Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post-doc-visit

I saw the doctor who's filling in for my surgeon.

She took a look at the two problem spots on the incision. (One, I didn't think was particularly bad, but the other one was the area I suspected had gotten infected.) She applied peroxide, did I-know-not-what to help the less-nasty of the two spots drain, and trimmed down the one trailing thread that was protruding from the "worse" spot.

I think that thread was at least part of the reason why an infection was starting to set in. So I'm glad that she took care of it.

Then she gave me the new regimen: peroxide, OTC antibiotic ointment, gauze bandages instead of band-aids, and warm compresses. That sounds easy enough.

I'm glad I went in right away, while over-the-counter remedies are still able to be a solution. If I'd tried to wait it out, who knows what they'd have had to do to fix the problem. I've seen people end up in the hospital on antibiotics for bad infections. No thanks. I've had enough of hospitals to last me a while.

Doc visit

Did I mention that there are certain symptoms I was told to be alert for, that would indicate a possible infection in the incision area?

Well, there are. And on Thursday night (naturally, the night before Christmas Eve, guaranteeing that no doctor's office would be open until Monday at the soonest), some of those symptoms started making an unwanted appearance.

I dealt with it as best I could over the weekend, and on Monday, I called the surgeon's office. He's away this week, but the fill-in doctor asked me to come in so she can have a look and prescribe an appropriate treatment. I'll be there today, and with luck whatever she prescribes will knock this problem out.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow

I'm dreaming of a white... day after Christmas? That might not be how the song goes, but it's how our weather pattern is proceeding.

Mass was in the downstairs church today instead of being upstairs. That was a smart move on the pastor's part, because although the snow had not begun by the time Mass started, by the time we were exiting church, the flakes were falling. If you've seen the big stone steps outside the church, you'll understand why Father didn't want to risk having people walking on those steps while slick with snow or wet with salt and water. That would have to be filed under "accident waiting to happen", especially with older parishoners whose reflexes and balance might not be what they once were.

So we missed out on one day of seeing the pretty upper Church for Mass, but we made up for it by NOT having anyone see any ambulances or emergency rooms due to taking a spill on stone steps. It's a tradeoff worth making.

So I've heard predictions of anywhere from 6-10 inches to 8-12 inches for this storm, depending on what source I was listening to. Which probably means that there'll be snow left on the sidewalks, to some extent, by the time the Mummers Parade kicks off on New Year's Day (I HOPE. That's presuming the weather's good on Saturday). I do hope Mother Nature gets this snow stuff out of her system by New Year's Day. I hate when the parade gets postponed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Some people need to get a life

I heard yesterday the most "insulting" gift for a woman is clothing that's a too-large size. And I thought "Who in their right mind gets INSULTED by a gift given with an honest heart?" So the giver goofed up on the clothing size. BIG FLIPPING DEAL. As inconsistent as women's clothing sizes are, getting the size right on the first try, for the uninitiated, would be a real Christmas miracle. The correct response is to thank the giver and see about exchanging the too-large item for the correct size, sans drama.

But anyone who takes OFFENSE at a gift that was the wrong size really needs to sit down and take stock of their priorities. Seriously. The ungrateful harridan who would behave like that needs to get a life.

Ow.

The surgeon warned me that the subcutaneous blood clot near my incision might migrate over TO the incision area and cause bleeding, and not to be alarmed if that happens.

Good thing I was forewarned. He forgot to mention that there would be discomfort involved. Sigh. Tramadol time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Brrrr

Just for the record: should you find yourself either in your own home, or house-sitting for a friend, while the windows in said house are being replaced... if it's December, be prepared for the house to get cold.

Brrrrrr. That's all I can say.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Joan

It's that time of year again. December 17. It certainly doesn't feel like 15 years have passed.

We still love and miss you, Joan. We'll see you when we get there.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Proofreading... more than just a good idea

Mark got a note from a vehicle service regarding his car. I don't think he's actually used them, so your guess is as good as mine as to where they got his contact info.

However... here is the part that makes me nuts: "According to your owner's manual, your [year make model] is due for *it's* 90,000 mile scheduled maintenance."

"It's"? With an aspostrophe? On a document that gets sent out to potential customers daily? Does NO ONE proofread anymore? :headdesk: :headdesk: :headdesk:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Health update

Fasting bloodwork: DONE.

Weight update: 28 lbs since July. Slow but steady. I've kept to the gradual pattern of 1-2 lbs/week, with a small boost to the total last month since the Fibroid From H*ll is finally gone.

I would like the numbers to be dropping a little faster, but that will have to wait until I'm capable of resuming the 30 minutes of daily exercise. I'm not even close to that yet, so I'll have to be patient. In the meantime, I'll have to keep careful track of what I eat. I can certainly control that part of the weight loss regimen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

[grossout warning]

OK, the area next to the incision where the blood clot is, is FREAKIN' killing me. That dratted thing needs to be reabsorbed, preferably yesterday. Every now and then, that spot just sits there and hurts like heck, and this is one of those times.

Doggoned rat fink pain in the tail sore spot. Go away, you bastage.

[/grossout warning]

Thursday, December 09, 2010

So far, so good

I had my first followup with the surgeon yesterday.

Dubious Achievement: thanks to my 7.9 lb fibroid, mine was officially the largest uterus removed in 2010 at the (large, teaching) hospital I went to. I realize there are a few weeks left for someone to come in and top my numbers. But I assure you, I won't be envious of any person who presents with a fibroid even larger than mine.

The incisions (external and internal) are healing as they should. There's one area adjacent to the incision that I flagged as being sore. Turns out there's a blood clot in that spot. No wonder it's been consistently annoying at times -- something's actually there. The doc said that normally, the body reabsorbs the blood clot with no problem, but occasionally, it will migrate over to where the incision is and cause some bleeding there. So he said not to worry if that happens. Good call -- I wouldn't have been one bit happy to see bleeding show up unexpectedly, so at least now I'm forewarned.

I have a couple spots on the (6-inch-long) incision that are looking a little inflamed, or maybe even slightly infected. Those didn't trouble the doctor. I guess that they're not an unusual situation at this stage of the game. I was expecting to end up with antibiotics when he saw those areas, but no. To my surprise, he told me to put Vitamin E on them. Just as well -- I take enough pills every day as it is. I wasn't looking forward to adding more. So Mark picked up some Vitamin E last night, and I've started using it.

I need to curb my activity level a little bit, I think. I've spent the past 5 or 6 days nearly as active as I was pre-surgery, and boy is my tail dragging today. I think I did just a tad more than I was ready for. I don't regret any of it, but now I know to pace myself a bit better for the next few weeks.

So that's what's up. So far, so good. :-)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

We went to a frustrating Flyers game tonight. The Flyers lost 3-0 to Boston. I was glad to be there, as it was my first game since the surgery, but I do wish we'd have had a goal or three to cheer for. It was especially frustrating to watch some great chances around Boston's net come to nothing.

We sat in the accessible seating, as I don't think I'm quite up to climbing stairs to our regular seat yet. But it was good to get the heck out of the house, win or lose. I've been getting cabin fever lately.

I'm sort of sore now, after all that activity, but I'll deal with it. I'm not so sore that I think I messed anything up. The abdominal muscles are griping, occasionally stridently, but it seems more like they're objecting to having been used, rather than warning of new damage. So I'll head for the ibuprofen/Tramadol combo and call it a night in a little while.

I did learn something interesting tonight. The same abdominal muscles that are sore are the ones I use to holler and cheer. Producing any vocalization with any kind of volume turned out to be a source of discomfort. I suspect that singing would cause the same issue. The reason that's a relevant consideration is that I've been talking with our parish's new choir director about rejoining once I'm recovered from surgery. Looks like that plan will need to wait until my abdomen's in a bit better condition than this. If I can't even holler "Yeah!" without pain, singing an entire song at any volume beyond "under my breath" won't be much fun right now.

My mom warned me today that to really recover from surgery takes at least 6-8 weeks. So by my count, I've got at least another 4-6 weeks of recuperation to go. Here's hoping that's ALL it is. I really want to start the new year feeling like a human being.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The latest

Just a quick update... I've spent a relatively uneventful week recovering at home, which is a good thing. We went to JFM's for Thanksgiving dinner, which was very nice. That was my first time out of the house since coming home from the hospital.

