Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

Hang out with the old preacher by browsing my blogs.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Before texting

In the really old days many things were different. No one today ever heard of ration stamps, but when I was a kid and I found meat ration stamps on the market floor it was a happier event than finding a five dollar bill! During the second world war, common citizens of the USA were limited as to what they could buy of many commodities. Every car had a block letter decal in the lower right (or was it left?) corner of the windshield. Most of us had an "A" card, and were limited to fewer ration stamps than many others. When gas was purchased we not only paid money, but had to prove that we were allowed to buy that much gas by giving the station attendant the requisite amount of ration stamps from our book as well. Few people complained very loudly about it, because we felt a camaraderie in patriotism. We were all pulling together to defeat the enemy.

When we kids wanted to make contact with our friends, we seldom used the telephone. In fact we didn't even knock or ring the doorbell. And, of course, this was long before cell phones and texting were even a dream. Kids spent the Summer outside. After breakfast and chores we left the house and often didn't appear again until late afternoon. Mom insisted that I come home before dark, as did the parents of most of my friends. When I left the house I would walk (sometimes ride my bicycle) to my friend's house and stand on his lawn and call his name. "Jimmyyyyyy....Jimmyyyyyy...." Until he came to the porch and told me he had chores to do, or he would come out to play with me. I dare say there are few people who remember the days when we would "call" for friends.

I remember the day we got the "gang" together (we were not really a gang in any modern sense of the word) and decided to play over-the-line. Now over-the-line is a variety of softball that can be played by just a few guys on each team. Frequently we were as few as three guys on each team. One would play shortstop, one would play left field and the third one would be rover, or play third base. The batter would be required to place the ball "over-the-line" between second and third base to be credited with a base hit. If you could drive it over the head of the fielder it was a home run. If the ground ball was cleanly handled by the infielder it was an out, or a double play (if there was an imaginary man on first). Of course a caught ball was also an out. We played that many a day. The time I recall, however, was a holiday of some sort and the grade school playground was closed. We simply climbed the chain link fence and played our game. When lunch time came, we were more thirsty than hungry so we climbed the fence and walked to the local store where we bought quarts (not liters) of soda. I remember up-ending a quart of grapefruit soda and feeling quite content when I finished. We all returned to the school where we climbed the fence again and played until we needed to report home before dark.

Now those were the good old days!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Buying and selling houses

We are in the midst of a serious recession. I guess we all know that, but some of us are in a position to experience the effects more than others. Just try to sell your house now. We followed the advice of our real estate agent and asked $429,900 for our house. We had it sold in less than 6 days! We didn't even have to hold an open house or place an ad in the paper. As soon as it was listed we had people knocking on the door or calling on the phone. They came in the midst of a rain storm to see the house. Someone offered us considerably less than that, so we came down to $420K and they agreed. We had a sale! Or so we thought. When the appraiser came, he said our house was only worth $375K. Since it was an FHA loan they were obtaining, they were not allowed to pay any more than that. There are other considerations, however, and so there is negotiating room, and we agreed on a sale--finally!

But the city of Carson requires a city inspector to give the house clearance before we can close escrow. This is the city's way of sticking it to any citizens who may have improved their property without paying the city for a permit. We had a beautiful grape arbor over a cement patio outside our living room sliding door. I deliberately built it free standing so it would not be an attachment to the house because I knew this would require a building permit. Come to find out that if it is not attached, then it must be at least 6 feet away from the building! Our hot tub in the cramped space of the back yard was not 6 feet away from the building, and because of the lack of space, could not ever be 6 feet away! Both of these luxuries had to go. Our loving son, Bobby, took time from his busy schedule and flew out here from Memphis to help us comply with these Nazi rules of our beloved city. All the time he was tearing out the arbor I was resenting the fact that the city could be so hard nosed about this when it's corrupt government has not one, but two former mayors in jail! The current administration is so childish and petty in their in-fighting that we are the laughing stock of the local newspaper.

