Saturday, March 31, 2007

Whatever happened to . . . ?

Muzak? I still think it's weird to hear Kiss' "Rock And Roll All Nite" in a grocery store. But I guess it's better than the harp version of "Stairway to Heaven." Still, Muzak would play some real instrumentals by folks like the Rippingtons, the Christian Colours Series, Hiroshima, and George Benson, among others.

Saturday morning TV? Where are the cartoons? Maybe I'm answering my own question when I say I'm glad I have the unedited DVDs of Looney Tunes and Animaniacs. But why is stuff like that NOT on the air, and unfunny glarp like Hannah Montana and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody is?

Alleys? Are any new homes built with alleys behind them? The alley was where we played stepball, football, kickball, and just about everything else-ball. It was also where we ran around in the pouring rain in our bathing suits, as long as there wasn't any lightning. And as an adult, alleys mean short cuts.

The Wings of Freedom Airshow? Although nothing like the show at Andrews AFB every year, this was still an enjoyable show put on at Frederick Airport. There was always a World War Two theme courtesy of the Commemorative Air Force, and the stunts were breathtaking. There was always a moving re-enactment of various battles, complete with exploding ordnance. My cow-orker got to jump out of a plane on a tandem parachute (her sister asked, "Is he cute?"). But the city and the show squabbled over finances, and after a move to Martinsburg, WV that never materialized, the whole thing folded.

Snowball stands? Out here, Mom and Pop snowball stands have been all but legislated out of existence. Fortunately, there's one place on the northeast side of town that still sells snowballs as part of all the other schtuff it serves. We also take advantages of various stands closer to Baltimore. But I grew up with snowball stands and snowball trucks as a symbol of summer, and I miss that.

What all do you miss?

Friday, March 30, 2007

I'm so tired - Part III

(Last time in the "I'm so tired" saga.)

I have a new CPAP machine, and I'm now taking medication to stop my restless leg syndrome. But I still feel tired most of the time.

I was wondering why, so I decided to check my meds, all of which I take just before going to sleep:

  • Rozerem. (Warning: "May cause drowsiness.")
  • Celexa. (Warning: "May cause drowsiness.")
  • Requip. (Warning: "May cause dizziness or drowsiness.")
  • Tricor. (Warning: "May cause dizziness.")
Naaaah, that couldn't be why, could it?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Walk Around Town

For my first volksmarch since October, I elected to stay close to home and walk 11 km (6.8 miles) around Frederick. Gorgeous day for a walk; the temperature was around 60 F, and there was a nice breeze.

My walk started in historic downtown Frederick at the county visitor center, then it went past City Hall and the Barbara Fritchie house toward Memorial Park, where veterans from every U.S. war are honored. Then it was off to Hood College, a school which until recently was women only. (This might be a dumb question, but with the college administration saying Hood needed to integrate the sexes because of declining enrollment, why did they bring in the population whose enrollment on college campi nationwide is shrinking . . . namely, men?)

From there, I returned to Baker Park, a quintessential town park where more people are becoming active with the warmer temps. Plenty of ducks and geese around Culler Lake, but no Cygni. :-( Then I got to check out some of the new Carroll Creek Linear Park and take a whiff of the newly relocated La Paz, one of my favorite local restaurants.

Then it was up South Market Street to Mount Olivet Cemetery, the burial place of Francis Scott Key (the minor league Frederick Keys play across the street), Barbara Fritchie, Thomas Johnson (the first governor of Maryland), and hundreds of Confederate soldiers from the Battle of the Monocacy, which took place a few miles to the south in July 1864.

My walk then wound past the Maryland School for the Deaf, which includes barracks used to detain Hessians during the Revolutionary War. Then after a brief jaunt under the deceptively fascinating Community Bridge, it ended back downtown just before the visitor center closed at 5 PM.

The ball of my left foot felt like it would blister, but it didn't. Nice walk. I'll add some of my photos of these places from previous walks later.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reason #6,571 Why I Would Make A Lousy Amazing Racer

Those of us who enjoy watching The Amazing Race find it easy to pick apart the Racers' mistakes on the show. Well, if I were running, I would definitely be one who was getting ragged on.

The other day, I had to drop off my cow-orker* at the small airport in Clinton where our pilots take us up to do our traffic reports. (I was supposed to fly also, but couldn't because of a paperwork snafu.) He explained to me that I had to enter through the second gate to get to the office where I'd pick him up.

We run our shifts, he in the air, me in the car. Afterward, I schlep back to Clinton to pick him up. I enter the gate. No sign of him. I drive around to the hangar. No one there. I knock on the office doors. He's not there.

