Sunday, October 31, 2010

MRI Results

This last Thursday I went to my Oncologist office to find out the results of my recent MRI exam.
The MRI was supposed to let us know what has been going on with my upper right leg and hip.
I have been having quite a bit of pain for the last 3-4 months.
The MRI results were negative as far as any type of muscular problem with my right side.
What did show up were the lesions that are on my bones in the area that the MRI was looking at.
These lesions are caused by the Mast Cell Disease that I have and unfortunately the pain is also part of the disease process.
Currently the pain is manageable through medication.
If the disease decides to get more aggressive, the pain can be excruciating/debilitating.
The pain has not stopped me from continuing my exercise routine.
I still am able to walk 5 miles in the morning, bike a minimum of 12 miles in the morning, do another 2 miles in the early afternoon, which is followed by another minimum of 12 miles on my recumbent bike.
Actually today I did 35 miles on the bike.
My personal best has been 52 miles on the bike...that was divided into 3 segments.
All in all, I am doing pretty well except for the nagging pain in my leg and hip. I start a new set of meds for the pain as soon as I pick them up from the pharmacy.
I did reach my goal weight of 175 pounds and now it is just a matter of keeping it there. That might be tougher than losing it....I do like to eat ya know!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Time Traveler With Cell Phone? In 1928 Charlie Chaplin Film

The following story has been making the rounds on the internet lately.
We saw it last night on Inside Edition while watching television.
Some think that the mysterious woman in the film clip is a time traveler talking on a cell phone. Others think that she has one of the earlier versions of a hearing aid..they were rather large devices back in the day.
Here is an article and film clip that I found on AOL. The article is written by Jay Hathaway.

Internet Finds Time Traveler With Cell Phone in 1928 Charlie Chaplin Film

An interesting clip from a 1928 Charlie Chaplin film, The Circus, is making the rounds on YouTube, showing what appears to be a woman talking on a mobile phone. GawkerTV slowed it down so you can get a good look at the woman, and you would be absolutely convinced she was talking on a cell phone if they had been invented back then. So, how can we explain this mysterious footage?


The prevailing internet conspiracy theory is that the woman is a time traveler, making a call through time. I would debunk this by saying it would've been awfully hard to get reception before cell towers were ever invented, but I figure anybody who believes this woman broke the rules of spacetime to visit 1928 isn't going to be convinced by silly old historical facts. Oh, and for anyone who think it's a walkie-talkie, those weren't invented yet, either. They didn't pop up until 1937, and even then, they required a bulky backpack transceiver powered by vacuum tubes.



The best theory we've seen so far is that the woman might be fiddling with a hearing aid. The modern hearing aid was invented in the early 1900s, and, although it still had to be connected to an amplifier about the size of a deck of cards, it could be worn in the ear. Perhaps this woman is concealing the amplifier in her bulky coat.



As for who the woman is, nobody is quite sure. It's convenient that her face and form are hidden by a bulky black jacket and a large hat, making her virtually impossible to identify. If only IMDB had been around 80 years ago! What do you think is going on in this video?



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bert Rises From His Crypt

Today I decided to go digging in some boxes and large plastic bins to locate some of our Halloween decorations.
Veronica had mentioned that she would like a pumpkin this year. I was not too enthused about the idea since it is still very warm here and a carved out pumpkin does not do well in the heat. I figured that it would last maybe a couple of days at the best and then all you have left is orange and brown pumpkin mush.
So tonight Veronica came home from work to a nicely decorated haunted ghoulish home.
And now....let me introduce you to Bert. His actual name is Bertrand but really gets pissed off when you call him this. Go figure....what stand up pumpkinhead wouldn't like the name Bertrand?
I found him in pieces in one of the large plastic containers that we use for decoration storage.
When I located him or should I say his head, I said "hey Bertrand, how's it hanging"
Boy did he get ticked off and he really lit into me.
He very strongly reminded me that I should either address him as Bert or that I shouldn't address him at all.
Geesh....hell hath no fury like a bodiless Bertrand.....I mean Bert!!!
Here is Bert in all of his new found glory.
He also decided that he wanted a sign put on him. The sign reads...."I'm Not Lost....I'm In Paradise"
I really have to teach him that he needs to stay out of our fridge.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Followup On Our Crowne Plaza Debacle

