Sunday, January 27, 2013


Yep, in common with most of the Southwestern part of the U.S. we have been getting some rain.  We are supposed to average 4" (10 cm) a year and we've probably had around .5" (1 cm) in the last four days.  It doesn't sound like a lot but it turns the desert into a giant mud-hole.  So we've been walking on the local streets.  We don't have sidewalks but fortunately we don't have much in the way of traffic either.  Walking two miles we will probably see two or three cars.  That works for us; the only downside is that it is a bit tougher on the feet to walk on the asphalt.  Our daily highs have been in the 60F (15C) area so we can’t complain about that. 
 I took the above while driving into town.  That is just where the mountain is supposed to be!  We just don't get views like this very often.  As you can see, I was a bad driver and pulled over into the turn lane to take this photo.  Of course, there wasn't a lot of competition for the lane so I didn't feel too bad.

Here is a cloud bank that is covering the valley.  This particular mountain isn't one of the taller ones but it was big enough to peer out over the clouds.  And, yes, that is blue sky over the mountain.

I’ve been working on building a bat house to encourage bats to stay around here and munch down some insects.  We don’t have a lot of insects but generally I think fewer is better!  I’m making the house from some rough cedar fencing.  The little guys need some way to hang while they sleep and I’m hoping the rough surface will be just the ticket.  I haven’t decided how high to suspend the house; the instructions say to put it  really high but they may have to compromise some on that since I don’t like ladders all that much.  We’ll see.  I’m trying to keep the thing as ‘natural’ as possible so there won’t be any weird smells, etc. to scare the bats off.  Next summer should tell the tail.

I spoke of building a little bed in the back of the pickup so we could spend an occasional night off in Death Valley or somewhere.  I’m still working on a design so haven’t gotten anywhere with the idea.  Right now I’m thinking of a bed that will fold in half lengthwise so we won’t lose too much cargo space.  When we want bed we just unfold it, blow up an air mattress and toss out the sleeping bags.  There should be plenty of room under the bed for camping supplies, a stove, etc.  I’m not sure about a porta-potty; we’ll cross that problem when we come to it.  Of course the design isn’t wife-approved yet so if I end up building something completely different; that’s what happened.

It is now two weeks since we had to take the dog to be put down.  Things are getting back to a new normal.  We went in to Las Vegas the other day and were a bit late getting home.  No worries now!  The cat just sleeps most of the time anyway and if he gets beyond eating cat food and hitting the litter box; well, that’s another problem.  He does get frightened in the night a few times almost every night.  He will start howling as loud as he can then quits after four or five howls only to repeat the performance a couple hours later.  We are actually getting used to it.  It’s like living next to the train tracks; eventually you sleep right through the passing train sounds.

Well, gotta go.  Have a good one.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Getting on...

We are still getting used to the new normal of no dog.  It will be a long while before one of the other of us goes a week without thinking we see or hear her but it will happen.  In the mean time we just need to get over it.  We got her almost twelve years ago and were separated from her for a total of 16 days in that time.  When we had her put down there was absolutely nothing wrong with her aside from the mess that was her cancer.  However.....

I was reading RandomRoger (famous financial blogger) a few weeks ago and he pointed out that there are a LOT of funds and ETFs that mimic the SPY ETF; which is supposed to mimic the S&P 500.  Since I read that I've been trying to find funds that will give us diversification while keeping charges low.  The problem is the HUGE universe of products almost generates an inability to make a choice.  I've read of this condition but now it's got me.  In the end, I know what I'll do.  I'll go for large products and just go along for the ride.  We certainly won't get famous or particularly rich but we'll do ok.

We have decided on a new way to spend money; well, new to us!  Viking River Cruises have been sending my wife their brochures for some time.  Right now they are giving 'special' rates if you book a 2014 cruise now.  We just couldn't say 'no'.  It is weak of us I know but what are you going to do?  Take it with you?  We have signed up for a China river cruise that includes flying around to some sites that aren't on the river.  It is one of those drag you around by the hand things where you are either on one of their ships, one of their planes or in one of their buses.  It is going to be really weird but we are both intimidated by not knowing the language or even the script.  We don't go for over a year but are already getting excited.  It will be the first time we've been out of the country since 2000.  Amazing!

