greatbear: (forearms)
Every coupla months Jeff has to work on a weekend as a manager on duty (at an Adventist hospital in the food service/nutritional specialties department, this is where the food for both the patients and employees/visitors is made. Plus I get to poke fun at Jesus on (their) sabbath. :-) My Sabbath is the Ozzy-Dio variety). While it does muck up the weekends, it can be a plus, as he gets to select the days off to compensate in many cases. He was home on Friday, and went in today and will head in on Sunday. Every now and then I will take a trip and join him for lunch. This time, after eating, he put me to work! I made up cost analysis spreadsheets, helped count money, looked into repairing some very expensive chafing dishes... I felt like a cross between a secretary and handyman. Working on my Saturday even. I didn't mind a bit. It got me outta the house for several hours, the ride was nice, and I finished up the trip with a visit to Home Depot.

Now I get to put more work into the major network overhaul here at La Casa Mayhem.

Surfacing

Oct. 30th, 2012 09:55 pm
greatbear: (Default)
Now that Mother Nature has moved her sandy vagina past Mayhem HQ, I cracked the hatches and did some damage assessment. Other than a torn canvas canopy that is part of the pergola on the deck and lots of leaves on just about every surface, there is no damage to report. The cable internet was out for a day, the cell phone hotspot provided backup until this evening. Other than a few glitches, the power remained. The farm opposite the back yard was a source of interesting fireworks when the power lines began galloping in the wind, releasing the uppermost cable from the insulator allowing it to drop on the lower neutral cable, lighting up the night. This took out the service leg that supplies the farm as well as a couple neighboring houses. For once the roar of generators is not coming from my place.

Jeff and I had our emergency contingencies in place, the vehicles fully fueled, lots of fuel for the generator, plenty of food, etc., all the usual. All Sandy had to do was bring it. Though we weren't hit hard, it was a serious storm that did lots of surrounding damage. Ma Nature is angry, and this is yet another example of her wrath.

Life here has taken another turn to uncertainty. A week ago today I lost my job of just over 30 years. I'll talk more of that in a possible later post, but suffice to say I see this as a mixed blessing.

Jeff's new job is a nice new challenge for him so far, he seems to enjoy it and the staff have been decent. Now, I think I've said this each time he's arrived at a new gig, and, well, you know how that has gone. I'll keep my fingers crossed that this will be a good one. Jeff enjoys his work in healthcare, the government services gig was full of way too many spoiled entitlement babies.

I continue to battle injury issues with my spine. Once I know where I stand job-wise, I will head under the knife to have the herniated disc taken care of.

I hope anyone affected by this storm, including friends and family, are doing well. I'm playing catch-up on news, LJ and such.
greatbear: (eeeexcellent)
In today's mail was a large envelope. Inside was a certificate congratulating me for my years of service with The Company That Makes Funny Looking Airplanes, as well as a catalog of gifts. Major stuff this time, watches, espresso maker, crystal, clocks, 32G iPod, big screen TV, even bicycles. How long have I been at the same gig? Thirty years. At one time I couldn't imagine myself being thirty years old, much less working at the same job for that long.

I should feel a sense of accomplishment, but it pales next to my feeling just... old. I guess it's part of my current round of spine troubles making me feel all of my years behind me pushing back.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to shoo people off my lawn.

Back

Oct. 2nd, 2012 02:52 pm
greatbear: (Default)
I think it's only fair, given my post out of the blue from last night, that I should follow on with some news and other blather on what's been going on in the past months. Far from a comprehensive list, this is just going to highlight most of the major bits.

One of the things Jeff and I had been looking forward to more than anything this year was to have a longish vacation. We had talked many times about extending our stay in Provincetown beyond our usual week. It would always seem that we'd run out of time to do all the things we wanted to, as well as explore the greater part of Cape Cod. So, this year we did just that. However, and interesting thing occurred. We had two full weeks to play with, yet we did far less than we would on our week (or less) of time in the past. We got caught up on just relaxing, there were a couple days where we never left the campsite. We had the perfect shady spot, all of our canopies, tables and cooking gear set up, comfy chairs and tables, lots of music, and wonderfully mild weather when the majority of the USA was experiencing record setting heat along with some severe weather events. Despite not hitting the clubs and trekking all about, the relaxing was precisely what the two of us needed, especially Jeff. There is something to be said about just disconnecting from everything and, well, doing what feels good. By far, this was our most relaxing vacation yet.

If anything put a damper on our enjoyment it was the fact on the day of our arrival La Casa Mayhem and the surrounding vicinity got nailed HARD with a severe storm, knocking out power for over five days. In fact, as we were getting into Massachusetts I noticed a convoy of utility vehicles, bucket trucks and such heading the opposite direction. My comment to Jeff was that I figured the area had gotten hit with one of the myriad summer storms and now the trucks were heading back home. It wasn't until later that evening I read on the news that the Maryland area was hit badly and help was coming from many surrounding states to restore the record power outages. My attempts to connect with great computers filling the hallowed halls of Mayhem HQ failed as well, and I knew we were without power. Normally when I am home, it's just a simple task for me to connect the generator and fire it up, and life becomes normal. Unfortunately, this is not an automated process, and the power failure lasted over five days, taking with it two freezers full of expensive food, plus everything in the upstairs fridge/freezer as well. I had a local friend check on the house occasionally while we were gone. When the power was finally restored, the water system failed to come back up (I have a well) and this prevented the automatic watering of the veggie garden. So, I resigned myself to having lost not only the food inside, but some of the garden crop as well. It was searing heat and drought the entire time I was in PTown, and that took its toll on the garden. First thing I did when I got home was to figure out the problem with the water (a screen in the system got fouled with sediment that squeezed out of the empty storage tank, a simple fix, rather than the well running dry or the pump failing) while Jeff assessed the now re-frozen messes in the freezers. Later on we'd document the losses and toss out a portion of the mess each week on trash day, and the now empty freezers got totally dismantled inside for a much needed good cleaning. What we now have stored is streamlined and all inside of one freezer. There was way too much old stuff lost in the deep confines of the freezers, so not everything was a true loss. Most of the meats, however, were a different matter.

