I’m in a strange place

It’s a place I’ve been in for a number of years, if not most of my life. But right here and now I have an opportunity to choose a different direction.

I just don’t fit.

Since I’ve been off work for a couple weeks now, I’ve been considering what to do next, and where to go from this point in my life. (I suppose this is part of the normal decompression process.)

Trouble is that I’ve always been a bit of an individual and frankly feel uncomfortable in most of the places that I’d traditionally be pigeonholed.

For example I’ve got this really conservative bent. But I’m just not conservative ENOUGH to feel comfortable in the Republican party and I suspect that the Tea Party may be pretty much the same. (I’m still checking…on that one.)

I’m not comfortable as a liberal although I do have some liberal leanings.

However in general being around a high percentage of liberals will eventually irritate me until I’m just PISSED off.

For example, bin Ladens’ death, For me it was like OOOORRRAAAHHH! Leave scorched Earth behind. For my liberal friends it was like Oh now why did the kill him and what about the other people in the compound? Should the children and wives have been exposed to that kind of violence?


I’ve not ever been comfortable in religion. For someone that thinks like I do, religion is at minimum mildly confusing and at maximum downright OPPRESSIVE.

I just can’t consolidate ME with the fire and brimstone I was raised around in the South. Even the much more moderate religious leanings of the Episcopal and United Church of Christ leave me feeling vaguely unsettled.

It’s not that I don’t believe in a creator, it’s how Man interprets that creator and then attempts to impose that interpretation on others.

Why you may ask am I thinking about all this?

Well, the company that I was working for, I joined because I naively believed I could contribute to the good in the world.

Yes it was a defense contractor, but what I was working on was something that would protect our troops, not necessarily kill our enemies. (not that I particularly have a problem killing our enemies)

Ok, maybe that’s hair splitting but I wasn’t creating particle beam weapons or figuring out how to bombard specific targets on the planet with asteroids.

The point is I wanted to and still do want to do good with my knowledge and skills. If I have to work for somebody, then I’d really like to contribute something back to society.

So I’d been thinking about working in the public service sector. But That’s when I run up against the not fitting problem. It seems that many of these jobs are heavily, (Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Tea Party, ACLU, Non-Profit, etc.) I’m not terribly sure how or if its possible to break into one of these areas.

I’m concerned about wasting another block of time working in a situation that is inherently not compatible with who I am.

I’ve thought about working in the gay community, but then I REALLY don’t fit. (I have a lot to say about the Many, Many, Many, ways that I don’t fit there, but that’s a posting for another time.)

For those of you that have Sirius-XM, there’s a radio station called Out-Q. Lets just say… I’m 180 degrees and several THOUSAND lightyears from what those people are, or what they think is important.

So as I said, where to from here?

I’ve been working on a list of possibilities

Artist – Many people seem to think I have something special when it comes to photography.

Writer – I do have a fertile imagination and am working on a book now.

Computer Geek – Been doing that most of my adult life.

Bar Tender – I think I’d like it. Have little idea about what’s involved.

Escort – I’m probably well past my “Sell By date”

I also just read a posting on a friends blog about being authentic in our lives. His posting resonated with me. I really need to do something that is more about who I really am and find joy in that. Of course the question is … can I get paid for being who I really am??

Then I read the edgy husband post here and thought yeah, I get what he’s saying too. Made me ask, have I been unavailable to myself in my life? Hummmm, Maybe I should pay attention this could be a message.

Before I get all wrapped around the existential axle, I’m heading out to run the weed whacker and then work out.

Like most men, accomplishments make me feel better and clear my head.


I have hated Flash since the time it was MacroMedia Flash.

As it became more and more ubiquitous I began to hate it passionately.

My reason for hating Flash is simple. I’m impatient by nature.

If I’m navigating to a corporate web site and I just want to look up some little tiny bit of information I absolutely fucking HATE being stalled out because I have to update my version of Flash to get to the site.

In general I don’t want to see what your web designer, or marketeers think are cool, cute, or interesting movies in preparation to me actually GETTING the data from your site.

For years I  refused to have Flash on any of my computers (work or personal). And during that time I simply wouldn’t purchase products from sites that forced me to have Flash installed to view their products.

Unfortunately as time went by and more sites incorporated Flash, I relented. After a while you just need to get to an operators manual for a product that you own. So you bite the bullet and download the crap so that you can get on with your life.

I brought up my Windows machine this morning. In addition to all the normal Microsoft security patches. I got a message from Adobe Flash saying that YET AGAIN I was down level and needed to update.

FINE! I click on the install button and then was presented with the “Do you accept the EULA?” which I thought “I dunno, I don’t know if I’ve ever read it”.

Thank you Matt Stone and Trey Parker for your Southpark episode lampooning Apple and their EULA! I will probably Never be able to update iTunes again!

I clicked on the link and was taken to a listing on the Adobe site of every EULA they have. After Finding the one for Flash, which by the way DOES NOT include the version they were trying to update me to, I click on the link.

Then a 260 page Combined, international PDF starts downloading. While downloading it hangs, and screws up Firefox so badly I had to do a 3 finger on the machine.

When the machine came up again, I tried this procedure again (I’m a Software QA guy right to the bone!) And again got the hang, again requiring a 3 finger.

So when the machine came up again, I told Adobe Flash NO I don’t want to update. What I’d really like to do is read that damn EULA. I mean, what do they have to hide??


Cellphone strangeness

I’m a happy T-mobile Customer. But over the past 2 weeks I’ve been having dropped calls here at home. This is very strange and it wasn’t until this morning that I remembered why it seemed strangely familiar.
Let me step back a bit so that you see where I’m at with this.

I was a happy Cingular customer. I had a family plan, tons of roll-over minutes, great service (even here in the mountains), and a bill that I could budget around. In short life was good on the phone front.

Then AT&T bought Cingular and things continued along for a while so I was still a happy customer. However, as AT&T began absorbing the Cingular network, and integrating the two networks into one the service went to hell in pretty short order.

First there were problems with dead areas that hadn’t existed before.

Next there were people I simply couldn’t call using my cell phone (These were folks that were on the AT&T network).

These calls, when placed gave you a fast busy signal or that annoying bee de beep “The number you have dialed is incorrect please check the number and dial again“. But dialing the same number from a land line phone, or from another cell carrier got you a ring, and you were able to speak to the party you’d dialed.

Then there was my best friend, who until the day I left AT&T for T-Mobile, I couldn’t talk to for more than 8 minutes per call.

Yes folks, 8 minutes from the time the call was placed until the call was disconnected. You could set your watch by it. Funniest thing about this one is that He was also a Cingular -> AT&T conversion.

Through all of this, there were dropped calls, incomplete calls even calls where you reached someone but you’d been routed to a completely wrong number.

The best was me dialing someone in the 310 area code and actually getting someone in the 317 area code.

Yep I dialed a number in LA and got the same number in Indiana. Oh and before you jump to the conclusion that I’d misdialed, this is a friend of mine and he’s on speed dial. When I punched redial I got the buddy in LA.

AT&Ts response to all of this was everything from flat out denial that there was anything wrong to “there is something wrong with your phone“, to the attitude of “Clearly Mr Customer you don’t know how to use your phone.” All said in that lovely and almost unintelligible singsong accent we’ve all come to know and love, attached to someone that has no clue what we’re talking about.

Yes sir I understand your concern. Yes sir your phone isn’t working. Is the phone turned on? Yes sir I understand your concern. Have you used your phone before? You know you have to push the buttons to dial… Yes sir I understand your concern….. 90 minutes of that and you want to throw the phone against the wall and go back to smoke signals!

I know that I wasn’t alone. Thousands of people if not millions had to deal daily with the inconvenience and disappointment of having had Cingular which worked very well and then being saddled against their will, with what was and still is shitty service from AT&T.

I stayed with AT&T for several years after the merger. I had more roll-over minutes than god. I had an iPhone which I lost in a house fire. I replaced the iPhone with a Blackberry and was more or less satisfied.

Until I needed to make a change in my telephone plan and AT&T made 60% of my banked roll-over minutes disappear. And then AT&T told me “by the way, since you’ve changed your plan minutes you’re now subject to our new data plan rates too.”

The whole point of me changing the amount of plan minutes was that I wasn’t using as many per month and the roll-over minutes were accumulating at an insane rate.