We rented a dumpster, filled it with the debris from this and the garage workbench that also was condemned. The plumber who came to strap our water heater to the wall and properly affix the drain, admired our hot tub, so we gave it to him. Today the city inspector approved the property--even without greasing her palm! So one more hurdle is cleared. Sometimes I wonder if we will live to relax in our new quarters. We are buying the home of our daughter and son-in-law in the city of Lakewood, and they already bought a home in Havasu City, AZ on the brink of retirement. Exciting times are these, but at our age we cherish good old boring evenings at home.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Diet: week 9

By some remote possibility there may be one or two readers who remember when I first started with Optifast, Kaiser's industrial strength weight loss program. I was disappointed my first week because I had only lost 5 pounds while everyone else in the class lost more. Then I became reconciled to the idea of losing 5 pounds a week, which, over the long haul of the 20 week diet, would net me an even 100 pound loss.

I prepared myself for the predicted slow down of weight loss as the body adjusted and I came nearer my goal. But I was not adequately prepared for last night when I gained 2 pounds over last week! Where did that come from? I have kept to the program (pardon the expression) religiously. I have eaten all my shakes. I have consumed all my water. I have even increased my exercise, and I get paid by gaining two more pounds.

I don't know what to do. I may have begun to think of this program as something "magical" which would guarantee me the results I want, but I know that God has made a complicated organism when he made the human body. It's a fallen world and so everything does not work quite right.

Maybe my Father in heaven saw pride beginning to grow in my heart. "Look at this reformed fatso as he loses tons of weight." The only thing I hear myself telling me is, "This is a whole lot better than anything else you have tried, so keep on keeping on."

Not terribly profound, but that is where I am just now.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Great Ladder Event

If she had her way, my wife would probably like our house to be a Christmas showcase every year, with electric bills that blow away our budget for three months. She restrains herself, and only a few lights around the windows upstairs seemed to please her. I was intending to please her, for that is my calling in life, so I chose the extension ladder to gain access to the roof of our garage. From there the windows we had in mind are in easy reach.

Now this ladder has little footings with rubber soles. Perhaps I should say it has little feet with rubber soles. These are swivel mounted surfaces with treaded rubber to make gripping contact with the ground. I carefully set the ladder on these feet and leaned it against the garage roof with the extension partially deployed. Great! All is set for a safe and easy mount of the roof. I slowly climbed each rung and was contemplating just exactly how I would transition to the roof once I arrived at that point. I like to visualize a project so that I can see in my mind's eye how I am going to handle a problem.

Just as I reached the roof, these "planted" feet began to slip. Maybe there was a little gravel or sand on the driveway that sabotaged the sturdiness of the ladder. My mind began to fumble for a solution, as the ladder continued to slip. "Perhaps I can grab hold of the edge of the roof, and support my weight there." All this time the ladder is slipping at a steadily increasing speed. Now I will not say that my life passed before my eyes. But what did happen, happened in slow motion.

My visualization shifted into a scenario of me falling to the pavement with my legs awkwardly tangled in the rung of the ladder. I could see myself striking the ground and breaking my femur with the jagged bone protruding from my trousers. Suddenly I realized I actually was on my way down. And sure enough I landed on the ladder with a loud crash, but my leg was not tangled and not broken. In fact after I caught my breath, I realized that I was not injured at all. A young man who was driving by at that very moment, however, put his car in reverse and called to me, "Hey mister, are you all right?" I assured him that I was. Then my wife appeared from inside the house. It seems that the noise was loud enough that she was concerned. I was glad to leave the broken bones to my sledding past.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The rest of the story

When my wife read the last post, she said that I should tell the rest of the story. Yes, there is more to the story, but I thought you were already bored and decided to quit at that point. So here I was with a broken collar bone--in two places, by the way--on New Years Eve. My daughter had girlfriends in the house for a sleepover. My youngest son, Jonathan, was breaking out with chicken pox. Well as God directs providentially, Barbara's parents were about to pay us a visit from Montana. Barbara's father, Russell Piper, was ordained to the ministry in the OPC about 1937. So when they arrived the next day, they were greeted by their daughter at the front door, who announced, "Hi, Daddy. By the way you will be preaching tomorrow."

