News from the Hill — with all the usual Smith Manor-isms

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November 01, 2019

Happy November Fools Day!

Bright and early this morning, we got out of bed, felt the furnace warming the house with its gas-fired function for a change, rather than the geo-thermal insensible "warming" that we normally experience. I had a few sips of water before it was time for me to drive out to Carolina Internal Medicine for my annual Wellness Visit. My height and weight were measured, and we found that I was, now, only 5' 8.5" tall, as opposed to last year's height of 5' 9", as compared to two years before that when I used to be 5' 10". The rest of my vitals were checked and compared with history with the same disappointing (for me) results. Then the doctor came in and dilligently reviewed my health as recorded previously, asking me questions obout various conditions and complaints, many of which I didn't recall until he jogged my memory. In the end, he recommended that I start taking Metformin, which I am considering, but to which I didn't immediately agree. He gave me a report which considers that Metformin might "become the First Anti-Aging Drug". I've always known that I would live until I die, but an anti-aging drug might have me living beyond that which, in light of last night's Halloween, gives me the willies.

I got home from my visit with the doctor just in time for Becky to drive to the same building, to see the same doctor for the same purpose. She came home with a recommendation that she see the orthopedic surgeon to have her right knee evaluated. She had fallen on that knee a month-and-a-half ago, and it has been painful (off and on) since then. I've forgotten what else the doctor had told her, but I'm sure she will tell me again, so I won't worry that I've forgotten.

November 02, 2019

Becky and I were up at 6:30 this morning so she could get to the church to man the till at the church's Rummage Sale. There was some pretty thick fog in the area, and with the temperatures just below freezing, there was a light frost on the car's windows. We both went out to the car, and while she got in to start the engine warming up, I stayed outside to scrape frost. I was using a plastic spatula, which proved to have been somewhat deformed by scraping up food from metal trays. I further deformed it by chipping it in the cold when it scraped into other metal objects like wiper hubs and windshield washer nozzles. I did, eventually, get the frost off all the glass, and then Becky drove off into the mist as I walked back into the warm house.

I sat at the computer for two hours, listening to podcasts I had ignored during the week, working jigsaw puzzles and card games - my normal wake-up routine. Then I made a run to the grocery store to get a bag of Reese's PB Cups, some hot dog buns and Klondike Bars. The afternoon was filled with more computer madness, as I tried to find out how to make my MX-Linux set the correct resolution on the screen by itself, instead of me having to persuade it with a script. So far, no luck.

When Becky got back from church, she brought with her a bag full of groceries and two Starbucks Coffees, and told me all about the sale and her involvement with it. It sounded like a good amount of goods were sold.

I downloaded the fix forms the Insurance company sent me so I can fill them out and retain my "totaled" car. I have to fill out a form in the presence of a Notary and attach a copy of the vehicle title, then there's something to do with the DMV to have the car officially declared a salvage vehicle. Yeah, it's officially a junker, now, but it's still MY junker.

November 03, 2019

Goodbye Daylight Savings. Hello Daylight Wasting.

I set all the clocks back last night with the exception of our Satellite clock, which I thought would set itself back at the appropriate time. It did not, so this morning when I got up, I took it off Daylight Savings, and the time still didn't change, so I manually set the time back one hour. So much for Satellite technology, eh?

Becky was feeling sneezy this morning, so she stayed at home so as not to contaminate anyone else with her affliction. That meant I had to explain, over and over as people came in and found her missing. And, of course, everyone had to wish her well, and felt it was necessary to tell me to tell Becky they wished her well. Once again, then, I found myself responding to them each in like wise. Still, I guess it just goes to show that each of them care about her.

Last Wednesday, the second of the two scheduled anthems didn't get sung at Evensong, so this morning we sang that one and, while they were both scheduled to be sung, we didn't sing the first one. So there! The one we sang was sung really well, though, so nobody complained other than me, because I wanted to sing the other one again.

One of the hymns we sang this morning was I Sing a Song of the Saints of God. As many times as I've sung it in the past, I hadn't noticed that in the last line, it ends with, "...the saints of God are just folks like me, and I mean to be one, too." So, I gather that I mean to be a folk like me. I'm doing it deliberately! Wow! Who knew?

November 04, 2019

I got the paperwork ready to send off to the insurance company so that I may retain ownership of my totaled (but perfectly capable and useful) car - BARNUM.

