Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Alive and...

...well-ish. It was a length journey, and I would love to tell you folks al about it. But my computer is not on'y still packed away, but...Well, the day before Siege came to get me, my computer screen decided to die a horrible death. Thus, I am on my housemate's computer, if only to make this brief post.

Housemate...I have housemates now. And they aren't furry and affectionate, nor will I allow any of them to crawl into bed with me for petting.

I will attempt to return and tell about the trip some other time. Right now, what I need most is MORE rest. So, thank you, my friends, for keeping me in mind as I traveled across several States, and take heart in the fact that I have arrived as safely as a broken down Rob can.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The closet is empty.

It's such a simple statement, and yet I deem this a major accomplishment. It's not as though things had become so packed in there that I couldn't open the door, but many things had been stacked rather high. Four floods in the five years I'm living here damaged everything that was on the floor, so that stuff was thrown out...but the closet is empty.

Just about everything I have is now in the main living area of my studio apartment. Some of it awaits me being able to stack it neatly into a box. Some of it still needs to be thrown out. Some of it will be sold on moving day, (specifically a box of books). But this is it. Moving day is just about here.

Siege gave me a minor scare the other day. Apparently KS has a thing for automotive documentation expiring on one's birthday. Registration, licence, plates...it all expires on someone's birthday, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate another turn around the sun than a day spent at the DMV. Wouldn't you know it, Siege's b-day is September 1st. So the question was posed: can I stay here another month? Well, I shuffled off to the rental office to check on the cost of such a thing, and was told it would cost me an additional $50 to stay just one more month. That would actually bring the price of my apartment to OVER $500. Not sure if anyone has read every post I've made, but when my apartment is mentioned, one can guess it's not even worth the $464 I pay now!

When Siege asked about this, I said that I would call back if something could be arranged. Obviously, I didn't call back. Just to be sure, I sent an e-mail saying that it wasn't going to happen, and received a reply that that was okay. It would all work out regardless.

Some time tomorrow, Siege will start out from KS. We've arranged for her to call when she's getting into the car to head my way. Once I get that call, I'm going to have a semi-busy day.

First, there's still a suitcase filled with laundry that needs to be washed. My right knee has been SCREAMING at me all weekend. I have done my best to explain that it can rest when we reach KS, but it doesn't appear to be listening. (My knee needs ears.) It's possible that I am actually turning into a percocet tablet! Just sitting on the floor, legs folded, creates an issue for me. So that bag of clothing has been sitting, waiting for me to get it taken care of since the last time I blogged about my last laundry adventures. I'll be off to do the wash...finally!

Next, the phone calls. First, the call to my Dad, letting him know that I will be disconnecting all electronics, including the phone. He has my future mailing address, as well as a phone number where he can reach me for emergencies. Then I'll be calling Social Security to give them my change in information. The same will happen with my bank. My final call, which will occur as close to the last minute as possible, will be to the phone company, telling them to shut down my phone service in its entirety.

While awaiting the moment to make that final call, I will be disconnecting everything and getting it ready to go. My DVD player, my TV, my computer. If it's electronic and connected to something else, it's being taken apart and added to the pile for the move. (That's the plan, anyway. Will I be able to resist the draw of City of Heroes? We shall see.)

In fact, the only thing that will probably remain set up is my now-ancient laptop. I mean, I'll still need something to do while I await Siege. Amazingly, the laptop still runs some of my old games, so I'll blow the dust off it and try relaxing a bit. (Of course, the damnable thing tends to overheat and shut itself off at random, which only adds to the temptation represented by CoH.)

If I'm extra lucky, I'll even get a little nap in. (You know about us old folks and our naps, right?)

Once Siege arrives, there'll be some deciding to do. If she needs to get some sleep, so be it. I've already stressed that I don't want an exhausted driver behind the wheel. If there's no nap time needed, then it's off to Bookman's to sell what books I can. (I'll consider myself lucky if I get $10.) Siege apparently has a box or two of books to unload, as well.

Back to the apartment, where we'll load up the car. Scattered about my apartment, it looks as though I have a lot of things to my name. I can't help but wonder if everything will fit in Siege's car. Then again, I've been assured that everything will. Here's hoping, eh?

The final step will be to drop the keys off at the rental office.

And then, my friends, we will leave Arizona, Mexico, and head back to the United States. (I hope Siege remembers her passport. =P ) I kid, of course...but the tenants at my complex are predominantly Mexican, and English is rarely heard around here. Communicating with my neighbors over the last couple of years, especially when it comes to stopping kids from misbehaving in front of my apartment, or keeping them safe, has been difficult.

Life will begin anew in KS. With any luck whatsoever, I will have secondary medical insurance before the end of October. As long as I have that, my begging and pleading for monthly aid should drop to only rare occasions. You know...for more important things. Like, "Help Rob get a big screen HD TV!" "Help Rob book a singles cruise!" "Help Rob buy 30 metric tons of Lego so he can build his doomsday device!"

Oh...Speaking of asking for aid, my last post was a last ditch effort to gain the funds to make this journey without becoming a burden to Siege. Unfortunately, no one answered the call this round. I suppose folks could still send something, but I imagine that by 6:00 PM tomorrow evening, my computer will no longer be connected, and I won't be able to do anything with those funds until I've established an Internet connection at Siege's place.

But, hey! Why stare at the semi-gloomy parts of life when it's about to pick up? My friends not answering that last call...? Well, you guys have been UTTERLY FANTASTIC for so long that I don't really have a right to complain about the one time you didn't dig into your wallets. Really...you folks have been amazing! And while I don't report it often here, I frequently rave about knowing some of the best people around the globe. You guys have been awesome, and if you think that'll be easily be forgotten, you have another think coming. =)

So, gang...This is my final post until I am relocated. Before I go, I want to share a phrase that was taught to me many years ago, back in my teens. Technically, there's no way to misspell a Yiddish phrase, since it's normally written in Hebrew, so forgive what appears to be a completely butchered language. (I'll go as frenetically as I can.) "Ein geizundt auf dein pippik." Its literal translation is, "A blessing on your bellybutton." Its connotative meaning is, "Thank G-d for your very existence." If you're not following, life basically begins at one's bellybutton. Though medical science has made life without one possible, one's very existence when the phrase came about was never going to happen. Thus, it is with good humor and great love of my friends that I bless your collective bellybuttons, and insist that you all do your very best to...

BE WELL!!! =)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The altered plea

So, I spent several hours at the laundromat, washing a whole lot of stuff so that I'm not dragging dirty clothes and the like to KS...and a glance it my current finances made me pause and attempt that which I tend to fear most: math! Others probably aren't afraid of numbers, but since I had ECT all those years ago, trying to add just a couple of numbers becomes a worrisome event.

