July 21--Corn Dogs!

As planned, we went to the state fair the other day. It was a perfect day for the fair--not too hot, not too crowded. It was seniors day, so I got in for only $10! I love this whole senior discount thing.

We saw the usual things--cows and goats, guys hawking fancy knives ("it slices, it dices!"), the agricultural exhibits, etc. Malida got a bit worn out toward the mid afternoon, so we skipped the photography and art exhibits. I'm planning to enter something next year, so we won't skip it then. We had some yummy fair food.


A flowering artichoke at the farm exhibit. Back in 1985, when I was struggling to put my life back together, a friend took me to the fair. I started crying in the farm exhibit, because everything was so beautiful, and my life seemed so shitty at the time. It was, actually, but I remember looking at the flowers there and thinking that maybe it didn't have to be. That was true too.

Shawn Wrangler

Shawn Wrangler performing at the fair. His name is actually Brandon, and he is one of my former students, who just graduated in May. While we were watching him perform, two other of my former students came by and sat with us for a while. They have all passed the NCLEX licensing exam, and are on their way. I love running into former students.

Malida at the fair

Malida at the fair. She is doing good, and went back to work yesterday. She has two more work days, and then we are off to Thailand.

I received the packing cubes I ordered and started packing yesterday. I love packing cubes--it makes everything so organized. I will leave most of my Thailand clothes there when we come home. I'll fill my suitcase with Lao coffee, Swiss muesli, and Be Nice body wash.

I have a meeting this evening with the people I am doing wedding photography for when I get back from Thailand. I don't really like doing wedding photography, but it is good money, and will go toward the camera I am saving up for--the one I should have gotten in the first place, but bought the Olympus instead. I like the Olympus, but it just isn't as good as Canon.

corn dog

And finally, a corn dog, because if you don't have a corn dog at the fair, it's as if you never even went.
  • Current Music
    Stoneground--Get Rhythm

July 19--Getting ready

My subject line auto-filled with the words "getting ready" when I typed in the date, so I am guessing we were getting ready to either go to or come back from Thailand on a previous July 19. I looked--it had nothing to do with travel. I was talking about getting ready for the fall semester in 2017. Which I also did yesterday.

I think I am done with work until I come back. I updated and posted all my lecture material, sent out all the stuff to the students to work on, and had my last meeting about the curriculum. It's going to be a busy fall semester, but I am ready to go.

We are also getting ready to go to Thailand. Last year at this time we were already there, and at the tail end of our trip to Laos. I loved our Laos excursion. I'm hoping we can go back over for a few days this time. I checked my foreign currency stash, and I have close to a million Lao Kip! That's only about $100, but more than enough for a nice cup of Lao coffee for everyone. See you there!

malida packing

Malida is pretty much back to her old self, and is busy packing. She bought about 14 pounds of chocolate to take back with her as gifts--people love American chocolate. She will go back to work on Saturday for a few days before we leave.

I haven't started packing yet. I am waiting for some new packing cubes to arrive on Saturday. I love packing cubes--it makes everything so organized. I'm not very well organized in my daily life, but when I am traveling, I like to know where everything is.

slinkard valley

A random landscape. Slinkard Valley from the Monitor Pass in Mono County. There was a fire here a few years ago.

We leave a week from today! Whee!

July 17--Good news from the biopsy people

Well, Malida's biopsy was good. It indicates, as the pathologist suggested, inflammation. So she has thyroiditis. We are relieved, of course. We could feel our lives starting up again and moving on from this little episode. Thanks to all of you for your well wishes and good thoughts.

I always try to subscribe to the "expect the worst, but hope for the best" philosophy, but find that I have a hard time holding both those things at the same time. My experiences, both personal and as a long time critical care nurse, tend to tip me over into the "expect the worst" side of things most of the time.

So, anyway, thyroiditis. It explains pretty much all her symptoms and her weight loss. Her thyroid is releasing too much thyroid hormone. It will take about 4-6 weeks to resolve. No real treatment other than supportive stuff like Tylenol.


Malida and Bokie

July 16--Sheep Pano

Chocko woke me up this morning by making a racket at the partially open sliding glass door. I got up to see what was going on, and she was staring out at another cat. It was Gema, our neighbor cat, who we like. There are two cats that come look in the window at our cats, Gema and Dennis. Chocko hates Dennis, but somewhat tolerates Gema. Mook doesn't seem to care--she will watch for a bit, then head for the food bowl.

sheep pano

Some sheep on a hill in Marin County. This is from the spring of 2018, from the same area where I got the picture of the gas pump. Pretty random, and has nothing to do with what I am thinking about today, other that being a kind of soothing and peaceful image.