Work for me had become quite a bit better, with the folks there realizing they had the only one left from a large loss of retirees which jumped ship for retirement or early buyouts who know the most about the breadth of equipment and processes, so once they found out I had been saving their bacon upon my return from disability, I finally got some of the respect I deserve. It had actually become somewhat enjoyable for once.

I had been riding a slow wave of recovery from my back issues since the beginning of the year, but Jeff was increasingly plagued with health problems caused by his thyroid and the large goiter that had attached itself there like a face-hugging alien. Between that and some time constraints we decided to cancel the usual long weekend camping trips to Hillside that we had been doing continuously for a dozen years. This allowed me to have a chance at catching up on projects around the house and garage. I tore apart the Stratus that got whacked on the front corner due to an idiot in one of the traffic circles (one in over a dozen in approximately 2 square miles of area, this has to be some sort of record!) here at home. I put off this project until after PTown since I had other vehicles to tool around in. All the while Jeff kept being delayed over and over again by the staff at Johns Hopkins hospital increasing his frustration during a time where his workplace was becoming a living hell. I don't see how such a world-class medical facility can have such a totally inept and unprofessional support staff. The doctors are awesome. Their office staff, however, is the pits.

At work I had succumbed to a minor back injury while moving a heavy (and very expensive) piece of electronic gear using the aging, rickety carts provided for such purposes. The cart tipped rather than rolled, and I caught the 80 pound signal generator from hitting the floor. I strained my back and was out for a couple days while the worse of the pain subsided. A few weeks later the same thing happened, this time with a different lab cart and a similar piece of heavy equipment. No sudden back pain that time, but I hadn't become pain-free since the first accident. I had issues with an achy and increasingly bothersome back for a while, then I had awoke one night in the same intense, searing pain shooting down one leg that I had dealt with before the surgery in 2010. I took my cane out of mothballs and started seeking serious medical help. It was then when I found out the new medical insurance company I had to get through work was something I wasn't qualified for. I spent my own coin on the first couple visits, but I needed some expensive tests which I had to delay for about three weeks while the benefits department switched me over to a different company. Last week I was finally shoved like a torpedo into the tube of the MRI scanner. Rather than getting a huge envelope full of films this time, I got a CD with all the scans as well as the same utility the doctor uses to move through the various layers and scan depths. I made my own diagnosis just for kicks, and a little while ago the doctor's office called and confirmed what I had seen, which was a new protrusion of the L4-5 disk onto the spinal cord, against some swelling of scar tissue left over from the laminectomy and apparently made worse by recent injuries. For the past month I have been once again off of work, in sometimes ridiculous pain and unable to do a lot of things I like and/or need to do.

Frustration is the keyword of the moment I guess, but it has not been without a side benefit. I was able to be home with Jeff as well as taking him to and from his surgery and doctors visits. His surgery was a success, and he's been recovering nicely. As our odd luck would have it, during the time Jeff has been off for recovery, his mother took a nasty spill at home and broke her hip. Unfortunately, she's been succumbing to Alzheimer's for a while now, and since her surgery has been placed in a nursing home. Jeff's (and my) time off has afforded him (and me a couple times) a chance to visit as well as help out his dad. Mom has recovered from her surgery fairly well, but her return home has been stymied by her fear of getting up to walk, which is a condition of her release. She's afraid she will fall again, and refuses to walk many times. If she's distracted by some other thought, she does just fine, but when it's in her focus, it's a no-go. So sad, since she wants to go home to familiar surroundings. I'm hoping in these next couple weeks she does what she needs and can go back home. Unfortunately, she needs increasingly intensive care, something dad can't provide, and is reaching the limits of what in-home care is providing. Seeing her in bed when we last left the home was heart-wrenching for me, I can't help but flashing back to those days when my own Mom was declining. I wish I could do more, but I am frustratingly unable to do so, once again. Life is a wondrous thing, but it can be fraught with sadness and pain too.

Big change for Jeff today. He had been working at a government facility that relocated to Fort Meade from Virginia. I warned him to expect a bit of self-entitlement out of the clientele that is so (unfortunately stereotypical) of that area. Well, it was more than just a bit. Jeff had to contend with some of the most selfish and downright hostile people he ever had to deal with especially in a (very) professional environment. Couple this with a racist and homophobic client he finally had enough. Prior to, and while he was out recovering, he made a lateral move within his company to a healthcare facility outside of DC. Today is his first day at the new place, and he has high hopes for it. I sure hope this will be a good one, since Jeff worked most of his life in healthcare, he feels the most at home there. Wish him well. I head off for my doctor appointment in a few minutes, and I already know there could be some new surgery involved. I hope I can put it off for a while so I can get back to work, catch up there as well as here, and plan on a specific time for any needed cutting so I have a feeling of control and pace, rather than uncertain waiting and lack of income. Wish me well too, while you're at it.

Control

Mar. 28th, 2012 12:54 am
greatbear: (glasses)
A lot has been going on over here. Pictures have been taken, but I haven't been in much of a posting mood. Big changes in store for the weeks to come, I'll elaborate later (maybe).

I'm in one of those moods where I am avoiding almost all news, current events and, of course, politics. I truly detest large numbers of the human race. Seeing various crap and reading about it, not to mention directly experiencing it only makes it far worse. So, the shields are up, defenses ready and hopefully nothing will cross my tripwires.

