Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sneaky Doodling on a mule.

It started simply.  I got the boots on ... my riding 'half chaps' [yeah it looks silly over cowboy boots, but they protect my legs from the brush].
Then there was Opal, who was ready, willing, and very able to take me on an Adventure.

We decided to take the ridge road.  The woods were so thick with berry briers and other nasty sharp things.  Here Opal is relaxed and just enjoying herself.  Note the ears are very relaxed in the second picture.

When we found our usual trail blocked by corn we decided to find a way around it.  This lead us to going along another field road.  The sky at times threatened to rain.  We didn't care.  
We were going to go sneaky doodling.  
Sneaky Doodling is the art of riding through an area and not leaving a trace....the art of Sneaky Doodling was started many years ago when I used to ride with some of my younger and braver friends... We 'sneaked' through field roads to get from one farm area to another.

We followed the trail under some magnificent oak trees
UH oh.  Opal and I found the 'blind' for deer hunting.  I assured her that NO hunters were around.  She seemed content with that.
We 'sneaky doodled' through ... on the field road.  Nary a soul saw us except for perhaps a squirrel and a few turkeys.
When we got home it was time to change out of the cowboy boots pull off the saddle and then sit in the yard and enjoy being on the other end of the lead line.
Opal was content to munch.  I was content to lean back and watch.
I'd forgotten how much fun it was to 'Sneaky Doodle'.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dog Days

Yup.  Morris. 
Just having a grand old time.
He really is a camera 'hound'.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ping Pong Game of Healthcare for Veterans

This is sort of the never ending saga of our state of health care for Veterans.

My hubby was in pain yesterday, the medical people call it 'idiopathic' pain as it doesn't have a source that they can pinpoint it to.  His B/P went from way high to now... way low.  

As low as 103/77, which sounds okay and good, but when you are dizzy, nauseated, and unable to becomes a bit concerning. 
[Yes, they put him on a new B/P med which makes his blood pressure dip wildly, and it also fluctuates wildly.]

The phone call to the VA hospital triage nurse was made.  She insisted we go to Vernon Memorial...the hospital that we had such a bad experience with before.  
Hubby said no!  She warned him that he could 'die' in transit in the car.  He said 'SO?'
So off we went with a great sense of urgency.   
[Two stops for barfing...ewww, thank goodness none IN my Jeep!] 

At the Urgent care, after 5 hours they decided to keep him for observation and then a stress test the next morning.  

Good.  I had to work a midnight shift and I felt this would be a great option.

Then the substitute psych doctor came in and told him that he saw no psychiatric signs of distress and that my hubby really wasn't in distress and that high blood pressure and headaches were not caused by stress. 

[HMMM?  Where did this guy get his license to practice?  Out of a magazine? He had some way off the wall things he said to my husband and instantly his BP went from 130/88 to 187/90.  Stress nor emotion effect B/P?]

The attending doctor said he could go home and she wanted him back in the morning for a stress test but no change in meds.  
I looked at her and said *Do you have any idea how far we have to travel?  I work until 8am and I am in no way going to be able to bring him.*

She looked at hubby and he gave her the 'stink eye' and told her he hasn't been able to drive in over 3 weeks because of this...much less function.  


Well, they had beds, but he wasn't 'bad' enough to be kept and they had beds, but they needed to save them in case... so ... yeah it was a long way but could we come?  This needed to be done right away!  OH and by the way, if symptoms persist or he doesn't feel better, please come back.  But, he was to stay on the meds that were making him sick, no change, no plan other than the stress test.

Roll of the eyes.  I said so ... 'I can bring him back every day?'  No answer.  The A.M. Stress Test was out of the question for Friday morning.  No way I could work a midnight shift and have him there in time.  

The VA hospital is a good care facility, I will give them that.  What stinks is that they don't have the capabilities to actually take care of all the veterans who need help.  So the system works on the triage system.  Worst ones first.

I get that.  

Today?  He is feeling just as crappy as ever.  Two nurses have called.  One to schedule his stress test for Monday and the other to see how he was doing.  

Any changes?  Nope.

Better? Nope.

He told her not even to suggest the drive.  

I'm sure that my husband is not the only Veteran who feels like he is getting the run around for health care.  It is a sad state when these men and women give everything to protect our rights and then get shuffled around like numbers.