After ten minutes, it finally hits me. I had entered the FIRST gate, thinking it was the second. He was at the other end of the airstrip . . . at the office, which was at the SECOND gate. D'oh!

I often yell at the Racers to Read The Fine Clue. Maybe I need to do the same.

*Years ago, someone on a message board at work misplaced that hyphen; I thought it hilarious. No comparison of anyone to a cow intended.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Amazing Road Rally

Inspired by a recent Puffy post.

While I had plenty of problems in the Christian group to which I belonged, there were a number of fun times too. One of them was a Friday night when we folks in University Christian Outreach had a road rally. We divided up into teams, and the object was to follow the clues that a couple of the girls had laid out to the various locations (and, unlike on much of The Amazing Race, they REALLY were clues) and finish not in the shortest time, but the shortest distance.

It was actually part road race and part (pre-arranged) scavenger hunt. We started in the suburbs north of Baltimore. Driving south into the city, we had to stop at a store and obtain one Dunkin Munchkin. (The girls had bought a box in advance; one guy ran in and said, "What's the fewest Munchkins I can buy?") Then, we had to get a piece of spaghetti from a concrete block in a city park. That's where we lost the rally; we made one wrong turn and looped around just enough to put us in second place. I didn't say I was driving, did I?

From there, we drove to the Community College of Baltimore where we were instructed to count the air conditioners in the back windows of the main building. The first couple cars didn't have any problems, but the organizers didn't take into account . . . the security guard. By the time the third car came back there, he started getting suspicious. He approached the car, during which another team pulled up and accused that team of getting the guard to help them!

Eventually, we wound up in Ellicott City at the home of one of the girls' parents. The winners each got a bottle of motor oil. Then we all watched the classic movie, It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. One team did not finish and gave up just a couple miles from the house! Most of them were not from the Maryland area.

Years later, LC and I were part of the winning team in a scavenger hunt two years in a row. The first featured a sports theme, and we cleaned up by visiting a Play It Again Sports in Hanover, PA (LC's hometown at the time). The next year, we clinched our travel-themed win at the Westminster airport. It was on that race that we sang our version of "Those Were The Days" (the "All In The Family" theme) with her singing Archie's part and I Edith's.

Weight Loss Update 3/24

I'm down 9.6 lbs. in Weight Watchers over the past two weeks. That means I've lost almost 20 pounds from my top weight of 286. I look forward to there being less of me to go around.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pot Pourri 2

All sorts of schtuff going on:

Mourning Minnie

I think Maya and Patches now understand that Minnie isn't coming back. For the most part, they've behaved better toward each other, but there's still some occasional hissing.

LC hasn't seen fit to remove the blanket on the sofa near her recliner where Minnie used to sit/lay/sleep. The other day, I found Patches sleeping in that very location. That too suggests she knows.

Minnie's death still saddens us every once in a while, but that's OK.

Cyg's Anatomy: Yet Another Update

The stitches are now out of my right elbow, and I am no longer wearing the wrist splints. There's still a bruise on the elbow, but the scars are healing well. A little bit of pain persists in my wrists, but nothing at all like what it was. I go for another eval in a month. I have another endoscopy in June. Meanwhile, my physical therapy continues.

I have not been sleeping well at all since the operation on the 13th. I may get my meds adjusted next week.

150K and Counting

No, that's not the number of posts I've made on message boards.

The Cygmobile hit 150,000 miles the other night on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring on my way home from work. I've never had a car with that many miles on it. We bought it in 2003 when it had 36,000.

It's needed the requisite amount of TLC, but we're taking good care of it, and I see no reason why it can't last to 200K or more. It's a Focus station wagon, handy for picking up babes hauling things. There's something rattling in one of the axles that needs some attention. But I'm still proud of having changed the plugs and wires myself.

Meanwhile, LC's 2001 Chevy Prizm (>110K miles) has been drinking oil to the tune of 5-6 quarts between oil changes. We're hoping that the recent BG performance oil change with some heavier weight oil (15W40) will do the trick, or at least slow down the oil burning. She says it's run better since. The only permanent solution is a new engine, which runs $8900. We could buy two used cars without oil-burning problems for that much!

My Tour Of Anacostia

In my current part-time job, I drive around as directed to find traffic delays and incidents in the Washington, DC area. Yesterday, I had to find an accident on Suitland Parkway, which ends in Anacostia, one of the worst sections of town. I actually took a wrong turn and headed into old town Anacostia, which is sorely in need of a makeover. Boarded-up houses are the rule.