And things like this to remember there is some good left in this world:



Amazing how much joy comes from a little wagging tail.
greatbear: (Default)
Despite the last couple days of mid-90s heat, I wanted to cut the grass, finishing up what I started the other day. Well, the tractor was balking at that because of a bad electrical connection. Me being me, well, I decided to rewire the better part of the thing. I replaced a couple switches, and updated the electrical system to use modern blade type fuses in a centralized block rather than a bunch of random fuse holders and glass fuses. This was not to be finished before I had to move my project inside the garage amid the rumble of thunder and EAS warnings on the radio. So, my hot weather project is done, and the old beast works better than new. And the grass is soaked and will have to wait.

Bob Mould showed up on the Scruff grid, I guess there's a Blowoff in town for DC Pride. While these bear-heavy dance events had their genesis many years ago almost right in my back yard, it was not until last summer in P-Town that Jeff and I finally went to one. We had a blast, despite my inability to stand without extreme pain. I guess watching Jeff having so much needed fun was enough for me. We plan on doing it again this year. And just maybe I will enjoy it more as well.

Speaking of Jeff, the poor man is being overworked like never before, and it's due to some rather sad circumstances. His general manager is out until further notice because his mother has leukemia, and does not have much time left. She is leaving the hospital and coming home, hospice care has been set up, and the waiting begins. These are the folks who had us over in April for the Passover Seder. His boss' mom is a wonderful person, quick witted and quite progressive for her years. Kinda like my mom was. Unfortunately, things have taken a rather quick turn for the worse. I just hope she won't endure severe pain.

My health has been stalled a bit on the upswing, I get a nagging cough at night when I am trying to sleep, the remnants of the sore throat I had a bit over a week ago. Just once I would like to fall into bed at night and get a good night's rest without some part of my body wanting to keep me awake in some fashion. It's hell getting old, but I guess it could be worse.

Finally, in a rather excellent nod to Les Paul's 96th birthday, the folks at Google have one of their awesome "Doodles" on their homepage for the occasion. Not only cool in that you can "play" this one, but you can actually record and save your "jams" as well. Go check it out.
greatbear: (Default)
Some big changes coming here at La Casa Mayhem starting this coming week. Jeff has a new new job, at a new place, with his old boss (which he likes a lot) at a spanking new huge facility with state-of-the-art everything and the chance to build his staff from scratch in his own way. It's a chef's woodie-inducing dream, though it will be a bit hectic and sometimes frustrating at the start, I'm sure. There's more money in it for him and no manager-on-duty nonsense every several weeks, plus no weekends. So, a major w00t for him. I just hope the stress of getting the place up to speed does not impact his cardiac recovery.

Did some tuning up of my f-list, removing mostly people who obviously disapproved of my friending them in the first place, and a couple others. Nature abhors a vacuum, Mayhem abhors douchery.

Angry Birds for Android was a nice addicting distraction while it lasted. I'm through all the levels and want more. Any suggestions? The Scruff app is, well, interesting.

The weather bureaus are making noises towards there being another SNOMG Event early next week. I hope I don't have to be moving snow in the middle of the night again. I just got the deck cleared off yesterday, the front walk is still unusable due to low and fallen branches. Using the small electric snowblower to clear the deck, it picked up a small bungee cord hidden in the snow and it got wrapped around the shaft. It was too tangled to unthread, so I got a retractable knife to cut it out in pieces. Despite my being careful, I slipped and cut my one finger down to the bone. I left a trail of blood in my path from the snow thrower to the bathroom, where I performed first aid. The cut was so clean that continuous pressure for a half hour plus a tightly applied bandage not only stopped the bleeding, but the cut is imperceptible and looks almost healed up. It does not even hurt. Go me, I guess I can still heal kinda fast despite my old age. Now, for that spinal cord thing...

The house is playing host to one of the other stray cats. Kodi made sure the poor thing spent most of the day huddled beneath a covered end table. Once Kodi hit the hay with Jeff, this one (alternately named Tigger or Tommy) popped out and enjoyed some petting time and exploring. While in the bathroom where the litter box is also kept, T/T wandered in, found his way through the anti-Kodi barricade to the litter box, and had a go. It's as if he's been doing it all this time. Either Pinky is coaching him (Pinky is the reason why we have a half dozen "visitors" these days) or cats have some sort of sixth sense when it comes to taking a shit.

To paraphrase Sheriff Brody in Jaws, we're gonna need a bigger litter box.
greatbear: (Default)
*removes cat from keyboard*

As has been the case for months now, my sleeping patterns have gotten totally screwed up. If I try to get to bed at a reasonable time, I lay awake for hours, often not getting any shut-eye until sometime after Jeff leaves for work (he's an early bird, getting up before 4am). Well, the snowpocalypse for the new decade dumped about 8-10 inches of clingy snow in everything. There are branches down, and the shrubs are a mess. Jeff was stuck having to go to work as usual, and he found me wide awake playing Angry Birds in bed. Understandably in a huff, he tells me he's stuck going to work and after taking a walk outside in the glacial hell, he finds the main road clear, but abut a 2-3 foot wall of icy snow blocking the driveway. He says he does not know what he's going to do, he can't shovel snow (nor would I even begin to let him), so I ask him if he wants me to clear the driveway with the snowblower so he could get out. "Oh, would you?" he says with puppydog eyes. I don my work clothes and my big clompy Uniroyal rubber steeltoes and trudge out to the garage and fetch the snowblower. Not only do I manage to clear his way out, I decide to do the nearly 300 feet worth of driveways both to the house and the garage, plus shake the trees and shrubs that were overburdened with the snow. This was one of those storms that deposited snow on everything. Even the car radio antennae were at least 2 inches in diameter. Strange, it felt like the middle of the day, I was so perfectly awake.

And I got it all done before 5am. Woot.

An elated Jeff fixes me a huge pot of oatmeal as part of a healthy breakfast, does some domestic tasks and such while waiting for me to finish. Once I started to put away the snowblower, he meets me a the garage, all ready to go. He makes reasonable time heading to work, the local roads were a mess according to him, but the highways were fine. He called me once he safely arrived at work.

