Sunday, April 30, 2023

Spring and Comedy

Spring is springing in the back yard.  Yesterday morning I was out looking at the flower buds on the giant pear tree which were closed.  Last night at dusk, they were all open, thousands of them.  That's the fastest I've seen anything burst out, ever.  

Here is the tree.

Here is a close up of one of the flowers.  They're pretty.

Here is the dogwood.  Reports of his demise may have been premature.  See the little green shoots coming out? 

We did not know this, because we were in Tucson, but last winter was terrible.  There were a couple of cold snaps that killed established shrubs.  The neighbor lost five rhodies.  In light of that, I'm pretty happy that the dogwood may not be dead.

Last night was the White House Correspondents Dinner.  President Biden demonstrated that he can be funny.  He took out after Fox News, Tucker Carlson and Marjorie Taylor Greene.  Another speaker, Ray Woods Jr. is a comedian.  He spoke about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who has recently been revealed as accepting lavish vacations and other unreported gifts from billionaires.  He's not the only grifter on the bench, but he's one of the worst.  Anyway, CLICK HERE for Mr. Woods' riff on Mr. Thomas.  Ray Woods is funny.

That's it, all I've got is spring.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Plumbing, Trees, and Plants

Life lurches on in Spokane.  We both spent a couple of days last week feeling under the weather.  Whatever it was, our immune systems were able to triumph over adversity.  

For some time (we can't remember when it started) the water at the kitchen sink faucet has been scalding hot, even when the faucet lever is pushed all the way to the right for cold water.  We trained ourselves never to put hands in the water immediately after turning it on.  There was also a leak in the master bathroom when the toilet was flushed, the wax ring had failed.  So, a plumber was called.  He's really nice, doesn't charge an arm and a leg.  His first task was to replace the wax ring.  Apparently the industry has moved on from wax to foam rings.  I have pictures, but I will spare you that.  This thing, which was installed under the sink was the cause of the scalding water.  The plumber was nice enough to call one of his plumber friends and describe the object and the problem.  Friend plumber said to get rid of it.  So now we are not scalding our hands, we're having to relearn how to approach the sink.

A few weeks back there was an issue of adolescents erecting a teepee in the woods, and bringing up what looked liked fire wood.  This was adjacent to the water tower, which got the city's hair on fire.  They don't like people near the water tower.  On a recent walk up the hill, Jim showed me where the kids had been.  This was a previously secluded area, but the thinning operations took care of that.  You can see the ring of stumps that are all that's left of the trees.

The water tower.

The people across the street had two large trees taken out of their front yard.  They were supposed to have been dwarf trees, but they became enormous.  The tree people came back to grind the stumps and take out the large roots.  I can see why tree work is so expensive, there is a significant amount of equipment involved.  It's tracked and is driven by the operator.

Here he is, walking it up the street.

Today was the opening day of bicycling season in Spokane.  It was a glorious day.  Here is the photo of the lake I always take from the parking lot.

We rode down to the recreation area.  As we expected, the work is no where near completion.  I doubt if it will be open for months.  They took out the ramadas that provided shade, the RV sites, a lot of grass, and all the picnic tables are behind orange construction fencing.  I would really like to know whose bright idea it was to tear up a perfectly good park and remove stuff in the process.  Update to post:  This is where the RV sites were.  People just loved it, small park, view of the lake, let the kids run amok.  Now it's gone.

After riding we came home an planted flowers and a tomato plant. 

Finally, there is this from twitter.

Other than this, I have zippity doo-dah to report.  I'm taking a break from discussing the wretched republicans.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Ennui and AI

Greetings Earthlings!  Long time, no write.  The days have held much ennui.  It's still cold, it has rained enough to keep things wet.  I went looking for photos to post, and they are few and far between.  Things are that boring.  

