Another Doctor Appt

I finally got alarmed about my lack of stamina and made an appointment with my GP for yesterday. Especially since after New Years, I begin a different course of cancer treatment.

After some discussion, he wrote a script for a bunch of lab tests. He wants to check my liver functions, my kidney functions, my thyroid functions as well as for anemia. He seems to think the anemia is likeliest due to something called “chronic illness anemia” caused by long term medication usage. And he thought I looked a bit pale!

I made a joke about him getting to see his favorite hypochondriac. He said “You aren’t . . .” when I interrupted to say “I am not your favorite?”. It took him a while to get the conversation redirected!

Anyway, he wants to make sure the Lupron hasn’t caused any liver damage and that my thyroid is functioning OK since the Firmagon (There were some jokes about the name of this drug!) works through the pituitary gland. Which also affects my thyroid.

So this turned out to be more than just my present condition. He was a bit concerned my Urologist had not been checking anything but my PSA but he knows I am largely a self-managing patient.

So nothing changed. Yet. He will get the results either today or Monday then we will know.

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New Shatner Video

I have always liked Queen’s version with its “wall of sound” production but this one is more poignant, if even less scrutable!

He has come a long way from living in a camper! And I loved the girl’s exclamation as he got wound up!

The Fiberoptic Project by Christmas — FAIL!

I went to the mailbox on Christmas Day and HAD to drive down Road Gulch to see how far they were since I could not see them from the mailbox. But they weren’t far down the gulch. About a half mile. With over a mile to go. Not even close to their goal.

This is near the first house on the north side of the road.

One thing I noticed was that the cable layer had no windows! That operator should be getting paid well! Note that there isn’t much cable on the spool either so this was a calculated stopping place.

Then I saw the project today on my trip to Salida to the doctor. Going down was not much different than Christmas Day! The big difference was they were burying duct instead of cable.

As we drove back up Road Gulch Road, I noticed the big backhoe (The Hammer) was gone. I figured they took it back before the end of the year to save rental money.

It had been parked near the curves since the project passed that point.

But when we turned the curve below where they were that morning, they hadn’t moved much! And, look, The Hammer! The semi had been there earlier and now we knew why. It appeared they had used The Hammer on the semi so it didn’t tear the paving up. There were tracks on the shoulder where the guy who kept waving me to go around while I was taking pictures, so it had been sitting there a while.

The cable layer had been refitted for laying fiberoptic duct.

TWO of them! But not all the duct is being furrowed in.

On each side of these driveways, a trench had been dug by the backhoe then the duct pulled into them plus some. Since there are no tracks in the driveway, they don’t have to worry about blocking it! Note the “Chinese finger traps” on the ends of the foreground ducts and the chain connected to them. This anchors the duct while it is pulled and fed out.

The duct can be laid under the phone and powerlines and connected in a box. I don’t know who gets to dig UNDER those lines. Later the actual cable will be pulled the entire length from here to the cattle guard using one of the ducts.

As I went around the trailer with The Hammer, I asked the road guard if they were gonna finish by New Years. He laughed and said, “This part, we hope!”. I had always assumed this valley was mostly stuff washed down from the mountains on each side. Obviously not if they have to use The Hammer to go 150′!

By modifying the contract for two ducts, the contract could be extended into next year. Or that is my guess. Lucky LCI.

PTSD — Why?

An article in Mother Jones magazine got me on this subject. The issue was an old one (2008) and had worked its way to the bottom of my bathroom reading pile but the relevancy is still important. One paragraph in particular struck me:

In the spring of 2002, an Army major named Peter Kilner submitted an unusual essay to Military Review, a journal published by the Combined Arms Center in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Kilner argued that combat leaders have an obligation to justify the killing their soldiers do. “Soldiers who kill reflexively in combat will likely one day reconsider their actions reflectively,” he wrote. “If they are unable to justify to themselves that they killed another human being, they will likely, and understandably, suffer enormous guilt” that could balloon into post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd).”

