I was a sorcerer in AD&D. Here I hope to be interesting--at least to someone.

Monday, November 21, 2011


In just 2 weeks I'll be finally getting the surgery I've been waiting so long for.  The cancer is of a size that the surgeon will have to remove about 1/3 (give or take) of the kidney it's in.  To do this he'll cut through the muscles on my right side.  I'll be away in the hospital for about a week, then two weeks living with my Dad.  After that, I'll spend about a month at home, recovering.  In all likelyhood, I'll be unable to keep up with my email until after Xmas.  I'll also be out of work until sometime in late January.  I'm so glad I pay all my bills online now.

Friday, September 09, 2011


In just four days I'll be going to Chicago (Northwestern Medical Center) to get my second opinion on the Kidney Cancer I've be diagnosed with.  I don't really know what to expect, given that I've never been there before.  I have made certain to get a copy of the hospital medical records, as well as a cdrom copy of the CT Scan that was used when the Cancer was discovered.  I'll be leaving early (about 8am) to make sure I can not only find the place, but also fill out the stack of forms that will be waiting for me.

Tom will be coming along.  It's really terrific having a friend like Tom to help me in these crises.  I've already seen to it that he's listed in my auto insurance as an extra driver; he can take over if he needs to, just like he did when we were on vacation in New Hampshire.

I'll post again when I get back from the trip.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Poor Health

Isn't it amazing how easy it is to go from bad to worse?  In the course of my life I keep thinking that given all the problems I've had with my health, it can only get better.


Just last week I was diagnosed with cancer.

Let's see, so far...
1. Hernia
2. Deaf in left ear.
3. Tumor in head (VHL) #1.
4. Tumor in head (VHL) #2.
5. Tumor in head (VHL) #3.
6. Tumor in head (VHL) #4.
7. Tumor on left optic nerve (VHL).
8. Slipped disk (lower back).
9. Carpal Tunnel (right hand, wrist, forearm).
10. Gradual blindness in left eye (see #7)
11. Rheumatoid arthritis.
12. Osteoarthritis.
13. Gradual deafness in right ear.
14. Kidney cancer.

I guess all I can do is wait and see what's next, hmmm?
Here's a lulu: My current health insurance puts Cancer Treatment Centers of America on Tier 3 of my OAP plan.  That means I have to pay 20% of the cost.  Furthermore, I've heard that CTCA is very expensive.  Isn't that just wonderful?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Drive-thru Difficulties

There is something wrong when it takes 10 minutes to move forward 2 cars in the drive-thru.  It's worse when you haven't yet reached the order mechanism in that time.  What really pops a stitch, however, is watching someone walk in when you arrive, and in about 6 minutes, leave with 2 large bags and a cardboard tray with 4 drinks.

I can understand that fast-food restaurants tend to be busy; I can especially understand it at mealtimes.  What I can't understand is the event above occuring at 3:15pm on a Wednesday... at a McDonald's.  Outrageous!

What happened to the concept of "fast-food" in this country?  Did you know that I can get Chinese take-out at an eat-in restaurant--10 blocks from home--within 5 minutes of placing the order?  Talk about fast food!  What happened?  When I was younger, if I wanted fast-food, I could go to McDonald's, Hardees, Burger King, etc., and be gauranteed a meal within 5 minutes.  If the line was long, another register would be opened, by the manager if necessary.  I can even remember when drive-thru's started showing up.  You'd place your order, move to the window, and recieve your order quickly and perfectly.

Then there's the price issue.  I know prices are going up everywhere, but in some cases they're just ridiculous!  Take Hardees for example.  It was originally a fast-food place like so many others.  It even had a set of characters like McDonald's.  No Ronald McDonald, the main character at Hardees was Hardee, a cowboy with a heart of gold.  Lately things have changed though; the cowboy has long since disappeared, and the restaurant is only interested in filling its registers with more and more money.  Have you seen its prices lately?  Urgh!

These days, if you want fast-food, I recommend ordering from Jimmy John's.  The food is good, the price is reasonable, and the delivery service is amazingly fast.  What more can you ask for?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Health Care

I work at the University of Illinois -- a state operated school.  Just a few weeks ago, the employees received notice that the health care benefits we all received were being dropped, in order to utilize new companies and lower prices.  Our benefits are optional; not only are we given the choice of which benefits we want to have, but also we are give the option to not use them at all.

Personally, I am not a healthy person.  I have been utilizing the same health insurance since I was a child (my father worked here too--a PhD).  I will not give up health insurance, but I am definitely worried that I might lose the kind I definitely need.  One of my problems is gastric. I've had ulcers before; I really don't need more.

The state told us about the change on April 18th--just two weeks before our annual "benefit choice period" (the time when we can make changes to what we use).  The period lasts through the entire month of May.  It is now May 24th, and we have yet to be informed of our new choices regarding health care.  Also I believe I am developing another ulcer.

I can only hope the problem is dealt with soon.

Update June 13th, 2011.

After an announcement regarding new options was received during the last week in May, all UIUC employees were given 2 new choices for medical benefits options.  Both are OAP's: Open Access Plans.  I chose the Personal Care version.  I'm no longer worrying myself into a new ulcer, but I'm truly hoping that I don't have to take another trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Missouri.  If I do, I'll be required to pay 10% of the cost, after a $275 deductible.  The HMO I had before covered everything after a $200 deductible.

Update July 11, 2011

I received my new insurance card on Saturday.  Tomorrow I have to go to my doctors' offices and let them get the info from the card (they have to see it).  I guess I can stop worrying now.

Friday, May 13, 2011

More About Bin Laden

Well, I'm sure a number of people would think I'm going too far, but I tend to prefer real evidence.

I heard--the other day--that our government had proven the death of Bin Laden by the following evidence:

He'd been shot in the head (in the face, next to his nose), causing the complete destruction of his face, and causing one of his eyeballs to pop out; the bullet exited by way of a small hole in the back of his head.  The soldier who killed him said he had seen Bin Laden facing away from the door, and when he began to turn around, the soldier shot him at point-blank range, killing him instantly.  The soldier fired immediately because he was certain his opponent was carrying a gun, and was about to fire it.  Due to facial damage, identification had to be made via DNA evidence.


First, the small hole in the back of the head is indicative of an entry wound, not an exit wound.  Also, the large amount of damage to the face is evidence of an exit wound; something that is commonly proven in police and coroner reports.  This man was clearly shot in the back of his head.  He did not turn around.
Second, I'd like to know where Bin Laden's DNA was acquired prior to this killing?  Given that he was the most difficult man to make contact with, I'd be very interested in knowing how it was accomplished.

More later, maybe...  Assuming I haven't been arrested or shot...

Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama Bin Laden -- Dead?

Well, we've all been waiting for a bit of closure concerning Bin Laden for quite a while, but have we actually got it?

When Saddam Hussein was captured, tried and executed, this caused many American citizens to feel true closure.  We knew he'd been captured; we knew he was dead.  He'd been clearly seen on television, and we could easily recognize him. 

Not so with Bin Laden.  With him, we've been told he's dead (not captured, dead).  His body has been buried at sea, with no images of the body visible.  This does not allow true closure.  How is it possible that a claim on the death of a truly vile individual can be made without any real evidence that said person is really dead?  We are only taking the word of our government on this; how often have we been lied to before?

I am not a paranoid person.  I do not make assumptions regarding the questionable deaths of famous people (like Elvis Presley -- seen him lately?).  I am, however, intelligent enough to always question any pronouncements made by representatives of our government.  I was taught to always doubt, and I will always do so until the day I die.  If Osama Bin Laden is actually dead, then I am glad he will not foment disaster upon us again.  I will always remember, however, that he was only a leader, and that he had many followers.  We must remain vigilant, and not assume that all trouble is over.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Terrorism and the IRS

Have you ever noticed that the various criminals and terrorists never seem to go after the IRS?  I watch the news fairly regularly, and while I see lots of info about attacks on the President, Congress, Senate, FBI, CIA, etc., I've never seen nor heard of anything targeted toward the IRS, other than verbal abuse.  Why do you suppose that is?

I think I may have the answer.

I believe that punishments for those who attack the IRS physically are different than those that go to anyone else.  I believe that attackers don't have to worry about 25-50 year sentences in a federal prison.  What they'll get is a 25-50 year audit.