We went up to Auburn to my sister's to see my dad again on Sunday. It was my other step-sister's birthday, and they had a party on Friday, which we missed because Malida was worn out. Anyway, it was quiet on Sunday, and we sat out on the patio and had a nice visit with my dad and my step-sisters. I don't see them all that often, but when I do, I always feel right at home with them.

We are still waiting for the results of Malida's biopsy. It was supposed to be available yesterday, and she called twice. Both times they said her doctor would call after her last patient at 3 pm. She didn't call, and we sent a message to see what was up. We got a reply at 5:30 telling us that the doctor was actually not there--she was still on vacation, and that they would pass it on to the covering doctor, who didn't call either. Irritating and frustrating.


A volunteer sunflower that came up in my garden box. It's right under the bird feeder, so I am guessing that one of the sunflower seeds from the feeder is responsible for this. It's a nice touch for a garden plot that has gotten out of control. I'm just not paying attention to it. I'm distracted.

I'm kind of glad that I am off right now, though I think if I were working, it would give me something else to think about.
  • Current Music
    Big Star--The Ballad of el Goodo

July 13--Contains Lead

It's supposed to get up into the 90s today, which is normal for this time of year, but at the moment it is in the low 60s as the sun comes up. I have the windows open in my office. I can hear a dove cooing somewhere, and a train going by in the distance.

Malida had her biopsy on Thursday, and it went well. It was just needles, so she didn't have too much discomfort after. The doctor performing the biopsy told her there was a good chance that this was some sort of inflammatory thing rather than malignancy, which would be good. We will find out the results early next week.

The office was interesting--not at all like a typical medical office. There was a reception room with furniture that would be at home in a country kitchen. Classical music was playing. It was low-key and efficient. I didn't take a picture.

Other than that, we have pretty much been overcome with inertia for the past couple of days. Malida has been watching a lot of tv, and I have been sitting in here doing not much of anything, though I did mess around with some of my pictures.

contains lead

This is one from last year that I couldn't seem to get how I wanted it back then. It was taken in west Marin, near where we were last week, and I thought about it when we were out that way. The golden age of gas pumps.

I took another look at some of my Milky Way photos and played around with one of the ones I took before it got fully dark. I ran it through some filters until I got it the way I wanted it to look. It's somewhat surreal, which is what I was going for.

milky way silver lake

Malida really liked it, and asked me to send it out to be printed up so she could take it to Thailand and put it in our house. I'm curious to see what it looks like printed up.

I need to renew my critical care certification this month. I have a choice between submitting 100 hours of continuing education, or re-taking the certification exam. I've taken the exam twice over the years, and prefer to collect the CE hours. I'm not sure how many I have at the moment, but I am pretty sure I have close to enough. I took a bunch of courses last summer to satisfy the board of nursing requirement for being the medical-surgical content expert for the nursing program. I'll work on that this coming week.

alternate sunset

Another sunset shot at Mono Lake from earlier this week.

July 11--Squeezably soft

On Sunday we decided we needed to get out of the house, so we headed over to the coast and wandered around Bodega Bay. It was a beautiful, breezy day. We had lunch at one of the seafood places along the bay and waited for the seagulls to come crashing in through the windows.

bodega head

After lunch we drove around the bay out to Bodega Head, which is where the bay meets the ocean. I had never been out there before. It was spectacular. We walked down to the beach and took in the sea air. It was just what we needed. Too bad we can't bottle it and bring it home.

Malida at elephant rock

Malida looks out over the Marin landscape. There is no place in the world like West Marin County. It's all gentle hills, ocean views, and dairy farms.

Malida decided to work on Tuesday, and I decided to take a quick trip up over the Sierras to see how the high country looks. The Tioga pass opened just last week. I headed over the Monitor Pass to Lee Vining and spent the night there.

I went out to catch the sunset at Mono Lake. The water level was quite a bit higher than the last time I was there, and the path to the place I like to go was kind of swampy. I ended up falling over sideways into the water and the tufas, and scraped up my arm pretty good. I was about to call it quits, but decided to stick around to see if I could salvage a picture or two.

mono lake sunset

I was rewarded with this lovely image. It was worth the wait, and the ruined shoes.

