Category Archives: Stuff
Back Yard Eden
10:00 AM, 85 degF, West Houston TX
Summer is coming to an end. Slowly but surely the days of sub-100 degF and 90+ humidity are numbered. The Mrs has spent most of the summer renovating our back porch after years of hiding inside. Take a look …
I am taking this week off on a “staycation” to get some much needed work done around the house. My new job gives me 6 weeks vacation so I might as well use it.
We are sitting on the back porch having a Starbucks treat. The Mrs is crocheting while I read THE HARLAN ELLISON COLLECTION – I HAVE NO MOUTH AND I MUST SCREAM first published in 1967. SciFi guy that I am and in my teens when it first came out, I strangely never read it although I knew of it and have frequently used the phrase when dealing with the frustrations of life.
Also enjoying an unlikely breakfast of Romaine lettuce as I endeavor to loose the 30 lbs I gained after going back to work over a year ago. I tend to be a social animal and find it all too easy to go to lunch.
We are in the shade on the south side of the house with a very nice breeze that come and goes. Small scattered clouds are drifting by over head.
In the short time I have been writing this, the temperature on my Apple Watch has risen to 87 with a predicted high of 93. But for now it is very pleasant.
Wishing you all an equally peaceful day …
It’s box Daddy
Cleaning out, throwing out and/or shredding decades of old bills, cancelled checks, warranties and manuals for stuff I no longer own. Got to the bottom of the lower shelf of my lateral file cabinet. To Pickles it’s just another box.
First there was 22,000 Days …
and now (just the music – no relation to the folks in the video)
Side bar … although I own* many versions of “Birthday” – vinyl, cassette, CD, and iTunes – I can’t play it for you due to “copyright issues”, so I am forced to find the best cover on YouTube.
Welcome to the Future.
* no longer sure I actually own them, but I sure paid for them
I have an iPhone 6s Plus. The lightning plug port had stopped charging – sort of. The plug wouldn’t stay in and I would have to carefully hold it “just so” to get it to charge. I had the same problem with my original iPhone 5s. It was the reason I upgraded to the 6s Plus.
So I called my local Batteries + Bulbs. $80 to replace the charging port. BUT the nice lady I spoke to suggested using a toothpick to clean out any lint. I used a toothpick and compressed air (computer dust spray) and cleaned out a fair amount of lint.
The charging plug snaps briskly in and charges. Son’s iPhone … same problem … same solution.
PS – I also cleaned out my old iPhone 5s … problem solved.
! PANIC !
Little Friends Update
Yesterday I told you about my visit to Little Friends Pet Memorial.
Today I got a call from Greg at Little Friends. He told me that Jane (the nice woman I spoke to yesterday) told him about my question about K2’s missing plaque. He told me that he was the most senior employee and that ten to fifteen years ago the site had been vandalized and all of the plaques had been ripped off of the memorial walls and tossed into the fish ponds. He was the one who rescued the plaques, but he wasn’t sure he had gotten all of them. He also told me that they had even replaced several of the plaques that had been damaged.
Greg then told me that they would make up a new plaque for K2 and try to place it as close to Anna’s plaque as possible.
He asked me what I wanted K2’s plaque to say. I suggested “K-2 With Anna Forever” since I didn’t remember what the original plaque said. Greg agreed and told me it would take about ninety days to get the new plaque made and they they would give me a call when it was up so I could come out and view it. He also told me that if I had any questions or concerns to please not hesitate to give them a call. It was an emotional conversation for me (as is typing this out now).
I will provide an update once K2’s plaque is up. More to come …
a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations
Hanging in our master bathroom is a picture we picked up in a
junk antique store somewhere in rural Texas. It is a fit starting place for today’s tale.
In 1981 the Mrs and I moved from Bergen Park Colorado (Bergen Park Dreams, Olde Time Radio) to John Rolfe Lane, a rent house in the suburbs west of Houston to begin my career in the oil patch. We lived at John Rolfe Lane from 1981 to 1989, when we moved into the current Catbeard Manor, using the severance package from my first employer as down payment. Both of our sons were born at John Rolfe Lane.
The John Rolfe Lane residence is a but a few blocks north of Catbeard Manor in a different subdivision, yet sufficiently out of my way that I must intentionally drive past it. I rarely do so, maybe once every ten years. I did so today. Gone was the large tree in the front yard and the red tip photinia growing between the windows of what were the two boys bedrooms. Gone were the shrubs up against the front of the house. Gone was the flower bed around the mail box. In their place was a newly planted tree (looks like an oak of some sort) and an otherwise barren, but well cared for, front yard. I have many photos of John Rolfe Lane … somewhere. If I find them, perhaps I will post them in the future.
We moved from Bergen Park with two dogs, K2 (male) and Anna (female). Their tale is one that deserves a much more detailed elaboration, but I will give you the condensed version now …
K2 was a wedding present from Jeff and Cheryl. His name came from pen 2K at the Dumb Friends Society in Denver. He was alleged to be part Collie / part Australian Shepherd, but I actually think that the “Australian Shepherd” part was in fact coyote. K2 was the smartest dog I have ever known. As a puppy he had enormous ears. I remember noting that he did not bark when we picked him up (turned out to be a nasty case of kennel cough). I vividly remember the drive home when we stopped by a Dairy Queen for a burger. Not sure what followed next but I recall wondering if K2 was hungry only to discover him in my lap devouring my burger. One could not have wanted for a more loyal dog. He would defend us to the death against small children (we think he has abused). Yet he easily accepted his role in our pack as the defender of our children. We used to keep him on a long lunge line attached to the front door of John Rolfe Lane where he would sleep in the entry way. One night we heard a muffled grunt and we ran to the entry way to find the door open and blood on K2’s muzzle. We think that someone had kicked in the front door and a surprised K2 had “taken a bite out of crime”. Only the lunge line had kept him from pursuit. I reinforced the locks after that.
