Archive for September 2015


September 28, 2015

Time for an update. It seems that Mary has gotten over her intestinal troubles and is back eating a normal diet.

2015-09-27 17.15.12 (2)She had a fairly busy weekend. Today, we started with church service at 10:30. Then we took her to the Ocean View Church picnic at the San Pedro Pistol range. Yeah, I know that sounds strange, but there is a nice picnic area next to the SP Police Pistol range. It’s really a nice area for a group picnic.

Lots of good food to eat. They had a BBQ going where everyone could cook their burgers. Games for the kids, including a bouncy house. We didn’t stay long because we had another event to go to.

So the next event was the Assistance League Fall Luau at the Chapter house. Paula was the lead on this endeavor and she was busy getting things together.

So I was responsible for getting Mary to the event. I got her seated and proceeded to get her a Mai Tai. Lots of excellent Hawaiian food and a Hawaiian uke band. All well done. Started at 4:30 and done by 8:00. On the way home we got to see an excellent view of the blood moon getting to the full eclipse driving east on 8th St in San Pedro. Great ending to a busy day.

Rest easy tomorrow.

Black Mass

September 28, 2015

Last night Paula and I had an opportunity to go to the movies. Mary K was off at some party up on the hill. So we had enough time to see a movie and have a brief dinner at KFC. We didn’t have enough time to have a decent meal out. KFC had to do.

BulgerSo we decided to see Johnny Depp in “Black Mass“. Saturday night at 6:30 pm. $12 for the two of us. Sometimes being an old fart is a good thing. So there were about five people in the movie including us. I guess that the story of Whitey Bulger isn’t a big thing out here on the West Coast.

I really enjoyed Depp as Whitey. Johnny Depp didn’t look anything like a pirate. I saw on the news where he made a visit to a children’s hospital in the pirate costume while he was attending the opening in Boston. The kids loved it.

He really nailed the role. I read that Johnny Depp had tried to get an interview with Whitey in the pen where Whitey is staying. Denied.

Benedict Cumberbatch played Billy Bulger. Good performance but he didn’t quite get the Billy Bulger accent and mannerisms that I remember.

The rest of the cast did a decent job of portraying some pretty nasty people. I thought it was worth seeing. Alas, other folks in LA may not have found it interesting. So if you live in LA, you better get out and see it before it gets dropped.

There was an excellent book written by Keven Cullen of the Boston Globe about the whole Whitey saga up to his capture in Santa Monica a few years ago. Might be better to read the book before seeing the movie. Here’s the link for the book.

San Diego

September 21, 2015

So, we just got back from San Diego. Paula had signed up to attend the Assistance League National conference at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego. I had a choice. Either I would stay at home and mind Mary K or I could go along and hang out while Miss Paula went to conference meetings all day. I chose the latter.

So we arranged for care givers for Mary from Wednesday until today. We hit the road for San Diego at about 11 am on Wednesday. Arrived by early afternoon and checked into the hotel. We got a room with a view of the Dole pineapple warehouse. The view out the other side of the bay was $20 more a night. Here’s a picture. The bridge in the background is the bridge to Coronado Island.

2015-09-17 11.53.24

View of the beautiful Dole warehouse.

So I brought all of my computing gear. Laptop, iPad and iPhone. We were invited to a cocktail party at a restaurant on Coronado serving snacks and wine. I was included in the festivities. I felt I could deal with that. We tool the ferry across the bay.

So on Thursday, I joined Paula for breakfast with the AL ladies. Nobody was checking tickets so I ate for free. I had a quiet day watching people wander by in the lobby. I eventually found the Starbucks and got myself suitably caffeinated.

Friday, more of the same. We had dinner at a restaurant on Coronado called the “Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill” I had an appetizer of Scallops. Very tasty. It went well with the two martinis.

On Saturday, I decided to upgrade my iPad and iPhone to iOS V9. I seemed to have a decent wi-fi connection. I had nothing better to do so why not? Not as fast as wi-fi at home but it would do. With that complete it was time for a nap. Eventually Paula returned from her day of drinking from the firehose.

2015-09-19 18.24.33

The Assistance League ladies from San Pedro-South Bay

She got to rest for a bit. Then off we went to the big closing banquet. My ticket was $125 Yikes!!! Was I the only one who thought the prices were outrageous. Food was good but not $125 good. Cash bar was pricey too. $12 for a mixed drink. The $12 got you just the generic “well” gin, nothing fancy.

So I had dinner. Eventually I got tired of sitting there. My hearing (or lack thereof) has gotten worse over the past few years. I have a lot of trouble hearing conversations in noisy environments even with hearing aids. So I excused myself and headed up stairs to our room.

So on Sunday we had planned on meeting our friends Ron & Thelma up in Del Mar Heights for brunch. Ron & Thelma’s daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren came to visit. Always ready to visit with the grand kids.

They asked me if I would play some kids tunes on their out of tune piano. I was happy to oblige. Actually, the tuning wasn’t that bad. It needed tuning  but I’ve played worse. So I got out my iPhone and did a bunch of kids tunes, like Old MacDonald, Itsy-Bitsy Spider. etc.

Once that was done, we headed on up the 5. It seems that no matter the time or day there will be heavy traffic.. Today was no different. Home by 3:30 pm.

It was a fun few days. We all had fun and a blessed respite from caring for Mary. Later.



Kaiser Permanente

September 17, 2015

Warning – Rant ahead

So last week I send an email to my Personal Care Doc at Kaiser. (For folks who don’t live in CA, Kaiser is a large HMO in CA). My request was for my doctor to help me get in touch with the Kaiser Sleep Study people in Bellflower, CA.

You see I have sleep apnea and I use a BiPAP to help me sleep. Last week my BiPAP died. Without my BiPAP I don’t sleep so well. I means that I wake up a lot during the night. It makes me just a tad bit grumpy.

So my Doctor (generally a good guy) gives me a phone number and tells me since I did a sleep study two years ago that they should replace it without any problem.

Okay, so far so good. So this morning, I call the number. I get a recording. Recording says “This phone number is no longer in use. Call 562-xxx-yyyy.

Okay I can handle that. I call the new number and punch the appropriate buttons. 1 for English, 2 for Espanol, etc. So in english, I get the message “Mailbox Full, for assistance stay on the line, blah, blah, blah”

So I am getting even more grumpy. Mailbox Full? Are you kidding me? Has anyone at Kaiser have any clue about customer service? No apparently not. By the way, staying on the line just gets into a loop repeating the message.

Here’s the good news. We are coming up on October which means that I can change health plans. I am oh so close to just logging into Amazon and buying a new BiPAP from them. All I want is a good night’s sleep. Is that too much to ask?


September 14, 2015

 Okay, you’re probably wondering “What’s a 9SOP?”. Well, 9SOPS is the acronym for Mike’s squadron in the Air Force Reserve at Vandenberg Air Force Base. It stands for “The Ninth Space Operations Squadron”. 9SOPS is a member of the 310th Space Wing. Garrisoned at VAFB.

So you’re probably wondering what does “Semper Summatum” mean? I don’t have to explain it to my brothers Rich and Stan who were a lot smarter than I was at learning latin. It means “Always on top”. Perhaps, “Always above”, but I prefer “Always on Top”.

So before the start of the promotion ceremony, we were all standing around the break room talking with many of Mike’s peers. The break room was a room stocked with all of the stuff that nerds and geeks fire on all cylinders, Fritos, Chocolate, Candy, soda, etc. There may have been healthy snacks but I k didn’t see them.

So I happened to be talking with Mike’s CC (that would be CO in the Navy). I never knew that. So the good colonel was explaining in broad terms what they do. I told the colonel that I had learned more from him in five minutes than I got from Mike in five years. They take security seriously.

Back in the day, I remember reading a story about the author Tom Clancy who wrote a ton of cold war spy stories. After he had published “The Hunt for Red October” he got a call from the CIA or NSA or maybe some other hush-hush agency. They wanted to know where he got all of his information? Who was feeding him info? Clancy told them nobody, I got it from the public library. Remember this was before the day of Google or Wikipedia.

Indeed, I looked up all of my stuff about Gen. Vandenberg and the USAF on Wikipedia.

9SOPS is responsible for keeping an eye on all of the stuff in orbit around the earth. And when there is a possibility of a collision, they will let the appropriate people know. They would let NASA know, foreign governments, the ISS, etc.

Trust me when I tell you these are some seriously smart people. I was impressed with the number of women in the organization (both officer and enlisted). This is a reserve unit. So all if the unit members do there one weekend a month on the same weekend. There is also an equivalent active duty Space Operations Squadron. (Also stationed at VAFB).

[For those of you who are awaiting my post on Mike’s promotion ceremony, I will post it as soon as I get the pictures from Mike.]

Vandenberg Air Force Base

September 14, 2015

On Saturday, Mary asks me, “Who was VAFB named after?”. Excellent question. Let’s ask Wikipedia.

Vandenberg AFB is located 9.2 miles northwest of the town of Lompoc, CA in California’s central coast.

250px-Hoyt_S_VandenbergThe base is named in honor of former Air Force Chief of Staff General Hoyt S. Vandenberg. VAFB is the home of the 30th Space Wing, US Space Command.

During WWII, Gen Vandenberg was commanding general of the Ninth Air Force which was a tactical force in England and France.

Vandenberg grew up in Lowell, MA. (Hey, I know where that is) and graduated from the US Military Academy in 1923.

The Vandenberg Esplanade, located along the Merrimack River in Lowell, Massachusetts and part of the Lowell Heritage State Park, is named in his honor.

On April 30, 1948, General Vandenberg became the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, succeeding General Carl Spaatz. He was renominated by President Harry S. Truman for a second term as Air Force Chief of Staff on March 6, 1952. The nomination was confirmed on April 28, 1952, with Vandenberg serving until June 30, 1953

General Vandenberg was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medalwith four oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star, the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, and the European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal.

Here’s a map of VAFB for those who might be California challenged.


Embassy Suites

September 14, 2015

We just got home from our trip up north to Vandenberg AFB with Mary. We were staying at the Embassy Suites in Lompoc. I will be writing a separate post on the ceremony. This post is about our stay at Embassy Suites. This is a decent hotel. The only meal we had here was this morning. The morning breakfast buffet was outstanding. First class. I’ve been to a lot of hotel buffets in my life. This one beats them all hands down.

The only issue I have is the size of the room and I don’t think there is much to be done about that. We had Mary sleeping on the sleeper sofa and Paula and I had the King size bed in the bedroom. Unfortunately there was only one small bathroom in the bedroom. That meant when Mary got up to use the bathroom at night guess where she went.

On Saturday night she was a bit confused and couldn’t find the bathroom. Often times we bring a night light. Forgot it this time. Oh well.

Of course, she was always cold. I am not turning off the AC. Not going to happen.

Travelling with Mary is getting very stressful. We can’t let down our guard for minute lest she trip and fall. She couldn’t quite figure out why it took so long to get to the restaurants we were going to.  The restaurants are ones that are favorites of Mike’s squadron and aren’t in Lompoc.  And VAFB is very isolated. Intentionally so.

All of the HP accessible locations all worked out very well. She never had to walk much more than 20 feet from car to building. The military folks were very attentive to her needs including getting her a special chair.

Mary, it seems these days, is having trouble making decisions. Paula would offer her a couple or three outfits that she could wear. She just floundered. I think this is probably the last trip she will ever go on. There is no event that I know of that she would know of or want to go to. Certainly not by air. That ship has sailed. At any rate we are glad to be home. Next trip next week to San Diego WITHOUT Mary.

Travels with Mary

September 11, 2015

We had planned for a long time to take Mary on a road trip up to Vandenberg AFB in Lompac, CA. It was with fear and trepidation that we undertook the trip. One of the trips last year she managed to trip and break her hip. The reason we were going was for our son Mike’s promotion to major in the USAF Reserve. 

We kept telling her what we were doing and when and how but not much was sticking. Paula asked her on Thursday AM if she needed anything laundered. No she said, but at 9pm she asked to have her PJ’s washed. That ship had sailed. Her short term memory is shot, so she likely won’t remember what we told her yesterday.

So on Friday we get her loaded to go to Rose to get her hair done. Paula got her back home by about noon. Moved Mary from the Prius to the Jeep and Paula came up to finish packing. So we were all loaded and on the road by about 12:30.

We drove for about three hours and stopped for lunch in the small town of   Fillmore, CA (go ahead and Google it) Mexican restaurant by the name of El Pescadero (the fisherman) I had some tasty fish tacos. 

We still had another 3 hours of driving to go. Stuck in rush hour traffic in Santa Barbara. There is some of the most beautiful scenery on earth on the drive on rte 101 up the California coast. So Mary asks, “Are we still in California?” Then we get on the road to Lompoc, which is one ugly stretch of road. Nothing but dirt.

Mary’s all tucked in. No falls, no trips to the ER. We’re good. Tomorrow is another day. I’ll have pictures tomorrow.



