Saturday, November 30, 2013

Do You Hear What I Hear?

No, it ain't no shepherd boy, little lamb, or mighty king, either. No, It would be silence.  

Jeremy called.  The cell phone, she is all but dead. Not worth the cost of repair (I bought it new at a 50% off sale price for $99. back in 2011 when I chose Virgin.  I think I got my money's worth. It seems to be planned, built-in obsolescence. I believe we can thank Henry Ford for that idea.

I am about to shop for a new phone and actually, I'm looking forward to a new learning experience; a lot of innovations have been introduced since 2010.  Yes, I know I have lots of time on my hands, and yes, I am bored to tears. Never mind.

Had a fun time at lunch with Ron (Retired in Delaware) at the Henlopen City Oyster House here in town.  This was a birthday gift 2 years in the making. Don't ask. We finally did it and that's what counts. I'm sure he'll have other pictures on his site. Ron tried the Henlopen City Burger (an unbelievable concoction with a mushroom & onion gruyere gratin, a tomato & bacon jam, and lettuce) which he seemed to like very much. I had the Oysters Rockefeller appetizer (see Ron's photo above, yes it is pilfered) and a Shrimp Po-Boy. Everything was delicious as always. 

Town was really hopping today, probably because it is the annual "Shop Local, Shop Small" day, which is usually a great boon for local businesses and holiday shoppers alike. That said, parking was at a premium and Ron (the dear) parked so far away I drove him back to his car after lunch. 

The gray sky, cold temps, and threat of rain did nothing to dampen my spirits. While a walk on the boardwalk would have been nice bonus, I must say it was great to be out (anywhere) in the fresh air and enjoy a fine meal and good company. The added bonus was the opportunity to watch Ron play with his new toy iPhone and show his newly acquired knowledge of many of its bells and whistles.  Fun to watch.  

May we never, never, ever grow up.

With that thought in mind, it is time for my own hunting expedition in search of a new phone.  I plan to stay with Virgin Mobile. The recent customer service I received made my mind up on that one. Besides, I prefer the no contract option of their "Beyond Talk" program.  For $35. per month I get unlimited text and data plus 300 anytime voice minutes.

Phones are always cheaper, or free with a signed 2 year contract.  So…Why no contract?  I don't like one-way contracts where one party is bound to the original terms of the agreement, but the other party is not.  It's not a contract when the rules can be changed at will. It's a game that's always rigged in favor of the other party.  Not to mention the monthly fees are obscene. OK, I mentioned it. 

Paying for the phone is more logical, as the low monthly fees pay for the new phone in less time without strings attached.  Virgin Mobile also offers free shipping and activation, so what's not to like for someone like me?

I'd consider buying the extended warranty this time round if I thought I might be around to need it.  But, nah!

Anyway, let's go shopping!  Wheeeeeeeee!

And so it goes.


Holland. 200 Years Young!

Happy Birthday, Holland!

Or, The Netherlands. 200 years old and more beautiful with each passing year.  The celebrations will go on from today, November 30, 2013 through November, 2015!  Now that's what I call a party. From friend, Peter (Tippin' the Scales):

"The Kingdom of the Netherlands started 200 years ago today. It was the day we got independence from France, with the landing of Prince Willem-Frederik of Orange-Nassau in Scheveningen [near The Hague]. We may have the oldest national anthem in the world, it was written between 1569 and 1572, but the foundation of the Kingdom started on November 30, 1813. It took, after getting a new Constitution,  till September 26, 1815 before Prince Willem-Frederik was inaugurated as king. Then this nation also concluded the Southern Netherlands, better known today as Belgium and Luxembourg but also the colonies of Indonesia, Surinam and New Guinea. Over the years they’ve all gone their own way."
 I fell in love with the country on the first visit. The history, land, people, creativity, science & technology, cheese, art & culture, simple way of life, windmills - must never forget windmills, all drew me in easily and effortlessly. Love at first sight.
Congratulations to the people of The Netherlands and to the rest of us, her ardent admirers. I hope to pay a last visit before the party is over. Go to Peter's place and read the rest.
More later.

Mr. Fix-It Caturday

If they ever do grow thumbs, game over. We are doomed, people.  Doomed, I say!

More later.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Dead Turkey Aftermath

Well, that holiday went quickly and quietly.  At least for me. Unable to reach the sister to offer good wishes - tried all day - so I suppose she was out with neighbors enjoying good food and fun times. She deserves all the good times and laughter she gets. 

Couldn't reach my carrier by phone yesterday, so I sent an email to support explaining the cell phone situation and the odd bit about missed calls and delayed text messages. I didn't expect much - it being a holiday, and all - but believe it or not, Tech. Rep. Jeremy called (I left the land line number in the message) just before I sat down to afternoon dinner. 

Jeremy entered all the particulars of the phone, then proceeded to spend the better part of an hour troubleshooting the problem.  All phones on the Virgin network - as those on Tracfone - contain locked, proprietary hardware, no open source or replaceable SIM cards.  I hope that makes sense.  

 He walked me through everything I had already done while he was somehow logged onto the line, or something like that. Then he put me on hold and poked around the innards by himself to explore what might be the problem. Anyway, nothing worked.

Meanwhile, I poured myself a festive Eggnog and waited.

