Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dancing ! ? . !

Along the way to this point in my life I have managed to avoid almost all situations that required me to dance.  Now, don’t think I don’t have a love of music  or can’t carry a beat… Heck, I played Trumpet for 6 years in JH and High school and finished sitting solo chair.  It’s just that somewhere, in my wiring, anything that might trigger some self consciousness usually was like an “oops” with a weapons grade nuclear device and I would melt down. 

So the simple solution was to evade the opportunity for personal embarrassment by avoiding scenarios  that might develop into a “dance” opportunity which I successfully have done for the past 50 years…. I am now thinking this was not something to be applauded.

So what is different now?  I think that all along I have wanted to dance, particularly with the love of my life but just could not take the potential personal pain of being “out there”.

Once, when I was in Seattle to teach a seminar, My wife and I, while pursuing an evening mall meal happened upon a small band playing in the area while we ate, and folks were dancing to good old tunes from the big band era. 

By the time we were finished eating, I actually suggested we go dance .. and we did and had a great time at it until the band quit.. That was about 1976 and the last time I danced publicly.

Sure, I have gotten really hooked on Dancing with the stars. I only started watching it because I like John Ratzenberger and he was one of the celebrities on during that season. I quickly saw that he could do what I knew I could do and more, that his attitude switched from expecting an early dismissal to responding to his fans support that kept him in the running. In that I found an admiration and a lust for dancing and figured that if John could do that then It certainly would not hurt me. Several seasons since then I have found that I am now appreciating the whole beauty of the well performed dances without hardly noticing the lack of clothes on the female dancers.

Then, when #3 son Emery, III got married, there was a band and dancing at the wedding reception (actually a DJ, but that’s irrelevant). During the reception, I saw many of His wife’s family and friends dancing almost continuously and some of them were my age (and shape) and just seemed to be enjoying themselves without any apparent awareness that they were being watched.  They were just dancing because they liked to dance.

I was sitting there really wanting to dance. I finally got up and did so with Merrily and loved it… all the while I kept looking out for that 3rd foot of mine that kept getting in the way. Never did see it but the experience convinced me that one skill I definitely wanted to have when we got on the road, was to be able to comfortably hold my own on a dance floor.

So for starters, we signed up for a 12 week social dance class at A Step to Gold and tonight was the second week.  I have the slow dance (with promenade variation) under my belt and the rumba…. maybe. And we are totally enjoying it!  This is way better than it was learning this stuff on an asphalt basketball court in 7th grade PE… Believe me!.  This is really nice and now I really want to do it.

But I don’t think I will ever be doing any acrobatics (heck, at my age and condition, just taking a shower in the RV is pretty heavy on the acrobatics.

But we are having way more fun than I ever imagined I might.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Katie the “Poo” is doing well

For those that have been concerned about how well Katie is progressing after her major surgery to correct a very large liver bypassing artery… She is doing extremely well.  Much better than was thought by most of the doctors by this point. He last lab work came back nearly normal in every respect.

She has been more than 4 weeks without a seizure and the 3 that she had prior to that time were progressively gentler and shorter. This is a very good sign for the future.

It seems that the opinions of her doctors varies as to her final stability and the likelihood of continued seizures after the liver shunt has been fully corrected. Those more in the General Internal medicine group have been very confident that she will be seizure free.  Those in the neurological specialty have been more certain that she will always have to have her seizures controlled and the surgeons are completely uncommitted either way.

This division is interesting because all along the way, our choices in deciding whether it was kinder and cheaper to work towards a seizure free life or just put her down (horrors! I hear out there!) would be the right choice. Those chartered with the early investigations and recommendations were all for a simple permanent solution with surgery but as we drilled deeper into the problem (all the while gushing $$$$ like an artesian well) there were more and more “well… but…” responses and the odds kept changing as to her anticipated permanent quality of life (and ours).

By the time we were up to initiating the surgery we were already more than $2600 into her diagnosis and care and the surgery was expected to run from $2300 to maybe $5000 … or more, depending on complications and what they found once inside. Even after the surgery ($2500 in the end) there continued to be speculation that she might have to have additional surgeries and a growing certainty that her seizures would always have to be controlled to some degree.

I am a kind person by nature but this whole scenario of decaying optimism over the course of her diagnosis and treatment has left me with a real “doesn’t anyone actually know anything?” feeling.  When it got to the day after surgery and the surgeon says that they have never seen such a large liver shunt before and don’t have any real evidence as to  how fast it will close up nor how completely, nor how to titrate the after surgery medications to keep her seizure free while she heals, I was feeling like we had really been had as guinea pigs and would continue to carry an unknown financial and emotional burden for months or years.  Not a happy camper am I right now.

