Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Photos Of Our Local Area

I have obtained photos of Hurricane Sandy and the damage done in our local area. These photos came from various sources:

















Friday, October 26, 2012

Flowers For My Sweetie

With all of my health issues that we have been dealing with, I wanted to give Veronica a little something special, besides my love and a "Thank You", for everything that she did for me during these last couple of trying weeks.




Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lowes Won't Be Getting Any Of Our Business

A couple of weeks back, Veronica and I were in the market for a smaller sized chest style freezer.
We did some research and shopping around and found a GE 7 cubic foot chest freezer at Home Depot that scored very well amongst purchasers reviews.
The freezer was selling for $198.00 and our local Home Depot had it in stock.
I decided to do some checking into the price for the exact same freezer at our newly built local Lowes.
Lowes price matches other retailers as long as you have proof of the other retailers price.
After checking on Lowes web site, I discovered that they also had the same freezer in stock and Lowes was somewhat closer to where we live than the local Home Depot.
I decided to call Lowes just to make sure about the price matching policy.
The young lady I spoke to said that they do indeed price match upon proof of another retailers lower price.
I explained that I would print and bring in the shown price for the freezer from Home Depots web site.
The young lady also informed me that not only does Lowes price match other retailers prices but that Lowes also gives the customer an additional 10% off of the price. This brought the price down to approximately $178 plus some change...a really attractive price to me.
Now I was becoming a Lowes fan. As a consumer, I am always looking to save a little money on any product that is identical to the one I am wanting.
The young lady plugged the product code/model number into her computer only to find out that they did not have the model I wanted in stock despite what it said on line.
Then came the deal breaker and something that really started me feeling real negative about Lowes.
I was told that the freezer would have to be ordered and it was considered a "special order" and as being a "special order" they could not offer the price match to me and of course the additional 10% off was null and void too.
Tried as she could, her computer would not allow her to make any type of manual adjustments to the price in order for Lowes to back up what they were verbally telling me...the customer.
She got one of he male supervisors involved and I could hear them talking back and forth as they tried to get the computer to do something that it sounded like it wasn't programmed to do.
The supervisor was telling the young lady what to tell me and then he came up with the idea of offering me another brand freezer for the same $198.00 price as the GE freezer I had wanted. Of course there was no additional 10% off on this one.I could hear him telling the young lady to tell me to check out a 7 cubic foot Holiday brand chest freezer that they would offer me for $198.00. I have never heard of the brand name Holiday and I quickly checked it out on Lowes web site. As it turns out, Holiday is part of the Haier brand name.
This freezer only scored a 3.7 out of 5 by reviewers compared to the 4.7 out of 5 rating that the reviewers gave the GE freezer.
I heard the supervisor tell the young sales lady to make me the offer and that this was the best that they could do...take it or leave it.
This was obviously a bait and switch tactic along with gross misrepresentations of Lowes policies as far as their so called price matching and adding on an additional 10% savings goes.
I told the young lady that I wasn't interested in their offer nor was I ever going to step foot into our local Lowes store nor any other Lowes store throughout this country.
I promptly called Home Depot and made sure they had the freezer I wanted, which they did and Veronica also contacted the store manager to let him know what kind of shady business practices their so called competition were doing.
We drove the extra few miles and picked up our new freezer, which was waiting for us on a cart in the freezer section...with our name on it. We knew up front what the price was going to be and no one tried to tempt us by offering anything at a lower price that could not be backed up nor was there any type of bait and switch practices at Home Depot...like there was at Lowes.
If this is the way Lowes does business, Home Depot has nothing to worry about. Lowes is absolutely no competition and eventually they will disappear from the retail world especially if they continue to treat customers this way.
Notice that I did not say "their" customers.
Keep up the good work Home Depot. As long as you do, you will have loyal customers in both myself and my wife.
As far as Lowes...never again...you blew a great opportunity to gain 2 customers!!
Shame on you!!!

