I do a fair bit of self censoring

Hard to believe isn’t it?

Lately I’ve been censoring myself far more than usual for reasons that I’m not going into.

Suffice it to say that I’m going to try to break out of that habit and get back to having fun with this blog.

After all this blog for me is about fun, not giving a damn, and it’s one place where I can just say what I think with a bit of a devil may care attitude.


Engineer

This has been a weird year for me. 

The past few years have been rough, but this one more than most.  24 years ago, I lost my Father. This year, I’ve been the same age as my Father when he died. That really messed with my head. I expected to be in my 80s before that happened. It’s been hard for me to shake the weirdness of it.

 I guess subconsciously, I was expecting to just start falling apart like that first “Engineer” in Prometheus.  It even looked like I was falling apart at the beginning of the year. Test after test kept showing oddball results that were indicative of a serious problem.

Luckily, the issue wasn’t what it could have been and it turns out, I’m “healthy” but the timing couldn’t have been worse. 

I learned the hard way, that I have to be very careful with all RX drugs and that even the “common, safe, and well known,” drugs may produce wholly undesired results. Worse, is the possibility that due to the commonness of many of these drugs and the margin for safety they have, oddball toxic reactions are the last thing that even the best doctors will look at.

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Thankfully I was able to ask the right questions, and my Doctor is a guy who actually listens when I ask questions. Yeah, I’m a pain in his ass, but he’s lucky I don’t see him that often. My Doc brightened my day the last time I saw him, with the happy reminder, “Your warranty has expired”. Gee, “Thanks Doc!”

As my odometer clicks over another year. I’m seeing hopeful signs that my long underemployment is coming to an end, and I know that will brighten my world considerably. More income is a good thing!

When I was younger I’d get really wound up about getting another year older, Now well obviously I still mark the event but not with the soul searching introspection of the past. “Where am I? Have I accomplished anything? Am I a good guy? What is my purpose? Have I lived up to my potential?”

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This year I’m past all that bullshit. The only question I’ve asked is “Am I happy?”  The answer is generally, “Yes” and the shit I’m not too thrilled about I can change.  My warranty may be expired, I’m nowhere near doing so.

Now if I could only figure out how to do that Dr. Who regeneration thing. Some mornings around here look like the Dawn of the Dead!

Have a great week everyone.

Musing on calling to make a doctors appointment

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I have repeatedly been reminded that I’m “Less Young” over the past two months and I’ve had just about enough!

This is the shit that goes on in my head while I’m working myself up to subject myself to yet more tests.

Threw my back out… WAYYYY out about 3 weeks ago. I spent almost a week in bed because laying flat was the only position that didn’t cause excruciating pain. The kind of pain that makes you yelp with each move. The kind of pain Torquemada would have been proud to inflict.

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Had some abnormal results in a routine physical prior to the end of the year. That was fun then because my old insurance would pay for the tests, ordered by a doctor that was no longer in their network, but they wouldn’t pay the doctor himself. Holy shit! what a screwed up system.

I changed insurance carriers and fully expected to do routine checkups and generally not see the doctor for the rest of the year.  That apparently is not to be, after several more abnormal test results the doctor wants me to go in for an ultrasound of my abdomen.

Yippeee! Reading the web site for the ultrasound people about the prep for an abdominal ultrasound, Oh lovely! I’ll have to not eat and only have clear liquids. Thrilling!

Wait… Clear liquids? This is an ultrasound, what the fuck does the color of the liquid have to do with the price of tea in China? Humm, I guess the particulates in tea or coffee might cause a shadowy reading if the sensor has high enough resolution but I find it hard to believe that a handheld probe would have that kind of sensitivity.

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Reading down the menu of services… Throat ultrasounds, abdominal ultrasounds, chest ultrasounds ( I had one of those a while back), prenatal ultasounds, What the fuck is a penis ultrasound? Oh, just what it says on the tin… 

I know the doctor is just trying to find the source of the abnormal results of the blood work, I get that he’s trying to see if there’s damage to a critical internal organ. Based on the results over the past months I’m seriously doubting that the results of the last test are valid but I’m not sure what’s causing the abnormal readings. 

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I need to do more research on the abnormal results, and see if I can’t narrow it down to something logical that I’m doing. It makes no sense that the results are varying from normal to abnormal month to month if we’re looking at a disease process. 

My concern is that I don’t want to be gullible and I don’t want to become a science project. At the same time, I’m not at all ready to kiss Death on the lips. I got stuff to do and places to be. Heck I still haven’t had sex with twins!

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Near the end of my father’s life he said to me once that he didn’t want to travel out here because he didn’t want to get too far away from his doctors. I don’t know how much of that was and excuse designed to cover the fact that he was too weak to travel, or if he was trying to spare my feelings because he didn’t want to come out here.

