caution © Robert Sommers 2019

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tommy Emmanuel and Billy Strings

Make sure you watch the last part when they go into overdrive. The next generation of guitar players is in good hands with Billy Strings.

Karma's a bitch or should I say a Mitch?

Not to get too political but here goes: Mitch McConnell has criticized House Democrats for refusing to provide their Republican colleagues with equal subpoena power and for not permitting Trump's counsel to take part in inquiry-related hearings, present evidence or cross-examine witnesses.

The White House wants all these things. Dems counter that the House impeachment inquiry needs to take place behind closed doors so that witnesses can't custom tailor their testimony and concoct a cover story. The House, as has been repeated over and over ad nauseam, takes testimony like a Grand Jury, impeachment is actually tried in the Senate.
“So, for all the public hyperventilating over institutional norms that we’ve heard from House Democrats in recent years, it appears they have no intention of letting norms, precedents, or basic due process stand in their way as they seek to cancel out a presidency," McConnell said in the Senate.
The hypocrite and hyper partisan Ken Starr, Special Counsel during the Clinton impeachment, calls out the dems for exercising "raw power." Which is sort of funny, because the GOP, from Merrick Garland to the obstruction of President Obama, has been nothing if not a party that loves to exert raw power. Starr goes so far as to call their efforts unconstitutional. Which is balderdash. Maybe not customary not to have a formal vote, but not unconstitutional. The dems have obviously learned their lessons well from the GOP. Don't give them an inch. The president will have plenty of opportunity to defend himself in the Senate.
"The answer is yes [Democrats can keep their impeachment effort behind closed doors] as a matter of raw power," he said. "That's what's being exercised. Raw power, inconsistent with the traditions of the House of Representatives and the very spirit of the House of Representatives."
I started looking in to the idea of subpoena rights of the minority party and was not too surprised to find that they once did have them, that is until the Republicans changed the rules in 2015 and outlawed the process. More about that here.
In a letter shared with POLITICO, the Democrats slams the GOP conference for changing rules on a number of House committees to make it easier for Republicans to subpoena witnesses without consultation or approval from minority lawmakers - an effort that came as Republicans are preparing aggressive oversight efforts for President Barack Obama’s final two years in office.
Tough luck. As you sow, so shall ye reap.

an iconic shot by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

I hadn't anyone till you.

Let the hippopotamus drown

I am studying a lot of chess games at night. It has been decades since I have personally played but I enjoy following the matches of the greats. The best chess commentator around is a young Croatian man on Youtube whose channel is called Agadmator. He can really break down a game. His real name is Antonio Radić.

In any case, when I was young I idolized Bobby Fischer, remember devouring every move and every word of Shelby Lyman's expert commentary during the Spassky - Fischer World Championship in 1972. Fischer was extraordinarily strong as was Garry Kasparov later on and now Magnus Carlson today.

But I think the chess master who played the most beautiful and creative chess ever has to be Mikhail Tal (1936-1992). Known for his audacious sacrifices and tremendous calculation, Tal was a superhuman force in chess until the end of his life.

Mikhail Tal - Dutch National Archives
A jew from Riga, Latvia, Tal was the eighth World Champion of chess. Obviously a genius, he started reading at three and had entered university by the age of fifteen. He was a brilliant attacker and also a gifted writer.

Unfortunately he also suffered from very bad health, specifically kidney problems, losing a kidney in 1969. A fellow scorpio, he was a gifted piano player. The man they called the "Magician from Riga" had a rating of 2705 at his peak and a lifetime plus score against Fischer.

Tal liked to do the impossible and unexpected on the chess board, to seize the initiative. This made it very hard for other players to prepare and play with him. His game was fluid, wild and lyrical, he played like a mad poet.

Every chess player playing at this level is extraordinary. So the extraordinary among the extraordinary are well, extraordinary. What sets their brains apart?