This is a separate matter from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) which is a physical “scrambling” of one’s brains from a severe concussion or explosive damage. PTSD can occur to anyone, military or civilian. Even children.

Study lead author Dean G. Kilpatrick, Ph.D. and colleagues from the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina were particularly struck by the prevalence of PTSD in the national sample of adolescents. “Nearly four percent of the boys (3.7%) and over six percent of the girls (6.3%) reported PTSD symptoms during the preceding six months, indicating that a high percentage of youth in the United States encounter traumatic events and experience significant emotional responses associated with these events,” according to Dr. Kilpatrick.

Interpersonal violence (i.e., sexual and physical assault, witnessed violence) increased the risk of PTSD . . .

This condition goes back to WWI when it was referred to as “shell shock”. Explanations for this were usually based on conditions: heat, being frightening, in an alien place, etc. But not on what soldiers did. I had two uncles in WWII, one my namesake, and another whose name I can’t recall. Charlie slowly slid into a deep depression while the other would regale anyone who would listen about his experiences in Germany. Charlie had lost a leg. I suspect their experiences were very different.

My own experiences give me some insight into this. I was a combat doorgunner who only fired when fired upon and, due to our “sneaky Pete” work rarely encountered hostiles. Except the shoot-down in the A Shau Valley of Viet Nam. When we lost engine oil pressure, the pilot began a descent to an LZ. Any LZ! It was not a nice neighborhood with what later turned out to be the base for an entire NVA Division hanging around. I saw muzzle flashes in the dusk in a field as we went down and automatically returned fire with my M60. One of the shooters and one of the guys standing around watching went down as I raked them. At the time, and even now, I feel guilty about shooting an unarmed farmer.

Viet Nam Vets and Gulf War Vets have about the same levels of PTSD but I cannot find any studies of their combat experiences. “. . . because the military doesn’t collect statistics on how many have killed in the line of duty, not even among those who are treated for depression or ptsd.” I did find this in an article, “Rates of PTSD and major depression were highest among Army soldiers and Marines, and among service members who were no longer on active duty (people in the reserves and those who had been discharged or retired from the military). Women, Hispanics and enlisted personnel all were more likely to report symptoms of PTSD and major depressions, but the single best predictor of PTSD and depression was exposure to combat trauma while deployed.” The trauma was often seeing a fellow soldier badly injured or die.

Poor concentration and depression are the commonest indicators of combat PTSD. But a new, definitive test has been found: magnetoencephalography (MEG). This measures the current of brain activity and PTSD suffers’ patterns are different. This is an offshoot of Alz and MS studies.

So what can be done for these veterans and other PTSD victims? Traditionally, the military, when it does anything, uses traditional group therapy and counseling. But this has been both expensive and ineffectual. A technique used with Viet Nam vets has shown significant results; Transcendental Meditation (TM). In only 8 weeks of twice daily TM practice, a 50% reduction symptoms were evident.

Another promising effort is a drug, propranolol, prescribed for high blood pressure, anxiety, and heart arrhythmia, works well. It hasn’t been tested on veterans yet but this sounds like a good possibility. The first article gives a clear explanation the mechanism of PTSD in the body.

I know this wasn’t the cheeriest post I have made but this is a subject I have been interested in for sometime. If you read to here, thank you for your attention.

Meditating Mercat?

My LED Lamps

I recently changed out our light bulbs to CFLs. At least those inside the house. Then my son gave me four (4) LED lights for Christmas! They are supposedly 60 watt equivalents; so were the CFLs. But the actual light is measured in lumens. The incandescents were rated at 800 or so lumens. Those marked “long life” yield much less light which is why they last longer. The CFLs I had were discount bulbs and were 50 watt equivalents, using 11 watts; they were rated at 800 lumens.

And they worked good if you don’t mind the brief hesitation when they start and the several minutes before they reach full light. OTOH, the LED has a second or two pause before they come on but start at full brightness.

The CFL is almost the same size as a standard light bulb but the LED is noticeably longer. And heavier. Most of the length is NOT the lighting portion; the electronics are in the metal base.