Today's adventures thus far had me washing several items that are thick or made of heavy cloth. A recent quest into the depths of mt closet revealed old jeans that are an inch or two too small for me. I am loathe to throw them out of donate them because there may come a time when they fit again. So I washed and dried them, along with my ancient winter coat, and numerous other items, all of which needed extra time in the dryer so that I wouldn't be packing clothes that would become moldy during the moving process.

My next chore is...more laundry. This time, it'll be the stuff that fits and that I wear regularly. Alas, each dollar that goes into the washers and dryers is one more that I won't have for settling in when I reach KS. And there are things that I'm stretching now that I'll need immediately upon my arrival. There will also be a few expenses on the trip that I'm already worrying about, like money for food when we make such stops. It hasn't even crossed my mind to say, "Siege...I'm broke. Could you treat me to everything along the way until the 3rd of next month, when I'll be able to pay you back?" I mean, Siege is already doing so much during this move that that I simply don't want to throw more onto the list. It would also be nice if I could cough up some of the gas money along the way...

...and as it stands at this moment, I can't handle any of that. From what I can see, once Siege arrives here, I'll be completely broke. We're making a brief run to a used book store where we can both unload a couple of boxes of things we simply don't want anymore. But that's not going to cut it. If I get $20 for everything I sell, it'll be a miracle. (Although if I took a store credit, I would likely have more than enough "money" to be able to gather up a ton of things to further fill up the car.)

So here I am, yet again, asking my friends to aid me. I mentioned $50 in my last post in passing, and it still stands that I simply do NOT need hundreds. Just that $50 so that I am fully covered until the next SSD check arrives in my bank.

HOWEVER...If I manage to receive more than what I need, provided I see that little button to reject what's sent, I will be denying those who send funds once my goal is reached. Oh...and Lou, if you send me so much as a dollar, I'll be walking to your place (overseas) to yell at you a lot. (Really won't be capable of doing anything else after walking to another country.) So...Someone, if you can, send $50. Or several people send $20. Or five people send $10. That should do the trick.

***************************************
Having mentioned SSD, I was awakened by a call from Social Security. They had just a few short questions for me, that in my half-conscious state received long answers. It basically boiled down to them wanting to know if I'd worked at all, and if they thought I might have gotten better in the last few years. Well, giving my concern, love, and advice to friends I've met on the Internet is hardly a job. I've been happy to do that for free. As for getting better...? Well, I shared the "joyous" news that the complications of my diabetes now include Charcot's joint. I spoke of the ulcer on my left ankle that seems to have become a permanent resident on my body. I also added of my pending move because living as alone as I am is no longer a viable option for me; if I'm not under the same roof, I at least need caring people nearby to check in on me regularly.

This was a call from a government office. If you've ever spent time in such agencies and dealing with their employees, you have an idea of the kind of person you usually end up talking to. They're tired all the time, especially after having to repeat what they do every single work day. There's usually no variation, and with people complaining at them all the time, they also tend to be cranky.

But the woman who called me was very pleasant, and as the call came to an end, I complimented her on being so. She said those magic words that immediately make me respect another person. "I treat people the way I'd like to be treated." My immediate thought was, Score one for humanity! Thus, I told her that which I am constantly telling those who know me...and that which I will tell l anyone reading this right now...

BE WELL!!! =)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Last Visit

Well, today was my last visit to my PCP, and I didn't even get to see my PCP...either of them. I was able to get NONE of the prescriptions as I wanted them. I'm not even talking about the narcotics that I take regularly. A medication like my Zocor seemed to be an issue. It was a simple request. "Could you write it as 40 mg. taken twice a day, with me knowing that I only take it once a day? I mean, this way I'll have a two month supply without worrying about insurance when I reach KS."

The stern response: "I can't lie on a prescription."

I can understand that there are strict laws covering the distribution of controlled substances...but this is my cholesterol medication. I honestly doubt it has a high "street value." It's not even something I need as badly as other meds that I take, as my blood pressure doesn't go berserk without them. (That would be a nightmarish sign, I assure you.) Without this medication, my cholesterol takes a minor bump upward that makes doctors fret a bit; it's not the end of what good health I have left. And this was a problem?

Of course, I then got quite the odd look when I listed another of my other regular prescriptions that I needed to refill, prenatal vitamins. Yes, I take prenatal vitamins, and for good reason. You see, my insurance doesn't cover a regular, ordinary, multivitamin. They did when I was in NY, but here in AZ, it's just not happening. To get around it, my doc wrote for prenatal vitamins, which, amazingly, the insurance covered despite the fact that I am male and will never, ever be pregnant. Still, it's one of those things that I'm on to cover the shortcomings of a limited income and the shortcuts in my diet. Better to be safer than sorrier, right?

It's actually been one of those things that's been a great source of amusement for anyone who comes to know this nugget of information. The pharmacy techs at my regularly drug store have come to joke that I'm "Mrs. Meadows." Adding to this was that for some time the Department of Economic Security (DES) screwed up, specifically when I first signed up with them, and marked me down as "female." This resulted in all sorts issues because Medicare had me as male, DES had me as female, so the common response from the automated system was, "Wait...This woman is trying to get her vitamins on some guys Medicare account? No way!" I tried to fix this with a simple phone call, but I was forced to go all the way down to the DES office to have them change the F to an M. Then, having ironed that out, both insurance companies that cover me were more than happy to handle my prenatal vitamins. And when it now comes up in conversation, I push my stomach out so as to appear six months along and report that the baby and I are doing just fine.

On the painkiller front...Well, that had this new, mystery doctor staring at me in a degree of wonder. When he saw the older prescriptions, and I told him what I took on a daily basis, he was a little stunned that I was lucid and functional. Like I needed to remind him, but I said, "When the pain's legitimate, the side effects are not nearly as strong." Yes, they have the habit of making me more talkative, but I'm far from "off my face" when I take them. (I use them as an excuse, but it's more for the humor than the truth.) There was no negotiating those, though, despite listing all of the chronic pain issues that I have. The only way I'll be able to refill those is to see a doctor before they run out. G-d bless Siege for making doctor appointments for me shortly after I arrive at my new home.

No matter...The funds that have been been sent to me have gone to those things that I tend to need regularly. Food, toiletries, etc. I was afraid I'd need to come here today and hit my knees and ask for more, help, but it would seem that I should have enough to see me through until next month. (Another $50 wouldn't hurt, but so far, so good; I could use some new toiletries to pack away for my arrival in KS.) It may seem odd, but I'm actually glad people didn't go insane with sending me help. I mean, had people actually gathered the hundreds I thought I needed, I would now be sitting on too much money, and I'd be racked with guilt.

