I think WordPress will finally lose me….

I have tried the new block editor several times this year and found in clunky and time-consuming.

This morning, however, WordPress is forcing it on me.

My annual subscription expires in January.

I’m thinking that I won’t be renewing this time.

I can use that $99 for some margaritas.

Added with edit: I have definitively decided that I am going to cancel and terminate this blog. I don’t need the Google juice anymore since I’m retired. Over the next three months, I will be deleting posts, beginning with the oldest ones. If any of them have information worth saving, I’ll copy it to a text file. I already have all of the pictures.

If anyone wants to follow me elsewhere, I am at Facebook, Liker, and Etsy.

If we ever get back to in-person meetings, I’ll be creating a private website for my books and calendars.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/russel.ray.3/

Liker: https://www.liker.com/rusel6945/wall

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RusselRayPhotos

Big 3-0 next year!

A Piece Missing

Dawna Melene Brinley KirkToday would be the 90th birthday of my birth mother….

….or 89th….

….or 86th….

….or 85th….

….depending on the source.

I know definitively that she died in 2012, but throughout my life she said she had been born on September 30, 1931. That would make her 19 when she got married. I also know that she was pregnant with her first child—I’m #3 of 5.

John Ancel Kirk, Jr.I also know that my dad was born in May 1930, which might explain some things.

If mom was born in 1935—the date that comes up most often—she would have been 15 when she got married. Since dad was 20, and my mom was pregnant, I do believe that would be statutory rape if she was 15. So she decided to change her birth year….

Interestingly, apparently as soon as they learned that mom was pregnant, they eloped to Mexico and got married. Mexico was only about 100 miles south of my hometown of Kingsville, Texas, but Mexico marriage certificates were not recognized in Texas at the time. Shortly after that marriage, they eloped to Comanche, Oklahoma, 545 miles from Kingsville, and got married again.

For some strange reason, it appears that they didn’t want to get married in Texas. Maybe they didn’t want anyone to know that they were having a shotgun marriage. That doesn’t make sense, though, because they went right back to Kingsville and moved in with my mom’s parents. On December 18, 1950, dad joined the Air Force, leaving his pregnant wife with her parents.

Mom also told me throughout my life that she was born in Helena, Montana. I have not been able to find a birth certificate yet. I had thought about having the Twitler Crime Family find it for me, but since they never were able to find Barack Obama’s Kenya birth certificate, I left them alone. They had crime to commit.

I am 99% certain that mom was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, since every single obituary notice says that. They don’t agree on her birth year, though. Not sure why lying about one’s birthplace was important to her. Maybe she knew that no one would ever find any birth records if they went looking in Helena, Montana.

After the State of Utah removed me from my mom and stepdad’s home in 1965—possibly both for child abuse and for me being one of Utah’s greatest juvenile delinquents, I only saw my mom once, in 1994 in New Orleans where she and most of my siblings were living at the time. I came out to them during Mardi Gras that year.My wise old grandmother

If my wise old grandmother had not adopted me in December 1965, I believe I would currently be serving live in prison in Utah or dead at the hands of a Utah law enforcement officer. I was that bad.

I shall continue to search for missing pieces of her life to determine if today would have been her 90th/89th/86th/85th birthday….

Someone more famous than me once said, “If you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it.”

So………….

I have decided that I was born on March 11, 1991. Big Three-O next year!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

….but there I was

curtains coming soon

I have spent the last eight days watching the TV series Dexter. There are eight seasons of twelve episodes with each episode lasting about 55 minutes.

I can highly recommend the complete series, with a few caveats.

First, Dexter originally aired on Showtime from 2006 to 2013. In my considered opinion developed from 44 years of Showtime experience, Showtime always has been one at the forefront for nudity, gore, violence, sex, and language.

Dexter had to have been rated NC-17, but if I were giving it a rating, I would rate it

XXX-XXX-XXX-XXX-XXX.

Dexter

Be forewarned.