So we changed out two kitchen lamps to the LEDs which barely fit in the fixture.

The difference was stunning in how bright the kitchen was! The rated lumens are about the same but the LED light is MUCH brighter! So much that we decided NOT to put them in our reading lamps. All I can figure is that most of the light from the LED bulb is directed downward while the other bulbs are more multidirectional. Lighting the ceiling is not a big priority for us. Lol.

There is not much difference between the CFL and the LED in watts but much difference in the light created.

Anyway, I used two of the LEDs in the kitchen and eventually one for the front porch light. That one doesn’t light the yard as much but our porch is brighter!

Since I really just replaced two CFLs with the LEDs and the front porch incandescent with an LED, the net savings was 44.5 watts. But these are lights we use a lot so there will be a lot of watt-hours of saving.

And one of the best parts is the 5 year warranty! Thanks, Scott.

Our Yule

We had a good Yule. I ate too much shrimp but am unrepentant! We also had stuffed acorn squash, bread sticks, and Champagne. While we ate, we could see the line of icicles along the patio roof in the outside lights. That really added to the Yule spirit! As did the single digit temps!

We had our gift exchange. Donna seemed more interested in her glass whistling teakettle than anything! I ordered it because her coffee pot didn’t make her tea water hot enough; then I broke the carafe on it and got another Mr. Coffee which keeps water hot. So the teapot may be extraneous!

I got an electronic Scrabble dictionary but am figuring out how to use it for FB’s Words With Friends; I have some tough opponents and could use a little help against them! I got a couple of SF books, some LED light “bulbs”, some clothes, and some rawhide chews. Oh, wait. Those were Lily’s. Lol.

Even with the cold temps last night (6 was the lowest we saw.), our water didn’t freeze. Yay!

Tonight we will be in Cañon City for dinner with my other son, Scott, and his family. And to give them the various “stocking stuffer” gifts we have.

The boys will celebrate Christmas at their Mother’s house. I will celebrate it in my own bed!

What Christmas Is About — satirical video

A Visit With my Son

I spent yesterday afternoon with Jeff. I had driven up to deliver some Christmas presents. Only I realized, halfway down the mountain, I had forgotten the basket they were in! So back up I went! I called Donna to warn her I was on my way and she asked why. I told her to get the basket that is sitting on the living room floor! Her reaction was, “Oh, yeah! There they are!”. That added a half hour to the trip. Made me feel senile.

I got there and he discovered one of his presents from us on his front porch. He is upset by the parcel delivery guys leaving them out where anyone walking by his house (and many people do since the bus stop is two doors up) can see it and steal the boxes. But, to his knowledge, no one has.

I was hungry so we went to lunch shortly after I arrived. For reasons I don’t understand, I had been thinking of Jose Muldoons, a Mexican restaurant downtown, and he agreed to that. He has recently learned he is lactose intolerant and Mexican food usually has lots of cheese on it! But he was sure he would find something he could enjoy.

I had a smothered burrito and he ended up with a modified taco salad. Fortunately his waitress picked up on his problem and asked the right questions, including “Do you want sour cream on it?”. She kept calling us “gentlemen” and I kept telling her not to because we weren’t! I finally gave up on that! She was very personable and attractive.

She reminded me of someone and when I asked, she listed relatives in the Springs and in Denver but not in Canon. I could not remember her name but it was Maureen or something similar that started with an M; I was counting on it being on the receipt. But that only had a number!

I never did think of who it was I was reminded of until I was on my way home.

Michelle! From my eye doctor’s office! I will have to call and see if they are related. Later Jeff asked me if she really did remind me of someone or was I just flirting! I have no idea where he gets these ideas. 😉

We talked politics, gossiped about the family members not present, and enjoyed being together. We did some shopping then went back to his house for a game of dominoes with a marked set: the double 5 has a flawed back so we are supposed to not peek while shuffling or drawing our hands. He won.

The presents were irrelevant but more of an excuse to spend time together! I am proud of him for the life he has created with his mice and four cats in his new house. And for becoming as cynical as his Dad!

Even Lower Gasoline Prices!