He returned saying he thought the phone may be dying, but promised to check with their LG specialists today and get back to me. He warned not to get my hopes up and frankly, I was too tired (and hungry!) to expend that much energy, anyhow.  

I enjoyed a little warm étouffée with rice, cool shrimp remoulade, and a glass of wine.  First to touch my lips in 3 months and it knocked me out.  Not necessarily a bad thing. Had I stayed awake boredom would have seeped in and drowned my soul.

Thanksgiving?  Giving Thanks?

If I were to make a list of things to be thankful for this year it would be a short one, indeed. The negatives far outweigh the positives.

In the past when things looked bleak I could always be grateful for my good health. The world isn't so bad, if you have your health. Right?  Well, life has been looking pretty grim this year and it's attributable to  my poor health. 

Last I checked, I am in a kind of limbo adrift somewhere between a marrow transplant and acute Leukemia.  Take your pick.  Depends on who you listen to, and when.  

I hope Jeremy calls back this afternoon. I'm sure he will; he sounded like a 'see-it-through' kind of guy.  No matter the news I won't be upset. It's only a phone, f'chrissakes!  I'll just get a brand-y new phone, is all. It is what it is. 

Pity Party of One!  Your table is ready.

And so it goes.


Turgid Thursday

Perusing the headlines this morning from around the country, I had to chuckle and shake my head. The photos looked more like refugees fleeing the Nazis, or citizen stampede at ancient Roman festivals, than an American celebration of Thanksgiving.

"Never Again."

"A Nightmare!"

"Fights Break Out"

"No One Expected This"

"Store Security Overwhelmed"

"Merchandise Trampled, Destroyed"

"Inside Macy's Flagship on Thanksgiving Completely Insane"

(That last headline is by far the longest and deserves an award of its own.)
Main entrance is at the very back of this long line.

This is beyond all words.

Just one look at these pictures and you'll understand why that headline was so true. (Oh, and let me know if you spot anyone wearing even the hint of a smile, will you.) Store's like Macy's, real department stores, were designed for leisure shopping, intimate one-on-one communication with knowledgable  sales staff. Elegant displays grace small tables on end-aisles containing special, or featured items.They employ hundreds of sales personnel who, though not holding the "personal shopper" title, tend to do just that. Personal care was a Macy's hallmark. These stores were NOT designed for trampling hordes, at least not all at once.  Essentially, the civilized shopper.

The big box, and warehouse stores were laid out differently to attract the maximum traffic to a given area.  Rather than browsing and true shopping, they were designed for  grabbing, pole-vaulting, snatching, grenade-throwing, urban warfare. Frenzied monsters clutching a sale flyer who know what they're after and can spot their prey thanks to huge displays reaching to the ceiling. They will climb over dead bodies to get to them. Displays that will be decimated in less time than it takes to jingle a single holiday bell.

"Greed is good," and "I've got mine pal, f**k you" roll off the tongue like honey tinged with acid.

As many who lived in New York, I had the pleasure of working a single Christmas at Macy's and it turned out to be one of the grandest holiday seasons of my life. Unlike David Sedaris (I wasn't an elf), I worked in 3 different departments as needed and with the old-time dedicated staff who made Macy's - and other grande dame stores - the shopping experience to remember. 

At Christmas in the stock rooms and staff lounge there was food everywhere.  In the final days, the 23rd. and 24th, one might even be privy to a bit of spiked eggnog or bubbly in those same stock rooms.  

I was young, made oodles of money (there were tips involved for helpful helpers; assisting customers with their purchases to waiting cars or taxis, etc.), met some wonderful New York characters and had the time of my life. 

Back then, a Macy's Charge Card, (not a credit card - a story for another time - and long before MC or Visa) was like money in the bank. An outstanding credit history was necessary before one was issued in your name.  But when it was, the perks of a bona fide Macy's shopper kicked in and you were set for all manner of specials throughout the year.  For many years I was one of them.

These images make me sad.  So few people will ever experience what real holiday shopping was all about.  All they will know is written in the headlines above. And that is a tragic loss. 

The next door tenants noisily took to their cars last night around 11 pm, waking me from a deep sleep. They have just now returned at 5:45 am making even more noise as they rattle, giggle, tussle, and clomp up and down the stairs.  I guess their spree was  successful and no blood was spilt. .  They all sounded in high spirits - and a bit drunk.  Oh, don't get me started on that issue, too.

I need some cheering up.  A cup of eggnog and a little P.D. Q. Bach's "Throw the Yule Log on Uncle John!" (without punctuation) will fill the bill nicely.  

Cheers, and you're welcome!

And so it goes.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

No Thanks for Cell Phone or Surgeon

The rains have gone; the winds have not. There's been a 30' drop in temperature overnight and it isn't expected to get anywhere near yesterday's high. It looks as though the sun is going to appear sometime today, as well. 

Today's gay agenda was to include a stroll on the Boardwalk and some quiet time by the ocean, but it is far to cold and windy for that. 

That being the case, more videos are likely to be the order of the day. Last afternoon and evening, I watched a 3-part BBC series titled "Men of Rock" (no, not about musicians, silly!) about the geology of Scotland presented by Iain Stewart, Geologist.  Fascinating viewing with historic anecdotes. Prof. Stewart has a twinkle in his beautiful blue eyes and a great sense of humor. It was interesting and educational, although I knew much of the material covered.  It was the personal stories and history behind the discoveries that was captivating. At least for me. 

