Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Time once more for:


Five Smile Inducing Events This Week

  • Running into a pair of Santa Clauses and having them ask me to join them. They are part of a local group of professional Santas who have started a charity called "Santas Of Sterling" to raise money for kids at Christmas. They said my beard was white enough, but I'd have to let it grow longer to be fully acceptable. In their expert opinion, my belly already jiggles appropriately. (The Santas serve as far away as New Hampshire during Holiday season. Our town might very well have the highest percentage of professional Santas of any town short of the North Pole. It is always interesting come November to hear where they are going to be serving [some are local only, some travel the U.S.]).
  • Watching the young lady who was smaller than her dog exhibit perfect control of said dog. I'd guess she was no more than 7 or 8, but she had that Great Dane wrapped around her little finger. When she said sit, it sat. When she said heel, it heeled. And when it sat, she and the dog were eye to eye.
  • Sharing the radio studio with some of the Fair/Rodeo Royalty as they came in to help publicize the County Fair that runs for the next week or two. Seems impossible to me that I was ever that young. {*grin*} I still have no good  answer to my question: Why are there so many barrel racers in the Queen and her court each year?
  • Watching the price of gas continue to fall. A drop of 10 cents in the last week or so here. Everything goes better when gas stays well below the $2.50/gallon mark.
  • The fact that it rained and has been refreshingly cool since Tuesday. If I didn't know better, I could believe that September was here already. I figure it will either be hot and miserable or rainy and cold next week when I have to man the EMS authority booth at the fair. Nothing like sitting out in the cold rain for 5 hours to make everything hurt.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Red Hot Summer Excitement

Time once again for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge. This week the prompts are:
1.) Who made you red hot this week?

2.) A day in your life...recap.
(inspired by Jennifer from Toddler Tirade)

3.) What decision are you having a hard time making?
(inspired by Evansmom from Just Sayin')

4.) How will you enjoy your last days of freedom (aka summer)?
(inspired by Heather from A Day In The Life)

5.)List your 7 most favorite summer items!
(inspired by Summer from Le Musings of Moi)

To which I respond:

#1 - No one. I tend not to get red hot. I always figure that it is not worth the wear and tear on me and my glucose control to get really mad. Besides, getting even is so much more rewarding. {*grin*} The few times in my life I have gotten really mad have resulted in people getting hurt, usually the ones I am mad at. So I am happy it happens so rarely that i do get mad.

#2 - I give you Tuesday:
5:45 - get up
6:00 - shave and shower and get ready
7:00 - do some e-mail
7:30 - grab a ride with the city manager and director of public works to Denver CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment) office
9:30 - arrive at the CDPHE offices in Denver
9:35 - have a cup of coffee
10:00 - begin meeting
12:00 - end meeting
12:15 - go to eat at Chili's with our water engineering firm (from meeting)
1:30 - start the drive back here
3:45 - arrive back here
4:00 - prepare notes for city council meeting tonight
4:45 - read paper and have supper
6:30 - head for city council meeting
7:00 - convene city council meeting
9:30 - adjourn city council meeting
9:35 - discuss misc. things in the parking lot
10:00 - call L in return of her call during the meeting (on the way home)
10:30 - get home and give the dog her chewie
11:00 - do some housework (like dishes, etc.)
11:30 - decide to wuss out on blog post for tonight
11:45 - make a few notes for the radio show in the morning
12:00 - go to bed
12:05 - realize I didn't check the mailbox, get up and go get the mail
12:10 - go to bed for real
6:00 - start all over again

#3 - The answer could be any of several things. One of the more interesting is whether to enter partisan politics. I am term limited out of being mayor come November. One of the things I have enjoyed about being mayor is that it is a non-partisan office (no political parties involved). But I have been approached by several people about running as a party candidate for a partisan office next November. If I am going to do it, I need to answer in the next few months. I believe I could and would win, so the question in my mind is do I want to badly enough to put up with partisan politics and party lines. So I continue to wage the internal debate with myself.  (And am I deluding myself in the belief I could win?)

#4 - About the same way I have enjoyed most of the summer. (I'm really more of a spring/fall kind of guy.) So that will include mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, harvesting the garden, and walking in the bright sunshine. This year I haven't been golfing at all for a combination of reasons. In a normal year I'd say I'd look forward to those hot days on the golf course where nothing hurts. Just not this year.

#5 - My favorite summer items are all versions of fresh grown produce. In no particular order, I give you
Melons - cantaloupe, honey dew, watermelon
Beans - fresh picked green  beans
Onions - fresh onions straight from the garden
Peppers - both red and green bell peppers
Squash - zucchini, acorn, butternut, etc.
Tomatoes - fresh picked.
I'm not a big tomato fan in general since I react badly to the acid in them. But a bit of tomato in a salad or on a sandwich cannot be beat. I like to stir fry chopped peppers, onions, zucchini, and sometimes even beans and potatoes. The rest are self explanatory.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Quicky

After a long day of meetings and travel, then a rather long city council meeting and a need to get some housework done, I don't have much to say right now. Since I have to be up in six hours, I'm just heading off to bed and leaving the post up to your imagination.  Feel free to picture me winning the lottery and other good things.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh What Fun!

Today was one of those days when I got good and bad phone calls.

