I appreciate that Starbucks is open on key holidays in the United States to serve those who don’t celebrate that holiday, but I really hope they don’t force any of their employees to work, and instead ask for volunteers.

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Inside Out.

In February 1996 my grandmother (Grandma Country) died of colon cancer. This wasn’t something the family talked about. Everyone thought she was going to be fine, even though sections of her colon had been removed and she was getting weaker every day. Cancer took her life on February 29, 1996. I had an opportunity to say good-bye the day before. As I laid by the makeshift hospital bed in the living room of that beautiful mid-century home, I thanked her for all she had done for me; much that no one else in the family knew about.

I bring this up because I have always been told that the risk of colon cancer can run in the family. My father mentioned this in his final years when he went for a colonoscopy. I never knew the results of his test and he died a few years later in an airplane crash. I had no familial data to determine whether colon cancer could be passed down the family line.

During my last yearly physical my doctor suggested that since I had turned 50 and because I had history of colon cancer in my family, I should schedule my first routine colonoscopy.

That took place today.

Being a bit worried about the experience and especially about the outcome, and being a geek through and through, I did a lot of reading about the procedure online. I visited several forums, read about experiences, read about outcomes, etc. A lot of the things talked about the same thing: the prep was worse than the actual procedure.

A week before my appointment I had to stop eating corn, seeds, and nuts. This made me a little insane as we went to the movies last Friday night and I couldn’t have popcorn. Popcorn is my favorite food. My mother raised us on soup and popcorn. Popcorn was an ever-present side dish. Steaks could be grilled on the patio and brought in for supper and there would be a bowl of popcorn on the table next to the grilled steaks. It’s what we did.

Three days before the procedure I had to stop eating high-fiber foods. The instructions said no fruits or vegetables, full stop.

The day before the procedure I moved to a liquid diet. Nothing red, nothing purple, and only liquid. I drank chicken broth for all three meals. I know green jello well. I drank 7-UP and apple juice. It wasn’t as bad as giving up popcorn and I could deal with it.

Last night began the final step of prep: drinking the gallon of lemon-lime “stuff” that would help me clean my bowels. The instructions were simple: eight glasses, each 10 minutes apart, until I was through half the gallon. Because Imperial Measurements are completely random, I thought that meant four glasses to get through 32 ounces in a half gallon. Ha ha! There’s 64 glasses in a half gallon because a gallon is 128 ounces. So much for that. But I dutifully drank all eight glasses, had my moments in the bathroom that don’t require a great amount of detail, and surprisingly I felt well enough to attend a showing of “The Book of Mormon” at the Oriental Theater with the family. The stories I had read online talked about bringing multiple laptops to the commode, screaming in pain, and writhing in agony, but I had none of these systems. A bunch of liquid came out, I wiped, I flushed. Relax on the couch for a few moments, rinse, and repeat.

I didn’t need to hit the washroom during intermission last night. The accounts online were way overrated. Probably to increase hit counts.

This morning I finished the gallon of lemon-lime stuff starting at 4:00 a.m., did the bathroom thing a few times and had time for an hour nap before heading to Northwestern Medical Center downtown. I was in the office on time and the doctor came in to visit shortly before I went into the procedure room. The worst part of the whole experience was the IV port in my arm and that wasn’t even that bad.

I told the nurse injecting the sedative into the port that I would remember her name and say nice things about her in my blog. I also warned her that I talked in my sleep and asked her not to hold anything against me. She giggled and I passed out; that was the last thing I remember.

I barely remember being in the recovery room, aside from Dr. Lee coming in and telling me that I had NO polyps in my colon. They had found nothing but a very clean colon. I had done the prep very well and I made it easy-peasy. “See you in 10 years”. Next thing I knew Earl was at my side smiling and then we were home.

There was lunch and some travel in between but I am definitely having gaps in my memory. The sedative lingered a bit; I slept a few hours and then all of a sudden things were back to normal.

Except I stopped worrying. I did a lot of worrying for nothing.

I don’t know if tendencies for colon cancer get passed along generational lines or not. Dr. Lee told me he wasn’t worried about that history. No one else in the family has signs of colon cancer (that I’m aware of).

I’m just happy I had a clean bill of health today. I’m occasionally told I’m full of crap. I have the pictures to prove that statement false.


BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE 1958 DIRECTED BY RICHARD QUINE Janice Rule, James Stewart and Kim Novak.

