Friday, May 31, 2013

I was just thinking....


….about representative democracy.


What a terrible system of government.  With all our checks and balances, our elected representatives spend way too much time checking and balancing each other.  Where did “doing the most good” go in this equation?  The primary job of our elected representatives seems to be getting elected.  And who do they have to appeal to to get elected?  300 million people that don’t really know anything about running a government!  How crazy is that?


And Capitalism sucks.  Look at the unconscionable economic divide just in our own country.  Sure, sports superstars are great, but our profit-driven system provides $100,000,000 contracts for them and other people can’t find work and go hungry.  How smart is that?  And globally?  It’s worse.  Is this a stable situation? 


And Growth economics, the force that drives the world economy.  It’s totally crazy.  Nothing gets to grow forever; there are always trade-offs.  At some point the trade-offs outweigh the gain, but growth economics doesn’t measure, or even recognize that.  We just pretend we can grow our way out of anything.  We can fool ourselves with growth-only in the short term, but that can’t be a good long-term strategy.


Exponential Population growth.  Can the planet support a million people?  Sure.  Can it support a billion? I guess.  Can it support a trillion?  I doubt it.  A trillion trillion?  I don’t think so.  World population 7 billion and still rising exponentially.  That can’t be a good long-term strategy for the planet.


The U.S. spends more on its military than the next top ten countries combined, and yet we debate whether we’re spending enough.  What?  If we have to spend that much on our own security, could it be that something else is maybe just a little out of balance?


The War on Drugs.  Why do all those criminals want to smuggle drugs into our country?  IT’S BECAUSE WE WANT TO BUY THEM!  Instead of acknowledging that we have a problem and dealing with it on our end, we blame it on the people providing what we demand, and in our denial, unnecessarily create an entire illegal violent industry.  We still have the drug problem at home, but now we not only have to deal with that, we have to fight a war on the people supplying what we won’t stop buying!


I’m surprised somebody smart hasn’t figured this all out yet.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

It never looks empty


The park is full all winter long.  People start leaving in the spring.  It doesn’t matter how many people leave, though, it never looks empty.



Not until Lowell and Mary leave.


Now.  It looks empty!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Judy who loves her husband


Sounds like a Native American name.


I think Annie needs a Native American name too.


Princess Yellow-eye perhaps?



Pollen.  Apparently Princess Yellow-eye loves flowers so much she has to wallow in them.


Henry doesn’t need a Native American name.


He just eats the leaves.



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Judy who loves her husband


We dug through some old stuff and unearthed a present Judy got from her bowling buddies in 1998; a collectible quilt.


They had nicknamed her “Judy who loves her husband” when they realized that when they were all talking about their spouses, Judy never said anything bad about me.







We thought that was a charming surprise and are delighted to have that quilt laid out on the foot of our bed.


Monday, May 27, 2013

I park the motorhome.


…with the windshield pointed north so the sun doesn’t come directly in .  Whenever possible.  It’s not always possible.


So then the question is, “What do I do with all that heat inside generated by the sun coming in through that big windshield?”  Even on a cool day, the solar gain can be considerable.


So I thought, “I know.  I can put down the windshield sunscreens!”


But the sunscreens are black.  Solar collectors are black.  That’s the most efficient way to capture solar energy and generate heat.


(There are other options for screening the sun, but for the sake of this conversation, let’s just consider these two.)


Now I’m wondering, “If I’m trying to cut down on the heat generated by the sun shining in the windshield, is it better to put the sun shades down and cut it off before it gets very far inside, or is it better to leave it alone and let it hit the more neutral colors of the interior of the coach?”


What do you think?


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Indy 500


Slept in.  Went outside at 80 degrees and overcast for a little cloudbathing.  We’re fine with warm weather overcast.  For hot and sunny we seek the shade.  Coffee and cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  We haven’t done that in years.  That put us at risk of a sugar coma, but it never struck.


Pre-race show at 10am.  Race coverage at 11.  Judy’s homemade chili and fresh-cooked flour tortillas.  A darned good Indy race.  We were happy for Tony Kanaan.  Pizza for dinner.


A totally decadent day.



Saturday, May 25, 2013

If you can suck it in..


….it’s not fat.  Isn’t that what Dad used to say?


At 165 pounds, I still have Dad’s big belly.  But way back then he could suck it in, and so can I now.  So that’s my story.  165 pounds is a fine weight, and I can just suck it in.



Friday, May 24, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013



A recent continuing education experience included a segment on economics.  I like economics and I enjoyed that segment, but just the same as all those years ago when I was in college, performance is measured by growth.  Growth is good.  No growth or negative growth is bad.  It’s that easy.


Growth is an absolute measure of good.  I recall a professor expressing it as “Either you are growing or you’re dying.  There is no such thing as staying the same.”  Something didn’t feel right about that then, and it still doesn’t now.  Growth as an absolute measure of good makes sense for a while, but ultimately has to be its own downfall.  Growth that consumes resources has to be considered in relation to the total resources available.


