the ‘body’ of the ice would have that result.  Live and learn I guess.  So I waited a couple hours until at least some of the water thawed before I gave the birds their fresh water. 

We had a little water by the base of the water heater the other day.  Today it is dry.  I’m confused; I would have thought that the darn thing would either leak or not leak.  Apparently it leaks on Fridays but not Saturdays?  Again, I’m learning new stuff here.  I’m thinking I’m going to learn how to change out a water heater though before I’m much older.  Life in the fast lane.  Now I’m spending some quality internet time checking out water heaters – looks like we’ll be spending somewhere between $300 and $1,000 on a new one.  There are some amazing heaters; even one that has a sort of heat pump attachment that makes it more energy efficient. 

We were out enjoying the sunset last night and got to see some military aircraft playing over the California desert.  All we could see were the contrails but it looked like they were having fun.  The one plane would make a tight turn and the other would follow along.  I suppose they were a couple miles apart but they looked close.  We watched them for a good half hour just carving trails in the sky. 

I’ll end with a photo of our cat.  He is getting old and doesn’t clean himself very well.  He gets mats in his fur so we get him a ‘lion cut’ a couple times a year.  My wife was playing with his tail; I thought it was kind of cute.  Sorry about the quality but I took this with my cell phone.  Have a good one!


Thursday, December 06, 2012

Finances - and the cliff


This time of year I always find myself thinking about our finances.  I should probably think about it more often but the end of the year it is pretty much guaranteed.   Tax season will be upon us next quarter so that is part of the reason.  Of course everyone wants to know how they have done over the last year so that’s another reason. 

This year I’m planning on giving up some of the mutual funds we’ve held for many years and going to more index-based products.  The amazing Random Roger posted a graph a couple months ago showing the correlation between various large funds and the index they follow; it was amazing!  The correlation is really strong, as I guess you would expect, so why pay for a managed fund if you aren’t getting any extra return?  Guess I’m kind of slow to have this dawn on my after all these years but what can I say?  Better late than never? 

I’m still a fan of ownership if specific companies.  I think you can get a better overall return even if there is statistically more risk.  I don’t like to admit it but we do have one investment that is way too large a proportion of our portfolio.  It is a company I used to work for and I just let the investment grow rather than sell parts of it off during my years there.  Aside from that, most of our individual investments are 2-5% of our net worth.  Over the years we’ve lost 100% of our investment in a couple companies but when you are talking that size investment it’s hardly a bump in the road. 

This year I have an additional challenge in that Number One Daughter has asked me for some investment advice.  She has a 401k that she wants to roll over to something else.  That will be a challenge because she isn’t very patient so a 5% yearly increase isn’t going to make her happy but losing money will make her even less happy.  It will be a learning experience for us both I’m sure. 

I wish I could get the old crystal ball shined up but it is just as cloudy as ever.  About the best I can say is that I don’t think the sky is falling quite yet.  Even if we do go over the fiscal cliff, which I certainly hope those idiots in Washington manage to avoid, I imagine things will keep moving in the same general direction.  Paying more and getting less is not a new idea.  It has been happening pretty much my entire life.  Lots of us were driving when we paid $.30 a gallon for gas.  Doesn’t anyone else remember when the Post Office delivered more letters than advertising fliers?  (As an aside, I was talking to a guy who has a little local magazine.  He said it is $.14 a copy to flood the town with his magazine.  Really!  And a postage stamp costs $.44, right, that's clever.)

Speaking of the fiscal cliff, I’m going to write emails to a bunch of folks in Washington including the Pres, our state representatives and the leaders of the House & Senate.  I wish LOTS of people would drop them a line explaining what idiots they will be if they don’t get something going.  I’m going to be stressing the statesmanship aspect of their jobs rather than the partisan politics that they all seem to prefer.  It probably will just be a waste of time but I’d feel really dumb not doing anything.  So get out there & write!

And have a good one!


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Holiday Weekend!

No, I haven't fallen on my head.  This is our new holiday weekend.  At least for this year!  What has happened is that Number One Son and his Significant Other (SO) have trouble getting time off on the holidays so we decided to make our own holiday.  Number One Daughter can pretty much schedule her time her way so she has no problem.  We are retired so no problem.  What we are hoping is that having a mid-December holiday will enable us to all be together for a couple days.  So far it seems to be working.  The only problem is to not become too blimp-like from eating too much three times in a month! I'm sure we can figure out something. 

This year though my wife was determined to do a Prime Rib.  (Prime is the highest quality rating that is commonly available.)  I won't say how much that damn roast cost but will tell you it was $19.99 a pound.  If you care you can figure out the price per kilo; personally I don't want to know!  I must say it was very good and remarkably easy.  We made a garlic/salt/pepper/thyme paste to put on the outside and let it sit in the fridge for a day to soak up the flavors.  Then tossed it in the oven for half an hour at 450F (230C) then reduced the heat to 350F (175C) until the internal temp. was 115F (46C).  It took about three hours.  When we tried the crust, it was AWFUL - totally salty but it also just fell off the roast.  Without the crust the roast was great.  The two end pieces were fairly well done but the interior was just medium rare; just like everyone likes it.  I had one of the ends and even it was nice and juicy and even the exterior was tasty.

Everyone who watches the various cooking shows has seen someone using a mandolin.  It is used to cut  uniform slices off potatoes, onions, etc.  I just had to buy a cheap one a couple weeks ago and yesterday we decided to use it for the first time to slice some potatoes for a dish.  I managed to slice a piece off my little finger on the second slice!  Grrr!  What a chump.  My wife did use it to slice the rest of the potatoes and you can believe she was careful.  I must say it did a great job though; uniform slices and the job didn't take more than about a minute a potato.  This is about the cheapest mandolin on the market & I can recommend one if you are careful.  Maybe it's not so great if you are a chump like me. 

Now we have three whole weeks until the next holiday.  Why don't we move Christmas to April or sometime?  I'm going to break the scale if this over-eating and over-drinking keeps up. 

Have a good one!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oddball Health Stuff


Oddball health stuff today.  First of all, lets talk about cell phones.  They are amazing, especially the smartphones.  But, like anything, there are some problems – aside from using them while driving though that is probably the biggest problem.  Here is a link to a Dr. Oz segment on Oprah’s website talking about some of the dangers.  I don’t think he is an expert on all things but he doesn’t seem to be selling anything.
http://www.oprah.com/health/Dr-Oz-Explains-Cell-Phone-Dangers-and-How-to-Avoid-Them   (They also suggest the cell phone radiation can cause infertility in men but at my age who cares!  Younger readers might want to check it out.)

