Oil Change, New Cars, & Travel Trailers

This morning I spent two hours at the local Chevy dealer, Emmert getting the oil changed in Diane’s truck, and having them install parts to satisfy two recall notices that’s I’ve apparently been ignoring. That gave me two hours to visit with my friends who sell cars there. They really like me because I make stupid decisions when buying vehicles. I think there’s probably a photo of me in their break room with a note about what an easy mark I am.

The last few visits, however, I’ve disappointed them. I just talk for a while, sit in the show room vehicles (Corvette, Camaro, and Cascada today), then go out and wander around the lot just looking at ‘stuff’. I learned a long time ago that I need to visit them first before wandering the lot because the salesmen are always watching for a chance to bend a looker’s ear. They now know that when something is interesting enough to me I’ll let them know. They’re a great group of folks and I love the service department. I took a photo of Diane’s new car and sent it to her but she hasn’t answered back, yet.

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I looked at trucks, mostly, just for fun. The one that appealed the most cost $67K. That’s three times what we paid for our house! In Florida! Holy moly. They also had one of your typical Chevy Suburbans, that the government likes to use, on the lot for only $74K.

Yesterday I mentioned that I got new tires installed on Diane’s truck. When they gave it back the tire pressure on all four was close to 40 lbs. When I got the truck back after the oil change, and their multi-point inspection, the tire pressure was reset to 32 on three of them. I suspect they were supposed to drop the other tire, too, but got sidetracked. Anyway, they let out some expensive air from those tires and I’m going to have to get them refilled. I am, of course, relying on the digital monitor conveniently provided by Chevy that shows tire pressure on it’s DIC. That’s the Digital Information Center, in case you’re wondering. It’s a little TV screen that sits right between the speedo and tach. It’s really handy to have a little DIC like that. Diane relies on it all the time.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to get in trouble for that. It sounded better in my head.

While Diane went shopping she left instructions for me to find the book for our trailer and find out what needs to be done to winterize it. I went looking for the book, but couldn’t find it so, instead, I brought in a bunch of food that I figured didn’t need to stay out there all winter. I did find all the drain valves to dump the fresh water from tanks and lines so those are now clear. When Diane got home she led me to the trailer and we both looked for the books. I finally found them in the first place I looked. It was just in a folder not quite as large as I had in my head. Therefore, it was invisible to me.

Now I know that I also need to remove the batteries because batteries left in freezing weather won’t hold a charge very well. That one was new to me. I’ve never removed the batteries and never had a problem. So, being pessimistic, I suspect that when I reinstall the batteries in the spring, they won’t work. Guess I’ll see.

News around here is that it’s going to be snowing at our level next week. Yippee. Once we get a good cover on the roads it’s fun to find a spot near the highway so we can watch the wrecks. It’s a holiday favorite activity. It’s free and we take our own popcorn. I’ll take pictures.

 

Doctors & Pills

Yesterday I went to the doctor twice. Once in the morning for a routine maintenance visit to my Primary Care, then another one in the late afternoon to visit a hand surgeon to arrange an operation on my left thumb which is becoming less opposable as time progresses.

My visit to my PC resulted in a phone call today telling me the results of my blood work revealed that my LDL is elevated, possibly as a result of the fact that I quit taking them weeks ago because they are round pills and I only had to take half of one a day but I couldn’t break them in half. So, I just quit. I even told the doc that. Kinda. Anyway, she solved that problem by telling me to take the full pill once a day.

The blood also indicated that my BS levels are also elevated which is indicated by my 7.4 A1C. Now I have to take double the amount of Metformin that I’ve been taking for some time now.

Dang! I’ve been working real hard to eliminate pills from my life but it’s not working out very well. The daily pills is turning into a stunning, colorful array of different size pills. Such is my life. That’s OK. I’m still navigating OK.

Well, navigating OK most of the time. When my PC asked me if I’ve fallen since our last visit I truthfully answered “no”, but told her I had some close calls. Like the time in the garage a few days ago where I was stumbling around in the items scattered around on the floor, lost my balance, and fell against the garage door. Technically, that’s not falling down … it’s more like falling against, so it doesn’t count. Still, knowing that I have a small vertigo problem she suggested that I use a cane all the time when I’m walking. She followed that with a promise the order me a walker if I still had problems with the cane. “Excellent!, I thought, and actually said, “With a walker I’ll be able to board planes first!” Although she smiled, I don’t believe she saw the humor in it that I saw. She probably didn’t know I was serious.

