September 2004


The final sign of the impending apocolypse showed itself today in one of my famous epiphanies. Yes, yes, yes, Florida is slowly getting wiped out by hurricanes. California is shaking from earthquakes. Mount St. Helens is ready to blow her top again. Bush Lite is ahead in some polls.

Do I consider these signs of an impending apocolypse? Possibly. But the real sign?

I’ve turned into the Happy Homemaker.

I now officially enjoy cooking dinner, folding laundry, sweeping the floor, cleaning out the cat box and kicking my back foot up in the air when Earl kisses me on the cheek after a hard day at the office. A year ago I relished the chaos, fast food and dust bunnies surrounding my life.

Today I reheated a casserole for my sister. I think I even said ‘casserole’ with a Wisconsin accent and then asked for a recipe.

Hold on tight, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Man On A Mission.

If you’re not a geek, you may find this entry boring. Tough.

I’m a man on a mission. It’s a totally hedonistic mission, but nevertheless, it’s a mission.

Earl and I subscribed to DirecTV in late August after becoming increasingly bored with our cable service. For those not familiar with DirecTV, it’s television programming provided via satellite rather than cable or good ol’ “rabbit ears”. Through the always questionable wisdom of our federal government, Earl and I can not receive network channels (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) via DirecTV because we can allegedly receive the signal over the air. Apparently they want us to watch local commercials. Granted, it’s ‘vo-tech television’ at its best with no high-definition nor digital signal, the production is crappy, the picture is full of snow and the newscasters are somewhat stumbling fools from time to time, but nevertheless, if we can make out their alarmingly large foreheads amongst the static on the screen, then we don’t qualify for the feed from DirecTV. One can apply for a ‘waiver’ from the local station which grants us the permission to see the network feeds from N.Y. and LA, which the local CBS (WTVH – a great station that I grew up with)affiliate promptly did. So now we have CBS in glorious high definition and we are loving every minute of it.

But then WKTV, the local NBC affiliate, denied us the same privilege, even though NBC is available in high-definition over DirecTV and NOT via the local channel. I guess they think they can force us to watch their crappy commercials. But I refuse to put up an antenna on the roof and I refuse to install rabbit ears on our television. I won’t even wrap a coat hanger in tin foil and hide it behind the entertainment center. So we’re not watching any NBC shows at all. Which is probably a good thing now that I think about it. I wrote a somewhat nasty note to the station manager regarding our dilemna and copied the NBC national office, but I doubt it will get results. What I’m really surprised about is that I’m actually putting in all this effort to watch “Will and Grace” and “The West Wing” in their very apparent declining years. Nevertheless, it’s a challenge and I enjoy hounding people that think they hold power over me. I like to see them break I guess. Maybe I just like getting my way. Wow, maybe I do need to spend some time in therapy to discuss that little nugget.

The jury is still out on the local ABC and Fox stations, which are both owned by the same company. They stopped broadcasting digitally and high-def because apparently it wasn’t catching on, what with it being the digital age and all. But I wrote them a nice letter and hope to hear a nice response. If not, they shall feel my wrath.

Trusting My Instincts.

To some this may sound crazy, but since I’ve changed jobs in the past month, I’ve felt much more “in tune” with my instinct. I like to think that I’m becoming psychic and I will soon be joining the ranks of Sylvia Browne and John Edward or, at the very least, make a killing with some poor, unsuspecting fools at the State Fair next year, but whatever the reason, I seem to be more sensitive to others feelings and little ‘hints’ from the universe.

Now if I would learn to read the signs better! Last night, Earl and I went to local Casino to drop off a chunk of change under the guise of entertainment. I really like going to the casino as I get caught up in all the fun and excitement… bells and chimes on fake-slot machines*, the spinning roulette tables, the visitors from New Jersey (why don’t they stay in Atlantic City) and of course the promise of walking out at the end of the night fanning myself with my millions.

I approached the evening with a new strategy. An avid roulette player, I usually go to the $10 table and plop my chips down on my usual numbers… my birthday, Earl’s birthday, our anniversary (obvious reasons), Earl’s mother Claire’s birthday (she’s passed on and she must be smiling on us as her numbers always win), and my mother’s birthday (I feel guilty if I don’t use her birthday). Last night I did it differently, putting a chip each on Claire’s birthday and then basically tossing the remaining chips on the board and letting them land where they land. Twenty minutes later, I was near broke. I started to feel a faint, warm, nervous feeling in my gut, so I tried to listen to whatever the universe was trying to tell me and did something different. For the last spin, I put three chips on Claire’s birthday and then tossed the remaining chips. Claire’s number hit. Up $105. Yay! Knowing a good thing, I cashed in and moved on.

