Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Saturday, October 17, 2020
Bloody Hell, Books, and a Note of Triumph
Well, medically it's been a strange week.

So Monday I'm sitting at my computer hydrating myself nicely with water, took a rather big gulp, and it ran smack into the wonderful, perpetual post-nasal congestion at the back of my throat and stuck right there. I started gasping for air, and, unable to draw a breath, had to spit up the water. Right on my nice clicky keyboard. After I got my breath back I spent an hour mopping up the mess and drying the keyboard with my hair dryer. It still typed 66666666666666666 and ttttttttttttttttttt with a "ghost" hitting the keys for hours until it completely dried.
Thursday's problem was slightly scarier. James has a rough patch of skin on his left cheek. Since he's already had two small skin cancers removed from his face, he wanted this checked out. So Thursday our first stop was Kaiser, and then we would proceed to Publix. So the dermatologist took a biopsy and covered up the spot with a small Band-Aid. Of course the spot is on the side of his face where the beard is, so the bandage was basically stuck to beard hair. Then he had to go to the lab to get his test for Dr. Kongara in two weeks. Then we needed to go to the pharmacy for cranberry supplements. Finally we were heading for the truck to go to Publix—until James took off his mask near the chair lift.

His lips were covered with dried blood like black lipstick! Plus the biopsy spot was bleeding like a stuck pig down his chin all into the hair of his beard.

So we went back inside and they sent us back upstairs, and the dermatologist's nurse treated the biopsy spot, got it to stop bleeding, cleaned up the blood in his beard, and stuck a bigger, thicker bandage on the spot. But what was wrong with his lips? He'd bitten his lip, hard, this morning at breakfast this morning. Ah, the joys of living with blood thinners. Not.

So we didn't get to Publix until way after noon and were ravenous when we finally got home for lunch. James chilled while I spent the afternoon watching a few things backed up on the DVR, like Norman Lloyd's birthday salute which I recorded two years ago, and cleaning some other things off it, like Hidden Figures (don't need to save it as it is available on Disney+). We also finally tamed the plastic leftover containers by dumping a bunch of them in the trash for tomorrow's pickup. Anything that was bubbling up, delaminating, didn't have a lid, etc. went in the bag, and now we have room for the new set of containers we got from Amazon Vine.

Friday we did a nice hop/skip/jump from Costco (renew memberships and buy cheese and mandarin orange cups), plus fill up the truck, Nam Dae Mun (thin steaks, chops, and some nice lamb steaks!), and also Lidl (for milk, bread, chocolate, and other necessities like mandarin oranges). In between jumps we had lunch at O'Charley's with Alice and Ken. A nice 6-ounce steak, applesauce, and a green salad was just what I needed.

Saturday was our banner day. First, like Friday, it was cool and beautiful! Even better, Saturday there was a nice breeze. I needed a new pair of knock-around-the-house pajama pants and James needed underwear as he was having "religious artifacting." We decided to try a different Wally World as the one closest to us is very shopworn and the second closest is always jam-packed. So we chose the one up at Kennesaw, between the mall and Barnes & Noble. Have only been past this one once, and never been inside. It's really nice, neat and clean, and huge! We got what we needed, including more sugarless candy, and, as I am wont to do these days, we took a stroll down the cleaning aisle not expecting to find anything.

There were two cans of Lysol spray left!
You have to understand I have not seen a can of Lysol since March! Over the summer months, I have managed to amass a small cache of necessary cleaning products. A kind friend brought me a bottle of alcohol, and in August I found two bottles at Publix. I have carefully collected alcohol wipes from Staples and then found some in another store. By hitting the grocerie stores at odd days and hours, I've found different disinfecting wipes (two of one brand, two of another, two actually of Lysol wipes). I know where a certain Kroger hides its disinfecting hand wipes. But I have not been able to find Lysol spray, which bugged me because with none of those other cleaning things I'd collected could I do what I needed to do with the Lysol: spray the laundry baskets after I put the laundry in the washer. Spray the mattress and the pillows when I change the bed. The little spritz of spray I rub onto the scale and then wipe off when I clean the master bathroom. So finding two cans of Lysol was a real win!

Plus we finished off the afternoon with a trip to Barnes & Noble. I picked up an Agatha Christie collection of spooky stories to read for Hallowe'en, and paired it with another book one half off, a history of the river Seine. Found a book for gift on the discount table, and another, ostensibly for me, a fantasy novel about people who can touch historical items and are "time sensitives" with them. It's the most books I've bought in a long while.

Will you please tell me how autumn whizzes by so quickly? October is half over. Summer sticks around like a constipated sloth and here it is almost Hallowe'en...

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» Saturday, October 10, 2020
It's Official...I'm Old; Plus Annoying News and a Birthday Party
It's official: I'm old. I got my Medicare card on the fifth.
Plus the first of the roof estimates is in. The guy came over on Wednesday. Yes, the flashing around the two attic vents is bowed up and water is getting under them. Also—he asked me: did you have a tarp on the roof at any time? I said no; no one's been up there since the house was built. Well he asked because right there over the spare room there are nail holes in pairs in several of the shingles. (Saw the photos later on—yikes!) He has no idea why, but this explains the two small leaks that I ignored because I thought it was from the HVAC leak and they never got any worse. Anyway, the estimate he offered us, even if they had to put in new decking, was so far under what we guessed a repair might cost that we decided to just let them do it rather than getting other quotes. Our friends had a good experience with them, the job is warrantied, and the next company can't come out to do even a quote until the 20th and we had rain coming on Saturday. (And sure enough, one of the water stains on the ceiling expanded about a couple of inches on Saturday night. It needs to be repaired before it rains again. When I called to cancel the other two appointments, one of the reps sussed it right out: "Oh, you've got someone who can come out before we can? I understand!")

Except for the rain, it ended up being a nice weekend. Now that I had my Medicare number, I could finish signing up for Medicare Advantage with Kaiser and mailed that out before we went shopping on Thursday. Friday we went to pay the taxes, but they only took cash or check. I paid it on my credit card to get the Amazon points when we got home instead. We also checked out Lowes and Home Depot for some small LED light bulbs that would fit in the ceiling fan fixture; I found them at Home Depot. We got home early enough to stay out of the heat that had returned, watching RV shows on the Travel Channel (and then Get Smart episodes all evening).

