Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good day

Jim, Zoey the Cool Cat, and I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope your Thanksgiving is as great as mine!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Music on Mondays (11-21-16)—On the rebound with one way love

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I currently have 1,565 hours, 48 minutes, and 17 seconds of digital music in my non-classical music collection. I started piano lessons at the age of 2, violin lessons at 6, voice lessons at 10, and music collecting lessons at 11. Actually, though, I’m self-taught with music collecting.

When I left College Station, Texas, in the dead of night on April 15, 1993, I had 5,000+ vinyl albums, 500+ vinyl 45s, and about 400 CDs. I took 100 CDs with me and left everything else behind; I just needed enough music to get me to where I was going on a one-way trip. I never got there, instead winding up in San Diego where I would choose to live and start my music collecting all over. Those 100 CDs gave me a good basic collection to start with since I had a complete collection of Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Black Sabbath.

I actually didn’t start my music collecting again until eight years later, mainly because, although I lived in San Diego, I was a consultant in the wireless telecommunications industry, so I was working in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Tampa, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Boston, and 17 other cities. I was only home in San Diego two weekends a month for several years.

Fast forward to 2007. I had a room full of CDs, several thousand of them. I had a complete collection of all the #1 singles and #1 albums from 1955 to 2007. Since I was born in 1955 and the rock ‘n’ roll generation started in 1955, it was just something unique for me to do. I finally quit when I couldn’t take all the rap and hip-hop with cussing worse than my grandfather…. still collect music, though, always looking for something to add to my collection that makes me move.

Long-time readers here know that I have a method to everything in my life, and my method here is simply to go line by line through Joel Whitburn’s book “Top Pop Singles,” currently in its 15th edition, subtitled “1955-2015.” Checking out the pop singles sometimes leads me to an album that I like, which sometimes leads me to a new group that I like.

Currently I’m in the B’s. Following are two songs I recently discovered that are now in my collection, and, so far, each artist also now has at least one album in my collection. Might be more as I continue to listen to their albums.

On The Rebound by Russ Ballard (1980)
Peaked at #58 on the Billboard Hot 100

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One Way Love Bandit (1979)
Peaked at #77 on the Billboard Hot 100

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

New blogging friends, apple cider vinegar, EVCO, and Zoey the Cool Cat

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Perhaps the thing I like best about blogging is getting to know so many people—without having to drive to an airport, park the car, stand in line to go through security, go through security, stand in line to check baggage, stand in line to get on the plane. I dislike standing in lines. Dislike them immensely.—and getting to know what bothers them, what interests them, their families and friends, and even what ails them,

So here’s a story about what ails me and how I found satisfaction from someone who recently followed me. I don’t remember who, sadly, but I’m sure I’ll run into them again.

I was born and raised in Deep South Texas. It’s pretty sunny down there. I always have enjoyed the sun, to the extent that some of my friends call me a Sun Bunny. When people asked me what makes me happy, I used to say, “Keep me south of Interstate 10 and I’m pretty happy.” Interstate 10 runs cross-country from Los Angeles CA to Jacksonville FL. 2,460.34 miles. Lots of sunshine south of Interstate 10.

Since I’m a guy, we’re allowed to summarily run around without shirts, and that was my preferred attire for running around. Now, at the age of 61, I am paying for all that beautiful sunshine. Well, as my wise old grandmother used to say, “You can pay now or you can pay later.” I chose to pay later, and later has come.

I am one great big collection of keratoses, both seborrheic keratosis and actinic keratosis. These things itch. I scratch them. I scratch until I bleed. Sometimes they bleed spontaneously, especially from actinic keratoses on my scalp. Getting a haircut can be bloody, traumatic, and embarrassing, so I don’t get a haircut anymore. I cut my own hair while standing in front of a mirror. Hey, it does save money!

I had been using apple cider vinegar with “The Mother” to control them. It does that, but I’m pretty sure you know that vinegar stinks, which encourages one not to use the stuff.

When I was visiting blogs the other day, a new blog I visited was talking about apple cider vinegar and suggested an alternate. The alternate is Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. I checked at the health store and it’s $21 or so for 16 ounces. I found it at Walmart for $13.88, still three times as expensive as apple cider vinegar. I splurged. I’m pretty much willing to do almost anything to get away from vinegar.

