Sunday, November 27, 2011

Remember when...

...music truly affected our lives? Most won't. If you were born in the 90s and grew up with (c)rap, pop, or hip-hop, then you can probably only recall music that spews music only about love, sex, or, in the case of (c)rap "music," murder, abuse, and money.

I, in turn, grew up when rock-n-roll talked about more than just love, although love was certainly a repeating theme. I mean, how many couples adopted REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling" as their official song? (Forgive Kevin's Cronin's mullet. It was actually popular at one time.) And if you wanted to feel heartache, despite the song's faster beat through the body of it, there was always something like Styx's "Don't Let It End."

In terms of songs that didn't talk about love, you had bands like Saga, singing about, of all things, a gambling addiction in "Wind Him Up." They also had a song about growing up and facing the realities of adulthood in "Goodbye Once Upon a Time." (That was my interpretation of the song. According to Wiki, Michael Sadler wrote it about his late father; something I can see in the song, as well.) Rush was also notorious for addressing sociological issues, and was still doing it come the 90s with songs like "You Bet Your Life" and "Nobody's Hero." In fact, when I bought their album, Counterparts, "Nobody's Hero" shook me like no other song in quite some time.

Of course, if you wanted utter nonsense, but still fun rock-n-roll, "The Seven Seas of Rhye" fit nicely. And most of the time, I had no idea what Yes was singing about, but their music was utterly amazing. Even when they briefly split, a song like "Order of the Universe" had my jaw scraping along the floor with the level of talent tucked into its workings. (It should be noted that, since I was a late bloomer in so many aspects of life, Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe was he very first concert I ever went to see. Also, my idea of the order of the universe was, "ham on rye, light mayo, no cheese.") "Order of the Universe" was my favorite song on the album, and you have to listen carefully, but there is a most amazing guitar-playing that kicks in at 6:45 on the video I linked. It doesn't last long, but...yeah...wow.

Pink Floyd, Yes, Queen, Saga, Rush, REO Speedwagon, Night Ranger...These were some of my favorite bands, and listening to them brings me back to a time when I was quite troubled, but also surrounded by great friends. Some of the music I listened to was heavily basted in love and the consequences thereof, while other parts were simply about life, or aspects of life. It seems like today's musicians are only concerned about relationships. The only new performer coming close is Chris Daughtry, and...

Well, before Becky and I were truly involved, she went to her first concert, which was Daughtry. His song, "September," takes me back to those "good old days." Me, Bryan, Terence, and Rick wandering the town of Wantagh, nothing to do but dwell on the fantasies churning in our heads.

Yeah...I miss those days when I was young and fit...and my greatest concern was whether or not I had enough money to fill up the tank so we could go for aimless cruises, blasting the music we loved so much.

I remember when...Do you?

Be well, and DFTBA.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Talking politics with Zeb

Dear Mr. Troll;

No, no...I'm not calling him a troll. His name, (although I know his real name, but choose not to tell the world), is Zeb the Troll, and he's a moderator on GitP. Despite that last fact...=P...I deem him a good friend. =)

Anyway, I'm in agreement with you on our political climate. The President hasn't received much cooperation from anyone in his term, which is why I call him "the Great Compromiser." He tries to be friends with everyone on both sides of the aisle, and that just doesn't work. "You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time." His attempt at trying to accomplish the latter has produced more drama than there was on The West Wing. If he cooperates with the D's, he ticks off the R's. If he tries to throw the R's a bone, as you said, the D's get their feathers ruffled.

The problem, as I see it, is a complete lack of understanding, or only the most basic form of understanding at a bare minimum. The transparency that Obama advertised at the start of his term has become somewhat tainted. "We'll let you see everything going on behind the curtain...from our perspective." I suppose this is what makes Fox "News" so popular. They are an ongoing editorial about how they see things, and not how things actually ARE. The D's are as guilty of it, but they're far more subtle.

So we have our politicians, and many of them want to be reelected to office. That's their main goal overall. To do this, they must please their constituency. Their constituency doesn't truly understand the issues at hand because no one is taking the time to explain it in any other language that "legalese." There are also various complexities to numerous issues, including the dizzying aspects of economics, that most people don't truly understand. (It's why there was that one protester with the sign, "Keep your government hands of my Medicare!" This is the intellect of what I believe is the majority of the nation...unfortunately.) The lack of understanding leads to simplistic demands, which tend to be bad for the nation.

Thus, we have politicians trying to appease their constituency by fulfilling the latter's demand with simple legislation that doesn't fit the complex government system we have. The former does this so their constituents continue to like them and vote for them. And the whole thing is gumming up the works in ways never before seen in history.

Obama trying to make everyone happy isn't helping, either. He's shown a kind of weakness in trying to make nice with everyone on both sides of the aisle instead of being more Bush-like.

Bush...I hated that schmuck. Illegally in office. Dumb as a stick. Embarrassing to listen to. He was a complete ass. But what I'll grant him is that when he wanted something, he got it. He was as stubborn as every other Texan who ever made it into the history books. He wanted tax cuts for the rich? He got them. He wanted war? He got it.

*sigh* If only he'd wanted a dictionary at some point.

Obama is a great public speaker, and I think that's the only reason he got elected. After that, his leadership skills - something rather important in a President - are sorely lacking. The good news, as I see it, is that it's not too late for him. At the rate things are going, there won't be a strong R candidate to challenge him in the next election. Perhaps an independent will come along who becomes a threat, but the R's are too disorganized. So I think Obama will see a second term, and then it's entirely possible that he will throw caution to the wind and take greater chances. Chances that he knows will be good for our nation. And with the Senate and House currently having such low approval ratings thanks to their R majority, we might well see more D's taking seats. Then Obama just MIGHT see things going his way for a change.

Now here's the thing I feel I must point out. I don't see myself as a Democrat or Republican. I'm on the fence with a lot of things, and so I await the candidate who makes the most sense. The R's have been babbling nonsense, so I've crossed them off my list. And unless Obama starts showing more backbone, I'm crossing him off my list as well. I'm awaiting a leader who will actually LEAD.

So...while this seems mostly addressed to only one reader, all reader's are welcome to throw feedback at me. Meanwhile, be well, and DFTBA!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The honorable thing

There's a lot of history involved, but Becky's dad is not her biological father. No...that particular schmuck was only around long enough to get 'Nita pregnant every now and again. Otherwise, he was off serving in the navy or servicing other women. Becky was all of six months when he walked away for good...kinda. I mean, he would spend time with his children when it made him look like he just might be a good father. Other than that, he was never really a part of her life.

Becky's dad, however, entered her life when she was two, and he was good to a family that technically wasn't his. Really, it was only genetically. In every other sense, he was "daddy" to Becky. Actually, he was always known as "Turk," even though he was perpetually thought of as "dad." 'Nita and Turk never married, but have been together for 20 years. Thus, when the time comes, it will be Turk giving Becky away, and not that other guy.

Now, when it came to meeting Becky's parents, I knew I'd be meeting her mother first, as Turk was out of the country at the time. It was nerve-wracking, as Becky and I were already engaged, yet her mom hadn't met me yet. We broke it to her as gently as possible, and in that instant I was made to make several promises. 1: Becky completes school. 2: No surprise wedding, in which we come home from wherever and announce, "Surprise! We're married!" (Her ex, Shawn, tried to set up just such a thing, which ticked off a lot of people.) 3: No child named "Oops." That is, we are to do our level best to avoid getting pregnant until Becky has completed school.

Fine. We can do those things. And since that first meeting, 'Nita and I have gotten along rather well.

By the time I met Turk, he'd already received the news that Becky and I were engaged, and had had time to cool off. (I think every father hates the guy who's bound to steal away his little girl. And with Becky being the youngest of three kids, she really was the baby.) He and I got along well enough, which came as a bit of a surprise to me. I mean, he's a Muslim and I'm Jewish. We should be rolling around on the floor, hands wrapped around the other's throat. The good news...? He's about as Muslim as I am Jewish. Thus, no fights to the death.

For all the times I've gone with Becky to visit her family, I've been overlooking something that I felt was important. It's a bit old-fashioned, but I'd never actually asked her father for his daughter's hand in marriage. Sure, I had asked for her mother's blessing, but not her dad's.