I needed to go to the accountants office to pick a fax to forward on to L. So I planned on heading over about the time they opened so that it would be one less thing to remember through the day. Before I could mosey out the door, my phone rang and I got what I at first thought was a pornographic call. You know, the heavy breathing and a few grunts with no response to my repeated hellos. Finally a synthesized voice comes on and wants to talk to the mayor. I admit I am the mayor and inquire as to the reason for the call. The voice comes back with a ranting litany of ills due to the way <City> Housing Authority is operated. I suspect that the person on the other end had fed a prepared rant into his synthesizer, because no matter how many times I interjected that <City> has nothing to do with the operation of <City> Housing Authority, the rant rolled on. Finally the rant ended and I once again pointed out that <City> has nothing to do with the operation of <City> Housing Authority. Got a curt "Well, uh, uh, you'll be sorry!" followed by a hangup. If I were less of a nice guy, I'd call the gentleman up around midnight and rant at him for something he has nothing to do with. But I won't 'cause I'm just not that into wasting time. {*grin*}

I proceeded to pick up the fax and then sent it off to L. No sooner had the fax machine beeped its last, then I got another phone call. This one was a fun phone call (to the right number even). The host of a Japanese exchange student wanted to arrange for the student to meet with me and give me a letter from the mayor of his home city in Japan along with a token gift. As his host pointed out, what he was really hoping for was to get his picture in the local paper presenting the letter and gift to me so that he could take copies of the paper home with him. So I set it up for him to present the letter and gift at tomorrow's city council meeting. What the exchange student doesn't know is that I then quickly drafted a letter to the mayor of his town and had a package of pins with the city seal put together that I will give to the student tomorrow. It will be interesting to watch his reaction. It would be even more fun to see the reaction of The Honorable Toshiaki Ohno, Mayor of Inazawa City when he gets the letter and pins (and the student's picture in the local newpaper).  If I had a bit more time, I would have given it to the wife of our Police Chief to translate into Japanese. (She is Japanese, met the Chief while he was stationed in Japan in the military.)

Well, I need to head for bed since i have a meeting about our water treatment plans with the EPA and State Department of Health early in the morning. Unfortunately, the meeting is in Denver so we are going to have to leave early for the two hour drive to the meeting. We'll probably get back here with just enough time to grab an apple before heading to the city council meeting tomorrow night. So don't count on an early blog entry tomorrow.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

An Olio Of Items Both Good And Bad

This weekend was filled with yard work for the most part. I mowed the lawn and worked on the sprinkler system. Maybe you can explain to me why in-ground sprinkler systems always seem to need working on to make sure the water actually covers the lawn? My theory is that there are little lawn gnomes that hate water sprites and so go around with little hammers beating on the sprinklers. Have you got a better theory?

Saturday was nice as the temperature only hit the mid 80s. A nice break from the 100s of the day before. I didn't even break a sweat while mowing the lawn. I could live with summers that never got much warmer than that. The only places I have found that fit the bill are near ocean coasts, so unfortunately don't have the real seasons I like. Guess I'll just have to hang on through the heat.

Today as I was working on the sprinklers, the little itty bitty bloodsuckers were rampant. The little mosquitos rose in the hundreds as a walked in the lawn. I figure that is our punishment for all the rain we've had this summer. Even though we (the city) spray/fog once a week, the mist only kills those that are fresh in the hatch. Usually that does a pretty good job when there just isn't a place for the little beasts to breed. But with all the summer rains, breeding points abound and the mosquitos are thick and hungry. The worst part is that they are all little tiny beasts that easily fly through the window screens. And like most bad things in the universe, the welt is inversely proportional to the size of the biter. Likewise the degree of itch.

In very sad news, a high school classmate's son was killed this weekend. The classmate is a local MD and we visit from time to time. His son was a year or so older than the Son. I can't imagine how hard it has to be to go through the loss of your child just as they are blooming into full adulthood. Here's to the happy memories I have of golfing with his son and talking about his future, now sadly cut way too short. My condolences to the family and friends.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Week of Happiness

Time once more for:

Five Occurrences That Made For Some Happiness This Week
  • The mosquito who put the bite on my rear end while I slept. I am sure it made the nasty little blood sucker happy, but when I woke up in the morning, it itched like mad. Not to mention my pants rubbed that exact spot and made it itch all day, leaving me the choice of looking indecent while scratching or suffering mortal agony as it itched.
  • The gentleman who so enjoyed talking to me in the park. I still have no clue who he was, but he was willing to discuss my golf game, the best time of day to walk, how his business was going, and other trivia. He knew me by name and I can't escape the feeling I should have known who he was.
  • The chickadee and wrens who waged war outside my bedroom window at 5am. I'm sure they enjoyed making all that racket a lot more than I enjoyed hearing it.
  • The prowling pussy cat that drove Molly wild. She sat two inches from the screen of the sliding door and meowed relentlessly as Molly tried to get someone, anyone to open the screen. When I finally gave in and let Molly out, the pussy was forced to sprint to make it over the fence in time. Molly was very proud of herself for protecting me from that vicious pussy. I think she felt she earned her doggie treat after all that hoopla.
  • The back-of-the-truck fish guy who came knocking on my door tonight. When I asked to see his sales tax license to verify if he was legitimate, he couldn't leave fast enough. Heck, I even offered to call the tax license people and get him set up. I knew exactly what department of the city he needed to talk to. He seemed more interested in heading on down the road. I wonder how long it will take him to remember we had a similar conversation about 6 months ago, the last time he stopped by.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

They Just Don't ...

Time once again for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge. This week the prompts are:
1.) They just don't make (fill in the blank) like they used to!
(inspired by Roxanne)

2.) If you had the time and money...what charity would you help raise awareness for?
(inspired by here to enter her raffle)

3.) What are YOU giddy about?
(inspired by Heather)

4.)What's on YOUR little kids list?
(inspired by Ashley)

5.)Describe what brought you closer to your faith.
(inspired by Emily)

My responses:

#1 - They just don't make summers like they used to.

I can remember when summer lasted forever and featured all sorts of new and exciting things to do. It went on so long that you thought it would never end. And even though you had a vague concept of just how far away tomorrow was, it seemed like forever. If an adult told you "Not today, maybe we can go tomorrow.", you just knew that tomorrow would never come. If the fishing trip was "next Friday", that was so far in the future that you couldn't bear to wait, even if it was Thursday already.

Then there were the timeless pleasures. Awesome events like sneaking off to a shady spot with a new book from the library and reading it straight through from cover to cover without interruption.  (That was why you snuck off to the shade of a tree away from the house - because otherwise you might get tagged for chores if someone spotted you.) You spent the afternoon lost in vivid imagery as your imagination caught fire with each word your devoured.  You remember that timeless feeling when each glance at the sky featured whole new armies of knights and dragons and aliens and machines and spaceships and ...

Maybe it's not summer that has changed, but our grownup lives. I would love to go back to those endless summers of youth, those times when it seemed that the world could never move fast enough to fit our dreams and ambitions. Those times when little pleasures meant so much.

