Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!


Wishing a happy healthy New Year to all.



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Living in the past


On our honeymoon.  The morning view.



Monday, December 29, 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Responses to reading randomly


Do we put two spaces or one after the end of a sentence?  We got a delightful range of responses:

“Funny.   we have had this discussion a couple of times, most recently just a couple of weeks ago.  I'm a two spacer and she's a one spacer...”

“Yes they teach only one now. I learned with a manual typewriter and two.”

“I’m with you, Steve.  I can’t seem to break the two-space habit.  And, I think it looks better and is easier to read also.  Then again …”


“There are also instances where 1 1/2 spaces appear in computer work.”


“Only the illiterate ones.  Two spaces is not a phenomena of typewriters, it's an aspect of "correct writing".  (There may be a small issue here regarding the use of Microsoft Word - a haphazard piece of shit word processing software created by a person interested in market penetration rather than excellence and craftsmanship, but who can argue with $40,000,000,000 - in a country where the pursuit of power trumps all and power is defined by money, but I digress) I think WordPerfect sometimes inserts two spaces, but tends to display your wishes and was created by people who felt you knew what you wanted. You obviously caught me on a rant plain . . . I have issues with Microsoft, which are compounded when I have to pdf all my WordPerfect documents because so many out there are happy with once free software that is limited in scope but useless when preparing scientific documents with analytical data - it's a function of the use of pull down menus where some 16 year old geek decides he knows what you want, and if that's not true then you are beyond the pale and it's OK to marginalize you. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.”

“My kids have been taught to use one space, and mock me for using two.”


“If you google this you’ll discover a raging debate in progress.  I’m stuck on two spaces.  I think it’s easier to read.  Much easier.  Some software removes the “extra” space.  I put the space back in.  But the software takes it out again.  Arghh!”


“I broke (the two space habit) instantly. I had an editor come back on a book manuscript and ask me to take out all those “old fashioned” extra spaces.  That’s all it took.”


“It seem like youngsters are failing to use a lot of the writing and grammar rules we grew up with.”


“Geeze, for me the gap is determined by where the fountain pen happens to land.  Another advantage of cursive is the solution to the question, does the close quote come before the period or after?  In longhand I put them one over the other, problem solved.”



That concludes the responses, but now I have a new question.  Do schools teach our children to type now, like they did when we were kids?  I haven’t heard about typing class in Middle School or High School.  Do kids just grow up knowing how to type?  Are they taught in school to use all their fingers on keyboards; do they teach them to type with their thumbs?


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Living in the past


Christmas afternoon.  We weren’t doing anything else, so we decided it was time to open up those boxes of 35mm slides we’ve been carrying around for all these years and decide what to do with them.


We found baby pictures of our kids.  Our Northglenn house in 1969.  Our honeymoon pictures from 1966.  Spring vacations to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in the VW Bus when the kids were little.  Slides Mom and Dad took on their trips to Northern California and the Grand Canyon.  And to our great surprise, we found a box of slides labeled September 1945.  These slides were taken on a trip from California back east before I was born.  They’re from 70 years ago!  We didn’t know they even did slides then.  They were still in their original mailing box, sent to 49 E Platt Street in Long Beach, California.  The postage was marked for 1 ½ cents.  We had no idea these slides were in our possession; guess they just migrated over with Mom’s slides when those got passed along to us.


Anyway, we spent the entire afternoon going through slides.  Once we got started, we couldn’t put them down.  We viewed every slide with our little 3 inch illuminated viewer; deciding which slides warranted digitization.  What an extended blast from the past.  We thinned them out quite a bit, but there are a lot remaining.  We plan to share them.


Here is a preview.  The slides are better than this.  This is a shot with my camera of each slide displayed in the viewer.  We expect much better results out of the digitization.


Brother David.


Brother Tom.


Brother Bill.


Mom and David.


Bill, Tom, and David.


This should serve as our warning.  We have slides, and we’re not afraid to use them.


Friday, December 26, 2014

I was reading randomly


It was an article about resumes.  You don’t put your age in a resume, but the teller of this tale pointed out that when writing, you can date yourself with how you type; how spacings appear in what you wrote.  People that grew up with typewriters put two spaces after a period.  They end a sentence with a period, type two spaces, then start the next sentence.


People that grew up with computers never had to learn to type two spaces.  You just type a space after the period and the word processor takes care of the spacing for you.


I never would have even thought of that, and there may be youngsters that never considered that you would need to do anything special at the end of a sentence besides put in a space.


