Sunday, August 30, 2015
Lynn and Dottie take in the Botanic Gardens
Dottie's sister, Lynne Bradshaw, and Lynne's setp daughter, Julia, Bradshaw, came by around lunchtime and picked Dottie up and the three of them spent the day at the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe. Theses are a bunch of plant loving ladies, but possibly what attracted them this weekend was an event which is alleged to happen only once every few years.
This was the opening of "Spike" the corpse flower which has been growing at the gardens for a long time. Here is what the Chicago Tribune had to say about it:
The so-called corpse flower, the rare rainforest plant that has become a sensation throughout the month at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, didn't quite live up to the hype, never blooming on its own and failing to produce most of its powerfully pungent odor. That hardly seemed to matter. Hundreds of curious visitors waited up to 45 minutes Sunday to see the plant, technically named titan arum and commonly referred to as "Spike."
More than a week after exhibiting signs of impending burst, including a faint odor, the plant never opened to showcase its tan and purple leaves. Instead, botanic garden scientists, after waiting more than a week, decided to cut around the base of the plant to open Spike on their own. An intrigued Sunday morning crowd looked on inside the plant's greenhouse home.
Scientists believe Spike, which is 68 inches tall, did not have enough energy to force itself open. The scientists' cuts helped peel the outer layers from the plant's main base, revealing a series of spongy and rubbery leaves, sort of like a bok choy leaf.
So, the ladies went to see the opening, and to smell for themselves the alleged odor of decaying flesh the plant was expected to give off when opened. I was unfortunately unable to attend this auspicious opening day. Spike was a disappointment to them as it hardly smelled bad at all. However, I will have to wait a while for another chance to see, or smell a similar evnet. It takes about 10 or 12 years for the plant to mature and open for the first time. Once it has bloomed, it takes it may, if it feels like it, bloom again in 3 to 7 years.
With Dottie gone all day, I had a little time on my hands, but lots of odds and ends to clear up. Instead, I thought I would try writing another section of my long-elapsed newsletter. My motivation for this was that a few, a very few, people have complained that they miss it, and aren't keeping track of whose birthday is when, and the like, and that they never know whether we are in Illinois or Florida. But, a second and more compelling reason is that I miss having the record of what happened when, and I lose track of birthdays and the like, and in spite of knowing where I am right now, I have trouble figuring out what happened when in the past. The newsletter served as a handy crutch if I needed to know when we did something.
So, more or less on the sly, I put together a newsletter for last week, covering only the highlights of what Dottie and I did, and what happened to us. Didn't get the birthdays and anniversaries looked up and inserted, but this was like the first time out of bed after a long illness. You don't expect to be able to jump over high hurdles, like looking things up which you don't remember because they happened more than 24 hours ago.
I did not tell anyone I was doing this, so I don't expect any adverse comments from anyone. After I see if I am up to spending this much time on the newsletter for a few weeks, I will admit that I am doing it. But not yet.
Packing for Rochester
I spent a little time getting ready for a trip to morrow to Rochester, NY, to meet with representatives of Empire Precision Plastics. I have some thoughts on how to improve our 2D --> 3D glasses and make it simpler to sell them without the likelihood that 20% of the purchasers will be dissatisfied with them. Hover, this requires actually making the lenses, rather than altering them with Fresnel film overlays. There are lots of companies which make lenses for glasses, but I had trouble finding one which would look at making what I want/ Empire looks like a good bet, both from the standpoint of having a very high level of technology in mold making, but also in having an interest in doing new and different things.
However, I am almost entirely ignorant of how their technology works, so I am investing the time (one whole day) to go up there and try to learn how they do things, and tell them in more detail what the end product we are after needs to do.I am looking forward to the visit, and want to have with me all of the props needed to explain my end of it.
Monday, August 31
Maids clean guest House
I had to go out and make sure there is nothing in their way, and they have nothing to move to do their cleaning.
Did so. Put the files and plans away, and put the screen door and windows outside, leaning against the porch, so they are out of the way. Turned the AC system on so they have some ventilation.
Day of travel
I spent the morning getting all of my stuff in order to take to Rochester, NY, and the afternoon and evening traveling.
You can't get to Rochester from Chicago O'Hare any more. The bir airplanes only go to big cities, and Rochester, like Fort Myers, FL isn't big enough. So you have to take a medium sized airplane, which will go from a big city to a small one, or vice versa. So, to go from a big city to a medium sized city, you first have to fly to another big ciry which happens to have service to the smaller city you want to go to.
