Thursday, October 31, 2013

UM......BOO?


Might as well get a sunshiny traditional picture in because today looks like a real Halloween - foggy, drizzly, chilly.  You know, Hot Cocoa weather.


Yeah, more like this scene. Ahmed the Dead Terrorist, anyone?



And what would the Holiday be without one of these. Say, he's good at this!



Whatever you're planning this All Hallows' Eve, hope you have a fun, safe, and spooky time.




And so it goes.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

BBC Documentaries With Sexy Presenters

Yes, I know.  Here we call them Hosts, but in the UK they are Presenters and the quality programming they present is astonishing and beautiful. As are the presenters themselves. Since I was out of commission Sunday and Monday with a fever (thanks to a delayed allergic reaction to the blood products received on Friday) I spent many hours - nine to be exact - viewing three amazing, enlightening, and intelligent series on three very different subjects presented by three very hunky hotties knowledgeable gentlemen. Oh, and by the way, there were three episodes to each series.  Did you follow all that?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Presenters and the Programs:


Locomotion - History of the British Railway. Presented by Dan Snow.



The Code - Mathematics in Nature, the Universe, and Humans. Presented by Marcus du Sautoy.



Miracles of Nature - Animal abilities that inspired human invention and scientific innovation. Presented by Richard Hammond.

I found the programs compelling and, as you can see, the presenters very easy on the eyes.  If you have an interest in these subjects you can check them out for yourself on YouTube. Each episode runs just under an hour and there are (so far) no annoying commercials.

Hope to get out and about tomorrow as the weather is supposed to be warm for the end of October - the upper 60s!  I'll take it.

And so it goes.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

R.I.P Lou Reed


Thanks for that Walk On The Wild Side.  Wish we could do it over one more time.


More later.
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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sea Witch, Sunshine, & Spandex

Wow!  That was fun!

As I left the building to join the Sea Witch festivities yesterday I could hear a marching band playing.  I {heart} me some marching bands!  The parade had already stepped off and was heading down the avenue to the ocean.  I missed the first half as it did so, but found a good viewing spot and caught the whole parade on it's back swing.

Fun floats, fire trucks full of kids, high school marching bands, (did I say I {heart} me some marching bands?) and costumed walkers of every stripe. Costumes were original and many downright hysterical. Not being a slave to TV I am sure I missed some of the humor, but it was fun, nonetheless. The women costumed as the Kardasians (sp?) were boo'd and hiss'd by the bystanders.  I don't think they expected that response.  Was it a tough crowd?  Don't think so.  I think they were just expressing their "over-it" attitude toward the infamous family.

Six groups made up the various characters of the Hanna-Barbera Cartoon shows like, Scooby Doo, The Jetsons, The Flintstones with Pebbles and Bam-Bam,  Yogi Bear & Boo-boo,  Josie & the Pussycats, and a few others I didn't recognize drew lots of attention and applause. I bumped into a few of these folks again later on enjoying drinks & lunch at the restaurant.  Great fun and nice people.  Oh, and the costume theme for the restaurant this years was "The Old West" with the staff dressed as cowboys, Indians, gamblers, and dance hall ladies.  Though they weren't all "ladies" - if you get my drift.

Of course, this celebration is a far cry from last year when everything was cancelled (for the first time in  30 years) because Hurricane Sandy was moving up the coast, already sending heavy rains and high winds to our shores in advance.  Although the powers-that-be did their best to salvage something for the  kids - a mini-kids parade and costume contest - indoors at the Convention Center, it just wasn't the same.

That memory wasn't lost on those attending this year,  many commenting on where they were, how they evacuated, and how long they were away before being allowed to return to their homes. Still, that's the past and everyone was happy to be out again in the Autumn sunshine being as outrageous as they dared.  Let me say, some were quite daring.  In fact, I think I fell in love with one of the "Fantastic Four" hotties (don't know which one he was supposed to be, don't know the show. But he certainly filled out that spandex costume nicely.) who took notice of my feeble medical mask and jokingly reprimanded (and awarded) me for the least original costume of the day.

Returned home to a light supper - my beef, sausage cabbage soup - took a hot shower and watched a BBC series before heading to bed.  I was really tired out, but happy to be on the sidelines on such a happy day.

Before you ask, no, I didn't take pictures. The camera was in my shoulder bag and I didn't bring it along. Could have kicked myself at first, but I think I had a better time without it.  Aside from the Fantastic One, my presence went un-noticed, and that's fine with me. Staying out of crowds was a lot easier said than done.  I managed and haven't come down with anything, so far.


Had planned to attend the Pet Parade today, but I'm not up for another outing like yesterday. I may visit the restaurant for a few hours, but that's my limit this time around.

So there it is...A  good weekend all round and good time was had by all.

And so it goes.
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Saturday, October 26, 2013

I Am a Medical Professional. You Are Not.




Bear with me here, OK?  I feel a rant coming on. Not a Hissy, mind you, just your run-of-the-mill WTF kind of rant.  Yes, the subject is Medical and Professional.  Those 2 words don't necessarily go together. And don't give me that "they're overworked and understaffed" BS, cause it ain't gonna fly here. As you will understand later.


A recording of that title ought to be played back oh, say every 5 minutes, as a reminder to the "professional" and the patient (layman) being "professed" by said professional. In short, I know why these a**holes 'practice' medicine.  OMG, do they need the practice!

