Homer's Travels: April 2022

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #15

What have I been up to?
  • On Tuesday I got my blood drawn (I posted about the results here) and while I was at the doctor's office I got my second COVID booster (Pfizer this time).  I feel a lot safer ... I really do.
  • On Wednesday I stopped by Mom's place and we called Social Security ... again ... but this time we got good news.  Things were moving.  On Friday she received her death benefit so she is now waiting for all the back benefits they owe her.

    I went home with some Central American treasures Mom wanted to get out of her house (It's all cool stuff)
  • On Thursday the Wife's niece spent the night with us while she was doing work stuff in Omaha.  It was a good reason to go out to eat at Village Inn.

    The niece, mother of a nearly two year old boy and a soon to be 0 year old girl, went home with one of the non-Guatemalan treasures Mom gave us.  We gave her my childhood rocking chair.  It's missing a lot of the varnish it once had having been stripped over time as I sat in the chair, eating chocolate ice cream and drinking Pepsi, in my wet swimsuit.  I am sure it will be put to good use.
  • I walked twice this week for a total of 21.2 miles (34.2 km).  Friday's walk was warm and a bit humid which reminded me of July and August on the Appalachian Trail.  Fortunately the wind that seems to have settled in for good helped make it feel less disgusting.

    My walking has been a bit erratic and I need to be more consistent in frequency and distance if I want to get my blood test numbers down.  I will have to try harder.  At least this week I met the 20 mile goal.

    I discovered the hiking distance mile counter in the blog sidebar was not updating properly.  I fixed it.
  • And finally, on Saturday, as I left to get some dinner, I saw the glove I lost months ago propped up on a little garden fence not far from our house.  This made me happy since they were great lightweight gloves.  I bought them originally for the early, still chilly, Appalachian Trail.  I've driven and walked by that spot multiple times since I lost the glove and never saw it there.  Today, with the wind blowing, it was like it was waving me down.


Thursday, April 21, 2022

And The Results Are ...

 I mentioned in my last ephemera post that I was getting my semiannual blood tests.  I got some results on Tuesday.  Here they are:

  • My A1C which was 6.2 back in October is now 5.7.  This is still pre-diabetic but it is literally at the lower end of the pre-diabetic range.  This was an improvement.
  • My Glucose level was 131.2 in October.  It is now 112.  This is still high.  It should be under 100.  Nevertheless, this was an improvement as well.
  • My PSA was 4.82 in October dropped to 4.06.  It should be below 4 so I'm still in the wrong range.  My urologist wants me to retest in June and do a biopsy if it is still over 4.

The Doctor's office called yesterday and they were happy with my numbers so I'm not going back or making any major changes for the next six months.  I will continue to try to drop my glucose and A1C numbers.

I know this is not a rational thought but I don't want this to interfere with my Appalachian Trail hike in July or our upcoming travels in September-October.  It appears that it can take four to six weeks to recover from a prostate biopsy.  If the urologist confirms this then I'll have to ask about the impact of postponing the biopsy until we return from our fall travels.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Book: Kelly Weill's "Off The Edge"

Book number six was a suggestion I heard about in a podcast.  Kelly's Weill's "Off the Edge" explores the world of Flat Earth conspiracy theorists, its twisted history, and the interconnections between the conspiracy worlds.

The belief that the Earth is flat is an old one.  The only belief older is the belief the Earth is round.  Flat Earth came out of strange interpretations of biblical verse and people who decided that what they see is more important than what science tells us.  Over the decades the belief became a conspiracy when believers became convinced that nefarious powers were hiding the truth  of the true shape of the Earth to eradicate God and Religion.

Over time flat earthers mixed with various other conspiracy groups such as antisemites, neo-nazi, secret society believers, and believers in our reptilian overlords.  All of this craziness eventually led to QAnon and the Trumpers.

The author made a lot of friends with flat Earth proponents and she has obviously tried to argue against their beliefs.   Sometimes you can hear her frustration in some of her writing.   Changing some people's minds is nearly impossible if they don't want to change.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads even tho it gave me very little hope in humanity's future.  

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #14

  • An Easter Bunny sighting on the AT.
    I hope you all had a Happy Easter.  The Wife and I spent it at Mom's place with her late husband's family.  We had some good conversations and we came home with ham for my breakfasts and plants for our garden.
  • Our house exterior got prepped and painted this week.  We now have an Evergreen Fog (sort of a green-grey) house with white trim.  They did the work in four days.  The Wife, who picked the color, was nervous about her color choice but she had nothing to fear as the house looks great.  Our painting guy and his crew (Spino Surface Solutions) did a very good job with the painting.  The only thing missing are the house numbers.  I ordered some metal numbers from Etsy (painted white to match our trim) which should be delivered by the end of the month.

