Half Done

Posted June 13, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: Health-Care

Tags: ,

2018-06-12 13.33.52Today was 15th radiation treatment. 15 more to go. So far so good. Last treatment is on July 5.

The bus takes us from the Kaiser Harbor City facility up to the Kaiser facility in Hollywood. ( about an hour ride)

Today we didn’t have our regular bus. I guess the regular bus was out of service. In its stead we had one of those 12 passenger vans. What a pain. Just about every seat taken. No extra room to speak of.

Not only am I half done with treatments, I am also about half done with the book that I am listening to on Audible. I am listening to the biography of Ulysses S Grant by Ron Chernow. Very interesting. I have started watching the Ken Burns series on the Civil war. Also, interesting. It’s available on Netflix.

The bus is sort of a rolling support group. Everyone on the bus has some sort of cancer. I have had interesting conversations with many of the folks on the bus.

The treatments have some nasty side effects. My sense of taste is long gone. So is my appetite. I have a low grade sore throat. Though, some folks have it much worse. I can at least eat but I generally don’t want to. I am tired and grumpy. (more so than usual). Water has a metallic taste to it.

So I have lost about 4 pounds over the past three weeks. The doctor today told me “try not to lose too much weight”. What? I don’t think I have ever heard a doctor say those words. Hell of a diet.

Back on the bus tomorrow.

Joe

Grand Chapter Recording

Posted June 3, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: OES, Technology

Tags: , ,

As many of my east coast FB friends who are member of OES, I do the recording of the Grand Chapter session. Ever wonder what I do at the table at the back of the hall next to the sound board? Here is a brief explanation of how I do that.

Hardware

First, here’s the hardware setup. I use a standard Windows 10 laptop. I connect to the hall’s sound board with a Tascam MK122 interface. Tascam no longer makes the model MK122. Here is a reasonable variant that would work, though with a bit more than I would need. It converts standard audio signals to a USB signal. There are two XLR cables. One for each stereo channel. There is also a headphones jack for monitoring the audio.

Software

I used to use a software app called CuBase, but when I upgraded to a new laptop three years ago, the version that I had wouldn’t work. CuBase offered to sell me a new version for about $300. Nope, not gonna do it. The new version of CuBase had way more features than I really needed.

So I started searching for alternatives. I found an app called “Mixcraft” by Acoustica. It seemed to fit my needs and wallet just fine. Here’s a view of the screen while recording:

2018-05-19 13.37.40

The red section of the screen is the currently recording channel. My job during the recording is to balance the input levels. With different speakers and different microphones, I need to make sure that I am getting a solid signal at all times.

Also during the recording, I have an Excel spreadsheet open that I use to log who is speaking and what they’re talking about. This is done so that later I can find a particular speaker and/or report.

Mixcraft uses a project file to manage the operation. I have a different project file for each day of Grand Chapter. I need to stop and restart the recording every 20-30 minutes to allow Mixcraft to write all of the WAV files to disk. I keep a different folder for each day of Grand Chapter.

By the time that all is said and done on Saturday night, I will have about 25 GBytes of WAV files on my hard drive. I try to backup the files to either a thumb drive or portable USB drive.

So when I get home, my job is to create MP3 files and copy them to a thumb drive. I used to write DVD disks but thumb drives are easier to deal with. Mixcraft has a handy function to mix down a select portion of the recording to a MP3 file. Sometimes, I will edit out long stretches of silence. Then I do some editing of the Excel file for accuracy.

And finally, I mail two thumb drives to Grand Secretary in Mass. Archive all of the files in case someone asks for a recording from way back when. I have full recordings going back to 2010 when I started doing the job for MA OES.

Mary

Posted June 3, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: Aging, Mary

Tags: ,

2018-06-02 20.42.38Time for another post on Mary. We took her to church this morning. Lately, it seems that she has been agreeable to going to church on Sunday. The only challenge is getting to brush her teeth, wash her face and get dressed in a timely manner.

Her memory continues to fail. When we got home from church, she asked us if it was breakfast time.  No. we told her, it’s lunch time. She has trouble differentiating morning from evening.

Everyone at church are happy to see her. She doesn’t remember who they are but she smiles at the attention she gets.

So pretty much the only things she gets out for are church on Sunday and hair salon on Friday when she gets her hair done. We also drag her to the OES meetings on the first and third Mondays of the month. She always sits in the same seat in the lodge room. I should put her name on it “The Mary K Stanley” seat.

People have asked us what we do when we travel as when we flew to Boston last Month for Mass Grand Chapter. We use a service that provides us with 24/7 care coverage. It’s expensive, but no where near what a nursing home would cost. For shorter time periods like going to the movies or out to dinner, we have a couple of sitters who can come over and spend the evening.

The past couple of weeks have been a challenge for Paula doing her Assistance League duties while I have to be at my radiation treatments up in Hollywood. Last week Paula had a board meeting to go to while I was up in Hollywood. She just took Mary with her, gave her a cup of coffee and gave her a seat.

1Sec Every Day for May 2018

Posted June 1, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: 1 Sec Every Day, 1SE

Tags: ,

As in the past months, I am posting my 1SE video for the month of May. I try to take one or two pictures a day and post them to the 1SE app.

King Tut

Posted May 28, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: History, Reviews

Tags: ,

2018-05-28 10.58.34Today we went downtown to the California Science Center to see the King Tut exhibit. Mike & Theresa got the tickets. We all loaded into Mike’s Honda Minivan and headed off to see King Tut.

We got Dawn to come and watch over Mary while we were gone. We left at 9:00 am expecting traffic, but no traffic to speak of so we arrived ahead of schedule.

Our tickets were for 10:30, so we had to hang out for about a 1/2 hour before we all could get into the exhibit.

So the tomb of Tutenkhamun was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922. The tomb was pretty much undisturbed for 3,000 years. Here’s the wiki article about Tut.

Jonathan was trying to get his head around how old King Tut was. He couldn’t quite get his head around 3000 years old. So we compared it to Old Testament Bible stories like Noah and the like. Okay, he got it.

Here are some more pics.

After we finished the exhibit, we did lunch at the “Bombay Tandori” Restaurant on PCH in Torrance. We got there in time to do the buffet. We all hadn’t had Indian cuisine for a long time. Very tasty and not too expensive

Radiation – Day 1

Posted May 23, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: cancer, Health-Care

Tags: , ,

2018-05-23 09.41.18Today I had my first radiation treatment at Kaiser in Hollywood. It took a solid hour and a half to drive up there. The drive is worse than the treatment. My appointment was at 08:24, so I was driving at prime traffic time.

Starting tomorrow, I get to ride the shuttle from Harbor City. So I can catch up on my reading and podcasts.

The first appointment was different because they had to do some X-rays and fine tuning of the set up.

They have a mask that locks my head into one place while the X-ray machine does its thing.

Kaiser has about 7 machines in the basement of the building on Sunset Blvd. They gave each machine a name to help keep track of which is which. The one that I will be using is called “Megatron”. I am sure Jonathan will be amused.

If one looks carefully at the light above the machine you can see a picture of a leafy tree. I guess it’s to make one forget that you’re getting zapped with mega-watts of radiation to kill the cancer bugs.

They have a control center in another room with a bunch of computers with about 6 screens. They wouldn’t let me take a picture because another patient’s data was on the screen.

So I go back tomorrow and each weekday until the end of June. I get weekends and Memorial Day off for good behavior.

Dodge Challenger

Posted May 22, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: Reviews

Tags: , , , ,

Just got back from out trip to Boston. As in the past, we rented a car. So I made a reservation with Avis/Budget Rent-a-Car for a Ford Escape. Why can’t Avis give me what I ask for? So this year they give us a Dodge Challenger. Not even close.

There once would have been a time that I would have loved to drive (or own) a car like a Dodge Challenger, but that shipped sailed a long time ago.

We are thinking about buying a new car pretty soon. Renting a car that is similar to what you  are looking for in a new car is a good way to get a good feel about the car. You get a better feel than a 10 minute test drive.

 

The first thing notices about the car is the sound of the exhaust. It has a deep throaty roar to it that makes you want to step on the gas and go fast. It has lots of power.

The only thing that bugs me is the controls for things like headlights, radio, AC, etc. Before I drive out of the rental car garage, I try to figure out all of the stuff I need to drive, like how to turn on headlights, how to turn on AC, etc.

2018-05-20 14.55.58.jpg

Most of the new cars have a setup like this with app buttons and interface to one’s smart phone, which is great. But it takes me time to get used to is. I can connect to my phone and play music from my iPhone. I don’t have to find a suitable radio station. This car did have “CarPlay” which is the Apple interface. I believe that there is a similar system for Android phones.

The steering wheel has more buttons than you can shake a stick at for cruise control, audio functions, make a phone call which is great but it takes a bit of getting used to.

And another thing that takes a getting used to is the “Start” button. Apparently, the put the key into the lock and turning is long gone. Step on the brake  and push “Start”. It will start as long as the key fob is somewhere in the car. Leave the key in your pocket, that way you won’t forget it.

Maybe next time I will try Hertz to see if they can give me the car that I request. Sigh.

Oh and by the way, I filled it up before I turned it in on Monday. What a pleasant surprise to buy gas for under $3 a gallon again. Haven’t seen that in California for a long time.