Update To My Update On My Kidney Stone issue

After writing my last blog entry about my stubborn kidney stone issue, I decided to go back to bed around 5AM this morning.
I just kind of laid there for over an hour and finally dozed off for about 15 minutes.
I then decided to get up for good. No sense waisting time trying to sleep when it wasn't going to work.
Veronica and left the house around 7:30 and headed to Elizabeth City to the hospital there.
This is where I was supposed to have my surgery.
Before leaving the house, I made sure that I took along the kidney stone that finally decided to make a surprise appearance at the 11th hour.
Once at the hospital, I was checked in a given a room along with the usual hospital garb to change into.
After completing various paperwork along with all of the other semi preparation stuff that they do before surgery, I had some quiet time before my doctor showed up.
After some discussion and looking at the problematic stone that I proudly presented to him, it was decided that he would do some stat blood work and a ultra sound that was to be read stat before getting into any serious prep for my scheduled surgery.
The blood test was to check on the level of the chemical that had gone much higher than was comfortable and gauged how much function my right kidney was working at.
If the stone that i had presented to the doctor was indeed the stone that was causing the blockage and the chemical level to rise, then by passing this stone, the chemical level should have dropped to almost normal by this time.
As it turned out, the ultra sound test came back good and the chemical level dropped to almost a normal level.
The test results along with the stone in hand, was enough for the doctor to cancel my surgery.
There was a lot of whooping and hollering going on between Veronica and ...at least in our minds and hearts. We were very thankful that I averted this surgery.
Although I am sure that the surgery would have turned out fine, there are so many variables involved in any surgery, that I always am concerned any time they put me out for any type of procedure.
We did not even have to wait to be officially signed out of the hospital because I was only semi officially signed in.
After getting an appointment slip to see my Urologist this next Wed, I quickly changed clothes and ran for the doors before anyone decided that a mistake had been made and I did indeed need to have the surgery done.
On the way home, Veronica and i stopped at a roadside Farmers Market where we bought some gourds to decorate and some fresh vegetables.
Once again life was good  and now we could focus on the upcoming "Frankenstorm" also known as Hurricane Sandy...a current Category 1 hurricane that was to run up the East Coast or possibly make landfill in the Mid Atlantic states or maybe New Jersey before heading up to the New England states. Still unknown was the exact path of this storm but I have already brought in our outdoor furniture from our 3 floor balcony.
No matter what this storm does or where it tracks, at least Veronica and I will be together during this weather event.
Like I said...Life is good.


Update On Kidney Stone Issue

I have been dealing with a stubborn kidney stone and pain associated with that stone for over 2 weeks now.
After straining my urine and collecting various debris and "gravel", I took my collection to my Urologist yesterday.
As far as I knew and based on what was in the strainer, I had not passed my stone as of yet.
My most recent xray could not locate the stone although the xray before it showed a stone relaxing and enjoying itself about halfway down my ureter.
There was also a chemical level that had been checked a couple of times via a blood test that showed this chemical level to be much higher than it should be and was a concern to both the doctor and I.
The chemical level showed that my right kidney was not functioning properly which could very well be attributed to my stone somewhat blocking the flow of urine and backing it up into the kidney or the cause could be something else. It came across to me that it was most likely to be caused by the stone.
This chemical level is not something one wants to stay elevated for any real length of time because it could permanently harm the kidney.
The Urologist and I discussed the various issues and unknowns that we were dealing with at this time.
No evidence of the passing of the stone, elevated chemical level showing less than ideal kidney functioning and pain in my right side.
The doctor took another blood sample to get a new reading on this chemical level but we would not have the results back for 2 days.
It was decided that if I did not go in for surgery today, then it would be 2 weeks before he could get me into the surgery room and 2 weeks was too much time to let pass by with that chemical level possibly being as high as it was when last checked or it could be higher at this time....only the blood test could answer that question.
So as I left my doctors office, I was to be at the hospital in Elizabeth City by no later than 9:30 this morning.
I say this morning because it is currently 3:30AM here.
I was woke up by pain in my right side about 1:30AM and I lay in bed trying to let the pain pass so that I could get some sleep.
As you can tell by my current typing of this blog entry, my attempts to get back to sleep failed miserably so I decided to get up and get something productive accomplished. Thus...here I am being productive or at least as productive as one can be at 3:31AM with a looming surgery scheduled for around 10AM.
You know how they say that timing is everything? Well believe it because it is true.
For the last 2 weeks, I have been drowning myself with the intake of water so as to flush the stubborn kidney stone out of my system. Had that happened before yesterdays doctors visit, my upcoming surgery might not be a happening thing.
After returning from my doctors office visit, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going in for surgery. I had thrown away my urine strainer while at his office and gave up on pumping gallons of water through my system.
It was time to give my system a little break and enjoy my usual drink of choice..diet cherry cola or some diet cola variation.
So around 8PM I had to use the bathroom to urinate.
No sting...no blood....no problem.
Looking into the bowl i see this dark speck staring up at me. Figuring what have i got to lose, I shove my hand into the bowl and put my finger on this speck. Lo and behold, it is a kidney stone.
I carefully fish the stone out of the bowl and protecting it with my life, I walk upstairs and proudly present it to my Veronica.
We carefully place this stone into a secure plastic packet so that I can take it to the hospital with me tomorrow.
So the good new is that I am 99% sure that this is "THE STONE". The bad news is that we have no idea what that chemical level is at and my doctor will most likely go ahead with the "surgery" to check both kidneys to see if there is anything else that might be going on inside me that would cause that chemical level to be elevated.
Hopefully the latest blood test will show that chemical level down to where it should be but unfortunately that won't be until after today's medical journey is complete.
When they say timing is everything....believe it.
See you on the flip side...


