Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Pain That I'm Used To

Today is physical day.  Whoo-hooooo.

I don't assume they will be telling me much I do not already know.  As you can see, I got my blood work draw weeks ago, and thanks to a patient portal, I have already seen my lab results.

The lab I knew would be an issue was - my HDL. It's always low.  But the rest of my cholesterol is right on track.

The Nurse Practitioner caught me off guard with a phone call before the results were published to tell me my potassium was low and I need to eat a banana, raisins or nuts everyday.  

Yes, bananas and nuts to a gay man.

But since I wasn't expecting the call, I didn't think to ask her what the actual result was, but assume it must really be low for them to call.

Normal low 3.4.  Blobby's result 3.3.  REALLY?  That warrants a call?

But oddly enough, I have had a banana a day since - and I'm not even fond of them.

As it turns out, the trip today couldn't come at a better time.  A few times per year, usually only for a few days, parts of my body (usually top of head or my arms) becomes painfully sensitive to the touch. Actual human touch isn't a problem, but having a shirt or coat sleeve touch it can get up to 6 or 7 on the pain scale.

Right now, wind is hurting my left inner arm, along with any shirt.  Honestly, yoga is the only time it doesn't hurt because I can wear sleeveless shirts.  And it's not warm enough yet to wear short sleeves....so I've been doomed to pain.

Naproxin doesn't work.  Ibuprofen doesn't work.  Capsaicin doesn't work.  Nor does Solarcaine.

A quick WebMD search will tell you that I am 100% sure I have Fibromylagia.....or possibly Tactile Allodynia.  Self diagnosing is soooo important and soooo dangerous.  It is a truly easy way to tick off the doctor too.

But I gotta go in with something.  Unlike most times, this malady has lasted way longer than normal. The pain has lasted longer than a week now and it is just becoming horribly problematic on every level.

....and just because I can, I filmed my entire blood draw.  But I couldn't get it to load, so if you're squeamish about needles or blood consider yourself spared.



Song by:  Depeche Mode

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Music Monday

Another two-fer.  Just because I can.

I usually have my song picked days in advance - but this week, I just kind of almost forgot about the entry.  And truth be told, sometimes I have trouble narrowing down the choice(s).

But I seem to get more comments when I do song that is a bit more rock and / or roll.

This week, I'm going with Garbage.

For the first song, I chose "Automatic Systematic Habit", from their woefully under appreciated and seemingly immediately forgotten 2012 album, Not Your Kind of People.

In my opinion, it is the best track on the album.  It is one of those tracks that is based in rock, but you could see dancing to it.  Or I could. ...and I mean, that is if I were drunk, but that's not a reflection on the song as much as my dancing abilities.

Shirley Manson's voice is strong (it always is) and the rhythm section is spot-on with it's driving of the song.



The second track is Garbage along with Screaming Females.  Yeah, I never heard of them either.  They do a great cover of Bruce Springsteen's (yes, not technically Patti Smith's) "Because the Night".

I was never a fan of Springsteen's version but always loved Smith's.  I have never ever ever been a fan of 10,000 Maniacs watered-down take on it.  This cover actually might beat out Patti's track.  I'm really digging it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Leather Britches

As a favour to a friend, I volunteered to work at CLAW, or Cleveland Leather Awareness Week.  Or, Cleveland's version of IML.

I've never been to such an event, so I was not 100% sure what to expect. Sure one has ideas, but.......

To be fair, I didn't participate in any of the events, other than walk around for a few minutes.  My time there was truly to work - taking in auction items, cataloging them, and getting paperwork completed for tax deduction purposes.  Pretty racy, huh?

Mind you, the items I was taking in were leather pants, boots, jock straps, hoods, arm bands, old porn and gas masks and the like. But the auction is a money maker and the proceeds go to local charities.

Guys were funny about dropping the stuff off.  Some stuff didn't fit them.....anymore.  Some stuff was brand new that they purchased just to donate. A few guys said some tricks left the items behind and it was just taking up room at their house.  Let it be known, I never asked for a reason they were providing an item. There info was all voluntary My job was all clerical.

But I had the main intake desk and it sat in a high traffic area and in view a lot of goings on. Nothing sexual.  Nope, nothing like that. I'll assume that happened at the parties or in the privacy of their hotel rooms.

Since I was at that desk, people assumed I was the main info desk. I was so not - though by the end of my shift, I could tell you where the Sir / Boy seminar was being held or the Single Mingle room was.  I could tell you where to go if you needed to register, or if you needed the hospitality suite to get pizza for the volunteers (oh yes, they fed us.....though I have to say, I felt sorry for the unsuspecting pizza delivery guy who walked into the hotel area to see men dressed in, and partially out of, leather).

However, what I got to observe was a subculture of gay life:  the leather community.  Even more so, there were clearly sub-subcultures to that. Some you hear about and assume things about - some that were a little newer to me.

