Sunday, December 30, 2007

Picky Little Peckers

   When I moved to my new room I hung a bird feeder outside my sliding door to the courtyard.  It was a type that had attracted dozens of finches when I was living in Hesperia, CA.  But here in Merced, not one bird has come near it.  Why?

   I put some in an elevated bird bath.  No takers.

   So I spread wild bird seed on the bare ground and a few LBJ (Little Brown Jobs, chickadees, I am told) came and pecked cautiously at them. 

   Next I spread more seed, this time throwing it under bushes and trees. This time lots of little birds came.  It is tough to be a little bird. You don't dare feed anywhere in the open.  I guess they are afraid of bigger birds, or cats, or humans.  They will only feed where they can remain mostly out of sight.  They are picky where they peck.

PERSONAL OBSERVATION: I have been told that only hummingbirds can fly backwards. Not so.  Finches and bigger birds do too, When finches were feeding from a hanging feeder, the would approach, hover, and drive off whatever bird had perched on the feeder, and would fly backwards when perched bird refused to move. It aint graceful, but it does the trick.

Passing into New Year

   Everyone should have something deep and philosophical to end a year.

   It was a good year, because I got through it.  When I was a young man and all the years started with 19, I looked forward, and decided I just MIGHT make it to see the year 2000.  How wonderful, I thought.

   I programmed myself to reach 2000. 

   Then 2000 came..and WENT.  I had no program beyond that.  I felt a little lost. What was my scenario for this subsequent years?  I have spent them all living in an old folks home.  Here I live my life, investing in tiny little projects like playing the harmonica, keeping a blog, smelling the roses.  I eat and sleep and grouse about the limitations of old age

   For 2008 I resolve to find SOMETHING exciting to do, a project that makes use of my wisdom and sense of humor, and love of music and art. (I love 'em, even though I am amateurish.)  I will write a book or a play, or paint a masterpiece, or compose a sonata (or jingle of some kind),

   I will sleep eight hours a day, seven at night and one in the afternoon.  I will eat sensibly and lose weight (oh, yeah), exercise on a stationary bike, or maybe a real three wheeler. I will write, write, write. 

   And what I can't do myself, I will inspire and encourage others to do.  My son-in-law needs to get those Christmas records on the market. Wandering Dave will be home from his trip and needs a kick in the butt to get started on his next career. Grand kids need encouragement. Everybody at the old folks home needs cheering up. The management of the old folks home needs to settle down to the business of assisted living.

   Hillary will need guidance, as will our senators and congressman, but maybe I'm looking too far ahead...I have to get them all elected first.

   There will be Valentines to deliver, Easter eggs to color, fireworks to ignite, and rainbows to be painted.

   A busy time ahead.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Keep Dancin'

   Keep Movin'.  Don't stand still, or they'll get you.  And don't turn your back.

   I looked out my courtyard door today and.... whoa.  Our favorite yellow rosebush, Jude, had been cut off at the knees.  She had been cut back to three feet in height. 

   Alas.  And yet, I know it was the right thing to do.  It is COLD out there, and she'll sprout again in least, Twiggy did this year.

   The cuttings lay on the ground and I wheeled out and saved some for a friend's garden.  Now Jude will have off-spring to beautify other parts of Merced, our town.

Conseptual Art II

   I wanted a project or two to spice up life at the old folks home. 

   What if I set up my laptop, camera, and printer somewhere for free portraits.  Residents sit in a chair, I focus the digital camera on them and snap, and show the results on the laptop screen.  If it is a pose they like, I press PRINT and here comes a copy.

   What if I make an award of some kind for people who do kindnesses for others.  A huge poster saying something like "THANK YOU, EARL, FOR PUSHING WHEEL CHAIRS TO THE DINING ROOM."  It might say, 'THANK YOU, MARY, FOR HELPING SET UP THE MUSIC ROOM FOR OUR VOLUNTEER PIANO PLAYER." Or even, "THANK YOU, KAY, FOR LOOKING SO GOOD AND RAISING OUR SPIRITS."


Things I Take for Granted

   Thank you, Society, for the things I can take for granted. People have not always had these wonderful conveniences.

   Light at the touch of a button, or in my case, the clap of my hands.  No need to fumble in the dark for a match to light a candle. I even have a back up, a couple of flashlights within reach.

   Shelter and warmth.  I set my comfort level and forget it.  I recently upped my comfort level from 73 75 F.  Baby, it's cold outside...but not in here.  And I don't have to shovel any coal into the furnace.

   Hot or Cold water right in my room.  Thirsty?  Put a cup under the tap and voila! Hot water or cold.  Did I forget to mention a microwave for my tea or coffee or cocoa in a minute?

   Human waste disposal at the touch of a lever.  Off it goes to I know not where, and I am have a fresh white receptacle for the next use. Children wonder as they learn to press the lever and say, "There goes the poo."  But I take this convenience for granted.

   Instant communication with friends, family, paramedics.  Telephone, cell-phone, email...I love 'em all. Never out of touch. I have an hour long visit with Cousin Bertha every morning...and she's in Texas, two thousand miles away. 

   Quick pain reliefTummy ache, headache?  I have a choice of aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen all within an arm's reach.

   Food.  No, I don't remember ever feeling really hungry.  Food is always within reach. I have crackers in the cupboard, muffins and sandwich in the fridge, and fresh oranges on a tree just outside my room. 

   Is this a great age, or what.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ham Hawks?

The staff of the old folks home is willing and able, and bit dyslexic.

Notice on todays menu:  Pinto Beans and Ham Hawks.

Holiday schedule included a Staff Christmas Pride at 2 PM. At 2 PM I was startled to see the staff parade by my door.

Residents may not be much better with linguistics.  One resdent was helping prepare the bulletin board and declared she had to "Rat the Bird before we wash the Momenites."  I translated that to mean she had to write on the board before we could watch the Mennonite Choir.


