Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April 19: Jetting Across the Country...

I write this from a hotel room in Boston. Spring hasn't arrived here yet. There are no leaves on trees. And, of course, it is raining.

I am here with Kylie, who managed to score a full ride scholarship at MIT. Kylie looks awfully young to move cross country to this cold New England town. Yet, she is excited and loves the brick buildings and the old architecture.

I sold out another set of values and used "Uber" for the first time. Kylie and I walked past the traditional taxis to the little place that they let the Internet pickups occur. The driver was nice. Yet, I am uncomfortable with the unregulated aspect of this new "share" economy venture.

While driving to the motel, we went past Fenway Park. The lights were blazing. If you love baseball, seeing a game in Fenway Park must be on your bucket list. Oh, I would love to see a game there. I wish the Twins were in town.

The motel is in a nice little neighborhood. The place isn't all that ostentatious, yet there are small restaurants on every block. Quite a variety of food. Kylie and I chose a Sushi place and had a nice meal while watching five Japanese Sushi chefs make their wares. Going small must be back in vogue, as there are more solo, artisan restaurants than there are chains---at least in this neighborhood. The exception being Dunkin Donuts---they are everywhere. We got a couple donuts for dessert.

We had a great pizza in Dulles airport on the way here. Kylie called it the "best pizza" she has ever had. Kudos to Dulles International for providing great chow to travelers. Even if the airport is named after the Imperialistic Dulles brothers who overturned popularly elected regimes in Iran and Guatemala----an error that we have still to recover from.

Tomorrow a visit to MIT and perhaps a walk across the bridge that divides MIT and Harvard.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

April 9: Staying Home

Steps: 12,505

Sometimes you just want to stay home. Which is what I did. I've been trying to find a housekeeper. I also splurged and have found a Handyman (spouse of the Housekeeper) to help me with tasks around here that I just don't have time to deal with. Like going to the dump.

I work so much, I hate spending my days off cleaning and all those other necessary, but time consuming tasks. When you live in a Mud Hut, on a Dirt Road, things get a bit dusty.

So my Handyman started Weed Whacking for me today. Tomorrow he will take a load of some of the junk we've accumulated here for the past ten years, to the dump.

And I've gone through 3 cords of wood this winter. As George sang: "It's been a long, cold, lonely winter". It has been. I've only gone through 1 1/2 cords on average in the previous nine winters that I've lived here. Tomorrow I will have a couple more cords of oak delivered.

It was a day of Puttering. Cleaning up the yard. Taking Angel for a walk.

A new goal: A three mile walk with Angel most mornings.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

April 8: The Past Two Months...

Steps: 15,478

Book: "Wolfer" by Carter Niemeyer.

Well those two months went fast. So what happened? I got inundated with work and I just couldn't justify taking time to pluck out words here when I couldn't get my work done. Hopefully, I will have a bit more time to get back to the journal as I changed my work arrangement. I now will spend two days in the field, followed by a day of charting, then two days in the field again. So far this is working; my Supervisors like it that I am getting my charting done on time. And I seem to have more time for other pursuits. Time management, I guess.

The photo above is from Sedona, Arizona with me standing in front of the Grandfather Tree. A wise tree, I'm told. A Healer Guru told me and my traveling partner about it. We checked it out. The Healer Guru is the normal kind of Trustfunder, expensive, Semi-Charlatan--selling healing techniques designed to pretty much heal all of life's maladies (at $1,500 a piece to have the honor to sit in a room and listen to the guy talk about Chakras and Synchronicity). Except the poor guy was in pain from a bad back. I guess he couldn't heal himself.

My Guru (Jesus) was a homeless, impoverished radical. I don't know why Enlightenment costs so much in the US. Maybe because all these New Age Gurus are Charlatans?

So what's happened to me in the last two months?

On February 13 to February 20, I took a vacation to Sedona, Arizona.
On February 27, I had to bury my favorite dog. (more on that later)
On March 7, I turned 56.
On March 14, Kylie was accepted into MIT. (Full scholarship: room, board, tuition, books---$64,000 deal)
Amongst other stuff. (Very personal).

I also accepted a writing assignment for the CNR I am excited about.

I have been miserably unhappy just working 7 days a week. I haven't had time to walk. No time to train. Barely anytime to read.

I also think having Trump as a President has affected me. I am worried about all our measly gains under Obama---especially Obamacare--- being extinguished. I also worry that the Hamster Headed Narcissist will do something dumb. Like bomb the Russians and Assad.

Anyway, I am back. Hello. Let's get started.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February 7 and 8:


Feb 7: 6,171
Feb 8: 5,968

I am stuck in a pattern where I have too much work to do. Too much travel to do. Too much rain. And never enough time just to take a walk. The dogs are neglected. I am neglected. I don't like this.

Monday, February 6, 2017

February 6: Super 8

Mount Shasta over the bed in my room at the Super 8.
Steps: 6,814

Activity: None

Most Monday nights you can find me at a Super 8 motel room in Corning. Usually room 104. I started staying here because I have an early morning meeting every Tuesday and I found that I got overly tired when I got up early to drive the hour and fifteen minute it takes to get to Corning. Too much time in the car. It's how I take care of myself.

