Blog Index


Technical Issues and Projects

Back to Home Page

Where Are We Now? 

Click here, we're #888

We enjoy getting email

Email Mac

Email Chris




December 2005

Tuesday, December 6th:

Hi all, have you missed us?  We were in Las Vegas from 12/1 through 12/4 and returned on the "redeye" at 7:00 AM on Monday.  I was attending the Annie Duke & Howard Lederer Poker Camp


Back in October, I won this trip and prize package in a tournament on  Included was the poker camp, two tournaments with $100,000 prize money, 3 nights at the Palms hotel, meals, and $700 for travel expenses.  Not bad for $200 invested playing the tournament!


Playing Hold'em with Annie Duke and other "campers", I'm surrounded by Phil Gordon and Freddie Deeb.


The camp was an awesome experience.  I learned a lot, and really enjoyed rubbing elbows with the pros.  Here's an outline of what we did:

  • 6 hours of poker seminars by Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, Phil Gordon, and Marcel Luske.

  • Other pros in attendance included Amir Vahedi, Freddie Deeb, Huck Seed, Clonie Gowan, Andy Bloch, and a couple more who I didn't meet personally.

  • Two cash tournaments with prize pools of $60k and $40k

  • One winner-take-all tournament for a seat at the 2006 WSOP

  • Sit-and-go tournaments 4 to 8 hours a day, $10 to $200 buy in, with a professional player at each table to teach and coach.

  • Lots of freebees and promo items

  • A banquet with entertainment (comedy)

  • Lots of informal networking at meals, etc.

My result in the tournaments wasn't good.  I got few good hands, and misplayed a couple.  I busted out way early in the $60k, and went out 70th of 180 in the $40k.  FYI, 70th pays the same as 180th -- Zero!  Had to make 26th to be in the money.  I did do OK in the sit-and-go's placing 2nd and 3rd in two of them.  I won't bore you with details because I realize many readers aren't poker fans.

Here's a link to all the photos.

Wednesday, December 7th

Chris has posted the final updates for November, and I have the budget numbers up.  Click Here to see them.

Chris also has a post to "bring you up to date" on our activities from her point of view.  So here's Chris' post for the first week of December: 

Thursday, December 1

We got up and finished up all those last minute items before leaving for the airport. We checked and double-checked that everything was done. Now we feel we can enjoy our trip without any worries.

We drove to the airport and decided to use short-term parking. It is more expensive but thereís a lot less walking involved so itís worth it to me on this trip. I know that I will be sore and in pain enough without adding any additional pain.

There was a small line to check in but the wait wasnít long and the security check was a breeze today. No lines waiting to pass through security.

We had a little excitement on our flight today. The pilot announced that they thought the aircraft may have blown a tire on takeoff so our landing would be accompanied by fire trucks and to not be alarmed by the trucks.

So after the runway was cleared the aircraft came down like for a landing but just where the crew on the ground could see if the landing gear and tires looked good and then we were back up in the air and circled around to land. Everything looked good from the ground crew so we got to land. We had no problems on landing and we arrived safely at Phoenix. All the passengers clapped for the safe landing!

So we got off the plane and hoofed it over to our connecting flight to Vegas with no time to spare. Iím hungry but we donít have time to get anything to eat; and of course you donít get anything to eat on a plane anymore!  Usually itís a small bag of peanuts or pretzels and thatís it!  On this mornings flight it was a breakfast cookie so I gave mine to Mac.  On the flight from Tampa to Phoenix they were selling breakfast sandwiches for $5, but I wasnít hungry since Iíd eaten breakfast at home.

We got to Las Vegas around 11:30 in the morning which is around 3:30 eastern time and I am starving! Iíve only had one bagel to eat all day! We finally got our luggage and got to leave the airport. Las Vegas Airport never seems to get any better; itís always chaos and not organized chaos either. And the "moving" sidewalks never move.  They're always broken.

We got to the Palms and checked in; went to our room and dropped off our luggage. Then we headed down to find some lunch! We ate at the buffet for lunch today. We ate at their buffet several years ago and had enjoyed it very much but it seems to have gone down hill to us. There wasnít as big selection of vegetables as there used to be. There was plenty of meat, salad, but not much cooked vegetables. But I got to eat and so I was happy!