I found this section recounted in Tal's autobiography:

Journalist: It might be inconvenient to interrupt our profound discussion and change the subject slightly, but I would like to know whether extraneous, abstract thoughts ever enter your head while playing a game?  
Tal: Yes. For example, I will never forget my game with GM Vasiukov on a USSR Championship.We reached a very complicated position where I was intending to sacrifice a knight. The sacrifice was not obvious; there was a large number of possible variations; but when I began to study hard and work through them, I found to my horror that nothing would come of it. Ideas piled up one after another. I would transport a subtle reply by my opponent, which worked in one case, to another situation where it would naturally prove to be quite useless. As a result my head became filled with a completely chaotic pile of all sorts of moves, and the infamous "tree of variations", from which the chess trainers recommend that you cut off the small branches, in this case spread with unbelievable rapidity. And then suddenly, for some reason, I remembered the classic couplet by Korney Ivanović Chukovsky: "Oh, what a difficult job it was. To drag out of the marsh the hippopotamus".
I do not know from what associations the hippopotamus got into the chess board, but although the spectators were convinced that I was continuing to study the position, I, despite my humanitarian education, was trying at this time to work out: just how WOULD you drag a hippopotamus out of the marsh? I remember how jacks figured in my thoughts, as well as levers, helicopters, and even a rope ladder. After a lengthy consideration I admitted defeat as an engineer, and thought spitefully to myself: "Well, just let it drown!" And suddenly the hippopotamus disappeared. Went right off the chessboard just as he had come on ... of his own accord! And straightaway the position did not appear to be so complicated. Now I somehow realized that it was not possible to calculate all the variations, and that the knight sacrifice was, by its very nature, purely intuitive. And since it promised an interesting game, I could not refrain from making it.
And the following day, it was with pleasure that I read in the paper how Mikhail Tal, after carefully thinking over the position for 40 minutes, made an accurately calculated piece sacrifice.
Mikhail Tal, The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Moby Grape

Writer's cramp

Richard Brautigan
When I was a kid I was a voracious reader as was the rest of our family. Being the son of a history teacher/ book editor, our family library was vast.

We collectively eschewed television and devoted our love and attention to the written word.

I was a serious consumer of fantasy. Although I loved Tolkein, I quickly tired of dragons and swords and the like and found myself attracted to earlier, more potent stuff. Faerie and literature of noble, forgotten realms. The Well at the World's End and The King of Elfland's daughter, magical tales like that.

Authors like Lord Dunsany, William Morris, Lovecraft, Stevenson and Cabell besides the normal precocious adolescent attraction to Hesse and Kafka. Later I discovered my literary hero Zelazny and the darker and more prescient Philip Dick. All authors that probably don't get much play today.

I am currently reading a great early compendium of fantasy, Treasury of the Fantastic by Sandner and Weisman. Keats, Irving, Poe, Shelley, Tennyson and William Austin amongst others. Didn't realize so much great early fantasy work existed. Did you know that Keats died at the unbelievably early age of twenty five? How do you assemble a great body of work at twenty five?

Austin wrote the excellent, serialized story titled Peter Rugg: the missing man in 1824 under the pseudonym Jonathan Dunwell. Hawthorne was a big fan as was Melville. Very entertaining tale.

Do you realize that they have largely denuded the libraries of readable titles and that it is almost impossible to find tangible copies of the great books of yesteryear anymore? Takes me an hour to find anything halfway decent to read at the library. Can't even find Rex Stout anymore. I was hooked on Arturo Perez Reverte's Alatriste saga and the publisher won't even translate the last book from Spanish and has no plans to in the future. I wrote the author, apparently it is out of his hands.

We don't just discard authors today, we discard and dispose of near centuries of work. Bob Dylan was accused of plagiarism for plying the work of confederate author Henry Timrod some years ago. I say good for you Bob Dylan, thank you for rescuing from the ash heap a man that the giant Tennyson called the Poet Laureate of the Confederacy.

I was looking for a particularly dark and beautiful tale by Lord Dunsany the other day and found it online. It is called Time and the Gods and was written by Edward Plunkett, the 18th Earl of Dunsany, in 1905. You can read it here if you wish. I particularly like the ending and remember sharing it with Rick Griffin when he was alive.

