Friday, May 30

New tool

When I started this blog, I would compose the words on the little computer, a 15" MacBook Pro, do the picture processing on the middle computer because its monitor (22", 56cm) was the most color-accurate, then send the finished product to Blogger. Yesterday a new computer was added to the mix, the one on the right. It’s an iMac 24" with lots of bells and whistles (2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4 GB 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 320 GB SATA hard drive), and a three-year phone support and repair warranty. I’ll be using it for both words and pictures. The other computers will go to the high ranch and be used for other stuff.

The most remarkable thing about Apple products is their ease of use. I simply plugged the new computer in, hooked it to the small computer with a Firewire (IEEE 1394) cable, and held down the T key on the small one as it booted up. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) on the little one transferred to the new one in a couple of hours—programs, files, everything! Amazing. Only one corrupted file didn’t make it. The computer immediately found the Wi-Fi signal in the house and connected to the Internet and told Apple that I was the owner and that was it. It told me that there was new software available, then connected and downloaded and installed it while I watched. Amazing. I wonder if it washes dishes.

So, my life changes a bit. On my small laptop, I could scan from side to side with just eye movement. On the new biggie, I actually have to move my head, which will put more wear on the neck bones. Or I could push the screen away, but then why have a big screen? Besides the exercise will prevent unsightly neck fat that comes with sedentariness.

Thursday, May 29

Smarty pants

Shown here are two pairs of my work jeans. At any given moment I own four pairs of jeans. The best jeans, my “Sunday go-to-meetin” pair, has the deepest color, the fewest wear spots, and the fewest wrinkles due to being pulled from the clothes dryer while still warm, then immediately folded. It’s the pair I wear to important events, like Forest Service meetings and visits to The Home Depot. The second pair is good enough to wear to Oakhurst without being tossed out of the supermarket for looking like a vagrant. The number three and number four pair shown above are what I wear when I’m engaged in my day-to-day activities. In fact, most of my blogging is done while wearing those very jeans!

The reason I’ve called this post “Smarty pants” is that if my jeans-purchasing timing is correct, which it usually is, by the time summer comes along the legs are ready to be cut off at the knee, making them into shorts! I don’t know how the Levi Strauss Company makes jeans come apart in just the right place, but they’re doing something awfully right as far as I’m concerned!

After decades of enjoying watching my pants evolve into shorts, I have only one complaint: Notice the wear spots above the knee on the right side pockets (left side in the photo). They’re caused by carrying my tiny Swiss Army Executive Supreme Ultra Jihadist’s Dream pocket knife in that pocket. It’s a very small knife, tiny enough to get through airport security without triggering an alarm. But it’s bulky enough to cause wear in my jeans. Levi Strauss needs to do some toughening there. Till they do, I have started putting the knife in the watch pocket above the main pocket. It’s hard to get used to finding it there, though. I should have done that a few years ago when my mind was more flexible, as opposed to being flabby.

Live and learn, to coin a phrase.

Wednesday, May 28

A most curious plant

On this morning’s hike, we were so pleased to be breathing such spring-fresh air after almost a week of rainstorms. Over that period we received nearly two inches (5cm) of welcome moisture. It allowed us to get some roadwork done, and certainly will be welcomed by the plants around here.

One plant that has been catching my attention for several weeks now is the Brodeia (bro-DEE-uh) because of its apparent lack of leaves. The stem just juts out of the ground and at the top is anywhere from one to nine blossoms. The picture above shows two plants, one with nine and the other with seven blossoms. Most common are plants with two or three flowers.

The plant comes from a bulb that’s pretty deep in the ground, compared to the overall height. Shown is one I dug up for science (well, pseudoscience). It is 18.5" overall, 47cm, from bulb to blossom. The arrow points to the ground line. Over one-third of the plant is underground. Its apparent lack of leaves, except for the minuscule tufts right where the flowers form at the top of the stem, has me baffled. How does a plant get the energy and food it needs with almost no leaves?

After a lot of searching on the Internet, I came up with nothing. Anyone out there in blog-reading land know the answer? Please let me know.