So that was it. My last doctor's visit here in AZ. Now it's a matter of getting this disaster area of an apartment into boxes for that the car can be loaded up easily, and we can be on our way.

Ah...But speaking of the move...It's happening in about a week. When it happens, I may well be offline for several days. No checking e-mails, no blog or forum posts, and certainly no answering the phone calls of friends. I'm told an Internet connection is available where I'm going, but I don't know if the house is wired properly for me to get hooked up immediately. If it is, it'll just be a short time while I travel and get acclimated, and then I'll be back...and hopefully more active on GitP.

There'll be more before I go, but that's all for now. Be well, my faithful followers. =)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Actions and Words

This seems to be a topic coming up the last few days. And as I await more aid, (someone already sent something, but I could use more for this move), I thought I'd look carefully at what's happened the last few months.

When I first blew a gasket over my brother's behavior, I had an invested feeling about my move to TN. It was supposed to be something that was good for me emotionally, physically, and financially. Thus, when things fell apart, I became understandably upset. Then my beloved friend, Siege, stepped forward and offered me a place to live. (I stress that last word for a reason.) I've spent the last few months since that offer to wait for the other shoe to drop...and I'm pleased to say I'm still waiting, and believe it'll never happen.

It's been over two months since Stu demonstrated that my money was more welcome in TN than I was. Since then, he has seemingly vanished, not just from my life, but my father's as well. Why? Well, I can only make educated guesses here, but I'm assuming he hasn't called my father because he has no excuses lined up. What was supposed to be a good thing for both of us went south when my brother decided "greed is the creed." He's in hiding because he can't reasonably explain why he treated me the way he did. Everyone - EVERYONE - knew I was to be paying rent when I moved in with him. Everyone knew the set price of said rent. And when I reported that my expenses were climbing beyond that, everyone involved scratched their heads and wondered, "WHY?" My father and step-mom couldn't understand it...at all.

So Stu is likely dreading that he'd get "a talking to" from my father, not realizing that my father has already brushed the incident aside. "Come on, Rob...Stu just got a part-time job. He's probably busy, trying to get things arranged to care for his son while he and his wife are working. You don't really think he's hiding, do you?" If his life is hectic, it's his doing. Relief was supposed to be on the way in the form of myself, and he tossed me aside. And had he not kicked me aside, I assure you that he and I would be on the phone at least once a week, for hours at a time, discussing the move. The only explanation for his silence must be that he knows he was in the wrong, and now can't face those who were in the right. His actions, or lack thereof, speak volumes to this concept. He screwed up. He doesn't know what to say or do to fix it. So silence prevails from his corner of the world.

Meanwhile, in another reality, my move to KS is becoming a dream come true. I was on the phone with Siege just the other day when I was told appointments had already been made for me with doctors. "Wait...What?!? You made doctor appointments for me?" Indeed, Siege had made them...in advance of my arrival in KS. My off-hand response was an immediate, "I love you!"

This is why I used the term "my beloved friend" earlier. I'm...I'm not used to someone caring about ME! That is, I know plenty of people care about me, and many have shown me a great deal of love since I became known at GitP...It's the contrast between what my brother was doing and what Siege is doing that is throwing me for a loop. Everything Stu discussed with me was about possessions, about cost, and about time utilization. Everything Siege discusses with me is about...me. It's like I've stepped into the Twilight Zone. I'm so accustomed to being treated like a burden that I just don't comprehend this idea that I just might deserve to be treated like a person.

Mind you, I'm okay with this. There's no need to start viewing me as the red-headed step-child.

Now that I am no longer emotionally invested in a move to TN, I am viewing my brother's actions with a bit more clarity. Well...perhaps not. My ideas of what happened are certainly being tainted by the welcoming attitude that Siege is giving me. And it would seem that Stu's actions completely lack any merit whatsoever. Months before hand, he was shouting at me that he and his wife wanted me in TN. This message was shouted at me after I made a crack about my money being more welcome...and I think in retrospect, in that moment, Stu saw I might back out, eliminating the financial aid I would bring to his family. He tried to cover with the words he thought I wanted to hear. Alas, when someone is lying, they usually can't maintain the lie for long. Either they let something slip in conversation, or their behavior betrays them. Stu was caught in his lying when he couldn't resist talking about money for this, and money for that, or money for the other thing. And the moment I tried to discuss a reduction in the money department, he lost it. Really, no matter how I view it now, it still resembles a fit thrown by a kid who has his favorite toy taken away from him.

And, ohhh, how it must have been having to face his wife after the fact. According to Stu, she was the one pushing for more and more money. "Ummm...Darling...? Sweetheart...? About that money my brother was going to be bringing into the house..." Yeah...The cost of their satellite TV must have seemed a bit heavier in that moment. And the payments being made on their cars...the payments for the 42" plasma screen TV he has in the living room...the idea of buying a new computer in the near future...All of these things, and numerous others, went out the window when my brother chose not to discuss things with me. It was his way or the highway. And up until that moment, I'd been a "yes man." Now I am a "highway man." (Figuratively.)

As my step-mom said, better it should happen before the move than after.

Moving in with Siege and company...Well, that's become a completely different story. I mean, the money was discussed at the start, and seems to have fallen off the radar completely since then. Now the discussions are about making doctor appointments, making sure I'm comfortable and fed, seeing that I have things to do with my time...I can't help but wonder if Siege and Stu are from the same planet.

Hmmm...Maybe Siege was rocketed to Earth as an infant, just like me. =P

There is an important distinction to be made, however. Things are still being discussed. It's still "all talk." Just the same, the act of talking is of a different sort. Stu: "Money, money, money, money, money." Siege: "You, you, you, you, you."

Y'know...I'm gonna official adopt Siege as some family member or another. Maybe...a cousin. (*wink*) Meanwhile, the actions and words of my "beloved" family are very different from that of my truly beloved friend. And all of this is a perfect example of why it remains true that actions speak louder than words.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ummm...Guys? Friends? Hello?

Ah, good times...Good times. *nervous laughter* Hey, does anyone remember my last post in August? The second to last paragraph went something like this:

Meanwhile, I'm not going to wait for the last minute to ask for help. I always need it, so it makes little sense in holding off. What's more, I may have an extra expense or three this month, as I'm going to have to make some purchases that are...well, off the charts in terms of expenses. "Golly, Rob...What are you planning on buying that has you so worried?" Medications. Three of my prescriptions can't have refills because they are narcotics. And while I will have a fresh month's supply as I move out, there's no guaranty that I'll have secondary medical insurance within the month I move out of Arizona, nor that I'll find a doctor in that time. To be truly comfortable, I'd want a three-month supply of all my meds, but that's not going to happen. The best I can hope for is two months. So, my friends, I'm going to start asking for help now, and hope that you all remain understanding for just one more month. Then...Well, let us pray that the secondary insurance comes through swiftly, and that I don't need to ask for help in the future.

