Monday, January 30, 2012

My Apple Then And Now

My search of my photo files had another mission. In that search, I happened across a series of photos that I had taken at the Computer Museum in San Diego in 2001 (closed since my visit). One of those finds was this photo of an Apple II plus.

That Apple computer dates to 1981. My first Apple was purchased about that time. Had an Apple IIe. The Wikipedia web site said that the Apple IIe was available in 1983. Thought I had my Apple IIe in early 1982. Perhaps, my memory is a faulty recording device.

Today, this is my computer station in the cramped quarters of Wandrin Wagon. The MacBook Pro is the computer. The monitor, printer, pen tablet, Time Machine disk, speakers, Verizon MiFi and keyboard are the attached peripherals.

These older eyes need the larger monitor. Since I learned to type (not fast) on that ergonomic keyboard about 15 years ago (Yup. Learned to type in my late 50s.), that is what I have to stick with. Tried to retrain myself on the straight keyboard without success. Actually, there really was no reason to make the switch.

It was thirty years ago with that first personal computer. Today, my collection of Apple devices includes that MacBook, the iPad, and two iPods. No iPhone. Yet. Probably will stay that way. Finally have figured out the difference between need and want.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Month Later

Mid December when I arrived in Tucson for a three month stay, I had some concern about my ability to survive without getting stressed out. Now I am beginning to wonder about that inevitable day when I will have to hook up and head north. It will have become too comfortable not having to hitch up all the time. Routines will have set in. At any rate, that is all projection about a future.

The Diamond J RV spaces are large. No passing a cup of sugar to your neighbor from your RV's window. Some RV spaces back up to the desert and others look over the wash that runs through the park. I have neither of those, but my lot location has a great view of the Tucson Mountains from my "table for two". Seated at that table for breakfast, my social hour or dinner, the Tucson Mountains scenery changes as the sun moves. Okay. So it is the earth that moves. The landscape colors change throughout the day. Not a tiresome view.

This remote location also provides night time interest. In the middle of the night, it is not unusual to hear the great horned owl or the coyotes. Also heard a mockingbird one night. Some of the guests on the wash or those backed up to the desert have seen the javelina in their back yards. Not seen any at Wandrin Wagon. One night I hung garbage on the railing as bait to see if I could draw one in. Didn't happen. That approach worked several years ago when boondocked at nearby Snyder Hill.

With lots of exploring to do, I've been keeping busy. Two days a week it is hiking. Steve (park resident/guest) leads the hikes. Good for me. I don't have to do any hike planning. I just show up. Tuesday morning, the hike is in the desert behind the park. A short hike with little elevation gain, it is more like a walk in the park. Thursday or Friday, there is a more serious hike with elevation gain and requires a drive to the trail head.

The most recent hike was to the Quantrell Mine on the slopes of the Santa Rita Mountains. The trail to the mine offers a profile view of Elephant Head.

For me a negative at the Diamond J is the poor cell phone (Verizon) service. Considering there are cell towers less than three miles away, this should not be an issue. However, digital signals are essentially line of sight. For me that signal may be blocked by another RV or a dense grove of saguaros. The park's Wi-Fi provides backup when the Verizon signal is overloaded.

The other possibility is that there is too much demand for the Verizon band width rather than signal quality. Two o'clock in the a.m., the throughput is fine. Looks to me like too many people with unlimited plans downloading stuff during those daylight hours.

Depending on one's point of view, the 15 miles to downtown Tucson (and other exploring destinations) could be a negative or a positive.

The three months here will go fast. With relatives, friends and road acquaintances living here or passing through, I may not be able to do all those exploring items that are on the list. Whatever. Life is great.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Unusual Saguaro

On a return from a hike, Steve decided a detour was required to point out another unusually shaped saguaro. Part crested and part the usual and then back again. Another of Nature's marvels.

Perhaps it is Nature's way to introduce some whimsey in a world of sameness.

