Friday, June 26, 2015

Getting Married

     B and I have four children between us. Tomorrow, the first of them, her younger son, is getting married. At age 23, he is the youngest of the four.

     That seems a little young to me, in this day and age, but he and his bride seem mature for their age, and well suited for one another. They grew up together, went to the same high school, and started going out together when they were freshmen in college. She transferred after her freshman year, in order to be closer to him, and now they've been living together for almost two years.

     Some people balk at the idea of two people living together before they get married. But B and I are hardly ones to object, since we have been living together for eight years without benefit of marriage.

     But, for us, there is no benefit of marriage. At least not financially. Neither one of us needs to piggyback on the other's medical insurance; and we'd have to pay more in taxes if we got married. We won't be having any more kids; so we don't need to make it official for that reason. In fact, if we were to get married it might just complicate things for our kids.

     But B and I might get married anyway . . . eventually. Even though we're not raising a family, there's still something appealing about marriage, making the relationship official, for all the world to see.

    Anyway, we're going off to watch our little boy (well, not my little boy, but I've known him since he was in 8th grade) march down the aisle.

     They're doing it up pretty big -- with a minister, at a fancy wedding venue, expensive rings, with a rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and roughly 150 friends and family at the wedding. Flowers, professional photographer, gift bags, bachelor and bachelorette parties. All the women in the wedding bought a new dress for the occasion, and they are going together to get their nails, hair and makeup done.

     It seems a bit over the top to me. But then, I got married in 1973 in a little church in the country with about 15 guests, and my bride wore flowers in her hair and we all went out to lunch afterwards. We were together for 28 years, raised two great kids, and had a pretty good run.

     So if that simple little ceremony was good for 28 years, then B's son and his bride will be married forever.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Don't Overdo the Pills

     I had a little medical problem yesterday.

     For the most part, I feel fortunate because I do not take any prescriptions on a regular basis, while most of my friends seem to be on all kinds of medications -- for cholesterol, high blood sugar, and who knows what else.

     I'm basically healthy, but I do still suffer a few aches and pains. I have a bad knee from an old sports injury and a bad ankle from a car accident I was in when I was a kid. My back acts up occasionally, which I attribute to 30+ years sitting behind a desk. Then sometimes I get a headache -- when I get tired or dehydrated, or when I have a drink.

     On Sunday, which was Father's Day, B and I went out to dinner, and we each had a glass of wine. When I know I'm going to have a drink, I take two Advil before I go out, then another two Advil before I go to bed . . . to prevent a headache.

     Then yesterday I played a round of golf, and afterwards I felt a little crick in my back. So I took another two Advil.

     I guess, between my aches and pains, and then occasionally taking an aspirin because it's suppose to help your heart -- and I've read it may even help prevent cancer -- I pop maybe six Advil and two or three aspirin a week.

     So yesterday afternoon, after I got home from golf, and took the Advil, I sat and relaxed for a while watching TV, made myself some iced coffee, then went up to take a shower. I was standing in the shower when I suddenly noticed a big bump in my hand. It hadn't been there ten minutes ago. It was dark colored, almost purple. As big as a golf ball. I felt it, and it wasn't hard. It moved a round a little bit.

     I thought of the sci-fi movies where snakes and worms come crawling out of people's skin. It looked like I had a giant slug buried under the skin on the back of my hand.

     I thought, maybe I ought to get this checked out. We have a walk-in clinic in our town. I've never been there before, but I figured this might be the time to try it out.

     I called them up. Yes, the woman told me, they take Medicare. She said to come right in. Fortunately, they weren't crowded at 6 p.m. on a Monday. A very nice nurse took my pulse and my blood pressure. The doctor came in and examined me. I showed him my hand and explained that it had come up very suddenly.

     It didn't take him long to figure it out. He told me a blood vessel had burst in my hand. It's nothing to be concerned about, he said. Did I injure my hand, or hit it against anything?

     No, I replied.

     Have you taken any aspirin lately?

     Yes, I told him. I take an aspirin, probably one every few days. And I use Advil for pain.

     Have you taken Advil recently?

     Yeah, I took, um . . . four yesterday. And actually, two more today.

     That's likely the cause, he said.

     Well, I know aspirin thins the blood, I said. Does Advil do that as well?

     Oh yeah, he replied. Aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Tylenol. They all do.

