Friday, December 29, 2023

Happy New Year: Looking back, looking about… but no looking ahead just yet

A couple months ago when my Uncle Mike (my dad’s younger brother) passed, his family displayed various photos at the service of my uncle and his brothers from their younger years.  I was greatly surprised when I saw the one above of my own dad, as I’ve never seen a photo of him this young before.

That’s Dad on the left of course, looking 6-7 years old from 1943.  Knowing I had a photo of myself at around the same age in 1967, I thought I’d do a side by side (like I’ve done of Dad & myself before, here).  I find it hard to believe these two photos are only 24 years apart.

What I mean is, I’m betting our family wasn’t any wealthier than Dad’s was in the 1940s; but I think in the 1960s there was a greater emphasis placed on the look of success.  I remember the story behnd this suit on the right quite well; my mom was so upset with my ‘hobo look’ in my first grade school photos, she said never again and picked out these nifty threads from the 1967 Sears catalog. 

Thanks to Google, I was able to look up my suit and the price was $11.99, shirt & tie included (around $90.00 in today’s dollars).  I got some good use out of that suit (much to my mom’s delight) as my second grade teacher Mrs. Brown had a thing for us kids dressing up a couple times that year.  And in the last week of school, our entire class came to her home for a ‘hot lunch’, girls in dresses, boys in ties. 

Mrs. Brown had a son three years older than myself, also named Doug which intrigued me; I’d never met another Doug before.  I remember asking him if I could see his room—he said yes—and asking him if he wanted to be friends.  He said no.  Oh well!

Meanwhile in the present, my tmj has put a real damper on things, my blog writing included.  I swear, I’m not looking for sympathy or attention—I just want it to be over.  It’s put a halt to things in my life (like going to the senior center) and I’m left with little energy to do anything except apply hot & cold compresses, stare at the tv and wait for things to get better.

I had this three times before—the first was in July 2016, lasting seven months.  At the time I had no idea what it was, and wound up spending $3000 on specialists and various oral appliances, all of which did no good.   My second bout was a year later and only lasted 6 weeks.  My third was horrendous, and went on for over two years.

So far it’s been two weeks and I’m hoping (as I’m sure it was ‘woken up’ by my recent battle with covid) it fades as quickly as it surfaced.  Thanks for letting me share and on that note…

Happy New Year Everyone

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Computers, covid & Christmas: life goes on & on

Remember me?  It’s been three weeks since I’ve last written, but feels a lot longer for some reason.  In my last post, I lamented that my 2011 laptop had finally bit the big one and I’d lost all my stuff and was unable to blog again for the time being.

Shortly after that, an old friend and former classmate reached out and told me about an apparatus on Amazon for extracting data from a defunct computer’s hard drive.  I was surprised to hear from her, we had a falling out a couple years ago and I assumed I’d never hear from her again.  She’s a better person than I gave her credit for, and it meant a lot.  Thanks Pen.

Around the same time I got my new laptop (which I’ve yet to do anything with), I learned my neighborhood pharmacy was shutting down, part of the big Rite-Aid bankruptcy.  My bp & heart medications were re-directed to the nearest Giant Eagle, a couple miles from me and not acessible by public transportation.  My old friend Susie drove me there, but the next day contacted me and said “Dougie, I have bad news.  You know I’ve been staying with my sister-in-law… she tested positive for covid this morning.  We’re probably next.”

Sure enough, two days later on Saturday December 9, I awoke feeling like someone had beaten me up while I slept.  Went to the bathroom, grabbed a covid test from my medicine cabinet and yep—I was positive for covid.

I know covid treats everyone differently—some people get slammed and wind up going to the hospital, for others it’s nothing more than a bad cold.  Mine was pretty rough, and for the next 4-5 nights I had a 102.6-103.0 fever.  I’d go to bed with my teeth clamped down from my baking head, and wake up in the morning with my teeth chattering from wet bedsheets soaked with perspiration.

My local senior center was wonderful during this time.  They checked in on me regularly, and since I couldn’t attend the annual holiday party, stopped by to drop off a nice gift and some holiday goodies.


I wish I could say things ended on a happy note, but exactly one day later—Saturday December 16—I awoke with my right jaw swollen, and my cheekbones and both eyes burning.  I wondered if all the stress from that covid had reactivated my TMJ disorder. 

I can’t say for sure what it is, but right now I’m dealing with a lot of mouth soreness and inflammation.  I was able to show my doctor using my smartphone, he thinks it could be a sinus infection, but won’t prescribe antibiotics just yet.  He has me on a couple of prescription strength decongestants for the rest of the week and says we’ll go from there.

While I am having some difficulty eating, at this time of year my local deli sells various holiday “fluffs” of roast turkey and ham & pineapple that are very soft & billowy, and require no chewing.  They’ll help me ride things out, but I’m sure things will return to normal soon. 

I want to look at events from a positive perspective; in the last couple weeks, I’ve lost 7.8 pounds!  This is the kick in the pants I needed to get things in motion.

Another good thing that resulted from posting my tech-woes here, I have my old laptop working again, sort of.  Someone local who wishes to remain anonymous wrote and asked me the particulars of my defunct laptop.  He recommended a couple accessories on Ebay which I got a couple days ago and wonder of wonders, did “re-energize” my laptop. 

I don’t know how much longer this old girl is going to last, but at least now I have a little more time, and can shoot out a couple more blogs using good old Windows 7. 

I sure hope everyone out there is doing well, thanks for listening and Merry Christmas.


Saturday, December 2, 2023

This was supposed to be a love story, not a goodbye

If there are gods of irony or karma up there, they’re probably looking down at me right now and having a real laugh at my expense.  I have no one to blame but myself.

Several nights ago I received my umpteenth warning from Windows that it could not perform security updates, as my Windows 7 operating system was out of date.  I told myself that 2024 was definitely going to be the year I bought a new laptop.

I bought my current laptop in February 2012, a Toshiba Satellite L750 with a custom trim in gloss chocolate.  (It came with a 500gb hard drive and 4gb RAM if you want to get technical about it.) 

For the last 12 years, it’s served me very well. 

As December marks my 18th year of blogging, I thought I’d write a blog singing the praises of my Toshiba and how I hope it gets me through the next couple years, at least.  I did what I always do—I wrote my blog on my desktop using a 2009 blog-editor.  I added photos to it using a 2009 photo-editor. 

I moved it to the internet (to my online Drafts folder), then waited until the next morning to post it on my blog.  I always wait and publish new blogs in the mornings. 

Anyway—this past Thursday morning, I turned on my laptop, it revved up like it always does, then sputtered out.  I checked my charger, tried it again—my laptop sprang to life for 3-4 minutes, then out it went again.  I spent the day trying to get it working, but it’s pretty much kaput.

Panic set in as my whole digital life was on that machine.  It’s where I manage my investments, track my retirement spending, read & send emails, and write my blog.

I have other ways to get to the internet, like my Samsung Galaxy tablet—it allows me to read ebooks, watch movies & Youtube videos, go online and read others blogs—but I cannot create blogs on it.  I can’t edit photos or compose blog-drafts on it.

In fact, the only reason you’re seeing this right now is because the “love story” I wrote was moved online before my laptop croaked.  I’m using my tablet to change what this said. 

So I suppose what I’m saying now is, I may be off the grid for awhile.  I need to buy a new laptop, and learn Windows 11.  I have no idea what I’m going to use to edit photos or write blog drafts with, as I’m pretty sure those 2009 editors on my Toshiba are not compatible with today’s operating systems.

Here’s what I ordered from Amazon this morning, set to arrive next week.  Wish me luck, and I hope I get to talk to everyone again real soon.