I've also been told I have little tact, so if this offends you simply ride on.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bruce Jenner - Reality Star

As I'd said earlier, I'm more then a bit cynical about  the Bruce Jenner transition, not that he isn't bold for going public, more so in that we don't know if he's going to actually go through with it.  There is so much hype going on right, which is super publicity for his transition reality show.  Yep, I have a problem with that, too.  It's not as though this brave man is going enlighten and educate the public in a newsworthy way.  His show is going to be on "E" Entertainment.

One of that network's biggest hits is "Keeping up with the Kardashians," which is, for the most part, about a family of media whores.  The show does okay for the network, but may be starting to show it's age. 

Yesterday I went into see what kind of news they had on their website and found this was what they reported on:  a Chris Evans story, and something about the Clooney's going to a dinner party.  Here's one of their hit shows called Botched, which evidently coming back for it's 2nd season.  Let's face it, this is pretty much trash / tabloid television; not the place you'd hope to find reputable reporting.  This is the network that is now going to carry Bruce Jenner's, now very public, transition.

Hence my cynicism.  It seems to me the focus is on capitalizing a very personal issue for the purpose of self-exploitation and profit.  If this were about a transgender teenager from Ohio, or Indiana, would "E" Entertainment have the slightest interest?  And when these shows air, with they be trivializing the issues faced in order to make them entertaining?  Is the hope for a ratings coup one of the driving forces here?  We will have to wait and see, won't we.

In the meantime, I thought I'd exploit a picture of Chris Evans wearing a shirt.

You do know "E" Entertainment would see this as a waste of space because he isn't shirtless.  There's nothing sensational about this picture, and that's a problem for them.  They don't want Bruce Jenner, Olympian, they want Bruce Jenner, Reality Star, and I suspect that is truly what Bruce Jenner wants to be.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Marriage equality - my 2 cents

Well, the Supreme Court has heard the arguments on Marriage Equality and now the waiting begins.  Will this be a nail-biter?  I don't think so.  There are a lot of opinions out there as to who is going to win - the progressives / independents or the social conservatives.  You'll notice how I noted the progressives / independents as basically one group.  They're in favor of marriage equality.  They are also one of the largest voting blocks in the United States.   An NBC/WSJ survey shows you how large that voting block is.  It's not secret the GOP wants to put one of their guys in the White House.  A ruling against marriage equality might sway many of those voters towards a popular Democratic candidate during the general election.

There are not enough voters in the blue states to win a General Election

Do you really think the GOP wants that to happen?  A long time ago I'd written that in order for the GOP to win, they would most likely throw the Social Conservatives under the bus.  If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Marriage Equality and if they know how to handle such a decision, that action is no longer necessary.  Oh, and it is a conservative backed Supreme Court.  While it wouldn't give the Republicans a 'get out of jail free' card, it would unlock the door.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Letting it grow

It is a beautiful spring day here in Central Pennsylvania, and, unfortunately I am stuck in the house for at least another 2 weeks.  All I have managed to get off both the front and back porches, that's about as far as I can venture without worrying about falling down.  Anyway, as I was sitting looking out my dining room windows at one of the river birch's I'd planted in my yard, I thought back 4 years ago to when high winds nearly ended it's life.  In fact, I watched as those winds plucked a 100 foot cherry tree off the hill in back of my house and dropped it on both the fence and the river birch.

Anyway, my neighbor Mike rushed over with his teeny weeny chain saw.  "We need to cut this up," he'd said, and started sawing his way through branches.  "No, no," I said, as he approached the smashed river birch.  "Let that go, it may live."  "But it's going to die," he'd replied, "it's all broken up."  So I repeated myself, "let it go."  He shrugged his disapproval and moved back to the cherry tree.

This beautiful spring morning, sitting in my dining room, I took a picture of that very same river birch.

As you can see, it did not die.  Some times we have to just let things grow.  Now if only I could get out and mow the lawn.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bruce Jenner gave an interview last eveing

I didn't watch it.  I don't have cable.  Even if I did, I wouldn't have watched it.  Truthfully?  I have zero interest in the story.  Remember, he's a Kardashian, even if only through marriage, the family who have turned self-promotion into a dirty art form.  Unless he / she starts going to events and begins to publicly speak about transgender people deal with, all he's done is make a lot of money from an interview.  Has he had the actual surgery yet?  I don't know, I didn't watch the interview.  If he hasn't, and is only doing hormone therapy, he isn't truly a woman.  Two years from now he can change his mind.

