Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Meandering Cell Phone Rant

This weekend definitely reminded me that fall is on the way. Yesterday it didn't quite break 70 and was down in the upper 40s last night. Cool enough to close most of the windows and still feel cold this morning. It has already been cool in the mountains for a while, but this is the first hint of true fall down here. It made yesterday a great day to take a late afternoon nap in the cool overcast. Molly and I were batching it alone (What do you call it when a female dog is doing the equivalent of male batching? There must be a term for it.) so we had no trouble snuggling in an sleeping for a couple of hours. There is something about the time of year when a blanket becomes needful that makes sleeping so much better.

L and the Son are both up in the mountains with a cold/virus, so it might be a good thing that L wasn't able to come home this weekend. (I hope to avoid this cold if possible!) Add in the smoke and haze up there blowing in from the distant California fires and there is a lot of overcast and haze on the ground up there. Needless to say, it hasn't overjoyed L with the irritation it adds to the effects of the cold. The smoke doesn't seem to have made it over the mountains and down here in force yet, but there is a bit of haze in the air. It always amazes me how smoke from fires more than a 1000 miles away can appear in the air here. Let's hear it for the west to east flow of air in the U.S.

Enough about the weather and on with my rant for today.

Starting Saturday and continuing on through today, I have a gained a good argument against giving kids who are a bit young cell phones. A certain young gentleman who seems to have barely made it into his 4's has been calling repeatedly and inquiring for Marcus. On the times when I've answered and explained to the young man that this is not Marcus's number and suggested he might get his parents to help him find the right number, I've gotten a mumbled o'tay followed by a hangup. Of course within an hour or two there is another call from the same youngster on the same cell number asking for Marcus yet again.  I am tempted to call the number back around ten tonight in the hope it will be answered by the person or persons who gave the young man a phone too early in his life. I suspect it would do me no good since it seems that there are a number of parents who haven't thought through the issues of comprehension and phones for responsible use by youngsters. In a few days, he will undoubtedly tire and quit calling.

From my curmudgeonly point of view, if you are going to give a cell phone to a youngster too young to responsibly respond to messages when he uses the phone, you might want to set it up so it can call only the parents and maybe the siblings and grandparents. But that idea seldom seems to occur to the sort that might give a 4 year old a cell phone. If you are such a parent, you should consider what kind of emotional trauma might result to junior if he kept calling someone less tolerant than me for three days. If nothing else, he might gain some new and surprising vocabulary words for answering the phone.

Have you ever had the joy of a too young caller? How many 4 and 5 year olds do you know with cell phones?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wishing Well,Wishing Well ....

It's Friday and thus time for

Five Odd Things I Really Wish I Knew How To Do

  • Embrace my enemies - in something other than a fatal bear hug! Revenge may indeed be a dish best eaten cold, but there are times when one just isn't hungry.

  • Understand the thinking behind some of the decisions in the design of PulseAudio (Linux techie specific - non techies can ignore. {*grin*}).

  • Find gainful employment that doesn't involve starting another company or being part of another start up.

  • Sleep more than five hours a night. Heck, just sleep for more than five hours at a time any part of the day.

  • Regain the pain free existence of youth, that halcyon time when nothing hurt and everything worked, no matter how hard I tried to abuse it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Protect Me - Please?

Time once again for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge. This week the prompts are:
1.) My animals are making me nuts.
(inspired by Jody from Take Me As I Am).

2.) List the 5 best things about the first day of school.
(inspired by Lane from Sneaky Daddy).

3.) Tell us about your crush.
(inspired by Lisa from Just Lisa, No Filler)

4.) How did you break it?
(inspired by Brandy from Not Your Average Soccer Mom)

5.) Show us a favorite summer craft.
(inspired by Kristin from The Way It Is)

Some fun topics this week!

I'm going with #1 and #3. #2 doesn't apply here and #4 I covered last week here. #5 isn't really applicable unless you really want to see pictures of my renowned noxious weed crop. Something about Russian thistle and bind weed and sand burrs just don't make for pretty pictures.

#1 - I don't even need to go for plural here. Just the singular Molly is doing fine in making sure my sanity is slowly ebbing away. Molly is one of those dogs that combine the best and worst in one anxious body. She has developed a strong dislike and fear of thunderstorms. The subsonic noise from the distant storms brings her slinking in to my office to lie on my feet, periodically standing up on my leg looking for a reassuring word and a rub of the head. There is nothing like the sudden appearance of a a shaking and panting dog in your face to make it hard to continue working. Especially when her breath smells a lot like she intentionally gargles with a solution of garlic and onion mixed with hint of ripe road kill when she is scared. In the thunderstorm this afternoon I captured this part of the normal sequence.
C'mon, lets get into the office so I can lie on your feet! Can't you hear that thunder?

See- I'm ready to lie still. In spite of my licking my nose like mad. (It's a nervous tic she exhibits when she hears the subsonics from thunder.)

I'm just going to lie here on your feet and keep my head down.

Look, I'm off your feet and ready to go lay in the sun since the storm is gone. Are you going to stay here in case I need to hide again? If I don't hear anything for the next fifteen minutes, I may even stop licking my nose for you.

So here she is laying in the sun, recovering from the stress of the storm. Doesn't it make you want to rub her poor pitiful head?
In spite of the immense amount of fur she sheds on a daily basis, her neediness when thunder is in the area, and the fact that she snores at night, i find her oddly appealing. Maybe it is true love?

#3 - My first crush that I truly remember was in junior high school. Of course there had been Julie and Jackie and Beth and Kristi as I went from kindergarten through 6th grade. But then I hit a dry spell in the crush department until late middle school. That's when I fell into deep like and crush with Annette. Annette was an older woman who seemingly inhabited other worldly realms, but I just knew that we were perfect for each other. I fell asleep at night dreaming of Annette and all that we would do together someday. I day-dreamed through classes with Annette sitting in the front of my mind.

There was just one problem - I could see no way I was even going to be able to talk to Annette. For you see, Annette was a person who appeared only in TV reruns, the movies, and fanzines. For my first real crush was on Annette Funicello, the Mouseketeer par excellence, the star of Disney beach movies with Frankie Avalon, the girl of my dreams. I still remember her fondly, and she hasn't aged a bit!
So there you have it - another embarrassing admission of normalcy. {*grin*}

Tuesday Quicky

This will be short since the city council meeting ran a bit long tonight and I'm just waiting for the last load of clothes to finish washing before I hit the sack. The trip down to the radio station will come early in the morning. Since it rained tonight (yet again) I can amuse myself by counting the number of people who didn't shut off their sprinklers to save water. (I should have done the laundry this weekend, but i put it off. That's what happens when you are a masterful procrastinator!)