Thinking Caps Please

I need an idea for a conceptual art project for the Old Folks Home where I live.  Christmas is past, and we are about to grow stale. No one likes stale old people.

Conceptual Art can be anything inspirational, and unusual is better.  Think of Christo and his hundreds of umbrellas dotting the hillside, or his arches in Central Park, or his miles long Running Wall of Muslin.  Totally useless, except as an art project. 

A New York artist conceived the idea of having a crowd of viewers gather on his Manhattan rooftop one morning to watch for his conceptual art.  When they had gathered they noted at a woman had come onto a rooftop of a neighboring building and begun hula hooping.  Then another appeared on another building, hula hooping, and then another on a third. The hoopers kept appearing on various rooftops until twenty were visible, all hooping merrily. 

That's conceptual art.

Now, what in the world can I do at the old folks home?  I have already done Mudpuddle Art.  Thinking caps please.  We need an inspiration.


                     An example of conceptual art

Monday, December 24, 2007

Glamour Girls

Because you may need something to do when you become bored with Christmas story re-runs on television... a re-run of my own...


Female film stars of the early years were known as “Glamour Girls” for their fabulous make up and styles. Can you name the film star from the brief statement about her?.

Left click your mouse and run the cursor over the question to reveal the answer.

Was called “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Picford

Was the “it” girl and appeared in Wings with Buddy Rogers and Richard Arlen. Clara Bow

Originated the “vamp” style seductress. Theda Bara

Said “come up and see me sometime” Mae West

Gave up an academy award winning career to have and affair with an Italian film producer. Ingrid Bergman

Was the original “hot lips” in the filmed version of M*A*S*H. Sally Kellerman

Was “hot lips” in the television version of M*A*S*H. Loretta Swit

Said “Fasten your seat belts, it‘s going to be a bumpy night.” Bette Davis

Sang with Nelson Eddy. Jeanette MacDonald

Insured her legs for a million dollars. Betty Grable

Had lavender eyes and was married eight times. ElizabethTaylor

Was known for her “look” though hair covered one eye. Veronica Lake

Glamorous image was shattered in tell all book Mommy Dearest. Joan Crawford

Loved horses so was comfortable with role in Big Valley. Barbara Stanwyck

Married all-star Yankee Joe DiMaggio Marilyn Monroe

Died in a horrible auto crash Jayne Mansfield

Starred in “It Happened One Night” with Clark Gable Claudette Colbert

Had a child by Clark Gable Loretta Young

Clark Gable didn’t give a “damn” about her. Vivian Leigh as Scarlet O’Hara

After her film career, became the First Lady Nancy Davis

Played wife of William Powell in The Thin Man Myrna Loy

Was taught to fly by Howard Hughes Kathryn Hepburn

Had a brassiere designed by Howard Hughes Jane Russell

Her curious French nude scene made news when nude actresses were still news. Brigitte Bardot

Her nude run through the woods brought her to Hollywood Hedy Lamarr

Went on the road with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope Dorothy Lamour

She wanted to be alone Greta Garbo.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tempramental Printers

I don't understand printers.  Now my printer is in a snit.

My old printer would go berserk if you tried to cancel a printing order. It wouldn't work if you stopped a page while it was working on it.  Instead it would run reams of paper printing one line of gibberish on each page, thus spoiling it for any use except scratch paper.

Now the new printer goes on strike if you let it run out of paper. At least the old printer would stop and wait for more paper. This one goes bananas and wont do ANYTHING even though you have restocked the paper supply.

What makes these machines so human? They get their feelings hurt, and they are not fit for anything. 

On television last night I saw a lady hurl a printer off a second floor balcony. It did my heart good.  I know just how she felt.

Later.  I got it going and ordered one copy of a document.  It gave me FIVE, of the WRONG DOCUMENT.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Beast of Burden - or- Trojan Horse

When I was twenty-one, my family was "into horses".  They had three or more, and their friends and they went riding every week end.  I was just home out of the service and I would have liked to join such a congenial crowd. BUT... I knew practically nothing about horses.

A horse is ten times the size of the person who rides him, guides him, is his master.  If the horse knew how, he could be the master of the human. But people who know how easily control that beast. You can fool a horse by pretending to know how... for a while.  Sooner or later the horse "catches on" than you are faking.  And if he wants, he takes over.

My family wanted me to join the social circle of horsey people, and I was willing.  So they put ME on a HORSE.  Right on top, as though I knew what I was doing. And we went on a week end social ride.

All went well for a while, until the horse discovered that I was just a puny human hanging on, not controlling. At a crucial point in the ride, he wanted to do his own thing, and he did.  He ran.

And he ran until HE decided to stop.  My "whoa" and pulls on the reins, nor my cursing did nothing. He had the bit in his teeth and I was merely hanging on.  When he tired of the game he stopped.  The rest of the group caught up with me with lots of advice on how to control a horse.

I don't remember if I finished that ride or not, but mostly after that I stayed off horses. I learned to fly a plane and pilot a boat, but the horse had won his battle of wits with me.  I am NOT smarter than a horse.

What brings this memory to mind?  My computer.  This morning the computer took the bit its teeth and ran away. For nearly half an hour, when I wanted to do one thing, it wanted to do another.  And so it did ITS thing. It downloaded files that I have never heard of, from someplace I have no idea where.  No amount of computer "whoa" would stop it. Not delete/control, not escape, not Start/turn off. Cursing did not bother it either. I could have killed it by pulling the plug, but I figured, that like the horse, it would behave once it tired of the game.

After twenty-five minutes, it settled down into normal routines. I am NOT smarter than my computer.  But I out-weigh it. We labor on, and I drive it warily.  Sooner or later it will take off again. I know it is just a matter of time.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Growing Younger - (Toward Infancy)

I thought I would hate it but now I appreciate it.  When they began the policy here at the old folks home, of checking on us every two hours at night, looking in to see if we are in our beds and not on the floor, or worse.

