Archive for June 2018

Abbreviations

June 25, 2018

The other day I received a comment asking what “TTFN” stood for? So I thought I would do a post on abbreviations that I commonly use.

Winnie_the_Pooh_and_the_Blustery_Day_posterTTFN stands for Ta Ta For Now. The phrase first appeared on British radio back in the 1940’s. It also appears several “Winnie the Pooh” episodes spoken by “Tigger”. Here is the wikipedia entry.

Here is another pointer to all things about “Winnie the Pooh“. And stuff on IMDB.

Okay, that’s enough on TTFN. Here are some other abbreviations:

  • SP = San Pedro (Community south of Los Angeles)
  • RPV = Rancho Palos Verdes (West of SP)
  • LB = Long Beach
  • SB = South Bay (several LA communities around LA Harbor, SP, RPV, LB, Torrance, Harbor City, Lomita, etc.)

 

Solo

June 24, 2018

SoloLast  night was date night. We went out to see “Solo: A Star Wars Story” at the Regal theater in Rancho Palos Verdes. Paula liked it. I  had mixed emotions about it. It had lots of shooting and blasting. It had a new Han Solo and a new love interest. It had a new wookie and a new Lando Calrissian. It seems that all of the characters from the original were introduced. They seemed to be in some sort of battle for some contraband or something. I never quite figured it out. Just a lot of loud mayhem.

So the film was directed by Ron Howard. Howard sure has a large body of work.  He sure has grown since his days as “Opie”.

Woody Harrelson had a big part in the movie. When I first saw him in the movie, I thought. to myself, is he still working? First saw Woody in “Cheers” back in 1982. I had to ask Google, “How old is Woody Harrelson?”. The answer: “57”. Pretty good action for an old guy.

2018-06-23 20.27.51So we saw the film in the “Regal Cinema” in RPV. This theater is equipped with big, comfy recliners. Ticket price a bit more than the regular ticket prices, but worth it. If one pushes the seat all the way back one might fall asleep. Though, not likely with all the shooting and fire works.

One other thing about Regal. I had purchased tickets in error for Friday rather than Saturday. I talked with manager and he gave us two coupons for a future show.

Another thing. The theater seemed to run the audio real loud. To my mind, too loud. It makes a lot of the dialog muddy. My hearing aids don’t help. In fact, they make it worse. Luckily for this film, one doesn’t need to catch all of the dialog.

Picked up chicken at KFC on the way home. Didn’t taste very good. Hate to spend big money at a restaurant when I know it will probably taste like crap. Took it home. Had a glass of wine. To bed.

2 More Weeks

June 23, 2018

2018-06-22 12.21.46Two more weeks to go. Nine treatments. I get the 4th of July off for good behavior. We’ll probably go to lodge for a cook out and watch the fireworks over LA Harbor.

So this post is going to be a little bit about Mary. She continues her long descent into the abyss. She remembers nothing. I told Paula that I wish that Mary could at least once say to me, “How did your radiation treatments go today?. But she can’t, sigh.

On Friday, she asked Paula, “How did your day go?”. You see, Paula spent most of the day with Mary to take her for her hair appointment at the beauty shop and the ice cream place to get her a chocolate shake. (Frappe for you guys in Mass.)

Last week Thursday was cancelled due to all of the machines being down. So they added one additional day to my schedule. I’ve noticed some hair loss around my left cheek and under my left ear. I was just standing under my hot shower the other morning when I noticed that there wasn’t the usual morning stubble on my left cheek.

Doctor gave me a Rx for some sulfa cream for the infection under my left ear. Seems to be improving.

So today is date day. We went to the grocery store for shopping. Got my usual Starbuck’s iced coffee with a chocolate croissant. Very tasty. As I’ve said before, chocolate is one of the few things that still taste good.

We’re going out to the movies tonight to see “Solo”. Then tomorrow church, diner, crossword puzzles, etc. Then on Monday, back on the merry-go-round.

TTFN,

Joe

20 Down, 10 More To Go

June 19, 2018

Okay, I’ve reached another plateau. I’ve finished 20 radiation treatments and I have 10 more to go. My sense of taste as left the building. Most everything is bland and tasteless with one exception. Chocolate! Specifically, chocolate ice cream. I particularly enjoy Ben & Jerry’s “Chocolate Fudge Brownie“. I’ve lost about 12 lbs since I started the treatments.

CFB_1_Desktop

2018-06-18 12.32.12I took a picture of our bus driver on Monday. She is so sweet and encouraging. Her name is Thelma. She greets everyone with a beautiful smile.

Right now we have about a dozen people riding the cancer bus. About 2/3 of the riders are women, mostly being treated for breast cancer.

I was talking with one lady who told me that she had been on the bus about 8 years ago when the ridership was at about 20 people. Ridership count is an interesting metric of cancer treatment success.

So on my ride up to Hollywood and back I have been listening to “Ulysses S Grant” by Ron Chernow on the Audible app on my phone. I am at chapter 24 out of 45 chapters. It’s a very interesting book.

Oh, and a couple more thing that still tastes good. Martinis and wine.

I’ll sure be glad when this is all done.

Half Done

June 13, 2018

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

June 3, 2018

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

June 3, 2018

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.