One of the more interesting things that happened at the city council meeting was one council member  was rather insistent that we needed to do something about a particular intersection. He brought it up under miscellaneous business at the end of the meeting, which I run as  pretty free-form segment to handle all those odd things that people have asked us about that either don't fit in elsewhere or which are more informational in nature.. After a long soliloquy by the council member in question about how we needed to fix that intersection, the director of public works had to gently point out that the intersection in question is not in fact in the city. It is at a juncture of the county boundary and a state highway - the city boundary is further down the the road. Nothing like an Emily Lattella-ish "Never mind." to make someone appear thoughtful and well prepared. Especially given that he is the brother-in-law of the county commissioner that he should have been talking to about it. But given that we had our typical 3 reporters, 3 guests, and 3 department head audience in the chambers, it really doesn't matter. That is one of the reasons that I've been happy that we don't broadcast the meetings on our public service channel - there is no huge gain to orating up a storm or showboating, so people generally get to the point, state their reasoning, and then we vote. Maybe I'll have to try a filibuster sometime before my last day as mayor!

Just so you can feel a personal sense of edification for reading thus far, a couple of quotations for you perusal:
Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a liberal, who wishes to replace them with others. -- Ambrose Bierce

Liberal: A power worshipper without power. -- George Orwell

As I said yesetrday, Little Ms Blogger of A Little Blog About Nothing fame gave me this Love Ya Award:

Here are the rules:

"This award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

I thank her for the kind consideration and recognition. Since I'm running a bit low on time for the nonce, I'll get back with my eight victims bloggers in a few days.

Nightly night .....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Music and Picnic and Miscellanea

I'm listening to some Tina Turner on and thinking how melancholy this particular version of the song Tonight seems. Somewhere around here I have a concert tape with a version that is completely different. The concert version is completely up beat and builds to a peak of elation; the version from the album could be played at a funeral without raising eyebrows. It is amazing how different two different performances of the same piece of music can be. And even more amazing is the fact we still recognize the piece and the artist. Here is the concert version with Bowie:

Speaking of good music, I just got completely distracted as The Animals version of The House of the Rising Sun played. That song is one of my favorite heavy ballads. But I suspect that those of you that knew of my Iron Butterfly and Led Zeppelin addictions might have guessed that. {*grin*} As a clue to how old I am, I can remember listening to that song on the AM radio in junior high school. A song about a house of ill repute and all the bad that can happen there sandwiched between daily reports of the death toll in the Vietnam war - made for really interesting times. (And it was followed on by Janis Joplin doing amazing things with her voice singing Down On Me with Big Brother and the Holding Company. Totally good stuff!)

In any case, this weekend was the city employee picnic. It is one of two all-hands events that the city sponsors so that the staff and personnel and elected officials can bond a bit. The other is a more formal sit down dinner; this is a family affair with kids invited and held in the park across from the city water park so that the whole family can swim and recreate. For the less energetic, we play bingo for lottery tickets from 5 to 6 and then serve the food at 6. After the meal, we draw employee names from a hat for various raffle prizes.

So here are some annotated pics from yesterdays event. First off is a council member caught calling a game of bingo just before the ball roller broke and before the eats:
(Click on the pictures to  enlarge enough to read.)

Another view of the crowd getting ready to stampede for the food:

Here's one with the Chief of Police (otherwise know as the master of ceremonies for the picnic) calling a raffle name with the city water park in the distance.

Last but not least is the master of ceremonies raffling off the swag after everyone got stuffed on ham and chicken and meatballs and salads and fruit and bread and cake and ice cream and chocolate. It's a wonder anyone was still able to move at this point.

That was how I spent Sunday afternoon/evening. You'll notice I politely refrained from getting pictures of the carnage as we ate. {*grin*} The only bad thing was that there was something blowing in the air last night and so today I could barely see for most of the day as my eyes kept watering. Oh well, they'll be fine by tomorrow.

P.S. Mom won the battle and accompanied me to the picnic; too bad MIL! If you know what to look for, you can spot her back in one of the pictures.

P.P.S Little Ms Blogger gave me an award, I'll show it off tomorrow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weekend Rarity

A rare weekend post for your edification. L is in the mountains, so it is just Molly and me holding down the fort this weekend. Of course it is also the weekend of the city employee picnic,  so I let mom and MIL fight it out to see who is going to attend with me. At last count, it was mom by a nose.

One reason for posting now is that Thursday I spoke at the groundbreaking for the David Walsh Cancer Center and I wanted to get some thoughts "on paper". I was honored to be asked to speak, since Dave was a classmate of mine. Dave suffered from metastatic esophageal cancer, first diagnosed on 1996 and fatal in 1998. He left behind two sons and a wife. One of the sons was about the same age as the Son and the other was a bit older.

Dave's parents, Frank and Gloria Walsh, have been great benefactors to the community. In fact, they have made my three terms as mayor a real joy.  They donated an outdoor water park and pool at the city recreation center. They donated a new park across the street from the water park so families could spend all day together there. They donated a major part of the $3.2 million expansion of the city library. They donated a new dorm to the local community college.  Last year, Frank told me over coffee that he and Gloria were going to make sure the cancer center got built at the regional medical center here in town as a memorial to Dave. And so they donated $8.8 million to get the cancer center built. People like Frank and Gloria are what makes putting up with the hassles of being a mayor worthwhile.

There were four of us that spoke at the groundbreaking (me; Dr. Thomas Soper, Hospital Chief of Staff; Jim Ferando, Hospital Chain Western Region President; and Carlin Walsh, Dave's oldest son). There was a big crowd in attendance (estimated at 150 to 300 people) along with Frank, Gloria, the family of their other son Bill, and Dave's family.

I was the lead speaker, so the written version of my speech went like this (I often write out my speeches and then intentionally don't take the copy to the event - that way one never becomes a zombie reading a speech to  bored audience.):

We are here today to celebrate with the Walsh family as we break ground on this wonderful memorial to David Walsh. I thank them on behalf of the community they have so generously gifted and on behalf of those future patients whose treatment will be so much easier and closer to home. I know that when my father was battling cancer, it was hard that he had to commute a 100 miles each way for treatment while suffering the after-effects of the treatment. This center will ease that burden for those in this entire region in the future.

As an aside, I find it hard to refer to Dave as David. He was always Dave to me in all the years I knew him. Dave was a classmate of mine; many of you already knew that. But I suspect that most of you didn't know or remember that Dave was my opponent the very first time I ran for an elective office - that of treasurer of the student council at SHS some 40 years ago. Dave won the election by a landslide and yet the thing I remember most after all these years is that once the results were known, Dave sought me out to console me for losing. I suspect he felt worse about winning than I did about losing. That was the Dave Walsh I knew - caring, concerned, and involved. And that is why the David Walsh Cancer Center is such a perfect way to honor him.

