News in the News

Amid all the shootings, and stories about people blowing each other up, is a scattering of nonsensical news items that make me pause and go, “Hmmm.”

First, I must tell you that I typically don’t watch the news and I rarely read the newspapers that are delivered to our door, so my news view is decidedly limited. Still, I have opinions about what I see when reading “Bing” news on my computer.

Using that handy doorway to the world I’m able to choose from many sources for any of the news items they deem noteworthy. I have my favorites, of course, but tend to look at the most recent entries available. I suspect the trivial items are included to dilute ones perception of news in general to keep their interest. You know, like scattering candy in a pile of crap to make it look more festive.

Take today, for instance. I’ve investigated the world and discovered that a “Popular Tucson TV Reporter Couple” have been charged with child abuse after their baby tested positive for cocaine. This was accomplished through the use of the former Miss Arizona contestant’s shapely left breast, while feeding her infant, after she ingested cocaine the previous evening. How fun. Now she’s newsworthy, but no longer reporting the news. Dumb.

Then there’s news about a Milwaukee woman who has been added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. She’s the suspect in the murder of her pregnant neighbor and her unborn infant because of loud music. One source indicated that Shanika, the suspect, is Milwaukee’s first fugitive on the ‘Ten Most Wanted List’, like it’s some kind of honor, like when the Bucks win a ball game. Kinda makes you want to move to Milwaukee, doesn’t it?

How about Mark Z, Mr. Facebook? He’s making all his new Kauai neighbors angry because he’s building a six-foot high wall around his 700 acre estate. That’s certainly noteworthy, don’t you think? His spokespeople said the wall is meant to be a sound barrier but I think it’s there to keep the wild pigs out. Or maybe keep them in. One resident of the island reported that she’s 5’8″ tall and when walking along the property all she can see is the rock wall instead of the Hawaiian scenery to which she’s accustom. They want Mark to tear down the wall because it’s an eye sore. I mean, really? It was built to code, using local rocks and, most likely, local artisans. I think it’s a nice looking wall. I also think a more simple solution to tearing it down would be for Mark to build platforms outside the wall, every 100 feet or so, where those who are less than 6′ tall can ascend above the wall and take in all of Mark’s natural beauty. Each ramp would have to have wheelchair access, of course.

 For the sports minded folks, there’s news about LeBron James who declined his player option and is now a free agent. The reason, I surmise, is due to his inherently greedy nature that propels him to seek more and more money for his “talents”. Yes, he’s pretty good but, like all pro sports icons, waaaaaay overpaid for what they do. Declining the option, it is reported, James salary will increase from $24 million to $27.5 million a year, a modest 14.58% increase. Not bad for someone who already has far more money than he needs.

I know, I sound a bit bitter talking about stuff like that, and probably smacks a lot like socialism. That’s not really it for me. It’s just that I find it amazing that professional athletes, and most CEO’s make such obscene amounts of money each year when we severely under educated kids, many of whom don’t know what having a full belly is like. It’s just sad.

There are many more topics, of course, most of them about people getting shot and places being blown to smithereens. You know, fun things to read about. The topper for all of today’s news, for me, was finding out that there might be a Tetris Trilogy in our future.

Stunning news.

Hilton Waikaloa Village

Today I got up early and stepped out onto the balcony to see what the weather was like. It was really nice, and there were no clouds obstructing Mauna Kea. I could even see the Keck Observatory right on the tippy top. Hard to believe that that mountain is 13,756 feet tall. I mean, look at it. Those palm trees are taller than that!

IMG_2709

Diane got up shortly after I did and suggested that we start eating as much of the food we have left as we can so our luggage won’t be so heavy when we check in for our flight home tomorrow. All we have left to eat tomorrow morning is 4 eggs, two pieces of bread, most of a jar of peanut butter, a bunch of crackers, three apples, a bag of chips, and 3 more bottles of wine. We should be done with that in a few hours.

After breakfast we drove over to the Waikaloa Village side of this massive complex to check out the dolphin pool ($250 to pet them), and to see if our favorite covered lounge chairs were available so we could hang out and watch the sunset.

When we got to the entrance, the shuttle train was just sitting there waiting for us. Since we needed to travel to the extreme far side to the best sunset viewing area, we got on the train and rode it all the way to the end, to the building that looks like three of the olympic ring circles from space. Or the front end of an Audi. When it’s following you really close.