Per our annual holiday tradition, Earl and I watched “Bell, Book, and Candle” last night. The 1958 movie stars Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart. Kim plays Gillian Holroyd, a witch living in Greenwich Village. Jimmy is her human love interest. It’s a very bewitching movie and probably my favorite movie of all time.

I love watching movies from the mid 20th Century. Not only is the architecture and decor absolutely gorgeous, folks from that era knew how to dress for the occasion. In the movie, Shepherd and Merle meet up with Gillian at the Zodiac Club, an underground club. Live music is playing, people are drinking martinis and the like and Jimmy Stewart’s Shep is wearing a tux for the occasion. Janice Rule’s Merle is wearing a beautiful gown. Their style is impeccable. People knew how to look their best.

This morning during my walk I couldn’t help but notice the number of people getting on the train in sweatpants. I wondered if they were headed to work dressed that way or off to the gym. My workplace is now allowing shorts to be worn year ’round. I would never think to wear shorts to the office.

I used to be a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy but as I’ve grown older I’ve felt the need to dress nicer. I’d love to wear a tux again. Maybe the next time Earl and I go out for a swanky date night I’ll really dress up for the occasion.

I always feel my best when I’m dressed to be bewitching.

Cashless Restaurants.

Other than your friendly United attendant stating that he or she doesn’t accept cash, I was unaware of “cashless restaurants”, even here in the third largest city in the United States. Interesting concept, but I can see how it would create problems for those who use only cash.


Sometimes I look at Monday with a little bit of dread. I’m like most people in that regard, I suppose, because it means the weekend is over and it’s time to get to work. Who came up with the idea to work 1/3 of the day for over 2/3 of the week, anyway? I should read up on the history of that.

Today I was up at 6:00 a.m. and headed out for my morning walk. I try to walk two to three miles before starting the workday. On the days I skip my morning walk I’m a big lethargic during the day. On the other hand, if I get up at 6:00 a.m. after a restless night’s sleep, I’m lethargic as well. It’s a balancing act.

The walk worked today, as I found my balance, but only for most of the morning. Come lunch time I was tired. I snuck a power nap on the couch around lunch time and then I made it through the afternoon. I crossed off the requisite items on my To Do list at the end of the day, and more importantly, I achieved Inbox Zero nirvana, so there’s that.

I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks in Lincoln Square because I needed a change of view for a few moments. Some decorations are up on the street light poles, signaling the arrival of the Holiday Season (even though it’s not Thanksgiving yet). As long as I’m not being assaulted with Christmas music I’m good. I like the twinkling of the lights. They make me smile.

This Starbucks has indie sounding music playing. There is not sign of that Mariah Carey tune that gives me HTSD (Holiday Traumatic Stress Disorder). I wouldn’t mind if I never heard that song again.

Holiday spirit on a lively Monday or not, I’m not ready for crass commercialism.


I’m sitting here in my home office doing the Friday afternoon thing. I’m listening to ambient, fairly instrumental electronic music. I downloaded this mix from YouTube a couple of years ago and I have no idea what songs are actually playing in this mix. It’s 75 minutes of synthesizers, minimal vocals, and simple percussion effortlessly mixed together at 129 beats per minute. It’s the music I listen to when I’m concentrating for work. It helps me maintain focus, this break to write a blog entry non-withstanding.

My job is hectic. As the leader of a magnificent team of seven people, and a full-time software developer as well, there’s a lot of moving parts that I need to keep moving in the right direction. It can be a challenge at time, the biggest part of the challenge being that it feels like I never have enough time to get everything done. Keeping notes, lists, and other reminders in an organized fashion is key. I’m at the point where I can do my job on any type of computer. I would prefer to do my work on a Mac (choice 1) or a Linux based computer (choice 2), but the company I work for is firmly entrenched in Microsoft technology and so I work on this Dell laptop that has it’s own quirky personality. I can deal with it and I’ve learned to skip the stress related to idiosyncrasies such as rearranging all my windows when the screensaver comes on. I’ve spent hours trying to figure that quirk out and to this day a solution escapes me.

It’s been a week since our vacation and I’m still feeling remarkably centered and happy. Remembering to breathe and trying to keep the emotional responses to a minimum have been key. It’s something I’ve been working on since vacation and the results thus far have been content.

