Week at the beach

Great week at the beach. We stayed at the same place on Flagler we did last November and enjoyed it just as much the second time. The fishing wasn’t all that great – no wait, the fishing was great – the catchin wasn’t so good. The wind was blowing about 15 knots out of the east or Southeast all week which made for a rough, dirty surf with a strong current. Lots of seaweed. It calmed down nicely on Friday, our last day. I caught a half dozen small bonnet sharks but that was it. Found a couple of new restaurants and managed to spread happy hour around the area. For me it peaked on Friday night. We went to Rossi’s, had a couple of wines, and then I was back sitting on the beach about 7:30. The surf was perfect, the sun mostly down, and the moon mostly up. I poured myself a major red in one of those wine glasses that looks like a brandy snifter, tossed out my rod with a new strip bait that I was fairly certain wouldn’t result in any nasty old fish and then just sat back on the sand and enjoyed the next half hour. That made the whole trip worthwhile. On Thursday Nancy did the Heavenly Day Spa. I had got her a gift certificate for a day at the spa for her Christmas present and made the appointment for when we’d be on vacation there. That worked out perfectly and she was glowing.

Unfortunately (maybe) we were not able to get reservations for next November since somebody booked the place for a whole month. We did nail down the same week for next April and will cast about for another place in November. Who knows maybe we’ll find some place even nicer. We’re thinking maybe farther north – possibly Crescent Beach.

The treatment week was not so smooth. On Monday, the machine crashed just before my turn. We waited around until about 11AM. I could see the same look on the technicians trying to repair it I saw as an engineer when things were heading downhill. They told us they’d call if and when they got it running. No call Monday then Tuesday about 8AM they called to say it was still down and they were flying in a part from Chicago that was due in within an hour and maybe they’d have it up and running by noon. Yeah right. I called about 2PM and they said it was getting close and would I like to come in 9:30PM. Not happening. By Wednesday everything was back to normal so I ended up with 3 treatments this week instead of 5. That means I’ll finish up on the Tuesday after my niece’s graduation in SC rather than on the Friday just before the graduation. Still feeling great with really minimal side affects. If you’re interested the part that cratered was the servo motor that controls the rotation and I’m sure that probably took out the drivers as well. They did fly in the part from Chicago – a $97,000 spare part with $10,000 in air freight. But I figured the 2 days downtime cost them $250K in revenue plus all the expenses associated with a full time staff.

The garden survived me being gone a week. We’ll be picking brocolli by next week for sure; picked jalapeno peppers this morning; crooked neck squash and banana peppers in the next few days. Beans have blossoms and so does the eggplant.

What a great stock market. I decided to help the economy by spending some of it and was torn between taking Nancy on that cruise she’s wanted or getting a new lawn mower. Man does that thing start nice.

week 5

Completed week 5. Nothing new to report except add the word “frequent” to the sudden urges. Really feel fine; not tired or any other problem I was alerted to as possible side affects. One of our carpool guys completed the course and we picked up a newbie so we’re at 3 patients.

Garden doing well with plenty of squash, cuc’s and tomatoes forming. Also the brocolli started putting out heads. It’s always a surprise how quickly things change in a garden. Yesterday there were no signs of any heads forming on the brocolli and today there were small heads on 4 of the 6 plants. And I’d say the heads were 2” across so I didn’t need a magnifying glass to see them.

We head for Flagler Beach tomorrow for a week of sun and fun at the same duplex we visited last November. It’s more or less the same distance from the treatment center so I’ll keep on the same schedule and drive myself or with Nancy as a co-pilot. She can never, ever, ever be the navigator. nuff said on that. So if anybody needs to contact us, use the cell. There are so many great restaurants in that area that we will make no pretense of eating in or taking food with us. Some wine, other assorted libations and beach nibbles – but that will be it. The weather is looking good, mid to upper 80’s – perfect beach weather. Now if only the fishies will do their part.

halfway point

Today was the 19th treatment out of 39 so I’m calling that the halfway point. Nancy and I celebrated with a nice dinner at Karlings- our special occasion place. Still feeling great but did add a new side affect this week. I now understand the term “sudden urge”. My appetite is down a bit but I can always stand to lose a few pounds so that’s not a negative. One of my carpool buddies completed his treatments today and they give him a diploma. Our Deland carpool of 4 gets to the treatment center about 9:15 and somehow I’m the first to hit the machine so usually when I walk in the door they send me right on back to the equipment. I sometimes have to wait for someone on the machine but at the longest, I’m back out front in 10 minutes. By that time the carpool from Orange City is there – another 5 guys. There’s a couple of pots of coffee going, sometimes doughnuts, always cookies so it turns into a real social event. Everything from politics, to fishing, and current events gets kicked around in a joking fashion so believe it or not, it’s an enjoyable morning. We’re all the same age, more or less, so we all know the world is going to hell in a handbasket and our kids have all sorts of problems. We don’t necessarily agree why, but we do agree it was much easier and better 50 years ago.