On a more serious note, there seems to be an intermittent problem with the cell phone. Although it is easily within hearing range it isn't receiving calls or text message alerts as they come in.  Instead, the calls go to voice mail and the text messages show up sometimes hours later.  (There is a time stamp on them, that's how I know.) Very strange. 

Of course this would happen on a holiday. My dazzling streak of good luck continues. I will wait a few hours and make an attempt to reach customer service at Virgin Mobile and see what they come up with.

I have tried to reboot, turned the unit off and back on again.  I have removed and re-installed the battery, too. Even replaced the battery, using the spare purchased for the NOLA trip.  Nothing.  

Checked the settings, nothing seems to have changed there.  At least nothing obvious, as far as I can tell. I am not tech-savvy, so nothing has changed from the original factory defaults. The Wi-Fi signal here is very strong, so I know that's not the problem either. 

The line is fine. I can still use Face Time without any problems. Perhaps a sacrifice of chargers from various devices to the Gods & Goddesses of electronics is in order. The phone is less than 3 years old. 

This is the 4th LG phone I've purchased, never had  problems in the past.  But this is the first Android/Smart Phone I've ever had.  Are these "smart-phones" programmed to go belly-up when the warranty period expires?  I wonder…

All I know is this situation will never do. I will need a reliable cell phone if (when) I am put in hospital for treatment, surgery, whatever. 

BTW, in case you're following this Cajun's Medical Misadventures, no call (land line phone) from the Christiana Surgeon's office yesterday, so I called them late in the day only to receive a voice message that the office was closed for the WEEKEND, and would reopen on Monday, December 2nd. 

Well, I must remember not to go off and die before Monday, or whenever they choose to get back to me. The local Oncologist's office reopens tomorrow, so if I need a transfusion, at least I can get that here.

More later.

Note: This is the first post using a new font and larger point size that seems to agree with Blogger. The editing limitations in Blogger offer only a few text options. Other than "normal",  which seems to be too small for some readers the larger options are all headers of one kind or another.  Way too big and exceedingly unattractive for my taste. So, I tried this option. 

If you find this easier on the eyes, you may try it for yourself. I like it because it's clean, crisp and easy to read. The font is available in even the simplest text programs and is very easy to size.

**Trebuchet MS font - 18 point.  Test for Blog posts.**

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Remembering Harvey: 35 Years

Hard to believe it has been so many years.

And so it goes.

For The Bird or The Bayou?

Thanksgiving 2013 bursts on the scene tomorrow. Whoopee, you say?  No, not around here. The holiday doesn't mean much when one is alone with no family or friends to share the goodies and good time. I could go to the restaurant for a traditional turkey dinner tomorrow, but with the large family crowds my mask and I would be forced to the back dining room alone, so there's no reason to bother with that. I can be just as alone here.

I am feeling better today, (slept 13 hours!) but the heavy rain is causing a great deal of arthritis pain in back and hands.  Yes, it's always something, isn't it?

An the spur of the moment, I took to the kitchen this morning to do some festive cooking of family comfort food favorites. Prepared a Remoulade for boiled shrimp, made an Étouffée for chicken and shrimp, now a pot of red beans with smoked sausage is simmering on the stove as I type. An artichoke heart with asparagus & onion salad is chilling, and a baguette is at the ready.  

Since there's a good chance of staying home tomorrow, I'll have a little sample of everything and just graze all day. Preparing/cooking dishes like these a day ahead of time gives all the flavors a chance to blend well.  

There are a few interesting BBC documentaries in the You Tube cue for today and tomorrow; The Story of Electricity, The History of Celtic Britain, and Men of Rock.  All multi-episode and recent productions. I'll not be bored. Well, not too bored. I am also on the hunt for films and books related to Paganism. No special reason.  A few fave bloggers practice (or dabble), make it sound interesting, so I thought I'd learn more for myself. 

If any readers have suggestions for reading materials on the subject for the curious, uninitiated, leaving a comment would be appreciated.  

There is a special birthday celebration at the restaurant on Sunday.  My wee Irish Lass and GM, Linda is hitting the big 5-0 mark. She didn't want any fuss, but the locosguys planned the party before she could make other plans and disappear that day.  They are sneaky that way - they've done it to me several times.  I am not one for birthday parties for myself, but going along with the fun isn't a bad thing at all. Especially when the locosguys pull out the stops. Embarrassing, maybe, but that's all in good fun. I have a special gift for her as a birthday and a "thank you" as well. It was she who drove me to and from the airport for the NOLA trip, giving up half of a precious day off to do so. She's volunteered to look after the apartment if (when) I go into hospital for treatment or surgery.  Whichever comes first.  She's a good Lass and one of a kind.

Then later next week Deb, my driver and sidekick to Christiana hospital celebrates her birthday. I thought about taking her out to lunch on her day off, which is always a fun thing to do in the off season.  Restaurants are usually quiet at lunch in the off-season, so that's a plus, too. A win-win all round. Just hope I feel up to the excitement.

Waiting to hear from the Christiana surgeon's office who told the local doctor he wanted to see me earlier than the scheduled appt. date of 12/17.  The office called yesterday at lunch time and told me they had an appointment open that afternoon - an hour later.  First off, I need a ride.  Second, I couldn't make that trip in an hour.  Seems they had no idea where I lived.

