Last month of the year.

For some reason it just seems like I haven’t been posting here in a very long time.  Except for the occasional funny joke or two there just hasn’t been anything of note.  My old computer (13 months old) that I tried very hard to get running has simply given up the ghost.  I think the motherboard has fried something but I am unable to locate the fault.  Naturally, there are no motherboards that will fit this case so I am left with a shell from which I have removed RAM, hard drive, video card, and power supply.  It now sits on the floor gathering dust (and serves as a cat hideout) while I flail away on my other machine.

Even the various animals haven’t played a large part this summer and fall.  Of course, I mad a bad decision to buy those horrible suet cakes and perhaps they thought I was trying to poison them.  (Cue: “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” by Tom Lehrer)  But I wasn’t, really.  I just tried to save a buck or so.  I learned my lesson.

My truck continues to decline.  Even at 85K miles, my ’97 Nissan Frontier is turning to rust before my eyes.  The latest was all four tires losing air through corroded tire rims.  The aluminum rims apparently reacted to the steel of the tire weights and created channels that eroded enough to break the seal.  I took them over to NTB and had all four tires remounted (for $100).  Now, at least, they hold air again.  I saw the condition they were in and it wasn’t pretty.  You don’t even want to know what my spare looked like.  It hung under the bed in a little chained cradle which was so corroded that the entire worm-gear mechanism used to lower the tire was a solid mass of rust.  I had to resort to cutting the T-bar to let the tire down.  When it hit the pavement, there was a POOF of air and the entire rim just disintegrated.  It seems that Nissan hadn’t figured that a tire lying flat against the bottom of the bed would act as a water/mud/gravel catchment.  Who knew?

As I gaze at my calendar for the month of December I am amazed that there are no marks on it.  In a given month, I may have as many as three or four doctor appointments, medication pickups, and other items that I need to write down.  If I don’t, I tend to forget them.  This has begun to worry me now – the forgetting thing.  Yesterday, I headed downstairs to do … something.  While I was down there I did three other things, but didn’t remember why I made the original trip.  It wasn’t until an hour later that I remembered I was supposed to take the clothes out of the dryer.

Speaking of the dryer, it has apparently blown a heating coil.  It was reported to me that “my load of clothes is still cold after a hour in the dryer” by my downstairs lodger.  Since, at the time, it was raining somewhere in the middle part of 3 inches of rain, going outside to hang them wasn’t an option. Today, I went over and spent $35 on a new element.  Hard to find one for a dryer that’s over 24 years old.

Even though I have retired from active computer programming I am still receiving help requests from some of my format clients.  I got an email the other day wanting me to figure out how to take a page full of frequencies, offsets, and frequency steps and put them into an EEPROM image so it could be sent up to a scanner.  I’ve done this sort of thing before, but the last time I did it was over a year ago.  Time makes me forgetful.  Have I said that before?  So now, I have to pore over the specifications documentation and re-figure out how to do it for the guy.  It is horribly tricky and I don’t blame him at all for seeking help.  The radio is a Radio Shack model that is built in Japan (I think) and has Korean tech support.  Any email to them results in something that reads like a assembly manual for the space shuttle (only from right to left and top to bottom).  I got to thinking about it yesterday and calculated I’ve been in the computer business now for 48 years.  That’s a hell of a long time and I find my interest is flagging a little.

The year 2012 will contain my 70th birthday.  Yuk!  That just doesn’t seem possible.  What seems more palatable for some reason is that 2013 will contain my 50th wedding anniversary.  We plan on some sort of cruise to commemorate these two events.  Since they fall in July and August, we thought maybe an Alaska cruise.  But, even though it would be nice, they are very expensive for some reason.  Since heading down into the Caribbean in the summer is madness, that only leaves a few places left.  We would love to take a Scandinavian cruise, especially one that hits St. Petersburg.  My whole time in the navy was spent intimately with the Soviet Union but, now that it is defunct, I would love to spend some time and check out what it has become.  One of the side trips is a train trip to Moscow.  I’d love that.  Another cruise could possibly be some sort of Asiatic cruise – maybe Australia/New Zealand, or Japan.  The main problem there is getting to and from any of the departure ports.  Plane tickes are very expensive.

A while back, I posted about the explosive decompression of my water softener.  We replaced it with Culligan service (and their water softener system).  The price for each bag of salt was a little higher than what we’d been paying ($6.50 vice $4.98) but now Culligan has quietly jacked up the price to $8.99 a bag.  The best part is that they only come around once every couple of months and dump EIGHT bags of salt into the hopper at a time.  Adding in the delivery fee ($5) this brings the total to over $75 bucks.  I have tried and tried to get them to come more often and give us less salt but it has fallen on deaf ears.  A small ray of hope appeared today in the form of ‘Hey!  Culligan Man!’ showing up and putting exactly four bags into our softener.  Maybe they’re finally getting the message.  Being on a rigidly fixed income sucks.

So, that’s about it for now.  It’s after 1800 and time for dinner but neither one of us has a clue what to fix.  Maybe we’ll just hot doggit.