25 August 2011

Time Passing

I published the first post on this blog two years ago today. Having recently retired from my day job, my intent was to document the process of applying for SSDI, which I expected to be a long drawn out and frustrating experience. Six weeks later my claim was approved, and I was officially out of stuff to write about. Not having anything to write about does not appear to have held me up much.

I started out posting every day. That lasted about a week. Then it was every other day. Then a couple of times a week. For the last couple of months, posting once a week or thereabouts seems to be a comfortable compromise between feeling obligated to write something, and not having anything to say.

As if to mark the anniversary of the blog by reminding me of its initial purpose, I got an envelope from the Social Security Administration the other day full of stuff about applying for Medicare. I haven't been able to work myself up to look at it yet. It's sitting on the corner of my desk, looking ominous and threatening. I tell myself that applying for SSDI was a lot easier than I expected it to be. Maybe signing up for Medicare won't be that bad. Maybe.

Several times over the last couple of years, we thought my dad was dying. Each time, he defied the odds and confounded the authorities, stubbornly refusing to relinquish the place on the planet he has occupied for almost 91 years. He wasn't ready to go. Now, I think he is.

Spending so much time lately climbing out on limbs of the family shrub, I find myself thinking about all this birthing and dying stuff. I mean, duh? Although I may well think about it differently when I'm confronted with my own imminent demise, at least from this vantage point, dying doesn't seem all that scary. Pain, now, pain is scary. But if you can die without pain, you know, you've got to go sometime. I don't remember being afraid wherever I was before I was born, why should being dead be any worse? Dying is just part of the deal. It's inevitable, and while I guess it's always a little painful for the people you leave behind (at least you'd hope somebody is sorry to see you go), it's not always bad.

Stalking dead people in the parish register of Sainte Genevieve de Pierrefonds from 1782, so many of the burials are for babies only a few days, or months, or years old. Early census records note the number of children each woman bore, and the number currently living. The two numbers were rarely the same. And the record of a baby's baptism sometimes preceded that of the burial of a young mother. That's a different kind of death altogether. Those deaths are tragic. Although I don't know those people, reading about what happened to them makes me sad. And then there's what looks like a hastily-scribbled note stuck in the pages of the register that records nine names, "tué par les Iroquois." That doesn't sound exactly like a peaceful sendoff to me.

For my dad, dying is a process. He's getting ready to go, but in his own time, on his own terms. At home, with family and friends around him. He's not eating or drinking much. He refuses pain meds. He seems to be aware, at some level, of what's going on around him, but doesn't respond much (other than to spit out the pain meds). He likes sitting in the sun in the afternoons. Last weekend, his grandson's new bride brought her viola and played for him. He liked that. He is dying. We will miss him, but this death is not a bad thing.

My dad always said he wanted to live to be 100, and be killed by a jealous husband. I don't think he's going to make it to 100, but who knows? I guess it's still possible that a jealous husband will show up and send him on his way. He would like that, although I'm not sure my mom would be so crazy about it.

19 August 2011

Maybe It Was a Day like Today

I don't know who these people are — the photo is just labeled "Paiement family." "Mount Royal Park, Aug 1908" is written on the front. Although the Paiements I've been stalking had left Montréal for Michigan by this time, becoming Payments in the process, they still had plenty of kin in the Montréal area. Mount Royal Park was probably a nice place to spend a summer afternoon.

I don't know anything else about this picture, and I don't really care if I can figure out who's in it (although I'll probably try, just for grins). It just makes me happy to look at it.

17 August 2011

Record Straight-Setting

Looking back over my last post, hoping for a blinding flash of inspiration which, in case you're wondering, totally failed to materialize, I realize I've been somewhat unfair. Dragon NaturallySpeaking isn't really as bad as I made it sound. Not nearly.

That's not to say that it didn't record the stuff I attributed to it last time. It did. But none of it was while I was dictating something I expected it to transcribe. It recorded most of those examples when the microphone was listening to me talk to someone else, or someone else talk to someone else, often in a different part of the house, or the radio talk to nobody at all. Sometimes I left the microphone on by accident, other times it turned itself on spontaneously, which is an annoyingly frequent occurrence.

Voice-recognition software really is pretty amazing. I use it, with head tracker mouse software, all day, every day. I use it to work on the desktop, clamber around the web, and use programs that don't know anything about voice-recognition, and I spend a lot more time doing that than I do dictating text. Although I sometimes get tangled up in too many layers of technology, for the most part, with a little patience and creativity, I can do whatever I need to do you dog wants you to do anything she's trying to be polite but you're not paying attention these are you think it's bug in the meantime I'll let you know

Sorry. I was talking to Scarecrow, and the microphone turned itself on.

Sometimes Dragon NaturallySpeaking really does misrecognize what I say. This can be either funny or annoying, depending on my state of mind, and the kind of mistakes it attempts to attribute to me can be devilishly hard to find. But really, most of the time I get caught writing something stupid, it's because I wrote something stupid. Without any help from anybody. Voice-recognition software can be a pain in the butt, but without it, I'd be in a world of hurt.

So, there's that.

It appears Tuffy is going to survive her latest medical adventure. What is it with this kid? She had a small sore get infected. It was looking pretty bad, and considering that she spends half her life on pestilential wrestling mats, I suggested she have a doctor take a look at it. It must've really hurt, because she did. The provisional diagnosis was MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which sounded pretty bad. The doctor drained the owie, put her on antibiotics, and told her to come back every day for the next four or five days. Turns out it wasn't MRSA, just garden-variety staph, which is bad enough. It's healing up surprisingly well, considering how bad it looked. The doctor says she won't even have much of a scar.

So, there's that.

04 August 2011

Stalking Sparky

Sometimes, I swear, if I didn't have vicarious adventures, I wouldn't have any adventures at all. Pathetic, I guess, but there it is. Fortunately for me, my brother Sparky (the electrician) is off on quite the adventure, and thanks to modern technology and his unhealthy obsession with electronic doodads, he's taking me along.

Having recently married off his number two son, Sparky took off on a motorcycle trip. The first leg of his trip took him from Southern California up here to Seattle, mostly following Highway 1 along the coast. An 1100 mile warm-up, shakedown kind of thing. He spent a couple of days here, checking over his bike and messing with his GPS, then took off on the real adventure. From here, he's off through Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, to Yellowstone and the Continental Divide Trail, and over the next couple of weeks, somehow, back home.

The techie stalker thing comes in because he's wearing a little doohickey (my voice recognition software, about which more later, suggested "too geeky", and while it's not what I was after, it's eerily apt) that tracks his location and displays it on Google maps in near-real time. (I don't mean to shill for this place, but if you're interested, it's this.) So I know, for example, that earlier today he got a spot at Norris Campground, then he stopped at the Canyon Visitor Education Center and the Canyon Village Gen. Store, and now he's at Old Faithful. And at 8:44:32 a.m. on Wednesday he was at the Oasis Bordello Museum in Wallace, Idaho. Not really. He probably stopped for gas. At a gas station right next to the Bordello Museum. But still, is that creepy, or what?

Now, I'm all about technology. I'm sitting in a power chair, talking to my computer, using a head-tracker mouse. I'm first in line when it comes to taking advantage of technological advances, but I'm sometimes confronted with the downside. The same technology that I use to stalk dead people makes it possible for me to stalk my brother. The same technology that I use to talk to my computer makes me write really stupid things.

Here, for example, is my latest batch of Dragon-isms, collected over the last couple of days:

a guy is a will is will is a you will you as a is will is a you will you as a all will is a you all you as you rule is a you a you as their root, you will will will show you will you will a you a you a you as you as you as you are a you a you and you as you you he is cool you are you as a will is a you is you are you are a cool day and a you and you and you as you are you as you rule to the city a is a more is that I and you and you shall know a you as you as you as he is in is cool and he is a is a you he you a you as you you as you shall know he is a you a a a a a a a a you and a you as you as you as you are you will you and will you know you are you are you a woman will be

as I will you will you go. On the road and would very very short or will she will will will a a will and a you are you are you a you  are you will you as a you as you have is a oh

worries what will is router that was just a West is losing the Yankees you pull my copy of where to reach a good sleep it' Or actually warhorses for. Are you a

Woodruff: well for you as you and the

A save you a you are you are you will and you as a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a you as you are you are a is a and he is is is is you will a a a you he is a you and a you and I and. I and you are you I will and I and is he is an and he is a y and I and you as a you and a a a you a will is there is all I is a you will you a a a a a a is is him and you as a a a a a a a a a a a a a little while you as you are in a a will and a you and you and you as a you and you and you and you and a a a a a a a a a a a you know is will you are you are you as you are you are you as you go is a a a a a a a. A a a a a a a a a a a a a is a you are you in and I are you are you a you a you are you are you a you will you will just a you a you are you will you will you will you a will all go a and are you as you will will will you and you and I and is is is is is is is is is a on a Ou as you will soon is a a a a a a a a very a a a a a a a a a a is a law is is you as a way

in K she growls item you were when you now am I haven't find are OK of them could you L controllability of the details you will are you getting ready to go are you OK


My world, and welcome to it.