In my recent experience, They do not:
  • Listen to answers to the questions they ask. ***
  • Treat patients as unique individuals.
  • Stray from whatever office protocol has been established for whatever CYA reasons. ***
  • Believe patient's response to questions concerning bodily functions, diet, or medications.
  • Attempt to solve problems on their own or at Patient's suggestion.
  • Take advice from the patient regarding the viability of already abused veins in search of more blood. 
  • Admit any wrong-doing regarding mis-treatment. 
  • Take seriously the patient's experience or their body's reaction to certain procedures and medications.
  • Acknowledge or apologize for negative consequences resulting from rejecting the innate knowledge of the patient.

They do: 
  • Express surprise when the information provided by the patient proves accurate.
  • Assume patient is no longer taking specific medications because the data isn't showing up in patient's records on their computers.
  • Question the possibility of undocumented, unapproved revisions to the patient's supplement/prescription regime by demanding all items be brought to the office at each visit as proof. ***
  • Suspect the patient is secretly attempting to undermine his/her own treatment.

Arrived at the Cancer Center at 7:15 am yesterday, was finally cut loose (literally) at 3:30 pm. During those surreal 8 hours I witnessed (or overheard) all of the above at least once. I went in for blood work - a CBC - and learned that transfusion was necessary.  Three hours passed before the order was filled and blood delivered. Another half-hour of paper-pushing before the port was prepped and transfusion started. Next time I'll get the CBC done in late afternoon one day, and transfused the following morning. No more 3 hours of waiting.

As luck would have it, I knew the 2 nurses and CNA assigned to me from around town, so I suffered no indignities, was well cared for.  Not so, for others in the center.  There are 5 suites in the center.  Each contains 6 stations for infusion/transfusion patients.  Two nurses and 1 CNA are assigned to each station. Technicians float in and out as needed, and volunteer helpers scurry about like fussy worker bees. There are no dividing walls, only a waist-high railing of sorts. That translates to no privacy, every word said anywhere in the center can be heard everywhere. An embarrassing situation made worse when patients are asked extremely personal questions. (This is especially true with older, hearing impaired or non-English speaking patients.) It's like learning the medical history of a few dozen people in a couple of hours.

The cacophony of coughing, wheezing, spitting, hissing oxygen tanks, whirring motors connecting patients to diabolical machinery, snoring, groaning, wailing, and shouting was unnerving, to say the least. But no laughter. All very difficult sounds to tune out.

 I had the Kindle, but no headphones to block out the noise.  The Kindle battery went dead by mid-day, forcing me to drag the IV rack around the center in search of reading material. Three recent issues of Popular Science helped (like Calgon) take me away.  If I ever have the opportunity to meet the subscriber, a Mr. Clay Fisher, he's in for a big kiss for his donation to my sanity.

By the time I left I felt totally wrung out. If this is what I have to look forward to every couple of weeks over the next - however many months - it's going to take all my inner resources to remain positive and up-beat.

Anyone know where I can snag some Xanax, or "happy weed" for next time?

Update Saturday, 26 October 10:45 am: Received a call from the Cancer Center.  Seems they neglected to tell me that my neutrophil count was dangerously low yesterday. They wanted to remind me to wear the face mask whenever I go out in public.  The situation will be re-evaluated on my next visit. The Neutropenia is alive and well. This doesn't surprise me. Especially after receiving 2 units of blood yesterday.

Hell, it's Halloween & Sea Witch weekend, a perfect Autumn day and I am going to head over to watch the parade of costumes and floats; maybe stop by Dos Locos to terrorize see everyone.  Being out will do me a world of good - as long as I stay away from large crowds and small children. 

*** If you need an explanation of these bullet points (which you probably won't believe, anyway) just drop me a note or leave a comment.

And so it goes.
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Caturday Games




Kitteh, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

More later.
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Please, Tell Me Again About the NEW South.


When I first heard about this story I must admit I threw up a little in my mouth. It brought back many ugly memories of growing up in the deep south.  On the recent New Orleans trip I came face-to-face with some of those memories, which I plan to share in the near future.  Anyway...

But having learned that the humanoid wannabe behind the comment/slur was none other than that tin-foil hat wearing Texas Senator, Pete - "Privatize Social Security" - Sessions, I can't say it came as a surprise. I mean, it could have come from any number of knuckle-dragging mouth-breathing Sons of the Sunny South, but Short Bus Sessions continues to live up to his well deserved reputation.  At least he's consistent.

REID TOLD CAUCUS PETE SESSIONS WAS BEHIND OBAMA INSULT.WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told his Democratic caucus last week in a private meeting that a top House Republican said to President Barack Obama, "I cannot even stand to look at you," according to two Democratic senators who were present.
The account was confirmed by two Senate Democratic aides who said they independently learned of the exchange from other senators.
A White House official said Thursday that the administration did relay such a message to Reid, but that it was the result of a miscommunication.
“While the quote attributed to a Republican lawmaker in the House GOP meeting with the President is not accurate, there was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding," the official said in a statement.
Asked to clarify, then, what the White House meant to tell Senate Democratic leaders about Obama's meeting with House Republicans, the official said only, "Not going to read out the details of private meetings with the President, or private meetings between WH and Dem leaders."
The two senators who spoke to HuffPost did not hear the Republican make the remark, but said a top White House aide who was present during Obama's meeting with Republicans later told Senate Democratic leaders that the lawmaker who made the remark was Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Rules Committee.
Reid relayed the story to the entire Democratic caucus on Tuesday, Oct. 15, and named Sessions, according to one of the two Democratic senators who spoke to HuffPost. Reid also told the caucus that he was “sorry” to have to tell them about it, per this senator, but gave Obama credit for his “dignified” response to Sessions. Reid reportedly told the caucus that Obama responded to Sessions by saying he understood that they disagreed on many issues and he respected their differences.

Even if there is a quick cover-up and denial this incident ever happened,  many of us know down deep inside that, Yes, it could - and probably did.

