Monday, April 29, 2019

I’m still thinking about healthcare and health insurance


Here is my take on what the health insurance industry does.  They allocate the cost of a person's healthcare over the expected remaining life of the person.  If you project what your health care costs will be for the rest of your life, add in administrative costs and a profit motive for the insurance company, and divide it by your years remaining, that's what your premium will be.  The insurance companies don't provide any healthcare.  They don't fix any broken bones.  They don't cure anything.  They just provide a financing arrangement.


Isn't that the kind of thing a government should be able to do; finance your healthcare?  That wouldn't be government-run healthcare, that would just be the government performing an administrative task and taking a layer of private profit incentive out of the system!



Sunday, April 28, 2019



Somebody help me!


I’m trapped insider this bird feeder and I can’t fit back out the hole I came in!


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Paper or plastic?


At the grocery, the store always provided paper bags.  Then they started offering paper or plastic.  Save a tree; use plastic.  Then we started thinking about petrochemicals (plastic) and keeping them out of the environment, so we started recycling.  Now we hear that a lot of plastic doesn’t get recycled and ends up in landfills, waterways, and the oceans as a major pollutant.  Paper is a renewable resource.  Cut down a bunch of trees, produce paper, then plant new trees to replace the ones you just cut down.  Then we figured out global warming.  It’s all about the carbon sequestered in oil and trees.  If we use oil, the carbon is released and contributes to greenhouse gasses.  If we cut down trees and use them, the carbon in them is also released back into the atmosphere.  Not only that, but trees take in carbon while they’re alive, so every time we cut one down, we remove another carbon-processing plant from the environment.  In an effort to combat global warming we need to stop cutting down trees and plant about a trillion new ones.


Paper or plastic, we’re screwed either way!  Carry cloth bags.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019



First day of Rehab!  Judy is cleared for assisted range of motion.  Now she can start moving her affected arm around, but only with assistance from her good arm or some other means of support.


She can use the pulleys, where she uses the strength in her right arm to raise and lower her left arm.


Or do the wall-crawl, using her hand to pull the arm up and down a wall.


Her range of motion is pretty good to start with.  She’ll do these exercises and others at the physical therapist’s office three days a week.  She’ll do them every day at home.


It’s exciting to get this far; and a great relief for Judy to be able to move her arm around again.  No actual strengthening until three months from surgery though.


Monday, April 22, 2019

One more thing


When we were talking about the car-cooler, did you notice the air deflector on the hood?


Given these were to divert bugs from the windshield, and the fact we don’t see them anymore, I’m guessing they weren’t all that effective.  Nice thought though.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Cooking challenge results



Chicken broth, andouille, chicken, shrimp, chopped tomatoes, rice, bell pepper, parsley, fresh tomatoes, onions, celery, Creole seasoning, salt, bay leaf, cooking oil, pressed garlic, Worcestershire sauce.


Did anybody guess right?


Dinner?                       Yes.

Yummies?                    Yes.

Charro beans?            Not quite

Hell if I know?           Okay.

Paella?                         Close.

Gumbo?                       Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  Close enough.

Jambalaya?                 Nailed it!


It’s Jambalaya and not Gumbo because the rice is cooked with everything else in the pot, while Gumbo is usually served over rice.  It’s Creole style, not Cajun, because there are tomatoes in it, and no thickener.


Even one-handed, Judy chopped all the vegetables and prepared the entire dish herself.  Jambalaya.  Creole.  Lovin those Creoles.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tonight’s challenge


Judy is cooking dinner.


…and these would be the ingredients for…


Friday, April 19, 2019

Preparing for Alaska


New shoes for the Jeep.


New boots for the bus!


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Gaining altitude



On a cool calm morning.


No thermals to do the heavy lifting.


Working hard.


It takes a lot of flapping.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Yellow-bellied sapsucker


The yellow-bellied sapsucker is a migrant, but it’s not just passing through Texas in the spring; it’s here all winter long before it migrates north.


I’ve been watching for it all winter though and finally just saw one.




And she ends up flying straight at me!