Yesterday the sprinkler guy was out for the annual turning on of the irrigation system.  The visit did not go as expected.  Zone eight is not working - that's the zone with the Arbivitae that look really awful after a winter of the deer eating them, and the giant trees that impinge along the path, along with the rhodies and the boxwoods.  Craig, the sprinkler guy, went looking for the valve boxes to see if the problem is with the valves or the solenoids.  There is actually a wire that goes from the sprinkler controller, through the ground, and is wired on to the valve.  Unfortunately, the valve boxes are not visible.  There are eight valves, for the eight zones.  Craig found one valve box with two valves on one side of the house. The other six are missing.  They're somewhere, most likely under the ground, buried - or perhaps they're under the deck.  Craig has tasked us, the home owners, with the job of following the wires from the controller to see if we can find the missing six valves.  I can not tell you how little interest I have in doing this.  It will involve butt scooting along the ground digging a trench along the path of the sprinkler wires.  Remember, vast swaths of the yard are covered with volcanic rock.  Unpleasant does not begin to describe how awful this is going to be. 

Between this and the ongoing malfeasance and perfidy of the republican party I am cranky, nay in a horrible mood.

Here are my paltry photos from the past week or so. 

As I previously have mentioned, the trees did not shed their leaves last fall.  That made for heavy snow loads when the snows started and they still had leaves.  When we returned from Tucson, most of the trees had lost most of their leaves except for the Dogwood.  Is this not pitiful?  We're really hoping the tree is not dead.  Taking that out would put a big hole in the tree barrier between us and the neighbors we're not friends with.

Almost a sunset from the recent past.

A sunny (cold) day.

The rabbit, chowing down.

A blog I used to read a lot, Technomadia, put up a post today that was a conversation between the blogger and the Bing AI.  It's a long read, but it's sort of spooky how human the AI sounds.  What's also interesting is the ability of AI to generate photos that are not real.

The photo was generated based on this prompt, "Cinematic, off-center, two-shot, 35mm film still of a 30-year-old french man, curly brown hair and a stained beige polo sweater, reading a book to his adorable 5-year-old daughter, wearing fuzzy pink pajamas, sitting in a cozy corner nook, sunny natural lighting, sun shining through the glass of the window, warm morning glow, sharp focus, heavenly illumination, unconditional love --ar 16:9."  The twitter thread is here.  From what I read, it seems that AI is making people look older than they should, and it's still not good with hands.  However, at first glance, it's fairly credible.  So, from here on out, question whether anything you see is real.  

There was also a walk up the hill later in this day.  It's still pretty dang chilly.

Other than this, I have zippity doo-dah all to say.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Miscellany and Conservative Atrocities

Things have been slow since we've been back.  It's April, so it's still fairly chilly.  We've done one walk up the hill.  Today I spent time getting the taxes bundled up, and finding a 9 x 12 envelope to mail them in.  We have five 1099Rs to staple to the front page, since our previous employer once again outsourced our pension fund manager to yet another vendor, so each management company sent out forms.  That makes it too bulky to fold in a regular envelope, and no I do not e-file being the luddite that  I am.  Yesterday was the high point of the week, we took the white car to the car wash.  The pre-wash guys spent a long time hosing us down before putting us on the rollers through the car wash.  I love this place, it's no touch, there is under carriage flush (good for getting rid of the salt from the roads) and a wax layer that actually is effective.  Car washes amuse me no end. 

There was a walk up the hill.  While we were in Tucson, the city of Spokane did fire mitigation work.  That involved cutting down some trees, limbing other trees and taking out a bunch of underbrush.  The trails used to feel like tunnels, now they're wide open.  I doubt if the forest creatures are happy about this, fewer places to hide.  The orange color is what was produced by the chipper/shredder they hauled up to dispose of the branches and trees.  It's deep in places.

This is our local rabbit.  He hangs out in the yard and eats grass.  I think he ate all of the tulips that grow up under the big trees.  I'm fine with that, they don't bloom and once they grow up, they deteriorate and I have to go cut them off at the ground.

The robins are back.  It had been raining, and they were standing out in the street, waiting for the worms to surface to avoid drowning.  They come in the spring, eat our worms and then go somewhere else.  It's a terrible picture, too far away.

