Like endless rain into a paper cup

As you probably know, we had a very hot summer this year in Portland. During one heat wave, temperatures reached 107 on some days and didn’t get below 75 at night. Round about that time I found myself thirsty quite a lot. It was hot and our air conditioning infrastructure is lacking so I thought it was because of the heat that I was drinking so much water. Around about the same time I also started urinating much more often than I had ever before. Again, I chalked it up to the heat and increased water intake but I still noted a couple of events that were unusual. First, one night I woke up having to urinate which is something that almost never happens to me, especially if I go to the bathroom before I get in bed. Soon it was happening to me every night but I still didn’t put it together.

I also felt incredibly tired most of the time. The last few hours of work each day were very difficult and I would often end up in the comfy chair a few feet from my office, watching MSNBC’s political block. The fatigue had arrived rather gradually and I didn’t really notice it until our Family Camp with Troop 820 in June. When walking long distances there was difficult in terms of muscle fatigue, I chalked it up to the altitude and the weight I had recently gained. It got worse and worse all summer but even these were not clue enough for me.
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Blowing through the jasmine in my mind

With only two weeks of summer remaining it’s high time I updated you about what’s been happening in the Ring household.

For the second year Troop 820 (Thomas’ Boy Scout troop) held an unofficial “family camp” in June. If you recall, last year we went to Idaho for three days of biking. This year we drove to La Pine, OR, where we camped in the “high desert” at 4100 feet. I was huffing and puffing there for two days before I realized that the altitude was the problem. During a bike ride to the shower I figured out that deep breaths counteract the lack of oxygen. Once I knew that, I no longer dreaded getting off my ass and walking to the next campsite. While we were there, the boys enjoyed a long bike ride and floating down the Deschutes River. It wasn’t really that warm but I think the altitude made it feel warm.
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The moon is in a phase and I guess that I am too

Last night Graham and Thomas had their final orchestra concert of the year. In anticipation of the event, several months ago I invited my mother to visit us at this time so that she could attend. Graham’s fourth grade orchestra was the first to play and they did a very nice job of showing how much they had improved during the year. After they took their bow, they all started off stage to make room for the fifth grade orchestra. As Graham stood near the edge of the stage waiting for the rest of the kids to move, he chatted and laughed with his nearby friends. I looked away for a second to talk to Tina and then we heard a crash in front of the stage followed by a gasp from the audience. Somebody fell. Tina asked, “Who fell?” Scanning the group near the commotion, I realized Graham was no longer on stage. “It’s Graham!” I told her as she stood and then rushed down the stairs to the stage.

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Road Trip 2010 revisited

Awhile back I wrote about a potential future road trip we might take in the summer of 2010. The intent was to visit family and see the sights along the way on a trip that encircled nearly all of the continental U.S. According to my calculations then, the trip would involve 16 days for just the driving, never mind time taken for family and recreation. Given the unlikelihood of having 4 weeks of vacation by next summer (I have about 2 days at this moment), here is a revised itinerary:

  1. Portland
  2. This 1326 mile length will take two days. Stopping point will likely be Salt Lake City.
  3. Colorado Springs (Tina’s dad, Leroy)
    378 miles/5.5 hours
  4. Albuquerque (Jan and Tom)
    1010 miles/14 hours
  5. Houston (home to Tina’s grandfather, TQ)
    354 miles/6 hours
  6. New Orleans (stopping in Baton Rouge to visit my nephew, Wally, for a few hours)
    546 miles/8 hours
  7. Jacksonville (stopping in Pensacola to visit cousin Beth)
    139 miles/2 hours
  8. Savannah (Mardy and Steve)
    765 miles/12 hours
  9. Cleveland (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)
    344 miles/6 hours
  10. Chicago (various sights)
    377 miles/6.5 hours
  11. Riceville (stopping in Dubuque to visit my old friends, the Sunleafs
  12. This stretch of 1800 miles is a two or three day drive. Stopping points will be dynamic.
  13. Portland

That reduces the trip to 12 or 13 driving days. I would expect we would take extra days in Cleveland and Chicago and have all the equipment for your kids, although we could see the HOF in the morning and drive to Chicago in the evening. We’ll also need several days in Riceville for a probable family reunion.

She scratches a letter into a wall made of stone

The boys have been on Spring Break since the middle of the week before last. Thomas had a tremendous amount of homework for his reading class that he needed to catch up on. Some of that was from the week he missed while out sick but most of it was not. He’s supposed to read for 20 minutes a night and then spend 10 minutes filling out a little form about what he read. He has to do those six times a week and was behind seven weeks for a total of 42 reading logs. Because of that, he was also a bit behind in math and social studies. Thus, Thomas has spent most of his spring break doing homework.

I picked up Halo 2 from Half.com for $10 a couple of weeks ago. Since then the boys and I have been enjoying it tremendously. After Graham finished it, he asked me for my Halo 1 disc for Mac which he finished a few days later. Nothing brings a family together quite like killing aliens.

As a reward for finishing all his homework, we took Thomas to Best Buy last night and bought Halo 3 for him. Tonight he’s celebrating with his friends Ziad and Gabe by playing Rock Band and Halo 3 on our Xbox. They are quite raucous but they will hopefully quiet down as the night progresses.

Transoceanic depth in this earth in this cenotaph

It’s been three weeks since Tina’s surgery and she is still recovering. Her mom, Jan, stayed with us for a couple of weeks and was a tremendous help, but we’re on our own again now. We’ve all gotten into a routine since she left, but we’ll be glad when Tina is back to full strength again. She’s frustrated with the speed of her recovery but glad that she already feels better now than she did before the surgery. She’s looking forward to an active spring and summer with our family.

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Netflix again

Back in 2003, we dropped cable TV in order to save money when I was unemployed. When my employment became stable again, I decided against monopolistic and customer-unfriendly Comcast and signed up with DirecTV. Part of the package included a dual-tuner Tivo with which I immediately fell in love. It didn’t take long before I had used up the 50 hours of available space and started to feel the pressure to watch my shows before they disappeared. As a result we dropped our Netflix subscription since we were watching Tivo all the time and never had time for DVDs.

2009 has brought the advent of the HD age to our household and things are changing in our content consumption. Before I purchased our new LCD TV at Costco, I promised myself that I would not spend a bunch of money after to make all our content HD. In fact, the main reason we got the TV was because of the Xbox. The impending HD switch-over was a consideration but not a big one because DirecTV provides our television content and they will continue to provide the same service for some time.

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I read the news today, oh boy

Monday, January 26, 2009

0600:
iPhone alarm wakes me with “Sonar”. I get out of bed, put on yesterday’s clothes and check Thomas’ room. His alarm clock is rumbling but he is not in his room. I wander around the house looking for him until I find him in bed with his Grandma. I wake him. I take my iPhone into the Big TV Room where I check mail, Twitter and Facebook.

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You with your angel face

On this historical day our little family is going through a little bit of personal history. As I write this, Tina is in the operating room undergoing a hysterectomy. As many of you know, a couple of weeks ago Tina had what I described then as a “severe gynecological episode” which resulted in great loss of blood and a trip to the emergency room. After spending a night in the hospital and consulting with a new set of doctors, we concluded that her old doctor would no longer be treating her. For over a year she’s been having problems with irregular and lengthy menstrual cycles and her doctor insisted on treating her with hormones in the form of birth control pills. That treatment was ineffective and the ongoing condition resulted in frequent migraines, anemia, worsening a of her restless leg syndrome and a myriad of lesser symptoms. This all culminated in the middle of December when Tina’s period started and hasn’t stopped since. And so she is in the operating room now.

They are going to attempt to perform the procedure vaginally in order to reduce recovery time. However, if there are complications (details of which were explained to us but I cannot remember), they will make an incision for a laparotomy. They are equally prepared for either.

Tina’s mom arrived last night and will be helping out over the next week or so as Tina recovers. Since I’m working from home, I’ll also be able to help more than if I weren’t. We are lucky.

Update (13:00 PST): Tina is out of recovery and resting in her room. Pain medication is making her drowsy but she’ll probably be up for calls and visitors this evening. She’s in room 2406 at Adventist.

Update (14:00 PST):┬áThe doctor reported that the surgery went well. She called it an “assisted laparotomy”, I think. As I understand it, they made two small incisions to assist in the removal via vagina. Also, that last sentence is all kinds of wrong.