Homer's Travels: February 2022

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #8

  • Everything went well with my medical procedure last week.  Everything looked good.  Other than a non-cancerous polyp (that was removed) there were no abnormal findings.  Yay.  Barring any unexpected changes to my health my next colonoscopy should be in five years or so.
  • I walked twice this week.  It would have been three times but on Wednesday the windchill was below zero most of the day and I decided to stay inside where it was warm and watch season four of Disenchantment instead.

    A graffiti character I am
    seeing all over Omaha.
    The two walks I did do totalled around 22 miles (35.4 km) so I met my weekly goal.  This coming week I hope to get back to the three hikes a week since the temperatures are going to be springlike.

    I've been seeing more interesting graffiti and street art on my walks lately.  Or to be more accurate, I have started to notice what's always been there.  The character to the left is all over the place.  These three are on the Big Papio Trail not far from my house.  I have seen others in the Dundee, Benson, and downtown areas of the city.
  • This little guy is
    promoting Breast
    Cancer awareness
    When I'm home, and not doing chores, I've been doomscrolling on Ukrainian Twitter.  I am totally confused by Putin's rationale for invading Ukraine, totally surprised at how poorly the Russian armed forces are doing, and totally encouraged by how well the Ukrainian people are fighting the invading forces.  I'm also totally disappointed with how some so-called patriots here in the US are providing support to the Russian invasion and how reluctant our government and allies are to place really painful sanctions on Russia.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice your comfort for your principles.

    To help minimize misinformation and disinformation I'm doing most of my doomscrolling on a curated Ukrainian list on Twitter.  If you are curious, here is the link to the list.  Some of the posts are in Ukrainian or other languages beside English but the Google Translate website and app works wonders.  I especially like the app's camera mode that magically changes the language on signs.
  • Today the Wife and I joined my Mom and my favorite Uncle and Aunt for lunch at Longhorn Steakhouse in Council Bluffs.  While the steaks appeared to be tough (I had the chicken) the conversation was interesting covering the Appalachian Trail, travel, war, politics, and the one topic that becomes more common as you mature, aches, pains, and general health.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #7

  •  I had to restrict my diet slightly in preparation for my colonoscopy on Friday.  I had to remove my homemade trail mix, one of my main snacks, because it has nuts and seeds.  In the middle of the week fresh fruit and vegetables were removed.  Since I'm already restricting my diet to reduce my A1C and blood sugars - i.e. reduced carbs and sugar - the only thing I have left is mostly protein.  

    Thursday I switched to an all liquid diet.  Who knew that Jello is considered a liquid and, fortunately,  I like it and Jello happens to be surprisingly filling.  I also started taking and drinking the prep meds which always leads to undesirable effects not to mention the salty, ocean water taste of the prep drink.

    The procedure went well.  Slept through it.  Nothing obviously bad.  Lab results should be available in a few days.
  • We had an in-Law family get together on Saturday afternoon.  It was a delayed Christmas party delayed due to schedules and cases of Covid.  The kids had a fun time opening presents and the grownups had fun opening white elephant gifts.

    The Brother-in-law and Wife stayed at our place last night.  We had good time talking and telling stories.  This morning we enjoyed breakfast before they left for an evening of Disney on Ice.  I ate way too much this weekend overcompensating for the lack of food during the procedure prep.  I will have to rein in my diet again.
  • Back in January when our new windows were installed a few issues were found.  Missing caulking on one window, a missing crank cover for another, and a cracked frame for one of the crank out windows in our bedroom.  They returned on Tuesday to fix the issues.  Unfortunately the replacement window was wrong.  The window was suppose to have the hinge on the left and open on the right.  They brought the opposite.  It appears there was confusion on how to describe the window.  The installers described it from the inside of the house.  The factory interpreted it as if you were looking from the outside.  Sigh.  This resulted in me getting a call from the window company owner apologizing for the mix-up.  Looks like we won't finish this job until March.  It's been a year since we started this process.
  • The author of the book I reviewed this week retweeted my post.  Always cools when this happens.
  • My last computer, that I replaced back in 2020, has been running distributed computing jobs twenty-four a day since it was replaced.  It has contributed to childhood cancer, covid, and climate research tirelessly.  Sometime last week the trusty computer gave up the ghost and will no longer boot up.  I can't remember when I bought it.  It may have been around 2015-2016 but I'm not sure.  It will be heading to Goodwill where it's parts may help someone who needs them. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Book: Marc David Baer's "The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, And Caliphs"

I decided to switch back to non-fiction to explore a gaping hole in my history education: The Ottoman Empire.  Marc David Baer's "The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs" takes a chronological journey through the rise, fall, and transformation of the Ottoman Empire.  The chronology is broken only when the author dives deeper into some aspect of Ottoman culture. 