Our room is very nice. It has 2 double beds, a sitting area, a desk with internet connection. The bathroom is large with a tub and shower combination. They have everything that you would need provided. The soap that they provide is flax seed soap and it smells wonderful! The shampoo and conditioner is very good. It actually does clean and condition my hair. The lotion is wheat and it feels and smells good too! They also provided toothpaste, Q-tips, etc. This is the first room that Iíve stayed in that there is a set of tongs provided for the ice bucket!

Weíve heard that the beds here at the Palms are high quality and that weíll get a good nights sleep on them. They are very comfortable and there are plenty of pillows too. There is a very soft comforter inside the duvet, I wonder if itís a down comforter because itís so soft and warm. From our window we can see the second tower of the Palms that is currently under construction. We also have a good view of the Luxor and its lights, it is really cool to see that at night. I really like all the lights in Vegas at night, itís so pretty to see.

After we had lunch I played some video poker. Las Vegas has the best pay tables for Deuces Wild video poker and the Palms has a bank of Bonus Poker quarter machines that the royal flush pays $1,199, one dollar short of having to pay taxes on. So thatís the machines that I play on while at the Palms this trip.

December 2 Ė December 4:

Mac has already mentioned what he did on this trip so I wonít bore you with the details of my video poker playing. Iíll just mention that I hit the royal flush on Saturday night and that was great to get that! So I turned a profit with my gambling budget. I had a great time and met several nice people while playing and when I ate my meals.

Weíve been to Las Vegas before and on this trip we arenít doing any sightseeing so we donít rent a car. I donít want to stress my leg out so Iím not going to do any shopping. So we just stayed at the Palms and Mac went to the Rio on Saturday night for the banquet with the group.

Weíre taking the red eye flight back to Tampa on Sunday night.  Knowing that we were checking out of our room on Sunday, and having the rest of the day and evening with nowhere to rest if we wanted to, we decided to ask the Palms about staying another night but just leaving on Sunday evening in time for our flight. So on Saturday night we asked how much a room would be for Sunday and itís over $300 per night! Good thing Mac got this whole package for free!

So after we went up to our room Mac checked around and got us a room at Terribleís for less than $40. We checked out of the Palms on Sunday and checked into Terribleís for the rest of the day. We wound up not using the room much at all. We thought (or at least Mac did) that weíd take a nap or at least just lie down and rest. But we wound up playing a lot of video poker while there. We ate lunch at their buffet which was the same as the Palms not many vegetables at all. Then for dinner we ate in their cafť. I had a great chicken lo mien plate which had lots of chicken and Mac had chicken fried steak. The chicken fried steak was HUGE! It covered the plate. It was 16 ounces and came with choice of potato, vegetable of the day, and choice of soup or salad, all for $6.99! What a bargain!

The pay tables at Terribleís are only good on the Jacks or Better video poker, they were 9/6. The rest of the games donít have good pay tables at all. Bonus Poker was 7/5 and the Deuces Wild pay tables werenít good either, so we played the 9/6 Jacks or Better. They have some promotion going on and on Sundays after 6 on the Bonus Poker machines if you hit a royal flush itís double money on quarters ($1000 extra), and also $1000 extra on the fifty cent and $2000 on the dollar machines. So we played and had a great time but we didnít hit a royal flush there, we did manage to break even so that was great. We earned a lot of points for when we return there and we didnít spend any money doing it.

So we checked out of our room and left for the airport. It was instant chaos when we arrived! There were long lines outside for curbside check-in and also long lines inside to check-in. We went inside and stood in line. They have self check-in there now which was interesting to do. There are lots of computers and you insert your credit card for identification purposes only. Then it brings up all your flight information for you to verify. After verifying all the information it prints out your ticket. Then you go over to another line to get the ďtagĒ for your luggage that youíre checking, then you take that luggage over to another area where they take it away to be x-rayed and put on the plane. Then you finally get to head upstairs towards the terminals; and of course the escalator was broken so we had to wait with crowds of people to use the one elevator. After finally getting upstairs and heading to our terminal we see the long line for the security check. Oh well, it canít be helped, so we wait in another long line. We finally get through all of that mess and get to our gate and wait for our plane.

