Monday, December 23, 2019 and an Exit Ramp

I've come to appreciate more than ever the beautiful red barns and stately trees I pass on my gravel rides—and I'm not alone, at least when it comes to admiring trees. A friend recently began a challenge in a Facebook cycling group—the challenge being to post photos of lone trees (preferably with a bike in the photo—thank you, Bruce!) to see if others can identify the location of the tree. How one marks the location of the tree is quite unique. It's done using the what3words app.

Check it out.

I'll have to wait until springtime when I'm back on the gravel roads near Northfield before I can play along.

But until then, my current location is:

What 3 words mark your location?

And speaking of mapping: Google Street View made its rounds of our neighborhood again this past year—May 23rd to be exact while our roof was being reshingled.

I can't publish this blog post without making mention of Trump* being impeached along party lines last week. I don't feel Nancy Pelosi had much choice in the matter. When you have a president acting as criminally as he was, there's no way to excuse that without turning one's back on our Constitution although Republicans intend to.

Never have we witnessed an innocent man work so hard to obstruct investigations into his conduct that would prove his innocence. It defies any sort of logic other than to obstruct the public from learning the truth.

I was lying awake in bed last night, restless because of too much prednisone in my body, when I had a thought: the GOP can't afford to have Trump* removed and replaced by Pence. If he's removed, can you imagine what will happen to the Republican Party once Trump* trains his sights on it as the target of his madness for allowing him to be removed? He surely will. And a good percentage of his base will likely stand with him but who will be left to vote for Pence and the down-ballot candidates? The GOP's Frankenstein is poised to do serious damage to their party if they don't defend him, while their ridiculous defense of him poses a serious threat to what's left of their credibility. I don't see where either hand is a winning one.

Christianity Today (a Christian magazine publication) came out with a scathing rebuke of Trump* a few days ago, calling for his removal from office because "The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral." And no, Christianity Today isn't a far-left publication as Trump* claimed/lied about. It's actually right of center according to Media Bias/Fact Check.

Christianity Today's opinion piece wasn't the only Christian publication calling for him to step down. The Christian Post (much further right on the bias spectrum than CT) ran an editorial yesterday calling for his removal from office because, "While Trump has an excellent record of appointing conservative judges and advancing a prolife agenda, his criminal conduct endangers the Constitution. The Constitution is more important than the prolife cause because without the Constitution, prolife advocacy would be meaningless." That to me sounds like an exit ramp for those caught up in the quandary of wanting to hold fast to their prolife convictions but having grown tired of the nonsense.

And those are hardly liberal mouthpieces calling for his removal. But I'm conflicted. I actually want to see him remain because I worry that with Trump* out of the picture next November, there will be many who won't feel the need to show up on election day to cast a vote against not only Trump* but the entire Republican Party. Every vote matters.

Rachel and Drew came by last Friday to spend the afternoon and evening with us. Tammy oversaw lefse making production and we all contributed to a super meal before finishing out the night exchanging gifts and playing Balderdash. It was an excellent time.

Happy Holidays!

That's all I've got.

Monday, December 16, 2019

A 27 Month Break And Opportunity Knocks

It's been more than 6 weeks since we cut the cable and we couldn't be happier that we did. We're left wondering why we didn't do it sooner. It was sorta like when we divested from Wells Fargo two years ago after getting caught up in having them make changes to our accounts which resulted in service fees that were no small hassle to reverse. We had better things to do but we were glad to have taken the time to break free from them. The only glitch in our move away from cable TV was our TV in the kitchen—it has a built-in Roku but it was continually freezing as it buffered the signal. I added an external Roku stick to it and that solved the problem.

One of our local news stations did a report on a pack of coyotes that attacked and killed a family's two dogs that they had let outside for a few minutes. This all happened about a mile from our home. I've seen coyotes outside the window on the side of our house but it's been a few years. Last week I saw a fox walking along the street in front of our home in the early afternoon. I'm careful about keeping an eye on Charlie whenever I let him out but lately, I've taken to standing out there with him while he does his business. I found a cat's collar last year after tearing out the shrubs in front of our house. I can only imagine how it got there.

I've written about cluster headaches in my blog and my struggles with them over the years. It's been 27 months since I've had to deal with them and that's by far the longest period of time I've had relief from them since I first experienced one at 17. But it appears 27 months is my limit. My headaches returned a few nights ago, forcing me to adopt a regimen of a daily dose of Prednisone and Imitrex for the headaches that get past the Prednisone. One other thing in my arsenal to fight them is inhaling 100% oxygen at a rate of 12 liters per minute. It's usually a very effective treatment provided I've got an O2 tank nearby to use. I'm awaiting a delivery of oxygen tanks that I'll keep by my bedside.

