Friday, December 31, 2010

Ten Years Have Passed

It was ten years ago today (12/31/2000) that I retired from sales and marketing Information Technology (IT) equipment with StorageTek**. I started in Data Processing and 35 years later it was the same business with a different name. Kind of like the horseless carriage to the automobile. The 35 years was a great ride as the industry matured from punched cards and paper tape to optical storage and high density chip technology.

Since that retirement date, the last ten years have gone by rapidly. Lots of photos and words have documented my nomadic exploring of the country. (Most of that drivel can be found via the "archives" URL in the side panel.) In those ten years, I have not come close to exploring the country. It might take 20 life times -- or more -- to accomplish that. In the meantime, I will live this life -- every day.

And NO. I don't miss working. Even if I wanted to work, I certainly couldn't qualify for a position in IT. My qualifications may be more appropriate to greet customers at Wal-Mart.

**StorageTek no longer exists after being purchased by Sun. Sun in turn was purchased by Oracle. The StorageTek headquarters buildings no longer exist in Louisville Colorado. Those buildings have been razed by ConocoPhillips with plans to build a "technology and learning center" on the 432 acres that once was StorageTek.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Back Home

Back home last night and sleeping in my own bed with my own pillow was a pleasure.

Staying at Vanita and Gabe's house was great. The time was spent chatting, taking Freebie to the park to play Frisbee catch, and dining at some great restaurants. An outstanding seafood restaurant was one. A real Chinese restaurant where we were the only non-Chinese.

Been seven years since my last visit to a theater to see a movie. Vanita and Gabe wondered if I would like to join them for a movie. Since I had just read about the remake of "True Grit", I wondered if that would work for them. Agreed. Great movie. My rating was five stars. However, I am biased to western cowboy mythology.

The movie watching experience can be trying. Before the movie started there was fifteen minutes of commercials and a half dozen preview trailers. No cell phones rang during the movie, but that person digging into the bag of popcorn two rows back was something that doesn't happen when watching at home.

All good things must come to an end. Hugs all around -- including Freebie and Faedra -- I returned to the Wandrin Wagon parked at Palm Springs.

Leaving San Diego before today's predicted rain, I arrived back home yesterday afternoon. And my own bed -- and pillow -- last evening. Next time my pillow will go with me.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve

A San Diego Christmas Eve was at Lili (Gabe's cousin) and Marcos' house. Relatives filled the home and enjoyed, ceviche, tamales, venison, candies, etc. Surprise, but Santa Claus was the guest of honor. Everyone ended up with a gift. The younger ones were given extras. My gift: Crown Royal. How did Santa know.

With lots of photos throughput the evening, this photo is of the closest members of my San Diego family. Left to right: Pete (the artist, Liz (Pete's wife, Gabe's sister), some ugly guy, Santa Claus, Chilli (Liz and Pete's daughter), Mirta (Gabe's mother), Gabe, and Vanita.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Observations

Every tree in the Christmas tree lots is a perfect triangle conical shape. No "Charlie Brown" tree to be seen. No holes or missing branches could be found. Kind of like commercial TV describing the flaw that can be addressed with their product. It seems only natural that no flaws are allowed for that Christmas tree. What ever happened to charity and taking care of the less fortunate -- tree.

Sirius radio... is listened to very selectively during December. Some of the streams play nothing but Christmas themed music 24 hours a day. Too much. Yuck. What ever happened to "balance". That was bad enough. When I was listening to a local classical music station, among the serious Christmas themed music, they played "The Barking Dogs -- Jingle Bells". Always hated that version. Couldn't get to the off switch fast enough.

Guilt gift shopping.... Really. It's not a Christmas gift. It's guilt. The shoppers were crowding the stores. I was in the Best Buy checking out the latest in gadgets, but found nothing I needed -- let alone wanted. However, it appeared that I was one of the few not buying -- or into guilt gift purchasing. The checkout lines were 20 deep with gifts to assuage that guilt. And the serious guilt gift shopping on Christmas Eve is still a couple of days away. The lines will be longer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Eclipse

Timing is everything.

