Author Archives: Alan Bates

Skywatching in Sperry, Oklahoma


At lunch I went to the Tulsa suburb of Sperry, Oklahoma, a dozen or so miles north of Tulsa. They have a rails to trails project, the Osage Prairie Trail run right through town. Its a great place to take your bicycle. I found a cache called “Railroaded” near where I took this photo.


I was going to do a little geocaching while there. I ran across this sign at the first place I parked. Oops!! Luckily there were no geocaches around the sign and the weather is kind of cold. Also, there are lots of snakes in Oklahoma in areas where there are no signs.


One of the caches I found was called “Dress Up” it had some items you could wear and post on the cache page. I kind of liked these glasses, especially with the hat. I almost kept them.


There was another cache named “baby cache” about fifty feet away from this old gas station. I love the rock exterior. A scene from the movie “The Outsiders” was filmed here.


On my way back to the office I found this “hay bale art” out by the highway. Obviously whoever put it up is one of those crazy people who like snow. Who in their right mind, over 12 years old likes snow? Only ice is worse than snow. And tornadoes, and earthquakes. How come we have all the bad stuff in Oklahoma.

Not bad for a lunch hour, huh?

I am linking with Skywatch Friday 

PhotoDynamic Therapy and Me

I am not much of an athlete but I try and stay active and get outside every day even during the work week, even when it is cold, I try and spend some time getting some fresh air..


I also have fair skin and having that and being in the sun is not the best thing. I like to go hiking, bicycling, geocaching, trailrunning, all sorts of stuff. 


I wear a 110 SPF sun screen every single day of the year and always wear a hat. Still I am on  a first name basis with my Dermatologist, (I call her Dr. D). I go there at least twice a year and get my pre-cancerous cells blasted with liquid nitrogen. She has had to scrape a few off and one time I had to have some “chemo cream” on my forehead. That was a sight I tell you!!


So a few months ago I was in her exam room and she was blasting away and then said we needed to talk. She suggested that since I had so many pre-cancerous lesions she suggested Photodynamic Therapy. What happens is that spread a cream with a medicine that is preferentially absorbed by the bad cells. That takes about an hour. (I call it the marinating phase.) And then they expose my face to a strong light source that reacts with the medicine and kills the bad cells. (I call that the cooking phase.) So this week I had it done. 

Alan - before pdt
Post Marinade and Cooking phase

The marinating phase went off without a hitch. The technician cleans your face really good, finished off by a rinse with alcohol, and then spreads the cream on  your face and then I waited for an hour. And then I put some goggles on and stuck my face inside the light device and she turned it on and wow, was it bright, and hot. The reaction with the skin starts right away and the lights also make it heat hot and it was getting a little intolerable and then she gave me a fan to hold and direct upward and that got rid of the heat generated by the light and the stinging from the chemical got better in a few minutes.

Pro Tip 1: If you go through this, I highly recommend a small fan you can hold in your hand. It made all the difference in the world to me.

This baking phase only lasted 16 minutes and it passed fairly quickly. Then the tech shut off the light and wiped my face off with cold water which felt pretty darned good. She had an outstanding suggestion for any post treatment burning and tingling. 

Pro Tip 2: Get some Aloe Vera gel and put it in the refrigerator! That was her outstanding suggestion and it worked. I love aloe vera gel anyway but when you put it on your burning skin and it is refrigerated,it stopped the burning cold.

So for 40 hours afterward I have to stay out of the sun, and away from windows and even strong lights. In about a month I will go back to see Dr. V for an evaluation and I am told and I read that often a second round is necessary so maybe I’ll get marinated and cooked again. 

I am extremely thankful for therapies like this that prevent malignant cancers and I am also still amazed at health care in this country where if you are employed and have insurance, or if you are on medicare, life is good, and if you don’t have insurance, well your goose is cooked.

Want to know more? Check out this article for some good information and you can type “Photodynamic Therapy” in your favorite search engine to find out even more.

In the meantime, I will be switching even more from baseball style caps to wide brim styles. Anybody know of a wide brim bicycle helmet? I can run with a wide brim hat, that is no problem. I will also be seeing Dr. V at least twice a year for the rest of my life. 

Pro Tip 3: If you are having skin problems go see a dermatologist. One that is a lot younger than you. You don’t need them retiring just when you need them the most.