Yes, Katie is doing very well. Better than expected (but consider that they had no reality based expectations in her case) and tapering off of the meds. Actually,  she is on about 1/8th the dosages she started with and completely off of one med and her personality is coming back to normal.

The final outcome is still out there 8 months to a year before we will know for sure if she is going to live a normal life from there on. Right now, we hope so.

In the interim, my previous blog about perspectives is very much in action.  Had we not been already living in the 400 sq ft of DakotR while we worked through all of this we truthfully would not have had any idea what the best and worst case endings for this might actually mean to us once we are on the road.  Seriously, working around a sick or impaired animal 24/7 is a real challenge under normal conditions.  in the limited space of an RV what affects one affects all 24/7.

So, The perspective we gained from this whole experience set in the context of living and being full timers already is that a pet is not a great attribute to have along while trying to travel and see new things and workamp and generally spend much time away from the RV. Sure, that wagging tail, slurpy kiss and totally glad to see us is something hard to deny as a benefit. But, spontaneity is generally not on board and a full night’s sleep is mostly out of the question without Ambien.

Everything has to be planned in advance with the pet’s wellbeing at the top of the to do list and whose needs are always more important than our wants.

This perspective is one of those things that we have learned on the way to fulltiming and something that would have been completely invisible on the radar if we had owned the resources to just get on the road in the beginning.

Katie is now a part of our family and even the occasional curious thought that we might be better off if she was “rescued” again gives us uncontrollable shudders.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

So maybe its time for a little perspective?

I realize that quite a few of my more recent posts seemed to have little to do with fulltiming and a lot to do with my more personal problems and quirks.  Its all part of the same picture….. what its like getting to fulltiming from somewhere else.

Over the past 10 years that we have been seriously planning for this new lifestyle a lot of material has passed these eyes and most of it has been narrowly focused on the details of fulltiming. Whether these details have been in the form of financial preparations, logistical scenarios or “do-overs” as the writers discovered better information or products, it all represented a process of growth and maturing into the new life.

Only a few have tried to fill in the areas confined by the dots they have been connecting. Let me be clear because I am not criticizing those that connect the dots.  That is essential.  What I am trying to convey is that it is absolutely important that one keep checking the picture on the box cover to be reminded what the work should look like when finished.

People, by nature, tend to run with the associations they have at hand and that is an essential adaptive survival mechanism. But succeeding in an overall project is about keeping these associative digressions actively connected to the overall goals.

The excitement, urgency and sheer thrills of changing one’s lifestyle can be intoxicating and can be infatuatingly distractive to the overall process if not kept in check and on task.

Here I sound like a know-it-all and yet I am not even on the road… yet so it may be hard to take me seriously.  To be honest, though, I have a lot of experience with accomplishing long term projects. Particularly those which, in the beginning, I had no experience with the subjects nor any ideas about how to accomplish the goals but I did have a belief that it was a good thing and important to accomplish.

As I see it, the same holds true of changing to a life of fulltime RVing… almost no one that is pursuing it has actually done it before so I feel fairly comfortable that my perspective about “getting there” is about as valid as anyone else’s.

As is true of most journey’s it is the trip that teaches and not arrival at the destination.  That is only a date on a calendar and perhaps a benchmark to bigger things. It is the journey to fulltiming that teaches and changes us to fit that new life.  I suspect that this may be one reason that some folks actually get on the road quickly (money is a good lubricant) and then give it up quickly.. they may not have spent enough time “learning” what it really is and is not and fitting their lives to its requirements.

So, Going more slowly is not a bad thing but it can be frustrating to the impatient.  it can also help investigators to better flesh out what their lives may actually become once they are living a fulltime RVer’s lifestyle.  I truly believe that one must pay attention to this process and monitor not only their progress towards their goal but how they have been changing within themselves as part of the preparation for a new life. If they do then they will not arrive in a state of disappointment and disillusion because their expectations never matured as they progressed. 

It is more important that one be happy and fulfilled with the new life than to have all their lists checked off and purchases made.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bugged - Badly bugged

Ok, so what was my reward for getting a major amount of work done to catch my MS Money database up to the  present?

I got to catch the flu …. big time!!!!!!

Days and nights of sweating to chills and gut pains to sharp spinal pains and  muscles that won’t quit twitching and get pulled if I try to scratch my eyebrow.  Boy!  Talk about un-fun days and nights. That has been my reward for the past 3 days.

