Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Paging Dr. House, Dr. Gregory House...

So I went in to the doctor today to begin the steroid treatment for my anhidrosis (See "No Sweat, No Problem", and "Stubborn or Stupid"). I happened to run into someone who reads my blog there in the waiting room. I'll call her T-. T- told me I'm funny.

Cool, that's what I'm going for. Thanks T-! You made me feel like I had a fan! You da bomb!

Anyway. I went in and sat in the chair so they could set me up with a hep-lock and run the IV line. It took a little bit. The girl who was working on me is learning. She missed one vein and when she tried to push saline through the line to clear it, it didn't go into a vein. It started to blow up the back of my hand like a water balloon.  I was on the way to having Mickey Mouse hands. Funny, but not what we were going for.
It took her some time to place a new line, but she got it. I'm a little squeamish, so I don't look. I just look away or close my eyes and go to my Happy Place.
Said 'Happy Place' is really anywhere they are not sticking a thingie into the vein in my hand. Yuck!
So there I am, hep-lock and IV in place, and the steroids are starting to drip into me. Huzzah, right?
Wrong.
I had a...reaction... to the medication. Now it may have simply been a reaction to having a thingie in my vein. I told you, I'm a little squeamish. When I went for the blood draw for my marriage license I went a little white and had to lie down. I was better in a couple of minutes, and I went on my way.
Not today.
I started feeling a little nauseous. I mentioned it, and they asked if I was going to be okay. I replied that I did not know. It started getting worse, and I asked if there was a bucket or anything I could hold on to. They gave me the trash can from the corner of the room. It had a spring-loaded lid on it, so I was still concerned that I might make someone have to clean far more of the room that they had intended, but it was what they gave me. I lost my color (what little of it I have), got dizzy and short of breath.
Eventually, they stopped the steroid drip and went to get J-, the more experienced nurse the girl is learning under. She started to do things like take my blood pressure, get me a drink of water, elevate my feet and recline my chair so I could relax more. She decided I may have been a little dehydrated, and started a saline drip, a fast one.
So, there I was, lying on my back with the saline dripping, my eyes closed, just taking deep breaths and concentrating on not proving to one and all that yes, I did have lunch that day. The saline started to work, and I started to feel like I was not going to audition for that Exorcist re-make, and I opened my eyes. I started to giggle, which made the people in the room look at each-other in concern.
"No, don't worry," I said. "I'm not delirious." I went on to explain why I was still chuckling.
When I slowly opened my eyes, here is what I saw. A white tile acoustical ceiling. Two flourescent light panels. A ring of three faces with concerned expressions looking down on me, with an IV bag taking up the fourth spot in the circle.
My very first thought was My God, it's just like on TV! Where's House? [Dr. House, from the TV show, "House"]
Thats when I started to giggle.
Okay. Maybe I was a teesnsy bit delirious. Or a whack-job.
The rest of the treatment went well, and I'm going back for the second one tomorrow.  I wonder what else I'll do to amuse myself while I'm there...

Talk to you later!

Monday, May 30, 2011

My Son - Like the Dead

Handsome (my son) had a good day yesterday. Once I was done with the grass, he decided to go outside and play with the kid across the street.  I stayed inside, keeping cool, but I kept an eye on him through the windows, and since some of the windows were open I could keep an ear out as well. He was running, yelling and playing for hours. Later on, once the sun got low and the heat started to drop we went for a bike ride that ended at the park. Off he went, running and playing again. I had to go fetch him in order to leave, and we got home with just enough time for him to have a shower before bed.
Did he want to go to bed?
No.
"Handsome, bedtime's 9:00. That's in 10 minutes. That means you get a story in 10 minutes. Okay?"
"But I'm not tired!"
"So you say now. I'm taking a quick shower and I'm giving you a story."
"9:30?"
"10 minutes!"
"But Dad!"
"10 minutes!"
Ten minutes later we were lying in my bed with a fan on us, and I had in my hands "M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link", a book by Robert Asprin. Handsome was being quietly huffy, making certain that I knew he was there under protest. He was lying on his side, his back to me.
"Storytime?"
Big sigh. "If you say so."
I started reading. About ten minutes into storytime, I realized that Handsome hadn't huffed, or complained, or even moved since I started reading.
"Handsome?"
Nothing.
"Are you awake?"
Nothing.
I shook my head as I put the book down. The voice that came out of my mouth was high and mocking.
"9:30 Dad! I'm not tired, Dad!"
I went to my computer and wrote my blog entry for the day, cruised the internet for a while, and eventually tried to go back to bed. When I got there, however, Handsome had thrashed and rolled himself about until he was sleeping the wrong way across the bed. His legs were tangled in the blanket, his arm trapped beneath the pillow. There was no way I could leave him like that and get in the bed myself. I knelt on the bed and worked one arm under the backs of his knees and the other under the back of his neck and head. I tried to shift him.
No dice.
Though Handsome is only 8 years old, he still weighs a little more than a hundred pounds, and what with me kneeling over him and his being tangled in the blankets, I couldn't get him up.  I did the next best thing. I 'waggled' him into place. I lifted and pushed his feet, jerkily, about a foot. Then I lifted and pulled his head, jerkily, about the same distance. I moved him this way, alternating head and feet, and it took about 6-8 good jerks. He flopped about like a doll, limbs flailing, head lolling. He never opened an eye or made a sound. In fact, he didn't even seem to be breathing...
"Handsome...?"
Nothing.
Holy $#%!  Is he...?
I was telling myself to just be calm even as I was thrusting my ear in front of his mouth to hopefully hear some slight sound of respiration. What I heard was the popping sound of lips held together by dried spittle, just as the exhalation pressure becomes too much and the seal lets go.
"P-ahhhhhhh..."
A blast of some of the nastiest, I-have-a-summer-cold-so-my-breath-smells-like-a-swamp-that-was-covered-with-dog-dirt-and-set-on-fire breath you ever even heard of hit me full in the face. I was on an inhale, and my mouth was open. I felt my nostrils close, and my gorge rose to about the level of my ears as I scrambled backward across the bed, almost falling off the other side.
"Oh! That's rank!"

Dad, I'm not tired.
Horse hockey! He was so tired that not only was he sleeping like the dead, he smelled that way too!
...and much like the "Breakfast Gone Horribly Wrong" story, he laughed hysterically when I told him about this in the morning.

Talk to you later!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Hot Guy Cutting the Grass

If that title pulled in a few more female readers, then it did exactly what it was supposed to do.
Sorry, ladies, this is what we call the old bait-n-switch. It wasn't a hot guy in the sense that I know you are all thinking, it was just me and I was really hot. Temperature-wise. Not the good way.
It was in the low 80's, and I was heating up quickly. (Search 'anhidrosis' in the field in the upper left to get entries explaining anhidrosis. The earliest is probably best) I was determined to get the grass done today, figuring that the house was right there and I could go in to cool down whenever I liked.
I am, however, as I noted in a previous post, stubborn. Or stupid. It was never resolved which.
I had made certain the gas tank on the mower was filled to capacity. I was working away industriously, and had taken off my shirt in an effort to keep it clean. This would also let the cool breezes waft across my skin and ferry away the heat I was building up. I was wearing the hat that Handsome picked out for me last year that happens to be the bomb at keeping my head cool. Straw, vented all the way around, it is an awesome hat to keep cool.
I decided that I was going to just get the grass done.
I cut my way through the front, and around the side, and was working on the back when the heat really started to hit me. Remember that gently wafting breeze I was looking for? It had gone fishing. The hat was helping, helping a lot, but it was just too hot. But I'm stubborn, and I kept on working. I was panting, and I could feel myself turning red, it was happening so fast. I was looking at what I had left to do and convincing myself in my head that I could just get it done... when the mower ran out of gas. It was while I was filling the tank that I saw the steam.
Steam was coming from the tank as I poured in fresh gas. Now, I have heard that there are parts in there that are usually not exposed to air, the fuel normally covering them and keeping them cool. Run the machine dry and expose those parts to air, and they can get hotter than usual. Throw some fresh gasoline in there over those parts that are hotter than usual, without letting those parts cool down a bit, and boom!
I had heard that rumor, but I have never seen it happen. I had also never seen steam coming from the tank as I refilled the machine.
I looked up at the church that, as I have mentioned before, can be seen quite clearly from F-'s house. I quite clearly heard God talk to me for a second. To me, God sounds like George Carlin. It's possible, I suppose, that George, having passed away, has been assigned as my Guardian Angel. Either way, I heard the voice in my head.
Yep. You have been given a sign, a sign that it is time to go in the house and let the mower cool off. While you're at it, why don't you cool yourself off, you moron? I mean, I can't make you go in the house; I don't work that way. But if you insist on ignoring My sign, and pull the starter cord on that thing right now, I can blow your ass up! I do work that way! So, what's it gonna be, Dumbass?”

