Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thursday Thirteen

I discovered something wonderful this morning.  On the kitchen table, hidden among all the other bottles of pills and potions that my doctor thinks I need to keep me alive, was a bottle which said something about "coughs and congestion."  I hadn't though of actual medication to deal with the symptoms of this cold but, by golly, an hour after I took a dose, I had stopped coughing.  I haven't had a coughing fit since.  The miracle of modern medicine!

So going along with the theme of the day, I thought I would write a "Thursday Thirteen" about things that I think about when I have a cold.  All things considered, I am very fortunate that I have so few things wrong with me.  I may get a cold, like the one I've been dealing with for the past 3 days, once or twice a year--or maybe only once every other year, but basically I have nothing serious to deal with, so I can be fairly cavalier about sick thoughts.

1.  Even though I'm 75 years old, every single time I get sick, I always think back to the first time I realized I was an adult.  I was living in an apartment with a fold down bed that took up the entire living room when I opened it.  I don't remember if it was a cold or the flu, but I was in bed and realized that I was...alone.  Nobody was going to make the bed for me, pin a bag to the side of the bed for my used tissues, bring me chicken noodle soup, soothe my fevered brow or run to the library to get books for me to read.  It was just me. I must really have enjoyed being sick as a kid because all these 60+ years later, that is STILL my first thought.

2.  All these years later, silly though it may be, I feel guilty for never reading Rudyard Kipling's "Kim," which was my mother's favorite book and which she was so excited to bring to me when I was sick.  I never could get into it.  Very strange that I still feel guilty about that.

3.  Being sick is a legitimate excuse to snuggle down in my recliner and watch TV all day.  And if, like yesterday, it is an NCIS marathon day, I've hit the jackpot.  The nice thing about being sick with NCIS is that I know every episode well, so if I fall asleep during one episode and wake up during another, I haven't missed anything and can catch up easily.

4.  And if there is no NCIS or Criminal Minds marathon, it's a great excuse to catch up on all those things you've recorded to watch "sometime."

5.  Polly's very favorite snack is used Kleenex.  Whether something has fallen off the top of the pile or she climbs up in the other chair to sneak one  (I need that bag pinned to the side of my chair!), she make short work of the tissue in no time and it often looks like walking through a snowstorm here.
6.  Orange juice never tastes as good as it does when you have a cold.

7.  When you lose your taste buds, nothing is appealing to you.  I lost 7 lbs this week.  I know I will gain them all back soon enough, but things don't have any taste for me right now and normally I can eat anytime, even if I'm nauseated, but not this week.

8.  Naps are a wonderful thing.  Lately I seem to nap a lot but when you're sick it's expected of you...again, no guilt.

9.  Nobody has to remind you to drink water.  Water is the elixir of everything -- the first thing that happened after they hoisted me to my feet after my fall on Sunday was that someone brought me a bottle of water.  When I'm sick, I seem to crave water.

10.  I feel guilty saying this, but I have a legitimate excuse not to go to Atria.  No need to spread germs.  And they don't want me there anyway!

11.  It's a time to feel grateful that you aren't really sick with something more serous than a cold and realize that you'll be over it in a couple of days and for so many others, sickness is a lifelong companion.

12.  A quilt and a fluffy pillow.  Was there ever a more inviting combination?

13.  If you are lucky and your cold involves a fever, you can enjoy wallowing in fevered fantasies of what you would do to #45 if you had the opportunity.

I think I have taken advantage of most of these  things and realize that thanks to the "cold/congestion" bottle I found, I am crawling out from beneath the mantle of sickness, but it was as enjoyable as possible, while it lasted.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bee Our Guest

Our friends Pat and Bud recently had an unusual experience that I thought made a nice topic for this entry, so this is a guest entry....

About a month ago, we noticed hundreds of bees dancing around the south side of our house. By night, we could hear them buzzing in our wall.