So, I started out by going to Detroit. Detroit has a rather large, beautiful airprt terminal complex, for a city that seems to be mostly slums, many of them abandoned. But it is a big airport, and I only had 4 minutes to get from one extreme end to the other extreme end. The signs told me that taking their inter terminal tram was the fastest way to do so, but here was a certain amount of anxiety while a number of the 45 minutes ticked away. I did make the second plane OK, even with a few minutes to get a sandwich to go, which I ate on the airplane before it got airborne.
Both planes were on time, and I got into Rochester at a few minutes after 9:00 PM, rented a car and went to a nearby La Quinta motel.
Tuesday, September 1
I spent the first half of the day meeting with engineers and die designers at Empire Plastics Molding Company, which is a pretty impressive company. They make all sorts of molded plastic parts, but mostly small, intricate things which have to do with optics. Some of the tiny little lenses in cell phones, and many larger, more complex things that have to so with light transmission.
In addition to a general education about how plastic molding machines work, I got some insight into what they like to do. Apparently the more intricate, complicated and demanding the job, the better they like it. They are into automation, and build their own robots to remove products from the molds, remover the excess material, trim them as necessar, and sort them when there are multiple parts being made from a single mold.
A lot of their work is for the medical profession, where each tiny part has to have a documented history from the time it is cast until it becomes part of a pitient's body. They have automated the process of sorting the parts as many (like 20 or so) are molded in a single mold. They are sorted into separate batches as they come out and all of the record keeping as to where they are is kept automatically by computer.
They make their own molds, and in some cases, alter and improve upon molds made by their competitors, which provided unsatisfactory products and led to them switching suppliers. Their mold making capably is phenomenal. They showed me one of their diamond shaping machines, which works like a combination lathe and shaper. It has a diamond tool, and can machine anything that does not have carbon in it. This excludes steel, alone among the metals, and poly carbonates among the plastics. Even a small Sharpie mark on an aluminum casting is enough to ruin the diamond tool. They took a part with a parabolic mirror cavity they were machining out of the lathe and showed it to me, and it had a finished mirror finish, and required no polishing.
Their machine positioned the diamond cutting tool by computer, and were able to control the position of the tool to within one micron --- 1/1.000.000 meter. It does the positioning using light waves
Needless to say, I was impressed.
What impressed me even more was that they said there were some ways they could produce something like I need at relatively low cost if I could accept some limitations on the size and shape. The upshot was that they can make my lenticular lens with 3, 4, or 5 degrees, if I am willing to accept samples with a circular shape about 1 1/2 inch in diameter and flat, rather than curved in the dimension perpendicular to the plane of the lens.. I could use these to try out the various angles, and then select one or more for a production die. The day may cost as much as $30,000. They are going to make me a proposal for starting with 60 each of these sample lenss for each of the three angles above.
Early Arrival home
I was done before noon time, and although Gary felt obligated to take me to lunch, I could see that he had used up his whole morning with me and had other things he could be doing. So I told him I was in a hurry to get home, and could probably get an earlier plane back to Chicago if I departed right away. He gladly accepted my reverse invitation, and I left for the airport, stopping off on the way for a huge slice of pizza at a local Huge Slice of Pizza restaurant.
I was able to get an earlier flight, but was forced to fly East to LaGuardia, and then turn around and fly over Rochester on my way back to Chicago. But it was a very pleasant pair of flights. I was surprised to have a vacant seat on the airplane on the Rochester/LaGuardia leg of the trip, and even more surprised to have a plane only 1/3 full from LaGuardia to Chicago. Delta hasn't been paying close attention, or they would have shut down some of the hourly LaGuardia/O'Hare flights already.
When I booked the earlier, much shorter flight than I was scheduled to take via Atlanta, I called Dottie to say I would be arriving at 5:30 PM, rather than 10:00 PM. She was pleased that I was getting home early, but not at all pleased at the prospect of driving to O'hare and return during the height of the rush hour. So I told her I would get H&M Limo service, who didn't mind working during rush hour at all.
Wednesday, September 2
Goodbye to Hinkley and Schmidt
Or Hinckley Springs as they have been calling themselves lately.
Since moving to Barrington in 1970, we have experienced ever increasing water quality coming out of our spigots. The water coming up out of our well is plentiful, and we have gotten good service from two well pumps. But the quality is still just the same, as it probably was for thousands of years before anyone put a well down into the aquifer. Loaded with iron, calcium and sulfur. Enough to put brown rings and carbonate buildups on every surface it touched, and to smell like essence of rotten eggs. But, for a few years, we drank it just as it came out of the tap, without even a water softener.
Gradually, we added a softener with a Zeolite tank and a salt tank. Things didn't plug up so fast afterward, and our dishes stopped getting a white scale on them in the dishwasher. But the water still wasn't pleasant to drink, and we could not use it as makeup water for the swimming pool. So we bought Hinckley and Schmidt bottled water for drinking, and had truckloads come and put lake Michigan water in the pool, and a 2000 gallon storage tank in the garage.