Here’s a synopsis from Wikipedia:

Michael C. HallOrphaned at age three, when his mother was brutally murdered with a chainsaw by drug dealers, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) was adopted by Miami police officer Harry Morgan (James Remar). Recognizing the boy’s trauma and the subsequent development of his sociopathic tendencies, Harry has manipulated Dexter to channel his gruesome bloodlust into vigilantism, killing only heinous criminals who slip through the criminal justice system.

To facilitate covering his prolific trail of homicides, Dexter gains employment as a forensic analyst, specializing in blood spatter pattern analysis, for the Miami Metro Police Department.

Dexter is extremely cautious and circumspect; he wears gloves and uses plastic-wrapped “kill rooms,” segments the corpses, and disposes of them in the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf Stream to reduce his chances of detection.

Dexter struggles to juggle his double life. Although his homicidal tendencies are deeply unflinching, and he originally claims detachment (via narration), throughout the series he strives to feel—and in some cases does feel—normal emotions and maintain his appearance as a socially responsible human being.

Although the series takes place in Miami, it was filmed mostly in Long Beach, California, so I was quite familiar with many of the scenes and locations.

Again, I can highly recommend it as an engrossing series. I never thought I would root for vigilante justice, but there I was.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

I’m finding a common theme here

I live in my own little world

The Corral, 1970, Memorial Junior High, Kingsville TXI just finished reading my 1970 ninth grade yearbook. Although we ninth graders were called freshmen, we were still in junior high, so it was our third year, junior high seniors I guess you could say.

The three years I spent with the same people brought out some common themes in my life which friends didn’t hesitate commenting on when they wrote in my yearbook. Following are some of the best; spelling has not been corrected.

  1. To a swell guy with a great personality.
  2. It’s never dull knowing you.
  3. To a loudmouth boy whom I have always enjoyed having in my classes.
  4. To a real nice & goofy guy you’ve made many a dull class exciting.
  5. To a real nice, weird kid. Stay out of girls purses.
  6. It’s been nice having you in my classes for your sense of humor.
  7. To real crazy nut but a good typist. You sure do like to lave your stamp….try to behave yourself once in a while.
  8. You are one of the wierdest guys I know. Not wierd blck wierd, but wierd funny wierd.
  9. You’re a real nut and a great typist.
  10. To a great typist.
  11. You are really an interesting fella.
  12. You’re a pretty funny guy (most of the time).
  13. A guy that is some times crazy and some time nice.
  14. To a real wierd kid. You sure are a nuisance sometimes but I guess you’re ok. It’s been fun….
  15. To a real nut that’s been lot of fun.
  16. To Russel, a great nut who I have had a lot of fun with….
  17. You always have a laugh ready.
  18. You have been a ton of laughs.
  19. You’re a real nut. Thanks for all the laughs!
  20. To some one who is really funny. Why don’t you be quite (Ha!! Ha!!).
  21. ….stay the way you are.
  22. To a loud, funny guy who really kept english going. You’re really got a good personality.
  23. A real nut that was a lot of fun to be around while working on the annual.
  24. It’s been fun & noisy having Alg. & Eng. with you.
  25. To a wierd creation of a human. Its been fun knowing you for 2 years.
  26. To a real nut who has been fun to know. You have a weird sense of humor, but you’re real nice.
  27. To a real nut in my math class.
  28. To a guy with a great sense of humor and that is a nut.

The Corral, 1970, Memorial Junior High, Kingsville TX

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

When the year was only 282 days

Did you know?

Along with Netflix binge-watching, I am reading a lot. Here’s something I read that surprised and interested me.

There was a problem with the calendar in eighteenth century Britain since Britain and its possessions, including the American colonies, still used the old Julian calendar begun by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. Meanwhile, Europeans were using the newer Gregorian calendar introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

The problem with the Julian calendar was that it had an error built into it, resulting in a miscalculation of the solar year by eleven minutes. Not a critical error at the time, but it did result in a 1-day error every 128 years. Still not a critical error, but over two thousand years, Spring on the calendar was moving further and further away from the actual Spring equinox, thereby completely messing up the seasons.

