Wednesday, May 11, 2016

YES! MRI

After much fooling around I did finally manage to get my MRI.  (See this Wikipedia article about MRI's if you are uncertain what they are.)  If you haven't had one it's not too strenuous but it isn't that much fun either.  Conventional MRI machines are built in a cylinder form and you are placed on a sort of plank and are slid into the machine.  I had an MRI in a machine like that many years ago and I discovered I'm kind of claustrophobic.  That makes it a very unpleasant experience.  Since then I've required what is called an 'open' MRI.  It's better but not great.  Here's a photo I took of the machine.
You lie down on the surface on the right.  It is raised up and you are slid into the main portion of the machine.  I told my wife it is like you are the meat in a hamburger and the machine is the bun.  So you are in this thing but can see with your peripheral vision and, not a small thing, there is better air flow than in the conventional machines.  Then it starts up making all kinds of bangs and clangs; it is just part of the process.  I was told it would take 19 minutes - I guess so.  I was certainly happy for it to end! 

Then Monday I got to meet with my specialist who told me I have a problem with the C6-C7 vertebrae.  I'm told I have three options:  live with it; get a cortisone shot that relieves the pain for about 6 months or surgery to remove the disk.  Hmmm.  So I'm headed for the operating room one of these days.  It will probably be a while but I'm sure you'll be hearing about it after it happens!

Back at the ranch, the cactus are happy.  We've been getting rain, more than usual, so the desert is perky.  We even had a rainbow - kind of.
Our cactus plants are happy.  These photos were taken a couple days apart.
The cactus flowers will be disappearing soon though.  Our 'spring' is definitely ending with temps expected to be in the high 90's (35C give or take) in the next few days.  Well, that's why we have those expensive air conditioners!  It is also why we don't have trees and lawns.  It's just not the right part of the world for those things.

IKEA is opening a new store in Las Vegas next week.  It is big news for locals, our Fox channel has a reporter out there this morning!  Don't get me wrong, I buy things at IKEA, I enjoy going to IKEA.  In the Netherlands I went there quite often for little things for our home.  I'm sure we'll be visiting the new store before it's a month old.  But putting it on the 'news'?  Really? 

Well, that's the news from this corner of the planet.  Take care and thanks for stopping by.


Monday, May 02, 2016

Financial Advice???

OK, two posts in one day?  Yeah, it's not the Don you know and put up with.  But this really called for a post.  After I posted this morning my wife and I go out to our local Chinese-Thai restaurant for lunch.  It's a nice enough little place so we have lunch and are given fortune cookies at the end of our meal.  My wife read hers out loud then I opened mine.

REALLY?  A way out of a financial mess as if by magic?  And it is the same for us both.  If I believed, I'd be searching high and low to see if we are in a financial mess that I don't know about.  Or maybe it is for our country?  I'd love a way out of THAT mess.  Well, here's hoping.  Take care!

Life is life and sometimes death

I'm not going to turn this into a medical blog but I do want to report on my MRI results.  Well, I would except I don't have any.  Last Tuesday we were zooming over to Vegas and were about 30 miles into the trip when we find a Highway Patrol car parked across the road.  There had been a fatal accident just up the road and the road would be closed for four hours (!) to investigate it.  Well, we were planning on having lunch then going to my appointment so we could still make it by going around to Vegas the 'long way'.  We zoom back to Pahrump and are cruising through town when my phone rings. 

Hooray!  An opportunity for us to try the bluetooth attachment between the phone and the car!  This is new technology to us so it was cool.  Unfortunately it was a young woman from the MRI place telling us that the machine broke down and we would have to reschedule.  Hmmm, well it was a opportune time to call!  So we made an appointment for next Tuesday, the 3rd, then went had lunch and went home. 

Saturday I get another call from the MRI place.  This time the machine needs maintenance so can we move the appointment to Wednesday.  Really?  The thing needs repair one week and maintenance the next?  Well, whatever.  So no MRI results.  I'm a little worried about Wednesday though!

I should mention that we are gradually getting used to the new car and all it's bells and whistles.  You only have to be carrying the key fob and when you touch the door you can either lock or unlock it.  That took me an embarrassing amount of time to learn.  The bluetooth apparently works.  The built in GPS is taking some getting used to but we've had Garmin for probably 10 years so it is a little learning curve.  One thing that I love is the backup camera.  Since I'm having neck problems it is great to just look at that monitor rather than try to turn around.  You need to be careful and not depend upon it totally but it is a real help.  In fact, I've purchased a backup camera for the truck as well.  It's really helpful.  Again you can't just ignore the world but it sure helps out.

I did notice a bumper sticker that I really like.  Amazingly it's not political.  Just real.
I sure wish I knew where they found that thing.  It fits the town so well! 

