Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Redfly and Phantoms

Anyone who has seen me at hockey practices or games will know that I like to take notes on my cell phone's word processor.

I just picked up an interesting little gadget that will make that task MUCH easier. I look forward to giving it a workout at the next available practice. :)

Speaking of practices, I sent a note to someone who works for the team's front office and also posts PR updates on a Flyers board where I am a regular. In response to my question, he informed me that Max O. is still with our training camp and was practicing with the Phantoms today. So I'm still hopeful that we can see him in a Phantoms uni this season. (PLEASE, God. Let us see him in a Phatoms uni this season.) I think that the combo of Max and a young guy would work out wonderfully for the team. We had Boucher/Munroe last season and we were outstanding. I want to repeat that this year, but with Max in Boucher's place. That would rock.

Incidentally, I am using my new gadget to post this message via cell phone. It's a bluetooth item that provides a larger screen, a keyboard, and a touch pad. I think this is going to make my life a lot easier as far as using my phone as a word processor. (And it means NOT needing to carry a laptop under some circumstances where I'd rather not do so.)

Nice. I'm very pleased. Accessories are good.
Being the Family Nerd comes with great responsibility. For example, I just got a call from my parents, who don't have a computer, regarding the need to research a retail price of a car on the Blue Book site. My dad is trying to decide whether to continue insuring his 8-or-9-year-old car for damage, and to determine if the insurance was worth it, he needed the retail price of the car per Blue Book. So he gave me a call, and I went online and filled in the required information about the car. Bingo, instant information. :) So now he has a better idea regarding whether he'd like to keep the coverage of the car for damages for another year.

What the heck did we do before we could go online on a moment's notice and look up current information?
The cats are having a cute-fest today. :) Captain is sitting on me and purring in my face every chance he gets.

And when I get up to walk to another room, Stanley flops in front of me and rolls over for a belly rub. (Yes, both my cats like belly rubs, which is highly unusual in the feline world.)

I'm not sure if today is National "Be an Adorable Kitty" Day or what, but I know I'm thoroughly enjoying it. :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Post from Utterz.com

Passing some news vans on the way out of the studio. The Mass we taped will be aired at 5:30 AM on October 12.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Spectrum: emotional overflow

The Final NHL Game at the Spectrum: emotional overflow

Excuse this...



OK. Now that I've gotten *that* out of my system for the time being, I'll be able to watch the game.

It gives me a painful pang in the heart, every time I hear or see "final year of the Spectrum". I'm going to spend this season feeling a lot of pangs of pain.

So don't be the least bit surprised to see additional overflows of rant-mode from me as the season progresses. There are going to be times when I just can't hold it in anymore.
The wedding Mass and reception for JFM's nephew last night went wonderfully. Joe and John both sounded great at Mass, the bride and groom looked superb, and it was a beautiful ceremony. The reception was very nice, too. I'm glad that Joe's brother R, who's had major health issues recently, was able to attend the reception.

I used Mark's car yesterday to get to physical therapy and the wedding, and I noticed that the "check coolant" light kept coming on. That's reminiscent of the issues we had with the car back in July. Mark's out getting the car fixed, even as I type; the radiator fan has stopped working. Thank goodness the car didn't overheat and conk out yesterday.

We have got to have the car repaired because we plan to go to my in-laws' today and celebrate their 61st(!!!) wedding anniversary. Normally, I toast a wedding anniversary or a birthday with "Cent'anni!", which means "One hundred years!" However, one must admit that in a case like this, wishing someone a century seems kind of limiting. ;) God bless them, thought, because landmarks like these couldn't happen to two nicer people.

Yesterday's physical therapy session was productive. Besides adding an ankle weight to my leg lift exercises, I have gotten clearance to make a subtle change to how I navigate on stairs.

Since the surgery, I have been climbing stairs by placing the good leg on the next step up, then bringing the injured leg up to join it. I started this process with two crutches, and moved down to one crutch last week.

But now, I can officially alternate feet normally to climb stairs, while using the crutch to assist with the climbing and with balance. Hooray for progress!

It's going to take some additional time before I can walk normally going DOWN the stairs, however. For now, it's "step down with injured leg first, then bring down good leg to join it", with the crutch employed to help control the rate of descent. The injured leg isn't quite ready to be used to lower me from one step to the next, crutch or no crutch. That's not surprising; that particular milestone takes a bit longer to reach than the "climbing stairs normally" landmark.

I had better hit "send" on this post -- I have some things I need to accomplish before we head out to the in-laws' house. Later, all!

My next therapy session is on Monday afternoon.

Friday, September 26, 2008

AGAIN the demon of insomnia rears its head. Shoot. I have to be up early in the morning for a Physical Therapy session. So it doesn't matter if I get plenty of sleep or next-to-none, I have to be up and out of here in time for Round 3 of "Gotta go through pain to get the gain".

This will be a busy day, all ways round. Not only have I got therapy in the morning, but I have a wedding to attend late this afternoon, and the reception is this evening. (Yes, the couple is getting married on a Friday.) I need to be there a little early because I'm reporting to the choir loft to help the organist: I'm the Designated Page Turner for the sheet music. :)

Good news, BTW: the organist in question is John R, for whom I requested prayers recently. He is back to working his regular schedule again, after recuperating from the bypass. THANK GOD.

