Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Busting into Bloom

One of our hibiscus plants on the front patio got a taste of water the other day and it responded gratefully and exhuberantly this morning. Normally we get one to three blooms a day, if any. This morning, there were nine fresh blooms on the plant! (Not all visible here.)

On closer examination, the flowers have a strange other-worldly appearance. But I've loved hibiscus blossoms ever since I first saw them in Mazatlan, Mexico, many years ago.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baseball . . . and family

Doug Davis is a pitcher for my Arizona Diamondbacks. Earlier this season, he was taken out of the lineup when it was discovered that he had thyroid cancer. After a relatively short period of treatment following successful surgery, he came back to the team. Tonight, he came close to pitching a perfect game. That's a game where no one from the other team ever reaches base, whether by a hit or a walk. Davis was perfect almost through the 7th inning. He had two outs and two strikes on a third batter when it came apart. But he eventually won the game after a miraculous catch in the deep outfield by a rookie, Alex Romero, on a hit that would have tied or won the game. A great night of baseball.

My brother turns 75 tomorrow. I talked to him on the telephone this evening. He says he doesn't think much about this milestone but I think he will spend some sleepless hours tonight. I think it's a pretty big landmark date to have reached. As I told him this evening, only 25 more and you get the big 100. He just chuckled.

A cousin of mine, who is the same advanced age as I am (68), has just learned the name of her true father. Neither her mother, the man who raised her as his daughter, nor her grandmother would ever tell her the man's name. Finally, the husband of a half-sister came to her and revealed the identity. She has now met the half-sister and learned of a now-deceased half-brother. She is very happy to finally learn the identity of her father and of her true family identity. I am happy for her. My brother is not. He thinks she should not have pursued it when she first heard of it. Needless to say, the rest of the family, from what I know, disagree with him. But what can I say. He's always been a strange man. He's my only sibling and I haven't seen him for 20 years. We have very, very little in common.

Strange . . . the patterns life has of working itself out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Here kitty, kitty, kitty!

Ah the tide is changing.

Mike has a new cat!

Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


And the livin' is easy.

I don't know why Smoke tends to lie upside down but that's his favorite position. It may be for purposes of cooling.

Muggles, on the other hand, stays on her side, usually. She is, however, difficult to sneak up on.

You've all heard of "Dog Days"?

Think "Cat Days" in these parts.

Incidentally, there's one more cat around here somewhere but Jazz is hiding out.


Jazz surfaced at some time and has found a spot for her snooze on the couch.

Temper, temper

Here is why excessive booze, non-functioning lawn mowers and guns don't mix.

A Milwaukee, Wisconsin, man has been arrested after shooting his lawn mower with a sawed off shotgun after it wouldn't start.

He said it was his yard and his lawn mower and he should be able to do whatever he wants.

A woman who lives with him and called police said he was intoxicated.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fabulous Friday Foolery

It's the end of the week as I used to know it. Friday evening was a time for getting drunk. In most times it meant no more work for two days and then back to it. I've been retired (mostly) for a couple of years now but I still think of Friday night as the end of the week.

Tomorrow there's something to celebrate: Mick Jagger becomes 65 years old. Like me, there's no sign that Jagger is planning on retiring. Unlike me, Jagger is still trim and wiry. (The bastard!)

SWMBO and I spent several hours today getting a family trust set up. We don't have much in it right now but we have some hopes for the future. SWMBO says it will eliminate probate when we both fade quietly into the sunet.

Speaking of that, I'm happy to report . . . in light of a post a couple of days ago . . . that "I'm Still Here."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why I don't watch the news

I broke a rule today and watched Barack Obama's speech in Berlin. Quite good, I thought. But afterwards, as he was walking through the crowd, MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell interrupted the NBC Political Reporter Chuck Todd . . . who was making a somewhat valid point about the stagecraft . . . to breathlessly inform the audience that NBC anchorman Brian Williams was now walking alongside Obama. Well, as they used to say in pre-television days, "Stop the presses!" A little later, Mitchell felt it necessary to point out that Williams was now interviewing Obama.

What I'd like to know is who pays her salary: the news department or the promotion department!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Myth of Threes

A week or so ago, a new neighbor to our left came over and asked SWMBO if she would come over to witness her signature on some kind of paper. It turned out to be permission for a hospice to offer care to the lady's father. Dad was in a recliner of sorts hooked up to oxygen and not looking well.

