Archive for August 2015


August 29, 2015

Our friend Andrea is still with this Saturday. We started off our day with a visit to the Korean Friendship Bell in San Pedro.


The Bell is located on South Gaffey Street in San Pedro. It was a gift of the Republic of South Korea in 1976. It is sited on a beautiful park with views of Santa Monica and the LA Harbor. We could actually see Santa Monica today.


Once we were done with the Korean Bell, we headed to Santa Monica to have lunch at Gladstones. As is common on any day in LA, the traffic is always heavy. Gladstones is one of the best sea food restaurant in LA with a view that can’t be beat. Andrea and I both had fish and chips, Paula had a shrimp louis salad. So we arrived at Gladstones at about 1 pm. We were seated immediately.


Once we were done with lunch, Paula and Andrea went for a walk on the beach. I sat in the shade in the clam shell pictured above. Of course, we paid the price of traffic on the way home down the 405 and the 110. So mote it be.

Dead Sea Scroll Exhibit

August 28, 2015

Our friend Andrea flew down to LA to visit for the weekend. Our first activity was to see the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the California Science Center. The exhibit is a seperate admission and one has to get tickets for a particular time. We opted for tickets for 11:15 today. Three senior tickets at about $16 a pop. Oh and don’t forget the $6 convenience fee. What a crock. We printed out the tickets and off we went. Parking was $10. No HP parking available so we had to hike from the back 40.

I feel that we were ripped off. We arrive in line at the appointed time and get in line. 11:15 isn’t the time you get into the exhibit. It’s the time you get to start waiting in line. We waited for about a 1/2 hour before we finally gained admission together with the horde of archeology fans. Paula and Andrea got the audio device for $5 each. I listened to Mozart Piano Concerti on my iPhone.

The exhibit was way over booked.  The exhibit will be at the California Science Center until Sept. 7. Once you got inside the exhibit you have to wait in line to view the artifacts. By the way, photography of all kinds was forbidden. I can understand banning flash photography, but no photography is just a brazen attempt to boost gift shop sales. But, I took some pictures anyway. First, I had to look around to see if any museum staffers were in the area. Then sneak a picture on my iPhone.

To be clear, the exhibit is not just the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is many more artifacts recovered from the Qumran region in the Judeaen desert of the West Bank. It probably adds to fullness of the exhibit, especially since I can’t read Hebrew. The actual scrolls were under glass and dimly lit. Very difficult to see.

The artifacts are an interesting view of what life might have been like 3000 years ago. I wondered who had the patience to put the pottery jars back together after being destroyed sometime in the long distant past.

It was an interesting exhibit but our enjoyment was lessened by excessive crowds.


August 26, 2015

IMG_2281Well COIN pushed an update to their app on iOS today. Part of the update was to add a feature to add a nickname to each credit card stored on the Coin device. Okay, to refresh your memory, Coin is a device that allows one to store up to six credit cards on the device. It has the same form factor as a typical credit or debit card. The deal is that you can reduce the thickness of your wallet from six credit cards to one.

The problem was that one had to remember the last four digits of each credit card so that one could select the one that you wanted to use. So for example, now you could assign a nickname like WF for a Wells Fargo card or BA for Bank of America. A feature that would be welcome and useful.

They also announced that would be a V2 version of the device. Current owners/users could upgrade for free. Well that’s nice. The V1 device seems to have some issues around acceptability at some merchants. ie. not everybody accepts it. That’s a big problem because it means that you have to have a real backup credit card in case the store can’t read the COIN.

The V2 COIN is also supposed to support NFC (Near Field Communication). This allows one just to wave the card on top of the POS terminal. This is the same feature that is used by ApplePay or GooglePay. If stores start supporting NFC, why would I need a card? I could just use my iPhone, Most stores aren’t anywhere close to accepting NFC,

Here’s the main problem. The V2 COIN won’t start shipping until Q1 2016. What they mean by that is the end of Q1 2016. Corporations often have a weird way of telling time. If I told my wife that I would be home by 9 pm and I walked in the door  at 9:55 she might be justifiably be upset. I said I would be home by 9. It’s still 9 o’clock. Time to duck. That’s seven months from now by my math.

Anyways, back to the update. I installed the update. I registered for the update. no problem. I am now aware of their method of keeping time. I managed to set one nickname. But I was unable to set another. At the same time my COIN seems frozen. No sync, Won’t turn on. I can’t prove that the update screwed up my COIN but it seems likely that it’s the culprit.

Time for another email to COIN support. They say to repeatedly push the on button until it unfreezes or let it sit for 24-48 hours. Sigh. My COIN is real close to being thrown in the back of the drawer with all of my other electronic gadgets that promised to change the world but didn’t.

If you’re thinking of buying one of these gadgets. Don’t.

Internet 101

August 25, 2015

Okay, I’ve worked on IT support for a long time. And one of things that I have learned is that the Internet is forever. That’s rule number one. There is also a corollary that states that “Stupid is forever”.