I went in the house.

As I passed my son, who was playing a computer game this whole time, he took one look at me and said “You okay, Dad?”
Nope.” I replied, as I went straight into the bathroom and took a cool shower. Not cold. Cool. When I'm overheating, cool feels like an ice-bath on my skin, and I didn't want my son to hear me crying. It worked wonders, though, and I was out in about 15 minutes feeling much better.
I'm going out to finish the grass,” I told Handsome. “If you get hungry enough, in like an hour or two, and pry yourself away from that game for long enough to ask me about lunch, and you look out that back window and see me sprawled on the grass out there, just call 911. And bring me some ice. Okay?”
Okay.”
He's pretty used to me, so he didn't get too alarmed. Not alarmed at all, really. As I recall, he never looked away from the screen as we spoke. I went back outside.
The thing about overheating is that once I start to do it, it takes a long time for my core to cool down. That means that it's pretty easy for me to overheat again for a long time afterward. So I rapidly began to overheat again. Did I go in? Nope. Stubborn (or stupid!), remember? I finished the yard, panting most of the time, and I could feel the redness setting in again as I put the mower away in the garage. The garage. Where we keep the trimmer. I took the trimmer down, telling myself Well, this is a quick thing. I can just walk about with this and get the trimming done nice and fast, and then it's back in the shower for me...
I started the trimming, working my way along the driveway to the front of the house, then across the front, doing the walkway, and then -whazzap! The trimmer was out of line.
I tried to open the line-feeder to make sure that it was empty, and that the line had not simply snapped off just inside the feeder, and I could just feed more out by hand and continue. It was while I was doing that I heard George again.
“Look, stupid, go in the house. I know the trimmer has never done this before, but I work in mysterious ways. Yes, it's empty. And no, there is no replacement line in the garage. You think I'd forget something like that? You think this is My first time having to deal with an idiot? I swear to Me, sometimes it's like you don't have the brains I gave you...”

I went in the house again. To stay this time. Handsome gave me a funny look as I passed him on the way to the shower, probably because I was quietly giggling. He may have thought I was delirious, but nope. I just have voices in my head.

And I just love George Carlin!

Talk to you later!


P.S. - I promise, I'll get away from the anhidrosis thing soon, and tell a few funny stories. Pinky swear! 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ed vs. The Movie Guy

As I sat here, wondering what to blog about tonight, I saw this book I have sitting next to me. "Write a Novel and Get it Published", a book I picked up while I was in Colorado last week. Seeing the book reminded me of a spectacularly unhelpful woman who worked at the bookstore where I purchased it. Impatient, unhelpful, not very knowledgeable. She was an Ed.
Now, for those of you out there who are named 'Ed', and who may someday read this, my apologies to you. I in no way mean to defame you or your name. It's a fine name, and you are a fine man. Unless, of course, the Ed who is reading this happens to be the same Ed who worked at Home Depot a few years ago, when I needed a switch. If you are not that Ed, then I apologize, and please know I do not mean to tar you all with the same brush. If, however, you are  that particular Ed, then listen up, Bucko, I'm talking about you.
This was a few years ago. I needed an electrical switch. I forget, now, what type I needed and what I needed it for. All I remember is that I needed one. I and my friend F- were at Home Depot, in the electrical aisle, looking at switches. Lots of switches. All kinds of switches. Was any of them the one I wanted, that I needed? I wasn't sure. F- and I looked about for an employee of that fine establishment, someone who could help us. No one was to be found. We looked at the switches some more, trying to make the decision on our own, but we had no luck.
Out of nowhere a man comes around the end of our aisle and starts to walk past us. He is wearing the orange apron that marks him as an employee of Home Depot, and his name badge says "ED", in mismatching block letters that a three year old would be proud of. F- stops him to ask our questions.
"Excuse me?"
"Yeah?"
So we explained, in detail, what we were looking for, what we needed it for, and what we wanted it to do. Ed listened to all this quite calmly, until we were done. When we were finished he said, and I quote:
"Sorry, not my department."
Having delivered this little bit of news, Ed turned and continued on toward wherever he had been going in the first place.
No "Let's see if we can find that for you", no "Let me see if I can find out about that for you", not even a "Let me see if I can find someone who works in this department to help you". Just "Sorry, not my department."
F- and I stared at each other for a few seconds in disbelief, and then F- turned to shout up the aisle to Ed's retreating back.
"Thanks for the help!"
I started laughing.
Ever since then, whenever F- or I run into someone who is amazingly unhelpful, we refer to them as an 'Ed'.

Now, Ed was at one end of the spectrum, but at the other end is The Movie Guy. I don't know my Movie Guy's name, and you might not know yours, but most of us have met one. I'll describe mine and see if he sounds at all familiar to you. A little above average height, carrying a little extra weight. Glasses perched in the middle of a face that is quite red, possibly due to high blood pressure, and a habitual smile. The smile is there because he genuinely loves his work and is looking for someone to help.
This is the guy you go to if you're looking for a movie but you can't remember what it's called. I know. I have done this.
"Hi! Do you guys carry that movie, gee, I can't remember the title, but it has that lady who goes down south looking for something, and she meets this guy, and he's helping her, well, he acts like he's helping her, and there's the little guy who's trying to stop them and take the thing for himself. I can't remember any of their names, but she was in a thing once with initials in the title. At least I think that was her. Anyway... do you have that movie?"
And the Movie Guy smiles and he takes you to the movie you were looking for! From that description! And he can do it again and again. One time I started to make up plots on the spot just to see what he would do! Never did manage to stump him.

The Movie Guy is a dying breed, what with he disappearance of the brick-and-mortar movie rental store. A sad state of affairs. Not to worry, though. From what I have seen there are plenty of Eds to go around.

Talk to you later!

P.S. - For those of you who are racking your brains, the movie description above was an amazingly rough outline of "Romancing the Stone". No, I didn't expect you to figure it out on your own. Geez, what do you think you are, a Movie Guy?

ttyl!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Crazy Cat Ladies

Hey there!
I was talking today with a friend of mine whom I consider to be a Crazy Cat Lady. I know she's okay with this, as that's how she refers to herself as well. I was thinking that there might be CCLs out there who are either still unaware or in denial of their status. I decided to put up a little list of Crazy Cat Lady characteristics to help them out. Think of it like Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a Redneck..." bit, but with cats. So...

You might be a Crazy Cat Lady (or someone you know might be a Crazy Cat Lady) if....

  • You have five or more cats, and are of the opinion that there is plenty of room for more... in your 1 bedroom apartment.
  • You talk to your cats as if they can understand, and worse, find yourself expecting that they do
  • You have at some point, had guests over and told one of them "Oops! You'll have to move. Sorry, that's Kitty's chair..." ... and you were not kidding.
  • You have knitted, quilted, needle-pointed, cross-stitched, crocheted, macraméd, woven, felted, rug-hooked, scrap-booked, or otherwise caused to come into being a representation of a cat or cats in a crafty manner on average more than once per year.
  • A visitor, attempting to count the images of cats in your home, requires the aid of a calculator, adding machine, or, in an emergency, an abacus. 
  • You have been involved in a vehement argument, bordering on violence, with a person or persons who had the gall to use the phrase "there's more than one way to skin a cat."
  • You consider cat-hair to be viable as both an fashion accessory and a food additive.
  • Young children, when visiting, sometimes build elaborate play forts out of your stored bags of kitty litter.
  • Your-live in fiance' acquires an adult-onset allergy to cat dander and comes home to find his stuff on the lawn, the locks changed, and the phone off the hook. (True story, I kid you not.)
  • You have ever been seen outside your home, either inside or outside your yard, wearing a lavender straw hat with yellow and pink flowers on the front of the band. Worse: you have been seen holding a cat wearing a matching hat.