So don't be fooled, any reference to the new South is wishful thinking laced with propaganda.  Just scratch the surface and out pops a Southern Gentleman still living the Plantation mentality.  The old South is alive and kickin'. And that's the way they like it.

Just my 2-cents, plain.

And so it goes.
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hi-Ho, The Glamorous Life!


What can I say? A Jet-set kind of guy with a full dance-card.  

Weekend on Catalina, Dinner at Sardi's, Happy Hour with Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen, an afternoon luncheon with the Obamas.  (Sigh!) There are not enough hours in the day, that's all. 

Ah, that's the life for me.

Then I woke up. (Bother!) The phone was ringing. I did a double-take when I looked at the clock. I had slept 11 hours!  What? Yep, eleven hours. Not a good sign. 

The call was from the Oncologist's nurse. She apologized for the delay in getting back to me. Yeah, what if I had really been in need of blood work or blood?  Never mind.

I have an appt. for a CBC tomorrow at 7:30 am, which I am almost positive will be followed by a couple of units transfusion. I can tell.  I've gotten increasingly weaker and short of breath since yesterday.  As they say, "Timing is Everything."  I will pack a few necessities in a bag JIC, again.

Showed my face at the restaurant, just to say hello, schmooze with customers, and staff.  After about 2 hours I began getting weaker and short of breath, so after saying my good-byes, I made a quick exit.

Having had a bite to eat, and taken a hot shower,  it's about time to take the evening meds before getting under the covers to read for a while until I fall asleep.

The good news is (so far) there are no high fevers to contend with this time around. Yes, well…it's the little things, isn't it. 

And so it goes.
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Halloween: "Happy Priest" Old is New Again

See this ad and read it carefully (click to embiggen):



Now don't be offended.  Truth is truth and you can't have opinions about truth. A few years ago there was one offered far more graphic than this one.

OK, truth be told; once upon a time when I was a young'un growing up Gay (and Catlick) in New Orleans, once upon a time at Mardi Gras I costumed as a Pregnant Nun on Roller Skates.  The costume in the ad doesn't have that much imagination. I dreamt up the idea at age 16! Evil boy!  Well, I am left-handed, after all - and we know what that means. You don't?  Go ask an old nun.

After all, nuns were the Islamic terrorists of their day.   If you went to Catholic school you know I speak the truth.  Of course, I do...

Predictably, ol' Bill Donahue - of the Catholic League (a league of one, BTW) is foaming at the mouth over this 'outrage' - in an attempt to martyr himself for all those victims of religious abuse both past and present.

It is what it is.

I wish I was well enough to work Sea Witch this weekend. I'd give some folks heart failure.

h/t: JMG

More later.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Saturn As Only a Spacecraft Could See it.

This got my day off on a happy note. Launched in the late 90s (after about 15 years in development, I believe) and sending back
incredible images since the early years of this new century, Cassini is the gift that keeps on giving. These latest images are from a recent rendezvous with the beautiful planet. Just look at that image! Wow!  Just, Wow!

It's nice to know that even while the tea party-inspired government shutdown brought science and industry on Terra to a halt, Cassini was doing what comes naturally - even if no one gave a damn! Fortunately, many do give a damn.
From Universe Today:

So what did NASA do during the US government shutdown? You can’t just turn off spacecraft that are operating millions of miles away, so missions like the Mars rovers and the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn continued to send back images to Earth during the 16 days that most of NASA wasn’t up and running like usual. On October 10, 2013, as Cassini flew high above the planet’s equatorial plane, the spacecraft’s camera took 36 images of Saturn, a dozen each using the various red, green, and blue filters used to create color images. 
The images were transferred back to Earth and put on the Cassini raw images page. Gordan Ugarkovic from Croatia, and a member of the image editing wizards at UnmannedSpaceflight.com, grabbed the raw files, processed them, then assembled the images into this jaw-dropping mosaic. 
This is a view from Saturn that we could never get from Earth; only a spacecraft orbiting the planet could take it. You can see the north pole and the swirling maelstrom of clouds that creates the hexagonal polar vortex, the thin bands in Saturn’s atmosphere, and — of course — what really stands out is the incredible view of Saturn’s rings. To see the original 3 MB version, see this page on UMSF. 
“You shouldn’t be surprised to see processing artifacts here and there,” cautioned Ugarkovic via email to Universe Today. “It is, after all, based on raw JPEG images only.” 
See more of Gordan’s work at his Flickr page. 
But in the words of UMSF’s Astro0, “That’s the sort of view I’ve dreamed I would only ever see in a science fiction movie or if we had some kind of amazing futuristic spacecraft orbiting around that distant ringed planet….WAIT! We do!” 
For more of what NASA did during the shutdown, Bill Dunford at Riding With Robots put together a great summary, quoting the @SarcasticRover that “You can’t shut down awesome.” Bill started the #ThingsNASAMightTweet hashtag that reminded everyone of all the things NASA does, but they couldn’t tweet about during the shutdown. People from around the world chimed in, adding what was important to them about NASA, and as of today, tweets with that hashtag have passed 27 million impressions.

Click through the links within the story or check out the other interesting stories at the Universe Today website for yourself.

More later.
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Peggy Lee Has Left the Building***


Yesterday marked the 18th day without spiking a high fever.  Aside from a minor 99.2 once last week, it's all been good. Seems the right cocktail of meds did the trick on that score. The energy level remains low and the full-body weakness creeps in now and then, but I am aware when that happens and take steps to slow myself down. The doctors suggested taking Gingko Biloba and Iron supplements daily to address those issues Ordered Friday,  should arrive today.

