Sapulpa, Oklahoma, one of America’s crossroads

In Sapulpa, Route 66 (from LA to Chicacgo) crosses with Route 75 a north-south highway that travels from Noyes, MN at the Canadian Border to Dallas Texas… it USED to run all the way to the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston Texas, but that last bit (like 66) has been replaced by I-45.

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Where the two road meet the town created a really nice Neon display…which for some reason google maps doesn’t know about (will try to submit it) … the maple below the neon is right where Main street and Dewey meet.

 

 

Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise

The Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise is located in Window Rock, Arizona, and is for anyone visiting the Southwest in search of Native American Jewelry who gives a shit about their rights and/or disenfranchisement …and all that good shit.

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This is a store run by the Navajo nation that sells the work of some of their best artists– who are insured proper payment for said work. In other words, this is NOT where you come to get the “best prices” (which are often obtained by taking advantage of artists who don’t under stand pricing) but rather some of the best work, guilt free. Everything from jewelry to Navajo rugs, all of the highest quality … where you know for sure it was made by a Navajo and with the best locally sourced stores and wool, etc. (no Chinese crap pretending to be Navajo, etc.)

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If I had a friend who was a Native American Doctor or nurse, I’d buy this for them

The Store also sells Navajo raw products (locally mined stones, wool, etc.) to other Navajo looking to turn them into products for sale to the public.

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They’ve gotten much bigger and much more bureaucratic/professional since i was last here (20 odd yeas ago). In the building they used to not only sell stuff but also have workmen on staff who could repair it for you on the spot. Now they’ve got a second building mile away where they do storage and they keep the repair men hidden away, and you have to drop off and wait a week or so to get the repairs done.

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I had been saving up some stuff I needed fixed for when I next passed through the area, but it appears that was for naught. I even went to the second building hoping I could find somebody who would fix my ring ASAP, as I was only in town for two days… but they said they don’t do that anymore

Swing Dancing at Disneyland; Anaheim, CA

Wow! Every Saturday night Disney hosts a dance at Disneyland! WHO KNEW? The dance happens in Disneyland’s Royal Hall, a spot normally reserved for character meet and greets. (How they convert it from that to a dance space I don’t know.)

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I was wandering around Disneyland on a Saturday night, heard jazz music, assumed it was yet another of the obligatory Disney entertainments and found THIS… HOW COOL!

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From what I read, not only does this dance happen almost weekly (and has for a few years) but it has a dedicated group of regular dancers.

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From what I could it’s a very friendly crowd of very good dancers (for the most part) and more than few of them seemed to know each other. Back before my inner ear broke making spinning an impossibility for me anymore, I’d totally have been here every week.

The Indian Warrior aka, “Muffler Man” at Ethel’s Old Corral Restaurant: Bakersfield, California

Adjacent to Ethel’s Old Corral bar and restaurant on Alfred Harrell Highway in Bakersfield stands the last remaining Native American “Muffler Man” (25 feet) in California, and one of only 18 remaining ones nation wide.

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Driving towards this fiberglass “Muffler Man” you’re going to be SURE the directions are wrong, but they’re not. According to Roadside America, it was originally purchased in the 1960’s for $1,400 to bring attention to a tire store, at a time when tire brands tended to have Indian names; the Indian then was moved to in front of the local high school (as confirmed to me by the guy who took my picture while I was there), and then in the late 1980’s moved to this location in front of Ethel’s Old Corral restaurant

 

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This poem was written AFTER the statute had been moved to its present location… it’s boarder-line impossible to read.

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Oh, and not far from this bar, as you heading back to the highway you might pass this view of the Bakersfield’s oil fields

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The future is ALMOST now…or what’s normal in the SanFran Bay area is freaky everywhere else

You know you’re in Silicon Valley when… Didn’t happen to run into any of these in while attending my friend’s 50th wedding anniversary in the North Bay (i.e., north of SF) but as SOON as I got south of San Francisco …. BOOM… these suckers seemed to be everywhere ….  Google’s beta test versions of self-driving cars (i.e., the car drives itself) … there are testers seated in every vehicle who are there to make sure it doesn’t do anything stupid or kill anyone, but for the most part these cars are driving themselves.

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They’re easy to spot because of the radar type things on their roofs.

Welcome to the future!!!

That said, I wasn’t there but a day when I noticed one of the “hiccups” in the system of these new cars… as of today, they drive like your 80-year-old grand mother… in particular the one in the upper right hand picture was in the left turn lane and took for bloody fucking ever to make up its mind that it was in fact safe to make the left turn.

I’ve seen this happen more than a few times now, and then I heard a TV commentator talking about how drivers in the south bay are starting to get pissed off at the Waymo’s blocking traffic in left turn lanes.

