Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today Is Living

My brother Dennis died at the young age of 67. Born on February 7, 1943, Dennis was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's less than two years ago. Rapidly progressing and destroying brain function, the disease claimed his life this morning -- November 30, 2010.

Dennis and I were born three years apart and born after our older sister, Lois. Dennis and I left our Wisconsin farm home at the same time in 1962. That was when I headed to Madison to complete my university education. Dennis joined the Air Force.

Individually, Dennis and I pursued our separate lives far from our folks and relatives in Wisconsin. After Dennis retired from the Air Force after 23 years, he and his family resided in California and eventually in Oregon. Most of my working years were in Colorado. With our geographic separation, we rarely saw each other.

Meeting Dennis and his wife Karen for a recent August breakfast in Salem, Oregon, it was a shock to realize that Dennis did not recognize me. The Alzheimer's had already claimed much of his brain and function to the point that he had essentially regressed to a child like state.

Karen, daughters Stacie and Candi, friends and local hospice were Dennis' support for his last days allowing him to stay at home where he died.

There are lots of one line quotes about living each and every day to the fullest. It is the personal experience of a younger brother dying that makes the advice all the more real.

Yesterday and tomorrow are only thoughts. Today is living.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Friday Preferred Location

...was atop this ridge with this creosote bush enjoying the clear air and admiring the view.

At the same time according to internet news, 138 million were expected to be shopping at the malls and big box stores on Black Friday. Some were shopping at midnight. Sounds like insanity to me.

Have to wonder.... Where did they come up with that 138 million. That is 44% of the US population of 311 million people (according to the US census web site). Seems amazing when one thinks about 44% of the population shopping.

With 21% of the population under the age of 14, those probably weren't shopping. Another 10% are over 70 years of age -- probably not big time shoppers. Recent number of unemployed is at just over six million for another two percent and shouldn't be shopping. Then there are those who are employed and not out shopping. Based on more government data, there are about 140 million in the work force. Make the wild assumption that 70 million of those are working on that Friday for another 22%. About 1% of the population is institutionalized in some form or another.

That leaves a very small percentage who don't shop -- or at least weren't shopping. Good for them.

Considering I was in the over 70 category, I had better things to do.

Postscript: The shopping didn't end on Black Friday. The following Sunday I was driving past a shopping center and noticed there was not a parking space to be had on the far edges of the parking lot.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Bit Cold Here

Staying current with weather around the country, a low of 29 doesn't sound too bad, but I didn't think Palm Springs would drop to those low temps. But it did. Fortunately, that was outside. Took a while, but with clear skies, the sun was welcome and managed to get the temps up to a shorts attire day of 63.

Once it warmed up, it was time to relocate to another Palm Springs area RV park for the next month -- perhaps longer. Predictions are for continued warming with highs back in the 70s in a few days. Looking forward to sprawling on a rock and absorbing heat -- like this lizard.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre Thanksgiving Hike

With the prospect of Thanksgiving just a few days away, it seemed a good idea to get out for some hiking to prepare for the inevitable over eating -- of something.

Along with cooler weather across the US, Palm Springs wasn't left out. Mid 60s is the predicted high temperatures for the week with lows in the 40s. Those cooler temperatures were created by the retailers to get shoppers into the warm stores on the upcoming Black Friday.

Cool weather is good hiking weather as long as I don't start to early in the morning. 50 degree temperatures and a wind can make the shorts seem like a bad idea. But I tough it out -- for a while. The intended destination was the Herman Trail at Coachella Valley Preserve. After slugging it out for some time, I arrived at the trail head. Noting the switch backs ahead, I no longer cared about hiking and called that point the end of the trail.

Nature's beauty of desert flora with an occasional oasis provide marvels of survival in an arid terrain. At a palm oasis, I wondered why there were the sharp serrations (checked it out -- it hurts) along the axil of the frond of the California Fan Palm. An interesting evolutionary adaptation for some reason. Can't imagine what.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stylish Fins

A car show and auction in Palm Springs was a retro look at car styles. Fins were the thing to make a statement or to differentiate one model from another. Fortunately, the fin craze came and went.

