Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Arch-villain invades Owasso

An odd advertisement popped up in the local paper. It was under the Help Wanted banner looking for people to apply for jobs as "minions." Now, times are tough and all, but who wants to be called a minion? Still, the ad said there was excellent compensation, opportunities for advancement, and a full benefit package. Out of simple curiosity, I called.

"Hello? Who is calling?" The man's voice was high pitched and crackling, with an annoying fake German accent.

"I'm calling about the ad you placed looking for minions," I began. "What exactly does the job entail?"

"I need assistants to help carry out my plan for world domination! First, we will subdue a small town in Oklahoma for use as a....." He started coughing. The voice sounded familiar even with the phony accent, but when he managed to control the coughing, he began again in a normal voice. "Sorry, that was just too hard on my vocal cords. I'm looking for people who want to help me take over the world. I'm the evil Dr. Wally Crankset."

"Wally!" I've known him since we were kids. "Are you out of your mind?" Rather than a mere rhetorical question, the matter of Wally's sanity was a frequent topic of conversation along the bar at Larry's Cafe. Larry said that Wally was "the dumbest smart guy I ever met!" And yet Larry considered him a friend.

"What's the scheme this time?" I despaired of Wally ever trying to accomplish something through hard work, perseverance, and dogged attention to detail. He claimed to be a 'big picture' guy who let others work out the small stuff. Apparently this time it included minions.

Doing his best to sound offended, Wally said, "There's no scheme. I'm really going to take over the world and I'm going to start in a quiet suburban town just outside of Tulsa. It's called Owasso. They don't have a university, so I'll have to find other work. But it's a bigger town than Broken Elbow and that fits into my plan perfectly."

"So there is a plan this time." I was dubious.

"Actually, it's well thought out and I didn't really have a hand in it. There's a group of investors who want to divert attention away from some of their business and real estate developments, so they've hired me as a sort of lightning rod. There was another guy working here who had the same role for quite a while, but a citizen's group finally managed to oust him. I'm his replacement."

He had a point. That small, noisy group had managed to send the city manager packing after years of agitating. It was understandable that investors wouldn't want to be bothered with them, so they hit on the 'evil' Dr. Crankset as a solution. Angry, hostile people are easier to control when they have an enemy to focus on, and when you toss a whopping dose of "stupid" into the mix, control becomes essential.

"I have it all worked out," Wally said. "I'm building a secret laboratory under the new Sams Club. It's perfect for a hidden lair, and I've even launched my first nefarious plot to muddy the waters by muddying the waters in a local neighborhood!" Wally chortled. He actually chortled. It sounded like a chicken gargling a fifth of Jim Beam. Suddenly the prospect of dinner didn't seem so appealing.


You didn't think Wally and I would go away forever, did you? 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The end is near!

This will probably be my final post on CycleDog since the world is scheduled to end tomorrow.  To the handful of people who read this, my humblest thanks.  I'm planning to take some photos of the apocalypse, and as usual, I'll post them here.  Or not.

Actually, the world probably will survive long enough for me to return to work next week.  I have to put in one full shift on Christmas Eve, then I'm on vacation until January 2.  This morning, I have two doctors appointment, and after that I have to clear medical at work.  It's going to be a busy day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Children have rights too.

I posted this on a local forum yesterday:

The NRA lost a lot of members over their support of so-called "cop killer" bullets that were designed to penetrate bullet proof vests.  I left the organization over that. 

The writer pointed out that even the NRA membership favors gun laws that would keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and disturbed people.  And yes, I know that crafting laws that would do so is extremely difficult without trampling the rights of legitimate gun owners.  We've been down this road before.

But those kids in Connecticut had rights too.   The NRA ignores them in preference to gun owners and manufacturers.  They're fond of the "shall not be infringed" portion of the Second Amendment, yet they do not challenge those portions of the 1932 gun control law or the 1968 gun control law that put some sensible restrictions on gun ownership.  If they challenged them and lost, it would set a precedent for further restrictions.

Part of the function of our courts is to balance one set of rights against another set.  Where should the balance lie when a child has the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" when a gun owner's right to keep and bear arms "shall not be infringed?"

