Monday, December 31, 2018

Crazy Eights

As I look back on 2018 and beyond, I think of the major events that happened in years that ended in 8.

1938 - my dad was born
1988 - a boy that was to become my stepson was born
2008 - my grandson was born

1988 - my divorce, and death of two grandparents (that was a tough year)

2018 - 89 nights away from home

For 2018, my iPhone reports daily averages of:

  • 1.8 miles walked
  • 4,348 steps
  • 7 floors

These averages do not include times I walk, step, or climb floors without my iPhone. I live in a 3-story condo and the first two flights of every day - downstairs for coffee, upstairs to change into my walking gear - are without my phone. I imagine there are other times throughout the day since I work from home. It isn't hard to imagine my average is closer to 10 flights per day, or more. 

4,300 steps and 1.8 miles is probably considered only moderately active but my weight fluctuated less than a pound during the year despite the fact I had a handful of potato chips for breakfast this morning. (I couldn't help myself. Besides, I can get a little crazy on New Year's Eve, right?)

I don't remember the years ending in 9 as being so crazy. In 1989, I married a man that I'm still married to. Some might call that crazy but I'm pretty happy about it. Next year, we already have 41 nights scheduled for travel through May. That could be considered crazy, I suppose. Crazy or not, life is pretty good when you get right down to it. Not always easy but somehow we manage to get through it. 

I hope 2018 was reasonably good for you and your 2019 is even better. Crazy or not, here we come.

If you're going to make New Year's resolutions, don't wait until the last second.



61, Av. de l'Observatoire 75014 PARIS (France)
Tel. : +33 1 40 51 23 35
e-mail :

Paris, 05 July 2018

Bulletin C 56

To authorities responsible
for the measurement and
distribution of time


NO leap second will be introduced at the end of December 2018.
The difference between Coordinated Universal Time UTC and the
International Atomic Time TAI is :

from 2017 January 1, 0h UTC, until further notice : UTC-TAI = -37 s

Leap seconds can be introduced in UTC at the end of the months of December
or June, depending on the evolution of UT1-TAI. Bulletin C is mailed every
six months, either to announce a time step in UTC, or to confirm that there
will be no time step at the next possible date.

Christian BIZOUARD
Earth Orientation Center of IERS
Observatoire de Paris, France

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Do Something Different

Yesterday, I read a blog post entitled, Christmas Mirage from Route 8. While the post was really about the author getting sick after attending a church sponsored Christmas carol sing-a-long in a brewpub, she alluded to what she called the "Christmas Mirage."

That phrase resonated with me. Christmas does seem to . . .  I was going to say slither but that sounds oily. The Grinch slithers. "Disappear" is the better word, as in a mist. As if it wasn't really there. A mirage.

This Christmas was good. It was at someone else's house. The buildup was someone else's problem. (Problem or joyful anticipation?) Procurement, wrapping, baking, hosting - Not it! Our house on Christmas day was peaceful and lazy. Better than any Sunday you can think of. (Chores strictly prohibited.)

In a way, it didn't feel like Christmas at all. We spent the week leading up to it in southern California. Houses were decorated, sure, but there was no snow. No precipitation of any kind, just clear skies and brilliant sunshine in the midst of winter. We were housesitting. There was a Christmas tree but there were no obligations - no office parties, awkward gift exchanges, or family gatherings. It was nice.

Some years ago, we agreed not to exchange gifts but this was the first time Hubby adhered to the rule and I was quite grateful. His heart is big - so much bigger than mine (remember?) - and he would always break our no gift rule with some expensive thing I really didn't need. It was given in love and returned with regrets. It was like breaking his heart year after year.

I could have kept the gifts and let them gather dust. Maybe that would have been better. This year, he gave me nothing and I was filled with joy! I, in fact, broke the rule. I gave him two books. Both were completely unnecessary, but not expensive, and one of them was really for me. (They weren't gift wrapped. Does that count?)

Still, the day after Christmas always feels like some kind of letdown. Even if it was exactly as you wanted, there's a sense of disappointment and unfulfilled expectations afterward. Loss? The echo of silence? There are decorations but nothing left to celebrate, reminders of something that was once there but now isn't.

Then, for many, there's an awkward work week - shortened, sometimes fractured, by the holiday. Requisite attendance with questionable productivity. No one wants to be there. Everyone wants the ease of Christmas day to linger. Work or not, the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is that moment in time when people glance back at the past and make hopeful plans for the future. No one is focused on today.

I am doing the same. Looking back on 2018, I attended one funeral and one wedding. I attended several concerts and shows. I traveled. I learned how to shoot a gun. I re-read what I wrote last year. I made new friends and ended other friendships. I got a colonoscopy and a mammogram. We updated and executed our Wills. I did not clean out my closets except, perhaps, metaphorically.

I'm not sure I have any resolutions for the new year. More of the same: travel, weddings, and funerals in all likelihood. Mending broken relationships is on my list although I haven't any idea of how I'll go about it. I'll figure something out.

I do plan on joy. And laughter. Our motto has been, "If you're not having fun, do something different." Sure, there are melancholy moments, like the Christmas mirage, but that's the time to focus on something else, do something different. Time to put away all the decorations and move on. Have fun. Be with people you love and like to be around.

Yes, that's what my 2019 is going to be about. Christmas is over. It's time to do something different.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Today's post is an update to Eat Me.

The horror!

