Thursday, November 8, 2018

Not Again

It  was a bit after 3 when I woke up, after sleeping for about 3 hours.  I turned on Morning Joe, hoping it would put me back to sleep.  I thought I had mistakenly chosen the wrong channel because they seemed to be showing a rerun of the Pittsburgh massacre and talking about "11 people killed."
In short order, I realized this was not Pittsburgh, it was Thousand Oaks here in California and another shooter had gone berserk and killed 11 people (12 now, at the time of this writing) and wounded "at least" 12 others. 

With the shooter also killing himself, they may never know what prompted him to open fire on "college night" in "the 4th safest city in the country."  The gun was not an automatic, it was purchased 4 years ago, he has no terrorist connections that they have found yet.  Maybe they can find enough to make a "best guess" scenario, but there are still 12 dead, including a long-time Ventura county sheriff near retirement age.

Once again, my heart hurts and I feel the helplessness of being an onlooker.  Jeri had maybe the best suggestion for all of us:
Assignment for everyone: when you are out in the world this week, look people in the eye and acknowledge them. Smile and say hello. Hold the door for someone. Let the other car go first. Thank the barista. Whatever.
Maybe if we start an epidemic of "kindness" in our communities we can begin to prevent such heinous acts.  Maybe not, but what a more pleasant place it will be  to live.

Kindness did not start in the nation's capital, where the president, crowing about a glowing victory in the midterms (what TV was HE watching??), took on the members of the press and even threw out a CNN reporter and took away his White House access pass, using a doctored videotape claiming the reporter had manhandled a White House staffer, when comparisons between the WH tape and the original CNN tape (and memories of everyone who watched it live) show that he did not.

But this White House is unscrupulous and will go to any lengths to achieve whatever goal they desire.

"CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them.
You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN"

Good news in the midst of all this was checking my blood test results.  Last CK result was 558, this time it's 498.  Normal is <200 .="" better.="" feeling="" font="" i="" m="" nbsp="" no="" wonder="">

With nothing positive but blood tests to think about at home Walt and I took off for Vacaville to meet Char for lunch at good ol' Fenton's.

Fenton's is our go-to meeting place whenever Char and I get together for lunch.  It's a longer drive for her, but she will drive that distance to get a crab salad sandwich.

Fenton's is amazing.  We first encountered it in Oakland and were pleased when they decided to open a shop in Vacaville.  We don't eat there often but it's a special place.

They have humongous sundaes and my complaint is always that there is copious sweet sauce, but the ice cream is piled so high in the bowl that the sauce goes all over the saucer on which it is served.  I got smart one time and requested that my small sundae be served in a larger bowl and I was able to keep most of the chocolate sauce in the bowl so I could eat it with a spoon rather than debate about what people would think of a 75 year old woman licking the plate.

I have never ordered their banana split, which is reported to contain a quart of ice cream.

But we all ordered vanilla malts (loaded with malt!) and crab sandwiches and were very happy with our lunch.

On the way home there was thick smoke in the air, which we thought was coming from the fire that is burning about 100 miles north of here (14,000 people without power right now and mandatory evacuations of several small towns).  The traffic was surprisingly thick and in spots actually stopped, but then we discovered an active fire in the median, which professionals were in the process of putting out.

From there it was clear sailing home and an opportunity to catch up on the latest depressing news from the midterm results and the latest lies from the White House.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Best Laid Plans

For your edification and enlightenment today:

Anatidaephobia is defined as an irrational fear that one is being watched by a duck. The anatidaephobic individual fears that no matter where they are or what they are doing, a duck watches. Anatidaephobia is derived from the Greek word "anatidae", meaning ducks and "phobos" meaning fear. The person is not necessarily afraid of the duck. They only fear that the animal is watching them, keeping tabs on what they're doing throughout the day. 

Stay away from Disney cartoons.

When Ned was here Monday, we made plans for our Wednesday.  He would pack up his moveable spa, we would go to Atria, I would shower, we would take my mother to lunch in the main dining room and then he would take me to Nugget (our supermarket).

Walt tells me that the last time I shopped for groceries was June.  (He also tells me they have reorganized Nugget so much I won't recognize it.)  I am feeling strong enough to use a grocery cart as a walker and I miss those impulse purchases I like to make!  So I was excited about our day.

