Friday, December 31, 2010

Competent People

I'm always appreciative of competent people, whether it is my doctor, a nurse, a clerk, a bartender or what ever. I'm talking about people who are good at their job, are cognizant of what is happening around them as they work, stay focused on the task and do it with good cheer. All too often I see crabby people who don't like or want to work and bring down everybody around them. Right now the the song "Don't worry be happy" pops into my mind. The competent workers anticipate problems and deal with them quietly and quickly. They make the customer or patient feel comfortable and they perform the necessary task as efficiently as possible. Now I'm not suggesting that many doctors or nurses or bartenders are not competent except that sometimes they forget the good cheer. I could also be accused of this especially when I'm working on the house. We are never too old too learn.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Health Care

My health insurance through a group plan went up 10 percent a year for three years and thirty percent this year. Recently I was able to find less expensive but still costly insurance outside of the group plan. As long as private for profit corporations are the only option for health care, premiums will go up. Profits and high paid CEO's drive the cost up and are more important than providing health care. This nation will continue to pay the highest rates in the world under our current corporate rule. My guess is that a large percentage of the population annually pays more for health care than income taxes. Oh and we did get a tax cut last year although few people are aware of that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sweet Smells

Here are some pleasant natural fragrances that I enjoy. The fresh smell of water in the air right after a thunderstorm; a recently mowed lawn or hayfield. Salt sea air as the fog rolls in on a summer night. Spring time at home when the ceanothus or buck brush is blooming on the back hill. A spring time bike ride when the local flowers are blooming. The Tahoe and Sierra pine trees. The musty smell of my grandmothers cellar from long ago. Iowa farms as long as there are no cattle or hogs. Lastly, chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, okay maybe that last one is not a "natural" fragrance.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I was ready to take a Tahoe bike ride this afternoon and decided to cancel after seeing a dark gray sky and hearing some thunder. It was the correct choice. The skies flashed, threw ice cubes and then dumped. Coastal California where I live most of the time rarely has thunderstorms and I kind of miss them. Here in the mountains I find them refreshing as long as I'm in a sheltered place. Even a tent will do and that has happened on occasion. Most of the time these storms are a minor delay in a nice day. After the storm moves through it leaves a fresh fragrance like the day has been washed clean. Of course the flash (no delay) boom is a little scary and should be respected.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Yellowstone Park is the American Serengeti. I don't remember the park ever being so lush and green and overflowing with wild flowers. It is like a huge salad bowl for herbivores of which there are plenty. Deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, bison, along with black bear, grizzly bear, coyote, wolves, bald eagles, I saw all of them in a four day stay plus various other birds. This park is truly a national treasure and should be preserved in eternity. Thank you to President Grant who gave Yellowstone protected status and President Teddy Roosevelt who started the National Park system.

We saw elk but not the large herds we have seen in previous visits and we know that moose are there but we didn't see one. The highlights were the grizzly bear that walked around the car and watching wolf pups play on a hill side. I hope my experience is available and cherished by future generations.

Friday, July 16, 2010


True to my history as an athlete and a P.E. teacher I love to ride my road bike for the exercise and the joy of being out and around. The simple reason is it makes me feel better. A more complicated reason is it's a chance to feel like an athlete. Throughout my life I have watched good athletes retire from competition and sit in the rocking chair so to speak. Not for me, the athletic experience is one I fondly reflect on and one that I want to continue as long as possible.

Today's ride was a leap forward. Because of winter and an injury I had to stay off the bike for a couple months. The result was a loss of leg strength that became readily apparent climbing hills. Even the smaller hills brought complaints from the quadriceps, however a little work in the weight room and more work at climbing and the body, even old bodies adapt and get stronger. Some days I'm glad the ride is over, today I reached my mileage goal but I could have easily (mentally and physically) added more distance. I guess the endorphins were working.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup

As a long time soccer coach I am obviously interested in the World Cup, not a fanatic or into hooliganism but interested. Sports talk shows typically condescend about soccer most notably criticizing low scoring and insinuating there is a lack of action. These are the same sports talk shows that love golf and think a no hitter in baseball is a great game, yeah, two guys play catch, great game.

