Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How about an "in character" post?

Howdy, all. The name's Preston...Henry Preston. I'm a mutant residing in Paragon City, RI, also conveniently known as the City of Heroes. Glancing at me in a charcoal grey suit, plum shirt, and crimson tie, you'd never know the awesome power that resides within me. I wear dark glasses to hide the starlight glow from my eyes when I'm in my civvies. Why advertise, right?

I'm the proud owner of Preston Corp. Industries, bringing "Tomorrows advances today!" It's mine...mostly. I've managed to keep only my kids as the board of directors. All two of them. My son, Gary, (AKA: Gamron), wants to take the company global. He's looking into realty in Japan, India, Germany, and Ireland. What can I say? He's a trust fund baby with billions at his fingertips, and his sister, Katie, (AKA: Krispy Katie), is cheering him on.

But we have problems right here at home, and the three of us are always shedding our "costumes" to don out real work clothes. Personally, I like ditching the board room to hit the streets as the one and only ADJECTIVE-NOUN!

Okay...Not nearly as impressive as some of the other heroes flying, leaping, teleporting, and speeding along the streets of Paragon City. To be honest, other than the safety of my kids, I take very little seriously. I often find myself chuckling inwardly as some citizen shows gratitude for me rescuing them. "Thank you, Adjective-Noun! That was a great save!" It sounds as silly as my name, which was my intent when I registered with the Genetic Investigation and Facilitation Team (G.I.F.T.).

More amusing is taking my silliness into battle. Lots of gangs to put down in Paragon City. Like the Trolls. An exotic drug hit the streets called Superadine, and the Trolls are those who not only became addicted, but abused the drug beyond all reasoning. The result was them mutating, gaining green skin, small horns on their heads, and incredible strength. It also massacred their brains, making English a second language for these idiots. So when I run into a group of them, and one shouts, "I crush you," my response is, "I teach you English!" Then I hit him hard enough to knock him across the street.

Hmmm...Seems I skipped some vital information there. You see, I've managed to climb from a lowly security level of one all the way to fifty. It took a lot of time to pull this off, and I mastered three groups of powers along the way.

The primary one - the one that has ruined more of my expensive suits than combat itself - is my spines. Nasty, bony protrusions that can literally explode from my skin. It's lots of fun, especially when the poison my body generates coats those spines. That poison slows my opponents, making it harder for them to attack with any real speed, and difficult to run away once they realize they've bitten off more they can chew when it comes to taking me on in a fight.

My secondary ability is regeneration. I have to say, I'm thankful for having it, because gaping holes in my skin after a bunch of sharp bones have exploded from me would be a literally bloody mess. It's also handy to have when I trip and fall from the top of a building. Falling 40 stories and relocating a leg up behind my back hurts only for a minute, and by the time I've struggled to my feet, my body is healed.

The final power set I've learned to control is Body Mastery. It took some time to get a handle on this one, but thanks to this group of abilities, I have greater accuracy and a few energy blasts I can sling at baddies.

It's great being a hero, but...Well, I must confess that I have some really silly moments during some fights. Like taking on the militant group, The Council. Real gung-ho jerks intent on taking over the world by any means necessary; usually those means fall under the category of violence. Not if Adjective-Noun has anything to say about it! long as I remember what the heck I'm doing.

Once, I was facing down this Equinox Adjutant - he's one of the Council's scientifically created vampyri - and he's tougher than the silly minions that run around trying to hurt me. I crank up the spines, target him, and I'm ready to pin him in place with a little something called "Impale." He won't be running away in fear because I'll have virtually nailed him in place. But, concentration strays, and I activate the wrong power. I'm suffused with a green glow as my body instantaneously heals the massive amounts of damage that I haven't taken. In that moment, I find myself shouting, "Halt, villain...or I'll heal myself!"

Not exactly one of my finer moments.

Then there are the moments when I wake up and realize I've forgotten to activate something vital, like Focused Accuracy. I power this baby up, and I'm sure to hit at least 95% of my targets. Without it, I have all the accuracy of a tuna sandwich. So I forget to crank it up, and I'm battling away, wondering why I've managed to successfully attack the wall, the ceiling, and the floor, while all of my opponents are smacking me around and laughing at my inability to hit them. In short order, I'm hugging the floor and wondering what the heck happened.

Well, thank goodness for the hospital transporters. Drained of life, the sensors spread around the city pick up on my depleted form and whisk me away to the nearest hospital...except the Council is fond of blocking safe passage from their bases, and I find myself in a cell. Then I have to fight my way past a door that's tougher than some of the base leaders. Now how am I supposed to bring that back to other heroes as they gather in Atlas Park to talk about their escapades? "Yeah...I fought a door the other day. Kicked the crap out it. I tell ya, that door won't be causing any more problems in this city." Yeah...definitely a moment of pride.

Then, of course, there was this time I was scanning a group of Zombies, and was trying to think of the best way to dive in to take them down, when -

Hang's ringing.

*sigh* Kids today. That was Katie, who's classified by the Federal Bureau of Super-powered Affairs as a "controller." She's a fourteen-year-old fluff piece that adds crowd control to a team! A TEAM! So what does the girl do? She runs off alone to handle various crises, and then finds herself in trouble. Like now. She has a bunch of Vahzilok chasing her around the sewers and wants daddy to come get her out of the mess she created. I'm off to save my heroic daughter from herself.

You folks stay safe. And if you're a hero like me, "Go. Hunt. Kill Skuls."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Scientists find new way to piss me off.

Warning: Some disturbing facts about animal cruelty are in this post. Skip this one if such things disturb you.

It's the start of my day. I hobble over to the computer and turn it on, then make my way into the kitchen to make coffee. I limp back to the computer, double-click IE, and take pain meds. My home page pops up. It's AOL, and I've chosen that as my home page because that's one of two places where I get important e-mails. The page starts cycling through the various stories about sports, entertainment,

Sometimes the news is actual news. Like the other day, when Australian police were asking for help in solving a murder case; the deceased man had apparently been shot to death with a nail gun to the head, and the x-ray was disturbing to say the least.

But today, the leading news was about "Ruppy." No, this is not Scooby-Doo saying puppy. Here is the article I read:

A team of South Korean scientists has created the world’s first fluorescent puppy, according to New Science magazine.