After Ned went home, I remembered that this is blood test week and my doctor had also asked me to get a blood pressure check.  That all sounds very simple, but my BP checks are NEVER simple.  The BP is always borderline and the pulse is always one point above the high normal, so they try to get it back down again, and never can.  Last time I was there for nearly an hour while they tried every trick to get me to be "normal" until they finally determined that I was not in danger of dying on my way to the parking lot and let me go.

Anyway, with the potential of a very long stop at Kaiser, I realized that it might be more time than Ned wanted to spend so I told him that the stop at Nugget could be optional, depending on time.
THEN I got a call from Atria that my mother had a lesion or something on her arm and that they had contacted her doctor.  The doctor's nurse called and we set up an appointment for her for Wednesday.  So now THAT was added to the mix.

I suggested to Ned that we just get my mother, go to Kaiser, and then take her to IHOP for lunch and do all the rest some other day.

So I was up most of the night watching election coverage.  It was addicting.  And I finally fell asleep around 6:30, to be awakened 2 hours later by another call from Atria saying that she had another of her "spells."  Not sure I'm exactly clear on what happened, but this one seems to have been while she was walking and just stopped, bent over and was unresponsive for a bit.  Fortunately she already had a doctor's appointment so I could talk with the doctor about that.  I think her body is trying to die and she won't let it, frankly!

But we went to Atria and found her passed out in the community room, but not non-responsive, like before.  I found out she had been "out" for about 10 minutes but eventually came to.  We took her to Kaiser, where the doctor checked her wound and had it dressed, though there really wasn't anything wrong with her that time wouldn't cure.  But it is now bandaged for the week and they even took my blood pressure to save me from having to make an extra stop.

I still had to get a blood test, but that went effortlessly and then we back to the car.  My mother got in the car moaning "let's go home....I'm tired of all this."  But she was up for lunch, so we went to nearby IHOP, went in, sat down and ordered coffee and water and started to look at the menu when my mother said "OH!  I need to leave NOW."  She had to go to the bathroom, but by the time she got up, it was too late.  Her Depends got a lot of it, but not all and she was upset that it was running down her backside. 
We left the coffee sitting there.  I tried to pay for it, but the guy said that he couldn't just ring up coffee on the cash register, so he didn't charge us.  We hadn't drunk any anyway.

We got her back to Atria and Ned took her in, leaving her clean up to the aids -- it's why we pay the big bucks (rising to >$7000 next year).  He said by the time they started to clean her, it was really bad, and more like diarrhea.

After we left Atria, we drove back to just past Kaiser so I could stop at Office Max and buy cartridges for my printer.

We didn't even think about going to the supermarket.

Ned must be so exhausted after one of these days, dealing with two feeble old ladies, trying to keep both of us upright with only one walker.  But he never complains.  I hope he doesn't go home and kick the dog.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Yes, I voted, dammit!

Yes, I voted!  Now LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!

Yesterday was very irritating.  I cannot count the number of voting reminders I got.  The most irritating came from and one other FB group I can't remember.  They each sent a message asking if I was going to vote.  I was planning on ignoring all such messages, but I could not close the window until I had checked whether I had already voted or was planning to vote, so I checked that yes, I would vote.  But no that wouldn't close the message.  Immediately another one popped up to ask what time of day I would be voting.  Again, I could not close the message until I had answered, so I checked "mid morning."  Then another one popped up asking if I would tell all my friends.  I never do because these messages bug me and I'm not going to bug all my friends, but I lied checked that yes, I would tell my friends, but then another message came asking me if it could take my entire friends list and send out messages for me.  I ignored it.

THEN I got a message from some guy I didn't know--along with his photo--saying he saw that I planned to vote and would I join him in inviting all my friends to also vote.

This happened with BOTH of the FB groups.

I know it's an important election and I applaud the dedication of those working hard to get out the vote, but it was overwhelming and had the opposite effect one me.  If it weren't such an important election, I might have stayed home just because they had bugged me so much.