When you have Meniere's Disease, and you want to avoid a vertigo attack, you have to pay attention to what I call the Three S's: Sleep, Stress, Salt. Get sleep. Reduce stress. Reduce Salt. It seems to be working because I have gone a year now with just one vertigo attack: May 28, 2016 was my last one--and it was very mild. The last one before that was on January 28, 2016. Prior to that one, I would have them nearly weekly---and I strongly considered going on disability.

Today was a day where I felt like I could have a vertigo attack. I felt overly tired all day long----and it has been a long, long time since I last felt that way. So I took it easy, caught up on my charting, didn't see any clients, and drove to Corning to the motel in order to take a nap.

Now Corning isn't Napa Valley. There is an olive tasting room here (actually a couple of them)---and the town boasts an olive oil factory. I am ashamed to say that I've never tried any of the local olives. I need to remedy that. I will write a review. Olives generally are not a part of a low salt diet---but just like a diabetic has to live a little and not be totally pietistic, the same goes for a low salt diet.

I have lots to do over the next work week. Next week I will be on vacation.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

February 5: Super Bowl and the Coyote Deity

Coyote as deity.

Steps: 9,508

Activity: Hike with dogs; clean up of yard.

The rain stopped just long enough for the dogs and I to steal a walk. Afterwards, some yard work and clean up---before I settled in to watch the Super Bowl. I wasn't going to because Tom Brady and the head coach of the Patriots are Trump supporters. But in the end, the TV won out and I had a better than expected time watching the game. The commercials were fun. Lady GaGa, despite my hatred of dance music and canned lip sync music, was entertaining. And even a little bit clandestinely political as she sang "America the Beautiful" followed by Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land". Protestors have been singing Woody Guthrie's classic at all the marches and rallies. LG gave those folks a nod.

And so a weekend closes where I didn't leave the property. It is hard to get in the car on my days off, spending so much time in the car during the week. This will be an intense week before I take some vacation time and travel to Sedona to meet L. It is supposed to rain until Friday. Rain the whole week with the worst of it coming in the next two days.

And from Dan Flores' Coyote America he asserts that the oldest deity in the world which actually has in tact stories connected to said Deity is the Coyote. Some of the American Coyote stories that so infuse Native American myth are 10,000 years old. The Coyote was a deity for them. Flores asserts that the Native Americans lifted the coyote to deity status due to its ability to survive a rapidly warming world after the close of the Ice Age. As the Natives killed off the mega fauna of the time (along with climate change) Flores states that they looked to, and admired, the coyote's ability to survive.

So roll over Jehovah, Yahweh, Shiva, Krishna, and all the other deities. The oldest god is Coyote  with an oral tradition attached to the clever canine that extends back to the end of the last Ice Age.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

February 1 to 4: Rain and More Rain.


February 1: 10,025
February 2:  6,700
February 3:  7,939
February 4:  3,342

Activity: Almost none.

Book: Coyote America

We are in February, in the midst of yet another rain storm, and all I do is work. The poor dogs haven't had a walk in days. On top of all of that, I managed to burn my arm pretty badly on the wood stove and I have "Dry Socket" from a tooth that was pulled.

Donald Trump is in a frenzy to try and undue almost everything decent that has been accomplished over the last 8 years.

And so today, Saturday, I haven't done a darned thing but look at old You Tube videos of Charles Bowden. Bowden was an amazing story teller who covered both nature and the horrible situation on the border of Mexico. He passed away a couple years ago and we lost an original voice of reason.

The only good news to report is that the squirrel in the photo finally found the squirrel feeder I set up for him. This squirrel has been raiding my bird feeder for years. He/She loves sunflower seeds. So I set up a feeder for him/her outside the fence so that he/she doesn't have to run the gauntlet of dogs anymore. I hope he grows fat and happy. Now I can watch a bird feeder from my desk and also the squirrel feeder.

At the bird feeder there has been a pair of Western Orioles. I've never seen them at the feeder before so it is nice to add a new bird to my "life list". The feeders are picking up; the lesser Goldfinches are back from wherever they ran off to when I ran out of thistle a month ago. Various other birds are back too: towhees, titmouse, nuthatches, and the ever present house finches.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 30 and 31: Dry Socket...

A work Christmas Party in 1995. Good friends.
January 30 Steps:11,686
January 31 Steps   6,276

Spent the day on Monday charting and visiting just one client. Today, off to Corning, and then a visit with a client. However, the pain from my tooth that was extracted became unbearable. It felt like someone was hammering a nail into the jaw where my tooth had been. A trip to my dentist and a diagnosis of "dry socket". I was given a decent topical anesthetic paste to put on the affected area. I am told that the "dry socket" pain can last for two weeks while the area heals.

I sure hope it isn't two weeks.

And in Trumplandia? A Supreme Court appointee tonight to replace Scalia. My Congressman came out quickly with a  statement in support of the new nominee. Doug LaMalfa is proud that Trump picked a person who will follow the Constitution. This is what I wrote to Doug:

"You guys didn't follow the Constitution when you refused to even have hearings on Obama's pick. I am hoping that the Dems will find a way to reciprocate for your party's obstruction of the Constitution"


Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 29: Hot Water and Sheds...

The pins indicate cities I have lived in for more than 6 months. Calistoga doesn't show up very well.
Steps: 14,114

Activity: Working on the shed.