Sure enough, an entire colony of bees had discovered a tiny crack between the fireplace chimney and the house, and had invaded the wall as an ideal place for a hive. Within hours some had also found a way into the living room. We have a pest control service that sprays the perimeter of the house, so these bees apparently had to go through a spray zone on their way into the house, and were dying as they entered. Nevertheless, it’s disconcerting to wake up and find about a hundred dead bees in the living room and kitchen. Every. Morning.

I did NOT know there is a bee recovery team in Davis (see The guy in the middle of the photo was the one who worked with us.) And thank god there is.

Well, removal involves using a stethoscope on the drywall in your house to find the area of loudest activity. And cutting through the drywall IN your house rather than trying to locate the colony through Hardiboard or removing outside siding is the way to go. 

So we were shooed out of the house for four hours while they cut a big hole in the wall over the fireplace and removed the queen into a while box — and the most of the rest of the bees followed her out the door. The team also removed a honeycomb (see photo) the bees had developed in the three weeks they lived with us. Everything ON the wall had to be removed along with moving proximate furniture. 

Still had bees in the house a good five days after the recovery team left, but they seem to be gone (or dead) by now. Our contractor is coming over Tuesday to repair the drywall and paint the wall .

We have learned a lot about Davis honeybees, including the fact that these are a docile breed. You find a live one on your shirt, you just gently pick it up by the sides and carry it to an exit that has sunlight on it, and they will fly out that door when you let it go — no stinging involved. Yup, not a single sting to us or the crew. We learned to share our abode with an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 bees for a month. I’d prefer not to use that knowledge again in the future, but…you know…..

I would have liked to have kept the hive in our yard, but the yard guy is afraid of them and refused to go into the back yard until after the bees had been removed. Understandably. Not to mention they would be next to the deck.

And so endeth (I hope) this month’s saga

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Limp Spaghetti

When I woke up yesterday morning I expected to be sore all over after my fall, but surprisingly I didn't.  I had a few tiny aches and pains but nothing really bad. 

Then the sneezing started.  That wasn't unusual either.  I have a sneezing fit every morning, which have assumed for years is my body's way of getting rid of all the spores in the air.  Three or four sneezing fits and I'm good for the day.

Only this time the sneezing didn't stop and my throat was very raw.  Also, I began leaking precious bodily fluids from several orifices.  The mountain of tissues on the table next to me was piling up.  I remembered the days of my childhood when my mother would make sure I had clean, crisp sheets to climb under and pinned a paper bag to the side of the bed so I had somewhere to dispose of used tissues.  Now I tossed them willy nilly on the table next to the recliner.

My ears felt stuffed and my head felt swollen.  i didn't have a fever, but felt like limp spaghetti whenever I got up.

My throat hurt so I was not able to speak very loud at all.

Fortunately for me, there was an NCIS-LA marathon so I sat in a chair and watched the entire season one, from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. (with a half hour break for Jeopardy). 

I had no appetite and I think all I had to eat all day was a couple of small cinnamon rolls left over from the day before, and a few spoonfuls of clam dip, without crackers.  I kept pouring cool water down my throat.

And that was how I spent my day. Walt cooked his own dinner.

I had some problem getting to sleep, but eventually passed out around 2 a.m. and slept pretty much through the night

I feel somewhat better and I think I'm going to live.  But I'm not going to Atria today, for fear of spreading germs.

Now aren't you glad I shared all that

Monday, May 28, 2018


It is no exaggeration to say that over my lifetime, I have taken thousands of photos, but of them all, this one may be the most memorable.

Doesn't look like much, does it?  We were at the Paul Picnic and had just taken a group photo and this one was supposed to be those in the group who had performed with Acme Theatre Company.
I stepped in next to someone else to take a photo.  I was wearing, as I always do, my Birkenstocks.  The ground was uneven and there was a slight slope.  I could feel myself start to lose balance and tried desperately, using my cane, to steady myself, but it was too late. I could feel myself out of balance more and more and eventually ending up flat on my back in the dirt, my head down the slope.

As if that weren't embarrassing enough, when I am on the ground, I can't get up.  It's why I don't ever do exercises that involve getting on the floor, or getting on the floor to play with the grandkids.  We tried all sorts of things and ultimately it took three people, one on each side and one in front (and maybe someone pushing from behind) to get me on my feet again.  So glad that my kids and their friends are strong!