Jeri emailed this morning that she was staying off of social media because it was so full of voting reminders, and I decided that was a good idea.  She had four messages from Elizabeth Warren just this morning.  We agreed that Warren should never run for president.  I think she would make a wonderful president, but suspect that as a woman she would run into the same problems Obama did--a Congress dedicated to not letting her achieve anything.  I think she does better in the Senate.

Walt and I went off at 10 to vote.  I considered not taking my walker, since I'm feeling so much stronger now but, anticipating that there might be a line, I took it.  Davis is a very politically aware town and I'm sure most people would be voting  The buses are running for free so that people can get to their polling places.  Outside the polling place, where bikes are parked, I saw several of the "take and ride a bike" bikes that are available around town, another sign that people were finding ways to the polling place.

There was no line here, but nearly 300 people had already voted by 10.  I had my cheat sheet and marked my ballot quickly.  Too quickly, in fact.  I didn't notice that there were two democrats running for Senate and accidentally did NOT vote for Dianne Feinstein, the first time since I could vote for her that I did not.  I could have changed it but decided to leave it.  If she loses by one vote, it will be my fault.  At least I voted for a democrat.

The first vote I could cast (you had to be 21 then) was for Johnson, when he ran for reelection in 1965.  He was running against Barry Goldwater.  I was working for the physics department then and many of the physicists formed a group called Scientists and Engineers for Johnson, which I became part of and did work for.  We worked hard and it was a triumph when Johnson won.

It set me up for optimism in succeeding elections, so I'm always nervous when elections come around.

I want to avoid all news reports and social media today.  I don't want to hear that there is a blue wave about to come, only to discover that when the ballots are counted, they had the wrong color.  I only want one emotion when it's all over, either elation or depression, not a roller coaster all day long.

Walt had bad news yesterday.  Over the weekend, he had a low fever and was coughing a bit and felt shaky.  He had to leave work early and we skipped a wedding reception we had looked forward to.  As it turned out, that was a good decision.

He called his doctor yesterday morning and they decided to reschedule his surgery for 2 weeks from now (Thanksgiving week).  I feel so sorry for him because he's so damned uncomfortable.  It's difficult for him to sit down and he spends most of his time pacing around.  But better postpone than risk complications during surgery.

Monday, November 5, 2018


Yesterday was a day to wallow.

STARZ ran all 13 episodes of Outlander, Season 3 leading up to the start of Season 4 at 8 p.m.  I told myself I wouldn't just sit in a chair all day and watch TV, but that's what I did, even though I had just watched the last 4 or so episodes a couple of weeks ago when STARZ did another marathon that I caught toward the end.

I don't know why I love this series so much when there is NOTHING else that I read or watch that comes near to this genre.  I am a crime drama fan and rarely read anything that could be classified as chick lit.

But I guess what I like about this is that it encompasses many genres and is far beyond a mere "chick lit" category (what chick lit runs over 1000 pages???)  It's a love story, it's science fiction, it's medicine, it's history, it's a travelogue, it's biology, it's adventure and it's a bit of porn too, to keep everyone titillated.  
It's a little bit of everything and it always boggles my mind to think that Diana Gabaldon wrote the first book "to see if I could write a book."  She knew nothing of Scotland or its history, nothing of the kinds of medical things that happen throughout the book as a result of Claire being, at first, a nurse and, later, a doctor.  Mostly I like the books because the writing is so damn good.  The sort of thing I would like to do if I had any kind of bent toward fiction (which I don't).

The fans for these books must surely rival those for Harry Potter.  For the sad few who may not know what these books are about, in Book 1, Claire Randall, on her honeymoon in Scotland with husband Frank, whom she loves very much, happens upon a circle of standing stones, which are so common in Scotland (I visited a few myself).  Only this circle is special for some who respond to it and in touching one of the stones, Claire is instantly transported back to 18th century Scotland where she first encounters a sadistic British soldier, Jack Randall, who looks amazingly like Frank (turns out he's a distant relative of her husband's) who is hell-bent on raping her.

That's for starters.  She is rescued by some highlander Frasiers and, through all sorts of machinations ends up having to marry young Jamie, a red-headed virginal hunk, in order to protect her from being captured by Randall.