Meanwhile every time I tried to rise from my bed I experienced sharp pains in my back as though I had pulled muscles or something. It felt good to lie down. I was even reasonably comfortable sitting in a chair with a straight back. But when I would lie down, and get up, ouch! It felt like someone was tearing my back out. I called our family doctor, and he ordered x-rays to see what was the trouble. Someone "read" the pictures to him over the phone, and he immediately called me and said that I should report to the hospital again. It seems that when they originally took pictures of my collar bone, they didn't look far enough, for I had also broken 4 ribs which were displaced by about a half inch. In fact my doctor pushed the panic button because he thought one of my ribs may have punctured a lung. Further examination determined that was not the case, but at least now I had a reasonable explanation of my killer pains. Apparently when I hit the wall of ice with my sled, I must have conked my head and broken my collar bone and displaced those ribs all on the same side. I guess I really needed all that Demerol after all.

By the way, here is a good place for me to testify to the wonder woman qualities of my wife. Little things will get her down. If I raise my voice to her she will cry and I will ruin her whole day. (Maybe that's not so little.) Poverty got her down. A husband who was more often gone than home when she needed me, that was a bummer. She was a trooper through all that. But when crisis struck our lives, she always transformed into wonder woman. I know of few people who can rise to the occasion the way she can. God has wonderfully blessed me with this dear girl for a life companion. She does me good and not evil all the days of our lives together. (Proverbs 31:12)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Last Sledride

I used to appoint myself leader of the youth group in the churches I have served. I have always enjoyed teenagers, and in the cases where I have had some success they seemed to accept me almost as one of them. There is an important line that one should not cross. One loses all ability to actually lead the group when you become just another chum. Adults who wish to be good parents for their teens often make this mistake. When you know how to play with the kids, and yet maintain their respect as the authority figure, that balance yields the greatest success I have experienced.

So here I was, the leader of a group of teens at a mountain cabin at a ski resort in northern California. I was the owner of the belly sled, and it was my responsibility to make sure the hill we had chosen was good for sledding and yet safe. So, of course, I demanded to go down first. Now you must be told that this was first thing in the morning and there was a lot of snow. But the secret that had escaped my notice is that this snow had been slushy the night before, and now with overnight freeze all that slush had become ice. To complicate matters a bit, it seems that someone had been tobogganing the night before our arrival, and left toboggan shaped curls in the slushy snow. Now those curls were sheer ice. Oh yeah, one more complication is the fact that the run was curved just enough so I did not see these walls of sheer ice until I reached breakneck speed and turned the corner.

The last thing I remembered was asking myself the question, "Can I maneuver the sled between those trees and those walls of ice?" Later the kids told me that I looked like Evel Knievel flying over the wall of ice with snow flying everywhere. I certainly do not remember that. The next thing I remember was waking up lying flat on my back with these young faces looking down at me. Someone asked, "Are you alright Mr. Keller?" But I could only answer honestly and with harsh breathy voice, "I don't know." Well in due time the kids helped me to my feet, and I was hurting but stunned by shock. One thing I knew immediately: my collarbone was broken. It felt as though my shoulder and arm were about to slide right off my body to the ground. My son, Calvin, flagged down a passing car, and we rode to the local first aid station. I deduced that the bossy nurse that ran the place dispensed medicine as she saw fit, and the visiting Doctor would approve her actions when he came around to her station. At any rate she gave me a shot of Demerol, and told me that I should come back for a second shot when my wife arrived to take me home.

By the time I had the second shot of Demerol I guarantee I was feeling no pain. In fact I scared Barbara all the way home because I kept falling asleep, and she kept waking me for fear that I had a concussion and might slip into a coma.

When we arrived at the hospital in Modesto, they asked me in the ER what was wrong with me. I told them that I had broken my collar bone. They x-rayed my collar bone and confirmed my report. I was fitted with a brace and given a prescription for codeine. When I protested that I really did not need the codeine, the nurse simply asked, "How many shots of Demerol did you say you had?" I said, "Two." She said, "You'd better get the prescription filled." Now I neglected to tell you that this happened on New Year's Eve, which happens to be my daughter's birthday. She had friends over for a sleepover that night. And if my poor wife did not have her hands full enough, our youngest son, Jonathan, broke out with chicken pox that night.