Tuesday, May 27

Road work

Since last Friday we have gotten over an inch of rain, 2.5cm, which came slowly and soaked in rather than ran off into the streambeds. When it seemed to be over we broke out the road grader and took advantage of the newly softened soil to do some much needed repairs to the rockier parts of our driveway. Most work took place a bit over a mile, 1.6km, from the house where we were able to widen a turn by a creek enough to make the really long horse trailer and really long boat trailer get around it easier. Then we smoothed a long stretch of rockiness. That was all yesterday.

Today the clouds seemed to be getting thinner and the weather prediction was for clearing, so we tackled a portion of the road right outside our first gate, a red-clay-and-rock stretch about 500 feet, 150m long. The rain had loosened the soil nicely, and after about a dozen passes (remember, this road grader is small) I managed to make the entire stretch nice and smooth. It started to sprinkle lightly, but no big threat. Then it rained harder. The roof of the grader kept me dry-ish, but Karla, who didn’t have rain gear, retreated to the dry protection of the car she had brought along with rakes, hoe and shovel for the patchwork that always has to be done when we work the road. The rain steadily increased until the newly-churned red clay started sticking to the tires of the grader, leaving long streaks on the road. Soon the entire road glistened bright orange, turning into a slippery mess. This is just the thing we try to avoid every spring when we do road work—wait till the rains end, work the road, and let it mellow and harden. We sure missed it this time, since we got over half an inch of rain, 125mm, in an hour’s time. Now, about two hours later, it’s raining again. Glad we don’t have any pressing need to use our newly-smooth (slick) road!

Monday, May 26

What a pretty flower!

Yes, it is a very pretty flower. Its name, at least the common name, is yellow star thistle. How lovely. Look at its beautiful yellow blossom, and the radiant star-like thorns that surround it. Surely a welcome addition to anyone’s garden, especially since it can grow with no care, and is so prolific! Not only that, it’s an exotic plant. Not native to the United States, it comes from afar. Greece, I think. One tiny problem: it’s toxic to horses, which we have many of. And it doesn’t seem to have any natural enemies to keep it from taking over the entire universe, or at least the part we live in. Currently we’re not overwhelmed with its beauty and potential abundance, and can control it with a bit of judicious finding and picking. If we pluck the plant and its spindly single root before it goes to seed, we can keep ahead of it. So far it only shows up where some bad hay was tossed to the horses. But it could spread, so we may have to get some cows to control it. It doesn’t kill them and they kind of like it. Or maybe we could get some Greek goats. They make nice cheese. Well, they don’t actually make cheese, but we could. If we want to. But we’d have to milk them. And what if all our goats are boy goats. You never know when you buy a goat from a Greek. Remember the old expression, “Beware of Greeks bearing goats,” or something like that. Maybe it’s “Never look a Greek goat in the mouth.” I think I need to do some research. Or buy some thistle poison.

Sunday, May 25

ReDiscover ReCaptcha

When I hit the return key, my count went to 1600 words. I had forgotten about ReCaptcha for awhile, and did a 150-word stint today. The neat thing about it is they keep track so when you go back, you have your previous score there to add to. Bookmark it. Great time-killer, and perhaps a bit more mind-building than Solitaire.
Or perhaps not.

How did they know?

In my May 23 post about there being so many holes everywhere, I included a picture of one of the mosquito nurseries that dot this place. As I was taking the picture shown above, something stirred in my dim memory…something was familiar. After mulling it over for a couple of days, I turned to the Internet and called up a picture of some distant galaxies that I had seen years ago. Sure enough, there’s a match!

Here I have superimposed the galaxies onto the holes—a perfect match!

Here they are in their neighborhood of other galaxies. Now for the obvious question: How did they know?

Photo(s): NASA: HST Hubble Ultra Deep Field

Saturday, May 24

What are they thinking?

On a walk, we ran across this beleaguered pine tree. Its trunk is peppered with thousands of acorns, planted by industrious woodpeckers. They go from almost ground level clear up at least 100 feet, 30 meters. My question to them: How do you expect oak trees to grow out of the trunk of a pine tree? Success rate so far: Zero.