OK, time for me to at least ATTEMPT to get some rest. Good nght, morning, or what-have-you. ;)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We got off to an interesting start this morning -- a power failure that kicked in some time before 5 AM. Welcome to "breakfast by flashlight". Fortunately, the electricity came back on at about 7:10.

Now I remember why they schedule physical therapy sessions for every other day, and not on consecutive days. My left knee is noticeably warmer to the touch than the right knee. It's leftover inflammation from having put it through its paces yesterday.

I expected the knee to be warm to the touch in the timespan immediately following the therapy session. But I'm surprised that it's STILL warm 20 hours later. Wow. I don't remember that symptom lasting this long the last time I went through this sort of regimen.

Blah. Recuperation is tedious. Take my advice: don't get into conflict with the force of gravity. You'll save yourself a bunch of aggravation. :-P


Good thing I have the Electric Co.'s "Power Outage Reporting" number stored on my cell phone. Good Morning to me, I woke up to realize our power's out.

Mark reports that the coffee maker, which is set to brew at 5 AM, never made coffee this morning. So power's been off since before 5:00.

At least the local cell phone towers are working, so I can post this note. ;)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This is new. While I've had more nights with insomnia than without, that was before the surgery. SINCE the surgery, the meds have helped me fall asleep at night.

But not tonight. I'm right at the point where the meds are most effective -- between 3 and 4 hours after the dose. Not only is the pain minimized (thank God), but the sleepiness should be at its maximum right now.

But I'm wide awake. SHOOT.

That does it. I have a followup appointment slated for early October with my primary care doc; I will most definitely be talking to him about this insomnia. It's MURDER, it's been ongoing for the past few years, and I've HAD it with this freaking issue. I'm sick and freaking tired of being wide awake when everyone else is asleep, and dead to the world when everyone else is awake. If I wanted to have this kind of sleep schedule, I'd work a third-shift job.

THIS is precisely why I intend to schedule as many PT sessions for the afternoon as possible. I don't ever want to have to go in there on zero sleep and with a PM appointment, I stand a chance of getting some shut-eye before I go.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oh, man. No training camp for me today. The knee needs a day off. At the point in the dosage where the ibuprofen should be at its MOST effective -- long enough ago that it's well-established in my system, NOT long enough that it should be wearing off -- I'm hurting like I never medicated.

I'm going to spend the day with my main goal as "pain control". The inflammation needs to go way down; otherwise, the PT session tomorrow will be murder.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A *great* hockey day! :)

Thank You, God.

I got to see Max O. practice this morning at Training Camp, I got to see the Phantoms defeat Lowell in OT during their preseason game this afternoon, *AND* I was given two tickets to see the Flyers/Devils game tonight by a fellow fan who couldn't use them.

And THEN, not only did the Flyers beat their major rival the Devils, but Max O. played in the third period of tonight's game and was flawless. The only puck that got past him, no goalie could have stopped.

I couldn't be happier about all these things.

My left knee, on the other hand, is using some seriously unprintable vocabulary at the moment. I've had a VERY full schedule, three days in a row, and it's feeling it. Guess what? It had better get used to it. I need to get back to normal activity, and the only way to do it is to DO it.

Tomorrow, Mark needs the car because he's got a dentist's appointment. I think I'll take public transit to the rink. I realize that means I'll spend a good three times as long commuting as I'll spend watching practice, but hey. Did I mention I want to get back to regular activity levels?

Post from Utterz.com

How to reserve the two seats next to mine at the St. Pio Festival. :)

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I'd like to swat these pains-in-my-rump who spam the OLPCnews.com forum pages. If I see one more freakin' counterfeit designer shoe ad, I'll scream.

I actually had to ban two people and remove six spam ads this morning, while USING MY CELL PHONE. Thank God for wireless internet. I was attending the Flyers training camp when I got wind that the forum had been spammed. I couldn't let it sit for hours until I got home. It would have annoyed me for the rest of the morning, knowing that garbage was on the forum. So I logged in from my cell phone, banned the offending users, and deleted their ads one by one.

A pox on spammers in general, and an extra pox on the numbskulls whose junk ads made me interrupt doing something I enjoy, watching the Flyers, just to delete their nonsense from the OLPC discussion boards. Counterfeit designer shoes, my foot -- I'd like to thwack the freaking spammers upside the freaking HEAD with a shoe. GRRR...!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

St. Pio

Dessert at the St. Pio Festival: chocolate covered figs. Out of this freakin' world! :) I hadn't had figs in eons... my former neighbors had a fig tree, so I used to get figs in the summer when I was a kid. I miss that.


The PM scrimmage will have 4 goalies, including DeSerres. I'm glad to see everyone's healthy. When players vanish from the lineup, I worry adout injuries.


