Category Archives: Life

LaCoronaVida #6

I’ve been trying out my new pair of running shoes by actually running in them. I still consider myself a runner even though I have been walking the past couple years.

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So I am doing the run/walk thing and it is working for me. I am not winded doing it, my leg muscles are out of shape. So I run for a while, and then walk until I feel like trotting again. Going about 2 miles in the neighborhood streets and averaging about 14 to 15 minutes per mile. Pretty slow I know but I am working up.

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The golf courses are open and that is good to see. If any outdoor sport could be safe it would be golf, with a few rules changes.

My updated Covid 19 stats for Oklahoma. I am using Google’s “Slides” app. Their equivalent to Powerpoint. I am trying to figure out if I should do the Office 365 thing and get Powerpoint, Excel, Word, and Access. I love the software but the cheapest plan is $70 per year. I kind of like free and as long as free meets my needs then I’ll keep using it. What do you think?

Back to the data. The governor kept telling us that as long as new infections continued their decline he would enter phase two of the reopening and as you can see, new infections are not declining so he has new metrics to go by. Typical politician move.

How are things where you live?

LaCoronaVida #5 – Things are Getting Squirrely

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I was on the patio this morning and this fat little toad of a squirrel was eating all the bird food. It has three siblings and they are very active except when the neighborhood hawk is nosing around then they stay where they are flattened to a branch or a ground until long after Mr. Hawk leaves the area.

With this pandemic thing raging Heather has really amped up her green thumb working hard on both her and her mother’s garden. So for Mother’s Day from Logan and I, I picked out this fountain, ordered it online and picked it up early this morning and had it all assembled up and going by the time she work up. I guess some could say I spoiled her surprise and I would say that I just changed the timing of it. Nothing like the sounds of water in a garden is what I say. I like the contactless curbside pickup at Lowe’s. You order it, they tell you when it is ready, you drive to the store and phone them that I am there and they bring it out and put it in the back. Nice and safe for everybody.

I am going to start running again so I went to the running store and got some new kicks. Arahi’s by Hoka. I googled “Arahi” and the only thing that pops up are these shoes. It sounds like it should mean something somewhere, besides shoes I mean. I liked what the store was doing. Only one customer at a time inside and me and the lady who helped me were wearing masks.

The local grocery store by contrast was bad. The staff had masks and plexiglass shields. I would guestimate only 10% of the customers were wearing a mask and physical distancing was inadequate in many areas. I guess that many of my fellow Okies have lost their will to live.

I got summoned to MIL’s house. She had a smoke alarm out and so you know the first thing is figuring out which one of the ones she had are out. That took a little bit. I only had two batteries otherwise I would have changed them all. She is going to get some more batteries and then I’ll change the rest of them.

I hope that everybody is staying safe.

LaCorona Vida #4

I’m still #WFH (“Working From Home”) in twitter/instagram speak. Mostly retirement paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork. My home office is a mess. I’m going to have to get some file storage that works.

Other than that getting lots of reading done. I read “American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & the Oklahoma City Bombing” by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck. What a story told from McVeigh’s point of view. From war hero to bum. Killed 168 people because he was mad about government overreach. He didn’t care about the innocent people. Collateral damage as far as he was concerned.

So the wife has been gardening and I’ve helped her here and there. And I’ve been flying my drone when the wind allows. It’s fun and easy.

As you can tell I am not a very smooth pilot. Fortunately the drone stays still while I am trying to figure out what to do.

And we are eating lots of ice cream. Rose Rock is a store based close to downtown Tulsa. They hand make their ice cream and they deliver!! Life can’t be too bad if you are eating ice cream is what I say.

Here’s my latest Covid-19 Update for Oklahoma. Deaths are not declining, new cases are going up, hospitalizations are going down. What’s it all mean? You tell me.

Stay cool and safe folks!!

LaCorona Vida #1

Our family has been isolated since the middle of March. Our son is here with us since his college closed their campus and went totally online. The gyms where Heather works shut down and my work sent me home with my high tech laptop and low tech job all about the same time.

You know something, it hasn’t been bad. We are blessed we know, lots of our friends are out of a job or on furlough and they still have mortgage and car payments to make. So I count our blessings but not too loudly. Logan has been doing his classes online, Heather has been taking exercise classes online. I haven’t done that, yet. I am missing yoga and so I guess that I’ll take my first online yoga class soon.

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I’ve done numerous laps of the 3 mile Lafortune Park trail. We used to take Rascal the Pomeranian with us but no more. The weather was a little warm and humid and I had to call Heather at about the two mile mark to come rescue us. Rascal was gasping for breath and me helping him wasn’t helping him so Heather came and scooped him up into the air conditioned car with the AC on full blast on him and took him home to cool off. He’s fine but he is done with Lafortune Park this year.