The lounge chair pair we wanted were kind of isolated on a little hill and it, as did all of the other lounge chairs located along the water side of the area, had little signs on them that they must be reserved. Seeing a little booth not far away, I wandered over to see what was necessary to secure our coveted lounge chairs. That’s where I met Kona. Before discussing chairs I mentioned that he had a cool name and asked if it was really his name or a stage name. He said it’s really his. I let him know that I thought it was an absolutely, totally appropriate name for a young man, who works at Waikoloa, not far from Kona, to be named Kona. What a coincidence. IMG_2717

Kona told me the lounge chairs cost $58 for the day and they come with a cabana boy or girl who would supply water, drinks, and food as necessary for the duration of our stay. Talking it over with my lovely bride, we decided $58 didn’t seem bad since we hadn’t spent much on anything else, so I went back and told Kona we’d take it. He said that since it was really slow people wise, if we waited until 2:00 pm it would be half price. He said that because he knew we were going back to our room for a while to eat lunch and that it would probably take an hour.

Back at the room we had a microwave prepared tuna macaroni and cheese casserole which was extremely good. Ir had to be done in the micro because we didn’t have a real oven to work with. It worked out well because my bride is a crafty cook. By the time we got done it was after 2:00 pm. By the time we got back to the sunset viewing area it was after 2:30, but our lounge chair choice, #5, was still vacant so I went to Kona’s little booth and attempted to book it for the remainder of the afternoon. He declined, telling me that it was so late, and there weren’t many people around, to just use it, no charge. I tipped him $10, which he was very reluctant to take, and went back to #5 where my bride awaited my return.

We settled ourselves, and began the wait by drinking water and trying to avoid looking directly at the sun which was right in front of us. It was very bright and made our eyes burn. Literally. They burned. It was distressing to me so I reclined my chair and closed my eyes for a short nap. For that I will no doubt pay dearly tomorrow when I awake with blisters on my nipples and around my belly button. It’s going to hurt a great deal, I’m sure, but they will hopefully keep me warm when we return to Oregon tomorrow afternoon where its way less than 86 degrees. And not sunny. Or dry.IMG_2762

The sun went down, as planned, and it was pretty, but not overly dramatic. Still, it was very nice to be sitting in the same place we spent on our 45th wedding anniversary trip. Sunsets in Hawaii are special no matter if they are dramatic or not. That’s especially true when you’re with your one true love. As was I.

After the sun was gone we groped our way back to one of the bridges, took a wrong turn, and wound up at a boat dock where a boat was just being loaded. That was very good because it meant we wouldn’t have to walk all the way back to the entrance which was about a mile away. Really. It’s about a mile.

The boat ride was very nice. We got back to our assigned vehicle and headed out of the parking area but had to stop at the entrance to get a good look at all the palm trees that were decorated for Christmas. Very festive.IMG_2777

Then it was back to our room where we decompressed and went to bed for our last night on the island. It’s been a very good, relaxing vacation. It always is over here. One day soon we hope to have all the kids come with us so they can experience it with us.

Here’s a natural swimming area where folks can visit with the fish and turtles. It’s connected directly to the ocean but completely safe for kids and old people. Snorkelers abound in this pool.

IMG_2724

This waterfall is at the end of the swimming area. The path goes behind the water should one choose to walk instead of swim to the other side.IMG_2733

1968 Chevy Truck, Electricity, Spaghetti, and Soccer

Today I spent a lot of hours on the old pickup truck. Here’s what it looked like before I started.

DSC_0186

It actually looked the same once I was done, but it’s now turned around, pointing to the right. I don’t remember when I took this picture, but the truck just never changes.

Today, my efforts were focused on just getting the starter to function correctly. Before I got into it too far, I decided to just remove the starter and take it back to NAPA for a test. You see, it functions OK for about 2 seconds, then the Bendix just quits and the starter keeps spinning. If the Bendix gives up, everyone in the entire world knows that means the little gear on the end of it isn’t going to turn the big gear on the engine. All those people also know that if the engine doesn’t rotate, it’s not going to start. As I said, however, the little gear engages the big gear for about 2 seconds before it quits, allowing the starter to spin wildly out of control, consuming massive amounts of energy, until you release the key. So, the Bendix was suspect.

The guy at NAPA, Dave, I think his name was, happily took the starter to the tester, strapped it down with a bungee cord and applied power to it. The Bendix kicked out like it’s supposed to and it remained out the entire time power was supplied, so it was deemed to be working just fine. No amount of whining on my part could convince Dave that his test was a no-load effort. So, I took the starter back to the truck and took a critical look at the wires and noticed that they probably weren’t in the best shape ever. They do, however, conduct electricity and they aren’t shorted to ground. “Shorted,” for those who may not be familiar with this term, means the wires are short enough that the electricity can’t reach the ground. That’s true.

