Buster Dozer

Buster Dozer
Buster and Dozer are each one of a kind.

Bees are the source of all happyDay Farm's goodness.

Bees are the source of all happyDay Farm's goodness.
The bees work overtime here on the farm.

Self-portait

Self-portait
Life is a balance...

Humming bird right out the back door.

Humming bird right out the back door.
I do experience my share of luck, when it comes to being in the right place at the right time.

Music fuels my mind and rocks my soul.

Music fuels my mind and rocks my soul.
If you cannot feel the music you are listening to deep in your soul, then change the dial.

One red leaf, stealing the show from the moon.

One red leaf, stealing the show from the moon.
Moon power!

Bernie for President

Bernie for President
Bernie Sanders rocks.

Biggee Fats gets patriotic and joins the army.

Biggee Fats gets patriotic and joins the army.
Private Fats, Biggee, reporting for duty, Sir! Can you direct me to the mess hall?

The braids

The braids
My sister, JT, and I, back in the day..

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

markyboy1231@hotmail.com

Friday, April 29, 2016

Tech for Tots or Lost in [Cyber] Space-Episode 4

This is the fourth in a series of episodes, chronicling the shocking disappearance of the blog, "Mark's Work," thought at first to be simply overcome by cannabis, and certain to be found at the nearest pizza parlor. How wrong we all were and there's nothing more that needs to be said, except for maybe a generic statement of a techie nature. No more than twenty volumes. Hopefully. 

Tech for Tots  or
Lost in [Cyber] Space-Episode 4

“I’ve flown around the world in a plane,
I’ve settled revolutions in Spain
And the North Pole I have charted,
Still I can’t get started with you…”

The lyrics pretty much sum up the sad state of affairs for me, when it came to making the transition from my “old gray mare” of a computer, Terra Jean, to my sleek new filly, known forever more as Suzy Puente. I mean, they both LOOK identical from the outside so it’s deceiving. 

On the other hand, being the eternal optimist, I wanted so hard to believe that it was just about following a series of baby steps, kind of like the film, What about Bob? that I would have sold the town of Mendocino for a handful of brightly colored glass beads.

“Hey, I survived teaching 37 eighth graders in the same language arts class, and lived to brag about it. Well, there HAVE been a couple of lingering side effects from that experience, but I’m here to say that after ten years, I have reduced the number of days per week that I see my therapist from five to four, and she insists that I am making progress, despite what others may believe. 

How hard can this be?” I asked myself, pragmatically.

“I don’t know,” the universe might have replied. “How hard is it to recalibrate the specs on the fuel injection system on the latest model Lamborghini? You have about the same level of ability with both of them…”

“Ah ha!” I might have countered, “but the clerk at the computer store assured me that I could handle this. He wouldn’t steer me wrong, would he?” I beamed brightly.

“No, he didn't steer you wrong-it was more like a nudge with a cattle prod…” Weird. The universe sounds surprisingly like Annie.

“Look, ask JT-she’ll tell you. All I have to do is let my fingers do the talking while they hook up the external hard drive that I got for a measly $70.00, push the button called Time Machine on Terra Jean and fire up the bong. Kind of boring, actually. Besides, I have a secret weapon.”

“Really?” inquired the universe sweetly. “You hired Steve Wozniak? How nice.”

Refusing to take the bait, I reached instead for the magic button that activated the Time Machine procedure, and then reached for the phone.

Joe Cool (not his real name) picked up after the second ring and I identified myself tentatively, reminding him about our conversation out on the terrace below Casey’s house. Instead of vehemently denying it, and slamming down the receiver (which is devilishly difficult on a cell phone), to my surprise he said right away that he DID remember, and what could he do for me?

I’m not surprised he remembered me, but I was a bit taken aback that he was willing to admit it.

The result of our telephone conversation found Joe pulling his [not-white] pickup into my compound the following Tuesday. We had agreed that he would rise at his normal time, take care of a few phone calls and head on up to the farm.

We had discussed a couple of logistical questions, such as Joe’s fee. “Seventy-five dollars an hour,” he had said.

Cheap at twice the price…if I can get my blog back.

I had dutifully copied all of the data from Terra Jean onto the external hard drive, using the Time Machine program, flushed with the thrill of victory at this first critical step. 

It may have been just one button that I pushed but it was the RIGHT button

I will admit to being a little disconcerted when high fives were not exchanged with Joe upon this crucial revelation, but I recovered quickly. 

We had no more settled into place in front of the two computers, happily ensconced on the broad dining room table, when I casually asked a key question,”Will we be using the Thunderbolt, Time Capsule or the Mountain Lion program?” Buddha, I sounded like I knew what I was talking about. “I mean I considered the Snow Leopard approach, but discarded it because of the OS factor. You know, 10.6 versus 10.7.”

I had no idea what these components were but I was certain Joe did. I had spent fifteen minutes practicing asking the question, and it sounded so techie! I got this!” I thought smugly.