Here is another doctor who is concerned about all the radio wave activity surrounding us.

How about a personal story.  A few years ago my wife was diagnosed with osteopenia; it is a weaking of the bone structure that can lead to osteoporosis.  Her doctor has her take a bone density test every year to keep track of this condition.  This is done on each hip.  Her right hip has always had a higher density than her left.  This year her left had a higher density than her right.  Last year we got new smartphones, she carries her phone in her right front jeans pocket.  Is there a relationship?  Who knows!  But we are being a lot more careful about putting the phone on a table or desk rather than carrying it all the time. 

How about an alternative medicine story.  I had one of my thumbnails get really corrugated and thick.  I went to the doctor and they took a sample but found no fungus so had nothing to prescribe.  A few weeks later my wife happened to see part of the Doctor Oz show.  Someone was complaining of a problem much like mine and the doctor said to treat it with a mixture of sunflower oil and tea tree oil.  I did and it worked; my nail is almost completely normal now.  I’ve no idea why he recommended the sunflower oil mixture since the Tea Tree Oil was such a small dose of ‘the real thing’.   Apparently it was a bacterial infection of some sort and the tea tree oil cleared it right up.


Please excuse the old photo.  One of our local casinos was having trouble with the flag so they got this guy to fix things up.


Have a good one!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The holiday is still with us!

Well, at least the leftovers!  And Number One Daughter though I imagine she will be leaving in a couple hours.  Per our new tradition, we forgot to put the cranberry sauce on the table AGAIN this year.  Grrrr.  I suppose I should say that I forgot it since I'm the only one who actually likes the stuff but I was not the one who made it.  We do the real stuff with real cranberries as opposed to those cans of whatever.

I decided to try making dressing from scratch.  There are plenty of recipes but I couldn't really find any that called to me so I cobbled together something using about eight 'starting points'.  It turned out fairly well.  I used marbled rye bread and sourdough to start with and those seemed to be good choices.  I added sage sausage, onion & celery and basically called it a day.  I used a cup of chicken broth to moisten things up.  One of the recipes suggested cooking it covered for a while then uncovered so I tried that.  Somehow we ended up with bread that was partially crispy and partially soggy.  Weird.  Guess maybe that covered thing was a mistake.  Some of the 'recipes' didn't even have a cooking time; the ones that did varied between thirty minutes and an hour and a half.  Do you wonder why I ignored them and did my own?

I found a new blog to read The Caretaker Chronicles written by a Canadian who is living in Vienna.  I've always heard it is a lovely city and he is nice enough to post the ocassional photo.  He's also got an irreverant, humorous way of writing.  I'm liking it.

I went all crazy the other day posting photos so I'm pretty low on anything new to share.  I apologize in advance for the quality.  We did have a slightly demented 'centerpiece' on our table.  Here's the photo:
The pine cone turkey is something Number One Daughter made when she was much younger.  The squash I just bought.  My wife is always telling me that an odd number of things is more interesting than even so I got three.  I wanted different shapes and colors but nothing too large so here I got these three.  Then my wife set them out in this manner.  Is it me or does it look like that turkey is getting the goose? 

So much for the excitement of Thanksgiving.  Now on to Christmas crazyness!  Have a good one.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Been AWOL again - sorry!

Things have just been perking along out here in the desert.  Haven't done much to report on except we are trying to get ready for the U. S. holiday of Thanksgiving.  Our local radio station advertised a food drive so my wife and I headed for the supermarket.  She got a cart for veterans and I got one for the foodbank.  The idea is that the vets are often living somewhere where they might not have cooking facilities so things in small packages and not requiring much in the way of cooking implements are better for them.  The foodbank stuff is more traditional, like a frozen turkey, large packages, etc.  I always throw in a few cookies or candys because kids are always kids & need their treats.

I think it is my wife's favorite holiday since it involves family, celebration and no religion.  Probably mine as well though I find celebrations kind of depressing.  Celebrate every day; not just once in a while.  Anyway, I got to feel the anxiety in the air while we hunted (in the supermarket!) for the perfect bird.  We found one but it wasn't quite right so we went to the other store, they had nothing.  So zoomed back to the first store & grabbed our new little buddy.  Jeez!  Then spent another half hour leisurely filling the cart with other stuff.  The butcher was really nice to us; he must think we are crazy though! 

Here is a photo I took back on the 12th:
That is 26F outside - or minus 3C.  Granted it was 06:30 in the a.m. but that's chilly.  Glad I drained all the water from the trailer! 

Here is a shot from a bit later that same day.  It warms up nicely during the day and we were in the hot tub enjoying an early happy hour.  Note the distinct lack of snow on the mountain in the background.  It has been getting snow then having it melt several times lately.

We've had variable weather so the sunrises and sunsets have been pretty spectacular.  Needless to say I have to inflict at least one such photo on you.
Here is my version of an artsy photo - a photo of a real piece of art!  We bought this sculpture in Paris way back before the turn of the century.  It isn't the one I wanted.  That was probably 4 feet tall (1.3m) and was making a rude gesture; my wife was afraid we'd never have a space big enough for it and she didn't much care for the gesture.  So we compromised on this one which is about 2 feet tall (.6m).  We didn't even notice that the woman is smoking a cigarette; now it is the first thing we notice!  We like it in spite of the political incorrectness.  And we really liked the way the morning light lit it up.
I'll close with a photo I took the other day of our flag and the mountain.  There are some really incredibly beautiful sights around here, you simply need to look for them. 
For those in the U. S. have a happy Thanksgiving.  For everyone else, celebrate EVERY day of life!  have a good one.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Grrrr

I've joined the bloggers who require a name on a comment.  It's not like there are that many people who read this drivel that I write but apparently some robot somewhere has found me.  I had to delete six 'comments' this morning.  That's just too many. 

I went in to Las Vegas the other day.  Nothing exciting, just doing errands.  BUT I had pizza for lunch then we went out to dinner and had pizza.  How many guys get to have a two pizza day?  I knew I was lucky but that's special.

