Category Archives: Ronnie

A Happy Birthday For The Long-Suffering Wife

She had a wonderful time taking the day off work and going shopping for my gift to her. Turns out I got her some lovely diamond earrings that were just exactly what she was looking for!

  1. I am truly a warm and wonderful husband
  2. I highly recommend this technique to everyone else. Since we worked out this system, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten her anything that she didn’t like!

Meanwhile, after a lovely dinner, the sky decided to put on a more than decent display for the first time in a while.

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While only about 100°F today instead of 111°F, the humidity was up along with the arrival of the pretty clouds. No yin without a little yang.

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Does this formation mean that Malcolm McDowell is up on a mountaintop nearby with a rocket launcher?

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The light was fading fast, as I am now.


Filed under Photography, Ronnie, Weather

Patricia Willett (1935-2015)

If you’re not one of the newcomers here, you may remember that I spent two weeks in July and August of this year in Vermont, in part to visit high school friends and family, but primarily to visit my mother. Mom had a serious stroke in early July and her 80th birthday was July 31st. We weren’t at all sure she would make it to celebrate that party, but she managed to hang in there and beyond.

This morning I got the call that I knew was coming one of these days. My mother passed away quietly sometime before noon, with family at her bedside.

It was bittersweet news, if not a surprise or a shock of any kind. Her overall condition had been trending steadily downhill ever since the stroke. That trend had accelerated in the last two weeks and we had been warned that she could go suddenly. It’s a huge loss to have her finally gone and we’ll miss her every day of our lives. But for a woman who had raised eight kids and was always on the go, active, happy, and involved, being unable to walk, talk, move, or even feed herself led to a marginal quality of life.

Enjoy the pictures from her party last July, but know that these pictures show who she truly was.

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Mom at her home in California before she moved back to Vermont, with my youngest brother and his wife.

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Mom, the Daughters, and the Long-Suffering Wife.

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Mom and The Son.

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Mom, the Older Daughter, and the Younger Daughter.


Mom and The Son when she happened to be on this coast and he happened to be home on leave.

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Mom and the Younger Daughter at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Stowe, Vermont, wandering through the graveyard of failed ice cream flavors.

Mom and The Son.

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Mom and the Younger Daughter.

Mom and Lucy in her backyard in Vermont

A partial family picture with me, Mom, the Long-Suffering Wife, the Younger Daughter, two of my sisters and one brother, and one brother-in-law. (Not in Vermont – the palm trees are a dead giveaway.)

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With the Younger Daughter clambering around the top of Stowe in Vermont.

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Mom with us, her youngest great-grandson, and my niece just after Christmas last year.

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Mom was always suspicious of me when I had a camera. The Long-Suffering Wife just ignores me when I have a camera.

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This is the last picture that I know of that gathered half of “the kids.” When I was back in Vermont in June, 2014 for my high school reunion, the four oldest kids in the family (in order, starting with me) were together, with the younger four in Texas and California.


Filed under Family, Paul, Ronnie

Los Angeles At Night

We had a lovely dinner with The Long-Suffering Wife’s cousins, aunts, nephews, and various spouses. We were at her aunt’s place right next to Beverly Hills, and the view there is always stunning. At night, it shines like a field of jewels.

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To the southwest, the illuminated tower on the right is the Latter Day Saints’ Los Angeles Temple on Santa Monica Boulevard. Far off in the distance, the lights on the horizon are Long Beach and the Pacific Palisades.

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To the southeast, the skyscrapers of downtown LA are straight ahead. The large street is Wilshire Boulevard, with the dark areas on both sides being the Los Angeles Country Club.

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Looking due east, the Hollywood Hills come into view. With a better camera (this is just from my cell phone) and a telephoto lens, the Hollywood sign is over there someplace.

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Due south are the skyscrapers of Century City and the Fox Studios.

It’s a wonderful view – for a propeller head like me, the coolest part is watching the jets line up as sail by, straight over downtown as they cruise into LAX off to the coast on the far right.

