Monday, January 21, 2019

About podcasts

I have, of course, known about podcasts for years, but never did anything with or about them.
I found the podcast app on my cell phone kind of by accident and checked to see if, perhaps, "Says You" (our favorite radio show) had a podcast.  It did.  I added it to my favorites but never did anything about it...or figured out what to do about it.

But with our new sleeping arrangement -- and who knows how long it will last -- I've been learning about podcasts.  Walt tried sleeping upstairs, but he does better downstairs, and he has been falling asleep at 9:30, lights out and golf on, leaving me with an evening with nothing to do and too early to sleep!

Sometimes I sit in my office here and muddle about on the Internet, but once I get into my chair there was nothing to do but watch golfer after golfer after golfer just miss the hole at the end of their round of play.  I almost want to cheer when a ball actually goes INTO the hole.  Since this condition of Walt's started, I'll bet I have seen 100 golfers just barely miss the hole on the first try.

And I've started listening to "Says You."  Last night was funny.  The stage is set up with two teams of 3 at tables opposite each other, with 2 scorekeepers in between.

From left to right that's Caroline, Arnie, Paula, 2 scorekeepers, Tony, Francine and Barry.  Got that?

As I was listening to the show I realized something was wrong.  Host Richard was calling on the panelists but I was hearing Arnie in my right ear and Tony in my left and that just was not right.  When I switched the earplugs around, then the panelists were in the correct ear and all was right with the world.

With the success of "Says You," I also downloaded the podcast for "Check Please, Bay Area," the San Francisco PBS show which reviews local restaurants.  We used to love that show until ComCast in its wisdom decided to deny us access to the San Francisco PBS station.  So we have not seen it in a long time.  But I can at least get the sound of it...but I don't listen that much because it's just not the same without the video of the food they are talking about to go along with the critiques.

When I began giving up Rachel Maddow so Walt could watch the PBS news hour, I discovered that I could get her show as a podcast, so that is now part of my nightly company.

For a time I listened to an Outlander podcast.  Two women critique each show after it airs.  It's an hour podcast ending with emails from listeners commenting on their show the previous week.  I only made it through 1-1/2 shows before I realized I wasn't interested at all.  Too much giggling, men ogling (Jamie, Murtah, Roger), too much criticism about things left out from the book, etc.  It just made me sad that I could not relate to most of what was being podcasted, so I dropped it.

Then I saw a TV report on podcasts and it sent me searching through the lists to see what else interested me.  I can't remember how many podcasts a day are uploaded to the Internet.  I barely touched the tip of the iceberg. 

I discovered that if I can't watch Morning Joe, I can hear it as a podcast.  I also added a couple of NPR shows I have enjoyed.  I thought Andy Cohen's show would be fun to listen to since I hear so much about it and never watch it.  "Stuff You Should Know" looked interesting, the current episode being about how lobotomies work.  I also added The Daily Show and Sunday Morning's Willie Geist show, which I always record and almost never watch (now I can always record and almost never listen).  There are a couple of show biz podcasts, one of which, Theater Talk, has been a favorite TV show which seems not to be broadcast any more.  There are several episodes, supposedly, on the podcast, but I haven't been able to get any of them to load yet.

One of my favorite new podcasts is Chris Hayes "Why Is This Happening," the podcast that expands his nightly news show.  I listened to the hour interview with his long-time friend, Rachel Maddow. 

I have often said that one of my favoritest things to do is to go to a Davis Comic Opera Party and just sit and listen to Steve Peithman and Jim Lane talk.  Both are theater experts.  Steve had a radio show for years, where he played soundtrack from musicals and explained them.  Jim is a movie reviewer for one of the local papers.  But both men are a treasure trove of entertainment memorabilia and just to listen to them makes the evening for me.

That's what the Hayes-Maddow conversation was like.  Not scripted, not like either of them would present it on camera, but just two very intelligent, very knowledgeable friends sitting and shooting the breeze about current events--and lots of other stuff.

So with my newfound podcasts, I am perfectly fine with golf all night.  I have my own world to sink into until I'm finally sleepy. 

Of course I also realized last night that I could probably call up a movie on Netflix, which opens up a whole 'nother avenue of entertainment.  I may never sleep again.

