NoJoMo 2016

Prompts

Oct. 25, 2016, 5:29 p.m.

Last week in October, and things have changed quite a bit since I wrote last year.  Writing after I got out of the hospital last week, along with some rather lengthy things I’ve been writing elsewhere show that I’m actually primed to do this this year.

I’m not sure how much I want to recycle this year, so this is my call for prompts.  I will put up my final list of prompts before I start writing on All Saints’ Day.  Obviously, this isn’t complete yet, but this is what I have so far.  If you have something you’d like to see, please email me.

  1. Introduction.  Why I’m doing this for a sixth year.
  2. My day as a goth kid.  (Yes, my wife is planning on doing this to me.)
  3. Open
  4. Write about someone you’ve recently lost.
  5. Write about your siblings.  How many?  Where are they?  What do they do?  Do you get along better now than you did when you were kids?
  6. I’m writing about Football.
  7. Write about your parents.
  8. Election Day.  Write about your votes.
  9. Are you satisfied with the results from yesterday?
  10. Describe your most recent doctor visit.  I’m specifically looking for the one(s) you see most often.
  11. Nervousness.  Write about what last made you really nervous.
  12. I’m going to write about my trip to be examined for use as a Guniea Pig for research on my condition.
  13. Recap of the trip to DC.
  14. What are your plans for tomorrow, since it’s turkey day in the US?
  15. How was turkey day for you.  If you’re celebrating on a different day, please elaborate (like my friends in Soviet Canuckistan).
  16. What are your holiday plans for Christmas?
  17. Recap, reaction.

Prompts (final)

Oct. 31, 2016, 5:51 p.m.

  1. Introduction. Why I’m doing this for a sixth year.
  2. My day as a goth kid. (Yes, my wife is planning on doing this to me.)
  3. Collections and Cars.  Write about any collections you have, and the cars you’ve owned.
  4. Write about someone you’ve recently lost.
  5. Write about your siblings. How many? Where are they? What do they do? Do you get along better now than you did when you were kids?
  6. I’m writing about Football.
  7. Write about your parents.
  8. Election Day. Write about your votes.
  9. MOvember.  Write about facial hair.
  10. Armistice Day. I’m going to write about the war Tom Brikaw forgets.
  11. Are you satisfied with the results from yesterday?
  12. Describe your most recent doctor visit. I’m specifically looking for the one(s) you see most often.
  13. Nervousness. Write about what last made you really nervous.
  14. On Being Sick
  15. Find something you wrote five years ago, and tell how things are different
  16. I’m going to write about my trip to be examined for use as a Guniea Pig for research on my condition.
  17. Recap of the trip to DC.
  18. Write about three things you did for the first time in the past year.
  19. Recap of your year month-by-month.
  20. What did you want to be when you grew up?  What are you, actually?
  21. Write about something you’ve had to re-learn.
  22. Write about your recycling habits..
  23. What are your plans for tomorrow, since it’s turkey day in the U
  24. Free Write.
  25. How was turkey day for you. If you’re celebrating on a different day, please elaborate (like my friends in Soviet Canuckistan).
  26. What is your favorite food?  (H/T to someone on PB)
  27. Small Business Saturday.  Write about small businesses you frequent.
  28. Free Write.
  29. What are your holiday plans for Christmas?
  30. Recap, reaction.

One

Nov. 1, 2016, 4:47 p.m.

Introduction. Why I’m doing this for a sixth year.

So, as I fired up EMACS to start writing, I had a 1.txt in my $HOME.

Umm.

Yeah, it was something I’d written long ago; probably in college. How it got there, I don’t know. Maybe something from one of my summer writing bits.

I do enjoy writing. How proficient I am at it is up for debate.

So, to the basics.
I’m 37 years old. Married. Work in Information Technology for the US Federal Government. I’m now well into my sixth year after being diagnosed wtih Multiple Sclerosis.

This is my sixth year doing this. I started on my Diary on the now-defunct OpenDiary (OD) site.

So, what’s kept me doing this year after year?

There’s something about having something to do every single day. When OD was up, I’d often use the prepackaged prompts. As I’ve been writing on my own, I’ve taken to either creating my own prompts or recycling things from previous efforts. (Back to the odd textfile in my $HOME.)

There’s also a bit of a sense of accomplishment in finishing a month. The last couple of years, I’ve done a second stint in the month before my birthday. Is it a countdown? No, not really. Neither is November; if it was, I’d be doing it in the lead-up to Thanksgiving or Chrsitmas.

I’m not doing that, however.

The past few years have been exceptionally difficult. I’m going to try to avoid writing too much about that. On top of my myriad health problems, I’ve seen a marked decline in income. (Checking my SSA statement shows that I’ll be lucky to get back to my 2012 earnings next year.) I’m not going to write terribly much about that; those who need to know do, those who want to know can buy me a beer, and I’ll tell. I’ve been writing a lot lately, in conversation with a friend, about bits of administrivia. There’s a big portion of that discussion that’s been about management. Meanwhile, I’ve also been listening to the Reason Podcast, where they’re discussing a lot of similar issues.

There is no One-True-Way(TM) for just about anything.

Eventually, you have to find your own way to do things. Maybe you’ve been previously inspired by someone or something, but your situation is yours.

Similarly, this effort is something that works for me. I’ll be doing it my way. If you like it, great. If not, that’s fine, too.

So, who am I?  A dude trying to help out the best way I can.  Professionally, I need to keep my irritants from negatively affecting others’ impressions of me.  Having me on your team is a good thing.  Now how do I convince people of that?  (And some of the folks who’ve beautify-illustrated their prowess at taking multiple choice tests by taking certification tests might just be completely worthless.)


Two

Nov. 2, 2016, 4:16 p.m.

My day as a goth kid. (Yes, my wife is planning on doing this to me.)

My wife has decided that I need to be her Goth Boy.

It hasn’t happened.  Yet?  She’s been really busy with school.

She can dress me up however she’d like, though.  I won’t return the favor;  she can dress as she pleases.

So, if wearing a dog collar for a few hours will make her smile, fine.  So long as I don’t have to look like Aaron Rodgers, Goth QB, or the kid in the Mom’s Minivan demotivator poster.

On a similar, but unrelated note, I’m getting skinnier again.

I lost about 60 points after I got sick.  For the most part, I’ve kept it off.  I think I’m probably about ten pounds more than I was at my lightest.

But after this latest hospitalization, I’ve noticed things aren’t fitting again.  My pants.  My wedding ring.

In other words, Thanksgiving can’t get here soon enough, if only to fatten me up a bit.

So, what else is up?  Paratransit Services screwed up royally again this morning.

I’m tired.  I hope I’ll be up for this thing I’m attending on Friday.

Also, do I have the stamina or desire to watch the last World Series game tonight?

On the brighter side, I was able to get things setup for my trip to Georgetown School of Medicine.

I’m very tempted to fire all my specialists in the wake of two hospitalizations within a month, plus now a problem with one of my prescriptions.

Good shit.


Three

Nov. 3, 2016, 6:51 p.m.

Collections and Cars. Write about any collections you have, and the cars you’ve owned.

Three years of earning virtually no money has significantly cut my collections.  I simply don’t have the resources to do that sort of thing anymore.

When I was a kid, I collected baseball and football cards.  There’s a Brett Favre rookie card somewhere at my mom’s house. Yes, it’s strange seeing him in a Failcons helmet.

I bought that card at a show on one of the posts in Germany.  Hanau, maybe?  He’d just taken over the job with the Peckers, and I’m a double-legacy at Southern Landmass, so I thought it was kinda cool.  But I was also thirteen, and it was 1993.  The ideas of what was cool were a bit off.

Cars.  I don’t currently own one;  I’m too blind to drive.  I sold my last one, a 2003 Mustang GT at the end of 2013.  The proceeds largely went to support me and my wife after I’d gotten laid off for the second time in a year.

Similarly, the proceeds from the sale of my 2001 Jeep Wrangler were largely used after I got laid off in 2013.  The Wrangler didn’t net me very much;  it had something like 260,000 miles on it when I sold it.  Original clutch.  How I managed that is completely beyond me.

I sold my 1992 Wrangler back to my dad for a dollar.  He sold it to a nearby used car dealership.  I think it had something like 180,000 miles on it.

I never had a car with an automatic transmission.

Living in Tidewater without a car is very difficult.  Thankfully, I am afforded telecommute opportunities in my current position. Getting to my work site via public transit is possible, but it takes a long time, and requires two transfers.  It aslo takes about an hour and a half if I hit the schedules just right.

I don’t really know what else I can say, other than the idea of living an an exburb holds no appeal for me these days.

My mother sometimes speaks fo “living off the land.”  How about no?  Not something that ever really held much appeal for me, and even less as I’ve aged.  Not being able to drive has compounded it.

I rahter like indoor plumbing and hot water.  Maybe that makes me a bad person.


Four

Nov. 4, 2016, 7:07 p.m.

Write about someone you’ve recently lost.

Writing with what I remember of the prompt as pretty much of our Intertur]bes (and TV) is out.

I was supposed to write about someone I’d recently lost.

Today is my grandfather’s birthday. He’s the only one of my grandparents still living.

It also would have been my dad’s youngest brother’s birthday. He died a few weeks ago following several years of health problems.

I didn’t know him terribly well. Same goes for a lot of my parents’ siblings; we were gone. I don’t feel deprived by that or anything. It was part of what happened with my dad’s job.

