Finally up and out of bed…


And NO I wasn’t spending days in bed having a good time! If ONLY!

I threw my back out and WOW! Its been a long time since I’ve felt blinding pain like that.

Every step was followed by agonizing twitching in my low back. Each twitch felt like a flaming dull knife was being repeatedly plunged into my iliac crest (Top of the hip bone) then sawing down to my knee and balls at the same time.

Yeah it HURT!

I tried to tough it out, but after 3 days of not much change, I went to bed. 

Two days later I’m feeling much better and even feel like writing without having every thought focused on burning agony.

My only comfort was that for the two days I was in bed I didn’t have to put clothes on. Mind you, I didn’t feel like having any kind of traditional “naked fun” but at least I was more comfortable than being wrapped in clothing.

After this I can understand why so many “Snake oil” remedies exist for back problems.

I’d have made a deal with Satan to make it stop. Of course that deal would have involved me holding on to MY soul and selling out the rest of you, but that’s another story.

In any case I’m finally on the mend but since I’m alone and the temp isn’t too low I might strip off these dang clothes and just enjoy working on my projects in the buff.

Finally! A dentist I really like


I’m sitting in a Starbucks having a Cafe Moca.

I just had my teeth cleaned and went through a full exam without the sword of a root canal hanging over my head.

Now that I think about it, a Cafe Moca right after a teeth cleaning might not have been the best idea but what’s done is done.

Oh well!

I can say this, the new dentist is awesome! The office is called Winning Smiles and they’re dang good. Of the two root canals I’ve had in my life, the one Winning Smiles did was fast, (in & out in a day. FINISHED). The staff is kind, and they know their stuff. The root canal specialist is without question one of the best.

Dr Finazzo is personable, gentle and concerned about the patient. And he’s a totally straight shooter. He’ll tell you what he thinks is best for you and he’ll give you options.

If you’re near the Fontana area it is totally worth it to go to Winning Smiles.

These folks deal with the local hockey team. Think about that for a moment…

Winning Smiles

If you’re looking for an awesome dental office… 

Go see Winning Smiles!

I’m part of the “ManSphere”, Say what?

Had an interesting revelation last night.

I was chatting with someone about my blog and he suggested that I was leaning toward a “mansphere” point of view.

I’d never heard of “mansphere”. This morning I looked the term up, and wow!

On the one hand its nice to know that I’m not alone in some of my views, on the other hand some of these “mansphere” sites are a lot more radical than I am.

I would suggest that I’m not as misogynistic as many of these sites. I do tend to agree in principal with resisting the demonization of men.

As I’ve said before, I don’t support the subjugation of women. By the same token neither do I support the subjugation of men by women.  Women say they don’t want to be victims. However, in their struggle to be strong, often they seem to victimize men (and each other).

I’ve questioned why it is that a woman will want to demonstrate her independence at one moment, then call a guy a jerk because he made her pay for her own dinner and expensive wine (which he DIDN’T order or drink).

As I’ve asked before, “Which is it ladies?”

I suppose I identify with the “mansphere” in that, I rebel against the double standard.

Get a group of men a little tanked and then let them talk about their bosses (male or female), girlfriends, or dates they’ve had and the picture is anything but pretty.  All men have tales of abuse at the hands of women. Some of the abuse is simply petty, some of the abuse is monumental. In almost all cases the men took no action because they believed they would lose. Women on the other hand easily cost men their careers simply by suggesting that a guy was abusive or harassed them. 

Exploring the “mansphere” I’ve been struck by the almost binary nature of many of the blog sites. There’s this concept of Alpha Male and Beta male. Many of these sites relegate gay men to the Beta (or below) class. This Alpha / Beta mindset also appears as a “you’re all in or all out” philosophy that the mansphere refers to as RED Pill or Blue Pill. 

I don’t subscribe to this concept. I’ve never in my life agreed with everything a particular philosophical belief espoused. I’ve never met anyone that was entirely of one mind on any subject and so I think this Red / Blue pill paradigm is fundamentally flawed.  This flaw is illustrated by the diversity of the mansphere sites themselves. 

I think the mansphere is a reaction to the institutionalized mistreatment of men and boys that has become so commonplace in western society.  The following video touches on something I’ve been commenting on for a while, but Ms. Sommers does a much more eloquent job of explaining it.

