Coping: Coloring Books for Seniors?

imageNaw…tell me it ain’t so…

This morning we venture into an area which I’m not terribly familiar with:  Art.

Maybe as Linkletter, Carney, and perhaps in a gallery, but that’s about it. I pride myself on being a cultural Heathen.

The discussion today arises from the annual cleaning of my office, an event which starts in January, picks up a head of steam by the middle of February, takes a break during Tax Time, which is usually around the first of March, and finally ends up being delayed when the annual parade of house guests and social commitments ramps up in April or May…and then we are into summer travel and who wants to clean then?

This year was no different…and sometime back in January (the fixing-to-get-ready part) I stumbled across something I thought Elaine would like – since she is the local art genius when comes to anything with a point to it:  Paint brushes, pencils, charcoals and so on…

What I’d run across was a several-years old Wacom art drawing surface and wireless pen.  I looked it up:  2009 Wacom Intuos4 Small Pen Tablet which are going used for about $65.

Depending on how serious you are about art (and how much you will really use it) there are some great (and cheap) drawing surfaces out there like the Huion H610PRO Painting Drawing Pen Graphics Tablet which looks about like our 7-year old Wacom surface.  The new ones from Wacom are a little more pricey like the $349 asking for a Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Tablet, Medium (PTH651). The small version (which is what we have) is $199 and change.

Anyway, there was that and some software (Autodesk SketchBook Pro 7 $115) and I thought “Gee…she will like this a lot…”

You ever have one of those projects where you start off and then discover that God or Universe (or whatever) doesn’t want anything to go smoothly?

Well, this is what happened to most of my Tuesday this week:  Went over to the house, started the install and after discovering that a Gear-something driver associated with an old iTunes account roached the driver for the DVD/CD rom deck, the next couple of hours were spent tracking down all the errors.

It was a terrible experience:  Seems this Gear-whatever driver entered itself in half a dozen spots in the registry so that meant rolling up the sleeves and playing down at the regedit.exe level and that’s always fun.

While I was in the registry I noticed a lot of old junk, so off to hit things with and then the free version of Wise Registry Cleaner (version 9 beta worked great).

Fortunately, between Microsoft and Toshiba, and lots of MSFT user comments, I finally figured how to get the DVD running again…so on to the next problem of installing the software.

From that moment on, everything I touched worked well.  It proves (to an oldster like me, anyway) that computers really can sense human weakness.  In order to solve any computer problem I’ve ever encountered, the main ingredient always seems to be my mindset and determination than finally pays off.

So after a full morning and into afternoon, I took off back to the office (walking the whole 100 feet, lol) leaving Elaine to try something simple to “get the feel” of the drawing surface.

Here’s what she emailed me later in the day:


Holy smokes!  All I could do with the drawing surface was annotate some technical drawings on a client project…but to actually produce ART with it…this AMAZED me.  Worse, Elaine blew it off with one of those “…yeah, yeah..nothing special…I should get serious about it one of these days….”

Well, as I was telling my friends Gaye and Shelly (also known as SurvivalWoman and SurvivalHubby over at,) in our weekly Skype hook-up, I wish I had 1/10th of Elaine’s talent when comes to art.  I figure to be around 1/100th of her skill now…and then barely.

Well, that got us onto the topic of Art in general and Gaye proceeds to reveal that both she and Shelly have really gotten into the latest craze sweeping our age group.

And that is?

imageAdult Coloring Books!


Gaye grabbed the book she’s working on at the moment and went into an incomprehensibly detailed discussion about how some of the cheaper colored pencils are better than the high-end ones.

And some of the mid-grade…. well, I don’t want to steal her thunder too much except to pass on the following notes to myself on all this.  But I hope she will put some mention of it on her site because – as they have known over 40-years of friendship – my idea of “art” is a printed circuit (PCB) layout for a six layer board.  (And my only ability to dance is stomping on the pedals in the airplane in difficult cross-wind landings.)

Art ain’t me and if Visio, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7, and Inspiration 9 plus the usual databases and MS Office tools don’t cut it, then I may not be working at my highest value levels.

On  the other hand, Gaye and Shelly enjoy sitting outside (when the sun’s around) in the afternoon and relaxing for a few minutes with an audio book and filling in mandalas.  Shelly started with an animals book, but from what I gathered, he’s in the mandalas now, too.

What are the takeaways from this and a Skype family call with Elaine’s son Brandon and grand daughter Charli-Jane who is also working on art projects this week?