No DeSerres (rookie goalie) at practice this AM. Max Ouellet took SOG solo while practice was going on in the other rink. Now he's in the morning scrimmage instead of DeSerres.
I am a Very Happy Baby Boomer. I went to Pandora.com and created a "Peter, Paul, and Mary" radio station. Along with them, I am getting *1960s Folk Music* Halle-freaking-lujah! I am hearing songs that I'd forgotten existed, but that I thoroughly enjoy. Case in point: "A World of Our Own" by The Seekers. Oh, man, but I remembered that song within seconds of its coming on and sat here singing along with it. You don't want to know how many years it's been since I'd heard that tune, or even heard OF it. Heck, *I* don't want to know how many years it's been. Except for this: I can tell you that it'd been decades since I'd heard it. Well, we've rectified that problem. Now it's been MINUTES since I've heard the song. :)

Existing radio stations should play a wider variety of music. Then whole genres wouldn't practically drop off the map. The way it is now, you pretty much have to already own this kind of music if you want to hear it. Well, how are new fans going to be introduced to the music if it's all but unavailable to them? I listen to the tripe that passes for music on contemporary radio, and it doesn't hold a candle to some of the amazing harmonies that almost no one gets the opportunity to hear, at least not without doing a bunch of legwork first.

Here we go again... "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" (Kingston Trio), followed by "It Doesn't Have to Be That Way" (Jim Croce). At least the latter song comes on the radio occasionally during the Christmas season, due to its oblique references to the Holiday season. But the former? When's the last time THAT came on the radio? Good luck catching it except maybe during the PBS telethon, *IF* they're showing a Peter, Paul, an Mary concert.

Ah, well. Score one for the folkies. Now I understand what Manilow meant when, in reference to his love for big band music, "I was born 30 years too late". What a shame that folk music hit its zenith when my age was in single digits. I'd have had a lot of fun with this style of music, if I'd been old enough to take part in it when it was easily available on every radio.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Post from Utterz.com

Correction: our ORIGINAL seats weren't as good as last year's. :) They moved Mark and me WAY closer to the front, and to an aisle seat to boot. Thank You, Lord. :)

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Post from Utterz.com

Our seats for this year's "Meet the Flyers" taping isn't as good as last year's, but at least we're here. :)

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With the Flyers' signing of J-S Aubin on Wednesday, I am waiting impatiently to see if Max Ouellet's training camp invite is still in effect. *Please* let him be here. Hc deserves a break.

Friday, September 19, 2008

This is just a quick note to say that I have rediscovered pandora.com, after not having used the site in a while. It's a great "set it and forget it" internet radio. Enter an artist's name and it will play, not only that artist, but a whole string of songs by other artists in the same genre.
Whew. I used the living daylights out of a whole group of muscles that hasn't seen a regular amount of activity in three weeks. Good thing it's International Talk Like a Pirate day, because just about everything from my left hip down to my left shin is talking like a pirate right about now. ;)

I did get clearance from the therapist to use only one crutch, so that's a step in the right direction. I wish I was ready to switch to a cane, but the knee is too unstable laterally. (I tried the cane a few days ago, which is why I know this.) Let me get some of the lost muscle mass back, and I can try the cane again.

I do have some lost muscle mass in the thigh and calf, some swelling in the knee joint, and some loss of range of motion. The therapist took measurements of all these things.

However, I hasten to add that none of the above symptoms is anywhere near as bad as it was in 1994. Eight weeks of being in a splint left me with two legs that didn't look like they belonged to the same body, because the loss of muscle and swelling in the knee were so significant. (And let's not discuss what two months in a splint did to the range of motion in the joint. It wasn't pretty.)

I have a list of exercises to do at home, 2-3 times per day. In fact, I can do them on the UNinjured leg, as well. What the heck, why not? It's displaying some of the same funky symptoms as the injured leg, just nowhere near to the same extent. Might as well head off potential future problems now. If there's one thing I need less than a screwed-up knee, it's TWO screwed-up knees.

OK, I'm going to take a rest. I came home and took pain meds, as I was due for the next dose, and now that they're kicking in, I'm having a case of The Tireds.

1st PT session

At the end of the therapy session, I get an ice wrap and electric stimulation of the muscles for 15 minutes. (See the white wire protruding from the blue wrap? That's connected to the jump-starter device.)

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It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Good! I can do that during therapy today instead of cussing in Italian. ;)
My first physical therapy session is this morning! Wish me luck and send ibuprofen. I suspect I'll need it by the time the exercises are over. ;)

The upside of this particular round of "No pain, no gain" is that it's easy to detect the "gain" in a suprisingly short amount of time. It sure makes the "pain" part of the equation easier to deal with. Even so, I'll do my best to make sure that everyone within earshot doesn't learn a new batch of Italian-dialect expletives this morning. ;)

Aaah, what am I thinking? This is South Philly. If they grew up around here, they probably KNOW all those words already. :D

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Whoops... don't you hate when this happens?

Woman mistakes skunk for a cat, gets sprayed

MOUNT CARMEL, Pa. - A Pennsylvania woman who thought she was petting a neighbor's cat got a smelly surprise when it turned out to be a skunk. Not only did the skunk spray the woman before dawn Monday, but it ran into her Mount Carmel home.

Police spent hours at the home before leaving the scene, but there was no immediate word if they were able to remove the animal.


Information from: WKOK-AM, http://www.wkok.com

In a related story, the woman needs to invest in some floodlights for her property, as this happened before dawn, and/or schedule an appointment with her eye doctor. ;)
I have updated the Zune software on my laptop and on the Zune itself. Mark is using the desktop PC, so updating that one will have to wait.

Now I see that McDonalds will offer free wifi to Zune users. I think we'll be limited to browsing the Zune marketplace, but even so, it's a start. Added features are good. :)
Sometimes I have to wonder what people are thinking when they classify some songs as romantic.