Saturday was Jessie Elder's 27th birthday party. We sat outside at Mellow Mushroom and added another table so we could social distance a bit more. It rained like crazy periodically as we celebrated; Jessie is a Disney fan, so it was a Disney-themed cake, and, as always when this bunch gets together, "a good time was had by all." We stopped at Kroger on the way home for milk and mushrooms, and then drove home through the edge of the Kennesaw National Battlefield Park, where the leaves are starting to turn to gold, and it's "lovely, dark, and deep" under the tunnels of tree branches.

Even with a three-day weekend, the days go by so fast. October is just spinning by and it's only the first third of the month.

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» Saturday, October 03, 2020
The Weakest Link...Uh, Leak
It all started when I went to iron the apple apron I got from Amazon Vine. I guess ironing should have been portent enough.

Anyone who's read this blog frequently know I am not a big fan of very bright lights. I find sunshine painful and I won't use the language I refer to fluorescent lights with. But for fine detail work, like making jewelry gifts, the stygian dimness given off by the 60-watt ceiling fan bulb in my craft room just wasn't doing it. One day I found a small-sized 100-watt light bulb at Publix. I would have preferred a 75, but beggars can't be choosers. I installed it.

Damn, it's bright. But over the last few months I've gotten used to it and I think in the last month or so I've quit flinching every time I turn it on. Except I turned it on Sunday, looked up as I was unfolding the ironing board, and yelped.

Let me note that more than several years ago, two water stains, like six-inch long dashes, appeared in the fold of the ceiling and wall of the craft room, on the north side of the house, after a really bad storm. I've kept an eye on them since then and they've remained the same, never expanded. Then when the guys replaced the HVAC system in 2016, they told me that I'd had a leak in the piping up there——there's a definite disadvantage to having the HVAC system in the attic——that leads to the condensate drain that goes outside the house. Mystery solved.

That Sunday morning there were two more water spots on the ceiling, near the dashes. These were round spots. And one was the size of a dinner plate.

So I did the cheapest thing first: called the HVAC people. If it was their leak, it was covered by the service contract. I was having other trouble with the system anyway.

So he came out on Tuesday. Um, no, it's not their leak. Damn. And also, the other problem with the system is the damper, which is not covered by the maintenance contract, which I find absurd. The damper is what directs the air upstairs or downstairs and makes the system function properly. (Actually, I found out the service contract I have only covers the semiannual check of the system. The actual maintenance contract for the system costs twice as much. Oh, and they should have told me to register the system with Lennox when I got it so I'd be under the warranty. I don't remember any of this at all, but then the new HVAC system was installed the same day James had his first heart attack. So...something had to take a backseat, and it sure wasn't going to be James.) Anyway, the service tech told me he suspects the leak is around the roof vents. I looked at them and it does seem the flashing is curving up a little. And he came back on Thursday to replace the damper (the gears on it were stripped). So we're going to spend the month of October getting quotes to have the roof repaired. What fun.

Which is why I made some financial decisions this week that will be effective in January. (I've also signed up for Medicare, which was a requirement given the birthday that was coming up. Damn. Where did the years go?)

This weekend was, as usual, too short. And we have three day weekends! Of course one day a week always seems to be taken up with James having a doctor's appointment. Thursday we went to Lidl and to Publix before arriving home to wait for HVAC guy. Friday we had lunch at Jim'n'Nick's barbecue with Alice and Ken, and then went back to Publix (a different Publix) for the things the Mableton Publix didn't have (like my yogurt and low-salt chips; I wish they'd all carry the same stock!). Once we got done with the chores, it was still cool enough outside so that we didn't want to go running for cover inside the house. So we went to Barnes & Noble instead. Picked up two autumn magazines and an early Christmas one to save for after Thanksgiving.

Saturday we did something we hadn't done in...well, I'm thinking about a year! We gave up on going to the Marietta Farmer's Market last summer because even when we got there early it was outrageously hot, we went a couple of times in the fall, and didn't even hit the winter market once, and then of course when we might have started thinking about going in the spring COVID-19 reared its nasty little head and for a while the Market was cancelled. Now it's being held in the parking lot where we used to park when going to the market, with the booths widely spaced and entrances offering hand sanitizer and people making sure you are masked. We finally got Tucker more Big Daddy dog biscuits, and also bought a Hawaiian glaze originally made by the vendor's great grandmother in Hawaii, plus a homemade croissant. I was too late to get my favorite flavor of goat cheese, though.

We also stopped at The Corner Shop (the British place) and James got a couple of treats (a steak pie and a beef and onion pasty, and we bought a Fry's peppermint cream bar. We dropped all this off at home, then went to the Hallmark Ornament October premiere. Didn't buy any ornaments, but had two coupons, so ended up with two nice Christmas gifts.

Saturday ended nicely with my Hamilton Books order having shown up. Along with the two Hallmark gifts, this whittles my outstanding Christmas gift list down substantially.

But, O Lord, why the roof already? I was hoping that would hold up a few more years until the house got to its 20th birthday, not here on what will be its 15th soon.

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» Saturday, September 26, 2020
Let There Be Light...and Danish...
This weekend ended with an announcement: we have finally watched all 261 episodes of the original Perry Mason. I guess it's time to go hunt up The Mandalorian on Disney+ and see what all the fuss is about.

In better news, my sister-in-law (so far) is better and should be going back to rehab soon. I hope after this they take better care of her!

The two highlights of our weekend were going out to lunch at Olive Garden with a portion of "the lunch bunch" on Friday (Alice, Ken, Aubrey, and Ken's sister Debbie) (James had gotten two restaurant gift cards for his birthday and we used one today, including buying Olive Garden's take-home $5 entree—we got spaghetti and meat sauce) and having Hair Day on Saturday. The latter was funny because Publix had their Danish on sale buy-one-get-one-free, and of course what happened: several people showed up with Danish! However, what was funnier is that we all picked a different kind: we brought maple, Lin got apple cinnamon, and someone else brought raspberry. So we had an assortment after all. Alex made breakfast sliders that were so good even I ate one (after giving James the eggs, of course—cooked eggs, ugh!).

