Sunday, March 29, 2020

Quiet Sunday In A Typical Town

And what do we do? MAKE BREAD!

Ready to pop in the oven...

And out of the oven and cooling...

This batch is rye bread. I took my basic "Can't Screw It Up" white bread recipe, and substituted 1-1/2 cups of dark rye flower for an equal amount of the King Arthur Bread Flour I use, and added a couple of things to give it the distinctive "rye bread" flavor. 1tsp of dill seed, 2 tsp caraway seed, and 1tbs of Gulden's mustard.

And this is my first loaf of rye with an acceptable texture...

This batch was almost a disaster because of mistakes I made, but I recovered it on-the-fly with acceptable results. I was busy with The Little Guy because Sweet Little Wife made an "emergency run" to the drugstore. I started the chain-of-errors by leaving 1/2 cup of flour OUT of the ingredients as I added the water and Happy Joyous Bubbly Yeast to the mixture. As I was watching the timer I use to help with my mixing, I noticed that the dough hadn't become dough yet at the 4-minute mark, so I started adding some flour to get it right. It took almost 1/2 cup to get it right, and by then it had mixed six minutes, what I consider to be the upper limit before damaging the dough. I turned it out on the "lightly floured" breadboard, and cleaned and butter the mixing bowl. Popped it back in the oven at ~105*F and let it raise for 90 minutes. Turned it out, divided it, put it in the butter pans, and back in the oven for the second raise, covered with damp cloth.

The cloth stuck to it as it raised, and when I took the cloth off, the loaves deflated. ARRRRRGH!

Following advice from SLW, I took them out of the pans, kneaded them again, and put them back in the pans, this time "tented" with buttered aluminum foil.

They raised just fine again, and SLW put them in the oven when I was playing "Jump The Little Truck" with TLG.

She forgot to "liberally brush the tops of the loaves with warm water", and popped them in the oven when it hit 400*F. This kind of killed the nice, browned, crunchy top I was getting, but it baked OK, and tastes very great, mistakes and all. I'm just glad I caught the mistakes I made, otherwise we'd have two loaves of very thick "Rye Hardtack", which probably wouldn't have been eaten.

Anyway, we had a fun day playing games and R/C truck, and wound up with some bread, too.

And played with little trucks.....

Sorry, can't figure out how to snag the video SLW posted on the Book of Farces...

Friday, March 27, 2020

USNS Mercy Arrives in Los Angeles

I'm not sure who took the photo, as it was posted without attribution on an FB page.

AFAIK, the Mercy will be berthed directly behind the Iowa in San Pedro at the now vacant cruise ship terminal. Much more info can be found using your Google-Foo.

May God Bless and watch over her crew during these interesting times.

The Physical Therapist is quite happy with the improvement I'm showing, and so am I. I still have some pain, but it's not nearly as bad as it was a month or so  ago when all this started. Easily managed with the Naproxen and a bit of Tramadol "as required".

Overcast, cold, rainy day and evening here, so I'll think I'll go crank up the fireplace, grab the wife, and we'll watch a movie down in the den.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Virtual Doctor's Visit

Almost a house call, if you will, although next time I do it I'll run a GigE cable between the router and the laptop to get rid of a lot of the lag.

Anyway....While I thought my lipids were "normal", he called them "A+", and commended me on keeping my weight down, eating a decent diet, and exercising.

My other blood work was also "outta the park good", so at least my basic blood chemistry machinery appears to be working properly.

I inquired about an EKG "for the record", and he informed me that they no longer do them yearly, but rather every three years now, same with a stress test.

We then talked about the lightheadedness and afternoon drop in BP, and reviewed my medications. Since my weight is staying down and I show no signs of edema, he's taking me off the furosemide ("Lasix") diuretic. He's a big supporter of "If You Don't NEED The Medication, Don't Take It", and I agree with that philosophy. That particular drug can cause low BP on it's own, so we'll knock it off the list for two weeks and see how I do. If I'm still having the same issues with my BP dropping too low, we'll cut the metoprolol ("Lopressor") in half and "reconvene" (there's that word again...) after another two weeks.

I'll admit, I should have been checking my BP regularly (and so should you!), and just didn't for no good reason. I'm also going to pick up one of the blood Oxygen sensors that clamps on your finger. It's another good data point to have, and those little things are only about $20. I think everybody should have one, and a good-quality Blood Pressure cuff, in their home "First Aid" kit.

Then I asked him if he thought I was sturdy enough to withstand hip replacement surgery later this year. He was pretty sure I was OK, but we'll do a stress test before he'll sign me off, as it's still major surgery and I WILL lose some blood (Type A Negative, donations accepted!), so he wants some more evaluation before he'll sign off on it.

