Welcome to Glenn's Blog!

Here I will periodically post random thoughts and stories about what's going on in my life and the world around me. As if anyone cared. But seriously, you've found your way here, so hopefully you will enjoy at least some of what I have to say, even if you aren't entirely interested in it. At the least, it should be a good way to waste time.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving...and Halloween

Well Thanksgiving is finally here, meaning there's only one more month of 2013. Today is also the day our first child, Connor, turns 4 weeks old, having been born this past Halloween. That was a Halloween to remember.

I was awoken at 1:30am by Whitney, who said she was bleeding and had called the advice nurse who advised her to come in. Turns out her mucous plug had come out, an early indicator that labor is imminent. So we drove to the hospital in Roseville, after loading the cats up with ample food since we suspected that we'd be gone for some time.

At the check-in station in Labor and Delivery they determined that Whitney was having contractions 3-4 minutes apart. Though she was not feeling them at the time (lucky her I suppose). She was dilated enough to admit her at that point, though it was right on the cusp of that so we were given the choice to be admitted straight away or to wait two hours and see if anything was progressing. We chose the former.

Most of the day was uneventful as we sat in our room and watched the contractions come and go on the monitor. Around 11:00am she finally started to feel them - and then they progressively got more painful until the point where we decided it was time for the epidural at 12:30pm. That thing is a godsend - amazing how it changes the course of labor. She was also on Pitocin at that point, and actually had been for a few hours, but still things appeared to be moving a bit slowly. At 1:00pm we were calling the nurses station to notify them that her water had broke. When they checked her again a couple of hours later, they discovered that her dilation had rapidly increased.

It was decided to start active pushing at 5:30pm, which we did, and for the next two hours it was like riding the waves of the ocean; with each swell on the monitor she began pushing to try and get him further down. It seemed like a horrifically slow process, but in reality the whole thing was over in two hours - a mere wink of time compared to some of the labor horror stories you hear about - and Connor was born at 7:37pm.

It was quite an amazing thing to watch; surreal really, to see this human child come out of its mother. He actually got a little stuck at the shoulders and they had to twist and pry and prod him a little to get him to come out. But then he was here! The doctor's first words were, "Wow, I didn't expect him to be that big". They had guesstimated 7-8 pounds earlier, but he came out at 8 pounds, 15 ounces. The first thing they did was to put him on Whitney for some skin to skin bonding time, where he stayed for several minutes before I cut the cord. He must have liked it because he pooped all over Whitney and himself. And the bed. And the sheets. And the floor.

Cutting the cord, incidentally, feels just like they described it - like cutting through a deflated balloon.

So now, four weeks later, we have a healthy (and large) baby boy, who spends his days eating, sleeping, and pooping. And yet he still finds time to complain about that by crying his head off. Fortunately he's not colicky, and in reality, as babies go, and actually pretty mild mannered. And what a personality! It's amazing the facial expressions and body movements he's capable of at such a young age.

So here's to four weeks, which have flown by really, and to many more to come. Maybe next year we can actually be home to hand out candy on Halloween...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Kitty Trouble

Well yesterday was an emotionally draining day. One of our kitties, little Mickey, had been having some wheezing coughing the last few days, as well as labored breathing. We thought he had ingested something that was making him sick. If only we could have been so lucky. The night before last we noted that he didn't quite have the appetite or energy he normally had. So Tuesday morning I decided to take him into our vet and get him looked over.

They were immediately concerned by his breathing, although he really didn't appear to be in any distress if you just looked at him. Blood work seemed fine, but the X-rays were quite alarming. Mickey had fluid surrounding his lungs. The most common causes for this are all pretty bleak in their prognosis for his long term survival.

We were referred to the VCA hospital, which is essentially a 24-hour emergency hospital for animals. Its lobby even resembles a regular hospital waiting room, although somehow bleaker and less sterile looking. It's not a fun place to hang out, since it's not the kind of vet you take your pet to for a regular checkup. People in the lobby are invariably withdrawn into their own thoughts as they await what will likely be unpleasant news.

I spent a total of six hours there, while Mickey was somewhere in the bowels of the building being examined and treated. First on the agenda was to sedate him and drain as much fluid as possible from around his lungs. They had to consult with me first, since everything they do there is a pretty expensive endeavor. But you have to do what you have to do. And you have to treat the immediate symptoms before you can get to the underlying cause.

Apparently the type of fluid they drain can determine the likely prognosis all by itself. Milky fluid means one thing. Pussy fluid means an infection. And so forth. His fluid was clear, which usually means one thing: congestive heart failure. So the next step was to see a cardiologist, a specialist who doesn't come in large quantities apparently. Fortunately, this was Tuesday, and Tuesday is a day the VCA does have a cardiologist on site.

So I sat and waited for him to have an opening between appointments so he could do an ultrasound on Mickey's heart. If you think that sounds expensive, well, it is. The bottom line was - and here my memory of details is a bit sketchy due to grief and shock - he had clear indicators of heart failure in one of his chambers, which was enlarged and tending to flutter as opposed to pumping normally. Mickey's heart isn't pumping enough blood to support his body.