Just a year ago, in August, we had our local water softener service company come and install a complete new system, upping the number of tanks from three to five, and installing a chlorine injection pump, a chlorination tank and a carbon filter to remove the chlorine after it has done its job on the sulfur and bacteria. We were promised water as good as Lake Michigan's and perfectly good for using in the pool and for drinking.
Correct on the first count, but not quite on the second. The water from our well now works fine in the swimming pool, but Dottie still doesn't' t like the taste. So, last month, I had a Reverse Osmosis system installed under the sink to treat our treated water one more time. This may have done the trick. We will see, when the supply of Hinckley water runs out. Until then, this is what we get in our coffee and occasional glass of nothing-added water.
Called Hinckley and canceled service and purchased the water dispenser. Dottie likes this one very much, and we will continue to use it for hot and cold water.
UOP Gofers Wuss Out
We always golf with the UOP alumni group on Wednesdays, weather permitting. However, they are getting on in years, and the severity of the weather which is outside the range they can tolerate is getting more common. Usually, at this time of year, we start worrying about it getting too cold for them, or too rainy. Today, they all canceled out because it was too hot and humid. Dottie and I, fortunately, are not getting any older, and we are still up for golfing under these mildly objectionable conditions. But half the fun is socializing with my ex-coworkers and their spouses. So we didn't go and play alone.
I did, however, call Bob Lengemann, because they are also more robust than the average, and tend to go regardless of weather. But they didn't make golf last Wednesday, and I was concerned because Mary Jane said she had a heart murmur which was bothering her cardiologist. He said she ought to have her mitral valve replaced before long, and I was afraid she might have gone in to have it done right away.
Bob reassured me that Mary Jane is in fine shape, but they didn't know Dottie and I would be available to play, so they cancelled. We didn't know Bob and Mary Jane would be available, so we cancelled. But, I was happy to hear that she is planning to get the valve replacement done in February, so it doesn't interfere with golf at all.
Back to the Botanic Garden
Dottie discovered that she had left her prescription sun glasses at the Botanic Garden when she and Lynne visited the Gardens on Sunday. It is a long drive back, and a relative scenic trip, and I hadn't been there in years, so I volunteered to drive her. We got to the garden just before noon.
The admission to the garden consists of paying a $30 parking fee, but as Dottie told the gate keeper, she was just there to pick up her lost glasses, he let us in free. They apparently have a very trustworthy clientele.
We got her glasses, which one of the attendants had told her would be at the main building in the information booth, and they were. As we were there, and not expected anywhere else, we stayed in the main building and had a nice lunch at their cafteria. While we were there, we were exposed to their propaganda saying how nice it was to have an annual membership, which bestowed all sorts of benefits too numerous to mention, on members, and they gave special low rates to our of town residents.
Dottie and I qualify, by virtue of having our legal residence in Florida, outside their 75 mile radius, and we love bargains, so we paid up and became annual members. Anyone who wants to tour the Botanic Gardens free of charge, all you have to do is talk us into going along.
Thursday, September 3
Gil and Kelly touring Italy
Gil and Kelly, Dottie's step son in law and Dottie's step daughter, are touring Italy this week, and having a ball. Gil's family is Italian, so he is right at home, so to speak, and Kelly seems to be loving every minute of it.
Today they were driving through the spacious streets of one of Italy's modern cities, planned out when the widest thing on the streets was an overweight donkey. But, you don't have to go very far to see the whole town. It is right there, where you are.
They are hitting all of the high spots we saw from guided tour busses, with the advantage that they are on their own, and don't have to be back on the ship before it leaves at 4:00 PM or whatever.
Guest house mattress
Although the structure is done and all the utilities are in and working, there is still a lot to do to make our guest house a home-away-from-home. One of the little things is that no one wants to sleep on bare bed slats. Buying a mattress is a bit like buying a new car, in that there is a very wide selection, many many manufacturers, and an enormous amount of information available about what you should look for in a mattress, most of it generated by mattress manufacturers who want you to really buy their mattress despite all of its shortcomings.
I finally bought one via the internet. I may buy my next car the same way. If we don't like it we can send it back in 180 days and they promise to give our money back, provided we haven't spilled catsup on it.
Dottie in Conflict with Law Mowers
Dottie was incensed after our lawn mower people left this morning. They always come on Thursday and cut our grass,, whether it need it or not. They are a diligent, hard working pair, and we have no complaint about what they do, and are usual glad it is not us out doing in in the hot sun amidst all of the grass seed and pollen. But today, she had a complaint.