I was trying to cut my expenditure on the cell phone bill and by the time all was said & done, AT&T had fucked me and actually shoved the monthly bill over $250.00 a month. When began the call to make the changes the bill was $199.00 and the ever so helpful scumbag in Bangalore or wherever just followed their script without actually mentioning what these changes were going to do, despite the fact that I told him what my purpose in calling was.

So after I got the first AT&T RAPE bill, I went shopping.

T-Mobile was selling a great plan and their phones worked much better than my AT&T shit.

40 minutes after I walked into a T-Mobile Store, I walked out with a shiny new 3G Slide, my same phone number, a reasonable bill, and an unlimited data plan. I even PAID the AT&T bastards a premium to exit their fucking contract.

Flash forward a year or so and AT&T is supposedly buying T-Mobile. WELL, FUCK ME Runnin!

However, that merger is a year and congressional hearings away. RIGHT?

So why then, am I suddenly having problems with my T-Mobile phone dropping calls? It just seems a little too familiar.

Makes me wonder just a bit…

From one of my best friends regarding my recent procedure. It’s so nice to be loved!

The worst I said to my GI Guy was that he was a closet Sadist. I did suggest that his next Halloween costume should be one of the gray aliens since they’re the ones who do the anal probing.


Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald.

Colonoscopy Journal:

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy.

A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis. Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner.

I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn’t really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, ‘HE’S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!’

I left Andy’s office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called ‘MoviPrep,’ which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America’s enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.

Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn’t eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes – and here I am being kind – like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon..

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, ‘a loose, watery bowel movement may result.’

This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don’t want to be too graphic, here, but, have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle.. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, ‘What if I spurt on Andy?’ How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked..

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked off that I hadn’t thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point.

Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, ‘Dancing Queen’ had to be the least appropriate.

‘You want me to turn it up?’ said Andy, from somewhere behind me.

‘Ha ha,’ I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling ‘Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,’ and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood.

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

On the subject of Colonoscopies…

Colonoscopies are no joke, but these comments during the exam were quite humorous….. A physician claimed that the following are actual comments made by his patients (predominately male) while he was performing their colonoscopies:

1. ‘Take it easy, Doc. You’re boldly going where no man has gone before!’

2. ‘Find Amelia Earhart yet?’

3. ‘Can you hear me NOW?’

4. ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’

5. ‘You know, in Arkansas , we’re now legally married.’

6. ‘Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?’

7. ‘You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out…’

8. ‘Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!’

9. ‘If your hand doesn’t fit, you must quit!’

10. ‘Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.’

11. ‘You used to be an executive at Enron, didn’t you?’

12. ‘God, now I know why I am not gay.’

And the best one of all:

13. ‘Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?’

Yep, I’m a Gun Toting Conservative

Living in California is interesting for someone like me. I come from pretty humble beginnings. While I wouldn’t say I was poor growing up I can say that I come from the lower to mid middle class.

I was raised for the most part by a divorced working Mother, with copious support from her father. I was a latch key kid. I spent weekends with my father and his new family until he moved to another state.

I did stuff as a kid that while normal then, in the South is completely WRONG today in California.

I rode a bicycle without a helmet… Gasp!

I Dug forts underground.

I built forts in trees.

I played with fire

I had a lot of fun with fireworks and M-80s

At age 8 or so I drove the speed boat my dad had, By Myself!!!!

I occasionally rode a mini-bike again sans helmet.

I went swimming in lakes, and canals where we KNEW alligators were living. You just looked for the ‘gator if he wasn’t in the wallow, you found yourself another lake to swim in.

There were a variety of poisonous snakes, Rattlesnakes, Water Moccasins, and Coral snakes. These were a fact of life and you learned pretty damn quick to be aware of your surroundings, and pay attention!

One of the things I find amusing as hell living here is how very provincial Southern Californians are. On the very few occasions that I’ve described my childhood, Californians (very few natives I should point out) loose their minds. Their views of my childhood are that clearly I was an abused child. After all NO responsible parent would allow their child to be exposed to all of these dangers!

But I think that all of these “dangers” made me very resourceful and in fact honed my survival instincts.

For example you listen when you’re outside. Most creatures make pretty distinctive noises. If you know what sounds to listen for you can easily avoid conflict with wildlife. You learn early on, vicious alligators or dogs for that matter don’t climb trees… BUT Humans climb very well. Especially, when pursued BY vicious alligators or dogs!