I don't really need to go into much more detail here. I was setup with several medications in the form of pills which have to be administered orally at different intervals throughout the day. He is home now and doing okay; the first night he didn't seem like himself at all, and simply sat hovering over his water dish and growling at his sister whenever she came near. Completely uncharacteristic behavior for him. Today he is a little better, though he prefers to sit by himself under the bed away from everyone. He came out a couple of times to eat, and even came downstairs once. So I guess that's an improvement. He still loves to be petted and immediately begins purring and brushing up against your hand, and even rolls over to let you rub his belly. So today is a better day.

Apparently this is not the sort of disease where you can get a very exact prognosis. No one can say how long he will have, only that this is a disease that will ultimately be the cause of his early demise. They said that with meds they hope he can go another year in relative comfort and mostly normal life. But the reality is, he may have a few weeks or a few years, no one really knows. My last cat had to be euthanized, because she was clearly suffering from a sudden onset of renal failure. It was better to see her go peacefully than to watch her struggle just to stay (barely) alive. I might have to make that same decision for Mickey someday soon.

Yes, yesterday was a sad day.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Late Summer Updates

I really need to get around to writing more on here. Though I'm not sure anyone actually reads it...but it would be nice to have a journal to reflect back on when I'm old(er) and gray(er).

Well here we are in the late stages of summer. We just had a scheduled fire drill here at work, and my ears are still numb and slightly ringing from the obscenely loud alarms. Since my last writing, quite a lot has happened, but at best I'll just be able to summarize a few key points here.

First and foremost, we're expecting our first child in late October, a boy, so obviously we've been ramping up on the purchase of baby related items and going to classes on safety and doctor's appointments and all that jazz. It's been an uneventful pregnancy so far, in the sense that everything has looked good and normal and there's been no causes of concern anywhere. We just moved in May to a new house, just a couple miles north of our condo, so that we could have more room for our growing family. So far, the cats approve of the new place. We'll see how they feel about a kid...

Our condo is still owned by us, and is currently being rented out through a property management company. The economy is steadily improving, particularly on the home values end, but we're still too far under water on the condo to consider selling. We actually got a good deal on our house, just shy of 2000 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths, built in 2006, and in a great neighborhood close to good schools and shopping. And it was $269k at time of purchase, so we probably already have equity in the place which is good news.

We just got back from a trip to San Francisco over the weekend, where we got to visit and explore Golden Gate Park (Whitney's never been to the Japanese Tea Garden. Check!). It was fun staying in the city; our hotel was right near China Town and Union Square, so an ideal central location from which to spread out and see a little bit of the city. Prior to that we had taken a 4 day cruise from Long Beach to Catalina and Ensenada. We had actually wanted to take a 10 day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska again, especially as the rates were incredibly low this summer. But the dates we could do were just over the 24-week pregnancy deadline by which they won't let you sail. So we had to opt for an earlier, shorter trip booked on short notice. But it was nice to get away. We're still considering doing the Alaska one next summer as more of a family integrated trip - though not sure I want to bring an 8-month old along on that. We'll see how fussy he ends up being in general ;)

Anyways, it's a slow week here as we just concluded the Cal Cap workshops at Sac State, so it's time to get the lockers reset and some other things cleaned up and ready for the fall. Not sure if there will be any more last minute short getaways before the summer ends...actually Whitney's school starts next week so probably not. I'm still playing with the Freelancer's Alumni, and I'm going with them to the DCA championships in Annapolis over Labor Day weekend. So that should be an interesting experience. Time to start memorizing music I guess...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rolling Along 2013

I know I probably say it just about every time I write on here, but the days and months are just flying by! We're already into week five of the school year, and just about finished with the second month of the new year. Where does all this time go??

It's been a busy time, as usual around here. I've been playing a little bit again, this time playing electric bass with Green Valley Theatre for Aida, though only for the opening and closing weekends as a sub. I wasn't sure if I could still physically play, what with the wrist disaster of 2009 still keeping me from being able to turn my left wrist all the way. And to be sure, there is a little pain involved, but all in all it's been holding up pretty well. Good thing too, since I'll be playing six shows of Avenue Q with Runaway Stage in March, and might be possibly playing the run of Blood Brothers with Green Valley again in April. To celebrate this, I have acquired a new electric bass from guitar Center. It's a 5-string Squier with - get this - frets. I've never played with fret before, to say nothing of having five strings. So we'll see how well I can adapt to this.

In the meantime, I'm still waiting for rehearsals of my Symphony to begin. I suspect they'll start right after the March orchestra concert, and if all goes well, the piece will be performed on the May concert. It's certainly by far the biggest work I have ever imagined, attempted, or completed, so it should be quite exciting to start seeing it come to life.

