Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

January 10, 2018
by funny

Rain and Jackhammers

As is often the case, we’re getting the outer edge of the rainstorm that drifted into California…where it’s been causing houses to drift down hills on a tide of mud. Yarnell, beautiful Yarnell, got well over an inch of rain, as did lovely Wittman, home of Ruby the Corgi.

Ah, to be in Yarnell…

Shortly before 7:00 a.m., the bright and cheery song of a jackhammer rose into the air. Cassie and Ruby also rose into the air, emitting a fine barking frenzy. WTF? Storm sewer busted? What?

So I venture outside to see WTF, indeed. Can’t see anyone, but at first think it’s coming from the direction of the WonderAccountants’ house. Possibly in the alley behind their place? Spying on that will be a chore, since the alley curves there and one cannot easily glance down there from our neighborhood lane. Hm. But no… It’s more like the Young People’s house…noooo…. It’s coming from the backyard of the handsomely renovated house on the other side of Young People. No truck is parked in front, but a couple of pails of plaster are standing in the driveway.

Yeah: Undoubtedly a pool replastering job.

Ugh! That means those jackhammers will be banging away for half the day! It takes hours to blast off the old plaster on a large pool. And…fellas? Did your foreman happen to notice that it’s…like…raining? That’s why that wet stuff is falling out of the sky onto your heads.

Some days you realize you’re very lucky not to have some other guy’s job.

The patio seems not to have flooded in the absence of the shade structure’s fiberglass cover. In fact, I think it’s possible that it may have drained better than before. The fiberglass directed runoff from the roof directly into the French drain off the south side of the patio, which of course would fill and overflow within minutes. With the water hitting the concrete and flowing outward from there, drainage seems to spread the runoff across a wider area, sort of the way water runs off a bajada. And that possibly just may have attenuated the Lake Mead effect.

It’s still a mess that will require me to drag the hose over to wash out the mud. But…could be worse.

The table got wet and, because it already had collected some fallen leaves and Devil-Pod tree pollen, was quite the mess to clean up. But I suspect that problem can be easily resolved with a tarp from the Depot.

The cheapie barbecue cover ordered up from Amazon works well to keep the Que dry and clean, and so I can’t see why a cheap tarp wouldn’t do the same for the table. The BBQ cover is “shaped” crudely with a pair of Velcro-backed strips. It would take nothing to secure some heavy-duty Velcro to a flat tarp, which would allow you to tighten the “fit” (as it were) under the table top to keep the thing from blowing off in the wind.

Meanwhile, forgot to drag the wicker rocking chairs into the house from the side deck. By the time I remembered — after the dogs and I were installed in the sack — the rain was really coming down. So had to jump up, run through the house, throw open the sliding door, and drag the two chairs, now amply wet, into the dining room. Fortunately they weren’t completely soaked. Their little seat cushions are already dry this morning…and a couple months ago I’d slapped another thick coat of spray paint on the things, so I guess they’re probably OK.

Yesterday in my frenzy to improve what passes for my health, I walked 2½ miles at a brisk pace, 1½ of them without benefit of dog. Not only that, I also did a yoga routine and two sets of physical therapy exercises for back pain. And…amazingly…


The very first thing that sifted into my consciousness this morning when I woke at dawn was…my back doesn’t hurt my hip doesn’t hurt.

Speaking of WTF! 😀

Over the past some months, I’ve become outrageously lazy. I just do not want to get up out of this comfortable chair. And incoming projects from clients have made that possible: with paid work sitting in the laptop, one can convince oneself that one can’t get up because one has to work. Eh?

Just now the coast is clear. Current client decided to revise his article and asked me to hold off reading it, which instantly shoveled off the virtual desk. So I didn’t feel guilty at diddling away time walking around the ‘hood (read: I had no excuse…).

It is amazing how much better you feel after just one day punctuated with three short periods of mild exercise. The yoga routine only runs about 20 minutes, and the PT routine is much shorter: you can get through it in less than 10 minutes. A mile walk takes about 15 minutes when not interrupted by dog-drags. So really…even if there were any paying work to do, it’s not like that small amount of shuffling around takes that much time away from pecuniary gain. No more time, for example, than lingering over Google News and playing online games…

Hope it clears up enough for another couple of walks today.