    While talking to the painter we mentioned our fence needs some major repair/rebuilding.  Turns out he does fences too so he will be dropping by to give us an estimate.
  • Speaking of Home Improvement, I got two estimates for replacing out tanked water heater with a tankless.  The estimates were over three times the price of installing a tanked on.  If it had been twice as expensive it would have been reasonable (tankless water heaters last twice as long as tanked ones).  Since it's not an affordable option we will be replacing our fourteen year old tank water heater with a new tanked one.
  • This week I only walked once for a total of 13.7 miles (22 km) but that was a single walk and I felt pretty good afterwards which is a win in my book.
  • This week I'm getting my semi-annual blood test to see how my blood sugar, A1C, lipids, and PSA are faring.  Since my last blood test in October I dropped my weight by ten to fifteen pounds and reduced my carb/sugar intake.  This week we'll see if I've done anything to improve my numbers🤞

Monday, April 11, 2022

Music: Santana At The CHI Health Center

Three ... that's how many concerts I went to in the last nine days.  The last of these, Saturday night, was Santana.  It was a great end to a busy week.  I sat in the same section as the Bon Jovi concert.  That one had blockage issues.  For Santana the sound and mixer boards were pushed up away from the seating section so my view was completely unobstructed.

Carlos Santana.
To the chagrin of all those who showed up late to the show (not me), there was no warm up act.  Carlos Santana and his band came on stage fashionably late (only a few minutes really) and proceeded to set the place ablaze.

Santana below ... Cindy Blackman Santana's drum set above.
They started with a long string of most of his most popular hits.  Their first set went on forever it seemed ... in a good way. This moved on to solos from various members of the band including drummer Cindy Blackman Santana (his wife).  The drum solo was massive and extraordinary.

I love me a good jumbotron.
The music was a mixture of Latin, Brazilian, Reggae, Afro-Caribbean, and many other influences.  I loved the variety of it all.  Between sets Santana talked about wanting to bring healing to the people.  Hard to listen to this and his music without being moved.

Having said all this, I am tired.  I wish these three concerts had been spread out a bit.  My next concert isn't until June and that makes me happy.

I brought my small camera this time and the pictures are better than my cell phone camera.  I wish I'd brought it for the other two shows.  Photos can be found in my 2022-04-09 Santana, CHI Center, Omaha, NE Google Photos album.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #13

Due to the very busy weekend we had last week, there was no Weekly Ephemera post so this one is covering the last two weeks.

  • The third of April marked the third anniversary of my second Appalachian Trail (AT) attempt.  I nearly forgot until Google Photos reminded me of what happened five years ago when I started my first attempt.  I still plan to go back and complete it in July but my head really isn't in it yet.  I still need to buy some gear that wore out during my last attempt and make a new more conservative plan to complete the last part of the AT.
  • Last weekend, between two concerts, the Wife and I went to Minneapolis to celebrate the wedding of the Wife's niece.  The wedding was nice, matching the niece's personality well, and the reception was fun with good food, drink, and music. Congratulations to Laura and Tony!

    I overdid things that weekend either not eating enough or eating too many carbs depending on the day.  Unfortunately something else overindulged that weekend too ... COVID.  At least four cases that I know of so far.  The wife and I haven't got it yet. 🤞
  • Last Sunday we had brunch at the MoH and BM's place with a lot of the Wife's family.  It was a fun time with lots of interesting talk.
  • Called the Social Security office ... again ... and asked to make an appointment so we could deliver the Marriage Certificate they needed for my Mom's survivor benefits (The first certificate she mailed to them got lost in the mail).  Once again they said appointments were only for emergencies.  *sigh* We explained that my Mom can't live on her current social security check and bill collectors are not patient people.  The nice representative, after hearing about the lost certificate suggested we drive down to the Social Security office and "Slip an envelope with the certificate and a posted note with my Mom's social security number on it under the door".  SMH.  So, we drove down to the office and I slipped an envelope under the door.  I feel so confident with this procedure 🌵.

    Fortunately for Mom, she has received acknowledgment of receipt of the certificate so things are moving forward.
  • Woke up Thursday to surprise snow.  It wasn't much and it melted off the sidewalks and streets before I got up.  It was all gone by the end of the day.  What was that about March coming in like a lion out as a lamb?  I guess this lamb was cranky.  It wasn't the only weird weather we're having.  This week I walked in sleet.  We are having a real rollercoaster of a spring.
  • Talking about walking in sleet, I ended up walking three times over the last two weeks.  I should have done more but my schedule and weather got in the way (I'm starting to run out of excuses for not walking).  I ended up doing 34 miles (54.8 km).

Saturday, April 09, 2022

Photograph: "Nothing Butt Art"

I saw this painting propped up on a light pole outside of a convenience store.  I'm sure there is a story there but I have no idea what it is.

