a time of pain and healing

ORMC North Towers, where my wife is currently recovering

My wife had a rather serious back operation last Thursday. She and her surgeon spent over five hours working to clean up all the damage due to psoriatic arthritis around her back and spine. In addition, the surgeon implanted a new pain-control system to replace one manufactured by Medtronics, and which, as far as I’m concerned, has been pure junk. My wife believed that this operation would be like her others, that’s she’d be out in two, three days tops. But because of all the work the current surgeon had to do, she’ll be in the hospital a good week before she’s discharged.

The south side where the operation took place.

The first day she was in, the day of the surgery, was a very long day that spanned from 4am until she was moved into her room at 7:30 pm. Over five hours in surgery, another five in recovery. She checked in at 5:30am, and the operation started three hours later. A long tough day for both of us, far tougher for her being under the knife. But she is recovering, and her voice is getting stronger every day. Tonight she was back to her usual tone. But she’s still got a ways to go yet . She hasn’t even started any in-hospital physical therapy.

All of this time gives me time to clean and clear out as much space as possible around the house for when I bring her home. I can’t wait to bring her home.

Interesting Event

While I was there visiting yesterday evening I witnessed what appeared to be a get-together of some sort. I didn’t stop to ask as I didn’t want to intrude, but I did grab a quick photo.


If you’re curious the flag itself was black and white, not red, white and blue. I believe the hashtag refers to the Austin Strong Foundation ( http://www.austinstrong.org/ ). I photographed this late afternoon. When I left to go home two hours later, it was dark. And the entire street was filled with what looked like big-rig tow trucks, with all their yellow lights on. Again, I don’t know what it was all about, right there. But I can guess.

The Cameras I’m Using

Once again I used my iPhone 11 Pro Max. I did have my Olympus E-M1.2 with the 12-40mm PRO, but the hospital won’t let me bring it in, and so I left it concealed in my car. I’m also continuing my conversion of the photos I take into black and white using Snapseed. In Snapseed I use a bit of HDR to flatten the exposure range a bit and bring up detail in both shadows and highlights. I then use the B&W tool to increase brightness a bit as well as add a bit of contrast.

I am, at best, an enthusiast. Unfortunately camera equipment has gotten so expensive that I will never be able to afford any of the latest releases from any manufacturer. It’s no accident I waited until just recently to purchase my E-M1.2 for $850. To me that’s still a lot of money, but far less than the original $2,000 introductory price five years ago. It’s a great camera, and the lenses I have for it range from great to incredible (again, all purchased on sale). But the camera on my iPhone 11 is no slouch in the right kind of light. Florida can provide an awful lot of good light, which makes for great photo opportunities. And while I like out-of-focus areas in my photos from time to time, I’m more interested in documenting the story. Either camera (iPhone and Olympus) is quite capable of that.

Unfortunately the writing is on the wall. The camera companies are building and selling new cameras that only the very well heeled can afford. These stratospheric prices are going to drive the rest of us to our smart phone cameras, and those cameras are more than capable of giving excellent results for a fraction of the price.

the current state of ios 14

That’s not my iPhone 12. I still have my iPhone 11 Pro Max.

It’s been a while since I penned my mini-screeds about iOS 14 and what I disliked, nay despised, about iOS 14. My biggest gripe was and still is about the lack of a phone speed dialing widget. That’s still missing and looks to be gone forever. That’s why I turned to Shortcuts in an attempt to create a replacement.

Until 14.4 landed, which is the current release, I was still having the occasional problem where my Shortcuts’ speed dialing would stop working. Touch a shortcut to dial, and it just hung. I removed the widget when it did that one time, then put it back. The Shortcuts’ widget was blank; no speed dial buttons at all. The only way to correct it was to reboot my friggin’ iPhone. As of 14.4 that seems to have been fixed.

Another problem was with Apple CarPlay. I now drive an Acura 2020 MDX because I discovered that my 67-year-old ass wound up in a world of hurt if I drove for any amount of time in the Toyota Prius. My wife was having the same issues as a passenger. So six months ago we traded in her Prius for the MDX, and have been in a lot better physical shape since. We don’t drive very far in retirement, so I believe, barring any unforeseen catastrophe, we’ll have that vehicle for a very long time. It was meant to be our travel car before the pandemic, but you can see how that worked out…

One of the MDX’s features was the ability to use Apple CarPlay. That has been something of a mixed bag. When it works, it’s wonderful. Getting it to work consistently is the issue. Too many times I’ll plug in my iPhone into the MDX, and the MDX will say it can’t see it. I’ve used multiple cables to no avail.

Another odd problem with CarPlay concerns Siri and hand-free dialing. On more than one occasion Siri would enter a state where she could not dial out. I’d ask her to call someone, and she’d hem and haw around and come back saying she couldn’t complete it. Those faults are fixed with iPhone reboots as well. But like I wrote earlier, when CarPlay works, it’s wonderful. And that problem seems to have been fixed in iOS 14.4 as well.

I’m not about to sing the praises of iOS 14. All I’ll say is that considering the alternative, Android, iOS 14 is the lesser of two evils.