Dave's Journal, Mar2017



I never cooked asparagus before, so I just cooked them like brussel sprouts, and they were not bad. Not exactly a life-altering experience, but they came out good.

Dropped in on Mike for my Sunday afternoon espresso. We looked over the breakage of the huge willow out back (wind). I'd say that the branch weighed at least 10,000# and fell from about 70 feet .... that is a large trainload of energy when it hit the ground.

Sitting at the parlor table, overlooking the yard, I turned back to look into the room, and had the weirdest vision of my parents sitting on the sofa, enjoying their visit.

I've gotten used to Brother Bob following me around, but this was the first time that Mom and Dad just dropped in like that.

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla


The final scene with baby Godzilla
walking into the ocean
always makes me cry


This is roughly what voices sound like through my implant sound processor. But (as noted on my "Being Deaf" page) there is also a "telegraph key" pinging sound over every vowel (not heard in this audio file) plus the squeaks, chirps and chimes that are the other room sounds:

We're off (in the morning) to Meet Loretta in Virginia.


The Episode Down in Virginia






The Drama Plays Out .....

While clearing snow off the cars, Deb, who was by herself, stepped in a rut and badly twisted her leg. Hurt a *lot*, so she lied down in the back seat. I happened to look out and saw her and walked out, she got up and met me at Loretta's car. Sat on the bumper and just as I got there she went unconscious and lucky I was there to slow her fall down. We are both lying in 6" of wet snow. She is out cold. I yell for help. People running into the hotel and coming out with more people. I keep shouting "I need a baggage cart. Get a baggage cart". People keep running in and coming out with more people and I yell "The next person that comes out of that ####ing hotel without a ####ing baggage cart gets shot" .... someone got the message, and we wheeled the unconscious Deb into the hotel on a baggage cart.

She starts coming out of it. Medics come, they move her into the ambulance, check her out. Not her heart, not a stroke - she passed out from the pain, which was a relief to hear (considering the alternatives).

She declined a trip to the hospital, and they wheeled her inside to bed. I went out and bought her crutches. Next morning her ankle was hurting and purple-ish and we had it x-ray'd; no broken bones, but they wrapped it in a brace for the trip home (where she now is safe and sound).

Pictures from the NASA Air & Space Museum


I got to talking about cameras and all the lenses that I have, and someone commented how ridiculous I was to own all this photo gear. I was smart enough not to argue with the guy (would be like talking to a block of concrete), but I did start thinking about hobbies, in general. They are all silly, in some way. So I wrote down my thoughts ......

Weight Lifting: You pick up a big heavy weight, then put it down, then lift it again and again ..... until you are exhausted, muscles shaking. You know you'll need some Tylenol next morning. And you pay a gym $$$$ every month for the priviledge of lifting their weights. On the other hand, if you have a manual labor job where you are paid (*they pay you*) to pick up heavy stuff, you complain about it.

Playing Golf: You spend $$$$ on a set of clubs (maybe several sets for different courses and wind conditions). You pay $$$$ to hit a ball into a hole that is 200m away; this is not easy; you are constatntly frustrated. When it finally goes into the hole, you take it out and hit it over to the next hole that is even further away. You repeat this 18 times, have a few beers, complain about your shoulder or back, buy another club at the store you need to walk through on your way out.

Fishing: You spend $$$$ on a rack full of rods and reels, several boxes of lures, a small boat, a trailer to pull the boat, a big pickup truck to pull the trailer. You wake up while it's still dark, drive in the rain to a "secret" fishing spot, and sit there for hours in bad weather trying to outsmart a stupid fish. Finally you catch one, take a "selfie" with it, then throw it back. After hours of this, you pull the boat out of the water, load it up, drive home and spend the rest of the day cleaning your gear and washing the boat and trailer while your wife complains that the lawn needs mowing. You tell her "I can't mow the lawn in the rain".

Duck Hunting: This is similar to, but not as silly as, fishing, because, if you kill the duck, you take it home and eat it (if your wife has the moxie to pull the feathers off and cut the shotgun pellets out of it). The irony of duck hunting is the scene of one poor duck flying overhead and six guys in canoes shooting at it with semi-automatic shotguns.

Bowling: They put the pins up. You knock them down. They put them back up and you knock them down again, etc etc etc. On the way home you complain to your kids how boring your job (or housework) is because it's "the same old stuff, day-in day-out, over and over".

Art: you spend weeks, maybe months, sometimes a few years painting a picture or creating a sculpture. People look at it and say "Hmmmm" or "That's nice" or "What is that?". Then you spend weeks, maybe months, sometimes a few years making another one.


Speaking of hobbies, there is a hand painted cast resin (?) head of Obiwan. Take a close look at that, in fact the large version of this image is VERY impressive.

If my hands were steadier and my wallet a lot fatter, that's a hobby I could jump into ..... or maybe walk in gently starting with easy stuff.

That is just beautiful!

Thanks to Cousin Pete for sending the photo. (He's into this stuff.)

One Month After "Turn-on"

We did a soundbooth hearing test today. Listened to beeps of various frequencies and loudness, single words (male and female voices), complete sentences (with and without background noise). I scored 35% - 50% for the word tests; this may sound pathetic, but those are up from ZERO before the implant, and the doctor was happy.

