Wednesday, March 22, 2017

CA Drought Almost Over

Living in Southern California, I am keenly aware that the pleasant climate and attractive environment are really just an artificially irrigated desert that was never meant to have millions of humans living here (more than 1/2 of California's nearly 40 million - yes, forty million [39.8 million as of 2017] live in the Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas).  For thousands of years, there were less than 1/2 a million people inhabiting what is now California.  Today's population is massively disproportionate in a longitudinal comparison to what the natural resources can sustain.

So while being aware of the resource limits, I try to not waste water, sewage, electricity, and natural gas accordingly, and use as little synthetic chemical solutions and pollutants around the house, minimizing my footprint as much as possible.  It makes good environmental sense, as well as good financial sense, since Dr Desert Flower and I don't use $100 bills as toilet paper nor are we passing gold bricks when we use the rest room.

The recent inundation rain fall that blanketed the state in January, February, and early March 2017 have apparently reversed the 149 year record drought that the state had been experiencing.  Rain water reservoirs are full and over-flowing, and the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains is at 200% of normal levels. Streams and creeks that have been bone dry for many years are now freely flowing.  All that being said, San Diego county is still "abnormally dry" and the eastern part of the county is in "moderate drought" ... a condition that is really isolated to the US / Mexico border currently.

Dr Desert Flower and I went to Borrego Springs in the southern California portion of the Sonoran Desert, just to the East of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park last weekend, to see the record desert bloom of wild flowers.  There was a plethora of yellows, white, blue, magenta, orange, and red flowers blooming in a desert that is normally brown, gray, and tan.  It was remarkably beautiful.  Granted, there were 10s of thousands of other visitors who normally are not there in the desert, but our four wheel drive Volvo XC70 helped us to drive down significantly eroded dirt roads and get out to places where most of the other flower tourists could not reach.

The infrastructure in Borrego Springs is designed to take care of the 3000 or so residents, but was completely overwhelmed by the 10s of thousands of visitors who drove their cars there.  Bathrooms, restaurants, cafes, all totally swamped with lines of humanity.  Dr Desert Flower and I DID speak with a very nice elderly volunteer at the Borrego Springs visitor center who told us about the off road excursion since we had a four wheel drive vehicle (thanks to the experienced docents!).

The area has not seen this much rainfall in 2.5 months for more than a century.  The wild flowers were in full spectacular bloom.  The bees were busy trying to pollenate everything.  The lizards and rodents were all busy scurrying about in the under-brush, filling their stomachs and feeding their families.  Sadly, we saw no snakes... but we did see several raptors.  The ambient temperature was in the mid 90s, but there was a merciful light breeze that felt pleasant on exposed skin (exposed skin slathered with SPF70).  It was a great way to spend the day in nature.

Monday, February 13, 2017

How To Stop Itching, From Personal Experience

When Dr Desert Flower and I moved from Arizona to California 5 years ago, almost immediately, I began getting itchy for no apparent reason.  The house we rented at the time had a hot tub, and while soaking in it felt good, I'd get itchy after drying off.  "Southern California is basically an irrigated desert" is the saying around here... but... after 5 years in Phoenix, the actual Sonoran Desert where humidity of 20% RH was normal, and a day of 40% RH was considered "muggy", one would have thought that California environmental dryness should not be that bad comparatively, right?

Well, the rental house also had fleas, which not only spiked up the itching but also drove our cats nuts until I eradicated the fleas using a Boric Acid powder solution across the entire house.  Then we moved into the home we bought in Orange County, sans fleas, but with a pool and a hot tub, and the itching got gradually worse.  I'd wake up in the middle of the night itching myself so fiercely that I'd scratch my neck, back, arms, and legs until they bled, which was really disgusting.  I tried going in the hot tub and pool, but the heat of the tub made it worse, and the rapid drying from the pool dried out my already irritated and aggravated skin even more.  I tried drinking one of the many craft beers readily available in Southern California, and within a few hours of drinking the delicious beverage, I'd start itching some more.  I tried self medicating with red wines that I'd been enjoying for the last 15 years, hoping to drink enough to fall asleep, and not wake up itching in the middle of the night.  This Often Did Not Work.  It was delicious... but the itching intensified.