The cloned beagle, dubbed Ruppy, which is short for Ruby Puppy, made her photographic debut on Thursday. The four-legged experiment looks like a normal pup in daylight, but under ultraviolet light she glows red.

The odd effect was created by cloning cells that include a red fluorescent gene that sea anemones produce.

Ruppy is transgenic, meaning she has genes from another animal. Scientists said they hope this will pave the way to model human diseases in dogs, whose relatively long life-span could make them better study subjects than other animals.

While scientists have created other animals that glow, Ruppy is a first for canines. The magazine said scientists also created four other beagles that share her same red trait.

Byeong-Chun Lee of Seoul National University in South Korea lead the team that created the dogs. Stem cell researcher Woo Suk Hwang was also part of that team. Hwang has come under fire for fraudulent work with human cells, but he also helped create the first cloned dog, Snuppy, and an investigation later validated the dog experiment.

One scientist called the glowing puppy an "important accomplishment." But another dog geneticist doubted the experiment's value, calling the developmental process "laborious, expensive and slow."

Now, when I first saw the article's title, I thought they were making novelty dogs for the super-rich. "For the low, low price of $50,000, you too can own a glow in the dark puppy!" It's silly. It's stupid. It's harmless.

Then I hit paragraph four, and discovered that the adorable puppy has been created for purposes of vivisection. "Human diseases in dogs." Do dogs not have enough diseases of their own? Does the phrase "sicker than a dog" mean anything anymore? There are enough humans in the world with human diseases, and with the signing of a waiver, plenty of studies can be done. When you create a life like that - a living, breathing creature - it's not just property anymore.

I would be more interested if scientists managed to clone a puppy's liver, and just the puppy's liver. Then they stand before the microphones of the press and say, "We have successfully figured out a way to genetically filter out damaging genome, and have recreated a liver that is perfectly viable for transplant should the same puppy need such a thing." No more searching for the perfect donor when someone is in need of new organs. It would be fantastic if the could take a little blood from me, head for the lab while prepping me for surgery, and by the time I'm on the operating table and my pancreas has been removed, a new one that is genetically matched to me, and washed of all faults, it ready to be installed. Ta-da! No more diabetes.

Alas, many stupid things have been done in the name of science, especially with animals. Mind you, I'm not a huge animal rights activist, but I don't think animals should be used when the tests either do nothing or don't have viable results. And because I once did a speech against vivisection, I've read some startlingly stupid things.

Scientists once believed that newts had directional senses other than their eyes. To prove this theory, they took a bunch of newts and cut their eyes out...just to see what happened. How this helped humanity, I have no idea. It certainly didn't help the newts any.

Another experiment I read about involved baboons. Distinctly disproportionate to humans, scientists were using live baboons to study the effects of car impacts. They wanted to see how hurt a human would become. But a human and a baboon have different musculature, and different reflexes. There was no truly viable data that they could truly gather from their experiments. If I remember correctly, someone finally blew the whistle on them when they started using pregnant baboons to see the effects of a crash on a pregnant mother and her fetus.

And so we come to the conundrum of advanced science creating life for the purpose of experimentation. They've been cloning animals for years, and I guess I haven't been paying much attention as to why. My thoughts ran along the lines of Jurassic Park, where they were possibly going to use the technology to bring back animals that humans had brought to extinction, or repopulate species that were dwindling for the same reason. I mean, wouldn't it be amazing if there was a news announcement, "Scientists released 1,000 cloned dolphins into the oceans today in the hopes that they would breed with existing dolphins to begin repopulating the waters."

Instead, the message I received today is, "Scientists have discovered a new way to piss off Rob Meadows, and are now creating transgenic species to study diseases that will affect these animals differently than humans, and progress differently due to accelerated metabolisms. The scientists claim the animals as mere property, and theirs to do with as they please, because they hold the patent on it. Rather than argue against the morals of such a thing, other scientists have chosen the weaker, less morally founded argument of the process being 'laborious, expensive and slow.' Humans with warmer, softer hearts and minds across the globe were pissed, as was Rob."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Grumbles and addiction

*grumble grumble grumble* foot hurts *grumble grumble grumble*. I just woke up, and my right foot is complaining via nerve conduction that it doesn't want to do anything today. That's unfortunate, because if I don't get that blood work done today, Dr. M definitely won't have the results come the 29th. Looks like I may need the cane today.

Meanwhile, Arguskos commented on my last post, and I figured I'd go on about my new JoCo addiction. These are the tunes I was able to find on YouTube and found myself drawn to them. IT's hard to call just one song a favorite, so in no particular order...

1. Re: Your Brains - This, as for many, was my introduction to JC. Zombies had once again entered a GitP conversation, and someone linked to the video made by Spiffworld. I was greatly amused and started clicking more links. I was hooked.

2. Code Monkey - Is there anyone who doesn't like Code Monkey?

3. Skullcrusher Mountain - So you're an evil genius, and your assistant Scarface abducts pretty girls and brings them home. Most amusing is the verse about the gift "you" make for your latest abductee, and ask, "What's with all the screaming?" I was most amused.

4. The Future Soon - This has to be the theme song of all geeks around the world. All those cliques that formed in high school, and it's usually the geeks who come out on top. I mean, Bill Gates came close to building a "warrior robot race"...but only got as far as the programming, Windows.

5. Shop Vac - A rockin' tune about suburban angst. Spiffworld made it both amusing and sad. This song fills a need within me for rock-n-roll.

6. Chiron Beta Prime - I tell ya, there's nothing quite as wonderful as spending the holidays as a prisoner on an asteroid with a bunch of killer robots. And those soylent green wafers aren't bad with a little Cheese Whiz.

7. Betty and Me - This is just one of those funny tunes that deserves a chuckle or two after you've actually paid attention to the lyrics.

8. The Big Boom - According to a bit of reading I've done, JoCo wrote this song in reference to an experience he had with unusually loud thunder. Me? I keep seeing Tom Cruise fleeing giant tripod alien craft.

9. Tom Cruise Crazy - Speaking of Tom, this one actually grew on me. It actually helped that Spiff made an amusing video to go with the amusing song.

10: I Fell Fantastic - Okay, this song is practically my theme song. "What's that? I have an problem? No worries...I have a pill for that." I pop the pills all day, be they painkillers, anti-anxiety meds, cholesterol control, anti-depressants...But a part of me wishes there really was a "steak tastes better pill."