If anyone knows any great podcasts I should try, let me know. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Busy Day

We were all going out today.  Ned and Walt were going down to the barber shop to get Walt a much needed haircut 

I was going to Atria, since the flu quarantine is now lifted and then off to the store to figure out what to have for dinner.

But first I ended up watching the memorial service for Natalie Corona, the 22 year old police officer killed in the line of duty last week.  The university memorial auditorium was packed with more than 6,000 people

Everything was very moving and a nice send off for this woman who had such a promising future ahead of her.

When the service was over, they were going to be processing down Anderson Rd. on their way to her home town, where she would be laid to rest.  Anderson Rd. is the street I have to drive down to get to Atria, so I left quickly, hoping to beat the motorcade, which I did.  But it was moving to see how many people lined both sides of the street as far as the eye could see. 

I found my mother sitting in the dining room, finishing lunch...but she was still wearing her bathrobe and no shoes.  That surprised me because I thought the aides were good about getting everyone dressed before they went to meals.

After we moved into the common room, she told me that she had no clothes and that she had not been able to wear clothes for several days.  Well, we walked down to her apartment, and of course her closet was full, so I helped her get dressed.

This was one of her less "with it" days and she could not understand what I meant when I told her to take off her bathrobe first.  Then she told me that they change her bed every day and she never knows what her bed is going to look like.  At that point I reminded her that the bed was the one she slept in with Fred and asked if she remembered Fred.  She laughed and said "of course!" but in an instant she said she thought she had been married and I mentioned Fred again, she couldn't remember who he was.

It was, as it usually is, a depressing visit but I left and headed off to Supercuts, where, after NINE months, I finally got my hair cut.

Then I hit the supermarket where I first saw what would be our dinner tonight.

I got home and found Walt and Ned.  Walt had indeed gotten a haircut and looked better than he has in a very long time.

For dinner we had squash soup and the crab.  Ned has decided he is going to try to like fish which he has hated all of his life.  And, to give him credit he did eat a little crab, liberally topped with Sriracha sauce and pronounced it "not horrible."

We're still working on the ideal sleeping arrangement for Walt but Ned did a lot of arranging and rearranging today and maybe tonight will be better for him.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


The plan for today was for Walt's brother to come and visit.  Ned got things all organized around here and then took the day off, to go home and remind his dog who he is and do other things.

But then Norm couldn't come because in all the wild storms we had yesterday, his roof got a big hole in it and he had to wait for the roofer to come.

So we were back to square one around here.  Walt spent the day upstairs, I spent the day downstairs.  I know he spent some time reading his new book.  I spent most of the afternoon copying FTW entries over to Airy Persiflage.  I hadn't done anything since mid-November, so that was a lot of copying to do.

I kid myself that lots of people have been wondering where my entries are, but probably nobody noticed.  But I do keep the two journals figuring that at some point, Yahoo, which hosts Funny the World, is going to stop piddling little web sites like mine, and I want to be sure that I have copies of all these entries somewhere other than on a hard drive.

I have been working to the background of MSNBC and my god....all the new horrible news about this administration -- Trump ordered Cohen to pay someone to rig the polls in the lead up to the election.  No wonder he spent so much time insisting that the polls are rigged...He rigged them!

Turns out we separated thousands more children than we knew and at one point were planning to deport the kids, with or without parents, back to their home countries.  Can't you imagien a 4 year old landing in Honduras?

Then then Giuliani?  My god, who in the world would hire this man as their attorney.  Now Rudy "there is no collusion" Giuliani insists he never said there was no collusion, hundreds of tapes to the contrary, and that he only said that Trump was not involved and even if he was, he couldn't be arrested for collusion...which leads everyone to think this was a back door confession that the president DID collude with the Russians (which we all suspected anyway). 

I mean, with Giuliani and Cohen in the news, I don't know why anybody watches soap operas.  The news is much more entertaining these days, if it weren't so depressing.

("It's too stinky and dirty to care about," Rachel Maddow says, reporting all of this against her better judgement)

And to end this short entry, I don't know if you have seen the new ad cropping up for Peyronie's disease.  It starts showing a man holding a banana then you see the screen fill with bananas, cucumers, long peppers, etc.  Any vegetable that is long and somewhat misshapen fading to more information than you wanted to know about Peyronie's disease.  I never realized you could say "erection" so many times in a commercial!