It was a perplexing situation, for sure. I turn the key, the engine would turn for a couple of seconds, then the Bendix would disengage. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to just eliminate as many connections as I could between the starter, the battery. That meant bypassing the ignition, the little switch that makes sure it’s in Park, and the one behind the fuse box that goes through the firewall. It’s a purple wire, and purple wires don’t go through a fuse so it isn’t really connected to the fuse box so it can go directly out through the wall into the engine compartment.

Whether or not you want to know, here’s how I did all of that.

First, I went into the newest of the old RVs we have, and retrieved a push button switch that I previously had installed in it because the ignition switch quit functioning for the part that sent power to the starter. But, the button kept fall off, and getting in the way, so I removed it and now all I have to do to start it is turn the key on and hold two wires together until it fires up. Probably not the best solution, but it works quite well.

Taking the switch to the pickup, I first found a likely hole on the left side of the dash into which the switch would fit. I found the perfect place, but before securing it, I had to make sure it worked like I wanted.

It just occurred to me that I should give everyone a little refresher course on basic electricity, even though everyone in the entire world already knows this stuff, and I probably should have done it sooner. Better late than never, and doing it will help me get it straight in my head.

First Rule – there are two types of electrical current – AC and DC. Both of them require copious amounts of electrons which are the little critters that make you jiggle all over when you happen to touch a bare wire that’s connected to a power source. They literally ‘fly’ through your body and the jiggling you experience is caused by all the cells in your body dodging left and right, trying to get out of their way. Got it? It’s not a good thing to do, touching a bare wire. Exciting, yes, but still not a good thing to do.

AC is Alternating Current – that means the electricity is created by exciting a bunch of electrons with a generator that causes the current to go up and down, up and down, like a yo-yo, until all the electrons in the wires develop a bi-polar disorder and they don’t know which way they’re going. To them, it’s back and forth, back and forth in the wires, going through stoves, air conditioners, washers, dryers, refrigerators, light bulbs, and, once in a while, a warm body.  Behind pretty much every wall in your house there are wires jam-packed with excited electrons that are just waiting for the chance to go somewhere else. The preferred destination of every one of them is ALWAYS the shortest path to ground. Yes, to ground. Like the dirt you dig in when planting flowers that will die unless you water them. Or a garden you plant that the deer just love. That ground. That’s because the ultimate desire of every electron in this ‘circuit’ is to return to its source, as in the other side of the motor that excited them so much. To do this they must use the earth because the power companies chose this manner in order to save money on wire. By stuffing a huge wire into the ground and connecting it to one side of their generator, and just providing one wire from the generator to a house, the house must also be connected to ground, to complete the circuit, allowing the electrons a way to get home, they save an absolute ton of money. Sounds kind of lame, I know, but it works.

DC is Direct Current – that means the electricity flows only in one direction so all the electrons have a sense of purpose, all moving together from the positive side of their source, back to the negative side. You are familiar with this type of power in the form of batteries. The kind the run your cell phone, portable radios, iPods, flash lights, and your vehicles. The complexity of today’s vehicles is mind-boggling compared to what I was dealing with today, but the concept is still the same. The battery sends power, if it’s charged, to the parts that are connected to ground. In the case of a vehicle, however, ‘ground’ is any metal surface on it, especially the engine. In the case of my truck, the negative side of the battery is bolted directly to the engine block. The positive side is bolted directly to the starter. Now reading this, you may think that the starter should be spinning all the time, but it doesn’t. That’s because those who build vehicles use trickery on the electrons to make them stand around for long periods of time before ‘closing’ a circuit, by means of a switch or, perhaps, a key. A key! You turn it clockwise, and things happen. Lights dance around on your dash-board and the  ‘system’, your vehicle’s computer, goes through the same kind of start-up routine your home computer does, but different. If you watch the lights and gauges, they all do the same routine when you turn the key “ON”. Then the system waits. The electrons have been given a glimpse of the excitement to come, and are all crowing up to various switches, waiting to explode down their assigned wires when a circuit is ‘closed’ with the flip of a switch. When you turn the key a little bit further, you engage the starter. Although the starter is connected directly to the positive side of the battery (at least in my truck it’s a direct connect because in 1968 things were simple) the starter doesn’t spin, and the Bendix doesn’t engage, because it’s waiting for you to turn that key a little bit further, allowing electrons to rush to the Bendix which closes contacts that allow all the electrons in the BIG wire on the starter to engage the Bendix and spin the starter motor. When you hear the motor start, you release the key and it magically goes back to the “ON” position.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes! I was eliminating the various connectors between the battery and the small wire to the starter, the one that closes the contacts that allow power to be consumed by the starter motor. What I did was connect one wire from the fuse box, that only has voltage when the key is ON, to one side of my push button switch. I know, I probably told you it went behind the fuse box earlier, and it does, and it’s purple, but the power is connected to it via the ignition switch, not the fuse box. Since I removed the ignition switch from the equation, I needed a new power source, but one that was only available when the key is turned ON. I used a big red wire which is probably illegal in someway, but I did it anyway. I didn’t have a purple one.