#2 - I find this to be a hard question because there are clearly so many good charities to support and so many needs to be met. Let me begin by dividing the charities into two classes: those that respond to unforseen need and hazard and those designed to handle specific diseases and their effects. In the first class I place groups like the Red Cross and Salvation Army, etc. In the second group I place groups like the American Cancer Society and the March of Dimes, etc.

I think that if I had time and money, I would spend it encouraging basic research so that we might have a hope of solving *all* the problems and curing *all* the ills. So I'd give some amount to the Salvation Army since they seem to me to be the most effective of the first class of charities. But the bulk of my money and time would go to support of fundamental research. It makes so much more sense to me to support fundamental research that may be applicable to thousands of diseases as opposed to squandering our efforts across the myriad of causes, trying to address each one individually, turning each into a popularity contest for funding (and hopefully results). Not to mention, the track record of issue specific efforts has been pretty spotty in the last couple of centuries. Emotionally it is certainly more satisfying to give to the cause that pulls the most heart strings. But realistically, basic science and research wins everytime. So I'd have to go with supporting basic research in general since I am not a fan of the disease-of-the-day causes,

#3 - Nothing. Call it a symptom of getting older, but I don't find myself giddy over many things. Of course given that I am a famed curmudgeon, it might just be that I am not prone to giddiness.

#4 - Since I have no little kids anymore, I going to assume you meant what is on my own inner kid list. I.e. the toys for grown boys that I would like. The problem is that the toy I'd really like still hasn't been made. I suspect it will be another decade or so before it arrives.

What is it you ask? Well picture a box the size of your cell phone with the computing power of a massive server farm, a holographic pop up display as large as you want, full surround projective sound, with direct voice command input. It would function as communications device, computing device, calendar, datebook, movie shower (in real 3d), etc. When one of those hits the market, I hope it hits a toy store near me. Oh, and I almost forgot - it should have a battery life measured in weeks or months under continuous usage.

 #5 - My faith is a bit eclectic to start with. I am a Methodist with a touch of rationalist and even a skosh of secular humanist thrown in. So I don't necessarily think that the things that bring me closer to my faith will have much meaning to others. If I had to chose one thing that builds my faith, it would be the diversity of the world. Just the fact that life itself is so chaotic and random seems to me to be a sign of something interesting going on.

One of the outcomes of my eclectic faith is that I believe it is good to explore all faiths and integrate the larger whole. To that end I often talk to clergy of various faiths and ask hypothetical questions. One of the answers I got from a clergyman who is now bishop made a great impression on me. The question I asked this man was "How will you react if when you die and get to heaven it isn't the God of your religion sitting on the throne?" So if you were a Christian cleric, what if it was Buddha sitting on the throne. And the answer he gave? "Since I'd arrived at a heaven, I would assume the gist of my version had been correct. Then I'd point out that all the worlds great religions are basically the same. We all have a moral code for living a meaningful life, we all value human life as being precious to our creator, and we all teach the treating of our fellow man with kindness and respect." I thought that was one of the best possible answers to the question. I'm still waiting to pose a similar question to an imam. The answer should be illuminating.

The Birds Have It and Other Wars

This morning I was awoken from a peaceful slumber by the sound a a raging bird war going on in the bush outside my bedroom window. A chickadee and some wrens were having a knock down dragout with stereo chirps and tweets and screetches. Once I figured out that:
a) I hadn't died and gotten a bad harp translator in heaven,
b) I hadn't somehow set the alarm to play really hideous music, and
c) it was turning light outside,
I was able to focus enough to read the alarm clock an spot that it was 5am. Given that I get up at 6am so I can walk down to the radio station on Wednesday mornings, I decided to bag the idea of geting back to sleep and instead get some reading done. I have paid for that decision all day now. It seems like I am tired but not quite sleepy. Oh well.

Last night was an interesting special meeting of the city council. A historic first meeting no less, with the city council, the county commissioners, and the rural fire district board all sitting in official session together to go over the proposed intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for the formation of the emergency services authority. Once the smoke cleared and the attorneys for all sides had thrown up their hnds in disgust, there was general agreement as to the form of the IGA. So the modified and corrected version will come before the city council for a first reading next Tuesday (and a second reading and public hearing a few weeks later if it passes the first reading) with similar time frames for approval by the other two entities. Thenthe ballot questions can be put on the ballot and see what the voters want.

The interesting part is that although the city and county have sat in joint session a couple of times during my tenure as mayor, this was the first tri-party meeting anyone can recall. It was also interesting since we filled the council chambers, which is rare. Pretty much, we had a standing room only size crowd. The last time we had that many people in attendance was when there was a proposed liquor license near the college which the churches opposed. I sure wish we could get that many interested citizens for the normal day-to-day business of running the city.

In other news, a good friend of L and I underwent spinal surgery today and I have received word that it went well and has relieved the pressure on his spine. So please think good thoughs for T during his healing and recovery.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Being Green In The Heat

This summer and last summer, I have experimented with being green with the air conditioning in the heat. Other than a few days, it hasn't been overly onerous if you are willing to walk around smelling like an escapee from a gym workout all day.

During this time of the year the high temperature during the day is generally between 90 and 105. Even though we are in the flat semi-desert, we are still at an altitude of 3,900+ feet, so it generally cools a bit in the evening/night. If we get lucky, the daytime temperature only reaches the low 90s and the nighttime drops to the upper 60s. So by practicing diligent airflow control (opening the windows and turning on the fans when the outside temp drops below 80 and closing the windows in the early morning when the temperature inside has dropped to the low 70s), I can manage to keep the house livable with no use of the air conditioner. The drawback is that it means I spend my days in an office that runs between 84 and 90 degrees. Which is warm enough to cause the aforementioned gym funk effect. The rest of the house generally stays in the 70s, but all the computer equipment in my office generates enough heat to cause the temperature difference. I can live with the warm office for now.

The problem is that sometime in the next couple of months we typically get a few days or weeks of really hot weather. Days with highs in the 105-118 range and cooling at night only to 85. Then it becomes almost impossible not to fire up a bit of air conditioning. So I am not looking forward to the coming heat. Last year I managed to run the air less than five days. it will be interesting to see what I can do this year.