CenturyLink network affected by outage - The Columbian by Associated Press

" At North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colorado, doctors and nurses for a time had difficulty accessing patient records. Rather than using digital devices, they had to take notes with pencil and paper, according to the Greeley Tribune. "

Monday, December 24, 2018

We are sitting on a plane in Santa Ana that is boarding for Portland in the row directly behind a young family of five. It is a little after 6 pm and the father in the row in front of us, with the oldest son, is apologetic even before we've taken our seats. Across the aisle, the mother is at her wits' end with the two youngest who are small enough that their legs jut straight out in front of them in their seats. The little ones speak at an octave just below that which only dogs can hear but at a volume that that first class can hear distinctly. The parents are are on the verge of panic - they are encapsulated for a little over two hours with tiny people they have no control over in the company of complete strangers who will inevitably judge them mercilessly. 

The mom fervently utters Sshhh! as the children squeal during takeoff. The lights turn low and a quiet descends. Surrounding passengers, as well as the harried parents, breathe a collective sigh of relief. No one wishes to disturb the suddenly calmed children while secretly praying the beverage cart will soon arrive. 

Santa is on his way. The children's slumber can only be good for us all.

[Screach! go the children. Sshhh! from the mom. Where the hell is that beverage cart?]

The father is already napping. [Is he faking or saving strength? Me, I'd totally be faking.] The mother is feeding treats to the the children as if fattening geese. But because they must share crayons, intermittent yowls persist.

[Cocktail, pah-lease!]

Electronics were deployed. Eyes were rubbed. The parents relaxed and furtive glances were replaced by smiles as the children became sleepy putty, if only for a short while.

As the lights below came back into view so did the parents’ ranks tighten as they prepared for another change in pressure. When we landed, Santa was only entering US airspace, yet the children were full of anticipation.

We deplaned. Santa was less than a few hours away. There was magic even as we made our way to baggage claim. On Christmas Eve, at the airport, people gathered to welcome loved ones. One small child, excited to see someone arriving on the night before dreams come true held a cardboard sign reading, “Welcome back from fat camp!”

Merry Christmas.

[not kidding]


I've often lamented there should be a government position of Bathroom Commissioner. This person would be in charge of creating and enforcing a set of standards for public restrooms. I shouldn't have to read directions on how to dry my hands, whether or not the device by which I dry them is paper towel or high-pressure air. I shouldn't have to wave my hands this way or that only to leave the bathroom with still wet hands. How often have I done that only to have another woman dry her hands effortlessly, having discovered the secret to operating the towel dispenser?

Toilets that flush automatically often don't. In such cases, one must find a secret button located uncomfortably close to the open toilet bowl. Sometimes, this button is obvious. Other times, the only thing one can do is run one's hand over the entire surface of the plumbing at the back of the bowl with one's face hovering over one's own waste until flush!

When a toilet does flush automatically, it is usually either before or during the event for which the device was devised. This can be rather surprising if not disgusting. Assuming you are not on the bowl at the time, the "bloom" created by flushing a toilet without a lid potentially exposes you to more germs than are on the toilet seat itself. (Time - You Asked: Should I Use a Toilet Seat Cover?)

How does this work?
Automatic sinks can often be as confusing. What is the magic hand motion to make them work? How do I adjust the temperature? Even sinks with handles can be confounding. Is a joystick really a good idea?

Bathroom design is another thing. Stalls at airports should be sufficiently large enough to accommodate one's luggage. Coat hooks allow a person to wash one's hands without also having to juggle coats or purses.  (Thank you, PDX!) The hotel where I now sit has two sinks. Both are located behind doors that, when open, block the sinks. The towels are hung on the walls opposite the sinks, 10 feet away. Whose idea was that?

Soap. Foam soap is mostly air. I realize it saves money but it doesn't work as well as liquid soap. Sanitizer should be available in more locations. First, in restrooms that only have foam soap but also outside restrooms where one cannot exit without touching the door handle.

Hand sanitizer should also be available anywhere where food is served such as fast food restaurants or buffet lines but that's someone else's job. Maybe we should have a Hand Sanitizer Commissioner.

Sunday, December 23, 2018


I can't imagine what it's like at the North Pole: the pressure, long hours, sleeplessness, the workplace injuries. Thankfully, I'm a senior elf. I don't have to make the toys anymore. No more late nights. No more North Pole, delightful as it is. And, no more eggnog, thank Santa.

Senior elfing is soooo much easier - much like grandparenting. It's someone else's job to fill the stockings, put up the tree, put together the "easy to assemble"s. Someone else was responsible for manufacture and delivery. All I had to do is sprinkle peppermint-crystal magic.

This year's assignment was southern California, a far cry from the North Pole, while a young family was away. It was a combination of house-sitting, pet-setting, and freeloading. I rushed to fill the vacuum of junior elfing with the very things that used to stress me out: wrapping presents, baking cookies, and sending cards. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Some packages were there already, ahead of the magic hour. I could have left them on the doorstep or in the hall. The family had no expectations. But, I brought them in and uncrated them. I found the wrapping, the ribbon, the tape. I wrapped them, all but one. It was so big, I devised a scavenger hunt for that one and hid clues throughout the house.

The family is due back by Christmas. The house will be clean before they arrive and the presents will be under the tree. There will be elf dust everywhere but, good thing, they won't be able to see (although the 10-year-old may now be allergic).

I'm delighted to be a senior elf but I'm exhausted. It's a lot of work - no matter what kind of elf you are - to get done in one night.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Written on the Bathroom Wall

Only $6.25 or is there some other quarter I don't know about?

Please forward and backward.