11. That Spells DNA - Believe it or not, it's the title of the song that reminds me of when I was on a Gregory McDonald kick when I was younger. His character, Fletch, finds two men in his apartment, and they claim to be the FBI. Fletch's response was, "Could you spell that?" Kind of nice to have a song bring back a memory from decades ago that wasn't unpleasant.

12. The Presidents - This song brings back memories of the 70's and Saturday morning cartoons. I mean, it could have been a School House Rock song, if not for some of the,
"James Monroe told Europe they could suck it," and "Wilson kicked some ass in World War I." Somehow, I don't think parents would have been pleased by their children wandering around the house singing such things.

13. Podsafe Christmas - There are so many aspects of this song that are amusing that I could go on and on about it. In my head, of course, I get an image of Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks shouting, "Jezuz, what?!?"

14. You Ruined Everything - The video I found of this song is JoCo performing live, and it's just a sweet song about becoming a parent. It speaks to my unfulfilled paternal instincts.

15. Big Bad World One - Yes, I found a video for this one, and the song is actually rather depressing. I'm reminded of potential romances that slipped away because I was afraid of one word: no. When I hear the song, I'm reminded of this absolutely beautiful young woman that works at the nearby Chinese restaurant. Really, she is the most stunning female I've seen in some time. Alas, she's 21 and I'm 41. I haven't been there in over a year, actually, but when I would see her, I always felt like an utter moron when I'd try to speak to her. She's perfect and I'm a troll. And, oddly, this is probably my favorite song by JC, probably because it gives me a valid reason to be depressed.

*grumble grumble grumble* foot STILL hurts *grumble grumble grumble*. I started writing this post an hour ago, and my painkillers are working. I can feel that funky feeling that comes with them, and I'm still in a lot of pain. This is not good.

Oh...Before I hobble off and try to get myself functional enough to get my blood drawn, I've been failing to mention a new problem I've been having. My skin has become so dry that it's been cracking and bleeding! Dr. M has recommended something called "Udderly Smooth" to address the problem. I'm waiting for the aid sent by friends to buy it, but while I was at my pharmacy the other day, I paused to see if they have it. They do, and I paused further to read the label. I then brought the small tub to the pharmacist to ask if this was a joke product. Why? Because the first line in the instruction for use begins, "Wash udder and teat parts thoroughly..."

This is Bor the Barbarian Moo signing off.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Me Two, Big Bad World One

It’s official!

Some may not know him, while others might…His name is Jonathan Coulton, and he is officially PURE AWESOME!

Thanks to a few of the humans, metahumans, and various other creatures roaming GitP, I was exposed to JC’s music being showcased on YouTube. Folks would take his…unique…songs and turn them into rather amusing videos. While the visuals are entertaining enough, it’s the music that was perpetually getting caught in my head. I soon found myself seeking, and finding, various Coulton videos, just to hear the amusing songs over…and over…and over again.

You know what’s really fun? Getting the song “Skullcrusher Mountain” stuck in your brain. Suddenly, you find yourself wandering amongst other humans, softly singing the chorus, just for fun.

And I’m so into you
But I’m way too smart for you
Even my henchmen think I’m crazy
I’m not surprised that you agree
If you could find some way to be
A little bit less afraid of me
You’d see the voices that control me
From inside my head
Say I shouldn’t kill you yet

Ummm…I try not to sing it to people who know I’m considered mentally ill. It’s the sudden rush for a phone that stresses everyone out.

Having become a fan of JC, or JoCo as he seems to call himself on his site, I wanted his music. Alas, I’m in no position to buy it. The best I could do was to create a playlist of YouTube and listen to the few songs I was able to find. A lot of the stuff found in a search is repeated songs, just different performances of the same tunes. What's more, trying to run YouTube in the background of other programs tends to slow my computer to a crawl. My friends are already doing more for me than my family ever would, so asking them to buy things I don’t actually NEED would have been rude at the very least. (I save such requests for the holidays and my birthday.)

Watching some of the videos, JoCo seemed like an approachable guy. He appears to interact with fans more readily than other celebrities. If fact, I get the sense that JC doesn’t deem himself a celebrity, despite taking advantage of the latest and greatest media available, the Internet, and becoming the one thousands of nerds turn to as their lyrical representative.

In fact, I was playing City of Heroes last Saturday, and was with…oh…about 50 other players. We were going to take on the biggest, baddest monster in the game, Hamidon. (He’s a giant, single-cell organism with more power than a single-cell organism has a right to have. His mitochondria are bigger than the average human.) Organizing 50 players is akin to herding cats, so there are lulls filled with a lot of banter. During one lull, I threatened to start “singing” Coulton tunes…again. It was then that another player broadcast, “Wait…is he the one who sings ‘re: Your Brains’?” Once confirmed, the other players said, “I love that song!”

Of course, this being an MMO (currently being played on time that was a gift from someone), the other player actually said, “i <3 that song!” (Somewhere, Webster is weeping for what the net has done to the language.)

Now, I’ve made a promise, mostly to myself, and by extension to JoCo. To give the details would be to violate an unspoken trust between the man and myself. But I reached out to this Internet celebrity and…well, “his people” sent me presents! I wish that I could tout EXACTLY what was sent, but than I’m afraid everyone will be pounding down his virtual door and begging him for stuff too. I did, however, want to tout how utterly awesome it was to receive a response of ANY kind, especially when I was considering writing again with an apology for having bothered him in the first place. He’s someone. I’m no one. Folk like me rarely get a response of any kind, and I was expecting a reply along the lines of, “Are you on crack? If so, keep smoking, because it explains why you’re out of your mind.”

Of course, now I’m tempted to bother him for more stuff. You know…start writing to him like we’re old friends. “Heya, JC! Wassup? Look, could you have John ‘I’m a PC’ Hodgman give me a buzz? I’d like to discuss some of my writing, and if he could lend a hand getting some of my stuff sold. Y’know…get out of this ‘living beneath poverty’ thing, maybe make a few million, and then start paying back the wonderful folk who’ve helped me over the years.”

Cuz, as you all now know, JC and me be homies now.

Seriously…If you’re a fan of his, pay a visit to his site at and check out his tour dates, as well as all the goodies you can get there. And if you send JC a note, let him know it was that total stranger he probably doesn’t remember, Rob Meadows, that sent you to his site to fill his wallet with papery green goodness.