I have finished my breakfast, and I will take a nice hot shower to warm up and get rid of any remaining beard icicles, and probably hit the sack for a while. I will reschedule my doc appointment if it's not already canceled.

Just stuff

Dec. 6th, 2010 09:16 pm
greatbear: (Default)
It might be a blustery, cold evening here, with temps in the mid-upper 20s and some insane winds, but the house is nice and toasty with the woodstove cranking out the heat, and with a nice bonus of a loaf of whole wheat bread baking, making the nice warm house smell like absolute heaven. A few minutes and the bread is done. Jeff has been on a bit of cooking and especially baking binge the last couple days, and tonight is no different.

I'm currently taking new meds to deal with the nerve damage left over from the spine surgery. It's toned down the electrical storm that has wracked my body since the day my vertebra were sawed up, and I am able to plop myself in bed and sleep like a baby for a most part. I'm still plagued with the numbness, but that might not be quite as bad. The tasering feeling is much diminished, but still there too as well as weakness and occasional loss of control. The only side effects are a slightly loopy feeling and a bipolar appetite.

Still taking it easy and holding off on building the roof window light shafts into the living room. I'm spending the time doing little tasks for the most part, and have been cleaning/lubing hand and power tools while not using them. I have almost a quarter mil invested in tools and machinery (really, it even surprised me) and I try to keep things in good working order. It's tough to find decent tools these days, and good ones are seriously expensive. Most of what I have will easily outlast me. Tools are something special to me. They are a way one practices their craft, earns a living, helps others out, creates and fixes. Tools are an extension of a person, and deserve the same respect. During the recent times I have not been able to use my tools I saw them filled with history and work. Taking some time now and then to exercise some TLC on a lot of my tools was a relaxing and fulfilling task. Since the surgery I've sorta jumped the gun to get back into some work, and it was it's own sort of therapy. I guess I'm one of those who has hands-on work burned completely into my very being.

During this post the bread had finished baking and we sampled it warm and fresh. Yeah, a little slice of heaven.

Have a great week, everyone.
greatbear: (Default)
I'm exhausted. Yesterday Jeff had tix for the Indiana U-Penn State game played here at FedEx Field, that was the major event of the day. We enjoyed ourselves, Penn State won handily. The thing that got to me was the walking. The exercise was welcome, but couple that with crawling in the attic the day before. This morning, I was a sore, tired old man. I had wanted to finish up the rough framing for the skylights after the game, but my heart wasn't in it.

Today totally kicked my ass though. The crew showed up to do the roof, I installed the skylights and spent most of the day clambering under and on the roof getting things installed. Both the house and the garage have completely new roofs on them, in a single day! Jeff the Chef kept the guys on site by putting out one hell of a spread for lunch, which made for very appreciative workers. The only sidetrack ended up being the dump truck that was used to haul away the old roofing, trash and junk left from the work. The house was done first, then the dump truck was moved down the second driveway to the garage. Well, the weight of the old, heavy roofing from a 2500 sq ft house and a 900 sq ft garage proved a bit too much for the dump truck, which could not make it back up the steep driveway from the garage. I dropped what I was doing to haul the dump truck out with the Silverado after disconnecting the trailer and reconnecting it afterward. The only remaining tasks involving the hired crew is replacement of all the guttering and downspouts. The gutters have long been in need of replacement, and since this guy has a means to make continuous length guttering, I jumped at the chance to have the entire thing done and not have to worry about roofs, leaks and failed guttering for a couple more decades. I completed the sun tunnel as well, and will build the light shafts for the living room skylights after T-Day.

I have finally taken care of this project which started before Mom got sick, and was delayed again and again due to my own health issues. This time was do or die, and I had only a small window of opportunity to complete this before the weather got bad. I might be paying for my effort with some soreness for a couple days, but I think I managed to find the right time to do it all. This is a major accomplishment for me, and the satisfaction I feel for getting it done pales in comparison to the lifting of the burdens, direct and indirect, physical and mental, that have been on my mind for all these years. I can sleep peacefully now, especially if it is raining.

It's time for me to haul my spent body into bed. It's gonna be a busy week.

G'nite!
greatbear: (Default)
Things have been slowly returning to the normalcy of such happenstance here at Chez Mayhem. Note that I did not use the word "normal" as it generally never applies. =)

I had to reschedule my PT from Friday to Saturday when the folks at G.E. decided to move their warranty repair visit from the morning to the afternoon. Me and the tech had a good talk about what was wrong, how it can be fixed, etc. It also became evident that not only am I on par with his abilities, I might be doing some of the repair work myself. I don't mind a bit.

Speaking of repairs, more and more little things have been breaking down here at the homestead. One of the two wi-fi access points bit the dust, as well as one of several digital TV converter boxes I have attached to perfectly good television sets that I refuse to simply throw away. Also, one of the power supplies used to charge a jump-start battery pack conked out. The problem with all three? Bad capacitors in the power supplies. Each of these seemingly unrelated items use a switch-mode power supply, either internally or as a plug-in box (wall-wart), made in China. The poor quality Chinese electrolytic capacitors literally blow their tops, venting electrolyte gas pressure and die. These items are not too difficult to fix, I have a stock of compatible, high-grade replacement capacitors, and a few minutes spent with a soldering iron generally not only brings whatever the device is back to life, it will not have a recurrence of that problem in the future. In the case of the wifi access point, the wall-wart was not only solidly sealed shut, it also had been potted with silicone rubber as well. Trying to scoop out that mess is not worth the hassle, I can find a compatible power supply as a replacement. In most cases of modern electronic gear that has suddenly quit working entirely or has constant erratic operation, the trouble can be traced to a low-grade, Chinese-made capacitor (or several) in the power supply that has failed in this exact same fashion. Most people will simply throw out the device because the repair, despite being easy and cheap parts-wise (the typical failed cap only costs a couple bucks at best) is too expensive. DIY rules here.