Now, I'm not saying that being a CCL is a bad thing. I actually kind of like it. But if you look at this list and some of the things look really  familiar, or you found yourself saying "So? There's nothing wrong with that!" as you were reading it, then I'd say you are a Cat Lady.
Claim it.
Own it.
Say it loud, and say it proud. "I'm a Crazy Cat Lady!"
You'll probably feel better having it out in the open. Trust me, if you are a CCL, it's not really a secret; your friends all know. Especially that poor bastard who was sitting in Kitty's chair.

Now, this is just a list I have compiled from my own experiences with Crazy Cat Ladies over the years. It's not comprehensive, and I know I missed at least a few. You may have your own little signs of CCL-ness. Do you? If you have your own list of signs to watch out for with regard to Crazy Cat Ladies, please, drop me a comment. Let me know what I missed. I'll add it to my CCL database.

Thanks.

Talk to you later!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mr. Crabbypants

So, since they recently made some adjustments to the routes in my office, I have some new customers to meet. Most of them are nice enough. The kid who misses the old carrier, the kids running the lemonade/pizza/M&M stand who called me Cheapo... but the other day I met Mr. Crabbypants.
His name isn't really Crabbypants, but it's fitting, so it will do here. Mr. Crabbypants lives close to the end of my route as it is now. He had a package I was to deliver, a big one. Since it was so big, I left it in the back of the truck while I walked his street. I did, however, have the notification slip with me. The thing he would have to sign to get the package. When I got to his house I put all his mail plus that slip into his mailbox. I'm not sure why I decided to out the slip in there, as that isn't SOP. All I know is I'll never do it again. My plan was to finish his street, then deliver the next street over, and I would be done with my route. I could then pull up to his house and get that slip, and all his mail, and ring the doorbell, and hand-deliver all his stuff at once.
It was not to be.
When I was about half-way through delivering that last street, a large black car pulled up next to me. The window rolled down, and a hand thrust through the window and began waving that notification slip at me. Behind the hand was an unhappy face. In an accent so slight I could not place it, he asked me "You drop this for me?" It didn't help that he was mumbling as well.
"Excuse me?"
Big sigh. I'm putting him out. Then, slightly louder, "You drop this for me?"
I had no idea who he was yet, so I looked at the waving slip.
"Yes."
"I want it now. We're home, you don't ring bell."
"It's in the back of the-"
"You don't ring bell. We're home, my wife and me. You do this now?"
"Excuse me?"
"You do this now?" He was gesturing to indicate the neighborhood. I assumed he was asking if I was the regular carrier now.
"Yes, this was added on to my route."
Big sigh and a snort of disgust. He waved the slip again. "So, this is your fault."
"I have the package in the back of the truck. I was going to-"
"All I want to hear from you is an apology."
I stared at him for a second. I decided not to tell him what was really going through my head.
"I'm sorry, sir."
He's looking at me like I'm somewhat defective. "This doesn't happen again. Drop it at my house."
He started to roll up the window.
"I need that slip you have there!"
Big look of disgust. I'm really bothering him now. He thrust it back through the mostly closed window.
"I'll need you to sign that, so I can drop it off."
Now he was pissed of. He was rocking around in the car, kind of throwing himself about as he looked for a pen.
"I have a pen right here."
He waved me off and kept searching. Eventually he gave in and took my pen, scribbled something on the signature line, and shoved the slip back out to me.
"And the pen?"
Hard to describe how his body language, his grunts and sounds kept changing, but he was obviously getting more and more angry the longer he had to deal with me. He stuck the pen out through the window so forcefully that, for a second,  I actually thought he was throwing it at me. The window went up, and I called out "You have a nice day!" as he drove off. I can't accurately say he roared off, but he was moving pretty fast.
I finished my deliveries, got in the truck and drove it up the street to his house. The package was a large one, and pretty heavy. I considered just chucking it on his porch. he had already signed for it, I didn't really need to ring the bell. I remembered that he said his wife was home, though, and she hadn't been rude to me yet. It was pretty heavy....

It turns out that Mrs. Crabbypants is a sweetheart who apparently married a walking rectum. I got the package inside for her, and she thanked me. She was quite polite, and now I'm torn. I had already decided that, come winter, if there was a speck of snow on their walkway I wasn't going to deliver the mail. I'd claim 'safety issue', even though everyone else on the street would get my standard 'one day to shovel' before I considered not delivering. But now there is the Missus. I guess it will depend on who I talked to last....

Funny people.

Talk to you later!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Here's Your Medicine... Psych!

So, the warmer weather is here and my last steroid burst treatment did nothing for my anhidrosis (For info on anhidrosis, please see my entries "No Sweat, No Problem", and "Stubborn or Stupid"). I did call from Colorado last week and set up a series of new appointments along with a prescription for the steroids I will need for the treatment. They should have been available for pick-up at my local CVS (a New England pharmacy chain) by last Friday, but I was out of town so I couldn't stop by for them until Monday night. Since I was scheduled to start my 3 day treatment on Tuesday, this seemed to be perfect.
Monday rolled around. I was going to stop by CVS on my way home from visiting with my son. I wanted to make sure they were ready, so, like the commercial says, I called.
They had no record of a prescription for me being filed from anywhere in the world.
Terrific.
I hung up with the nice lady and looked at my watch. 5:10 pm. Too late to call the doctor's office and try to get the prescription straightened out. No worries. I would simply call the doc in the morning and have them file the prescription at the CVS near their office and I could pick it up there on the way to get my treatment after work. Easy.
In the morning I did just that. The woman at the doctor's office with whom I spoke said that CVS, the one near their office now, claimed that my prescription would be ready by that afternoon. That afternoon rolled around and I stopped at CVS to pick up my medication.
They had no record of a prescription for me being filed from anywhere in the world.
They had no record of me in the entire CVS system, nation-wide. By either name or birth-date.
I began to get annoyed.
I informed them that I was in the system. That I have a CVS card in my name, and that I get prescriptions filled at CVS all the time. That my wife has been getting all the medications associated with Multiple Sclerosis and it's symptoms from CVS, using my last name and insurance card, for the last 17 years. That prescriptions for my son have been filled at CVS for the last 8 years, also using my last name and insurance. That if prescriptions gave frequent flyer miles I could zip off to Russia on their dime. That I was pretty sure that if I filled just a few more prescriptions at CVS I would get my name on a parking spot in front of the CVS of my choice.
Right about this time, my name popped up in the system. Hurrah! It popped up because the CVS near my house, the one that the prescription was originally sent to, days ago, was just acknowledging receipt of the prescription and was filling it. I was 3 minutes away from the doctor's office where I was to get the treatment, and my appointment was in 20 minutes. My medication, however, was now 40 minutes away. One-way.
I took a deep breath.
I took another.
What the hell, they're free; I took a third.
I was on the phone with the doc, trying to clear this up. She was on the phone with me and the pharmacy I was currently breathing in, trying to clear this up. The pharmacy I was breathing  in was on the phone with the doctor, the pharmacy near my house, and two other pharmacies, trying to clear this up.
A pain began to throb behind my right eye.
The doctor hung up with me to try some other calls to try to clear this up. I believe I sounded calm when I said goodbye to her. I had lost count of my breaths a while back, and they didn't seem to be doing squat for the pain behind my eye, which, I was pretty sure, was my brain getting ready to explode.
The woman behind the counter was watching me breathe and explaining that they could stop the prescription near my house and try to transfer it to them here, and it would be ready by tomorrow, or, since I wasn't going to make it to my appointment in 15 minutes I could just pick it up near my house, or was it possible that I could get a later appointment with my doctor to get the infusion done, or...
I wasn't listening anymore. I was breathing. And doing one hell of a job at it.
My phone rang. I answered it.
It was another woman at another CVS. The CVS near my house, in fact. The place that had, ostensibly, gotten this horribly screwed up prescription faxed to them almost a week ago. She was pleasant, I was pleasant. She appeared to be completely unaware of the giant screw-up that was happening, telephonically, in two different cities at the same time. She was calling to inform me that my prescription, which was for a three huge doses of intravenous steroids followed by a prednisone weaning off program so that I wouldn't go into steroid shock or something, could only be half-filled. They did not have the prednisone. Would I care to stop by later in the day and pick up my half-prescription?
I took one more breath.
I said "I quit." into the phone and snapped it shut.
The woman behind the counter, who had continued talking to me while I was on the phone with the other woman, started a little and said "Excuse me?"
"I quit." I repeated. I then began to use... language. I questioned their work ethic. I questioned their competence. I cast aspersions on their apparent intelligence. There was a man behind the counter who just kept staring at me. I questioned the legitimacy of his birth. Interspersed in amongst all the questioning were words that everyone knows, but polite people do not use.
I was not being polite.
I stormed from the building, continuing to hurl 'words of low character' back over my shoulder at the pharmacy counter. If there is such a thing as a 'ban-list' at your local pharmacy, I'm pretty sure I'm on it.
I went to the doctor's office, just three minutes away and tried to cancel my appointment. Right when it was scheduled to start.
They allowed it.
They went so far as to work on CVS on the phone, and got their assurance that the prescription would be filled, in whole, by 2:00 the next afternoon. This afternoon. 2:00 should have given me plenty of time to get to my 3:30 appointment. Today was my day off, so I called at 1:00, just to be sure, and warn them that I was going to be there in a hour.
My prescription, I was informed, could be 1/3 filled. I could have one of the three doses I need. I was advised to start the treatment today, with the dose they did have, and they promised they would have the other two doses in by tomorrow. 3:00 pm. Latest.
Yeah. Sure.
I called my doctor and cancelled my appointment for today, and the ones I had in place for Thursday and Friday. When asked why, I replied that I had absolutely zero confidence in CVS's ability to get me my medication when they said they could, and that I would wait until I actually had the medicine in my hands before making more appointments to have the intravenous infusions. She said that 'might be for the best'.