K2 is also the name of the mountain next to Mount Everest. Our next adoptee occurred courtesy of our vet in Bergen Park, Dr. Nealy. She was the only pet we never had neutered, a cat we named Everest. Not long after we got Everest, we were grocery shopping in Evergreen south of Bergen Park and a young boy had a grocery cart full of mixed Samoyed / Golden Retriever puppies. I bought a bag of dog food and came home with Anna Purna (another mountain near Everest). Anna was the stereotypical dumb blond, a Samoyed with floppy gold tipped ears. She was the sweetest, gentlest, most patient creature you could ever have. In Bergen Park the drive way was paved in smooth river rocks. I threw them for her and she loved to chase them. One day I threw one for her from the second story balcony. It went through the driver side window of our new car. Below is a picture of Anna (foreground) and K2 taken by my dad. It hangs above our stairway next to the picture of Bob.
Regarding Everest … she got pregnant at Bergen Park, had kittens, and promptly disappeared. The Mrs and I bottle-fed the kittens and Anna adopted them as her own. She would carry each of them around with its head in her mouth ever so gently. She would clean them with her tongue and let them nurse on her until she was raw. We would go on outings with Anna in the lead followed by “her kittens”. She grieved when we gave them all away. I have slides of Anna and her kittens that I need to get scanned. When (if) I get around to it I will post them. So-oh cute!
K2 and Anna got old as all pets do and each had to be put down in time. K2 died while we were at John Rolfe Lane. Anna died after we moved to Catbeard Manor. She really missed K2. The bard said “It is better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all”. No where is that more true than with our pets. They give us all of their love, unconditionally, but we out-live them.
We had both K2 and Anna cremated and their ashes scattered at Little Friends Pet Memorial out in the country west of us. Today the Mrs and I took a road trip to visit them. We drove past it at first and I thought maybe it was gone, but we spotted it on the way back on the dead end road. It is in farm country, surrounded by cotton fields. It was an extremely hot and dry day. Too hot for the Mrs. She waited in the car with the AC on while I walked around the deserted memorial. It was very peaceful and serene. Several people had left their pets toys at the memorial. It was quite emotional for me, but I have always been emotional.
I found Anna’s plaque …
but try as I would. I could not find K2’s. I did note that some plaques appear to have fallen off in the almost thirty years that have transpired. K2’s plaque was there when we last visited with the boys in the early 90’s when I thought we might all be moving to Russia for work. That never happened and the Mrs diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis put the kibosh on any thought of foreign assignment.
I called the main number and talked to a very nice lady who told me that Little Friends had a new owner. The original owner was doctor, certainly now deceased, who established it when his pet died and he discovered that no facility of this sort existed. He would collect the pets and take them to the memorial to be cremated and then scatter the ashes. Anyway she asked for my phone number and promised to get back to me.
More to come …
Rattlesnake | Līve
So … twenty years ago Number One Son and I went to a Līve concert. I have been re-listening to Throwing Copper and Secret Samadhi. One song in particular, Rattlesnake (from Secret Samadhi) deserves mention.
I really like this song. The tune itself is powerful. So are the vocals. I particularly like the guitar solo at 3:08. As with many of the songs by Līve, the lyrics are enigmatic, but I find the entire song quite stirring.
I Alone | Līve
Twenty years ago (circa 1997), Number One Son and I went to a Līve concert at the Cynthia Woods Mitchel Pavilion. Number One Son was 14. The forecast was for rain. Our seats were in the uncovered part of the Pavilion. We brought rain ponchos and a large umbrella. We needed them. We sat in a torrential rain throughout the concert.
The Mrs had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis the year before. My life, all of our lives, were changing in unpredictable ways. The Mrs was going downhill and I was grieving the loss of her quality of life, our quality of life. The medical bills and hospitalizations were taking a toll. Little did I know that it would get worse.
We sat in the pouring rain listing to Līve blast out their songs. I have very fond memories of that concert. I bought two of their albums, Throwing Copper and Secret Samadhi (I think I even bought Secret Samadhi at the concert). I used to listen to those albums in the CD player of the Ford Windstar we owned at the time. Perfect music for grieving. I actually own a large collection of CDs that I no longer listen to because we have switched to iTunes. I should probably invest in an external CD drive for my MacBook and begin ripping my old CDs to iTunes, but have avoided doing so.
I heard I Alone earlier this evening in the playlist of a local sporting goods store’s PA system. It brought all those memories back with a vengeance. Music has a way of doing that for me.
Epilogue (Twenty years later …)
The Mrs and I have been married forty-one years. She still battles MS and the diabetes she developed as a result of massive dosage steroid treatments she has received over the years. Twenty years of MS have eaten up all of our finances … and continue to do so. If you and your family are in good health you have no idea how fortunate you are. If you are battling a life altering illness, you know what we have been going through.
I may go dig out my Līve CDs and put them in my car to listen to. I still have grieving to do …
The waiting …
I have been dealing with a variety of issues over the past year and a half that have been stressful, to say the least. My life has been plagued with, let us say … uncertainty. I used to say it was like being on a roller coaster, but now I think it is becoming more like a ride on the Vomit Comet.
To quote Arlo Guthrie (totally out of context) … “you may know somebody in a similar situation or you may be in a similar situation, and if you’re in a situation like that, there’s only one thing you can do … sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar …”
This is another Father’s Day tribute to Bob (aka Dad).
