Monday, November 20, 2006


Okay, so the anesthetic was incredibly smooth - just dozed off and woke up with amazing clarity. No grogginess or headache.
Turns out the big thing is getting pumped pull of air.
Damn! I've spent the past four hours dealing with savage gas pains and cramping and doing my level best to equalize internal pressures.
The doc found and removed three polyps and sent them off for routine biopsy. I get the results in his office Dec. 6.
Another hour or two and I ought a feel reasonably normal again.

Empty and waiting

It's 5:51 a.m. and I'm scheduled for a colonoscopy in a couple of hours - the first since 1968.
I spent yesterday flushing out the pipes with a liquid diet and a couple of doses of an industrial strength laxative. I suppose I should be hungry this morning, but I'm not.
This is not my idea of a good time and I will be deliriously happy to be done with it.
Maria is taking the day off to be with me for the procedure - I'll need a driver to bring me home since they'll wig me out with drugs. That's something they didn't do 38 years ago. I'm supposed to see this as an improvement, but the desire to remain conscious and in control is pretty strong and I'm not eager to relinquish it.
Friends and even strangers tell me this is no big deal and they're probably right. We shall see.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Adios, Clint

Went to the funeral home visitation last evening for Clint Husted.
I was pleased to see his wife had placed a floral arrangement, including his motorcycle boots and Schuberth helmet on the casket.
There were still bugs on the helmet - the mark of a true BMW rider.
Lots of people there - we stood in line for 90 minutes to express our condolences to Lynnette.
I was pleased to see that the video slideshow of Clint's life included this photo I shot a few years ago in Brown County, Ind. That's Clint on the left and Rich Nathan on the right.
We went to dinner afterward with seven other club members at a restaurant run by the nephew of our club friend Dominick. It's an extremely upscale Mexican place with fabulous food and spectacular presentation. They make fresh guacamole at your table and mix some of the best margaritas I've had.
Unfortunately, Friday night is salsa dancing night and we also got a waiter whose brain imploded when we asked him to calculate separate checks. Forty-five minutes later, Dom siezed control of the situation and declared he'd pay the tab and let us know what our share was by e-mail.
I stuffed myself stupid and slept so poorly that I was in no shape to ride or drive to the funeral which is going on at this moment.

Friday, November 17, 2006

What First Amendment?

At the request of my wife, there will be no further references to her children, her ex or any controversy attached to them in this blog.
Maybe it's time to start a new blog elsewhere with names changed to protect the guilty.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I'm really disgusted with Blogger.
I recently changed over to the beta version and now can't upload photos from my cell phone.
Don't be surprised if you see me move to another blog hosting service.


I had to drive to Lafayette to deliver a set of wedding photo CDs and stopped at McDonald's for lunch.
I ordered a Filet-o-Fish sandwich and a medium drink.
What I got was a F-o-F bun with tartar sauce and cheese around a spicy chicken patty.
Tasted odd, but not horrible.

Sad day

This is the second consecutive day of cold November rain, made even more depressing by the news that Clint Husted, a BMW Club member somewhat younger than I, dropped dead yesterday with a heart attack.
Clint wasn't a close friend and I don't recall ever riding with him, but we socialized at club events and rallies, so he was certainly more than an acquaintance. He had recently taken a buy-out and early retirement from General Motors which begs the question whether there was a connection between ending a career and ending a life.
It's certainly not unusual for guys to die within six months of retiring.
Retirement ranks high in the Life Event Stress Scale, well ahead of sex difficulties, the death of a close friend and a change in residence.
He seemed to be focused on the future. On Sept. 22, he responded to a (retired teacher) club member's e-mail teasing that questioned his usefulness and compentence with, "I can assure you that my teaching skills plus supporting individuals in saving money is still greatly appreciated. I am not like some retired teachers who have receded to the depths of watching daily TV, plus being prodded to clean the house."
I have no idea what other stressors were piling up on Clint over the past year to aggravate what I can only suppose was an undiagnosed heart problem.
Looking back at the year following my mother's death and my early retirement, I certainly had my share of stress points:
Death of close family member - 63
Retirement - 45
Marriage - 50
Change in financial status - 38
Mortgage or loan over $10,000 - 31
Change in residence - 20
Total - 247
A score of 150-299 means medium susceptibility to stress-related illness. Anything over 300 means you're really fucked up and are headed for trouble.
Reviewing the last 12 months of my life, I have to really search for any points at all, so I guess that's encouraging.
Clint's widow Lynnette is at the funeral home in Noblesville as I type these words, so we should have the memorial service information soon. The funeral and burial will be in his home state of Michigan, so I don't expect the club will be asked to provide any kind of motorcycle escort here in Indiana.
Anyway, it's a damned shame he had to check out so early.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Skipping and Shuffling