Or are they?

As I took a back street over to where the (nasty) accident was, I noticed a few new developments being built, and they wouldn't look out of place in Exurbia. I trust that someone will buy them, and if so, that would be a Good Thing. So it's not all blight, and I'm glad I got to see that.

Where DID You Get Those Shoes?

For some time, New Balance has become the official leisure footwear of Cygnus, mainly for two reasons: 1) they LAST (I can be brutal on shoes), and 2) they're not Nike. The fact that they're made in the U.S. doesn't hurt either.

A friend told me about Joe's New Balance Outlet as a good place to get NB shoes. So I tried them out. The shoes arrived in less than a week. They sure looked nice and sturdy, and they were. But they were TOO sturdy. While on my Oxycodone high, I went for a 40-minute walk in them, and generated a huge blister on my right heel. I'm still trying to get rid of it. And it only got worse when I wore those shoes.

Turns out that this particular style of shoe just didn't work for me. Despite being a D width, it was cut too narrow, especially for my right foot. And they're not supposed to have to be "broken in."

Fortunately, Joe's allows returns within 30 days, so they're on their way back starting Monday for an exchange to a style more like what I've had before. Had I not fallen asleep this afternoon and missed the UPS pickup, they'd be en route now!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Comments -- I changed my mind

I will now allow comments from anyone (hi BigBro), but I will moderate them, approving them as promptly as possible.

I'm Waiting

Today I was cleaning out the closet in my new, flowery office. It's the only place where we've really been able to keep most of our books. Got it looking more functional. One thing that helped was making the photo albums more accessible; they shouldn't be buried.

Anyway, I came across a small booklet from theologian Henri Nouwen called The Path of Waiting. I found this quote:

The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun. Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it. A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment.
What specifically I'm waiting for is a new full-time job. I now work part-time, but it's nothing I could live off of. I have a number of possibilities, but I'm waiting on those.

Nouwen goes on to say that impatient people always think they're missing out on the moment somewhere else, and aren't really living in the moment. That's been me in this time since January. I've long felt that Somewhere Out There is this Perfect Job That Will Meet All Of My Needs, but it's just out of my reach.

So right now I have a job that doesn't meet all my needs. But. That may be just where I need to be right now.

In the last few years, I've put too much emphasis on the role work should play in my life. I invested soooo much of myself in my news reporter job that I lost myself big-time. My counselor, friends, and LC were all telling me that. I was spending my DAYS OFF at the station doing unsolicited production work. I was constantly trying to come up with story ideas.

I was able to detach more from my last job, but I still put too many demands on it and let myself get too emotionally invested.

So at the moment, I believe God has me where He does so that I can put work in its proper role in my life. It is not my sole social structure. It is not my sole source of self-esteem. It is primarily a service I render for an employer and, conversely, a way to provide for my wife and me, and enable my needs to be fulfilled in OTHER areas of my life.

Don't interpret any of this to mean I intend to be a slacker henceforth; I'll still have a strong work ethic. And I think it'll make me an even better worker overall. But I want to channel my energies in the right directions, including areas outside of work. I want to get back to either singing or community theater.

There is life outside of work, isn't there?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Rest In Peace, Minnie

I don't know why I love you like I do
I don't know why, I just do
I don't know why you thrill me like you do
I don't know why, you just do (yes you do)

The words to this old Sweet Adelines song were what often caused our Minnie to meow and jump up into Ladycub's lap, especially if "Hello, how are you?" didn't work. They were also among the final words we told Minnie this morning.

She had been limping since at least last night, signaling that the cancer in her belly was spreading to her bones. Unwilling to wait until she was in more pain, we made the tough decision to take her to the emergency vet hospital. LC wrapped her in a towel; we didn't bother with the cat carrier. They allowed us a few minutes with her, during which we sang the above song. As the drugs were administered, I had one hand on LC and the other on Minnie, and I asked St. Francis to intercede for Minnie. It was over all too quickly. She was 16.

We have her collar and some of her fur. And a lot of memories:

The time she had us in stitches as we were listening to Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" and she meowed right on the beat after "Lie-la-lie". We could never quite get her to do that again.

Her rough-and-tumbling with Maya. Maya was faster, but Minnie was bigger and stronger.

Her disdain for any of the litterboxes that were covered.

The way she dealt with numerous seizures earlier on. I'm glad we didn't end her life that soon; we were able to get them under control.

The way she always managed to get in our way on the steps and elsewhere.

How I had to apologize to her (yes, to a cat!) numerous times after chiding her for where she pooped or peed.