Book: Coyote America

For the past few weeks, my hot water heater hasn't been working. The water would only get tepid. It is cold to take a shower and I needed to heat water on the stove to wash dishes. (I don't have a dishwasher nor a microwave.)

And so I called the expensive, but always reliable, plumbers from Earl's Plumbing. They have a fleet of Red Trucks that I see all over the place. I've been told they have around 25 of them. And so the Plumber came out and he said that we could order a new regulator for $500 but it might not be heating due to sediment in the heater; or I could just buy a new one for $1,400. Which is what I did.

Plus I had him do some other work, making it a $2,000 day. There goes my financial cushion.

I did some charting and then set about finishing cleaning out the shed. Ten years of stuff is in there. A walk down memory lane. Downsizing is tough on you emotionally. The treasured objects take you back in time. There were protest signs and old homework from the girls. Fish bowls and old cages from Kylie and Jazmine's pet mice. There were four tents in there and various kinds of shade structures. All of them ruined with holes and poor upkeep. I had enough tent poles in there to build the Keystone Pipeline. All of it to be hauled off to the dump after admiring and being taken back to the days that we used them. Camping on the Pacific Ocean as a family. Camping at California State Parks with the girls.

Life was social then. Chaotic. And I loved it. Now Kylie is here a few nights a week. And I have the dogs to keep me company. Joni is living in our trailer down in Oroville. I am a man who likes having a family that can't seem to keep having a family intact. God, I miss the everyday hum-drum stuff. Keeping schedules and school events and dentist appointments and doctor appointments and homework and all those other extraordinary ordinary things that we all should cherish and savor like a wine that has an extra long finish. Perhaps it was losing my first family (through no fault of my own) that made me cherish this new family all the more. And I did that. Memories. It's what we sit and do when we get old.

And yet it is important to make new memories too. To have new adventures. Meet new people. Re-establish connections with old friends and family. Read new books and be challenged by new ideas.


I miss the life I had.

January 28: Sheds, Trump and Meniere's..

The wildlife cam caught me carrying some stuff to the bus.

Steps: 20,318

Activity: Hike with dogs; cleaning out shed.

Book: Coyote America by Dan Flores
A glorious day today. Slept in. And then did nothing but work on the house, cleaning, reorganizing, and then tackled the shed.

I have an old shed close to the house. Let's just say that no-one could enter the shed anymore due to it being full of stuff. Garbage, recycling, tools strewn about. It was quite nostalgic to move the stuff out of the shed into piles. You know, keep piles; throw away piles. Lots of memories in that shed. Lots.

Of course, it makes me miss J. when I go through the years worth of stuff. Dolls that the girls played with; tents----three tents and various shelters in dilapidated condition that I threw away. Tents from when we took the girls camping. I found a CalMart bag from when we lived in Calistoga, California---from 2003 to 2008. I think those Calistoga years are amongst my favorite years that I've had. They all have been fun----but you just couldn't beat Calistoga and the Napa Valley.

And here is more proof in the20,000 steps I took today, that if I actually didn't have to work for a living, the house would be finished, the place would be tidy, and I would be thin.

Trump continues to make an ass of himself. Yesterday he put out an Executive Order that, in effect, is a Muslim ban. After thousands showed up at airports---and a 5 year old kid was detained---a judge put a stay on the order. The right wing used to say that Obama acted like an emperor with his Executive Orders. Well, Trump has put out a couple everyday since becoming President. He doesn't want to legislate: He wants to dictate!

 I am heartened at the backlash to his over-reach.

And a breakthrough. On January 28, 2016 I had a vertigo spin from my Meniere's Disease. I had another one on May 28, 2016. That means in the last year, I have had only one spin. This is important to me, because 13 or 14 months ago, I was having so much vertigo, I thought I would have to stop working.

So what worked? HCTZ for a med, a low salt diet, very little caffeine and almost no alcohol. I also try and get 8 hours of sleep and I work hard on reducing my stress. This seems to work (as I keep my fingers crossed).

Friday, January 27, 2017

January 27: Good Bye Tooth #18.

Old dentist equipment similar to when I was a kid.

Steps: 4,958

Activity: None

Book: Coyote America by Dan Flores

Another one of those horrid, awful days where I was unable to take a hike. Saw a client this morning and then off to the Dentist (oral surgeon) where I had my second (and hopefully last) tooth pulled. I lost my 12 year old molar, tooth #18, which gave me 44 years of valiant service before succumbing to a crack. Not fixable, so out it goes.

I went to the Dentist exactly twice between ages of 18 and 55. A dental phobia due to all my fillings having been done without Novocain. Dentistry has changed since those barbarous years, but, well, people aren't rational.

So after having the beast removed, I was under the directions to go home and rest for a day. Gonna jump on that one when I can.

Finally finished E.O. Wilson's Half Earth. I am all for the idea. In fact, I used to dream about such an arrangement back in high school. Wilson makes the argument that in order to save the millions of species (and he figures around 6 million haven't been discovered yet; with two million having been discovered). The book jacket claims it is a "how to" but really, it is more of a "this is why we have to" sort of book.

Can we really set aside half the Earth? Wilson seems overly optimistic when he states that technology makes things smaller and smaller, so that even with 10 billion on the planet by 2100, our footprints will be less. Seriously?

