Apr 29, 2008

Medical Queries Answered

Ok, I know I am overdue on the medical issues plaguing my home. So here is the run-down. but, I have to warn you, this issue gets me a little upset, perhaps even pissed off. So be warned.

First off, the pet crisis appears to be over. Ubu is in much better shape, the Kitten Infirmary (our bedroom) has been reopened to the general population of the house, and every seems to be happy. Ubu has gained some weight, he is eating on his own and is overall much better. He still throws up every now and then, but its not horrible and, like I said, he is generally happier and better. So that is a good thing.

Now to my sad tale of woe.

I waited 6 weeks to see the orthopedist. I called every single day looking for a sooner appointment. In the end, I was seen April 22 at 9 am. The doctor himself, was somewhat anti-social (that's the best way I think I can describe him). I have seen an orthopedist before, and I think they all have this demeanor. It must be something they learn in school. Or maybe the vast amount of knowledge gained coupled with the vast amount of money spent on schooling costs the doctor a large amount of his personality. He played around with the ankle joint, then made the declaration that my ankle was in bad shape. He stated that I was facing two real options: Ankle Replacement (which he said he does not believe in) and Ankle Fusion. He then prescribed me a custom fit brace to wear (which I still don't have). These things seem well and good. The he said he wanted me to go to the store and purchase some Alieve (arthritis medication) and take that for a while. Then he said he would see me in six weeks for follow-up.

Now, I am no medical doctor. I haven't had years of schooling. but I have been living with my own condition all my life and its nothing new to me. I have also, long ago, accepted the fact that there are certain inevitabilities when it comes to my ankles. So going into this appointment I was not exactly uneducated as to the possible outcomes. I tried to explain this to the doctor but was pretty much dismissed.

After he told me these things he said, and I quote, "You don't look happy." Well, at least medical school didn't remove the ability to recognize an angry look directed towards him.

So I left there no real plan and no real sense of direction and a whole lot of frustration. So here I sit, still on light duty, still wondering what my fate will be here.

I sent my medical information to UC Davis Health Center, looking for a chance to see someone else. I received word yesterday that I will not be accepted as a patient there, as they have too many patients already.

At this point I will be looking to send my medical records to UC San Francisco. And beyond that, I have another appointment with Frustration on June 3rd.

Apr 27, 2008

Home Improvement, Part 1

This weekend, I took all three days off. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Time away from work was certainly needed, and I feel as though I have taken full advantage of the opportunity. So now I will document my exploits for the weekend.

This is the underside of my deck. The rat problem prompted me to actually look underneath. As you can see, it is covered in cob webs, but was actually fairly clean.

Note, however, the large 4x4 post, and how it looks like it is rotting away. That's because it is. For the most part, the deck simply broke apart. which generally made for some easy removal. I will say however, whoever built this deck must have assumed that it was going to last forever. I'm not sure how they came to that conclusion, but I think it was ill-conceived.

The end result of two days deck removal:

I figure there is about 2 or 3 dump trips there, if not more. Lucky me. But, the end results are looking promising. Sadly, money constraints won't allow me to complete this project immediately. But so far, here is what I have accomplished:

Its a work in progress for sure. In the end though, it will make sitting in the backyard a lot more enjoyable. There are some details still to work out, like the dirty looking strip across the house where the deck used to be. I figure if it doesn't clean up enough a planter can be put there, or something of that nature. But its been nice to have a weekend project, and I figure I'll be working on it over the next couple of weeks until its done.

Sadly, I have been doing this project generally on my own, fortunately I had my partner here:

Apr 21, 2008

I Love the Smell of Karma in the Evening. It Smells Like.... Victory

My day at work was somewhat long.... as evidenced by my blog entry I made this morning. I'm sure there were other things I could have been doing, but at the time my mind wasn't at work. I slowly recovered as the day wore on, and things generally improved.

When I came home I noticed the door to the live trap I set near the deck had fallen. This has happened before, so I wasn't to hopeful.... But when I moved the dog house out of the way I was met by a pair of beady little black eyes attached to a little grey rodent.

This is the critter I believe I have seen running across the back patio on occasion.

He doesn't look quite so ferocious here in a cage. But given the chance I think he might attempt to tear my face off.

Here, trapped in the "Have a Heart Trap," He doesn't seem so scary. But in the end, its still a rat. And he had to be removed. The wife had promised me she would take care of the release when the time came (the rodent actually scares me!!). Sadly, she is with her parents tonight and the task or release after the catch has become mine.