I’ve learned to love curbside pickup. I show my ID when requested and they never question it.

Like many people I have been tracking the stats on the Coronavirus. I have been using the seven day trailing average just like the State of Oklahoma does and unlike them I don’t see a big reduction that our governor used to open the State up. I get it though, when do we come out of isolation? Our economy needs to get going again but at what cost? Here in Oklahoma, I can tell you, as a fact, that many oil producers cannot find anybody to buy their oil. Why? Because demand has plummeted, and storage is full. Many producers are telling their pumpers to flow the wells until the lease tanks are full and then shut them in. Pretty wild.

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You couple all that with my retirement coming up June 1 and this makes for exciting times. I will probably retire without going to the office. I’ll have to to retrieve my crap that I accumulated over time, personal items like photographs and such. Usually one gets a little reception in a conference room for a couple hours. I have been dreading it because I thought nobody would show up, so now I don’t have to worry about it. I might have been surprised though cuz both HR and my Leader have asked me if it was okay if they gave out my contact data because people have been wanting it. Probably bill collectors, right? No, not right, so that made me feel good.

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The big tall tower is a demethanizer and the three little towers are molecular sieves. Plant to extract ethane, propane, butane, and gasoline out of natural gas. I love this stuff. The truck in the lower middle of the photo is an Xray truck to check welding quality. Except they use Gamma Rays instead of Xrays cuz xrays don’t penetrate metal.

I started out in the energy business 43 years ago. I wanted a month off after graduation but no, my employer, Mobil Oil Corporation, had a bunch of new people and they wanted them all in the office in Houston on a certain date to get them processed all at once so that left me just a week or so. I got to see my mother cry at our house in Albuquerque as I pulled out one morning headed to Texas to help America solve her energy problems.

I can’t complain though, again I was blessed. I was always able to shape my jobs to something that worked for me. I’ve had 45 bosses in my 43 years and I think 43 of them have really looked out for me. Seriously, do you know anybody else with luck like that? In the energy business???

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So anyway, leaving the energy biz as matter of factually as I got into it suits me fine. This work at home has given me a glimpse of what retirement might look like and I think it will work. I find that I actually enjoy my wife and son’s company.

I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next in my life. I am looking forward to continuing to tutor first and second graders in reading, helping environmental organizations, and spending time with Heather, and reading, lots and lots of reading, geocaching, hiking, bicycling, maybe starting running again, and traveling.

I’m a lucky guy.

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..

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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. 

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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!!

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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. 

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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 Medicine.net 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.

Online Life – Closer to Home

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The photos in this post have nothing to do with the subject. I like breaking things up a little bit.

You know I really enjoy the internet. I love facebook, even the political posts. I adore Instagram. I live on Instagram. I have my own account (@yogiab) and I post on two other accounts administered by the Tulsa RiverParks Authority (@riverparks and @turkeymountain). I have a twitter account (@alanbbates) and linked in and so on. Of course I have this blog and I administer the Skywatch Friday photo meme and I just love it all. Maybe too much. I have looked at it as a addition to instead of replacement of a social life. Of course I don’t really have a social life so I may be just fooling myself.

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Things though are changing with the internet. We have a President who loves to tweet without too much thought about what he says. He just types it out and lets it fly. We have the new gizmos like Amazon Electra devices that are always on and can supposedly help you out with all sorts of things. I wonder just where things are going. It seems that blogs are getting phased out by twitter and Instagram. I get a lot more people “liking” my Instagram posts than read my blog posts. (I do love it when people read my blog posts and love it even more when they comment on them.)

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The internet has intruded on my life (or maybe its the other way around) in new ways this week. I have had a bad hay fever bout the last week and a half and over the years I have figured out how to handle them but this time it progressed to a sinus infection. Okay, still no big deal and then suddenly on Wednesday it got into my ears. Time to go see a doctor. Well guess what, my doctor is on vacation this week and I was told to call the next morning, first thing to see if I could be “squeezed” in sometime the next day. Hmmm that didn’t sound good. I hate urgent care places. My employer sponsors a clinic but it was getting late in the day. So I tried our insurance company’s online providers.

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They gave me the choice of two of them so I picked “Amwell” and it took about two hours as somebody somewhere was having technical issues but when I finally hooked up with the company doctor it went fairly well. She was very nice and unhurried and asked a bunch of questions that gave me confidence that she knew what she was doing. So she ended up writing me a prescription that she emailed to my pharmacy. All of that only cost me a $5 copay.