So I decided to test the theory.  I typed identical (nonsense) sentences in Microsoft Word using first one then two spaces after each period:


This is a test to see if we. Need to type two spaces. At the end of each sentence.


This is a test to see if we.  Need to type two spaces.  At the end of each sentence.


They display differently.  They print almost the same but I can still see the difference.  I like two spaces better.


I’m left to wonder if there is any truth to what the article writer claimed.  I know all the older people out there put two spaces after the end of a sentence, but are there any youngsters who only use one?



Thursday, December 25, 2014

And a very Merry Skype Christmas to all



Christmas 2014.


Christmas 1969, Judy and I were sitting next to our tree with newly discovered candle holders.


Yes, we put live fire on our Christmas Tree that year (and lived to tell about it).  We had friends newly to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia.  We had them over and they were wowed by our electric lights.  We went to their house and were wowed by their old world candleholders.  We did our tree up old school, went back to their house and found their tree decorated with electric lights.  J


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The park near our house


It filled up with white things.


White pelicans on the water.  Great egrets, Snowy egrets, and even a couple cattle egrets along the shore and in the trees.


Looks rather festive.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Tri-colored Heron



…and a Snowy Egret


…and a Mallard.


Sunday, December 21, 2014



A button that allows the driver to temporarily increase power for a limited amount of time.  They use it in the Indy Car Series, where the power output and fuel consumption are carefully controlled.  The button can be used a limited number of times in each race.  It makes the race more exciting when two cars of essentially equal power are battling for position.  It can be used to pass, but it can also be used to defend a pass.  Each driver has to be strategic about how and when to use it during the race.


In fact, I think the push-to-pass button is such a good idea we should expand its use.  Trucking companies control the power output and fuel consumption of their fleet trucks by installing governors set at 64mph.  When two trucks are side-by-side on the interstate, one at 64 mph and the other at 64.01 mph, wouldn’t that be the perfect time for a push-to-pass?  It could suspend function of the governor for a limited amount of time.  Truck drivers don’t really want to drive side-by-side while the line of traffic grows behind them.  Besides, each truck is losing efficiency as it fights the aerodynamics of the truck next to it.  They’re much more efficient when driving in line drafting each other, than when being buffeted by each other’s bow wake while they’re side by side.  The trucking companies could still determine the power and fuel efficiency standards of their fleet, while allowing their drivers a certain number of uses each driving period.  There could be one more element of control for the truck drivers; adding to the interest of the job.  (At the same time contributing to overall more efficient driving and reducing one factor contributing to congestion at the same time.)


Saturday, December 20, 2014

We bought our house furnished


The old couch; it doesn’t look too bad.


Not as long as we’ve got a towel on it to cover up the bottom cushions.


Without the towel, we can see the pretend leather peeling off.


Besides, it’s only a two-seater.



The new couch


…is a lot nicer.


…and it’s a three-seater.  If Henry makes room.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Right again


Turns out I was right all day long.  It’s my birthday.


I decided we should go look for Aplomado Falcons today.  Turns out that was a good idea (even though we didn’t find any falcons).  Then I thought “Why not drive over to the Island and take a walk on the marsh boardwalk.”  Again, brilliant.


We saw pied-billed grebe.


common gallinule.



…displaying tail feathers.


…and a black-crowned night heron snoozing in the reeds.




Got what I wanted for lunch.  Dinner too.  Judy laughed at every joke I made.


Damn I’m good.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Once again


…we realize how fortunate we are to live in this medical age.  A few years ago, in 2007, with my left anterior descending cardiac artery 99% blocked, I was within a few heartbeats of dying of natural causes.  The report would be:  “His heart just gave out.”  Instead, the doctors went in through my leg, put stents in my heart, and turned me loose to get on with my life.  An excellent solution to what, in essentially all of human history, would have been fatal.


It’s progressively more difficult for Judy to walk.  The cartilage in her knee is worn and there is a tear.  Without treatment, her future would involve progressively less walking and more pain until she couldn’t walk at all.  Instead, in January, they’ll invade her knee with an arthroscope, clean up the cartilage, and she’ll recover within a few weeks.


Now I find I’m losing function in my right arm because nerves are being pinched off by arthritis in my neck.  My spinal column is being squeezed by vertebrae that have shifted out of place and by bone spurs growing up against it.  The discs between the vertebrae have collapsed.  Any other time in history before cervical spinal surgery and I would be looking forward to a gradual continual paralysis as the degeneration progressed, the nerves to both my arms got destroyed, and my spinal cord got shut off.  Now, Problem?  “Naah.  We’ll just go into your neck, take out the crushed discs, insert some bone grafts to recreate the proper spacing, shave off the bone spurs, and hold it all together with some small plates and screws.  A month or so in a tight collar, a couple months of recovery all together, and you’ll be good to go.”  I might lose 5 to 10% of the mobility in my neck.  I might not regain all the strength in my arms I’ve lost over the last 5 or 10 years.  I think I’m just fine with that.