You've probably never been audited yourself;  Goodness knows I haven't; I work my ass off to make sure everything is correct before I send in my return.  I do know several people who've been audited, though, and the tales they've told me have been enough to make me completely honest, and very careful to not make mistakes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Still Having Arguments with Religion

I had another conflict with a "religious right" fellow the other day.  He felt the necessity to throw a citing from the Bible at me--the same one that always seems to be thrown at me and others like me.

"Man shall not lie down with man as he lies down with woman. It is an abomination."
Leviticus 18:12

Personally, I'm tired of fighting over it, so I didn't.  Instead, I used a different quote.

"Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die; it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations."
Leviticus 10:9

In case you don't get it, it's a requirement not to drink alcohol while in the church.  Not that anyone really pays attention (the Catholics anyway).  They always seem to be dipping into the "sacramental" wine, don't they?  I wonder when it was decided that they could violate holy law by simply casting a "holy" blessing over the substance before they used it?

It looks like the rules set forth it the Bible are only applicable when the church-goers choose to accept them.

Hypocrites, all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ethical Question

During a routine genetics study, DNA in a blood sample taken from one of the volunteer subjects (Adam) is found to produce a naturally occurring substance which can be modified into a cure for cancer. In order to produce said cure, a great deal more DNA would be required.

When told about the cure, and asked to donate more DNA, Adam refuses to donate his DNA for religious reasons. The scientists then take every legal means at their disposal to force Adam to give up DNA in order to produce the cure, to no avail.

Finally, the scientists arrange to have Adam kidnapped, whereupon, against his will, they take large quantities of his DNA, and in the process cause his accidental death. They begin to produce the cure, and prepare to make it available to the general public for free. It is named the Adam Cure.

A junior scientist (Bob) working at the laboratory where the Adam Cure is produced has a crisis of conscience, and breaks in one night to steal it. He is trapped by security guards in a room where he holds everyone back by threatening to destroy the Adam Cure.

Question: Should Bob destroy the Adam Cure, or allow it to be distributed to the general public?

I'd rather hear your opinions before I give my own.

Monday, January 31, 2011

My New Computer

I got my new computer on Friday. It’s a Dell Inspiron 14R. While so far I don’t have any problems with it, I do have loads of problems with the programming I bought for it.

It’s amazing what you don’t know when you work at an institution that has a separate department for computers. Changes in computers are difficult to follow unless you happen to be in the computer department, or you happen to follow such things regularly.

I wasn’t aware that in order to load new programming, you had to have online access. Apparently, the current software requires that you register online while you load it on your computer. I was doing this at home, and as such, I have no online access. I actually had to take it all with me to work—on a Sunday—just so I could load the software, and have Ethernet access to register it. Then I found out there was something missing from one of the software packages, and of course the company that makes the software wasn’t open on Sunday.

Now I am at work—it’s Monday after all—and when I get to my lunch break I’m going to have to call the company that makes the software so they can give me the missing bit of info so I can enter it into the computer and complete the registration so it can complete loading the software so I can actually use the program—after work—and with any luck have a bit of lunch as well…

When did the world become so frantic?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

Well, here I am.  Another year has passed and I get to celebrate number 43.  Somehow I just can't seem to feel like celebrating.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

ReFi Finished

I just finished signing all the paperwork!  I've refinanced my mortgage, and I got a much better interest rate.  The mortgage is a 20-year one, so I haven't added any extra time to the thing, and I no longer need to pay for mortgage insurance, saving me more money.  I'm quite happy about all this, especially since I won't have to deal with Bank of America any more.

Now I just have to wait about a week for the paperwork to move into the system, then I can seriously start looking for the new laptop I want.  I'm really making an effort to get a laptop now so I can carry the thing with me everywhere, and keep better track of everything I do.  It'll also be nice to finally get that library software I've been wanting, so I won't have to worry about buying books I already have anymore.

Granted, It'll take me awhile to enter the 3000+ books, 650+ DVDs, 400+ CDs, et cetera, that I have collected over the years into the computer, but it'll be well worth the effort.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow Routes

I live in Urbana. Because I live in Urbana, I hear the snowplows moving down my road (a "snow road") as soon as the snow begins to fall. This is a good thing. The town cares about its citizenry, and in spite of budget problems, it manages to get the clearing job done before people begin leaving for work.

A co-worker of mine lives in Champaign. She does not receive the caring, friendly efforts from her town that I get from mine. When she woke this morning, it was to find that no plowing had been done--not even the "snow roads". In fact, the plowing didn't even begin until after 8am.

Champaign, like Urbana, is having budget problems, but Champaign's budget problems aren't as bad as Urbana's because the city has apparently made commercialism their primary goal. Given all the efforts they've put toward making money, you'd think that they would set a goal to guarantee ease of travel in the difficult weather. Perhaps that is just not as important.

I think maybe the citizens of Champaign should let their city know that they are at least equally important--if not more important--than commercialism. Otherwise, they may find themselves left out.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Second Amendment Foundation

Today I received a newsletter from a group calling themselves "The Second Amendment Foundation", however, I found that their only priority is to end gun-control laws. Here's what I sent them in return:

To Whom It May Concern:

I don't know where you got my email address. I am a pro-gun-control person, but I do have a few comments to make.

I really don't see where you get off calling yourselves the "Second Amendment Foundation", given the fact that your entire focus is on guns. You do realize that there are other forms of armaments in the world besides guns, don't you?

Mind, I'm not referring to the types of weapons that are so popular in military organizations today (bombs, missiles, etc.), but rather the ones which, with adequate training, would be as useful today as they were in history (swords, knives, etc.). Besides, such weapons cannot be used from a distance, in the way that guns and other such weapons can, and are; after all, when was the last time you heard a story on the news about a "drive-by stabbing"? When did you last hear about an archer climbing to the top of a tower, and shooting hundreds, some victims being miles away?

If you really want to promote yourselves as advocates of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, perhaps you could push the government to change laws that currently exist concerning the aforementioned arms. At the moment, I cannot carry an unsheathed sword in public, unless I am walking in a parade, and I must carry it fully sheathed unless I am in full, 1st Class military or police dress. Granted, my ability to use the rapier I own is minimal, but I would be able to prevent a mugger from reaching me with a switchblade knife. For the time being, I'll simply have to keep it in storage.

In the meantime, unless you plan on supporting the right to bear arms of all kinds--instead of just guns--I'll have to ask that you remove me from your mailing list.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Lesson Learned

When I was in junior-high school, I took a course in algebra. I failed it. I used to think it was my fault. I was wrong.

It's really amazing the things we forget until we are later reminded. A friend was telling me of a teacher she was having difficulty with, in her differential equations class (a higher math in my time, but apparently not now; she's taking it in grade school!), and her tale reminded me of my failure in algebra-1. I was having a problem understanding a relatively simple concept, and because of that, I was feeling like the village idiot. Even the teacher thought I was moronic.

"What is your problem? Everyone else in this class understands this!"
"I just don't get it," I replied. "Could you explain it to me again?"
He answered, "I've already explained it twice; if you don't get it by now, there's no point in going over it again. Just spend more time on the homework, and you'll get it."
"But I don't understa...", I tried.
"What are you, deaf as well as dumb?  Just do what I said!"

There had been other students who had problems understanding, and he had helped them--sometimes individually--but apparently I was not considered a suitable candidate for such treatment. I found out later that said teacher showed favoritism for students that picked up math quickly. They appealed to him as the kinds of people who reminded him of himself as a student. His attention to them was always close and friendly. Anyone else was just someone to lecture to, not someone to pay attention to.

The class was not offered during summer school, and it was looking like I would have to take an extra class in the fall in order to maintain my credit level. Fortunately, I was allowed to attend the local community college, and attend a course which--if I passed--would give me credit for both junior-high school and college. While I was there, I had an instructor who actually cared about all the students he taught, not just a group of favorites. He helped me with my problem understanding certain issues; in fact, he calmly explained them several times until he was certain I understood the problems. During his extra help, he didn't once treat me like an imbecile. He was kind and perfectly willing to take time to assist a student with difficulty understanding. He was the kind of teacher I wish I'd had in my junior-high math class. By the end of the class, I was an "A" student.

During my further classes in junior-high school, high school and college, I found myself facing teachers of a similar nature to my old junior-high school algebra teacher. I did not, however, allow them to suggest I give up, or otherwise feel the fool when I didn't understand a subject; rather, I sought out further instruction, from tutors, friends, or other sources.

