Friday, October 31

Tomorrow we put on the big show

After literally months of preparation, tomorrow night, starting at 5PM is the test. We have combed through literally thousands of pieces of paper: photographs, letters, documents and an enormous amount of ephemera to put together about eighteen minutes of video for presentation to roughly 275 people who will be gathering to enjoy a wonderful meal, very fine wines, and root beer floats for dessert in Fresno. It should be raining which will add some excitement. People will be coming from far and wide — Hawaii is so far the farthest, but Texas, Wisconsin, Maine and even Oakhurst will be represented.

A video made by the Central Sierra Historical Society will be excerpted and shown. It will be a wonderful tribute to Adeline Smith and her family.

I hope I don’t blow my lines; there are some really good jokes to be told. I promise to stay away from the bar so I stay sharp. But after the show, I just might have a beer.

Thursday, October 23

Dumn sientists

As I dashed through my morning email, I stopped to look at this video showing the stickiness of an adhesive made of carbon nanotubes. It is designed to mimic the toes of a gecko, which are about as sticky as you get and re-usable, too.

The captioning on the video, which was produced by Science Magazine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was rather disappointing. Look for the words sticked and continueous.


Wednesday, October 22

We’re gonna have a really big show!

A want ad from 1945 in the Dallas Morning News drew Karla’s dad to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He was fresh out of the Army Air Forces Band, the Second World War had ended, and it was time to pursue his passion, music. By the time he left, he was the orchestra’s librarian, its first horn, and had an offer from the Dallas school system to be its music education chief.

This picture is part of a fast-moving slide show we are putting together for presentation on November 1 in honor of Karla’s mom, Adeline. So far we have selected well over 200 pictures, several pieces of music, and a passionate reading by Karla of a letter from Camilla, her older sister, thanking her parents for immersing her in an honorable belief system.

It is a project I am involved in clear up to my earlobes. Perhaps to my scalp, whether there’s hair there or not. It is a matter of learning to use programs that I have never even opened on the computer. Editing music, scanning and tweaking pictures, some from almost a century ago, and trying to put things in a sensible order to present them to the viewers. It is a real challenge to produce an honest portrayal of someone’s life when that person isn’t at your side saying, “Well, it wasn’t really that way, but go ahead anyway; it makes a good story.”

The 275 people signed up to be at the memorial (so far) are in for a treat.

Friday, October 17

Sorry to be so spotty as a blogger

For the next couple of weeks I will be up to my elbows in thousands of pictures that I have to scan into the computer, re-size, clean up from all the dust spots, and balance for color and other things. Then I have to put them in order, decide how long they will be on-screen, and somehow make musical accompaniment work with them. The result will be a maybe-ten-to-fifteen-minute-long presentation for the memorial we’re having for Karla’s mom on November 1.
This is in addition to feeding the cat, the ravens, the horses, and the snake that scared the bejeebers out of Karla this morning when it plopped onto the floor in one of the bathrooms while she was combing her hair.

It was odd; I was turning in my swivel chair to move a photo from where it was to the scanner. I heard an odd squeal. “I’m going to have to oil the swivel,” I thought to myself. Then Karla came into the room saying “There’s a SNAKE in the BATHROOM!” Goodness gracious, I thought, how could a snake get into this house? Ha ha. I went after it, a gopher snake, which hissed and struck out like he really didn’t like me. He had crawled into a cabinet beneath the wash basin and wasn’t about to be caught. After several attempts to snare him/her, I saw it slink into a hole where recovery would be impossible without tearing out the wall. Good riddance.

Karla is now using the other bathroom exclusively.

Wednesday, October 15


Eating at a Chinese restaurant is taking on enigmatic overtones. Karla and I traveled to Madera to buy some horse feed. Being hungry, we patronized the Downtown Buffet, a place I had gone to several times when I was serving jury duty on a murder trial. It is entirely run by people who seem to have just arrived from China. Good food, and when you’re finished, a fortune cookie. Karla got a normal one, wishing her good luck or some other pap. Mine, shown above, is keeping me awake at nights. Are the Chinese developing an arcane sense of humor? Or do they simply not “get” the English language?

Sunday, October 12

Love at first kiss

Robot vacuum cleaner, meet robot mop. Actually the blue beast is a floor scrubber, but I pick nit. I wish this were a movie since when the two collided, they sashayed around each other almost endlessly. Like two dogs, we had to separate them with a blast from the garden hose. Heh heh.

Friday, October 10


Yesterday evening Hilary delivered a new critter, a very large mule that she says “takes up too much real estate” at their riding stable in Furnace Creek. He has a slight hitch in his git-along, a problem with his left hind hock. Not that he’s a broken down old nag; Ben used to hold the World Champion Single Hitch title. That means he was really good at pulling a wagon by himself. He also put in some time as one of the members of the team pulling the famous 20-Mule-Team Borax wagon in Death Valley.

Perhaps Ben can pull some logs around at the high ranch, where lack of wildfire for probably a hundred years has caused parts of the place to get overgrown with lodgepole pines, to the point of being hazardous. He responds well to the commands gee and haw, and can even sidestep after hearing repeated gees or haws. Pretty clever.

How big is Ben? Just shy of 19 hands. That’s 3.592 Egyptian Royal Cubits or 1.03 fathoms.

Wednesday, October 8

Ten-dollar apple

Ten dollars seems a lot for an apple, but when you multiply it by four and figure that we got four apples for about $41 worth of gasoline, that’s not bad. We spent eight hours driving 228 miles, of which 60 miles were bad road that probably took a toll on the car, so I guess $41 isn’t quite accurate. October 7 is Karla’s birthday. To celebrate we drove to Florence Lake and went to our secret apple tree and picked the apples. To be nice to the birds and bears, we left many more apples on the tree. Oh, yeah, we also opened the store and retrieved some important accounting records that were somehow forgotten when the store was closed for the season.

And I got to have a nice high Sierra venue for presenting Karla with a gorgeous aquamarine and diamond bauble I managed to buy without her knowledge. She loved it.

Sunday, October 5

Got money to burn?

Too bad we can’t put parachutes or something on some of the expensive hardware we shoot off into orbit. This is the European Space Agency’s Jules Verne ATV, which I guess means automated transfer vehicle. It delivered a cargo to the International Space Station and hung around for awhile, then was jettisoned and after a couple of de-orbit burns, came down in a lot of tiny, hot pieces over the Pacific Ocean. A NASA plane followed along and got this movie.

Credit: ESA/NASA