January 2008 Archives

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January 31, 2008
Dig This
Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory... lasts forever.

Parts one and three of that quote (source) are pretty much true.

How about part two?

Chicks: I'm totally available. Ignore the thinning thin hair. Unless you think it's the sign of an exceptionally active brain, in which case, by all means, pay attention.

Just don't expect me to take you dancing quite yet.

Posted by Russ at 02:29 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Among the many things my Mom did while she was here was distributing Mycah's food. The cat, naturally, came to look on Mom as the Best Human In The House.

Now that Mom's gone, Mycah is having to readjust to the status quo ante. By inserting an extra meal into her routine, I've already got her back on a feeding schedule that matches the hours I keep as a night-shift worker. Last night, though, at her old dinner time, she came upstairs and asked me rather politely for her dinner now, please.

By "politely," I mean she didn't brandish a handgun.

I temporarily placated her with her dose of hairball remedy treats, but she was still puzzled: where's the Nice Lady Who Fed Me And Skritched Me And Was So Nice To Me?

Mycah then spent most of the rest of my shift plopped down by my chair, where I could reach down and skritch her or give her a tummy-rub from time to time.

Finally, my shift ended, and as I got up, she recognized her moment and dashed ahead of me downstairs and waited — meowing non-stop — until I fed her.

I think she really misses my Mom. I see her looking around, searching for Nice Lady. I suspect Mom misses Mycah too, but there's another cat back home that needs Mom's attention.

After such an upsetting couple of days of lifestyle adjustments, Mycah needed a chance to recharge:

Posted by Russ at 10:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
I Lied

Tuesday's post was, in part, less than the truth.

In point of fact, while I wrote it my Mom was already in the air on her way back to California.

After she had been here for such an incredibly long visit — since June, you may recall — she thought it might be nice to surprise everyone with her arrival back home. The only one there who knew of her arrival was my sister; someone had to pick Mom up from the airport limo drop-off point.

I had promised, though, that I wouldn't spill the beans to my brother and his family, or to any of my Mom's friends who have been checking the site here for status updates.

I am pleased to report that the surprise was complete.

Posted by Russ at 09:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
January 29, 2008

Physical therapy proceeds apace.

Yesterday's session was productive, though painful. My legs felt (yes, I can feel them!! Woohoo!!) like limp noodles when I'm all done. "No pain, no gain" might be a cliché, but it is so only because it is so often true.

The highlight of the day was when I took ten steps — albeit shakily — without the support of either crutches or a cane.

Plus, I drove myself there and back; I have enough control and strength in my right leg to do that. Which means I can now drive my Mom to the airport and send her let her go home.

I may still be using a cane for a long time, but only for balance, not to hold myself up. Not a bad result for spending the better part of a year's income on medical care.

When I had my taxes done (yes, I have already filed — jealous much?) it turned out that I'm getting almost all my withholding back. And because I delayed payment for the surgery until after the start of this year, I'll get to take that as a deduction a year hence. The refunds won't (not by a very long shot, believe me) make up for the huge cash outlay, but they take away a bit of the sting.

Posted by Russ at 01:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
January 25, 2008
Physical Therapy

I went to my first session of PT earlier today.

The BIG news is that I drove myself there — the first time I've driven since June. It felt good, really good.

The PT session was mainly an assessment of my current state. My leg muscles were described as "tight as a bowstring and weak as a kitten." Not an ideal combination, I can assure you. Particularly once the therapist went to work on me. Egads, that was difficult. If they did to prisoners at Gitmo what they did to me today, Amnesty International would probably have a conniption. Not that they don't already; like most of the Left, having conniptions is what they do.

Still, it's all to the good. Plus, compared to the rest of the bills I've paid, the bill for today's session was like a fart in a hurricane.

Posted by Russ at 05:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
January 23, 2008

Yesterday I had my post-surgical followup appointment with the neurosurgeon at Duke. The point, as far as I was concerned, was to make sure that I'm ready for serious physical therapy, something I haven't actually been doing yet.

