Category Archives: Life

Panama City Beach Report (#PCBReport)

photoI spent the last week in Panama City Beach, FL with my family. Most of my time there I spent on the beach reading a book. I had one of those 8’x8′ sun shelters to sit under while I was there and I needed to set it up near the water. I got out early Monday morning to set it up before it got crowded and got a pretty good spot.

While I was setting it up the kid renting the beach chairs approached and asked that I not set up in front of his chairs. Panama City Beach is a public beach. He didn’t mind setting his chairs in front of my sun shelter so I told him it was a public beach and to pound sand. He went to the next guy to tell him the same thing then helped him move.

This guy then saw I hadn’t moved so he moved back.

In the meantime, the chair rental people started setting up their folding chairs and umbrellas right at the high tide mark. However, some folks had already set up umbrellas and folding chairs at the high tide mark. The rental people skipped setting up their chairs around most of these but one group of chairs was far enough back the chair rental people just set their folding chairs up just inches in front of theirs.

That didn’t set too well with the people who had gotten up at 6:00AM to claim their spot on the beach. They moved their chairs in front of the rental people’s chairs.

That didn’t set too well with the rental people.

It became real apparent real fast why this section of the Gulf Coast is called the #RedNeckRiviera. Take one arrogant beach rental mgr and one retired Nashville construction worker on vacation with family and watch fireworks.

Of course the police were called. What kind of story would it have been had they not been called.

Chapter 36

If something has expanded,
it will soon contract.
If something has been weakened,
it was once overly strong.
If something was thrown away,
it was surely once admired too much.
If something is to be received,
it must first be given.

This is the wisdom of obscurity.
The soft and weak
will overcome the strong and forceful.

Small fish stay deep and survive.
A country thrives
when its weapons are not displayed.

My mother was a good cook but she would get to cooking one thing because she knew we liked it and would serve it to us until we got sick of it. Our strong appetite for the dish would become weak. I think that’s how a lot of relationships burn out. We mistake like for love and we allow lust to drive our appetites for each other and love never gets a chance to take hold. The soft and weak has overcome the strong and forceful. What is admired too much is thrown away.

If we want things to grow we don’t crowd them, we give them room. The same goes for relationships. I think this is one of the big things that has kept Gerri and me together for the past 35 years. We love each other’s company but we know when to give the other some space. The longer we’ve been together the less we need that space.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

More Surgery

This past spring I had an acute attack of pancreatitis. To diagnose this I had to undergo a CT scan. Pancreatitis can often cause problems for months resulting in hospitalization and stays in ICU. I was lucky, my doctor sent me to the ER. I received treatment and was back to normal two days later.

However, the CAT scan found something else. I had a very large and unusual shaped bladder. My doctor was very insistent that I see a urologist and have this looked into. After she called me up a month after the pancreatitis attack to again insist that I see a urologist she made me understand that this was something I needed to see a specialist about so I made an appointment with Dr. Mukeesh Patel and let him have a look.

Dr. Patel found that I had an enlarged bladder. Not only was my bladder enlarged but the muscle wall of the bladder had herniated and allowed the inner lining of the bladder to escape forming two diverticulum. This isn’t a problem unless the diverticulum are retaining urine. Mine were. The cause stemmed from an enlarged prostate restricting flow and not allowing my bladder to empty. So I had a procedure called transurethral ablation to open up the urethra.

This worked but after six months my bladder is still retaining urine. The diverticulum are filling up now and not emptying. Yesterday the decision was made to operate again to remove the diverticulum. I suggested December 6 and he is suppose to get back with me by tomorrow to confirm that date or give me an alternate.

This will cause me to lose at least a week of work but it should give me time to heal over winter and get back to riding my bicycle by mid January. I will need to start back then because I have plans for April. I’ll tell you more about those as I fill in the details myself. Hopefully this will bring an end, at least for now, to my health issues that have plagued me this year.

UPDATE: Surgery has been scheduled for December 7th.

Picking a place to live.

Over the past several months I’ve been working in Chattanooga through the week and going back home to Lawrenceville on weekends to be with my wife. This has lead to the some discussions between my wife and I about the possibility of us moving back to Chattanooga. It probably won’t happen but the thinking about it has had me considering what I’m wanting in my next home.

Our sons are now both grown and the house we now live in is way too large for us and not real practical for a couple that should consider future accessibility needs. Having to climb stairs is something that we won’t want to be doing as we get older. A level lawn is something else for which I see a need.

