Challenges of Time.

Time has moved on while my mind stayed in the background. Here it’s almost time for the taxes to be filed, yet I am still trying to motivate myself to get going on them. I know how to do them, I just don’t want to do them. My wife is really starting to nag me, which ensures I become very resistant to doing “what she wants”. Why? I’m not sure, but I hate to be nagged.

In February, my wife decided her 2000 Buick LeSabre needed to find a new owner. Nothing was wrong with it except it was 15 years old and she was tired of the color. She also wanted a vehicle which would not hit the parking curb due to its low height or swallow water or snow when the weather turned adverse. Since it had been a few years since she bought her last vehicle, we started out by going to all the auto dealers in our community. We went to Jeep, Ford, Dodge, GMC, Buick, Nissan, and a few others.
We learned some places are worth going to and buying from whereas others are only concerned with selling “anything they had” but not necessarily what WE wanted. At one dealership, they refused to show us the premier models of the dealership but they would show us the used ones they were trying to get rid of immediately. We talked with three different “salespeople” in 30 minutes but none showed us what we were there to find. My wife wanted to know what each brand and model included as feature items. The “salesmen” were only willing to show us what they wanted. Very poor performance on their part.
We did find several exceptional sales people who took the time and made an effort to learn what we were looking to buy. Two were women (Toyota and Chevy dealerships) and one man (GMC dealership). We will return to these places of business since they understand what Sales is really about -learning what a customer wants and needs, then finding a solution which satisfies them both.

The latter part of 2014 was challenging. In October I did something which resulted in my blood pressure dropping. I don’t know how low it went, but when the EMT people checked my blood pressure it was 84/52, which is a little too low. It had been much lower. I do know some of the symptoms of low blood pressure are inability to walk straight, loss of motor controls, loss of memory, loss of ability to think, and finally -complete collapse.
I think one of the causes was over-indulgence in sweet rolls, but I don’t know for sure. Nor do the medical people. I spent four days in the hospital undergoing all sorts of tests but even today no one is sure of why I collapsed. Recuperating from my time in the hospital took more time since I was weakened by the bed stay. The real negative is I am on more pills to “maintain” my health. I was trying to get off some of the pills, but it doesn’t look like it will happen.

 

 

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2018 – Time has gone by July ’18

Time passes when you aren’t paying attention to it. Since I last posted I’ve been busy working on my Jeep Unlimited Rubicon (JKUR), which is a pretty decent Jeep. I wish I had found a 2012 Jeep Wrangler since the engine setup is much better. I don’t know why Jeep used the 3.8 liter engine and the transmission they used, but it is very slow to accelerate and has a lot less power than the 3.6 liter engine now used in the Jeeps.  Oh well, I’ll just use what I have till I can afford a newer one in my price range.

I’ve added a few things to the JKU in the last few years. I installed an AEV 3″ lift I bought used from a Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club member who had upgraded to a different lift system for his 2016 JKU. I changed tires to the 315x70R17 BFG’s which have the very good off road tread. I recently added new front and rear bumpers made by Smittybuilt. The front bumper is pretty good, but the back bumper  took a couple of weeks to get it installed. My neighbor loaned me his two ton crane so I was able to assemble the darn things and lift them into place. I’m not sure if I will buy a crane or try to buy his from him. It’s great to use it for removing the spare tire.

I’ve changed the inside lights to LED, which really makes it easier to see things inside. For Father’s Day, my family paid for new LED headlights, which are yet to be installed. I also ordered headlight guards to protect the lights from tree branches. The front bumper came with “free” LED fog lights, which I installed. However, after one trail run, I found the right one had broken so I called and they sent me replacements. I still need to install them.  Hopefully I will get them installed tomorrow.

My wife bought me a cover for my back tire after I brought her flowers for our anniversary. We had agreed NOT to buy gifts for each other, but I guess she decided the flowers were a gift, so she needed to reciprocate. I had been looking to just get a plain cover, but she wanted me to get a motif or design on the one she bought. I saw a very nice rainbow trout but the one I ended up getting is really a cartoon which shows a bear removing the fish from the line strung high above the tent so the racoons can eat the fish. It is pretty funny and the quality of the cover is very good. It wasn’t cheap, so it should last a long time. It does fit the tire which really is important.