Take the title image. Please.

There is a whole sub-genre on Pup training.  Yes - subservient boys who wear dog masks and introduce each other with barks and growls.  I found it fairly disconcerting.  I think I dealt with them crawling on all fours, on a leash and with a bowl in their mouth better than the yelping.  The dog mask thing did not help matters.

While I was very open to it all, I didn't quite fit into the mode of addressing people by "Boy Jeffrey" or "Master Ron".  Or worse, when people asked me where "Boy X" was, I had no idea.  I'm sure I broke rules by calling someone by first name and not their 'status'.

Don (or was it Dan?), who worked with me, was very perceptive to when someone walked up to donate and would say "thank you, Sir" or "thank you, Boy".  I wasn't that tuned in to their place in the leather world hierarchy.

I am never sure about the leather world.  It just seems like another form of drag - not to say it can't look good on some. I would only say about 15% of the men could pull it off.  The rest just seemed to either try too hard or needed a leather fashion police to help them dress correctly.

I got along well with the head of the auction, also Don (or was it Dan?), who everyone from Atlanta seemed to know, and going by the public conversations, I could tell you specifically what Don (or was it Dan?) likes to have done to him.

And then there was Brian (or was it Bryan?), who ran the hospitality suite.  A nice man, an attractive man, who seemed to come over and chat during down time - though I think he was being nice and not flirting.  Shame.

Actually, unless I was oblivious, no one flirted with me. I think they saw folks who worked behind the desk differently than when you were out participating in the event.  I was the only person I know who just volunteered and left.  I attended no workshops or events, though my badge got me into all of them - save one.

I will say this - it is a community. For all the distance people came to go to Cleveland for this, and it was at least from Washington and California, folks seemed to know each other or of each other. Everyone, myself included, was greeted warmly. Everyone knew I was "new".

So if nothing else,  I got a blog entry out of the experience....and a t-shirt.  One I can never wear anywhere.  Ever.  Unless I attend a Tom of Finland convention.


Song by:  Sam Bush

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Baking

Another birthday.  Another opportunity for me to fuck up in the baking department.

As much as I know I am my father's son, when it comes to baking, I am my mother's son.

My mom is a good enough cook, but I'm telling no lies out of school when I say she can't bake to save her life. She knows this too, so if she ever stumbled upon this blog I don't think she'd be offended by that comment.

But almost every year, I attempt  - and that is an understatement - to bake 710 a cake for his birthday.

Unlike cooking, baking is more of an exact science.  To follow a recipe and not be distracted is kind of key.  When it comes to baking, I don't have that commitment to detail.

Yet here it is, another year and another opportunity / challenge.  I went with an orange cake, infused with an orange / lemon syrup.  And for good measure, I also made an orange glaze.

First the ingredients / instructions.  This is important, as the recipe I went off of had the instructions in pictures, then the ingredients and then the step-by-step instructions in print.  It was bad in ways to follow if you're a novice baker - - like me.  It was a "recipe" for disaster.

Ingredients
1-3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
3 eggs separated
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
zest of 1 orange 
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For the orange sauce:
1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges) 
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1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. In a electric mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high speed until the peak forms. Transfer the fluffy whites into a bowl and set side.
  4. In a same bowl with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg yolks, sour cream and orange zest and beat until light and fluffy on medium speed.
  5. Add the flour to the mixture and mix until combined on low speed. Fold in the reserved egg whites to the mixture until just combined.
  6. Pour the batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake rest in the pan for 15 minutes.
  7. Turn out the cake to a serving platter and poke holes with a wooden skewer. Spoon the orange sauce over the cake when you serve.
  8. To make the sauce, mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to to gentle boil over medium heat. cook the sauce for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes to thicken slightly. Pour the sauce over the cake.


It's a messy endeavor. There's a lot of mess.  I find that of most baking. Too many steps and too little pay off.

I did take pictures, of course.   The title image has all the ingredients, well except I forgot to pull out the confectioner's sugar for the pic. Oops.  It doesn't look like a lot is involved, but it is.

Egg Whites to mix for stiff peaks.  But look at my cool Oxo egg separator.  Honestly, it looks cool.  Separating by hand is still easier. 

Sifted flower, baking power and soda.  check!   And one zested orange. 

I didn't take pics of me mixing the butter, sugar, eggs, egg whites, sour cream and flour.  But here's a key tip, don't take a call in the middle of it all and forget to switch from the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment.  Maybe it's not important, but perhaps, maybe it is. 

While the cake baked, I made the syrup to infuse into the bundt. This was the easiest part of the process, though it took more than two oranges to get the 3/4 cup needed.  Just an FYI. 

No way around this - it's sticky and messy.  