This video makes some interesting points about the so called “War on Women”, feminism, and income inequality that we as men are supposed to feel guilty about.  As I’ve said before, I believe in equal pay for equal work. The income question might be a little more complex than just the dollars. 

Sometimes YouTube is like the library, you can’t pick just one video to watch.

The takeaway for me about this mansphere thing is that I’m not alone in pointing out the inconsistencies in our society. Now I have a litmus test to determine if I’m totally off in left field or if I’m more centrist.

As of this writing, It appears I’m more centrist. 

Of course, that could change.



It was my birthday last week.

This one is a strange one.

I am the same age my father was, when he died. It messes with your head, I’m a young guy.

When I look in the mirror, at first glance I see myself in my early 30’s

When I look deeper, I see grey around the edges. The beginnings of that awful “Chicken Neck” thing that happens in some of my family.  Some blotchiness in my skin, a bit of sun damage and crows feet. My beard and goatee aren’t nearly as youthful as they once were. I take a moment in the steamy mirror to contemplate the changes and decide either due to reality or my ability to delude myself that I’m still not “OLD”.

The grey at my temples doesn’t look bad, the sprinkling of grey throughout my hair is still easily hidden with a shorter hair cut and even the slight recession in my hairline isn’t a disaster.

Then I flash on Dad lying in the hospital bed. With a little imagination I can strip away the ravages of disease and I see a guy that looks remarkably like me. It’s strange and disconcerting to think that If Dad was alive today he’d be in his 70’s and probably still spry and active. He’d certainly be able to hold his own in a political discussion.

Billy 20 7785

What would my Dad think of things as they are today? Would he be pissed, or would he have just given up; realizing that the battles he’d be trying to fight have already been lost?

Oddly, and something that spooks me deeply is that my life has mirrored my father’s in many ways.

Dad made his own way, he started businesses and generally was successful. He had a nice home, nice cars and a successful business when I was a child. He decided to “Check Out” of the ratrace in his mid 30’s and moved to Tennessee. He built a beautiful home, (or so I’ve been told) I never saw it completed. The house burned and Dad was back to square one.

666940 macro image of an old circuit board with transistors

Unfortunately, for dad, time passed and he’d missed a large transition from discrete electronic components to IC packages. This meant that he had a lot of catching up to do if he wanted to return to office dictation equipment sales and repair. I don’t know if he was ever successful in making that transition, we lost touch with each other for a while.

The next I heard he was in Florida again this time putting together an custom office furniture business where he built all the furniture. I lost touch again then heard from him when he told me he was in Sarasota building and selling houses. Again I gather that he was pretty successful, he must have been in his late 40’s by then.

Next I heard, he was in South Carolina. He was living with his Mom and starting another business. This time in cabinetry, That’s where his time ran out.

Resilience is one word I think of when I think of my father. He did all he did with a high school education, Navy training, determination and raw smarts. 


In the late 70s I got into computers. By the mid 80s I had been kicked in the teeth, done a bankruptcy, and was clawing my way back up the heap. For the most part I was successful, I was working in an industry that didn’t care what school you went to. All they cared about was your ability to fix shit, make shit, sell shit, or support the shit that had already been made, or sold.

I did quite well for a long time and never thought about going back to college. After all experience trumps book learning any day of the week right?

Well, it did… back in the old days. By the mid ‘90s those of us in the industry were beginning to notice that H1B1 visas were taking positions that we would have recommended our friends for. Often we didn’t even know there were openings in the department we were working in.

Jobs got harder to get.


California entered a slow death spiral that continues to this day. Suddenly your college pedigree was the most important thing regardless of how much experience you had. 

Then the layoffs happened.

Like my Dad at this age, I’m trying to find and create a new place in the world for myself. College? A new career? A complete change, or only a partial change? Do I want to return to the tech rat race, or would I prefer to do something more interesting? 

I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m running out of time.

I’d expected to retire from the last tech company I was working for, maybe I was retired… 

Must’ve missed the memo.

Lately, it seems that nothing I’ve tried has worked out as expected, perhaps “as needed” is a better description. 

I’m not the only person in this situation. I’m still hearing about friends that are bailing, either out of their careers, or California. 


I’m starting to get over the weirdness of this birthday,

I’m at a place in my life I’ve been before… It’s the “fuck it all, cinch up my bootstraps, and start kicking some ass” point.