How she managed to be Beta cat over Maya and Patches (and Mugger, when she was around; we had to put her down as well after she attacked LC).

And many more.

She was LC's first cat, and her favorite. Rest in peace, Minnie.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

All By Myself

I'm blogging alone.

Until now, Ladycub and I sat next to each other in one of the smaller bedrooms when we were on our computers. As of today, we each have our own office, and I have been relegated to the other smaller bedroom. The reason: When she starts working from home, she'll need privacy in order to talk with her clients. And not to be bothered by her nutso husband.

We rearranged everything so that we could put up her new desk from Ikea, and then I took her former computer desk. My computer desk will be sold (interested, Silvergirl?). I also bought a basic gooseneck desk lamp. Then she made sure we were wired to the Internet and each other (on the local network, that is ;-)) properly.

It'll be weird not computing next to each other as we often do, but I'll get used to it. I guess we'll be IM'ing more! And this beats the days of us having to share one computer.

We still have a lot of paper to sort/file/get rid of, as well as stuff to sell at a yard sale or through eBay (interested, Silvergirl? :-)). And then we must do something with my most un-masculine office! The carpet is rose-colored, and there are rose-colored flowers on the wallpaper also! I'm a sensitive guy, but this is too much! I'm losing my mind to Andre Viette!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Eight Miles High

I am glad my flight on oxycodone (Percoset) is ending. That? Was scary. I can see why people get addicted to this stuff.

My day and a half on that stuff following my elbow surgery was one of the weirdest I'd ever spent. Here are some of the side effects of oxycodone. I can safely attest to the Extreme Sense of Well Being, as well as Trouble Sleeping.

The stuff made me manic. I was just going nonstop, both mentally and physically. And still, I felt strangely relaxed throughout my body. But it just didn't seem right. Good thing I haven't been in a motor vehicle since Tuesday.

Today was The Crash as I came off the stuff. I slept more today, and will sleep more after finishing this. I also felt somewhat nauseous.

I'm scheduled back to work tomorrow afternoon. We'll see how I feel then.

UPDATE 3/16: If anything, I feel worse. Stomach still upset, and I'm even MORE tired. Zzzzzzzzzz.

Shame on Sean Hannity

I just lost any and all respect I had for conservative (and purportedly Catholic) talk show host Sean Hannity. Shame on him, and bravo to Father Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International for standing up to him on the Hannity and Colmes show about his non-Catholic stance regarding birth control (he's for it).

Watch the debacle here, courtesy of the wonderful Jill Stanek.

What Hannity is doing by his public advocacy of birth control is called "scandal" in the eyes of the Catholic Church, and Fr. Euteneuer rightly took him to task for it. And all Hannity did was try to change the subject, especially by saying, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Puh. Lease. Translation: "Don't tell me I'm wrong when I know I'm wrong!"

Best of all was when Hannity put Fr. Euteneuer on the spot by asking whether he'd deny Hannity the Eucharist. Fr. Euteneuer calmly responded that he would. So would I, if I knew a Catholic was deliberately leading others into error.

For a long time, I didn't believe criticisms of Hannity that he was mean-spirited. I believe them now. Compare his treatment of Fr. Euteneuer to how the priest regarded him.

And to answer the question: Why is birth control wrong in the eyes of the Catholic Church?

4. The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. [emphasis added] Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity; it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life.
Vatican City, February 12, 1997.

Alfonso Card. López Trujillo
President of the Pontifical Council
for the Family
+ Francisco Gil Hellín

Also, Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae applies here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Handyman Update

I'm proud of myself for what I accomplished the other day: I replaced the Cygmobile's spark plugs and plug wires. I wasn't sure the wires were seated on the plugs correctly, but it turns out they must have been because the Cygmobile hasn't stalled out yet.

It's about time for me to drain the hot water heater again. Last time, it proved to be rather difficult. And truth be told, the heater is on its last legs.

Our garage door and opener need to be replaced. We also want to repaint our offices (the smaller bedrooms) and put a new cabinet in the bathroom. And we need to rearrange the offices so she can start using one to work from home.

We so wish our house had any semblance of storage space. LC now uses the master bedroom shower to hang her clothes.

And sooner or later, the carpets will have to be replaced.

Ah, the joys of being a homeower.

Welcome to Oxycodoneland

Complete with more pwetty kulurzz.

The two-hour right elbow operation went well yesterday, not that I remember any of it. I'm so glad LC decided against my idea of taking the Metro and walking several blocks to the surgery center; I likely would not have made it afterward. She, however, did walk to the neighborhood Starbucks while the procedure was going on.