Yes, this is me being cynical.  I can't see him standing up for transgender rights unless he is getting paid to do so.  I can see him fading out of sight now that everything has been revealed, unless, of course, someone waves a check.  Maybe I'll be proved wrong.  Perhaps he will become a truly vocal spokesperson for transgendered individuals every where.  Some how I doubt that will ever happen.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Peapod delivers

I did something yesterday which was a first for me.  I used Peapod.  Now I suspect many of you have no idea what I'm talking about, so here it is.  Peapod is a service which allows you to do your grocery shopping online and then have your purchases delivered with in a certain time period.  Let me tell you, it works.  There is a delivery charge, but since I'm new I get 60 days before it gets tacked onto my bill.  As someone who buys a lot of dog food (big bags!) this is extremely handy.

What really surprised me was my groceries were delivered in a big truck.  I was expecting a van of some type.  Nope, it's a big truck complete with refrigeration and freezer units.

What surprised me most, however, was the delivery man.  He walked in my front door and said "I know you, you taught me CPR in the Hemlock Room at the Marriott."  I stopped working for Marriott over 25 years ago.  Back then I was a certified trainer for the American Red Cross and I did train quite a number of associates.  This guy?  Looked familiar and I vaguely remembered him as someone who worked in Room Service.  But that's about all.  He wasn't wearing a name tag so I nodded and said, "yeah, I remember you."  I did, but not exactly.

Anyway, Peapod works really well, so if you ever decide you just don't want to waste time going to the supermarket, and it's operating in your town, I'd recommend it.  They are going to make my life a whole lot simpler for the next month or two.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

The futon, and when to use it.

As part of the plan for my recovery from surgery I purchased a futon.  Why?  Several reasons.  The expensive mattress and box spring I presently own are high... I mean high, like when I sit on the edge of the bed my feet dangle.  While this isn't bad when your back is fine, it's not exactly the best way of getting out of bed after back surgery.

Anyway, the sofa in the living room has seen better days so I thought to myself, I should get rid of it and buy a futon.  I'm not fussy about my furniture.  I don't need to buy "top of the line" or "hand crafted."  It is just furniture, after all, isn't it?  It doesn't need to be expensive, it just needs to be comfortable.  Utilitarian.  Something that can substitute as a bed for a couple of weeks.

So I ordered the one I liked.  It was delivered 2 days ago.

Now all I have to do is assemble it, which I'll do bit by bit.  I have a friend coming over next Wednesday morning to help with the big stuff, like putting the seat / back onto the frame.  If I need any more assistance all I need to do is ask.  I've had quite a few offers.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cutting the cable to FIOS

It took over 35 minutes on the phone this morning, but I did cut myself free from cable TV.  Once the FIOS customer service rep realized I was serious and that no "really great deal" was going to change my mind, she was very helpful.  I did increase my Internet speed, and because of that they're sending me a new router.  I told her that once I'm able to move around better I will probably buy my own since theirs comes with a rental charge.  Anyway, what am I saving right now?  About $35 a month, or about $420 per years.  After I install my own router that figure will increase to over $550 per year, which is a rather nice savings.

There was an interesting article in USA Today where a reporter indicated that the new, slimmed down packages being offered by Verizon weren't that skinny.  I checked out their new, select packages to see how much my monthly bill would drop and found that my total savings would be about $5 per month, or $60 per year.  Who in their right mind would call that a savings.  And I would still be saddled with boodles of channels I would never, ever watch.  So I cut the FIOS' cable, after all it is just television. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Verizon's act of desperation

Beginning Sunday, 4/19, Verizon (FIOS) is going to start offering what's being called 'skinny bundles.'  This is their attempt to stave off Cable Cutters and try to maintain some degree of market share.  Some are calling it a bold move.  To me, it's an act of desperation. I don't need a package offering 149 channels when I only watch 3 or 4.  I get all of my news (local and national) on the Internet because updates are current.  Why would I want to wait until the evening news broadcast on cable to find something out?  In fact, with my job, I'm rarely home at that time.
One of the articles I've read suggested it might too little, too late, and I suspect that is true.  The business model both Verizon and Comcast have been relying on is geared towards an aging population.  I, myself, signed up for Amazon Prime.  Because I have an X-Box 360 I can watch it on my really big screen TV.  I can also sign up for Netflix, and Hulu should I want.  So why do I need FIOS TV?

