Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Recovery, Part 2

Wednesday 6-29 (day 16 since surgery on Monday 6-13): I successfully drove son’s Ford Focus across the yard to the shop. I also successfully climbed into my F-150 and manipulated the pedals forcefully enough to drive safely. I cannot do this activity for very long, perhaps for a 5 mile trip at the most. But, it is very satisfying that I now have such a capability if there is an emergency. With the other knee, I did not reach this capability until day 29.

I have been walking without a walker on smooth paved surfaces in daylight since about day 11. My gait is hobbled because the knee joint motion is still limited to about 5-75 degrees (0 is full extension, 90 is flexed to a right angle, and the hardware limits are 0-140). We’re working that issue much harder now in therapy, since I got the staples out on Monday (day 14).

I still have to use pain medications to sleep at night, and even so, it is a hard thing to do. I wake up a lot during the night. But, I haven’t used the pain medications at all during the days, since day 11. This recovery is definitely proceeding faster than the other one 2.5 years ago.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Recovery

The knee replacement surgery was very successful. I am home and undergoing outpatient therapy. I seem to be about a week ahead of the recovery timeline experienced with the first knee, 2.5 years ago. This is based on some diary-like notes I made back then.

The photo is me scurrying around the house on the walker. I probably won’t need the walker much longer. As of this writing, the knee is stable enough to bear full weight walking, for a majority of the time. 3 days ago, that was entirely not true. Status changes very quickly.

Photo 006-2

There’s a lot of reading and paperwork to catch up, plus getting my paper ready for the Mars Society convention in Dallas August 4-7. Until recently, I didn’t feel much like doing any of this. I still need a good long nap after therapy sessions. But, things are good enough now to start taking on those chores.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another Red-Letter Event

My wife Ellen was an adoptee. Her parents made no secret of her Japanese birth mother’s identity (Toshie Uchida), and did encourage Ellen to find her. They did not know where she was, though. After both of Ellen’s parents passed on, Ellen felt like an only child, and determined to find Toshie, or at least find out what happened to her.

But, with the help of dear friends in Japan, and a private investigator in Chicago, Ellen did finally locate her near Peoria, Illinois. Ellen made contact, and found out she has a half-sister and a nephew that we never knew about. Emails and phone calls led to a trip to Peoria June 4 through 6. All three of us went. This turned out quite well, as you can tell by the looks on everyone’s faces. Here are four photos from the trip.

The first shows Ellen, her sister Joyce, and her mom. We all marveled at them gabbing away, while around that table, and others. It was clear they were related.


The second is of most of the men associated with these three. Left to right are me, Ted Meyer (Toshie’s husband for many years), our son James, and Joyce’s husband Tim Ricci. Ted was Navy and Marine, then a railroad hand for decades, now retired. Tim is a policeman.


The third shows my son James and his cousin David (Joyce and Tim’s son). Both of these two are into computers and gaming.


The last is a close-up of the two sisters, Joyce and Ellen. The picture says it all. As it turns out, both are involved with correctional work professionally. Amazing.


This trip was a wonderful visit. I think there will be many more.

Another Red-Letter Day

The two VW beetles have served their purposes for me, and are going back into mothballs. I have completed the preservation activities for both engines and both fuel systems. There really is nothing to preserve about the brakes: both have seen recent service, and both are already DOT-5 silicone converted systems.

The blue 1973 “ethanol VW” served very well for 5 years as an E-85-only demonstrator, and last year in flex-fuel configuration for experimental confirmation of my earlier conclusions from the F-150 about the limits of “stiff” gasohol blends in unmodified vehicles. It is still working quite well, but has a very “high-time” engine and a very “high-time” transmission. It is time to put it back to rest, before I break something. I remain convinced that the ethanol extended its useful life considerably: it should have burned a valve or lost compression entirely, long before now. It has a little over 250,000 original miles on chassis and transmission, and well over 100,000 miles on the last engine rebuild.

The old white 1960 “gasohol VW” had been de-mothballed to replace the blue VW in ethanol experimentation as a daily driver. Turns out I didn’t need it after all, my wife’s old Nissan Sentra is currently filling that role. As for the VW, I “woke it up” completely unmodified on E-33 gasohol blend, and it has performed excellently on that fuel. This vehicle is so old as to have plain carbon steel valves and seats, so it requires a lead substitute with today’s unleaded fuels. I have successfully used 9 cc per gallon Marvel Mystery Lube in that role since the mid 1970’s. The car has a little over 227,000 original miles on it, but the engine and transmission are both “low-time”.

Ethanol fuel research continues with the Nissan, my F-150, my Farmall tractor, and all my lawn and garden equipment. All are completely-unmodified equipment running on “stiff” gasohol blends (E-25 to E-35) except the Farmall, which is a straight E-85 machine. I still maintain that blends up to E-35 are fine as "drop-in" fuels for every car in the fleet. The vehicle will get the same mileage it got on gasoline, it will run cleaner inside the engine and exhaust, and I am convinced it will last longer precisely because of reduced flame sooting.

If you want a good summary of how I converted the blue 1973 "ethanol VW", or how I routinely make my own gasohol blends at the pump, or what I know about ethanol fuel compatibility in engines and fuel systems, then look below for two articles posted on this site. Together, they make a pretty good “handbook” for you. See “How-To” For Ethanol and Blend Vehicles, dated 2-12-11, and see Ethanol Does Not Hurt Engines, dated 5-5-11. The keywords for both are “fun stuff, old cars”.