Thursday, June 25, 2009

Where Was I?

Counting Stars

This image looks into the heart of the Milky Way. (ESO)

A closer look at the image above. (image - ESO)

There sure are a lot of stars in this tiny section.

I saw the topmost picture in an article somewhere, (Science Digest, I think), and I knew it had come from the ESO website. They recently developed an amazing high speed, low light camera for earth based telescopes. I went to the ESO website,, and spent an enjoyable 30 minutes just moving around in the images.

I am actually not sure how long I roamed the milky way and the night sky of the Chilean observatory because I have been having gaps in my short term memory. At first the things I forgot weren't particularly vexing, but Wednesday morning I was supposed to take a guy to the commodities distribution at 8:00 AM, like I have been doing every month for over a year. I began my day without even the vaguest notion that I was missing an appointment. I took a phone call at 9 from A. J., who let me know I was elected to another term as a board member of the Alano club. It didn't even cross my mind that I was supposed to have picked up a friend an hour earlier.

Just a blank. I went back to sleep and didn't get up until noon. It was when I was making coffee that I noticed the light blinking on the answering machine. When I listened to the message, I realized that I hadn't even had a hint from my mind that I was expected to be anywhere that morning.

I decided I really am going to mark the calendar, (and look at it), to keep track of things. Things like the board meeting on Sunday that I forgot about when we booked the band to play on Sunday. Oops! I have been having gaps in my short term memory. At first the things I forgot weren't particularly vexing....

Counting Blessings

Just a reminder of who is writing this. 6/24/09

Some things are coming together
at a comfortable and timely pace. I had been planning to wean myself off of Tramadol, (pain medication), just to see and feel exactly where I stand when it comes to sensible pain management. I have been using Tramadol daily for 3 years or so, and I wanted to know if this was producing any unknown, (to me), side effects. I already stopped taking ibuprofen a few weeks ago, so I started stopping the Tramadol, too. ( Could this have something to do with my memory loss?)

I found out Tuesday
that I will be getting my hernia repaired this coming Monday. Hooray.


Sundial bridge, Trinity Alps, Sacramento river. 6/24/09

Standing on the edge of the bluff, looking west. 6/24/09

This picture begged to be taken. 6/24/09

How it would look in black and white. 6/24/09

The Eastman Kodak
Company stopped production of the color film that made color photography what it is today.

R. I. P. Kodachrome.

Todays Relatively Appropriate Song;
Kodachrome - Paul Simon


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Well, If You Look At It That Way

It's Not So Complicated

Sunset with crow, on last day of Spring. 6/20/09

I took many pictures of the sunset on the last day of spring. The clouds and colors were a perfect example of the beauty that enfolds me here in Redding. I made a slide show. Then I thought I would make a movie of the slide show, but I feel I have to write and record an appropriate song for this sunset-slide show, movie. I have a piece of music I wrote for a previous sunset, but I feel that this deserves it's own specific haunting melody. I await the muse.

Waiting At The Light

Mt. Shasta from N. Market and Lake Blvd. 6/23/09

Each time I come home from downtown Redding, if I use Market Street, I get to drive across the Sacramento river. Looking west, down the river, past the Sundial Bridge, I can generally see Mt. Lassen in the distance. How nice to have such a beautiful landscape as part of my surroundings. From the river, I drive up the hill on N. Market Street, and just before the crest, Mt. Shasta looms above the roadway. Once I get to the stoplight at Lake Blvd., Shasta has settled down behind the hills and mountains that hold the many arms of Lake Shasta. I love this place.

Putting Things Into Perspective

Looking 25,000 light years into the heart of our galaxy.

The Arches

Close up of the Arches. (ESO images)

There are more than 1000 young, giant stars in this cluster near the center of the Milky Way.

Take a VIDEO voyage into the Milky Way.

Avenue Of The Giants
A child in 1935 pokes out of Redwood knothole.

From the National Archives on You Tube

Watch Video

While I watched and listened to this film from the national archives, they repeatedly spoke about how our California redwood forests would be preserved forever. They clearly didn't foresee the day when Ronald Reagan would try to have them cut down for his lumber company friends. Reagan's answer to the peoples uproar, "If you've seen one redwood, you've seen them all".