January 10, 2018
by funny

The money-making benefits of online trading or web-based trading

Web-based trading is a demonstration of purchasing and offering money related items through a web-based trading stage. Stocks, options, bonds, currencies and futures would all be able to be exchanged on the web. These stages are given by web-based merchants and are accessible to each individual who wants to attempt and profit from the world of online trading. You can learn a lot about your venture choices and make or write off a lot of cash while never addressing a specialist or exiting the confines of your house.

What are the benefits of web-based trading?

Web-based trading has a number of advantages and below, you can find the 7 principle benefits:

It is helpful

With regards to web-based trading, you just need to utilize a new trading account by means of the web when you’re ready. A financial expert at Wilkins Finance confirms that you don’t have a set time or place to do this, as long as you have access to the internet. Thus, internet trading is helpful and available from anyplace with a constrained issue. It additionally spares time.

It is less expensive

When stock trading, a dealer expense, which you should pay, is brought down when contrasted with the fee charged by customary technique. When you exchange a substantial amount of currency, you are able to have the capacity to arrange your specialist’s expenses.

You can screen your speculations at any time

Web-based trading enables you to purchase or offer offers as indicated by your comfort. It offers propelled sections and the capacity for speculators to perceive how their cash is performing for the duration of the day. Thus, you can utilize your telephone or your PC to assess your benefit or misfortune.

It nearly takes out the mediator

Internet trading enables you to exchange with for all intents and purposes no immediate specialist correspondence. Aside from decreasing the general cost, this advantage likewise influences the trading to problem-free. This makes the specific administration significantly more lucrative.

Financial specialist has more noteworthy control

Online merchants can exchange at whatever point they want to. Then again, in customary trading, a financial specialist might be stalled until the point that the individual can contact their agent or when the representative can submit their request. Web-based trading permits almost immediate exchanges. Thus, financial specialists can survey the greater part of their choices as opposed to relying upon a representative to reveal to them the best wagers for their cash. They’re ready to screen their ventures, settle on choices and purchase or offer stock individually with no outside impedance. Therefore, it gives them more prominent grip on their speculation.

Speedier Exchanges

Internet managing an account is quick and productive. Assets can be exchanged between accounts immediately, particularly if the two records are held at a similar keeping money foundation. All it takes to have the capacity to purchase or offer stocks are a solitary click of a button. By doing this, a snappier trade can be made which may likewise guarantee a speedier profit.

Understand your cash

There is a shrouded favourable position of web-based trading you wouldn’t have any desire to leave behind. Much the same as ordinary stock trading, you can foresee the market conduct and utilize this to anticipate an ascent or plummet in the cost of the stock. You’ll be handling your own funds and be in charge of them. After some time, you turn out to be more professional when it comes to understanding the market and great speculation opens from the awful ones. This information about cash is exceptionally valuable and having this on your job experiences make you more attractive to organizations hoping to fill a job position in the finance office. While making a snappy buck, you can also figure out how to end up more intelligent in both your expert and individual life.

It is important to remember that you need not be an expert to become an online trader, but if you have some background and solid knowledge to support your online trading habits, you will be sure to strike a great way of making money by trading currencies and so much more!

January 9, 2018
by funny

U$hering: Free Live Entertainment

The Bach Festival is in town again — it’s an annual spree of lovely classical entertainment presented in small venues, mostly very beautiful churches. As usual, I can’t afford to pay to amuse myself or improve my (probably impregnable) mind, so if I get to one, that’s awesome, but usually…not so much luck.

However, one of my choir friends sent out an email asking if anyone would like to usher for a performance.

Well! Dang. I used to usher for the Arizona Theater Company. It was a great experience…and a way to see a play for free. Downtown Phoenix is a bit of a headache to navigate, though. I most certainly can’t afford to park there. And they moved their volunteers’ parking to a lot that was horribly difficult to find and hard to get into because of all the one-way streets and the construction. So I gave up.

And truth to tell, after all these years (those happenings occurred while I was still working, back in another geologic era!) I had forgotten about it.