If you keep something long enough, apparently it will become a collector's item.  Jim brought a coffee scoop into the marriage, it's one of the scoops that came in a can of Chock Full O'Nuts coffee.  We've been married since 1985, so it's pretty old.  I thought it would be nice to have a scoop to leave in Tucson, so I wouldn't have to risk losing/breaking/forgetting my scoop upon leaving.  Yep, they're on ebay.  This is $25 !!!!!  For a two tablespoon scoop.  I think not.

Much of my time since we returned has been spent in a deep, shimmering, lightning bolts off the head sea of rage.  What the hell has happened to the republicans that they are this shameful?  Tennessee is now in the process of legislating that it's ok for 12 year old girls to marry grown ass men.  How is this not statutory rape?  Think about it, a child is married off (with parental consent), gets pregnant, and the entire trajectory of her life is changed.  The legislator who is behind it offers up the fact that he knows couples who married when they bride was 12, and they're still together.  Ok, that makes it all right, then.

Also from Tennessee is this: "The Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill on Monday that allows county clerks to refuse to certify marriage licenses that go against their personal beliefs. The vague language of the bill gives room for local officials to deny marriage equality to LGBTQ+ couples, interracial couples and interfaith couples.  Introduced by Rep. Monty Fritts (R-Kingston), Tennessee House Bill 0878 adds a single line into the state code that says “A person shall not be required to solemnize a marriage if the person has an objection to solemnizing the marriage based on the person’s conscience or religious beliefs.”"  Interracial and interfaith couples would be subject to the whims of local racists to obtain marriage licenses.  The source of the quoted material is here.

Then there is the judge in Texas who cherry picked flawed studies to justify his decision that mifepristone should be unavailable for every woman in the US; even in the states where abortion is legal.  Basically, he's against abortion, and that was the basis for the ruling.  The decision immediately went to the 5th circuit which is very conservative.  They overruled the total ban on the drug, but did stay more recent FDA decisions.  This is bad.  This sets precedent for judges with no medical or scientific background to overrule FDA decisions.  This can not stand.  It's probably on its way to the Supreme Court, but who knows how they will rule.  If this does stand, you can bet they'll be after birth control next.  Vox did a really good piece on what this means and how bad it is, which you can read here.

This is what my succulent looks like now.  You can go here to see what it looked like last October.  I expect it to fall over any day.

Finally, this is not a graphic depicting red vs. blue voting patterns.  It's life expectancy.  Living in the red areas of the US is bad for one's longevity

That's it - that's all I've got.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Republican Atrocities

While we were making the dash back to our blue state, I did not have time or bandwidth to discuss the latest republican atrocities.  Here are a few that I have collected off of twitter.

- Kansas GOP overrode the governor’s veto, making inspecting children’s genitalia a way to discriminate against transgender kids legal. If kids want to play sports, they have to submit to this violation of bodily autonomy.
- Tennessee advanced a bill that would allow teachers to carry guns in school after minimal training.
- Tennessee Republicans moved forward with removing the #TennesseeThree after they joined constituents protesting for gun control to keep our kids safe.  They ended up expelling the two black men, but not the white woman.
- Republicans canceled Bud Light over their support of the #LGBTQ community.

The Idaho governor signed the abortion trafficking bill into law. It's the first law to restrict interstate travel for abortion care since Roe fell.  They actually think they can dictate where women may and may not go.

The Mississippi House has approved the creation of a new court system within the capital of Jackson in which judges and prosecutors in the overwhelmingly Black city would be appointed by white state officials.

Missouri defunded all of their public libraries. 

In Indiana the governor signed a bill banning all gender affirming care for kids under 18.

Governor Tate Reeves Declares Confederate Heritage Month In Mississippi.

That's just a little of it.  I like to keep track of these things.  It's amazing to me that people keep voting these ass hats into the state houses.

I will leave you with this attractive snow covered scene taken through a dirty windshield out in the great wide open.

That's it!


