This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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October 2006
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Goodbye Zuri

There was a horrible series of accidents just about a day and a half ago which led to Zuri’s death. Brandy and I were making a quick trip to the store and to get some things from the old apartment. Amy was home alone. Amy witnessed the whole series of events, but was unable to stop it despite her best efforts. If either Brandy and I had been home, we probably could have stopped things, or it never would have happened at all. But we were not home.

The specifics are quite horrible, and I am not in a mental place where I am prepared to discuss those. I might never be. I certainly don’t want people second guessing things we have done and telling us what we could have done differently. I’ve done enough of that myself, and I’ve been tormenting myself with it. I do not need more. I’ve spent most of the last day and a half just dealing with the aftermath of this. Nominally I worked from home yesterday to help my family through everything. In reality, that they were helping me was probably closer to the truth and my productivity for work was close to zero. She was my bird, and I was closest to her and I think I have taken it hardest. It has been a really bad day or two for me. So I won’t talk any more about recent events, I’ll talk about Zuri…

I first saw Zuri in late 2003. She was in a petstore near Yardley, PA where I had just bought a house. My parakeet Brain had recently died, and Brandy was trying to convince me to get a new bird, a bigger bird with more personality. She had me look at Zuri. I was not convinced. Zuri looked very cute. She was barely more than a baby then. But I was not sure I was ready for the responsibility. With the smaller birds you can basically give them food and water and a few toys and they are happy. Brandy warned me that with ringnecks like Zuri, they need daily attention. They need to be talked to and held and petted. And they can be demanding. And they can live more than 20 years easy, sometimes over 30. I did not make up my mind that day. I did not walk out with Zuri. But for the next few months, more and more often I would make trips to the petstore. Always to see Zuri and see if she was still there. More and more each time I dreaded that someone else might have already bought her. And she was getting older. I was starting to regret each time that I had not gotten her the very first time I saw her. So finally, on 14 Jan 2004 I brought Zuri Kidege Minter home.

I was afraid I had waited too long to get her. That she was older and would not bond with me. Her face was no longer as puffy and cute as a really young bird (or so I thought, it turned out it could be, just depended on her mood) and I was afraid to let Brandy or Amy handle her, because I wanted to make sure she bonded with ME. All my fears were groundless. It took a little bit, but she very much bonded with me. Perhaps a bit too much. For the most part for the longest time she would ONLY let me handle her. (With lots of work earlier this year when I was in Washington and everybody else was in Florida, Brandy finally got Zuri to trust her too.)

If I walked by, Zuri would call from her cage and raise her wings to be petted and beg for me to come get her. Too often I would be “busy” and would not. But when I did Zuri would bound to the top of her cage and luxuriate in in being scratched and petted for as many minutes as I would. She would never tire of it. Then, when I was done, she would climb on to me. She’d play with my glasses. She’d circle my head and play with my hair. She’d nibble and preen me and do her best to take care of me too. And then, if she finally tired of that, she’d start being a nudge and start wandering around to play with my keyboard or anything else that might have my attention.

In her cage she would play with her toys some, and some she liked more than others. Some she would ignore. Some she would fight with all the time. Others she would sleep on. She loved ringing the bells. She loved getting peanuts out of her football. Whenever she would eat she would very carefully pick up her food from her food dish, walk over to the water dish and systematically wash her food to make sure it was JUST right. The water dish was always a mess. She hated the purple food. She would pick everything else out and eat it first. If there was nothing left but purple in her dish, you knew she was mad, and you needed to feed her new stuff right away, even though she still had plenty of purple.

She would sing and call from the cage all the time. She had learned to wolf whistle one time when she stayed at Brandy’s mom’s house for a week and the bird there taught her. And she did that a lot. But mostly she would just sing and chitter away. Especially when there were people around. She would talk to you. Not English words, she never learned that, although I think she was trying. But just very expressive “sentences”. She would go back and forth with you when you talked to her. And she would look right at you and you knew she was listening and paying attention with everything she had.

She was mischievous too. She ate holes in a few of my shirts that I wore when I played with her. She completely destroyed a leather jacket I forgot was draped over a chair one time she was out. But I didn’t care. She would pull the glasses right off my face and go carrying them away. She would take pens from me and go walking off holding them with one foot, looking like she was going to start writing any minute. She pooped on and destroyed a keyboard just a few weeks ago. But I didn’t care.

She was very trusting. Very loving. She was a good bird. She was my bird. She loved me unconditionally and with all of her little heart. She was sad days I did not play with her and was overjoyed when I even gave her a minute of attention, let alone when I would have her out of the cage and would play with her for a long time. I wish I had done that so much more. I now cherish every minute I had of that.

She was my bird. I loved her. She loved me. I miss her so much. I am so very sad.

Goodbye Zuri. Goodbye. Good bird. Pretty Zuri. Pretty birdy. I love you.