Now, in other news, I didn't go for my blood work again. Why? Because my fridge died AGAIN! The big bad world seemed to score another point against little old me. Unlike JC's song, however, I'd already scored a point with the gifts his people sent me. With my second call to management, I scored another point.

Since they brought my nightmare fridge to me, I've been pointing at various things on it and saying, "This thing needs to either be fixed or replaced." Well, they tried to fix it, and failed, so they finally replaced it!

Add another point on the existential scoreboard for the little guy!

As a bonus, I was leery when I went food shopping yesterday. I bought only enough to get me through until this morning. My actual fear was that after the repair yesterday it would burst into flames and destroy my kitchen. So rather than stock up completely, I lost almost nothing in the process of coping with my sickly fridge.

Thus, when I asked for "10" yesterday, I didn't get it...but I did get two.

OH! I almost forgot to thank Katrascythe and the Valiant Turtle sending me aid. There's a strange feeling that fills me when folks do good deeds for me. Ultimately, I'm pleased and relieved. At the same time, I want to call various family and friends and shout into the phone how their lack of caring hurts in a way that isn't easily explained. So, to those who have shown concern and helped me live, you have my most heartfelt thanks.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Boss, can I take 10?"

In the grand scheme of things, "taking 10" can mean many things. You can take a 10 minute break. You can pause before becoming angry and take 10 deep breaths. In D&D, "taking 10" means a character spends time to achieve a task. On a cosmic scale, taking 10 could mean ten thousand years, or 10 millennium.

Me? I'd like 10 weeks. I mean, between 10 deep breaths and 10 millennium, I think 10 weeks is a reasonable request...Isn't it? I just want 10 weeks of nothing "exciting" happening. Let everything be suspended, status quo, and let me stop fretting over one thing or another.

Yesterday started with a minor miracle. I went to the doctor at 10 AM as requested. Much to my surprise, this turned into the day when people simply didn't show up for their appointments. I was seen by Dr. M quickly...and he yelled at me. Well, not exactly "yell." But I did get a talking to about my meds. I had to make him stop and recognize that despite appearances, I was not abusing my meds.

Allow me to pause a moment and point out that what he knows is what's in my file. He sees a prescription for 120 Xanax to be taken once every six hours, and I had to clarify that although it's written that way, I'm only taking one and a half tablets a day. He sees me going through 150 painkillers in 22 days, but needed to be reminded that I actually stretched it an extra week.

Perception is everything in my case, and I had him calming down a bit by the end of the visit. However, because Dr. G and I have been so preoccupied by my sickly feet, we've overlooked some of the basics, like blood work. Dr. M ordered all kinds of blood draws. We'll be checking my liver, kidneys, and diabetes control...the last of which I fully expect to be a poor result because I've been dealing with infection for so long. He also told me to keep my 29 April appointment to follow up.

One of the things he ordered was a fasting blood glucose, meaning that I could eat and drink nothing before having the blood drawn. So I prepared myself mentally to once again venture out early to get that taken care of.

As I'm fond of reminding folks, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans."

One of the joys of being a diabetic, taking all the meds that I do, and living in one of the hottest States in the Union is that I'm thirsty a lot. At the start of the month, I buy a supply of sugar free powdered drinks. My favorite has become Ocean Spray cranberry drinks. I'm getting plenty of vitamin C each day because of it, and have managed to avoid any serious colds this winter for it.

Last night, when I went to grab an ice cube for a drink refill, I noticed the ice cube was...wet. As in melting kind of wet. Sure enough, each time I went to grab more ice for my drinks, the ice cubes were getting smaller and smaller. My fridge, which usually did some kind of humming every now and again, was completely silent. I knew it wasn't a power issue because the light inside was working. MY assessment was that my refrigerator had died. Certainly, everything inside it was slowly warming up.

There was nothing I could do about it at 10 PM, so I went to bed with a prayer in my head that I was wrong.

And I was...kinda. The first thing I did when I awoke was call management and let them know about the problem. What little I had in the fridge had become inedible. The ice, which can't really spoil, had become tiny cubes drifting in a tray of water. So while I waited for maintenance to show up, I started throwing away everything. An extremely difficult task when taking my finances into consideration.

The head maintenance man arrived and instantly saw the problem. A dial that I had never touched since this unit was brought to me a year and a half ago was turned all the way up, and the lines inside had frozen. The fans had stopped spinning, resulting in no cold air circulating. So he cracked open the fridge's guts and made sure everything defrosted after that dial was turned down. Like Frankenstein's monster coming to life, the fridge started its regular humming, with the fans visibly running properly. In the last few hours, my ice has been turning to ice again, and I still have plenty of powdered drink left...

...but that's it. Everything else spoiled, and I'm off to ask a neighbor if I can borrow money to replenish my food supply. I asked in the office if they would help me get food, but because of the dial I never touched, they blame me. It's in my apartment. I must have toyed with that dial. Thus, it's not their fault, so they have no responsibility for my spoiled food.

By the time everything was settled, it was close to noon...right around the time everyone in that blood lab heads for lunch. By the time they return, and I get in there, it will have reached a time when I'm absolutely famished. I won't be able to wait around, and that whole "fasting blood glucose" thing will be ruined. Now I have to wait until tomorrow to get that done.

So...Really...When do I get a break? How is it that one man can experience so many issues, one right after another. It's never just one thing. It's a series of little issues that pile on top of one another, becoming bigger issues.



Having said that, and with full knowledge of my luck, I'll probably step out later to check the mail, fall, and break my leg. And that, my friends, will be my break.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I was just following orders.

No, I'm not using this as a defense against some crime against humanity. I'm actually complaining about the fact that I was given orders by my doctor, and now I'm paying a price for it. Let us, together, venture into the wilds of mathematics, and see how Rob got himself into trouble...again.

I actually have two PCPs. Let's call them Dr. G and Dr. M. Dr. G is the one I deal with most, and the one who does the least amount of listening to me. As I understand it, he was an army doctor, so he became stuck in a specific way of dealing with patients...patients that aren't me. You see, I have a brain hiding somewhere in my skull. I don't just accept what my doctor says and wander away. I make the doctor stop and answer questions. Dr. G isn't used to this, so he finds me irritating.

