Category Archives: Health

Long Valley Flowers

Last Saturday we were in Palm Springs. One of the things that I love to do but don’t do nearly often enough is hiking out in the woods and getting out into the wild a bit.

Outside of Palm Springs is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which goes from the desert floor (at about 2,600′ elevation and 110ºF+) to the top of San Jacinto Peak (at about 8,500′ elevation and 65ºF). At the station on the top there’s a fairly steep ramp that goes down about 100′ to the floor of Long Valley where there are a couple of short (0.75 miles and 1.50 miles) day hike trails. I took the longer, “Desert View Loop” trail.

Along the way I saw these flowers.

They really stand out!

No clue what they are. A Google image search found a lot of African flowers that are bright red and growing out of pine needle ground cover, but the closest I found for a southwest US setting was captioned “scarlet gilia, also called skyrocket.” That ‘s probably not quite correct, but it might be close.

Anyway, when I eventually go out on what I thought was going to be a 30 minute day hike over flat ground and instead spend two hours going 2.5 miles at 8,415 feet including two fairly steep trails going up a couple hundred feet and thin air with (STUPIDLY!! 🤨 Yes, I do know better 😫 ) no water at my age thinking in my poor, pathetic brain that I’m still 25 instead of 65, when that day comes and it finally kills me (I hope that day will be far in the future, but…), plant some of these on my grave. 😁



Filed under Death Of Common Sense, Flowers, Freakin' Idiots!, Health, Paul, Photography, Travel

On The Side Of Caution

I’m never sure if it’s me or the machine that’s failed (actually – it’s me) but I don’t want to find out that I’m slightly dead if the machine is working just fine, so generally I’ll re-take the readings.

Fortunately, it’s a known issue and the recommended workaround is just to take the reading again. It turned out fine, I’m no more dead than I am most other days.

What a relief!

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Los Angeles Mask Usage Data – June 20th

First of all, Happy Solstice! At 03:32 UTC tonight (20:32 PDT, 23:32 EDT) we were at the point where the Sun is at the highest point relative to the North Pole due to the Earth’s 23.4° tilt relative to its orbital plane. In other words, the longest amount of daylight and the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest amount of daylight and the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. From here on out, the days get shorter a bit more every day, until the situation is reversed and the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest daylight on Tuesday, December 21st, at 07:59 PST.

It’s a cyclic thing.

California has officially come out of the pandemic lockdown and as of Tuesday, June 15th, in most places masks are no longer required for fully vaccinated people.

Key words in there – “in most places,” “required,” and “for fully vaccinated people.”

I thought it would be interesting to see how many folks are still wearing masks in general today. In this section of California, compliance with the mask and social distancing mandate has been pretty darn good in most places. I don’t recall seeing a single unmasked person in the grocery store or any other indoor space in well over a year. Granted, I haven’t been out that much at all, mainly just to the grocery store once a week and the odd other store run here and there. But I figured that now that the mask requirements have been lifted, we’ll start seeing folks ditching the masks. I was curious as to how fast it will happen.

Places like the gas station, where you’re outdoors to begin with? I was sure that we would start seeing masks being a rare thing. Much to my surprise, I haven’t seen it yet. The last time I got gas, last Sunday, everyone at the pumps, without exception, was masked up. Let’s say that it was a pleasant surprise.

At the grocery store last week and this, I again was pleasantly surprised to see all employees and all customers masked up. I’m betting that a lot of places, particularly those handling food, will keep requiring their employees to be masked for some time, just to reassure  their customers that it’s safe. (And health care and hospital facilities are exception to the lifting of the mask mandate – EVERYONE’s still required to be masked up there, and my money says that requirement will stick for quite a while.) But I was sure that this week I would see at least one or two of the 50-60 customers in the grocery store going unmasked – nope, not yet!

At the restaurant where I pick up our to-go breakfast every week, it was packed due to Father’s Day and folks who were eating were of course unmasked. But of those waiting for a table or waiting to pay or waiting for a pickup order, all except for two young guys (20-ish?) were masked.

So we’ll see how long this goes on. I think there are a lot of other variables, in particular how the Delta variant affects infection, hospitalization, and death rates. We’re down to less than 10 deaths a day in LA County, and while that’s not zero, it’s a LOT better than the hundreds and hundreds per day that we saw just five or six months ago. But if Delta doesn’t cause a huge fourth wave, opening up the theaters and ballparks to full capacity doesn’t trigger a new outburst, and more and more people can finally get convinced to get vaccinated, we’ll see if mask usage becomes an “only when required” (i.e, hospitals, public transportation, etc) item within a few weeks.