The flight back was uneventful and we tried to sleep or at least rest the best we could. We got back to Tampa a little after 6 in the morning. So after getting our luggage and paying the ransom to rescue our car from short-term parking we finally headed to our RV. The drive to MacDill AFB didnít take as long as I thought it would during rush hour traffic going to the base. Theyíve devised a faster system of getting people checked through the gate so that helped greatly to speed up the trip.

After getting back to the RV we both went to bed and slept for a few hours. We went to pick up Kitty from the vetís office and he was happy to see us; he talked about his adventures all the way back to the RV.

After we get back to the RV and his majesty the Kitty feels that heís had enough petting Mac gets on the computer and I go back to bed to lie down. My leg is in the most pain that Iíve ever had with it. I went back to the bedroom to hide from Mac so that I could cry. I know it hurts him so much to see me in such pain so I try and hide it from him when itís really painful. I let him know later on in the day but while itís hurting so bad I just hide away by myself so that if I want to cry I can. So then most of Monday is spent recuperating from the trip to Vegas.

Tuesday, December 6:

I feel much better today than yesterday. The pain is much less than yesterday and the swelling has gone down. I feel back to my normal amount of pain. Mac has a dental appointment this morning so while heís gone I unpack our suitcases and put everything away. Iím really happy that I feel so much better today. Yesterday was the worst pain that I have been in with my leg to date. I took my last Naproxen this morning. I canít take any more until after the surgery. I was supposed to have stopped taking them 14 days before my surgery but I really needed them to help recover from the trip. So now Iíll just take it easy and use Tylenol for pain.

I have an appointment today with my surgeon this afternoon so we go there. There is much to discuss regarding the upcoming knee replacement. I get a prescription for Lovenox, a medication used to help prevent abnormal blood clotting. Iíll have to INJECT myself with this medication when I come home from the hospital! UGH! I canít even put eye drops in my eyes and they expect me to stick a needle in myself!!!!!!!

The doctor, the nurse practitioner, and the others that I see at the doctorís office are talking ďblah blah, pain, blah blah, pain, blah blah, pain, pain, painĒ. Iím starting to think that there is going to be some pain involved with this surgery. The pain caused from my bad knee will be gone. Iíll have pain from the surgery which will decrease daily.

Wednesday, December 7:

This morning I have an appointment with the hospital at 8:00 so we head on over there first thing. Mac complained about having to use the alarm clock. We havenít had to use one since I quit working last year and it was terrible this morning to hear that beep beep beep first thing!

We arrived at the hospital and first I see someone in patient admissions and she takes the insurance information and prints out the arm bands, etc. that Iíll be needing during my stay at the hospital.

Next I see a nurse who takes down my medical history, she takes the current health information such as blood pressure, temperature, etc. Then she takes blood so that they can type and cross match and have blood ready for me just in case I need a transfusion during surgery. I could have donated a pint of my own blood last month for this surgery but I was out of town for my dadís surgery and it didnít work out that I could get back here in time to get it donated. She also gave me a device to use to learn to properly breathe so that I donít get a pulmonary embolism or pneumonia or something bad like that. Also I got a bag full of information regarding my stay in the hospital.

After that itís time to go upstairs to the orthopedic surgery recovery floor. Thereís a small group of us there for ďclassĒ. Weíre told all about what to expect and thereís that word PAIN again and itís repeated several times. Weíre told all about pain management and that we will be in pain, to expect it, but to also know that every day the pain will be less.

There is a physical therapist who also spoke with us about what they will be doing to help us in our recovery. He gave us a pamphlet of information including exercises to do to strengthen our muscles so that we can bend, get out of bed, climb stairs, etc.

It was very informative and it is good to know in advance what to expect, it helps to reduce the anxiety level. I know that I can expect to be in pain, but that it will get better. I just hope I donít embarrass myself by crying from the pain. Iím a big baby that way. I cry from pain, stress, happiness, you name it I cry over it.

Blog Format Update

If you've followed our adventures before, you likely notice a change in our format :-)  I hope you like it.  We've tried to make it easier to find our most current blog entry by putting it right on the blog index page. We also post it to the monthly page -- which will look just like you are used to seeing it.  And of course all the monthly archives are still available.