Sure. I had an idealized view of where my parents grew up, but the more I’ve learned, the more I understand why they never really wanted to go back.

Things weren’t good along the Gulf Coast for a very long time. I couldn’t comprehend the pervasive poverty.

So, what do I know about my uncle? He was a little more than nine years my dad’s junior. My dad’s two younger brothers were born after my grandparents reconciled (I’m not sure if they divorced, but I’m pretty sure they did.) So, in my parents’ wedding photos, he was a pre-teen.

He never ended up with much of a career, and lived with my grandmother until she died. He ended up taking care of her in her final years, actually.

He worked for many years as an Interstate trucker. After Hurricane Katrina, he started doing glasswork for damaged historic buildings.

Not long before my dad died (end of 2010), he had a very serious heart attack, preventing him from doing very much after that. He was trying to do some college work. I think, however, his health prevented him from ever finishing his degree.

Over the last few years, he was very sickly. When my wife and I saw him last, it was basically just him and his cats around my grandmother’s significantly-renovated house.

He died a few weeks ago. I couldn’t go down for the funeral, and haven’t heard much else. Kind of odd to ask family you haven’t seen in awhile about more.

And that’s about what I’d written when my Intertubes quit working.  I didn’t really nail the prompt now that I look at it.  As a kid, it was kind of a question of what’s he driving right now?  He always seemed to have a different car, and be driving a different truck for work.


Five

Nov. 5, 2016, 6:55 a.m.

Write about your siblings. How many? Where are they? What do they do? Do you get along better now than you did when you were kids?

I have one younger brother. He lives, again, in Northern Virginia. For the past couple of years, he’d been living in Texas, on account of his wife’s job. While he was down there, he was doing some data science work for a major telecommunications company, away from government. Now that he’s back in NoVA, he’s back to dealing with supporting government (what our father did for the time after he retired from the Army, and I’ve been doing for the last decade).

I don’t know, exactly, what he’s doing. His interests were always a bit different than mine. His education also far-exceeds mine. For awhile, there, my work experience made up for my lack of post-graduate education. I’m not sure if that’s true, anymore. I also really suck at Minesweeper, so I don’t have a list of initials to string after my name on my LinkedIn profile.

He and I get along a lot better than we did when we were younger. I really didn’t like his high school girlfriend, later first wife, very much. (He probably felt the same way about my longtime girlfriend from high school and college….)

There were a few contentious incidents when we were both in our teens. I also didn’t appreciate his attitude on several things. shrug

Since we’ve been apart, and he’s been away from his first wife, we’ve gotten along pretty well. Our wives seem to get along well, too. (And, M., my wife’s newfound fantasy football obsession is your fault…..she’d refused to play before you urged her….)

Since our dad died, and I quit driving (and making decent money!), it’s been hard to get together with him. When he was in TX, I think I only saw him once. I haven’t seen him, yet, since they’ve been back in VA.

Today is his birthday. I have very vague recollections of my mom being pregnant, and his birth. I was three. I remember more dealing with some of his health issues as a young kid (both at the Naval Medical Center probably about half a mile from where I now live, and at the University of Kansas Medical Center in KC).

I know I hurt him more than once. Protip: don’t put a full crock pot on a bench seat because you don’t have something free on the floor. I also did things to take care of him. (I won’t elaborate.)

He, actually, was probably the one who came closer to fulfilling our parents’ wishes. When I was in high school, then beyond, I really was intent on trying to set my own path. Varying results, there, but he never ended up working in a hellhole like I did for a few years. I don’t root for the sports teams our dad did. (And my adherence to Royals’ fandom yielded thirty years of disappointment….)

Today is his birthday. I seem to remember snow sometime shortly after he was born. It’s stayed pretty warm here this year.

I’m going to stop now, because there’s not a lot more to say, really.


Six

Nov. 6, 2016, 9:35 a.m.

I’m writing about Football.

Yes, I am.

I started really paying attention about age ten. We were living in suburban Washington, DC. as the Redskins were assembling that 1991 team (which was one of the best teams of all time).

I am a New Orleans Saints’ fan. Yes, I remember Jim Mora for before he was famous for, “Playoffs? You kiddin’ me?”

Based largely on my playing experience, I’m a big believer in tow things — the I-Formation, and the 43 Defense. Vince Lombardi might have won two Super Bowls, but Tom Landry was the best coach in history.

In the NFL this year, I’m seeing those things I like come back.

Unfortunately, the Thanksgiving schedule is still screwed up. But at least there’s some AFC representation. It used to be that either the Lions or Cowboys would face a division rival (think Bears-Lions, or Redskins-Cowboys) or NFC powerhouse, and the other would play an AFC team. They added the Thursday night game probably about ten years ago, and the last few years, those have been completely-NFC games.

This year, there’s two NFC division games during the day, followed by an AFC matchup.

What more am I seeing?

What an absolute genius Al Davis was. His last draft pick is really becoming an internal part of the Steelers’ offense.

I’m seeing some good games on TV this year; maybe that’s why ratings are down. (If you’ve seen CBS’s primetime offerings, you understand that quality programming is not what gets numbers…..)

I have not idea what’s on this afternoon. Maybe I should look at that. Not really feeling like writing today. I think the Redskins are on a bye after their tie in London.

This year, I’m really liking watching the Raiders.


Seven

Nov. 7, 2016, 5:28 p.m.

Write about your parents..

Kinda half-assign this one; my dad’s been gone six years next month. He spent 24 years as an Army officer. He’s now at Section 54, grave 5049 in Arlington National Cemetery.

His wife of nearly 40 years, my mother is still living. She’s living in the house they bought as he was retiring from the Army. The house is near the school where she’s worked for more than twenty years.

She left her home in south Landmass at the end of the Vietnam War to join her redirected Lieutenant husband in Japan. Before then, she’d never been east of Pensacola, or west of Houston.

For the next twenty-four years, she’d travel the globe with him, and rate his reprobate kids (the eldest one, for sure).

Today is her birthday; happy birthday, Mom. On Saturday, we’re headed to see her alma mater pay her daughter in-law’s school.

Do I have more to write about this, and her? Sure. At the same time, I’m not feeling particularly loquacious tonight. I actually almost forgot to write today after my latest medical adventure.

I did notice a few more date misalignments in my prompts. Thinking back, however, one of those might have been intentional. Regardless, tomorrow should be fun; vote for some candidates who don’t thrill me, and prep for my medical test on Wednesday.

I should probably at least start working on Wednesday’s entry tomorrow; I’ll be sedated, so I probably should finish before I leave for my appointment.


Eight

Nov. 8, 2016, 3:49 p.m.

Election Day. Write about your votes.

I’ll go in reverse order, because it’s more interesting that way. Further, I expect all of my positions to be defeated. This is not at all uncommon.

There was an amendment tinkering once again with the Virginia tax laws to excuse more people narrowly from paying taxes. If I was a good Democrat(TM), I’d say, “their fair share.”

The entire tax system needs overhaul in the Commonwealth. More targeted tax cuts for specific people. No. The same thing applies to the Federal system. I paid more in Federal Income Tax (not fucking payroll taxes) in 2009 than I grossed in 2002. Why? I didn’t rent a house from the bank in 2006 that I couldn’t afford. Similarly, I pay for my health insurance with after-tax dollars, and have since I was laid off for the second time in three years in early 2014. During the “Great Recession,” it’d gotten to the point where more than half of people who filed taxes paid absolutely nothing.

To the people who’d be “helped” by this proposal, I’m sorry for your situation; it sucks. But for every dollar you don’t pay, someone else should pay an extra one. Whether or not that’s actually happening is another matter. Eventually, it will have to be paid.

Stop with these stupid token things, and fix the bigger issues. Some of your supporters may actually end up having to pay taxes. Some rich people might end up paying more. Whatever. Do the right thing.

The next amendment was about adding the principles of right-to-work to the Virginia Constitution. I, somewhat reluctantly, voted for this amendment. You shouldn’t have to join a coercive organization in order to work somewhere.

Organized Labor, especially the AFL-CIO, is vehemently opposed to more formalization of right-to-work. That, by itself, might have made me enough to vote for this. At the same time, I’m not a shallow Republican or Democrat, so that’s not enough. One of the things the Democrats have been hammering this year is problems with the “gig economy.”

Your health insurance should be tied to your job. (And if you can’t work full-time in an office, you should be a charity case.)
You shouldn’t be able to use your car to drive people around.
You shouldn’t be able to let people stay in your awesome place while you’re going to be away.

If you agree with those things, I hope you’re probably against the amendment, and support the mainstream Democrat candidates. The new Chrysler, which the US Supreme Court tore up 200 years’ worth of bankruptcy law to create, has only four pay bands. If you have a job there, you will pay a big portion of your salary to the union thugs, and never move up beyond the top band. Good shit. But, hey, after 30 years, you get a watch.

Similarly, for the House of Representatives, after the Supreme Court essentially reversed its 1993 decision on majority-minority districts, there’s actually a Republican running against my Representative (who’s been there since 1993). I voted for him, despite knowing that he’ll probably still lose. So said Mark Twain, “[p]oliticians are like diapers; they need to be changed often and for the same reason.”

