Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Omnious Sound Of ...

Tonight marked the early signs of the cicadas. There were a few out and making their droning racket as Molly and I braved the heat to go walking. Cicadas always amaze me. Years underground and then a metamorphosis followed by a short but intense life above ground. I always wondered about the poor cicadas who aren't synchronized to the same n year cycle as the masses. I suspect they feel like the unpopular kids in school: they know there is something they are missing but aren't quite sure what.

Cicada nymphs burrow underground and feed on sap from plant roots. The length of time they spend in this subterranean existence varies from 2 to 17 years, depending on the species.

When they are ready to become adults, the nymphs tunnel to the surface and crawl up on the side of the nearest object. Then the skin splits down the middle of their back and they emerge to inflate and dry their wings. This is done at night. So by day, one often spots the dried husks sitting empty on branches and trunks:

The winged adults fly around a bit, but spend most of their time sitting on trees and vertical surfaces. The males make the tremendous droning noises trying to attract the females. In the winged adult state, they look like this:

I'm not sure if this is the year of the mass emergence of the locals or if there will be but a few stragglers. I remember some years ago when L and I had just started up a new company and we had our newly hired marketing director out here in the boonies doing a corporate branding and imaging exercise. The meeting was in August and the cicadas were in full throat. The drone during the day was loud enough to drown out conversation as we walked on the sidewalk. Nanette, our new marketing director, had never heard cicadas before. When she inquired what the noise was, we showed her a few in the trees and some husks on the ground. It scared her enough that she was unwilling to spend much time outdoors after that. She thought the sound was horrifying; we thought it was a normal part of summer.

So what do you think? Scary or neat? (If you have never heard a cicada, you can visit the Cicadas of Michigan site to hear recordings of ten of the species native to Michigan)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

VBS and Other Tales

It must be time for VBS (Vacation Bible School) in this neck of the woods.

Why you ask?

Well ... we have had severe thunderstorm warnings, a tornado warning, and even a brief flash flood warning in the last 4 days. All in the late afternoon or early evening. When did VBS begin at church and what time does it meet? I'll give you three guesses and won't even count the first two.

Tonight brought forth water and more water as it thundered and poured water in sheets. Of course the gutters on the house chose then to suffer downspoutnodrainus, a nearly always fatal disease caused by pine needles in the craw, i.e.

The water was cascading out of the gutter and everywhere except out of the downspout. Me being me, I decided then would be a good time to unplug the downspouts while I waited for my chicken to finish baking. No need to get a hose or turn on the water; mother nature is dumping enough you can't even see your hand in from of your face.
(No wonder - my arms have shrunk so I can't possibly see them!)

As I am standing there with my arm in the air and my hand in the overflowing gutter, pulling pine needles out of the downspout and enjoying the icy water running down the inside of the sleeve of my rain coat, across my chest, through my pants. down my leg, and into my shoe, the thought crosses my mind about possible obituary headlines for when I am struck by all the lightning flashing nearby. (And how is that for a run-on sentence?) Some of the better ones included phrases like "Dumbass Former Mayor Dies Holding Hand in Air During Lightning Storm", "Idiot Gets Grounded Just Before ...", or even "Franklin's Experiment Sans Kite Proves Fatal To ...', etc. The worst thing was that the ice water running through my pants was the most thrilling moment of my day. It's been all downhill after that.

I suppose my thoughts of electrocution came from replacing the heating element in the oven earlier this afternoon. Nothing like throwing both stove breakers (Ask me how I first learned that there were two double breakers for the stove.) and unplugging the (3) cords from the stove before disassembling the lower oven to pull out the old element and put in the new one. I have to hand it to GE. The stove was a high end model purchased by the people we bought the house from more than 20 years ago. In that time I have had to replace the broiler element and now the oven element. Never a problem with the burners or the built in microwave or the computer ... Had to replace a little plastic knob on the cleaning timer, but not much else. they just don't build 'em like that anymore.

Time to go put on dry pants. The thrill is gone. {*grin*}

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Lady In The Evening

Tonight as I was heading off for my walk, I ran into a lady I haven't seen for a while. I went to school with her son and was a patient of her husband in my long ago school years. So I said hi and she said hi and we continued on with our lives.

But ... as I walked, I found myself thinking how unfair life has been of late to her. Several years ago she waged an epic battle against cancer, a battle that most had given up on her winning. It was a close thing, but she survived, although as a fragile shell of her previous self.

After that harrowing experience, you would hope that she and her husband of more than 50 years might be able to enjoy a few of their sunset years. Just kick back and be able to watch life pass by together. It just isn't to be. Her husband has developed progressively worse Alzheimer's Disease. So she is now devoted to taking care of (and zealously protecting) him.

Even two years ago, he was outside and taking care of the lawn, washing the car, visiting. He drove his wife to her treatments, etc. Now he is confined to the house or he wonders off. Every day there is less of the man, father, and husband that he used to be still present. Every day is closer and closer to the horizon where he will not be able to remain at home. How unfair is that?

It brought forth memories of L's dad journeying through the throes of Alzheimer's Disease. I remember finding him standing in our back yard, puzzled and frustrated by his inability to open the gate. A gate secured by a simple lift latch. And him having owned and operated hardware stores for much of the time I knew him. I remember thinking then how unfair it was to him and his family, even as there was less and less of the man I knew present every day.

And so I felt great sympathy for the lady and her family.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Excuses, Excuses, ...

Time for me to continue being the bad summer blogger that I have become. If I were the type for confession, I'd have to begin with "Forgive me father for I have sinned. It has been one week since my last blog post..." I actually have been busy for the last week and the blog took the back seat to real life. In the words of that famous aphorism, "Shit happens!"