In the morning I headed west over the Tioga Pass through Yosemite. I stopped along the way and walked around along the river for a while. There were lots of mosquitoes. I was surprised by how little snow was left. I avoided going down into the valley, and headed out the west entrance.

waterfall in Yosemite

A small, unnamed waterfall somewhere along the road. I hiked down to take a look and tripped on a rock. I fell into a bunch of other rocks and cracked my watch face and the back of my camera. I need to be more careful. I made it home relatively intact.

Malida's biopsy is later this morning, so naturally I was awake at 4:45 thinking about it. She's worried about the procedure, and thinks it is going to take a week or two to recover from it. I was thinking it will be simple and straightforward, and more worried about what it will reveal.

As I was lying in bed thinking, I realized that she thinks they are going to make an incision to get the biopsy, while I was thinking they will use a needle. Actually, no one has said how it will be done, so it could be either way, I guess, though I think fine needle aspiration is how they do it. We'll know for sure at 10. Results next week.


July 4, 2019--Independence Day

I'm up early enjoying a beautiful morning. There is a nice breeze coming in through the open windows, and I can hear the birds chirping. There is the drone of a small plane is flying overhead. I can smell the roses that are blooming outside the window. All in all, a lovely morning.

Tuesday night was the new moon, and I decided to drive up into the Sierras to see about taking some star pictures. I waited until Malida got back from her doctor's appointment--she has had a sore throat for the past few weeks, with intermittent fevers, and it hasn't gone away. The doctor ordered an ultrasound.

I headed up Highway 88 with the idea of checking out Caples Lake as a place to shoot, and maybe go up to the Monitor Pass. I left in time to get up there before dark so I could scope things out. I got up there about an hour before sunset. I was disappointed to see that it was somewhat cloudy, which is not good for star photography, but decided to wait and see.

I drove down to Woods lake to check it out. There was still a bit of snow on the road, but it was easily passable. The creek was full, and I took a couple of pictures while I waited for the sun to go down.

I looked up and saw that the sky was turning red, and thought I should get out of there and see what the sunset looked like. I got back on the highway and saw that there were a lot of red clouds just over the Carson Pass to the east so I drove over that way.

This is what I saw as I came over the pass and looked down toward the Carson Valley:

red lake

It was spectacular. The lake is called Red Lake, and now I know why. This only lasted for about 5 minutes--just enough time to get a couple of shots, before everything faded out. I headed down into the valley to see if it was cloudy further on, and it was, so I headed back toward home.

On the way back, I noticed that that it was clearing in the southeast, so I stopped at Silver Lake. I could see the Milky Way rising over the horizon across the lake, and Jupiter bright in the sky. I stuck around and got out my camera stuff.

Milky Way

I wasn't disappointed. I stayed up there until my fingers started getting cold, about 11 pm. I got back home at about 1:30 am, not nearly as tired as I thought I would be. Photography sometimes invigorates me.

Malida called me from work yesterday afternoon to tell me that the doctor called about her ultrasound results. There is a large nodule on her thyroid gland that is suspicious for malignancy. They are scheduling a biopsy for next week. We will have to wait and see, but I have the feeling that our lives are about to change.

June 30--June 30, June 30

Every year when June 30 rolls around, I am reminded of Richard Brautigan, the author who wrote Trout Fishing in America. The last poetry book he published before he died was called June 30, June 30. One of those authors who had a profound influence on how I look at the world. So the wind won't blow it all away.

I finished up with work on Thursday, with a meeting with my boss and my curriculum buddy Felicia, to create a timeline for this big project we are doing over the next two years. Other than sending out an email with some instructions for the incoming Fall students, I am now done for the summer.

On Friday, I went for a walk along the creek trail. First time I have been out there in a couple of weeks. It was kind of cloudy and humid, which is unusual. All the usual suspects were out though, enjoying the day.


One of the usual suspects.

After I got back, I did some stuff to get ready for our trip. I made reservations at the place where we park our car near the airport, and got some travel medical insurance. One of our student workers is going to take care of the cats, so I think we are pretty much set. Just have to wait a month.

nien and house

Our niece Nien sent this pic of the Thailand house. The outside is pretty much done, and they are putting in the ceilings this week. It is getting near planting time so they will have to stop working on it until after the harvest. When we are there, we will figure out what the floors will look like, and buy all the stuff for the bathrooms and the kitchen. I'll have to send another big chunk of money over for that.