From Welcome to the Future …
Despite the fact that my parents love for me caused them to be overly protective, my dad did something equally amazing for me. I have always loved thunderstorms. I love the lightning and I love the thunder. I think that thunderstorms are one of the most exhilarating of all natural phenomenon. There is a reason for this. My dad grew up in an orphanage. It was not uncommon at the time for single mothers who could not care for their children to abandon them at an orphanage. Summertime in Florida produces severe afternoon thunderstorms. The nuns at the orphanage were afraid that lightening would hit the building and set fire to it. Rather than face the possibility of an orphanage full of trapped children burning to the ground, whenever a thunderstorm approached, the nuns would make the children go outside and lie facedown in the grass until the storm passed. Needless to say, my dad was terrified of thunderstorms; shaking, vomiting, fetal position terrified of thunderstorms. Dad swore to himself that I was never going to be afraid of lightning and thunder like he was. From my earliest days my dad would pick me up and bounce me on his knee during storms. “See the lightning,” he would say, “now wait, here it comes … BADDA BOOM.” I would giggle and laugh. He showed no fear, why should I. Of course, I remember none of this. I was too young. But I do know that I love lightning and thunder. Whenever my dad told this story he would add one more thing … by making sure that I was never afraid of thunderstorms he had cured his own fear too.
Trying to proof-read the above is difficult through tear filled eyes. If there are typos, cut me some slack.
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there and to their children!
Robert Francis (Bob) Bergman
Circa mid 1970s
[Click the images to zoom to full size]
YOKS (Ye Olde Kid Sister) posted the photo above of our Dad to Facebook today.
I took that photo during my “Black & White” photography period. My camera bag is prominently visible in the foreground. This is a classic Bob photo – beer in hand. Note the old school disposable “pop top” beer can and Bob’s signature white cowboy hat.
Below is another picture I took on a different fishing trip. This is actually a cropped digital image of a framed picture I have hanging on my staircase. It is my favorite photo of Dad.
Bob loved to fish and I frequently went along with him always getting on the road before sunrise. I was heavily into photography in the 70s and would go “fishing” with him just to get out and away from everything and to spend time alone with him. I am not sure exactly when these pictures were taken – I could probably find the negatives and give you the exact dates, but that would be irrelevant – mid 1970s is close enough.
I put “fishing” in quotes because I mostly went for the solitude, sandwiches, beer, and photography. Fishing was very “zen” for Bob. Peace, quiet, solitude … and beer. Bob loved beer. Fishing wasn’t so much about catching fish as it was the entire experience. Sure he loved actually catching fish, but not catching fish was OK too. How does that old saying go … “the worst day fishing is better than the best day of work.”
Our “worst day of fishing” was the time we were out in Florida Keys in a rented boat and sheared the propeller shear pin on a sand shoal – with no extra shear pins. After several hours of trying to row back to shore with the single oar we had – including realizing we had snagged the line of a lobster/crab pot on the outboard motor, thus going nowhere – Bob decided to fashion a shear pin out of a heavy gauge fish hook. That did the trick and we limped back to the marina. Speaking of “lobsters” I was wearing shorts, no shirt, and no hat. Although by some miracle I did not blister, I was “cooked lobster red” for many days afterwards. Still better than “the best day of work.”
Bob would have loved this song …
Bob is no longer with us. Time may heal all wounds, but we still miss him.
Bob, wherever you are, this one’s for you …
Happy Father’s Day
Remember Adult Swim?
No, not the one from Cartoon Network. The original adult swim of 10 minutes every hour at your local Home Owner’s Association (HOA) community pool. It was originally used to give the lifeguards a break and give adults the ability to swim laps without interference from the kids.
Today at my local pool, which I began attending to walk laps for exercise (32 laps = 1 mile*), we were told at 10 minutes before the hour that it was Safety Break and EVERYONE had to get out of the pool for 10 minutes. Apparently there was an age discrimination lawsuit filed (and won) in California against Adult Swim. Now HOAs across the country are avoiding Adult Swim for fear of lawsuit.
I suggest they play Safety Dance during the Safety Break.
* the swim lane section of our pool is 25 metres long … one lap is 50 metres, one mile is 1609 metres … do the math
Bergen Park Dreams
[ I began writing this about the time that iOS 10.3.2 Trashed My iPhone … just now getting back to it ]
In a previous post I told you briefly of my time living at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory a mile or so west of Bergen Park Colorado in the mountains west of Denver.
I lived at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory in Bergen Park from 1976 to 1981 with my newlywed bride, two dogs, and (very briefly) a cat. They were perhaps the happiest days of my life and I still have what I have come to call “Bergen Park Dreams”.
“Bergen Park Dreams” are essentially what they sound like, dreams about living in Bergen Park … but they have evolved subtly over the years. Initially they were simple reminiscences of actual events at the time, but as time passed they became stranger and stranger. This maybe due to the fact that I had revisited Bergen Park in the mid-90s and more recently in 2015 – boy had things changed.
My first drive to Bergen Park and the Observatory was in 1975. It was little more than a crossroads with a Conoco station, a mini mart, liquor store, bowling alley, and a few restaurants. Depending on which road out of Bergen Park you chose, you would be on your way to the more populous Evergreen to the south, or on the road to Squaw Mountain and Mount Evans to the southwest, or heading west back to connect to I-70 via Colorado 65.
The area west of Bergen Park on Colorado 65 was pristine. It was a Colorado mountain paradise. The Observatory was just off of 65 to the north up a dirt road. Back then, as I said, it was truly a pristine paradise. Elk would graze within a stone’s throw of the upper balcony. Little did I know that it would all change in just a few short years with the development of the Soda Creek community on the south side of 65 and it’s million dollar mini-ranchettes. From 1976 to 1981 I lived in a Colorado paradise worth millions of dollars because I could not afford to live anywhere else.
In the summer of 1976 the future Mrs flew out to visit me for a week during the summer. We had been dating since 1973 when we had met in fencing class at Broward Junior College near Davie, Florida west of Fort Lauderdale where I lived with my folks. Ok I actually lived in Wilton Manors, an island bounded by natural rivers and man-made canals within Fort Lauderdale, but whatever.
I met my wife-to-be in Junior College while attending a fencing class. She was my partner during field camp for the “barbed-wire stretching” section. We had five miles of barbed-wire to stretch along a section of canal that bordered the Everglades. She cut her hand and I cleaned and bandaged it tenderly with love and care. So gentle were my attentions that she soon fell under the spell of my gentle but manly manner and soon we were lying under the shade of a mangrove tree making sweet, sweet …
Oh wait that was last night’s dream … It was fencing class as in touché, sabers, etc. …
My wife-to-be in fencing class:
Ok not my wife … and besides in 1973 the world had not yet been introduced to light-sabers. We used foils, épées, old-school sabers. Her sweet smile and school girl laugh pierced my heart as did the unshielded tip of her épée. When I finally got out of the hospital … OK that was lie. It was fencing class nothing more. But it was the beginning of a 40 year love affair.
For a picture of my wife-to-be back in 1973, click HERE.
Where was I? Oh yes, 1976, so this was the first time I had not gone home over summer break and had moved into the Observatory full-time only a few months before in order to establish in-state residency. My wife-to-be was flying out from Miami to visit me. I had gone to the former Stapleton International airport in Denver to pick her up only to find out that her flight was “delayed”. I was unable to get any information regarding the delay. I began thinking … what if the plane had crashed? Would the Arrival Display calmly announce “Hull Loss” or “Plane Crashed”? Of course not. It would announce FLIGHT DELAYED. I finally gave up and drove back to Bergen Park with the weight of uncertainty heavily upon me. Later that night she called from the hotel in which the airline had put them up in Dallas due to engine trouble. She arrived the next day telling me the story of the woman dressed in her wedding gown flying to her wedding which she obviously missed. Not like you could call someone on your cell phone to explain the situation back then – THEY DIDN’T EXIST.
My wife-to-be spent the week with me in Bergen Park the summer of 1976. It was a wonderful week. I asked her to marry me and, fool that she was, she accepted. We set the date for December 30th, 1976 when I planned to be home for Christmas break. We chose December 30th because we did not want to be driving anywhere on New Year’s Eve. Before and after her visit and until we were married, life was pretty lonely in Bergen Park. I could drive the old International Harvester back and forth to Golden and stop at any points along the way, but I was broke and spent most of my time studying. Since no mail was delivered to the Observatory (I didn’t even know the address at that time), I had gotten a post office box in Golden that served as my official address. There was also a land line to the Observatory, but I tried to keep the long distance calls to a minimum. My wife-to-be was in nursing school in Miami and was quite busy herself.
Over the summer of 1976 I had a lot of time to myself. I hiked around the 75 acres of Coors land that the Observatory sat on. I walked or drove into Bergen Park for groceries. I read a lot. I changed and developed the seismic records every night and once a week drive them down to Golden. Life was peaceful and idyllic, when not outright boring. I caught wolf spiders in jars and kept them as pets feeding them moths. OK – that was creepy, but I was desperate for companionship. Introvert that I was – and still am – I treasure my alone time, but there is alone and then there is lonely. I would talk out loud to the spiders, the walls, myself just to hear a voice.
There was a well on the property that provided all of the water (via an electric downhole pump) and two drain fields. The well was located just to the east of the building and the sanitary septic tank and drain field was located on the other side to the west. There was also a secondary drain field in the front of the building (to the south) near the dirt road up from the main road. This was for the photographic chemicals and rinse water. I had to be careful not to use too much rinse water during the development process or when cleaning the tanks or I would get a spring that ran down the dirt road. Not a problem in the summer, but it would form an ice slick in the winter … which my wife discovered when she slid under her car while getting into it to head to work one frozen morning. It was several minutes before I noticed her screaming for me … an event she tells others to this day.
I didn’t trust the well, so I would fill jugs of water up from a water spigot at the back of the Green Center building back at the School of Mines in Golden and lug them up to Bergen Park. Cecil H. Green (founder of Texas Instruments) was quite the philanthropist and many buildings are in his (and his wife’s) name. Eventually I had the well water tested and it came back with coliform bacteria at “TNTC” (Too Numerous To Count). My fears were justified. Contaminated ground water had gotten into the well. I would fix this. I found the well head and opened it up. Then I ran a hose from the spigot into the well and turned on the water. Finally came the chlorine bleach, I forget how many jugs of bleach. I let the water circulate – I forget for how long – but long enough to circulate the bleach to every part of the system. Then I let it sit and soak. Then circulate. Then soak. Finally I let the water run and flushed out the bleach until I could smell chlorine no more. Then waited to let the well recharge and flushed it again. Eventually I had the water tested again and it was safe to drink. But for how long? I think I waited a month to get the well water tested again before I felt safe to drink it. With the second test passed, I could stop lugging water. The well water at Bergen Park was perhaps the best water I have ever had. It was delicious … and had the bizarre ability to keep our teeth free of plaque. To this day, only Ozarka Spring Water comes close.
Anyway, not long after moving to Houston with my first employer out of college I began to have the “Bergen Park Dreams”. As I said above, they were originally just remembrances of the past, but slowly began to morph into something stranger, an alternate reality. I am back in Bergen Park present day and move back into the Observatory for no apparent reason. Sometimes the Mrs is with me, sometimes not. We are usually our younger selves. Often the area around the Observatory is highly built up, even more than in reality. The dreams are often quite vivid and colorful. Sometimes I also dream about an alternate reality version of Golden and the School of Mines, usually an ultra high-tech version, with many new ultra modern buildings.
