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Sunday, April 22, 2012

A little hitch in our get-a-long

Hello, and time to catch up a bit on who, what, where, when and how we are doing.

My last post left us with the loss of Poppy, our son's German Shepard. His passing has been something of a wakeup call for the whole family and most of us have made some adjustments to our life assumptions, goals and lifestyles.  Nothing major or magnificent but positive results have already begun to surface.

First of all, I have intentionally lost 20 lbs since Christmas. 295lbs is still too much and I am no longer comfortable in calling it my playing weight so 230lbs will be a lot better on several levels.

Our plans to leave for the northwestern US territories is on hold for the moment.  This 2cm kidney stone has shifted to a point that it is intermittently blocking outflow from that kidney. A completely blocked kidney can fail within 6 hours or so of becoming completely blocked off.  I certainly don't want to be in the vast spaces of the west and have it get plugged so I am getting it blasted by a lithotripsy this coming Thursday.  I have found a couple of really great doctors in St Augustine and feel I am in very good hands.

My new GP here is also a full cardiologist and has gotten my blood pressure under control for the first time, ever. I assure you that failure to this point has not been due to lack of vigilance or trying.  Meds just do different things to me than they are supposed to do so nothing has worked before now.  Although 150/80 isn't really scary bad, my urologist would not proceed until a cardiologist would pass me so getting my bp down is a prerequisite to having the lithotripsy.

Mer is doing very well, getting in a lot of reading (her passion) and has been able to improve her BP and glucose with significantly less meds.   We are very happy here, but really miss being nearer to our kids.

Katie the Poo is doing very well, too. Her seizures seem to be much less frequent. She is on day 80 since her last one and that one and the one before it are the only two seizures that she has had in the past year that happened in less than 70 days. Compared to having them every 15-25 days for most of her life, this has been a real gift for her.

On the less positive side, I forgot to pull the power plug for the trailer tail light converter and have not started Clifford since January.  The batteries are stone dead (maybe 6volts but not much more). It was always one of those TODO things that I never did.... My Bad. I usually try to leave a maintenance charger on them when I can but that got left in Raleigh at Thanksgiving along with the air compressor and a few other non-essential "essentials".

Today, we are having rain in the campground. This is only the second rain we have had this year and it has been so dry that a lot of fires have sprung up all around north Florida. One of the worst is north of us and when the winds come from that direction it is hard to see across the campground. Fortunately, the breezes rarely come from the north.

It's been a big gap in this journal and I will try to keep it a little tighter from now on.

ttfn
Budd

Friday, February 17, 2012

Poppy the Protector has left the building….

My little buddy made his 9 years count well and even his short fight with cancer never diminished his presence. Genetically, his bark was worse than his bite but woe be to anyone or anything that he KNEW was a threat because they would never hear him coming. He would just cut to the chase, without hesitation and could take down a horse in a heartbeat without sweating.

I never feared anything or anyone with him around because he was as powerful and stealthy as a Navy Seal and just as devoted. His bark was just so all knew where the buck stopped.

Thank you Poppy for your life, love and dedication to us.

His duties have passed to Hercules the Humongous but Roxy the Religious also stands ready to be reckoned with. Just think of her as a Hippy that ran out of drugs…. and mind your manners. She might look like a pussy cat but she has the heart of a Wolf.

Ok, Herc, it’s up to you, now as chief peacekeeper. We are in your hands.

ttfn

Budd

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pollen Time

Weather like we have been having all winter was bound to have some disadvantage show up… I guess it is early pollen.  Hard on folks with contacts and neat freaks.

The good news is that it is nowhere near as bad as it gets in Raleigh or Boulder Colorado, or a lot of other places I have been… but it is still here and I left my HEPA filter back in Raleigh when we left. It’s not a bad thing but it is a little annoying to keep finding grit in your eyes.

Today was another beautiful day, a few degrees cooler than it has been but mid-60’s is not something to grouse about. We ate at the Sonic Drive-in and then drove on to the beach and just sat watching kite surfers, waves and birds.  A nice park ranger came by and told us we could not park out on the harder damp sand but had to be back “behind the cones".  If I had wanted to be back there in the loose and drifting sand (did I mention it was a bit windy today) I would have parked back there. There was no one on the beach other than the 3 Kite surfers, a couple of cars and someone riding a bike out on the hard sand.