I also didm't take pics of me making the 'glaze'.  It wasn't part of the recipe, just more sugar and orange.  2 cups of confectioner's sugar and 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice.  Don't put it one if the cake is too warm....it just absorbs 


I'll be honest, the cake ended up looking good and tasting good.  That whisk / paddle debacle didn't really seem to matter.  The cake was good.  The citrus flavour was good but not overwhelming.

It is a little labour intensive, but it's a pretty good cake.



Song by: Aztec Two-Step

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Eyes

First off, I SMS'd this picture to 710 yesterday with a reference about the Borg Collective.  His almost immediate response was:  "are you trying out material for your blog?" 

Busted.

Yes. Yes I was - and seemingly it is playing in Peoria, so it's ready for PrimeTime.

It turns out I hadn't had an eye exam since December 2010.  Who knew?

The last guy I went to - who not so surprisingly is the same doc my cousin went to - drained every ounce of joy and life out of me by the time the exam was done.

He's like a Dementor, but with a medical license.......and without the whimsy.  I vowed never to go back to him again.

I did find a great doc, purely by chance, as my vision plan limits where I can go.  I opted not to go Sears (I didn't need a Craftsman eye test!), JCP (well they've been having a lot of changes, so.....) or Target. So I actually went to Lenscrafters.

The doc was superb.  So was the intake nurse.  ....the front staff left a lot to be desired, but........they weren't treating me, just greeting me.

Let me tell you - technology is great.  I always found that most optho places don't want to invest in the most up-to-date equipment. Yeah, they have gadgets, but I never saw it benefiting me!  But Lenscrafters was the shit!  They had all the updated stuff.

Yeah, they did the glaucoma test.  Then they did just a machine that had me look at a picture in the updated GAF viewfinder gizmo (more on that later).  And I was happy to splurge an extra $20 not covered by my insurance to do the retinal photography of my eyeballs.

The retinal thing saved me from having to have my eyes dilated. No stinging yellow-coloured drops.  No being out of focus or sensitive to light for hours afterwards.  And the photo shows where you are on Diabetic Retinopathy (I'm clear!), Macular Degeneration (no issues!), CMV (doing just fine, thanks), and I'm golden on my optic nerves, blood flow and have no eye cancer.   Thankyouverymuch!

On the left is my right eye.  The standard eye is on the right. The colour difference isn't important. Comparing the blood flow, the red dot, the white dot and some other things. Mine was comparable. I have healthy eyes - I mean, except for having really shitty uncorrected eyesight.

These are both my right and left eyes.  They look like misaligned / cross-eyed boobies. 

So then it was actually time for the eye exam, which was cut down in time considerably to that machine I mentioned earlier.  It looked at my eyes and read them, so that 'which is better - 2 or 3; 3 or 4' was a minimal part of the test.  The doc was able to go to the heart of it.  The scan - or whatever you call it - did most of the work.  BONUS.

Then it just got down to bwass-tacks (as Lily VonShtupp would say):  how much has my prescription changed?  Not that much.  Almost nothing in my near-sightedness.  A little worse in my far-sightedness.  I knew that was coming, as it's easier for me to take off my glasses to read the paper than it is with them on.

So we're trying something new with the contacts - which is what I really needed.  One at full vision and the other for reading.  It beats (in theory) single vision lenses then having to wear readers from Walgreens.

I only wore the contacts for hours and my brain-to-eye coordination wasn't working yet. It will take a bit to adjust, and I have to have the doc adjust even more.   Why? you ask?

I don't have the ability to close my left eye on it's own - I know, right?  Winking with my right is my only option.  So when I was home, I tried to work on the computer and couldn't.  The lens needed to see near resides in my right eye.  I can't close my left to focus on near.

So I'm gonna axe the doc to switch the lenses.  Oh, I know you're thinking I can just put them in the other eye, but the script will be different for both eyes, so no, I can't.

I'll get it to work out.

Oddly enough, right now I only wear my contacts when I work out or ride.  I don't anticipate that changing much, but maybe if they fit better (they have silicone in them and allegedly get more oxygen than my old ones), perhaps I can wear them longer.  We'll see.

Get it?  'see'??   Ha!  I kill me.

I will assimilate.


Oh and just for fun - isn't this everyone's encounter at the opthamologist?






Song by: Felicia Day & Neil Patrick Harris

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Ain't Here

What a horribly shiteous "Spring".

Yes, Spring is in quotes, or if you were in front of me, air-quotes.

Two days ago, I took Petey for a walk in the woods and it was 78 degrees!  Granted, even for us, that's a little warm this time of year, but you know with Climate Change, I'll take it.

We've gone back and forth on the warm or warmish weather, only to have it plummet back into using the electric blanket temps.

Yes, it was 78 on Tuesday.  I went as far as to come home and take the storm window off one of the sunroom windows so we could get some fresh air.

Silly silly me.

Yesterday, when walking Petey, I was halfway through when it started to rain - April showers and all - but then realized I should have had a hat and gloves.

Yes, gloves.  On April 24th.