Gotta go.  We are having visitors this weekend (Number One Son & SO) so the cleaning frenzy is beginning.  Take care & thanks for dropping by.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Back to dull

I promised to get back to more normal stuff but we had one of those special things happen the other day.  This is when the cactus gets buds and sometimes blooms.  I've been watching them and they have just been hanging out.  Then we came home from the store and found FLOWERS!
We have two plants in our yard - that we put there - weeds aren't counted!  Both cacti have had buds but this one decided to bloom.  You have to keep an eye on it.  Within two days they were dried up.  What you can't see in the photo is a bee that was busy with the flowers.  That bee must have one heck of a sense of smell because there just aren't many places for the little guy to live around here.  I imagine he was even happier to see the flowers than I was.

I had to take this photo of our bird feeder.  It shows most of the birds we get on a regular basis.  Pigeon, dove and finch.  There are a couple varieties of dove and finch but that's it.  Cowbirds come through twice a year and kind of take over the place but they don't live here.  There are black birds but they don't really care about the feeder.  And we have hawks - they like the feeder for the hunting opportunities.  We have seen a burrowing owl on a couple occasions but it's been a couple years since we have seen them.
It's funny but if you would have told me 20 years ago that I'd like watching pigeons I wouldn't have believed it for a minute.  Funny how things work out sometimes.

I get to go into Las Vegas next week for an MRI.  My left arm has been bothering me for about four months.  It seems like it should be a pinched nerve and working through the local doctor-xray-specialist hoops I'll get my neck tested to see if in fact that's the problem.  Of course then we get to decide what to do about it.  We've been making plans for the summer but I'll probably want to put them off if I can get back to feeling good.  Since the first of the year I've gotten a full nights sleep maybe twice.  Sleeping three hours then wandering around for a while then getting three more stinks!  Of course getting up in the middle of the night and wandering around sometimes wakes my wife so her sleep in screwed up as well.  (A motivational factor that every husband will recognize!)  It does make one thankful for some of the wonders of modern medicine. 

Gotta go do something even if it is wrong.  Have a good one and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

I'm pretty conservative

Really, I am.  But every now and then something just triggers my 'Oh FuxK NO' button.  Well, first of all this whole disaster of an election season sucks big time - but I digress.  We live out in the back of beyond.  This is Conservative Country and that's fine.  People who live around here have horses and chickens and goats and why not.  It's not the city.  I'm sure most of them have guns not that there is ever gunfire in our neighborhood.  We have guns.  Granted most are ones that I fired when I was a child.  A couple of them are probably older than I am and that's saying something.  But, again I digress. 

The radio 'news' carried a story about how hackers can take over your car.  The reporter is talking excitedly about how the radio is blaring, the wipers going crazy and, worst of all, the brakes being useless.  Well, gee!  What kind of crap is that?  First of all, yes, there are plenty of computer systems in a modern car and yes, where there is a computer there can be a hack.  However, every maker has their own software so a 'universal' hacker would have to have individual hacks for every make.  Perhaps even several for different styles of car.  A Chevy Cruz probably isn't using the same software as a Corvette.  So this 'news' story is just aimed at increasing our paranoia.  Thanks!

We are in our mid sixties so many of our relatives are as old or older.  These older relatives are getting really paranoid.  We have one person who a few years ago took a cruise to Australia and stopped at several south pacific islands.  Now she is getting worried about being out and about in her own neighborhood at night.  Now certainly this could be the sign of some mental illness but they too live in conservative country and they are hearing the same crap on the radio that we are getting.  OMG, we are becoming a nation of idiots!

Of course we have Presidential candidates who are talking about building a fence between the US and Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants.  What happened to "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free".  (A quote from The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus and installed in the Statue of Liberty.)  Are there Mexican drug dealers who would like to live here?  Well, hell yes.  So let them sell something, arrest them and throw them in jail or ship them back home.  But does that mean we should keep out thousands of hard working normal people?  I certainly don't think so.  One guy I know doesn't like immigrants because they have 'taken over construction jobs'.  Well, that's what is called life.  Read a history book.  The Italian immigrant wasn't exactly loved when they arrived.  The Irish were hated. I imagine every incoming group was vilified.

Paranoia has it's place.  Walking around in bad neighborhoods at night is probably a bad idea.  Flashing a roll of bills in a bar when you are drunk is probably a bad idea.  But it shouldn't drive our society.  It shouldn't drive our Presidential election.  I know 'good news doesn't sell newspapers' but it doesn't follow that we need to make up crap.