Not that I'm doing much to tire myself, but there it is.  Aside from reading, watching BBC documentaries on YouTube, listening to music, and eating there isn't much else in my daily routine. 

A brief update: I did drive to the restaurant Sunday afternoon to hear some Jazz and schmooze with regulars, thank them for their well wishes, and be grateful I was out among the living again.  Even with the face mask no one seemed to mind.  The boss even took a photo with his iPhone and posted it to the DL FaceBook pages. He told me there were over 20 comments within a short time. That image (not the best quality, but then neither am I) is posted above. Mask on, menu in hand…you can't see the big smile on my face, but you can imagine how it felt being there again.  The locos guys seemed as happy to have me back as everyone else. A grand feeling, that. And a boost to the old self-esteem.

Enjoyed the time seating a few tables and then sitting and chatting with them about music, life, and only addressing the health situation when asked.  Then being as vague as possible.  Most didn't pry. Everyone enjoyed the weather, the music and our time together. Many were shocked that I could join their tables if only for a brief time before moving on. (I felt like Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke! Only the honky-tonk piano and feather boa were missing.) I made the rounds from the bar seats to high-tops, to tables. Helped out in the kitchen for a short time and terrorized my lovable wait staff, who pampered me no end. 

The joint was jumpin' but not crowded when I arrived, 2 hours later Jazz buffs began to pour through the doors in large groups; that was my cue to head home. I was tiring anyway and didn't want to overplay the good hand dealt to me. It was a gift not to be abused.

Calls to the Oncologist offices have not yet been returned. Maybe they're miffed at my behavior toward the abusive doctor during my last visit. We shall see. They will have to contact me sooner or later. They are the only game in town to perform the necessary tests that need to be done.

Autumn weather has arrived - gray skies, cooler temps and brisk winds off the ocean - so it's time for some cold-weather kitchen activities.  A brief trip to the market for supplies is the only outing on my gay agenda today.  The plan for today is bread baking and a thick, hearty soup. Wish me luck.


***If you didn't get the reference, you're forgiven...this time!   Watch This.



And so it goes.
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Monday, October 21, 2013

"Home" a short film about Katrina

By Matt Faust.  part of the Tribeca Film Festival 'shorts' offerings. It's a poignant live/animated film using photos and family films to reveal his HOME; what it was and what happened to it. I won't embed  it here, I believe it should be viewed at YT to boost his numbers.

Here is what Matt writes in the YT description:
A few months after I finished chemotherapy for an extremely rare cancer, Hurricane Katrina hit and my childhood home was destroyed. With ideas about what is really important in life and what makes a home special at the forefront of my mind, I was compelled to record and share these thoughts through what would become my first film, Home. I was inspired both by what came to mind when I returned to my destroyed post-Katrina home and by what I saw when I returned to my pre-Katrina home in my dreams. The result, I hope, is something that is relatable, therapeutic, informative, and encouraging to everyone whether you've experienced a sudden loss like Katrina or not. I hope it can help us all to remember and honor what we've lost, but more importantly, to appreciate what we still have.
Thanks for watching. Feel free to contact me.- Matt

Go and watch HOME. Now!

And so it goes.
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Funny Thing About The ACA (Obamacare) Website Glitches...


Yep, John pretty much nailed this one. Tee-heh...

More later.
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Selfie & Jazz



I can't believe it's Jazz weekend already.  It sorta came creepin' up
while I was otherwise engaged with IVs, Narcotics, and blood-letting. This is the first Jazz weekend I haven't worked in many years and it's not a good feeling.

Had a meeting with the Locos Guys yesterday and they gave me a few pointers regarding short and long-term disability, SSA, etc. and told me that many customers had been asking for me and expressing concern. Of course, it is company policy not to give out personal information, so they've been passing on best wishes via text every few days. 

Knowing I can't return to work right now, they suggested that I (when feeling up to it) come by the restaurant, hang out, socialize with the customers. Seating people when I can, if I feel like it, and just be present for them. As things are, they said it would take a bit of stress off of them, since they are doing my job - as well as their own work. Sounds like a great idea to me. Stuck within these 4 walls isn't fun and games.

A call to the local Oncologist is on the gay agenda tomorrow to set up dates for CBC blood work, any necessary transfusions, if and/or when I can return to work, and if they will initiate the necessary paperwork for disability payments - short-term or long.  Another priority is to ask about the masks and the length of time I ought to be in a public place. But, that's tomorrow…

So, weather permitting, I may drive to the restaurant this afternoon to listen to some Jazz by our 2 different trios as they begin to jam at noon. If it gets too crowded or I get tired, I can always leave.  Kind of paranoid about wearing the mask in public, but I will have to get over that for now. Unfortunately, it is a great conversation starter. I just don't want to explain everything that's going on.  Especially since I DON'T KNOW what's going on myself.  We shall see.

Thursday was Spirit Day and although I was unable to appear in public in my festive purple that day, I did wear it (although it may be hard to detect) and here's my Selfie to prove it. Purple is my favorite colour, so Spirit Day could be any day. 

And so it goes.
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Say It Ain't So, Verizon!



Back in the day when there was only one telephone company (a monopoly, I'll grant you that) the Bell System developed an infrastructure of lines throughout the hurricane-prone areas of the country, then carried that development to the rest of the eastern seaboard. When hurricanes hit anywhere the single communication link one could rely on was the land-line telephone. Everyone I know in NOLA, for example, may have a cell phone and a cordless phone in the home for convenience, but look in any closet and you will find an old fashioned wired phone for emergencies.  BTW, I still have one in the closet. An old "trimline" number. It came in handy during Sandy last year.