Once again, thanks to the Walsh family for this wonderful gift. It is the perfect memorial to the Dave Walsh I remember!

I followed my own rule - keep it short and to the point. So did the other speakers leading up to Carlin's speech. Carlin did a spectacular job. There wasn't a single dry eye anywhere, including Frank and Gloria as he honored his grandparents for honoring his father. A truly heartfelt speech that inspired us all.

All in all the best groundbreaking I have ever been to. A number of classmates were in attendance and I don't think any of us had a dry eye during Carlin's speech - it was that heartfelt and moving.

Time to get on with real things - later.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Ugly Pain of ...

It's Friday and thus time for

Five Clothing Scale Errors That Drive Me Crazy

As most of you know, I am not a tiny person - in fact not even normal size. Last I checked, I'm still about 6'5" and 300+ lbs. That means I don't buy clothing in the aisles of WalMart or Target. Clothing meant for us monsters is readily available elsewhere, but, and it is a big but, manufacturers don't make big clothing by doing a "fit the person" remodel. No, they simply take the pattern used for little people clothing and scale it so the some one measurement is in the ball park. The problem is that people generally don't scale linearly as they grow. Some are tall and thin, some are short and round, some have long torsos and short legs while others have long legs and short torsos, etc. Then there are people like me. I have the classic beer barrel on short stilts with gorilla arms and a bowling ball head build - and no neck. I'm serious, it seems that my chin is directly attached to my chest. Thus the topic of my Friday High Five this week. (Although it might better be titled Friday Low Five or Five Rants for Friday this week.)

  • Pockets do not scale well. I have shirts that I could easily carry a midget in the pocket. Same goes for the back pockets on pants.

  • Collars on shirts are too tall. When you have no neck, a collar can feel like a steel neck ring. Especially when it was scaled to a height to match the 20 inch non-neck scaling.

  • Long sleeves are not. I have exactly one long sleeved shirt. Unfortunately, I do have a number of 3/4 sleeve shirts that were purchased as long sleeved shirts.

  • Hats are just plain hard to find for people with big heads. (I heard that - it has nothing to do with egomania!)  With a 9 3/4 inch hat size, I can prove one size dosn't fit all.

  • And finally, the capstone of my litany of scale ills: manufacturers chintz out and use a standard length zipper on pants. Which means that get to "that certain part of the male anatomy", one has to pull the pants down because the zipper ends closer to the belly button than the crotch. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hi, my name is Dan and ...

Time once again for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge. This week the prompts are:
1.) What will you be doing now that the kids are back in school?
(inspired by Michelle from Honest And Truly)

2.) Things I have learned from my toddler.
(Inspired by Big Mama Cass from The World Through My Eyes).

3.) What would you put in your favorite things giveaway?
(inspired by Jill from Scary Mommy who is having a favorite things giveaway right NOW! Check it out!!)

4.) Hi, my name is ______ and I am a _______.
(inspired by Emmy from Emmy Mom One Day At A Time.)

5.) If these walls could talk...
(inspired by JennyMac from Let's Have A Cocktail)

So without further ado, here we go!

#1 - Given that the Son has been out of the house for a few years, I'll be doing the same things i was doing before school started! So I'll just have to look forward to the stories of escape from all the bloggers with young ones still at home.

#2 - One thing I learned (from a friend of the Son, not the Son) is that tykes can be both talented and obsessive. One day when the friend was over and the two of them were playing, I heard the ominous sounds of silence coming down the hall. When I went to investigate, I discovered the friend with a screw-driver of unknown origin taking the plates off the electrical plugs. I would have sworn they were too young to do that. We had the plug caps installed and the little guy didn't even bother with the caps and went straight for removing the plate. Turned out he had gotten in trouble for that particular act at home before trying it here. So there were several lessons there: 1) Never let 'em out of your sight, 2) Pay attention to the sudden appearance of silence, and 3) Check with the parents of playmates as to what they have been doing wrong at home *before* they come to spend the afternoon.

#3 - Being the nerd that I am, it would have to include computer arcana. I have a still operational TRS-80 calculator from 1980, a precursor of the notebook computer in that it is a cross between a scientific calculator and low capability computer. Mass storage via a cassette tape interface to a cheap handheld tape unit. Capable of running 100 line programs in Basic. Runs only on 4 mercury watch batteries, no AC power interface. Heck, I might even throw in one of my handcrafted multi-player space opera games I wrote for the beast back in 1981. That was a step up from the calculator games I wrote in the late 70's to sell to my fellow grad students since we all had similar calculators. {*grin*} Keep in mind that this is from a time before the IBM PC was even a gleam in anyone's eye. Here is the beast in all it's glory:
Up until a few years ago, I could also have included one of the first 100 HP LaserJet II's ever made. But I already gave that away, so ..

In other areas, I'd have to include some works from my library. Maybe the collected works of Robert Heinlein or Harlan Ellison. Maybe even some of the rare short stories from the 50's that are so hard to find now.

And food, I have to give away some food. Maybe a few zucchini. It is that time of year in the garden belt where anyone not guarding their door finds random bags of zucchini on their door step. (Someday I'll have to write up my zucchini spaghetti sauce - it is so good that we freeze zucchini to put in it all winter.)

#4 - Hi, my name is Dan and I am a Computer Whisperer! My deep, dark, and dirty secret that drives people crazy is that I am the Computer Whisperer. I can walk up to any computer, think a few good thoughts, say the appropriate words, and viola - everything starts working just fine.

If the computer has been freezing up on you for days, all I have to do is walk into the room and it behaves perfectly.

If you haven't been able to get that web site to accept your input and have resorted to sitting on hold for hours in the hope of getting through to customer support - just let me sit down at the keyboard and all will suddenly work and your order will be complete in seconds.

If you've been trying to get your printer to power on and/or unjam - let me caress it and it will work like a charm.

You keep getting the BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) - let me just touch the keyboard and the machine will run perfectly for hours.

In and of itself, being a Computer Whisperer is not calculated to drive people crazy. It is more calculated to make you really popular late at night around deadlines. The real issue is that people have been getting strange and irreproducible results for hours and have drug in other people to verify that it isn't working and I walk in and it starts working. You can see how that might rankle a bit. I have had my wife insist on other people coming over to see that her computer isn't working right because she knows when I walk in it will start working perfectly. And perhaps more annoying, all those vexed people know that as soon as I walk out of the room, their troubles will resume until I return. A good computer only responds to a Computer Whisperer it can hear and see.

