Homer's Travels: August 2023

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Weekly Ephemera #67

  • Mom got a pain shot in her back and she had an 80% reduction in her back pain ... for twenty-four hours.  After that it was nearly the same as it was before the shot.  There have been a few changes to the positive though.  The pain, instead of being across her entire lower back, is now localised to around her spine.  She no longer wakes up with a sore back and she is sleeping better.  It seems to me and the occupation therapist that she stands up from her chair better.   Unfortunately when she walks it still bothers her.  We will be going back to the pain specialist next month to explore her options.
  • I got my root canal on Monday.  I really like the endodontist.  I felt no pain the entire time.  The tooth sensitivity is gone.  I only had some aching in my gums which has since faded away.  This week I will go to my regular dentist to get a crown over the tooth to finish it up.
  • On Wednesday I took my car in to replace a leaking water pump, leaking radiator hose, missing hubcap, and to have the money drained out of my car.  Between the car and my tooth I am bleeding green.
  • I skipped the Republican debate last week to protect my mental health.  It's bad enough that I've had to endure all the highlights.  Since I would never be caught dead voting Republican it really doesn't matter if I watched it or not.
  • Our local news was dominated by the heatwave we experienced over the week.  With heat indexes over 110℉ (43℃) everyday I decided not to walk this week.  By the end of the week I noticed I was more tired and irritable than I usually am.  I guess walking is helping my mood.  This contradicts what I experienced on the appalachian trail where my mood got worse the further north I went.

    Next week the temperature and humidity are forecast to be much lower and I look forward to walking more this week.
This picture has nothing to do with anything I did this week.  I just like how the Light shines
through it.  It's in the center of a wrought iron sun I have on the window sill in the den.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Weekly Ephemera #66

  • A few health related things this week.  First I had a dentist visit this week.  I have a tooth that's been bothering me since the last week of our Camino last May.  Turns out it's time for root canal number three.  I do have the option of an extraction but I'm not ready for that yet ... if ever.  Nothing like another $1,000 bill ...ugh.

    Mom went to the pain doctor this week to get a shot in her lower spine.  We are all hoping for some relief for her back pain.
  • I received my federal retirement annuity account password this week.  This means my application for my Federal retirement annuity has been accepted.  Checks start getting deposited next month.  Yesterday I got a letter with the actual annuity amount.  The amount is a bit smaller than I expected but I didn't have the right numbers to calculate the annuity amount (shame on me for not keeping the fifteen year old records I needed) and my guesstimates were off.  Still a good amount and any amount of money is welcome.  For those who are curious, the annuity is one of three parts of my Federal retirement.  The other parts are a 401(K) and Social Security.
  • I walked three times this week.  I decided to do longer walks closer together.  I usually spread out longer hikes with either rest days or shorter, around the block, hikes in between.  This week I did a four mile followed by two eight mile hikes over three days.  It felt better doing it this way.  For the week I walked 21.4 miles (34.4 km).

    This coming week will be a hard one.  We are experiencing a five to six day heat wave with heat indexes over 100℉ (38℃).  Not sure it would be wise for me to walk in this weather.
  • We had some more visitors to our backyard this week.  The first was, what appears to be, a juvenile Blue Jay.  They are common around here but are rare in our backyard for some reason.

    A suspected juvenile Blue Jay.
    The second announced itself by ringing the chimes on our deck.  I looked outside to see if it was windy and saw a face looking back at me.  A raccoon had climbed up on the fountain on the deck and rang the chimes (I assume it thought it was a bird feeder).  I banged on the slider and it moved away a few feet.  I opened the door and yelled at it, trying to get it to get off our deck, but it didn't seem phased.  I then realized that it could run around me and get into the house so I went back in and closed the slider.  I watched it explore the chairs, chiminea, and chinese garden stools we have on our deck.  It eventually left the deck after satisfying its curiosity.

Rocky raccoon climbing out of the chiminea onto a deck chair.
  • We continued planning our Rome trip booking tours to the colosseum, catacombs, Vatican, and other places we want to see in the city.  We have most things nailed down.  We have a few things that do not need a tour, ticket, or guide that we haven't scheduled yet.  Those places will probably be fit in over the three days before the Wife's student's ordination events.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Book: Tim Marshall's "The Power Of Geography"

The thirteenth book of the year was an interesting book on geography and how it will influence world politics.

Tim Marshall's "The Power of Geography" covers ten different countries/areas that will be important in the future.  I have been to a few (Ethiopia, Turkey, Spain) and there are a few I hope to visit some day (Greece, the United Kingdom).  The book filled in a lot of historical gaps in my knowledge though it wasn't too detailed.  It was an interesting overview of most of the countries.

The one thing I didn't like was the last chapter: Space.  First, when I think of geography I think of places on Earth.  If you look up the definition (Merriam-Webster) it specifically says:
"a science that deals with the description, distribution, and interaction of the diverse physical, biological, and cultural features of the earth's surface."

