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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Too busy living to post

We went to visit my parents last week. I didn't want to say Hey, we're gone. Come break into my house. So I didn't post. This makes our farthest trip yet. It takes us about 8hr to get there. Before the stroke (and Ellie) we could do it in closer to 6, so we're not as fast as we used to be.

I called before we went to try and coordinate things for our stay. I brought some grab bars for the bathroom and installed one by each shower. The first night we stayed in the guest room downstairs, but the bathroom was hard. After that, we stayed upstairs, so Linda could use the shower there. Little things make a really big difference, and I'm appreciating more than ever the choices that were made in the house we bought last summer. Paula did an excellent job.

All in all, it went very well. The house is new, and the spaces are wide (big doors, etc.) so it was pretty easy for Linda to get around. There were a few steps, but they weren't much problem. I learned how helpful handrails are. Linda said that 5 steps with a hand rail are better than 2 steps with no rail. And 10 steps with a handrail on each side are no harder than 5 with a single rail.

I brought coffee, so we made Milky Ways. I also brought some of Ellie's favorite books. The only thing I didn't bring that I wished later I had was the remote control for the lights. It would have been really convenient once or twice to be able to turn on a light from bed since the surroundings were different.

We had a good visit, and we're glad to be home.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Those darned insurance companies

I sent my first letter of the year off to our new insurance company. They seem to have no interest in paying for Linda's wheelchair (which despite allegations to the contrary from the old guys still has some paying to be done on it). And they seem to keep losing the paperwork that would justify processing the claim and paying.

So they got a letter. Not mean. I just pointed out which claims have been mishandled, explained that they should have two copies of the letters they need (according to the equipment people), and explained briefly why Linda's chair is still unambiguously necessary and should be paid for.

I'm expecting things to work out reasonably quickly. Once they do, that should finish off the price of the chair, so I'm looking forward to it.

I never stop

I'm always working lately. It's because tomorrow we go out of town to visit family. Some of my summer projects needed to be finished before we left. One that I wanted to get done was moving my office. I moved to a slightly smaller office that has a window just a few doors away. It took me some time yesterday and today to get it done and not everything is put away. But I have my keys, my phone works (same number), and my computer works. I'll have to rename my computer, but that can wait until next week.

Linda told me a funny story the other day. She was straightening the ring on her finger, and told me, When I was at Rusk, Fred would always turn it around and make me turn it back. It was kind of annoying at the time. After a moment she added, It's weird looking at your wedding ring and thinking of another man. For some reason, that was extremely funny. We laughed for a long time after that.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Ticking off my list

I'm ticking off items from my list. Today I built an A-frame for Linda's porch swing. She seems pleased with it, although to my taste it looks a little heavy. I could have just put a couple of poles in the ground and connected them with a pipe, but I thought it might be nice to move it after the shade changes in the yard (i.e. some of the trees grow up).

Linda was really tired today. We went to Columbia yesterday. We had several goals for the trip. The first was to buy some bars to install in the bathroom at my parents house (we're going for a visit next week). I wanted something that didn't scream industrial, so we went to Home Depot where they were picked over but the variety was decent. I figure what we don't use can be returned when the store here in town opens.

We also stopped at the bookstore so Linda could buy some romances. I looked at fantasy novels and computer books, but I'm pretty picky (especially about computer books) so I didn't buy any.

Finally we went to the stroke support meeting at Rusk. There was a talk about neuro-dynamic therapy that I wanted to hear. It wasn't as detailed as I would like and smacked slightly of advertising for Rusk although I believe that was unintentional for the most part. As an academic, I was probably doomed to want more detail. But I got the basic idea, and much of it was how Linda's therapy at Rusk progressed. At this point, you might say that the lesson for Linda is to try to do things with the most natural movements possible; to be as normal as she is capable of and not to cheat when things are difficult.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A good day

Today was a good day. I got a lot done, and I enjoyed myself too. It won't sound like sense, but I've been pretty stressed this summer. I've been pushing to much to get all of my projects done. Not having a formal job to show up for doesn't matter if you grind yourself into the ground willingly.