From the other side of the push button switch I ran one wire, with no connectors, through the firewall, directly to the little wire connector on the starter. Now all that was between the starter and success was one little switch.

Before doing that, however, I hooked it all up to the starter, which I jammed under the right front tire, to make sure the push button did the trick. Everything sounded like it worked OK, but I couldn’t really see it because once wires were connected to the push button, I bolted it into the nifty hole I found on the left side of the dash. I layed down on the seat and pushed the button with my left foot, but I still couldn’t see the starter, I could only hear it. It sounded just like it did when Dave checked it at NAPA, so I figured everything was good to go. Here’s how I did it …

DSC_7249

Reinstalling the starter is a whole other story so I’ll just skip that part and get right to the meat of this story and tell you that absolutely nothing changed. All that work, and the Bendix still released after only a couple of seconds.

I was all pumped up for a successful ending, and nothing had changed. I even stopped in the middle of all that to eat a spaghetti lunch, that Diane fixed for me, with half a loaf of baguette bread, my favorite. I was READY.

I knew, however, that repeated attempts to start the engine in this manner would ultimately work. The engine does start, but it takes a while.

Tomorrow I think I’ll drive the truck down to NAPA and invite Dave out to start it for me and see what he thinks.

To end the day Diane and I went to the High School to watch the JV soccer team, the one Lydia is on, play against Aloha High School. Aloha won 2-0. Both teams had lots of kicks at the net, but only Aloha’s went in. It’s still a very confusing game, to me, with the referees blowing their whistles in a seemly random manner and making odd gestures with their arms and hands to identify the infraction as if everyone in the crowd knows exactly what’s on his mind. I guess I’m going to have to study this a little more closely. Maybe get some pictures from the internet that shows me what those gestures actually mean.

Now it’s 2222, swear to God, and time for me to go to bed. I’ve got a big day ahead of me tomorrow because I have to make sure the newest old RV starts, then take it down to get gas so we can go to the beach on Thursday.

If it doesn’t start I may have to run some more wires, or get a lawyer.

Oh. This is all the ‘stuff’ I had left over when I was done with NOT accomplishing a single useful thing today …

DSC_7251

Bunco Bacon and Tomato Cups (BBTC)

The following is submitted to honor a special request by Linda in response to yesterday’s post … it’s one of many recipes available to Bunco groups everywhere for one-handed food items that leave one hand free to roll the dice.

Ingredients

8 slices of bacon – the thicker the better
4 large eggs
1 jar of blackberry jam (seedless)
2 pieces of white bread
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (16 ounce) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough

Directions

  1. Preheat your favorite oven to 375 F, then lightly grease the mini muffin pan you just conveniently found in your basement. You can dust it first, if you wish, but it’s not necessary because the heat will kill anything living on it.
  2. Over medium heat, cook the bacon until it’s evenly brown and extremely brittle. Drain the pieces on paper towels, if you wish, or just let them soak in one corner of the pan while you fry the four eggs in the bacon grease.
  3. Start your toast. We use non-nutritional white bread because it’s better for us. It’s true. A doctor said so.
  4. When the toast pops up, the eggs are done. Trust me on this. Just butter the toast, but the two pieces on a warmed plate, and dump two eggs on each piece. Pierce the yolks so the toast will soak them up. I use a fork, but I’m sure a pointy finger will work OK. Put the bacon on top of the eggs, fold them in half, and have a great breakfast (or lunch, or dinner). You might want to lean over you plate to catch the yolk running off your chin.
  5. Put the jam away because you don’t need it.
  6. Now, while you’re digesting all that protein, you’re ready to do some work.
  7. Get the bag of fresh bacon bits that you recently found on third shelf down in your refrigerator, all the way to back where you rarely look. Using the “By Guess By Golly” method, remove two handfuls of bits and place them into a medium size mixing bowl. Or, you can skip this part until well into the baking process and just dump them on top.
  8. Add the chopped tomato, & onion. Since tomatoes and onions are sold in a stunning variety of sizes, you can adjust the number needed based on how you ‘feel’ when you’re chopping them. I call this the Zen approach. I prune bushes this way, too. You can use Zen for anything.
  9. Add the Swiss cheese, mayonnaise, and basil to the bowl. Again, the amount of Swiss cheese is subjective. The original recipe calls for 3 ozs, which is a pitiful amount of cheese no matter what kind it is, or for what purpose it’s being used. So, we used a 5 oz bag of shredded cheese. You can either guess at 3 ozs, or double the recipe using the entire bag, and call it good. That’s what we did.
  10. Stir the mixture thoroughly until you can’t tell there’s any Swiss cheese in it. Then set the bowl aside in a place where you won’t forget it.
  11. Peel the little paper tab off the can of biscuit dough and beat it on the edge of your counter until it explodes. Carefully remove one biscuit and separate it into halves horizontally. Place each half into the prepared mini muffin pan, pushing it down in the middle to form a cute little cup. Continue doing this until the pan is full if cute little cups. This, generally, results in some dough being left over so you have the option to either eat what’s left, or place it into a sandwich bag for storage. Place the bag in the refrigerator in a place where it’s sure to be pushed to the back of the shelf onto which you placed it. You could just leave the unused portion in the can, and place it on the shelf, but putting it in a sandwich back makes it easier to throw away when you find it next year.
  12. Using a small spoon, fill each biscuit half with the mixture from the bowl you set aside in step 10.
  13. Place the mini muffin pan in the preheated oven and bake until the edges are golden brown. Using this method you must stare at the muffins for the entire time to ensure they don’t get beyond golden brown, or you are doomed. If you prefer using a timer, set it to either 10 or 12 minutes — 10 minutes so you can check them, or 12 minutes if you’re feeling lucky.