And then we talked about the Corona Virus for a bit. He thinks it will peak here in the US in the next couple of weeks, hold for a week or so, and then start to drop. He told me it aerosolized, and spread by coughing and sneezing, and the virus can hang around for up to a week, so keep washing those hands, avoid crowds, and all the usual things you during flu season, but be more careful about doing them.

Be safe out there!

Monday, March 23, 2020

UH-Oh....Kung Flu is Here.....

Last I'd heard, we had two confirmed cases here in town. I haven't heard any stats for Larimer County, and last week I think there were 80something cases state-wide.

Today it got a bit closer.

I was scheduled to have my Cardiology appointment tomorrow, but the office called and said that "they" had gotten together and decided that "non-essential" office visits would be conducted on a "virtual" basis to limit exposure fot all involved.

SO...bust out my laptop, and fire it up so it's all updated and ready to go tomorrow.

I have a USB webcam, but I don't know if it's supported on this (Ubuntu/Debian based) platform, and I also don't have/can't find the little desk mic I used to use. Since my laptop has a built-in camera and microphone, it's a whole lot easier to get it up and running at this late hour vs scrambling around trying to jury-rig an older USB camera and some kind of microphone on this Linux rig.

Besides talking with my Cardiologist about whether I'm sturdy enough to do a hip replacement, I have a couple of other things I need to talk to him about, namely the blood pressure drops I seem to be having every afternoon. I noticed I was light-headed at times, and needed a nap around 1600. I got the BP cuff out of the closet, put some new batteries in it, and started monitoring my BP. Sure enough, around 1600 every day it would drop down to about 95/65 for an hour or so. It "normally" runs around 118/70, and my Primary Doctor had indicated last summer that she might cut the BP meds back a bit, so this needs to be addressed.

No word yet if the PT session will be cancelled. The exercises seem to be helping; it still hurts, but not as much.

Speaking of batteries, they seem to be in good supply in the stores here. I remember when batteries would go flying off the shelves at the first sign of an "emergency". Guess people are used to having extremely reliable power here. This might be a good time for all of us to check our battery stocks, and replace those that are stale. If you have the room in your refrigeration devices, cold-storage will extend their lives considerably.

Be safe out there!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Goodness, What's This??

Quite a light show going on, along with sharp cracks followed by low, long rumbles.

And so far about .14" rain, although I expect that to rise sharply, judging by the not-so-gentle pitter-patting of rain on the roof.

BOOM! There's another....

As the temps drops, liquid will turn solid, with 2"~4" of snow expected. Unfortunately it won't be the dry, fluffy stuff that the snow blower can handle, but the heavy, wet stuff that breaks tree branches, downs power lines, collapses roofs, and causes other mischief.

CRACK! Lotsa flashes....

Reminds me of April in Illinois, but then Spring in the Rockies can be "Highly Variable" as the weather guys say.

Had some errands to do today after my Physical Therapy session, which may be showing some improvement. I've never had PT do more than waste my time, but the targeted exercises seem to be helping the muscle get stronger and the pain diminish, so we'll keep chugging along until the system grinds out a result.

After the PT, I walked across the lot to my Doctor's office to have my blood drawn for a "Lipid Panel" and a "Basic Metabolism Panel". ALL the staff in the medical office were wearing masks, and hand sanitizer was in good supply.

Got the results back in a few hours, and holy smokes! My "Lipid Panel" shows all the numbers smack in the middle of what they call the "Normal" range! For the first time in many years, my HDL and LDL are "Normal", which I'm sure will please my Primary Provider and my Cardiologist.

BOOM!...............another. Rain total is now .26", and a look outside shows that it's turning to snow.

After getting my blood drawn, I headed on over to the Target/CVS store to pick up some meds and get my shingles vaccine shot. It's a two-part kit, with a powder in one vial, and a "dilutent" in a second. The Pharmacist extracted the liquid, put it in the powder vial, shook it a bit, then drew the mixed contents out and gave me the shot. She warned me it might have some side-effects, and a couple of hours later I felt pretty nauseated, hot, and had to lay down for an hour or do. If this is the only side-effect I have, I'll call it a win, because I do NOT want to get shingles, thank you very much.

The store had a prominent sign stating they were NOT a CDC Testing Center, and other signs in the pharmacy area advising they were sold out of hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, aloe vera, wipes of all types, and several other things. Toilet paper was in good supply, as was the food section.

My wife tells me that it's now obvious we're a "Dog Place" here, as most stores are running out of dog food (!!), but plenty of cat food was on the shelves.

So that's it from here, and be safe out there!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Another Car Magazine Bites the Dust.....