On the way home from Olive Garden we saw a memorial billboard to Gale Sayers, who died this week. I don't know anything about football, but Brian's Song will remain in my memory forever.

Saturday we also had a trip to Lidl and I vacuumed—much fun, eh? It was at least more fun than Friday's visit to Kaiser for prescriptions and to Walmart to replace one of the burned-out floodlights in front of the garage. (Get LED lights, they said. They last forever, they said.) James replaced it immediately when we got home and I was quite upset that after it lit the first time, it didn't seem to go on again. However, when I went out at night, the photosensor did catch my movement and turn the light on. So the only thing I can think of is that Walmart (they are Walmart-brand floods, which have the motion sensor built into them, for the same price as the brand-name floodlights) has adjusted them so they only go on in the dark and not during the daytime, which I agree is much better. The original other bulb goes on any time day or night.

Anyway, the autumn decorations are now all up...just waiting for the temps to go down permanently instead of jacking up and down like they always do in the fall. At least it's not 90°F like it was last year, well into October.

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» Saturday, September 19, 2020
Judgments and a Judge Passed On
The good parts about this week, and weekend—including the joyous news that on Wednesday it was 100 days until Christmas, having Tin Drum for dinner on Thursday, James' appointment with his cardiologist going well, and, best of all, that it was cool enough to open the windows and doors, with a great breeze (and there were ordinary things, too, like the exterminator coming to head off the cooler-weather insect invasions and buying new frying pans at Bed, Bath & Beyond)—were completely overwhelmed by the sad news about Chief Justice Ginsberg, and also my sister-in-law ending back up in the hospital. Will you tell me how in the name of God's green earth that a woman in rehabilitation for an amputation, who should have been watched day and night, ended up with a UTI so bad it caused sepsis? And this is the second time it's happened while she has been hospitalized/covered by rehab. The Veteran's Administration medical care in this country is a farce. It really hasn't changed in one hundred years, when the Coolidge administration had it investigated for gross abuse of the system (people earning an annual salary for only working four days in the year—not in a week or a month, but four days only in one year—and orderlies selling the gold intended for fillings for veterans' teeth). Last time I was in a VA hospital it stunk of urine and feces.

It was bad enough inattention from the VA caused her to lose her foot in the first place!

As for Ruth Bader Ginsberg, what changes have taken place during her time in the court! These are freedoms we need to cherish and keep. God bless, Your Honor.

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» Sunday, September 13, 2020
A Varied Week

Well, what followed DragonCon was a series of interesting events (but at least not interesting in the Chinese sense).

On Tuesday, while I was dipping in and out of "Star Trek Day," I took down the master bedroom curtains, washed them, washed the windows, and did something about the window shade on my side of the bed (finally). The spring broke on it some time ago, and for many, many months now when I opened the window I just rolled up the bottom of the shade and secured it with a large paperclip on each side. It occurred to me just recently that we had a window shade we cut for James' "man cave" and had never put up; it's been propped up behind the door of my craft room since...well, you don't want to know. I tried it. It fit. So now I have a working shade again and the curtains are clean. (I have saved the broken shade; it's back behind the craft room door. It would be fine down in the "man cave" since James doesn't open the windows, but we can't get to the window now with a shelf full of modeling things in the way, and we never put the mounting hooks up anyway. Ah, well.)

Since it was cloudy out Wednesday morning, I put up the main autumn decorations outside: leaf mailbox cover, leaf wreath, fall banner, fall basket. Also did laundry and installed a "shelf" over one of the power outlets in the garage. These will be used to hold the rechargeable lights I found for his power chair if we have to take it out at night. I also put something away in his truck, and thereby hangs a tale:

Thursday James headed downstairs, got in the truck, and headed for physical therapy. Well, no he didn't. The truck wouldn't start. I should have simply told him to take the car, instead I just grabbed my pouch and took him there myself. On the way we discussed what to do with the truck: we figured we'd just call AAA and have them replace the battery. After all, it was five years old...

Well, no, I realized as I drove home, no it wasn't. The starter died last year, and they replaced the battery along with it. The receipt from November 2019 was in the glove compartment. So I called up the mechanic, who told me, sure they'd replace it free; it's under warranty. I told them I thought it was because the door didn't close properly when I'd put something in the cab. He told me that if it was just the light that had drained the battery, maybe they didn't even need to see it; if I could get it jumped off and then keep it running for awhile, the alternator would recharge the battery.

As I once again considered calling AAA, up the street comes our neighbor Gary, who walks his little daughter in the stroller every morning. I hadn't jumped off a vehicle in a dog's age, so I asked if he would help. We already had jumper cables, and the car...

Annnnnnd it worked. I locked the truck and left it running outside and just was about to take Tucker walking again (he got shorted on his first walk) but realized a whole hour had gone by and it was time to pick up James. Did I dare? Yes, I did, although I don't feel comfortable driving the truck; I dressed and went to get him. Just in case, instead of going directly to shopping, we drove home, turned it off, he changed clothes.

Yay. Restart. Still working, so far...

On Friday we had lunch at Top Spice [Thai restaurant] for the first time since the lockdown. Everyone likes Top Spice, so we had nine people, which was within safety guidelines. We also stopped in at Barnes & Noble (didn't buy any books; they don't have a thing I want) and at Hobby Lobby.

Did a bunch of other little things on Saturday including vacuuming the whole upper story and all the dust bunnies under the bed, and then it was Sunday and chore day (backed up my hard drive, too). So it was a varied week.

Big Thanks again to Gary for helping out!