When the dinger dings, if you used a time, remove the muffin pan from the oven and put it somewhere to cool that the cat isn’t likely to visit for the next 30 minutes. Or, just put the cat outside first.

Once they are cooled, you can remove them from the pan and stack them on a plate in a manner that will ensure they stick to each other. Or, you can leave them in the pan and use it as a serving tray (the better choice).

At this point you wait until your spouse is diverted by something (anything) then you rush the muffins to your car. He isn’t allowed to have any unless the Bunco Group, for which you made these, with his help, feel benevolent and leave one or two. So, he gets one, and likes it, even though it’s cold and has been sitting around for the past three hours. I think basil is added to the mixture so you can tell if bugs have actually deposited anything on the muffins.

He’ll still like it.

In case you’re really interested in this, here’s the real recipe.

 

My Eyeballs

First, the cherry pie last night was wonderful. I was allowed to dip the ice cream which made it even better. The pie was still warm from the 2-hour cool down period so we timed it just perfectly.

So, I went to the VA again this morning. Not as early as last time, and I didn’t go alone. As most of you already know, I’m not allowed to drive long distances from the house because Diane isn’t sure I’ll find my way back. As a result, I’ve learned to be a good passenger.  A really good one.  I think I’m past the phase where I thought it was OK to say stuff, like “if I was following that close, you’d be yelling at me.” Or, “if I was driving, I would have turned back there. It’s shorter.” Or, “you cut that corner awful close back there.” I’ve learned that saying things like that create more situations for someone to be mean to you.

Just saying’ …

The VA optometry department uses young students to do all the hard work figuring out if your eyeballs are properly aligned, configured, and up to date. Then they go get a real doctor to check the results and he does it again. All of the students are female Asian people, as far as I can tell. That isn’t a racial issue, just an observation. Whenever I am attended by anyone at the VA, for anything, I always ask them if they love their job. Most of the time I’m greeted with an excited “yes”, but today it was more of a non-comment. She was serious about her tasks, and suspect she did them well, but I could tell they weren’t tasks she was thrilled to be doing. Being prudent, like I am, I didn’t press the issue. She was, after all, fiddling around with my eyes and I don’t have spares. So, I just sat back and obeyed her every command.

The first thing she did, once I was seated in her exam chair, was have me read the bottom lines of her eye charts which were behind me, but reflected on a mirror on a far wall in front of me. Tricky. The letters should have been backwards, but they weren’t. I could read them just fine. After that was done she searched around on her desk until she found the absolutely brightest light she had  which she began shining into one eye, then the other.  I think she had already put some drops into my eye, but can’t remember. At that point, I was consumed with the light. I have to admit that the residual image it left was a pretty green circle that turned blue when I blinked. Very festive.  The lights took about half an hour, then she put the dilating drops into my eyes and sent me to the waiting room to let them work for a while. I waited patiently, playing Sudoku on my iPad, and looking for a new book. I just finished James Rollins “Bloodline”. A fun read because lots of stuff blows up.

When she called me back to the chair, my eyes must have been mostly black because they were sucking in all the light they could find. I’m sure I could see in the dark about then. Very little light was required. So, what does she do? She breaks out and even brighter light and went through all the tests again – look up, look down, look left, look right, look right and down, look left and up, look right and up, look left and down. Just like that, over and over. At one point she changed it up on me and held her hand in front of her chest and commanded me to look there. I did, but I gotta tell ya, there’s not a lot to see when they’re wearing lab coats.

Finally, it was done and she went to get the real doctor who, as I already related, did the tests again, but in a more brief fashion. I think he was just spot checking the student. That’s OK. They need to be spot checked. While he looked, he relayed information to the student who typed it into my record, kind of like a dentist does only she had pictures of eyeballs, not teeth. Then he gave me the good news that my eyes looked healthy and there isn’t any evidence of a diabetic problem which means I can increase my candy intake right away. He also told me that the retina in my left eye has some wrinkles in it that will go away if I make more of an effort to keep my eyes wide open at all times, when not sleeping. That’s a lie, of course. Wrinkles happen. I’ve got wrinkles all over, so why not on my retina? Actually, I already knew this from the last visit. It’s no worse, it’s just not something that’s going to go away. Also, I don’t need new glasses because my prescription hasn’t changed. Exciting stuff.

I was finally released after about 1.5 hours and called Diane to come and get me. Before the appointment she dumped me out front and rushed off to the closest Goodwill store seeking ‘things’ she didn’t know she needed. It’s actually good exercise for her because she walks all over the store the entire time, hanging on to her cart into which she tosses random items which she will re-evaluate before hitting the checkout stand. She just grabs stuff before anyone else can get it on the off-chance it might be something useful. Normally it is. And, she has a good time.

She said she’d be around in 10 minutes so I waited a few, then took my dilated eyes outside into the bright sunshine. Just as soon as I went out the front door I figured my eyes were dilated to about 8 cm because my water broke and ran down my face. This happened even though I was wearing a pair of those slip behind your glasses fake sunglasses. It helped, but not enough. Still, I toughed it out and walked up the sidewalk to a point where I knew Diane would see me when she arrived. I knew she would, because I did that one other visit and she drove right past me. Boy. did I give a talking to that I’ll regret forever! It was educational because I was able to visualize my boundaries and talking points more clearly once she was done explaining things to me. Because of that, I knew she would remember, as did I.

Even though my eyes have been certified to be OK, and will last for many years with proper care, I intend to continue practicing braille when possible. I’m going down to DMV tomorrow and see if they can give me a braille version of their manual so I can study for my test next year. If they don’t have one, I’m calling the ACLU, by golly.

The trip home was uneventful. No one tried to run over us. Unusual for Highway 30, but a pleasant change.

Once home we were both very hungry. I was hungry during my test. I knew this because my stomach made various kinds of gurgling noises throughout all the left, right directions. It didn’t ruffle the student at all, but I wonder what she would have done had I farted, as I wanted to do. Repressing my flatulent nature probably contributed to the gurgling. Normally, I don’t repress farts because it is my firm belief if farts are withheld repeatedly, they eventually turn into burps that taste like crap. Thinking about that reminds me of a saying I heard somewhere, that when you’re kissing someone, you’re just sucking on a 30′ tube that’s half full of crap. Kinda takes the romance out of it, doesn’t it?

For lunch Diane and I had custom nachos – I made the bite-sized ones for both of us. They are really good. For dessert we each ate another piece of cherry pie with ice cream. Just when I was settling into a semi-slumber mode, the dogs started barking because Jennie and Jeran showed up for a visit. It’s always good to see them. Actually, Ozzie’s the only one who barks – Panzee kinda talks to those she knows. Unless it’s a cat. Or another dog. Or a deer.

Changing gears, here are some totally unrelated pictures you may enjoy.

Ozzie on guard in the geraniums – he thinks he’s blending in.

IMG_0578

My favorite dry cleaners, on the way to Pill Hill (VA Hospital). I’ve mentioned this.

IMG_0584

OK – that’s it. Now I need to go out and clean up some more brush from my previous weed whacking efforts.

Toodles.

Hot Tub, Weed Whacking & A Water Show

Saturday afternoon, once I got over my coffee induced nap, it was determined that I should do something around the house for a change. Specifically, attempt to resurrect our empty hot tub and make it work. before draining it a few weeks ago, it was flashing a variety of error codes at me that I had to research on the internet. One of them indicated it thought there was no water in the heater, and another one thought it was overheating. Conflicting and confusing, so I just unplugged it and drained all the water. Then, yesterday, Diane indicated that it would be good if we could use it once in a while which was code for ‘get off your butt and FIX it!’

So, I grabbed a bunch of wrenches, some screw drivers, and went down to see what I could see. Not being familiar with hot tub innards, I was in for an educational experience.