I thought I would resent "Big Brother" opening my door, doing a "bed check", at 12, 2, and 4 am. (Well, 12:15, 2:15, and 4:15, because it takes the caregiver at least fifteen minutes to get to my room on his rounds.)But now I look forward to it.  Now it seems like a friendly gesture, a bit maternal.  Mommy is peeking to see if I am all right... for I have become, a great big, whiskered, wrinkled infant. 

For instance, last night I slept in my easy chair. I become more congested with this darn cold when I lie down, so I sat up, all night and tried sleeping in my recliner. From the chair I cannot see the clock, and oh, how slowly the night creeps by. In the dark, unable to tell what time it is, I really looked forward to the caregiver's peeking in. 

I wave, and he asks if I am all right, and I say yes.  The infant in me is soothed. I can face another long lonely two hours in the dark.

Maybe I can train him to give me a pat on the head as well.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Deal -- or No Deal

Deal or No Deal has got to be the silliest program on television.

And yet...

I watch it every chance I get.  I love to see those simpletons defy the laws of logic and reason, and gamble away hundreds of thousands of dollars on a slim chance, one in twenty five, of winning a million dollars.

The producer gives them a bushel basket full of money, and they happily throw it away.

Last night the contestant had been given $110,000 and gambled it away.  She ended with $1000.  
Well, that is a thousand dollars she didn't have before the show started.  That is a thousand dollars for playing a game for an hour.  Not a bad reward.
But, oh, the thought that you threw away all that money on a the toss of a coin.

That's entertainment.

Solitary Confinement

This is the third day I have been confined to my room with a cold. I am going "stir crazy".

Getting over a cold takes one week if  take cold remedies. Otherwise it takes seven days.

In case you didn't "get" that joke, it means I'll have to sit in here for several more days, no matter what I do.

I have played dozens of games of gin rummy against my computer, as well as dozens of games of "Racko" I am abut 50-50 match for the computer in gin rummy, and about the same in "two opponent Racko" and can hold my own when the computer plays three hands against me.

I have the computer skill set for "master", since it would be no accomplishment to beat a "beginner".  I wonder how the programmer makes the computer play like a beginner?  Did he built in some bone head plays. 

Furthermore, if I play enough hands of cards to learn the proper algorithm, the one the computer uses to beat me, will I lose interest in the game.  If you always win, it is no fun.  And if you always lose, as I do in chess against the computer, that is no fun either.

Bingo is a staple in old folks homes, but I have lost most of my interest in that too.  Who wants to sit and hear a caller read from a list of random numbers? Well, actually, she draws numbered balls at random, but that is the same as staring at a list of random numbers. 

A friend once paid me a compliment.  He noted that I was interested in so many diverse things and he said,"You'll never be bored."

He should see me now.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Day (or two) Late

A few days before Dave Burke (<- Link to check him out) started on his meandering year long trip around the perimeter of the United States, he came to my room to see if we could invent a theme song for his use on his Pod-casts.

We noodled around for a while but came up with nothing definitive.  I am not sure he ever found one, nor whether he is keeping up the pod casts at all.  I believe he said he had abandoned them.

Yesterday I was idling some time at the keyboard and punched in a catchy bouncy hillbilly rhythm and seemed to go just fine for a home spun travelogue.  Then I assumed the role of Dave in a voice-over introduction: "Hi, I'm Dave Burke, and I'm traveling around the United States meeting lots of friendly folks.  Here's what I did yesterday..."  And the music continues in the background and imaginary Dave tells what he observed. 

"Hey, Dave," I thought, "I've got it...just the very thing for your podcast."

But then I remembered, Dave's already on his way home. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cat on a Quilt

Krissy in Sometimes I Think, tells about her "healing cat" on her bed. Check it out.  But my cat on the bed story is different.

I had a cat trying to snuggle up to me on my bed in the complete darkness, lying on top of the satin quilt.  Rather than being pleased I wanted the cat off the bed.  I sat up and slid the cat to the edge of the bed.

If you have experimented with static electricity you know that cat fur and satin fabric are somehow opposite polarity, and rubbing them creates an electric differential that sparks.

As I slid the cat across the quilt, I was astounded to see a complete outline of the cat in blue flame. The cat didn't seem to mind the electric discharge, but she did mind having to get off the bed.

I laughed so hard at the phenomenon that I had trouble going back to sleep.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Month is a Day in the Life of an African Violet

   The title up there has little to do with this entry, except that is shows how weird my thinking is at five thirty am after a rare whole night's sleep.

   I lie in bed, and I clap my light on with my new "clapper" audio light switch, and I look around my room, and I realize that it is my "world" now.  The Earth was once my world, but now my limitations have shrunk my territory.  My world is a wheel chair, in one  room, in an old folks institution, in a medium sized county, in a state within a country.  It stops there, I do not have a pass port like my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. Well, it IS is the grandest state in the grandest country...that's pretty big, and my wheel chair world is pretty small.

Outside I have a car that I used to drive, and the family heirlooms and my household stuff is in a storage locker nearby. What a weird world, and what weird thoughts to reflect upon.

Once my world was wider.  I owned an airplane and the sky was mine, and I owned a boat which was on the Pacific Ocean, the largest of the oceans, and the wide world was mine.  I once lived in a condo with a deck and a dock.  I could go down to the edge of the dock and dip my fingers in the Pacific Ocean, and thereby be connected with water that had flowed the world over, touching all the continents, and through rivers to all the lands of the world.  I was touching water that had been ice in Antarctica and at the North Pole. I was touching water that has been in contact with Captain Cook, Amelia Earhart, the Santa Maria, and the Titanic.  I was everywhere.