I corrected that on Thanksgiving Day. I explained how I'd been so wrapped up in seeking her mother's approval that I never asked for his. His response kept things simple enough. So long as I didn't interfere with Becky becoming a nurse, I would have his blessing.

And that was it. What had been plaguing my mind for months, but what I refused to do over the phone, was finally put to rest. I can be quite stubborn, shortsighted, and even downright rude. But at all times, I try to seek out the honorable action and follow through with it.

So it was that I had a good Thanksgiving. I know not all of my readers are here in the States, and yet it's my hope that as the Holidays approach, we can all count our blessings and be thankful for all the good we have in our lives. Sure, I complain a lot, but I've been given fair reason to do so. When I can, I try to see the bright side.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Collapses

This post comes to you in two parts. The first is personal, and the second is political. You can pick your choice of topic, or read the whole thing. It's not just freedom of speech...It's the freedom to read! =)

Anywho, I went to see the special specialist today for that four to six week followup that was to come after I got my spiffy new shoes. I'd been a bit worried, what with all of the swelling, and the fact that there was a portion of the bottom of my foot that looked...Well, not good. Either something is wrong structurally, or my foot is pregnant. If the former, I feared more casting. If the latter, I was seeing the opportunity to become rich!

It turned out that the waiting was longer than the actual discussion with the doctor. I told him that the shoes fit very well, and they offer a decent amount of relief...provided it's not cold and raining, which it was today. Then I pointed to the part of my foot worrying me most, which is a lump on the underside of my foot, kind of along a path following the third and fourth toe, in the area most people know as the arch. Mid-foot...lump...callus forming. What gives?

Nothing unusual, according to the doc. It's common for people with Charcot arthropathy to experience the collapse of their arches. That mine is only a partial collapse is actually not so bad. It could be the whole thing, to which I'd probably have some major issues with that whole "walking thing." There's also the blessing that this collapse isn't bothering me; it's just there. I have other pains in the same foot that are apparently unrelated to that collapse, so...ummm...yay?

Overall, the doc was pleased. There was no longer anything incredibly unusual. My foot might be an ugly, swollen, painful monstrosity, but it looks okay for someone with Charcot arthropathy. He wished me well, and said I should call if I needed more help.

I should call him next week and ask if he could become a dentist for a little while. =P

* * *
On with my political topic, which I think should be entitled, "The Collapse of the Republican Party." Honestly, I can't recall any political race as what I've been witnessing over the last few months. The Republicans seem to have a goal: make sure they don't get a President elected.

Now, understand that I'm not pointing at Republicans as a whole; I'm looking directly at the politicians. The very first of their party to take the Presidency said quite famously, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Republicans are so divided that they are fracturing any cohesive image that they might have had. And with members of Fox News leading the way as their heralds, they come off as a bunch of lunatics.

There are apparently eight people seeking to run for the big chair, and the party, as a whole, can't make up their collective minds as to who that should be. So far, from what I'm gathering while watching the race from a long, LONG way off, I have an idea of who should NOT run. In no particular order...

Herman Cain - The only things this guy can keep straight in his head are "Black Walnut" and "Nine, nine, nine." What he claimed to be a simple "pause" when asked about Libya came across as a kid caught in class by the teacher asking him a question, to which the kid, after hemming and hawing, finally admits, "I didn't do the assignment." And that whole sexual harassment thing...? The records say one thing. Herman says a half dozen others. Perhaps if he'd been honest and admitted his wrongdoing, as well as apologizing publicly, I might have come away saying, "Wow. That took guts. I like that." Instead, I shake my head in embarrassment for anyone and everyone in his campaign.

Michele Bachmann - No. No, no, no, no, no. She seems just as much of a crazy dingbat as Sarah Palin. Quoting MB, "Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produce that shows carbon dioxide is a harmful gas." Sorry, but when common knowledge escapes a potential candidate, I can only pray that she simply goes away, silently. (My prayers will probably not be answered in that regard.)

Rick Perry - Of all the public speaking gaffes he's committed during the debates, I have just one word that sums them all up: Oops.

These are the ones who've been so dumb that the spotlight has shown brightly on them. None of them should be running for the Presidency. If anything, the Republican Party should be begging them to step down so the spotlight shines on someone who knows what they're doing. Instead, it's like the circus is in town, and everyone is enjoying the show. Unfortunately, this isn't entertainment to me, and should be to anyone else. This is our country's leadership. This "clown parade" that's being presented by the Republicans needs to come to a stop.

Why bring it up? Because I had great hope that Obama would straighten out the messes Governor Bush left us in. But with "Yes we can" being effectively turned into "We probably can't," I don't see him as a viable candidate in 2012. And at the rate things are going, there really won't be anyone worth voting for come Election Day next year.

Okay...I think I'm done. Be well, and DFTBA!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Too much stuff in my head

This is a problem. A serious one. Because I want to get my butt working on my book about diabetes, but I'm perpetually distracted by one thing or another.

For starters, I see irony in the fact that my writing about diabetes was disrupted by the complications of diabetes. Oh, I got a little writing done during that time, but my head was often filled with, I hate this cast. I hate this cast. I hate this cast. In fact, just the thought of the cast and how it disrupted so much of what I was doing in life irritates me. The apartment fell into greater disarray. Intimacy between Becky and I went out the window. Showers became a much less frequent event. And let's not forget the pain I experienced, along with the occasional muscle cramp.

The cast came off, I got my new shoes, one with a brace, and my right foot...blew up. This time it wasn't just the ankle. It was the entire foot. Following the line of bones down from the big toe, right in the middle of my foot, an old break began to cry out in agony, as though someone were shoving shards of glass into that area. The swelling also affected my toes, giving very little room for the skin in between them to breathe. So as an added bonus, I developed athletes foot, which burns like fire.

I was supposed to become more active once I had the shoes. I even planned to start walking, which I gave a few tries. But then there are other old pains, like surgical sites and the like, that have started reacting to the increasing cold and all the precipitation we've been getting around here.

My personal life was not going in the directions I'd hoped once I moved in with my beloved.

Enter the world. I don't like what I'm seeing out there. The government seems intent on shutting down half of the internet. What's more, the government hasn't drawn party lines, but dug party trenches, and are fighting each other over every little thing, passing some of the dumbest legislation along the way. (Really...how important was it to have Styrofoam containers for their lunches over biodegradable cardboard? Who cares if "in G-d we trust" appears on our money, so long as it still spends?) The government is stall, and I believe it's because no one wants to work with "the Great Compromiser," President Obama.

I can see it now, as millions of senior citizens who have been rooting for the Republican Party suddenly find drastic cuts to their Medicare coverage. They'll be shocked, and start shouting about how this was not what they wanted...But that's what you've been screaming for. Don't you remember? You and your grass-roots nonsense have been wanting less interference from the government. They'll eventually have it and won't be happy...and manage to blame the Democrats, because they're just that smart.

Add to this the crimes that are being committed against our youth. The bullying that leads a kid to think of no other solution that suicide. The infamous rapist and what I deem his accomplices. White collar crimes, with the rich trying to get richer by stealing from their own companies or from investors. Executives taking bailout money as bonuses for a job done poorly. These are the things that keep popping into my head, and make me wish I had some magical power to fix this oh-so-broken world.

Not to mention my friends, who've faced their own crises. Ray's father dying. Julie's grandfather dying. Sophia losing an EMT friend to...something. Various friends combating their own illnesses, as well as struggling with issues of poverty. I want the power to fix their lives, as well.

Alas, there's no genie in a bottle, and no magic wand that'll cast a "fix-everything" spell.

Somehow, I manage to have hope. I still love Becky, even if we've been having a hard time of things lately. Julie's kids are a wonder, and I pray there are more parent's like Julie, with more kids like hers. And if all else fails, there's always Nike, snuggling up to me, simply wanting love. It helps when my brain is overloading.

Here's hoping that in the near future, I'll be able to get back to work on my book. I keep meeting people who, as soon as I mention I'm a diabetic, say that they know someone who isn't taking care of themselves. This book is NEEDED rather badly.

Be well, and DFTBA.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Calling Captain Obvious...

Come in, Captain Obvious! We need your help!

