Archive for February, 2013

Difficult week

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Shannon and me Hawaiian shirts

Here are LRN4 and yours truly enjoying a nice Hawaiian party back in California.  Great Art courtesy of somebody else’s camera and part of my famous Vacation series.  Well, we weren’t really on vacation that day, but it kind of looks like it.

It’s been a very difficult week, as advertised above.  We discovered a week ago today that LRN4 has acute myoblastic leukemia – blood cancer, and a pretty bad case of it.  She was in horrible condition when we got to the hospital.  We though she was recovering from a very bad case of strep throat, but when she got steadily worse even after taking three different antibiotics, we decided we needed to go to the emergency room.  They were pretty casual about our visit until they got the results of her blood test, after which they got very serious.  We’ve been here since then.

LRN4 was in very rocky shape on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, but they hooked her up to a machine that scoops white blood cells out of your blood and used it for the first three days.  It lowered the number of cells sufficiently for them to start chemotherapy, which took place late Friday evening.  Tonight will start day six of seven chemo days.  We’ll be here in the hospital for 2-3 more weeks after chemo finishes, waiting for LRN4’s bad blood cells to finish dying and healthy cells to start growing afterwards.  We’re told there’s a 70% chance of her going into remission after her first round of chemo.  In any case we’re looking at a total of 3-4 rounds, possibly followed by a bone marrow transplant.  We’re basically planning on spending the rest of the year on this.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that our oncologist continually tells us that leukemia is curable.  We have great faith in that prognosis.  She’ll be cured.

A couple of things have had to fall by the wayside, of course.  The first is our planned March cruise to Hawaii with our friends Doug and Connie.  That’s a shame, not a disaster.  We can go to Hawaii again next year.  It’s a pity, but not a disaster.  We’re still scheduled to cruise to Europe in November and December for our 35th anniversary.  If the transplant doesn’t happen, we’re optimistic we’ll be able to make that cruise.  Otherwise, it’s anybody’s guess.

If canceled cruises are the only casualty of this challenge, we’re doing great!  Cross your fingers for us on that one, Loyal Readers!

In the meantime, I’m spending my time her at the hospital with LRN4, except for a few hours a day that I spend unpacking boxes at the house, watching the landscaping progress in the back yard, doing laundry, getting cars registered at the DMV, and whatever else comes up.  There’s plenty to do, and it’s kind of a nice change and a challenge to get the house “finished” before LRN4 gets home.  I think I’ll hold off on hanging pictures until she’s here to direct that work, but I’m committed to having everything unpacked, the backyard done, the pantry and closets organized, and the house spotlessly clean for her return.  It’ll happen.

Work is well underway on the backyard!  The jacuzzi got here yesterday and it back there, most of the pavers are down, and the raised beds are just about done.  There’s still a lot more to be done, but it’s moving quickly.  I’m excited to get home in an hour or so and see how far they’ve gotten today.  I’m taking a lot of pictures so LRN4 can track the progress too.

Family and friends have rallied around and are really taking care of us and showing they love us.  LRN4’s sister Melanie has been here every day.  LRN2, Melanie’s husband Ken and their daughters Marcie and Tonya have also been here.  We’ve had numerous phone calls from my parents and brothers and sisters and LRN4’s dad and brother, and all our kids, of course.  Then there are the text message, emails, and Facebook posts.  There’s been a flood of communication.  I’m kind of struggling to keep up with it all, but I think we’re holding our own.

The future looks rosy.  The immediate future will be tough, but I’m convinced that the future will be extremely good.  The events of this past week have refocused my mind and heart and made me realize how truly precious LRN4 is to me.  She is my entire world.  I don’t know how I could live without her, and I’ve taken her so for granted for so long.  I’m quite sure our mutual life will be the sweetest we’ve ever had.  I’m going to make it that way, at any rate.

No food violence news tonight.  I’ll be back with that tomorrow.  Instead I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this: Shannon Morrow, I love you deeply.  Be mine forever!

See you tomorrow.

Worst farm

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

worstfarm

Here’s the absolute worst farm in the world.  I would think that a farm of about half an acre, all of which is tightly sandwiched between two thousand-foot-high cliffs, would be a difficult place to raise really healthy crops.  Seems like the amount of sunlight would be rather severely limited, for example.  But what do I know about big-time agriculture?  Great Art courtesy of the exclusive iPhone cam, taken at the model railroad museum in New Jersey, and part of my famous Train series.