Happen to be in the wrong place for the winter solstice this year. Pacific storms are coming on shore and leaving lots of rain. Palm Springs is getting a little rain, but mostly gray skies -- night and day. That is why there is no photo of the eclipse from Wandrin in Palm Springs.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Desert Gray Day

Been light rain for most of today. If it clears tomorrow, snow should be visible atop San Jacinto. Good place for snow. Yesterday was just -- gray and overcast instead of the bright blue. Yesterday was also a hiking day and along the Henderson trail was a place to rest.

Along my hike, the hummingbirds were a constant buzz in their search for calories. Not sure what this plant is, but I am going to call it a hummingbird bush. Those little red flowers are about two inches long and watching the hummingbird feed is fascinating. At most it is a one second feeding before moving to another blossom.

The bighorn sheep are supposed to be hanging around every trail waiting for hikers to spot them. Not on my hikes. So this statue at the San Jacinto Visitor center will have to substitute for an actual sighting.

Wonder if bighorn sheep have ever been a stand in for Santa Claus' reindeer.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

From the Driver's Seat

These accumulate on the recorder and eventually I shame myself into getting them posted. Some of these are July observations.

Oregon has some unusual town names. Three that I encountered: ZIGZAG  BORING   SUBLIMITY

Vanity license plates:

PURFECTO -- on a little sports car

4EEYORE -- appears to be a fan of the character from A.A. Milne's Winnie The Pooh

MGNFZNT -- alternate spelling for "magnificent"?

SHE LFT -- man drives pickup truck towing a fifth wheel trailer

6PKHLDR -- on a huge SUV

...and a few more:








[heart symbol]2BRTHE

PILLBOX is a clever business name for a pharmacy

Wondered what is an "Australian tan" posted on a tanning salon. Maybe no ozone protection.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snow And Palm Trees

Ever since I've started this nomadic wandering, the winters have been south of I-10 where palm trees are a frequent  landscape feature and the temperatures rarely drop into the 30 degree range.

With palm trees around, I will never get used to the "Sleigh Bells Ringing", "Jingle Bells", fake snow flocked trees, and -- is this really necessary -- plastic snow men.

Then there is the storing for eleven months until next year. Okay. So I'm a grinch. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Subtitled: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Louie Zamperini is the subject of this book as a 19 year old Olympic participant in 1936, entered WWII, survived 47 days afloat on the Pacific, survived two years in a Japanese POW, and eventually returned to civilian life fighting the demons of his experiences. Louie still lives an active life at the age of 93. Unbroken says it all. The book is a page turner although at times it can be a tough read as one reads about basic survival and man's cruelty to another human being.

The movie is already in development. Don't wait for the movie. Read the book.

Laura Hillenbrand wrote one other book. That was Seabiscuit -- a non-fiction account of the racehorse. Learn everything there is to know about the horses and horse racing.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Life Is About Balance

Life is about balance. Indeed. Not sure that I could stand on stilts today.

In September an entry was posted about physical balance issues. Upon arrival in Palm Springs it was time to check in with the medical community (compliments of medicare) to determine a possible reason for the infrequent moments of light headedness and the occasional non-alcohol related staggering. My name is Lloyd and I have... Oops. That was another group.

With the aging -- old -- population of Palm Springs and a high ratio of doctors to the population, I was into the ear, nose and throat specialist within a matter of days after arriving in Palm Springs. After listening to my history and a problem definition, the doctor ordered an MRI and a visit to the balance testing specialists.

The MRI proved normal. Physically. That alone was comforting. Asked the good doctor if it was possible there might be something that might show up on the MRI to explain the somewhat irrational desire for nomadic living in a home on wheels. Nope. Couldn't help me there.

The visit to the balance testing specialists included lots of high tech gadgets, watching my eyes, blowing air in to my ears, trying to a stand on a platform that moves with my slightest movement and more tests.

The diagnosis was bilateral peripheral vestibular weakness. Putting that in terms I could understand is that I have staggering and balance issues due to an inner ear problem. Hey guys. Good job. Nice to know that there is a reason for what I experience. Now what.

No pills to make it go away. Physical therapy was prescribed. Went to the therapist and I was prescribed some exercises while standing on a piece of stiff foam. As the foam compresses, the body responds to the inputs from eyes, ears, and muscles to maintain the upright posture.

Doctor says it may be six months before noticing any change as a result of the physical therapy. Will I be able to remember what it may have been like six months earlier. :) Or could the problem have gone away -- in much the same way it appeared.