Somehow I managed to watch much of President Obama's inauguration.  I thought it was ok as such things go; the poem that was written for the occasion seemed longer than the President's speech!  It will be interesting to see what he does with a second term.  His first seems to have polarized the country even more than it was before.  I'm afraid he isn't a man who learns cooperation easily and the Republican party seems pretty divided so I'm not so sure anything much is going to happen.  I hope he doesn't take the back door approach to things and start proclaiming Presidential Privilege all over the place.  That crap will stick us in the ass.  The Constitution did a great job of defining three parts of our government; having some fool try to jimmy the definitions on the fly for his own ends is not good for any of us. 

Have a good one.  I'm going to work on it too!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Getting used to the new normal

No, I'm not talking about some idiots view of the economy but rather life without our companion of the last, almost, 12 years.  Well, it won't be easy but we'll get there.  My wife thinks she hears the dog every now and then.  I'm not quite there but I am looking for her in all her old places.  I keep forgetting to feed the cat too because the dog isn't here going 'where is my food!'.  Happily the cat self-feeds so if I stock him up a bit it will keep him going for several days. We took our first walk out in the desert without the dog.  It was a little weird but....  We saw two jack rabbits; I was tempted to chase them for the dog but gave up on that thought.

We are getting our travel planning going for the next year.  We'll be in San Diego late next month then in the summer head north for Yellowstone and Glacier.  We are really looking forward to the summer trip.  There are some quiet, hopefully little used, roads heading up there & that will suit us just fine.  I love the Interstate system as much as anyone but when you aren't in a hurry it's fun to visit the backroads.  We haven't gotten so far in our planning that we have any idea of the time we'll be gone; could be three weeks or it could be six.  We'll cross that bridge later!

Short post today.  Maybe I'll have an actual idea tomorrow.  Take care!

Monday, January 14, 2013

RIP Sammie

Yesterday a.m. we woke as usual and I took Sammie out to do her thing.  When we returned my wife noted a small spot on her tee shirt.  By the time she lay down for her first treat of the day, it was bleeding.  When she got up, there was a puddle of blood a foot across.  Oh shit!  We bandaged her up as best we could but the emergency vet was in Las Vegas.  We went in to Vegas and had her put to sleep.  It was bad for us all but was the only solution. 

I'll be back later but until then RIP Samantha - D - Dog.  We love you!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quiet before the literal storm

We are having some quiet days but the forecast for the next few is cold with precip. possible and gusts to 50 mph (80 kph).  It makes staying home a lot more reasonable. 

Yesterday we put a bunch of fiberglass insulation up in the attic.  There are places were we had very little and didn't realize it.  I believe the house is warmer; we'll see what happens to the electric bill.  We have these two small openings to the attic, maybe 2 ft x 3 ft (.6m x .9m), and we have 10 foot (3m) ceilings.  You would have laughed at me trying to get up the ladder with a roll of insulation that would only just go through the opening.  For some reason the builder managed to put the ceiling openings right next to a doorway so it isn't possible to get the ladder in a good position.  I was crawling up the ladder holding on with one hand with my stomach right against it carrying the roll of insulation off to the side in my free hand.  It was pretty funny.  My wife rolled the stuff out while I fed it to her.  By the time we were done with just four rolls, we were both soaked with sweat and definitely in need of a shower!

We did take the dog to the local vet for some blood work.  The oncologist wanted to be sure she was accepting the pain meds. without any problem.  The blood work came back fine so her only problem is that she has this huge cancer on her chest that we can't do anything about.  Here is her photo from 12/28.
And the following is what it looked like yesterday.
The cancer is just growing like crazy.  She has been pretty good about leaving it alone but this morning we caught her licking at it.  NOT good, so now she is wearing an old tee shirt to keep her tongue off it.  This is not a good news story.

I've been trying to adjust some of our investments to keep my mind off the dog.  It is embarrassing how long it's been since I've done this.  Some investments are doing fine but too many of our mutual funds are in Morningstar's 2 Star category.  Gotta change them out or put up with below average yields.  There are just way too many choices but I'll get there.  Happily there are only half a dozen positions that are really crap.