The newlyweds learn to love each other and then after a year in France (Book  2), the Frasiers return to Scotland, where Bonnie Prince Charlie is trying to recapture the Scottish throne for Scotland.  The Battle of Culloden is looming and Claire knows that the highland system will be broken and most of the soldiers killed.  She is ready to die with Jamie, but is pregnant with his child and he insists she go back through the stones so that his child can be born safely.

Twenty years pass, during which Claire and Jamie live separate lives (Book 3), though each still in anguish over the loss of the loves of their life.  Claire lives a loveless marriage with Frank, who takes her back in her pregnant state and becomes a father to daughter Brianna.  Jamie is in and out of prison and while working on an estate is blackmailed into teaching the adolescent daughter about sex before she marries an old fart, in an arranged marriage.  Naturally she becomes pregnant with Jamie's child.

Toward the end of Book 3, Frank has died and Claire confesses her story to her daughter.  With the help of a friend, Roger Wakefield, they begin research and discover that Jamie did NOT die at Culloden.  Claire decides to go back to the 18th century and see if she can find him, which, of course, she does and they take up where they left off, with lots of ups and downs which make me think I will never, ever go on a ship again..

So now we start Season 4 of the TV season and in preparation, I re-read all of Book 4 to reacquaint myself with what happens.  In truth, when I read it the first time, it was my least favorite of the 7 books (book 8 is promised for 2019).  But re-reading it this time I really liked it and was ready for the new TV series to begin.

There are lots of fan pages on Facebook and I occasionally look at them to find out what is coming up.  The fans are slavish.  And helped by the fact that Gabaldon herself, along with many of the stars of the TV series are very accessible, always doing interviews and conventions and Sam Heughan especially (Jamie) is very active on twitter and often answers fans' questions.  (Heughan is a very handsome guy almost young enough to be my grandson.)

But because the fans are so slavish, they are very particular about the TV series and they complain about everything if it isn't just the way it was in the book.  For some reason, this first episode seems to have more complaints than the others.  They don't like  the new theme song (which I love....keeps the old tune but updates it to fit the action taking place in America), they don't like a switch that was made, which I won't describe but which jolted me too, but then I realized why it had to be done for TV when it was not necessary for the book, they don't like the violent end (which IS from the book), they complain about the costumes...and this is just the first episode.  I, for one, am willing to overlook a lot of differences from the book as long as the TV series keeps the lush look, the relationship between Claire and Jamie, and keeps the story moving forward, which this promises to do.

I can't wait till next week's episode.  Slaves and Indians and bears are coming in the weeks ahead.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Emotional day

Emotions can be high or low or "blah" and I think I experienced all three today.

It's never a good day when you wake up crying.  Well, I was't crying when I woke up, but watching the coverage from Pittsburgh made me so sad.  

I went from sad to mad watching Trump's reaction to it all, excusing his going to a rally that night because "we have so much fun at these things," and explaining that the Stock Market had not closed after 9/11 (wrong--it closed for 7 days), and the World Series didn't stop (wrong--it postponed its next game for a week).  He joked that he almost called it off because he had abad hair day, but the slaughter of 11 elderly Jews was not enough to make him think twice about "having fun" at a rally.
He read a speech about toning down rhetoric and then went on to make fun of Maxine Waters again ("but I'll be nice...") and grinned at the now traditional "lock her up" chants.

Over and over again, I was brought to tears by some news report or especially by interviews with survivors.

Ned stopped by after his doctor's appointment, which is in the complex where I used to work.  We had a catch-up visit and he did some tree pruning and helped with a minor computer problem for me.  We made arrangements to visit my mother on Wednesday.

After Ned left, the emotion became angry when I heard that, despite being asked NOT to come, the President is going to Pittsburgh today, the day people are burying their dead and the mayor has said he does not have enough manpower to protect the families and the president.  I'm wondering how he's going to make a campaign issue out of this visit because you know darn good and well that he's not going to comfort anybody.

Then there are the immigrants.  Oh  Pardon me.  The "invaders" marching from Central America.  Now he's sending 5,000 troops to a border where there are already more than 2000 guards. what are they going to do--shoot people? He's sending them this week, but the marchers aren't expected to arrive for at least a week. But that would be after the mid-terms and he couldn't make political hay out of sending troops if he waited until the "invaders" actually arrived in Mexico. Oh but I hear that if they actually GET here, the democrats are going to give them all cars. Pulleeze.