Monday, December 17, 2018


There are always things to be done when one travels: placing a hold on delivered mail, for example, or making sure the plants are watered. I like to take apart my espresso maker and run all the parts through the dishwasher before I go. On longer trips, we like to take the garbage out so it doesn’t stink up the house while we’re gone.

There’s always some time pressure: the Uber car is about to arrive, last minute packing, trying to get everything ready without having to get up at o’dark thirty, and trying not to forget anything.

On a recent trip, we drove ourselves to the airport. We packed the garbage and recycling in the trunk of our car alongside our luggage. In our complex, the central waste collection is about a block and a half away. We usually walk it over but we thought it might be more efficient to drop it off on our way to the airport. We made sure the lights had all been turned off, we lowered the thermostat, double-checked with each other that we had everything. (Swimsuit? Check. Sun glasses? Check. Underwear? Check.) We got in the car, my shoelaces still untied, jewelry not yet donned in hand, and headed out.

As soon as we hit the freeway, we realized we had forgotten to drop off the garbage. Instead of stinking up the house, it was going to stink up our car unless we could get rid of it.

We had plenty of time, I suggested. We could turn around. Hubby thought we would cut it too close. We would have to find someplace near the airport to dispose of it.

Sure, I reasoned. There were hotels, restaurants, and plenty of retail stores nearby. We were bound to find an accessible garage dumpster somewhere. At the very least, we might find a pickup truck in the airport parking lot. Maybe we could leave it in the cargo bed?

Finding a dumpster wasn’t as easy to find as we had imagined. I started to worry that we would spend more time looking for a dumpster than it would have taken to turn around in the first place. Finally, we found one outside a fast food restaurant in an unlocked corral in plain view of the drive through window.

Now, I wondered if this was legal. Could we actually do this? Does dumping an unidentifiable package in dumpster near an airport create a homeland security risk? We kept the engine running as Hubby popped the trunk and made a break for the dumpster.

What an odd picture we must have painted. Hubby was wearing dark denim jeans with dress shoes, a crisp white dress shirt and a navy blue blazer. I sat nervously inside our expensive German auto, my diamonds sparkling from within. We are in our 50s and we were trying to stealthily dispose of our household waste as if our garbage might spark an international incident.

Go, go, go! We pealed out of the parking lot before anyone could get our plate number. We made our way to the economy parking lot relieved of our waste and evading pursuit from mall security. We reached the parking lot gate, took a ticket and the very first thing we came across inside was a freestanding garage dumpster practically begging travelers to rid themselves of whatever they couldn’t travel with or needed to empty their vehicles of.

*forehead slap*

Now we know. We've learned our lesson: Ask the maid to take the garbage out.

(Just kidding. They couldn't really see us from the drive through window.)


My socks match today because all my mismatched socks are in the laundry.

Random sock pairings will resume tomorrow.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Seattle Times: Dallas-bound flight returns to Seattle after human heart was left onboard
" On Sunday afternoon, a Southwest Airlines flight bound for Dallas made a hairpin turn over eastern Idaho and headed back for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The reason, the captain told passengers: Someone forgot to unload a human heart. "

A nonprofit just moved into, arguably, the most expensive real estate in Vancouver. No wonder they are non profit.
The Columbian: Tenants begin moving into Murdock building at The Waterfront Vancouver
" The first tenant has moved into the recently completed Murdock building at The Waterfront Vancouver: the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The nonprofit foundation . . . "

Take a listen to this podcast. It's well worth it.
The New York Times: The Business of Selling Your Location
It's amazing how much is out there about each one of us on the internet. Shocked as I was by this report, I still did nothing about it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

I broke my rule about Costco in December ...

... which is DON'T GO. Costco is always a madhouse, especially so in December, but I was out of coffee and you do not want to know what that looks like!

So we braved it. I braved the warehouse while Hubby braved the parking lot. For emphasis, Hubby parked the car in a Costco parking lot, in December, while I was in a Costco warehouse, in December. We're lucky we're not still there. Me, snaking around aisles clogged with people clumped around overwhelmed, hairnetted retirees to sample whatever food was being handed out, and Hubby in an endless circuit around the parking lot interrupted only by people who look like they're going to back out of a spot but never really do.

If it wasn't for the coffee, we wouldn't have gone. Except, we were also out of everything else. We stocked up on paper towels, toilet paper, and Kleenex. And Triscuits. I couldn't help myself. I got a case of four boxes but they are organic so they're good for me, right?

Somehow, I made it out of there and we were reunited, for the most part, unscathed. (There may be some PTSD but we haven't been diagnosed yet.)

Technically, I broke two of my rules: the one about December plus the one about going. We live in a condo. We don't have room for three cases of paper products. (I made space for the case of Triscuits.) Euphoric over surviving the trip, this lapse in judgement became immediately apparent. There was no place to put all this stuff: 12 rolls of paper towel, 30 rolls of toilet paper, and 12 boxes of Keenex. The only good news is that I won't have to go back to Costco for a very long time (or at least until my two pound bag of coffee runs out - which could be next week.)

If I'm out of paper product next December, I'm just going to have to stay at your house.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Superficial foreign body, without major open wound.

I'm just lucky to be alive!

Actually, that's doctorspeak for "splinter." I had a checkup last week and as it happened, I was rearranging furniture in preparation for a holiday party. Rubbing my hands along the frame of a bench, I picked up a nasty splinter in one finger. Knowing I was about to see my doctor, my attempts at removing it were limited to a couple feeble attempts. First I had to find tweezers. Then, reading glasses. Then, adequate lighting. . . . I gave up quickly and left it to the professionals.
aka, a splinter

Extraction completed, I was bandaged and sent home with instructions to keep the area clean and to watch for infection. I wonder how the insurance company will be billed for this.