My afternoon visit was prefaced by a side trip to St. Vincent Hospital where Jean, Diane’s Mom, visited her surgeon to schedule her carpal tunnel procedure. While she and Diane were with her doctor I walked about a mile to the other end of the hospital to the cafe for sustenance. Jerrie was hungry, so he had a chicken burrito. It was pretty dry, but not too bad.

When they were done we met at the truck for our trek downtown to Good Sam for my visit with Dr. Kim, my hand surgeon. My appointment was at 4:00 pm and we arrived about 3:30 pm so I just went in to wait while Diane and Mom sat in the truck. Dr. Kim explained the procedure and told me once it was done and I was rehabilitated I would be pain-free. That’s my goal. Pain free. What he’s going to do is remove a small bone as the base of my thumb, where it connects to my hand. Apparently this little bone, the Trapezium, is like the Appendix of bones. It’s grinding bone on bone in my case and removing it won’t be noticed after the vacancy is filled with scar tissue. What a deal.

I have to wait until January for all the nurses and other support folks to return to work from their Christmas break because apparently, as a cost saving effort, the hospital will be closed from December 14th to January 6th, except for emergencies, of course. During emergencies that result in admission to the hospital, since the kitchen will be closed, they’ve hired a bunch of homeless vets to make runs to the nearby MacDonald’s for meals. If the patient is fortunate, their assigned homeless vet will have medical experience from tours in Viet Nam or perhaps Afghanistan.

My surgery is outpatient so I’m not sure why I have to wait until January, unless my doc wants some time off, too. That could be it.

Today, just for fun, I took Diane’s truck to Les Schwab’s and had new tires installed. The old ones weren’t too bad, just a little dirty, but I know how Diane likes a clean truck. So, new shiny tires fixed that.

Although it’s only 1:30 in the afternoon, my day is apparently done as far as addressing bodily functions. So, I think I’ll go fire up my table saw and find some wood that needs to be cut in half.

Later.

Black Friday, a Vet Visit, and Christmas Decorations

Thanksgiving is over, we survived Black Friday, so now we can focus on Christmas.

Speaking of Black Friday … did you see the news about the Nike store in Seattle that was trashed by a herd of BF shoppers? Kinda reaffirms your belief that there’s still good in the world, doesn’t it? Well, maybe not on the day after Thanksgiving. Personally, I’m not a shopper in the first place, but if I was Black Friday would be the last day I’d choose to shop. People just go nuts to get things they probably don’t need. I’m one of those people who just take my chances and shop online. So far, so good. No problems.

This morning I took Ziva and Breezie to visit Doc Snyder at the vet. Breezie hasn’t been in a long time and wound up needing 3 shots. She was not happy, but she did good. No one came away bloody from that evolution. Ziva got one shot and had a pedicure. She also has a lump on her right arm which may or may not be of concern. We need to watch it to see if it grows. I have the same kind of lumps in my arms so I’m not worried.

This is Doc Snyder and her assistant counseling Ziva about the shot she got and the tests they are conducting.

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Diane spent some more time at the courthouse this morning working on some vote recounts that needed attention. She had to be there at 10:00 am and I had to have the animals at the vet by 10:30 so I dropped off Diane and came back for Ziva and Breezie. Breezie managed to get outside before I left with Diane so there was a distinct possibility that she wouldn’t be available for the trip. I made a decision that if she didn’t show up by the time I returned to get them I would charge her a late fee for missing her appointment. The standard charge now days seems to be $35 but I really wanted her to feel the need to be on time so upped it to $45. Lucky her, she was in the house when I got home so avoided that problem. I suspect I would have had to file a small claims suit against her which she still wouldn’t pay, but it would screw up her credit.

Hope everyone has happy plans for Christmas. We’ve begun the process of getting out tree in and some of our traditional ornaments installed. The first thing up was this guy …

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He didn’t come with a name but we got him from Costco so I’m calling him Costco Man for now. Yes, he’s a snowman, but that’s not a name. It’s a gender assignment attached to winter weather.

We did this, too …

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Ziva’s just checking to see who’s been in the yard.

Then we got busy getting the tree ready for the house. This involved removing a very large plant from a very large pot so we could transfer the tree from its pot to the nicer pot that’s more suitable for indoor use. We’ve had the tree for about a week and it’s been sitting in the yard soaking up as much rain as it could. Consequently, it weighed a ton which was almost too much for me to lift from one pot to the other. But, I did it. Then we took it inside using a hand truck. Getting it off the hand truck proved to be problematic and resulted in me making a huge mess when it tipped over. Dirt everywhere. But, it cleaned up nicely and resulted in this once Diane got all the lights and ornaments attached. After the New Year the tree will be replanted in the lower yard where it can just grow as long as it wants to.