The real study of economics probably acknowledges that growth has to be considered in context, and I’m making something out of nothing; I just haven’t stumbled into that depth of knowledge yet.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013



The Indy 500 is next Sunday.  We’re Indy Car fans once a year; in May.  I’ve watched it since I was a kid.  Back when I was working every day, weekday or not, I used to listen to the Indy 500 on the radio.  When Matt was a kid, we watched it together.


This time, it’s going to be a little different.


The old TV in the front room:



The new TV in the front room:



70” Sharp LED.  240 Hz refresh rate for high speed sports.  Sony sound bar.  Bring on the Indy 500!


Golf, tennis, and football too.  We’re ready.  Go Broncos!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Plan A


Successfully executed.  The motorhome ran great all the way back to Sandpipers.  That impossible to locate shudder has been found and eliminated.  Yeaa for Holt Cat in San Antonio.


Along the way…




Monday, May 20, 2013

Plan A


…is still in effect.  We drove to San Antonio, picked up the bus, and drove back to the south for 80 miles.  I put the transmission in drive and left it there.  I never felt a shudder and never had to downshift.  By golly, they may have chased down the gremlin and banished it.


So here we are at Choke Canyon State Park.  We got the campsite out on the end with the nice yard we would always like to get, but it’s never open.  Today, we got lucky.




It’s great to be back in the coach.



Sunday, May 19, 2013

The bus


The bus has been in time-out for months.  Last fall, while we were still on our Colorado trip, the right rear slide made a loud “clank” as I was extending it, so I stopped.  I pushed the switch the other direction and the slide retracted, so I just left it closed after that.  It’s our smallest slide and doesn’t make much difference whether it’s open or closed, so we finished the year with three slide-outs instead of four.  In January, we dropped the bus off at the repair shop we like in Pipe Creek outside of San Antonio (and Bandera).  They took the slide all the way out, got the parts they needed and put it back together.


We didn’t need the bus back yet, so we sent it over to a Caterpillar engine repair facility in San Antonio to see if they could figure out that lingering engine shudder problem we’ve had since the rebuild in 2011.  The shudder is subtle, but it’s there.  I always feel it when I drive, so the motorhome never feels completely right.  We’ve taken it to several shops, but no-one has been able to figure it out.  Usually when we take it in for repairs, we’re living in it and have to move out for a limited time while they work on it.  We’re always anxious to get it back.  We figured this time we’d stay in the house at Sandpipers and leave the motorhome at the shop as long as necessary for them to find the problem and fix it.


Holt Cat in San Antonio couldn’t get at it right away, but when they did get to it, it didn’t take them very long.  They test-drove the bus and felt the problem.  It seemed like drive-train to them so they focused their attention on drive line and ride height issues.  The drive shaft angles were close but not quite right.  Most of the air suspension ride-height adjustments were good.  One was subtly off.  Even though the bus drove perfectly straight and smooth, they discovered that the rear axle was off line.  They took it to an alignment shop for us, made the other suspension and drive-line adjustments as necessary, test drove it, and declared it fixed!


This is encouraging.  They felt the problem before they worked on it.  They found an issue to fix (something no-one else had found).  They drove it again and the problem was gone.  As long as the problem they fixed was the same problem I was feeling, it could really be fixed!


It makes perfect sense.  No-one has been able to discern any problem with the engine.  They kept trying to fix where the problem wasn’t.  The old engine didn’t go quietly when it blew.  It went with a bang.  It could easily have knocked the rear end out of whack.


The bus has been ready for weeks but we haven’t been.  We think we feel good enough to go get it and drive it home now.  Tomorrow will be a travel day; drive the Jeep to San Antonio, get the motorhome, and park it for the night.  Drive home the next day.  That’s plan A.


Friday, May 17, 2013



It feels like I have to pee all the time.  When I do, it feels like I’m not done.  When I’m done, it feels like I have to go again 10 minutes later.


I think my urologist turned me into a woman.



Thursday, May 16, 2013



Judy tweaks the fountain corner of the deck.



I think she’s got it.



Wednesday, May 15, 2013



It won’t be comfortable to jog, or even walk fast for the next few weeks.  My exercise is reduced to a casual walk through the house for 20 or 30 minutes each day.  That doesn’t really feel like enough though so I had to come up with something else.  Luckily I have this long latent talent for juggling.  Giving my upper body something to do while I’m wandering the house seems like a positive addition to my slow-moving routine.


I find that, in a way, walking through the house while juggling is a lot like flying the little remote control helicopter.  Master forward and reverse.  Navigate from room-to-room through doorways and pinch-points without glancing off a wall and careening out of control.  Don’t trip over the dogs.  Make a 180 and retrace a route.  It’s a challenge.


I remember doing jumping jacks when I was younger.  They were so easy it was laughable that jumping jacks could be considered exercise.  Now I find that walking around the house while holding my arms up and moving them in any way is challenge enough.  I don’t need any weights; the weight of my arms is plenty.  My arms must be a lot heavier now.  I think about it this way: muscle is more dense than fat, and with the difficulty I encounter now compared to then, I can only conclude that I must be a lot more muscular now.



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A salad for dinner


A salad for dinner!