I expected to be more sore today than I am, so I guess there was no serious damage, except to my ego.

Before this photo, we had taken a group photo...

So I could be in the photo, Ned handed my phone to young Charlie, who didn't want to be in the picture.  I'm not sure how old Charlie is, but I think he's either in kindergarten or 1st grade.  Charlie took one hundred and forty photos, several of which looked like this.

It was another fun day.  The park, in Richmond (near Berkeley) has lots of nice picnic spots, many of which are up hills so there is a guy with a truck at the entrance of the park there to ferry people to where they want to go.  I got in the truck this time and he said "I remember you--you're with the musicians, right?"

We have had larger groups, but this was the core faithful.  Kag, who hosts this picnic every year, was at the BBQ cooking lots and lots of ribs.

And what I love about picnicking with musicians is that there is always music.

And its always a place where Walt can relax...

Each year as I look at the second generation kids of this group, I am reminded of how long Paul has been dead.  Milo is the oldest of the group, and he was not conceived at the time of Paul's death.

He's heading off to college this year.

Kag told me that the longer we do this, the more surreal it gets because all in the group are now middle aged and Paul is stuck at 30 and he realizes how different the adult group is than the group when Paul died.

But it's a nice tradition and I am glad that Kag continues to host it.

There was a large Hispanic group picnicking down the hill from where we were.  Parents and kids of all ages, including some toddlers.  I watched them all play and envisioned ICE jackboots marching in and ripping the little kids out of their parents hands and taking them off, losing them.  It hurt my heart so much, especially when one Mom climbed the hill where we were with a little girl who looked to be about 3 and was smiling and saying "I'll help you, Mommy." All I could see was someone picking up this little girl, terrifying her, and taking her away from her mother.  

Damn administration....

Sunday, May 27, 2018

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 from See the Stars Ablaze --a site you might prefer not to check out, but I liked the questions.


1 - Do you ever wish you were someone else?
No.  I can't think of anybody else I'd like to be.  I'm content, more or less, with who I am.

2 - How old are you?
gently pushing 80

3 - Age you get mistaken for:
Well, I have good genes.  My mother was always thought to be 20 years younger than she actually was--and that we were sisters.  Now, not.  She may not look 98, but nobody is going to think she's in her 70s any more.  I don't know how old people think I am now, but I suspect they would guess late 60s...until they see me walk anywhere.

4 - Your zodiac/horoscope and if you think it fits your personality
I occasionally read my horoscope just for laughs and it is rarely appropriate, but a friend who was into all that stuff did a chart for me once and it was eerily accurate.  What was odd is that everywhere that was appropriate "writing" appeared.

5 - What did you do on your last birthday?
We drove to San Francisco for dinner and to watch the taping of our favorite radio show, Says You.  A week or so later, we had dinner with our son Ned and Walt sister and brother (and their spouses) to celebrate my birthday and Walt's birthday, which is a week later.

6 - What is one thing you would like to accomplish before your next birthday?
You know, with my mother's Alzheimers getting worse, I can't think of the future, I just live day to day, week to week.  I have no accomplishment hopes at the moment...except maybe read more books.
7 - What is your hair color?
Salt and pepper...and I love it.  I tell people I earned all these grey hairs.

8 - Have you ever dyed your hair?
When I was in my 30s, I wanted auburn hair like Maureen O'Hara, so I did a dye job home and got a lovely shade of metallic purple-ish.  That was the end of my dying.

9 - What is your eye color?
Green with yellow flecks (according to Walt).

10 - If you could change your eye color, would you?
Nah  Well, maybe if I could have those famous violet eyes that Elizabeth Taylor had, I might consider it.

11 - Do you wear contacts/glasses?
Heck yes. Trifocals.  I have to put them in the same place each night because I can't find my glasses without my glasses.

12 - Your opinion about your body and how comfortable you are with it:
Blech.  Inside I'm tall (well at least as tall as I was before I stared shrinking), well proportioned and with the build of an athlete.  In reality, I'm a marshmallow.