Take last night, when I was looking up some lyrics on the internet and ran across a Wedding Song Catalog that included Olivia Newton-John's "I Honestly Love You".

Um, what? What person who KNOWS THE LYRICS of the song would consider that particular selection appropriate for a wedding? The woman, who is already attached ("I hang around here a little more than I should, We both know I've got somewhere else to go"), is singing "I honestly love you" to a MAN who is not only already attached, but disturbed by the revelation. ("You don't have to answer, I see it in your eyes, Maybe it was better left unsaid.") At what point in time is this storyline a good fit for a wedding celebration? When both spouses have left their previous spouses/significant others in order to form a new relationship with each other, maybe?

I'm not saying that every person should know every nuance of every lyric on earth. But if a person plans to use a particular song to make a statement -- say, oh, AT THEIR OWN WEDDING, for example -- then they had darned well *better* know what the song is actually saying. Otherwise, they could end up sending a message that's entirely different from what they'd intended to declare.

Monday, September 15, 2008

In a just world, the clerical staff would win this round

Years ago, Merrill Lynch demoted my friend and many others of their staff to non-living wages. The alternative for those employees was seeing their positions cut entirely. At the SAME TIME that Merrill Lynch was cutting the salary of their staff, they were proclaiming the highest profits in company history.

Now the company gets karmic payback and is bought out. Too bad the bigwigs that stepped all over the staff will probably get golden parachutes and the staff will probably get downsized.

I wish the shareholders would vote down any golden parachutes for execs who stomped all over the people whose work keeps the company functioning. *THAT* would be a long-overdue visit from the Karma Train for those individuals.
This is a can't-win-for-losing segment of the recuperation process. Crutches are terribly awkward when climbing the stairs to the second floor. I thought I'd try a cane one time to see how it went.

I don't think my left leg is ready for that just yet. It just didn't feel stable enough. :( It hurt and felt... uh, actually it's a strange sensation I've never felt before, so it's hard to put into words. "Wobbly", maybe? Blah. I don't know. What I do know is the sooner my leg muscles are stronger, the better. Canes are a lot less cumbersome to use when navigating on stairs.

Another thing I do know is that it was great to have the Other Donna down here in Philly for the weekend. But oh my, did I ever conk out and sleep when the visit was over! I went kaput and slept for five hours yesterday afternoon, then followed it up with a full night's sleep. This was the first time I've had two full days of normal activity levels since prior to the surgery, and boy did I feel it. Heck, I STILL feel it. I'm a little surprised at my energy levels, or lack thereof. I guess it takes more resources than I'd realized for my body to knit itself back together.

The fatigue is worth it, though. I look forward to being back into the swing of things.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Here's an interesting article to run across, as I sit here icing down the knee:

Surgery for Knee Osteoarthritis no better than Therapy, Meds

Naturally, this is about arthroscopic surgery, which I just went through 15 days ago, and it specifically discusses patients with osteoarthritis in the knee, which I have.

However, it also describes one situation where the surgery DOES help, and I fit that description, as well:

"Arthroscopic surgery does not work well for patients with arthritis, but it does work well in certain select patients who do have arthritis but who also have another problem like a torn meniscus [the wedge of cartilage in the knee joint]," said Dr. Robert Marx, author of an accompanying editorial and an orthopedic surgeon at New York City's Hospital for Special Surgery. "The classic example would be a patient saying their knee was hurting for five years, but three months ago, they stepped off a curb, and since then, it's been killing them. It's a different pain from the arthritis.... If we put it all together, there's a good chance with surgery, but we do need to temper their expectations."

In my case, the change in symptoms was precipitated by a fall, and the knee's been hurting for a lot longer than the five years offered in the hypothetical example. But I get two things out of it. One, the surgery could leave me better off than I was before I had it, which was the reason I agreed to go through with it in the first place. Two, thanks to the arthritis, which wasn't officially diagnosed until DURING the surgery when it was seen through the arthroscope, the knee's not going to be 100% even after the recuperation, therapy, and whatever are complete. Oh, well -- it hasn't been 100% for years anyway. It wasn't even 100% BEFORE the first injury; it was aching on a regular basis. I've since learned that pain was caused by the leg muscles' strength not being evenly balanced on both sides of the leg. The kneecap was being pulled into the wrong position as a result, and this issue frequently precipitates a dislocation. File it under "Live and learn and don't forget to take the NSAIDs on schedule."

Meanwhile, I'm sitting here watching a marathon of Rocky movies. Bravo is showing the first four movies of the series, back-to-back. I saw most of the first movie, and the second one started not long ago. It's been way too long since I saw either of these films. I'd forgotten how charming they are.

Thursday, September 11, 2008



I just got a text message from a friend, telling me that Maxime Ouellet has been invited to the Flyers training camp!!!

Here's the article (sorry, it's in French -- I haven't found an English version of the news yet):

CLICK HERE for the news that made my day!
Good news: I really, REALLY have been working on regaining my knee's range of motion. And I have so much of my range back, I'm really astounded. And glad... one of my fears is that if I lose my balance, I don't want the knee to get damaged if it's abruptly and accidentally pushed past its self-imposed limit. That could turn into a really nasty setback, so it's a problem I'd rather avoid.