Dreams are curious things. Mine are often quite interesting. Some folks have the occasional nightmare (scary dreams), me not so much. I tend to think of dreams as the “screen saver” our brain provides while it “defrags.” Sleep is the time our brain sorts and stores our daily memories and our nervous system is flushed of toxins. Sleep is when our muscles are repaired from the damage incurred during our daily workouts. Sleep is also when youngsters grow – and why adequate sleep is so critical for the young. So between nervous system and muscle repair, body growth, and memory fixation we learn that adequate sleep is very, very important to the human condition.
My occasional “Bergen Park Dreams” are just another aspect of my sleep.
Links in this post:
iPhone Hell Continues
And so it goes
In order for my iPhone to see my Apple Watch I had to reset it to factory settings and now begin the task of reconfiguring it back to the way I liked it. I was on phone with Apple until 2 AM last night.
Now I begin the task of remembering, downloading, and reconfiguring every <expletive deleted> app on my iPhone and Apple Watch. Setting up email and remembering or changing passwords. Not how I had planned my day.
One thing is certain … my iPhone and watch will be leaner and meaner.
UPDATE – I am installing the latest Apple Watch version now (might as well there is no reason not too)
iOS 10.3.2 Trashed My iPhone
WARNING – RANT ALERT
The latest iOS 10.3.2 update has completely trashed my iPhone 6s Plus and by “trashed” I mean blasted it back to factory settings. I spent over five hours in online chat and phone calls with Apple support working between my iPad, MacBook, and iPhone. Only now do I have a semi working iPhone.
Here’s what happened – I set my iPhone up to upgrade to iOS 10.3.2 at about 6 PM before walking next door to have a beer (or two) with the neighbors as we often do. When I got back expecting all to be OK, my iPhone was in continuous reboot mode. It would briefly display the logon screen then immediately flash to the spinning wheel icon before re-displaying the logon screen, over and over and over again. The only way to break the cycle was to connect it to my MacBook and follow the instructions in the links below (provided by support).
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203899 and https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201412
I finally got it to the point of restoring from a backup and after going through all of the steps and waiting for everything to restore, it eventually went back into continuous reboot mode again. I ended up starting over from scratch several times and even attempting a restore from a backup made two days ago. I eventually got all the way to the end and … continuous reboot mode … again.
So start over again, but this time set it up as new iPhone without doing a restore. Luckily all of my contacts, photos, iTunes, and notes are safely in iCloud and available on my other Apple devices. They also appear to be mostly available on my iPhone, but I still need to reconfigure my email settings, selectively download and reconfigure apps (most of which require logon ID and password configuration), reset and reconfigure my alarms, and set my icons back to where I like them. I had also saved many web pages as icons so I will need to reconstruct these as well.
I also need to reconnect my Apple Watch, Fitbit Scale, and on and on and on.
UPDATE – can not get my Apple Watch to connect
A Real Good Time
Alternatively, dial (303) 499-7111 or tune your shortwave radio to two-point-five, five, ten, fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five megahertz.
Death in Paradise
My newest diversion … watching Death in Paradise on NETFLIX. British TV. Murder mystery. Crime solving. Humor.
A British inspector is transferred to Saint-Marie’s police department, but he hates the sun, sea, and sand. The series follow his investigations into murders on the island.
Actually the reviews below aren’t that favorable and include spoilers … but I am only on the second episode and I am enjoying it so far. I guess all shows eventually run their course.
Watch it if you can … (or not)
Left is “right”
In a previous post (Left? … or Right?) I asked your opinion regarding which on my new professional portraits you preferred. Sadly only maggie0019 formally responded with a comment. I would have preferred more data points before reaching a decision, but it is what it is. It is not too late to voice your opinion. I will update the results if I get more feedback.
As you can guess from the title of the post and the “FEATURED IMAGE” at the top, the Left portrait appears to be the “right” one.
The break down was interesting. My wife, oldest son, and his wife all preferred the portrait on the right. My sister, the photographer, and everyone* else chose the portrait on the left.
The Mrs thought that the Right image made me look slimmer. She also thought that my cheek in the Left image looked “bulbous”, to which I must agree.
Those who preferred the Left image thought I looked friendlier and more approachable. Maggie’s humans both preferred the Left image. Her young human Jamie cracked me up with “He looks like Teddy Roosevelt. We can call him The Square Deal now! Actually, he looks like a military person. I’m kind of intimidated right now. He doesn’t look like the guy who’d tell you to do 20 pushups…he looks like the guy who tells the guy who tells you to do 20 pushups!” Teddy Roosevelt? Hmm. I did think that some of the images I rejected in the screening session looked more like Wilford Brimley.
I have decided to use the Left image for now as my LinkedIn portrait and for other business related content, but I can mix and match as the spirit moves me.
* almost everyone else
Left? … or Right?
A? … or B?
This? … or This?
We’ve all been to the optometrist (or ophthalmologist) and had to look through the phoropter. Bet you didn’t know what it was called until now. Just another extra that you get but never pay for at Contrafactual.com. Wikipedia has an article on it HERE.
Anyway, back to phoropter … you look at one image of letters and numbers, then another whilst being asked “Which looks better … this? or this?” Eventually you reach a point where, try as you may, you can’t tell the difference.
Getting a professional portrait made is a lot like that. The photographer has you sitting or standing (or both, just not at the same time) and tells to move your head a little to the left or the right. Maybe he says something to make you smile. “Move your chin down just a bit … there!” Snap! Over and over and over. OK this part isn’t like looking through the phoropter, but the next part is.
