Saturday, April 25

Wi-fi pacemaker check and flying wheelbarrows

WiFi pacemaker check:

The technician put a programming wand (resembles a large mixing spoon with a hole in the center on the end of a cord attached to a monitor) around my neck and dropped it over my left shoulder to where my new pacemaker (installed in January 2015) is and then instantly removed it. 
"What's wrong?", I inquired. I've had a pacemaker for over six years and when it is checked (about twice a year) the wand was used throughout the check. 
"Nothing is wrong. See this antenna on top of the monitor? It is reading your pacemaker by Wi-fi." The brief use of the wand established a connection between my pacemaker and the monitor.  
This was not the only surprise awaiting me. The second technician asked if I would like her to monitor my pacemaker continuously from home by telephone. She explained, and I signed on. Some equipment will come in the mail which I will hook it up to the house phone and it will be connected to a computer monitored by the technician. We had some friendly banter about her staying awake 24/7 to monitor me and she assured me it wouldn't be that intimate.
Progress is always underway. Some pacemakers currently have a battery with a 8 to 10 year life expectancy.  Swiss scientists are testing to see if the heart itself could power the pacemaker and make batteries obsolete. 

A fellow retiree in Arlington,VA, told me this story recently:

It has been annoyingly windy up here all week long, preventing me from flying.  And here is where our story begins....


In search of simulated flight today, I headed to Leesburg to use the school's full motion simulator.  With a head full of aeronautical thoughts I set out on Interstate 66, west....

Traveling down I-66 west at the speed limit, because that is how I drive, I was being passed rather frequently by cars and SUVs driven by self absorbed very important people on their way to big and important meetings.  

I was driving in the right inner lane of the four lanes.  Over in the fast lane was a large truck loaded with all sorts of lawn care equipment.  Positioned on top of the pile of equipment were two heavy duty wheelbarrows.  They were positioned such that the tops of the wheelbarrows were facing downward.  

I was boxed in by speeding cars to my left and right with another behind me coming up fast.  Not wanting to be reared ended, I slowed and fortunately the guy behind me slowed too.  We came to a rapid halt as the wheelbarrow now cascading down the interstate headed right for my car.
It must have bounced 5 or 6 times before coming to a halt about 3 feet in front of my car as I stopped.  The wheelbarrow was perfectly upright.  

Think about that:  worked all these years and learned to fly only to be killed by a flying wheelbarrow--on the way to the airport.  Not a way to go.....

I pulled off the road and saw two men get out of a truck behind me and push the wheelbarrow off the road.  As for the truck that lost the wheelbarrow, he never slowed down.

Sunday, March 8

Cranberries Don't Help

Bloomberg Businessweek (March 2-8, 2015) ran a major story on how Kellogg's, after 109 years of being in business,  has lost the breakfast meal. This was of particular interest to me because I have been eating Kellogg's Raisin Bran practically every morning since the decade of the 60s. (By now I ought to be on pension from Kellogg.) For most of that time it was one cup of RB and a half-cup of Kellogg's All-Bran. The latter recommended by my mother "for regularity."

Kellogg's has more than 25 cereal brands, most aimed at kids and parents on the go. Frosted Flakes are their number one seller. Raisin Bran and Rice Krispies are close to the bottom of the revenue stream. 

Efforts are being made ( it's called "a long-term rescue plan") to regain market share, One effort adds cranberries to the Raisin Bran. It isn't working. 

I looked at four stores before I found any on a shelf, and then I used a 70 cents off coupon to buy a box. I needed a magnifying glass to find the cranberries. There were only a few (apparently only raisins come in "Two Scoops.") The bran flakes were lighter in color than in the Raisin Bran without. There was no taste of the cranberries or cranberry flavor.

Wednesday, January 28

The Interview

On Tuesday night Netflix surprised by offering The Interview for instant viewing. This is the film that got North Korea bent out of shape because it pokes fun at "Dear Leader," ("Dear Leader" in black on the right.)

and led (or not) to cyber-hacking Sony Corporation which wasted a lot of money putting this piece of trash together.  Shareholders ought to revolt. If it was not for the controversy created by offending "Dear Leader" and his minions,  this film would have been of no interest to anyone and the master copy of the film would have gone straight to some vault for unreleased films in the Arizona desert.

The story line is two PR guys who specialize in TV nonsense calculated to titillate the masses are going to North Korea to interview "Dear Leader." This comes about because "Dear Leader" allegedly watches every episode of the TV program these nut cases are connected with and wants to be on their show. Hence they are invited to broadcast the show from North Korea. To assure it goes well, "Dear Leader" will write the questions to be put to him. Along the way, the CIA gets wind of this and not an agency to let an opportunity go to waste prevails on the two showmen to kill "Dear Leader." This is where I ought to have shut the film off and gone to something more worthwhile, e.g. picking the lint out from between my toes.

But I hung in there. (What does that say about me? I hung in there for research purposes sounds sort of lame.)