Do I think Rep. Scott is doing a terrible job? No. At the same time, he’s been there for longer than some of the voters have been alive. I also was very encouraged by him signing on to Rep. Ellison’s bill significantly curtailing the mortgage interest deduction. Although I’d go farther with it, I’d also add to that an absolute 30-year limit to using it.

The days of buying a 2500 ft.’ McMansion are over. People want to live in cities. They don’t want to live with four generations in under the same roof. Deal.

Back to the House, however. Where in the Constitution is the House limited to 435 members? Nowhere. Make the House proportional again. Take a state’s population, divide by Wyoming’s, and round to the nearest whole number. If the House won’t fit in the current chamber, hold things somewhere else.

Expanding the House would also fix the Electoral College. It’d also be much easier to make sure minority-majority districts stay that way. (I write that as a mostly-white guy who will probably never know his true racial heritage, and is okay with that….)

Virginia’s two Senators are not facing re-election this year (although the junior one with his $160K in gifts as governor will probably end up being Vice President…), so we’re to the Presidential race.

I did what I promised myself that I would; I looked at the last polls, and I don’t think Virginia is going to be close, so I voted for the Libertarians. Since I started voting, I’ve pretty much stuck with this. In 2008, I kind of abandoned this, thinking Obama would be terrible. Otherwise, I’ve stuck to it. If Virginia was going to be a contest within ten points, I’d hold my nose, and vote for the less-horrible major party candidate.

This year, however, the two parties’ candidates were both unspeakably bad, so I adjusted my threshold. I looked at the last Virginia polls, decided Clinton was probably going to win, and punched the high contrast, large text button for Gary Johnson.

Do I have issues with Governor Johnson? Yes.
Do I have issues with Governor Weld? Yes. Even moreso after his bit with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC recently.

So, why’d I “waste” my vote? I want the LP to have recognition going forward. They went with some particularly bad candidates after Browne, but are trying to build a legitimate organization. Thanks to decades of two-party manipulation of election laws to maintain their duopoly, it’s very difficult for something different to get any foothold.

I don’t believe in forcing you to do anything.
If you want to take drugs, that’s up to you.
If you want to do stupid things, financially, that’s up to you, too.
If you want to live as a professional student, fine.
If you want to rent a house from a bank for your entire life, that’s fine, too.
If you want to have a bunch of kids, fine. Understand that they’re your responsibility until they reach the age of majority, and the state will protect their rights until they reach that age if you’re not doing the job.
If you want to follow a seventeenth century English King’s version of the Bible, that’s fine. I don’t.

All of those things bring consequences, and those consequences will be for you, and those who love you, to deal with. Please don’t expect me, a person who can barely see and walk, to pay for it. No, more than that, don’t get men with guns to make me pay for it.


Nine

Nov. 9, 2016, 6:34 a.m.

Are you satisfied with the results from yesterday?

Yes, things are all out-of-order with my prompts. My scarred brain is more than a little scattered with all that i’m dealing with right now.

So, on the results yesterday, I’m very surprised. Am I disappoint? Yes. Would Hillary have been a complete disaster as President? Absolutely.

If her campaign can take any solace as they nurse their hangovers this morning, they did convince me not to vote for Trump. (As if that would have taken much, but….)

The really cynical side of me screams something about Trump’s tax returns, but I’m bored with that (and have been for weeks).

Am I surprised/ Yes. Perhaps even shocked.

Same, too, with what I thought was something unwindable for the Republicans — Senator Ron Johnson. While the hipster progressives were focused on Christine O’Donnell, to me, the real story of 2010 was Johnson beating Progressive fan favorite Russ Feingold. I can remember many touting him as an ideal Presidential candidate in the middle of last decade (you know, not long after people like Stuart Smalley were elected.

After he lost, Feingold went away for six years, only to run for his old seat back this year.

Largely against the prognostications, somehow, Johnson won re-election yesterday.

In some ways, that shocks me more than Trump’s win.

As for my votes, I was zero for four. I expected that. Am I disappointed by that? No, not really. As I wrote yesterday, I expected that.

Going forward, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in Congress. There’s not enough in the President Elect’s coloring book to point to any specific things he’ll be championing.

So, I’m surprised, but how the two parties deal with will determine their futures. (I’d be okay seeing both disappear, myself.)


Ten

Nov. 10, 2016, 4:29 p.m.

Since I haven’t bothered to learn how to do things like images here…..

http://control-h.org/index.php/2016/11/10/ten-4/

Ten

Nov. 10, 2016, 4:29 p.m.

Since I haven’t bothered to learn how to do things like images here…..

http://control-h.org/index.php/2016/11/10/ten-4/

Eleven

Nov. 11, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

I got out of order on my prompts trying to fill spaces.

Armistice Day. I’m going to write about the war Tom Browaw forgets.

As a kid living in Germany, there were lots of things I saw related to the First World War.

98 years ago today, the fighting stopped, but I think a good argument can be made that the war’s never really ended.

I’ve been googling around, looking to see if I can find relatives who served. I know one of my great-grandfathers did. He was a Second Lieutenant in the Army. My great-grandmother used to tell the story of how they were let out on leave between training and shipping off overseas. The platoon sergeant told them not to go get married during their breaks. All but a couple in the platoon did (my great-grandparents included).

But, there’s so much that people don’t know about. How about the Rape of Belgium?

The quip about Tom Brokaw is related to this. So much of what Brokaw’s been doing since he “retired” is directly-related to the “greatest generation.” Yes, World War II was a disaster. Yes, the blame for some of its causes can be squarely pointed at the United States.

Still, the seeds of the war were planted as the European empires collapsed. Because we had an ineffective academic president (sound familiar?), his grand scheme to punish the Germans in perpetuity didn’t pass the Senate, and let the French and British set the state for the use of the Third Reich.

Also lot on many is the sheer number of people who died in a four-year war. I can remember my dad taking us to the Somme battlefield, and having no way of understanding what it meant that one million people. died in that single battle.

I was last in Belgium in 1993 or 1994. The town of Bastogne was invaded by the Germans at least three times, but when most Americans think of it, all people might know is General McAuliffe’s “nuts.”

I don’t remember much coverage of it when I was in high school, despite being in Germany. When I got back to the States, there was even less. I asked my wife about what she’d learned, and it was basically nothing.

As we’re now in the century mark since the war, there’s been bits here and there. Seeing poppies at the Redskins’ game probably befuddled many.

I watched the ABC/CBC/BBC documentary series on one of the streaming services (Netflix or Hulu). Just incredible. People just don’t know.

And today is Veterans’ Day, which is the US version of what was the commemoration of the armistice. The cease fire went into effect on the Western Front the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the month.


Twelve

Nov. 12, 2016, 8:20 a.m.

Describe your most recent doctor visit. I’m specifically looking for the one(s) you see most often.

I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking when I wrote this prompt. Maybe I should have consulted my calendar before i wrote.

My two most-recent visits were with specialists. One to replace the folks likely responsible for my two hospital stays this month. The other was to see what’s going on with something else in my messed-up body.

I guess my most recent medical visit was with my longtime dentist. I’ve been seeing the guy pretty much continuously since I was in high school. My medical issues have definitely included attack on my teeth; he’s been helping keep me sort of functioning. Yesterday’s visit was for a cleaning. I have to get an extra one each year because my disease modifying drug affects my oral bacteria. That said, no cavities!

As for regular medical stuff, I’ve been seen at Ghent Family Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School since the day that I had the MRIs that led to my diagnosis.

I should probably write a counter to this lousy Yelp review. They’ve been great for me, especially last year when my oh-so-wonderful Healthcare.gov plan wasn’t accepted by the two specialists I’d been seeing.

Dr. Robert Newman is my primary care physician. He helped find new specialists, including my new neurologist, Dr. Kuczma. I also have to tip my hat to Dr. Thomas Grant, who has looked after me for several years at EVMS.

My last visit was with a resident at EVMS (who I’d link, but I can’t find her bio right now….Dr. Jodi Newcombe). I was there to follow up with them after my second hospitalization, and to get a prescription refilled. She was one of the residents I recommended to my wife after the one she’d been seeing left. My wife ended up with the other one, who’s since left for a fellowship, but she went with me to my last visit with Dr. Newcombe. “I like her!”

I do normally end up seeing a resident when I’m there; that’s what the clinic is for. At the same time, part of the reason I decided to go there is that when I was looking for regular medical care, I had no idea what the fuck was wrong with me. At a medical school, there should always be more than one opinion.

Sometimes, though, I do think the professors take some sick sadistic pleasure in sticking a rookie resident with me.
“Do you have x or y?”
“Yes.”
“Well, which one?!”
“Both. Depends on the hour. Check my record; I have multiple sclerosis.”
“Oh.” brow furrow “OHHHHH.”

As I said, I went as a followup after my hospital stay in October.

It was also an opportunity to get my flu shot. I don’t know if there’s some academic group that gives them brownie points for handing them out, but I’ve gotten the flu shot every year since I’ve been going there. Magically, I’ve not gotten the flu. It’s like it works or something.

My wife did get the flu last year, so she got hers on the last trip, too.

But the way the clinic works, you’re seen by a resident, then normally the supervising faculty member, like Grant or Newman, comes in to check over whatever the resident did.

Occasionally, they’ll change things. This past spring, I managed to fall getting off the bus. Validating gravity’s function — it’s one of the things those of us with perpetually-numb feet and vertigo issues do. The resident wanted to send me for a bunch of X-Rays; the faculty supervisor came and checked me out, and decided against it.

