Monday, 17 February 2014

09:18 – We’re now in Day Four of no USPS service. I’ve just added three more boxes to the stack awaiting pickup from orders that came in yesterday afternoon and overnight.

We did a Costco run and then dinner with Mary and Paul yesterday. They didn’t get mail Friday, but they got mail Saturday. Apparently everyone got mail service Saturday except our little part of our neighborhood.

Barbara’s mother is still acting out, determined to force Barbara and Frances to allow her to live with one of them. That’s not going to happen, and they’ve made it very clear to Sankie that if she doesn’t stop this they’re going to have to move her over to the assisted living or nursing facility at Homestead Hills, and that once that happens she won’t be coming back to live at Creekside. Despite the high cost, Barbara and Frances plan to continue the round-the-clock home health aide for a while longer, to give Sankie every chance to clean up her act. I don’t think that’s going to happen. There’s nothing more they can do to help their mother as long as she’s not willing to do anything to help herself.

As I’m doing laundry every Saturday, it strikes me how badly the loss of US textile manufacturing has affected the quality of clothing and towels. Barbara has been buying most of our clothing from LL Bean and Lands’ End for 30 years now. It used to be that all or nearly all of it was made the USA, most of it in factories within a hundred mile radius of us. I still have a US-made sweatshirt from Lands’ End that Barbara bought for me probably 20 years ago. It’s still in very good shape. Conversely, I have sweatshirts bought from Bean or Lands’ End just a few years ago that are badly worn. Those were made in Mexico, China, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Peru, and so on. I’m disappointed that Bean and Lands’ End sell this third-world garbage. I’d prefer to buy only items made in the US or other first-world countries, where quality still means something. Yeah, US-made stuff costs more. So what? It may cost 50% more, but it lasts three times as long.

Science kit sales are still slow in absolute terms, but running at twice the rate of last February. I need to get more kits built, so that’s what I’ll work on today.


39 thoughts on “Monday, 17 February 2014”

  1. Ah, so that is what Sankie is doing. We are kinda in the same boat without the acting out. My wife’s 81 year old father wants to move in with us and have her take care of him. He has been hinting that for about six months now and my wife tells him to move to assisted living.

    Forget the fact that he can easily afford assisted living. Forget the fact that my wife has a full time job and takes care of our disabled daughter. Forget the fact that our house is the opposite of ADA. It is not going to happen!

  2. I’ve been buying Lands End dress shirts for work starting in ’84. Somewhere along the line they were acquired by Sears. Now when Sears goes bankrupt……..

  3. Agreed on the American-made products; we’ve noticed the same thing; clothes we’ve gotten are made in Third-World slave operations and fall apart in no time. We try to buy local as much as we can, not always easy.

    My sympathies on the elderly parent situations; been there and done that and still doing it, with more to come, by which time we will be elderly ourselves and can then inflict it on our own kids and grandkids. Not. Would rather take a long nap in a cold snowbank first.

  4. I, too, have no intention of living beyond my ability to care for myself. Basically, I refuse to slow down in acknowledgement of my age, in my 50s now. I figure I’ll walk into a fight I can’t win, or have a heart attack shoveling snow, or something pathetic but quick like that. Doesn’t seem to be happening, though — I still put out a predator aura that makes gangsta babies get quiet around me and my heart is in great shape. (Lowballing all numbers, I shoveled a ton and a half of snow this weekend. Using more reasonable numbers, it’s probably more like two and a half.)

    Since my hopes of a quick end are being dashed even as we speak, I guess I’m just going to be nagged to death — low-grade stress building into a stroke or something. Great. Now I just got myself all depressed.

  5. Huh. I was getting ready to watch the Aggie – UT football on TV when I had my first heart attack (reading a newspaper!). Went to the ER about 30 minutes before the game started.

  6. I don’t think I have any kind of aura, other than as a gentle, easy-going, meek kind of guy. What I’ve never understood is why people tend to back away when I look at them.

  7. As for day 4, today is a holiday …….

    So what? As Kim, who retired on disability from the USPS, said to me yesterday, USPS doesn’t actually take off Sundays and holidays. The distribution centers are still processing mail, it’s being driven from center to center or loaded on planes, and so forth. Only the counter people and delivery people have the day off.

    And, given their utter and complete collapse here on Friday and particularly Saturday, they should have been out doing deliveries and pickups yesterday (*and* today, if needed). Pay the people time-and-a-half or whatever, but hold to the old standard, which was getting the mail delivered and picked up, no matter what.

  8. USPS is a broke organization looking for a place to die. They have their rates set by Congress. They have their responsibilities set by Congress. There are no degrees of freedom so they are screwed up. And worse, you are not their customer, Congress is.