Day before yesterday, gas prices in Cañon City dropped to $2.98.9!! Last August I mentioned it going UP to $3.44.9. Then last week, I was excited about a bit above $3, expecting that to be the bottom of the price curve.

I was on my way to Colorado Springs where I was startled to see prices in the big city were $3.09.9! I hadn’t filled up assuming it would be cheaper in Colorado Springs. I ended up at the Safeway gas station, since it was closest to my son’s house, to fill up.

I used my “Reward Card” (formerly “Club Card”) to see what kind of discount I would get. I was shocked to get a $1.00/gal discount!! I paid $2.21.9/ gallon for 11.5 gallons of midrange! I don’t see how that is legal since Colorado outlaws selling fuels below cost but accepted that price (The pump actually asked if that was OK!).

The discount is not the same for everyone. Another customer was excited about getting a $0.50/gal discount. I rarely buy Safeway gas after getting a tankful that was of terrible quality and my Montero barely ran. So I had a lot of points piled up from all the prescriptions we refill there!

This made up for the crappy tankful I got! 🙂

“Bird” Passed Away

This poor Siskin was not happy nor was it getting better; it would never fly again. I found it dead in the carrier yesterday morning.

He shared my bed for about 2 weeks. I kinda miss him but know this is best. We have no idea what happened to bring on its demise. A broken heart for being a prisoner?

Our Yule Snow

The weather guys got it right this time!

This is about 6″ of snow at 10:15 on the 22nd. It is supposed to snow all day. And, yeah, I didn’t even put shoes on but just shot this out the front door! This is fluffy stuff so our little tree is still standing proud.

We were gonna take Lily to the vets about an injury Donna found on her ribs but all three of us agreed it wasn’t that serious! 🙂

So we can stay home, open presents, and eat all day!

Happy Yule!

Our Tree

We have a small house filled with too much stuff! And two curious cats. So we have a tree that hangs on the wall.

It rolls up and goes in a cylinder for storage, decorations and all!

The presents make it festive enough for us!

Tomorrow is Yule and a cold white one, at that. What more could two retired Pagans want for the season?

Have a good holiday of your choice!

My Hormones

What a month this has been! I will be glad to get off Lupron. This one month dose has been more traumatic than the 3 month doses I have been getting. The flareups were bad enough but now I am feeling wrung out. Absolutely no stamina which, I assume, means no Testosterone.

Monday I had planned an Ombudsman visit to Hildebrand but was so exhausted by the time I got to town, I asked my Boss to excuse me. She did. So I just did my errands and went back home.

Now I know how my Dad felt when we went out. 2012 has to be some better.

“Our” Fiberoptic — Lower Half Buried

Not having gone down Road Gulch Road since school was out, I took a drive Sunday when I went to get the mail. I had heard from one of our postpersons that it wasn’t going well.

I got all the way to CO69 before I found the bulldozers.

From the looks of things, they had just gotten there Saturday. A bunch of cable was lying on the ground, ready to be shoved down the orange duct to the other side of the highway.

Or something. I am skeptical this is enough cable to come out the other end of the duct on the other side of the highway.

There is a lot of duct on the other side of the highway. This allows it to get to the other fiberoptic cable it connects to. I don’t think the roll on the ground will do it so they will have to splice another section in, presumably in a box.

My speculation they were gonna lay it in the road was wrong. They widened the shoulder in the “curves” enough for the dozers. But had to call for some serious muscle.

This is a backhoe with a hydraulic hammer. When the county widened this stretch of road years ago, they didn’t use one of these. Nor did they make room for bulldozers! Their purpose was smoothing the curves and widening the road for two vehicles.

Most of the way the burial furrow looked like this.

Nice and neat looking. But through the curves, it was more of a “git ‘er done” appearance. Two major cliffs had to be cut back, creating lots of rock and boulders.

The rocks were pushed back to make room for the dozer tracks.

At the cattle guard, they lay the cable along the ground.

Now they have started from the top again for the second portion of the project. The dozers are at the end of our street now.