I had told my Primary Care Physician, earlier this year, that I had a laser treatment on the distal joint of my right pinkie finger, and after that treatment the pain had gone (it was a temporary relief). At his suggestion last week, I bought a small laser pointer. I found it at CVS drugstore in the Pet Needs aisle, listed as a cat toy. He said I should use that on my swollen arthritic joint and see if it helps. It seems silly to use a "toy" laser on my finger, but then we know those laser pointers are powerful enough to damage eyes at a distance, so perhaps it will help the joint close up. I've used it, and yes, if I don't move it around fast enough, it gets hot. I haven't noticed the same pain relief, but then I'm not as skilled at applying it, yet, as the technician at Dr. Reilly's office.

November 05, 2019

Becky stayed home and "enjoyed" some Thera-Flu and rested while I went to the gym for treadmill and Tai Chi. I had a good time at the gym, and afterward I drove to Publix to get some needed supplies. Later in the afternoon, I bought some lottery tickets and then I, too, rested.

This evening, I started trying to find a book on Becky's old Kindle Touch, and in only three hours, I found it!

November 06, 2019

Laundry Day, and this after a very late night last night (see the last paragraph above), so I tried to snooze between loads. That didn't exactly work, so at 11 o'clock, we left the whites in the dryer, and we went to lunch. After lunch, we had 20 minutes to get to Becky's appointment with the Allergy Partners. She scored about 98 on a scale of one to 25. Seriously, though, she has a photo of her back. It shows row upon row upon red and column upon column of angry, itchy spots. She will start, in two weeks, taking allergy shots, one in each arm, twice a week for a while, then once a week for a year or so. Hopefully that will, I don't know, realign her allergies so instead of them causing her to sneeze and cough, maybe they will allow her to sleep peacefully and awaken more fully rested in the mornings.

In fact, I'd like the same thing for myself, but when I took the allergy test, I guess I hadn't studied enough. I flunked it. The only itchy spot I got was from the control scratch - the one EVERYONE reacts to. So I got no shots, and I wake up with lungs full of fluid. Fortunately, I can cough it out pretty easily, so it's just an inconvenience, but one I could easily live without.

Anyway, when we got done at the Partner's place, we had about 30 minutes to get to church so I could set up the handbells and get ready to practice. So we drove to the grocery store to buy some snacks (an after-practice social hour). We got Vanila Bean Hummus, Pumpin Spice Hummus and gluten-free crackers. If Suzanne gets her hands on either of those flavers, she won't let go, I'm sure. They are both her favorite flavers, and they are both delicious, at least in my world.

November 07, 2019

Today I was expecting an HVAC checkup, but at 9 AM I received a call asking if they could reschedule for another day. It will now happen on the 21st, instead.

Not needing to stay at home today, then, I drove to the DMV, then to the license and tags office, to change the title of my car to read SALVAGED, as required by the Insurance company due to it being totaled-but-retained. Then I applied online for renewed registration for both cars. The new stickers will arrive in about 10 days. Then, in the afternoon, I sent the paperwork and the copy of my old title to the insurance company, as directed, and now I have to arrange for a direct deposit of my "windfall" insurance payout, which wouldn't even pay for a used scooter.

November 08, 2019

This morning, Becky had a visit with her Orthopedic Surgeon concerning the pain in her knee. He found she had a sore tendon and an inflamed bursa. He gave her an injection in the bursa and she has another appointment for the same, if needed, in January.

After we got done with the surgeon, we went to lunch with Jim and Carol at TGI Friday's. It wasn't our usual 2-hour gab-fest, but lasted only 90 minutes. They had to pick up the grandchildren from school. Just another perk of being a grandparent who lives in the same area as the wee ones.

The rest of the afternoon was just that - rest.

November 09, 2019

I had another computer failure, this morning. First of all, I ordered a replacement battery for my new-used laptop. The next time I sat down to use it, I switched it on and booted it up, but as I was in the process of looking something up, it shut down completely. The battery had died because I had failed to switch on the surge protector first. So I switched it on and tried to reboot the computer. It wouldn't boot up. Upon close examination, the power light was not illuminated, so I tchecked that I had, indeed, turned on the surge protector. I had. Then I checked that the plug was fully in the socket. It was. Then I checked the connection between the power cord and the transformer, then the one from the transformer output to the computer, and everything was as it should be.

I contacted the company from which I had bought the computer, asking them to replace the power cord, saying that I would hate to have to tell my friends that I had just paid over $100 to use a computer for a month. So far, I have not heard back from them. In the mean time, I'm using the Toshiba Netbook, the one I had bought the laptop to replace because of its unreliability.

November 10, 2019

This morning, after singing the anthem wonderfully well, I was told by our Director of Music, Jim, that our mutual friend, Mark Schweizer, had died. He had been diagnosed with brain cancer about three months ago after his wife had looked into his face and noticed that he looked different from normal. Jim and I had just been discussing Mark and his company, the St. James Music Press, after choir practice last Wednesday evening. I was, of course, surprised by the news, sad that Mark is no longer living amongst us, but at the same time, glad that he had not suffered from the cancer, except by having been told about it when it was diagnosed.