Personally? I’ll still be wearing one in public and indoors for a while longer. I want to start getting outside for more exercise ASAP and I’ll carry one them should I end up in a crowd or indoors someplace (i.e., stopping at 7-11 to get something to drink while out on a walk or run) but I won’t use it or need it when I’m just walking down the sidewalk. On the other hand, any time I’m in a situation, indoors or outdoors, where someone else asks me to put a mask on, I will. It’s not a big deal.

As for anyone who wants to ask me why I’m still wearing a mask indoors when it’s not required? Well, they’re “special,” in particular those who want to be in your face out of nowhere about something that’s absolutely none of their god damn business, so they’ll get full frontal snark right between the eyes from the beginning. Just sayin’.


Filed under CoronaVirus, Health, Los Angeles

Calm Alternative

So, having utilized and enjoyed the Calm app yesterday, tonight I used it again for a while. And found that I need a bit more variety than rain on the strawberries or babbling brooks.

Not in a music mood (which is…odd) either, so what’s a good alternative?

Thanks, brain! That’s a good suggestion!

The app fit the bill just fine, the LAX Tower (North/South) feed to be specific.

Whoever said that air traffic is picking back up hit the nail on the head – it’s almost midnight and the incoming and outgoing traffic is constant.

It’s a comforting noise for a pilot who hasn’t been in the left seat in far too long. Sort of like listening to a baseball game, wonderful, calm, happy background noise.

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Filed under Flying, Health


I’ve heard of the “Calm” app, used for meditation, relaxation, white noise, stress relief, and so on. A couple of folks at work (back in the days when we congregated in this odd place called an “office“) swore by it.

These days I was thinking about something like that, and checked it out. Okay, I can give that a shot, skeptic though I am.

$59.95 a year.

I’m also an incredibly cheap skeptic about certain things, for the record.

But then I remembered that we were told a year or so ago, once the pandemic was really picking up steam and ye olde shite was really hitting ye olde fan, that Kaiser Permanente Medical clients could get it for free. Was that deal still on the table?

Yes, it is! Score!

No meditation yet, no time. (Yes, I know the old joke. Guru – “You must mediate twenty minutes a day.” Student – “BUT I DON’T HAVE TWENTY MINUTES TO SPARE!” Guru – “Ahhh. Then you must meditate forty minutes a day!”) But I am enjoying the white noise background sounds, particularly the variety of rain noises.

Am I calmer today? Maybe, maybe not. But I sure have to pee a lot more often!

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Health

Hummers In Silhouette

Maybe you won’t get much more than pictures and nonsensical rantings for the next few days

Only time will tell.

Definitely feeling a bit off, probably going to last 48 to 72 hours.

Everyone should know what this feels like. Seriously!

Random pictures of birds and flowers will get us through.

Never forget that it was April 23rd, 2020 when we truly started to know how unbelievably screwed we were with COVID-19 sweeping across the country and a psychotic simpleton in the White House.

April 23rd will be a holiday in our lifetimes, reminding us to be on the alert for fascists, white supremacists, puppets of enemy foreign powers, and any “leader” who would encourage hundreds of thousands of us to die rather than ever admit that they were wrong.

Got it?

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No Context For You – April 02nd

My teeth and gums and tongue and cheek all hurt again after Wednesday’s visit to the dentist.

It’s not as bad as it was Wednesday evening when the Novocain wore off. But what’s weird is how it felt fine yesterday. What’s even more weird is that the side that she worked on four weeks ago is the side that hurts more now than the side she worked on two days ago.

Plus, my tongue and the inside of my cheek is sore from being bitten and nicked while I had no control of pain feedback while all numbed up. On top of all of that, the side of my mouth (is there a technical, anatomical term for that that I’m too spacy to think of right now? the spots at the far left and right where the lower and upper lips meet?) is raw from having them yanking on it all day on Wednesday to get at the spots way in the back that they needed to reach.

Now I know how largemouth bass feel when they’re being reeled in.

What are you looking forward to doing this weekend?


Filed under Health, Paul, Photography


If any of all y’all are dentists (or dental technicians, or dental hygienists, or married or cohabitating with one, or related to one, or… you get the picture), I apologize in advance. This isn’t personal.