 

2015 update

The late part of 2014 was very busy. My Jeep Grand Cherokee (2000 WJ) decided it didn’t like my way of driving off-road so it died. My wife was very gracious and “allowed” me to acquire (along with a bank) a used 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon (JKU), which actually works pretty well. I have a three year warranty, so the major challenges will be paid by the insurance company.  I plan to add a few upgrades each year until I have it “just right” for 4×4 travel.

In October I must have eaten something my body didn’t like because my blood pressure dropped to about 75/50. The bad part is I can’t remember most of the morning, but I do remember trying to pour a cup of coffee, which ended up everywhere but in the cup. The cup was broken and so was I. I spent four days in the hospital but the Doctor’s & Nurses still don’t know why my blood pressure went so low. I don’t remember much, but getting out of the hospital was a great relief.

Now it’s the middle of 2015 and my year is rapidly going by. I still go to the specialist’s but they still haven’t found any answers. Now I have a Heart specialist, a Neurologist, a Family Doctor, and a Lung specialist. The biggest challenge I have is finding the energy to get up in the morning. My wife thinks I’m lazy, but I think she might be biased since she is a morning person and I’m a night owl.

Today I commemorated my birthday. My wife is very upset since she doesn’t think I show any appreciation for the gifts. I do appreciate them, but I don’t get excited the way I did when I was ten or twelve. Tooooooo many birthdays in between.

Money, Money, Money!

In the past month money seems to disappear faster than I earn it. First my wife decided she wanted a newer car. Her old car, a 2000 Buick LeSabre, only had 103,000 miles on it. We bought it new in December 1999. We went shopping and, after looking at about 15 models, she found “exactly what she wanted”. We traded in the Buick since she didn’t want to mess with selling it ourselves. Now She owns a 2014 Ruby Red Jeep Grand Cherokee with as many bells and whistles she could find. It wasn’t cheap, but we paid less than many others in our region. She is very happy with it.

Lessons learned while shopping for a replacement vehicle are numerous.

Among them: if a dealership encourages its sales people to try to sell what is in the used department then Run, don’t walk away from the dealership. If sales people won’t show you a vehicle you have asked to look at (e.g., Lincoln Continental ) they DON’T CARE what you want to buy, they will only show you what they want to sell.  Run, Run, Run, off the lot and never return!

Other lessons:  if you find a “used” vehicle which is last years model but has over 2000 miles and needs body & paint repairs but the dealer insists on selling starting at the MSRP, then they are not serious about selling what you want, they only want to make money off you and could care less if you are satisfied.  My wife liked the vehicle but the stealership, which had advertised the price as $$,$$$ on the internet but raised the price by $7,000 back to the MSRP (brand new, never been driven) and was willing only to take off $7,000, you know they really are not in the customer satisfaction business. They only want the quick buck and they don’t care if you come back.

When you find sales people who Listen to what you want to find out, then proceed to show you every vehicle the company sells all the while asking questions as to what you are looking to find, then you know you have found an excellent dealership.  In our case, we found two Excellent dealerships with excellent salespeople. The first was a Chevrolet/Cadilac dealership which had a large inventory of both new, near new, and used vehicles. The saleswoman explained what each car’s good points as well as known problems. She showed us she knew what we were interested in finding but tried very hard to find the car we wanted.

The other dealership, which sells Buick and GMC trucks, also had a young salesman who tried his utmost to satisfy my wife’s wants. He didn’t fail, but a design issue ended up with us going elsewhere.

The last major issue: if you have a time constraint, DO NOT go to the dealer’s lot. You will never make your other meeting on time if you find the right vehicle.  The time to close the deal, complete the paperwork, tour the showroom and shop, will not allow you the needed time to evaluate what the vehicle has and if it meets all the criteria you specified (in writing) to yourselves before you ever started shopping.  This is especially true if you need to travel to another city to look at the replacement vehicle.

The last thing on my list of learning:  Clean out the old car just to make sure you don’t have to do it in a hurry. The alternative is NOT to accept delivery, which means taking possession, of the new car until you have TIME to think about it over a warm or cold beverage away from the dealership!