HOWEVER... in physics, we learned that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, the reaction is a whole lot of OUCH. Every time I reach that range-of-motion limit, there's an "ouch" involved. Every time I let the knee sit there and stay flexed at that angle for a while, "Ouch." And every time I try to go a little bit beyond that limit, "OUCH."

But it's working. Slowly but surely, that range is coming back and it lets me flex it just a little bit farther the next time I try to test the limit.

The knee also sends off some strings of "ouch" signals in between these flex sessions. But that's why God created ice and pain meds. ;)

7 years ago

Today is the 7th anniversary of the most hideous event to happen in the US in my lifetime. I wrote a recap of how that day unfolded for me in one of my previous September 11 posts. (I just checked; it was the 9/11/2006 entry). However, an email from Karla earlier today brought back a part of that day for me.

She sent me a note she'd seen in the Inquirer that Flyers beat writer Tim Panaccio was one of three longtime sportswriters who accepted a buyout earlier this week.

September 11, 2001 was the first day of Flyers training camp, and Tim P, of course, was in attendance, as were enough fans to make the practice rink standing-room-only.

However, the training camp events were done by early afternoon, and most people went home. I'd heard that the traffic from NJ to Philly was terrible, so I decided to wait at the Skate Zone a while longer. While I waited, I was with four other people, watching the news on the TVs in the lobby and discussing what had happened. There were three people whom I knew both online and offline from the AOL Flyers board, plus Tim Panaccio.

I distinctly remember thinking, at one point, "If only the news we were watching wasn't a horrendous national tragedy. If we were watching *anything* else, watching TV with this group would be a pretty cool thing to recount."

I think of that day every time I see those TVs in the lobby. And every time I see the flagpoles belonging to the business a few properties away from the Skate Zone. When I finally did leave the rink, about 3 PM, the owner of that business had already lowered his flags to half-mast, hours in advance of the President's declaration of national mourning. Those were the first lowered flags I saw that day, and I remember that every time I see them.

God be with the people who suffered losses that day, as well as anyone who suffers PSTD symptoms from what they witnessed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

90 degrees, yay!

Today, I got my left knee to bend as far as 90 degrees. That's a noticeable improvement over the past two days, when I was first given the all-clear from the doc to start moving the knee.

This, BTW, is part of the reason why the knee is so sore. When I encounter the "this far and no farther" flex limit, I try to either keep it there as long as I can stand it (because hitting the limit *hurts*) or I give it a little, teeny "Let's see if I can get it a fraction of a degree more" for a few seconds before I let up.

I'm not going to push it to the point of risking damage. I'm not foolish. But I've been through this before. The better I can get my range of motion on my own, the less I'll have to have a physical therapist perform that task for me. And believe me, even though what I'm doing NOW hurts, it's nothing compared to what it feels like when the therapist does it.

Anyone reading this who's had physical therapy knows what I mean. The rest of you, I hope, will NEVER know what I mean. It's about as far from "fun" as it gets.

Won't try THIS again for a while

Anyone who knows me also knows that I really do hate to take medicine, if I can avoid it. I have a few daily prescriptions that I'm probably stuck with for good, so I just take them with breakfast and consider them part of my daily routine. They're by far the lesser of the two evils when the alternative is, say, running around with elevated BP (which can destroy health if left untreated) or being up all night with the Acid Reflux from Hell (which won't kill you but it'll make you feel like death).

However, the pain meds have changed my daily regimen. Now I'm dosing 3x/day instead of just one, and I don't like it. So yesterday, I did something that I've tried before when I'm taking meds to relieve pain from a specific incident or injury. I went off the pain meds for a day just to see how sore the knee actually IS.

Well, now I know. It's awful, to put it mildly. (And "It's BLEEPING awful" would be the more accurate, if less family-friendly, way to describe it.)

So my 24-hour experiment is over, and I'm back on the meds as of a couple hours ago. I'm hoping they kick the heck in soon because right now, I couldn't find a comfortable position for my left leg if my life depended on it. Phooey.

But at least I know where I stand regarding taking the medication. I am NOT taking the pain meds needlessly. There's a substantial level of discomfort without them (again, putting it mildly), and it's far more than I'd be able to tolerate for any length of time. So I won't be trying this experiment again for at least the next few weeks.

The good news, though, is that the doc does want me to decrease Percocet over the next few weeks, with the goal of eventually stopping it altogether. GOOD, because the side effects of the Percocet are a stupendous nuisance. The sooner I can be taking just the ibuprofen for pain, the better.
Official confirmation came through a couple days ago: There WILL be another "Give One, Get One" offering of the OLPC XO computers. This time, it will be handled by Amazon, which should eliminate the shipping glitches that occurred with last year's first-ever G1G1 program. For $399, the participant will receive one XO laptop, and a second laptop will be donated to a child in a developing country.

Click HERE for details of G1G1v2! If boosting education is important to you, you'll be glad you did!

FWIW, I have an XO from the first G1G1 program that was run in November and December of last year. I'm extremely satisfied with it. I use it as my road-warrior computer, for surfing, emailing, and word processing. It does have very bare-bones specs, so it's not for someone who wants to do gaming or streaming video. However, for those of us who normally use computers for Just The Basics, it's a terrific little portable device and I wouldn't leave home without it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Here we go AGAIN with the BS "job offers" in my inbox.

Dear Applicant,

Never mind the fact that I never even heard of, never mind applied for anything from, these people.

Would you like to Work Online from home and get paid Weekly without leaving or affecting your present Job? [ALL-CAPS COMPANY NAME REMOVED]. We have a job opening for the position of Accounts receivable position in the USA. We have clients that we supply goods to weekly around the world. Our clients make payments for our supplies every week in form of not readily Cashable Outside the United States and some other state's in the Nation.

Only a person who hasn't the remotest clue what a real Accounts Receivable position entails would fall for this. Last time I checked, companies ship to customers in foreign countries every day, and receive payment from them without any difficulty. Banks take care of converting the foreign currency into its equivalent in domestic currency.

All you Need to do is to Receive payment from our clients . Get it Cashed at your Bank or any Financial institution who does such tasks, then Forward balance after deduction of percentage/pay to any of the offices you will be contacted to send payment to.(Payment is to forwarded either by Money Gram or Western Union Money Transfer).For example you've got 4000.00USD You take your income: 400.00 USD (10%) Send to us: 3600.00 USD

Like I said above, companies export goods and are paid in foreign currency every day. LEGIT companies don't need to involve their employees' bank accounts in the transaction, EVER.

What's going to happen is that the "payment" is going to be coming from stolen credit cards, fake checks, counterfeit money orders, or phony cashier's checks. It will LOOK legitimate enough that the payment will initially clear, so the employee sucker will send out the payment to their "employer" and keep the percentage. But eventually, the "payment" will be discovered to be fraudulent and will be backed out of the employee sucker's bank account. However, the employee sucker is still on the hook for the money they wire-transferred to the "employer". If this sends their bank account into the red and their credit rating into the dirt, that's too bad. The "employer" couldn't care less.

You'll have a lot of free time doing another job, you'll get good income and regular job.

Yeah, and you'll NEED that free time to take a second job, to make up for the financial deficit that this "job" will leave you in if you take it on.

The scumbag lowlife crooks who run these scams belong in jail.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Followup visit

As my earlier blog posts and twitter "tweets" said, I had my followup with the orthopedist today.

He took the stitches out -- hooray, they were really annoying to work around when I tried to wash my knee. The incisions look great, with no sign of infection, so hooray!

I've been sporting an ace bandage (two, actually) from mid-thigh down to my foot. He said I only need to wear that for a day or two, but (sssh, don't tell him) I took it off when I got home. My leg needed the air after being wrapped for the better part of 10 days (all but when I was washing the leg off). Ah, relief.

Speaking of relief, I'm allowed to bend the knee again! Hoo-freakin'-ray! You want relief? You know how it feels to have a REALLY good stretch? That was what my left leg felt like the first time I flexed the knee, even though I didn't bend it far.

It doesn't quite want to bend as far as 90 degrees yet. When I go that far, it starts to hurt instead of feel good or feel neutral. It's going to take some work to get the rest of my range of motion back, I can tell from now. File THAT under "necessary evils that I don't look forward to", believe me. If you've ever had a therapist push an inflexible joint a few degrees past where its range of motion wants to stop, I don't need to explain to you why I don't look forward to the process. It hurts like a royal SOB. But there's no way around the process if I want the knee to flex properly again, so I'll put up with it. This is one situation where, "No pain, no gain" is the truth, not a cliche. And since the gain is well worth the pain, it makes it easier to deal with.

Tell you what, though... even the limited amount of flexing I've done with the knee during the day has translated into some real soreness now. Doggone. I'd forgotten about this part of recuperation. Either that, or the knee was SO sore in 1994 that I couldn't tell the difference between the regular daily pain and the added soreness from the first day of flexing the knee.

But since soreness means progress in this instance, I'll take it. It sure beats "staying the same" all to heck.


My parents' cell phone appears to be broken. It looks fine, 'till you actually try to USE it. The only thing it wants to do is call its voice mail. Powering it off/on, and removing/replacing the battery, had no effect on this.

They have about a bazillion minutes stored up on their carrier's old pre-pay plan. When they replace the phone, they might have to change to the carrier's current pre-pay rules, which I think cost more per month. If possible, I'd like to see them get a new phone without having to alter the plan they're subscribed to.

Whatever happens, they had better get their tons of minutes transferred over if they change plans. There's a good amount of their money in the wireless carrier's pocket right now.

If the wireless carrier gives my parents a hard time, I hope they tell me, because I *will* step in and insist on getting some straight answers. What good is it to have the Queen of Nerds in your family, unless you take advantage of the opportunity? ;)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Honest to GOSH, I would like to send a Nobel Prize to the person who invented this Cryo/Cuff. It's a zillion times more convenient than the ice pack/ace bandage combo I spent a week grappling with.

It looks like this:

To fill it, hook up the tube, raise the cooler 15 inches above the brace, open the air vent. Ice water drains from the cooler into the brace. When it's full, disconnect the tube and you're good to go for an hour or so.

To empty it, hook up the tube, situate the cooler below the brace, open the air vent. Water drains from the cuff back into the cooler (which has a bunch of ice in it) and cools off again. A few minutes later, the brace can be filled with cold water. Repeat process as needed.