One person even patted my hubby's hand and said, 'Honey there is a light at the end of the tunnel.'

She meant to be nice, but I wondered if she was talking about a freakin' freight train or a 'near death experience'?

And the beat goes on.  [We hope]

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A bit more on the FujiFilm FinePix HS 30 EXR

First let me begin with some more 'likes' about this camera.
One very nifty and cool feature I found that I really love a lot is the Auto Panoramic Mode.

Really?  Gosh, it should not be so easy!  Put the camera in Panoramic mode, follow the instructions, and simply hand hold the camera and slowly turn until the camera stops and processes the shot.
Here are 2 shots I did as experiments in the Pano mode at 120 degrees.
Clouds and pasture:
River sunset:

The flip screen.  Some other cameras like the Canon version of this same camera, the Canon SX40 HS 12.1MP Digital Camera has a flip and rotating screen to use.  Nifty, but I wasn't impressed by some of the reviews.
However the FujiFilm camera will flip up to 90 degrees like so [this one was edited for an artistic value]:

And you can tilt it to shoot up.  I like that feature as I can take shots with the camera literally laying on the ground if I want to.
Example of the flip screen in use:
Note the Gorilla Pod underneath, I was doing a 3 exposure shot of the rocks and let the self timer of 10 seconds open the shutter so that I wouldn't 'shake' it in low light.

You can also see the dial on top of the camera.  You have Manual, Aperature, Shutter, Program.  EXR allows some more type of shooting, Full Auto, and two Advanced, Sp1, Sp2, Panoramic, and C.  C lets you customize the settings.  That can be a good feature if you want to set the camera up for a particular kind of shoot.
I'm not going to go through each of the menus as I am still exploring them. 

These are the HDR shots I took in this setting in Manual Mode, Fine JPEG, ISO 100, Auto Bracketing Exposure of 1 step.  I used Photomatix 3 to put the exposures together.


Video is one touch.  I haven't tried the video yet, but expect to do it soon.

I used the continuous mode to 'shoot' my dog ... it takes multiple frames and then you can pick the best one.

This feature doesn't impress me.  The time to record data takes way too long.  My Olympus E-420 can rapid fire and save much faster.  However, I expect I can work with this feature.

The zoom.  Well a good zoom lens costs a lot of $.  These two shots should speak for themselves. be able to go from Zoom to macro is a real bonus.
No swapping of lenses.

The processor takes to long in Continous Mode, AEB Mode, and it seems forever to pull data while shooting an AEB series with RAW + JPEG.

That said, I really can learn to be patient.  But if I am going to do some real hard action, I'll grab either my Nikon D40 [yes old!] or my Olympus E-420.
All around this camera so far is fun and inspiring.
Not having to lug around extra lenses and being able to take bracketed photos while handheld really makes me a happy person.

HDR from the river with zoom ... hand held.  Processed in Photomatix and touched up with Topaz plug-ins.
Happy Shooting!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Frosty the Lost Cow

Things were pretty quiet, morning coffee...the sound of birds chirping, a donkey braying out in the woods.
Then it got rather noisy.
The hound dogs starting braying like crazy.  Opal and Fred snorted and trotted back and forth in their small pasture.

We heard the bellering of a cow.  I mean not just the moo moo sort of thing either.  A long mournful all out gosh awful noise of a cow looking for something.

Down our driveway came a black angus type cow.  She was on the move.  Our coffee sat on the table as my husband moved outside to see what was going on.

The cow had orange insecticide tags in her ears, but no numbers or other markings.
I began with the phone calls.
We ruled out the immediate neighbors and our 'phone tree' kept working until someone recalled some fellas looking for a black cow driving up and down one of the gravel roads.

One neighbor tracked down the fellas looking for the 'lost' cow and gave him our phone number and directions to our place.
Meanwhile the cow 'Frosty' [named as such because her ears had been badly frost bitten at some point in her life], settled down next to our little Dexter heifers and began to eat.

Frosty, as it turns out, had come from another town about 15 miles away and had been taken to a farm about 3 miles away as the crow flies.  Over night she escaped the farm where she was to be bred...then was found by the sheriff's department on the highway.  She was then put in a corral for safekeeping at a horse farm about 2 miles away.
Frosty escaped the horse farm and made her way I suppose either by road or through fields and the woods to our place.