I love writing short stories and fiction and never seem to have the time anymore. Requires a certain amount of security to give the mind time to sufficiently wander, security that I have been sadly lacking of late. My writing has been reduced to that of a reactive diarist, my troll wrote me a particularly nasty comment a while back that, in fact, I did not write, I merely indulged. He might be indeed right, that is for others to determine, I suppose?

Look at the age that many of our literary giants met their mortal end. Stephen Crane was twenty nine. Plath was thirty, as was Emily Bronte. Rimbaud was thirty seven. Kerouac was forty seven. Brautigan was forty nine and like Plath, died by his own hand. Stevenson, a man I admire so much, who left a treasure trove of work, succumbed at forty four, to a cerebral hemorrhage after a long bout with tuberculosis.

I will be sixty two in a few weeks. I haven't done shit. I need to lock myself in a dumpy hotel with a cup full of pencils like Simenon or Gardner and bang something decent out while I still have oxygen and a brain left. You have to surrender and lose yourself in order to write good fiction, there was a reason Coleridge wrote Kubla Khan while under the influence of Opium. Ditto Doyle. I want to write something fabulous for me and piss on everybody else. Or should I say, something I get and maybe you get but a work that is not necessarily watered down to the mean. If I still have time and find that I possess the necessary talent.

That is my current fantasy, anyway.

Get your love at the Casbah

Laura Nyro

Shoot the moon

I got up early this morning to go for coffee. Haven't been for a month. The full moon was sitting right there and so was my camera with the 400mm so here you go.

For Buzz

Kestrel sighting

I drove to Encinitas yesterday to see my accountant and pay my annual remittance to Uncle Sam. Afterwards I drove over to San Elijo Lagoon to take a little walk and hopefully see some birds.

I shouldn't have even wasted my time. The place is an absolute mess with construction, dredging and what have you. Nary a bird in sight.

It has been awful for months but now it is even worse. And the trail is damaged and blocked off, you can walk about a hundred feet before you hit the barricades. Ah, progress... Can not wait until they are finished and have things back together.

On my way home I saw a falcon on a pole far in the distance on my winding canyon road.

Since the camera was on the seat next to me with the long lens already attached, I jumped out to grab a few shots, stopping in the middle of the road, pissing off two cars behind me in the interim.

At the considerable distance I thought that this kestrel might be a prairie falcon as it was huge but no. A big fat kestrel. Looks like it is munching on a lizard here.

Yechhh. But to each his or her own. Beautiful little raptor.

I've said it before, I can go far and wide but there is no better birdwatching for me than my own yard and valley.

Here is a scrubjay silhouetted in the last rays of a fading sun that I shot outside my driveway.

I bought a lovely agave ovatifolia from Jennifer at Good Earth this morning. I saw this specimen in Kensington last year and had to have one for our very own.

It is also known as a whales tongue agave and is known for its beautiful smooth pale leaves. Its needle sharp spikes will certainly draw blood. Will be a beautiful contrasty addition to my garden.

Graham Parker

Monday, October 14, 2019

Big league play

I love this story about Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa. Stories like this one always make me tear up. Good for him.

Poor kid with cancer has been in the hospital for three years. I can't even imagine.

Pro words

Ken teaches me a lot. Long time pilot and military man, flight operations manager, ace photographer, computer expert, ham radio operator, eagle scout, the guy is a veritable encyclopedia.

When we were out shooting the other day he said something to me and I said "Roger that." I thought I was assenting, he told me it meant nothing of the kind. "Roger", according to my friend, simply means "I hear you, or received." "Wilco" means I will comply. So "Roger wilco" means I hear you and I will comply.

These radio communication terms are called procedure words or prowords. They derive from early Morse code transmission. The NATO communications manual ACP-125 contains the most formal and perhaps earliest modern glossary of procedure words.  They are still used by many organizations including the Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard.

Another proword is over. It means my transmission to you is complete and I expect an answer. You never say over and out. Out means my transmission to you is finished and I require no response. There are many more of these words. You can see a good glossary here.

And the phrase 10-4? Where did that come from? It is one of the ten codes, or radio signals, invented by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO.) It means okay. These codes are the brainchild of Illinois State Police Communications Director Charles Hopper for use by the police in their radio transmissions in 1937.


