Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's That Time Of Year Again

This last Friday I received the last of the documents that I have been waiting for. The anticipation and the stress level had been rising for weeks prior to receiving this last tidbit of documentation.
It was now time to don the full length body armor and face my enemy head on.
"Rick...what the heck are you talking about?"...I can hear you asking me now.This dreaded foe is none other than the volumes of documents and numbers associated with Tax Time.
So with a stiff drink and a couple of Prozac, I jumped straight into the madness.
After purchasing my Turbo Tax software online, I proceeded to spend the next 6 hours preparing our Federal tax forms and 2 state tax forms...one for Virginia and one for North Carolina.
By the time I was finished, the dust of battle had settled and the effects of both drink and pills had worn off, there I stood on the field of battle, basking in the glorious feeling of victory.
We owed no money and are actually getting refunds all the way around.
By the time that it was all over with, I slowly dragged my tired and dazed body off the field of battle and promptly laid myself in bed.
I slept rather soundly knowing that soon the coffers would be full again or at least enough to last until the same battle plays out again next year.

Friday, January 28, 2011

And Yet Another Blog Is Born

Well...I have been at it again. Ken from up in the Vermilion Bay Ontario, Canada area was wanting a blog, so I helped him out a little bit and we put one together. He offers guided fishing services up in his area, as does John, who I recently introduced his blog to you a couple of days ago.
Drum roll please...It is my pleasure to introduce the latest new blog on the block.... Kens Ultimate Fishing Service  If you have just a moment, please stop by and visit Kens new blog. He has some great photos on it too.
Congrats on your new blog Ken. I hope that it works out well for you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Update On My Gear

I finally got another batch of my gear back from that so called "friend". I suspect that will be all that gets returned to me.
I am thankful that I got back what I did but there are still items that are missing and that I will never see again. 
I guess that I will never understand why someone who has access to some of the best fishing gear around, and gets some of it free by his own words, or with a discount, would feel the need to use my gear. Especially knowing that I have to buy my own just like most other fishermen...no freebies and no real discounts other than normal sale prices.
The best reason that has been given me is..."because you told me I could use it". Yes that would be true but I never would have thought that he would take it, incorporate it into his own gear, use it to the point that it was all banged up and was not even close to the shape it originally was in, then make me jump through hoops to get a portion of it back.
I am very glad that I found out what this "friend" was truly like before I made any other really stupid decisions that deal with him. The best thing for me to do right now is to put this jerk in my rear view mirror and keep going forward.
Enough said about that subject.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

So Whats Been Going On?