I've been trying to balance activity with rest. I've learned my limit at least once by overdoing it. I sat up all day Tuesday, the week anniversary of the surgery, and was in pain on Tuesday night as a result. So I decided I'd wait a while before having another "sit up all day" session. I'll be able to do that eventually, but it seems that last Tuesday was not the day to try it.

Overall, though, on Thanksgiving I gave thanks for still being here. Things could easily have gone the wrong way medically, the night of the surgery. The nurse who came in to check on me was just ending her shift, but she had a sense that something was wrong and instead of just blowing it off and going home, she followed up on it. If she hadn't done that, I probably wouldn't be here now.

But, thank God, she DID stop in and discover I was unresponsive, she started the emergency procedures in motion, and the treatments were effective. So that was one big bullet dodged.

Fortunately, the biggest thing I am dodging these days is the attempts of Captain to curl up on my tummy. It was his favorite thing to do, pre-surgery, but my incision is not yet ready for 13 lbs of purring tabby to nap on it. So every time he tries to walk on me, I move him bodily so he's lying next to me. He's none too pleased about it, but my hope is that I'll have a kitty-ready tummy before long.

The Critterfest is happy to have Mom home. I can always count on having at least one furball nearby. Well, I could normally count on having a furball or three in the vicinity before the surgery, too, but in the aftermath of my absence, they seem to be more determined to Park Near Mom.

Anyway, I have no problem in saying that overall, it's been uneventful around here. I've had enough of events and crises to last me a while. ;-) Belated Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spectrum, I'll miss you

Dear Spectrum,

I would be there to bid you goodbye today, if I could. They're having the ceremony at Broad and Pattison to honor the building one last time, before the wrecking ball delivers its first strike, even as I type. But in no way am I medically ready to travel a mile and sit or stand in the cold in a huge, and I do mean HUGE, crowd.

So I am watching the ceremony on TV.

I will miss the Spectrum forever. It's a part of my earliest memory, in fact. I remember standing in the back seat of my grandpop's car, looking at the metal framework of girders when the building was under construction. Given the timeline of the Spectrum's construction, I can calculate that I was about 2 years old when that memory took place.

And heck... I almost went out a week before the Spectrum did. See the previous post (which for some reason came up without text when I posted from the cell phone, so I've repaired it). But fortunately, I'm still here, so I'm bidding the building goodbye as best I can, at home watching on TV.

And no wrecking ball can ever take the memories away. Those will stay with me forever, even as the building itself joins them in the realm of memory. So, Long Live the Spectrum. They can take the physical building away, but the memories will continue for all time.

I nearly didn't make it

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. It turns out I needed them.

I had surgery on Tuesday the 16th. Afterward, my family met up with me in the hospital room. After they left, I tried to watch the end of the Flyers game, but I started dozing before it was over.

Next thing I knew, the lights were all on and the room was wall-to-wall with all kinds of doctors talking loudly. They might as well have teleported into the room, for all I knew.

Seems I'd had more pain medication given to me in the recovery room than I was capable of handling. Fortunately, the nurse had a funny feeling and went in the room to check on me at about 10:30. I was completely unresponsive and my blood oxygen levels were dropping.

So she called the Rapid Response Team and they gave an antidote to the pain medication. Boy, did I wake up. Unfortunately, I woke up in all kinds of pain, as the pain med was counteracted. But at least I was breathing, a habit I've become rather fond of over the past 47 years or so. So there are some tradeoffs that are worth making.

The last thing on my mind before I fell asleep was among the first things I thought of on being revived: "Do you know the final score of the Flyers game? I fell asleep before it ended." That got a laugh out of the small army of medical personnel in the room. :-)

I got sent down to the Telemetry floor for a while, so they could monitor more vital signs than I ever knew existed. I felt like I was connected to half the equipment in the hospital. for a while there. But bit by bit, I gave them the test results they were looking for so they were able to gradually stop monitoring things and eventually send me back to my original floor.

All this adventure is partly why I came home on Sunday night instead of Thursday, as originally hoped. But the big thing is, I came home.

And I came home minus the fibroid that weighed 7.9 lbs and was about the size of a football. Win/win.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Here we go

Well, it's Tuesday the 16th, which means it's Go Time. I report later this morning to the hospital for surgery. If all goes well, I can expect to come home on Thursday or Friday.

Mark has the rest of the week off, so he'll be holding down the fort at home where the Fuzz Committee is concerned. Fortunately, Mini is doing MUCH better on her new medication, and I showed Mark tonight how I pill her: it involves hiding the pill in some cheese. A few OM NOM NOMs later, the dog's been medicated. :-)

Captain, Stanley, and Mini are ALL probably going to be hounding Mark for attention. He's going to have to learn to pet three critters while having only two hands. ;-)

I hope to have my cell phone with me at the hospital, so I hope to post an update from there.

Good night!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Poor Mini

What a dreadful past few days. Mini started exhibiting pain of some sort overnight on Tuesday. Even though she seemed herself on Wednesday morning, by the afternoon she was crying out in pain when she tried to lie down or get back up. I was having a hard time determining where the pain actually was, but I could tell she was in extreme discomfort.

I called the vet clinic that treated her a few days ago, but they don't have a vet in there on Wednesdays. I made an appointment for Thursday afternoon, their first available opening, and in the meantime started dosing her with the leftover extra Tramadol from her treatment on 10/30.

Long story short: Mini has some sort of degenerative disk issue in her neck, which small dogs are prone to having. What we're seeing is a flare of that condition. The vet upped Mini's Tramadol dose to 3x/day and gave me more pills.

There's an anti-inflammatory med that the vet hesitated to give me yesterday, even though it would work more quickly than the Tramadol to relieve the pain, because it's tough on the kidneys and Mini's kidney values are a bit suppressed as it is.

But after showing improvement yesterday, today my poor Munchkin Pup is having the worst difficulty yet. I had to feed her breakfast by hand, because she could barely bend her head to reach the food bowl.

There is no way I can go into the hospital in a few days with the dog in this condition. Poor Mark will have enough to do just taking care of the Critter Committee if they're all feeling well and in robust health. I can't have Mark sitting on the floor feeding the dog by hand twice a day on top of everything else.

So I have a call in to the vet. I want the anti-inflammatory for Mini. Unless it would be disastrous for her kidneys to take that med for a few days, I want to hit the "reset" button and get her back to normal ASAP so Mark only needs to worry about the normal feeding/walking regimen for her and the Royal Felines.

I can't stand to see her like this. :-( Poor little sweetheart.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Thank you, God!

Thank you, God! Mini's biopsy came back negative.

Ironically, the mass in her abdomen, like my fibroid, is a type of growth that's fueled by female hormones. So even though she's ten years old, with a mild heart murmur and slightly low kidney function, we're now looking at getting her spayed. We don't need this mass to grow back, which is a distinct possibility if she remains unspayed. I'm facing, shall we say, the human equivalent of said surgery in order to resolve the issue of the Rhode-Island-sized fibroid once and for all. (Though I get to keep my ovaries, in order to avoid surgical menopause.)

When I told the vet about my own impending surgery, she agreed that Mini's surgery can wait until I've recuperated from my own operation. So I'll be arranging for Mini's surgery in a few weeks, once I'm allowed to start resuming normal activity.

I can't even find the words to describe how relieved I am. I've about had my fill of waiting for biopsy results, after the past few months. Thank God everything's been benign, regardless of it's been me or Mini, but my nerves can't take much more of this.

They do say that people and their pets start to resemble one another. Apparently, my medical records and Mini's are having some things in common: arthritic knees and hormone-induced tissue growth that needs to be made to go away. Here's hoping that the NEXT thing our medical records share in common is successful surgery and complete recovery.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Cuteness

While walking Mini the Wee tonight, I encountered a little preschoo-aged girl and her dad. She asked the dog's name, and when I replied "Mini", she beamed. "THIS is Minnie, too!" and showed me her Minnie Mouse socks.

:-)

Mini the Wee. Ambassador of Cute for all ages.

More prayers needed

Mini update: they found some sort of mass in her abdomen, and sent a tissue sample to be biopsied.

