Saturday, October 30, 2010


Artist Ray Villafane began carving pumpkins on a lark for his art students in a small rural school district in Michigan .

The hobby changed his life as he gained a viral following online and unlocked his genuine love of sculpting.  Here are images of pumpkin carvings Villafane created over the past five years.

Friday, October 29, 2010


A couple of days ago I was telling you about the nasty, itchy rash that developed.  And that the doctors thought it was an allergic reaction, but they didn't know to what.  Well, now we have a solution!  When I saw my own M.D. yesterday afternoon, he was still pretty puzzled.  No results had yet come back from the lab.  He commented that none of my drugs had changed, ... when I spoke up and said that the pulmonologist had prescribed an antibiotic for the lung infection.  "Which antibiotic," he wanted to know.  "Septra," I answered, and asked if that could be the problem.  He exclaimed, "Hell, YES!"  Seems that Septra is a sulfa drug, and now I know that I'm allergic to it.  My doc immediately called a dermatologist, who agreed to see me (this was now late afternoon).  "Oh, yes!" said the dermatologist when he saw my rash, and he went into a long explanation of what was going on.  More importantly, he gave me a couple of prescriptions to control the itching, and they work beautifully!  I'll live!

Funny cartoon --

I told you to shut your mouth!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I had some similar "Baby Sitters" a while back, but I think these are different.

Humor --

Regeorgitation:  When the vending machine spits back your dollar bill.

Who said “normal” is just a cycle on the washing machine?

Death and taxes may be the only certain things in life, but at least death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I’ve been having a bit of a bad time the past few days.  I developed a very itchy rash, so Cliff picked up some cortisone cream, which helped somewhat, but then at my request, he hauled me off to the local emergency room.  The ER doc examined me, and said it looked like poison oak.  But I’d been nowhere near any of that.  My own doctor came in, and he and the ER doc decided I had an allergy to something, though they couldn’t figure out what. They drew a bit of liquid from one of the spots, and they are supposed to have lab results in a few days.

So what has this to do with a “family” reunion?  I’ll tell you.  They prescribed an Aunty Histamine and an Aunty Viral.  I’m also taking an Aunty Biotic for my cough.

Other fun --

Why are frogs happy?  Because they eat whatever bugs them.

Dyslexic man walks into a bra...

He has a photographic memory, but he doesn’t have same day service.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Strange, indeed! 
Have a look.

Fun --
A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named 'Amal.' The other goes to a family in Spain, they name him Juan'. Years later; Juan sends a picture of himself to his mum. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wished she also had a picture of Amal. Her husband responds, "But they are twins. If you've seen Juan, you've seen Amal."

Monday, October 25, 2010


I am now a participant in good standing at Avenidas.  My days are, as requested, Mondays and Fridays.  And apparently my request to meet someone with whom I can have a conversation, was being honored.  As a result,  an unusual happening occurred last Friday at lunch.  I was taken to a table with four other fellows, Tom, Frank, Don and Don.  I made the third Don.  I donno, this could get confusing, don it.

I met with a physical therapist who said he would work with me to help my balance.  Now my balance isn’t bad; it’s dreadful!

Fun -

Heard on a Southwest flight. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing.. If you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."


A plane was taking off from Durban Airport . After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.
Welcome to Flight Number 293, non-stop from Durban to Cape Town , The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight.. Now sit back and relax... OH, MY GOODNESS!" Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier.  While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!" A passenger then yelled, "That's nothing. You should see the back of mine!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Why use sticks and stones when air -- just air -- will do the trick.  Here are are examples of various inflatable buildings.

This inflatable pub can be constructed in just two hours and brings a kitschy atmosphere that tents just can’t provide, complete with faux paintings on the wall and a real fire exit right through the pub’s fireplace. Sadly, there’s no bouncing involved, which would actually come in handy after a few drinks.

The wind could blow this incredible inflatable research lab around like a beach ball and the crew inside would remain upright and comfortable due to an inner roll-cage. Designed to simply drift along the land on its exterior ‘air bags’, the Arctic Drifter by Studio Les Betes is truly a passive observer of the continent’s landscape and wildlife.

 If you’re traditional enough to require a church wedding but eccentric enough to find an inflatable chapel acceptable, there’s simply no choice but to have your very own blow-up church delivered to the site of your preference. A company called Innovations Xtreme produces this highly unusual structure, which comes complete with pews, an organ, an altar, candles, a gold cross and angels flanking the door – all made of plastic filled with air. At night and from a distance, the church looks surprisingly convincing.

Providing a comfortable, portable, good-looking venue for outdoor events can be a challenge, but this inflatable ‘Bubbletecture’ pavilion has got it covered – literally. The mobile space is easily inflated or deflated and is completely enclosed allowing waterproof, bug-free, climate-controlled entertainment that is also transparent, letting sunlight in and providing a view of the setting.