Naturally, when she brought it up I jumped to volunteer. And happy day, got accepted for an afternoon performance. 🙂

This really is a fun way to make yourself useful — and on the side, get to see performances you wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend. The trick is to find companies that accept volunteers as ushers. It’s not at all a difficult job: you have to learn the layout of the house. Then you just hand out programs and help people find their seats. And be nice to the peeps, of course.

January 8, 2018
by funny

Gut Instinct…or Doctor Knows Best?

So I remain undecided about whether to start taking the calcium-channel blocker (blood-pressure lowering pills) recently prescribed by Cardiodoc. Gut instinct tells me not to do this! But of course, Cardiodoc is a doctor, and I was brought up by a mother who believed with all her heart that doctor knows best.

In her case, he didn’t…but that’s another story, hm?

Moving on, here is the basis of my skepticism: In 2016 a six-year randomized study of 12,705 patients (published in the New England Journal of Medicine and widely known as the Hope-3 study) showed that the use of blood pressure medications (such as calcium-channel blockers) indeed did lower blood pressure, but that among people with only moderately elevated blood pressure, they did not reduce the incidence of strokes and cardiovascular events compared, over time, with the control group whose members were given a placebo. The use of statins did show a positive benefit in this group, which did not vary by LDL level or risk level.

The evidence is clearest [we are told] in the cholesterol-lowering arm of the trial. For the intermediate risk population tested in HOPE-3, the trial adds to the large amount of “clear evidence” showing the benefit of statins, said Yusuf. In sharp contrast, the blood pressure arm did not find any overall benefit for antihypertensive therapy, though there was a benefit in the prespecified subgroup with the highest blood pressure levels. The benefits of statins, on the other hand, did not vary by LDL level or level of risk.

Results in the blood pressure arm were more complicated. Overall there was no significant difference in clinical outcomes, but there were significant differences based on the prespecified subgroups of blood pressure at baseline. Trial patients with the highest third of blood pressure at baseline (above 143 mm Hg) derived benefit from antihypertensive therapy. For patients in the middle third, antihypertensive therapy had a neutral effect. For patients in the lowest third, antihypertensive therapy had a harmful effect. [My emphasis.]

So what WERE the middle third, first third, bottom third??

The average blood pressure at baseline for the study participants was 138/82 mm Hg. The authors describe “patients who truly had hypertension” as those with systolic pressure of more than 143.5 mm Hg. I’m not finding explicit figures delineating these groups in the published study; however, the Mayo Clinic  lists these:

  • Normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure is normal if it’s below 120/80 mm Hg.
  • Elevated blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure is a systolic pressure ranging from 120 to 129 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure below 80 mm Hg. Elevated blood pressure tends to get worse over time unless steps are taken to control blood pressure.
  • Stage 1 hypertension. Stage 1 hypertension is a systolic pressure ranging from 130 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure ranging from 80 to 89 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension. More severe hypertension, stage 2 hypertension is a systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher or a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher.

Depending on the time span, you could place me in the Stage 1 category (in December 2017 my average figures for the month were 132.5/83.3) or in the “Elevated” category (between June 2017 and today, my average blood pressure has been 128.1/77.5). I can push the systolic figure down by 6 or 8 points simply by doing a 20-minute yoga routine or by performing five minutes of deep-breathing exercises. This presumably would put me in the “middle third” of the Hope-3 study’s subjects, most of the time and in the lower third (120-128/<80) some of the time.

Apparently, what the HOPE-3 researchers regard as “intermediate” is significantly higher than that. We have this from them (NEJM):

Observational studies involving persons without cardiovascular disease show a graded increase in risk at systolic blood-pres sure levels above 115 mm Hg. It has been suggested that lowering blood pressure at any level above this value will reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. . . . However, the role of therapy in persons at intermediate risk (defined as an annual risk of major cardiovascular events of approximately 1%) who do not have vascular disease and who have a systolic blood pressure of less than 160 mm Hg (who represent the majority of middle-aged and older persons) remains less clear. We evaluated this question in the HeartOutcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE)–3 trial. [My emphasis.]