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» Tuesday, September 08, 2020
The Final Frontier

Incidentally, if you did "DragonCon Goes Virtual" you got an extra fillip this year as well: today is Star Trek Day, the anniversary of the premiere of the original series. In celebration, has had a live, free virtual feed all day celebrating all the Star Trek series: they played all the pilot episodes, then began playing memorable episodes (the original series story they showed was "City on the Edge of Forever"), then took a break at 3 p.m. Eastern time to present 3 1/2 hours of all-new interviews with each of the series' casts, conducted by Wil Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation (and the ultimate geek) and Mina Burton, daughter of LeVar Burton from Next Gen and Reading Rainbow on PBS. The final interview featured Wheaton, Patrick Stewart, and Jonathan Frakes from Next Gen/Picard. I remember when Jonathan Frakes showed up at DixieTrek in 1988 with his beard; all the ladies (and I'm sure some of the guys) ooohed and aaaahhhed over it. He looked good then, and I swear he looks better every year. I sat there watching him talk and smiled a lot. Goodness, he's adorable.

Once the interviews were over, they did more memorable episodes.

So it was like having an extra day at DragonCon.

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» Monday, September 07, 2020
"Faith Manages"

In the spring, when the COVID-19 lockdowns began, we could only wonder peripherally about what would happen in the future. Right then the hospitalization and death statistics were too overwhelming. Cobb County cancelled the spring Library Book Sale two days before the event, even though I was already planning a way to get through the event safely (mask and then leaving the books downstairs for a week to let any germs die—the thought then was the virus only lasted on surfaces 72 hours). We managed to make it to Atomicon; Helen, GA, shut down the very next day.

As the spring, and then the summer moved on, more and more things were cancelled: Smyrna's Spring Jonquil Festival, Media West Con, then MomoCon and LibertyCon. DragonCon held out till the last minute, but then in July we got the word it was too cancelled.

Sadness, but a little bit of relief, too. Imagine DragonCon wearing masks, in all that heat! Certainly there would be fewer people, as many would choose not to travel and especially not to fly, but crowds... And frankly I wasn't really feeling up to it physically. In the spring, before it got hot, I was walking two miles a day and didn't feel bad, but every summer is harder and harder on me, and the thought of having to prep all the snacks, and cook the chicken and make the sandwiches, and then, the worst of all, having to get up early on Friday to fight rush hour traffic. The worst thing about summer is sleeping because even with the thermostat down to 68°F and three fans going, it's simply too warm.

Then the chatter started on the various Facebook groups devoted to DragonCon tracks: BritTrack, American Sci-Fi Classics, SF Literature, etc. They were going to try to do some virtual stuff; arrange some interviews via Zoom and post the videos on YouTube. Well, okay. This would be some small solace, but what, really, could they do?

"What could they do?" indeed! They succeeded past our wildest dreams. Eventually DragonCon Goes Virtual had a Roku channel that was split up into three tracks. One was "DCTVLand," which showed panels from previous years. We were treated to the classic 2009 panel with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, John Barrowman and Kai Owen discussing Torchwood in 2012, several interviews with the late Stan Lee and with Brian Henson, son of Jim, and more. A second track was the Fan Track, which featured panels from each of the multiple programming tracks at DragonCon actual: a BritTrack panel about tea and programming, costuming panels, Star Trek reunion panels, etc. The final track was "Main Programming," which included a virtual masquerade and a virtual parade. People sent in videos of themselves in costume to the former, people in costume marched around their back yards, local parks, and their own streets, and this was strung into a virtual parade interspersed with historical video of past parades.

What wasn't on Roku was on YouTube. BritTrack did a whole string of panels, including two on James Bond and one on Sherlock Holmes archetypes (Adrian Monk, anyone? Or Gregory House?) American SciFi Classics turned out some delightful stuff. Saw a Zoom interview with author Jim Butcher, old panels with Grant Imahara 😭, Alton Brown, Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk, Carrie Fisher 😭, and a brand new panel with the cast of Star Trek: Voyager. We even had a performance by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company that knocked our socks off. Also, it has apparently been a tradition at the masquerade—we haven't gone in years; too long a line—to play "Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century" during the judging. However, since DragonCon was being broadcast, they couldn't do it due to copyright violation. So they had people act it out. It was hysterical. You can watch it here!

In short, it was a weird idea that totally, fabulously, worked. Heck, there's programming online we still haven't seen. And they've promised us all this nonsense will be available through the $10 streaming membership we bought. Several of the tracks have their programming up on YouTube without a streaming membership. So many people schemed, dreamed, worked hard, and then gave us something we didn't imagine they could: they gave us DragonCon weekend.

In the words of J. Michael Straczynski: "Faith manages."

Thank all of you, and God bless. (Stay well!)

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» Saturday, August 29, 2020
Things Concluded

A "faithful friend" has departed.

We ended the week having some company: Maggi and Clay Weaver drove up from Warner Robins, and we had dinner at Fried Tomato Buffet (which has gone back to buffet, but you are required to put on plastic gloves when serving yourself). When they left, they had James' old power chair in their van with them.

Many medical things were sorted out this week: I had to call Kaiser's claim office, the physiotherapy place, and Hanger Orthotics to straighten out a matter of bills on Tuesday. On Friday James finally had his appointment with the wound clinic. Oddly, given the lather Town Park and Cumberland get into when someone "unauthorized" comes into the facility, Glenlake (like Southwood a couple of months ago) had no trouble with me accompanying James into the office. Thankfully, Dr. Agnew (she's really a physician's assistant, but she performs as a doctor, so I refer to her as one) said what was left of James' leg wound, mostly a raw spot from the blister that came up a couple of days earlier, was superficial. She wrapped it in a bandage infused with calamine lotion (an "unna boot") and advised James of the best way to wear his compression stockings.

We also worked it out that I would remove the bandage next Friday and send her a photograph of it via e-mail. She would then decide if he needed another appointment. She also said the next time his leg starts to look bad to e-mail her with a photo of it and she would try to arrange for him to get in the wound clinic rather than having him go to Urgent Care.

But Thursday was the big day: the deliveryman from National Seating and Mobility delivered James' new power chair. It's identical to the old one, except James asked for a taller headrest. The deliveryman raised it to the proper height, adjusted everything, and let James test drive it. After he left, we took it to Publix to try it out.