That's it.  A nothing day.  And I forgot to write this until late at night!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Off to the Mediterranean

Well, it's a little over a month since Walt's surgery and I told Ned this morning that there was something wrong with the calendar he's posted:  there are NO upcoming doctors' appointments.  This is a good sign.

Today he and Ned walked to the supermarket to buy a few things.  I could tell it was therapeutic for him to be out of the house and doing something.  

He had several appointments this week, including the urologist to remove the catheter and then later the same day, the urologist again to decide if he had survived being without a catheter for a day.  He came home catheter-less.

He also had an appointment to have a heart monitor put on, which he will wear for a month.
He's back sleeping in the recliner again (all night golf for me again)

This from Abu Dhabi
This is because it's easier/faster for him to get to the bathroom.  His bladder is still in the retraining process. 

Ned set up a chart for him to check every time he went to the bathroom.  Walt told me that he went every 5 minutes or so, but I know for a fact that he slept at least one hour. The chart shows he was in the bathroom 16 times through the night, so he didn't get a lot of solid sleep, but he also made it to the bathroom each time, which is a huge improvement.  Ned slept on the couch so he could be here if his Dad needed him.

He also bought the house a copy of "Mediterranean Diet for Dummies" and we are in the process of improving our diet.  Walt has pretty much eaten a Mediterranean-like diet consistently.  He has always preferred vegetables and whole grains.  My life is junk bread, real butter and chocolate.  It's obvious which of us needs to do the more changing.

He has always made his own breakfast and lunch to make up for whatever junk food I am cooking for dinner.  These days he doesn't seem to remember that he did that all the time, and has started to ask me what is for lunch, so I am going to have to start getting more pro-active on fixing lunch for him.  My lunch is generally picking, picking, picking from breakfast until dinner.

We're going to add fish to our diet, which will be interesting.  Ned doesn't like fish, but is willing to give it a try.  I never buy or cook fish because it's too expensive.  In fact, we had more fish than ever in our married life when we were doing Blue Apron and Home Chef, which makes me think that perhaps I should start up our account again, not only so I can have fish on the weekly menu, but also recipes for how to cook them.  I'm not really a big fan of salmon (except for smoked salmon with cream cheese), I know I don't like catfish and I remember loving cod when I was a kid, but I have never cooked it.  Walt likes tilapia and orders it when he lunches at IHOP with his work cronies, but I read an article about tilapia being the "garbage fish" and just can't think of eating it after that.

The Washington Post wrote
When it comes to fish, no species brings out the haters like tilapia.

Read up on it, and you’ll find tilapia described with words like “muddy” and “earthy”; there are entire forum threads devoted to its inferiority. This very newspaper, back in 2007, called it “the fish that chefs love to hate.”
In some places it's known as the "poop fish" because on some farms, it is often fed feces of the other animals.
a combination of rumors and credible reports works against it. Perhaps you’ve heard that tilapia are raised in cesspools and live on poop? Even the USDA says there is — or, at least, used to be — some truth in that. The agency’s 2009 report on Chinese imports notes that “Fish are often raised in ponds where they feed on waste from poultry and livestock.”
However, the Post is actually in favor of eating tilapia
Before we meet that fact with a chorus of “ewww,” it’s worth noting that turning feces into fish would be the agricultural equivalent of spinning straw into gold. Although there are important safety concerns in that kind of system, if you can manage those risks, you’ve got one of the most sustainable foods going. It’s a downright Rumpelstiltskinnian miracle, and we should root for it, not against it.
So I guess I'm going to have to learn to cook/like tilapia, as it is one of the more affordable fishes that we can add to our new Medierranean diet (I wonder if you can make a rich butter sauce to pour over it.....)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