Joe had listened carefully to my calculated question, obviously impressed that I was so much more sophisticated than he might have thought, and responded quickly.

“Par la prĂ©sente Apple Inc declare que l’appareil MacBook Pro est conforme aux exigences essentielles et aux autres dispositions pertinentes de la directive 1999/5/Ce.”

I nodded in comprehension. I had assured Joe that I would be straightforward with him and let him know when I didn’t understand something.

But hey, so far, we seemed to be speaking the same language.

I continued on, saying matter-of-factly, “You know, that migration assistant copies all your files so you don’t have to do it manually, especially when you use that Time Capsular external drive.”

Joe nodded, obviously struck by the intelligence reflected in the comment. Recovering from the blow, he nonetheless was able to say, “I’m concerned about getting your blog back. This may be trickier than I thought.”

I stared at Joe uncomprehendingly. “Dude, this is no time to start getting technical on me. I didn’t understand a word of what you just said. It’s as if you are suddenly speaking French.”

Joe suddenly flashed that quick, confident smile and said, “No worries. I’ll translate.” He slowed down and made eye contact with me. “I can’t see why all we can get is the M. Damien blog, and not the Mark’s Work blog. Have you ever had a different email address?”

Hallelujah! Right language, right question, right time… 

I leaped all over that stuff, “Yes, I had a hotmail account when I started the blog, and changed it to g-mail when I got hacked. It was kind of weird because my friends all started getting emails saying that I was being held hostage in Spain and would be released when $2000.00 had been delivered. ‘Course, all I could think about was that two grand wasn’t very much loot to demand for, well, never mind…”

Joe looked excited and quickly responded, “Pour des performances optimales, connected voter bisque au port USB  3.0 bleu.”

“This tech lingo is the pits,” I whined. “Can you put that in a different way, maybe simpler, and a little slower, so that I can understand it?”

Joe thought for a moment and said, “Let me try this. All I need is the email address itself, and the password to that account, of course, and I think we can get your blog back.”  

“Email address? Password? To my first email account? The one I haven’t used in four years? Did you also want me to recite the lines I memorized in eighth grade, for the Christmas play? I have about the same chance of remembering them as I do the other.” 

“I see,” he muttered, and it was painfully obvious that he did see. He tried to conceal it, but I began to see the writing on the wall, indelibly scrawled with a broad-tipped Sharpie.


But hey, it was time to eat lunch and Annie had cooked for the crew, so I drifted off to a venue where I knew I could succeed, and relaxed. Joe had brought a sandwich which he would eat in his own good time, so he busied himself over the keyboard, his fingers seemingly traveling at the same speed as the information being conveyed by the world-wide internet on the machine in front of him.

His goal, by the time he had left late in the afternoon, was to have at least gotten me into my face/book account, my email account, and to have gotten me access to my photos, all on Suzy Puente. He would go home and work on the blog thing “by sending out a couple of emails.” 

“Great success!” I enthused, as Joe got ready to go. 

He cautioned me. “So I can’t guarantee anything, you know. Keep thinking about the name of that email account and the password. That would help a lot.”

“No problem,” I lied.

Think about the password? I done backed up that truck so far already, it plum fell into the quarry.

“I’m prepared for the worst if it can’t be recovered. For the moment, it’s enough that I have social media and my pics. I can always start a new blog and link it to the old one.”

Sure, and Dozer hates it when I force him to eat pieces of my ribeye steak, taken off of my plate at dinner, while he lurks under the table, cleverly concealed by the antique white table cloth covering the dining room table.

Ok, so it was another whopper. On the outside I told Joe that I knew how these things worked, certainly the biggest whopper of them all, and that he shouldn’t spend any more time than that which had already been allocated. 

And we left it at that, agreeing to meet one day the following week.


Tomorrow: Meltdown

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tech for Tots or Lost in [Cyber] Space-Episode 3

This is the third in a series of episodes, chronicling the shocking disappearance of the blog, "Mark's Work," thought at first to be simply overcome by cannabis, and certain to be found at the nearest pizza parlor. How wrong we all were and there's nothing more that needs to be said, except for maybe a generic statement of a techie nature. No more than twenty volumes. Hopefully. 

Tech for Tots  or
Lost in [Cyber] Space-Episode 3

I was turning the ground over on one of the terraces well below Casey’s house one day in late March, with my headphones blasting a Walter Meego number into my welcoming ears, when I became aware that someone was approaching. 


I took the opportunity to pause on one leg, doing my best Ian Anderson impression, while bending down and slipping off my OSHA-approved right sandal. I needed to give it a couple of thwacks against my pitchfork to encourage the accumulated clay and pebbles to vacate the premises. 

Annie had cryptically asked me when I first started working the soil, if I weren’t worried about putting the pitchfork right through my sandaled foot. She didn’t come right out and say I was an imbecile-she’s much too diplomatic for that.

I had replied that since I was in the habit of avoiding putting the pitchfork through my foot when it was more properly booted, I figured I could follow that same reasoning wearing sandals, and be good to go. She didn’t argue but the expression on her face clearly said, “Just remember, we’re an hour away from the ER room.” Oh ye of little faith…

I like to think that I can travel through life avoiding those situations like  impaling my foot with one of the pitchfork tines, and so far I have been successful in that endeavor. 

What I was unable to avoid was the web of dependence I formed around my computer, Terra Jean, and how much I grew to rely on her for my connection to the outer world. The years from 2005 when I retired, until I did my seven sessions of therapy in 2010 to rid myself of panic attack syndrome, are nothing more than a blur.

And no, it was not a cannabis-induced blur, so much as a fog that served the same purpose as a wall: It kept me in isolation, which is a slippery slope for someone already inclined to be reclusive.   

I had no access to the internet and without a keyboard, I wrote nothing, blissfully willing to simply drift. I built a workshop by myself, somewhere in there, but that’s about all I can remember.

That and the fact that I always grew tomatoes and six cannabis plants each summer.


Matters changed when Casey bought me a used laptop for my birthday in September of 2010, and the dam of accumulated words that had been building inside my mind for forty-some years, burst.

It made a hell of a mess so I started a blog to try and contain it all. 

Though that used lappie was only a temporary measure, it served the purpose of launching me into a whole new world, one that included countless numbers of friends, both old and new. Many of these I thought I never would see again, so the reconnecting with family, both that formed by blood and that molded through life’s events, has been a galvanizing process for this old hippie.

Whereas I might tend to think that encountering one’s middle school language arts teacher would be one’s worst nightmare, such has not proven to be the case. Former students have been unconditionally welcoming, believing as I do and recognizing from their advanced [respective] perspectives, that there was never anything personal in the whole process.

Their job in middle school was to question authority; my job was to provide a safe environment so that learning could take place. 

I'm still learning myself-how to use a camera, for one thing. I like to takes pics of birds and flowers and sunsets. It's a clear case of a little knowledge being dangerous, because now I want to be able to do more than Terra Jean is allowing me to do.

So it is thus now, in my advanced age of 63, that Terra Jean became more than a tool; she has become my lifeline to the outside world. That lifeline has grown larger than life, necessitating that I do anything possible to preserve it including-shudder-upgrading my technology.

The very thought is enough to terrify me more than any Federal Task Force ever did. I am not a fan of being by myself, either within my own home, or cyber-spatially, so any change in the status quo frightens me more than any helicopter ever did. *

I named Terra Jean accordingly for a diabolically simple reason: My sister is Jean Terese, or JT, and she gave me my computer-brand spanking new- to keep me from beating myself to death with my old one. Wanting to name it after her, but not wanting to confuse the issue by having to refer to JT the sister and JT the computer, I reversed the two monikers, and named her Terra Jean. 

And now the old girl “ain’t what she used to be,” and needed to be replaced. 


Jerking my mind back onto that terrace below Casey’s house, a more challenging process than it used to be, I saw a man standing there who was a bit taller than I am, thin and willowy, a guy who was visiting Casey and Amber. He’d been introduced to me earlier as Joe Cool (not his real name) and we had exchanged pleasantries. 

Instinctively reaching down with my left hand, I eased the volume down about a dozen or so notches on my Pandora station, and greeted him with a cheery, “Top o’ the morning to you!”

“And to you,” he said, beaming as he gazed admiringly at my work. “I envy you because I have always wanted to be able to grow like this and work the soil. You guys have a good thing going here.”

“Yeah, the kids have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this farm and it’s nothing short of a great success,” I willingly agreed. “I’m just happy that I am still in good enough shape to be able to lend them a hand, especially since the weather is being so cooperative.”

“Now! Ask him about MacBookPros! This is the perfect opportunity! 

There was that little voice again, the one that battles incessantly with the other two tracks in my mind for attention: one track providing music and the other for composing written pieces of work. It’s efficient to have all of this going on at the same time in one place, but it does make things a tad chaotic.

The little voice was a reminder that Annie had mentioned in passing-a trifle too casually-that Joe did work on Macs, should the need ever arise. And there was that annoying message appearing every time I woke Terra Jean up, the one about updates and the "Mac OS X 10.6, 10.blah, 10.bling, 10.you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me, blah, blah, and finally BLAH."

This is it! It ain’t going to get any better than this! March is almost over! Though April 1st is April Fools Day, that message on Terra Jean is no joke. She’s going to crash…

You’ve got the fine weather in your favor, that’s for sure. And what a view,” he went on enthusiastically.

Now!

“Hey there, Joe. Rumor has it that you know your way around the inside of a Mac. Any chance that you will cop to that?” 

I did not want to come across as pushy; no point in scaring away the poor sucker.

His face lit up as though he had just ingested an epic bong rip of Lemon Ogre. “It’s what I do for a living,” he said, as nonchalantly as if admitting that he also generally wears a hat, has a couple of cups of coffee of a morning and leaves his cape in the hall closet at home.