When I got home, I found out it was 34.  78 to 34 in less than 24 hours.

I hate to say it but it was our only walk for the day.  The rest of the times it was just out in the yard for #1 and #2.  I can almost take the cold and snow more than the above freezing and rain.  That is just chill to the bone cold.

Even afterwards, I came home, there was no warming up - so I took a very hot shower. When 710 called on his way home from work he said it was snowing.  SNOWING!

This is not unprecedented.  Maybe eight years ago on 4/24 (I know this because it's my niece's bday) we must have got a foot of heavy wet snow.  My parents were in Florida  - I know this because the weight of the snow snapped 10 of their 14 arborvitae.  Those things were 20-25 feet high and effectively blocked the neighbors.

Had my parents been home, no doubt my mother would have been out there knocking snow off with a broom or something.  But it was doomed.

I do not foresee getting any accumulation tonight.

On another note - kind of - Petey and I were down in the ravine Tuesday and I stopped to take a video of a waterfall we had come across.  I've been down there plenty of times, but clearly not at this part, or I would have noticed the water feature.

video

What is odd is I sent it to 710 and he said he took the exact same one a few days before, including the panning to and from Petey.



Song by:  Pat Metheney

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Transformer Man

Last Saturday, since it was all of 36 fucking degrees outside, 710 wanted to go Transformer Station.

...as it turns out, it had nothing to do with Optimus Prime.

And for full disclosure, I know zilch about Transformers, the toys, the comics, the movies.  Zero.  How I pulled "Optimus Prime" out for cultural reference is beyond me.

Transformer Station was just that, a substation, but now turned into an art museum, that has partnered with the Cleveland Museum of Art.  It was transformed (ha! get it?!) by a friend and neighbor who is an architect.  So we went to see it for a number of reasons.

Overall, the space is fairly small, but nicely done and it still has some of the industrial feel, including the concrete floors and even some of the ceiling features were either original or keeping with the substation theme.

The first major exhibit is called Bridging Cleveland which are photos of - you guessed it - bridges of Cleveland.

The pictures, I believe, were all done using pinhole cameras (something I think would interest my cousin in going to see.....I'm just saying....), so that made it a little less fartsy, but a little more artsy.



Some of the space is definitely newer, which probably had even more to do with our neighbor / friend than the refurbished part - and that was something closer of typical gallery space.


As with any art - modern or not - some of it is good, some of it less than good. But there were some interesting pieces.  The new section did not have the bridge exhibition, but other stuff.

What was nice about the museum was continued revitalization of the area. Once only housing two gay bars, a bath house and run down residences, now the area has some great little independent businesses including a coffee house in a fairly unmarked building that had a long line to get joe - at 15:00 on a Saturday afternoon!  I like seeing that.  The once dilapidated houses are bring fixed up and some of the streets are looking very nice.

So, we've done something new we can check off our list in Cleveland.  Smell me!


Song by: Neil Young

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Growing Up

Our boy is growing up.  Or old. Or both.

If Petey were human, he'd be a tween and starting to buy Taylor Swift downloads and posters for his room. But since he's a dog and 11 in our years yesterday, it is more like 77 for him.  So in theory, he'd be on Medicare Parts B and D.

The title image is his official birthday portrait.

It is quite amazing how he won't look at the camera, almost on purpose.  Getting this dog to pose is impossible.

Lately on walks, he's more like Ferdinand the Bull. He'd rather just sit in ground cover and smell the ivy.  Personally, I think it is because on those nice days, we've taken longer walks and he's tuckered out so sniffing is an excuse to rest.   I'm good with it.

But yeah, Petey turned 11 years old yesterday. He actually got more hugs, pets and kisses than normal - which is saying something.  He's a very loved and pampered dog family member.

I laid eyes upon him the first weekend my sister brought him home - she brought him to another sister's house to show off.  I was down with that - since playing with a dog is better than interacting with some of my family.

My one sister had a pool, but it turns out, Petey was not much for water. He can swim, but would rather not. But I can't say I didn't try. He looked very distressed, though I was with him every millimeter of the way.

It is amazing how his face changed over the years.  These were the first two pictures I took of our little man:

 How fucking adorable is he?  The question is rhetorical. 

Here he is at poolside.  Scary how much he's grown. Katie too. She graduates college in two weeks!

But Petey's slightly white snout turned to mostly white as he grew into it, even beyond the eyes - and the black and brown receded somewhat.  His black ears became mostly brown.  And of course, now the top of his head is greying - just like his two dads.

Well, my beard is greying - the top of my head?  Not so much.

Here is his unofficial 11th birthday portrait.

His nose is great and same with those hound dog eyes, but his whimsy might actually be in his ears.

These are what I call his 'formal' ears - when they are at attention instead of down and more droopy.

He's a good boy, and we're very happy to have him.  710 thinks he's my dog, but he totally isn't.  He pays attention to us equally and vice versa.