Many challenges remain for medical science, but it’s getting better every day.  Maybe a hundred years from now today’s medical practices will seem primitive, but no matter how much better they get in the future, isn’t it nice to have what we have today.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Great Blue Heron



On a post


…and a Crested Caracara.





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Can you spot the


…Clapper Rail in this picture?


No?  How about now?


Now?  He’s starting to appear.


Unless he doesn’t.



Ta daa!  Clapper Rail!



Monday, December 15, 2014

Time to fuse some vertebrae


Did the doctor’s appointment today.  Looked at the X-ray and MRI.  No sign of arthritis anywhere else in my body, but my neck is a mess.  Vertebrae out of alignment.  Bone spurs.  Cartilage totally gone between 4 and 5, 5 and 6, and almost gone between 6 and 7.  The sheath around my spinal cord is compressed.  The nerves to my biceps and triceps are getting pinched off.  No damage to the spinal cord yet, but that’s next if we don’t deal with this now.


The doctor said I was unusual (if you can imagine that).  Most people with this much degeneration (did he just call me a degenerate?) would have come to see him for narcotics for the pain.  Me, I just notice a drop-off in strength.  For some reason it doesn’t really hurt much.


We still need to get Judy’s knee taken care of (so she’ll be able to run around and take care of me when I get my neck done).  We’ve got her knee surgery scheduled for early January.  We’ll schedule my neck surgery for early February.  My recovery will take a couple months.  Ultimately though, I should regain most of the neck range of motion I have now.



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Should I tell the story about the room key?


You know they have these fancy digital room keys now.  They are like credit cards.  You stick them in the reader at the door and the door unlocks.  They’re really cool.  When they work.


Room 426.  The key worked the first time we used it, but it was a little iffy.  It took several tries.  Later though, we couldn’t get back into our room because I’d put my room key in a pocket that had a magnet in it so we had to go back downstairs and get the card coded again.  (I don’t usually have a magnet in my pocket, this was a special situation.)  Then later, we couldn’t find Judy’s room key so we had to go get a new one.  It only worked intermittently.  The next day, we walked up to our door, tried the room key over and over and it wouldn’t work.  My key wouldn’t work.  Judy’s key wouldn’t work.  Judy went back downstairs to the front desk to get the key fixed again.  She was a little frustrated that their room keys didn’t work any better than this and went off to tell them so.  I waited by the door.


It took Judy a while to accomplish her mission.  I was stuck outside the door on an indoor balcony though, so I could watch her progress below at the front desk.  I passed the time by counting the floors I could see from the indoor atrium.  One, two,  three, …..ten, eleven,  twelve, thirteen.  Thirteen.  I wonder if that floor is numbered thirteen or did they skip to fourteen so nobody would have to stay on the thirteenth floor?  Did I get that right?  One, two, three, …wait a minute.  Why am I looking straight across the atrium at the third floor?  Our room is on the fourth floor.  Oh shit.  The room number our key doesn’t work for is 326.  Well, duh.  Maybe the key would have worked better if we had been on the correct floor and were trying to unlock room 426.


Meanwhile, Judy got on the elevator to the fourth floor, got to the door to room 426, and I was nowhere to be found.  She was confused.  Where was her husband and all that stuff we had dropped in front of the door we couldn’t get in?  I was trying to get myself and all that stuff from the third floor to the fourth floor before she went off to look for me.  The Keystone Cops come to mind.  We avoided making eye-contact with the people at the front desk for the rest of *that* day.



Well, anyway, we survived the hotel in Dallas; it was actually very nice.  We’ve moved on.  We’re back in Corpus.  We got to take Texas Highway 130 with its 85mph speed limit for a hundred miles section of the trip; from North of Austin to south of San Antonio.  That was like driving at warp speed.  It went by really fast.


2014 Dallas Trip Map


A doctor’s appointment tomorrow afternoon, then we get to go home.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Brown Creeper


A morning walk nets a Brown Creeper.


…a little bird that runs up and down tree trunks like a mouse.


Year Bird!  Number 398.  …and a Winter Wren.  399.  …and Harris’s Sparrows.  400.  Yeaaa!  Made it to 400 species for the year!  …and as a bonus; the last bird of the day;  Fox Sparrow.  Lifer!