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Back in Spokane

We're home as of yesterday afternoon.  Yesterday was not a terrible drive.  The bulk of it was on interstate freeways.  As I have previously stated, our initial plan was to go to Baker City for the night and then drive to Spokane.  Hah!  Double HAH HAH HAH.  Both Baker City and La Grande, Oregon are nothing more than wide spots in the road.  Lodging would have been difficult, and food consisted of McDonalds or Zip's hamburger drive-in.  We dodged a bullet by staying in Caldwell.  The La Quinta wasn't great, but it would have been worse in Oregon.  In the future, if we take that route, we'll need to shoot for Pendleton.

I84 has a fair amount of up and down.  There is a 6 mile 6% down grade heading west toward Pendleton.  It's not bad in a car, it used to scare the snot out of me in the RV. 

Photos from yesterday's drive.

Today we have spent the day unpacking.  It was actually worse than I thought it would be. 

Well, I am not yet done putting stuff away, so I will now get back to it.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Caldwell, Idaho

Holy cats for the second day in a row.  We awakened to six inches of snow, which was not in the forecast.  Our desired route was under a winter storm warning.  The hotel was quickly filling to capacity with people wanting to stay and wait it out.  Nevada has an excellent set of cameras and information on the roads.  After waffling on the internet for awhile, and going out to the car for the warm clothing, wool socks, and boots, we decided to launch.  Wells, Nevada is just not a place you want to stay, plus the Hampton Inn was extraordinarily expensive for what it was.  Nice, but not that nice.

We decided to head west towards Winnemucca, to pick up US 95.  It was the long way around, but we were driving away from the storm system.  After heading north, we cut back east to arrive in Caldwell, Idaho.  When US 95 enters Oregon, there is a horrible stretch of road for about 25 miles.  After awhile, it got better.  Oregon is a poor state, Nevada has gambling money and their roads are better.  US 95 goes through the Mahogany Mountains range, which has some up down to it.  It's not the Rockies, but there is climbing and descending.

Here are pictures.  As seen from the hotel parking lot.

Low mountains with snow.  It's not a great picture, taken out of a side window.

Here we are, heading out into the great wide open, where there are few gas stations and little cell service.

This was taken from a brake check area just before a descent in the Mahogany Mountains.  It's hard to see, but there is a gorge out there in the distance.

More scenery.  The skies were epic today.  The wind was also epic.  We had a head wind most of the day, and the gas mileage to prove it. 

Tonight we're in Caldwell, Idaho (we did not make it to Baker City).  It's a part of the greater Boise megalopolis.  We're here because I84 is here.  We're west of actual Boise and their fairly awful traffic.  We're staying in an old La Quinta Inn, with modern day prices.  The hotel is showing its age, the beds are awful.  We would not stay here again, and hopefully we will not ever have to do this route again, either.  Going up US 93 to I84 to Baker City would have been way better.  The internet here is good, however. (After the fact, we have ruled out Baker City and La Grande as places to stay.)

That's it!  That's all I've got, there is a pizza to be eaten.  Pizza Hut delivered it; we ordered a veggie pizza and it was not terrible.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Wells, NV

Holy cats, it has been a day.  Today's key learning is don't leave AZ this early in April, if you do leave make sure all of your hotel reservations can be cancelled.  We had been checking the weather for Beaver, Utah and Pocatello, Idaho, and they both looked good.  What we failed to notice is that it's snowing like crap in between.  Today, while in Las Vegas, we noticed.  So, sitting in a gas station parking lot, we did a replan of the trip.  One hotel was nice and refunded, the other two did not.  Terms and conditions were made clear, so we can't complain.  

We find ourselves in Wells, NV.  After leaving Las Vegas we took US-93 N, NV-318 N, to US Rt. 6, and US-93 to Wells.  The route goes through the Great Basin.  It's an interesting drive.  US Rt. 6 starts in Bishop, CA and is also known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway.  It ends in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  Anyway, there is nothing out there once you pass the solar farm as you exit onto US-93.  No cell service, no nothing.  We did stop in Alamo, NV at a Sinclair gas station, which doubles as the local grocery store.  It was a good stop, big parking lot.

We're staying at a newish Hampton Inn which is nice.  The sound proofing is very good.  There was over sized vehicle parking for the car and trailer.  The bathroom was good, there were pull out trays so everything did not have to stay on the counter.  We would stay again if we ever find ourselves in Wells again.  A Subway is just down the street.