Which brought me to the money wheel. Again, I played around with my $1 chips and built up my winning $20 or so. When I play the money wheel, I always play $2 per spin – one on the $1 (since it’s a 50-50 shot that’s going to win) and the $1 on something else, usually $20 but once in a while the joker. Then the I started feeling the nervous feeling in my gut again, the same psychic, instinctive “knowing” I had felt at the roulette table. So I took a chance again, and placed the $100 chip I had won on the $1 bill. After all, it was a 50-50 chance that $1 would hit and I could easily double my $100. Everyone else at the table gasped at my balls. That was a nice feeling.

The $1 hit and I doubled my $100. I was on a winning streak. I still felt my instincts, though the feeling was not as strong. I decided to leave the $200 on the table and hit the $1 again. After all, the universe helped me before. It worked the past two times. The feeling, though not as strong this time, was there. The dealer spun the wheel and landed on $1, then plopped over to $2, ever so slowly.

The psychic feeling, which I now recognize as just ‘subsiding’ or “no no no no no”, turned to a ‘sick feeling’. I blew $200 in one spin. Another gasp at the table, this was had a “you asshole” tone to it.

I walked away with $15.

Figuring I couldn’t be smacked by the fates again, I headed for a roulette table. I put the whole $15 (whoo – big spender) on 17, even though my head SCREAMED “double zero, double zero, double zero, double zero, double zero”. But Mr. Logic jumped in and said “Please note that this dealer hasn’t spun a double zero all night. There is no double zero on the results board.” Mr. Psychic continued to scream “double zero, double zero, double zero, double zero”. I went with “17”.

Double Zero came up. At least Mr. Psychic didn’t say “told you so”.

I walked out of the casino empty handed. Luckily Earl did very well and won back what I lost.

So tonight, when the moon is out, I’m going to do a meditation and ask for a little clarification on this newfound psychic / instinct thing I’ve got going on.

* Our local casino’s fake slot machines don’t use real coins. When the casino was built (the first in New York State), slot machines were illegal. They use ATM style cards that you put money on with a cashier in the casino. There’s no lever to pull and it’s all electronic. No mechanical wheels spinning. All video terminals. It’s all I used to play. I even hit the jackpot once. But being the geek that I am, I know how easily they can be manipulated and I lost easily on those.


After taking an unexpected week off from work last week, I’ve been slowly getting my feet back under me at my new job. I was going along great guns for the three and a half weeks before my sister’s hospital stay, but because I’m still very new at my job, it took me a little while on Monday to remember how to perform some of my new responsibilities.

Nevertheless, I’ve been slowly getting back into the swing of things and I’m starting to feel productive again. It hit me yesterday afternoon what part of the problem is. (I like to think of these realizations as mini-epiphanies, but Earl thinks I’m being overly dramatic, which I probably am). I’m worrying about what people think of me again. Granted, I should keep in mind what my supervisor thinks of my job performance, especially with his being in charge of the group and all, but I was starting to feel self conscious about asking too many questions, appearing too stupid for the position, yada yada yada. I was beginning every question with “I’m sorry to have to ask this, but…” But then I realized, I’m new at the job! If they didn’t feel that I could do the job, they wouldn’t have hired me. If they didn’t feel that I was going to make it, they wouldn’t have offered me an advance of my benefit time (which I’m not eligible for until November) to cover last week’s absence!

So this morning I went in with a little more confidence. I’m confident that I’m going to learn all the nuances of my new position. I’m confident that I am going to be a productive member of the group. I’m confident that my stay with the company is going to be a long, happy one. You know what? It made my day that much better. I feel like I learned more. I feel like I contributed more. I felt more productive.

There’s one more thing I’m confident about. I’ll probably blab about this in my blog sometime in the future.

My sister was released from the hospital today and is resting comfortably at home. She’s on four different types of medicine, including antibiotics, something for her blood and something else equally pharmacutical. She seems to be doing well, but she’s going to be off her feet for a while. Thank you for all the kind words.

One more thing – for those that use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and it’s derivitives, you can subscribe to my blog at or click the link at the bottom of the page.

Work In Progress.

As I glance back through old blog entries from time to time, I noticed I have one common theme. I’m constantly trying to improve myself. It’s not that I’m unhappy with myself, because if I do say so, I’m pretty hot shit. Since I’m constantly talking to myself, I know that I enjoy my company. Since I’m so vain, I know that I’m pretty fierce looking. (Wait until you see my new trim goatee).