The Youngbloods

Geocoxxyx Californianus

The greater roadrunner is one of two species of terrestrial cuckoo found in the western hemisphere. The other species, G. Velox, lives in Mexico and Central America. The roadrunner can achieve speeds of 20mph and can fly if they have to. I took the shot that you see above and did absolutely nothing to it, save a crop. Required nothing.

From wikipedia:
The Hopi and other Pueblo tribes believed that roadrunners were medicine birds and could protect against evil spirits. Their unusual X-shaped footprints are used as sacred symbols to ward off evil in many Pueblo tribes—partially because they invoke the protective power of the roadrunners themselves, and partially because the X shape of the tracks conceals which direction the bird is headed (thus throwing malignant spirits off track.) Stylized roadrunner tracks have been found in the rock art of ancestral Southwestern tribes like the Anasazi and Mogollon cultures, as well. Roadrunner feathers were traditionally used to decorate Pueblo cradleboards as spiritual protection for the baby. In Mexican Indian and American Indian tribes, such as the Pima, it is considered good luck to see a roadrunner. In some Mexican tribes, the bird was considered sacred and never killed, but most Mexican Indians used the meat of the roadrunner as a folk remedy to cure illness or to boost stamina and strength.
Indigenous peoples of Central America have developed numerous beliefs about the roadrunner. The Ch’orti’, who call it t’unk’u’x or mu’, have taboos against harming the bird. The Ch'ol Maya believe roadrunners to have special powers. It is known to them as ajkumtz’u’, derived from the bird's call that is said to make the listener feel tired.
Beep, beep!

Sittin On Top Of The World

Flaming pies

Loved this NYT story about the Kurdish pizza maker in New York,  ‘I Know the Struggle’: Why a Pizza Mogul Left Pies at Memorials to 4 Homeless Men.

I thought that the optics were priceless for the recent P.G.E. shutoff. The high brass was toasting each other over at Silver Oak right before they hit the switch.

Now I have to commend them for their taste, Silver Oak was my favorite cab back when I was drinking and could afford it.

But there was definitely a bit of a Marie Antoinette "let them eat cake" to the whole thing, especially after a man died a mere twelve minutes later when he lost power to his oxygen.
PG&E confirmed that 10 to 12 employees on the gas side of the business were mingling with 50 to 60 of their top customers at a winery in Sonoma County on Monday and Tuesday. It was in the run-up to PG&E’s unprecedented power shut-offs for hundreds of thousands of customers this week, a highly controversial act that could cost the California economy $2.6 billion by some estimates and even put people in harm’s way.
Did you see that the new acting BLM Director is calling wild horses the biggest threat to public lands in the west? This is patently ridiculous. William Pendley may be the worst appointee yet, in an administration full of horrible appointees.
The silliness of this statement becomes obvious when one considers that wild horses don’t exist on more than 85 percent of BLM lands, and where they do occur, they have to share the range with domestic livestock which typically have an even bigger impact on the land. 
The BLM is all about protecting private oil, gas and livestock interests at the expense of American public and public lands. Pendley is a guy who wants to sell off all the public land, an admitted bigot who claims that climate change is fiction and compared undocumented immigrants to cancer. This guy is the absolute worst.

Did you see that climate change is now threatening two thirds of our North American bird species with extinction? I better keep taking pictures so that we will have something to remember them by.

Goodbye Columbus? Remember this one?

Cereus business

The marvelous hylocereus undatus flowers continue to put on a spectacular show underneath our jelly palm.

Many years ago we stuck small branches of the epiphyte into the crooks of the palm. They took off.

There have been so many of the foot wide flowers this year it has been unbelievable.

The fruit of the jelly or pindo palm, the butia capitata from Brazil, is one of the scrumptious delicacies of our garden.

Sweet and slightly astringent. Have to fight the bees for them sometimes, they love it too, in fact the tree often has a slight hum!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Everybody's been burned


I am on a heavy duty antibiotic, cipro, and I have to watch my dairy consumption which is now pretty much nil.

