August 2023


So it’s the last day of August and honestly I don’t know where the “summer” has gone. If we still lived up north we’d be looking forward to the cooler days of Autumn, and while it looks like Monsoon Season is winding down right on schedule next week, we’ll still have plenty of warm weather. It’s the reason we moved here.

I feel like the Summer of 2023 really never kicked into high gear for us. While we endured record heat in July and August, it’s been a relatively low-key summer for us. But then again, when you’re in the middle of the desert in the middle of summer you don’t really do as much outdoors like in other parts of the country.

I am looking forward to the heat retreating a bit so I can get back to hiking in the local National Parks and doing more outdoor activity. Up until last week I was relying on Beat Saber for my cardio exercise, but over the past week I’ve been able to go for walks at sundown, which is nice.

This weekend looks to be cooling off quite a bit as the monsoon winds down. I’m hoping for a spectacular lightning show at least one or two more times before Mother Nature settles down.

Money, Money, Money.

Let’s see. When I woke up this morning my husband said, “Don’t freak out but something is wrong with the car. The Check Engine light is flashing and it’s lurching and losing power”.

Ah, another ignition coil bit the dust. Earl took the car in, they initially told him it’d be a week to even look at the car because “no one wants to work”. Let’s face it, “no one wants to work for your low pay”. But after calling in again indicating this was an issue a year ago with one ignition coil and asking why they just didn’t replace all the coils at once, a cancellation suddenly appeared, we asked them to change out all the coils since they had to take the engine apart to do it (love modern designs) and $1.5K later we have a well running car again.

In the midst of all this our main air conditioning unit died on a record heat day here in Arizona. Another technician for another problem and our unit has bit the dust. Because the unit is over 20 years old and the refrigerant used in it isn’t allowed anymore, we need to get a new unit but don’t worry, tax breaks and TEP (Tucson Electric Power) credits will make it bearable.

$16K later we will have air conditioning in the main part of the house by the end of next week, with a new furnace to boot. But don’t worry, there’s tax credits.

Meanwhile, I’m attending Zoom calls at work with fans pointed at me and a t-shirt in place of my usual polo shirt.


My husband and I went flying on Saturday. It was a great day for a flight, actually, I should clarify, it was a great morning for a flight. We are still experiencing record heat here in the desert and after 10:00 a.m. or so it gets a bit too warm for the kind of performance I’m looking for in a Cessna Skyhawk. So, we were up at 5:15 and at the airport by 6:30.

We did a round trip flight to KIWA Mesa-Gateway Airport, just outside of Phoenix. Total flight time was two hours on the nose, clocking in around 166 miles, including run-up, taxiing, and the touch ‘n go at KIWA.

KIWA has three parallel runways that are fairly close together; a new experience for me. I had flown there once before early last year when I was working on my instrument training. It was nice to see the landscape to and ‘fro and to see where I was landing instead of doing a practiced missed approach, which is common when you’re doing your instrument training.

Earl took the photos while I flew the airplane. I forget there’s an autopilot in this C172, I have too much fun actually flying the airplane.

I am very lucky to have a husband that enjoys being my number one passenger in the airplane. After every flight I ask him if I scared him or anything that might have made him nervous. His response is always the same.



One of the things I enjoy about my annual storm chasing trips is experiencing other areas of the country, solo, without a safety net. I try really hard not to play it safe; one of my fondest memories from my trips is sitting with a bunch of strangers at a bar, eating supper and having a beer or two, in Liberal, Kansas. I chatted with the bartender, a couple of guys next to me struck up a conversation, and while they clearly thought about the country from a different point of view than the way I see the world, it was still a good conversation. They were cordial. They quickly figured out I was from out of town and when I told them I was from the Lake Ontario Snow Belt they were curious about that part of New York State. I was curious about their corner of Kansas.

It’s good to get outside our bubbles. It’s good to hear the viewpoints of others. It’s OK to have conversation.


Since my husband is retired and I am not, he has a little more time during the week to explore our fine city. The other day he mentioned a small park near our house that features a small lake and I was skeptical. I know there’s a small lake in a gated community just north of us, but that was the only year-round water feature I knew about. After all, we live in the Sonoran Desert.

We made our way to Lakeside Lake Park, where we enjoyed a nice afternoon stroll under the desert sun. It was well over 100ºF, so we actually made our way from shady spot to shady spot, but we did well, as neither of us showed any sign of sunburn by the end of the day.

It was quite lovely. I look forward to going back in cooler temperatures.


Truman likes to keep it casual. Sometimes kicking back in the middle of the room is just what he needs. Don’t we all.

A Conversation.

I have no idea how the Tucson Unified School District works. I know that even though we live in the city limits (our properly line is against the city line) we do not live in TUSD, but rather we live in the Tanque Verde Unified School District. It seems there’s a high school every three blocks in Tucson, mainly because there’s charter schools and magnet schools and public schools and private schools. Students appear to start school at the end of July in these parts, but only if you go to certain school districts. When I look at nationwide ratings, Arizona isn’t high on the list.

Thank god we don’t have kids.

I try to strike up a conversation with my husband about the education system here in Tucson and how I compare what I see here to what I experienced growing up in a small town in Upstate New York. There was one school district in our town of 3000 or so people. If you wanted to go to Catholic school or something, you still went to public school but every Monday afternoon you walked over to a different building to go to “Religious Ed”. I don’t know what happened there but I like to think there were nuns beating on students with rulers for writing with their left hand or something. If you went to private school, and opted out of our public school system, you were shipped away to a far away land to join the military or be rich. Toward my senior year there was rumors of home schooling and some religiously oriented students moved from a neighboring district to our school system, but otherwise it was PACS all the way.

My eccentricities and incredibly accurate, while highly selective, memories of my school years put a smile on my face and give me points of conversation. After 27 years of discussing these things with my husband I’m surprised he can’t tell me what room I was in for grade one. (It was Room 104 with Miss Kania).

When we were recently at the movies, a local elementary school was advertising on the big screen to entice elementary students away from the public school system and into their “traditional school”. I don’t really know what that means but I assume there’s highly curated curriculums, uniforms, and God.

I wouldn’t trade my public school education for the world.

When it was time for college I wanted to go to a private college for my music education degree. I didn’t really want a music education degree but I had been convinced that was all I could do so I went along with it. My parents couldn’t afford the private college so I applied at two state schools, auditioned at one twice, and got in on the second try. I didn’t even try that much at the SAT but I pretty much aced my ACT and that got me in. Also, the fact that I played tuba and no one else did made it easy for me to get into music school. I flunked out in express fashion by the end of my freshman year. I don’t blame my public school education for this. I don’t blame anyone for this, outside of my lack of interest.

I can think of a dozen or so classmates that started kindergarten and walked down the auditorium aisle for graduation, the likes of us attending all 13 years of public school together.

Many are friends on Facebook. I really don’t know why but we are.

And even after typing this blog entry I still can’t figure out how Tucson Unified School District works.


Temptation Eyes.

One of my very earliest memories is riding in the car with Mom and Dad and hearing this song on 62 WHEN-AM in Syracuse. I want to say it was before my sister was born. It was definitely before my Dad bought the ’71 Chevelle Heavy Chevy, maybe in Dad’s old Volkswagen?

From 1970, here’s The Grass Roots with “Temptation Eyes”.


The Lathem Time Company is best known for their time clocks. They have also made synchronized clock systems for many years. At the end of the 2000s they introduced their AirTime system, a wireless synchronized system that allows customers to install a clock anywhere they want without having to deal with traditional wiring. The system is controlled by a small master clock, which gets the current time from the NIST Atomic Clock and transmits to any compatible clock within a 500 foot radius. Other master clocks can pick up these signals and transmit them as well, expanding coverage. The entire system is battery powered, and Lathem had a solar charged version of wall clock as well.

Other companies do something similar, Primex and Sapling coming to mind. However, Lathem, being an “older school” clock company, built their Airtime clocks to the same standards of the clocks they’ve offered for decades, with offerings of a metal case, large numbers, etc. Unfortunately, Lathem discontinued the line a few years ago. I don’t like the plastic clocks available from other companies. It’s a shame Lathem stopped their Airtime line.

Now, one can buy clocks in both digital and analog flavors that synchronize directly with the NIST Atomic Clock, but the AM band used to transmit this information often fails to get to clocks on the interior walls of large buildings. Hence Lathem’s system where the master clock can be placed in an ideal location and then transmit the data to clocks anywhere in a facility.

The clocks rarely come up on eBay, as the system was never very popular, but this clock from a school in South Dakota makes a good addition to my man cave.