   Did I say this entry was weird?  That doesn't tell the half of it. I was "under the weather" with a bellyache yesterday, and confined to my room for most of the day. I didn't even do a "virtual" mile or two on the stationary bike. My world was room. And yet, there are folks herewhose world is smaller...they have to share a room.  Their world is HALF a room. 

   My world once was big.  When I was learning to fly, my first "cross country" flight was to San Diego and back from Los Angeles.  My instructor asked me on my return if I had any trouble navigating from San Diego to Los Angeles. 

  "No," I said, "I kept North America under my right wing and the Pacific Ocean under my left wing until I came to a huge city, and there I was."

   While boating in the fog one day I came upon a fisherman who said, "I'm lost."

   "No, you're not.  Go east until you come to California."  My world was once larger.

   By the way, navigating in the fog is an emotional experience.  Your world is about a hundred feet in diameter.  It is spooky.  The land is gone, you are alone. And you expected a freighter or speed boat to come charging into your world at any moment. I once impressed a lady passenger who was a day sailor herself, by navigating out into that scary fog-world, and then, using my watch and a compass, bringing us right back through the mist to the harbor entrance.  She was impressed, as was I. 

   That is enough rambling.  It is morning, and it will be daylight in half an hour.  My world will be expanding to take in the dining room for breakfast, and maybe even Starbucks for mid-morning coffee.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Before When

What started the universe?   The concept "It has always been. It had no beginning." is inconcieveable.

And if there was a beginning, what was before that?

And if you say God, or some unnamed force or entity, created it, where was God, or that force, before the universe was created?

It boggles the mind, but I just got called to breakfast. I can think about pancakes instead of the universe.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thank You Gillian Gibbons

Thank you, Gillian Gibbons, for showing us just how dangerous the schism between the rational world and the irrational world is.  You are a lot more tolerant than I. You said you don't want your experience "to put anyone off going to Sudan "

Cancel my tickets to Sudan.

It looks like a horrible confrontation is coming.

LOLI (Laughing Out Loud Ironically) Let's pray that it isn't.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

NaBloPoMo Summary

NaBloPoMo is over.  Last month was National Blog Posting Month.  I didn't post every day but I posted 35 entries, so I think I qualify. I did my part in filling the Internet with drivel (Dribble).

A "dribble" is "a drip going steady."


Chuck Savies Up

I am improving.  On a weekly news quiz a few weeks ago I got one out of twenty correct.  The following week I got three correct.  Today I got nne right. 

My grade is now up to D-minus.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Not Just a Gasbag

Art, Garett108, asks what is the difference between a Blimp and a Zeppelin.

A Blimp is limp. It is a bag of air with a helium balloon inside.  The Blimp has an air scoop to keep it filled with air when it is flying.  When it is parked it needs a blower to keep it inflated. It has no framework to hold its shape.

A Zeppelin is a dirigible, having a rigid frame to hold the covering. Inside the Zeppelin are bags of hydrogen.

The Blimp goes up and down by changing the air pressure inside the bag of air.  If it increases the air pressure, it squeezes the helium into a smaller space and makes it less buoyant, and the Blimp goes down.  If it decreases the air pressure, the helium expands, become more buoyant and the Blimp goes up.

The Zeppelin goes up by dropping ballast, usually water, and becoming lighter than air.  I don't know how it comes down.  It is a good thing I am not driving a Zeppelin because we would have to stay up there.  Maybe they valve off hydrogen, it is cheaper than helium.

You didn't ask, but a hot air balloon is an airbag too, like a Blimp, using a blower to get filled up.  Then a propane burner heats the air and it becomes more buoyant and rises.  As the air cools the balloon comes down and the burner is lit to warm the air and keep the balloon up.  If you were taught not to play with fire, you wouldn't like flying a hot air balloon.  You cant steer a hot air balloon and you go where it wants to go which is whichever way the wind is blowing. I rode in a hot air balloon once but it was securely tethered to a winch which kept us from blowing away and and which brought us safely back to earth at the same spot from which we started.

I think soaring would be the most fun of all.  In soaring you use rising air currents to  keep you aloft.  I have flown a sail plane for about fifteen minutes.  We used a tow plane to tow us into the air, then we cut loose and glided.  It was quiet and smooth and fun. We had no air currents to keep us aloft so we merely glided back to airport and landed.

Birds fly because they have hollow bones and feathers. We could probably fly too if we had hollow bones.

Bees are aerodynamically incapable of flight, but they don't know that, so they keep flying anyway.

I hope I have answered your question.


I Promised You a Rose Garden - Full Cycle

   Yesterday was the day. All the roses in the rose garden got cut back to about fourteen inches, for the winter.  That includes Twiggy.  We started following the Twiggy life cycle last February, when she was just a twig in the ground, and watched her grow, bloom, and re-bloom, and keep blossoming until yesterday 

   I didn't know it was going to happen.  I went out to the rose garden, and there was no garden there.  Just a stubble. It was a shock, and a bit depressing, but I know they'll be back and blooming next April.  I have the pictures to prove it.

   Jude, being on the inside courtyard, escaped the bushwhacker. She is blooming outside my door right now.

   Today I'll go and take the final picture in the Twiggy saga.



   Carlene asks "What was it like riding in a Blimp?"

   It was 73 yeas ago I was only 8, and I had never flown in anything before so my memory of that flight are hazy by some things remain.

   First.  You don't go up.  The ground goes down away from you. You stay the same, but objects on the ground around you, cars people, houses, get smaller.  People look like ants and cars look like toys, and you see the tops of houses, like model village.

   Second. I was able to navigate, or at least know where I was.  I looked out the picture window, you;re sitting in a lounge chair in front of a huge picture window, and I could follow streets with my eye right by to my block, miles away.  Of course Grandfather was sitting next to me and pointing things out.  The Blimp used to land in a lot next to the corner of La Brea and Wilshire in Los Angeles, just west of the La /Brea tar pits. With our eyes we could follow Wilshire Blvd to the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd, and follow Santa Monica to Pandora Street, and Pandora two blocks to Holman Ave. It was too far to pick out our house but I knew right where it was.