Or, at least, I do. And when you lend me your aid, could you do so in a slightly more timely manner. Like when I was at the podiatrist on Wednesday and complaining that it felt as though my toes on the right foot were on fire. Well, I reported it as a burning sensation.

There are some details in this post, so if a fungal infection of the feet bothers you, perhaps you should run along and read some other source of material. I recommend The Iliad. =P

Admittedly, it's a tough call to make. Because of the Charcot arthropathy, there is perpetual swelling and discoloration. Skin against skin tends to produce sweat. (I remember an old joke. Q: Why to people sweat? A: So they don't catch fire while making love.) So at a glance, things appear to be status quo. A physical exam is also hampered on the doctor's part because he wisely wears gloves. It's the smart thing to do when dealing with the sweaty feet of someone whose hygiene habits are unknown to you.

By Thursday evening, the burning sensation at my toes now felt like they were actually on fire. While tending to my foot, I noticed that my toes appeared to be...crusty. Said crust could easily be dismissed as dead, scaling skin. Since I can't bend my leg or foot to get a better view, I rely on my sense of touch during such self-examinations. As my fingers moved between my toes, there was so much moisture that when I removed them from between my toes, I fully expected to see blood. Instead, whatever the fluid was, it was completely clear. I would gladly have dismissed it as simple sweat, but the stench...! Oh, dear G-d, it stank!

I don't recall ever having athlete's foot, and to think of a disabled man having it when all he does is sit around in his socks seems contradictory. But I quickly looked it up, and saw pictures that seemed to indicate I was right on the money.

Thus, I did what I could immediately. First, I dried as much of the fluid as I could with a paper towel, trying my best to clear away that crusty material. Then I scrubbed my toes with another paper towel soaked with rubbing alcohol. In my mind, the 70% isopropyl alcohol and water mix is enough to kill just about any germ alive. I've even used the stuff to kill the bacteria in kitchen sponges with great success. But I am also a firm believer in my fallibility, and didn't have enough faith in my ability to get the alcohol everywhere it was needed. So, using a third paper towel, I dried my toes and then coated them with a little Gold Bond Medicated Powder that I have on hand. I also poured more powder into my sock before putting it back on.

An hour or two later, I was feeling a bit better, hinting to me that I just might be completely accurate on my self-diagnosis.

While I could TRY to treat it on my own, I'm just not like that with anything that bothers me, as demonstrated by my recent dental adventures. Thus, I called the podiatrist on Friday morning and described my symptoms to his receptionist. She, in turn, put me on hold and reported to the doctor. When she came back, she told me that they would be calling in an anti-fungal cream, and that if there was no improvement in the days to come, I was to call back to be seen.

My concerns involve the fact that I feel this topical fungal infection so badly. While the underside of my feet are miraculously sensitive, my toes tend to be a bit numb when it comes to collisions and cuts. My fear - yes, another fear! - is that this thing is a bit deeper than I can observe visually or by touch. My hope - yes, another hope! - is that the cream will address the problem and there'll be no complications. (Having said that, there'll be complications. Just you wait and see!)

I just wish Captain Obvious had been on hand Wednesday afternoon. Just the mention of the burning pain should have had my podiatrist looking for signed of athlete's foot. Perhaps it simply wasn't bad enough at the time. I don't remember there being any crusting along my toes during the visit. Then again, the doctor had a much better vantage point than I'll ever have.

Oh, I hope this isn't a sign of things to come. I like this guy. Between him and my PCP, I honestly wish all of my doctors were like them. But if the foot guy is going to start missing or overlooking the obvious, then I suspect there's going to be big problems for my in the future.

Well, it was certainly nice to get back to my usual complaining, wasn't it? =P

Be well, and DFTBA!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Something lighter...Fuzzier...

The last two days have been somewhat heavy topics, and my depressed brain can't handle it all the time. If I don't write about something less serious, I'm going to explode. In fact, I'm sorely tempted to rant about the Republicans and their ridiculous attempt at making a run for the White House -

Calm down, Rob. Caaaaaalm.

So, I wrote a week ago about wanting to rewrite Little Fuzzy for the fun of it. I wandered about the web, trying to see if there was anything else I could learn about H. Beam Piper's Fuzzies, and learned something new: that there was a third Piper novel about them. How I'd missed this before, I have no idea. But when I found it for a mere $1.99, I just couldn't pass up the chance to buy it.

I learned a few other things along the way. Mr. Piper, as he should be called if I'm going to respect his works, published The Other Human Race, later to be called Fuzzy Sapiens, in 1964...and then committed suicide. There's some argument as to why he ended his life. The argument seems to be between financial woes, family troubles, and wanting to hurt his recently divorced ex-wife. Whatever the case may be, there was rumor of a third novel, of which the manuscript had been lost.

It resurfaced in 1984 and was published under the title of Fuzzies and Other People. This was the book I bought...and cost more to ship than the actual product. Go figure.

Of course, I started reading it immediately...and have become suspicious. Did Mr. Piper truly write this, or is this someone's attempt at hackery? If the former, then the reason it wasn't published was probably because the author felt it needed a great deal of polish. I would agree with his assessment, as there are inconsistencies between novels. If it was the latter, then it was a weak attempt.

Here's what has me wondering what's what...The Fuzzies can speak, but have issues with the pronunciation of some English words. When given a vioce in the previous novels, there was nary an R to be found, with L's becoming rare from time to time. One of the characters, "Uncle Gerd" to the Fuzzies at that point, referred to him as "Unka Gehd." This was consistent in the first two novels. This third one, however, has the Fuzzies using the occasional R, and it has me thinking that either Mr. Piper was so distracted that he forgot an integral part of what made Fuzzies so adorable - their child-like speech patterns - or that the hack who tried to cash in on Mr. Piper's work had overlooked it.

But I'm enjoying the book. It's different, in that for the first time there is more focus on the Fuzzies on their own, and not all about humans and what humans do in one situation or another. I like the creative thinking, terming the idea of sundown as "the sun going to its sleep-place." A fact is an "everyone-know-thing." And Fuzzies don't die, so much as they "make dead."

With this bit of babbling complete, I'm off to get things done...I hope. Be well, and DFTBA.

Edit: I finished reading the book not long after this post, and definitely came away feeling like there was something wrong with the story. The previous novels weren't very long, and this one is similar in length...but it seems as though portions are missing. Just toward the end, in the second to last chapter that seems unattached to anything before it. That is, you have to look back and attach it to someone, which is rather messy writing coming from Mr. Piper.

Perhaps my fun project should be putting the polish on this novel? It could certainly use it, and, who knows...? It might even be something worth talking to the Piper Estate about.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dead too early

It's becoming a little too common of late. Youth around the world are being bullied to the point of wanting to end their lives...and they're doing just that. The latest victim, Ashlynn Conner, was only 10 years of age. She hung herself in her own closet using a scarf. While the local sheriff's department won't comment, it is being treated as a suicide.

Where were the adults during all of this? Why didn't someone take bigger and better action, other than saying, "We'll talk about it"? Her mother was going to talk with the school principal on Monday about homeschooling Ashlynn. Apparently, that was too long to wait. She killed herself on Friday, with her older sister finder her unresponsive.

I want someone to blame for this. I want to pay for what was done to this sweet child. She appears so happy in the one picture I've seen repeatedly. Are the kids who bullied her weeping at night for what they've done? Are the adults embarrassed for not taking action? Who goes to jail for driving another human being to their death? Who pays for it?

Can we blame the bullies? We look at all sorts of studies, and they tell us that bullies have their own problems with self-esteem, their spirits crushed at home by parents or siblings. Another study will say that the previous one is absurd, and that the bullies simply think they're beyond the constraints of socially acceptable behavior. "One must be at the top of the heap at all times. To do that, one must keep the rabble in their place." So it becomes acceptable to put down the geek, the kid whose family is poor and must wear the fashions of two or three years ago, and the kid that's overweight.

I was bullied...at home and at school. I don't know how I survived. Yet the feelings of worthlessness embedded in me all those years ago now carry on to my adult life, leaving me to wonder how it is that I deserved to be loved at all. The bullying continued into my adult life, as can be seen by the affects of my father's ongoing criticisms. (My favorites were being told I wasn't handicapped, despite numerous opinions of doctors, and having my pending amputation waved off like it was utter foolishness.) The thought to end my life crosses my mind daily, usually as only a fleeting thought when my meds are working properly. The only one who didn't manage to bully me in the family was Stu...until he adopted the ways of our biological mother.

So how DID I survive? I think, perhaps, it was the acceptance of those few true friends that I had. Those who accepted me for who and what I am, without making ongoing judgments about me. There were even a few who envied things about me...a long time ago.

What's envied now? My ability to endure. From all the garbage I had to deal with in my youth to the perpetual pain I've lived in for the last decade. Many are amazed that I didn't "turn to the dark side," as it were. Somehow, I maintain hope...I still find love...I manage to care, even about those whom I don't know personally.

I was living in Sayville, and it was about a year before I'd won my disability benefits. There was a park not far from the house, and I would often wander over there and sit to read. I was doing just that when I heard what sounded like someone hitting someone else, and a girl cry out in pain. I got up to investigate...

...and found a pair of high school students. They would have made a handsome couple, if not for the look of anger on his face, and the tears in her eyes...and the red mark on her cheek, where she'd been slapped. There are some who would have advised me to mind my own business. Really, what could some disabled guy do against an angry teenager? But there was no one to whisper advice in my ears, and so I confronted him about how tough he must be, smacking his girlfriend when the mood struck him. (No pun intended...seriously.)

Thank G-d I don't look sick. That's probably why so many have had a problem with my being declared disabled. The boy, had he wanted to, could've taken me apart. Instead, the bully immediately became afraid of someone willing to stand up to him, and said something to the effect of, "I'll go get my daddy if you don't go away." (Whatever his exact words, that's what his message boiled down to.)

The girl told me that "everything was fine," at which point I was left with little else to do. I didn't have a cell phone to call the cops, and they were on the move before I could get to a pay phone. Besides, had the cops found them, odds are that they would be powerless to do anything, as I'm sure she wouldn't have pressed charges. And she was so pretty, with a slight point to her ears that made me think of her as a pixie or elf. She could've had any guy she wanted, but chose the handsome, abusive jackass.

Inquiries I made afterward made it clear that everyone knew this young couple, and his abusive nature, yet no one was willing to do anything about it. It was as though I was the only human being amongst the inhabitants of Sayville.

I don't know what to do. Bullying is one of the issues that I wish I could magically make vanish. Alas, there is no magic power to make such a thing go away. All I can do is hope that there are people out there rearing their kids to be accepting and loving, and heroes to put an end to bullying when they witness it.

Be well, and DFTBA.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crime against humanity

In a very short time, this whole Sandusky thing has me wanting to hunt the bastard down and hang him by his parts until gravity rips them off. I've been trying to ignore it in the hopes that it would just go away, but then Jon Stewart did a little more coverage of the whole sorry story and I found myself wanting Sandusky to be slowly fed into a meat grinder.

Sports commentator Bob Costas was interviewing Sandusky's lawyer, when the scumbag called in himself. Bob went on to ask some hard questions, and not only could you tell Sandusky was lying, but the lies were bizarre unto themselves. I mean, Costas asked in Sandusky was sexually attracted to young boys, and the P.O.S. slowly repeated the question back. He didn't go for the ploy of instant shock. He didn't fall back on any sort of outrage. Instead, it sounded as though he was repeating the question while his mind slowly came up with what he believed would be the perfect lie.

And his "perfect lie" had me wondering what the hell he smoked before making that call. He stated that when he was caught forcefully sexually abusing a boy of 10 or 11 years of age that they were just engaged in horseplay in the showers. "Horseplay is when you wrestle your friend out of a pillow fort," Jon Stewart said last night. "Horseplay is pushing your nephew into the pool." And even if that ridiculous excuse could be bought, what on Earth was he doing in the showers, naked, with a child at all? And then to have Sandusky state that he enjoys the company of boys?!?

My mind keeps flashing back to Michael Jackson, whom I've come to believe was mentally ill on multiple levels. I don't think Michael could properly differentiate between what was proper and what was improper with kids.

Sandusky, however, comes across to me like a predator. And not a very good one, either. Confessing that he likes the company of young boys and was engaged in "horseplay" with a naked boy are some of the most pathetic lies ever spoken.

I had a visit with my podiatrist today. He and I engaged in some extremely off-color humor. My doctor said he was now accepting applications for an assistant coaching position, to which I replied, "I assume that would be the boys team?" Yeah, Becky quickly made a noise to indicate I was crossing the line of decency, and I swiftly made something of an apology. The reality is that absolutely none of it is humorous.

But what's worse is the concept that Sandusky might very well get away with his crimes.

First of all, how can he have a fair trial? Who hasn't heard of this whole thing. There are entirely too many mediums with which one can be exposed to the story. If I were picked for the jury, the moment I walked into court, I'd be harboring such hatred for the defendant that no penalty under our current legal codes would be enough to punish him.

Next, I have big issues with the judge involved thus far. She was a volunteer with Sandusky's charity, which, as I understand it, was where he was able to hunt for prey. That she didn't recuse herself immediately is worrisome at the least, and criminal at the most. She's the reason why he was set free on $100,000 bail, not bonded, and wasn't required to wear a tracking anklet. If she's hearing the rest of this...? G-d help those children, and all future victims of this creep.

Finally, there is something my podiatrist pointed out, and that's the possibility of some people seeing a gravy train being presented. False accusers are likely to come forward, hoping to see some kind of payout along the way. Once the liars are caught, it then leaves the defense clear to accuse EVERYONE of lying. Once that happens, and the lies are proven in court, the prosecution's case will unravel at terrifying speeds.

There are other disturbing things along the way...Like the assistant who found Sandusky abusing the boy in the shower. Only AFTER his grand jury testimony is this guy claiming he put a stop to the abuse; something he didn't include when before the grand jury. No, according to his testimony, he saw what he saw, left, and called...his father?

And Joe Paterno...After learning of what Sandusky was doing, he called...his boss. And that, he felt, was the end of his responsibilities in the matter.

It almost seems as though Sandusky had surrounded himself with a crowd as inhuman as he is.

I really don't want to hear about this any more. I see it as a crime against humanity, especially because kids were irreparably harmed, and it's entirely too disturbing. But there's no escaping it. I just pray that there's a swift end to it, with Sandusky learning how well child molesters are treated in jail.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

WAY too old to be "kiddo"

My favorite MMO, City of Heroes, has undergone numerous changes over the years. Quite a few changes during the first few years had players losing their minds at the "stupid logic" applied by the CEO, who is now gone a couple of years. Since his leaving the company, they game's improvements have been amazing, if not also rather complex. There was once a time when I could sit with a new player and explain the major points of the game within a half an hour, allowing for their questions and such. Now...? Oh, I don't dare offer my aid. The most I'll do is refer them back to the forums for tips on how to get the most out of their characters.

In their first expansion, the makers of the game introduced City of Villains. It wasn't the best in terms of writing, as it seemed the villainous characters players created would often end up fighting other villains. But what they did do was introduce a number of different archetypes that players could create. One such archetype, as far as I'm concerned, corrected something that was missing.

When you make a game based on comic books, you want to be able to mimic certain aspects of the comic book characters. One aspect was that of the Hulk. The more he fought, the stronger he got. With the original game, the best you could manage was a "tank." For tanks, your primary power was defensive, as your job is essentially to keep getting hit while others around you finish off the baddies. Your secondary power set was offense, and the damage dealt was subdued compared to the other melee class, "scrappers."

But City of Villains gave us "the brute." It was the tank, but reverse. You took an offensive power as your primary set, and a defensive power as your secondary set. And the fun part was that the more you fought, the greater your damage output. The game makers won't allow characters that are copyright infringements, but you could certainly crate "The Incredible Schmaltz" if you really wanted to. (Ummm..."schmaltz," for those who don't know, is chicken fat.)

Here's the thing...If you wanted a brute, it had to be a villain. If you wanted an heroic brute, that was your tough luck.

Then came the most recent expansion, Going Rogue. It introduced a starting point in the game where you could choose whatever archetype you wanted. Come level 20, you had to choose between being a hero or a villain. It was at that point that, if you wanted to, you could send the brute you created over to the heroic side.