The reason I bring all of this up was that yesterday and today was one of those weather conditions where it has been in the upper 90s each day and has not been cooling much below the mid 70s at night. Thus the indoor temperature has been rising. Today my office hit 89 late in the afternoon, which is just a bit too high. So I'm hoping for a cool night and a less hot day tomorrow. Otherwise, I'm going to have to fire up at least one of the chilling units (the house has two units, a 5 ton at one end and 12 ton at the other end including my office). I really don't want to, but it may become a necessity.

The only drawback to the green method of staying cool is that in years like this one where we have had unusual amounts of rain, the number of mosquitoes has also reached new heights. And this year they are all little hungry bugbears that can fly right through the screens to bite and leave really itchy welts. So the combination of mosquitoes and gnats and open windows leads to the occasional use of the vacuum cleaner to suck them all to oblivion once they decide to land and congregate. Either that or invite a few guests over to serve as preferred food hosts for the ravening hordes. (Mosquitoes generally avoid biting me if there is any other possible target around - I assume it is because of some of the drugs I take.)

So what are you doing to be green about cooling this summer?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Summer Dolrums

It seems that the frequency of posts on a number of the blogs I follow are fast approaching zero as an asymptote. This leads me to all sorts of questions. The questions can be broken into the following categories:
  1. Are people posting less just because it's summer?
  2. Are people posting less because they have entered the dormant phase of blogging?
  3. Are people that I read posting less just because of my selection criteria?
  4. Are people leaving for more mindless social networking activities?

#1 - I have some grounds for suspecting that some authors are posting less because they are spending more time with family activities during the summer. Things like T-ball and baseball and swimming and vacation can add up to take a toll on the time available on the blog. Especially for the vast majority of us that are non-commercial bloggers, the blog can come in last in the demand for time. Especially when the yard and the garden keep crying and making piteous noises begging to see us more. At least a couple of authors that I follow have begged off for the summer fr reasons like the above. The true test will be to see if they return to posting regularly come the fall.

#2 - A lot of the blogs that I follow seem to be entering that dreadful second year period of dormancy. People start blogging and keep it up for a period of time before they lose the motivation to keep it up. Since by my reader selection criteria, it is a pretty good bet that I haven't started reading too many brand new bloggers, I've avoided the early burnouts that blog for a month or two and fade quietly into the night. On the other hand, it seems an awful lot of bloggers get tired of blogging sometime around that one year aniversary. It is always interesting when someone has blogged that long and then decides to hang it up. They often feel a need to post a swan song letting their readers know thay are heading into the sunset. Since I have seen more than a few swan songs this summer, I suspect that there are a percentage of authors no longer posting that came from this group.

#3 - Yet another possibility is that I have, by my selection of what I choose to read, biased the sample of blogs to select people who are prone to quitting blogging. Given that I follow only a few of the so called "big bloggers" and only a few full bore "mommy bloggers", my reading list tends to have authors with smaller and more eclectic followings. That is part of what made them attractive to me in the first place, but I suspect that it also makes them susceptable to dropping out of the blogosphere for a myriad of minor reasons.

#4 - That leaves the possibility that people are leaving for the relative mindlessness of places like facebook and twitter, etc. I suspect that this is a very small part of the lack of writing. Facebook and twitter are generally not satisfactory as an outlet for the sort of author who writes a blog that I might follow. Most of the authors I follow that have an interest in facebook or twitter are already present in those media and continue to be active in blogging. The two activities seem to satisfy different parts of the writer's soul, so I suspect this has little to do with the lack of writing.

So my question to you is two-fold. First, do you see the same decline in the number of posts on the blogs that you follow? Second, do you have any better ideas for the causes of the summer posting doldrums?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Friday Five For Love

Time once more for:

Five Favorite Quotes About Love

  • As soon go kindle fire with snow, as seek to quench the fire of love with words. -  William Shakespeare 
  • Where there is love there is life.  - Mohandas Gandhi
  • Who, being loved, is poor? - Oscar Wilde
  • Love is metaphysical gravity. - R. Buckminster Fuller
  • Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love. - Albert Einstein

What are your favorite quotes about love?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I are a Dad! and Other Tales

Time once more for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge. This week the prompts are:

1.) Ask A Dad! Write a letter asking your husband for advice regarding any issue you might have and record his answer.
(inspired by Three Bay B Chicks)

2.) Describe a situation that forced you to confront a neighbor.
(inspired by Jori-O)

3.)Tell us about Grandpa.
(inspired by Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary)

4.) Which appliance in your home would you most miss living without if you had to live without.
(inspired by Amy at Escape Into My Thoughts)

5.) What are three things we would love to know about you!
(inspired by Live. Laugh. Pull Your Hair Out)

My answers might be short and sweet tonight since I started with the radio show this morning, traveled the 125 miles to Denver to spend the afternoon in meetings with lawyers and then traveled back just in time to spend the evening in the EMS committee meeting. It will depend on how long I can keep my eyes open how much I write.

#1 - An easy one! Since I am a Dad, I can ask myself.
Q: Why does it take longer to clean up after cooking than it takes to eat?
A: I don't know - that is why I asked! Dummy!.

#2 - Many years ago when L and I lived in a suburb of Chicago, in an apartment complex. One Saturday night there came the sound of a woman screaming desperately for help in the hall. I stepped out the door just in time to see her pulled back into the apartment across the hall followed by the distinctive sounds of someone smacking someone else hard and whimpering cries for help. I sent L to call the police and knocked on the door, The man opened the door and told me to go away, he was busy. He then slammed the door in my face. A seemingly endless amount of time later the police arrived. The woman refused to press charges, so there wasn't much they could do. Needless to say, relations were a bit strained thereafter when I saw either of that couple in the hall.

#3 - I have talked about my grandfathers before at some length. Please check out Grandfathers.