13 - Have you ever considered plastic surgery? What would you alter about your body?
Not for me.  I had a friend who did a tummy tuck once and died a week later from an infection.  I wasn't interested before and I'm REALLY not interested after.  I figure that like the grey hairs I earned in life, I've earned all these rolls of fat and I might as well make peace with them.  I once worked for a gynecologist who did (and still does) vaginal plastic surgery.  Now THAT was fascinating, especially designing his web site.

14 - Do you have any tattoos?
Nope.  Not at all interested.

15 - Do you have any piercings?
Two.  One in each ear.

16 - Left or right handed?
I'm sinister.  I've been lucky that nobody ever tried to force me to switch when I started school--lots of teachers did that in those days.

17 - Do you drink?
Just water.  Very rarely I'll have an alcoholic drink or maybe a beer, but I'm not really a drinker.  I'm a disappointment to my alcoholic ancestors!

18 - Do you smoke?
I smoked one cigarette in my life.  Bought a pack in high school to be "cool," tried one, hated it and threw it and the rest of the pack away, which is probably lucky because most of my relatives who have died have died of lung-related diseases and all were smokers (my mother is the only one of the 10 in her family who never smoked)

19 - Do you have any pets?
Just one Chihuahua now.  This is the most pet-empty house we've ever had, but it's kind of peaceful.

20 - Do you have any “rules” about food?
It should be eaten while still hot, not lukewarm from sitting on the table for 10 minutes. That's about it.

Friday, May 25, 2018

What's This?

OK.  Who knows what this is?

If you watched Nature last night (it's becoming one of my favorite shows!). you may recognize this as a pangolin.  I like to think I know a lot of weird animals, but I must admit that this one was new to me.

This dinosaur-looking anteater-type animal is the only scaled animal in the world, and the most trafficked (beating even elephants).  It's hard to tell from this picture what the size is, so here is a photo of an affectionate pangolin.

And they are actually cute.

They apparently make great parents.

The animals are wanted for their scales, which are considered in some countries (primarily China) as having medicinal use, such as in treating cancer.  Also pangolin meat is considered a luxury dish in some Asian countries.

A web site about World Pangolin Day says that  they could be extinct before most people have even heard of them.  It has been estimated that over 1.1 million pangolins have been poached for the illegal trade in the last 16 years. Parts representing a minimum 19,000 African pangolins have been found since 2008, which likely represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of the true tragic size of the illegal trade. 

So I wanted to make people aware of pangolins and the danger of their complete extermination, like the Northern White Rhino.  I recommend checking out the Nature special, or watching the show on Nature's web site.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thursday Thirteen

I watched The Great American Read last night, a PBS show hosted by Meredith Vierra designed to get Americans to read more.  The two-hour show went through 100 books that had been collected by various suggestions from the public as the most favorite book of all.  The show presented each of the 100 books, had some interviews with authors and I guess between now and the fall, people can go to the web site and vote for their favorite(s) and votes will be tallied and determine which is the favorite book of all.  You can vote once a day and can vote for more than one book at a time.

I have read over half of the books on the list and thought I would pick thirteen to talk about here.  These aren't necessarily my favorite books but books that have made an impact on me for one reason or another.

1.  I'm certain that when all the votes are tallied To Kill a Mockingbird will end up being #1.  It is on everyone's list and who doesn't love this book?  I'm glad that I never saw Harper Lee's first book, which was kind of a prequel to Mockingbird and which was not published until after her death.  Apparently people encouraged her to publish the other book first and it was the only book published in her lifetime.  Apparently in the prequel Atticus Finch wasn't such a good, noble guy and I would hate to think of anything other than a Gregory Peck-ish Atticus Finch.

2.  The list combines series books into one book, so choosing Outlander is actually choosing all 8 of Diana Gabaldon's books.  It may not be my favorite book but is close to the top.  I am not as slavishly dedicated to the series as many, many others are, but I do love it, especially the audio books, because of the wonderful narration by Davina Porter.