North Korea and "Dear Leader" rightly ought to be insulted by this film. Not because it pokes fun at "Dear Leader," but because it is such a terrible film. It has more usage of the F word as a noun, verb, adjective and adverb than an hour of Lewis Black The dialogue and premise is so stupidly insulting to even the least average among us it makes your skin crawl. Watching it in the privacy of your home is the only redeeming feature: your neighbors won't see you coming out of a viewing at your local theater.

Thursday, January 15

Drones, mothers and deaths

A couple of paragraphs I read recently made me think about the world around me.  And then there was some sad news more personal and closer to home.

"The drone and surveillance program, like much of counterterrorism today, are driven principally by two phenomena: on the one hand, previously unthinkable terrorist threats, and on the other, equally unanticipated technological developments. These twin factors have motivated and enabled security agencies to undertake measures that were once impossible--and to do so in secret, without the awareness, much less approval of the people on whose behalf they act."  (David Cole, Must Counterterrorism Cancel Democracy, The New York Review of Books, January 5, 2015. Pg 26.)

Thirteen years after 9/11, much thinking is looking back. At 9/11, I, and most Americans, did not care what the security agencies did with or without our approval. We only wanted to strike back. We did not ask to be consulted then; why now complain?
"When my mom picked me up at the airport from my LaGuardia flight, she was wearing a designer coat she got on eBay. It was too tight, and it made her look like she was hunchback. She hadn't been washing her hair, and she had a pronounced bald spot . It was Thanksgiving, in 2009." (Amie Barrodale, My Mother's Apartment, Harper's, December, 2014.Pg. 38.)

My mom never picked me up at any airport nor bought clothes on eBay. As she got older she was fastidious about her hair and had it done almost weekly. Amie has written ten short stories, all revolving around her mother. 

Closer to home, my brother-in-law, Edward Cooper, died January 8 in Florida early in the morning. A few hours later his sister, Bertha Cooper Westbury McMillan, died in Georgetown, S.C., where she was born and lived all of her life. 

At my marriage to Mary Cooper in 1954, Edward walked his sister down the aisle and gave her in marriage; Bertha and Mary were always close as sisters ought to be. I visited Bertha and her husband Harold, in December 2014.

Thursday, January 1

A new baby for the New Year

Yesterday, when I blogged ending the year I had no idea 2014 was not really over for me or my family. It held one more wonderful surprise. One that was not expected until some time in January. At 8:58 last night my granddaughter-in-law, Rondalyn, gave birth to Steven Francis Archibald and made me a great-grandfather. His father, Steven, text-ed to tell us the newest member of our family weighed in at 6 pounds, 15 ounces and was 22 1/2 inches long. This is a most happy and delicious moment in his parents life - and my life -  and was made even happier this morning when I learned the baby's name. At the request of his parents, we are not putting any pictures on social websites at this time. They will make that family decision at some future date.

I plan to travel to the Charleston area on the weekend to get a first look at our first great-grandchild. It will be an exciting time. This newest member of our family will find himself loved by all and prayerfully blessed by the Lord.

Wednesday, December 31

The New Year Cometh

Today is the last day of the old year, 2014. It had its bright moments and flashes of sorrow. In many ways it was like so many other years that preceded it.

And then tomorrow, like always, the New Year will come and bring with it fresh experiences, joys, laughter; maybe good health, maybe not. The world around us will spin for better or worse and be a reminder of how insignificant we - you and I as individuals - truly are. I read recently there are more stars than grains of sand in the world. That is some hard math and not for the mathematically challenged who have trouble balancing a checkbook.

Hopefully, we will stay in touch with family and our old friends and make a new one or two. (I anticipate being a Great Grandfather in January, and this fills my heart with joy.) We will visit some new places, look at new movies, listen to new songs, read good books, taste new food and drinks. In short, live the good life we have been blessed with. We will have to be prepared for some bad news and deal with it as best we can, whether it affects us as individuals, family or nation.

Being old in years does not bother me. I am 83 now and thankful for the life lived and anticipated.  I am a bit slower than at the beginning of 2014. I know it and so do some of my family. For years I visited a son in Washington area and always stayed with he and his wife at their four story townhouse. After a trip this year, they recognized the difficulty I was having with the stairs and he put me up in a nearby hotel on my next visit. No talk about getting old, just silent recognition of what long life brings.

My wife Joyce joins me in wishing all who see this message a Happy New Year. We will walk through it together, the good and the tough, and hope you all will do the same.  

Saturday, December 20

Christmas message

Christmas is the time of the year when families and friends gather to celebrate the Birth of Christ,

 give thanks for all the blessings of this life and remember those who have been of service to us this past year. 

It is also a time to ask God's blessing on the men and women who serve our country around the world and especially those who will be separated from love ones at this special time.

And to all who see this blog, "Merry Christmas" and may good things happen to you in 2015.
Part of a festival of lights at Hilton Head.
A child exults with joy.

Have a Merry Christmas!