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Last 2 Days Of Our NCL Cruise Vacation For 2012

The last 2 days of our 2012 NCL cruise vacation was filled with relaxation up on the top deck of the ship, taking assorted photos and unfortunately packing our luggage for the long trip back home to reality.
On both of these sea days cruising from Dublin, Ireland back to Copenhagen, Denmark we found a couple of comfy lounge chairs on the top deck of the ship, where they were situated in an area protecting us from the cool ocean breezes. The sun was out and warmed us nicely.
Veronica read her books and I played my games on our IPad.
We had lunch on deck where they served us with bar-b-que offerings. It was a nice way to relax and enjoy the final days of our vacation.
At night I took several photos of storms that I was watching in the horizon. The colors and contrast of these storms made for some really nice pictures.
At night I tried my luck at some night time moon photos.
The last day at sea we packed our bags and put them out in the hallway so that they would be in the first group of luggage to be taken off the ship.
We had prepaid for a private driver and vehicle to transfer us to the Copenhagen Airport.
We did this because were weren't sure how long nor how difficult it would be to get off of the ship and we did not want the hassle of trying to take all of our luggage along with backpacks and carry ons, off of the ship on our own, fighting through the crowds and not knowing what the taxi or shuttle bus situation was going to be like.
We had one of the earlier flights out of Copenhagen heading to Dulles and we could not afford to miss that flight. Thus we decided to pay for our own private transfer to the airport.
As it turned out, there were taxis available and we probably would have been ok doing our baggage the way we did and then picking it up once we disembarked off of the ship and grabbing a cab to the airport.
We just weren't sure of the procedures plus there were too many variables involved to take any chances.
we actually got off so early from the ship...probably within the first 2 dozen people and we had a worker assist us greatly in both keeping an eye out for our 4 pieces of luggage and then grabbing them for us after I showed him which ones were ours. Everything went much smoother than we could have ever expected.
We ended up having to wait for our driver to arrive at the pre-determined time, which was 8AM.
Once we arrived, we were whisked away and arrived at the airport within 20 minutes or so.
Our driver helped us get all of our luggage into the terminal and assisted us when the check in kiosk broke down on us. He seemed to know some of the SAS workers that were present and spoke to them to find out which was the quickest kiosk and way to get everything completed. Before we knew it our driver was gone and we had checked everything in.
Due to the fact that we got this private transfer, we were done doing what we had to in the airport before most of the cruise passengers arrived and before any long lines had formed.
The longest chore was going through security but we had plenty of time to get it done and we weren't stressed for time at all.For our needs and situation, along with the early departing flight time, the expense of a private transfer was well worth the money.
Before we knew it, we were on our jet and heading back to the states.
One thing that we found interesting on this flight was the fact that they had a front mounted camera and a down facing camera on the jet. This made interesting viewing when taking off landing and when the visibility was good, looking down at the tundra below.
This was the case when we flew over Greenland.
On this entertainment screen that is built into the back of each seat that is in front of a passenger, by clicking the right buttons, we could see the mountains and snow of Greenland. I decided to take a couple of photos of this unique sight from 35,000 feet up and going over 500 miles per hour.
Our short flight from Dulles back to Norfolk was uneventful and we finally made it home around 10 and 11PM.
It was a very long day and night.
It still amazes me that we were on a cruise ship in Copenhagen in the morning and with multiple time changes involved, we were back at home...half way around the world.
We have a great time on our vacation and cherished each and every moment that we got to spend together. We are truly blessed to have found each other and even more blessed to travel and share these precious moments together making those memories that last a lifetime.
Our journeys have only just begun...fishing in Canada this upcoming year along with a 14 day NCL cruise on the Jade that covers places such as Venice, Milan, and Naples in Italy...the Greek Isles, Slovenia and Croatia.
And then in 2014 we are hoping to do a London, France and beyond independent travel adventure.
And I am so lucky to be able to share all of this with my soul mate, best friend, partner, lover and wife.

Below are various photos of the top deck of the NCL Sun

We found some comfortable lounge chairs on this deck and we were protected from the wind by tall plexiglass window panels


Looking back over the aft of the NCL Sun. The deck below has the outdoor cafe and sitting area









Below is a photo of where they set up for a bar b que buffet








Looking out over the bow of the NCL Sun









The swimming pool had been emptied out during the rather rough seas that were encountered on our way to Scotland

A couple of ships that we passed on our way back to Copenhagen







Storm clouds off in the distance. You can see the rain shaft in several of the photos












Below are several attempts to take night time photos of the moon and moonlight upon the ocean





Below..photos of the entertainment tv screen that are in front of each passenger. Picture is of Greenland and the snow and mountains from the bottom of the jet through the lens of a built in camera. We were about 35,000 feet in the air 



 The worn out world travelers after the end of another fantastic adventure

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