With all the variety of shapes and arm configuration of saguaros, I continue to search for that artistic version that appears on many Tucson based brochures. The artistic version has only two arms coming from opposite sides and one comes out of the saguaro higher than the other. It is a harmless search and keeps me from looking at my feet all the time when hiking.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Breakfast At The Stockyards

When in Tucson, I have the pleasure of joining Flora and Phil in eating at "off the chain" restaurants. Always interesting and novel. Sometimes they are way off the chain. Local cafes in strip shopping centers in parts of town that have seen better days.

Yesterday's visit was a different experience entirely. Previous dining was in Tucson. Today I met Flora and Phil at the Marana Stockyards at the Cattleman's Cafe. Stepping out of Silver Slug, the cattle odor was in the air. No fancy horse and saddle for the rider I noted. This was no pampered horse. No blanket. He had a heavy winter coat of hair.

After Flora and Phil parked their mini Cooper, we walked into the building. I hoped that the barnyard odor wasn't going to accompany the dining experience. It didn't. With a good job of air control we had breakfast with the breakfast aromas. We arrived early so we could eat before going to the livestock sale. As we chatted and ate our breakfast, the ranchers arrived wearing cowboy boots and jeans. Most also wore cowboy hats. A few wore baseball caps. And they had breakfast with their hats on. Ages were from the 20 and 30s to some who were our ages. It was all men with a just a couple of women. Lots of cell phones and smart phones were in evidence. Hey these guys aren't hicks. They're businessmen. In the cow ranching business.

Soon it was time to head to the arena to witness the livestock auction. With lots of help managing powered gates, it was a fast pace as the cattle came in and frustrated themselves in the ring for about a minute as the auctioneer encouraged the bidding. Sometimes the bidding continued as the next cow(s) entered the arena.

During our stay short stay it was all cows that were sold. A few of the cows relieved themselves in the pen. Fortunately, it stayed there. As one cow headed through the out gate her rear feet threw some arena crud in my direction. There it landed at my feet. Reminded me of days back on the farm.

Flora and Phil sure do now how to entertain the out of town folk. It was a fun experience and one that will be remembered. Including the crud that was tossed at my feet.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Breaking A Habit

Have been eating grains and grain products -- anything made with flour -- my whole life. Bread was also part of the recommended wisdom of the food conglomerates and abetted by their compatriots in the US government. I liked bread -- especially when it was loaded with butter.

After reviewing Gary Taubes book in Mainlining Butter, a follow up read was The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. Both books spoke to me. Just made sense. That was early last summer. Bad time to start new eating habits when I would be dining with friends and relatives during my summer in Colorado.

Both books said to eliminate grain products from the diet. My diet changed. The result was Wandrin Lloyd's variation of a paleo diet. I ate mostly salads, vegetables, some legumes and meats (grass feed beef) or chicken (dirty feet free range) or fish (wild). However, the grain products still had a very small place in the diet along with the occasional sweets.

Two months ago, it was time to get serious and eliminate the grain products (breads, pasta, sweet rolls) from my diet. After about two weeks, I no longer was gobbling antacid pills after every meal. Hmmm. Interesting. Costco was going to be in trouble economically. For many years, a large economy size container of antacids had a place in my larder. I ate them like candy after almost every meal.

No indigestion. Took a while to figure that out. Then I also noted that I hadn't had an attack of GERD (acid reflux) in the last month. Could these body reactions actually be attributable to grain products.

Then there was the time when the indigestion lingered for two days regardless of my antacid ingestion. So I headed to the hospital emergency room with what appeared to be a heart problem. Appears I had a "gluten attack". I am embarrassed to recall that experience. Seems there might be some new questions the doctors might want to ask the patients after discovering there really is no heart problem. Perhaps it might be a gluten problem.

Time to search the internet. Yes. Gluten can cause acid indigestion and GERD flare ups. And I had been living this way for seventy years. As a child, my parents correctly recognized that I had a food allergy to whole wheat products. My gut ached within an hour of eating whole wheat products. So while everyone else ate whole wheat, I ate white bread and white flour products. That didn't bother me. At least I didn't think it did. That was the end of the issue and life goes on.