In a related note, I had predicted that DTV converter boxes would become scarce soon after the transition from analog to digital TV. I am surprised at exactly how scarce these boxes have become. No local retails stock them anymore, and can't even order them. Name-brand units are nowhere to be found for the most part online, with a smattering of totally unfamiliar brands to be had otherwise. These off-branded units often come with very low user reviews. I need a couple more of these for two more sets, plus a spare, but I am ready to throw in the towel here. Those days I have gone to the local landfill/recycling center, the 20 foot dumpsters have been brimming with analog television sets, CRT, projection and LCD/plasma. I am willing to bet that 95% of those sets have not a thing wrong with them aside from the lack of digital reception. Such a waste. I refuse to participate.

On the health front, I've been enjoying the physical therapy, along with the e-stim session at the end of the visit. The therapist has realized he needs to set the initial stim level higher for me than most people, and he also gives me control of the box. As I grow accustomed to the level, I ramp up the output to keep the feeling strong. It feels good, of course, but also jump starts (no pun intended) the nerve mending process. This has good and bad points. The good, obviously, means returning to the old me if all goes well. The bad, however, has been a bit more insidious. Since about two seeks from surgery, I've been experiencing strange, involuntary artifacts of the healing process. Just as I begin to relax and fall asleep, my body's IT department decides that since campus is closed, it's time to start fixing the network cabling. I feel little twitches in random areas from the waist down. Odd sensations out of nowhere. The worst are the sudden jumps, kicks and spasms that not only wake me up, but can hurt like hell. My left foot as of Friday has a constant bzzzzZZZZZzzzz, bzzzzZZZZzzzz, bzzzzZZZZzzzz not unlike standing in a motorboat or bus with a raucous diesel engine. I'm taking this as a good sign that the IT department is getting things done, as there is less actual numbness now on that side. So far, an occasional, sudden inability to control my right leg pops up out of nowhere for a few seconds makes life a tad dangerous. I've stumbled and lost my balance a couple times, but nothing bad as of yet. The numbness in my feet is still there, making my walking gait more like a stoner wandering outside a Phish concert.

Jeff and I were walking through Home Depot yesterday as I was picking up more stuff to use on the house fixits. A youngish, bearded guy behind the counter in the door and window section called out to us in praise of our beards and how he no longer feels out of place in the store. Beards seem all the rage these days. Not necessarily a bad thing.

I met today with the roofer to begin work on (FINALLY!) replacing the roofing on the various building that make up Mayhem Headquarters. I have to clamber up into the attic space and frame up the openings under the roof for the skylights and the sun tunnel. This is not strenuous work, but I do need to gently contort myself between the trusses and make myself comfortable for a little while to measure up the spaces, leave the attic to cut the various lumber and plywood bits that make up the framing, then head back up to screw it all into place. There is a huge advantage to this being with the framing in place, I can drill a hole in each corner once the roofing is stripped off, the draw lines on the top of the roof decking once the roof is stripped bare. The resulting rectangles are the rough-in cuts to be made for the skylights. Five minutes with a circular saw and the openings are perfectly made and the skylights only need to be fastened down and the underlayment and flashing installed as the new shingles go back down.

My interactions with the roofer, the guy from GE and the salesmen at Lowes where I bought the skylights and accessories highlight how smoothly things go when I educate myself ahead of time and have all my information ready. The salesdude at Lowes had an easy time with me (and kept reminding me of that fact) because I knew exactly what I needed beforehand and did not have to constantly ask for his opinions or help. Zip, zap, boom it was all done, all the pieces were accounted for and properly sized. My bit of OCD researching and the wonderfulness of the internet in providing all the literature, specs and relevant info instantly made life infinitely easier than the days before when I had to seek out information from distributors, salespeople and manufacturers in person or over the phone, collect all this together to make a decision then still need to get more information regarding my selections to make sure everything is kosher. With all the proper blueprints, specs, installation information and required supplies right in front of me whenever I need it, things have gotten almost too easy. I also minimize interactions with people who might not be in the best of moods, or just plain surly and stupid. But one of the best results from being well prepared is the instant respect I get from the people I am dealing with. I'm less likely to be taken for a ride, or ripped off, and the people doing the work for me don't have to contend with a ditz.

Tomorrow is Jeff's last vacation day out of the last four (excluding Wednesday) he took from work to get away from the hectic nature of his business being an UberChef. I'll miss spending the time at home with him. While we had planned to possibly go somewhere like the beach for a day, we decided just taking time off at home, doing some cool things and just taking it easy was a vacation enough for him. I just hope this week does not turn out to be hell for him. You know how it is when you go back to work after an extended absence. When I finally return in a month or so, it will be a shocker in so many ways. My department has been moved off-campus, no one like it except for the delusional upper management, and my complete loss of respect for everyone there that became cemented during my disability will make returning very difficult, and I will more than likely seek a transfer out of that completely failed hell before it gets outsourced. Won't be easy, but, hey, I've been through worse lately.

Here's hoping for a good week for everyone out there.
greatbear: (headsmash)
Frustrations. I has quite a few. I continue to be a slave to pain killers, though not as much as I was pre- and post-surgery. Still, getting quality sleep is near impossible, I have mostly skipped anything resembling a schedule and just collapsed when I felt exhausted enough. I will eventually awaken from discomfort, then resign myself to get out of bed in a groggy, cranky state, pop a pill and futz around the house while the aches and pains subside. I've begun some physical therapy which has been helping, that's a good thing. This will run through this month and could be extended if needed. These are frustrations that will abate given time.