A very valid question if you are asking me. Haven't been posting too much lately but let's see if I can't get everyone caught up on the festivities:
I am still trying to get the rest of my gear back from the guide that works at the place that we used to visit on our fishing trips to Canada.
He hasn't been answering emails nor telephone calls. Gee... I wonder why. Although he has told me otherwise in a fairly long ago email, that he would spend the next week getting the rest of my gear together, so that he could give it back to me, I have not heard a word from him since. Like I said, that was a long ago email and weeks have passed by since he wrote me that. I have absolutely no faith that this person will do the right thing and I am mentally preparing to kiss the rest of my gear goodbye.
Been trying to get 2 years worth of our deposit from the owner of the fishing camp that we used to frequent. Looks like we will lose a total of $600 on that deal.
Because of the aforementioned situation with my gear, we have absolutely no plans on returning to this place ever again. It will be worth the $600 not to have to deal with these people ever again or the drama that we witnessed at that place.
We have already found a new fishing camp to stay at this year.
In September we will be going to a place called Stanley's Resort We had plenty of places to pick from on both Eagle Lake and other local lakes. I kind of like the looks of Stanleys Resort and I definitely liked all of the things that they included in their price, that cost us extra money at the other place we used to stay at.
Seriously...all of the bait and all gas included in the price.
We decided not to go with a 1 bedroom cabin. We wanted a little space, plus we wanted a decent lake view and with the cabin we chose we got both.
Here is the cabin that we have reserved for September..it is called The Chalet. This is like a palace compared to the other really rustic cabin that we have stayed in over the past several years.
We didn't mind the rustic cabin feel but we sure will enjoy having more room, having a tv with several channels, a dvd player and most importantly....a full kitchen with an actual stove and oven, not to mention a full bath to soak in after a long day of tossing lures and musky fishing.
Now all of this stuff is very nice but I think the best thing of all will be for to be able to fish with whomever we choose to fish with.
It will be great getting on the water with our friends Ken and John. This might actually be the year that I get my trophy fish.
A change of scenery and environment can do wonders for a persons luck.
And speaking of luck, Veronica and I will be heading to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. Before we fly to Vegas, we will be spending a couple of nights at a hotel that we had previously had problems with.
You might remember reading earlier blog entries about the issues we had with our room at the Crowne Plaza Ft. Magruder in Williamsburg, VA and Crowne Plaza ft. Magruder.
After Veronica spoke to management personnel at the hotel, we received a complimentary 2 night stay at this same hotel. We are supposed to be getting a much nicer room compared to the one we had during our last stay there. I plan on taking photos to share with everyone and we will all be able to compare the quality of the 2 rooms...the one we had during our last and the one we get during this upcoming visit.
While in the Williamsburg area, we will probably do a little shopping at the outlet malls.
After our 2 night stay in the Williamsburg area, we will be flying out of Newport News and head to Las Vegas.
We will be in Vegas for 5 nights and staying at the Monte Carlo. The Monte Carlo is part of the MGM family of hotels.
We got a real good deal on our deluxe room...around $30 a night.
On Thursday night, our last night in Vegas, we have tickets to see Cirque du Soleil "O" at the Bellagio. A very nice way to end our week long vacation.
Of course I will be taking lots of photos as I usually do and I will be sharing them with everyone upon our return.
I have been doing my workouts on a daily basis and just trying to keep my weight down as much as I can during these cold weather months. I really looked forward to warmer weather. That warm weather makes it so much easier for me to keep my weight down and makes those workouts much more enjoyable compared to doing them in 30 degree weather.
That pretty much gets everyone caught up on the excitement around here.
Hopefully the next couple of weeks will go by quickly. I am looking forward to a little change of scenery and if my memory does not fail me, I do believe that the temps in Vegas are somewhat warmer than they are here....Yyyeeeesssss!!!!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A New Blog Is Born

My friend John from up in the Vermilion Bay, Ontario Canada area had made mention of wanting to put together a business styled web site. I suggested to him that a blog might suit his needs and it sure would be a lot cheaper than having someone else build a web site for him.
I decided to help John out in making his new blog. After all, that is what friends do for each other and he has helped me out quite a bit, so I figured it was now my turn.
John's blog isn't finished yet but we are heading in the right direction.
For those of you that have a moment to spare, please feel free to visit John's new blog.
It is my honor to present you to Johns Outdoor Adventures

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Hard Learned Lesson

For those of you that have been following my blog for a while, you are aware that I have enjoyed going up to Eagle Lake in Canada to go fishing.
Over the years, I have spent an awful lot of money on fishing gear and I spent additional money to get the gear up to Canada so that it would be there waiting for me, every year that I returned up there.
Unfortunately I made a very poor choice in who I trusted to take care of my gear.
I always took care of my gear and had it extremely organized. Not only was it organized but most of it had not even been used yet. I will not be mentioning anyones name during this post for many reasons. Everyone who is involved, knows who they are and that is what is important here.