The garden is chugging along. I can tell we’re going to have a stellar crop of crook neck squash and cucumbers. I think there will be a mini harvest before the month ends. The tomatos are looking strong with plenty of blossoms and today, I spotted the first pea sized green tomato so I’m moving them into the sure thing column. Not quite as confident about the green peppers and have some serious concerns about the corn and the okra. I’ve never grown okra so not exactly sure what I should be seeing at this point but somehow I was expecting more. I can sleep well if the okra crop crashed but my mouth was watering over fresh picked sweet corn. We got about an inch of rain this week – the first since I planted the garden – so that should give it a boost. George and I bought forty 40 pound bags of cow manure that we’ll spread next time we till – probably in June or July. Hopefully that will add some body to this sand pile we’re farming. I see this as a multi-year project until we get really fertile, productive soil.

A tip. Tina was telling us on Easter that she learned a great heartburn cure. It’s new for her to get heartburn and one of her friends advised her that eating a piece of apple took it right away. I filed it away as an urban myth or something since I never heard of it and couldn’t imagine that cure would have gone unnoticed. A couple of nights ago Nancy had an attack and just that day had bought some apples. Sure enough, it worked. Last night my sister was here and was looking for Tums to kill an acid attack. Nancy cut her a piece of apple and as if by magic, the heartburn went away. So you can store this one away for the future.

Finally, I was going to post a picture of the garden but that will have to wait until next week. Instead Tom forwarded me this great picture of Simon with a Lookdown fish he caught on a camping trip to Fort Pierce this weekend. I can’t say if this is a world record but for sure it’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen. I used to fish for Lookdowns quite a bit when I was spending so much time in Palm Beach. Many nights we’d go to a local marina where they had bright lights hanging low to the water which would attract Lookdowns. We fished for them with light tackle and very tiny jigs. I think I can safely say I caught hundreds of them but they were maybe 10th the size of this beauty. As you can see they are bright silver and have a leathery skin rather than scales. They seem to be all head and are extremely thin. I bet this one wasn’t 2” thick. Supposedly they are very tasty but I always felt it would be really tough to clean them.

week 3 results etc

Finished the 3rd week of treatments and nothing exciting to report. I am experiencing a side affect. You are familiar with the expression “that burns my butt”. Well I understand exactly what that means, literally. I got the results from bloodwork last week and all is going well. According to the doc, I could have more side affects at this point in the treatment cycle and the fact that I don’t usually means I won’t experience anything to a large extent. Let’s hope he’s right.

Some interesting facts: The Southeast Regional Prostate Cancer Treatment Center has been open less than a year. The business plan projections were that they would have 50 patients in treatment by the end of the first year. They have 65. The Center is open from 6AM to 6PM and you can figure roughly 5-6 patients through the equipment per hour. That means they are nearly at capacity for a 12 hour day operation. Business Week did an enlightening article in a January issue describing the equipment and the business considerations. They stated that the average treatment cost for the 8 week series is $40,000. I have no idea what they’re is charging but assuming it’s near the average, that means about $2.5M in gross revenue per 8 week cycle or maybe $15M + annually. I’m sure they have $15M in the building and equipment, perhaps less, and they have a sizeable staff of professionals but I’m guessing this is a very nice investment for the doctors who own it. I can see where they could run it another 4 hours a day and maybe half a day on Saturday – still leaving time for routine equipment maintenance. So if you’re thinking about starting a new business, you might think about this one!

I have a pet bass. For the past few months I’ve been doing a fair amount of fishing off the dock. I catch a small bream, put it on a big hook, pitch it out and sit back to enjoy the scenery – maybe read the paper, work a Soduko puzzle, listen to XM50. Just relax. If the bait is not eaten in a half hour or so, it’s fairly worn out from swimming around dragging the float behind it. I bring it in, remove it from the hook, and pitch it back. Turns out that a bass had taken up residence under the dock and about a third of the time, within a few seconds of me tossing back the bream there’s a big splash or swirl where he nails the new meal. Today he hit the bream just before it actually hit the water. That’s incredible to me – that he actually saw the bream coming down and was fast enough to move the few feet in under a second. I figured that the drop height was about 6′ which meant that the drop time was on the order of 250 milliseconds. So the fish spotted it and moved to the spot in less than that. Amazing. I did an experiment last week and tossed the bream what I estimated was 10′ from the dock. In way under a second, I guessed it at 1/4 of a second, (using the “one Mississippi” method of estimating time) the bass went the 10′ and nabbed the bream. He had it by the time I thought “one”. That would make it perhaps 40′ per second or close to 25mph. That’s way faster than I would have thought they could move but the reaction time from when the fish hits the water and when the bass starts the charge must be a few milliseconds. I know I could catch him easily but have resisted doing so. I think it’s maybe 4-5 pounds and I’m just going to keep feeding him bream and wait till he gets to world record size.