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography, Ronnie

Debating Seasonal Change

This is the time of year when we turn to one of the great pastimes of modern society – arguing about when Christmas lights and decorations and store displays should go up.

A couple of things bring this debate to the forefront of my cerebellum. First, as I mentioned, a neighbor has his Christmas lights (a single string along the gutters – pffft! – amateur!!) up and illuminated the day after Halloween.

Everyone active in social media has been bitching about “Christmas creep” for weeks as the first store displays started to rise. I saw reports of some being seen just after Labor Day. I don’t know about your neighborhoods, but here in the bee-YOU-tiful San Fernando Valley I saw my first of this year at Lowe’s, the day I was there for parts to fix the broken irrigation pipe. (Okay, to try to fix the pipe, followed by abject failure.) Then, a good number of places started to put up a little bit of Christmas material just before Halloween. After that? I don’t think the last trick-or-treater had gotten home and tucked into bed before legions of stock clerks descended on the stores to go maximum Christmas.

So is it Thanksgiving season? Christmas season? An all-inclusive, dodging-the-question-in-our-best-politician-style “holiday season?” Rabbit season! Duck season! Rabbit season! Duck season! Rabbit season! Rabbit season! Duck season! Duck season, shoot me, shoot me now! (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

I would propose that you’re all wrong. It’s catalog season!

We’ve ordered gifts from a lot of online and mail order places over the years. Not only do we get multiple catalogs from each of them, but when they sell their lists to other companies, we get all of those catalogs also. Then from a third generation of places we’ve never heard of when that mailing list gets sold…

Monday, the flood gates opened at the Post Office.

We have a PO Box and most of the year we can go a week or even two without it filling up. But in November and December, even going to get the mail three and four days every week isn’t enough to keep it from being so crammed with catalogs that you can’t get the mail out of the box.

Here’s Tuesday’s haul:

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Thirty-two catalogs weighing in at over seven pounds! Of the thirty-two, I only recognize four companies that we’ve ever done business with. And these are just the catalogs addressed to The Long-Suffering Wife! I had gone through the stack at the post office and tossed four or five more (airplane and photography stuff) that were addressed to me.

We’ll do this at least three times a week for the next nine weeks. That extrapolates out to just under a thousand catalogs weighing in at almost 200 pounds!

“Well, that’s the price of doing business!” you’ll say. “Bullshit!” I’ll say. After all of the trees killed, the production costs, the printing costs, and the mailing costs, how much business will they get from us?

Zero point zero dollars. Every single one of these catalogs went straight into the recycle bin within seconds, and 99.9% of the rest of that thousand catalogs will follow just as quickly.

In this age of Amazon Prime, internet shopping, and shopping from your freakin’ phone, why do companies continue to waste all of this money, time, effort, and trees on something that has such a pitiful rate of return?

Speaking of Amazon, how’s that deforestation thing going? If you’re missing a few acres of rain forest, I might have a clue about where it went.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Ronnie

Rainbow At Sunset

The Long-Suffering Wife, who knows me well and loves me and wants me to be happy, called on her way home from the office about a huge, bright rainbow.


Not only was it bright, but the secondary rainbow could be clearly seen outside of the primary arc.


There was a low layer of clouds that had moved in over the area and it was just starting to rain. The sun was setting in the west on the far side of this band of showers, allowing a few rays to peek through from beyond the rain clouds, creating the rainbow.


As the clouds were moving about and we got various paths and intensities of sunshine under the cloud deck, the rainbows would fade, brighten, fill in more of the arc, and then shrink back down again.


This close-up shows one of the coolest things to note about double rainbows – on the brighter, primary arc the blue and green are on the inside with red on the outside. On the lighter, secondary arc, this is reversed with red on the inside and blue on the outside.


I happened to glance back and saw the sunset behind me in the west was almost as spectacular as the rainbows in front of me in the east.


