Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

False.

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.

It only took 20 years

Ever since stamps.com came along in the late ’90s, I have wanted to use them. I wanted to create my own flower and pet stamps. Each year when I checked them, I found their monthly charge and their charge for stamp labels to be too expensive.

Still is.

Currently, they are $17.99 a month with $5 free postage initially.

I created an account today, though. Only took me 20 years!

I can create custom stamps but those approved by the USPS are too expensive because they have to be printed on USPS-approved labels. I can print directly on an envelope but where I want to print them—just to the left of the meter indicia—is not approved.

So I resorted to doing things the old-fashioned way by putting an image in the lower left corner.

I print the envelopes using Word/Excel mail merge and then print the metered postage on them.

Interestingly, metered postage gets a discount. The 2020 rate for first class postage is 55¢. Metered first class postage is 50¢. If one has a lot of mail each month, it’s easy to make the figures pencil out.

I will be sending Nature’s Geometry: Succulents flyers to horticulture clubs, gardening clubs, cactus & succulent clubs, retirement homes, and libraries in an effort to speak to their members, residents, and patrons.

I am sending flyers to everyone in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. It probably will take me a couple of months since I already have several thousand in my database.

Here is my first envelope.

Envelope using stamps.com

Movie Review—Geostorm

TV & Movie Reviews

My retirement years have allowed me to add television and music to my day, complementing my addiction to music, photography, and gardening.

Jim and I unsubscribed to cable in September 2013 when the cost got to $100 a month and there was nothing on that we cared to watch. We did without until September 2017, a couple of months after moving to the East San Diego County boondocks. We are so far out in the boondocks that there is no cable out here. In order to get to the Internet, I had to buy an AT&T GoPro mobile hotspot. I bought two, one as a backup just in case, because you know that things go wrong when you need them the most.

Still, though, a mobile hotspot doesn’t necessarily get you “cable” access. In my extensive searching to find what I needed, I discovered Hulu, Netflix, YouTubeTV, Starz, and LiveTV.

LiveTV had my initial interest because it provided access to local TV, sports, news, and weather. However, in order to provide local programming, it has to know where you are. Consequently, mobile hotspots are verboten simply because they are mobile. LiveTV doesn’t want me to travel to Los Angeles and get access to my local programming back home.

Facebook, though, knowing (somehow!) that I had checked into LiveTV recommended YouTubeTV. That intrigued me since I have had a YouTube channel for about a decade. Turns out that YouTubeTV provides local programming, local news/weather/sports. It even provides streaming live events, such as college and professional sports. Interested in your college’s sports? If your college is streaming them, you probably can find them on YouTubeTV.

I wasn’t quite enamored of Hulu and Netflix because everything that I wanted to watch wasn’t available on those two services. When I mentioned on Facebook my dissatisfaction with Hulu and Netflix, one person mentioned that many movies not on Hulu or Netflix are available for rent or purchase on YouTube. Yes! YouTube. Not YouTubeTV. Just plain old YouTube. I started renting movies and TV programs on YouTube.

Whenever I watch Hulu, Netflix, or YouTube TV, those services often recommend other watching based on what I have already watched. I noticed that many TV programs and movies recently released by their copyright owners were available free, for about a week, on YouTubeTV, at which point they were moved over to plain old YouTube where one could rent or buy them.

GeostormRecently, YouTubeTV recommended a 2017 movie, Geostorm. It looked like my type of movie. It was. Watched it twice! I rarely watching anything more than once.

The only actors in Geostorm with whom I was familiar are Andy Garcia and Ed Harris. That might tell you how many decades behind I am in watching TV and movies because the film had a large budget of $120 million, and every actor listed in Wikipedia has a link to his own Wikipedia page.

The plot centers around catastrophic natural disasters, a network of climate-controlling satellites, and the International Space Station. The climate-controlling satellites and the International Space Station have been sabotaged via a computer virus, which is causing multiple extreme weather disasters on Earth.

The extreme weather events race toward a climax, called a geostorm, and that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Turns out that a certain person (not noted here in order not to be a spoiler) is attempting to wipe out the Democratic National Convention so that everyone in front of him in the line of succession to the presidency is dead. Who could argue with a natural disaster hitting a convention and everyone being killed? Seems so, uh, natural.

