Wednesday, November 29, 2006


For years I worked in the computer industry. Either as a hardware technician, or as a programmer. During the years I spent as a computer hardware technician, I was going to night school for computer programming and working any number of part time jobs so we could send our four kids to Christian School. About the time our oldest started college, I was able to get a job as a programmer.

Because working with computers and going to school for programming, I found other ways to spend my free time. I would garden, ride my bike, go to the gym, or go swimming. I rarely turned on my computer at home unless it was for work or school. So I never got into playing games, or doing puzzles on the computer. That is until I retired and tried my first Sudoku puzzle.

I must admit that I was skeptical and kept telling myself that:

1. "This is a waste of my time."
2. "There is no way that I am going to like this."

Imagine my surprise when I found out I enjoyed the challenge of solving the Sudoku. I knew I enjoyed the challenge of solving a difficult computer hardware problem, or creating computer programs.

So now I make certain to spend time each day working Sudoku puzzles on my computer. I do this because I feel it is important to keep busy. As my body weakens and I am no longer able to fold the clothes or do dishes, the Sudoku puzzles give me something to look forward to doing. The nice thing about doing these puzzles is I can start one, put it aside, read the paper, do emails, IM someone, and then go back to the puzzle. The Sudoku puzzle I have ranges from level 1 easy, to level 10 difficult. I am now working on level 6.

My son J. sent me a link to a Sudoku site that explains strategy and theory. Today I started reading this site's information and trying to apply it to my game. I haven't master this yet, but I am working on it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I'm back

Well it's been over one week since I've posted anything. The reason for this is because I've been in the hospital with pneumonia. On Friday November 17 K. came home from college in the early afternoon. We visited catching each other up on each other's news. P. came home from work and we sat down for supper. About halfway through supper, I started feeling short of breath. Finally I asked P. to help get me to bed.

2 1/2 hours later, P. came and took my temperature. It was 100.6. So P. called my doctor, who said to take me to the ER. By the time I arrived at the hospital, I had a temperature of 101.9. So began my stay in the hospital. I was on IMCU for four days.

Of course the doctors, I had 3 of them, were all busy ordering blood test, sinus CT scans, chest X-Rays, Sputum cultures. Unfortunately for my, or maybe fortunately, they discovered that my hemoglobin was dropping like a rock. So an upper and lower GI was ordered. What fun.

After everything was done, the doctors were left scratching their heads. They said "well maybe I had the start of pneumonia. But maybe not." The sinus CT scan came back clean. The chest X-Ray came back with what looked like the start of pneumonia. The upper and lower GI came back clear. I think that is good news.

Anyway I managed to make it home in time for Thanksgiving. My second son J. was in charge of Thanksgiving this year. He came up with the menu, and assigned items to all who would be at our house for Thanksgiving. He was in charge of the Thanksgiving turkey and so fixed an Apricot Glazed Turkey with onion and shallot gravy. He also fixed a Dried Fruit Stuffing. So along with the turkey we had a delicious meal with a number of home made pies for dessert.

While I was in the hospital J. and I started talking about going in together and buying a smoker. Friday morning he and I started looking throught the ads and soon found a Brinkman smoker for the amount we wanted to spend. So off J. went to pick it up. Friday afternoon, C. went and purchased a 5 pound ham and some chunk charcoal and an electric charcoal starter. Also Friday afternoon, P. fixed Sweet Potato Pie with the leftover turkey for Friday supper. Her Sweet Potato Pie makes waiting a whole year for Thanksgiving worth it.

Saturday morning, I supervised the marinating of the ham. Saturday afternoon I supervised the smoking of the ham and two large onions. The supervising is easy, I just sit in my wheelchair and watch the boys. I have never had home smoked ham before, but let me tell you it is delicous. Now I am looking forward to having the boys home again so that we can smoke other foods.

Well I hear the mail truck outside so I think the time has come to close this ramble.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Yesterday my brother C. sent me this story about happiness.

By David Martin

(CNN) -- The next time you are deciding between ice cream and cake, buying a car or taking a trip to Europe, accepting a new job or keeping your old one, you should remember two things: First, your decision is rooted in the desire to become happy -- or at least happier than you are now. Second, there's a good chance the decision you make will be wrong.

Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert summed up our failings this way: "People have a lot of bad theories about happiness."

It's not for lack of trying. The Declaration of Independence affirms that we have an inalienable right to pursue happiness, and it's something we do with a vengeance.

Americans will spend $750 million on self-help books this year and more than $1 billion on motivational speakers. More than 100 colleges now offer classes in positive psychology -- the science of happiness. With all those resources focused on achieving happiness, we should all be brimming with joy. (Watch paralyzed man describe how he stays so happy -- 2:12 Video)

So where do we go wrong? Gilbert, author of the recent book "Stumbling on Happiness," blames our culture, our genes and our imagination.

Our culture implores us to buy bigger, newer, better things, but research shows "stuff" does not buy happiness. By and large, money buys happiness only for those who lack the basic needs. Once you pass an income of $50,000, more money doesn't buy much more happiness, Gilbert said.

Our genes hardwire us to reproduce, but children have a small negative effect on happiness, research shows. If you're a parent reading this, you're most likely shaking your head. But Gilbert said the findings are clear when parents are asked about their level of happiness in the moment.

"When you follow people throughout their days, as they're going about their normal activities, people are about as happy interacting with their children, on average, as when they're doing housework. They're much less happy than when they're exercising, sleeping, grocery shopping, hanging out with friends," Gilbert said. "Now, that doesn't mean they don't occasionally create these transcendent moments of joy that we remember as filling our days with happiness."

Finally, our imaginations fail us, Gilbert said, because when we envision different futures we see either perpetual gloom or happily ever-after scenarios. In fact, neither unhappiness nor joy last as long as we expect. As you've probably guessed, winning the lottery will not guarantee a life of bliss.

By the same token, becoming disabled does not relegate one to a life of unhappiness. The disabled spend their days about as happy as the general population, according to Gilbert.

So what makes us happy? In general, the older you get the happier you get -- until you reach very old age.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, the happiest age group is men 65 and older; the least happy: men 18 to 29.

The survey also found:

# Married people are happier than singles.

# College grads are happier than those without a college degree.

# People who were religious are happier than those who aren't.

# Sunbelt residents are happier than other U.S. residents.

# Republicans are happier than Democrats -- but both are happier than independents.

Nancy Segal, a professor at California State University, Fullerton, has spent her professional career studying twins and happiness. We all have an innate level of happiness, Segal said. The best we can do is boost our happiness a little bit above this natural "set point."

With that in mind, Segal said we should pass on buying lottery tickets and find small things we can do every day that bring us joy, whether it's going for a walk or cooking a meal or reading a book.

Robert Biswas-Diener is called the Indiana Jones of positive psychology because he has traveled the globe looking at happiness in different cultures.

"There is good evidence that people express at least some fundamental emotions like disgust, anger and happiness in a very similar way all around the world," Diener said.

Diener, who also is a life coach, says happiness from the most traditional cultures to the most modern depend heavily on close family and other human relationships.

If you want to do a better job predicting how happy something will make you, said Gilbert, the Harvard professor, you need to remember we are not so different when it comes to happiness.

"If I wanted to know what a certain future would feel like to me I would find someone who is already living that future," he said. "If I wonder what it's like to become a lawyer or marry a busy executive or eat at a particular restaurant my best bet is to find people who have actually done these things and see how happy they are.

"What we know from studies is not only will this increase the accuracy of your prediction, but nobody wants to do it," he said. "The reason is we believe we're unique. We don't believe other people's experiences can tell us all that much about our own. I think this is an illusion of uniqueness."

And if you're trying to decide between the new car and the trip to Europe, Gilbert said take the trip.

"Part of us believes the new car is better because it lasts longer. But, in fact, that's the worst thing about the new car," he said. "It will stay around to disappoint you, whereas a trip to Europe is over. It evaporates. It has the good sense to go away, and you are left with nothing but a wonderful memory."

I wonder:

I've read, pondered, reread and pondered some more and I don't think this article addresses the basic question of what happiness is. The more I look at this article the more it looks as if the author had to come up with a certain about of column inches. So he strung together a series of sentences. When one really looks at this it appears to be an article that doesn't define his main term "Happiness".
This article makes me think that either he doesn't know the definition of the term, or is talking about an allusive state of being. If happiness is an allusive state of being, how does one know if and when they have achieved happiness?
I think that happiness is the ability to be content with and being able to enjoy ones current life's circumstance. Now does this mean that a person doesn't strive to change their circumstances? No it does not. I believe that as a person moves through live, external events will cause their circumstances to change. Even if a person does not want their circumstance to change.

So what is a person to do? Well as ones circumstance changes, a person should learn to adapt to the new circumstance. Learn to find contentment in that circumstance. Learn to find ways to still enjoy the changing life circumstance.

I believe there is a saying along the lines of “if live deliveries a load of apples, learn to make apple pie.”

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Well after my rant of yesterday, I am now feeling good. I just got back from my Internist. While he had nothing to say about my being tired. He did say that he thought the reason why my inner cannula smelled so foul a week ago was that I was getting another Pseudomonas infection. Especially because it cleared up after the Pulmonologist started my on Augmentin. I asked the Dr. if it was possible for Pseudomonas to attach to my replacement hips. He said unfortunately that it was a very real possibility. Not exactly the answer I wanted to hear.

He was happy that I've managed to keep my weight to the same level that it was last year at this time.

How can I be certain of this while being in a wheelchair? Well let me tell you. I get the bathroom scale out and park my wheelchair in front of the bathroom counter. Now with the wheelchair behind me in case I fall down, I stand up and lift each leg up and place them on the scale. I then let go of the counter, while watching the scale. Not something I want to do often, but once a year isn't too bad. Especially after spending a year with a rather strict diet.

I knew my "Angry Rant" wouldn’t last too long. They never do. I think it is that I just get frustrated sometimes. I had a great visit with P.'s cousin who drove me to the Dr.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Angry Rant

I don't know why I should feel angry lately, but I've been really angry. I think it may be because I am getting frustrated by my increasing inability to do things for myself. Anytime I try to do something, I either drop things, spill things and end up gasping for air and feel SO tired. Talking on the phone is getting to be harder and harder. Even short phone conversations are getting harder and harder.

So do I give up? Should I just sit in my chair and wait for P. to come home from work? Should I dump more and more responsibility on her? Have her help me get washed up, dressed, undressed, make meals, set the table, load the dish washer. The list goes on and covers all aspects of my life.

I tell the doctors that I am always tired and seems to tire easier and easier. They just listen and don't say anything about my tiredness. They just order sputum cultures and blood work. However, these tests don't seem to contain any answers.

In addition to being tired all the time and having no energy to do anything except sit. I seem to be packing on the pounds. So now I don't like my body. The dam thing won't do what I would like it to do.

I think that it bothers me that P. and I never seem to talk anymore. After supper she cleans up most of the meal and dishes and goes and sits by her computer. I on the other hand sit in the den and do my Albuteral. After which I am so exhausted that it is time to get ready for bed. However, if she does sit in the den, we don't talk because I don't have the energy to talk. So I feel like I am going round and round just circling the drain.

Well maybe this rant will help me feel better. Although I must admit that it hasn't yet.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lunch visit, and baking cookies

Yesterday we went to a friend for lunch. She built a new house and we finally found a time when we could get there. It is a beautiful house. It is out in the country on an acreage with a small pond in the back yard.

After a light lunch our friend visited with P. and her oldest daughter and I made caramel Chocolate bars. They were so good that I am trying to get the recipe. However, as usual I talked so much that after three hours, I almost collapsed and ended up on her couch for a hour long nap.

So after being so busy yesterday, it was church this morning, and after church lunch with a friend whose husband is down south working on Katrina damaged home for three weeks. Then later this afternoon we have Bible study in our house.

I think I will be exhausted tomorrow.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Two years ago last month, Dad's computer had trouble. So within a couple of hours after I talked to Dad about his computer, he called me back to say that he was coming here with his computer. He stayed here for about a week while I fixed his computer and he and I fixed the squirrel problem.
For years we had an old bleach bottle on the bird feeder pole to keep the squirrel off the bird feeder. Well two years ago it wasn't working anymore. So we bought a new squirrel guard and one warm October afternoon Dad helped me install it. It worked like a charm, no more squirrels getting the bird food.
However, yesterday morning, I noticed this big fat squirrel sitting on the feeder scattering bird food all over. So I opened the patio door and yelled at him. He just looked at me and continued to scatter bird seed. I got mad and opened the garage door and putting my wheel chair in high I tore around the side of the house and made him run off. However, I was no sooner back in the house and he was back on the feeder. That is when I noticed that the squirrel guard had slipped down the pole allowing them the squirrels to jump past it and gain access to the feeder.
Back outside. Only this time I had some tools with me and I raised the guard. Now the squirrel sits on the ground and looks at the guard.
Anyway all of this reminded me of all the fights dad used to have with his bird feeder and keeping the squirrels off of them. It also reminded me of the "Squirrel Wars" letters we all exchanged a number of years ago.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My busy Tuesday

Let's start with Monday. When the Home Care person came, just before starting my shower, she mentioned that her little boy at home had a cold and that she thought she was getting it. I sent her home and stayed in my PJs all day.

