Monday, February 29, 2016

Evil House Sparrows

After reading Judy's comment yesterday about house sparrows being an invasive species, I was curious about how they got here.  Like the importation of kudzu, people did it on purpose, starting in the 1850s.  The first group that was imported died without breeding.  It could have been stopped then, but noooooooo, they imported more of them.  They're vicious birds.  They'll kill other birds if they're in a nest that the sparrow wants.  They also breed earlier in the season, so they occupy the good spots.  By 1883, people began to realize that the house sparrow was a bad thing, and there were calls to eliminate them.  Good luck with that.   There are now approximately 150 million of them in the 48 states.  There is a good article HERE with a lot of information on them.  Apparently starlings were also imported from the old country with similar results. 

So I will leave with pictures of the doves.  They're pretty, but they're annoying.  They really want to nest under the slide toppers.  We really don't want them to do that.

That's it! That's all I've got to report.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Birds in the Palm Tree

What are these birds?  Would some one please identify them for me.  I left the photos bigger than usual, so if you click twice they should get larger.  Note the female in the top picture, she came out of the nest after he did, so I guess their season of love has begun.

He sort of looks like a Black Throated Sparrow, but he doesn't have the white stripes on his head.

Since my ungrateful hummingbirds have deserted me, I guess I'll be spying on this pair.  We were all hoping the owls would come back and make babies, but they've been gone for a couple of years.

Jim is doing better today, and seems to have recovered from the over doing it in the gym on Friday.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Construction, a Bird and the Tendon

Greetings Gentle Readers.  Is this not the cutest thing you have seen in quite some time?  It's a coyote puppy that was rescued from a storm drain in Lacey, Washington. He seems very content with his current situation, nestled in a rescuer's arm.

We've been walking the perimeter of the park daily.  The number of people playing pickle ball is just amazing.  Two years ago, I don't think the courts were even there.

George, the park owner is engaged in a construction project.  They're doing massive digging and demolition.

Notice the piles of blocks and dirt.  That's a back hoe on the left, which gives you some idea of how much excavation they've done. 

This is the concrete base of the hot tub that used to be there.  Notice that there are two jack hammers stuck on the upper right hand side.  It's going to be a bear to get that out of there, it is built hell for stout.

Here is a tiny bird.  There's a hole in the palm tree, he likes to go in and then come out.  My hummingbirds have deserted me in the morning.  They don't come to the feeder until late afternoon, early dusk.  So there are no opportunities for any more pictures of them.

We did the leg work out at the gym yesterday.  Our first machine was a little nerve wracking, one lifts their body mass up with the legs with weight on the shoulders, it would be possible to over bend the knees on the way back down.  Anyway, Jim did that as well as the hamstring curl machine.  Bad, just bad.  Today the repaired tendon is swollen and sore.  I think the leg workout is off the table for awhile.  On the good side of the recovery, the "invalid bag", as the giant purse is called, has been retired; a new vegan bag has been brought out of the closet, and pressed into service.  Pretty exciting stuff here in the Recovery RV.
That's it - that's what's happening in the Old Pueblo.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Brain News You Can Use

Here is a subset of an article from the New York Times.  They do have a pay wall.  If you have not used up your 10 free articles per month, you can click on the LINK and go read the entire article.
The article examined what kind of exercise is best for your brain, by measuring increases in neurogenesis, which is the creation of new brain cells in an already mature brain.
  • Those rats that had jogged on wheels showed robust levels of neurogenesis. Their hippocampal tissue teemed with new neurons, far more than in the brains of the sedentary animals. The greater the distance that a runner had covered during the experiment, the more new cells its brain now contained.
  • There were far fewer new neurons in the brains of the animals that had completed high-intensity interval training. They showed somewhat higher amounts than in the sedentary animals but far less than in the distance runners.
  • And the weight-training rats, although they were much stronger at the end of the experiment than they had been at the start, showed no discernible augmentation of neurogenesis. Their hippocampal tissue looked just like that of the animals that had not exercised at all. 
While acknowledging that rats are not people, the researchers concluded that “sustained aerobic exercise might be most beneficial for brain health also in humans.”  So there you go, get out there and be aerobic for as long as you can.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Boredom in the Desert

Not too much is shaking in the south west at the moment. Rincon Country West held their annual parade yesterday in the park.  The theme this year was "The Americas."  People decorate their golf carts, their bikes and themselves and then parade up the main road of the RV park.  I don't know how I feel about this.  I personally would feel like an idiot, decorating my bike and then promenading up the street.  Some people really enjoy it, so we must simply say to each their own.

We're entering the season of love.  The doves are busy cooing at one another and soon there will be canoodling.  Jim had to turn the ladders upside down on the rack to prevent them from building nests on the ladder rungs.  For some reason the ladders look really good to the doves.