The only was to make sure that data is safe from hackers to put the server in a room, cut the cable and lock the door. And even that has risks.

So I’ve been reading about the Ashley Madison Hack. What you haven’t heard about this web site? Stop reading right now and Google “Ashley Madison Hack”. I’ve saved you the trouble, click here.

Okay everyone up to speed? Good. So here a few interesting points. Ashley Madison is site for seeking adulterous hookups. The hack contains data from some 32 million users of which 15,000 users had email addresses in the .GOV or .MIL domains. First, that means that people in our government and military are trying to carry on adulterous affairs. Second, they are too stupid to get a private account from Yahoo or Gmail. (which proves my point that “stupid is forever”.). I would bet that a lot of other users with .COM addresses were using their work accounts. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID. The idea of an affair is not to get caught. Duh.

Using your work email is just asking to caught. Storing illicit files (ie. naughty bits) on your work computer (or home computer, for that matter) is also just asking to get caught. All it takes is a trip to the IT support specialist or the help desk at Office Max or whatever. Then the fecal matter hits the air mover.

A few years ago I was asked to delouse a friends computer that had been infected by a nasty virus. The first thing I looked at after removing the virus was the browser history. To quote George Takei, “Oh my…” Needless to say, there were some unhappy folks in that household.

Even teenagers who use text messaging to exchange naughty pictures have discovered the dark side. Even the app SnapChat is not completely safe from malicious use. Maybe we need a course taught in junior high school on internet safety. Probably wouldn’t work. Some people just have to learn the hard way.

Moving on. Many politician are learning the hard way that what they said a long time ago can come back to bite them. The internet makes it easier to look up what a politician said long ago. Twitter has become both the blessing and the curse of modern politics. But what they say doesn’t go away. Ever.

Mickey D’s

August 21, 2015

This will be just a short post. Paula took Mary out to get her hair done this morning. This is the first time in a long while that she has felt well enough to go out for anything other than a Dr’s appt.

So, I received a text from Paula around noon asking if she could get me a burger at McDonald’s. I not being one to refuse a free lunch (Mary was paying). said yes. So I told her to get a Quarter-pounder with cheese. So Mary is feeling good enough to go to McDonald s. Let’s see if she manages to digest it properly. If so, we can declare her cured.

So now I remember why I don’t go to McDonald’s. (I haven’t been to a McDonald’s in twenty years.) Their hamburgers suck. I received a piece of meat, slice of cheese, a squirt of ketchup and two pickles on a bun. The meat was probably cooked at dawn and zapped in the microwave.

If I want to have a fast food burger, I would much prefer going to In-n-Out burger. Fresh cooked patty, tomato, lettuce, and onion. It’s a pity that my East Coast friends don’t have In-n-Out in their neighborhood.


August 21, 2015

Well we had a wonderful weekend up in San Francisco last week. It was so nice to get away from the stress of caring for Mary. We arranged for the good folks from CarenetLA to take care of Mary while we were gone. We arrived back in San Pedro at about 7:30 pm on Monday.

Just before we left Mary told us that she would be more comfortable with someone there all night. Argggggh, So I talked with the scheduler at Carenet and she managed to arrange the staffing for most of the weekend. It can get expensive, but anywhere close to what a nursing home would cost. Last time I checked, it was in the neighborhood of $10K per month. Ouch.

So, we think that Mary’s intestines are beginning to heal. We have a feeling the the diarrhea was related to the anti-fungal med that she was taking. We have started getting Mary to eat a lot of yogurt. The thing is we were trying to give her plain yogurt. She was not a happy camper on that, so we broke down and got some fruit flavored yogurt.

So now all we have to do is get her to build up her strength. We are planning on going to see the “Dead Sea Scrolls” exhibit at the California Science Center next week. We asked Mary if she would like to come. But we told her that we would need to get her a wheel chair. She said that she was not interested. Sometimes she can be very vain. She doesn’t want to be seen in public in a wheel chair.

Last week she had a pain in her left shoulder. This was the shoulder that she had surgery back in January 2014. So we made an appointment with the orthopedic Doc. He had her move her arm and squeeze his hand. So he scheduled X-rays. X-rays were negative.

She was mad because he didn’t do anything to make the pain go away. Looks the pain is easing somewhat with time.

Tomorrow, we have a visit with her hairdresser (Rose).

The Martian

August 20, 2015

The MartianI just finished the book titled “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Well it’s a sort of science fiction novel. It’s the story of an astronaut who gets left behind on a NASA mission to Mars. The six member crew aborts their mission after a serious dust storm on Mars. The commander believes that crew member Mark Watney perishes in the storm and orders the remaining crew members to hastily depart the planet.

This is the story of how Mark Watney struggles to survive after his crew mates have left without him. Okay, this is science fiction, but it is believable science fiction. It probably helps if one is a nerd or a geek to read this. There is a lot of technical mumbo jumbo.