#4 - Do you mean level 1 appliances or level 2 appliances? For level 1 appliances it would be a real toss-up between the stove and the refrigerator. The stove so I can cook and the refrigerator so that I don't have to buy my food within an hour of cooking and eating it. I kind of like cooking on my schedule and being able to store and preserve food. At level 2, I have to say the microwave. The speed and convenience of preparing food, especially leftovers in a microwave cannot be beat. And of course we wouldn't want to forget such conveniences as hot tea and microwave popcorn and ...

#5 - Well, that is a tough three. How about:
  1. I have a gray beard and hair
  2. I have a farmer tan
  3. I sometimes wear rather eye stretching Hawaiian shirts
Just to illustrate, here is a recent picture of me from the local paper as I addressed the Rotary club. Note the gray hair and beard, the farmer tan so evident on the right arm, and the Hawaiian shirt (muted to save your vision).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Attack of the Meme

I was tagged by Christy over at LIVE and LEARN! for the viral meme floating around. So here goes.

First the rules:

1. Respond and rework. Answer the questions on your blog. Replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention, and add one more question of your own.

2. Tag other people.

Now the questions:

What are you wearing today? Khaki's and a summer shirt. I have city council meeting in a bit and can't look too casual, otherwise it'd be shorts and a golf shirt.

What's for dinner? A couple of turnips (raw) and a salad with lettuce, onions, radishes, carrots.

What would you eat for your last meal? That's a tough one. There are so many foods that would all taste good that it is hard to narrow it down. Probably a BBQ steak, a brat, a green salad, and some fresh fruit and melon.

What relaxes you most? Hard physical labor and spending time snuggling with L.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would it be? Probably Antarctica.  It's been hot here for days and the blast of cold might be refreshing for a few moments at least.

What language do you want to learn? Another tough one. Foreign languages seem to defeat me. I have tried Spanish, Russian, French and Latin; all I have to show for it is the ability to count to 100 in each of them. Computer languages come easy to me; I know about 40 fluently and another 30 or so to the level I can read and understand someone else's program written in them. I guess I'll say Spanish so I can try to watch the Spanish language channels on tv.

What do you love most about where you currently live? The rural agrarian life style and the friendliness of the community. I also love the definite seasons and how they remind one of the rhythms of life.

What style is your current home decorated in? American eclectic? You can judge for yourself from the pictures in this post.

If you were a time traveler what era would you live in? There are several periods that would be interesting to me. Ancient Rome might be interesting, the 1920's have a definite attraction, but I guess I'd say the 1940's and WWII as my current choice. That period was a time of intense scientific development and a time when whole countries were pulling together in the same direction trying to ensure their very survival. The experience would be intense.

What is your favorite color? Blue. Or Red. Or Green. Maybe I'm just color agnostic?

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe? Shorts (and golf shirts).

What were you doing ten years ago? Working on several start-up companies. There was period in there where I was even listed on the masthead of Working Women Magazine as the CTO of their internet arm.

What are you going to do after this? City council meeting.

What are your favorite films? I have too many to list them all. Instead I'll list the first film that left me utterly awestruck and madly in love. That film was Dr. Zhivago and the love was Lara. The time was Jr. High School.

What are your favorite books? Almost anything by Asimov or Heinlein. Most any hard science fiction. Thrillers and Who-dunnit's. Philosophy. I guess just about any book since I read 2 to 4 novels a week.

Do you collect anything? Books and old computer equipment.

What makes you follow a blog? It piques my interest. That can be because it is humorous or because it talks about subjects not a part of my day to day life or because it is a techie blog or just because the viewpoints expressed are different than my own.

What was the most enjoyable thing you did today? Went for a walk.

Ann's Question: What makes you comment on a blog? The topic is something I feel I can contribute to. Reciprocation (I.E. you commented on my blog so I owe you a comment and vice versa.)

Amy's Question: What is your favorite thing to do when you have free time? Spend time with my wife L, walk the streets and parks of town, golf, program computers, and read.

Tonya's Question: What is a talent you wished you had? I sometimes think it would be neat to read minds, at least at a superficial level. On the other hand, it might not be too neat to hear what people really thought about you.

Noelle's Question: If you could go to heaven, who would you see and why? This may be controversial answer, but I'd have say God. I'd like to ask him what he was really trying to do with free will. If the question is what formerly living person, then I'd have to say my grandfather P.

Vickie's Question: Who is your favorite actor? Probably Harrison Ford or Johnny Depp. They seem to be able to play a role in a totally convincing manner.

Kitten's Question: Other than Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, etc. what are your most frequently visited websites? Slashdot. Since I don't Twitter or Facebook, I spend my time on techie and news sites.

SeptemberMom's Question: What was your favorite subject in school? Science and math.

Christy's question: As a child/teen how did you envision your adult life? Pretty much as it happened up to middle age anyway. The last 5 years were nowhere in my envisioning.

My Question: How much time do you spend on your average blog post? Between 15 and 25 minutes on average. Sometimes as little a 5 minutes.

Now that I'm done, I'll tag


Little Ms Blogger

to carry on the infection.

Monday, July 13, 2009

You Knew It Had ....

You knew it had to be true, but now there is now scientific evidence that cats control their humans. From the July 14 issue of Current Biology as reported by the news services, cats control humans by their purr/cries. For the full LiveScience article, click here.

I don't know if anyone is really surprised by the findings given that previous research that showed the similarities between cat cries and human infant cries. Couple that with the seemingly limitless ability of humans to not ignore the cries of infants and you have a pretty strong method of control if dear old pussy adds the right sonic triggers to her cry. And that seems to be exactly what the cats have learned/adapted to doing. Lead researcher McComb said she thinks this cry occurs at a low level in cats' normal purring, "but we think that cats learn to dramatically exaggerate it when it proves effective in generating a response from humans."

So now we have cats learning to control us by sonic means,  dogs learning to control us by making goo-goo eyes at us, and our infants doing both. Ever wondered if you are the last person to catch on to the fact that everyone and everything in the world is out to influence you? I certainly have.

Now the question is if this research can explain the cat lady phenomena. There must be some reason for the existance of cat ladies. I'm begining to think it is all a plot by the cats of the world. What do you think?

