greatbear: (forearms)
I guess it is that time once again. Another year drawing to a close, taking me with it to places unknown. I have to say that this year has been one of my best, despite having a great deal of medical issues. The highlight, of course, was getting married. I keep replaying snippets in my head of that wonderful day. So much love, happiness and warm feelings condensed into a single day that the effects keep lingering. I got to meet people I haven't seen in way too many years, and yet we picked up right where we left off. There was so much worry about making sure everything was right, that all melted away on that lovely Saturday in late June. As quick as it all came together, it faded away, though, yet left us both giddy and excited and, well, "different." Hard to describe, but it's a real feeling.

We had already planned our vacation to PTown last year, and we used that as our honeymoon of sorts. We had our usual good time, and the two of us felt refreshed in the way a proper vacation should, with maybe a bit extra. We had a lot of momentum and enthusiasm. Life felt worth living.

As some of you who read this on a regular basis, you know I began the year with health-related issues centering on my deteriorating back, with the year before leaving me in the worst condition yet. I metered my abilities and worked toward the big wedding day as best I could, and I did have a few setbacks. Once the ball was rolling, though, we busted ass. Mayhem Acres, rather neglected over the past few years because of my problems, became a beautiful garden once again, one that would've made my Mom proud. People who didn't attend the wedding who saw photos would wonder which park or resort we had used for our big day, and were astonished when we'd say it's our home. Those were words which made me smile every time. I've worked hard over the years, building this place from an overgrown vacant lot into a home where we can do whatever we want. Both of us vowed to be a lot more social/sociable and share in our good fortunes more often, inviting friends over for parties and other activities, as long as my health kept up.

I began making up for lost time by doing needed upgrades on the house, with a number of renovations, from a new front door and entryway, to new kitchen lighting, home automation, enterprise-grade networking, security and alarm systems and a number of other bit meant for making life easier and more comfortable in the future. Jeff decided it was time for a new car, and he got himself a nice Subaru Forester with all the goodies. This has been perfect for extended trips needing a lot of room as well as good gas mileage. I indulged my geeky kid side with a quadrotor drone and some other toys because I deserved it. Life was pretty damn good.

As that old saying goes, everything good must come to an end. Or, in my life these days, I can only get so far before my degenerative disc disease rears its ugly head once again and shuts me down in my tracks. In September, much like last year, I went from flying high to once again hunched over in lots of pain, unable to move without a cane, and in need of nasty painkillers to survive. I began the usual easy treatments with no success, then had the corticosteroid injections in my back before the holidays. This left me slightly better off, but still unable to get far without the cane, and with continuing atrophy in my legs making me weaker with every passing week. I guess I am used to this, I lived each day in a slow fog, with few accomplishments. It was also looking like I just might make it though the holidays without getting my usual cold/bug/flu/seasonal malady, but right before Xmas the two of us got a nasty lower GI bug, with mine being outright nasty. We made it past the worst of it by Christmas day, but our original dinner plans of a nice ham and trimmings with other goodies gave way to frozen French bread pizzas, potato chips and holiday cookies for dessert. Christmas day itself was almost surreal for me, after waking up I meandered into the living room and stayed there the entire day. We exchanged gifts we said we didn't want but we got anyway, we managed our little dinner after a week of gastrointestinal apocalypse, and the day closed with the ISS making an appearance in the night sky above the house. I stood outside, watching the flyover for the first time, smiling and misty-eyed, waving at the little dot fading over the horizon as it helped carry my hopes and dreams given to me as a kid with my love of science at a very early age.