No, self-appreciation is not an issue. It’s just that I think I can do better. I’m always reaching higher and higher on the Christmas Tree for the better goodie. I want to be smarter. I want to experience everything the world has to offer. I want to be a good citizen. I want to contribute to society more. I just feel like I can do more, see more and BE more.

I occasionally watch “Absolutely Fabulous” on BBC America. Edina is constantly trying to better herself, albeit in very odd fashion, but nevertheless, she is always on a path of self improvement. I kind of like that. I don’t know if one can admire a drug-taking, booze-indulging television character that’s a pure work of fiction, but I kind of like what she has going on in that she’s always trying to go for better. Sure, her path has numerous detours (the show wouldn’t be funny if it didn’t), but at least she’s trying.

My sister’s recent brush with death was sort of a wake up call for me. Am I meant to be the technology professional I am? Should I be in health care? Am I really helping others? Am I a good person? Am I a good brother or son?

I guess the answer is yes. Everyone has a purpose in life. Even evil, dark, negative people have a purpose in life, so that others can learn from experiencing interaction with them.

I’ve decided that my purpose is to be the most positive, uplifting, “good guy” person that I can be, regardless of what I’m doing or where I’m doing it. That’s what I should strive for. Sure, life throws everyone curve balls, but it doesn’t mean that you need to throw the bat on the ground, stomp off the field and crawl into bed with the blankets over your head. And it doesn’t mean that you spit in the other team’s face.

I guess I have to remember all this once in a while. After all, life is just a work in progress. If the project was done, you’d be dead.

Charmed, I’m Sure

I have to get something off my chest. I’ve become addicted to the television show “Charmed”. I know it’s the Bewitched nut in me getting all mixed up with my Xena obsession, but I’m really grooving on “Charmed”. The whole mystical/wicca/supernatural realm is just my thing. I just wish it would come out on DVD so I could catch up with it faster! At least we have TiVo!

My sister is doing very well and could be released from the hospital as early as Thursday. She’s got a long road of recovery ahead of her… but at least she has the chance for recovery.


“You should be in heaven right now. It’s a miracle that you’re alive.”

Those are the words that my sister heard this morning, as she sat up in the reclining chair that had replaced her hospital bed, listening to her doctor give his latest assessment. An hour or two before, the ventilator and feeding tube that she had depended on for the last nine days had been removed. Nine days ago, my sister’s oxygen saturation level had dipped as low as the high 30s. Her temperature was over 104. Her blood pressure was 78/44. Her heartrate hovered around 120. However, for the first time in over a week, my sister was able to speak today. Her vital signs were near normal. The two blood clots that had formed in her right arm (near former IV sites) had all but disappeared. Though quite tired, my sister enjoyed the afternoon reclining in her lounge chair, surrounded by family, watching the NASCAR race, one of her biggest passions.

Afterwards, she bid a fond farewell to the nursing staff in ICU. All these people knew her quite well. Unfortunately, the sedatives and paralitics she was on didn’t allow her the same luxury of vice-versa. She was moved out of Intensive Care and into a regular hospital room. A little more recovery and some observation. She may be out of the hospital by the end of the week.

She’s still a little short of breath. She’s quite weak. She doesn’t have much of an appetite. But my sister was presented with the challenge of “Legionnaire’s Pneumonia”. And my sister won.


Hospitals and Healing.

Over the past nine days I have spent a lot of time at the hospital. I’ve gotten to know everyone’s name. I think I’m known as “The Crazy Bald Guy With A Sister in ICU”. I talk with the ladies working in the cafeteria every time I’m down there. I wave a friendly wave to anyone with a stethescope around their neck. As a “Visitor’s Lounge Regular”, I show the old ladies where the bathrooms are and the young guys where the ONE Pepsi machine is located in the hospital (my uncle let me in on the secret a couple of days ago).

It’s amazing the routine one can develop when you’re visiting a loved one in the hospital for several days in a row. At precisely 10:10 a.m., a designated member of the family will go to the cafeteria to scope out the day’s menu. This includes a la carte items and what is available in the ‘Speedline’. (Barbara works the speedline, Kareema works the a la carte and Yvonne runs the register). We go to lunch in two shifts – I opt to eat alone on the second shift when Earl’s out of town.

After two days of elevator rides, I began running the stairs. I like to think that I’m staying a little more healthy by using the stairs, even though I fear my leg muscles are turning to mush from a lack of cycling. I fear I’m scaring the old ladies I’ve directed to the bathroom because I come into the lounge panting.