Today, I am in a fog - literally and figuratively. Current visibility is about 300 feet, we cannot see the sun, and I feel like I'm sleepwalking. We had plenty of sunshine last week but the weather has turned and it has become dark and wet.

I can't concentrate or get motivated to do much. This morning, I left the shower having forgotten to wash my hair.

Good thing we have a trip planned for southern California for next week. It'll be 30 degrees warmer and 100 percent sunnier. In fact, we will get an hour more of daylight every day as we will be closer to the eastern edge of the Pacific time zone.

A neighbor has come and gone, interrupting any semblance of rhythm and flow. Me, in my dirty hair and foggy existence. He, bearing homemade brownies.

Perhaps more coffee. Or, perhaps, I should just go back to bed and start over. Will someone please wake me up when it's March?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Stick Dog

This is the name I've given to a sleeping position I adopt
Stick dog or self portrait?
when I break out in a sweat, a common occurrence generally limited to my sleeping hours. It involves laying on my side with my arms and legs extended in search of cooler sheets.

Another position, unnamed, involves laying face down except I've been told never to sleep face down so while my lower half is face down, so to speak, my shoulders are rotated as in the Stick Dog position.

Temperatures are in the 20s at night now. Yet, I sleep with the fan on, covers thrown off, with arms and legs splayed while Hubby shivers under two Pendelton wool blankets. Both of us believe we should be losing weight - he because of vigorous and continual shivering and I through profuse sweating. It's hard to imagine that our slumber is restful! Neither, however, has found any weight loss in sleep.

Why am I telling you this? Your guess is as good as mine. I needed to post today so this is what you get. As in most blogs, it is a rambling of personal problems best kept to oneself. And, yet, I ramble on!

Now posted, you are dismissed.

Friday, December 7, 2018

I've suddenly become addicted to Triscuits and potato chips...

... and I know exactly how it happened: cleaning up. Let that be a lesson to you!

Putting away the party snacks, one inevitably must nibble. A cracker here, a potato chip there. Before I knew it, I was craving my next snack. I NEED A TRISCUIT!

I knew I hit rock bottom when I found myself eating potato chips for breakfast - Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut. I thought I could restrain myself. I only had a handful - maybe two - and then I put the bag away. But I couldn't stop thinking about them. They were ground into my teeth. I tried to dislodge the snack with my tongue only to taste their salty goodness and crave them all the more.

It's been four and a half hours since my last cracker - almost an entire day without chips. I'm trying to be strong but have turned to coffee to distract myself. Am I doomed to replace one indulgence with another? Thank goodness there aren't any cookies in the house!


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Is it Friday yet?

. . . because I had too much Wednesday.

My house is a glorious mess. We hosted our first party since we remodeled, the first party since we've had both a dining room table and chairs, and the first Holiday party since we moved here. We purchased our condo with all the furnishings three years ago. It came with a dining room table but no chairs. This was great because, without chairs, we were never expected to host anything. We attached a net and used the table for ping pong instead.

Last year, we decided to remodel including all new wood floors. Rather than store the furniture for the duration, we sold it all and bought new stuff. The previous owner's furniture was worn and we wanted an updated look to go with our updated space. We bought dining chairs but no table. We couldn't find one that would fit the space and still be good for ping pong.

We spent six months looking for a table. During that time, we had no ping pong but we also continued to have no obligation to host anything. Luckily, we had friends who were gracious enough to include us as frequent, if not perennial, guests.

Even though we've had both table and chairs since February, the reputation persisted: We don't host.

Until last night. We invited friends and neighbors over for dinner and then a short walk to watch the Christmas Ships cruise along the Columbia River. That was the "Holiday" part. There was no gift giving. No ugly sweaters. No roasting fire. We had our measly few decorations, some holiday music in the background, and a whole lot of wine.

We invited Jimmy. We also invited Al who lives nearby. I have no idea how old Al is but if I had to guess, he's in the neighborhood of 80. We see him out walking every morning, rain or shine, and got to know him as our regular walking buddy. We invited a chef (no pressure!), a friend (our adopted daughter?) with two small children, and it was perfect: our house was made a home.

The kitchen was a littered with food, pots, and pans. The table was covered with wine glasses and coffee cups. After our wintery walk, blankets and coats were draped over every surface. We found Triscuits under tables and ground into carpet. There were dominoes dangerously dancing on glass table tops. (Our condo is more kid dangerous than friendly.) But no wine was spilled in the making of this party!

It's just the kind of mess that I don't mind. The kind that comes with warm, fuzzy feelings for being the evidence of love, messy as that is.

I slept in this morning and am slogging my way through Thursday, still in my fuzzy afterglow. I'll get over it. The Grinch isn't far away. Rain is back in the forecast. The nights are still long. But for now, everything is all right.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Here are two gifts I won't be giving you.

If it's the thought that counts, you are doubly blessed because I have two gifts that I won't be giving you.


I have three aloe plants, two of which have given birth to several more and their pots are getting crowded. All year, I kept thinking I would come across a sale of adorable small pots that I could use to re-pot all the babies and gift to friends. But, I didn't. And, I didn't go out of my way to find them either.


Phew!, you just sighed, but have you actually tried one? At the turn of the century (or thereabouts), I came across an article in Martha Stewart Living, to which I then subscribed, that extolled the virtues of this holiday phenomenon. Somehow, even though I had a career and two kids, I had enough time to bake all five varieties mentioned in the article. I think I liked some better than others but since I can't remember, it might be time to make them again.