In the last few visits to Dr. G, we have uncovered my problem of Charcot's foot, tried to deal with the cellulitis in my left big toe, and attempted to juggle my pain meds so they don't cost me as much. The alteration is in the strength of my meds. We went from 7.5/325 percocet, two as needed every four hours to 10/325 percocet, one and a half as needed every four hours. For those who don't understand those numbers, it's a breakdown of oxycodone/Tylenol. With the change, it means the same amount of the narcotic and less Tylenol. Less Tylenol is a good thing; it means less work for my liver. When prescribed the lower dose, he gave me 180 tablets and that would last me approximately three weeks. (Technically, 180 divided by the 12 pills I was permitted to take equates to 15 days. But I always did my best to not get crazy with the meds.) My idea was to change the dose, still give me 180 tablets, and that would last me closer to four weeks, if not an actual month. But what does Dr. G do? He prescribes 150 pills. Doing the math again, this equates to a 16.6 day supply. So instead of getting any kind of extension on my prescription, I've managed to technically get ONE extra day. With the way I stretch out the meds, an extra two and a half days.

Okay. Fine. I'll do it his way. What else can I do? Put an imaginary gun to his head and demand he do as I say? I don't think that would work.

On my way out, Dr. G told me to make an appointment when I started running out. Rather than assume I'd run out in two or three weeks, I waited until my bottle of meds was running low. Silly me, I thought a few days advance notice would do the trick. Thus, knowing I had enough to get me through until today, I called last Friday to make an find out Dr. G is on vacation and that they have no openings until 27 April.


I explained that without the meds, I'm not only facing the nightmare of a lot of pain, but very likely the "joy" of withdrawals, as I've been on these meds for OVER a year. The receptionist, not fearing anything herself, told me to call Monday morning to see if there were any cancellations.

Once again, I followed orders. This morning, I called and was told there were no cancellations, and that appointments were still being made for 27 April. I made the foolish mistake of not making an appointment yet, and instead left a message for the nurse.

The whole morning passed without a call back.

Look two paragraphs up. See the word "once"? I paused there to call the doc's office on the off chance there were cancellations this afternoon. No...Not only are they still booked, but the nurse was also at lunch and now appointments are available starting on 29 April!

This time I jumped on the opportunity to make an appointment. It's all set for 29 April at 3:00 PM. That was the earliest I could get in. Rather than leave another message on the nurse's voice mail, I left a verbal message saying it was rather urgent she call as soon as possible.

In all honesty, my greatest fear is withdrawing from these meds. I'm far from being even close to good health. Rapidly kicking the percocet from my system could result in "little" a heart attack. Of course, that would definitely help me quit smoking...

Hmmm...Maybe I should have the heart attack and see if that works out well for me, eh?

No...In a recent discussion with my buddy, Thanatos, I mentioned a nice gunshot wound would have me hospitalized long enough to quit, and he said that bullets inside the body held a risk of death. I'll assume a heart attack would also have similar risks.

So I wait. Hopefully, when the nurse gets back from lunch, she'll call so I cal explain the situation to her. You see, I have a secondary fear after massive withdrawals...Pain. I hate pain. And I have a lot of it. Neuropathy, Charcot's feet, and arthritis...It's going to be rough if she doesn't come through.

While I wait, I'm going to weigh the pros and cons of following doctor's orders.

Edit, 7:30 PM - Spoke with the nurse late this afternoon. She told me to come in at 10:00 AM tomorrow morning and ask for her. She would ensure the doctor saw me. Here's hoping what she said can be matched by action.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Replies, anger, and frustration...

Well, it's nice to see people are keeping up with the A couple of responses have popped up for "Losing a lost mind." I appreciate the emotional support that folks are sending out to me. I truly do. So, to Arguskos, who at one time, with the assistance of "mom" bought me toys to play with, thank you. And to "Papa" Zeb...Guess whose insurance doesn't cover Chantix? That's right! Mine! What's more, a little research online shows it's not as effective in diabetics as "normal humans." But the best part is what I already know about this drug...

You see, it was this drug that Stu was on when he tore his ascending aorta. Not that the drug caused it, but Stu was touting it to me when he started taking it. He read the "common" side effects, and I instantly knew it would be a problem for me. My stomach seems to have aged beyond my mind, and has become sensitive to even those things I used to eat when I was a younger man.

Once upon a time, I could eat a "death sandwich." Take two pieces of bread, cover with nails of your choice, smother in motor oil, season with arsenic and cyanide, and warm in oven at 200 degrees for five minutes. Allow for a bit of cooling before eating. Now the thought of just swallowing a thumb tack makes me nervous.

Okay...maybe that's a slight exaggeration. The reality is that just a year ago, I ran into issues taking Motrin. MOTRIN! I mean, how basic can a medication be? This is an OTC medication that was given to me at prescription strength, and not even full prescription strength. The reason it makes for a good painkiller is that it's actually an anti-inflammatory med. Less swelling means less pain. So my doc and I added it to my medication regimen in the hopes of avoiding a need for increasing doses of the narcotics I also take. The Motrin, however, started causing my a great deal of stomach pain, and it was taken off the list of meds I should take daily.

But all these issues when it comes to smoking doesn't mean I'm not making SOME kind of effort. Yes, I'm still smoking. (And, yes, I still need help with my finances.) But I'm falling back on the method I used the first time I quit. It will take a few months, but I'm hoping that by my birthday, 9 July, I'll have reached quitting time. What am I doing? It's actually very simple. Before I smoke a cigarette, I poke holes in the filters. As my body adjusts to less nicotine, I start poking more holes. In time, there will be so many holes in my cigarettes that I'll barely be inhaling anything at all.

It's this, or get those nicotine cartridges, and...ummm...well, I ran into a little issue with those e-cigs. In an effort to make the supply in the starter kit last, I used the "full flavor" cartridges. Inhaling the full, unfiltered strength of those things had me starting to show signs of nicotine poisoning. (Again with the upset stomach, the details of which I think I'll keep to myself.) So I went back to the one method I'd used in the past, and know it worked. Why I started again after three weeks of having been quit...Well, it's easy to tumble back into a vice when you catch your girlfriend cheating on you.

And speaking of old girlfriends, I had an experience last night that had me blowing all kinds of emotional gaskets. (That's the "anger" part of this post title.) As I said, my door's been open a lot lately. Yesterday, as the sun was setting, a woman paused in my door to say hello. Her name is Shannon, and I was falling for her a while back...