IMHO, 1 percent per year is not a very  high risk. After 20 years, that would give you about a 20% chance of a stroke or cardiac event. Since most women would start to see this elevation in their 60s, they’d be their 80s before they had a one-in-five chance of an incident. No, 20% is not great. One would prefer better odds. But it’s not an extremely high risk, either.

So what does this mean in real life? For practicing physicians and their patients?

At last we are able to cite reliable ball-park figures from a representative population at intermediate risk of cardiovascular disease. They confirm that statins reduce risk by about a quarter, whatever the starting point, whereas for blood pressure lowering below a systolic of 143, this does not appear to be true over 5-6 years. However, it may be that BP lowering has benefits over a longer period of time, particularly for the risk of heart failure. [My emphasis.]

And further:

However, treating those with lower blood pressure with the combination is not justifiable. Only statins should be used for them, [said Dr. Eva Lonn, one of the researchers; my emphasis.]

Statins have fewer side effects than blood-pressure-lowering medications. In the Hope-3 study, many fewer people discontinued them than those who discontinued antihypertensives. Neverthless, these treatments may be associated with one dreaded side effect: “Cognitive decline was noted in all patients. The primary outcome, processing speed (measured by Digit Symbol Substitution Test [DSST] at study end) for rosuvastatin vs. placebo: 29.1 vs. 29.4 (p = 0.38); for BP lowering vs. placebo: 29.1 vs. 29.4 (p = 0.86); for combination vs. placebo: 29.3 vs. 29.9 (p = 0.63). Any functional impairment for rosuvastatin vs. placebo: 57% vs. 59%, p = 0.89; for BP lowering vs. placebo: 59% vs. 56%, p = 0.19.” [My emphasis.] Appears to be about the same for either class of drug…since many of the subjects were in their 70s, this effect could simply be age-related.

So, the new American Heart Association guidelines make these recommendations:

  • Only prescribing medication for Stage I hypertension if a patient has already had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke, or is at high risk of heart attack or stroke based on age, the presence of diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease or calculation of atherosclerotic risk (using the same risk calculator used in evaluating high cholesterol).
  • Recognizing that many people will need two or more types of medications to control their blood pressure, and that people may take their pills more consistently if multiple medications are combined into a single pill.

So if you believe this, I should be on a statin, not on a BP lowering med.  Okay, fine…so what is this stuff I have in this bottle of pills here?

The stuff Cardiodoc prescribed, amlodipine besylate, is a calcium-channel blocker, an antihypertensive. It most commonly gifts you with these fine effects:

Y’know…the last time a cardiodoc inflicted one of these drugs on me, it caused such extravagant vertigo that it became unsafe for me to drive my car. And look at this: it causes palpitations: the very symptom that drove me to seek a doctor in the first place!

We  now have determined that my underlying vertigo complaint probably results from inner-ear congestion, which itself probably results from chronic sinus congestion caused by living with two furry dogs in a climate most richly characterized by airborne dust.

The main negative side effect of statins is cataracts. Most people will get cataracts anyway, should we live long enough. Thus I don’t see that as a deal-killer.

But dizziness that could cause me to fall on the hard tile floors or crash my car? Fatigue, swelling of legs and ankles, heart arrhythmia or palpitations, tremors? Yeah, those are deal-killers, in the present circumstances.

Those circumstances being a) it’s unclear that my blood pressure is high enough to justify treatment with drugs at all; and b) the Powers That Be are now recommending a different class of drugs.

Why is the guy  not following AHA guidelines? Is his knowledge out of date? Has something new been reported that I’m not finding? Unknown…but in the absence of other data, I am very skeptical about taking this stuff. I just do not need to cope with another raft of nasty side effects.

A Different Strategy…or Gaming the BP Monitor?

Interestingly, I learned from a friend that you can push your blood pressure readings down by doing some deep-breathing for about three minutes before the machine is turned on.

The day before yesterday I tried this. I’d just raced in the door from a particularly exasperating drive through a round of frustrating and annoying errands. Before even putting anything away, I instantly attached the BP cuff and ran the machine (you’re supposed to sit quietly without moving or speaking for about five minutes before running a test). The result was blood-curdling: 149/93.

Cripes! I should be dead!

