28 February 2001 - 17 February 2002
There has been very little excitement in my life over the last year since I have been back. It has been a steady routine of going to work, coming home, sleeping and going to work. I have been working steadily as a "temporary worker" with Accountemps. Since I started on Feb 5, 2001 I have been off assignment only 6 days. I have been on only three assignments during that time which helps hold down the time off. I was at the Ramada Speakeasy Hotel/Casino for two weeks (the Casino has subsequently closed - not my fault!). Then worked at Gametech an electronic bingo game equipment and software provider for 7 months in their Accounts Receivable area doing account reconstructions (their President left to seek "other interests" a month after I did - not my fault!). Just finished up the third assignment at Intuit in their payroll processing area (they are better known as the provider of Quick Books). Received a new assignment on my last day with Intuit and will be starting with St. Mary's Hospital doing something new for an undetermined time. I like that! It does give some variety to working for the weekly paycheck and I'm establishing a good reputation with Accountemps. Intuit wanted to put me on their permanent "temp" list and would call me in for a month at the end of each quarter but I can't live on that at the moment. Maybe when I start to draw Social Security that will still be an option and that would work out perfect. The risk of temp work is that I will have long periods of unemployment between assignments but so far I have been lucky and as I develop a reputation of doing good work that risk seems to be lessened.
As you may remember I have been fighting Psoriasis, or tolerating may be the more apt term, since it was diagnosed in Bulgaria. It tends to go from better to worse to not so bad to worse etc. with the overall progression seeming to be toward worse. Nothing much that I can do about it without going to a drug therapy that has very bad side affects. The good news is that the orthotic problems of Japan are behind me; or maybe I should say underfoot so as not to mix metaphors. I got new orthotics through the Veterans Administration Hospital and within a month my feet were feeling much better. The other thing that I had noticed, even while in Japan, was that when I wore my hiking boots my feet felt better than when I wore my "dress" shoes. So, when I replaced my worn out "dress/work" shoes I bought a pair of Justin Roper Lace-up boots. They have been wonderful and my feet feel even better now after a few months with them than they ever did with the low cut shoe. The higher top gives additional ankle support and helps me walk better is what I think is going on but not sure - whatever works. My last physical check up was also great, with blood pressure and cholesterol very good under medication. I also managed to lose about 16 pounds during this last year, which must also help the blood pressure numbers. Maybe with some bike riding this year I can see the weight move down some more, another 16 pounds off would not hurt!
The last medical issue is periodontal surgery. I had the right side of my mouth completed last year and go in on 7 March for the left side. This is also an ongoing problem with me; I had treatment before going into the Peace Corps and they provided 4 cleanings a year while I was in Bulgaria versus the normal one. My year in Japan and the quality of periodontal care that I got there with my 3 cleanings didn't help much and it was recommended that I have the surgery or start loosing teeth. Not looking forward to the 2nd side surgery but maybe it along with regular treatment here in the US will control the problem. I have come to the realization that my health issues, although not serious and not threatening in any way, probably preclude any more year(s) long ex-pat living.
My "free" time has been taken up with the normal day-to-day efforts of living a normal life in the US. The only difference being that if you don't have a car it takes you 3 times as long to get it all done! In addition to that I have continued my reading efforts. I subscribe to 2 monthly magazines and two quarterlies (one I'm letting expire). In addition to those I have read 88 books since I got back. Nothing of great note in those 88 except perhaps my continued effort to read everything that Pulitzer Prize Novelists have written. This year I completed Saul Bellow and Oliver La Farge, winners in 1976 and 1930 respectively. I also read the Merlin trilogy plus one written by Mary Stewart; these are 4 books about Merlin of King Arthur's' time. The trilogy is written from Merlin's' point of view as if he were the writer. Enjoyed them enough that I am now working on all of Mary Stewarts' other books. I also spend a lot of time online surfing the Net for information on a variety of subjects. I am also finding that what few things that I want to buy are easier to get on the net. I spent almost all day shopping here in town to buy a vacuum cleaner and the Justin Boots. I ended up having to buy the vacuum on the net because they didn't have it in the store and it was the net or catalog. The boots were better to buy at the store because of fit issues but now that I know how they fit and how other brands don't I'll buy my next pair on the net. It also offers a great opportunity to shop the overseas markets for some good stuff that isn't available here in the US. I have found some good sites for camping/cycling gear in NZ that offer unavailable stuff such as very nice wool jerseys or reasonably priced silk sleeping bag liners.
The Viet Nam bike tour was a waste for me, from a bike tour point of view, and I came back to the US thinking that I may never tour again. I only rode a few times this past summer and couldn't generate any enthusiasm for doing more. It is only the last few months, maybe because of the dank winter, that I have any interest in riding again. I have ordered a set of back panniers by Berthout (a French manufacturer) that I plan on using on the front for some weekend rides. If all goes well I may buy the fronts next year and then maybe give self contained touring a try. Maybe another Cross Country self contained ride, I don't know at this point?
The rest of my time has been devoted to the perusal of the net for a new car. I have selected 4 as possible and rejected 2 in the last 6 months and am about to reject the 3rd. This leaves me with my choice but it is a choice based on elimination rather than really wanting the one that remains. The perusal process has included a LOT of time reading the threads of past Owner/Enthusiasts Forums and car magazine reviews. I know more now about cars that I won't buy than I ever did about cars that I have owned. Go "figger" that one out! Anyway the choices have been a Merlin Coupe by Corbin Motors, an Insight by Honda, a MINI Cooper by BMW MINI and a Golf GL TDI by Volkswagen. I have so far eliminated the Merlin and the Insight with the MINI almost off my list leaving the Golf. I may add and eliminate some others before my final purchase but I want a car in November of this year. I'll be able to use 401k(pension money) to pay for it at that time so it will not seriously impact my current budget and it will give me some mobility and freedom that I seriously want at this point. Being car-less in the US is possible but is not pleasant! I will have more to say about the car purchase process during the course of this year.
That is it from me! Those of you that I have had sporadic contact with during the year forgive me for repeating myself at times. Everyone, I hope to hear from you soon, your life can't be anymore uneventful than this.