Nice weekend, I suppose.  LRN4 still seems to be as sick as ever, though, which is quite sick indeed.  I may have mentioned it before, but I’ve never known her to be this sick for this long.  In fact she’s never before been either this sick OR sick for this long.  So to have them both happen at the same time is pretty bad indeed.  She’s tried three antibiotics so far.  The throat culture no longer shows any active bacteria, apparently, but she’s still in a tremendous amount of pain in both the throat and ears and now she’s dizzy and sleepy all the time.  I suspect that the dizziness and exhaustion are a byproduct of the second antibiotic, which hasn’t gotten out of her system yet.  Hopefully, that stuff will be gone within a few days and she can start perking back up.  In the meantime, things are pretty tough around here.

On the positive side, neither LRN2 nor I have gotten whatever it is that LRN4 has.  So far.

And it’s imperative that I don’t get it.  Our cruise starts in just over three weeks.  Since LRN4 has been sick for about three weeks and counting now, I don’t want to start with a cycle of this horrendous bug.  We’d absolutely hate to have to miss the cruise.

Which I’m getting excited about.  It’s not exactly like I’m not getting enough time off from work right now, but I’m still excited to be on the ship for a couple weeks, tour around the islands again, take some fun classes (but probably not ukulele lessons this time – sorry!), eat some really great meals, see a few shows, and generally enjoy lounging around.  In a totally different place from here.  Not that I’m not enjoying lounging around right here as well.

Anyway.  Efforts continue on learning Visual Studio C++.  I’ve finally gotten to the part of my wretched book that actually teaches how to program the Windows GUI.  There are multiple ways of doing it and . . . wait a second.

Okay, I’m back.  After doing just a modicum of research, I’ve decided to dump what I’ve been studying for more than a week (C++/Microsoft Foundation Classes) and switch to the more modern tech (C#/.net).  I should have done this from the very beginning, but I thought I needed to be compatible with legacy libraries.  But you know what?  I don’t have to and I’m not going to. It’s become painfully clear that MFC is really outdated, so I’m starting over and I think I’ll still become productive more quickly anyway.  And the big bonus is that I get to jettison that idiotic book I was reading.  After 14 chapters, that is.

Anyway.  I’m full of new-found enthusiasm!  I’ll get started first thing tomorrow (well, I exercise first thing and eat breakfast second thing and shower third thing, so I’ll get started fourth thing tomorrow, although that sounds terrible, doesn’t it?).

Not much else to report today.  LRN2 and I had dinner at Pei Wei the other night and enjoyed it very much.  I had dinner at Roberto’s (my favorite old San Diego taqueria – I can’t tell you how excited I was to discover there’s one right around the corner from our house) last night and LRN2 and I went to Cafe Rio tonight.  So I’ve had plenty of fast food lately.  Not too good for my Atkins-based way of eating, but I’m holding on – finally down below 200 pounds, which represents a 35-pound weight loss since the beginning of October.  Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.  Twenty more pounds to go, probably after LRN4 heals up and we start eating normal meals again.

Real Soon Now: Rubio’s.  I love Las Vegas.  They have everything here!

And I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this shocking food violence news: meatball embezzlement!

See you tomorrow.

Ensenada arrival

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Ensenadaarrival

Here’s the view from the ship during our last Hawaii cruise, taken just as we were arriving in Ensenada.  Get a load of that flag.  We were only in port for a few hours and LRN4 and I didn’t get off the ship, but it was nice to see land again after five days at sea.  As discussed in this space before, we’re less than a month away from taking the same ship on the same trip.  I’m getting excited to go.  Great Art courtesy of the exclusive iPhone-cam and part of my famous Cruise, Vacation, and Machinery series.

Disaster strikes!  My beloved pickup is in critical condition in the automotive hospital!  I spoke with them today and discovered that the misfire isn’t due to spark and isn’t due to fuel.  That leaves only one cause – the dreaded compression.  That means one thing and one thing only: either a valve job, a complete engine rebuild, or a new engine.

Okay, that’s three things.  But they’re really just different manifestations of the same thing, and that spells cubic dollars.  I don’t know which option I’ll choose, but it’ll be one of them.  Probably either a complete rebuild or a new (actually factory rebuilt) engine.  The beloved pickup will live to drive another day.