    I don’t even know why they have Postmasters nowadays, they have no freedom to manage their workplaces. Everything is controlled by a union contract that Congress says that they must accept with no bargaining. It is truly the worst of all worlds.

    So, has Colin used many of the shipments for chew toys yet?

  9. And I have a major gripe with the USPS also. Did you know that you cannot bring a gun on to USPS property? That includes the parking lot, not just the building(s).

    I am going to a conference this weekend in a USPS training facility in Norman, OK. They rent it out for other conferences. One of their items is a instruction that you need to stop at a local gun range and make arrangements to drop your gun(s) off there before going to NCED. The parking lot is access controlled and I will be asked if I have a gun in my truck. Is this an over-reach or what?

  10. What I’ve never understood is why people tend to back away when I look at them.

    Rabbit bones braided into your beard?

  11. “…the loss of US textile manufacturing has affected the quality of clothing and towels.”

    I disagree with your assesment as well as the one from OFD. The companies that used to buy in the USA are still the same but they now buy from overseaes suppliers instead of thelocal suppliers. You have bought from the same clothing chain for a long time and they still do the ordering. In doing so, they do not just say send me x numbers of shirts and we’ll buy them. They actually specify what cloth is to be used whith specificifications pertinent to the number of threads, particular proportion of fibers, sizes, proportions, etc and they have their own quality control systems as well. You should actually be blaming the people that sell you the shirts that are using cheaper material specifications, not the producers.

    You get plenty of products manufactured overseas that are good quality if spec’d correctly and with a good quality control system in place.

  12. I know what you mean about towels, Bob. We use Fieldcrest towels and washcloths that we bought over 15 years ago, and with a few exceptions (having 4 kids can be hard on stuff) they look like new. Sadly, Fieldcrest went under a dozen or so years ago…

    Cheers, Rod Schaffter

  13. Hi Bob, you might want to update your Jerry Pournelle link to:
    http://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/

    You know, his story about reaching over to grab something off the concrete deck, bashing his face on the deck and getting a free trip to the ER via his wife used to be funny. Nowadays, I take that as a deadly warning. And the wife does too, her neuropathy in her legs from chemo eight years ago is coming back. And not in a nice way. The wife took a nasty spill last week, did not rip her sweat pants but did rip her knee skin off. Getting older is not for the faint of heart!

  14. I know what you mean. Since I suffered that attack of vertigo a few years ago, I’ve been carrying a four-footed cane at all times. About 99.9% of the time I don’t need it, but it’s saved me from falling several times.

  15. And I have a major gripe with the USPS also. Did you know that you cannot bring a gun on to USPS property? That includes the parking lot, not just the building(s).

    This is true of all federal facilities. Soldiers on base are disarmed except when training or on guard duty – see the Fort Hood terrorist attack, it took one of the private security officers to take down Nidal. While I had JSC access, a contractor was stopped for a random car search and his shotgun was in the trunk from a day out skeet shooting on the previous weekend. He got a week’s suspension.

  16. Soldiers on base are disarmed except when training or on guard duty

    Soldiers in USA bases. Soldiers in foreign bases, especially the middle east are armed all the time. When my son came back from Iraq the last time, he had a hard time sleeping without his M4 in his bunk.

    BTW, I believe that having to disarm yourself to go on feddie property is unconstitutional. And so does the IRA, they have filed a lawsuit. There are eight guns cases being appealed to SCOTUS right now, this being one.

  17. “Soldiers in foreign bases, especially the middle east are armed all the time.”

    During my two tours in Korea, we only carried during training and alerts. Things may have changed. Middle East they better carry!

    Checked with my Navy O-6 friend who works out of CENTCOM. Most of the places he goes overseas don’t carry (except Middle East).

  18. I have been a silent reader for many years but I’m sad to read that Sankie seems she really just wants to live with one of her children before it’s time to move out of this planet for good and it’s a no go. I could never reject my mother, I will never ever put her into assisted living because the standards are just never as good as they seem when you take the tour of the place anyway and your parents are the people who take care of you all of your life; it breaks my heart a little when the offspring don’t want to go out of their way to do likewise for their parents. Having been a big fan and avid reader of yours for some 10 years, needless to say I’m very disappointed. It honestly sounds like more hassle to ship her about than it would be to let her stay and have her not be on her own and with family 🙁

  19. Wow. We’ve gone through this with my father, my mother, Barbara’s father, and now Barbara’s mother. Tell me again what you think once you’ve actually had to deal with it yourself.

  20. It honestly sounds like more hassle to ship her about than it would be to let her stay and have her not be on her own and with family

    I also went through this with my aunt. The assisted living place was quite nice, excellent in fact. I could visit any time, for any reason and the environment was always excellent. The nursing was a typical nursing home, a holding pattern for the final departure.