But today went well. I finished installing the new hard drive that came yesterday for the computer in my office. The process of copying all my files was a bit slow, so I let it run overnight. It was ready for the finishing touches when I got up this morning, and it's running great.

I took Linda to the dentist, which was traumatic for her but not for me. She said it reminded her of Rusk, especially early Rusk.

After the dentist, Linda was too tired to go out for lunch. I wanted to go for lunch, so I made Mac-n-cheese for her at home and went out by myself. I took the book I've been reading lately, Eragon, and read at the restaurant. I went to that new pizza place on the corner of the square. They have good taco pizza.

Then I took my car to have some recall work done and had it inspected. I waited there and read my book.

With my clean inspection in hand, I went back downtown and paid for my new tags. I registered for two years so I can save the hassle of doing it again next year.

There was still time before I needed to get Ellie, so I got a much-needed haircut. That is always bliss.

Even after that, I was still early. So I browsed at the movie store and brought home two things I thought Linda would like to see. It turns out that with Truman ID, the Movie Gallery has rent one get one free on Wednesdays. What luck.

I haven't been this relaxed in a month.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The sisterhood

I went to the matinee showing of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I could mention that I was the only guy in the theater, but that would be misleading. I was the only person in the theater, so I could laugh as loud as I wanted. Linda chose not to go, because she did not want to cry at the sad parts, and there are some sad parts.

Linda knows, because she has read the book. In fact, if you buy the book at the store, you'll likely find a quote on the cover that Linda wrote. Surprised? She wrote the review of it for School Library Journal and the publisher quoted her on the second printing.

Program update

I'm still making slow progress on my program. I have stopped testing it so much vocally. Linda was going crazy with me saying phrases over and over and over with different inflections to see how the program responded. I'm very pleased with the quality of the output I am getting. It will be time to write a somewhat less crude program soon. I am waiting for an interlibrary loan book before I really dive into that.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Not hungry

I took Ellie to the after hours clinic yesterday after she still had her fever and reported a sore throut. She let me look in to see a bunch of red and white spots; yuck. The clinic was OK, and definitely cheaper than a trip to the emergency room. I wasn't too sure about the nurse when she couldn't even use the scale and I had to weigh Ellie. But the doctor was pretty cool.

Ellie has some version of foot-and-mouth disease. It's a virus that causes blisters to form in your mouth (the white spots). It can also make a rash on you hands and feet. The virus was apparently the cause of her fever the past few days. The fever is down, but it will take some time for the blisters to heal.

Not surprisingly, she doesn't have much interest in eating or drinking. I'll probably regret it later, but I'm pretty much letting her eat anything that she'll tolerate, and it's mostly junk food. She is obviously still not feeling well, because rather than bug me to play, she asks to watch Little Bear videos over and over.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Prototype number two

I got my second prototype speech program working today. I guess, since it is not first, prototype may not me quite the right word. But it's done none-the-less. Like the first prototype I made, it is very crude, but it seems to work reasonably well. I works well enough that I feel good about going on. I am also starting to understand the Linux sound system a bit better, so I'm feeling better as well. I really hate it when a program works but I don't know why.

Poor little girl

Ellie has a bug today. I don't know what it is, but it looks like the flu. Mostly fever and fatigue. Hopefully it won't last too long. She seems to be running around 102 or 103 even though I gave her some Tylenol. Poor thing, she actually put herself back to bed. Hopefully she won't give it to me, although that seems to be the usual pattern in our house.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Hey, you! You wanna cat?

Yes, another cat has found its way to our house. Since you already know how I feel about cats, you're dismayed that a young vulnerable little kitty is being subjected to me. Ease your conscience and come adopt it. It's a boy.

