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Baseball and Other Little Activities

July 25 - August 7 (probably), 2017
Written July 31+
Dear Diary (mostly),

I enjoy building these diaries, but sometimes there really isn't anything worth foisting off to "Family and Friends".  No travel.  No special photo opportunities. No Marianne art showings.  No visits by cute grandkids.  No visitors at all.   Still, I'd like to write, so with your permission, I'll go ahead with whatever trivia I can spot.

First, it is Fresno Summer.  The following 10-day forecast confirms we haven't turned the corner to Fall.  Highs above 100F are not the problem, but lows above 70F are.  We need the cooler nights in order to avoid running the air conditioning 24-hours, a costly proposition.  Oh well, I hope this is close to the last heat wave.
d170725_04_masmermaid.jpgOther than huddling inside the air conditioning, our other coping mechanism is to go over and visit Marianne's mom - and her pool.  She enjoys the opportunity to sit outside a bit, although even shade temperatures can be too much.  Marianne enjoys just lounging in the not-very-cool water.  For me, it's best to get in, swim a lap or four, and get out.  We all have our own pace.

Sometimes, we have neighborhood activities, normally just cooling drinks, but a week ago Steve invited us to his company's box at the Fresno baseball stadium.  The stadium, planned to be an anchor of downtown revitalization, is very nice, though not often filled. 
On this Tuesday, the Fresno team played New Orleans and managed a win.  Maybe some of these names will become famous big-leaguers?

Otherwise, my normal garden activity has almost disappeared in this heat.  Chores that are fun become less so when the sun is bright and the temperature climbs above 95F.   Roses are interesting in this weather.  Above about 100F, they do not flower, but when we have a few days in just the 90s, they do show up, although often for only hours.  I like them, even in this stressed state.  I think we feel the same way:  wilted when the temperature is above 90F and gone when the days go above 100F

Speaking of folks working for a living, I recently received a phone call notifying me of a chance at a new part-time job: Guinea Pig.  Actually, it is called something like "medical study subject", and there are hints that I will receive some compensation for my time. 

The Alphabet (Google) subsidiary Verily Life Sciences is teaming up with Stanford and Duke Universities to study the medical condition of 10,000 subjects over a period of at least four years.  In April, I volunteered to be considered and I have apparently been selected for the Baseline Study.  My first activity will be 12 to 14 hours of medical exams at Stanford in September.  The test descriptions have been a bit vague, but seem to include samples of all bodily fluids ("blood, etc."  What does "etc" mean in this context?)  There will be a physical exam, including a stress test and some sort of "imaging".  Similar lab measurements will be repeated quarterly or annually.
For routine monitoring, I will receive a Study Watch and a sleep monitor, kind of like the FitBit I currently wear.  Unfortunately it seems the devices will not have the ability to tell ME anything but the time, so I might be stuck with two arm devices.  This will be my first piece of feedback advice: Provide information to test subjects.

There will also be weekly surveys and, potentially, daily food recording (which I do anyway).  The surveys will include both health questions and "mood" inquiries.  I guess that's Google's way of asking: "How ya' doin'?".  Fine, thank you.  In any event, I will keep this diary up-to-date on anything interesting from the study.

d170731_02_peachlady.jpgBeyond this, it is quiet time here in Fresno.  We have our routines, but finding "events" needs effort.  Shopping is sometimes good, especially when there are local fruit stands.  The "Peach Lady" here, sells fruit from her backyard farm and offered great Elberta peaches, an old-fashioned variety that is ONLY available from local growers because it bruises easily.  She was most enthusiastic about her products and showed me iPhone pictures of her trees like some of us show grandkid pictures.  Nice enthusiasm.

d170731_04_firespray.jpgOtherwise, our events often consist of meals out.  This week, that has been in part because we are under electric load limits ("PGE SmartDays") that preclude afternoon air conditioning and evening cooking.  That's ok.  On a visit to California Pizza Kitchen, we ran across a few cars that had been hit by fire suppression spray from a plane flying over a few days ago.  Somehow, they managed to spray the largest shopping center in town.  Oops.  At least it gave us something to talk about.  We need all the help we can get.
That excitement bridged the gap to my birthday on the first of August.  I am not big on birthday celebrations any more and 71 isn't any sort of milestone.  It's just an age that used to be old, but is now normal.  It seems like several of our friends have reached this age.  We started with breakfast and gift opening.  Thanks to my partner, as usual. 
I also received greetings from all parts of the family, so thanks to them too.  My representative family greeting picture is from nephews Adam and Spencer, prompted by their folks, no doubt, but appreciated.

After that, it was all the normal routine: gym and puttering.  "Puttering" is the normal activity for 70-somethings.

Dinner was a splurge.  We used Uber for the first time and we felt very modern.  Not old at all.  The ease of this ride-hailing process and the friendliness of our going and returning drivers convinced me that the traditional taxi business really is dead, just one more change from our past decades.  In the almost-twenty years of these diaries, change has been continuous, whether we are prepared or not.  I do hope we can keep up -- enough.

Dinner itself was at The Cracked Pepper, a restaurant we had not been to before but one that was well recommended.  It did have a menu with variety, and I always enjoy my favorite meal partner, no matter the food.  The highlight, unfortunately, may have been the wine, a Rioja from near Briones, one of our earlier Spanish adventures.  Good for past memories, but depending on Uber allowed us to drink a bit more than elders should.   Oh well, it was all fun.

The next day, it was 79F at 6am when my tired body started moving.  It was also going to be a SmartDay with electric restrictions, so we needed to get our chores done early and move on to our heat-coping strategies.  First, I sent birthday greetings to Chris and Gabby.  Since theirs are just one day after mine, it's always easy to remember these birthdays.  Apologies for all the birthdays I forget.
For heat coping, we decided to head up into the Sierras, to Grant Grove Village in Kings Canyon National Park.  The 7000 foot elevation promised temperatures 25F cooler than Fresno.  Sounded good.  Now, we aren't real hikers, but we needed something to do up in the National Park, so we fell back on those old standards: eat and read.
The cafeteria at Grant's Grove Village was rebuilt this year, so we decided to give it a try.  We have eaten at a number of these National Park cafeterias in the West, and they seem similar: Decent, if not imaginative, food; Reasonable, if not cheap, prices;  Service by mostly happy people; And, generally, great views. Today's lunch fit the model.  Maybe not normally worth a 60-minute drive, but it did come with desired cooling.
After lunch we walked a bit and then drove over to check out the Lodge.  In summertime, reservations here are almost impossible, but we learned that last-minute cancellations occasionally hit at 11:00 am, so we should keep that in mind for the next time we need heat relief.  In the meantime, we pretended we were guests and settled in the rustic rocking chairs to read our books.  Can't beat it.

We did have to leave our mountain resort in time to water the garden back in Fresno. We were home about 7pm, and it was still 104F, 30 degrees hotter than Grant's Grove.  Next time we should just stay up in the mountains!

It is still hot in Fresno, and there was little chance for any more breaks or events worth a diary note.

Next week: Sacramento

Stay tuned.

John (mostly) and Marianne


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