Saturday, December 31, 2011

One More App

Did you know a smartphone can be a flashlight? It's true! The App store has several flashlight apps for free. I believe they are all pretty much the same. The idea is to get the app and when you need a flashlight you have one ready.

BTW I've had this app a long time but we were talking about great apps at Christmas and "flashlight" was mentioned ... And we all had stories about how useful it was.

Regarding smartphones--I was in a long line the other day and everyone in the line was playing with his or her smartphone. They were reading email or texting or playing games. No one was bored and everyone in the line was calmly waiting for his or her number to be called. I don't know what that means, but it was interesting to see. Smartphone as adult pacifier?

Random Learnings from 2011

In 2011 I:
-Discovered the wonder of a good pedicure
-Learned that Roman ruins are everywhere in Europe
-Visited my 97th country
-Loved seeing "things" anew through the eyes of my friends
-Learned again and again that each day is special and to live it the best I can
-Learned that good health is fragile
-Learned that the "chore" of walking every day is enjoyable (and it's not a chore anymore)
-Learned wildflowers are ephemeral so it's all right to pick them
-Learned its not about the camera but the memory
-Saw Pompeii and Florence and Venice as well as Monaco and Lisbon. WOW
-Had Lots of fun
-Am ready to make more memories for 2012

Happy New Year

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Action by the Pond

There was a lot of action by the pond this morning. I could hear the rustling in the bushes when suddenly an egret and a heron popped up and flew away. I was even more surprised to see that I captured the event with my iPhone. On the other hand, the flotilla of mergansers on the pond just stayed put--i guess they were not afraid of my approach at all!

Regarding smartphone cameras-- makers of point and shoot cameras are finding that their sales are falling. People with smartphones are not buying additional cameras as they are finding out they don't need two cameras.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some Pictures I Like--Part 2

The next two pictures are identical. One is rotated 180 degrees from
The other. Can you tell which one is right side up? The reflection was so clear even I had a hard time figuring it out.

Some Pictures I Like--Part 1

It was cooler this morning. The grass was stiff with ice, but it was this lone leaf that caught my attention. The thin coat of frost covered the leaf yet the underlying color shone through.

Christmas in the Country

In the city people decorate their front doors. In the country people decorate their gates. Same idea--different format. Here are two examples.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Every so often I recommend some iPhone and iPad apps that I have found helpful. Today I’m recommending websites that talk about apps. Since there are over a half million apps around, it’s nice to have a source where you can find out information before you buy an app.

AppAdvice is for Apple only iDevices. It has reviews, guides, charts, and so much more. It’s updated daily and has links to the Apple Store.

Appolicious is another compiler of apps, but it is good for both Apple and Android devices. It’s been developed in association with Yahoo, so it has a “Yahoo-type interface” that is easy to use.

If you are a teacher, go to Top 50 iPhone Apps for Educators. Created by the Online College Database, it gives a short explanation of each app and a link to the App Store so you can buy it!

I use these three to find out more about an app before I download it. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Now there are four!

There have been vultures around here for as long as we have lived here. They usually perch on the fence posts on the property line far from people. Then I saw a pair on a power pole near my home a few days ago. That was a first. Since then, the same pair (I think they are the same pair anyway) shows up most days. Today, however, was different. There were 4 of 'em! The view from the poles must be grand! Given that, I needed to tell them that I'm not dead yet.

A little later it looked like they were getting worried as they were moving their heads up and down (maybe they do not like to be watched) and the fellow on the top of the pole stretched out his wings to soak up the sun before taking flight.