Now not only does the crowd consist of members of ISIS and MI3 but gangs, "bad people," mostly big strong men, and even people who want to spread small pox, TB and leprosy. Leprosy ??? What other thing can be made up about poor people fleeing violence in their countries and seeking safety somewhere else. 

The afternoon emotion was mostly blah because I turned off the news and didn't even watch NCIS, but made preparations for dinner.  (I'd forgotten how much I like carrot and raisin salad)
Then there was the joyous emotion of evening TV.  There was a 15th anniversary special of Wicked hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, which was in a small theater packed with Wicked fans dressed in Oz costumes.

The show was an hour and had excerpts from the show, including Galinda's "Popular" and Elphaba's "Defying Gravity."  The finale brought all the Galindas and Elphabas from Broadway on stage to sing "For Good," my favorite song from the show.

They also had did you know (or care?) that they used 400 pounds of dry ice at every performance.  There was also discussion about Elphaba's costume, which was apparently made of lots of different fabrics (and is now in the Smithsonian) but I forget the exact specifics about it.
The evening ended on a sad emotional note when Brian Williams reported on the support of the Pittsburgh Jewish community by the Muslim community, who set up a Go Fund Me account and also offered any support they might need, including standing guard outside the synagogue, if they needed it.

That's what we need more of -- disparate communities coming together, not tearing each other apart verbally or physically.

And I'm hoping the President has a bad hair day before getting on Air Force 1.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Darkness into Light

Pamela Trokanski is one of those Davis institutions that we have known for more than 30 years.  I believe she was teaching dance when we moved here.  Since Jeri was taking ballet lessons from a different teacher, she never did take modern dance from Pamela, but we just "knew" Pamela all those years.

Now she has her own studio

But she's really an amazing person.  She has been performing and teaching in Davis for 34 years, has given lectures and demonstrations and, since 1994, has funded almost 10,000 free movement classes for adults 65 and older. She has provided free dance classes for people with Parkinson's Disease and their caregivers since 2010.  She has also written a dance column for the local paper.

After I started being a critic, she invited me to come and review one of her recitals.  I explained that I knew absolutely NOTHING about dance and she said that made me perfect to review her shows because she meant them to be accessible to everyone.

I never go to one of her shows without fear and trepidation that I won't know what to write, and I'm almost always right.  I don't take notes, generally, because I can't write in the dark and if I do write, I can't read my notes afterwards.  But I always take notes in Pamela's shows because at least I think it gives me a fighting chance to know what I'm seeing (I usually still can't read my notes)

I had written to Pamela and asked her to save 2 seats on the house right in the front row for us.  She had not.  We had to go to the house LEFT, as far away from the door as you can get, and if Walt had to make a special trip to the bathroom, he'd have to walk through the dancers.  I was already in a bad mood

To get to our seats, I had to walk over people in the front row.  I had the walker and the tried to move their knees to the side, leaving me NOwhere to put the walker since the dance floor was roped off so we would not make the mistake of stepping on it.  I was quite grumpy by the time we got to our seats.

Her printed programs are rarely of much help.  This one had promise since it said that it listed "company members in order of performance" and listed the 8 dancers.  Well, that went by the wayside right away when there were actually NINE dancers, the 9th being Pamela herself.

Each dancer had a recorded message that set up a dance number and theoretically they were listed in the order of their presentation.   I only knew one other dancer, Allegra Silberstein, the oldest in the cast (she's older than I am and has danced with Pamela for decades).  She was listed as #2 but actually Pamela was #1 (I recognized her voice) and two more people spoke before Allegra did.  My intent had been to cross off people as their bit came up, and I did, but am not convinced I crossed off the right people.

The program also listed the musical numbers, in order.  Something by Pink was the 4th on the list and I figured that would be a nice place marker.  But there were about 7 pieces of instrumental numbers before a vocal came up (I finally gave up).