“What I had in mind was buying a new MacBookPro and was wondering if I had any trouble transferring the data over, would you be available to help me with that procedure?”

Oh, for Buddha’s sake. IF you have any trouble? IF??? Just tell him you couldn’t do it if your life depended on it and find out if he’s going to demand your first-born son or not…

Mark, it’s what I do,” he responded simply.

“No, I don’t think you understand. My computer is messed up. My biggest problem is that I have lost my blog. I mean, I didn’t lose it-it’s just gone. Oh. And my passwords are hopelessly tangled up. Is that something you can look into?”

Run! Joe! Don’t pass go and don’t-whatever you do-don’t collect $200.00! It ain’t worth it-NOTHING is!

Joe’s smile-if anything-broadened. He repeated just a bit slower than he had above, gently almost, “Mark, it’s what I do.”


Tomorrow: In which Joe and I try to track down specifically how this old hippie managed to infuse that much cannabis into his computer, to have confused her enough to have misplaced “Mark’s Work.” At least, that’s who I am officially blaming…



* For an explanation to this reference to helicopters, see March of 2012, "It Came Out of the Sky" http://markyswrite.blogspot.com/2012/03/it-came-out-of-sky.html

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tech for Tots (Beginners' Version) or Lost in [Cyber] Space-Episode Two



This is the second in a series of episodes, chronicling the shocking disappearance of the blog, "Mark's Work," thought at first to be simply overcome by cannabis, and certain to be found at the nearest pizza parlor. Or possibly the blog was moved by a particularly poignant episode of, "When the Scissors Trim." How wrong we all were and there's nothing more that needs to be said, except for maybe a generic statement of a techie nature. No more than twenty volumes. Hopefully. 

Tech for Tots (Beginners' Version)
or
Lost in [Cyber] Space
Episode Two

“This computer will no longer receive Google Chrome updates because Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 will no longer be supported. Learn more.”

I stared at the message on Terra Jean’s screen in uncomprehending horror, certain that although the words had no meaning to me, they did come with a price tag. High tabs come with the territory, so when an expensive whip breaks down, it’s going to take more than an oil change and lube job to get her on the road again.

Poor Terra Jean, I thought. Going to hell on a tow truck and no longer enjoying the ride, which began almost five years ago when my little sister JT took pity on my tortured soul, and outright bought me a brand new MacBookPro.
My backyard is not that of your conventional tract home.

Since that moment when I strapped the seat belt on and began our journey together, I have known that this time would come, and an engine rebuild was not going to suffice. Not only have I have worn the paint off of seven keys, but I have watched, horrified, as poor TJ toppled off of a chest-high step-ladder out in the backyard, and plummeted upside down in slow motion, without a parachute, landing mouse-pad first on a basketball-sized chunk of rock.

I could Bondo her bruised case and soothe her bruised ego, but there was nothing I could do about the damage to Terra Jean's insides. 

What was TJ doing hanging out in the back yard in the first place? She was providing me with music, back in the Dark Ages before I discovered Pandora on my telephone. As cumbersome as it was, my need for music took precedence over common sense, not one of my stronger suits to begin with, and I had no one to blame but myself for all ensuing difficulties.

The net result of all this calamity is that when my blog disappeared, I recognized that the time had come to commit poor Terra Jean to the wrecking yard and bring in a new model. Issues, there were in four-part harmony, and nothing was going to get the music back on track short of a new computer.

The fact is that I did not “lose” my blog because of Terra Jean’s obsolescence, I lost it because of a combination of improper alignment of the planets and a simultaneous revolt by a handful of rogue computer chips from deep down under my negligence.

At least that is as good of an explanation as any. When it comes to technology, ignorance is bliss and too much information is comparable to consuming one burrito too many at lunch, and will result in technical difficulties of an explosive nature.

So the solution was to fill a wheelbarrow with loot, and trot on down to the greater metropolitan arena of Santa Rosa, where JT and I set out to replace TJ. Proving that combining business with pleasure is always a good idea, my little sister and I spent much of the day together, beginning with our foray into the computer shop to plunk down more than two large in small, unmarked bills, for a new MacBookPro.

The loot had been laboriously accrued over the previous six months, in a variety of ways ranging from-gasp-actually working, to selling chicken eggs to neighbors. Now I was ready to move forward after marking time since last October. I would just waltz into that computer shop like the Pro from Dover, nod sagely at all of the wise advice, plunk down my cabbage and vamoose as quickly as a bobcat from the chicken yard.

Unfortunately, I better resembled the Pro from El Monte.

There was just one insignificant detail that I failed to take fully into consideration when I hatched the plot. Actually there were numerous blatant details that I deliberately ignored out of shear survival, but let’s not get picky here. After all, my grasp of technology is as sure as a thin projection of snow, built up on the tip of a tiny twig. 