Then I waited. I mean, if every post was, "Can I have some help?", a lot of people would just stop reading, right? And I made the plea early so as to avoid any kind of panic. I was a good human. Alas, no one responded.

So in my last post, I wrote:

Speaking of "deal," or at least dealing with me, the time has officially come for me to start making a cry for aid. I have a week's worth of funds left. I usually wait until I have only a day or two's worth of funds, but I've decided to be smart this time around. What's more, I am seeing my doctor a week from tomorrow, in which I'm going to have to probably pay a little extra for some of my meds. I tried to say as much the last entry of last month, but no one has responded. So, my friends...I hope you are still able to deal with me and my excessive needs, but I could use the help...and hopefully for the last month. As always, the help is appreciated in advance. Once I'm under Siege's roof, my financial needs should be severely reduced. Until then...Ummm...Deal?

Oh, look at me. I'm so cute. In my "Deal or No Deal" post, as made a little funny right at the end, there. *more nervous laughter*

That was late on Monday, and I kinda hoped someone would have responded by now. You see, when I receive aid, there's a little thing I haven't mentioned...I don't think. When someone helps me via PayPal, I get a notification, head right to the site, and transfer the funds to my checking account. One would think in this age of electronics that it would happen instantly. "Oh, you want money? Click this little button here and it will magically appear in your bank account instantly!" But it doesn't. According to PayPal, it takes three to four business days for it to arrive. I don't quite understand that one, either. I mean, what's a business day of late. It seems to me that businesses run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thanks to the aforementioned electronic age. You don't have to wait for Monday to roll around so that someone will finally answer the phone to take an order; you can just place your order online. Odds are good that there's someone in the warehouse all the time, prepping orders to go out with the mail. Even the mail keeps traveling on Sundays, and that requires a human being to be transporting it somehow, some way. Overall, I don't comprehend why there are any delays in a transaction, especially one occurring electronically over the Internet.

Now pause a moment and realize that my waiting until the last minute actually went into overtime. All those times I waited, made my plea. and then received help...? The days of waiting for it to hit my bank were usually spent hoping that someone I knew in the area would be able to loan me the money until my bank received the transfer. And because it's a case of the poor borrowing from the poor, those people had to be paid back.

Really, my friends...I'm praying wildly that this will be the last month I need such help. The only problem that would make me sit up and cry for help again would be if I have any kind of issues with the welfare office where I'm heading.

So...before I'm down to pennies, and my cries for help online are utterly panicked...if you can, send help. Please.

I'm going to go back to wishing I had a stick of dynamite to blow my right knee off. Or back to bed to recover from all I've been doing of late. Just 10 more days...then it's "Goodbye, Arizona...Hello, United States!"

*last nervous laugh* Look...I was cute again by trying to make another funny. Am I not adorable? =P

Monday, September 14, 2009

Deal or No Deal?

Have you ever sat down to watch this show? I have, but only a few times. And what I saw was the ultimate exercise in greed. Really...It's stunning. I think the second time I watched it was for the models holding the cases. But as for the game, and the contestants...Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

The thing is, I keep imagining myself on that show, and how I'd make a TERRIBLE contestant.

If I recall properly, I believe there are twenty-some-odd cases on the stage, each accompanied by a positively stunning woman. The contestant picks one case in the hopes that the $1,000,000 is hiding inside, and then picks the other cases. The prices inside range from $0.01 to $1,000,000. Between choosing cases for the models to open, Howie Mandel, the host, gets a call from "the Banker." The call comes with an offer, in which I'm sure a computer has calculated the chance of the player having chosen the million dollars, and the Banker tries to "buy" the players case back. If the player chooses cases with small dollar amounts, the banker offers a high price for the player's case. If the player eliminates high numbers in the other cases, the offer from the Banker gets smaller.

Astonishingly, on the few shows I've seen, players have turned down hundreds of thousands of dollars! All for the small chance that the case they picked at the game's start will contain the million dollar placard.

They should get a poor guy like me on the show. I'd ruin everything. And it would go something like this...

Howie: Okay, Rob...You've picked your first five cases, and we're just waiting on the call from the banker.
Me: Tell him I said "deal."
Howie: But...he hasn't even called yet.
Me: Deal.
Howie: Rob...Really, you should wait for him to call. I mean, what if he only offers $2,000?
Me: Tell him it's a deal.
Howie: Ummm...Rob. The game was explained to you at the beginning, right?
Me: Yup.
Howie: And you understood how it's played, right?
Me: Yup.
Howie: So you know that by staying in the game longer, you have a chance to win even more money...Right?
Me: I also have a chance of losing it all, and I have a lot of nothing right now. Tell him "Deal."

The phone rings and Howie, whether or not he's actually talking to someone, has a discussion filled with a lot of "Uh huh...Okay. Right. I'll tell him."

Howie: Well, Rob. That was the banker. He's been listening to what you've been saying, and thinks you don't have it in you to keep going. So he's only offering you only $1,000.
Me: He's right. Deal.
Howie: (flabbergasted) Rob! That's the lowest offer that's ever been made on this show! The least he should be offering is $5,000, and he's taunting you. He wants you to stay in the game. You don't want to take the chance at winning more?
Me: Howie, I have NOTHING. That $1,000 is a lot of money to a guy with a lot of nothing. Deal.
Howie: I...I don't believe this.
Me: Look, Howie. What are we going to do here? Are we going to become buddies? You gonna invite me by your mansion for dinner every other week? I don't think so. Want me to bring out family and friends? Well, I wouldn't invite most of my family here if they paid me, and my friends, while they mean the world to me, have lives. I'm not going to waste their time coming out here to cheer me on as I demonstrate how greedy a human being can be. You wanna give me a million dollars right now and let me go forth to do good deeds? Great! But that's not going to happen either, so write me a check for $1,000 and let me be on my way.

The phone rings again, and Howie has another fake conversation with his imaginary friend.

Howie: Okay...He's taking pity on you. If he offers you $15,000, will you stay in the game?
Me: Only if that offer never goes down.
Howie: It, ummm...It doesn't work like that. I mean, if you open cases with high dollar amounts, it'll go down.
Me: Below $1,000?
Howie: Well, it could.
Me: Tell the Banker, "Thanks, but no thanks. Deal!"