I tried going to acupuncture to a local practitioner near our OC home, since I'd tried acupuncture while I lived in Phoenix for muscle and joint pain and it had helped significantly back then.  The acupuncture treatment DID relax me, and temporarily calm the itching while I as on the table with needles in me, but it had no lasting effect, between visits.

I tried sleeping pills, which had helped me when I'd traveled over-seas, and gave me a sedative sleep, but the results were lack luster.  Sometimes, the sleep was sound.  Sometimes, the sleep was restless and itchy.  This went on for almost 2 years, maddeningly.  I went to a dermatologist who prescribed ALL SORTS of topical steroids as well as some oral steroids.  "Temporary magic" is what my current primary care doctor calls steroids.  They did temporarily calm my skin down, but they also thinned it out to the point where the tiniest little scratch cause the skin to break and bleed. Bloody sleeves, pillow cases, and sheets were constantly grossing me out, and forcing multiple laundry loads several times a week.  It was not sustainable.

I tried swimming in the ocean several times a week, with the idea that MORE natural bacteria would help Balance whatever had gone out of whack on my skin.  That didn't work, and caused itching as the skin dried on the 15 minute drive home.

I went to a respected immunologist who put me on remarkably nasty drugs that are given to transplant recipients so that they don't reject their new organs.  It suppressed my immune system massively, but the itching persisted, nightly.  It also attacked during my work day when I was on a stressful call with an argumentative customer or contentious debate. Histamines were reigning supreme.  Benadryl, even at high doses, was ineffective.  Madness had begun to settle in, as I was losing my mind.

I'd read online about the homeopathic method of taking concentrated epsom salt baths (magnesium sulfate) to reduce itching.   Costco sells inexpensive MgSO4 in five pound bags, so 2 or 3 times a week, about every other day, I'd soak in a highly concentrated brine solution in our garden tub.  it helped to moisturize my skin, make it less prone to bleeding when scratched, and was a good opportunity to meditate, and calm... stress reduction.  Which was great during the bath, but didn't last through the night after the bath.

By this time both of our elderly cats had died.  The immunologist ran some tests on me that showed my blood was totally allergic to cats, to a level that should have caused anaphylaxis. No new cats, sadly for Dr Desert Flower.  We'd moved into a new house, with new carpeting and new paint, and yet still the nightly itching and stress induced itching were dominating my day-to-day life.  At wits end, I called my buddy Ron, who reads far more than I do, and is one of the smartest people I know, and told him of my plight.  "Elimination diet" we discussed, with just grass fed beef, celery, and almonds. Any vegetable I might eat would have to be organic. No grains, no dairy, no wine, no beer, just water to drink.  I did a 4 day cross-country drive, where I at almonds in the car as I drove alone, ate organic bland beef jerky, and suppered on grass fed steaks.  No sauces, no BBQ, just bland, natural food.  I trimmed my nails SUPER short so that I disarmed the scratching / bleeding devices, and I moisturized like mad.  "Within 3 minutes of drying yourself off (after bathing or swimming), or the moisturizer would have no effect" my immunologist warned me.  I slathered Aveeno, Lubriderm, and all kinds of other moisturizers on.   The itching started to die down... unexpectedly.

Then, as a proper science experiment, I introduced one new food each week.  Let the body metabolize it, and if no itching occurred, kept enjoying it.  If itching occurred, stop consuming that food.  Through February, March, April, May, and June, I added one food at a time, with discipline.  Sadly, I found that beer caused me to itch almost almost immediately upon drinking it.  The better and more tasty the beer, the more crafty the beer, the worse the itch.  Even going near a brewery and taking a tour made me itchy that day, the following night, and part of the next day.  Nearly every red wine, by the time I got to glass number two, the itch would start up, and last for hours.  Spicy foods, sriracha, jalapeno, chilis, spicy curries, anything spicy... all made my skin hot and itchy, so they got avoided.  Then, the revelation that red wine caused a delayed itch response, usually 2 to 3 hours after going to sleep, almost drove me to clinical depression.  I'd grown to love my red wines from all sorts of regions of the world... and now, my immune system had conspired to make them dermal unenjoyable.  Bordeaux, Malbec, Burgundy, Chianti, Sangiovese, Nero d'Avola, Primitivo, Loire valley, Napa valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet...  it didn't matter. If I enjoyed more than a shot glass worth of a red wine, I paid the price that night with itching and restless sleep.

