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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» 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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» Saturday, July 11, 2020
Eyes in the Stars

James went back to working 40 hours a week this week; since he's still teleworking because he's immunocompromised and pretty much required to telework, all this meant was that we needed to leave his work desk and monitor out in the living room one more day.

As compensation for this, I was totally delighted to find an anime site which had the new version of Space Battleship Yamato (a.k.a. Star Blazers) available to watch with some advertisements. I started watching this series years ago, in the late 1970s, when my best friend Sherrye recommended it to me. "You have to watch this," she insisted. I didn't realize it was a serial story, so the first time I tried to watch it I came in the middle of second season and was totally confused. Who were all these people in the arrow-motifed white uniforms? Why was a World War II battleship spaceworthy? Who was that sneering blond haired guy with the blue skin? So I gave up on it, but the next time the first episode rolled around I came back. And was intrigued. And watched some more, and then got completely hooked.

Before Star Blazers, the only anime (back then it was known as Japanimation) I'd seen was Astroboy, Kimba the White Lion, and Speed Racer. None of them was very "deep." Yet here was a series about a young crew who participated in what was a nearly hopeless mission against severe odds, and they perservered and matured and fell in love or formed fast friendships and discovered wonders they didn't know existed. It was mind-blowing. And if you can develop a crush on an animated character, I did. Not the lead, of course; I never did that. No, it was on his quiet yet determined best friend, the "driver" of the spaceship "Argo," Mark Venture, who was my special guy.

When Star Blazers came to American television, it was intended for kids. American "suits" still didn't understand that Japanese "cartoons" came in all flavors, from material for children to material for adults. Space Battleship Yamato was an adult show, but Star Wars was still setting new records at the box office a year later and they figured an animated show about a crew of earnest Earthlings fighting dastardly aliens would be a sure thing for kids. So Star Blazers was expurgated for television—there were still big space battles, but blood wasn't shown, death was cut to a minimum (in several cases we got "oh, so-and-so got out just before the bomb exploded" line when in the original the person died), but amazingly the characterizations were left intact! So Susumu Kodai (Derek Wildstar) still went from a callow youth to an experienced deputy commander, his (mostly) good-natured rivalry with Daisuke Shima (Mark Venture) was part of the plot, and later his growing love for nurse and weapons officer Yuki Mori (Nova Forrester) remained. It was a revelation.

I still love the original version, but the new versions, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 and Space Battleship Yamato 2202, are marvels of their own. The new animation is stunning. The story has even more depth than before, with the storyline tweaked slightly, and there are (finally) more female characters within the crew. Yuki (Nova) is no longer the only focus; there's a weapons officer, a scientific advisor, a pilot, a nurse, and even what you might call a morale officer (all female), not to mention a supposed female ghost who "haunts" the ship's drive, involved in the story. The characters have more depth, and, like the new version of Battlestar Galactica, there are several "dark motives" going on under the surface. Even the enemy Gamilas (Gamilons) are more complicated: they're shown to have families, children, even deceased children that they mourn for. Starsha of Iscandar also has new tweaks in the 2199 storyline.

The only thing that bothers me about the 2199 story is that by allowing Kodai (Wildstar) bond with the female Cosmo pilot Yamamoto (they were both orphans), there was very little of the Kodai/Shima (Wildstar/Venture) friendship and competition in the story as in the original. Shima had his own arc in the mutiny subplot, but you got very little of the other best friends (occasional antagonists) initial plotline, and I did like the friendship there.

The rest of the weekend was devoted to errands—James finally got through to Kaiser's teeny brains that he was out of pregabalin, and we got to pick it up Thursday, along with going to Publix and Nam Dae Mun; Friday while James was at physical therapy I picked myself up a thimble at Hobby Lobby and food for Mr. Snow at Petsmart (where I met a sweet pit bull named "Nala" and her buddy the pit bull puppy), and then we had lunch at Okinawa on Dallas Highway.

Saturday morning we went to Hair Day, and that was nice. We had cheese and crackers, fruit and mini-muffins, and two home-made frittata dishes to snack on, and talked and talked, until it was time for James' Zoom club meeting. This meant it was my chance to vacuum...didn't do it last week and I emptied four canisters of mainly dog hair!