Education is important, and to allow an instructor to make you feel like a fool is to truly act like a fool. As an adult, I have never allowed such a teacher-to-student action since, and I never will again. If you are reading this, and you have a teacher treating you poorly, I strenuously recommend you speak with your parents and a counselor or a school administrator, and furthermore, seek tutorial assistance to aid with your educational difficulties.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pope Forgives The Beatles After 44 Years

On April 11, 2010, the Pope made a statement to the effect that the popular 60's band, "The Beatles" were forgiven for the statement made by John Lennon in 1966, "The Beatles are bigger than Jesus!"

This statement was so unpopular in 1966, it created a huge upset in the world, and led to The Beatles' official apology just a few days later.  Apparently that was not enough, at least for the Roman Catholic Church.

It seems truly ludicrous that the current Pope should made a declaration of forgiveness now, especially since the person who made the statement has been dead for 30 years, and can't accept it!

To an atheist like me, I'm sure that the entire subject is pointless; but the act is so funny, I just thought I mention it here.  Excuse me, but I have to go laugh my ass off now...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sick of Being Sick… And How!

Well, I’ve finally come to a surprise illness in my life: Cancer. I’m really not completely surprised; I’ve been expecting someone to incorrectly diagnose my existing illness as cancer, but this diagnosis had nothing to do with VHL.

This time it’s testicular cancer.

Mind, the doctor hasn’t made the diagnosis an absolute one, but I’m only a couple of tests away from a certainty. I had the first test yesterday. The second is a laboratory test I’ll get in a day or two.

Apparently the only treatment is testicle removal, a surgery I’d really rather not have. I mean, I’ve never really needed them, but I’m sure I’ll feel weird without them. I’ll have to get regular shots of testosterone in order to keep up my proper health. Also, the surgery will mean I won’t be able to go on vacation this year, and I’ve been so looking forward to the family reunion.

I haven’t told my Father yet. My Mother passed away only a few months ago—of cancer—and I don’t want to hit him with this just yet. I told my two closest friends. I also told my younger sister – who told my older sister. I’ll let the rest of the family know, when the doctors make the final diagnosis.

In the meantime, I think I’ll just try not to worry. After all, it’s just another surgery, and—goodness knows—I’ve had many of those before. I’m not afraid of dying; death is just another part of life, and I’ve experienced near-death before anyway. I could do without the pain, though. And I’d really like to keep my job now; it’s the best one I’ve ever had.

Well, I’ll keep up the news, as best I can.


I apologize to any- and everyone I've been rather short with lately; I've been in a near-constant state of worry because my doctor told me there was a strong chance I had cancer. Naturally, for a while I've been putting an ulcer into my stomach; but now I'll be able to stop worrying. I just got the news: the problem isn't cancer!

Again, I apologize for my quick-to-lash-out tendencies lately; I was desperately waiting for tests and their results, and of course, that could make anyone irritable.

Thanks for your support.

Monday, April 05, 2010

To Grill or Not to Grill…

Saturday, I wanted fish for dinner. My friend Tom isn’t a big fish eater (unless it’s breaded and deep fried), but he does like catfish in any form. I decided to try grilling catfish, and I bought two fillets.

I’d never done this before, although I had grilled other kinds of fish, so I was taking a chance on whether or not it would come out right. I used a special pan designed to cook small items on the grill, because fish often becomes flaky when cooked, and I didn’t want to loose it in the flames. I cooked it for ten minutes on each side, and when I checked it, it was white throughout, and very flaky; I determined it to be done.

Tom loved it. He ate every scrap of his fish, and he told me he’d have purchased another fillet if he’d known it would be this good. He does like my cooking.

I, unfortunately, didn’t find the fish as delicious. In fact, I stopped eating it about halfway through. I just didn’t care for the taste. As it happens, my decision to stop was a very good one. I can only shudder when I think about how much worse things would have been had I continued eating.

Late that night I was beset by a truly nasty form of food poisoning. I was sick throughout the night and early morning, and completely inaccessible through the course of Easter Sunday. This was very disappointing, because the family was getting together for a real feast that day, and I had to cancel.

I don’t really know if the food poisoning was caused by the fish, or by my poor example of cooking. I do know that any cooking of fish in the future will take place in my oven, as I no longer trust cooking it on the grill.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


For the last week, I have been on a simple diet (of my own creation) for the purpose of losing weight. I need to lose 35 pounds. I am attempting to lose the weight out of need – not a need to look good (that’ll never happen) – but rather a need to feel better. I am 35 pounds overweight, which, given my height, would seem quite reasonable. Unfortunately, I was severely underweight for the majority of my life, and so the excess weight I currently possess is causing me injuries, on many levels.

The first injury I noticed was my fallen arches. My feet were just not prepared for the rather sudden weight gain. They couldn’t cope with the pressure. As a result, I am required to buy shoes that are capable of providing adequate support. Since I find it difficult to get suitable footwear, I have been buying inserts from my local pharmacy. The cost of the inserts is not bad, but I’d rather not be paying it anyway. Also, have you noticed the new support analysis machines (Dr. Scholl’s) in stores? While they do perform a fascinating service, the support materials they recommend cost prohibitive sums to purchase ($50+)!

The next injury was that of my slipped-disc. I have a disc at L5-M1 that is slightly (0.2mm) out of position. It is also squeezing on the spinal cord between the two discs. As a result, I am finding it very difficult to walk, bend, reach, and do other physical tasks without experiencing pain. Given that I am familiar with pain—having dealt with it as an accompaniment to many hospital visits—I can function in spite of the pain, but I’d rather not have to. I have been told by my doctors that weight loss would aid in the reduction (if not actual removal) of the pain.

It sound’s good to me.

The third injury—well, it doesn’t really qualify as an injury—comes from the costs engendered by purchasing clothes of increasing sizes, and the difficulty finding appropriate sizes (I’ve never needed regular or average sizes). Granted, when I was younger (and thinner, due to Anorexia nervosa), I had trouble finding sizes too, but there is no need to lament the past.

My diet has just completed its first week, and I’m finding myself rather disappointed. Given my resolve, I thought I was capable of maintaining a limited Calorie count, but I suppose I’ll have to berate myself until I can agree to really cut those calories. Of course, it’s only been a week, but I would really like to get into that one-size-down outfit again…

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blackmailed by Cable Television

Over the course of the last year, I’ve noticed cable TV channels disappearing from my service. When I tried to contact my cable company, I was usually put on hold by an electronic answering machine, and I generally gave up after fifteen minutes.

Today, I noticed that I had lost 6 channels at once. This time the channels involved channels I watch regularly. Concerned, I called the 800 number associated with the cable company. Once again, I was put on hold by an electronic answering service. I waited. I continued to wait. I actually waited 30 minutes (I timed it!) before a service person answered. Her English was execrable. I had to ask her to repeat her statements several times, quite slowly. I asked her why I had lost a total of 16 channels in the last year – including the six channels I had lost today – and yet my monthly service fee had not fallen (in fact, it had gone up!). Her response was that I didn’t have the box.

I asked her to be clearer in her explanation. She said (in a clearer voice than what I had heard until now), “You will not get these channels back unless you get the box.  The channels will continue to disappear until they are all gone.”  A box is something that is attached to your TV and connected to the cable access jack. It is leased to you for a monthly fee which is added to (not included in) your existing charges.

I was infuriated (although I didn’t vent; I have enough anger management and stress illnesses already), and I asked for the location and business hours of the local office. She gave them to me, then asked if there was any other assistance I needed, as the lines were all busy (!!!). I said no, politely, and hung up; then I vented. I think I frightened my dog.

I plan to make a personal trip to the local office before I contact a lawyer. I am truly outraged. The cable company in question is the only one in the area. As such, it has an absolute monopoly over its cable TV holders. The statements made above are no more – or less – than a simple act of blackmail. Do what we want, or else. I am not a wealthy person, nor am I a person who will often allow my anger to lead to a lawsuit, but I refuse to take this lying down.

I will continue to keep my blog-readers (if any) informed concerning this issue. If you are experiencing this same problem, please let me know; perhaps we can make this a class-action suit.

