This is the day of the year you cannot believe any news you consume. In other words, a day just like the other 364 days in the year. With one exception, of course. Leap year.
Sometimes life throws you a curve. We had planned to go to Edmonton on April 7th for me to do some safety training.
On March 30th we both got our Covid-19 jabs. On April 6th when I woke up, Juanita said, “I think I’m having a heart attack. You need to take me to the hospital.” By the time I got dressed she was feeling better and said she could drive herself, then that she really didn’t want to go in. She was “fine”. We went.
When we were outside the door to Emergency she said that she didn’t want to waste their time. I pushed her out of the car then waited for her to go in. Mistakenly we thought that with Covid rules she was on her own so I went a few blocks away and parked next to a wi-fi hotspot to back-up the phone data. Around 8 she texted me “just need to do some bloodwork” and then could "go home". She said I was allowed to come into emergency as a visitor.
The blood tests showed enzymes from a heart attack. They took her to Saskatoon by ambulance and I followed by car. There was 99% blockage from a blood clot in one location. All other arteries were fine. They put in a stent. By the 8th she felt ready to go home and they agreed. She seems to be doing fine now. She’s back to normal with her daily walks. A few questions remain. How long will she be on some of these drugs? Did the vaccine cause the clot? Who knows?
Visiting the hospital was a new experience for this shy woodland critter. There was a hand sanitizer station where you sanitized your hands and were issued a blue surgical mask to replace your more effective N95 mask. Then you went to a window like in a theatre ticket booth and were interrogated as to your movement history and current body functions and checked against a database of approved visitors. The limit for visitation was one hour, once a day. Visiting in the CCU (Cardiac Care Unit) was not time limited, however. Once Juanita was moved upstairs to a regular ward that would change. Fortunately, on many levels, her recovery was so good that they discharged her directly from the CCU. On Thursday, as I arrived at the hospital parking lot, she texted me they were releasing her in a couple of hours and I went back to the hotel and checked out.
On the Wednesday afternoon I had run a bunch of the city-type errands that had been scheduled for the Edmonton trip. Driving from store to store and then walking to and around each store plus the walking to the CCU and back racked up more steps then all but one day since starting to track steps last year.
Costco stood out as the oddest shopping experience. They still had samples people. Instead of handing out samples of food they just stand next to a Plexiglas case displaying what they aren’t handing out. All the tables had been removed from the food court and replaced by appliance displays. You could order food but it was only take-out.
As part of the CCU checkout procedure they issue a package of drug prescriptions. We tried contacting our usual pharmacy in Meadow Lake to make sure they would have the rarer of the drugs. They didn’t answer their phone. I went on their web site and discovered a notice that they had had a Covid infected staff member and had shut down for a period. The prescription was faxed to their competitor and a phone check confirmed they had what was needed. No need to hang around and wait for the hospital pharmacy to issue. “See you at four.” And we were on the road picking up a frozen item on the way out of town and hitting a drive thru. Glad to be headed home. Glad all the errands got done yesterday.
Back home we settled into routine. After a couple days of building up to it Juanita was back to her forty-five minutes to an hour a day walking.
Have you noticed yourself becoming your parents?
My mother would give stuff that she no longer wanted to our kids when they were visiting. We weren’t always completely grateful to get more stuff. The month started with poking around in the sea can looking for things that our granddaughter might want or need. We took some items that she didn’t want to the local Thrift store and threw a few things out. Poco a poco as they say in the deep deep south.
I continued updating old web pages starting where I left off last month at January 2012 and got to the end. Need to go back and start adding pictures to those 3 or 4 pages when we were in countries where we relied on hotel lobby computers, but the words are as up to date as they are likely to get.
We celebrated Sonja’s birthday in a low key, quasi Covid fashion.
Something actually done in March but not mentioned was a friend coached me with a demo video he made. He showed me how to use the Audacity program to reduce background noise in the digitized tracks from old cassette tapes. I did a couple just to learn how. Much better. Thanks, David. Something to do the next time I’m housebound by weather or the Stasi.
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I’m not sure why anyone needs one of these, but I bought a Travel FrotherUSA link and played with it. Makes coffee more enjoyable. If it breaks I won’t buy another.
We bought some USB iPhone Charging CableUSA link that have one end that can be used both for Android (Micro USB) and Apple. Have to carry half as many cables when travelling.