"Nothing Butt Art"
by BWOWW.❤
Photo by Bruce H.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Music: Alice Cooper With Buckcherry At The Liberty First Arena

Bookending the crazy weekend we had last week was a second concert.  This one was in the newly renamed Liberty First Arena only a few minutes from where we live.  I was concerned about being too tired since I drove back from Minneapolis the morning of the concert but I ended up getting a second wind.

Alice Cooper and his teenage frankenstein.


The warm up act was Buckcherry.  I'd heard the name but wasn't familiar at all with their music.  Can't say it was of my taste but the energy of the band definitely woke me up.  It was the lead singer's birthday so the entire band and audience sang happy birthday to him before they rapped up their set. 

Alice Cooper came on with a bang and the drop of a curtain.  From there it was a non-stop rockfest.  Special effects, giant figures, incredible playing, fun songs.

Alice, Tommy Henriksen, and Nita Strauss
The highlight, right after Alice Cooper himself, was lead guitarist Nita Strauss.  She was awesome.  They all were frankly.  Everyone had a solo and they all took advantage of the spotlight.

Double decker stage.
I really enjoyed the show.  It ended with a medley of "School's Out" and Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" which was incredible.

I ended up with some good swag too.  A t-shirt with a type-o:

Ralston is in Nebraska (NE) not Iowa (IA).
and this:

Pictures can be found in my 2022-04-04 Alice Cooper w/ Buckcherry, Liberty First Arena, Ralston, NE Google Photos album.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Book: Nnedi Okorafor's "Binti: The Complete Trilogy"

While I have read books from non-American/European writers, it is rare.  This is a shortcoming on my part.  It seems that most of the books I've read are by white English speaking males with a smattering of white English speaking women.  So when looking at a book to read next I chose a book - a trilogy of novellas actually - written by Nnedi Okorafor, a Nigerian-American who specializes in Africanfuturism.

"Binti: The complete Trilogy" is a collection of four novellas (the trilogy plus a bonus story) that follows a young African girl who travels offworld to go to a prestigious university.  Along the way the ship she is travelling on is attacked by an alien race that has been warring with Earth for a long time.  How she negotiates peace and how her life changes spans all four of the novellas.

I wish the book's world was fleshed out more.  I wish the book explored Binti and her culture in greater depth.  At times I was confused by words or concepts that I had only a glancing perspective of.  This is probably more of a personal shortcoming than an omission by the author.

I gave this three stars out of five on Goodreads.  I almost gave it four but I was a bit disappointed on how nothing really changed over the course of the book.  Nothing was truly resolved and I felt like it didn't know where it was trying to go.

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Music: Bon Jovi And Ione At The CHI Health Center

We had a busy long weekend bookended with concerts and I'm still trying to catch up here on Homer's Travels.

Last Friday I went to see Bon Jovi at the CHI Health Center in downtown Omaha.  The tickets said the show started at 8:00pm which is usually when the warm up band comes out.  Being the guy I am I showed up an hour and a half early knowing that the lines would be long.  I was right, all four lines were long (The security line, the line to the stairs/escalator, the line through the ticket check, and the line to the merch table).  I was lucky that I was early since the warm up act came on at 7:30pm.

Bon Jovi's tribute to Ukraine.
I found my seat and realized it was not as great as I thought it was.  It was smack dab behind the sound tables.  This would have been too much of an issue except for the raised platform with a camera and operator on it blocking my view of half the stage.  Fortunately a lot of people in my row never showed up and I was able to shift over so my view was relatively unobstructed.

Ione: a local act from Sioux City, IA
For this short, 30 day, 15 show tour, Bon Jovi had interviewed local bands to join them as warm up bands.  In Omaha, the first stop of the tour, the warm up act was a singer named Ione (sorry for the facebook link - she only has Facebook and Instagram accounts).

She was really good.  She had a great voice and interesting songs.  I rarely enjoy warm up acts but she was entertaining.  It's unfortunate that they gave the wrong show time so she performed to a half filled hall.

Bon Jovi came out and the band sounded awesome.  Bon Jovi, on the other hand, sounded flat and missed some notes.  The fact that this was the first stop on the tour and his first tour in two and a half years may explain the rustiness of his voice (Thank you Covid 🌵).  As the evening progressed his voice got better but never really reached the sound I expected.

At one point he recorded a song for a Ukrainian benefit and, with the yellow and blue graphics (see top photo of this post), did a great job and his voice finally arrived full force.

Bon Jovi - Rough vocals, good light show.
The show hit all the right songs which should have been an 'A' but the rough vocals brought the performance down to maybe a 'C+'.

A few pictures can be found in my 2022-04-01 Bon Jovi w/ Ione, CHI Center, Omaha, NE Google Photos Album.