Don lives in California. As of today, he has lived 30,618 days! Though retired, he continues to do volunteer work at the San Mateo Public Library, manages several web domains (do visit my latest pages: Robocalls Manifesto, Geography Quiz, Reaction Times and the Poa Tree), and serves on the board of directors of Nor-Cal Theatre Organ Society.
You are invited to visit my travel pages, my personal history and interests pages, some special pages you might enjoy, and a list of web links I think are interesting. These pages and more are available by using the dropdown menus at the top of each page.
Thought for today, Monday, May 20, 2013:
This month's hot link:
My thoughts on random subjects
May 2, 2013
I remember a time when men and women and even children would carry a cloth handkerchief ("hankie") when they had a runny nose, or indeed any time they were rather formally dressed, or even not. This was before Kleenex and others sold inexpensive, disposable tissues. It was the best solution available, but when I look back on the custom, it's a rather nasty practice, stuffing all those bacteria back into your pocket or purse! So I should really take heart in the knowledge that modern technology has made yet another contribution to our lives. But what I remember is that when I was a kid, a nice linen handkerchief, perhaps even a monogrammed one, was always a fall-back choice for a Christmas present for my Dad, who was notoriously hard to choose gifts for. I wonder how many people remember that period?
Mar 31, 2013
I like to try to simplify and reduce things. I got to thinking about how to be happy, and I came up with this:
Observe the world. Understand the world, as much as you can. Accept the world. Enjoy the world.
Observe, Understand, Accept, Enjoy!
Mar 18, 2013
Much has been written about dreams, so I may not have anything new to add, but my experience has been that I dreamed very little (or at least remembered very little) for most of my life, but as I approached old age (oh, I hate to use that term!), I began having more vivid and more frequent dreams. Now I have dreams that I remember, at least briefly, almost every night. I rarely have frightening or threatening dreams, but I certainly have some odd ones sometimes. I frequently dream of driving--either a car or sometimes some vague, large vehicle; and I usually have some trouble either steering or bringing it to a stop, although I can't remember ever actually colliding with anything. In the past I often dreamed that I could sort of fly, or rather, by leaping and breathing just right, make graceful leaps of yards at a bound. That's not so common anymore, but on a good night I might do just a bit of flying! I don't try to ascribe any meaning to my dreams. No doubt my state of mind has some effect, but I certainly don't think that dreams are at all predictive of the future.
Feb 8, 2013
I was just thinking: when I was a young man I was always fastidious about having my shirt pocket buttoned; as I matured and used reading glasses, I formed the habit of never buttoning my shirt pocket, so I could easily slip my glasses into the pocket; now that I keep my glasses on nearly all the time, I'm back to keeping my shirt pocket buttoned again. Life is a cycle.
Feb 1, 2013
According to Andrew Kohut of Pew Research, only 25% of the American public believes that our Congress is doing a good job, but in the last election 90% of incumbents who ran for re-election won! Why did they vote for them if they thought they were not doing a good job??
Jan 26, 2013
I haven't posted to my blog for a full month, so I'm obviously getting desperate for a topic. In my reading (yes, a hardcover book!) this morning, I came across this fact: all fish with scales have fins, but the opposite isn't necessarily true.
Dec 22, 2012
A correspondent of mine has pointed out that there is a compilation of past apocalyptic predictions from the days of the Romans right up to current times, and there are already predictions that range from May 19th of this coming year to scientific estimates of billions of years (I won't worry about those): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dates_predicted_for_apocalyptic_events
Dec 21, 2012
Well, it seems like the ancient Mayans didn't get it right -- or maybe we didn't get what they were trying to tell us. In either case, we're still here (or at least I am, you can speak for yourself). So now it's my turn to make a prediction: I predict that within the next year someone will dig up some old mythology or discover a "code" in some venerable manuscript and announce that he (or she, let's be gender neutral here) that establishes a new apocalypse date. And I further predict that the very same group of foolish people will pay attention to this new prediction as have done so to this one. I've seen this movie.
Well, that's a relief
Dec 8, 2012
I've just stumbled across this important fact: Calvin Coolidge, twenty-ninth president of the United States, averaged ten hours of sleep a night. Now I don't feel so bad, because that's about what I average!
Dec 3, 2012
Well, I've been reading about how we have lost any semblance of privacy whenever we use the Internet, especially with regard to the social networking sites. But now I have positive proof: when I log into my Facebook account, I get a series of ads on the right side of the page that invite me to "Meet Older Women" and similar messages. Sigh.
Nov 6, 2012
I am proud to say I voted this morning. I don't yet know who our next President will be, but I'm pretty sure of one thing: I don't expect any more political phone calls, junk mail, and the flood of email that I've been receiving for months now. Whew!
Even more on Ringggg... Ringggg...
Oct 20, 2012
So I finally launched a website to bitch about receiving those robocalls. You can visit it at http://robocallsmanifesto.org. (Actually, it's a web development project of mine, to learn PDO (PHP Data Objects) and other techniques, but who knows, maybe I'll win the $50,000 award being offered by the Federal Trade Commission to the person who comes up with the best technical solution to the abominable robocalls problem.)
California gasoline prices
Oct 16, 2012
I knew about the spike in gas prices, of course, but since I drive so little, Sunday was my first personal encounter with them since the spike, which actually peaked last week. But it still came as a shock when I filled my tank over in Berkeley, where I was on Sunday for our organ club "open console", and where I know the pump prices are about the lowest in the Bay Area. My tank wasn't even on empty, more like 1/4 full, but it cost me $52.39 -- OVER FIFTY BUCKS! It really brings the inflation issue to your attention!
