Caracal Kittens Update

Since I’ve always subscribed to the Oregon Zoo’s YouTube page I get updates by email of new videos. Of course then I can copy this link to share with all my subscribers to my blog. So it is again today that I share the latest video from the Oregon Zoo. Enjoy!


The VA Swamp

Our president elect, Donald Trump, coined a phrase during his presidential race, “swamp”. He was referring to the mess our country has experienced for the past decade in Washington, gridlock compounded by partisanism. We can’t seem to get anything done because of the gridlock in the congress and senate.

I’ve experienced a swamp mentality in the Veteran’s Administration for many years. The wrong people are in charge of a bureaucracy that has ground to a halt, leaving veterans out in the cold without the well deserved benefits we owe them.

I tried calling my VA Clinic in Worcester, MA yesterday to find out what happened to my insulin prescription refill ordered nearly a month ago. The pharmacy answering service looked up my medical records and stated that there had been a clinical error in placing the order, that it had been place but not shipped. That doesn’t console me when I’m down to my last two doses of insulin for my diabetes. The VA worker then attempted to forward my call directly to the VA Clinic where I go for service, hoping they could shed light on why I had not received my vital medication. Twice I’d called pharmacy answering service and been transferred to a phone system where nobody answers the phone. I waited more than 10 minutes each attempt while listening to a computerized apology stating my call was important and I should hang on. My anger grew with each repetition of that message.

Finally I was ready to go postal, to grab a club or weapon of some sort and drive the half hour distance to the Worcester clinic to see if everyone was being held hostage by terrorists or something. There’s no excuse for this kind of service. It was Friday, the day after the holiday. I kept thinking of Donald Trump’s favorite sayings, “you’re fired”! When I finally arrived I had calmed down a bit. It was apparent there was no hostage  situation, just incompetent VA workers playing dumb about why they hadn’t answered my calls.

After some scrambling to “fix” the problem I had my insulin waiting at the pharmacy in the clinic as well as a box of 30 screw on needles for my Novolog pen that delivers my 2nd type of insulin. The clerk at the front desk scribbled the phone number at the front desk which I quickly showed her in my cell phone’s “recently called” numbers file. There was a surprised look on her face and no further excuses or lies were forthcoming. I had the proof of my many attempts to reach them.

So this was how I spent “Black Friday”, not shopping or fighting the hysterical doorbuster shoppers but instead driving to the VA clinic to get my medications and diabetic supplies. I managed to get lab work completed for my upcoming physical checkup on Nov 28 with my primary care doctor. She’s going to get an earful from me about this incident. My prayer would be that President Trump clean out the VA swamp and get our veterans the care they deserve. 😦 End of rant!

Happy Thanksgiving


Here’s my simple Thanksgiving wish to all my followers. May you all have a blessed day with or without your families. May you all be healthy and happy. Know that each and every one of you is special and that God has never loved you more than He does right now!


Senior Center 2016 Thanksgiving

The first of my two Thanksgiving meals was served this past Tuesday at the Uxbridge, MA Senior Center. It was put on this date so that the staff get get 5 days in a row off for a mini holiday vacation. There were around 50 visiting senior there enjoying the meal and festivities.

Present this year were a group of students from St. Mary’s church in Uxbridge that have entertain the seniors at this annual gathering for years. The harmony and voices in the group was beautiful. All in attendance enjoyed the concert.

There were 3-4 prizes awarded thanks to generous donors. A couple of lucky senior took home baskets of goodies and a number of beautiful potted plants. The meal was prepared by two or three of the center’s staff and delivered to the dining seniors by local volunteers that included our politicians.




Share Your World – 2016 Week 47

Share Your World – 2016 Week 47 (Grateful list)

What are you grateful for in regard to:

  1. Your home life?
  2. Your family?
  3. Your blogging community?
  4. Your city or immediate area in which you live?
  5. The regional area in which you live?
  6. The country where you live?
  7. You

I’m a solo act with regard to my home life these days but l am grateful for my neighbors in the senior housing facility where I live. We stick together, helping each other out when and where we can. Not everyone owns a car anymore or even has a drivers license. There are handicapped folks up to 90 years old right next door to me.

My blood relatives are spread all over the United States, from Illinois to New York, to South Carolina. When I start keeping track of the nieces and nephews I’ve lost track of where they all live.

I have around 4800 followers that include family and friends from 4 states. I have precious followers from Japan, Philippines, France and many more countries. We’re a tight knit group. I’m grateful for each and every follower.

I’ve been living in Uxbridge, Massachusetts for 13 months now. I wish I could move all the people in Uxbridge to Portland, OR which would make for utopia. The folks around here are so genuinely friendly I have to pinch myself every now and then.

I actually haven’t strayed far enough from Uxbridge to sample the New England culture. I can share that they have the most beautiful trees in Fall and the most snow in Winter. We haven’t had our first snowfall yet but it’s not far away.

I’ve visited and lived in a number of foreign countries such as Japan, Korea and Thailand. I’ve witnessed primitive living conditions there that most Americans would shy away from. We have the best medical and commercial diversity anywhere. We have the highest level of technology and comfort products in the world. We have the most advanced system of agriculture on the planet, supplying us with the highest quality of food anywhere. I love to travel but only to go sightseeing. I’m always happy when I return home. 🙂

With regard to myself I’m grateful to be alive, healthy and able to stay mobile. I look forward to each sunrise and grateful for staying so busy I’m never bored. Life is good!

