Author Archives: Russel Ray Photos

About Russel Ray Photos

Photographer career began in sixth grade in 1966.

When the side effects are awesome!

Did you know?

This post is a follow up to my post about what appears to be my final episode of biting my fingernails. Only took a little over 65 years. See my first post here: Another 48 margaritas and I should  be good to go

I got a pain relief shot in the butt at Urgent Care on April 19. Oh the irony of getting a painful injection in the butt in order to relieve pain elsewhere. Is this where the expression pain in the butt came from?

Nonetheless….

I also got a prescription for a pain-relief drug, Cephalexin, which is generic for Keflex. The prescription was for 28 pills, one ever six hours until used up… so seven days. I took the first pill on April 20 at noon.

Amazing things happened, none of which were expected to happen.

  1. I have been a polyphasic sleeper all my life — 65 years — never sleeping for more than four hours, and that was only in college when I was passed out drunk. I’m still a polyphasic sleeper, but since April 20 I have had several periods of sleep lasting from five to eight hours.
  2. I had never had a dream because I never reached R.E.M. sleep. That changed on April 20. I probably have had 65 dreams since then. Most of them would be considered nightmares by normal people, but can Stephen King fans be called normal? As Tears for Fears sang in Mad World, “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.”
  3. For the past twenty or so years, I have had a hacking cough… 24/7. It was the worst immediately upon lying down and immediately after getting up. A hacking cough in today’s COVID-19 world can be problematic out in public. Fortunately, I was able to control it by taking Guafenesin (generic for Mucinex), but it took about an hour for the full effects to kick in. That changed on April 20. After the very first Cephalexin pill, no 24/7 hacking cough. Still to this day, over a month later.
  4. For the past five or so years, I have not been able to breathe through my nose. I went to my regular doctor as well as an allergist and and ENT. The only thing anyone said was the ENT. She stuck a camera through my nose and down into my throat. The only thing she found was a deviated septum (crooked nose). She asked me when I broke my nose but to the best of my knowledge, I never did. She wants to do a CT scan of my upper respiratory system and then schedule surgery to correct my crooked nose. That all changed on April 20. After the very first Cephalexin pill, I was back to breathing through my nose. Still to this day, over a month later.

I have been in dozens of medical research studies throughout my life, so I know that not every side effect reported during studies gets listed as side effects. The number of people reporting a side effect has to be statistically significant for the number of people in the study. So if there are 100 people in the study, and only one person reports a specific side effect, the researchers won’t list it, instead chalking it up to something the research subject forgot to tell us.

In some cases, when the side effect is very pronounced and widely distributed, new research studies are done to see if the side effect can be made useful. Rogaine comes immediately to mind. Rogaine is a brand name for minoxidil, which originally was being studied for hypertension. Unexpected male hair growth was a statistically significant side effect, leading to further research studies and — bam! — Rogaine!

I talked to both my doctor and the ENT. Neither of them believed that there was a cause and effect from the Cephalexin. Continued research on my part found that Cephalexin also is used for upper respiratory illnesses. It’s only good for bacteria, though, not viruses like the flu and COVID-19.

With that knowledge, I wondered if I have had an upper respiratory bacterial infection for the last twenty years.

I called the Urgent Care doctor to ask him about the side effects since he was the one who prescribed Cephalexin. He was amazed but also thought that there wasn’t a cause and effect.

Oh, well.

If my cough and breathing difficulties ever come back, I shall bite my fingernails until they bleed, down to the quick, and then stick them in a bucket of dirty water until they get infected. Then I shall go get another prescription for Cephalexin….

Still sad

For the past 17 days, every morning when I get up I check on my mommy mourning dove on her nest. Sadly, yesterday morning this is what I saw:

Mourning dove nest

I have been a birder for 60 years, so I know that there is a Great Horned Owl out here in the East San Diego County boondocks. It lives in the bushes and trees about a 100 yards north of me. Been there for 2 years and 10 months.

When I was outside to pull weeds yesterday morning, I heard Mr. G. H. Owl calling to me from about 50 yards to the south. Who? Who? Who? I think I know WHO got my mourning dove babies.

I am completely powerless against police brutality, racism, the Twitler Crime Family, et al., but I really thought I could help mommy mourning dove safely raise her young.

Still sad.

Mourning doves

And then there were three

Picture of the Moment

Sixteen days ago, I got up with the sun (5:30 a.m.) and pulled a ton of weeds along the fence between my property and the open space preserve. I left a huge pile of weeds, figuring I would haul them to the trash later. I took a shower and a nap.

When I went out to the gardens to get my daily snapshots of flowers, I leaned in close near a hanging basket and something hit me in the head and flew away. I didn’t see what it was, but I did see this in the hanging basket:

mourning dove eggs

That was not there six hours earlier. Mommy, presumably with help from daddy, found my pile of weeds, built a nest a few feet away, and deposited two eggs in only four or five hours. Fortunately, after me disturbing mommy (presumably), she came back to take care of those eggs:

momma mourning dove on nest

Research indicates that it takes about 14 days for mourning dove eggs to hatch and another 15 days for the little ones to leave the nest and go exploring the world.