Last night we wondered about what to eat, and I told Jeff I was in the mood for lasagna, though we had nothing of the sort, nor the wherewithal to make it after Jeff's long day at work, so we decided to get take-away from our local favorite Italian place. I should've known that thing were not quite on track, as it took Jeff longer than expected to return with the food. Apparently they messed up our order, gave part of it to someone else, then Jeff finally returned home exasperated with our dinner, minus some. That experience alone was making us rethink our patronage, but it wasn't until we sat down and I began eating the lasagna that the other shoe dropped. My lasagna was bad. Not improperly cooked, but spoiled. Like most restaurants, certain dishes are made ahead of time and refrigerated, and cooked when ordered. Well, apparently my lasagna carryout was made about a month and a half ago, and when I got far enough into it, my stomach turned. I endured another night of intestinal distress as a result. I've still not fully recovered.

I've had a lot of ups and downs in the past few years, and despite the setbacks this year, this one was overwhelmingly positive. The first week in January I will head back to the doc once again, for a second booster shot in my spine. As had happened with a setback in May that had me crawling back to the doc for those frighteningly long needles in my back, the second time did the charm, so I am hoping this time the double shot does the trick. I know my time hiding from the knife is fading, and one of these days I have to decide if I want to fuse my back with plates and screws giving me permanent limitations for the rest of my life is the thing to do, or keep going as I have been, hoping for the best. The other thing is the ultimate realization that I can no longer function as I have for my first 50-some years, and finally apply for disability assistance. My savings are running thin, and I'm too far away from collecting my pension. My ego keeps me from doing this, because, despite knowing and being told differently, I feel this is giving up. I've been too independent in my years, and I am used to doing things my way, on my own terms, to build and maintain my existence. Mom and I were practically dirt poor, and I did my best to use all my abilities to change that completely. Those abilities did well for me, Mom, Jeff and many others through the years, and I hate seeing them fade. I'm hoping this new year brings some surprises of the pleasant type rather than an early gateway into assisted living.

May you all have a fantastic 2015!

Gnu ears

Dec. 31st, 2012 10:40 pm
greatbear: (Default)
Here's hoping that everyone will have a most excellent 2013. 2012 had a lot of joy and disappointment for the two of us, but we are looking forward to the new year. Resolutions? Too much work. We already know what we want and don't want for the upcoming year. I just want the unexpected to be more better than bad.

Happy New Year!
greatbear: (seasons greetings)
So, 2011 will soon be history. Good riddance. 2011 kicked both our asses, and not in a good way. Health issues, no income for me, lots of unfinished projects, uncertainties, a big decline in Jeff's mom's health due to Alzheimer's, the list goes on. We had some fun things happen to break up the bad stuff, of course, the trip to PTown, a few weekend getaways, visits by friends, that sort of thing. The good stuff give us hope for more as 2012 approaches.

Here's hoping that 2012 is a good one, and all that Mayan gobbledygook is just that. In the meantime, I'm gonna go work on cars.

Happy New Year, everyone.
greatbear: (Default)
The last few days have been rather productive given the circumstances I guess. I spent a good amount of New Year's Day and the day after in a buddy's garage (call it Mayhem South) working of Jeff's truck doing some tasks I put off due to both our physical conditions. I had replaced the leaky intake manifold gaskets AGAIN (the 4.3l Vortec engine the truck has is prone to water leaks from the intake manifold, it's a design flaw in the gaskets and the aftermarket redesigned versions were completely out of stock when I first did the repair) as well as a few other tasks. As it turns out, not only do I have to take it slow and easy attempting work while hunched over under a hod these days, my long-time buddy had just been beset by the same sciatic nerve pain that I had been dealing with and ultimately became major surgery to fix. This made a few hour job span two days because of this as well as wanting to spend more time at our respective homes for the weekend. I drove Jeff's now nicely-performing truck home, then noticed in the last mile or so the heat started to disappear and the temp gauge rising. Not good, but I figured there still might be air in the coolant cavitating the water pump or something. Coming home I added more than a gallon of extra coolant. NOT GOOD. No leak to be found in the work area, and nothing going inside the engine. Putting the pressure tester on the engine I discovered a huge leak at the water pump. Cthulhu dammit. I installed this water pump early last year and had fits with the included gaskets. Apparently the alternate ones I installed were no better, one just blew out, apparently from the engine's regained ability to build up proper cooling system pressure. Oh well, that project will be tackled in a few minutes. A couple hours to replace a fifty cent part. Two, actually.