What have I been doing? Well ... on the work side I am trying to keep everything on track for our upcoming 5K Run and Pet Walk. So I have been doing everything from artwork procurement to tee shirt manufacture. And of course still working on all the contracts to get our new facility constructed. And trying to get all the staff through FEMA certification and then CART certified so we can proceed with the plans for our expanding role in emergency preparation (with some of the staff definitely exhibiting a bit of resistance to getting trained). (I would never have believed the number of youngsters that have deep seated fears of web based learning.)

On the personal side, my annual medical tests a few weeks ago indicated that the beta cells in my pancreas finally gave up the ghost. Now, after decades of all sorts of drugs and hormones to trick my liver, pancreas, and muscle cells to make up for the ever decreasing number of beta cells (and thus less insulin production) to keep my blood glucose under control, I am a fully insulin dependent diabetic. The last week has been consumed with the process of adjusting dosages and timings for the daily injections of insulin, working with the fact that walking 6 miles can drop the blood glucose levels radically. Now my walks require a bit of forethought and preparation that was absent before.

The process has been interesting. Modern diabetic injection equipment uses such fine needles that the shots are painless.
It's hard to convince yourself that it isn't going to hurt to stick a needle in yourself, but after a few times with no pain, the mind begins to accept it. There are definite advantages to the insulin treatment compared to the oral drugs and hormones. The biggest plus from my point of view is that the chronic muscle pain has faded - which is great. The biggest drawback thus far is the number of finger sticks to test glucose level as we (my internist and I) try to get the base levels of insulin right. I'll try to put together a post on the whole experience later on if anyone is interested.

I have been so busy that I haven't had time to even open the box with the new printer that arrived via FedEx. I'll wait to disclose more until I can do my thank you up right. I'll leave you with the teaser that I won it on another blog. (Yeah, shocked me too.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Heat is On

So much for the summer cold front. It was truly glorious while it lasted, but the reminder of fall and the coming of winter was brief. As I write, the temperature is hovering between 105 and 108 depending on which of my two shade thermometers you believe. Needless to say, tonight's walk is going to be late in the evening and warm.

Speaking of which, I have upped my daily walking to 6 miles a day from 5. It is just enough extra that Molly gives hints that we should turn towards home every time we pass a possible turn off in that last mile. But when I say "Not yet, we still have further to go." she takes it in stride. It hasn't dampened her eagerness when I put on the ear buds and pick up the leash, signaling it is time to head on out.

Which segues naturally into my question of the day: which one or two out of three would you choose? Now that you are bewildered, the question comes from listening to Meatloaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" last night as I walked. In the ballad, the three refers to the infamous triad of "I want you. I need you. I love you."

Aw heck, just take a quick listen, I'll wait:

In any case, it led my mind to ponder the question(s):
  • If you only get one of the three in a relationship, which one?
  • If you only get two of the three in a relationship, which two?
I assume we all want all three in our ideal relationship, so the question is moot for the case of three. My own answers for the one and two cases are predictable to those who know me. If I only get one, make it love. If I only get two, make it love and want. But I know people who would answer differently, so what are your answers?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Cold Front

The thunder and lightning and rain of last night foretold the arrival of something rare out here on the high plains: a summer cold front. After weeks of daytime highs in the upper 90's and lower 100's, today it barely made it to the mid 60's. Sleeping weather as I like to say.

It was cool enough that when Molly and I took our walk tonight, I actually wore a jacket. Of course I had to shed it a few miles into the walk because it wasn't that cool. {*grin*}

I'm off to enjoy the sleeping weather while it lasts, but I cannot resist ... How about them Rockies? Bottom of the ninth homers to win two nights in a row!

(Picture courtesy School For Champions.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Don't Believe Everything ...

Don't believe everything you see on Google. I tell people that all the time. Now I have a perfect example of why you shouldn't believe Google.

This weekend and today, my front door was besieged by people knocking and asking if this was indeed the humane society. (OK, 5 or so people which counts a siege out here. {*grin*}) I'd tell them no and then give them the right number to call. But I also was very curious as to why people suddenly thought my house was the humane society. All of them said that this was the address the internet told them. I put 2 and 2 together and figured it was something odd on Google.

Sure enough, if you search for Logan County Humane Society, right there in the first page of results sits this little gem:
Note that it does indeed have one of the LCHS (Logan County Humane Society) numbers listed, but every other detail is wrong. Who knew Google could be so completely off the wall?

Unable to leave it at that, I clicked through - lo and behold the idiocy continues:

There are so many wrongs here it is painful. The picture in the lower right is indeed 510 Glenora via the Google cam car and is indeed my house. But Google has it labeled internally as 514. The map is correct. But ....

The Logan County Humane Society is not a county agency, it is a 501(c)3 corporation with no association to the county. 510 Glenora is my house, nothing to do with the humane society. The nearby places in Yuma, CO - are close to 60 miles down the road, etc.

I filed the forms to get this removed and corrected, but Google is noted for being slow to fix egregious errors like this. So keep your eye out to see how long it takes them to fix it. Click here to see the Google maps page in real time.

In the mean time I sent the county commissioners an email chiding them for their aggressive take over of private property for new secret offices. Wonder if they'll catch the humor?

Time to go answer the door again. Only another 20,000 door knocks to go and I will have explained that this is not the humane society no matter what Google says to everyone in the county.

(Given the severe thunderstorm warning and thunder booming happening at the moment, Molly is busy laying on my feet and begging for reassurance, not answering the door. Probably a good thing. A dog answering the door might encourage people to believe this really is the humane society.)
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