    Regardless, taking care of someone with mental issues is a danger to them and to yourself. You cannot leave them alone for 5 minutes. You run the risk of them harming themselves or destroying your home. They could turn on a stove and leave it on, they could light a candle and knock it over, they could slip and fall, the list goes one.

    Assisted living facilities are geared toward people with issues. They have significant safety measures to include grab rails, no steps required, locked kitchen, staff available 24 hours with training in emergency procedures. Something you do not have in your home.

    There is no physical way I could have cared for my aunt. She would have destroyed my life. Is that truly what your parents would want if they were in their right mind?

    Putting someone in a facility is a personal decision. If you want your parents to live in your home, fine. Don’t chastise others for such a decision as not all circumstances are equal. I have never regretted my decision and will defend that decision to anyone that asks as if it is any of their business anyway.

  21. Taking care of someone with dementia, or serious health issues, is *more* than a full-time job, because you really have to be on duty 24 hours a day. Your entirely life becomes devoted to caring for the other person.

    If things are not that serious – if the person is still thinking and independent, but perhaps just too frail to live alone – then sure, consider having them move in. If it’s more serious than that, assisted living or an old age home is the only way to go.

  22. “If things are not that serious – if the person is still thinking and independent”

    This is exactly the situation with my Mom. She’ll be with me for two years in June (she’ll be 89). If her mind wasn’t sharp or she was immobile, I couldn’t take care of her and work (even from home as I do now). Two fake knees, bum hip, bum ticker, bad thyroid, plus the usual senior problems. I moved her from a small town in WI to Vegas to save her. She wanted to stay in her house, but there just aren’t the resources in a town of 9,000. The cops had to bust down her door twice when she didn’t get her insulin dose right. She would have died staying there so I moved her.

    After 20 in the Army and living far away, it’s great to reconnect. When the time comes, she has already said to put her in a “home.” The only thing left then is to transport her back to WI where she’s had a grave plot for 50 years. Dad’s been there for 40.

  23. What Ray and brad said; we went through this deal with my dad, who got early-onset Alzheimer’s, and would do things like take the car and disappear and go sit somewhere until, thankfully, cops noticed and got him back to us. Or he’d turn on all the burners on the stove and then walk out of the house and disappear. He also got violent a couple of times at the assisted-living site and knocked people down, including elderly women; he was a big guy, too, and a WWII Navy Shore Patrol vet. So, as has been pointed out, someone would have had to stay by his side 24×7 to prevent the possibility of being burned alive in one’s house or having to hunt him down miles away in the dead of winter. Now we have the same situation with our mom, who is 82 and has Pick’s Disease, a variant of Alzheimer’s, and just as pernicious and rotten. My next-younger brother and his wife and daughters have cared for her (he even built an attached in-law apartment onto his house) for eleven years and finally just couldn’t be there 7×24 for her anymore and now she’s in a facility that is more like a nice hotel than a nursing home, close to family down in Massachusetts.

    You unfortunately come to a place, eventually, where you are forced to balance the love you have for your parents and your devout wish to care for them, and the increasing danger to them, you and yours. It sucks rocks, but there it is; in ye days of old they would have been consigned to “poor farms” or asylums and left to rot.

  24. I saw this also with an aunt of my wife. We went over to visit her one Christmas. She had an ancient, totally dried out Christmas pine wreath on a table, with candles lit in it; the candles had apparently been lit a long time, and had burned down to the wreath. Literally just as we walked in the door, the candles set it on fire. I managed to put out the fire before it really caught, and threw the whole thing into her fireplace.

    She was suffering a type of dementia, and there’s no way she would have noticed or reacted in time. She had already had kitchen fires and other exciting things – she dangerous to herself and others, and iirc her children moved her to a home shortly afterwards.

  25. My FIL cannot walk more than 3 ft without his cane. He also weighs about 350 lbs, 100 more than me. I cannot pick him up, I have tried. He is also incontinent. His girlfriend is 5 foot nothing and weighs 90 lbs. They are both in their early 80s. My FIL has serious lung and heart problems.

    The VA doctors want him in a wheelchair. They have given him a scooter and modified his van and house to contain the scooter. He turned the scooter over and now refuses to use it.

    My FIL owns his home and 3 rent homes. He owns several pieces of land outside Texas. He is not taking care of any of these and starting to get a lot of threatening calls and letters. He says that everything costs too much so he refuses to pay for things without an argument.

    This is a freaking disaster. His girlfriend wants my wife to move in with him and take care of him. She could care less about our disabled daughter. Or the 300 miles away from our home, or our marriage. My wife is getting very peeved with his girlfriend. And, his girlfriend is severely enabling him so that he does not have to move into a nursing home. My wife wants him in a nursing home TODAY.

    Is it bad to say that we hope that he passes away some night?