Sure, I felt like I might have been coming down with something for the past week.   I had too much energy… a bad sign for me…. usually means my immune system has kicked in and is raising my entire metabolism to a higher level…. To be honest, this was a good thing while working on fixing 5 years of screwed up database and banking records, userids and passwords.  One slip of the mind there and it may not be possible to recover from the fubar.

Its done, though.  I still have about 3 or 4 minor accounts to cull for bad and missing records and then I will call it gold and, as Smith said in Backup! Back-up BACK UP!, it will get a certified backup.

its not important how it got this bad.. honestly, it could not be helped, but, for our future planning work and with the tightening economy we really need MS Money working with solid data. I will go into more details at some time in the future about its key role and how our financial structures are setup and work together (most of the time) but that’s a story for another day.

Meanwhile, God, please get me over this FLU!!!!!   PLEASE!!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bonus Post Today

In our procrastination Queue are a couple of things that need to be addressed, pronto!

One is reservations at Disney at the end of October (Our launch date). We are trying to sync that with a Shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral. I have always wanted to see a launch in person and there are not going to be too many more of them in this program.

There is one scheduled for November 12th but a wrinkle that has been in the works (and in our planning) is a visit by Merrily’s long time friend, Donna, who lives in the UK.

Donna and her FiancĂ©e’ are planning to come see a launch, also. Their plans are for one in May (there are actually 2 planned spaced 3 days apart).  We would really like to see them as well as Merrily’s brother and his family up in Jacksonville, FL . I think that the odds of actually being in the area when a launch finally occurs (they tend to slip around a lot) are a lot better in May with 2 of them.

So, our Disney reservations are still afloat as are those for dates after Nov 1.  Just yesterday, Merrily suggested Fort Desoto state park as a “next stop” after Disney. We have really wanted to stay there for several years but the locals seem to have it pretty well sewed up.  Only Florida residents can make reservations more than 6 months in advance so we are playing a waiting game. Guess we need some backup plans to allow for some slippery schedules for launches, full parks, etc.

Gotta get on that right away.


Fixing the Wasp Problem behind the refrigerator

The annual startup of the whole Bee, wasp, spider cycle has begun. I saw a few of each the other day and one of my primary projects for the colder weather was not accomplished, yet. I know that there have been wasp/Dirt Dauber nests in  back of the refrigerator. I have seen them going in and out last year.  I don’t really want to destroy any one of them. The spiders keep other insects in check and the wasps and bees keep the spiders in check… I just don’t want any of them nesting on or in my living spaces.

I am not a weenie about such things but I am also not stupid. Bumble Bees and Dirt Daubers are pretty benign and generally won’t sting if you don’t directly assault them.  But Paper wasps, Flickers, most of the other large varieties are pretty aggressive and unpredictable.  I have seen a few that managed to get inside DakotR and each is encouraged to leave through amply opened doors and windows rather than by attacking them. Trying to dispatch a wasp in a closed area is like trying to take a gun away from a green beret… you are coming away with pain no matter how it ends.

However, as a believer in prevention before cure, I decided to cover the vent holes I have seen them using for their transporter to the refrigerator cubby. They are the typical kind with 3 rows of shielded holes on 2 doors, one for the bottom to let fresh air in and 1 door at the top to allow the heated air to escape.I had planned to do this during the cold weather while they were not active.

In looking for a solution I found the typical RV pricing on packages of stiffened screens to stick onto the inside of the doors.  At about $32 a package (2 packages required) you can see why I was trying to work out another solution.

I was in the basement (of the nearby house) when I spotted some rolls of aluminum expanded web gutter shields, designed I think, to catch every pine needle that tries to escape the roof.

I cut sections of it that were long enough to run the length of a single row of venting holes, then folded that in half and cut off the very tips of the folds so that I had 2 equal sized pieces.

I got my Gorilla Duct tape (its not just for “temporary” use, anymore) and cut three – 4” strips for each vent row.

Then, each strip was folded lengthwise (gosh this would be so much easier if I had not loaned my camera to #3 son) and to fit over the open holes with a flange to tape down above and below the row.

Basically, end-on, it looked kinda like a “Z” with a hump in it. A strip of tape on each end (be sure to tuck the ends of the mesh down snug) along the long edges of the mesh and its done.

I am not totally positive that the mesh will stop all the dirt daubers but I think it will because the mesh fits closely over the venting holes and there is no room for the wasps to land and climb through it.  I figure that if they are able to get through then I can either remake the covers by first, squishing the mesh lengthwise so the holes are a lot smaller or by making a second identical screen but offshifting the holes 1/2 the size of the holes. I know they won’t get through that.

I sure hope that I got all of the active nests out of there before sealing it up. If there are still active hatcheries in there, its going to get interesting.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you already postponed yesterday.