The owner was extremely relieved to have found his  'cow'. 

I guess this is just an example of how hard rural folk will work to find out who owns an animal.  Everyone on my ridge and surrounding area worked hard on the phones and by vehicle to track down Frosty's owner.

It was a fine day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sky of Mind

Well not really.
We've had some awesome skies the last couple of days.

Just thought I'd share.

That's it.
Have a great week!

First impression FujiFilm FinePix HS 30 EXR

FujiFilm Finepix camera [all in one none DSLR].
Many folks don't believe you can take very good shots with anything but a DSLR.

I agree a DSLR is great.  But my one drawback I have found while hiking is that I either choose to bring only one lens and have often chosen the wrong one to use. 

I'd sold my FujiFilm FinePix S1500 a while ago [very cheaply to a friend so his daughter could experiment].  Frankly, I missed that camera which allowed me to go from one 'lens' to zoom lens with a flick of the finger.

It was one of the first digital cameras that was made this way.  I figured that improvements had been made in the past 6 yrs.
I was correct. 

This camera at first glance looks and feels like any DSLR.  It has heft to it and seems to be built quite sturdy.
Never having to change the lens and yet having the 24-720 zoom range is, to me, a huge plus!

I don't get caught without the wrong lens in the woods, or have to drag more than one lens along and try to change them in a hurry.

I can do super macro and lay the camera on the ground and use the tilt screen to capture my image.
Yeah, that it super cool!
Shot in Auto mode zoomed into the bush...


B&W mode of the ridge where we walked:

Landscape mode using the tilt screen while laying on the ground:

This camera has a lot of potential that I have not even tried yet.
It also has a one touch button to record movies.

I'll be trying this out in more ways.  One of the features I do like about it, is that you can take hand held 3 exposures without a tripod and do a fairly good HDR.

Most of the shots taken, though could use a tad bit of post processing.  But the average user can get along fine in the auto mode.
There are many functions to use.
It'll take time for me to get through them, but getting around the menus are not too bad. 
Just takes time to get used to them.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Happy UP DAY to me!

I went out walking and shooting photos yesterday.
I'd given up on my old FujiFilm camera that I'd bought in 2005.  I wanted to upgrade, but didn't feel like I should.  My Nikon D40's 55mm lens is busted, I like my Oly camera and my point and shoot camera, but...butt.

So I am replacing the camera that took these photos, with a non - DSLR camera that takes zooms and it has a screen that you can tilt to see what you are shooting...this is too cool, because I can spend less time laying on the ground to get some of those cool fungi and other shots!

I'm thinking I need a pick me up after this past week ... I've been wanting to do this for a while and after doing 3 months of research, I finally hit the 'order' button.

I told hubby I bought myself a 'gift'.  He said I needed another camera like a hole in the head.
Granted we each have our vices.  Mine happen to be photography related. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chitty Chitty BANG Bang!

I drove my old, elderly car in to work tonight.  Just before I turned into work I could hear a funky noise. 

Uh Oh.
On the first part home it dawned on me that part of the muffler must have come loose.  Okay I can deal with that.  

But as I started up a very steep hill I think the thing came seperated.  The noise was awful, it felt and sounded like I was in a jet engine!  

I had to roll up the window because I could smell exhaust.
So I thinks to myself...say, self, what if this old beastie just up and dies on you?  I reach over and pat my riding buddy, Curious George -- yes a stuffed monkey-- and tell him that I'd carry him home if the old beastie died on us.

I make it all 30 miles and then turn onto the gravel road where I creep along because I can hear the pipe scraping on the gravel and throwing rocks up into the bottom of the car.  

Hang on baby!

Putt Putt, clink, clink.  

I crept down the driveway sure that at any moment I'd hear the final death throes of the poor muffler pipe as it rode up on the gravel hump or bump.  Hound dogs started baying, donkeys started braying, and even a mule or two chimed in.  

What good animals I have, they knew something different was going on.  Even the 'yard' pony got up from his nap and pranced in the headlights.

We made it.  Curious George and I.  Another adventure in the wild wild woods ... hmm, I think I may need a muffler!  But heck, life is like that.  Tosses you a curve when you least expect it.