Song by:  Bruce Springsteen

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Music Monday

Natalie Maines is coming out with her first solo album and really her first new music since the Dixie Chicks' last disk seven years ago!

Technically, Maines has had a few songs out here and there - a cover of the Beach Boys' "G-d Only Knows" and she did something with Eddie Vedder, but most of the time she's been silent when it comes to singing.

Her (former?) band mates put out a marginal (at best) disk a few years back, The Court Yard Hounds, and it sounds like they're threatening to do another round.

Maines, however, feels the time isn't right to record another Chicks album and has only reunited with them a few times for live shows - as they are doing this summer in Canada. Maines also doesn't feel like country music will ever allow the Chicks back into that market yet that is what the rest of that band plays - country, so she not really jonesing to record new music with them.

That's a bummer because their last two albums were great.

Natalie's new disk (which, be forewarned, I will review in May) isn't country at all.  The title track, "Mother", is a Pink Floyd cover.

But I did pre-order the disk, because I like Maines' voice, but there is a certain wanting to stand with her after being vilified for stating she was embarrassed to be from the same state as the president.  Hardly treasonous, yet that is the way she has been portrayed since 2003.

With the pre-order, I got immediate access to her first track, "Without You".

I will admit not to really grabbing onto this first song she released, but it's grown on me quite a bit over the last few weeks.  It's not going to be hitting any airwaves of many stations, but it's a solid effort and yet it doesn't quite show off the true strength of what her voice can do.

"Without You", should not be confused with a Dixie Chicks song of the same name.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mean Mr. Mustard

I've been playing around with this recipe for a few weeks now and while I might not have nailed it yet, I'm closer and closer.

I'm open to suggestions or variations, if anyone has any bright ideas.

Fish - it's what's for dinner.

I try to keep it simple, as it is such a quick thing to actually cook, I don't want that much more prep time to be involved.  I like to cook, but sometimes I wanna be a lazy one.

You can see the ingredients:  tilapia, Dijon mustard, garlic, Panko and olive oil.  Boom - that's it.

I made a garlic-mustard "glaze"(?)  to go over the patted-dry tilapia.  The measurements this time weren't measured out like last.  I'd say it was a 1.5 tablespoons of mustard and about two cloves of minced garlic.  Last time I used just that, but it didn't coat quite as nicely as this time.  For this last time, I added a very little bit of olive oil to cut the mustard a bit - and it seemed to work.

Then I just coated the fish on both sides.


Ditto with the Panko.


Last time I didn't use Panko at all and the fish cooked much faster - like 3 minutes on each side.  This time it took a little longer.


710 thinks this all might have worked better had I baked the fish as opposed to using a saute pan.  Perhaps he is correct, but at this point, I had not preheated the oven.  Don't get me wrong, he didn't dislike the outcome - but I'm guessing Panko encrusted anything probably is more for baking than "frying".   (our oven, as much of a behemoth as it is, has no broiler, so that is out of the equation.)

But the finished dish looks pretty - no?


I get that I'm not a food photographer, but it doesn't look heinous or anything - right?   RIGHT?

As the side, I just wilted some spinach with a little olive oil and about two cloves of minced garlic. I liked it - but it turns out 710 wasn't big on that at all.  He likes spinach enough, just not prepared that way.

Well, live and learn.  I mean, it's only been 28 years - we're still learning each others likes and dislikes, right?  {sigh}

Prep time definitely takes longer than cook time, but for both fish and spinach, we're talking 7-8 minutes to cook.  Peeling and mincing the garlic took that long!

Clean-up is a breeze too - and let's face it, when contemplating dinner, that can be a big factor in your food selection choices.

But the mustard gave the fish good taste and, to me, it wasn't overpowering.  White fish is pretty fucking bland, so you have to do something.

Will it be a staple?  I dunno.  We need to eat more fish, so anyway I can find to make it interesting is alright by me.   But again, I'm open to suggestions - but not criticism.

I'm a fragile flower.



Song by: the Beatles

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Don't Shoot (I'm a Man)

It's over.

In a way it seems like the post-Boston Marathon events took forever to come to an end since its beginning on Monday.  On the other hand, had those kids made it out of Boston, it could have gone on for months.

I know folks rooted for both suspects to die, but if this kid survives, I'm glad about that.  Not necessarily because he'll rot in prison, but maybe, just maybe, there will be some explanation as to why.

For it all to be finished in a hail of gunfire, with nothing but death and no rationale - whatever that could possibly be - would seem crueler than just ending the stand-off with no answers.

There is no good outcome. None.  But it's over....except for the media aftermath...which could take weeks.

The only thing worse this week (possibly) was the Congresses inability to act on any gun control laws. Spineless wimps.  The criticism they've gotten this week is weak in itself. None of it sinks in, none of it matters - and it is just so fucking sad.