The ice/water in the cooler is good for about 6-8 hours before it needs to be replenished. It's so much more convenient, and uses less ice, than limping back and forth to the freezer every time the ice pack contents have melted away. Also, unlike an ice pack, the brace doesn't soak everything it touches with condensation and it doesn't fall on the floor every time you move the wrong way.

Add my name to the list of Very Satisfied Customers. :)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Finally, I have some GOOD medical news to report on here! We went out to West Chester to see John R. today. He's recovering nicely from triple bypass surgery which he had about three weeks ago. They're still trying to calculate what his dry weight is for dialysis, now that he has lost some weight due to illness and keeping a healthier diet. Seems that they weren't taking out enough fluid anymore during dialysis, since he has lost weight, and that's what landed him in the hospital earlier in the week with pneumonia-like symptoms. Yikes.

I'm not sure exactly how a person's dry weight, which is what a person weighs after dialysis removes excess fluid and other assorted unwanted things from the bloodstream, is calculated. But if John continues to follow the new, healthier dietary regimen, he's probably going to continue to lose weight. In that case, they might have to recalculate his dry weight now and then, to ensure that their data is current and accurate.

He played his first Mass this afternoon since the heart attack a few weeks ago; he did a wedding. He felt great to be back playing the organ. He even managed the stairs up to the choir loft without much difficulty, other than being tired at the end of the climb. That was my biggest concern, because I know what a bear those stairs are to navigate.

He'll be playing some Masses next week, and the week after that, he'll be back on a full schedule. I hope he's up to it, because he's going stir crazy in the apartment. Recuperation is boring with a capital B, so I don't blame him for wanting to resume normal activities ASAP.

The other good medical news I've got is that one of our family friends, whom I'll call "B" and who recently had cancer surgery, has been told that the surgery was successful and they got it all out. She will still need chemo, just to make certain that there aren't any little microscopic cells left that need to be eliminated. However, the docs were a bit concerned that the original surgery hadn't gotten everything, so it's great to hear that she passed the followup testing with flying colors.

I hope my dad's friend, who had surgery around the same time as B had her operation, will soon be on the receiving end of similar good news. He's had a setback or two since his surgery, but if they can determine that they got everything during his surgery, that will be great. Then he can just focus on healing and taking care of himself. So do please keep sending the prayers and good thoughts -- we still have a few people on this end who are in need of them.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Ice Pack replacement

Just got this Cryo Cuff, which I ordered on the advice of a fellow Flyers fan who had knee arthroscopy and has arthritis in her knee. Fill cooler w/ice and water, let chill. Attach tube to knee wrap; let gravity fill knee wrap with cold water. Detach tube. In an hour, reattach tube and let gravity drain warmed water back into cooler. Let chill. Repeat. Lasts 6-8 hours.

This will save a lot of running around making ice cubes and refilling ice packs. And it'll eliminate retrieving dropped ice packs from the floor, yay!

Mobile post sent by Gabey8 using Utterzreply-count Replies.
YEOW! Man, it took me a week to accidentally find it, but there's at least one place on my left knee that causes quite the jolt of pain when anything more than miniscule pressure is applied. I located the sensitive area when I went to scratch an itch. DANG. Well, now I'm wide awake for sure. :P After that unexpected dose of pain, FURNITURE would be wide awake.

And the freaking spot that was itching, which caused this episode in the first place, STILL itches. Phooey.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Attempt 2 to post this to the blog

Oh, boy. This is turning into some week. I'm glad we started off very well with a nice Labor Day BBQ at Karla and Al's, then a successful replacement of the dead central air conditioner. (Bonus side effect of this: happy, frisky, cuddly cats.)

Anyway, it's good that this week began well, because it's had a few tough things mixed in. John R., though he's home from the hospital, might have congestive heart failure. No one knows for sure what triggered his symptoms of fluid in the lungs. ARGH. (Oh, and btw, even though he is still wheezing, he got discharged from the hospital. Gotta love medical insurance bean counters. Don't get me started.)

Then my mom called to tell me that my cousin Tony's paternal grandmother is critically ill. She is in her 90s, God bless her, but things are not looking good. Tony and I are related on our mothers' side of the family, but still, his dad's side of the family is an extended family to us, and hearing that his grandmom is in a bad way is unhappy news.

Next, my parents are trying to determine when they can go visit Aunt Rita. Seems that Aunt Rita is going through a major refresher on what exactly comprises allowable food and portions for a diabetic's diet. It appears that at least one reason her sugar was extremely elevated is that she mistakenly thought some things were in keeping with her diet, when they really weren't. In a way, that's good news, because it might mean that she can keep controlling her sugar with diet and pill-based meds. I know she doesn't want to graduate to insulin shots if she doesn't have to. She's 82, and she needs a drastic change like that like she needs a hole in the head.

I have a few things scheduled in the next two weeks, but if my parents head to Brigantine on a day that I can go, I want to go.

Meanwhile, JFM's brother (battling brain cancer) had a rough night last night, and as far as I can tell, there's no significant update on the two family friends (of my parents' generation) who are battling colon and breast cancer, respectively.