In my family you learned at a very tender age that Guns are not Toys. They are not objects to threaten someone with. If someone pulls a gun on you you’re going to A) Get shot, or B) shoot them. (not entirely true) We were taught respect for guns. We were taught how to use them, that guns were tools, and especially we were taught NEVER to point a gun at someone unless you INTENDED to Shoot them.

I clearly remember my father and the other menfolk of the family drinking scotch, smoking cigarettes or cigars and shooting their latest firearm acquisitions. In the back yard.

They drank responsibly… in that they put the guns away after they’d had a couple of drinks.

I also remember very fondly, leaning my shoulders against my fathers thighs and him coaching me on the firing of a small automatic .38 (I think). When I fired that gun for the first time, it knocked my shoulders back against his thighs and he kept me from falling. Then he explained why I hadn’t hit the target and really spent time coaching me on the use of the weapon.

It was a bonding moment and from then on I knew my dad would be there even if he was pissed off at me. I don’t think I was older than maybe 8 or 9.

I played baseball, I skinned my knees, sprained my arms, broke my nose, and in general had a Great Childhood!

Today THIS IS VERBOTEN! In “Proper Liberal” circles it’s off the charts Crazy and is pointed to by liberals as an example of why the government MUST protect us from ourselves! After all a child firing a weapon? OH MY GOD! The horror! A child on his own unsupervised in a lake? How irresponsible! Playing with firecrackers and being allowed to have matches! EEEEKKKK! A chemistry set, with potentially dangerous chemicals and an alcohol burner? OMG!

Back then, in the South any or all of the above was a normal way to spend a Saturday afternoon waiting for a completely unhealthy dinner of Fried Chicken, biscuits, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet tea, and maybe green beans.

Here’s another little tidbit, we knew what time dinner was, if we weren’t around when dinner was served we didn’t eat. No, not we didn’t eat something else… We didn’t eat!

It was one of the first lessons in personal responsibility I had. I remember my Mother and my Step Mother both telling me “I don’t run a cafeteria here. You’re here when dinner is served or you go hungry.” Amazing how fast you learn from a little hardship.

The entire time I was growing up, I never heard of anyone being accidentally shot, and since most of my friends had the same cultural upbringing even if a gun was laying out somewhere It HAD NO INTEREST TO US. There was no mystery and consequently we weren’t likely to be in the least curious about it.

So this shows me yet another Glaring way that I’m different from many of the other people in this state.
I believe in personal accountability and responsibility. I like guns and believe that everyone should own one and know how to use it well! I’m seriously annoyed by the NANNY state. (I have a mother, thank you very much and she taught me to be responsible and accountable.)

The older I get the more I’m leaning toward organizations and political parties that I would never have thought to even listen to.

At first I thought it was just because I was a curmudgeon but now I think it’s that I’m sick of people acting irresponsibly and expecting society at large to clean up their messes.

I for one have all I can do to clean up my own messes and don’t need the burden of other people demanding something for nothing from me.

Does that make me a prime recruit for the Tea Party or am I a better recruit for another group????

Wheeew! That’s Over!

Well that rite of passage is over!

The surgical center gave me a lovely parting gift telling me I had no issues in my colon and there were pictures to prove it. (Again, places that a camera should never go!)

I’m going to plug these folks because they deserve it.

The Newport Beach Surgery Center is an absolutely fantastic place for Outpatient procedures.

This is the second time I’ve been in their care and they really do make the experience as pleasant as possible the staff is simply great.

I can also recommend the following physicians.

Dr. Lochner – Internal Medicine
Dr. Rodriguez – Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine
Dr. Shadid – Surgeon
Dr. Topkis – Anesthesiology
Dr. Patel – Anesthesiology

The reason there are two anesthesiologists listed is that depending on scheduling at Newport Beach Surgery Center it’s luck of the draw.

They were both were kind, courteous, and gentle. Also, what they said was going to happen did.

I vaguely remember going out for the surgery, and seeing Dr. Topkis putting something into the IV. But I don’t remember anything else until I woke up in recovery.

With Dr. Patel and the colonoscopy… I remember being wheeled into the room with the equipment and seeing Dr. Rodriguez even teasing with him a bit and then I think Dr. Patel put something in the IV and I must have dropped mid thought…

I woke up in recovery with an oxygen mask and heard the soft beep beep beep of a heart monitor.