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After it was all done we had a snack and Diane loaded the dishwasher. Whenever the dishwasher is opened, Ziva shows up so she can prewash the plates, something that she was trained for as a small dog. Personally, I think all dogs inherently know that plates need to be prewashed so it’s not a large training curve. It’s kind of instinctive, actually. They just know what to do. Additionally, when the dishes are clean, and the door is open, she checks all the plates to make sure they’re clean. She’s very helpful.

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Now it’s time to fold things up for the afternoon and make preparations for popcorn and probably a movie of some sort. It’s that time of year.

Stay safe.

Happy Thanksgiving !

Even though cramps, actually just ‘a’ cramp, forced me to my feet at 0345 this morning, it’s still a good day. Yessir, it is. It’s pouring down rain, nothing’s leaking, the furnace works, we still have power, Diane’s Aunt Carolyn is cooking dinner today and we’re invited, and the animals seem to be content. At least they aren’t arguing over food bowls but that can change in an instant even though we’ve had serious discussions about how inappropriate it is. They don’t get it. Both of them want to be in charge. Ozzie stays away from the arguments and the cat really doesn’t care.

Yesterday I worked in the flower & herb garden that Jewel and I constructed over the septic tank a few months ago. Pretty much everything is growing well, including lots of grass, so I took all the newspapers Diane had read and spread them around the plants and over the grass. Then I added more mulch so it covered all the paper. In all, it probably only took me a couple of hours, but that didn’t seem long enough so I continued by adding a bunch of tile that I purchased from the Restore Store here in town. Cheap tile. I just flung it all over the place. Basically, the objective was to surround each of the little, and big, plants that appeared alive to ensure no one would kill them with a hoe or shovel. The starburst thing in the middle is the septic pump port (SPP). Since I wasn’t too concerned with symmetry, it went quickly and I had even more time on my hands so I fiddled around with the rocks see if I could get them to balance on each other. Just getting rid of a little whimsy.

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I also fixed the bathroom fan which was obviously not working correctly. Turns out the problem is common with fans using plastic fans – the hole, which is originally notched to fit a flat spot on the whirly thing, eventually wears out, making the hole round, allowing the motor shaft to spin relatively freely in the hole. Oh, the fan portion turns, but not as fast as the motor. It’s amazing how loud and annoying it is. So, I bought a replacement fan from Amazon. It’s metal and is held in place with an allen screw. No way is it ever going to fail. Ever.

A couple of days ago I repaired a lamp that Jewel tried to destroy. Actually, the little twisty thing that turned the light on and off twisted off in her right hand which is gaining strength every day, in case you’re wondering. Apparently it’s stong enough to wreck a lamp. I must clarify here that the lamp is an old one that Diane found either at a yard sale about 15 years ago, or at one of the many 2nd hand stores she likes. It was ready to break so it certainly wasn’t intentionally on Jewel’s part. I don’t think. Anyway, it turned out to be an easy fix. One that could have easily been accomplished without dismantling the switch mechanism, which I’d already done. I always go for the hard fix first. It’s always more fun.

Over the last couple of days I also fabricated a knife holder for Diane’s knife drawer. In the end it turned out to be a knife and wine stopper holder. Nifty. In case you’re wondering about the colors, it’s so I won’t get confused. Normally I’m only allowed to use the Orange one, but on certain days I can use one of the other knives for specific projects. Diane writes the color on our blackboard so I’ll know.

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Now it’s time for me to go scrape things from my body in preparation to venture forth into the wild to visit Uncle Bill and Aunt Carolyn for Thanksgiving dinner. In attendance, we’re told, will be Julie, Duncan, Terri, and Lisa. Counting us there will be nine. Since there’s only room for 8 people at the table I suspect I’ll be close by with a TV tray. That’s OK.

Cheers everyone. Enjoy the day.

Golf & Christmas Cheer (already)

We got our Christmas tree today. I know, I know. Thanksgiving isn’t until tomorrow and we already have our tree. Should be against the law, right? Well, maybe it is, somewhere, but we’re counting on authorities to treat this like a misdemeanor that doesn’t warrant their attention right now.

The tree followed us home from Means Nursery in Scappoose and currently resides in the front yard next to the water hose. Diane insisted that I put it there for a few days so she could hose it down and make sure any critters living on it have an opportunity to escape before she makes me haul it into the house. Doing the hauling isn’t going to be a minor task, either. The tree is growing in a large pot and must weigh close to a million pounds. Getting out of the truck bed was a challenge and I used our hand truck to get it into the yard. Diane also bought a smaller live tree to use for our church’s giving tree. It will also be planted in our yard next year.