Phone rings again! Howie is now frantic. Maybe a real person has called.

Howie: Rob...I have a promise from the banker that if you stay in the game, no matter what, you'll walk out of here with $15,000.
Me: Even if I play the game through to the last case, and I only have a penny in mine?
Howie: Well, the rules of the game still have to apply. I mean, if we do it for you, we'd have to do it for everyone else.
Me: Okay...DEAL!

It is ridiculous that people stare at the big, lighted board, and they see $1,000,000, $750,000, $500,000, $250, $5, and $1 on it, and they're still saying, "No deal." By that time, the banker is offering over $100,000, and these idiots still think they stand a chance at the big win. It's as though they're not even considering what they'll have to pay to the IRS. Do they really think they'd have a million dollars to take home? Heck no! Uncle Sam will want his share, and he wants more when you have more money.

Sorry to ruin the game for you, Howie, but I'm shouting "DEAL" at the first offer.

Speaking of "deal," or at least dealing with me, the time has officially come for me to start making a cry for aid. I have a week's worth of funds left. I usually wait until I have only a day or two's worth of funds, but I've decided to be smart this time around. What's more, I am seeing my doctor a week from tomorrow, in which I'm going to have to probably pay a little extra for some of my meds. I tried to say as much the last entry of last month, but no one has responded. So, my friends...I hope you are still able to deal with me and my excessive needs, but I could use the help...and hopefully for the last month. As always, the help is appreciated in advance. Once I'm under Siege's roof, my financial needs should be severely reduced. Until then...Ummm...Deal?

Back to the madness of packing. Be well, all.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Attack of the Giant Plot Hole!

As I sit in my apartment, preparing to move...or sitting around thinking about preparing to move, I have been rotating the Spider-Man movies through my DVD player for background noise. I have been very happy to have these movies. To see a comic book character that I grew up with come to life on the silver screen is awesome. But as I listen to these movies in the background, it finally occurred to me that the role of Mary Jane Watson was written as an idiot.

The evidence? Well, let's start with...

Movie 1: MJ first meets Spidey when the Green Goblin attacks the festival. Once she's in a safe place, the two characters have a brief dialogue exchange. Peter Parker, beneath the Spider-Man mask, makes no effort to disguise his voice. He doesn't make it deeper, higher, and it doesn't seem muffled by the mask. In fact, when he says the line, "You know who I am," his tone inflection is exactly as it was in earlier conversations he had with Mary Jane. Oddly, MJ never pauses to say, "You know...you sound EXACTLY like my friend, Peter Parker." But I let it slide. She was just through a terrifying experience, and this guy leaping around the city with her hanging on to his neck may have been a little distracting.

Skip to later in the movie, when MJ exits from an audition for a soap opera. Peter is waiting, and his exact line is, "I was in the neighborhood." They chat a couple of minutes, and then MJ is off to dinner with Harry...but is attacked by living comic book goons who seem to be looking to have some fun that MJ doesn't want to have with them. Suddenly Spider-Man is there, and he saves her...again. In the few words of banter, Spidey says, "I was in the neighborhood," using almost the same exact tone inflection he'd used just minutes before. If the character of Mary Jane Watson had operating brain cells, it would have clicked that he not only sounded like Peter Parker, but was now using the same line. But she was mere moments from being raped, and then there is the infamous upside-down kiss, so I'll let her slide just one more time.

Alas, the first movie ends with Mary Jane confessing her love for Peter, and they kiss. He turns her down, and as he walks away, she touches her lips. MJ is apparently a woman who can remember a good kiss, and this one was revealing. Her look says it all. "Oh my G-d...Could it be? Is my good friend Peter Parker really Spider-Man?!?" No time to find out, though, as the film's last CG effects take over, and we end with Spidey swinging away from an American flag.

Movie 2: Among the various scenes that open the movie is Peter's birthday party. There's Harry, who has made it no secret to anyone that he wants Spider-Man to pay for his father's death. Oddly, it would seem that Harry never made a police report. If he had, encounters in the movie where the police are on hand while the web-slinger is around would have the cops firing on Doc Ock and our hero. No...Harry seems to think he can handle Spidey by his lonesome.

But we're focusing on the love triangle of Peter, Mary Jane, and Spider-Man. In this movie, MJ is starting to get a clue. And as "Act 2" comes to an end, she's getting some ideas. In fact, she corners Peter and asks for a kiss. This will be the test to prove if he's the red and blue wall-crawler...and it's a kiss interrupted by a car.

Along comes the climax, and Peter takes his mask off for a Doc Ock. That always killed me. He'll pull it off for the guy who's trying to kill him, but he can't reveal himself to MJ. Ah, but she's right there, and she finally knows the truth. As if his bouncing around the room isn't proof enough, they have a few lines while he keeps a wall from falling on her, using his back to hold it up.

By movie's end, MJ and Peter get together, and our hero is off to save someone else...with the camera coming back to her standing by a window. This is actually an important moment, that shot of her at the window. The look on her face can be read in many different ways, but for me, it's a look of, "I only think I know what I'm getting into. This is a guy that swings around the skyscrapers of Manhattan, rushing into fires and jumping through scenes with bullets flying, and I'm in love with him. I'm scared out of my mind, but I love him."

As they say in the movie trade, FADE OUT.

Between Movies 2 & 3: Peter and MJ have a blossoming romance. In the third movie, we get a sense that he's told her about his adventures as Spider-Man, including his origin tale. How do I know this? The scene after Peter is told Flint Marko is really Uncle Ben's killer. MJ talks about the guy from the first movie, and knows that that guy fell to his death.

So we, the audience, are left to assume that he's shared many tales, and one of them must have been about how he finally beat the Green Goblin. Spidey never actually did any of the killing in that first movie. The robber tripped and fell backward. The Goblin was impaled by his own glider. And somewhere along the way, MJ just never connects the timing of the Goblin's death and Norman Osborne's death. We can assume that Peter kept Norman's secret, as it was his dying request. Peter's an honorable guy like that.

And that's where we come to...

Movie 3: How much of the plot do we need to reveal to MJ before she gets it? Do we need to pull out various flow charts to show her how it works? Seriously, at the start of Spider-Man 3, I want to leap into the screen and sit her down. "Look, MJ...It's like this...Remember when Harry's father died at the end of the first movie, and how in the second Harry made it clear he carries a venomous hatred of Spider-Man? These, my dear, and what's called plot points. We know you were around for these events. We have it all captured on film. So how is it that at the start of the third film, you ask, 'What's with you guys, anyway?' Were you secretly high when important events were unfolding?"