My sister is doing much, much better today. She’s been conscious since Friday a.m., after they took her off the sedation stuff Thursday morning. Whatever she was on was pretty nasty, as it caused her to have all sorts of horrific hallucinations. She was very relieved to see her family alive and well, despite what her drugged brain was telling her. Today she was strong enough to write notes and gesture as to what she wanted (or didn’t want), including a few flips of the bird. It’s nice to have her back. Tomorrow they plan on taking her off the ventilator and then seeing how she does for a couple of days breathing on her own before she gets shipped down the one of the “regular” hospital rooms.

I have to admit that as she got better, Earl and I have been noticing a little more of the eye candy around the hospital. Nothing too randy or seedy, but enough to be appreciable. There are a few cute male nurses and assistants on the floor.

Spending time in the waiting room with my cousins has struck up some interesting conversations. My cousin Theresa knows how Earl and I met and had our commitment ceremony and all that stuff now. I don’t think the topic ever came up before, and I don’t know that it would ever have. Plus Earl announced my affinity for bear type guys as when my female cousins were ga-ga over one of my Mom’s friends I didn’t even give him a second glance.

Tomorrow we’re back at the hospital for a visit and then on Monday it’s back to my normal routine – with hospital visits in the evening. I wonder if Kareema, Barbara or Yvonne will miss me at lunch time.

Service With A Smile.

With all that’s going on in my life these days, I think I’m getting a little cranky. Here’s two little gems of e-mails I’ve sent this evening.

This one is to ReplayTV, which has two customer support lines that tell you to call the other number.

How do I cancel my account? There are no choices on any of your multitude of phone numbers and quite frankly I don’t have time to mess around with your support and billing lines with the restrictive hours. I’ve sold my ReplayTV, I don’t have it any more but I, for the life of me, can not figure out how to cancel my account.

Please do so immediately and don’t tell me I have to speak with someone personally because that’s not going to happen.

This one is to Rhapsody Music Service, which Best Buy apparently felt I needed, because as a devoted iTunes user, I know I’ve never signed up for this service.

How the hell do I cancel my subscription to this account? I tried to do it through the web interface but I got stuck in an infinite loop that I couldn’t get out of. I tried calling customer support but apparently it’s only available on Tuesday between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. when the moon is full.

Please cancel my account effective immediately. I don’t know where it came from, I didn’t sign up for it and besides I love iTunes.

thank you and have a wonderful day.

These two fine examples of professional correspondence were zipped off after sitting on hold with DirecTV for 26 minutes, only to be told that the customer service center is now closed.

I need sleep.

Guilt Release.

As I’ve been dealing with my sister’s illness and hospital stay, I’ve been having some ridiculous pangs of guilt. Earl is always quick to remind me that guilt is a feeling that comes from within. You can not be made to feel guilty, you have to have the seeds of guilt within you that get stirred up by something (like a really good guilt trip, I suppose) and THEN you feel guilty.

I think my seeds of guilt have been overwatered or something.

I started out this morning with the routine I’ve been following all week… jump out of bed, feed Tom, check e-mail, let Tom out, shower, shave, brush my teeth, let Tom in and off to the hospital.

I felt guilty because my e-mail Inbox is rather full and I haven’t answered any of my messages in about a week. I also had two ebay auction items that needed to be boxed up and shipped out, but I hadn’t gotten around to those either.

Last night as I was driving home from the hospital, I vowed that I would package everything up and get it off to UPS. But then I started reading my daily dose of blogs, including BS and his cute boyfriend and I got sidetracked by the internet. It’s amazing how hyperlinks and a little dose of Google can follow my very odd train of thought. Dave’s cute boyfriend -> nice mustache -> sales on Mach III blades? -> sales at Price Chopper -> new Price Chopper store format -> new blog template. I feel guilty for being so scattered brained.

When I got home tonight, the garbage cans were rolling around in the street, Tom was very hungry and a week’s worth of unopened mail sat on the counter. And then today I called off the rest of the week from work so I could be with my sister in the hospital. I got a double dose of guilt on that one… feeling guilty for calling into my new place of employment and feeling guilty for feeling guilty about work when I should be with my sister. Ugh. At least I mustered up the energy to re-rinse the laundry (again) and get the UPS shipments ready.

Now I’ve just realized that I did not call Earl at 10:00 p.m. as planned this evening. I know he’ll be understanding, but I know I’ll feel guilty.

So tomorrow morning, I’ve decided that I’m not going to be guilty about anything anymore. After all, it’s a feeling from within, right? Whatever happens, happens.

Now if I could just stop feeling guilty about rambling in my blog tonight.