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, 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.