This is the view after leaving Las Vegas.

The solar farm.  The panels are the black area behind the brown sign for the Great Basin National Park.  The Great Basin is a very large, very cool thing encompassing many square miles.  There is a wiki to tell you more.

Snow on the mountains.

Tomorrow we are up and out for Baker City, Oregon.  Depending on conditions we should have a one day drive to Spokane after that.  Or we could be loitering in Baker City.

That's it!  That's all I've got.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Kingman, AZ

Oh yes, traveling is fun.  Our time at the AirBnB was up, and thus we were schedule driven and so we left.  First there was the loading of the wagons.  We rented a 4 x 8 trailer from U Haul.  Originally we had the idea that we could put it in the garage, but there was not enough space available to get it in trail, and in there.  Had we realized that earlier, we would have gotten a 5 x 8.  Crouching in that thing is painful, not to mention the hitting of the head.

It's a new trailer.  If you look carefully, you will see that the "safety chains" have been replaced by cables that attach to the trailer with snap shackles.  Anybody can walk up to it and unhook the trailer and take it away.  Jim went to Home Depot and got 5 feet of chain that firmly affixes the trailer to the car.  I guess U Haul is ok with people losing their stuff.

The back of the car.  I did not think we would still be looking like the Clampetts on the return trip, but we do.  Part of the issue is the water proof boots needed their own box for the trip, there's a cactus in a box up there, and there was some accumulation of things.  When we drove down it was so cold we wore the same clothes every day, so packing was easy.  We're having more than one climate on the way back.

So, we left for Kingman, AZ.  It was a miserable drive, for some reason people kept wrecking their cars, causing giant backups and waits.  The bloom is on, though.  Last year's monsoon, and this winter's frequent rains have been good for the flowers.  This is Brittle Bush growing along the road.

Fields of Globe Mallows out in the distance.

Joshua Trees.  There is quite the forest of them.  It's hard to tell, but they are also blooming.  They're a member of the Yucca family, widely known for their unattractive foliage, but their fabulous blossoms.

Upon arriving Kingman, we checked the weather on the route and discovered that Pocatello was under a storm warning of 9 to 12 inches of snow.  So, we're in Kingman for two nights waiting for that to move east.  I hate Kingman, it's always windy, the traffic is terrible, and there are people wearing guns in the grocery store.  Really.  Apart from letting the terrible weather move on through, a closer inspection of the bikes in the trailer revealed that they had moved in transit.  The paint on one of Jim's forks is dinged, as is the front rim.  It's cosmetic, but it's still crazy making.  The extra day gave us time to re-do the packing.  Here is Jim, reefing on the tie downs which restrain the bike rack.  That is a really heavy bike rack, and it is NEVER making the trip to Tucson again.

Here is me, tying  Jim's bike to the side wall of the trailer.  Note the cramped working conditions.

We ended up with this, again, but with more straps used to hold them in place.  We are NEVER doing this again, either.  Over the years we have made bike racks to go in a mini-van, and in the back of a truck or two.  Go here for details of one we did.  The through axles make it more difficult than the quick release skewers we used to have, but there are things that can be purchased to perform the same function as the old fork blocks.  So, we'll be getting two of these, lumber and plywood for a rack to go in December's 5 x 8 U Haul trailer.  We're also getting one of these to take to Tucson and leave there.  It's not a great bike rack but it's good enough.

This time in Kingman, we stayed at the Hampton Inn.  They have a bigger parking lot than La Quinta, which is where we were New Year's Eve, 2022.  It's an ok hotel, the internet is a little slow, but it's ok.  There are refrigerators and microwaves in the rooms.  The first night we got Subway for dinner, tonight we're having bagged salad, chicken from the grocery store deli and King's Hawaiian rolls.  Tomorrow we're in Beaver, Utah which is out in the middle of no where so it looks like Subway again.  I will not order the multi-grain bread again, it was awful.

Here is one last picture taken from the front the AirBnB.

That's it!  That's all I've got.