I can't get away from that freaking word "biopsy" this year. Geesh. Well, here's hoping Mini's results are as benign as mine were. Results are expected back in 7-10 days (counting from Saturday), so we're in for another long week (to go with the one I spent waiting for MY results to come back).

Medical decisions will be made based on what the test shows. But as far as I'm concerned, in the worst case scenario, I'm perfectly willing to engage in palliative care for as long as quality time can be procured for her. Mini's loved not just by me, but all over the neighborhood where we walk, not to mention by my family and friends.

But what I REALLY want, of course, is to be able to give her a nice LONG happy retirement here with me. She's such a great little dog.

She, meanwhile, is her normal happy self: interested in everything, craving doting, bouncing off the walls with joy when I pick up the leash, eating voraciously. I can't see any symptoms of illness in her behavior or her demeanor at all. So that gives me hope that whatever's going on, it's not impacting her health at this time. Here's praying it's benign, so we can just get the heck rid of the mass and go on with life.

Geeze. What a freaking year this has been.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mini is in the hospital for surgery

Mini is at the medical clinic of the animal rescue organization I got her from, even as I type, having surgery on some kind of hernia.

At about 6 PM last night, I picked her up for a session of "Tickle Da Belly!", and noticed a small, flesh-colored, grape-sized eruption on her abdomen, near her utrethra. I had no idea what it was, so I called the vet clinic. I had to leave a voice mail in their "emergency" mailbox. I never heard back by midnight, so I called again. The emergency mailbox was full, so I left a message in their general mailbox. Still no call, by 10 AM today, so I called again and left another message in the emergency mailbox (which evidently had been cleared at some point today, since it was no longer full). In each case, I described the issue, asked for advice, and announced I wanted to bring the dog in, even if I couldn't get an appointment.

We brought her in at about noon. They took one look at her and knew surgery had to be the treatment. If there is a mass, they'll biopsy it. If it's a hernia, they will make sure that they clean up any necrotic tissue. I only wish someone had freaking called me back BEFORE I fed Mini breakfast, as that meant they couldn't do the surgery right away.

My poor little pup. Say some prayers that she comes through with flying colors, and the surgery will repair any and all problems. Thanks.

As it stands now, we're to return to the clinic at 6 or 6:30 to pick her up. I'm glad she won't have to stay overnight. She may be a tiny dog, but her presence is huge and the house is empty without her.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Christmas in October? WTH?

The mall is already decked out for Christmas, and it's only October 29! Come on, this is freaking ridiculous. Boughs of Holly should not be out before the we put the Jack O'Lanterns away.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Puzzles

Some of my meds can't be taken at the same time as others.

Every time I medicate, it's like solving the puzzle with of the farmer who has to transport a fox, hen, and bag of chicken feed across a river, in a rowboat that only has room for one of the items at any given time.

Outrage

Color me OUTRAGED.

My mom has shingles. It was diagnosed this afternoon. She got two prescriptions from her doctor: a small (5g) tube of ointment, and 21 pills.

Thank God, she has insurance. She had to pay $60 for the ointment and $10 for the pills. But if you get sticker shock from either of those numbers, then I invite you to drop your jaw in astonishment at what those meds would've cost a person WITHOUT medical insurance:

The full price of 5g of ointment is $871.89.
The full price of the 21 pills is $256.59.

Are the pharmaceutical companies INSANE? WTF is in those meds that could possibly justify their costing so much? I flat-out can't believe that there's any justification, other than blind greed, that could possibly explain those prices.

A person who has no medical insurance would have had to leave their shingles untreated. In the 21st Century in the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, people have to go without medical treatment. Why is the preceding sentence not a contradiction of terms? There's a scripture passage that says the crimes against widows and orphans cry out to God for justice... well, if pricing people who need care out of medical treatment doesn't fit that description, I have no idea what does.

Pharmaceutical companies should be ashamed of themselves. Greedy farging bastages.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Selling ad space NOW on the Spectrum? UNREAL. The building comes down next month.

Freaking unreal. The Spectrum closed a year ago. It's slated to start being demolished next month. But that doesn't stop the greedy Comca$tard$ from engaging in a money grab and selling ad space on the building in its dying weeks. The above ad banner was NOT there last Thursday.

Comca$t'$ only regret is probably that they didn't think of this sooner. They could've made a giant billboard out of the Spectrum for a whole year, instead of just a month.

Un. Freaking. Real.

Phillies balloons in AT&T (formerly Pattison Ave.) Station

Phillies balloons in the AT&T (formerly Pattison Ave.) Station

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Neil Little pic at The Franklin Institute

No Phantoms Phan's trip to the Franklin Institute would be complete without a visit to Neil Little's picture. :-) Bonus: Andy Delmore's gloves are on display, too.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Los Mineros de Chile!

Thanks to live TV, people around the world got to witness the miracle of the 33 Chilean miners being retrieved, one by one, from the collapsed mine where they have spent the past 68 (or 69, depending on the person) days. Thank God for answered prayers! It's miraculous to me that everyone from the mine actually survived the original accident, and then all 33 men lived for 17 days underground on next to no food before rescuers made first contact. Miraculous. Seriously.

As each miner was brought up by the Phoenix capsule, they were greeted with the chant, "Chi Chi Chi! Le Le Le! Los mineros de Chile!" I'm so happy that everyone made it back to the surface alive. Well, they're working on bringing up the last few rescuers who went down to assist with the retrieval process, and THEN everyone will be up. That's a lot of guardian angels who deserve a medal, in my book.

In other news, I had my sit-down session with the surgeon today. I absolutely will have to have surgery to remove the fibroid. Due to its size (comparable to a canteloupe), none of the easier, incision-free options are open to me. On the one hand, phooey, I don't want to need an incision or surgery. On the other hand, I'm glad that the problem is something that one surgery can fully resolve. I've sat in waiting rooms for several specialists this year, with people who WISH one surgery would've been enough to restore their health. So I can't gripe too much.

I can't say major surgery is "getting off easy", but I'm getting off more easily than some other patients out there. I have a tentative date for the surgery, though the scheduling office will have to call me to confirm it. It'll be an in-patient procedure; if I have the procedure on a Tuesday, I should be home by Thursday or Friday. Mark will have to take over the Critter Duties for a few days. That could make life interesting for him, as he's only got two hands but there are three pets who will all want doting. :-)

All I can say is, Watch This Space. Updates will come through on a timely basis.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Maestra needs SILENCE

OK, that does it. I am trying to do a modest free-lance-from-home task, which I expect to take two hours, and the freaking phones keep ringing.

So I used the computer phone to call the house line, so neither of them will ring. My cell phone is now in silent mode.

I WILL work without interruption until my task is completed.

From the "What The Heck Happened?" Department

From the "What The Heck Happened?" Department...

I was listening to the song "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" over the weekend. I couldn't help but notice some of the vocabulary choices in its lyrics. It uses words that well-read people would employ, like "chaffed" and "deride".

These days, the vocabulary in some popular songs is not only NOT comprised of choices that well-read people would use, but it's peppered with verbiage that's far too profane to ever see the light of day in this blog.

What the heck happened? :-(

Woo hoo, Phillies!

Nice work, Phillies, for sweeping the Reds and clinching the NLDS series! Next up, the NLCS series, with either the Giants or Braves. Meanwhile, the Flyers and Phantoms have both started their seasons. So life is good. :-)

In other news, I've been curtailing the making of plans for the time being. I know there's a surgery in the near future, but I don't know when. So the best bet will be not to commit to things, only to find out that I will be in the immediately-post-surgery phase of recuperation and not able to attend.

I have the first appointment with the surgeon at the crack of dawn on Wednesday, so I'll have a better idea of what's going on once I've peppered him with questions.

I have a feeling I'm going to be having a word with my regular doctor, though, in addition to the surgeon. I'm starting with the fatigue attacks again. I needed a nap this afternoon, which was fine at the time, but the end result involved not feeling tired when night rolled around. I'm finally getting sleepy (at 3 AM, sigh...), so I'm going to try to actually GET some sleep.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Save the Mummers and Mutts

Last Saturday, Mini had a great day. Mark and I took her to the First Annual "Save the Mummers and Mutts" fundraiser in a local park. I figured that it was raising money for two of my favorite causes: the Mummers and animal rescue. Now there's a win/win if I've ever heard of it! :-)

Lots of other people also brought THEIR dogs to the event. Mini was beside herself trying to decide whose nose to sniff first. I don't think her tail stopped wagging all afternoon.