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The next thing is that I needed a small job done. The privacy fence between us our and neighbor is wobbly. I got with my neighbor and I was talking to him about maybe we could reset the fence posts and all that and he looked at me and said “Alan, I am not really into manual labor any more.” Which was great news to me because I am not either. I set my share of fence posts 45 years ago working for free for my Dad on pasture in Arizona and then later, getting paid, as a summer roustabout for Mobil Oil in the Permian Basin. I knew that it was going to be a lot of work digging down to the concrete and then breaking it out and resetting the post if the post were good or putting a new post in if the old one were rotten.

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My neighbor got laid off and found another job out of state and has a contract on his house and is hip deep in projects he needs done before he can close so I told him that I would find somebody to do the job. Do you know how hard that is now? Used to be everybody knew somebody who could do odd jobs at a fair price. I lived in a town north of Houston and I needed my house painted. Somebody told me to call this guy. The guy turned out to be an undocumented (cuz I don’t like calling people illegal) and he said he would do it for $400 plus the cost of the paint. I asked him how long it would take him and he said one day. So I said okay. Turned out he was an Assembly of God preacher and he and a bunch of guys from his church painted the exterior of my house in one day and did a great job.

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So where are these guys? I looked at the online services such as Angie’s list and was a little leary and when I checked further I got really leary. They charge the handyman a stiff price for the “lead” whether I hire the dude or not. So they are not really into estimates. They want hired to do the job and I don’t blame them. I wanted an estimate though since I was representing both me and my neighbor and I don’t mind paying for somebody’s labor. I just want to know what I am getting into. So I found a guy and he came out and made all the right noises and is going to get back with me and so we will see.

This online world is going to go on whether I like it or not and I can tell you that I have been around long enough to know that fighting change is futile. I am not a gung hoe embrace change kind of guy but I am a “choose how you deal with it” kind of guy. It just seems like we are losing the personal touch now days. The glue that binds us together. Things are so contentious and snarky and in your face.

So I’ll go along with these changes but I am going to do my best to make them on my terms and maintain my humanity and concern for others.

Alrighty, I’ll get off my soap box for now.

That Time of Year

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We fell back yesterday, which is fine for a Sunday. Today was a long day at work and when I left it was dark and rainy. It makes me want to hibernate until Spring. So now I will go to work in the dark and leave.

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I’ll have to go back to running in the dark for my Wednesday night runs.

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And I doubt that I’ll go run the night trail runs on Turkey Mountain any longer. I feel too much. When I fell i didn’t just stumble and fall I mean I pancaked. I probably set off seisometers.

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Speaking of seisometers. We had an earthquake here in Oklahoma. It was very near Cushing which is a big oil hub in North America. It is where the international benchmark “West Texas Intermediate” is set.  Not a good place for an earthquake.

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Many people in Oklahoma, whether in the industry or not, are not happy with our Governor, (who once called earthquakes “Freedom Shakes”) and her merry band of idiots.

Oh well,

 

The Debate

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I don’t know about you but the debate gave me a headache.  The Dallas Cowboys won Sunday night though. I’m glad I didn’t join any of the drinking games associated with the debate. I feel that I wasted my time watching it.

My Big Day!

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We had a little legal matter to attend to Thursday at our courthouse, me, the wife, and the kid. Nobody is in trouble, not in the slightest, just one of those things we had to do. So we all showed up and met our attorney who briefed on what was going to happen. So when the time came we went into the courtroom and raised our hands for the oath,  and talked with the judge about this that and the other. She asked questions and we answered them and then we signed some stuff and she signed some stuff and we left. We were feeling really good about the whole thing.

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And then we followed our attorney down to the second floor to the clerks office and all the things we signed and the judge signed were copied and stamped and initialed and examined and talked about and discussed. And then we moved away from the counter to another counter and our attorney was explaining this and that and when this and that needed to happen and what we had to do for this form and for that form and we were like okay,

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And while all this was going on one of the clerks working there came up and and whispered very quietly in my ear, “Sir, your pants are blown out in the back.”  And then she walked off.

Uh okay, so I stood there and listed to the lawyer finish up her spiel, and then we all three walked back through the courthouse, down to the street, and two blocks back to the parking garage. I was feeling the breeze the whole time if you know what I mean.

 

Labyrinths, etc

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I was out and about and decided to go find a geocache at a local church. Right close to the cache was a Labyrinth and some instructions on how to use it. A labyrinth is not like a maze in that there are no choices to make or puzzles to solve. You follow the maze to the middle and then go back the way you came. It is presented as an aid to prayer. I’m okay with that. I googled Christianity and Labyrinths and boy talk about controversy. 

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In New Orleans I went briefly into the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, King of France. It is quite the building and the sanctuary is spectacular.

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Geocaching in north Tulsa I come across another church. Lots more humble but they are trying just as hard, if not harder.

I am fascinated by the creativeness of people and the differences between people and how in spite of the differences their are so many things that bind us together.