In all of the many doctors' appointments Walt has had, someone probably the neurologist, suggested that to help clear his brain fuzziness, he should read a book, work puzzles, and learn a new word every day.  So we have Alice Nan's puzzles here (we've finished two), he's started the first book by Dick Francis' son, Felix, and the dictionary is downstairs, but we haven't checked out words yet.
However, the weirdest thing happened last night. It was about 3 or 4 a.m. when I woke up with the word "iatrogenic" on my brain.  I don't know why.  I don't remember ever having seen it, spoken it, or typed about it, but I couldn't stop thinking about it so after about an hour, trying to get to sleep while thinking about the word "iatrogenic" I finally got my cell phone and Googled  it.  You know what it says?
Iatrogenic disease is the result of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures undertaken on a patient. With the multitude of drugs prescribed to a single patient adverse drug reactions are bound to occur. ... Iatrogenic (of a disease or symptoms) induced in a patient by the treatment or comments of a physician.
That's IT!  That's what my "whatever it is" was.  An iatrogenic disease caused by taking the wrong statin.  

Now why in the world would my brain do that?  And how did it know the word "iatrogenic."  I was vaguely familiar with the word enough so I knew how to spell it, but didn't have a clue what it meant or even that it was a medical term.

The oddest thing is that in the morning, after I woke up, when I was going to tell Ned and Walt about it, I could not remember the word at all.  (Eventually, with some mental gymnastics, I did, but it took awhile.)

We are very happy that Walt's fuzziness is starting to clear up.  He's frustrated at what he has difficulty remembering and concentrating on, but this is a new person from the one we took to the emergency room two weeks ago, and that is very comforting for Ned and me and I hope in time it will be comforting for Walt too.

I should have expected something like this.  But after 19 years with only one complaint letter, I let my guard down.  The youth theater presented two plays this month, back to back, and I reviewed both of them.

The first one was excellent; the second one was bad.  In 19 years of reviewing this company this is the very first bad review I have given and they deserved it.  The comparison between the two shows was striking.

Welllll.....that didn't sit well with one of the young actors who took to Letters to the Editor to write a very long screed including, in part:
This treatment of the play was quite unfair and lacked any appreciation for the fact that it was a youth community theater production with a volunteer cast.
By printing Ms. Sykes’ review, you really failed your readers. I can’t imagine that you would have printed similar coverage of the high school basketball or football teams. A local paper like The Enterprise exists to connect and support its community. Much like community theater, it is fair to say that the quality of your paper — its writing, editing, and graphics — pales when compared to publications like the New York Times or San Francisco Chronicle. Despite this, our family subscribes to the Enterprise because it is a way to support and connect with our community. Ms. Sykes’ review calls into question whether that is worthwhile. The Enterprise should print an apology.
The head of the theater company whom I have known since she was an actor in this group, and I have been talking.  She is very upset about the letter and says she will write an apology letter to the paper.
The thing that gets me is that whenever a bad review appears for one of the local companies, someone invariably points out that they are not professionals, that they are volunteers and the critic needs to take that into consideration.

Before I started reviewing, the then-critic was taken to task by someone who said something along the line of "we are all volunteers.  We work day jobs and by Friday (opening night) we are all tired."  (I came to the critic's defense and asked the writer if they charged less on Friday nights and if they warned the audience that they would be seeing a production by people who were not at their best because they were tired?)

The thing about this company is that Jeri and Paul were founding members and so we have watched them for 39 years and I have been very generous with reviews over the years.  We don't consider this a "children's theater" because they want to be considered on an adult community theater level and I have always reviewed them that way.  I told the head of the company that if I have to start patting them on the head to make them feel good, I'll just stop reviewing because they are just "children."
The thing about criticizing critics is that it (a) calls more attention to your production which was not reviewed favorably, and (b) will have zero impact because there is no way that a revised review will be printed.  It's a lose-lose situation for the writer.  I learned that over many years of being publicist for theaters here and in San Francisco.  If you don't like the better next time!  That's the best revenge.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Day of Rest

Walt had a 9 a.m. appointment for an ultrasound (yes, on Sunday) in Sacramento.  Ned was going to meet him and Alice at Kaiser.  I decided having three people accompany him for what would be a 5 minute (at most) procedure, so I stayed home...which was good because I was just waking up when Alice and Walt left at 8.

Naturally, things did not go as planned.  Though the test was ordered in the computer, nobody told him he needed permission from ... someone ... and they were going to make an appointment for a different day.  But by the time they were ready to re-schedule the appointment they managed to find someone to give official permission.