The only depressing part of the experience was noticing there’s a house up at the end of the block with its Christmas lights up and turned on already!! My Christmas light credentials are well established – every year we have more lights than the rest of the block combined. But at least I have the decency to wait until the Friday after Thanksgiving to start putting them up!


One last gasp with about 90° of arc and a dim secondary…


…while you can see the band of sunlight that found a way through the rain clouds to produce it…


…only to have it all fade to darkness as the planet kept on rotating, our location on it slipping past the terminator into night.

Thanks for the heads up, wife!!

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Filed under Photography, Ronnie, Weather

Single-A Baseball

For those of you not familiar with the American baseball system, under the “major leagues” (New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, etc) are the “minor leagues.” These leagues have teams that are generally affiliated with one of the thirty major league teams. They’re usually (but not always) in smaller cities and towns and they serve as developmental leagues for their “parent” teams.

Within the minor leagues, the Triple-A teams are for the players just below the major league level – many players in Triple-A have been up in the majors for at least a short period here or there, perhaps to fill in for a week or two when one of the major league players got hurt. The Double-A players are in need of a bit more seasoning before they’re ready to move up, and the Single-A clubs are filled with rookies and “prospects” who are learning what being a professional baseball player involves.

Being in Fort Wayne, Indiana, we had an opportunity today to go to the final regular season game for the Fort Wayne Tin Caps. The Tin Caps are the Single-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. They have a beautiful stadium right in the heart of Downtown Fort Wayne, just two blocks from our hotel.

We had bought our tickets online a couple months ago, so we got what turned out to be the best seats I’ve ever had for a ballgame, except for when my kids were a playing at the neighborhood ball park. Better yet, we got them for $10 each. For reference, at a major league game, $10 might barely get you nosebleed seats. Seats like this at a major league game are typically $100 or more. Someplace like Yankee Stadium it might be much, MUCH more.

Of course we got souveniers. I got a normal baseball cap, while The Long-Suffering Wife went a different route.


The “Tin Cap” nickname and the “apple wearing a pot” logo apparently come from the legend of Johnny Appleseed. Who knew?

While it was quite warm at our seats-with-the-best-view-in-the-universe (92°F with 50% humidity) there was no beating our view of the action.


Minor league baseball is a LOT of fun, with gimmicks and entertainment in between every half inning. Our favorite was Jake the Diamond Dog, a very well trained Golden Retriever. Jake carried baskets of bottled water out to the umpires, ran out onto the field to fetch foul balls, and was acting Bat Boy two or three innings, playing “fetch” with the biggest sticks around.

It was a great day for the home nine (not so much for the visiting Bowling Green Hot Rods) with the Tin Caps winning 17-0. (And it wasn’t as close as it sounds.) But for a fun day in the sun, watching kids that might be major league stars in a few years, it was a great, fun experience!

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Filed under Photography, Ronnie, Sports, Travel

Panorama: Seattle Aquarium

Seattle is a most wonderful place to visit. Among its many other charms (Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Museum of Flight, Pacific Science Center, EMP Museum, and Safeco Field, to name but a few) are the Seattle Aquarium. Otters, otters, otters!

2005_08_16 Panorama (Seattle Aquarium)

This panorama comes from six images of 2592 x 1944 pixels (5 megapixels each) combined into an image of 10031 x 1644 pixels (16.4 megapixels).

Yes, it was grey and gloomy the majority of the time we were there. The tourist board can talk all they want about how it’s not really like that, but you couldn’t tell by us. It’s okay, we liked it just fine. Can’t wait to go back.

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Filed under Panorama, Photography, Ronnie, Travel


One absolute about me is that I am a passionate non-smoker. I’ve always hated the smell of cigarette smoke of any sort and there aren’t many more miserable experiences for me than being trapped in a situation where others are smoking.