So I went to this little meadow, nestled in the middle of Sequoia Park. This meadow was actually created in a wind storm that dropped a whole slew of trees. Its far from the house and seemed a suitable spot for the release of the critter. So I hopped in the truck and made my way there. When I go there a mother of two asked if I was releasing my rat. Her implication was that I was releasing a pet, to which she seemed a little disapproving. After explaining that he was an outdoor rat I had trapped, I suddenly became a compassionate human being. Ah Karma, you sly little devil. Already my standing in the world has improved.

This tree stump is the last place I saw the critter and he climbed it and then disappeared. He is free now. And I have to say, despite my own misgivings about letting him go, it was a good thing to do and I feel good about the situation. I feel victorious.

Is it Karma's will that I should feel victorious? I don't think so. I think Karma would have me feel enlightened and a better person because of my state of higher consciousness at the lessons learned. But I'm glad he is gone, I'm glad he is in a better place.

So it is done. And yes, I do feel like a better person because of it. Is that Karma at work? I hope so. But in the end, Karma is still a subject I feel a little ignorant of, but sometimes the old saying is true.... Ignorance is Bliss.

A little venting.

This morning I got up, showered, shaved and dressed myself for work. I even had a few bucks in my pocket so I stopped in at the Starbucks and got myself a hot beverage. Then I came to work. This is not really anything different than my normal routine. In fact, take out the Starbucks and it is my morning, every morning.

Then I came to the office at 5:45 for the beginning of my shift. And the oddest thing happened. I found myself short tempered, in fact I think I was nearly angry. And for the life of me I could not figure out why. In fact, while I am writing this, I still can't seem to figure out why. But I think there are a few triggers that have put me in the place I am at.
  1. Its been over a month and a half since I started trying to deal with this ankle issue of mine. I have called every day, in hopes of a sooner appointment, to no avail. I realize this is not the fault of the people who coordinate such issues, but it is frustrating none the less. I work in a profession when I don't sit at a desk very much. So to be on a modified duty status is actually cumbersome to the rest of the office. Someone has to make up for the job I am unable to do. This by itself is frustrating, because I don't like people to have to take up my slack. I feel like I am letting people down. When things aren't going right for someone else, I feel like they are looking at me with some amount of anger about the fact that they are dealing with the mess I am avoiding.
  2. Unanswered questions bug me. Being somewhat unsure of the outcome ahead of me bugs me. I think that there is a surgery coming is inevitable, and something I have accepted. The extent of the work that will be needed is my biggest concern. 20 years ago, the surgeon who did the work on my ankles said the work he did would only last about 10 years. So I have milked an extra ten years out of it, which seems pretty good. But now, having sat over a month waiting to see the one person who is in charge of my fate, the unanswered questions weigh pretty heavily on my mind. Again, this is no one's fault. It is simply the circumstance I am in, and all I can do it wait it out.
  3. Last, the system here for medical treatment is somewhat frustrating. To see one person you have to get a referral from another person. It went like this: I saw urgent care, then I saw my doctor who referred me to the radiologist. Once I saw the radiologist I referred back to my own doctor, who said, "Yep, your ankle is screwed up and its beyond the scope of what I do." He then referred me to an orthopedist. Now, once I see this guy, who knows what will happen. I just hope he doesn't say anything about waiting for another month before we can do anything.

So, these are my woes. They really aren't earth shattering, nor do I think my perspective on life is going to change dramatically because of enlightenment that comes from going through trials of any sort. I think mainly, in this case, I am simply putting my woes to paper (or HTML code in this case) as a sort of therapeutic release. I see the doctor tomorrow at 9 am. Hopefully I end up with some sort of resolution. At the very least, a hope of some sort of plan of action.

Apr 15, 2008

Irrational Fear, Karma and the Rat.

Irrational fear is simply, well, irrational. I can't think of any other way to explain it.

Here is a good example. Flying. I know that air line flights stick to a certain schedule. To make sure that they keep to this schedule, the plane will slow down and speed up, usually dictated by the prevailing conditions. Tail winds mean they have to slow down. Head winds mean they have to speed up. And, not surprisingly, you can feel the plane do this when you are sitting in the passenger cabin.

Now I know all this. I know it. But it doesn't stop me from being scared to death every time the speed of the plane slows, causing me to grab the arm rests of my seat and preparing for the worst.

Fear itself is not always so bad, but knowing succinctly that it is completely irrational bothers me.

Now, lets move on to the rat issue. As of yet, my attempt to follow the shiny path of Karma has been fruitless. I had high hopes that putting out a non-lethal trap, with the intent to simply relocate him, would somehow magically entice the creature to make his way out of his hole and happily land in my trap. Sadly, this has not been the case. The end result is that I am eventually going to have to take portions of the deck apart in order to be successful.

