Homer's Travels: December 2023

Sunday, December 31, 2023

A Homer's Travels Look Back At 2023

2023 was similar to 2022 in that there were a few downs and a few ups.  On the down side Mom fell and broke her arm; pain in her back has reduced her mobility; and Mom's brother, my uncle Jimmy, passed away.

On the up side the Wife and I traveled to Florida, Spain (the Wife's Camino), Rome, and Southeast Asia.  I also consider my surgery as an up.  Once I heal up completely things will be even better.  I also turned sixty without becoming depressed ... I'll call that an up too.

Let's look back at 2023, shall we:

  • I posted 119 times this year.  Not quite as many as 2022 but good enough.  I was concerned about posting about travel in the fall when there was so little time between trips but I managed.
What will 2024 bringWe will be going back to Spain to continue the Wife's Camino in June.  We will be visiting our British friends sometime in the fall.  We are considering a shorter trip sometime in the Spring but nothing has been nailed down yet.  The key to 2023, just like 2022 and most other years, is to be flexible and accept what comes our way.

One last thing.  2024 is an election year here in America.  Heaven help us.  

Here's to a Happy, Prosperous, and Healthy New Year for all.  May you all find happiness in 2024.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Weekly Ephemera #78

My Weekly Ephemera post is coming out a day early to make room for my annual Homer's Travels roundup.

  • It appears all my health issues are behind me.  I would say I am close to 98% healed.  I'm also happy to say that none of the possible post-surgery side effects have appeared.
  • I restarted walking this week.  I kept things relatively short so I could feel how my body was feeling.  I felt fine so I walked three times for a total of 10.26 miles (16.5 km).
  • The Wife and I packed up all the Christmas decorations.  The number of boxes has mysteriously increased to the point that it all won't fit in the cubby where we store our Christmas decorations.  With the tree down the living room is much brighter (the tree half covers the living room's main window).  With the holiday season rapidly coming to an end we are all ready to enter the new year.
  • It's a hard time for podcasters right now.  One of the podcasts I listen to, Rocket, closed their doors this week after a nine year run.  I'd only been listening to it for the past six months or so but I will miss the geek conversation between the hosts Brianna Wu, Christina Warren, and Simone de Rochefort.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Book: Martha Wells' "System Collapse"

My last book of the year, meeting my goal of twenty books for 2023, was the latest Murderbot Diaries book and the second full length novel of the series.  Martha Wells' "System Collapse", is a direct sequel to the other full length Murderbot novel, "Network Effect" (book five of seven).

The book is a good Murderbot book but I have found, after reading the last four books back to back, that there is a lot of repetition.  The books, except for books five and seven, seem to be written so they are somewhat stand alone so information provided in earlier books is sometimes repeated in later books over and over again.  So, does this repetition ruin the books?  Not really.  I guess I would suggest you space the books out more than I did so that the repetition is less noticeable.

If you are planning to read this series, I think the proper order would be 1-2-3-4-6-5-7.  Book six is not related to book five or seven which are related to each other.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads because, like this entire series, the books are entertaining enough to keep me reading.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Book: Martha Wells' "Fugitive Telemetry"

Continuing the Murderbot Diaries series the next book I read was Martha Wells' "Fugitive Telemetry".  Book six of the series returns to the shorter novella format.

This is a perfectly good Murderbot book with a more mystery feel to it.  Murderbot investigates a murder on a station.  It had a slightly different feel than other books in the series like the Author was trying something a little different.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  it's an easy read  to fill in the gaps between harder reads and it is entertaining.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Weekly Ephemera #77

I hope everyone is having a joyous Christmas Eve!
  • We are spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at my Mom's house.  Instead of a white Christmas we are having a moist Christmas Eve.  We've had around a half inch of rain on a fairly warm Sunday.  It's something like 20℉ warmer than normal which is a lot.  The rain may turn to snow tonight so we may have a white Christmas Day so keeping our fingers crossed. 🤞
  • Last Tuesday I had my stent removed.  It was a quicker procedure than I expected which is always a good thing.  I am now done with doctors until I get an ultrasound in February (a kidney stone follow up) and a doctor's follow up in April.
  • I got a new front pocket wallet.  My old one, which I probably have had for decades, was starting to wear out.  The new one isn't quite the same, and will never be as good as my old one, but it will be fine once it breaks in.  It has taken me years to replace my old wallet and I think it took so long because of my attachment.
  • This week I watched "Bodies" on Netflix.  It was an interesting mystery/sci fi series.  Definitely on the twisted spectrum.  Also watched "Leave the World Behind".  While it wasn't great it was good and very thought provoking considering what is happening in the world around us.
  • Next week, after Christmas, I am hoping to start walking again.  I will naturally start slow to see how my body reacts.  I'm not quite healed yet from my surgery.  Fingers crossed.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Happy Shortest Day Of The Year (Winter Solstice) ... Let The Lengthening Of The Daylight Begin

 The Winter Solstice has arrived.  The shortest day and longest night are behind us until next winter.

Enjoy the lengthening of the daylight everyone!

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Weekly Ephemera #76

  • Another week mostly dominated by my health.  I can't wait for this to be all behind me.  I set up health insurance for 2024, had a post-Op doctor's visit on Tuesday, and my catheter was removed on Wednesday.  You can tell I'm healing as it's removal caused no discomfort at all - the nurse knew what she was doing.  Since then things have been getting better every day.

    Unfortunately it's not over quite yet.  On Tuesday I will go back to have the stent - installed during surgery - removed.  Hopefully that will be the end of this chapter in my health story.
  • We reupped Netflix on Thursday.  We've both spent time binging stuff until we cancel it later this month.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Book: Martha Wells' "Network Effect"

I decided to keep up the series and read the next book (number five) of the Murderbot series.  In the old days I would binge a whole series.  As I've grown older I have moved away from this.  I now spread out the books in a series with other unrelated books in between.  I'm not sure why I have done this and, as I work my way through the Murderbot series (I am currently reading the sixth book), I wonder what the heck I was thinking.  It is much more enjoyable to binge a series in one shot.

Martha Wells' "Network Effect" is the first full length novel of the Murderbot series coming in just over twice as long as the first four novellas.  The novellas always felt complete though I always wanted a little more.  This Novel length story feels a lot like the novellas and frankly I still wanted more at the end of it.

I wish the author would flesh out the political and social structures of the world she is writing in.  Every book adds a little bit more but it's never enough to satisfy my curiosity.  By book five you should have a fairly complete picture of the world so that the stories can be more character and situational themed.  The lack of deep world building sometimes gives the stories a shallow feeling.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  None of the Murderbots have been disappointing even if they are somewhat incomplete in their world building.  They are like an action movie and sometimes that's enough to be entertained.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like ...

My annual sign of the holiday season was a little late this year:

First Christmas cactus bloom of the season.

This bloom is on the last Christmas cactus we have.  We used to have three or four of them growing at any one time but the past few years have seen my green thumb fade a bit.  Our last one is actually one my Mom gave me.  It was grown from a clipping of one of our original ones so it continues the decades old plant that has been in the Wife's family.  After this one stops blooming in the spring , or possibly sooner, I will try to start another cutting.  Hopefully I will be more successful than the past half dozen or more attempts I've made to propagate the old lady.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Weekly Ephemera #75

  • The week was dominated by my surgery and post-surgery procedures.  The post-surgery stuff was mostly periodically taking a handful of pills and taking naps of varied degrees of satisfaction.
  • This weekend the Wife went to see the Altar Boy become a deacon (Congratulations!).  I wasn't up for an interstate journey so I stayed home and watched both seasons of "Good Omens".
  • Next week ... more doctor appointments ... yay.

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Health Update

Warning: As people get old, more and more of their conversations center around their health or lack thereof.  This post is an old man post.

I had my surgery on Monday.  There were a couple things they were going to do: 

  • The first was to remove a kidney stone before it caused any trouble.  In the process of doing so they discovered five more stones.  All the stones were embedded in scar tissue which made it more difficult to get out.  A stent was put in that will have to be removed in a couple weeks.
  • The second thing was a laser procedure on my enlarged prostate.  That went fairly well.
  • While doing these things the doctor also found a couple tumors on my bladder.  They were removed.  Fortunately the biopsies of the tumors show them to be benign.

I was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon.  I was released once I proved I could urinate.  I was happy to leave the hospital without a catheter.  My happiness was premature though.  Early Wednesday morning I woke up and I was not able to urinate so I went to the emergency room.  Turns out this happens in about 10% of patients who have this procedure and is usually related to drug/anesthesia side effects.  I went home with a catheter.

For all that was done, I'm feeling pretty good.  Any pain I had was gone by Tuesday night.  The little discomfort I have is controlled with over the counter pain meds.  The catheter is more a pain in the butt than anything and it will be remaining in place until next week.

I've been a bit tired since I've been home.  I am restricted to lifting no more than ten pounds (4.5 kg).  I'm wondering if some of my tiredness is medication related - I'm on several for the next four to five days.

For the next couple weeks I'm just going to relax and let my body heal.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Weekly Ephemera #74

  • After feeling sick last weekend, I started the week feeling pretty good.  I still don't know if it was a medicinal side effect or a twenty-four hour stomach bug.
  • Since I felt better I spent Tuesday putting up the Christmas tree and putting on lights.  The Wife would put the ornaments on later in the week.  On Wednesday I put up all the lights up around the entrance, hung the wreaths, put up the laser lights (so much easier than climbing on the roof to put up strings of lights), and, of course, hung the big balls in the oak tree.  The Wife, besides putting up the ornaments on the Christmas tree, decorated the mantel with Santas, garlands, and lights.

    Despite all this decoration I can't say I am in the Holiday mood.  Perhaps it's because I missed Thanksgiving, the official start of the holiday season.  Maybe it's the lack of snow and the warmer than normal temperatures we've been experiencing.  There is also the cloud hanging over me ...
  • The cloud hanging over me is the surgery coming tomorrow.  It's pretty basic and there really isn't any reason for me to be concerned but I'm a natural worrier and, while I wasn't worried most of the week, reality caught up with me this weekend and I am a bit anxious.  This will be my first overnight stay in a hospital since my first ACL reconstruction back in 1996.
  • I was busy putting up Christmas decorations, cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, and taking mom to the doctors so I didn't do any walking this week.  I think walking in the chill air, even if it is warmer than average, would have helped me get into the season.  I'm not sure how I will be feeling this week after my surgery so I can't predict when I will go walking again.  Hopefully sooner than later.