I am not really afraid of getting the SMART stuck back there but I really did not like the stuff getting up into the bottom because of the low ground clearance.  Still, we moved back behind the line and sat there for a very long time just absorbing the beauty of the day and our own company.  It is impossible to not be thankful for every moment we have together, whether we have to park behind the cones or not.

ttfn

Budd

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just a Beautiful Day

Even a bird knows a nice day when he sees it. Just stood there for a long time.
What can I say? We have not been over to the beach since before Christmas and today seemed to be the perfect day for it. Sure, 5 degrees warmer would have made it the best possible but no worries. It was grand!

We first felt it calling on my birthday (yesterday) but it was still kinda cool for the beach breezes.  We wound up down on St Augustine Beach – public access beach and pier at the north end of A1A just before the Anastasia State park property.  They had pulled in all of the stairs down to the beach so it would have taken some risky rock climbing to get to the sand.

We just drove farther down A1A to find another access where a walk out onto a dune bridge convinced us to find a drive on access ramp.. and we did.  The tide was low so there was a lot of well packed  exposed beach and very few cars or people.  Quite a contrast to the same place in September and October.

Mer decided she wanted to walk on the beach so off she went and I just sat in the car and watched her along with the surf, the sand, the birds and a few people that came by.

30 minutes later, she was back and I had collected a few photos of the events around me which I put into this album. I thought it might be nice for me, later, on a gloomy day, to pull up a video of such a glorious day at the beach.

Enjoy,

ttfn
Budd

Monday, January 16, 2012

Make-Do’s and MileStones

I did take the Verizon Pantech UML290 USB Modem (“..eh… what’d he say”) back to Best Buy. Maybe common sense won out…. or maybe it didn’t but I am not locked into two years of $80 (plus taxes and fees) per month payments.
I am also locked out of  30+ megabit-per-second data rates…. I am not sure that I can say exactly that I feel better but I do feel a touch of relief.. when I think about it.
I will make-do with what I have left, which is the irksome 802.11b park wifi with dialup speeds (when I am lucky).  I also can tether through my Sprint phone but since Christmas, the 4g data rates have been cut in half and though that is better than the park wifi, it is more of a hassle to keep using as it ties up my phone.
I saw an announcement of a Sprint Samsung Galaxy Nexus with Sprint LTE compatibility coming out in the next few months and that gives me some hope for a better solution, long term.  Short term, I am still very frustrated.
Cousins Bob Fisher and Jim Sargent dropped in for a couple of days last week.  They are from the Toronto area, really great guys and usually spend their winters in their Airstream trailer in southern Florida. It was really nice to get to see them, again, even if it was for such a short visit. It has been several years since we have been with them and nearly 10 since we got to have a reunion of sorts with them and Bob’s Family.  It was a hoot.
Of considerably more importance, a milestone of sorts has been reached in SIL Bette’s treatment and the second of the two mandatory operations was completed last Friday.  She is still in the hospital until the end of the week but the surgeon feels really confident that with some long months of chemotherapy, she should now have a long life ahead.  I think we all sighed in unison when we heard this.  I feel like I have been holding my breath for months. I really can’t begin to imagine what Bette feels, though. Her spirits are up despite the grueling prospects of the next few months. She is one really special person and more than deserves special prayers.
We have had a cold snap (of sorts). It’s hard after living in North Carolina and seeing week long stretches of freezing weather, to call low to mid 30’s “a cold snap” but when in Rome….
Mer is great and so is Katie. The RV park is full most nights and we are still loving life, here.
ttfn
Budd

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Post Christmas Trauma

Yep, here it is, two weeks after my last post and I am in a real quandary.  Yes, Christmas was great!  We spent the eve with Mer’s brother and his whole family.  I think there were 27 of us and only 1 was missing due to being out of the country.

The snackers’ buffet dinner was delicious and varied so we had plenty to eat without a massive sit-down meal of gigantic proportions. A much easier solution for a large family gathering than our Thanksgiving dinner which took 4 tables, 3 cooks and two kitchens to pull off for 13 folks.  Granted, Thanksgiving was a more “traditional” meal but no one left either one, hungry.