She was 17 when I met her, so while I occasionally flirted with her, there was no touching, nor even any effort to ask her out. Then she turned 18, and I...still didn't do much more than flirt. But I made it clear that I really was interested of she was, and it seemed as though she was gearing up to reciprocate. In fact, we had a few cuddling sessions, although there was no "extras." Just long talks filled with lots of gentle caresses. This happened only a few times, and then...

One evening, after a cuddle session, she left my apartment to head home. I'd closed my door, feeling pretty good about being "a good boy." That is, I hadn't been pushing her very hard into a relationship. The cuddling had mostly consisted on lying close together, with me gently moving a hand along her cheek and neck, moving the hair out of her eyes, and holding hands. You must understand that because I live in a studio apartment, when someone walks into my home, they essentially enter my bedroom. It can be an intimidating scene all on its own. But I hadn't forced her onto my bed, verbally or physically. She was the one in the driver's seat of the whole thing. I didn't press for the kisses I wanted, or anything else for that matter. On this particular night, everything was the same as all cuddle sessions before.

No sooner had I locked my door and walked away from it, when there was a knocking on it. I peeked through the blinds, expecting to see Shannon's mother standing there with a baseball bat, or perhaps someone else who was interested in Shannon. No, it was the girl herself. So I opened the door and she said, "I forgot something." That's when she kissed me for the first and only time.

Our relationship immediately took a turn toward high school. You see, in her excitement, Shannon told some of her friends about me. Their reaction was to paint me as a dirty old man who only wanted to get it on with a sexy teenager, and she, oddly, bought into it. I was thoroughly baffled. If that was my only goal, why hadn't I actually tried to get what they were claiming I was after. Thus, Shannon practically vanished from my life (taking all three of my Spider-Man novels with her). (I loaned them to her, thinking I'd have plenty of time to get them back. Boy, was I wrong about that!)

So years have rolled by, and I haven't seen Shannon in all that time. And last night, there she was, showing all the signs of abuse that a pregnancy can have on a woman. No shock there, since she was also holding a four-month-old baby in her arms. So after she said "hi," I sat at my computer, staring at her, the baby, and then I said the only thing that came to mind. "Where are my Spider-Man novels?"

Very little was said, really. Yes, the baby was hers. No, she wasn't married. In fact, when the father of the child learned Shannon was pregnant, he ran for the hills, leaving her to rear the child alone. And Shannon's last words to me were, "I have to get her bottle. I'll be right back."

She didn't return.

I was PISSED! She listened to everyone else, succumbing to peer pressure, and ended up getting pregnant by some immature scumbag who obviously isn't anything resembling a real man. He left her the moment he learned she was pregnant. I would have asked her to marry me, and if she didn't accept that, I would at least have made a conscious effort to be a part of that baby's life. I would have been on the phone with my Dad, announcing, "You're going to be a grandpa again!" I would have been proud. I would have been happy. But most important, my life would have been given greater meaning. If a cat can motivate me to get out of bed to care for her, imagine what a child (and a wife) could do for me.

Alas, Shannon was one of those women who starts out saying, "Age is just a number." But in the end, it's more than a number; it turns out to be a very big deal. Now if I was a billionaire like Hugh Hefner...The man just turn 83 on 9 April, and dates women around the age of 20. I'll be 42 in a few months, and people frown when I want to date a woman around the age of Hugh's girlfriends. The difference? He sells a fairly intellectual magazine filled with nudity, while I live beneath poverty level...and he's almost twice my age.

I try not to spend too much time thinking about my life. It's physically painful, and to intellectualize my circumstances makes it increasingly emotionally painful. Last night, I was overwhelmed with "woulda, coulba, shoulda" kind of thoughts. There's a list of self-destructive things that went screaming through my head for hours. I'm ultimately thankful I have Xanax on hand, or I might have lost my grip on the anger that *I* fear so much.

And so the drama goes on...I am still in dire need of help, if anyone can spare it. I sense, however, that people are now seeing me as a different kind of person, and very few are seeing me in the pure light I once existed under. For those who are of a mind to help, my PayPal ID is But I'm not holding my breath for it. Instead...I'm losing hope.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My new superhero role...

The weather here in Arizona had been gorgeous on most days. We swing between 75 and 90 degrees, and on a breezy day, I keep my front door open. Nike loves it. She will lie down at the open door and, as I put it, "survey her kingdom." On occasion, she's tried to sneak out to get herself into trouble, but for the most part, she just sits there, enjoying the weather as much as I am.

Her presence in the doorway has resulted in visitors stopping at my door to say hello to either me, her, or both of us. One woman who reserves a perpetual scowl for me will stop to pet Nike, using a voice reserved for babies and saying, "Hi, kitty!" Lots of kids pause to stare at her, or to pet her, and then a new task comes into play. Keep the cat inside and keep the kids from wandering after her when she moves away from the door. Ultimately, if I move to the door and get involved with people's communicating with my cat, they are entertained by how playful she is, and how she will talk to me if I talk to her; the meowing/English exchange is amusing to them.

And then a new neighbor stopped by to pet Nike. This woman's name is Anita. She didn't talk to Nike or me, so much as make noises as the two of us. I instantly knew that Anita is deaf. Joy of joys, she can't read lips. So for the first time in decades, I found myself trying to use what little sign language I know. I started with the one and only solid phrase I know. "I can't sign for shit." This got her laughing. From there, it was a spelling bee, with the two of us signing slowly to understand one another.

There's just one problem with me using sign language. My diabetic neuropathy has atrophied the muscles in my hands to the point where I can't keep it up for longer than a few minutes. Then, as I try to sign, my letters start becoming messy and unclear. R and W become the bane of my existence. And so Anita will sometimes come to me with pen and paper so we can communicate faster.

I think what thrilled her the most was coming across a total stranger who knew how to use sign language even a little bit. What's more, instead of treating her like a freak, I'm patient and understanding when she tries to communicate something. Everyone else in our apartment complex stares at her and has no idea how to talk to her. I can. Thus, I feel like a treasure she was able to dig up.

A perfect example of how I was able to be of use was yesterday, when someone she didn't know called her cell phone. For the first time, I could truly understand why someone would use a cell phone, especially when she flipped it open to reveal a keypad with which she could text. But with the mystery caller, who apparently didn't know to text her, Anita was at my door, asking me to talk to whomever had called. Sure enough, some guy had called looking for another party that had used Anita's phone to call him. It was now a game of phone tag, and because the person he was trying to reach was gone, I fell into the slot of translating sign language to a hearing individual.