Gee, ya think?

Talk to you later...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stubborn or Stupid?

So... today it was in the low 80's here in Massachusetts. It had reached 77 degrees by the time I left work this afternoon. I left two hours early because I had an appointment with the doctor to start a new steroid treatment, attempting to beat my anhidrosis into submission. (For information on anhidrosis, what it is and what it can do to me, see my entry titled "No Sweat, No Problem... Not Really!") The fact that it needs to be beaten into submission indicates to those of you who are paying attention that it is still in full swing. I can't sweat a drop.
Just for fun, I'll describe what it feels like to very slowly go into heatstroke, like I did today.

  • First, I start to feel hot. Extremely hot, like I am laying out in the sun at the beach, even when I am in the shade or inside. Have you ever been standing in the sun and you can feel that your hair is hot? Not reached up and touched it, but felt through your scalp that your hair is hotter than the rest of you? I get that feeling, though I have no hair, since I am heating up from the inside out and heat rises. Lots of heat is trying to get out through my head, and the skin gets hot enough that I can feel it, just like you feeling that you have hot hair.
  • Next, I notice that my heart rate is high. Much higher than would be normal for me while exerting myself as much as I am at the time. I know my at rest heart rate is 50 beats per minute. When I start to overheat I've taken my pulse at rest and found it to be upwards of 120 beats per minute.
  • Now I begin panting. Like a dog. I'm not out of breath, I can stop panting and breathe normally if I think about it, but if I think about something else I start panting again. My body is trying to do a little heat exchange through ventilation.
  • At about this point I notice I'm turning pink. It looks like a sunburn, but if I lift my shorts-leg, or raise my shirt a little, I can see that the pinkness extends into places where the sun cannot reach. There are no potential tan lines from this reddening, since it's not a reaction to the sun. That increased heart rate I was talking about? My heart is pushing all the blood it can to the surface, like a whole body blush. It's trying to cool my blood before re-circulating it through my body. Good luck.
  • Quite soon after the reddening, my hands start to feel funny. Swollen. They are swollen. Blood is flooding my extremities as my heart continues to try to cool me down. 
  • Sometimes coinciding with the hand swelling, sometimes coming slightly later, is the numbness. I start to lose feeling in my face, like the skin is going to sleep. Eventually the feeling in my hands becomes compromised as well. I'm not sure if this is a result of the amount of blood that is pumping into my head and hands or if it is my brain warning me. Maybe it's a part of my brain shutting down, or being effected by my rising core temperature. I don't know.
  • Shortly after the numbness sets in I start to lose my fine motor skills. It takes me a few tries to pick up a letter. I look a little like a drunk as I stab the key at the keyhole three times before getting it in. My balance is a little off, and I know my reaction time is slowed. This is probably not the best time for me to be behind the wheel. 
  • At some point during all this, serious exhaustion sets in. It most likely has a little to do with my heart running at 120+ bpm, sustained for hours. 
  • The loss of motor skills grows until I have a hard time speaking without slurring my words, and balance becomes a bit of a problem for me. Unless I cool down, this will progress until I fall down. If I fall down in the sun, or someplace else hot where I won't bleed off heat very well, it will be a Very Bad Thing.
Today, with a high of 77 degrees while I was on the clock, and knowing I was leaving early to go to the doctor's, I decided to forgo wetting my shirt down to cool off and tried to control it simply through use of the fan in my mail truck. Most of the people working with me to try to cure my anhidrosis have never actually seen it in action. Since I know that without wetting my shirt it takes me hours to cool down, even when inside an air-conditioned building, I just wanted the fan to slow the heating process down enough that I could finish my work and get to the doc's.
By the time I got back to the office I had reached the "loss of fine motor skills" portion of my day. I was exhausted, and since my heat was almost all internal I continued to heat up for a short time even though I was now in an air-conditioned building. Now, this may seem a little off-color, but to show how bad it got, I'll describe my trip to the bathroom.
Standing in front of a urinal did not seem to be an option. I was wobbly, and my balance was off. I didn't want to have to be cleaning the walls or anything. So I went in a stall and had a seat. I did what I had to do, and then tried to get up. It seems that there is a little bit of balance involved in rising from a seated position, and I just didn't have it. There are also some muscles involved, and mine just didn't want to work anymore. After a couple of failed attempts, I took hold of the toilet paper dispenser and used it to heave myself to my feet. Luckily, it did not just come off the stall wall.
Now, my shorts were still down, and that was not an option for leaving the bathroom. My leg muscles being pretty much on strike seemed to remove the option of squatting, and my balance was pretty crappy, so I wasn't sure exactly what to do. Eventually I just leaned forward and rested my forehead on the door and stretched my arms down to get a grip. I got everything most of the way up, then let go with one hand to use my old friend, the toilet paper dispenser, to get myself standing upright again, where I finished the job. It took me a while to get the belt buckled, but that was okay.
It took me four tries to get a grip on the small knob for the sliding bolt that was locking the stall door. That set me to laughing. Eventually I was able to get out of the stall, and subsequently, the bathroom. I went to my route and had a seat on my stool for a while before trying anything else.

Doesn't this sound like fun? In the 70's and lower 80's I can usually avoid all the worst symptoms by wetting my shirt down occasionally. Today I didn't do that intentionally, trying to get to the doctor's office while still showing symptoms of heatstroke while perfectly hydrated. This was the result. I know all these symptoms and stages quite well by now, and I was monitoring myself out on the road as well as I was able. I was feeling horrible, and yes, it was dangerous. But I would like my doctor to actually see what she's dealing with sometime.
It was a horrible day, but I'm stubborn. Or stupid. Sometimes I'm really not sure which....

Talk to you later!

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Son - Work Week/ Calendar Week

So this evening, when I got to the house to visit Handsome, he had a question for me. It came after he had played his Wii for an hour while I was there, and was prefaced with the shyly smiling "Dad? I have a question."
It's the smile that always gets me when he does this. It's something he's kind of embarrassed about, but he wants to ask me anyway.
"When does the week start? Sunday, or Monday?"
"Well," I said, "that kind of depends on who you ask and what you are talking about."
"Huh?"
"You see the calendar over there? On the calendar the week starts on Sunday, and some people count that as the beginning of the week."
"Is he asking about the week?" said my wife, entering the kitchen.
"Yep."
"He asked me about that earlier."
"Yeah," Handsome piped up. "And you told me to ask Daddy!"
"So he did," I said. "And here we are. So, the calendar start the week on Sunday. But school and work start on Monday, right?"
Nod.
"So lots of people count that as the beginning of the week. And they say that since Sunday is a part of what we call the 'week-end', then it can't be the beginning of the week."
Handsome was shaking his head at how complicated I had just made it, so I asked the obvious question.
"Why do you want to know?"
He grinned.
"You remember when we talked about me getting an allowance for cleaning the TV room and my bedroom?"
"You mean, like, the talk we had about two years ago? That talk?"
"Yeah. I cleaned the TV room yesterday, and I'm going to clean my room now."
"Took you long enough!"
"But... for me to get an allowance... is it the same week? Or do I have to clean the TV room again?"
I was laughing.
"Hold it! That was a discussion two years ago. Yes, clean your room. Tomorrow I'll be here a little earlier, and we can sit down and talk about chores and an allowance, okay?"
"Okay!"
He happily went off to start on his room.