So what have I been dreaming of all week? Real New York cheesecake, like Lindy's or Juniors. You know, dry, creamy and perfect. In five days I can start eating again and drinking coffee with cream and I am fantasizing.

I can order a Juniors sent to me, would go for the original, no toppings, but it is $42.95 delivered. Pricey, even for a rich guy like me.

But you think that is bad, Ferrara's Bakery is $95.00.

I could order from a place in Chicago called Eli's but I don't tend to like Chicago hot dogs, pizza or cheesecake. The people however are wonderful.

Anyone know where to get a decent cheesecake on the west coast?

Sip the wine

White bird

Kudos and brickbats

Yupik mother and child - Edward Curtis
Governor Gavin Newsom has just signed a bill outlawing the sale of new fur in California.
The new fur law makes it illegal to manufacture, sell or distribute a fur product in the state. It applies to clothing, handbags, shoes, slippers, hats or key chains that contain fur — providing a civil penalty for violation. The law has a few exceptions, including the use of fur products for religious purposes and taxidermy.
Notwithstanding the fact that my mother's father was a furrier, I think this bill is patently ridiculous, an obvious over reach from the nanny state. What is next, leather products? Meat?

I feel the same way about fur that I feel about reproductive choice, if you are against abortion, don't have one. If you are against fur, don't wear it. But be careful when you tell other people what they can or can not do.

The fur trade in California arrived long before statehood, the first trade began as early as 1784 when the Spaniard Vincente Vasadre y Vega traded abalone shells, beads, and various metal articles to the Bay Area Indians for sea otter pelts. Call me strange, I like fur, certainly more environmentally conscious than plastic and synthetic fabric.

On the plus side, Newsom has signed a bill countering the Trump administration's push for more oil and gas drilling in our state on public, protected land.
The measure bars any California leasing authority from allowing pipelines or other oil and gas infrastructure to be built on state property. It makes it difficult for drilling to occur because federally protected areas are adjacent to state-owned land.
This comes on the heels of Newsom firing the head of the newly christened Geologic Energy Management Division in July, when it was still called the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources. Ken Harris was dismissed over an increase in state permits for hydraulic fracturing and allegations of conflicts of interest among senior government officials. It is alleged that state officials had financial interests in the companies that they were supposedly regulating.

Good for Gavin on this one.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Fairport Convention

Health update

I got a third opinion this week. Very highly regarded oncologist, much closer to home. She actually trained the wonderful doctor I met at USC. She says that time is of the essence, wants to accelerate everything, re-resection, immunotherapy. If it doesn't work there is always the dreaded plan b. Going to give it a shot.


Fallbrook has a pretty cool scarecrow tradition. Lots of retailers have them outside their shops. These three are in front of Leslie and my establishments.

A crying Lady Liberty.

Notorious RBG.
Nancy Pelosi.

Somebody wondered if we were worried about offending conservatives but we are way past that.

People stop by and have their picture taken with Ruth many times a day.

Not sure if they made all of them but the Fallbrook Democratic Club at least had their hand in making a couple of them.


Show must go on.

The urologic oncologist called yesterday afternoon. Could I come in for surgery next Friday? For real.

I said, "What, and miss Palm Springs Modernism 2019 ? No Way.  Cancer, shmantzer, we'll simply have to reschedule."

So if you are in the desert for Modernism Week next week, please stop by the convention center and say howdy.

Opening night Friday, 6 to 8. Saturday 10 to 6 and Sunday 10 to 4.

Lot of energy in Palm Springs for both Modernism Weeks. Cool, hip stuff. Always a lot of fun. Watch me try to get through the weekend in one piece. My great friend Bill Warmboe will be sharing the booth and helping me out. Looking forward to a great show and a good time.

Peace Bird

Art Blakey with Jon Hendricks

Judge Dwarf Tosser

Conservative judges like to tout their originalist approach to applying the laws set out in the Constitution.

In a dissent yesterday, D.C. Circuit Appellate Judge Neomi Rao turns the constitution and the concept of originalism on its head. Her dissent starts on page 67.

It is the most ridiculous, ignorant and un American legal opinion I have ever read, contrary to all known constitutional precepts and legal history since the founding of our country. All designed as a nice payback for the clown who got her the job.

