Friday, May 28, 2010

E Friday - Memories

In following the tradition of Clare we return again to E Friday, where I post photos of my darling granddaughter E, because VG really likes to look at these pics.

OK, no photos today but a video treat. Several weeks ago the traveling version of the musical Cats hit Portland, and E was taken to see it. She really liked it all, and it is now her absolute favorite musical ever, which is not really hard to believe since it’s the only musical she has seen. Since then she has been dancing around the house singing the songs. Her mom had an old cassette tape of the show from back when we took her to see it and it became her absolute favorite musical ever (also being the only one she had seen), but being a rather old tape it didn’t last too long. So when B was up in Portland for E’s fifth birthday last week she took along a CD of the show so that E would have the songs to listen to again, along with a DVD of the New York version, which had scenes and songs the traveling version did not. She took a lot of pictures and some videos, one of which is here:

I really like the dramatic pause at the beginning, the turn, then the stage cue for the starting line.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two things

I was sitting in the waiting room outside of the burn clinic waiting for my turn to have my bandages changed and soak my hand in the whirlpool, thinking about all of the things that have happened over the past week and trying to come up with three wonderful things like Clare seems to be able to pull from everything, and all I could come up with were the two worst things.

I thought about the pain in my hand, and it doesn’t compare with other things, or what the other people in the hospital were living through. I thought about being stuck on my back for two days with both arms suspended so I couldn’t even scratch my nose. I thought about the two big antibiotic pills I have to take twice a day and how they tear my stomach up and kill all the bacteria in my intestinal tract causing, um, well, something that brings number two below to happen more often than desired at a more rapid pace. I thought about the big bill that I am facing whenever the hospital figures out all the little events to charge me for, and am willing to match Suzy the damages caused by her fall (call your stitches and raise you two whirlpools). But there were two things that really stand out in a not very positive way.

The first came up when I was laying in the emergency room and one surgeon was cutting my hand open while the other was asking me questions. One of the first questions asked was my age, which I was able to answer quickly but then stuck in my mind as the others flew by: smoke? Drink? Drugs? Etc, etc, etc. All I could keep thinking about was “how did I get so old?” I just got out of the Navy; I just got out of college; yes, I know I post pictures of a granddaughter that just turned five but that’s not really because my daughter is old enough to have a daughter of her own. Where did it go? How did I get so far without it really seeming that I did? Why do all the doctors look like Doogie Houser?

Am I really old enough to think of Neal Patrick Harris as Doogie instead of as Barney? Is it too late for me to go back to school and become a doctor too? How could I make my house payments while going to medical school, and could I really keep up with the college drinking games anymore? NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

The second thing came up the second day in the hospital. I was removed from my restraints and permitted to walk over to the bathroom. That’s when I realized that the big bandage was on my right hand, and I would thus have to start using my left hand for things.

Think about the things you do with your dominant hand: the tooth brush holding I couldn’t do because the bandage would get wet; washing my dirty left hand with only my left hand (what is the sound of one hand clapping?); holding a fork or spoon the way I was used to; being able to hold things but not get it wet or dirty. As I sat there I realized that using my left hand for something I had never used it for before was rather awkward. And not being able to wash it fully afterwards was also something I did not appreciate. Oh well, it won’t last forever.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Finger fun

Well, I had a semi quiet weekend here in Las Vegas. At least I think it was. Last week I was building a new bed for E – what? you say, building a bed? Well, E had her fifth birthday last week, and B went up to Portland to visit and spend some time with this granddaughter that we don’t get to see enough of since they moved from Las Vegas to Portland. B brought back lots of pictures, which I now have to sort through and post, and had a good time. E and her mom come down here once in a while and visit us, and up until now E has been sleeping in the crib we got back when she was really small. But now that she is five we figured she would rather have a real bed than get stuck in the crib again.

B couldn’t find a bed she liked, so I volunteered to build one. Just a simple twin sized platform bed with drawers underneath, shouldn’t be too hard. Well, when I was putting together the bottom piece last Tuesday somehow the nail gun shot a nail into my finger. It stung, but I jerked away and there wasn’t much bleeding, and I continued on with the construction efforts. Wednesday B came back from Portland, and my finger was a little sore but nothing exciting. On Thursday the finger had swollen up quite a bit. I attempted to phone my regular doctor and over a four hour period either got a busy signal or transferred to a different office than where my doctor was. Giving up on her, we went to a local quick care office, figuring I’d get an antibiotic shot or pills or something.

After a short wait a doctor looked at my finger, said he wanted x-rays to see if there was a bone chip or something, and he would phone a hand doctor for advice. He came back with a doctor’s name and said to go to the UMC hospital emergency room, and the hand guy would look at me there. This was new for me, never having been in a quick care place or an emergency room for myself, off I went.

The waiting room at UMC was interesting. This is close to, how is the polite way to say this, an area of town close to downtown that is not a desirable area to live in. Consequently the emergency room is used by many people as their only medical care location, since by law emergency rooms have to treat anyone that comes in, whether or not they have insurance or can afford to pay, which is a big reason why UMC, our public institution, is close to bankruptcy. (UMC = University Medical Center, part of the University of Nevada) So the clientele in the waiting room is rather interesting, with a lot of people that you don’t look in the eye. After not a very long wait I was called back to a quick look triage room, and then passed on to the regular emergency room.