Now, some of you might think I am taking advantage of the boy, having him do the chores before an allowance is even discussed. I say 'not so!' ". This is the boy who makes a large "TIPS" jar as the first step in making a lemonade stand. When he was seven I took him to the store and he bought himself a Wii with money he had saved. Now he is eight, and yesterday when we stopped at Dick's Sporting Goods and looked at the kayaks they had on sale, he remarked on the ones that he could afford to buy ; about half of the ones they had out at the sidewalk sale. Pretty much any of them that were $350 or less.
My eight year old son can afford a $350 kayak. I can't afford the $50 paddle.
When we sit down at that bargaining table tomorrow, I think he'll do just fine.
To tell the truth, I'm thinking of bringing a lawyer.

Talk to you later!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Like Father, Like Son

For my first day back in Massachusetts I went to visit my son as soon as I got up. He needed to eat, and my wife was heading out to a bridal shower, so I took him to Denny's. Yep. Again. Hey, he likes Denny's, what can I say. If you don't know what I'm talking about here, see my entry titled "Breakfast - Gone Horribly Wrong".
Anyway. We were seated at a table and had ordered. While waiting for our food, we started to play a game. Handsome (as I refer to my son in this blog) had brought along two little plastic figurines that have something to do with a game he plays at recess at school , I think. One is pink, the other blue, the former slightly larger than the latter. He had put the pink one aside, and we were playing the simple game of hiding the figurine in a random fist, behind our backs, and then seeing if the other could guess which fist it was in when they were brought around to the front.
I think he was beating me, he being a little better at this guessing game than I had previously thought. I had an eye on the pink figurine that was sitting unused on the table, a little over toward his side. I was struck by the idea that he would laugh, and maybe be impressed, if I could somehow palm that pink figurine while he wasn't looking and swap it for the blue one behind my back.  Thinking quickly, I pointed toward the kitchen.
"Is that our server?"
He looked that way, and I quickly snatched the pink plastic doohickey off the table. Before I could do anything with it, however, he looked back. Caught in the act, I looked closely at the little whatsis and said "Man, she's got some wild hair!" I put the little figure back on the table, halfway between he and I. We played two more rounds of the game before we were interrupted by the arrival of the food.
The food was set down, and I was asked if we needed anything else.
"No thanks, I think we're good."
Our server walked away, and I turned toward the plate in front of me. Handsome was sitting with his hands thrust out before him, and a grin on his face.
"One last time," he said. "Which hand is it in?"
I looked at his hands, but I was distracted. Out of the corner of my eye I had noticed that the pink figurine was not where I had left it. The little bugger in front of me had taken advantage of my distraction with the server to grab it! I forced myself not to look at the empty space where it had once stood, and instead inspected Handsome's hands more closely. They were both closed, and not too tightly; each was relaxed, but completely enclosing anything inside them. One, however, was open slightly more than the other, just a touch more relaxed. And the pink doohickey was larger.
I lightly slapped first the slightly looser hand, then the slightly tighter, saying "Pink, blue!"
His mouth dropped open, and he opened his hands to reveal that I was indeed correct.
"How did you do that!?" he cried, with a big smile. Realizing that, though my attempted trick had gone awry, he was even more impressed by the way I had foiled his trick, I played it to the end.
"I'm a Dad. Dads just know stuff."
Refusing to say more, I indicated his plate and started to eat my own meal. Eventually he put the figurines down and started eating. We both smiled through the meal.
Sometimes there's no trick, Handsome. Sometimes it's just keeping one simple thing in mind.
Like father, like son.

Talk to you later!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Duct Tape Can Fix Anything... Almost.

Flying Denver Colorado to Boston Massachusetts:

4:15 scheduled leave time
4:00 boarded plane
5:15 disembarked plane (still in Denver)
6:00 boarded new plane
6:34 Liftoff! Followed by 3 hrs 50 minutes (estimated) in the air.

The reason? The plane broke while we were sitting there on the runway.

As we were waiting to get off the ground in the first plane, a couple of maintenance men came on the plane. Two of them. One of them knelt across that aisle from me and put a piece of tape across the emergency lighting that lines the walkway. Like Christmas lights in the floor. The second man stood and watched, unspeaking. The Captain got on the overhead.

"This is the Captain speaking. You may have noticed a couple of maintenance men boarding the plane. It seems that we have a broken lens cover in the emergency lighting. It's keeping some of the lights from working. You can see up here at the front of the aircraft that the lights are working perfectly, while there is a dark section on your left in the middle of the plane. Regulations require us to cover the lens with some special tape. Once this is all set we can fill out some paperwork and we can be on our way."


Yup. Christmas lights. One light goes out, they all go out.

The one maintenance man finished with the tape, which I could see clearly, and looked suspiciously like duct tape to me. He and the other guy, who didn't do anything but watch, who didn't even carry the tape, trooped out of the plane. I can only assume that the 2nd guy was supervisor, and like my own supervisor, doesn't do anything visible but claims to be an expert in all things related to the job.

About 25 minutes later we were informed that the plane we were on was unfit to legally fly, and would be left where it was on the tarmac as we disembarked and hiked down a few gates to where we would be boarding another plane, which would be arriving in approximately 30 minutes.

They should have sent three guys with the duct tape.

I've been traveling for like 8 hours, I need some sleep. 

Talk to you later!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pitchmen...Pitchkids

Well, nothing funny or too sad happened to me today, but I did get an email containing the pictures the guide took on my fishing trip Tuesday. I added a few to my post about the trip. You can find them at Four Hours on the Big Thompson. Since I lack material from today, you get to hear about something from a little while ago.

My son is not the only kid I've seen with a lemonade stand out there. A couple of weeks ago, on my mail route, I delivered the mail to a house with the two smallest, cutest girls you've ever seen in your life running a lemonade stand out front complete with a toy cash register that would ding whenever they rang up a sale. They were so cute they had customers lining up. The bad part was that a small scuffle broke out every time they made a sale. They each wanted to make the ding. Thinking quickly I bought two cups, thus allowing them to take turns ringing me up. It wasn't until I was walking away that I was struck by the thought that these two little cuties just doubled their sale... and kept the change. Had I been taken? I'll never know. Watch out Olsen twins, it looks like your competition is coming up on the outside...

Then there was another stand on my route, but this one wasn't just lemonade. M&Ms and cold pizza shared the table top with the cold pitcher. There were three kids running this one, and one of them, the smallest, was a better pitchman than any you'll see at Fenway.
“Pizza! Get yer pizza here! Lemonade! Ice cold lemonade! Step right up, no lines, no waiting! You, sir!” He pointed at me, though at the time I was the only one on the sidewalk besides them. “Lemonade, sir? Pizza? You should have a lemonade while it's cold!”
I was laughing at his sales patter, so polished, especially for a kid of, what, about six?
“Sorry,” I told him, truthfully, “I don't have any money with me. Maybe next time, okay?”
I started to walk away, and he started his patter again, only this time it was a little different.
“Pizza! Get yer pizza here! Cheap guy. Lemonade! Cheapie. Ice cold lemonade! Cheapo. Step right up, no lines, no waiting! Cheapolio!”
I kept turning back, but I never caught him looking my way.
The nerve! Like a kid of six is going to browbeat me into buying something from him? After that I wouldn't have gone to their stand even if I had money! But I kept my tongue. I went off and finished my route. And now I have my eye on that house, and that kid. And I'm on the look out for his stand.
With a pocket full of change.