My primary care physician recommended bleach baths, a 1/4 cup per 10 gallons, soaking for 10 to 15 minutes, luke warm, NOT hot water, every other day, 2 to 3 times a week.  This helped the scratches on my skin heal, reduced the redness and inflammation, and served as a "rinse" after taking a normal shower.  [Note: one must be careful though, to avoid new variations in bleach that are "anti splash" types that have detergent in them that causes the bath to foam up rapidly... just get the generic old hypochlorite solution].

So I am happy to say that after 4 years, 3 of them physically bloody miserable, I am now containing and managing my over-reactive itching skin, and things have gotten MUCH MUCH better.
- Removed the external allergens (cats died, didn't replace them & I pay a guy to cut my grass, as I am terribly allergic to grass as well)
- Eliminated the internal allergens inside what I ate and drank (no beer, no red wine, no rye whiskey [rye is grass])
- Stopped taking all the steroids that were thinking out my skin terribly
- Massively moisturized, within 3 minutes of getting out of the tub or shower or ocean, slathering it on rapidly
- Keep nails very short, to reduce accidental self injury while sleeping
- Massively reduce dependency on prescription sleep aids, using them infrequently, and basically only when traveling, and relying upon totally natural products instead.
- Avoid all spicy foods... if a reaction starts, stop eating that food.
- Alternate between bleach baths and magnesium sulfate baths, 3 to 5 times a week
- Have supportive friends and a loving wife who put up with my annoying itching... so that I didn't become self-destructive & suicidal.
The work stress rarely ever causes an itching episode anymore (better management of work stress, plus reduction of biological drivers), and the vast majority of nights are no longer invaded by itching.

I am not saying that my methods will work for you, or for anyone who reads this... I am just saying that it took years to contain (after cropping up in a very short period of time), and it is something that has to continually be managed, with vigilance.  For me, there was No Easy remedy.  If you found one, I'd be more than happy to hear what worked for you.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Mr.Robot + Black Mirror + Inauguration = Tristesse X Hopelessness

Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Map, screen capture 4February 2017
Back in January, I was stuck in a coach seat for 5 hours on a flight to Atlanta on a business trip.  My company decided it would save money by having all employees travel by coach globally, so instead of working and being productive on my company laptop on projects and presentations that I needed to get done, I watched Mr Robot, season 2, on the 4 x 6 inch screen on the back of the Delta Economy seat I had in row 35 of a 38 row 737 out of San Diego.  I'd not seen season 1 yet, but WOW, Rami Malek's & Christian Slater's performances and Sam Esmail's writing and directing is impressive, moving, engaging, amazing. Link here:

I made it through the first 4 episodes on my way East, before Inauguration day, and episodes 5-11.5 on the 6 hours in-seat on the way back West, the week after Inauguration day.  After working for 2.5 days at home, some kind of viral or bacterial infection set into my upper respiratory tract that made it impossible to work (talk, think, sit upright, answer email) last Thursday and Friday.  Stuck on the couch, I found that Amazon had Season 1, which I dove through in-between napping and resting on my sick days off.

The more news I listened to since returning home, or social media I visited online, the more national stupidity (mostly willful stupidity) I encountered, and I sunk deeper into a darkness that inspired me to look for "Mirror Black".  Well, I found a Funny-or-Die "Mirror Black" 2 minute spoof on Amazon that was amusing... but it was not Black Mirror on Netflix that I'd heard so much about: "The New Twilight Zone", riveting, enthralling, frightening... Well, Friday afternoon, night and all day Saturday (today) I spent watching Seasons 1, 2, and 3 of Black Mirror.  "Depressed" ... "disheartened" ... "keenly aware of threats"... "rather hopeless" ... this is the darkness that has descended over me.

