Archive for category Family

Bally’s Fitness is annoying…

I have had a Bally’s Fitness membership for many years, and I really haven’t had occasion to use it in the last couple. I maintained the membership because Lisa gets a cheaper membership through mine. She hasn’t been going much in the last year, so we decided it was time to cancel it. I looked up the contact information on the website and called the 800 number. After traversing the phone tree, I was told I needed to call a different number. Hmm. Ok, called that number. For the next 20 minutes, I traversed the phone tree trying to find a way to cancel my membership. None of the options applied. Finally out of frustration, I chose one of the cancellation options. After listening to another long list of things I didn’t care about, I was told “Press 1 to speak to a representative”. Ok, sounds good. “Please enter your member number”. Ummm. I don’t know. I can’t remember where I put my card… I entered all zeros. After a few iterations of that, “If you would like to speak to a representative and don’t have your membership number, we will charge you 10.00 for the service.” What?!?? I sat on hold for a few minutes. Hung up. Dug through the drawers upstairs and found the card buried there. Called back and went through the phone tree.  Again. Entered the membership number. Immediately got a real person, which was odd considering there were “extended delays” when I had called just a few minutes ago. Told her I wanted to cancel. She asked why. “I don’t go”. Long pause. “We offer a service to maintain your membership on hold for $4 a month”. I just wanted to cancel. I was then informed I had to “mail a request to the central office stating that I wanted to cancel my membership”. What??! An hour of my life was eaten up in this process.  I bet they are going to charge me to cancel too.

A few things were obvious from this experience:  

  1. Bally’s doesn’t make it easy to talk to a real customer service person.
  2. They go out of their way to make it as difficult as possible to cancel a membership.
  3. They really don’t care about their customers.
  4. I won’t recommend them to ANYONE based on this experience.


An odd similiarity…

A coworker and I made an observation that there is a behavior pattern that is similar in both three-year-olds and members of Congress:

1. Choose a meaningless event that has recently occurred
2. Take the opposite position of whomever talked last
3. Throw a tantrum

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South Twin Trip

Our family recently spent nearly a week camping at South Twin Lake, in Oregon.Georgia and I standing in front of South Twin

The lake is a nice place to take a family as no motors are allowed on it. It is stocked fairly frequently with trout, so fishing can be productive too. The first day we went fishing, Lisa’s father and I caught 8 fish between us, and we kept 4 of them.

The evenings (and mornings) were cool, with temperatures in the upper 40s. This is in contrast with the daytime temperatures of mid 80’s to 90’s. The lake is around 4400 feet (according to my GPS), which explains some of the temperature extremes. The campground we stayed at on the lake has lots of large trees, which help with shade, and also kept the wind off the ground.
The trees in the campground can be seen in this picture.
The nights were a lot of fun for everone. Georgia, Morgan and I enjoyed watching the bats fly around. You wouldn’t notice them flying over your head (they fly pretty silently), unless you happened to look up.

The kids enjoyed swimming in the lake, and also enjoyed taking a hike on the trail that surrounds the lake.
Lisa and Morgan taking a break on the hike
There are Osprey that fish in the lake. One evening, Lisa and I saw an Osprey capture a catfish out of the lake. I was surprised that there were catfish in the lake. On our hike around the lake, we saw catfish in the shallows, so I’m sure they are in there.

One of the more impressive views was at night, with the full moon reflecting off of the lake.

Moon reflecting off of South Twin

We also went to Crane Prairie for a day of fishing. It started off very calm.
Crane Prairie before the wind started blowing

The fishing was terrible. Lisa’s father and I spent several hours fishing with no action whatsoever. We came back later with Lisa, and the wind had come up, making things a little more challenging. We had the same result, no action. At least it was nice to look at. The lake is very odd. According to the fish finder, the channels were about 15 feet deep, and the rest of it was 8 to 10 feet.

Crane Prairie once the wind came up

From all the stories that the other people in the campground told, we should have spent the day on Wickiup, as people seemed to be catching larger brown trout there. It is something to try next time.


Post Splenectomy experience…

As a follow up to my previous posting, our dog, Devon is back to his old happy self.
Devon several years ago. You wouldn’t know that he had his spleen removed except that his belly is missing some hair. It seems to be growing back. I doubt a human would have recovered from that procedure as well or as quickly.

He went in to the vet one day, stayed there over night for observation, and came home the next day. He never needed a collar to keep him from chewing on the staples they used to close him up. He had the staples removed the a week or so later.

It is amazing to see his personality reimerge.