Talk to you later!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tornados vs. Nor'easters

Today I met a someone from my writing group face to face for the first time. My writing group is all online, and we have members in the group as far away as Spain and Australia. At least two of the members that I know of are in Colorado, and D- is one of them. I have written to her online before, and we have critiqued each-other's work before, but this was the first time we've had a chance to meet. She's a wonderful lady, with a great sense of humor, and her writing is really excellent.
The subject of yesterday's tornado warning came up, and she told one of her stories of being in the area where one touched down. She said that the weather goes a little crazy, with wind and rain and hail, all of which we had yesterday. She said that you can tell a tornado is coming when it gets suddenly and completely still, and the sky takes on a green tint. I said that was interesting, and a good thing to lear. I probably wouldn't have ever known that without her telling me, since we don't have tornadoes, as a regular thing, in Massachusetts.
"No," she said, "but you have nor'easters!"
"Yes," I replied, "but where you watch the sky to tell you if a tornado is coming, we watch the stores."
"The stores?"
"Yep. When all he milk and bread just up and disappears, a nor'easter's coming!"
D- laughed, but I wasn't kidding. For some reason, it seems, whenever the weather reports the possibility of a storm of any severity in Massachusetts, certain people seem hard-wired to go stock up on milk, bread, and other perishables.
I don't understand it.
I've lived in this State for 42 years, and I don't recall ever having the stores shut down for any serious length of time. We have had some humdinger storms, too. The blizzard of '78 comes to mind. Some of the storms we've had in recent years have been pretty bad. The canopy over the pumps at one of the gas stations near my house collapsed this past year due to the weight of the snow. That must have been something to see!
But through all this, I don't recall ever going without supplies for any serious amount of time. Not like the flood victims down south, or the hurricane victims in Florida... nothing like that.
But still, certain people hear the words 'nor'easter', or 'storm warning' coming from their television sets and they head right out to the stores like they're programmed. I'm pretty sure there's some kind of a kick-back network out there. When the stores have overstocked, or if sales are down that month, the store-owner calls his cousin, the t.v. meteorologist and says "Can you help me out? There'll be something in it for you..." Next thing you know, "winter storm warning" is coming from the lips of the man standing in the newsroom in front of the map of Massachusetts who, if you look closely, is pointing at Worcester and calling it Gloucester. There is a sudden run on milk and bread, and the store-owner smiles as he holds the door for all these people, suggesting they look at the display of snow shovels he has by the door.
I say, let'em buy up all the stuff in a panic. I'll wait and get some really fresh bread off the truck that'll be there in a day or two.
Another thing I've noticed about storms, especially winter storms, is that there are basically 3 types of drivers in the snow.

  1. Those who are careful, but still know how to drive and keep the traffic moving. 
  2. Those who seem to have something to prove, and drive even faster than they usually do. I tend to assume they are younger. Some of these geniuses have themselves SUVs, and they tend to forget that, though it does help you go and not get stuck, 4-wheel drive won't help you stop when all 4 wheels are on the same sheet of ice. I'm kind of counting on natural selection to weed these people out of the herd.
  3. People who seem to have no idea how to drive in the snow, and move at a crawl no matter the conditions: fresh deep snow, fresh shallow snow, plowed snow, plowed sanded snow, and when the road is wet and the air is chilly. 
That third category can be kind of annoying, and I used to think that they were transplanted out-of-staters who just never learned to drive in the snow. Now I think differently. Now, I think their cars are actually going just as fast as they can at the moment, but they're weighed down by all the bread and milk they have stored in the trunk.
Weird people.

Talk to you later!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hotdogs and Hailstones

No fishing today in Colorado, at least not for me. Today we went into Denver to Billy's Gourmet Hot Dogs, near Coors field. There was a coupon involved. A bus to a train, then walking for more than a dozen blocks. There was a weather warning for pm showers, but I had my rain jacket just in case. Good thing too, since just as we started walking it started to rain.
And rain.
My jacket, which is only water 'resistant' at this point, rather than water 'proof', was soaked through in the shoulders and upper back quite quickly. Upon my feet were sneakers, rather than boots, and they were soaked through pretty quickly as well. When we were about halfway there, the rain let up for a minute, then began again even harder. It was bouncing off my hood with quite a lot of noise, and since I neglected to put on a hat before we went, I could really feel the individual impacts on my head through the hood.
Hail. It was hailing out hard enough to hurt the skin.
Terrific.
It stopped hailing, but continued raining harder and softer in turns until we reached Billy's. Just as we walked in the door, the woman behind the counter was pointing to the flat-screen television mounted on the wall and saying "Wow! Will you look at that!"
So we did.
On the television the news was broadcasting a tornado warning for Denver and the surrounding areas. Right then. As we were walking for a dozen blocks.
12 blocks. Torrential rains. Stinging hail. A Tornado warning.
My first thought? This had better be one goddamn good hotdog!


The hotdog was okay.
But the sweet potato fries were fantastic!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

4 Hours on the Big Thompson

I went fly fishing on the Big Thompson river in Colorado today. It was a guided trip, half day, out of Kirk's Fly Shop, in Estes Park. Had a great time. They supplied all the gear, rods and waders, stuff like that. I had a great time from the start. Fitting me for waders, the guys were discussing my weight. One said I was about 194 lbs, the other said I was closer to 200. "You're both light," I said. "I'm about 212, last time I weighed myself." I pointed at the 194 guy. "But I WISH I was 194!"
I found out later that the guy who guessed 194 was C-, and he was my guide for the day. He told me later that he was trying to get up to 150 lbs. He's at about 140 now. #$%hole!
There was one other guy who went with us. For our purposes here, his name was E-. E- fly fishes a lot, and had all his own stuff. When we got to the first spot of the day, he put on his own waders, and started to unpack his rod.
"You sure you wanna do that?" said C-. He wiggled one of Kirk's rods at E-. "This is an $800 rod here..."
E- put his own rod away, while I quietly freaked out. An $800 rod? The one I've tried to teach myself on at home cost about $30. I almost had to tell him I was going to have to keep the waders...
We hit a few spots on the river, and I had a great time. I had never fished wet-flies before, but C- was patient, and eventually I started to get the hang of the roll cast. Watching the bobber for the tiny little strikes still almost eluded me. 
Eventually I started to get the slightest hint of the hang of that as well. My total catch for the day:


  • 10 bottom bound sticks
  •  21 rocks
  •  3 trees 
  •  2 fishing guides... 
  •  and 4 rainbow trout
Okay, both of the fishing guides were C-, but since I fish catch-and release anyway, I figure he counts. Both times he had netted a fish for me and forgot to make sure all the hooks were out of the mesh before he started to wade away. But what the hell, I figure I can claim I took two 140 pounders out of the Big Thompson! Not many people can claim that! Under the circumstances, even fewer would

I had a great time. I'll do it again. 
Someday.


Talk to you later!





Monday, May 16, 2011

Logan on a Monday

Hello from Colorado!

Okay, I was at Logan this morning, flying out here, and I was struck by just a few thoughts.


  • People with small children - Security at Logan is the perfect place to take your child if they are learning how to dress; they have plenty of examples to follow. Everyone's either tying their shoes, putting on a belt, etc. And some of them are doing it in such a hurry that you have examples of what not to do. "See that man there? The one who is walking funny? Look closely, you'll see his shoes are on the wrong feet. Don't do that."
  • The sign in front of the big bio-scanner, that you can read as you approach the machine, is not explicit enough. "Stand with your feet in the footprints on the floor. Raise your hands so they are above your head, palms facing out." It's so confusing! It should mention that the footprints on the floor by the sign are just a mock-up, and you don't actually have to do that until you you are in the machine. While I was there some poor bastard stood in the mock-up footprints, outside the machine, hands raised and waiting for the all clear. Quite a few people were laughing at the guy. Luckily one of the security personnel came and asked him to repeat the maneuver inside the machine.  So I did. Thank you TSA Agent Darla. I appreciated it.
  • Anhidrosis is not a great thing to have on a plane (For more on Anhidrosis, please see my entry titled "No Sweat, No Problem... Not Really!"). Plenty of bodies in a steel tube, no dearth of body heat. Thank god for that little personal air thingie. It's a life-saver. Especially when you're bald. Quite the little rush!
  • There is no farting on a plane. See above paragraph on anhidrosis. Steel tube. 'Nuff said.
  • Lastly, a flight seems to be different things for different people. For some people it is a chance to get to know your neighbor, to make a new friend, to be social. For others it seems to be a time for looking straight ahead and not talking and never making eye-contact with the people around them.  The guys reading this will understand if I say that for these people it's a little like spending five hours standing at the urinal in a public bathroom. No talking!
There was other stuff; the flight crew was a riot, I was napping and got a hell of a stiff neck. I was so visibly happy with the air thingie that I'm pretty sure the woman seated next to me thought I was special needs. I'd have asked her but she was one of the urinal people. No talking!

