Thursday, September 28, 2006

Is There a Technician in the House?

Not much happening, these days. The steady dull routine of work has taken on a new dimension of boredom. As I had mentioned earlier, my current project is slowly coming to an end. This means that most of my focus lies in maintaining the level of current production while everyone transitions into some other aspect of the organization. This makes things relatively simple for those who know where they’re going. Most of my technicians are headed towards Apple laptop repair and have taken the test to enter training for that section. There was a week-long training class just to prepare for the exam. On one of the test days, I decided to take the exam, myself, just to see if I could pass it (and also to relate to those who were concerned about the exam content). It was one of those exams where some of the questions had more than one correct answer and you had to choose them all. I’m happy to report that I got an 86% - taking the exam “cold” with no preparation material or having attended the class. Not too shabby, since that score placed me at number 3 for the top scores (the other 2 highest scores were 90% and 92%). I cheated, though – I have an extensive background in computer hardware (not software – as my blog and website can attest to). Anyway, it was just an exercise on my part, since I’ll still remain in management, though I sometimes long for the peace of just me, a bench, a computer to work on and the stars to guide me (like in the “old days” of early PC repair). Enough with the management hassles, meetings, unpaid overtime, etc. – hand me that screwdriver! Ah well.
Last night, though, I had the opportunity to watch one of the “House MD” episodes that I had recorded on the DVR so nicely supplied by Dish Network. For those of you who have yet to catch this series, I would daresay that “House MD” is every bit as good as “24”, but way more cerebral. It almost plays like a mystery\morality exercise for physicians and various other healthcare professionals. Here, we have Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) – a brilliant diagnostic surgeon who has all the antisocial tendencies of a superlatively insightful and accurate healer. I use the term “healer” in the formalized hospital arena sense because the only spirituality present seems to be that which God presents to House in way of opportunities to expand his perceptions beyond the confines of his bitterness (he has a crippling and painful medical condition) and his own endless ego. The pacing is extremely well done and there are quite a few twist s and turns that, while based in cutting edge medical topics, are presented clearly enough not to lose those without a medical background. An amazing accomplishment. The writing is extraordinary. Imagine a child, for instance, with rectal bleeding that states he was abducted by aliens showing two different DNA patterns in his cellular structure. Now imagine that same child showing symptoms of medical issues that seemingly come and go with no observable pattern, at first. And what about that piece of metal lodged inside his neck that he claims is a tracking chip placed by the aliens? Now imagine trying to find a logical medical explanation for all this, while battling pain medication dependency and the possibility of becoming a cripple. That’s “House MD”. Check it out, if you get the chance.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Going Forward

Due to the persistant problems I'm having with Blogger - my new home will be on WordPress :
However, I'll still post to Blogger as a means of backup. (My site looks a lot better on WordPress, though).

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Good Cast Is Worth Repeating

It recently occurred to me that I never really give the supporting cast in my life enough recognition or credit for their never failing roles in providing inspiration to my asylum. Too often, I attribute my perceptions to things that happen in my life (change of job, illness, fortuitous circumstances, voodoo, etc.) without considering the influences that people have on my journey through this existence. So without further ado, I’d like to have everyone take a bow and introduce yourselves. Well, since they appear to be too shy, I’ll introduce them for you.

Estranged Wife (as played by Cheryl B.) – An intellectual with an amazing history spanning street corner evangelizing in the 70’s (while yours truly served in the Army) to an illustrious academic career leading to over a quarter century in the nursing profession. Now, once again, embarking on a business adventure (a successful one, at that), her ultimate goal is … Disney World! That – and a clean house.

Older Step- Daughter (as portrayed by Angela Y.) – One time pizza parlor\restaurant employee with a penchant for computer technology and possessor of various mechanical skills. She now assists her mother with the new Nurse Staffing Agency and is considering a liaison with her boyfriend (an amiable programmer and former potential candy company heir). Gravitating towards music with an unusual avant-garde\downbeat approach to life (see “Belle and Sebastian” or Morrissey), I’m reminded to “fold my hands” lest I be accused of walking like a peasant.