A day or so later, I was picking up my mail and saw the lady sitting outside and went over to say hello. As I neared her I saw that she was sobbing, with tears running down her face. She told me her father had just died.

- - - - - -

This morning, I noticed a large group of people and cars at a house on the other side of our house. Later, when the crowd had thinned but a young woman was outside, I walked over and asked her if something bad had happened. She told me her father had died in his sleep only a few hours ago.

I had just spoken to him last night as I was checking the sky for clouds and a nice sunset. He was sitting outside his home and waved and seemed fine. He was a nice man and we'll miss him.

- - - - - -

But, as SWMBO said: maybe we should get out of town for awhile. And a friend who I told the story this afternoon said that might not be a bad idea and raised the myth of threes. Well, I know that happens with celebrities and people in the news. If two die, a third one follows shortly. But I'm not superstitious or worried.


If you don't hear from me for awhile . . . .

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What's new?

Well, I've been trying to think of something to blog about today.

All day.

Y'know what?

I can't think of a damned thing.

Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Big Screen Action

O.K. I finally got my sound back. Know what the problem was? A loose jumper on the audio board. The computer wizard . . . Tom Leufkens . . . found it. Thanks, Tom.

So, I finally have my new computer monitor fully operational. It's a huge picture, which is very good for these old eyes. The screen is 21.6 inches wide. I make that out to be a 22 inch screen, don't you? And it's a flat screen so I finally have some writing room on my desk.

Your Catalyst is a happy camper.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

God-like Catalyst

I have a new t-shirt.

SWMBO took a picture of the front of it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Boys and their toys

I have a new computer monitor - 21.6 inches wide. It is one big mothuh. Of course, when I first hooked it up, the picture didn't fill the screen, leaving about an inch and a half of black on either side. A trip to my computer wizard fixed that. I needed a new video card but he assured me DVD movies would run fine now without the herky-jerky pattern of before.

But . . . there's another problem. Now I don't have any audio. My little icon is still on the task bar but none of the computer's sounds and no audio from the internet or DVD's or CD's is coming out of the speakers. The speakers are o.k. because I plugged them into a transistor radio and they worked fine. I've been through and through the sound and device sites and can't find anything muted or turned down. My next step is to look inside the tower and see if the sound jack somehow became disconnected.

It is very frustrating.

I also bought a cheap tripod for my digital camera yesterday to use for macro work but the new monitor and attendant problems have kept me away from it so far.

The SWMBO says this reminds her of when I was a ham radio operator and each purchase of new equipment would require more expense to buy something that would make it work correctly. She may be right.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Picture fun

Here's a photo I snapped at a Buddhist shrine on my last trip to the deepest jungle of Thailand.

No, wait a minute. That face looks familiar. Let me turn the flash on it.

Oh, I remember him. That's actually a small statue in our front garden.

This is a photo of our half-cat Smoke. (You remember, I call him that because he only spends about half of his time with us). He's pretending to ignore me.

Have you ever noticed . . . whenever you want to get a nice tight close-up of your pet's face, he won't settle down. First he walks past your camera one way.

Then he turns and goes the other way . . . always just out of range.

Oh, well, I got one good one of him sometime back. It's at the top of this page.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Macro

Here are a couple of more images from my macro experimentation. I need to buy a tripod or a unipod.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rainy Day

Another rainy day in Arizona.

Close-ups: solved

Oh, my!

Reading the manual does help.

Look out, macrophiles, here I come!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I've been trying to figure out the close-up facet of my camera. Here are a couple that I think made it, though I forgot to turn off the flash on St. Frank and he would have been better with natural light.

I think the secret is not to look through the viewfinder but to turn on the screen and use it to frame up the photo.

To be continued.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Kind of a pretty day, heading into Prescott around noon.

Those clouds do look a little threatening but they're still pretty.

Oops! About an hour and a half later, heading home.
See those mountains? You don't? Oh, I guess it's because of the rain.
A little further to the south . . . you can see the edge of the storm.

And here's what it looks like to be in the middle of it.