You never know what you will see in the morning. Life in the slow lane.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Natural Paintbrush

Tonight we had a wonderful sunset. Mother Nature was having a grand time painting the sky in oranges, yellows, pinks and blues. My camera and I tried to capture the color -- here are a few samples.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pedometer Mark 2

I've been using the pedometer app for 3 days now and I love it. Not only does it keep track of time and distance, it maps exactly where I've been. The full version has a price tag of $2.99 and frankly I don't know what else it can do. If you are looking for an easy and informative pedometer I highly recommending Pedometer GPS+. I'm sorry to report it is only for Apple products right now. To find out more go to

Watercolor World

We had a trace of rain this morning. The air had that clean, after-the-rain smell. The bare tree limbs had drops of water clinging on for dear life...just a soft breeze away from falling to earth. The few trees still decked out in fall colors were beacons of bright light contrasting against the gray sky. A good morning for a walk.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pedometer App

Ever wonder how far you walk in a day? Or how far you walk when you take your constitutional? I do and to that end I started looking for iPhone aps to measure that distance. After looking at several I decided on Pedometer GPS+. I downloaded the free version which I will try for a few more days in order to decide if I want the upgraded version that does more.

The ap has a timer letting me know how long I have walked. It also tells how many miles I have walked, the number of calories I've burned, my heart rate and the piece d'resistance a map of where I went. It's a kick to see every place I put down my feet.

I don't know if there is an android version of the ap but I'm guessing there is. (It cannot be that difficult to make an ap for both platforms.) I downloaded mine from the Ap Store from Apple.

Are you wondering what I found out about my morning walk? This morning I logged 1.683 miles or 3487 steps; I burned 132 calories and my average speed was 2.6 mph while my fastest speed was 3.8 mph. While this is far more information than I wanted it will provide a baseline for subsequent morning walks. I'm happy with my new ap!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Things Have Not Changed

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
- Cicero - 55 BC

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

3 Seasons

Right now there are 3 seasons in our yard. Some of the trees are still decked out in the fall colors. The Pyracantha are ready for Christmas with their bright red berries and the ceanothus is starting to get spring blooms!

Is this an example of climate change? Or, is it normal? I don't know the answer I just find it interesting.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Every morning there's a little surprise for me. Today it was two vultures sitting on the phone pole. I've been walking the same path for years and I've never seen a vulture on the pole, let alone two! I think of vultures as loners, but these guys looked like friends!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


The politically correct silly season has started. This year we are seeing Holiday trees and Winter Festivals.
In fact I'm not seeing many ads for Christmas sales either.

I just did a small sampling of the online ads for retailers. Here's what I found. Best Buy is advertising "Great Gifts" but it's business as usual. Macy's is having "Holiday Sales" and K-Mart ads show their "little blue light guy" in a Santa Hat but there's no mention of Christmas. Sears is featuring a robot type critter with a Santa Hat again no mention of Christmas. Bed, Bath and Beyond has seasonal specials and gifts--their concession to the "season" is a boxy graphic surrounded by "Christmas" lights...but no mention of Christmas per se. Old Navy has the "Merry Mall" and the "Happiest Holidays" but again no Christmas. Walmart, the nation's biggest retailer does mention Christmas but you have to look at the online ad hard to find it in the small print. Like many retailers they are touting CyberMonday with "bright ideas for the Holidays." Penney's is having a Thank You Appreciation Sale. At the bottom of their homepage they say "Who's your Santa! Shop Best Gifts."

Online retailer Amazon talks about CyberMonday. The only graphic on their main webpage that looks a little bit Christmas-like is a black box with a red bow in the corner saying you can shop with MasterCard.

Kohl's online ad says CHRISTMAS! Target's online ad has Christmas written in small blue letters and an emphasis on gifts. Lowe's online ad says "The Joy of Christmas" but Home Depot's ad just talks about holidays.

Thank goodness not every big name retailer has decided to abandon the name of the day we are all celebrating.

So much of our media is promoting Winter or Holiday as words to use so as not to offend people. Well, I part of the people, and I'm offended! The Holiday we are celebrating is Christmas! I want to hear traditional Christmas music. I want to see Nativity Scenes. I want to celebrate with the 3 Wise Men about the birth of Christ.

Long Legs

I like to walk every morning (weather permitting...I'm not fond of windy or rainy days). Mornings are so quiet -- the rabbits are still in their burrows and every so often I surprise one. A sleepy rabbit is fun to watch as it zigs and zags down the hill. We've clocked them at 25 mph!

Here's a picture of me (going a lot slower) as the sun is rising over the mountain. I look about 10 feet tall!