The cakes are literally fermented and, therefore, must be made well in advance of when you intend to eat (or gift) them. For this reason (and the fact that I suck at managing my time), you will not be receiving such a cake this year. (Beware, I've already put it on my calendar for November to start baking for next year.)

Of the five recipes included in the article, only one can be made in less than one month's time: Chocolate Panforte. It is possible you'll get a bite of this before the year is over. However, I also found this at Martha Stewart dot com: Miniature Golden Fruitcakes so you're not entirely safe from the gift of fruitcake although it's highly unlikely that I'll get motivated enough to actually make them.

But, I thought about it so there you go. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


The effort it takes to reduce stress is stressing me out. My blood pressure has been running a little high lately and I'm trying to avoid taking medication for it. For alternatives, I found this list (from 13 Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure - ABC News):

  1. Power walks [Already doing it.]
  2. Breathe deeply *
  3. Potassium [Had it tested. No deficiency.]
  4. Reduce sodium [Also tested fine.]
  5. Dark chocolate [Every day, baby!]
  6. Coenzyme Q10 [Started taking it as of today.]
  7. Drink (a little) alcohol [I'm an overachiever here (and not in the "little" department).]
  8. Switch to decaf coffee [In your dreams but I'll do it if nothing else works.]
  9. Hibiscus tea [On my shopping list.]
  10. Work less [I'm in front of the computer most of the day whether I'm working or not.]
  11. Relax with music *
  12. See help for snoring [For me or my partner?]
  13. Replace refined carbs with foods high in soy or milk protein [I'm not sure how one can replace the other but reducing one and increasing the other makes sense. I have a soy latte, generally, every day.]
     * This is where I get stressed out.

I'm doing well in most of these areas but there are a couple bad habits I probably should fix. Deep breathing and relaxing music? Who has time for that?

I've tried to close my eyes and focus on my breathing and found myself getting antsy almost immediately. Today, I tried while listening to the most relaxing music ever and set a timer for one minute and was, frankly, surprised at how quickly the time passed. I'll work on increasing that time but just thinking about it is like: "Great, just another chore I've got to do." (If I all I did was worry about my "gottas" I'd never get to any of my "wannas.")

As if that wasn't stressful enough, I looked up how to properly take my own blood pressure. The instructions from Mayo Clinic include (and I quote although the emphasis is all mine):
  • Measure your blood pressure twice daily. The first measurement should be in the morning before eating or taking any medications, and the second in the evening. Each time you measure, take two or three readings to make sure your results are accurate. Your doctor might recommend taking your blood pressure at the same times each day.
  • Don't measure your blood pressure right after you wake up. You can prepare for the day, but don't eat breakfast or take medications before measuring your blood pressure. If you exercise after waking, take your blood pressure before exercising.
  • Avoid food, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol for 30 minutes before taking a measurement. Also, go to the toilet first. A full bladder can increase blood pressure slightly.
  • Sit quietly before and during monitoring. When you're ready to take your blood pressure, sit for five minutes in a comfortable position with your legs and ankles uncrossed and your back supported against a chair. Try to be calm and not think about stressful things. Don't talk while taking your blood pressure.
My morning routine includes coffee first thing so there's no period between "right after you wake up" and coffee. Certainly not 30 minutes. If I take my bp before exercise, that's less than 30 minutes after I had coffee. And twice daily taken multiple times? Sitting still for five minutes? It's all getting to be too much!

Ugh! It seems that medication is the easy way out - pop a pill and go about my day. But, if I want to avoid that, I need to quit whining and figure out how to relax a little. 

Maybe I need a cat. [I typed "stress and cats" into my search engine and found articles about stressed cats. That's the last thing I need!]

Monday, December 3, 2018

No Explosions

Sunday started with coffee in bed and an email from KenKen Puzzle Company saying that my December puzzles were ready. It was the perfect start to any day.

I decided, after all, to get out the holiday decorations which now consist of a ceramic tree lit by Lite-Brite-like lights (say that ten times fast), empty Christmas stockings, and a few decorations left over from when we used to get a tree. I turned on the fake fire (adding a YouTube crackling fire soundtrack), and lit an evergreen-scented candle.

It's not like Christmases past. No live tree. No family coming to visit. No music. (There's still three weeks to go. Don't want to overdo it.) I'm not nostalgic. Rather, I appreciate the easy, low stress, simplicity.

My family is strewn across the country so it's been decades since we were all together for the holidays. Meanwhile, Hubby's large family of four generations has managed to get together every year. (36 in all now, including spouses, if I counted right). A boisterous crowd, everyone somehow managed to get there. There were white elephant gifts and gift exchanging games that were loud and rambunctious. There was a kitchen full of food and more cookies than could be conceivably consumed. Santa sometimes showed up and one year even the Grinch made an appearance.

This year is the first year we won't all be together. Families have moved apart. There are new households and new traditions being established. Ornaments are being passed down to younger generations. They can have the stress, too! I'm enjoying the quiet.

I guess the transformation is complete. I've managed to get into the spirit of things (although "jolly" might be a stretch). And, I didn't blow anything up.

Peaceful, all around.

Sunday, December 2, 2018


After a lazy morning yesterday, Hubby and I approached each other with "What do you want to do now?"

I answered, "Well, we could go to a movie or maybe take a handgun lesson."

*record screech*

These words have never before formed in my mind, much less come out of my mouth. I don't have any desire to own a handgun and have only had a mild curiosity about how to handle one. We discussed movie options, a possible hike, a quick day trip to a winery but by the time I got out of the shower, we had an appointment with an instructor at the local gun range.