A Plague of Ticks in Our House!

Donna has a strong reaction to ticks; in fact she goes bonkers! OTOH, they seem to find her attractive! The only tick I have had to remove from anyone in the family was on her ear. That was a trauma for her and training for me! That was years ago in a county far, far away.

We haven’t had much problems up here until now. Normally our cold winters kill most of them off and I was speculating that the last few warmer ones was allowing them to proliferate.

Actually, we have only seen them two places in the house: on the dog bed we put in the living room while Lily is recuperating and the love seat which the cats use as their bed when a human isn’t watching TV. None of the ticks have been attached, just wandering around on one animal or another: on Lily and Donna. Donna bought some cedar oil and drenched the love seat and dog bed to control them. The stuff is safer than insecticide.

Until last night. Donna and Stubbs were on the loveseat watching TV when Donna exclaimed, “There is something on Stubbs tail!”. And showed me the “flea” she had caught. Since I could see the thing between her fingers, I knew it had to be a small tick. She couldn’t get to the kitchen sink fast enough! She kept grooming Stubbs and eventually got six small ticks from around his tail. She learned they are slick when she got “greedy” and tried to catch two of them at once. She dropped one which crawled off and hid!

After thinking about it, this made sense; Stubbs refuses to use a litterbox and goes out in the yard to potty. Under the bird feeder tree since it has been snowy.

He digs a small hole in the tree litter then sits on it to do his business. While he is sitting there, ticks follow his heat and crawl on him when he does his evening constitutional. Then hold on to his fur for a ride into the house.

Only the birds and deer visit this tree. And birds are too fastidious to allow ticks to hang on them, especially since they are edible! So I am suspecting the deer are bringing them in and they drop off. Especially since sometimes the deer rest under it.

Even while I was taking a picture of the tree today, I had a watcher.

He wasn’t intimidated by my taking pictures! Handsome guy. But I didn’t think he would let me check him for ticks!

Anyway this is my theory for the source of our ticks. Unfortunately I am unsure what to do other than vigilance and cedar oil!

Who Wants To Live Forever? (Video)

By the immortal Freddy Mercury.

Pancakes

When we were in Salida, we went to the Patio Pancake Place and had breakfast for lunch. Donna was craving pancakes and ordered their blueberry pancakes. Did she get pancakes! She was glad she ordered a short stack! Lol.

Ya have to be careful with the syrup on these!! I had an omelet and got regular sized pancakes.

How to talk to someone with cancer

This is an article from Salon magazine.

I have found most people who know me don’t have an awkwardness issue, maybe because I am chronicling my experiences on this blog. OTOH, I have found that my closest friends/family are the most uncomfortable with it.

And Rule #10 is the biggy.

The holidays can be a social minefield under the best of circumstances. It’s as if, in the last two weeks of the year, all the dramas of the past 12 months get together for one last hurrah. Now, add to all that the eminently likely scenario that someone you know has been diagnosed this year with cancer. How do you interact with that person now — not just over the eggnog at that caroling party, but from here on in? What do you say that’s genuinely helpful when the whole situation is freaking you out?

I know that it’s hard for you too; I really do. In addition to dealing with my own Stage 4 melanoma, I have in the past year watched one of my best friends endure an astonishing roller coaster of ovarian cancer, and lost a family member to stomach cancer. It’s no picnic loving someone whose life is on the line. But you’re not helpless. And if you’re wringing your hands wondering how to handle yourself, Cancer Lady is here to offer a few simple guidelines. (And lest you think that people with cancer never trip up socially, au contraire. I’ll be back tomorrow with an etiquette guide just for them.) But first, let’s talk about you, friends and family. I’m sorry you’re going through this. It feels overwhelming and complicated. But it’s not, I promise. When in doubt about how to behave, stick to the basic rule of thumb that a) It’s not about you, and b) It’s about them, you’ll be golden. Let me expand.

Rule 1: This is a bad time to be emotionally needy.