The people of California managed to stop the stupidity and we only lost about 1/4 of the magnificent trees. (The, "Ketchup is a vegetable", dimwit was later made president by Karl Rove.)

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
This Land Is Your Land - Woody Guthrie

Thank God

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It Almost Feels Like Summer

Friday Night

The night began with another grand sunset in Redding

Moon Makes Waves In Rings

Saturn's rings are affected by Daphnis. (photo-Cassini)

Daphnis, 8 kilometers ( 5 miles) across, occupies an inclined orbit within the 42-kilometer (26-mile) wide Keeler Gap in Saturn's outer A ring. Recent analyses by imaging scientists published in the Astronomical Journal illustrate how the moon's gravitational pull perturbs the orbits of the particles forming the gap's edge and sculpts the edge into waves having both horizontal and vertical components.

Memories Are Made Like This

The increase in green fluorescence represents the imaging of local translation at synapses during long-term synaptic plasticity. (Credit: Science)

I was going to write a condensed photo caption, but I couldn't top that sentence. "Green blobs are new memories forming", was the best I could come up with.

When a new memory
is formed new proteins are made locally at the synapse - the connection between nerve cells - increasing the strength of the synaptic connection and reinforcing the memory.

Want to know more? Click HERE.

A Brewery In Lake Shasta?

North Star Craft Brewery (Visit Site)

Just today, I found
out about the Noerth Star Craft Brewery, a place with live music and food, right up the road from me. I was looking through my email and there was a thing on there from MySpace, so I checked it out. It was a musician named Kyle Williams. He has figured out how to use MySpace to increase attendance at his gigs.

I checked out his site, and liked what I heard, so I went to see him, at this place I would not have known about, otherwise.

Kyle playing the Chinese folksong, "Tu Ning".

Kyle was accompanied by Jamie, on the bass. The sound was complete and enjoyable. You can check out Kyle's tour schedule, HERE, to see if he will be playing near you.

I was impressed by Kyle's determination and business sense. He managed to book himself a tour that logically goes from town to town. ( I have had reputable agencies book gigs for me that were 700 miles apart.) He recommends the curry chicken if you are eating at the North Star Craft Brewery. The patrons that I observed, seemed to be enjoying the brew, too.

T-shirts and CD's were for sale next to the tip jar.

Kyle Williams

Short clip of Kyle at North Star Craft Brewery

It was a very musical day for me. I listened to a bunch of different radio stations on iTunes, checked out a lot of different artists on You Tube, discussed Thursday's blues jam with John and Bill while they carved out violins at Johns Violin shop, and I found this fun song and video for...

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
Not Fair - Lilly Allen


Thursday, June 18, 2009

When the Muse Beckons

The Band Plays On

Rehearsing in Mark's garage. 6/17/09

We rehearsed yesterday.
There were a couple of things to tighten up, and we learned another of my songs, "Do You Get It?". I like how things are developing.

Our popularity and value are right on track with our growth. I love this place.

My life is filled with rainbows, right here in Redding.

News From My Brother

Jerry sent this picture in an email.

Actually, the dust storm continues to make interesting sepia tone photos of his surroundings in Iraq.

True Grit

Jerry in the beautiful Iraqi countryside. 6/17/09

I cant tell whether
he has put on a few extra pounds, or if that is just the wind puffing out his shirt. I am beginning to understand why the indigenous people of Iraq came up with a religion that has them inside praying 5 times a day. Clearly, when in Iraq, one figures that Paradise is elsewhere.

Meanwhile, in Scotland

Local wildlife, grazing on the hill. (photo-Paul Thomas)

Papa Paul Thomas sent me an email with pictures of the beautiful Glasgow countryside just outside his cottage. If I had to choose between Iraq and Scotland?....

Paul and I have co-written songs and added parts to recordings by way of MP3 and email. Oddly enough, he has a blues band that has been developing at the same time as mine. It's a little spooky if you aren't comfortable with the parallel universe theory, but to some of us, it's no stretch of the imagination.

Paul writes; "The blues band in this aspect of your own parallel universe is close to debut - August 20th - in the SoLow Blues bar, Dumfries, Scotland."