Younger Step-Daughter (as assessed by Rhiannon T.) – 12-year old daughter that looks to be about 14 (depending on your point of view). I’ve known her since she was four years old, therefore she ranks as the only “real” daughter that I have ever known. Very pretty, yet sensible – having inherited a small sense of cynicism from yours truly. This should assist her in understanding the many pitfalls awaiting, in the form of teenage males, as she encounters them in the years to come. Likes country music, hip-hop and rap – yet is learning to play the clarinet. Not much I can say about that. She will be the subject of my next novel for NaNoWriMo. She will either be a young vampire or a vampire slayer (her weapon of choice will most likely be the clarinet).

Granddaughter (portrayed by Kirsten W.) – eight-year old daughter of Angela. Calls me “Granddaddy” or “Grandfather”. I try not to show how disconcerting that is. I’ve known her since she was less than 4 weeks old and to her, I’m a constant in her universe. She has a strong sense of family and is currently studying Tae Kwon Do (which she solemnly states “must not be misused”). I’m assuming she means that she must refrain from killing any family members. One of her favorite DVDs: “Star Wars – The Holiday Special”. How could you not find that just adorable?

The Menagerie (background characters as played by…)
“Kitty” – Ancient cat kept alive with Little Caesars dog food and tanna leaves.

“McGhee” – The little poodle man. Will insanely guard a ball of lint for hours on end. That pretty much sums him up.

“Cocoa” – The Shih Tzu. Star of stage and screen. Must have all of the attention. Period.

“Dinah” – Apathetic calico nurse cat. (a non-speaking role)

“Sonya” – The Halloween Cat (black with orange highlights). Loving to the point of embarrassment. Along with McGhee, Cocoa, Kitty and Pup-Pup comprise my “posse”.

“Pup-Pup” (aka “Lady” aka “What? Another dog?!”) – Jet black miniature Schnauzer. Quite cute. Serves as a foil for Cocoa.

“Zandor” (as portrayed by Peter Lorre) – Insane shut-in cat. Beautiful Persian male who suffers from acute paranoid delusions. Briefly made it down the stairs after years of house arrest in Angela’s bedroom. Has since retired to the upstairs bathroom with occasional forays into the upstairs bedroom hallway for a random poop or two. His food needs to be brought to the upstairs bathroom lest he suffer a complete breakdown.

“The Rabbit” (as portrayed by the rabbit) – Makes up for any lack of cuteness by being unreasonably aggressive.

There you have it. The supporting actors of “Henry’s Asylum”. Please hold your applause till the end of our play.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The WordPress Experiment

Thank you Beckoning Chasm...

Get Your Red Hot Techs Over Here !

Today, I began the basic construction of my new\old website located at . I’ve decided to do a little bit each day since I’ve never had the time to mess with all the fancy html that everyone in the world but me seems to understand. Maybe, over a period of a few months, I’ll be able to master some of the basics (or at least learn how to steal code from those more talented than myself. I’m even considering some B-movie reviews (like we more of those – from me, no less). I spoke (via email) with Nathan over at Million Monkey Theater and he seems to have reached a temporary impasse regarding his completing more extensive reviews. Sounds similar to Ken Begg’s need for a vacation resulting in the much-missed current lack of updates on Jabootu. Ah well. The Agony Booth seems to be doing well, though.
Other than that, not much else going on, today. My own company ( ) is just starting out. It’s sort of an add-on to my wife’s pretty successful nurse staffing agency ( ). I’ll have to start making some room in my schedule in order to try to fit it in with my current career at Flextronics. Right now, it’s just the basics (tax ID, business license, etc.). At least I have office space that I sublet from Nursing Capital in downtown Olive Branch – so the overhead is cheap. It turns out the estranged wife is not so estranged, after all. That’s the amazing thing about life. You can find yourself walking on an Alaskan glacier one minute, enjoying the colorful tropical shores of Okinawa, the next – then end up hawking computer techs to various companies from an office in Olive Branch, Mississippi in the year 2006. If life were a rollercoaster, it would be banned by Six Flags and condemned by Disney World as “unsafe” (and their rides actually kill people). (note the two links)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Modern Love (sans Bowie)