One thing that has gotten me more angry at my whole decrepit body situation is the continuing nerve troubles below the waist. The good news is the nerve pinching and inability to stand for more than a few minutes is firmly in the past. The setback is still the annoying tingling from just above the knees down. It's as though I've been sitting cross-legged on the floor for two hours and allowed my legs and feet to go totally numb. Touching lightly brings little sensation. A firmer tap or pressure comes at me in a blast of hash and static. The poor signal/noise ratio in my feet and further up leaves me with an awkward, stompy walk, and occasional unsteady footing. Again, while this is not like before, where I would be slugged with spasms and weakness, this new sensation of a lack of sensation is disheartening. I guess I have to give this time, but there is a chance this is permanent.

Since the surgery, I've been battling a near constant feeling of being cold. Anyone who has known me for a while can attest to my shrugging off cold weather as a minor convenience. It's not even truly cold yet and I am constantly sitting in front of space heaters and heat lamps trying to keep from shivering. With the feeling of cold brings about more pain too, and puts a damper on my day. I hope this corrects soon as well, and I chalk it up to my eating patterns and appetite being still out of kilter. At least food has a normal taste for me now, and my appetite is better.

Some of my frustrations are due to my own poor planning or downright stupidity. My short-term disability ended the day after the surgery, where I was to transition to a long-term plan. Well, guess who messed up in selecting benefits several years ago and has been going along thinking he has a long-term disability strategy when indeed there is absolutely nothing there.. Yep, the last month has left me with zero income, and going forward is becoming a serious drain on my savings. While not in dire straits yet, I've had to completely alter spending patterns and leave a few minor bills unpaid temporarily. The roof project that I had postponed for various reasons cannot go any longer, and with a big chunk of savings pulled out I will be taking care of that in upcoming weeks. I have a roofer lined up, and tonight I ordered up two skylights for the living room as well as one for the main bathroom. I should be able to carefully clamber about in the attic and frame up the three locations before the roofer shows up, whereupon I can cut open the roof deck and drop the skylights in as the roof is being done. I'll save the interior work for later, possibly during the spring. In the meantime, the attic space will be nice and sunny.

My beloved G.E. GeoSpring hybrid water heater seemed to have declined in health along with me, and in the last month has been running for longer and longer periods of time with the fans running at full blast. My troubleshooting found the refrigerant charge becoming lower and lower, resulting in coil freeze-ups (it uses a heat pump - an air conditioner in reverse - to heat the water) and very inefficient operation. It's under warranty, and Jeff and I decided to take our first query back to where we purchased the thing, at Sears. While I knew we would not be able to simply drag the thing back to the store and ask for a new one at this time (we got it in late March), I figured we would be able to get at least some friendly help from the sales staff. Instead, we were greeted with an almost instant defensiveness and downright hostile words from the people manning the post in the appliance section. The manager was not in at the time, and he never did get back with us by phone as promised. This action by the staff has guaranteed them a no-sale for the future, and our next purchase was to have been a fridge. I talked with a nice woman from G.E. who took all my information as well as my techy diagnoses to pass onto the service people who are scheduled to arrive on Friday morning. I'm hoping for a quick and friendly resolution to this issue. There is a price to be paid for being an early adopter of new technology, and this is an example of it in play. The water heater has made a noticeable decrease in the electric bill since installing it, and it also had a side benefit that I had planned on, since the operation of the heater also acts as a dehumidifier in the basement, allowing me to shut off the actual dehumidifier in the basement, saving at least another 25 bucks a month in electrical costs. Everything is set in the plumbing to attach a solar assist system, as well as supplemental solar whole-house heating. As my funds free up (read: I get back to work) I will make the cool heating apparatuses happen.

I've had a few other things go haywire or break down in the past few weeks and months. Jeff's truck needs (another) new intake manifold gasket, since it has begun leaking coolant (again) furiously. I should be able to deal with that without too much grief in a few more weeks as I heal up. My old truck has still not received any love since last year, so it sits unusable. Likewise, the garage never got finished in order for me to put the Dart back in. I guess the saddest thing is the big spruce tree that toppled in last winter's blizzard conditions is still laying across the garden bed next to the driveway. I could not get any of my friends to help me with this albatross that, were it not for my injuries, would have been at most a three hour job. To make matters worse, Jeff had contacted several people via online ads to come over, give an estimate for the work and hack the thing up. Not a single one of them followed through. The damn thing sits there as a hugely frustrating reminder that, no matter how I slice it (no pun intended), I am completely alone when it comes to dealing with certain things. Not a single friend stepped up to help me with most stuff. I don't expect everyone I know to be, say, a lumberjack. But this would ordinarily have been just like the times where I helped my buds out by cutting down trees at their places, where it was more like a party atmosphere rather than a task. A cooler of beer, some barbecue, and some simple physical labor aimed at getting a job done for one's fellow man. I've done it a bazillion times, and I realize I was never to get a bit of it in return. I guess my biggest frustration was finding so many backs turned on me when I thought I could count on friends returning favors. That alone hurts more than spinal stenosis, or the time I got smashed up in that car accident in '00.

I'm going to chop up that tree if it kills me. And, no, I don't expect anyone to come to my funeral if it does.

Here's hoping that I can have some fun, some work, and some income in the not too distant future.
greatbear: (old graybeard)
In spite of losing out on the Provincetown trip, I've decided to use the time for much-needed repairs. Some of these involve my rickety old body. I will be making appointments to have hernia surgery in a few days as well as trying to find out exactly why my Achilles tendinitis has gotten so bad in the past few months that I can barely walk. That, coupled with the fact I eat like a pig and slowly have been losing weight makes me believe there's something else at play here. I'll find out soon enough I hope. I also have to make a dentist appointment (I know it's been more than ten years by now) as well as another trip to my ophthalmologist to see how the glaucoma is doing. Yeah, I'm falling apart big time.