I had a stroke of genius today. I compared the specs of the transformers of both the ASUS (i.e. failed) computer and the Toshiba (i.e. unreliable) computer and found they are identical, electrically. I plugged the Toshiba power into the ASUS and guess what ... It worked! Now, if I get a power cord from the company, I'll use it, and if not, I'm sure I can find a suitable replacement in a local store or on line at a reasonable price.

November 11, 2019

Happy Veterans Day!

Nearly every restaurant in town is offering a free meal to veterans, which of course means every restaurant in town is packed to the gills with customers, primarily veterans and their families. Becky and I claimed our lunch at TGI Friday's, and while my entree was free, my coffee, Becky's meal, her coffee and our dessert were not. And naturally, I tipped on the undiscounted total on the bill. Still, we got by with paying half what we would ordinarily have paid. It was a win-win-win.

After using the Asus computer on the Toshiba power adapter last night and this morning, I saw that the battery, which hadn't been charging above 25% before the old adapter crapped out, was charged to 75%, and tonight, after shutting it down at 9 PM, it read 79% charged. Is that an indication of a battery not holding a charge? I don't think so. It is a sign of a failing power adapter that was barely able to keep the computer alive, but with no additional resources with which to charge the battery.

November 12, 2019

Well, I've done it again. after a few days with a proper AC Adapter for my new (used) laptop, the battery was charged to only 75%. I had ordered a new battery, anyway, because I was told the battery was weak. Indeed, it had charged to only 25% with the old Adapter. Well, the battery arrived today, and when we got home from our afternoon appointment, I brought the box inside, opened it, unpacked the new battery and prayed that I would be able to replace the battery in the laptop.

I flipped the computer onto its lid, removed all the screws (4 out of 5 of them came out easily, and the others required a bit of persuasion, even penetrating oil on one of them), coaxed the case open with some plastic pry-tools made for that purpose, disconnected and removed the keyboard, then eased the old battery from its nest and eased the new battery into its proper place.

The hard part came when I had to reconnect the keyboard. Fortunately, I discovered the secret before I broke something in a fit of rage, and having returned the keyboard to its proper position, also, I pressed the case shut and replaced all the screws, all nine of them, one of which was quite long, two were somewhat shorter, another one was shorter yet, and the other four were quite short. By trial and error, I got them all placed correctly and tightened them down.

The computer booted up right away, and now, after half an hour, the battery is charged to 91%, and it indicates it will take another 9 minutes to be fully charged.

WOW - I did it!!!

November 13, 2019

Friday the Thirteenth came on a Wednesday this month!

I didn't have any equipment repairs to do today, nor did either of us have any appointments to talk about, so I'll just brag about my oversight.

I switched on my laptop to place an order online, and when I went to switch it off 15 minutes later, I realized I had not turned on the surge protector. The computer did not shut down as it would have with the old battery and pre-failure AC Adapter. When I switched the surge protector on, the battery showed 15 minutes of charging would top it off again. It did.

At handbell and choir practice, we were given some new music to learn. We had one person missing for this session, but with four of our ringers taking extra bells, we made it through in fairly good style. I get the suspicion that our bell choir is lots better than I had thought.

As for the choir, we read through the new music like we were born to it. I was almost sorry to have come to the end of the practice, but given that my voice was already tired, I agreed to make an end of it for the night.

November 24, 2019

This afternoon, I had my third visit with the Retina Center's eye surgeon. It was a much briefer visit, this time, but no less painful. He had to examine the entire retina for signs of deterioration, and while he didn't find any difficulty, his lamp, shining right light directly at the back of the retina was not only blinding, but painful. Then he told me what his findings were, what I had to do to prevent deterioration and other bits of advice. All the while he was talking, I was nodding and listening, but I was almost completely blind. When we left the building, I was wearing their black film behind my glasses and Becky's over-glass sun blockers, and though i was feeling "adequately darkened," she had to drive. The sky was overcast, but still too bright for me to look outside the car, at first.

Shortly after we got home, I had an email from BestBuy that said my order was in and ready to be picked up. I felt well sighted enough to drive to their store and retrieve the order - the AC Adapter for my Asus laptop computer. When I returned home, I opened the box, got the adapter out of it and found that it is the wrong connector for my computer. Either I ordered the wrong item, or they shipped the wrong one, but in either case, I cannot possibly use it, so I will take it back to the store tomorrow on the way to my afternoon appointment.


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