So, off to Duke. When we got there, we valet-parked the truck, and then proceeded from the front entrance of the facility to the Neurology Clinic — a distance we estimated at about two or three blocks. It's a big facility. For the first time, I covered this ground without using a wheelchair. That was easily the farthest I've gone and the longest I've been on my feet in a year.

I get around the house these days with a cane, but when out of the house I still use my crutches; it's a matter of safety, really. I'm still too shaky to get very far without three points of contact. But when walking, I don't actually lean too heavily on the crutches, if I can avoid doing so; I use them for balance — because falling down sucks like a nuclear-powered Hoover.

So I made it to the Neurology Clinic in one piece. The doctor poked at my surgical scars, had me take a few steps unsupported, and pronounced himself more than satisfied with my progress. Most importantly, he gave me the go-ahead to proceed with physical therapy.

I then made the trek back out of the clinic. I figure I covered perhaps half a mile yesterday; my legs, hips and butt are certainly complaining about it today.

Since the surgery, I've regained most of the feeling in my legs and control of most of the muscles I haven't been able to use for the past year. This is a huge improvement, but it does come with a downside: my legs hurt. Not all the time, but the muscles, particularly the hamstrings and calves, are as tight as a bowstring.

I've already made the appointment for my first PT session, on Friday. If I survive it, I'll try to describe it.

Posted by Russ at 01:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
January 21, 2008
Quote of the Day

Actually, it's from last week Wednesday....

So last Sunday I did something against doctors orders: I read the New York Times. On the front page - a piece on American war veterans. The Times says they're all homicidal maniacs, committing up to 121 murders total, stateside. But this is the Times, of course - so you know what they leave out is always more important than what they leave in. I'm talking context. Oh - and a soul.

In the New York Post, writer Andy Solstis, along with other bloggers, point out that the murder rate for returning vets is only one-fifth of that of young Americans who did not fight. The take home message: if you want to make peace, make warriors.

Greg Gutfeld, in his nightly Gregalogue.

You're Tivoing/DVRing Red Eye, right?

Posted by Russ at 01:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
January 19, 2008
Winter Arrives

It's been cloudy and drizzly all day. The air temperature has dropped, and now it's snowing.

It has snowed at least once, most winters since I came here to the Raleigh area in 2000. Oddly, I don't remember if we had any snow last year.

I doubt much of this will stick, but it's nice to see. Especially since I don't have to go out of the house.

Posted by Russ at 03:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
January 17, 2008
It... Lives...

The PC is back up and running again.

Now I have to come up with a new excuse for the paucity of posts here.

Posted by Russ at 04:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
January 15, 2008
I Am A Veteran, So...

You might want to keep your distance. Just in case, I mean.

Posted by Russ at 12:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
January 13, 2008
Too Much?

At work, the customer problems we work on are tracked by a ticketing system. New "trouble tickets" are automagically assigned to on-duty engineers in a sort of round-robin system.

When a ticket is assigned, the system fires off an email to whatever address we engineers designate for ourselves. Mine goes to my regular work mail, and a copy to my cellphone, in case I'm away from my desk when the ticket hits.

When I get a "you've got a ticket" mail, my email client is set up to play a sound file from Battlestar Galactica.

I sometimes wonder if I take my job too seriously. Or not seriously enough.

Posted by Russ at 10:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
January 12, 2008
The Best Show You're (Probably) Not Watching

Friday night has, for the last several years, been "Monk" night for my DVR. Great show.

Recently, however, I ran into a show that seems (by visuals and the script) to be based in my hometown, Santa Barbara: Psych, on the USA network, immediately following Monk.

I'd seen promos for the show while watching recorded episodes of Monk, but one night during my recent convalescence, I caught Monk live, and left the TV tuned to USA, and Psych began. I was initially uninterested, until the supposed locale* caught my attention. I watched.