With a white supremacist from fake news "Brietbart" named to Drumpf's national security council (links here, here, and here) pushing his fear & hatred agenda into POTUS's ear while violent domestic fringe groups cheer and "retweet" (Hate Map here, so you can see who is indoor backyard who really hates you)... my binge watching of such depressing material was fueled amply.  I will never look at another CD, DVD, USB port, social media post, "like", or online "comment" again in the same way that I had for the previous 1/4 century that the internet has existed and has been accessible to the masses.  "Dystopian" should not be applied to Mr Robot nor Black Mirror, since the future predicted in both series is far darker, depressing, and unsustainably self-destructive than "Dystopian" typically implies.

I think I am probably not going to post too much this year.  Backlash from the right wing fringe who have hijacked our democracy, including Federal scrutiny is something I don't want to have to deal with, and possibly something that I don't have the band-width to deal with, as I analyze all the Black Mirror and Mr Robot data I've recently assimilated.  I need to digest, ruminate, and consider the rapid degradation of rights in Umerika and to the whole planet has experienced in the last 2 weeks.... and perhaps we all won't be here in another 2 or 3 months with the patients running the asylum as they are.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Tanks And Missel Launchers? No

This is my first post of 2017, and the first one of my 51st year on this planet.  The more I read and hear, I am seriously starting to doubt that we'll make it to my 55th year as a sane, relatively radioactive fall-out free, global community, since nationalism, isolationism, hawkish saber rattling, and ignorance are on a steep rise not just in the United States, but around the world.

I was driving from Greenville SC to Atlanta today, down I-85, listening to NPR (on Album 88) when Wait Wait Don't Tell me came on.  I always enjoy Wait Wait, and I was shocked as I drove through pouring rain to hear on the radio show, that the Drumpf inaugural planners requested that the US Army send armored vehicles, tanks, and missile launchers, for a Red Square, Kremlin style parade in Washington DC.  WTF?  Yes, Drumpf, show us your cards early please.  We know you admire dictators who hold such parades, and you so much wanna be one too... but thankfully, the US Army said 'No, our armored vehicles are too heavy, and they will damage Washington DC streets'.  I hope the US Military continues to put a check on Drumpf's desires.

Link to San Diego Union-Tribune article on the same:

Link to The Hill Article on the same:

Link to the Washington Post's report on the same:

Wow.  What an idiot the vast majority of White Umerika elected, out of fear of being governed by a woman; out of a misplaced hatred of crony capitalism (yes, Drumpf has surrounded himself with millionaires and billionaires... common folk, like you and I); out of a misplaced hatred and fear of immigrants who have built this country, and minorities who they've successfully oppressed for centuries; out of a backlash against one of the coolest, most compassionate, best presidents we've ever had who just happened to be 1/2 black.  I spent Thursday and Friday in Greenville SC listening to my co-workers' stretched justifications of why they voted for Drumpf.  Total fabricated BS. "Who would look better in photos on the beach, Ivanka, or Hillary?"  Well, Drumpf's incestuous lover and advisor, of course... but that's no reason to vote for her father.

Soon, Frank Underwood (er.. I mean Mike Pence) will work with Ryan and McConnell to impeach Drumpf for his connections with Putin under the Alien & Sedition act of 1798, and then President Pence can do to the US what he did to Indiana - make it unfriendly to LGBTQ citizens, forced ultrasounds for abortions, gut medicaid, privatize as many state functions as possible (like prisons, toll roads for example), punish blue voting districts (like Lake County, where I grew up), and drive the economy into the ground, Kansas Brownback style.  I doubt I'll be posting much of anything once that happens... since it'll probably wind me up in a privatized federal prison if I do speak out against the state.

On a strange note... my "page visits" to JustJoeP have gone up 10X since the November 2016 election.  I used to get 50 or 60 hits on any single entry.  I now have over 500 hits each on the mere 3 postings I did in November...  Five Hundred and Fifty, for some of them.  That's noteworthy.

Go Falcons.  Thank you for beating Green Bay.  Cheaters from New England should never be victorious as long as they retain their despicable unpatriotic coach. (it's my blog - if you don't like it... don't visit it; and yes, comments are regulated.  Inarticulately attack me or rant against me, and your comments will be published and mocked accordingly).  If you are from New England, I understand why you would root for your local team, tribalism... we are all subject to it.  Same with Green Bay.  If you're not from those places, and you've chosen to root for them... keep in mind that the Patriots have cheated long before deflate-gate was a thing.  The Packers...  well... they keep picking really talented QBs, while the rest of the NFC central/north founders year after year.   I still blame GB defensive player Charles Martin for ending Jim McMahon's career early with a totally unnecessary and egregious late hit in 1986... but he died in 2005 at the early age of 45 from kidney failure, so perhaps karma does work.  That's brutal, yes, but McMahon could have led the Bears to multiple titles just as Favre and Rodgers have done, if his throwing arm was not ruined by Martin.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Waking Up to a Non Fact Based World

On Tuesday night, November 8th, I was very disappointed by the preliminary national election results coming in that I went to bed hopeful.  Hopeful that I'd wake up to a new brighter November 9th, along with my other fact-based fellow US citizens.

Instead, I woke up to the realization that the White Walkers (aka the Walking Ignorant) have chosen not only the most unqualified candidate for POTUS in the history of our democracy, but also a majority (54 of 100) Republican senators who
- will approve SCOTUS nominations be more like Thomas and Scalia
- deny climate change exists
- believe that women should make 76 cents on the dollar that a man makes
- like pre-existing conditions and denied health care, when they'll finally repeal the Affordable Care Act
- want the United States to look more like the failed state of Kansas than the flourishing Republic of California
- want their wives and daughters to be 9s or 10s and that it's fine to "grab them by the pussy" when they have celebrity status
- who do not care about actual facts. Facts, verified and authenticated, not Brietbarted, not trumped up, not delusional and paranoid fabrications.

The Down Jones has plummeted 750 points in less than a day as I write this last posting.  There's no sense or use in worrying or hand wringing.  All I, my family, and my friends who live in a fact based world can do now is endure the next 2 years, and then the next 2 after that.

I'll be advocating that the Republic of California build a wall on our Eastern Border, to stop the influx of non-fact based immigrants who embraced Breitbart and Infowars over Politifact and Snopes (and The Guardian, and The Economist, and every reputable media outlet and fact checking source on the planet).

And since history has proven that fascist regimens and the masses who support them are unkind to journalists, intellectuals, and others who live in a fact based world, this will be my last JustJoeP posting of the year.  Perhaps the last one ever, as there's really no sense to shouting into a hurricane's wind anymore.  The vast majority reject the facts I present, and it just makes my voice hoarse over time.  Mike Judge's prescient film Idiocracy and Scott Adams' predictions almost a year ago were more accurate than any logical, fact-based citizen of the world were willing to believe.  Heck, even Michael Moore - who is often incredible hyperbolic - was accurate in his Trumpland predictions.

The White Walkers have won for a generation.  Winter's not coming... Winter is here, already.  It arrived November 9th, 2016.  America, you had a pretty good run... 240 years.  Now, it's the Chinese's turn I guess.  Commenting further here will only damage my and my family's best interests, so with a heavy heart, I say good bye to blogging and social media.  My real friends, those who live in a fact based world, still know how to reach me.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Walking Ignorant

My colleague Patrick coined a phrase this afternoon while he and I were conversing at work about next week's election:  "The Walking Ignorant".  Patrick is a resident of Georgia, a very smart guy, and he's a genuinely nice person as well as being a good co-worker.  Since "The Walking Dead" is supposed to be based in Georgia originally (now they're up in rural "Alexandria" Virginia, in the drawn-out series, that I honestly wish would just end - they killed off Glen in a meaningless, brutal, and gratuitous death by barbwire covered baseball bat bashing from the current incarnation of what the worst human urges could manifest themselves) so the "Walking Ignorant" label is particularly poignant.

"The Walking Ignorant" is aimed at supporters of Donald J. Drumpf (his real name, not "Trump" that he made up when he was a kid), as it symbolizes their willful ignorance of facts and their embrace of a false equivalency.  Their candidate Donald spouts lies constantly - according to Politifact more than 75% of the time he's lying - but they scream about Hillary Clinton lying about her emails?  Yeah, that's equally as bad.... right?  Or far worse?  No, it isn't.  Politifact rates Hillary Clinton as lying about 25% of the time, or, for those who are not good at math, Drumpf lies three times more than Clinton does, and the lies he tells are massive whopper ridiculous lies.  But "The Walking Ignorant" don't care about facts or lies or the existence of audio recordings of their candidate contradicting himself constantly, repeatedly.