Tuesday the Home Care company sent another person. She works as an aid in one of the local hospitals. She really was good. I would like it if she would be permanently assigned to me. She came just minutes before the Home Health Nurse came to take a sputum culture. Over the weekend we noticed that my Inner Cannula has a lot of reddish brown sputum in it and also has a foul odor. Hopefully the results of this culture will be ready by Friday when I visit my pulmonologist. Also I hope that I don't have yet another lung infection. However, I think I do.

After the Home Health nurse left and the Home Care person left, I did some emailing, and read the newspaper. Then just as I went to get some lunch a friend of P's called and said she would like to come for a visit and would bring some sandwiches for lunch. So she and her 4 year old came over and we had lunch. After lunch we watched a video "The Long Story Short" which is a one hour presentation of the entire Bible.

No sooner had she and her son left when Apria Healthcare showed up to refill my liquid oxygen tank. After Apria left the neighbor walked in asking if I needed a ride to the poll. So off we went to vote. Of course once at the poll I saw a number of people I knew so I visited a bit with them.

What a busy day I had yesterday. Now for some reason I am tired today which is too bad because it is a nice warm fall day today. I really want to go for a walk around the neighborhood, but I'm not going to. I know that if I do I will be exhausted and it will take a long time to recuperate.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday Ramblings

Well I didn't make it to church yesterday. I've been so tired lately, in fact I slept until 7:45 yesterday morning. Then by the time I was showered and dressed, I was exhausted again. So I stayed home and P. went to the 11 AM service.

K got all packed and ready to leave for Costa Rica today. Boy am I going to miss having him around. He was always dropping in for a quick lunch and to watch Law & Order with me while he wolfed down his lunch. He is going to be gone for about 7 weeks back in time for Christmas. At which time he will have to decide if he is going to go back to Costa Rica or stay here and get a job.

There isn't much else going on here today, so I will keep this short.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Help with dressing

Today, someone is coming from Providence Home Care to help me with my shower, changing my Trache drain sponge, and collar. I really don't like having to have this help. I don't like removing all my clothes for a complete stranger, having them wash and dry me and then get me dressed.

I've always believed in a controlled retreat policy. I mean that I always wait until the last possible moment before admitting I have to stop doing something. For instance I worked way past the time my neurologist wanted me to because I could still do the work. However, I gave up driving earlier because I thought it was no longer safe for me to drive.

Now the time has come when it is no longer safe for me to change the Trache drain sponge and collar. So I will have to accept the help. I guess I am like my mother when she had to be in a nursing home. She didn't like it, but she accepted it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Relaxing day

I am having a relaxing day today. This morning I worked on our family website, read the news, checked my email accounts, and played some Sudoku. Early this morning the Home Health Nurse came and replaced my Foley.

I just finished a light lunch and am about to do my Albuteral. Hopefully that will wake me up because right now I could take a nap.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rough Morning

Well as I sit here and listen to A Prairie Home companion I will tell about my rough morning. First thing I got busy talking to K. this morning as he was getting his coffee and heading out the door to work. He headed out the door and I headed to the den to do my Albuteral and read my email. I transferred from my wheelchair to my recliner, got my laptop, reclined the chair and reached for my coffee. NO COFFEE. With all my talking to K. I forgot to take it with me from the kitchen. So I had to reverse the process, get the coffee and start all over.

I was hoping that things would improve from there. I am not certain if they have or not. After breakfast and shaving I took a rest break and read the paper and emails. Then I washed up and started to change my Trache collar and drain sponge. Lately I've been having more and more trouble doing this myself. Changing the collar and sponge require that I go without using my ventilator. I had so much trouble getting my fingers to do what I wanted them to do that I had to keep stopping and connecting my vent. After what seemed like a long time I finally got them changed.

Maybe the time has arrived to have someone come in to help me get cleaned up, change the collar and drain sponge and help me get dressed. P. does this on her day off and on the day she starts late.

I will have to talk to her about this.