The Power Of Music

Have you ever been gobsmacked by the emotional power of music? By that I mean that the music that is the soundtrack of your life is somehow imbued with the power to evoke the emotional feel of the events that were happening when the music was playing. Confused enough yet? I suppose a more succinct way of expressing my thought is that music has the power to act as the trigger to recall emotions and feelings with a fidelity that normal reminiscence lacks. And those trips down memory and mood lane can be quite vivid and rewarding.

Tonight I have been listening to the music from my "neighborhood" in By virtue of whatever algorithm uses to associate my musical tastes with a neighborhood, I get to rediscover a lot of music that was a big part of the soundtrack of my life at various stages. The interesting part is that the music is not necessarily what I would choose on my own. I am pretty much a creature of my formative years with some later influences. Thus my normal selections might have a lot of Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, Iron Butterfly, Cream, Eric Clapton, etc. But at the same time, artists like Norman Greenbaum (Spirit in the Sky) and The Everly Brothers (Dream) and ... all are capable of pulling up memories and events. Without something like my neighborhood, I might not hear them for years.

Via the power of the neighborhood, I listened to Tommy James and the Shondells (Crimson and Clover), The McCoys (Hang On Sloopy), Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin doing insane things with her voice), Vanilla Fudge (You Keep Me Hanging On), and even some {*gasp*} Archies (Sugar, Sugar). Each and every song brought forth a stream of events and feelings and emotions that at times was overpowering and yet rewarding and comforting.

So as I head back into the emotional cloud of my neighborhood, I'll leave you with the questions:
  • Do you get the same trigger effect from the music in your life's soundtrack?
  • What is some of your trigger music?
A parting gift of the map of musical island interrelatedness for your perusal from - if you click it it will take you to their playground and some references as to how it was built.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Five Signs Of Being Confuzzled

Time once more for

Five Signs Of Being Confuzzled

(Confuzzled - the state of being fuzzy and confused due to doing too many things at once.)

  • Getting called by L in the wee hours of the morning because the bears (momma and two cubs) are in the garbage again in the mountains. And my first thought is that it is not like I'm going to be able do anything from more than 3 hours away.
  • Waking up at the (relatively) late hour of 7am and already having three messages waiting on the phone.
  • Planning to mosey over to XXX's mid-morning to do her therapy and getting nailed by call after call before I can get out the door.
  • Walking over to XXX's and thinking my right shoe doesn't feel right; shrugging it off to just not tying the laces tight enough. Without ever looking down at my feet!
  • Returning from XXX's and taking off my shoes to change out of my walking shoes and back to my around-the-office shoes only to discover this:
Notice that the left foot has my standard lace up walking shoe on while the right foot has my around-the-office strap on shoe on. Is it any wonder that the right foot felt like I hadn't tied it tight? I must have been so confuzzled by the spate of phone calls as I was attempting to get out the door that I only got one shoe changed. Highly observant of me, I know. At least they weren't different colors!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

They're Out To Get Me

Time once more for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge. This week the prompts are:
1.) Tell us about a "dirt cheap" you've taken this summer.
(inspired by Anti-Supermom)

2.) When I grow up I want to be like...
(inspired by Jenny Says What?)

3.) Describe a difficult moment that you survived.
(inspired by Sarah M.)

4.) List 5 things you like to do while camping...or 5 places you'd like to go.
(inspired by Kisatrtle)

5.) What are you paranoid about?
(inspired by Melissa)

What is the best prompt for me this week?

#1 - I can eliminate this right off the bat. The only place I have been this summer is to the corporate meeting with L in Vail. Although it was dirt cheap to me, since I was playing corporate wife, I still don't think it qualifies as a dirt cheap in this sense.

#2 - Who I want to be like when I grow up could be seen as redundant. Many people would claim I am already grown up. But in one of those oddities of life, the older you get, the more it seems like so many things might be possible (and yet there are any number of other things that become physically harder). The person I would most like to emulate as I age would have to be be Richard P. Feynman. He carried on an intense and wide ranging interest and intellectual curiosity in the world right up to his death.

I still remember a conversation I had with him all the way back in my graduate school days. In it he happened to mention that he didn't think that one of the fashionable models of reality that was making the rounds of speculation at the time would turn out to be viable. When I asked him why he thought that way, he said he had a very simple rule for determining if he really understood some part of physics. If he could understand the outcome using a simple mental model that required no insane mathematical finesse to work, he felt he was probably on the right track. The theory in question failed that test and was later shown to be wrong. I always thought that was pretty good advice coming from a Nobel laureate and great all around physicist.

#3 - I have survived a number of difficult moments in my life. So many that it is in fact it is hard to choose just one. I guess I'll go with the time I was the tensest and most worried in my life.

Where I went to graduate school, there were three main criteria for getting a doctorate in physics. The first was a written test on all of physics (the qualifier). The second was a specific oral exam before a committee to determine if you were smart enough and/or capable enough to proceed to do original research (the oral). The third was a thesis of original research, published in refereed journals, and approved by a thesis committee (the thesis defense).

The qualifier was given once a year at the start of the academic year. It was a three day exam, from 8am to 5pm with an hour off for lunch. You got two chances to pass it or your career as a graduate student was over. I had only minimal doubt about the qualifier and passed on the first try. I can only say that some of the most socially awkward scenes in graduate school occurred the day the results came out and your friend and colleague had not passed on their last attempt. What can you say to them? What can they say to you?

Unlike the qualifier, the oral was scheduled once you had passed the qualifier and proven proficiency in the core curriculum (electromagnetic fields, mechanics, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, quantum field theory, etc.) The committee to examine you was selected by the university, not you or your advisor. I was the first one in my incoming cohort of graduate students to be scheduled for my oral, so information was a bit sketchy as to how bad it really was. My friends were almost funereal when they saw my committee. Of the seven committee members, I happened to get three of the most cantankerous and anti-graduate student professors in the institution. And that was just the physics professors. There was also a professor from mathematics, another from applied science, one from the medical school, and one humanities professor.
At the duly appointed hour, I showed up for my oral, as nervous and as tense as could be. I recognized the three physics professors, but hadn't met any of the others. The first hour was pretty simple questions, more like brain warm-ups than serious kill the graduate student questions. The second hour specialized in more and more detailed questions, some of which had no answer. Questions like "why is the sky blue?" (Raleigh scattering) and "prove that a modified version of the MVT holds in the presence of a countable number of singularities." interspersed with off the wall ones like "what would happen if all people grew five inches taller?" All pretty simple if sometimes tediously long to work out on the blackboard. And then I was asked the question that left me blank. I literally have no memory from then to the end of the oral. To this day I cannot remember what the question was. All I remember is that it was asked by the professor from the medical school. I must have had a good answer, because I passed. But that was the first and last time in my life where I have had that kind of a stress induced blank out.
Needless to say, after the oral ordeal, defending my thesis was trivial.

#4 - An easy one. I DO NOT LIKE TO CAMP! Years of camping as a Boy Scout left me with a firm preference not to camp. So you all can camp out, but I am going to be staying over there at the cabin that has running water, a bed, a stove, electric lights, and maybe even a heater or air conditioner. I'll see you in the morning.

#5 - It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you. Actually, I am probably one of the least paranoid people around. I have a deep seated belief that people will do the right thing if you let them. If they don't, then they just aren't a part of my life for long. Because I believe in people, people sense it and generally do the right thing. So I don't have to waste time being paranoid.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Weeds, Weeds, Weeds Everywhere

Today after therapy for XXX, I went over to chop, pull, hoe, stare at, rant at, and finally come to an uneasy coexistence with all the weeds in the garden. Parts of the garden were still too wet from Sunday's downpour to even attempt to enter. But the other side was dry enough so I spent about 6 hours weeding. I think I need a motto like the U.S. Postal Service: neither heat nor weeds above my head will keep me from my appointed hoeing. What do you think?

Leaving the weeds behind, a couple of odd things.

Do you ever look in your spam folder to see what is being sent to you? I do from time to time because I run my own mail servers and filter spam rather aggressively, so it behooves me to make sure I'm not throwing away "real" mail. Spam in general is not overly interesting, but I find the types of spam being sent seems to cycle from time to time.

Today when I looked on the server at the collected spam of the last week, I was astonished to note that there wasn't a single sexually oriented message. No penis extender ads, no ads for fake Viagra, no young nubile girls desiring me to call them for cybersex. None. Nada. it must really be a bad economy when the sex related spammers slack off.

On the other hand, the number of ads for ersatz debit cards that work just like a credit card seem to be rising fast. So too are the work at home scams.  And the refinance shills are working the internet mails as well.

One surprising spam was one I haven't seem before. It was offering home cleaning services. I have to wonder how many people would invite unknown people to their abode to clean on the basis of a spam email. I have my doubts that there is any cleaning service behind the email - I suspect it is simply a way to collect valid email addresses cross matched with a physical address. Perhaps a targeted list of home owners by region?

Second odd thing.

Tonight three different people called and left messages about mayor business after 7pm. They all three obviously didn't expect to talk to me (they assumed I'd be in the normal Tueday night council meeting, but there wasn't one this week) and in that they were not disappointed since I was fixing supper when they called. But the odd part is that all three said they had a meeting and would be tied up until 9:30pm and for me to give them a call after 9:30. It is going to be interesting to see what meeting they were at and why it couldn't wait until tomorrow. Hope it is interesting.

Time to go get cleaned up so I can mosey down to the radio station in the morning. After that, I have a speaking engagement for lunch with the Rotary club. Since they are changing officers and holding the meeting as a pool party, I'm wearing swim trunks and a Hawaiian shirt. That way if there is any truth to the rumor of plans to throw the mayor in the pool, I'll be prepared. {*grin*}

Monday, July 6, 2009

Meandering Monday

Early this morning L headed back to the mountains. A slight difference of climate between the two locales. When we talked this afternoon, it was in the fifties in the mountains but pushing the mid-nineties here on the plains. At least tonight there was no more of the anomalous rain here.

Speaking of rain, it was amusing this morning to count the number of people who drove up along side me as I was walking to banter about the storm of last night. I can't count the number of people who asked what I did to cause all this rain. I finally fessed up and told them that the rain of last night was due to the fact that I watered my lawn, thus tempting the rain gods. To understand why this is funny, you need to understand that in a normal summer out here you have to water your lawn every other day or so or it turns brown and dies. The watering I did on Sunday afternoon was only the third time I have watered my lawn *all year* this year. Think we have been getting a bit of anomalous moisture?

It was interesting the number of odd calls I got today as well. I've never figured out how people always know to call at the most inopportune times. No calls early in the morning, just a couple of emails saying call me about this and that. But the minute I walked outside on my way over to do the morning therapy session with XXX, my phone was busy the entire walk to and from XXX's. Got back to my office and not another call until in the afternoon. I've taken to walking with my cellular headset (I prefer the wired one rather than the blue tooth one) in my ear and plugged in. Makes me suspect there is a lookout posted that tells everyone to call me as soon as I walk out the door.

Supper tonight was packed with things from the garden. Raw turnips, peeled and lightly salted. A salad with fresh picked chopped green onions, Chinese peas, sliced radishes (both white and red), lettuce, and a touch of chopped cucumber. Pretty close to vegetarian if I hadn't had that macaroon for desert. I am looking forward to later when our cucumbers and peppers start getting ready.

My final meeting of the day was the Boy Scout Troop Committee meeting tonight. Once again the topic was all the rain and weather we've been having. Got the real business done along with the normal bs'ing and headed back home in time to see that the Rockies managed to win - must have been because they didn't have to call on the bull pen.

Molly the dog is still lying around and moping, morning L's departure. I have faith Molly will be back up to her normal "let's go, c'mom, let's go" personality by sunrise. So I guess I'd better head for the bed so I can be ready when she is. Nothing is worse than the smell of doggie breath and a mouth full of fur when she jumps up on the side of the bed to make sure you are getting with the program and you aren't up yet. Goodnight.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Partially Eventful Weekend

The Fourth of July was a generally good weekend here. It kicked off on Friday with the reception opening the Heritage Festival and beginning the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the city. I was fortunate enough to limit my official engagements this weekend to just a quickie at the reception. We handed out a neat covered wagon doodad to those who attended the reception:
 (Of course we also gave the attendees a wooden nickel.)