Background checks. That's all they were asking. Fucking background checks. They weren't limiting access to assault weapons.

It's exhausting. This whole week has just been draining.

I'm glad it's over - but probably not as much as John, BosGuy and Mike.


Song by: Devo

Friday, April 19, 2013

Headstrong

I've got my annual physical coming up in a few weeks, so I went to have my blood drawn so I can have my results when I see the doc.

That's just good planning sense so the two of us can talk about any potential needed course of action.

Getting a doc to talk to you after your appointment, especially when he can't bill for it - or at least bill as much - is near impossible.

So, I went, had the vials of blood filled up and stopped by to see the person who took over my job when I left this certain establishment.

On the way back to my car, I ran into this:


Sure, the word "free" stopped me dead in my tracks piqued my interest, but honestly - do you know what it came down to?  "Ooooh....this is a blog entry!".

Sad. Sad. Sad.

First off, what crappy marketing.  This is a top 4 healthcare institution (and by top 4, I mean #4.  If they were higher than that, they'd say 'top 2'!).

Really - a dry erase board propped up in a hallway?  That'll draw 'em in.  Well, I guess - I mean, it drew me in, didn't it?

Actually, there were three folks ahead of me and honestly, the paperwork took more time to fill out than the actual examination.

I was fairly certain I was in a low / no risk category, but I was there, I'm approaching 50 and well...need I say it?  It was free.

The physician was nice. He asked all the questions he should have - especially around smoking, pain, swelling, etc.  He looked in my mouth, he felt my neck.  He didn't do so much anything with my head (oh - go on you dirty little men, you're dying to say something with that!), but the man gave me a clean bill of health - at least for my head and neck cancer stuff - and then sent me on my way.

I kind of felt bad for two of the three folks who were seen before me.  They were given paperwork to follow-up with someone at a later date.  It might end up being nothing for them, but something in the screening brought up red flags of some sorts.

Not that any cancer is great, but when it is of the head or neck - ick. Nothing good can come of it.

All I have to do is survive my physical this month and hopefully I'll be somewhat in the clear for the next 12.  But you know, at this age, things start to fall apart.  ....as we have seen with me time and time again.

Yes, the top image actually came from my results sheet. I know you were all wondering.



Song by: 10,000 Maniacs

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Record of the Month - Classic

Another installment of a disk I have enjoyed over the years. I'm trying to keep the Record of the Month posts to be fairly new releases. Classics are going to be ones that are at least 10 years old.

I've been focusing on debut disks - just to make it more challenging for me. I don't think you'll care one way or the other, and I'm running out of decent debut disks. 



In the late '70s and early '80's, Stiff Records was hitting it out of the park with their roster of new wave acts - some of whom made it, some not so much.   Lene Lovich, Ian Dury, Rachel Sweet, Elvis Costello, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe and more.....

Another group - much lesser known - was Any Trouble.  They had a really good debut back in 1980, Where Are All the Nice Girls? 

I'd be shocked - shocked I tellz ya - if any of my readers had this album, let alone heard of the group at all.  No worries, they were a blip, two or maybe three records in succession.  Crank 'em out and fade away.  Though the team-lead, Clive Gregson still makes appearances now and again (at least in Cleveland) singing some of the band's material.  He did write most of it.

But Any Trouble is pure pop and not so much new wave.  But their first side of their first album is pretty perfect if you like pure pop.  There is no edge the music - lyrics might be "darker' but their off-set by the guitars and bass line.

My absolute favourite song on the disk is "No Idea" (embedded below), but "Second Choice", "Foolish Pride", "Playing Bogart" and "Turning Up the Heat" are all solid.

Actually if it were just an EP, which was kind of the style at the time, it would have been a perfect disk.  The second side is ok, but never the bigger draw. I was never a huge fan of "The Hurt" or "Romance". And side 2 ends with a shitty cover of Springsteen's "Growing Up.

I guess what surprises me more is that both iTunes and amazon .mp3 store carry it.  I mean, it doesn't cost them anything, I'm just surprised anyone converted the songs to digital for potential purchase.

Still, it's fun revisiting the musical past.  At least sometimes.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Teacher Teacher

Here is a story I thought would have gotten some legs nationwide, but I haven't seen that - and now with Boston in the headlines, this will only be tackled at a local level.

So a teacher up in Albany is under fire for a persuasive writing assignment she gave 75 students.

While perhaps (and I am reserving judgement on her approach) the wording / set-up of the assignment might have not been clear or misinterpreted, I'll go out on the unpopular limb and, to a degree, back up the actual classroom task.

The assignment? The students were instructed to imagine that their teacher was a Nazi and to construct an argument that Jews were “the source of our problems” using historical propaganda and, of course, a traditional high school essay structure.

On the surface, this sounds horribly insensitive. It seemingly speaks to hate (from the teacher) and reeks of anti-Semites.