I think I got the Jeep just in time.  I think parts are going to start falling off the old car, but heck, it still runs like a top and gets great gas mileage!

Bang Bang!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Thank you Dr. D. at the VA

I would like to thank the VA ER staff for responding well to my hubby's issues today.

After the 'incident' yesterday at VMH, both of us needed a good night's rest.  We got up and called the VA Triage Nurse on the VA hotline.
She recommended that I drive my husband to Madison and that if he experienced problems, pull over and call 911.

After we arrived we were in the exam room within 20 minutes.  B/P was checked as well as an EKG and O2 reading.
The nurse flipped out the door and in 10 minutes Dr. D. came in to see us.  She sat down on a stool and began to dig through the pertinent information.

She sorted through what my husband was saying, nodded her head as he re-told of his experience at VMH and then examined him. 

She was worried about the B/P and the low heart rate.  She popped out of the room and was back fairly quickly.  She stated that bradycardia was not a concern as hubby's history going back before 2000 was that of a lower than average heart rate. 

Now the concern was the B/P.  His heart was normal on the EKG and she'd already read the EKG's from VMH.  This Doc acted fast, she had gotten all the notes from VMH and had reviewed the latest info from the VA.  No enzymes had shown up in his blood indicating a heart attack.

A Med Student came in and started an IV under supervision.  B/P medication was given through the IV.

Dr. D. asked for and got consent to talk to Mental Health regarding hubby's meds.  She sat down with us [myself and 'daughter' Stephanie] and listened and took more notes.  She repeatedly checked the B/P then decided to do another IV dose.

Bottom line.
Dr. D. thank you for listening to a very upset patient.  Thank you for your extra effort you took to get my hubby's blood pressure down.  Thank you for talking to mental health, for getting information, for setting up follow up appts and testing.
Thank you for being a good and patient doctor.


Being a patient Advocate

When you have a loved one who gets ill, you have to be able to become your spouse or loved one's patient advocate.
Not everyone is cut out for this nor do they understand how the MD's work.

Case in point.  
I think I screwed up this past few days.
I trusted the local hospital to keep my husband.  My husband did not want transport to the VA hospital.  I didn't think that was a wise move and told him so when I did see him later that day.

[I'd been out of town when this had occurred.  The scenario would have been much different had I been there in the first place.]
He began taking a new BP med.  Each day his BP rose. He got concerned when it reached 186/112.  The urgent care nurse at the VA told him to go to the nearest ER.

First.  The doctor that took his case decided that it was not the medicine that caused the rise in BP and stated as such to my husband.  My husband was offended by that which set things up for a decline in doctor patient relationship.
I went into the hallway to speak to the doctor [we are talking a nice man, but very small town doc.]
I told him that this had occurred before when the VA changed his meds and that he was having issues with his psych meds.

At one point the doctor indicated to my husband and I that he was a bit reluctant to treat him as my hubby was part of the VA system.  But he wanted to run some tests.  My husband's vitals did come up a bit bizarre and there were some 'things' that showed up 'funky' on his EKG's.
This doctor scheduled my husband for a stress test and echo cardiogram. 
No one, not the doctor, not the nurses, not the techs, said a dang thing about bringing his BP down so he could do the test.

When the doctor showed up in the room for the test he stopped it and by a bit of misjudgement on his part 'seemed' to indicate that is was my husband's fault for having the high BP, indicating that the med he did not take [remember this med was the only thing changed and his BP rose drastically while starting it!] was his fault.
Okay, that is how my husband and I perceived it.

Hubby got very upset.  At that point I realized that even though I had talked with this doctor regarding my husband's mental health status, this guy had not a clue as to how to approach a man with severe and chronic PTSD.
This doctor left the room, he indicated that he had other things to do and this was holding him up.
He left a patient that was having a mental meltdown in a room full of techs who had NO clue as to what to do.

We got back to his room and I must say that the Head Nurse was awesome.  She never flicked an eye and went toe to toe with my husband.  She got him calmed down.

We waited for 4 hrs.  Not a nurse, no one checked on him.  I found that curious and went to 'find out the plan' of action.
It was shift change.  The one nurse couldn't give me answers, couldn't give us a plan.  But she did say that he was to stay as he wasn't stable.