 Inside South Korea’s Olympic Stadium during a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Olympic Games, which the country hosted, this structure caught the eye of an American visitor with a camera: an unusual inflatable tunnel, reportedly used as a conference room. The tunnel stretched the entire length of the 100-meter sprint and sort of resembles a worm or centipede with its segmented body.

Kengo Kuma’s golf-ball-textured, amorphous blob of a building is a long way from the serene wooden structures that most of us associate with Japanese tea houses. But step inside this airy inflatable and you may find that the domed white walls and ceiling have their own sense of peace and relaxation. Tatami mats and an electric stove make for a minimalist setup, but built-in LED lights give it a little something extra at night.

Far more visually striking than a mere tent, the ‘Renaissance Pavilion’ by Various Architects features a diamond-grid pattern of inflatable tubes that inflate in under an hour to reveal a public event space unlike any other. The 100% recyclable pavilion isn’t just super-portable, it also generates its own energy in an innovative way – by mounting solar panels on the shipping container used for transport, and wind turbines gather additional power on-site.

Is the inflatable pub just not quite big enough for your needs? Perhaps nothing less than a palace will do. Well, they’ve got that, too. Because nothing says ‘luxury’ like air-filled plastic.

Humor -

I backed a horse last week at ten to one. It came in at quarter past four.

I'll tell you what I love doing more than anything: trying to pack myself in a small suitcase. I can hardly contain myself.

See you on Monday.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Black bears typically have two cubs; rarely, one or three. In 2007, in northern New Hampshire , a black bear sow gave birth to five healthy young. There were two or three reports of sows with as many as 4 cubs, but five was, and is, very extraordinary. The photographer learned of them shortly after they emerged from their den and set a goal of photographing all five cubs with their mom - no matter how much time and effort was involved. He knew the trail they followed on a fairly regular basis, usually shortly before dark. After spending nearly four hours a day, seven days a week, for more than six weeks, he had that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and photographed them. He used the equivalent of a very fast film speed on his digital camera. The print is properly focused and well exposed, with all six bears posing as if they were in a studio for a family portrait.

The photographer stayed in touch with other people who saw the bears during the summer and into the fall hunting season. All six bears continued to thrive. As time for hibernation approached, he found still more folks who had seen them, and everything remained OK. The photographer stayed away from the bears because he was concerned that they might become habituated to him, or to people in general, and treat them as approachable friends. This could easily become dangerous for both man and animal.

After Halloween, no further reports and could only hope the bears survived until they hibernated. This spring, just before the snow disappeared, all six bears came out of their den and wandered all over the same familiar territory they trekked in the spring of 2007.

The photographer saw them before mid-April and dreamed nightly of taking another family portrait, a highly improbable second once-in-a-lifetime photograph.

On 25 April 2008, he achieved his dream.

Fun -

After transporting hospital patients from one floor to another, the worker stopped to chat with a new volunteer.  “I work in patient transfer,” the worker said.  “I push people around.”  Countered the new volunteer, “I work at the information desk.  I tell them where to go.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010


A few days ago Cliff took Pepper to the vet to have her wings and toenails clipped.  When they returned, Cliff handed me some paperwork that indicated that this little bird was overweight.  Now 22 grams may not sound like much, but the last time I had her weighed, she was a skinnier 16 grams.  So I phoned the vet to ask about this.  The answer?  Bring her back in for a checkup, and to see what can be done about her weight.

I had visions of a bird doing sit-ups, or using tiny barbells, or Cliff taking her on walks with a tiny leash and collar around her.

So this morning (Thursday) Cliff took “Chubby” Pep back to the vet.  The two of them just came home.  “So?” I inquired.  “How does she lose weight?”  Cliff’s response:  “The vet says she’s fine.  It’s muscle.”  Now her nickname can be Muscles Poopsalot.

Humor -

After a real crusher of a landing in Johannesburg , the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.."


 Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today.. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of SouthWest Airways."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Yesterday a representative from Avenidas came to visit.  I’d met Jim before, and this was a very low key meeting.  The purpose, he said, was to check the safety features here, and give me time to make comments and ask questions.

I told Jim that I am looking for two things:  activities that I can do given my physical disability, and one or two people with whom I can have a reasonably intelligent conversation.  He said he would do what he could.

On Thursday and Friday I go there for what they call evaluation, and then I'm off and ... walking?  There is the small matter of which two days during the week do I attend, given my various appointments, doctor and otherwise.
* *
Matt Cain is a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants baseball team, and the Giants are in the midst of the major league playoffs.  Matt pitched yesterday (Tuesday).  The headline in the paper that morning read:

* * *
Cliff, after he brought in today's mail:  "Boy, you sure get a lot of mail!"
Me:  I get a lot of JUNK!

Funny cartoon --

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


A beautiful and striking design.  Apparently these are renderings; not actual photographs.

