Saturday Posts . . .

Today I’m going to do something totally unique – because today I become a highway speed limit sign!

Hahahaha – but, seriously, Today is my 55th birthday.

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Shutting down . . .

Well, having accomplished what I set out to do with this blog, I think it is time to shut it down.

The reason I’m doing this now it simple:  I had 90 days to renew my domain registration when they informed me that WordPress has decided to force a 2-stage authentication process that requires a form of verification that I literally can’t provide – a cell phone number.  Since I do not have a cell phone, and wouldn’t tie it to my blog even if I did, it is time to quit WordPress.  Besides, I’ve done what I set out to do with  this blog, by laying personal claim to ideas that were hugely influential in the outcome of the 2016 election for the USA.  Everything else was gravy.

So, I’m transferring all of my files and blog posts to my original blog at:  http://mr-spock.livejournal.com/ and asking that if you want to continue to follow my journey of self discovery, you’ll bookmark that page or subscribe to it.  I’ve been blogging on that page since 2004.

Thank you, one and all, for making this page feel like a resounding success.

Freaky . . .

After several days in a row with bad weather and migraine complications dumping on each other, I was desperate for some sleep yesterday as my wife left for work.

I actually went to sleep rather quickly – but it didn’t last long. About 2 hours later, I was sitting up from a dream that was so bizarre, and uncannily realistic, that I couldn’t get it out of my head. I spent the rest of the day playing video games to distract myself, yet even when my wife got back home, I still felt as if I’d just awakened from the dream.

It started off as simple as it was ominous. My wife had lost her job because the state had made huge cuts to it’s total budget for higher education. Because she’s tenured, her contract required a year’s severance pay, and she had a year to continue her work while polishing her resume’ and looking for a new job. Still, without a guaranteed income, we were faced with loosing our house. Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call from a childhood classmate. The little 1-traffic-light town I grew up in (founded by a war veteran just after the US Civil War) had lost touch with it’s roots, and I was the only honorably discharged veteran of my age group. In fact, there was only one other veteran my age, total. Such is the fact of life in a small town. So, they needed me to “come home”.

I told the caller that I’d consider the idea, but I had 2 conditions. First: I wanted a full-time job as a cop on the city police force, with appropriate benefits. The second was that there had to be a full-time job for my wife in the city annex of the county library (since the county seat is 24 miles away). It only took them 20 minutes to agree to both conditions. That was the end of the dream.

Then things got even more surreal. When my wife got home, she was fit to be tied. Just before she left work, the university president sent out an email to all university employees stating that, because of revenue shortfalls, the state was facing a $1.5 – 2 Billion financial crisis, and as a state regent’s college they had to be prepared to make some painful cutbacks.

I still didn’t get any more sleep until after 1:30 AM this morning.

I had it coming . . .

Last night my wife and I were watching a disc we got from Netflix.  I was sitting in my recliner, with a cat sound asleep on my lap, when she got up to go to the kitchen.  Seeing her heading that direction, I held up my empty coffee cup and asked if she’d mind getting me a refill – so I wouldn’t have to wake the cat.

She wanted to know what she should put in it, and I responded with “something hot, brown, and wet.”

Then SHE asked me if I meant Zoe Saldana or Halle Berry.

I really should have just said “coffee”.  Besides, even if they were willing, neither one of them would fit in my coffee cup.

Need to work on my “havingness” . . .

Well, first off, most people probably don’t know what “havingness” means, since it is an invented word.  It refers to a person’s willingness to have things – not desire, but ability.

After that post I wrote about not sleeping, my good friend Anita and I traded a few emails trying to brainstorm a solution to my trouble.  I told her that, if all else failed, August was coming soon and historically it is the hottest and driest month of the year around here.  Or, perhaps the PCH Prize Patrol would ring our new doorbell on August 31 – if they do, I would answer the door.

Yesterday was yet another very wet day.  The storms moved into the area around 4:30 AM, and it rained most of the morning.  Naturally, our mail was delivered in the rain.  What was funny, though, is that there was an envelope from PCH – clearly marked on the outside, “You’re A Winner – Prize Check Enclosed”.

The envelope was so wet that it pretty much disintegrated when I looked at it.  Still, with care and the acquired skill of  opening soaked envelopes, I managed to get it open without destroying the contents.  Yes, it was NOT a joke.  We did win a PCH prize.

$10.00 USD

Well, I can have that. The check was mailed to our credit union for deposit yesterday. Now we need to work on havingness to get to that point of being able to “have” a $5,000/week income for life.  The prize is awarded at the end of this month.  *grin*

Step by step . . .

Slowly, but surely, our move towards a greener lifestyle continues.

One of the things that we’ve been looking at is that our HVAC system has been in this house since the early 1970’s.  There is no doubt that it will someday need replaced, but in the mean time it is not the most energy efficient.  So, I had the brain storm that if we could come up with a more energy efficient way to heat the house in the winter (i.e. using the fireplace) we might save enough money over time to pay for the update.

Well, it turns out that the reason our fireplace isn’t safe to use is that the liner in the chimney is cracked – and there is NOBODY in this area who replaces cracked liners.  I’ve even used email to contact people in KC, Tulsa, and St. Louis – they won’t even consider traveling so far for the job. So, we started looking at other options.  Or, we thought it would be plural.  Turns out, there was only one option – get a gas-burning fireplace insert.