Friday, May 23

Have you ever noticed…

…how many holes there are?

I just noticed—this is the 150th post. That’s a “hole” lot.

Thursday, May 22


While Karla was on the phone with the county straightening out how we can be even more legal with our fuel storage tanks at the lake and filling out a stack of forms, and Hilary updated a plot map of our Forest Service lease land at the same lake, I cleaned out the fish fountain and photographed all the various displays on our solar power controller in order to make a checklist of how to use the various functions in case I’m not available. As if to say, “I want to do something real,” Hilary donned the hard hat with a face mask and ear protectors, fired up the string trimmer and mowed down another acre (0.4 hectare) of weeds up by the olive trees. It’s nice to live where you can balance the picky nasty bureaucrat-pleasing junk we’re buried in with some stompin’ kick-butt real activity! Keeps you healthy, physically at least.

Wednesday, May 21


Every spring, it’s the same surprise. In the morning there’s more color besides the usual dull green or blue on the cactus plants. You’d better catch it quick because it may not be there in a couple of days. Cactus flowers are simply outrageous in their shapes and colors. Mostly we get yellow flowers on our prickly pear plants, but these little barrel cacti go in for the more lavender-ish hue. On the left, the flower measures 8 inches or a little over 20 centimeters from tip to base. Shown above, the center of the flower is almost black; it’s hollow clear down to the base. I know this for a fact since I poked a grass stem down into it for its entire length. If I were a pollinating insect, I’d be leery of this one; what if there was some insectivorous animal hiding down there, or a pool of chitin-dissolving liquid, or worse yet, a vacuum cleaner salesman! Which reminds me: The best thing you can say about a vacuum cleaner is that it really sucks.

Tuesday, May 20

Finally—gas price relief!

Unfortunately, it’s comic relief.

Photo: John Partipilo/The Tennessean via The Associated Press

Monday, May 19

Not much to say today

This morning as I was watering plants before the sun came up, I noticed the sky was rapidly becoming obscured by contrails. It was like every domestic airline flight had been routed over our little valley in order to block sunlight from the solar panels. We needed more water to be pumped into our big storage tank, and weren’t going to get it from sunlight power. When the propane-powered backup generator is fired up, it’s connected so it will both charge the batteries and run any other AC loads. I didn’t want to charge the batteries, just run the well pump, which would take a lot less energy. So it was time, finally, to figure out how to use the backup switches on our power control panel. Gingerly I loosened the nuts that hold an interlock on four of the breakers and slid it downward to simultaneously disconnect the power inverters from the line while engaging the power from the generator. Then I switched off the generator input breakers. It worked! (Are you bored/confused yet?) The upshot is that we can now run the well pump and all the household stuff without simultaneously running 5,ooo watts of battery charging, thus saving gallons (3.8s of liters) of propane.

Then I spent more time cutting weeds so we won’t be burned to the ground when the fire season gets going full blast. Hope not anyway.

Sunday, May 18

Spring roundup!

Annie expresses her delight at the taste of intestinal worm paste. Or maybe it’s her impression of a chimpanzee.

By mid-morning on Saturday, we started the inoculations (tetanus, rabies, strangles, West Nile virus, encephalitis, Potomac fever, and more), dental checkups, overall health checkups, and hoof trimming. The neighbors from far and wide came to see 36 horses run through the mill. Turns out we had 36 people, too.

Frank the farrier gives an expert pedicure (manicure for the front feet).

Mike the vet reached into Geronimo’s mouth and found a walnut. Not really; it’s a rotten old tooth that came out with a very gentle tug.

By day’s end, this pile of used syringes grew to about a hundred.

Lunch was a welcome break, with barbecued tri-tips, potato salad, tons (tonnes) of fruit and veggies, cakes, cookies and every kind of cold drink. It was almost hard to go back to work and watching. Next year I think it will be an even bigger party.