Of course this left finding room in the garage for two large power chairs, so I put a call out on Facebook, and it turned out Maggi was looking for a new chair, as her old chair has been failing. Maggi's son is a whiz mechanic among other things, and they also know people who tinker with things like this. They are sure Jay can find a motor for it, or just buy a new one to replace the leaky one, and even be able to tighten up the loose joints and straighten the headrest. A little sandpaper and some paint on the scrapes from the accident and the poor thing may turn back into a swan again.

Even Tucker got a little TLC, although he resented it: I gave him a bath before cleaning out the hall bathroom. He always comes out looking fluffy and feeling better, but you'd never know it by the way he looks. The dying calf looks of the Dame aux Camélias aren't a patch on Tucker's reaction to a bath.

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» Sunday, August 23, 2020
Drips in Multiple Locations

This wasn't one of our more sterling weeks.

I mean, it had its good points. I got the Region Free DVD player set up on Monday. On Tuesday I popped into Publix after going to Lidl and actually found isopropyl alcohol (limit was two bottles, I got two—I haven't seen a bottle of alcohol in a supermarket since March) and one last container of disinfecting wipes. On Friday I actually found more disinfecting wipes at Kroger, plus more disinfecting hand wipes.

Alas, apparently this run of luck ran us out of luck completely. Over the last couple of weeks I've been treating a deteriorating skin condition on the cellulitis (venous stasis cellulitis) James has on his left leg. It started getting really irritated-looking after I made the mistake of using a Band-Aid on the tiny blister he had. We called up Monday to see if he could get into the wound clinic, but the closest appointment they had was the next Wednesday. I made the appointment for Friday, but was pretty sure unless a miracle occurred, we were heading for Urgent Care sometime this week.

That happened Thursday; the leg was starting to swell and he had a red swollen area near his big toe. We did the shopping first, then ate dinner, then packed some snacks, then went to Urgent Care, because we knew this was going to be a long-haul thing as always. The big COVID-19-only quarantine tent was gone, and Urgent Care was smack full. All the 20 rooms were occupied and they barely got James in the waiting room. They wouldn't let me in, the sun was out and it was almost 90, the nurse said it would take hours. I went home (he finally got taken back to triage and then a room as I was driving home). At this point I wondered if they would send him to the hospital, but no, they kept him overnight; even fed him a dinky frozen dinner for supper and the same for breakfast. We texted a lot and did video chat on the Alexa app on our phones. They gave him IV antibiotics and took x-rays, a sonogram, and blood tests; he did have an infection, but nothing showed up on the x-rays and sonogram, but as far as I'm concerned Urgent Care knew less about leg wounds than I do (and I was right; they didn't actually treat the leg at all). Everyone was really nice, including the squirrelly attendant who met me at the door with hand signals around 9 p.m. when I showed up with James' C-PAP machine and more snacks for him (we always pack snacks for Urgent Care because the vending machines are too damn expensive and they have junk like chips; our snack packs have applesauce, a mandarin orange, a snack slice of cheese, a Kind nut bar, a 70-calorie brownie, and mixed low-salt nuts).

There was a sweet bit of business with Snowy the first time I came home alone. Usually when we get home from shopping or whatever, Snowy will start chirping loudly. I don't know how to describe it, but it's like a single call. Maybe it's a budgie version of hello, or alert!, or a "there you are!" greeting. And it's loud. "CHIRP!" So he kept it up while I climbed upstairs today, and I told him very seriously, "I had to leave Daddy at the vet for a while, Snowy." Snowy kept calling until I went back and repeated gently, "Snowy, Daddy isn't here right now. He's at the vet and has to stay there until they say he can come home." I have no idea if he understood a word, but only then did he quit calling and settle down.

They sprang James Friday afternoon around lunch time with two prescription antibiotics and no instructions at all for care of the leg except to wash it with water and put Vaseline on it if it looked dry and cover it. Are you kidding? He said it was dry there, but by the time bedtime came he had raw spots again and I had to apply ointment, non-stick pads, and more Coban tape. As I said, they know nothing about leg wounds. This is why I wanted to be there, to flag them down about this stuff. Oh, and the inflamed big toe turned out to be (they said) a fungal infection. So all that was just athlete's foot? When he's never ever had it before?

(We celebrated by having Dragon 168 for lunch. Chinese food and James home! Yay!)

James is still going to the wound clinic on Friday (the 28th) and Dr. Agnew will have a much better idea of how to treat it. They will probably bind it up again and have us not get it wet for a week, and then he'll have to go back next week and get it unwrapped to see if the wrap medicine has worked. They also made a followup appointment for him the day before with his regular doctor—actually not his regular doctor because ours (we both have the same doctor) is on long-term leave (we are hoping he did not get COVID-19!)—which we had to cancel and reschedule because the appointment was at the same time his new power chair was being delivered.

And if all this wasn't enough, this morning he logged on to work and I went to clean the master bathroom and found a puddle on the floor next to the toilet and a screw from the toilet tank on the floor. Now, I've found puddles a couple of times in the last few months next to the toilet. I thought it was coming from James having to unclog the toilet. Nope. The bolt was rusted right out. I mopped up the water and duct taped the bolt back in in the forlorn hope that it would block the leak and we could put off calling a plumber on Sunday. No luck. An hour later there was another puddle, so I threw an old towel down and got on the phone. I first called Superior Plumbing, who fixed the garbage disposal, but they didn't keep emergency hours. I would have to call another plumber whose phone number they gave me. Anyway, Cobb County sends out this book twice a year with companies that provide services, and I checked that out. Superior and Estes had the two highest satisfaction ratings, so I called Estes. An hour later we had our plumber and an hour later he was gone and everything was fixed (::sigh:: except the stain that's now on the ceiling of the room downstairs).

The plumber had to replace the innards of the toilet tank—both bolts that fastened it to the bowl had rusted through (the first one had already fallen out, the one I saw; he touched the second one and it fell out), and the float arm was nearly rusted through, as well. He said it was the first time he'd seen a toilet tank with both bolts rusted out at the same time.