Yes, I was sore for a long time, but I’ve recovered. Lasting soreness implies I’m getting old or something.

Monday, I’m going up to see if I might be an appropriate candidate for studies at Georgetown.

I did a study on some thing that didn’t work, previously. This failure pretty much made me swear off serving as a test subject, but I am intrigued by this, and think Georgetown might be one of the places on the East Coast where they might try it. I also have zero reservations about using my own cultured stem cells.

We’ll see how it goes.


Thirteen

Nov. 13, 2016, 7:59 a.m.

Let’s start with today’s prompt…

Nervousness. Write about what last made you really nervous.

You know, I don’t really know what makes me nervous anymore. I’ve been through so much, I really don’t know what more there is that could really embarrass me.

There’s things that happen that once would have been a big source of shame that, on account of my condition, I really can’t control. Does my disability make me a bad person? Umm, maybe. Probably me from a decade ago would have been completely unable to understand it, because I did really think there wasn’t much I couldn’t do if I really needed to.

When I left radio in 2005, I was very much at the point where I was saying, “this isn’t working.”

Would I end up going back to school?
Would I end up on the Gulf Coast trying to do my part in rebuilding after Katrina?
Would I be dead?

If you’d told me I’d end up married to someone much younger than I, and very afflicted with MS, I’d have thought you were nuts.

Same goes for if you’d told me that Donald Trump would be elected President. (Hell, that would have been true two years ago.)

So, what inspired this prompt?

Tomorrow I’m off to Georgetown School of Medicine for consultation about potentially being used as a research subject in whatever they’re doing for multiple sclerosis research.

They can do whatever they want to me. If some short-term discomfort can make this nightmare end, okay, I’m willing to try.

So, that’s tomorrow. Up-and-back on Amtrak is a long day, but at least I can do that now.

Hell, me taking Amtrak at all would have evoked the “you’re nuts” response.

Facebook seems to be especially-good at bringing up bad memories, too. Today saw pictures of my destroyed apartment back in 2009. This is the first thing I wrote after the storm.


Cold November Rain – 12/1/2009


So, yeah, I’ve slacked off again, but I have a good fucking excuse this time….

When the remnants of Hurricane Ida turned extra-tropical, and became a Nor’easter, well, Norfolk (and me, personally) got hit pretty hard. It’s been a wild few weeks, and my apartment still isn’t fixed. My dollar damage was just below my insurance deductible, but…..

Four days without power
A week without hot water
Two weeks without laundry in the building

I ended up doing work at the radio station in the middle of the storm. They lost several machines during the power weirdness, and I spent time getting them back running. They’re still using a spare computer of mine as their mail server. What else was I going to do? Not like I had anything to do at home.

Still don’t know when my bedrooms are going to be fixed. Plaster down. Mildew. Stained carpets….

In brighter news, we’re going to see the Saints play the Redskins this weekend. In DC. It might snow.

Can I catch a break sometime?

In the midst of all the chaos, I did, however, finish up the two year project from hell at work. Ironically, a disaster recovery project…..

Notes:
I have to take two buses to do my laundry, so that last complaint is vetoed! 😛 The rest of it does suck, though. [donut] 12/1/2009 8:47:41 PM


Ahh, that is so not cool. 🙁
Hope you had a great time at the game!
[.Red] 1/4/2010 2:29:01 AM


Fourteen

Nov. 14, 2016, 6:18 p.m.

On being sick.

I understand why I chose this prompt for this date.  I wrote much of this on the train heading to Washington DC to visit the folks at Georgetown School of Medicine.  I wrote a bit about it recently.

The potential to get some of my life back would be worth getting my femurs drilled and Humira, or chemotherapy.

This is not a condition I’d wish on my worst enemy.  (And if you know who my worst enemy is, please let me know, because I really don’t know who’d that’d be at this point.  There is one individual I’ve dealt with professionally, recently, that I’d just assume never speak to again, but…)

So, I find myself trying to decide what would be the best way to tackle this.

The less-pleasant parts I really don’t feel like relating, but they’re all a part of the overall experience.

The most maddening part, though, is not one of the more disgusting things, honestly.  I really am nearly blind these days.  When I was younger, I’d say that I’d much rather lose my vision than my hearing.  I was working in radio, and there was the big story about the things Rush Limbaugh was going through with his opioid0induced hearing loss.

Obviously, working in radio without being able to hear would be very difficult.  But doing just about anything without decent vision is just as tough.

No, I really can’t see what you’re pointing out.

No, I can’t tell the difference between those colors.  (And this is more than being lectured on the differences among cream, Ivory, and other shades of white.)

Saturday, we took my mother to the football game between her alma mater, and my wife’s school.  Not only did her school not even who up, I couldn’t really see anything that was going on on the field.  Getting up and down to our sets with the stadium steps with no handrails was difficult enough, but…..

It was also rather chilly.  Normally the cold doesn’t bother me much anymore, unless I’m out in it for a long time.

So, not a particularly enjoyable experience.  I think my mom had a good time, though, which is what matters.  She and my wife got to experience the sorts of things I deal with being reliant upon public transportation.  You can get pretty much where you need to go, but it takes a long time.  I guess it took probably about 40 minutes to get from our place to the university;  it’s fifteen by car.

At the same time, it probably cost as much in transit fare as it’d have cost to park near the stadium.    And no need for a long-distance walk.

I can still walk some, sorta.  I’m good for about a block and a half most days.

Trying to get though this is annoying me.  I guess I’ll revert to the list from NMSS.  It might be easier to say which of those more common symptoms I don’t have.

I really don’t have emotional changes or cognitive changes.  The others listed I do have to some extent.

The less common symptoms, really, I only deal with a few.

–cut–

So, the appointment went okay.  I have a prompt for a couple of days in the future to write about it more thoroughly.

At this point, since I’m on the Tysabri, I should stick on that until it quits working, or I test positive for JC Virus.

Who knows.

Initial impression:  They’ve got their stuff together, and I think I’d be happy to be treated there if/when we move up.  It’s probably an older facility, but they’re doing some of the newer interesting research work.  That matters to me.

Much as I appreciate EVMS, MS isn’t a big focus.  If I had diabuatteus /Wilford_Brimley_voice, I’d be interesting.

As I said, I will see what happens.

We are sticking with the same insurance arrangement as this year  Yes, it’s going to cost something like $120/mo. more.  Yes, it’s all after-tax.  But I’m in a strange employment situation, and this is what I have to deal with courtesy the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

That’s probably going to go away with the minor change in government, but I’m sure it’s going to take awhile.

I could probably write more, but I’m tired. My current debate is whether I try to make it in to the office tomorrow. Or work from home. I don’t know.


Fifteen

Nov. 15, 2016, 4:30 p.m.

Okay, I’m supposed to find something I wrote five years ago, and say how things are the same or different.

From NoJoMo 2011:


NJM Day 15 – 11/15/2011


1. Using a maximum of 15 songs, what is the playlist of your life so far?

This one is really tough, because my life’s been so damn odd. It’s funny that I’m having trouble answering this one considering the seemingly always-on playlist running through my head.

Probably stems from time spent working in radio….

What I have noticed lately is that certain songs do have that sort of emotional effect on me I once thought impossible….people getting overly emotional about a song. I just didn’t get it when I was younger. I guess I sort of do, now. But more than that, I think I notice the songwriter’s emotions more these days, perhaps appreciate them more.

This is especially true when it comes to relationship emotions. Before I met my wife, I though a lot of the romantic sentiments were hokey; having now felt the same things, I understand.

Since my dad died last year, I’ve been unable to get a full listen in to Love Without End, Amen by George Strait. Pops up on random on iTunes, comes over the radio, whatever, I can’t listen, even all the way to the first chorus.

But, as for what’s describing me now, I have no idea. What I put up with I don’t think is captured perfectly by any one song. I’m tired. There’s songs that capture that, but not tired in the way I’m tired. Not in pain the way I’m in pain.

2. What comes to mind when you hear the term “comfort food?” Share the recipe (if it has a recipe) and why it is your comfort food.

I think most people think of old-fashioned homemade stuff; you’re not going to find a reasonable example at TGIRubilibees. Can I think of a single specific one? No, not right now. So how’s it made? Chances are, the recipe starts with, “first you make a roux…”

3. Aside from money, if you could have anything, but only one more thing than you currently have, what would you get, and why?

A long break. Without pain. Material things mean so little to me these days.

Notes:


~hugs~ I wish there was a miracle for us. Have you tried that Low Dose Naltrexone therapy? I did, but it didn’t work for me. [Cats Rule] 11/18/2011 2:36:27



This was one I wrote from prompts. I don’t know, really, that a lot has changed.

I am still tired. Exhausted.

When I wrote that entry five years ago, I was just a few weeks removed from my honeymoon. Yes, there was stress involved with that due to the travel. Even when we were there, we spent a lot of time worrying about getting one place or another. See this. Do that. Visit these people.

Aside from our time actually on the train, maybe we didn’t spend enough time just relaxing as the two of us.

Since then, it’s only gotten worse.

She’s in school. I’m bouncing back-and-forth to doctors’ appointments. On top of really not having enough money to do much of anything.

I’m reminded of Office Space, and the discussion between Peter and Lawrence. What would you do if you were rich enough that you didn’t have to work?