Now, City of heroes/Villains, also known as CoX by the playing masses, gives free updates to the game. Like a comic book, then call them "issues." The most recent issue, "Freedom," made all sorts of monumental changes to the game, including free play (for two characters), a points system (that let's you "buy" various things for the game...so long as you still pay into it), creating ANY archetype and starting them in any starting point of the game, and numerous story arcs that are completely new.

For that last, one of the new story arcs includes a would-be super group called "The Shining Stars." Your contact, and the groups leader, is Twinshot. She's a trained veteran of some kind of military group, and as the story moves forward, all sorts of things get revealed about her. The story line is also, it seems, an extension of the tutorial. She sends you on a number of tasks that reveal more and more of the game's complex systems. Enhancements, notoriety...how to use the transit system. (Wait...you click on the gate to the tram and you can travel to other zones?!? Amazing!)

Okay...Backing away from the mechanics of the game, allow me to tell you about Thadeus Grimm. He WAS a tank. I didn't like him as a tank. I'd always wanted him as a brute, but when I made him, Going Rogue hadn't come out. I held onto the character I could make, and got him all the way to level 39 - a mere 11 levels before the maximum. And because of his back-story, he was to be a hero.

Y'see, Thadeus wasn't an evil man. He wasn't a good man. So when he died in the mid-1600's, he ended up in a rather boring version of the afterlife that was between Heaven and Hell. He spent centuries petitioning the Powers That Be to let him have a "do-over." Heaven was all for it. Hell was for it, too, but decided to make it tough to accomplish. They put his soul into a freshly rotting corpse, viciously marked it up with scarring and chains, and gave him the terrifying powers of the netherworld with which to do good. Seeing the disadvantages heaped upon him by Hell, Heaven placed the reborn Thadeus Grimm in Paragon City, where a hero is judged by his deeds, not his looks.

Suddenly, I could remake him as I wanted. I deleted the tank version and remade him as a brute. I then started playing through the new stories, happy that there was finally new material in the game. And when I was given Twinshot as a new contact, she, according to her script, stuck me with a nickname: Kiddo.

This is my gripe. "Kiddo." The character is over 350 years old, and she's calling him "kiddo." There has yet to be any evidence that she's a time traveler, and there are quite a few of those in the game. Heck, one of the Shining Stars states he's from the future, and so he MIGHT be able to get away with such a moniker for my character. But Twinshot is, on a guess, an estimated 325 years younger than Thadeus Grimm, and he finds it insulting. (Okay, *I* find it insulting.)

Yes...this whole post was me griping about a nickname given to a fictional character I created inside an MMO. Doesn't your life feel fuller for this information? =P

Be well, and DFTBA!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy 11/11/11!

Third time's a charm, right? That is, this is my third attempt at a post today. The first was a draft made yesterday that I was going to publish today; it was a spectacular "whine-n-cheese" session about how I screwed up my psych meds. Then, earlier today, I tried to compare the honor of Veteran's Day to the thoroughly dishonorable behavior of certain college staff members currently facing charges of sexually abusing MULTIPLE children. Those posts totally sucked.

Instead, I'm going to talk about something of much lesser importance. My desire to rewrite a book that I've mentioned before. Actually, it's two books, Little Fuzzy and The Other Human Race, which was later given the title of Fuzzy Sapiens. When combined, they became the book, The Fuzzy Papers.

Why would I do this? For fun. And that's the ONLY reason. John Scalzi wrote a reboot of the original novel, which I've already griped about. You see, I recently sat down and read the former books, and then sat and read the reboot in the hopes of finding some redeeming qualities. I didn't. There was only one good line in the whole thing. "Get off my planet you son of a bitch." That was it.

So I certainly won't be rewriting the original books in any attempt to make money from them. I just want to rewrite them for the fun of it. Perhaps make a few alterations to the characters, turning the main one, Jack Holloway, into a younger man, and adding a bit more depth to him. Update the technology and maybe insert a little more science into the science fiction. And this would be my little project, just to kill time when I have nothing else brewing in my life.

Which is to say, it might well never be completed once I start it. There's always something else that needs doing in my life, including original writing ideas. Some of the latter, however, become immobile by writers' block. So reworking a novel that already exists would be a way of keeping the brain functioning, instead of allowing it to be stuck in neutral.

As to the veterans who are meant to be remembered this day...? Well, I already offered Zeb a virtual handshake yesterday. And my father...? Well, he's a veteran, but I don't think he's taking my calls anymore. And while that makes me incredibly sad, it was him and Stu who chose this path, not me.

Be well, and DFTBA.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth

So, as I promised Zeb, as well as myself and my beloved Becky, I went to the dentist today. I knew the news wouldn't be good, but I didn't expect it to be as bad as it was made out to be. A part of me is a bit suspicious about what I was told, but I'll get to that later.

I'll start, first, with the ordeal of the x-rays. Through the whole of my life, I'd never had so many extensive x-rays of my mouth taken. They started by having me stand on a platform while a machine took what I assume to be a panoramic view of my mouth. Then I was brought to another room and x-rays were taken of my teeth, ten pictures in all to capture the disaster in all its glory. The x-ray tech was all business, and I was a bit nervous at having to make this dental visit, so I was of a mind to start cracking wise about what was going on. She made this difficult by her all-business attitude...so I made a joke about said attitude, and that thoroughly broke through her demeanor. That I was able to make her smile helped me to relax a great deal.

No rooms were immediately available, so I went back out to the waiting room, where I kibitzed with Becky and a few other people seated there. Again, bringing smiles helped me to relax.

Then I was called back to a room...and had to wait again. There were several dentists at this clinic, so the nurse couldn't tell me who I'd be seeing. "It all depends on who becomes available," she said. Thus, to kill time, I started futzing with my brace. Although we'd left early, I didn't like how little of the lacing had been available for me to tie off the brace. So I undid the whole thing with the intention of tightening it up...when the dentist arrived.

He was all business, too, and he didn't seem to have a sense of humor hiding anywhere on or in his person. He simply told me to open wide and started examining the nightmare that is my mouth. A nurse was on hand to take notes as he went from tooth to tooth. Every time he said the word "extraction," I winced internally. Twice when he said the word, he added "surgical" to the notes. I was liking the situation less and less.

I was a genius today. For the first time in ages, I left the apartment without my wallet. If I'd brought it with me, I could have the actual details on such things as how many root canals and drill-n-fills he recommended. What I recall quite clearly is the call for six extractions, with two of them being surgical. Once teeth have been removed, I'll need a partial denture to retain the spaces where teeth will then be missing. Oh...and this clinic doesn't do root canals, but they told me the could recommend somewhere to go, where it'll cost between $800 and $900 per tooth.

My rough estimate, overall, is that all of my dental work will cost around $7,000...and I have no dental coverage.

While I was waiting, there was a woman wandering about who, at first glance, seemed to be the clinic's prostitute. She wore stiletto heels and pants that were entirely too tight. I was wrong; she was the office manager. After summoning Becky from the waiting room, we sat down with this woman and discussed what I needed to do...

...and all I wanted to do was weep. I can barely afford to have one tooth pulled - the truly bad one right now - let alone six, along with all of the other work that was recommended. As I understand it, Medicare will take care of dentures and partials once a year, but this clinic "doesn't work with them." Spectacular.

Oh...Zeb? While the doctor didn't necessarily agree with my self-medicating with the antibiotics, he said I'd made an excellent call, as my infected gums would have been A LOT worse had I done nothing at all. He then prescribed Amoxicillin to finish what I'd started. So...nyah! =P

I'm going to have to find another clinic, one that works with perhaps some kind of sliding scale base on income, to address my oral issues. This one, with offices spanning several states, is entirely too expensive for little old me. I only went here because the first visit was free, and they were willing to take me so soon.

Now to my suspicions about this visit. I felt I was being pressured to get things done as swiftly as possible. Teeth that aren't bothering me at the moment were being advertized as being the greatest of my problems. I had flashbacks to when I was buying a car, where the salesperson was trying to make it sound as though, if I dared to walk out the door, whatever deal that was on the table right then and there would vanish, never to be offered again. This isn't to say I'm not taking the situation seriously, but it felt like high-pressure sales tactics were being used on me instead of medical care, and I didn't like that one bit. My mouth is in bad shape. I know this. But if it were life and death, as they made it seem, they wouldn't have let me walk out the door.