I ran home to take care of some things.  The phone rang.
The doctor met up with my husband when he went to the nurse's station to find out what on earth was going on.

The doctor said he would not release my husband that he needed the stress test tomorrow.  My husband asked if he was so unstable why had no one checked his vitals in 4 hrs?
Blubber blubber blubber...whoops.  No answer.

And how was he supposed to get a stress test if his BP was high?
He then told the doctor to 'go somewhere' and said he was leaving.
Looking back, I think he did a good thing by 'firing' the doctor.

Unfortunately, they are calling him AMA.  Leaving Against Medical Advice.  I can't get any paperwork, but the VA can ask for it.
Funny, I think legally they have to give you paperwork.

The head nurse then walked my husband out to the parking lot [after he called me].  I couldn't find him when I arrived.  The nurse and I went looking for him.
He'd gone to ER to have his IV lines removed.

You can probably think what I am thinking of this medical facility...and it isn't something I can put on a public forum.

VMH, Vernon Memorial Hospital... got a very poor score for me yesterday.  The doctor obviously had not a clue as to how to approach a person with issues.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Gettin' There

Sometimes the 'road trip' or the drive is half the fun of going on a visit.
Morris and I were on the road before the sun came up.
At the ridge top we were greeted with a beautiful morning fog that 'hung' silently in the hollows and low parts of the fields.

As I dropped into the valley the world became enshrouded in grey fog.

I only got the see the morning sunrise when I followed the road and ended back up on the ridge tops.

The trip was pretty uneventful but it was actually pretty nice to get away from home and work for a bit.
I got to my mom's house and the dogs were extremely happy to renew acquaintance.

There were a lot of places I 'should' have also pulled over to take photos.  But I was in a hurry to get from place A to place B.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Road Trippin' by Morris

I get to go ... I get to go!  She packed my toys and washed my blankets!
I'm getting to ride in the Jeep!

First I got a bath though.
Not exciting.
After the bath!
Now that was exciting!

What can I say?  I love-hate baths, but feel so good afterwards!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

She's Packing AGAIN ~ by Morris

Dang, she is packing bags up.  Again.  
She did it once before and left me with HIM for a very long dog while.

SHE did say something about washing my blankets and giving me a bath.  
Mebbe, I am going with her?  Oh joy of joys .... not to be stuck with the Grumpy HIM!
I've been laying on her feet so she won't forget me.
I've been putting my hedgehogs in her way.  I even put one in her work bag just in case she needed something to remind her of me.

SHE sort of gave me the eye over that.
But I don't care.
I want to go with her.  And I think that might mean that I get to ride in that fancy thing she calls a Jeep!  Oh boy!
I've marked the tires on it really well, so I can figure out which vehicle it is.

I'm hoping that I get to visit a place where I have dog friends.  Like Teslin or the Grandma dog, Sammy.
I gotta keep a close eye on her.

When she packs her camera bag and puts my tie out cord in my travel kennel I'll KNOW!
Truly yours.

A bit of Abstract

With the weather being so difficult and awfully hot, this summer I've been playing around with abstract art that can be 'made' by computer graphic programs.

I keep going back and forth between 3 wonderful free programs.

I've been experimenting with colors and black and white also.  Sometimes I go all out for the wild colors and sometimes I go for the subdued black and white.
Sometimes I mix Apophysis 7X and Incendia EX 
This colorful abstract was made with an image from Incendia EX and a flame rendered from Apophysis 7X.
I used a .png format for the flame and made more than one layer.  I used Flaming Pear's plug in called Flood to get a watery reflective look for both the flame and the Incendia figure.
The Incendia EX creations I also save in .png format.  That gives me a transparent area to work with.
For this image I used the 'Stars and Hedras' fractal and decided that I just wanted a 'simple' sphere.  I was able to match the colors to an Apophysis 7X flame.
Here is a closer view of the layers I used.

 I really loved how simple this graphic piece turned out.  I messed with it, adding more layers and trying out different twists and turns, but in the end, decided that simple was prettier.

Then in a black and white and something shiny mood, I created this in Mandelbulb 3d and added some simple spheres in layers.

I really enjoyed the metallic look I got from this.  
I think it is fun to just enjoy and create.
After all, if you don't get something you like, you can always delete it.