Don

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Conan

Our cat Conan died of a kidney infection today (we had to have him put down). We had him 18-1/2 years.  He seems to have known it was his last year because, unlike in the past, since Spring he had made a point of being outside on every beautiful day and enjoying it (and trying to get us to come out and enjoy it with him). His last day outside, yesterday, was one such day, balmy, storm-a'comin' weather, the kind he liked the most. Today, the temperature plummeted drastically, so he really did get the best out of his last year, as we had a mild autumn up till now. He is deeply missed.

Ironically, his coming and going was foretold in this old Irish jig I found searching in some Irish ruins.  🙂 The melody is in the attached midi file that should play automatically if you click on it.

The Legend of Conan
(Irish Traditional)

Once there was a kitten

Conan was his name

He grew to nearly 20 pounds

But a kitten he remained

He grew to be ferocious

Feared throughout the land

Hush, my child and you shall hear

The legend of Conan

A harder working kitten

The world has never seen

He'd guard the yard from front to back

And everywhere between

In the dead of nighttime

Or in the early morn

He'd be out on sentry

With his people safe and warm

Oh God, now You've callen him home

The bravest cat ever known

Thanks a lot for the loan

The neighbor cats would scramble

When he was on patrol

He'd sniff and scratch and sometimes fight

To keep things in control

But now the yard is quiet

Old Conan's laid to rest

He fought the fight that no one wins

But gave his very best

Oh God, well we had him so long

Can't believe that he's gone

Can you help us be strong

Once there was a kitten

Conan was his name

He grew to nearly 20 pounds

But a kitten he remained

He grew to be ferocious

Feared throughout the land

Hush, my child for you have heard

The legend of Conan


Don's Mexican Adventure

I just wanted to let everyone know that my $1600 laser surgery at the Mendez Clinic in Tijuana came out well. I tested 20/20, but they say the vision will vary for awhile. I was a little trepidatious about going, because I had found the clinic on the web. I did a search for "Lasik" (the name of the technique) and "Mmexico" and came up with just a few hits. Then further research came up with a few more. I called up the different clinics and the one I got the best feeling about was the Mendez Clinic. Later I found out from my friend James he'd seen on TV that lots of Americans, especially senior citizens, were going to Mendez (Noble is the mother's maiden name, Mendez the father's last name) for eye surgery. After I had my surgery, I ran into an American from Las Vegas, who said that Dr. Mendez Noble had a very good reputation among people in Las Vegas, and he knows 5 people who got their vision corrected by Dr. Mendez Noble, all with rave results. Mendez Noble's father, Dr. Mendez, operates a clinic out of Mexicali. A friend went there recently and said Stevie Nicks had been there.

I flew into the San Diego airport on the last of the low spring fares ($218/round trip because I bought it on the internet— would have been double or more on the phone). The clinic sent a college student to pick me up, who charged me $35 to drive me to my hotel (Camino Real, a 3-star hotel about 8 blocks from the clinic); it's about a 30 mile trip. 

I had some pretty good Mexican food while there, but nothing really spectacular. The hotel was quite nice, and had a decent restaurant. Food is pretty cheap there, but most things in the stores are about what you'd pay in the US. Although everything is priced in pesos, I always paid in dollars and got dollars in change. Tijuana, being on the border, is a much more expensive city than other Mexican cities — they're basically on a dollar economy. I was surprised that so many cab drivers and store attendants spoke no English (although most everyone in the hotel and at the clinic spoke English). I was also surprised at all the southern Californians (the most intelligent, on-the-ball people in the US, in my opinion) who spoke fluent Spanish. 

Thursday I had my exam, about 45 minutes. They make a computer-image "map" of your eye so they know where to change the lens for the correction they want. Friday is surgery day, which takes about 2 hours but actual surgery is about 2 minutes per eye. I was scared that I would move my eye, since it is very important to keep looking at the light (if you move your eye they have to wait 3 months for the cut that they made to heal and then start again). As I understand it, they make a semi-circle incision in the lens and then do some kind of scattered laser effect to flatten it out (if you're nearsighted they flatten it — they do something else if you're farsighted). 

I never experienced any pain and they didn't give me any pain pills, although when Diane had it e in Nashville (for $5000), they gave her pain pills for the first day of healing (that leads me to think that Mendez is better at doing it than Diane's Vanderbilt University surgeon, Wang). As you may know, the Mexicans and Canadians are ahead of the Americans when it comes to eye surgery, since they've been doing it longer. American doctors often go to Mexico (especially Guadalajara) or Canada to apprentice with the foreign doctors. 

The third day was just a check-up in the morning, some drops for the eyes and then I was sent on my way. The only glitch in my trip was the Mexican student, who was supposed to pick me up at 13:00 (1 p.m.) at my hotel, but had not shown up by 13:15. My plane was leaving at 15:00 from San Diego, so I got nervous and got a cab to the border. I told the cabbie, in broken Spanish, that I had to get to the San Diego airport. He drove me to a place where these Mexican-Americans with California plates park on the Mexican side of the border waiting for a fare to San Diego somewhere. They're not cab drivers, they just use their personal cars. They can only do 2 cross-border trips a day, because the computer keeps track. Upon entering the US, the guards, who know these guys, just ask the passenger if he's a citizen. I said "yes," and I was in the US. I suppose if I looked Mexican he may have asked for a driver's license. That trip cost me $50. 

The only other remarkable part of the trip was that Newt Gingrich was on the plane going from San Diego to Atlanta. He seemed pretty well adapted to his new life, very relaxed and not trying to be noticed or not noticed. Only a few people remarked on it. 

In total, I spent about $2300 for the trip out and surgery, but only really needed to spend $2200. Today Diane and I will ceremoniously throw out all our contact lenses and solutions. The only downside is that now, instead of taking OFF my glasses to read small stuff, I have to put reading glasses ON to read. There's no cure for old age yet, but when they come up with one, I'll see if I can get it cheaper in Mexico! 


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