Out of all things in my life, my fishing gear was the only thing that I spent a lot of money on and I was proud of the collection and the versatility of the gear that I had.
The first couple of years, my gear was waiting for me to use in the exact condition that I had left it in, when I returned to Eagle Lake for our 2 week vacations up there.
In 2009 when I got my gear from the individual that I had entrusted it to, I noticed a small change in what I got back from him.
It wasn't a big change, but enough of a change for me to make a mental note of it.
When I got my gear from my "friend", it was all there except for a tray of tinsel bucktail lures.
In place of my original tray full of these mostly new bucktails, was a beat up tray that was obviously not mine. In this tray was some beat up and battered bucktail lures that I didn't recognize and weren't mine.
I didn't say anything to my "friend" about this tray of lures and figured that he must have accidentally put this tray in with my gear because he had used a few of my lures.
I had given this "friend" permission to use my gear but I felt very safe in my thinking that he would never use it.
I was comfortable with giving him permission because he is a guide and has access to whatever gear he needs or wants at discounted prices. He also gets some gear for free due to his profession or at least that is what he claims.
With all of the gear he had and all of the gear he could get, I was not concerned with giving him the permission that I did. I figured that even if he needed to use a couple of lures, that he would have enough respect for me, to take really good care of my gear.
I was so comfortable that I even put my permission in writing. That was a huge mistake and trusting him was a huge error in judgement on my part.
Last year Veronica and I did not go up to Eagle Lake to fish. Instead, we decided to go on a Baltic Capitals cruise.
Maybe it was because we did not go up there this last year and it would be almost 2 years since I last saw my gear...maybe it was because my "friend" wasn't really a true friend, but someone waiting to take advantage of a situation and my goodwill.
Either way and no matter what his line of thinking was, I had decided that it was time for a change in where my gear should be stored.
So I got the ball rolling as far as getting my gear moved to a more comfortable location and with someone who I trust. I made email contact with this "friend" and advised him to give all of my gear to this other person.
This was approximately 4 weeks ago and I have had nothing but frustration and aggravation ever since.
It seems that this "friend" rifled through all of my gear, took what he wanted and incorporated it in with his gear.
This other person, who has been picking up my gear and sending me photos of what he has been getting from this other "friend", so that I would know what is being returned to me.
So far I have only got back about 60% -70% of what I had originally had and some of the stuff that I got back is not even mine. Some of the stuff that is mine, was used and some was abused and in really poor shape.
What I have now looks nothing like what I had..not in appearance, quality nor in quantity.
Unfortunately I am having to battle with this "friend" to get the rest of what I owned and had.
This "friend" has gone so far as to tell me what I had and owned and what I didn't have...like he knows better than me.....I purchased this gear, not him...I think I know what I purchased .
Of course this "friend" claims that I only had about 50% of what I know I truly had.
This "friend" comes across like I have to prove to him that I had, what I say I had. I went so far as contacting a lure company that I had made a large order from years ago, along with a couple of smaller orders, to provide me with information as to what I purchased and what I paid. Of course I was correct in both the quantity, style of lures and total price paid. As it turns out, I purchased twice as many lures as this "friend" claimed I had and the were a longer length that what my "friend" said they were.
Of course what this "friend" is telling me, makes lots of sense as to why he would minimize the number of lures I had. The less he claims that I had, the less he would have to replace or give back.
I sent this "friend" an email that was sent directly to me from the company i purchase these lures from. In the email, it stated the number of lures purchased, the style, the length and the total price paid. Of course once my "friend" received this email, his story changed to something along the lines of "I said you had about 30 meaning the 11 inch ones". This was is what he had told me prior to me sending him the order information from the lure company... "you had 2 boxes of 11 inch with about 8 in each box"
So what my "friend" was telling me, was that I had 2 plastic storage containers that contained 8 lures in each or a total of 16 of the 11" lures. When I actually had 35 lures, in 2 styles that were 11" or longer that I had purchased from this company.
I am still trying to get all of my gear back from this "friend" and it could be a while until I do. He has to go through all of his gear in order to see what gear he has that is mine.
It must be nice to feel so entitled to someone elses belongings, that you incorporate my gear into your own and basically take ownership of it.
I know that I will never get all of my gear back and what gear I do get back has been used and is nothing like what I had left there, supposedly in a safe place.
The gear is not the last of this story though.
Veronica and I even bought and brought items up from stateside for this "friend" and other family members. I even purchased fishing gear for this guy.
We did a lot of things to acknowledge the fact that he was storing our gear for us and that we appreciated it.
The bottom line is that this "friend" has stole from me and lied to me and the biggest insult is for him to be telling me what I had paid for and purchased. The only reason for him telling me that I have less gear than I actually had, is so that he can somehow minimize how much gear he has actually taken from me.
I hope that karma stops by and pays this "friend" a visit and gives him what he truly deserves. Because of the way that this "friend" has treated me, we will no longer be a loyal customer of the fishing lodge that we used to go to every year, when we went up to Eagle Lake. If this is the type of person that this lodge hires and keeps around, it is time for us to find a new "home" for our 2 week vacations to Eagle Lake.
I would like to take a moment to thank a person that has put himself "in the line of fire" to help me in this tough situation and in spending his time trying to get all of my gear back from this "friend"....Thank You so much..I truly appreciate everything you have done for me..you know who you are and that is what is important here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The World Becomes A Much Smaller Place Because Of The Internet

