Monthly Archives: October 2015

Mall walking

Out & About

During my first year at Texas A&M University I lived on campus. Sadly, the two dorms I lived in, Moore Hall and Puryear Hall, were destroyed several years ago in the name of progress, i.e., bigger, more beautiful, more progressive dorms.

During my second year, I moved off campus into an apartment that was, at the time, way out in the boondocks. Fortunately, my bicycle found a back roads shortcut to campus.

I lived out in the boondocks for my remaining years of college. After graduation I spent five years in Houston before moving back to College Station where I bought a duplex in the same boondocks. However, that area was no longer the boondocks. With several new apartment complexes, sorority row with 12 sorority houses, and the new Post Oak Mall, it was pretty much the center of non-campus activity.

Post Oak Mall stores didn’t open until 10:00 a.m. but the mall itself was open at 7:00 a.m. for the Post Oak Mall Walkers, of which I was one, probably the youngest one.

I still like to walk malls, but I do it more now to get pictures rather than simply exercise.

Recently I walked one of San Diego’s largest and more beautiful malls. It was 8:00 a.m., and here are a few of the pictures I got:

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

University Towne Center, La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The mall in question was Westfield UTC in La Jolla. Those of us who have been here more than a few years still call it University Towne Center. It’s a great place to shop, a great place to eat, and, if you enjoy putting on ice skates and falling on your butt many times, a great place to go ice skating….

University Towne Center La Jolla

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Is it live, or is it Memorex?

Picture of the Moment

One of my favorite restaurants is Islands because they are not showing sports on all the televisions throughout the restaurant. Instead, they show videos of extreme events like mountain climbing, wind surfing, rock climbing, snow and water skiing, and sea creatures.

I recently visited an ocean-side restaurant where they were showing videos of aquariums on their only television, a huge monster gigantic TV that took up the whole wall. I felt like I was in the aquarium with the creatures, like this one:

Jellyfish

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SNIPPETS (10-20-15)—Give up beer and lose weight!

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts

SNIPPET 1

Since May 15, 2015, I have lost 40 pounds. I’m not looking to find them either, so if you’re with Lost & Found, just keep ’em.

I didn’t set out to lose 40 pounds, it just happened. I could blame it on Costco, though. They quit carrying their Kirkland brand craft beers so I quit buying beer. I thought all the other beers either were just flat-out nasty (American beers) or too expensive (foreign beers).

I needed something that could quench my thirst, though. Soft drinks never have.

On May 16, Jim and I went to Mimi’s which offers strawberry lemonade with real bits of strawberry floating around in it. It’s the best lemonade in town. Free refills, too!

Lemonade quenches my thirst so I checked at Walmart and found Country Time pink lemonade. Love, love, love pink lemonade!

The Country Time container costs $2.50 (was $1.98 back in May) and makes 10 quarts. That’s 2½ gallons. A case of Kirkland craft beer cost $20.00. So not only am I losing weight, I’m saving a lot of money.

However, at this rate, I will be at zero pounds sometime in August 2017.

stick man

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #2

I have decided to give up the toaster in favor of the toaster oven. The toaster only let me toast bread slices. The toaster oven not only lets me toast bread slices, but I can toast odd-sized pieces of bread, like dinner rolls with a slice of jalapeño cheese on them; or make mini pizzas with pepperoni, jalapeño slices, and shredded cheese; or toast garlic sticks. All sorts of options with the toaster oven without using all that electricity for the big range oven….

Oster toaster oven

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #3

My home office faces the east and since I’m up every morning before the sun, I get a beautiful sunrise each morning. Here are three of them:

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #4

I finished watching all episodes for the first five seasons of “Game of Thrones.” What a mesmerizing series. Maybe a little too much nudity….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #5

I also finished watching all of the movies released in 2014 that interested me. 2015 movies aren’t completely available online yet so I decided to work my way through those released in 2013.Broken City

The Last StandA couple that I really enjoyed were “Broken City” starring Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg, and “The Last Stand” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, his first movie post-California governor.

Two that were so-so: “Mama” (a horror/thriller movie) starring no one I knew, and “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” also starring no one I knew.

One I watched, “John Dies At The End,” is 99 minutes of my life that I will never get back….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #6

I have been practicing using a couple of the more esoteric tools in Photoshop, tools that I never found any use for or tools that just took too long to use. The Pen Tool comes to mind. Once one realizes that “Pen Tool” is one of the world’s greatest misnomers and understands how it actually works, it can be quite useful.