I don't.  Everything is changing.  Of course not everybody is going to change with the times.  My 82 year old mother loves to channel surf.  She rarely watches a show in its entirety.  She is not alone.  There are a lot of people out there who are just like her, they need the super smorgasbord of 189 channels.  To them the idea of only watching a few shows is totally alien.  Under the new Verizon 'skinny bundles' these people can have their addictions satiated, for a fee.  
Will Verizon's act of desperation work?  I suspect not.  Will more networks and cable channels go the subscription route?  I suspect so.  If FIOS is still around 15 years from now, it's going to be a completely different beast.  That is if it survives.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Where is she now? Elvira Gulch

As I was making my oatmeal this morning, one of those seemingly unanswerable questions popped into my head.  What ever happened to Elvira Gulch?  You know who I'm talking about, the cold-hearted spinster from "The Wizard of Oz."  Her only appearance in the film is during the bleak, sepia-toned prologue.  We do see her turn into the wicked witch, but that's after Dorothy gets hit on the head when the window blows in to her bedroom.  She is never mentioned when the technicolor, fantasy sequence ends and Dorothy returns to Kansas.  In fact, the last time we see her, she is pedaling away on her bicycle, unawares that Toto has achieved his freedom.

Everybody knows she gets liquidated in the Oz sequence, but that's not Kansas.  For all we know, she might have moved to Topeka.   Wouldn't it have been nice if they have given the audience some indication of what happened to her in the real world?  Having one of the characters say "I hear they found Gulch's bicycle hanging from a weather vane" would have provided some closure.  Or, perhaps, "I hear the Gulch farm is nothing but matchsticks."  But no, she just disappears.

For all we know she might have moved to New York and taken up acting.  Can't you just picture her traveling the country in the road company of "A little Night Music?"

It would be nice to think that maybe her heart had softened in her senior years, that perhaps she might have become less naughty and more nice.  Sadly, I suspect this is going to remain one of those unanswered mysteries.  We will most likely never know what ever happened to Elvira Gulch, or where she is now.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


When I bought my house 20 years ago the bathroom upstairs was a tiny room, 5 feet by 6 feet.  There was a tub / shower combo, a toilet, a small sink, and nothing else.  Ten years ago I remodeled, taking out a back bedroom in the process.  The end result being a 10 foot by 12 foot bathroom and a walk-in closet.  One of the things I did during the re-do was to install a corner shower with a seat.  How fortuitous.  Why?  I figured I'd need something to sit on as I got older.  If you had told me back then I'd be using it today I would have laughed.  I'd have said, "I'm not going to be old enough in 10 years."  Of course, back then I had no inkling I'd be dealing with lumbar arthritis.

Anyway, the seat has become quite the handy accessory.  I don't have to worry about falling when I'm sitting.  I can scrub myself from head to foot without toppling over.  The seat also makes the shower extremely easy to clean.  I suspect it will also come in quite handy after my surgery.  Back when I had the shower installed people looked at me with more then a little surprise.  The idea that you might have to sit down to shower had never occurred to them, most likely because no one wants to think about themselves getting older.  We all are.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Tarnished Tiara

I was contacted by corporate yesterday regarding my Leave of Absence.  First of all, it isn't a full LOA, it's actually FMLA - you know the Family Medical Leave Act.  What that does is guarantee that my position and rate of pay will be guaranteed for 12 weeks.  I can go on full Leave of Absence for 12 months, but after the first 3 months my position and rate of pay are no longer guaranteed.  The HR rep I spoke to said store usually don't demote you.  Anyway, this is important because Tiara, the associate at Arlington Orthopedic Specialists totally ignored everything I said when I gave her my paperwork.  I had told her my LOA needed to begin on 3/30 and run until 6/20 which was not what was written on the form.

She listed my starting date as 5/6 (the date of my surgery) and running until 7/29 and then beginning again on 7/30 and running until 11/6.  So I called Arlington and the first person I talked to was  really surprised by the November date.  And, of course, I had to wait on the line for almost 15 minutes before Tiara finally picked up her extension.  When I explained the situation to her she said "but that's your surgery date and we automatically extend it for 6 months."  So, I explained the situation again repeating how my surgeon said it was "realistic" for me to go back to work on 6/20 with restrictions.  And Tiara said, "well, you can go back to work any time."  And I wondered if someone had hit her with a stupid brick, or was she normally this inept.
Anyway, she agreed to changed the dates on the form and fax it a 2nd time back to corporate.  I will call corporate later this morning to make sure Tiara did the right thing.  I've already talked to the store and they know when I return I'll have restrictions.  I wasn't that impressed with Tiara to begin with, but now I know she truly is tarnished.

Monday, April 13, 2015

It's a Beautiful Day

Yepper, it's a beautiful day here in sunny, central Pennsylvania,  They're forecasting the temperature to hit 74 so in anticipation I've propped open both the back storm door as well as the back door so the dogs can have free rein to run.  That's one of the joys of having a large section of my side and back yard fenced in, the dogs can go in and out as often as their little hearts desire.  So, where are they on this beautiful spring day?  Lilly is sleeping on the sofa and Sig is snoring at my feet.  They had been chasing each other around outside but all that exercise has tuckered them out.