My wife finally settled on her new laptop.  It's another Toshiba from ToshibaDirect.com; it's got the i7 chip and a 1Tb harddrive.  It's also got Windows 8 which is a whole new ball of wax.  She is managing it but as everyone says, it's a steep learning curve.  She has been switching between Firefox and Microsoft's Explorer on her old machine for some time.  Now she has a new Explorer as well as a new operating system.  I'm just standing back and trying to be encouraging; I sure as hell don't know anything about this brave new world she is entering. She was told to do a backup either on three DVDs or a thumb drive; she tried DVDs first and it just wouldn't work.  Happily we had a 16GB thumb drive and that worked.  Funny that they even suggested DVDs.

One of the casino's offered a free tee shirt to vets on Veteran's Day.  I just couldn't figure out how to prove I am a vet.  I guess my American Legion card might have done the trick but I don't carry it around with me.  After some thought I remembered my dog tags but, again, I don't wear the things.  So I didn't get my shirt.  Guess I'll just have to live.  I did FIND my dog tags though; they are at least 45 years old and still look just like new.  Guess that is what happens when you use something for a few years then throw it in a drawer for a few decades.  I know I'm sure worse for wear after all those decades!

I keep telling myself that today is the first day of the rest of my life.  Unfortunately I don't seem to be making any inprovements in my behavior.  It's not like I'm all that bad but I'm not all that good either. That's the rub.  If anyone has a secret method for making one do one's situps and pushups I'd love to hear it!  Not that it will get me off my ass but.....  It would be interesting.

Have a good one!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Strange World

The news continues to confound me.  For example, this woman who runs over her husband with a car because he didn't vote.  Imagine what she would have done had he voted for someone she didn't like! 

Then there is the very strange story of General Petraeus; everyone involved seems to be behaving strangely except maybe the General's wife.  She is just pissed off.  Wonder why.

There is a long article claiming that Mr. Romney lost the election because some software that was supposed to help the Republican's Get Out The Vote campaign didn't work.  Gee, is it possible that maybe Mr. Romney's and by extension some Republican ideas aren't acceptable for moderate American voters? 

Apparently there are at least twenty states where people have signed secession petitions including some where Mr. Obama won the popular vote.  I understand this is not unusual after a Presidential election but it sure is weird.  I wonder what these people think they are doing.  They voted, they lost:  how tough is that? 

Maybe it is just that we have so much more news available to us then in the past.  After all, newspapers have limited space, the internet seemingly doesn't. 

Have a good one.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sore loser - to put it kindly

We went out to breakfast this a.m. and I spotted this.


I can't tell you how offended I am.  I'm not offended if some dumb ass in Iran or somewhere wants to disrespect our flag.  But to do this to your own country's flag just pisses me off.  This asshole probably thinks he/she is a great patriot or something.  I’m not going to say any more what I think of him/her, it would just be profanity.  I've read a good argument that the only place the flag should be flown is on government buildings.  But there are a lot of folks, especially around here it seems, who want to fly the flag.  MOST of them don't follow proper etiquette but do at least give it a try.  

If you have the time, you might try reading a few articles from this compilation of articles written by Charlie Reese, a newspaper man who is now retired.  I think he has some pretty good thoughts.  A warning however:  if you like Ron Paul you probably won't like Charlie; if you like Mr. Romney you probably won't like Charlie; if you like Mr. Obama you probably won't like Charlie.  If you think G. W. Bush was a good president, you certainly won't like Charlie.  Damn, I miss Charlie's writing.

Anyway, have a good one.

Happy Veterans Day


Happy Veteran's Day to all the vets out there.   As you can see, it’s a bit windy here today.  Having served our country is a privilege that those who have not done will never completely understand.   Odd, but true.

We had a murder here yesterday or maybe it was just lunch.  I just posted a photo of all the finches having lunch.  Well, apparently I have a hawk as a reader because he dropped in for lunch.  On the finches as it were.  My wife and I were sitting in the kitchen nook talking after lunch when I spotted a hawk out in the yard.  She grabbed her camera and got a shot or two of him standing around.  Then, in a moment, he had grabbed a finch and was dining!  Yep, just started pecking away at the little guy.  If you look closely you can see the finch in his claws.  After 10 minutes or so, we figured he was full.  He’d moved off a bit to finish his lunch and was kind of hidden in the shadows.  The other birds decided it was safe and returned to have more seed somehow ignoring the hawk.  Big mistake, huge actually for one because he came zooming in and grabbed another finch!  Yep, one just wasn’t enough.  I must admit, they are small. 


So we had a lesson in life yesterday.  We’ve all got to eat.  Have a good one!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Back to normal



After all the excitement of the election it’s good to return to normal stuff:  like watching the birds.  In the fall we get a ton of these little gold finches.  There are rose finches as well but the golden guys really go for thistle seed.  There is an ongoing fight to see who gets the best spots on the sock. 




We also had a rainbow yesterday.  No rain but the rainbow was nice.  There is a big storm coming our way from California so we are getting wind; perhaps rain over the weekend.  

On the CBS news this morning I saw a segment called  “Note To Self”; it was a man’s advice to his much younger self on the eve of going to war in Iraq.  The link is here – it is very highly recommended.  The guy, Alex Horton, works at the VA.  I cannot help thinking we will be hearing more from this guy.

Short post today.  Just wanted to share the ‘normal’ thing in life.  Have a good one.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Thank You!

Thank you U.S. of A. for avoiding the election of Mr. Romney.  Yep, I can't say thank you for electing Mr. Obama but, once again, I had to vote in favor of the lesser of two evils.  Jeez.  What a world. 

Locally we had a couple of people elected that I voted for and a couple that I didn't.  Isn't it always that way?  We'll stumble along as usual I suppose.  This area was a farming community; during the Las Vegas boom times it became a bedroom community.  Now during the downturn, it has no where to go.  Farming can't support all the people and commuting is pretty expensive so the only support are retirees who can live in this beautiful area without needing to work.  It's a tough place to represent in the best of times and these ain't!

We did refill the hot tub yesterday.  We drained it way last summer when we were traveling and it's been so warm that sitting in warm water didn't sound all that great.  Now, however, when the sun goes down it starts feeling chilly so sitting in warm water is sounding a lot better.  Silly, aren't we.  Anyway, starting tonight, most likely, if you want to see two old naked people come look through our gate or over the fence.  We've been sitting out enjoying the sunset most nights; now we'll have somewhere to go after the sun goes down.