One of the most memorable things that happened, however, was that every one of my elders came over to the house to see how I was, and we all prayed in the new year together. They were dear brothers. After we had said goodnight to the last of them, I had to admit that I was beginning to hurt rather dramatically. I was glad the nurse insisted that I fill my prescription.

Third Base Slide

"Oh, he slud into third and was throwed out!" Dizzy Dean was quoted from his play by play calling of a St. Louis Cardinals game. When the school children began imitating their favorite baseball announcer in school, reps from the PTA complained to the radio station. Dizzy was fired, but only for a short while. It seems the fans raised such a stink that the radio station felt more people were offended by the firing than by the hiring of ol Diz.

Well I was reminded of that fun piece of trivia simply because I thought I would relay the experience I had when I slud into third and was throwed out. Back about 1986 or '87 Faith Presbyterian Church in Long Beach had a team in the church slow pitch softball league. When they held practice they used to let a few of us from Grace Church, Carson, join them. We would often play a game of workup, or just choose up teams and play a game for practice. Bob Lee and I would usually join them. Once we had David Moore, a very dear and long time friend of mine, visiting us as a missionary on furlough. He liked softball too.

I was at bat, and both David and Bob were on the team in the field. David was playing third base and Bob was in left field. I whacked the ball between fielders and began to round the bases. As I rounded second base I could see Bob Lee pick up the ball and prepare to throw to third. But, hey, it was just a practice game and so why not be daring? So I dashed for third. I determined that Bob had to make a good throw and David had to make a clean catch of the ball and then tag me before I would be out. I decided to test their skills. I thought I would pull a slick fall away slide, where I slide away from the baseman, leaving my right leg behind me to catch the edge of the base with my foot. Yeah, I thought, I bet I can avoid his tag.

Well the throw came to David when I was about two thirds of the way there so I went into my dramatic slide, but my cleats caught in the grass and my left leg stopped short while the rest of my body kept going. I rolled over my knee, twisting it as I went and stopped several feet short of third base. David, my old friend, looked down at me and said, "Rol, whata ya think you're doing, you're not 18 any more." But I was writhing in pain by this time, so the insult didn't hurt until much later. They had to help me off the field. I walked with crutches for a week after that. Oh yeah, that was a memorable day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


When you're 20 and you slip and fall, you jump right back up and go about your business. You don't report it to your friends because it is more embarrassing than it is painful. But when you are 75 and you slip and fall, that is a major event! Of course my point is: that is what happened to me Monday. The copious rain that we are receiving this El Nino winter has made mud of all the dirt places around the house. When I took out the trash I slipped on one of those places and went down hard and fast. I stayed there on my hands and knees for a full minute or more, realizing that I have not broken any major bones, and there was no place where the blood was pulsing out. So I awkwardly dragged myself up to my feet, completed my task, and came into the house to change my clothes and wash my hands. Only then did I discover that I had scraped my forearm, and it was bleeding. In fact I later discovered a blood smear on our white front door. As I washed my wound I discovered that there was a rather pronounced lump near by elbow. It didn't really hurt, but it looked like the lump on the head of a cartoon character after he is hit over the head with a baseball bat. Since I had a med check with my diet program that night, I asked the doctor about it and she said it was a hematoma and would probably be okay. What all that trauma did do, however, was raise my blood pressure. They could not get a healthy number to report to the computer that night. In four different tries the lowest number was a 145. I generally run 125 or so in the systolic. She said it was probably due to the fall I had taken (it occurred only an hour or so before my check in). Since then I have found my BP to be back to the 120s or 130s.

This reminds me of a few other injury stories, but that's for other posts.