As I thought about gluten and grain issue, I recalled the chest pains I had 40 years ago as a result of drinking beer. Another aha moment. Beer is made from grains. Further research on the internet. Turns out there are traces of gluten in beer. Guess I had found the trace. Pain is an incentive. Quit drinking beer at that time and switched to hard liquors.

Drinking beer was an easy habit to break. The bread habit is harder. Each time I go through the grocery bakery section, I have to move quickly through the breads and cookies. Gosh that loaf of Kalamata olive bread would be great. How about a chocolate chip cookie. Note to self -- NOT. Indigestion and pain are good incentives to change a habit. Seems to be working.

The yearning (or habit) for the bread remains, but at this point I am a "recovering bread eater".

Friday, January 20, 2012

Raptor Show

A must see in Tucson is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. With my three month stay in Tucson, I opted for an annual membership. That would allow for frequent visits of shorter duration rather than trying to get the moneys worth out of the one day ticket. Two hours is about all this old body can handle standing around and walking very slowly.

For me, the Desert Museum's highlight is the raptor show held at 10:00 and 2:00 every day. As a docent speaks describing the raptors we see, trainers are placing treats (meat) on dead tree branches in the demonstration area. As the raptor flies from tree to tree (overhead) for their treats, the audience gets a close up look at the raptor in flight and then dining on the treat (quail breast meat).

Three of the raptors from the 10:00 show: Gray Hawk, Great Horned Owl and Red Tailed Hawk. (Hope I recalled correctly.)

The show is a great place for photos of raptors in flight or closeups on the perches or on the arm of a trainer. Most of the audience had cameras. Several professional cameras were in evidence. There were the usual 1000 mm lenses. In case you're wondering... from my stable of cameras the Canon SX40 was used for these photos.

Already anticipating my next visit. Lots to learn and satisfy my curiosity. No doubt on a return visit, I will attend the raptor show again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dancing Saguaro

Found this saguaro at a one time mine site in the hills of Tucson Mountain Park. With arms spreading outward, this unusual saguaro recalled mariachi music and the dancing senorita with a flaring skirt.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ten Long Months Ahead

Four years ago in the Call-Me-Cynical post, I predicted McCain and Obama to be the nominees for the two political parties. That prediction proved correct. At one point during the 2008 campaign season (one long year), it may have been a toss up who would win. And then McCain put Palin on the ticket. Of course, 2008 is history.

At that time, in off the record conversations with friends, I said the Republican leadership told Romney to back off until 2012 and let McCain take the fall for 2008. Wish now I had also put that in my prediction.

It is a given that Obama will be the Democatic party nominee. No great surprise that Romney has already been declared the nominee for the Repulicans. Okay. So they didn't announce it. How about making it official and end the incessant political ads and rambling of the political talk shows.

The ordeal isn't over. There are 10 long months ahead to the elections.

How about an alternative to the usual suspects who wish to be US President.... Scott Adams -- the creator of the comic strip Dilbert -- would be an excellent choice. Adams blogged his Presidential bid on November 16th. There have been about half dozen blog posts since then detailing his qualifications and how he will operate as President. One of those was his Presidential Update. In a recent entry, he outlines Why You Should Vote For Scott Adams.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fine Dining -- Prickly Pear

Haven't seen any javelinas in my hikes and walks. However, their tracks remain and the prickly pear has evidence of a quick bite. You just have to admire an animal that chomps down on something that has spines an inch long. Then there are the fine little spines at the base of each of those long spines. Ouch.

The translucent green is the evidence of recent fine dining by the javelina. This plant has two pads. The pad on the left was recent dining. The pad on the right has had a chance to create scar tissue over the damage.

How about adding some prickly pear to your next meal. Since there would be few takers with a name like that, how about calling it nopales or nopalitos. Harvest and prepare the prickly pear and they make a fine side vegetable. At a Mexican restaurant, nopalitos are a great choice to accompany an omelet.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No More Morning Person

There was a time (30+ years ago) when I would get up before the sun so I could irrigate the garden. Great time to be up. It was quiet. Birds were just beginning to move and look for breakfast. Living on a high point, I noted the lights disappearing in the valley below.