The pics I took while NOT driving, were taken on a quiet suburban street in Sunnyvale, not far from Google headquarters…  outside the home of my friend where I was staying for about a week or so… Every day, almost like clockwork…  this Waymo showed up, would pull to the side of the road, stand there for a bit, then go on its way. One day I ran out (grabbed the pics) and got the girl inside to roll down the window. I asked her WHY were they doing that. She said, “I have no idea, the car does what it wants to do, I just sit here and take notes.”

A few days later I went to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California and saw this display on the topic, about the not to distant future (hopefully) where they’ve managed to test all the bugs out and fully self driven cars are ready for prime time (a future that I for one look forward to, as I’ve never been one to drive for the fun of it).

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A new (to me) sound technology I’ve never seen in a museum before.

Spotted this innovative sound management system that I’ve not seen anywhere else at The Computer History Museum in Mountain View California. I talk about it as part of a blog post about that museum, but I think it’s worth its own mention (and not buried in something much longer).

If you look carefully at the picture below you’ll see a woman watching a video in the middle of wide open space… this is pretty unusual although you might not realize it… normally movies are presented in cordoned off areas where the acoustics can be easily controlled. What’s even more unusual is from where she’s sitting the sound is completely clear and distinct, almost to the extent that it was like wearing headphones … or as though it were the only sound in the room, like in a movie theater. YET, from where I took the picture, you can only barely hear what she’s listening to at all.

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How you ask? Well… look above her head and you’ll see there is small white square hanging from the ceiling… That’s where the sound came from… Now, logic dictates that it’s some sort of directed speaker that produces very directed sound waves. As in, she can hear it loudly and distinctly without it annoying someone a few feet away (where I was standing). From there, it merges into a sort of white noise created by the various soundtracks all running simultaneously but without the effect of cacophony of sound, like you get in other museums.

You can’t see it, but right behind me was a different video, with the same set up, with its own sound track, that in no way interfered with the experience the woman in the above picture was having. Now let’s face it, I go to a LOT of museums and I’ve never seen this technology in use before. I have no idea how much it costs but I hope to see it a lot more regularly from now on. It rocked…

A Big Man on a Bike, called “Will B. Rolling”: Port Byron, Illinois

Not much to say about this, it’s a very big (30 foot) fiberglass statue of Victorian man riding a vintage bicycle called a Penny-Farthing, so-called because its two wheels were of very different sizes and looked like you were holding a penny coin (small) up to farthing coin (large)…. Its located in the tiny riverside town of Port Byron, IL. Usually, the “Big Things” sculptures on my blog have a bit more whimsy to them than this one did… Not sure why this failed to do so, but it did. As such, this one really didn’t “make me happy” in the way the other fiberglass statures tend to and unless you’re needing a break on your cross-country drive, I don’t suggest it.

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I learned about it from the traveler’s web page, Atlas Obscura and since it was ‘almost’ directly along the route I was intending to drive anyway, and at exactly about a point where I was going to need a break anyway (about once every hour or two, just to stretch the legs), I went.

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According to Atlas, there are actually two of these (not identical), this one in Port Byron Illinois and the second, called “Ben Bikin”,  located in Sparta Wisconsin, that have spawned a 300 mile bike tour that zig zags cross-country from one statute to the other, called the Will to Ben Bike Tour.

Bunjil Rock Shelter

Bunjil Rock Shelter is one of the many Aboriginal religious sites scattered throughout Australia. In is located in the Black Range Scenic Reserve, and according to this academic report, “It is the only known site in Victoria to contain bichrome [2 color] figures and an anthropomorphic figure whose identity is known…The site is generally regarded to be one of the most significant of the 150 or so Aboriginal art sites in Victoria, and yet its management has been characterized by nagging doubts about its authenticity.”

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Bunjil is one of their creator deities of the Aboriginal world (see image below), and is often described as a Wedge-tailed eagle, the largest bird of prey in Australia (see image above)

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Bunjil Rock Shelter was one of the meaningful (to me) places my host (while in Ballarat) took me to; she was driving me around and always keeping in mind my highly limited post concussive energy limits (the glorious serendipity of staying with someone who used to be a nurse). She said this was one of those places she’d always wanted to go to, but never had — so it was good for her too.

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My host and her friend, who joined us on this trip,v standing in front of the fence the protects the rock cave (just left of them)

Inside the cave there is an “Ancient” Aboriginal painting (according to my friend its had touch ups so that kind of screws with the ancient part)IMG_1873

Unfortunately I was the only taking pictures this day, and I was already seriously fatigued from our other stops, so I didn’t remember to ask someone to take a photo of me….