How Far We’ve Come

I’ve always a gadget & technology geek. My career field was electronics for better than 45 years so it came naturally. I was the first to have an IBM PC in 1978. In the early 1980s I became interested in voice recognition technology because of my quadriplegic fried paralyzed since he was 17. To that point all he could do was listen to cassette audio tapes of book. The rest of his days were spent watching TV. I decided to expand his world by collecting donations to build him a custom PC capable of getting him on the internet and controlling everything using only his voice. A generous donor bought him Kurzweil Voice, software that was on the leading edge of voice recognition technology.  That changed Dale’s life.

Using voice recognition software Dale was able to control the mouse and type by talking. That allowed him access to an unlimited online library. It also allowed him to play chess online and chat with new friends around the world. That was 1982.

Recently I saw an ad for Amazon’s Echo Dot, a third generation personal assistant that was like Apple’s Siri on steroids. Recently there has been a giant leap in voice recognition technology that allows control over everything in your home. With competition coming from Apple, Google, Amazon and others Amazon dropped the price on its 2nd generation Echo Dot, a hockey puck sized device that has a multitude of microphones and sensors all around its circumference. The unit is now selling for $49.95, half its original price.

I bought an echo dot 2 for my Christmas present to me from me. I buy the best gifts! 🙂 Now I can control all the lights in my apartment with GE LED wired built that have a receiver and 3 way dimming built right in them. They’re guaranteed to last 22 years and sell for about $13 each for a 60w bulb. These are programmed by a Wink hug that controls everything. The Amazon Echo Dot responds to voice commands to individual bulbs or groups of bulbs you program.

Some of the other capabilities of the Amazon Echo Dot include pairing to external bluetooth speakers such as my Bose Soundlink II that puts our incredible sound quality. It links to my Amazon Prime account that gives me a music library of over 250,000 songs. It also links to my amazon Kindle account and will read any book in my personal library plus the Prim account library of hundreds of thousands of title, for free. I can read chapter and verse of any bible or read chapters and books of the bible in their entirety. I can set alarms, get the weather report for anywhere and have Echo tell me the exact time. Echo never sleeps and is always eager to answer any question. It will even tell you jokes on demand.

So you can see that for an initial investment under $50 I can have a whole lot of fun. The Wink Hub is $62. Life is good!


Pizza Guys & Gals

I’ve discovered my pizza place for life recently. It’s the Uxbridge House Of Pizza just a quarter mile from my home. Located on main street across from the senior center it makes the best hamburger/mushroom pizza I’ve ever eaten for around $10 with a bottled soft drink. I usually treat myself to a pizza after church on Sunday. I have also found a source for my favorite frozen pizza, Dr Oetker’s Ristorante Pizza. I like the pepperoni pizza and the three cheese variety. I buy freshly sliced mushrooms and add them to both pizzas.

Anyway the fresh ones at Uxbridge Pizza are to die for. I just made myself extremely hungry! The two workers, seen below, are extremely nice. People in this town are genuinely delightful. I’ll need to tell them of tripping leaving their business last Sunday. I’m not hurt but the scab on my left knee is still healing. I hit the hard sidewalk on both knees. 😦


The Elephants Reign Supreme

It’s true, the elephants do reign supreme at the Oregon Zoo. Taxpayers locally paid for major renovation to the Oregon Zoo that began with an ambitious new elephant environment known as Elephant World. It stretch the entire length of the grounds which also brought about enlarging the zoo’s train, a popular feature of visitors. It’s all complete now and I saw only part of it come to fruition before relocating to New England last October. I can only imagine how cool it is to walk above Elephant World and witness the ever growing herd of Indian Elephants in residence. It’s the prize attraction of the zoo.


Giant Logs Make Great Toys

I maintain a YouTube subscription to keep up with what’s happening at my beloved Oregon Zoo. Locals who go there know what a special place it is. I used to visit the zoo nearly 200 days a year and I must admit I miss it. It provided me with regular exercise and unlimited subject matter for my passionate photography.

Today I received an email with the latest fun. Fortunately the Oregon Zoo is located in a mild climate that allows it to remain open all year long. I remember riding a mass transit train and getting off at the Washington Park stop when I noticed snow falling in the area. I wanted to capture footprints in virgin snow along the path.

I hope you enjoy the attached video below showing the zoo’s elephant herd playing with the giant logs that grow locally. The logging industry is in decline in the Pacific Northwest where it used to be king.

Share Your World – 2016 Week 46

Share Your World – 2016 Week 46

Are you a traveler or a homebody?

In the recent past I was a traveller, being a contributing photographer for National Geographic. Now retired from my full time job I’ve become a homebody, living on a fixed income.

Describe yourself in a word that starts with the first letter of your name.

Melancholy!  I had at least 3 letters to choose from, R for Robert, B for Bob and M for my last name, Mielke. Since my last name is pronounced “Milky” my nicknames growing up were quite colorful, such as, “Milky Way”, “Milk Dud” or even “Milk Dude”. My family joke states that when the last of the Mielke family  passes away they are going cremate us all and turn us into Instant Milky! 🙂

List some fun things for a rainy day.

After 10 years of living in the Pacific Northwest I just like watching it rain. I used to grab my camera gear and head to the Oregon Zoo because the muted sunlight provided the ideal light for my animal portraits. I used to love to fish in a light rain when I lived in South Carolina (13 years) because it was cooler and kept the flying bug population at bay.