Now I do a series of deep, diaphragmatic breaths, as learned from LaMaze and voice classes. After five minutes of this and another minute of normal breathing, I try again…and get a 19-point drop in blood-pressure reading!

Holy crap!

Well, obviously that’s too bizarre to put much stock in.

Restarting minutes later, though, the Omron (which was just checked against Cardiodoc’s machine) showed three consistent measures in a row of 130/86, 131/89, and 131/89.

That is still 18 points below the height to which driving in Phoenix traffic had just driven my blood pressure.

Ohhhkayyyy…  Let’s try that again after the dust settles. An hour later, the machine produced these results:

120/77, pulse 84
124/72, p. 87
116/72, p. 84
Average of the three readings: 120/74, p. 85

And that, folks, ain’t bad for an old bat who’s pushing 73.

Yesterday, I decided to see what would appear after a 20-minute yoga routine. And what did that elicit?

130/83, p. 87
121/77, p. 87
117/78, p. 87

This, after a full meal, 2½ glasses of wine, and a fistful of chocolate chips. The belly was uncomfortably full…and that should push one’s BP figures up markedly.

So what happens if you test after yoga, on an empty stomach? This morning we have the results, obtained while the dogs were hassling around and I was in a rush to get out of the house for a dental appointment:

117/85, p. 84
117/84, p. 79
113/80, p. 77

Doesn’t look like I’m gonna keel over dead very soon, does it?

So I’m not sure what to make of this.

Is it credible, or is it really just a form of gaming the machine? If you did yoga on a regular basis — at least once a day, or maybe even two or three times a day, would your blood pressure drop into the “mildly elevated” or into the “normal” range and stay there most of the time, barring any enraging events?

That, I do not yet know. Yesterday, when the yoga routine was followed by a whole lot of food, readings remained in the “mildly elevated” region a few hours later: average was 126/83.

Today I was unable to test the status after a round-trip to the dentist’s office, an hour in the chair getting my teeth cleaned, and a side-trip to a grocery store, because the minute I sat down to run the Omron machine, a worker showed up at the front door. That person is still here working on a series of minor maintenance tasks, and so it will be another hour or two before I can see what the story is. By then I probably will have had something to eat, which will skew the results some. I guess.

If eating skews results, are the results real?
If deep breathing skews the results, are the results real?
If a short yoga routine skews the results, are the results real?

Those, in my none-too-humble opinion, are the kinds of question that cast doubt on this whole already doubtful affair.

First, it’s doubtful whether the doctors themselves know whether subjecting middle-aged and elder adults to expensive medication (one jar of this stuff goes for $125!!!) does any good. Some researchers think that for some categories of such adults drugging does no good and so (because of the inevitable side effects) actually does harm. And research has shown that one class of drugs, while it does push the numbers down, does exactly nothing to decrease mortality and morbidity rates.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something to focus on for your meditation: consider the enormity of the profit that can result from putting every aging Baby-Boomer on drugs that cost $125 a bottle.

Who, really, benefits from this?

Still undecided, then, whether to start gulping these pills.

But my sense is, as usual…

When in doubt, don’t.

January 5, 2018
by funny

Life’s Daily Vicissitudes vs. Blood Pressure

Or, we could say, vicissitudes vs. your health…

Okay, so here’s what happened:

1) A friend noticed the post in which I whinged at great length about Cardiodoc and the crazy blood-pressure reading in his office taken, after a nightmare drive down there, by a clerk who didn’t know what she was doing and…oh, hell, on and on and freaking on. She remarked that stress indeed does jack up your blood pressure, and that you can often bring the numbers down by deep-breathing for a few minutes before allowing yourself to be subjected to the test. If you’ve ever taken LaMaze or yoga or voice classes, you know how to do this breathing technique.

2) I think…oh, yeah? That sounds like woo-woo. A brief Google search shows it is not woo-woo and that indeed, a study has been done that shows a five- to ten-minute period of controlled breathing indeed can lower blood pressure numbers. Yea verily, no less an authority than Harvard University reports the results of said study. Indeed, there’s a gadget — which the Mayo approves(!) — that can help with this scheme. Alternatively, silently repeating a mantra about 100 to 150 times will also do the trick. One such mantra is the Ave Maria, in Latin (not the English version), which I can rattle off as easily as my usual mantra, “Quit that damn barking!