UPDATE:  All channels reappeared!  Apparently the cable company received so many negative phone calls from its box-free membership, that it decided to forget the whole thing.  Hooray for the pissed-off consumer!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Are we children?

The government of the United States – that is, our government – seems to labor under the delusion that the citizenry are children who need to be led about by the hand. We are apparently incapable of making any intelligent, responsible, educated decisions regarding how our government is to be managed. Do you doubt my veracity? How many events in our history have been covered-up, made secret, or otherwise hidden away from our knowledge? Our government claims that these acts are kept quiet out of necessity, and that it would be too dangerous for us to be informed of their existence.

Are we children, to be treated thus? I think not! I believe that much of the blame for this behavior can be attributed to our own acceptance of our government’s deception. We listen to the distortions presented to us, and, rather than act to demand the unaltered truth, we allow the subterfuge to continue unabated. A good example is the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. It has been forty-seven years since the murder of one of our presidents took place, yet we have done little to bring the evidence of the event forward for full public examination. The government claims the information too dangerous to be presented to the public, and that riots and other acts of violence will break out if so done.

What is it about a politician that makes him decide to treat his fellow citizenry as children, no longer capable of any logical, intelligent act? Has he become somehow godlike due to his ascension to elected office? Perhaps in his newly celestial state, he has become somewhat confused, and forgotten that he was—quite recently—one of us himself. Perhaps we need to remind him that he has not become better than us; and that his representation of us requires him to not only listen to us, but also to act in a manner that befits our election of him. At any rate, we need him to reach out and grasp the information that has been denied us, and finally make it accessible to the public as a whole.

BTW, the representation of the politician as “he” is a generalization. It is not meant to be seen as only male.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


It’s taken me a long time to write this, but I feel it necessary to get it out into the open. I’m told that this is one the twelve-steps of Grief.

Have you ever noticed that there is a twelve-step program for dealing with virtually any condition?

My mother died a couple of weeks ago. She had been in the hospital to have a large colon tumor removed (benign) two months before, when the doctors discovered another tumor (unknown at this time) that completely enveloped her liver. After some serious consultations, the medical staff determined that the tumor was inoperable. The family was given two options. One, she could be treated with chemotherapy, and would likely live another 6 months. Two, she could go home and receive hospice care until she died (approximately two weeks). The family decided to go with hospice care. Mom lived about 2 ½ months.

Now, while the statement above gives a very basic listing of the events leading to my mother’s demise, there are several points I feel I need to make regarding them.

First, I was not told about my mother’s condition or her upcoming surgery until 8 hours prior to the surgery. My family had been discussing it (outside my company) for two-to-three months. Second, I was not informed of her post-surgical condition until 6 hours after the surgery (I was at work). Third, my family made the decision regarding her post-surgical care outside my presence; I had no voice in the matter. Fourth, my siblings have been treating me like an incompetent child since the operation, and even more so since the funeral.

I am a forty-two year-old man. I have had my share (more, sometimes) of pitfalls, disappointments, etc. I am not a child. I am not the family moron who can’t be trusted; the black sheep who can neither take care of himself, nor make important decisions. Yet this is the way my sibs have been treating me, and I am not going to take this abuse any longer.

I am not the big family success story that has always been expected of me. I am the eldest son – but not the eldest child – in my family. I am a liberal (leaning toward moderate) in a highly conservative family. I am gay. I am suffering from several irritating and rather painful health issues. I do indeed have memory problems, but I learned long ago to write things down if they are important. I realize that I don’t fit in to the family just like everyone else, but I am still a family member, and I deserve the respect from my sibs that I have always given them.

Perhaps at some future time I can “have it out” with my siblings. It would take a lot of work on my part; I doubt it would be easy to get them together, let alone willing to talk about this, but I refuse to let them walk all over me simply because my mother isn’t around to intercede.

I will post the results of the siblings’ meeting with me when it occurs, but don’t expect any miraculous change in them. Besides, it may be several months before it happens, and I have to live my life until then.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Message to the Senate

I live in a relatively small town, and I work at the same place that my father worked. I do this because it's the only way I can get health insurance. My dreams of seeing the world died when I found out I had a genetic disease. I want to have health insurance regardless of employment, previous health condition, or wealth. I also want everyone in the USA to have the same option. I want you to consider the fact that if you weren't working for the government, you could find yourself without health insurance. If you can't bring yourself to think about those of us who have to make every day count towards decent health care, you should resign your office and give it to someone who does.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday


Today is my 42nd birthday, and I've already received my first present. 

I got a warning from a police officer.

I was on my way to work, and I slowed to avoid a car who had slipped on some ice, when I hit a patch of ice myself.  In order to miss the other car, I accellerated, and took the car around a corner.  At this point, a police car that was hidden in a nearby parking lot turned on its lights, and flagged me down.  The officer asked for my driver's license, but didn't look at it, instead deciding to lecture me on the importance of safe driving. 

I'm not really sure how long the lecture lasted; I wasn't really listening to the officer.  I was looking at the clock, and thinking about being late.  Again.  Anyway, at some point the officer noticed my inattentiveness, and bumped me, to get my attention back.  I apologized, and told him that I really needed to get to work, and that while my tardiness is (virtually) habitual, extended tardiness could lead to job loss, and I really needed the medical insurance, given my health.  The officer then looked at my license.  His eyes popped open for a moment, and he glanced in my direction, then back to my license.

At this point the officer said that he was going to give me a birthday present.  Expecting a ticket, I was pleasantly surprised when he only gave me a warning.  He then told me to have a nice birthday, and that ended the event.

I'm told that today will likely be more of a positive time, and not getting a traffic ticket could conceivably be considered a positive thing, but so far my birthday has been a real pain in the @&&.  I can only hope that the day gets better.  Maybe I could win the lottery, hmm... ?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Mom, I Want to Be Paid!

A friend of mine sent me a note about a demand her son made to her.  She didn't really know what to do, and I made a few suggestions.  Her son has since stopped making such demands.  Here is an guess I made regarding their conversation, based on my suggestions:


So, you want to be paid a wage, and live separately from your family, hmm?
• Yes! Josh M. does it with his family, and he always has money!

Yes, well, Josh has a special arrangement with his family.  Josh’s parents operate their own business, and Josh works as a regular employee.
• Yeah, but he always has money!

You want us to pay you like Josh?  Well I suppose we could work this out.  We aren’t a business, so I suppose we’ll just have to pay for your chores, instead of giving you an allowance.  Is that acceptable?
• Yes!

All right, let’s begin with your basic work time.  How long do you plan to do chores each day?
• 2 hours.

OK. Do you plan on doing chores on Saturday & Sunday?
• No (frowning)

OK.  Because of your youth and inexperience, you’ll be making minimum wage, $8 an hour.
• Cool! That means I’ll get $80 a week!

Hmm.  Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.  You mentioned that you want the room over the garage to live in.  You knew that we were planning to rent it out for a little extra income, didn’t you?
• Yes.

Well, we could let you have it at a reduced rate.
• !!!  You’re going to charge me rent?!

That’s what comes of living alone.  Also, given that you will be eating here, we’ll only charge a pittance for food; but since you’ll have your own phone, you’ll have to pay that charge as well.
• !!!

Of course, we’ll have to consider the other expenses that come with living alone.  For example there’s the power bill …
• !!!

… then there’s the water usage and sewage fees …
• !!! !!!

… and of course you’ll have to cope with sick days, and off time.  I assume you’ll want to take days off from chores to be with your friends?
• Of course!

Well, we can’t be asked to pay you for work you didn’t do, so those days you won’t be included in your pay.
• !!!

Of course, we haven’t even begun with taxes.
• WHAT!!!!!!

It’s a common fact that when you’re working, you have to pay taxes.  Let’s see, I believe the low rate is about 20%, plus the other necessary deductions, hmm… let’s make it an even 25%.
• !!! !!! !!! (unprintable) !!!

Watch your language!  Say, did you plan on getting your own health insurance, or did you plan on keeping with your family’s arrangement?
• …um…

Hmm, I’m sure I’m missing something… I know!  TV!  We pay the Cable Company $75 a month.  Since you’ll be watching a lot of TV, you’ll have to pay your share.  Our family is made up of you, your father, your two sisters, and myself—that's five of us all told.  From now on you’ll be responsible for your share, one-fifth, which is $15 per month.
• But…

We were planning on including the TV costs in the rent for our new lessee, but if you’d rather get your own cable line, you can always pay the full amount—along with the hook-up fee of $100.  And there’s always the option of skipping cable altogether, and just using the old rabbit ears—the reception with those is rather lousy, but you get what you pay for.
• Uh, Mom?