Things have been going fairly well on other fronts; I sat down and got our taxes done for the year last weekend. And, we're getting a nice return this year - not like last year where we ended up paying quite a bit extra. We had been working on a refi for our underwater mortgage, simply for the sake of lowering the interest rate. We had actually gotten a solicitation from our mortgage company, Bank of America, about the new-ish Harp loan. After spending quite a bit of time on the phone and doing credit checks, and locking in a rate of 4.375 and signing and faxing over a dozen sheets of paper, we got a huge packet of paperwork in the mail to sift through and try to make sense of. We also got a call from someone else at B of A saying, sorry, but your type of condo doesn't qualify for this type of loan. Say what now?? What's that supposed to mean?? Well if we ever get a call back maybe we'll find out. In the meantime it looks iffy, and seems like we're set to be screwed over by B of A. Not that this is the first time, mind you. The first time we had received a solicitation and called in about a different type of refi, and they told us we didn't qualify because our current mortgage was not technically a Bank of America mortgage, even though our statements have their name on them, and are sent from them, and our payments go to them.

Why do banks send you solicitations to apply for programs which they aren't willing to allow you to be qualified for anyway?? Are they bored?? Are we on candid camera?? You would think with our impeccable track record of payments and exceptional credit averaging 800 between us, this wouldn't be such an issue.

Oh well, we're rolling along as usual.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I Tweeted

So, I took the plunge a couple of days ago and signed up for Twitter, after observing in the last year all these random hash-tag this and hash-tag that posts and advertisements that keep popping up. I figured, heck, I'll see what all the hoopla is about.

Frankly, I don't get it.

It seems Twitter is just a dumbed down version of Facebook, lacking in all of the primary features that make a social media site customizable and personal. I don't understand why I can follow a person or thing, yet I can't control what I see from them. Maybe I don't want to see the posts of others that they saw fit to share with the world. Re-tweets, I guess they're called. But why can't I at least delete things from my feed that I don't care to see?? That would seem to me to be a basic functionality that's lacking.

Now, to be fair, I had somewhat of an auspicious start on Twitter. I signed up initially on my iPhone, and apparently they were having difficulties that day, for anyone whom I chose to follow simply did not show up in my feed at all. I could go to their Twitter page and see their posts however, but this just made the experience more cumbersome. That is apparently fixed now.

To add to that, right after I made my historic first Tweet - some dumb nonsense about the weather - I immediately got a reply from someone I don't know who swore that this was my lucky day and that I could certainly be entitled to a free gift card with participation. Fortunately I figured out how to block that person, but their post still shows on my phone under the "@Connect" tab - and there's no way to delete it. Oddly, it doesn't show up there when I log on via an actual computer. So I'm left to wonder, is this just some sort of glitch?

Well, in any case these things did not leave a good first impression. And first impressions, as we all know, are of tantamount importance.

So, for the time being, I'm still on Twitter, and I'll tweet abut random nonsense from time to time. Though I'll still be wondering why I bother, because for the moment this fad seems completely inferior to Facebook. And rather pointless. Maybe I'm missing something. Or maybe I'm just predisposed to hating new things.

Well, I do fear change...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Year Flying By

Well, it seems like we just finished tearing down our smattering of Christmas decor, and suddenly we've not only turned over a new year but we find ourselves halfway through January. Where does all this time go?

I'd like to say that I've been productive this winter, and certainly in some respects I have been, but mostly it's been a laid back restful break.

Well, technically, the break is already over. I actually started back to work on January 3. But since the students don't start until January 28, it's been slow around here and I've been only working partial days. That has left time to go visit the gym that we religiously pay for each month and often ignore, and to relax at home and slowly sit through Season 1 of Star Trek: The Next Generation on BluRay.

So, it's been a nice break, and I'm halfway through the run of 9 to 5: The Musical at the 24th Street Theatre. It's been some time since I conducted anything, but it's been nice to get back into the swing of things.

At work, things are even slower at the moment as our email system went out around 8:30 yesterday morning, and remains out of commission still. I know there's emails slowly piling up, as yesterday as I was able to briefly glimpse a list of them sitting on the server, but I could not access them and now I cannot even see that they're sitting there. Heck I can't even log on to the server at all.

Such are things at Sac State.

As it turns out, I'll be playing bass again, for one week at least, of shows for Avenue Q. It's been awhile since I've played anything as well, so we'll see how much like riding a bike it is. But that's not till March, so I still have some time to reflect on that. And maybe work my wrist up a little; I never did regain full movement of my left wrist after playing Rent several years ago.

But, as they, time marches on. The New Year was fairly uneventful; I actually had a rehearsal till 8pm anyway, so we just stayed at home and ate pizza and watched a movie. It had been cold, and is even colder now, so going to any outside fireworks shows was a bit out of the question anyway. And as it turns out, due to a shooting in Old Town, the midnight fireworks there were cancelled anyway.

What will 2013 hold? Well, hopefully my symphony written as my graduate project will be performed in May, we plan to spend a few days exploring Yosemite over spring break, and if the airfare comes down, a trip to England may happen this summer. Other than that, the year will be played by ear, and we'll see what happens.

So far, so good.