I’m three and a half years into working for this company and I’m the most content I’ve been in a long while. I’ve found my cadence, I feel like things are moving in the right direction, and I like what I do.

I’m going to do everything I can to keep moving in this direction, because it’s a fantastic feeling.


A friend recently posted this letter in a discussion about honesty. It was written by Amelia Earhart to, at the time, future husband George Putnam.

The honesty of Ms. Earhart’s words strike a chord within me. The world needs more of this honesty. I strive to be this honest.

Words To Think About.

From “Madam Secretary”, Season 5 Episode 1.

“…Your courage and determination have made humankind safer from the second-greatest threat it faces. What is an even greater threat than nuclear weapons? That which makes the use of them possible: hate. Specifically, the blind hatred one group or nation can have for another. That is why I am convinced that nationalism is the existential threat of our time.

“Now I want to be clear. Nationalism is not the same as patriotism. It’s a perversion of patriotism. Nationalism… promotes the idea that inclusion and diversity represent weakness, that the only way to succeed is to give blind allegiance to the supremacy of one race over all others. Nothing could be less American. Patriotism, on the other hand, is about building each other up and embracing our diversity as the source of our nation’s strength. “We the people” means all the people. America’s heroes didn’t die for race or region. They died for the ideals enshrined in our Constitution. Above all, freedom from tyranny, which requires our unwavering support of a free press; freedom of religion, all religions; the right to vote, and making sure nothing infringes on any of those rights, which belong to us all. Look where isolationism has gotten us in the past. Two world wars. Seventy million dead. Never again can we go back to those dark times when fear and hatred, like a contagion, infected the world. That, as much as ending the threat of nuclear war, is what today is about.

“And it is why we must never lose sight of our common humanity, our common values and our common decency. I was reminded recently of our nation’s founding motto, E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Thirteen disparate colonies became one country. One people. And today, we call on all Americans and people everywhere to reject the scourge of nationalism. Because governments can’t legislate tolerance or eradicate hate. That’s why each one of us has to find the beauty in our differences instead of the fear. Listen instead of reacting. Reach out instead of recoiling. It’s up to us. All of us. Thank you.”

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Earl and I are celebrating the 7th anniversary of our legal marriage. Of course, we’ve been together over 22 years, but the government didn’t recognize our marriage until 2011. In fact, 22 years ago today I got down on one knee on top of a mountain in the Adirondacks and proposed to Earl. He said yes. Our first wedding was in December 1996. The government didn’t come on board until seven years ago today. We were legally married at a casino. We figured getting married is a gamble.

I’ve heard of heterosexual couples going to church to learn how to be married. It’s my understanding that when a couple wants to get married in a particular church, they might have to go to that church to learn how to live in wedded bliss. I don’t know what goes on in these classes, as I’ve never really felt the need to watch instructional videos on how these things work, but the concept of needing to learn how to be married strikes me as kind of odd.

One of the beautiful things that I’ve experienced for the past 22 years is that Earl and I just naturally knew how to be a couple. Our union is unique. We do marriage our way. I don’t know that we would know this much happiness if we were instructed on how to be a couple or striving to follow some sort of cookbook that someone else wrote. Who really decides what a happy marriage looks like? It’s no one’s business other than our own as to how our marriage works, just like it’s none of my business as to how my parents’ or my grandparents’ marriages worked.

Earl and I have a couple of ground rules. We are always honest with one another, our commitment is fully invested until death do us part, and outside of death, exiting the relationship is not an option. And even at death, I’m sure the dead one will haunt the live one. It’s just the way we roll.

I’ve seen so many marriages end because of jealousy. Jealousy of looking at other people, or one more successful in their career, or another jealous of hobbies and passions that may not be shared. No one can make you jealous. Jealousy is an emotion that comes from within and 99% of the time it is fueled by insecurity. Know who you are, know why you’re in love, and be honest; that’s our secret. I’d never presume to tell you how to conduct your marriage, because as I mentioned before, it’s none of my business, but if people set aside their jealousy, I’m sure there’d be more successful marriages in the world.

Be Sensible.

Remember when milk came in a carton? It really makes sense, doesn’t it. A carton is completely biodegradable, it’s easier to ship square containers, and there’s a cleaner manufacturing process for a box.

I’m happy to see boxed water all over the city of Chicago. I hope it’s catching on in the rest of the world. We don’t need smart water, we need this water.