The only problem with this week was that the pad thai I had at Okinawa on Friday was spicy. Not pepper, not curry James said, so probably ginger. I still ate it, and my heart was fluttery all afternoon, but only after I ate some cherries. So I can't figure if it was the spice, the cherries (???), or just the heat, because after lunch we had stopped at Hallmark. I was seriously afraid I would have to go to urgent care because my pulse was 80-84 just sitting on the sofa no matter how I tried to relax. I finally took my heart medication and that took two hours to kick in. Wondering if my acid reflux is getting worse and triggering the rapid heartbeat.

The one thing we did not do this weekend was attend the Hallmark Ornament Premiere on Saturday. We simply didn't have time before Hair Day and after James' meeting it was too damn hot—almost 90℉. The ornaments were on display Friday afternoon at Hallmark, but unless you were a member of the Ornament Club, you couldn't buy them until Friday night. Since I really only want one thing (the Lord a'leaping for the Twelve Days of Christmas set) and James really only wants one thing (this year's airplane), we just hope someone still has them next week!

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» Saturday, July 04, 2020
The Case of the Terrified Terrier

Ah, well, the tide has turned. James is going back to 40 hours next week. We have been thankful for unemployment payments for filling in the gaps.

For now, however, we needed to stock the fridge while we have the funds, so part of the weekend was darting from grocery store to grocery store, Wednesday it was Lidl for French bread, cheese rolls, and eggs (and we found a nice steak to grill for Independence Day), Publix for the recent dearth of BOGO items and more whole wheat bread, Kroger for milk and low-salt mushrooms. Thursday we went to Patak's [the butcher] for cheap meats; the man behind us had a full cart and told me he was stocking up for a big cookout for his friends. We had lunch after shopping, and then went up to the Barnes & Noble on Dallas Highway. Damn, it looks like a toy store in there: rows and rows of games, stuffed animals, puzzles, and a bunch of other crap. If I wanted to go to Toys'r'Us, I would have shopped there previously. You are a bookstore: add more books!

On Friday we had to make a stop at Publix to pick up stuff we forgot (we always forget something). Then we could finally relax, pick up some lunch from Dragon 168, and come home and eat in the cool. Didn't do much more than shelve some books for the rest of the day, and we watched some Perry Mason.

Independence Day was a lazy day. James grilled the nice sirloin tip steak from Lidl (marinated in Island Soyaki from Trader Joe's), and we had it with tater tots, onion rings, and corn on the cob, with double chocolate gelato for dessert. We watched 1776 as always and mostly I read until it was time for the Boston Pops concert. They showed clips from previous shows, plus some new segments filmed with orchestra members playing from home and carefully edited together to sound as if they were playing together on stage. The fireworks were too short. 😁

We were trying to keep things low-key because Tucker has been becoming more and more nervous all week. When we first adopted him he was wary about fireworks, but after the first year he started to freak out more and more. He's now at the point where fireworks render him nearly powerless. He sits between James' feet or under my feet, trembling in every limb, to the point where his ears are vibrating, his jaws wet from drool. To take him out before bedtime, I have to lead him down the stairs and manipulate him into his harness, and coax him along, just to get him to pee.

Last weekend we bought him a Thundershirt, which we have avoided in the past because they were just so expensive and no one could promise it would work, and it has ended up working pretty well. At the beginning of the week, when there were just firecrackers and little poppers, it definitely improved his mood. He trotted up the sidewalk as if he owned it, just as always. Alas, on Friday and Saturday, things were still dicey. Friday night even with the shirt Tucker was still trembling, although I did get him outside for a little bit. They have relaxed the fireworks permits here in the last couple of years so that they can sell bigger and louder fireworks, including Roman candles. Well, the folks off the main street sure went for the big ones. There would have been a great sky show to enjoy if poor Tucker wasn't so miserable. Saturday I took him out before dark, so it went better, but during the evening he was wedged firmly between either James or I.

So I guess it has worked adequately, but no, it hasn't solved the entire problem. Poor Tucker will just have to go on believing he's being shot at.

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