Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Months with wings

At times, life seems to plod along. Then it's Friday and you wonder how the week passed so quickly, or how last month passed so quickly.  The season waxes and wanes and the days grow short.  It's that weekend to change the clocks, then it's dark when the workaday merry-go-round goes silent and still.

Your birthday passes, then hers, and his, and theirs too and then it's time to get up early on the weekends, teach a class, hug everyone in sight, try to stay well and to remember your lines.  It's Dickens Fair season with a vengeance.  Popups, and sleepovers, and cues, schedules and pocket watches.  Why don't my pants fit any more?  I suppose I really do have to re-sole these shoes.

Five weekends will blow passed in an instant, as viewed from the final evening anyway.  Enjoy every minute is the mantra.  It will be nearly January of my 54th year before I see my house in sunlight again.

Life, and months fly by on wings of memories.  Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

I was busy

Have you had periods where you got so busy that you stopped doing things you loved and you fell into a routine of just getting by on enough rest and enough leisure to stay sane.  So did I, for about the last three months or maybe a bit more.

The busy was from work where we (the company I work for) were in the final stages of a large (16,000 square feet) and expensive (past $1,000,000) first floor renovation and facility move.  Naturally, since I am the only one capable of this at work, I got to run the whole damn project for about 18 months and I had the responsibility of designing the space as well - down to the carpet colors and the locations of all the furniture.

It was a HUGE undertaking and as it was, along with my regular duties, an enormous load.

But now we're moved in.  The punchlist is complete.  The final billing reconciliation has been approved.  There is still organizing work to be done, but it's really truly done.  And it's quite impressive.  Come by for lunch and you can have a peek.

I hope to write more.

Except there is a similar project to re-fit the upstairs of the building.  And I'm in charge of that too.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Try as hard as you can

try as hard as you can

to make what you have last a lifetime
to make the best from everything available to you
to leave behind diamonds in your wake

move mountains for the ones you love
for the right reasons
to honor yourself

live each moment in truth to yourself
in glory
in peace

spare no chance to show your love
to serve those around you
to appreciate what you have

wake every day knowing that you are loved
and wanted
and needed

go to sleep with peaceful thought
with thankfulness
with confidence

your tomorrow is made today
your life is made in the present
take the greatest care in what you make

God is a meme

As you can see from the sidebar, I'm an atheist.  I have my thoughts on religion and the practice of religious thought, and they may not be what you think.  As they say, it's complicated.

A god is, as near as I can tell, a mental construct peculiar to people.  An organizing principle.  There doesn't appear to be any testable evidence of the physical presence (reality) of any gods.  On this point, my rational mind says, "There are no existing gods of any description, nor were there at any time in the past."  Now, I fully understand that a very substantial majority of people are quite certain that not only IS/ARE there a god(s), but that the god(s) they believe to exist is/are THE god(s) and that those other people are WRONG.

I don't begrudge the religious their beliefs.  Religion brings joy and solace to many.  It is an organizing method and a way of communicating and celebrating shared values that are often positive.  I do, however see it as an unfortunate reality that so many people allow their beliefs to function as a reason to wreak psychological havoc.

The organizations of religion trouble me the most.  The concentration of moral judgement in the hands of a few people who answer to no one is a fundamental flaw, in my view, especially when these people use their moral judgements to "justify" oppression, homicide, and endless war.

This situation will continue well past my demise. I accept it, but I regret what I regard as the colossal loss to humanity.

And tonight we rest quietly

At once, my mind is filled with so many thoughts.  It's always this way.  I have a thousand things on my mind at all times (OK, maybe just like 20 in the foreground) and they all seem simultaneously important and trivial.

What would jaw surgery entail, visually?
That friend of mine has foibles, but I ignore the foibles.
I need to start this project - where is the pattern?
I saw many friends today, I wish I was closer to them.
The children I know all seem to be growing up, but unevenly so.
Work is interesting and fantastically detailed - but mostly just to me.
I met someone today and failed to show much interest in them.  In retrospect it seems rude of me but I was just feeling shy.
I thought of a great porn title; The King's Peach
"She had a voice like a copper violin." (This ersatz Sam Spade quote dropped into my head, at random today.)