Second, if the author is going to talk about Space he'd better get the terminology right.  He incorrectly used space terms several times.  For Example, he referred to the "Andromeda Constellation" when he meant to write "Andromeda Galaxy."

If the author had left off the last chapter on space it would have been better in my opinion,

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.   It probably should have been three and a half stars because of the Space chapter but I won't let one bad chapter hurt nine good chapters.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Weekly Ephemera #65

  • Mom's visit to the bone doctor this week went very well.  He lifted all restrictions on using her broken arm.   Now it's the physical/occupational therapist's turn to get her arm working better.
  • I restarted my walking (for the umpteenth time) this week.  I'd thought my walking was exacerbating my health issue but I've come to the conclusion that it was just a coincidence.  The 19.9 miles (32 km) I walked this week without any issues seems to prove that.
  • During one of my walks I stopped at a camera place to pick up my professionally cleaned SLR camera.  It was a long time coming.  That camera had dust and grime from all over the world.  It's all ready for Rome now.
  • I finished "The Walking Dead".  Now I'm just finishing movies and limited series that have been in my Netflix list forever and a day.
  • Along with the odd weather we've been having I've noticed strange insects lately.   Earlier this week we were swarmed by dragonflies.  While they are native around here I've never seen so many buzzing around our house at once.  Also I saw a few lightning bugs the other night.  I usually associate them with June and maybe early July.  Seeing them in mid August is not what I'm used to. 

Sunday, August 06, 2023

Weekly Ephemera #64

There were a few big things this week ... 

  • I finally got to my doctor's appointment.  He performed a Cystoscopy.  The results from that, along with all the other tests I had leading up to the doctor's appointment, ended up with the diagnosis that I had expected (though my brain often took me to the worse case scenario).  My issue is caused by my enlarged prostate that was diagnosed late last year.  The doctor  gave me three treatment options: drugs, surgery, or do nothing.  All three have issues and potential long term side effects but the surgery seems like the lesser of the evils.  I told him that I would do the surgery.  It's not an emergency so I asked to have it sometime in late November or December after our fall travels.   Still, I am going to request more information about the options from my doctor.  I doubt I will change my mind but it's probably a good thing to do my due diligence before saying "final answer".

    I need to have surgery anyway as I have a kidney stone that needs to be removed before it can become its own problem.  The stone removal and the prostate surgery can be done at the same time.
  • I mentioned the fall travels.  Until Thursday this was referencing our trip to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia in October/November.  As of this weekend it now includes a week-long stay in Rome, Italy.

    One of the Wife's students is being ordained a deacon on his way to becoming a Catholic priest.  The ordination will be at the Vatican and the Wife and I were invited to attend.  Included with the ordination will be a ticket to Pope Francis' monthly audience.  While an audience with the Pope sounds exciting it will be us and probably a thousand other people.  We are turning the three day event into a week-long visit to Rome to see some of the sights.  Flights have been booked ($$$) and a place to stay ten minutes walking from the main entrance to the Vatican (and a block from the Vatican Museum) and close to a metro station has been reserved.  The Wife is working on the itinerary.
  • I took my car in for a cooling system service that was advised the last time I got the car serviced.  I also wanted them to check on a slow leak I had in one of my tires.  After $300+ I discovered I had a leak in a radiator hose and a leaking water pump.  Oh ... and the front two tires needed to be replaced due to excessive wear.  The cost of the hose and water pump ... $1,500+.  The parts are on order.

    The crazy thing is the price for two tires ... $500+.  I said hell no to this and went to Sam's Club and ordered two tires there for $185 which includes installation and alignment.

    I gave the Toyota service three stars on their online survey.  I soon got a call asking why my rating was so low.  When I explained the excessive cost they apologized and gave me a $30 credit.  Yeah ... a 2% discount will really help. 🌵
... and a few smaller things.
  • This week we resubscribed to Netflix for the month,  I started with the sixth season of "Black Mirror".  The anthology series is usually centered around science fiction and technology with some Twilight Zone-ish twists.  This season two of the five fit that theme but the other three are more horror/thriller themed which felt out of place in "Black Mirror".  The stories were interesting but just felt wrong for the show.

    After finishing "Black Mirror" I moved on to season eleven (the last season) of "The Walking Dead".  Even tho it's getting long in the tooth I still enjoy this series.  While some just consider it a zombie series it is more about the corruptibility and fragility of our civilization.
  • This week I think I'll restart my walking again.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Camino 2023 - Magnet Edition

While I bought magnets on my first and second Camino, there were a few places I stayed at where I didn't buy magnets.  The Wife and I started to correct this oversight.

We bought seven magnets this time around and they have been added to my 2006-2023 Travel Magnets Google Photos album. (They can also be accessed from the Travel Magnets tab at the top of Homer's Travels.

As Duas Marias.
My favorite is a miniature of the As Duas Marias statue in Alameda park in Santiago de Compostela.  The magnet was made by the same artist that did the original statue, Cesar Lambera.  Below is a photo of the original statue:

The original As Duas Marias.