This is going to kick up all your issues. Trust me, I have cried my eyes out during a whole lot of car rides home. So go ahead and bawl, and complain loudly to your private support network. You can certainly be honest with the person with cancer about how ticked off you are that this happened. But remember that it’s not her job to make you feel better about anything. People with cancer have got plenty of their own fears going on – they don’t need yours. That’s why the relative who called me after my initial diagnosis to insist, “Tell me you’re going to get better. I need you to say you’ll get better,” is the person whose calls now go straight to voice mail.

Rule 2: It’s a very bad time to disappear.

You say you’re not good with hospitals, or you’re sensitive because of your tragic family history, or this is really inconvenient because you’re going through your own problems right now? Yeah. Suck it up. I recently had a now ex-friend say, after a year of near total silence, “I’ve been thinking of you so much.” And if I’d been a mind reader, that might have meant something.

It doesn’t take big gestures. It takes less than a minute to send an email or a text or pick up the phone or walk over to someone in the supermarket and say, “How are you?” That’s all it takes to let someone know you’re still on her team. And that minute can be the difference between a miserable, scary day and feeling supported and reassured.

Rule 3: Someone else’s dramatic life event is not your opportunity for closure.

If you think this is a good moment to crawl out of the woodwork to say hi to your ex- with breast cancer or express a few things you wish you’d said after a long ago family falling out, it’s not. And if you insist on reaching out to someone who is otherwise not in your life anymore, be holding a nice big present.

Rule 4: Remember it’s a fine line between curiosity and finger-pointing.

I don’t know anyone with cancer who hasn’t heard a version of, “Did you smoke? Did you sunbathe? What happened?” To people with cancer, this sounds an awful lot like, “Tell me how you screwed up so I won’t make the same mistake.” Similarly, don’t bother telling them about how Louise Hay would say this happened because they thought bad thoughts, or how they’ll get better if she just has a positive attitude. Cancer happens to Marlboro-devouring rock stars and it happens to little babies. So keep anything that sounds like blame to yourself.

Rule 5: Similarly, don’t tell them how to fix this.

Whether they’re doing intensive chemo or copper bracelets and colonics, remember that’s their choice. If you’ve read of a promising trial or know the best specialist in the field, you can ask if they’d like the info. But don’t tell them that they have to move to the country or go macrobiotic, Helpy Helperton. Don’t even, in fact, tell them lame things like, “Take it easy! Get some rest!” Because unless you’re coming over to clean the house while they get in a nap, you’ve basically ordered them to do something else in a likely already full day.

Rule 6: Don’t be hasty with the best-case scenarios.

People with cancer appreciate your positivity and encouragement. They don’t need someone not standing in their shoes to make sweeping pronouncements about the future. They might not appreciate your vision that “we” will “battle” this. (Fun fact: plenty of people with cancer hate the word “battle.”) And if the prognosis is bad, they don’t want you to tell them that no, it’s not. I hate to break this to you, but here’s the thing about cancer – some of us are going to die. Not because we’re quitters, but because that’s how it works. If someone with cancer is telling you that, shut up and hear it.

Even if things are going well, let it go at its own pace. I can’t count the number of times people have called me a “survivor” or said things like, “So, are you cured?” This happens a lot to those of us in the club. It makes us feel a little rushed here. Like you’re so eager to wrap this thing up and move on already.

The era when a person might get cancer and then either promptly get the right treatment or be dead within six months is over. People go through varieties of treatments before hitting something that works. They are declared “clean” and then are rediagnosed. They live with their disease for years on end. Please, be patient with them.

Rule 7: On the other hand, don’t be a downer.

You don’t need to quote harrowing statistics right now. Or mention your neighbor who was in so much pain at the end. I say this because people have pulled this crap on me. If that’s your idea of small talk, you really need to pick up some other conversation points. And know that being sympathetic does not mean telling people that you don’t know how they’re possibly coping right now (hint: they don’t have a choice), or what a grueling ordeal it all must be.

Rule 8: Your Aunt Betty’s cancer is not all cancer.