I Am Very Scared

My house has been invaded by almost ten 6th grade girls for a “Birthday Slumber Party”. A few minutes ago they were doing Karaoke. Now they are running around the house screaming and chasing each other. This will be a fun evening. I just brought the ice cream cake and pizza back. There will be food soon. Later there will be movies on the projector.

Rocks And Stones Will Break My Bones

The last 30 hours or so I’ve been having another of my periodic kidney stone episodes. It started just as I was getting ready to leave work Tuesday then got worse over the next few hours. I was pretty miserable overnight, even after I took some pain killers I still had from last time. The pain killers did let me sleep a little bit. Not continuously, but for an hour or so at a time sometimes. By morning I’d passed a few small stones (at least 3, maybe more).

I’d hoped to go to work Wednesday, but in the morning I was better but not great. So I planned to just come in for my first meeting a few hours later. When that time came I got dressed and showered, but then as I was about to head out the door I started getting faint and nauseous . So I reluctantly rescheduled the meeting and then just crashed.

Aside from a quick trip to the Doctor (Brandy made me go) I have basically been asleep off and on ever since. The Doctor gave me more pain killers and a bunch of antibiotics to fight off the infection, etc. I think (hope) I’m done passing stones for now, but I’ve been running a 102 fever from the associated infection.

Fun.

About 30 minutes ago I took a second pain killer (Oxy) and so at this very instant I’m feeling better than I have since I left work yesterday. Things are still uncomfortable, but the pain killers have me in a happy place anyway and I feel semi-functional. Still wouldn’t want to ger all that far away from the bathroom though.

The doctor is starting me (once again) on a series of tests and is reffering me to a specialist. I started down this road in Pennsylvania, then again in Florida, but each time I’ve ended up moving before it got anywhere. Basically, someone my age having regular (a couple times a year) kidney stones and UTIs is very rare and unusual even taking into account my non-ideal diet, general state of health, etc.

In Florida I got further down the investigative path than ever before. I went from the Primary Care doctor who just had the usual “take pain killers and antibiotics and suffer through it” to a urologist who ran a whole bunch of tests and basically determined that he could not tell why I was developing so many of these and so he reffered me to a kidney specialist who wanted to start a whole new round of detailed tests to try to find just what was wrong with my kidneys, and therefor how to treat it. But then the doctor died and then I moved. So we got no more information there.

So once again I start the cycle. I’ll go to the urologist in a few weeks. They will do a bunch of tests. Maybe they will find something new. If not, they’ll send me to a kidney specialist and then I’ll do a lot more tests. Hopefully then they will find a cause.

So far none of these kidney stone episodes have been VERY bad. Some pain killers, some antibiotics, and a couple days of rest, and it is over. I haven’t needed the ultrasound treatments or surgery. But… the fact that since the first episode in 1995 this has gone from being a one time thing, to once every couple years, to once every three or four months… with additional related UTIs in between… is troubling. It *would* be nice to know what the underlying cause is so that I might be able to start doing things to make it happen less often.

Sigh. Oh well. The pain killer is working quite nicely at the moment though. I almost feel normal. Or at least I don’t care. Of course I am also quite loopy at the moment and shouldn’t drive and such. Hopefully by morning I’ll be in good shape to go to work. I don’t like missing work. I don’t like being sick.

Brandy says I shouldn’t go to work unless my fever drops below 100 and I don’t have to run to the bathroom every few minutes. Spoilsport! :-)

Fannie Dodson Ramseur

It has been way too long since I posted an ancestor. My only excuse is that it has been a busy couple of months. The next one in order is my Father’s Father’s Father’s Mother, Fannie Dodson Ramseur.

Pictures are getting scarce in this generation and while I have pictures of John Russell Minter‘s next wife, who acted as step-mother to all of Fannie’s children after her death, I have none of Fannie herself.

I don’t have a whole lot on Fannie other than the fact that she was born in 1845 in North Carolina, married in 1868, had six children, then died tragically at age 36 in 1881:

There was a fire in the John Russell Minter home in Sedalia, SC on 15 Mar 1881. Daughter Fannie’s dress caught fire before the fireplace. Her mother Fannie, pregnant with a near-term boy, rushed to help and her clothes also caught on fire. Daughter Fannie died that day; Mother Fannie and baby died 10 days later.

Oh, and one other thing, not really about her, but close I guess. She was the sister of Stephen Dodson Ramseur who was the youngest Confederate General during the Civil War. I have a biography of him in my very large pile of books I want to read, but I have not yet read it.

So her brother has a Wikipedia entry, and her daughter Josephine married Nathaniel Barksdale Dial who also has a Wikipedia entry. That’s the closest I’ve gotten so far to an ancestor with a Wikipedia entry. Which isn’t to say that close, but one and two degrees away I guess. :-) I know there will eventually be ancestors with Wikipedia entries of their own, but I’m not sure just how deep I’ll have to go to get there yet. :-)

DVD: The Third Man

It has been almost a month now, I have been so negligent. But I did watch a DVD! The Third Man had arrived from Netflix way back in something like February. In all the stuff that was going on it sat and sat and sat and never got watched. One night while Amy was off with friends Brandy and I sat down to watch it.