As I said previously in another thread, I have nothing to offer that would preserve Second Amendment rights while removing guns from the hands of criminals and crazies.  I see no way to find a compromise between the two.  But I'm beginning to think that the Second Amendment is an obstacle in the way of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  


Today, I see on Google News that a GOP congresscritter says the problem is that there aren't enough guns, not that there are too many.  A man in Indiana threatened a local school.  Someone made a bomb threat against a church in Newtown, Connecticut.  Locally, a kid in Bartlesville was arrested for planning to kill his classmates.  And there's the usual Saturday night mayhem, including Tulsa's 45th homicide of the year. 

I enjoy shooting, and until my bird dog died many years ago, I enjoyed hunting.  Bullseye shooting requires just two things: sight alignment and trigger control.  Oh, and perhaps one other thing - a tight focus on the task at hand to the exclusion of all else.  There's a blissful state of awareness that is all too brief before concentration goes away and coordination goes with it.  For those few minutes, the bills, the mortgage, the troubles on the job simply do not matter.

I'm a lawful gun owner.  I was licensed to carry a concealed weapon at one time, and believe me, that revolver felt very heavy in my pocket.  No cowboy wild west bullshit for me.  I backed down from confrontation on more than one occasion.  Like I said, the revolver carried a heavy load of responsibility. 

So I can honestly say that I'm at a loss over how to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and crazies without imposing some restrictions on gun owners and gun manufacturers.  I can't offer any new ideas, but I think it's past time that our government sat down with the NRA, the manufacturers, law enforcement, and other stakeholders to find a way out of this morass. 

We're supposed to be a civilized country, yet we have an ever-increasing body count.  We deserve better. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Good news!

Catoosa's iconic Blue Whale along historic Route 66

First, this post contains nothing about prostate surgery, so don't run away and hide!

I've been bored sitting here on the couch.  A man can watch only so much daytime television, after all, and it's not possible to nap through the entire day.  I know.  I tried. 

The upside is that I'ver watched some wonderful old movies, including Casablanca, which never fails to bring a tear to my eyes.  Yes, I've been known to cry at old movies. 

But I've been writing some too, and as a result of that a plum fell into my lap.  Months ago, I contacted the editor and publisher of a local magazine about doing some writing for them.  Nothing came of it until last week when I wrote to the editor again about some biking information related to Route 66.  Within a few hours she wrote back asking for a column on it and offered a subscription in return.  OK, that's not great pay, but it was a foot in the door.  I did about 500 words and supplied some photos.  Now she wants a monthly column on bicycling in Tulsa, and better still, it pays!

Given the number of bicycling titles I've done here on CycleDog, the Examiner, and Wheel Issues, I shouldn't be at a loss for ideas.  And then there's my (ahem) slight tendency toward being talkative too.  Very slight. 

I will need to get more stock photos of cyclists around Tulsa, and especially any cyclists on one of the old Route 66 alignments.  I'm grinning in anticipation!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

I'm a 198 pound weakling!

That's the good news. I haven't been under 200 pounds for more than 20 years. I wouldn't recommend surgery as a weight loss method, of course, but I simply haven't had much appetite. 

Okay, here's a quick update.

As it turned out, menstrual pads were insufficient to keep up with my leaky waterworks. I managed to get through Monday afternoon, but it was unpleasant. Mary and Lyndsay went out for groceries, and I asked them to find some Depends in my size.

These things are horrible. They itch. Still, they're better than that damned catheter. Dr. Milsten's assistant, Paula, called on Tuesday to see how I was doing. She pointed out that I had a big tube in place for a week, and it takes the body some time to adjust to the changes. 

She was right. The constant drip, drip, drip has been replaced by 'oops' moments, mainly when my abdominal muscles tighten suddenly. This happens when I stand up quickly, cough, or laugh. 

I've been passing some blood in my urine too, which was worrisome until I talked with Paula earlier today.  She said it's normal when the lower abdomen is under stress, like when coughing a lot or having a bowel movement. 

Progress is apparent but slow. It gives me incentive to stay at those Kegel exercises.

Monday, December 03, 2012

One week after surgery

I never expected to be sharing these with my daughter," I said, dubiously eyeing the packet of menstrual pads.  I'd just returned from the doctor's office after he removed the catheter.  I was thoroughly sick of the thing.  Wearing pads to deal with minor leaks is definitely better. 

It was a long week.  The pain ebbed rapidly, and the only difficulty I had was in getting up and down or coughing.  For the first couple of days, I slept only on my back as rolling onto either side was painful.  That improved quickly and I slept better, though the catheter tethered me to one side of the bed.

