Monday, December 22, 2008

Family time

Earlier this afternoon I found myself saying, "I do not have a stud in my butt!" and that can only mean one thing. Yes, my sister put me to work hanging shelves, curtain rods and various other things and my little nephew found the stud sensor all sorts of fun (and, yes, we made all the jokes that you have to make while using a stud sensor.). And, oh yeah, that means that I'm in Atlanta for Christmas. Tomorrow I think I get to help put together chairs and a table. Guess I'm earning my keep this trip (not that I mind. I enjoy home repair and improvement.).

My rental car is from Alamo this trip. Hotwire failed me in finding a reasonable price, so I gave Priceline's "make an offer" feature a try. And ended up saving almost $6 a day. So, score! Alamo has a "pick your own car" feature where the shuttle bus drops you off in front of a group of cars that in your class and lets you pick whatever you want. That makes a lot of sense to me. Much less work for them than having to assign people specific cars. And it's a "perk" because the customer gets to pick what they want. I had about six cars to choose from in the "economy/compact" section (why yes, I am cheap). I started off looking at a little Toyota Yaris, but decided I wanted four doors. Next I thought about a Kia Spectra. Those are fun (although kinda cheap feeling) vehicles. But that one smelled like smoke. Next up was a red Dodge something...I don't remember the name. I wasn't thrilled with it, but it was brand new, had four doors and an aux input to the radio (a requirement if I'm picking my rental car. All of the cars I sized up had that. Apparently it's pretty much standard now. I bought my car too early.) So I put my duffle in the back and was going to get in the car when I realized that a new car had showed up in the group. And it looked oddly familiar. Although it was dark grey, it reminded me a lot of my car. And, sure enough, it was a Pontiac Vibe (which is essentially the same car as my Toyota Matrix). Score! I really enjoy my Matrix and since I wasn't really excited about any of my other car options, I chose the Vibe. The feel is a little different than my Matrix. I think that's mostly because it's an automatic with all wheel drive rather than my manual transmission, front wheel drive Matrix. The interior layout is also different. I like the Matrix better. But, the Vibe has one distinct advantage over my Matrix....satellite radio. I think, based on looking at Alamo's web, I got a free upgrade. The Vibe is classified as a midsize car (who knew) and I know satellite radio generally costs more in anything smaller than a full size rental. But, the guy at the gate let me out without any problems and my receipt shows that I owe $0.00 (going through Priceline or Hotwire, you pay when you make the reservation), so I think I'm good. Yeah! Fun car to drive for the week.

Mom and Dad get in tomorrow and I'm hanging out with some friends from school and their new little daughter (about seven weeks old...I think) tomorrow for dinner. Should be fun. Now I just have to wait for everyone (or at least everyone little) to go to bed so that I can unpack my duffle bag and unearth the presents that I wrapped up in my socks and t-shirts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shuttle and surgery and shopping...oh my!

I got to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour this afternoon!
Enroute from California to Florida, the 747/Space Shuttle combination aircraft landed on the runway which Lockheed shares with the joint reserve base (or whatever it's currently called.  Everyone who's been in Fort Worth for a while pretty much calls it Carswell) this afternoon.  Word got around cubeville and it was like an aerospace geek convention in the parking lot to watch it land.  Once again, the binoculars that I keep in my desk for just such an occasion came in very handy.

I've seen the Shuttle in the air, on its way to land at Edwards before and I've seen it on the ground already atop the 747 (also at Edwards), but this is the first time I had seen the 747 and shuttle in flight.  It's an impressive sight to see.  747s are big airplanes, and the Shuttle's a generously sized bird herself.  To see the two of them together almost lumbering through the air as they came in for a landing (note to self, look up the landing speed for that configuration) was very cool.  Definitely the high point of my day...possibly my week.  Although we've got our work Christmas luncheon at Texas de Brazil (Brazilian steak house = carnivore paradise) tomorrow, so I'll have to reevaluate after that.

In other news, I'm going to have to have knee surgery...Maybe that's not quite right.  I've decided to have knee surgery.  As my orthopedist put it, there comes a time when you have to stop beating your head against the wall and decide whether you want to live with the pain or do something more invasive.  Since everything else that we've tried (change in activities/rest, oral drugs, physical therapy, drugs directly into my knee) has failed to completely alleviate the condition, he's convinced that we've come to that time.  We still don't know with 100% certainty what's going on inside my knee.  And that bothers me a little.  But, apparently MRIs only show about 85% of the bad stuff that goes on in knees (this was news to me).  So there's a good chance that it's still something fairly simple.  My orthopedist is convinced that it's one of three things: meniscus tear (his favorite), cartilage wear/issue or something about a fold in the knee sack that's rubbing on something that's possibly cartilage (that one has a big, two word name that has a couple of p's in it.  I didn't write it down and don't remember more than that.).  Fortunately all three are repairable with the same type of arthroscopic surgery.

Tuesday 6 January is the big day.  If all goes well, there's a good chance I will walk out of the surgery and be relatively pain free by the end of the week.  With some physical therapy, I should be running before Ground Hog Day and ready to jump and twist and turn by Valentine's.

This afternoon, after I got off the phone with my orthopedist and we set the day, I sent an email to a couple of my friends from my church who are a part of the mercy committee.  That's the group that handles, among other things, dealing with short term and chronic needs in our church family.  In less than an hour I had a reply back saying that my transportation and first day or three after surgery care needs were all taken care of and that meals would be coordinated. (Yeah, I'm gonna get great, home cooked meals delivered directly to my door out of this as well some quality time with my couch.  The only bad is that I have to get my knee cut up some...from the inside.  I'm going to have to figure out if the good doesn't outweigh the bad.)  I know I say it often, but not often enough: My church rocks!  These people, my family who I'm not related to, are amazing.  Knowing that all of this stuff will be taken care of has really made it so much easier and less stressful to confront this whole surgery situation.  God has truly blessed me in this way.

And on the Christmas shopping front, I think I'm almost done.  Woo-Hoo!  Now I just have to figure out how to get everything to Atlanta.  I need to figure out if it's more cost effective to pay to check a second bag (I'm going to need to check at least one) or to ship bulky toys and other things.  Apparently I got too many good deals at brick and mortar stores this year and didn't do near enough on-line shopping.

Oh and I also gave Vizini's "worthless, friendless, unemployed in Green Land" (starts about 5:10) speech to a computer today.  I was trying to run something on a machine that's supposed to be this smoking fast, quad processor thing that we can remotely connect to and run big batch jobs on.  But it was being painfully slow in getting things set-up.  My coworker (and former cubemate and fellow sci-fi geek) recognized the quote and commented that I watch way too many movies.  I counter that I actually watch very few movies, I just watch the good ones many, many times and quote from those.  I think most people don't realize how few movies I do quote from (mainly Princess Bride, Hunt for Red October and Serenity with some Buffy/Angel/Firefly/Lost in Space and a few other tv show quotes thrown in for good measure).  The thing is, I tend to pick the more obscure quotes, so people think I'm actually quoting more sources than I really am.  Either that, or people don't realize that I'm quoting something and think that I come up with these things on my own (rarely the case).