Jim is up to about a mile and a half of walking.  That's in addition to daily physical therapy, riding the spin bike and lifting weights at the gym.  Those pink blobs on the concrete pad are for gait training.  He's still limping a little and having to hit each mark when walking helps even out his gait.

There was another decent sunset, as well.

Other than this paltry offering, I have nothing much to report.  We need to go somewhere and see something different.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sunset and Medicare Rules

Greetings Earthlings!  How are things in your corner of the world?  It's warm in Ye Olde Pueblo.  One wonders if we've departed winter for good.
We got behind this car the other day.  It's not a big car, but they have a big dog with a big tongue.  Most of the side of the car is covered in dog slobber.

We have a new string of lights, which are extremely cheerful.  They look like little hot air balloons, and coordinate nicely with the white and yellow lights.  Many residents decorate their palm trees for the entire RV season.  It's very festive.

Yesterday was overcast, which gave us a spectacular sunset.  It was the first good one in a long time. 

Today we learned something about Medicare - this is news all of the aged can use.  As you know, Jim has been in physical therapy subsequent to surgery to repair his ruptured Achilles tendon.  Since the beginning of November, Jim has also had a fair amount of pain in his left shoulder.  It reached the point where he can't lift his arm over his shoulder.  An MRI revealed it was not the rotator cuff (good), but there are some osteophytes impinging on the supraspinatus (bad).  The shoulder, like knees, is an amazing collection of stuff wired together with tendons.

Anyway, there is a Medicare rule that you can only have PT for one thing at a time.  So Jim has had to end PT for the Achilles (and we weren't really done), so that he can have it shoulder worked on.  Fortunately he'll be seeing the same person, so if the Achilles starts going belly up, we'll have to switch back to that. So, your take home message here is to carefully manage your health issues in order to meet Medicare payment schedules.  It's really kind of a pisser.
Other than this paltry offering, I have nothing else to report.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Status Updates

Not much is happening in Ye Olde Pueblo.  I do have some status that I want to remember (which is why I blog).

The Gym.  It's working out pretty well.  We're going 5 times a week.  We gave up on the recumbent bikes and are now using the spin bikes.  MUCH better workout.  The downside is that the spin room is not ventilated when classes are not in session.  Maybe in a couple of months I could make it through a class, not yet, though.  Yesterday we did an abdominals workout with the trainer, today I can not take a deep breath.  So that's good.

Farmer's Market.  We think the farmer's market eggs are better than the factory eggs.  The tomato was not any tastier than the hot house tomatoes at Safeway.  The chicken was a definite fail.  We don't roast meat in the convection oven, it tends to dry out.  So whole chickens are spatchcocked and cooked on the grill.  I guess free range chickens have more bone density, because getting the backbone out of the bird was very difficult, as was flattening it.  The final product was very chewy.  It was not a happy experience for dinner, so I doubt that we'll buy anymore of those chickens.

The ice maker.  I realize nobody cares about this, but I'm keeping track of what it's doing.  It's doing this overnight.

Bertha, aka the tunnel boring machine in Seattle.  Still not moving.  My last update on her lack of progress can be found here.

Jim.  Progress is slow, we've passed three months.  Hopefully the six month estimate on time to heal is accurate, which puts us at the half way point.  The scar scraping has turned out to be incredibly beneficial.  If you find yourself with a new large scar, be sure to ask about it.  Scar size is decreased, and local skin and muscle movement has been improved.

Verizon.  A new subject, but news you can use. They've changed two things that I am now aware of.   1):  If you decrease the amount of data you want to use, the change will not become effective until the first day of the next billing cycle.  They used to make the change immediately and prorate the charges, but they don't do that anymore.  One wonders if you have to wait for the next billing cycle to spend more money with them. 2):   It used to be that one could suspend the Jetpack (or whatever mifi) for two 90 day periods.  No more!  You get one 90 day period.  After that, you may suspend with billing, but why would we suspend something and then pay for it anyway? What you can do, if you're not going to use it for a long time is cancel the line.  There is a $20 reconnect fee, so do the math and see if a disconnect works for you. None of these changes are communicated to the customer until after the fact. (Update to post on 5/10/16:  I called to get a new line today.  The reconnect fee is actually $40.  I pitched a fit and they waived the fee.  Complaining works.)