Well, that's all I have for today. Once again, thank you Agent Darla. Talk to you all later!
--------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Colorado or Bust

So, tomorrow I'm off to Colorado for a week. Six days, to be exact. My plane leaves at about 8:30 am, which means I'm leaving to go to the airport at about 6:30 am, which is eight and a half hours from right now... and I'm not packed yet.
I'm pretty sure that of you are a woman and are reading this, then you just flinched, frowned, or had some other reaction to that particular piece of news. Every woman I know, my mom, my wife, sister, friends, would have been packed for about a week now. They might say they wouldn't, but they would have. What they mean is they're not finished packing yet. Almost. They'd have clothes, and some larger items all set; that book they've been meaning to read, probably some travel-sized toiletries packed in zip-lock bags for the flight, things they may be bringing to someone at the other end of the flight.
But what they wouldn't have done is the tweaking, the last-minute adding of the stuff that they simply can't add until right before they leave. Can't pack the toothbrush, or any medications, they'll need those in the morning. Favorite pair of jeans? Have to wash 'em first, they were worn just three days ago. Are they bringing a Nook, or a Kindle, or some other E-reader for the flight? Have to give it a last minute charge so it will last as long as possible for the flight...
But other than that, they'll have been done for days. That way they can go over and over the inventory in their heads again and again, obsessing over anything they may have missed.
I'm avoiding all that.
I got the bag out this morning and put it on my bed. Over the course of the day I washed every item of clothing I own that has been worn in the past week. Into the bag, from the pile of "cleanies" I put enough shirts, pants, shorts, socks and underwear to last me seven days. Plus a couple of extra shirts. Gone for six days but packing for seven? I know myself. I'm pretty sure at some point during the week I'm gonna mess up some clothes. I'll go fishing and wipe my hands on my shorts without thinking. I'll be eating pasta and realize that the warm feeling in my chest isn't the onset of heartburn, but hot meat sauce spattering my shirt and soaking through to the skin. I know I'll do something.
I have a small bag of travel toiletries I have from the last time I took a trip, a year ago. It's still packed. Into the suitcase it goes!
Now all I have to do is get together my electronics and their cords, and I think I'm good to go. Beard trimmer, phone, BlueTooth headset, laptop, and netbook. Add in two books, one that I'm reading to my son at night on the phone while I'm gone and one that I'll may need if my batteries die, and I'm out the door.
Makes some women sick. And when I find that I've forgotten something, they point out that I wouldn't have forgotten anything if I had just packed ahead.
Here's the thing: I know I would have forgotten something anyway. I always do. But I know that if it's something that I can't do without for a week, I can probably buy it there at a Wallgreen's, or a Walmart. And there's actually quite a lot that I can do without for a week.
Women hate that attitude.
Oh, I know of a man or two who might have been packed two weeks in advance. If you are reading this, then  you know who you are.
Sorry. Last-minute packing. It's all part of the trip!
Talk to you from Colorado!
...unless of course I wind up being randomly pulled out of line at a security checkpoint and thrown into a small room with two large men wearing latex gloves, a room that smells of desperation, perspiration, lubrication and penetration.That's not the kind of last-minute packing I look forward to.
Yikes!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Helping the Needy... Sort Of....

The NALC food drive was today. It went well, but there's something that I notice every year. Some people don't seem to get it.
Every year we send out reminders asking people to put out "non-perishable food items". Pretty straight forward, right? And that the food is being collected for those who could be termed 'needy', yes?
Then why, every year, do I collect things people leave out that don't seem to fit that simple criteria?

Examples from this year include:
  • 1 Box Facial Tissue (In case the needy have hay-fever)
  • Mixed Diet Snack Bars (Various makes and flavors. Dunno, I'm thinking that if they need a diet bar then maybe a shortage of food is not the problem)
  • 1 Canister of Rainbow Sprinkles Cake Frosting (Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition...)
  • 1, Count 'Em, ONE Snickers Bar. (In case that particular person in need is 'not going anywhere for a while')
  • 1 Package of Celery, open and a couple of pieces missing, . (The Winner of Rob's "Fairly Useless for the Needy" Prize! Already looking a little brown and wilty, this donation should just have time to degenerate into a puddle of celery-colored mush by the time it gets into the hands of someone who needs it. Huzzah!!! The reminder says "Non-Perishable" for a reason, my friends!)
Actually, this year wasn't too bad. As I recall, my all-time winner of the "Fairly Useless for the Needy" prize was last year. Someone left out a 1-lb package of raw bacon. In a plastic bag. In the sun. What I picked up was basically a bag of fat-riddled mush, that smelled oh-so-sweet....

Use your heads, people.
Oh, and thank you for donating!

Talk to you later...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Work - Cute Kid

Okay. I think the site has calmed down now, and I got my Poll and my Guestbook page back up and running. Time for a little thing that happened today.
They have made some territory changes to all the routes in the town I deliver mail in. My route is now a little larger than it was last week. Hurray.
This means I am delivering mail in new neighborhoods that are close to what is left of my old route. I'm seeing new people and meeting new customers. We've had the new set-up for three days now, and I'm figuring it out.  So today, I got to a street close to the end of my route and there was a little family out on it. It's a short dead end street that I got from another carrier's route, and I'll call that carrier D-. The family consisted of a mom and her son and daughter, about four and six, respectively. The kids were playing in front of the house and the mom was keeping a dutiful eye on them. As I rounded the corner, sorting the mail as I walked, the boy ran up to me, his sister and mother trailing behind.
"Are you our new mailman?"
"Yep."
"What's your name?"
"My name's Rob."
The mother was smiling at this interaction her son was having, looking at him fondly as she approached.
"My name's A-."
"Well, it's nice to meet you A-."
"I wish D- was still our mailman."
I laughed. I looked at mom, but she suddenly seemed to find something about the other end of the street absolutely fascinating, and she was staring at it just as hard as she could. I looked at A-.
"Well, D- is a great mailman."
"Yeah. I wish he was still our mailman. Why are you our mailman now?"
"I'm not actually sure, A-. Because my boss told me to, I guess."
"Yeah. D- was a great mailman. He was fun. I liked him a lot. I wish he was still our mailman."
I looked at mom again. She was walking alongside of us, but she wasn't looking at me. She had a serious thousand yard stare going at the house we were walking toward.
"I wish mailmen would stay in one place until they were ready to quit."
"That would be nice, yes."
"The we would still have D-."
Mom's jaw muscles were standing out, and her focus on the house down the street was so great I looked more closely at it to see if it was starting to smolder.
Not yet, but it was probably a close thing.
"I get it, A-. "
Mom decided she had had enough of walking with us, so she detoured to her front porch while A- followed me from house to house. Thank God there were only 4 houses on that part of the street. At each one I learned something new about the wonderful D-.
"D- used to bring me library books."
"That's nice."
"Sometimes D- brought packages for us."
"I'll bet he did."
"D- used to let me walk with him like this all the time."
"What fun."
I finished the street and was walking on to the next street, but I stopped to say goodbye to A-. Mom was still standing by her porch, in some sort of Zen trance, contemplating the state of existence of her dryer sheets or something.
"A-? I'll tell you what. I'll keep an eye out for library stuff that comes this way, and get it right to you, Okay? Packages too, alright? You don't have to worry about it."
"Okay."
He was smiling. That was something, wasn't it? Progress? Was I going to come out of this as the okay new mailman?
Then the smile faded.
"But you're not D-."
He turned and walked away.

Cute kid.

Good Food and Lemonade

Sorry, there were technical difficulties with Blogspot yesterday, and I was unable to post anything. What I have here is something I wrote yesterday and saved in a document while I was waiting for the site to come back online fully. I may have a little something to throw in later as well...

So... a serious message to start off with today...

Tomorrow is  Saturday, May 14th, 2011, is the National Association of Letter Carriers' “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive. I know the economy is terrible right now. I am aware that everyone is paying big money for their rent, or mortgages. I am keenly aware that gasoline in my part of the country is about $4.00 a gallon. For the cheap stuff. However, this also makes me aware that my car is used as a vehicle rather than a place to sleep, keep out of the rain, or store everything in the world that I own.
No matter how poorly you think things are going for you, no matter how bad you felt when you got up this morning, there is someone out there who wants, who wishes, who aspires, to be like you.
Think about that.
Please, tomorrow, you can help. Bag or box any non-perishable food items that you have around, and leave them out by your mailbox. You don't have to take them anywhere, we'll do the work for you, picking up your donations and bringing them to local food banks.
This Saturday, please, fill a bag. Feed families.