Friday, May 16

Prepping for tomorrow

Today was spent getting ready for tomorrow. Making a potato salad big enough for 50 people, marinating a dozen or so tri-tip steaks, hauling lawn chairs out of storage, weeding the place, gathering all 36 horses, fixing fence so the gathered herd stays gathered, and in general just spiffing up the place. So to relax, check this out:

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.
A tremendous amount of work went in to this really clever stop-motion animation, along with an equal amount of imagination. Well worth the seven minutes and seven seconds it takes to watch.

Thursday, May 15

Ants rule; termites drool

At around eight o’clock this morning I was taking a pile of collapsed cardboard boxes out to the wood shed to toss onto our recycle pile. A couple of times a year we haul a few hundred pounds of cardboard down to the Big City and toss it all onto a huge heap at a transfer station. We could get paid for it, but the people at the weigh station/payment window look at you like you’re a starving Bangladeshi or something since cardboard goes for a minuscule one-point-two-five cents per pound. In spite of that sometimes I drive onto the scale and get weighed just so I can see how much mud and cow manure, by weight, has accumulated in the fender wells over the winter. Slows you down, and costs more in fuel I figure, so what the hey. Then after dumping the cardboard I go back and get weighed again and pick up my dollar or so. I can handle the “Are you serious?” looks and slowly shaking heads in the payment booth. I am comfortable in my skin.

So what does this have to do with the picture of what looks like a heap of daisy petals lying on the ground? They are right at the entrance to the wood shed where I was headed with cardboard. Those petals are the wings of a whole bunch of ants that are getting ready to launch and spread ant-ness around the foothills. These are tough guys/gals since they can launch right off the ground, unlike the wimpy termites that have to crawl up their launch towers in order to get airborne. Thus the “Ants rule; termites drool” headline.

Well, I tried…

After spending nearly an hour trying to upload the photo for today’s blog, and Google’s overwhelmed-ness and inability to accept the photo, I give up.

I’m going to have to start blogging on a site that I actually pay for. Then I can complain if it doesn’t work. I think Blogger, Google’s blog site, is simply overwhelmed with customers. The Google staff seems to consist of what they call “Starters” instead of “Maintainers.” Starters get excited about making something new, but get bored when it comes time to keep it working. Google didn’t invent Blogger; they simply bought it when it seemed to be a potential profit center. They do little to make it truly workable for the users. So I may be migrating. Soon. I’ll let you know if these inabilities to post in a timely manner continue.

Meanwhile, just imagine what I could have posted about ants being superior to termites!

Update: I got it done! See above posting, Ants rule; termites drool.

Wednesday, May 14

More tomorrow

Today was a trip to the Big City for a whole SUV-ful of chow for the big horse roundup / hoof trimming / west nile virus / rabies / teeth floating / tail shampooing / rhinoplasty / liposuction / usual stuff we do every year for the horses. This will be happening Saturday (Sunday, Australian metric time). I will try to get over to the corral for some really astonishing pictures, while at the same time manning the barbecue whipping up several pounds (kilos) of tri-tip steaks. I think I’ve figured out how to accomplish both tasks—I will buy a 500-foot, 150-meter flexible plastic tube and tape one end to the barbecue and the other end to my left nostril. I will stick a cork in the right nostril. Therefore if I keep my mouth shut, I will be breathing only through the tube. As long as I smell nicely-cooking meat I can keep up my award-winning photography. When I smell acrid burning-flesh smoke, I will dash back to the barbie and drown the flames. If that doesn’t work, we have about two gallons (7.5 liters) of beans as backup. Plus tons (tonnes) of chips and dip and big chocolate cakes and lots of beer. Should be a real winner no matter what happens!

Tuesday, May 13

Valley population increases by six

Today the last of the Furnace Creek people, horses, and dogs arrived at the Ahwahnee ranch. So the riding stable in Death Valley is closed for the season, and we’ll soon be opening the ranch in the High Sierra.

Luke rides Shadow, leading his horse, Heston. Hilary lets Sioux, the famous mascot of Blind Dog Coffee Roasters, and Sallie, a not-yet famous but probably soon dog out of the truck after an eight hour trip. All six are welcome and we’re celebrating with a nice dinner of tacos tonight.