If any of you
are out that way, stop by and give a listen to Paul's band.

Grandpa Elliott

New Orleans street musician, Grandpa Elliot.

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
"Fannie Mae" by Grandpa Elliott

Sometimes a song from a street singer is just enough to make us enjoy our day and carry on with life a little better than before. One song at a time.
-Mark Johnson (

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Life Is Heavenly

Acts Of Kindness

My brother, Jerry in an Iraqi rain-dust-mud storm.

I got an email from my brother in Iraq. He writes;

We had this storm today. It was 120 degrees and in 30 minutes it had changed to 94 degrees and the dust was blowing so hard that you could not open your eyes. I still have grit in my teeth from three hours ago.

It only lasted for about 15 minutes and then it was gone.

Lightning Here

Jellies Love The Dead Zone

Jelly fish are thriving in the Dead Zones we have created with our pollution. The worlds oceans are now teaming with jellyfish like never before. As we have over fished, or killed off the fish population with nitrogen fertilizer runoff, the jellies have moved in. What I find interesting about jellies is their ability to shrink when food is limited. I wonder if that would work for Oprah.

I Think I would Like A Straw House

One of the oldest recorded straw bale buildings was a one-room schoolhouse built in 1896 or 1897. Cows ate the school in 1902 because the walls weren't plastered. However, once the settlers started to apply plaster to the walls, they found that these temporary houses could keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The homes could withstand the high winds of the Nebraska prairie, and they were quiet as well. Historians investigating the Sandhills homes spoke with one woman who recalled her parents playing cards in their straw bale house, oblivious to the tornado raging outside [source: Hammett].

Consciousness Behind All Things

Auto A/C repairman Phil

Some of you may recall the book Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I just remembered it as I began to write this piece about the serenity and contentment I felt, after locating the problem with the passenger side air conditioning in the Buick, and fixing the problem. I feel my happiness was the result of a combination; "Pay attention and learn", and, "Visualize a successful conclusion", attitude. I read a number of Google results for, "1995 Buick passenger side A/C blows heat", and when all conditions were right, proceeded to direct the flow as it was meant to be.

How I Respect All of God's Creations, and Still Eat Them.

Respect and appreciation for existence in this universe begins with me. I respect my conscious and spiritual presence. By focusing on God's glorious manifestations, I fill my senses with positive and beautiful images and feelings. I try to feed my body and soul, with things that promote health and happiness.

Eating a Piece of Dead Cow?

Over the years I have become
aware of how the things I eat affect my health and well being. An occasional steak boosts my virility and tends to produce a prodigious amount of vivid dreams for a night or two. It achieves a positive effect if I limit my intake to one steak dinner every couple of months or so. If I eat it more often, it loses it's pleasant affects.

By making my steak dinner a special occasion, I am more aware of the quality of steak that produces the best results. The best being from a free range, natural grazing, hormone-antibiotic free, happy cow. The worst being from a corporate meat factory. Those cows are sick. They are fed corn, chemicals, and even cow brains. That kind of beef does not taste good, or produce the good results I seek.

I like vegetables with or without a side of meat. One modern convenience that makes steamed vegetables a snap, is the chopped veggies in a bag from the produce section. You can poke a little hole in the bag, toss it in the microwave for 3 1/2 min. and empty the bag on a plate, (I like the stir fry mix best).

I feed my soul with gratitude
and respect for all the gifts that God has provided me. I use my intellect and talent with diligence, dedication, and appreciation. I learn new ways to enjoy and express my experiences through music and intellectual pursuits. I am happy and enlightened.

Holy Crap!

I encountered a person the other day that epitomizes the antithesis of happiness and enlightenment. It was shocking to see just how a stubbornly wrong person can become aggressive and hostile when they encounter something beyond their understanding. I was shaken by the bad energy radiating from this misinformed simpleton.

It was my mistake, I shouldn't have made eye contact. I should have just accepted his Jesus pamphlet and kept on moving. However, I answered when he asked if I had found the light of our lord Jesus, or whatever weird interpretation of John and Revelations these dullards are taught. I said, "I live in the light." That answer seemed to confuse and anger this dimwit. He became loud and started following me, while shouting some sort of crazy stuff about the day of judgment and how he was going to Heaven and I was going to burn in Hell for eternity.

