Happy New Year!

This was a black December for me but I am nearly through with it. Thanks for everyone’s support. My violent nightmares have stopped for now and life is livable again.

The coming year presents itself with a mess of worrisome and painful medical and dental procedures. I don’t know how I will get through them but I am trying not to think about them right now. There is Quartzsite to look forward to in the middle of January, provided I heal well enough to travel. The book continues to be enjoyable to write.

This video has a New Year’s celebration, with a clocktower bursting with fireworks. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a shabby bit of fun alongside the extremely cold Pacific Ocean. Santa Cruz is some sixty miles south of San Francisco.

Sci-Fi Caper is a garage band from Mendota, California. Their first album was recorded, literally, in a garage. Although their lyrics are hard to understand, their music is friendly, hopeful, and sometimes soaring. May midnight ring in a joyous New Year for you.

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“I Used to Write for Sports Illustrated. Now I Deliver Packages for Amazon.”

Here is a great article by Austin Murphy, author and longtime Sports Illustrated senior writer. He penned thousands of articles for Sports Illustrated over 33 years, 140 of them cover stories. He interviewed five presidents. He now delivers packages for Amazon. Although Murphy was not a freelance writer, he was a professional writer. And professional writers are becoming extinct without some other means of support.

As I’ve written before (internal link), unless you are on the staff of a surviving hardcopy magazine or you work for a book publisher, article writing is not a paying profession. Regular, dependable income for a freelance writer is impossible today by itself. Those that say otherwise are feeding on the hopes and dreams of the future writer, ultimately contributing to their misery.

Here is a link to the article: (external link)

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Holiday Greetings From Eight Years Ago

Thinner, paler, different glasses. Shorter hair. More cats. Happy Holidays everyone!


Alley Cat Allies

This is a picture of Skippy, from the front of the holiday card Alley Cat Allies (external link) sent this year. This non-profit specializes in helping feral cats, now often called community cats. The policy they advocate is called trap, neuter, and return or TNR. This action allows cats without a human home to live in surroundings they make for themselves.

This is far more humane and forward thinking than the ceaseless killing of cats at overcrowded shelters across the country. Besides their beautiful presence, I am sure that Skippy and his companions keep the rodent population down wherever they live. Here is what they say about Skippy:

“Skippy joined a colony nine years ago in Connecticut. He and all eleven of his feline friends have been neutered, vaccinated, and ear tipped. Connecticut is one of the few states that supports Trap-Nueter-Return by explicitly allowing state spay and neuter funds to help community cats.”

Although thousands of deserving non-profits exist, I would urge any cat owner to check the website of Alley Cat Allies (external link)  to learn more about their caring work. Thank you.

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Wallpaper* magazine

I first discovered Wallpaper* magazine in 1999. It was a thin volume then, all about design. “The Stuff That Surrounds You.” I think they now say, “The Stuff That Refines You.” It has grown into a massive tome, hundreds of pages each issue, with print subscriptions over $100.

It is totally globally focused, with stories from so many obscure locations that you’ll need Google at all times to find out where they are. The name dropping is outrageous as this example shows:

“Take Stella McCartney, who created a Beano-inspired comic to educate guests about her sustainable footprint at S/S 2019’s fashion week, complete with speech bubble sound bites from Minnie the Minx, Dennis the Menace and the designer herself.” I think that’s five obscure references in one sentence. Although I do recognize Dennis the Menace, although I have no idea how he fits into the world of fashion or belongs with the daughter of a Beatle. (external link)

The architecture pieces are particularly well done, although all interiors seem to be revisions of mid-century modern. There are many good, free articles online at their website and anyone interested in design should check them out there or at a magazine dealer. This is an excellent piece on Jony Ivy and Apple’s new headquarters: (external link)

I broke down for a subscription recently and am awaiting my first issue. I think the heft and scope of the magazine appeals, although in a lost hope sort of way. It’s like the massive IKEA catalogs: surely somewhere in all those photos and pages must be something useful Something inspiring. If all else fails, I can cut it up for collages. It is certainly a broadening magazine as it introduces a world-wide view in every category it covers. This is their list:

Watches and Jewelry

Worth a look.

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Informed Delivery by The US Postal Service

Informed Delivery is a USPS service (external link) that e-mails you when letter-sized mail or packages are going to be arriving soon. I think it may be only first-class letters but any package should trigger an e-mail. Quite an interesting free service that allows anyone receiving important mail or those traveling to keep track of their post from anywhere they have e-mail. You can also manage package mail through Informed Delivery.

The only downside is that it is a somewhat lengthy process to first set up. Figure on fifteen minutes or more to go through all the registering. Once done, however, you’ll see something like this when a letter is on the way, either by e-mail or by logging onto your Informed Delivery dashboard. By this picture, I see I owe someone a Christmas card. You don’t get a picture of a package, though, as far as I understand, just a notice.

It’s not working in all areas yet but you can check on availability before heading into the registration process.

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Storm Clouds Blowing Over?