Yes dear?
• Just forget the whole thing, OK?

Are you sure that’s what you want?
• Yeah, I’m sure.

All right dear. Now go take out the garbage, won’t you?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Today, while talking to my shrink (pardon me, my Psychologist), I found myself remembering a friend from my college years. His name was George Thompson (or was it Thomson? I’ve read too many “Adventures of Tintin”; my mind is screwed up.). Anyway, George was a psychology student, and was interested in parapsychology (far too interested by my reckoning).

At some point, he and I were talking about chance vs. luck, and I told him that I am a very unlucky person. He asked me what I meant, and I told him that I can’t win when dealing with games of chance. I told him that I’m unluckiest with dice and such other devices. He was fascinated. He asked me to spend an hour with him so he could study my unlucky tendencies clinically. I didn’t really see any harm, so I said yes.

We did it on a different day. He had a table set up in his apartment, and some dice; also, he had a pen and several sheets of paper. He asked me to first roll the dice without thinking of anything in particular. I rolled the dice—George writing down the numbers in neat little rows—for half an hour. After that, he had me spend twenty minutes trying to get specific numbers. Again he wrote down the numbers. Finally he had me spend the last ten minutes trying to get only doubles, while writing them down neatly. After that he thanked me and I left.

I really wasn’t expecting anything back, especially not what I received.

When I next saw him, he was very excited. He said that I’d been right. He had put together graphic charts that he said proved my unlucky tendency. The chart from the first part showed nothing fantastic; he compared them to ones he’d found in library books. The surprises were the second and third charts. Both of them, he said, were clear cases evidencing my tendency towards bad luck. He was virtually jumping up and down; I’d never seen him so happy about anything, let alone something as unhappy as this. Anyway, I accepted his word—I’d already guessed I was unlucky.

That wasn’t the end, though. He told me later that he’d written a paper about me ( !!! ) for one of his classes, and had received an “A-minus” for it. It was the first “A” he’d received from that teacher since he’d started taking the class (parapsychology)! The instructor told him that the only reason he’d been given a “minus” was because a proper study required evidence from several different times, thus giving a more thorough evidentiary chain.

I wasn’t really all that happy about it. He hadn’t told me he was planning to submit my little problem to his class. I didn’t get too upset about that though; he’d changed my name to “John Doe”, to protect my privacy. I was a little upset about the answer it gave me—my being unlucky and everything—but I had figured that out myself already, so I just let it pass.

I actually haven’t seen or heard from George in many years; he left the area after he graduated. I wonder what he’s doing now? Hmmm…

New Drugs, Part 1

I received a letter today from the director of a medical support organization that provides information and more to people with a particular disease. The disease is called Von Hippel-Lindau Disease, or VHL. This person was advocating a search for a drug that would (she hoped) help prevent the inception of the disease in children within 10 years. This was my response:


I'm glad your son is doing well. I'm disturbed, however, by your confidence in a new drug.

My own experience with new drugs has been terrible. The FDA releases new drugs in much less time than it did in the past, and as a result, all kinds of side effects have occured.

I've been taking an over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication (ketoprofin, related to ibuprofin) for migraines for the last 12 years that was released after only 6 years of testing. Now this drug has been taken off the shelves all over the world. It causes kidney damage.

If more time had been available for study before release, this problem would have been found, and I wouldn't be worrying about my kidneys. Personally, I hope for DNA research to lead to the ability to alter DNA--like turning off a switch--and stop genetic diseases and disorders from occurring. I'm certain that's farther than new drugs, but I'd rather not experience any new problems with my health due to a new drug.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Earn A Dollar, Go Buy Eggs

I'm learning to play the guitar; "Earn a dollar, go buy eggs" is a mnemonic I came up with to remind me how to tune a guitar. E, A, D, G, B, E.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A New Medical System is Needed

On Monday, I had an appointment to see a neurologist about my back. I have a slipped disk at L5-S1, and it is causing me pain in my back, as well as numbness in my right leg.

I went to the doctor's office, checked in, and sat down. It was a long wait.

I waited an entire hour before I was called into the examination room. The nurse asked me to sit, "The doctor will be in shortly". I opened my book and read some more. It was another half-hour before I realized the doctor had not come. I ducked out the door and asked someone when I'd be seeing the doctor. She said, "The doctor will be with you shortly". I went back to my book.

Within 20 minutes, I was tired of reading, and beginning to wonder why I hadn't seen my doctor yet. Within 30 minutes I was fuming. My doctor finally came in, and I couldn't help myself; I erupted.

The doctor listened to me spout off, then apologized, stating that his associate for that day had the flu, and he'd had to deal with both sets of patients for the day. He then spoke of my problem, stating that physical therapy should be enough for my symptoms, then he left. His presence lasted a whole 5 minutes.

Two hours waiting for 5 minutes of nothing.

A reasonable person would have had the other patients rescheduled. His staff had plenty of time to contact patients and reschedule appointments, rather than to make us wait. This person was obviously more interested in making money. These specialists are paid for appointments, not time. A mechanic or a lawyer is paid by time spent using their services; if they want more money, they work longer hours. A specialist doctor however, is paid by appointments. It is assumed that the doctor spends at least 15 minutes with each patient, before moving on to the next one. Insurance companies pay doctors for time spent with each patient; they don't assume that the doctors are only seeing 32 patients per day, they pay for what is submitted to them.

Obviously a new system is needed.

I have been a proponent of Socialized Medicine in this country for many years. The system that exists in Canada would make an excellent example of how to set it up, after all, they spent the last twenty-five years working out the problems; they have it perfected now. Their current system doesn't cut anybody short; no 2 hour wainting periods to see a doctor for 5 minutes. No overpayment of doctors who don't bother to give you all the details. No insurance companies who refuse payment unless said doctor is approved by a board of financiers who know nothing about medicine.

Think I'm being too demanding? Unpatriotic? Bitchy?

I am a person whose health has been poor all my life. I've no one to blame for that; remember, I'm an atheist. I can, however, make comments about the medical systems that exist in my country, just as I can comment on my govenment, and I think there are too many problems associated with both. I will undoubtedly make comments about both in more of these postings, but that can wait until later. I've made my point here and now; I'll be back later.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Hard Pill to Swallow -- Literally

I was trying to take a pill tonight, when it stuck in my throat, just past the adam's apple. It was a drug I take every every night, to prevent acid reflux, and guarantee a sound sleep. I've been taking the drug for 2 years now, and it's always been helpful, until now.

You see, the pharmacy changed the company it was ordering from, and the pill--which had been capsule-shaped before--was now a large circular tablet (300mg). I took the first of the new-shaped pills tonight.

The pharmacy suggested I take some milk, or try a little bread to help push the pill down my throat. I managed with a little milk and a little hot water. Mind, the pill is slowly making its way down my esophagus; I can feel it going down. I would very much like to have it drop down to my stomach, because the drug itself tastes really awful, and it's upsetting my stomach.

Isn't this amusing? If I taste the drug, it upsets my stomach, but I have to cut the pill in half in order to get it down, thus tasting it. I think I'm going to quit taking this medication from now on, and go back to what I was doing before, taking two extra-strength antacid pills at bedtime. After all, what else can I do, bitch and moan about the way the drug companies treat me? Maybe I should go on Oprah.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vacation Approaching

I am now coping with stress, and contemplating the effort involved with my upcoming vacation.

It's been 5 years since I've been able to go on vacation. My health hasn't been good, and I've been using my accumulated vacation time as sick time. I've also had financial problems, not to mention problems with transportation.

I've made an incredible effort to keep from being impeded in my vacation. I've been planning this trip for the last year. Saving money and making sure I won't have car trouble or health problems has really been a major part of my off-work time. I can't really predict how this trip is going to go, but I'm putting my every effort into a positive accomplishment.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Racism and the Diminishment of Black Culture in the United States of America

Today I received an email from an unknown organization (unknown to me; the sender didn’t give an origin) who seemed to believe that all caucasians in America are guilty of causing the imbalance that exists between black and white culture. That is – the caucasians of the current generation are as responsible for causing the problem as all other generations.