This year's World Cup does have one problem, I'm watching with the sound turned down or muted. Considering sports announcers sometimes hitting the mute button is not a bad move but that is not the concern. The vuvuzela, sometimes called a "lepatata" or a stadium horn, is a blowing horn approximately 1 m (3 ft 3 in) in length. It is commonly blown by fans at football matches in South Africa. These horns are a constant background annoyance which affects the enjoyment of the game. They never stop and the constant noise sucks. They should be banned, I doubt FIFA has the courage.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Future

When I think about my 10 month old grand daughter I have to wonder what kind of world she will see in her lifetime. My generation and those close to mine are using up the earth resources at an unsustainable rate. Peak oil was projected to be around 2006 or 2008. We are close to the downside or already there and it won't take a 100 years to use what is left. When I hear the "drill baby drill" mantra I say no, leave it in the ground for our grand children. Let's change how we live now so the children of today have some natural resources when they are old. It is not just about oil, it is clean water, arable land, pollution of our oceans to name a few. We need more public transportation, fewer sprawling suburbs, more alternative energy, less water use, more hybrid cars and less consumption. Personally I have a hybrid car, recycle almost everything, have solar panels and still need to do more.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Deal

I was able to get a very good deal on some computer software. I paid the bill, made the download and then the fun began. To make a long story short there has been countless hours on the computer, boring time watching the computer install the program only to spit out an error message. Calls to Microsoft and the software vendor provided little insight into the cure. I am not a person who likes to admit defeat but trying to solve the problem results in lost sleep and constant thought. Finally with the help of Google and a computer friend I was able to cure the problem and install the new software. In review if my time is worth anything then the software really wasn't such a good deal, but it would have been worse at full price. Now I'll try the install on the laptop with fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A bumper sticker allegedly seen on a truck in Texas. I like it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Kona is obviously dependent upon tourism. This morning another tour boat pulled in, that makes 4 in 5 days. They stay for the day and are gone by sunset, speaking of which here is a sample from two days ago. In the evening you can have a Mai Tai at Bongo Ben's or Lu Lu's and watch the sun go down.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

More Kona

If the country is in a recession it is not affecting the Kona Brewing Company. Business was good tonight and according to the hostess tonight was typical.

I'm surprised at the amount of traffic on this island but then public transits is nonexistent. Nevertheless there is a large amount of traffic everywhere we go. Question, why have a four wheel drive? There can't be many off road areas, the lava would shred the tires and I'm sure the island has never seen chain control.

Gas prices are approaching $4 and have surely been there before. I would think more fuel efficient cars would be the norm, not so. Kona has more than it's share of big four wheel drive trucks and SUV's. I have only seen a couple Prius. I guess I expected to see a more European style of auto. Oh and we rented a small compact vehicle.

A couple additional observations, we have not seen any travel trailers or motorhomes and there are no out of state license plates.


A few thoughts on Kailua Kona, we are here for our anniversary week, 40 years today. While the weather has been pleasant we haven't seen much of the sun. That was cleared up today when a local said it is the volcano. Apparently the volcano is creating fog and cloud conditions which depending on wind direction affect Kona.

Today another tour boat is in and the waterfront area just got grayer. This is the third tour boat in four days. It livens up the waterfront street of restaurants and t-shirt shops but the clientele is mostly over 50. The waterfront area remind me of Key West and a little American Graffiti with the locals dragging the main. Yesterday evening the red dress run came through town, females and males all wearing red dresses out for a run. "And it seemed like such a good idea when we were drinking."

This island is mostly one big lava rock, some of which look like recent flows. In the north the lava fields look very old with a cover of grass or trees. As we drive down the west shore there are lava fields with a scattering of trees and then others are just black craggy landscapes. The lava provides plenty of material for walls which are everywhere. They can be very old or recently built and they come in only one color, black. A couple days ago we walked around a wall that was 15 feet thick, 10 feet high and a couple hundred feet long. Someone spent a long time building that one.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Feeling good

I just blogged about seeing Clark's Nutcracker. I also posted that comment on Facebook and received this comment from a former student: I remember my dad pointing out a Clark's nutcracker to me for the first time when we were camping in Oregon. I think the whole point of the trip that was several days and many hundreds of miles was to find a three-toed woodpecker. That's a good memory with good timing too, as today would have been his birthday. Thanks Lee!

Skiing observations

I have been skiing at Heavenly Valley the last four days with one to go. The snow has been good and the legs are trying to keep up. Part of the draw of skiing for me is being in a beautiful place and enjoying nature and the scenery. The view from the top of the mountain is breath taking, many times I will just stop in the middle of a run when I come to a particularly scenic spot, and there are plenty of scenic spots on the mountain. Wednesday Lake Tahoe was as blue as I have ever seen it. Of course I left the camera home. Today at the bottom of my favorite run two Clark's Nutcrackers greeted me from just a few feet away. I've heard them many times and keep looking for them as I ride the chairlift but this is a first time close up sighting in at least three years. Tuesday morning as I ate breakfast three coyotes walked by the house. As my friend Nick says, they own this place, they were here before we were. We are just renting from them. As I rode the first chairlift of the day there was a lone coyote track in the snow following the chair line. Last whenever I take the Canyon run I think about the bear that was in a tree a couple years ago. Of course good weather makes all this possible, when it is snowing, windy and cold, well then skiing just becomes an endurance contest.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We or Me

I've been away from this blog thinking I'm being too political. However this is a pivotal time in the history of this country. We are close to reforming health care and 36 million Americans really need help. My thought is we need to be more of a "we" country and less of a "me" country. There are American citizens out there who are out of work and don't have health care. Jobs are lost and prospects of getting employed are bleak. These are not slackers or welfare queens, these are hard working folks who can't find a job. The lack of health care is one more worry and many times results in the loss of life simply because people won't go to the doctor.