Our visit with Matt and the boys is over.  We had to take them back to the airport tonight.  It was a fun visit; always good to spend time with them; miss them already.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Late breaking news


Conner has made a trailer.


He hasn’t made a movie, but he’s made the trailer for it:


Check it out.



As promised


Gymnastics videos.  The Valeri Liukin Invitational, Dallas Texas.


alex, parallel bars


alex - rings


alex - high bar


alex - floor


The team did great.  They placed 2nd overall, out of 20 teams.


Alex had a respectable day, placing 5th overall out of 36 kids in his skill level (Level 7), and age group (11 to 12 year-olds).


The celebratory burger at In-N-Out Burgers with his friends (complete with a handstand).


Later he spotted Olympic Champion Danell Leyva checking in at the hotel, got an autograph and a photo with him.


A good day.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

We thought we might see a Fox Sparrow


…if we stopped at a particular park in Dallas.  We had a nice walk, saw a few birds, but the sparrow didn’t happen.  Still at 397.


We’re at the Embassy Suites just south of Frisco, TX (North of Dallas).  Picked up Matt, Alex, and Austin from the airport tonight.

(5280 is the name of Alex’s gym.)


Alex has a gymnastics competition nearby tomorrow.  Expect videos.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A hot lead on some cool black swans


…but first a visit to the orthopedist in Corpus.


The diagnosis for Judy is cartilage damage between the femur and the tibia.  Historically she’s had meniscus tears under the kneecap.  This is a little deeper, but can be fixed with a scope.  That’s actually great news!  Her hurting knee can be fixed and it won’t require knee replacement.  She is scheduled for surgery in January.


My shoulder was trickier to diagnose.  So many signs point to rotator cuff tear, but the MRI did not support that theory.  Further conversation produced a breakthrough.  I had observed that when the ache in my shoulder woke me up in the middle of the night, I could twist my elbow up over my head with my hand pointed back down toward the middle of my back (I notice these kind of things), and after a while the pain would subside.  That was the key!  The doctor recognized that arm position as one that would relieve neck pain.  We’ve been looking at the wrong body part.  Pain can refer from one place to another.  He got me right back into an MRI machine within an hour.  We did my neck this time.  They phoned the MRI results back to the doctor and he must have seen what he expected.  He got me scheduled next Monday with their neck and spine guy.  I’ve got some nerve impingement.  It’s not resolved yet, but at least we’re focused on the appropriate body part now.


So off to get the black swans…  A swing and a miss.  They’re gone now.  We traveled on.  Still at 397.


We’ve stopped for the night in Georgetown, Texas, north of Austin.

2014 Dallas Trip


Tomorrow, Dallas.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014



That’s how many bird species we had for the year when we got home from our trip the first of November this year.  I want to make it to 400 by the end of the year.  Seems simple enough; only 6 more birds.  Problem is, we’ve already spent most of the year here and have seen most every bird available in our part of Texas.


After 3 weeks and no new birds, we went out after a specific Sprague’s Pipit at Anzalduas County Park and got it!  395.  Then nothing.  No more.  It got to be late November and no new birds.  On Thanksgiving Day, a red-legged honeycreeper was spotted at Estero Llano Grande State Park.  We went to look for it on Friday.  It was still there somewhere but we missed it.  Other people saw it.  I went back for a stakeout all afternoon Saturday.  The last time it was seen was Saturday morning before I got there.  I went back Sunday morning for an all day stakeout.  Nothing.  The last time it was seen was still Saturday morning.  As far as I know it hasn’t been seen again.  Still at 395.


Got serious this last weekend.  Figured out specific target birds.  Drove west to some grasslands on Saturday in search of a grasshopper sparrow and got one!  Got several in fact.  396.  Devoted Sunday to the Aplomado Falcon.  Drove to all the best Aplomado Falcon spots out by the coast.  Lots of birds.  Nice day.  No falcons.  Stuck at 396.


Now, in December, we’re on a trip to Dallas by car.  An overnight stop in Corpus Christi presents an opportunity for a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Jon told us right where to find it.  Drove out and there it was.  397.  It helps to have friends help.


Only three more birds to go.  How hard could that be, getting three more birds?


Chinese food with Russ and Glenna in Corpus Christi tonight.  They drove out from the island to meet us.


A poorly lit picture, but it was great catching up.


Monday, December 8, 2014

It's our family tradition


On her birthday, Judy gets to do anything she wants all day long, be right all day, and I have to be nice to her no matter what!   So far it’s working (and we haven’t really bought all that much…).


Happy Birthday to my charming wife.  You’ve hardly changed at all.