Location is something else I’ve been thinking about. I would love to be able to leave my car parked as much as possible. I would like to be able to safely walk or bike to stores and restaurants and other community activities. I guess I’m getting more urban as I get older. Where we live now is actually close to all of what I’m wanting but the community hasn’t been designed for foot or bike traffic.

I helped a friend find a place to live last week that was on the street where Gerri and I bought our first house. The neighborhood was built in the 1930s and 40s and is in a part of town that had gotten a little seedy at one time but now is coming back. This neighborhood never saw the blight the rest of the town saw so the houses never got in a run down condition to have to be rebuilt, they have just needed to be modernized a little.

I also noticed that sidewalks have been put in on the highway a couple of blocks from the house and those sidewalks lead to restaurants and shopping. A park has been added where an old landfill once sat and a road now connects the neighborhood to easy access to a trendy part of town.

Gerri and I have lived in four different houses over the last 32 years, each one a little larger than the last. Our needs have changed as we have grown older. It just seems funny to me that as I look at it all is that what seems to me as our perfect house is our first house.

I want my first house back.

A new goal

Weight Watchers is going good. I’m staying really close to the plan but I could do better. I’m down over six pounds overall. Yeah, that’s slow weight loss but that’s what I’m expecting. I figure as long as my weight continues to trend down I’m not in a huge hurry.

Altering my eating habits has had one good effect so far. I seem to have more energy. I’m walking more and have even began mixing a little running in with the walks. My knee is getting stronger and I have decided that I need to go ahead and move from just walking to running and building on my distance.

In fact, I’ve set a goal for myself. In five years and a few months I’ll be 60. I intend to run a marathon then. I’m not counting out running one before then but running a marathon a 60 after the last 25 years of being a couch potato seems to be a good goal.

Other small goals, fitness wise, are the 100 pushups, 200 situps and 200 squats programs. All three are six month goals. If I’m going to get old I’m going to do it healthy.

Come and Go Blues

Seems I can’t make this a habit any more. I’ve started to write several times but things have gotten in the way. So let me try to get y’all caught up with me a bit.

I’m still unemployed, though there seeems to be some movement in the job market lately. I’ve been wanting to try to take this time to get myself back in shape. I’ve joined Weight Watchers with my wife and it has made me aware of all the food that I’ve been consuming. It seems I do pretty good until sometime around 9:00PM when I start craving sweets.

I also found a problem I was having with some medication that I’ve been taking that could be a big part of my recent weight gain. Amlodipine causes edema. I noticed my feet were swelling about a week after I stepped on the scales and noticed a sudden ten pound weight gain. The weight gain proded me into joining Weight Watchers. I began searching for causes of edema and found that Amlodipine can be a culprit. Since I am also on Toprol XL I just quit taking the Amlodipine and started monitoring my blood pressure more closely. My blood pressure remained stable and after two weeks off the medication the edema cleared up.

That wasn’t the only thing that cleared up. I had been having trouble making any progress on WW. I was losing but losing by a pound or half a pound a week. Last week I wiped out all my losses and had actually gained a half a pound overall. Last night I had lost seven pounds and made my 5% goal.

The losing weight is only one side of the equation. Getting in shape means I have to move more. I’ve been walking and exploring some local parks. The rains have been playing a bit of havoc with my walking intentions but I’m determined I will be walking more and more. I’ve got to. I’m not happy with what I’ve become and I’m not doing my dog the service she deserves by not being active with her.

Ft. Yargo is a local state park that I’ve been going to. The hiking there is fairly flat but there are miles and miles of trails there around a nice lake. I’ve also been walking and hiking at Harbins Park a new Gwinnett County park that features over five miles of hiking trails in what gives the appearance of being wilderness. There is also the Suwanee Greenway Park.

When not visiting the parks my subdivision gives me a decent amount of space to walk in. I can get three miles in just lapping my subdivision and the one across the highway.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ll try to finish up some of the essays I’ve also been starting and stopping on and share them with you soon.

It’s Most Likely Cancer

It’s difficult to hear regardless of where its found. I most likely have cancer. That’s the part you hear. Yeah, this is skin cancer and the doctor called it a carcenoma, not a melanoma, and it has been caught early so while it is most likely cancer it is also most likely fairly harmless. We’ll find out for sure in a couple of weeks after the lab tests are back.

Still it’s cancer.