No. We still design cities poorly; and humans live where the habitat is best. For example, northern Nevada has about one decent river. Most of the space by that river is increasingly being taken up by housing. The critters are pushed out. I watched the houses and sprawl go up around Reno, especially around the Truckee River, and it broke my heart knowing that migration patterns of deer would be damaged forever.

Morally, we need to set aside half the Earth. A worthy pursuit for the rest of my life.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January 25 and 26: These Sorts of Days I Need to Change...

This is the airport in Poland where extraordinary rendition prisoners were sent to be tortured in a nearby secret prison.

January 25. Steps: 6,337
January 26. Steps: 3,743

Activity: Absolutely None.

Book: Half-Earth..

I have way too many days like the past two days. Early morning appointments kept me from walking the dogs. A tight schedule kept me from getting any exercise. And I got home after dark both days. These are the sorts of days that leave me feeling totally unfulfilled and frightened for my health from lack of exercise. Leaving before 7 in the morning and getting home at 7 at night does not make me happy. And on top of that? I haven't charted a word of any of my visits.

The dogs don't like it much either, as they haven't had a good run for two days.

Perhaps when the days get longer I will be able to take the dogs out for a walk when I get home late. These short winter days where work takes up most of the lit portion, deeply disturb my sense of well-being.

And then there is Trump. Acting like an Emperor. Racist. He wants to bring back torture and "Black Sites" (prisons in other countries where torture was conducted by the CIA. Even the good things he talks about, like bringing back Tariffs, although he calls them taxes (and since when did the word "Tax" become more popular than the word "Tariff"?), he couches it by hatred of Mexico rather than placing the blame squarely on the immoral CEO's who make such decisions, and the politicians that made it possible.

I have no problem with Ford and GM building a factory in Mexico; just let them sell their product there.

Tomorrow I have an easy day. Finally, I will get a walk in with the dogs. But I also will say goodbye to my Tooth #18. My 12 year old Molar put up a good fight for 44 years. But alas, she is cracked beyond repair and needs to be yanked. However, for not having gone to a dentist for 30 plus years-- losing 2 teeth, having one cavity, one root canal and three crowns really isn't that bad. At least I still have teeth---and the ones I have left should carry me to the grave.

Why no dental checkups? Because all my fillings were done sans Novocain back in the medieval period. There were 2 dentists in the town where I grew up. One used pain killing Novocain; one didn't. The one that didn't was quite a bit cheaper than the one that did. Guess which one my parents sent me to? Trump's recent decision to investigate using torture again pales next to that decision to send a 10 year old kid to have fillings done by a dentist who didn't use Novocain.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24: The Greens and Trump

Steps: 8,081

Activity: Just work stuff.

Book: "Half Earth"

Awake early in my motel room, I peruse the news only to find that Trump is starting to act like an Emperor. I quickly wrote in Facebook:

"For the starry eyed Greens who think there is no difference between the parties: We now have a Secretary of State that was the CEO of Exxon and Trump is signing an executive order today giving permission for both the Keystone Pipeline and the Standing Rock Dakota Access pipeline to be built. How do you feel about that Jill Stein vote now?"

Pamm Larry, who pretty much founded the Anti-GMO movement in California.

This generated a bit of bickering amongst my Leftist friends. One response stood out. Pamm Larry is a local hero. She started the California Petition drive to label GMO foods. She's a great human being, but tends towards Crackpot Granolaism in other ventures. She is against vaccines. Against SB277. And she was/is a Jill Stein supporter. She wrote back regarding her support of Jill Stein:

"Pretty happy, actually, thanks for asking. And yes, I see them as still the same, just one is overt the other covert, different faces and issues. At least now more people are awake and acting. None of this marching and conversation would be going on in the fog of progressives thinking everything was ok, going back to sleep because they think everything is "covered.". There were plenty of other pipelines Obama advanced and did nothing about. That's on the record. I blame the dem party for Trump. How can they offer up such an unelectable candidate then not do Basic Campaigning 101? Bernie supporters begged the party to work for her in MI, WI and PA and the party ignored them and were ignored. And I'm not getting into it with you, Alan, because like so many progressives I run into, I experience your "discourse" blamey (this post is an example of that) rude and condescending, not productive. I say this in the hopes that it shifts so we can all unite to get the work done of the havoc he will reap on the planet. Peace out. "

To which I replied:

"Hogwash. To equate Trump with Clinton is lunacy. I'm all for issue driven, interest group politics---and I appreciate your efforts to label GMO foods, but the ONLY vehicle for real change is the Democratic Party. Hell, Petra Kelly told me as much back in 1983 when I asked her if we would ever have a Green Party arise in the US. She just laughed and said: "You'll be lucky to avoid Fascism". Well, guess what? She was right. Trump is an unstable, narcissistic, mentally ill man whose small hands and authoritarian world-view are now firmly attached to the Nuclear Codes. That scares the shit out of me. Why that didn't scare you during the campaign leaves me totally bewildered."

This Trump Era is off to an awful start.

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 23: Snowflakes...