I made a point of visiting the dog rescue tables and telling anyone who'd listen how great these adoption events are, that I met my own dog at an event just like it, and we couldn't be happier, etc. There were some people who were clearly considering starting the process of adopting some of the available dogs, which pleases me no end.

The only thing I'd tweak about the event would be to add cats, too. I know "Mummers and Mutts" has nice alliteration, but I'd like to see ALL pets in need of homes have a chance at being adopted. Too bad this isn't England, where the word "moggy" is in general use for mixed-breed cats. Then they could call it "Save the Mummers, Mutts, and Moggies" and keep the alliteration intact. ;-)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thank you, God!

I heard back from the doc about my blood test. It's negative for cancer, so THANK GOD for answered prayers!

In other words, the only thing I have facing me now is the surgery to remove the unwanted-content of a sizeable fibroid, nothing more. Surgery, recovery, DONE. Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I want THIS job.

OK, I found the job I want to apply for. This one, right here. I want to spend my day tickling capybaras, the Labrador-retriever-sized members of the rodent family, until they roll over for tum rubs. I'd be great at it. Really. Just ask my cats and my dog.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Heck!

Dangit. That ebay auction I mentioned yesterday was cancelled. So much for that.

I guess I'll have to keep watching ebay until a similar item comes up at a reasonable price. There's another one available right now, just like the one whose auction was just cancelled, but it's got a "Buy It Now" price that's way too high to suit my budget. I'll just keep waiting.

Little goals

Well, I've achieved the goal I set for myself as of a few posts ago. I tracked down all ten Flintstones episodes with The Great Gazoo in them online, and watched them all. WHAT in heck did we do before we had the Internet? Sit and stew and think about old TV shows that crossed our mind without having access to them, that's what. Heck, even the list of relevant episodes was something I had to look up online. No Internet would mean no knowing which episodes I'd want to view, never mind no viewing of the shows. I heart technology.

I even found a little Gazoo beanbag on ebay. I'd better win him. He looks like he needs a home with a fan. ;-) And did I mention that I wonder how we got along before the Internet became a resource?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Waiting

This is just a quick post to shout out for a few prayers and good thoughts to head my way. I took a blood test yesterday that I absolutely NEED to pass with a negative result. A positive result would be a very seriously bad diagnosis. So do send thoughts and prayers.

So frustrating. I thought I had a nice easy diagnosis (even if the treatment process wasn't going to be as easy as I'd originally hoped). But noooo, yesterday's specialist is not convinced that the more dire possibilities are completely ruled out by the tests that have been done already. So now my brain is back in limbo, wondering if in fact we have something seriously bad going on.

I hate this. I really want my health back, sooner rather than later. And I don't want diagnoses that turn out worse than anything I've already heard and acclimated to needing treatment for. I think those are perfectly fair requests.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Still lovin' that Internet :-)

So of course, having looked up the *first* episode where the Great Gazoo appeared on the Flintstones, I've also found, and am in the process of watching, the other nine.

Hey, understand, when I saw these episodes (in reruns on the old Channel 48), I was probably young enough to fall into the "unlike most adults, young children and animals can see Gazoo" category. Older fans of the Flintstones might have had issues with his arrival in the show's final season, but I was in kindergarten and I absolutely loved that character. Little bitty guy, flies, does magic, is my favorite color, kids can see him -- what's not to love? :-) Only later did I come to appreciate the fact that he's a misfit both on his own planet and on Earth... which generates the same sort of empathy in me that the Misfit Toys in Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer always have. (Yes, DO take note of the verb tenses in the previous sentence. They're not an accident.)

So I found a Japanese website that's got Flintstones episodes on it, I found a list of Gazoo's episodes on IMDB.com, and in my scattered instances of downtime, I'm watching them one by one.

IMDB rocks, by the way. I had no idea that Harvey Korman was Gazoo's voice, nor that Mel Blanc was the voice of Dino. Ah, the things we miss when we start watching a show when we're too young to pay any attention to the credits.

Anyway, off I go. The first of this week's two doctor's appointments awaits.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why I Love the Internet, Part 89546

On Saturday night/Sunday morning, I dreamed that I looked up the Flintstones episode where Fred and Barney meet The Great Gazoo. Of course, the dream version shared precious few details in common with the real thing, but a mainstay of the dream was the fact that I looked up the episode online and viewed it.

On waking, I remembered that I'd really liked the Gazoo character when I was small, and it occurred to me to wonder if the episode actually IS viewable online somewhere. If my post has piqued your curiosity, all I can say is, CLICK HERE and wonder no more! :-)

So THAT pretty much made my whole day. Now there's one other episode I'm curious about, so let's see if we can track that one down, also.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Drat.

Well, I heard back from the doc who reviewed my MRI. Unfortunately, the less-invasive procedure that I'd hoped to undergo, which has a two-week recovery time, is not an option for me after all. Instead, I'm looking at a surgery and an 8-week recovery period.

Phooey. That's quite a disappointment, needless to say. But what can I do besides allow myself a little bit of grumblng, and then move forward and deal with it?

And yeah, I'm going to grumble a bit. But not TOO much... there are a lot of people who will get far worse news from their doctors than this, and I'm sure they'd all gladly trade places with me this morning. So I haven't lost my sense of perspective. We do have the right to spend at least a little time acknowledging our disappointment with a bit of griping. But I won't wallow in those feelings, as they're counter-productive, and I'm not going to take it out on Mark and the pets. We don't have the right to make the rest of the world miserable along with us.

Still... DRAT. :-( Why does Mother Nature have to be so darn uncooperative sometimes?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Seen on my dog walk. I miss the Spectrum. And the Phantoms.

Seen on my dog walk. I still miss the Spectrum. And the Phantoms.

Bikes are VEHICLES

Dear [Civic Association I belong to],

There is a wonderful walking path on X Street between Y and Z Streets. I, like many residents, walk my dog there frequently. (And I, like MOST but sadly, not ALL dog walkers, pick up after my pet. The lazy few who think it's OK to leave cleanup duties to the Caca Fairy are the rant fodder for another day.)

My dog loves the walking path. Sometimes, she can't decide which side she wants to walk on, left or right, so she runs back and forth between the two as we walk.

And therein lies the problem. Because along with the people who walk, jog, and take their pets on the WALKING path, we are competing with BICYCLES. More than once, I have been nearly run down from behind as I follow my dog from left to right and back again. I do my best to stay behind the dog at all times, specifically *because* of the bikes that could come speeding up from behind at any moment. My dog weighs only 6 pounds, so I'd rather a bike hit me than hurt (or worse) my dog. But better still would be if we were free from the concern of being struck by a bike while utilizing the walking path.

Bicycles are vehicles that belong IN THE STREET. I should not have to be taking preventative measures to protect my dog from them while we are walking ON THE SIDEWALK. I finally had my "this is the last straw" moment last night after one too many near-misses, so I am writing to you.

Along with the existing signage urging people to pick up after their pets, we need signage instructing bicyclists to ride in the street, not on the sidewalk. And then, even better, I would love to see the police enforce both rules. With the number of infractions I regularly witness, we could collect enough fines to wipe out the city budget deficit.

I am not anti-bicycle. But I am anti-dodging-vehicles-on-sidewalks. Something can, and must, be done.

[Gabey8]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Alphabet Soup

The MD who, I hope, will confirm my candidacy for a UFE procedure needed the CD with my MRI images. I brought my copy of the CD to his office, only to find that they'd called the MRI place and had their own copy of the CD sent to them.

Is that enough sets of initials for you? E-I-E-I-O.

There's a sporting goods store across the street from the doc's office, so I went to kill some time in there. Which is how I discovered that HOORAY, quad skates are back in vogue! I liked a pair that had a white shoe, white wheels, and a white "stopper" on the front. Until, that is, I noticed that the skates with exactly the same shoe, but pink wheels and stopper cost $20 less. So my new pink-wheeled skates and I will be finding ways to reach that 30-minute daily exercise, to allow for some variety between walking the treadmill and walking the dog.