I feel so deeply for those who actually have a serious form of the disease. With me I have skin scraped off my arm where a sore has been for an abnormally long time. For them it’s the prelude to serious surgery, subjecting their body to all sorts of toxic chemicals and being illuminated with radiation. All that on top of hearing, “You have cancer.”

At least I’m not alone…

I was let go today.

While I needed the income I can’t say that I’m completely upset about this situation. Oh, I’m a little concerned about paying my bills but I honestly believe that there is something out there that I’m suppose to do and this was God’s way of giving me the opportunity to find it.

I know that now is not a good time to be seeking employment so I’m looking for work mainly, just about anything to bring in an income. I won’t turn down employment but I’ve got to be truthful to myself about prospects and I think I’m more likely to find paying work than finding employment. I think  I may be happier that way also.

I will now start the process of updating my résumé and several webpages (LinkedIn, CareerBuilders, this site and others I operate) and start looking for work. If you need someone who is very experienced with Wonderware, RSView, ControlLogix, PLC5 and SLC50x, OPC servers and clients or building and maintaining websites please give my a yell. My rates are reasonable and I’m currently available.

A Long and Winding Road

Last night I attended what started out as an informal reunion of the Red Bank High School Class of 1973. It became a fairly formal and very well organized event that was attended by around 70 people. I was amazed by how this thing came together. But I guess I shouldn’t have been. We had some fantastic organizers in our high school.

I saw people I haven’t seen in 35 years and very much surprised that I was recognized by as many people as recognized me. Some of these people I have known since 1960 and was very close to during my childhood and teenage years. Some I barely knew.  It was a joy to see every one  of them.

This got me to thinking, as it was meant to do, just how much changed and how much unchanged we all were. The personalities were all the same but our bodies have aged. So many of us were still recognizable, so few of us weren’t. The real changes weren’t personalities or physical changes but were changes in the eyes.

Last night I truly understood how the eyes are windows into our souls. Even through the joy that appeared in everyone’s eyes on seeing old friends there could be seen the sadness and joys each and every one of us had experienced over the last three and a half decades.

Our experiences were on display there, in our eyes, and I’m sure they would only be visible to people who had known each other as long as we have known each other.

Debbie, thank you so much for being the instigator of this event. Cassandra, I will be eternally grateful to you for organizing everything. Y’all and all the others involved in planning and organizing this event gave me a joy that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Oh, and Debbie, one other thing. Yes, God is good. God is good all of the time and all of the time God is good. God bless you and have safe travels.

Replacing the starter solenoid on a 1995 Chevrolet Silverado

It should have been easy. Even after spending all day trying to get it done I’ll still say it should have been easy. Two bolts hold it in place and two nuts for the wiring. The only snag is that you really can’t get it past clutch slave cylinder. Okay I took the slave cylinder off and let it hang by its hydraulic line. Well, now I can’t get it turned back around the right way to get it out with the slave cylinder out of the way.

I’m talking about the starter on my truck. The solenoid switch went out on it the other day and I figured I’d save myself a couple of hundred bucks by doing the work myself. I started at 2:00 this afternoon and finished a few minutes past eleven…. and I’m tired. It took me thirty minutes in the shower just to get the grease off of me.

After I finally got it out and put back in I went to hook the battery up and the starter kicked in. I took the starter back out and tested my connections again with a 12VDC power supply I have. It should have worked. I moved the wiring around a bit, rechecked everything and reinstalled it. It went a good bit faster putting it back in this time but I had the same problem. After several removals and reinstallations, trying something different I finally thought it through well enough to know what the problem was.

There is a little ear on the wire terminator that is suppose to lock the wire terminator into the solenoid terminal. I thought I had engaged it but I was wrong. It was shorting out against the starter switch terminal. I fixed that and things seemed good…. until I tried to start it. The clutch actuator wasn’t seated properly. Back under the truck I went to remove and reinstall the clutch slave cylinder, making sure the actuator is seated.

It started after about 2/3 of a revolution.

Okay, just so I have the procedure down, here it is.
Tools needed:

  1. 9/16″ socket.
  2. 1/2″ socket
  3. 3/8″ socket
  4. E6 Torx® socket
  5. #2 Phillips screwdriver.