I don't feel the tests are a very accurate quantificaton of my actual experience. In reality (around the house), my word recognition is enormously improved from before the implant; my participation in normal room conversations is greatly improved. I would call it 1000X better than before; so I don't quite buy the low test scores. I explained this and we discussed why this may be so.

They tweaked the programs in my implant, and even gave me one designed for music. I haven't tried this out at home yet, and I don't have a lot of hope, but then again, we are only into this for one month now.

I am scrounging around on-line for hearing exercises, and for good computer speakers, but this may get into Pandora's box - is my little netbook sound card capable of driving good speakers to replicate high quality sound???

From The Atlantic magazine website


"Two years ago, the Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton published an alarming revelation: Middle-aged white Americans without a college degree were dying in greater numbers, even as people in other developed countries were living longer. The husband-and-wife team argued, in a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that these white Americans are facing "deaths of despair" - suicide, overdoses from alcohol and drug, and alcohol-related liver disease.

.... whites aged 50-54 with a high-school degree or less had been dying at a rate 30 percent lower than that of that of all blacks in the same age group in 1999 ........ but by 2015, their mortality rate was 30 percent higher than that of all blacks in that age group. "

I went to the library and got a few audio book DVD's to play on my basement stereo system. One is playing now, and I hear it perfectly well, word for word. I expected to be struggling with this for weeks, as I expected it to sound like the tests we did yesterday. I expected to be doing on-line computer exercises to hear better, but I don't understand .... I don't get it. Do I hear well, or don't I ???

A Rant About Politics / Repairing "Obamacare"

"Obamacare" is like a car that needs an engine rebuild. It is a wonderful concept wrapped in a flawed law (as written).

The bickering over a national health care structure has been going on since just after WW2. Most notably the insane deadlock that R. Nixon and T. Kennedy trapped themselves in.

Political insanity!

Today's situation is that the R's have been raving and threatening to "repeal and replace Obamacare" now for 7 years. Now they are in power and today they could not even agree among themselves how to get this to happen. "Obamacare is the law of the land. It is going to remain the law of the land," [House Speaker Paul] Ryan admitted. "We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future."

We deserve a better government than this. We deserve a Congress and a President that will make deals, make compromises, make a governing set of laws that works for the 300million of us who have different expectations and views of where this country needs to go.

The R's went into this crusade, calling it "Repeal and Replace Obamacare" and they even needed to change the name from "The Affordable Care Act" to "The American Health Care Act" (who could vote against anything called "American", right?). Of course that tactic immediately alienated every D who liked "Obamacare" and every one who (didn't like "Obamacare" but) needed to defend it for political loyalties. The R's basically declared war and attacked quickly. Sadly (happily??) they were not well organized and in agreement among themselves to win this skirmish. In fact, many R's were not even told exactly what was written into the new law they were being asked to approve.

We, the People loose again. Not that I want Obamacare repealed, but I do want it running smoothly (not having insurance companies drop out of participation) and not guzzling so much gas (via taxes). This was "do-able", but Congress has failed again because they are too busy fighting with each other, rather than fixing what is broken.

If .... If .... the R's would have taken a sane, compromising approach and named their crusade "Repairing Obamacare" (which actually should have taken place maybe 5 or 6 years ago), today, the flaws and kinks would have been smoothed out and this complex law would be well on the way to running smoothly (like that engine I mentioned earlier). Instead, we are still stuck with a sputtering, gas-guzzling engine in a (theoretically) wonderful car because the mechanics we hired refuse to work together and fix it.

Executive Orders

Writing presidential executive orders to establish a national policy on something (let's say energy) is a fools game; all our recent presidents have been doing it and that says a lot (doesn't it?).

It's a president's end run around a congress he knows will not vote for what he wants. So he writes an EO and "that's that" he figures.

Until the next guy gets elected and unwrites that EO and writes his own, then the next guy etc etc etc .... you get it, right?

Everyone seems to be aware of this except the presidents.
How many generations of presidents do you think it will take before one of them evolves into someone who can figure this out?

Sex and Toilets

Did you ever think that one of the big political / public debates Americans would spend time debating would be about who should be allowed to use which toilet?

Breaking it down, as I see it, we are talking about men, women, transvestite men, tranvestite women, transexual men, transexual women, transgender men, transgender women, bisexual men, bisexual women and (at last, my favorite from Greek literature) hermaphrodites.

But toilets are only labeled "Men" and "Women" .

I'm imagining a cartoon with 11 restrooms (each labeled as above), a person standing in front of them pulling his/her pants open and checking themselves to see which door they should enter.

Now I'm imagining that behind all the doors (that were made to comply with the law) there is simply one huge rest room for everyone (and no one inside really cares).

I get two EKG's / year, and yesterday was the day; doctor says blood pressure and heart rhythm look great - "just stay on those meds". Okay doc.

So, given those healthy scores, I figured I had some dietary slack and this morning I met an old GE buddy for breakfast and had poached eggs over home fries smothered in hollandaise sauce. Then for lunch (at the art museum) I had a chocolate cookie and some kind of apple-chocolate wedge of cake.

Bought a book (about the American painter Andrew Wyeth) at the museum store and saw a copy of the Koran they had under glass. Never saw it before. Writing is kind of neat - very curly swirly lines and decorative symbols.


Hello, I'm Dave, and I'm a Lens Junkie


I'll close out March with a picture from our parlor window just now.