That’s just for starters. Imagine the mess with legal, contractual, and other business matters if the parties were using different calendars.

Finally, pursuant to the British Calendar Act of 1751, Britain and its colonies made the Gregorian Correction in 1752. The Act directed that the day following Wednesday, September 2, would be Thursday, September 14, 1752. The Act also moved New Year’s Day from March 25 to January 1, shortening the year 1751 to only 282 days.

There is a myth that there was rioting over the lost 11 days. Imagine that happening in today’s world—mortgage and car payments are due but you’re missing 11 days of pay. Oh, dear. 

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Get plenty of exercise

I live in my own little world

Occasionally I need a break from Netflix binge-watching.

I’m having a great time reading through my yearbooks from grade school, junior high, and high school.

Here’s what a friend wrote in my 1969 8th grade yearbook:

8th grade yearbook memento

My husband of 27 years seems to agree.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Until the margaritas run out

My wise old grandmother

My wise old grandmother used to spend her spare time sewing—in the kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom, outside. Occasionally she’d leave her scissors somewhere and ask me to go get them. I’d come running back with them, resulting in admonishment: “Don’t run with scissors.”

Well, I regret to tell you that this morning, 55 years later, I was running with scissors. I tripped and fell on the scissors. Stabbed myself right in the heart. Dead before I fell.

My religious friends tell me there’s an afterlife, Heaven and Hell. Wanting to get to my destination as quickly as possible, I chose the Highway to Hell. Maybe my 1989 Saleen Mustang GT would be waiting for me.

It wasn’t.

National Train Day, May 11, 2013Instead, there were 666 buses and 13 super trains. I chose one of the trains.

Well, it took only 13 minutes to get to Hell, but the line to get in was 13 miles long. After waiting in line for 666 hours, I finally got my personal one-on-one with Satan. He looked at my record and told me that I had done way too much good in my life, so he could not admit me. Told me to try Heaven.

National Train Day, May 11, 2013Some weird creatures with horns escorted me back to the super train which was waiting for me. I WAS THE ONLY PERSON ON THE TRAIN!

Back to the Earth station to catch the Stairway to Heaven. It took almost 7 hours to get to Heaven, and I was tired as hell. The line was short. Took only 7 minutes to get my personal one-on-one with God. He looked at my record.

Good…. Good…. Great…. Oh, that’s nice…. That’s wonderful…. You did really good…. Ooopsy. What’s this? You disobeyed your wise old grandmother by running with scissors? Sorry. I cannot let you into Heaven. You should always obey your wise old grandmother.

Margaritas at On The Border in El Cajon, CaliforniaI was denied entrance to Heaven and Hell!

So here I am, back on Earth.

Stuck here for eternity.

Or until the margaritas run out….

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

The view

Out & About San Diego

I have a beautiful view out my living room window of the East San Diego County. Whenever I need a break from the office and binge-watching Netflix and PrimeTV (currently watching “Lie To Me”), I’ll walk to the living room, pet Little Queen Olivia (she’s usually on the sofa), and then look out the window to see what wildlife is thinking that my plants might be a good buffet. At 3:45 p.m. on September 7, this was the view that greeted me:

Valley Fire, San Diego County

The thermometer on Little Queen Olivia’s shaded catio was showing 110 effin degrees.

100 effin degrees

Little Queen Olivia was, like “Meh. Why do you keep coming in here every 15 minutes?”

Little Queen Olivia

California has so many fires each year that they get names, kind of like hurricanes in the Gulf and Atlantic. This fire started in Japatul Valley, so it got named the Valley Fire. It started at 2:51 p.m. and burned 400 acres in the first hour, making it a very fast-moving and dangerous fire. It slowed due mostly to the fact that there’s not a lot of stuff to burn out there. The problem would be the continued high temperatures and the wind. Originally the winds were blowing to the west, so the fire was marching westward, straight towards me, the suburbs, and downtown San Diego.