Earlier I'd moved one of the kitchen chairs to the mud room at the back door and sat there in the sun for a bit.  It was very nice.  And of course I didn't just sit there, I also re-organized the cardboard recycling bins.  That's right, I recycle cardboard.  Anyway, that kept me busy for about 5 minutes.  The waiting is really beginning to get monotonous.  In 7 days I go for my Pre-Op blood work and 16 days after that I have my surgery, and then there's another 15 days until my first Post-Op appointment.  This means I will not be able to drive for at least another 38 days.  Holy Crap, how will I survive?  Let's hope we have a lot of beautiful days between now and then.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Laminectomies and me

I received the Pre-Op Medical clearance paperwork in the mail yesterday from the Arlington Group (no connection to Arlington, VA) and for the first time got to see exactly what my surgery was going to entail: bilateral laminectomies.  Sounds fun, doesn't it?  I went online to see educate myself, as usual, and realized this was going to be a little more extensive then I'd originally thought.  Ah well, that's life.  It's either have it done or slowly lose the use of first my right leg, and then the left, to arthritis.  If possible, I'd like to save the wheelchair days until I'm in my 80' or 90's.

I also looked at a couple of forums to see what people were actually saying about the procedure and there really weren't that many comments.  And of those few that had been posted about 2/3 were negative.  What surprised me was not that there were negative comments, but that there were so few - one of the forums only had 16 comments since 2012.  That's not a lot.  In fact that's an incredibly small number when you consider the procedures have been performed about 1.5 million times since then.
Anyway, all I'm doing is waiting.  Oh, and playing video games.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Tiara - What's in a name?

In order to be officially put on LOA I needed to have my Orthopedic Specialist complete paperwork and have it faxed to the home office in Atlanta.  I was surprised when I was told there would be a $10 charge for this service, and even more surprised when I was told it would take 7 - 10 days.  Today was the 8th day so I called the office to find out if the paperwork was completed.  I got to speak to Tiara whose job, it seems, is to ensure all forms are filled out and faxed correctly.  I was told my form will be faxed today.  And after I got off the phone I wondered to myself why anyone would name their child Tiara.  This is what I picture when I think of Tiara.

Now I will have to tell you that I've met Tiara.  This is not what she looks like, not sparkly or shiny at all.  In fact she is too large to be called full-figured.  She does not have a glittery personality.  For her everything seems to be an almost insurmountable task.  She responds to questions slowly, as though pronouncing each syllable in an unprecedented chore.  And, unless she changes it, she will go through life with this name.
Occasionally you will hear of celebrities giving their children odd names, but then they are a quirky bunch.  It's more then a bit different when the average person gives their child an unusual name.  About 10 years ago, when I was still working for IP, the 16 year old sister of one of the young women working in my office gave birth to a baby girl and named her Ariel.  All we could do was look at each other and mutter, "holy shit, she named her after the Little Mermaid."  Now there really is nothing wrong with naming your child Tiara or Ariel, just remember that not everybody is going to like that name as much as you do, in fact, if the child grows up to not be a Tiara or an Ariel, that name my just bite them in the ass.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Feeling Fine

A day doesn't go by that someone doesn't ask me how I'm feeling.  Sure, I'm a shut-in right now, but that will change in 27 days when I have my surgery.  Well, it might be a couple of days past that since there is the recovery phase of the operation.  So, it might be 31 days before I actually get a chance to step out my front door with worrying that I might fall down.  Maybe people think I might be depressed about my situation... I'm not.  In fact, given the fact that I'm slightly incapacitated, house training for Siegfried is going quite well.

This morning my brother took me to my local Giant for groceries and he, too, asked how I was feeling.

And I told him, "I'm feeling fine."  There is no numbness in my right leg and no pain what so ever.  It's just that some signals going from my brain to my right quad aren't making it there, like it doesn't do stairs at all.  Still, when laying on my back I can move the leg around and even bring my knee up towards my chin.  See, some of them are getting through, just not the ones that say 'step up,' or 'only have you knee bend so far.'  