Pearl Harbor – 77 Years Later

world war two image
Courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum – Flickr Commons

On the morning of December 7, 1941 the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by 353 Aircraft from six aircraft carriers of the Japanese Navy. 

world war two pearl harbor

Courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum – Flickr Commons

Eight American battleships were damaged, four of them sunk. All but the USS Arizona were raised and six returned to service. Three cruisers, three destroyers, and a couple of other ships were damaged or sunk as well and 188 aircraft destroyed. 

world war two pearl harbor

Courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum – Flickr Commons

The Japanese lost 29 aircraft and five midget submarines. It was a huge success for the Imperial Navy except that there were no United States aircraft carriers in the harbor. You see, even then the big battleships although impressive were already outdated. From then on there were very few ship to ship battles, the major battles were carried out by aircraft from over the horizon.

world war two pearl harbor

Courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum – Flickr Commons

The most devastating loss was the lives lost. 2403 American lives were lost and 1178 injured. The attack sent shockwaves through America. The Japanese intended the attack to ward off American interference in Japan’s imperialist plans for southeast Asia and of course it had just the opposite effect. America declared war and three and a half years later defeated Japan.

--world war ii hawaii pearl harbor attack----

Courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum – Flickr Commons

America has never done well it seems to me when we retreat inside ourselves and declare America First! When we retreat like that, other countries flex their muscles and move into the vacuum that we leave. 


Several years ago I got to cross a major item off my bucket list when we visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.  It was an unexpectedly emotional place for me seeing the sunken ship underneath the memorial and realizing how many people had died there. Usually I am clicking away with my camera but I only took one or two shots on the Memorial, I put the camera away and tried to think about what happened.


We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the sailors, marines, soldiers and others who died that day.  

Skywatch Friday – Early December Edition

Skwatch - plaza 1-Edit

This is a view from the office. Back on standard time and the days getting shorter we are starting to get more colorful skies.  One of the very few benefits of losing daylight savings time as far as I am concerned.


Speaking of daylight savings time, I come across this sun dial recently that was an hour off. What’s up with that? How do you adjust it. That thing is grouted in. I thought I could discreetly rotate it to get the time right but it is not budging.

So that’s about it for this week. I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – The Return of Rascal


Tuesday morning the sun was coming up in the neighborhood and so I grabbed a leaf and occluded the sun with it. I am an arty kind of guy you know. Especially the easy kind of art like this. I don’t think of it as being lazy, I think it is being efficient.

Cache Valley Topaz Studio HDR

On my way out of the neighborhood I stopped at the greenbelt and snapped another pic of the sunrise.  The greenbelt starts close to our back fence and loops around to the road I am stood on to take this photo.

Sunday night during our front that moved through with strong winds and icy temperatures we noticed that our Pomeranian, Rascal had disappeared. Further notice showed that our gate to the greenbelt had blown open with the wind. So I was walking in the pitch dark with a flashlight yelling “Rascal” over and over. Heather had started in a different direction doing the same thing. 

Rascal the #pomeranian #dogs #dogsoninstagram #igersok

I left the greenbelt and was looking for the dog on a street when Heather picked me up and dropped me off at the house so I could enlist social media to help. I put together a facebook post and sent it off and then a similar NextDoor  post. It was pretty amazing. We started getting responses right away and it turns out that Rascal had walked up to a couple putting up Christmas Tree lights and they took him in and posted something on facebook that somebody else reposted on next door and then somebody else let me know about the other post, and we were re-united fairly quickly which was kind of amazing because I thought we had lost him for good. Say what you want about Social Media but I like it and it does have its uses.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

An Afternoon at Woolaroc

Elk right at the entrance. He acted a little aloof.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I took brother Bob from Tennessee and my son Logan to Woolaroc about an hour north of Tulsa. Woolaroc is a combined wildlife preserve and art museum that used to be the retreat of Frank Philips, the founder of Phillips Petroleum. It is fabulous and is literally out in the middle of nowhere but worth it to get there. Check on the link above and it will tell you all about how to get there, hours, and everything else you need to know.

Bison 2

A bison chilling out on a warm November afternoon

On our drive in a bunch of bison were leaving. I don’t know if they knew something we didn’t.


The museum was all decked out for Christmas. That is Frank Phillips’ statue next to the tree. I told Logan to go see if any of those wrapped packages had my name on it, but he doesn’t listen to me any more. I don’t blame him.


Lots of great art in the museum. “The Trail of Tears” by Robert Lindneaux is one of my favorites depicting  the forced removal of Native Americans from the southeast USA to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma.  


In addition to art there is some historical memorabilia of Phillips Petroleum and the energy industry in general. 


And then we wandered over to the barn to look at the critters there. My favorite was this shy miniature horse. 


And then over to the Lodge where Frank entertained his cronies. Lots of stories about high stakes poker with oil leases and even companies won and lost during the course of an evening.