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Friday, April 12, 2019

I passed


…but it was a strange experience.


Texas is the first, and only, state to require a special license to drive a big rig RV.  The new rule doesn’t apply to gassers, but diesel pushers like ours trigger the requirement with their weight; 25,000 pounds and up.  It’s not a full commercial CDL license we need, it’s halfway in-between a normal driving license and a commercial license; it’s a Class B license.


I didn’t have any trouble with the written test.  They tell you what you need to learn.  You learn it.  Then you go take a test on a computer at the driver’s license bureau.  When you pass the test, they make an appointment for you to take the driving part.  So I studied, passed the test (Although I did miss one question.  I had the answer right, overthought it, went back and changed my answer, and got it wrong.)(Yes, I know not to do that.), and got my appointment for the live-driving.  I figured I’d do great on the driving part because I’ve been doing this for twenty plus years.


The backing-up part was easy.  Drive through a line of cones on each side, then back straight up without driving over any of them .  No problem.  Then we went out on the road and drove around for twenty minutes.  As we drove back into the driveway, I thought to myself what a pleasure it must be to go out on a test-drive with someone so experienced and capable as I am.  The tester failed me.


He gave me a list of things I did wrong then explained that when I waited in the intersection for traffic to clear before I turned left, that was a ticketable offense.  The light had turned red before I got my rear end out of the intersection.  The way he phrased it was that if an officer wanted to, he could ticket me for running a red light, because I didn’t get all the way through the intersection before the light changed.  To wait for a left turn at a light, I’m supposed to wait behind the line at the intersection and let the light cycle until I get a fresh green arrow, then proceed.  He also gave me a list of other things I did wrong.  I had to reschedule.


A week later, I went through the driving test again.  Last time I wasn’t cautious enough.  I wasn’t aware enough of cross-traffic at intersections.  I didn’t check my mirrors enough.  Having thought this over, it occurred that maybe because of the limited mobility I have in my neck, he just couldn’t observe what I was doing, so this time I made a show of it.  I exaggerated my movements.  I bobbed and turned my head when passing through intersections, checking my mirrors, and monitoring the rear-view camera.  I turned my whole torso left and right at stop signs so it would be obvious how aware I was of my surroundings.  In fact, I was moving around so much, one time I noticed I wasn’t driving in a straight line and worried I would get dinged for swerving in my lane.  Another twenty minutes of driving.  No ticketable offenses.  I passed.  But I got the same list of deficiencies in my driving.  I wasn’t good enough at intersections.  I didn’t check my mirrors and rear-view camera enough.  I didn’t leave my turn signal on long enough while changing lanes.  I didn’t improve at all.


The written part is easy.  They tell you what to read to prepare, then they test you on what you’ve read.  The driving part; that was not quite so objective.  I got told what I did wrong, but not exactly when and where.  There didn’t seem to be any way to prepare for the test; just drive and see if you can figure out what they want.  I considered requesting a more thorough debriefing, but one of the ways to fail the test is to be non-responsive to the tester, or to be argumentative.  I didn’t want to take any chances, so I kept my mouth shut and accepted the new driving license.


I am now qualified to drive the bus we drive!


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Car cooler follow-up


Brother Tom located a photo of brother Bill’s ’49 Chevy, sporting the car cooler, in front of the Carroll Park house.

Can’t make out the name of the car-club.


Nice shot of the house too, with the bedroom balcony above the Den door.  Here is a more recent photo.  Matt and Lindsay were just there a few days ago.


The evergreen tree in the front yard grew up a little.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Medical update


I was expecting Judy to be about 50% better from her shoulder surgery by now, given that she only has one functioning arm, but she’s more like 90% better.  She’s independent again, doing everything she normally does.  Except drive.  Or put on or take off her sling.  Or scratch an itch on the biceps of her good arm.


As far as the pain part goes, that has subsided.  It hardly hurts at all.  Except when it does.  And there’s Advil for that.


She can take her sling off as much as she wants now; but still for passive motion only.  Two weeks from now, she will start with the physical therapist and the therapist will extend her range of motion while she tries not to twitch.  She’s still a couple months away from doing any active motion.



Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Puzzler challenge



We have determined that the posts in the ground diffuse the static electricity from the dam in the river.  It remains to be explained however, what static electricity is, how it happens, and why it is dangerous.  I believe I’ve figured it out.  Water whooshing over the diversion dam washes away all the electrons, building up an electrical deficit that can only be satisfied by sucking the life out of any nearby humans.


Static electricity is zombies!


Monday, April 8, 2019

It was fun



But it was time.


We had to let Christie and Andy leave and go home.


To finish them off properly, we fed them breakfast from the taco bar at the gas station, and a late lunch from the truck stop.  Got to have the full experience.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Puzzler answer


What might this government installation be?  It’s hard to figure out.  It’s very close to the river; that’s a clue.  It is also just upstream of a diversion dam.  The explanation doesn’t really work until you connect the two.  I never made the connection on my own, I had to give up and ask what it was.  The water flowing over the dam creates substantial static electricity.  This line of posts in the ground, not the fence posts but the sunken posts in the middle, is linked to the dam to diffuse that built up static electricity.


Friday, April 5, 2019

Today’s adventure


We got to go to the McAllen International Airport.

(This is a photo from how far away the car was parked from the terminal.  It's not a difficult challenge to go to the airport here.)


Admire the local aviation technology.



And pick up Andy and Christy!

They're taking a break from their Pacific Northwest springtime weather to help us enjoy ours down here.


Nice and warm for hanging out on the deck.  We got to eat outside.

(Grilled hot wings, Judy's rice, and salad.  Can't tell from the empty dishes.)


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Judy and I were talking


…about air conditioning.  And swamp coolers.  And cars.  And cars before air conditioning.


And I suddenly remembered 1950s air conditioning for the car on desert trips.  That canvas bag hung off the front bumper; I think that was for radiator water.


But there is more.  That silver jet engine looking thing feeding air into the car window; that was air conditioning in the desert.


An evaporative cooler, swamp cooler, for a car.  No electrical hookup, powered by the air blown through it at speed!


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Advances in Technology


If we want seat heat in the Jeep, we reach the touch screen in the middle of the dash, click “Climate”, select “Seat and steering wheel”, select “high” or “low” and whether you want driver’s side, passenger side, or both; then click back to where we started.  It’s so sophisticated.


The Mazda is primitive by comparison.  If we want seat heat in the Mazda, we turn the knob for seat heat…




Tuesday, April 2, 2019

I was just thinking


…about Chinese food.


I want Chinese food out of waxed cardboard cartons stuffed in a brown paper sack, like Mom would call-up and order, then one of my older brothers would drive to the back door of Ling’s CafĂ© in Belmont Shore.  I’d ride along and we’d carry it home, the aroma in the car exotic, and serve ourselves chicken chow mein over crispy noodles.



Monday, April 1, 2019

4,219, 500, 56, 138 update


Now it’s April, and we’re at 4,219, 280, 40, 138.  Miles, birds, hours, counties.


Uh-oh.  We’ve fallen off the bird pace.  We’re only at 220 birds for the year.  With just 275 days and 280 bird species remaining, now we need more than 1 new bird a day for the rest of the year to make it to 500.  No problem though.  It’s April.  Migration.  We’ll get a lot of new birds in April.  Then in May and after, we’ll be traveling.  Moving every day should expose us to lots of new birds.


We’re getting excited about the Alaska trip.  We had friends over; three couples who went to Alaska last summer, and two couples plus us who are going to Alaska this summer.  It was a wonderful long evening of asking questions and sharing trip stories.  We’ve got lots of good notes.


All I need to do for continuing education hours is average about half a day a month for the rest of the year.  All I have to do is stay focused.


No way we’ll get any new counties in Texas with day-trips from here; all the counties we still need are far away from where we are now.  Starting in May though, we’ll draw a new line across Texas.  We’ll drive through as few counties we’ve already been to as we can.  We won’t get all the rest of the counties in Texas anytime soon, but we should be able to do some damage to that number in May.