Yea! More trees to mow around. That’s OK, though, because it will give my shoulder s good workout.

Once the trees were selected we went into the very warm hut containing Poinsettia. Lots, and lots of them. Since they were all so pretty, Diane bought two of them. Jewel had already been to Means earlier so knew where all the good stuff is. She got a table centerpiece for home.

Today has been a sloppy mess, almost as bad as Monday when JP and I went golfing. No Doug this time because he was out in the woods hoping to shoot something to put in his freezer. It was just me and JP the entire time we were on the course. Kinda like having our very own golf course. Even though it was pretty mucky in spots it made getting around in the golf cart challenging and fun. Didn’t get stuck, but not for lack of trying. What’s fun is when we get going down a hill at a slant then lock up the brakes. Now that’s fun.

The golf was fun, too, like normal. The photos don’t give you a true sense of how messy it was out there because the sun came out and made everything look pretty nice.

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This one is just to prove to everyone that JP can actually hit his ball with an iron. He dreads using an iron, but he did pretty good this day.

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Then there’s almost proof that I can drive a golf cart. That’s really me in the driver’s seat.

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Here’s Diane choosing her red poinsettia. Lots of choices.

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This is an Amaryllis that Jewel bought Diane about a week ago when it was just a baby. It grew up quickly and now looks like this.

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This is what Diane fed me for lunch today. It was really good. I ate four small dill pickles with it, and I mashed up an avocado to spread on the bun. That turned out to be a mistakes because it just created a mess that ran out making it necessary for us to lick our fingers. When I was done I put my hand on my plate and picked up all the potato chip crumbs that were left. You’ll just have to take my word on that because I couldn’t take a photo and Diane wouldn’t take one. She thinks stuff like that is gross. It is, I guess, but it’s fun, too.

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Now it’s getting pretty close to popcorn time so I better stop and get busy poppin. This has turned out to be out go-to evening snack and we all agree that, even though the bag says it’s movie theater popcorn, I always put butter on it anyway because it makes it way better.

A Night at Kitsap Naval Base

Last Thursday Diane and I chauffeured Cedric to his new home on Kitsap Naval Station Bremerton, Washington. Before leaving St. Helens, we stopped by Diane’s Mom’s, Jean’s, house so he could bid farewell to her.

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Since it’s somewhere between a 2.5 and 4 hour drive, depending on the chosen route, we booked a room at the Navy Inn & Suites in Bremerton, thinking that we would deposit Cedric there, where he was assured of a bunk. On the way, however, we double-checked the address of the temporary facility where Cedric would be staying until his ship comes in. Yes, he has to wait until his ship comes in because it’s at sea and won’t be back for a month. But, unlike many of us, Cedric actually knows that his ship is coming in. Really.

This is the Trigger Ave gate to gain access to Bangor. Diane just flashed the guard a smile and he let us in without any trouble at all.

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He just doesn’t know when, for sure. So, until it does, he will be spending his time in the TDU. I think that stands for Temporary Detention Unit, but I could be wrong.

The TDU is located on what used to be the Bangor Naval Base which is north of Silverdale, Washington which, in turn, is about 20 miles north of Bremerton. So, since Cedric was a day early for checking in (his choice, and a good one) we had time to check room options for Diane and Myself. Turns out the Navy Lodge that told me there were no rooms available when I initially attempted to book a room for this trip, saves rooms for walk-ins. So, since I’d just walked in, I qualified and got a room for the night. Then we took Cedric to his detention facility.

I went in with him to check in, his choice, so I got to visit with a bunch of active duty folks who live in, and work at the TDU. When Cedric had all the paperwork done I helped him hurk his luggage to his room.

The room, unlike his 2-bedroom condo during training at Fort Lee, VA, has 4 bunks in close quarters. I guess that’s to get these kids used to living in cramped quarters. All the sailors in his room are headed for the USS Nimitz with him. He said one of them has already been at the TDU for 5 weeks and still has 4-5 more to go. Guess he’s still smiling.

After checking in Cedric learned a little about his new-found freedom. No curfew, for one. All he has to do is make it to morning muster at 0715. Then they get assigned to work parties. Last news from Cedric was that he had been assigned but hadn’t yet learned what they do on those work parties. I’ll be curious to find out.

Taking advantage of this new freedom, we went in search of a decent place to have a nice sit down meal. We found a place, and in the process, learned that sailors desiring sustenance other than fast food, or galley food, must fork over a generous portion of their wages to make it happen at the facility we chose. I must admit that the service was great and the food was awesome, so it was OK in the end. We enjoyed it and we got to spend the evening with Cedric.