I sure didn't want to be in whatever Heaven this guy was going to. I didn't tell him that, but I did softly suggest that he make sure he was taking his medications properly.

I guess what bothered me was that someone put that crap in his head and it made his life Hell on earth. He was as ignorant and misled as a suicide bomber. (They are illiterate and easily manipulated, too.) So I am thinking that one of the causes of unhappiness and bad behavior on God's green earth, is intentionally misinterpreted scripture, spewed from the mouths of Preachers, Rabbis, and Imams, to those legions of illiterates who don't know how to read the Holy books they, "quote", to justify their unacceptable acts.

For now, my path is clear;
Avoid eye contact, take the pamphlet, say nothing and stay in the joyful light of God's illumination.

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
The Sunny Side Of The Street - Louis Armstrong

Love Thy Neighbor

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Is It A Good Idea To Mix?

Different Operating Systems

Begin With Breakfast

I feel good about eating Natures Path cereals.

Today, I thought
I might try to get my HDTV working properly with my Macbook, again. It has looked like, ****, ever since the last software update from Apple.

I've been a little put off
by all the Windows type stuff that Apple has been including in it's software. So much so, that a year ago, I stopped upgrading my older iMac and removed Safari, (Apple's browser), because they included stuff for Windows. I knew that Windows meant trouble, and those people who installed the upgrade on their Macs have been installing patches and fixes ever since.

My Podcasting Studio. 6/14/09

However, I now have this fancy new Macbook, that I really enjoy using, and since it uses the Leopard operating system, I figure I should do the updates when they send them, after all, it's still Apple, right?

One of the reasons I got a Macbook was the ability to hook it up to HDTV with and adaptor and HDMI cable. This creates a large high definition display from my laptop. I enjoyed watching movies and TV from the internet, and it provided a large monitor for editing photo's and video's. Great stuff, until the last update from Apple. Most of the update was related to security measures, ( We get a lot of those now that iTunes, Safari, and other programs have become part of Windows.), and very little of the update had much to do with my computer, but I installed it anyhow. BIG MISTAKE! (My fault for being impatient. I should have waited, and read the reports, first.)

Sundial Bridge with Cell Phone Cam. 6/13/09

I would not take a laptop running Windows if it was given to me. I actually had to say, "No thanks", when a neighbor wanted to give me his relatively new Toshiba laptop. I considered taking it and giving it to one of my friends who have been looking for a laptop, but I wouldn't wish a Windows machine on anyone. Today was the perfect example. I spent 4 hours fiddling with software stuff instead of using my computer. That's what would be happening everyday with Windows! There is always an update, a virus scan, and dozens of other things that must be done before you can use the computer. Phooey!

Same photo after using Picturesque. 6/14/09

My impatience cost me a good part of the day. I read a thread on a forum that was about the very problem that came with the software update, people using HDMI for their displays, all were getting a crummy picture. They were trying many ways to fix the problem with no results. Finally, someone found a program that allowed you to reset the resolution information for your display. They said it wasn't perfect, but that it was an improvement until Apple sent a fix in a week or two.

I decided to give it a try.

I had had some luck with finding and installing a program that re-formats video, so I figured, "How hard can it be"?

It wasn't hard, but, after several tries and restarts, I still couldn't get the results I wanted, so I attempted to get things back to where they were.

In the end, it took
me an additional amount of time to uninstall the 3rd party software that was supposed to help change the resolution settings. I was reminded why I wouldn't even have a computer if I had to use a PC or Laptop running the Windows operating system. I finally have restored the color and look of my Mac to it's original settings, and that's the last of the time I intend to waste fiddling and diddling with computer adjustments. I will go the the Apple site that describes just what is in the update, before I update ever again. Even then, I will wait a month or two to see if there were any problems before installing anything new!

Sacramento River using Cell Phone Cam. 6/13/09

I suppose it's good for the company to sell Mac's to PC people. Fixing stuff on their PC's makes them feel all warm and fuzzy. My older, iMac behaves like a Mac is supposed to; It Just Works.

I still recommend a Macintosh computer to everyone. There is no comparison. Windows is a poor imitation of OSX and is plagued with annoying problems.