I thought perhaps I didn’t have the strength to do it all over again. I’m tired, I’d grown sick of the bullshit in corporate America, but it’s all I know. I’ve wanted to just give up, to allow myself to just be swept aside, to accept that my fate was not my own and be a victim.

Then I think of Dad, he didn’t have the time to reboot his life.

I think he’d understand what I’m feeling now, then I suspect he’d say “Now that you’ve gotten that off your chest, GET OFF YOUR ASS!”


OK Dad, this one’s for you…

War on Women? Pfagh! I call Bullshit!


Nancy Pelosi is trying to get this bullshit meme kickstarted AGAIN. Obviously she missed the memo from the Democratic think tanks that “War on Women” isn’t playing well in polling.

You can thank dear old Nancy for my subjecting you to my thoughts on the matter.

I call bullshit on “The War on Women”.

If anything, I think its time to fight against “The WAR on MEN!”

Yeah, I said it!

I grew up in the 60s and let me tell you, that was a sexist, patriarchal, time to be an adult. I watched my dear mother fight a real “War on Women”.


She was denied advancement, raises, and common decency in many of the jobs she worked. She was subjected to sexual harassment and was expected to take it, because there was no one that would side with her. “After all, you were wearing that mini-shirt, what did you expect to happen?

Yes, things are still not equal today. But there’re a damn sight better for women than they were 50, 40, 30, even 20 years ago. That’s a good thing, and I’m glad to see the changes.

At eighteen, I was confronted with my female boss telling me “Fuck me or you’re fired…”  So when women tell me I don’t know the pain they’ve felt I can’t help but think, “You’re not listening lady.”  I can tell you being treated that way, and having to make a choice between what are clearly two bad outcomes hurts.

M Ramirez war on women

I was EIGHTEEN! I would have fucked a watermelon, but because I’d seen the absolute shit my mother put up with. I knew sleeping with the boss even once, would lead down a path that would always end up with me feeling obligated to fuck that woman to keep my job. 

I quit on the spot. I was still living at home and I could afford to quit. I know there a lot of young ladies, and young men at the time that didn’t have that luxury.

I’m glad that today those people have recourse other than sex or being fired.

As a male, many years distant from that difficult choice, I can say things have gotten worse for men even as they have improved for women.

I personally resent being told by women that SOLEY due to my gender I’m obviously an uncaring misogynistic brute who’s only interested in raping them. Really? I’ve never met anyone, ever where I thought of rape as an option.

War on men

Consensual “doing of the nasty” is just a hell of a lot more fun. If you’re not interested in my making love to you, fine. Your choice and your loss, and you’ll never know how attentive I am or the pleasure of hanging on the edge of a mind blowing orgasm.

See, I like for my partner to have a good time and hate like hell being rushed.

Today, a man can lose his job if he’s simply accused of sexual harassment. I’ve personally seen women accuse superiors of harassment just because they didn’t like the guy. Oh, and when I presented evidence that the harassment accusation was bogus to the all female HR department…  I was painted as part of the “good ‘ol boy network” for telling the truth which just so happened to not support the narrative that men in power are always guilty.


Much later in my career, I did report a female boss for harassment, and bias. Nothing ever came of it except my being “laid off” within a month. 

A young man can be accused of date rape, and even if it’s bogus, his college career is over, and his life is forever colored by the simple fact that he was accused. God forbid, the accusation goes to trial.

I’ve seen friends lose everything in divorces and I mean everything, regardless of the fact that they filed for divorce due to things like drug use, child neglect, or adultery.

So before we allow this bullshit “war on women” meme to really gain ground, I call on every man that has been beaten into submission by endless Sexual Harassment Training sessions to stand up and talk about all the times your Women bosses have promoted less experienced women over you. Or the times you’ve been harassed, or those times when you’ve been ridiculed due to your gender.

The Bias, harassment, and “War on _______” meme cuts both ways.

My Brothers, its time for us to come out of the shadows.

Root Canal!


Finally after nine months trying to figure out why my lower jaw would hurt like hell intermittently, I collected enough data to be able to tell a dentist “This tooth right HERE!”

Last December I found myself having some mild  tooth pain. It wasn’t localized to a specific tooth, but was coming from the general location of a tooth that I knew had many cracks.

In truth, this particular tooth was being held together with spackle, bondo, and a prayer. This spackle job had been in place five or six years… at the time it was a hell of a lot cheaper than a crown.