Cancer is a wide, wide world of diseases that behave in unique and specific ways. Nobody expects you to be an expert. Just bear in mind that your prior knowledge may have absolutely nothing to do with anybody else’s situation. Not everyone with cancer gets chemo and loses hair and throws up a lot. Not everyone has surgery. Not everyone gets that miraculous drug. Go ahead and ask what the treatment is before authoritatively assuming your friend ought to be bald by now.

Rule 9: Be useful.

This does not mean calling up and saying, “I wish I could do something,” or worse, promising, “I’m going to baby-sit the kids or make you dinner” and then never doing it. This is not your big chance to feel pleased with yourself and your good, empty intentions.

So use your ingenuity — and don’t wait around for a request. It’s not that the person with cancer is necessarily shy; he or she may just be a little preoccupied lately without having to come up with errands for you run. Bake a potpie. Or knit a cool hat. Or ask, “Do you want to come over on Tuesday and watch a movie?” Specificity is good. The words “sometime” or “tell me what to do” are not.

Rule 10: And this is the most crucial – be guided by the person’s cues.

Some people will gladly tweet updates from their chemo treatments. Some will demurely prefer not to talk about it. Respect their limits — it’s their cancer party, and they get to call the cancer shots. You don’t have to cure anybody. You don’t have to cheerlead. You don’t have to do very much at all. Just be a friend. Just stick around. Just let them know they are not forgotten even if they’re not around as much lately. They are not scary because they look different. And that if they can handle this, you love them enough to handle this too.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of “Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream.”

There is a sequel to this called “How to talk about your cancer” which I need to follow, especially when I start having a “pity party”.

I try to keep my tone light but know sometimes unsuccesfully. Please forgive me. Or just kick my butt when I do!

“Our” Fiberoptic Cable

OK. We have to share it with a few hundred other people! Lol.

A few years ago, our telephone company, CenturyLink, brought fiber optic cable to the end of Road Gulch Road along CO69. Now they wanna connect us to that fiber optic cable. Presently we are connected by a copper, multiple conductor cable. We have no idea what this augers for us but we do hope it improves our phone service. And maybe encourages cell service providers to install towers.

I had talked to one of the team doing this for CenturyLink, a contractor from Salida. He was very aggravated they are demanding that this company get ‘er done by Christmas when they had months (or years) to do this. In much better weather.

First they tried to dig a hole with a backhoe and got about a foot down before it wouldn’t go any deeper into the frozen ground. Then the company sent them back with a horizontal borer to cross under the roads, CO28 and CO69. Mission accomplished at each end. But those pulled the familiar orange fiberoptic duct under them.

But the team is now putting the plastic fiberoptic cable directly into the ground! Usually we see these projects with the burial of orange duct with the fiber optic cable itself pulled through the duct later. This method also allows several cables be pulled through the same duct.

Anyway, this project is installing one cable by direct burial.

First they had to break through the frost line the backhoe failed to penetrate. This is the machine they are using. This method of breaking the furrow makes the burial machine work smoother, also.

This thing goes ahead and breaks up the ground ahead cutting a furrow. It left big chunks of frozen soil behind. Note how close it is to the rock wall; the road is even closer to the wall further down the road; there the operator actually plowed the road

Then the rest of the team followed doing their things.

The front thing with the roll of dark “wire” is the cable burier. Behind it is a backhoe doing something, I think using the back of the bucket to tamp the furrow. Then the grader was reshaping the ditch so it looked like they had never been there. Lol.

The fun thing to me was the cable burying machine. Here is a movie of it in action. I suggest you click the fullscreen button to see the action better.

This was cool! The guy walking along beside the plow is the guy I talked to and turns out to be the project supervisor! He is making sure the insertion is going well since there are many things that can damage the cable.

The orange ribbon is a warning tape that is buried a foot or so below the surface to warn backhoe operators they are about to eat a fiber optic cable! Details here (pdf).

They are moving right along and should make their deadline. But they started from the cattle guard on public (BLM) land; once they get to the highway, they will have to deal with the private property east of the part they are doing. That part of the project is along the paved part of the road with narrow rights of way.

I wish them luck.