Where I sat for another two hours, then the hand doctor that was called showed up. The quick care center I had been to was also run by UMC, so their call list is composed of doctors from the medical school. This doctor was the head of plastic surgery, and also a hand expert. He showed up with an entourage of five or six residents, looked at my hand and said it wasn’t bad enough to require work in an operating room, they could open it up to clean out the infection there in the ER, and he and his group departed. I was hooked up to an IV with antibiotics and sat for another two hours. I phoned B who was still in the waiting room and suggested she go home, as there was probably another long wait ahead. A new doctor showed up, and he made a cut on my finger to clean it out. One of the entourage also came by to take notes, and he said something along the lines of how honored I should be that the big doctor came himself to look at my hand, speaking in awe of the big doctor. (That’s big in a mental sense, he really wasn’t very tall or big) So some shots in my finger to numb it (the shots hurt worse than anything) and a small incision was made. Then a mention of staying to get more antibiotics, and the doctors left. After a while the ER nurse said they were finding a bed for me upstairs, the first mention that this was going to be rather serious. Another three hour wait and finally a wheelchair to take me upstairs. Evidently it is forbidden for anyone to walk anywhere, you have to be pushed.

The ER was interesting. There was a woman in the bed next to mine (behind a curtain) that had stepped on a rusty nail, which went through her shoe and foot. She went home after a tetanus shot. Across the way was a guy in a bed with two police officers sitting with him. I wasn’t watching when he left. Someone else came in via ambulance with two other police officers. An ambulance brought in a woman with a broken leg who was either very drunk or on some fun drugs, who was quite loud in calling for assistance. There were lots of activities on a Thursday evening. I was in the ER area from 6pm until 1am the next morning. Then up to a bed in a double room. The hospital seemed to be all double rooms, no more of those open wards you see in some movies.

Into a gown and down in bed, and more antibiotic drips into my arm. I didn’t talk to the gentleman in the bed behind the curtain next to me, but he seemed to be having lots of problems, and all I was there for was a swollen finger. The entourage showed up the next day without the big doctor, looked at my finger, and discussed how I might lose my finger or whole hand, and better get a lot of antibiotics. The antibiotic doctor came by and looked at my finger and discussed cultures and lying quietly.

I ended up being there for two days. All for a finishing nail going into my finger about a centimeter. I felt bad, taking up a bed for just a swollen finger. I was on semi constant IV drip with antibiotics, and taken (via wheelchair) down to the burn ward (the place that changes bandages in this hospital) for cleaning and whirlpool treatment.

Other than that I lay in bed. The nurse came by periodically to change the IV bag. Another person came by to take my blood pressure. Food showed up at meal times. And I lay on my back, my right hand held up in the air to elevate the wound, and the IV in my left arm, so I really couldn’t use my arms much. They released my one hand at meals, and when I called for help so I could walk to the bathroom. Fortunately they let me do that and not a bedpan. This was my first time as a patient in a hospital. At least I was semi OK, and could pay attention to everything, and not lay in pain like the guy in the other bed. Saturday morning the surgery guys said the finger looked better and I could leave, but the antibiotic doctor was listed as my attending physician, and he had to sign me out. He didn’t show up for another six hours. I finally got out of there around four in the afternoon. I have to go back in for hydrotherapy and wound cleaning for another few days, and have ten days of two big antibiotic pills twice a day, which are really chewing up my stomach.

UMC is under financial pressure from the city, and has had a lot of staff reductions. Talking to one of my wheelchair pushers I found there were layoffs on Friday as well. There was one nurse on duty for thirty rooms, about sixty patients. That seems to be quite a workload. Other areas had fewer workers as well. Not getting reimbursement for so many patients does seem to result in a negative cash flow.

Mentioning that, here I am without a job or insurance, wondering what this experience will be costing me. Since I do have a house I will be one of the people they can tap to pay for my stay, elevated to cover the costs of those that can’t pay. And wondering how I will pay for this, not having an income, and Las Vegas having the second highest unemployment rate in the country, up around an official 14.7% (which includes me). All for what will end up being the most expensive bed we ever will have. I’ll post a picture as soon as B is finished painting it.

So that’s how I spent my weekend. In addition to the three hours of waiting each day to get my bandage changed because of the lack of nurses in the burn area as well. Hope you all had fun.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I went down to the Strip yesterday to have lunch with a friend. We met at the Venetian, one of my favorite places. The parking at the Palazzo underground garage is easy to get to, there are usually empty spaces, and the driveways between spaces are large, making it easy to back out. On the way between the Palazzo and the Venetian is an atrium with waterfall and large skylight. This area is usually decorated for the season, and for spring it looks like they put up the parasols again.