Unfortunately, the dentist (who is no longer my dentist) saw this tooth and leapt to the conclusion that I needed a crown to stop the pain. I asked the fatal question “Are you sure?”

The dentist reassured me with a brusk “yes, yes” then ran off to the next patient.

In hind sight that should have been a clue. Additional clues were evident in the number of papers I was being asked to fill out prior to the work being done. Limitations of their liability, signing away my right to an attorney and limiting my avenue of complaint to binding arbitration, ability to pay, how I would be paying, if my payment failed then what was my mothers number & address. Where was my father, how could he be reached, and so on. Many of these documents were being shoved at me while I was in the dental chair.

Under normal circumstances, I’d have gotten up, walked out, then found another dentist. For some reason I didn’t. I don’t know why… so what happened next is completely on me.

$2000 later I had a crown in place of the bondo tooth. 


Then the trouble began. 

Turns out that the dentist installing the crown had for some reason been impatient and hadn’t ground it to match my bite properly.

This meant that instead of the pain I’d been feeling decreasing, it increased, involving the whole lower jaw. Now that I think about it, failure in matching a filling to my bite is how “bondo tooth” came to be in the first place. 

I tend to grind my teeth at night. I really grind the hell out of things if there’s an annoying anomaly in my mouth. So bad filling equals badly cracked opposing tooth. This was another instance of a dentist who flitted in and out letting his assistants do all the work.

I think I begin to see a pattern here.

I’m going to implement a new rule for selection of my dentist, If the dentist is too busy to work on my himself, they’re too damn busy to have me as a patient.

It makes no sense to me that the dental assistants would know my mouth better than the dentist. I was thinking that if each time the dentists sees me, I’m essentially a new patient, how good is the care going to be? The dentist isn’t likely to notice trends or subtle differences where minor intervention would save me both pain and money.


In any case, after two weeks waiting for the new crown and my jaw to settle down and stop hurting, I’m talking to my Mom who tells me exactly what the problem is.

I go back to the dentist, get the other partner and he resurfaces the crown adapting it to my bite. About a week later, the pain is no longer so bad that I want the apocalypse to happen. Now it is at a level that I could kill a few people and get off by claiming bad dental work drove me to insanity. 

In December I had other things going on in my life. Family stuff, the holiday, you know the insanity of the season…


The pain continues dropping and I figure I’m good to go. Then suddenly the pain is back, then its gone, then back. This cycle continues but I’ve got other issues like going to the East Coast to help out my family with some stuff going on there.

I do the East Coast thing, the pain comes and goes and I eat aspirin when it’s really annoying. The really sick part of all of this is that I have good teeth. I seem to have problems with my teeth only after some dentist tries to “Fix” a problem.

I come home, finish some writing, and like most guys just dealt with it.

After the sixth or seventh trip to the dentist about the same thing, you just start to accept that there are no solutions, and that pain will be a way of life till you die. As men we all do it, we don’t want to be babies, we just grit our teeth (if we can) and muddle through.

“GGrrrrrr! I’ve got BIG Fuzzy Balls!”

Its cool we all do it. Ever see someone try to “Walk off” a broken foot? Yeah that’s one tough fucker! Guy respect points +1000, Women respect points +5, Overall smart points -10,000

That’s what I did, I just tried to “walk it off”. I was tired of being reminded I was getting older.

I’m sick of bad medical care and have been considering cutting the expense of medical insurance that is for the most part fucking useless. I don’t have dental insurance, and without an income, the only way to pay for some idiot dentist with no solutions is to charge it. 

(My M.D. being the exception to the rule of generally bad medical care. That guy is awesome and has earned my respect. I trust him with my life. There’s also a great surgeon I know, again awesome and he has held my life in his hands.)

Then my entire jaw lit up like the Kuwaiti oil fields at the end of Desert Storm, and it didn’t stop for two solid weeks.


I knew I wasn’t going back to the previous dental group Tweedeldum & Tweedledee weren’t going to get a chance to see me.

So I spent the next week researching dental offices. I’d already tried the personal referral route and that was a bust, so I thought I’d give the egalitarianism of the internet a crack at it. 

My search parameters were simple, The dentists should be close at hand, not an hour or more away. The dentist should speak ENGLISH, not mangledlish. The office should be bright and clean. The dentist should have NO dings, or outstanding complaints against him or her with the ADA, or any medical board. The dentist should come highly recommended by a wide variety of patients from multiple sources, (yes, I even read the shit on yelp).

