Mike made it through surgery

The doctor came out & let us know that everything went well.  They’ve just transfered him to the post-surgery ICU and we’ll get to see him shortly.  More as we find it out.

-Flo & Kevin

Health News for Family

Last Friday I discovered that I have aortic valve stenosis, which means that the aortic valve in my heart won’t open properly. If it’s not treated, my chances over the next year are not good.

Next Thursday, that is 3 days from now, I’m going to have it replaced with a valve made from bovine tissue. The upside is that they do a lot of these operations today, and the risks are very small. The downside is that it’s open heart surgery. They did a cardiac catheterization and discovered that though the valve was in bad shape, my arteries are in good shape, and there is only one small one that might need bypassing. They will decide whether to do it when they are in there replacing the valve.

The prognosis after a replacement is very good. We will keep you posted on this blog.

Cold Weather

This has been a weird winter, the warmest on record, but after some very spring-like weather that coaxed the blossoms out we had a hard freeze and snow. For example, we had a small snowstorm today. In the valley, it was mixed with rain, and it didn’t stick here, but it’s got the growers worried.

Personally I thought it was a good excuse to drag out some pretty pictures. There are three groups: one last winter with what passes for heavy snow around here, one in December when we had freezing fog, and one a day or so ago. It’s nothing compared with the midwest, but it’s still pretty exotic for a Florida boy.

What I’m doing with this blog

When I retired it seemed that a large part of the reason for having a blog disappeared. Also, my blog was besieged by spam, and whenever I tried to update it something went wrong.  I’ve been accumulating lots of photos from family events and travel, and I know that some people would like to see them, so I decided to get serious about fixing it. Continue reading What I’m doing with this blog

Up the Umpqua

The day after our trip up Table Rock was also clear and sunny, so we looked for another place to explore. My left ankle was very stiff, so it would have to be mostly driving, but we really wanted to get out somewhere. The Umpqua is the next major river north of the Rogue, and the highway up the Umpqua Valley has the nickname “the waterfall highway”, so it seemed like a good bet. The valley starts out as a pleasant farming area, it’s at a lower altitude and many of the trees were starting to bloom.

We started seeing interesting geologic features at the town of Glide, where we found the colliding rivers. See the photos for a description. A little further on we found a lava chute where the river got compressed into a very narrow passage. There are pictures of that, too.

Further up the river we started getting to the real waterfalls, but they were all up relatively short but steep walks, and I couldn’t make it up to them. We’ll try again later. The waterfalls should be more spectacular then anyway.

Table Rock

Last Friday we had the first nice weather in several weeks, so we decided to go take a look at one of the local landmarks, Table Rock. It’s one of a pair of mesas just North of Medford. We decided to tackle upper table rock. The trail was steep in places, and filled with rocks and mud in others, but we made it to the top. Check out the photos for what it was like. The only problem was that it got my bad ankle pretty upset with me for the next day or so. There’s not much else to say that isn’t in the pictures, so have a look at them.

Architecture Goes Green

We are all packed (except for necessities) and I’m at loose ends for the next few days, so I’ve been catching up on TedTalks. I’ve mentioned a few of them here before.

Here’s one I especially like: Norman Foster: Building on the green agenda.

I have a few special reasons for liking it. First, it explains how architecture is solving the problems of living, not just making beautiful things. Second, it talks about Buckminster Fuller, who is one of the great minds of the 20th century and a personal hero of mine. Finally it explains just how computers are letting architectures build much more efficient buildings.

The kind of computing he’s talking about is called High Performance Technical Computing (HPC), and although the hardware is getting steadily cheaper, is still very hard to write the programs. When I decided to join MicroSoft in 2006, it was because they told me that we could set up a group to make writing HPC programs much easier. Then MS decided that they weren’t going to do it, because there wasn’t a big enough market. I still think they blew it. Finally, I left.

Enjoy the video. If you really like it, subscribe to the podcast and watch more of them.

Why Crack Dealers Live With Their Mothers

A couple of years ago I read a great book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Freakonomics. It was a great book, applying economic principals in day-to-day situations. I heartily recommend it. This posting was inspired by a video of a talk by Steven Levitt on a topic from the book. One of them lived with a crack-dealing gang, and even got them to show him their books. The business turned out to be a lot more like MacDonalds than like the media depictions. Except, of course, for the very high mortality…

Oh, the talk contains quotes from the gang members. It’s definitely R-rated

Yreka (The Great White Mountain)

Yreka (Why-ree-ka) is a small town about 25 miles South of the Oregon border. The name is said to come from the local native language and means “great white mountain”. The picture shows why.

We really don’t know much about the town, though we expect to learn more, but just driving by makes it look interesting. As you approach from the south, you encounter a barn advertising the State of Jefferson. Then you come to a statue of a cow (Moo-donna) in the middle of the field. It turns out that it was created by a local artist, Ralph Starritt. We drove by his shop and looked for a moment, but didn’t have time to explore properly.

As you leave town, you encounter a dragon to the right of the road. There’s no easy way to stop and look closely, but it’s an impressive bit of work. I wish we knew who made this one.

Our New House in Southern Oregon

As I said in the last post, we’ve just acquired a house in Southern Oregon. At the moment we have a contractor doing some repairs before we move in. We’re planning on moving sometime during the first couple of weeks in June.

We set out to buy a house in Ashland, which is a small university town famous for its Shakespeare Festival. We’ve visited it often, and last summer we decided to retire there. We looked at quite a few houses in Ashland, which is built along the side of a mountain, but all of the nice houses had lots of stairs, which our bodies don’t like much anymore. Also, They all seemed to be really close together compared to what we’ve become used to. We expanded our search, and found a house on two acres in rolling hills that seem to fit well. It’s also only 5 miles from downtown Ashland, and the trip is a fast one.

I think we are going to like it there. The house has great views, but of a different kind than we found in Ashland. The area is a mix of farming, mostly pear orchards, and residents on bits carved out of farms.