When talking to the guy on the phone, though, I once again came away with the sense that people don't understand a person like me. I really am a nice guy who just happens to have gone through a lot of crap. When the nice guy shines through, people don't know what to do with him. They search for some ulterior motive and find none. If they spend a moment getting to know me, they discover a man with all the thoughts of many other people, but doesn't act on those thoughts.

Need an example? After a year of passing one another with an occasional friendly greeting, a neighbor of mine, "Sam," started going into a bit too much detail about herself and her girlfriends. I immediately joked, "I need to buy new batteries for my digital camera. You just let me know when the next all-girl orgy is, and I'll come by with camera in hand." Sam's response was along the lines of, "Sure thing, Rob. We'll probably have something going tonight." I was joking. She was serious! Some may think me an idiot, but I immediately put a stop to that. "No, no, Sam. While I may have the mind to leap at such an opportunity, it's my actions that speak to the person I am. What you do in the privacy of your home is your business, and inviting a lecherous old man in with his digital camera might work with others...but not me."

Those are the basics of the conversation, not the exact words, especially since she was rather graphic in describing what goes on behind closed doors. But she also confirmed what I suspected. Most of my neighbors think I am too pure in body, mind, and soul, and that I am the one who is calling the cops every time they show up. Sam said with utter shock, "Damn, you ain't the goody-two-shoes everyone thinks you are!" It was at that moment that I clarified that I am a red-blooded, American male. I call the cops when I think someone's going to be hurt. I don't call for things as petty as a noise complaint, even though I would like it a bit more peaceful around here. After that...Well, I wish I could commit some of the things that cross my mind, but that's just not me.

Yet another neighbor shocked to find out I'm just a nice guy, with all the deviant thoughts, but not acting on them.

And that, my friends, is my role as a superhero. My new role is that of weak-handed translator. Honestly, I wish life were like City of Heroes. In CoH, you commit a good deed, you get a little payment for it. Being a superhero should be a paying job. =P

Be well, my friends.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'll be your moron for the evening...

On Saturday, my computer did something odd. When I powered up, I ended up staring at a completely blue screen with an error message, the specific contents of which I've forgotten. What scared me was the part that read, "dumping memory...memory dump complete."

Wait...WHAT?!? No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

I was, put simply, freaking out. Since there was no other option, I pressed the power button, my computer shut off instantly, and I hit the power button again. Blessed be whatever powers are out there, because my computer came up normally. All was well.

That didn't mean I was going to ignore what had just happened. My greatest fear was a virus. Although I run my virus scan, Avast, AT LEAST once a week, I ran it again. It found nothing. I checked my Zone Alarm firewall for updates. All was well there. I ran a disc cleanup, defragmented my computer, and rebooted my system. All remained normal. It was, as far as I knew, a one-time-only event.

Then Sunday arrived. The day started with me powering up my computer, and all was well. Then I noticed myself running low on insulin, so I powered down my computer and headed for the pharmacy.

Upon my return and powering up my comp, I found myself staring at that blue screen again. Well, the answer was simple enough. Just do what I did the day before, right? So I did, and was brought back to that blue screen of doom. Well, maybe I just needed to restart one more time. I did, and discovered that the temporary problem had become a permanent one.

I performed every trick in the book that I could think of. I ran tests from diagnostic screens that you can access with various function keys. One of them was coming back with an error message, but a call to Stu told me this wasn't a big deal. He doesn't know A LOT about computers, but he knows a few tricks like me. I tried starting in safe mode, which brought up that accursed blue screen. I tried booting up in the last known good configuration. No luck. No matter how I tried to bring it back to life, my computer refused to cooperate. And calling Dell would have been a waste of time, since the extended warranty ended last October.

Left with no other option, and practically crying as I did so, I reset my computer to its state when it left the factory, effectively wiping out EVERYTHING! Novels, screenplays, pictures...they are ALL gone. And, brilliant as I am, I failed to back up anything EXCEPT a very expensive program to write screenplays that I bought when I first got my computer.

Today has been spent getting this damnable machine back to working order. It required over 100 Windows updates, and wouldn't leave me alone until I got all of them. I reloaded City of Heroes, and let the updates run overnight, as it would take over four hours. I needed to update my video driver, just so I could play it. I also had to download Skype again, and THAT became an adventure when, after unplugging everything during the attempted fix stage, and I forgot which plugs on my headset when where.

But...1001 Lies is completely gone, as it was a work in progress. The screenplay based on my deceased uncle's escapades when he was younger is also gone. My pictures of Lizzy are gone. The pictures of my nephew with my Dad are gone. So many irreplaceable things...all gone.

Lesson learned, I guess. I'm gonna have to start making backup disks for everything...on disks I...ummm...don't have.

Which reminds me! I not only have the added joy of this computer adventure, but after close to a week, it would seem that people are lacking in response to my confession about smoking, and my desire to quit. I was, at the least, expecting a degree of ire for having never mentioned this bad habit. I justify it by saying I've never lied about it...but then the sin of omission falls heavily on the subject. Still, I thought people would yell at me, then refuse to help. Or yell at me, and then help. Or, most preferred, forgive me, understand my shame, and then offer help. As a result of the lack or response and aid, I'm still smoking. Mind you, I still poke holes in the cigarettes to make them lighter than they already are, but I want those nicotine cartridges for the e-cig. (Which they remain out of stock of the ones I want.) So the message I seem to be getting from the silence is, "Oh...You smoke? Good! Not only should you KEEP smoking, but we now stop helping you in any way."

Yeah...I'm a tab bitter, but that could be the stress of trying to quit without an alternative. And for the record, "Just quit" won't work. Most of my willpower is engaged in trying not to off myself.

For those who might think I'm going to simply take advantage of them, remember last month, when aid arrived and I quickly came here to say, "No more! I have what I need!" I'm not one to play my friends for fools or take advantage of them. But I'm in a bad way once again, my friends. I know many people aren't made of money, but I would appreciate the help of those that can help.

This is Rob, AKA Bor, out here and trying not to declare myself as a modern day Job.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Losing a lost mind. (A *BIG* confession.)

My Dearest Friends,

The time has come to reveal that which I have kept silent about for so long. I mentioned in my last post that this one would be played close to the chest. Then, as I make my effort to do what's right, I'm finding it a financial bite that's as bad as the problem itself.

