Monthly Archives: May 2020

And then there were three

Picture of the Moment

Sixteen days ago, I got up with the sun (5:30 a.m.) and pulled a ton of weeds along the fence between my property and the open space preserve. I left a huge pile of weeds, figuring I would haul them to the trash later. I took a shower and a nap.

When I went out to the gardens to get my daily snapshots of flowers, I leaned in close near a hanging basket and something hit me in the head and flew away. I didn’t see what it was, but I did see this in the hanging basket:

mourning dove eggs

That was not there six hours earlier. Mommy, presumably with help from daddy, found my pile of weeds, built a nest a few feet away, and deposited two eggs in only four or five hours. Fortunately, after me disturbing mommy (presumably), she came back to take care of those eggs:

momma mourning dove on nest

Research indicates that it takes about 14 days for mourning dove eggs to hatch and another 15 days for the little ones to leave the nest and go exploring the world.

I got a picture of a little bird on Day 13.

Mourning dove

And on Day 14, today!, I got a picture of two little birds!

Mourning doves

And then there were three. I’m so happy! Now our goal is to help mommy protect these two little ones for the next couple of weeks so they can fly away, fly away.

Quarantine Weight Loss Tip (5/23/20)

Dr. Russel


Fine, furry, four-legged friends (dogs!)Get a dog or 2, or more. The bigger the better.

Dogs will eat anything.

When you have that plate of food in front of you, thinking about the weight you’ll gain by eating it, just call the dog(s) over and feed those poor, starving furry ones.

Dogs will be happy and will love you forever, and you’ll lose weight.

Problem solved!

You’re welcome!
—Dr. Russel

Introducing Dr. Russel!

Dr. Russel

Dr. John, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, Dr. Oz, Dr. Ruth….

I have decided to be Dr. Russel.

I shall be sharing tips & tricks to make life easier.

What may I help you with today?

Audience member: Hello, Dr. Russel! Do you have any tips for losing weight in quarantine?

Dr. Russel: Of course. Here are some of the best.

    1. Don’t eat!
    2. Unplug the microwave.
    3. Do not use the oven or cooktop. A side benefit of not using the oven or cooktop is that the smoke alarm never will go off!
    4. Believe me!Run up and down the hallway while making as much noise as possible. Particularly effective at 4:00 a.m. Also should be effective after quarantine since it was effective before quarantine.

You’re welcome!
—Dr. Russel

Hoping I can’t go into one of my gardens for about a month

Picture of the Moment

I got up at 5:30 this morning to go pull weeds and clear dead brush along the fence. Nothing unusual about that.

I just went out to take pictures of the cactus flowers that are blooming. I leaned in close with my 90mm macro lens and suddenly something hit me in the head and went flying away.

The last time I was hit in the head by something flying was 1968 under the Congress Avenue bridge in Austin. That time was a flying bat (if you’ve never seen the bats take to the skies at dusk at the Congress Avenue bridge, go!).

This time, it was a momma mourning dove. Interestingly, she and her nest were not there at 6:00 this morning. In a mere six hours she (and daddy?) built a nest out of brush laying in a pile nearby, and she laid two eggs in it.

mourning dove eggs

I’m so happy because the last time I had baby birds was annually from 1968-1973 in my wise old grandmother’s yard. I had built a bird house using a Boy Scout handbook and attached it high in our ash tree. A family of screech owls moved in. They are known to use the same nesting site annually, and they did.

Research indicates that it takes 14 days for mourning dove eggs to hatch and another 15 days for the little ones to take off on their own.

Fortunately, I have most of the weeds pulled in this area, and the rest can wait for a month. The presence of momma and, hopefully, two little ones means that any future pictures from my retaining wall gardens will have to be taken through the window in my home office using my 600mm lens. Can’t wait to see how those turn out.

It takes me 4 minutes to walk from the sunny retaining wall gardens back to the home office. By the time I got back inside and looked out the window, momma bird was back on the nest.

momma mourning dove on nest

Created by a 14-year-old boy trapped in a 64-year-old man’s body

Railroads & Trains logo

On this day last year, I was in Promontory, Utah, for the 150th anniversary celebration of the completion of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad.

In May 1969, I was a lad of 14 living in Kingsville TX with my paternal grandparents. My dad (then deceased), granddad, and three uncles all were working for Missouri Pacific Railroad in Kingsville, Corpus Christi, Victoria, Taylor, and Palestine.

Sadly, no one was willing to take me to Promontory for the 100th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

I was a sad and depressed boy of 14.

I put the 150th anniversary celebration on my calendar, swearing that I would make it if I were alive in 2019.

I made it, spending May 9-12 all over northern Utah and western Wyoming, getting hundreds of pictures and dozens of videos.

My favorite video from that week in Utah shows the two largest operating steam locomotives and their passenger cars leaving the historic 25th Street Station in Ogden on May 12 heading back home to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

I followed them to Evanston, Wyoming, and then headed home to San Diego myself.

Here is my video, created by a 14-year-old boy trapped in a 64-year-old man’s body.

Are you at risk?

Did you know?

I started self-isolation on March 14, before about 45 states thought it might be a good thing to do.

I did it because I love research and history, so I have been following COVID-19 since the early days in China last year.