My right elbow is in a dressing that apparently I'll have to leave on until next week. It still hurts, but at least I can move it better.

I think I've had enough sedation over these three months to last the rest of my life.

Thanks, LC, for all your support. *smooch*

Friday, March 09, 2007

Cyg's Anatomy: The latest

Good news: The procedure I had on my esophagus was successful, removing all of the pre-cancerous (!) nodule. I'll need frequent rechecks, however.

My cast is off my left arm, the fracture in the left wrist has healed, and I'm now working on strengthening the muscles and ligaments. The right wrist is coming along also. The elbow surgery is Tuesday.

And my lower back issues, which I've had for a while, are beginning to subside. I seem to have full range of motion. One key for me will be keeping my hamstrings and other lower muscles loose.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette

My cousin sent me a petition from the American Lung Association asking me to get my senator and delegates to support a ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants in Maryland.

And yet the House Speaker is talking about increasing the tax on cigarettes. Again.

I am not a cigarette smoker, but this? Is ridiculous.

Why should Annapolis tell businesses how to run themselves? (Wal-Mart, call your office.) Let those places who want to cater to smokers do so, and those that don't, not.

Example: Outside Lancaster, PA, we found a diner that allowed smoking. What it didn't have was any filtration of any kind. We turned around and left. See? We made a CHOICE! The owners of that diner had every right to cater to smokers, and we had every right to decide not to go there. You don't need laws. Same goes for those who go to smoke-free bars and restaurants.

Hey, Annapolis. If smoking is so bad for us and those around us, do more:

Ban. Tobacco. Make possession or use of it like marijuana. Drive it underground.

But no. That won't happen. Why? Because the state needs people to smoke! Otherwise, it loses revenue. Disregard any platitudes that you hear about the state wanting to get people to stop smoking. It's hooey.

And if Annapolis raises the sales tax, guess what? As the Baltimore Business Journal points out, folks will get their cigarettes from surrounding states like Delaware and Virginia that have much lower taxes. Kind of like they do now: traveling from Frederick to Leesburg, VA, there are several tobacco shops just across the Potomac from Point of Rocks.

Now where's my cigar?

Just in time for March Madness

Go Terps!

And check out this lovely Photoshop of the redesigned Cameron Indoor Stadium. (Looks like it was done when the Terps won the national title in '02. Hat tip: Czabe.)

UPDATE 3/9: That wasn't good. The Terps lost to Miami again. Now they'll sit and wait for the Selection Show.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Okay, who stole the product key for our PowerDVD decoding software?

YOU did!

C'mon, hand it over!

You don't want me praying to St. Anthony now, do you?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What am I afraid of?

I ask this regarding my spiritual life.

I go to Mass regularly, including often during the week, but I don't pray regularly or read the Bible or devotional materials.

So far I haven't made Lent make that much of a difference to me.

I wonder again whether, if accused of being a practicing Catholic, there would be evidence to convict me.

Why am I afraid of God and His love? I know I still have scars from my days as a member of the Lamb of God covenant community, but I cannot use that excuse for the rest of my life.

Am I just a political/cultural Catholic?

Why do I hate being quiet, "bored," still?

Why don't I want to pray, beyond seeing it as a duty, a must?

God, help me.

My Turn for a Friend Test

(Hat tip: Scarlet.)

Create your own Friend Test here

Friday, March 02, 2007

Incoming Change of Life

I had that nodule taken out of my esophagus today, courtesy of the University of Maryland Hospital at Baltimore. The lab will take a look at it.

I'm extremely tired. My throat hurts, and it feels like my entire dinner is stuck there. In fact, they saw in my stomach that I'd had a big meal late last night, albeit well before the midnight deadline.

The doctor and nurses treated me well, and I partly remember what was going on; at one point, my gag reflex started taking over and they had to put the scope back down my throat. I guess they sedated me more after that.

As a result of this:

  • I'll become a Nexium junkie.
  • My diet will have to be modified quite a bit.
  • We'll have to forget about our "Republican dinners" (eaten at 9 or 10 PM) and eat dinner when the Rest Of The World does.
  • And last and most: I must lose weight. I'm over 280 now.
I'm afraid of doing these things (well, the Nexium not so much), but I know I have to if I want to feel better and get healthier. I'll need plenty of support.

And a BIG thank you to my mom and dad who waited there with me. I love you.

One major procedure down, one to go (my elbow operation on the 13th).

One last comment: Ooooh, pwetty kulurzzz!