All I got for dinner was this crummy salad:



Poor me…


Monday, May 13, 2013

Let's talk about something.


…other than kidney stones.  If I don’t lighten up, everybody is going to think I have an unnatural obsession with them.  We don’t need to talk about kidney stones anyway.  I’m feeling much better.  The pain level from my kidney stent has fallen back to a discomfort level; easily managed with Aleve.  What a disappointing development.  Now I no longer have an excuse to sit in a hot bath enjoying narcotics and a beer, playing Sudoku on the iPad.  I didn’t even get the chance for it to become a habit.


There is something about kidney stones I don’t understand though.  All this time I’ve been telling people that kidney stone pain is caused by the sharp-edged stone moving through the kidney and ureter.  The pain starts and stops; the stone starts and stops; it all makes sense.  The urologist tells me I’m wrong though.  He says it doesn’t hurt when the stone moves; the acute pain is caused by the stone blocking flow from the kidney.  The increased pressure on the kidney is what causes the pain.


He must be right, after all he’s the urologist, but it just doesn’t seem like a complete explanation.  Kidney stone pain comes on suddenly, then goes away suddenly.  It can last for just a few minutes at a time or it can last for hours.  It cycles on and off as many times as it wants.  Why does the pain suddenly start?  Pressure on the kidney.  Why does it suddenly stop?  The kidney gets desensitized and stops hurting.  But after the pain has started, then stopped, and the kidney is desensitized, why does the pain start again?  Then my kidney was totally blocked for weeks and the pain never started again.  It just doesn’t quite work for me.


Sunday, May 12, 2013



These are the flowers I got Judy for Mother’s day.


These are the flowers the kids got Judy for Mother’s day.



The kids win.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Plant lights


Judy has this nice row of hanging flower baskets.


She disovered a neat addition to them.  Solar lights.


Little wireless lights that recharge during the day, then shine down to light the flowers at night.  In the dark, when everything else turns black and white, we still have splashes of color.


Friday, May 10, 2013




Fair warning.



This is not something you need to know.



I recommend you leave now.



Okay.  I warned you.



Remember when the kids were little and they would walk into the room and announce “I pooped”?  Conversation would stop and a round of applause would ensue to commemorate such an impressive event.


Well, I didn’t poop and I’m not looking for a round of applause, but I did encounter an important milestone today.  I peed this morning and it was yellow.  Yellow!  This is the eighth day since my stent surgery and it hasn’t appeared that I have peed anything but blood until now.  Yellow pee and not purple.  Yeaaaa!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

In migration.


…we also see Indigo Buntings.








Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Great news!


The CAT Scan this morning confirmed that the stent is in the correct place and function has been restored to my kidney.  Great news.


While the radiology techs had me in the other room going through the machine, Judy was outside finding out who was going to read the results, and when.  Instead of having to wait the normal two days before we found out the results, Judy got someone to round up the Radiologist and get a commitment to read the CAT Scan right away.  We sat back down and waited.  Within ten minutes, we had the Radiologist explaining the results to us, then inviting us back to his inner sanctum for a look at them on his computer screens.  On side by side screens he showed us the kidneys, bladder, ureter, stones and the stent.  We saw how everything looked on April 1st, April 21st, and May 7th.  With freeze frames he illustrated how the kidney condition deteriorated before, then recovered after the stent.  He was wonderful.


So now we know that the surgery was a success.  The stent is properly installed, and it is doing what it is supposed to do.  A big relief.  This whole adventure is expected to eventually conclude with no permanent damage to my innards.  Now, if only this current situation were actually comfortable.  I’m wearing a 22 centimeter long tube running the length of my ureter.  One end is curled up in a duct in my kidney, the other end curled up in my bladder.  None of my internal organs are enjoying the intruder.  My discomfort is definitely not a kidney stone attack kind of pain, but it hasn’t settled completely down to a level that can be managed by doses of Aleve and warm baths either.  Some days, when I think I’ve gotten through everything that needs immediate attention at work, it’s just time to bail in favor of a hydrocodone and a beer.


The urologist wants me to wear the stent for a month before he actually goes in after the stone.  A month from now I may need a drug and alcohol intervention, but we’ll get through this however we need to and deal with whatever follows when it’s time.


There it is; my account of our anniversary day.  What else can I say…….hopeless romantics that we are……..we spent it together.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Happy Anniversary to us


Our 47th wedding anniversary tomorrow.  47 years.  That means we’ve been together for 50.



Years ago, one of Matt’s friends was looking at our wedding album and exclaimed “Oh cool!  You did your wedding album in black and white”.  We seemed so retro to her.  Truth is, they almost hadn’t invented color yet.  It would have cost an extra $50 to get our photos in color.  Now it costs extra to get them in black and white.


So romantic.  We’ll start the day tomorrow getting another CAT Scan to see if last week’s stent implant was successful.  There should be some sign of improvement in my kidney.  Maybe this anniversary won’t be quite as romantic as some, but wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, we’re happy to be doing it together.



Sunday, May 5, 2013

Watching the hummingbirds at the feeders.






Mostly Ruby-throated.





One Buff-bellied.