But I absolutely HATE going to the dentist.

I’ll admit, I hadn’t been in a while. Like, a few years. Probably more than five. Definitely less than ten. Part of it was switching jobs a couple of times, part of it was being without dental insurance for a while, part of it was being really, really busy at the last couple of jobs. But most of it was the aforementioned HATRED for going to the dentist.

Not that my previous dentist or the perfectly nice dentist that has taken over his practice aren’t perfectly lovely human beings. I’m sure they’re all kind to animals, spoil their children, and remember to call their mothers every weekend.

But they hurt you!

Granted, it’s much better today than it was ten or twenty years ago. Getting numbed is much easier, even if the stuff does absolutely taste like crap. But once again I’ve found that the cure is much more problematic than the disease.

I hadn’t gone for the last year primarily because of COVID and quarantine. I was well into the “I really should go in and get checked” phase of the mental process. But then along came COVID and no one in their right mind was going to the dentist and no dentists in their right mind were staying open for the better part of a year. Oopsie, out of my hands!

But they’re opening up, and by about the start of the new year there were a couple of days a week where I was a little sore in the toothage area, so the time had come. (For reference, on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is a twinge and 10 is screaming agony, I was having maybe a high 2 or a low 3 for a couple hours a week.)

I started going at the beginning of February, about eight weeks ago. It’s been…unpleasant.

First visit was X-rays and cleaning and an exam, which left my teeth still occasionally but now hurting worse. Plus my gums were killing me, which they weren’t before. Scale of 1 to 10? Now about a 4 to 5.

Second visit was a root canal and temporary crown, which just about as much fun as…a root canal? For the next week, on a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 7 or an 8.

Third visit was a permanent crown and three fillings. 1 to 10? A solid 6 for a week afterward.

Fourth visit today, well over three hours having another root canal, a temporary crown, four more cavities, and a thorough cleaning. Tonight I’m at an 8 or 9, and that’s with Extra Strength Excedrin every six hours, and that only because they didn’t give me anything stronger.

The best part is that I never know what’s coming up or how long it’s going to take. I didn’t have a clue about the “thorough, deep cleaning and scaling” at the end of today’s visit until I was done with the root canal and fillings and getting ready to leave. “We figured as long as we already had you numbed…”

I hate going to the dentist!

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Filed under Health, Paul

No Context For You – March 07th

Here more in the last two weeks or so than I have been in the last two years – never good, worse in these “interesting” times. All’s good (so far) but as Bette Davis said, “Getting old is not for sissies.”

Onward, to Monday!

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Health, Photography

Detritus Art

I got to spend way too much time today in a dentist’s chair (root canal – I’ll live, I might be cranky) and then got to stop by the hospital to pick up a couple of prescriptions.

These days, of course, when you want to get into a hospital you have to pass through a checkpoint, get your temp taken, and get screened (at least verbally, not with an actual lab test) for COVID. With a big hospital with a big organization, they need a way to make sure that everyone has been screened, so at Kaiser Permanente they give you a little colored sticker to put on your shirt. Every day it’s a different color, about all that I noticed when I’ve been there before in the last year.

When you leave, you can take off the sticker. Previously on the main exit from the facility there was a board where everyone stuck them. Simple. Easy. Elegant.

The board is gone.

Out in the parking lot, folks have spontaneously started putting their stickers onto whatever surface will hold them, primarily these bollards that are out at the edges of the parking lots.

Is it found art? It’s colorful! It’s an unexpected little bit of random whimsy and joy in sort of a grim and serious place!

Or is it just litter, junk, detritus, a pain in the ass problem that someone is going to have to clean up? One of those little things that no one quite thought through when the focus was on making sure that everyone could easily be ID’d as having passed the COVID checkpoint? An unintended consequence?

Or maybe it’s both?

I do notice now that it appears that every single day seems to have not just a different color, but also a different message. Heart health! Colon cancer, get tested early and save your life! (Yeah, that one, we can relate on a very personal basis!) Practice social distancing! (Some folks need to practice a lot more, they’re not doing it correctly still.) Mammograms! Prescription refills by mail! Exhibit gratitude to make someone’s day! Phone and video exams!

Keep your eyes open for unexpected beauty and whimsy, even if it is just an unintended consequence.


Filed under CoronaVirus, Health, Photography