Sorry.  I'll get off my soapbox and return to pictures of pigeons in the birdbath next time.  Take care and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Still quiet around here

We are slowly getting back to 'normal'.  We did finally decide we'd seen enough cars and wandered off to buy a new one.  We liked the size of the RAV4; just wanted more power and more bells and whistles.  It's a crowded market place.  We tested at least 10 different vehicles and there are at least that many more that we skipped for one reason or another.  Presenting:  our new wheels!
It is a 2016 Ford Escape.  Somehow we've become a Ford Family!  Who would have though it?  It is almost the exact same size as the RAV4 but has a ton of options that we couldn't afford to get on the RAV back in 2010 when we bought it.  It also has a LOT more horsepower thanks to turbocharging.  We'll see how it works out.  Right now we are having trouble adapting to all the new stuff.  The built-in GPS doesn't work like our Garmin; the audio system is confusing; the a/c is all via the touch screen so that's weird.  That doesn't even talk about the new key fob that unlocks the car when we near it and the 25 different checks it makes to be sure you aren't locking the fob in the car!  Suffice to say, these old dogs are having a little trouble with learning these new tricks!  (That dog reference is not about my wife needless to say!)

Otherwise this is a pretty normal spring.  There is lots of wind and varied weather but gradually we are warming up.  The pigeon population has forgiven our vacation from feeding them and are back.
I haven't counted more than seven in the birdbath at one time but it's a small bath!  They are trying.  The smaller birds are slower to return but they are showing up as well; just no photos yet. 

Pahrump got it's name up in RV blog lights when the Cheap RV Living guy visited us.  He likes the place for many of the reasons my wife and I chose to live here.  It is inexpensive, there is a fairly good infrastructure and you are close to Las Vegas which has whatever else one might require including a world class airport so you can escape all this fun.  He camped on BLM land up on the mountain fan.  There are always people up there; some are even permenent residents.  In his case a complaint was made and the Sheriff came along to enforce the 14 day camping limit on BLM land.  Usually folks around here are pretty live and let live so the Sheriff contacted him but not other folks living farther from the person who made the complaint.  How do I know this?  I've seen their vehicles out there for months!  I take the truck up there from time to time for two reasons.  First I enjoy the solitude of the desert.  It's very soothing.  Secondly, the truck is a 4x4 and there are nice gravel roads up there to exercise that option. 

So you see it's pretty quiet right now.  We are making big plans.  I have my 50th high school reunion this year and we are trying to figure out if we can make it.  The problem is that we keep adding options to the trip so it becomes a major deal.  You know how it goes:  if we are there, how can we not go another couple hundred miles and visit so-and-so.  Then we were hoping to make a trip to Europe in the fall.  We are starting the research but again it's pretty much cast in jello at this point.  (Actually we hoped to make the trip this spring but it just didn't come together.)  Thanks for stopping by.  I'll see if we can't come up with some good photos or something for next time.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cruising, kind of.....

Since returning from Washington we've been just catching our breath.  Between the 6,000 miles to and from Florida and the 2,500 to and from Washington; we're loving being stationary!

Somewhere along the line my neck and back started giving me trouble.  This crap comes and goes but it's kind of stuck around this time so I've gone to the doctor and had a few x-rays done.  They don't tell me much but I have an appointment with an orthopedic specialist coming up.  Maybe they can offer some good ideas.  I do know I don't want to be in pain forever and I don't want to be taking pain meds forever either.  There's gotta be a better way.

When we got home from Florida we had quite a few weeds in our yard.  During the trip to and from Washington it got kind of out of hand.


Happily we were able to engage a couple of young men to come and remove them.  Believe me, they earned their money pulling those weeds!  The small ones got sprayed.  Good bye weeds.  I'm sure they will return next year.


One of the things I love about living here is that there is such a diverse population.  Here is an RV I found in the Walmart parking lot.  I didn't want to approach too close; some folks really like their privacy.
It was built on a F-350 Ford chassis.  The only part I don't like is the lack of windows.  There wasn't even one.  However, maybe they have a cool sunroof.  The cover on the top would keep some of the sun out but who knows.  The guy sure likes his spare tires!

Gotta go.  I'll see if I can't do more of this updating thing. Ha!  Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

A sad trip

While we were on our Florida trip my wife's step-father became ill with pneumonia.  He was a great male roll model for my wife when she was younger.  Shortly after we returned home he was allowed to leave the hospital and return to his own home.  Hospice care was suggested and my wife decided she needed to make one last visit to this fine man.  We chose to drive knowing that there was a good chance we wouldn't be in time.  And we weren't.  He passed away quietly in his home with his wife and children nearby.  It is what he wanted.

So we spent two and a half days driving up to Washington state; three days visiting with family and another two and a half days driving home.  2,489 miles but it was certainly the right thing to have done.  We could have flown, of course, but I think the long miles helped us to deal with the loss.  Sitting on a plane just isn't the same.

RIP, Hank.