From a 1954 Cadillac to the 1960 Chevrolet with gull wings to the whale tail of the 1960 Plymouth.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Upscale Homeless

Having a chai at Starbucks in a Palm Springs suburb a few days ago. Occasionally I glance up from the iPad as a page is reloading to observe the coffee clientele. That was when I noted a guy at the register dressed in a dirty camouflage jump suit and cap. He banged his hand to get attention of Starbucks staff. Either he knew the staff or it was his style, but I couldn't hear anything that may have been said.

Later when I left, I noted the guy sitting by a window holding a newspaper with a cup in front of him on the table. The scruffy camouflage attire was complete with the week old beard and wispy long mustache. Walking outside into the parking lot, this truck looked very similar to shopping carts the homeless push around with garbage bags hanging off all sides.

Was the owner of this truck on the way to the landfill. Didn't seem possible with the garbage bags tied securely to the back of the truck. Maybe it was moving day. Perhaps one of those "hoarders" that I've read about.

I could have staked out the parking lot waiting for some one to get into the truck, but I assumed the derelict looking Starbucks customer was the owner of this late model truck that resembled a homeless shopping cart. (Sorry. Didn't want to be obvious with a photo op since the truck was visible from Starbucks front window.)

Could this be homelessness in the posh suburbs of Palm Springs where the gated communities are extensively landscaped and plant life is groomed within an inch of death.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Internet Stuff

Social networking.... No Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social networking for me. Not sure what I would post there that I don't already share here on my blog. The few times that I have joined those sites in the past, it was only days before I realized that it reminded me of over heard conversations while sitting at a bar. No real depth to any of the conversation.

Thumbs Up/Down icons.... Then there are the "up or down" voting icons that seem to appear on many sites these days. That is taking the short attention span of Facebook and Twitter to another level. The person doesn't have to write a single word why it ranked as a like or dislike. I want to know why. Once again there no depth to the conversation.

Regarding Blogspot Followers.... For those of you who may feel left out that I don't have your blog on the "Blogspot Followers" gadget, I apologize. Before I started blogging with Blogspot, I had been following blogs via the RSS function with Google Reader. I've continued that approach to following (too many) bloggers.

Data throughput.... Internet speeds continue to degrade over the Verizon air-card. Along with thousands of cell phone apps and the capability to download audio and video media to the cell phone or computer, it is no surprise that data throughput continues to decline.

Wi-Fi sites are not much better. They also experience too much downloading of data over a network incapable of supporting the demand. That's been my experience at Starbucks since their Wi-Fi is now free. In a recent visit to a Starbucks at a Palm Springs suburb, I counted eleven lap tops inside the store. Not sure how many more were outside. That was in addition to the iPad that I was using -- with very slow response times. 

Have to wonder if this throughput will improve when G4 is available. As the users migrate to the G4 capable devices and with more G4 networks, they will also become bogged down in the data throughput requirements. That's my prediction. Any bets on G5 in the future?

That is enough venting for today. To close this entry, some morning glory blossoms.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Photo Favorite

This photo was taken (May 2008) at the Battle Rock school house located about ten miles west of Cortez, Colorado. My reason for stopping was the building constructed with local sand stone. Built about 1910 plus or minus a few years, the out houses still exist, but are not longer in use. They have been replaced with indoor plumbing in a school addition.

Today the building is a charter school of about 30 children for kindergarten to grade 6. When I arrived, the school was between classes which allowed me to tour the inside. The personal computers along the walls were an interesting feature of a one room school built almost 100 years ago with out electricity and outdoor plumbing.

As I left, I crossed the irrigation ditch in front of the school to see this young man showing his tree climbing prowess. When asked if it was okay to take a photo, the result was his some what surly expression.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cannibal Burger

That was the title of the podcast that I downloaded this morning from A Way With Words.