Gotta go.  I've got another set of augers to install to hold the shed down and it will be too warm to work later in the day.  Have a good one!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day

It's finally election day so if you are eligible and haven't already done so:   VOTE!  I know who I would like you to vote for but that isn't the way it works.  Go ahead and make up your own mind.  LOL 



We voted last week and the local election seems to be more agressive than in years past.  One candidate had a big bus conversion parked on the street with a 20 foot (7m) banner saying 'vote for me'.  Another had a little shade tent pitched where they could tell you what wonderful things they would do.  There were even a bunch of people trying to take an exit poll.  Jeez, I don't know what has come over all these people.  Anyway, I'm hoping that we the people make some wise choices and get this country off it's ass. 

We did go into Las Vegas yesterday.  I got roped into helping our daughter fix a mirror attached to a chest of drawers that she has.  This thing was flimsy when it was built and that was quite a while ago.  The mirror is about 3 feet by 5 feet (1m x 1.6m) and is being held on by four pretty short screws.  The maker actually put some solid metal attachment points but the bolts have been long gone and in fact one of the attachment legs has been replaced.  Anyway it was a less than fun hour of fooling around doing a truly lousy job.  What really made it worse is that the ladies both want to advise me on what to do but to about things in opposite directions.  My wife is slow and painstaking; my daughter is hurry and slap it together.  I was ready to rub them together and start a fire.

We also checked out more computers.  While that was fun, we did find a Samsung that was pretty nice.  It was sitting next to a Toshiba.  We currently both have Toshibas - hers a 2005 model, mine a 2008.  It was then that we noticed the Samsung has a matte screen while the Toshiba is quite shiny.  We orginally were basically looking at the new Toshibas and now we have more to think about.  I think I've talked her into only looking at 17" machines with the i7 Intel chip.  If she keeps the new machine for 7 years as well, it won't be a total boat anchor at the end and we don't really care about portability that much.  The new touch screen machines are pretty cool but I'm thinking we should wait a generation or so for the technology to become a bit more mainstream.   

Gotta go.  Here's hoping for the best.  Take care.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Promised Photo


I'm still fooling with the shed.  It's together but we get some really interesting micro-burst weather events around here so keeping it on the ground is a priority.   I bought the thing from our local Sears affiliate.  They had a little demo version put up in front of their store that was bolted to the concrete.  One day they came to work to find it totally knocked down.  It was still bolted down but apparently the wind got in the open door and just ripped it apart.  So keeping it in place might be a challenge.

The maker suggests bolting it to concrete or wood or using an auger type anchor.  We decided to try the augers.  They are kind of a pain to dig into the ground but seem pretty sturdy.  I’ve done the front pair of augers and installed a steel cable going over the top of the building.  The other set will have to be installed another day.  Anyway, here is the promised photo of the building.



I went all crazy and made chili yesterday.  It takes me about four hours from start to eating.  Good thing I’m not competing on any of those cooking shows where you get half an hour to create something!  One time I put about two-thirds beef and one-third pork in my chili and kind of liked it.  This time I tried putting in some chicken thighs (diced up of course).  It didn’t really work for me; the chicken just kind of disappeared into nothingness.  I use ancho chili and chili arbol mostly then toss in a chipotle with a bit of adobo sauce for a smoky touch. 

Tomorrow we might go into Las Vegas and look at computers.  My wife’s laptop is 7 years old; she is still on XP!  It is getting really slow; especially when she is using big files like in some of the games she likes to play.  Still, we are hesitant about going to Windows 8.  Have you tried it?  I haven’t played with it enough to tell if it is actually different or if it is just more of the same with a different face. 

Have a good one!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Not dead; just kind of creaky!


I just figured out that I haven't posted in two weeks!  Bad Don!  I haven't been just sitting around though I am awfully good at that.  While my wife was gone I decided to put up a metal shed that we bought an embarrassingly long time ago.  Well, I decided to start putting it up anyway.  The kit came in this large box; the size you have to unpack rather than try to move around.

The first few steps are where you get a nice level surface for the frame and put together some other parts, like rafters, that you’ll need later.  I spent a couple hours each day getting all that done.  Getting the frame perfectly level was a lot like hard work, I must say, but it really paid off because later in the construction we had very little trouble getting things to fit just so.  Then I got to Step 6 in the instructions (of 20 steps).  Let me quote the note preceding Step 6.

“The remainder of the building assembly requires many hours and more than one person.  Do not continue beyond this point if you do not have enough time to complete the assembly today.  A partially assembled building can be severely damaged by light winds.”

I was alone so I needed to stop then once my wife returned to assist/direct me, the wind started.  Grrrr!  I had the individual sheets of metal all set out on the ground divided into piles according to the instructions and couldn’t do anything.  There were 12 different types of panels and 23 other braces, trim strips, brackets, channels and frames.  It wasn’t until Monday of this week that we got calm conditions.  By then a few of the panels had been blown around and a couple had dents even.  But what can you do; just make it happen.  So that’s what we did.

I must say that the idea of completing assembly in a day seemed pretty optimistic; and it sure was!  We worked about 4 hours on Monday; 5 on Tuesday and another 5 on Wednesday.  We finally finished the thing with an extra hour or so this morning.  That’s a total of 15 hours (30 since there were two of us working) in addition to the 6 or 8 I’d already put in. 

So what do we have?  It is a 10’ x 11’ (3.04m x 3.35m) Arrow storage building that mostly just covers our well and the associated parts:  the control box, pressure tank, etc.  There is room for some other things but not a whole bunch.  You can however get all around the well should you need to work on it.  Another part of the reason for such a large building is that the pressure tank is over five feet tall and smaller buildings just weren’t tall enough.  In the end, the fact that we had a couple of dented panels didn’t really matter a lot.  It made fitting the panels a bit more difficult but it wasn’t that bad.   Most of the requirement for a second person was to stabilize the building while the other was putting in a screw or to tighten a bolt that the other person put in.  We managed it ok and we are both in our sixties so it isn’t all about strength.  

I must say that the kit was complete and the instructions quite good.  We ran out of the little plastic washers near the end but that was about it.  We had extras of the screws, nuts and bolts used.  They did have a habit of saying something like ‘only put one bolt in the beam at this time’ but not saying WHY you were only using one.  There was always a reason that we discovered some way down the line but it was kind if disconcerting to leave things half done hoping to find a finish later.  You also had to be very attentive to the instruction AND the diagrams; one of the reasons we stopped work after 4 or 5 hours was because we were getting tired and making silly mistakes:  like losing track of which end of the door was the top.  Still, I’ve got to say it is a pretty good product and it’s ‘Made in the USA’. 