Simpsons couch gags

Here they are, every one of them!

Monday, May 12

I can’t believe it!

Google! Shame! Read the article!

Roadwork day

Around here, “End Road Work” doesn’t apply. We are having a roundup of our ponies this coming Saturday (now there’s an opportunity for pictures!), so we decided to be at least a little nice to the throngs of guests we’ve invited by smoothing out some of the really nasty parts of our 3-mile-plus (5 kilometer) driveway. The road is dry, and our motor grader is smallish, so we didn’t do as much smoothing as I would like, but we made substantial progress considering the limitations. There may be more work tomorrow if we have time, since one of the things we’re doing is taking a trailerload of oil drums full of used oil and old diesel fuel out that same driveway to meet a pumper truck which will suck up all our old crud and take it to an oil refinery and make it into wonderful fresh new petroleum products. We have to pay them to do the deed, but that’s okay with us. Pouring it into a stream or lake would be cheaper, but that would make the fish taste funny, and those fish would be neither healthy nor healthful. Then we may go to the Small City and get more mulch for the trees. Depends on how much time we have. I’ll be sure to let you know.

Oh, I almost forgot. The judge for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal made her final decision regarding our use of horses in the wilderness. Pretty exciting stuff, but I don’t have time to explain (actually, I have to re-read her decision to make sure she actually judged more or less in our favor!). You never know when it’s written in Latin. Especially if your only foreign language is Greek so you can understand your doctor.

Sunday, May 11

Google, shame!

Google ads accompany this blog in the hope that they’ll prove useful to my readers. They are keyed to the subject matter of the entries. But this one has only one “m” in Accommodations. Twice! Google, stop messing up my blog!

Bye bye, healthful

Words are born, live for awhile, then die. They usually die from disuse. Take the word healthful. When used properly, it means “having or conducive to good health.” You would eat healthful foods in order to remain healthy. Currently many people are using the word healthy in place of healthful. Eating healthy foods really means to eat foods that are in good health, not diseased. Therefore to eat a healthy fish would have to mean the fish is still alive, since a dead fish would definitely not be healthy. A fresh strawberry is both healthy and healthful. A freeze-dried strawberry is not healthy, but is still healthful. Cooked rice isn’t healthy, but is healthful.

There’s an accelerating trend to replace correct words with ignorant approximations, even in (formerly) respectable publications. With this in mind, I propose that we replace truthful with truthy.

Saturday, May 10

Horse delivery

Today Hilary drove to the low ranch from Furnace Creek in Death Valley with her trailer full of horses, three big and one small. She parked the trailer a couple of miles down the road, jumped on bareback and led them up to the ranch.

At the gate was a reception committee; nearly all the horses were waiting for their buddies to come home. How they knew, we don’t know—horses are strange that way. When the new arrivals were released, the whole gang took off to their hidden place where they eat illegal weed and party all night. Hope we get some sleep!

Friday, May 9

Losing my sole

A dilemma—One shoe is wearing out faster than the other. Shown above, the top shoe, the left shoe, has part of a metal shank showing. The other shoe doesn’t; there’s still plenty of life left in it. Funny, when I bought the shoes a few years back, they both looked pretty much the same, wear-wise. Actually they were brand new and when the nice lady brought them out from the store’s back room they were in the original box wrapped with that crinkly tan tissue that makes new shoes so special. “Wow,” I remember thinking to myself, “I am going to be the first person to actually wear these shoes!” I hid my excitement from the sales lady, knowing that they look for signs like that to know that they’ve got a sure sale here and probably a really big honkin’ commission check coming. I think I might have said something like, “Well, they look like they’ve never been worn, and seem pretty well matched, what with having been made in China and all.” When I tried them on and got up and walked around, rocking back and forth trying to simulate the feel of walking up a steep mountain trail, they felt just right. I faked a little limp right before I sat down, trying to throw her off a bit, but I sensed a change that came over her—not something I could pinpoint exactly—maybe it was a rush of pheromones or something. I knew—she knew—a sale was imminent.