My main issue in all of this is having the time off for the procedures (and accompanying recovery in the case of the surgery) held against me by management. This started many years ago with one particular manager that for one reason or another, disliked me intensely and delighted in making examples of the slightest faults or issues. This put a big flag in my records that to this day seem to haunt me from time to time. Not long ago I heard he had kicked the bucket, and when told this among others in our group I applauded the news and hoped for some really good rot to take place. Yeah, not nice, and shocked some, but as a reference, he got what he had coming IMO. I need to make sure these procedures will not be held against me, and if they appear to, I will hold off and possibly begin some legal action. All I ask for is equal treatment. Sound familiar?

Also, now that these pesky vacations are no more, I have more time to work on stuff. While my eyes might need some work to improve my vision, I can only hope it's as easy as this:

polishedlight


On Sunday while awaiting the final outcome of our trip, I finally did something about the sun-clouded headlights on my Stratus. Both lights had clouded badly over the past nine years, and the right-side lamp had some deep gouges from the time that Mom had gotten run off the road by some mofugger (that I was ready to go find and beat to a pulp) into a row of orange traffic barrels. Some sanding and polishing with my new Baldor two-speed monster buffer, and the things look practically new again. I should regain a noticeable amount of illumination as well.
greatbear: (headsmash)
I used to enjoy this time of year. As a kid, school would be out, the weather would be warm,I'd be outside all the time to the point where my hair would practically bleach white. This feeling continued into my adult years, being outside, helping Mom with her gardening, working on cars until the wee hours of the morning, building stuff, lots of activity. In the past few years, what once was like pure freedom has become more like some sort of wet blanket. Momentum I had about a month or so ago has completely ground to a halt, supplies I have accumulated for needed work around the house is just sitting, and many recent projects are stuck partially completed. A lot of this is due to this being the time of year I'd spent involved with Mom's decline in health and eventual death, but it also seems to be a lot more at play as well. Work absolutely sucks, with some downright nasty backstabbing and political shenanigans coming into play as we face being relocated to an off-site facility which will serve to make my job (and many others') a lot more difficult while allowing management and their bootlickers to build a fiefdom of ego beyond what they have already accomplished. I don't know how much more of this I can take before I snap. And that will not be pretty.

Of course, that which I look forward to, our little vacations, is a big help. However, as has become tradition it seems, as we close in on our holiday, turmoil at Jeff's workplace rears it's ugly head and threatens to put a damper on our fun if not cancel it entirely. Bless his warm, fuzzy heart, Jeff has been working extremely hard to get folks to fill in for an employee in a critical position that was just let go. So far it's been a success, but it would not take much to come apart. There is absolutely no extra coverage, and if someone can't make it in, Jeff will have to fill in. That means no trip to PTown, or cutting it short. At least at his current employer they've been a bit more accommodating than some previous ones, where Jeff had been stuck taking over for others and having no day off for a month or more, along with 10-14 hour days to boot. Still, this casts a cloud over the limited time we get to spend together having some much-needed "us" time. All I can do now is ask all of you in LJ land who reads my scribblings to keep your fingers crossed.

I luckily have three days off this weekend, and that time will be spent, hopefully, getting things done around the house and yard so we can get all set for our trip in a week. Friday I have an appointment to take the truck to the dealership for a recall notice and minor warranty work. Unfortunately, I will be stuck in a waiting room reading new vehicle brochures when I could instead be doing more productive stuff. Let's hope it's not a long wait.
greatbear: (Default)
Deja Poo: Same shit, different day. You heard it here first (probably).
greatbear: (forearms)
It's coming down to the wire as Jeff and I work at getting things ready for our first camping trip of the season at Deep Creek Lake in western MD. We're still hoping for a mystery guest to join us, but have not heard anything back yet. I hope this post serves as a bit of cage rattling.

I installed the new water pump, fixed up all the fans, added RFI filtering to two of them that, when running, completely wipe out radio reception and the television. No more. The new water pump is in as well, with some mods to the mounting to make it quieter when it runs. The replacement is not quite up to the capacity of the original, but will do. I plan to add an accumulator/pressure tank in order to even out the water flow and minimize the pump cycling. I should be able to squeeze a one or two gallon tank in the compartment the pump hides in.

Trying to clean up the exterior has been a nightmare. We evidently live in a land of mutant flies which leave permanent 'specks' in the finish. Jeff managed to scrub through the paint in a couple areas and the specks (a polite term for fly shit, as well as crap from our swarms of box elder bugs) remain. We'll keep working at it and get the trailer looking spiffy. In the meantime, I only have to finish replacing the electric element in the water heater and flushing the heater tank out and the maintenance end of things will be done on the trailer. I have to get the truck ready with an oil and filter change, a fuel filter change (somewhat of a pain but made easier by removing the front right wheelwell liner), a good scrubbing and detailing inside and out and we should be good to go. I cant wait. We need this vacation badly.

More work has been done in the garage, and after we get back from vacation I hope to finish the door trim and front interior wall project that has been taking too long. The roofs get done soon, and I can finally work at getting the sunroom finished off, some intricate woodwork for trim and soffits, some too-cool lighting ideas to get built into said woodwork and much happiness will hopefully ensue. The next major project will be a refinishing of the deck.This will be a big undertaking since I will be removing each cedar board from the floor and running it through the planer to smooth out the wood and replacing the old galvanized nails with stainless screws. The railings will get a similar treatment, section by section. Everything gets a good coating of stain/finish. Despite the recent years of neglect, the deck is still amazingly solid for it's eighteen plus years. I did that one right the first time.