So when you're making your list of people to pray for and/or send good thoughts to, please remember all these people. It's just an unending parade of people facing serious medical things on my dad's side of the family, my mom's side of the family, my friends, and my parents' friends.
Captain and Stanley are now cuddly kitties again. Now that the house is a comfortable temperature, they have gone back to being addicted to hugs. :)
Don't you just love online scams?

I have been enrolled in a resume-forwarding service for a while, and that's fine. I've gotten some temp assignments thanks to them.

However, I got an email today that is getting filed immediately under "SCAM". They can't vet EVERY company that goes through their listings and sends job opening information, and some of those companies are sending opportunities that are bogus, to say the least.

What would you say if a company told you to find out more about its job opening at xyyCONSALTING.com/careers? (emphasis added by me.) I don't know about you, but I would think, "What? 'Consalting'? They can't even spell 'consulting' correctly?"

But for kicks, I opened a new browser window and typed in the address they provided, misspelling and all. (I never click on links in emails from unknown senders.)

Well, what do you know. xyyconsalting.com/careers actually exists. It's a real site, created with a typo in the name. If the spelling error triggered my suspicions, they were NOT allayed by the fact that a so-called business would let itself have a website with a misspelling in its web address.

However, still more red flags went up when I noticed that the COMPANY NAME displayed prominently at the top of the page was "XXY Consult, Inc.". Note that it's XXY, but the website URL says XYYconsalting.com. Last time I checked, that's not the same thing.

Inconsistency is never good. Still, I clicked on their job opening link, because I was morbidly curious as to what a company that can't correctly spell either its own initials or its primary function in its URL could possibly have to offer.

Uh huh. I figured as much. The "Finance manager" is supposed to take in money from customers and then use money orders, Western Union, or bank transfers to forward the funds along to the company.

It's called money laundering, folks. Why can't the customers send their funds directly to the company? Why do they have to HIRE someone to take the incoming money, put it into a form that absolutely guarantees that money will be going to the end recipient, and send it along to said end recipient?

Also, this trick is used to bilk money out of stolen credit card numbers. They "send" a payment to this poor sap of a finance manager, the finance manager takes the "payment" that they think is actually worth something, and converts the money into a form that really IS worth something. Then they send the money-that's-actually-worth-something along to the end recipient.

Trouble is, the "payment" sent by the "customer" will eventually turn out to be phony. It will have come from a fake cashier's check, a stolen credit card, or some other thing that's worth absolutely nothing. So basically, the poor sap of a Finance Manager will have the "payment" reversed out of his/her account. But since the money order they bought has already been paid for with their own money, the end recipient still has their money. Real money, not fake money like the Finance Manager received.

This "job" will do nothing but clean out the Finance Manager's own bank account, while leaving the "customer" who sent fake money and the employer who received REAL money both in the clear.

Yeah, great. Where do I sign up? NOT.

I hate these bleeping parasites who do these things. It's been a while since I've received this kind of scam "job offer", but clearly there's plenty of fraud out there.

P.S. I tweaked the name of the guilty company. But if you want to see the actual website, substitute "MCC" for "XYY", and instead of "/careers", substitute "/careers.php". But for goodness sakes, don't sign up for their bogus job offer.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The latest update on John R.: while the buildup of fluid could still be connected to the difficulty of recalculating his dry weight for dialysis, another explanation that's been offered is one that unnerves me pretty badly, because my grandmother went through it. It could be congestive heart failure, as it's fluid in/around the lungs.

Aaaargh. :( THAT wasn't good news to wake up to.

Whatever it is, I hope they straighten out what his new dry weight is supposed to be, now that the bypass helps his heart to work better, so they can take the right amount of excess fluid out of his system during dialysis.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Update on John R.: the fluid they found in his lung area appears to be some sort of asthma-related inflammation, rather than pneumonia or blod-clot-related.

My first thought was, "He's got ASTHMA, too? Diabetes, heart trouble and kidney failure weren't enough? SIGH".

Now that he's had the bypass and his heart pumping blood more efficiently, the people at the dialysis unit are still recalculating his dry weight so they can take the proper amount of fluid out of his system during treatments. Apparently, they haven't quite arrived at the correct formula yet, because the dialysis didn't take out this excess fluid whose appearance has landed him in the hospital.

I'm relieved that the cause of all this wasn't a more serious crisis. On the other hand, with the number of health issues he's dealing with, few or no unexpected symptoms can be brushed off as being minor or of no consequence. They did the right thing by admitting him to the hospital.

If all goes well, he should come home on Thursday. Thank God.
Aaah, phooey. The freaking ice pack I got from the hospital seems to be leaking.

Time to rummage up the one I bought in Louisville and start using that instead.

In the meantime, given how hot it is in this un-air-conditioned house, I suppose there are worse fates than discovering that ice water has leaked all over the ace bandage. At least it feels cool.

Mark emailed me a while ago. The new A/C will be installed tomorrow. Thank God.
Wow. This was a disappointing headline to wake up to. Movie trailers will, quite literally, NEVER be the same.

Voiceover Master Don LaFontaine Dies at 68

I read that Mr. LaFontaine would record answering machine messages for anyone who asked. For free.

I've always wondered what it was like for him, having a voice that famous, when he was doing business by phone. He could probably have placed some VERY interesting-sounding pizza orders, if he'd wanted to.

RIP to someone who really was larger-than-life. We won't see, or should I say "hear", his like again any time soon.