It was a little nerve wracking since I've never even handled a handgun before. I've only (knowingly) been in a room with one a couple of times. Yet, here we were. We started with classroom instruction that covered safety, range rules, stance, grip, and aiming before even handling a weapon.

Our instructor chose a Glock 17 for us to try and we headed to the range where we covered the mechanics of the gun before even loading it. I felt calm even as my hands shook. The noise didn't bother me. I wan't afraid of the recoil, although I found myself anticipating it at times, and I wasn't worried about the shells as they were ejected from the gun. I just tried to take it all in- intellectualize it all - yet the adrenaline found its way to my sweaty palms.

In the end, I had fun -  a word that feels funny to use in the context of lethal weapons. Using firearms responsibly should never be trivialized. That being said, I felt badass. I did something that I was uncomfortable doing. I learned something. And, I did well.

I'll probably go back but I still don't want to own a gun. And I'm just as interested in taking a traditional self-defense class. (My alter ego is a ninja.)

So maybe range shooting wasn't a very Christmas-y activity and it did nothing to get me ready to celebrate the holiday. (Now that I mention that, what does that even mean? Why does anyone need to get ready?) But, I'll grin the next time I hear the song, "You better watch out..." because this Grandma is a badass!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

This is as close to Christmas as it gets.

Today is the first Saturday since mid-September that I've been home with nothing on the calendar. To understand the significance, you have to understand just how much I schedule. I have ten trips scheduled in the next six months. Hair appointments, accordingly, are scheduled through May. I even schedule when I change the sheets because I can't remember when I changed them last.

It's just past noon and I'm still in my pajamas having finished my second cup of coffee in front of a fake yule log, with accompanying sounds provided by a YouTube video linked in by wifi. I suppose I could get more into the Christmas spirit by hauling out the decorations but I leave again in two weeks. Is it worth it? Perhaps I should don my Grinch onsie and think about it.

For the most part, I have everything I want with the exception of time. There's never enough time but I'm enjoying the time I have. Every second.

I'm glad to be back on Holidailies. Without it, I would just give up (blogging) and, in fact, have thought about doing just that. It comes down to time. And effort, and when that starts to feel like work it's no longer fun. Last year, I launched a second blog about beer and quickly found myself unqualified and outclassed by the true writers in the beer industry. I remain enthusiastic about the beer scene but my enthusiasm for beer writing has gone flat.

I'm hoping Hoilidailies will rekindle my interest in writing. (It certainly puts in on the schedule.) In the meantime, I need to figure out what to do with my day as I am unaccustomed to so much free time.

I'll let you know how that turns out.

If you like podcasts, here are 10 of the best.

The top 10 podcasts of 2018

From 30:30 to Serial Read the full story

Shared from Apple News

Sent from my iPad

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Story of Festivus


It's been five whole days since I had a day off. Scoff you may, but due much travel this is the first five-day workweek I've had in seven weeks! I coped by mostly avoiding work at the office and occasionally clocking out early. Still, time dragged eternal as I stared out the window and organized month's worth of future travel. 

Just in time, I spied an excellent opportunity for a road trip this weekend lest I grow moss. It's that or clean the house.

The choice is clear.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Reentry will be rough.

I figure a tan must weigh something because what else could account for weight gain on vacation? (Sand in your pockets??)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Yesterday was our first real soaker of the year. It rained all day. Consequently, it was the first day we ran the heat. Summer is over, my friends.

The window in my office space faces east so I get wonderful light in the mornings, even if filtered through drizzle. The overhead light is dismal so I use it only when necessary which will be the case, more and more, in coming days.

Good thing I'm going to the beach in a couple of weeks and have a good book to bring with me. I think I should stay there until, maybe, March. That should do it.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Double Nickels

I had the greatest birthday ever. Even better than the one I had fifty years ago in the back yard of the family home with all the neighborhood kids in attendance, clowns, jugglers, a pony. (Okay, that never happened. I'm just saying my birthday was even better than that.)

Birthday greetings started the day before and lasted until well into the day after. I had no idea I had so many friends! Even if FB had to remind you to think of me, I appreciate it. It was nice to hear from so many people and I felt loved. Thank you.

I also got a free movie from Redbox and a free coffee from Starbucks. The former is available to redeem anytime in the next month which is as it should be. 'Bucks, however, required that I drink my birthday coffee on my actually birthday.

I was not going to pass by a free cup of coffee, even though I have been under the weather ever since a recent visit to the vibrant vacation destination of Des Moines. On my birthday, I had been, unshowered, in my pajamas for four days, greasy and smelly, but I went. Too bad for you, Starbucks! I got my coffee!

Thus energized, I later showered and dressed (you're welcome) and accepted an invitation to a home-cooked meal at the home of a retired Coast Guard chef. I donned a surgical mask and brought extras for the kids. Just in case.

It was the best meal I'd had in days after surviving on canned chili, canned chicken soup, Triscuits, and potato chips. Perhaps not the healthiest food, it was food for comfort and all I could muster.

Another friend, thinking to surprise me, asked Hubby what kind of cake I like. He responded ANY. And, so, she brought four quarter cakes arranged as one: chocolate, caramel, red velvet, and carrot. I ate them all.

My stomach was stretched and bloated to the point I thought it would explode. I carried it home in both hands, groaning in uncomfortable, sated pleasure. The following morning, my scale treated me with a lie so sweet: it said I was light as a feather, despite a body shape that suggested otherwise.