Here is why I think (and hope) it is not.

Granted, this is not a history class, but an English one.  But I was talking to a friend about this and wondered what they actually teach in high school history these days, especially about World War II.  Yes, you spew facts about the war - dates, battles, bombs, but do they really teach reasons?   I'm not talking to the history buffs of the world, but the general population.

I would venture to say that many know way more about the Japanese theater  of WWII - Pearl Harbor and two A-bombs.  But I'd venture to guess they don't know as much regarding the European stage.

Quick - other than the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand, what do you know about WWI ?    Yeah, I thought so. I'm not chastising, because I know little else myself.

So back to the assignment.  At first I was like, she should be fire.  My second thought, a few days later was, she will be fired, but should she?

Granted, she could be an anti-Semite and just spewing hate, or g-d forbid, is she trying to get the kids to think!

Go back and look at the assignment.

An entire country (Germany) can't all be hateful and evil. Yet, they watched trains full of people go to camps yet come back empty.  They saw folks pulled off the street, never to be seen again. For years.  Few said, or did, a thing.

An army was built up - and convinced that genocide was the right thing to do.

But HOW?  How did it get to that point??  And I think that was the teacher's point.

Even if they teach about Hitler in school, they are not teaching the hate behind the man and how a man or society gets there. Or better yet, how does a man get an entire society there?

I can certainly see the problem with the assignment in terms of mom and dad seeing this and going "whaaaaaat?"  I can see that kids are so frickin' desensitized and easily manipulated these days that it is two leaps from writing their five paragraphs for class before they are joining a white supremacist group.

Yes, this could task could be construed as hate. And it is.  Yes, there were probably better (or different) examples to use for the assignment. But as an overall learning tool, is brushing the potential means under the rug for a 1932-1946 Germany any less short-sighted?

If nothing else, with this experience, this teacher just gave 75 students their essay for their college applications.


Song by:  Rockpile

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Song of the Patriot

It's amazing what 12 years does and does not do.

With the tragedy at the Boston Marathon yesterday, I had all these feelings of helplessness, vulnerability, sick voyeuristic tendencies, and news trolling, along with a sort of sickening guilt for all of it.

The change is how things are communicated that didn't happen with 9/11 - texts, tweets and Facebook updates.

What kills me with those were the people either oblivious to event or insensitive.  People still sending pictures of food they've eaten or cat videos perplexed me.

At least with 9/11 you only had news websites and inaccurate traditional newcasts.  Now you have information and misinformation streaming at you from all sides.  It's unbearable.

The odd thing was, for hours after the event, I hadn't even turned on the TV, which was the main source of information in 2001. It's been laptop and phone for hours.  It is not that a television isn't handy, it's just that back then, I remember not wanting to watch, but not able to peel myself away from it that September day - and the following days afterwards.

I can't do that again. It is not that I don't feel for the injured, the runners, the families, or the town of Boston.  I totally do. But the spectacle broadcasters, bloggers and tweeters will put on for the next few days is and will be unconscionable.

Of course, early on in yesterday's horror, someone said it might be terrorism.  No fucking shit!

Yes, I suppose some faulty electrical lines could have exploded, but not two in 10 seconds.  And when isn't an explosion at a major event not considered terror?

No, what "they" meant was, some non-white, non-American folks were "probably" behind it. Sometimes it was said, sometimes implied.  Because if history has taught us anything it is that Timothy McVeigh was a Muslim or Arabic.

Guess what - it they might be, but they might not. We have enough hate from our own citizens, but somehow we think our shit don't stink in that area and that is must be someone from or with ties to the mid-east.  I don't jump to that conclusion.

That this happend the same week in history as Waco, Oklahoma City and Colombine isn't lost on me. I would not shock me for a moment to know there are ties to it.

I so hate the news cycle. They have to fill the void, so they just speculate and then the haters hate - hell most still think Iraq was behind 9/11.

The days of Frank Reynolds snapping at unknown staffers back in 1981, when Reagan was shot, yelling,  "Let's get it nailed down...somebody...let's find out! Let's get it straight so we can report this thing accurately!" are gone.

Facts mean little or nothing in this environment. It's about keeping the fear alive so people stay tuned in.  They can spin it any way they want, but it's all about ratings.

What happened in Boston as horrible and sickening. The image I put up at the title is on purpose - to leave an impression of how bad it was.  And trust me, that is a tame picture compared to what is floating around on-line.

The chaos, the blood, the aftermath should not be forgotten.  It should be used for memorial and education - not for media hype.

Yesterday was Patriot's Day in Boston.  What won't be forgotten are the people who ran into harm's way to help. I'm not talking firefighters and cops. I'm talking runners, spectators, shop keepers - all of them.

They are patriots!



Song by: Johnny Cash & Marty Robbins

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Music Monday

Today you get a two-fer.