But it all took so long they decided to have a late breakfast at IHOP and apparently had a great time sitting and chatting.  It was around  2 before Alice returned.  Ned stayed in Sacramento, this morning in time for his appointment with his internist.

Alice was here to watch football, then a Huell Howser special on Half Dome and was here for Outlander, my favorite night of the week.  However, after 5 minutes of watching the show she said she was eager to watch, she decided it was too complicated and she didn't like Jamie and so she went into the living room with Walt.  (They probably made fun of my favorite program.)

Alice returned to Santa Barbara and Ned returned to Davis.  Tomorrow Walt has two urology appointments and an appointment to have a heart monitor installed.

The good news is that his fog is lifting, but he has forgotten much of what happened the past few weeks, so he is re-learning all of that.

Doctors have recommended he eat a Mediterranean diet, read books, learn a new word from the dictionary every day, and play puzzles.  He already ates about a 70% Mediterranean diet, so that won't be a big change.  But he's never been a big book person or a puzzle person.

He has read all of the Dick Francis books, which he enjoyed, but Francis is dead now.  However, his son has taken up the mantle and is writing books which are advertised as "Dick Francis books," but are only written in his style after his death.  I ordered one of those and that was delivered today. I hope Walt will get into it.

Alice Nan brought puzzles and Ned set up a card table and a puzzle.  

Walt was involved in something else and said he'd join us eventually, but by the time he came down stairs about an hour and a half later, we had finished the puzzle.  He probably wasn't really disappointed.  It was a pretty small puzzle.  But Ned took the puzzle apart and they started over again.

I have a Wizard of Oz puzzle the girls gave me for Christmas, which is 1,000 pieces and I might get that going and see if I can convince Ned and Walt to join me.

I've checked the internet for ideas about the Mediterranean diet, but.... remember those glory days when you could Google something like that and actually got it?  Now you go through 10 different screens that give you 10 more screens, advertisements, etc until you're so sick of it all you give up and buy a book!

Tomorrow the urologist will take Walt off the catheter again and see how his body responds.  He may also be off of his antibiotic and can have milk products again...we have an awful lot of cheese in the refrigerator!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Stealing

Welcome to Sunday Stealing. This feature originated and published on WTIT: The Blog. Here we will steal all types of questions from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent questions. (Past hosts include: Our first - Judd Corizan, Mr. L, Kwizgiver and Bud)  Cheers to all of us thieves!

This is kind of weird.  It's from a set of "Storywise" cards that were made for Alzheimers patients, which they have at the facility where my mother lives.

1. The strangest place you've ever been.

The Pinnacle Desert, in Western Australia.  There are thousands of limestone pillars like these and the whole place looks like a set for Star Trek.

2. Unusual food combinations you enjoy.
My son loved Peanut butter, jelly and tuna, which was pretty weird.  I don't have that weird taste (he added pickles one day and decided that was too gross).  Like Elvis, I like peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  But I can't think of anything truly unusual.

3. Your best cure for hiccups.
A spoon full of sugar works for me almost every time, letting it slowly melt on my tongue

4. Something you have never done but would like to try.
I'm too old and too fat now, but I am sorry that I never learned how to ride a horse.

5. A routine you do every day without fail
Watch Jeopardy and then cook dinner.

6. Something new you've recently learned.
That with the shut down of the government, vandals are ruining national parks, such as painting and chopping down irreplaceable 1000 year old trees in Joshua Tree National Park.

what it looks like

what it should look like.
7. Your keenest sense.
My sense of humor!

8. Whether you prefer cooking or cleaning up.
Definitely cooking.  How fortunate I am that before his surgery, Walt had taken over doing the cleaning after dinner.

9. Where were you the last time you saw the sun rise.
In our back yard.  We are often awake early enough to watch the sun rise.  We have seen some beautiful sunrises.

10. A recent time you were embarrassed.
A couple of days ago when I realized, with a head full of soapy hair, that I had left my hearing aids in.

11. An everyday sound that delights you.
When Polly barks to let us know that the mailman has come

12. The last conversation you had with a stranger.

The past week I have spoken with a lot of strangers, all working at Kaiser Hospital, about Walt's condition.  (Now that he's home I only talk with family about his condition!)