It will be both an observation tower, and a welcome sign for the visitors arriving by air and by sea at  Rio de Janeiro , where the Olympic Games 2016 will take place.  The project is from Zurique, and utilizes solar energy during the day with its solo power panels, to pump the sea water as seen in the model. The movement of the water will be also utilized to turn the turbines and produce the power to work the system at night time.

In the Solo City Tower is the Cafe amphitheater, auditorium and shops. E lifts will take the visitors to the top, where the view will be fantastic, and bungee jumping will have a special platform.  (Just what I’ve always wanted to do -- bungee jump!  Yikes!!)

This vertical structure will be placed in  Cotonduba Island

* * *
About a month ago I talked about a stretch of El Camino near the shopping center I use that was in a terrible state.  I'd gotten an answer back from the city that they would start repairs about the end of October.  Well, they must have decided that the stretch was too dangerous to leave too long because I was down that way today, and they have what looks to me like a temporary repair.  I scootered over it, and it was fine!

* * *
Fun --
This story is the first I ever received via email.  The story has to take some liberties with fact, so just enjoy, or laugh, or grunt, or ...

It seems that the Seattle symphony was going to have a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  And according to the story, there is a long section in the final movement where the string basses have nothing to play, so at one of the rehearsals, one bass player suggested to the others that rather than sit like lumps on their stools, that they move off-stage.  The others agreed, and on the night of the performance, they did so.  Backstage, the instigator said, “Since we have so much time, let’s go across the street and grab a couple of beers.”  And they do.  After a while, one of the other musicians is getting a bit nervous, and says, “Shouldn’t we be getting back?”  The instigator says, “Naw, I’ve got this all timed out.  Besides, I tied a string around the conductor’s score, so when he gets near that part, he’ll have to slow down while he tries to conduct with one hand, and untie the string with the other.  Let’s have a couple more beers!”  So they do, and by the time they start back across the street, they are a bit, er, ah, tipsy.  And as they get back onstage, they can see that the conductor is absolutely furious!  As well he should be.  For here it is, the last of the Ninth, the score is tied, and the bassists are loaded.

Monday, October 18, 2010


We have season tickets for the Los Gatos Community Concert, and Sunday was the first of four in the 2010-2011 season.  This first concert featured the Quartetto Gelato, quite an intriguing group.  The fellow on the left, Colin Maier, plays oboe, among other talents.  Next is Elizabeth McLellan, cello, followed by Peter De Sotto, violin and tenor.  Finally on the extreme right is Alexander Sevastian, and yes, that is an accordion he plays.

What do they play?  Practically anything.  Classical masterworks, operatic arias, tangos, folk songs, and gypsy music!  Peter is a classically trained tenor with a beautiful voice, and he is no slouch on the violin.  Colin?  Well, I will just quote from the program:  “Colin also plays clarinet, English horn, violin, five-string banjo, acoustic/electric bass, piano, flute, guitar and harmonica.  Outside of music, Colin also works as a dancer, actor, stuntman, singer, choreographer, acrobat and martial artist.”

They pulled one stunt that had me agog.  Peter and Alexander took two chairs, and had the fronts of the chairs touching.  Then Colin, from a standing start, jumped on the chairs, one foot on each.  He started to play something, and as he did, Peter and Alexander slowly pulled the two chairs apart so that eventually Colin was doing a split while still playing the oboe.  Yikes!

One joke they told -- Imagine you are in Paris.  You see this immense tower, and you are able to take the elevator clear to the top!  And the view of Paris is magnificent.  You really get an eyeful!  (Ok, if you don’t get it -- of course you will -- email me,  and I’ll explain it.)


San Jose Mercury, Sunday, October 17.
The headline read “Taming the Tantrum”.  I’ve never been the father of a young child, nor was Amalie (Cliff is adopted), but the headline caught my attention.  The article started off telling about a mother who was out shopping with her two-year old, when her young daughter started throwing a tantrum.  Other shoppers were watching, and she didn’t know what to do.  “So I threw myself on the ground and started kicking and screaming and saying everything she was saying,” said the woman.  “People were staring and a couple people were laughing.  A store employee came over and looked like he was going to call security.”

How did the two-year-old react to suddenly having the tables turned?  “Almost immediately she stopped and just stared at me,” she said.  “Then she started lightly crying and asked if I was OK.  I said ‘I am now,’ and we finished our shopping.  And it was the last time she ever did that.”

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Eyjafjallajokull!  No, I can't pronounce it, but I'm sure you remember the Iceland volcano that blew its top some months back.  Here are some images from Iceland.

Boy!  That's kicking up a lot of dust!

That's a lava flow at the bottom of the picture.

That little white smudge in the upper left is a small plane.

You don't want to breathe this stuff!

That bright spot is molten lava

Billowing smoke

Aerial shot

Humor, courtesy of Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer --

First they make ovens you turn on with a switch, then pans that don't stick, and now cakes that are already mixed.  What's next?  Food you don't have to eat?