Saturday, July 27, 2013

Another interesting day...

And you know about the ancient curse of 'May you live in interesting times'. 

The day started with a grumble when I went out and tried to start the truck.  No go.  That truck has so much crap stuffed under the hood that I really try NOT to look under there.  Apparently that isn't such a good idea.  Because it is a diesel it needs lots of starting power but for some reason Ford didn't want to put a regular extra large battery under there so they put in two regular sized batteries.  You've gotta wonder where they get these ideas.  Anyway the negative posts on each battery was extremely corroded.  That was bad but the connector on the battery cable is the dumbest thing I've ever seen.  It is part steel with maybe a copper coating and has all kinds of nooks and crannies for corrosion to hide.  Cleaning the (*%%$( things took me at least an hour.  An hour we didn't have because we had stuff to do. 

My wife had her mamogram this morning and I drove her because we wanted to squeeze in some breakfast before a meeting with the Senior Dimensions people scheduled for 10:00.  They managed to convince me that I ought to sign with them so I'm looking into all kinds of fun with them.  So we made it home in time for lunch.  After lunch I got the charger out and charged the batteries for a while.  I ASSUMED that if I unhooked the negative lead from the battery it would be isolated and could be charged.  Turns out that was wrong; when I hooked the charged to the second battery it was already fully charged.  Grrrr!  I'm an idiot.  I managed to start the truck though and apparently no harm was done.  All the same, I should have checked either in the owner's manual or online or somewhere!  It was a fine case of idiocy.

Happily I've sat in my chair and fooled with the computer the rest of the day so I have been saved from further embarrassment.  We keep talking about travelling in our trailer and one of the things I do not like is some of the high passes and narrow roads you find in the mountains.  We saw a mention of a book that specifies several hundred passes:  how high they are, how steep the grades are, etc.  They have one version for the eastern states & one for the west.  It sounded like something we would really like as a reference.  It is called the Mountain Directory and that link will take you to their site.  It is $17 for the paper version and $18 for the Windows version - no version for mobile devices, iPads, Kindles, etc.  I downloaded the electronic version and I think it's pretty neat.  Not perfect but pretty good.  The big problem is that it was published in 2006 so it's slightly out of date.  The funny thing is that I went out to Amazon looking for it and they want $250 for it!!!!  I've no idea what the deal is but they were even offering used versions for $40?  Weird!  Heck, the electronic version will be more convenient for most people anyway. 

I promised a couple photos of the sunrise we enjoy while walking early in the morning.  So here we go:  The first one is looking towards the east; just before the sun climbs over the mountain.
 The second is the mountains in the west that are gradually being lit up by the sun.  You will notice that the valley floor is pretty flat and uninteresting.  Even the houses aren't always too cool looking but the mountains fill your soul.  Or at least my soul.

So that was my interesting day.  Hope you had a good one too.  Thanks for looking in.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Yep, it is almost time for me to make all those Medicare decisions.  Ugh!  Oddly thinking of Medicare is making me feel older than thinking about the actual birthday.  Maybe it is because I've had so much experience having birthdays!  To be truthful, the Medicare part isn't so bad but figuring out the add-ons is a giant pain in the you know where.  Of course it is made worse by the fact that we live 'over the hump'.  In a city like Las Vegas there are lots of choices.  Here, not so much. 

Here we get to choose between Humana and something called Senior Dimensions.  (Why they would name their company something so close to Senior Dementia is beyond me!)  Humana is called a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO); Senior Dimensions (SD) calls itself an HMO-POS.  In the HMO you go to doctors in their company; the POS is supposed to let you visit doctors outside the plan at additional cost.

Humana is a bit more expensive than SD but they are accepted by the doctors I've been seeing for the five years we've lived here.  With SD I'd be saving some money but would be seeing new people.  I seldom visit the doctor so maybe it's no big deal.  We also need to figure out what goes on when we travel; either in the U.S. or overseas.  Reading all the fine print is just else something to get aggravated about.  Glad I don't have blood pressure problems!

Aside from all that, we are continuing on our nice warm summer.  Most days it is around 105F (40C) and doesn't cool off enough to open the house at night.  We take our daily walk at 06:00 to avoid most of the heat.  The mountains are pretty then; all gold from the rising sun.  I thought I'd taken photos of the sunrise but apparently not!  Maybe tomorrow. 

I signed up for this free site, Duolingo, which attempts to teach English speakers various European languages and vice versa.  It was invented by the guy who came up with those little squiggly words you have to type for leaving comments, etc.  The site is kind of fun but between my atrocious typing and my spelling (which isn't good in English!) it's going to be slow going!  I'd love to be able to speak and understand a couple other languages even at the level of a three year old. 

That's all the whining you'll hear from me today.  Thanks for checking in.  Hope you have a good one.

