Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.




SNIPPETS (7/26/20)



Plants in our small gardens rarely have the room to grow as big as they do in their native habitats. The pictures below are Ferocactus cylindraceus, the first one from my small garden and the second one from its native habitat in California’s Mojave Desert.

Ferocactus cylindraceus

Ferocactus cylindraceus


Little Queen Olivia was in one of her weird moods earlier this morning, rolling all over the living room floor showing me her Sunday morning yoga poses.

Little Queen Olivia

Little Queen Olivia

Little Queen Olivia


Seems that lots of people, including me, are doing genealogical research during their pandemic self-isolation. I think I found my roots.

Tree roots


Whenever I asked my wise old grandmother if I could do something that she didn’t approve of, her answer often was “When pigs fly!” I think 2020 is the year when we just might see pigs fly.

When pigs fly


I saw a couple of days ago that the fortune of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, grew by $13 billion in a single day. Boggles my mind that so many people are angry at unemployed workers getting $600/week in unemployment. If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that capitalism needs a serious makeover. Perhaps it’s time for the people to stop fighting over scraps from the table and overthrow the damn table. How much is enough?

Quarantine Weight Loss Tip (5/23/20)

Dr. Russel


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

Best Halloween Ever!

A very interesting Halloween last night.

Good to see the kids social distancing.

And the masks. O.M.G. There were some great masks, especially of President Twitler, who won the night with over 500 kids wearing masks of him.

I handed out over a thousand pieces of candy (Three Musketeers, Milky Way, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kat).

Some of the kids were asking for toilet paper.

Ha! Been there, done that.

I wasn’t about to give them toilet paper so they could go TP the house down the road, or even come back later and TP my house.

They must think we old farts are stupid.



It was the 31st, though.


Darn after midnight, margarita-inspired nightmares.

Out & About—San Andreas Fault

Out & About

I had speaking engagements this past week with the Bakersfield Cactus & Succulent Society (Tuesday) and the San Gabriel Valley (Los Angeles) Cactus & Succulent Society (Thursday). My topic was Nature’s Geometry in Succulents. Both meetings were evening meetings, so I had a lot of daylight both days to go touring. Not to mention all day Wednesday between the two meetings.

I had created a list of places to visit and things to do, leaving at 4:53 a.m. on 2/11/20 for final destination Bakersfield. Google Maps said it would take me 3 hours and 50 minutes to drive from San Diego to Bakersfield. Ha! It took ten hours! TEN HOURS! In defense of Google Maps, though, I stopped here, there, and everywhere to take pictures, pictures which will provide lots of future blogs posts. First on my list was the….

San Andreas Fault

I always have been fascinated with the creation of the Earth, never believing that God was finished creating it. Ergo, earthquakes and volcanoes.

Several years ago I bought a book by David K. Lynch titled Field Guide to the San Andreas Fault. It has twelve driving tours to view anything and everything related to the San Andreas Fault. I took Trip #3 through the San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino to Palmdale.

San Andreas Fault Trip #3

The San Andreas Fault crosses the drive at many points, but the spot I was particularly interested in was one where the fault crosses the road diagonally and is marked on both sides of the road by signs.

San Andreas Fault

San Andreas Fault

Even though that spot was at the top of my San Andreas Fault list, I found two other spots that were far more interesting. The first was where the fault created a rift. On the right side of the rift was the North American Tectonic Plate, and on the left side was the Pacific Tectonic Plate. In the picture below, the train is traveling south on the North American Plate, and I’m on the highway traveling north on the Pacific Plate. How appropriate since the North American Plate also is moving south and the Pacific Plate is moving north. Long-time readers know how infatuated I am with trains, so this picture is my favorite of the fault.

San Andreas Fault

As a former general contractor, Realtor, and home inspector (among other real estate ventures), I found the village of Wrightwood fascinating.

Wrightwood, California

There are 4,500 people in Wrightwood living at about 6,000 feet elevation. All of the houses appeared to be constructed completely of wood: framing, siding, and roofs. The reason is because wood flexes, so earthquake damage won’t be near as massive as it would be with concrete, brick, and stucco buildings.

Wrightwood, California

The fault runs directly through the village, creating offsets, sag ponds, and scarps. A sag pond is a body of fresh water collected in the lowest parts of a depression formed between two sides of a fault, mostly strike-slip faults. Sag ponds are quite common along the San Andreas Fault. Sag ponds have been converted into reservoirs for both livestock and public water resources. One of the sag ponds at Wrightwood had been turned into a community swimming pool.

Sag pond in Wrightwood, California

Nature’s Geometry: Succulents—Orostachys spirals

Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

I’m always on the prowl for plants that exhibit relationships derived from the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. The sequence was published by Leonardo Pisano Bigollo (ca. 1170–1250), better known as Fibonacci, in 1202 in his book, Liber Abaci. (In his book, Fibonacci also introduced Arabic numerals to the Western world. If not for him, we might still be using Roman numerals!)

Fibonacci introduced the Fibonacci sequence of numbers to solve a problem on rabbit breeding. Apparently, rabbit overpopulation was a serious problem in Italy in his time. Here’s the problem:

Beginning with a single pair of rabbits (one male and one female), how many pairs of rabbits will be born in a year, assuming that every month each male and female rabbit gives birth to a new pair of rabbits, and the new pair of rabbits itself starts giving birth to additional pairs of rabbits after the first month of their birth?

Rabbit bathFibonacci determined that the first pair of rabbits would have 377 pairs of rabbits, or 754 rabbits during the year (assuming no rabbit deaths!). If you’ve ever taken care of rabbits for an extended period of time, you know that 754 rabbits is a gross undervalue!

Without going into a great deal of mathematics, the relationship between individual numbers in the Fibonacci sequence creates what are called golden segments, golden ratios, golden squares, golden triangles, and golden spirals.

I became fascinated with the Fibonacci sequence in 1972, and how they manifest themselves throughout nature and the universe.

Golden spirals are my favorite, and I recently discovered the Orostachys genus, species of which are absolutely gorgeous in their display of spirals. Here are two pictures of Orostachys spinosa, a plant that now is high on my list of must-have plants:

Orostachys spinosa

Mental health

I grew up in the generation where mental health was not talked about, and if it was, usually it was mocked. Young people were “crazy” and old people were “senile.” The health profession has made significant advances in the ensuing fifty years, so when I retired and started having to deal more regularly with depression, I also was able to find out more about it.

One of the symptoms of depression is anger. Throughout my life, very little has made me angry enough to harm people (myself) or be destructive. Such feelings had become way too commonplace over the last three years. I could dismiss the feelings if I kept myself busy, but as a polyphasic sleeper, it’s been hard to keep myself busy for 12-18 hours a day.

The anger started causing me concern, though, so I finally took the necessary step, visiting my doctor and asking to be put on an anti-depressant. After listening to me for thirty minutes, he put me on Fluoxetine, 10 mg, daily dosage. He said it might take up to two weeks to see results. Yesterday was the end of day three on Fluoxetine, but I can tell you that it only took two days to feel results.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts or severe anger issues, I highly recommend discussing your issues with your doctor. If you’re somewhat embarrassed about being on anti-depressants, well, you don’t have to tell anyone.

Our health is important, though, especially as the current president and his crime family, as well as his enablers and supporters in our legislatures, attempt to take away our health insurance.

Fighting depression

After a lifetime of working and volunteering, I find myself really depressed after retiring on December 31, 2016. Since I was self-employed for 90% of my working life, I had to become an expert in many areas related to business: marketing & advertising (they are different), accounting, actual work, taxes, customer service, and negotiating, just to name a few.

I am endeavoring to do a few things that I have always wanted to do, such as publishing a book. I finished my first book, Nature’s Geometry: Succulents, in October 2019.

Cover of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents" by Russel Ray

I worked on it 12-18 hours a day from mid-June to October. It kept me busy and out of trouble.

Spiny Succulents, by Jeff MoorePrior to that, I did the final editing and design layout for Jeff Moore’s fourth book on succulents, comprising 350 pages and about 1500 pictures.

I started that on January 28, 2019, and finished in mid-June. I think I worked on it for 18-24 hours a day because I did pull a couple of all-nighters. It was like I was back in college albeit without the keg parties.

United States SSS mapJanuary 28 through October was the only time since retirement that I have not be depressed on a daily basis. Those months caused me to realize just how much I love reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, not to mention photography. Late last year I hit upon the idea of writing another book, to be titled SSS: Southwest Succulent Staycation. I would explore finding succulents in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. Those four states pretty much take in the southwest United States.

The problem I immediately ran into is that they are four big states. It’s not like the northeast where you could go to eight or nine states all in a week or less. To explore these four big states and get appropriate material for my book would take a year or two. Just finding the places that I need to visit already has taken all of January, and I’m nowhere near finished.

When I have a significant problem to work on, I take a nap. These are not your normal naps, though, because I don’t fall asleep. The problem weighs on my mind. It’s kind of like daydreaming.

A couple of days ago I took a nap in order to work on this problem and came up with what I think is a brilliant idea.

There’s no doubt that a book covering succulents in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah is going to be a pretty big book, taking a pretty long time to complete, and costing a pretty penny.

My nap showed me that I could make four books, and instead of huge 8½x8½ books or larger, I could make “pocket books” (4.25″ x 6.75″) which would be better for actually using them during your staycation. The pocket books would cost less money and provide me with something to do immediately since I can easily create California’s book starting today.

My Nature’s Geometry: Succulents book has landed me on the cactus & succulent club speaking circuit, and publishing four more books instead of one book would keep me on the circuit. Second and third editions could keep me going for many years, and having five books to sell instead of one or two keeps clubs happy. They like variety, having choices.

I also can work on four books simultaneously since I do have enough pictures from all four states to give me a good start. Working on four books, traveling on the speaking circuit, and traveling to get pictures of places I have not been definitely could keep the depression at bay.

Of course, I would miss my husband and Little Queen Olivia while I was traveling. The lazy ass cat will never know I’m gone….

Little Queen Olivia

Designated Survivor

I want to know!