I am so used to not having any problems with my computers, that when I do, I get frightened and upset. I don't expect bugs in my Apple!

Same picture after using Picasa editor. 6/14/09

I didn't throw my laptop off the balcony, ( It did cross my mind when things didn't do what they were supposed to), and, once I got things looking good again, (the resolution fixer program added a blue tint that was a bit troublesome to get rid of even after I uninstalled it) , I am enjoying the great things I like to do on my Macbook, once more.

What you see in these pictures is worth a 1,000 words about how much fun I have with my Mac.

Google chatting with Garie. 6/14/09

My sincerest sympathy to my many readers who, for one reason or another, are reading this on a PC, or laptop running windows. I also want to apologize to those of you who never get to see and hear the, "Today's Relatively Appropriate Song". I just today, learned that you have to sign up to You Tube, (free), to see and hear this feature at the end of my blogs. I will try something else as soon as I figure out just what that would be.

It has been a beautiful day, here in Redding. 6/14/09

For those of you who do click the link and get the song/video,
here is...

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree - Andrews Sisters

Breathe Deep and Slowly

Friday, June 12, 2009

What A Treat


What a treat.
Tonight we got an unexpected, extra impressive display of lightning and thunder.

I tried an experiment with iMovie and the iSight camera on the laptop. The storm was really intense for about 30 minutes, so I had the movie rolling. It's hard to tell if I got anything, because I had the lights out.

Chopping cherries

There was a strike very close, about 10minutes into the recording.

Add sliced banana

That should be easy to find
in the dark thumbnails. It struck within a few yards of the apartment window. The flash was very bright.

Add some blueberries

First there was a pop like a firecracker, then an explosive crack that shook the building, accompanying the blinding light. Then, kaboom, followed by a peal of thunder that rumbled around and away into the distance.

Put the fruit on top of some ice cream

The storm actually raged on for about twenty, action packed, minutes. Flashing skies, cracks, booms and rumbles, on top of the drumming of a torrential downpour.

Top with whipped cream and serve

Even now, as I write this, the thunder continues to amaze and entertain with many varieties of reverberating, rumbling, melodies.
Heavens wondrous music reaches to my very soul.

I will see if I got a good recording of what I have been enjoying, tomorrow. There is still enough storm left to lull me to sleep as it moves off toward Mount Shasta.

Oh yeah, the ice cream Sundae was great.

Tonight's Relatively Appropriate Song;

I Love A Rainy Night - Eddie Rabbit

I love this place. I am blessed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Precipitation On The Precipice

How's The Weather?

Raindrops from my balcony. 6/9/09

From an email I sent this morning;
The rain last night was great. I got a chance to enjoy my apartment the way I intended. I turned on my little TV light, put in a DVD, (Spiderwick Chronicles), and watched while listening to the rain outside. It was 2 in the morning, but, hey, it's my place and I can do what I want.

The little TV lamp that created the perfect ambience.

What a revelation. I have my place set up to be the kind of place I would enjoy living in, and I actually used it.

There have been many
places over the years, that contained stuff I didn't actually use, or need. I would usually let someone else do the decor. One time, in Houston, I simply gave the keys to a decorator, and left town for a few days while he transformed my townhouse. It had a swimming pool I never used. I barely remember the place.

More Than One Of Me

Fun with a little program called photo booth.

Last night I was doing some redecorating on, and I had a chance to write in my blog while I was there. It is different than this one.
Check it out, HERE.

Modern Convenience

At least you don't have to crank the wringer.

Garie sent me
an email today that had a link to a page of nostalgia. HERE

I went there and saw a few pictures that got me to thinking...

We Forgot How To Save $

Everybody saved green stamps in the 1950's

When I read the little card that the lady with freckles and claws is holding, I realized that we are responsible for our economy. The card asks the question, "What is economy for you?" We were taught to stay within our budget and to find ways to stretch our dollars when I grew up in the 50's and 60's. It's time to return to basic economics in our lives. Too many of us drank champagne on a beer income and blame everybody but ourselves for the present financial predicament. Just stop it!

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;

Gettin' There - Mose Allison

Be Thankful For What You've Got