Listen people!  All relevant data (address, phone, prescribed drugs, recent medical updates) are in the database staring you in the face from the glowing screen on the desk in front of you.  I mean, where else did you get the phone number to call me, if not there?  Please read the f**king database before calling with an impossible suggestion or demand.  That. Is. All.


Attempted calls to the sister this week have been unsuccessful.  I'll try again tomorrow in the early morning - before she heads out with her contributions to the communal Thanksgiving meal in the apartment complex.  Maybe I'll get her then. 

BTW, not sure I've written this before, but the transplant rep, sent notice that the sister's screening results indicate that she is NOT a match for a marrow transplant.  I haven't told the sister yet.  She'll be disappointed - as am I.  My name has been added to the national donor registry, at least on a temporary basis. I have no idea what happens next. Really, I don't have a clue. 

Have plans to meet friend and blogger Ron (Retired in Delaware) for lunch on Saturday; a belated birthday gift for him, too. Although we chat via Face Time, email, and blog comments, we've not had the chance to break bread in a very long time.  Looking forward to that event. Only hope the health thing isn't cause for cancellation at the last minute. In any event, we're in touch.

Oh, I am a bad boy.  I bought Egg Nog made by the best local dairy around. Only a quart, but I'll wager it doesn't make it through the weekend.  Any takers?  Thought not.

If you celebrate the holiday, I hope the day is filled with joy, good food, family and friends and that all travels see you home safe and sound.  Cheers!

PS:  Is this site difficult to read?  Blogger offers few options. I don't want to go to a huge sub-header font, but I don't want the content hard on the eyes, either.  I've been experimenting with various fonts in the original texts, but Blogger seems to blow that all away when I publish.  Let me know, please.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Body Unhappy With Second Biopsy

Apparently my body's limited to one bone marrow biopsy, not 2. The first went smoothly with no residual pain or soreness. Not so this time round. The the first time there was no pain during the procedure - just the initial bee sting of the Lidocaine to numb the area - and no soreness when the anesthetic wore off. 

The second time round yesterday, again there was no pain during the procedure,  but the aftermath was disturbing and began almost immediately.  No matter how much pressure was applied to the incision site, the bleeding wouldn't stop. I am not on blood thinners, or even aspirin, which was their first question. There was no gusher, but the seeping was the ruination of the bed things and my underwear.

45 minutes later the bleeding had subsided due to constant, hands-on pressure by 3 nurses, and the doctor himself taking turns. A double bandage was applied JIC movement jiggled the area and started the whole mess over again before I could get home. 

When the Lidocaine wore off there was throbbing pain and soreness up and down the spine, left side and leg down to the ankle. Sleeping was difficult and sporadic.  Whenever I moved or turned over the pain returned and it took a while to get into a comfortable position once more. 

Called the Oncologist's office this morning and they wrote a scrip for a painkiller, which I had to pick up because narcotic prescriptions cannot be phoned or faxed in.  I heard the rain falling as I dressed; grabbed a rain slicker and headed to the car.

The storm coming up the coast after dumping snow and nastiness from Texas eastward, began as a moderately steady rain here. No wind, just the rain.  By the time I picked up the scrip and headed to the pharmacy the rain had become heavier and the wind had kicked up, too. 

While waiting for the prescription I thought it wise to pick up a few things JIC the storm gets really bad.  Snow isn't forecast, but this could turn into a Nor'easter in time for Thanksgiving and the weekend. Better to be prepared than caught up short.

It was a drenching downpour as I got to the car and even worse when I arrived at the apartment. The slicker had not been much of a success, from the waist up all was dry, but I was soaked from the waist down by the time I got indoors.  

Two painkillers later and I've begun to feel some relief. Also a bit drowsy so I may take to the bed again.  I thought about watching a movie today, but that's not going to happen now. There are no plans to go anywhere; here at home for the duration, so there will be plenty of opportunities later in the week. 

Is my life exciting, or what?  Well mostly Or, What. 

And so it goes!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Medical Hysteria - Relax, and Stand Down

(In my best Rod Serling voice) Imagine if you will, taking 3 days to regain strength after a weekend transfusion. Try! Nah, maybe you can't.  Wish I couldn't. 

Welcome to my own personal Twilight Zone. There is no way to structure this story coherently, but here goes.

Tuesday, 11/19: Mood is upbeat, able to take lung-filling deep breaths, enjoy a hearty appetite - even without functioning tastebuds - set for a routine appointment with the Oncologist.  Full Lab blood workup followed by an office visit is scheduled for Thursday morning. 

Feel well enough to meet a friend for a light lunch on Wednesday, but less than thrilled that the waitstaff sounds like their incubating nasty chest colds, even though they make an effort to hide their symptoms and obvious misery. Water w/lemon through a straw (I never do that) and mask removed only when drinking and eating.  Replacing it immediately after that.  It's hard to live like this.

Thursday morning the lab work went quickly and on time. I waited in the lobby for the results, as usual.  Ushered into an exam room a half hour later; waited another 15 minutes for the doctor to make an entrance.  And boy, did he ever make an entrance!

Sails into the room like Loretta Young, smock billowing behind, plops his scrawny ass on the stool, logs into the office system, then turns a serious grimace in my direction. This is an approximation of what followed: (please hold the applause until the end.)