In the following picture, the sea lavender blossoms were lost in a sad, busy background in the original picture. Using the Pen Tool, I removed the blossoms and placed them in front of a wooden fence and then framed the resulting picture.

Sea lavender

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #7

I have been a member of the Facebook group “Flowers Exchange” for about ten months. We’re allowed to post up to three images each day. I only post one. The sea lavender picture above is my most popular post yet, with 45 likes.

I also like it but I didn’t think it was my best ever. Facebook needs a WHY? button. When you click on it, you get asked why you liked the post….

I would love to know why that picture resonated with so many people. If it resonates with you, comment why.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #8

I haven’t been blogging as much since our move in May because I have been trying to get a full-time job working for someone else instead of being self-employed with my home inspection company.

I can tell you that age discrimination is alive and well in the job market. No one wants a 60-year-old guy regardless of his qualifications, at least not in the areas where I have my expertise and experience.

One company that I was talking with finally emailed me with what probably is the truth for all the other companies:

We’re looking for someone who can make a career here at *****.

And there you have it. We old folks are going to die tomorrow if you hire us today.

Didn’t Betty White tell us that 90 was the new 60, which would mean that 60 is the new 30….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #9

I had an interview with a start up company that is a subcontractor to Amazon Prime. I don’t think Amazon is going away anytime soon, so the job and the new company piqued my interest. I got offered the job at the interview, and I accepted. Since it’s a new company, time lines are, shall we say, flexible, but it looks like I’ll be starting work on Monday. Yahoooooooooo!

Since I will have a definite work schedule, I expect my blogging to return to normal, meaning at least one blog post per day. I look forward to continuing my many blog series.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #10

The days are getting shorter, which means Christmas is just around the corner.

Zoey the Cool Cat and Christmas tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Two years without cable, and I’m not missing it

I livew in my own little world

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that by 2025, and I won’t be disappointed if it’s earlier, cable television will be officially deceased.

I did away with cable in September 2013. Initially I thought I would miss it, but each time I thought that, I remembered that the only thing I ever watched was sports and reruns of past TV shows.

It wasn’t really difficult to give up live-action sports because nothing I could do or say during the game would alter the outcome of the game, or my life.

And I actually found more time to do more things by watching the 3-minute highlight film rather than the 3-hour game….

When 2015 rolled around, I decided to watch the movies released in 2014 that interested me, starting in January 2014. They are on the Internet, and while some of the less successful ones were hard to find, they are there, just not on the first page of a Google search.

I finished watching the 2014 movies and went to 2015. The 2015 movies are not yet available, a presumption that I made based on not finding a single movie from January 2015 that was available.

So I decided to see what TV series were popular during my first decade on Earth. I came across “The Twilight Zone,” which I remember watching in reruns in the ’60s, and decided to watch it, episode by episode. Seems that everything ever televised is on the Internet, something I can’t say about cable….

All the ones I remember watching those many decades ago had unexpected endings, and many of them had moral or human lessons to be learned, or were thought-provoking concerning the future. Such was the case with Episode 1 from Season 1 which I watched earlier tonight. Its moral was that humans are social animals and enjoy being with other humans. I wouldn’t limit it to humans, though. Many of us humans also like to be with our dogs, our cats, our birds, our guinea pigs, our rabbits, our snakes, our lizards….

The social part of humanity hit home with me because when I came to San Diego on April 27, 1993, at the age of 38, I wasn’t sure who I was or what I wanted to do. I only knew that I probably wasn’t going to work anytime soon, perhaps never again in my lifetime.

Ten months later, while sitting on the sand at Blacks Beach, I realized just how much I wanted to be with other people. I was the only one on the beach that February morning, and it was lonely, even with my chess set, cards, UNO, and books to read.

Right after college I had learned the difference between being alone and being lonely, for one can have many family and friends and still be lonely. I was lonely, lonely, lonely that day on the beach.

I put myself back in the work force and have never looked back. I do need people in my life. I’d die of loneliness if I was the only survivor on a deserted island….

Here are some pictures of Blacks Beach where I spent my first ten months in San Diego, beginning with the steps (I use that word very loosely) down the 300-foot cliffs to the beach below:

Stairs to Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Blacks Beach map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (10-12-15)—Country boy or alien?

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

On this date in 1997, John Denver died when his experimental amateur aircraft crashed into Monterey Bay on the California coast.