Another change in the coming weeks is in the tech and projects section.  These will become more topical vs. chronological.  The yearly pages will still have a brief summary of each story, organized by date started, but each  major project story will be moved to its own page.  This way I can keep subjects together and update them in the future without you having to follow multiple links to get the whole story.  One example of this is our DC power system, including solar, batteries, inverter, and other items.  This is spread over 2 years, and it would be much easier to follow if it was all on one page.

We're open to suggestions!  Email us if you have some ideas.  We enjoy receiving email.

Sunday, December 11th

Chris' Knee Replacement -- Tomorrow Morning

Well it's a rainy chilly day in Tampa FL.  Yes, I realize it's probably colder where you are; but you didn't expect it to be warm and sunny there, did you?  Here's our forecast for the next 7 days:


7-Day Forecast

Tampa FL forecast, 12/11 through 12/17


Chris' surgery is scheduled for 7:30 AM and we have to be there by 5:45 AM.  I guess we could have unhooked and drove the motorhome over there today.  Hummm, that may be a good idea.  I'll mention it to Chris when she wakes up from her nap.


I'm sure Chris will tell you all about the knee replacement when she is feeling better, so I'll just give you quick updates over the next few days.  Her surgeon is Dr. Stephen Raterman, Florida Medical Clinic Orthopedics (just corrected my spelling error, I had it as "Ratterman).  He has a great reputation and we expect good results.  Yesterday we took delivery of some rehab equipment, a Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) machine.  Chris will use this over the next 2 weeks to improve flexibility of the knee joint.


Chris has looked forward to this for a long time.  We're really hopeful that she can resume a more active lifestyle and be able to enjoy many of the places we visit that require walking and standing.

Quick Update Tuesday, Dec 13 (4:00 AM)

The knee replacement (right total knee arthroplasty) went well.  Chris is recovering normally, which means a good deal of pain, but she has Morphine and a Femoral Nerve Block.  So the routine last night was; hit the button, sleep 30 minutes, wake up in pain, hit the button, sleep 40 minutes, wake up in pain, etc. 


Yesterday afternoon she did the CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine for about 1.5 hours at 45 degrees (knee bent at 45 degrees)  Today it will go up to the 55 to 65 range, then 65 to 90 on Wednesday.  90 is the goal before discharge.


OK, I think I'll go back to sleep for 40 minutes now.  Will report back tomorrow...  

Quick Update, Wednesday, Dec 14 (5:42 PM)

Unveiling of the new knee!  They changed the dressing today and we got our first look at Chris new knee.  I think it looks good, want to see?  Photo below.


Major Events of the Day

  • Chris walked 250 feet today, and bent her knee to a 95į angle with a little help from the PT. 

  • The PT also taught her how to go up stairs, because we have 5 steps for her to climb into the motorhome.  As far as PT is concerned she's clear to go home. 

  • We also took delivery of a walker, and a "3 in one" portable toilet that we'll put over the toilet in the motor home.

  • I took a short class on how to inject Chris with Lovenox, a blood thinner that will prevent clots, DVT, etc. and the nurse supervised me, as I did my first injection.

Now just waiting for the doctor to come in tomorrow and we're out of here!





Tuesday, December 20th (7:30 AM)

OK, I'm making a New Years resolution 11 days early.  Starting next year we plan to write SOMETHING in the blog every day.  We've thought of doing this before, but we either get tied up in events of the day and forget, or we tell ourselves there's nothing interesting to write about.  No more. 


So the last 11 days of 2005 will be for practice, then starting 1/1/06 you can expect a daily update unless we can't get online for some reason.  Remember, we did promise you could read about "every tedious and mundane part of our lives" :-)


So, how is Chris' knee you ask?  Well, it's a lot better, but now she has a nagging lower back pain that is interfering with her rehab.  Still, things are looking good.  We came home Thursday just before dark, and the first big test was climbing the 5 steps into the motorhome, yeaaaa she made it!  Friday and Sunday the PT came over, and she'll be back today.  Chris can now walk around in the RV without a cane, she goes up and down stairs OK with the cane, and can walk all the way around our block using the walker. 


The walker has wheels on the front, and the technique is to slide it and walk naturally.  Chris is getting stronger every day and sometimes feels almost "normal".  I'll take some photos later today and post them. 

Wednesday, December 21st

The big event today was Chris ditching her walker and taking a stroll with just a cane.  Yes, of course I took a picture!