Yeah, I said that!  I am the captain of the procrastination team so its all my fault, anyway, so why try to hide it…. much.

I cannot believe that this time is screaming by as fast as it is. I honestly try to get a post on here every few days but lately, I am lucky if its every few weeks. Somehow, I have got to get a better grip on these things. If its this bad for something I love doing I must have no concept of how bad it is for the things that really deserve procrastination.

Having defended myself with that, I will try to catch up on things.

(knocking on some wood) Katie has not had a seizure in over 2 weeks.  This is a record untouched since about October 2008. I think its an indicator that her liver is kicking in and doing a better job for her and that the surgery must be working.

It has sure seemed that her typical responses to the medications have been slipping over toward the overdosing area and I have been backing them all down a lot. Most of them are down by at least 1/3 of the amounts she was getting the beginning of February.

She is more active and less sedated during the daytime, has better coordination (most of the time) and her disposition is settling in on the very sweet marker so I am thrilled.

Oh other fronts, the tax work is coming along and I am just minutes away from printing the final versions of the Fed and State forms…. I won’t say what year, though.

My own issues with my meds seems to also be settling down. Keeping a Patch on for 4 days is about  the limit I can stretch it to and its usually getting pretty uncomfortable at the 72 hours mark but I don’t feel I am staying as aware I as need to be if I just swap it out every 3 days and don’t touch base with the discomforts at least a little bit.

The Pristiq is certainly the hero, here. It has given me a lot of my life back and in particular, some predictability for planning purposes. As long as I don’t go skipping doses my unstable startle response stays nicely in check and I can now go places and do things that I have not ever before been comfortable with nor able to do without side effects lasting for days afterwards. One example is that I am now able to walk a mile or so a day. I haven’t been able to do that since about 1999.

Enough with the boring personal junk.  On the RVing side of things, we finished up the Workamping university’s Workamping 101 course which taught us how to go about finding and applying for workamping jobs that will suit our needs and spirits. Getting committed into a bad workamping fit is a real buzz kill from what we have heard from several experienced workampers we have talked with.

The Webinar was well handled and the content was definitely worth the tuition price. We feel like we have gained some actual experience in this area even though our first actual workamping experience is yet to be undertaken.

I have been trying to get an idea of what kinds of web based tools could help us while RVing and workamping.  I know there is plenty to search for and a lot of good content to work our way though but I am more concerned about being able to recall the information on demand that we have previously come across in our searches. 

Simple lists and databases get unwieldy as the content grows and the time to find exactly what we want gets longer and longer. I feel a more dynamic approach needs to be developed that makes it an ongoing part of the whole process. It needs to be readily available, current and self sustaining.At present, I am working up a prototype on a SharePoint services site that integrates all of the info we gather into separate entities that can serve as a full collaboration platform between us and those that we need to work with.

Once I get enough of it setup and working to my ideas I will make it visible to the public for  critique and suggestions. I certainly don’t have the ability to foresee everything it needs to be able to do, up front so getting critiques and suggestions will be vital to delivering a truly useful and well targeted tool.

Oh, the Smart car is doing great, too!  I know we need to name it and get our vanity license plate but its hard to be feel free to be creative with locked in mortal combat  with taxes every day. I only just got the dealer purchased standard plate mounted on it last night.

And to close out this epistle, we finally found a dance class we think we will like.  Its taught nearby and the first of 12 weekly classes will start on Wednesday, March 25 so we will undoubtedly be sore for a few weeks from the class and rehearsals. I think it will all be worth it when we can feel comfortable in a social dance situation. I am tired of feeling that I can’t dance without being an embarrassment to myself and Merrily. Now that I have the pills to keep the angst under control I might as well take advantage of this newly found insulation against personal embarrassment and develop some skills that I was always too shy to  tackle.

Looking forward to it all.


Friday, March 6, 2009

A brief status update

I know I was trying to keep this blog abreast of our daily activities as we work towards a full time life on the road in the US. It was a noble intent but sometimes the practical side of reality will not be denied and the time and attention to do this right was simply overwhelmed with the business of dealing with the alligators around our butts.

The truth is that we have wrapped up the issues with Merrily’s ailing sister and her affairs and she is settled and her stuff is stored. As I mentioned earlier, My daughters, Carol and Shawna helped Merrily take care of things in the proper way and all are back into their own personal lives.

Also, the ongoing drama of Katie the CockaPoo is improving. She had another seizure two mornings ago after Merrily had left for work. I was asleep (recovering from being up most of the night) and I was awakened by a clawing and struggling on the bed behind me. I turned over to see Katie on her side and trying to drag herself over to me.  She was in the beginnings of a seizure that had her legs just flailing and her head bobbing and jerking all around uncontrollably.  She was reaching out to me for help the best way she could.

I immediately slid my free hand over to her and up under her head and she just went limp with a big sigh as her head settled into my big outstretched hand. She was still struggling but was clearly relieved at my contact.  I quickly snuggled her up to me and supported her in a more prone face down attitude that had her legs tucked up under her.

All this seemed to abort the seizure and it never developed into the uncontrollable rigor in her legs and neck that typically has always happened before.  The seizure was mostly over in a few more minutes but she was still kind of wobbly and when she tried to walk around it was as though she was quite drunk.

I quickly got dressed, got her meds into her and then we started walking around outside. The more she walked the better she became and the less the occasional stumble or wobbles occurred.

I am somewhat suspect that she got into something when she raided the garbage can the night before and that may have contributed to this particular seizure.  Since it had been 11 days since her last one it certainly appears that her problem is becoming less sDSC00799evere as her shunt is gradually closed off by the cellophane restrictor band that was put around it a few weeks ago.  This is very encouraging though it will be probably 6 months before we will know if she will ever be completely free of the seizures.

On other fronts, The Smart car is here and so far, no surprises except for how peppy it really can be with the right driver attitude.DSC00760  As others have found, it is a little squirrily in the wind but it keeps up with traffic nicely, even at 70mph. if you are not carefulo the heated seats will melt your jelly beans and the A/C is pretty instant, too. Got to try it today.

Since our weather has been running from a few days of lows in the low teens and highs below freezing to days with lows in the mid 50s and highs in the high 70s, we have gotten a chance to check out its all season capabilities in just a matter of a week.

I will say that I am impressed with its ESP (electronic Stability Program) for controlling traction in slippery conditions.  The first thing I did when it snowed was go look for a hill to try to go up and see how it worked.  In short, it worked very well.  I was only able to find 1 place that I was even able to get a wheel to start slipping and the ESP took over, gave me solid traction in a split second and it was like another vehicle sudden gave me a push the traction grab was so solid.

More later but right now its Friday and Merrily should be home shortly and I need to get cleaned up from the day’s work before she gets here.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Closure…. a good thing to have around.

Saturday marked the end of all of the unexpected work necessary to get Merrily’s sister’s stuff “handled” since her last stroke. It has taken big chunks of the past 2 weeks to get the contents of the apartment catalogued, sorted, filtered and disposed of. Thanks to daughters Carol and Shawna helping out and Carol’s cosmic gift for organizing, it is done.

What is amazing is that the total contents that barely fit into a 3 bedroom 2 story apartment (with 2 of the bedrooms being totally dedicated to just storage) have been pared down to a single 5’x10’ storage unit, Wahoo! I have to say I had my doubts so its really exciting that it has actually been accomplished.

Carol offered to handle the marketing of the items that were earmarked to be sold. She has already collected more than $200 in just a couple of days of being listed on Craigslist. Other items are now staged for a yard sale that daughter #3, Christi, will be ramrodding in a few weeks. Gosh! Its really great to have family members that are willing to share the work to get unpleasant but necessary work accomplished.  I am so proud of every one of them in this untimely effort.

Saturday morning started with Merrily driving up in a 24’ rental box truck at 8:30am. She looked right at home behind that wheel so despite some of her qualms about driving Clifford, I have no doubt she will be excellent at it. She just needs to remember to put her red bandanna on her head Rambo-Style and zip up her lucky blue jeans and she will be golden. I intended to catch a picture or two of her in her “working clothes” but she got out of here too fast Saturday morning and as tired as she was at the end of the afternoon I just didn’t have the heart to call out “say cheese” to her.  Maybe another time.

It was very nice that the weather cooperated so well. It was a beautiful day with no rain, cool with slight breezes and a hint of spring in the air. It made it much easier to do the work but also made one more aware of how they would rather have been spending the day.

The Workamper University Webinar session #3 was Saturday evening at 8pm.  After rebooting the system (everybody has to do this once in awhile, don’t they?) I brought up the website, joined the session (now in progress) and dialed the WebEx phone number for the audio participation. The main topic was about creating resume’s that are tailored to a specific available workamping job. 

Pretty good session and among the things we learned about creating a resume for workamping jobs is that they are a bit different from the typically staid format and content of those targeting “regular” jobs.

For one thing, its ok to put in a picture of your RV and maybe yourself. Many workamping employers ask to see what you and your rig look like.