Sep 29, 2012
I just came back from grocery shopping. I had a little trouble finding where they hide the dried prunes. Another man was vainly scanning the shelves nearby and I felt a sense of community with him, so I said, "You know, if they would just put everything in alphabetical order, it would be much easier to find things, don't you think?" He completely agreed with me. The big stores are missing something here.
Life in the Key of B#
Sep 26, 2012
As every musician knows, the key of B# doesn't really exist, because it is an awkward reference to the key of C, arguably the easiest key to play on a piano. I know people who seem to play their lives in the key of B# -- that is, they make everything an order of magnitude more complicated than it needs to be. They could undoubtedly achieve the same ends with far less effort just by acknowledging how simple most matters are, but choose to describe it in the most complicated terms possible.
Sep 23, 2012
Isn't it encouraging to see how our political system has embraced quantitative reasoning? First, there was the 99% vs. 1% distinction pointed out by the Occupy movement. Then it was Mitt Romney's 13% income tax rate. And now it's the 47% of American voters who don't pay any income tax but who are "dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."
Excitement in the Neighborhood!
Aug 31, 2012
I have just lived through my first Shelter-In-Place! A gas main broke just a few blocks down the street from me and I received a Community Alert, which was cancelled an hour or so later. Traffic on the main street just a few hundred feet from my house was blocked and there were several fire trucks and many police cars and a helicopter hovered overhead. It has all quieted down now, fortunately.
Aug 20, 2012
Today I encountered serious road work in several locations while driving around, doing errands. It dawned on me that the demand for those orange safety cones must surely be on the rise! So I looked up some sources for buying those cones in bulk quantities, and one of the leading providers seems to be W. W. Grainger (GWW on the NYSE). Now, don't tell anybody else, and you must realize that this is not an offer to buy or sell securities, nor is it professional investment advice, and the price of equity investments is not guaranteed, and your mileage may vary -- but if you want to get a piece of this action before everyone else does -- well, you probably get my drift.
More on Ringggg... Ringggg...
Aug 9, 2012
I've been giving this more thought, as I continue to receive several annoying calls each day, interrupting my naps or even (Heaven forbid!) productive activities. On those rare occasions when I end up talking to a real live person, they are always reading from a script, so I have written my own script and will keep a copy next to each phone in my house: "..Oh, excuse me, wait, I need to inform you that this call is being recorded. Now, my rates for telephone consultation are $120 per hour and I will begin the timer as soon as you agree to my terms."
Ringggg . . . Ringggg . . .
Aug 6, 2012
I'm getting SO-O-O-O tired of unsolicited commercial phone calls (especially robo-calls and those that never answer, even when you answer), despite having been on the National Do Not Call Registry for years. It's bad enough that the FCC rules never included political and charitable organizations in the Do Not Call Registry, but evidently they don't make the slightest effort to enforce the rules even for carpet cleaners and mortgage lenders! I have filed official complaints for a number of these callers, but I continue getting calls from the same ones, over and over again.
Jul 27, 2012
Look, usually I support government regulations that insure that the public knows of any risks associated with a product, but today I went over to Orchard Supply and bought a new hand sprinkler for my back lawn, you know, the kind that screws onto a hose. As I picked it up and looked at the label, it said, "For Outdoor Use Only!" Now come on, WHO buys a hand sprinkler and thinks it is for indoor use? Are they worried that you'll stain your carpet? Or use it in the shower?
Musing on Aging
Jul 23, 2012
Having just had another birthday, I have received several phone calls from friends I haven't spoken with in quite awhile. I find it interesting (not at all offensive, just interesting) that there is an unspoken question of, Gee, are you still alive? A consequence of growing into one's eighties is that others often seem relieved just to hear you answer the phone. It's certainly based on common sense, as anyone knows from reading the obituaries. Just interesting.
Voices From The Past
Jul 11, 2012
At my high school class 50th reunion, I was talking to several old classmates when a fellow came up from behind me, walked around in front and peered at my name badge, then said, "Well! I wouldn't have recognized you, nor remembered your name, but I recognized your voice!" Evidently it is true that we remember voices and vocal patterns better than we remember many other aspects of an individual. It may be the result of evolution. Once it would have been important to distinguish the sounds of predators. Why did I think of this at 3 o'clock this morning?
Teaching at the Library
Jul 8, 2012
I began 5 years ago assisting the librarian at the San Mateo Main Library as he conducted classes in their new 24-seat classroom with new computer equipment. I mainly sat in the back of the room and watched for opportunities to help individual students who were having trouble keeping up. After a few years, the library staff was reduced and I was asked if I could and would take over the classes, which I have been doing for a couple of years now. We have settled on a schedule of 4 Wednesday afternoons to cover Introduction to PC Computers, followed by Basic Internet (2 weeks) and Using Search Engines. This cycle is repeated several times a year. Recently we took a survey of what current enrolees would like to be offered, and as a result I am developing 2 additional classes: Getting a Free Webmail Account, and Creating Your Own Website (using a free web hosting service like Weebly.com that offers templates that don't require learning HTML, etc.). I expect we'll offer these classes as part of the next series, probably beginning in September/October.
I told you I'm not a blogger!
May 27, 2012
"What is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so." - Bertrand Russell, "In Praise of Idleness"
May 3, 2012
Remember, nobody is here permanently. Each of us is just visiting.
May 1, 2012
I've redesigned this page and I hope I improved it from both a layout and content perspective. I'm not much of a blogger, but I will try to note interesting things that I run across from time to time, and express my feelings about current events.
I welcome your comments and suggestions for this web site. You may email me at .
Last updated January 24, 2013