Jeff is back at work since Monday, and doing okay so far. Despite the organization's reworking of his duties to be in an office mostly solo doing less-stressful work, he still came home very tired the last couple days. I hope he does not overstress things while there. Try as I might, I hope his life at home is not such a bother. We both have doctor's appointments on Thursday for our respective ills.

I had put some of the house upgrades on hold for the time being. The very cold and windy weather we were saddled with over the past several weeks was not conducive to cutting two large, 2ft by 6ft holes in my living room ceiling (Ceiling Bear can see Russia from here!) to finish off the skylights only to have frigid air from the attic howling into the house until I get the framing and drywall into place. No fun there. No hurry there, I will do this in the spring when I can also do some painting and other upgrades/repairs as well. Since I have to reframe and replace two exterior doors, I'd prefer there to be warmer weather for exposing the indoors for hours at a time. in the meantime, I am doing small stuff like installing and upgrading the outside fixtures to LED versions. I also have a lot of work to do on other vehicles in the Fleet of Mayhem. The Stratus needs an oil change, new shocks and struts, new plugs and wires and timing belt, the old truck needs a ton of work, and the new truck gets minor attention. Not enough "me" to go around.

My garage buddy showed me his MRI pix. I told him to get ready for the same sort of surgery I had in all likelihood. This is going to be rough on him, as he's the sole breadwinner in the family who runs his own business, and is having mortgage problems as well. I hope he gets through his ordeal a lot faster than I did.

I found this astonishing video via Bearbook. I always found that radio personalities never look like what you imagine from their voices. Also, knowing a few people in the radio biz, I've come up with a not-exactly-kind term of "radio face" to describe people who would not generally be considered anywhere near the vicinity of gorgeous. Here's a case where the face and the voice do not match, yet make for a very uplifting story:

I am always amazed when someone's voice does not "fit in" with their personality or other perceived traits. Look at Susan Boyle, for example, who waddled onto the Britain's Got Talent stage to dismissive words from the judges, only to totally floor them and win not only the audience's hearts, but those of entire countries. It seems Ted's rather unique request for money has paid off too. Expand the comments on the YouTube page for more info. He has the perfect face, and the perfect voice, for radio. I wish him well in his turnaround of life.


Jan. 1st, 2011 02:29 am
greatbear: (cirque du so gay)

OMG IT'S 1/1/11!!!!111!eleventyone1uno!

Enjoy this day, it's not going to happen again for another hunnert years. And enjoy the rest of these upcoming days as well. May they treat you well, find you with good fortune and health.
greatbear: (Default)
Dear 2010,

I had high hopes for you, but you let me down. Sure, things started off on the right foot, but little by little, you let me down. We did have a few bright spots among the bad, and I'm lucky to have gotten away from you mostly intact. You even tried and failed to do the same with Jeff in your last ditch effort to spread evil. So, with no further ado, here's the damn door. Don't care if it hits you or not on the way out.

The Manic Mechanic

P.S.: Dear 2011: You're on probation starting now.
greatbear: (Default)
Unlike many here on LJ, I am not going to post photo retrospects, top best/worst music/movies/etc or anything similar. Instead, I am going to shoo '09 out like the obnoxious, destructive adolescent it's been to me. There were a few bright spots, but overall, it was one of my worst years, and I am not sad to see it go. So many disappointments, injuries, health issues and work-related hell that really need to go away.

The bright spots seem to belong more to Jeff, who's career change has left him with more time for himself and the opportunity to take vacations without the specter of last-minute cancellations. I am hoping this leads to a more enjoyable decade ahead. So far, so good.

Twenty-Ten is going to be one of rebuilding for me/us. Trying to get the house and yard fixed up, inviting more of our friends to share in good times and good food, seeing more of the world we live in. Lots of promises made, now it's time to put them into action.