Other than two chicks at the same time, nothing.

Unfortunately, I’m in no position to do that.  In my current role, I don’t even get paid holidays, much less leave and sick leave.

In the job I had five years ago, I got four weeks’ comprehensive leave.  Oh, and I wasn’t going to be paying $700/mo. for health insurance.

I apologize in the turn into curtness, here.  This afternoon’s meeting signaled that my situation is not at all unique.

But it doesn’t mean I should be okay with it, either.

I have my Georgetown appointment recap penciled-in for Thursday.  Maybe by then I’ll have more to say.  Right now, there’s not much.


Sixteen

Nov. 16, 2016, 5:14 p.m.

I accidentally put in two prompts for my trip to DC.

As I wrote the other day, I’m excited about some of the research being done with MS.  It’s very rare when you see words like “miracle” coming out of trials.

The neurologist who saw me was definitely tracking with me, but they didn’t really have anything where I’d fit in nicely.  She thinks I’m doing well on Tysabri.

The message exchange with my local near follows:

Thank you for the updates
All the supplements for the most part sound reasonable, are being studied in MS.
Hope you are otherwise doing well.
Dr. K
—– Message —–
From: BERGERON,SEAN
Sent: 11/16/2016 10:25 AM EST
To: Michelle B Kuczma, DO
Subject: Non-Urgent Medical Question

Dr. Kuczma,

I did go to Georgetown Monday. Unfortunately, they really don’t have anything they think I’d slot into well as a research target. If I wasn’t on Tysabri, and doing well, they might have something. Nothing yet on the remyleinization (sp?) studies.

I will stay in contact with the doctor to see if they’ve got anything that pops up. I told them they could contact you, or EVMS if they’ve got questions about what’s up with me.

She did recommend the following suppliants:

1000 mg flax seed oil per day.
5000 mcg Biotin 3x/day
1000 mcg B12 sublingual in the mornings.

Thoughts?

–sb

The trip, itself, was stressful.  Maybe I’ll write some more about it tomorrow.  I am very near the end of my Tysabri charge.  On the bright side, I do kind of feel okay overall.  The folks in the office did make those sorts of comments when I went into the office today.

By about 1510, my eyes were really going crazy, so I left.  It took almost two hours to get home.  Every seat on the bus filled as we headed south.

I will write more tomorrow when I have some time to breathe.  The long weekend will be greatly-appreciated.


Seventeen

Nov. 17, 2016, 4:44 p.m.

I accidentally had a second prompt for my trip to Georgetown.

That happened, and I described a bit of it yetsterday.

Takeaways I didn’t cover yesterday:

  • I don’t understand Shake Shack. My wife was very excited that there’s one in Union Station in DC. Once again, I got a chicken somethingortheother, fries, and a beer before getting on the train. I don’t know if there’s a more emphatic “meh” that I can muster. It was okay. I tried my wife’s burger. Same. This was one of those things I’d missed. I mean, there’s worse places to eat, certainly, but I just don’t get the fanaticism.
  • The neurologist I saw said I have an odd speech pattern. I don’t think my speaking style is much different than it used to be (and hasn’t changed because of the MS). My cadence was definitely affected by being on the radio all those years. Maybe it’s odd-sounding; I don’t know.
  • Uber is tough for those of us who don’t see very well. I guess we were trying to get into the wrong Mazda at Georgetown. Oops. I apologize.
  • Saints at Panthers tonight. I’m kinda okay with the Thursday Night games at this point. I do realize that it probably fucks up teams’ schedules pretty severely. It also fucks up planning for….
  • Fantasy Football. I do appreciate the folks who’ve joined the K-Gun Memorial FFL. Sarah, Stu, Missy, TMac, et. al.. It’s been fun. I do wish there was smore more discussion on the message board, but, then, there’s only so many times you can laugh at Cowboys’ fans, and the Ryan twins.
  • Snapping out of the fantasy, hwoever, I do really enjoy some of what I’m seeing happen in the league this year. I’ve rooted for the Redskins for over twenty years now, but I don’t hate the Cowboys. In fact, I would still argue that Tom Landry was the best coach in NFL history. The Cowboys’ style of play this year is exactly the sort of football I enjoy. Same goes for the Raiders, Iggles, and Lions. Even the Saints have come home to quality football, perhaps in spite of Payton and Brees. The Air Coryell/43 combination still works.

With those out of the way, what else do I have to say….?

I’m trying to keep an open mind about the electoral results. This, really, could be real change in Washington. Notsomuch due to the Trump surrogates’ bigotry, but because at least it’s a completely new crowd.

Regardless of what happens, it’s not going to be an administration full of recycled Ford and Clinton folks (which is what we saw with the last two administrations). If an opportunity presented itself to get me to DC to work in the Administration, I don’t know that I’d turn it down. (Though they probably would want nothing to do with me after I didn’t vote for them…..)


Eighteen

Nov. 18, 2016, 4:01 p.m.

Write about three things you did for the first time in the past year.

Okay, so three things I’ve done this year that I’d never done before.  Please excuse the odd organization;  i started with bullets, and I’m not sure if that was the correct way to go.  There’s multiple paragraphs for each.  Of course, if I was writing a DoD PowerPoint presentation, they’d be awesome.

Anyway, on to it….

  • Ate a raw oyster. A few, actually. They were listed as a specialty at my friend’s restaurant. I’d been considering doing it. The opportunity presented itself, so I went for it. Reaction? Not bad. Probably something I wouldn’t go for often, but it was good. If you want an example of what a nerd I am, in the months leading up to that time, I actually googled how to eat them. Do you chew them? Swallow whole? What? Obviously, roasted or fried you chew, but what of the raw variety. The answers I found said, essentially, take a few bites, let the flavor circulate around your mouth, then swallow. Yes, this is a pretty lukewarm reaction, but I’ve found months later that I have a craving again. It’s the oddest damned thing.
  • Spent a night in the hospital. This one didn’t happen until it was oyster season again. Obviously, they don’t serve those there. Both times were terribly unpleasant. One night the first time, two the second. The second instance was one day shy of a month later. Both were due to infections. Both of different bacteria. Both, ultimately, of the same cause. Protip: when you’re killing your immune system every four weeks, inserting foreign bodies into your body is a really bad idea(TM). Ultimately, I place the blame on one medical provider. I won’t write much about this here because I’m still considering all options (and, yes, that includes whatever legal remedies might be available). But, in my current job, I have no leave at all. None. I don’t even get paid holidays. If I’m not working, I’m not getting paid. I was also completely out-of-control. When I was younger, I prided myself in my ability to put up with nearly anything. Since I got sick, I’ve had to get over that. There’s things that I just can’t control anymore. My body is included in that growing list. That includes my emotions. I’m tempted to go back to some of what I wrote in about 2005 where I felt like I was completely numb to everything. Things have certainly changed. There’ve been high highs, and low lows. Sarah and I chuckle at one of our animated sons, Butters from “South Park,” (And if you know either of us, you can see how that’s our boy….) who was sitting on a curb crying after his girlfriend (a waitress at a place modeled after Hooters) dumped him. Stan was sitting nearby despairing about getting blown out by his new circle of friends. “I’d rather be a crying little pussy than a faggy goth kid.”
  • Walked away from a terrible work situation. Here, I’m talking about my last job. I don’t even try to miss it, knowing I won’t be able to. I’m still on decent terms with a few of the people I encountered, but there’s others I hope I never speak to again. Aside from the last two jobs, I’ve never felt that way before. Again, there’s a lot more I could say on this one, but won’t. I was used. I hope the people responsible have memories so short that they can look themselves in the mirror again someday.

I could write for hours about these, but I think I’ve said enough.  The last one is a bit of a cop-out;  I could have written about the sheer volume of whining about the election.  Oh, you’re going to have a peaceful protest?  Yeah, I give that about half an hour.  Also, nobody cares.  The Commonwealth of Virginia supported a loser.  Again.  This has been true many times in the past.  So, too, that I voted for whoever lost.

But I get it.  I’m a bigot because I didn’t vote for the party of historic racism.  Hmmmm…okay.


Nineteen

Nov. 19, 2016, 8:25 a.m.

This prompt has been difficult. I have a draft of some extensive writing that I’ll probably recycle parts of later. But I’m going to do this as simply as I can.

Recap of your year month-by-month.
January
Went to Shmoocon. Didn’t find a new job there, but did eat oysters.
February
Cold. Work continued to suck.
March
Not as cold. Work kept sucking.
April
Accepted a new job, and got the fuck out of the hell I’d been in.
May
Sorta started working the new job. Ended up going to DC for a GS interview, anyway. Interviewed for a GS slot down here, got an offer, and turned it down. Sorry, I saw my salary revert to 2007-levels in 2013. I’m not going back to 2004.
June
Settling into something resembling normal back at home.
July
That’s hot. I was working from home a lot because of the oppressive heat. I started writing in the month before my birthday.
August
I got older. Football.
September
Hospital stay number one.
October
Hospital stay number two.

November is underway. No hospital stays. fingers crossed December is TBD.


Twenty

Nov. 20, 2016, 1:43 p.m.

Kind of a nadir in my motivation today. Yesterday, I apologized to the wall for hitting it; Friday’s infusion can’t get here fast enough.

Thankfully, I think I’m free of medical adventures this week, otherwise.

So, onto the prompt.