3.  Catch-22 might not be on my all time favorite book list, but we all read Joseph Heller's farcical novel in college and bits and pieces of it stick with us today.  And who can hate a book with a character named Major Major Major Major?

4.  Where the Red Fern Grows is a multi-tissue book that I loved and gave to Brianna for Christmas.  I don't know if she has read it, or will read it, but I wanted to share that book with her.  It is one of my favorite dog books.

5.  I wonder if I would love Jane Eyre as much now as I did as an adolescent.  I read it several times, along with Wuthering Heights, so the Bronte sisters were some of my favorites.  The language might make it a slog to get through now.

6.  Of course Gone with the Wind has to be on my list.  I tried reading it twice and gave up and when I finally gave it the ol' college try on the third reading, I got immersed in it and read it one or two times after that.  It's one book that I don't think the movie spoiled for me.

7.  I stopped reading the latest books in the Clan of the Cave Bear series, but at the time when I was reading Jean Auel's epic quasi historical novel, I was really taken with it.  The heroine is Ayla, a young Cro-Magnin girl who grows to adulthood during the course of the books.  You have to hand it to Ayla because according to Auel she is responsible for everything good in life--the wheel, spoken language, domesticating animals, cooking food, and even discovering orgasm.  A prehistoric Superwoman.  (It all got too fantastical for me and I stopped reading)

8.  I did go through a lot of b-i-g books at a certain point in my life and Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet was one of them.  I had read many of Follet's thriller-type books and this, which tells the story of the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Knightsbridge (I think it was based on the cathedral in Salisbury). It covers the years from 1123 to 1174.  I was very glad I had read that book when we were at Salisbury Cathedral many years ago and perhaps had a greater appreciation for the work that went into the building of it (though I have not read the two subsequent books which take the cathedral through to its completion.

9. I was pleased to see Armistad Maupin's Tales of the City on the list.  I first read the book, as everyone did, in serial form in the San Francisco Chronicle.  The first three (I think) were serials and eventually they all made it to book form.  I loved those books, which were set half a block from where I grew up.

10.  Chronicles of Narnia is on the list.  While  these books aren't favorites, they have made a big impact on me because of Brianna's book club where she leads a discussion among several adults, which is one of the "funn-est" things that has happened in the last couple of years.

11.  I'd put Grapes of Wrath on my list, though I really like Steinbeck's East of Eden better.  I went through a huge Steinbeck period, where I read almost all of his books, back to back.  I found that my writing improved whenever I was reading Steinbeck.

12.  I will guiltily admit to reading Book 1 of both the Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey sagas.  Both were a waste of time and I hated the heroines of both books, though curiosity about what was going to happen kept me reading.  However, finishing Book 1 I had absolutely NO desire to continue the Grey series.

13.  From time to time I think about George Orwell's 1984 and wonder which of my favorite books I would choose to memorize and pass along to a younger person, if all the books were to be destroyed.  Of course it's all moot at this point anyway because I couldn't remember diddily squat now.

The list does not include Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar, which was one of my adolescent favorites which I read at least once a year for several years.  The movie totally destroyed it for me, it ruined it so badly.  Likewise Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides, which was one of the best written books I'd read in a long time, didn't make the list.  It too was destroyed by the movie (I have a hard time forgiving Barbra Streisand for what she did to it!)

I will be continuing to cast my vote(s) over the coming weeks and will be curious to see if my prediction about To Kill a Mockingbird ends up being true

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Changing Dynamics

We watched the Food Network's Best Baker in America last nightI think I watch these Food Network competition shows to make myself feel bad.  Not only can I not make 99% of what the adults and children make, but I only know the lingo from listening to them use the terminology for so long.  (What is a semi-fredo anyway?  Still not sure what a "coulis" is.  It took a long time to learn that ganache is just chocolate melted in cream.)

Best Baker is a competition among professional bakers in who can make the best looking/tasting "thing" (whatever the project of the week is).