I wish everyone reading this all the best the new decade has to offer.

Happy New Year!
greatbear: (old graybeard)
The past several days have been spent climbing up and down short ladders in the garage and the house, running cabling for all manner of applications. Sadly it was too cold and ridiculously windy on Wednesday to be able to get the Cat5e, RG6, replacement cat3 4-pair and some alarm and control cabling run to the garage I'd been hoping for. No chance to test the pulling lube either. Instead the wiring marathon has been going on inside the basement and the garage. A lot of this is stuff that's been put on hold for years, or had been partially completed. I finally have a cable TV drop in the studio, and the little 9-inch Panasonic TV/DVD player is free from the fiddly heck of the rabbit ears. There is also a finally operational phone jack here as well, so the base for the multi-handset cordless phone setup got tucked away in here as well. There are two gigabit ethernet drops in the wall as well, now all I need to do is get an appropriate switch. I have six more runs of cat6 and cat5e to run for the home theater setup and the networked printers in the closet.

The garage door opener project has blossomed into electric wiring upgrades and installs, some much needed organizing and cruft-tossing, and completion of more postponed chores and the like. I've collected parts and supplies for a lot of tasks over the years and it's high time it all gets put to use. '09 will be the year of needed home repairs and upgrades, and a reclamation of my garage space.

I had one of my long-term fears realized this afternoon when I found the dessicated remains of a kitten in the garage. I always worry that critters would find themselves into the garage when the doors are opened, and they'd get locked inside when I close up shop. Usually it hadn't been a big deal, anything that had gotten trapped inside usually gets a chance to escape in a day or two when I open the doors back up. Unfortunately, this little critter must have found it's way inside at a time before I had gone on vacation or otherwise not entered the building for many days. I felt downright awful after my discovery and had to take a bit of a break. I usually make sure to make a lot of racket to scare out anything that might find their way inside. I guess it doesn't always work.

In other dead animal news, while running cabling in my basement with the help of a friend, I discovered yet another dried up, rather substantially-sized snake dangling off the foundation wall. This is the second time this has occurred, and in roughly the same spot. Ironically, the discovery was made as I was talking about the first encounter from a couple years ago. Near as I can tell, there is a gap or other opening where the house sill plate meets the concrete wall near the front door that cannot be seen. This is also where a lot of crickets and spiders manage to enter as well. My best guess is that the snakes find a home in the area as well, no doubt drawn by the bounty of insects. I think the snakes eventually get too large to work their way back outside, and eventually starve. Oddly, I never smelled anything nasty in the basement (or the garage for that matter). The area where this occurred is in a far corner of the basement used only for storage and rarely accessed. One more task to add to the list.

Jeff has Friday off, making it two days in a row for the first time in a while. He took apart the xmas tree and we cleaned up the living room. A couple more items to put away and the mess can go up in the attic until next year. The holiday was a quiet one, and just what I needed. I am trying to get back into my old groove, find my focus and do the stuff I like doing. If the upcoming days unfold as these last ones have, there's a lot of change that's going to happen.

Gnu ears

Dec. 31st, 2008 11:27 pm
greatbear: (face)
To all my friends, I wish you the best in 2009. '08 was not too bad for us, and we are hoping for better things in the coming year. Yes, there's uncertainty brewing in the job front, and the ever-present economic problems. There's some change in the air, and let's hope it's for the better.

Here's to a great 2009 365.
greatbear: (Default)
I have a lot of hope riding on this year. There is a lot of uncertainty I am feeling about it though, as far as things I have no control of. Politics, the environment, employment to name a few. This country is a stressful mess. The Current Occupant of the White House still has a full year to continue plunging the US into hell. I keep thinking that it could not get any worse, but it still inches down. I wont let this get to me unless it affects me directly.

As for things I have control over, this is the year I will get my house in order, in the literal sense. I need to clear out the basement, finish projects started years ago and re-roof the house and garage. I also want to reclaim the garage from accumulated cruft so I can enjoy working there again. The yard will get needed attention this spring as well.