Once the photographer is satisfied that he has enough shots (maybe a few dozen), you look at a display with an image on the left and one on the right. Left? … or Right? Left? … or Right? Left … or Right? Over and over and over until you can’t make up your mind.
Yesterday I had my first ever professional portrait session. My LinkedIn photo was years out of date and every selfie I have ever taken looks horrible. I had just completed a job interview and since I had a new suit on anyway I decided to stop by the portrait studio to schedule a sitting. He was available then and there and the price was fair, so I did it. Normally you get three sizes of the same image: high resolution for printing, medium resolution for webpages, and a square-cropped image for LinkedIn (or Gravatar, etc.) all for a flat fee. In my case I got down to the final two and could not decide. The photographer was nice enough to give me the three sizes of the two images for the price of one. If you live in the Houston Texas area be sure to check out Country Park Portraits.
So which one do you like best … Left? … or Right? *
I’ll let you know which one the Mrs likes best in the next post …
* note – should they display one above the other, the one on “the Left” will be above the one on “the Right”
Papers, have your papers out and ready
Did I say “papers?” I meant “permits.”
I generally try to keep this blog as apolitical as possible … but “I’m angry as hell an not going to take it any more.” Below is but one example of a nationwide epidemic.
Armed Agents Raid Park, Destroy Food, Seize Food Carts — Over Improper Permitting
Excerpts below …
Government agents have again let their true colors shine, in a latest attempt to fight one of the most pernicious and brutal crimes embattling far too many communities across the nation — a lack of permit.
These fearless agents of the State, peace officers, not only seized the food supposedly so in need of a permit, they dumped punch into storm drains and confiscated coolers, tables, chairs, canned soda, and literally everything in the vendors’ possession — the entire raid, captured on Facebook Live video.
Ironically-monikered peace officers claimed without elaborating or providing specific details on the video they’d received complaints — but the outpouring of support from the public and church communities, as well as outrage over the raid, did not evince any complainants relieved to see the picnicking quashed.
From diligent street vendors offering tasty bites to kids’ offering family-recipe lemonade to parched passersby, one thing has been made abundantly clear — permitting is out of control.
Permits are the government’s way of bilking people of money under the petulant guise of public safety — but the truth about permitting is much simpler and infinitely less benign.
‘You aren’t allowed to profit unless I get my cut,’ is what the State really says when Mexican food vendors, flood victims, little girls, and countless others receive fines and tickets — or have their possessions confiscated — due only to lack of permit.
That the Sacramento food vendors didn’t shirk legal responsibilities and had applied for the necessary permits when cops seized their wares again proves the issue has little to do with the permit, itself, and everything to do with an unreasonable government running roughshod on all of us.
As it always has been …
It’s all about the Benjamins
Read the entire article at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/food-raid-armed-agents/
Marine Blue Light Fluorescence
Check this out …
280 … and falling
Today I reached a new milestone … below 280.
I hope that this isn’t a stock-like “double bottom“.
Next target is 270 …
Chillin’ with Hilly
This looks promising* …
“Titan Note: Change The Way You Take Notes”
* if it works as advertised (I have ordered one and will report back when it arrives)
If you are a conni-sewer of really bad and clever puns, be sure to check out Little Fears at http://littlefears.co.uk/ (maybe even follow and support)
Day after day the pun-ishment continues …
Brother Rice Robotics
My t-shirt arrived
Last year I made a sizable donation to the Brother Rice Robotics team. This was after meeting Maggie’s family when they were here for the MATE ROV competition at the NASA “swimming pool” in Houston. With great pride I point out that Contrafactual.com is a listed sponsor.
Photo editing on iPad
One of the first apps I got for my iPad (and iPhone) was ArtStudio by Lucky Clan (http://www.luckyclan.com/) from the Apple App Store. Not being familiar with Photo Shop, I can’t make a feature by feature comparison, but I can state that ArtStudio does everything I have ever needed it to do. The price is right at $4.99. Below are screen shots from the App Store. As you can see it is rated quite highly.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Anyway the Mrs wanted to put pictures of son number two on the wall of “the office”. We had many pictures of him as a child, but none as an adult. Then I realized that I had pictures of him I had taken at the wedding of son number one a few years ago. One of them is the picture below. Unfortunately it appears that a dwarf in a hat is growing out of his shoulder.
So using Layers, surgically trimming of the edges (digitally), and applying Gaussian blur to the background I was able to clean up the image. I include a screen shot below of the layers.
The final image is below. I used the native iOS photo app to tweak the rotation and cropping of the edited image.
What do you think?
I love technology.
Wages of sin | UPDATE
Timing is everything …
The Mrs and I decided to take a road trip from Catbeard Manor in West Houston to Threadgill’s Armadillo World Headquarters restaurant in Austin. http://www.threadgills.com/
Little did we know it was the final weekend of SXSW. http://schedule.sxsw.com/
Miraculously we just pulled into the parking lot, found the one remaining handicapped parking spot (the Mrs MS grants us tags), and immediately got a table.
The Mrs had a top shelf margarita “Herradura”. I had coffee (designated driver). She had fried catfish with “corn off the cob” and sweet potato fries. I had meat loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy (after having meatloaf at home for the past two nights*).
Life is good …
* the definition of a meat loaf fetish
The Womack House
The Womack House restaurant was incorporated in 1981 on FM* 1093 east of Fulshear TX, a few months before the Mrs and I moved to Katy TX from Colorado fresh out of college. It was famous for “family style country food” and we ate there often when our kids were little.
Our first son was born in 1983. Coincidentally “Pancho and Lefty” by Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson debuted the same year. The song was still popular several years later and I bought the cassette of the album. “Pancho and Lefty” was one of my first son’s favorite songs. The Womack House had a lounge (bar) and at the time a country-western singer named Clell Conner was a fixture. After dinner we would often retire to the lounge and Clell would play “Pancho and Lefty” for us.