He figures out how to produce food. Fix his living quarters and communicate home to the folks at NASA.

The book doesn’t real state what the date is, but I kind of inferred it was perhaps 30 or 40 years in the future. It is what one might imagine a Mars mission might look like.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. I read somewhere that a movie version is in the works. I kind hardly wait.


August 13, 2015

Not a good day today. Too many balls in the air. Paula had a meeting at the Asst League this morning.

Mary was complaining of pain in her left shoulder. This is the same shoulder that she had surgery on in Jan 2014 after a fall in December 2013. So we dug out the sling from that surgery for her to immobilize her arm. We then called her orthopod for an appointment.

So the appointment was for 11:00 AM. So Paula was tied up for her meeting. That meant I would take her for the Dr’s appointment. After much effort we got her dressed. The only way that I will let her out of the house in her PJ’s is on a stretcher heading to the ER. So Paula got her dressed. And off we go.

Parking at the orthopod is difficult. Certainly no HP slots available. Got a space in the basement garage and got her to the elevator and up to the Dr’s office. So far, so good.

Dr. comes in and talks with Mary and I. He has her try to lift and turn her arm, make a fist, etc. So he schedules X-ray across the street at Little Company of Mary Hospital. It’s a long walk. Certainly more than Mary is capable of, even with a tail-wind. So the nurse loaned us a wheel chair and off we go to LCMH.

Finished the X-ray. Texted Paula with status. Agreed to meet in LCMH cafeteria. We had about 45 minutes to kill waiting for follow-up ortho. By far the worst pizza and french fries I have had in a long time.

So I go to my car and fetch Mary’s purse and hand off to Paula. Ortho says no fracture, rest and take pain meds. Scheduled follow-up in a week. I am not sure what else can be done. Surgery isn’t really an option. Ease the pain and do no harm. Met Paula at the elevator and helped Mary up to our door. She was positively running on fumes.

I thought of taking a picture but thought better of it. You don’t want to see her looking that bad. Better to remember better days.

Well Paula is off to CVS to pick up Rx and a couple of other things. We are so looking forward to a weekend off.  God bless the care-givers.



The Grapevine

August 13, 2015

If you live in Southern California, you know about a stretch of road called the “Grapevine”. This post is more for my east coast friends who have never been west of the Mississippi. The section of road runs through the Angeles National Forest from the urban sprawl of Los Angeles to the acres of farmland in the California Central Valley. The road can be particularly nasty during winter months with ice and snow (but not so much of recent years). 

Often times we will stop at the town of Castaic for lunch. Castaic is the southern terminus of the Grapevine. Castaic is the last bit of civilization before we hit the Grapevine.

So we will be heading up through the Grapevine on our way to San Francisco for an OES reception on Saturday.

Here’s the map.

And while we’re on the subject here is in a blast from the past, Marvin Gaye singing “I Heard it though the Grapevine”

Listen and enjoy.

Stupid Questions

August 11, 2015

Last night we got a call from our son, Neil. We hear from Neil every now and then. Neil lives in Salt Lake City. Neil works for the local transit authority in SLC. He likes the job. It’s a good job with good benefits. He told us that he will be getting trained to drive the LRV (Light Rail Vehicle) Heavy Rail trains this fall. He will have vacation in November. He probably will come visit us in San Pedro.

So when he calls we usually put the phone on speaker mode so that we all can join in the call. Mary didn’t have anything to say but listened.

So here’s the stupid question. Later, after the call was done, Mary asks Paula “Do you wish Neil was living in San Pedro?”. Well, duh. Yes. But it’s not likely to happen.

This is the sort of thing we get from Mary a lot lately. People ask if she has Alzheimer’s. I usually say that I don’t think so. At least in my limited understanding of Alzeimer’s.. Click here for the Wiki entry. But some sort of dementia?  Yes. Her mind is slowly fading away.

For example, the other day she was feeling lonely. So she told me that she sure would like a puppy dog to keep her company. Those were her exact words “Puppy Dog”. So I ask her “Who is going to take care of a dog?”. Oh, I will she says. So you will take it for walks and pick up the dog poop? Oh, yes she says.

She was sounding like a five year old, begging for his parents to get him a dog. Here’s the women who can barely make it to the bathroom without help, promising to take a dog for a walk. Never mind that a puppy dog would out live her for many years.

Of course, you know exactly who would be picking up poop and feeding the dog. Moi. So I  told her that a puppy dog is not in the plans. Of course, she will forget the entire conversation by today.

A couple more thoughts and then I will shutup. We are coming up on our three year anniversary of our moving to San Pedro.  Three years ago today, we were in Memphis, TN touring Graceland.  Without us, Mary would certainly be in a nursing home. Paula is an only child, so there are no siblings to share the load. 

Indeed, if Mike and Neil were still living in Mass. we would never have moved out here. We would have loaded Mary onto a big silver bird and taken her back east to Mass. But that didn’t happen, did it.