Archive for the ‘curmudgeonly rants’ category

Whackers and Blowers

October 7, 2017

`As I write this post, it occurs to me that this particular title could be taken in a very different context than I intended.   So let me say first that if it is sexual titillation (one of the great words in the language, don’t you think?) you are looking for, there are much better places to get it than the blog of a 73 year old curmudgeon. So, take your dirty mind and move on.

20171007_115339464794329.jpgIt is Saturday morning, and I am in the park.  That is no surprise any day of the week but Saturday is my most consistent day, my day to assess my week and do some of the things that keep this old brain ticking … write, pray, make a gratitude list, and read some inspiring essays.  Maybe (only maybe) meditate. But there is a surprise this morning and it isn’t a good one.   The park landscape crew is out and for the last forty minutes I have been serenaded by the annoying drone of a weed-whacker.  And you know what that means … soon to follow is the main act in the parade of annoying noises, the leaf blower.  Yorba Regional Park is a beautiful place, partly because of the work of the landscapers but I’d be happy to have a some long grass around the trees and a few leaves on the sidewalks to be spared the constant whine.  And on Saturday, yet.  Saturdays are supposed to be reserved for screaming children, the thump of too-loud-music from family reunions, and the drone of weekend traffic on the nearby freeway. (more…)

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The Eclipse Curmudgeon

August 22, 2017

Clipboard01When I was a boy, I saved up my money and bought a 3 inch reflector telescope from Edmund Scientific.  I believe it cost $29.95, which tells you how long ago it was, in the 1950s.  I don’t remember how old I was … I would guess twelvish.  With this telescope, from the hay field behind our house I could see the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, some of the larger nebulae, double stars and of course, incredible detail of the surface of the moon.   Nobody ever told me not to point my telescope at the sun.  Nobody had to.  I was a smart kid.  But when I learned about sunspots and heard a report of exceptional sunspot activity, I certainly wanted to.   I don’t know where I found the piece of green plexiglass that became my solar filter.  To the eye, it was opaque but if I held it up to the sun, I could see the sun through itplexiglass … which gave me an idea.  Using my Dad’s jigsaw, I cut a circular piece the size of my telescope tube and taped it over the open end.   Wallah.  Sunspots at 60X power.   I seem to remember watching a partial eclipse using my improvised solar filter, too.  Those was the good old days … or the bad old days, depending on your point of view.  No one checked the transmittance of my plexiglass disc, checked if it was compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.   Was my tape job sufficiently secure to assure the filter wouldn’t fall off, vaporizing my eyeball?  Yep, it was.  I still have two working Older Eyes.

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Bad Reputation

August 10, 2017

shower.jpgWe have recently been doing some renovation on our guest bathroom.  As is often the case in tract homes, the builder used a cheap bathtub that rusted through and began to leak water into the garage, which is directly below the bathroom.  Some heavy-duty caulking stopped the leakage for a while, but in July, the drip-drip-drip started again.   We called our friendly neighborhood plumber (he really is, here) and had our tub replaced with a high-quality cast iron one.  The plan was to remove the lower portion of the tile tub enclosure, but when that was done, it revealed some water damage to the framing behind the tile, so we had the entire enclosure removed and the framing replaced.  Then it was time to call our friendly neighborhood masonry guy (also really is, here) to redo the enclosure.   This was turning into a marathon (to the tune of the ka-ching ka-ching of money leaving our bank account). (more…)

Smog Check Hell

July 22, 2017

2007smog No one would ever accuse me of being an environmentalist but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it when measures imposed by our government successfully improve the environment around me.   When we moved to California in 1971, there were days when the smog tinted the air brown, it hurt the eyes to go outside and the simple act of breathing burned the lungs.   In the car-obsessed L.A. metropolitan area, automobile exhaust was the primary cause of such days, and … although having to have my car smog certified every two years is a pain … the smog check program has dramatically improved the air here in Socal.   As I sit here in the park on a sultry summer day, the air around me is colorless and the sky is blue. (more…)

Just Breathe

June 16, 2017

breathMy sister is a trained Yoga instructor.  If you have ever done Yoga … or practically any meditation technique … you know that proper breathing is part of the way to a relaxed, mindful state.   Through the nose, breathe into your belly, then gently expel through the mouth.  Notice how it feels on the inhale and how it feels different when you exhale.  Breath in light.  Breath out negativity.  You get the picture.  When my Dad was in assisted living, his primary caretaker was my sister, since she lived less than an hour away, while I live in California and our brother lives in Ohio.  Whenever my Dad was agitated about something, my sister would say, Just Breathe, Dad.  Just Breathe.  My Dad, disinclined toward Yoga or any other New Age nonsense, would answer, I am breathing.  Sometimes, I am breathing, dammit. Interestingly, though he never followed my sister’s suggestion, his annoyance would distract him enough from whatever was bothering him and he would indeed end up less agitated. (more…)

Nothing To Do But Write

March 6, 2017

It’s 1:45 in the afternoon and here I sit, in the Dallas Fort Worth Airport, American Airlines Terminal B, to be specific.   Back in the days when I was a regular business traveler, I was a member of the Admirals Club, a private lounge for American Airlines travelers willing to pay a hefty fee … in dollars or miles.  The Club has comfortable seating, private working areas, and snacks … plus sandwiches and drinks for a price.  If I was stuck with a three hour layover … like I have today … it was better than sitting at the gate.   Quieter, for one, at least until business travelers starting bringing their kids along.  Today, I am sitting at a counter with USB ports in the Gate B5 waiting area.   I have no special attachment to gate B5 but there are no flight scheduled for the next several hours so it is relatively quiet.   For about ten minutes, the alarm on an employees-only door kept going off, a high pitched squeal that leaves my teeth vibrating.   Desperate for power for my laptop, I waited it out.  A speaker on the ceiling over my head is prattling on about the madhouse that has become our national government.  It is only slightly less annoying than the alarm.   Terminal B mostly serves American Airlines secondary routes … like those to Huntsville, where I’m headed, so in front of me passengers trickle by in ones and twos, hunting for their departure gates or talking quietly.  Even with occasional gate change announcements, it’s not a bad place to write, especially when there’s nothing else to do.  It’s not the Admirals Club, for sure, but it’s better than the madhouse in terminal A, where I arrived from Socal.

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For Singing Out Loud

January 13, 2017

savy-singerMy granddaughter Savannah’s favorite gift this Christmas was a karaoke machine.  Once all the presents were opened and we each went to our corners to play with our favorite gifts, she switched on the machine, turned it up to full blast and began to sing … over and over … Call Me Maybe by Carly Ray Jepson (yes, I had to look that up).  To these old ears, Call Me Maybe sounds like a corny pop tune aimed at pre-adolescents in the midst of their first crush.  It’s harmless enough, easier to listen to than what Kohl’s plays over their sound system in the stores on a regular basis but … played more than five times in a row … it could be used in place of waterboarding.   I would conservatively guess Savannah sang it thirty times Christmas morning.

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