     I see, I acknowledged. But I've been around for 60 years. It's never happened to me before. Why would I suddenly burst a vein?

     I can't answer that, he said. What I can tell you is that this is nothing serious. Your body will reabsorb the blood. He suggested that I ice my hand, and then starting tomorrow, put a warm washcloth on the hand, a couple of times a day for a few days.

     Then he looked up and down my arms. You have a few other bruises, he said, pointing to one on the inside of my wrist and another by my elbow. So don't take any aspirin or Advil for a least a week. It takes that long for it to get entirely out of your system.

     And so now, in addition to not taking any prescriptions, I'm off the painkillers. Who would have thought? But I guess even mundane medicines like Advil and aspirin have side effects.

     The doctor also did a blood test to check my oxygen levels and my clotting factors, just to be sure. He told me to come back if it gets red and painful. It's possible it could get infected, but he didn't think that would happen.

     He didn't tell me I could never take aspirin or Advil again. But I got the message: Don't overdo the pills, even if they're as common and mundane as aspirin or Advil.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Let's Hear It for Summer!

     Welcome to summer . . . to those of us north of the Equator.

     Laura Lee Carter is blogging today, wishing everyone a Happy Summer Solstice, which, as she reminds us, heralds the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. This year the solstice also happens to occur on Father's Day. She hopes the arrival of summer will offer an opportunity for fathers and families everywhere to venture outside today (and maybe get some healthy exercise). And for inspiration she offers some photos of Colorado wildflowers gone wild.

Colorado wildflowers
     But as a warning to those of you planning to phone your fathers today, Rita Robison of The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide reports that the FCC Plans to Fine AT&T $100 Million for misleading customers about unlimited data plans. The Federal Communications Commission alleges that AT&T severely slowed down the data speeds for those with unlimited plans, and that the company didn't notify customers that they could receive speeds slower than those AT&T advertised.

     I don't use a lot of data myself, so this wouldn't affect me (I have a Verizon plan anyway); but it does seem to me that any company ought to be straightforward with its customers. Regardless, I hope I don't hear that excuse from my own kids about why they couldn't call me on Father's Day!

     Meanwhile, Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting offers up a tribute to her dad, who grew up in the Depression, served in World War II, made a career in advertising, and by all accounts, proved to be a great father and grandfather. She recalls some nice memories in Happy Birthday and Happy Father's Day, Dad, who, as she says, "Is not around anymore to celebrate with us, but his spirit is."

     Finally, in her blog Smart Living365 Kathy Gottberg says that she doesn't know any woman who doesn't care, at least a little bit, about how she looks to others. But hopefully, she continues, "By the time we get to our age, we care less about how other people judge us, and equally important, we stop letting the opinions of others make critical life decisions for us."

     That sentiment led to her recent decision to purchase and wear hearing aids, which, she says, is, "One of those moments when my perception of myself changed."

     For an account of her whole life-changing experience check out Do My Hearing Aids Make Me Look Fat? Which I did, and to which I respond . . . Kathy, you don't look fat to me!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Are You as Smart as a 5th Grader?

     While everyone else is reading The Girl on the Train (billed as the next Gone Girl) and The Boys in the Boat (about the Univ. of Washington oarsmen who rowed for the U. S. in the 1936 Berlin Olympics), I've been reading something entirely different.

     As anyone who visits this blog knows, my beloved B, aka Bridge, is a librarian. She spends her days in the children's room reading to kids, helping them find books, and creating all kinds of programs to engage their interest, enrich their minds, and . . . well, to be truthful, keep them out of their parents' hair for an hour or two.

     So last summer, and again this summer, B is involved in The Battle of the Books, a competition that involves kids from our library facing off against kids from five other local libraries. There are two levels, based on age. So our library has a 4th and 5th grade team, and a 6th and 7th grade team. They will meet the other teams sometime in July for the actual contest. In the meantime the kids are reading the books, studying them, going over practice questions.

     Each group has five books they will be asked questions about. I'm not sure exactly how the competition works; but basically, the team that gets the most questions right, or makes the fewest mistakes, will win some kind of prize.

     In the meantime, someone has to select the five books for the battle. And the librarians running the program have to read the books and come up with questions for the kids to answer.

