Friday, December 04, 2009


Two weeks of silence. Here are some of the events of the last two weeks.

My plan for Thanksgiving week was to walk several miles each day, read an excellent book and write several posts for my blog. It began as a reasonable plan. Julie and I had scheduled seven days with her family in Amarillo and Borger, Texas. But, work took priority and vacation was not an option.

One of the benefits of my job is the ability to work remotely. Given a laptop, cell phone, fast Internet connection, email and instant messaging I can work anywhere in the world almost as well as I can in my office. The only thing I have to adapt is working with one horizontal monitor rather than dual vertical monitors.

We drove to Amarillo on Saturday and I worked half a day Sunday, my regular schedule the next three days and a few additional hours on Thanksgiving and Friday. Part of the time I was working on a problem that took me into thousands of lines of Cobol, a language that I haven't written in almost 20 years. It turned out to be an enjoyable problem.

On the trip to Texas we were stopped for gas in Gallup, New Mexico, when the sporting goods store in Amarillo phoned to let us know they had received the weight vest that Julie had requested for me. On Sunday afternoon I bought a 40 pounds vest and Julie bought a 20.

During the week I walked three to seven miles each day. Texas is lower in elevation and flat so the walking was easy. I did notice the pounding my feet took on concrete and blacktop. Most of my walking is normally on loose ground that absorbs some of the shock of each step.

Our trip was a little unusual in that I drove the entire way to and from Texas, a total of about 20 hours round trip. Normally Julie and I share driving but I've become addicted to reading together. I drive and she reads aloud. On the return trip we talked non-stop the first two hours then finished Malcom Gladwell's "What the Dog Saw". We began Timothy Egan's "The Worst Hard Time - The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl." I was surprised and entertained by the history of Germans who emigrated to Russia during the time of Catherine the Great, the plight of their descendants and their subsequent flight to the panhandle of Oklahoma. I never expected to learn a little Russian history in a book about the American dust bowl. Late in the trip Julie began getting hoarse from reading and talking so we turned on music.

During our trip we received a call from a neighbor inviting us to supper on Sunday. We quickly accepted the invitation and met a small group for an enjoyable evening of left overs and good conversation.

Last week at work was fast paced and I looked forward to a trip to Phoenix on Friday with hopes of going swimming at a resort and meeting some friends we haven't seen in months. The weather didn't cooperate so there was no swimming. Several months ago Julie volunteered for a research project related to Alzhiemers that is being conducted in Phoenix. She was selected for consideration and had to complete some forms and give a blood sample for DNA testing to see if she has one of three markers of interest. She may be invited to participate in the research which has been ongoing for the last 14 years. If she is selected she'll never know if she has the DNA related to Alzheimer's or is in the control group. Regardless, it's a good thing and I admire her for volunteering.

Yesterday morning at breakfast I created a list of 26 items on a to-do list. Some were quick and easy (check the propane tank, cistern, garden), some took only a few minutes (load recycling item in the car, take compost materials to the garden, fill the generator with gas) and others required more time (joint and glue oak steps leading to the utility room). Late today, with Julie's help, I finished the eighteenth item (pot some new plants). That leaves eight items for later in the week or next weekend.

At the moment the wind is blowing and the forecast is for several inches of snow. Probability is 100% for tomorrow night. Julie is hoping for a snow day. I'm not as optimistic since this is finals week at the University. If the forecast is correct, I may be able to write some of the posts that I had planned for last week.


Blogger Tim Hodgens said...

Welcome back.

Is Julie part of the REVEAL project?


12/07/2009 04:44:00 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Tim, this is a project conducted by the Banner Alzheimer's Institute and Mayo Clinic. Julie's mother has Alzheimer's so it's a disease in which she has come to take a special interest.

12/07/2009 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

Can I join the project? I just flooded my bathroom from leaving the tub faucet running. I'm either an idiot or I have an organic based excuse.

12/07/2009 03:05:00 PM  

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