On the way out of town I got a shot of Bob in front of this 66 sign. Bob turned 66 the day before.

By the way, the building behind the sign is the Price Tower, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is the only high rise designed by Wright, that actually got built. Read more about it here.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Brother Bob’s Birthday – Celebrating 66 on Route 66

The great photographer of the family tells them, you guys stand here and I will go across the street. Well, that  didn’t work out well.

Brother Bob came over from Tennessee to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. His birthday is right around that  time as well and he was talking about Turning 66 on Route 66. That sounded good to me so on Black Friday we including son Logan went on a phototour

So I moved in closer, and no sign of the Meadow Gold sign and what’s worse is that I cut off their feet!

We went to a few Route 66 sites in Tulsa.

Okay, I will take this at Cyrus Avery Plaza. Note how Logan towers over his uncle.
Poor guys, I cut off their feet again.
The eternal debate, stand together? or flank the sculpture? I don’t know.

On to Route 66 Village in west Tulsa. A gigantic locomotive on display there. Logan is taller than the wheels! I can still take him though. I just hope I don’t have to prove it some day.


In front of the train. Not too bad. Not too good. It is what it is.

Bob Birthday Collage 2 2018

So Bob, Logan, and I had our #OptOutside black Friday on a stretch of Route 66 in Tulsa. We also ate some Chili Cheese Coney Dogs and ventured to the Philbrook Museum of Art to kind of balance things out. Later on  some birthday cake. 

Thanksgiving 2018

Nana and Heather

We had a small group for Thanksgiving this year. Just me, my wife, Heather, her Mom, Nana, and my brother Bob who drove over from Tennessee. We Nana’s two bratty dogs and reclusive cat. We left our three bratty mutts and two spoiled cats at home. Yes, we are bad critter parents.


It was low key. Nana did most of the cooking except for the chicken and ribs. I smoked them the day before. We had lots to eat.

Brother Bob

I went to bed Wednesday night not feeling well and it got worse before it got better later the next morning. 

Fiona doing her best grin. Didn’t work, no ribs or chicken for her!!

Brother Bob and I watched a lot of football. We saw Chicago beat the Detroit Lions and then later on we watched the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins. You know I wasn’t a hundred percent because I did not have one beer during the game, or all day for that matter.


I’m a geocacher and so while on a gas run I found a cache. You have to be sneaky like this if you want to be a geocacher. I have almost 1600 and I am trying to get to 2000 before the end of 2019. So I have to be sneaky. By the way the cache above is a special type called a skirt lifter because they are hidden under the skirts of parking lot lights.


I eventually felt good enough to have two or three “half glasses” of wine. You know a half glass doesn’t really count right?

Anyway, it was low key but we were together and that made it great!!

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving as well.

I was very grateful for my family today. 

November Skywatch


We have had a lot of cool days with blue skies lately and I have spent as much time as I can outdoors. Above is a tree that has already lost all of its leaves at Tulsa’s Mohawk Park.


In a more forested part of the park there are a lot more leaves, and a lot less bugs and snakes than just a month ago.


Some more blue sky from a lunchtime excursion into a slot canyon at Chandler Park.


And some leaves and blue sky at Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area. 

Have a Great Thanksgiving Day!! And spend some time outside if you can.  

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

I Don’t Need that Kind of Negativity


Friday morning I was getting coffee and I noticed the old abandoned Oral Roberts Ministries building just south of downtown Tulsa. It used to be called the Abundant Life Building. It has another owner now and they have not done anything and it just keeps getting seedier and seedier looking. 


Friday at noon found me scrambling over these rocks looking for a geocache in the slot canyons of Chandler Park.  I didn’t find it but I had a good time. This time of year is when I like look for caches like this because the snakes are dormant. 


This tree with Fall Color charmed deep in the canyon I was in. I am always amazed at how life seeks to survive.


On a little outing on Saturday I came upon this gravestone. I like gravestones with a personal touch.


Near one of Tulsa’s latest big box shopping centers I come upon this hidden pond.  I love little things like this in an urban area. Nature is never too far away. We trip and stumble and she’ll  take over.


Turn 180 degrees from the pond and I see this. An SUV from Idaho struck strangely on a Uhaul car cradle. I still don’t know how it ended up like this. It looks like it had been there a while. I ventured up and looked in the windows halfway expecting a body but nope. It looks like it has been there for a while. Sometimes it is amazing how many out of the way places there are even in the big city. Where stuff happens away from prying eyes.


I wandered a short distance away to a hardware store where I saw these snowblowers on display. You know, I don’t need this kind of negativity here in Oklahoma. 

I am linking with Our World Tuesday