Toward the end of the month we went to Edmonton to take the safety course that had been cancelled to be in Saskatoon for Juanita’s procedure. Alberta cities' reactions to Covid are old hat to the residents by now. After a year of not travelling much it was a revelation to us.
We managed to parse the rules and find that we could legally childmind grandkids if the parents went out for a couples’ massage and dinner. I guess it’s still “dinner out” if the restaurant only can offer take-out and you go sit in your car somewhere to eat it.
The hotel (nameless) had offered a rapid check-in option on-line. I did that and gave an arrival time of between 4 and 6. When we arrived there was a line-up of un-pre-registered guests in front of us, slowly providing all the information I did on-line.
We left and put our luggage back in the car trunk.
One year I spent four nights a week in a downtown Edmonton hotel. Pre-registration there, at that time, meant I just grabbed my envelope off the rack, grabbed a free apple out of the basket and went to my room. I understand the apples not being available with Covid, but there is no rationale for the get in line anyway approach.
We checked in later. At check-in we were informed our free breakfasts would be available as a box lunch, at 7:30. That meant I’d be late for the course on the first morning, go hungry (not the worst option, really) or buy breakfast elsewhere. The guide book in the room says 6:30. I seem to recall the property profile said 6:30 as well, but I don’t bother checking. Even I am not that obsessive.
The morning of the course we are on the road early. There is a McDonald’s kitty corner from the hotel. I use my McD’s app and order a regular egg McMuffin for Juanita and an egg McMuffin sans muffin for me. We pick up our coffees and bag of breakfast sandwiches in the drive thru and head toward the course.
Miles away, when we unwrap them, we encounter two spicy, breaded chicken cutlets in English Muffins. We ate them anyway. Kinda vile tasting and definitely not low carb, but you eat what you kill. Speaking of killing, I wonder what the response was of the person who ended up with my muffinless McMuffin.
The second morning we had no deadlines so hung around for the "free" breakfast. Remember, kiddies, free always comes at a price. Often traded for irreplaceable time.
At the course I entered into the building, answered the questions, sanitized my hands, got fogged with disinfectant and had my temperature taken. I was advised to remember the temperature since I would need to put it on the form at the start of the class. Later in the day when I went for my respirator fit test and was waiting in the same lobby I was apologetically asked to fill the form again. "Procedures."
Not a problem, I haven’t worked in industry since 1965 without being willing to do meaningless things.
The course went well with everybody spread out and mostly wearing masks. We did the written exam in the morning and the practical exercises in the afternoon with an hour for lunch in the middle. I managed to do the errands on my list during lunch. This was the first day I have worn a mask almost the full day since we came back to Canada last year. Can’t say I’m a fan. Don’t go all Karen on me, now. I’m not saying I won’t do it as necessary. I don’t like getting old, either, but I don’t have any plans of opting out of that.
Rumble in the North Woods
That header doesn’t have the same zing as “Rumble in the Jungle” does, it? Oh well. This month I experimented by adding a few videos to Rumble, a competitor to YouTube. Will add a few more in the future, I would expect. Here they are.
Cat Trees Bear
Chinese Face Shift Dance
Books of This Month
Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair. Canada linkUSA link The author is a world-renowned geneticist with labs at Harvard and in Sydney, Australia. He conjectures that it is possible and may actually be simple to fight aging. People could live much longer while at the same time be much more healthy in their final years before going quickly at the end. The book is a bit deep into biochemistry in places but a fascinating read when he talks about his and related research results. It gets a bit noisy from the rumble strips when he wanders out of his lane of expertise and plugs Northeastern United States Liberal tropes, but we are used to filtering out that noise, aren’t we?
He does not make recommendation but there are promising things we can do to maybe increase our health span if not our life span if we are already older. Get skinny. Get cold (and maybe hot) once in a while. Be hungry once in a while. There are also promising drugs and supplements that have not been fully tested in humans: NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide), Resveratrol and Metformin for three. He takes those.
If the research works out it is tremendous news for the next generation. There is an excellent chance the millennials will live long enough to pay off their student loans for economically silly degrees even at barista wages. Or they can do what this guy did.
Grave Descend by John Lange. Canada linkUSA link Another lurid cover. Another early book by Michael Crichton. A sunken boat in the Caribbean. Fun read.
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene. Canada linkUSA link Graham Greene was a co-worker of Malcom Muggeridge, whose autobiography is reviewed below. At times they were both British Spies. This funny novel by Green shows some of the bureaucratic bumbling that spy agencies are capable of. We have the movie on order. I hear it is fun, as well.
The True Story of the Great Escape by Jonathan F. Vance. Canada linkUSA link This Canadian author became obsessed with the Great Escape at a young age and eventually tracked down and interviewed as many of the survivors as possible. This book based on his interviews and other research is even more gripping than the superficial coverage by the movie.
The Energy Paradox:What to Do When Your Get-Up-and-Go Has Got Up and Gone (The Plant Paradox, 6) by Dr. Steven R. Gundy. Canada linkUSA link This is an interesting read. I have no idea why I bothered borrowing it from the library as I don’t particularly suffer from lack of energy. I guess I have seen a few YouTube clips where the doc and his books are mentioned. As interesting as it is, colour me skeptical overall. It just seems like one of those situations where if all you have is a hammer the world looks like a nail. The premise of the book seems to be that we all suffer from leaky gut and that is caused by leptins in foods that we commonly eat. Not sure I want to climb onto that one trick pony. As others have said there are other things such as NSAIDS that cause leaky gut. It is interesting that the good doc also sells supplements that just might be just what you need.
Other than that, the book explores other research on some good ideas that may be worth following but not necessarily for the reasons he says. Time controlled eating is one of them. Mouse research showed that mice that ate in a narrow time frame lived much longer than mice allowed to eat around the clock even though the time-controlled mice ate as much as the browsers. It didn’t seem to matter what they ate, either. The high-fat, high sugar time-controlled cohort lived as long as the healthy diet time-controlled mice. They tended to die from cancer, however.
Once I hit near where my weight feels right I may play with some of his suggested vegetables and oils (sesame oil) and stay away from some of his no list items.
The doctor may not be as keen on getting the prescription ahead of the diagnosis as my impression of the book suggests. One of James Altucher’s podcast guests says he stalked Dr. Gundy for a year and went through an extensive battery of tests and then follow up tests to see how he was responding to the seventy (!) supplements a day he takes.
When the Bough Breaks by Jonathan Kellerman. Canada linkCanada link Another darkish mystery with psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware as the main character. Keeps you guessing.
Just Eat: One Reporter’s Quest for a Weight-Loss Regimen That Works by Barry Estabrook. Canada linkUSA link Estabrook tries all sorts of diets and gains the weight back each time. Eventually he gains enough knowledge of his eating habits that he overcomes his self-delusions and changes what and how he eats. Spoiler Alert: He loses the weight and stays skinny without fad diets.
The Kaiser’s Web by Steve Berry. Canada linkUSA link A modern day political thriller based on the mystery of what happened in the final days in the Fuhrer’s bunker
Shaken by Kevin Tumlinson. Canada linkUSA link “Alex Kayne wanted to make the world a better, safer place for everyone – now she’s on the run.” A quickly written, quick-to-read thriller that is worth every penny of the teaser price through Bookbub. I enjoyed it enough I ordered a couple more of Tumlinson’s books through the local library. Finished those in May.
We all tend to think history started with us. Teens think they invented love and its accessories. Fake news is not a new thing. History may seem old to us but it happened in real time. A time travel novel I read recently has the character a bit gobsmacked by going back over a hundred years and expecting everything to be grey and sepia. It was in living colour! This author brings history alive.
Malcolm Muggeridge was a journalist in England in the twenties and thirties. He became disillusioned with the lies the newspapers were knowingly printing. He decided to move to the worker’s paradise of the Soviet Union with his family in the 1930’s. Cue further disillusionment. He mentions the cover-up by the New York Times of the massive death count in the Ukraine from Soviet policy. After leaving Russia, while he still could, he passed through Nazi Germany and saw the other side of the same totalitarian coin.
The book goes on to cover the rest of his life, his travels to India and his activities in the Second World War. He was a bit of a cad. He treated his wife poorly. The book is a bit of a slog at times with lots of inside baseball historical and literary references. It is also a compelling account of Muggeridge turning from disillusionment with man to a faith in God.
The Gray Lady Winked: How the New York Time’s Misreporting, Distortions and Fabrications Radically Alter History by Rindsberg et al. Canada linkUSA link From the water is wet genre. I haven’t read this, but the title says it all.