Brandy was… how shall we say it… underwhelmed. Thought basically nothing happened and it was very slow. Which of course it was. It is basically an atmosphere movie. Black and white. Moody. Very slowly developing and unwinding. And of course without a happy ending.

Given that, I actually liked it. This is the second time I have seen it. A number of years ago Ron sent me a version of it and I watched it. The one Ron had sent me was from before the resoration though. This time I watched the restored rereleased version and the quality difference was amazing. They did an incredible job. In any case, although I must admit I did briefly fall asleep at one point, it was not because of the movie, it was because I was very tired. I wouldn’t watch this movie all that many times, but I did like it.

Of course, a BIG part of why I liked it was the music. (Short sample of the zither music here.) I really was mesmerized by the soundtrack. That is the part of the movie that really grabbed me the most.

Gotta love the zither.

My Train With Harry

A MissSmish recently contacted me and said she had used an old photograph of mine as the basis of a picture she had drawn and wanted permission to use it. Of course I said it was fine. The Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling picture on the right is the result. Click through to her site for a full size version.

Eleven

According to my calculations (taking account of things like years not being an even number of days, leap years, the time she was born, etc) Amy will be exactly eleven years old in just about two and a half hours, at 21:36 UTC. (That’s 5:36 PM Eastern, 2:36 PM Pacific for those of you without UTC skills.)

Congratulations Amy, welcome to 11.

Saturn Nearing the End?

Back on 30 Jan 2004 I posted that my Saturn had finally reached the point at which I had always said I would get a new car… namely, I got a repair estimate for more than the value of the car. It was burning oil and they said it needed some major overhaul or whatnot to fix it. Well, I just added oil more often, and it has been fine for another 2 years and 9 months.

But today I took it in for routine service (way overdue, the last year or so has not been good for those sorts of things) and they say the clutch is barely hanging on and could go at any moment. That’ll be $1100 or so to replace. Plus it needs work on the brakes ($350). Plus a new horn ($100). Plus a new Oxygen sensor ($150), plus the regular routine service ($200). Add taxes and all the other random charges and you are over $2000. Kelley Blue Book gives the value at $1700 or so if it was in “Fair” condition… and of course unless I did all the work listed above, it would not be in “Fair” condition. So “as is” it is worth a lot less than that, if anything at all.

So… looks like the call for now is… fix the brakes (since it could be a safety issue) and do the usual fluid changes and such, but nothing else. I’ll then take the car back and drive it until it stops moving. Then I will buy a new car.

It would be really nice if it could make it until January or so. But the dealerships opinion is that it probably won’t and it is rather lucky it hasn’t died already. But, we’ll see. I’ll drive real gentle like.

It is a 1996 Saturn SL2 with 175000 and change on it. That isn’t a bad life. It did OK.

Every single car I have ever been the primary driver on… with the possible exception of the Toyota Corrolla that got totalled, I don’t remember… died between 175000 and 180000 miles. The 1976 Dodge Colt did. The 89 Ford Taurus did. I don’t remember the Corrolla. I should. But I don’t. I didn’t have that car that long.

Anyway… we’d prefer to wait as long as possible, but I guess we should start car shopping pretty much ASAP and see what is out there in price ranges we are comfortable with.

Tis Back

Took a little longer than I thought cause I had to figure out a few things on the DSL router, but Cronus (meaning the web cam and the Wiki) is now fully back online. (It was partially online awhile ago.)

And we’re here, about to sleep at the new place for the first time. A few minutes ago it suddenly got quiet, so I’m thinking maybe Amy, Brandy and Roscoe have fallen asleep. I’ll go join them shortly.

We didn’t get everything moved, so we’ll do a bit more next weekend. But we are now actually LIVING at the new place.

Anyway, it is late and we have a meeting at Amy’s school in less than 8 hours, and we have to have the truck back before that… so I’m going to go crash.

Closing Up

In a few moments I’ll be shutting down the computer here to move it to the new house. DSL supposedly was put in place there on Friday. We’ve got a rent a truck full of some furniture and other things. It isn’t fully loaded yet, but we’re going to make one trip with whatever gets loaded before the pizza we just ordered gets here. I’m intending the computer to be in that load and part of what gets unloaded and set up at the new place tonight. But it may end up being tomorrow.

The goal is to have everything that won’t fit in a car moved this weekend. Anything that is left after that, we can bring one carload at a time. But all the big stuff… tonight and tomorrow.

While this computer is being moved, the wiki and the web cam will be down. I’m sure you will all greatly miss both. But they will be back soon. Downtime could be anywhere from 3 hours to 24 hours though. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, as soon as I get this posted, Cronus will get shut down and boxed, so I can move the desk it is on.