From the Houston Chronicle …
“It was located in an old house with a big front porch with several porch swings,” according to Linda Linn .
And April Andres says she once spied Nolan Ryan dining there.
Bonnie Meyer, a former employee, remembers serving “huge platters of chicken-fried steak, catfish, meatloaf, chicken and dumplings and all kinds of fresh vegetables.
When she worked there, she says, “the (waitresses) had to wear old-fashioned floor-length peasant-style dresses, and we would often sit on the swings outside waiting for our first customers to arrive.
“We kind of looked like the girls on the Chicken Ranch in La Grange!” she adds.
According to Chronicle archives, Womack House closed in 1994.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
I remember they had little galvanized pails of warmed saltine crackers.
Today I had lunch with an old friend at a Chinese restaurant in a new subdivision near Fulshear. All of this new construction sort of snuck up on me over the years. Roads that I remember as dirt roads out in the country are now four lane boulevards with large tree-filled medians. On a whim, I decided to drive out to Fulshear and see if I could find The Womack House.
It is now a day care facility, but it is still there (complete with porch swings).
* FM in Texas stands for Farm to Market road
DVD Episode 139 Jan. 16, 1982: Landmark Inn, Castroville / H Graham-Clocks, Marble Falls / J Wilson-Antique Guns, Pyote / Clell Conner-Cowboy Singer, Liberty / Spradley-Telephones, McGregor
PS “Pancho and Lefty” is a current staple on the Mrs playlist today. She has both the Merle and Willie version as well as a couple of Townes Van Zandt versions.
PPS At one point we had a vinyl album (33 1/3) of Clell Conner’s music that we bought from him at The Womack House. If I can find it, I will address in a future post.
A picture …
is worth – as they say.
I previously told you I had lost 40+ pounds and was below 300 for the first time in I don’t know when. I think I also told you that I had replaced my size 56″ jeans with 52″ and then 48″.
You may also recall that I have been out of work since last March when I got laid off in the oil patch down-turn. I thought my savings would last longer than they did. I have started aggressively looking for work, but nothing so far.
This brings up the question of interview clothing – can’t wear jeans. What about my old work khakis?
Not quite halfway there – but it is an impressive start when viewed above.
Prius 13 Update
- “I warned you not to stir the oxygen tanks,” my service writer replied.
Houston, we have a problem.
I noticed one of my warnings lights was on as I drove through the parking lot. No wait. ALL OF MY WARNING LIGHTS WERE ON. The main console was lit up like a Christmas tree. I pulled into a parking space and rebooted the car (aka turning it off and on). All of the warning lights stayed on and the primary notification window alternated between “CHECK PCS SYSTEM” and “CHECK HYBRID SYSTEM”.
My Prius had gone Apollo 13 on me.
With my luck, it’s the AE-35 Unit.
It wasn’t the AE-35 Unit.
It was the Flux Capacitor … or the financial equivalent thereof.
= = =
Thursday was a busy day at CatBeard Manor. The Mrs was back from the hospital but still wheelchair-bound. A plumber was out, reaming a decades-old clog from our plumbing to allow the upstairs toilet to flush without filling up the tub. A cable technician was out for the nth time troubleshooting my abysmal Internet performance. And finally, the first wave of physical therapy had arrived to evaluate the Mrs. So I was calling Toyota every hour or so trying to get an update on the Prius. No joy.
Late in the afternoon, after everyone had left my house, I decided to drive over to Toyota and talk in-person to my service writer. I drove the rental car to the front, parked, got out, and got a free cup of coffee in the lobby before stalking my service writer.
I walked up behind him and said “you’re a very difficult guy to get a hold of.”
“It’s been a goat rodeo here,” he replied.
“I came by to get some free coffee and while I was here decided to stop by and find out what was up with my Prius.”
I got a smile. “Let me go in the back and find out what’s going on.”
He was gone a long time.
When he came back he was carrying two sheets of paper. The first sheet of paper was a printout, the first line of which had HYBRID BATTERY with a bunch of Xs after it in various columns indicating various failed tests. The second sheet was blank save for handwritten numbers indicating cost of the part, tax, and labor. The total was $5600 or so.
$5600 Deep breath. Did I mention that I have been out of work since last February? I got laid off following my 15 year anniversary award with a major oil field services company. “Yeah I was afraid it would be this.” The discussion then went on to how I had read that the cost had come down and/or that individual battery cells could be replaced. Maybe, but not through Toyota. “Is there anyway this might be covered under warranty?” I asked. “Let’s find out,” he replies.
Typing ensues. Screens pop up on his monitor. He pulls out a little book and starts leafing through it. This goes on for what seems like an eternity. Then he reaches over to the sheet with $5600 handwritten on it, crumples it up with one hand, and tosses it in the trash. Now I am staring at a screen showing the warranty status of various subsystems for my car. Each them shows that it is out of warranty – EXCEPT for the HYBRID BATTERY. It is warranteed to 100,000 miles. My car has less than 100,000 miles on it.
“So,” I ask tentatively, “it’s under warranty?”
“Are you sure?”
“I want to kiss you.”
He had some more paperwork to do, so I walked over to get more free coffee. Then I went to the car rental desk and requested a printout of the contract on the car had I rented the day before. I intended to try to get Toyota to comp me for the rental car, since it was warranty work. When I got back to the service desk, my service writer was way ahead of me. “You have a rental car, yes? We’ll cover that.” He called over to rental desk and made it so.
As I left, I shot him a thumbs-up. “Free replacement battery pack. Free rental car. Free coffee. Can’t beat that.”
He smiled. “Especially the free coffee. It may not be good, but it’s free.”