I tend to think it was the former rather than the latter. However, I never want to feel like I can’t be too far from my doctor. Unless we’re sleeping together and I get a nice car & condo on the beach out of it… (Yeah, so I’m a whore what of it? At least I KNOW what my price is and accept it.) I’d just as soon not feel or be tethered because of some health issue. 

There’s a quality of life versus quantity of life equation in my head which says, “If you’re feeling pretty good keep going and enjoy yourself. Death will find you when it’s damn good and ready so don’t worry about it and don’t go looking for trouble.

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The quantity part of that equation is something like; “If you can do what a doctor says and feel better, last longer, and keep one step ahead of death then it’s probably worth it.

The problem is balancing the two sides of that equation. I always did SUCK at differential equations!

I’m not ill, I’m nowhere near having to run that Quality of Life calculation yet.

Recently however, I have been confronted with reminders that at some point I will have to run that equation and that I’ll have to live & die according to my answer.

I’ve been thinking about it because of my annoying issues, and the issues of my Mom who’s been in and out of the hospital a lot since Sept.

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Recently, her health has improved and it looks like another month or so in the hospital and she’ll be back to her normal self. She’s probably going to be a medical success, much like an old friend who is still kicking in the Pacific Northwest.

As I’ve said before I’m older now, than my father was when he died. There’s a part of me that wonders, “Did something happen to Dad that shortened my brother & my expiration dates? If so, how much intervention am I personally willing to accept and how the hell do I calculate the ROI?

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My friend up North went FULL MONTY with folks seeing parts of him that no other human being had ever seen, so that he could hang around on this strange little world filled with psychotic apes (borrowing loosely from Douglass Adams).

My Mom has had 5 hips and god only knows how much blood in the form of transfusions. Both of these folks have good years left in them so hands down the procedures they’ve endured were probably worth it.

Then I think about my Dad, so sick in his hospital bed. He’d chosen to figuratively fire a flare to get Death’s attention, a “Hey asshole! I’m ready, come and get me.” Even then Death wasn’t quick to show up. I guess Death doesn’t take kindly to orders or demands.

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I find myself wondering if Dad could have gotten up from that bed and had a few more days of puttering around seeing the sunrise & hearing the crickets at dusk without being in agonizing pain, would he have taken those days? Yeah, without a doubt, he would have even knowing he on his way out.

What might he have done with them? A last awesome mind bending no holds barred fuck @ some crazy upscale whorehouse, one last night at a bar with his friends playing pool, a last trip to the beach to watch the sunrise, more time with his sons doing any and all of the above with him, to the disapproving tut-tut of grandma?

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I guess as a man, I don’t really want to know. I want to be happy, enjoy myself, and just drop dead one day. I’d like it to be a surprise. I’d like my appearance at the pearly gates to be heralded by me loudly exclaiming, “WHAT THE FUCK?” Followed by the disapproving tut-tuts of all the grandmas waiting to speak to St Peter.

I think that’s why men in general don’t go to the doctor unless and until something is falling off or we’re dizzy from blood loss.

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I like seeing my doctor when I see him, he’s a good guy.

I really hate the yearly exam. There’s always something “wrong” at this stage in my life, “you need to loose weight, I want you to start taking this pill, you shouldn’t be eating this or that, when was the last time you had a drink (I swear one of these days I’m going to tell him two minutes ago… in your lobby!), I don’t like the looks of that, when did you see a dermatologist last, blah blah blah!” 

I preferred it when he just said, “you’re good to go play and call me if you need me.”

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As I’ve put on the years it’s less likely that I’m going to hear that anymore. I could simply not go see the Doc until something is falling off or I’m dizzy from blood loss.

I could simply not continue spending money trying to find out why there’s an abnormal result, but I’d never hear the end of it from the other half, and my Mother, and all the rest of the females in my family and life.

There are times when I wish I needed hearing aids… SO I COULD TURN THEM OFF! That would make it a lot easier to ignore all those voices and trundle happily toward just dropping in the garden one spring day.

Well, the ultrasound is non-invasive. I suppose it’s worth it to find out what’s going on, get the Doc off my back and not have to listen to all the whinging  from the family.

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I swear though, if anyone starts talking about poking me with large bore needles or comes at me with a scalpel it’s going to get nasty.

…They inject something into your penis, force an erection, ultrasound your member, then may inject you with something else to make you soft again? That’s seriously fucked up! They oughta have a room where you and your other half can pound it out.

At least then it might conceivably be worth it. Hell, all the men in the waiting room would have hard-ons in anticipation of that particular ultrasound procedure.  

There’d be guys coming out of the cardiac ward signing up for it. Oh, I guess that might not actually be a good thing… I suppose the hospital would have a problem explaining why all the male corpses had grins the undertaker had to jackhammer off.

Alright I gotta make that phone call.

Finally up and out of bed…

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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

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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…

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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.

Reflections

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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!”

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OK Dad, this one’s for you…