Chuck's  2009 Ramblings...

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01:01:11 0001 Failed to execute CGI : Win32 Error Code = 259


A couple of Sundays ago I went to bed around 9:30 and found myself awake at 10:40 with a searing pain in my back on the left side and a very upset stomach.  I spent the next seven hours in agony. I could not lay down, I was violently nauseous, something I have not experienced since Karen and I ate a bad pizza in San Diego in 1978.  When finally around 5:45 AM I was finally able to lay down, my alarm clock went off for work in ten minutes.  I shut it off and went to sleep for a couple of hours.  Upon waking, I spent most of Monday bouncing back and forth between my primary care physician and the hospital doing tests.  The golden ticket came out and I was awarded KIDNEY STONES.  Arghhhhh!  The CAT scan indicated that I STILL had two on one side and three more boogers on the other side.  So I got a referral to a urologist who gave me a prescription for Flomax which is supposed to widen the little chute from the kidneys to the bladder and some pain medicine for the next time one comes rolling on down.  It has been three weeks and none have come down yet.  I have had to take a 24-hr pee test, that is where you get to collect ALL of your pee for 24 hours and then send a 50ml sample to a lab.  I found out that I collected 2700ml of pee in 24 hours.  That is almost 3 quarts!  Aren't you glad you know that now!  I still have to get an X-Ray done and then back to urologist on November 6th.

And if that is not enough medical woes, I went to change my contact lens prescription and the nice Dr. bumped up my prescription from -11.00 in both eyes to -11.50 in both eyes.  Once your eyes get as bad as mine, the contact lens companies only make contacts in increments of a half diopter.  So the next jump from -11.00 is to -11.50.  The new ones were horrible.  I could see distance in my left eye like crazy! It was really cool!  But I could not focus on my car's speedometer without reading glasses on, and I needed two different reading glasses at work, one for the computer screen and one for working in the back of the cabinets.  I had to keep a pair in the darn Pilot with me!  I tried these damn things for two weeks, then I finally said enough is enough and asked the Dr. to rewrite the prescription for -11.00.  I guess I will have to wait a few years for the ocular orbs to deteriorate sufficiently.

Karen is the incredible shrinking woman!  She walked into her gastro-bypass operation weighing in at well over 16 Stones and is now down to just a tad over 10 Stones.  For those who were too lazy to click on the Stones link and figure out the math, my bride has lost an amazing 188,241 Carats.  She and I have been racking up the miles on our bikes as much as the weather and our schedules permit.  She has picked up a passenger as well.

Karen and Ellie sporting about!

Ellie, Karen and Cameron in hot pursuit.

Karen was lamenting that she had never been to a state fair and that she would like to go to the Virginia State Fair this year.  Cheryl and Cameron didn't want to go with us (understand that as Cheryl - she didn't even tell Ratbert about it - I don't think) so Karen and I drove the 125 miles up North of Richmond and spent a Saturday at the state fair.  I expected quite an agricultural event being that the majority of Virginia is farmland with a significant amount of chicken and hog farms.  I was expecting to see some really outstanding swine!  Boy was I surprised!  I'll bet Rhode Island has a better state fair as far as agricultural exhibits go.  Yeah there was an enormous pumpkin coming in at just over a half ton, but the pigs were disgusting.  They looked just like what a "city-puke" would expect a pig to look like.  Not what a show pig is expected to look like.  We wandered through the "show-pig" area and not one of those pigs looked like it had ever had a bath in anything other than pure mud.  My sister would have had a stroke on the spot.  They did have some impressive goats, impressive in that they needed milked real bad, their udders were so taught I was sure they were in pain.  They had some pretty cool rides at the fair, none of which Karen would go on.  We rode a Ferris wheel and she rode a flying swing and a merry go round.  We watched some jumping dogs perform acrobatic tricks which was neat.  It was a lot of walking and a lot of loud and very rude people at times.  Next year, I need the Dork and Ratbert to go, that way the Dork and I can go on the wild "puke your guts out" rides and Karen and Ratbert can ride the mild rides together.  Here are the shots from the state fair.

Karen going for cotton candy the first thing!
Wonder what your support group would think about this little picture?

One big pumpkin @ 1057lbs.

OK, OK, it's a corny picture of my bride.

Karen enjoying every minute in the flying swing ride!

By the end of the ride she figures she is flying.

Getting ready to scratch another ass's back.

The amusement area of the fairgrounds from atop the Ferris wheel.

My little Goat scratching some other goat's tail!

What the hell?  Alpacas!  Ugly beasts they are, and they spit!

Karen goes whizzing by on her trusty steed, hold on Karen!

This was the second place swine.

This was the first place swine!  You can see it's damn ribs for Christ's sake!
And look at those ratty old ears!

First place pig my foot!
First to make bacon maybe.

During this stretch I wandered up to Tuckahoe state park for the fall star party that the Dellmarva Stargazers host twice a year.  We had two out of three good nights which was nice.  I should have brought home some nice images, however Murphy accompanied me up there.  Just as I was getting set up with my astro-imaging rig, the Losmandy equatorial mount would not slew or track in the DECLINATION movement.  I tried swapping motors between DEC and RA and no help.  I ended up packing the fancy imaging rig away and did visual work with my ETX-LS 6" telescope.  In addition to Murphy I had another companion for the trip, I took Ellie the little Chihuahua with me.  Ellie proved to be a pretty good companion on the star trip.  Very demanding of attention, but also good company.  I could put her in her cage when I needed to in the trailer and she would howl and bark until I would come back and fetch her.  She slept with me in the sleeping bag and did not leave me any surprises inside the camper at all.  She might get to go again someday.

Ellie, my stargazing companion to Tuckahoe this fall.

The casita Star Pod on the left is my home away from home.
Do you think the guy on the right could get any closer? There
was NOBODY on the other side of him!

This ended up being my primary scope for the trip after my imaging rig
quit working.  This ETX-LS 6" worked exceptionally well!

The main observing field at Tuckahoe.

"Farmer Brown" decided to harvest the corn THIS weekend!
Everyone was scrambling to cover their equipment!

Ellie was a good dog and she enjoyed a break from the rest of the mutts.

Dork is doing well she briefly had a falling out with her current squeeze Jesse, but they are now back to squeezin' so she is in synch with life again.  She had a spell where she wanted to buy a new car, but that passed when she came to terms with how much she owed versus how much her car was worth.  She figures she should just hold onto it for a while more.  She is learning about negative equity.  Cameron is doing OK.  If he would put as much effort into school as he does about being popular he would have no problems.  He is a social butterfly, he needs to experience reverse metamorphosis and become a book worm. 

Last weekend I was fiddling around on the Internet with Google Maps and found my dear sister Rhonda's home near Erie Colorado.  They have worked hard and have a beautiful home set down the road a piece from their dairy ranch. Karen and I have always marveled (read that as jealous) at all the room they had in the house.  But then she raised three kids and who knows how many Saint Bernard's, Australian Shepard's, cats, Iguanas and champion show pigs - you catch my drift.  So they kind of needed the room.  

My sister and her husband Gary's abode near Erie Colorado.  Four bedrooms, 3.5 baths, split level, two car garage on a patch of land.

After cruising around her house and checking out the dairy on Google Maps I wandered over to the East Coast and zeroed in on Chesapeake and began checking out our little corner of the globe.  We live in a community that was within walking distance of the schools my kids attended when we first moved there.  That was THE deciding factor when we bought the house.  When Rhonda and I were in school, our bus stop was THREE FREAKING MILES from our house.  And as third and fifth graders we really did not enjoy relying upon our absent minded mother to pick us up.  We walked home on more than one occasion.  As we grew older we came to drive a gray 52 Chevy sedan back/forth with vacuum operated windshield wipers and a heater that worked sometimes.  So having the kids being able to walk to school and have other kids close by to socialize with was very, very high on my list when we bought our house.

The Jagow family is marked by the nice red "J" it is a 3 bedroom 2 bath ranch with a single car garage.  All these images were captured with Google Maps at their deepest zoom-in level.

So being the computer and imaging geek that I am, I noticed that the scale was nearly the same on both satellite images of our respective houses.  Hmmmm, what mischief could I do with this...  Well I soon captured screen shots, sorry Google, but I am not making any money from this, and I began cutting and rotating my house around a bit.  What I found was that I could lay my entire house, including both front and rear yards right next to my sister's joint.

Both houses  and  lots right next door!

So my proposal is that when I win the lottery I get a house moving company to move my house and set it right next to my sisters and we can live next door to each other.  I'll probably leave my sheds and playground equipment in Chesapeake, and can build a new observatory at the edge of Gary's trees.  We can hammer us up a breezeway between the two houses and connect them right up!  We can set us up a big old gas BBQ and I can cook steaks and drink beer until my arteries slam shut!  We can have more than four dogs and two cats!  Heck I think Rhonda is up around a dozen cats the last I heard. 


Less than a month between updates! Whoo Heeee!  As Cameron would yell.  With my bride dropping so much weight I knew the inevitable was coming.  First it was the membership to the YMCA about a month and a half ago, now this.  Let's get bicycles.  We can go riding together.  My first and foremost thoughts on the matter was, where in the hell are we going to put the damn things.  Our single car garage already has four telescopes, one big motorcycle (Karen's bike has been moved to the shed in the backyard), a refrigerator, a table, a workbench, a bullet press (for reloading bullets) and Cameron's and Cheryl's bicycles.  Oh and Cameron's scooter and skateboards and other kid paraphernalia.  With two more adult sized bicycles I wouldn't be able to walk from end to end with out moving something out of the way.  But I can see it in my her eyes, there is no escaping this one.  So on our Friday off together we start the hunt for bicycles.  I started researching adult bikes on the Internet a couple of days ahead of time so that I could "smarten up" a little.  I used to ride a bike back when I was living on Mare Island in California before What's Her Name got her hooks into me, so I kind of had those memories in my mind.  I was kind of set on some kind of a Mountain Bike for me and Karen was looking for a Beach Cruiser.  

At our first bike shop we started getting our current bicycle education, or should I say re-education.  Karen found out that the perfect bike for her was what they call a comfort bike.  This is a bike that the pedals have been moved forward a little and the seat position has been moved back a little and the handlebars are raised a tad bit.  It yields a nearly upright position and allows you to put your feet flat on the ground at almost any time.  Good strong frames and  comfortable wide seats, definitely not a mountain bike though.  That Friday we rode several models.  Karen tested the comfort bikes and I rode mountain bikes at three different bike shops in the area.  We made an appointment to test a certain model on Sunday afternoon at a store in Virginia Beach before we committed.  Karen worked Saturday, so Sunday morning we did all of our grocery shopping chores early so we would have the afternoon clear.  We went to the bike shop and tested the bikes and I decided that I did not like that bike and so we headed to another store we had already visited.  Karen initially picked out a pink bike and had them put a basket on it.  However, while I was test riding about a dozen mountain bikes, she test rode another bike, changed her mind and decided to get a different bike and had them put the basket on it!  I finally chose a nice mountain bike so we paid the big bucks and took them home.  We had already bought a bike carrier that fit our trailer hitch earlier that day.  Once home and unloaded, we rode the bikes on the path around the lake behind our house for a few laps.  On about the second lap it dawned on me that this set of nearly straight handlebars on this mountain bike was not going to be the best thing for my prosthetic elbow.  In fact it was downright hurting.  Now I have to admit that I really liked riding the bike and it WILL be good exercise for my fat ass, but I can't have it screwing up my elbow.  So I have to come to terms with the fact that the mountain bike and my ego are going to have to part ways.  So I pumped some more air into Karen's comfort bike's tires, adjusted the seat up a bit and took it for a spin around the lake.  YES, I removed the damn basket first, and NO I did not ding the bell while I rode it.  But I did find out that it did not bother my arm in the least little bit.  Now I am faced with returning the manly mountain bike to the bike shop and exchanging it for the not so manly comfort bike.  Which is what we did the following day.  I picked out a nice blue one.

Karen's 7-speed Townie bicycle with basket and bell.

My blue bike, also a Townie 21-speed.

Cheryl's new squeeze came down for a visit this weekend.  He is a nice fellow, his name is Jesse and he has a very similar background in the Navy as mine as far as electronics.  He supports a DOD program at Wallops Island near Chincoteague Virginia.  Cheryl met him while she was on Holiday up there with her uncle Dave and his family a while back.

Ratbert is dreading life as he knows it, school starts in about two weeks and he thinks the summer is just to darn short.


This update comes on the heel of what would have been an almost uneventful week.  I initially started to write this update concentrating on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar mission that put the first two men on the moon back on July 20th  1969.  Everyone that was alive and capable of understanding what was going on, remembers where and what they were doing that afternoon.  I was sitting glued to a wooden stool that was held together with bailing wire, watching the events unfold on a tiny portable black & white 10" TV that we had in the kitchen.  My mom, sister, Grandma Helen and I were huddled, staring at the grainy picture we were getting.  My mom kept scolding me for being so close to the TV.  I followed all of the Apollo missions as I had the Gemini and what I remembered of the Mercury ones as well.  I had made model rockets of all them including a multi-stage Saturn V that stood nearly four feet high.

I spent all of Monday night watching the 40th anniversary coverage.  My wife and daughter didn't even think of asking if they could watch the "Bachelorette".  I didn't get to bed until after 1:00 AM.  I still have most of the shows on the DVR.  And for the weeks/months prior we occasionally would catch a glimpse of an ad on TV for the 40th anniversary moon watch from Omega.  I had mentioned to Karen, that it would be something to have.  I found it on the Internet but was shocked at its cost.

This last weekend my lovely bride made my day.  In fact she made my millennium.  We strolled into Jared's jewelry store in Virginia Beach and my wife bought me s/n 415 of 7969 of the Omega Apollo-11, 40th Anniversary commemorative watches. 

Omega Apollo-11 40th Anniversary Chronograph.  

My daughter has asked how I could be so emotional over just a watch.  To answer her I can only say, it's not just a watch Dorkie. The 1969 lunar landing was the most significant achievement mankind has achieved. And I, along with literally BILLIONS of fellow world inhabitants witnessed it. For a few hours that July day everyone watching TV on the planet was one, watching as Neil hopped down that ladder. This watch commemorates that event. This watch is # 415 out of only 7969 ever to be made/sold. My bride gave me something that commemorates that history, history that will always have a piece of me. Believe me this is NOT a "Franklin Mint" special.  

I have only had one other possession that I felt strong emotional ties to and that was a .22 caliber pistol bequeathed to me upon my father's death.  When it was STOLEN from me by the fantastic-duo I swore I would never become attached to a physical object again.  So much for saying never...  

My wife can only guess at the gratitude I have for this gift.  Someday I hope to be able to express it properly to her, as it goes deeper than I can express in words.  But I think she kind of knows it now.



It has been five months since my last update here.  The first significant item of interest is that my sister and I ended up being forced to sell a 35 acre parcel of our land in Colorado so that we could continue to pay for our mother's care at the nursing home.  Believe me, this was NOT the most opportune time to be selling large chunks of land.  Five years ago, we could have sold it for double what it sold for.  Suffice it to say, we were not happy campers.  However, it will give us enough money to cover her costs for almost three years.  At the end of that, we will be forced to sell another 35 acre parcel.  That parcel will be the one I WOULD have built my retirement home on and WOULD have lived the rest of my life on after I retire.  All I can say on that is, Thanks mom for all of your long term planning.  My sister and I had been trying to get our mom to do some planning along these lines for the last twenty years.  But all we got back from her was, "stay out of my business".  Typical from Mary.  You would think she would have learned something from her mother, our grandma Helen.  Who in the fall of 1983 gathered her son and daughter (my mom and uncle Paul) and told them that she was going to deed all of the remaining Montgomery land holdings to them and divide up all of the ranch vehicles and assets equally so that Grandma's financial worth on paper would be less than $2,000.  Which happened to coincide with some important Medicaid thresholds. Grandma Helen managed to go just under twenty years before she ended up having to go into a nursing home.  But when the Medicaid folks came knocking, they found a penniless (at least on paper) old woman, so they had no problems in paying for her care.  When our mom started having some minor health issues about ten years ago Rhonda and I started suggesting to her she should start thinking along the same tactics of her mother.  And as always we were met with "stay out of my business".  As it was for the last ten years, every time we tried to convince her she should start planning for the inevitable, we would get hollered at and told we were just scheming to steal her land.  When mom came down with breast cancer, and the doctors gave her a 15% survival probability because she waited so long before going to the doctor about the pain in her chest, she still would not budge on the issue.  Eighteen months after the initial breast cancer diagnosis when she was found to have brain tumors and was about an hour away from being rolled into brain surgery to remove them she finally relented and signed over her land to her children's SPOUSES.  Yes, she signed the land over to my wife Karen and Rhonda's husband Gary.  Everyone thinks Mary was a grand old lady horse trader.  She was an old woman with severe trust issues with her own children.  Rhonda and I know exactly why, it has to do with the decade we spent living with her up on the ranch after her divorce.  Perhaps someday I will expound upon it here, but not now.  Suffice it to say, that at this point in my life - with the potential loss of my future retirement home looming just two years away, I am not overjoyed with my mother at this point in time.

On April 8th, my birthday, my bride went in for gastric-bypass surgery.  She had been under a physician monitored weight loss program for the previous six-eight months, kept to the prescribed diet and exercise plan but failed to lose the expected weight.  So the insurance company paid for the bypass surgery.  Because Karen has undergone so many previous abdominal surgeries they were unable to perform the bypass surgery laproscopically so she had to have regular cut the gut surgery.  They split her from stem to stern so they could do that cut and paste thing to the stomach and re-attach the intestines.  She was in surgery for about four and a half hours, but it was a success.  They discharged her after only three days, which I knew was a mistake.  After being home for only three or four days she was sick as a dog again and had to be re-admitted for another three day stretch where they filled her with anti-biotic drugs until everything was OK and then sent her home again.

In between the two stays in the hospital I ended up having a run-in with Karen's oldest brother David.  David had offered last fall to store Karen's motorcycle in his shop because we were so tight on space.  This spring I asked Karen to ask him if the offer was still good and he said it was.  So we made arrangements to get the bike over before Dave and Karen had their respective surgeries.  Karen’s bike had been sitting for sometime so I had to buy a brand new battery for it to get it running.  As soon as the new battery was in and charged up Karen and I brought the bike over and left it with Dave. The keys were left with Dave and permission to ride it if he wanted to.  The bike was in his shop a couple of days before Dave had his surgery and there were no reported problems with it.  Dave had his surgery and then Karen then went in for her surgery and when Karen came out from surgery the first time, and after the bike had been at Dave’s now for about two weeks we were told it was leaking gas.  The FIRST conversation on the phone I had with Dave explained  how to turn the gas valve under the gas tank to the OFF position.  A surprising conversation for me to have with Dave, since he has owned and ridden a motorcycle of his own, I would have thought he would know how to shut off the gas supply on a motorcycle.  Even Karen a novice rider knows how to do that.  The second phone conversation I had with Dave was after he had complained to everyone else in the family about how badly the gas had leaked out in the shop and how he had to do something about it.  This call came on a Sunday afternoon when I was tending to Karen who was feeling very poorly from having just been released from the hospital a day or so before.  We discussed how the gas valve came to be ON in the first place.  Dave is sure that I had left it on.  In my defense I can only offer two things, one is the fact that I have been riding motorcycles since 1968, that is over forty years and turning off the fuel supply as you stop is of a reflex nature for me after all those years.  I have never left one on in my own garage so I can’t imagine that after over forty years of riding I would pick that moment in time to have a massive failure of habit.  Secondly the bike sat in his garage for a couple of days BEFORE he had surgery and if I would have left the gas on when we left the bike there it would have been leaking prior to him going into surgery and the problem would have been solved then, weeks before.  Plus Karen and I hung around for about half an hour after the bike was parked in his garage. If the gas would have been left on then, we WOULD HAVE NOTICED THE GAS LEAKING BEFORE WE LEFT.  I proposed to Dave that while the bike was in his garage, he or his friend Ronnie tried to start the bike – which would have required them to turn on the gas.  My guess is that whoever tried to start it, flooded it and ran the battery down to dead and then just left the bike and FORGOT TO TURN THE GAS OFF.  Now, what supports this THEORY of mine, is the fact that I know that I turned the gas OFF when I rolled the bike up onto Dave’s driveway. And when I came to pick up the bike, the brand new battery was COMPLETELY DEAD.  The bike had only been over at Dave’s house for less than three weeks and if you remember I had to buy a brand new battery that was fully charged before we brought it over there.  So, sometime from the time it was left over there and the time I came to pick it up, somebody was fiddling with the bike enough to cause the battery to become fully discharged.  When I posed this scenario as the most LOGICAL Dave exploded at me on the phone and started telling me I was F-cked up and I obviously left the gas on.  I told him that he didn’t have to get loud and nasty and that it was him who had made the original offer to store the bike for Karen.  Then he said I was the ass who asked to bring it over, I said yes, I asked Karen to ask if the offer was still good.  Then Dave said something to the effect of I wasn’t man enough to ask myself. I replied something to the effect that it was a matter of etiquette, he had made the offer to Karen, so it should be Karen who asked.  He then said something to the effect of “using that kind of F-cked up thinking no wonder my son was in prison”.  That is exactly when I hung up the phone on Dave.  Prior to the conversation escalating to that point, I had told Dave I would be over to pick the bike up Monday after I got home from work.

That Monday I went home and threw a few things in the back of my Honda Pilot which I thought I might need, like a spare set of spark plugs, a spark plug wrench and some minor hand tools.  Grabbed a coat, gloves and my helmet and went over to Dave’s house.  I rolled the bike out of the garage and as Dave was shutting the garage door the dog ran outside.  Dave told me to not open the gate until he got the dog inside the garage.  He called and called the dog.  The dog would not come to him no matter how hard or soft, nice or sternly Dave called for him.  It was OBVIOUS that the dog was terrified of Dave. After about five minutes of Dave trying to catch a hold of the dog’s collar, after being very frustrated, Dave went into the garage, I assumed to get some kind of treat or something to coax the dog into letting him catch him.  Dave came out with a pump-up BB/pellet gun and began pumping it several times and firing point-blank at the dog.  “I’ll make that damn dog do what I want it to” were Dave’s words.  I was kind of just dumb struck and just stood there.  He shot that dog a half dozen times less than 12 feet away from it, and most were DIRECT hits because the dog yelped.  I did tell Dave that that was probably not the best way to get the dog to go in to the garage.  I will tell you, the only thing keeping me from taking that gun and shoving it up Dave’s ass for shooting that dog was the fact I was already consumed in anger at him for the comments he had made the day before and the fact that Dave himself was recovering from surgery.  I just wanted to get that motorcycle and get the HELL out of there.  Finally Dave managed somehow to coerce the dog into the garage where I heard more yelping from the dog.

Once the motorcycle was outside of the fence I found out that the battery was completely drained and would not even light the dash lights.  That is when I had to knock on the door and ask if I could borrow a set of hex wrenches to remove the seat screw so I could get access to the motorcycle’s battery so I could jump start it from my Honda Pilot.  When I was done with the hex wrenches I set them on the Bench seat next to the house, as I did not want anymore interaction with Dave.  When I got home with the motorcycle I had Cheryl drive me back over so I could retrieve my Honda Pilot.  When I got home with my truck, I spoke with Karen about Dave shooting the dog and what I should do about it.  I really was mad.  Legally I should have reported Dave at that moment for cruelty to animals.  Animal control would have come out to Dave’s house and inspected the dog and found evidence of the welts on the dog from the BBs/Pellets and Dave would have ended up spending his surgical recovery in Chesapeake jail as that would have been a significant felony, according to the Animal Control officer I eventually spoke with.  But out of respect of Karen, I did not report Dave.  Then Easter weekend Dave was talking with Karen on the phone when he made a bunch of smart-ass comments about the incident.  Well, I am no fool, and no one who is cruel to animals and then laughs about it says “He will just have to get over it” is worth a pile of road kill scrapings in my book so I attempted to report him to Chesapeake Police that day.  They would not take a report until the following Monday.  So on the Monday after Easter, I reported Dave to the city of Chesapeake for extreme animal cruelty with a pump-up BB/pellet gun.  So it is safe to say Dave and I are not buddies anymore.  Anybody who treats animals that way is a schmuck, and now he has ANOTHER dog.  Maybe he needs multiple moving targets for practice?

April 28th the Dork, AKA Cheryl our daughter, went in for back surgery.  So at this time I had two recovering women in the house.  What a treat.  Luckily Cheryl's squeeze at the time, John, came over and spent the week helping the Dork.  You can't believe how totally incapacitated that woman is when she has had a stint in the hospital.  All I can say is John had his hands full.  The next couple of weeks were a little "rough".  The Dork could hardly move about, and the Goat was on a damn near liquid diet.  Ratbert and I were surely in harm's way, but we have all survived.  Cheryl's back surgery went well.  But she continued to have swelling and a discharge from her back wound.  As the weeks went by the wound healed, but the swelling was still there and even more goo was oozing out of the Dork's back.  Eventually it was discovered that she had incurred a staff infection and had to be re-admitted to the hospital and her back was re-opened up and cleaned back out and sterilized to eradicate the staff infection.  So four weeks into her recovery she had to have another back surgery!  This time it healed exactly as it was supposed to.  Swell and drain for a week and then close up with the swelling and draining going away.  Cheryl was out of work for 9 weeks total.  One hell of a vacation eh?

Cameron has been promoted to second grade and is now enjoying his summer off from school.  He spends his day playing and fishing with his friends, a neighbor who watches children looks after him while the Dork is at work.  

The mutts are doing well.  Ellie is almost grown to her full height, we are watching what she eats so that she does not turn into another "Tinkerbelle".  Ellie is proving to be the hardest damn animal to housebreak I have ever encountered.  She still manages to crap & pee wherever and whenever she wants to.  Her favorite locations are: Cheryl's bathroom rug, Bronco's crate and right in front of the door going into the garage.  She loves to chew anything she can, the more expensive the better.  Her favorite targets include Cheryl's new shoes, Chapstick, pens, Cameron's toys, Cheryl's cell phone case and anything left within reach of a 10" high dog that can jump up on damn near anything.

Cameron and I are now members of the South Eastern Virginia Rocketry Association.  One of the members of my astronomy club is a member of the rocket club and invited us out to watch the launch of an eleven foot high model rocket that his middle school students built.  It was awesome!  Ratbert and I went and purchased some new rocket building materials and built a couple new rockets and went and launched them ourselves at Cornland park.  We are going to go launch again when the SEVRA hold another launch event.  I still have rockets we built when Cheryl was about eight or nine!

The Dork had a bad week last week in that her boyfriend decided to dump her after nine months. It took him that long to decide that he was incompatible with Cameron.  Sounds like BS to me, sounds like he is using Ratbert as an excuse to breakup with Dorkie.  My opinion, he must have found another "interest" and wanted a way out.  I have a whole lot more I could say on this subject, but since this is already turning into a mini-book I will just keep it for a another rainy day.

And lets see, while all of the women in the house were getting ready for surgery I found out that I have a partially separated Achilles tendon in my left heel.  I went to three different specialists concerning it and have come away with the conclusion that since I am a fifty something type II diabetic, don't operate on it until I have to.  So that basically means I will continue on walking around taking my short steps, taking it slow on stairs and consuming 600mg of ibuprofen a day until that tendon either completely detaches and I go down hard or I can't climb the stairs at work anymore.  But on the bright side, my blood sugars are down and my A1C and other lab work says I am good!

With Karen losing over 58 lbs. so far we have renewed our membership with the YMCA.  We have only been down there to work out a few times, as I hurt my back two days after we signed up - and Karen is chicken to go by herself at this point.  But my back muscle is back to normal and we should get into the swing of things next week.

Other eventful things that have happened, the Dork had a bit of a "bump" with her car, so she was in a bit of a dither for a couple of weeks or so while it was being fixed and she was driving a rental.  I went to a star party in Maryland at Tuckahoe state park and the surprise event was Belly Dancers!  I also managed to catch some lightening with my digital camera one evening.  Cameron has a play friend that he "swears" is not his "girl" friend, her name is Michaela.  The lady that watches Cameron after school and during the summer watches this little girl as well so they are pretty good friends.  One day Cameron and I decided to see just how many damn pair of shoes his mother actually had in her closet.  There was over thirty pair!  My astronomy club, the Back bay Amateur Astronomers, in celebration of Galileo's 400th anniversary of looking at the heavens with a telescope ordered 100 replica telescopes for the club to sell.  I volunteered to receive them at our house.  Do you know how much room 100 telescopes take up!  It filled our garage.  Luckily I transferred most to our storage unit and the folks who spoke for them have picked theirs up quickly.  Currently I only have about 30 or so of the hundred left.

The following images are in no particular order, but represent various activities that have happened during the course of the year.  Please enjoy.  And I will do my best to update the Ramblings quicker...

Ellie at about two months old.

Ellie today @ 10 lbs.

Ellie sunning.

Ellie and Tinkerbelle.

Scout helping his mother on the Internet.

Ninya, Bronco, Ellie, Tinkerbelle & Scout in the window outside.

Cameron & Michaela.

Cameron & Michaela again.

Ratbert showing off for Michaela.

Dorkie munching on some watermelon.

Dork's car stopped the hard way.

Cameron on the beach.

Cammie fixed mommy breakfast in bed.

Dork & Ratbert.

Cheryl's back partially healed.

Eleven foot tall rocket getting loaded up for launch.

The 11' rocket is hauling butt!

Garage filled with Galileoscopes.

Cameron actually smiling!

All those hours watching the cooking channel paying off?

Chuck positioning his 12" scope for some kids at a school.

They let Rats be Cub Scouts!

Cammie's soapbox derby car.

It may have been plain, but it won 2nd place!

Tuckahoe telescope & trailer setup.

Belly dancers at the Tuckahoe Stargaze!

Electrical storm at Tuckahoe.

Electrical storm at Tuckahoe.

Electrical storm at Tuckahoe.

Electrical storm at Tuckahoe.

4th of July at Karen's brother's house.

Mom & Son sparkle on the 4th.

Cammie says, get me out of here!

Just how many damn shoes does a Dork need?  

There are over THIRTY PAIR HERE!!!!



OK, not a good start, nearly a month and a half in and only the second update.  I have been busy with my new position at work and we have had some not so pleasant happening going on at home that have kept me kind of occupied. 

Let's start this off in the traditional way with a picture of my bride and I as we celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary on January 21st.  

I know the back of her throat is here somewhere?

We kind of planned a low key celebration this year, we were not going to do any big presents - but - then something came over us and we decided that we "needed" another Chihuahua puppy since Tinkerbelle kind of grew a little too big. 

Dork holding the 17 lbs. Tinkerbelle Chihuahua.

We were coming home from the vet after just having an official weigh in at 17 lbs. for Tinkerbelle and Karen was feeling blue because she had originally just wanted a little cute dog she could just cuddle.  Now let me tell you, you can't cuddle a 17 pound Chihuahua, that would be like cuddling a four hundred pound Rottweiler, according to the breed Standard.  Anyway, back to coming home from the vet, we saw a sign on the road for Chihuahua puppies, I looked at Karen and thought she was going to cry.  That was it, we decided that we could probably try another female puppy as an Anniversary present for ourselves.  Karen called the number and they were asking an astronomical price for the puppies, so no go.  Next Karen went and found the Trading Post and started marking ads.  By day's end we had found a new Chihuahua puppy, a beautiful gray and white with peach here and there. 

Daisy, our short lived guest.