And those minutes of exercise, plus the calorie limit, are working. Since July 1, I have now lost 16 lbs. I have more work to do, certainly, but I'm glad to have made measurable progress.

We'll see what impact it's had on my bloodwork numbers, as my fasting bloodwork was this morning. Thank goodness THAT'S over with. That test, with its accompanying urinalysis sample, is a pain. File it under "necessary evil".

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine Years Ago Today


On the 5th anniversary of 9/11/01, I posted the story of where I was when I heard the news, and what the day was like for me and the people around me. I took it from the content of older posts on a message board, posts that were written right on the day itself, so I know that they're not memories that were colored or changed by the passage of time.

Here is the post. It's LONG. But on this date every year, I feel like it's something I need to say. It's my way of ensuring that we Never Forget.

Another found cell phone

A few years ago, Mark and I both found cell phones on the ground, within a few days of each other. In that instance, the phone Mark found was easily returned to its owner, who lived not far from here. I turned the phone I found in to the security guard, at the hotel which was mere feet away from where I found it.

Well, after a few years' hiatus, we're at it again. I found a cell phone this morning while I was walking the dog. The phone I found today might be a tad more challenging to return to its owner. Its battery was nearly dead when I found it, and I haven't got a Motorola charger. I did manage to get calls out to a couple of people on the contacts list, from my own phone, before the battery died completely. However, I either got voice mail, or in one case a person who had no idea could have lost the phone from the description I gave them.

I couldn't use the phone to actually dial my own number, because I got "restricted service" errors. My guess is that it's a non-local person, a contractor from the look of the phone (white paint on it), who is in Philly for a work-related or personal reason.

I sure am glad I used my phone to call those individuals on the contacts list, however. Now that the found phone won't even stay on for more than a few moments, due to its weak battery, the only access to its contacts list that I have is the record of outgoing calls on my cell phone.

The only thing I can do is hope that someone has a clue whose phone this is. There's not a Boost Mobile facility anywhere near my neighborhood, so I can't easily hop on over to there and say, "This phone belongs to one of your customers. Please track down its owner and send it back to him/her."

Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Focus On The Big Picture

Tonight, I was walking my dog along a pathway that a lot of people in my neighborhood use. She happened on the scent of another dog that had recently passed. She loves other dogs, so she stopped to sniff along the path and the grass, as if she wanted to track down the other dog and meet it.

She sniffed avidly for several seconds, making her way slowly along the path as she tried to get every last detail of that scent trail. Meanwhile, I turned my gaze farther along the path and saw... the actual DOG that had left the scent trail, walking along with two ladies and a small child.

"Mini! Let's go! I see the other doggie!" I tried to get her attention and urge her to start walking again. But she was reluctant to leave that fresh scent trail. She just KNEW that dog had to be close by. She did, unwillingly, come along with me, though we stopped several times along the way so she could sniff more of the other dog's scent.

Finally, we did actually meet up with the other doggie, and they got to greet each other. But we'd have caught up with him sooner if we hadn't stopped repeatedly to examine the scent he left on the ground.

The lesson here is, sometimes when we focus ONLY on the details, we miss something *really* important, something that's visible when we pay attention to the Big Picture. So while paying attention to individual details, don't forget to step back now and then to examine the whole situation. Sometimes the whole really is more than the sum of its parts.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Overwhelming response

There was an "overwhelming response", according to the doggy day care center, for the job that I applied for. So much so that they can't respond individually to applicants.

It's a reflection of the economy that the main function of said job is cleaning up canine intestinal output. The other half of the title is "assistant dog handler", so which I interpret as helping to enrich the pets' stay at said day care via play and interaction, but STILL. An overwhelming response of people applying to pick up dog doo... it boggles the mind

I'm hoping they decide that my pet experience and proximity to said job (same ZIP code, even), plus what my references have to say, will put me on the fast track. Heck, let me interact with the dogs; that ought to seal the deal.

What the hey. I pick up dog output daily, for free. I might as well do it and get paid for my time. I wonder if they'd let me bring Mini in to help interact with the critters? That'd be fun for her AND them.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

MRIs and Karma

I had a visit from Karma this afternoon. It was my own fault. See, last night, I saw a link on YouTube that showed a guy who danced his way into traffic and got hit by an ice cream truck.

Naughty me. I laughed. See Gabey. See Gabey go to Purgatory. But it looked like something straight out of a slapstick movie. I couldn't help it.

Fast-forward to this afternoon. I had an MRI done of my abdomen today. That should have taken 30 minutes, but in this case it took extra time. The fibroid is the size of Rhode freaking Island, and it took extra time to image it all.

As you'll know if you've had an MRI, it's important to remain completely still during the imaging process. Thou Shalt Not Move while the machine is running. As you'll also know if you've had the procedure done, your mild will wander during the enforced downtime.

Well, didn't my mind wander right back to the video clip I saw last night? I nearly freaking hurt myself while trying to suppress the ensuing giggle fit so my abdomen wouldn't move. See, that's what I get. Serves me right for laughing at the guy.

So the moral of the story is, people getting hit by ice cream trucks are not funny. No matter how funny they are, they're not funny, and if you laugh at them you'll have your dose of Karma before long. Learn from my experience. ;-)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cilantro blues

I just saw an ad for a taco that highlights cilantro as one of its main ingredients.

Too bad I'm among the 10% of people for whom cilantro tastes like SOAP. I guess I won't be trying that menu item. Too bad -- it looked good.

I'm a little disturbed by the culinary trend to add cilantro into everything that's not moving. It's one thing to either dodge or put up with cilantro in Mexican cuisine. That's expected, and there are enough other flavors in Mexican cuisine to drown out or mitigate the soap flavor.

But now it seems that every other restaurant has decided that cilantro is their new toy, and they're sneaking it into every farging thing they can. So now I have to read every ingredient on every menu before I place an order, and even then sometimes I get caught in a cilantro sneak attack.

Hint to restaurant owners: uncooked cilantro is way more soapy flavored, so think twice before mixing it into salads.

I wish someone would develop a strain of cilantro plants without the soapy tendencies, so everyone could enjoy the herb. It must taste pretty good to the people who don't detect the soapy factor, since every time I turn around, someone's adding it to something else.

Even so, I wish that chefs would reconsider their tendency to think that everything, everywhere is improved by cilantro, because trust me, for many people in the world, IT'S NOT improved at all.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I sense a theme here

Hmm. I am trying AOL Radio's 60s channel, and the song Green, Green Grass of Home by Tom Jones came on. It's a song about a man on death row, in his final hours prior to execution. Minutes later, we heard Gotta Get a Message to You, by the Bee Gees. It's about, you guessed it, a man whose execution will take place in an hour.

Hmm. I sense a theme here.

Fun with Mother Nature



I'd forgotten I took this photograph. This was from my camera phone; there's no alteration of the picture whatsoever. It happens to be a very reflective building combined with an unusual weather pattern of dark clouds to the north, blue sky and white fluffy clouds to the south.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Project...

Bit by bit, jewelrymaking supplies I ordered are coming in. I'm all happy. These are the kinds of thing that keep me off the streets and out of trouble. ;-)

The MRI people actually did return my call. Sadly, my cell phone rebooted itself(?!) when I went to answer the call, so they got shunted to my voice mail. Grrr... but now I know for sure that they close at 4, so I will place my return call accordingly.

MRI

I found an MRI location within easy walking distance of my house. WIN. There's nothing so annoying as trying unsuccessfully to find a parking spot when you have an appointment. I figured I'd call them and make an appointment, so I can just walk to and from the MRI.

Yeah, good luck with that. I tried calling them around 4:30 PM and they were closed. They must have early hours. If they don't call back early on Wednesday, I'll definitely call them at 4 PM or earlier next time I try to get in touch.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Telecommuting?

Once again, I've been looking through the local Craigslist job boards. I specified "telecommute", and once again discovered that there are people who are absolutely incompetent when it comes to composing their job ad.

Just look at some of the positions that have the "telecommute" flag set to yes:

NANNY... what am I supposed to do? Keep the kid(s) on the phone all day while their parents are at work?

MAINTENANCE -- BUILDING AND GROUNDS: yeah, I'd just LOVE to do that job from home, by phone. That way, I won't have to deal with the bad weather like heat, cold, and snow.