What did you want to be when you grew up? What are you, actually?

What did I want to be? You know, I don’t really know. There were several things. Obviously, a star in whatever sport was in season. (Except for, maybe, hockey, which I never could really get into.)

My dad was a soldier, so the military always had allure.

As a kid in the 90s, the space program was also something I paid a lot of attention to. The idea of space shuttles making regular trips to…yeah, I could do that. Until that cold day in 1986. (All the teachers had been watching in the smoking/teachers’ lounge while we were at lunch….after the accident, they gathered all of the classes of my grade into a single classroom and told us through tears, as that’d been the mission with the teacher aboard.)

But it wasn’t too long before I caught the radio bug. From listening to Royals’ gams on my He-Man AM radio in Kansas to listening to stuff on AFRTS/AFN out of Stuttgart (certainly the first place I was Rick-rolled.)

When we came back to the States, my dad was stationed at the Pentagon, so I was immersed in late-80s/early-90s DC zookeepers. Don & Mike. The Greaseman, who’d replaced Howard Stern, etc.

After another stint in Germany, and a year in exile in South Central PA, I started to seriously consider doing it for a living.

I didn’t have a great voice.
I didn’t speak terribly clearly.

I thought I could figure it out, though.

I took telecommunications classes in high school, where I did a bit of voiceover work for TV. Again, it wasn’t really my forte, but it was something I enjoyed.

I won an Air Force ROTC scholarship in high school.

I ended up not accepting the scholarship. Not only did I have concerns about being able to meet the physical requirements, I’d failed the uncorrected vision test during my physical. At the time (and it may still be true), if you couldn’t test 20/20, you couldn’t fly. So, no chance of even doing something like driving a C-130, ala Rick Perry.

I would be doing something on the ground. That didn’t sound too interesting.

Furthermore, I wouldn’t have been able to choose my own major. I was provided a list of majors, told to rank my top five, then they would tell me what I would be.

There was also the issue of finding a school with Air Force ROTC. I really only had the option of schools in Mississippi. My dad was on active duty, and a Texas resident. I had a Mississippi driver’s license. I was downloaded in Florida, so I was looking at Florida State.

I think Mississippi State was the only school that had both the engineering programs I would have had to choose. I wasn’t enthused by Starkville. (Though it was better than the promise of disownership my parents gave had I chosen Ole Miss….) Nor was I enthused by the other part of the deal with the Air Force scholarship. I would be on call as a reserve enlisted Airman for the time I was in college. After I finished, I’d be on active duty for at least four years, but they could choose to make me stay on active duty for eight.

The prospect of devoting, potentially, the next twelve years of my life to the Air Force without being able to fly didn’t sound at all like something I wanted to do. One of my high school football coaches had played at the Air Force Academy. I really didn’t envy him running the weather detachment at a remote Army Airfield.

What sealed the deal was FSU’s determination that I wouldn’t qualify for in-state tuition.

On my dad’s urging, I applied at Christopher Newport University. I enrolled in Army ROTC, which didn’t have the same sort of reserve requirements, and only a two-year commitment following graduation.

The ROTC situation at CNU was strange. We were cross-enrolled at William & Mary. While our classes were at CNU for the first two years, the third year was split between CNU and W&M. The fourth year was pretty much all at W&M.

Whatever. It was cheaper for me to go to CNU as an in-state student without a scholarship than it would have been for me to go to FSU on scholarship.

I tried hard to make sure I won an Army scholarship. Of the about 70 of those of us in the CNU first and second year programs, I think only one eventually got a scholarship and was commissioned. A friend ended up dropping out of school, and enlisting in the Army. He went to warrant officers’ school, and won the distinguished flying cross in Iraq.

After my first year, though, I was behind. I was having trouble meeting the physical requirements. I could run an awful long way, just not very quickly. I was fine on sit-ups, but iffy on push-ups.

I got along with the instructor my first year. The second year, notsomuch. Between her, and the W&M product LTC who wasn’t going to make COL, and was serving out his time so he could retire with more money, I judged my prospects of a scholarship as pretty low.

I dropped out of ROTC. The steady sting of Bs in ROTC was bringing down my GPA, anyway.

I got a job at the Go-Kart track at the post my dad used to command. The following summer, I got a job doing Master Control at a local UHF TV group. The work wasn’t terribly exciting, but it paid my meager bills. Even though the shifts were long, after I’d done the prep programming (tape sequencer) for the shift, I was basically just there monitoring things for the rest of the shift. That gave me time to read, and do a bit of writing on my school assignments.

It wasn’t a bad few months, really. I could have seen myself working there for a long time. I’d scheduled my classes so that I could be in class during the day, and tending the station nights and weekends. I did some camera work for, of all things, women’s fast pitch softball.

Then the cable merger came (courtesy the Communications Act of 1996). One of the big cable companies had bought up a bunch of smaller local cable companies. Because of that, the stations were not powerful-enough to meet must-carry requirements throughout the area. While the station had something like 85% market coverage, it was on three different frequencies over the air. Wanting another cable channel, the big company decided to pull the local station. I, along with everyone else, got laid off.

During my final two weeks, I decided to go check in on Tony Macrini, who was doing a promotion somewhat close to home. I told him what was going on, and he told me to send him a resume, and a tape.

Shortly thereafter, I got a call from Dave Morgan to set up an interview.

I went down for an interview.

Since I didn’t have a tape to send, he picked up a piece of paper from his desk, and told me to read it. It was Art Bell’s resignation address.

You can read. You’ve got a good voice. We pay seven buck an hour.
Okay.
So, you have a wife and kids?
No.
Ah, so a single guy. You have another gig; this isn’t many hours.
Yeah, I’m a college student.
Wait a minute. How old are you?
Nineteen.

I was working Friday and Saturday nights. I had something like two breaks an hour, and could read/write the rest of the time.

Within the next year, I was working six days per week. Not a ton of airtime doing live assist work, but I did get to do things like write local news and weather forecasts.

I also took on repairing some of the broken IT stuff around. That wheezing 286 running the AP wire? Yeah, I can fix that.

After I graduated, I eventually was moved to doing mostly iT work. When I left seven years after I started, I was only on the air maybe two hours per week. The rest of my time, I was dealing with broken PCs for the rest of the staff.

In 2005, I started doing real government engineering work. I’ve been doing specifically IT work since late 2007.

Could I elaborate a lot more? Absolutely. Am I going to stop now? Yep.

Two-thirds of the way through.


Twenty-one

Nov. 21, 2016, 5:01 p.m.

Write about something you’ve had to re-learn.The impetus for this was something too personal to write about publicly.

As my nerves stop working, I’ve had to re-learn lots of things.

Many of them are attributable to my limited eyesight, unsteady balance.

I learn to do things one-handed, so I can steady myself with the other.

Perhaps oddly, I find myself doing a lot more things from the sinister side.

The neurologist I saw at Georgetown said I was a lefty. I don’t even. Maybe it’s that I’m wearing my Fitbit on my right wrist, and carrying my cane in my right hand, leaving my left free to do other things.

shrug

The TV news is doing pre-fab stories about smartphone apps for cooking. Yeah, about that.

How about just printing the recipe?

Part of my fun the past few days has involved getting my 401K funds from the company that shall not be named. I didn’t even think about the pittance I’d contributed when I finally GTFO of that hellhole until I got a notice that they were paying me a penalty and interest for a mistake they’d made.

I’m trying to be surprised.

But they’re giving me the run-around on getting it rolled over into my IRA.

Again, trying to be surprised.

I seriously need my Tysabri infusion. It’s weird; I’m exhausted, but not terribly sleepy.

This is a Monday for me.

At least there should be an interesting game tonihgttonight.

Apologies, to quote Katy, to my non-existant reader, but I really don’t have a ton to say today.


Twenty-two

Nov. 22, 2016, 4:32 p.m.

Write about your recycling habits..

My recycling habits…..ummm, I try to do the “right things,” but it’s tough for me in my current situation.

I can’t haul shit (and there’s the George Carlin bit about “shit” versus “stuff”) to the recycling center; I don’t drive.

Today, of course, the news outlets will be recycling shit from 1963. (And ignoring that the President remembers it about as well as I remember Reagan being shot….)

I do try to use up what I have. Case-in-point: the prompt a few days ago about describing the year month-by-month.

I wrote a lot, but none of it really fit with the prompt. It was also a lot of bitching about my string of horrible jobs. I will probably use bits of it as I spew more bits from this scarred brain of mine.

I recycle other things, too. Leftovers. Like that strange Korean beef my wife didn’t like; that went into my lunch.

Is that really recycling, though? Good question.

You look at the economics on it, until very recently, the only thing that it made any economic sense to recycle was alumnium. I haven’t bothered to check whether that’s still true. I would guess that with the collapse in the oil market, it probably still is.

The Green EnergyAlchemy Economy we were so loudly promised in 2008 got knocked off the shelf by one of the fracking-induced earthquakes.

There haven’t been increases in carbon taxes. Al Gore’s vaunted cap-and-trade scheme didn’t happen.

But this was the answer.

Well, that, along with CFLs from GE.

I’m trying to decide if there’s anything else to say. I’m rather surprised I didn’t get unfriended by someone who proudly proclaimed that she was pruning her Facebook friends list of anyone who disagreed with her politics.