I got a picture of a little bird on Day 13.

Mourning dove

And on Day 14, today!, I got a picture of two little birds!

Mourning doves

And then there were three. I’m so happy! Now our goal is to help mommy protect these two little ones for the next couple of weeks so they can fly away, fly away.

Quarantine Weight Loss Tip (5/23/20)

Dr. Russel

QUARANTINE WEIGHT LOSS TIP

Fine, furry, four-legged friends (dogs!)Get a dog or 2, or more. The bigger the better.

Dogs will eat anything.

When you have that plate of food in front of you, thinking about the weight you’ll gain by eating it, just call the dog(s) over and feed those poor, starving furry ones.

Dogs will be happy and will love you forever, and you’ll lose weight.

Problem solved!

You’re welcome!
—Dr. Russel

Introducing Dr. Russel!

Dr. Russel

Dr. John, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, Dr. Oz, Dr. Ruth….

I have decided to be Dr. Russel.

I shall be sharing tips & tricks to make life easier.

What may I help you with today?

Audience member: Hello, Dr. Russel! Do you have any tips for losing weight in quarantine?

Dr. Russel: Of course. Here are some of the best.

    1. Don’t eat!
    2. Unplug the microwave.
    3. Do not use the oven or cooktop. A side benefit of not using the oven or cooktop is that the smoke alarm never will go off!
    4. Believe me!Run up and down the hallway while making as much noise as possible. Particularly effective at 4:00 a.m. Also should be effective after quarantine since it was effective before quarantine.

You’re welcome!
—Dr. Russel

Hoping I can’t go into one of my gardens for about a month

Picture of the Moment

I got up at 5:30 this morning to go pull weeds and clear dead brush along the fence. Nothing unusual about that.

I just went out to take pictures of the cactus flowers that are blooming. I leaned in close with my 90mm macro lens and suddenly something hit me in the head and went flying away.

The last time I was hit in the head by something flying was 1968 under the Congress Avenue bridge in Austin. That time was a flying bat (if you’ve never seen the bats take to the skies at dusk at the Congress Avenue bridge, go!).

This time, it was a momma mourning dove. Interestingly, she and her nest were not there at 6:00 this morning. In a mere six hours she (and daddy?) built a nest out of brush laying in a pile nearby, and she laid two eggs in it.

mourning dove eggs

I’m so happy because the last time I had baby birds was annually from 1968-1973 in my wise old grandmother’s yard. I had built a bird house using a Boy Scout handbook and attached it high in our ash tree. A family of screech owls moved in. They are known to use the same nesting site annually, and they did.

Research indicates that it takes 14 days for mourning dove eggs to hatch and another 15 days for the little ones to take off on their own.

Fortunately, I have most of the weeds pulled in this area, and the rest can wait for a month. The presence of momma and, hopefully, two little ones means that any future pictures from my retaining wall gardens will have to be taken through the window in my home office using my 600mm lens. Can’t wait to see how those turn out.

It takes me 4 minutes to walk from the sunny retaining wall gardens back to the home office. By the time I got back inside and looked out the window, momma bird was back on the nest.

momma mourning dove on nest

Music on Mondays—He accepted my offer and conditions

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Over on Facebook, people are doing all sorts of things to stay connected but without all the political negativity and dystopian COVID-19 news.

Some of them are posting games requiring someone to tag you so that you can play. Then you have to tag someone else.

I have participated in some of them, but no one has tagged me for the one I really want to participate in: Post ten albums that influenced your life and your music interests, one per day. Just the album covers. Nothing else.

Well screw that.

I want to know what about the album influenced them!

Since I want more than just album covers, and I haven’t been invited to play with them in spite of all my friends knowing how much I am involved in music, well, I’ll play with myself.

Wait.

No.

I’ll play by myself.

Better.

So here they are, with explanatory material.

My wise old grandmother gave me a small, portable reel-to-reel tape recorder for Christmas 1968. That complemented the transister bedside AM/FM radio she had given me for my birthday in March 1968. It was hard for anything to drag me away from my radio and tape recorder, especially after I discovered KLOL FM in Houston. Lots of music, very little talk.

When friends would come over, we’d listen to my recordings. When I turned 18 in March 1973, all of those friends threw me a surprise birthday party. Since my wise old grandmother could not afford to buy me a senior ring, my friends presented me with one at my birthday party. Still have it. Although I wore it until I received my Texas A&M University ring in Fall 1976, it was not my favorite birthday present. Along with everyone contributing to the cost of my senior ring, each friend had bought me an album, so all ten of the albums listed here were given to me at my 18th birthday party, and they really have influenced my listening because some of these—Black Sabbath & Led Zeppelin—I never would have bought on my own.

It’s difficult for me to list albums according to which is my favorite, and after spending thirty minutes trying to do that with these ten, I gave up. Here they are in alphabetical order by title of album.