Judge Rao castrates the Legislative branch in her dissent, inputing all sorts of new limitations that are not written in our constitution. She strips Congress of executive branch oversight, except through the impeachment process. She evidently believes that it is up to the Federal judiciary to set out what is an impeachable defense and that the high court can quash impeachment proceedings if they do not live up to her standard of what constitutes "high crimes and misdemeanors."
The House of Representatives ... shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
Article I, Section 2, Clause 5
In her dissent she writes “Investigations of impeachable offenses simply are not, and never have been, within Congress’s legislative power.” This is pure baloney. Congress has always had legal oversight of the Executive branch. The constitution is clear that it is up to the House to set its own standards for impeachment. A formal vote is not required although it has been customary. Rao plainly differs:
Because Congress has failed to vote on a “formal impeachment investigation,” Rao argues that Trump and Mazars are free to treat Congressional subpoenas as if they don’t exist.
This woman, a Trump appointee and ex clerk for Judge Clarence Thomas, is an obvious shill for the President, bereft of a scintilla of intellectual integrity. I can't imagine her taking this stance if the roles were reversed and a GOP house was investigating a Democrat President.

By the way, Rao made her mark in law school by taking a stand on the propriety of dwarf tossing, writing at least two law review articles and a blog post in which she defended the practice, apparently popular in Florida. If you are not familiar with it, here is a definition:
Dwarf-tossing, also called midget-tossing, is a pub/bar attraction in which people with dwarfism, wearing special padded clothing or Velcro costumes, are thrown onto mattresses or at Velcro-coated walls. Participants compete to throw the person with dwarfism the farthest.
This is my favorite line from her law review abstract:
By focusing on values such as human dignity, modern constitutionalism deprives rights of their special force. 
God forbid we think about human dignity. Or apparently the constitution. What more havoc will this woman wrought?

Grow old with me

Friday, October 11, 2019

Bird Brain

Black crowned night heron
The Santa Ana winds blew pretty heavily in my valley last night. Everybody is on a bit of a slight edge worrying about fire. Rather than driving all the way to San Jacinto to shoot on my regular Friday photography tour I instead stuck closer to home. I called my buddy Ken and we drove down to Santee Lakes to see what we could scare up.

Ken has been favoring his shoulder and hasn't had his long lens out too much of late so it was good to get out with him.

green heron
Wasn't an epic day for photography but it was definitely beautiful and nice to be out at the lakes.

Afterwards we drove over to Lindo Lake. It was rather slow too but we snapped a couple shots.

One of the highlights was seeing this pretty green heron. I don't see enough of them.

I was talking to somebody the other day that said that if you want to be good at something, work at it for several hours every day.

That mastery is a matter of repetition and work.  They may be on to something. Do something long enough, you are bound to gain some level of proficiency.

So it is important to just keep plugging away. Music, writing, art, photography, fishing, skydiving, whatever, we all have to put the time and mileage in.

About the journey, not the destination.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Browns - Blues Stay Away From Me (1959).

Thursday this and that

I have exactly ten four minutes to shpiel so you are going to get a rather rushed string of non sequiturs. I was thinking about things I could definitely do without in the new millennium. There is a cottage industry sprung up of people writing me telling me that my website sucks and they can fix it. Hey guess what, if I need help I will ask. Please get lost. * Also reaction videos on Youtube are really stupid. I don't need a rapper telling me what he thinks of Cat Stevens or anybody else. Some people have made this their new gig. Pointless. * As is anything to do with Kanye, the Kardashians, Jenners, Beyonce, Rihanna, Cardi B., etc. I don't give a shit, neither do any of my peers.* Never click on Clickbait or sponsored content. Not worth the time. ever. * President Trump is bagging on Steve Kerr and Popovitch for holding their tongue on China. This from a guy who agreed not to say anything about Hong Kong in order to get his trade deal. Hypocrite.* I get the GOP not wanting to make a stand on the Ukraine thing and staying mostly mum. But they certainly have made themselves heard on the Turkey/Kurd thing. Very bad calculus on Trump's part to sow division in his party right now. This small split could lead to a bigger split and a breach on the domestic issues. Very stupid politically and awful timing.* If ever a sector begged to be nationalized it is the energy utilities. A true monopoly, it is not like you can have dueling power grids. They socialize debt and privatize profit, the consumer always loses. To prophylactically cut off power to 2,000,000 users ahead of an actual crisis seems to be a big, excuse the expression, power play to me. Some opinion writers have noted that P.G.E. has been raking big profits rather than maintain its system. I know the government can screw everything up but I wonder if it could do any worse than these robber barons?* It is ridiculous for self righteous liberals to bag on Ellen De Generes for being friends with George Bush, a republican. A huge number of my friends are Republican. Why should they think like I do? Are we going to require our celebrities to submit to an ideological litmus test now? Crazy.* Wonderful story about a great human being at NYT.* Horrible anti semitic killing in Germany. And almost as bad are the people who followed it livestreaming on Twitch.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Aladdin Sane