I'm still under the weather. My nose is producing more snot than I thought humanly possible but at least I am sleeping through the night and I am maintaining a hygiene routine. My hands are chapped for all their washing. And I'm busy at work as we head into the extended federal tax deadline.

But, I'm happy and that's all anyone can hope for. Thank you for helping to make my day special. I hope you're having a great day, too.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Giving stuff away can be complicated

... at least, if you want a tax deduction for it. This is a good article on how to do it properly which is trickier than you might think. I see a lot of contribution receipts in my line of work (as a tax preparer) and many times they are invalid.

Fewer people will itemize their deductions on their 2018 tax returns. For those who will take a standard deduction, charitable giving will be easy because keeping track of donation receipts will no longer be required. However, if you plan to donate and itemize, be aware of the rules, particularly for amounts above $250. (Just $251 can get you in trouble. Over $500, even more.)

While this article gets into the weeds a little bit, it's not as boring as its title might imply:

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Substantial Substantiation Rules In §170

The takeaway: 1) Always get a proper receipt. 2) Know what a proper receipt is.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Update to Missing the Music

[This is a follow up post to Missing the Music.]

Jimmy is back. Alas, without Nancy who was recently placed in a memory care facility. He's trying to adjust and struggling to know the right things to do. He has been her primary caregiver until now and it's been difficult for him to let go of that responsibility.

He was on his bench this week, listening to music and trying to take a break from what he's been going through. He is worried about what Nancy is going through and is waiting for the opportunity
to bring her back to the waterfront, to their regular bench. For now, he plays music for her at the facility where, he tells us, they have some nice outdoor space.

We never really knew Nancy but Jimmy has been with her for twelve years. They were always by each other's sides. It won't get better for Nancy but in time, hopefully, things will get better for Jimmy. We are glad he's back and glad to hear his music.


It's not fall yet!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Ah, passwords.

There are as many websites on strong passwords as ways to devise and keep track of them all. I do my best to create strong passwords. I also have a scheme for keeping track of them which involves translating them into keywords so my list of passwords only has keywords and not passwords. Every time I log in somewhere, though, I have to look up the keyword because there are so many derivations, each according to how secure I want to be. (Banking passwords are stronger than sites that contain no financial information, for example). It might be difficult for a human to circumvent this system but probably not so much for a computer.

All this effort does nothing to protect my mailbox.  Luckily, the IRS is introducing a new format for receiving tax transcripts by mail. A tax transcript can be obtained online or by mail and contains all of the information used in filing your tax return so you can see what the IRS has recorded for your income, deductions, and payment of tax. It includes your social security number, address, employer information, and adjusted gross income - everything you need to steal one's identity. Unfortunately, this change doesn't occur until after I ordered mine. (Change takes effect September 23rd.)

I ordered a transcript after I received an IRS tax notice thanking me for my 2017 amended tax return. Since I hadn't filed one, I thought getting a transcript was not only a good idea but probably easier than trying to call the IRS. I could have ordered one online (and probably should have) but since they would have had to check with credit reporting agencies to verify my identity, I would have had to temporarily suspend the credit freeze on those accounts (which was put in place after last year's Equifax hack).

I figured delivery by mail was more secure than lifting the credit freeze (if not the lesser of two hassles) but I was wrong.

I don't know that anyone actually stole it. What I know is I received an Informed Delivery email from the US Postal Service announcing it was going to be delivered to my locked mailbox on August 23rd. The email contained a picture of the envelope. I could see it was from the IRS and I could also see my social security number through the envelope. (C'mon, guys. Maybe thicker paper stock?? If I can see it in an emailed PDF, don't you think Average Joe could see it in his hand?) I went to the mailbox to retrieve my mail and - not there.

I checked the next day, and the next. Still not there. I reported it as missing with USPS. To date, I have heard nothing back. It does not appear that the mailbox was broken into and that is the only piece of mail that's missing. The only one. WTF?

So, now, I've re-upped the fraud alert (which, it turns out, was what I had before - not a credit freeze - which means I probably could've ordered online in the first place). In addition, I've filed an Identity Theft Affidavit with the FTC and the IRS. Meanwhile, the IRS is holding on to part of my refund for last year which is what precipitated this whole mess.

So far, nothing bad has happened (other than the aforementioned) *knocking wood* but I've learned my lesson: have strong passwords because the alternative is a pain in the neck no matter how you get there.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

At least I had something to write about.

I started the day by sleeping in and then sleeping in some more. I kept hoping that someone would bring me coffee in bed but since that didn't happen, I got up and made it myself. Having left all my toys in the vicinity of my bed, I retreated there to write whereupon I spilled my freshly made coffee.

I cried out. While the bed itself was mostly unstained, I had flooded the nightstand. (Yes, one night stand.) My night in shining armor (who might have avoided this tragedy had he brought coffee to bed in the first place) arrived with rags in hand for the mop up on Aisle 1.

The carpet was relatively coffee free so our efforts were focused mostly on the nightstand, lamp, and surrounding walls down which coffee dripped and pooled precariously on the baseboards. The blessing was that I didn't dump the entire cup and I still had most of it, now cooled considerably, to enjoy.

The cup a safe distance away, I arranged my pillows and toys just so before placing my cup on the nightstand and climbing in once again.

Let that be a lesson to you White Knight! (Or, could we just install the coffee maker upstairs?)

Friday, August 24, 2018

This is Not a Political Blog

In fact, the subject of politics rarely interests me. Even if it did, I'm not likely to bring it up. And, as a rule, I wouldn't post anything political on this blog.