And now for some new news about local decisions.  Campbell Avenue is a very busy road.  It's lined by many restaurants and small business.  There are two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane.  In its infinite wisdom, Tucson has decided to spend $670,000 dollars on a beautification project that puts landscaped medians in the turn lane.  One wonders why.  So now, when a car wants to turn left, they get in front of the median.  Other cars wanting to make the same turn end up stopping in the left most lane of travel.  The people trapped behind them then make ill-advised lunges into the right most lane of travel, causing accidents.   The Blue Willow, a very popular restaurant, has lost tens of thousands of dollars in business and has had to lay people off because their patrons could not get into the parking lot for weeks during this project.  So much for a pro-business environment.  I don't find this median nearly as attractive as a clear turn lane. 

 That's it, that's what's happening here in the desert south west.  It's going to be 84 today, no Polar Vortex for us.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Flea and Farmers' Markets

Greetings Earthlings!  How is your Super Bowl Sunday?  Jim has the game on, every time I glance up at the screen, there are commercials.  So far, none of them have been very interesting.  They're numerous, but boring.
Here is Jim's leg.  He's covered in kinesio tape.  Two of the female physical therapists Jim saw last week were all over the lump of scar tissue he has at the base of the incision.  One woman massaged it intensely.  The other woman brought out the dreaded scar scraper.  It's a tool PTs and massage therapists use to reduce scar size.  It's working, the bump is noticeably smaller, and doesn't bother him very much when walking.  I'm not sure what the tape is doing, but it looks cool.

Yesterday we went to the Tanque Verde swap meet.  It was a complete waste of time.  We were expecting to see a better caliber of junk than we did.  This is not a recommended outing.

Although, if you're a hoarder, it's a good place to get rid of your junk.

This morning we got up to go to the Rillito farmer's market.  If you go, you need to be there by 9:30 at the latest.  All of the eggs and unfrozen chickens were gone by the time we got there.  This guy is roasting peppers.  He's got three propane flames pointed at the food, and then he rotates the drum and keeps them moving.  They smell wonderful.

Look at this Volkswagon.  We think it's from the 60's.  It's got the drop down sides on the bed.  It's really cool.

Horse racing has started at Rillito Downs.  These horses were walking in circles.  The black horse on on the left was pretty frisky, shaking his (her?) head and occasionally kicking a little.

So here's our organic tomato.  They're grown in a hot house in Tucson.

Here is our very expensive organic (frozen) chicken.  They're from the Willcox area.  They spend their days outside eating bugs and non-GMO chicken feed.  They're labelled Josh's Foraging Fowls.  It'll be interesting to see if they're better.  I was disappointed not to be able to buy eggs.  I do like buying eggs laid by chickens that haven't been tortured.

There's a guy there with salmon from Alaska.  They're gill netted and flash frozen.  Jim got two pieces of smoked salmon.  I would like to know the economics of bringing fish from Alaska this far south.

See the icicle?  The leak in our ice maker is getting worse.  It's also making the frost build up faster because of all the water it's putting in the freezer.  I think we're going to the dark side and getting a residential refrigerator installed.  Since it's becoming clear that we will never be able to replace our current RV,  I'm willing to put the money into it.  We toured Allegro buses the other day, you can have two bathrooms, but you can't have much clothing and you can't eat; there's no where to put any food.  I'd really like to be on a focus group for RV design, I have some things to say.

So that's it - this is all I have to report.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Baby, It's Cold Outside

It's cold!  I got up early (for me) to put the feeder out for the hummingbirds, and the thermometer was showing 33.  There should be a snowbird rebate for this weather.  It's also been windy, as demonstrated by the wind sock across the way.

Jim had physical therapy yesterday afternoon, so I walked in the park.  It was still cold in the afternoon.  I saw this bird sitting on the finial of a lamp.  It's not a great picture, due to zooming and cropping.  He was positively glowing when the sun hit his feathers.  Who can identify him?

Even in these cold climates, we have flamingos.  It always amazes me what people are willing to carry around in a space constrained vehicle.

Jim is making progress,  but walking normally is being hampered by a scar tissue build up at the base of the incision.  Surgeons irritate the living snot out of me because they don't seem to consider scar placement when they are cutting.  The base of the incision is well below the tendon rupture, so I wonder why he cut down so far.  Anyway, there is a lump and the shoe rubs against it, and it's impeding walking.  Probability is high that it will resolve eventually, but it hasn't yet. 

Currently we are watching a phenomenon that occurs frequently in RV parks.  There is a couple in a teeny tiny travel trailer, and they are hooked up to their tow vehicle and ready to leave.  However, they've been way laid by a chatty RVer from Texas.  We see this all the time, the chatty ones descend on people when they are un-hitching or hitching to leave.  When we had the 5th wheel we had a policy of no talking when putting the trailer on the truck, and we enforced it.  The consequences of error were too grave to risk it.  Anyway, the trailer people were up and out attempting an early departure, but now they are delayed by being polite to strangers.