A for profit health insurance industry is not a national health care system. It only caters to those who can afford it or those who don't have pre-existing conditions. Sadly if we don't get reform health care costs will go up dramatically. Already we pay twice as much per person as any other country and have fewer people covered. The system is broken.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Prez in Baltimore

President Obama accepted an invitation to speak at a Republican retreat in Baltimore. With TV cameras rolling the President took questions from Republicans and gave a masterful performance. With no notes, no teleprompter and no foreknowledge of the questions he debunked their facts and their arguments. He continually showed a knowledge of policy and legislation and using their own words gave a firm rebuttal to GOP arguments. He seemed to know and understand GOP talking points better than they did. Using a sense of humor he chastised the GOP for their scare tactic as unproductive politics and not leadership.

This was television at its best and a wonderful view of the President. He was like a law professor lecturing a group of students. If you missed this performance there might be a rerun on C-Span, I'm sure the GOP won't invite him again with TV cameras running.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I have long stated we do not have a democracy in this country especially when special interest money, as we have seen in the health care debate, controls Congress. Now the Supreme court in a 5-4 decision, which really looks like "legislating from the bench", opened the doors to unlimited corporate money in political affairs. This is open season on bribery and will change the politics of this country.

As an individual it is difficult to be heard especially when lobbyist with their large bank accounts have much more access to Congress. Thirty years ago their were only a handful of lobbyist and now they are numbered in the thousands and when members of Congress retire or are voted out they join the payroll of lobbyist. Now the bank account of corporate lobbyist is unlimited, thanks to the Supremes.

Be aware in the next round of elections misinformation will abound. It will come from corporations intent on swaying public opinion and convincing them to vote for the corporate approved candidate.

Kiss your democracy goodbye it is now a plutocracy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Wow, a first for California, at least in my life. I have seen the TV interrupted with weather warnings in the mid west but never on the west coast. Just a few minutes ago we had a weather warning for tonight and tomorrow, thunder, hail, high winds, etc. It has been raining heavy for the last two days and tomorrow will be worse. Roads are closed, trees are down, schools are closed, power was out all day and it is getting worse? I know we need the rain but I prefer a steady downpour to high winds and lightning.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cat and Mouse

The cat dies in the morning and early the same night a mouse shows up in the loft. I'm beginning to think the mice know more about this house than I do. Unfortunately Mr. or Mrs. Mouse met an untimely fate caused by their taste for peanut butter. I tried to golf him but he was too quick and my golf swing is very rusty. So far no mouse search parties have been sighted.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Read to a boy, make him happy for the moment, teach him to read and make him happy for a lifetime. Reading is one of the great pleasures in life. So many books too little time. My personal preference is for nonfiction, I would like to think I've learned something after every read. I find a good author and then proceed to read all their books, I think I've read all of John McPhee's books. If I bought all these books I would be broke, the library is a great resource. I go to the book store, research interesting titles, then check them out at the library. Most of the time the library either has the book or is in the process of getting it. Sometimes the waiting period is a couple months but I'm patient. About once a month I'll buy a book from my favorite book store and then donate it to the library when I'm finished.

Last week was another fun read. A friend recommended a book, I happen to see it at the library and checked it out. It sat by the bed unopened a couple nights. Finally feeling very sleepy one evening I opened the book up expecting to read a few pages before dozing off. Four hours later and into the wee hours of the morning I was fully engrossed. Eventually I went to bed only to wake up, grab the book and continue reading. I finished the book within 24 hours. It is like the whole process picks you up and places you in some kind of neverland until the read is completed. Try it sometime and remember, outside of a dog a book is man's best friend and of course inside of a dog it is too dark to read.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Curious Thing

I always have a book by the bed and like to read before turning the light out. This isn't about the book or reading it is about the strange occurrence of time. It has happened many many times. I decide it is time to put down the book and turn out the light and the time is 10pm, exactly. Now you are saying I'm peeking at the clock and know what time it really is but no that couldn't be further from the truth. I may read a couple pages, a chapter or several chapters, when the eyes start closing I fold up the book, look at the clock and bingo it is 10pm, exactly. Sure there are times when it is 9:50pm or 10:20pm but the number of nights when it is 10pm exactly is freaky or surreal and it has been happening for years.