Photos?  Ah, well, my wife took a few but hasn’t downloaded them yet!  The good news though is that it will make for another post.  LOL  Have a good one!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lots O Fun

My wife and daughter have gone off to have fun without me; visiting the beach.  It works for me since they get to talk, talk, talk and I get to enjoy the quiet at home.  Definitely a win-win. 

I took our usual walk this a.m. with the dog out in the desert.  We walk along the road for about a quarter of a mile.  This morning we found this:  the remains of a rabbit.  Looks like the coyotes have a nice little dinner.  They sure didn't leave much.

It rained last Thursday; that's a week ago.  Well, here's another photo from my walk.  The earth here is nature's Tupperware!  It is still muddy from last week.

This trail is actually on the map as a road.  People drive here even though it is not what you might call 'improved'.  It is mostly pickups and ATVs that use the path but you do see the occasional car.  This is one of those places where putting too much reliance in your GPS can get you in trouble!

Some time ago I bought a shed kit from Sears intending to protect our well from the elements.  I'm finally putting the thing together.  Well, I should say I've started to put it together.  I worked all morning and got the floor frame together.  It has what seems to be thousands of tiny screws and nuts and bolts to connect all the pieces.  Just getting the site leveled is killing me.  I put one of these together when we lived in Orlando and I don't remember it being such a hassle.  Of course I was twenty years younger then.  LOL  Maybe that has something to do with all my whining. 

Gotta go.  Have a good one.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Two posts in two days!

Just when I've been saying my life is pretty quiet, yesterday happened.  All in all, it was a long day!  It started with an appointment with my opthomologist in Las Vegas.  That was actually quiet; too quiet.  Got there about 12:30 and didn't get out until about 14:45.  Why it took so long is beyond me; but then again, doctors don't seem to care much about the patient's time do they?  The outcome was I'm good to go for another year at least.  So it is almost 16:00 by the time we make it back over the hump.

Our daughter missed my birthday and wanted to take us out to dinner to celebrate, at my age I don't know if you should celebrate another birthday or just another day above ground!  Anyway, she was only about 10 minutes behind our arrival.  We had a glass of wine and chatted then went to an early dinner at our local steak house.  The dinner was really quite good and we all enjoyed ourselves. 

On the way home we were perhaps a mile from the house when someone came right up behind us and started tail-gating us.  Hmmm.  My wife and I both encouraged our daughter to slow and let them past; amazingly she did so!  (Later she said that she only drives that carefully when her parents are along. LOL).  This little gray car zooms around us and tears off but within a couple hundred yards went off the road and slammed into a driveway culvert.  Smoke was issuing from the entire vehicle and some steam from the radiator.  It was quite a sight. 

Naturally we stopped and tried to see if the occupants were ok.  The car's airbag had deployed and the driver and only occupant, a woman, seemed unconscious.  The car was rapidly filling with smoke, the police later told us it was from the airbag.  Anyway we tried all the doors; only the right rear and the back hatch would open but it did clear the smoke out.  Meanwhile my wife was on the phone to the police & fire departments.  They had pretty good response time.  The deputy was there in four or five minutes I would guess.  He just checked that there was an accident and called for backup; we had two more police cars before the fire department showed up.  They couldn't get the door open to free the driver either so they got out the 'jaws of life' and cut the entire roof off the car!  It had rained today so the ditch was filled with water.  The poor guy cutting the top off got pretty wet!   (Photo, btw, is from our daughter's cell phone.)



The whole process was quite interesting but for us not so neat as we were left standing around in the cold for well over half an hour watching while we could have been nice and warm at home.  All the deputies did for most of that time was to watch the firemen at work.  They did look over what remained of the car after the driver was off to the hospital.   In the end one of the deputies gave us 1 page witness forms to fill out then we were told we could go.  They could have done that much earlier!  Anyway, it certainly gave us something new to talk about.

I haven't been able to see any report on the condition of the driver.  She was taken away moaning on a back-board and one of the deputies said her injuries were minor but I can't find conformation of that.  (We could hear her from 50 or 60 feet (20m) away.)



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Beautiful places near home

I haven't been very inspired to blog lately but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about you all!  It's just been pretty dull around here.  However, on our walk last Saturday morning my wife had an idea.  We have always wanted to visit Mt. Charleston; why not make a day trip up there.  Cool idea!  We've heard it is beautiful but have never made the trip.  Why not!

Let me explain a bit of background.  The photo of the mountain on the blog header is Mt. Charleston.  It is like the 3rd or 4th highest mountain in the continental U.S. at almost 12,000 feet (3,600m).  It is the centerpiece of the Spring Mountain range that divides our valley from the Las Vegas valley.  The thing is that you can go across the range south of Mt. Charleston or you can go north; it's quite a trip either way.  We decided to drive north of Pahrump on highway 160 up to where it intersects US 95 then take US 95 south until we could head up highway 156 to the Mt. Charleston peak area.  That alone is a 2 hour trip.  Then we thought we'd take highway 158 south along the side of the mountain to the little town of Mt. Charleston then go east on highway 157 until it connected with US 95 about 10 miles south of where we had left it.  Basically, all it amounts to is a short scenic loop that takes you up to about the 8,500 foot (2,600m) level. 

All was good until we got onto highway 156 to go up the mountain.  Turns out there was a 'special event' Saturday; to wit, a bunch of bicycle riders going up the mountain then coming back down.  Of course it slowed us down but actually that was kind of an advantage as it gave us more time to enjoy the scenery while we weren't trying to avoid the cyclists.  We got up to the place where we needed to decide whether we wanted to visit the ski area (and all the cyclists) or just turn south.  We chose turning south.  The road was very nice with a fair number of turnouts for sightseeing and letting others go past. 

The whole loop was very scenic with the desert gradually giving way to actual trees.  Did I take my camera, hell, no!  The way I plan for these things, you'd might think me an idiot.  On the way back to US 95 we got to drive through a couple of campgrounds.  They seemed quite nice but were basically unimproved and I wouldn't want to take a big rig in some of them.  We saw a couple of 35 foot motorhomes in the Kyle Canyon area but there weren't any big trailers or fifth-wheels!  Nice area but not for us.  In addition, because of the weekend, it was packed. 