Diet: week 8

There's a little camaraderie developing in my Optifast group meetings on Monday nights. I am now known as the five pound schedule man. A woman in the group is taking steroids for a medical problem, and she is afraid that will make her gain weight, so she does not drink all her shakes, thinking this will give her less calories and counteract the steroids. She simply maintained this week, and the instructor gently got on her case to stay on the program and drink all the shakes. There is a guy who must have weight well over three hundred pounds when we started. He has lost something in excess of 60 pounds, but has slowed his pace because the doctor said it was not good for his heart. They freely talk about food fantasies, constipation, pigging out and all kinds of stuff.

I lost another five pounds and our instructor finds that funny (along with the applause, of course). I have lost almost 35 pounds. That not only averages five pounds a week, but that is almost exactly what I report each week. I mean it's not seven pounds this week and three the next. It's almost always five pounds. If you are a faithful reader (do I have any?) you will know that my first week I was bitterly disappointed because I only lost five pounds when everyone else lost more. Now I am satisfied with my pace--as long as it continues on schedule. At week 13 we begin transition to real food, gradually. So we are halfway there. At this rate I should be down 60 pounds by that time, and I think I will be happy with that progress.

Of course all this is only a passing fad if I do not learn how to develop healthy dining habit for the remainder of my feeble life. I wish my glucose were down more than it is. I read 150-160 every morning, and that is a bit too high. The remainder of the day it seems to come back to more healthy numbers. The doctor says that I should keep monitoring it because as I lose more weight it ought to come down. This is really one of my goals for this diet: to rid myself of the diabetes pills.

My sweet wife is not only cheering me on (she regularly brags about me on Facebook), but she helps me. The only way I can enjoy anything like variety in my diet is with sugar free flavorings. She has scoured every store that sells Torani brand and brought home a plethora of flavors for me. Oh, by the way, Barbara has lost 5 pounds too because we do not eat big meals together. I still enjoy fixing delicious food for her, but she doesn't often let me to that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cruel Kids

Kids can be very cruel. But the cruelty is multiplied when peer pressure causes one person's cruelty to be supported by a group of children--or even a whole class. I have often wished I could contact Belma Jean King so I could offer my personal apologies for the way we treated her in the 6th grade. The party line declared that she had "cooties" and everyone should stay away from her. Even when we were on the stairs when our class orderly walked down the stairs with the boys holding the banister on one side and the girls on the other. The boy who found himself on the same step as Belma Jean quickly pulled out of line and went to the end of the line. This continued until the teacher called a halt or someone defied the dictates of herd behavior. I pride myself in once doing that. Once! Most of the time I was afraid to act contrary to the dictates of our corrupt group mentality. I wonder if Belma Jean fared any better in Junior High than she did in sixth grade. Maybe she left all that ugliness behind, and maybe she had a normal life after that. Or maybe she has had a dysfunctional life and spent a lot of time on the couch of some shrink. At any rate since I have grown up, and since I was born again, I have thought of Belma Jean King, and felt much guilt in the way she was treated. I have even googled her name and looked for our grammar school records to see if I might make contact all in vain.

I'm thinking that in some ways our sixth grade class was a microcosm of society. The same kind of cruel prejudices are at work among us as adults too. The first black family to move into your neighborhood, for example. Maybe the Arabian guy who gets on your bus is immediately profiled by people who remember 911. Then there is the Mexican day laborer that we assume is an illegal. We go out of our way to avoid certain people or worse yet say hurtful things about them behind their back.

Belma Jean, if by some extraordinary providence you are reading this, please forgive my cruel behavior back at Rockdale Elementary School.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Michael Horton's cold war antics

The brilliant and prolific theologian, Mike Horton, was to Barbara and me, just a baby-faced kid who roomed with our son his first year at Westminster. He was very ambitious even then, and was the first (maybe still the only) undergraduate at BIOLA University to be a published author. I remember when the BIOLA hour featured Mike and made that boast over the radio. The joke was that Mike's undergraduate publication was, "Mission Accomplished" in which he shows from scripture how Christ's work on the cross had to be a definite atonement. But since the university is (on its best days) but a 4 point Calvinist institution, they never talked about the content of this book of which they were boasting.