“I warned you not to stir the oxygen tanks,” my service writer replied.
Houston, we have a problem.
It has not been a good week at CatBeard Manor. Last Thursday the Mrs lost feeling, then function in her left leg. It was effectively “dead”. It had been bothering her for a while prior to this. (MS? Leg? Spine? MS? Leg? Spine?) She immediately called her neurologist, but it rolled over to voicemail. I broke out the wheelchair which we use from time to time when the Mrs feels particularly exhausted. Feeling and function returned over the weekend. I put away the wheelchair and broke out the walker. By Sunday evening she was “free walking” once again, unaided.
On Monday her left leg began acting up again. That afternoon I was out running errands when she called to say that the neurologist had called. “Go directly to the ER to be admitted to hospital for tests. Do not pass GO! Do not collect $200.” It was after 4 PM. I went home and collected the Mrs, the wheelchair, and several bags of supplies. We knew the drill. By the time they put her in an “observation” room they had run X-rays and a CAT scan of her head to rule out stroke, blood tests, and ultra-sound of her leg to rule out a blood clot. It was 2 AM Tuesday when she got to her room. I went home exhausted and got little sleep.
On Tuesday afternoon they scheduled her for cranial, cervical, and lumbar MRI (head, neck, back). She finished these up at 5 PM. I stayed until 10 PM, then left for home. Unable to fall asleep, I had a second mostly sleepless night.
When I got to the hospital today (Wednesday), I got the diagnosis that she had torn ligaments in her back from previous falls and probable degenerative disk disease causing irritation of nerves to her leg (a visit to the neurosurgeon who worked on my back several years ago would likely be in our future). They were sending her home with instructions to rest and a home health physical therapist would be set up to visit. She was scheduled to be discharged late in the afternoon.
I decided to run out and get some lunch. It was just before 2 PM. I walked out to parking lot, got into our 2010 Prius, and drove off. I noticed one of my warnings lights was on as I drove through the parking lot. No wait. ALL OF MY WARNING LIGHTS WERE ON. The main console was lit up like a Christmas tree. I pulled into a parking space and rebooted the car (aka turning it off and on). All of the warning lights stayed on and the primary notification window alternated between “CHECK PCS SYSTEM” and “CHECK HYBRID SYSTEM”.
My Prius had gone Apollo 13 on me.
I drove straight to my nearby Toyota dealer, waited to get my favorite service writer and told him my Prius had gone Apollo 13. “I warned you not to stir the oxygen tanks,” he replied. They would not even be able to begin troubleshooting on it until tomorrow. With my luck, it’s the AE-35 Unit.
Anyway, I went over to the rental counter and while waiting I got a call from the Mrs informing me that she was being discharged. I arrived in time in the rental car to pick her up at front door (an aid brought her down in her wheelchair with all of our gear).
Tomorrow is another day.
Just ran across this on INDIEGOGO. Looked interesting. You might agree.
95% of survival situations are resolved in 72 hours. But those first 72 hours are extremely critical. With this in mind, our kits are carefully curated to provide you everything you need, and nothing you don’t to get through those vital 3 days. We aren’t weighing you down with things you will never use, and we don’t sell you things that aren’t going to help. Just the essentials, organized so even the most inexperienced among us will have the tools and instructions to change their situation for the better. https://unchartedsupplyco.com/company/our-story
CHEMEX | “I wonder …”
“I wonder …” a question one should never ask if one has access to the Internet.
Recall from my previous post that I finally bought a length of leather thong to refurbish my CHEMEX. Today “I wonder …” crossed my mind.
From the CHEMEX website
I do not know what the shipping cost would be.
The irony is that the cost of new wood collar + wooden bead + leather tie direct from CHEMEX is about what I paid for the leather thong at the craft store.
Perhaps in the future I will upgrade. It is nice to know that I can.
CHEMEX | Restored
Not long ago I posted that I had been gifted a vintage CHEMEX coffee carafe. After taking it apart and cleaning it, I foolishly attempted to recondition the leather thong that holds the wooden insulators together by soaking it in leather conditioner. When I tried to put it back together today the old thong disintegrated.
So I did what I should have just done in the first place. I drove to a nearby craft store and bought a length of new leather thong. The CHEMEX is now assembled. Filter paper had previously arrived from Amazon. A bag of whole bean “Christmas Blend” was obtained from the new Starbucks that opened up around the corner.
I followed the ritual as described below
Quite satisfactory … and satisfying.
When I told him I was looking for a CHEMEX coffee carafe, my friend in Florida told me I could probably find a used one much cheaper than a new one. He also told me one can frequently find a used one at significantly cheaper cost (than on Amazon) by visiting thrift shops, eBay, etc. He sent me several links.
Days (weeks?) later he told me that while rummaging around in his house he found one. Knowing my friend this is entirely believable. You would have to see his place …
Digging out the packing peanuts – like digging out rice cakes
* AUG 34 FOR 2.99 – $2.99 at a thrift store I believe, but what does the “34” mean?
Cartel Coffee Lab
From the folks who brought you A Chemex Brew Guide.
A Chemex Brew Guide
A certain Chef Jimbo might be interested in this …
See also Mr. Chemex (http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/mr-chemex/)
My friend in Florida has been sending me info on Chemex since I told him I was thinking of getting one to replace my Kuerig.
Mink Stole – Old School
Belonged to my wife’s grandmother on her father’s side.
Maggie made me think of it … https://maggieshelterdog.com/2016/12/01/news/
TBM vs NATM
Two excellent short videos on how tunneling is accomplished. In case you ever wondered …
TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine)
NATM (New Austrian Tunneling Method)
Now … wasn’t that fascinating?
Everything You Know …
It really is, you know …
And now …
for something completely different to take your mind off of T & C