All posts by mikestrock

Forty Three years ago today

Forty three years ago today, my brother and I were upstairs at my grandparents house in Edmonds. There had been a very loud boom, and my grandparents thought that one of us had fallen out of bed.

We were staying with my grandparents because my parents had been in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for a conference for my dad’s work. They were flying back from Atlanta that day.

That was the day that Mt. St. Helens exploded. My mom got some great photos of it from the plane as they flew back from Atlanta.

It is the year we learned about a crotchety old man name Harry S. Truman, who was an innkeeper on Mt. St. Helens who refused to leave “his mountain.” He died in the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Along with a few others.

Ash spread far and wide and drifted (from what I understand) even to Japan.

It was a crazy day. Probably one of the biggest events of my early childhood that I remember.

1,826 days ago

1,826 days ago, I was laying in the emergency room of our local hospital. I had had blood work done in the morning, because I was having a problem breathing. After I would walk 25-60 feet, I would have to stop and catch my breath.

So I went and had blood work done. I received a call shortly afterwards that said “You are low on blood. Go to the ER immediately.”

So off I trudged to the emergency room. When I got there, they gave me four transfusions of blood. At that point, I was feeling fantastic. I said “I feel good. I can go home now, right?”

They said no. I had to have more tests done. I had a couple CT scans done, and the emergency room doctor walked into my room a couple hours later.
Dr. Gregory Burke. He looked at me with a straight face and said “It’s bad. It’s bad. It’s really, really bad.”

I was confused. And concerned. He explained that I had a tumor in my colon, which was cancerous. I needed to have the tumor removed. He didn’t know what stage the cancer was, but he was trying to find me a bed in another hospital where I could go and get the tumor removed.

(Funny story. I went back to the hospital a couple of years later and asked to see Dr. Burke. I thanked him for finding the tumor, and for his assistance. I thought he was going to cry. He said I was the first person in 25 years of being an emergency room doctor that had come back to thank him, especially after a diagnosis like mine.)

It took (I believe) three days for them to find a bed for me. I was transferred to Swedish First Hill, where I had the tumor removed. I was there for eleven days.

Shortly after leaving First Hill, I met with my oncologist for the first time. She said ‘You have stage 4 terminal colon cancer. You have 18-24 months to live. If there is anything that you have stopped eating because it was bad for you, you can start eating it again.” (She rescinded that a year later when I seemed to be improving and was gaining ‘too much’ weight, after losing 43 pounds from the initial colon cancer surgery).

Went through chemo. Went through a couple more surgeries, including one to remove another tumor that had grown in my stomach from the metastasizing of the colon cancer.

But five years later, I’m still here. I was declared in remission about two years ago. I still get checked every four months or so for any new growth, but so far, thank God, I have not had any new growth.

Along the way, I’ve met many people who have cancer. I try to be a positive light for them, whether they are someone I actually know, or someone I just meet in passing. Sometimes I fail. Most of the time, I think that I am able to give them hope. We all need a little bit of hope.

Anyway, that is my story till now.

God is good. He’s really the reason I’m still here.

People are Funny

I was at the gas station the other day, filling my wife’s car up with gasoline. Normally, I just get gas at the local Costco, but because she works for Safeway, after a certain amount of spending, we get a discount off the gasoline if you buy it from Safeway. So since we had $1/gallon off, I decided to take her car and get gas at the local Safeway that has a gas station attached.

So I get there, I get out of the car and start pumping gas. In the next aisle, a gentleman pulls in, gets out of his car and starts pumping as as well.
He looks at me and in a friendly manner says ‘Look like you’ve had an operation!’

I think to myself “You have no idea”

I said “Yes, I’ve had a few.” I go on for a few minutes while the cars are gassing up to explain my hydrocephalus story, and he says at the end ‘Wow. You’ve been through a bit.”

I laughed and said “You have no idea. I was diagnosed almost five years ago with terminal colon cancer. Declared ‘in remission’ about 2 years ago.”

He said “Wow. I lost my dad to cancer just about three weeks ago” (Keep in mind, this guy was probably in his late sixties, early seventies).

I explained that my dad had been diagnosed with B-Cell lymphoma shortly after I had been diagnosed, and he had passed away in January of 2020. I also explained (which I have told other people the same thing) that I wished my dad was still here healthy, even if it meant I was still fighting cancer.

He said “Your father would be proud of you, and the fact that you are willing to discuss your story with people. It gives them hope.”

Never thought of it that way. Just thought, well, you asked me about the scars on the side of my head, I’ll explain my story.

Anyway, it was a feel good little meeting. We shook hands (Covid be damned) and I thanked him and we went about our way.


Jan 1 – H – 40,282
C – 62,874
C – 71,327 when sold (12/4/2023)

For the last several years, I’ve wanted to keep track of the number of miles that we drive. Not for any purpose other than to have a history.
I always forget on 12/31 of the previous year to make a note of the mileage.

Not this year! I remembered.

So now I have a record, and we can see what the year entails, mileage wise.


Bears. Eagles. Big Horn Sheep. Owls.

I’ve always wanted to spend a week or so in Yellowstone National Park. Photographing bears, and eagles, and owls, and big horn sheep.

I found this video on YouTube today, and while this guy actually works in Yellowstone, thus is able to spend 3 months at a time in Yellowstone, I just would like to spend a week or so exploring. But the video is super interesting.

Three Months in Yellowstone

The Cult of iPhone

I’ve been an iPhone user for quite a few years. But I also have dabbled in the Android world. I’ve tried, many times, to leave the Cult of iPhone, because for me, there are quite a few benefits to Android that are (IMO) better than iPhone.