And if it IS life and death, and they let me walk, then Becky will have good cause to sue them into nonexistence once my mouth explodes.

I have calls to make while I chase what needs doing. I just wanted to report what I could, just in case anyone out there was worried about little old me.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Answers to comments

First, to Blue, who says I forgot to mention the priest in PotC 4.

Sorry to tell you this, Blue, but I didn't forget him. I was simply trying to forget him. That's because he was there for only one reason: to have a good guy.

As mentioned in my last post, the Spanish were completely underdeveloped. They COULD have been the good guys, but to give their characters any exposition would have extended the film to even more running time, and might have even proved boring because all they were doing was traveling from point A to point B in an orderly fashion. They had no "misadventures" to report.

This essentially left us with a bunch of bad guys. Barbossa, a villain in all previous films, wasn't really sold as being a good guy. Jack, being a self-serving and self-proclaimed pirate, could never truly be the white knight that a good guy should be. Blackbeard was, supposedly, our main villain this time around. And finally, Angelica was made to be somewhat deceitful and self-serving, in that she wanted her father to have his life extended so she could have her daddy back. (And what a marvelous example of fatherhood he turned out to be, eh?)

Thus, the film needed a good guy. Once they had him, said good guy could also be woven into the story to be the mechanism that brought about the much-needed mermaid's tear. They could easily have had other characters perform the tasks of the priest, and still gotten the tear when she was heartlessly shown the fate of other mermaids. And had the villain been truly villainous, he might even have tortured her until she cried in agony.

I also didn't say much about the mermaid, herself. This was because of a disappointment in what Hollywood deems a necessity in many films. There must be a love interest with whom the audience can identify. Unfortunately, while I was sitting here and watching the movie, I paused it and told Becky what was going to happen, just when the priest and mermaid were starting to give one another "that look." I said something to the effect of, "He's not just going to see her as one of G-d's creatures, but one of G-d's truly miraculous creations. She's rare and beautiful, and that will be the mechanism for him falling in love with her."

Really, it's a shame I can't just sit and watch a movie like a "normal" person. =(

Now to Zeb, and his worrying over my taking antibiotics without a doctor saying I should do so.

In this case, Zeb, experience dictates my actions. My teeth are in TERRIBLE shape. It comes from being a diabetic, taking the painkillers that I do, and a genetic history of gum disease in the family. That I unconsciously also grind my teeth, effectively wearing down the enamel, probably doesn't do me any good, either.

The bottle of penicillin that I was given was handed to me for just such an emergency. I can't get in to see a doctor right away, and I know more than enough trouble is brewing that I should be started on something immediately to prevent a nightmare. The key to having this bottle of oh so many tablets is that when I start taking them, I ALSO call for medical attention as soon as possible. If I had the power to diagnose myself, I would probably have at least a dozen antibiotics on hand. I don't I have the basic stuff for the express purpose of starting the battle against infection. Once I've seen a doctor, I usually end up walking out with a prescription with an antibiotic that will be able to target the infection with greater accuracy.

This is why I have so many pills remaining in the bottle that was given to me last February. (It'll be time to throw them out in a few months.) I only take them for a short time until I can be given the more accurate meds.

Guesswork? Dangerous? Maybe. But as I said, I have experience with this nonsense. And the prescribing doctor of these antibiotics came to realize that I know my body a bit better than most. And wouldn't you know it, I was right. While I'm not completely better, there's been a reduction in the pain.

The most important part of my argument - that which defends my actions - is that I'm still going to see a dentist. I made the appointment for as soon as possible, and will follow through with that appointment to receive better care. If I were stupid about this, I'd cancel the appointment and just keep taking what I have. I know better. This is only a precaution. I know I need a doctor's care, and will be going tomorrow. I promise.

Not sure if this has dissuaded you from your worries. Your arguments were all perfectly valid, but experience has taught me to do things a certain way. Thankfully, I don't have to do this often.

Be well, and DFTBA.

Monday, November 7, 2011

PotC: On Lackluster Tides

First, let me address the tooth issue. (This will allow for those who haven't seen the film to read a bit, then walk away so as not to endure the spoilers that are sure to come.)

My days started with a web search for the nearest dentist. It turns out that he's a block and a half away from where I live, and it would have been perfect to set an appointment with him. But according to the woman who answered, they don't do extractions. She did, however, recommend someone...who didn't have an opening until the 18th. It was then that I called my PCP in the hopes that they could recommend someone to help me swiftly. Lo and behold, I was given the number of a clinic that was able to set me up with an appointment for Wednesday at noon. This works out well for me, as Becky will be unable to drive me over there today or tomorrow. (He school and work schedule sometimes make scheduling appointments difficult.) Meanwhile, I asked that my PCP call in a prescription for an oral rinse that would help numb my mouth for extended periods, unlike over the counter stuff.

Now, there's a bit of a money issue, in that even pulling a tooth isn't covered by any of my insurance. It would have been nice to know this before we purchased both Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Cars 2. The cost of both of those movies would have covered about a third of the cost of a tooth pull. Thankfully, the initial assessment appointment is free.

And so, having mentioned the movie, let me get into it. This is the part where, if you haven't seen it and don't want anything ruined, you scurry off to another part of the internet. Especially since I'm going to say something about the Easter egg.

First, let me say that I think PotC 1 was the best of the films. PotC 2 was good, and had what I considered an excellent cliffhanger at the end; it left us wanting more. PotC 3 was also good, as it wrapped up the ongoing tale rather nicely. Call me a sucker, but having Will and Elizabeth have a unique "happily ever after" kind of ending was pleasing. PotC 4...? Well, Becky liked it, and I think it was okay. But I don't want my movies to be okay; I want them "good" at the very least, and this wasn't so good.

The movie opens with the usual PotC madness. Jack Sparrow is up to something, and we get to know what most of that is immediately. After that, it loses its direction and wanders aimlessly toward an ending of sorts.

In all of the first three films, we were treated to a triangular struggle. It was Jack Sparrow and company vs. some force that was "official," (the Royal Navy), vs. some insidious villain, (usually another pirate). In the second and third films, the "official force" was in the form of a maliciously apathetic character, Lord Cutler Beckett, who didn't care who lived or died, as long as he got what he wanted.

The fourth film forces four sides at us. We have Jack, who seems to be lacking in the way of "and company." Then there's Blackbeard. Then there's Barbossa, again. Finally, there's "the Spanish," who receive so little character development as to leave the audience wondering why they're there in the first place. By the end of the film, they are revealed to have only one purpose, and it's just a plot device. And everyone is racing toward the Fountain of Youth.

Now that we've revealed the players, let's see what they do in the movie.

Jack, as usual, is interested in what Jack wants, and that's about it. His loyalty is never in doubt, being that he's mostly loyal unto himself. His ability to care about others usually goes only as far as to what he can get from them. He almost has a love interest here, that being the lovely Penelope Cruz as Angelica, but Jack loves himself more.

And this time around, Jack's lines weren't as entertaining as they'd been in the movies before. It's hard for me to describe, as whatever the word is I want as a descriptor is lacking in my vocabulary. His lines had a way of meandering while still managing to make a point. In this movie, it was almost as though he'd run out of wit, and was straining with all his might to muster that old Sparrow charisma.

Skipping the villainous villain a moment, we have Barbossa, who apparently lost his right leg at some point between movies, and is now working for the Crown. I just couldn't buy into this drastic change, that he'd align himself with the Royal Navy, even if it was to reach a personal goal. In my eyes, he was a pirate and should have remained a pirate. What's more, after all of his evil deeds before this movie, would the Royal Navy REALLY take him in and allow him to captain a ship? In the first movie, anywhere the Black Pearl had been left few if any survivors. Now he's their pal? Nope...The makers of this movie were instantly straining my suspension of disbelief.

The Spanish...We open with a scene involving them. There is a brief bit of dialogue involving them. And then we are treated to absolutely nothing about them until Jack and Barbossa visit their camp to steal stuff. Even then, there's no development of the characters. They're just there. Then, toward the end of the film, they show up to break things, which was really their only purpose.