Monday, July 22, 2013

An open letter to President Obama:

Dear Mr. President:

Someone famously said if you want to tell a story you should start at the beginning, carry on until the end and then stop.  I guess the beginning of my story about you is when you made that magnificent speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention.  It was obvious then that we the people would be hearing a lot more from you.  That was indeed a magical moment.  I'm sure everyone who heard it was impressed.  In 2008 I voted for you hoping that you would bring us some relief from the crazy cowboy foreign policies of George W. Bush.  You started off really well but you must admit we still aren't minding our own business very well.  How many thousands of dead and wounded military personnel have we suffered since you took office?  It's a big number.  In 2012 I voted for you again; unfortunately this time it was because I was voting against the other idiot; yes the OTHER idiot.  Your Presidency was already a disappointment.

That is really the theme of my letter:  disappointment.  You have so many gifts:  you can deliver a speech as from the Gods; you are obviously extremely intelligent; I shouldn't even bother to mention your physical good looks, your beautiful family and all that.  I do wish you had bothered to serve in our military forces.  It isn't so much the 'patriotism'; it is that one learns so much from giving to your country in that manner.  It's not easy to explain to one who hasn't served but offering to go and do whatever you are told whenever you are told is both complete freedom and the most complete servitude one can imagine.  I served during the Vietnam era but did not go to Vietnam.  Frankly I think you would be a better President had you served earlier in your life.  You would find that the oath of office is quite similiar. 

You have only three more years to 'make your mark'.  I would suggest giving up on perfection and settling for 'good enough'.  The end of your story is not here yet.  There is actually a chance to change the tax code.  Some sort of immigration reform is possible.  There is a chance to keep at least parts of 'Obamacare'.  There is a chance to get MOST of our troops home.  You can do these things.  Your country needs these things.  Give it a shot!  Don't be a pedantic supercilious professor of law.  The President of the United States is a politician.  Give some; get some; and make your Presidency a success.  LBJ is the guy who got the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed; not JFK.  And if you don't think LBJ was a politician and a pretty good President; well, maybe I'm writing to the wrong guy.

Good luck Mr. President.  It would be really wonderful to remember you as a great President rather than just a great speaker.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Goodbye Fire!

It looks like the Carpenter Canyon Fire is much under control.  The folks on this side of the mountain have been allowed to go back to their homes.  The other side is where the action is right now but the firefighters are confident of success.   Thank goodness!  And I don't believe anyone was seriously injured fighting it.

My wife and I went out to dinner the other night.  As we were leaving the parking lot we saw a bunch of tents and trailers over in the park.  I pulled the car over to see what was happening; it usually means some sort of circus or rodeo is in town.  Well, a deputy sheriff pulled in right behind us!  WTF, well, turns out all that stuff was for the fire crews and the park was off-limits for the rest of us.  LOL  I haven't been parking with a woman and questioned by the cops in centuries!  Made me glad I'd only had one beer with dinner too!

Since we haven't done any traveling yet this summer and won't be leaving this country,  I've been getting my Europe fix by watching Le Tour de France.  The scenery is simply fantastic - and the cycling!  Those guys are at a level of fitness that I really can't believe.  Riding 100 miles or more a day for three weeks?  Amazing.   The Tour is the only cycling event that I follow; sports aren't really an interest but this stuff is pretty impressive.

The birds are still hanging around waiting to be fed.  The only birds that show up in the birdbath are pigeons but I guess they are birds too.  The hummer keeps his ownership of the feeder chasing anyone else off.

We've been doing a lot of cooking on the bbq but I seem unable to take photos of the event.  It is warm to be out there but it's better than heating up the house.  I've done chicken twice, steak, salmon twice and that is just in the last week.  The meat and a salad is our usual fare.  It's pretty low on carbs for my wife and if I'm famished I can always nuke a baking potato.

After dinner we often go out and enjoy the sunset.    You know I don't have any trouble remembering the camera for a sunset!

Well, gotta go do something even if it is wrong.  Have a good one!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Duh, more fire news

The fire on Mt. Charleston is still the big deal for us.  Now we are talking about 25,000 acres (10,000+ ha) burned and 1,100 firefighters on the job.  Big numbers; but here is what it looks like from Las Vegas. 
This photo was taken near the Red Rock Canyon just west of Las Vegas.  From our side it doesn't look like a big fire because the smoke is going north and east.  This makes it more real for me.  There have been a few comercial buildings burned down but no homes so far.  Lots of people have been evacuated from their homes of course.

The weather isn't doing much to help the firefighters but there might be some moisture in the next few days.  I sure hope they get lots of rain & no more lightning!  Having the temp go from 107F to 96F (41+C to 35+C) will probably help the firefighters too.

 While in Las Vegas we looked at range hoods at Lowes.  We have a microwave/range hood now but it has problems:  1) the fan isn't strong enough and 2) it gets really dirty and is a giant pain to clean.  You need a screwdriver to take it apart and still can't get into all the little nooks and crannies.  We wanted to look at something other than what our local Home Depot has in stock.  Lowes didn't do a lot for us; nothing in stock but a nice $700 (!) one in their catalog.  Jeez!  I'm not sure I'm up for all that!