By the end of the night, it had burned over 1,500 acres, continuing to march westward. I didn’t get much sleep that night since I was monitoring the overnight progress of the fire. Evacuation alerts were arriving regularly on my phone courtesy of the emergency notification system.

I had brought Little Queen Olivia’s travel crate in just in case we had to leave suddenly, and I had food and water packed and ready to go.

Yesterday morning when Little Queen Olivia got me out of bed, there was very little smoke in the air. That was good. Around 11:30 a.m., the winds shifted direction, blowing the fire to the west/southwest, causing a new smoke plume that lasted all day.

Valley Fire, San Diego County

That was good for me but bad, of course, for people in front of its new advance. Here at my house, I was expecting a high temperature of 113 effin degrees. The heavy smoke eventually covered the sky, blocking out the sun, so it only got to 108 effin degrees.

Fire smoke always makes for great sunset pictures. Well, almost. Since the sun was blocked out, there was no sunset. This was the best picture I got—5:11 p.m., exactly two hours before sunset:

Valley Fire, San Diego County

There is no sign of smoke this morning from my living room window due to the east-blowing winds. As of 10:00 p.m. last night, over 10,500 acres had burned; it is only 1% contained. Eleven structures have burned. The fire continues to rage. Evacuation warnings have been extended to the east. In the map below, I live in Winter Gardens (red arrow).

Valley Fire, San Diego County

Pets are welcome at evacuation points. If you need help with animal evacuations, including large animals, call the San Diego Humane Society’s emergency response team at 619-229-7012 and press 1. Large animals will be held at the County Animal Services South Shelter in Bonita (lower left).

For a historical perspective, the 2003 Cedar Fire here in San Diego County burned 273,246 acres , destroyed 2,820 buildings (2,232 homes), and killed 15 people, including one firefighter. At the time, it was the largest wildfire in California’s history. After the 2018 and 2019 fire seasons (only California would actually have a “fire season”), the Cedar Fire now ranks as the third-largest, the fifth deadliest, and fourth most destructive, causing just over $1.3 billion in damages.

The Cedar Fire was started by a novice hunter, hunting alone, who had gotten lost. He admitted starting a fire intentionally to signal rescuers but quickly lost control of the fire because of the heat, low humidity, and low moisture content of the surrounding vegetation. He was rescued but prosecuted. After a plea bargain in which prosecutors dropped the charge of lying to investigators, he was sentenced to six months in a work-furlough program, 960 hours (40 days) of community service, five years’ probation, and $9,000 in restitution. If I had lost my home or a relative, I’m not sure I would have been satisfied with that sentence.

Valley Fire, San Diego County

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Photography tips

Did you know?

For those wanting to improve their photography, here are my Top 20 photography tips gleaned from 52 years of experience.

  1. Film is better than digital
  2. Digital is better than film.
  3. Black & white is better than color.
  4. Color is better than black & white.
  5. DSLRs are the best cameras.
  6. Point & Shoot are the best cameras.
  7. Smart phones are the best cameras.
  8. Mirrorless are the best cameras.
  9. Buy one of each camera type just to make sure you have the best camera.
  10. One zoom lens is better than 3, 4 or 5 prime lenses.
  11. One prime lens is better than any zoom lens.
  12. The more expensive a camera is, the better will be the images.
  13. The bigger and more expensive a lens is, the better will be the images.
  14. White lenses are better than black lenses.
  15. Black lenses are better than white lenses.
  16. It’s better to shoot RAW than JPG (and tell everyone you only shoot RAW).
  17. It’s better to shoot JPG than RAW (and don’t tell anyone you do).
  18. All pictures need post-processing (and you must use Photoshop).
  19. If you learn your camera’s controls and use them, you’ll never have to post-process pictures.
  20. Always upgrade to the most recent camera model (unless you’re married; then ask permission).

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!