I thought the acting was superb, which I guess is to be expected considering the budget and all the links to those actors’ personal Wikipedia pages. Special effects also were superb, and that’s where I initially thought that all the budget money was spent.

Geostorm is considered a box office success because it grossed $221.6 million on that $120 million budget. Total running time is 106 minutes.

I did not find a good review of Geostorm for my post here. Seems all the critics hated it—cheesy, bad dialogue, stereotypical disaster movie, etc. None of those bother me because I just love disaster movies. It’s the disaster that captures my attention. If you’re like me and can “tolerate” science fiction, futuristic movies, dystopian movies, fantasy movies, etc., I think you can easily enjoy Geostorm, especially since it has a “climate change” theme underlying it. Relevant to today’s world. I highly recommend it.

Geostorm came out in 2017 and is set in 2019, so you better watch it quickly before it becomes history instead of the future!

Geostorm

Asset protection

Did you know?

Many decades ago when I got involved in real estate in Texas, my real estate attorney advised me to practice asset protection. I did. As I discovered then, if one works in a highly litigious industry, such as real estate, protecting one’s assets is simply a part of good business practice.

Many states provide for asset protection by forming a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). California is not one of those states, but there are other ways to get the job done.Asset Protection by Robert J. Mintz

When I started my California real estate home inspection company in 2001, I discovered the law office of Robert J. Mintz, an attorney based a few miles north of me and specializing in asset protection. In fact, he has a great book titled Asset Protection for Physicians and High-Risk Business Owners. Hard copy is is available free on his web site, or you can read it online or get a Kindle version.

Get it here. Scroll all the way down and look at the lower right side.

The cool thing is that when you retire from your high-risk profession, you don’t have to unprotect the assets. Each state is different, so get Mintz’s book and use that as a starting point for thinking about your assets and how to protect them should something happen in your life that resulted in a lawsuit against you. That something could be as simple as someone tripping and falling on your property while at a holiday party and suing you for massive medical bills.

Nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice. Use it as a starting point and then contact a qualified asset protection attorney in your state.

Take that, rats!

Picture of the Moment

One of my favorite bushes/trees is Iochroma cyaneum. It’s flowers look like this:

Iochroma cyanea

With regular watering, it pretty much blooms all year. Sadly, though, when it is blooming, the big gigantic really really huge East San Diego County boondocks rats eat the flowers.

I have seen the rats jump from the fence and other trees into the Iochroma cyaneum to eat the flowers.

Early this morning I noticed that the leaves were looking a little sad. Sad? Ha! There are no leaves. It has been completely stripped by five of these alien creatures.

Big fat caterpillar

I give up. Sometime this week the remnants of this tree shall be removed and a tall cactus or succulent shall be planted in its place. Take that, rats!

And now you know….

Did you know?

A friend of mine, Kelly Griffin, is one of the world’s foremost hybridizers of aloes, which means he creates new plants without the approval of Mother & Father Nature. When one creates a new plant, one gets to name it. Some of Kelly’s hybrids named by him include:

Aloe ‘Bright Star’

Aloe ‘Christmas Carol’

Aloe ‘Coral Edge’

Aloe ‘Draculas Blood’

Aloe ‘Raspberry Ruffles’

Aloe ‘AJR’

Aloe ‘Papa Woody’

Mother & Father Nature sometimes create hybrids on their own, so simply calling it a hybrid in the plant community doesn’t work because people want to know if it’s a natural hybrid or a human-created hybrid.

There are two ways to write the name of human-created hybrids, one using cv. to mean cultivar, and the other to put the name of the cultivar in single quotes.

Sometimes hybridizers name plants after people (‘Papa Woody’). Other times they name them because of what the plant looks like or what it reminds them of.

One of the more interesting cultivars in the plant world is this one:

Lophocereus schottii cv, Big Penis Cactus

Its name is Lophocereus schottii cv. Big Penis Cactus. It’s a name that is difficult to say in polite company and, perhaps, not safe for viewing at work.

I had four of these plants until I gave one away yesterday to a friend who owns a plant nursery. The following picture shows the other three, with the small one at right being the one I gave away. The middle plant is about four feet tall.

Lophocereus schottii cv. Big Penis Cactus

And now you know….

 

Double R Creations & Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos