New chapters and new homes

Lately, I’ve had a lack of free time and probably enough pressure to take a few years off my life expectancy, but I’ve finally hit that sweet spot where I’ve handed over my apartment’s keys and all my crap is now moved to my new home, although I suspect it will be closer to Labor Day that anything resembles sanity.

Thanks to a friend putting me in touch with an awesome realtor, I was able to find where this new chapter of my life is taking me. I think, I’m officially in debt up to my eyeballs now, but at least it’s for good reasons. Especially as cost of rent is effectively my largest cost of living, and retirement is another thirty years out, the timing works. It’s just not what I had expected to be doing for a few more years, but life decided on other plans.

I now find myself experiencing something that I’ve rarely experienced in a home: having space! It’s technically little things that make me feel this, but they add up. Things like having enough bathroom drawers to organize things instead of everything on the counter. Being able to create a separate study to use as my computer and game space instead of a desk that’s either crammed next to my bed or into a living room. Things like that really add up after a while especially when you’ve spent most of your life with space as a pure premium in fairly tiny apartments.

When I moved last time, I felt like Paul Atreides in the arc of Dune where he notes that they have entered the time where many will come and seek their life. This time, I feel more like I’ve arrived at Sietch Tabr, an orderly place of refuge. Actually, I’m tempted to incorporate an Atreides banner into my decor, if I can find one I like.

Moving is a process full of many little things. But I’ve generally found it a positive opportunity to revisit how I do things and let my inner pain in the ass out. Yeah, I’m the kind of nut who will go around measuring rooms and planning where things should go and building a vision of what the space should look like and how to mold it to fit desired use cases. I have a feeling, if I ever had a wife she would need to be patient to put up with me, or the same kind of pain in the ass that I am who enjoys bringing order to the chaos of “How will I use this space?”, enough not to stab me with a tape measure 😂

Ahh, it’s going to be fun having a study 🙂

Welcome to the 21st century

It’s taken about twenty years, but I finally feel like I’m living in the 21st century.

Not sure if that’s sad, or if the use of Internet and digital paper replacing things I’ve had to suffer telephones and hardcopy for catching up this much, just proves how much I hate phones 😂.

That said, if we hit the point of the three sea shells and all restaurants being Taco Bell, someone toss me back in the freezer.

Last box

Finally finished going through what seems to be the last box of “Get around to it”. Mostly some of ma’s stuff, or more likely some of her things that I didn’t have time to shift through when I moved. I had considered having it hauled off with some old furniture that I’m getting rid of, but decided it better to go through it and trash stuff. Walking to the dumpster is both good exercise and cheaper, lol.

Glad that I decided to sort through it because of all the things I didn’t expect to find. Most valuable, photos that never made it into the family albums or that have been missplaced over the years. A handful from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s that probably have copies or related photos in the family albums. But also some dating back to the ’50s and ’40s, those kind where you recognize your grandparents and go “Wow, they were young back then!”. There’s even a few of what looks to be grandpa’s masonry work on their house way back when. At least one, I’m guessing dates back to the first generation in America from the look of it. These need to be moved into the albums or perhaps an annex to them.

This is also weighed out by the number of junk found in the box. I’m pretty sure that I just threw out enough refrigerator magnets and little souvenirs from like every vacation ever and countless documents from courses my mother had done over the years that were filled under, “Hmm, might be interesting” and set aside. A few recipes I had wanted to keep. Etc. Probably all the DVDs I knew I had but haven’t found. Not to mention the damn paper shredder that I’ve been looking for for the last 6 or 7 years! Less thrilled of course is when I found the Tribbles we bought back in the ’90s. But nothing is perfect.

Between the patio storage area being cleaned out and the various inside boxes, I think I’m finally caught up with cleaning out my mother’s things. It’s only been 7 years, lol.

Sometimes I wonder

Growing up finances were often tight. Whenever I hear the Juston Moore song “We Didn’t Have Much” and it’s lyric that “We had it all when we didn’t have much”, the break in the stanza often makes me think back. My family didn’t have much and certainly didn’t have that song’s kind of “All” during my formative years, but we had all the things. I always found it amazing as a kid that despite how tight things were, we had 3 TVs and 3 VCRs, which as a little boy seemed an order of magnitude more wealthy than we were by a long shot. Of course the way that worked out is a lot of our things were often rent to own or the bank of grandma, and mine were often hand me down. I didn’t care that my VCR was probably the first one pa bought back in the ’80s, it was just awesome sauce being able to watch VHS off in my own corner. When I was older, I found it more amazing that we had so much given what my mother had to work with. That’s the kind of way it was.

When I got to be older, I noticed the affects of this when observing others. As a teenager, I had come to the conclusion that my willingness to spend $1 was probably closer to how willing most folks I knew were willing to spend $20. Since we had little to work with it was often imperative to spend it wisely, especially for big stuff. Because if we screwed up there might not be the option to take it back or buy another. A lot of times the only options were the cheaper ones and the worse deals, but we still had little cause to complain. Like my first laptop: I had the third cheapest laptop at Best Buy because the cheapest was sold out and the second cheapest couldn’t run FreeBSD. Despite that, I loved that laptop and used it for about six years and a lot of my early programming.

Sometimes I wonder about how this has affected my mentality as an adult. Actually, I think my current laptop best reflects how child hood affected my purchasing decisions. Shion is actually the most expensive laptop that I’ve ever bought. It was very carefully planned and budgeted for. It was very carefully decided how much the cost was worth it to me versus the value for those dollars. Kind of like my dad, I don’t have a problem spending an inordinate amount of money on something to solve a problem, but like my widowed mother, I learned to spend it well when I do.

I also developed a metric for factoring into these sort of problems: value over time. It’s kind of like amortization but the formula is simpler, since there’s no loan interest. When shopping for my laptop, I tallied the cost of the various configurations and its value to me. Then I broke it down based on how many years I might use the system: 3 years, 5 years, 7 years, or 12 years. From experience over the years, I know that the average time I will use a computer for is approximately 6 years. It may be a few years less or a few years more but about 6 years is the average. So, to make it a good deal the value had to be a good deal for the 5 years mark and an acceptable deal for the 3 year mark, and at least balance out by the end of the decade.

Likewise over the years, I developed a concept for obsoleteness of computers. If you buy the cheapest laptop you can get from the current hardware and will use it heavily: it will probably be worth buying a faster cheapest computer in another year or two. By then, you’ll often pass the point where doing a task very frequently becomes enough bottleneck that being able to do that task faster is worth the upgrade costs. Accordingly the opposite is true but with different numbers: buy the fastest machine you can get, and in about 10 years it will be about as good as that ‘cheapest’ option will be, if you replace it with the cheapest machine a decade later. That balances out with the average time I use computers, which is in 5 years in enough things will have changed that if the system isn’t enough of a bottleneck to be worth replacing yet, it will be soon therefore start planning; and if it’s already a bottleneck, start planning.

Moral of this planned obsoleteness is don’t be first and don’t be last to upgrade; rather upgrade when the improvements are worth it. And if everything goes sideways in about ten years, whatever you can afford won’t be any worse than a ten year old computer, lol.

Shion has now been in service for approximately 1 year. So far, it’s proving to be quite effective with no sign of retirement on the horizon. Based one earlier calculations a year ago, in another year it will have proven to be an ok deal; next year it will have proven to be a good deal; by the third year it will be a great deal; by 5 years, I’ll definitely have gotten my money’s worth. Here’s hoping that I don’t drop it out a window or sit on it by mistake 😂.

Rating photos and building remembering albums

By virtue of it being one of the most ‘normal’ weekends in a very long time, I finally cycled back to a task that I’ve been meaning to start since June: building remembering of albums for Misty and for Willow. Normally, I do this sooner after a death but with them being back to back and so much going on, I hadn’t had a chance to start the process.

I’ve started rolling through all of my YYYY/Dogs albums in Digikam and assigning a rating to each based on the following concept:

  • 5 Stars: Best photos (essential)
  • 4 Stars: Good photos (above average / memorable)
  • 3 Stars: Okay photos (average)
  • 2 Stars: Wish it came out better photos (meh)
  • 1 Stars: Low value photos (useless)

My hope being to find the best photos for their albums, and add a few to Corky’s along the way. I’m also thinking that when I finally get to setting up photo frames, I’ll probably use the 4 stars and up to seed the memory cards. Made it as far as 2014, but I know that the rate of my dog photos largely tended to increase year over year as camera sensors got better. So that’s only a small chunk of them. I’m very glad camera sensors improved a lot before they got old.

Aside from feeling like opening the box of tissues I bought after the last family death, I find myself both very glad that they were in my life for so many years and so sad that they’ve all gone on ahead of me. Dunno when I’ll be able to welcome a new furry member to the tribe, but I hope that they will become a good part of life too. Willow, Coco, Misty, and Corky: I’ll never forget you goonies.

Sleep: sometimes more or less

With how much my life of recent months has felt like the old curse often ascribed to the Chinese, of ‘may you live in interesting times’, I am glad that more often, I’m finding myself kept awake by my hopes and dreams for the future than by fears and uncertainties about the future.

But dang it, brain, I’m going to threaten you with a Q-Tip if I don’t start sleeping better!

Perhaps this was an answer

On my way to an appointment, I was making a left turn when someone going straight decided to cut me off and take to the turn lane at throttle, causing me to slow down. A few moments later a car comes zooming out from the outer side of street and plows straight into him. It almost looked like they were aiming to swerve into the wrong side of the street after running the light or something.

Quite literally, a few short breathes could have separated me from disaster if that first person didn’t cut me off. It was maybe the only time I’ve felt like shouting “That could have been me!” at the sight of an accident and listened to my heart pounding in my chest. Plus by virtue of the car I’m driving, Yukari has anti-lock breaks and life back in Newnan taught me to just calmly slow a bit when crazy people do crazy things in turn lanes. Folks turning around the Publix did it so often that such antics don’t even affect me any more. In my old car that lacked ABS, or if I had been a hothead instead of a calm cucumber, I could have ended up joining them. Ditto if someone had been up my butt. I was able to stop abruptly but safely and then get the heck out of the line of fire instead of becoming a third party.

With how hard the past couple years have been, it’s kind of been a reoccurring prayer of mine for the lord to keep walking by my side as he always has; Not to be forsaken. I’m kind of inclined to take this incident as a sign of God’s attitude on the matter, that he’s either right beside or at least has good folks watching over me. Because the only other way I can interpret that moment would be the lord shouting, “Die, mother !@#$%^” and that alternative would be very negative compared to how unscathed I was in such a very dangerous moment. So, I’m choosing to believe the positive of these two points of view.

One of the reasons I believe God is real rather than our world is pure Chaos, is that over the years I’ve had some rather close calls and quite frankly, random numbers don’t like me that much.

Oh, Joy, the hospital too

Peeling ten EKG sticky pads off my hairy chest, really made me hope that the pads are really efficient at connecting the leads and that the glue’s strength isn’t their best quality.

Yesterday while doing a bunch of deep cleaning in the afternoon, I felt unsteady and a bit tingly. Rested a while and seemed to be okay. About an after after dinner, I noticed numbness towards my fingers/hands and when it worked up my forearms, I decided to check out urgent care. Time of night being what it was, they weren’t taking anyone that close to closing. Taking family advice, I went to the ER instead of waiting until morning. Given the proximity to food, I figured my blood sugar must have been up or something.

Discomfortingly, they conducted the triage relatively quickly. It’s the only time I’ve been to an ER and not had to sit around forever, and the first time I’ve ever been to one for myself rather than accompanying a patient. Higher heart rate of 120, blood pressure was something like 140/90, and sugar of 140. But well enough not to be threatening after an un-alarming set of bloodwork and a bag of saline. Things settled down from there enough not to worry them too much for immediate danger. Since the nastier side affects of a stroke didn’t manifest, their figuring is that I was dehydrated and overtaxed myself with the amount of heavy activity. Orders are to drink plenty of water and take it easy over the next three days and follow up with a primary care, who odds are will proscribe a low dosage of blood pressure medication.

I think my momma said it best: getting old sucks. But given the alternatives, I think I’d rather make it closer to 90 than 35. Getting fatter around the middle and living like a couch potato doesn’t quite help. Odds are, this is part of what I get for trying to be more active on my weekends 😅.

On the flip side with the dogs gone, I don’t have any obstacles to searching for a doctor. Aside from that great joy of figuring out which doctor to go to lol.

Misty had to follow our tribe

Yesterday, Misty went on to join the rest of our tribe. As feared, her kidneys didn’t register enough change to give any hope of improvement and she began to get weaker and weaker. She still had the wherewithal to cry and start fidgeting to get up to relieve herself, but needed to be held to avoid darting off and failing with what was left of her motor control. She was far weaker than the previous night and mostly tried to sleep.

With the kidneys shutting down, her waking experience was becoming one of extreme dizziness. I would describe her last night, like being chained to the teacup ride at Disney and not being allowed to get off. That’s really no way to live even if you might have a couple more days before things become painful instead of uncomfortable.

By the time the blood work was done, she was fairly close to a coma and the vet rated her quality of life at about 3/10. I think choosing to say goodbye while she was still conscious and not in too much pain was the best plan we could offer her.

Hopefully Corky, Willow, and Coco can lead Misty to where all the good treats are on the other side of the bridge. If there was ever anyone in our family who loved food more than me, it was you little sweat pea.

Goodbye, Willow

About 12:45, Willow passed away with the vet’s assistance. Her internals were shutting down enough that I don’t anything the vet could do would have done much more than drag out the suffering a few hours, or at worst a few days.

Willow on my shoulder

She had stopped eating and drinking enough that she spent a few days on an IV, and seemed to perk up. Her blood work neither improved nor worsened, so I decided to at least try making it through the weekend. But in a few days started refusing dog food and spent her last couple nights on a diet of boiled chicken and rice. Last night, I think we got about 45 minutes of sleep as she would keep barking and refusing any food or water. This morning she refused her pill wrap with the arthritis meds, something she had previously accepted despite the eating issue. Willow basically spent the morning shifting between barking a few times and going back to sleep. By the time I decided to accelerate the trip to the vet instead of waiting for our appointment, I think her kidney’s were already starting to give out.

Before taking her to the vet, I decided to sit in the grass with her one last time. I think she still had enough awareness left to enjoy that sensation, but was so close to the edge that I was surprised she was still breathing when we made it to the vet. If I didn’t worry what pain she might wake up in, we might have just sat there until she passed.

Willow was by my side from when she was about 6 months old until her end, about 18 years later. I love you little monkey, and I hope when my own time comes that you’ll be waiting for me at the bridge. She was the best girl.