Malida's cousin Yuan, who is is taking care of the gardening aspects, bought five mango trees to plant along the west side of the house. Things are coming along. I am hoping that I can spend most of next summer there. We shall see. I will have to figure out the whole longer visa thing, as the visa I normally get is for about 30 days.

laguna flower

I'm thinking about what to do with the next 4 weeks. I'm pretty tired and burned out from working so much lately. I need to adopt my summer discipline of getting up early and getting out of the house to walk or whatever. Malida has a couple of days off next week, and the Tioga Pass over the Sierras through Yosemite opens at the same time, so we will probably head over and see how things look up high. Other than that, I will take it a day at a time.
  • Current Music
    Stone Temple Pilots--Big Empty

June 23--The Existential Angst of Hello Kitty

Well, let's see.

Last Sunday was Father's day, and we went up to my step-sister's in Auburn to celebrate and spend time with my dad. It was an unusually small gathering--only 6 of us, so I had plenty of time to visit with him, which was nice. The weather was perfect, and we spent the entire afternoon outside around the pool.


My step-sister's husband has a drone, and he taught me how to fly it. That was a lot of fun. Now I want one.

Monday morning brought the thing I have been anxious about since the start of summer--the start of the three-day class I put together for a bunch of high school students who are interested in health professions--Sim Camp!

sim camp

The first day was kind of shaky. It was some team building exercises and lectures on how simulators work and lectures. They didn't really care for that stuff, but it was necessary.

sim camp

On the second day, we set them loose. We broke them up into teams, and each team had their own simulator. Their objective was to create a simulation scenario and practice it.


The simulations they came up with were really creative, and much better than I expected. They really got into it. At the end of the third day, their high school teachers came, and the students were able to run their simulations for them. It was way cool.


Once it was all over, I felt a real sense of relief, and relaxed for the first time since the summer started. I went in for a bit on Thursday and cleaned up the simulators and entered grades. Now I'm done with all that. I still have some work on my curriculum project, but that is really low stress. I can enjoy the balance of the summer.

I had an appointment with the electrophysiology cardiologist on Thursday afternoon. It went well, and we decided to kind of wait and see about doing any kind of procedure. The appointment was down across from the hospital where I worked for 25 years, and I went over after and said hi to my ICU friends. It was the first time I had been in the new ICU since it opened. It is modern, but lacks the soul of the old ICU.

the view from here

The view from the cardiologist's office. This is the same view I had when I sat with my first wife during her chemotherapy sessions, three floors below. I always appreciated that view--it was calming.

Another week in the books.

June 16--Serving the greater Los Angeles basin since 1936!

When I last wrote, we were on our way down to Berkeley to see Jason Isbell. I don't think I had decided yet whether we were going to stay down there, but we did. We stayed at a place out on the Berkeley waterfront, and had a nice lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the bay. It was a lovely afternoon.

golden gate

We enjoyed the concert. It was outdoors at the Greek Theatre, and the weather was perfect. I sat next to a woman and her husband who both knew a lot about music, so we chatted quite a bit. During the set, Jason Isbell did a cover of an old Fleetwood Mac song, from the Peter Green days, and the woman's husband leaned over and asked if I knew who had done the original. I did, and he ended up buying me a beer.

The next morning we drove back up to the UC Berkeley campus and wandered around the botanical gardens that are up in the hills above the school. It's another one of the hidden gems of the Bay Area. I took lots of pictures.

fried egg flower

I know this flower has a proper name, and I used to know what it was, but I always think of it as the fried egg flower. I just looked it up again, and I love it's real name too--the Matilija poppy.


Some other kind of poppy. All the plants and flowers were identified, but I forgot to look to see what this was. It reminded both of us of the opium poppies we saw up in northern Thailand a few years ago.

the view

The view from the gardens.

The rest of the week was uneventful. It was hot--we had a couple of 100+ degree days. I got closer and closer to finishing up my summer work projects. My boss and I hosted a meeting with the head of the California Board of Nursing and a bunch of other schools to discuss our ideas for overhauling the curriculum, and got support for that. It's kind of interesting to be involved at that level.

I will teach my three-day simulation class this coming week. It is for high schoolers who are hoping for health professions careers. The idea of teaching high school students makes me kind of nervous.

Once the class is completed, I will have a few more things to finish up, then will be off for the rest of the summer. I can't wait. I'm ready for a long break.
  • Current Music
    Claypool-Lennon Delirium--Amethyst Realm