   I used to use this technique, following streets by eye, when flying my own airplane forty years later.

   The third impression that remains is the huge elevator control , the up and down wheel, that is beside the pilot's chair. I remember its being on the pilots left side, but pictures of blimps nowadays seem to show it on his right, between the pilot and co pilot.  Maybe the Volunteer had only one driver's seat.

   Of course I have been fond of Blimps ever since.  They are huge ungainly things, made gaudy by advertising signs. They are slow and require a large ground crew and can carry only a few passengers at a time./They are completely impractical in the twentieth century.

   I guess that makes them an Art Form.

   The story of Blimps is told wonderfully by former pilots and by the Goodyear Company on the Internet

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Am I Old?

Am I old?

I watched a movie at the first-ever drive-in movie.  I don't remember what the film was.  The drive-in was in West Los Angeles. They didn't even have car speakers.  The sound came from a huge loudspeaker on top of the screen.  People who lacked the admission price could park on a hill behand the theater and watch for free.

I rode in the fourth-ever Goodyear Blimp.  It was the Volunteer and they used to sell rides to the public.  It was a treat for my eighth birthday.

I saw televsion demonstrated in my Junior High in 1938. They had to darken the auditorium so we could see it.  The television camera hadn't been invented yet, so they transmitted the picture from a "flying spot" transmitter.  Look that up on Google.

I have had a computer since 1979.

There were no cam-corders, so aome friends and I made a high-school newsreel on a Keystone 8mm movie camera. We showed it in the auditorium and charged a dime. We made back the cost of the film on editions one and two, but we lost money on the third and the manager of the student store cancelled our project. It was a great run while it lasted.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Orange Tree

It would drive you Easterners wild. In my almost-private courtyard is a huge orange tree, loaded with huge ripe oranges. And nobody picks 'em.

Most are too high for the senior residents to reach. So where does the kitchen staff get the oranges they serve in the dining room? The store.  It is easier.

So these gorgeous oranges go to waste.  They hang tantalizingly on the tree until they are too ripe to hold on. Then the fall into the courtyard, but it by then it is too late to enjoy them. The gardener scoops them up and throws them away

I enjoy the few I can reach fron my wheel chair.  It is a treat to have an orange tree of my very own, for my personal use.

Envy me, I relish in it.

December Blues

   Dave Burke, Wandering Dave, has given me the assignment of trying to keep him from having the December Blues while he is on the road this Christmas.  I accept the challenge.

   I won't be easy. The Christmas season has already started on television and in the malls and discount houses. This first week after Thanksgiving featured dozens of sitcoms trotting out their Christmas special re-runs. It can only get worse as December rolls on.  The specials are all written so they can have heart warming sentimental emotonal tags. Fine. But long before Christmas actually gets here our hearts are not warmed... they are warmed over.  Like the Thanksgiving turkey. Sentiment goes stale.

   Adding to the difficulty of keeping Dave fresh and up-beat during the season is the fact that I get a little "down" myself. Today, nothing seemed right. It was little things that bugged me, but they seemed to bunch up.

   My wheel chair jammed on a shoe, my tablemate is absent from the table for the fourth day, my table is protruding into the aisle today, other wheel chairs block the aisle, and worst of all. the menu consisted of chicken, again, and pasta, again, and green beans, again. Petty? Yes, I am.  Today.

   When you find yourself cranky and bothered by little "nothings", blame it on the December Blues.

   So, Dave, we have to begin by acknowledging that the things that are bothering us this next month are little things, and then finding the cheerfult thangs to rejoice in.  If our hearts are warmed-over instead of warmed, then we rejoice because they are being warmed and not attacked. Who would want a heart attack at Christmas? 

   We can learn to think like kids again, and love the excitment. Weren't those days beautiful? If the gift you find in your stocking is dreadful, look around.  There's a pony somewhere.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Living in a Virtual World

I seem to be living in a virtual world these days.  As I exercise I goad myself to reach my daily goal with virtual rewards. I imagine I will reap some benefit if I make "four" miles on the rowing machine.  I am not really "rowing" and my reward is not real eithers.

Furthermore, I dream about walking again, and that makes me feel like I have really been walking.  My latest walking adventure I have posted in the Dream Depository

Wake up, Chuck.

Uncle Sam Wants to Know -- What's Wrong with Chuck

Since I was passing the Social Security Office, I thought I would "drop in" and change my address. SillyBoy, you do not drop in to any government office.  There was a waiting room filled with people. On my scooter I wended my way through a crowd, a citizen in a power chair like mine having to move so I could scooter through.

I told the recotionist, "I'd like to change my address."

"What day do you get your check," he asked.

"I don't get a check. I just want to update my Social Security file."

"You don't get a check," he asked in disbelief.  Here was a room filled with people who get checks, or want to get checks, or whose checks are missing, and now... here came an odd ball who doesn't get a check.

There must be something wrong with him.

I didn't tell him I get my check from the Veterans' Administration.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Yesterday I added one tenth of a mile to the distance "rowed" the day before. I am up to 3.1 miles on the stationary bicycle/rowing machine. I try to add a little, just a little, to each day's endurance.

After a week of regular exercise and eating less, I am down one pound. "One pound" I hear you ask. That's is less than one-half a percent.

At least it is change in the right direction.


The AOL welcome screen invited me to try Bingo on AOL Games. So I did..

The screen showed a Bingo card and the computer began announcing the calls out loud. "B-11, N-38..." it called, and on and on.  I attempted to mark my Bingo card and play the game, no luck.  Couldn't mark the card.

"Never mind,:" thought I, and clicked the X in the upper right corner.