Steps: 12,220

Activity: Walk with the dogs

Book: "Half Earth"

Took the dogs on a walk on a cold, cold morning. Up early, I watched the sunrise and had the dogs out by 7:30. There was snow on the hills. Worked all day, seeing clients in Oroville, Orland and Corning and driving around 150 miles. As is my custom, I spend most Monday nights in a Super 8 in Corning as I have an early meeting on Tuesday and, getting old, I just don't see it being wise to push myself too hard by getting up before dawn to drive 62 miles.

I am getting kind of sick of being called a "Snowflake". I happened to hear Hannity use the word today. I've heard the always awful Tomi Lahren use it. Engage in any forum on the Internet and somebody will think they are oh-so-clever and will fling the word at you. It is the political equivalent of being called "pumpkin". Demeaning as hell. So who coined this term? And what's the reason for its popularity on the other side of the aisle?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 22: Bees Wax in the Kitchen

The cement counter before the Bees Wax.
Steps: 11,915

Activity: Hike with dogs; Beeswaxed counter; general pick up on property.

Weight: Unmentionable.

Book: Half Earth (interminable)

I'm pretty sure that if I didn't have to work, I would be thin, the house would be done, the property would be awesome; I'd go to bed tired every night from exertion; I'd have hiked most everywhere; I'd be reading more, better educated, smarter; I'd be writing more, taking chances, having fun.

But I have to work.

Still this was a very productive weekend. I am happy. Yes, only dogs for companions, but they are good company and like to do things with me. They also don't complain that my handiwork is sloppy.

Today I managed to get most of the concrete counter covered with Beeswax. In order to have the counter be "Food Safe" one thing you can do is cover it with melted Beeswax. However, there are no videos that I could find on You Tube as to how to do such a thing. So I winged it (like many things I do in my life). You do have to be careful when melting the Beeswax, because if the temperature goes over 170, the wax can ignite. Instructions on how to melt Beeswax mentioned explosions and gas lines compromised and the like.

So I stood over the melting process and used a thermometer. When the temperature hit 155, I'd spread that wax. I didn't quite have enough wax to finish the project; I'll do that next weekend or maybe during the evening after work.

After the Bees Wax.

Another view.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 21: Bat Houses

Bat House #2
Steps: 14,386

Activity: Hike with the dogs. Housework. Bat Boxes.

Weight: Don't ask.

Book: Half Earth (still)

Slept in this morning. Kylie and I hung out a bit together before she had to go to dance. I had plans on seeing a couple of patients today---but that all evaporated when I took the dogs for a walk. After all, I do have this New Year's Resolution to not work weekends. Might as well keep it.

And so I did a project that I have been meaning to do for years: I put up Bat Houses.

I have a problems with bats. They like to crawl into a place in the wall and hang out in the winter. I have discovered that peppermint is absolutely hated by bats, so I tack up a bit of that and it drives them away. When they are living up in the ceiling, it is a bit creepy to listen to them squeak and scratch around up there. It is worse for Kylie because I have lost some hearing in the upper registers, so I don't hear them as much. They tend to just winter up there (the loafers taking advantage of the free heat from the wood stove). In the summer, they must find a place that has air conditioning.

The peppermint works for a few months, but it wears off and they return. Today I put up four Bat Houses, tacked to trees, with the hopes the bats will find that a bit more homey. The species of bat is actually called "Little Brown Bats" (LBB). Seriously.

Bats are very helpful. In the summer, you rarely see a bug anywhere, and it is fun to watch the LBB's fly with their acrobatic precision. And we all know that bats are in steep decline due to an illness that is characterized by a "white nose". Bat mortality rates are frightenly high, to the point that scientists are worried about losing several species to extinction. I consulted the American Bat Society, and they recommended that the bat houses be, at least, 10 feet high. 20 feet is optimal. Being scared of heights, I decided that 10 feet is fine for my LBB's.

Hope it works.

Kylie and I watched the Woman's March on CSpan today. What an inspiring spectacle! 500,000 marchers. Millions in the US turned out in hundreds of cities, world wide, to protest the Inauguration of the Shithead. Good. I took a pass on this protest. I have a feeling there will be further opportunities to express displeasure with the OverCombed One.

Friday, January 20, 2017

January 20: Descent into Barbarism

Obama 2009 on left; Trump 2017 on the right.

Steps: 6,926

Activity: Walked around the Chico Mall. Did you know you can't buy a CD at malls these days? Clothes and phones, that's all they sell at the Chico Mall.

Book: Half Earth by E.O. Wilson

Trump is President. Abandon all hope.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

January 18 and January 19: The Final Days of Obama...

January 18 Steps: 4,059
January 19 Steps: 8,365

Activity: Nothing but work.

Weight: Too much (couldn't pass up Sierra Nevada earlier in the week and ribs yesterday)

Book: Half Earth by E.O. Wilson (still)

The rain returned on Wednesday with a fury. Winds battering the house. Again, visiting clients in the soaking wet rain. Been a busy week in the client department.

But mostly this week is bittersweet as we move from the fairly decent (but still a Neo-Liberal) Obama to the Nationalistic and openly Fascistic Donald Trump. Just the sight of the man makes me wretch. And as I watched some of his speeches today, I am just amazed at the utter stupidity of the American People to elect this narcissistic piece of shit. This is a tremendously ill man and the American People voted for him to have the nuclear codes!