I could tell you so much but I have so little to say today.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Today's news reminds me that the world contains plenty of people that really fail to understand why we are here.  We aren't here to kill each other for some crazed reason.  We are here to help each other get though our lives, with as much happiness and success as each of us are able to muster.  Nothing more, nothing less.

To help you get an idea of the sorts of things you should be doing for the people of the planet have a look.  Maybe you should work on creating a way that people with failing kidneys can lead a more comfortable life, or maybe just live.

Or you could help recreate some of the technical marvels of the recent past that helped us imagine our proper place in the universe.

Or you could simply love something you do that brings people joy and pour your heart and soul into it, letting them see an up close view of a world that we long left behind.

Maybe you could create a musical work that speaks of a love that transcends space.

Killing each other, blowing people up, maiming people... That's not why we're here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

In which I lose my hearing

About two weeks ago, I awoke to a lot of pain in my ear.  I thought to myself, "That's very painful.  I'll call the doctor."  I called and waited for the nice doctor to suppose that I had an ear infection that followed along after the cold I was getting over.  "Take ibuprofen and call your primary in the morning."

At 7 AM sharp, I called and got an appointment for later in the day.  Sure enough, I have a middle ear infection, or Otitis Media.  I also had a load of icky, colored stuff in my outer ear - notably with plenty of black in it.  Got that all cleaned up.  Over to the pharmacy I go to get the antibiotics.  "This will be over soon." I think to myself as I go back to work and take a big pill.

The ear still hurts, though not as much.  Nighttime, another pill. Morning, another one.  48 hours later, all symptoms are about the same.  Back to the primary, except he's out so I see a different fellow.

Another exam and a different antibiotic, and some drops that contain a steroid to help reduce the inflammation.  This was taking advantage of the perforation (hole) in the tympanic membrane, which was news to me.
At this point, we need a diagram.

Remember that the outer ear is open to the air, and the middle is open to your throat via the Eustachean tube, and the middle is filled with fluid inside the cochlea.  Tiny hairs inside the cochlea and semicircular canals are connected to nerves that tell the brain which way the head is positioned, whether it's moving and in what direction, and whether the stapes is vibrating against the little window (covered by a delicate membrane) that separates the inside of the cochlea from the middle ear.  That vibration, is the result of the ear drum (the tympanic membrane) pressing on the malleus bone, which pivots where it's attached and presses on the incus bone which pivots, and then presses on the stapes bone, which is connected to the incus by a tiny bit of cartilage.

That's how it works in a healthy ear.  In my ear - remember, this blog is all about me - the middle ear is inflamed and filled with goo (I imagine) that dampens the vibration of the tympanic membrane and the three wee bones.

Now 72 hours after I started the second antibiotic and kept instilling those drops, I was sure I should have been lots better.


It's Monday morning.  Still in a fair amount of pain, hearing getting poor on that side.  So I called the primary and they got me a referral to the ENT, or Ear Nose & Throat specialist, though when you get to the office it's called Ontology.  So the doctor takes one look in my ear and says, "You have a bad fungal infection." (Remember that black stuff?)  The doctor whizzes out my ear with holy water or something and a teeny tiny vacuum.  Now I can hear better!

"I'm going to apply this antifungal cream." GLOOOP, and now my ear is full of cream with fungicide and my hearing goes to about zero percent in that ear.  "Come back on Friday." He says in my good ear, and then he puts a cotton ball into what's left of the outer ear canal.  Now all I can hear when I speak is my voice conducted though my skull in that ear, and it getting normally to the other ear.  It's weird and disorienting.