I'd been withholding my classical music xikkwxruib from my iPod because I didn't want to have the third movement of Beethoven's 6th Symphony pop up between the Seeds and Miles Davis or get the Gyuto Monks chanting on the heels of Beck or Neil Sedaka when I have the iPod on shuffle, which is most of the time.
Then today I noticed the option in iTunes track Info, letting me designate a track or an album to be skipped while shuffling.
Hot damn!
Now I can include everything - maybe even my three CDs of sound effects - and segregate out the stuff I don't want showing up in the shuffle rotation.
Seems like I find a new reason to be impressed with the folks at Apple every day that I use that amazing little device.
So now I have something like 6,400 tracks, plus a whole bunch of podcasts and a smattering of music videos and other videos.
The podcast lineup is constantly changing, since iTunes keeps me current on a day-to-day basis.
So now it's gotten to the point that I feel naked if I leave home without it. All this for a gizmo that I was certain, six months ago, that I neither needed nor wanted.
Thanks again, Sean, Steve and Maria. You hit a home run with this birthday gift.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

O, frabjous day!

TechTV, the glorious cable/satellite geek network that got bought and killed by the greedy idiots at Comcast, is coming back in an updated internet form. should be up and running sometime in mid-January with all of the old stalwarts, including Leo Laporte and Chris Pirillo.
I've been getting my geek fix via the various Leo Laporte podcasts, but this will be much better.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Short book report

Cool book about the iPod phenomenon.

Oh say, can you see?

Maria spent much of yesterday hunched over her new Bernina sewing machine and tensely complaining there isn't enough light in her sewing room. She's in what is arguably the brightest room in the house with lots of windows and a southeastern exposure with a three-bulb overhead light fixture and a built-in light in her Bernina.
I recognized the complaint as a symptom of presbyopia - the inability of the eye to focus properly on nearby objects, which is a common occurrence in middle-age.
Maria has good vision and has never worn glasses. Her last eye exam was about 13 years ago when she was 30. At that time, her eye doc told her she'd probably need reading glasses when she turned 40.
I've worn glasses or contact lenses since the third grade, so it's no big deal for me, but she was loathe to surrender to the fact that it was time for some vision correction.
So on the way to the Meijer store for our weekly grocery run last night, I explained why people who need reading glasses initially complain that there isn't enough light to see closeup stuff.
There is a phenomenon in photography called depth-of-field. When you close down the aperture on a camera lens, i.e., make the light hole smaller, it makes the light waves more coherent and sharpens the image of objects in front of and behind the point where the lens is focused. The same thing happens with the human eye. When you increase the light intensity, the iris closes tighter and the depth-of-field increases, making closeup objects appear sharper than they did before.
You can get by with adding light for awhile, but eventually you have to turn to reading glasses.
So I suggested we cruise by the pharmacy area of Meijer last night so Maria could try on some reading glasses and see if they helped.
It was, to say the least, an eye-opener for her. The first pair she tried had a magnification factor of 1.75 and she was startled at how much sharper fine print appeared. She tried various lens strengths and finally settled back on the 1.75.
She wore them to do a bit of sewing last night with good results, but refused to take the plastic tag off - keeping her options open to return them (refusing to completely accept the inevitable conclusion that she needs them).
She still has the tag on this morning, but I predict it'll be gone by tonight.
Here's a photo of her taking to her daughter on the phone, eyes closed because she gets disoriented looking at distant objects.