But that’s all in the past. Little did I know then what I know now, that one shoe is wearing out faster than the other. I got to thinking, how could this be? Maybe it goes back to my days in Navy boot camp; we always started out a march step with the left foot. Was that still how I walked? I rarely march anymore except maybe when Karla says,“Tom, dinner’s ready!” Or maybe it’s how I climbed the extension ladder to get up on the roof of our storage building last summer when I made hundreds of trips up there installing our solar panels. If I put the left foot on the bottom rung, I could always step off of the ladder without having to do that silly little two-feet-on-the-same-rung dance on the top step. Or maybe I just weigh too much on my left side. I could wear my watch on the right wrist, and put the pocket knife in my right pocket. I already carry my wallet in the right pocket, but that’s something I only have with me when I make a rare trip to the Big City.

Getting the shoes re-soled is out of the question. The last time I tried that with a pair of old shoes, the guy at the shoe repair shop leaned to one side and looked to see if there was a Candid Camera crew behind me. I kind of doubt if I can find another left shoe that would match the good one, so it’s time to resign myself to tossing two shoes when only one is worn out. It’s just not fair!

Thursday, May 8

Methane chimneys

Okay, I lied. They’re actually termite launch pads for royalty. At least the queen is royal. The boy termites with wings are completely disposable after mid-air mating is finished; they become instant bird chow as they float wingless to an otherwise death-inducing crash to earth. The queen is then ready to reproduce for what—forty years?— and to grow to the size of a lemon or even a coconut and pump out millions of her kind, mostly commoners, with the exception of a few winged royals every spring.

These towers, which stand at most 3" or 75 millimeters tall are what the winged termites crawl through (they’re hollow) and jump off in order to get airborne. They don’t have the power to do it directly off the ground, and there aren’t any easy-to-climb grasses around for them to gain the necessary altitude. So, grain by grain, the slaves construct these elaborate towers. When the launch is complete and the world gains a few hundred more queens, what becomes of the towers? Mostly they get knocked down by critters or even a moderate wind. But while they stand, maybe they’re used to vent a few megatons of methane, helping keep our cozy planet even toastier. I should go over tonight, light them off, and enjoy the light show. Or toast a few royals.

Wednesday, May 7

Communication skills needed

I got an email from a service I subscribe to offering a quiz called “How much does your brain know about your brain?” I went to the site and got to the second page, a part of which is shown above. If I were a programmer, this probably wouldn’t be a challenge, but how many Internet users are programmers? In the third paragraph, the word Fatal appears in bold. I haven’t seen that word in years since I broke the Windows habit. It’s not in a Mac user’s lexicon.

Naturally, I didn’t take the quiz about how much my brain knows about my brain. But I do know how little the quiz’s authors know about communicating!

Tuesday, May 6

“Houston, we have a problem…”

I looked on my brand new GPS gizmo for local lodgings. First on the list was Muir Trail Ranch! No kidding! It was listed as being 2.6 miles from were I am, which is at the winter address of Muir Trail Ranch! Weird for sure. I clicked through the instructions, and got to a place several miles from our actual location.

This is really more of the same problem the ranch has had forever. The actual facility is located in Fresno County, but the business address is in Madera County. The business telephone number is in Oakhurst, Madera County, but the area code is in Mariposa County. The mailing address is in Ahwahnee, but the off-season physical address is in Raymond. Not only that, nobody can spell Ahwahnee, and few can pronounce it. As for pronunciation, people say Mour or Meer for Muir. When I say it rhymes with Pure, they say Poeur, Peer, or Poor.

Is there a future for a place that doesn’t exist where it says it does, has an unpronounceable name, can’t be found on Mapquest, doesn’t exist in the phone book where it is, and everyone thinks Ahwahnee is in Yosemite National Park (the Ahwahnee Hotel) or the ranch is in the Muir Woods north of San Francisco?

Monday, May 5

Cellphone Karma

Much thanks to Bill for sending this to me in an email. He comments that it should always be this quick. I couldn’t agree more. Beware, insensitive phone users; karma is for real. Sometimes it takes awhile, but as an ancient Arab expression goes, revenge is sweetest when well aged.