  26. God bless you, Lynn; that is some pretty hard stuff. The gf is a serious problem in that scenario but I take it they’re not married; presumably your wife and you would have legal precedent but I’m no lawyer and do not play one on tee-vee. (Ex-wife is one, though, one of New Jersey’s “100 Super Lawyers”). I’d probably wanna look into some legal advice at this point.

    There is a limit, however, to what you can do. Hope it works out for the best.

  27. Is it bad to say that we hope that he passes away some night?

    Not at all. Sometimes that is the best solution.

    One thing you might do is contact the department on aging and see if they can convince his girl fiend (yeh, I spelled that correctly) that if she continues on her path she may get charged with elderly abuse.

    You have to worry about your own life, your own family. They should have absolute top priority.

  28. My father was 72 when he died of a heart attack in 1997. He was in fairly good shape, and died like that (snaps fingers). He and mum were still living in the family home. He told my mum that she should move in to something smaller and more manageable within six months of him dying, which she *didn’t* do. She stayed in the family home for 10 more years, ’till she had a fall one morning, aged 83, on the concrete floor of the laundry, and had to wait eight if so hours ’till my brother came and checked up on her. (Obviously, she hadn’t been answering the phone.)

    She broke something and had to spend a week in hospital. There was no way any of us could have looked after her, as we all worked. We got her into a nice retirement village near my sister’s place, so she saw plenty of us and her grand- and great-grandkids.

    There was a discordant note, when one of mum’s neighbours sneered to my brother “You put her in a home, did you?” I’m glad I wasn’t there, I might have hit him, and then the cops might have got interested.

    Mum loved the village, she met lots of fellow old codgers. Her lack of mobility meant that she was best off there. If she’d been physically fit it would have been different – one of her old neighbours was still power walking around the neighbourhood at 95, but mum wasn’t that fit.

  29. The problem is that the girlfriend is enabling him to stay out of the assisted living or nursing home. She changes his depends three times a day and cleans him up. Changes and washes his bedsheets each morning. There is no way that my wife or my SIL is going to do that. BTW, my FIL has buried two wives (MIL and another) and the girlfriend refuses to marry him. She is smart in that respect but loves him deeply. So deeply that she thinks that his desire to stay out of the assisted / nursing is best for him. There is a forest here but she cannot see it for the trees. BTW, the girlfriend lives next door in the attached town home, they bought town homes together 9 years ago.

    My SIL is so upset with the girl friend that she can barely talk to her. They have had major fights as my SIL lives 15 miles away and the girlfriend thinks that my SIL should be there at 8 am, 7 days per week to take care of him. The girlfriend calls my SIL daily to come over and change his depends. My SIL is not a nurse and refuses to be one. She has even called my wife several times to come take care of him. BTW, the FIL has plenty of money and benefits to take care of assisted / nursing home costs.

    I asked the girlfriend to be nicer to my SIL today and got a lot of discontent. My FIL has a major cough and she has been sleeping on his couch as he was barely breathing with serious congestion. I asked her why she did not call 911 and she said my FIL would not let her. Total enabling here. I was told that I will get old someday and will expect someone to wait on me hand and foot. Wrong, I will go to assisted living when necessary. I will not expect my kids to come wait hand and foot on me at my home.

    The wife and I talked about this for over 200 miles back to the Land of Sugar today. We have basically decided that my FIL has made his decisions and will have to deal with them. This has been building up for a few years now and is coming to a head. I suspect that it is going to get worse before it gets better.

  30. BTW, I did not have enough guts to tell the girlfriend that I am hoping to make it to 65, much less the lower 80s, when she told me that I will get old someday. Most people with my heart condition do not make it out of their teens, much less 53 years of age. And my afib is kicking up tonight.

  31. I’ll probably be lucky to make it to 65 or 70 given the things I’ve done to myself for half a century already. My dad was gone at 71 and his dad at 79. The women tend to live significantly longer, for some reason, haha, and that is even more true among Mrs. OFD’s family; routinely into their late 80s and 90s. Mrs. OFD herself, however, has several major medical issues, so we don’t know how that will play out with her. The men croak of various causes far earlier; in Ye Days of Olden Times, they were killed in work-related accidents (railroads, construction, mining, farming) or wars.

    Statistically the three major causes of death in my family have been cancer, senility and gunshot.

  32. Heart is the problem in my family: killed my father and three grandparents. Both grandfathers died before I was born, and both grandmothers by the time I was eight.

    I guess losing 35 kilos in the last 14 months might increase my odds slightly.

  33. : Statistically the three major causes of death in my family have been cancer, senility and gunshot.

    OK, I’ve got to wonder. Are we talking about 80%, 10% and 10%? Or are we talking 34%, 33% and 33%?

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