It was 13:00 by the time we made it to Las Vegas.  We spent a good 15 minutes looking for a special restaurant my wife wanted to visit; happily we had both the address and the suite number - they are gone.  Not even a glimmer of a restaurant.  So we went to a fast food joint!  The things you've gotta do when it's late and you are hungry.  Anyway, then it was just a quick trip home in plenty of time to feed the dog. 

Sunday was pretty quiet but then Monday and Tuesday I was laid low by vertigo.  I had an episode early in 2011 so it wasn't as frightening this time but it isn't fun.  Basically the only thing you can do is lie down and shut up until it goes away.  I had some drugs I was given for it back in 2011 so I took some of those to ease my recovery.  Anyway, by Wednesday I was back in the land of the living. 

So there are my last few days.  We had talked of going up to Zion or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon but decided there are things around here that we need to be doing.  After the vertigo episode, I'm sure glad we were here!  Hope you had some nice fall weather!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stuff & nonsense

We have been having a pretty quiet time lately.  Our big excitement over the weekend was a visit with blogger Ed and his dog Patches.  Ed has a medical appointment in Las Vegas on Wednesday and I volunteered to keep Patches while he is gone.  We thought we would get together ahead of time so Patches would have a chance to know me and my wife; not to mention our dog and cat.  As it turned out, everything is pretty cool.  Patches is really good with people; pretty good with the other dog and really amazed by the cat!  It was actually pretty funny.  Scotchie, the cat, is 17 and has been around a lot of dogs and he isn't taking any guff from them.  Patches would sneak up behind Scotchie and take a good sniff and Scotchie would turn around and whack Patches in the nose and Patches would run off.  LOL  Scotchie has no front claws so isn't going to do any harm but it sure surprised Patches.  So anyway we had lunch and everyone got to know everyone else.  Wednesday should be a piece of cake.

Late breaking news:  Ed is getting picked up for the trip to Vegas at 05:50 a.m.!  Hell, it will still be dark!  But I guess we'll live through the experience. 

I went over to pick up Ed and Patches in our truck which has hardly been out of the garage since we got home from San Diego.  Somehow it has developed a pull to the left and a shaking like something is out of round.  Took it down to a local tire place and sure enough, there is a bulge in the tread of the right front tire.  We had one tire grow a bulge in the sidewall on our trip to Washington in 2011 (approx. 20k miles); we had another grow a bulge in the tread while in San Diego (30k miles); and now at least one of the remaining tires has a bulge.  Hmmm.  I guess I can't really recommend the Continental tires that Ford put on the truck!  I think we'll just have the local guy replace both front tires (the old ones) with another brand.  We could chase around getting warranty work from Continental but that entails a trip to Las Vegas plus tying us to them for any future problems.  I think having a guy right here is the way to go.  The Continentals have been replaced under warranty pro-rated for the service we've received but that is still $120 + tax; new tires will probably run me $220 each but they won't carry the Continental name and if I have a problem the seller is about 4 miles away.

We are finally in our few moments of fall-like weather.  That means mid 90F days (35C) and mid 60F (18C) at night.  It's a big improvement over summer.  Of course it means other things:  Walmart has their Christmas stuff out!  The rest of the stores are focusing on shorter-term goals like Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Maybe it makes me sound old and grumpy but I think I prefer waiting just a bit longer for the attack of the Christmas sale. Ok, so I'm old and grumpy; but you knew that already!

Have a good one anyway!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Collapse!

I have been reading blogs lately whose writers are anticapating some sort of incredible collapse of our society - soon!  I disagree but I am in sympathy with them.  Our society is clearly in trouble; and not just ours but seemingly the entire world.  Let's see what sort of collapses I can find.

1.  The economic state of the U.S. - Public Debt is just crazy, the economy in general is dull at best.
2.  The euro - bailing out the poor countries will be awful; kicking them out ditto.
3.  Islamic unrest - is it out of control?  How does a primarily Christian country like the U.S. but believing in a separation of church and state respond to a religous war? 
4.  Will terrorists start sneaking serious bombs into our country?
5.  Is there a threat from China?  Clearly they make everything we use, buy all our debt, are establishing a huge military presence, may have the abliity to undermine our infrastructure.
6.  Our infrastructure is dying on the vine anyway since our country isn't investing in it at all.  And basic scientific research is dying without investment - if you don't think that is important you are sadly mistaken.


Of course I've not mentioned the things I don't think are dangers (and why) - like:

1.  Whether or not Mr. Obama was born in the U.S. (It's a done deal folks!)
2.  Increased gun control. (Against - I like guns AND the Constitution; read the 2nd amendment.)
3.  Immigrants. (This is the melting pot, let them in.  Legalize them!  In a generation, we'll all be better for them.  No one is complaining about the Irish any more.)
4.  Paying for abortions via Medicare. (Would you rather support the kids on welfare?  How about paying for orphanages?)
5.  The decline of morality.  (This does bother me but I don't see it as a danger as long as we don't try to impose any specific definition of morality on our society.)
6.  Religion in general.  (Read the damn Constitution!  Whatever you believe, as long as you keep it reasonably to yourself, go ahead.  Yes, even Scientologists, Islamics and athiests.)

Have I ever been wrong?  Of course!  All the time!  But really folks, I don't think the sky isn't falling any more than usual.  And even if it were, no one gets out of this life alive anyway.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Another Vegas trip

We wandered into Las Vegas again yesterday on a kind of different mission:  my wife and daughter wanted to go see the musical Wicked at the Smith Center.  I went along just for some quiet time in Las Vegas.  We left about 15:00 for a 17:00 reservation at a restaurant named Mundo which is near the theater in the World Market Center

They bill themselves as a Latin chic restaurant; it was fine.  We only had appetizers and drinks.  While the drinks were good and fairly inexpensive, the appetizers were quite unusual and in the $12-15 range.  For example, ahi tuna on a tostada - my wife loves ahi so she had to try it and I even had a bit.  It was surprisingly good though certainly different!  (I should have tried taking photos of the food but I'm usually too hungry; at least that's my excuse.)  I'm sure quite a lot of their evening business comes from the Smith Center crowd since it is so very convenient.  There are city and county buildings in the area that probably contribute to the lunch crowd not to mention other businesses in the World Market Center. (Ok, the name is pretty presumptuous but the building is quite interesting.  Maybe the 'Our Little Glitzy Corner of the Desert Design Center' wouldn't have the same ring!)

