Archive for January 2017

Hidden Figures

January 31, 2017

hidden-figuresAnother night out without Mary. We went to see the movie “Hidden  Figures” starring Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Octavia Spencer, and Janell Monae. We were going to see La La Land but the showtimes didn’t work for us.

This is the true story of three black women who worked for NASA in the early sixties as “computers”. This was what NASA called the women whose job it was to do the complex calculations that the engineers needed to vet their work.

One particularly amusing scene when the NASA manager asked Katherine Johnson what was taking her so long on her breaks. It turns out the only “colored” ladies room was on the other side of the campus. She had to run across the campus to do her business. They show Al Harrison (played by Costner) taking the sign down with a sledge hammer. No more colored bathrooms. Problem solved.

The movie is based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly. Great film. Nominated for several awards including Oscars for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Katherine Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 by President Barack Obama.

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Mary

January 26, 2017

2016-12-13-11-00-40Tuesday was Mary’s 93rd birthday. We decided to celebrate by taking her out for lunch at Hof’s Hut in Torrance. She was eager to go. No complaints of dizziness this time. When it’s something that she really wants to do, the dizziness will magically disappear.

Hof’s Hut was one of the places that Paula and her parents went to celebrate anything and everything. Paula tells me the story of going there as a little girl and eating a burger and the juice would dribble down he arm.

So what was interesting about this event? Well, Paula and I noticed another example of the onset of the dementia that has slowly but surely taking hold of Mary. The restaurant was busy and we had to wait for 10 minutes or so for a table.

Once we were seated, the waitress handed us all menus. The waitress took our drink orders. Mary wasn’t too sure what she wanted to drink. So we ordered the same thing that we were going to have. So Paula and I decide what we wanted and put the menus down. Mary is still studying the menu. Waitress comes by and asks are we ready to order. “Give us a few more minutes” we tell her.

The menu was information overload for Mary. Paula jumps in and makes a suggestion. There are so many things in our lives that are taken for granted in our lives. Tasks and functions that to us that are so easy and straight forward. For example, using a telephone or turning on the television. We do it with the ease of pushing a couple of buttons, but for Mary we might as well be talking about walking on the moon. And as time goes on it just gets worse for her.

Her trouble with the menu was just another example of her slide down the oh so slippery slope of dementia.

By the way, she had scrambled eggs with sausage and a cranberry muffin. She enjoyed the meal.

Rogue One

January 24, 2017

So last night, Paula and I finally got out to see a movie. We left Mary home alone sleeping soundly. We went to an early showing of “Rogue One” at the Terraces Cinema. Can’t beat the price. $6 a person with senior discount.  We figured that we would see the show, then pick up a bucket of chicken takeout for dinner.  Got the chicken at “El Pollo Loco“. Chicken was kind of mediocre, but Mary really likes the chicken Tortilla soup. Next time we’ll probably go to KFC.

So the Oscar nominations came out this morning. Rogue One was nominated for sound mixing and special effects. No big surprise there. It’s a good movie but not best actor or best director material. 

There’s lots of action. Lot’s of shooting and fighter shots. So, why no love interest for Jyn? No time for the rebels to have sex? 

So the lead characters are Jyn Eros played by Felicity Jones and Cassian Andor played by Diego Luna. Other sorta well known actors among the cast, Jimmy Smits and Forest Whitaker. Of course, Carrie Fisher was in this one too, although only for a brief appearance at the end of the film.

Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) also made a brief appearance.  Also, cameo for R2D2 and C3PO. Can’t have a Star Wars film without them.

So I was struggling to figure out where this film fits in the whole Star Wars saga. Best I can tell that it is a time just leading up to the original Star Wars, heretofore known as Episode IV. Rogue One ends with the Death Star plans getting uploaded to the Rebel Alliance.

It’s a good film, but as always I have some issues (warning spoilers):

  • Why don’t the empire troopers have better personal armor? Those lasers seem to cut through the armor like it was butter. And while I’m on the subject, why are all the troopers dressed in white? Seems to make them a real good target. Only thing better would be a Red Bull’s eye on their backs.
  • When Jin finally gets the storage device, she climbs up to the top of the tower. She then plugs it in to a storage console that tells her to adjust the antenna. So she heads on out to the end of a walkway and adjusts the antenna. Then the walkway get hit by a laser shot. It seems that the antenna is destroyed. But then she goes back and successfully uploads the Death Star plans to the Rebel ship. How’d she do that without an antenna?
  • Okay, I’m an engineer by training so I know a lot about physics. So I see this portal gateway above the planet Scarif. There is supposedly a force field protecting the surface of the planet. How’s that work exactly? How do the get power to run the force field? It violates all known rules of planetary physics. I know joe, get over it. It’s fiction.

Next week, I think we will try to get to see “La La Land“. Stay tuned.

Dad

January 6, 2017

Today is the 50th anniversary of my father’s death. My brother Rich sent me a copy of a prayer card that he had been carrying in his wallet all these years. I had one word for him “Wow”. Rich, put that back in your wallet and bring it out ten years from today.2017-01-05-13-50-27

My father died of heart disease way before his time. Back then, they didn’t have any good treatments for heart attacks. My father had his first heart attack when he was about 56. He was in the hospital for a few days. He was sent home and told to rest. But that didn’t kill him. 

He was born in February of 1901 in Western Massachusetts. He married my mother on March 3, 1946. My guess is they waited until the end of WW2. Interesting bit of trivia. March 3 is also my birthday (2 years later).

In November of 1966, he went in to the hospital for gall bladder surgery. He survived that surgery but had complications, internal bleeding. So the surgeon scheduled another surgery to fix the leak(s). The second surgery did the trick, ie. it killed him. Cardiac arrest on the table. He was revived but never regained consciousness. He was on life support for about 6-8 weeks.

So I have already outlived my father by about 3 years so far. My Dad never got to see me graduate from college or get married. He never had the joy of meeting his grandchildren.

Sometimes I wonder whether I have my father’s genes or my mother’s. My mother lived to be 89. I’m hoping that I have my mother’s genes. Just sayin’.  Rest In Peace, Dad.

Hamilton

January 1, 2017

Well I finally finished reading “Hamilton”. I had been reading it off and on since this past June. That was a long hard slog. The book runs a total of 800 pages. Though, the main part of the biography runs only 730 pages. It’s a good read and worthy of your time to read.hamilton

So where do I start? I learned so much that I never knew. Here is an excerpt from the blurb on Amazon:

Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party…

Here are a few things that I learned (more than I ever learned in HS History):

  • Hamilton was an illegitimate child born on the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean.
  • Republicans and Federalists despised each other. Much like political parties today. Maybe even more so.
  • The duel that ended Hamilton’s life occurred in New Jersey, because New York state had outlawed dueling. Although New Jersey was in the process of outlawing it too.
  • Both Hamilton and Burr were carried across the East River by (separate) row boats at the crack of dawn to avoid detection by local authorities.
  • Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury (under George Washington)
  • He fought in the Revolutionary War.

So much more. You can read the Wikipedia entry here. But don’t let that stop you from reading the whole book (click here for the Kindle copy)

Happy New Year

January 1, 2017

hny

Well, how’d that happen. Here we are in a new year. Nice, new and spiffy.

So first, an update on Mary. She continues to do well. We celebrated the new year last night with a bottle of champagne. I asked her if she thought she would make it to a new year? All I got was a shrug and a meh. Mary had a half a glass of the champagne. Paula and I finished the rest of the bottle. Didn’t want it go to waste. Sure was tasty.

We continue to be watchful of her condition. Yesterday, she had a nasty dry cough. So Paula gets out here trusty stethoscope and takes a listen to her lungs. That cough could turn into pneumonia in a heartbeat. If Paula were to take her to urgent care, yesterday would have been the day to do it. Urgent care closed today, so she would have to do the ER. But there were no sounds of pneumonia so never mind.

We have a follow up scheduled with her neurologist in a couple of weeks to discuss her recent MRI. We’ll see how that goes.

So this morning, Mary was up at her usual time at about 9 am. Instead of her usual oatmeal, Paula cooked her a scrambled egg. Paula offered her toast. Mary says, “What kind?” Well we have either sour dough or rye. She then says I don’t like either. I tell her that she doesn’t usually eat bread so we don’t get the kind of bread that she likes. She was looking at me with her “Why can’t you read my mind?” look. So, white bread is on the shopping list.

We asked her this morning if she wanted to go to church. The answer is still no. It seems that her mind gets stuck into regular routines. She will go out to get her hair washed and set at the beauty salon. She will go with us to OES meetings. But she won’t do church or Bible study on Wednesday. She uses her dizziness as an excuse, but I think there is a hidden issue that either she won’t or can’t verbalize. So Paula goes to church on Sunday, while I watch football (How about those Patriots?). And I go to the Bible study on Wednesdays. So what will I do once the football season comes to a close? Right, baseball is right around the corner. Spring training starts end of February. Woo-Hoo! Go Red Sox.

2016-12-31-18-47-47So we had an early Christmas with Mike and his family. They were heading up to the SF bay area to visit some of Theresa’s family, then to Reno for fun in the snow. It was fun to watch video of Jonathan taking his snow boarding lesson. He still hasn’t quite figured out the brakes yet. The kids seem to be enjoying the snow.

Starting in January, we are going to start scheduling regular caregiver visits so that Paula and I can get out for a date. Dinner and a movie or something similar. We will initially start doing it every other week and see how that works.

In other news, work continues on our condo complex. They are working on redoing the planters that are in the court yard between units. The planters are being reworked with plants that deal better with drought conditions. They are also working on resurfacing the upper walkways. Roofing is also being replaced. This means that weekdays can be pretty noisy and sometimes dusty. Here are a couple of before and now pictures.

 

But we have had rain on and off the past few days. We really need the rain. We got about 0.5″ yesterday. All work has stopped. That means it is now blissfully quiet. Alas, the rain just delays the work. Probably will restart on Tuesday with a vengeance.