"You're in deep trouble now. Your BC is way down again - 7.3 - and you were transfused only a week ago.  You are now dealing with a life & death scenario.  There are immature white blood cell "blasts" spilling into the blood stream.  You no longer need a bone marrow transplant, but Chemo.  You have slipped into acute Leukemia and you must get to Christiana Hospital immediately."

Make accusations much? OK, let me have some fun with this.  I was aching to interrupt but held my tongue.
"You're in deep trouble now." Sounds like a parent scolding a small child. 
"Your BC is way down again - 7.3." It has been lower and this sounds like I am to blame. 
"You are now dealing with a life & death scenario." This would be  L & D part 2 since August. and it's all my fault. 
"There are immature white blood cell BLASTS spilling into the blood stream." Who knew? Do they sound like Rice Crispies? Funny, I didn't hear anything. 
"You no longer need a bone marrow transplant, but Chemo." Wow!  That's a relief, wait, what?  Yeah, now I've done it! 
"You have slipped into acute Leukemia and you must get to Christiana Hospital immediately."  I knew I slipped on something, but…and hang on, it sounds like I did this on purpose just to piss you off. 
There, I feel better.  See how stupid this running of the mouth sounded to me?

As he rambles on and on, my questions are ignored, or answered in medical gibberish that I can't understand. (I mean, a BLAST, really?) This is deja vu all over again.  I remember the altercation with the other Oncologist a month ago who insisted that the appointment HE made for Christiana had to be kept - it was life & death back then, too - until I called him on it. He wasn't happy about that.  Caught in a lie never makes for a comfortable situation.

So, calmly and quietly I began asking more questions: What does this Chemo entail?  How long is the treatment regime? Has he run this new info past the surgeon already on my case in Christiana? Will this be in, or outpatient treatment? 

Treatment will take 4 to 6 weeks.  Inpatient for the duration. No, the surgeon hasn't been contacted yet. Just get up to the hospital ASAP. Directly to the ER!  You must go now.  IMMEDIATELY! If not sooner.

Again I explain that I will need time to pack a few things, secure a ride, find someone to look after the apartment, and get some cash.  I mean, 4 to 6 weeks!  WTF.  

He shows his frustration.  I show signs of the same and remind him of the last time his office cried Wolf! I suggested he touch base with the surgeon, work out the logistics (I am not going through an ER again!), while I dash home, make phone calls and a dismal attempt to pack those items I may need.  (What would I take along on a 4-week jaunt to nowhere???) After getting feedback from the surgeon, give me and we'll coordinate our efforts to satisfy everyone concerned.

He promised to call by noon and I should be ready to roll at any time thereafter. Of course, I wouldn't be.  Didn't intend to be. There was no way he was going to get approval from the surgeon without tangible results.  Besides, Thursday was a long surgery day for the Christiana physician so there would be no instant feedback. 

Back at home I made the calls and set up apartment care and transportation. Cleaned out the refrigerator, threw away leftovers and anything that would spoil. Turned off the ice maker, put all labelled keys and info sheets containing phone #s and email addresses into a large envelope.  Took out the garbage and recyclables, then filed all recent medical documents in separate folders.  

I found two small carry bags - one for underwear and toiletries and the other for electronics & accessories, related paperwork, writing pad and pens - and got down to sorting and packing.  Rejecting items after further thought about their usefulness over time. 

By this time it was afternoon - 12:30 pm - with no call from the doctor's office. I made lunch and waited.

And waited. And waited.

The call came in at 3 pm (so much for life & death). The surgeon had only just returned the call, wasn't satisfied with this doctor's diagnosis, wanted a previously requested 2nd. bone marrow biopsy (evidently, this request had been forgotten for the past month), the results of which to be sent directly to the surgeon from the local pathologist. None of this waiting for results from California, or Illinois anymore. 

So, just relax and stand down.  Meanwhile, I would need to be transfused again on Friday the 22nd., and new appointment for the biopsy on Monday, the 25th at 10 am.  So, relax and stand down!

Grateful not to be terrified enough to panic while arranging for coverage and transport. Extremely grateful not to be someone to believe word-for-word the doctor's diagnosis as absolute fact?  There are some people who still do. I don't want to imagine someone else on the receiving end of this kind of near hysteria.

I called off the posse, put away the bag of clothes, electronics & chargers and stored that bag as well. I was livid, but laughed in spite of myself. I almost poured myself a cocktail to calm down, but thought better of it.  If this happens again, however, all bets are off.  

Neither wine nor hard liquor has touched these parched lips in 2 months. Sigh!

Friday's transfusion went without a hitch.  Receiving only 1 unit meant I was out of there in 3 hours, instead of 9.  Spent most of yesterday in or near the bed. Not bouncing back quickly this time, either.

A call came in from the doctor's office reminding me that a new prescription for Naproxen was called in, can be picked up Sunday.  Not really.  The pharmacy isn't open on Sunday.  I have 2-day supply left, so no sweat there.  The scrip should have been called in Friday for Saturday pickup, but…  Never mind.  Oy!

Tomorrow the second biopsy will take place and we'll see where we go from there. I reminded the Oncologist of the holiday this week and not to get his hopes up for quick pathology reports.  He didn't listen.  Nothing new on that score.