I have been proud of the fact that I don't drink, nor do I engage in illegal drugs. Heck...Who needs illegal drugs when I have perfectly legal ones to keep my brain fuzzy at all times. But I *DO* have a bad habit. A *VERY* bad habit. Some know. Some don't. And now...all will. I have been a smoker since the age of 20. I have been ashamed of this to such a degree that I dared not say anything about it. Especially when I make a monthly plea for financial aid.

Now, before anyone gets wildly upset, let it be known that I have NEVER spent so much as a dime on cigarettes when the help arrives. It sounds so incredibly stupid, but when I start begging for aid, I usually have plenty of cigarettes on hand. That's right, boys and girls. I only beg for money once I've wasted *MY* funds on my incredibly stupid habit. My friends have fed me or helped me meet my needs. While my addiction to cigarettes might qualify as a "need," none of your help has gone toward my habit. (I swear it on my biological mother's grave, and will kill her to make that vow true.)

Six seemingly unconnected things happened that have my body and mind in an uproar.

1. First, the price of cigarettes is been climbing radically. Sure, there are plenty of shortcuts to start buying generic brands off Indian Reservations, but even those prices are climbing. It remains a waste of money on my part.

2. I finally was able to get through to my Aunt Harriet. Usually when I call, the phone simply rings and rings. I learned that she doesn't answer if she doesn't recognize the phone number. Well, someone else didn't know better, answered, got the phone to her, and we talked. She was a smoker for over 60 years. Now she has emphysema, and can barely talk for more than ten minutes before she needs to rest. Although I'm only at it for a third of that time, it would seem she's spelled out my fate without saying a thing.

3. My Dad called the next day, and I could hear him smiling through the phone. He was delighted that I was able to talk to my aunt...and the talk turned to my smoking habit. He refrained from making a long speech, but he told me the only way I was likely to quit was when I received a diagnosis that spelled my doom.

4. Now, without thinking about discussing my bad habit, I deemed it time to call Stu and find out how he's doing. Out of nowhere, he brought up my smoking, and said that I should do what he did to quit. This prompted my humorous response, "Well, gee, Stu...not all of us are lucky enough to tear our ascending aorta while getting busy with the wife and ending up in a critical care unit, where we'd be FORCED to quit." This earned me a laugh, and we tried do discuss how I might quit. Alas, the patches, which I've tried in the past, gave me a rash, and the gum...Well, I have a bad habit with gum since I was a child. Never has a piece of gum entered my mouth without me swallowing it. Somehow, I don't think nicotine gum in my stomach would be a good thing. As for pills...Well, my insurance ONLY covers Welbutrin, which resulted in one of my suicide attempts.

5. An online friend asked what appeared to be an innocent question at the end of an e-mail. "Are you still smoking?" We got to talking, and he was pretty angry that I would *DARE* to ask for financial aid while throwing my money at the tobacco companies. Not only did I explain how the money was always separated, but I also explained that it didn't really make it much better. I was still throwing money away, then asking for more.

6. Finally, there was a call from my truck-driving friend, Leroy. After a bit of BSing, he was on my case about my smoking, and how he was willing to pick up an electronic cigarette (e-cig) to help me quit.

Between the price of cigarettes and all the talk of smoking happening in a week, one would thing these people were running an intervention. But none of these parties had discussed this with anyone else. It was as though G-d were sending me GARGANTUAN neon signs that read, "Quit now, you dumbass!" It also occurred to me that my choices were becoming increasingly limited. I could eat or I could smoke, but I couldn't do both.

Now, there are little bits and pieces not worth telling, as it would make this post that much longer, but the result was a plan to quit. I did my best to gear myself up for the moment when I would smoke my last cigarette, then sleep my way through the withdrawals. When I woke, I'd take some insulin, eat, spray my apartment with air fresheners, take a few pulls of the e-cig, and go back to bed.

It was a good plan. Many people were impressed with it. It worked for two days...and on day number three, I was so rested that there was no going back to sleep no matter what I did. I was perpetually on edge. My craving for a smoke was insane. When I looked inside the box for the e-cig, I realized I had a new problem. If I'm to use this thing to quit, I'm going to need more nicotine cartridges, using progressively weaker doses until I'm off the real cigarettes.

My friends...My dear, dear friends...I can eat, or smoke, or buy the nicotine cartridges. Put simply, I want to be done with this smoking BS. And so, for the next month or so, I am flat out PLEADING for the finances to put an end to this. In all honesty, I'm hoping April will be the end of it, but my Dad predicts it may take a little longer.

Let me be clear about this...I am asking for the funds ONLY because the site where I can order the cartridges doesn't update properly, and it is easier to order by phone. You can check out the site here, but you'll notice many of the quantities are zero*. That means one of two things. Either they're out of stock and the site has yet to say so in big red letters on the product, or it's in stock and the site hasn't updated the quantity selection. (I learned this by calling the NJoy company.)

I am officially BEGGING for help to help me end this bad habit. And if the masses turn away from me, believing that I've deceived you all...Well, there's little I can do about that, other than apologize. I need to stop, my friends. Is anyone out there willing to help? Or is coming clean about this the end of numerous friendships? I hope not.

O hope folks respond rapidly. The sooner I put an end to this, the sooner I can worry about one less thing.

With my deepest apologies and great affection,
Rob Meadows

*The "regular" flavor cartridges are in stock because they taste like poison with sugar added.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Silent Running

Okay, faithful readers and friends...Something has come up that needs immediate attention. I have been open and honest about so much that one would consider incredibly private, but this one stays close to the chest. No, I'm not in any kind of legal trouble, nor has my physical or mental health taken a greater turn for the worse. If anything, the project I'm undertaking will hopefully improve my health. But it's something I need to do alone, and isolating myself more than usual is somewhat required. I'll be home, my phone turned off, with me in bed and sleeping my way through that which would be a nightmare if I was awake all the time. My current plan is for approximately four days of sleeping as much as possible, but the whole journey (in which I actually go nowhere) may take a week or two. So don't fret over my silence.

For those who pray regularly, pray for my health. Pray that I have strength. Pray that when this ordeal is over, I will be a better man for what I have done. For while I slumber, know that all of my friends and family will drift through my unconscious mind, and I will be pray that you all BE WELL!