Another is supplying a URL to additional online content about yourself.  This gave me an idea for some more content to our website.  I am thinking of creating a specific page for each of us to showcase the lesser items of our skill sets, hobbies, preferences and such that would just not fit comfortably in a single page resume’.  Employers that are interested in that kind of information about us can go there to see it and the rest don’t have to be bothered with the information.

Well, I guess its time to pay some attention to my drooping eyelids and close for tonight.


Friday, February 13, 2009

The hurrier I go …. the behinder I get….

So here it is Friday the 13th and I just caught on.  First, notice the time (EST).  I have been to bed twice but not to sleep so I guess now is as good a time as any to catch up a bit.

In so doing I warn you up front that this will be a longer post as a lot has happened in the past 6 days since my last post.

This week has slipped past us in a blur of personal discomfort, appointments with doctors and dentists, Katie seizures and the organized dismantling of my sister-in-law’s apartment contents in preparation for their disposal on Saturday. Oh.. and also in a criminal run of unbelievably beautiful weather for here or most any place else. Highs in the 60s, lows in the 50s and mostly clear sunny days with full moon nights so brilliant and clear that I just know they must have been generated on a computer.  They just don’t come like that around here.

Any one of these nights I would have been happy to just throw a sleeping bag on the ground out in an open field to cuddle into until dawn.

In the workamping arena it appears to have been a very good thing that Jaime was busy at Nick Russell’s Gypsy Gathering rally last Saturday and could not teach the third webinar class session of Workamping 101 since we could not possibly have gotten the homework done in time.  Actually, we may not have it done in time for this coming Saturday’s class what with all of the mandatory stuff going on around here this week, too.

However, in case our instructor, Jaimie Hall-Bruzenak (look under Workampers.. then Workamper University), should stumble upon this blog (I still hate that word) I will promise to have it done in time for Saturday night’s class (even though right now I really don’t know how).

On the Katie the Poo front, she just had another seizure tonight. This one was about 12:04am, which is pretty early for these.  I am very sure that it was brought on by the shock of her falling out of the bed onto the hard floor while she was sleeping. It took her a few seconds to get up and then to get back in the bed and snuggle up close to me but she was trembling and I could tell she was starting to seize.

I just gathered her in a comforting bundle up close to me and held her through it. The main part lasted about 4 minutes with a 15 or 20 second period of rigor and the rest was just the shakes and hard breathing.

Once it was past, I got up to get her some “comfort food” (actually small pieces of apple which we keep for treats). She was still pretty wobbly  so I rocked her for a few minutes in my recliner and realized that she was still pretty hot. Since a part of the whole “kindling” aspect to growing seizures is elevated core temperatures I took her outside where it was a nice 55 degrees.

She quickly took care of some hygiene duties and then we took a walk up the street in the moonlight for a few blocks. By the time we returned she was fine and went straight to bed and to sleep.

To me, she is definitely getting better. The seizures are gradually becoming slighter and shorter in duration but we still can’t have any expectations of their permanent cessation for another 5 months or so.

Meanwhile, I am back up because I torqued my back when I nearly fell while carrying her down the steps to go outside. I normally let her walk but she was still wobbly and I didn’t want to risk her falling and triggering another seizure from the shock. Boy! If I had fallen carrying her down the steps, Merrily would have had a seizure. Now she is fine, though, and I am the one trying to settle my body enough to go back to bed.

On the issues of preparing for our departure it has occurred to me that with all of the mapping and trip planning software and tools there are around me, there just does not seem to be anything that helps us make the choice of where to go “next”.

I have to confess that this is not something that comes easy for either of us. There have been plenty of times we have gotten in the car to go to dinner, backed out to the end of the driveway and  then just sat there because we could not decide where to go. Flipping a coin won’t work if there are more than two choices and I refuse to start reading tea leaves, throwing small animal bones to read our destiny or consulting astrological charts to decide whether to turn right or left.

I just assume that for most people, they would not get into the car until they have decided where they are going. For some reason, for us, it takes the pressure of sitting there at the end of the driveway with the motor running and the neighbors looking out their windows and probably thinking “there go the two most indecisive people in the neighborhood….. if they actually GO this time”.

It has become very clear to both of us that we don’t want the certain embarrassment  to be all hooked up in full travel mode sitting at the end of the campground driveway trying to decide where we are going to go, next. To try to prevent this I have started working up an outline of a process to help us pull together the necessary information and perspective prior to starting any engines to make this part of our travels more of a cookbook process. We will see if I can come up with something useful or be stymied by my natural OCD and get lost somewhere in the project.

See, I told you it was going to be a long one.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hark! The weekend approach-eth!