Chris out for a walk with Emily, her physical therapist.

Chris has been feeling almost normal lately, and has started helping with the business again.  She does internet research for me, and has been keeping me busy with lots of leads!  You may recall that the business has experienced a slump lately, due to distractions like 2 hurricanes, birth of grandbaby, and other things.  So I'm happy to be back on track again.

Thursday, December 22nd

Nobody told me to keep it a secret, so I'll share something that happened in the last few days -- but I'll leave out some details for now...

I received an interesting e-mail early in the week from someone at a cable TV network.  She saw our blog and wanted to talk with us about a new program they're doing.  Our email exchange led to a phone call on Tuesday, and we were told the casting director would call us for more discussion. 

Well at this point we were getting a little excited, but I've been in enough interviews to know that you shouldn't get your hopes up just because you pass the first screening.  Yesterday the casting director called, and it was determined that we didn't meet all their criteria for the initial phase of the project.  She did say she would call us back in a couple of weeks if they decided they could use us, but I'd say the chances are slim.  If we do get called back, I'll let you know!.  

Friday, December 23rd

I woke up this morning around 7:45.  Chris had been up since 6:00 and had washed dishes, done some internet research, etc.  Chris thought her appointment today with the doctor was at 1:00 PM.  I suspected it was earlier, so I searched for the appointment letter -- yep, 9:00 AM.  And it's a good hour's drive from here, so we scrambled around and got out the door quickly.  Traffic wasn't bad, so we sped along and made it with 10 minutes to spare!  Dr. Raterman was pleased with her progress, and scheduled the next appointment 4 weeks out. 


Here's the proud owner of a new Smith & Nephew Oxinium total knee replacement



Here's the before and after

Saturday, December 24th

Hi Everyone.  We saw Santa here in Florida yesterday.   He dashed off first thing this morning.


Thursday, December 29th

Yes, I have fallen behind on my goal of posting each day.  So, to bring everyone up to date:  We had a very nice Christmas day with my Mom.  Daughter Nikki came by with grandson Austin and boyfriend Aaron.  It was Chris' first trip since the knee surgery other than to doctors, and she held up very well.

We often give family "gift certificates" as Christmas presents that I make up on the computer and print out.  We gave one to my mom and one to Nicole.  Mom's gift certificate is for a one year scholarship to Jazzercise Class.  Mom started Jazzercise this year and really likes it.  She goes 3 times a week.  Nicole's certificate was for a steam carpet cleaner, or "an alternative home appliance of similar value and utility".  We usually make these kind of funny with small print like "not valid in months with a full moon" and other such nonsense.  Here's a link to one.  I hope the link works for everyone.  It's in PPS (Power Point Show) format.

Chris and I are taking longer walks each day, and have resumed our afternoon walks on the beach.  There are always flocks of birds on the beach in the late afternoon.  Usually we have gulls, skimmers, sandpipers, and other shore birds.  I had previously noticed that many sandpipers stand on one leg, but yesterday I saw one hoping around and assumed he was missing a leg.  Then I saw several others doing the same and was curious about it.  I looked this up on the internet and found that it's a common practice for them to stand on one leg, and even hop around like that, making it nearly impossible to distinguish crippled birds from normal.

A lot of "one legged" sandpipers

We also see wild parrots (or more technically I believe most are Parakeet's) nearly every day.  These are not indigenous to Florida, but there are large flocks of them.  They are descendents of escapees from local zoos and wildlife parks, and from private owners.   

I believe this is a Monk Parakeet.  Not a very good photo, I'll try for a better one.


Saturday, December 31st

2005 Year In Review

States Visited  -  18

Miles Driven  -  17000

Toad Brakes Ruined (Mac left the hand brake on)  -  1 set, Rear

Hurricanes Evaded  -  1 (Rita)

Nights Dry Camp  -  184

Nights in Casino Parking Lots :)  -  53

Nights at a Wal-Mart  -  24

Average per Night  -  $9.57

$ Saved Dry Camping  -  $2272

Knees Replaced  -  1

Happy New Year!  See you in 2006!


This is a "reverse blog", so earlier posts will be found above -- scroll up -- also see left sidebar for blog index

Continue to January 2006

Hit Counter