#1.  Elaine thinks the best book out there for learning to draw is Betty Edward’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition which is like $12-bucks.  I picked it up once but it didn’t help me.

#2.  Gaye is holding up her current page in Centered (Angie’s Extreme Stress Menders Volume 2) which is like $11 on Amazon.  So no big cost barriers to this (compared to RV’ing…).

Alternatively, she says there are some adult coloring book sites where you can buy a book or just look for materials online.  Some will send you to a page where you download the .PDF and print that and then on to your art’s desire…

Gaye doesn’t have time in her schedule for more than a few minutes a week on her book.  Shelly leans to the golf course over art, too, come to think of it.  I mean 18-holes with the guys versus a coloring book doesn’t seem like it would be too hard a choice…

Meantime, the little voice in my mind says no wonder people in other parts of the world think Americans are over-pampered and spoiled.  I mean, where else would capitalism and extreme marketing result in specialized products for the adult coloring book market  like the $28 CulaLuva Gel Ink Pens 60 Gel Pen Set with Compact PVC Case has 59 Assorted Colored Pens & includes 2 Black Gel Pens. Great Colorful Pens Set for Mandala Coloring Books for Adults.

#3.  Charli-Jane (the grand child)  is in some “PassPort” to something-or-other program that mails an activity kit out every week and as she gets projects done, the parents give her a passport sticker to put on her box of “passport” projects.  I was concerned she decided to paint the Kremlin purple, but maybe she knows more than I do about the reds with the blues…

I’m a bit fuzzy on the name of the kid passport dealy and honestly, given what passes across the desk here, that might not come up before the polar caps melt…

My only contribution to art this week may be learning to put down my keyboard, but I can assure you that if someone around the Ranch has coloring book time, I will hand them the tractor keys  and tell them something like “Don’t be so small-minded!  Go do some real earth carving…”

From there, it would only be a short step and a revised sales pitch to “Here at the lawn tractor keys…your greens are getting a little too intense and they need to be lightened a bit…”

Marketing Factoid – Novel Idea

Speaking to our local Brown Box delivery company driver this week:  He tells me abut 42% of all his deliveries are Amazon nowadays.  “If Amazon ever takes a break, we’ll be in a heap of trouble..”

It did inspire an interesting novel idea and plot line:  Hack the shipping database of the world’s largest online retailer and scramble the ship-to’s for a week or so.  Scramble the regular delivers on Day 1.  On Day 2 scramble the 3-day orders.  On Day 3, scramble all the two-day orders, and on Day 4 scramble all the overnight deliveries.  Also on day 4, buy all the put options you could afford…

On Day 5…watch the worldwide delivery system with an evil smile.  Things would be mis-delivered all over the place.

On Day 6 issue the demands and sell “unscramble code.”  Sell the put options.  Take the payoff in BTCs offshore.

And, of course, on the 7th day, the perps rest.

Hell of an Inflation Story

I mentioned a couple of days back that a rental home I sold in Seattle for $10,000 in about 1973 (back during the Will the Last Person Leaving Seattle Turn Off the Lights? times) was showing on Trulia last week as having an estimated value of $625,000.  (Am I an idiot, or what?)

Well reader Ron – now hanging out in the frontier country (Oztralia) recalls a similar deal in the Bay area back when…

Coincidentally, we bought our first house in SF also in 1970: 3 br, 1 ba, $26,750.  Now worth $1.2M, but hasn’t increased as much as your 1 br, 1 ba.

The only item I’m aware of that’s risen in price more is university tuition.  When I started at Cal State Univ Northridge in 1960, tuition was $58 per year. Now, according to CSUN’s site, tuition is $9629 per year.  Up 166X, thanks in part to the Clintons’ undischargeable student loans, of course.

Keep on kicking ass!”

I’m not sure how much of what we do around here is ass-kicking or having ours kicked and using this column as a confessional.  We’ll have to put in knee pads, though, if we keep going into “real estate I should have bought when…:” stories.

Back in that 1970’s era, I almost went slightly over my comfort zone to buy a $54,950 house on the Ship Canal outside the Ballard Locks in Seattle.  It was 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and an unfinished basement on something like 120-feet of waterfront, complete with a solid concrete seawall.

Last time I looked, it was carrying a $2.6 million handle.  So if you’re a young person, and you are in a profession or gig that might be around for a while (robot proof isn’t a term yet, but give it time…) then Housing will at some point be very cheap.