There is nothing quite so refreshing to me as a nice weekend looming large in the front view mirror of my week. By contrast, Mondays and Tuesdays are just big stumbling blocks to getting the week started.

By Wednesday I have realized that Monday’s stuff is still waiting to be done and that tomorrow is Thursday, already, so its time to get it in gear and just get it done before I have to waste glorious weekend time doing week day stuff.

But Friday morning is all about getting to Friday evening and the weekend. For some reason, what would have taken me hours to get done on Tuesday is a matter of minutes on Friday. Even the leftover Thursday trash work is dispatched with a wave of the magic weekend wand.  I guess that I don’t want anything hanging over our heads for our “together time” during the weekend (Merrily and Me, that is).

My oh my, why wasn’t I born filthy rich instead of so damn good looking?

I did get in a little more testing of the Roadrunner Turbo speed service on Friday.  Maybe its not quite as useless as I first thought. I may have had greater expectations than common sense but I really wanted to be blown away for $9.95 more per month and wasn’t.

I also discovered that my subscription to was not automatically renewed due to my not having updated my credit card info on their site.  I don’t use it much anymore and may just let it go as a $$ wash for the higher speed RR “turbo-ish” internet service.

We’ll see.  I had about 500 gigs of download credits there and can pick them back up if I renew in the next few months. I just don’t find that much useful stuff up there in the news groups anymore and they have become real mine fields of trojans, viruses and worms… oh my!

Katie (the poo) continues to do well. I have adjusted her evening meds to make it so that she gets the Kepra right before bedtime. Maybe that will last enough to get her through the AM hours before breakfast where she seems to have the most seizures since her surgery.  Her attitude has been wonderful and other than occasionally abusing her power of the leash (she goes over and taps the leash when she wants to go out side), she has been perfect in every way.

We are trying to work out plans for a trip about March something or other.  Merrily wants to take a whole week and the two weekends to do it.  We are considering the Charleston area right now.  Maybe her brother and his wife will come up for a few days while we are there.

No update on our Smart car. Still expecting it on 2/18 but we have realized that it will have to be named just like Clifford and DakotR.  It has to be something that will fit on a license plate and not tooooo cute but clever. So far we have $mart A$$, Smartipi and Bitsey.

I am planning to go down to see my Mom once we have it delivered and road tested a bit. I doubt I will be able to get the loader built and installed before we take the March trip but who knows… might happen.

#1 son, Smith is home from the road for a few days. You can see more of his life in his blog . Besides being an over the road professional driver he loves trains and model railroading. He covers both in his blogs and on the Wilson Area Railroad Modelers website. They even have a few channels of video feeds available to watch live operating sessions on the weekends. Its quite a hobby.

Everyone else is off into their lives and being happy.  A parent can’t ask for more than that.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ok, spin the wheel of seasons… and today we have…. Winter again…?

So, let’s see what season it is…. Hi=71, LO= 52, Hi=32, LO=16, HI=64, LO=32…..  any guesses?….. anyone?

Me either.  My dogs are so confused they are shedding profusely while growing both summer and winter coats at the same time.

Snow the past 2 nights. Tonight clear and 16 and Saturday and Sunday will be about 68. I feel like a popsicle in a worn out old freezer.

On a more stable note, Emery and Christi got their pantry emptied of a collection of the past 20+ years and have it spread out in one of the empty bedrooms for me to go though before it gets pitched out.

Every day makes the house more theirs than ours and that is great.  I feel the burdens of years of accumulation gradually melting away. It is wonderful!

Randy was telling me how great Roadrunner Turbo mode is supposed to be. Presently, I get about 6 megabit download data rates and 350kb upload data rates.  Turbo is supposed to get me from 10 to 20mbit down and up to 500kbps upload rates.  What didn’t become apparent in this is that these seemingly wonderful performance goals are targeted only for gamers and really high large file downloaders. The average run of the mill web surfer, emailer, IM user and such will not see any noticeable improvement in web performance.

I still decided I had to know if it would be worth another $10/month to me so I turned it on yesterday.  First glitch was that they could not turn it on until I went down to their store and picked up one of the cable modems that Time Warner uses.  So I went down town, got the new cable modem, returned home, installed it and proceeded to see pretty much what I have been seeing all along in performance.

That is when I found out from their tech support about the performance improvements were only going to be useful to the gamers and big downloaders. humpf!  Well, I have 30 days to try it and then if I don’t think its worth it I can drop it for free.

Today, I have been too busy with non-internet stuff so I have not been able to really wring it out like I wanted but maybe tomorrow….