Anyway, when he got finished with the tank, I think he noticed the toilet wobbled a little, so he tightened the bolts at the bottom. I was in there while he was working [yes, we both had masks on], sorting James' meds for the week, and I asked curiously, "If a toilet shifts sideways sometimes, does that mean one of those bolts is loose?" He said it could be (unless something was broken). So I had him look at the toilet in the hall bath, which does pivot sideways sometimes. He popped the cap off one side, stared, and said, "There's no bolt on this side," popped down to the truck and got one, and fastened it down. So that toilet's been sitting there for 14 years, missing one bolt. 🤨 Thank you, Red Oak Construction crew. Not.

And after all that, even though he gave it to me when I called, I don't remember his name. Anyway, thanks Estes plumber on Sunday emergency duty today.

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» Monday, August 17, 2020
The Long Road Back to Region 2
(or Region B, whatever the hell they're calling it these days.)

It all started with VCRs and the movie studios. You remember videotape, right? Initially VCRs were marketed as being used for "time-shifting." You wouldn't be home to watch Charlie's Angels or Laverne & Shirley? Back then it was over the air, no DVRs. If you missed an episode, it might be rerun in the summer. It might not. But VCRs solved the problem: program the unit, and when you got home, or the next day, you could rewind your tape and watch Bosley and the ladies or 1950s days at the Shotz Brewery. Then came places like Blockbuster Video. Were you a Get Smart fan who missed The Nude Bomb when it was aired in a mere 40 movie houses back in 1980? You could rent the VHS tape and realize that you really hadn't missed anything at all. (Trust me.)

But some people thought, "Wow, wouldn't this be a great thing to have so we could buy and watch our favorite movie over and over?" And they did finally start selling movies, at $80 a pop at first. But the movie studios were apoplectic. What if...what if, mind you?...people bought a movie and another VCR (yeah, a second one at $750 each back then—sure; let me tell you about this bridge in Brooklyn that's for sale..) and then started making copies of it to give to their friends! The movie studios would lose sales. And what if these same people started selling these copies?

Well, you could arrest them, of course. But that wasn't enough. So something called copyguarding was put on professional videotapes. If you did indeed try to copy one, the picture faded in and out and rolled. When DVDs got popular in the late 90s, copy encoding was put on them as well.

Alas, this didn't satisfy the MPAA. Once DVDs came along, movie studios had another concern: their overseas profits. Usually when a movie hits a cinema in the United States, it's another year before it's shipped overseas. So Galaxy Quest, for instance, which was released December of 1999, wouldn't reach cinema audiences in France, Great Britain, Australia, etc. until November or December 2000. But people in those countries who heard about this funny film...gasp!...might just buy the American DVD when it came out in May of 2000 and not go to see it at the cinema. The movie studio would lose their revenues from foreign countries. Quelle horreur! So Region Codes were devised. The US and Canada were Region 1, Great Britain was Region 2, Australia was Region 4, etc. (I just learned recently it's now Region A, Region B, etc. I'm still numerical. Sue me.)

This is just fine if everything that's released in Region 1 is also released in Region 2, etc. and vice versa. The problem is, that's not the case.

I've been an Anglophile since I read Lassie Come-Home in fourth grade and watched The Adventures of Robin Hood with Richard Greene in glorious black and white on TV. I love most of British television. I especially adore all their documentaries on mainstream television, the stuff that used to be on American television (remember the National Geographic Specials???) but are now usually relegated to PBS, Smithsonian, and other cable channels. And I have gobbled up any programming that was available: Britcoms on PBS, Masterpiece Mystery, Flambards (also on PBS), the British kids' book adaptations that showed up on Once Upon a Classic and Family Classics, British mystery and adventure series that used to turn up in the summer in the 1960s and 1970s (like Strange Report), the series that popped up after the FCC forced network television to give up a half hour of programming every night like Doctor in the House and Dave Allen At Large, shows that were brought to me by science fiction fandom (Doctor Who on PBS and grainy camera copies of Blake's 7 seen at conventions). And lots of them were eventually released on American DVDs: Doctor Who, The Good Life (a.k.a. Good Neighbors), All Creatures Great and Small, Pie in the Sky...

Alas, a lot of them weren't. This includes the aforementioned Blake's 7, The Goodies, Doctor in the House, Dave Allen of any persuasion, and, the unkindest cut of all, one of my favorite series of all time, Alistair Cooke's brilliant America which aired on NBC in 1972 and after that was only available to libraries until it was released on DVD—only in Region 2, of course—about a decade ago.

Now let's time-travel back to halcyon days...cue the flashback music, here come the calendar pages flipping backwards...those days around the years 2002-2004 when marvelous Media Play was still open and we used to play trivia on Saturday nights at Rockford's Bar & Grill (goodness, I still miss their Asian salad!). I think it might have been Jake and Nancy who came wandering in one evening saying they had found an inexpensive DVD player that could be region-hacked by entering a certain combination of numbers into the unit while it had no disc in it. Plus, at a time when DVD players were almost $100, this unit, a Cyberhome, was only $40.

We eventually ended up with three of them, all region-hacked, and they worked really well, until they started, one by one, to give up the ghost (we still have one somewhere; not sure if it still works).

Now we have to take a slight digression (I'll try to miss the left turn at Albuquerque). Ten, twelve years ago we were watching This Old House on PBS regularly as well as a series I really loved, History Detectives. (You can still find History Detectives episodes on PBS Passport.—highly recommended!) Unfortunately both Georgia Public Broadcasting (Georgia's PBS station) and WPBA (Atlanta's PBS station, two different entities) pretty much run fundraising every two months, weeks and weeks of This Old House and all the regular programming pre-empted for Joel Osteen preaching, Suzi Ormand talking money, some doctor advising you on your diet, old rock and roll specials, endless repetitions of the Presidents episodes of American Experience, etc. When the regular programming did return, we had missed two or three episodes. Now we can just go on PBS Passport and pull 'em up; back then you had to go to PBS' web page and watch it, of course, only on your computer.

So what I used to do was attach my laptop to the television with a serial cable, change the Windows settings so it had two screens instead of one, move the browser screen from screen one (the computer) to the television (screen two), and then play History Detectives full screen on the television. Yeah, it was going around Robin Hood's barn for the result, but it worked.