However, I'm making an exception for the Vancouver City Council race. I'll admit, Sarah is a friend of mine. That notwithstanding, I think she's the best candidate for the job. You can check out her website here and on Facebook here. She's civic minded by nature, involved in the community, fair, and honest. She would do a great job for Vancouver.

Even though I'm rarely politically engaged, I am doing what I can to help her campaign. To that end, here's a video of the recent primary election night:

(The video should start just as she comes on camera. If it doesn't, she comes on at 48:16 and goes to 52:42.)

I'll try to keep the political posts to a minimum - that's not what this blog is about - but if I can help Sarah between now and November, one or two more posts may sneak in. I hope you'll bear with me and, while you're at it, consider giving her your vote.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Who is this really?

From: Lynn_C_Dot
To: Hubby

Do you want to go to the Seahawks versus Dallas game on September 23?

Amtrak tix are still available. Up on the 22nd 12:18pm-3:30pm. Back 6:10pm-9:08pm. (Game is 1:25) Cheap tix are $140 total rt. Not as comfortable as business class but we get to sit together and we can hang out in the bar car.

Haven't looked at Seahawks tix or accomodations but the calendar is clear.


From: Lynn_C_Dot
To: Hubby


We can do it same day but it costs $20 more. (Still less than a hotel room.) Leaves Vancouver 8:38 am and arrives Seattle 11:50. Game time is 1:25. Return trip leaves 6:10 pm and arrives Vancouver 9:08 pm.

What do you think?


To: Lynn_C_Dot
From: Hubby

Who is this really?

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Missing the Music

Jimmy and Nancy
If you spend any time on the Waterfront Renaissance Trail in VanWA, you've seen these two. You'll find them sitting on a park bench, listening to music. They are Jimmy and his wife, Nancy.

Nancy has Alzheimer's and doesn't communicate much anymore but she does seem to connect to music, Jimmy told us. His phone is loaded with a variety of music, mostly pop, which he plays on a small, portable Bluetooth speaker. He loves it when people, usually small children, stop to dance and he'll change the music to whatever people seem to respond to.

Everybody knows "that guy" - the guy who plays music down by the waterfront. Very few people say hello but every once in a while a friend passes by.

We haven't seen them lately. They always sit on the same park bench by McMenamins but there's very little shade and it's been unusually hot here lately. We usually take the bench next to them but have taken up a spot further west under a shade tree. Even so, we walk back to see if they are there to find their bench empty.

We miss them. We miss their music. They've been a fixture here for years and we hope they're okay. If you see them, stop and dance for a while. It would make Jimmy's day.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Witness the birth of an iceberg

EarthSky article and video:
" This iceberg broke off Greenland’s Helheim Glacier on June 22. If laid atop New York City, it’d stretch from lower Manhattan to Midtown. "

Friday, July 6, 2018

Dog Days of Summer

... are here. Roughly, until August 11. Men, especially, take heed:
" The 1729 British Husbandman's Practice claimed that 'The Heat of the Sun is so violent that Men's bodies at Midnight sweat as at Midday: and if they be hurt, they be more sick than at any other time, yea very near Dead'. It therefore advised men to 'abstain all this time from women' and to 'take heed of feeding violently'. "
This guy's in trouble.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Don't play with fireworks, children!

Because something like this could happen. And did last night.

We were invited to a friend's house last night to celebrate the Fourth of July. She lives at the end of a dead end street next to a couple of large empty lots. In one, a small group (looked to be a family) set up their own party with lawn chairs and coolers. And fireworks.

One of their explosives didn't work as advertised. As I understand it, the firework in question was designed to spin on the ground and then shoot upwards. Instead, it shot sideways and landed in a tree behind our friend's house.

I saw it streak across her back yard, just behind her fence. Immediately after, a man ran from the vacant lot, across her driveway to her back yard. I thought it odd but didn't know anything was wrong until we saw smoke which was only a short minute later.

Our party evacuated the premises and waited at the house across the street as for firemen to arrive. The men went around back to do what they could with garden hoses. The women comforted the children, most of whom were scared and crying.

The fire spread quickly to neighboring trees and, eventually, to a utility pole which also caught fire, causing the power line to fall. PUD was called. A man with a professional-looking video camera appeared on the scene but no news truck.

Meanwhile, neighborhood fireworks continued all around us.

Here's the kicker. After PUD and the fire department left, people from our own party started lighting off their own fireworks. To their credit, they spoke with the firemen beforehand and asked their advice on the safest place to shoot them off. The street in front of the house was indicated.

By this time, the children had stopped crying and the events of only moments before were entirely forgotten. (Cake will solve most problems.) Fireworks ensued and the kids were thrilled.

On with the show, I guess. Next year, I'll stick to my own back yard where fireworks are illegal.

Not A Second To Lose!

(... or gain, apparently.)

June 30th was like any other day. Maybe you noticed.

Paris, 09 January 2018

Bulletin C 55

To authorities responsible
for the measurement and
distribution of time


NO leap second will be introduced at the end of June 2018.
The difference between Coordinated Universal Time UTC and the
International Atomic Time TAI is :

from 2017 January 1, 0h UTC, until further notice : UTC-TAI = -37 s

Leap seconds can be introduced in UTC at the end of the months of December
or June, depending on the evolution of UT1-TAI. Bulletin C is mailed every
six months, either to announce a time step in UTC, or to confirm that there
will be no time step at the next possible date.

Christian BIZOUARD
Earth Orientation Center of IERS
Observatoire de Paris, France