Meanwhile, I am still fighting the increasing struggles with the whole userid and password jungle.  Now that more and more checking and restricting is being done to make passwords more secure and less vulnerable to hacking or cracking, it is getting harder to just login.. anywhere!

I have over 800 userids with passwords that I use. It is impossible to make them all unique and still be able to remember them.  Heck, its impossible for me to remember any of them.  Then you get the sites that require you to change your password every so many days to a new one that has not been used before and pretty soon one has no clue what a password might be.

I have complained before about getting over 500 emails a day of which maybe 1% or less is not spam. Now, I have to ask for a forgotten password every time I try to logon to a website I have not visited today and I am getting more and more frustrated.

Sure, I have password managers that keep them all very secure but again, the increasing security blocks these from working so to even use them I have to manually open each one in the PW manager and edit it to see what my password is right now and then manually type it into the security prompt for that site.  That is bad enough but on the back side I have to manually maintain these passwords in the PW manager every time one must be changed due to the logon restrictions on the site. It’s impossible to keep it all straight and as soon as a couple of mistakes creep into the database, they all become suspect. 

This difficulty factor is doubled when they block the password you type in so you can’t see what you typed. Sure, I make typos just like everyone else so when it rejects my password I don’t know if I mistyped it, miscopied it from the PW Manager or have changed it on the site and now the PW manager does not have the correct current PW in it. To straighten this out I have to go to the site, say I lost my Password, get it mailed to me (or a new one if they only offer a reset function) then login to the site with the new one and also make sure to up date the PW in the PW manager for this site and all other occurrences of it (yes, there may be multiple PW entries in the PW manager due to different entry points to the site. Each will have a PW manager entry with userid, password and URL.  All have to be found and changed manually.

By now, I have totally forgotten why I needed to get into that site.

The only defense against this is to make the logon on all your sites use the same userid and PW. This, of course, makes it so unsecure that the web sites have to add additional complexity in the form of questions that you have to answer AFTER you have entered your userid and password. The questions change and are different from site to site so there goes the one userid and password workaround!

I have run into some of these types of sites that do not have any questions that I could supply an answer to that I would be able to remember a consistent answer to in 3 months. Other questions have no answer possible for me. One such example is “what is your mother’s middle name?”  My mother was never given a middle name.

The only common questions everyone already knows, like “your mother’s maiden name”, “your date of birth”, your high school mascot”  (heck, that was 50 years ago.. I barely remember the name of the school).

So, there you have it… Clearly, the more secure they try to make the logon process the more complex it becomes and the more complex it becomes the more people try to simplify it to keep it usable and that undermines the very security that was being attempted by the process.  Really dumb approach to security.  Like putting more padlocks on a wooden locker. If I can pick one I can pick them all or I will just bust the hinges.

The only people that are being blocked from getting into their accounts are the people whose accounts they belong to.

Enough of the rant.

Obviously, I am not in the middle of my happy place tonight so I will say TTFN until tomorrow.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Surprising Weekend

Whether one is a super bowl fan or not is irrelevant this weekend because it is going to be rubbed in your face until its over… and then they will rub it some more just to be sure everyone gets the point…

We do watch it, usually on ReplayTV so we don’t have to sit through all the dead air jibber-jabber time. We just skip to the next play action and go ahead.  This year, #3 son, Randy and his wife had just moved into their new house the day before and really wanted to share it and their new HD TV with us so who was I to turn down a free meal and a great visual experience.

Interesting game. At one time I was something of a Steelers fan (during Terry Bradshaw’s days) but I just wanted to see an unusually good game and I did. I would just as soon have skipped the half-time show but Merrily is a Boss fan so we watched it.

Still on our minds, though, was that our beloved Katie was spending another weekend in the vet hospital. She had another unending seizure about 3am Friday and it took the resources of the Vet Hospital's emergency room staff to get it stopped.  They say she is fine and are switching her meds for now to get a bit better control.  They are also sending home with her an emergency seizure kit in case she has another one like this. It should save another trip to the ER (and the $800 – $1500 price tag each time). 

I sure hope it works and her shunt does stop these once it closes down in 3-6 months. Meanwhile, we just have to hang on and watch her closely to keep her blood as clean as possible.

So far, her seizures and treatments have eaten up our down payment on the Smart car which was about 1/3 of the total price so it looks like that will be higher per month payment than we wanted to carry, too.

On other fronts we attended the second class of the Workamper 101 webinar series on how to find and get the right workamping jobs for us on the road. It has some good content in it and I already see some real benefits from its cookbook approach to this issue.

I guess it’s time to get some specifics done to move our plans along now that the family moves and crises are over. better get back to my to-do lists and get busy on them.