  1. Abbey Road by The BeatlesAbbey Road by The Beatles—Everyone knew that I was a huge Beatles fan. I knew the words to all their music and you could often find me singing Beatles songs on my walks between classes. “Come Together,” “Something,” “Here Comes The Sun”…. I was in heaven.
  2. All Things Must Pass by George Harrison—This was an expensive triple album given to me by Larry All Things Must Pass by George Harrisonand Sharon. Larry probably was my best friend then and is the one who got me interested in motorcycles. He had a paper route in the rural areas between Corpus Christi and Kingsville. One night I sneaked out my bedroom window and went with Larry on his motorcycle to Corpus Christi to get the papers. I threw papers left and right on the 45 miles home. Since we finished early, we went out to the caliche pits to do donuts on his bike. Caliche is gravel; we hit a soft spot and laid that bike down. My whole right side was bloody and full of gravel. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. Until I got home. I was grounded until high school graduation a few weeks later.
  3. Best of the Beach Boys Vol. III by The Beach BoysBest of the Beach Boys Vol. III by The Beach Boys—The Beach Boys were right up there with The Beatles and The Who as my favorite singers. Every song was singable, and the harmonies were just gorgeous.
  4. Black Sabbath Vol. 4 by Black Sabbath—When I put Black Sabbath Vol. 4 by Black Sabbaththis on my little Sears stereo turntable, I was stunned. My wise old grandmother, on the other hand….. Well, she wasn’t thrilled with The Beatles, so you can imagine what she thought about black satanic death metal music. Steve gave me this album. Steve and I played violin in orchestra. I never would have thought he was into this kind of music, and I never would have thought that he would think that I was into this kind of music. Well, he was, and I was.
  5. Made In Japan by Deep PurpleMade In Japan by Deep Purple—Jaime’s family owned the local lumber store. They lived in a beautiful brick house (brick!), had awesome cars (Jaime had a Pontiac Trans Am) and awesome stereo systems (Jaime loved bass; he probably had the nation’s first boom boom boom bass stereo system in his car). In other words, his family was one of the richest in town, so he could afford to give me this double album all by himself.
  6. Led Zeppelin IV by Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin—This album made me a Zep fan for the ages. Physical Graffiti, however, is my favorite Zep album. This is #2.
  7. Paranoid by Black Sabbath—Ooopsy. Two black satanic death metal music albums. When “Iron Man,” came on, well, my wise old grandmother Paranoid by Black Sabbathcame storming into my room wanting to know what the hell I was listening to. At the time I did not know what black satanic death metal music was, but now I find it funny that she asked what the hell I was listening to. I told her, “I am Iron Man.” She did not think that was funny.
  8. Ram by Paul & Linda McCartneyRam by Paul & Linda McCartney—Paul McCartney was, and still is, my favorite Beatle. This album was released in May 1971 and had “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” on it. This was my favorite solo album by any of The Beatles until Wings released Band on the Run in December 1973.
  9. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles—What I thought then was The Beatles’ greatest album. Every. single. song. was immediately singable since the words were printed on the album cover, the first album in history to print the lyrics to all the songs.
  10. Who's Next? by The WhoWho’s Next? by The Who—I had been a fan of The Who since 1966 when they released “I’m A Boy.” When my birth mom enrolled me in first grade in Utah, in the gender section she checked the female box. I never forgot that, so when “I’m A Boy” was released, I picked right up on those lyrics—I’m a boy, I’m a boy, but my mom won’t admit it. By that time, though, I was living with my wise old grandmother in Kingsville, Texas, the city of my birth. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is on this album and is my favorite song by The Who, although just barely beating out “Love, Reign O’er Me” from Quadrophenia.

Dark Side of the Moon by Pink FloydIn the ensuing three months between my birthday and high school graduation, Jaime, Larry, Richard, and Steve introduced me to more Black Sabbath, more Led Zeppelin, more Deep Purple, and Pink Floyd.

After high school graduation, Jaime, Larry, and I went on a driving tour of every Lower 48 state west of the Mississippi River. Larry had bought himself a 1973 Buick Apollo with savings from his paper route, so we decided to put some miles on it…. as soon as he installed an 8-track tape player in it so we could have some listening music. We took off on June 1 and got back on August 15 after having visited every state, ever national park, every national monument, every national forest, and every city of more than 100,000 population.

And the music! THE MUSIC!

After 10 weeks on the road with no wise old grandmother to supervise my listening interests, I was into all sorts of deviant music.

We were in Yellowstone Park on the Fourth of July when it snowed on us. Throughout our journey, we were just stopping anywhere and setting up camp. We had a tent, but we rarely used it. We went to bed with starry skies and woke up covered in snow. After that, we decided to always set up the tent.

Who Do We Think We Are by Deep PurpleAs we were leaving Yellowstone through Gardiner, Montana, we stopped for gas. The gas station convenience store had a huge selection of 8-track tapes for sale. I bought “Who Do We Think We Are” by Deep Purple. When we got back to Texas, I gave the 8-track to Larry for his collection, providing that he took me to the record store so I could buy the vinyl. He accepted my offer and conditions.

I have a vast music collection of both classical and non-classical music, over 3,132 hours. All of the groups noted above are represented in my collection with their complete discographies.