As I play the last movie, I want to throttle her for being too stupid. Peter is Spidey. Harry hates Spidey. And whether or not she knows that Harry knows Peter's heroic identity is moot. By playing back the events that only MJ's character would know, she should be able to do the math and realize what the problem is between Harry and Peter. It's not rocket science.

I also have a little issue with Harry's attitude toward Peter. I mean, once he discovers the truth about his father, finding the Goblin's Lair inside his home, he should have said, "Wow...my dad was a murderous villain that tried to kill Spider-Man, my best friend...Perhaps I should forgive Peter Parker/Spider-Man, since my father was an obvious psychopath."

But fear not, kids! They're currently trying to get Spider-Man 4 off the ground. With any luck, MJ will get her brain cells working, and the plot holes will be filled.

****************************************
Okay...Ranting about a series of movies was my way of unloading my brain of things plaguing me yesterday. But I promised an update on my dreaded ulcer, so here goes...

I saw a mystery doctor on Thursday. It would figure that I'm seeing my PCPs for over a year and a half, and now I meet the doctor with the fantastic bedside manner. We chatted for a while, with him getting the full story of the ulcer, and how it's been there for well over a year. I explained that how, on Tuesday, I was fearful the ulcer would mean hospitalization. It had been draining fluids, had the disturbing scent of cheese when I changed the bandage, and looked thoroughly infected. Wouldn't it be just my luck that on the day of my doctor's visit, the wound is draining nothing, there is no smell, and it's actually looking a lot better. This left the doctor, Dr T, to ask, "So what exactly are you wanting me to do today?"

"Well, that's just it, doc," I replied. "I'm not a doctor. I have a combination of scar tissue, loads of dead skin, and possible infection going on at the site. I was ready to take myself to a hospital last Tuesday, but now it seems what I was experiencing was the scent of decaying dead skin, and that was irritating the site. So, you being the one who went to med school...What do you see, and what do you think I should be doing for it?"

Really, I loved this guy. He said it didn't look nearly as bad as I thought, and added that my wound care was probably the reason it looked as good as it did. Cleaning with 70% isopropyl alcohol helped to kill bacteria almost instantly, and using prescription antibiotic cream, especially one that propagated skin growth, was one of the smartest things I could be doing. But to cover our bets, he wrote for Bactrim, an oral antibiotic.

And then he did the most amazing thing. He listened! I told him that I prefer to have an extra course of Bactrim at home, since wounds like this are fairly common with me. "Since I'm moving, it would be even better to have extra on hand, since getting meds in the future might be an adventure come October." He didn't even question my logic. Once I explained my motives, he doubled the quantity on my prescription. No Muss, no fuss.

So, no hospitalization to hold me up, and on with the packing. Thanks for the push, though. While I wasn't in any medical danger, it was smarter to go get help. Guess my father's stubborn attitude toward seeking medical attention became lodged into my being about some things. Luckily, I have friends to pleasantly bust my chops about getting it done. =)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Where were you when...

I grew up hearing people say, "I will never forget where I was when I heard Kennedy was shot." It became a thing to ask after his assassination; a cultural phenomenon and talking point. "Hey...Where were you when Kennedy was shot?"

The question changed on March 30, 1981. Suddenly people were asking, "Where were you when Reagan was shot?" Well, unlike JFK, whose shooting I'd missed by several years completely, I was in the car with my biological mother when the news came over the radio. It was quite the story, and as the smaller parts of the event started coming out in drips and drabs, the nation was fascinated. Once in the limo and speeding from the scene, Reagan said to the secret service agents covering him, "I think you broke my rib." But, no...He'd actually been shot, and when he started coughing up blood, he was rushed to the hospital.

Now, the question has changed yet again. "Where were you when The Towers went down?" I was glued to the television in living room of the boarding house I was living in, watching in horror as they collapsed.

Approximately one year later, I found myself in Manhattan on business. It took a two-hour train ride to get there, and Pennsylvania Station was not the place I'd grown up seeing. There were many new additions to the entire train station: soldiers. Their camouflage uniforms didn't help them blend into the scenery at all, but made them stand out. I gave a courteous nod to some of them. I spent a few minutes flirting with a particularly attractive soldier with a very big gun...

And then I came to The Wall. It was completely covered with love letters to those who had been confirmed dead. There were numerous written pleas about one person or another who had not been seen since the the Twin Towers collapsed. And along the floor...flowers and candles (unlit) lined the length of the impromptu memorial.

I spent a half hour or so on my return trip, reading the various messages before tearing myself away. Oddly, I found myself wondering where the superheroes were during the disaster. Marvel comic has so many characters based in or around New York, and I swiftly found myself running back to my childhood defense of wishing superheroes had been on hand to save the day. Would Spider-Man have had enough webbing to glue the towers in place long enough for police and firefighters to save more lives? Would the Thing have been strong enough to support a weight-bearing support beam to keep at least one of them from going down? Could Doctor Strange have whipped up a spell to undo the entire nightmare? We'll never know, because the only superheroes on hand were mere mortals with bravery beyond anything I can even imagine. I mean, people sometimes ask if another person would be brave enough to run into a burning building to save someone...but can you imagine running INTO a pair of skyscrapers to save thousands of strangers while surrounded by nothing but death?

I found a documentary on YouTube about it. Two brothers, Jules and Gedeon Naudet, were following the career of a rookie NY firefighter. They were on a routine call for a potential gas leak, when they all looked up at the sound of a low-flying plane. The camera seemed to instinctively follow the path of the plane...the sound...and then there was the massive explosion more than half way up the North Tower, and you can hear one firefighter saying repeatedly, "Holy shit!" And then these men - these incredibly brave human beings - piled into their vehicles and rushed to the scene.

There's footage in the documentary, still available on YouTube, (it starts here, and "logprof" appears to have the entire documentary on his list of uploads), in which one of the brothers was still with the firefighters inside the lobby of one of the towers. Commentary follows loud bangs that are occurring outside, and I am thankful the camera wasn't aimed in that direction...because it was the sound of bodies slamming to the ground. And one of the firemen asks, "How bad is it up there that the BETTER option is to jump?"

I'm off to bed. My sleep is a little off. And I have a day of grieving ahead of me. But when I return, I'll share the relatively benign news about the ulcer on my left ankle.

Be well, my friends. Today is a reminder that life is too short, and can be ended in an instantly by the strangest, most terrifying events. So, please...I'm begging you all...to BE WELL!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Okay, okay! Stop pushing!

Really...You people can be so PUSHY!

I spoke to Siege over the weekend, dissuading some of my fears about the move. In the past, I've had people tell me online that wonderful things were in motion, only to find out that I was being lied to. Not that I suspect Siege of lying, but betrayals of the past tend to affect my brain in the present. And while we were on the phone, I spoke of the ulcer on my left ankle that's been acting up, and Siege became yet another voice to tell me, "Stop screwing around and get it checked out!"