After the reception, L and I headed on over to our friends for a BBQ. Brats, burgers, red hots, and sausage off the grill plus shrimp and fresh fruit and chips of many kinds plus dips and vegetables - then topped off by pie and pistachio cake. Luckily we were seated in the garage, since the skies dumped yet another unseasonable rain shower during the evening. It was a great time sitting around and eating, talking to friends, and generally just relaxing. It is especially poignant because the male half of the couple is going to be having some pretty serious spinal surgery later in the month and it isn't clear when he'll up and about following the surgery. (We've known each other since grade school - so I know he doesn't handle being on bed rest well. This will be interesting, to say the least.) At the close of the evening, L and I walked home and sat back to let all the food settle.

The 4th itself was pretty much a day to ourselves except for XXX's therapy. So we mowed the lawn and trimmed the bushes and (of course!) pulled the weeds. Got cleaned up early in the evening and journeyed over to Mom's where the MIL, L and I had a nice 4th of July supper. L and her mother went to watch the city fireworks display while Mom and I visited and I got ready to bring the leftovers home. On the way home, I saw some of the municpal fireworks display just as yet another unusal rain shower set in. Got home in time to see the Rockies blow it from the bull pen once again. That has to hurt to be a starting pitcher and see the bull pen come in and lose it time after time.

Today we had XXX's therapy, I put in a new dryer vent for the MIL and then we ate lunch at the MIL's. Then in the afternoon, I picked up Mom and we went over to the home of one of my childhood friends (the hosue is now occupied by his brother) and cut a bunch of rhubarb - probably a couple of gallons worth anyway. Then we came back to Mom's and pulled radishes and turnips from the garden, then sat on the front porch topping and chopping before we took it all in to wash. Along the way I got to take Mom's vacuum apart and replace a belt. During this time L was back at our house cleaning. So when I got home she wanted to head out for the Rockies Tacos (although they lost, they did score the requisite 7 runs for Taco Bell and Rockies Tacos). As we came home, the sky was starting to look a bit vicious, but it looked like it was north of us and weather here generally moves to the north.

Needless to say, the vicious weather didn't move north. First the wind came up, then the tornado warning sirens fired up, followed by the police and fire trucks running up and down the streets, running their bullhorns telling people that there was a warning and to take cover, followed by the skies opening up and water coming down in sheets. For almost an hour, the sirens fired anew with each new warning. (Not all tornado warnings!) The warning I thought most unique was "Urban Flash Flood Warning" about midway through the whole process. It was raining so hard and fast that the streets and yards were literally flooding since the water arriving was more than could be drained.

After all the excitement settled down (No known tornado touchdown, only some wind and water damage.) life returned to normal about 25 degrees cooler. Some trees lost limbs in the area, but our major damage was simply the blown over basketball hoop. An hour or two after the all clear, it looked like this:

I set it back up and then looked up to see one of the biggest rainbows I've ever seen around here. Pardon my spectacularly poor photography, but hopefully you can see what I'm talking about.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Five "Instruments" ...

Time once more for

(Hosted by Angela, who gave me this award
the Premios Dardo that I now am figuring out which 15 others to pass it on to.)

Five "Instruments" That Should Have Been Omitted From The Symphony Early This Morning

  • The caterwauling female cat looking desperately for male companionship under my bedroom window.
  • The wildly barking Molly dog trying to open the sliding door to have a few words with the aforementioned cat.
  • The crows who chose to dive bomb and caw at said cat, hoping to drive it out of their territory.
  • The mourning doves that felt they had to get their mournful coos in with all the other noise.
  • The train engineer that just had to sit on his horn to put a real edge on things.

Needless to say, further sleep was impossible after being roused by that cacophony.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Incredible ....

Time once more for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge. This time with special sauce and a prompt from yours truly. The prompts:

1.) Mother's guilt...tell us what happened.
(inspired by Lolli)

2.) Write five "Incredibly Short Books". Some examples:

"Chemical Contraception Choices for Catholic Couples"
"Teenage U.S. Presidents"
"The Book of Female Popes"
"The 2008 Book of General Motors Profits"

Dan says, "The point is that the book is of zero size since the title is a contradiction with reality."
(inspired by Dan)

3.) I'll be happy when ________________.
(inspired by Tracy P.)

4.) Relay an interesting conversation you recently had with someone that may or may not involve creating a Loch Ness Monster Theme Park.
(inspired by Jen)

5.) Show us something you made!
(inspired by Janis)

#1 - Mother's guilt. I have to leave this one unfilled since I am not a mother. Besides, as we all know, fathers never suffer from guilt. {*grin*}

#2 - Incredibly Short Books. I am honored, nay tickled pink to have a prompt inspired by me. My must read list of Incredibly Short Books includes:
  • Quantum Gravity for Dummies
  • The Pictorial History of Overweight Playboy Centerfolds
  • Heart Healthy Deep Fried Food
  • The Well Rested Newborn Parent
  • The Ugly Plastic Surgeon
BTW, the idea of short books came from Indie 101.5 FM, an eclectic radio station out of the Denver area.

#3 - I'll be happy when ... I'll be happy when the weather once more turns to the cooler nights of fall. I'll be happy when I have a real job. I'll be happy to see L tomorrow.

#4 - Interesting Conversation. This morning as I was walking across the Wal-Mart parking lot to speak at the Grand Re-Opening after the remodel, I ran into a local attorney named Alex. I asked him what he was doing up at 8am for the gala. His reply: "Somebody good looking had to be invited to make up for all the rest of you people in attendance." Think Alex might be just a little bit vain? One of the newspaper reporters couldn't resist remarking, "If Alex spent as much time on law as he does on his appearance, he'd be on the supreme court by now." It really is funny because Alex is not truly that vain, he just likes to cultivate that appearance.

#5 - Something I made. I made this little windmill a long time ago. It has set on top of my book case in the office here fo somewhere between 15 and 20 years, I looks somewhat like the one I remember from my grandparents farm in my childhood.

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