"G-51, O-70,: droned the computer, ignoring my attempt to turn it off. Left click,right click. On it went. The program wouldn't stop, so I tried to shut down AOL...left click and right click on the uppermost X.

"I-20, B-7," went the computer.

I had to shut the computer off to get it to stop. I was afraid that when I  turned it on this morning that it would begin calling Bingo numbers at me. Whew, it did not. I won't try that program again.

AOL may be trying the trick some Porno channels use...disabling the "stop" command.  Some porno channels get you into their sites and do not let you go.  In their case, I used to blame myself. "Well, that's what you get for choosing sleazy sites," I would tell myself. "What did you expect?"

But it is not what I expected from AOL.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Twentieth Century

Ah. My schedule.  11 PM to 3 AM: Bed/Sleep.  3 AM to 4 AM: Write'compute. 4 AM to 7 AM: Bed/Sleep. Seven hours sleep.  So add one more hour sleep... 1 PM to 2 PM.  Sprinkle the rest of the day with Scooting, rowing the stationary bicycle, Waiting for meals, waiting for mail, watching re-runs of Two and Half Men, and all-new Boston Legal.

Not an adventurous life, but pretty much average for old folks home.

What personal discoveries startled me in the twentieth century?  First.  The centerfold.  My mouth dropped open when I saw my first Playboy on the newsstand.  Those first issues were not even stapled shut nor wrapped in plastic bags.  You picked them up and there in the middle was a fold out picture of a woman STARK NAKED  In a magazine. On the rack. In plain sight. Incredible.

Second. The transistor. Radio shrunk to the size of a deck of cards. Ham radio walkie talkies. Only the Ham radio operators could carry their phones with them...until CB radios came and made the Hams obsolete. Every car had a CB radio, and every truck. Drive into a strange town, and ask for directions on your CB radio. Now your car tells you where you are, then you had to ask your friendly CBer.

Third: The computer.  First one I ever saw was at Radio Shack.  It was a TRS-80. I had to have one.  That was when my sleep cycle was first interrupted. Even before the Internet I was losing sleep to the computer.

Fourth: Bikini swim wearLife Magazine showed us our first one. Startling.  Now they are commonplace...for women AND men, for swimming and underwear. Is this a wonderful age or not?

Fifth: Streamlined automobiles.  The first streamline auto was the Chrysler Airflow.  We laughed at them. It was so far ahead of its time that it almost put Chrysler out of business. Now all autos look like the 1934 DeSoto. Have you seen the Chevy Aveo?

Sixth: Tape recording.  My first audio recorder was a Sears Silvertone Wire recorder. It was out of date almost as soon as it was made, being replaced by tape. And that was followed by videotape. As a teenager filming a high school newsreel, I longed for color movies with sound. Before the century was out I had color, sound, videocam

Failed inventions of the Twentieth Century.  3 D movies. Topless swim wear. Flying automobiles. Eight track stereo

Four AM... I can go back to bed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Is This the Twenty-first Century, or Not?

Welcome to the Twenty-first Century, Chuck.

For the first time I noticed, my cell phone has forty built-in ring tones. And I have only three names to assign them to. I even composed a ring-tone for my Grandson.  We tested it today, calling from one corner of the room to another.  It worked.  Hilarious. 

This can be a wonderful soon as I catch up with the rest of the world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dribble Fan Club

I'm like a bit player on television. I'm excited the first time somebody recognizes me in public. I'm puffed up and proud.

I was rolling down the hall in ugly baggy shorts, without hearing aids, on my way home from the exercise room (I rowed three miles today, thank you,) and passed fellow resident Doris, sitting in hall with a visitor, and she mentioned my name.

"You're Chuck Ferris?" He introduced himself and said, "I read your Dribble. I read David Burke's blog, and sometimes I click on yours." Even without hearing aids I heard that.

Wow, I must be on Dave's sidebar, and, oh oh, I haven't put him on mine. Sorry, Dave, I'll attend to that. I was astounded to meet a reader, and except for the "sometimes"  I was pretty puffed up.

If this keeps up, I may start a fan club.  Anyone for a Dribble T-shirt?
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Gnome, Troll, or Curmudgeon

A friend recently had movies made of his playing the piano at the Old Folks Home, and there I was playing accompaniment on my harmonica.

Trouble is, I see myself as a caricature of an old man, a codger, a rolly-polly troll, pants pulled up to his chest.  That is not how I feel.  I still feel like a teen-ager, who happens to use a wheel chair.

What do I miss most being an old curmudgeon?  Driving? Flying? Swimming? All of the above, and more than that: Romance.

And I forgot to mention Running, Hiking, Dancing, Biking and Motor-cycling. Never managed to learn to Unicycle though I tried. I did walk on stilts though.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Clap On -- Cough Off

I complained that I could not find a Clapper in any store.  My daughter, being more resourceful, found one on-line and gave it to me.  She installed it too, lying flat on the floor to get it connected. Thank you, Kate.

It is a Clapper - Plus.  Two claps controls light number one, and three claps controls light number two. Wonderful... but tricky. takes some practice to space the claps..just get a response.

Heard in my room last night:

Clap-Clap. "No.  Not you.  The other light."

And later. Cough..cough. And the light goes out.

I Promised You a Rose Garden -- Lovely Anomaly

November 21, and almost all of the over-one hundred roses in our garden our bare. Our favorite Twiggy is down to two pink blossoms, and little Tootie, by the flag pole has a few pink miniature blossoms, but LO and BEHOLD, Jude, the large bush with yellow blossoms by my courtyard door is in full bloom.

Perhaps it is just to welcome me to my new quarters, but it is grand to see such a great anomaly among the roses. Full bloom in the Winter. Wonderful.

I am not sure you can see them all in the photo but I counted ten blossoms and one bud. A bud? That means even more blooming is on the way.