Speaking of crap, the charger for my DROID phone died; how tough is it to make something that will last a couple years without breaking?  Especially since this isn't a terribly complex article.  Guess I should be thanking my lucky stars that it is the charger and not the phone.  Nah, I'm still torqued; not that anyone is going to care. 

Anyway, have a good one.  If you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you'll get there.  Good luck!

Thursday, January 03, 2013


After quite a while with no spam, all of a sudden I'm getting spam comments.  Grrr!  Oh well, if that's my biggest problem!  Like that's true. 

I've been keeping a food diary for the past week or ten days.  It's kind of interesting; well, to me anyway.  Doubt if anyone else would find it instructive.  I do find that I eat more restaurant food than I expected.  Part of this is because we seldom finish a restaurant meal so I have a leftover for the next day.  For example, if I have a buritto at our favorite Mexican joint and eat the whole thing, I'm so full that I roll out the door.  I find that if I eat half I feel full and still have the energy to do something other than take a nap.  Just for the fun of it I'm trying to estimate the number of calories; now that can get difficult!  I mean no one knows the calorie count in that buritto!  If it were a chain, like Taco Bell, you could get the information easily but not if you are going to El Jefe in Pahrump.

I heard some comment to the effect that since we don't use our checkbooks as much it should reduce the problem people have remembering the new year.  For me, it's the opposite.  Of course, I was having trouble figuring out how late in the year it was.  If you aren't accepting that it is November yet you are going to have a heck of a time with January.  Happily I don't have to remember the date too often.  Still, I want to make it a point to know the date.  When my mom was being tested for diamentia one of the questions asked was "What is the date?"  She didn't know.

I appreciate all the comments on how people organize their photos.  It sounds like there is no perfect system so I guess I'll just continue with the date and tag method.  Besides let's face the fact that most often no one in their right mind would want to see my photos.  If they are lost I won't be torturing anyone with them. Speaking of photos that could be lost, here is one of the really important ones!
You see, I could lose that and no one in the entire world would be the worse off!  G. Duboeuf of France is probably the only person who would care about this.  Beaujolais Nouveau, if you don't know, is a certain French wine that is released on November 18 of the year in which it is grown.  Almost all decent wines are stored for a while at least before release; not this guy!  And all the producers release their versions on the same day.  If anyone is interested this year's wine is pretty good but not great.  I remember a few years ago we bought a bottle on November 18 and it was so nice that I went back and bought an entire case.  I don't think we'll need to do that this year.  This is a photo I almost certainly will lose too since we didn't try the Beaujolais Nouveau until December so that's where I stored the photo. 

Well, I've blithered on long enough wasting all these electrons and the time of anyone who has gotten to this point.  Have a good one!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year!!

Here is to a great 2013 for one an all.  I hope your celebration was fun yet something that you remember!  And, of course, that you are feeling reasonably well this morning! 

My wife and I have always had a very quiet and private New Year celebration.  As usual we spent the evening talking.  Talking about how fortunate we are; trips we have made, trips we want to make, our hopes for the kids, our hopes for the world - yes, alcohol was involved but we did both see the New Year in.  In my family we always left Christmas decorations up until the new year; in my wife's family they took everything down on the 26th.  My wife very kindly agreed to do it my way so this was the last day for the decorations. 
Now we are ready for the new year.  I wish I could say the same for the total idiots we have elected and sent to Washington.  Jeez, what a bunch of (*&%%$##s!  Oh, don't get me started! 

We are hoping to travel up into Wyoming and Montana next summer and in talking about that discovered that we would both like to be able to take the truck and 'rough camp' a bit; leaving our trailer in a park and maybe going up that dirt road and staying for a day or two.  It will take a bit of modification to the bed of the truck but should be do-able.  We have a shell on the bed so all we are talking about is a sort of platform bed that will enable us to sleep on top of some of the stuff we need to carry.  I'll try to take photos of whatever happens.  If nothing else, it should be interesting.

Since it is a new year, I celebrated by getting up just before sunrise.  We had a nice one!
Though as the saying has it "Red sky at morning, sailor take warning."  Here's hoping it doesn't bode ill for 2013.  Have a good one everyone!