Removal:

  1. Remove the negative terminal from the battery.
  2. Engage the emergency brake, chock the wheels and jack up the truck.
  3. Install jack stands, do not trust the jack.
  4. Remove the clutch slave cylinder.
  5. Disconnect the wiring from the starter. (Yeah, it’s tight but you can do it and trying to do it after taking loose the starter is much tougher.)
  6. Remove the two bolts holding the starter on, twist the starter clockwise and remove from the bell housing.

Replacing starter solenoid:

  1. Remove heat shield.
  2. Remove grounding strap from solenoid.
  3. Remove three Torx® head screws holding solenoid to the starter.
  4. Carefully pull solenoid back and up to disengage from the sprocket throw.

I’m tired I’ll edit this later and finish up. I’m going to bed. I have to drive back to Kansas tomorrow.

More on Running

Well, it’s been a little over a week since my first run. I’ve been fairly faithful with running as scheduled except for one day when I woke up with my legs just hurting too bad to go for a run. I went out again this afternoon.

I’m going to have to do something about this leg pain. I’m sort of worried it might be related to circulation and may just be coincidental to me starting to run. If this doesn’t start feeling better within a week I’ll go see my doctor. I still haven’t picked up a knee brace but I don’t think that’s the problem. My knee isn’t what’s bothering me.

Living in the Now.

This morning I was going through my daily reads and found this quote over on Flutterby:

“Don’t be sorry. We are all dying Jack. It’s just that some of us are dying a little faster. The key is to not live your life as if you are already dead.”

It was from a weblog about a lawyer trying to simplify his life explaining what it was that made him decide to move up his schedule for quitting his job.

I thought about this for a moment and reflected upon the meaning it held for me then went on about my daily reads.

Cat then proceeded to floor me by writing about the sudden death of a friend and fellow athelete.

All this has me reflecting even more about life than I normally do around Christmas and the new year. It’s something I know but takes stories like these told to me by people I know and love that sends the message home. I’m not promised tomorrow and yesterday is already gone. All I really have is right now.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think about the past and how what I learned then should affect my decisions that I’m making right now. It doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t make plans and allowances for my future because, while I’m not promised the future it hasn’t been denied me yet.

No, what that means is that I need to be savoring every moment that I live because it could well be my last. Everything that I write I should write like it will be my last words. Every job I do I should do it as though it will be the last job I’m remembered for. But most of all, I need to cherish my wife, family and friends now as though I’ll not have another day with them.

Living in the now means not anticipating the future. Living in the now means not grieving over past mistakes. I have the now and that’s it. I just need to keep that in mind for each now I may have in the future.

Running

After reading Cat’s post on the Fat Ass 50K I made a commitment to myself to start running. I found the Cool Running.com article The Couch to 5k Plan and decided that building myself up to running three miles a day was doable even in my horrible physical condition. I needed to take care of a few things first, though.

A little over a year and a half ago I had a torn meniscus repaired on my right knee. The job I had at the time made sticking to the physical therapy difficult and the result is that I have very weak supporting muscles for that knee. This has caused me to overwork my left leg resulting in fairly painful plantar fasciitis in my left foot.

During a physical I had a couple of weeks ago I mentioned this to my doctor in relating to him my plans to start running. He gave me his blessings for running but told me I needed a good running shoe with arch support and a knee brace. Okay, that seems reasonable enough. He also upped my blood pressure medication dosage, another incentive to become more active.

I moseyed over to Fleet Feet on the square in Lawrenceville and talked to the people over there. I told the salesman where I was in fitness, what my plans were and what my doctor had told me. I also mentioned to him that I was a tightwad that hated to part with my money. He measured my foot, and then took off after some boxes.

I ended up with a pair of Asics GT-2130s, a pair of Superfeet insoles and a pair of Balega Hidden Comfort XL socks. The shoes are a size 13. I’ve always thought I wore a size 12. The socks are the ankle height socks and they have a little padding over the Achilles tendon. I like this because new shoes tend to irritate that part of my foot.

This morning, after walking both the Bichon Frise and my Boxer I dropped Mattie, the Bichon, off at the house while Sammie, the Boxer, and I took back off to try out the shoes. (I allowed my cash strapped oldest son to give me the shoes for Christmas.) I tried to stay with the Cool Running program but only got through the third set of running/walking before my knee told me to back off. I guess I really do need the brace.

Sammie did great on this outing. I was a little worried about whether she would help me keep up the pace or if she would be a distraction. She recognized what her job was and kept pace right next to me with a loose leash. Even when a woman came outside with a standard poodle and a greyhound she kept her cool and ignored them, staying right by my side.