Of course, that isn’t as easy as just snapping your fingers.  A gas-burning fireplace insert actually needs a gas line to provide the fuel, plus it needs a plug-in to power the regulator.  So, we called our favorite plumber, and asked him if we could get a gas line to the fireplace.  Naturally, he needed to know where it should go, and the salesman who talked to us about the insert didn’t tell us where to put the line.  So, after a few delays over the telephone (the salesman took vacation while I was waiting for the plumber’s estimate) I got an answer on the location.  We got lucky – the best place for the line to enter the fireplace was also the easiest place for the plumber to put it.

So, now the gas line is in place.  The plumber even filled the hole around the pipe with a cement compound that was color matched to the brick, and painted the pipe to match.  We’re very happy with the results.  The next step is the insert itself – at a minimum cost of $3k – but I think we would actually want the $3.5k version.  We’re going to be living with this for a LONG time, if fate is kind.

My unusual bone tumor . . .

I have written before about the fact that I have a history that includes a fight with a bone tumor back in 1980.  I recently wrote a summary of the events that led to that diagnosis, because my lawyer in the fight with Social Security thought that it would be helpful to our fight.  After some reflection, I decided to post it here, as well.  Hope you find reading this to be helpful in understanding me . . . .

________________________________

Vernon Pope’s Bone Tumor Discovery

This is a factual summary of the events leading to the discovery of a bone tumor in my left femur in October of 1980.

The story begins on September 17th. I was active duty in the United States Army, assigned to Ft. Eustis, Virginia, training to be a helicopter mechanic. On that day, I awoke with the rest of my unit at 0500 hrs. (which was normal for all normal duty days). At the time I awoke, I was not aware of anything amiss. I sat up, spun on my bed, and placed my feet on the floor, feeling normal. The very moment I stood up, I felt a searing pain I have struggled to describe ever since. The best estimate I can give to what that pain felt like is imagining what it might have felt like to have my whole left leg doused in gasoline and set fire. I screamed so loudly that half of the men in my barracks came running to the room I shared with 5 other trainees.

Very quickly I was questioned about what was wrong, and it was decided that I needed to get to the nearest medical aid station immediately. Two of my fellow trainees created a fireman’s carry chair and hauled me to the aid station. The medics on duty checked for sprains, broken bones, charlie horses, and other usual suspects, without discovering the cause of the pain. By the time the examination was concluded, the First Sergeant of my unit was also on location. The medics gave me some non-prescription pain killers and said they didn’t know what was wrong. They sent me back to the barracks on 24 hour bed rest – and specifically instructed my First Sergeant that if I was not feeling better by noon I should be admitted to the main base hospital for further testing.

The First Sergeant took me to the hospital at 1205 hrs. that same day.

The following days were a series of tests, x-rays, and other exams. Nobody who examined me ever suggested that they felt my pain was other than real, but no evidence was found for a cause with any test the hospital at Ft. Eustis was capable of performing. On October 8th, I was put in an ambulance and transported to Bethesda Medical Center for a full-body bone scan, with and without contrast.

On October 9th I was informed that the bone scan had revealed a shadow on the left femur that had not previously been seen on x-ray. I was scheduled for a biopsy of the site of the shadow for the following morning.

The doctor who performed the surgical biopsy deserves some mention, I think. He was Col. James W. Blunt, Jr, MD. He was the Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at Ft. Eustis at the time in question. He was also the Hospital Commander, and the highest ranking Orthopedic Surgeon in the United States Army.

I went into surgery at 0700 on October 10, 1980. I was back in my room after recovery by noon. At 1300 I was informed that I had a bone tumor – eosynophilic granuloma (please forgive me if I misspelled it – I am not an oncologist), and that I would be permanently disabled.

I want to call attention to a few facts of this narrative. First – that I experienced extreme pain all of the 23 days before we knew what was causing it. Second, there actually was a very real problem. Third, that the same sensitivity to changes in my body is why when I experience a migraine headache now, it isn’t something I can medicate and still go on with a normal day.

Home Improvement victory . . .

Actually, this is a post about two different things, but I’m starting off with something we’ve spent nearly a year working on.  You see, last July we decided to repair the doorbell on our house.  We went to Home Depot, looked over several different bells, and selected what we wanted.  We even got a new button and transformer, so that whatever was needed was already available.  After that, all we needed was to find someone who would install it.  We thought that would be the easiest part.

HA!  The first couple of people we talked to couldn’t do it.  We tried calling contractors, who said the job was too small for them to mess with.  We tried calling a commercial electrician corporation (literally, they have divisions that do HVAC, commercial electricity maintenance, and more) – they also said it was too small a job for them, even though they have been doing our HVAC service for 4 years.  We talked to every handyman we knew – they wouldn’t mess with it.

Finally, my wife was in the parking lot of a locally owned hardware store, buying organic eggs from a farmer we’ve bought from for a few years now.  He happened to mention that he used to be an electrician, and she asked him if he might be interested in doing this job.  No, but if we really wanted to find someone good who would do it, just go inside the store and ask one of the clerks who they would recommend for it.  She did, I called.

Last night we heard the doorbell ring for the first time. Yes, it is installed and working.  Here is the weird part – that job that nobody wanted to do?  It used all of the parts we bought, and cost us $35 in labor.

Next – today is my daughter’s 29th birthday.  Priscilla, I hope it is a happy one, wherever you are.

Neither her mother nor I know – last we heard she was somewhere in the deep SW USA (Arizona or New Mexico) but she hasn’t contacted either of us.  I know she doesn’t think much of our advice most of the time, but seriously, I would be more concerned if she never disagreed with us.  Just don’t be dishonest with us.