I’ve been lamenting the loss of my combo VHS\DVD player for a few weeks, now. It stopped functioning in small pieces. Much like an elderly person slowly losing control of their faculties. The first thing it did was to refuse to read DVDs all the way through. This wasn’t too bad, since I could view my DVDs on my PC (which is a newer model with a decent LCD screen). But when the VHS player decided to take an extended holiday, that was just unacceptable. I have some tapes of obscure films that never made it to DVD release and I was not a happy camper. Especially since I’m cheap and my wife had informed me that the combo player was pretty expensive. However, I had failed to realize an important fact. The combo player was expensive when we first bought it, which was a few weeks just before the fall of the Roman Empire. Prices have changed, needless to say. I saw a good deal for about $70 on (highly recommended – they have great deals and $2 shipping across the board!). But, as it turned out, when I found myself at the local Wal-Mart Superstore, this past Saturday, I decided to check out what they had to offer. Sure enough, I found pretty much the same deal and loaded it into my shopping cart. However, something told me to turn around and take a look at the opposite shelving.

There sat my reason for praising the Modern Era. (not to mention marveling at how certain areas of technology will occasionally slip by me – affordable technology, that is – not the technology, itself). Here, we had the VHS\DVD combo units that allowed dubbing from VHS to DVD and visa-versa. Thus the clouds parted, the sun shone and the angels sang.
And YES, it wasn’t that expensive.

Once home, I was amazed at how user friendly the setup and user interfaces were. The first thing I did was to watch my “Castle of Blood” DVD. The one with the scenes removed for American audiences that appeared in their original French. Next up was the pièce de résistance. A VHS copy of “Return of Dracula” starring Francis Lederer with the original Chiller Theater intro (the newer one with the 6- fingered hand) that I effortlessly dubbed to a blank DVD. Life is good.

Yesterday, I decided to take the steps necessary to have my domain hosted at Host Monster, which seemed like a good deal. This was the first step in accomplishing two things. One was setting myself up on WordPress, which mentioned that I would have more options if I used my own site. The other is to actually set up my own personal website (like I had at one point in the dim recesses of the past). Who knows, a new adventure may await.

Next up – Has my domain transferred yet or do I have to come over there

Monday, September 18, 2006

Don't Forget the Fish Oil Capsules

Enough with the hospital, already. Suffice it to say that, besides the family, my other visitor was the Director of Production for my building, at work. Which was definitely a nice gesture. He’s a good guy who happens to be my immediate supervisor but who’s comfortable enough to talk to, so that he ended up visiting for about an hour with no awkward “forced hospital talk” that makes those kinds of visits so awkward. For example - “So, they got you in the hospital, eh? How’s the food? Hope you feel better. (long silence) Well. I know you need your rest (which never happens). I guess I better be running along. Bye. Hope you like the flowers. (Yeah, sure. Just what I needed for that funeral parlor ambience).
Suffice it to say, I was released and I’m doing better.
Although, I had to re-visit my eating habits. One good thing about the year 2006 is that there is an abundance of nutritional information right on the packages of food. Not only that, but there seems to be a plethora of pre-prepared, frozen, microwave-ready dinners that contain a sensible amount of fat and calories. They’re tricky, though. Finding the ones with enough food for an actual meal can be daunting. I tried a couple that would only qualify as a meal if you also ate the cardboard packaging that it came with. Even then, you’d still need dessert. So far, the “South Beach Diet” dinners fill me up the best. I’m not sure what the heck the “South Beach Diet” is all about (I’ll be looking I up right after this post). They should just call it “You Get Enough Food – But We’re Watching the Fat Content Diet”. Fine by me.
Hey, who says you don’t get pre-occupied with your health when you turn 50. I guess the next stop for my attention will be bowel city. Lord – I hope not…
Next up – How I fell in love with my new VHS\DVD player (Got it Saturday).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I've Had Better Vacations