Today was a good day. Out of the blue I received an email from a long lost friend of mine by the name of Mike.
Mike and I used to work together when I lived back in N.H. Mike and I basically started our Public Defenders job at the same time.
Over the span of many years, Mike and I spent a lot of time together and went through a lot both professionally and personally. We always seemed to be there for each other when things got tough.
After I left the Public Defenders program, we still kept in contact but as time went by we lost touch of each other. As what usually happens between friends, life took center stage and we fell out of contact with each other.
Veronica and I moved, telephone numbers change or are unpublished and time basically moved on and seemed to pass by very quickly.
I am not sure exactly how Mike found me but I think that he happened upon Veronica's Facebook page. You know "that" page...that darn Farmville game page that so many people play. Ok...I am guilty too. I used to play it until I decided to go cold turkey and deactivate my Facebook account. There was a 6 step program involved with going cold turkey from Farmville but that saga is for another blog entry.
Enough about Farmville...back to my story.
As I was saying...I got an email from Mike today and I was very happy that he was able to track me down.
We will talk this weekend over the phone and try to get caught up on stuff that we have missed in each others life.
In the mean time, I have pointed Mike in the direction of this blog...why you ask....
Because my story and my life has basically been documented here and I couldn't tell it any better than it has already been told here....both the ups and downs
Plus there is the added benefit of having visual aids here...my photographs.
So to Mike and his family of course...welcome to my life and hopefully we won't lose touch of each other again.
 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Change In New Adventure Plans