Fortunately, I received my big severance check from Lockheed today.  Although I would have preferred the engine rebuild money to be put to work as living expenses for a month.  But you can’t have everything, can you?  For one thing, where would you put it?

Thank you, you’re a great crowd.  Don’t forget to tip your server.  Or your blogger.  Speaking of which, should I put a tip jar on the blog?  Nah – I’d rather have my Loyal Readers just click through to Amazon from my blog, buy something nice for themselves, and let me collect a nice little commission.  Try it, Loyal Readers – it’s easy!  So much better than a plain old tip jar.  Although feel free to send me money too.  The juggernaut must be fed.

LRN4’s sister Melanie came over for dinner and conversation this evening.  We had a great meal and she brought us a delicious chocolate pie to top it off.  What a nice evening!  Happy Valentine’s Day to Melanie.  And to LRN4.  Especially to LRN4.

Also get-well-soon wishes to LRN4.  She’s still quite miserable.  She talked to her highly-trained medical staff this afternoon and told them she’s still not feeling so hot and wondered aloud whether she should come back for stronger measures.  They said as long as she’s not feeling worse than when she started, she should stay the course.  She’s been very sick for what seems like a very long time – sicker than I’ve ever seen her.  I’m worried.  Also missing her normal self.  It won’t be long now, I’m sure.

Work continues on my project to learn Visual Studio.  I’m not at all happy with the book I’m using, but it appeared to be the best available book covering VS 2005 (which is generally the version still in use for the projects I’m thinking of taking on – fortunately, it’s also the one I happen to already have).  So under the circumstances, it’ll have to do.  The problem is that it tries to teach you C++ at a very basic level first and then it gets into the Visual Studio part of Visual Studio.  I don’t mind a refresher course on C++, but this thing is going into minute details, which I don’t feel a need for right now.  But I can’t skip any of it, because it sprinkles random essential information in the middle of the minutia.  So it’s a bit slow going.  But I’m making progress and can feel that I’m right on the verge of gaining the knowledge I came for.  Any minute now.

My new shoelaces arrived in the mail today.  They look great – I’ll have the coolest shoes in the gym tomorrow morning.  However, they also came with a velcro strap – the kind you typically use to bundle wires together or some other such thing.  I have no idea why it was shipped with five pairs of shoelaces.  Maybe just to keep the spare laces together?  Or is there something the cool kids are doing with velcro straps and athletic shoes?

And that’s about it for tonight.  I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this exciting Morrowlife Employment Agency job opportunity: astronaut food taster!

See you tomorrow.

Longwood fountains

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

fountainlawn

Here are a few of the fountains at Longwood Gardens.  Great Art taken last summer courtesy of the exclusive iPhone-cam and part of my famous Statue series.  Seriously, I’m sure there’s a statue in there somewhere.

Speaking of beautiful botanic gardens, we went to the Springs Preserve over the weekend to check out their more desert-related landscaping there.  Not quite the spectacle that Longwood Gardens is, but it’s nice.  We bought a membership and plan to go back several times.  There are hiking trails, sample desert gardens, and lots of classes on how to make your yard here beautiful.  Recommended.

Speaking of which.  The big news: we’ve ordered the backyard landscaping!  Also the backyard hot tub!  It’s going to be great!  They start work in a week or two.  We’re getting pavers, rocks (regular and river!), trees (including the lemon tree I wanted and the palo verde tree LRN4 wanted!), bushes, cacti (including a fencepost AND a few barrels!), walls, lights (up-facing AND down-facing!), raised beds, a watering system, and … wait for it … four (count ’em – four!) boulders!

We already submitted our proposal to the HOA and Gabriel the Landscaping Guy is ordering stuff.  Also, we ordered the hot tub today.  Yea for us!  Come hang out in our backyard in a few weeks, Loyal Readers!

Actually, I’m not quite sure how we’re going to fit all that cool stuff into our teeny tiny yard.  But if anyone can do it, Gabriel can.  I’m pretty sure of that.  Oh, and we only went about 20% over our total house fixing-up budget.  Which is pretty good when you get right down to it.  So I don’t feel bad about that at all.

On the negative side, my Beloved Pickup is in the truck hospital.  We went to get it smogged to get Nevada plates on it, and it picked that time to turn on its Check Engine light.  Sigh.  So my non-loyal-reader brother-in-law gave me the name of his shop.  I called them and they said to come right over, seeing as how it was a Beloved Pickup Emergency.  Haven’t heard back from them yet.  Cross your fingers for my Beloved Pickup, Loyal Readers.  Also for my checking account.