Back at work I have a week filled with meetings, troubleshooting of problems with a completely out of control product line that I inherited from a recently terminated manager, and a million-dollar building expansion project.  I can't hear normally, what I can hear is distorted and confusing, and the continuation of the second course of antibiotics gives me tummy trouble and makes me itch badly enough to seek over-the-phone doctor advice and take Benadryl, which knocks me the fuck out.

Friday comes.  All week I have waited for the return visit to the Ontological doctor who filled my ear with goop.  I think the goop is all still there and continuing to cause my temporary half-deafness.  At 4 on Friday relief will come and I will be able to hear again!


The good doctor looks in my ear and tells me that MOST of the fungus is gone and he's going to clean up the rest.  The teeny tiny vacuum is once again employed for a vigorous Hoovering of the outer ear.  More inspection with a magnifier... "You still have a perforation."  and "I'm sorry to make you deaf again."  GLOOOOP.  This should all be normal again by Monday.  Not so bad, I can take it easy this weekend.

About 10 PM, my ear is hurting a lot and I decide it's time to sleep it off.  Fitfully, I make it through the night.  I'm miserable.  My ear seems to be DRAINING stuff.  Not to be too gross (thanks for reading this far) but it's pink and tan.  I call up the doctor's answering service so they can call me back.  (I've lost count by now.)  I talk to a doctor after some time.  I'm asked to go to Urgent Care because it's Saturday.

The doctor (this is the fourth I've seen in person) looks closely at my ear, hears my whole saga, apologizes a lot, goes off to talk to the Head Ontologist via phone, and returns to explain.  She calls me a gentleman in the second person.  Thanks.

Apparently, I still have a middle ear infection.  I have a third round of antibiotics (day 2 of at least 5).  Yesterday and this morning, it was still draining through the perforation in the eardrum. DRIP.  Yummy.  Tonight, it's stopped doing that, but the hearing is still way off in that ear.

I've always had good hearing, at least until last week.  I never really experienced what it's like to not really be able to hear.  It's disorienting, confusing, and humbling.  I feel isolated and embarrassed that I can't really hear.  I never understood what the hearing impaired go through.  Now I do; at least a little.

In a few days this will all clear up.  I won't soon forget it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Our kitchen range (that would be "stove" for people who don't live in woodburning land) got old and we had to put it out to pasture.  In it's place there is a shiny convection-oven five-burner thingy.  There was some obligatory grumbling due to the gas inlet location but after a bit of impassioned male grunting I got it installed.  Now we can bake bacon in about 1/2 the time.  That's hot.

Our house is well past voting age and there is a pipe that runs about 60 feet from the garage to where the main drain plumbing assembly is back near the bathrooms.  This 2" pipe ends at about 18" up and takes a turn down and enters the rest of the drain.  I know the rest of you with an engineering background are starting to think about slope and flow rate... Let me assure you that there is too little of both for anything more than plain water.  Any wee scraps of food or lint from the washer turn to cement in the line and it stops draining.  It likes to do this every couple of months.

Usually these backups happen when we have guests, or when it's late at night, or cold, or whenever it's most inconvenient.  Being as handy as I am, I have always resolved the issue myself.  Let me assure you (once again) gentle readers that this is uniformly a Very Icky(TM) process with the junk that comes out of the pipe.  It does not lift ones soul.

So this last time, after making a horrible smelly mess for two hours and not resolving the problem, I called in a professional.  Actually I called two of them.  The first one to come and unclog the drain (which was done rapidly and without a mess for well under a C note), and the second to give me an estimate on replacing the 63 year old pipe that doesn't slope enough with a slick new one that is pitched more.  We'll hear on Monday or so how much they'll want for that.  Don't tell them in advance that I'm pretty much gonna pay whatever they want.

On the way back from buying the stove, Sharon and I saw a fellow dressed in a white suit, with white shoes, carrying a white briefcase, wearing five-foot long angel wings - feathers and everything - just walking down the sidewalk in Belmont as if he was on the way to the drugstore or something.  We asked each other if we had really seen that, then wondered if it was worth turning around for to take a picture.  It almost was.