The one detail I could not get around was the fact that it was impossible to fake it when it came to the transference of all the applications and data from Terra Jean, to that upstart who was replacing her.

In appearance there was very little difference between the two devices, except that one was laden with 40,000 photos and probably a half-million words, while the other sat there primping and smiling demurely, blissfully unaware of what was in store for her. 

Well, there’ll come a time Suzy Puente.

The knowledgeable and friendly clerk pulled the wool over my gullible eyes so efficiently, that I thanked him for the experience, and walked out with a new computer, a new external hard drive and a glazed expression on my face that had nothing to do with doughnuts.

He said it was as easy as giving a couple of commands and letting Terra Jean’s replacement do the work. “You got this!” he enthused. At least I got the satisfaction out of kicking her tires and nodding definitively at the sales clerk, who cleverly concealed his smirk as he expertly counted my stacks.

I was already writing my inaugural blog post inside my swollen cantaloupe head, detailing how suave and debonaire I was-not to mention jaunty-as I strutted out of that tech shop without stepping on a single land mind and blowing myself up.

Unfortunately, the shop was the only part of the minefield that I managed to traverse unscathed. The rest of the way makes the Bataan Death March look like a day with the Bobbsey Twins.

Tomorrow: In which I go from dazed to confused to catatonic….








Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Tech for Tots (Beginners' Version)" or "Lost in [Cyber] Space"

This is the first in a series of episodes, chronicling the shocking disappearance of the blog, "Mark's Work," thought at first to be simply overcome by cannabis, and certain to be found at the nearest pizza parlor. Or possibly the blog was moved by a particularly poignant episode of, "When the Scissors Trim." How wrong we all were and there's nothing more that needs to be said, except for maybe a generic statement of a techie nature. No more than twenty volumes. Hopefully. 

Tech for Tots (Beginners' Version)
or
Lost in [Cyber] Space

Fireworks abound, coffee flows freely and Pandora plays merrily on this Tuesday morning for me, as I kick-start my brain and prepare to do something I have not been able to do for two days shy of six months: post on my blog. 

I am a fervent believer that everything comes to him who writes, especially old age, but I was beginning to wonder if I were destined to be disappointed, when it came to “The Case of the Missing Blog.”

Fortunately for me there is a capeless hero right here in Mendo County, not riding his white horse while he does his brave deeds, and not driving away in his not-white pickup truck, when I proved to be somewhat of a disappointment in his Introduction to Tech for Tots, 101, (Beginners' Version).

Let’s back the quad up for moment here for some foundation work, a component missing in action when it comes to my own knowledge of anything remotely related to techspertise.

In a clear instance of you-never-know-what-you-have-until-it-is-gone, I sprang out of bed after my customary four hours of sleep one morning last winter and wished that I hadn’t. To my mortification, I discovered that  I had no access to “Mark’s Work,” the name I had given to my blog when I fired it up five years ago come this July. 

There is nothing flamboyant about either the blog or the title; it is a blue-collar blog.

So what does one do when one’s magic carpet is so rudely jerked out, metaphorically speaking, from beneath one’s feet? Where are the requisite complaint forms? Where does the queue form? For whom does the blog toll? 

Sadly, it tolled for me.

I checked the Yellow Pages, the Sears catalogue, and just for good measure, the Sporting Green, all to no avail. There were no newspaper advertisements urging erstwhile bloggists to contact the displayed number(s) for assistance. I know, weird.

Hey, no problem I figured. I’ll simply contact one of my resident techsperts, just as I have done so many times before. How else would I have been able to achieve the fame and fortune that I have managed to accrue in this dawg-eat-dog publishing world, where glitzy lights compete with glitter for the attention of the masses? 

I’d simply message Jackie, or Doug, or one of the Brandons, Belt or Crawford, if I had to, and he would come riding to my rescue on a white horse or a beat up Toyota Four-Runner. Hey, a scooter would be fine, Hunter Pence. It was all the same to me. Terms would be discussed, payment rendered and the presses would roll once again.

Unfortunately-or otherwise, as the case may be-the only rolling I did came in the form of fatties, of which I indulged at a prodigious pace, to try and temper the disappointment of being cast adrift in a sea devoid of my vessel of communication. What I had taken for granted for so long, was now seized from me, and all I could do was…nothing.

I have never struggled with doing “nothing” the way I battled this past winter. In my case, “nothing” translated into working with my fingers, or becoming Markie Scissors-Hands if you will, trimming the very medicine that was keeping me from going schizoid. It was and is a labor of love, and I am quite good at it.

Unfortunately, trimming requires every iota of my concentration and I can't do it for more than six hours at a time. And I cannot do anything else either. If I stray from the table, it's all over but the cleanup. So I rocked the scissors until the paper arrived in the early morning hours-on your doorstep-not mine. Who is going to deliver newspapers on Bell Springs Road?

The only paper I ever got delivered (She called it "served") was a, well, never mind.

The whole missing blog thing was kind of a moot point anyway. 