     So B has asked me to help her out with the 4th and 5th grade team by reading one of the books, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. I have to generate 60 questions based on the book. Many of the questions are about the plot or the characters. For example: How old is Kyle, the main character?

     But other questions involve general information that gets woven into the story in one way or another. So, go ahead, take this test . . . and see if you're as smart as a 5th grader.

     1. What's a fancy word for library?

     2. What's the shortest distance between two points?

     3. What two coins add up to 30 cents -- but one of them can't be a nickel?

     4. What US Navy ship was once captured by the North Koreans?

     5. What did Apollo 8 accomplish that had never been done before?

     6. What's the nickname of the state of Indiana?

     7. Who wrote Around the World in Eighty Days?

     8. 0 +27 + 0.4 = ???? (but don't use math)

     9. What was the name of the gleaming white elf-horse that carried Frodo Bagins across the River Bruinen?

     10. Who said, "Knowledge not shared remains unknown."

Answers, according to Chris Grabenstein:

     1) Athenaeum; 2) A straight line; 3) A quarter and a nickel (one of them is not a nickel); 4) USS Pueblo; 5) It was the first spacecraft to orbit the moon; 6) Hoosier State; 7) Jules Verne; 8) 027.4, the Dewey decimal no. for library information; 9) Asfaloth, from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; 10) Why . . .  Mr. Lemoncello of course!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

No Car for Old Men

     B and I are in the market for a new car. And since this blog is all about honesty and truthfulness, I will admit something I do not like to admit. It's about vanity. I do not want a car that makes me look like an old geezer.

     So, at the risk of offending some people, that means . . . no Dodge or Chrysler for me.

     We already have a Subaru Forester. That's mostly what B drives. She is very trepidatious about driving in the snow, and not so keen about driving in the rain either, and so she insists on driving an all-wheel-drive vehicle. She feels safer with the extra traction, and has reminded me more than once about how last winter her colleague got stuck in the snow in the library parking lot, and her husband had to come over in his all-wheel-drive vehicle to pick her up.

We're looking for something to go with the Subaru Forester
     I've never had an all-wheel-drive vehicle in my life. I don't see the need for it. Sure, we get some snow here. But the people I know (other than B) who have a Subaru or other all-wheel-drive vehicle are skiiers who trek up to Vermont or New Hampshire for weekends in January and February. That makes sense to me -- not the skiing, I think skiing is a suicidal sport, especially for anyone over age 50 -- but the idea of an all-wheel-drive vehicle if you're going to be slipping and sliding around in the Northern latitudes all winter.

     I suggested to B that one all-wheel-drive vehicle in the family is enough. She can use the all-wheel-drive, and I'll use the front-wheel drive. But, she says, the whole idea of having two cars is so we can switch back and forth, for our convenience. I pointed out that we could switch back and forth most of the time, just not on snow days. In other words, probably about 350 days a year. She's not convinced, however.

     Anyway, we looked at a Volvo. I had a Volvo once and I liked the car. Trouble is, the all-wheel-drive Volvo is trop cher. And by trop cher I mean north of $40K. Doesn't that seem like a lot of money for a car? Even if you lease it, you're talking well over $400 a month.

     I also looked at the Ford Fusion. One of our neighbors recently bought a Ford Fusion. They got the front-wheel drive version; but there is an all-wheel-drive version as well -- for, of course, an extra $3,000 or $4,000. We did a test drive, and I just didn't like the car all that much. You sit down in the car and can't see out very well, and the thing just seems very big and boaty.

     I looked at a Buick Regal and the lower priced Buick Verano. See the note above about "old geezer."

     We're going to see an Acura, which is nothing but  a fancy Honda; a little upscale, but not as expensive as a Lexus or BMW. I don't like BMWs anyway. I don't know what it is, but something about the BMW sticks in my craw.

      But in the case of the Acura, the all-wheel-drive version is almost $10,000 more expensive than the base model, largely because you can't get an all-wheel drive Acura unless you go to the top of the line with leather seats, a moonroof, a navigation system, and a whole list of other bells and whistles.

     Then we've got an appointment to test drive a Subaru Legacy, which is the four-door sedan entry in the Subaru lineup. But, I mean, we like B's Forester okay. But we don't think of ourselves as such Subaru fans that we want to be a two-Subaru family.

     This business of buying a car is fraught with all kinds of emotional and psychological, as well as practical issues. Isn't it?