The walks I am taking in the morning now require that I bundle up to stay warm. It was 18 degrees (F) when I went out a couple of days ago. It requires long johns and insulated pants and shoes and gloves and hat, and even with all that it is a struggle to keep my fingers warm enough.
Our pond is partly frozen. There’s a buried pipe, where runoff water from a spring above splashes into the pond year-round, and the splashes from that little waterfall have frozen into a chaotic ice sculpture. Every blade of grass and leaf is coated with ice. It’s lovely:
(Click to see larger image)
We lost our household water supply to frozen pipes for a couple of days, but everything thawed out yesterday and we are now back to having water again.
We soaked up as much sun as we could today — it was a very simple pleasure.
This maple tree clings to the top of a large rock on the side of its hill. I see it every morning when I walk out Charlie Rock Road, and it is currently bright yellow with its fall foliage. Click to see larger image.
As I write this, it is foggy here on the Chandler Ranch in southwest Oregon. My dog and I walked up the hill to the 8.5 mile marker, which is a mile from the house and about 400 feet higher, so it is pretty well uphill all the way. The fog lasted only until we were at Hell’s Half Acre, our oak savannah, which is above the landing where the radios that connect us to the internet are located. Above that, we were in the clear. With the sun coming up through the top of the fog layer at Hell’s Half Acre, I took this photo of one of our madrone trees with rays of light coming through it. Five minutes later, the fog had burned off there.
Walking two miles a day no longer seems exhausting — it is invigorating. I look forward to it.
As part of my cardiac rehab (see previous post about being happy to be alive), I have been walking every day since my open heart surgery. For about the first 8 weeks, I could not do much more than walk on my driveway, which is fairly flat. The idea of walking uphill was overwhelming, in part due to anemia, which results in shortness of breath. Now, at eleven weeks since the surgery (nearly 3 months) I am happy to report I am walking about a mile every morning, and half of that is up a pretty steep hill. I am walking up to the “landing” behind our house, where we have our internet relay station that we built a couple of years ago.
I bring a camera with me: sometimes the view is spectacular from the landing. Click image for a bigger view – it’s worth it.
On a personal note: on July 24th 2013, I went to the Emergency Room of our local hospital in Coquille, Oregon, with some moderate and strange chest pain. It turns out I was dying and didn’t know it. I was in the middle of experiencing an “aortic disection”, where the inner lining of the main descending aorta separates from the outer wall. That “disection” also affected the big valve at the top of the heart that keeps the blood flowing in one direction into that aorta. That heart valve was kind of hanging down out of place and not functioning well. So, after some miraculous medical diagnostic work on the part of the radiologist who caught what was happening, a dramatic (and expensive) “life flight” to Sacred Heart hospital in Eugene, and some awesome work on the part of Dr. Koh, a very nice heart surgeon, early on July 25th I went under the knife for open heart surgery. They replaced the problematic valve with a mechanical valve, and did some work to shore up the inside of the aorta where it attaches to the heart. (Duct tape?)
Open Heart Surgery is not an experience I would recommend for anyone, but it is better than the alternative, which would be attending one’s own funeral. Without it, I would have been dead on 26 July.
The kindness and professionalism of the EMTs, nurses and doctors and physician’s assistants and all the administrative personnel at Coquille Valley Hospital and the Life Flight crew, and at Sacred Heart/Peace Health in Eugene has been overwhelming and unexpected.
I spent the next week after surgery recuperating in hospital, then they kicked me out and sent me home, back to the ranch on August 1st.
It’s now been 7 weeks since the surgery, and I am recuperating well, attending weekly cardio rehab sessions in Coos Bay, monitoring my blood closely for things I never cared about before, and taking all kinds of drugs for blood pressure, clotting factors, etc.
The moral of my story is: Don’t ignore warnings about high blood pressure. If I’d been taking the blood pressure drugs I should have been taking for the last 20 years, and hadn’t been smoking cigars for that whole period, and hadn’t had a genetic predisposition toward an aortic disection and a faulty heart valve, then I’d have possibly avoided this open heart surgery. But maybe not; it’s quite possible that despite taking blood pressure meds and not smoking for 20 years, I’d have had this happen anyway. The surgeon couldn’t really say that I could have done anything different to avoid having this happen.
So, having survived a near brush with death, and been given another chance at life, I am happy to be alive and very thankful to my family for “circling the wagons” and helping me get through this.
The Sandy Hook murders in Newtown Connecticut have been the trigger for an onslaught of anti-gun legislation. I’ve lost track of the number of bills–last count was about a dozen. I won’t glorify this legislation with the title “gun control”, because the real purpose of most of this legislation is to get rid of guns that those in power do not want us to have. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution is pretty clear about not infringing on our rights in this area: “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
What’s missing from all this is an investigation into the real cause of the violence in our schools. For hundreds of years we’ve had a country with many schools, where weapons were abundant and we didn’t have any shootings like this. Now it seems as if there is a new school shooting every few months. Why?
Here’s what one psychiatrist, Dr. David Healy, says about it. Now, if you’re at all like me, you probably think psychiatrists are about as loopy as they come, and that psychiatry bears the same relationship to medicine that astrology bears to astronomy. Even so, this one seems to have his head partially screwed on right.
See also his website to report the side effects of drugs at Rxisk.org.
CCHR has been saying that psychiatric drugs were responsible for this increase in violence for about 20 years. So have I, but then I’ve been a member of CCHR since 1972.
There’s an interesting new internet “meme” about “mass murder pills” based on the many requests out there for an investigation into the relationship between psychiatric drugs and violence. Do a Google search for that term and see what’s popping up now.
I have recently finished a fairly big project moving Christmasgifts.com over to WordPress.
It was an interesting project, but it took a long time to do. WordPress is not my favorite kind of platform for an ecommerce site (this particular site sells advertising) and it used to rank very highly for the search term “Christmas gifts” at Google. It ranked #1 for years, helped by EMD (Exact Match Domain name) and by having thousands of links to it from websites linking to the free Christmas Clipart and free Christmas music there. Several attempts to re-optimize the old site (which I built in php and mySql originally in 2003, I think) were made over the last couple of years, to no avail. Suddenly the thousands of links to the site looked like an “unnatural link profile”, although they were completely natural!
So we have completely changed the way the site works and looks, with a very nice new graphic design in the WordPress theme created by Matteo Galbiati of www.webandseoguru.com. He also found and modified some plugins so they work for our purposes. We used the Simple Ad Manager, which is kind of clunky but seems to work okay.
Matteo was a joy to work with – very responsive and he always had a solution for some fairly difficult technical issues within WordPress.
The new site is much better for shoppers now because it shows actual products and prices. It works better from an SEO perspective because visitors are not being send off to other sites through ads — they click on products and can purchase them right away. The site continues to offer great advice on what Christmas gifts to give to various kinds of people, but now you can SHOP! which is a much better user experience.
We’ve done yet another request for reconsideration at Google, and are looking forward to being back on page one of the search results for our search terms once again.
My server is getting old and all 35 websites on it need to be transferred to another server. I’ve been working on little else for the last week. I expect another three or four weeks of this and I’ll have all the sites moved. It would be easy if the sites were simple; but few of them are simple. For the last ten years I have specialized in hosting complicated database-driven websites that use php and mySQL to do some amazing things. A lot of these sites rank very highly at Google for their search terms (keywords) and when the sites move, I have to make sure that nothing I do will affect those rankings.
In the meantime, I have found a couple of new quotes I like and put them on my permanent “quotes” page. Enjoy.