And it's not like they're going to be playing around with my disks, there is nothing wrong with my disks, they're fine.  All my surgeon is going to do is take the pressure off of my L4 and L5 nerve roots.  I guess because I have limited mobility I must not be feeling good.  That's not true at all.  I'm feeling fine.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rand Paul, Curling away from reality

Well, a year and a half before the general election and it's already started.  First off there was Ted Cruz announcing that he was running for president.  When I heard that I thought, woah, that's embarrassing for the GOP since I'm sure they were really counting on the crackpot vote.  Then we got Rand Paul, you know, the plagiarist?  Maybe he doesn't understand that problem is going to come back and bite him in the nuts during primary season.  Can't you just hear one of his competitors saying during a debate "hey, is that you, or did someone else say that first?"

Actually, I don't think it makes much of a difference because I doubt very much if he's going to get the nomination, let alone be elected to the presidency.  Why?  The hair.  Do we really want a sitting President who has his hair permed?

It is a perm, isn't it?  Otherwise it would be just as curly on the sides.  Didn't anybody ever tell him it's not quite presidential?  Maybe it's supposed to make him look youthful.  It doesn't.  In fact all of those curls kind of remind me of Christopher Atkins in "The Blue Lagoon."  Could it possibly be that a very young age Rand Paul not only overdosed on that film, but may have, indeed, become obsessed with the hair?

Anyway, it doesn't really make much of a difference does it, since he isn't going to be elected.  Of course, we never know how things are going to curl, do we?  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Faking Camelot

How does one pass 30 days waiting for surgery?  Well, there are quite a lot of ways besides just sitting on your ass.  I've decided to play through the Crysis series again, which is one of my favorite FPS'.  I've also watched a couple of the free movies FIOS has available, most of which are crap.  Some of the old horror and science fiction films are amusing, even funny at times.  One genre which doesn't have a very good selection is the movie musical, especially those adapted from Broadway Shows.  One that I saw was "Hello Dolly," which was pretty entertaining.  Of course Streisand was the star, but the rest of the cast was good too, even Walter Mathau, who sang the way Horace Vandergelder should sing.  Another musical adaptation that I started to watch and actually turned off was "Camelot."  I like the music for the show and the film evidently won 3 Academy Awards, most likely for set design, set decoration, and costumes.  This adaptation, however, was so bad I turned it off.

Musicals require people who can sing and neither Richard Harris nor Vanessa Redgrave are songbirds.  And to punctuate the fact that both were bereft of an vocal ability, Franco Nero, a man who can actually sing, was cast as the third part of this love triangle.  Him I could watch and listen to, the others?  Well, it was beyond embarrassing.  I wonder if any one told them before they signed their contracts that they were going to be staring in a musical.  Or maybe they thought they could just fake it.  If that is the reason, they they both failed horribly.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

To fuse or not to fuse, tis not really the question

Looks like I'm going to have a Laminechtomy on May 6.  I can't wait.  Of course, I had to do a little research to find out just what Laminae are, I mean let's be honest, the term does sound slightly vulgar doesn't it?  And it doesn't exactly sound gender neutral, either.  I mean, how many guys have you heard saying "damn, I'm having a problem with my lamina?"  Hearing some guy say that, and working in the Home Improvement field, I'd immediately think he was having trouble installing a counter-top.  Of course I'd be wrong, lamina has nothing to do with Formica, or any similar product.  We do, however, all have them.

That's right, they're in our spine.

They're also going to fuse some of my vertebrae together, and, of course, I needed to do some research.  What I found out was surprising.  In 2011 over 488,000 people in the United States had their spines fused.  That's more then 1300 a day.  They accounted for over 3.1% of all hospital visits.  Isn't that amazing!  If you had asked me a month ago how many people underwent this procedure yearly, I'd have estimated about 2000.  Education, isn't it wonderful.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Surprise diagnosis

Yesterday morning I had my followup visit with my orthopedic specialist to find out the results of the testing I've been going through.  Everybody, including myself, felt certain he was going to say that the severe weakness in my right quad was disc related.  You have no idea how surprised I was when he sat down in front of me and "Dave, your problem is arthritis."  Evidently it's fairly severe and needs to be taken care of fairly soon.  Looking back now, there were symptoms, but I always chalked them up to low back pain.  I do move around a lot of 5 gallon buckets of paint, and, as one of my friends said "you're no longer 20."  

The walls are painted Williamsburg Blue and I don't like that color
And it also seems that at this point the best solution is to have surgery.  This is life.  You have a problem?  You get it fixed.  I could putz around for a while and it would only get worse.  He could give me a shot that would only be a short term fix because the arthritis is there and it's not going to go away.

I told him that I'd gone on a 3 month Leave of Absence which was set to expire on June 20 and he said that was a realistic date.  So I'm expecting to be back to work then, part-time of course, and with restrictions.  On the bright side, it looks as though I won't be hauling around any 5 gallon buckets for quite a while.