During a big storm, the electric power can be out for days or weeks, cordless phones (run on batteries even though the base is connected to the land-line) are useless, as are cellphones when the towers go down (electricity, again) leaving people stranded with no connection to the outside world. This is when those old phones come out, get plugged in, and will work 99% of the time. After a major hurricane I was able to reach most everyone because they had these old phones. 

Now, Verizon wants to change all that.  Thinking of higher profits rather than customer service and safety, they want to do away with the copper wire, high maintenance system and force everyone into the wireless market.  They're starting small, as you will read below, but the plans are in the works for the rest of the country. To my mind, Voice Link is an unreliable alternative.

Southern friends should take particular note of this.
MANTOLOKING, N.J. — Hurricane Sandy devastated this barrier island community of multimillion-dollar homes, but in Peter Flihan’s view, Verizon Communications has delivered a second blow: the telecommunications giant did not rebuild the landlines destroyed in the storm, and traditional telephone service here has now gone the way of the telegraph. 
“Verizon decides then and there to step on us,” said Mr. Flihan, 75, a retired toy designer and marketer. Verizon said it was too expensive to replace Mantoloking’s traditional copper-line phone network — the kind that has connected America for more than a century — and instead installed Voice Link, a wireless service it insisted was better. 
Verizon’s move on this sliver of land is a look into the not-too-distant future, a foreshadowing of nearly all telephone service across the United States. The traditional landline is not expected to last the decade in a country where nearly 40 percent of households use only wireless phones. Even now, less than 10 percent of households have only a landline phone, according to government data that counts cable-based phone service in that category. 
The changing landscape has Verizon, AT&T and other phone companies itching to rid themselves of the cost of maintaining their vast copper-wire networks and instead offer wireless and fiber-optic lines like FiOS and U-verse, even though the new services often fail during a blackout. 
“The vision I have is we are going into the copper plant areas and every place we have FiOS, we are going to kill the copper,” Lowell C. McAdam, Verizon’s chairman and chief executive, said last year. Robert W. Quinn Jr., AT&T’s senior vice president for federal regulatory issues, said the death of the old network was inevitable. “We’re scavenging for replacement parts to be able to fix the stuff when it breaks,” he said at an industry conference in Maryland last week. “That’s why it’s going to happen.” 
The Federal Communications Commission has long agreed. In its National Broadband Plan, published in 2010, the F.C.C. said that requiring certain carriers to maintain plain old telephone service “is not sustainable” and could siphon investments away from new networks. 
“The challenge for the country,” the F.C.C. said, is to ensure “a smooth transition for Americans who use traditional phone service and for the businesses that provide it.” 
But as far as Mr. Flihan and others in New Jersey are concerned, that transition from a reliable service — one that has given them a sense of security all their lives — is not smooth at all. An array of state-sanctioned consumer advocacy groups, as well as AARP, have petitioned regulators to disallow the replacement of Mantoloking’s copper lines with Voice Link. 
Not only will Voice Link not work if the power fails — a backup battery provides two hours of talking time, hardly reassuring to people battered by Sandy — but Verizon warns Voice Link users that calls to 911 under normal conditions might not go through because of network congestion. Medical devices that require periodic tests over phone lines, like many pacemakers, cannot transmit over Voice Link. Fax machines do not work over most wireless phone networks, including Voice Link. Neither do many home security systems, which depend on a copper phone line to connect to a response center. 
“They told us this was the greatest thing in the world,” Mr. Flihan said. But he estimates that roughly 25 percent of the calls he makes through the Verizon Voice Link service do not go through the first time he dials, or sometimes the second or third. Occasionally, the call is interrupted by clicking sounds, and sometimes a third party’s voice can be heard on the line, Mr. Flihan said.
The Gray Lady has the story HERE.
And so it goes.
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Caturday Morning


More later.
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Friday, October 18, 2013

TMI - RANDOMNESS


TMI - Randomness
1: Could you go the rest of your life without smoking a cigarette?
No problem.

2: Are you single/taken/heartbroken/confused?
Single.

3: What if I told you that you were handsome/pretty?
I would break your dark glasses & your cane, and shoot your dog! Then I'd thank you.

4: Ever been told “it’s not you, it’s me”?
No.  It's always been ME.

5: Are you interested in anyone right now?
Nope.

6: What are you looking forward to in the next week?
Waking up every morning.

7: Do you want to be single/married/in a relationship?
After 30 years with one person it was quite an adjustment to suddenly be single. Now I wouldn't trade it for anything.

8: Have you pretended to like someone?
No. If I dislike someone it seems every pore in my body exudes that information. It's hard to hide.

9: Have you ever told somebody you loved them and not actually meant it?
I assume this is a reference to Romantic Love. No. I don't think there could ever be a valid reason for such cruelty.

BONUS QUESTION?
I don't remember.

Thanks to Sean at Just a Jeep Guy.

And so it goes.
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Transport, Translate, Transfuse.


The results of Tuesday's culinary challenges were quite satisfactory: Artichoke/rice/pasta/veggie salad. Cooked then chilled. Sliced olives and green onions added later. De-lish! Huge mess of braised short ribs with onions, garlic, celery and tomatoes was next. The aroma - O.M.G. I almost died and went to heaven.  I so miss a good mixed green salad, but that can't be helped.

I was pretty tired after all that so an early bedtime, following a hot shower was on my gay agenda. I slept well.

Deb and I hit the road Wednesday morning to drive to the hospital complex in Christiana. She had been there in the past, but wasn't sure of the way since the new highway construction made a confusing jumble of new ramps and changes to lane feeds. We found the campus with little trouble and hunted down the exact building housing the offices and the lab where I was to present myself for a full set of labs which would then be transferred to the Specialists upstairs.  Having noted the lay of the land - there are many restricted parking areas - we got our bearings and set off in search of a quiet lunch spot.