So why do I stay with the iPhone?

Three reasons:

1) IMessage
2) Facetime
3) CarPlay

1 – I have five kids. Four of whom have iPhones. So, communicating with them securely, using iMessage is a no brainer. Do we need to have secure communications? Probably not. But it’s a secondary level of protection.
2 – I have five kids. Four of whom have iPhones. Two of whom have children (my grandchildren). Being able to see them, especially when one of them is far away, is indispensable. Yes, I could use Zoom. But FaceTime is built in.

3 – I spend an inordinate amount of time in the car. CarPlay is something that makes using my phone in the car (HandsFree mind you) a breeze, and it works so much better than Android Auto. I’ve tried to love Android Auto, but it has so many quirks as compared to CarPlay that it is difficult to use, at least in my usage case.

On September 7,2022, Apple will announce their new iPhones. I have an older iPhone, and look forward to the possibility of upgrading my phone to a newer, larger model. We shall see what the rumors and the reality shows us on Wednesday.

Tiny houses and THOWs

After spending our second mini vacation in three years at the Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, Washington, I think I have come to the realization that while I want a tiny house, I don’t want a THOW (tiny house on wheels). THOWs are for people who want to move around with their tiny house. It is also for people who can deal with stairs or a ladder to get into their bedroom. Which is fine for today, but when I get old (ok, older), I won’t necessarily want to have to climb stairs to get to my bedroom, at least that is my thinking at this point.

If I wanted one of those, I would look into getting a small Class C motorhome.

What I really would like, after much deliberation within my brain, is a small house. Three bedrooms (Master, office, and second office/spare bedroom for Laurie). I would like a bathroom with a walk in shower. I would like a medium size living room, medium size kitchen and a three car garage. On about 5 acres of land. Far enough away from people that I’m not bothered, but close enough to civilization that I can get high speed internet and UPS deliveries.

Very difficult to come by on the west side of the mountains in Washington state. Maybe down the road. But I really believe, as much as I love the THOW concept, it isn’t for us.

I think we will continue to go to Leavenworth Tiny House village (and hopefully next year Mount Hood Tiny House Village), but I don’t think it is a long term solution for us.

Apple CarPlay versus Android Auto

When I purchased my car in 2019 (Chevrolet Spark), I didn’t initially know that the car supported CarPlay or Android Auto.
I purchased the car with no options whatsoever. So I have manual windows, manual door looks, no key fob that locks and unlocks doors, etc.
But I found that the car supported CarPlay and Android Auto.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both allow you to do the following

– Navigation via the phone, either using Google Maps or Apple Maps
– Make and receive phone calls hands free
– Send and receive text messages hands free

Those are the basics. I’m sure there are more things, but those are the items I use it for 99.9% of the time

CarPlay has some significant advantages over Android Auto.

– With CarPlay, when you tell the system to read new messages, it will read ONLY your new messages. Android Auto will read ALL your messages.
– With CarPlay, if you are having the system read your messages, or replies, and a new message comes in, you will be given the opportunity to
read that message after your current messages have been read.

I find that CarPlay is more robust, and is more mature than Android Auto. While I prefer Android, because of the limitations of Android Auto, I have chosen to stay with iOS and CarPlay for now.

Windows annoyances and the Mac

I’ve used Microsoft Windows since 3.0. I’ve used most versions of Windows in beta form since Windows 95 as well.

Recently, my main laptop died (I only buy laptops about once every seven years or so). So I switched to using a desktop.

Recently, I’ve been helping my father in law out by staying at his house. So I switched to a different older Dell laptop that had Windows 10 on it. Worked fine. It’s slow, but it worked.

I emphasize worked.

Windows (in it’s infinite wisdom) decided to install updates on Friday night. After that, when it rebooted, it would get about 2-3% progress and then it would turn the laptop off. So I would turn the computer back on. It would progress 2-3% more, then turn off.

Finally, it got to 100%. At that point, I could log in and the machine would turn itself off.

Fabulous. I don’t have time for this. So I did a complete re-install of Windows. Worked fine, until I did a Windows update. Then I ran into the same issue.

So I gave up. I installed UBuntu Linux. I got the VPN working to my office. Works fine. I can use Remote Desktop to get into my work desktop and get work done. It’s not a long term solution.

Long term, my plan is to buy a new laptop. But I’m going to pick up a Macbook Air. I had one for about four months last year, until I decided to sell it because I was short on cash.

Big mistake. I loved the laptop. I was able to use it for everything I do, which is mainly through the browser, and then through Remote Desktop once I connect to work. I use Lightroom for photography,which works wonderfully and faster than my regular home desktop. Plus, it weighs about 2.3 pounds. My old laptop weighed 8 pounds.

Annoying, yes. But I think it’s time to move to the Apple side for my laptop needs.

Heat waves, and tiny houses

We’ve been having a minor heat wave in the PNW for the last few days. It was 100+ the last couple of days, but it has cooled down to a respectable ~80 degrees today.

Got me to thinking more about the tiny house idea.

The tiny house we stayed in when we were in Leavenworth, and many tiny houses, have mini-split systems. They both heat and cool the house.

Because the tiny house is so small (250 sq ft), it takes very little time to either heat or cool the space.

Would have been a great thing the last few days….

I had a guy come to my house about eight months ago to replace a thermostat. I talked to him about putting a mini split in the house I currently live in. He said it would work well for such a small house I live in, but then I asked him the cost to do so.


I’m sure there are other alternatives, and getting different bids would be a must. Good to know.