Along with the physical therapy, I determined that hiking on un-level trails will be good additional therapy. More reason to get out and hike.

Some days are great with no symptoms. Others. Not so good. On one particular bad day, I seriously began to wonder and considering where (not an easy decision) I was going to rent an apartment and give up the travel. Fortunately, I recovered. Whew. That decision of where to "settle" has been put off for another day.

Considering there are no other health issues and no medications, I can live with the unsteadiness and staggering. At least I believe I can.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Took my own advice and have been wandering hiking trails around the Palm Springs area.

The weather has been ideal for these hikes with temps climbing into the low 80s. A bit hot for hiking. With lots of water I manage to cope with the tough conditions. (Sure beats 20 inches of Wisconsin snow -- or anywhere else with snow).

Then there is this cactus which managed a home in this rock. That takes tough living to new levels.

At this time of year, the color of the desert is mostly brown. There are some bloom for the hummingbirds and the bees. Couldn't get a decent closeup of the tiny flowers. Go with your imagination.

Spring is a great time to be hiking the trails when cactus and brittle bush is in bloom. This photo is from spring 2009.

Some creative and ambitious hiker stacked rock atop a high point along the trail. Turned out to be a great place to sit and contemplate my good fortune to be there. Far away from traffic sounds and bird song accenting the quiet, it was a relaxing time.

As I was enjoying the view, the stacked rock reminded me of days on the farm in northern Wisconsin where the annual crop of rocks was a harvest that no one looked forward to, but yet had to be done. And I picked my share.

Over many hiking years, I have added rocks to existing trail cairns and sometimes built a rock structure. Each of those times I've questioned my sanity to call picking rocks an enjoyable activity. So it became justified as an artistic outlet. :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Too Much News

Lately, there has been too much news over my morning breakfast. Hearing politicians blather on, I want to ask:
  • After reduced taxes for close to ten years, how come the unemployment rate approaches 10%. Why should it get better in the next two years.
  • Since when did a millionaire become part of the middle class.
  • Really! How many small business owners have a taxable income of a million dollars.
  • Which lobby groups did you talk to this morning... yesterday.
Just wondering:
  • Why lame duck legislative sessions.
  • Will the legislative standoff continue for two more years.
  • Why! 2012 presidential hopefuls are already running polls.
Rather than any more wondering, today is for wandering around the hills of Palm Springs.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Creosote Bush

Naming trails after geographic features or in memory of some local person, the Bump and Grind Trail is unusually named. The trail's 1000 foot elevation gain in under two miles is a favorite for many of the runners and walkers in the Palm Springs area.

The end of the hike dead ends on a flattened hilltop large enough for "way too many people". There were about five or six when I arrived. The large open space has a single creosote bush decorated for the holidays.

Close up there was a reflection in one of the ornaments. Recognized that guy. Objects are closer than they appear.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

History Repeats

Book: Last Call by Daniel Okrent

The book is the history of the prohibition amendment to the US constitution enacted in 1919 and repealed in 1933. The prohibition was of intoxicants (beer, wine, distilled spirits) in the United States. A well researched book that details the participants on either side of the issue, their histories, how it progressed, the politics used in the process and how eventually it became law. And once law, how prohibition was unenforceable. Then there was the unintended consequences as gangs formed to control the trade and dispensing of the illegal intoxicants. Sound familiar?

Have we learned nothing from past history. Can't legislate personal morality. How about we legalize marijuana and tax it heavily like alcohol items and cigarettes.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Carrizo Canyon

Carrizo Canyon is open for hiking from October 1 to December 31. Met that deadline. The hike begins along a wide open wash continuing to narrow to more branching small canyons. Vegetation is limited to flora tolerant of this arid and hot land like this smoke tree.

Walking the trail in the canyon is rock hopping and climbing over rock falls with side canyons for exploring and returning to the trail. In several pockets and dead ends of the canyons, there are the California Fan Palm. Seems hard to believe that there is enough water runoff or underground water to keep these palms alive. But there is.

The canyon is closed the rest of the year to protect the big horn sheep. Didn't see any on my hike. Another hiker (who frequently hikes here) said he saw one a couple of days earlier. Seeing big horn sheep is being in the right place at the right time. I wasn't.