The monsoon has finally arrived, bringing with it much-needed rain. But, as usual, it produces some flooded streets and other problems. SWMBO said we got some hail here before I got home. Wonder how the BRD's little red Mercedes weathered the storm sitting in her driveway.
The cooler temperatures (around 65 now) sure feel nice.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Burger Madness

Warning. Warning. Warning.

These pictures are fuzzily out of focus.

I don't know why.

Could be the amount of alcohol in the photographer.

Could be a cheap camera.

But . . . here it is.

First of all . . . a half moon.

Then . . . the grill. Hamburgers. Onions.
A closer picture of the onions.

Buns . . . toasting on the upper grill.

O.K. The final picture wasn't taken. Your photographer with his face full of grilled hamburger and onions and cheese on a toasted bun.

Eat your heart out.

I did.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A lazy weekend

I did hang the flag out for Friday and Saturday to celebrate the 4th of July.

SWMBO did grill a chicken stuffed with lemons, and some thick slices of sweet potato for dinner the other night. Delicious. (The sweet potatoes weren't inside the chicken, they were alongside it.)

Other than that, our marking of our national holiday was quiet.


The BRD went to a luau costume party Friday evening. And the (World's Oldest) rodeo in Prescott Saturday night. (She says she didn't want to go and told her man that next year he could go with his buddies.)


And they went to Phoenix today to watch Randy Johnson finally win his 289th career baseball game in a 3 to 2 squeaker. Randy gave up a home run on his second pitch of the game but after that he was spectacular. Once again the bullpen nearly gave it away but they managed to hang on.


I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Finished Jeffrey Deaver's exciting "Stone Monkey" yesterday. I've now started on "Audition" by Barbara Walters. A couple more libary books are in the house but SWMBO is reading them simultaneously: "Mission Accomplished: How We Won the War in Iraq" by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky, and "Late Nights On Air" by Elizabeth Hay.


I went to my cardiologist the other day for an echocardiogram as they continue to watch my heart. There was a new woman doing the test and we were talking about my atrial fibrillation. I told her I had never had any symptoms or felt anything. She said, repeatedly, that she would have thought I would have felt a fluttering in my chest. After the third time she said that, I replied "No, the only fluttering I've felt there was when I looked into your eyes." She laughed and told me I had made her day.

I'm finding I can get away with remarks like that more and more as I get older. Guess they just don't take me seriously any more.


I have done something I never thought I would do: I have set up a MySpace page. But wait! It was prompted by a conversation I had with my grandson, the Army man, last weekend. I asked him to give me an e-mail address that I would actually get a response from. He's on his fourth tour in Iraq now and I'd like to stay in touch. He said that was probably the best one since he gets about 500 spam e-mails a day on his other ones.


This sounds like a letter home from college. About the only thing I haven't said is "Please Send Money!"


Please Send Money!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, America

Rush-ing toward mediocrity

Comes the news that conservative blowhard Rush Limbaugh has signed a new 8-year contract for 400 million dollars to continue his talk radio bloviating. TALKERS magazine estimates Limbaugh's audience at roughly 14 million people. But the population of the United States is currently estimated at more than 304 million people. That means that Limbaugh's screeds are heard by only about 4 and a half percent of the country's population.

It is further noted that Limbaugh vehemently opposed John McCain during the primary season as not conservative enough. McCain won the Republican presidential nomination fairly early and easily.

So much for Limbaugh's influence.

But as Tom Taylor, said to be news editor of something called said, speaking of Limbaugh and his syndicator, "both sides have made a lot of money for each other."

What a country!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Family reunion

SWMBO, the BRD and I made a very quick (48 hours) trip to southwest Colorado this past weekend for a visit with several generations of our family. Of course, as we were on the way home, I thought "Damn, I didn't get a picture of the four generations together." Later, after we were home, SWMBO brought it up and said "My family has always been conscious of those types of photos and we forgot to get it."

Well, with one grandson headed back to Iraq with the Army for the fifth time, his twin sister getting ready to join the Navy, daughter living now in Oregon, the other granddaughter in Colorado . . . it may be a long time, if not the last time, that we'll all be together.

We had a good time though we were exhausted when we got home (7-1/2 hours of driving each way) and a great fun but tiring day Sunday. I played croquet for the first time in many decades. I didn't win.

Best of all, we avoided all the 4th of July traffic.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

And then there's more . . .