After having a full day to digest our most recent stay at the Crowne Plaza in Williamsburg, VA, I found myself rather irritated with the overall situation and the totally sub standard room that we stayed in, while we were at the aforementioned Crown Plaza.
I partly blame Priceline for their ridiculous rating system that truly misrepresents the quality of the hotels that they are rating. I can't for complete certainty say that this is true in all of the hotels that Priceline has rated but I can honestly say with certainty that this was the case with the Crowne Plaza in Williamsburg, VA.
The rest of the blame falls on the shoulders of the InterContinental Hotels Group PLC
From what I understand, and I might be wrong here....This hotel has paid for and has some sort of licensing agreement with the aforementioned entity and has the right to use the Crowne Plaza name on their property.
If the InterContinental Hotels Group PLC does not already do so, they should check and have someone to personally review and check out the properties and condition of all aspects of the properties that they are allowing to use the Crowne Plaza name.
If I were the owner of a different Crowne Plaza hotel, one that takes pride in their property and pride in carrying the Crowne Plaza Hotel name and logo, I would be really angry at the owner and those who are in charge of this lowly Crowne Plaza Hotel in Williamsburg, VA.
This hotel is representing the Crowne Plaza name, the overall brand and the level of quality that is associated with that name and unfortunately representing it in a very poor fashion.
The paying customer that stays at this hotel, will surely leave the property thinking that this property represents what they can expect from any and all Crowne Plaza properties.
Corporate personnel from the InterContinental Hotels Group PLC should visit this property and see for themselves the quality and level of this property and decide if they really need those licensing fees versus the low quality product that is being offered to the paying public while carrying the Crowne Plaza brand name.

I feel that The lobby might be satisfactory and the property might be sprawling but the room we had and the service that we received, or should I say didn't receive, was really pathetic at best. 
When the manager takes a complaint via room to front desk phone and does not even write the issue down on a list that they keep, and also tells me that someone will be up shortly to take care of the issue....2 1/2 hours later we are still awaiting the arrival of hotel personnel to take care of a television issue...there is a problem.
Couple this type of service with the really poor condition that our room was, lack of basics in our room upon arrival...such as any bars of bath/hand soap, lack of proper cleaning of the room on the following day, and what you end up with is a really sub par hotel and definitely not one that should carry a 3 star rating by neither Priceline nor any one else that is supposedly doing a reliable, trustworthy and competent rating system.
 I have decided to post some more of the photos that I took of our room.
For those of you that are planning or will be going to the Williamsburg/Colonial Williamsburg, VA area, do yourself a favor....spend your hard earned money at any other accommodations that are in the area but  don't waste your time nor hard earned money at the Crowne Plaza Williamsburg at Ft. Magruder, 6945 Pocahontas Trail. Williamsburg, VA 23185
Lastly....We were unable to get changed to a different room due to the fact that this hotel was all booked up dud to the William & Mary Homecoming weekend and football game. Followup review will also be posted on TripAdvisor.

Our sink was not cleaned at all the next day...we were their for 2 nights


Photos showing poor condition that this room and the furniture in the room is in, For more phots, please see blog entry just prior to this one.
















Sunday, October 24, 2010

Our Weekend Get Away To Colonial Williamsburg In Virginia

 Veronica and I returned home this afternoon after spending a 3 day weekend in Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. 
Before we left home and were in the planning stages of this get away, we made our very first attempt at getting a hotel room through Priceline.
Priceline has their own rating system for hotels and such.
The highest rating for a hotel in the Colonial Williamsburg area was 3 1/2 stars. We decided to go with a 3 star hotel. I am used to basing my decisions on AAA ratings and have stayed at many really nice quality 3 star hotels.
According to Priceline's web site, a 3 star hotel is considered as being the following:

3 star hotels offer a higher level of guest service with several amenities. Guestrooms and public spaces place a greater emphasis on style and generally offer such conveniences as hairdryers, iron and board, and a fitness room. On-site dining is offered but may not be available for all three meals.
We decided to try to get a hotel in this rating group and started placing "bids" for a room via Priceline. 
We ended up placing a "winning price" at $79 for each night and we were very pleasantly surprised to learn that we had got a room at the Crowne Plaza in the Colonial Williamsburg area.
Veronica has been at a Crowne Plaza in the Boston, MA area and told me that the hotel rooms and the hotel itself is extremely nice, so I was rather happy and excited that we had got the room at this hotel. She told me that Crowne Plaza hotels were very upscale hotels.
We left for Williamsburg on Friday morning and we were able to check in at the hotel around noon time. 
We quickly dropped off our luggage in the room before heading out to get some other things done. During our brief time in the room, it didn't appear to be close to what I was expecting nor what Veronica had seen at the other Crowne Plaza hotel that she had been too. 
We wanted to get going and didn't take a good look at things until we got back to the room.
While we were out, we got some picture frames at a local Michaels. The frames were for some of our many photos that we had enlarged from our recent Baltic Capitals cruise and also visited some other stores.
We then had dinner and returned to the hotel room for the night.
When we got back to our room, we started to notice how bad of shape the room was.
We also had problems with the tv set that was in the room. We could only watch about 5-6 channels out of all of the channels that were offered.
The other channels came in but were basically unwatchable.
I placed a call to the front desk and spoke to the hotel manager about the tv issue.
I was told that he would send someone right up.
Veronica and I stayed in the room for 2 1/2 hours waiting for someone to stop by the room to fix the tv.
There was supposed to be a person that was going to be telling ghost stories outside of the hotel at 8:30 that night.
We decided to go outside and listen to the storyteller. On our way out, we stopped by the front desk and explained that we had been waiting for someone to fix our tv after I had called down about the problem 2 1/2 hours ago. We also told the front desk person that we had no tissues nor was there any bars of soap in the room....neither bath nor hand soap.
The front desk personnel looked at a list and said that our room and name was not on it for any type of room issues that needed to be fixed. She immediately got someone to take care of the issues and said that it was unusual that the manager would forget to write our name and problem down on the list nor have the problem taken care of.
After talking to the front desk personnel, we went outside and listen to the ghost stories and had Smores that were served at the tail end of the stories.
We then went upstairs to our room for the rest of the night.
After looking around the room a little closer, I ended up being really disappointed and rather upset that we were staying in a hotel that was sub par especially for a hotel that was carrying the Crowne Plaza name.
The furniture was old, with chips and worn marks all over the wood, holes in the tv armoire, chips and worn marks on most of the other furniture in the room, torn wallpaper, marks all over the walls, stained desk chair with tears and worn out areas in the cushion and arms of the chair, worn out and very stained carpet. Usually when you leave the room in the morning and then return from a day of being out, your room has been cleaned and pretty close to made up as it was when you originally walked into the room the first time. Well.....after leaving the next morning and returning in the late afternoon,  we returned to our room to find that the bed had bed roughly put together and made, the sink was still dirty from when we brushed our teeth in the morning before we left...basically...whoever made up the room and cleaned it, stayed in it for as little time as they could and  barely spent any time cleaning it at all. 
Rather than continuing on with how poor shape this room was in, I figure that the photos would speak for themselves. 
I would like to add that none of these photos have been "doctored" or "Photoshopped"...the room is and was as you see it in the photos. Here is a link to the Crowne Plaza hotel that Veronica had stayed at when she was in Natick, MA. Look at the picture of the Double Room in that hotel compared to the Double Room photos below of our room...you will definitely see a huge difference.....  Double Room in the Crown Plaza in Natick, MA

 This is how we found our room after being gone for the day and it had been cleaned up and the bed made.


 Please feel free to click on each photo to enlarge it so that you can really see the wear and tear on the furniture and how poor of shape it was in



 And this is what you get for a 3 star Priceline hotel that is supposed to be upscale







 This was in the ceiling above the bed. I am not positive but it kind of looked like a bullet hole with something still lodged in the hole
The next morning, we got up early and got some breakfast before heading over to see Colonial Williamsburg.
This was in front of the Visitors Center where you get tickets to go to the various historic sites in the area. From the center, we got on a shuttle bus and were driven to the Colonial Williamsburg area. 
 Upon arriving we found an open air Farmers Market going on. It was really nice with many venders selling their wares. Got some good cookies and bread there.  It was also Homecoming weekend for the William & Mary College students, who also had a homecoming football game in the afternoon. There were a lot of parents and college students which added to the festive atmosphere

 Below is the "Capital" building from the colonial days



 Everyone that worked in the area wore era period clothing and there were always in "character" and acting/talking as they did back in the colonial day.  
 This nice lady welcomed us into the Coffee House where we had a tour and had some hot chocolate.
 Veronica with the welcoming lady

 This was in the game room


 This guy also gave us the tour of the coffee house











 This is the room that we had hot chocolate in..it was very strong and unsweetened...just the way they made it back in the colonial days. They did offer us sugar to sweeten it up.
I asked the nice lady if I could take a photo of their kitchen area that was attached to this room and was open but she said "no" because there were modern items in it...there was a dishwasher hidden behind an old looking cabinet door. They make every attempt to keep everything in the era period of the colonial days 


 This gentleman talked about the politics and worries of the day during that time period

 A general street view in the Colonial Williamsburg area
 A colonial era tavern and restaurant


 The local Silversmith and his female helper

 Local doctors office and apothocary





 Not exactly who this was but he was sure a rather dapper dresser
 Workers in a fabric/tailor shop


 More photos from inside of the doctors office and apothocary shop





 Here is a leather worker...he made shoes and other leather items along with repairing them


 Below is the local blacksmith



 Below are photos of the kitchen area in a tavern




 A typical meal was a whole fish, some mutten, potatoes and bread





 This was in the laundry room of the tavern

 They had several of these "announcement/bulletin boards" in the area.
 You can click on the announcements to enlarge them



 More folks in period garb and in character


 They had carriage rides throughout the area




 Various scenic photos of the area












 We stayed long enough to watch the Fife And Drum group march up the street



Even though our room was not even close to what was expected or should have been, Veronica and I still had a really nice and special weekend together.
 

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