Around 2010, around the time the Cyberhomes started to go belly-up, we found this small, Windows 7-based computer at Microcenter, a Lenovo IdeaCentre. That's all it was, a computer: 6"x7 1/2"x1.25", but it did come with a DVD player. So after that we could watch History Detectives on this little computer via a Firefox browser, and since the DVD player on a computer is region-free, we could use that to play the Region 2 DVDs. And every so often I'd wander on to Amazon and check the prices on Region Free players.

Amazon Vine came to the rescue two weeks ago: they had a free-for-an-honest review Region Free DVD player on one of their lists! The listing was confusing; it said it only came with RCA cables (composite video) but the pictures showed it coming with HDMI, and so did the visual literature. So it arrived last week and sure enough, it was only coaxial or composite video (white, yellow, and red plugs), and when I hitched it up, it was not Region Free. (For a $20 DVD player, otherwise it was fine: played older fullscreen DVDs (Flambards) and newer widescreen video (Airport) well, the sound through the sound bar was good.) So I posted just that, that it was a good inexpensive player, but was not as advertised. I also found the manufacturer's e-mail on the manual and contacted them. They apologized, fixed the Amazon page, and sent me the hack for Region Free; like the Cyberhome, it was a matter of entering a certain code on the machine while it was empty.

So basically I'm back to Cyberhome territory again, except the Cyberhome video was a little better (component video, the red-blue-and-green plugs). There is an HDMI version of the unit that also has component video. To be perfectly honest, since only one of my Region 2 DVDs is HD, I'm not broken up about it not being HDMI. When we replaced (under extreme duress; the on-off switch on the previous set died) our television in 2014, we paid extra for a model with four HDMI ports. Every single one is in use and we have a splitter on one of them. So having this go from HDMI to composite is a ::shrug:: moment. I'm not one of these videophiles that has to have videos in pristine condition. To me the story on the DVD is the thing: I watched fourth generation, mostly blue camera copies of Blake's 7 for years, not to mention snowy episodes of Ask the Manager before my dad bought a signal booster and an antenna rotor for our outdoor antenna. The pictures were terrible, but I still got to visit with Vila and Avon, or Joe and Dana. That was the important thing. If using composite video means I can't see the pores in Dave Allen's skin while he's telling a falling-down funny joke, be it. HDMI would be nice; maybe some day...

And that's, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story.

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» Tuesday, August 11, 2020
The Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window...
...bright and sunny and 91 disgusting degrees. (With the heat index, 97.) I dream and fantasize about autumn (so long as it's not like last autumn, where it was in the 90s up until October 29), and live knowing that every step of August taken brings us one stride closer to October.

I am thinking...
...that I hadn't done a blog entry in so long that I'd do one of these for good measure. This way two things are accomplished at once. It's not like the news seems to have improved. Politics still raging hammer and tongs by people who seem ill-equipped to provide leadership (yes, I'm talking all sides). We've lost an elder statesman (John Lewis), a radio voice who was always interesting (Herman Cain), and an icon (Olivia DeHavilland, at age 104). Children have tried to go back to school, only to see COVID-19 increasing. Several days after New Zealand reopened after 104 days of lockdown, they are already seeing new coronavirus cases. We wash and mask and avoid others, and society seems to get meaner and ruder and crankier each day. Beirut is in mourning. Still can't find isopropyl alcohol, Lysol disinfecting wipes, and Lysol spray. Sometimes all that seems to stand between me and stark raving madness is instrumental Christmas music and books to read.

I am thankful...
...things are kind of balancing out. My sister-in-law did indeed need to get her foot amputated; the infection in it was too far gone to trust and she already had gangrene in one toe. She is presently at rehab a long hour's (actually more than an hour) drive from her home (the VA sucks) (and her rehab has been delayed due to a health problem that was at least taken care of quickly), so my mother-in-law is staying with another of my sisters-in-law near Gaffney, South Carolina. Sadly, this is nothing that will "fix" quickly.

James, at least, is back to work full time, starting three days ago.  Laundry day is now back to Wednesday. Snowy is singing happily "helping" Daddy work on the telephone. Tucker is in his usual catlike position asleep under the dining room table. I have solved the puzzle of mask carrying and Emma's housewarming gift is on its way through an increasingly beleaguered postal system. And, praise God, Kaiser did approve James' request for a new power chair. We're waiting for it to come in.
In the kitchen...
...the small slow cooker is running. I went to Lidl and to Kroger this morning (actually had to go to two Krogers because neither Lidl nor the Mableton Kroger had skim milk). Lidl had chicken drumsticks at 69 cents/pound and I wanted to get a second package (bought one last Wednesday). In a corner of the chicken frozen food case I saw these chunks of round roast marked "too good to waste." Their sell-by date was today and they were marked down to...$1.50. Yes, you read that correctly. Of course I bought one, originally priced at $13.55, and once home popped it into the baby crock pot with Trader Joe's Island Soyaki marinade and some sweet soy sauce. Cut it into quarters while browning it first, and realized the smallest quarter would not fit into the crock pot. Since it was round steak, I just sliced it up and finished it cooking for "steaklets" to go in a sandwich tonight. (James is going to make steak and eggs with his portion, I believe.) Anyway, what's in the slow cooker smells delightful. We had the thin pork chops I bought yesterday at Nam Dae Mun for midday dinner, and tomorrow I will cook half the chicken drumsticks for dinner and put the other half away.
I am wearing...
...a blue flowered tank top, black shorts, and white socks. (No khakis, since I'm not Jake from State Farm. 😁 )

I am creating...
...well, I've gone back to attempting order out of chaos and gone back to dubbing off items on the DVR to the DVD recorder. Most of the stuff is on there to watch, but I have things I don't want to lose, like Better Late Than Never (still silly but fun the second time around) and some rare Merv Griffin Christmas episodes GetTV showed a few years back. I'm also thinking about making "mask leashes" for sale. I cooked these up for James and I for when we are running errands to multiple stores. They fasten on the elastic bands on the face mask. This way the moment you get out of someplace and safely away from people, you can take them off and they will hang around your neck and you don't have to worry about having to carry it in one hand while manhandling groceries.