I don't wanna! *stomps foot like a petulant child*

The thing is that I keep looking at all I have yet to accomplish, and keep telling myself that I don't have time to be hospitalized. Nope...No time at all. I got things to see and people to do! Wait a minute. Strike that; reverse it.

But Siege made an excellent point that was hard to refute. "If you don;t take care of it now, it could become something serious that gets in the way of the move." Crap! Now I gotta do something. As much as I don;t want to, the point was a good one. Delaying this thing further will only complicate matters down the line.

Of course, one ot the silly, stupid things in my head has been: Wait until I get to KS, then head for an emergency room. They'll probably hospitalize me, and that'll expedite my application to Medicaid. Them hospitals hate being forced to accept 80 cents on the dollar, and billing me, sending me to collections, etc., will bring them nothing more. So a social worker will arrive, I'll sign papers, and hobble out of the hospital with Medicare and Medicaid in place. It's a shortcut that would probably work very well...except that waiting could result in a major hospitalization, putting everything in my life on hold while I spend weeks on end receiving IV antibiotics. And if it's infected and said infection hits the bone...? G-d! That'll mean another chest catheter, and then surgery to remove it, and that's only IF the antibiotics work. If they don't, surgery to remove things will occur.

I never mentioned this to anyone, but the news of a diabetic losing a limb translates into a rather specific message in my head: 10 years. It's not proven...I'm not sure where I picked it up...But it seems that I hear about a diabetic losing a leg or two, and then it's followed with, "and my (insert relation) died ten (or within ten) years later." It's why, when a doctor suggest years ago that he remove a few toes to speed up a lengthy hospitalization for osteomyelitis, my first reaction was panic. (The jokes came after I was mildly sedated.)

Anywho...I paused mid-post to call my doctor's office. I have an appointment on Thursday with a doctor I've never seen at my PCP's office. The receptionist was more than willing to have me wait until next Monday. I replied, "Never mind. I'll head for a hospital." That seemed to get her butt in gear and make an appointment much sooner.

Why won't I just drag my butt to a hospital now? Well, I suppose a psychologist would call it "illogical logic." Every time I head for the ER with something I believe is trivial, I keep thinking about the heart attack or shooting victim who needs a doctor's attention much more than I do. Those people are dying. I'm just uncomfortable. That's the "logical" stuff. What makes it illogical is that I have as much of a right to immediate care as anyone else. And my condition could be serious as well without my knowing it. My awareness of this makes putting off care an illogical decision.

So...The next couple of days are scheduled. Tomorrow, I will head out and do laundry; something I've been putting off for far too long. I'll also run a minor errand or two. Thursday, I'll be paying my last visit to my local psychiatrist in the morning, although I have no idea why; she can't prescribe my meds as I need them. That is, I'm going to want her to write me a three month supply, and she can only write a month at a time. In the afternoon, I'll be heading for my PCP's office to have this ulcer examined. Then, with any luck, it'll be home for more packing and throwing crap out. (Much more of the latter, I assure you.)

You kids can stop shoving me. Okay? I'm getting help! So NYAH! =P

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How to make bad days better.

It's really quite simple. All you need to do is commit a random act of kindness, and let someone's gratitude lift your spirits.

As most of you know, the 3rd of every month is the day I pay rent. Well, I got off to a late start because of the dimwits in the rental office. You see, I was forced at one point to lay down $25 for an extra gate key so that someone could come by and care for Nike should I land in the hospital. (There's more to it, but I'll leave it abridged.) So, as this would be the last time I'm paying rent, and Nike is no longer here, I asked management several days ago for my $25 back. Their answer was, and this is an exact quote, "We don't do that." This was a rather stunning answer, because it left me to wonder why I would BUY a key for something I didn't own. All was not lost, however, because one of the leasing agents (the only guy working in the office right now) said he would look into allowing me to take a $25 credit on my last month's rent. I told him I would come by on the morning I left to get said rent, and we left it at that.

This morning, I went to the office to find out what the status was of the credit, and the male leasing agent wasn't there...only his female counterpart, who knows only one answer to everything. "No." Now, I could have gone off to get my rent as usual and be done with it, and hope that I'd recover that money somehow...but then these people don't care about their tenants; they only care about the money.

I returned to my apartment and made a call to the Federal Trade Commission to ask about the status of my complaint. There is no status. The FTC works on behalf of groups, not individuals. Why they didn't tell me this when I filed my complaint in July, I have no idea.

My next call was to the Arizona Attorney General. This time, instead of allowing the automated phone system to push me into a corner, where I would sit on hold eternally without any help, I just kept pressing zero until a person answered. This person directed me to Neighborhood Services and wished me luck.

Neighborhood Services told me that if I walked in before 3:30, I could sit down with a counselor and discuss matters. This left me with a choice: go see them, or make my run to get the rent. Although the amount of money is relatively small, I was officially tired of being pushed around by the management here, and so I ventured out into the heat to visit their offices in city hall.

By the time I left my apartment, it was 1:00 PM. It was too late to get anything done but this task. The result was a foul mood that dominated my every thought. Over a mere $25, I wanted heads to roll. If I had ninja assassins at my disposal, I would have dispatched them to eliminate just about anyone who had irritated me in even the slightest way to date. "When I was five, a girl threw a rock at me. It missed. Find her and kill her anyway!" I was that grumpy.

My travels involved two bus rides. And as the first bus dropped me off, the second bus was taking on passengers. Unlike others, who could run to catch that second bus, I resigned myself to waiting for the next. I wouldn't even get near the bus before it was ready to roll, as this was a "cane day." (Need my cane to get around, unfortunately.)

Okay...With a wait ahead of me, I decided to step into the gas station at the intersection and grab a cold drink. As I was leaving, an older man asked the woman behind the counter if they took food stamps. She told him they didn't, and he was right behind me once I was outside the store.

Me: Hungry, huh?
Man: Yes. (And he looked it.)
Me: What were you going to buy if they took food stamps?
Man: I was going to get a hot dog.
Me: (after a moment's thought) Well, I've been homeless and hungry in the past myself, so let's go back in and get you that hot dog.
Man: (completely stunned) Really?!? Thank you, sir!

Once back inside, I also told him to grab a cold drink. It was entirely too hot to go without fluids today. His purchase cost under $3, and the man just couldn't believe someone would be this kind.

After we exited the store...