You cannot make up this stuff, really you can't

There it is.  We're back to "One Step Forward - Two Steps Back" again. I am tired of this dance.

More later.

That Blogger Meme

Dr. Spo (the dear) created this meme.  For what they are worth, here are my thoughts on the subject.

From the desk (mind?) of Ur-Spo:

What you like most about being a blogger?
Writing about what interests me and impacts my life in some way. Sharing informational tidbits about our world. Receiving comments, suggestions from readers. Blogging has replaced journaling for me. 
How many bloggers have you met?
About 20 formally at the 2013 Bloggerpalooza, and 4 others who dined at the restaurant, but were too shy to introduce themselves. No way to recognize them since their profiles don't contain photos of themselves 
Do you ever go back and read your old entries?
Only if I am writing an update on a previous post and then only as a hot link to give the reader background info.
Do you share your job skills here?
I don't know about "job skills" per se, having experience in many disparate fields led me to the most recent position. (Life can do that to you.) I always loved working with the public and the restaurant gig was the best of the lot.
Have you changed your views about anything thanks to blogging?
Yes. Reading topics from the perspective of others has been an enlightening experience.  Rewarding, too. Most blogs I read while expressing an opinion, tend to be open-minded, willing to accept new ideas - other opinions.  I like that. 
Do your coworkers know about your blog?
Yes, but most aren't interested in the blog world. They're more into gossip, FaceBook and Twitter. Gossip isn't my thing.
What advice would you give for successful blogging?
I'm not sure "successful" is the right word. I don't make money from blogging - G*d knows, I'd starve, I'm not a writer - and I ruffle some feathers from time to time, but my opinions are my own and, as far as I know, no one has ever been physically injured by reading this space.
What is your opinion of aardvarks?
I love them. "Does Anybody Here Have an Aarkvark?" If you remember that song, you will also remember "WONDERAMA", in which case, enough said.
Do you publish everything you write ?
Much of what I write is on the spur of the moment.  Blood boiling in anger, disbelief, wonder, or happiness whirling around in my brain. I tend to write quickly, occasionally going back to correct and smooth out the rough places.  Usually re-read the piece once all the way through, then publish or chuck it.  I tend to write the way I talk. I write for me, anyway.
If you could make ‘three rules’ for blogging, what would they be?
1# All readers should leave a comment - agree, disagree, add an insight, or just to say "HI". (Note: I've had folks "follow" then "un-follow" and then "follow" me again. Jeez, comment, or make up your mind.)
2# Bloggers ought to be gentle with one another, supportive. Encouraging. It's a rough world out there and we all deal with it in our own, best way.
3# (I agree with Spo on this one) If a blog ‘goes private’ this should also be announced.  I dislike showing up suddenly to a ‘locked door  without being told ahead of time or at least offered an invite to come in.
Do people help you write your blog?
No.  Can't you tell? 
Who are your blogger super-heroes?
I read various blogs for various reasons. The personal blogs of those I met at Bloggerpalooza - and others; political blogs, news & Information blogs, LGBT blogs, humor blogs, history and science blogs. 
Final question (if you dare!) : Have you slept with any of your fellow bloggers?

No, but there are one or two that I'd like to snuggle with.  I mean, they're married. I am a Southern gentleman, after all.
Wanna buy a bridge?
And so it goes.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

More Than I Can Take - Caturday

Yes I know, Kitteh.  That's how I've felt since Thursday.

More later.

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK - Where Were You?

Those of us alive and aware of life in 1963 remember precisely where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of the assassination. I know I do.

I had been lounging on the beach in Acapulco, Mexico with friends.  (Before Cancun or Puerta Vallarta there was Acapulco.) Enjoying a well earned, long awaited holiday planned months earlier. We were all involved in the media business in some way or other; NY dailies like the NY Journal American (defunct), CBS, and the East Village Other (defunct), Museum of Modern Art.

Anyway, we enjoyed sunning, scuba diving, drinking, dancing, and no ringing phones or deadlines to break the spell. Friday was our last day together.  A few had flights back Friday night, but most of us were booked on flights Saturday or Sunday;  Determined to squeeze whatever sun and sand we could out of those final hours. 

We had a favorite luncheon waiter who took very good care of us; joking about politics in general and NY politics in particular.  A well informed, no nonsense kind of guy. We met  for lunch as usual at the hotel's outdoor restaurant facing the beach on Friday before noon. The usual snappy patter, political bantering and laughter followed as he related current events from the NY papers. 

Suddenly, in the middle of our meal the waiter appeared white-faced, 
looking grim. He blurted out, "the president has been shot and the governor of Texas has been killed." At  first we thought this was the opening line of one of his lengthy jokes/tirades about US policies, but as he stood rigid, frozen in his tracks, staring at us it became clear that something was wrong.

Resort Hotels back then didn't always offer TV in individual rooms - it wasn't that important when one was on holiday - we made our way to the lobby (the only TV sat on a high table in the corner of the room) to join other visitors already there, hands cupped over mouths, eyes glued to the flickering black & white images.

Some with tears in their eyes had already heard the story was now reversed. Connolly was wounded and Kennedy was dead. Few available phone lines - and fewer open long distance circuits - made it difficult to get through to NYC, but one of our group finally did.  She returned to us confirming the worst. She was a copy editor at the Journal American and her boss told her the borders were closed (at this point we didn't know this), but to get to the office as soon as she got back to NY. 

No one moved or spoke for a while and then, almost as one, everyone attempted to reach airlines to change flights to get back as soon as possible. However, all flights into and out of the country were grounded until further notice.  Borders closed! What were we thinking? Nothing, really.  It was an automatic reflex.  "Borders Closed" hadn't sunk in yet.

Stranded, helpless (not that we could have done anything), powerless, angry, but mostly in deep pain. The following days are a blur. We were like zombies moving through the hours and days. By the time airlines rebooked us, we were essentially on auto-pilot drifting along on cigarettes and booze, and running on empty.

The short hop from Acapulco to Mexico City was quick and painless. Mexicana Airways personnel were sympathetic, offering kind words in broken English as we departed. 

The flight from Mexico City to NYC was hushed, reverent. Back then of course,  there were no diversions like music or inflight movies. No one ate much, but we sure drank plenty (in those days everything was free) and Eastern Airlines spared no expense in that department. The flight was otherwise uneventful, we landed on time.

Idlewild (now JFK) was eerily quiet and ghostly. There was an unending queue of shuttle buses waiting to take arriving passengers to the city, Long Island, even Connecticut. There were no Skycaps. I just wanted to get my luggage and get safely home.  Why?  I didn't know. But it was important.

A few days later a couple of friends and I met at Penn Station, took an empty train to DC for the funeral. It was sunny, windy, and cold in DC, but we had to be there to see for ourselves. Even then, it was hard to believe it was all painfully real; the president was dead.  

Back in NYC the numbness, confusion, and too many unanswered questions lingered for a very long time. Some would say they linger even 50 years on.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Sagan-ful of Stars!

(In memory of Carl Sagan's oft-used phrase, "Billions and billions of stars" so billions = a "Sagan-ful" of stars.) 

This cluster of stars is known as Messier 15, and is located some 35 000 light-years away in the constellation of Pegasus (The Winged Horse). It is one of the oldest globular clusters known, with an age of around 12 billion years. 

Both very hot blue stars and cooler golden stars can be seen swarming together in the image, becoming more concentrated towards the cluster's bright centre. Messier 15 is one of the densest globular clusters known, with most of its mass concentrated at its core. As well as stars, Messier 15 was the first cluster known to host a planetary nebula, and it has been found to have a rare type of black hole at its centre. 

This new image is made up of observations from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys in the ultraviolet, infrared, and optical parts of the spectrum. 

(Click the image to embiggen.)

So beautiful. Makes everything else seem small and insignificant, doesn't it?

We are all made of 'star-stuff'…Carl Sagan (Cosmos)

And so it goes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back Then...

Original photos of the Art Deco Airport on the lakefront in New Orleans taken in the 1930s.

The subject of a recent post about it's restoration is HERE.

There will be more "Back Then" in the future. With no old photos of my own I may as well share those of others.

And so it goes.

"Show Your Joe" Oh, Tinkerbell!

If you remember how the K-Mart "Ship Your Pants" ad got the wingers' panties in a wad, just wait til you see what happens to them this time around.  Jingle Bells!  Jingle Balls! And, a bit of Twerk-it, baby!  I'm going to get me some Joe Boxer!

Ho-Ho-Ho.  And enjoy the season.

Made my day.

More later.

Dropping Like Flies

A local news brief:

Since being transfused (2 units) on Friday I've slept  12+ hours nightly and still feel listless. My limited experience has usually been that I feel my perky self by the second or third day but so far, this hasn't been the case.  I hope I snap back soon.

Pulled it together for an outing Sunday for a short time.  I made the trip early to avoid possible human interaction and infection. As you can see by the image at left, (click to embiggen) the fog was a thick, swirling soup.  Visibility was only about 15 meters. Judging by the number of accidents within the 3-mile radius the fog must have permeated the brains of drivers as well.  It remained foggy most of the day with the temperature rising steadily.

The rains came in the afternoon and the pattering sounds made me sleepy earlier than I would have liked. Gave in went to bed around 4:30 pm.  It's depressingly dark so early that I didn't mind it a bit. I mean, there was nothing else to do?

Woke at 5 am yesterday morning.  After a breakfast and coffee I headed out to attend to errands that could  only be done on a week day. It was gray and warmer still as I stumbled out to a wet, dripping car. Dew covered the trees and remaining leaves and gentle slap sounds were made as the droplets fell to the ground, or car surface.  Made me drowsy again. Jeez!  I just woke up. Bother! I shook it off and started the car.

Perhaps due to the quick-changes in weather, everywhere I went people were hacking, sniffling, and sneezing. Most not bothering to cover their faces.  Stoopid or rude - take your pick.  I was met with runny, red and watery eyes at every turn. Stopped at the ATM at the Credit Union in time to witness a guy sneeze directly onto the keypad, wipe his nose on his sleeve and smile as he shuffled out the door.  I covered my hand with a paper napkin, grabbed my cash and fled. Kept the mask in place, did what needed doing, and quickly returned to the hive apartment home and hearth.  Lit a couple of candles to cheer up the place  - and myself.

Received 2 more medical statements in the mail. They joined the others in the neat pile on the shelf. I'll deal with all that later. Much later!