RX minefield

Life has been a real roller coaster, seems like one major medical battle after another. I woke up Sunday night at four in the morning with my heart beating out of my chest. I checked my blood pressure and it was pushing 200 over 135 with an extreme resting heart rate of 95. Way high. I got on line and tried to figure things out. Turns out that I had done something very stupid.

With so many health problems hitting me at one time, it can be like navigating a pharma minefield trying to figure out what to do. I had an ablation a few months ago for my atrial fibrillation. I have been on sotolol, amlodipine and xarelto. Got off the xarelto because my post surgery bladder won't stop bleeding. When I got the post surgical infection last week, the urologist took me off bactrim and put me on cipro. The pharmacist was concerned because it has a known contraindication with sotolol.

So I looked up the other drugs I was taking and amlodipine also had a negative interaction with cipro so I stopped that too. On my own. Turns out that was the wrong thing to do. According to what I read, amlodipine is one of the worst drugs to dead stop on and it caused my bp to skyrocket. Have to wean off it like prednisone. I took a pill early that morning to try to drop the bp and called the cardiologist, saw him later that morning and finally got straightened out. He also told me that I can't start the potassium channel blocker again until I have been on the blood thinner for three weeks.

I thought that I might have a dvt in my left leg the other day, have had terrible pains in my upper thigh and took a blood thinner just to be sure I wouldn't have an embolism. Doctor said it was muscular skeletal, which is a relief. But not sure when I can start the xarelto again, have another surgery coming up very soon. Guess the heart will have to wait for some other things to get better.

Now everything is pretty copacetic but I now know that I should never should have tried to manage these complicated drug interactions on my own.

I learned something.

Tennessee Stud

Bring it.

Alhambra steps
Elisabeth Kubler Ross (1926-2004) was the pioneering Swiss American psychiatrist who first articulated the concept of five stages of grief in her seminal 1969 book On death and dying.

The five stages in what has become known as the Kubler Ross Model are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

We all face hardship and the prospect of a potential life ending event differently.

I have faced a lot of existential crisis in my life, actually started dying and the physical process of necrosis during one particularly bad event back in 1974.

The doctor told my mother and I that I had a damaged liver somewhat akin to what an eighty year old alcoholic might have, he predicted I would not make it even three more days, my pancreas emptied, I threw up bile, feet started itching incredibly.

I was a goner. Dying. But somehow, with my mother's help and the blessings of providence, I pulled through. There have been many such events in my life, unfortunately. The rumors of my impending demise have been greatly exaggerated.

My dear friend Kerry called me a cat the other day, said I obviously had nine lives. I asked him to stop with the nickname, said it bothered me and when he asked why I said because I've already cycled through nine lives at least. Need to try to find another metaphor that will give me a fighting chance.

When faced with such life and death questions, my go to reaction in regards to the Kubler Ross Model has been anger. Not proud of it, it is just me. I don't think I need to recount specific instances, take my word for it. But serious illness has a way of really pissing me off.

I saw a Rice University study many years ago that said that strangely, the angry people lived the longest. Must be a matter of will, I don't know.