Where I live we are in the tenth year of drought.  The past two years are considered Severe Drought, which means the water tables are dropping.  On my place, the water table has dropped from eight feet to 29 feet, which means my old well pump would not pull the water.  This forced me into paying for a new well to be drilled and a submersible pump installed. Since everybody in the state is in need of water, the price of drilling has gone up.  A few years ago, a well like mine would cost maybe $3,000, now its closer to $10,000.  Every time the price of diesel fuel goes up, the price the well drillers charge goes up ’cause all the equipment is diesel run.

Last year, the pump quit working so the driller was called back to find out what the problem was with the pump. After he pulled the pump and motor assembly, he found the electric wire had a hole in it which could swallow a fifty cent piece. He replaced the wiring and put the pump/motor back into operation. Of course, this cost a few hundred dollars.

This year, I started irrigating the orchard since the trees really needed the water. After three days of pumping water through the two inch line, the trees were watered but I needed to water the grass and fruit trees using the one inch lines.  Only no water would come up!  I called a different company since the first one wasn’t available. This company pulled the submersible pump and found the problem. Somehow the tape used to secure the electric wire to the pump had come loose and was sucked into the pump. This resulted in the motor overheating and it burned out. It also warped the Schedule 80 pipe which piped the water to the surface.  After I paid for a new three horsepower submersible pump and all the other things the service company required, I was in the hole an amount most people use as a down payment on a new car or house.

Our lack of surface water has affected the Poplar trees which provide a needed windbreak.  They are dying and I need to have them removed. Since they average over 60 feet in height, I need to have somebody else cut them since they are next to an electric power line.  This will mean more $$$$ going out of pocket.

I would eliminate going to the market except my wife insists, for some reason, on her need to eat!  If we quit going to the store, we could save enough in the next few years to regain the money we have spent in the past month.  I may have to look for another job just so I can restore the funds we had in savings.  I’m sure glad we didn’t have to use the credit cards!

New Year 2014

I decided to start posting again so I’m here writing about the past few months. Back in March I chopped into my leg while removing a tree stump. It took a while to recover, but I finally did. In October I was digging a trench to pour concrete and fell over -backwards. My arm hit an elevation stake and I broke the wrist. This really made my wife angry since we were scheduled to go to Ireland in November.

At first, I thought I had only sprained my wrist but I went to my doctor for a regular visit about five days after the injury. He looked at it and decided I should have X-rays; the result was a trip to an orthopedic surgeon who checked my wrist out and sent me to another place to have a cast put on my arm. This was a flexible, fiberglass cast which went around my elbow. What a pain to wear since it was on my primary arm.

Now the arthritis has another place to form.  Oh well, I guess it was bound to happen sometime. Despite my lack of caution in the past, this is the first time I’ve broken anything. At least it is no longer in a cast and I’m now able to write fairly well left handed. I still need to fix the axe, since I broke the handle chopping wood.

I shouldn’t have done this!

Today I did something I knew I shouldn’t do. I was using an ax to cut a tree stump. The ax was razor sharp since I touched up the blade last night; I had knicked the edge on a T post which is embedded in the top of the stump.  I have the stump out of the ground but I need to reduce it in size so I can load it on the truck and then take it to the waste transfer station.

My mistake: I was standing in the wrong place and at the wrong angle from the stump.  The outcome was I hit my leg with the ax. I thought at first I had missed my leg, but then I saw the 3/4″ tear in the leg of my new jeans (2nd mistake).  The cut is just above the ankle but in the center of the leg.  It is about 4 cm long by 4 cm wide or ~2.5″ long by 2.5″ wide, it looks just like an upside down L.

After I saw the blood, I realized I needed to patch it. Since I was in the front yard, I walked to the back porch where we have a chair and a bench. Once I sat down I looked at the hole in my foot. The flap of skin was raised and I could see the dark interior blood flowing out.  I called to my wife to come help (she was out in the shop). My neighbor heard me call to her and he saw me sitting on the bench so he went and got his medical emergency kit and brought it over.

My wife brought out a large, clean dish towel, which looked very gray to me. I told her I wanted a clean towel and she told me in NO UNCERTAIN terms it was a clean cloth (mistake number 3).  I put the towel around the wound while my wife went to find some VERY LARGE absorbent pads to compress on the wound while she looked for the medical supplies in the kit we have in the kitchen.  My neighbor arrived then and he and my wife helped me place the pads over the cut.  The tape was missing from our kit, so we gladly accepted the use of a wrinkly bandage from my neighbor’s medical kit.  He put the pad on over the wound then wrapped the tape on top.  I had removed my blood soaked shoe and sock so we could stanch the blood flow.