They're called cluster headaches because they come in clusters, usually lasting 4-5 weeks (for me, anyway). I can typically expect a period free from them of 12-18 months. The headaches present themselves as an intense pain behind one eye that is very similar to the pain you get when you drink a frozen slushy too quickly—but the pain can last for hours. This is a video of a guy in the throes of an attack. I've been there countless times. When I was younger, they only lasted 15 minutes and I had no idea what was happening. I assumed they were possibly related to some illicit drugs I'd messed with. They would leave after a few weeks and I'd forget about them. It wouldn't be until the mid '90s before I'd receive a proper diagnosis.

I'm curious how I managed to get a reprieve of 27 months. I want to credit occasional cannabis use and it may well be that but I can't be sure. There are studies of the effect of cannabis on cluster headaches but they're not conclusive. It's possible that the drug can help stave off a cycle and that may well be what I've experienced but I wouldn't expect it to be of much use once a headache phase has begun.

I spent much of Friday and Saturday breathing life into my most recent stained glass creation. It's one of the more difficult pieces I do simply because the pieces are so small. Fortunately for me, I don't have fat fingers. A guy from NYC purchased this same suncatcher last week and I wanted to make another for my inventory. Here's a link to it with more photos on my Etsy site.

The FAA will soon be hiring for the position of Air Traffic Controller. I can't say enough good things about the career I had as a controller and the job satisfaction I derived from it. If you know anyone who may be interested (who's 30 years old or less), they may want to throw their name in the hat and take a chance on being hired. You can maybe start by sending them a link to the video below where they can gain an idea for what the job is about and get a feel for whether or not it's something they might be interested in pursuing.

That's all I've got.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

40 Years and Whatcha Doing This Afternoon?

I was discharged from the Navy 40 years ago today. How did that much time get away so quickly? I need to make an extended trip to San Diego (where I was stationed for most of my enlistment) and retrace some of my steps from all those years ago—preferably on two wheels. I have so many fond memories of my time spent on my bike in the greater San Diego area. I'm curious what sort of memories and emotions I would experience riding on those same roads again—roads that for the most part have changed little since I last rode them. I need to get more serious about making it happen before another 40 years get away from me. I've already got at least one route mapped out to ride.

Tammy and I spent Thursday celebrating her birthday. We drove up to Excelsior to check out the many shops that line the streets while on the lookout for a few gifts for people on our Christmas list. We found the best cafe tucked away inside a small complex of shops. It alone was worth the 35 minute drive up there.

After our time in Excelsior, we drove over to Stillwater for more of the same. We've done this same loop to Excelsior and Stillwater before on Tammy's birthday. It works well for us. We finished out the night at a wine tasting event. It was a full and enjoyable day.

Tammy and I were driving to Costco last Friday morning to pick up my car after having new tires mounted on it when I got a call from my brother Keith. After some small talk, he asked me what we were doing that afternoon. He'd called to invite us to take part in a small gathering of people at a bar in Northfield where he and Tracee were being married in a few hours. Their wedding was to be a private ceremony at Imminent Brewing but Keith was hoping we could join in the celebration after the wedding.

I hated to tell him that we already had plans. Had our plans been for only Tammy and me we would've canceled them but we were meeting our friends Joanie and Rob at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre to see Mama Mia. We couldn't back out.

We're so happy for Keith and Tracee. They make such a good couple. We need to make plans to meet up with them and have our own mini celebration together.

And speaking of Mama Mia—what a fun and funny show! We laughed a lot and all of us thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It's playing through the 3rd week in February. It was probably our 4th or 5th show we've seen at CDT and we've never come close to being the least bit disappointed by any of their productions. I'm in awe of the talent on the stage and all it must take to put on a production such as that. The dinners they serve are just so-so but the show more than makes up for it. 👍👍

I'm continuing to add to my Etsy shop as Christmas shopping heats up. I had 4 sales last week. I've tried in the past to come up with a simple design that I can produce relatively quickly (in comparison to some of my other pieces) to offer at a more reasonable price but each time I sit down to come up with such a design I get carried away and it becomes more complex than I'd intended. I finally succeeded. This is a design that I can knock out in a reasonable amount of time and sell for a more affordable price. I made 5 of them in the last few days.

Tammy and I were going to skip setting up our Christmas tree this year but Sunday morning she had a change of heart and asked if I wouldn't mind getting it down out of the loft in our garage and setting it up. I was happy to. We've both moved away from showy Chrismas decorations inside and outside of our home but not so much that we don't still enjoy the look of our tree glowing in the corner of our sunporch.

That's all I've got.