This might be an example of what I might find under the deck.

This particular rat is a tame one (I believe). You can tell by the fact that it is sitting calmly while a someone sticks a camera in its face. I would imagine that this is a very friendly rat. I'm actually a fan of a rat for a pet. I think they are better than hamsters, as hamsters have a propensity to bite people (so who knows who really came up with the idea of hamsters as good pets).

If this were the rat I were going to find under my deck I think I would not be so hesitant to dismantle my deck.

The following is what I believe I will find under my deck (those with irrational fears should proceed with caution, as the next image may be disturbing and utterly terrifying):

Let us all hope that whatever is under my deck does not resemble this pair of over sized vermin. If it does, I will be calling the National Guard. So this week, I plan to rip up a few boards and plant my traps. Will I be successful? Will I fail miserably? Only time will tell. But the hunt continues and I'll keep you posted.

Apr 13, 2008

A Day at the Lagoon

There is an old saying that says the worst day fishing is better than the best day working. I myself have had some seriously bad fishing days. And yes, they are always better than working.

Case in point, Today. We spent the day at Freshwater Lagoon. I was invited to go with a friend, Cody, and his friend Aaron. We started at 6 am. We hopped in the truck and headed for the lagoon. From home its about a 45 minute drive, and on the way up Cody told me all about his fishing expertise and his proficiency at Bass fishing in Freshwater Lagoon. We bantered back and forth about who is really the better fisherman, and finally arrived at the lagoon. It was overcast, a little chilly, and a little breezy. But otherwise it looked something like this:

A really nice area here. If the bass fishing isn't for you, the Pacific Ocean is right next door and the Perch fishing is excellent. But our goal here was Large Mouth Bass. And we had an agenda that was to be followed.

So we started getting the boat ready, removing straps, getting rods ready,making sure the bait and snacks were stored in a handy place.

Then the real fun began. No, not because we got in the water and commenced our fishing day, but because Cody left the boat keys at home. This could have been a serious problem. Fortunately, Aaron (for reasons unknown to me) thought he could hot wire the boat.

The next 45 minutes, or so, were spent like this. Cody hanging over the side of the boat unleashing a string of obscenities a sailor would be envious of and Aaron doing his best to make our situation better.
Some how, despite this minor setback, Cody managed a smile. So we sat there a little while longer, and not long after that Aaron managed to get the bot running and we were ready to set off on our Fishing Expedition.

(Note to self: Don't let Aaron near my car unattended.)

So we motored off. The boat launch is at the North end of the lagoon, and we headed to the south end. Once there, we baited up and got our lines in the water. There were lilly pads everywhere, and just about anyone who has fished for any kind of fish, Bass tend to like to stick the shadows under the pads and in the reeds. Again, Cody started sharing his vast knowledge of Bass fishing, and while he was running his mouth, I landed a fish.
Not having bass fished, ever, I wasn't sure about the quality of my catch. But he weighed in at 3 pounds 3 ounces. Not to shabby. Once this was done, Cody quit running his mouth and focused a little more on fishing. And not long after that, Cody landed his first of the day.

I would like to point out that my fish is bigger than his.

This may seem like gloating, and really it is. Fishing, if it is anything, is a Bragger's sport. And those who catch more and larger fish have every right to point that out to his fellow fishermen.

Sadly, I have to point out that I really don't have any pictures of Aaron. This is because he did not catch anything at all. This is a sad tale for him, but a fact of life sometimes (truthfully, though, I'm glad it wasn't me).

Well, well, well. Here is another picture of a fine fisherman with, well, a minnow really. But its still a fish landed, and that's what counts a lot of times. Especially on a day like today, when the bite wasn't red hot and the fishing was actual work at times. So I am proud of the ones I have to show.

As we were fishing this side of the lagoon, Cody started talking about this dock and how he has caught many fish around it. So trying to use his expert skills at casting, he flipped his bait off towards the dock, intending to shoot it under the dock. Sadly, this didn't work out so well for him.

I went out of my way to make sure that this picture was taken, and have even made a slight addition to the photo, to point out the Master Caster's skills. Not only did he not make his intended target of under the dock, but he managed to get his hook lodged firmly on the dock itself. Well done my friend, well done.

Here is yet another fine specimen, landed by Your's Truly. Sadly though, not long after this, the bite which was not exactly hot went dead cold. Cody landed one more, and that was that. Motored around a bit more, but nothing really came of it. In a last ditch effort to make something more of our day, we trolled for trout. This too resulted in nothing more than more time spent in the rising wind.
So we called it a day. And a good day it was. Fishing in the company to two fine people and making the best of a day off from work.
It pains me to say that tomorrow I have to return to work, the regular mess that goes along with that. But hopefully, an opportunity like this will come again. And when it does, I hope to take advantage of it.