The first call from a listener asked if the cannibal burger was unique to Milwaukee. Discussion followed with the what, where and how. Grossed out one of the hosts.

The caller described the cannibal burger the way I remembered it. It is ground sirloin (or very lean beef sliced very thin) on German rye bread, a slab of onion, mustard, salt and pepper. Absolutely delicious.

My dining is mostly vegetarian with lots of salads with a meat meal thrown in now and then for variety. Then there are those times when raw fish (sashimi) is the choice when I dine out. From there it is easy to consider a raw beef. At least for me.

Since cannibal burger might be considered gauche at French restaurants, it is called steak tartare. Never did like their interpretation of raw beef. Just give me the style that I had back in the farming community taverns around 1960.

In the 21st century, there probably isn't a restaurant anywhere that would serve raw beef. To get a pink and bloody centered hamburger, the restaurant requires a signed form to hold the restaurant harmless should your become ill.

Looks like a sirloin steak will be coming home with me on my next visit to the grocer.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Aerial Farm View

Found a scanned copy of an aerial view of the farm where I grew up. That is where I milked cows, drove tractor, harvested the crops, and performed some other smelly tasks that are also part of dairy farming. I also sneezed and wheezed with the asthma and hay fever. And survived the whole ordeal. Good place to learn how to work. And the instructions only came once. There was always something to do around a farm.

There were probably aerial photographs of farms as soon as there were planes. The earliest that I remember was a black and white view taken about 1949. It has disappeared with lots of other stuff that Dad did not deem worth keeping. Fortunately, this 1961 aerial photo survived.

With a little Photoshop effort, the arial photo of the farm was modified to be a reasonable representation of the farm buildings in 1950 plus or minus a year.

The photo reminds me of my most frequent childhood fantasy of playing the cowboy. A dairy farm looks nothing like a mythological western cattle ranch as depicted in movie westerns with mountains and wide open spaces. It does take a bit of imagination to create that western cowboy scene including the western town and saloon. In my early teen years with more farming responsibilities, the fantasy play stopped.

Fortunately, Dad had always loved horses. With enough begging, eventually Dad bought a horse when I was fourteen.

Earlier this year in my previous blog space, the entry Shattered Myth details how fantasy sets some unrealistic expectations.

While creating this entry, I checked the satellite photos of the farm at Google Mapping. The house and barn are about the only things that remain after 50 years. Today, newer structures dwarf the house (built 1911) and barn (foundation built 1916). Checked the terrestrial (courtesy of Google) view from highway 96 about a quarter of a mile away. Trees hide much of the house and there is a cell tower less than a hundred yards from the barn.

The cell tower reminds me of the wall mounted "crank" phone that was at that house when I moved to San Francisco in 1965. Hmm. That looks like a story for another post.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Election 2012

Just when I thought the elections were over, this morning I heard some who are already planning the fate of the 2012 election. For something more pleasant, how about this rain blessed lily.

For me, Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel best summarize the election and the next two years in their USA Today column: Will compromise be a four letter word.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)  appears to be doing the job a legislator is supposed to do. He proposes a Roadmap to address the ever escalating Federal budget. His proposal addresses medicare, social security, taxation, etc. to bring the Federal budget back into control. No doubt his proposal has problems. All legislation has problems. However, it would be great if the federal legislative bodies actually talked about any one of the major items in his proposal -- let alone all his points. Considering most Senators and Congressmen are in those legislative bodies to establish tenure, there are few that would vote on any of these issues for fear that they would not get re-elected.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Couldn't Resist

Sorry about that, but the palm frond seemed to be begging for a little Photoshop graffiti...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Shadow Knows

For a little trivia....

For those old enough to remember radio, what rhetorical question precedes the line "The Shadow knows".

The answer: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"

For extra credit, what was the name of the Shadow's alter-ego.

The answer: Lamont Cranston