30 minutes later: the tag is gone.

Easy come, easy go...

This post is long overdue. So long overdue that I've lost most of my regular readers.
After all, why check a blog that seemingly never gets updated.
So here's the update.
Since we sold our rental property we've been taking care of lots of things that we put off for lack of ready cash.
We threw about $1,800 at our two cars - timing belt for the del Sol and catalytic converter for the Subaru; got Maria's wedding ring repaired (fractured baguette); replaced the waterlogged and ripped 6-year-old hot tub cover and added a mechanical cover lifter; replaced the cabinet-mounted microwave that died about six months ago; bought Maria an 80GB iPod; added a Nikon 18-70mm lens to the inventory, painted the front porch, got a proper desktop docking station for my Treo 700p; and bought a new Mr. Coffee coffee maker to replace the one that was prone to leaks and spills.
Still to buy: a new work computer (mine is six years old and makes photo editing more of a chore than it should be), and a Nikon D200 for Maria.
The bulk of the proceeds are sitting in a six-month CD while we draft a master plan to rip out the deteriorating wood deck behind the house and raze the two ramshackle garages. In their place, we plan a fenced patio and a proper two-car, two-motorcycle garage with an upstairs skylighted photo studio and offices.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sean

My son Sean is 39 today.
His wife Ruth organized a collaborative gift with me, his mom and his brother Steve.
Together, we came up with enough money for a really good acoustic guitar.
Sean called to thank me this afternoon and it was clear that he was surprised and overwhelmed.
Mission accomplished.

Friday, November 03, 2006

M&M's what?

Hoping to save me from a diabetic coma, my wife took the leftover Halloween candy - mostly mini Reese* cups - to work with her.
But when she called me in to edit copy and do some other work, I found the cache and attacked it greedily. I also found a bunch of trick-or-treat-size packages of those colorful little chocolate candies that melt in your mouth, not in your hand.
As I ripped one open, my eyes fell upon an apostrophe that I never before noticed.
The name on the package is "M&M's."
How can this be? All sentient writers of the English language know that you don't form the plural of anything with an apostrophe.
What the package designer has done, then, is to declared that the contents of the package belong to "M&M." Which begs the question: M&M's what? Little sugar-shelled chocolate candies?

I was stunned and somewhat chagrined that I'd never noticed this before.
So I fired up Google to find out what, if anything, the Ms stand for in M&M.
I seemed to remember the Mars family - the folks who gave us Snickers, Three Musketeers, Milky Way and Mars bars - was involved in it and I was right.
Forrest Mars left his father's successful candy business and struck out on his own, working for a time for Nestle and Tobler in Europe. Some people belive he got the idea for his new candy from sugar-coated chocolate pellets given soldiers in the Spanish Civil War. At any rate, he patented the idea in March, 1941. He did a deal with Bruce Murrie (the other M and a son of Hershey exec William Murrie) that got him access to Hershey's stock of chocolate. World War II was on and chocolate was rationed with Hershey having the enviable position of being the choclatier to the U.S. military.
After the war, Mars bought Murrie out, but kept the M&M name on the product.
Mars died on July 1, 1999, at the age of 95. At the time of his death, his estimated net worth of $4 billion, according to Forbes magazine, made him one of the richest people in the U.S.; his sons, Forrest Mars, Jr. and John Mars are now executives with the company and also said to be worth $4 billion each, along with his daughter, Jacqueline Mars Vogel. Based in Hackettstown, N.J., M&M/Mars employs 30,000 people worldwide with sales of more than $20 billion per year.
But I still can't get over that damned apostrophe.

*And it makes me crazy to hear morons like the counter workers at Dairy Queen prounounce it "Reesy" or "Reesie" cups. Have they never heard of anyone named Reese? Where the last "e" is silent?