Baer has a nice writing style that takes the potentially stodgy history and livens it up and makes it a rather easy read.  It creates a compelling narrative without leaving out detail.  He tries to sweep away the prejudices we see in western historical studies.

Reading about the struggles between secular and religious forces I couldn't stop thinking of what we are experiencing today.  Turkey hasn't learned from its history and neither has ours.

As I read this book I thought about the Egyption history I read in 2014.  Toby Wilkinson's "The Rise And Fall Of Ancient Egypt" was not nearly as good as "The Ottomans".  In a way this book was what I expected the Egypt book to be.  Of course, the scope of Egyptian history is many times that of the Ottomans so making a comparison may be disingenuous.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  It filled a hole I had in my history education in an interesting and highly readable way.  I read this with our future travels in mind.  Turkey may be one of our next destinations and being able to know the history of what we are seeing can only be a benefit.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #6

  • Went to a Gastroenterologist on Monday.  An MRI back in November to examine my prostate (due to a high PSA from my last blood test) showed indications of intestinal inflammation.  I've been suffering from on-again off-again back pain that spreads up my right side since September.  I thought it was muscular but, since it wasn't getting better, I suspected it was something else and a gastrointestinal issue may be the culprit.  Blood tests from the doctor's visit came back normal but, just in case, I'm scheduled for a colonoscopy next week.  I've have two colonoscopies before and the procedure is a real snooze but the prep for it is crappy.  Next week is going to be one of restricted diets, lots of fluids, and a day and a half of not feeling well.  Whoopee!
  • On Tuesday I visited Mom and helped her sign up for social security survivor benefits.  I didn't do much since Mom had it under control.  Afterwards we did some shopping and went out for lunch.  I think I ate too much but it will balance out with the lack of eating much next week.
  • On Thursday I swapped out my old LG phone for a Samsung Galaxy A32 5G.  My LG's battery appears to have been fried during our roadtrip in the south (a couple times I had pop ups saying charging was halted due to high temperatures).  It ended up cutting the battery capacity nearly in half.

    I spent most of Thursday afternoon and Friday configuring the new phone.  It's one thing going between phones of the same brand.  With different brands you have to figure out all the different ways to do things that you already knew by heart on the old phone.  One thing I discovered is that I really don't need to turn on WIFI.  It turns out that 5G data is two to three times faster that our cable fed WIFI.  I think I've got most of it figured out and hopefully this will last for a while.
  • I did only one walk this week.  Monday's walk was prevented by the Doctor's appointment and Friday's walk was … I just didn't feel like it.  On Wednesday I walked 11.6 miles (18.7 km) which is under the 20 miles a week goal I was trying to meet.  Next week I won't be walking at all.  Walking makes me hungry and since I won't be able to eat my usual snacks (nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, fresh vegis) I'll just not walk this coming week.
  • On Friday, instead of walking, I finished setting up my phone apps, vacuumed and dusted, and watched the Book of Boba Fett.  I've also had the Olympics on in the background.  I must admit I'm not watching the Winter Olympics as much as I did the Summer ones.
Next week is going to be strange and somewhat busy, especially next weekend so the next Weekly Ephemera update may be postponed … we'll see.

Sunday, February 06, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #5

  • I did my three hikes this week which, frankly, was better than I expected to do.  I did 23.63 miles (38 km) which was in my desired range of >20 miles.

    The first hike at the beginning of the week took me through a few places I hadn't been to for a while where I came across some cool street art including a mural by Dany Reyes.  I also came across more pieces of Watie White's '100 People' art project.  The digitally enlarged black and white woodcut prints can be found all over the Omaha.

A portion of a mural by
Dany Reyes
Another of the '100 People' by
Watie White

My mid-week hike was at Hitchcock Nature Center.  I'd hoped the warm weather we've been having would have melted the snow and the temperatures in the teens the day of the hike would have frozen all of the resulting mud.  What I didn't expect were all the patches of ice mixed in with the frozen mud.  The ice made portions of the trail, especially the downhill grades, a bit treacherous.  I did fall down on one particularly steep downhill but it was a slow motion fall which resulted in me sliding three or four feet down the trail.  I've hiked Hitchcock when the trails were muddy and I'm not sure which is worse.  The muddy hills are as slick as ice but I have to say that snow and ice results in less dirty falls.  I shortened this hike to just over three miles due to the icy trail conditions.

  • I visited Mom on Thursday.  We were thinking about going out for lunch but it was a bit too cold that day.  I left Mom's place with a pile of stuff from our time in Guatemala.  She has been shedding stuff for the last month and all the stuff is so cool and full of memories I can't say no when she offers it to me.