The instructions say that a little goes a long way, and it does. Like Brylcream, a little dab will do ya. It does smell like coconut but it’s not overpowering, probably because it hasn’t been processed to smell like coconut; it’s extra virgin.

It goes on much better than skin lotions like St. Yves. It is not greasy even though it’s an oil. It leaves the skin feeling smooth and silky. No itching, no scratching, no bloodletting. I’m sold

But wait! There’s more!

Zoey the Cool Cat has what the vet termed “dry skin.” At certain times of the year, like right now, she scratches. She will scratch herself bloody, especially around her eyes and ears. She scratches so hard that she will scratch all of her eye and cheek whiskers out if I don’t do something. The vet advised me to give her a bath twice a year, which would be now and in May or so. But let me tell you about the first time I gave her a bath after that vet visit.

A wet Zoey the Cool CatMy doors and windows are open except when I’m not here. With Zoey the Cool Cat’s first bath, she howled like there was no tomorrow. She likes to scratch, too, as she is howling. It took 20 minutes to give her a bath. About 5 minutes after I had finished and dried her off, the front doorbell rang. Two police officers were at the door. There had been a report of screaming coming from my condo. I couldn’t help but chuckle, which did not please the officers. I explained that I had been giving my cat a bath, why I was giving the cat a bath, and produced a wet Zoey the Cool Cat as Exhibit One. One of the officers chuckled himself, saying kind of under his breath, “Been there. Done that.” Ever since then, if Zoey the Cool Cat is going to get a bath, the doors and windows get closed, the blinds and curtains get drawn, and the music gets played a little louder.

Extra Virgin Coconut OilFast forward several years to yesterday. Zoey the Cool Cat is scratching herself bloody. It’s time for a bath. But wait! I wonder if Extra Virgin Coconut Oil would make her feel as good as I do. What the heck. It’s a natural oil so I thought I would try it on her little eyebrows. I put a little dab on each eyebrow yesterday at 2:00 p.m. and rubbed it in.

Did it work?

Yes! Resoundingly! Zoey the Cool Cat was the most peaceful kitty ever yesterday. She didn’t wash the coconut oil off, and she never scratched yesterday, not once!

So, Zoey the Cool Cat and I are sold on Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, what I call EVCO for short.

If you have any sort of skin condition, or you’re simply tired of those man-made skin lotions full of man-made chemicals, try Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Let us know your results. And if you’re the blogger who blogged about apple cider vinegar and EVCO, well, I owe you a margarita!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Music on Mondays (11-14-16)—You may say I’m a dreamer; am I the only one?

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As long-time readers know, I have a lot of digital music, split about evenly in two collections, classical music and non-classical music. I listen to an average of 10 hours each and every day. Common questions I get about music include:

  • Who’s your favorite group?
  • What’s your favorite song?
  • What’s your favorite album?

My favorite group by far is The Beatles. One might think, then, that my favorite song and favorite album might also be by The Beatles. I’m not sure, but The Beatles do have several songs and albums in my Top 20.

I listen to my non-classical music in chronological order, and each time I start over, I decided to determine my favorite song and my favorite album. By the time I finish the Sixties, I have given up.

I am in 1975 right now, and I think I did determine what is my favorite year. It’s 1971. I have jumped ahead and looked at the upcoming years, but once we get out of the Seventies, the amount of music in each year starts decreasing significantly.

Here is a list of albums in my 1971 collection:

  1. First Album – ZZ Top
  2. Salisbury – Uriah Heep
  3. Chicago III – Chicago
  4. Paranoid – Black Sabbath
  5. Crazy Horse – Crazy Horse
  6. Love It To Death – Alice Cooper
  7. The Yes Album – Yes
  8. Percy – The Kinks
  9. Aqualung – Jethro Tull
  10. Manna – Bread
  11. Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones
  12. The Doobie Brothers – The Doobie Brothers
  13. Survival – Grand Funk
  14. Bloodrock 3 – Bloodrock
  15. Thirds – The James Gang
  16. Songs For Beginners – Graham Nash
  17. Ram – Paul & Linda McCartney
  18. L.A. Woman – The Doors
  19. Indelibly Stamped – Supertramp
  20. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour – The Moody Blues
  21. Fireball – Deep Purple
  22. Master Of Reality – Black Sabbath
  23. Who’s Next – The Who
  24. April Wine – April Wine
  25. Harmony – Three Dog Night
  26. Look At Yourself – Uriah Heep
  27. Imagine – John Lennon
  28. Electric Warrior – T Rex
  29. American Pie – Don McLean
  30. Other Voices – The Doors
  31. Distant Light – The Hollies
  32. Meddle – Pink Floyd
  33. Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be – The Sweet
  34. Sittin’ In – Loggins & Messina
  35. Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin
  36. Nilsson Schmilsson – Nilsson
  37. Fragile – Yes
  38. E Pluribus Funk – Grand Funk
  39. Madman Across The Water – Elton John
  40. Killer – Alice Cooper
  41. Trafalgar – Bee Gees
  42. For Ladies Only – Steppenwolf
  43. Straight Up – Badfinger
  44. The Electric Light Orchestra – The Electric Light Orchestra
  45. Wild Life – Wings

That’s 29 hours, 48 minutes, and 23 seconds of music. Takes me three days to listen to it.

If I did the A/B, A/C, A/D, A/E test, I’m pretty sure Led Zeppelin IV would come out on top for 1971. After that, #2 probably would be between Paranoid – Black Sabbath, Ram – Paul & Linda McCartney, L.A. Woman – Doors, Who’s Next? – The Who, and Killer – Alice Cooper. I can’t decide. See? That’s why I give up.

As far as favorite songs for 1971, do I give it to Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, Imagine by John Lennon, or Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who? What about How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? by the Bee Gees? Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull? Without You by Nilsson? Day After Day by Badfinger? I give up, again.

In light of what happened in the presidential election last Tuesday, perhaps a couple of songs and song titles have a message: Imagine, Stairway to Heaven, and Won’t Get Fooled Again. Here they are:

Imagine by John Lennon

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Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

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Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Music on Mondays (11-7-16)—You can be a point of light!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tomorrow is voting in the States of America. Not sure I can call them United at this point.

Back around 2001 or so I was sitting in the yard with my wise old grandmother, her youngest two sons and their families, and my not-yet-husband-because-gays-couldn’t-get-married-he’s-now-my-husband, Jim.

We were in Riviera, Texas, about 12 miles south of Kingsville. Kingsville, my home town, is the halfway stopping point between Corpus Christi and Brownsville. It’s also the yay-we-made-it-across-the-border-with-our-cargo stopping point for drugs entering Texas from the south at Brownsville.

As our conversation turned to politics, Rodney, the oldest of the two sons, started condemning everyone who wasn’t white Anglo-Saxon Catholic. He used every curse word in the books as descriptive adjectives modifying every racial and ethnic epithet in the book. It was the last time I ever visited Kingsville or any of my family in Texas, including my wise old grandmother since she died in 2003. The younger son died in 2005 and Rodney died in 2007.

This person who goes by the proper name of Donald Trump (I have other names for him) could be Rodney re-incarnated. That’s why what comes out of Trump’s mouth only surprises me because he is the defacto leader right now of the Republican Party. He has given people like Rodney permission to come out of their yards and into the public, inciting hatred and violence and saying it’s okay. It’s so sad to see this in one of our (so-called) leaders, especially one who wants to be the leader of the free world.

Music is one way that I get through all days but especially the difficult days. Unfortunately, with this election season the difficult days are numerous.

Let’s explore then, some of the music that has been created over the decades about elections and voting. First up is my favorite,

“Vote for me!” by Joe Walsh.

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“Elected” by Alice Cooper

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos:

“Campaigner” by Neil Young

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“Rise Up” by Sheryl Crow

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“Point of Light” by Randy Travis

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There’s a point when you cannot walk away
There’s a darkness that everyone must face
There are heroes whose names we never hear

When you have to stand up straight and tall and mean the words you say
It wants to take what’s good and fair and lay it all to waste
A dedicated army of quiet volunteers

There’s a point you must decide just to do it ’cause it’s right
And that darkness covers everything in sight
Reaching out to feed the hungry reaching out to save the land

That’s when you become a point of light
Until it meets a single point of light
Reaching out to their fellow men.

All it takes is a point of light a ray of hope in the darkest night.
If you see what’s wrong and you try to make it right you will be a point of light.