The worst part is that I don't even have to know anything about the computer in question. I have been at sites with main frames down and waiting for the system engineers to arrive, walked into the computer room, and suddenly all is working again. Back in the early days of programmable calculators, my fellow graduate students used to come to my office so that their "broken" calculators would work long enough to finish the assignment. When I was at a national lab, I had a colleague that would drag me over to his area at lunch time just so his computer powered detector would work. (I got a lot of free lunches that way.) It's probably good I never became a system engineer - it's hard to repair that which works while you are there and then quits when you leave!

#5 - If these walls could talk, they'd talk of many things from the past. The house was built in 1961; we are only the second owners. And of course like any small town, we know the first owners. Not only know, but went to school with some of their kids and the male half of the couple is my ophthalmologist.

I have already heard the garage whisper about the time their son (also named Dan) came home a little uncertain behind the wheel and perhaps a bit under the influence and forgot the brakes. That is why the wall between the garage and the back porch looks a little bit newer than its other cousins.

I have also heard the wiring talk a bit about the winter power paranoia of the original owners. There is a hulking switch on the back porch that with a single flick could disconnect from the grid and connect to the diesel generator in the garage. When we converted the house from all electric (it was a Medallion All-Electric showplace when built), the connections to the switch and the generator itself went the way of the dodo bird. In its loneliness, the switch whispers sad stories of outages past.

The family room is big enough to host a small basketball tourney, but that is nothing compared to the 40+ tons of rocks under it. The now removed early solar heating system used them as a heat reservoir. The theory was to gather heat in the rocks all summer by collecting on the roof and then blowing the superheated air through the rocks to store the energy. One was then to blow air from the house through the rocks in winter to extract heat. Unfortunately, the company that made the system never got them to work properly before they faded from existence. So hot air was indeed blown into the rocks in the summer. But, it then leaked into the family room, making it too hot to sit in even with the air conditioning running. Then in the winter, the rock quickly cooled and spent the winter effectively cooling the room. Needless to say, that was one of the systems we first pulled out when we bought the house. Now all we hear are whispers of the long gone solar panels on the roof and the ever running fans in the rocks. The rocks themselves just sit and hunker in silence beneath the family room floor, hoping against hope that someday they will be useful once more.

Finally, there is my bathroom. We remodeled it a few years ago. Out went the pastel green tub and sinks and all the stories they could tell. In came the nice white. Out went the standard size cabinetry and in came the custom stuff that is 6 inches taller that standard. I can finally wash my face and shave without feeling like my head is between my knees. I can comb my hair without stooping. And the tile is laid in a pleasing mathematical pattern of my own devising. But the tile has whispered to me that some family members think the tile and pattern is more suitable to a Tijuana house of ill repute than to a sedate bathroom. Too bad - the tile and I have attained oneness. We have no desire to separated.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Semi-morbid Tuesday

The other day I happened to watch an episode of Nova on PBS and heard a brief discussion of how some people cannot stand not to know something while others resolutely do not want to know somethings. The discussion on Nova came up in the context of genetic testing - did people want to know if they carried a high risk gene versus not wanting to know.

I have a hard time with the not wanting to know idea since I am definitely a "I want to know!" type of guy. In discussions with friends, some have expressed the "I absolutely don't want to know!" sentiment. I cannot understand why anyone would not want to know. I guess that is because I am one of those people that feels a need to know about everything. One definition of what it is to be human claims that the crucial distinguishing characteristic of humans is the ability to spot patterns and plan accordingly. Not wanting to know seems a bit un-human in this light. In addition, I can make a simple logical case for wanting to knowing. Thus it would seem that the people who desire not to know must be illogical, un-human,  or basing the decision on emotion. I suspect it is emotion.

As a concrete example, suppose that one had the gene for Huntington's Disease. In spite of the fact that it is incurable and fatal in the long term, I'd want to know if I had it. I could then plan ahead to have various things in order. I could also avoid putting off doing things until later, like the proverbial "we'll travel a lot after we retire." It just seems that one could plan to re-order the normal activities and priorities of life to account for the changes in time-line and abilities in the final stages.

One of my friends made a strong case for not knowing in his case. His point was that since the end is so debilitating and involves losing so much of what he viewed as important for a desirable quality of life, once he knew he had it, he would have a very hard time not ending his life early in order to avoid the spiraling path of debilitation. I'm not sure whether I'd classify that as not wanting to know or if it was a case of not being able to handle the consequences of knowing in a manner that made him happy.

In any case, my question for the day is whether you want to know or not? Can you articulate why you feel the way you do? Would the severity of the end stages affect your desire to know/not know?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cool at last ...

Cool at last, cool at last, good gosh almighty, cool at last  ... (with apologies to Dr. Martin Luther King for paraphrasing and parodying)

Last night we got more rain, making a total of an inch and a half over two days. Understand that we normally get less that 12-14 inches a year our here. June was one of the wettest Junes on record here. July was pretty wet as well. August is getting up there now too. But that has nothing to do with today's topic per se. The key is that the rains have been cold and so cooled it off. Today it barely got above 70 and after all the days in the 80-105 range, it is a real cause for celebration.

My friend T calls this time of year (although normally in September) when the nights get cool and the days are comfortably nice as "sleeping weather." The days are perfect for getting things done; you feel energized with the ebbing of the heat. And the nights, oh my gosh the nights! They cool off and you can sleep the sleep of the dead and finally even use a *blanket*.

As you might guess, this is one of my favorite times of year. It signals the end of the drear heat of summer, but announces the beauty of the Indian summer that is now at hand. Maybe I am too close to the patterns of the weather, but I love the changes as the seasons pass. I especially love this season because it is associated in my mind with the start of football. The agony of practices and the joy of games, all of it. And it also means that we have only a while before frost  followed by real cold weather arrives

So what season is your favorite?

(L is still home and her brother and family are here visiting from Connecticut. L's niece is preparing to head off to college in a few weeks and it's fun to hear that excitement from a youngster. It's also clear that girls and boys look at the process and what is important very differently. Boys seem to be concerned with who has the stereo and who has the xbox and ... Girls seem to worry about things that most boys don't think about - like what color themes for the room and which roomie is bring the iron and ... 

Life will be returning to normal tomorrow and maybe I'll even have a longer post. {*grin*})

Odd Question of the Day

The odd question of the day for this Sunday evening is a simple one: do you ever find yourself wondering who the people are that appear and disappear from your followers list and/or feedburner subscribers? I know I do. It seems that at random times people disappear from the followers panel. In most cases, I have no clue who just dropped out. It seems that blogger ought to have log that the blog owner could consult to see who arrived and who left in a given time span for the follow list and the feed list.