Interestingly, Denver first hit the charts in 1969 not as a singer but as a songwriter when Peter, Paul & Mary hit the top of the charts “Leaving On A Jet Plane.” I guess flying was naturally in his blood.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Denver was an accomplished private pilot with more than 2,700 hours on various single- and multi-engine aircraft, as well as having both an instrument and a Lear Jet rating. At the time of his death, he was flying an aircraft with which he was somewhat unfamiliar and, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation. Shortly after taking off from a Pacific Grove airfield under ideal flying conditions, Denver apparently lost control of his Long-EZ aircraft. The NTSB investigation also found that Denver had experienced control problems with the aircraft on previous occasions.

Denver made his own claim to fame as a singer in 1971 with his hit “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Not only did “Take Me Home, Country Roads” have an inauspicious debut at #99 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart of April 10, 1971, it fell off the chart for two weeks before reappearing at #91 and continuing a slow rise to #2—86, 80, 73, 70, 62, 52, 48, 36, 30, 20, 12, 9, 8, 6, 3, 3, and 2, where it stayed for one week before dropping down the chart. It was kept out of the #1 spot by the Bee Gees with “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

John Denver (1943-1997) was born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., in Roswell, New Mexico. Maybe he really wasn’t a country boy…. Maybe he was an alien! With all of his songs about Colorado, not to mention taking the last name Denver, I just presumed that he was born in Colorado….

Denver was one of the most successful recording artists of the ’70s, releasing 11 albums that were certified Platinum by the RIAA. He had 25 hits, nine of which made the Top 10, and four of which hit #1. Here are his #1 hits:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In my research for this post, I discovered the following. It’s not from a peer-reviewed journal and has no citations so I do not know whether or not it’s true:

“John Denver was a very talented artist and he produced some beautiful music, but people need to understand he was a very flawed man……very flawed. He cheated on his wife Annie not once but several times, the very same Annie that was the subject of his ode to love in ‘Annies Song.’ He lied about it to her and then fessed up in his song ‘I’m Sorry’, which, while beautiful, is really nothing more than a guy wallowing in self pity for the troubles he caused. He tried to strangle Annie once when he got pissed. He blew up when he got back from a trip and discovered she had cut down a tree on their property and proceeded to cut up some of their furniture (a bed or a dining table – not sure which) with a chain saw. He reeks of hypocrisy in ‘Rocky Mountain High when he sings of development as being ‘more people, more scars upon the land,’ basically saying ‘I got mine, now the rest of you stay away.’ “

Well, some of the most beautiful music is written in response to sad circumstances. Eric Clapton’s beautiful hit, “Tears In Heaven,” comes immediately to mind.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My last stop was Wikipedia, usually my first stop. There I found that, at the time of his death, John Denver did not have a valid pilot’s license because of two previous drunk driving charges. Of course, one would not want an aircraft pilot to be drunk while flying….

Since I have personal experience with alcohol and its effects courtesy of my mom and step-dad, I’m leaning on the quoted text as probably being true.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The fifth largest dome in the world, at night

Picture of the Moment

I don’t do a lot of photography after the sun goes down because it’s dark. I’m scared of the dark….

I did have the opportunity to be downtown recently after dark and got a nice picture of the huge dome of the San Diego Central Library, opened in September 2013.

San Diego Central Library stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

According to PR materials from the Library, the dome is 143 feet in diameter, making it larger than the United States Capitol (135 feet) and the Pantheon in Rome (142 feet).

Apparently it is the fifth largest in the world behind the Duomo in Florence (149 feet), St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican (195 feet), the Astrodome (642 feet), and the Superdome (680 feet).

Not included in the list of domes are inflated domes such as the Carrier Dome and the Metrodome.

For what it’s worth, the Metrodome and the Astrodome are no longer in use.

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It’s the end of the world as we know it

Picture of the Moment

I get so tired of all these doomsday and end-of-world predictions.

I do feel rather good knowing that I have survived so many of them.

Everyone else has survived them, too, though, so what’s the purpose?

I told Zoey the Cool Cat that another doomsday prediction has the end of the world on….

….wait for it….

….TODAY!

That is, October 7.

Of course, in some parts of the world, it is now October 8.

If it doesn’t get here in the next 6 hours and 10 minutes, I’m giving up….

Anyways….

Zoey the Cool Cat wasn’t having any of it so here’s what she did:

Zoey the Cool Cat prepared for the end of the world

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