I am going...
...alas, at this moment, going nowhere in particular. Even Barnes & Noble is no fun any longer. They only seem to promptly stock bestsellers, so the mystery and SF sections are way out of date, and it seems every time I go there are more toys and junk and fewer books. The side of the store building says "Booksellers" not Toys'r'Us. Where are more books?

I am wondering...
...what caused a very scary spell of heart palpitations on Sunday night. I was out walking the dog and they suddenly came upon me as I was on the return trip, opposite the next door neighbor's home. I haven't had a spell like this since 2015. We spent nearly an hour wondering if it was bedtime for us, or Urgent Care for me, but my heart pill finally kicked in (this is normal; it takes around an hour to dissolve and get into my bloodstream) and it stopped as suddenly as it began. Once again, I did have very bad indigestion from dinner as happened the very first time I had palpitations, and the doctor did say they was linked to my acid reflux.

I am reading...
...A Furious Sky, a history of hurricanes in the U.S. Also a "Reader's Digest" book about the United States. The hurricane book was written by the same author who did Brilliant Beacons (a history of American lighthouses), so I am really enjoying it.

I am hoping...
...Candy (my sister-in-law) has no more health setbacks at rehab and can get through the two-week treatment with no more trouble. Having to adjust to the loss of part of her left leg is difficult enough!

I am looking forward to...
...actually, nothing. Everything seems to have been cancelled. Stone Mountain Park claims they are still holding the Yellow Daisy Festival. If so, I guess we'll mask up and bring lots of hand sanitizer and go. DragonCon's cancelled, so the next thing up after Yellow Daisy would be the Apple Festival; we'll see if that happens.

I am learning...
...I wish I'd learn patience, but I have so little of it sometimes. Things make me angry so quickly these days, and I hate that.

Around the house...
...have the ceiling fan on high and am just basking in it. Will be glad to take my glasses off when I finish this, because they are killing me.

I am pondering...
...peace...equality...understanding...and not understanding why we can't have it. Sometimes it seems we are going headlong to Blake's 7's corrupt Federation when we have always dreamed of Captain Kirk's ideal one...

A favorite quote for today...
"I don't care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It's enough to know that for some people they exist, and that they dance."
Mary Oliver

One of my favorite things...
Snowy, burbling budgie burbles behind me, chirps and cheeps all mixed up with the words he's learned: "Bad dog!" "I'm not a parrot." "What did you say?" "Bad boy!" "Good bird!" "Mama's boy." And his very favorite word: "HI!"

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Well, we have Hair Day on Saturday.

A peek into my day...
How about this? One of my favorite stories out of this year: even goldfish need love. The story of Monstro the sad goldfish.

If you'd like to participate, check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.



» Sunday, July 26, 2020

I hate July. I hate July with a royal passion. Everything bad happens in July. My mom died in July. My dad died on an August first, but what killed him hit in July. James had his first heart attack in July. I lost my PT Cruiser in July. As I have gotten older July has come to stand for all that is misbegotten about summer: the chronic, debilitating heat; the swarms of insects that pounce on me day and night; the sunlight that makes my eyes flinch and swim; the endless race from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned supermarket to air-conditioned whatever location and then back, to collapse in perspiration-soaked weakness under a ceiling fan; the endless cheerful chirping relentlessness of the weather forecasters proclaiming another sunny day...

As 2020 has been particularly odious, July has turned out to be just more moldy icing on a rotting cake. My sister-in-law's foot infection has taken a turn for the worse, partially due to what sounds like doctor neglect. She is going to have to have the foot amputated. A friend of ours who hoped a small surgery on her heart would correct her problem faces another, more complicated surgery in the autumn. There's still no word when James will go back to work...not to mention no assurance that he will. The heat is intense; we can't go out more than two hours before returning home exhausted. There's no watching the news anymore; it's too depressing.

There's only refuge in books, and budgie song, and Christmas music.



» Sunday, July 19, 2020
Pear-Shaped Again

Well, it's been a particularly pissy week.

James was supposed to work Wednesday since he was supposedly back on full-time work, but was called Tuesday afternoon by his supervisor. Somewhere in the kerfluffle over COVID-19, someone forgot to renew the purchase order under which James is paid. If he worked on Wednesday, he would what we would have termed while I was working at CDC an "unauthorized commitment." He was still scheduled to work Saturday, but he had to work that day that because there was no one else to take his place. So Wednesday we got the grocery shopping out of the way.

Wednesday night the other shoe dropped. My sister-in-law has been sick for several months. She had an infection in her foot that, unknown to her, was making her sick in other parts of her body; the symptoms were manifesting more like the flu. The infection finally got so bad they put her into the hospital, where they discovered the circulation in her foot was compromised due to a too-narrow blood vessel in her leg. She had a stent put in, and they sent her home in a new splint (she had been in one previously to keep her off the infected foot) and she thought she was actually getting better, enough to work from home. But it turned out her foot wasn't getting better, it was getting worse. When the visiting nurse came over this week, she checked the foot and saw the infection was spreading into the leg; she called an ambulance immediately to take her to the hospital. Apparently something had not been done properly, and now there is a chance she could lose the foot.

In the meantime summer has done its usual number on me, and I spent Thursday either in the bathroom or asleep, so Friday we took it easy, had a simple lunch at O'Charley's, stopped to pick up Gold Bond powder for my other summer complaint, and spent the afternoon at home. Saturday James did his stint for work, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., so I mainly did housework, including some of the Sunday chores.

And now we wait for them to tell us when he can work again. It evidently wouldn't have been Sunday, since the suits don't work then, so we had another day at home. We've progressed into season five of Perry Mason and are ten episodes in to Space Battleship Yamato 2202. The latter's storyline veers quite a lot from the original season two of the series.

[Update July 20: James' supervisor called late today saying that nothing can be done until there's some executive board meeting. That's suits for you, no decision until everyone can have another useless meeting. His sister is still in the hospital awaiting another test.]

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