In the end I narrowed my selection to one. The dentists and all his staff were shown on their web site. The office shown in the background appeared clean and bright. Overall, the recommendations were good, the only exception being that someone thought the prices were too high. That’s a complaint WE ALL share so I discounted that particular comment.


I set up an appointment. That was easy and they didn’t try to up sell me to cleanings and full mouth x-rays. I had a specific issue and they respected that. The lady directed me to a couple of PDFs on their web site and asked that I fill out the forms contained in the PDFs then bring the packet when I come for my appointment.

“Here we go,” I think. I’m expecting 20 pages of liability clauses and perhaps having to run a contract or two by my attorney before I show up to this appointment.

What I got however, was two very simple pages. One is basic patient information and the other was a standard medical history. How refreshing!

Between the time I made the appointment and the time of the actual appointment my jaw stopped hurting. I think, “Cool! All I have to do is have an imminent dental appointment and I’ll be just fine.”

As the pain faded, I noticed that it localized to a region of two teeth. Finally! Now I had something to actually tell a dentist. “Doc, it’s one of these two teeth, yank ‘em both!”


The day of the appointment I show up with my forms typed up (the office staff loved me for that). I sit in the chair and a dental assistant takes notes as I explain the problem. She says OK, I’m going to take a couple of x-rays of the area so the doctor can see what we’re up against. Cool, I have no problem with that.

The Doc comes into the exam room, he’s about my age. He’s also got a good demeanor and as he’s asking the assistant what going on he glances at the x-rays. Before he’s even finished asking the question he’s pointing at one x-ray and saying that looks painful. He says to me “Good news is, I think we know what the problem is, bad news is you’re probably going to need a root canal. I’m going to do a couple of quick tests.”

I ask how much this is going to hurt.

He replies it’s not going to hurt him at all. He was right!

I like this guy!


He explains clearly what he thinks is going on. But goes on to tell me that he’d like for his specialist to take a look before we start drilling away.

I can respect that. And it’s a FAR cry from the previous dental episode. So this afternoon I’m going to have a root canal, or perhaps not depending on what the specialist says.

It’s expensive but it looks like I won’t need a crown the way they’re planning on doing the root canal if needed.

I’ll update this afterward or tomorrow. Hell, I might even put their phone number in the update. 

 Here’s the update!

As dental procedures go, this was an absolute breeze. I didn’t have to pony up the cash for a crown, because they preserved the tooth as it was.

Basicly the procedure was this:

They numbed me without numbing my entire jaw and all points in between. It really was “LOCAL” anesthetic.

Then the root / nerve specialist drilled straight down into the tooth. This was an incisor and the root is in the center, and generally straight.

Once the nerve was exposed, the specialist said, “yep, this baby is a mess,” then opened the tooth up more so that he could dig all the nasty stuff out.

I remember a smell like antiseptic then some more digging around, and something else that smelled antiseptic. 

Then there was this syringe with a tube on the end. There was some more pressure then some kind of curing process.

It’s hard to describe because I had a dental dam in place and as the specialist was working he by necessity was blocking my field of vision.

Then there was something else I saw only briefly that looked like a fuzzy post, followed by the syringe with the tube on it, and more pressure. 

Then I was done.

They took a digital X-Ray, to check their work and the root canal itself was done.

Really! Just that simple.

I moved to another work bay and the dentist took a look at the X-Ray then put a filling over the opening.

Within two hours, I was normal again, the numbness was gone, there was no real pain. I took an advil that night and haven’t looked back. I’m supposed to go to a follow-up appointment this week just to make sure everything is ok. 

This is the way it’s supposed to be, simple, straight-up, and people that have confidence.

They did have me sign a form saying I understood that things are not always as they seem and that there could be complications that necessitate a change in treatment and perhaps additional costs.

All told, I’ve been presented with three pieces of paper. The previous dentist hit me with nine or ten forms, some of which had to do with indemnification and limitations of liability. One limited my legal options to binding arbitration. 

Which leads me to ask, a couple of questions.

1) Why is there such a big difference between the two places?

2) What was the other dentist so afraid of? Didn’t they have confidence in their work, or abilities?

OK, so it was three questions.

I can tell you this, I think I’ve found my new dentist.