Finally, we come to Blackbeard, who wasn't nearly as bad as any of the previous villains. At one point, he's referred to as "the pirate all pirates come to dread." Yes, his magic ship and zombie officers make for interesting aspects to his character, but they aren't used to any great extent. There's a mutiny at one point, and he's SO evil that he kills...one man. After that, he might kill this one; he might kill that one; and when others get killed during his part of the story, he's apathetic at best. He just doesn't revel in his evil the way Barbossa did in the first film or the way Davy Jones did in the next two.

The whole race to the Fountain of Youth...? Not much of a race, really. It was merely confusing as to who was in the lead. I mean, the Spanish always appear to be ahead of anyone who started out from England, but they arrive last? It left me with a sense that they were in a rush to get nowhere.

But now we come to that which actually bothered me most.

There is a voodoo doll of Jack that is used to first inflict pain on Jack, then to help him make an impossible dive. (You really have to see it to understand it.) For the latter, the doll is tossed over the side of a cliff, into a river that's leading out to sea.

Cut to the Easter egg, as it's often called, which comes at the end of the credits. Ms. Cruz has been abandoned on a small island and is waiting for...rescue, I guess. As she sits there, the doll washes up on shore.

Ummm...So the people who made this film want me to believe that a doll thrown over a cliff, landing in a river leading out to sea, just happens to make its way through the depths to the one small island where a character from the movie just happen to be stranded? Really? It wasn't swallowed by a big fish or snagged on some coral? Even if it floated, wouldn't it have simply washed back up on the shore near the river's mouth? It went all the way out to sea to end up right there, at just the right time...? And this is what we're left with, with the implied concept that this will carry us into the fifth movie, or somehow connect it to the sixth? (Yes, Disney hopes PotC 4 is the start of another trilogy.) Nope...They took my suspension of disbelief and cemented it to the ground on that one.

It wasn't ALL bad. But there was a quote used to describe this movie that stated, "The best of the Pirates franchise," to which I now read with wild-eyed confusion to ask, "It was?!?" No...the best was the original, which was a fairly original tale itself. There was a bit of dialogue in the first, in which Elizabeth asks, "Whose side is Jack on?" Will replies, "At the moment...?" That was the embodiment of the film, as every twist came with Jack's next series of antics. But now...? Jack is firmly set on Jack's side of things, and it would seem that everyone else is a bit player. My opinion is that they stop before they further ruin a good thing. Besides...if they keep rehashing the soundtrack alone, they'll wear out the original recordings.

And for the record, Becky liked the movie. Then again, she just wants to be entertained, and doesn't watch movies with the hypercritical eye that I do. It's the side effect of having taught myself to write screenplays. I can't "just watch a movie" anymore. =(

Be well, all, and DFTBA.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Can't get it write

For the last few weeks, I've tried to start a few meaningful posts. Something other than, "Woe is me. I done gone and hurt myself again. Now I gots a pain in my one part and the other part, and I'm going to see another doctor about everything." I tried to discuss the division of government, and how our two-party system has become so divided that they can't even talk to one another, adding that whatever other parties out there are treated as though they don't exist. I then tried writing about my loss of faith, and how I feel somewhat adrift in the vast sea of religions...which also seems to be a great way of dividing humanity. And lest I forget, there were a few attempts at writing posts that were simply no one's business except mine and Becky's.

But you know what? I can't get the ideas out. Not in any sort of coherent fashion, that is. Why? Because of all the damnable PAIN I'm in! And being in pain...well, that always helps to write about being in pain. I'm almost at my wits end with it. And my popping pills isn't really helping as much as it once did.

Take the pain in my foot, for example. I was given lidocaine patches to help with it, as well as the mystery pain in my hip. Lidocaine, for those who don't know, is a local anesthetic. I can cut the patches to any size I feel necessary, and then apply them to the parts that hurt. I was told by both the pain specialist and the pharmacist that the medication would penetrate deep into the sites and help. They do, to a degree...but then I can't wear them all the time. It's 12 hours on, 12 hours off. During the 12 hours off, the pain slowly climbs back to its original level, and that, without any doubt in my mind, sucks.

It was also hit of miss with the placement of the patches. Mind you, these things are pretty big. I was tempted to simply take the whole thing and place it over my entire foot - the top of the foot, that is - and pray my foot would go numb. But by way experimentation, I found the spots where the patches seem to help most. One is directly over the arch of the foot, where I tend to experience the most of my pain. The other, quite oddly, is over the scar where the most work was done during the multiple nerve decompression years ago. Why that latter site gives me as much relief as it does is a bit of a mystery to me.

But I've also been placing these patches in an unexpected place: my right cheek, over the cheek bone. (The zygomatic arch, according to my beloved nursing student and fiancee.) Why? Because over the last week or so, I've developed a toothache. If you've never had a "good toothache," then you're missing out. The tooth aggravates a nerve, and that nerve gets so thoroughly pissed off that more than the tooth ends up hurting. In fact, at first I couldn't locate which tooth it was. It turns out it's the last tooth way in the back on the right side. But I feel it in that tooth...on all the teeth along that section of my mouth...along the joint of my jaw...and down my neck.

Thinking the tooth issue was only a rampant case of gingivitis, I started taking some penicillin I have in the house for infection emergencies. Trust me; a diabetic with basic antibiotics on hand can't go wrong by taking coverage doses until he/she can get into a doctor. Alas, the antibiotics haven't helped all that much. The tooth has got to go. So tomorrow, I will be seeking a dentist to pull the little bastard.

And so we are back at one of my seemingly favorite topics: pain. Excluding this post, there are 106 posts with "pain" as one of the tags. And you'd think that with all of the medications I take to address pain that I would have less of it to talk about. Instead, I seem to always have more.

This then becomes emotionally distressing. If I'm experiencing all of this pain now, how bad will it be in the years to come? And when these pains spread or become more intense, how will I be able to address them when my body has become dulled to the effects of medications?

Becky and I had one of our chats last night. It was about us, and whatever difficulties we're facing at this moment. There are some issues that we have individually, and I asked about how we can tackle them TOGETHER. This is not anything to which she's accustomed. Much of her life has been spent with someone - almost anyone - being in opposition to her goals. She has a hard time talking about anything existing in a negative light because she feels she's going to be reprimanded, or put down, or be dissuaded from pursuing any one of her goals. She's unaccustomed to someone like me who comes along as speaks openly about the problem, and then wanted her cooperation to bring about a solution. She more accustomed to giving up.

When it comes to me and my medical issues, Becky wants to help me the way I want to help her. But there are no specific actions that can be taken to resolve my problems. And she's left to feel helpless as she sees me suffering. For that, I feel like my falling in love with her, and her falling in love with me, is a disservice. I keep having visions of a future filled with her having to care for her husband, as well as her kids. And my thoughts on the matter are that she should have done better, and should do better.

Now look at what I've gone and done. I've given her reason to reprimand me. =P

The fact is that because we're in love, we feel strongly about wanting to help one another, and to build a future TOGETHER. So the most I can hope for is that she goes ahead and gets her nursing degree, and then she can tend to all my aches and pains in as professional a manner as possible. I can handle a subcutaneous shot. She'll be able to handle any IV or IM shots I might need.

So there you go, my love. One more point of inspiration to kick butt in school. Not that I want one of your goals to be taking care of your broken groom-to-be, but it certainly couldn't hurt...hurt more than usual, that is.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In Memoriam

It was a week ago when I learned the my old housemate Ray's father was severely ill. I would have known it two weeks earlier had Facebook just kept its news feed as it was when I'd joined the site. I honestly didn't expect Ray to sit and write individual letters under the circumstances, so I was taken a bit unawares that things had become so dire.

Ray's dad, Bill, had been hospitalized because he was having difficulty doing much of anything. Putting on his pants knocked the wind out of him. Exams and tests revealed that there was a build up of plaque INSIDE the left chambers of his heart, which made pumping the blood to where it was needed a chore. He was given a 70% chance to be dead by or before Thanksgiving.