Meanwhile, rather than actually exercising, I'm watching the Tour de France.  Those guys are really amazing.  Of course it doesn't hurt that I'm watching the stage that ends at Mont St. Michel!  What a fantastic site for the race.  I've got to say I'd like to be watching it in person.  Maybe next year.... 

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Just two things....

First the fire was reported at over 22 square miles this a.m. - that's a lotta cotton!  We are getting firefighters from all over but the area being burned is extremely difficult terrain; way beyond anything that can be reached by road.  If they get enough aircraft in that might help.  Otherwise, who knows! 

Second, I've heard a lot about people being injured or even dying from the excessive heat.  It's true, many of us don't drink enough water.  We never drive 'off-road' but we carry water in both our vehicles.  When we were in Death Valley last I found this really neat chart in the men's room.

It's not the greatest photo, sorry cellphone alert, but when it's mounted over the urinal; well, it gets your immediate attention.  You don't have that much else to be doing.  This heat is pretty intense; I'm starting to think nicely about fall!  Yeah, I know, I'm fickle. 

Anyway, hope you have a good one.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Short blog

Just a couple of things I need to report.  One is that I mis-stated the distance to the fire; my photos were when the fire was on this side of the mountains and it was only about 15 miles (24km) away rather than the 30 I stated.  The other BIG thing is that the paper is now saying the fire has covered 9.000 acres(3,600ha)!  OMG, that's a big chunk of land. The fire is now on the eastern side of the mountains so no longer visible to us.  It is also the more populated side so will probably get put out more quickly; there is lots more political pull over there! LOL A photo from our morning walk (sorry about the finger in the upper left hand corner).

I had a mild episode of vertigo this a.m. but since I have my magic pills from our trip to Florida it wasn't really a problem.  It is weird though.  I'm sitting here looking at my email and suddenly can't read anything.  Then it is all I can do to crawl over to the couch and lie down.  Being stationary does the trick and now I can see again.  Weird shit!

Gotta go.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a good one.  Take care.

Friday, July 05, 2013


The fire that started out as a lightning strike on Monday night has now burned about 2,000 acres (800 ha) and is zero percent contained.  NOT a good situation.  Here is a link to the Vegas Review Journal.  There is talk of moving it up to a Type I fire which means the firefighters have more equipment, personnel, etc.  So far there hasn't been any loss of life or any homes destroyed but there are people who live up there so something needs to be done soon.  So far all that has been done is to tell the people to leave their homes.  Here's hoping the new fire teams can put this thing out.

Last night the fire was even more visible from out house than before.  Apparently the fire was moving up a ridge and got to a place visible to us.

We had a quiet day yesterday.  About 21:00 I was listening to some music and started hearing this irregular beat so had to go investigate.  Turns out, of course, it was the town fireworks display for the Fourth of July.  Wow, my head was so far away from that!  We viewed the display from our front porch; it was quite nice.  We were having a lightning storm with a tiny amount of rain at the same time so standing out in the yard didn't sound all that great!  The rain wasn't enough to even leave a puddle so it's not likely to wash us away. 

Here's to having a quiet weekend and much less wildfire! 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Almost over....

The forecast is for the heatwave to subside somewhat here in the next couple of days.  We will then be back to a more normal 105F (40C) or so.  On the other hand we have that visitor no one wants:  fire.  There is a lightning started fire burning up in Carpenter Canyon on Mt. Charleston.  Carpenter Canyon is a bit south of Pahrump but we can see the fire from our house.  It is south and west of the peak of Mt. Charleston.  Here is a photo I took last night; remember this is probably 30 miles away!
I really feel for the poor guys fighting the fire; it's got to be pretty close to 100F (37C) even at that altitude and they are wearing all that gear.  Just wearing all that stuff in heat like that has to be a challange and then to be clearing brush or trying to pump water from a truck!  That's a lot like tough work.

Here is another photo showing the smoke from the fire though it does look much like a cloud.  This was taken on our walk this a.m. with my cell phone. 

We wre in one of our local stores yesterday buying a gift for our daughter's birthday and the owner wished us a Happy 4th of July and mentioned it was the 237th birthday of our nation.  Ok, I love my country but who the hell keeps track of stuff like that?  Not me!  I prefer taking my regular bags of groceries over to the VFW food bank for vets who are having a tough time.  It seems more important to me somehow. 

We don't have much planned for today.  We bought a couple steaks to throw on the barbie tonight and we'll find a bottle of cabernet to go with them.  Maybe we'll be awake for the fireworks at the city park and maybe not.  Anyway, hope all you U.S. citizens are having a good holiday and all the rest of you are having a good day.  Take care!