Jeff started a new job days before Xmas. I am hoping this, the third time, is a true keeper. His initial job upon returning to MD turned out to be a living hell, and after a hostile takeover of the facility, the management team was going to be replaced. His second job turned out to be started under false pretenses, with the initially offered teaching job never happening. This time, back as the director of dining services for a small retirement home we are hoping is worth having. Jeff likes working in that environment, and it shows. He has a lot of great ideas to bring to the facility.

There is some toys to consider as well. We've been without a decent living room television for at least five years. A new home theater setup, a completely revamped home LAN, a new server and the multi-room sound and video system needs to be finished. Garage toys are not as involved, the most major being a TIG welder.

I want to also keep working to get my health back in line. Without really thinking about it, I ended up losing at least 20 pounds by just controlling the how much I eat at meals and cutting out unhealthy snacking. To that end, I would like to do more to regain some of my lost strength due to injuries, illnesses, stress and just plain being unmotivated. That last point in the biggie in all of the above. I have never in my life been so unmotivated even in doing things I enjoy.

Here's to '08 being a good one. For everyone.
greatbear: (fuzzy)
So here I am, at the end of '07. It hasnt been such a bad year for me, measured against the past few. While I did not make resolutions in the traditional sense, I did make some efforts to better my life, and hopefully Jeff's as well.

I wanted to take time for some real vacations and travel. To that end we got a new travel trailer and made a few trips with it, the biggest being a week in P-Town. Having lots of luck aside from burning out the transmission in the old truck, I plunked down some serious coin on a new truck to make our trips much more enjoyable. Next year will hopefully find us on the road going places we've been wanting to for a long time.

I had hoped to make some progress bettering myself physically and mentally, given the injuries and incredible losses I had been dealt with since the last year. While I have made incremental progress there, I've a way to go still. '07 was not without some dark clouds either. I lost some friends, but I think I made some new ones. I want to continue with that last point.

Today I spent the day being my usual self, adding a second alternator to the new truck (reasons for this will possibly be in a future post that will only be of interest to gearheads), and dropping a nicely built LS6 454 into a pretty schweet '70 El Camino owned by a friend of a friend. I still smell of oil and solvents. I guess it's a comfortable feeling for me to bid farewell to this year with me being me. It's what I do best.

Happy New Year to all of you on Livejournal that have followed my life through these pages. You've made a huge, positive impact on my well-being. I only can hope that it continues.

greatbear: (jeff and me)
Happy New Year everyone. May '07 bring you joy, fun, prosperity and good times all around.

To 2006

Dec. 31st, 2006 09:11 pm
greatbear: (big beard)
I guess this is where I bid farewell to old '06.

I had high hopes for this year. Spring was really looking good. Cool, new projects, little Bear to keep all of us entertained, Mom's cruise on the Baltic Sea, nice vacations planned for Jeff and I...

Only to be ripped from me in the worst possible fashion.

Instead, 2006 left my life in ruins, my mental state one of complete chaos, my health rocky at best.

2006, you were one evil, evil fucker.

Still, I hang on. And hope 2007 delivers.

greatbear: (face)
And so it is done. The last day of 2005 is drawing to a close. For me, '05 was a far better year than '04, but still a busy year with it's own issues. I am looking to 2006 as a year to finally catch up, keep some promises to myself and to keep expanding my touch with friends.

My '05 on LJ has been great, I made more new friends and connections. Upon looking back , my dire year of postings in '04 has been replaced by more introspective and forward-looking items. I hope to continue this trend.

A great big thanks to veryone I have interacted with here. It's been an enrichment to my life, and something I look forward to reading every day. I might fall behind on some ongoing topics and comments, but I always try to take time to spend with y'all.

Jeff and I are off to a New Year's party now. Al and Tony put on one hell of a gig.

Happy 2006 to you and yours, and thanks again.


greatbear: (Default)

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