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Unhappy Poodle and his spleen…

Our dog, Devon, hasn’t been feeling well lately. He stopped eating, and wouldn’t do much other than just lay in his bed. Lisa took him to the vet, where they did an abdominal x-ray. Something looked amiss. His intestines were compressed by something. The vet suggested an ultrasound to determine the cause of the compression. It turns out, one ultrasound and a biopsy later that he has some benign tumors on his spleen. One of them is 6 cm x 6 cm. Since there didn’t seem to be any cancer associated with the tumors, the vet suggested that a splenectomy would help him with the issue, and that he didn’t really need a spleen to survive. At this point I asked myself: what does the spleen do? The answer, as always, is available at Wikipedia. It turns out, it is possible to survive without a spleen, gallbladder, or appendix. I’m sure some fiendish mind has considered this as another possible form of weight loss.

All of these procedures we have done may sound trivial, but they have been expensive: the xray visit was $450. The Ultrasound visit was $650. The splenectomy visit is set to cost $2000. I just hope that this solves his issues. He is a sweet dog, and we all want to see him back to his old friendly self. Note to self: look in to pet insurance before the pets get sick…

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Finally landed a salmon…

Lisa’s father and I have been going to the Siuslaw near Mapleton for three years now. This year’s trip, I finally landed my first Chinook Salmon. It was about 36 inches long, and somewhere between twenty and thirty pounds.
My first Chinook Salmon
We caught it while trolling downstream of Mapleton. I count myself lucky in a couple of regards. We had beautiful weather while we were there. A slight chill in the air in the morning, but no rain for the two days we were fishing.
View of the Siuslaw river while bobber fishing
It seemed that fishing was terrible from everyone we talked to. It was midweek, and yet there were lots of boats bobber fishing and trolling. We spent the better part of our first day bobber fishing. Dan caught a “blue back” on his second cast of the day, but we had nothing but “bait stealers” after that. They are some sort of chub that inhabits that part of the river and live in abundance. I guess it is because they are well fed. They manage to strip all the bait off a hook in a couple of minutes, which makes it hard for the bigger fish to get a chance to see it.

After not having a lot of luck for hours bobber fishing, we decided to do some trolling. I was using a “rainbow spinner” that had mostly green on the outside of the spinner blade. You can see the beads in it in the photo of the fish above. Dan was using a “Blue Fox” lure. The fish finder wasn’t showing a lot of fish in the river. We were just about to turn back when I managed to hook into the salmon. It jumped around a bit, and took out a lot of line when it saw the boat, but we managed to land it. I was pretty excited.
Me with the fish
The second day, we spent the whole day trolling. We had hours of no action. Finally, Dan had a fish on. Unfortunately he had some mechanical difficulties with his reel, combined with my inability to pilot the boat well. We lost tension on the line, and ended up losing the fish. This was much better than anyone else was doing. This seems to be the story for every trip we make to Florence to fish on the Siuslaw. This year, we decided to go a little later. Usually we fish late September, but this year it was mid October. There didn’t seem to be that many fish in the river. During the September trips, we always saw fish rolling, but this year we didn’t. I wonder how the fish populations in the river are doing.
A view of the Mapleton bridge from the river

The third day, we went crabbing in Florence. The pier there has been used for years, as evidenced by the marks the ropes left in the wood.
Ropes from years of crabbing have left marks in the wood.

We found lots of crab, but nothing large enough to keep. We did get to experience the view, though, which was certainly worth it.
The Siuslaw river, near the mouth.

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Nice Trip To Lincoln City

Lisa and I had a nice trip to Lincoln City for her birthday last weekend. We stayed at the Starfish Manor, which I would highly recommend. We had a marvelous view of the ocean from our room, as you can see in these images.

Looking South down the Oregon Coast
Looking West from the Oregon Coast
Looking North-ish up the Oregon Coast

The room was just what we were looking for: A quiet place for just the two of us. It had all the things we wanted, and a bit more. The room we were in had a king sized bed, a sofa, dvd/vcr player (which we also used to play audio cds), a couple of nice chairs and a marble topped table, a jetted jacuzzi tub with a view of the ocean, a small “kitchen” area with a refrigerator, sink and microwave, a gas fireplace, a small deck with a bbq and wicker chairs. The bathroom had a two shower heads as well.

View of the bed, sofa and jetted tub in our room at the Starfish Manor
A view of the kitchenette
View of the chairs, journal, table, and fireplace

As you can see in the image with the two chairs, there is a book sitting on the table. It has “Journal” written on the front. It contained entries from various people that had stayed in our room over the years. Lisa added her own entry, so if you ever stay in room “14”, be sure to look for it.

The weather was pretty good for July, so we didn’t spend a lot of daytime in the room. We ate dinner the first night at the marvelous Andaman Thai Restaurant that had been recommended by my parents. They were quite busy, but the food was excellent, and not terribly expensive. Initially, we had ordered a “Papaya Seafood Salad”, but they were out of Papaya. It was suggested that they could make a variation of Larb with the seafood instead, and we agreed. Unfortunately, it was too hot to eat. I’m normally not shy about spicy food. I like Habaneros, but the Larb with seafood was downright unpleasant. I made the mistake of wiping my nose with the napkin after wiping my mouth, and my septum was burning for a while. The other food was appropriately spiced and quite delicious.