Yes, another friend has weighed in.

These come from the Rajah.

Murphy's Lesser Known Laws

1. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

2. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

3. Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.

4. Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

5. The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.

6. If you lined up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them, five or six at a time, on a hill, in the fog.

7. The things that come to those who wait will be the scraggly junk left by those who got there first.

8. The shin bone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room.

9. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

10. When you go into court, you are putting yourself into the hands of 12 people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.


An old colleague (Boomer) sent me these and they caused me to think about their inevitability. Which made me tired so I think now I'll take a nap. Be careful. Don't read these while driving.


Law of Mechanical Repair

After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch and you'll have to pee.

Law of Gravity

Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

Law of Probability

The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

Law of Random Numbers

If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal and someone always answers.

Law of the Alibi

If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire.

Variation Law

If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will always move faster than the one you are in now (works every time).

Law of the Bath

When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.

Law of Close Encounters

The probability of meeting someone you know increases dramatically when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.

Law of the Result

When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.

Law of Biomechanics

The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

Law of the Theater

At any event, the people whose seats are farthest from the aisle arrive last.

The Starbucks Law

As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

Murphy's Law of Lockers

If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.

Law of Physical Surfaces

The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor covering are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet/rug.

Law of Logical Argument

Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.

Brown's Law of Physical Appearance

If the shoe fits, it's ugly.

Oliver's Law of Public Speaking

A closed mouth gathers no feet.

Wilson's Law of Commercial Marketing Strategy

As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it.

Doctors' Law

If you don't feel well, make an appointment to go to the doctor, by the time you get there you'll feel better. Don't make an appointment and you'll stay sick.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blog for your mental health!

Wow! After nearly a week of silence, two posts in one day!

I read an interesting column in Newsweek today about the mental health benefits of blogging. You can read it here. But watch out for the last two sentences.

A dancing fool

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cooooooool Water!

Regular readers have met most of our cats. There are Muggles and Jazz, our inside cats who aren't allowed outside. Then there is Smoke, who I call our half-cat because he spends some time in our house, some in the BRD's next door, and the rest of the time he seems to roam the neighborhood gathering up pettings and handouts.

The BRD has a couple more - Noel, the nasty oldest of the bunch who loves to bully all the others; Emma, the tiny but very solid white cat who tends to chase Smoke off the patio; and Sheba, the roaming small black and white cat who seems cowed by all of the rest.

We also have a small fountain on the front patio and the cats can't seem to resist it. For instance, Smoke, contemplating that bubbler as he balances on the rim.

He finally manages to get his weight adjusted and bends down to drink and drink and drink.

A little later Sheba makes an appearance, daintily jumping up on the rim.

Ah, she's found her spot and she, too, slakes her thirst.

Cats. They're a constant moving circus.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A hurting Tiger

Sorry news about Tiger Woods today. He's going to have reconstructive surgery on his left knee and will miss the rest of the season. You can read about it here.

What struck me was that Tiger has been rated the number one player in the world for 500 weeks! That's nearly ten years!

Well, while it will be a loss for golf fans, some of the other players on the tour will finally have a chance and Tiger will be able to spend more time with his wife, Elin, and his one-year-old daughter, Sam

Get well soon, Tiger.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Nothin' much. Just some pictures around the south 40.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Human High-Light Reel

I know there are a number of you that are not fans of sports. But I am and I can't help writing about one of my absolute favorite golf stars - Tiger Woods - the number one professional golfer in the world.

He's arguably the greatest golfer that has ever lived and he's only 31, I think. He has years to go to add to his records.

Today at the final hole of the U.S. Open golf tournament, he barely sunk a 12 foot putt to force a playoff for the championship tomorrow.

Rocco Mediate had finished just ahead of Tiger and was watching on a television set. He simply turned around and said "Unbelievable. But I knew he'd make it."

SWMBO and I were watching and she said afterward "I didn't think he'd make it."

I said, "You just can't ever bet against Tiger in a crucial moment."

The field might have been hopeful that someone could beat Tiger this time because he was obviously still recovering from a third surgery on his left knee. He grimaced at times and limped at times.

And he didn't play very well.

But he's still Tiger.

Tomorrow, he and Mediate will go head to head in an 18 hole playoff.

Don't bet against Tiger.