First, I removed the outer plastic pealing, revealing all the fun stuff inside, most of it covered with spray foam insulation. I was concerned about spiders because I’ve found a few pretty big ones lurking around the tub which would have just made Diane’s day had she encountered them first. She doesn’t, ever, because I’m always the first one there just for that reason. Oddly, I didn’t see one spider once the sides were removed. I was happy for that because I’m not particularly fond of them, either. I just don’t scream like a little girl when I see them, like Diane does.

I studied the tubes, hoses, and heater for a while, then decided to undo the only two screws available for me to turn. It was the cover for all the electrical connections, and the heater tube. Interesting stuff. None of it made any sense to me so I just started disconnecting things from the circuit board, and plugging them back in. It’s a trick I learned with computers – sometimes plugs get tired of being plugged in all the time and just quit working, from boredom, no doubt, and unplugging them and putting them back kinda wakes it up. Then it works. Like magic.

I put it all back together and turned it on to see what would happen and soon discovered that nothing had changed. It doesn’t heat properly and the 64 degree water wasn’t quite warm enough for Diane. I discovered, however, that running the jets, over and over, heated the water up, and eventually topped out at 84 degrees before I called it a day and went to bed.

During this time I fired up weed whacker and set about using it in the back yard. Diane gave me free reign with only one stipulation – that I pick up ‘all the crap’ I cut down on Friday afternoon. Those would be offending rhododendron branches that I just cut and left laying in the front yard. Also, there were more in the back yard, as well as clippings from an un-named kind of bush that served as a test run for my battery powered hedge trimmers that I didn’t think worked. It’s been sitting un-used in the basement for two years. Who knew?

So, I cleaned that all up, and caused little pieces of grass to fly all over the place, and discovered some new species of plants growing in our ‘flower garden’ that I didn’t know we had. It was exciting to have time to do that. It was pleasing and made me very tired. I sweat a great deal so had to take another shower. With soap this time.

We didn’t sit long before deciding it was time for bed.

This morning, on the way to church, we stopped by Dan & Jennie’s house so I could turn their water heater back on. I worked a bit on Friday and turned it off because the kids had gone camping for the weekend at Big Eddy in Vernonia. Seemed like a waste of power to have it running, especially when I was turning the water off and on. The little work I did was to make sure the sink was level and secure it firmly to the wall. Still lots more to do, but it won’t happen until Monday afternoon. That’s because I get to go to the VA in Hillsboro bright and early tomorrow morning to find out how long it’s going to be before I go completely blind. I’m told it could be many years. Maybe I just need new glasses. I’ll find out because this visit is actually my annual checkup, not for the diabetic retinopathy test results. Though I’m sure that will be discussed. More on that later as I learn more.

Just in case it’s a bad diagnosis, I’ve been practicing braille. That’s not easy to do when you can’t feel anything with most of your finger tips. Most of my practice is on bathroom doors, and the ATM drive through. Regarding that, I’ve always thought it was silly to have braille at ATM drive throughs. I mean, how could a blind person possibly find that useful? I have this vision of a blind person driving up to the ATM with, perhaps, their cane sticking out of the driver’s window, or just sticking their arm out waiting for it to hit something. Then, when that happens, they feel around until they find the braille instructions, pull out their ATM card, stick it out the window, and drop it on the ground, like I do. Then, since they are alone, they have to get out of their car and search for the card. When they find it, they don’t get back in the car, they just face the machine and reorient themselves, finding all the various openings, and swipe their card. Since the ATM doesn’t talk, they have to swipe their card both ways to ensure the magnetic strip is facing the correct direction. Again, since the ATM doesn’t talk, they have to guess at what’s on the screen, unless they signed up for, and took, the ACLU sponsored program that explains everything a blind person should know about every possible version of ATMs world wide.

Eventually, they get their money, but they have to go on faith that what they got is what they requested. ATMs are almost always honest, so it’s probably correct.

Then they get in their car and drive off, running directly into the person in front of them who didn’t find it necessary to move along like a normal person should.

OK, I know. It’s not nice to make fun of blind folks, but I’m really not. I’m making fun of ‘situations’ where someone finds it necessary to cater to their ‘needs’ even if it’s dumb. I’ll tell you right now, when I go blind, Diane’s going to do all that stuff, not me. Just like she does now. I’m not allowed to use the ATM.