I am out of the woe is me, whacked out stage with the current kerfuffle. Not in denial, no longer depressed, some anger. I guess I am now mostly in the acceptance stage with a touch of bargaining.  Been here before, will roll up my sleeves and deal with it. I know how to as well as anybody. Have no idea what the universe has in store for me? But I am an old hand. Bring it on but bring your lunch, fucker.

Because I never stop fighting and I'm not laying down. You are dealing with one angry son of a bitch. I bet on me.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Shouldn't have took more than you gave

Dave Mason

Leslie and I saw a fabulous concert last night up in Riverside. Accompanied by a bunch of friends we saw a double bill of Dave Mason and Richie Furay at the elegant Fox Performing Arts Center in downtown Riverside.

This is one of the most beautiful venues I have ever witnessed a concert, rivaling and perhaps exceeding the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara. Splendidly renovated in its early Spanish Revival style, the decorated beams, tile work and fixtures are simply breathtaking. Before the show we had a nice dinner next door at the Food Lab and walked around the historic and magnificent Mission Inn. This part of Riverside is looking great these days.

Richie Furay started the show, accompanied by Mason's band as well as his daughter and another guitar/harmonica player. We were treated to his fine, strong voice and a great selection of work from the Buffalo Springfield and Poco. He really seems to be enjoying playing again.

I have not seen Mason live, saw Traffic after he left the band, but have caught a lot of his performances on line. He seems to only get better with time. His touch and feel are impeccable and reach right in to my personal wheelhouse. I love his music.

I can't break down the setlist, every song was fabulous. Highlights for me might be the rework of Low spark of high heeled boys and Shouldn't have took more than you gave.  Excellent performance of Watchtower. The Feelin' Alright encore with the band and Richie and his players, as well as an active audience participation, was joyful and robust.

Dave is in his seventies. He sat on a stool part of the time and people brought him cups of tea throughout the performance. He played a lovely red stratocaster and waxed about it prosaically. He mentioned at one point that you had to learn to sing to get gigs but that he was really about the guitar. I think he sings beautifully.

But his guitar work is stellar. His command reminds me of Jerry, it always has. A very well rounded and lyrical tone. Would rather see Dave play guitar than just about anybody out there right now. His music speaks to me; and I am a rather critical sort.

Hope to see him again one day and can't wait to return to this beautiful theater to see more music.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Friends like us...

Like clockwork, America screws the Kurds again. With Turkey allowed to enter Syria unabated in order to vanquish their enemy, things could very ugly and horrible. Our empty words and alliances once again mean nothing. The Kurds were the only stabilizing force in the area, instrumental in the fight against ISIS and now we abandon them and throw them to the wolves. The Ottomans destroyed ancient Kurdistan, talk about a people that deserve a homeland. Of course to the Turks, they are simply "terrorists." Just in time for the opening of the new Trump Tower in Istanbul.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Sacred spot

I have a lot on my mind, a lot of crucial decisions to make. I would be lying if I said that they were not wearing on me. They are.

So I ducked out to my sacred spot yesterday to be alone in nature, to consort with the birds and the bugs in the solitude.

Seems like it is becoming the normal thing to do on a Friday. Go to the place where it usually all gets sorted out for me.

Saw one other person, a girl on a horse, far out of lens shot.

Gave me plenty of time and space to think. Took a little hike.

I decided that I like the San Jacinto Wildlife Area at any time, any season. Even now, the down time before the ponds are filled. I am always touched by something beautiful while I am there. Like the lovely kestrel on the dead branch.

Or the magnificent jeweled plumage of this white faced ibis in flight.

I went out on the dog training road, looking for burrowing owls again, got skunked. Not much near the Walker Ponds either.

But I didn't care.

This guy to my left just might be a tri colored heron. I can't decide.

Just felt good to be back in my natural element.

If I had to do it all over again and none of us ever are given the chance, I might have leaned towards becoming a wildlife photographer. What a great gig that would be, traveling to great spots all the time and shooting nature.

If I ever hit the lottery I will buy an old jeep and never wash it once and just travel the back roads, record, ponder and take it all in. Guess I better buy a ticket.