A tough good-bye, weather extremes, best movie and books, and other 2017 highlights

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Here are the good and bad from 2017:

Toughest Good-bye to a Canine: Molly, shown above in September of 2016, lived with Susan in St. George, Utah, but was an occasional visitor to my house, as in this backyard photo. She lived a long life, was always ravenous but otherwise contented, and showed friendliness to people but indifference to other dogs.

Extremes at My Local Weather Station:

  • High temperature of 122.7 degrees, July 7
  • Low Temp of 32.9, Jan. 25
  • Greatest rainfall of 1.44 inches, Jan. 20
  • Longest period without rain of 131 days from March 22 (.1 inch) to the Aug. 1 drenching (.11 inch)

Best Volunteering Experience: As a docent in Palm Springs Modernism Week.

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Laura Dapkus, Annalisa Capurro, and Mary Beth Acosta during Modernism Week 2017.

Best Tip from a Friend: Amy Selwa’s suggestion to sign up for Today’s Word with Joel & Victoria.

Best Christmas Surprise: An evergreen wreath with a red bow from my sister Julie.

Best Car Adventure: Picking up Bob Merlis in the ’17 Mopar Challenger, going to get gas for his out-of-gas Studebaker Avanti S, fumbling with the cap on the container, and getting gas all over my hands. A real car guy–that’s me!

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Bob Merlis wears an Avanti. When I backed the ’17 Mopar Challenger out of the driveway, I did indeed miss the big rock at the bottom. Photo by Lynda Keeler.

Best Movie: Their Finest Hour, a comedy about propaganda-film scriptwriters in London during the Blitz of 1940.  

Best Books: I read two new books. One was the catalog of the exhibit mentioned below. The other was The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age, by Sridhar Pappu. It’s nice to read a sports book once in a while. This gift from Angela Riechers sustained me during a period of recuperation. I also went on Amazon and found like-new copies of some older titles. Shelby Steele’s White Guilt: How Blacks & Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era explains briefly, so very much. And Why Are Jews Liberals?, by Norman Podhoretz, lays much of it to the influx of Bolsheviks from Russia. For highlights in fiction, I reread a couple of 1990s novels by Lars Gustafsson, a little-know Swedish writer who produced postmodern fables full of philosophical challenges and fascinating digressions.

Best Exhibit: Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, brought out subtle aspects of the view paintings depicting Venice and elsewhere by Carlevarijs, Canaletto, and their followers.

Favorite Writer in the Los Angeles Times: Thomas Curwen, who takes on subjects like the landslide over the coast highway and what’s being done about it, and the tunneling that’s going on beneath downtown L.A. for a new Metro line. His writing about the wildfires has been tremendous.

Best Ride: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, on a perfect day in July, with Amy Selwa.

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Amy Selwa shows peak form near the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway’s Mountain Station.

Dumbest Thing I Heard: The U.S. needs a new presidential primary system. It was a Canadian guy speaking to an Italian.

Biggest Dispute That Seemed to Amount to Nothing: The Saudis versus the Qataris.

Most Vanquished: ISIS.  

Best Wilderness Hike: With Susan, in early January, on the Lost Horse Mine loop trail, Joshua Tree National Park.

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Susan conquers the Lost Horse Mine Loop trail in Joshua Tree National Park.

Two Gutsy Appointees and One Unflinching Spokeswoman Who Have Earned My Admiration:

  1. Betsy DeVos: “She will do well to remember that the nastiness of her confirmation was in fact a backhanded recognition by her foes that they have lost the moral argument.” — William McGurn, Wall Street Journal
  2. Nikki Haley: “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember, when so many countries come calling on us–as they so often do–to pay even more, and to use our influence for their benefit…This vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the U.N. and how we look at countries who disrespect us in the U.N. And this vote will be remembered.”
  3. Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Only if your mind was in the gutter would you have read it that way.”

Three Great Motorcycle Rides:

  1. Near Lake Havasu on the latest Indian Roadmaster
  2. On the Monteblanco circuit, in southwestern Spain, on the Ducati SuperSport S
  3. To West Los Angeles and back, being part of the 500 miles I put on the phenomenal KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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