Anyway, while the ladies whiled away two & three quarters hours seeing the show, I took off and ran around the city just checking a few things out.  For example, wandering around in Frys isn't as much with my wife along; she is too practical!  I can look at these weird things and dream about doing outrageous stuff.  It was certainly more fun for me than going to the show!  Cheaper too!  I guess they liked the show and thought the cast talented but thought it rather long.  They also thought they might need crampons to reach their seats! 

In the end we made it home by midnight.  Reason enough for us not to do this too often!  However it was only about 65F (18C) so we could open the windows and cool the house off.  Very nice for sleeping!  Today we are recovering from the long day and working on those leftovers I have been whining about.  We need to take it easy on creating them in the future; this eating the same thing for a week is getting tiresome.  

Enough whining.  Have a good one!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 again

I doubt if there are many in the Western world who don't remember 9/11; where they were, what they were doing.  My smartphone tells me it is Patriot Day.  Well, I don't mean to be a grouch but who really needed a named day?  And what the hell does it have to do with patriotism?  Tragedy Day; Terrorism Day; those mean something but Patriot Day?  The soldier who gets killed today in Afghanistan is a patriot.  The people killed in the terrorist attacks were mostly victims; the first responders might be called heroes; but I just don't care for the term Patriot Day. 

Ok, rant is over.  My wife and I are self-described weird people.  Take our eating habits for example.  We will start out a week with the fridge almost empty then we cook several days in a row and then darned thing is stuffed with leftovers.  Does anyone else do that?  For example, right now we have a big tub of ham & bean soup; another of a beef & barley stew; several pieces of leftover steak; some leftover salmon; leftover taco filling and more!  There is enough food for a dozen people; no wonder I'm overweight.  One thing we are both proud of is that we don't eat a lot of processed stuff.  No Hamburger Helper in our cupboard though we do have at least 30 different spices.  We might cook up some noodles and put hamburger in with them but it won't be out of a box. 

Of course that isn't our only weirdness.  Take vehicles; we keep them quite a while. It's not a contest or anything; I don't like unreliable vehicles but we keep them and take care of them.  Our last truck stayed with us for 9 years; the car 15 years; the one before that 10 years.  We are having a party in December; we'll be paying off the RAV4 after three years.  (Toyota was offering 0% interest & I just couldn't say 'no'.)  That means we'll have 6 to 10 years without a car payment.  That makes life a lot nicer!  The truck is an 08 model, nearly five years old, paid for, but it's only got 30,000 miles (48,000 km).  We are planning on keeping it for quite a while too.  What do we care if it's old? 

Being atheists marks us as weird too.  I doubt if I could get elected dog catcher in this country; much less in this town.  We have a church around every corner and at least two church related schools.  (Oddly, there is  no Catholic school here though there is a fairly large church; the fundamentalist sects are the ones with schools.)   It must be a reflection of my age and upbringing that I am unfamiliar with churches like The Rock Vineyard Church or The Foursquare Faith Fellowship or the Heritage Bible Church.  I'm more used to the couple different kinds of Lutheran or Baptist Churches. 

Speaking of religion; I came across an article on Thomas Jefferson and his religious beliefs.  Apparently he didn't care for the entire bible so he selected the parts he liked and physically made up his own version.  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/multimedia/videos/A-Brief-History-of-the-Jefferson-Bible.html  For me it is an astonishingly thoughtful and ambitious undertaking.  Apparently he was a person who took his religion seriously.

On that odd note I will leave you.  Have a good one.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gardening

I was doing a little gardening yesterday.  Well, it was actually weeding.  Well, one weed anyway.  It was a pretty little thing.
 Unfortunately look at the spikes on that stem!  They were sharp too.
Boy I wish I could get things we want to grow to have protection like that!  You will note that my tool of choice was a pair of pliers, gloves would have been totally useless.

My wife and daughter are planning a short trip to Ensenada, Mexico next month.  They will only be gone a few days so I get to hold down the fort alone.  It's always weird when one of us is gone.  I should be able to stay out of trouble; whether the wife and daughter will is more of a question!  Two years ago they took a cruise on the Mexican Riviera and really liked Ensenada.  This time they will get to see more of the city.  I'm already really happy that I'm not going.  The thought of three days with our manic daughter is enough to drive me to drink.

The folks over at Because We Can are visiting Europe again.  It is making me want to go back; I miss it.  They took a guided tour of Normandy which actually sounded like quite a lot of fun.  We visited on our own  back in 1993.  Good lord, almost 20 years ago! 
I guess Mont Saint-Michel doesn't change that much!  I remember we were walking past a bar and heard the unmistakable scream of a Formula One race car.  We went in and asked the bartender about the race.  Alain Prost wasn't winning so he was bummed out.  The beer was good though.

Have a good one.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Election in Quebec???

Ok, I know the US is insular but this is carrying things too far!  There was an election in Quebec and the new P.M. is a separatist.  The Las Vegas Review Journal had not a word about the election; even though there was even a shooting involved!  Grrrr!  (Some nut came into the hall where she was speaking and managed to kill someone while missing the new P.M. entirely.)  The point for me is that Canada is an important part of the world and we don't have any knowledge of what's going on there.  Jeez!   The way I heard of the whole election/shooting was via my smartphone.  I think it is just sad that our traditional news media has become so isolated. 

Someone sent me an email the other day suggesting I watch a documentary on our local Fox affiliate on President Obama.  Are you kidding me?  What possible credence would Murdoch's right wing empire have with any normal thinking human being when talking about a fairly centralist candidate?  Oh, but I forgot, thinking is a very old fashioned virtue and isn't much done any more.  It certainly isn't allowed on television!  Every time I catch myself watching a show on Fox is pisses me off knowing I'm funding his empire. 

In an attempt to lower my blood pressure, I'm going to change the subject!  I am looking forward to the new vans that Ford and Dodge are supposed to be introducing.  I've always liked the look of the Transit van and some of the Fiat vans are pretty good looking as well and should be pretty cheap to run.  They all come from places where $5 a gallon fuel is the rule rather than a political scare tactic.  They should give the Mercedes Sprinter a run for it's money.  I don't see the traditional U.S. pickup being abandoned even though they do get awful mileage; they are kind of like cowboy boots, a tradition.  Besides, I've never seen a viable substitute.