It happened Thursday. I don't have a specific time, and the time stamp of these posts has always been a little wonky. Bill was staying with Ray and Ray's sister, the two "kids" thrown from the role of offspring to caregivers. While hospice care was available, it was deemed better emotionally for Bill that he be with family during his last days. It wasn't easy on them, but love has a habit of overriding that which is "convenient."

Prior to his heart issues, Bill had gone through plenty of illness. Cancer and diabetes had mad his life complicated enough. He struggled financially. Heck, it would seem that the path of his life was never easy. But toward his last days, Bill made it clear what he wanted when he passed. Quoting him via Ray, "Throw a big party for me, and make sure everyone has a good time; that's all I want."

I will be unable to attend such a gathering. Becky has offered to help get me there for whatever will happen, but we really can't afford it. She floated the idea of me staying with Ray and company, but they'll have enough on their collective plates, and having a guest staying with them isn't my idea of being helpful in a time of need. What's more, I'm simply in no shape to travel. Being on a Greyhound bus while experimenting with new medications is simply not a good idea.

With the idea of celebrating a life, rather than simply mourning him, I will now tell the tale of how Bill almost caused me and Becky to have a heart attack. My memory is mush, so if I get any part of this tale wrong, my apologies.

It was during one of Becky's visits to me in KS. I had a doctor's visit. Since Becky had taken the bus to KS with me, we didn't have access to her car. No one else was available to drive us, as Ray's car had been pronounced dead some time ago, so we got Bill to drive us over to Manhattan for my appointment. This put me, Ray, and Becky in Bill's truck, with Bill at the wheel.

Manhattan, KS is a college town, and you could tell that on this particular day, as their college football team was preparing for some grand confrontation, and the town was gearing up for it. The streets were filled with cars, with some streets actually being closed off, just to make traffic more...adventurous.

Actually, I think this whole adventure was about medication refills, as I don't recall anyone having to wait for extended periods. So I got my prescriptions at the doctor's office; we went to the pharmacy to get my meds; then we were on our way home.

That's when we encountered...THE YELLOW LIGHT! When approaching a yellow light, one usually has several options. It all depends on how much road you have before you reach the light, right? Not in Bill's mind. A yellow light means you prepare to stop, and that's that. And so we were driving along at a pretty good pace, in the opposite direction of the college madness on the other side of the road, when, with only about 50 feet left to the light, it went yellow.

Bill slammed on the brakes. The rest of us were locked into terrified silence and the truck's wheels locked up, and we skid to a halt. As we all recovered...everyone but Bill, that is...I went into one of my comedic rants about how I was never getting into his vehicle again, unless I was either medicated in advance, or had Xanax on hand to take immediately after such driving...techniques.

It then became a thing for the next few days, being able to say that, "Yes, I got in the car with Bill at the wheel and was able to live to tell the tale." It seemed to be a known fact that being a passenger in Bill's truck was an adventure unto itself. The thing is, I'd had Bill drive me to one place or another before, and those trips were fine. This one...? No, this one was a true test of my cardiovascular system.

It's probably a much better tale to tell in person, in which I can then make facial expressions to go with our brief moment of terror, as Bill did what he considers normal, and the rest of us thought was suicidal. I believe I can pull off that "deer in the headlights" look rather well when I need to.

For all the other times I'd encountered Bill...Well, he was just a nice guy. Nice guys shouldn't have to suffer as he did in life. And yet I never heard him perpetually griping about his issues. Perhaps, like me, he had a place where he deposited all of his woes. He and his wife seemed to have done a great job rearing to very good people. And Bill had the added bonus of being able to spend time with his grandson, a joy to almost every senior out there.

"Rest in peace" seems to be the usual thing people add to such moments as this, without giving the phrase much thought. But after a life of struggling. especially in his later years, I certainly hope there is now a great deal of rest for Bill, as well as a great deal of peace.

Thus, I propose a toast: to William Max Hays...a man who never forgot to be awesome.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It only hurts when I live

Well, today was the day of the much-anticipated visit to a new pain specialist. Compared to the last one, this one was a virtual saint. In fact, she made mention at the start about my visit to Dr. Doom-n-gloom, to which I told her to erase all such information. "I've met several people who've either seen him or know of him, and not a one seems to think he's a human being. It would seem that he's only still in business because he's the only pain specialist that's a part of the major health system in the area. If not for that, he'd be out of business."

Then we got into it, discussing what's been done for me in the past, what medications I've tried, and what I'd like to have happen as a result of treatment.

What do I want as a result of treatment? I want to be pain free. As in, I get up and I'm not in pain. I stand up and I'm not in pain. At no time during the day do I even briefly consider amputation a method of eliminating pain. That's when she slipped in an important question: "Do you think that that goal is realistic?" Nope. Not at all. If it was, all little girls would grow up to be princesses, and all little boys would grow up to be superheroes. She asked me what I hoped for, not what I thought I could get realistically.

In a semi-joking manner, I also suggested the concept of finding a way to sever the nerves in my neck to kill all pain below that point, but somehow maintain motor function. Again, it wasn't realistic, but a man can dream...right?

I'm honestly not sure what's what when it comes to pain management. Different theories keep getting thrown at me, and I'm left feeling somewhat lost when it comes to judging the validity of such theories. Could an abundance of opiates be causing me pain? That was one of the ideas floated during the visit today, and it doesn't ring true. I mean, during my toe amputation I found that 2 mg. of IV diloted worked wonders on my pains. Then again, I pretty much avoided all other painkillers whenever possible while receiving IV meds. My current list of painkillers puts me at a fairly high level of opiates almost all of the time. So what's right and what's wrong...? I don't know, other than the fact that I have yet to "get creative" when taking my meds, as my old neighbor in AZ did.

Becky stayed for most of the visit, but had to eventually leave to get to class. I ended up taking the bus to get home from the doctor. Because of this, Becky wasn't there for the discussion of whether or not a morphine pump would be a good match for me.

Right now, the general impression is that it wouldn't. Infections treat me like a Petri dish, and like to grow on or in me. This is why, if you've been following along, I recently lost a toe. Opening me up to install a pump would put me at risk for infection. What's more, a morphine pump would be intricately wound into my spinal cord, which runs its own risks of causing paralysis if something goes wrong. Add to this the idea that growths can start appearing along those co0nnections to the nerves, which could then create new of even greater pain.

No...for the time being, there will be no pump.

Instead, we're going to try a couple of new medications, both non-narcotics. I'd have them right now, if not for the fact that I dropped them off at the pharmacy, then came home and collapsed in bed for many hours. (I believe I slept from noon to 6:00 PM, with only a brief half hour of wakefulness in there.) I am to take this one pill at night, as it may knock em out, and see how it works. I'm not sure exactly WHAT it's supposed to work on, but...Well, I have another problem brewing. It's another tooth ache. That particular pain was growing during the entire visit, and my concentration was slowly evaporating as we went along. The other medication is a Lidocaine patch. I'm TOLD it will penetrate deep enough to address the various pains in my foot and hips. I'll be picking these up tomorrow and start them as soon as possible. With luck, relief is around the corner.

The doctor seemed to be at something of a loss with me. It was as though I wasn't targeted enough on my goals for her. What she wasn't grasping, I think, is my level of desperation. I'm in so much pain that I'm willing to try ANYTHING in the hopes of getting some relief. In fact, I said to her, "Doc, I'm so desperate for relief that if you told me to visit a witch doctor who would cast a spell on me to cut my pain down, I'd be out the door, making such an appointment for as soon as possible."

With that in mind, I'm also going to try therapy. Psychological therapy. I learned today that there are therapists who help patients deal with pain. Again, I remain unclear on what to expect. Will this therapist have some methods of pain relief that cannot be supplied by a prescription-writing doctor, or is this alternative professional going to teach me how to smile when I want to rip off body parts? No idea. But I will give almost anything a try if it means bringing greater function to my life, as well as relief.

Well, almost anything. The only time I'd ever let Dr. Doom-n-gloom treat me again is if I was unaware he was doing so. You know...me in a coma, with brain waves telling doctors I'm in great pain, and they call him in to consult. But if I was conscious...? I'd start throwing anything and everything around me at him until he took the hint to get the heck out of my life and to stay out.

It's time for this old, broken man to get more rest. Be well, and DFTBA.