A call from the State Resource worker came in to let me know that the document copies they requested had been received but that the birth certificate was not acceptable.  It would have to be, I told her, all other documents were destroyed in the floods following Katrina. If she needed proof that the certificate was real, I could bring in the original embossed copy I have used since 1979.  She'll get back to me. Uh-huh. 

Another call came in; this one from the Cancer Center asking about any negative reaction to the transfusion on Friday.  Nice of them to check on me.  I mentioned the Rip VanWinkle sleeping situation, but she wasn't concerned.  I'll see her on Thursday at my regular appointment. 

Enjoyed a supper of teriyaki wings, roasted new potatoes and green beans washed down with home-made iced tea, followed by a bowl of sherbet before a shower and bed. Not as early as previous days - a little after 7, actually.  

And here we are.  Today is another day.  Yes, well, ain't it just?  What new devilry awaits on this Ruby Tuesday?  One cannot even begin to guess, or wants to.

We'll be back after these messages.

And so it goes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wish I Felt Like Dancin'

Not to interfere with Anne Marie's Saturday Night Dance Party - I am posting this as my Sunday "Tea Dance" special. 

Here's a song from one of my favorite artists, Jimmy Somerville and Bronski Beat. It's from a live broadcast of  Britain's TOTP (Top of the Pops) TV show in 1984. They had just burst upon the music scene.  Jimmy would move on to form The Communards a few years later (I'll post a few clips from  those recordings at a later date.) 

Jimmy became an outspoken, unapologetic icon, especially on his later solo albums. I saw him perform at NYC Pride on the pier back in the 90s.  For you film and/or Virginia Woolf fans Jimmy performs in full Elizabethan dress in a cameo scene in the film "Orlando" on the Queen's barge as it floats up river in the early part of the film.

Here is Jimmy performing "Smalltown Boy" which was a huge hit in Europe and the US. It became a sort of Gay anthem that year as AIDS raged on both sides of the pond. 
I'm posting this because Jimmy is still singing his sweet little Falsetto head off in this song on tour this summer all over Europe. Which brings me to the next short video. In Berlin this year, a street musician on guitar leaning against a building is singing - - - Smalltown Boy.  When Jimmy (of all people) out walking his dog, stops to listen and sing along.  He even gives the musician a surprise hug when the guy asks "are you him?"  It's cute and powerful at the same time. I mean the song is 30 years old!  Think about that.  

Jimmy Somerville has covered songs by Donna Summer, Thelma Houston, Sylvester, The Bee Gees, and Gloria Gaynor to name a few biggies. His is a voice like no other. 

A little not-so-ancient history for your November Sunday.   You're Welcome.

More later.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Dokkodo

This arrived from an old friend in response to yesterday's post "If Wishes Were Fishes" and I find myself already practicing most of these. However, being French and a child of New Orleans, #13 isn't one.

The "Dokkōdō"  "The Way of Walking Alone" is a short work consists of either nineteen or twenty one precepts. "Dokkodo" expresses a stringent, honest, and ascetic view of life:
  1. Accept everything just the way it is.
  2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
  4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
  5. Be detached from desire your whole life.
  6. Do not regret what you have done.
  7. Never be jealous.
  8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
  9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
  10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
  11. In all things, have no preferences.
  12. Be indifferent to where you live.
  13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
  14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
  15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
  16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
  17. Do not fear death.
  18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
  19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
  20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
  21. Never stray from the way.
This reminds me of a speech from Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" that goes something like this: 
"We think too much and feel too little.
More than machinery we need humanity.
More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.
Without these qualities life will be violent and all will be lost."
I used to save (horde?) everything, but now I can cheer number 14. The precepts offer opportunities for thought and meditation. Perhaps take my mind off other, more overwhelming things on this rainy, otherwise miserable day.  Then again, maybe not.

All this and my card of the day (see the right side bar) just happens to be number 13 of the Major Arcana - DEATH!  It doesn't necessarily mean what you think it does.

I am not ready for my close-up yet, Mr. DeMille.

More later


Attack of the Zamioculcas!

If anyone reading this remembers the weekly "5 on the 5th" meme suggested by Stephen Chapman a few years back, where the challenge was to post 5 pictures taken during the first 5 days of the month on a topic suggested by Stephen.

You may, or may not remember this plant. It was the subject for one of those exercises. It was a much younger, smaller plant and the suggested subject that month was "NEW" (if you click the link you can see what the plant looked like only 2 years ago. I photo-documented the growth of new branches/leaves for the world to see.

It was very small - in a 6 inch pot when I purchased it for the new apartment in 2010.  It immediately liked the new environment and began to grow nicely.

Well, today that plant has grown to the point that it's taking over my bedroom. (See the image above and click to embiggen.) And since I am Neutropenic, I am not suppose to have live indoor house plants for health reasons.  I just can't bring myself to throw it away.  It is a beauty and as long as it remains happy and productive, it has a place in my home. It has been transplanted twice since I've had it.  It may need to be so again in the near future.  Yes, I'll protect myself by wearing the damned mask and sporting hospital gloves.

Anyhoo, I took this shot this morning having noticed the extreme growth for the first time. (Hey! I've been sick for a while, OK?) Just look at the size of the thing! Oh, and there are new shoots popping through the soil in the center even in the cooler weather.

And so it goes.
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