To illustrate how incredibly ignorant and misinformed the typical Drumpf supporter is, all one needs to do is look at this Daily Show piece from Jordan Klepper who perfectly nails it:

The sheer ignorance, willful ignorance of these Drumpf supporters is beyond description.  It is impossible to write more outlandish racist and paranoid dialogue than what this clip depicts.

I wonder if Jordan feels like he loses a little bit of his soul... his life force... his will to live, when he does these kinds of field pieces?  I know I sure couldn't do it without wanting to slap most of these people upside the head who see themselves somehow as 'patriotic Americans' ... when they're really just an illustration of how massively misinformed the masses are within the American electorate.

People, facts matter.  Actual, real facts, not fabrications or things you 'believe are true' but which there is no actual factual basis to justify that they are true.

108 Year Drought Is Over

2 minutes ago, the Wall Street Journal stole my blog post headline... but that's OK WSJ.
Link here:

A 10th inning rain delay last night didn't dampen my spirits, as I watched in disbelief that the Chicago Cubs finally won a world series, after enduring a 108 year drought.  It was a great game, and a great series.  Sure, Cleveland has waited 68 years since they last won a world series... but I hope they win again in the next 40 years so that the Cub's epic loss record can remain.  I only wish my Dzia Dzia who died almost 30 years ago didn't have a chance to see his beloved Cubs win a world series before he left this mortal coil (he was alive for the 1908 win, as a very young child).

The videos at this early hour are not the most comprehensive or captivating, but I am sure better ones will be posted later today and this week.

Cleveland fought a good series, with very talented players.  I won't say anything disparaging here, though I often shouted less than positive comments at my television over the last week and a 1/2.  While Akron and Canton are two of my least favorite places neighboring Cleveland, where I have spent far too much time for work purposes, Cleveland itself is not a bad place, and Clevelanders (or Clevelandites?) are generally nice people, from the dozen or so who I have met.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Same As It Ever Was, Same As It Ever Was

I turned on MSNBC yesterday afternoon for a moment, before I headed out to go do yoga at the beach, and saw Steve Kornacki present the two graphics below:
These two survey poll results make it extremely clear, how American progressives are optimistic, improving, and growing, while 1950s focused American conservatives long to go back in time (member berries),
- before civil rights legislation passed and became enforceable in all 50 states
- before the EPA existed,
- before Germany and Japan rose up from the rubble of WWII to become economic rivals,
- back to the cold war & fear of Armageddon,
- back when LGBT citizens were treated as outcasts by 99% of Umerikuns,
- back when cigarette smoking in public was ubiquitous,
- back when drunk driving was a sport instead of a felony
- back to when you could fire a woman for becoming pregnant if she was not married
- back to when housing & finance discrimination against minorities was standard practice
- back to when Ike deported a million Latin Americans in "Operation Wet Back"
- back to when there were poll taxes and literacy tests to be able to vote

... yeah, a "simpler era" ... for simple minded people, who abhor change, and who are fiercely clinging to their guns & religion & 'majority white paradigm'.  Those who want all the benefits of living in a free Democracy, while having smooth roads to drive on, fast internet to access, reliable electric power, clean water to drink, a clean ocean to swim in, a bucolic landscape in which to hunt, free land on which to graze their cattle, and a strong army to defend them, without paying any taxes or having any convenience to their own personal preferences and desires.

Count me in the 70% of "it's getting better".  I'm still not a huge fan of any of the 4 candidates running for PUSA, but I will be voting for the woman most likely to defeat and contain the threat of a megalomaniacal narcissist who constantly lies & fabricates his own reality from taking over the Executive branch of our government.  The fossils of the 72% will eventually go extinct.

Monday, October 24, 2016

PUSA Lump Cover

This has been out for 10 months..  and I just heard it today.  Too damn funny!

This is really quite genius!  =)

DDF and I saw The Presidents of the United States back in Indianapolis in the mid 90s, at The Egyptian Room...  awesome show.