AUTO TECH/MECHANIC -- What are they going to do, hook the car up to the internet so I can log in from home and fix it?

HOME INSPECTION CONSULTANT -- I think the only home I can inspect, via telecommuting, is MINE.

Sigh. I get my hopes up when I do this kind of search and see tons of listings, only to be disappointed when I realize that a large portion of the so-called telecommuting jobs are anything but. I guess I should look at the bright side. These companies have proclaimed, for all the internet to see, that their staff don't proofread their work. Maybe that is, or should be, a red flag to anyone who's considering working there.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

ARGH on distracted drivers!

As I pulled into a parking space to go to the gym, I couldn't help but notice the driver in the parked car in front of me. She got into her car, flipped open a paper-thin cell phone, placed a call, scrunched the phone between her shoulder and her ear, and started talking. In this cramped position, she backed out of her parking place while turning the car, talking the entire time.

GOOD GRIEF, lady, GET BLUETOOTH. How the bleep could anyone see their rear view mirror to back up and turn safely, while their ear is plastered to their shoulder?

Or how's this for an even BETTER idea: place the call and *don't move the freaking car* until the call is over? You're not the CEO of a billion-dollar corporation. Your time isn't THAT valuable that you need to attempt to save two minutes and start driving before the phone call is finished. And if your time WAS that valuable, you'd be able to afford a chauffeur and *never* talk while driving.

:facepalm:

Fortunately, there were no pedestrians around to be endangered by all this. A while back, a similarly distracted guy in an SUV nearly ran me over while trying to combine talking on his cell phone, backing out of a parking spot, and turning.

I repeat, GET BLUETOOTH. Or, better yet, just don't start the freaking car until the call is over. Problem avoided.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Now THAT was a Legend!

A couple of weeks ago, I happened on a magazine at the checkout counter at the CVS which caused me to do a double-take. Its title was, "Justin Bieber: The Making of a Music Legend".

Now, with all due respect to young Mr. Bieber, I took issue with the concept that anyone who's 16 years of age could possibly have been performing long enough to have earned the appellation "legend". In my book, an actual LEGEND is someone who's been performing, at an exceptionally high level, at least long enough for someone born at the start of their career to have grown to adulthood. So forgive me, but applying the term "legend" to someone who hasn't even been BREATHING long enough to reach adulthood himself is, to put it mildly, premature.

Which leads me into how Mark and I spent Saturday evening. The *truly* legendary Paul McCartney played at the newly-rechristened Wells Fargo Center (formerly known as the Wachovia, First Union, and Corestates Center). First of all, the man is BRILLIANT. Second of all, his staying power is such that the fans from the start of HIS career have got ADULT children of their own. Third, he's got a repertoire that dwarfs that of any non-legend. I'm pleased to report that his voice has held up admirably for all these decades. He's a phenomenal showman, his singing was excellent, and he not only sang but played an instrument on every single song of a VERY long concert. And when I say "instrument", I mean any one of several including bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, ukulele(!), grand piano, and upright piano. I remember reading once that Paul had an innate talent to master just about any instrument he laid hands on, but on Saturday I saw this talent put on display firsthand.

All in all, it was an absolutely outstanding concert, and even though it lasted over three hours, it only covered a fraction of his hits. I wished it could have just kept going and going.

I was especially pleased to see the wide age range of the concertgoers. Along with the people who were clearly old enough to have been fans since the 60s, there were people who were certainly too young to drink and possibly were too young to obtain a learner's permit. It doesn't surprise me that McCartney has such a broad appeal, however, as the mark of truly good music is how well it stands the test of time. Fads will fizzle out; excellence will sound just as wonderful regardless of how many years ago it was released.

And THAT, my friends, is the REAL definition of "Legend". Paul McCartney most definitely fits that bill.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dear Sir Paul: We're not worthy!

Dear Sir Paul: We're not worthy!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Pre-Paul McCartney

Awaiting Sir Paul McCartney. I believe this is the first event at the newly-rechristened Wells Fargo Center.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Mr. Softee

On Saturday, we had a group trip to Marsh Creek State Park's pool. It's the first pool I've ever seen that's got a wheelchair ramp in it. We can wheel Joe right into the pool with the chair. That's important, since his condition has deteriorated to the point where it's hard, if not impossible, for him to get in any other way anymore.

Anyway, we had Joe and Jean, Karla and Al, Joe P. and his niece, and Mark and me. Thanks to a conversation that Karla, Al, and I had during the afternoon, during which I mentioned being unable to find the Mr. Softee theme music online, Al sent me a couple of links where all or part of the song resided. Finally, someone put the song online! I've been looking for it off and on for the past few years, and as of last year, it wasn't anywhere to be found.

In any event, I set the Mr. Softee music as the ringtone on my cell phone. (For those who aren't from the Philly area, that's a chain of ice cream trucks that definitely can be found in PA and NJ, and I'm told at least some of NY state as well.)

Mark and I then took Mini to the classic car show on Passyunk Avenue, and I promptly forgot that my ringtone was changed. So I missed a call, no doubt thinking that the music I was hearing was an ice cream truck in the distance rather than my cell phone. On discovering that my dad's call had gone to my voicemail without my answering the phone, I resolved to pay better attention and reach for the phone the next time I heard Mr. Softee music.

Which, shortly thereafter, I had the opportunity to do. On hearing those first few notes, I quickly retrieved the phone from my pocket and tried to answer the call. Nothing. The music continued playing. I wondered what was wrong... until I realized that this time, it actually WAS the sound of an ice cream truck at the other end of the block.

GRRRR. Maybe I should've waited until WINTER to put this song on my phone. ;-)

Ouch

This is what it looks like when a HDD has only 4% free space and is fragmented all to H*ll.

I'm trying to speed up a friend's machine, but Defrag won't complete without errors. Argh.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Great timing

I'm watching After Armageddon on the History International channel. It purports to show how humanity would fare if a global pandemic decimated the population. They actually are showing, during some commercial breaks, a disclaimer that this is not an actual emergency. Presumably, that's to prevent another War of the Worlds panic from occurring.

Comcast, in its infinite wisdom, just interrupted this program with emergency test tones. It was their weekly required test of the EBS, but their timing was absolutely exquisite. LOLOL.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Biased questions? No thanks.

Today, I declined to be a part of some political poll or other. Since the caller never identified whose campaign or cause they actually were, I can't tell just who it is that's trying to doctor data.

The call began like this:

"This is not a sales call. Senator ____ is planning to vote for a bill that would raise taxes on US oil and gas companies. Are you in favor of this?"

I said, "I'm sorry, I can't give my opinion based on only one sentence of information about the bill."

She went on, "This bill would raise taxes on US oil and gas companies, making it hard for them to compete at home and abroad. Are you in favor of this?"

Now, it should be patently obvious to anyone with the IQ of an end table that they're trying to skew as many answers as possible to be NO. They are hoping to make this bill sound like it's the worst possible legislation that Senator ____ could ever support. They want people to hear "raise taxes" and answer NO, we do not favor this. Or they want us to hear only "raise taxes" and "hard to compete at home and abroad" and answer NO, we do not approve of this bill.

Then they can spin it to show that the American public is against this bill and/or Senator ____'s representation of his constituents.

I wasn't going to play along. I told them I'm sorry, but I can't take part in a survey, as I work from home and need to keep the line clear. (Both true.) End of conversation.

No way on earth am I going to give my opinion of this bill, based solely on the content of BLATANTLY biased questions. I still have no clue which bill this is (meaning I can't look it up and form my opinion based on actual information) or what political group it was that called me. It could be anything from oil/gas company lobbyists to Senator ____'s opponent in the next election. Either way, I'm not playing their game.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mini the D-pet pwns Captain, Round 2

It's been about ten weeks since Mini the Chihuahua came to live with us, and the Resident Pair of Cats (TM) still give her stares like she's something from Mars. They get along with her, for the most part, but they still appear to be trying to figure out what in heck she IS.

Captain and Stanley, both cats who are firmly committed to staying in the In, like to sniff Mini when we come back from a walk in the Out. Or at least, Captain USED to like sniffing Mini until a few weeks ago, when we returned from a walk in the rain. Mini shook herself dry, right in Captain's face, and he ran away from the water-emitting Martian that just sprayed droplets all over him.