If you’re looking for excellent care, and people that are HUMAN instead of what has become all too common in physicians these days I’d say make the drive to Newport Beach.

You might not want to mention that I sent you… I’m a real pain in the ass as a patient… You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with these folks! 🙂

Now about the Colonoscopy itself…

Guys, as has been said many times, the prep is the absolute worst part of this procedure. (I got an “Excellent” on my report about my prep, so there!) Doc Rodriguez wanted me to not eat anything except clear liquids the day before the procedure. I was able to have coffee that morning.

Around 3:00 PM that day, I started drinking the “kool-aid” (actually the stuff is some Polyethylene Glycol concoction with a ton of mineral salts in it.)

The biggest problem for me is that I knew I was drinking something that I shouldn’t be. My instincts about self preservation and not intentionally hurting myself were going nuts! (Note to any Psychs reading this, You’re not likely to ever see me on a suicide watch list.)

After overriding my instincts, and drinking about 3 glasses of this stuff… well, it was time to take a book and go to the bathroom. It wasn’t too bad at first but by the time I’d finished the whole 4 liters of the mix

I was ready to see ANY room in the house except the bathroom.

After the flushing, I was just tired, hungry, cranky and my butt was sore. Oh, one of the nurses suggested and I recommend it too, get a box of baby wipes for yourself. Even with the baby wipes, my butt was sore, I can’t imagine what it would have been like with just toilet paper.

By about 6 PM the Bathroom time was done and I did treat myself to a little bit of lemon Jello about 8PM. (NOTE: Nothing RED or PURPLE. I guess the dyes can look like blood or something else abnormal.)

After that water, plenty of water… watch a little TV, then bed time.

Next morning, up early. Jerry was so kind driving me down there even though I was cranky. The drive to Newport is a long one from Wrightwood but for the quality of care it’s worth it.

After the prep, it’s a pretty easy deal. You show up at the facility, check in, get into one of those silly gowns with no back, and they take you to a nice bed. You’re asked a few questions, then they hook you up to an IV. Strange thing about the IV is that I was thirsty when I got to the place, but after the IV had been running a bit I wasn’t thirsty anymore and in fact had to get out of the bed to take a leak.

This is where I appreciate the staff at Newport Surgical. They’re Busy as hell! And yet they were kind and acted like it was no problem to help me trundle my ass to the bathroom. I know it must have been a pain for them to break their routine but they didn’t even blink.

After that it’s like “Click” and you’re in recovery. I can suggest that if you wake up with an oxygen mask on, BREATHE DEEP.

It helps, my head cleared probably within a half hour. I remember thinking breathe, this is the good stuff! I occupied myself reading the vitals monitor above my head. When I first work up I vaguely remember that it looked like my BP and Heart Rate were a tad high (for Me) but then as I kept breathing deep everything stabilized back to normal. I don’t know what that was about but it kept me interested and conscious. (figure I’ll ask about it when I see the Doc next.)

There is one thing that you should be prepared for. When it’s over, you’ll be lying there and you will be passing gas. A LOT of gas. No it’s not technically yours. The procedure pumps a bit of gas into you so that they can see the walls of your colon better. So… after the tube is removed, well you get the picture.

Dudes let ‘er rip! The post op nurse is listening for that to make sure you’re ok.

I remember some conversation about it as I was being unhooked from the IV. It may be the ONLY time when its OK be as loud as you want. (aside from competitions with your hunting buddies or brothers)

Think about the beans scene in Blazing Saddles

We were in the car by 9 or 10 and home by 11 am. No ill effects and while I did nap a bit off and on during the day it wasn’t a completely awful experience.

As an aside

I did a little research on something called a virtual colonoscopy as well. I think going old school is probably a better idea for ONE simple reason.

If you actually have to have a growth removed… The virtual will show it but you’re still going to have to go old school to actually have it removed.

That being the case… if the prep is the same you might as well have the tube in your colon ready to remove the growth right then. I’m for a minimalist approach, save the extra steps and it’s probably less expensive in the long run.

That’s just my opinion. And FOR GOD SAKE don’t take anything I’ve said here as gospel. THIS is just MY experience your results will vary. Talk to your Doctor and come to your own conclusions.

As always… Think for yourself!