3) Izzat so? think I. Okay, let’s test that little fucker. Why ohhhh why do I not believe it? So along about 5:30 in the afternoon, I take the usual series of three readings, one after another, as instructed by the cardiodocs who have harassed…uhm, seen me. Then I try a brief period, about three to five minutes, of deep breathing, the kind I was taught to do in LaMaze classes and then later by a yoga instructor. And… God help us, here are the results:

Got that? Systolic pressure — the one that really counts — dropped from 136 (on the high side of “moderately elevated”) to 129 (on the low side of “moderately elevated”) after just a few minutes of relaxation exercise. That’s seven points. Diastolic, interestingly, rose a point…

4) I think that is batshit crazy and prepare to disregard it. But still: I’m kinda impressed.

5) A night goes by and the next morning SDXB shows up at the door with NG (New Girlfriend). This alone is enough to raise my blood pressure, but, as usual, that’s another story. We go out and walk for an hour or so behind North Mountain. Then we go to a restaurant, where I have a cup of iced tea and they reveal their right-wing tendencies. Which is OK, but…blood-pressure enhancing. On the way, we have been discussing the craziness that is Phoenix-area traffic…and…just as we’re all agreeing that given our choice we would stay off the roads here, the sounds of brakes and a CRASH erupt behind us. The woman behind us has been rear-ended by the chucklehead behind her. By the grace of God, she was far enough behind us to miss rear-ending SDXB’s car. But it was a close call, and it was evident that her passenger was injured. In the Suspicions Confirmed Department: charming.

6) So I am stressed when I get home. Also very hungry. I fix a fairly hefty meal of a couple lamb chops, grilled potatoes, tomatoes, and spinach braised in butter with almonds and pine nuts. And I have two glasses of wine and a fistful of chocolate chips. (Bad!) Then I start to tear around to pick up the backyard, the kitchen, and the house, test the pool, cope with barking dogs, dodge the daily cop helicopter buzz-over, pay the bills and…and…

7) As all this controlled chaos is going on, I think “What would happen if I tried the deep-breathing thing with the BP monitor, right now in the middle of all this hectic racing around?

Hmmm…. As noted in this spreadsheet, I did not wait several minutes to “rest” before running the BP monitor. Between the first and second test, I did about three or four minutes of deep breathing. The second test, interestingly, registered a 10-point drop in systolic pressure; five points for diastolic. Trying again without the fancy breathing maneuver got a rise in PB of four points. That notwithstanding, 125 is within the permissible range for an old bat like me.

Average BPs were 132/80.8 last night and 125.7/81 this afternoon. Last night: after sitting quietly before testing, and including one (1) test with deep breathing. This afternoon: no rest before the first measure but with deep-breathing before the first and second measures; with no deep breathing between the second and third measures.

Normally, if I did not sit and rest before the first measure, my blood pressure would be several points higher. I simply hate, loathe, and despise the blood-pressure test — not because it’s uncomfortable especially, but because it’s a damned time-suck and because it makes me nervous. I just really, really do not enjoy this procedure, whether done at home or in a doctor’s office. It stresses me out every time, and I suspect that alone elevates my blood pressure.

So what is implied here is that deep breathing before the first effort this afternoon, done — against all advice — directly after eating a large meal, after drinking alcohol, and after hassling around physically, probably pushed the first measure down significantly, to 131/80. Since my average blood pressure readings over the entire month of December was 133/83, always taken on an empty stomach and after resting, that is very probably a nontrivial difference. Certainly 121/75 is nontrivial.

What if my belly were not stuffed and I had not just scarfed down two glasses of wine and I had been sitting quietly as usual and then had tried the LaMaze/yoga/chanteuse breathing maneuver?  Welp, we’ll have to wait awhile for that part of the experiment. But…it’s interesting, isn’t it?