Apr 9, 2008

A long day at the Best Buy

Sometimes we need the things we want. Sometimes we want the things we need. Sometimes, though, we don't need the things we want but we don't really care.

This is the case with my new vehicle accessories.

I wanted a GPS navigation system. There really isn't much need for me to have one really. Generally speaking I am pretty good with directions and can get most places with little hastle. But this is something I have always wanted. So with the purchase of a new vehicle I spent a little extra money and got an in-dash touch screen navigation system. The Pioneer AVIC-D3. An entry level system with quite a few nice features.

After a little research I found this would suit my needs just fine. and it does all the things I want it to. It is satellite ready (because I love my XM radio). It plays CDs and DVDs (although it won't play a DVD while the car is in motion, as that would be against CA law). It is blue tooth ready, and will operate my phone (because starting July 1st you have to be hands free in the car). And of course, it does GPS navigation.

Did I truly need this? I don't think I really do. Do I truly want this? Oh yes. So I splurged a little and made the purchase I have been wanting for so long.

This is where the second part of my vehicle purchasing story comes back into play. Having dealt with Crown Motors and actually did most of the leg work for the new truck by phone the day before, our time at the dealership was actually pretty minimal. And they were very accommodating and the whole experience was pretty good.

We arranged for the aftermarket Nav system to be put in at Best Buy before we drove home that night. this is where things went awry. The Best Buy (from now on referred to as BB) installation department is a first come, first serve. When we drove by during the test drive of the truck there was no one there. When we got there afterwards, we were 4th in line. We got there at about 2:30. At about 7:30 they finally started working on the truck. This gave us plenty of time to spend a little extra money while at BB, which really is not that difficult to do. Aside from being frustrated at having to wait so long, we were happy that this effort was being done and we wouldn't have to make any return trips to Redding. This is where things go poorly.

Apparently Dodge switched the connector in the rear of the stock radio and the guys at the BB could not find the part they needed. So, they put the stock radio in and at about 8 pm we headed home with almost 6 hours of pretty much wasted time. The Nav system is still in the box, sitting in my house.

Here is the good news. The local shop here in town knows exactly what the issue and they have the appropriate part I need. So now its only a matter of time. I'll make sure its posted. Until then, I run the risk of getting lost.

Apr 6, 2008

A plan comes together.

Sunday morning is a perfect time to sit and listen to music, drink a cup of coffee and fill the world in on our latest misadventures.

My Toyota has been like a good friend to me. And why not? Toyota has an excellent reputation, and my little pick-up was really a pretty decent rig. Then it started having trouble. And the trouble was getting more and more expensive by the day. The end result?

I was told it was time to get a new truck.
My father and I are a lot alike in many ways. One area where I hope to get more like him is in the area of car buying. The man is a champion. Now looking at him, you might not know it, but to him buying a car is as serious a sport as the Super Bowl is to others. Yes, this innocent looking father of two and grandfather of many is really pretty shrewd. Don't let the casual smile and homey atmosphere fool you. When he steps onto a car lot he puts on his game face. I won't get into details (I could tell stories and stories about car salesmen who were left shaking in the loafers), but I will say this: When Dad walks into a car dealership and says "I want this car and the X-Files starts at 8," he intends to be home for the start of his show and he would happily walk out of sale if meant missing the show.

Now, I don't even pretend to possess this car buying proess, but its something I think I am getting better at. The one thing I am good at is doing a little homework and finding the product I am looking for. I had a very set list of preferences for this purchase.

I wanted an extended ca, at the least. I wanted a 4x4, as this comes in very hand here on the north coast. I wanted a navigation system (more on this fiasco later). It came down to the Toyota Tacoma and the Dodge Dakota. So a test drive was in order. Both ride well, both have the features I want. Now it was time to sell it to the wife and get her input. Part of this involved reading reviews.

Reviews can be tricky. I've come to the conclusion that reviews can be very biased, when the actual intent is to provide an unbiased view of a product. Case in point, my cell phone. Its over all rating is reduced because the video playback on it can be somewhat pixelated and hard to hear. This feature, though, is about as important to me and the ingredient list of a twinkie. So it takes some work to pick out whats important and what isn't. So I did my homework, found the things I like and don't like, pitched my sale to the wife, and off we went to Redding to purchase a new vehicle.

Sometimes, a plan just comes together. Sadly, this picture was taken in the best buy parking lot. This is a whole separate story with a not so happy ending that I will tell later. But for now, I have a few chores to do before it gets too late in the day.
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