This is really quite impossible. While it is likely that the current generation of caucasians may be somewhat guilty of helping to perpetuate said imbalance, it is only because this generation is being taught by their predecessors (who were taught by their predecessors, who were taught by their’s, ad infinitum). The imbalance was started when blacks were kidnapped from Africa and sold as objects to Caucasians in the United States (and other places).

I myself am caucasian. I do not accept the concepts of racial separation, racial integrity, or racial superiority / minority. As far as I’m concerned, there is only one race: Human. The only differences between our members are the ones we have chosen to institute amongst our individual selves. In other words, what we perceive to be is nothing more (or less) that what we choose to perceive, individually.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Michael Jackson is Dead

Michael Jackson is dead. I realize he was a very popular singer, dancer, choreographer, etc., but I think the mourning period has ended. I really don’t think it necessary to have demonstrations outside of his Neverland Ranch. I don’t even think it necessary to be having TV columnists constantly claiming new slants on the story of his death on television 24/7. You know, he isn’t the only star who died in the past week, but he is the only one that has received any attention.

I’ll admit than I’m a fan of his stuff, but I’ve never been a screaming devotee; I’ve never even been to one of his concerts. Honestly, I never felt the need to worship him. I don’t even know the names of all his albums or songs. I appreciate the work he did for his genre; ultimately though, he’s gone, and I’ll never see any need to even visit his grave. I can even see myself getting sick of him if this constant wailing persists, just like I did with Elvis Presley.

Michael Jackson is dead. Get over it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sometimes Doctors Are Worse Than Lawyers

I heard a joke about lawyers quite some time ago that seemed to fit them.

"Q. What do you call 100 lawyers chained together at the bottom of the ocean?"
"A. A good start!"

Well, lawyers can be a pain, but really, sometimes doctors are worse!

Let me give you an example.

Last night, I hurt my back. I've been hurting my back quite a bit lately, but this time it was more painful than the others. I decided to call my doctor.

This morning, I somehow managed to hurt my back again, making the pain more powerful than before. Now I really needed to call the doctor. I called my doctor's office (my Primary Care Physician [PCP]), but I got nothing but busy signals all morning. I called later, hoping to actually reach someone. Finally I reached his office, a little before 2pm. Here's where the fun began.

The secretary asked for my identification. Once I confirmed who I was, I explained the problem with my back. She told me I needed to see an Orthopaedist, and I should contact that department. She very nicely gave me the phone number for Othopaedics.

I called Orthopaedics, who asked for my ID. I confirmed that I was who I said I was. Again. I asked for an appointment, and was told that I would probably need a referral. As such, I would need to call my PCP. You know, the office I just called before this one?

I called my PCP again. I was told that I probably wouldn't need a referral, but I'd best double check with my Insurance Company. "Please call them and ask."

Now I called my insurance company. I was told I wouldn't need a referral because Orthopaedics was covered as a part of the HMO (Health Management Organization) I have. I only needed to make an appointment with the Orthopaedics office.

I called Orthopaedics again. After going through the rigamarole of identifying myself again, I was told that I was calling the wrong department. Apparently the Orthopaedics department had been so overwhelmed by patients with lower back problems, they hadn't been able to deal with other patients very well. They had placed that problem into a department called "Pain Management and Rehabilitation". Please call them.

Next, I called Pain Management and Rehabilitation. I identified myself. They told me I needed a referral in order to make an appointment there. I explained that I had been told I didn't need a referral, and they explained that the referral was an internal thing relating to the fact that their department was so very specialized.


Now I called my PCP again. I was told that Pain Management and Rehabilitation was correct, and that I needed a referral. I asked them for one. They said that due to some screw-ups in the referral system lately, I was required to set up an appointment with my PCP before any referral could be made.


I made the appointment. I'll be seeing my PCP tomorrow. I'll have to drive 20 miles away, so I can tell my PCP my problem, so he can give me a referral, so I can make an appointment with the Pain Management and Rehabilitation doctor (on another day), and then drive 20 miles back, so I can go to work (late), and try to get some work done in spite of the pain, which probably won't have stopped so much as a whit.

I often wonder who it was that decided to place a bureaucratic organization in charge of the medical industry in this country. I'd like to chain them together, and drop them in the Mariana Trench (the deepest point in the ocean). After the pain in my back stops.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Would Your Clone Be an Exact Replica of You?

It would, only at conception; and even then maybe not.

1. The development of the fetus.

It is unlikely in the extreme that the development of the fetus post-conception would be at any way similar to your own, given the conditions involved. Your clone would be carried in a host-mother who is completely different to your own; even if carried in your own mother’s womb, the time period involved would be different. The conditions the host-mother lives through would be different, also the foods she eats, the medications she takes, the people she associates with, her health, her “biological clock”, etc., would all be different.

2. The birth of the baby.

The likelihood of birth under the same conditions as yourself is quite unlikely. First, the medical staff that was present at your birth is quite probably not available now. Second, your clone’s birth will probably be taking place in a different delivery room; indeed, even a different hospital. Third, the environmental conditions of the hospital will have changed, inasmuch as the concept of sterile conditions have changed over time.

3. The conditions under which the child is raised.

Time has passed in the world, and changes in the environment have occurred; also, changes in society. There is literally no possible way to duplicate the conditions in which you were raised. Everything changes in time; the arts have changed, technology has changed, religion has changed, philosophy has changed, medicine has changed, even food has changed. To reproduce your own conditions, you would have to go back in time; and even if it were possible, you would be changing your own past.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Never Old Enough

I think that I can honestly say that I am sick of youth.

I have always had a youthful appearance. I have been listening to family and friends for years, telling me how lucky I am that I look so young. They are certain it's a blessing.

As usual, the people who want it, but don't have it, don't have a clue.

I am nearly 41 years old. I am carded in every "adult only" location I go to. If I try to buy saki and mirin to make Teriyaki sauce, the grocer asks for my ID.

Today, I was running a little late getting back to work from lunch, and I took the road that runs by the high school because I know it wouldn't get out for another 1/2 hour. For some unknown reason, there was a cop directing traffic on this road (I saw no obstacle), and he waved for me to stop. When I did, and I rolled down my window, he had a question.
"Where do you think you're going? Aren't you supposed to be in class?"

Sometimes I just want to scream.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Letter to Senator Obama


I am an independent voter who has been a strong supporter of your Presidential campaign, but I'm beginning to believe that I need to aim my attentions toward someone else. I am truly appalled by your lack of good judgement when you voted for the FISA act. The government's incredible violation of personal and organizational privacy over the last several years was ILLEGAL, not to mention, UNETHICAL.

How could you allow this act to be approved? I realize that the various communications companies were probably frightened by 9/11; so was I. But I did not feel it necessary to use that fear to violate the rights of others.

What has happened to our government when the crimes engendered by its members can be simply swept away? I rather expected Presidential support of this document, as well as the support of members of Congress and the Senate who took part in allowing the rights violations to occur, but I cannot say I expected you to act with them. By doing so, you are essentially adding your name to the list of violators.

I was truly hoping that I could count on you to treat these actions for what they were: criminal. I'm afraid that now I have to move my vote to support another candidate for President. I cannot in good conscience support a person who speaks of ethics and ethical behavior, without actually acting in an ethical manner.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Comments to People for the American Way (PFAW)

I appreciate the effort made by PFAW in regards to the Guantanamo Bay prisoners. I also appreciate the efforts in that direction of all the other groups that fought for justice. My only real problem is that nothing will come of it.

It's been nearly seven years since 9/11, and the response that Bush engendered. Seven years of arguing this and fighting for that, and only now, when he's about to leave office, he receives a "rebuke"?!

Let's face it, we're never really going to accomplish anything regarding the criminal actions of our current President, or the actions of any future ones. The political system in this country is just too impeded by the mud that every citizen has to slog through. When we're not objecting to this and fighting over that, the government is busy protecting its own ass (and I do mean more than just the President).

Didn't anyone notice that we've been fighting a war against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, in response to 9/11?! Somehow, that seems to have been ignored. Al Qaeda and Iraq are deadly enemies, so we attack Iraq? Does this make any sense? Of course not, but that was the general idea. We were kept busy worrying about the war while the government was able to do any number of illegal actions without any action taken against them.