          Jude, Our Yellow Rose                  Here's a better look at Jude 

Monday, November 19, 2007

Morning Star

Star bright, star light, First star I see tonight

I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.

The courtyard, onto which my new room opens, is lighted at night, but the lights are on a timer set on daylight time.  So the lights go off at 6 am while it is still dark.

I can go out in the darkness and enjoy the night sky. When the moon is in the last quarter, there is moonlight. That was not so this morning, but Venus the Morning Star was high in the sky and bright enough to penetrate the slight morning haze.

"Venus, the Morning Star," I hear you ask. "I thought Venus was the Evening Star."

And you are right.  Venus is the Evening Star, AND the Morning Star.  But not at the same time. Venus', our sister planet, orbit is inside that of Earth. So from the Earth, Venus appears to stay close to the sun. That means as Venus goes around the sun, sometimes she leads the sun when it is rising, and is the Morning star, and sometimes follows the setting sun, and is the Evening Star. In either role, she is bright and beautiful

She sure was this morning.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More Silly Signs from my Hall Door



















Friday, November 16, 2007

Google and the Rose Freak

Google you know.  That is the Internet search service which was named "google" for a reason. A googol is an integer, a whole number, followed by 100 zeros. That is a number so big it might describe a "light year" in inches. And that is the sort of the search that Google does.  It looks over the whole internet and gives you a link to EVERY site that mentions your inquiry. 

Rose Freak you know.  That is me.  I noticed a new rose plant in the garden near the flag pole. Never noted it before.  I loved the small pink blossoms and the tall towering straight stem reaching upward toward the flag above. I wondered what variety of rose it was.

I noticed that the gardener had left a tag near the base of the bush, and I tried to read it, but it was rather weathered.  I made out "miniature" but what is was a miniature of..I could not read.  I pulled the tag off, and wiped it clean. The rose is a "Tootie Miniature", and tag says it will be either 16 or 76 inches tall... I couldn't read the tag.  It is already more than three feet tall, so I guess it is going to make 76 inches before long.

"Well," said I, "I will just Google Tootie Miniature and learn about this interesting plant." And here the plot thickens.

When I googled "Tootie Miniature Rose", without using the quotation marks, Google returned a google-sized number of pages with every reference found in the Internet to Tootie AND miniature AND rose.

And Google even guessed that when I asked for Tootie, I may have meant Tootsie, and gave me links to every seller of Tootsie toys. It also gave me links to sellers of miniature Snauzers, Dobermans, and Poodles. It linked me with breeders of miniature horses, builders of miniature houses and cars, and even sewers of mini-skirts. And it gave me links to every florist who sells roses...and that is all of them. 

I selected a breeder of miniature azaleas and visited his site.  He had lots of roses, so I spent an hour enjoying pictures of dozens of varieties of roses with fanciful names like Evening Flame, and Lovestruck.  But no Miniature Tootie

It was like most of my research.  Fun and games, but no real information. Google is better entertainment than research.
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Getting Better

LAST WEEK I got one correct in the AOL current events quiz.  Today I got four.

TWO WEEKS AGO I rowed two miles on the stationary bicycle, and day before yesterday I could only endure half a mile, and yesterday one mile, but today I rowed two and tenth miles. (You "row" this version of the stationary bicycle.)


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Clap On -- Clap Off

I don't understand.  For years, at Christmas time, one commercial dominated our television viewing.  It was an old lady in bed, and she would clap twice and her bedside lamp would go off.  The announcer would tout the Clap On and Clap Off light switch. 

It was ubiquitous. Over and over and over we heard how wonderful Clap On and Clap Off switches were.

But NOW THAT I WANT ONE, where the bleep are they?  Not at Sav-Mart, not at Rite-Aid, not at Target, not at OSH.

Ah, I still have good old Wal-Mart to try, or Best Buy, but they are a two day scoot from here. Stay tuned 

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ooops No NoBloPoMo

November is November Blog Posting Month..or NaBloPoMo. But I missed the first few days while my DSL was disconnected and I missed yesterday because I forgot. The goal was to post an entry every day of the month. 

Well, let's see...what interesting news do I have to tell about today. Ah, I got up at 5:30 am, then went back to bed.  My little pocket laser light is broken. Well, perhaps an entry every day is too many.

Pocket Laser?  I consider anything invented since WWII as "new". Laser lights are "new" and one you can buy for less than four dollars and put in your pocket is nothing short of miraculous. is natural for anything that complex to break down and need replacing.

I finally got back on the rowing machine after ten days lay off, but my endurance had dropped way down.  A couple of weeks ago I could row "two miles", but yesterday I was back to one..

Ho hum

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Promised You a Rose Garden - Renaming Twiggy II

I recently introduced you to Twiggy II, the yellow rose that stands just outside my courtyard door. But Twiggy is an individual, and glorious specimen which deserves a name of it's own.

Jude, a reader, wrote and told us how in her youth, her father bought two rose bushes and dedicated the red to Jude's sister and the yellow to her. She has been fond of yellow roses ever since.  Perhaps it would be appropriate to rename our yellow rose, Jude.

Look at the number and large size of the blossoms on Jude, here and now, coming up on Thanksgiving. That is a wonderful winter rose for you.


The largest of Jude's blossom is as big as my head.


(Is this all right, Jude, to name the yellow rose for you?)

Footprints in the Sands of Time

   I am impressed. AOL has stored ALL of our blogs.  Somewhere there is a big computer holding all of our drivel, all of my Dribble, and it is all accessible.

   But AOL is a business, and like all businesses, will eventually go away. I am not predicting their eventual demise, it is just, well, that's the nature of businesses.  As wondrous and magnificent as it may be NOW, what about THEN?

   Where will our journals be than? 

   And who cares?

   Well, I do.  In a burst of egomania, I want my blogs to be permanent, but I do not want to copy them all and print them.  (I'm not THAT concerned.)