On the positive side, LRN4 and I now have Nevada Driver’s licenses, my car now has Nevada license plates, and I now have both Nevada and Clark County business licenses.  My business can now officially do business!  More to the point, my business can now make money!  Now to actually do it…

I’m making a tiny bit of progress along those lines too.  I’ve decided to take a stab at creating a few little Windows programs, for which I’m busily educating myself.  It’ll take a little while longer before I’m completely comfortable with Visual Studio, but I’m getting there.  It’s looking like it’ll be a reasonable transition from Objective C and Xcode to C++ and Visual Studio.

In the meantime, my existing plans to work on iOS and Android software are also moving forward.  In the good news part of that equation, my little Morse Trainer app finally seems to be catching some people’s attention.  In the bad news part of that equation, the app is free.  Still, there ought to be a way to build on that little bit of momentum and find a way to monetize my participation in the morse code community while still contributing valuable free content.  Just need to work on that a bit.

The best news of the day is that LRN4’s nasty case of strep throat appears to be marginally better.  On the bad side, she’s been taking the penicillin since Saturday and she’s not as improved as we expected.  So we’re only cautiously optimistic at best.  She’s really had a tough time of it.  Get well soon, LRN4!

We’re less than a month away from our cruise to Hawaii!  I’m looking forward to being at sea again and to seeing our friends Doug and Connie from California.  Can’t wait for the fun to start!

Made a few exotic purchases at Amazon today.  Check out these sporting goods!  And these fantastic home furnishing accessories! What a glamorous life I lead.

And it’s just about bedtime, so I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this shocking food violence news: gingerbread house arson!

See you tomorrow.

Halifax visit

Friday, February 8th, 2013

halifax

Here’s LRN4 enjoying the beauties of Halifax, Nova Scotia.  It was a perfect early fall day, we had a great tour, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  Those Canadians really know how to have fun.  Great Art taken last September with the exclusive iPhone-cam and part of my famous Vacation and Cruise series.

Progress!  At least on the business front, anyway.  I am now the proud owner of Business Casual Software LLC, a Nevada corporation.  To celebrate, I created a Facebook Page, which already has three fans, not including myself.  So I guess it actually has four fans.  Because I’m its biggest fan.  Definitely its biggest fan.  So far, LRN3 is my only Loyal Reader who also likes my business page, but I’m hoping to boost that number by a bit.

Now that I know how to do it, I’m planning to create a page for LRN4’s blog.  Maybe I’ll work a deal with her: I’ll like her page if she likes mine.  I think she just might go for it.  One thing I can guarantee – she’ll have a whole lot more likes on her page immediately than I’m getting on mine.

Spent some time last night learning Visual Studio 2005, which is the version required for some work I’m contemplating doing.  I’ve pretty much kept my development work up till now in the Mac/Linux/Unix/embedded processor domains, so there’s a bit of a learning curve with Windows.  Luckily, the concepts pretty much all translate from one system to another, so I expect I’ll pick it up well enough to become dangerous within a very short time.  The development environment seems pretty impressive so far, and I have a good book to guide me, so I’m optimistic.

Also spent a little time corresponding with one of the users of my Morse Trainer app.  I’m delighted to report that I have about 2,000 downloads of that app in the past six months.  Of course, I expect to beat that handily with other work in the near future, but that’s not too shabby for my second app.  My arm is now just a little bit sore from all this patting myself on the back.  What a guy!

Speaking of soreness, LRN4 continues to be pretty sick.  It still appears that she has nothing more serious than cold symptoms, but it’s settled in her throat and ears, causing quite a bit of discomfort and a practically nonexistent voice.  I miss being able to talk with her!  It’s been eerily quiet around the New Fortress of Solitude.  A bit too much solitude, even for me.  Get well soon, LRN4!

We’re going to the Springs Preserve tomorrow to see the raptor show.  Should be good fun and the weather looks to be somewhat cool (maybe mid-40’s to 50 during the hours we expect to be there) but sunny.  I’m excited to see the place.

And it’s time to retire for the evening.  I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this exciting Morrowlife Employment Agency job opportunity: fake escaping rhino!

See you on Monday.