Daisy came home at about 10 weeks old and we took her to the vet that Friday for her first round of shots and a check up.  She was a cute and quiet little dog who adjusted well to the other three beasts.  After three weeks one morning Karen was getting her coffee and toast and walked into the front room and found Daisy on the floor between the big dogs elevated food bowls and the TV pedestal laying on her side with her head convulsing.  Within minutes the puppy was dead despite Karen rushing the puppy to the emergency vet right around the corner.  Examination showed no external marks or trauma and the death was probably due to a malfunction in the heart or nervous system.  We did not want to pay for an autopsy so we left it at that, the breeder refused to refund any of the purchase price.  Karen was heartbroken to say the least.  

We missed Daisy, but Karen still wanted to have another Chihuahua puppy so that is how we came to search for another puppy.  And that search ended when we found Ellie.

Ellie, with toes for size comparison.

A rare shot of Ellie at rest.

What the heck are YOU looking at?

I'll bark if I want to.

This is Bronco my surrogate Father.

And Ninya my very own Rottweiler pillow.

So now we are at the Chesapeake legal limit for mutts, no more can come.  Ellie is learning to be housebroken by box like a cat.  The funny thing is we have puppy food for Ellie and the other three beasts want that food and Ellie wants nothing to do with the puppy food, she just wants to eat the big dog food.  The cats are besides themselves with this new development. Scout the outdoors cat is pretty sure he has brought prey home that small, and Tessa is just waiting for the chance to bloody the the puppy's snout when it comes too close.

The Dork is enjoying her relationship with the Gecko-Guy, John.  John, who works at Geico and dresses up as the Gecko lizard for charity events, seems to be a pretty nice guy.  He recently helped Cameron with a soap box derby car for cub-scouts.  Help, that means John pretty much made the car, Cheryl painted it and Cameron helped.  Their car won 3rd place out of fifty some odd entrants though!  Much better than Grampy would have been able to do I am quite sure.

Here are a few more pictures to look at until next time.

Size comparison Tinkerbelle (17lbs) and Bronco (104lbs)

Cheryl & John at Shogun's.

Karen, Cameron and I also at Shogun's.

Who took this?



This is the first update of the year.  I have really taken some crap for posting the picture of Karen and the Dork on Christmas morning, every woman who has seen it says I should be shot, every man laughs and slaps me on the back... Guess I won't be getting any, backrubs - yeah backrubs, that's it backrubs, for a while. 

We woke up on the New Years Eve and I went through my normal get ready for work routine which includes logging onto our bank and downloading the previous day's transactions and balancing the checkbook.  OK, so I am anal about it, maybe I don't like those little things called overdraft charges from What's-Her-Name not writing things in the check register.  Anyway we live in harmony now because I can "catch" the little missed entries and take care of them.  Well on that particular morning I noticed a PayPal charge of $250.  Normally Karen's (see I do know her name) PayPal shopping sprees are for books and things of a nature around $20-$30 so when I see one of a three digit nature alarm bells go off.  Now I know our anniversary is coming up in about three weeks so perhaps she has done something sneaky - but usually she does that kind of activity on her American Express or other credit card so I won't see it until after the fact.  So when she awoke I casually questioned her about it and she was quite surprised and adamant about not initiating any PayPals for sometime.  I had to go to work, so Karen went to work investigating.

She found out that another individual had somehow acquired her email address and Paypal PASSWORD and then promptly sent themselves $250.  Now the good news, Paypal put a block on the transfer, the money did get transferred out of our account,  but only into the PayPal realm - not to the individual.  Then they but a block on Karen's PayPal account so no more transfers could be attempted.

We have been in contact with the PayPal obviously to restore our funds, the city of Chesapeake to file a police report and the FBI cyber crimes division.  We have to wait until Friday the 2nd to contact our Bank as the "fraud offices" were closed until then.

We have since been on a password changing spree for my wife.  And performing account manipulations with our bank.  We have opened up a new checking account that we will keep a small balance in JUST for Internet purchases, so that if some "boob" tries this again they won't get that much money.

The rest of the day Karen and I used to take down all of the Christmas decorations and take them to the storage unit.  The tree is out and the house is back to normal.  Karen has tomorrow off as well, and then has to work Saturday.  Tomorrow we will be taking all THREE BEAST DOGS to the veterinary for some shots and heartworm test, the important thing is we will get an official weight on all three.  I am predicting that Bronco is about 110 lbs. and Ninya is just under a 100 lbs. and that beast Chihuahua is about fifteen or sixteen.

Only one image today :

Cammie's Band  "The Rock"  Caleb - Cameron - Josh.



Jagow's Rest Stop