Designated SurvivorI finished watching “Designated Survivor” starring Keifer Sutherland as the Designated Survivor/President of the United States.

I thought all three seasons were excellent.

I think I liked it specifically because each episode could stand on its own, and the episode topics are relevant to what’s going on in the U.S. and the world right now with the Twitler Crime Family Syndicate, Boris Johnson in England, Doug Ford in Alberta, Canada, and probably others whose names escape me at the moment.

Topics like

  • politics,
  • dirty politics,
  • politics of stupidity,
  • crime politics,
  • biological warfare,
  • nuclear warfare,
  • espionage,
  • treason,
  • Big Brother,
  • LGBTQ rights,
  • bigotry,
  • misogyny,
  • racism,
  • mental health,
  • etc.

I highly recommend it.

I also thought Keifer Sutherland was extraordinarily good.

As an aside, did you know that Keifer Sutherland’s full name is
Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland.

As a double aside, did you know that Keifer Sutherland was married to Camelia Kath, widow of Chicago’s original lead guitarist, Terry Kath, who died playing Russian Roulette?

As a triple aside, Sutherland also dated Bo Derek and was engaged to Julia Roberts when the engagement went south three days before the wedding date.

Notwithstanding all of that, I want to know what’s behind his full name!

A little late, but here’s my new year’s resolution

Way back in 1966, my wise old grandmother told me, “You can’t argue with a person’s beliefs.” It was true then, and I believe it is even truer in today’s world.

In less than two weeks I have had experiences with three people and their beliefs. The first was in person when I had sold one of my books, Nature’s Geometry: Succulents, to a person in Carlsbad, a coastal city about 40 miles from me. I consider that “close by,” so they can get personal delivery if they’d like.

When I arrived at her house, she had the beginnings of a beautifully landscaped front yard. Gorgeous river rock lining the curb walkway, the driveway, and the walkway to the front door. I asked her where she got the beautiful river rock. She said that she got it from the South Carlsbad State Beach. When I told her that taking rocks from the beach like that was illegal, she informed me that one could take up to a bucket full of rocks per day.


She said she would send me a link to the site that told her that, and I told her I would send her a link to city, county, and state laws.

When I got home, I found that she had sent me a link to a blog that said one could take “up to a bucket full of rocks on each visit, but no more than one bucket per day.” No citations or links to appropriate law. Well, golly gee. That’s like me saying here in my blog that if you go to Amazon you can get free doohickeys just because I say you can. Many decades ago, if it was in print, often, but not always, it was true. In today’s world that is so far from true that it’s laughable.

I sent her a link to city, county, and state law. Basically, they all say something similar to this, from the State of California government web site:

No person shall destroy, disturb, mutilate, or remove earth, sand, gravel, oil, minerals, rocks, paleontological features, or features of caves except rockhounding may be permitted as defined and delineated in Sections 4610 through 4610.10.

Undisturbed rocks

A-ha! (not the group). I knew when I read “rockhounding” exactly what was going on. Rockhounding is defined as

the recreational gathering of stones and minerals found occurring naturally on the undisturbed surface of the land…. Rock or mineral collection is limited to 15 pounds per day…. [E]xcept for the use of goldpans, no other tools may be used for rockhounding.

In other words, rockhounding is to let children (and even adults) collect pretty or unusual rocks for their home collection. If one is on an extended walk along the beach or up in the mountains, one can collect up to 15 pounds per day, which is about a standard 5-gallon bucket full. Note, though, that one cannot use tools, so shovels and pick axes, as well as actual buckets, are not allowed. They are tools. See a pretty rock siting sitting naturally on the undisturbed surface of the land? Yes, you may pick it up and take it with you. If it’s small enough, you can put it in your pocket. If it’s too large for your pocket, you can carry it by hand. You may not use a wheel barrow or get assistance from your friends to carry a huge boulder back to your car. Yes, even friendly assistance is a “tool.”

I told my new acquaintance two things: First, imagine just 1% of the 1 million visitors annual to South Carlsbad State Beach taking 15 pounds of rocks. By the end of the year, there would be no rocks left for us to enjoy next year. Second, taking rocks for your own personal landscaping is not “rockhounding” by any stretch of the definition. That is defined as theft under the law, making one a thief. It’s stealing.

She got all upset. Yes, facts and citations will do that to people who have beliefs.

The second and third instances were in the new year of 2020 in two Facebook groups of which I am a member. I provided citations, sources, and references, and links to same. As one person said, “Those don’t match my belief.” Indeed, and no facts or truth will.

I like to help people on Facebook when I can. When I can’t, I just scroll on by. I do not find it necessary to leave a comment like, “I don’t know what that is.” Leaving such comments is the written way to hear yourself talk.

After those two Facebook instances, I decided that, for the first time in my life, I would make a new year’s resolution, albeit a few days late:

I resolve NOT to try to help anyone on Facebook that I don’t know well. If I see a post asking for help, I’ll just scroll on by.

There are people sitting behind their desks who know far more than me because they watched a YouTube video, or read it on a blogger’s website. Screw my links to reputable sources in peer-reviewed journals, magazines, books, and—gasp!—the law.