The first three days of my hospital visit were spent in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit). This is similar to an obscure form of “friendly torture” practiced by the Monty Python version of the Spanish Inquisition. Everyone was very cordial as they proceeded to awaken me every hour on the hour for lab samples. Between the lack of sleep, food and Dilaudid cocktails, by the time I made it upstairs to my own room, I was certifiable. By now, I was feeling bold and negotiated a “clear liquid” diet consisting of broth and Jell-O (yay!). I also began to notice that the clock on the wall had these peculiar red lines running along it’s face like a miniature laser light show. Interesting. To add to the festivities, it appeared that I was being paid a visit by a small hoard of mechanical spiders that were checking in on me to see if I was OK. I didn’t recognize them as colleagues from work, so I assumed they were from some other reality. This actually helped a bit, since my sense of humor kept me from being too disturbed at this latest development. It was the voices on the other side of the wall that occupied my thoughts with more focused attention than anything else. This required some inspection on my part. After crawling out of bed and dragging my IV pole along with me, I made good time to the entertainment center that housed the TV. My reckoning was that the trip took less than a month. When I arrived, I noticed that I had been deceived. There was no door leading to the promised party on the other side of the wall (and here I had my heart set on some form of debauchery to while away the hours). Oh well, back to bed. This took the better part of several weeks to navigate since the IV tubes had taken on a life of their own and refused to cooperate. Fortunately, none of this was noticed by the hospital staff, thus I avoided any embarrassing restraints to keep me from my periodic sojourns. I still don’t understand how I managed all this and still didn’t miss my once-every-four-hours Dilaudid fix. I attribute this to my refusal to adhere to linear time. Things were looking up.
Next – a visitor! (human, this time).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

And Now a Word From Paddy Chayefsky

Well. That was an interesting adventure. It all started on Tuesday night, August 29th. I was feeling rather poorly with a sickening anticipation of a possible ulcer attack. This didn’t surprise me, since I had been under some unusually heavy stress on the job, as of late. But my diet didn’t really hint at an ulcer attack. But there it was, getting stronger every minute. Finally it reached a ridiculously painful point whereby I phoned the wife at her job (she was working as a nurse supervisor from 3PM –11PM) and casually mentioned that I might need a ride to the emergency room (or the local morgue, whichever was closer). She hurried on home and away we went.

Upon arrival, we were told that it might be a few hours before we were seen. This was the point when my wife went into full RN mode and demanded to see the nurse supervisor of that hospital (not the one where she had been working – this was more of a “country club” type establishment). My wife not only works as the occasional nurse supervisor, but runs her own nurse staffing agency – so you don’t want to mess with her. She’s all business. Needless to say, we were seen immediately. Good thing. First of all, it wasn’t an ulcer attack – it was a cyst on my pancreas causing acute pancreatitis. The kind associated with high cholesterol that accounts for 80% of the fatalities associated with pancreatitis. They took three blood samples and couldn’t get a reading of my electrolytes because, somehow, I was dehydrated and according to them, my blood was turning to “sludge”. That precipitated IV’s of saline given pronto since I was NPO (nothing by mouth – but I negotiated for some ice chips). Next up was a shot of morphine for the pain. Which worked about as well as a half of a St. Josephs Aspirin for Children tablet. So out came the Dilaudid. This was injected straight into my vein at the junction where the IV was inserted. This was followed by a phenergan chaser for possible nausea. Now, if you’re not familiar with Dilaudid, then consider this – it’s pretty much synthetic heroin about eight times as powerful as morphine. They ended up giving this to me every four hours (on the dot) for a period of five days! Next up – “Is that really a gang of spiders and why haven’t I been invited to that party on the other side of the wall?”

Friday, September 08, 2006

Down But Not Out

Unfortunately, I was hit with a serious case of pancreatitis, last Wednesday and just got out of the hospital early Thursday morning. More details on Monday.