Speaking of vans and trucks reminds me that we haven't traveled anywhere lately.  I'm not sure what's next.  There are lots of places in California that we want to visit that aren't far:  Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, the wine country, the list goes on and on.  However, most likely it will be another run to San Diego but after the new year.   Dull, that's me.

Have a good one!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Lots of fun stuff.....

Thursday I took the F-250 over to the Ford dealer in Las Vegas for a service.  This is a 30K mile service so they do extra stuff - sale price is $500+.  This would be a reason not to buy a diesel!  However, pulling those mountains out here in the West is a reason TO buy one.  Decisions, decisions; well, the truck needed the service.  Took it in and was told that they couldn't really give me an estimate of when it would be done!  WTF?  Well, but it would be today.  Then the guy offered me a 'loaner'; a rental car from an Enterprise agency that was right on the property.  They would pay the fee and all I would have to pay would be the gas used and the taxes.  Weird but I jumped on it.  It meant I got to have lunch, check out some of Las Vegas and not be bored silly sitting in the showroom.  It was a great deal all around!  I arrived around 10:00 and decided to return to the dealership about 15:30 - the truck was done and it was pretty painless.  It cost me an extra $10 for the car but that was a heck of a deal! 

There was a very interesting (to me) article on Yahoo talking about the fact that Ford has decided to stop building the Econoline van series - the E-150, E250 & E-350's are gonners.  They are going to be bringing over vehicles that have been built in Europe (and perhaps other places) for at least 15 years.  The new vans will be taller, thinner and powered by more efficient engines both gas and diesel.  Van people know that an E-250 will be lucky to get 15 mpg; a Sprinter (by Mercedes) will do 22 mpg.  In Europe Ford has vans like the Sprinter but they haven't bothered to bring them/build them here.  The article suggested there might be some level of collusion to keep the status-quo but it's unlikely anyone will ever prove anything.  Still, better vans are something we need in this country.


We did make yet ANOTHER trip to Vegas on Friday.   My mom was the last of nine kids so I have a few cousins on her side.  There is a family get together back in Missouri that we are going to miss this year but one of the cousins was coming out here visiting friends so we had to get together.  We met at a Red Lobster restaurant; had a meal and a nice talk.  I met this guy maybe once or twice when I was a kid then didn't see him until I was over 60.  Not a close relationship (!) but I don't seem to have much trouble re-connecting with my cousins.  It was a nice visit but short.  (As an aside, I haven't been in a Red Lobster for probably 25 years.  They have changed and have food that is much healthier than way back then.  I'd definitely go back.)


So now we've had a couple quiet days.  Hanging around Pahrump isn't too exciting at the best of times.  We went out to breakfast yesterday; went out to lunch today.  We manage our usual couple of mile walk most days.  It's definitely low key stuff.  I've got to admit that we are planning yet another visit to Vegas.  We are cheese addicts and the local stores just don't have the stuff we crave.  I don't blame them; they probably wouldn't sell five pounds (10kg) of gouda a month not to mention some of the more common French and German cheeses.

My wife got the itch to clean our bookshelves; now there is a nasty job!  I'm guessing we have in excess of 300 linear feet of books (100 m); taking the book down, dusting it, dusting the shelf and putting it back is a giant pain in the whateverfloatsyourboat.  But trust me, it isn't fun.  It does need doing from time to time though so I'm slaving away beside her.  If there was ever a reason to have electronic copies of books, this is it!  My problem is that I'm a mystery fan.  Not just any mysteries, most of the books I have are copyrighted before 1960.  There aren't electronic versions; not to mention who would buy the electronic version if it were available.  I'll buy some new electronic books and read them on my pc but they will be few and far between.  I don't really care much for modern writers so I'll continue to haunt the used book stores.  Hope to see you there.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Not a good day

We wandered over to the Toyota dealer yesterday to have an oil change.  The local EZ-Lube or whatever does it in about 15 minutes.  The dealer managed to stretch it out to over 2.5 hours!!!  Needless to say, we were under-whelmed.  I must say the Service Director did give us basically a full refund.  Still, my bride was pretty darned hungry by the time we got to eat.  We also got to deal with a fouled up prescription so by the time we got home about 16:30 we'd been gone all day and had darned little to show for it.  We didn't even get close to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts as we had hoped.  Oh well, I guess it isn't going anyplace.

I've been staying as far away from coverage of the Republican National Convention as possible.  Mr. Romney is now the official candidate and I actually rather respect him.  The medical insurance scheme he came up with while Massachusetts governor was pretty clever.  And since he was a Republican there was no use of the 'socialist' term at all.  I'm a little worried that the remainder of the party may pull him to the right and he'll end up like that idiot from Missouri who talked about 'legitimate rape'.  Mr. Romney has already proven on his swing through Europe and the Middle East that his brain isn't always engaged while his mouth is in action.  I'm not so certain about Mr. Ryan who is to be the VP candidate.  He wrote a Republican version of the budget that I thought pandered to the naivety of  the 'tea party'.  His own legislative background is slight; but since Mr. Obama's is pretty slight as well maybe that is the new 'normal'.

I don't tend to watch a lot of television but do end up watching more than I should!   Last night I found a show called "Hard Time" on National Geographic Channel.  I guess it's been on for several years but I only just found it.  I do recommend it if you want to see a very strange side to life.  The particular episode I watched followed some inmates at Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, Ohio.  It was very touching how these guys became institutionalized and were soon close to unfit for life on the outside.  One guy was 16 when he was involved with a murder (didn't actually do it, just tried to cover it up); now he is 27 and has been paroled.  He was clearly worried that he wasn't going to be able to make it on the outside.  A guard takes him outside the gate and stands around in the snow with him while they wait for someone who is coming to pick him up.  He says something like "So I'm free.  I could just walk down the road?"  He has never driven a car.  He has never slept with a woman.  He has never held a real job.  He has tattoos all over; on the back of his neck, his throat, his skull.  The show made it clear that even in a prison where they were really trying to give inmates a chance to learn; the inmate had to motivate himself and some of them, like this guy, didn't care at all.  I was almost surprised he didn't get into some kind of trouble so his parole would be revoked.  It was an amazing view of life.

Here's to living life on the outside.  Makes the idiots at the Toyota garage seem endearing; almost!  Have a good one.