WE careful put wire enclosures around all of her new trees, which we expect to provide us food in our old age. They are two apple trees, three cherry trees and a peach tree. The first of the cherry trees, planted last summer, seemed to have come to an earl end, when the deer ate all the bark off if it, all around. It looked done for, and this is what led us to encage the remaining trees and the three new ones we bought this spring. I turns out not to be dead, at least from about a foot above the ground down, and has cherry tree branches growing out of the trunk near ground level, so with lunc, it will survive. I have been calling it Dottie's cherry bush.
Unfortunately, one of the new cherry trees also bit the dust, even though enclosed in a cage. The nursery will replace it next spring when they get their new stock. But for now, it is just the remains of a little tree, inside a perfectly good cage. At least the cage was perfectly good until sometime this morning. Dottie found it, about noon time when the lawn mowers were finished and gone, about 20 feet from the tree, and the tree bard was skinner down one side from top to bottom. It looked like the lawn mowers had run over it, knocking the cage out of they.
I calle the owner of the landscaping company to say perhaps they had someone new on the job that didn't quite know what he was doing, and damaged one of our trees, which was, fortunate for him, already dead. He checked with his men, and says the are the two regular guys, who know what they are doing, and say they found the cage and the tree that way when they came to work. They would probably have told us about it if we spoke Spanish.
Dottie is skeptical but glad it wasn't one of her trees which is trhiving.
MRI in the Morning
I went to Good Shepherd Hospital this morning to have an MRI of my chest done. This is now taking the place of my annual CT Scan, which I have been getting for 19 years, now, to make sure my ascending aorta is not getting any bigger
The CT scans were working just fine, but year before last the routine scan spotted a blip on my pancreas, which didn't alarm the diagnostician, but he suggested an MRI to make sure it was not significant. The MRi confirmed that it was not significnt, but called for another one in six month to make sure it was not changing, and the one six months later confirmed that it was not significant, but called for an third one to make sure. As the MRI's give clearer pictures than the CT scans, My cardiologist said I could just have the lower half and the upper half done on by MRI, and skip the CT scan.So, both were supposed to be done on July 23, but when the MRI technician saw that both the abdomen and chest were to be done "with contrast", she said they screw up, because the two contrast solutions are different, and could not both be done on the same day. So, she just did the abdomen, and once again gave me a clean bill of helth regarding my kindeys and pancreas.
So, today I ha the second half of the test done. It was the easiest scan I have had done, and I was out in about 25 minutes. The technician said they had the A-team on dury this morning. Results next week.
Dottie and I golfed at Biltmore
Golfing was a little strange today. When we got to the club, there were no golf carts. It seems that there were a lot of people playing golf, and the caddies had all gone back to school, so a lot of players who would ordinarily walk and us caddies were using carts and had them all out. We had to wait for someone to finish playing to get a cart. They had things timed pretty well, though. We were scheduled to tee off at 1:30, and they had a cart for us by 1:35.
Neither Dottie nor I played well, but not as badly as we have done on some of the early days this season. We finished just in time to have a pleasant dinner on their patio, looking out ovr the course.
after dinner, we met Fred Nearing and his daughter, the retired Chief of Police for the Champaign/Urbana area, where the University of Illinois is located. They were dining inside, but we stopped and had coffee with them, and a pleasant visit before leaving for home.
Saturday, September 4
Lasagna (requested by Jimmy)
Hot Italian sausages and red pepper
Three different kinds of pies in lieu of birthday cake, again Jimmy's choice.
We showed them the guest house, and they all seemed to think it had turned out OK. Cindy says that, when the stock market goes bust, she will move in permanently if the rental rate is low enough. I told her we were not allowed to rent it out, and she said free sounded even more tempting.
Susan brought along a game for everyone to play, which involved being dealt a hand of cards which had menu ingredients on some, methods of preparation on others, and Connection words on a third variety. The dealer (the host) then selected a type of meal from a list, and everyone had to put together a creative menu for the meal.
Sometimes this was hard to do, and the only out was to ice cream with pureed eel sauce were not uncommon. Dottie and I played as a team, and we got a lot of bad hands.
Jimmy got lots of presents, mostly from Janet. She has a knack for knowing what kids would like to have. Her presents included things like a collection of edible bugs, including things that looked like mealy worms, deep fried crickets, etc. Also, a package of disgusting candies. These included double salted liquorish which Jimmy ate with gusto, until he got the full flavor of it and nearly got sick. Also durian candies and wasabi mints.
We all had to sample these things
Jimmy also got some predominantly cash gifts, as he is saving his money to by a Segway personal transporter (scooter). He made pretty good progress in this direction.