My first visits to Las Vegas (passing through on the way to Bryce and Zion National Parks in southern Utah) were memorable for the way even the tiniest hotels on the interstate, well off The Strip, were still a miasma of grey toxins from all of the chain smokers. I swore that I would never go back to Las Vegas – and I didn’t until much later when they had changed and there were lots of places were smoking was banned.

I’ve refused to take rental cars that stank of cigarette smoke, and I’ve demanded a different hotel room on occasion for the same reason. Back in my dating days, I ended a blind, first date almost immediately when the woman who had claimed to be a non-smoker asked if I would mind if she lit up in my car.

I mind.

Now we’re in the heart of the tobacco industry for a few days. We’re also seeing a lot of the downtown revitalization that’s going on and we’re quite impressed. Many of the old tobacco warehouses and headquarters for various cigarette companies have been completely gutted, cleaned up, and rebuilt as condos, offices, restaurants, and other repurposed spaces. It’s quite a job!

But, as The Long-Suffering Wife pointed out today, there’s a heavy dollop of irony in the way it’s being done.


One of those really nice, renovated spaces where we went for dinner today.


This is what it used to be, and a lot of the signage and identifying features were kept as part of the historical ambiance.


But what is it that The Long-Suffering Wife has discovered at the entrance?


Irony, thy name is The Surgeon General’s Warning!

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Filed under Health, Photography, Ronnie, Travel

Juicy Chunks O’ Wisdom For Sunday, September 28th

‘Cause the baseball postseason is here and my beloved Angels have the best record in baseball, that’s why.

  • In addition to the moon in the evening sky, there are a couple of bright planets. Look for them all! Last night (Saturday, 09/27) the Moon was very close to a very bright Saturn. Tonight, the Moon was getting close to a somewhat bright but very reddish Mars. The Moon will keep heading up higher into the sky each night and getting brighter, but if you’ve got binoculars, it’s a great time to be looking. Before it starts getting cold. Like GRRM said…
  • The Long-Suffering Wife cut her finger yesterday in the kitchen. I put a bandage on it, and the one immediately at hand in the kitchen cupboard was an old SpongeBob SquarePants bandage. Not a big issue, until much later, when the lights got turned off in the bedroom and she realized that it glowed in the dark. Her reaction was quite interesting, to say the least.
  • Is it unreasonable to think that our air traffic system should be robust enough so that a single disgruntled employee can cause massive disruptions of thousands of flights, leaving hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded, a mess than continues to be a mess three days later and will continue to be a mess for days more? Did no one anywhere in the FAA or Transportation Department think that there should be some sort of backup plan if a single TRACON had to go offline?
  • Jessie went out on Wednesday morning and was stunned to find her prized squirrel carcass gone from the patio sidewalk. For two days, every time she went out in back she went straight to that spot and started sniffing around and looking for it. Then she would look at me with sad, accusing, old dog eyes. I swear, I didn’t touch it, I left it there. I’m figuring there’s a coyote or raccoon or owl or hawk or crow that found an easy, more or less freshly dead meal and took off with it.
  • Pumpkin spice Oreos? Really? I will make a bold statement here — I have never had “pumpkin spice” anything. Not lattes, not beer, not cookies, not cheesecake, not ice cream, not pickles — nothing! As such, I feel fully qualified to feel like I’m the last guy who can tell humanity about the pods in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” or Charlton Heston at the end of “Soylent Green.” “It’s pumpkin spice, humans! Stop eating it! It’s sent by aliens to take over your brains! Don’t eat the pumpkin spice!”
  • At least the glow in the dark SpongeBob SquarePants bandage is on her “driving” finger. At least, that’s what we call it here in Los Angeles.
  • It’s hockey preseason and I’m learning that I need to get my gimpy shoulder into mid-season form quickly. My usual reaction to a Kings goal is to instinctively and immediately throw my arms in the air. If my arm hurts when I do that, we’ve got a problem. (The Vuvuzela of Victory only sings its sweet, sweet song during the playoffs. We have to save the juju for when it’s really needed.)
  • How much does a wagon cost these days? You know — small, red, kid sized, used for hauling toys, dirt, and little sisters. I’m asking for a canine friend.
  • The reports I’ve seen said that the contract employee who sabotaged the FAA air traffic control center in Chicago was upset because they had just been informed they were being transferred to Hawaii. Further developments and information are most certainly coming, but for the moment, let’s examine that allegation. Now, mind you, I absolutely love the city of Chicago. I spent a couple of years there as a kid (junior high school years) in the suburbs, still love going back to visit. I’ve never had a bad time there. But is it so good that when “threatened” with a transfer to freakin’ HAWAII I would go berserk? Are we talking about a different Hawaii than the one I see on TV with the beaches, the jungles, the weather, the surfing, blah, blah, blah?
  • Or the squirrel RE-ANIMATED and its rotting, evil, zombie squirrel body is stalking the trees, waiting for its chance to catch Jessie unawares so that it can WREAK ITS VENGEANCE!!
  • That comma is really important in the “It’s pumpkin spice, humans!” line.
  • Los Angeles about ten days ago, lunch time, near Beverly Hills. South of Sunset, by the Pacific Design Center, between San Vicente and La Cienega. One of the million little, itty-bitty strip malls that cover LA like scabs. As usual for the breed, this one might have had 12 to 15 parking spaces, all full. I’m sitting there eating outside when a brand new, white, shiny, Maserati Quattorporte pulls into the lot. He’s in luck! There’s a full size SUV, an Urban Assault Vehicle, just pulling out of a space. The SUV departs and the person driving (the windows were blacked out, couldn’t see them) whips it around and tries to pull into the just-vacated parking spot. “Tries” is the key word here. They back up and try again, unsuccessfully. And again. And again. All of this despite the fact that a vehicle twice as big just pulled out of that spot. Just about the time I’m ready to start laughing and go offer to park it for them, they give up. They ROAR out of the parking lot, tires screaming — because they have a Maserati Quattroporte and they have to show the world how insanely cool they are. As they leave, another SUV, just as large as the previous one, pulls in and swings into that parking spot in one try. The conclusion is obvious — despite that $140K price tag, the Maserati Quattroporte has the turning radius of a battleship and is a pig to handle in tight spaces! Well, that or someone was seriously overcompensating for something, and it wasn’t the fact that they can’t drive for beans.