We had 1.5 hours to kill.  We ended up at the "Bugaboo Creek" steakhouse. It was open for lunch and there were few people around, which was a good thing. It appears to be part of a chain, but don't know where the other stores are. Um,
their mascot is the Moose!  I don't know why, but there it is.

Spent the afternoon/evening with the rather rotund Hematologist was brutal, straight-forward, and honest. His overt attempts to shock me didn't work for him, however.  That seemed to relax him somewhat. Copious amounts of blood drawn (I'm surprised I didn't require a transfusion then and there.) Another marrow biopsy needs to be scheduled,  continue taking the current meds, have a CBC done every week or 2, and be transfused as needed for the foreseeable future. 

Five hours later - A folder full of resources and the business cards for the hospital personnel working on my case was handed to me as I left, there's homework to do and 8 weeks to make a few important decisions. Attempts to translate the medical jargon into lay language makes my head hurt. I can't wait to see what more I find online.

Not ready to share more information right now (I would't know how to put it into words at this point;  At least the ball is rolling, who knows where.  Meanwhile I have to figure out how to make an income as I'm unable to work at my regular job.  It's pouring rain here today, so I plan to update the locos guys tomorrow, picking their brains about where to go from here.  Disability? Unemployment Insurance?

It's fascinating that the card for today is The Star. 

And so it goes.

It's Over! Lessons Learned?

I don't think so.

The delusional are still in denial, but the bullying has been smacked down. The whole world has been watching, shaking its head and saying WTF?  Thank you Mr. President for not caving in.



Now that the National (International?) embarrassment is coming to an end, lets make some tea, move on, and remember the bullies at election time, shall we.

More later
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Monday - Schmunday. Feh!


Is it Tuesday already - how time flies when you're wasting it! 

The dreaded first weekday came and went with little to show for it around here. There were a few items on the to-do list including bathroom cleaning, sorting and filing the latest medical paperwork,  a load (or 2) of laundry, a bit of large batch cooking to replenish the dwindling supplies in the freezer.

Dragged out the bucket & sponges,  labeled a few file folders, consolidated the laundry bags and supplies, sorted out the ingredients intended for each recipe, placing each group on the countertops, then promptly went to bed for an hour.  The folders remained empty, cleaning supplies were put away, the laundry supplies remain near the front door as low energy dogged me most of the day.

Aside from making a batch of Jello (don't laugh) there were no stirring insights from the culinary muses so I stared at the shiny steel day.   As I was about to abort the whole idea a thought crossed my tiny drug-rattled brain: if I put it all away the cooking will never get done. Now, how's that for genius thinking? That settled it.  Left them alone,worked around the obstacles as I prepared  supper, and vowed to get creative today.

Monday being a holiday and all, attempts to reach the SSA and Medicare offices were futile; though open with a skeleton staff, the phones were always busy.

Columbus Day isn't celebrated here. There were a few parades upstate in the bigger cities, but his tainted reputation in light of new historical data means he's pretty much shot his wad of popularity and credibility these days.

Drove to the restaurant to check in with the locos guys, but they had a staff meeting at the other restaurant and I didn't want to be out in public for 2 hours waiting for them. As it was, everyone wanted to hug me - and how could I refuse - I love hugs and relished the contact with people who cared about me.

As I drove home I thought how wonderful it would be to get this illness behind me and go back to work at the job I adore, with the people I love. Something to think about and work towards as I step into the medical unknown - again.

Spent a few hours learning more about how the MAC and the Safari Browser work. The daily challenge and fun at the same time. Haven't figured out how to transfer the address book from Chrome, yet.  Maybe today.

Opening Saturday's mail was the most excitement to be had all day, for in it was a massive envelope from the Hematologist with the proverbial questionnaires, statements of patients rights, and maps & directions to their offices - some 60 - 65 miles north of here.

It should be easy to find with my sidekick, Debbie, who's coming along.  Her company will be a blessing, making the boring drive go a lot faster. She wants to leave at 10 am, to enjoy a relaxing drive arriving in plenty of time to share a quiet lunch somewhere of her choosing.  The appointment is set for 2:30 pm - it's a 2 hour drive - so (if all goes as planned) we'll have the luxury of 2 hours to spare for whatever we want to do.

The giant Christiana Mall is a short distance from the hospital campus, where the medical offices are located, so Deb may want to show me around the joint.  I have never been there. Actually I haven't been to a shopping mall in about 10 years, and to tell the truth it hasn't been missed.

So far today, the pans and Dutch oven are on display; cutting boards are out. All ingredients are here, no need for a quick jaunt to the store; only a few vegetables to be chopped or sliced, so I may as well get to it.

And so it goes.
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Neptune's Moon, Naiad, Re-discovered, Invisible for Decades

I stumbled upon this article and fell in love with the image of Neptune itself. Once I read the story, I became more intrigued about Naiad's secrets.  If you're as curious as I, click through the links in this story to learn more.