I had this strange feeling when the judges were introduced:

I remembered Jason Smith from when he entered his first contest, for which he was the first self-taught chef winner, and then he competed to be the Next Food Network Star, which he also won (he worked in a school kitchen and now he has his own Food Network show)  And as for Marcella Valladolid, she is a chef on The Kitchen and a very active on social media.  I know her, her kids, her husband, her house all from following her posts on Instagram.

Social media has changed the celebrity-fan dynamic.  Now if you like a certain celebrity and they use Social Media, you can feel a real part of their life, especially if they ever answer one of your tweets (even if only 'thank you.')

Matt Bomer (White Collar) and Sam Heughan (Outlander) are two of the most handsome actors I've seen on TV (both are younger than Tom).  They are also both prolific tweeters.

Bomer's show has been off TV for a couple of years, Outlander is heading into its 4th season.  It was ignored by awards shows in its first season, had a couple of nominations in the second, and now has seventeen nominations for the third season, including one for Heughan.  I'm wondering how much the availability of Heughan especially has to do with the show being finally noticed.

Paulie Perette and Brian Dietzen, both of NCIS, are also big tweeters.  Perette had lots of interactions with fans in the weeks leading up to her departure from the series and Dietzen may be the show's best publicity person, with his pre-show tweets each week.

When I was a star-struck kid, I had to wait for the latest issue of a movie magazine to learn anything about the actors I enjoyed (information carefully orchestrated by the about fake news!).  Now you can chat with them on a daily basis or follow their lives by reading what they share with the public.

And it's not just the younger guys who use social media.  One of the most prolific tweeters is 96 year old Carl Reiner, who is a very stern Trump task master and tweets often.  Slightly less prolific, but still a frequent tweeter is son Rob, who likewise holds #45's feet to the fire...for whatever good it does..

We watched David Letterman receive the Mark Twain award for comedy last night.  They ran several clips from his show, including my very favorite stupid pet trick

Monday, May 21, 2018

Dr. Doolittle

I don't think I ever read "Doctor Doolittle" and may have seen the movie, but I'm not sure.  But throughout my life I have read enough animal books about the relationship between humans and their animals, relationships that have almost an esp about them, that I always dreamed of having an animal I could communicate with, the way Alec and The Black understood each other, or the way The Master and his collies understood each other.

Polly and I have probably the closest thing to a non-verbal communication.  She works harder at it than I do, spending every waking moment studying me trying to figure out if I'm getting ready to go out, going into the kitchen for a snack or for some other reason, whether I'm going to sit in the recliner or Walt's chair.  She bases or own actions on which she decides she thinks I'm going to do.  If I'm going to the kitchen for a snack, she's right on my heels, but if I'm going to get a glass of water, she doesn't bother to get up.  If I stand up, ready to go out, she's dancing around the family room waiting for the snack she knows I will give her, but if I'm just going into my office, she barely lifts her head.

For my part, I have the luxury of studying her body language, trying to decipher what is going on in that little head.  Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don't.

But I watched a Nova special last night (What are Animals Saying?), when I was trying to get back to sleep, and it was so fascinating it kept me awake.  It was on how animals communicate, non-verbally, with each other.  I have such admiration for people who spend literally decades observing a certain species of animals.  One woman, for example, spent so much time over 10+ years living on the outskirts of a tribe of chimpanzees that she almost felt like part of the family.  She observed the subtle ways in which they interact with each other.

The scratches of chimps aren't simply random gestures, but part of a secret language.  It can be a signal to a child that can either mean "grooming" or "let's travel together."  A mother who is walking with her baby and quietly lifts her back foot a bit, is telling the baby to get on her back so she can carry him.

They studied primates who have learned how to communicate with humans and how many words or symbols they learned, but I think they gave short shrift to KoKo, the gorilla who not only has a large vocabulary of American Sign language, but is able to use her vocabulary to express her desires and her feelings and even create her own language, based on compounds of the words she knows.

Whales are vocal learners, as opposed to primates who learn by watching other primates  Their songs are some of the most complicated forms of communication.  A single song can be anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour and, like our songs, consist of repeated phrases and themes.  There are more than 30 sound types that can be recognized, within the repertoire, which include such things as grunts, shrieks, etc.  They record the sounds and chart them and over years are able to make some sense--they think--of them. The important thing is that they recognize the sounds, and communicate that way.  (Whoever said that "dumb animals" have no language?)