Tooth Ache

September 8, 2015

The absolute worst time to get a tooth ache is the Saturday of a long weekend. So Saturday morning, I woke up with nasty tooth ache on my #3 molar (upper). I tried taking Ibuprofen for the pain. Didn’t come close to easing the pain. I hung on until this morning to call the dentist. The receptionist set me up with a 11:30 AM appt to see Dr Tooley.

Then I got a call from the receptionist asking if I could come in bit earlier. I said no problem. I’m on my way.

I checked in and was shown into the treatment room. Hey, I said to dental tech, this room is backwards. Is Dr Tulley a southpaw? Yes she said, indeed he is. In all of my many years of visiting dentists, this the first time that I have ever seen a left handed dentist. I told him I wouldn’t hold it against him.

So in talking to Dr T, I found out he came from Agawam MA and went to UMass Amherst and Tufts Dental School. So we talked a bit about baseball and the pitiful performance of the Red Sox and life back in MA.

So the technician, does some x-rays and Dr. T pokes and prods. We narrow it down to problem area. It seems that the tooth in question had had root canal sometime in the past. I think about 10 years ago. The second tooth from the left on the x-ray is the one that had the root canal. You can tell it by the lines roots that are all lit up.

So I had choices, another root canal or yank the tooth. I choose the root canal. So the receptionist made me an appointment for 1:30 in Torrance. I figured either way it will cost a bucket of money.

So on my way to Torrance I had some time to kill, so I had the oil changed on the Jeep in preparation for our trip to Lompoc this weekend.

I got to the endodontist at about 1:00 pm. A endodontist is a dentist who drills down deep enough to get to your wallet. So, I had to fill more paper work out. It was about 20 pages of gobbledygook. That finished, I got into the chair. More x-rays. Couldn’t you use the x-rays from Dr T. Oh no, that won’t do. Bah.

So Dr Kwon, finishes the drilling which lasted about an hour. It felt like 4 hours. So we schedule a follow-up for next week. He gives me 2 prescriptions. One for pain and one for antibiotics. Back next week to drill some more. The pain is beginning to ease somewhat. So I had to pay for the prescriptions completely. Pharmacy doesn’t take Kaiser and Kaiser won’t fill Rx’s from doctors outside of Kaiser. Luckily the prescriptions weren’t too much.

So, once the work with the Endontist is done, it will be back to dentist to get a new crown. $$$$

So I finally was done. Got home at about 4 pm. Took a pain pill and laid down until Mike and family arrive.

All done.


September 4, 2015

 Today was a good day. Paula took Mary to get her hair done at Rose’s in San Pedro. I walked her down to the elevator and waited for Paula to pick her up. On Friday, Mary has a pretty much standing appointment to get her hair done. Paula catches up on all of the gossip/dirt going on in San Pedro. I swear that a hairdresser hears more than a priest/confessor. And she is under no obligation to keep it secret.

So after Mary was done, Paula took Mary to her favorite fast food joint (El Pollo Loco) to get her tortilla soup and a salad. I got a text from Paula asking would I like to join them? I said that I would. Shrimp and chicken enchilada  for me.

We found out that the strip mall where El Pollo is located is undergoing major reconstruction. That meant that parking was a bit of a hike from the restaurant. Mary managed the hike just fine.

I think that the diarrhea has been resolved. Mary is eating better. We are trying to limit her sugar and milk/butter fat. That may be a lost cause. I read somewhere that taste buds in older people degrade over time so that they only can tastes sweet. Anyhow, we are pushing the yogurt. She had been drinking herbal tea instead of coffee which means less caffein. Our grandson Jonathan calls it “purple tea”. It is sort of purple, so purple tea it is. We’ve stopped buying Coke and Dr Pepper.

So Mary was reading the newspaper and read about the LA County Fair. She talked with Paula about going. Paula told her not until you have a lot more stamina or we get a wheel chair. Mary will absolutely not be seen in public in a wheel chair. Besides, the LACF is a two hour ride each way. Add the time spent at the fair, (say a couple of hours) and you have pretty much blown the whole day. We have also told her no trips until you manage to get to church on Sunday and Bible study on Wednesday. Sometimes she needs a gentle (or not so gentle) push to get her to do stuff.

Next week we will be taking her up to Lompoc for our son Mike’s promotion ceremony at Vandenberg AFB. It’s about  three hour drive. We’ll see how that goes. We have a suite reserved for us.