Veronica and I have decided to change our cruise plans. Originally we had made plans to take a 12 day Grand Mediterranean Cruise, on the NCL Spirit in September of 2012.
That cruise departed from Barcelona and ended in Venice. In between those two points the ship would have ports of call in a couple of places in Greece, Italy and Turkey. Some of those ports of call weren't ones that really interested us. Plus there was the fact that it was going to be more expensive flying into one location and out of a different location, rather that going each way through the same location.
Veronica really wanted to see Venice Italy, and the Greek Islands had been mentioned  as a place that she also wanted to see.
So after looking over many cruise itineraries, we decided on doing a 7 day Eastern Mediterranean With Greek Islands cruise. This cruise departs and returns in Venice. Since we really would not be having much time to actually see Venice at the beginning or end of the actual cruise, we decided that we would fly to Venice several days before the cruise began. Because the cruise date is so far out, we can't make any hotel or airline reservations yet but we plan on spending 4 nights in a Venetian hotel that is right in the heart of historic Venice.
We will purchase transfer services from Norwegian Cruise Line so that we can easily get from the airport to our hotel in Venice and then from the hotel to the cruise ship. Transfers will also include going from the ship to the airport when our cruise is over.
We will actually have approximately 3 1/2 - 4 days to explore Venice and maybe take in a couple of islands such as Murano and Burano.
One of the hotels that NCL is showing on their web site is right in the heart of the historic district of Venice and it is also right on one of Venices many canals.
There is so much to see and do in Venice, that we could spend months there but unfortunately that isn't possible. But we will sure try to put a dent in all that there is to see and do in Venice.
During the cruise, we will have ports of call in Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos and Katakolon. There will be a couple of sea days in there also, which will allow us to relax just a bit.
This cruise is on the NCL Jade, which is the sister ship of the NCL Pearl. We have been on the Pearl a couple of times and really enjoyed being on that ship.
In order to make this all happen, we decided to go with an Inside Cabin, which are usually the least expensive category of cabins on a cruise ship. Our cabin will have the usual amenities that are in cabins along with two beds that form a queen sized bed.
Our cabin will be much smaller than the balcony and mini suite that we have previously had on past cruises but we don't plan on being in the cabin that much. Our cabijn is on the 10th deck.
There are plenty of things to do on this ship during our sea days plus they have a great observation area where you can kick back in a comfy chair and watch the beautiful coast drift by or get lost in a book.
Actually Veronica will most likely get lost in her new Kindle.
Below is the itinerary for our cruise:

Dates         Port          Arrival           Departure

Sat           Venice                            5:00 PM
Sun          At Sea
Mon         Corfu         8:00 AM        3:00 PM
Tue          Santorini     1:00 PM       10:00 PM
Wed         Mykonos    8:00 AM       6:00 PM
Thu          Katakolon   9:00 AM       6:00 PM
Fri            At Sea
Sat           Venice        8:00 AM

7-Day Eastern Mediterranean, Greek Isles from Venice
Here is a link for additional information about the NCL Jade
Future trips and locations that we are interested in seeing are Paris, Scotland, London, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and a bunch of other more inland locations that we will have   possibly see doing either an escorted tour and maybe one of those river cruises. Plus we also are going to be doing a "mulligan" on the Baltic Capitals Cruise that we previously enjoyed so much.
Nautical Cities - Cruise Ship Tickers

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Blood Test To Spot Cancer- Might Not Be A Cure But It Sure Could Help

I just read about a blood test that can spot stray cancer cells floating in your blood. This test is in its early stages but when it becomes mainstream, it will have huge benefits to both early screening for several types of cancer plus assist in seeing what drugs are the most beneficial during a patients treatment. The article below is an Associated Press article, being shown in its entirety and was written by:

MARILYNN MARCHIONE, AP Medical Writer – Mon Jan 3, 6:51 am ET

Blood test to spot cancer gets big boost from J&J
BOSTON – A blood test so sensitive that it can spot a single cancer cell lurking among a billion healthy ones is moving one step closer to being available at your doctor's office.
Boston scientists who invented the test and health care giant Johnson & Johnson will announce Monday that they are joining forces to bring it to market. Four big cancer centers also will start studies using the experimental test this year.
Stray cancer cells in the blood mean that a tumor has spread or is likely to, many doctors believe. A test that can capture such cells has the potential to transform care for many types of cancer, especially breast, prostate, colon and lung.
Initially, doctors want to use the test to try to predict what treatments would be best for each patient's tumor and find out quickly if they are working.
"This is like a liquid biopsy" that avoids painful tissue sampling and may give a better way to monitor patients than periodic imaging scans, said Dr. Daniel Haber, chief of Massachusetts General Hospital's cancer center and one of the test's inventors.
Ultimately, the test may offer a way to screen for cancer besides the mammograms, colonoscopies and other less-than-ideal methods used now.
"There's a lot of potential here, and that's why there's a lot of excitement," said Dr. Mark Kris, lung cancer chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He had no role in developing the test, but Sloan-Kettering is one of the sites that will study it this year.
Many people have their cancers diagnosed through needle biopsies. These often do not provide enough of a sample to determine what genes or pathways control a tumor's growth. Or the sample may no longer be available by the time the patient gets sent to a specialist to decide what treatment to prescribe.
Doctors typically give a drug or radiation treatment and then do a CT scan two months later to look for tumor shrinkage. Some patients only live long enough to try one or two treatments, so a test that can gauge success sooner, by looking at cancer cells in the blood, could give patients more options.
"If you could find out quickly, 'this drug is working, stay on it,' or 'this drug is not working, try something else,' that would be huge," Haber said.
The only test on the market now to find tumor cells in blood — CellSearch, made by J&J's Veridex unit — just gives a cell count. It doesn't capture whole cells that doctors can analyze to choose treatments.
Interest in trying to collect these cells soared in 2007, after Haber and his colleagues published a study of Mass General's test. It is far more powerful than CellSearch and traps cells intact. It requires only a couple of teaspoons of blood and can be done repeatedly to monitor treatment or determine why a drug has stopped working and what to try next.
"That's what got the scientific community's interest," Kris said. Doctors can give a drug one day and sample blood the next day to see if the circulating tumor cells are gone, he explained.
The test uses a microchip that resembles a lab slide covered in 78,000 tiny posts, like bristles on a hairbrush. The posts are coated with antibodies that bind to tumor cells. When blood is forced across the chip, cells ping off the posts like balls in a pinball machine. The cancer cells stick, and stains make them glow so researchers can count and capture them for study.
The test can find one cancer cell in a billion or more healthy cells, said Mehmet Toner, a Harvard University bioengineer who helped design it. Researchers know this because they spiked blood samples with cancer cells and then searched for them with the chip.
Studies of the chip have been published in the journals Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine. It is the most promising of several dozen that companies and universities are rushing to develop to capture circulating tumor cells, said Bob McCormack, technology chief for Veridex.
The agreement announced Monday will have Veridex and J&J's Ortho Biotech Oncology unit work to improve the microchip, including trying a cheaper plastic to make it practical for mass production. No price goal has been set, a company official said, but the current CellSearch test costs several hundred dollars.
The companies will start a research center at Mass General and will have rights to license the test from the hospital, which holds the patents.
In a separate effort, Mass General, Sloan-Kettering, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston will start using the test this year. They are one of the "dream teams" sharing a $15 million grant from the Stand Up to Cancer telethon, run by the American Association for Cancer Research.
Already, scientists have been surprised to find that more cancer patients harbor these stray cells than has been believed. In one study, the test was used on men thought to have cancer confined to the prostate, "but we found these cells in two-thirds of patients," Toner said.
This might mean that cancer cells enter the blood soon after a tumor starts, or that more cancers have already spread but are unseen by doctors.
Or it could mean something else entirely, because researchers have much to learn about these cells, said Dr. Minetta Liu, a breast cancer specialist at Georgetown University's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. She led a session on them at the recent San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and has been a paid speaker for Veridex. She hopes the cells will someday aid cancer screening.
"The dream is, a woman comes in for her mammogram and gets a tube of blood drawn," so doctors can look for cancer cells in her blood as well as tumors on the imaging exam, she said.
That's still far off, but Mass General's test already is letting doctors monitor patients without painful biopsies. Like Greg Vrettos, who suffered a collapsed lung from a biopsy in 2004, when he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
"It had spread to both lungs and they couldn't operate," said Vrettos, 63, a nonsmoker and retired electrical engineer from Durham, N.H. Tests from the biopsy showed that he was a good candidate for the drug Iressa, which he has taken ever since. He goes to Boston every three months for CT scans and the blood test.
"They could look at the number of cancer cells and see that it dropped over time. It corresponded with what the scans were showing," Vrettos said of doctors looking at his blood tests.
The test also showed when he had a setback last January and needed to have his treatment adjusted.
"I think it's going to be revolutionary," he said of the test.
CANCER BLOOD TEST
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