But, back to my quandary.  I mentioned in my last blog (I still hate that word) that I was going to get “my precious”, a Pantech UML290 Verizon USB Modem.  Well, I did… eventually.   Sure, I got there and sure the order, placed online on BestBuy.com for store pickup had gone through including the charges. But actually getting this little guy in hand at the store turned out to be a 90 minute hassle of mind numbing proportions.

In short, the order, though confirmed and charged, was automatically cancelled at the store when the clerk tried to pick it up because their inventory said they were out.. Never mind that they had 22 of them sitting in the drawer. So I spent the next hour waiting for various authorizations amidst the turmoil of last minute shoppers that had the BestBuy printers in a tailspin trying to make hardcopy contracts for human signature.

But, eventually, my patience (and Mer’s)  prevailed and I left the store with “my precious” in hand. It was still a half day before I could plug it in and be Wowed…. and I was!

Yes, it is everything I had hoped for. I get up to 31 mbps download and nearly 5mbps upload speeds per Speedtest.net and the dataflow is as good or better than I usually had on my cable internet back in Raleigh.

This was the best I have gotten but you can see the trends over time before and after I got the UML290 USB Modem (prior to 12/18/2011) until today. The first spike was while we were on Time Warner in Raleigh for Thanksgiving. Prior to that anything over about 500kbps was all Sprint 4g/3g and the rest was the campground wifi. Just pause your cursor on the graph to see the date/time and speed of any point.

Now for the quandary….  This device has only two service plans available for it… A 5 gigabyte for $50 plan and a 10 gigabyte for $80 plan. Each comes with a $10 per gigabyte over limit fee.  Ok, you say, I can live with that for such great connectivity. However, it only took 4 days to use up the whole 5 gigabytes of data allowance my contracted plan had.

Out of this, only about 400 megabytes was due to streaming video.  OK, so I wanted to catch up on a couple of Two and a Half Men episodes I missed. The rest, just disappeared, quickly!

No wonder I have been so frustrated with the internet connectivity I have been experiencing “out here”. I am still picking the glass out of my teeth from hitting the connectivity wall and I’m trying to find all the holes in this data bucket.  I think the real issue is that I do a lot of different things besides read email and follow a couple of forums and blogs.  I do have some online backups setup, too, which I am sure may have taken a few hundred megabytes but that is a once a week hit. I just have a lot of stuff in “the Cloud”. Maybe there is a lot of data syncing going on with that stuff but it’s not like it changes much.

The short of it is that I am in love with this Verizon 4g LTE USB Modem and what it delivers in performance, even with no external antennas on it. But I am crushed by the obvious ongoing cost.  The $50 per month (plus a 15% federal tax) was ungainly but I was willing to work around that.  But estimating my ongoing monthly expense for what looks like 70 to80 gigabytes makes it impossible to sustain.

So, I can’t live with it and I can’t live without it and thus, I am heartbroken.  I finally found a solution and can’t make use of it because of the costs and it has to go back to BestBuy in the next couple of days. 

On other fronts, Katie has had another seizure, her second in 26 days, and that worries me, a lot. She is such a sweet individual and just does not deserve this terrible flaw.

We are settled in here until about April. Mer’s brother and his family just can’t get a break. His neuropathy has worsened a lot and over the holidays they found out that his oldest daughter has to have a radical double mastectomy, immediately!  More prayers are surely needed for them.

I hope that we can be here for support for as long as they need but that can not take the sting out of it nor fix any of the problems they are struggling with.  So far, all of these devastating health problems would likely have been caught and corrected during the recommended regular age related health screenings. Sure haste makes waste but it is very true that he who hesitates is lost. I know that sometimes, it is very hard to find the middle ground in a daily swamp full of alligators. Please do your due diligence and keep up with your recommended health screenings. The inconvenience and cost is cheap insurance if prevents even one devastating medical problem later on.

On this note, let me close by saying the weather has turned chilly, too. Freezes are expected over the next couple of nights but beautiful blue sky days are mixed with the anticipation of seeing Mer’s cousins passing through in a few days. They are special people and we have not seen them in several years. They are on their way from Toronto to south Florida, interim weather permitting and it will be wonderful to see them, again.

PS. 1/5/2012 Update: The coldest it got in the campground was only 31 degrees and the cousins are due in this afternoon!

ttfn

Budd