The garden is fully planted out now. I had set aside some bean and corn seeds to plant 3 weeks after the initial planting. That way the crop is extended 3 weeks. Also planted some tomato seeds to extend the tomato season also. Several (original) tomato plants have blossoms so that should mean tomato sandwiches before June. I also spotted a micro crooked neck squash and a micro cucumber forming up. Did have a scare Sunday morning. We had a record cold temperature, down to the low 40’s, and I was afraid some of the more sensitive stuff would get clobbered. Sure glad we’re having some Global warming or it really would have been cold! I thought about backing my car up to the garden and emitting some greenhouse gases over top the vege’s but with gas at $3.70, it would be cheaper to buy tomatoes than go for the greenhouse affect. I opted for a sheet over top of the stuff I was worried about and it seems to have worked. Finally we’re getting a little rain which should make a big difference in growth this week. So far no critter attacks although I’ve seen a rabbit in the general vicinity 3 days this week. He’s quite tame and cute but will be converted to rabbit stew if I catch him eating my garden.

Go Gators

Before we moved to Florida the Gators had not won a National Championship in Football or Basketball in at least 50 years, if ever. We moved here and they have notched 3. You do the math. Rumor has it that Kentucky is trying to recruit Bobby Donavan. Wonder if they’ll be contacting us at the same time?

I’m particularly gleeful since Ohio State is one of the few teams in the nation I can truly say I’ve hated. Goes way, way back to a time when I worked at the Cape for some guy who was a Big 10, Ohio State fan and he prattled on about the Big 10 and how much better it was than the SEC. He was the boss and I was a summer hire so I kept my mouth as shut as I could. He was wrong then and assuming he’s still alive, is probably still wrong. I guess there’s a chance he got religion but I doubt it.

First quarter report

Finished my first 2 weeks of treatments so I am officially 25% complete. A few, very minor side affects but all in all, it’s business as usual. At this point I get a blood test to check hemogloblin. The doctor said they used to do this weekly but found that after two weeks you know with a high level of certainty whether there will be blood problems and most likely no more blood checks after this.

The garden is trucking along too. We got blossoms and micro peppers on the jalapeno plants; loads of blossoms on the cucumbers, and a blossom on the crooked neck squash. At this point everything seems on track but I sure wish we could get some rain to supplement the ground water. I’ve started paper mulching around the plants to keep the weeds down and covered over the paper with oak leaves. We have literally jillions of oak leaves that rain down daily so coming up with the raw material is easy. I used to do this in Utah using grass clippings over paper and it successfully kept the weeds down and held in moisture. We’ll see if the technique moves East.

The lake is quite low, about the lowest in 5 years. It would sure have been easier building the dock now than when we did it a couple years back. At that time the depth of the water was about 7′ at the end of the dock so it was really sporty putting up 25′ pilings. Today it’s 4′ at the same spot. So no diving off the end this Easter. It’s warm enough though. As of today, water temp is 76 and I suspect it will be closer to 80 by Easter. We wimpy native senior citizens consider 85 the minimum acceptable but the kids deal with anything over 70. It’s also clearer than usual, maybe 2-3′ range. That doesn’t sound like much but this is a dark water lake so the clarity is noticeable. I can literally sit on the end of the dock and watch the fishing swimming a few feet down and see an occasional bass attack on the bluegills.

Got a nice surprise this morning when Joey called and volunteered to come up today and power wash the house. In Fla that’s something you do once or twice a year to remove the mold that attaches itself to everything. Sounds yucky but only because it is. In addition to the mold it gets rid of wasp nests and mud dobber houses. Nancy was making noises about getting it done professionally this year instead of bothering Joey but when he came out of nowhere, well we just couldn’t hurt his feelings.

Go Gators. One more game. I expected them to trash UCLA but worry about the game tonight with Ohio State. There’s much emotion with this game, especially on the OSU side. The Gators blew them away in a basketball matchup in December – when Ohio State was ranked either 1 or 2 in the nation – and then who can forget the Football championship in which Florida totally dominated Ohio State, again ranked number 1 in the nation prior to that game. I’m thinking that OSU has really had their pride smashed by the Gators in the past 4 months and they need a win much more than Florida. There’s emotion on the other side too but more personal than program oriented. The same starting lineup that won the national championship last year is starting again this year. The kids all gave up pro shots and big bucks to win back-to-back national championships. You know they will be wanting to justify that sacrifice.