Being a car nut, I like to read car magazines. I've been reading Car and Driver, Road & Track, and Hot Rod for decades. I used to read Car Craft back in my Street Machine days, but drifted away from that over the years. And I also had subscriptions to several other car magazines during that time.

The first magazine I really enjoyed that ceased publication was Motor Trend Classic, a compilation type magazine that looked at cars Motor Trend had originally done road tests on long ago, but with an emphasis on how things have changed over the years. MT Classic started and stopped a few times during it's existence, and then finally pulled the plug some years ago, fulfilling the balance of my subscription with the "regular" Motor Trend magazine.

It was a real bummer to me, and I'm still looking for issues to complete my collection.

Several months ago, I received a notice that Hot Rod Deluxe was ceasing publication, the balance of my subscription to be filled with full access to the Hot Rod and Motor Trend archives and streaming services. Hot Rod Deluxe was another compilation type magazine that restricted itself to 1960's and earlier cars, along with excellent articles on the history of drag racing, and many unpublished photos from the Petersen Publishing Company archives.

A couple of weeks ago I received a letter indicating that Auto Restorer magazine was going under. Since I had just renewed for two years, this got me a bit upset, as if I want to get any of my money back, I'll have to send a physical letter, with proof, to their office, and get in line to receive a few pennies per dollar on my claim. Auto Restorer was unique in that it had NO advertisements, something that most likely contributed to their going bust.

In the letters to the editor section of my new Car and Driver, I saw letters from people thanking them for picking up the slack of AutoWeek folding up, and giving the subscribers their 'balance due' in issues of Car and Driver.

I've noticed over the last decade or so that many of the car magazines were consolidating together, with "The Enthusiast Network" coming in like God's own Hoover and sucking up several car magazines.

While I'm not completely against getting "free" access (It isn't "free" at all. I paid for the damn magazine!) to their archives and streaming content, they just cannot replace the specific magazine I had subscribed to.

I don't want access to their streaming content, and a lot of the material in the various archives is poor quality, making it "uninteresting" to me.

Having subscribed to these magazines for the past 55 years or so, I've seen them all go through various changes. From Brock Yates and David E. Davis having their great blowout, to Davis leaving Car and Driver and starting Automobile magazine. And I've seen writers jump ship between magazines, and sometimes just disappear. I suppose this is nothing new, but I miss having my monthly allocation of dead trees arriving. I prefer something tangible for my money, like a magazine, that I can read at my leisure, anywhere, anytime, and then file away as reference material.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Orthopedic Consultation Results

Had my Ortho consult today, and he told me pretty much what SiG and a few others have said. I've got some arthritis on top of pretty thin cartilage inside the joint, and a torn up Labrum around it, and it's not going to get any better. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments look to be in good shape outside of the inflammation, and there's no sign of bone-on-bone contact yet.

We didn't discuss setting a date for hip replacement surgery (more below...), but we did discuss the procedure, after care, and my overall medical condition, which he rated as good enough to withstand the procedure. My cardiologist appointment is in two weeks, and this procedure will be the #1 item to discuss with him. My primary care Doctor is also very happy with my overall medical condition, and she hasn't raised any concerns about the surgery, so now it's grinding through the process. I'd expect my next step will be to review this all with her, and do a GO/NOGO, and then talk about dates.

I'm getting a feel for the bureaucratic process of our local medical system, and was just joking with my SLW that it reminds of the Boeing "Problem Reporting" (aka "PR") system, and how rigid it was.

I'm the originator of a PR (or 'squawk', if you will), which starts a long, predictable, highly-scripted, chain-of-events, leading to a conclusion. Along the way, you "Convene", "Collaborate", "Reconvene", and use several other terms which I forget.

And the process MUST go step-by-step or the Quality people will go completely bonkers and abort the flight/launch/deployment.

Anywhoo....the medical system out here reminds me of that a bit in that it's precise, predictable, and reasonably fast.

I see another "Reconvening" with my Primary Care provider to go over options and details.

BTW...the Ortho Doctor I met with today is a U.S. NAVY Doctor. Not only that, he's a USN DIVE Doctor, and he was stationed on Coronado Island working with BUDS and SEALS. I wore my BB-61 USS Iowa hat today, and that triggered quite an interesting conversation between us, lasting a good half hour.

And he's not only the Ortho Doctor there, he's also the Surgeon who would perform the operation, and I feel comfortable about it. It's a one-hour operation, they keep you overnight, and you go home the next afternoon. Leaves about a 6"~7" scar, and has an extremely high success rate.

So in the meantime, I'll do the PT exercises, take the recommended amount of Naproxen with a bit of Tramadol for "those days", and let the mills grind away.

Monday, March 9, 2020

New "Team Driver" for Scuderia Zarkov, and PT Woes and Improvements.