There are dreamers who are making dreams come true
Taking time to teach the children there’s nothing they can’t do.
Giving shelter to the homeless giving hope to those without.
Isn’t that what this land’s all about.
One by one form the mountains to the sea points of light
Are calling out to you and me

All it takes is a point of light a ray of hope in the darkest night.
If you see what’s wrong and you try to make it right
You will be a point of light

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Our birds deserve better

I livew in my own little world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I was but a juvenile delinquent of the age of 8 living in Brigham City, Utah, I skipped second grade one day and went with a friend to see Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.” I already had developed a fascination with birds and couldn’t understand why my mom and (step)dad wouldn’t let me go see the movie. This, of course, was prior to films being rated, so it was up to parents to decide what their children could watch. Even though I still was young, impressionable, and brainwashable, the movie did not dampen my love of birds.

I am fortunate to live in San Diego because of the San Diego Zoo and the Zoo’s Safari Park. I have seen birds that I never would have had the opportunity to see if I relied on seeing them in the wild, birds like flamingos, shoebills, and various species of eagles, owls, condors, and vultures.

Necking flamingos at the San Diego ZooNecking flamingos at San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Shoebill at the San Diego Zoo's Safari ParkShoebill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Milky Eagle Owl

Milky eagle owl at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I also am fortunate to live in a coastal area like San Diego because there are over 500 species of birds that can be seen here on a regular basis, some of those stopping by while migrating on the Pacific Flyway.

Possibly my five favorite birds that can be seen on a daily basis roaming around the outdoors are pelicans, great egrets, snowy egrets, great blue herons, and black-crowned night herons.

Snowy egretsSnowy egrets at play at Santee Lakes

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pelicans at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California, north of San Diego.Brown pelicans enjoying the view in La Jolla

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Great Blue Heron with mealGreat blue heron with morning meal at Mission Bay Park

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black-crowned-night-heron-4-one-leg

One-legged black-crowned night heron hanging out at SeaWorld where food is plentiful.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I first saw that black-crowned night heron I thought it was just standing on one leg, but herons don’t typically do that; they are not flamingos. That’s when I noticed that it really did only have one leg. Sadly, birds with just one foot or one leg are common here in San Diego because of all the fishing. They get a foot or leg tangled up in the fishing line which cuts off the circulation and eventually the bird loses that foot or leg. Here is a brown pelican with a missing foot probably due to fishing line entanglement:

Pelican with one foot

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you’re a fisherperson, please dispose of your fishing line properly. All docks have disposal bins with lids on them so that our precious wildlife can’t get tangled up.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

These are a few of my favorite signs

I livew in my own little world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

These are a few of my favorite signs (sung to “These are a few of my favorite things”). These are actual signs I have come across on my photographic expeditions throughout San Diego County:

Remote controlled locomotives

Imagine seeing a 100-ton diesel locomotive coming at you with no engineer.

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Caution: Watch for pedestrians crossing sidewalk

I would be extremely cautious if I saw someone
crossing the sidewalk instead of walking on the sidewalk!

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Bee swarm: Please avoid this area

With such a beautiful sign,
I’m thinking this is not the first time they have had a bee swarm in that area.

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Do not do anything!

Ooopsie.
Well, at least I wasn’t smoking,
drinking alcohol out of glass bottles, and burning pallets.
Burning pallets? Who does that?

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Still a virgin? Call now!Just doing my civic duty to get people the help they need.

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Clothing optionalHey, it didn’t say I couldn’t take pictures!

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Deadly force is authorizedAnd THAT’s why they have a fence!

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In case of earthquake, run for cover before facebooking about itAt least we can tweet about it!

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Best real estate disclosure everBest real estate disclosure ever.

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Fight organized crime, don't re-elect anyoneBest. Advice. Ever.

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Yield to horsesYou’re not in the city anymore.

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Beware of dogLest the dog take a bite out of crime.

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Grow dammitDoes this work for asphalt, too?

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Surf naked, it adds color to your cheeks‘Nough said

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Judgment dayMissed again

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Someone is going to be dancing aloneSomeone is going to be dancing alone.

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Wine a bit. You'll feel better.But my wise old grandmother always told me,
“Don’t wine!”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat