And the polar vortex creeps down on you and devours your thermometer:

Well, first things first…since I’ve been away for a while, I need to bring y’all back up to speed as to what’s going on here (or what *has* been going on here)  but I figured I’d mix that in with more current stuff on my pointy head; simpler than trying to do one completely and then the other.  I’ll tag the old news Throwback so you can see it all in one group if you want to, and Go On with the rest as it happens.

I will say that the major contributors to this drop-from-sight were due to my CLL, which is otherwise not getting worse.   This includes:

  1. A very slow-to-heal wound in my left foot that kept getting infected, throwing me into the hospital for 3-5 days each time for heavy-duty IV antibiotics
  2. Major foot surgery related to that that came from my left foot having major chunks taken out of it that were infected, including the 5th metatarsal bone,  which first required  months in a rehab nursing home to get me up and going again – and now, messes me up majorly on balance and walking.  It’s now much more a chore to walk around, and my weird gait has gotten some substantial complaints from my leg and back muscles – right now, I’m on muscle relaxants to un-twist things in my legs, which had gotten horribly painful.
  3. chronic ill / tired episodes,  exacerbated by (1) and (2) above, which led to me not getting things done in any sort of schedule and made me feel really overwhelmed which led to depression (and me going into a spiral on same).  Yadda yadda.
  4. Who wants to write endlessly about all of the above, which have swallowed your life whole?  And if you did, with all the stuff you have to do/dig through that has built up, can you justify the time involved?

I’ve  been able to toss out some stuff for Facebook, but it’s almost all been light stuff I can toss off without a lot of time or thought.   I miss doing something with some meat on it.

Scaring myself:

Over the last ten days or so, I’ve been feeling moderately rocky – and over this weekend, *very* rocky. I’m really not sure what’s going on, but it’s gotten bad enough that I’m going in to see my GP doctor to see if she has a clue.

Early on stuff – a really bad heartburn that I chalked up to having drunk way too many cups of coffee and glasses of cola for the caffeine jolt – my ADD meds had run out, and I was having a lot of trouble being productive. That sort of upset has happened several times in the past when I did something similar, and this one was bad. So I laid off coffee and pop, and shunned things that were spicy, acid or tough to get down, and ate more yogurt and the like. As I did, the problems started to recede…

A little later, I started to notice other things happening; shortness of breath, lack of energy, way lower ability to deal with heat – sweating like mad and quick energy loss. Since I had a new prescription for the ADD meds filled on Thursday, all this went off the charts, and half of Saturday and all of Sunday, the problems with shortness of breath really kicked in – *any* effort to do stuff made me out of breath and energyless. I managed with difficulty to put away lunch leftovers and gather and run a tub of dishes, over several hours, and it really knocked me on my keister.

By mid-afternoon Sunday, it was pretty clear that I was seriously ill in some manner, and took my temperature – normal. I got on the Internet and set up an appointment with my GP doctor for 11 am on Monday, and can Elle’s my other commitments for Monday, including work.

A couple of really dire thoughts – a major change with my leukemia or cancer of the esophagus – came through my mind, but I just don’t know WTF is going on.

It’s that time again:

Father’s Day is coming, and the assembled family types want my wish list, so here it is:

  • I desperately need a new wallet and belt; both have been beat to pudding.  Something roughly similar would work; this wallet on Amazon looks decent, and the belt (new) has to be shorter than this one- as I’ve lost weight, I now have way too much slack at the end.
  • In the very near future, I will have to get a new pair of swimming trunks.  Nice idea.
  • In the near future, I’m finally expanding on my Radio interests, and my first step is to get an antenna set up outside for the shortwave/AM/FM setup. Need an antenna to hear things better on whatever device you have.
  • I also want to get a SDR Radio – a new type of radio that enables you to see what’s on…it samples the *entire* band of frequencies constantly and you run it through a PC; you’ll see a ‘waterfall’ of what’s on now in that section of the universe, and tuning to the right thing is a serious snap.  An example of this is a radio set up for public use by students at the University of Twente in the Netherlands (the link is a live control for the radio, which can be simultaneously used by hundreds of users for free), and fooling with that site at odd times has *really* stirred me up to return to my radio roots – to the point of getting my Ham license. I stalled on that for decades because my brain can’t process Morse Code nohow no way.

Note: I have a reasonably decent standard shortwave set, but the SDR radio I’m looking at getting is this one or (if I can learn to build a kit) this much cheaper one. (Also, the cheaper one doesn’t cover longwave or Mediumwave / AM Broadcast, which doesn’t thrill me.) Of course, that radio’s a serious chunk of change – rather put money into the antenna first.

Other than that, I really don’t know.  Experiential things, really – a vacation to someplace I’d really want to go to, like back to Ohio with the family or to places like Ashfall State Park in Nebraska.  From a doing things with family direction, that’s the sort of thing that I’d find fun.  I’ve gotten out of here so seldom…

My family used to despair that all I was interested in were books and DVDs.  I mean, I could use some pine or cedar soaps, but I take care of myself on the book and DVD end of  things anymore, and I don’t ask.  Lot more fun doing things and going places, in general.  I have most of the things I want or need.

On Vaxen! On Vixen! On Osborne and Zenith!

Garry Ward, an old pal, used to make a living at keeping antique mainframe-ish things going; I gasped that they’d *do* that and not get something newer and better, but…he was also the guy who was my introduction into PCs back around 1982; when I was going to law school, my utter lack of speed typing skills choked me when it came to preparing one brief or long report after another, and he did so for a fee…and I was utterly hooked on this thing called a Word Processor, and not having to do all sorts of retyping and hope it all came out error-free.  Not long after, with money from my first wedding, my then-wife and I bought an Osborne 1 CP/M PC, and not long after, a Kaypro 10.  Since then (1983) I have been essentially made my career by being good with PCs, switching from CP/M to DOS to Windows in 1991.

Hoof it, Maw!

Every so great often, I do a search for people that I’m curious about, 99.99% of them being people from my past.  This includes my mom, whose name (Dr. Jacquelinn A Randolph VMD) shows up in this and that from time to time.  The link above is to the University of Dayton 1947 yearbook, showing my very musical mother in a musical student play…which (even though they made a common error on how her name is spelled) is hilarious to me, because she never said a word to me about acting; I had the notion that she was a total grind in school.  I’ve done all sort of acting, but it was in high school – the college thespians were in it for a career, and were not interested in a non-theater major’s participation, so I gave it up way back when.


From TV Line:

**Stephen Fry will play sidekick to fellow Brit Rupert Grint in Super Clyde, CBS’ single-camera comedy about a fast food worker who decides to become a super hero. Specifically, Fry will play a butler who is “the Alfred to Clyde’s Bruce Wayne.”**

This will either be fantastically good or god-awful; it’s weird on a stick, for sure!

Read all about yer latest Gandhi before they get killed!

This is about what I had figured.

[Interesting article in The Diplomat about the inability of the Congress Party of India ]( give up the idea of (wait-for-it) a decendant of Jawaharlal Nehru / Indira Gandhi to come along and be the Chosen-One Golden-Child to lead them.

Never mind that they don’t seem to avoid sudden violent death at an early age, or that they have to be dragged into being a political figure due to who their grandma was.

In the weird and goofy world of South Asian politics, dynastic followings seem to trump actual political ability a lot, which is silly.

I thought it was silly here in America with Tafts, Browns (c.f. Ohio politics), Kennedys, Bushes and whatnot, because regardless of connections, real political ability is vanishingly rare.

That, of course, goes as well for Monarchies and ruthless dictatorships that dance around with ‘democratic / republican’ trappings like North Korea, Syria, Duvalierist Haiti, *und so weiter*. (Only my Canadian friends can say if Justin Trudeau is any real bargain, or if the Liberals are just as desperate as they were last election to pull something out of a hat.)

Not dead yet:

Actually, doing relatively well, all things considered.  The Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments I’ve been taking since right after Thanksgiving ended three weeks ago, and it’s marvelous to not have to trot over there every weekday and kill 3-4 hours of my day with that.  The result is a tiny slit less than 1 millimeter in size; I can now take showers and wash my foot for the first time in a while.  But the treatments worked pretty well, and I should show how big things were and how small they are now.

Also in a new brace-shoe for my chopped up left foot that looks like it was designed by the house of Munster, but it works and it supports my foot well, so no complaints.

The residual myopia (nearsightedness) and tired-drowsy side effects of the treatment are supposed to go away within 2 months, but it can’t come fast enough for me.  My vision is slowly coming back – for a while I couldn’t see a PC monitor or drive a car.  The former is still a problem and the latter works better IF it’s a non-busy street and full daytime.

This has also screwed up my work, because it’s difficult to see my work laptop, and I have a note from the doctor to my boss about it, so I’m off for a bit more time with that.

Meredith and Susan seem to be out of the house all the time on training, errands, you name it, and that got old with my driving kiboshed,

Also got unhooked from my IV machine on Monday, and that means I’m free of worrying about water getting into bandages.   Very nice.

Consider yonder exoplanets :

As a very long term enthusiast for speculating on planetology, orbital mechanics (the one area these days that I have to use high-end math on), exoplanets and related areas, I’ve been watching the sudden expansion of interest, information and tech in the modeling, discovery and understanding about exoplanets and what they are like.

This bit rather startled me…a major refinement and updating of the calculations Dole put forward in his Habitable Planets for Man – [a new online calculator for habitable zones around stars. ]( According to this one, at 1.0 AU, we’re almost too close to being over the edge on the hot side of the zone!

More at [title]()[](, including a PDF of the paper.

Wheels go round and round

I meant to write all this down earlier, but I was too worked up or brain-burnt to do it until now.

The docs put me through an MRI on Friday noonish to check to see if any osteomyelitis (bone infection) was still around, and I didn’t hear about any results until Saturday morning – first from the Hospitalist who barely knows me, second from the Disease doc who is generally smart but loses details on individuals, and finally from Dr. Lim, my foot surgeon, who knows the territory and my case VERY well.

Simply put, the Radiologist’s report said that the cuboid bone was ‘mildly inflamed’ and mentioned little else.

The first report from the Hospitalist = definite osteomyelitis and scared the tar out of me. I expected a foot amputation at once.

Second report from the Disease doc = mildly inflamed and he thought six weeks of IV antibiotics would take care of it, and I doubted that idea. Lots of antibiotics didn’t nail it so far…

The foot surgeon looked independently at the actual scans and said = not sure if it’s infection or heavy strain on weak feet, and two other nearby bones are looking similar.

He said that there were two ways to take this;

(1) involved the antibiotics and strengthening my feet while de-stressing me (said that I looked very stressed and worn out, which I am) in any number of ways and keeping an eye on those bones with later MRIs, etc, as well as the wound getting healed up.

(2) is the more drastic part; amputating the foot as a lost cause due to the osteo, to avoid further bone contamination elsewhere. Taking just those bones out would make my foot a useless flipper that would never be usable again. Simpler to go the gamut.

I was expecting (2) to be his only recommendation, and he said it was way too early for that. Give it 6-12 months and see what happens.

I was totally unsure; Susan strongly said that she backed his take on the situation, and that’s what we’re going with. I don’t know if it’s going to work and I dread the idea of osteo spreading – saw a co-worker with a long, difficult and hellish struggle that ended with his recent death.

That’s the situation at present – not the simple clear fix / end to this that we needed, with an uncertain future. A far cry from the ‘almost totally healed up’ we had expected last week turning into ‘totally healed, forget about the nightmare.’ Right now, that’s distant again, and our morale has taken a hit and put into a waiting game again.

So that’s where things are; I surely wish I had better news to tell.

And the main story:

Bringing you up to date: I ended up back in the hospital ER again last Wednesday with a foot and an urinary infection, and they immediately socked me into IV antibiotics treatment. I’ve been there ever since, mostly laying around zonked and tired. The infections seem to be responding, but the clinker was in the testing done to evaluate internal infection in my foot in case that was the cause. (the last post, out of sequence) tells about that.)

It looks like I will be getting a PICC line put in tomorrow morning, and sent home with IV antibiotics…for at least six weeks. I honestly couldn’t face rehab again.

History and Human Freedom:

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. In an 1962 article, American Civil War historian Bruce Catton wrote:

Over the long pull, however, the proclamation had decisive importance. It changed the climate of the war, broadening its objectives and giving the Northern people reason to feel that the terrible sacrifices exacted by battles like Antietam would finally be justified. After all, a majority of Northerners — the majority that had elected Lincoln in 1860 — had deep anti-slavery convictions. This majority had been willing to tread softly as a matter of tactics; it had agreed that the central Government could not lawfully interfere with slavery in peacetime; but, in a showdown, it would support emancipation with everything it had. It might, in the end, have given up a fight solely for reunion; it would never give up a fight for reunion and for human freedom.

Overseas the effect was equally profound. The war had changed in a way that made British intervention impossible, and the change had come just in time.

The British cabinet had been drifting toward recognition of the Confederacy for months, impelled by a need for Southern cotton and a general dislike of Yankees, and the question was to come up for decision late in the fall of 1862. Lee’s defeat at Antietam induced a certain caution; and then, suddenly, the Emancipation Proclamation persuaded the British public that this American war was not a simple attempt to keep certain states from having their independence but was a war to end slavery. Once that idea took hold, no British cabinet could recognize the Confederacy.


While I may be off from the hyperbaric therapy this week, the side-effects from it are running me ragged; the new feature is really bad headaches, which matches the increasing nearsightedness, I would guess. Things start blurring at arm’s length, and walking around is getting way more disorienting.

On the plus side, things are continuing to heal up. The latest wound measurements keep shrinking, and are now 2.6 by 1 cm (and pretty shallow).

This morning, I went to the guy who made my special shoes, and got my left foot (the chopped up one) measured and molded for a new shoe, one with a built in ankle brace and support for the part where there’s no there there anymore.

That, once the healing is finished, is the real problem for me to face. Even with partial weight bearing on the foot, the strain and pain without proper support makes getting the new shoe very important for me.

Upcomng con non-situation:

Considering my physical situation, I was a fool to go to Worldcon, and couldn’t get to Windy, and it looks as if Capricon will likewise be Not A Good Idea To Attend.  Not happy about this, but trying to not overstress any further, and being conservative on what my body can do right now.  I see various events that I would like to attend, but have to rethink things about 100 times over…with so little energy right now, I’m not really up to much.

Attempted recap:

If you hadn’t been watching – yes, I am out of the rehab place and have been since the 8th of December, and taking every-weekday Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments at Edward Hospital’s Wound Center, which involves me being sealed up in a big plastic tube for two hours with 100% oxygen at 2.5 time normal atmospheric pressure.  Two side effects from that are that my eyes have gotten temporarily nearsighted, and that my energy levels the rest of the time are pretty low; I’m either horribly groggy or sleeping, which friends have noted has been my body’s way in the past for dealing with healing from major operations and the like.    The treatments have been working to heal up the massive wound in my foot caused by malpractice during the rehab period that ripped open a large incision, and the 10 cm by 5 cm gash is now around 3 cm by 1 cm and rapidly getting shallower and filling in on the sides and beneath.  The docs are setting things up (since this has been working so well) to extend my treatments (which were supposed to end this week) for 2-3 more weeks to get the whole thing healed over for good.  Since I’m been having problems of this sort that have wrecked me up for the last 5 years, I’m more than willing to let them do that, but I really hate being so exhausted.

(This is a kind of recap because I’ve been getting a lot of confused comments privately as to what’s been going on medically with me, so I decided to give the condensed version.)

Recently, for several reasons, my morale levels had gone way down and my stress levels had gone up – I had lost a lot of hope regarding the healing and cure process, amongst other things.  Can’t really go into a lot of the fine details on the rest of it.    Having to go back to work – and reassembling my scattered stuff on work – has been a real challenge, as has trying to do a full work week on top of everything else while trying to stay alert and productive.  Had I my druthers, I’d have not gone back to work until after the exhaustion went away, but I don’t have that luxury.

Departing at Gate 5 for darkest Tennessee:

Tomorrow, Meredith is leaving on a week-long expedition to Tennessee to see her twin sister and her family – including an expedition to Memphis, and back again to the Harrington farm (a really lovely place).    Her really big presents (woo-hoo wise) were a new set of Ugg boots, and her Sissy’s present – a Lego VW Microbus from 1962.  As soon as she got home from the main gift exchange at her great-aunt’s place on Christmas Eve (and after the service at our Church), she jumped into assembling the thing, and finished last night.  I still see a number of small pieces on the table downstairs where she was working on it, and I’ve got to get her to collect that and put it away.  But otherwise, she did an amazingly good job on it.

Today, she’s supposed to be working on her laundry (doing the dirty and putting away or packing the clean) and other chores around here that she needs to get done before she goes – it will be awfully quiet here without her.  I really hope she has a great time; she generally does, and is on her best behaviour.  (Or at least, that’s what she tells us.)  The outbound flight is early tomorrow, and so all packing and gathering has to be done today.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like I’ll be going off with Susan and Mere to the airport. I’m not terribly mobile (any long trek is in a wheelchair),  and I’d be more of a hindrance than anything, especially since only one parent can go to the gate with her.  I’d spend 95% of the time waiting in the mini-van or in a busy airport area waiting in a wheelchair.  I also don’t have much in the way of leave in any way, and taking everything after 2 pm or so up with getting over to the hyperbaric treatments, I don’t have a lot of latitude in rearranging my working hours (6am-2:30pm).  Same on the return – I’d get out of the treatment at 5:30, and Susan would have to be out of the house shortly thereafter to pick up Mere at 7 pm at Midway.  Doubt I could get home in time.

This will also the first time Mere’s missing the New Years Eve traditions we have here, and she’s not happy about that, but the Siren Call of Sissy beats everything else.

Oooga Booga Right, Oooga Booga Left:

The Ascended Masters have revealed to me and me alone where I will be and what I will be doing at 5:14 AM (CST) on December 21, 2012, facing the end of the 13th cycle of the Mayan Long Count.
I will be realizing that I have to get out of bed and go the bathroom to avoid a monumental event that would be really really embarrassing.  Then, I will arise and perform the necessary rituals to avoid the event occurring, and probably then get up and eat a banana with breakfast.
I know this will come as a great revelation to you, the un-anointed.  But I thought it was only fair to alert you to this hazard and the potential horrors involved – or make your eyes roll with ‘WTF is Jim going on about now, the big weirdo’?
Or you could just join me and roll your eyes every time someone this week starts going on about the end of the world or Mayans.   I’ve been doing it for years.  It’s easy to do.

Sleep, love, wishes:

My schedule has gotten wonked around a lot; spent the majority of time when not work or medical busy exhausted and sleeping. This means available time for house paperwork has sludges into the moral equivalent of ‘zzzzzz‘, ‘wha‘ and ‘bzzzooorrk‘. Tonight I’m trying to hack at it and see what I can get done.

The hyperbaric oxygen treatments I’ve been having over the last few weeks seem to be the source of the power drain; as a friend who knew me from 13 years ago when I had a kidney removed reminded me, my body tends to be low-energy and I sleep a lot when doing major major healing. Annoying, though.

Latest annoyance is that my foot bandage has been shredding a lot, especially in bed at night. Makes A Mess, and is *not* conducive to keeping it clean/germ free/protected from damage or pain. Susan got me a couple of ‘legging’ things to use as protection from shredding, but I dunno if they are really going to work well.

Otherwise, plans for the rest of the ‘holiday’ season are moving forward, centered around the 24th, 25th and 31st. It’s been painful to see the earlier parts (Thanksgiving, Mere’s birthday, Sinterklaas, the Family Dinner) cut or reduced down.

(Susan brought me Thanksgiving leftovers in rehab, my time at Mere’s family birthday part was horribly short, but Susan tried her best on those two to to make it work for me, which I greatly appreciate.)

I realized recently that the reason I fight so hard about this stuff is that it’s a Huge Link for me to the seriously nice, fun and memorable parts of my past; most especially my Mom and Granny, but also other wonderful people like my cousins Nancy and Dave and my great-aunt Mary, to Uncle John Lusk and his stepdaughters, and to other folks now long dead.

It’s become a warm, positive way to bring them back to me for a little while, and to share that warmth over to my family here and to close friends. Having this cut feels like a steel hammer dropped on that love and the past, right up there with saying ‘the season is a humbug, we don’t need no tree or special times, don’t need family or love, just sit back and watch the Shopping Channel and dig the prices for zirconium necklaces.’

As if I would ever give a crap about zirconium necklaces, regardless of cost.

Presents, to me, are mostly important from the direction of ‘I’m important enough to you to try and come up with something I’d really like and surprise me with it.’ Not bothering at all on that and just doing a generic gift card, to me, just takes the whole experience to : here’s something because I feel obligated to do something. Now it’s off my checklist.

Kind of makes the whole process something with no heart, no soul and no love and concern.

Yes, I know gift cards work in some cases, like for someone you know that’s helpful and nice, but you don’t know them well enough to be able to figure other stuff out. And, yes, you can do something like that for people whose favorite thing would *be* a gift card for iTunes. But in general, to me, it’s not something I want to get or give.

My family has revolted about me putting a lot of books and DVDs on my wish list, but then, the stuff that’s on there (like an active shortwave antenna) are very techie, or odd (a V for Vendetta outfit or a good maroon Fez), and nothing ‘normal’ like a jigsaw, a autographed football, or a recliner.

I mean, I’m not ‘normal’ in my tastes, likes and dislikes, and have never claimed to be.

Shock Release:

A quick note:

The disease guy on the team treating me pulled the order on my IV antibiotics, so I got the last dose Wednesday night, immediately followed by removing my PICC line.
What I didn’t know was as far as Blue Cross was concerned, the IV antibiotics was what was keeping me in the home, so early today, I heard that I would be discharged on Saturday.
According to the folks here, that decision was final – no appeal.  Home Health nurses would come out for wound checks three times a week and redress the wound, and bring extra material to use on me   There would also be visiting physical therapy people twice a week for training purposes.
I didn’t expect this to happen so soon, or under this situation – I’m just trying to adapt to the new setup.


This crap about being absolutely exhausted from the hyperbaric oxygen treatments can die a horrible death about now. Gets really hard to think straight or consider which way is up, and work is demanding a good chunk of detail on things last week and this week.

Last night, they woke me up around 3:30 am while setting up IVs in the night that would run until I had to leave here at 6:45 am, and that didn’t help matters. On the other hand, I shouldn’t have to deal with the IVs after tomorrow.

One of the specialist nurses for wound care here hadn’t seen the wound since I started these treatments, and was rather jolted by how much progress had been made over that time. Almost all of the people here with big wound issues are seriously diabetic and seemingly never make much of **any** kind of positive healing progress at all, which is a horrible pity. I wish them all the good luck they can get.

Boobery and Tubery: pass on reality TV

Warning: I’m probably going to sound terribly cranky in this post. I also realize that a lot of people (including, possibly, you) love this stuff on TV. I’m giving out a lot of snark about these TV shows, of course, but I know that they couldn’t be hits unless a lot of people dug them and kept watching, year after year. I just have a real low threshold for dealing with shows that are (to me) pretty obvious as to being in a formula that repeats endlessly with little change. Same with books, movies, you name it. I get bored, and I ask myself – why am I watching this? What is the thing that draws me to watch this?

But in general, ‘reality’ shows are **not** my cup of tea. They want a big audience, but *I’m* not part of it and **not** the targeted audience. And the more obvious it is that the producers have artificially boosted the conflict or set up the whole thing like a ‘scripted’ TV drama, the less I want to see it.

In my own household, I’m in the minority on this viewpoint about these shows. Susan and Mere watch a ton of ‘reality’ shows on HGTV about housing fix up, housing sales and the like, and while I can occasionally sit and watch them, in general, a little of that goes a very long way.

The ‘property’ ones are endless formulaic redos of the same sort of thing over and over again…requiring exceptional circumstances for homeowners.

Examples include:
+ horrific former contractor work that has to be fixed, or
+ people thinking that they can get a hugely nicer home for cheaper in the same high-demand neighborhoods or
+ people who have crap rooms or yards who end up having everything redone from IKEA leftovers and the like, usually in some ultra-kitchy or ultra-overload fashion.

In each case, it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen in This Episode, so I generally don’t give a care as to the resolution. The fixes are made and look great, the dummies who want something for nothing end up **not** getting what they say they want and painfully have to settle for less, and the redecorated rooms, while an **improvement**, will probably be radically re-done by the time six weeks had passed by because they’ll get tired of the new.

(It’s also scary to see some of the prices these people are paying in Toronto or New Jersey or whatever for a not-that-great place to live; I can’t *conceive* of looking at houses that start at $650,000 and top out at maybe **twice** that, unless I’d *maybe* won the lottery. I just gasp and choke at their **oh, sure, $950,000, no problem** attitude. It just reinforces the idea that these people don’t hang in the real world I know.)

Likewise, Mere digs the design competition / art / movie makeup programs, and again, I can take it or leave it. Mostly, the stuff they do on these are made to impress other ahtpeople who are looking for Out-There stuff, and they frequently either get too involved in something that won’t work and falls apart, or they do something way over the top that looks like hell.

Never having been anyone’s idea of hip, trendy and all of that, it’s all lost on me. The movie makeup stuff *sometimes* turns out some really good creative stuff, but – well, don’t wait for it.

Part of the problem with all of these ‘*aht*’ competitions (and likewise food-based competitions) is that the people they attract into this stuff are mostly either (1) people who talk big, have big egos, and implode because they really don’t know what they’re doing, or (2) somewhat experienced and even more egocentric. If the hosts are the ones doing the picking, and know about these sorts coming in, I can only conclude that the problem people came into the mix as deliberate cannon fodder to expel early OR that the People In Charge want the twittiness as a means of causing conflict and stir. *Eeeeeeeeech* and no thanks.

Most of the ‘made up sporty’ sorts of programs have people competing in weirdly rigged up events that would be difficult to set up, complicated and physically demanding to succeed in, and the producers want them to be really rah-rah about it all, so they can gamely slog towards the finish after being mushed by the Acme Boxing Machine or whatever. Or, as in the SURVIVOR series(s), they want to drum up tension and upset between players because it makes watchable fights and backstabbing.

Generally, it’s a matter of how much physical abuse, motivation for some amount of bucks (usually not that great) and strategizing evileness you can muster – and it’s not worth the trouble, and promotes greed and backstabbing as a lifestyle. **No thanks**.

Then there’s the ‘fix their lifestyle’ ones. How to force a hoarder to dump their crap out the door and mend their obviously destructive life-ruts. How to switch moms in two families – usually with two diametrically opposed lifestyles…like Army Camp versus No Care Hippies. Lots of conflict, and supposedly some understanding on the part of both households that they’re oversold on what they were doing in the first place. I would bet real money that as deeply entrenched the hoarder types are and the extreme lifestyle variants are, that long-term, things will return to about 95+% of the way they were in the first place. People get stuck into these ways of approach to their lives, and they’re going to need something bigger and longer or a jolt to change them around. Atomic weaponry, maybe.

Don’t start me on the ‘all in the dysfunctional celebs family’ ones or the ‘batchelor/spinster’ formats.

I do **not** care what sort of things vapid celebrities do, especially if they are celebrities because they have acted in stupid or slutty ways in public. When Lindsey Lohan did the remake of the PARENT TRAP, I didn’t expect her to be a drug-addled mess, but I don’t need to see anymore of that.

Ditto Bobby Brown, any musician or actor you care to mention, etc. In 99% of these things, including any mix of Osbornes, Kardashians, Jersey Shorers, Gene Simmonses, the people involved are aware of the Stupid and Self-Destructive stuff or bloody well ought to be, but have little interest in doing the work that is needed to straighten out things. And my tolerance for watching people roll in their bad behavior is not there and I don’t find it entertaining.

The ‘Bachelor’ type shows cater to people’s romantic fantasies. Lots of that, and elegant dinners on the beach in the moonlight, et cetera. Don’t forget the roses and candles.

But think really hard. There’s always competition between people in regards to ‘who gets him/her in the end’, yeah, but the producers want a LOT of conflict amongst as many as 25 people trying to get chosen as the one. And it’s become no secret that the whole show is scripted, and **none** of the 16 seasons of THE BATCHELOR actually led to a real wedding between the selector and the chosen suitor in the end. Me, I couldn’t imagine (even if I were charming and adonis-like in looks) actually *wanting* to fight through that mob to chase after someone I didn’t know and push my ‘instant’ desire for that person on international TV.

Maybe well-written, interesting and enlightening shows are things of the past. I hope not.

Papers and Gaming and Sociability:

Quiet day at the home, with me going through great steaming piles of papers (mostly financial stuff piled up at home that I have to attend to).  I have a busy day tomorrow; a few doctors to see, and a trip home for a while to be at a goodbye-for-a-week dinner being thrown by Susan’s Aunt Marlyce at one of our favorite restaurants.  (Susan is off on one of her regular trips for work to Columbus from Tuesday through Friday; she likes to hole up when she goes and knit and read at night and NOT have to go/do/be social.)

During the week, I’m booked Tuesday morning and most of Wednesday day with medical stuff away from here.  Otherwise, I’m looking to pass the time with any visitors that might come by; don’t expect to hear from home until Saturday at this point.   (Even brought back four SPI-type wargames to pass the time if Rich Rostrom or someone like him shows up.)
If I hadn’t mentioned it earlier, I’ve been a wargamer and a role-playing-game player since the early 1970s, but since moving to Lisle in the early ’90’s, I haven’t really sought much of anyone out to play.  A heavy, busy schedule at home and lately my health have screwed up my opportunities to go somewhere and do something, and I’m dying to get back into that again.
As to computer games, I really have never done much; a couple of first-person shooters years ago, variations on Civilization, and nothing much at all until I got hooked into Lord of the Rings Online, my first and probably only MMO.  Been playing that for two and a half years, with a scrambled schedule, you do stuff when time allows, sometimes for only 20 minutes in one week.  It’s really a lot of fun.

Memento Mori, Canis.

Been home twice from the rehab center over the last couple of days; Susan comes over, drives me back, and I hang out there for several hours.  Wish it were under better circumstances.
Our oldest dog Dot, who’s been a biochemical mess since puppy hood – to the point where she’s miserable all the time, can’t see, control her temper, thyroid, waste, blood sugar..or be able to get much of any real nourishment from food. She would attack the other Wire Fox Terrier, Dash, constantly, be torn up badly from the fights and heal slowly and in agony, and constantly looked for any opportunity to attack again.
Lately, total incontinence and pain from her slow-healing wounds from fights have worn her down a lot. She looked twice her age (8), required constant monitoring, and was wracked with wild blood sugar swings that her two daily does of insulin were not handling.
Susan tried everything to help her out, and set up a elaborate set of walls and gates in the house and outside to keep the bigger dogs well apart, along with attempts to train her to some level of control, with little luck. Also found special vets to help her, but they had run out of tricks.  In all, she could go into a messy and agonizing tailspin at any time, and there would be little notice about it and not much we could do to prevent it.
This last week, we made the hard decision to let her go. I set up a home visit at Friday noon by a traveling vet in the area, and she helped Dot to take the trip over the Rainbow Bridge, surrounded by love and cuddled by the people who loved her and had fought to save her from the bad genetic hand she’d been dealt.
It was hard. I’d been through this many times before around my Mom’s veterinary work, but this was the first time for me to see my own critter be the object. It was worse than hard for Susan and Meredith; above all, I needed to be there to give them moral support. There’s been enough death in the household (my mother in law last December) for quite a while, thank you very much.

Not healthy, nosir….

Apologies to the folks out there who have wondered if I fell into a dark pit, because I basically did.

During the National Skating Championship in Lincoln at the end of July, I got seriously blasted and drained by a week of 105-110F temperatures (I don’t do well in heat, and never have) and came back a dazed, sickly wreck.  In point of fact, from then till now, I’ve generally been tired, sickish and weak, which is enormously annoying.  Haven’t had my wits about me very well, and just generally want to be a glunk.

In mid August, the drain factor was so bad that I got **another** case of cellulitis in my Left Foot, and came out of the hospital not a lot better than I had been in the first place.   More draining developments followed, including going to the Chicago Worldcon, and I ended up right after the con with a case of pneumonia (Wed., Sept. 5th), and the doc gave me meds for that.

From the Wednesday the 5th to Sunday the 9th, the pneumonia started lifting, but I got sicker and weaker, and my easily-infected left foot started majorly getting irritated, and then infected.   On Sunday afternoon, I gave up and Susan hauled me into the ER at Edward Hospital.

At the point where I went into the ER, I was horribly out of it and nauseous, and I don’t remember most of it.  They started IV antibiotics, determined that the swelling in my foot was mostly comprised of abcesses, and mulled what to do with me.  My foot surgeon, Dr. Lim, was annoyed – there had to be a base reason why this was repeating, and he got an idea that turned out to be correct.

An MRI showed that my 5th metatarsal (read: bone at the outer edge of my leftfoot, connected with the little toe) had changed since the last MRI, and he bet on a bone infection as the cause.  He proposed to go it, clean things out, and remove the bone, followed by weeks of IV antibiotics, to kill any bugs that remained. So on Wednesday the 11th, he did exactly that, cleaning out a pile of messed up internal tissue along with the bone, and sewing up my foot again.

I was unhappy about losing that much of myfoot, but realized what was there was worthless crap I really needed to unload.  The worst of the post op pain was over in a couple of days, and the foot was healing well enough that I could be handed off to a rehab clinic on Tuesday the 18th.

That’s where I am now, and not terribly impressed.  The Internet has largely been my device for combatting boredom, especially with all the political shenanigans going on around Mitt Romney, and there’s far less net nannying going on here.  On the other hand, the food is meager, limited and not very tasty or nourishing, the staff ranges from good and competent to bored, sloppy and going through the motions, with more in the latter group than the former.  I have to watch closely what they do, ask questions and raise heck as necessary, not expecting anyone to be clued in about anything.

When I was in High School in my freshman year, the gym instructor liked telling us to go do something that would eat up time (like running many laps) so he could go down to his office in the locker room, have a smoke and read the paper.  One day, his lack of supervision led to another kid jumping me and breaking my arm.  My dad raised a huge amount of stink about that, and the net result was that I never had to do gym again.  And I learned as a absolute that people in charge of thing don’t necessarily give a crap about you, and would happily let you suffer for their comfort or benefit.

So I don’t trust doctors and medical types to be either caring or on top of things.  Doing so blindly, to me, is a fast trip to being another oh-well statistic in the mortality and morbidity report for a hospital.

I guess too that I’ve experienced way too many people that are clueless about what they’re doing and don’t want to have to do things the right way.  Or go for the way that makes them look good, regardless of how well it works out in reality.  That sort of thing has driven me crazy, along with “let’s bury it and hope nobody makes us clean it up”, over the last five years in all of my endeavors, and it’s really upsetting when your physical butt is on the line.

Dog claws at morning, backside take warning.

Mere with Jack beside her at ‘theater camp’.

Mere’s dog Jack is VERY attached to her, so he’s not been very happy to to be here when Mere is elsewhere…to the point of getting into our bed and trying to wedge himself in between us. This morning, he woke me up by deciding to stretch out and digging his claws into me…Shooed him out of that, moved him to the bottom of the bed, fell asleep, and was re-awakened about a half hour later, in the same way.

The more times I’m woken up, the harder it gets to go back to sleep properly. Pain as an awakener is particularly good on that score. Taking some pity on a sad dog, I gave up, rolled over, and checked the alarm; too close to alarm-time to do much of anything but wake up properly and check out what the world was up to on my iPad until the radio went off!

Also got up and made sure to get the work laptop that has given me so much heartburn for so long together; Susan was kind enough to haul it (with its huge brick-like proprietary Dell AC adapter; Dell laptops are notoriously persnickety about getting **exactly** the right Dell brick or else they won’t charge, and I had to hand in the laptop to be able to get a new one.

And, now, that’s the trick.

From past and present experience with PC/network issues, getting things accomplished is either very very straightforward and easy, or hideously slow and involves a lot of people staring inertly into space, waiting on someone else. That, pretty much, is what the problem has been with trying to get the folks at the office to get my laptop fixed so that I can get stuff done – but that mess started about two years ago in earnest and has never been resolved for very long.

I’m sure they’re tired of it all as I am. But they can at least do their work easily and expeditiously, and I’m pretty much up the creek without a paddle. So I return to pushing und tschoving as bet I can, making sure that people talk to people and move things along. Otherwise…

Nationals: lil’ Tammy Faye, eat your heart out:


Part of what people do in any form of skating is to draw attention to themselves and their actions on the rink. This usually requires careful attention to what they’re wearing – hair, makeup and costuming.

Makeup – well, when I was an actor in high school, it used to bother me a good deal to have it on for the dress rehearsals and performances. It looked crude, awful and fake up close – but the makeup was to allow the folks in the auditorium to see and understand my facial expressions, and respond accordingly. So when I see Mere’s huge makeup supply, I grimace a bit (being a ‘don’t need makeup’ sort of person), but I know that she needs it to compete.

Clothing – Guys usually will use some kind of stretchy long trousers and a form-fitting flexible shirt, and girls usually have skin-colored tights with a one-piece dress over their torso (sometimes with form-fitting long sleeves, but always including a short skirt) that approximately looks like a variation on a one-piece swimsuit. Both sexes cover their skating boots with extensions of their costumes – to maintain an illusion, I would guess.

In either case, it’s how to flatter their body shapes and put an outfit on that will go with their moves and not snarl them up. A skater will usually have a small assortment of skating outfits – some for practices, and one for a particular event. We have been very lucky; our skating club maintains an informal assortment of outgrown used outfits, and Mere’s coach’s wife is a really gifted seamstress and turns out fantastic costumes for Mere’s use.

Clothing colors are bright and eye-catching – some pure black, but a lot of even those have swirls and patterns of gemlike ‘bling’ glittering away as they move and spin across the floor. Many guys dress more sedately, with only two major colors, but female skaters are much more ‘shiny’ – all sorts of bright colors, patterns and a ton of ‘bling’ in their hair and everywhere.

Oh, the hair – girls and women always have it tied up in some manner. Loose long hair would get in their face and mess up their ability to keep a eye on things around them, like the wall, the floor, their pairs partner. Any clips or barrettes are usually encrusted in ‘bling’. And hats, loose scarves and other loose props are not allowed, along with ‘unnatural’ hair coloring.


Nationals: the music

A skating meet is an odd collection of the senses and emotions, and a great crossection of raw human spirit. What follows are a few vignettes into what it’s like to be there.


The first thing that catches me every time at a meet is the music; not much Tchaikovsky or languid Debussy here. Most of it is far livelier pop stuff, energy-laden soundtrack items or (in the case of dancers) Lawrence Welk-y rooter toot theater organ pieces from before Kennedy went to Dallas – or maybe Bob Fosse musicals done at a slower tempo. And lots of tangos.

I find that I fix on the music first, perhaps because it’s a way that I can be part of the event on the sides – playing the “where’s that from” game on the music, wondering why in the **world** they mixed together A and B (think a Strauss waltz cut with Surf Guitar Ala Dick Dale) and whether the choreography and style on the skating floor match well.

The skating coaches often come up with the music, with a strong idea of what sort of pacing they want. Any routine is a collection of jumps, spins and other maneuvers spliced together – sometimes the skater is obliged to do some of X and at least one Y and W moves, depending on the event and the difficulty level of the competition.

So it’s music as a binder for the choreography setup; time your jump to this or that point in the music for dramatic effect. It also helps in regard to keeping the skaters on track to what needs to be done when.

For the casual observer, the dramatic impact is **everything**. Skaters take a ton of chances, of course, and have to practice their moves at considerable length. They can miss moving with the music properly, they can take chances with that move that is new and just barely in their reach that could wow the crowd or judges. It’s a crap game on wheels that only a well-practiced skater can pull off well!

As to music, I have a ridiculously good musical memory, and a good eye to the dramatics. I know when they’ve mixed together *really* inappropriate tunes, whether the cutting and mixing are either over the top or terribly done. So I will let loose a few OMGs and WTFs as I hear the music on the rink.


– the Pink Panther cut back and forth with a lively Dixieland version of “Yes sir, that’s my baby.”

– versions of good music as redone for nursery school kids. I heard Beep Beep (originally by the Playmates around 1960) and selections from KISMET (the musical) this way and was NOT impressed.

– Often used recently a LOT, to the point where you groan and say aaaaagh:
…..Oh, yeah – a lot of remixes of the opera CARMEN by Bizet.

**One** more flapper or Spanish dancer, and you want to throw things that are heftier than long-stemmed roses at the rink.

Other bad ideas:

– using loud, fast paced music for a very young, inexperienced skater because the coach thinks the music is cool. The music then highlights the skater’s awkwardness, doing them no favors.

– some genres just don’t work with the crowd and the judges, like death metal. You’d think that swing would work well, but I rarely see people pull it off sucessfully.

dopey stuff sometimes works, believe it or not. Last year, a guy doing a sad-sack routine to Zorba The Greek won a gold in a free dance category; *I* was shocked, but the rest of the field was so-so, and it amused the judges.

Somtimes large groups trained by the same coaches will use an identifying very brief lead-in snippet: one Ohio group uses the Harry Potter theme for this, so you know that it’s one of their skaters. Caught me by surprise until I figured it out!

How much say does a skater have in the music? Depends on how much they run their training. Some don’t feel comfortable doing it, some insist on that level of control. And that can lead into a lot of trouble with a strong coach who won’t allow it!

Often, long-time coaches will re-use music and choreography after six years or more with a different skater, and will (if you ask) tell you that they can’t remember where the music came from in the first place. It simply worked well before, and that’s all they care about. And in the end, no matter how pretty, haunting or majestic the music is, that’s the heart of what a skater’s selection of music is all about.


We have had several projects around the house that are beyond our skills to fix or repair (especially with me off my feet) but the two most important ones were Susan’s office floor and the Basement Bathroom.

Susan’s office is kind of a long-ago-back-porch-converted-into-a -sun room, with a great view of our verdant backyard.  Lots of window space.  However, the project was never very well handled in the first place – the insulation was very lacking, and the floor was a fright.  It would be highly affected by outside temperatures – hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and transfer a lot of that to the rest of the house.

Susan liked the view and the sunshine, and put her office there.  And it was the main way out of the house to the back yard, so the dogs have used it as a place to Hang Out With Mommy, sun themselves, hide from the rain, and go in and out to do their business outside. And sometimes, do their business inside because they were unwilling to go outside in the rain, etc.

This was made much more of a problem by two things – Susan put in a wall-to-wall carpet in there (from a relation for free) to have a softer, warmer surface to rest her feet on, and the decrepitude of Dot, our diabetic, enfeebled, blind dog who was having all sorts of incontinence problems.  (She looks about twice her age, according to outsiders.)  The carpet soaked up the *um* mistakes, and got VERY gross no matter what Susan did.

In the basement, the contractors who redid our basement several years ago did a terrible job, and the water leaks from the toilet and the shower caused the floor tile to shatter, and problems with mold and whatnot.  Again, a horrible mess that was getting worse all the time.

Part of what held things back was – well, trying to find a good, honest contractor.  We think we found one about a month ago, and made arrangements for him to do the floor of the office and a general bathroom rehab, and for the last week-plus, they’ve been making a fearful racket and indescribable smells as they were working.

Since I work at home in my basement office, the bathroom rehab was a major annoyance – the noise, the workers’ radio blaring Mexican music, lots of echoed chatter, and so on.  I had to make a lot of trips upstairs for the john, and finally broke down and and used the old upstairs bathtub and shower when I couldn’t take it any longer.  (I have terrible balance, and trying to one-foot the tub, and the shower/tub area is small and narrow for me, and I was terrified of falling and hurting myself.)

And the racket made concentrating hard.  I like my office cool, dark and quiet.  (NOTE:  I tend to like home to be peaceful, comfortable, and I really do not care for change for change’s sake.  Give me something that works well, and I’m happy as a clam.)

Today, they’re supposed to be done with the finishing touches on the shower; the rehab on Susan’s floor took more time than they expected  because of the seriously-WTF way that it was held down by a kajillion small screws.  With the new tile she has in there, it looks kind of like the inside of a beach house.

What I’ve seen of the rehabbed bathroom looks nicer than what we had, by far.  And me, I’ll just be happy to use the shower again!

NOTE:  To avoid problems, we had Mere dog-wrangle during the day to keep them from annoying or getting in the way of the workmen.  She did a wonderful job!


Hey U pawpaw!

When I was a kid and roaming around on our ‘farm’ near Vandalia, Ohio, a serious treat in the fall was to find (and almost immediately eat) wild pawpaws straight from the tree.  The fruit is incredibly good – sort of like a banana crossed with a fig – but it has a really short ‘ripe’ period, right around the first frost. The skin is really delicate (and you can’t eat it or the seeds) and when ripe, it does spoil awfully fast (think of how fast a banana can go from nice to brown much) – which means that shipping the stuff is majorly difficult.

Haven’t actually had one for over 30 years; however, I was recently clued in to Integration Acres near Athens, Ohio…which sells a number of cool native food things – including fresh pawpaws in season, and the frozen stuff off-season.  And for the Appalachians in the audience, they also have things like ramp crackers and ramp tofu pasta.  Yes,you heard that right.

There’s also the Ohio Pawpaw festival in mid-September in the Athens area – which sounds interesting and well worth a look-see.

I understand what he means:

My brains fry sometimes when people run the same plot / setting over and over again and call it Fresh! New! Alternate History when it’s Done To Freaking Death.  Like, say the American Civil War, or World War II – or in more recent times, taking sub-sub-genres (steampunk, undead stuff, dragons and fantasy stuff) and proclaiming THAT as Alternate History – and running the same sort of thing over and over again.  Did I say over?  Yes.  Over.

There’s a recent web-comic – from QUESTIONABLE CONTENT – which I generally recommend as a lot of fun – that fits my opinion of seeing another 15-20 steampunk books with spunky young women, Holmes-esque detectives, and Queen Vicky do that same breakdance again.


Dogs at war:

For the last few weeks, we’ve had a huge number (at least two a day) bit I’ll-Rip-Your-Throat-Out dog fights between the three dogs, one of which sent me and Susan to the ER to fix up some nasty puncture wounds from a dog bite in her forearm.

Normally, these fights happens when everyone’s home, and in particular when Mere and Susan walk out or in the door.  (In which case, someone, usually Jack, gets really excited, and our Alpha Bitch, Dash (who is very gentle with us and all people, and has only really hit the wall recently with the other dogs) decides to put that dog or dogs In Their Place.  The hard way.

And when this starts up, whoever wasn’t attacked tends to get into the fight and fuels more trouble.  The worst of the fight is when the two older Wire Fox Terriers go for each other; poor blind Dot has suffered a fair amount of damage to her face and forelegs – and in other parts, too.  These fights almost always upstairs or otherwise far out of my reach.  Very frequently,  someone struggling with a fighting-mad 25-pound Terrier will come to me and dump the dog in my lap to handle.  After 50 years of being around the breed, I know how to contain them with a great deal of success.
But how to stop the fights before they start?  Beats me.
Susan took Dash and Dot into the vet – and he said that Dash isn’t going through some obvious illness or imbalance, and suggested that it was behavioural.  That’s all very nice, but what was the trigger and what will derail this process?  (I’m not worried about the dogs hurting me, but about Mere, Susan or the dogs getting seriously hurt in the process of all these fights.)
At this point, Susan has gotten a referral for a dog trainer in the area who’s supposed to be top notch, and the trainer will be by this Sunday afternoon.   So we’ll see where it goes from there…

Lombard Skating Meet 2012:

Meredith is skating this weekend at a meet in Lombard, Illinois, at her ‘home rink’. Times are approximate and could be up to an hour either way, though Saturday should be pretty accurate – they need to finish by 11 am for skating classes for little kids.

Singles 8:45 am
JWC Pairs (short program) 10:10

Fresh/Soph A pairs 11:45
JWC Pairs (long program) 7pm

Unfortunately, she has to be at the rink on Sunday at 5 am for a practice session on Figures (which is around 8 am that same morning), but I generally don’t encourage folks to watch that – it’s horribly boring to watch, really. Good for teaching skates fine control, but a yawnfest to watch.

Susan is also doing special stuff for the local skating club – using her l33t Photoshop and tech skills to make ID buttons for staff and some Mothers’ Day buttons for the Moms in the audience.  I will be at the rink for the events, but not all the time before or after, and probably not during Sunday afternoon.  (It’s going to be hard for me to get around and be comfortable with the level of crowds at these things – and I have a blue ton of things to do at home.)


Foot stuff:

I really haven’t updated on this subject for a bit. My podiatric surgeon has been working on me weekly with a type of skin graft on my foot – called Dermagraft “Re-epithelialization — assists in the restoration of the dermal bed, allowing wounds to heal” is what the website says it’s doing, and the more I’m not putting any pressure on my left (wounded) foot, the better it will heal.

The problem has been in making it possible to truly be off my foot; it’s easy to say, harder to do. It has meant a major revision of how things are done here, in more ways than you would think.

First off: for getting around, I’m on crutches or my kneeling scooter almost all the time. I can lumber over to the John from our bed – about 15 steps, being careful not to walk on any part of my left foot aside of the heel. There’s a couple of other exception like that, but not many.

This is a gigantic PITA, for obvious reasons. If you are on crutches, you really can’t carry things around in your hands. This means I have to ask for help on a lot of things, which gets old for everyone after a while. Otherwise, I have had to improvise all sorts of carry bags that work like backpacks or can be improvised to get a long shoulder strap to hang on via the shoulder and around the neck.

It also means that I can’t move fast, so bolting for a phone in the other room is a near-impossibility. I have to make sure I have essentials with me in a carry bag all the time, making sure that the items stick with me – searches for keys or wallet or whatever become much more of a hassle.

On the big plus side, it’s working to heal my foot, after nearly four and a half years of wretchedness. The podiatrist- surgeon thinks that at this rate, it will be healed within 2 to 4 weeks. I don’t trust that estimate, because my healing is so erratic (due to the underlying leukemia) and I’m guessing twice that…but nobody knows for certain.

I have decided, however, to make sure that once my foot heals, my first priority will be to take a trip back to family and friends in Ohio. More on that on another rock.

Mellow and Beautiful:


On the positive end of things, the podiatric surgeon said that my foot is looking a whole lot better, and that the whole stay-off-it routine is working.  He did say that a stay at a rehab place is not going to be covered by insurance, and that my only real option is staying at home off my foot.

On the other hand, I’ve had MAJOR frustrations re work; the VPN connections to work have dried up, and aren’t working, and other stuff on my work laptop is jamming up.  I’ve been asking and asking for help to come out here – and the office’s network support people saying, “gee, beats me” over the phone is not helping, especially since my boss is annoyed as to Why Isn’t This Taken Care Of?  The tech from work has made and broken several appointments recently to come out here, and was supposed to come out (again) today – and hadn’t responded to questions about when he’s coming out.  Finally had to make a huge stink about it – I basically am too tenderhearted to kick hiney and scream about this sort of thing, but I can’t get anything done otherwise.

After a flurry of emails and calls this morning, he just called and said he’d be here early this afternoon.  For What That’s Worth.

Romeoville 2012 Meet: Skating

I was delighted!  Mere took a 1st place in pairs, 1st place in Singles/C-Class and 2d place in Singles/B-Class..beating some girls who were *good* skaters.  She was very VERY happy.  This will, however, move her up to Singles/A-Class in the future….tougher competition.

Over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, she’s going off with her coach and his family (including her pairs partner, Eric) to the Donora Invitational – a high-visibilty event.  She has been practicing like mad with her new routines, and I hope and expect that she’ll do well with that!

The next local meet is on Mother’s Day in May, at the Lombard Rink (our home rink).

Capricon: panel schedule

Alternate History that Doesn’t Involve WW2 or the Civil War – Friday, 02-10-2012 – 11:30 am to 1:00 pm – Birch B
As any judge for the Sidewise Awards knows, hundreds of Alternate History stories come out each year. Though many of them seem to fixate on World War II and the Civil War, some find more unique points in history for a divergence. What are some of the best Alternate History stories that explore underutilized periods in history?
Walt Boyes (M)
Dale Cozort
Mark Huston
Jim Rittenhouse
Steven H Silver

Off to fields anew:

…or something like that. I’m exhausted and shutting down for the night; we’ve been packing up for the trip to Sioux Falls tonight, and leaving around 9 in the morning.  The memorial service is 1-4 on Saturday afternoon, and we’ll be seeing friends and family beforehand and coming back next Monday.

And yes, I’ll peek in from time to time in the meantime.  Later.

Going on:

Connie, my mother-in-law, died tonight at 11:28 pm, Central Time, here at our home in Lisle.  Susan, Meredith and I were all with her at the time.

She had been sliding downhill breathing-wise for the last couple of days, and was having a lot of trouble tonight; the oxygen machine was having problems as well, and it finally got fixed shortly before she died.  The nurse was coming here for some help with her breathing, and ended up getting here in time for Connie to give her last breaths.  She’s here now, calling the coroner’s office and the crematory folks.

Mere is hard to read, but she was crying a little.  Susan is pretty OK all things considered, but she’s very sad and very very weary, and we’re all worn out and exhausted in all directions as we try to deal with the details.  The hospice folks will be here tomorrow to take the equipment back, and the crematory folks will be here for Connie in the morning at 8 am.

The present plans are to take the ashes back to Sioux Falls and have a Memorial service in January; more details on that later.  More details on everything later.

I told her to say hello to Jackie (my mom) when she saw her for me…


Mere didn’t go to practice this morning; all of us were really profoundly tired and under the weather, especially Susan, who has really been ganked by her sinus infection.  Nobody had a lot of energy to do anything; Meredith decided to cook supper up from scratch, and did a pretty darn fair job of it.  Last I saw her, she had finished her homemade chocolate and peanut butter ice cream and was working on how to create an origami shuriken from a you tube video.

When I mentioned to Mere tonight that her mom and I had some interestingly good news, she replied, “Sissy is coming?”  Unfortunately not, kid.  Susan’s Aunt Marlyce was going to come by on Wednesday noontime, and watch Connie while the rest of us went off for a nice lunch at Meredith’s favorite restaurant.  Not as good as Sissy, but…

Connie’s gotten significantly weaker; she’s barely able to do anything in the very basic end…and her breathing is getting very slow and shallow.   Susan’s been in with her all day and says that she’s just sliding out; we have to syringe what little water she can handle in her mouth without choking.  I’m beginning to think that the end is tonight or tomorrow, but we’ve thought that before….



Connie was making more noises yesterday about being ‘ready to go’, and voiced her impatience in the speed of the process, as in ‘let’s just get this over with’ or some such.  Most of the time, she sleeps quietly in her bed, and we check in on her to see if she’s still going strong – well, sort of strong.

So far, the holiday season has been a lifeless thing.  Our dear friends Kathy and Zack came over to assist Mere with getting up and decorating the tree; Susan was busy with Connie and I was sleeping, have been up all night with a very restless and fearful Connie.  Sinterklaas was a total non-event.  And we’re trying to get the last things in for our ‘light’ Christmas…we don’t have the money to do a lot, and we’re postponing most of it to Groundhog Day (Susan’s birthday) when all this should be over with and our money situation should be better.

For a strong traditionalist like me, who delights in family fun holiday stuff, this is torture.  I’ve resigned myself to not fighting this hard because I know that there’s no real option otherwise, but I hate it deeply all the same.  And no, I’m not mad at anyone about it – that’s stupid and pointless and wrong.  I just seriously hate that it’s going down the drain, and that it’s going to take a lot to kick-start things back into gear for next year.   Ghosts of happier days haunt me.



While Susan and Mere were at a school concert (Mere’s a flautist in the orchestra) I was home watching Connie with the three dogs.  As soon as they left, however, Jack went through a huge fit of separation anxiety – aroo, aroo, whine **screeeech** barkbarkbark.

This went on for over two hours, pretty endlessly.  This then got the other two barking; when they’re in the mood, they’ll bark at anything or nothing, but it’s rare.  This time, with all three of them cutting loose, Connie started waking up, confused and upset.

Connie hasn’t eaten or emptied her bowels for over two weeks, but she’s still running…Susan’s best guess is that she ate well enough earlier that she’s running on reserves.  In any case, Connie got scared and flustered, and I had to try to calm her down, and call the idiot (barkbark**screeeech*howl) dogs down.  I even got Jack up on my lap, quivering like mad, and tried to pet and comfort him to keep him calm.

The first couple of times, Jack stayed there for a few minutes, jumped down, ran to the front door and cut loose again, starting the whole cycle up.  I finally went out, picked up Jack, brought him back into Connie’s room where I was sitting, and tried to comfort him.  He proceeded to pee all over me, and jumped down and got another chorus going.

Finally, the other two dogs decided they were bored with this, and that made it possible to get Connie to stay calmed down – but not Jack, who I’m considering making into a small dish of poodle stew.  When Mere and Susan came back, though – oh, rapturous delight, my mommy is home!!!

Jack, the dog:

Some months ago, Susan put her name in for a possible dog adoption with Poodle rescue; she had a small black poodle as a kid, and was very attached to it. In this case, especially with the present situation, it was rather surprising that a dog that fit her requirements came available – and we went off on a VERY long mission to get the dog on Sunday (from early afternoon to 11ish at night, from Lisle to Milwaukee to Madison and back home again).
The idea was that the dog (a black toy poodle named Jack, whose owners were too elderly and sick to keep him) would be Mere’s special dog – that his training, feeding and so on was for her to handle. She would have to bond with the dog.

So far, the dog has VERY much taken to her, and she to the dog. He’s protective of her, and devoted to her, and vice versa. And hopefully, her involvement with the dog will help her get through all this.

Lousy night:

Susan went to bed early, coming down with a cold and just exhausted physically and mentally.  I offered (while I was trying to catch up on laundry) to look after Connie after she went to bed.  Didn’t expect it to be an up-all-night affair.

Connie started really getting confused and agitated; she wanted to get up out of bed, and started saying (totally non-Connie-ish) that she was going to kill someone; apparently, she was getting it into her head that someone had PUT her in that bed, unable to get up. She accused me of drugging her with something in the water, was sure that the doctors could do something, but I wasn’t letting them in, and so on.   When I tried again explaining about the cancer, she point-blank refused to believe that was the case, and got angry.  (I’m just glad Susan didn’t have to hear that in person.)  it was awful, and I went through this more than once.

This on and off has been going on all night; I had to awaken Susan once to get Connie moved around in a big way early on, but Connie’s been waking up every 30-60 minutes scared as hell, and repeating the cycle, and it takes me a while to get her calmed down again.  Susan’s been dead to the world…

Today, (Saturday) we were supposed to have friends over to help with putting up and decorating the tree, and then leaving in the early afternoon to go to Milwaukee to pick up a dog – a rescue black toy poodle named Jack.  The idea presented by Susan is that this is supposed to be Mere’s dog, and that she will be responsible for him.  (Susan had put her name in for a rescue adoption many months ago, and both she and Mere are totally into the idea of getting the dog; Susan had a black poodle named Cleo that she was terribly fond of as a child.)  We’re supposed to meet the dog’s foster-owner at a custard joint in the late afternoon.

I’m not sure at this rate how awake I will be for any of the above during Sunday.  More later.


Not yet:

It’s been a very strange day, to say the least.  Connie is still with us, even joking to Susan and Connie’s sister Marlyce about things.  Quoting Susan:

Mom hasn’t lost her sense of humor.  Marlyce was telling her that she would take care of me for her.  Mom very seriously told her that she knew she would, and “Don’t be too nosey”.  Cracked us both up.

Mom doesn’t want to be alone, so we told her that we’d stay with her.  I gave Marlyce my Kindle and asked what she liked to read.  She said murder mysteries.  We thought Mom was settling down to sleep for a while, then she replied “who killed Connie”.  She smiled and said “it’s a joke”. 

She had a few active bursts, and long stretches of drugged sleep; I can’t imagine what her pain levels would be without the morphine.  Right now, Susan thinks she’s coming down with a cold, and went to be around 8 pm. I’ve been tired and logy all day long; ran some errands and did some housework – including as much laundry as I can get in.

Tomorrow sounds like a very busy day…Marlyce will be coming back to look after Connie for a little while, while we go on a trip up to Milwaukee to bring home a new member of the household, named Jack…

Coming down the stretch:

Yesterday, Connie just would not let Susan get very far from her – as a comfort, a rock, someone to keep the fear away.  I went out last night for dinner with some friends, and came back to find Susan just where she had been; in a chair next to Connie’s bed, keeping an eye on her.  I was very tired and went to bed soon after; Susan was supposed to come to bed then, but was up for another hour and a half; if Connie thought she was leaving, she would call out for Susan.

Both of them got a quiet night.  Soon after I woke up around 7 am, Connie stirred and called out, and I got Susan up out .  (Meredith was overnight at a friend’s house, and would call up shortly for me to pick her up and bring her back home.)

Connie told us that ‘today is my dying day’ at the start.  She had been going on about a ‘perfomance’, and now added that she wasn’t sure she was ready for the perfomance – needed more practice, needed to have her wardrobe ready. Even joked about having her red stripey shirt (a trademark of hers to her kids and grandkids) as part of the wardrobe!

Connie wanted to speak to various people: to her friend Bruce; to Susan’s brother Doug, his wife and kids in Sioux Falls – and to me. Bruce was talking with her about ‘how to let go’, which she wanted advice on…and to tell the Sioux Falls folks that she loved them.  (The two youngest couldn’t bring themselves to come to the phone.)

She really hasn’t been that interested in calling people during this, too hard, and too much energy she didn’t have to do it.

How things get odd:

“People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.”

-Dan Quayle, 1988

“When they incorporated the town, they tried a few names, but those already existed, and somebody wrote back saying we should try something more ‘peculiar.’ And, son, we did.”

– citizen of Peculiar, Missouri, quoted in the NYT (10/12/2008)

Connie is talking a little, but she’s very confused. She knows who we are, but not how she ended up in a bed, practically unable to move. She thinks either that she was badly beaten up or in an accident, and has no recollection of the whole cancer issue.

I tried to explain things to her, and she was saying ‘what about the doctors'; it was very very hard to tell her that the cancer had spread too far, and that the doctors had said that there was nothing they could do for her aside of keeping her comfortable.

That sort of thing is something you don’t want to hear over and over again.

Playing it out:

It’s pretty clear at this point that the bathroom fall, for any number of reasons, pushed Connie along on the path towards death.  She’s glassy eyed all the time, and has spoken only a couple of times – nothing all that clear or profound.  She’s lost in an incoherent jumble of dreams and past memories; needing to call in to a former supervisor in the school system she retired from years ago to ‘tell him I was in an accident and can’t come in.’

She doesn’t recognize much of anybody, in person or over the phone.

The other signs we were given about the progress towards death are coming up pretty steadily.  Last night, she wanted to watch TV, but couldn’t follow anything, and Susan came up with a bunch of old favorite songs of Connie’s on her iPod and let that run for a while.

We figure that it’s only a couple of days now.  Susan has done a lot of work on the arrangements for her cremation and the memorial service in January, so that’s pretty much lined up…and we wait for the inevitable, trying to keep her as comfortable as possible.   It’s not a pleasant wait.


We don’t **know** that the fall and injury caused anything specific; you’d have to get Connie to a scanner to know much of anything, and I doubt hospice would go for that, from the standpoint of ‘what’s the point, she’s about to die anyway?’   But from observing Connie since that happened, I’d say (my doctorate’s in law, not medicine) that it’s at least a contributing factor.   She’s just gone to **VACANT** too thoroughly and quickly since then.

Poor Mere is sleeping in this morning; was not a very happy birthday for her yesterday, and I feel for her. Even the dogs have been aware that something’s happening; Dot has been sticking with Connie all the time, and Dash is sleeping close to Mere a lot.

Closer to the edge, part 2:

As Connie weakened, and her anxiety increased, Susan’s load went further through the roof – she was horribly stressed and sleep deprived.  This got worse when a very weak Connie kept trying to get out of bed and go somewhere or do something; we finally had to have someone in the bedroom with her all the time at night to keep an eye on her, as she would wake up every two hours or so and try to get out of bed to ‘do stuff’.  The person on watch would end up sleep deprived and stressed, and there wasn’t much relief from it. And telling her not to do it didn’t make any difference; she’d just forget it in a few minutes.

On Tuesday, November 29th, I got up way early and couldn’t go back to sleep, and went off to work on my laptop in the dining room; Susan was in Connie’s bedroom sleeping.  Around 5:30 am, I heard noises in the back of the house towards the bedrooms – and thought it was our blind dog Dot trying to maneuver around.  And right after that, there was a huge, heavy CRASH that got me right out of my chair and woke up Susan; Connie had tried to get into the bathroom next to her room and had stumbled and fell to the floor, hard.

Her body blocked the door, and Susan had to squeeze in and see what was going on and try to get Connie back up.again.  Connie had cracked her head HARD on the tile floor, and there was a lot of blood from a nasty-looking head gash.  Susan and I got her out of there, cleaned her and the floor up, and took her into the living room recliner to rest.  I contacted Connie’s hospice folks, and they informed the twice-a-week nurse (who was coming that morning anyhow to check her out) about the fall.  I was also concerned about Connie from the standpoint of the hard head crack causing a concussion; I didn’t want to give her morphine and have that mask any concussion effects.

The nurse came at 8:30 am, and told us to move up her fentanyl patch dosage and the amount of morphine and lorazepam she was getting due to the increased pain levels and the sheer agony of the injury.  She zoned out soon after that, and Susan and I started to review our options.  And Connie didn’t need stitches for the cut.

One thing was certain; we couldn’t sustain this whole 24/7 close watch on her.  Over the days since then, we found that the options were limited to either (1) keep up her care at home, or (2) pay a lot of money we did not have to put her in a nursing home with trained nurses to watch her.  There wasn’t any public help available that was any significant use to us in this situation; Connie was on Medicare / Medicaid, but the state was very tight on this sort of thing and simply wouldn’t pay.

What hospice did do was to put better rails on the bed that were too difficult for Connie to deal with and too high to get over – and to dope her up further, as noted above.  Connie’s face was pretty messed up by the fall; she looked like she’d been on the losing end of a boxing match, with two black, swollen eyes and the scrapes, head knot and gash.  She swore to us over and over again that she would never try that sort of stunt again…

…but she was also sleeping a lot more, and her eyes started looking very vacant.  She’s forgotten who I am, and is either very spaced or not terribly coherent.  All that is progressing pretty quickly now; our advisors told us that once she was out of  the super-anxious stage, she’d slide into a near comatose state.  Seems to be playing out that way.

We also have a set of ‘jingle bells’ on the railing of the bed so she can call for assistance, and that’s working, and Susan’s catching up or her huge sleep deficit.

And Mere is starting to show the strain.  From Susan’s journal (December 1st):

Today is Meredith’s 12th birthday.  Not one we’ll look back on with happy memories. Marlyce came over this morning and sat with Mom so Jim and I could run some errands and stayed for dinner.  We got carryout from a local restaurant.  The food was not up to her expectations and Mom’s decline made for a somber meal.  Mere came home from school, expecting to see Grandma sitting in the living room and was upset that she wasn’t.  Meredith has always been very cheerful around Mom and usually comes home with a smile and a  “Hi Grandma”.  Today, Mom wasn’t able to respond.


It’s been a very tough day.  Mom is no longer able to get out of bed and isn’t really capable of responding to anything.  She can’t even turn over by herself.

Tonight, Susan and Connie’s sister Marlyce were taking close care of Connie, and I have no idea what was happening, but the broken-hearted looks of a very tired and very sad Susan told me enough- that Connie was probably failing further.  At this point, it looks like the fall will speed up the process quite a bit.  I saw this before when my Mom died of cancer nearly a decade ago, and I really hate seeing it again with such a sweet lady.

We called to wish Meredith Ellen a happy birthday, and ended up leaving a message.  Mere was obviously sad and unhappy this evening, and there wasn’t much we could say or do.


Closer to the edge, part 1:

MERE’s 12th birthday was today (December 1st), and the present situation was really overshadowing it.  Didn’t help that a new local Creole/Cajun Restaurant (selected by Mere) that we had eaten at during Windycon earlier in November was providing the birthday dinner via carry-out, and that the food was truly horrible.  Mere and I were shocked, and I think she was beyond disappointed.

THE REST OF EVERYTHING is crappy, to say the least.

CONNIE: I mentioned last time that she was getting weaker and more confused / anxious; it got a lot worse.  I’m going to excerpt from Susan’s journal on CaringBridge for Connie:

Mom is pretty much the same as my last post, except for her nightime confusion and inability to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time.  It’s essentially called sundowning where there is increased agitation and confusion in the evening hours and at night.  Mom sleeps (deeply) for much of the day, but gets really confused and anxious at night.  Since she is much more wobbly, we don’t trust her to walk to/from the bathroom by herself, but she will still try to do that at night because she doesn’t want to wake anyone up (and it’s something she’s always been able to do).  Besides, by the time she’s awake enough to realize that she needs to go to the bathroom, she’s already gone.  We have lots of laundry, now.

That we did.  We gave up on nightgowns because of her regular bouts of incontinence, and put washable and disposable pads everywhere plus pullups.  (As I write this, I’m in my office and more of the laundry is going through the machines.)

The hospice nurse told us that she couldn’t predict what would happen when, but we knew about various signs of ‘progress’ towards the end; Susan and I kept an eye on her for these, and they started to pile up.  From Susan’s journal:

  • Profound weakness — usually the patient cannot get out of bed and has trouble moving around in bed. (JIM: We were doing more and more to physically move her around in bed and to and from the commode.)
  • Needs help with nearly everything he or she does. May be unable to change positions in bed without help (Yes)
  • Less and less interest in food, often with very little food and fluid intake for days
  • More drowsiness — the patient may doze or sleep much of the time if pain is relieved. May be restless and pick or pull at bed linens. May be hard to rouse or wake. Anxiety, fear, restlessness, and loneliness may worsen at night  (Definitely)
  • Cannot concentrate, has short attention span (Definitely)
  • Confused about time, place, or people (at times.  She has confused me with Dorothy (her mother) and often asks “Who’s here?”  She has also talked of giving butch a ride (somewhere). Though she almost always notes 3pm because that is when Meredith gets out of school and it was her job for years to pick Mere up)
  • Involuntary movement of any muscle, jerking of hands, arms, legs, or face (Definitely)
  • Breathing may speed up and slow down due to less blood circulation and build up of waste products in the body  (Definitely.  Her heart rate and blood pressure are increasing because her heart is having to work harder.   She has almost no air movement in her left lung.  She has swelling in her feet and legs which mean that her kidneys are shutting down)
  • Mucus in the back of the throat may cause rattling or gurgling with each breath  (Definitely)
  • The patient may not breathe for periods of up 10 to 30 seconds  (Definitely)

All these were showing up in different ways; she’d come out of her bedroom and want to go into the living room and watch television all day.  At first, she was awake and kind of mindlessly watching a lot of daytime ‘reality’ TV; she stopped watching anything that was too demanding or too uncomfortable for her.  Then she started falling asleep for greater and greater periods of time, woken up now and again due to breathing problems (she had an oxygen machine since early September, and her lungs started to get clogged) or trips to the portable commode  next to her recliner.

And always, she was massively uncomfortable due to the pain from the tumor(s).  Most she interpreted as either hunger or  cramping lower back muscles that had her moving here and there and getting more meds and pillows and whatnot to try to avoid the worst of it.  Her meds doubled to cover the pain, but it served to increase the hazy mental issues and her deeper sleep and maybe stay ahead of the pain levels.

Home Front:

MERE had a birthday party sleepover with a bunch of her friends, manically had tons of fun with them, and is now sleeping – appears that some of the manic-ness was a cover for a flu or cold, so *she’s* down for the count tonight, tired, stuffed up, and miserable.

CONNIE is fading badly.  Sleeps practically all the time, is horribly confused and anxious a lot when sorta-awake, and doing a lot of morphine (up to 1ml every 2 hours) for the pain.  Her BP’s up, heart rate’s up, and she’s gotten profoundly weaker.  I expect that she’ll be pretty much bound to her bedroom by midweek; Susan and her Aunt Marlyce worked on re-arranging the furniture, and I have to work on setting up a TV for her to watch in there.  Horrible to watch this fade…

SUSAN has been working on planning the stuff for the memorial service and whatnot – better to do so now than to struggle to do so under even worse emotional stress than we have right now.

HOLIDAYS are being very muted.  Thanksgiving will be here with Me, Susan and Mere, plus Aunt Marlyce and her friend Carol, and essentially ‘catered’ in from a local restaurant.  We have no set plans for anything past that.  Not even when to set up the tree, et cetera.  I had to cancel the annual family dinner (the one that’s been going since 1951) because I simply couldn’t say whether something involved with Connie would force me to do so at the last minute.  Nobody’s had much spirit for anything, I guess.

I’m back at work again at my home office, but struggling with my files and records and piled up and mooshed around paperwork that now HAS to be gone through and dealt with.  Some items that I thought I could immediately find turned out to be lost in the morass, and I’m frantically trying to find them.

Just another way to skin:

Susan and I have had a couple of small VISA cards from (BIG ANNOYING BANK) for years; I dumped one account this year because they wanted to charge an outrageous fee for keeping the account open.  Trying to pay both of them off…and yes, (BIG ANNOYING BANK) is one of the outfits that is now skinning everyone for new profits since they took a hit from their Stupid Bank Tricks earlier.

Just got letters for both accounts basically saying that “We need to make more money, so unless you say no to each of these ten areas, we’re about to sell your information to all sorts of people who drive you crazy with BS offers.”  Needless to say, the letter, properly checked off, will go off in tomorrow’s mail.

Massively irritated.  Oh, I’ll never do business with these creeps again…

For Heaven’s sake:

On my Facebook list of ‘friends’, there ‘s a picture thing going around that looks like this:

I about blew a gasket on this one, and rather than bug people about it, figured I’d whip out my Lawyer and Historian hats and explain why this particular notion is a crock.

First off, the US Constitution (1st and 14th amendments) said all along that  the government is not allowed to bring any particular religious point of view in and say – this faith is better or more approved by the government than any other.

The reason for this was really simple – in most of the countries of Europe, you had an Official Religion of the Government; Catholicism, different variant Lutherans, Presbyterians (Scotland), and so on.  God blessed the ruler on top, and God’s blessing said that if the ruler was a Lutheran, you’d better be one too – or face a lot of other problems.  Extra taxes, can’t vote, few if any legal protections, can’t publicly worship in your chosen faith, and so on.

The reason that America got so popular is that it allowed a lot of people who didn’t care much for their ruler’s religion somewhere to go, and there were a lot of them, including pretty much any Christian church, and any non-Christians.  My Rittenhouse roots are from Mennonites who left Germany and the Netherlands to follow William Penn to the safe haven of Pennsylvania. Maryland took in Catholics, New England took in all sorts of odd Protestant groups, and so forth.  And Utah took in Mormons escaping persecution in the rest of the country.

When I was little, in the early 1960’s, they did have school prayer, all right – the principal or teacher would lead a prayer, and you had to say exactly the same prayer that they said, or get in trouble and be sent to the office on report.  If they made a Protestant kid say a Catholic prayer, or a Jewish kid say a very Christian prayer, that was just too bad, and you had to obey anyway.

(The people who usually push this may have some sort of idea that their religion would come out on top.  Don’t bet on it.)

The Supreme court decided in 1962 to stop this sort of thing, because you were having a agency of the state push a particular religious view down the throats of people.   When you mix Church and State, you are letting someone in the government pick a religion they like and use the power of the government against people who don’t follow that religion.  And, of course, people who disagree with any law in a church/state mix become people who are ‘against God’s will’…and can suffer horrible consequences.  Just ask the Jews of 20th century Europe.

You can’t stop people from praying to God privately in school; tons of kids do it every day, asking for all sorts of help and advice.  All the present laws do is forbid the people running the schools from pushing any kind of religion at the kids.  To me, that’s the job of the family and their temples, churches, what have you, to support and build up a love, interest and involvement in their faith. Not the assistant principal down the hall with a paddle.


Yes, Mere and I will be at Windycon on and off; we’re commuting, and will be dependent on Susan dropping us off over there, so I can’t say as to when you’ll see us. I’ll also not be terribly mobile; I’ll be using my scooter-thang to move around, but the hotel is spread out enough that it’s not a lot of fun to run all over the place.  I don’t have any specific commitments to be on panels, and Mere’s not working the con suite, so it’s hard to say where and when you might catch us!

Update on the household:

MERE is performing at her Lisle Junior High concert tonight; we’re going, of course.  She has been working on her flute and her new baby, a piccolo (think small, higher-pitched flute and remember what Yankee Doodle sounds like).  (sound example)  She was working on the material on and off all summer and steadily since then…all sorts of patriotic music for Veterans’ Day.

When Mere practices, it tends to be in rapid spurts at the spur of the moment; five minutes here and there, or ranging around for most of an hour.  There’s no outside rhyme or reason as to when and what; she just roars away at it.  Sometimes, she’ll use the band music; sometimes, she’ll dig through other sheet music – Neil Young, Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc.

She’s also on the high honor roll at school; I really want to be able to help her with homework, but she isn’t that hep on the idea…I’m too slow and involved for her taste in explaining things, I gather.  She goes through much of this sort of thing like she’s killing snakes – at Ramming Speed, using full blazing candlepower.  I grimace, and worry that she’s not going to know what to do when she gets beyond easier stuff and has to really dig…

SUSAN has her hands full.

CONNIE is steadily declining as the cancer spreads; the pain from it is enough that she takes in quite a bit of morphine for pain and various anti-nausea drugs and dozes a lot.  She’s getting congested in her left lung, her eyesight and hearing have dropped a good deal, and she’s easily anxious about all sorts of trivia.  Again, just the disease process.

Old friends from South Dakota have dropped all sorts of cards and notes to her, along with emails; she’s had a few visits from folks, most especially her old pal Bruce, who was here a few times recently – and has been very helpful to us (various important handyman and outdoor stuff we couldn’t do or get to) and to her (dealing with her impending death, with lots of long religious/philosophical talks).

Of course, we all know that she’s well into the process, but it’s hard for anyone to say how long she has left – there’s been enough in the way of odd twists and turns already.  We’re re-doing the usual Thanksgiving celebration; it’s going to be here, because I doubt Connie would be able to leave the house.  We’re still going to have the ‘holiday’ dinner in mid-December from my family – going on since 1951 – but it will be someplace really close, because it would be too hard on Connie for us not to be at the house for very long, even with a person minding her.

Today and yesterday, Connie’s sister Marlyce has been with her during the day, looking after her; since I’m limited by my foot, and my car has been in the shop this week, the extra pair and hands and care are very helpful.


I’m over a week late with this update on What’s Going One Here, so please bear with me.  It’s been a difficult time.

The timeline goes like this:  Originally, I had serious problems with my left foot; they couldn’t image up anything, but the podiatrist / surgeon knew that something soft-tissue-ish was growing in my foot and creating that sore on the bottom of my left foot, against the left-center edge.  Said sore area was way tender to damn painful, and there was a bulge on the side of the foot (not the bottom) that was next to it and likewise quite painful.

So I had surgery on my left foot the day after Labor Day (September 7th) to fix the problem. The surgeon took out a couple of lumps of fibrous tissue, which he thought would relieve the pressure and allow the sore to heal up.  This didn’t really happen.  The lump in question grew after surgery, swelled a lot more, and got to be 9.5 on a 10 scale painful – and not mitigated very much by strong pain killers.

Around Friday, October 21st, the podiatrist gave up and went on a hunch that the ‘lump’ was inflated with loose fluid, and drew out 40 cc’s of bloody (not obviously infected) fluid.  Very quickly after he did, the whole lower half of my foot rapidly became nastily inflamed with a massive infection, and I hauled it and me into the ER at Edward Hospital for treatment the next Monday morning (October 24th).

Sure enough, the cellulitis /infection was stomped with intravenous Zosyn and Ancef over 6 days.  Midway through my stay, the podiatrist / surgeon operated again and drained out more fluid and took out a bunch of scar tissue inside that had grown in since the September 7th surgery!  Through a lot of this, I was seriously loaded up with Norco and was enduring very serious levels of pain…

I was sent home with Keflex orally (six 500 mg tabs a day for 10 days), as the latest bug was a penicillin-resistant Staph Aureus breed, and have been laid up, with strong orders to Stay Off The Foot.   So I’m doing a lot of lying or sitting around with my feet propped up, walking with a crutch or scooting with my Roll-about.  But not lifting stuff, and keeping the foot elevated and weight-free as much as possible, with regular bandage changes and so on.

The area had gotten very raw, and a good chunk of my foot looks pretty horrible, but the doc says that he’s seeing plenty of promising signs of healing – especially around the sore, which is fantastic news.  All in all, my mangled foot problems have seriously messed me over for four years, and I’m beyond tired of it all.

Otherwise, I’m also making some strides in straightening out my sleep problems.  I have had terrible insomnia for a long time, and recently signed up with a new set of docs and meds on this issue;

  • more directed attention to things like my CPAP pressures and equipment
  • meds to get me to sleep and keep me asleep; I have a bad habit of either not being able to get to sleep or waking up about four hours in and not being able to get back to sleep, and now have Trazodone and Sonata to handle those.

However, being in the hospital with all sots of people going in and out of your room at odd hours (poking you, giving you meds, checking to see if your body assimilates oxygen, and so forth…) means that one’s sleep-the-night -through efforts get hashed up.  Add in the pain from the foot – which was severe and is now a lot better – coming and going, and I wasn’t able to sleep more than two-three hours at a time in the hospital.


Oh, no:

Collecting my stuff and up late doing it; I expect to be checking into Edwards Hospital for a 3-4 day stay for other foot infection..

Look at your left (bare) foot, and go down the left side to about the middle.  That’s where the right-after Labor-Day surgery took place.  Imagine that there’s a bulge of sore tissue over there on the edge, and an open area on the bottom of the foot about an inch-plus toward the middle of the bottom of my foot.  That’s a rough description of where I was after the surgery.

The bulge dropped down after the surgery, and started swelling and hurting like mad.  The podiatrist and I were doing everything we could think of to reduce it, but it got larger, sore-er and redder – and more sensitive to touch.,  Over the last week or so, my pain levels soared to a 8-9 on a 10 scale, and I was taking a lot of painkillers to deal with it,

The podiatrist drained a bunch of fluid from it late last week, and I hoped that would do the trick.  Nope.  Over the weekend, the upper third of my foot has looked worse and worse, and the MRI that the podiatrist ordered for Monday morning is going to be more like the first stage to me being admitted for IV antibiotic treatment of the foot.  I really don’t see a way around it.

Booklistings and WordPress:

I used to have a WordPress plugin/widget on the site a while back that you could input books that you had on your just-read pile, your about-to-read pile, and so on…and be able to have the whole thing be a part of the site.  As these things come and go, I’m looking to put up a new one, but I’m not getting a lot of luck doing searches on ‘library’ or ‘book’ or ‘booklist’ on the Widgets/plugins search function on the site dashboard.  If anyone out there has a suggestion, I’m interested in hearing it.

In bits of spare time, I want to prune and revive the use of the basic site, and that’s a part of it all…

Another family update:

  • Meredith is starting to ease back in to her skating training; some of the aerial maneuvers that she was talking about picking up made my heart go THUD-CREAK, but the coach and the kids know what they are doing. *grimace*
  • Her sister’s family recently moved from a big city to farm area in another state, reasonably close to a medium sized city.  Susan and I think that our city girl is going to have some OMGBUGSFLEE! moments when she goes down to visit…
  • Connie is holding her own, all things considered, but her morphine intake (for pain)  is steadily going up. Been having a lot of annoyances with adjusting the feed / drip levels on the gastric tube feeding system – fast enough that it doesn’t take two hours a bag, but slow enough that she won’t experience nausea.  Also, the feed / drip tends to get difficult; one sec you think you have it going at a good speed, then it stops, and you restart, etc.etc.
  • We’ve been trying to think of something more stimulating for her to read or take up her time, and I got in a book that she and I had been waiting for – Sharon Kay Penman’s LIONHEART, part of a series of historical fiction novels about the English Crown from about 1100 to 1200 or so.  Problem is that Connie’s eyesight was messed up by the chemo, so she can’t read a standard book – and so far, nothing else is available.  Susan and I are thinking that failing all else, we’ll read the book aloud to her in turns…
  • Susan is working on a huge project in stray moments; first part is in taking a mass of scanned photos of her general family group over the last 90-100 years or so, and organizing and labeling the things, and the second is to capture stories and songs of Connie’s that the grandkids are fond of – to get them in typed form, and then to have Connie record them the way she would say them to mp3s.  And, of course, time is relentless as to how much time she has to get Grandma Connie’s help…
  • Personally, I’m coming back from the stomach bug; still awfully tired, still sensitive in what I can eat and trying to get the GI tract back in regular order.  Hope to have everything back in shape well before next weekend!
  • I have as usual a bumper crop of household projects to crank on as I become more able; another big purge of my library to give Susan more space for her stuff, purging of my digital collections, you name it.  Not looking forward to that, and I’m expand on why in another post.
  • Connie’s old pal Bruce is here for another week, and he’s been great with Mere, Connie and just generally being helpful – on things like outdoors weeding, and also on investigating a nasty, messy leak that’s cropped up from our upstairs tub’s plumbing.

Ancient History:

I get some of my odd stuff through Twitter scans; doing so, I recently ran across @historyancient, which is a feed of new articles dug up from all over the place on the internet and filtered and presented in a blog that I highly recommend:

History of the Ancient World  Ancient History News and Resources

Seriously neat stuff in there, and the area coverage (geographically) is all over the place.

Keeping occupied:

People have been asking in all sorts of ways as to how I’ve been doing since the surgery; the answer is that I’m still off my feet, still in a doctors care, but doing better.

The foot surgery was held up for several hours because, as usual, people were having a lot of trouble getting an IV into me. Including the anesthesiologist, who was somewhat elderly and shaky…I’ve always been a horrible stick, and this was a world-class performance of Hide the Vein! It runs, it hides, it shrinks from the needle. Lots of fun being poked full of dry holes, so to speak.

The surgeon found two growths that were helping cause all of the pressure…about an inch thick. Luckily, they weren’t malignant, and they’re out now, The area is healing *slowly*, but its still swollen and often painful. I’m able NOW to get around without a walker, crutches or Roll-a-bout all the time, but still cant carry much of anything, or walk very far, stand for any real length of time, and its annoying. Still taking Norco for pain, which comes and goes.

This hasn’t really resolved the underlying problem with the sore on my foot being open, however…just stopped the progression of pain and having it get bigger. Which is something, of course, but I really need this to heal up and stay healed.

The day after Columbus Day, I go back to work (in my basement office), with a whole new situation…my boss for the last 20 years got reassigned by management, and then got another job in the agency that more fits her talents. So right now, I have an acting boss who is a very nice guy (no, I don’t want a managers job) and no idea who will take the job permanently.  Last time this happened over 20 years ago, I got a boss-from-hell who was actively trying to force me to leave the agency.

On top of that, there’s been a major reorganization, and all of the external work on the agency’s site is being transferred to other hands in order to consolidate it to a very few. This was rather sudden, and I have to re-gear myself and my duties to different areas. It is what it is, and that’s all I’ll say here.

This week, since Wednesday, Ive been nailed by a gut virus that saps all of my energy…sleeping on and on all day and night with brief breaks.  Very very not fun, especially since an old family friend is in town this weekend to look after Mere and Connie, so that Susan and I could get away for a day or so and celebrate our 17th anniversary. If nothing else, Susan will be able to get some much-needed rest and de-stressing while I do a Rip Van Winkle imitation, but that’s not the romantic part I care for at all.

I remember Pancho White Villa and the Revolutionary Three Stooges Brigade:

Just sayin’.    I see that they don’t have Ronald Reagan there; a local semi-revolutionary whose ‘name’ was ‘Pancho White Villa’  (White Villa was a now-gone Dayton area food processor) and his ‘Revolutionary Three Stooges Brigade’ pied Reagan in the Oregon district of Dayton on a campaign swing in the 70’s.

From a Dutch magazine (translated):


As in the case of Anita Bryant, the majority of the work carried out by teams better pie. In addition, the Groucho Marxists of Vancouver and the 3 Stooges Revolutionary Brigade of Dayton, Ohio, the most successful. Both have countless pie-jobs’ in place and the pie-throwers without exception supported by the frame to escape.

The victims of Groucho Marxist Frankie Lee include the former radical Eldridge Cleaver, psycho-surgeon José Delgado and two ministers from the Trudeau government, Bill Vander Zalm and Marc Lalonde. Rake on each cake was a clear press release. Brain Surgeon Delgado was hit by a mixture of cow brains and tomato paste. Eldridge Cleaver, the former revolutionary who had suddenly discovered Jews and preached everywhere, was an audience of 1,500 Christian children in a horrible way to hit a hit as you rarely see. Questioning the New-Coyote Brigade betaartte another Minister Trudeau, Ron Basford, due to the expulsion of helping American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier to the U.S..

Unlike the easily entertained American media, rebuked the Canadian press the politicians for their nonchalant reaction. A columnist huffed: “Driven terrorists hijack airplanes, cowardly … throw pies Pie Throwing is the easy way to get rid of it”. The Vancouver cake layers, liberal helplessness and verbal abuse in the newspapers it helped that the Trudeau government was defeated in the elections and the Conservatives came to power. This is similar to the riots in Chicago, Yippie who helped Nixon to power.

The 3 Stooges Revolutionary Brigade (R3SB) holds with their infamous purposes betaartingen usually local in nature. A spokesman for Dayton’s electric utility, for example, or a SWAT team cop of the arrest. R3SB joints also sent to public and celebrities like Grandma Carter organized giant Mother’s Smoke-ins. Their most famous action was the poet Rod McKuen, by Pancho Villa White was fitted with a sugar-syrup pie.

Pancho: “McKuen’s America’s most wretched poet. It appeals to the lowest common denominators. While other countries are represented by legs as Pablo Neruda, we are saddled with him. His poetry is junk food.” The statement following the tails of the man of the electricity, “although not of national importance, this was a classic local pie murder. In everyday life, playing local bastards often a more important role than some abstract national leader. Everybody likes to those chasing up their electricity bills, hit by a pie to be seen. ” GEB’er later denied to the press that he had ever touched. “That may be” responded the brigade “but if he walks around with a face still full of sticky pastries.”

Ants ants ants:

We seem to be having a problem in the back yard with carpenter ants; this is the stuff that I’ve been digging up about it, looking for the method that gets the job done and isn’t horribly toxic,  Unfortunately, it looks like the best thing to do is to hire a pest guy and have him poison the gregarious little stinkers.

If any of y’all have an idea of how to handle them, let me know….


CONNIE: Her 70th birthday was last Thursday, and she’s had visits that day and since by her sister Marlyce, nurses from hospice, our Minister Rev. Kitty, and my BIL Doug, who stopped by for Saturday and Sunday to see his mom as a break from his long-distance truck job.  There’s been a steady flow of cards, notes, flowers and calls from others, and generally, Connie’s not up much to talking on the phone.  Too demanding of her strength.

Generally, it’s a day by day up and down as to how easily she gets worn out and then sleeps a lot.  Mostly, she sits in the living room about the time that everyone else gets up (say, 6:30 or so) and stays there till we all go to bed (9:30-10:30 pm) watching all sorts of reality TV (Judge Whoever, Dr. Phil, etc) and some sitcoms and news.  And dozing on and off.

Hospice is in control of her care, and so far, I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen…she has regular visits from a nurses’ aid for baths, regular checkups from the nurse, and supplies keep coming easily.  I’m concerned because the stuff that they prescribed for her for a blood thinner is just way too expensive to continue with (most is paid for by Medicare, but there’s a high copay that isn’t – about $200 a week or so) and so we’re resorting to meds that aren’t as well-tuned to be effective, but are incredibly cheaper.

Aside of problems with her lower GI tract from time to time, there’s been little change from all this.  Something could happen tonight or next month.

Been quiet on this:

Even if I were still a Republican, I think I would have been one of those people who were not terribly impressed with the ‘talent’ available that’s running for the GOP Presidential nomination.

Too many people have suddenly made major ‘conversions’ to more ‘conservative’ positions out of the blue – because they suddenly decided that their interest in being President beats out their personal judgement or principles.  If that’s so, I simply wouldn’t consider their judgement, honesty or ability to do things that were hard for them but necessary for the country.

Too many candidates are trying to use really stupid scare-the-public statements to get public interest…or making outright lies, like ‘I’ll make gas $2 a gallon again’ that they can’t really accomplish, but if you, as a member of the voting public, are gullible enough to buy the fear or greed, it suits them.

There’s also been a number of burn-and-crash situations, where the more you find out about the candidate, the more you realize that they are phonies, liars, cheats and hypocrites.  Or that their personal lives and/or wallets are corrupt, usually on the same things that they rail about in speeches about other people. The more I hear someone going on about their superior morals or patriotism, the harder I hold on to my wallet.

And remember; it’s still pretty early in the process, and all of the crapola hasn’t come out yet.  John Edward’s disastrous affair didn’t come out in the media until after the 2008 primaries were over, a long time after the affair began.  It took over two years for us to hear the name ‘Monica Lewinsky’ after that affair started in the Oval Office.  Expect more of the same.  Unfortunate, but generally true.

More and More:

Connie is sleeping soundly behind me as I write this in the living room (my PC was brought upstairs) and some tinkly new age music is playing as a background.

Actually, it’s very relaxing!

My surgeon saw me this morning, and told me that I was healing on the incision VERY well, and he’d see me in two weeks to take out the stitches.  Nothing yet back from pathology, but he swears that it did NOT look malignant to him.

Connie came home on hospice care yesterday, and she’s using a oxygen tank system – portable on wheels, acts as a compressor / CPAP sort of machine.  We have her on different meds, including a anti-coagulant that is horribly expensive…and that’s after taking off $1000 / week that medical insurance is willing to pay on it.   The hospice people basically took over in regard to care and equipment, and I was busy a lot of yesterday hunting down various outfits that had brought in equipment for her to take it back.

One such outfit said that they couldn’t take back the oxygen tanks used to get her here – that a doctor would have to order them to, or she’d have to pass on.  Gee, thanks, guys.   Another said – well, that CPAP will be paid for in October and released to you guys in November, so let’s just wait and see…**sigh**

There’s flowers and poems here for Connie, sent in by friends, a bulletin board full of get-well cards, various treatment and feeding stuff, and – well, we have no idea what will come next, or when.  We just hang on.


And now, the news:

The real underlying news is that Connie’s condition has been really going downhill since Doug and his family left; Tuesday night (actually, about 3 am Wednesday) Connie started having pains, a racing heart rate and other troubles; Susan quickly decided that whatever was going on was way serious, and called up an ambulance – which took her to nearby Edward Hospital (not Loyola Hospital in moderately-far Maywood, which is where all of her cancer treatments and GP were based).

Susan and Mere got in her SUV and took off to Edward Hospital, and were there on and off all Wednesday and today by herself.  I went over Wednesday evening with them, but Connie was very under the weather and could barely speak.

They figured out pretty quickly that what was happening was that Connie had built up a large number of blood clots in her lungs and legs, with a particularly big one in her lung that really bothered them.  According to the hematologist I spoke with, Connie’s blood was particularly ‘sticky’ due to the cancer, and it would be tricky to put the right amount of thinners or clot-buster stuff in her without risking something going wrong.  What they did do late Wednesday, just before we got there in the evening, was to put a clot-filter in her vena cava to prevent a pulmonary embolism.

I don’t have a total understanding of where things are after today; Susan was talking to them, but she hasn’t told me many details; she’s really exhausted and stressed, and I wasn’t pushing.  Connie has decided not to do any further chemo, and has been set up for hospice care at home (they sent over a hospital bed, oxygen and a few other things) and has been in serious pain from all of this.  She’s coming home sometime tomorrow…

I don’t  expect miracles on this at this point.  I’ve had a good friend die suddenly from an embolism, and I didn’t hear anything about any major clot successes today.  It’s not looking good at all, in a shorter time than I expected.

A lot of today was spent (for me) calling up people and answering the phone, setting this or that up and making some arrangements.  I’m very sad to Connie, and most of all for Susan and Doug and the kids, because I’ve always known that the closeness and love they’ve had to one of the most loveable people I’ve ever met (you could NOT ask for a better mother-in-law) would make her passing beyond agony – for them.  For her, I think she’s not willing to go through more of this, that she would have far rather lived a good deal longer (she turns 70 in a few days) and seen the grandchildren blossom, but that she’s ready to go.

And me, I will most definitely grieve.  She’s been a wonderful, fun person to know and just easy to love.  I will miss her enormously.  And I will do what I can to comfort Mere and Susan from this end.

Feet first:

The surgery took place late on Tuesday morning; the pain levels are not what I had feared, and I’m doing moderately well.  I am taking Norco for the pain; it makes me sleepy and foggy.  A few things of note:

(1) Surgery was supposed to start hours before it did; I’m a very tough ‘stick’ for things like IVs, and I was a little dehydrated, so it was a serious mess getting my IV in.  Didn’t help that they didn’t take my advice on where to get the best veins for almost all of that time (the backs of my hands), and the anesthesiologist was really upset that he wasn’t getting it and had to stop and take care of other surgery cases and come back later.  Must have been drilled 17 times…

(2) The surgeon told me that he found two ‘growth’ or ‘masses’ in my foot that were causing all the problems.  He didn’t recognize what they were, but they didn’t look nasty to him – he sent them to pathology to be looked at anyway.  That worries me a little…I’ll see him on Saturday and see what the results were and where we go from here.

(3) I’m up in the main floor of the house.  My PC is up from the basement, on a small desk in the living room next to the TV, and I’ve been out only once (to see Connie in her hospital room yesterday for a few hours).  Basically, I rotate from an armchair in the living room (to watch TV), a chair at that aforementioned desk (for putzing on the PC) with my feet up as much as possible, and the bedroom (ZZZZ).

Due to stuff going on, which I’ll describe in my next post, I’ve been doing a lot of stuff on the PC and phone to talk to X about Y, looking up stuff and taking care of it, and so on.  The new setup has my docs scanner, and I need to do a lot of stuff with scanning mail/bills/reciepts to our house archives and working on a household financial system.  And just sitting back and watching some canned TV and movies from the TiVo.  Frankly, I’ve been too busy to do much of that; I’ve been catching up a little on my reading from my Kindle DX for entertainment.

See you on the other side…

Still feeling groggy today; got woken up enough times during the night with people going to the john (and Dot the Dog trying to ram her way past the gate at the top of the basement stairs to find a dog that had left earlier that day – thought it was someone trying to break in with all that racket).

End result was that I had some trouble trying to go back to sleep; when I did, I slept until 11 am – a total of eight plus hours.  The groggy was balanced off by a dose of being pissed off; that and three cups of coffee and my ADD meds kept me going to now…9:30 pm.  And feeling stressed, but tired…

It’s been a very busy weekend; Susan’s brother Doug, his wife Becky and their four kids came to say what could well be their goodbye to Connie.  The weekend was very busy,  and everyone had a good time hanging out and doing a few things, like going out bowling (my feet don’t fit bowling shoes and I’m having a lot of pain trouble with my feet right now, so I didn’t go) and a set of family pictures with everyone (first time we’d had all of them here for several years) that look very good.  The real farewell session on Sunday was very emotional for everyone, and that’s all I’ll say about that.  (.Mere was off on a sleepover and wasn’t here for that.)

Back to Labor Day: Worked hard all day trying to clean the house, run errands, do laundry from 11 to now, and trying to pack up my PC stuff and anything else needed to keep me bandaged, medicated, and occupied for a while.  I also still have to dig out my scooter and crutches for tomorrow…when we leave at 5:30 am to get my foot operated on.

As noted before, the surgeon is cautiously optimistic, but he’s somewhat in the dark as to what he’s going to find or what to do to repair it.  To say the least, I’m depending on his skill and hoping that he can fix things, eliminate the open sore and put me in a better position than before…

So I’m apprehensive.  I’d feel better about this if it was more straightforward.  I also expect that the next two-three days will involve a lot of pain on my part, and a lot of low-end opiate use, which I really hate; partially because I hate feeling drugged, and partially because it constipates me terribly.

As the title says, I’ll see you on the other side of this…

Snip snip:

My foot surgery (for the quarter-sized open sore on my left foot due to pressure, etc) is due to take place on the 6th – the day AFTER Labor Day.  Not looking forward to the pain or the three weeks of can’t-walk, but hoping for a resolution of the open-door-for-infection and the bloody-and-painful-to-be-on-my-feet parts.

Basically, I will be in my library / basement lair for most of that time, and not terribly mobile.  After a day or three, the pain from the surgery should die down, and I can do stuff while sitting down, but I’ll be back to my scooter-thang to get around, even in the basement.

There’s always ten tons of things to do; I’m going to be off work for around three weeks, and I’ll have time to catch up on reading, my archived TiVo stuff, you name it.  The hardest problem is going to be that Susan will be stuck with a lot of the household stuff to do; I won’t easily be able to go up and down stairs at all, and can’t really carry anything heavier than a can of Pepsi.  So my present duties will have to devolve onto other hands.  An old friend who isn’t working at present will possibly come out here and be of some help, but if you want to help out in some way, contact Susan and let her know, and she can sort it out.  Normally, the situation wouldn’t be that bad, but with us putting a lot of time and effort into taking care of Susan’s mom Connie, I dread putting any more stuff on Susan’s shoulders at all.

The crunch:

Taking a brief break from chores to post; I have to empty out my old yearbooks and my collection of Point Of Divergences from the basement closet to somewhere in the bookcases…which is going to be a real PITA, but it has to be done.  Using the space for storage of board games, extra towels and blankets for the downstairs…and seeing how much more can be carved out for Susan’s use.  Not much, I think, but we’ll see.

The basement is looking fairly decent to me, but it has to be in even tighter order; my brother-in-law Doug, his wife Becky and their four kids are coming to visit this weekend.  Connie is not doing well in dealing with her cancer, and they figured that a trek here was in order for everyone there  – which will eat up Saturday – and I need to make sure that the basement’s presentable and possible to use for the kids possibly crashing here overnight.

We’re also making plans to get family pictures taken with Connie while they’re here.

Sunday, there’s a staff meeting of the Windycon Food Guide (me, Zach and Kathy), and otherwise, there’s a blue ton of things to do around here.

We’re adjusting to a new system of who-does-what here as well.  Mere is now doing more to clean up and do things like her own laundry, and I’ve taken over a lot of kitchen maintenance and laundry chores.  We’re also all getting together to figure out menus; since Connie sleeps a lot of the time and only eats through a gastric tube, it feels very odd and sad not to include her in stuff like this – or much of anything else – other than making her comfortable and seeing to her treatments and care.

As if I didn’t have enough to do:

Finally got the house ‘financial’ PC back up and running; a recent Windows 7 update had crashed it pretty severely, and really messed up its connections via a wireless fob to the house network.  After some messing around, I came to the conclusion that the best way to fix this was to (a) buy a 50′ length of Ethernet cable and (b) string it under the bookcases in the basement library, hooking it to the basement Ethernet switch and then to the PC.  After that, (c) – recover from a pre-update save point.

Which all worked, thankfully, and the new wired connection is doing just fine.  Eventually, I’m going to have to get a bigger switch for the basement, but that’s a ways off.  Now, I’m just doing all sorts of updates, and getting it back to stuff as soon as I can;  since the main house document scanner is attached to it, I could really use this being functional.

Also, my life / schedule is largely being run out of my iTouch;  or it was until the thing started getting seriously flaky on me. Mere’s old iTouch isn’t being used by Connie (and I doubt she ever will again), and so in case mine is dead…so I have a morning appointment at the local Apple store to have the main one looked at and to see what needs to be done to clear out the other one for my use if the main one is dead.

All things considered, when I got into PCs in 1983, neither the PC or the Mac existed – it was a hodgepodge of stuff, and I used CP/M machines for a while, and then PC-DOS (much more sturdy and reliable)  and finally Windows in the early 1990s.  I was exposed heavily over the years to Apple products – but when I could have shifted around 1991 or so, I kept with DOS/Windows, because that’s what work used and Mac then were more toys than anything really useful to me.

Of course, that’s no longer true.  Mere now wants to get a Mac Air, and loves the size, design and lightness of the thing; Susan and I said last night that if we were coming into the market now, we would have gotten Macs, probably.  And yes, I know that’s heresy, but it’s just my opinion.

Scrubbing away:

Since I’m now the designated Doer of Laundry, I’m trying to deal with a backlog of stuff; I think I have everything downstairs and sorted out, it’s just a matter of going through huge amounts of stuff – and the interruptions in the sequence.  Mere wants this smaller bunch done right away for her first day of school (tomorrow, for the 7th grade), and Susan wants this bedspread that the dog urinated on done right away, and so on.  It’s just time consuming once you get a rhythm started, and I don’t think I’ll have any more priority interrupts…I hope.

Connie’s old pal Bruce came here for a week and a half, starting last Monday, and he’s been doing a lot of stray stuff to help us out…greatly appreciated, especially since I have had a really bad siege of interrupted sleep over the last week or two, and that does nothing for my energy levels.  Believe me, I’m grateful for everything he’s doing, which has included teaching Meredith how to play poke and talking a lot to Connie / cheering her up.

Competitive so and so that Meredith is, that along with the sharp mind for stuff in general and numbers in particular – she loves the game, and has been busy playing on and off (mostly against Bruce) for the last couple of days.  Since she already liked Blackjack, I’m afraid that she’d become a terror in a friendly game pretty quickly.  (She’s not a mean loser or winner, but she is reasonably competitive and is learning the fine art of the bluff.)

On the other hand, on the laundry front, she can grime up the bottom of any pair of socks you care to mention in record time, requiring blasting powder to clean it properly.  And when she was helping me run 50′ of Ethernet cable in the basement, she was still majorly majorly squicked by any dead bugs she found in a stray corner…so she’s still Mere.

Tomorrow after Mere’s home from her first partial day at school (yes, there will be bear photos) and I’m off work, we’re going to go down to Chinatown and hit Ten Ren Tea for new supplies of tea for Bruce and ourselves, and have a dim sum dinner at Mere’s request.  (Not that I’m the slightest resistant to the idea!) .

Postponing things a little:

Saw my foot doctor over lunch on the oncoming surgery to my left foot to close up and sort out a wound that isn’t closing on it – and it’s scheduled now for next Tuesday.  I got the necessary scrips from him for a hospital bed and a wheelchair, and his scrip for blood tests needed for it – and talked to Susan on the subject of whether this was going to work out, time-wise.

After going over the cons involved with doing it next week with Susan, we agreed that next week was way too crazy and way too short notice for us.  Doesn’t hurt that I’ve been weirdly stem to stern exhausted for the last few days; both of us have been coming down with ailments that are fed by mental and physical burnout. I managed to avert a new foot infection from going to overdrive, which was great, but I could use a week of Not Doing Anything But Sleeping, the way I feel.

I don’t think that I mentioned that in an effort to find out why my insomnia levels are up, I went to an allergist, and found out that I’m allergic to various grasses, birch trees, dust – and feathers.  Of course, my down and feather pillows and I are not on speaking terms now…

So I’m putting the surgery off for two weeks and setting things up to have folks come in and help us when I’m down for the count (Doc said it would be upwards to three weeks off my feet, yay rah.)  At present, a very old friend of Connie’s (and the family’s) is here for a little while to help with Connie’s needs and help us with stuff we’ve had to leave alone because we’ve been so loaded up from other things.  God bless ‘im.

Mere has been on a streak of last-gasp marathon hangout and sleepover events with her close buddies; she starts school next Monday for a part of a day, and full time after that.  She wants to go over and start skating again, when she can…it’s that much of a natural pull to her.

Jim Rittenhouse's online journal