Because I only get four hours of sleep nightly, the prattling on paper has got to occur in a timely manner while I am still fresh. Am I fresh like that 28-mile-an-hour fresh breeze going on outside in the 35 degree early-morning air? Or fresh like that cabbage that has been fermenting in the nether regions of our stalwart refrigerator for longer than I care to admit?

Regardless, I couldn’t do the two in the same day. I could not work in both a challenging profession using only my fingers, and work in a business requiring both my fingers and my brain, even if I only trimmed six hours a day, and had the other fourteen waking hours to write. 

Kind of like not being able to walk first, and then chew bubble gum, I guess. In a macabre sort of way. Without a blog, I could skip the bubble gum.

And so the wheels simply spun while I took care of the more mundane components of life, like paying the bills. It’s not as glamorous as posting on my blog, because there are no adoring masses to “ooh” and “ah” with every receipt I dutifully submit to my Sweetest of Apple Blossoms. On the other hand, PG&E has not come out and shut off my solar-powered electricity either.

And then the world turned and I staggered.

One morning in late January, I shook Terra-Jean, my not-so-gracefully-aging computer, out of a groggy slumber, only to be smacked upside the head with the following ominous message:  

"This computer will no longer receive Google Chrome updates because Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 will no longer be supported." Then followed the ever-popular, Learn More button...

Like most of what I see on my screen, the message did not compute; I know better than to blame the machine-only the operator. Usually the message is just an informative pearl of wisdom from the “Tech-for Tots” computer program (Beginners’ Version), but this particular message had a sinister tone to it.

It was like hearing the generator start to gasp for gas when you know it is filled.  

How was I going to explain this to Terra Jean?

Tomorrow: Tech-for-Tots (Beginners’ Version) goes on the road for a home-inservice, and lives to tell about it. Barely






Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Behind the Mask


Behind the Mask

The week of Halloween is a most awkward time for me because I am not a Halloween kind of guy. I want to be, I see everyone else planning their costumes for a month in advance, and I know that there will be a number of gatherings from which to select, were I to choose to be a part of it.

It really doesn’t have anything to do with choice, though, because the core of my unenthusiastic approach has been ingrained in me since age ten, when I came under the grip of panic attack syndrome, a malady of which I have fortunately been able to rid myself recently.

I have prattled on enough about the ramifications of anxiety issues, that I need not go further into detail, except to note that the source of my anxiety when it comes to Halloween, is the fact that I am still dramatically impacted, negatively, by the entire genre of horror movies or any kind of creepy visual material.

A huge component is the fact that one thing that used to trigger panic attacks was the unexpected. Well, not coincidentally, scary movies thrive on the unexpected-it gets the adrenalin flowing. I found out long ago, while encountering difficulty with conventional social functions, that Halloween parties exacerbate my anxiety issues twofold, simply because when I do not know who is behind the mask, I panic.

Ironically, my teaching partner back in the day, Mr. Poulton, was completely absorbed by the autumn holiday, so we did the annual Halloween party at the middle school. It helped immensely that Annie is also a Halloween enthusiast, so that helped balance my lack of knowledge or experience in these matters.

The haunted house we set up the first year I taught was off-the-charts cool, even if I was unable to appreciate the finer points myself.

Now as I scroll on face/book, so many folks are engaged in preparations for the 31st, it is apparent this will be an especially exciting Halloween, what with the bright moon and it being Saturday night and all. 

I trust everyone will have a most enjoyable Halloween, just as I will myself, except that I will be home ensconced in front of the television set. 

Fortunately for me, there is a World Series game on between the Mets and the Royals.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tweak Your Oblique? Don't Freak!


Tweak Your Oblique?  Don’t Freak!


Call it cannabis, reefer, pot, marijuana, ganja, grass, happy smoke, or the ever-popular devil’s weed, this plant has an infinite capacity for healing and benevolence that Corporate America refuses to acknowledge. On a daily basis, I benefit from cannabis in its many forms, in a variety of ways.

I have used cannabis as a mood stabilizer most of my adult life. I was unaware of the underlying reasons for my use, but it has always been a way to keep my mania at bay. As ironic as it sounds, getting high keeps me from being high. Besides, the reality is that my indulgence is not so much for the getting high, as merely maintaining the appropriate level of THC in my body. 

Upon the extremely rare instance of me taking a header under the blankets/pillows for the depressive side of bipolarism, cannabis obviously brings me up and gradually out of my funk. Unlike many who suffer from depression, my bouts always have a trigger so it’s not quite so arbitrary. Regardless, cannabis is ultimately going to be my ticket out of the dark.

I wear sandals because I don’t like the feeling of confinement created by shoes. Consequently, my heels and the balls of my feet develop cracks and fissures that make those of the Grand Canyon, look like finger-nail scratches, if I do not apply Amber's cannabis salve on a daily basis.