Why you might ask? Well, I am one of those people that believes that if someone follows me, I should follow them if there is any easy way to do so on their blog. So it is really convenient to know who just signed on as a follower and especially which of the myriad of blogs listed in their profile is the one I should follow for maximum return on my reading time. (Admittedly, I can usually get a clue by looking at the last published dates on each of their blogs, but sometimes even that fails.) I can usually muddle through with the current information on this side of the follow issue, so I can't get too wound up about it.

But, and it is a big but, I have no idea who it was when someone stops following or drops the feed. And that is irksome to me for two reasons: 1) I don't know who to un-follow. {*grin*} and 2) I don't know if it was a long time reader who might have important words for me about why they exited (versus a fly-by follower that came on a whim and left the same way). It's not like this is a mega-blog with 500 followers. This is a small comfy blog that I as the author feel some connection with most of the readers. So when I notice that someone has headed off, I wonder who and why. Especially when in one case I know it was the same person following and then un-following every other day. That kind of pattern often makes me think that someone is doing a classroom experiment for a social studies class. {*grin/2*}

So I will leave you with two questions. Do you notice the follow and feed fluctuations on your blog? Or do you blithely ignore them? Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Five Random Annoyances ...

Time once more for:

Five Random Annoyances Whose Elimination Would Make Life Better
Mosquitoes - 'nuf said.

People who dither. Nothing is worse that getting a call from someone who has to describe the lint on their pants and the color of their dental floss before they finally get to the point of the call. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, not a random walk in the woods.

Mushy phone calls. Some people seem not to realize that as the charge on their cell phone goes down, the voice quality gets worse and worse. In fact, there are some people who call that I know well and yet the sound quality makes it so I can't understand a word they are saying, let alone recognize them.

Email forwarders. You know who I mean - the ones who insist on sending you all the old stale jokes and urban legends in existance. I find that once they have been reamed a new one by my response after the first time, the brighter ones tend not to do it again. See yesterdays post under chutzpah.

The Dog Days of August. Molly sheds long clumps of white hair at this time of year, depositing new tufts of fur within minutes of vacuuming. So the carpet looks like this:
(Sorry how hard it is to see the white Molly fur on the light carpet.)
It literally looks like I have a mad three year old barber wanna-be who attacked the dog all through the house.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bubble Bouncing Mania and Other Tales

Time once again for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge. This week the prompts are:
1.) Your trip to the ER...spill it.
(inspired by Stephanie from This Blessed Life).

2.) "Why are American's obsessed with weight? Why are we always fighting or complaining about what is natural for our bodies?"
(inspired by Jenn from Jenny Says What?)

3.) Describe one of your 'God Moments'.
(inspired by Jordan from Wide Open Spaces).

4.) List ten things you would say to ten different people in your life...if you had the hutzpah.
(inspired by Cassandra from Cassagram)

5.) Why is your kid in time out?
(inspired by Sera from Laughing Through The Chaos)
Without further ado, I give you the minimalist answers for this week.

#1 - Given I have only been to the ER a couple of times and there is only one of those trips where I would not be disclosing someone else's medical problem, my choice is easy. Thus, you get the case of broken arm. Or if you like odd titles, the case of Bubble Bouncer Mania.

I was in fifth grade and playing on the school basketball team against one of our arch-rival grade schools. (Even chubby kids get recruited to play basketball when they are taller that everyone else. {*grin*}) It was a hotly contested game with the lead changing hands multiple times. Late in the third quarter I went to block a shot by the other teams center and when all was said and done there were about five of us on the floor. I got up and the referee was shouting "Stop! Stop the game! That player has a broken arm!" So of course I looked around to see who was hurt and noticed that everyone was staring at me and turning green and pale. That was the first hint I had that it might be me the referee was talking about. The blood and the bit of bone sticking out of my arm made it clear it was indeed me. About then it started to hurt.

The school nurse and the principal splinted it loosely in old Life magazines and took me to sit in the office while they called mom to come get me. (This was in the days before the automatic ambulance calls and other over-reactions of modern society.) Mom arrived shortly and we set out on the journey to the hospital a few miles away. By now I was in definite pain. I mean the absolute, get sick to the stomach, gut wrenching kind of pain. So I am sitting in the passenger seat, holding my magazine cradled arm in my lap. And then we came to the railroad tracks. I swear that every track we crossed was like having giant spikes driven up my arm. We arrived at the hospital and shuffled into the ER. Like every hospital known to man, they had to take X-rays first before they could proceed. And then, finally, the nurse gave me a shot of pain killer preparatory to putting me under to fix my arm. No shot has even felt as good to get. Within a few minutes I was out cold, waking up many hours later in the hospital with my arm in a half-cast and immobilized, packed in ice. The end diagnosis was compound fracture of both bones in my right forearm.

The irony in this story is that I played football through college and even rugby after college and never once broke a major bone (fingers don't count). But playing grade school basketball is the one time I broke a bone and I did it spectacularly well. My arm is still crooked some 40++ years later and I still have the little scar where the bone poked out of the skin. And I still remember the thankfulness I felt as the nurse gave me that shot that stopped the pain.

#2 - I suspect that there are some who are obsessed and there are some who are not. I belive that those who are obsessed come from two points of influence.

I have strong belief that those who are truly obsessed are those most susceptible to TV and the media and the images projected and emphasized there. TV and the movies can subtly skew our beliefs of what is normal and what is desirable. The continuous bombardment by images emphasizing certain physical traits makes the tolerance and acceptance of those that don't meet those ideals even harder. When you have an arbiter of taste and preference that the average American is exposed to for 6 hours a day or more, cultural norms go by the wayside.

With that said, I suspect that the other side of the issue is that we are amidst the first of the generations facing the easy availability of excess calories. At the turn of the last century, the working farm male often burned more than 8000 calories per day. Today there are few occupations where an adult male burns more than 2000 calories per day. In that same period, food has moved from reap and prepare your own to mass preparation with salt and fat loading, boosting the available calories by huge amounts. We (human beings) have not adapted to those rapid changes. For the last 40,000 years or more, it was a huge survival advantage if your body stored fat during times of plenty to cover the times of famine and want. There is a reason that stone age fertility images are of what we would today consider obese women. It meant that they were able to store enough during times of plenty that they could successfully birth and nurture offspring during times of want. That same genetic adaptation in this time of more uniform and abundant supply leads to obesity and the associated diseases.

So my conclusion is that the current obsession is due to a) susceptibility to media and b) uncertainty due to changing external conditions which undermines listening to the body.

