His Life Has Changed

When my father says, “Geoffrey, you really don’t understand,” he’s probably correct. The family can only guess the impact his physical conditions bring to daily life.

I started to list some of them, then backspaced. You don’t want to know. Life at 92 is challenging.

Among his biggest problems, deafness. Without hearing aids, nothing. With hearing aids, not much better. He can’t understand my sister on the phone at all.

Two weeks ago, in the hospital and struggling to hear, the staff there let him use a PocketTalker Pro from Williams Sound.

My sister Trudi ordered one from Amazon. His life has changed.

That’s a photo of my dad having lunch with the guys. It’s like he’s been sprung from prison. He ate alone in his apartment because he couldn’t converse. Now he can.

He’s in rehab the rest of this week. They want him stronger so he’ll better avoid falls. He says physical therapy he’s receiving is having a good effect.

He’s back home and ready to talk to the neighbors next week.

Last Night’s 4.0 Quake

It happened today at 2:09 AM. A minor 4.0 earthquake let loose on the other side of our nearby mountains.

It woke Helaine from a sound sleep. As she came to her senses, “I could still hear the house moving.” That’s sufficiently scary.

Doppler, who was also sound asleep, woke up and stood up.

Seismograph from Pinon Flats, CA

I had fallen asleep on the couch downstairs while watching TV¹. I never did wake up for the quake.

The large faults that run through Southern California aren’t nearby. Irvine isn’t considered earthquake challenged. Though a 4.0 will get your attention, it’s not enough to do damage, especially with the more stringent building codes here.

This is our second noticeable quake and the second time I’ve been sleeping. The last time Helaine woke me quickly enough that we were still in motion.

Of all the bad things that can happen in this world earthquakes continue to be near the bottom of my list.

This map shows the plotted responses to the USGS’s “Did you feel it?” page.

¹ – It’s well established in the Fox house if I’m watching TV on the couch with my glasses off sleep is imminent.

Ask Me About Cancer

Those are my feet from December 2, 2016. I have no clue what procedure I was about to undergo. There were many.

Helaine and I just spent some time with a friend of ours who’s just been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was caught early. She’s going to the right hospital. The outcome will be positive.

Today it’s very scary. The “C” word always is.

We’re glad she spoke with us. H and I learned a lot as we moved through the medical industrial complex. There’s a lot of ground we can help her cover more easily.

She is not the first ‘fellow traveler’ I’ve spoken to. There are three of you I’m chatting with on Facebook and Twitter as you or a parent undergoes treatment.

Let’s face it, I’m a good guy to ask. My treatment worked miraculously. Who wouldn’t want this outcome?

Our friend was shy. She didn’t want to intrude or burden us.

It doesn’t work that way. I know how helpful friends and family were to me. Cancer is not a one person job!

So, go ahead. Ask me about cancer.

Fear Of Trimming

The plum tree in happier times, June 2016
One of life’s great pleasures when we moved to Connecticut was growing things. The first 34 years of my life were spent in apartments. Having my own soil was a novel concept.

Here in California we have a very limited space, but amazing growing conditions. If it can’t grow here, it can’t grow.

In fact overzealous plant growth is an actual problem here. Things blossom, bloom and reach for the sky, quickly. I need my plants short and compact.

The first time you cut back a healthy plant to within an inch of its life you shudder. No one wants to kill a plant. But my results have been consistently rewarding. Every plant I’ve chopped has flourished.

Bushes I cut back last year had become leggy. My friend and plant expert Dennis Westler explained the higher growth was shading the lower. Today they’re closer to the ground and fuller. Instead of concentrating growth in increasingly thinner branches the trunk has added girth. It looks stronger.

Plum tree today looking just a little shorter and bare.
In some cases it looks a little scary. This is the second time I’ve cut my plum tree to this height. Actually Stefanie did this cutting, lopping off a good four or five feet a few weeks ago. Today I removed all the suckers, the thin branches coming off the main stem.

It looks very sad. It shouldn’t have any trouble coming back. There will still be some worrying.

We’ve harvested five astoundingly tasty plums from this tree–four this past summer. I’m hoping for more.

Nearly Everything I Know About Live TV I Learned From Soupy Sales

Soupy Sales at WNEW-TV in New York City. Photo by by spykerdarracq

Growing up there was one TV in the Fox apartment. It was tuned to Soupy Sales every afternoon. He was live daily on Channel 5 in New York City. Must see TV for me.

He’s back on TV every day, this time on the thinly carried JLTV, Jewish Life Television. I knew Soupy was Jewish, though it was never part of his schtick.

I watched a few shows and was initially disappointed. This was his late 70s show from KTLA in Los Angeles. Different cast. A little more slick.

And then a Channel 5 episode played.

OMG, he was doing my act! Except he was doing his act. It’s me doing the ripping off.

His whole show was being performed for the crew (and there was lots of crew back then) who could be heard lol’ing pretty regularly. He did a bit and mentioned names. It was the crew’s names and I recognized nearly all of them.

Soupy was constantly breaking the 4th wall, speaking directly to the audience while in the middle of something else. He was fast as he turned and paused to adlib some line then went back to what he was doing.

Soupy did six shows weekly on Channel 5. Monday through Friday were live and Saturday, as I remember, was taped. My guess was they went in with enough material to fill part of a page and hoped for the best. I was wrong.

Though much of the show was formulaic there were a lot of setup/punchline jokes performed by Soupy and Frank Nastasi who played all the other parts including all the arm waving, face hidden, men at the door, two dogs and a hand puppet lion. That stuff had to be written. In 2018 I’m impressed to figure this out.

Impressionable Geoff sat there slack jawed and watched this stuff every day. Soupy taught me how to do live TV. I liked what Soupy did and what’s become more obvious to me now, I copied him.

It’s Called The Hastert Rule

Denny Hastert, formerly House Speaker Denny Hastert, is a pretty disgusting man who went to prison for his deeds, both fiscal and physical. This isn’t about that. The Hastert Rule guides Congress. It’s not a real rule, but a custom which is followed. Here’s Wikipedia’s tl:dr.

United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.

Helaine hates when I write about politics. I beg her forgiveness. This is a subject that’s crazily important and little known. It’s called the Hastert Rule.

Denny Hastert, formerly House Speaker Denny Hastert, is a pretty disgusting man who went to prison for his deeds, both fiscal and physical. This isn’t about that.

The Hastert Rule guides Congress. It’s not a real rule, but a custom which is followed. Here’s Wikipedia’s tl:dr.

The Hastert Rule, also known as the “majority of the majority” rule, is an informal governing principle used in the United States by Republican Speakers of the House of Representatives since the mid-1990s to maintain their speakerships and limit the power of the minority party to bring bills up for a vote on the floor of the House. Under the doctrine, the Speaker will not allow a floor vote on a bill unless a majority of the majority party supports the bill

That means a bill which could pass the House with a consensus of Republicans and Democrats doesn’t reach the floor unless it has support of 51% of the Republican congressmen. It’s why the 35ish members of the House’s conservative Freedom Caucus can stall something that could find 35, or more, Democratic replacement votes.

The practical effect is to move the ruling party (I assume the Dems would do the same or similar) farther from consensus, farther from the middle, farther to the right. The acronyms you’re hearing about today: DACA and CHIP could be solved quickly by a majority that already exists! It just seems crazy.

This is politics at its worst because it elevates party over country.

H, don’t be angry.