We saw Mike the other night at Westminster Seminary's 30th anniversary dinner. It reminded me of my favorite Mike Horton story. Years ago he was attending a Christian conference in West Berlin, and when the schedule allowed him several free hours, he took a ride on a German train. Unfortunately he nodded off, and when he awoke, he saw this big wall going by his window. He turned to the couple in his compartment and asked if they were now in East Berlin. A look of horror and wide eyed emotion greeted him as the couple quickly left the compartment. A short time later he was greeted by East German policemen who then escorted him off the train and to the precinct for questioning. They dumped his briefcase on the table, and out came several Christian books along with the papers and writing utensils. After thorough interrogation in which he continued to tell them his story of how he happened to find himself in East Berlin, they seemed to believe him. They informed him to present himself here at the precinct at 4 p.m. if he ever wanted to return to West Berlin again. Mike says he made it a point to be there at 3 just to make sure.

In the meantime he was free to roam the city, and being hungry, looked for a place to dine. Mike told us that hotel dining room protocol called for the newcomer to sit next to the last person seated at a long table. So he joined the group he found so seated. The man across the table from him noticed his ethnic contrast to the local milieu. "Are you English?" he asked. Mike: "No, I am an American." The man proceded to challenge this American with the crime of being a capitalist. Rather than trying to defend his country from the charge of greed as the motivator of capitalism, Mike simply corrected the man by saying, "No, I'm not really a capitalist. I am a Christian." This bold declaration was greeted with howls of laughter after which the man said, "You must be the only Christian here at this meeting of the Communist Party."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

First grandchild

Stacy was my first grandchild, and that was special for me. She still is special for me. In fact all my grandchildren are special for me, so why did I have to say that. I'm just a pushover for spoiling, and they all know it. In fact Jim, my son in law, bought us a little sign to post just outside our front door that says, "Grandma and Grandpa's house. Children spoiled while you wait." My contention is that loving them and giving them undivided attention is not spoiling. Spoiling is when you let them have their own way after you have said "No" just because they wear you down by whining or tantrum or some other effective manipulation. That is spoiling.

It was Stacy who I have in mind today. When we had a family gathering at the park across the street from our house, Stacy was fighting with someone else's toddler about possession of a big wheel tricycle. I told her to let the little boy ride it because we must share. A little later that day, Stacy grabbed the soda can out of my hand and started to drink. When I looked with consternation, she simply said, "Share." Some lessons they learn quickly--at least on their terms.

This is the girl who had difficulty speaking in sentences. She would give me all the essential words, but pause at length between each of those words. When her mother was pregnant with sister Suzie, Donna would bring Stacy to our house to stay while she went for her doctor appointments. Stacy, suffering separation anxiety, would ask in her simple fashion, "" And we would acknowledge that yes her mommy did in fact go to the doctor to check the baby. Well, the day finally came when Donna was headed to the hospital to deliver. But after she dropped off Stacy, she went into her routine question: "" But this time I said, "No Stacy. This time the baby is going to come out." Wide eyed and incredulous she said, "Baby...out?" Yes, we confirmed, the baby was going to come out.

Now my daughter is an effective baby machine in that she seemed to squeeze them out like a bar of soap in the shower. Consequently it wasn't more than an hour or two when Donna was on the phone, asking us to bring Stacy to their birthing suite to see her new sister. We got there so soon after the event that Suzie was not yet cleaned up. But they sat Stacy on her mother's bedside and laid the baby in her lap and unwrapped the receiving blanket. And there was my second granddaughter. The amniotic fluid was dry and scaly in some places. Her hair was matted with it. The beta dine was generously splotched on her little belly. I'm sorry, but she looked like a reptile. Stacy sat and stared. Then she looked up and said, "Poo poo?" In her limited vocabulary I suppose that was the dirtiest word she knew, and her sister was a mess. I next saw my little Suzie a couple days later. She was all cleaned up and was sporting a pink ribbon in her hair. There was my precious granddaughter, Suzanne.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New phone