   Is there a service somewhere that will copy and bind into volumes all the entries? Have any of you done this?

   I am laughing at myself right now.  What makes me think that bound copies would be any more permanent than electronic copies.  I have just moved and had to get rid of a ton of stuff.  What if I had big bound copies of my journal...and what makes me thank that anyone will want to read those old things in the future>

   My grandmother used to make sculptures in COTTON. She chose that medium and praised it because is was NOT permanent. Strange idea...transient art.  Maybe I should make Dribble more meaningful by erasing it. (Heaven no... I reject that idea)

   Well, now I have rambled on until I have talked myself out of the idea after all.

   Never mind.

Great Idea - Ice Your Cellphone

ICE campaign - "In Case of Emergency"   
We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its memory but nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our closest family or friends.
If we were to  be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn't know who to call.
Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? Hence this "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) Campaign.
The concept of "ICE" is catching on quickly.
It is a method of contact during emergency situations.
As cell phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name "ICE" (In Case Of Emergency).  
 The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn't know which number to call.
He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose.
In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff would be able to quickly contactthe right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as "ICE".
For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3, etc. Be sure it's in your kid's cell phones also.
A great idea that will make a difference!   

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Today, for the first time, when I returned from breakfast I opened the door and felt "I'm home", instead of "I'm visiting".

Getting the last laugh

The clown wig went to the Goodwill during this past move. I have too little space to keep things I wear once a year. Imagine the surprise of the Goodwill emplyee who opens a box of donated clothing, and there is... a clown wig.  Of course he will put it on and dance around showing his co-workers.  The wig will have done its job once again - making people laugh.

I'm a Little Bit Crazy - and So Are You

   I believe there are degrees of paranoia.  And I suspect we all have a little.  It is part of being alive, and it is part of the survival instinct.

   For example, watch a flock of birds gathered around a feeder, or walking on the beach.  If you stand perfectly still, they will ignore you and feed busily.  But the moment you make a sudden movement and they all fly off together instantly.  They flee, from nothing, just a sudden movement  In an excess of caution, away they go.

   Perhaps we have that sense too.  An excess of caution that helps preserve the species... humankind.  We are aware of certain slight signals that our senses perceive as POSSIBLE danger. 

   What I am getting at with this rambling speculation is this: I am suddenly aware of the sounds of BLOWERS.  Since my move to a new room, sounds that I had grown accustomed to in my old room, are new and acute and impinge upon my awareness.  And I am aware I am surrounded by blowers, all whining, and threatening me, somewhat.  But unlike the birds, I cannot flee.

   The refrigerator clicks on with an audible POP and the blower whines, for exactly seven minutes... every half hour.  Whines seven minutes and rests twenty-three.  I rise, and turn on my computer and the blower starts and stays on all day, until I turn it off at night.

   I go to the bathroom and when I turn on the light a blower starts.  The heater/air-conditioner blowers is on. In the dining room the ice-maker howls while we eat.  I have had to flee that one a couple of times, like a frightened bird. No doubt your kitchen has a blower over the stove.

   We are obsessed with moving air around... to cool or to heat or to freshen. Our cars have a blower to cool the engine and another to warm the passengers.

   And suddenly I have become aware of all these blowers.  I know they are not out to GET ME, but I feel like I should flee.  To where?

   I know I am crazy...but, fortunately, just a little bit. Perhaps we all are.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My Initials as Googled

In a idle moment, I typed my initials, CRF, into the search box. I was amused by the number of things that CRF can stand for, but one really hit home.

Chronic Renal Failure.  Wow, that is exactly what I am battling with biweekly trips to my kidney doctor for a hemoglobin test and shots if it measures too low.  Fortunately the shots are working.

I don't want CRF on my chart.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Weekend Assognment #190 - Boredom

John Scalzi in his journal By The Way asks us to tell something we did as kids to alleviate boredom. And for extra credit to tell what has bored us most lately.

   There was NO television, alas, and kid's radio programs didn't start until 5:45 p.m. when Little Orphan Annie came on... to be followed by Jack Armstrong, All American Boy.

   So, kids would gather in vacant lots and have Weed Bomb Fights.  If you tug a clump of grass it will come up with a ball of mud clinging to the roots.  Makes a wonderful missile. The grass makes a tail and guides it unerringly to the head of the "enemy". Talk about the sting of a hit during a Dodge Ball game...that is nothing like getting whomped with a Weed Bomb. 

   Adults get bored too. You'll know just how bored I was when I tell you what I had to resort to: the Bible.  I took certain Psalms and rewrote them, in modern English poetry.  I impressed myself.  I wish I could remember any of them, but you at least see how bored I must have been.

Happy Halloween - Week Late and a Dollar Short

   Too late for Halloween pictures? I was just handed prints of snapshots taken at our Old Folks Home party. Must have been old fashioned shots taken on film. 

   I had the spirit.  I put on a clown wig, and livened up the party by playing my harmonica.  Thank goodness someone snapped the pictures... no one would have believed it otherwise.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

I Promised You a Rose Garden - What Again?

   My "regulars" will remember Twiggy, the red rose bush whose growth we followed this season from twig to full bloom.  At her peak she looked like this.


Twiggy is still blooming, even as we approach Thanksgiving. Yesterday she had four huge red flowers. In fact, in our garden of over one hundred rose bushes, over a third still carry blossoms. The late blooming roses all sprout long stems reaching for the sky.  One of Twiggy's neighbors is over twelve feet tall.

   Now meet Twiggy II.  My new room at the Old Folks Home opens onto a courtyard, and right outside my door stands, behold, a gorgeous yellow rose. Now when I want to add to my boring series on roses, I need only step to my door and snap a picture.  Here is the door to my new room. That's Twiggy II on the left.


  And here is her portrait.


                         TWIGGY II

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