After church, we went to Zhens for some great Chinese food. We love that place, and I’ve talked about it before. Today I made a suggestion to our waitress that, considering the enormous size of their portions, they should just serve it in take out containers and save the need for washing plates. The problem, however, is that, since the take home container is totally full after eating, they’d have to serve the other part on a plate, anyway. Really. Here’s proof …

IMG_0480

After lunch, we took a trip to the St. Helens water front to see what was going on. Happily, The Maritime Heritage Festival was still in progress, and we got to watch the waterski show. From the car.

IMG_0572

What fun. I got out and went down to sit with an older gentleman on the rocks. He was taking lots of pictures. I learned that he has a little shop in town where he sells postcards that have his photos on them. They are all from the Columbia County area. Gotta look this guy up and see what he’s got.

IMG_0546

IMG_0518

We must have been there for an hour, or so. During that time we watched more than a few cargo ships go up and down the river, and watched the sternwheeler, Portland, sail up the Columbia, heading back home, no doubt. Very picturesque and peaceful.

IMG_0560

… and, here’s some of the routine traffic that transits the river past our quiet little corner of paradise …

  IMG_0573

Thinking about comments from at least two of you, I did some research on the internet about publishing written works. There’s a lot of info out there about doing it and I’m absolutely sure most of them require a fee in association with their TGTBT offers. You don’t get that data until you provide your email address, which I didn’t. TGTBT, by the way, is my newest acronym for Too Good To Be True. It’s not original, just shorter. I’m sure there’s info out there for free, too, and I don’t have a problem with people providing information for a fee. It’s business. I might just use an Apple app I found that allows me to publish to iBooks. I’ve had it for a couple of years, so maybe it’s time to check it out.

First, however, I need something to write about. Sitting down to write a story, something with structure, is difficult. Nothing I do has structure, writing or otherwise. And I lie a lot. So, I’m limited to fiction. Being limited it difficult. Now all of this is a quandary.

The pie is done so I have to quit. It’s a cherry one. My favorite.

OK – So I Broke My iPhone

Now I have no way to communicate with anyone unless I use email, text, or the house phone. I’m … I’m just … just shattered! The world into which I was thrust, and learned to inhabit, has ended. I will never be the same again … until the new one arrives. That will happen when I find time to call AT&T to see about my mishap.

Actually, it still works fine. It just looks kinda sad, and I can’t carry it around in my hip pocket any more.

I really don’t understand how dropping it on a linoleum covered floor would break it when dropping it in the driveway, and on various sidewalks, didn’t. All it got then was little dings and dents and it still continued to chug right along. Even this time, with the screen glass front riddled with cracks, it’s still chugging along, but it’s a hazard to my health and welfare.

First, the dazzling cracks are mainly on the upper end of the screen, perfect for slicing up one’s ear while pressing it firmly to hear a conversation while in a noisy room, or in the bathroom when the toilet has been flushed, or just because you can’t hear very well — stuff like that. So, yes, it still works, but it concerns me.

Second, while texting, something I find myself doing more and more, I fear the little cracks will slice my left thumb to shreds so tend to avoid words that require me to use my left thumb while in landscape mode. I’m walking a narrow dotted line down a path to permanent injury unless I get it replaced. And the dots are getting farther apart.

So …

“I promise, Mom, I won’t carry the new one around in my hip pocket and I won’t drop it.”

“Ever.”

“Honest. “

“I will quit texting at 10 pm, on the dot, every night, except weekends.

“I will not take naughty pictures of myself and post them for the world to see.”

“Just for my friends.”

“No, I unfriended Johnny when he shared the last picture.”

“I know, it isn’t the first time, but it won’t happen again.”

“I promise.”

“Really .”

“Honest, it won’t happen again.”

“I will be good. VERY good.”

“Oh ,pleeeeeeeze, Mom!”

“I’ll die if I have to use that old pink razor flip phone again. It’s ancient.”

“I know, it still works, but it’s painfully hard to text on and it doesn’t have video chat.”

“All my friends have new smartphones so it should be such a big deal.”

“I’ve gotta have a good-looking phone that my friends will envy. An unbroken one they will not make fun of.”

“It’s imperative for my social life that I have a new, whole smartphone.”

“I’ll die if I don’t get one.”

“Why do I pay insurance on the phone if I can’t get a new one?”

“OK – why do you pay insurance if I can’t get a new one?”

“No, I didn’t break it on purpose so I could get a new one.”

“It just … fell.”

“I’ll run away to Spain if I don’t get a new phone.”

“I’ll live there forever and never come back home to show you my babies.”

“All six of them.”

“Oh.”

“You already packed my bag.”

“You hate me.”

“I’m leaving and never coming back.”

“Wait. You’re taking me to school tomorrow, right?”

“Noooooo. Not the bus. You know I hate to ride the bus.”

“If I had a new phone, though, I’d do that.”

“At least for a week.”