[NOTE: That said, I’m writing this blog post well AFTER my visit. In spite of the fact that I was in I came here on February 9, 2018… only about two weeks after my accident that had resulted in a sever concussion, I was only able to do this trip because my friend drove me around, and I actually spent very little time on my feet. Once back home I wasn’t mentally able to keep up with my write ups … At the time an outing like this one left me exhausted and the next day was spent just resting … but as I’m currently holed up in the Chicago area (i.e., my home base) doing things like doctor’s visits — including some related to the post concussive syndrome which I am STILL suffering from (albeit very mildly at this point, thankfully) and the fact that I hit the ground so hard that I dislocated my jaw (requiring some expensive visits to my dentist who is trying to fix the damage) —  I am taking the opportunity of being back on my home turf to rectify that lapse.]

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Personally I really loved the huge rocks in the area… although you have to wonder where they came from…

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Warning… if you decide to come here… whoever set up the signs leading to this historical site needs a good whipping. We had a really hard time finding it, and actually passed it twice.  It’s a relatively small sign placed well away from the road, on a side road that doesn’t really look like road… 

Link to the map

A matter of health… Two years later

Some of you may remember that on May 9, 2016 I was diagnosed with non alcholic fatty liver disease, and told that if I didn’t get it under control I would need a new liver. I am THILLED to announce that it is under control! I just got back from the doctor and my liver numbers all came back normal… like not even high in the normal range… utterly and completely NORMAL. It took me about two years of maintaining a very strict low fat diet where I was essentially trying to irradicate it from my diet entirely (except for fat from things like fish, nuts, or small servings of avacado & dairy). Not only that but having been pre-diabetic now for about 20 years, where my sugar was high, but I managed to keep it just low enough as to not necessitate insuline or meds (I was adament that I be allowed to try to control it with diet), my blood sugar has ALSO tested completley normal (I’m convinced there’s a connection).

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This is my chart from back on Sept. 1, 2016, about 6 months after then initial diagnosis, when I convinced the doctors that I could do it without medications

For those who don’t remember…. Back in May of 2016 I swung through Chicago for my yearly checkup, weighed in at 185 lb (instead of 130, which is where I should have been), and was informed that not only were my sugar and cholesterol shooting up, but I had developed fatty liver disease; and, if I didn’t do something, and do it quick, I was going to need a new liver. YOUCH!!! She said I had to make an appointment with a liver specialist ASAP, and I had to change my diet immediately, to as low fat as possible. Mostly fish, a little chicken, no beef at all, and as low fat as possible, so I could NOT eat at restaurants anymore.

However, I was only in town for two weeks, not enough time to even book an appointment with the specialist, had already paid for lodgings in Canada for June through August, and I knew I would not be back in Chicago until the beginning of September, when an old friend was getting married.

[Note: This, my dear reader is why pretty much every meal after May 2016 consisted of fish, and something low fat and full of fiber on the side. NOT eating at restaurants wasn’t going to fly, so I had to come up with some pretty fierce protocols to makes sure that didn’t harm me. I know this sounds extreme but,…. I start every order with the explanation: “this is not about me wanting to loose a few pounds, this is about me having liver disease and if I am not VERY VERY careful needing to try to try find a new liver and get a transplant. So, unless you want to quite literally poison me, unless you want to be partially responsible for my death, you need to listen very carefully.” … it seems to work.]

It’s also why I had scheduled, as I promised my doctor that I would, two full months in Chicago in September/October of 2016…. In mid October I went to the liver specialist, and was greeted with GOOD NEWS!!! Instead of 185 lb, I was 150 lb…  35 lb lost in five months….  and as the above chart showed, all my bad liver numbers had dropped.

Then they did a liver scan and he said there was no evidence of any scarring of the liver, i.e., cirrhosis. That he was very hopeful and happy (and how nice it was to have a patient who actually did what the doctor said to do). I was instructed to keep doing what I’m doing in terms of my low fat diet and exercise, till the liver number have come all the way down, but that he didn’t want to see me for two years, at which point he’d want to run tests again.

It is now TWO years later, and while I admit my careful eating, which involved careful ordering and ripping the heads off of restaurant staff that brought me anything oily was not always consistent, it’s been what was necessary to continue the downward movement of the really important numbers!

That said, I’ve actually managed to do it while STILL putting on a lot of weight over the course of the last year…. I had dropped down to a very happy 135 lb for a while, but in the last year I sadly have climbed back up to around 157 lb again…

That said, as I’m writing this I just realized my GP has to write me a referral so that I can make an appointment to see the liver doctor again this coming October/November (like he asked for)… and she forgot to do it… going to call her now.