If I begin in the early spring to apply the salve every day, I never develop the cracks in the first place. If they are already so advanced, that the pain resonates out from the depths of the heel, making it almost impossible to walk, the salve goes to work immediately as far as pain relief, and over the course of the next month or so, not only heels the cracks, but returns my heel(s) to full health.

I had reconstructive surgery on my right shoulder in 2004, because I took it too far one weekend in hauling a tree out of a ravine. My labrum, which is the socket that houses my arm, developed a series of chips in it, and if I raise my right arm suddenly up in the air now, it will come out of its socket and ride the rim.

It takes some excruciating maneuvering to get it back in place, but hey, that’s just old-dude stuff, no big deal, ferris wheel, and all of that. The result is the kind of discomfort that most of America would reach for pain-relief, of a prescriptive nature. 

I turn to Amber’s tincture for the simple reason that even if I got down on my knees and groveled, the VA will simply say, No way, Jose. Amber recommended that I take a single dropper of the fiery substance, but I have found that for me, it’s more like three of the droppers, which coincidentally is also a teaspoonful. 

It goes right into the center of the “discomfort” and washes over the raw edges with a cloak of soothing cool. I hesitate to use the word pain, because if I were to admit to myself that something was painful every time I experienced discomfort, I would be a sniveling little such-and-such. Pain? Nah, that’s just a little discomfort.

I use the tincture for those deep aches and discomforts that afflict my lower back, or when I jolt my oblique. I hurt in originally in 1987, when I finished up one job and was so intent on moving to the next job site, I took my filled tool box, and heaved it with my left arm up and over the side of my truck.

I felt as though I had been pierced to the core with an icepick.

Yet I was committed to go help a dear friend haul plant material down from the top of a mountain, to keep his trimmers supplied, and I could not  “call in sick.” The first two or three twenty-minute round trips, hauling a huge bag of wet cannabis down the mountain, were agonizing.

I ingested as much of the product I was carrying, as possible, and still be able to walk, and went about my business ignoring the discomfort. A funny thing happened over the next hour: The discomfort gradually faded and I subsequently have found over the past 28 years that every time I tweak that oblique, I simply keep moving and hit the cannabis.

Poison oak, heat rashes, dry skin, sunburn, insect bites, cracked skin, especially from working with either concrete or dirt, are all prime examples of what I use cannabis for, on a daily basis. 

My sweetest of Apple Blossoms, who is a private person and does not like to be the subject of my public writing, will not mind my sharing one pertinent detail. She began juicing cannabis immediately upon being diagnosed with first kidney cancer, and then thyroid cancer, three years and change ago. 

Two years ago, nodules formed on her lungs and grew rapidly before they were noted and recorded in a full-body scan. She began taking Amber’s CBD tincture right away and her oncologist upped the frequency of the body scans from once every six months, to once every four months. The very next time she had one of those scans, the progress of the growth of the nodules had been arrested; there was no advance.

The nodules have continued to remain inactive. If I were not already a convert to the church of cannabis, this divine intervention in the growth of a frightening specter in our lives, would have me in the river, ready to dunk my head. 


I recently became aware of a man who was around the same age as my sons, who had two young daughters and a supportive wife, and was afflicted with seizures. This individual was a firefighter/EMT by trade and had to give it up. 

His doctors did what they could in terms of monitoring and medicating him, but they had no definitive answers. A mutual acquaintance appealed to me and HappyDay Farms to see if there was a way that some CBD oil could be obtained for this person.

The end result is that this man’s life has been transformed. His access to the oil extracted from the cannabis has allowed him to do things that he had been incapable of doing for quite some time.
With all of the work that Hezekiah, Casey, Lito and Amber have done in the past eighteen months or more, to get the California Growers Association up and running, it is appropriate that we start educating those who are not aware, that cannabis is the source of a vast wealth of medicinal cures for countless issues.

So many uses for both physical and mental problems have been documented, that it is nothing short of a miracle. For me personally, every day that cannabis continues to fight the disease which is trying to slow down my Sweetest of Apple Blossoms, is one more day that I resonate with appreciation and gratitude for this gentle giant of a plant.



Sunday, October 18, 2015

Plenty to Say, but Nothing to Add



When I first began blogging back in 2011, I wrote a half-dozen or so pieces centered on the Church of the Eternal Bleacher.  Here is the inaugural piece.
http://markyswrite.blogspot.com/2011/08/san-francisco-giants-baseball-august-26.html I now found this to be a handy tool for delving into the sordid Chase Utley/Ruben Tejada fiasco and have done so with this piece of writing.

Plenty To Say, but Nothing to Add

In the name of Buster, MadBum and One Hunter Percent, now and forever, you’re SAFE! 

Welcome to the Church of the Eternal Bleacher, all southpaws welcome.

With the annual elimination of the Los Angeles Dodgers from the playoffs having taken place, the time has arrived for The Church of the Eternal Bleacher to reconvene, for the purpose of conducting an on-the-field examination of the Chase Utley/Ruben Tejada debacle. This is not a trial, per se, to determine guilt or innocence, so much as an analysis of the incident to allow for resolution of three unanswered questions.