I finished walking home so Sammie and I put in a little over a mile on the shoes, I just didn’t run as much as I was suppose to. I intend to do the same thing with Sammie tomorrow morning and the next morning and the next. My office is closed until January 2 so I should be able to at least get myself back use to getting up and doing this before I have to worry about being to work.

My goal for now is to be able to run a ¼ mile without stopping. Following the Cool Running plan should have me there in a couple of weeks. I don’t want to look ahead or rush myself on this or set too grand of goals to discourage myself but I do recognize the need for goals. I also know that Cat has shown me that sticking to a program will pay off in huge dividends. The key is sticking to it.

Gerald

Gerald is my father-in-law. He and my mother-in-law divorced when my wife was two and he just never was much in my wife’s life. He didn’t make promises to her he couldn’t keep and he didn’t reject her, he just wasn’t there. My mother-in-law wasn’t the only failed marriage he had, he was married at least once before her and has been married at least twice since her. I think his current marriage will last until he dies.

Gerald has fathered a number of children. As best as I can tell he was never a dead-beat dad, he just wasn’t there. Golf and work came before family, it seems. They are all grown now with children and grandchildren of their own.

I’ve always liked Gerald. He’s probably been the best father-in-law a man could ask for. He has never butted into my family’s business and never been a source of contention between me and my wife. My wife would have liked a closer relationship with him growing up but she has accepted him for who and what he is and loves him as a daughter ought to love a father.

Gerald has been somewhat crippled since he was a boy. He had some type of bone disease in one leg that left it a few inches shorter than his other. This condition has given him problems several times over the years landing him in the hospital and in intensive care units more than once. He’s always recovered and gone back to work in his HVAC business.

Gerald is now in his late 70s. Last week complications in his bad leg led to a stroke. He’s suffering from paralysis to his left side, the side his bad leg is on. This past weekend the complications that led to the stroke also led to that leg being amputated. I don’t think he knows this yet.

If Gerald makes it out of the hospital I have no doubts that he will recover and probably even get to the point that he will need a prosthesis for the missing leg. If nothing else Gerald is a fighter. My concern now is for my wife, her step-mother(s) and her half siblings. While Gerald has strained all of his relationships over the years his family still loves him. Even several of his ex-wives.

Keep fighting, Gerald. I’m confident you can recover. This next year will be interesting.

A Night in an Airport

It’s after 10:00PM and I’m sitting in Laguardia waiting for morning. I missed my flight this afternoon by about 10 minutes. Actually, I probably could have made my flight had I not had a bag that needed checking.

Regardless of all that I’m stuck here for the night. My flight out tomorrow is at 6:00AM and I’m not about to go find an affordable hotel for what little sleep I would get.

I really did think I would make it. I left New Haven, Connecticut at 5:15PM and headed down a relatively lightly traveled I-95 for New York. I really did mean to leave at 5:00PM but there was that “just one more thing” that I needed to check and that “just one more thing” that I needed to relay to the electrician that was left there with me.

My flight was at 7:50. The last flight out from LGA to ATL on Airtran. I was assured I would have plenty of time on the start up, that the equipment would be ready to turn over to me at 9:00AM. Of course, this was after two days of the exact same sort of estimation on how long the work would take. I really needed a full four hours to do a complete check out and commissioning of the equipment.

The equipment was turned over to me at 2:45PM. It wasn’t that the electrician and millwrights were dilly dallying, it was just a bad estimate by the customer as to how long his workers would take to perform the tasks at hand. Still I was able to certify the functionality of the equipment with a couple of caveats.

But I didn’t intend to write this about the startup. I want to talk about Laguardia Airport.

This place sucks!

It’s Saturday night and almost everything had shutdown by 8:00PM. Even had things stayed open until 9:00PM or 10:00PM there is practically nothing here. This is my first time in and out of Laguardia and I’m really disappointed in this place. I was up this way a couple of weeks ago but used the airport in Hartford for that trip. I think I would rather be stuck there.

I guess this happens when a city is served by no less than three airports with airline service. I mean, even though this is a city of twelve million people there are just so many people flying at any given time. When you split the load up among Laguardia, Kennedy, and Newark those airports are not going to need to all be large airports.

I guess I need to quite my belly aching. I’m here for the night and there is no changing that now. I just wish they had more comfortable chairs in this tiny lounge area I’m in.

It’s going to be a long night.