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Sorry I didn’t take a photo of the food but you’ve all seen the food I eat before. It’s kind of repetitive.

After eating we adjourned to our room at the Navy Lodge, which was conveniently located about mile from the TDU, and just hung out for a while, until Cedric thought it might be a good idea to go back to his room. I was allowed to drive him back in Diane’s truck, all by myself. It was touch and go, but I made it there and back without mishap. Made me proud.

After a wonderful night of slumber we arose, checked out of our room, and headed for a sit down breakfast that was mercifully cheaper, though just as good, than our dinner the previous evening. After dinner I gave an old shipmate, Ernie W., a call to see if he was up for guests. Ernie and Sue live in Bremerton. He and I were stationed on the USS Cleveland during the early 80’s and we worked together. Actually Ernie did all the work while I spent the majority of my time doing other stuff. Like playing Chief Master At Arms for the command. That’s a tale for another day.

It was good to see Ernie again after about 30 years of not seeing him. We had a nice visit and caught up on most of the things that happened after we parted company in 1986. We both had tales to tell, as all old sailors do. I won’t share our conversation because everything we talked about is a secret. He and Sue do have three dogs. I can share that. They also have three cats. I think.

Sue was at work so we didn’t get to visit with her this time. Perhaps there will be another opportunity in the future. You know Diane and I love to jump in her truck and just take off. Sometimes we even know where we’re going ahead of time. It’s more fun when we just decide on the way out of our driveway.

Me and Ernie …

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We bid Ernie adieu and headed south out of town. That road took us by the piers where some old carriers and other ships are tied up waiting for something. We’re not sure what. The only we could name from the street was the USS Kitty Hawk because its name was still visible on the fantail. You can’t see it here, but trust, me, that’s the Kitty Hawk. Diane said so.

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Actually, that’s two aircraft carriers berthed next to each other. The Kitty Hawk is the one whose superstructure is on the left. We have no idea what the other one is. They are pretty impressive ships even though they’ve seen their day.

Now it’s 2300 and way past my bedtime. I know that’s true because Diane told me. So, I must stop and prepare myself for slumber.

Nite.

The Electoral College

Funny how I forget, every presidential election, that my vote isn’t really cast directly for my candidate choice, but for some unknown person who is appointed by the political parties in my state. By agreement, this person who is appointed to the Electoral College will vote for the candidate who wins the state. Seems like that’s basically giving the vote to the candidate who actually gets the most votes. But, Electoral College appointees are not ‘bound’ to vote for the winning candidate. Nope. They can vote for whoever they want.

There are 538 of these people who determine the outcome of any presidential election. Maybe they are used for other election, too, but I’m not aware what elections those might be. So, I’ll just continue to pretend I know what I’m talking about and say that only presidential elections are involved.

The 538 Electoral College members mirror the number of Senators and Congressmen and dictate how many votes each state has. Oregon has 7, Rhode Island has 4. Respectively, those two states have populations of 3,831,074 and 1,052,567. Using a little bit of basic math that I learned in the third grade, using much smaller numbers, I see that each electoral vote in Oregon is determined by about 547,296 people, and in Rhode Island each electoral vote is determined by about 263,142 people.

Hmmm. So, one electoral vote in Rhode Island represents the desires of 263K people but in Oregon it represents almost twice as many people. The average for each electoral vote for the entire United State is about 547K which makes Rhode Island’s 4 votes appear to be a little out of balance. I checked a few other states and found that the numbers are generally higher, like 677K for each of California’s electoral votes.

Granted, that’s only 2 states out of 50-something, and probably isn’t truly representative of a fair comparison, but considering the stakes you would think there would be a little more equality given to each state by population. Either that, or divide the votes in a different manner. I suggest that each state have only one electoral vote, regardless of population, and it would take 26 to win.

Better yet, I suggest that each state have as many electoral votes as they do citizens and that it would take 1/2 +1 to win the vote.

Oh, wait! That would mean the candidate with the most popular vote would win.

I’m sorry I suggested that because from a purely political perspective and I’m sure that would be illegal, immoral, and unnatural. But, gee, that’s the way all the other elections, state-by-state, are determined aren’t they?

Very confusing and, I’m guessing, designed that way so simple folks like myself get dizzy trying to figure it out and just give up.

That’s what I’m going to do, now.

Give up.

At least for now.

In the future I might just decide to vote for whichever candidate I think has the fewest tan lines.