Only the males do the singing and the scientists decided to try to map them.  There are tens of thousands of whales living in separate groups and they were able to arrange the songs into types like the blue song type or the red song type

It ended up being like a game of "telephone" where a song originated in, say, Australia in one year and the next year it had moved on to the next island group, while Australia group was singing a different song.  The original song then moves on to the next island group and the second group takes up the new song from Australia until over several years all groups in all locations sing the same songs, just not at the same time.

This kind of stuff is endlessly fascinating to me (and I never even got to bats, spiders, birds, dolphins and mice). Needless to say, it did not put me to sleep.  The most amazing thing I learned was Zipf's law, which is so complicated I can't begin to explain it, but if you're interested, check Wikipedia.  It's described as  an empirical law formulated using mathematical statistics that refers to the fact that many types of data studied in the physical and social sciences can be approximated with a Zipfian distribution, one of a family of related discrete power law probability distributions. Zipf distribution is related to the zeta distribution, but is not identical.  Yeah a mouthful, but if you are able to make your way through the math of it all, it's fascinating to learn that our human language has the exact same structure as that of animals.

But for sleep, I had to turn on the news and find out what outrageous things our glorious leader had done or said today.  I don't know where that would all be on a map scale of language, but it did finally knock me out.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

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 from Care Bears

What never fails to cheer you up?
An NCIS marathon, believe it or not.

Which friend do you have the most in common with?
Char.  We have been friends for 60 years and while we have differing likes and dislikes, mostly we are in sync most of the time.

One thing that never fails to anger you?
The actions of the Trump administration.

Favorite way to spend a sunny day?
I wish I could say something healthy like going out and enjoying the weather, and doing all sorts of fun stuff, but really I prefer to spend the time inside.

Create a fortune cookie note based on your week.
Confucius says double check your calendar before heading to an event.

Favorite way to exercise?
Exercise?  Excuse me, but what is that?

Favorite thing about your best friend?
We have the same sense of humor, based on our experiences of 60 years

What kind of things do you like to create?
Interesting new recipes, Swap bot journals, writing Funny the World.

What languages would you like to learn?
I know a smattering of French and Portuguese (less now than 20 years ago) but would like to speak Spanish, which would be helpful, living in California.

A topic you’re really knowledgeable about?
The history of the Lamplighters music theater.  Everything else I think I might be knowledgeable about, sure as shootin' someone will point out where I have my facts wrong.

When do you feel you look your best?
About a week after I have my hair cut.

What types of music do you like to listen to?
I used to listen to music a lot, but rarely do any more.  When I do it's generally show tunes, John Denver, or older classical music (the 3 Bs and their ilk).

Something that leaves you completely in awe?
Oh so many things.  A gorgeous sweeping vista, preferably with an ocean attached, an intricate sculpture (thinking of the sculpture at St. George's chapel at Windsor Castle which made a sculpture aficionado of me)... 

(look at all those soft folds of fabric, sculpted in marble)
...a glorious choral work, watching the young contestants on Master Chef Junior

What is your most childish aspect?
Lack of self control.

A time where you had to be really brave?
Following the deaths of each of our kids.

How do you like to keep warm?
Hunkered down under a nice quilt.

What brings out your soft side?
baby anything .... humans, dogs, elephants, etc.

What is your favorite way to treat yourself?
Taking myself out to lunch, either alone or with a friend.

Something you’re proud of about yourself?
I have made a small difference in my part of the world.  No matter what else, I can hang on to that.

Something you don’t care about?
Most current movies, with lots of CGI and endless fights.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Saturday 9

Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!

Saturday 9: Last Night a DJ Saved My Life! (1982)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a girl who is heartbroken about a boy who won't take her calls. Do you screen your calls, deciding to let some go to voicemail? Or do you pick up whenever you possibly can? (We're referring to calls from people you know.) We get more robo calls than anything else, so yes, I screen my calls.  I would say that I don't pick up unless I recognize the number, but sometimes I get calls from Atria about my mother and I never know which number that is.