Well, not all of the American People. Clinton won the popular vote by 2.8 million votes. And the election was decided by 75,000 people in three states: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania. Voter suppression alone won Wisconsin with approximately 300,000 African Americans in that state not allowed to vote because they had no Identification. Pennsylvania and Michigan were lost because Clinton underestimated the anger of the Rust Belt.

I don't know if it is a good idea to read a book about extinction just prior to Donald Trump taking power. Tomorrow it is the end of the world as we know it. Resist!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January 15, 16,17: AllanStock.

Some unknown mushrooms from a hike on Sunday. Wish I knew if they were edible.


January 15: 12,352
January 16:   5,381
January 17:   5,777

Weight: Unknown (been out of town).

Activity:  Lots of work on the house on January 15 (Sunday), in the glorious sun. Jan 16 and 17 were work days where I didn't get a chance to do much. Took Kylie and her boyfriend out to dinner at Sierra Nevada and we did the whole thing the way it should be done: appetizers, steaks, and a couple of desserts. Fun.

Book: Half Earth by Edward Wilson (keep falling asleep)

While working on getting stuff cleaned up and organized on the house on Sunday, I suddenly had the urge to try and get this project finished. So I made a goal: I will have this house finished (although is it ever really finished?) by June 24, 2018. I bought the house in 2007, and we moved up here in June of 2008. 2018 will be the 10th Anniversary of living here for me.

This sounds like the perfect way to avoid hearing, seeing, reading, knowing anything about Trump's New America.

So the goal is to have a party when it is finished. Invite all my old friends to spend a week up here on the property camping out and having a good time. Call it "AllanStock". 

But I am busy, so off to bed I go. Three more days until Trump takes over.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

January 14: The Art of Puttering...

Steps: 14,407

Activity: Puttering inside and outside of the house.

Weight: Forgot to step on the scale. (Let's not let this become a habit).

Book: Half Earth by E. O. Wilson.

A quick trip to Chico to see some patients, and then back up to the Mud Hut to enjoy the sunny day. The dogs, of course, wanted a hike, but I was having too much fun puttering to head on out. Puttering, meaning, starting a project, get distracted, move on to another project, get distracted, start another project, get distracted, and so on.

I carried wood, started to clean out the shed, reorganized the kindling pile, raked the back of the house, swept the living room and bedroom floors, washed tons of piled up dishes, tackled the "junk" closet where everything gets thrown that is too special to throw away but not special enough to keep; I worked on the picnic table, reorganized the garbage, listened to stacks of CD's to see if they had skips or not; I finally took the awning down from the deck that should have been removed months ago; I cleaned the deck; I reorganized book shelves---coming up with a "books-to-be-read pile".

In short, a day of puttering. I come from a long line of Putterers. My dad was a putterer. My grandpa was a putterer. And today, I figured out that I am one too. It's in my genes.

Oh, the joy of puttering! Nesting. Hopefully, a sign of Spring.

And while working on one of the projects, I watched a speech given by Edward Wilson at Berkeley regarding the book I am reading right now. If you have an hour to spare (who does?), it's an interesting presentation by a legendary biologist.

Friday, January 13, 2017

January 13: The Travels of a Home Health Nurse

The fence where I often turn around.
Steps: 8,351

Activity: Small loop with the dogs.

Book: Half Earth by Edward Wilson

Weight: 3.9 pounds lost since the New Year.

I stayed up too late reading Half Earth, plus it was cold (57 in the house this morning), so I didn't get my ambitious start of the day. A quick walk on the short loop with the dogs (a little over a mile) and then off to see patients. I drove to Chico (32 miles), Oroville (23 miles), and then up to Paradise (20 miles) before ending my circuit at home (18 miles). That's a pretty easy day driving as my territory is as large as some states in New England.

At least it stopped raining today. We get a couple days of sun before the clouds and rain returns. I hate working Home Health in the rain. Drive in rain; out of car to see patient; back to car in rain, repeat five or six times. Your feet end up being soaked and it is always uncomfortable to enter a client's house when you are soaked to the bone.

But alas, it is Friday. One of my New Year's Resolutions was to not see any patients on a Saturday. We have had two Saturdays so far and I'm going to break the Resolution on both of them. I will have to see a couple in Chico tomorrow. In Home Health, you aren't paid by the hour. You are paid a set price per visit and also the type of visit (start of care, evaluation, recertification, etc). So if you don't see patients, you don't get paid. It's not like at the hospital, where I'd be in the Emergency Room and I'd get paid the same whether I saw 8 patients or none.

In many ways, Home Health is much harder on a person. The travel is hard. The unpredictability of the visits is hard. The working by the visit is hard. It is a lonely job that doesn't offer much in camaraderie with your coworkers. And when you get hungry? There is always the temptation of the drive thru. Sometimes you do it just to have some interaction with someone who isn't a client. The hours of charting is harder than working in a hospital. And the pay is much lower. Anything I do outside of a visit, like receiving a phone call from a doctor, or talking to a family member, is unpaid. I often say that working Home Health is more of a calling than a paid profession. A friend of mine told me before I started this job that it is hard to make a living in Home Health. That's true. It takes a toll. Just the hours of driving and sitting take a toll.

So why do it? The autonomy and freedom to organize my own day is great. And Home Health tends to be a "Sunset" job for nurses who are tired of working in higher stress environments. That's why I do it; I intend to retire as a Home Health Nurse.

Despite working tomorrow, I plan on getting a longer, more strenuous hike in with the dogs. Gotta get ready for hiking the Red Rocks of Sedona.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

January 12: Into the Ditch...

Steps: 17,146

Activity: Morning hike with the dogs. Stacking wood and various yard work.

Weight: Down 3.7 pounds since the New Year.

Book: Half Earth: Our Planets Fight for Life by Edward Wilson

Up early this morning, things seemed rather hopeful. I had my weekly conference call with all the Behavioral Health Nurses on the West Coast in my company. Then the dogs and I took a long hike, extending our range ever further. Got ready for work and left only to encounter a phone company truck putting up a telephone pole (and hurray for those who still have land lines!). The truck had the road blocked, and it looked like it would be a half hour or longer before they would be done. So I decided to back up down the road and go home until the telephone work was done.

I'm not sure how I did it, but I managed to back into the ditch. The photo above doesn't quite capture just how bad it was. So I called AAA. Waited in the rain (it's been raining for weeks now). By the time the tow truck arrived and we got the car out of the mud, I was soaked, cold, miserable, and muddy. I drove the car to Chico just to make sure there wasn't any damage, mud and rocks falling-out from underneath the car as I drove. I had a mechanic friend make sure there wasn't any damage.

And that was my day. I didn't see any clients. This hasn't been one of my most productive weeks, work wise.

And on the world front? The Republicans seem hell bent on tossing 25 million people off of health insurance. I don't think they quite realize how much the economy is based on health care. Cutting health care now will stagnate the economy and toss us into a recession. Our economy is dependent upon health care (17% of GDP) which is now one of the biggest sectors. My hometown of Rushford used to be dependent upon a factory. That factory closed so now the town is dependent upon being a bedroom community---as many people drive to their jobs in healthcare in Rochester, Lacrosse, Winona. Nobody talks about the economic effects of doing away with Obamacare. Well, they are huge. My job is dependent upon it. Any decrease in healthcare spending will be fatal in more ways than one: People will die; the economy will tank. It is as simple as that.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January 11: An Invitation from L.

Angel enjoying a sniff on another gray, cloudy, rainy day.

Steps: 10,481

Activity: Hike with the dogs. Extended beyond the loop, beyond to the gate and back.

Book: Half Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life by Edward Wilson

I was awake before Kylie and saw her off to school. Then out with the dogs for a longish hike before work. The dogs like this morning routine and they look forward to it nearly as much as I do. After the hike, it was off to Paradise and Chico to see patients. A frustrating day, as I had a hard time tracking down clients.

And then L. called. She invited me to hang out with her in Sedona in February for a week. She is taking a class on some sort of healing thing which takes up her mornings, leaving afternoons available to hike and play. "I'll provide the room and you take me out to dinner", she said. Not a bad deal.

As you can see from the photo above, it has been raining forever here. I've been thinking about taking a week to go see what the sun actually looks like. This gives me the opportunity to do so.

Once again I find myself in that position where I have a hiking trip planned and I'm not in the best shape for it. So it is crash program time. We start tomorrow. The goal is to lose 20 pounds in a month.

I finished Jim Harrison's book on food essays last night. Sometimes essays are difficult to read all the way through in a few sittings. That's true of Harrison. This is a book to pick up once and awhile and enjoy a few pages of decent prose. Harrison is earthy. A hunter. He pooh poos American wines and mostly lists European varieties of grapes that I've never heard of. But then again, Europe has been making wine for thousands of years; Napa has been only working at it for fifty.

On to Edward Wilson.

And tomorrow, a step on the scale and the beginning of a crash exercise program so that I can keep up with L.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

January 10: The Storm and Why the Left Should be Proud of Obama.

Steps: 6,449

Activity: None.

Book: Jim Harrison's The Raw and the Cooked

Normally I spend Monday night in Corning, California in the Super 8 there. The reason is that I have an early morning meeting in Corning every Tuesday and I hate driving an hour and fifteen minutes to get there. Especially in the winter when it is dark when I leave and the roads are often wet and slippery. I am older now, and staying in Corning is one of those things I do in order not to get totally exhausted. It is 62 miles from the Mud Hut to the Home Health office in Corning.

Last night I decided the weather was too yucky to drive to Corning so I got up this morning and made the trip. In the rain. After the meeting I drove the 32 miles to the Chico office in order to be able to concentrate and get some work done. Then an attempted client visit, a trip to Costco, a trip to Tractor Supply to buy some real rain gear (I am sick of being cooped up in the rain, and in the tradition of "There is no bad weather, only bad clothes"---I went and bought real rain gear.).

Then I drove home in one of the fiercest storms I have encountered in California. My poor valiant little Yaris was tossed about on the highway by the 50 mph gusts. So I drove around 150 miles today without much to show for it but decent rain gear.

The local coyotes are yipping as I type these words.

Watched Obama's farewell speech. I think we all are going to miss the guy. Yes, I know that many on the Left are critical of him for his 26,000 bombs he dropped last year. They hate his coziness to Wall Street and his abandonment of Single Payer. Sure.

What these Leftists don't understand is that Obama stretched the playing field whereby we can even use the term: "Liberal" and "Progressive" without hanging our heads in shame. Remember the bad old days when Bill Clinton said the days of big government were over? For years since Reagan, it simply was unacceptable to be a Liberal, let alone a Leftist, in the United States.

No more.

So yes, the Democrats have lost 1,000 seats in State Government, Governors, Congress and the U.S. Senate over the last 8 years. Yes, we are in trouble and there is a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. But think back to the 90's when even Liberals were marginalized, non-existent, let alone somebody to the Left of them.

Obama made it acceptable for a Leftist critique to even be made of him. By bringing up "The Public Option", by taking over GM---remember when my right wing friends called it "Governmental Motors"; by using government to get us out of a nasty recession--Obama expanded the acceptable parameters of political ideology in America. It's still not great, but it is a whole lot better than before Obama took the stage.

For this, we who call ourselves "Leftists" should admire the man. He made us relevant again. Bernie Sanders never would have happened without Obama paving the way, taking back ideological ground.

Monday, January 9, 2017

January 9: Meryl Streep

Steps: 12,007

Activity: Hike with dogs (short loop).

A day where I was up at 5 and was charting for work soon thereafter. Took the dogs for a hike on the short loop and went to Paradise to do laundry. Saw patients all afternoon. Back home to dinner with Kylie and the news of the day with Rachel.

The news of the day? Meryl Streep at the awards last night took Trump to task for mocking a disabled newspaper reporter. Trump, never one to rise above anything, denied through the anorexic KellyAnn Conway, that he was mocking the reporter. And then Trump tweeted about Meryl Streep's lack of acting abilities. Really Donald? Grow up.

Must we endure 4 years of this?

Book: Jim Harrison's The Raw and the Cooked. The way Jim Harrison writes about life, cooking, sex, etc.----you soon see why he passed away at a relatively young age. However, his food writing is entertaining, and so is the character that Harrison creates of himself through out this collection of food essays. Harrison is rowdy, refined, a drunk, a sex fiend, a thinker, and a deeply passionate man. I like people like that.

My favorite line: "How easily we forget that the life overexamined is also not worth living." I agree.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

January 7: Be It Resolved

As many of us do, I came up with a list of "Resolutions" for 2017, the year I will turn 56 years of age. And as in past years, some of the resolutions didn't make it a week. I tend to be overly ambitious with such endeavors. Hell, I tend to be overly ambitious with many ventures in life; from trying to build my own house to attempting to backpack in not-the-greatest-of-shape. Same for the resolutions.

My resolutions take up around four pages of paper, double spaced. They include everything from finances, to health, to work, to my intellectual life. Funny, I guess my social life isn't important to me as it didn't even occur to me to "resolve" something around that.

So how'd I do for the first week? Not so great.

But let's not let a thing like a first week failure in getting 10,000 steps a day at least five days a week impede our progress. So how many days did you get 10,000 steps or more? Three!? In my defense, it has been raining forever. An atmospheric river of water not seen in decades has descended on northern California.

But didn't you have an alternative exercise plan for days when it was raining in your Resolutions? Yes. I was to ride the exercise bike. Did you? No. Room for improvement.

To write about my finances is boring. Let's skip that.

How about the Physical Health part? Well, there is the 10,000 steps a day, recorded on my Fitbit (feel free to friend me). And then there is the resolution to take a long hike every weekend and/or work on this House of Mud I built. Again, the rain...

I resolved to cut down to one Latte' a week. I think I had two last week so we are doing better. And as is my custom, I always have a bagel and cream cheese with that latte'. Nearly everyday. Which resulted in my cholesterol being a bit higher than I wanted it to be. I only had one bagel with cream cheese in the last week. A minor victory!

And then there is that scale thing. Suffice it to say that when I stepped on the nasty bugger on January 1, we set a new record. Breaking into all new territory never experienced by me! I can't even type it out (I do share such information with my son). So how much weight did we lose the first week? One pound.

Again, the rain.

Job Health:

I work home health. The hours required for travel and charting are monstrous. I resolved that I would get up and start my charting at 6 every morning. That I have done with some reasonable success. I also resolved not to fall as far behind in my work. I am better there too. I want all my charting done within 48 hours of the home visit. So far, so good.

Plus I resolved to make my desk more attractive at work.

Intellectual Health

I usually read before bed. I've been doing that since I discovered books in the Third Grade. But lately my reading has been a bit more haphazard and, generally, I fall asleep before getting more than a page or two into the book. Besides, when I'm getting up at 6 to work, I have to be in bed pretty early. Something that doesn't come naturally to me.

I guess one of the resolutions is a bit social: I resolved to write three e-mails a week to one of my smart friends. I wrote two this week.

I also resolved to write everyday. As in a journal or a writing project. Besides the e-mail, it took me until the 7th to sit down and do that. That's part of the purpose of the blog----to write. I have other blogs that I advertised a bit more. You know, had  a Facebook page for it. This journal is mostly for me. You are welcome to read along, if you want. Might be kind of boring.

So anyway, I haven't completed any new books. I did vow to write an Amazon Review about the books I do read. I will start with Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. I read the sucker twice because I couldn't believe how bad it was, I wanted to see if my first impression was correct. It was. You'll have to read the review. (I'll post it here too).


So there it is: the first entry. From the Mud Hut. Angel, Little One, Kylie (half time) and I say Happy New Year! from our Household to Yours. Let's get this journal going!