A tiny, mysterious moon orbiting Neptune has been spotted for the first time in more than 20 years. 
By analyzing photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., have caught sight of Naiad, the innermost ofNeptune's moons. The 62-mile-wide (100 kilometers) moon has remained unseen since the cameras on NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft discovered it in 1989. 
Scientists recently tracked Naiad across a series of eight archival images taken by Hubble in December 2004 after using a different technique to help cancel out Neptune's glare. Neptune is 2 million times brighter than Naiad, so Naiad is difficult to see from Earth, SETI officials said. [See photos of Neptune, the mysterious blue planet
"Naiad has been an elusive target ever since Voyager left the Neptune system," SETI scientist Mark Showalter said in a statement. Showalter announced the new findings today (Oct. 8) during a session at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences, held in Denver. 
Now that scientists have spotted the small moon again, there are other mysteries to be solved. Naiad seems to have drifted off course: The new observations show that the moon is now ahead of its predicted path in orbit around Neptune, SETI officials said. 
Scientists expect that the new trajectory could have something to do with Naiad's interaction with one of Neptune's other moons that caused the innermost moon to speed up in its orbit. The exact cause of the moon's new orbit won't be known until researchers collect more data. 
"It is always exciting to find new results in old data," Showalter said. "We keep discovering new ways to push the limit of what information can be gleaned from Hubble's vast collection of planetary images." 
The same images taken by Hubble also helped Showalter and his colleagues find another small moon orbiting Neptune — a discovery they announced in July. The newfound moon, called S/2004 N 1, is much smaller than Naiad, at 12 miles (20 km) across, but it was easier to spot in the images because its orbit takes it farther from Neptune than Naiad's orbit takes it from the planet, SETI officials said.
More later.
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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Let it Rain. I've Got My Mac to Keep me Warm


Behold!  I am writing my first post on the new Mac MINI and I AM LOVING IT.  Set up would have been a beaucoup easy had I not second-guessed myself looking to make it more difficult. That's the Windows user in me talking. Nothing was ever easy with Windows.  

Aside from the Laptop, I am no longer a "Gates" Keeper.  

The Mac MINI is, well, mini - about 7 inches, - the DVD player - 5 inches - sits on top. Both are extremely quiet. 

The existing wireless keyboard and mouse work OK, but Mac shortcuts aren't available since there is no Command key. Those issues can be worked around for the time being.

Safari (the browser) is fine, so far. May switch back to Chrome at a later date.  The machine came with a limited word processor "TextEdit" installed, but I may look into purchasing "Pages" down the road as I learn my way around the new Operating System.  

I've discovered the Scan option on my all-in-one Laser printer/copier/scanner doesn't work with Mac. After an extensive search, it appears that this isn't an isolated problem. For some reason, there are no drivers available for the Scan program on a Mac. 

Checking various printer specs turns up compatibility with various versions of Windows, but for Mac "print" is the only option available.  Downloading and installing my existing printer driver was a snap, the Mac took care of it without a problem, but doesn't recognize the Scan option.

A specific search for all-in-one printers "for Mac" brought disappointing results. As far as I can tell, the only AIO printers compatible with Mac are Inkjet printers. Don't know why, really.  Laser printers are a bit more costly, but the consumables are cheaper in the long run and there is no danger of inks clogging or drying up.   Colour is unimportant; replacement cartridges are more costly than the printers themselves (honest) and have lower page output count. Laser cartridges are slightly more expensive but last much longer.  Inks tend to run when wet. Laser doesn't, because the toner is heat-bound to the paper.

Example: a highly rated Canon AIO inkjet printer is priced at $64.00 while the replacement ink set (B/W & Colour) is priced at around $50.00. Another major annoyance, there is only one colour cartridge which contains the yellow, magenta, and cyan inks, meaning that if you use one colour more than the others, you must replace the entire cartridge.  (Think of the St. James Bible, you know they say Jesus spoke in Red!) That's a huge waste of ink - and money. 

Going to stick with my laser printer; dust off and re-connect the flatbed scanner (purchased to copy the old slides) which will take up more space - not to mention more wires to contend with.  Bother!

With Amanda McBroom, Eva Cassidy, and Holly Near as background, I'll wyle away the hours on this rainy day discovering secrets of the Mini. 

So…if any of you Mac users have comments and/or suggestions, they would be appreciated.

And so it goes.
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Caturday Magnetism



Oh, if this could only happen...

More later.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

3 Steps Forward - 0 Steps Back


That is something practically unheard-of  around here, where it's usually 1 step forward - 2 steps back.  So, I'll take this good fortune, thank you very much.

Went to breakfast at our other restaurant in Lewes, DE. It was the first time I've seen my friends and co-workers in a month, and my first dine out since August. I requested a table far from any groups or families, they put me back in the corner, which made it easier for us to chat and catch up on what's been going on since my illness hit. It was great fun to talk with others - rather than to myself - and enjoy a really delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, home fries, biscuits, and a good cup of coffee.  Heavenly.

My appetite is good but I continue to lose weight.  Down another pound to 167' 2 days ago at the Dr.'s office. Frustrating!

Mailed a form to the SSA asking that they discontinue withholding Federal Tax from my monthly check.  I don't know when any action will be taken.  There is a big blue banner on the main page with disclaimers due to the Shutdown.  I don't know why, the SSA is a separate entity with it's own pool of funds - and there is a surplus of a few billion in the account. Scare tactics by the Repugs, more than likely. Anyway, we shall see.

Stopped by Dos Locos for a few minutes to see Linda (the GM) and other staff. There were gentle hugs all round, but no one wanted to stay too close for fear of passing on something that might cause infection. The human contact was something I've sorely missed.  (It made me think of the isolation PWAs had to endure back in the 80s when it was rare for anyone to touch, never mind hug, a person with AIDS - for very different reasons, of course. Now I know how that must have felt, and it isn't good.) While there I offered to give Linda my keys to the restaurant, but she refused.  I guess she's hoping I'll come back soon.  I am, too.  I miss my job terribly, honestly, I do.

Received a heads-up email this morning that the new Mac MINI, is out for delivery. "Signature Required" when it arrives. They will not leave an Apple package on the porch. Fine with me, it's raining buckets here and I wouldn't want the boxes to get wet.  The storm has been sitting off the coast, not going anywhere and continually hitting us with wind-driven heavy rains.