The old-school slide that Utley employed, broke Tejada’s fibula and sent him off the field and out of the playoffs, so the first question that looms would be, Is Chase Utley guilty of anything other than being an old-school baseball player? 

Secondly, was his slide “dirty,” with the resulting injury to Ruben Tejada, solely on the shoulders of Utley? If so, then what?

The third question is, should the rule covering this specific scenario be revisited, a la the Buster Posey rule?

The Church of the Eternal Bleacher is not here cast aspersions on Chase Utley or the team for whom he currently plays, which is why San Francisco Giants fans have been excluded from all proceedings. Though among the best fans the baseball world knows, they do take matters involving their rival from the south quite seriously, and can understandably be expected to be biased.

We are graced with the presence of many of today’s stars, some of whom will voice an opinion during the following proceedings. A committee comprised of members from The Church of the Eternal Bleacher, will ultimately render a decision, which will endeavor to include appropriate responses to the three questions posed above.

Let’s play ball, beginning with the question of whether Utley is guilty of anything more than playing good, old-fashioned, hard-nosed ball.

According to Derek Jeter, who has spent a minute or two at shortstop, “...if you watch video from years ago, that kind of stuff happened. It’s nasty. It’s tough when it knocks a guy out like that, especially in the playoffs.” Utley’s teammate, Howie Kendrick, had this to say, “It’s baseball. He probably did slide late. It’s kind of unfortunate the guy ended up hurt...” 

Kind of unfortunate”...That phrase is one of those which hits the grass and keeps on bouncing, ricocheting around the bullpen area, as fielders chase it fruitlessly...

When asked his opinion, Chipper Jones intoned, “That was not a slide; that is not how you ‘go in hard.’” Utley himself says he did not realize that Tejada had his back to him, until it was too late, to which I call, “Baloney.” 

Utley has the play unfolding in front of him; he sees Tejada taking the throw and sweeping to one side of the basepath, and he has been around long enough to know there is no time for Tejada to make the 180 degree turn. It’s all about the willingness to start the slide after he had passed second base, and the fact that a man got injured unnecessarily.  

Justin Turner weighed in with this, “Everyone knows how hard Chase plays the game and [he] did what everyone would do going hard to break up the double play...” Turner, a teammate by the way, dabbles in a bit of hyperbole here, when he says “everyone.” That is blatantly incorrect.

So was Utley’s slide “dirty?” The Dodger organization evidently thought not, as it issued a statement that read, in part, “The Dodgers stand behind Chase Utley and his decision to appeal the suspension issue by Major League Baseball.”

There is the school of thought which says the slide was wrong simply because a man got hurt, but there is also that which dictates that the guy playing the position has got to know the risks that accompany his turf. In fact on September 24th, 2010, an almost identical play took place while Utley still played for the Phillies and Tejada was already on the Mets.

The difference between the two plays is that Tejada got his feet out of the way the first time, and was therefore not injured when he was dumped to the ground. Nonetheless, having been upended once already playing against the same player, it would have behooved Tejada to get out of the way, simply because Utley’s actions matched his reputation. Forewarned is forearmed.

In handing down the penalty of two games’ suspension, Joe Torre called the slide illegal. Torre said upon a complete examination of the play he concluded Utley’s slide merited punishment. Torre said it was up to the umpire on the field at the time of the play, to make the judgment call, but that he was not blaming the umpiring crew for the controversy.

All Joe Torre seemed to want was to not have his star players hurting one another. Because the umpiring crew for the game in question did not see fit to penalize Utley, Torre did not do so, either.

Sitting in the back of the room, with plenty to say but nothing to add, was Marco Scutaro, who has played only a handful of games since his debilitating encounter with Matt Holliday during the 2012 National League Championship Series, which the Giants ended up winning, four games to three.

Should the rule be amended? 

I don’t know; shall we put the question to Scutaro and Tejada?

I am not surprised that it took the Church of the Eternal Bleacher committee less time to reach consensus on the three questions, than it takes Yasiel Puig to strike out, which he did in three of his six plate appearances during the 2015 playoffs, ending with a batting average of .000.

To answer the first question, the committee ruled that Chase Utley was guilty of being nothing other than an old-school ballplayer, except maybe also being an oaf. Secondly, yes, his slide was dirty but according to an outdated code, Utley can not be held accountable, legally. 

Finally, whereas one might have hoped that a rule change was not imperative, it is apparent that as long as there are those willing to play the game with no regard for the safety of others, that something will have to be implemented. 

In conclusion virtue is its own reward, and vice versa. Karma is a cruel mistress, praise Buddha for that, and the team from LA got exactly what was coming to it. No one is suggesting that Chase Utley deliberately caused Ruben Tejada’s injury, but his reckless play did exactly that, and the Dodgers paid the appropriate price, praise Buddha for that.

The baseball gods are alive and kicking...