We gave TLG one of his birthday presents on Sunday when he came over to spend the night. I would have given it to him on his birthday, but it would have been a hassle with all the other kiddies around, and I KNOW he would have wanted to play with it then and there, so I thought better and held off.

It was a "half-off" deal I got when the local Hobby Town closed, and I probably should have bought a couple more so he and his cousins could race them in the back yard.

It's actually a pretty decent R/C car, has "Full Proportional" steering and throttle control, and the wheel radio transmitter even has a nice foam grip around the steering wheel. It's small enough, and has a tight enough turning radius, that it's very controllable down in the den.

And with Grandma providing instruction, he's been learning to drive!

I dialed the throttle waaay back so it doesn't get away from him, and he's really twitchy on the steering, but he's got his throttle control figured out, meaning he doesn't just mash the throttle trigger all the way down, and understands that he can make it go slow, as well as fast.

Had appointment #2 at the Physical Therapy place today. Neither of us expected any improvement in 7 days, and there wasn't any.

EXCEPT...he gave me some exercises to do that work the same muscles, but don't require me to 'go to ground' to do them. They're much easier to do, with the result that I *will* do them, something I was laggardly about with the first set of exercises. These will work the Gluteus Medius muscle on my right side, which should give me extra support for the hip joint.

My consultation with the Orthopedic Doctor is this Friday, and I'm sure I'll have a much better handle on things after reviewing the data with him. So far, though, 200mg of Naproxen, four times a day, has knocked down the inflammation enough that I can do the exercises without going "OW!" every few minutes, and cut back on the Tramadol, which knocks the pain down to zero but makes me a bit "dozey" at times.

Friday, March 6, 2020

TGIF! and other things.....

And it's SIXTY-EIGHT degrees here today!

Been scouting out big parking lots here with Google Maps so I can find a long enough straight to let the Limitless R/C car stretch her legs. The parking lot we shot the video in has a maximum usable distance of about 250', which is about 1/3 the distance I need, and about 1/4 the distance I'd like. The car spends most of the first 100' scratching for traction as it accelerates, and then I have to get on the brakes 100% to slow it down enough to turn as it approaches the end of the lot.

The biggest parking lot that's fairly close to me is at the Community College, so I'll have to drive down there on the weekend to see if the lot is open, and how many cars are parked there.

Up to the Northwest, on the way to Laporte, there's an airfield used by the Colorado National Guard, or at least it was at some time, called "Christman Field". You can read the history of Christman Field here, about 1/3 of the way down the page. It's also the site of the CSU Motorsport Engineering Research Center ("MERC"), which I've been looking into. This is another location I'll have to scout to see if there's any "public" access to it, and to see if it's posted "Keep Out" or "No Trespassing". This is a paved, 4000' strip that looks to be usable from the Google Map (actually USGS) images.

And then there's the now closed Fort Collins airport.

Close looking at the images show the runways to be blocked in places with stacks of tires.

And further down the runway is a large section of removed runway, and other cuts or barriers to the upper left.

They did a number on the main runway, BUT the taxiways still have some quite long uncut straights.

I'll have to talk to the guys at the eTeam Hobbyplex again to see if I'd get run off or cited for trespassing if I tried to do a run there.

The hip seems to be responding to 200mg of Naproxen three times a day, along with the pain killer "As Required". My consultation with the Orthopedic Doctor went through, and I'm seeing him next Friday. It should have been sooner, but somehow they had a wrong phone number for me. The Ortho people contacted my Doctor, who contacted me, adding about a week to getting the referral set up. I don't know if the PT exercises I'm doing are helping any, but they give me something else to do when I'm not messing around with Ham Radio or model cars.

So I'll go do some scouting on Saturday to see how full the college lot is, and if there's access to it, and then head up to check out Christman Field. I have no intentions of trying to get an organized "Speed Run" event going, but I'd sure like a surface long enough to let this thing rip!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Big Three!

The Little Guy's 3rd birthday was yesterday, and to celebrate, we had the party here on Sunday.

He told his Mom he wanted a "Grinch Birthday", so that was provided.

Where's My Cake?!?

MUCH Better!

And balloons! What's a kid's party without balloons?

The house was alive with family and friends....we are truly blessed.

After the presents were unwrapped, we had a "Whack Godzilla Pinata Party" in the front yard.

WHAM! Somebody connected with a good hit, and the goodies spilled out....

CANDY! And plenty to share....

It was bit cool and overcast, but at least it didn't snow this year like last year.

And everybody had a great time!

For Phil......

 My buddy Phil from Bustednuckles brought up a good point on my previous post. Since I have things on the engine torn down this far: It wou...