Saturday, September 29, 2007

Just One More Thing To Worry About

In case you haven't seen this news article, evidently there is an increase recently of cases where people gets killed from a brain-eating amoeba in lakes. The discovery of said amoeba occurred in Australia in the sixties, and evidently it exists all around the world...usually in hot climates. The numbers of people affected are still tiny, of course...six people killed so far this year...but they do seem to be increasing slightly. Also, there's no effective treatment once you're infected, and usually, the cause of death isn't identified until after the fact.

All in all, I'm now glad I didn't go swimming in the lake at this one resort I visited earlier this month. I did go swimming once in the lake there a few years ago, and ended up getting a nasty sinus infection, but no deadly amoebas. At least, a well-maintained pool is safe, since the chlorine there kills all the bacteria (or amoebas) in the water.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Been too long since I posted here. Ah well, such is life. I need to get into a regular posting "habit" which I have failed at doing in the past, but we'll see how it goes. Anyhow I've said this same thing before, so on to the main topic of the post.

I have been rather slow in finding new docs since I moved from Wisconsin to here. I definitely don't miss my old company, but I was kind of fond of the area where I lived, and I had over time, through trial and error, gotten a good medical "team" of doctors I'd go to see for whatever ailed me...primary care doc, chiropractor, ENT doc for my ear issues, a dentist, and a dermatologist. So far, I've really only gotten a new chiropractor, dentist and dermatologist. It can take a while to find doctors you like. I've had primary care docs and dentists before that I didn't care for...and if you don't care for the person taking care of you, you probably won't tell them everything that's bugging you, either.

So back to this dermatologist. I picked him kind of at random and by location proximity from the list of approved providers for my PPO. However, he does seem to know his stuff, and has done a fairly good job so far, detecting two flaky patches on my skin that turned out to be early basal cell carcinomas. (That is a topic for another post, but as a fair-skinned man who grew up in New Mexico, I unfortunately have a tendency towards this problem.) He seemed a bit hesitant, though, to deal with another issue, which was to have a cyst on the back of my neck removed. It had been there for years, and seemed to be getting bigger, so I wanted it OUT. He pointed out the (slight) risks involved in removing it, but finally agreed to do the removal. I'd rather have a slight scar on the back of my neck than a weird bump on it.

Anyway, yesterday was the big day, it got removed, and I was all stitched up. Evidently the cyst was larger than my doc had thought it would be...I felt like saying, DUH, why do you think I wanted it removed? He advised against any strenuous activity for the rest of the day, which was no problem for me since I had yesterday and today off. However, I did need to get some groceries, so I figured, what could go wrong on a trip to the store?

You can probably see where this is headed. They had put a compression bandage on my neck at the doctor's office, but since it's on a part of my neck that moves when I turn my head, the bandage came loose while in the store, and I ended up checking out, with my wound seeping blood, all unbeknownst to me until I got to my car.

When I got home, I decided that I'd rather not go out again that night, so I tried reattaching the bandage myself. Lacking first aid tape, I decided to use some electrician's tape I had. Which worked fairly well, but didn't exactly look ordinary:

I had thought about going to see a movie last night, but decided that I didn't want to try out my Frankenstein bandage in public.

The bandage did come off in the middle of the night, but fortunately the stitches had stopped bleeding by then, so I was able to use a normal band-aid to replace the black tape and thick gauze pad. So now, I look fairly presentable. Well, as much as I ever do on my days off. I still need a shave. Hopefully, no kids saw my weird bandage or stitched-up neck yesterday at the store. I'd hate to give anyone nightmares.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dark Tower Quiz

I haven't posted one of these in a while...I found this one kind of entertaining. My results are below:

The Dark Tower Character Test

You are Roland! As the last Gunslinger, you have a courageous and steadfast nature, and are unswerving in your actions. Because you act calmly in the face of danger, people like to to have you as an ally. However, you can be cold when it comes to human contact, and have betrayed your friends in the past for your own needs, and need to learn how to love others, or you will become just as heartless as the forces you are trying to fight! Try lightening up a bit.
Take this quiz!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I thought I'd use today's post to talk about 9/11 a bit...because I am very overdue for a blog post and if today's anniversary doesn't get me off my butt to write something, I don't know what will.