Since I was sitting down, I thought I was doing okay.  However, I didn’t realize I had raised my voice a few times when talking with my wife about the various things that needed done (mistake 4).  Once everything was wrapped we went inside the house to call our physician’s office to find out if he could treat us or if we should go to a Prompt Care Medical facility. I did not want to go to the hospital ER since it would cost us over $300 to be treated.

We ended up going to a Walk-in clinic run by the same group of doctors where I’m usually seen.  It took five minutes for my wife to take care of the paperwork and by that time the PA had looked at my wound, decided he could treat it, and moved me back to a small room.  The nurse did what nurses always do (pulse, temperature, etc.) and he did the suturing. Instead of stitches, he put about ten staples in my wound.  He then covered it with an absorbent pad and  wrapped it in more bandage.  Then we went home.

I almost forgot that during our drive to the Walk-in clinic we had to find it first. We knew about where it was, but it wasn’t located in the place we thought. We drove down the block to the next medical complex (we were opposite Memorial Medical Center) so the area has a lot of medical offices. We found the office and my wife drove down a dead-end street to get to it. Once we arrived, she backed the car up into a parking spot. We got out but then found out the door we were at was an employee’s only entrance. We got back in the car so we could drive to the front of the building. My wife turned right (towards the dead-end) and I told her she needed to turn left (she says I shouted at her; I don’t think I did but she swears otherwise) [mistake five].

When they finished and we were leaving, my wife told me it only cost $20 for the visit and treatment. (NO mistake, good planning by buying the right medical insurance plan.)

Now I’m at home, using one of the canes I acquired a few years ago when a store in town was giving them away to Veterans on Vet’s Day.   Since I have several vehicles and never know when I’ll need a cane, I keep one of these fold-up units in each vehicle and one in the house.  Make is easy all the way around.

My biggest mistake of the day:  Getting cut!  I know better. I have boots which would have protected my leg but I had my running shoes on since I didn’t thing anything could go wrong and I was “only going to use the ax for a few minutes.  [Famous ‘last words’]

The other mistakes I’ll just have to accept the responsibility and admit I did it, I’ll try not to make them again, but if I do something like cutting myself then the pain made me do it so cut me some slack.

Retirement

ImageBefore I retired, I had a home garden. I was in good health and my job, at the time, was very challenging and fulfilling. However, I wasn’t thrilled about some of the people I worked for since we seemed to be working on different agendas. Some of the areas where I have some skill and extensive training were left dying on the vine while I fought forest fires. Some of these fires really didn’t “belong” to me, but I was assigned to take care of them anyway. (Our office had downsized to the point two of us were doing work formerly done by five people; of course quality and timeliness suffered negatively).

In October of 2009, I was reminded my immediate supervisor was retiring in December. This started me thinking about when I would retire. At the time, I had over 38 years with the Army. I was planning on going to 42 years, but I started looking at how much I would be making in retirement if I stayed to my proposed retirement date. The funny thing: after I analyzed the data, I would only increase my retirement by about $60 a month. Since I might only get one more raise, which would be in 2011 it wouldn’t add a whole lot to my retirement.

I decided in early December 2009 that I really wasn’t enjoying life nor was I enjoying work anymore. I talked with my wife and she said “I’d rather have you home now, even if you don’t have as large a retirement, than have you die on the job from stress”. I considered that information and also considered the probability of me being selected for the supervisor’s position when my supervisor retired. Based on the information I had at the time, I doubt very much I would ever be considered for the position. The upper management in my organization didn’t like me (I didn’t think like they did) nor did they really care for the work I was assigned to perform.  I always tried to give them reasonable answers to the questions they posed but many times they wanted their own “solutions” to be used -even if not supported by the data.

All things put together, I decided to retire.  BEST Decision I have made in a long time.

(Dieing on the job were very prophetic words; one of the analysts I had worked with since the late 1980’s had a massive heart attack while at work and died. He had over 40 years of total service to the Federal government. He died after I retired but he couldn’t understand “retirement”.)

I retired 31 December 2009 with over 38 years of Federal service. An additional year and some months were added to my retirement pay since I had over 2200 hours of sick leave on the books.