We got new Droid phones so I thought I should try posting from my phone. My wife, of course got the fancy one and I got the Jr. grade freeby called the Eris. And by the way, I have switched to my computer keyboard to complete this post. I don't know how the kids do so much texting with that little keyboard on the phone, but I keep hitting the wrong letter with my large fingers. No wonder they care nothing about proper spelling. Besides, texting shorthand is quickly becoming a subculture language, and I, for one, am not fluent. Barbara enjoys the deep computer voice that slowly says, "Droid" when she turns on her phone. I was making all kinds of negative comments about getting new phones when the old ones worked quite well. Now I find myself playing with all the "apps" that I can download for free. One of them has a choice of several city skylines, and it is called "New Years fireworks". When I touch the screen, a skyrocket goes up and explodes in several colors right on the spot that I touched. Multiple touches, of course, reap mulitple skyrockets.

I have downloaded an app that helps me keep track of my glucose monitoring. What fun it is to get a look at Facebook with literally one touch. Then there is USA Today to get the headlines, or anything else they offer. The Weather Chanel has an app, and I have it set to give me, simultaneously, the temp and weather in LA, Cordova TN, Chattanooga, Wilsonville OR and San Francisco. At one glance I know how cold all my kids are at that moment. But there is so much more the phone will do that I do not, as yet, know how to work. They offer a class for this, and I guess Barbara and I will take it when we can.

Barbara's ring is a predictable (but beautiful) Mozart. Mine is a reving Farrari.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Diet, 6th week

Actually we just had class 7 last night, but you must realize our actual diet began the day following our first meeting. Therefore we have just finished our 6th week. In that time I have lost 28.5 pounds. That's not quite five pounds a week, but not far off. In fact last week I weighed in with only 2.5 pounds lost. I had to step up my exercise program a notch to regain my goal loss of 5 pounds. Everything else is so regulated that it is only the exercise that is a variable for me to adjust. And since my arthritis prevents walking for any measurable distance as exercise, I am limited to riding my now stationary bicycle. If week 12 finds me 50 pounds lighter I will be on schedule, and rather pleased with the results. Soon after that we begin to modify our diet with the addition of real (though soft and meager) food. We need to learn a different style of eating habits, as indeed we already are. We are reading and discussing healthy dining habits, but reality tests theory in these matters, and at this point our dining habits are only theoretical.

Frankly my gut looks almost as corpulent as it did before. No one seems to notice that I have lost anything--let alone some 30 pounds! Perhaps my jowls are not quite as paunchy as they were the day I started, but other than that it is really hard to notice. It is disappointing to find that those shirts that were too small for me before are still too small for me. This portly little man must have lost all that disgusting lard from the lining of my intestines and other internal hiding places. I really believe it is easier for me to breathe, and I guess that is more important to me than physique. Be patient, all that fat loss has to show somewhere.

I still think allot about food. I watch Emeril Live and salivate. I have downloaded some recipes for veggies and good healthy stuff. I fantasize about the fancy dining I plan to indulge once I am finished. Although I believe I will get sick if I dive in too soon after this radical change. And already I find myself dreading the possibility of regaining this weight. So my same resolve that sent me on this stringent diet in the first place is likely to make me fanatical about keeping the weight off when I finish.

I'm sorry to bore you with these reports, but frankly it is a large part of my life right now and it is hard for me to think about much else.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My first car

I was remembering my first car, and some adventures worth sharing.  Then I realized that I had already written a blog post about this.  So here it is, a repeat from November first, 2010:

I was a senior at Manual Arts High School when my father coaxed me into bying a Crosley automobile. You may know that Crosley made appliances like refrigerators and sewing machines, but I bet you did not know they made cars. Well I mean to tell you that it was small--tiny! It must have had some kind of sewing machine motor, and it looked like an oversized appliance of some sort. The windows were small enough that only a toddler could climb into the car (or out). The door handles were smaller than those used on a refrigerator. They could have been left overs from a tool box or a shed. Everything about this car seemed to say it was cheap and miniature. But it was a car, and more importantly it was my car.

