Sunday, September 16, 2012

The "J"

Here is a still-frame from the 1962 film Lonely Are the Brave, starring Kirk Douglas; the scene excerpted here was filmed on the West Mesa of Albuquerque.  As can be seen in the frame -- and just as there used to be a "U" (for "UNM") painted on a small peak in the Sandia foothills -- there once was a "J" painted on a small peak near the escarpment on the West Mesa.  (It stood for the "College of St. Joseph," a Catholic school later known as the University of Albuquerque, which closed in 1986 and whose facilities now house St. Pius X High School.)  The spot where Douglas is riding here (and it is Douglas, not a stand-in) is not far from the present-day location of our daughter Devery's house.  The "J" -- which is now erased, as is the "U" -- is a piece of local history that few Albuquerque residents know about now, although I remember it well from my childhood.  I especially like the fact that it's preserved, if only for a few seconds, in an old Hollywood film.

[Update 10/17/12: Here are a couple of photos from Google Earth.  The one on the left is an aerial view of the "J" -- note that the peak is very obviously an extinct volcano, and that the outline of the "J" is still visible on the eastern face.  The pic on the right is a broader view of the area, showing the location of the "J" relative to Devery's house, as well as the approximate location where the frame from Lonely Are the Brave was photographed.]

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Few Memories

At Dorine's parents' house, Spring 1986
This photo, probably taken sometime in April 1986, brings back a few memories.  The baby in the picture is Devery, and I had broken the fourth metacarpal bone in my left hand while diving for a pop fly in a spring-league softball game.  Since I'm left-handed, I had to write all my final exams the following month with that cast on my hand; needless to say, it wasn't easy!  Dorine and I had been married for about 16 months at that time, and we used to go have Sunday dinner with her parents, Lynn and Rhea Wilson, at their house on Riviera Rd. NE, where this was taken.  After Rhea died of cancer in the spring of 1990, and ever since Lynn's remarriage a year or two later -- to one of his sons' mother-in-law, no less -- we have only rarely visited the house.  (Lynn has gone with us to a lot of Dorine's softball games in the last few years, so we still see him quite often.)  As Dorine says, it just isn't her mother's home anymore.  It seems strange that Rhea has been gone now for more than 22 years, and that my father has been gone for more than 15 years.  Time flies, whether you're having fun or not!

Seeing this photo also reminds me what Dorine looked like before she got braces on her teeth around 1998 (having teeth extracted at the same time).  Orthodontia changed the shape of her mouth quite markedly -- overall, I'd say for the better, although I thought she was beautiful either way.  (The braces were her idea, not mine.)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The End of Summer

Dorine and I in the Sandia foothills
1. We've been working on our back yard, or at least part of it, to plant new grass.  The job has entailed tearing up a lot of roots from the shade tree in back of the house, which roots had, over time, risen up to the surface.  Then, when we roto-tilled the ground on Friday, we tore up a bunch more roots that were just below the surface, leaving me wondering seriously if the tree will survive.  I hope it doesn't fall over on the house!

2. I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about our pets -- Baloo the cat, Gekker the leopard gecko, and Mischa the miniature pinscher.  We finally had pity on Baloo and had him euthanized, and then Gekker expired of extreme gecko old age.  Mischa, however, was relatively young and we expected her to stay healthy for a number of years.  Nonetheless, lately she's lost weight, acts sluggish, and seems to be losing her sight.  Diabetes is the first thing that springs to mind -- I guess we'll be taking her to the vet to find out.

[Update 9/12/12: The veterinarian, indeed, diagnosed Mischa with diabetes.  I never expected to care enough for a pet to give it insulin shots, but that's exactly what we're doing for Mischa; however, surgery to correct the cataracts that she seemingly developed overnight -- and which have left her all but blind -- is pretty much out of our price range, no matter the level of our caring.]

3. As the fall presidential election approaches, it occurs to me that, really, the only reason Barack Obama is even in the running for re-election is that he's African American.  (Of course, race was about 90% of the reason he defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries.)  Is it racist to posit that a Caucasian with Obama's record in office probably would have faced a bruising primary challenge and, at the least, would be polling well behind his opponent from the other major party?  The Dems and their allies in the media have none-too-subtly suggested that there can be no legitimate opposition to Obama's policies -- that all such opposition is, by definition, fueled by racism.  Others have said it more eloquently, but when "racism" encompasses sincere policy differences, the word really has lost most of its meaning, and, if enough people wake up to that reality, Mitt Romney will be president next year

4. When I was growing up, both of my parents were registered Democrats (and, for all I know, my mother could still be one).  As the Democratic Party moved steadily left-ward in the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, my father became a Republican and died an arch-conservative.  The biggest difficulties I would have with being a Democrat these days are (a) the fact that unrestricted abortion rights (including late-term abortions) are practically the central sacrament of the quasi-church of Democrat "progressivism," and (b) the fact that the Dems continue to expand government entitlements drastically without any realistic means of paying for them.  No matter what one believes about abortion rights, there simply is no good justification for a third-trimester abortion -- it's baby-killing, pure and simple.  And no matter what one believes government can or should do to "spread the wealth" to the poor, it is the height of irresponsibility and recklessness to increase entitlement spending radically with no revenue to pay for it.  I think the Dems ought to "man up" and confess the obvious truth of these things, inasmuch as one of them is killing our country morally, and the other is doing so fiscally.

5. BYU has played its first football game of the 2012 season, beating Washington State handily, 30-6.  It's not realistic to expect the Y to go undefeated, but, having seen their first outing, I believe there isn't a game on the Cougars' schedule that they can't win.

[Update 9/21/12: BYU has now lost two close games in a row, to Utah and Boise State.  The Y's defense has played heroically, but the offense has been horrible; points given up off turnovers were the difference in both losses.  I won't jump off the bandwagon, but clearly BYU isn't as good a team as they appeared to be.]

6. I've been using an "event monitor" to record heart arrhythmias, and it appears that I have some left-atrial fibrillation that could be caused by high blood pressure.  I believe, however, that the combination of long-term insomnia and chronic disequilibrium have contributed heavily to whatever heart issues I'm having.  I'm on medication for it now, but it's difficult to say what my long-term treatment plan will be.  Diet will undoubtedly play a big role in it, but that won't be easy for me.