Me: Okay...Now that you're fed and watered, I'm going to ask something of you. Okay?
Man: (hesitantly) Ummm...I guess.
Me: It's simple. The next time you see someone in need, and you can help, do so. Got it?
Man: (grinning) Deal!

Helping that homeless man - and one could easily tell he was homeless - turned my mood around for the rest of the day. Even after I was told that I had little in the way of legal recourse when it came to fighting for my $25, I was still in a positive frame of mind. I sang the chorus of "Looking for an Echo" in the cavernous lobby of city hall (which made one woman smile as I left the building), brought a smile to a woman coming out of a driveway as I demonstrated my ability to occasionally be a courteous pedestrian, and, while exiting my final bus on the journey home, told a young woman that she was absolutely stunning. (I saved the compliment for when I was leaving so as not to appear to be flirting.) Oh...and before reaching city hall, I made a teen couple laugh by telling them they were entirely too cute together.

I'm paying a price for having wandered down town Phoenix. My feet were all but screaming for me to get off them by the time I hobbled into my apartment. Still, I made the day better for people I didn't even know. I'm still a bit annoyed about the $25, and I'm going to have to go out again tomorrow to get the rent a day late...but the utterly foul mood I was in has been replaced by spreading a few smiles.

I should do this more often. We all should. The world would be a far better place if we'd all commit random acts of kindness.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Epic Fail!

Oh, not for me. The "fail" comes for Cryptic Studios and their launch of Champions Online. As far as I can tell, the game launched yesterday, and then promptly smashed the game with the nerf bat. Now a majority of the players are up in arms, and I already know how Cryptic will handle it. "Sorry, but did you not see how we handled City of Heroes? If you didn't, that's just too bad, because this is how we roll."

I spent only a half hour or so reading their forums, but as far as I can tell, a minority of people said that the game was too easy. The developers then said, "Hey! They're right! Let's lower player defenses and damage capacity, and raise the power of baddies." Thus, they applied a patch without warning to the players, and suddenly the superheroes weren't feeling so super. They're getting the stuffing beat out of them by henchmen, and running away when they see more coming at them. It's that, or die. HENCHMEN! These are supposed to be the cannon fodder heroes pound on with their free time, not flee from.

Oh, I am so tempted to join their forums if only to say, "Hi, folks! Now you know why we weren't sorry to see Cryptic leave City of Heroes behind. It seems the moment they were gone, 'Paragon Studios' immediately started working on new ideas to bring the 'super' back to the superheroes."

Really...On and off, since I bought this now "ancient" computer, I've been playing CoX. (That's what we players commonly call City of Heroes/Villains.) The first thing that happened that threw players off was a serious reduction of player defense. But that was okay, because the game gives you slots for your character that you place during leveling, and then you fill those slots with enhancements to boost the character's powers. Along with the initial slot all powers have, you could then add five more for a maximum of six, then fill those slots with enhancements, and you could have up to...oh, I'm going to guess here, but I'll say around a 150% boost to your defenses. Different enhancements have different maximums, so damage could be boosted as high as 200% or better. It was still awesome.

Then came the idea that people were placing only one kind of enhancement in all six slots, thereby becoming, in the devs' eyes, as too powerful. So they hit us with what is commonly known as "ED," or "Enhancement Diversity." What was suddenly happening was that players were meeting up with diminished returns for their enhancements, and that diminishing factor was HIGH! Let's say a damage enhancement was initially worth 33%. If you slotted four of them, you'd have over 130% boost to the strength of your attacks before ED. But after ED, the enhancements went 33% for the first one, 32% for the next, 29% for the next, and then, BLAMMO!...1% for the fourth. Getting past 100% was impossible.

The lead developer, Jack Emmert, then TOLD the players that this was fun. He didn't ask anyone who was paying into the game what they thought would be fun...he just decided for us, and then gave a boost to damage to baddies in the game, while handing out another nerf to player defenses.

I was one of the many who railed against the idea of being told what I thought was fun. The concept was absurd. It's like telling me a superbly bad movie is good, and that I must like it. Ummm...No. It's still bad, and no matter how many times you explain it to me, it will remain bad. And this was the response of the majority of CoX players. We went to the forums and screamed about the utter stupidity of being told what was fun, when we were already having fun, and that trying to convince us we were now having fun, despite the fact that we weren't, wasn't helping matters. Cryptic's response? "Oh...well, that's tough. We have your money, and you have little in the way of recourse to get it back. Have a nice day, suckers."

With every major patch, commonly called "issues," (just like a comic book), Cryptic nerfed one thing or another. And what was really starting to get on the nerves of players was that there were no fixes to the growing list of bugs that came with each patch. Like the mission marker that's supposed to lead you to an instance door...Well, sometimes you have to enter a building to get to that door. So you walk into the building, only to discover the arrow is now trying to lead you out of the building. Step outside, and the arrow pointed back in again It was never leading you to where the actual instance was. This bug was there for TWO YEARS!

Thankfully, Cryptic moved on to develop Champions Online, leaving behind a dedicated team of devs that formed the company knows as Paragon Studios, with the sole purpose of focusing on the denizens of Paragon City (where the game takes place).

Enter Invention Origin enhancements, or IOs. There are basic ones, such as damage, accuracy, and defense. But they also created "IO sets," and adding these to various powers gave secondary bonuses. Different sets can do different things, like adding increased accuracy to ALL powers, or boost your travel speed, or make you resistant to a variety of damage types.

Jack Emmert told us that "challenging is fun, whether you like it or not." Well, Paragon Studios is taking a different view with their upcoming issue. Now you can tell the game, "I want to fight bad guys that are four levels higher than me in all instances, and I want you to treat me as a team of eight people when I run solo." (Eight is the maximum you can have on a team.) The message with this part of the update, which also includes finally allowing players to change the colors of their powers, is, "You want challenging? Then YOU decide what's challenging, and best of luck to you." Now that is awesome!

Oh...but poor Champions Online...They're stuck with Cryptic Studios and their poor attitude for the paying masses. What's worse for the clients is that some of them paid $200 for a lifetime subscription into a game that is now fated to fail. Yes, all MMOs go through a tweaking phase, where the devs work to bring balance to the game. But they've beaten the game senseless with the nerf bat on its first day, and those who paid for a lifetime subscription...well, it was offered with a "no refund policy." The masses were suckered by what is apparently a "bait and switch" tactic. I mean, Cryptic took all that money, and on the first day they radically altered the game. Their forums are filled with people screaming for refunds and about leaving the game. This is on DAY ONE! Yeah, Cryptic may have made some money off those who paid for lifetime or six-month subscriptions, but within six months, it seems they'll be lucky to have any clients still playing their instantly worthless game.

Kudos, Cryptic! This truly was EPIC FAIL!