#3 - One can have many God moments on the journey through life, but the one that sticks with me the most was shortly after the birth of the Son. (Some background: L and I had been married for 14 years and had given up on having kids when we found out we were going to have the Son. Because of our age, we had undergone aminocentrisis, even though we had already decided that he would have to have a defect that was fatal and painful before we would do anything. We figured this was the one miracle we were going to get and weren't going to give it up.)

The Son was born healthy, but shortly thereafter was failing to thrive and in fact had fallen deathly ill. We went to the pediatrician early in the week and when we came in later in the week, the pediatrician wanted to know if we wanted to take the Son to Denver to Children's Hospital (some 130 miles away) ourselves or by ambulance. L immediately set off and I followed and spent several days there. I vividly remember pacing up and down the halls of Children's Hospital, The Son in one hand and the other hand pushing the IV pole and monitors connected to the Son. I remember going through the classic conversation with God. You know the one - where you ask God if he can't take you and let the Son live. L stayed in the Son's room and I was staying at the Ronald McDonald House.I can remember heading back to the room and calling the grandparents to update them and then just collapsing on the bed. And I can remember waking up and feeling that somehow this day was different. And heading back over to see L and the Son and finding that the Son was improving and should get well now. That was a God moment.

#4 - I don't know that I have anything to add here. I have never been noted for lacking chutzpah (note the corrected spelling - {*grin*}). I generally say what I think without much regard for the consequences. I've noted before that I am a curmudgeon. That was not hyperbole on my part. I once told the Chairman/CEO of the company I was working for that he "had the brains of a kumquat" during a meeting when he was insistent on following an illogically boneheaded path. (Interestingly, I wasn't fired immediately either.)

#5 - He's not. Given the Son is old enough to vote and other such signs of adulthood, I doubt that trying to send him to the corner for a timeout will help much. At this point, you hope he has learned enough to make the right decisions on his own. All we can do is watch and hope and pray and cheer.

Tuesday Quickie

Today started with a physician recruitment breakfast at 7:30am and ended with a long winded city council meeting that finished at 10:00pm. No wonder Tuesdays just seem to be long.

My "Two fer Tuesday" random rants:
Why is there such a mismatch in the volume levels on TV? Not only do the ads blare well above program levels on any given station, but switching channels is almost guaranteed to either blow an eardrum or force one to lip read. Given the technology of automatic gain controls and standardized equipment, there is no reason we should have to suffer this way.

What ever happened to DWIM (Do What I Mean) computer interfaces that were touted so highly back in the early days of personal computing? The idea was intriguing, the prototype implementations showed promise, and then the rigidity of KWM (Keyboard Windows Mouse) interfaces took over. Seems like times are ripe for a resurgence - especially for cell phone type devices.

Time to head for bed so I can amble down to the radio station in the morning.

Monday, August 10, 2009


This is a picture of King Beauregard III - otherwise known as Beau. He was our dog before Molly. Beau was with us for many years until he finally passed away of old age. Here he's curled up by the garage door napping away.

The Son grew up with Beau and grew very deeply attached to him over the years. Beau originally came to live with us via the sneaky ploy of "employees call and ask grandma to bring the Son down to work where they have Beau waiting and then suggest that he ask his parents if he could keep him." No chance of saying no then. Beau was already 3 years old when we met him; he had been in an abusive situation and so had to find a new home. A full pedigreed Bassett Hound (with the corresponding long title) but he was always just plain old Beau to us.

Beau was a big one for curling up with certain of the Son's old stuffed animals. Judging by the size of the Son's BVDs wrapped around the stuffed dog, I'd guess that the picture is from about 10 years ago.

Beau's death was hard on all of us, but especially the Son. L sometimes still calls Molly by the name Beau when she is distracted. May he rest in peace!

This post is in response to the tag I got from Margaret of Facts From A Fact Woman last week. I normally don't continue to propagate old memes, but I am willing to participate. I did make the change to the 15th photo since I did the 10th photo version last year. In any case, consider yourself tagged if you so desire. The rules are:
►Open your first photo folder
►Scroll down to the 10th photo.
►Post that photo and the story about that photo on your blog.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Weekend

This weekend was interesting.  (Pay attention since there are questions to be answered!) The weekend started early when L came in Thursday evening while I was still at the county fair manning the EMS authority information booth.

To be truthful, I should have said I was helping pick up what was left of the EMS booth. After a day with temperatures in the 100+ range, the evening storms really built up and about 6:30 it started to rain. We weren't worried. But then the wind started to whip and we were struggling like mad to keep our tent on the ground. Stakes and counter-weights didn't seem to do much good in the face of the severe wind. The Army tent/booth next to us was utterly destroyed in no time. So were all the others we could spot through the sheets of water and the wind.  We managed to keep our tent on the ground, but the chairs and literature and even tables took to the air, some never to be found. About the time steel picnic tables started flying past us in mid-air, we called it a day. We cut the canvas anchor ropes so the frame wouldn't fly off and bean someone, and then sprinted to shelter under the grandstand. We found out later that the wind was measured at 80-85 mph. The sheriff and his crew was busy evacuating the people in the grandstand seats for the rodeo, moving them to the shelter under the grandstand. It was the first time in anyone's memory that the grandstand had to be evacuated (the grandstand holds ~15,000 people when full). An hour later it all was clear, but the carnival rides and the outdoor booths were down for the count until they could be checked and re-erected. Needless to say, we packed up what we could gather and called it a day at the booth. The wind and rain had built up coming down from Denver and then got really feisty when they heat fueled out here on the plains. A lot of tree limbs and trees were down along with numerous power line breaks throughout town. That coupled with flooding made for an interesting evening for the emergency crews. But it did drop the temperature into the 60s. A lot of hard work by everyone and the fair continued on and most of the trees are cleaned up. Just another blowy day on the plains.

Friday when I was at the grocery store, I ran into the brother of a high school classmate. He said his brother was coming down for the western show Saturday and he was having a "small" party for a hundred people before the concert. His brother is a high school classmate of both L and I that we hadn't seen in a few years, so we said we'd drop by. When I told L of the party and where it was at, she made the remark that this was the only place she knew of where people built garages specifically with holding parties in mind. I disagreed. Understand that these are not run of the mill garages. They typically have running water and tiled floors and big screen tvs and ... They might work on a car or truck in them, but they are more used to hold parties (and they are not small - 4-7 car size). So my questions to you are: 1) Have you ever attended a party held in a garage? and if so 2) Was it a fancy garage of a plain old shop type garage?

Saturday morning we did yard work to clean up and I got to mow the lawn. L and her mother headed off to watch the fair parade while I battled a broken cable on the lawn mower. They then went out to the fair and got a hamburger (why do hamburgers grilled in the open at the fair taste so good?). We spent the afternoon doing miscellaneous tasks, napping, and then getting ready for the party.

We had a good time and some excellent margaritas Saturday evening at the party along with good conversations. The classmate who was down from Boulder and I go back to grade school. We were the iron horse champions of 4th and 5th grade and were on the same wrestling team in high school. I can remember writing his book reports in grade school in return for being invited over to his house to watch the original campy Batman series on their {*gasp*} color tv (one of the few I knew of at that time). He hit a bad patch after high school and ended up serving a few years in prison. He was one of those people where prison was the wake up call they needed and it really turned him around. He's been a real straight arrow for the last 30 years since then. It was good to talk to him again.

When the revelers left for the concert on the tour bus (the classmate runs a tour bus on the side to take people to tailgate at the Broncos games and to squire around celebrities - it is all fitted out with leather couches and signed autograph galleries of all the country western stars he has transported) so that there were no drunk driving issues, we took our leave and headed to mom's house. We had been invited to come rejoin the party after the concert, but demurred - we're getting too old for that 4am partying! Spent a bit of time visiting with mom and then headed back home.

Today L had to head back early to the mountains since she had a social function to attend. She was going to pick the Son up from a concert he had bicycled to and then proceed to the function. The party featured a local singer/guitarist (as both performer and honoree) that they both wanted to hear, so I suspect they were happy. Molly moped and I watched a bit of the inagural pre-season football game to pass the evening. Yea Football!!!!!

So what did you do for the weekend? And don't forget to answer the garage questions!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Guilty Musical Pleasures

Time once more for:

A sad fact of life is that we all have music we love and listen to that doesn't conform to our normal tastes or likes. In fact, this music is often embarrassing to admit that we listen to, let alone like. Thus I present for your aural edification my escapes from my normal Iron Butterfly tainted taste buds.

Five Guilty Musical Pleasures

Pussycat Dolls - Don't Cha Busta Version - click here (video embedding disabled)

Ashlee Simpson - Boyfriend - click here (video embedding disabled)

The Veronicas - 4Ever

The Veronicas - When It All Falls Apart

Heart - What About Love

So what are your guilty musical pleasures? C'mon - I know you have some.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Sock Recovery Tool and Other Stories

Time once again for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge. This week the prompts are:
1.) What's ailing you? Diagnose yourself with a syndrome.

(inspired by Kimberly from Kamp KK)

2.) Share with us something you made by hand.
(inspired by Texan Mama via email)

3.) Fess up. Tell us what you found after a spying on someone.
(inspired by The Scattered Mind of a Tattooed Mini Van Mom)

4.) "How are y'all doing it? This summer, I mean? I cannot remember ever being as busy as we've been over the past two months. Those of you who are blogging daily, being as witty and entertaining as ever...I beg of you...HOW?"
(inspired By Lula from Lulaville)

5.)What are you afraid of?
(inspired by Life With Kaishon)

#1 - I'm currently suffering from two deadly syndromes. I don't know which will get me first, but I do know that both are fatal.

The first is the dreaded ILMWS (I Love My Wife Syndrome). That means that I miss her a lot when she is forced to stay in the mountains for weeks at a time for business. Unfortunately, I suffer from the lesser rather than the greater version of this syndrome. In the greater version, amo meus uxor maximus, you pine away and eventually fade away due to not eating. In the lesser version, amo meus uxor grunnio, you make a lot of really high calorie food and eventually die from bacon overdose. In either case, the prognosis is not good.

The second syndrome is CAIS (Computer Addicted Idiot Syndrome). You know you have this ugly affliction when you keep thinking "I can read one more blog post before I absolutely positively have to get up and go to the bathroom." and you do this repeatedly until the sprint is on. You also know you are on the verge of progressing into the final stages when you find yourself drooling over ads for new computers, even if you already have several working machines at hand. In the last stage, you stop talking to anyone in real life - often insisting that the people you know from blogging are more real than the annoying ghosts trying to keep you from spending yet more time on the computer.

#2 - The only things I've made by hand in the last couple of weeks are large piles of vegetation like this:
as I cleaned out the volunteer elms and sumac and weeds from the back yard. Of course if we aren't restricted to the last couple of weeks, I always have my patent-pending, Rube Goldberg approved, behind-the-dresser and behind-the-dryer sock recovery tool (you'll have to click on the image to see the full details of the exquisite construction):
Note the full utilization of the the bent coat hanger, duct tape, and a dowel stick to make a tool of extreme beauty. I know you just must have one of these fine tools! {*grin*}

#3 - I'm going to give this a pass. Most of the spying I have dome has been as part of work related activities and isn't meant to be disclosed. I haven't spied (or even stalked) any relatives because I believe that their life is their own to handle in the way they see fit. (Or mess up as they see fit as well.)

#4 - The simple answer is that I'm not doing it all. I am not blogging as much as I did in the past winter. For the nonce, I am generally not posting on the weekends. That is because I have other things to do and it is generally the only time L and I have together. So then the question becomes blog or spouse? If you chose blog, I think you are in the final stages of CAIS. Seek help, immediately.

#5 - Usually not much, but ... This week while doing all the bushwhacking in the back yard brought forth a couple of anxiety producing happenings. (No, I don't mean I tried to chop off a leg or arm with the ax. Cheesh!) When you chop, cut, and pull that much underbrush out, you disturb every bug and crawlie known to man and some not yet known ones as well. There is nothing like the feeling of a few bugs crawling around inside your shirt to induce the rapid removal of same. I don't know how people of the female persuasion do it - having to go inside before removing the shirt and beating the snot out of the creepy crawlies that is. I'm much more in favor of the immediate gratification of just yanking the shirt off and flailing away. How about you? I figure that anyone who looks deserves the nightmares they'll suffer from seeing my bare torso.

Of course, the evening that I whacked and piled all the brush made the backyard into a bird smörgåsbord. There were literally scenes like this one from the Hitchcock classic "The Birds"
going on all over the yard. At twilight, there must have been 300 birds gathered to feast on all the bugs and crawlies that were now exposed. When you see that many birds all staring intently and eating anything that moves, you can really believe that birds are the last of the dinosaurs. My only regret is that it came after it was too dark for me to get some pictures. I think the bird telegraph must have really spread the word that there was a free feast. At least a couple of every kind of bird from around here except for the turkey buzzards (thank heavens - they are the bad neighbor of birds and the largest crappers in the universe) showed up to feast. Wrens and sparrows and crows and bluebirds and swallows and doves and thrushes and ... All getting along with no territorial battles since there was so much food for the pecking.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

And Now For ...

And now for something completely different.

Do you ever find that there are things that inspire emotions in yourself and yet have no logical connection to the emotion? For example, do you ever see a storm rolling in and experience a set of emotions in no way related to any storm experiences in your past? I do. Sometimes inane things bring forth emotions that I can see no logical relation to the thing that evoked the experience.

Tonight as I was coming home from the city council work session, I was thinking a bit of the county fair which is now going on. But I happened to be driving past a well lit section of the downtown and the shadow and hue of the lighting caused a distinct feeling of elation. For absolutely no reason that I can ascertain. That ever happen to you?

Getting back to reality, the work session this evening was with the firm doing the water and sewer rate studies for the city. All preliminary at the moment and about as dry as it can get. But, ... Never let an engineer with power point loose on a captive audience. I was tired anyway from finishing up the great tree cleanup in the heat earlier in the day, so having someone recite their power point presentation just didn't lead me to feel the experience was worthwhile. I could have read the presentation in a tenth of the time and not wasted those hours. Oh well, maybe someday I'll get a chance to bore him to death in return.

It is still warm at 10pm here, above 80. Typical weather for July and August, but completely atypical for what has happened thus far this year. It makes Molly and I sit around with our tongues hanging out. Add to it the swarms of little itty bitty mosquitoes and life is one continuous annoyance. I figure it will get worse on Thursday because that is the day I have booth duty at the fair for the EMS authority campaign. Our booth is outdoors, in the sun, and open walled. So I figure it will be 100+ degrees and windy. Either that or it will turn freezing. (The last time I had booth duty was for the school bond effort a few years ago. It had been hot and dry  right up until that day, then it suddenly turned cold and poured rain. Not only was no one coming by the booth, but I was cold and miserable too.)

Time for me to make a few notes for the radio show in the morning and head for the bed. I'm still debating about getting up early so i can hit the cowboy pancake breakfast on the way to the station. Decisions, decisions.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What I Did Today

Today I decided to finish cleaning up all the volunteer growth in the back yard. With all the rain and cool weather earlier in the year, volunteer elms and sumac and weeds went wild. At the start it looked like this:
After a miserable day in the 100 degree heat, things began to look more presentable. Like this:
Now all that is left for tomorrow is chopping all the trees and limbs up and carrying it out to the alley to be hauled away. Sometime this fall it will be time to pull all the creeping vine and then rake all the pine needles. At that point it will be clean for another year (and we'll be able to see the rock under the pines for a brief while).

I didn't have to work alone today. Molly the wonder dog thought it was a good time to explore the forbidden side of the yard with me. (Molly is kept on the other side of the back yard and only rarely gets to run wild on this side.)
You can tell by her lolling tongue that it was warm. I kept refilling her water dish with cold water, so she had no interest in going back into the house. She wanted to explore worse than she wanted to be cool.

I did find some interesting things as I was bushwhacking. For example, the volunteer sumac was fruiting. (Looks a lot like bunches of grapes, doesn't it?)

There were also some interesting sentimental things to be found in the trees as well. Way back when they were young, the Son and his cousin used to play in the pine trees, using cord to tie things in the trees, etc. Now all these years later, some of the cords are working free. I found this on the ground under the pine in the corner:
It's mate is still tied to a branch up in the tree.

I'm tired and sore, so its time to go shower and then relax. So what did you do today?

The Weekend

This weekend was a mixed bag, matched to the weather. It was in the 80's Saturday, but today was close to 100 today and the rest of the week looks to be back to the normal toasty warmth.

Saturday started by picking up mom and going to cut some rhubarb. Given that L and the Son love rhubarb sauce (the Son with ice cream), one can never have too much rhubarb. Unfortunately, there wasn't much in the friends patch where we went to pick. We got what there was and headed out.

On the way home, we stopped by my place to pick up some tools and then headed back to mom's place. While she snapped green beans picked from the garden and chopped up the rhubarb, I trimmed a few trees that were too close to the house and then set up the onion racks. The early onions are getting ready to be picked and then finish drying on the sun racks before storage. I'm getting an education in onions, since some of the varieties haven't lived up to expectation this year. Don't know whether it is the strange weather this year or just the varieties.

It seems that many plants have been confused by the weather this year. Our peppers and cantaloupes have blooms galore, but very few peppers or cantaloupes have set on. The winter squash have been very slow to set on squash and may not make it to maturity before the freezing weather arrives. The turnips and kohlrabi have done well, as did the radishes. The beans are doing fine and the cucumbers are just starting to be ready as are the zucchini. The tomatoes are doing just great after looking like they were going to die early in the year. One crop that has thrived with the moist and cool early summer has been the weeds. The Canadian thistle seems to grow inches a day if you don't keep after it.

After finishing at mom's house, I came home and mowed the lawn and did some trimming and then got cleaned up to attend the birthday party of my writer friend. This was his last chance to celebrate being a twenty-something before he hits the big 30 next year. His dad hosted a BBQ in his honor, so we had corn on the cob, BBQ'd sausage, jalapeño baked beans, fruit, salad, and other goodies. Then we topped it off with an ice cream cake just before the host had to go on an emergency call (he is a vet and runs a small animal clinic, so he many times gets called out in the evening).

It was a good party with good friends. My friend T, who had serious back surgery a while ago was there. He's still in a neck collar and moves like a stiff robot, but at least he can feel his fingers again. He's off the morphine and down to percocet, hoping to be off the pain meds entirely in a short while. It will be interesting to see how the recovery goes; it was just good to see him up and about and showing some of his old vim and vinegar.

Given that the birthday boy and I both share a rather twisted sense of humor, I made him take an oath to become the "official" crank handler for the office of the mayor before I'd let him open his present. I then gave him a sample of what he was going to have to handle that left him grinning from ear to ear. (Most people don't realize it, but mayors get an interesting amount of crank mail from causes near and far. After all, it is easy to get the address of mayors and if they bite it means a PR gem. At least the cranks that mail generally aren't quite as odd as the tin foil hat people.) I also gave him a copy of a short story he has been desiring for a while. It is one of those out-of-print classics that are a must read in the genre; I had loaned it to him a while ago and he was duly impressed by it. I think he enjoyed getting the copy.

Today was a lazy day. It was up to 90 by 10am, so I made the strategic decision to relax and read the Sunday paper. That plus my beloved crossword puzzles and some work on the computer made it a fun day. Talked to L in the evening (she was stuck in the mountains again this weekend) and she said it was once again raining and cold up there. It has been rainy and cold for most of the last couple of weeks up there, even leaving a dusting of snow on the hills one day. Seems weather is like water - you could make a lot of money if you could move it from one place to another at a low cost.

Enough drivel for tonight. More later.
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