The next day we went to Depoe Bay to walk through the shops and get Morgan some salt water taffy. On the way there, it was low tide, and Lisa was amazed to see Siletz Bay as low as it was.
Lisa with Siletz Bay at low tide in the background

We ate a passable lunch at Gracie’s Sea Hag, and headed back to Lincoln City.

I had purchased some nice steaks at Zupan’s before we left town. We used the BBQ on the deck and had a nice dinner looking out over the ocean.
Setting the table before our dinner

We spent a little time at the casino in Lincoln City, and more time at the outlet mall there. Lisa enjoyed herself for her birthday. It was great to get out of town, and have some time together.

Sunset as seen from our room at the Starfish Manor in Lincoln City


Music leads to curiosity

It has been said that music is a means of broadening perspective. I believe this to be true. It isn’t always a good thing, though. On the way to school this morning, we were listening to Weird Al‘s “Running With Scissors” album, and came across the “Jerry Springer” track. He has listened to it many times before and never asked questions about things in the song he didn’t understand. Today was an exception. He posed the question “What is a she-male?” a block from school.

Morgan is nine. This isn’t the sort of question I would expect to come out of a nine-year-old’s mouth. I encourage him to ask when he doesn’t understand something, and this is a good example. I’ve yet to come up with an answer he will understand, though. I managed to avoid the question temporarily because he was moments from school, but it still deserves an answer. I want him to keep asking questions. Any ideas?

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Drip drip drip at 3 am

Our cat, Benson, has this less than charming behavior he adopted this summer. Usually at three or four in the morning, he begins howling outside the hallway door. I’m convinced his howling could wake the dead. It usually means he wants to go outside. Lisa says it is a trait of Siamese to howl like that. He is more of a mutt than anything. In any regard, he woke my up yesterday at 3 AM, but I’m glad he did.

He wanted to go out as usual. When I was heading back to bed after letting him out, I heard an odd dripping sound coming from the bathroom. I thought maybe the shower had been left on, so I looked around. I realized the sound was coming from the basement. Our basement is finished, with a second bathroom. After poking around downstairs for about an hour, I finally isolated the problem to a section of one wall — there was a leak somewhere in there, and it had made the floor wet. I turned off the water to the house (something I need to add to our “going out of town” to do list) and started looking for a plumber. I came up with a list of five, and set up the list for Lisa to call when she was up and about.

We settled on Bruner Plumbing, and I’m glad we did. They had the leak fixed in a little over an hour. The charges were reasonable.

The odd thing about the leak was that it was in a copper pipe. Dean, the guy from Bruner who came out, had a theory that the pipe was under some stress that eventually lead to the failure. Some of the plumbing done by a previous owner was less than ideal, and this particular pipe seems to have been forced to pass through some holes in studs that weren’t on the level, and maybe a little tight. Looks like we will have to plan to redo the plumbing downstairs eventually.

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A Face on Drug Purchase in Portland

Last night, a scraggly couple of people were sitting on the corner in front of my house. It seemed a bit odd, to just be sitting there talking, but I dismissed it as a couple of people taking a break from the heat. I went outside to water the yard, in an attempt to keep some of our plants alive. I have been fairly successful thus far. The hosta, which is normally a dry mass of leaves by the beginning of August is still very green and healthy looking. All the fuchsias are happy and have blooms on them. I haven’t been watering very much, just a few minutes in the evening. Usually this is a pretty quiet time in our neighborhood. Yesterday, though, there were some events that distracted me from my task. As I was spreading out the hose, I heard music which sounded like a mariachi band. This isn’t the normal music one hears on our street. A minivan was driving by, with both front windows open, playing music pretty loudly. When the van passed, one of the two people sitting on the corner rushed to his feet and started walking down the middle of the road toward the van. I knew immediately what this was: the people waiting on the corner were waiting to buy drugs from the guy in the van. This had happed occasionally in the past. I took out my cell phone and snapped a quick picture of the girl standing there, and the guy rushing off to see the van. Walking to meet his dealer Leaving common sense behind, I marched down the street to see if I could get the license plate of the van. The girl was taken aback by my behavior and tried to distract me from what I was doing. I saw the plate, the driver saw me, and he headed further down the road. The guy in the street followed. Once I had the plate, I came back and had a discussion with the girl. She had ratty clothes, but was relatively clean. I told her that I lived there, and I didn’t want them buying drugs around my neighborhood, house or family. She had lots of silly stupid things to say: “I don’t do drugs”, “Porland is the Herion capital of the world, that’s why I don’t live here”, “Why do you care?”.

I was irritated, but it really is sad to see young people like that. She didn’t look older than 17. The guy seemed to have abandoned her, so eventually she went off in the opposite direction. Hopefully they won’t do that again there. The last thing anyone in our neighborhood wants is to have dealers using our neighborhood as a meeting point. If there is a next time, I’ll have my high-res camera handy so I can give better information to the police.

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