Richard Nixon would have been proud. Also Adolph Hitler. This seems to rather closely match the sort of misdirection he used to gain power back in the 1930s.

Maybe it's time for us to stop worrying so much about all the little things, and pay attention to the larger issues. If we don't, we may not have a country left to fight for...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Explain Why I Don’t Need to Explain...

The other day, I found myself with some people who insisted I explain why I'm an atheist.

I was sitting at a gathering of friends, drinking hot cocoa and listening to a discussion about philosophy and religion in the 10th century, when one of the people asked my opinion.

I should have kept my mouth shut, and waved the question on to the next person. I said, "Being an atheist, I don’t think I should get into this discussion.” I was immediately prodded by the group to reveal my reasons for being an atheist. I paused, confused, and asked them what they wanted from me.

They took the opportunity to explain their individual (and common) beliefs, and demanded that I explain why I was denying the existence of God. Frankly, they were quite huffy about it. I could almost see the porcupine quills popping up.

Just as I was about to start explaining my beliefs (or lack thereof), I was hit by the most stunning thought: Why should I have to explain my disbelief? I was not on trial. My understanding of the Bill of Rights includes a statement that says I have the right of freedom of religion (which includes a freedom not to have religion, by the way), so why explain anything?

I told them that, then I shut up. At first they were irritated by my statement, and tried to get me to talk. Within a few moments, though, they were arguing again, this time over my right not to get involved. Soon the conversation went back to the one about religion, and no one bothered me again that day.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Letter to a Child

Thursday, December 13, 2007
Hello Xxxxxx,

My name is Xxxx. I work at the Veterinary Medicine Library where your near-relative Xxxxx Xxxxxxxx works.

I’m told you’ve been feeling poorly due to some recent brain surgery. Having been a patient of brain surgery several times in the past (and quite likely to have more in the future), I can give you some information about the recovery afterwards.

I was 18 years old when I had my first brain surgery. I had to go to Rochester, Minnesota (the Mayo Clinic), to get it done. No doctors in my area were up to the task. I had a tumor on the right side of my head, inside my skull, putting pressure on my brain. It was a hemangeoblastoma, a growth coming from a blood cell in close proximity to nerve fibers (actually it was surrounding several nerves), and it was interfering with my ability to walk, stand, or even talk properly. The tumor was very large, about the size of an adult’s clenched fist.

The surgery to remove it was difficult. I was on the table 12 hours, and due to an existing blood vessel that hadn’t been spotted in pre-surgical tests, I died. The blood vessel was a large one, and the doctors accidentally cut through it; I bled out in approximately 30 seconds. Because Mayo’s is such an excellent hospital, they were able to replace my entire blood supply, and had my heart restarted in 2½ minutes.

I was very sick after the surgery; not only did my system have to get used to the new blood and the bacteria in it, I had to cope with the loss of one of my inner ears. The loss of an ear caused tremendous problems with balance, and I was very ill in my stomach (very much like constant seasickness). I spent 2 weeks in the hospital recovering, and then 9 months at home before I could walk properly again.

Recovery from the surgery left me feeling very depressed. I had this huge bandage on my head, scars that would never disappear, and my head had been shaved for the surgery, leaving me with hair only on one side. I couldn’t move the left side of my face because the doctors had cut through the main facial nerve on that side to remove the tumor (the nerve grew back in 9 months, but I never recovered movement there). I couldn’t close my left eyelid, and I had to use eye-drops, and had to cover it with a plastic bubble every night to keep it from drying out. I got some eyelid movement back, but I still use eye-drops to cope with dry eye.

Coping with depression was the hardest of all. I didn’t want to see any of my friends or family. I thought the scars and bandages made me ugly. I was certain everyone was glancing at my appearance when I couldn’t see them, and wincing. I became reclusive, refusing even to talk with people over the phone. I was certain my life was over.

I was wrong.

My friends and relatives wouldn’t let me be. They all loved me, and they wouldn’t allow me to sink into despondency. I was always being treated with the fullest respect; nothing had changed in their minds except for my lack of mobility. They all decided that if I couldn’t come to them, they would come to me. My friends had a bi-weekly poker game that moved from house to house; for 9 months it became set in one house: mine. They always talked as if nothing had happened to me, and I gradually emerged from my depression. I had friends and family that cared. I also had suggestions from my doctors that I attend support groups, but at the time support groups were relatively new, and I didn’t trust them. I trust them now.

I feel I must tell you that I am an atheist. I made my decision about atheism when I was young, before I got my first operation. This didn’t stop all my friends and family from praying for me. I was gratified for their concern; while I personally don’t believe, I respect others in their beliefs, and I was stunned when I found out how many people had been praying for me.

I won’t try to tell you how to live your life; that would be wrong. Instead, I’ll suggest that you look around at all the people who love and care for you. They aren’t supporting you out of depravity, avarice or wrongfulness; they truly care for your well-being, and hope (and pray) for your healthy and happy recovery.

I believe that my life is all I have, and that to give up the chance to live it would be sheer stupidity on my part. There is only once chance at life; don’t blow it. I most strongly suggest that if you don’t want to speak to your family and friends, try a support group, a psychiatrist, or a psychologist. Don’t quit. Never give up that one chance to live.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
and I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep.”
--Robert Frost

Monday, December 03, 2007


Have you ever found yourself wishing for something utterly impossible?

Recently, I've been wishing that professionals (doctors, lawyers, businessmen, etc.) would take responsibility for their actions. I realize the impossibility of the concept; who wants to open him-/herself to potential (likely) legal action?

So it's impossible. Still, somewhere in the back of my mind is a wishful thinker, someone who hasn't yet been plowed under by the cynicism that otherwise permeates my brain.

Yes, there is a reason for my wish... I wish I could get an apology from the doctor who told me that the cause of the loss of hearing to my left ear (when I was twelve) was a heretofore unknown virus, and that we'd probably never identify it; so don't worry about it.

He prescribed hearing tests for me, tests which had no use except to get more insurance money moving into his accounts. Sometimes I get so angry at his lack of caring that I want to throw something. I was aware that I might have VHL (Von Hippel Lindau Disease); so was he. The information was listed all over my records. If he had just been willing to pay my records a little more attention; if he had been willing to get an X-ray of my head each year, instead of the hearing tests--or even with them--he would have discovered the tumor long before my 18th birthday, and I wouldn't gone through all kinds of hell getting the damned thing removed (it was bigger than my fist by then).

Unfortunately, too many people have learned that a simple mistake on the part of a professional can often be the stimulus for a financial profit by way of a lawsuit. And thus, said professionals clam up; they will never make the effort to accept responsibility for their mistakes, largely due to their attorneys' telling them that their malpractice insurance is null-and-void should they do so.

This is yet another example of why I believe self-responsibility has gone the way of the Dodo Bird; extinction was inevitable.

Monday, August 06, 2007

(Just Like) Starting Over

Today I had a flash of memory; John Lennon’s last big hit before he died, “(Just Like) Starting Over”, was swirling around in my head. I hadn’t actually heard this tune in several years, but there it was inside my head. It reminded me of an event in my past that started me moving down the road to cynicism.

I had always been something of an optimist in my life. Granted, I was young, but as any of my friends of that time could tell you, I was a “glass is half-full” sort of person.

Anyway, the song reminded me of the death of John Lennon. It probably reminded me of his death because the local radio stations played it hourly that week.

I remember the day quite clearly: 8 December, 1980. I was awakened by the clock/radio, alerting me to get up and go to school (junior high school; I did say I was young), when I heard the news that John Lennon had been shot and killed on the sidewalk next to his New York City apartment building. The report said that the shooter had been apprehended, but did not announce who he was at that time.

I wasn’t really upset by it; I was only 12, and I had yet to pick out my favorite musicians from the many whose songs were played on the radio. I did know who he was, however. John Lennon was my elder sister’s favorite singer, and as such, I was quite well aware of him, and the Beatles.

Given the popularity of the musician, I decided to tell everyone I ran across that day about the assassination. When I got on the school bus, I immediately told everyone around me about the shooting. The reaction of the students was blasé; most of them didn’t know John Lennon or the Beatles, and besides, they had more important things to think about, like their hair—was it straight?

When I got to school, I continued to tell everyone around about the shooting. The reaction I received was essentially the same as it was aboard the bus; nobody cared. Finally, I just shrugged my shoulders and went on with my life.