Frankly, I was concerned that removing the catheter would hurt.  Dr. Milsten told me to take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  While I was thus occupied, he slipped the catheter out painlessly.  

So far this morning, I've discovered that both bending and coughing produce leaks.  When my abdominal muscles tighten, my bladder leaks, so it would probably be a good idea to avoid belly laughs.  (Note to self: Don't write anything funny this week!)

Duchess the Wonder Dog is snoozing right next to the couch as I write this.  I'll make lunch, and then the two of us will go out for a walk.  She'll like that.  So will I. 

Tomorrow I start Kegel exercises to strengthen my sphincter muscles and get better control.  Besides helping with incontinence, they're supposed to help with hemorroids and increase blood flow to the penis, the latter a "major element in penis enlargement."  If I'd only known!  I'm a middle-aged white guy so I need all the help I can get!  Maybe I can join old Smiling Bob in those Enzyte commercials, assuming he managed to stay out of jail, of course.

 Upcoming events:  In three weeks, I'll be tested for PSA again.  That will continue for five years.  Also, Dr. Milsten gave me a return-to-work date of December 24th.  Merry Christmas, grumble, grumble.  I'm expecting to take vacation time (one of the perks of being an old fart is lots of vacation time!) so I'll go back to work in January.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Home from the hospital

My purpose in writing about my prostate cancer is to encourage men to get tested. The PSA test caught mine very early, and despite it's moderately aggressive nature, I'm probably 100% cured. If anyone you know has to go through this, please don't hesitate to recommend me as a resource. The truly scary part is not knowing what to expect.

On a local web forum, one of the frequent posters said that he had to renew his blood pressure meds just as I had, and his doctor requires a checkup. The problem lies in the fact that he doesn't have insurance. I checked on the county health department web site, and while they offer some blood tests for free or reduced costs, they apparently don't do PSA screening. If anyone knows of a no-cost/low-cost PSA test service, please let me know about it.

I had surgery on Monday and came home yesterday. I snoozed on the couch most of the afternoon. It's kind of nice to wander around the house in a bathrobe, PJs, and slippers all day.

The pre-operative preparation was a chore. I couldn't have any solid food on Sunday, not even a glass of milk, so I was a cranky old man. Thankfully, the surgery was scheduled at 7AM. The anesthetic killed my appetite, so I wasn't really hungry Monday afternoon and evening. Lyndsay and Mary ordered cheeseburgers from the dietary department, something they actually encourage at the hospital, and they were very good. Oklahoma Surgical Hospital is plush!

The surgery went well. The after effects mostly involve some abdominal pain and what feels like gas pain, but is more likely bladder spasms. Part of it was removed, and since the bladder is a muscle, it's letting me know. I'll have a catheter until Monday and by then there's no doubt I'll be thoroughly sick of the thing. Normally I sleep on one side or the other, but with the catheter and bag I can sleep only on my back or – with difficulty – my left side.

It's almost impossible to get a good nights sleep in a hospital, and this one was no exception. I probably didn't sleep longer than an hour at a time. Since I was awake so often, I developed a nearly obsessive fascination with the breakfast menu. I hadn't had solid food since Saturday, so the prospect of breakfast was very appealing. Still, I behaved myself, limiting it to a blueberry muffin, a banana, orange juice, and the obligatory coffee. Dietary opened at 7AM. I called at 7:01.

Late night television is truly weird. Besides the noise of chat shows, reruns, and news, I found a Spanish language infomercial that went on for at least an hour touting a penis enlargement device. The ad featured a bevy of women smiling hugely.

Last night I had cling peaches for dinner and a granola bar for breakfast early today. I made some oatmeal around mid-morning. The post-surgery instructions advise against getting constipated, and believe me, if simple coughing hurts this much I don't want to think about straining.

As I write this, it's late afternoon on Wednesday. Duchess the Wonder Dog stares at me longingly, wagging her tail in the hope that I'll take her for a walk. It's not to be. Maybe we can get back to our regular routine next week, though she won't be going to the park because I'm not allowed to drive for two weeks. Still, I'm seeing rapid improvement. I had great difficulty getting up and down yesterday, and walking upright was painful. Today, I'm still feeling it when I get up and down, but straightening up is much easier. I don't bend easily, though, and reaching the floor is nearly impossible. Putting a bowl of cat food down for Tiggr required some ingenuity and an old Sierra cup.