Okay... now that the PSA is out of the way... it's lemonade stand season again.
My son has had a drinks stand out by the street twice so far this year. I say “drinks” stand because he's not gonna mix lemonade or anything when he can just grab all the Propel (a flavored water drink) in the house and throw them in a cooler. See that? He's working smart, not hard. Good thinking, my boy.
That's not even my favorite part of his thought process. Grabbing all the Propel came later. My favorite part of his drinks stand building process was what he chose to do first. The very first thing he did.
Did he put the table out by the street?
No.
Did he make a sign, proclaiming his business to the world?
No.
Did he get the drinks all set in a cooler, ready to hand out to thirsty passers-by?
As I said above, no.
I'll tell you what he did, before doing all that other stuff.
He found himself a nice-sized, multi-colored flower pot, and a note card. He taped the card to the pot, got a black magic marker and wrote one word on it, large and legible.
“TIPS”
That's my boy.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rookie or MacGuyver - You Decide

Happy Wednesday. Or Thursday, if you're reading this tomorrow....which, as I look at the clock, you probably are.
Anyway. There have been a lot of changes at the Post Office recently. Changes in the way things are done higher up the chain of command and changes to the way things are done down on street level, where I work. One of the old-timers, who has been carrying the mail for the span of my entire life so far, remarked that he went out yesterday and he felt like he had when he was just starting out. After I asked him what it felt like to carry back then, with all those clay tablets, I started thinking about what I was like when I first started this job. I had some memorable days.
For instance:
I remember one time I was delivering the mail in a particular neighborhood. I was so new I didn't even have a uniform yet. It was summertime, so I just wore gym shorts and a tee shirt. I was kind of paranoid about losing one of the keys they give you. There's the vehicle key, and the collection key. The collection key is the important one, since with it someone could open any mail collection box in the city, and any of the key-keepers people have set up to let us into apartment buildings and such. The collection key is on a chain that you are supposed to loop through your belt, anchoring the key to you and making it impossible to lose.
I lacked a belt. Gym shorts, remember?
So I improvised. There was a drawstring in the shorts, and it was one of those that is one continuous string. You didn't pull the ends out and tie them; I think there was supposed to be one of those plastic cinchy-thingies  in there, but it was missing. All I had was a string with no end. So I put the chain through that, looped it through itself, and anchored it to me that way. Simple, right? And just to keep things more simple, I put the vehicle key on the same ring as the collection key. Now they were both anchored to me, and there was no way I could lose them.
Nothing to worry about, right?
So I was delivering a package in the neighborhood where I had just delivered the mail. I pulled up in front of the house, parked the mail truck, got out and waved to the little kids playing with a slip-n-slide in the front yard of the house, and went to the back of the truck to get the package. I used the vehicle key, on its chain, to unlock the rear door, rolled it up and saw that the package had slid forward in the cargo area, toward the front of the vehicle. I dropped the keys in my hand onto the deck of the cargo area, leaned in, and used both hands to get a grip on the package and pull it out. I straightened, reached up, and pulled the rear door down, shutting it. I took my package, started toward the house and was jerked to a stop in about a half a step.
I looked down.
I saw a chain leading from the drawstring around my waist leading straight back to the truck, and under the rear door. I grabbed the handle and pulled.
Locked.
With the keys on the inside.
Crap!
Well, no worries, I can just untie the...
I looked down at the one continuous string, with no knot, nothing to untie.
Crap!
I peeked up the side of the truck, to where I had left the driver's side door open. It was only about eight feet away.
I can just drop the shorts real quick and run up to the open...
I looked at the yard I was parked next to. The one full of kids, ages... oh... I don't know... four to eight? Seven or eight kids?
Crap! I...uh... Crap! Crap, crap, crap-crap-crap!
I sat on the bumper, the package in my lap. I wondered just how the kids would react to a guy just dropping his pants in front of them and skivie-streaking up the sidewalk.
It didn't look good.

Now... it only took me a minute to think of a solution, but it was a hell of a long minute at the time. I used the chain like a saw to cut the string on the shorts and then just went around to the driver's side and went in that way, where I sat for another minute just laughing. Tension relief. I tied the drawstring the usual way, delivered the package and got the hell out of Dodge. I laughed about it for the rest of the day.
But I didn't tell anyone.
Remember this when you make your own mistakes and screw-ups. There's always a solution.
...and even if there isn't, at least there's someone out there who's at least as dumb as you are.
Me.

Talk to you later.

Oh, before I go, I should let you know that the comments function is working now, and I want to point out that there's a Guest Book as well. Please, stop by the guest book and say hi, let me know if anyone's actually reading this stuff!

'Later!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Earworm

Happy Tuesday! 
I know it's almost over, but what do you want, I just got home.
I just got home, and all day long I've had an earworm. An earworm, for those of you who have never heard the term, is what some people call it when you have song stuck in your head. I'd never heard the term, or not known what it was, until recently when a good friend of mine used it. Since I have songs stuck in my head almost all the time, I was glad to have something nice and neat to call it.
Earworm.
I like that.
If you know me, if you've ever spent any real time with me, then you know I'm singing all the time. Now that I think about it, this may be the reason I don't have that many friends... anyway, I tend to get songs stuck in my head. Today it was... I can't believe I'm going to tell anyone this... today it was "Karma Chameleon". Yup. Boy George, Culture Club, the whole deal.
Here's the real problem: I never know all the words to the songs I get stuck in this head of mine. Today I spent the whole day just singing "Karma karma karma karma, karma chameleon, you come and go, you come and go...", again and again... and again.
It could be worse. A friend at work, who used to work right next to me in the building, knew just how easy it was to get me stuck on a song like a broken record, and he used to have fun with it. I'll call him Jimmy D for the moment. Jimmy D used to try to get obscure stuff stuck in my head. Songs I had never heard of before, songs from before I was born, stuff like that. 
Jimmy D's greatest triumph was the day, a few years ago, when he got the song "I Touch Myself" by The Divinals stuck in there. Right before I took my route out onto the street. Not really listening to myself, as I tend to do, I went blithely out to deliver my route. Quite early in my day at the time, I delivered to some elderly housing. I still do. But on this particular day I got about 3/4 through the development before realizing that I was walking by some quite elderly ladies' open windows (it was summertime) and opening their mail slots to slide the mail through while singing " I don't want anybody else, When I think about you I touch myself. I don't want anybody else, Oh no, oh no, oh no...". Audibly. Quite audibly.
Terrific.
The friend of mine who gave me the term "earworm" also said she had a cure. She claims that the Gilligan's Island theme is it, that it knocks other songs right out of your head. I tried it today, once I realized just how stuck I was on "Karma Chameleon". She was right. Boy George was knocked right out of my head.
The problem now is that I know all the words to "Gilligan's Island".
Terrific.
Ready?
Juuuust sit right back and you'll hear a tale, the tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship. The mate was a mighty sailing man, the skipper brave and sure....
*sigh*
You think it's easy, being me?
Oh, before I go... that time I unknowingly sang "I Touch Myself" to a series of septuagenarian ladies? When it came to Christmastime, it turned out to be my best tip year ever!


Talk to you later!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Shower Rules

Okay, I'm back faster than I expected. I wasn't planning on blogging again until tomorrow, but something just happened that caused me to come up with another question.
Aren't there different rules for when you're in the shower?
For instance, say... Oh.. I don't know... you're standing in the shower, obviously naked and wet, and you have suds in your eyes. You rinse the suds away and come face-to-face with a spider crawling up the tub surround. Now, I know I'm a Man, and Men have Rules, and Man Code, and whatnot, but ever since the movie "Psycho" haven't there been a whole different  set of rules for the shower? I mean, in the situation I described wouldn't it be perfectly natural for a 42 year old 215 lb man to run in place just a little? Maybe making a sound that would normally come out of a five-year-old child of indeterminate sex? That's ok, right? Naked and wet in the shower, with one of those Surprise Spiders? And wouldn't it follow, having done that, he might, oh, sort of flail at the spider for a while with the loofah? Which, as I am now out of the shower, I will Manfully refer to as the "scrubby-thingie"?

No?

Dangit! They're not buying it here, either.

Talk to you later...