Remember, “Some days you win, some days you lose. Some days it rains.” That’s deep. Really. Not even being snarky. From Bull Durham, one of the finest baseball movies ever made. (It happens to be about baseball. A bit. And other things.) ((I’ll shut up now.))


Filed under Astronomy, Dogs, Freakin' Idiots!, Health, Juicy Chunks, LA Angels, Los Angeles, Ronnie, Sports

A More Personal Anniversary

Following all of the 45ths and 20ths and 3rds that get me all fired up about our space program, today’s the 13th anniversary of a more personal event. Thirteen years ago today, the Long-Suffering Fiance decided to take the leap and became the Long-Suffering Wife.

Last year I mentioned some of the festivities of the day and posted a few pictures. What’s struck me this year is some of the tiny, almost trivial things that stick with you from a day like that and become family lore, familiar touchstones for a couple to refer to. Things like going out with my son, shopping for black socks. The way the heels of her shoes were sinking into the grass as she walked down the aisle.

One of our ongoing jokes (at least, I think it’s a joke, we seem to all be laughing, right, dear?) is how our wedding anniversary is the day after the moon landing anniversary and it’s a good thing, otherwise I would never remember our wedding anniversary. I don’t know if it’s quite that bad, but there may be some basis in truth to the theory.

Things have changed quite a bit in thirteen years, as it will for anything, any group, any family, or any couple. But we’re still hanging in there, still a “cute couple,” still in love.

We’ll stick together, kid, we’re going places together!

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And we’ll have the collection of silly, grinning selfies to prove it!



Filed under Family, Paul, Ronnie