By the time I got to Cardiodoc’s office the other day, I was in a rage. I’d encountered two truly crazed drivers, one of whom tried to get me to break the law before doing so himself. I was trying to balance a computer and a blood-pressure machine in my arms when the receptionist shoved a bureaucratic form in my face to fill out — one that I’ve filled out three times already, identically every time — and then demanded that I dig out a bunch of Medicare and insurance cards that she also had photocopied three or four times already in the past and that had not changed. Before I could fill out even half a page of the damned form I was called into the back office, where an apparently oblivious underling took my blood pressure incorrectly — clearly had no training (or if she did, it hadn’t registered in her pea brain…).

So, if stress and annoyance affect your blood pressure — and they most certainly do — then it was not surprising the figures elicited at Cardiodoc’s office were outrageously high.

Do they justify putting me on a medication that will make me sick? Possibly, if the numbers were consistent. But they’re not.

January 4, 2018
by funny

A Few Blessings

Sometimes one despairs of blessings, living in a right-wing flyover state on an income that the feds think of as “poverty” level (it’s not…but that’s another story), where the drivers are crazy and so are the politicians. Some days, though, you just think Thank God.

Thank God for a fine son.

Thank God for friends and online virtual friends.

Thank God for good dogs, good food, and good wine.

Thank God for the choir and the church that supports it.

And thank God we don’t live on the East Coast today.

Thank God for peace and quiet (when you can get it).

Thank God for great coffee and a French press in which to brew it.

Thank God for cacti, a whole swarm of whose new babies will soon be blooming.

Here on Christmas Day, M’hijito tripped over this cactus outside the front side-gate, which is much larger than it appears in that snapshot. He was overflowing with apology, but I assured him it was not a big deal. In fact, it was past time to have cut back that neglected plant.

Eventually I got around to wandering out and picking up the several cactus balls that broke off. This is how cacti reproduce: a chunk breaks off, falls on the ground, and sometime in this century takes root.

w00t! I planted four in the front patio. Can you imagine if they all grow and they all bloom at once? That place is gonna be amazing. Put another couple in the side yard. Planted one in a pot to take to M’hijito’s house. And in the back, I retrieved a pot that had made its way under the lemon tree, where lay an old cactus that I thought had died.

You can’t kill a cactus, you know. Though it had flopped over and broken off at the ground, the bottom was callused and the top part was…still green! No sign of rot. Hmmmm… I have no idea what color it is but suspect it’s one of the deep magenta Easter lily cacti that I brought over from the old house, 14 years ago. Planted it under the overgrown rose on the northwest side of the house, where it should get plenty of light but will have time to adjust to the change of micro-microclimate before the sun turns north and starts to bake that corner.

Yes. The East. They have civilization…we have decent weather. As we scribble, the pooches and I are loafing in the front courtyard. The neighbor’s boy is throwing hoops across the street. Cassie is eating green olives that have fallen out of the tree (the better to barf on the floor!), and Ruby is barking at any sign of a passing neighbor. Yesterday the inversion layer finally lifted and blew out most of the smog. The sky is cerulean blue again, and the trees are rustling softly in a barely moving breeze.

Last night our choir friend who lives in Michigan brought pictures of the snow back home, where she repaired for the holiday. The place was enjoying a serious White Christmas — very picturesque if you don’t have to shovel it. And…that was before the real storm was due to roll in. Fortunately she jumped on a plane back to the Valley of the We Do Mean Sun hours before said monster storm was expected to arrive.

Thank God for Chinese mathematicians and assorted other academics. A fairly large new project is slated to fly in over the transom tomorrow afternoon, at which time I intend to be hiking in the desert. This is from a senior scholar, a lively fellow who seems to have had an interesting career…and is decidedly still kickin’. So I’m looking forward to working on that, the first major job of 2018.

Today is the only day this week I have to myself: SDXB is coming over tomorrow, a meeting on the far side of the West Valley beckons for Saturday, and of course half of Sunday will be consumed by singing. Every other day has been occupied by one activity or another. It’s almost noon and I have done nothing — unless you consider blogging to be something. This afternoon I want to prune that overgrown rose, which has run amok for years. Walk a mile and a half, preferably sans dragging dogs. Loaf some more. Maybe write some more. Download 2017 data from the bank and credit card issuers; organize that stuff for WonderAccountant’s convenience. And cook up a pot of food for the hounds.

And so, away…to another “busy” day of retirement. 😉