I actually enjoyed the performance.  It was called "Darkness into Light" and was described as:
If you follow world events or the unfolding of multiple national dramas, if you fret about the health of the planet or the ever increasingly rapid changes in technology, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Join us for an experience that may answer some of your questions on how to find balance in a world that feels increasingly chaotic and disorganized.
And this was put together before the synagogue shootings and the bomb threats.

I would have enjoyed it much m ore if I could just have enjoyed it without having to sit there and try to figure out what I was going to write because I just didn't have the proper words.

Fortunately Walt didn't need the bathroom during the performance and the rude people sitting in the front row left before I walked out with my walker.  So it was all good, but now I have to write the review.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

One of THOSE Days

It was nice to wake up snuggled under the quilt, having had a decent night of sleep.  I had gone to sleep giggling about the night comedians who were showing many video clips of many politicians all promising to protect pre-existing conditions at all costs.  Every single one of them has fought to deny pre-existing conditions and Florida's governor Rick Scott even  joined a federal lawsuit in spring seeking to strike down that provision of the health care law.

But now they are all about protecting pre-existing conditions.  What hypocrites.  Let's see how they feel the day after the midterm elections.

As I was waking up, The Today Show was just starting and then I learned that someone is trying to blow up prominent democrats.  What a way to start the morning.  Trump has attacked all of those people verbally and whipped the crowds into a frenzy time and time again.  He applauded a guy who attacked a reporter, to the applause of the base.  Is this attack anybody's surprise?  Not only that, but his response to these threats (read off a telelprompter with no emotion whatsoever) was much more mild than it has been to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee....and he never even mentioned (that I have heard) that the CNN building had to be evacuated because of the threat.  I suppose he thinks its was justified since he considers CNN to be the enemy of the people.

He is reaping what he has sewn this past year and a half and I am sad to think that this is only the beginning.

From there, I finally got up and came in to my office to write Funny the World.
I was met with a blue screen of, if not death, at least terminal illness (pun intended).  I had left the machine to reboot overnight and apparently this screen had been showing all night.  I turned the computer off and on again and got a message saying it could not be rebooted and did I want to do a system restore, putting it back to a time when it worked.  I said yes.

It took 45 min to an hour before I finally got a log in screen.  I was assuming that I was going to have to take the machine in to be fixed, but it did boot up, finally.  But it booted up to a HUGE red warning from McAfee that I had a problem that needed to be fixed NOW.

McAfee drives me nuts because I do not have it installed on my system and it remionds me many times a day that I have problems.  Maybe I misinterpreted what my guru had told me about McAfee being terrible, so before I gave in to its badgering, I called the guru to check and he pointed out that he installed Avira on my machine and that no, i did not need McAfee. He also gave me complicated instructions for how to rid the system of Avira, which I did not understand.

But I closed McAfee another half dozen times and felt content that Avira was taking care of me and I could live with the irritation of McAfee.

So, back in business, I sat down to write Funny the World, include photos, and all the stuff I always do. 

Then I went to post it--even before noon!  And it would not post.  I did exactly what I have done for the past many years -- at least 15 -- and it told me the files had uploaded, but when I went to look at them, they were not there.

Next step would have to be contact Yahoo, which hosts my domain and ask what gives.  First, knowing that it's nigh on to impossible to contact customer service any more, I wanted to do a complete reboot of the computer ("kicking it") and see if that would work.  First, though, I had received a long email from a friend I had not heard from in years and wanted to answer that message first, just to make sure that I didn't lose it.

Before that, Ned took me to Kaiser for my regular blood test -- so hoping I'll be in the 700s when the results come in.

We got home and sat and chatted for an hour or so and after Ned left, I came in here to answer the email but decided to try uploading the FTW entry first .... and it uploaded!!  Be still my heart!
So I seem to be back in business again.

I checked for incoming email and got a bunch of theater related stuff.  My mail goes through a program called mail washer, where I can weed out junk mail and only bring the mail I WANT to my computer.  I washed out all the bad mail and then gave it the command to send the good mail to my computer, and it tells me that it can't connect to my server. 


Now I have to try to figure out how to fix THAT.  It was working a few hours ago.  It's always something.

But in the meantime I'll try to see if I can get this entry to post before trying anything else.