Sunday, May 4

A nostalgic trip

I just finished watching a wonderful television show, Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music, on the Turner Classic Movies channel. It was made in 1965, and still amazes me with its production values. I left broadcast television in 1961, and am pretty aware of what was possible back then. Color cameras were behemoths; at our station our RCA color camera with its wheeled pedestal weighed, according to the engineering staff, over 1,500 pounds, 680 kilograms! It took two people to operate—one, the camera operator aimed and focused, the other person (me) operated the big annular steel ring that steered and made the camera raise and lower. Chock full of screaming hot vacuum tubes, this beast could heat a two-story house. One of my main jobs was to keep the three garden-hose-sized cables that connected the camera to the control room from getting under the pedestal as the camera moved across the floor. Once, I missed. An enormous blue-white flash and acrid white smoke accompanied with a sound like a gunshot blew out from under the pedestal and burned a copper-and-carbon mark in the floor that would remain to this day if the studio hadn’t been torn down and replaced with a McDonald’s. It almost set fire to my argyle socks, and I now proudly owned a copper plated left shoe! Wish I still had that shoe.

On the Sinatra show the cameras swooped and soared up and down as if they were weightless. Amazing! But still he was tethered by a nice fat cord coming from the microphone; wireless mikes were still to come. A friend of mine from those days told me of being at one of Sinatra’s recording sessions in Hollywood. He said Frank came in and sang all the songs on the album in one take. Period. Then he went home. What a pro!

Saturday, May 3

Afraid of heights?

A friend forwarded this link to a video that will have you holding onto your chair with your legs turning to tingling rubber. It is a stroll along a walkway pinned to vertical walls through a canyon in Spain. The walkway was probably enough to terrify anyone who took it when it was brand new over a hundred years ago. Now, without maintenance, it is simply terrifying. The following background accompanied the video:

“El Caminito del Rey (The King’s pathway) is a walkway, now fallen into disrepair, pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Malaga, Spain. The name is often shortened to El Camino del Rey.

“History: In 1901 it was obvious that the workers of the Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls needed a walkway to cross between the falls, to provide transport of materials, vigilance and maintenance of the channel. Construction of the walkway lasted four years. It was finished in 1905. In 1921 the king Alfonso XIII had to cross the walkway for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Guadalhorce, and it became known by its present name.

“The walkway has now gone many years without maintenance, and is in a highly deteriorated and dangerous state. It is one meter in width over a 700-meter fall, and over time it has lost its handrail. Some parts of the walkway have completely collapsed and have been replaced by a beam and a metallic wire on the wall. Many people have lost their lives on the walkway in recent years. After four people died in two accidents in 1999 and 2000, the local government closed the entrances. However, adventurous tourists still find their way into the walkway.”

Not this adventurous tourist, you can bet for sure! Click here to see it, and remember: You’ve been warned! Thanks for the tip, Marguerite!

Friday, May 2


End road work? Why? End poverty, hunger, war, badd grammer and speling. But not road work. What makes these signs even more strange, they’re put up by the people who actually work in road construction! Are they trying to eliminate their own jobs?

Thursday, May 1

What if…?

I was just wondering…what if all these little critters were males instead of females? Would they be called uncles?

Ha ha. You know things are pretty dull when I have to revert to abysmally bad puns. But today was a day of unloading two cubic yards (1.5 cubic meters) of ground-up tree (mulch) onto our olive trees, which is hardly anything to write about. We will need another five or six yards to finish the job, it seems. Tomorrow is another day of visiting our two big cities: Oakhurst and Fresno. In Oakhurst Karla will get her coiff refurbed. In Fresno I’ll pick up a GPS unit so we can navigate the complexities of the San Francisco Bay Area in order to attend a memorial service on Saturday, then find our way back home. Or we could buy a map. Naah.

When I return to Oakhurst from Fresno, I pick up another two yards of mulch. Man oh man. When will the excitement end? I can hardly stand it.