It's taken him the better part of a month to gradually start approaching the dog after walks again. I fear that tonight, we suffered a setback.

See, there was Captain, bravely standing nose-to-nose with Mini, immediately after we came in the door. The Martian promptly sneezed, loudly and vigorously, right in his face. Captain beat a hasty retreat to the far end of the first floor.

Poor Captain. He just can't win.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Owie.

Man, I'm falling the heck apart. I picked up a new knee brace for use when I'm on the treadmill, since I occasionally get zapped by kneecap pain while I'm walking and that's never good.

And I finally gave up on waiting for my right thumb to stop killing me, and bought a thumb splint. I've had my thumb immobilized for about 8 hours and the pain is only just starting to subside. Sheesh... trigger fingers, thumb pain... fanabla. Middle age is doing its best to be aggravating.

Friday, July 16, 2010

STUPID Criminal Tricks. LOL

BWAHAHA... Here's the latest entry for the Stupid Criminal Tricks file.


Man posts bail with counterfeit bills

Most people post bail to stay out of jail.

Not to risk a lot more time there.

According to Cinnaminson Police, a Camden man included counterfeit $20 bills while paying his $400 bail on July 7.

Lousy counterfeit $20s.

Run off on a color copier, apparently.

"They're pretty poor. I didn't have to touch them and I knew they were bad," said Detective Sgt. William K. Covert.

They were almost as obvious as the copies of $1 bills he's seen created by students trying to fool soda machines.

The paper didn't feel right. It lacked the colored threads. And Andrew Jackson's face was kind of fuzzy.

Ronald White, 35, was arrested for several counts of shoplifting from a Burlington Coat Factory and Shop-Rite on Route 130.

He had $900 in cash on him, not all of it counterfeit.

Cash is accepted at both stores.

Police also discovered he had outstanding warrants from Camden that required $400 for bail.

So, while the shoplifting charges were being processed, White paid the bail.

The next day, Covert discovered that five of the $20 bills were funny money.

Very phony funny money.

No way these bills would ever pass the pen test, where a special marker is dragged across.

Some forgers bleach $5 bills, then reprint them with images from $100 bills, hoping to fool the pen test, Covert said.

Holding such bills up to a light quickly reveals they're fake.

A complaint was signed against White for forgery.

But before police found him, he found police.

On Monday, White turned up at the Cinnaminson Police station, saying he overpaid for the bail and wanted his money back.

In his possession were two more bogus $20 bills, police said.

Today, he was still in Burlington County Jail, in lieu of paying $5,000 cash bail.

"One of my favorite sayings is, you can't teach stupid, because every day something else comes up and you just shake your head," Covert said.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

F.D.A. Panel to Vote on Whether Avandia Should Stay on Market - NYTimes.com

I first saw the news about the FDA's discussion on whether to restrict Avandia, a diabetes drug, because of the dangerous side effects it can cause, yesterday when I was on the treadmill. One of the TVs at the gym showed a news report on the subject. Though I couldn't hear the audio of the TV report without plugging earphones into the attachment on the treadmill, there were enough printed "headlines" on the screen to give me the gist of the report. Today, I saw this article about Avandia, and the FDA's possible decision to restrict its sale or even withdraw it from the market, in the New York Times.

That made me all the more determined to stick with the new calorie count/exercise daily regimen. If diabetes is preventable in my case, then I'm darn well going to bust my tail preventing it, and if it isn't, then you can bet your bottom dollar that I won't go down without a battle.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mini and Paco

We have several other families on our block with dogs. One in particular is at the other end of the block, and they have a Chihuahua named Paco. He just turned 4 and he is a bit smaller than Mini. He's also all kinds of cute and, like Mini, loves other dogs.

Mini and I encountered him and his Paw during tonight's walk. Not only was Mini all happy to see Paco, she started to get friskier than I've ever seen her since her arrival. She started bouncing around like a puppy and even did several "play bows". I was floored. It's the first time I've seen her invite another dog to play.

She really is starting to come out of her shell, the longer she's here. :-) I guess the more confident she becomes that she's not going to have another upheaval, and the farther in the past her still-recent huge life changes are, the more her real personality shines through. And even more than before, she is deserving of the nickname "6 lbs. of Happy".

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nook, the sequel

I just had a look at the MobileRead Forums. Turns out that the first run of nook ereaders, to which mine apparently belongs, was made with plastic that's prone to this problem. But there's a design tweak in later production runs of the device that's intended to prevent this problem from recurring. Good. I'll get to see what that change entails in 3-5 business days. :-)

Nook

I had to call Barnes and Noble's customer service today. I noticed a crack developing on the frame of my nook ebook reader, right where one of the page-advance buttons is located.

As it happens, I was in the vicinity of a B&N store in Willow Grove this afternoon, so I stopped by there and asked for advice at their nook counter. They gave me the (800)THE-BOOK phone number to call, which I did. There's no question that my nook is within the 1-year warranty period, as the devices haven't even been on the market for a year.

I've got my RMA number and instructions for exchanging the machines, and the replacement device is on its way.

Here's hoping that they figure out how to overcome this particular design flaw. The replacement device might not be any different than the one I'm sending back, in which case I hope two things: 1. that the one-year warranty time period resets itself upon my receiving the new device, and 2. if this happens to me again, which is a distinct possibility as I'm an avid user of the device, the NEXT replacement machine will have whatever fix is required to prevent this particular form of wear-and-tear.

I picked up a pamphlet at the nook counter that appears to be about some sort of parts and protection plan. That might turn out to be an investment that's worth making. Ah, the joys of being among the early owners of a gadget.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Great week

Mini's had a grand couple of days. We took her with us to Stone Harbor yesterday. The Flyers prospects were taking part in their annual Trial on the Isle there, as well as having an autograph signing in the afternoon and a softball game for charity after that. Let me tell you how much Mini LOVED all the attention she got! We brought the doggie stroller to give her a place to rest and be out of the sun as needed, but when she was out of the stroller there was a steady stream of people who wanted to fuss over her. So she was one tired, happy doggie by the time the day was over!

Now tonight, Mark and I walked down to a vantage point where we could see the post-Phillies-game fireworks. Mini came with us. Again, she loved it. Any place where Mom and Dad are is a great place, as far as she's concerned. Fireworks? Noise? Flashing glittery things in the sky? She didn't care.

Except at the very end, when Mini made me wonder just how much English she actually understands. When the grand finale was over, Mark applauded. I was holding Mini, so I couldn't clap, but I did say, "Yaaaay! Say yay, Mini." And Mini responded with one small "Wuf!" :-)

So the pyrotechnics display met with Mini's approval. You saw it here first.

Now she's zonked on my lap. Occasionally, she makes tiny snore noises. She's one tired little furball after the past couple of days.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I wanna tickle the KITTY TUM!

Captain puts his Tum Fuzz on display for the world to see and dote upon.

Critterfest

Don't look now, but there's a critterfest in the hallway. :-)

Oh no

There's breaking news that a "Duck" boat collided with a barge, capsized and sank. Two passengers are missing. I'm watching the TV even as I type and they're showing the video of people being brought to ERs.

This really rots. Thoughts and prayers to all involved, accident victims and searchers alike.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Next day aches

Wow, is my knee sore after all that treadmill yesterday.

Knee, meet naproxen and more treadmill today. I don't care WHAT gets sore, I won't be put off this new regimen. Any time I get tempted to slack off, all I'll have to do is remember what my Grandmom went through with diabetes. Rest assured, that's definitely enough to spur my behind right back into action.

In other news, it's supposed to break the 100 degree mark today. I walked the dog a little while ago and let me tell you, we might already be at that point. GOOD GRIEF. I'd light a candle to thank God for the invention of air conditioning, but it's too hot to light candles. ;-) It's beastly out there.

I'm down to the final 100 pages of War and Peace, so I'm expecting to finish the book today. I'm going to miss these characters after being "with" them for so long. I know a lot of my friends and family are readers, particularly the ones who visit here, so let me recommend tackling War and Peace. Think of it as a TV Season or two (or three)'s worth of following a cast of characters.

Flyers Prospect Camp will be going on this week. Good. I could use the diversion of a dose of summer hockey.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Emulation

Mark has a "lifetime" membership to a particular gym chain that is within walking distance of the house where he grew up. They don't offer such memberships anymore, but they used to. With his membership, he no longer has to pay a monthly fee, and he can avail himself of any franchise in that chain, including one near our home.

I, meanwhile, have reinstated my membership in a relatively new (and quite reasonably-priced) gym chain that opened near our home within the past few years. I'm not sure what it would have cost for me to join Mark's gym, but it's sure to be more than the cost of this place. And it would be silly for Mark to join my gym when he already belongs to a different one.

Which is my lead-in to my good news. Mark had today off, for the July 4 holiday. I went to my gym for my treadmill walk, and came home to find that Mark was out. Where was he? At HIS gym.

GOOD. Because both of us have got some fixing to do as far as our family doc is concerned. I think I already mentioned that I'm motivated to follow the doc's instructions for keeping my pancreas in working order for as long as humanly possible. Mark, meanwhile, has been working with the doc to get his BP numbers back where they belong. So we both have good reasons to renew acquaintances with the friendly neighborhood treadmill.

Here's to a nice, "Hello, gym; goodbye, evil numbers" result for both of us.

Friday, July 02, 2010

SS United States

Last night, Mark, Mini, and I went to the lighting of the SS United States. In honor of her maiden voyage, and of a BIG donation given to assist with her purchase and maintenance, they illuminated the lights on the bridge and deck, as well as floodlights that shone on the smokestacks.

The SS United States Conservancy also showed a film, SS United States: Lady in Waiting. When we went to the tent where the film was about to be screened, in search of any possible pamphlets about the effort to restore the ship to its former grandeur, we found no pamphlets but we did encounter several Conservancy members that flipped head over heels for Mini. :-) Yep, 6 Lbs of "Make New Friends": that's Mini all over.

Here's the article about the donation: Lenfest gives millions to save SS United States.

Lenfest gives millions to save SS United States

By Jeff Gammage

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest will donate up to $5.8 million to help save the SS United States, the storied ocean liner that's to be celebrated at a riverfront ceremony tonight, officials said.

The funds will be used to buy the ship from its owner, Norwegian Cruise Line, a subsidiary of Genting Hong Kong, and to maintain the vessel in its current South Philadelphia berth for up to 20 months. During that time, redevelopment and refurbishment plans will be completed.

The news was announced by the Washington-based SS United States Conservancy, which has worked for years to promote the ship and prevent its destruction. The group called Lenfest's donation "a major development in the effort to save the legendary American ocean liner."

The group wants to turn the ship into a historic attraction, permanently set on the waterfront of a major city.

The Lenfest donation has enabled the conservancy to enter into an exclusive purchase-option agreement with Norwegian, officials said.

"This is a game-changer in our work to save this irreplaceable American icon," said conservancy board President Susan Gibbs, granddaughter of the ship's designer, William Francis Gibbs. "Mr. Lenfest's vision and generosity give us a fighting chance to preserve the SS United States for generations to come."

She credited the ship's owners, who "turned down higher offers to partner with us in this patriotic effort."

The SS United States still holds the trans-Atlantic speed record, set 58 years ago on her maiden voyage from New York to England. The ship transported four men who were or who became U.S. presidents, along with countless heads of state, military, and business leaders. It also brought immigrants to these shores.

The ship has had numerous owners since being removed from service in 1969. Earlier this year, Norwegian began accepting bids from scrap firms, bringing new urgency to preservation advocates.

Lenfest has been interested in the project. Last year, he pledged $300,000 toward the purchase of the ship.

"Having established a relationship with the conservancy in 2009, Gerry Lenfest literally swept in at the 11th hour to save this national treasure," said Dan McSweeney, executive director of the organization. "Mr. Lenfest understands this ship is a symbol of American preeminence in the 20th century. She can also become a part of America's future promise, potentially creating thousands of jobs during and after refurbishment."

The conservancy holds the purchase option until February 2011. Once title is transferred, the Lenfest donation provides the conservancy with 20 months to begin development. The group wants to establish a public-private partnership to own and operate the ship.

"We are reaching out to potential partners in Philadelphia, New York, and beyond," Gibbs said. "The ship offers some 550,000 square feet of space to develop, and her interiors can be configured in a variety of ways."

Plans could include retail stores, restaurants, museums and entertainment venues.

News of Lenfest's donation is to be formally announced tonight, when the ship is lit during a ceremony on the Delaware River. People can gather at the IKEA store on Columbus Boulevard, across from the ship's berth at Pier 82. The 7 p.m. event, during which the funnels, bridge, radar mast and running lights will be lit, honors the 58th anniversary of the ship's maiden voyage.

"We are not out of the woods yet," McSweeney said. "Mr. Lenfest's donation has allowed us to triage the SS United States. Now comes the very challenging work of solidifying plans in New York or Philadelphia and that will take significant capital. . . . This is very far from the end of the story."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wind Damage II

Oh. My. G*D. I just saw our late friend Marie's house, which is around the corner from where Joey D lives. We were driving Joey home tonight and he described for us what kind of wind damage was done in front of Marie's house, but it had to be seen to be believed. First of all, the enormous tree that had been in in front of her house is completely down, and blocking access to the front of the house. Mind you, houses on that street have a lawn in front and are set WAY back from the curb, so for an obstacle that starts at the curb to be able to block that much area, that's one very large obstacle. It was a VERY large tree. Second, half of the equally huge tree belonging to the next-door neighbor also came down. Just the half-tree alone would have been a formidable amount of wreckage to deal with, never mind the grand total of debris on Marie's (and both her neighbors') properties.

Wow. OMG. My mind is boggled. All I can say is that if both the passing of Marie, who was 98 when she passed away, and all this damage both had to happen, then I'm glad the damage happened when she was no longer here to see it. She would have had an absolute nervous breakdown if this had happened while she was there.

Meanwhile, even as I type, PECO is trying its darnedest to replace a displaced wooden light pole that came down. We didn't lose electric during the storm (as far as I know -- I wasn't home until it was over), but the area around 20th and Snyder can't say the same.

And I'm glad that we walked mini in the park around Stephen Girard's mansion last weekend, when everything was still standing. Turns out that was my first and last trip there with the park entirely intact (and shaded... sigh), because there are multiple trees down there, too.

And Moyamensing Avenue, of which I posted pictures shortly after the storm, looks WORSE instead of better. All the downed trees and limbs are now piled in the grass strips that line the middle of the street. With everything gathered all together like that, it appears there's even MORE debris than I originally thought.

Just wow. I can sincerely say that I've never, ever seen this much damage from any weather event in my lifetime, and I know I've only seen a small fraction of it.

Thank God we don't get weather like this on a regular basis. I feel even sorrier than I did before for people who have to put up with hurricanes on a semi-regular basis. I can't imagine hours on end of wind even worse than what came through here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Note Stanley's upside-downy head! :-)

Mini and Stanley... Note the upside-downy head on Mr. Stan. :-)

Mini and Stanley

Stanley is fine with letting Mini lie down making contact with him. :-)

Penrose Diner

Well, CRUD. The megastorm appears to have cost South Philly a landmark. It appears that the top of the Penrose Restaurant sign, the part that showed a chef with the word "Penrose", has had to be removed. Now the top of what's left of the sign says "Restaurant".

CRUD, for multiple reasons. First of all, the sign has been a landmark for eons.

Second of all, I thought the sign looked somewhat twisted following the storm, which is one reason why I wondered aloud and in print about the possibility that we had a tornado, not straight-line winds. I specifically wanted to get a good look at the sign in tomorrow's daylight. Instead, tonight I saw the same cherrypicker that was in my picture of the sign earlier tonight, hauling what appeared to be the top of the sign toward the dumpster beside the restaurant.

But it was a hard to really see what was going on at the distance from which I was observing, and no way was I going to walk all the way over there at this ridiculous hour of the AM just to get a better look. I'll have to investigate in the morning, camera in hand. If the removed section of the sign is still there, I'll be taking some photos.

It would be nice if the removed part of the sign would somehow be salvageable enough to repair and replace. Sadly, I have my doubts on that score.

Crud. Freaking storm.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

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This one didn't break; it was uprooted.
IMAG0177
taken June 24, 2010
by Gabey8
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I'm reasonably sure this is TWO trees, not one
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