I do love the National, and they have a new disk coming out at the end of May (be forewarned, it will be my Record of the Month selection in June), three years after High Violet was released.

As a teaser for Trouble Will Find Me, the group put out its first song / video last Tuesday.  If you pre-order the disk via iTunes (and maybe other venues), you get the single, "Demons" right away.

Oddly enough, two days later, they released their second "single", "Don't Swallow the Cap".

I want to like "Demons" more and maybe it will grow on me. Since I did pre-order, I got the song and have been cycling through it.

I like Matt Berninger's baritone and the bands playing - stylistically there isn't a lot different in their previous productions or playing ability, but the first two minutes kind of drag and are more spoken than sung.

At the two minute mark, or so, it gets much better as it kind of finally finds its groove. But that first two minutes truly challenges me.  I find it an odd initial release, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt as High Violet was possibly the best release of 2010.




I like "Don't Swallow the Cap" a little more.  Where it is more of a song, than spoken word, the elements of the music are slightly different I've experienced on most National songs.  I'd say it's "perky", and it is, but it isn't.  But that can be said of some of their music.

Usually I don't get to "premiere" new music here, but here it is.

Twice.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

App of the Month

I'm not sure I've done an App of the Month post the last few months.  It would be easy enough to go back and check, yet on the other hand, I'm one lazy SOB.

I actually don't know I'll have lots use for this app - TimeCam, a iPhone camera self-timer - but what the hay.  Or is it 'hey'?  I could look it up, but I'm one lazy SOB.

There are times you might want to take an image of yourself and not hold your iPhone out at arms length.  Beside always end up looking the same, there are the instances where you can't get everything in that you want viewed because you're arms just aren't long enough to box with g-d.....or get in that mountain view behind you.

Naturally, the app is free. I mean, c'mon - it's me!

It seemingly works with the front and back view camera lenses.  You can set it for 5, 10, 15 and 30 second delays, so you can get into position.  I suppose you might need the 30 if you have props or are in a wheelchair or walker.

You have to allow the app to have access to your photo library, so it can save / store these photos on your phone.  When I did a trial run of the app, I didn't do that and couldn't save the photos.  At that point, I had to go into the privacy settings for the phone and manually allow it to happen. After that, all was fine.

I only did a test shot or two up in my office and nothing of note and useless to show you here. I did forward facing shots (the lesser camera lens), so it showed the countdown of the 5 seconds I had.  Because it was the front camera, the pics were a little grainier.

Had I flipped the camera around, you couldn't see the countdown. As I had the phone on silent mode, I suppose (?) there is an audible counter, but I didn't do that, so I don't know.  Again, I could look it up, but there is that lazy SOB thing staring me in the face again.

There are a number of free self-timer apps out there, this is just the one I picked. Zero research and just the one that struck my fancy - so there you have it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

12 of 12

So I'm doing my 38th 12 of 12

Normally it is 12 pictures taken on the 12
th of the month. Since I only post once per day, you get my images the following day. All pictures taken with my iPhone. Click images to enlarge, if you choose.

Created by Chad Darnell and picked up from, what I can tell, a number of random bloggers who then link back to him and vice versa. Janet Hughes is now hosting the link that puts many 12 of 12'ers together (sometimes she keeps current, sometimes not).  The number of people linking don't seem to be as robust as they once were, but that stands to reason.  

I still continue to do this, because of all my consistent post topics, I actually like this one the most. 


07:45.  Rain. Continual rain.  Flooding our outdoor walkways.  Plans to have drainage fixed are in process for later this Spring. 

08:30.  Petey's heartworm medicine.  It smells vile. Bologna can't mask it.  He eats the Oscar Meyer and spits out the pill.  Smart, but frustrating dog.

08:40.  Roly-Poly Petey.


09:20.  Adding songs to and charging my iPod Shuffle. It is the one I use for my gym workouts.

09:45.  Rain stopped for a moment so first doggie walk of the day.

Petey meeting up with Shane and Caliegh.  Caliegh almost never engages that much. Shane likes to get in Petey's face.

10:05.  Work being done on neighbors chimney and roof over the next few weeks.


13:30.  Downtown Cleveland from Edgewater Park.  Frickin' freezing outside for mid-April.

2:45.  The VA Hospital.  The County and State hate it for their costs, but my father, a WWII vet, loves their services and says he's never been treated better.

17:00.  A hastily taken shot on the way out of the grocery. I meant to take one while shopping but forgot.  Just got small items - dog bones, an onion, bananas (the shit is), milk - stuff like that.

17:35. I'd say a late afternoon snack, but I didn't have lunch, so......just mini fat free pretzels that I dip into lo-cal honey mustard dressing.

20:50.  Making a salad, while 710 makes the pasta.

22:00. Gotta have one of Sophie.  Her little nightly saucer of milk.  We know have to put it up high so Petey just doesn't steamroll her to get to it.


There you have it.  More 12 of 12 next month.