(Disclaimmer: there aren’t many who agree with me, and that’s okay. Hell, my wife and I disagree on a lot. Funny story, though. One of her professors is a local politician with whom I got into a Twitter spat years ago. A different friend posted something she’d written in the local birdcage liner about how to fix the Electoral College. She said pretty much the same stuff I’ve been saying for years.)

It does take me back to college where I was accused by a counterpart in the Student Government Association of being far too egalitarian for anyone to like. The take was along the lines of, “everybody would get what they need, but nobody would be happy.”

When it comes to things like recycling, the same is true. I probably bother the hell out of “both sides,” as I lack the faith of one side, as well as the skepitcism of the other.

Whatever. It’s who I am.

I would say, “so recycle me!”

But the medical establishment won’t even take my blood, courtesy some beef eaten in England in 1988.

Oh well.


Twenty-three

Nov. 23, 2016, 3:22 p.m.

Obligatory:  Nobody likes you when you’re 23.

What are your plans for tomorrow, since it’s turkey day in the US

Morning:  Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
1300:  Lions’ Game.  I don’t remember who they’re playing.  Detroit were the first with a Thanksgiving game, adn I kinda dig that.  It’s a shame that they are only pre-merger NFL team to not even appear in a Super Bowl since the merger.  (The Cardinals and Failcons have both lost one.  The Vikings have lost four.)
1600:  Redskins at Cowboys.  Even if there was going to be snow in Dallas this year, you wouldn’t be able to see it thanks to the Jerrydome.  For everything that sucked about Texas Stadium (the weird crown in the middle of the field, the Cowbosy, their fans, etc.), at least there was some weather.  (Even if the rain was God crying about seeing how awful the Cowboys were…..)  I don’t know what to think about AT&T ((whateveritis)).  It’s big.  The screen over the middle of the field is now just tacky.  (Insert whatever snipe you’d like along the lines of, “what else would you expect in Dallas?”)

Dinner will happen somewhere in there.  It’s just my wife and I together this year.  We’ve been together ten years, married six, and this will be the first one that’s just us.  I’m letting her handle all the preparations.  Our little galley-sized kitchen doesn’t really lend itself to grand preparations.  Then there’s the fact that it’s just the two of us eating.

Other than turkey, pumpkin cheesecake, and some sort of cranberry cocktail she found, I’m not sure what’s on the menu.  She was planning some sort of roasted root vegetable medley, but couldn’t find parsnips or something.  (I think I can count on one finger the number of times I’ve knowingly eaten parsnips.  When we took my mom out for her birthday last year, the restaurant had some sort of root vegetable bisque that I ordered.  It was remarkably good.)

Later, I’m tempted not to watch the night game.  Though I’m really happy to see that there’s a game with an AFC team, I am not particularly fond of the Colts or the Stilluhrs.  (On the bright side, Roethlisberger Girl probably will have no problem finding a place to sit in Indianapolis….)  But these are two bad teams with blitz-happy gimmick 3-4 defenses.  To quote Ke$ha, “you can’t imagine the immensity of the fuck I’m not giving.”  At least the Lions aren’t terrible this year, playing someone else terrible.

But I’m ready for the long break.  The only thing I have planned for Friday is my Tysabri infusion first thing in the morning. December, too, should be rather uneventful.  I only have three visits to the white coat brigades.  My brother and SIL are supposed to visit for Christmas, now that they’re back from Texas.

I wish some of the time I have off was paid, but at least I’m no longer in the previous hellhole.

Speaking of the previous hellhole, when I left, they gave me zero exit paperwork.  The disability policy I signed up for lapsed. (I won’t say too much about how they defrauded me on it, because when I went to use it, it didn’t cover something they said it would when I signed up….)  The vision insurance lapsed, though that really wasn’t a big deal since I’d been paying for private vision insurance on top of whatever this providedl.  It was also only something like ten bucks a month.  The lack of exit paperwork saw that I didn’t get the information about rolling over my tiny 401K.

I wouldn’t have even thought about it;  I try to think as little as possible about those _(negative slur)___s.  I did end up thinking about it, however, when they sent me notification that they were paying me penalties and interest for an error they’d made with a company match.

Oh, y’all fucked it up?  How can I feign surprised?  Now, how do I roll over the pittance to my IRA, because there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d ever work for you _(negative slur)___s again.

So, what happens?  They sent me a form to fill out that said I couldn’t sign electronically.  The best business practices of 1985. Even a wire transfer of the funds would cost me money.  The only free way to get my pittance takes weeks.  We’ll see when I actually get my money.

I also need to roll over my much-larger 401K from the place where I worked 2007-2013.  They switched financial services providers, and rolled all my stuff over.  Recently, they went back to the original company.  I called the original company to do a rollover, and the new, since-abandoned, company still had my account.  What?

I thought there was a chance I’d go back to work for the long-term company  at some point, but considering how long it’s been, it’s probably never happening.

Further, considering what I’ve learned since they cast me off, there’d need to be more than a bit of a sales job on it.  While they weren’t doing any of the criminal shit, themselves, I had suspicions that something untoward was going on.  I told the division manager explicitly not to hire one guy.  I didn’t know what was going on, exactly, but I was concerned about the too-close relationship between him, and someone in the government.

Both will be in Federal Pound-Me-In-The-Ass Prison for several more years.  (The guy I told them not to hire was the bagman for the quarter-million dollars worth of bribes the govvie was getting…..)

Back to Thanksgiving, though.  When I left radio, my first Thanksgiving “free” involved an extended drive to Florida in a box truck the day after the holiday.

The next year, I was actually back on the air at WNIS, filling in for someone.

That is weird;  it’ll be ten years since I was last on the air.


Twenty-four

Nov. 24, 2016, 3:04 a.m.

Free Write.

It’s just after three in the morning, and I’m writing because I’m “woke as fuck<” or something. (Isn’t that what the kids are writing these days? I blame the folks over at Mouthy Broadcast for that one.)

Was strange figuring out yesterday that it’s been a decade now since I was last on the radio.

I picked through some of my old diary archive to see what I’d written about for Thanksgiving, and there’s really not that much. I have something from 2002 about watching Danny Wuerffel play quarterback for the Redskins in Dallas.

There’s some about the last one with my dad, which was the first one with my new bride.

Since then, it’s been bits and pieces about where I’ve been, but nothing major.

i think what’s more interesting is that there were a few strange ones that I didn’t write about.

Driving all the way to Charleston, SC one year on Thanksgiving Day, because I’d had to work the night before. I think Ryan Leaf was playing Quarterback for the Cowboys. It was nasty weather on I-95; maybe even some snow in NC.

I also didn’t write about a very odd Thanksgiving where I ended up at some friends’ place because their mom didn’t want me having zero Thanksgiving. I think my family had gone out of town, and I was home working, and taking care of the dogs.

Thanksgiving was always a big thing with my mom’s family. I guess her grandparents held large gatherings (well, considering they had eleven kids, that was probably unavoidable) where the family would come gather.

My own memories, though, aren’t so marinated with family. As a kid, we were always somewhere away, and I can only think of a couple of times where we met up with family. I don’t remember people ever coming to see us; as if there was a way to get people to Europe. Or Kansas. Or Pennsylvania. Or Northern Virginia.

I might have mentioned that this is the first Thanksgiving that’s just Sarah and me. My SIL got relocated back to the East Coast, so my mom’s up in NoVA visiting her and my brother at their new place. I’m actually looking forward to just a night of the two of us. That also means I probably ought to try to go back to sleep.

Recycling back from OD, this was from 2012, which was the last sorta-okay year I had. I was still making okay money, still owned a car, etc.. I pruned the notes; they didn’t say that much, really.


NoJoMo Day 24 – 11/24/2012


Yeah, so was at my mom’s for belated Thanksgiving dinner. It went. Whatever. I’ll write more tomorrow.

1. What was the last thing that gave you a sense of wonder?
I honestly don’t know. With limited vision, it’s tough to get wonderment, you know?

2. Name a totally useless possession and how you came to own it.
There are many. I probably ought to pick one, no?


Both prompts are bigger problems today, four years later.


Twenty-five

Nov. 25, 2016, 10:44 a.m.

How was turkey day for you. If you’re celebrating on a different day, please elaborate (like my friends in Soviet Canuckistan).

Other than all the football after the Lions’ game, it was pretty good. My wife cooked some good food, and it was just the two of us together.

It was nice not being on somebody else’s schedule. We ate when we felt like it. We weren’t waiting for people to arrive. We weren’t worried about how long we needed to stick around after dinner. We weren’t worried about leftovers division. We weren’t worried about transportation.

She actually made and drank cocktails, then was dismayed that she’d started in on it before she could Instagram it. Yes, these are the sorts of things a Millenial white girl pretends she’s concerned about.

Unfortunately, sleep afterwards was hard in coming. I dozed off during the Colts-Stilluhrs barn-burner, then had trouble staying asleep overnight. I had my monthly Tysabri infusion this morning, so I was going to have to be up early, anyway.

I’m tired, and have been since my medical procedure last week. It’ll be a few days before things settle out.

It is nice that it’s been more than a month now since I was spending a night in the hospital. Things in the problem area seem to be behaving better, but I need to get back on a more-normal schedule.

The repairman finally started repairing our walls today, more than a month after the storm. At the same time, it’s not as bad as it was during the Nor’easter back in 2009.