I'm a bit cranky today, or maybe just sad, I'm not sure which. To many things on my todo list perhaps. I'm glad I finished the lawn yesterday since we've had so much rain. Today I worked on cleaning the house some. I started an attack on Ellie's room.


I also did some research into Linda's wheelchair, for which I am still receiving bills. I dug up every EOB I have and totalled all of the values. I figured out which numbers were considered part of the purchase and which were different. Then I called the wheelchair folks to get more details.

The upshot? After all of my digging, I think the insurance company is still underpaying the bill. For a while, I believed that the wheelchair folks didn't have their stuff together (and they don't in some ways), but the numbers just don't seem to add up.

The big insight for me today was the purchase price of the wheelchair. According to Epoch (insurance people) the purchase price was $986 which they met sometime in March after I appealed an October denial. According to Apria (wheelchair people) the actual price of the chair is $1586, exactly $600 more. When I add up all of the payments that Epoch has sent so far, the balance is still about $445 short--there was some wheel rent not applied to the $986 number. Yes, you apparently rent the wheels separately from the chair.

So I sent Epoch a long letter with all of the payments categorized and suggested that they forgot to pay for something. Either someone used the wrong price, or they didn't pay for the wheels, or something. We'll see what happens.

I got all of my conversations on tape of course. I can't recommend enough the practice of taping your phone calls.


I finished a prototype sound program today. It seems to work. I can read sound data from the sound card and display it crudely on the screen. It looks like sound waves, so I think I'm ready to proceed to the next part. It's not as satisfying as it should be because although it works, I still don't feel like I understand it.

Still it's a beginning.

Monday, June 06, 2005

A week's worth of work

Since today was officially my first day of summer vacation, I made a list of all the things I want to get done. I don't mean the big things, like write a suite of speech therapy software. I meant the little things, like mow the law. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that my list of things is more than can be accomplished in a single day.

I returned speech therapy books to the library and picked up another book. While I was at school, I installed licenses for two pieces of software that we use in the math department, Mathematica and Matlab. They are two of my least favorite pieces of software, and I encourage you never to use either. Unfortunately things didn't go smoothly (that's why I hate these programs) so pretty much my whole morning was obliterated by the task. One of my colleagues noted that I should ask for a raise, and he was completely serious.

I mowed the lawn this afternoon. Well, half of it. I'll have to finish tomorrow.

I finished the afternoon by attending the ITAC meeting. ITAC is the committee that hopes to keep computer services from spinning out of control. They were discussing one topic I was particularly interested in, so I went to the meeting so I could ask questions.

I arrived at the meeting early, and I just finished the novel I was reading, so I pulled out a copy of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly. I've been carrying it around for quite a while, but things have been too hectic for me to finish it. Before the meeting started, George B. (from computer services) saw me reading it. Is that the issue where they hack the Cisco phones? I told him that I had just finished that article. There's something nice about running into other people with something of the hacker mentality.

Jen and Derek were over tonight. I sold them my push lawn mower. Derek started it, just to prove that it would run. I even dug up the original owner's manuals, carefully preserved. We talked about shooting cats.

As if all of those things were not enough to fill a day, I started writing my first prototype program for my speech software project. It doesn't do anything yet, but hopefully in a day or two at least I'll have something. Not something big or polished mind you, but something to start from.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Quotes that mean something

The emperor is not as forgiving as I am.
---Darth Vader, Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi
I'm too tired to make a title. Portfolio reading ended this afternoon. It doesn't seem real, yet, that summer has finally begun. I have a lot of errands to run next week.

My speech software project is coming along. I've had about 10 signal analysis books from the library and dug through the code of a free software guitar tuning program. I believe I have the two essential (signal analysis) skills that my program will require. I can convert a sound sample to a pitch reliably, and I can get a useful measure of its loudness/energy.

I'm looking forward to some free time during the day (when Ellie is at day care) to work on my projects.