I’m feeling like returning to writing. The last bout of violent nightmares has passed and the remaining dreams, depressing and distressing though they may be, are tolerable.

Previously, before I halted my psychoactive medicine and my sleep medications, my nightmares and dreams were utterly incomprehensible. They were as surreal and inscrutable as any painting made by Dali. They bore no relation to any current event I was dealing with, nor any past occurrence. That has changed markedly.

My dreams now relate to things that have gone on the day before. I consider these more normal dreams, the kind most people get, although mine are always bent toward evil or anxiety. I might, for example, have loaned my truck out the day before to a friend. That night I will then have a dream about the truck being stolen, the contents looted, the truck never recovered. Or I may have a dream that, if I think about it, mirrors the imagery I just saw on a television show.

This is a dramatic change, from the violent to the merely stressful, from the confused to the relatable. I don’t know what this turn of events means. But, in a related event, my insurance carrier is providing a sleep study for me which I will soon schedule. Sleep studies focus squarely on the physical reasons for poor sleep and the last one I had found nothing wrong with me. Nothing physical, although they did say I never got into REM sleep, which is perhaps understandable given the clinical nature of the sleep facility. In any case, I look forward to exploring a possibly positive avenue.

On the downside, I have just been diagnosed with skin cancer. A minor form. One doctor says it’s a small price to pay for being outdoors. I’ll have to be cut on, right below one eye. I’ve put off the operation until into January but I hope to heal well enough to be ready for Quartzsite come the middle of that month. I’ve continued to read throughout the last black month and I feel better now about putting what I’ve learned into writing. I thank those who have expressed concern. One day at a time.

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Going to Tucson this February to see The Big Show? Better read this post:

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The Tonopah Historic Mining Park

The Tonopah Historic Mining Park Foundation has begun fund raising to physically secure what’s known as the Silver Top Headframe, one of three located at the Mining Park. A headframe is the signature feature of any large mine, permitting the hoisting of workers and ore from deep below to the top of the complex. A very few 2019 calendars, printed to help raise funds for the Foundation, are available at the Mining Park Visitor center for purchase.

While it may be winter, planning a park visit can start now by checking out its website or by reading up on Tonopah’s fabled mining history. Make sure to stop in if you’re heading to Quartzsite in January or Tucson in February. There are other reasons to go to Tonopah.

Anyone going to or leaving the Southwest by way of US 95 in Nevada should stop for many excellent reasons. The first is fuel, since the nearest gas stations are 100 miles north and south of town. After you’ve topped your tank, consider visiting the Central Nevada Museum in Tonopah, the city’s best kept secret. After that, stop by Whitney’s Bookshelf, right on 95, a fine used bookstore, often with excellent mining books. Hometown Pizza is across the street if you are hungry, usually serving pizza by the slice. If you’d like different fare, try the Pitman Cafe in the historic and period restored Mizpah Hotel. If you’re not in a rush to get out of town, think about getting a room at the Mizpah. I like the corner room on the fourth floor, the one with the claw foot bathtub. I think it is Number 409. But I digress. The best reason for any prospector or rockhound to stop in Tonopah is the Historic Mining Park, owned by the city and operated under regular, dependable hours.

Tonopah was America’s last great gold and silver strike. You’ve heard about the Gold Rush of 1849, the Comstock, and the Klondike. But there was also Tonopah in 1900 and for years thereafter. The visitor center and the the park grounds highlight this stupendous and spectacular hunt for precious metal at the turn of the century. The park is right behind the Mizpah Hotel. The entrance road is best approached in larger vehicles by Burro Street. The visitor center parking lot has room for two or three RVs and the exit road is a pull-through, so there is no worry about having to back up.

The grounds offer a self-guided tour. Pick up a map at the visitor center which also houses a terrific rock, gem, and mineral museum. As for the grounds, hiking the park at 6,000 feet can be tough at times but take it slow and take some water. Great opportunities for photographs. For those out of shape or mobility challenged, tours on a Polaris with a guide can be arranged. Call for current availability and charges.

As to the Foundation’s principal project, securing the Headframe, Eva La Rue, Administrative Assistant for the Tonopah Historic Mining Park Foundation, told me this story in an e-mail:

“Because the Foundation was created to basically help preserve the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, this has become one of our projects. The Silver Top mine includes not only the headframe, but the hoist house and the ore house (grizzly) too. Basically, the headframe is currently supported by four cement blocks, that were poured around the legs of it to help stabilize it years ago. The problem is that the only thing underneath the blocks of cement is some rotting wood. So the wood has rotted away and now the cement blocks are sinking down. A few years back an engineering company out of Vegas reported that it appeared to be in danger of total collapse. So, the plan is to take it apart, piece by piece, and build a cement pad or base for it to stand on, and then re-erect it, anchoring it in place. So, this is a HUGE project, and the costs are high, especially when the equipment and manpower must be brought in to work on it. But the alternative was to lose it.”

Visitor Center

Desert Queen Mine and Hoist House

(Article originally posted on December 13, 2018 to my book site,