The garden was therapy time. Weeding the garden while the water ran through the ditches. Whacking a weed is great therapy when envisioning it as some obstinate staff member or boss. Kind of like voodoo beliefs.

Cool summer morning air on the Front Range of Colorado. Soon the sun would appear on the eastern horizon to cast its first rays on Colorado's Long's Peak and its companion mountains. That was a magical moment as the range took on a red cast. And as the sun rose, the color cast changed to an orange to a pink and eventually there was no color cast but the distant dark blended colors of rock and trees accented with snow fields on those distant slopes. I never grew tired of the view.

As I recall those morning therapy sessions, I can still remember the view and recall the feel of the cool and moist air. Good times.

At my advanced age, I am no longer a morning person. Today on the slopes of the Tucson mountains, morning temperatures are in the mid 30s before the sun rises over the eastern horizon. My response is to pull the covers to my chin to enjoy the warmth for a few minutes longer. Unable to sleep, sometimes I pick up a book.

Eventually, I get up and perform the morning routines and have my breakfast shake. By mid morning, the temperatures have risen over that magical 50 degree number. Time to get out and do some exploring.

By the end of the day, I am looking forward to some clouds in the sky to provide a sunset to wrap up the day. Not too many clouds in recent days. Sometimes, sunsets are over rated. Look to the east to see the setting sun reflect off the hills and -- in this photo -- the saguaro. That is where a range of colors can be found.

Rising early on cold mornings to see a sunrise is over rated. I prefer warmth of the sunset hour.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Honesty In Obits

From a recent obit: "[name].., 99, ... passed away peacefully ... He died of old age; he simply grew tired of living...."

That is honesty. Don't see that too often in the obits.

My reading of obits isn't some morbid passtime. The ages of the deceased provide numbers for the lottery tickets. Okay. That's a joke.

The real reason.... Working on the genealogy of my ancestors and distant relatives has occupied some of my spare moments for over 20 years. Much of that research includes the reading of obituaries. Continuing to fill in dead ends (is that a pun) within my genealogy data base, I read the obituaries at several area newspapers from Green Bay and northeastern Wisconsin.

The most frequent euphemism for obituaries is "passed away". Two creative euphemisms found recently were "departed this stage of life" and "answered the call to our Creator".

Some people simply "died" while others: "died peacefully"; "died suddenly"; "died unexpectedly"; or "died after a lengthy battle with....".

Some obits could use an editor. One obit that comes to mind is the 98 year old who "died unexpectedly." Sorry. But it is not unexpected when one dies at the age of 98.

Perhaps reading obits is strange. However, it may also seem strange to wander through cemeteries looking for epitaphs. This deceased doctor's epitaph is great. What a prescription for life.

Don't have a photo of another that I had come across: "He was sick, but died well." Could be read one of two ways. He died with dignity. Or he recovered and died.

More honesty from the same obit first quoted above, "...he eloped with ...[name].... Thus began 69 years of a tumultuous marriage."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bird Watching

Social hour at Steve's allowed for bird watching. Caught this House Finch with a mouth full.

The social hour also allowed a review of our earlier in the day unsuccessful destination hike. Upon returning home, we both checked Garmin Topo maps and internet sites. We were close to the destination, but not close enough. Looks like we will have to repeat the hike and armed with additional data, we will be successful next time.

Perhaps some days, it may just be better to watch the birds. No complaints really. It was a good hike on a 70 plus degree day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Saguaro Oddity

With Steve in the lead for a hike from the RV campground, we headed off to see a "many armed" saguaro. This many armed saguaro is not what I expected to see.

Wonder if those stubby arms will eventually become something like this many armed saguaro found years ago in the Mesa Arizona area. It has arms with arms.

Those who study saguaros have no explanation why some saguaros will have multiple arms while others seem to just grow an arm or two. Then there are some that have grown to a 20 foot tall column without any arms.

During the walk, I noted that the recent rains have had a noticeable impact on the girth of the saguaros. Any more heavy rains and the local saguaros might OD to their detriment as they become top heavy with water.