Jeff must work early tomorrow morning, but I will have Sunday and Monday off. This will be a short week for both of us and Friday we hit the road for our camping trip. Our next outing will be at Hillside, then P-Town, then two more Hillsides. I'm so looking forward to them all.
greatbear: (superhero me)
After walking Kodi back from the vet (the big crybaby) I headed off to what remains of the Expo Design Center in Columbia to see what I could bring home. I had stopped by the day before and saw a few things I could make use of, but not actually need. Suffice it to say, those had been snapped up. It was a gamble, since the reductions were going from 70% to 80% today, with 90% tomorrow, the last day. The house won the round this time. I managed to find a few things, most notably a pendant light fixture, a satin nickel double towel rod, a nice thick glass shelf with matching satin fixings and an unusual CFL floodlight with nearly perfect halogen color rendering. The latter was a buck, the other three items, if I had paid original price for would have cost over 300 dollars. My bill came to about 50. Yeah, I scored, but it was bittersweet. I found Hot Gary working his last days there, and we sat and talked for a while. He has not found another job yet, and his living situation will be changing as a result. It was nearly heartbreaking as we chatted about the sad economic realities hitting the area. The closing of the Expo will mean the entire section of buildings the store is a part of will be empty. Gary, who always had an air of ease and confidence about him looked ragged and uncertain. It did not help that he had been dealing with warring customers, constant questions, rampant stupidity and other nonsense. But the poor man honestly does not know what to expect in the coming days. I told him we'd help in any way we can, and to come over and hang out if he needs a change of scenery. I wish him only the best.

I stopped by Lowes after that, picking up more supplies, another 18 volt DeWalt battery pack to replace the ones dying on me and a Bosch impact driver. After coming home and having some lunch, I worked some more in the shop before heading outside to deal with a truck filled with firewood. The splitter was in need of repair to fix a worsening hydraulic oil leak. In the midst of doing this, I was interrupted by the phone ringing. it was yet another one of those bogus car warranty scam calls that have increased once again in frequency. I walk back outside just in time to hear a loud bunch of noises as my haphazardly propped stack of parts, valves and drain pan falls to the ground, and about two gallons of hydraulic oil is spewing from the ram cylinder, dousing the tractor and the Dart parked beside my work area with oil. I was livid. I had Jeff help me mop up my instant Superfund site as I wished all manner of evil hell unto those damn scammers. If the call center/boiler room holding these scums were about to be firebombed during Take Your Children To Work Day, and I had a chance to stop it, I'd smile and do nothing. Then I'd get out the marshmallows.

I unloaded and split half the truckload, adding to the pile I started before. There's about a cord and a half in the pile already, and quite a bit left to go. Had I not needed to take the time for the unexpected Exxon Valdez situation, I would have had it all done. There's not enough room in my two wood racks for this, and it looks like time has come to tear those things apart and build a proper covered wood 'crib' that will hold about four cords. I currently have space for about a cord and a half, then it's all piled on pallets and on the ground. Yet another project, albeit one long overdue. Woot. Just what I needed. Not.

I hope to finish up the rest of the unloading/splitting so I can reclaim my truck and clean up the humongous oil stains. To think I was fixing the splitter because it was leaving little drips here and there. What happened today was like some sort of cruel joke. Oh well, it's all tuned up now and leak free.

Safe cub

Mar. 27th, 2009 08:24 pm
greatbear: (superhero me)
Jeff made it home safe and sound. He did quite well for someone who absolutely hates flying. He had a great time, had a good conference and all, and is pretty tired as a result. He ended up missing out on meeting up with his foodie buds for unknown reasons, though. This was more than made up by some steamy hot action really nice evening with the one-and-only [livejournal.com profile] champdaddy Thursday evening. He's quite content having both fulfilled his work obligations in a pleasant fashion, and had some nice diversions.

He is complaining a lot about having a sore butt, though. I think it's from sitting through all those seminars.

Now if Kodi would only stop hogging him...
greatbear: (Default)
I can now rest a bit easier knowing that Jeff made it to Columbus safely for his three-day Dietary Managers confab. In the meantime, I'm certain to suffer at the hands (paws?) of SeparationAnxietyDog Kodi until he gets home early Friday evening. I was going to tag along with him as I had done before, but this was a shorter conference and it took place strictly during the week, with no weekend time to try and get together with the Columpeeps as before. Jeff will get a chance to meet with some of his foodie friends while there, so he won't be moping in his hotel room when the conference ends for the day.

He should also have the distinction of enjoying the company of the too-totally awesome [livejournal.com profile] champdaddy.

In the meantime, I am at work doing my usual, and upon going home and being attacked by Kodi, I will continue to make headway in the basement workshop cleaning up things and doing various fixits. It'll be a quiet coupla days.
greatbear: (arethahat)
The excruciating pain I was feeling in my knee was not subsiding anytime soon, so it was back to the doc to have needles stuck in it and shot up with steroids. Still hurts like hell. Time will tell if this is a remedy. It seems I am getting tendinitis everywhere.

I have all of the trim, J-channels and weatherstripping I need to finish up the garage doors project for good. I came up with a unique setup allowing me to deadbolt the doors from outside if needed (such as when I am away from home for an extended period) but they can only be unlocked from inside. Being that the area around me is getting more and more built up, I can't take chances with my investments of tools and machinery inside. After I get other items on the house and garage taken care of (roofs, mainly, plus a basement door and skylights) I have to replace two cheap wooded windows that refuse to open any more. 20 years since I built all this it's come to the point where things need replacing. Time flies. And, because of this, so does my savings.

I hope I can become mobile without so much pain again so I can take care of these things. I want to get a lot done before spring, allowing springtime for the outdoor stuff so Jeff and I can take some time to relax and socialize. No word yet on our P-Town reservations, and tonight we made reservations for Deep Creek Lake at the end of May.

There's some nasty weather in the works. Jeff had to pack a bag in case things get nasty and he's stuck staying overnight. I found that his truck has a leak in the front tire that I am not able to deal with at the moment, so he's gonna be driving The Strat in the snow. He's not too comfortable with that, but the thing does well in the snow, especially with the Bridgestone RE-960AS tires. I told him he's just gonna have to wash it.

I'm not looking forward to the next couple days either, I already have trouble walking, doing so on ice and snow makes it that more miserable.

I printed the picture of Jeff with The Hat and he took it to work. It was a hit. He knows he makes it work.

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