Later: The boxes have arrived and I can't wait to tear into them. They are very small, really. Mac users have told me how easy they are to set up, all one has to do is follow on-screen instructions and I'll be in business in no time. We'll see.  And yes, it gives me something to look forward to, as well as wake up some inactive brain cells rather than the passive ones that make up my daily routine. 

The hematologist's office finally called, there is an appointment set up for next Wednesday. Someone is lined up to drive with me (it's 60 miles north of here) in case I have a adverse reaction to tests or any drugs they give me.  At least those are two things less to worry about. Another biopsy in in my future, but not sure if they will do that during the first visit, or schedule it for another day. With my luck it will be the latter.  

Note: Today marks the 6th day without chills, headache, or a fever. May this good luck continue until I see the hematologist next week.

Now where is that box cutter?

And so it goes.
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Music Makes People Come Together

Now you know I am bored to tears.  I wish I could be out and about and among the living, but for now that's not an option. 

I have not done many of these before (although I enjoy reading the answers given by others) because I am usually too busy with work but, I have all this free time on my hands, so brace yourselves.


MUSIC MAKES THE PEOPLE COME TOGETHER 
1. How often and where do you listen to music?When I'm in the car, at the restaurant (we have Sirius there) but the contemporary stations play the same crap over and over, so depending on the customers, we'll put on House, Oldies, or Latino. It is a Mexican restaurant, after all.  At home there is always something playing in the background as I cook, clean, or just for company.
2. When was the last time you bought music in CD format?About 2 years ago. I bought a PUPPINI SISTERS Disc. 
3. Do you buy complete albums or just a song at a time? Is this different now because of iTunes? I haven't bought music in a long time. I have an iTunes acct., but haven't used it yet.
4. From who do you purchase your digital music?
See above. I am switching to Mac, and may begin collecting again. I have transferred a few fave CDs to the now dead PC and uploaded them to the iPod, KIndle and phone, but that's it for now
5. Do you listen to satellite or internet radio? How about Podcasts?
I have a few selected channels on Pandora and listen when I am in the mood. There is only one Podcast I listen to on a weekly basis.
 
6. What are your favorite kinds of music?
Theatre music, pop, Big Bands of the 30s & 40s, jazz, classical; pretty much anything except rap and hip-hop.
 
7. Today's music_____!
There are few new artists I can listen to, mostly because the storytelling (if any) and lyrics turn me off. (i.e. Katy Perry - "Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?")  I mean, WTF?
8. What music is you guilty pleasure?
No guilt, only pleasure. Depending on mood, either Mahler (sends my spirit

soaring) or The Pet Shop Boys (when in a happy dancing mood), if that makes sense. 
9. Have you heard a song recently that reminds you of someone?
No, fortunately I don't know anyone who feels like a plastic bag. Or any other  bag, for that matter.
BONUS   
Do you play music to set the mood? 
No, my mood sets the tone for the music to enhance it.
 
Once it's set, what do you play to keep the action moving?
I've never played music while indulging in bedroom calisthenics. It just gets in the way and can be very distracting. 
Well, there you have it. BTW, there is a storm raging outside right now and I am playing John Pizzarelli to lighten the dreary atmosphere of the day. Works for me.

Thanks Sean, I think.  Just a Jeep Guy!

And so it goes.
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Really Stupid (and Real) Traveler Complaints.

And you thought the Ugly American Tourists were the cream of the stupid crop as traveling goes. How wrong can one be? These are actual complaints to Thomas Cook Vacations in the UK. Clearly these folks don't get out much. 

Oh, and this post requires a "SPEW ALERT" - you have been warned.
A recent survey from Thomas Cook and ABTA reveals 20 of the most ridiculous complaints by holiday-makers made to their travel agent. 
1. "I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts." 
2. "It's lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time - this should be banned." 
3. "On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food at all." 
4. "We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels." 
5. A tourist at a top African Game Lodge over looking a water hole, who spotted a visibly aroused elephant, complained that the sight of this rampant beast ruined his honeymoon by making him feel "inadequate". 
6. A woman threatened to call police after claiming that she'd been locked in by staff. When in fact, she had mistaken the "do not disturb" sign on the back of the door as a warning to remain in the room. 
7. "The beach was too sandy." 
8. "We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure.Your brochure shows the sand as yellow but it was white." 
9. A guest at a Novotel in Australia complained his soup was too thick and strong. He was inadvertently slurping the gravy at the time. 
10. "Topless sunbathing on the beach should be banned. The holiday was ruined as my husband spent all day looking at other women." 
11. "We bought 'Ray-Ban' sunglasses for five Euros from a street trader, only to find out they were fake." 
12. "No-one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled." 
13. "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England it only took the Americans three hours to get home." 
14. "I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends' three-bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller.." 
15. "The brochure stated: 'No hairdressers at the accommodation’. We’re trainee hairdressers - will we be OK staying there?" 
16. "There are too many Spanish people. The receptionist speaks Spanish. The food is Spanish. Too many foreigners now live abroad." 
17. "We had to queue outside with no air conditioning." 
18. "It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel." 
19. "I was bitten by a mosquito, no-one said they could bite." 
20. "My fiancĂ© and I booked a twin-bedded room but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked."
As Sir Noel Coward wrote: 
Why do the wrong people travel, travel, travel, when the right  people stay back home?
What compulsion compels them, and who the Hell tells them
To drag their cans to Zanzibar, instead of sitting quietly in Omaha.
The gathering storm of stupid will either be our undoing, or give us more to be grateful for from here on out.
And so it goes.
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