The next day was different.

I came to school via my parents—once again I had missed the bus—so I wasn’t prepared for the riotous show of despair that was going on today. Every student in the school was acting like the world was coming to an end. Hadn’t I heard? John Lennon was shot and killed yesterday! Why wasn’t I crying along with everyone else?

Needless to say, I was flabbergasted. These were the same people I had informed about John Lennon’s death only yesterday. The reaction I was seeing didn’t make sense—for a little while, anyway. Of course, no one remembered me telling them about this yesterday; admitting so would also be admitting their blasé reaction at the time.

The reason for the reaction they displayed today, was made clear soon enough. They had gone home, and turned on the TV. They saw the worldwide reaction to the shooting, not to mention their own parents’ reaction. This fellow was very important! He was extremely popular! And of course, the purpose of existence to teens during the 1980’s was to be popular. If you weren’t popular, you didn’t exist. Times really haven't changed that much; kids in school today act essentially the same way.

My own class put money together for a mural to the memory of John Lennon on the wall facing the main entrance to the school (the trophy case was moved aside to make room). Personally, I made no donation whatsoever for the mural. I was still annoyed at the display of artificial emotion that everyone was exuding.

This was the event that pushed me down the path of “bona-fide cynic” that I have reached today. Mind, I’m no longer angry at the people who directed me this way—I should probably thank them; I no longer let anyone pull the wool over my eyes. Sometimes, though, I would like to have that ingenuous child back in my life. He may have been blind to the world’s ills, but he also had an unknown, positive future to look forward to.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Goodbye to Movie Theaters

Yesterday I went to a local movie theater to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I was immensely disappointed not only by the movie, but also by the theater.

The ticket price was the lowest I could get; I went to an early show in an attempt to save some money (then I paid $4 for a small popcorn and $3 for a small soda). The price of the ticket was $5.75.

I got into the theater just after the lights had been lowered; a running screen program of commercials was playing, so I was able to find a seat. I also noticed that the number of people in the theater was fairly low (only about half-full). I sat in my chair and munched popcorn and sipped soda, and I became gradually miffed by the commercials and previews. They ran for half-an-hour!

When the movie finally started, I was chilled by the air conditioning (do I really need to see my breath in the theater?), but warmed by my annoyance to the commercials. The movie itself was so-so; call me peculiar, but I would like to have seen more of the story that I read in the book. I’ll never understand why the motion picture industry seems to think that viewers won’t stay for a longer movie than 2 hours – "Gone With the Wind" was 4 hours long, with a 15-minute intermission, and "Laurence of Arabia" was also very close to that time. I don’t recall hearing that the viewers complained of the length – the movies are still considered some of the best made.

Anyway, I was generally disappointed by the movie. It seemed to jump and skip from point to point, making it somewhat difficult to follow the story. Also, I would like to have seen the “Portable Swamp” that the Weasley twins created in the book, instead of the fireworks show that was used in its place.

When the movie came to a close, I stayed to watch the closing credits; I have always done this since I came to my first movie theater when I was 5 years old (For the Love of Benji). I always find the credits interesting. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see the credits, since the movie cut from the last scene directly to the commercials that ran at the beginning!

Now I was really pissed off! I went to the front counter, and asked to see the Manager.

The Manager listed closely to what I had to say, and he apologized, then he gave me my money back for the ticket. He explained to me that the theater has no control over the way the movies are played; the movie companies have all the control now. Apparently, the ticket price is set by the movie company, and all that money goes to them. The only money the theater gets comes from concessions, gift items, and video/pinball machines (hence, the raised prices). He told me he would pass my complaints – along with the others – to the movie company; apparently I wasn’t the only person complaining.

Anyway, I’ve decided that – with the exception of one or two expected movies – I will not be attending movie theaters anymore. I’ll just wait for the movies to be released on DVD. If I really want the “movie theater effect”, I can always create one in my home with a projector, a DVD player, a stereo and a large white wall. Putting a home theater together won’t be cheap, but at least I’ll have total control over when I can see it, what I will be snacking on, and NO COMMERCIALS!!!!!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hello to all my avid readers! (Me, Myself & I)

Sorry I haven't posted anything new for a while, but I've been ill, and I had to focus on work and improving my health. Also I've been forced to deal with some rather expensive problems that literally took up the rest of my time. I will post again, so don't be surprised if you spot something new before the end of the month!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Find Habeas


On October 17, 2006, Habeas Corpus disappeared without a trace. Last seen in Washington, DC, his current whereabouts are unknown. Where is he?

Help find him by way of the ACLU at the following website:
and to find out more information about your civil rights and the US Constitution, go to:


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

God vs. Man, part 1

A recent article I read led me to describe one of my reasons for having chosen to avoid organized religion on the whole (before I became an atheist). Here is my reasoning:

God, as described from the three most common religions practiced in the United States—Islam, Judaism and Christianity—is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), and omnipresent (always around). He is also quite apparently sexist, but that is another topic.

God is supposed to have created mankind in his own image (is that vanity?). When He created mankind, He was fully aware of all events that had occurred before said creation, were occurring during said creation, and would occur in the future. Given that foreknowledge, he knew that he would be disobeyed regarding the rule not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. He didn’t make any move to stop it—in fact, He allowed it to occur despite his foreknowledge of events. He then acted as if He was disappointed in man (guilt trip?), and punished them for eating the fruit, casting them out of Eden and leaving them with pain, hunger, disease and mortality.

Every time I bring up this subject to religious practitioners, they avoid the question I’m asking, “Doesn’t this behavior suggest that God is a sadist?” After all, would you punish your child for doing something you could have prevented?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

So Tired of Cold

I do believe that in the event I somehow manage to “strike it rich”, I will make it a policy of mine to spend my winters someplace tropical.

I have become so truly disinclined to suffer through this chill and dreary weather that I could easily see myself spending time in even the earthly hells found in the South American rainforests or the North African Sahara desert. Well, maybe not.

What I’d really like is to live somewhere warm, where I could function without head-colds or sinus headaches every winter. An ideal place would contain all the necessities of my existing life, such as good local hospitals and doctors, easy access to telephone and computer communication, and food that doesn’t upset my stomach.

Hawai’i seems like a good place. Maybe even Puerto Rico.

I suppose all I really need, is to get rich. I wonder how I could do that...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Military Commissions Act

Yesterday, the President of the United States, George W. Bush, signed into law the most egregious law ever devised since the advocacy of slavery. The Military Commissions Act is a truly horrid piece of work that literally sets the US Constitution aside. This law has the following effects:

1. Suspends Habeas Corpus. Anyone detained under this act will be refused the right to face their accuser(s), take their case to trial, or notify friends and relatives of their condition.

2. Gives The President Absolute Power Over Prisoners. The President will be able to authorize anyone he desires--US or not--to be arrested without trial, lawyer, or rights. Said "detainee" can then be questioned, tortured, or otherwise harmed with no contradiction from the courts.

3. Gives US Officials Immunity. No action committed under the Act can be held against any US Officials; in other words, they can literally get away with murder.

4. Invalidates All Humane Laws. Humane laws, including international ones such as the Geneva Convention are suspended, and no organization in the world can hold the US government responsible for their actions.

5. Permits Civilians (Non-Combatants) To Be Arrested Without Cause. Any person in the world can be detained without cause, and held for any length of time without right of challenge.

There are so many more issues that the Military Commissions Act brings up, I can't list them all here. I recommend that you check out the following websites.



I recommend that you fight for what is most important for all Americans: our civil rights. This new law has essentially declared them null-and-void.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Politicians Pardoning Themselves Before- and After-the-Fact

Would you believe the US Senate is currently trying to pass a bill that would automatically give politicians immunity from prosecution if they’re found to be committing crimes while in office?!

This is what’s on the agenda.

If you read this, please send a message to your Senators insisting that they vote against this bill. I expect it would not pass the Supreme Court, but these days you never know.

Here’s the message I sent my Senators:

“Surely you jest. I mean, are you really considering pardoning a politician for a crime that would put anyone else in prison? If so, you'll be proving that our government is made up of people whose number-one agenda is to protect themselves and their political careers. If that is the message you want to give my fellow voters and I, then don't expect to be receiving a vote from your constituents next election. It's bad enough that most people believe that politicians are dishonest; it's worse to get proof of their dishonesty from the Congressional Record.”