Facebook decided that I needed to see pictures of that. Seven years ago…

Facebook has also taken to randomly deleting friends. Unlike the pox on humanity that is LinkedIn, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done that on purpose.

Speaking of LinkedIn, I had a recruiter champing at the bit a few weeks ago to hire me. We spoke, and she was working for one of the companies I’d pretty much sworn to never work for. I told her directly that it’d be a very hard sell. Paraphrasing, “okay, well, let’s talk later this week to see if there’s other opportunities that might be a better fit! My managers are very excited to hear from you!”

Then dead silence since. \^/hatever. Although there are things that frustrate me, I generally like what I’m doing now.


Twenty-six

Nov. 26, 2016, 10:54 a.m.

Bumping this up a day, because there’s a lot to say.

Small Business Saturday. Write about small businesses you frequent.

Fitting that this falls on the morning that the death of Fidel Castro goes public. Amazingly, their scientific research into the inevitability of Socialism led them to allow small business a few months ago.

For the American left, small businesses are similarly bad. They do whatever they want with their profits, which may not serve a larger purpose. That money should go straight to Goldman Sachs, right, Senator Schemer?

Perhaps unremarkably, as I look in on Facebook, I’m not seeing a lot of the left comment with despair about their dear comrade’s passing. No, it’s still kvetching about Trump being elected President. Newsflash, y’all, more than half of people voted against Hillary Clinton. Her campaign propaganda convinced me to not vote for Trump, but did nothing to sway me to vote for her.

Castro being gone, though, probably doesn’t mean a lot until the wheezing hulk of his Stalinist dictatorship finally collapses. Even the “good example” of Venezuela is teetering now.

The subjugation of the individual has never worked, and will never work.

But back to those evil small businesses, whose profits don’t flow into Boomers’ inflated 401Ks…

This morning, I went to MacArthur Pharmacy. I had a prescription I needed to pick up, but I also bought a few more things I needed. I also, because I like paying regressive taxes, bought some lottery tickets. It is a vice, but that’s okay so long as I buy it from the Commonwealth.

(If I could support a local liquor store, I’d probably go stock up on gin and rye. I’m low on both. Unfortunately, as I said above, vice is okay in Virginia, so long as you buy it from the Commonwealth. I’d have to go to ABC, which does nothing for small business. I also confuse the shit out of the progressive hipsters when I say if only weed is legalized in Virginia, you should have to buy it from the ABC stores….)

Later, I may head over to CURE for something to eat and drink. I was there during one of their first days open. I’m glad to see they’ve persisted. It is a little amusing to see the hipster intelligentsia complain about how many strollers are present these days. Umm, newsflash, as the last of Gen X, there weren’t many of us to begin with. Compounding the issue, because everyone was so worried about catching “teh AIDS,” we didn’t accidentally many babbies. There’s a lot of people just younger than we who are in prime baby-making age. Deal.


Twenty-seven

Nov. 27, 2016, 4:07 a.m.

I bumped the one about Small Business to yesterday, as I had something to say. So, yesterday’s prompt today.

This is coming very early, as I’m all sorts of fucked on my sleep schedule. Thankfully, I don’t think there’s any late football I want to see.

What is your favorite food? (H/T to someone on PB)

I’ve come to appreciate all sorts of things, but I think I’d have to go with things considered French bistro fare. Beef Bourguignon, Coq-au-vin. We’re supposed to be having Croque-Monsieur for dinner tonight before I slog my way back into the office.

I mentioned my oyster experience a few days ago; I’m intrigued by mussels. I do have to admit that I’m more than a little nervous about them, though, after reading somewhere that they were one of the things where you were most likely to get bad food. (Bourdain, maybe?)

One of my favorite places, Bistrot du Coin was something we found by happenstance on a trip to DC years ago. We were up in Woodley Park, and were looking for some nommables. I think I found it on the now-defunct UrbanSpoon app, so we went.

Fries done in duck fat. My wife (then-fiancee) thoroughly enjoyed.

We’ve been back many times since. With my godcousin after my dad’s burial at Arlington. Other times we’ve stayed at the Washington Hilton. On the layover in DC between trains going to New Orleans for our honeymoon.

It’s been more difficult lately, though. Part of what one of my longtime neurologists recommended for me was a diet that’s low in iron. Under that regime, I got four ounces of red meat per week. There’s a lot of beef in French cuisine, unfortunately.

Though I never did see the movie (Julie and Julia?), one year for Christmas, I did get the Mastering the Art of French Cooking books. (Obligatory classic SNL Clip.)

Nice aperitif, glass of wine with the food, digestif or beer after dinner. And I’m in my happy place.

Have I succinctly answered this one? I don’t know. There’s nothing that I could say I could eat every day. (Also, if I was to cop-out, and say something like “good French bread,” would it still only be one if I needed butter for that bread most of the time? Is coffee your favorite drink if you always need something that goes in it? Aside, for my medical procedure a few weeks ago, I couldn’t have creamer in my coffee. I had to use only sugar. I almost never put sugar in my coffee. But it worked. On the few days a month that I do drink coffee, I make it in a single-serving French press. I don’t drink enough coffee to justify anything else.)

So, that’s that. I didn’t do anything other than the pharmacy for Small Business Saturday. Wasn’t feeling up to it. It also seems as if we didn’t win the Powerball drawing. Again, regressive tax, and vice peddled by the Commonwealth, but I can be reckless a few times per year. (Though that doesn’t mean I’m going to order modules in a restaurant that probably doesn’t serve them every day. Or try to cook them myself in our tiny kitchen. Hell, I don’t even cook fish here out of fear of the stench.)

Three days left, but the words are flowing again. I may not see worth a damn, but I still can sorta type.


Twenty-eight

Nov. 28, 2016, 5:51 p.m.

Free Write.

I thought I might be able to recycle some of what I wrote last week here. I looked, and none of it seems to fit. Oh well.

It was largely about my employment travails over the past almost four years. It comes back to what I wrote about regarding forgiveness. Should I, can I, and will I?

I’ve really had to think more about those with what happened with the four-letter company. The answers are still “no,” “yes,” and “maybe.” I understand what happened. I understand that they were lazy and cheap. But, hey, they’d been doing this a long time, and had all the answers for how to do the work. It’d go perfectly, because of their expertise.

And they got to that level of expertise by wearing white-collared colored shirts, suspenders and a belt, and proving how good they are at playing minesweeperbuying certifications. (If I had some motivation, I’d find a way to strike through that “buying,” to replace it with the more palatable “earning.”)

I don’t want to talk about that anymore, however. My focus right now is doing what I am paid to do, now, and deal with the remnants of the previous disasters as I have an opportunity. Still progressing through my OODA loops, wishing I could act on several things at once. Unfortunately, my physical limitations definitely affect the length of my OODA loops.

Like today; I was just completely out-of-gas by about 1600.

That sort of explains why this was a little late today. Two more days. I will make it.


Twenty-nine

Nov. 29, 2016, 4:06 p.m.

What are your holiday plans for Christmas?

There’s not a lot set in stone so far. I know my brother and his wife are coming down to my mom’s place, so we’ll head up there at some point to see them.

We will also go visit my in-laws.

Plan to take a trip with my wife sometime after she finishes her semester. Probably just a couple of nights in DC; maybe a weekend. We’ll see.

I don’t have any leave, and will essentially have to take Christmas as an unpaid holiday.

It’d be nice to go somewhere that we don’t have to worry about much for a week or so, but finances and her school commitments don’t allow it.

Similarly, Bud Light is having a sort of golden ticket promotion for the NFL. Get a golden can, and you win season tickets for your favorite team for a year.

How many Saints’ games could I justify attending?
Is it worth buying a twelve-pack of canned Bud Light?
Would it be better to say I’m solely a Redskins’ fan just I could get more use out of the tickets?

Decisions, decisions.

Now the DC trip has me thinking about Indian food, which is what they serve at the place where my friend works.


Thirty

Nov. 30, 2016, 4:23 p.m.

Recap, reaction.

Well, sixth year complete.

I’m not terribly satisfied with what I’ve written, but I did it again.

It really has gotten the writing moving again. This summer’s month didn’t do that as much.

Same goes for work, which is sorta kicking my ass at the moment. But at least I’m getting paid sort of okay again. It would be nice to have some paid leave, other benefits, but…..

(And a bitchy quip deleted.)

I did have most of my prompts ready before the month started. I had to rearrange several, which I’ll touch on later.

So, what went well…

  • Getting it done
  • Post strategy (first the blog, which sucks, then Prosebox)

What didn’t go so well….
Getting the prompts on the right daysSpelling (excusable by the mode of writing a good portion in a text terminal, and I forget to run ispell)Some of the answers to prompts where I had a lot more to say when I came up with the prompt, then forgot when it came time to write

Obviously, it’s been an incredibly eventful month. I’ve seen some things I never thought I’d say. Most of them I never wanted to see.

(When you see someone changing his profile pic on FB to the Anarcho-syndicalism flag, and more quotes from Noam “Distortions at Fourth Hand” Chomsky, you know it’s been rough.

I also grew just a mustache for the first time since I was a teenager. Ostensibly, it was for November. The reality is that I still can’t grow a beard. I thought that this close to forty, I’d be able to pull that off by now. But bald spots, sideburns that don’t connect. Even just the mustache, I have every natural hair color sprouting.

November is finished, though, and I hope I get some time to relax next month. I need it.