At that time my father was a clerk in the Hollywood Post Office, and he had exposure to a lot of the craziness that was Hollywood in the old days. One advantage for me was the fact that he easily obtained tickets to popular radio shows. [Now you need to know that I am a very old guy, and in the old days many radio shows had live audiences for applause, laughter (none of that canned stuff), and sometimes for participation.] On the sidewalk of Hollywood Boulevard it was common to trade tickets with strangers for different radio shows. I traded a ticket to "Queen for A Day" for "House Party". House Party was the Art Linkletter show, and it was top notch. We saw experimental TV shows (which weren't very desireble because large cameras prevented the audience from seeing much of the action). The "Martin and Lewis Comedy Hour" was one of the premium tickets, and I saw a couple of those shows. Actually they taped this show in front of a live audience, but the tape was only an hour, so we usually were in the studio an hour and a half to get the useable portion and edit out the zany stuff that was adlibbed.

When I took some friends to see some radio shows, we didn't have any parking problems because of my tiny car. As long as I could get the nose of the car into a prospectrive parking place, we would simply lift the rear end and carry it over to the curb to complete the job.

In time things wore out on my Crosley, and one of the crucial things was the door handles. The pin that held the handle in place came loose and fell out on the passenger side of the vehicle. So to compensate we just borrowed the driver's handle to reach through the window and open the passenger door. We would "make do" in this fashion, promising to get it properly fixed some day. Well the inevitalbe happened one day. We were driving along Vine street when I heard something make a jingling sound. That little piece of music was actually my driver's side door handle bouncing in the street. I immediately recognized the sound and made a U-turn. Yep, there it was lying in the grove of the streetcar rail. Here we were, trapped in this tiny car seeing our only way out awaiting destruction when the next streetcar would come by. Perhaps the conductor would not see the door handle and I would be responsible for the derailing of the car! Well we were in Hollywood, where many strange things were seen every day. We called to a man walking by and asked him to retrieve the door handle. I don't know just how many strange people and things he had seen that day, but comparatively speaking this request was probably not the strangest. He retrieved it and we were saved!

When the clutch went out (of course it was a stick shift) we had to make do for that too. All we needed to do was push the car a little bit by hand, jump into the car and quickly slip it into first gear. After that I had to listen to the whine of the gear to estimate when it was right to shift into second and then third. It's amazing how little grinding there was and how efficient the shifting was without a clutch. I know, only you other old guys out there can understand about cars that have a clutch.

A new problem developed when football season was finished. The players had scheduled 7th period PE in order to play football. But when the schedule was over, these bruisers got out of school an hour early. They had a lot of fun looking for this tiny car, lifting it, and putting it between trees or on someone's lawn. When I got out of school I would have to go search for my little bug.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

The calendar has turned another leaf, and the fireworks have died down. There is a tradition of making resolutions for the new year, which is a bit silly from my point of view. But if it reveals the fact that men know they are in need of change, there is hope that some may even repent. If a course of action is worth resolving on New Years Day, then it is worth resolving any time of year. It only gives the lie to our determination (or lack thereof) when we wait for the new year to make that resolution. My wife remembers a high school friend who, with her broken leg in a cast, resolved to give up dancing for lent. But that's another story.

I know that when I stepped on the scale at my doctor's office, and discovered that I weighed more than I have at any other time in my life, something in my head snapped. I said, "Okay, that's it!" That's when my doctor recommended this diet of "Optifast" that I am currently enduring. When I resolved to enter a liquid diet for 20 weeks, I was committed from the day I stepped on my doctor's scale. Never mind that Christmas was coming. To me this resolution was worth making come luau, banquet, party or cruise. (Actually, I think it might be a tad too much to ask if there had been a cruise on schedule.)

The year is 2010, and we are contemplating dramatic transition for our lives. We are scheduled to move January 30, and I will still be on this stupid diet. Yes, we will treat the people who help us move with pizza. I will buy it and smell it, but by the grace of God, I will not eat it. Actually I am beginning to wonder why we agreed to this move. Oh yeah, we can't do the stairs much more, and we had to sift through our treasures before we die and leave the chore for our kids. The joke is that we are moving our treasures (junk) to the new house, and our kids will still have to comb through these remnants of our lives after we are gone anyway. I guess the volume will have been slightly reduced.