Planebuzz has a good memorial entry today commemorating the airline employees killed in the attack. I'm sure there are many memorials happening today, both live and online (I believe Dariush is covering some of them for his paper) but I thought I would present my own memories of that day.

I wish I had an exciting story to tell you of what it was like when all the aircraft in the US were forced to suddenly land and everything that happened in the dispatch office during the event...but the fact is, I had worked an odd shift on the 10th, from 4PM until 2AM on the 11th, and then I went home and went to bed around 4AM. By the time the attacks happened, I was sound asleep.

My mother called and left a message on my machine saying she knew I must be busy but she wanted to call and see how I was doing, which I thought was odd. I went into my computer room/office and pulled up the internet, which is how I first found out what happened. Since my old airline in Vegas (National Airlines) had a flight out of JFK numbered Flight 11, and since we flew 757's, I was especially freaked out by the news. I called work, and they told me that all our planes were landed and safe, which was a relief. I felt really sorry for the huge loss of life though...but I don't think it really sunk in that day...I was just more numb than anything.

I had to go into work that afternoon, although we didn't have any flights in the air, obviously. I worked at the airport itself, and normally there was a shuttle bus running between our office just off the airport and the airport ramp itself, but service that day was canceled. After wandering around headquarters for a bit, I ran into a flight attendant I knew who offered to give me a ride to the airport, which I accepted.

The airport was indeed a ghost town that day. Planes parked everywhere, some of them from airlines I'd never heard of. I went ahead and walked into our tiny office, which had the first signs of life I'd encountered since walking into the terminal. Our FAA representative was present, and my boss, and his boss. We didn't really have much to do, though. A couple of our planes were parked in Indianapolis, another couple outside of Chicago in Rockford, and the rest hadn't taken off. We were a pretty small operation; at the time I think we had maybe 16 planes total. All of our stranded crew members had hotel rooms, which was fortunate since nobody would be flying anywhere for several more days. Basically, we just answered phone calls that day, and the next day, and sat around waiting to see when we could fly again.

My airline was already in Chapter 11 before that day, and looking to emerge soon, but the events of that awful day kind of helped seal our fate. I don't know, we may have gone out of business eventually anyhow...the business model was based on cheap oil, which probably would have gone away soon enough, 9/11 or no 9/11, but as I'm sure everyone is aware, the airline industry was rocked hard by this tragedy.

National also wasn't helped by the fact that the government wouldn't grant us a federally backed post-9/11 loan, despite having set aside ten billion dollars for such loans. They granted our main competitor one of those loans, though. Oh well. We did continue flying until November of 2002, when we ceased operations very suddenly, while I was on vacation in Dallas. I fortunately had some Southwest passes that enabled me to fly home without buying a full fare ticket.

Looking back before 9/11, I did sometimes think security was kind of a joke at the airport. For instance, many of the custodial staff that cleaned our planes primarily spoke Spanish...they may have all been legal immigrants, but I kind of doubt it. That, and it was just really easy to get through security. I think things have improved somewhat since then, but there are still holes. However, in a free society, I think that no security system designed to screen vast numbers of people will ever be perfect.

While I felt really sorry for all the people's families who were killed that day, I confess to getting sick of the news coverage about the event in the months immediately afterwards. Perhaps it was my attempt at trying to live in denial and hope things would turn out OK where I was working at.

Things worked out for me personally all right in the end, of course. When National did shut down, I found another airline job (the one in Wisconsin, where I was at when I started this blog) within a couple months, and it even included a paid move. I rented out my house for a while, and when it became obvious I wouldn't be moving back to Vegas and I sold it, I made a decent profit and sold it quickly due to the then-hot real estate market of 2004. And, just when I was getting really sick of my job in Wisconsin and worrying about being fired, I got hired by the Rather Large Airline. So life has not really been bad. I still sometimes wonder what would have happened to me if 9/11 hadn't ever occured, but sometimes you just have to take what life throws at you (even when it's a bag of cow manure) and keep on moving.

My own little memorial to those whose lives were lost that day can be found here. at the Light A Candle site. My candle there will only stay lit for 48 hours, but I'll never forget.