Panama (the bro-in-law) continues to look in Texas, but the best bang for the buck is still Killeen Texas (Fort Hood) where you can get a perfectly livable house for under $100K in a reasonable neighborhood.  $250-$300K gets a palace that would be in the $700’s and up almost anywhere else in the country.

Given that we get a new leader in November, and maybe someone who wants to actually raise defense on the home front a bit, I think some of these down-and-out military towns could be real turn-arounds.  But we shall see…  Meantime, like I said, if we all start recounting missed opportunities in real estate, we could have a Wailing Wall Lite going here.  And I could get rich selling knee pads.

Reader’s Writes

On how directional signals in dreams work:

Very interesting point about offsets. Did you see the video of the blind remote viewer doing the Kennedy assassination? The turn next to Dealy plaza was offset 180 degrees, or a mirror image.

Then there’s Chinese cartography which has East at the top, and North to the left.

I’ll be pondering why, all day.

OH-oh…do that and you’ll end up with the possibility that Leedskalnin (Coral Castle dude) was right about looking at all magnetics wrong…and that the Chinese cartography was used because it matches the “inner world” closer to the “outer world” and that Admiral Piri Reis of mapping fame did it all with remote viewing…This during the Ottoman Empire

One Other Dream Note

Damnedest dream overnight:  Kept dreaming about being on a motorcycle with some kind of throttle problem.  In fact, at one point, while riding, the throttle control simply fell off the right handlebar.  The inside of the mechanism was clear in the dream, too…

I don’t know if this means there is a recall coming, or if someone famous loses throttle control, or what.  But it was intense and I thought worth mentioning.  News scan at press time doesn’t show anything big.  Believe me, I’m on the lookout for this one.  It’s been 30-years since my old Virago 650 shaft-drive and no reason to dream of it now.  The bike in the dream was more like a moto-cross rice-burner…

Home Improvement Weekend

Sunday morning I MAY get around to updating the website here a bit.  One reason is this note from critic Doug…

Minor point. Like most people I know, I read websites mainly on a pad, not a monitor. So my clicking is touching.

Your website requires a double touch to go to a link, while almost all others require a single touch. Since the links take time to load, I often find myself looking away for a moment rather than staring at a loading screen. Often this means I absentmindedly look away then back, and there is no new screen, cuz I need to touch the link twice. Unlike a mouse, the double tap can have the longest interval between touches, though the link changes color on the first touch, which usually means it ” clicked ” on other websites.

It is a very minor irritation, but your web design is otherwise so superior that I find this mildly jarring some mornings.

Keep up the good work.

Yeah, I think this is either buried in the CSS style sheets somewhere OR it could be with some of the tools I use to keep robots from following links…and OMG, now we’re into a long discussion of web design which, although I am no expect on, I really am one of the “old men of the web” on since this site first sprouted in…how long ago was 1996?  I worry about tinkering with it now, though, since it is working fine for most, but the CSS I use now is not properly formed per some high falutin browsing mafia, so yeah, I will try to keep this working on phones and make it as convenient on the throne as it is on the desktop.

I think the new code might be named Charmin 3.0.

OK, where’s my crayons?  Off to work on this weekend’s Peoplenomics report… Write when you break-even,


13 thoughts on “Coping: Coloring Books for Seniors?”

  1. A week ago, I looked up the neighborhood my family rented in and were going to buy a lot in down in Florida back in 1970. Houses there now are in the $650,000 range and the lot my parents bought to build on, which later was sold after dad died for maybe $16,000 – houses on those lots are at least $700,000 now. Sure, it’s near one of the best beaches in the country – but wow, inflation by real estate is quite astounding. Is the land and housing “really” worth that value? In a downturn, chopping 20-30% off the value can easily happen. The dollar isn’t what it used to be – but neither are other currencies as well. To grow value again, money has to be taken out of circulation rather than printed into it.

    • In my town, my 1994 purchase of a built in 1958, $62,250 house is now appraised at $300,000. IF I sell, I cannot afford to buy back into my neighborhood. IF WE sell, WE cannot afford to buy back into our neighborhood at 2 earners. So, yep…. Property taxes are now at $5K a year….at some point, we will have to leave due to the property taxes, meaning we will not be retiring in this house.

    • At the risk of lighting off a “sex war” do you see in the data how neatly the doubling of housing prices coincides with the big corporate drive to “equality” – the underlying fact of which is doubling the number of workers and the decline in real wages such that now it takes two people working to provide a house and car that a single wage earner could provide in 1960??

      • Well, “a house” can vary widely. Our “capitalism-focused” leadership of always-growing-the-economy has give us credit cards, HELOCs, 0% car loans and many other ways to “buy more than you can afford”. So, “a house” for some of our parents at $30k to 40k in the 1950s and 1960s in nice neighborhoods has grown to 4000 sq foot “McMansions” and Mercedes in the garage at a price of $450,000+ Wages certainly did not track with these product price increases.

        A full time Nurse in 1960 could make $12k a year. And maybe $40k today. A stock-broker in 1960 made maybe $40k and now can make $40 Million a year. It’s top-heavy because that is how pyramid schemes work. Capitalism seeks to take as many dollars from the marginal consumer as possible while offering credit to make them feel like they are getting ahead. I have a mortgage – still. If I had taken out a 15 year mortgage when I bought my house in 1996 – I’d have been done six years ago.

      • Personally I think of that as more of an ‘end result’ than a ’cause’ – pushed by the devaluing of so many traditionally male-occupied jobs, and the rise of information technology (only part of which was ‘computer’ driven.) We are deep in the throes of a revolution, and it’s going to be much worse before it gets better.

        Don’t think many above the age of sixty will see ‘the good times’ – I probably won’t. Sorry.

      • Yes, George, this is a FINE point and one worth noting. Sending the ladies to work so as to potentially double the income tax base. Unfortunately, by outsourcing our middle-class jobs, taking our middle class wage paying factories off shore, signing trade agreements that further strip our ability to grow our wages and offer opportunities for our citizens means that we have even LESS of a way to recover than we had during the oil down turn of the 1980’s, at least then, we had a LOT more potential JOBS in the economy, now we have millions of jobs less! Using your Minneapolis Fed Calculator, when I made $10.00 an hour in 1980, I would now have to make $28.70 an hour today to just keep up with those wages from over 30 years ago….the average annual wage in American is (supposedly) $49,000 (which is…..$23.55 an hour – IF you can find it!!!) Hahahahah, see the joke is on ALL of us!

        P.S. George…! Remember this guy???? Neel Kashkari, he just became the President of the Minneapolis Fed as of January 1, 2016….I BELIEVE you said he would be back at some date in the future, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

      • P.S. George, I do not believe him…he has a nice article on the front page as President…her is just a snippet, “We didn’t consider a nationwide housing downturn.” That has to be a BIG lie….I saw it and so did a lot of other people WAY ahead of the ‘downturn’….so I guess he just ignored (he and Paulson) all those crazy loans they were putting warm bodies in just to do a mortgage and sell a house??? Hahaha, nice to see that wherever he went for the last few years, he got a mandatory creative writing lesson, unfortunately, he is painting it as recreating (rewriting) history to suit his self!

      • This feminist had dinner last year with two college students from an expensive East Coast institution. I asked them what was the big issue on campus, and they both agreed it was getting rid of the Confederate flag. I couldn’t believe it, with all the serious issues facing the US, and what the top schools are focused on is that flag? In my college days it was ending the Vietnam War and getting equal opportunities for women. I immediately thought of the Rothschilds and how they take over the banks first and then the media to control the population. The whole flag thing is such a red herring. But suddenly it occurred to me that I was probably manipulated by the same ones at that age too, and that’s why and how I became a feminist. Your comment fortifies that thought. We’re just herded around like livestock.

  2. I recently began watercolor painting and, as a result, am happier than a pig in warm mud. At last, something creative, beautiful and totally unrelated to electronic gizmos. I also am taking up penduluum dowsing hoping this can turn into something else I have planned. My life is so much better now that I no longer have to work on a computer. I did buy a smart phone and am in the process of learning how to use it before I turn it on. Otherwise, call me on my land line. Some of us are not brain wired for digital tech.

  3. I got a 3/2 home in Pahoa that was $250k+ in pre-2008 for only $97k… recently refurbished with a new roof, too! Values will return slowly as the lava flows go elsewhere.
    As a (former) TV ‘robot mechanic’ I learned that having a robot-proof job isn’t the answer. One needs a job that is ‘business-model-proof’ …like that will ever happen!

  4. Whoo Boy do I ever!

    My tale of woe is a four story 8 unit apartment building down the street from my 1 BR efficiency on Birmingham, AL the second year after I graduated that was for sale asking $89,000.00. Of course the unemployment rate in B’ham at the time (1980) was 18% – only Pontiac Michigan was higher.

    If Only!!

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