The Palazzo entry and this atrium are about the prettiest of all the casinos in Vegas.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday videos - the 80's

When working on my computer I usually listen to foreign radio stations. French and Swedish stations are among my favorites, because I don’t understand either language, and thus the commercials and DJ discussions are just more background music that doesn’t distract me. Recently though I’ve been listening to a New Zealand radio station a lot, probably because I like the accents of the DJs, and what they talk about is sometimes understandable.

On a show last week they played a remake of an ‘old’ New Zealand classic, the song Poi E recorded by the Patea Maori Club.

It’s got a good background beat, and a chorus I can sing along with. The video was made in the 80’s, and in one shot a girl in the background has a haircut that reminds me of that decade. The band that comes to mind when I see hair styles like that is Flock of Seagulls

But in that video it looks like they toned down the hair. But these guys had the cut

Without the hair, but another song that seems to come from the same period

OK, let’s finish up the 80’s with a little different style

Friday, May 14, 2010

E climbing

In following the tradition of Clare we return again to E Friday, where I post photos of my darling granddaughter E, because VG really likes to look at these pics.

When she comes down to visit us from Portland we usually hit the park nearby every day. Lots of grass, but she hits the play structures and slides. She’s gotten pretty good at climbinbg.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday videos - Lena Horne

I was reading the paper this morning and came across a headline that said ‘Lena Horne dies’ – perhaps you’ve already heard. I remember her singing on the radio and some old shows, and was always impressed by her lovely voice. She was also very involved with the NAACP and activism, promoting civil rights. But YouTube will preserve her performances for a while.
Her first big hit was Stormy Weather in 1943

A Tv performance of Moon River in 1965

Some Day My Prince Will Come in 1967

And my favorite, in 2008

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Around town

Spring is progressing nicely here in Las Vegas. Yesterday was a nice sunny 88f (32c), today a little cooler and really windy, but that’s about what we should be having in May. There is still some snow in the high mountains to the west, the ski and snowboard resort at Mt. Charleston closed this week, after the longest ski season in its 45+ year history. Mt. Charleston is only a 45 minute drive from the Strip, and provides a nice high break from the hot valley.

Mt. Charleston peak is almost 12,000 feet above sea level, the ski resort lifts are up at 9,300 feet (2,850 meters) and gets 120 inches (305cm) of snow a year, with 300+ days of sunshine. If you come to Vegas in the wintertime and get tired of all of the casinos and partying you can go up and have some colder fun.

Photo from the Review Journal: closing day at the resort.

Steve Wynn has become a fixture in Las Vegas. He is credited with causing the revival of Vegas, with his rebuilding of the Golden Nugget downtown and construction of the Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio resorts on the Strip, all of which he sold off. He now is a major stakeholder in the Wynn, a beautiful golden hotel tower coupled now with the Encore tower. He has quite an extensive (and expensive) art collection that was displayed at his resorts. Behind this resort is the last golf course located at the center of the Strip (several resorts had them, but the land became so expensive it was used for other things) on the site of the old Desert Inn. He has plans for more towers on the golf course, and lives in one of the villas on the course. He recently divorced his wife Elaine(originally married in 1963, divorced and remarried) who reportedly received the largest divorce settlement in the history of the world, though details are sealed in court documents. She does own 18% of the Wynn Corporation, with the resort here, and in Macau and other places.

I found a recent article on Steve in our local paper amusing. It includes a recent quote from him, where he talks about his new girlfriend (the one that caused his recent divorce): “When we were first going out she would make a comment about space, and she’d be dead right, and I’d think ‘Don’t tell me that. On top of everything else, besides having the greatest butt in the world, she also has the designer gene!’. It’s like God made a woman for me. The only thing that stops my world from being perfect is that Elaine is not happy.”

Two items in that quote: B also found amusing that one of the richest men in the world still can talk about his new girlfriend’s butt, and that his wife will not talk to the woman that caused their divorce. Imagine that.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Spring flowers 2010

I thought I’d show you some of the flowers that have been blooming around our yard this past week. First are some we planted in the front courtyard that aren’t natives.

We have a wisteria that we brought from San Diego, and are now training up the new cover we have out front.

B really liked these Angel Trumpet plants, but it does not do well here, they do not like the soil so we leave it in a pot, having to bring it inside I the winter because of the cold, and having it lose most of it’s leaves in the summer heat. But right now the flowers are about 8” long and very nice.

One of the past owners left these iris plants, which have been coming up every year.

We also found a Banks rose along the pool, doing nowhere as well as the ones we had in southern California.

From a few seeds planted in the bed a few years ago, the California poppies have spread around most of the yard.

In the same area, Buster realized it has warmed up, and he is back dozing in the sunshine. He will be out here frequently for most of the summer.

One of the natives we have that isn’t blooming yellow right now is the desert mallow. This bush is about a meter tall and two wide, been in for five years.

Along the pool some Mexican primrose have taken over one side, they do quite well here and have spread to spots around the yard.

We put in some other small natives, in scattered spots around.

And along the pool as well.

That’s our Spring yard, mostly yellow, lots of flowers coming out after a wet winter and before the heat of summer. It was cool today, but due to get up into the mid 90’s by mid week. (35c)

Oh - just noticed, Blogger says this is my one thousandth post. Didn't think I'd hang around this long.