2) When she was feeling her lowest, she heard a song on the radio that lifted her spirits. What's the last thing you heard on the radio?

The last thing?  I don't listen to the radio a lot, but it was some talking heads program on NPR.

3) This song includes the sound of squeaky wheels, indicating a sudden stop and perhaps a near-miss. Tell us about your most recent traffic mishap.

When parking in a garage, my foot slipped off the brake and onto the gas and I bumped into the chain noticeable effect, though.

4) "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life!" is featured in the 2002 video game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Do you spend much time on video games?

The only game I play on my cell phone is 1001 squares, which I have in 3 different versions for 3 different machines.

5) This week's featured artist, Indeep, was a trio. We've had many groups, some duos and tons of solo artists on Saturday 9, but not many trios. Can you name another popular trio?


6) The last time Indeep performed together was in 1997, at a New Year's Eve show in Paris for French TV. Have you celebrated a holiday in another land? We might have been in England one 4th of July.  Oddly enough nobody celebrated.

7) Britain's Royal Family is in the news this weekend, with attention centered on the nuptials. The Royals made news in 1982, as well. When this song was popular, Michael Fagan gained momentary fame by breaking into Buckingham Palace. He found The Royal Bedroom, where he came face-to-face with the Queen. He reports that Queen Elizabeth sleeps in a nightie that "reached down to her knees." What did you wear to bed last night?

sweat pants and a sweat shirt.

8)  In 1982, you could buy a loaf of white bread for 50¢. Today, the national average price for that loaf of bread is more than $2.50. When you go grocery shopping, do you comparison shop and make purchases at more than one store? Or do you prefer one-stop shopping? Oh definitely one-stop shopping.  Walt will shop in every store in town, if he could.
9) Random question: What's the first famous quote that comes to your mind? "Theater is our lifeline to humanity. Without it, we’d all be Republicans."
- Ken Ludwig

Friday, May 18, 2018


We went to see An American in Paris last night, the final offering of the Touring Broadway season.  Jeri sent a text this morning and asked what I thought (she and Phil saw it in New York).  I wrote back one word:  "spectacular."

Forget any memories you have of the Gene Kelly movie, since this is so different (I ordered it from Amazon and watched it at 4 a.m. this morning), but it's definitely a spectacle with massive projected sets so incredible you sit there wondering "how did they do that?"

We actually had been to the show the previous night too, but didn't see it.  I was shocked when I went to pick up my tickets and discovered there were none for me.  Matt (the publicity guy) and I had exchanged texts and he knew I was coming.

Finally, the woman in charge of the box office, who knew what was going on more than the people working the windows, told me that though this was opening night, the press opening was not until Thursday, so we drove home again and came back last night.  The mistake was almost nice because it gave us two nights to listen to our audio book, since my colleague wasn't riding with us.

Before going to the theater in Sacramento, we stopped by Lamplighter Pizza here in Davis to do our bit for the Pet Assistance League fund-raiser and bought a nice pizza for dinner, with enough left overs for lunch today.

Before That, I went to Atria.  I first had a meeting with the new Life Guidance Director about the "plan of action" for my mother, which doesn't include anything that hasn't happened for the past year.

After our meeting, I went to my mother's apartment and found her napping.  I tried gently waking her, but that didn't work, so I sat there for half an hour wondering if she would wakeup, which she did.  She sat up and I said hello.  She talked with me for a little bit and then said she had to go to the bathroom.  She did and 10 minutes later I went to check on her and found her sitting on the toilet, her pants around her ankles, and reading a magazine.  I talked with her an thought she would be coming back into her room, but 10 minutes later she still had not, so I just left.

I get credit for going for the visit and she won't remember whether I was there or not, so ... whatever.  I was home in time to take a nap before going for pizza.

I am now almost all set for the wedding.  I made clotted cream yesterday (ridiculously easy to do)...

...and will make scones this afternoon.  Maybe that will keep me awake for the ceremony.  Not that I care that much, but its an "event" and something interesting to do.