I knew that with my underlying health issues (age, high blood pressure, etc.), I was in several high-risk categories.

Avi Schiff, the 17-year-old guy in Seattle who has created the Coronavirus Dashboard, has added a SURVIVAL RATE CALCULATOR to the Dashboard.

Using Microsoft Excel and statistics from Johns Hopkins, the Dashboard, and Worldometers, I had calculated my risk of dying from
COVID-19 if I contracted it to be about 75%.

The SURVIVAL RATE CALCULATOR puts me at 81.88%.

COVID-19 Survival Rate


Coronavirus Dashboard: Coronavirus Dashboard

Worldometer: Worldometer

Johns Hopkins: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

‘Twas the wave of death

I live in my own little world

Our next creating writing assignment is based on this COVID-19 infection graphic:

COVID-19 infection graphic

In that last scenario, it could be very high.

Picture this:

Your mailbox, 2020.

Sneezer is the postal carrier.

Sneezer is not wearing a mask.

House person sees postal vehicle pull up.

House person gets up to go get mail.

While house person is traveling from bedroom to front door, house person cannot see that:

Sneezer sneezes all over your mailbox and mail.

House person gets to mailbox as sneezer is driving off.

House person waves to sneezer.

Sneezer waves back.

Six days later house person feels sick with COVID-19 symptoms.

Olivia the black & white catHouse person is confused because house person has been in self-isolation since March 14 doing nothing but watching dystopian and apocalyptic movies, drinking margaritas, and playing with the cat.

House person calls doctor.

Doctor says, “It’s probably the flu.”

House person tells doctor, “You gave me a flu shot a couple of months ago.”

Doctor says, “Oh, right.”

After thinking for 3.14 seconds, doctor asks, “Can you come in tomorrow?”

House person replies, “Yep. Not doing anything in self-isolation except watching romantic movies, keeping hydrated, and playing with the dog.”

House person sees doctor the next day.

Doctor asks, “We have two COVID-19 tests, the Pi test and the Fibonacci test.

House person asks, “How much do they cost?”

Doctor responsds, “Your co-pay is $3.14 for the Pi test and $1.61 for the Fibonacci test.”

House person asks, which is faster and provides a more accurate result?”

Doctor replies, “They both are very accurate. The Pi test gives results in 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510 minutes.  With the Fibonacci test, we’ll have results in just 1.618 minutes.”

House person says, “The Fibonacci test certainly sounds less complicated. Are you sure it’s accurate?

Doctor says, “Oh, yes. Fibonacci is everywhere.”

House person says, “Okay, let’s do the Fibonacci.”

Doctor administers the Fibonacci COVID-19 test.

Test is positive.

House person tells medical personnel that house person has no idea how house person got infected because house person has been in self-isolation since March 14.

Doctor admits house person to hospital.

Margaritas at On The Border in El Cajon, CaliforniaHouse person is sad and depressed because hospital has no margaritas and no cats.

One week later house person is put on a ventilator to help with breathing.

Two weeks on ventilator and house person dies.

Doctor is sad and depressed.

One year later and still no one has been able to determine how house person contracted COVID-19.

Remember when sneezer waved to house person?

‘Twas the wave of death.


With apologies to dystopian writers everywhere, especially Stephen King.

My assistant demonstrates


I have been in self-isolation since March 14, always looking for things to do inside when it’s crappy outside.

Yesterday, I was thinking about doing yoga, so I was going through all the yoga poses.

Some looked really hard.

Fortunately, my assistant, Little Queen Olivia, decided to show me just how easy yoga poses are.

In fact, she can do them in her sleep!

Little Queen Olivia

What’s your preferred?

I live in my own little world

I had to go to the dermatologist yesterday to have a skin lesion removed. Here’s my conversation with the doc:

Doctor: Good morning, Russel. You want to have that lesion removed today?

Russel: Yes.

Doctor: Okay. I’m going to deaden it. 3….. 2…… 1

Russel: Fuck! That hurt like hell!

Doctor: Cool.

Russel: (Passes out from pain.)

Doctor: (Administers smelling salts.)

Believe me!Russel: (Waking up.) Where’s Little Queen Olivia?

Doctor: I thought you were gay.

Russel: She’s my cat. She takes care of me when I’m in pain.

Doctor: Are you still in pain?

Russel: Hmmmm. As a matter of fact, no.

Doctor: I’m going to remove the lesion now. Just lie there and think of Little Queen Olivia rubbing her butt in your face.

Russel: You’ve met the Little Queen?

Doctor: I also have a female cat. Name’s Freakie Cat.

Russel: They’re probably cousins.

Doctor: Okay. The lesion’s removed. I think you’re bleeding but I’ve never seen lime green blood before.

Russel: Seems to have gotten that color right after I turned 18.

Doctor: Cool.

Russel: It’s been typed as M+. Seems to have a high alcohol content which causes problems when the police stop me. It’s not common but apparently makes people feel really good, better than O+.

Doctor: Cool. I’m going to bandage it now and send you on your way. If it gets painful later on, take some pain medication. Do you have Acetaminophen?

Russel: Yes, but it’s not my preferred pain killer.

Doctor: What’s your preferred?

Russel: Margaritas.

Doctor: Cool. Those will do.