It took 18 holes of a playoff and one hole of sudden death but once again Tiger proved he is the best. He won the U.S. Open (again). His 14th major golf tournament win is 4 behind the record established by Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus won his 18th at the age of 46. Tiger is 32. (Correction from the 31 listed yesterday)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Update: VICTORY!

You may have read of my battle with the New York Times.

After 5 weeks and one day I can report that I have finally won.

Last Friday (after two more somewhat snotty e-mails to the publisher and the president of the company) I received a call from a deeply apologetic Manager of Customer Care. She told me she was going to take care of this. Today, I got a full refund of the overcharges to my account.

She said it was a system failure.

I say when all else fails it helps to complain to the top guys.

(By the way, that's Sir Winston Churchill flashing the V for Victory sign. He was my 15th cousin.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wasting Money

I've been anxiously awaiting my stimulus package check from the federal government. An acquaintance of mine got his several weeks ago and it seemed to me like the boys in Washington were taking a long time getting mine to me. When I went to the mailbox today, there was an envelope from the Internal Revenue Service with the words Stimulus Package on it. When I came in to the house, I told SWMBO "Hey I finally got my check from the feds."

But when I opened the envelope, there was no check inside. Instead, a bunch of fine sounding language about the fact that I would get a check, probably in three days or so. I started to rant. Why couldn't they just send the check? Why did they have to send me a letter explaining that I would soon be getting a check? Wasn't that going to cost them twice as much in postage? It's not just to me, it's to everyone? That seems like a lot of wasted money to me.

SWMBO calmly said "But it's our money they're wasting, not theirs!"

Yup, I hadn't thought of that.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


A friend and I were talking today . . . first about hunting, then about fishing.

I can only think of twice when I was really hunting with a gun in my hand. The first experience, with my Dad, was a good one as I brought down three or four Prairie Chickens, each with a single shot.

The second time I was alone, looking for pheasants. The only one I saw exploded into flight virtually from under my feet. I didn't come close to hitting it. I don't know what I would have done with it if I had killed it anyway.

But fishing. Now I liked fishing. At least when I caught something. I hated trolling. That's riding in a slow-moving boat with your hook in the water. Usually, I brought up weeds.

One day, at a lake in Canada, after trolling most of the day and not having caught anything, we came back to the dock at dusk. Dad headed up to the cabin to find something to cook for dinner. I said I was going to do some casting off the dock. Aha! Dusk apparently was feeding time and I almost immediately caught a fine Northern Pike, or a Jack as we called them.

Putting the fish on a stringer, I ran up the hill to the cabin to show Dad my prize. As he began cleaning it, I ran back down to the lake and promptly caught another.

By the time I brought a third fish up the hill, Dad said "Okay, that's enough." But it was a great triumphant day for me.

While telling my pal that story I was reminded of a couple of pictures that were taken back in the 1940's. So from at least 60 years ago, here's how it used to be at Carlyle Lake, in Saskatchewan.

That's my Dad on the far right. He's with three of his pals after a good day of fishing.

And here's Dad with a big fish, probably a Wall-eyed Pike, which we called Walleyes. As you can see by Dad's smile, that was a triumphant day for him.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Progress . . . or not

My last post on this blog brought out a plethora of what most of Arizona calls "tree huggers." Up around here, they're also known as "no growthers." They are people who have moved here from somewhere else or who have grown up here. When I first moved to Phoenix several decades ago from "back East", the expression was "O.K. I made it to Paradise, now let's slam the door."

But, you know, you just can't stop growth. Folks like me call it progress. The other folks call it urban blight. If you have a place that regularly makes it onto some list or the other as being a great place to retire then what do you suppose happens? People move here from somewhere else. And there is growth. And the people that come want all the amenities they left behind. But they don't want that damned "urban blight."

So, what's the solution. Mine (I should really say SWMBO's and the BRD's because they've done the lion's share of the work) is to build our own oasis. You can have all those stores and restaurants and bars and car dealers and fast food joints and still have . . . your very own oasis of calm and beauty.

For example . . . these pictures were taken on our front patio, only steps from our front door.

And you can lean back in a comfortable chair, with a drink in your hand and look at the sky. It is boundless.

So remember, folks, every cloud . . .

has a silver lining.

If that's not enough, just remember . . . we've got our eyes on you.