Wow. This may be one of the most entertaining shows I've seen in a long time. It's very cleverly written, with rapid-fire dialogue, interesting story lines and a cast of engaging characters led by stars James Roday and Dulé Hill. Plus, it is very funny.

The general story line: a novice sleuth (Roday) is hired by the police after he cons them into thinking he has psychic powers that help solve crimes. With the assistance of his reluctant best friend (Hill) the duo solve crimes.

Roday shines in this series as the faux-psychic Shawn Spencer. Nothing seems too outlandish for him, and the witty dialogue uses his considerable talent to full effect. Hill excels as the rather-more-serious (and usually much smarter) sidekick Burton "Gus" Guster. The two are inseparable, sharing virtually every scene, and playing off of each other to great effect.

If you enjoy a neat little mystery, and (like me) are a sucker for strong writing with a heavy dose of quirky humor, I strongly recommend that you record and/or watch Psych on USA Network. it should be on Friday nights everywhere, but check your local listings just in case.

(Plus, you can watch full episodes at the USA website.)

* Though set in Santa Barbara, with plenty of stock footage and set dressing, the show is actualy filmed in British Columbia.

Posted by Russ at 10:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
January 10, 2008
Still Not Computing

The PC is still dead-dead-dead, but now we know what specific part is dead; as I guessed, it's the motherboard.

Fortunately, a replacement can be had comparatively inexpensively, though I don't know how quickly. I could, in theory, be up and running again by Monday, but I'm not counting on it. More like Wednesday, I think.

I'm still limited to using the World's Slowest Laptop, which is only minimally functional for anything other than the apps I use for work... and even for those, it's a decrepit wreck. Nothing but the best for the employees, right?

I'll omit the separate rant about how a company might claim that we're the best network engineers in the world, but still treat us like wage slaves. Which I suppose we are.

Posted by Russ at 08:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
January 09, 2008
Too Much To Ask

I logged in to work today, only to discover that as of this week I have been tasked to support IP telephony on our 30,000-router network.

Once, just once in my career, I'd like to get training on something I'm supposed to support before I have to support it.

Because there's nothing that makes me feel like more of a schmuck than being being responsible for fixing things I don't know the first thing about, especially when it's urgent and important.

Posted by Russ at 04:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Post-Surgical Update

For those few folks who may have been wondering about how I'm doing since the surgery... well, I've been back at work (telecommuting, of course) since last week, since only five days after the second surgery, which might give an indication as to the relative rapidity of my recovery.

I have a pretty cool scar on my head, with lumpy bits of hardware underneath. It turned out that none of the installed hardware is any kind of memory upgrade. Dang. You'd think that a $5000 piece of hardware might have a little extra RAM thrown in. I guess not.

The entry point on my abdomen is healing up again after they "unzipped" it for the followup surgery. Still looks bad, but it should be fully healed in a week or so.

I'm walking around the house on just a cane about 95% of the time, reverting to crutches only when my legs are too stiff or sore or tired... none of which is really unexpected, given such a long period of non-use. I also still use the crutches when leaving the house, but that's mostly a safety issue; better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.

I can occasionally take a few steps unsupported. No, that's not quite right... I don't use the cane for support, but for balance, as a second point of contact when I pick one foot up off the floor. WIth the cane, I'm moving pretty well, but I'm still rather wary of falling over. So far, though, no accidents.

Basically, I'm back to where I was in about May of last year, and still improving. I don't know how much improvement there will be, but I really do not expect I'll ever be back to 100% — I suspect there is some nerve damage here. Still, I'm waaay better than I was five weeks ago, and improving rather than declining. I may end up (as I have sort of suspected I might) using a cane permanently, but I can live with that, considering the alternative.

Finally, my hair is growing back. Every time I cut it all off, I get a little concerned that it might just give up and refuse to grow back. Thus far, though, only the hair on the top of my head has done so. The remainder is coming along just fine.

Posted by Russ at 02:40 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
It Does Not Compute

The old PC is still in the shop; due to the holidays, there was apparently a backlog of work for the diagnosticians.

I'm not too concerned. I've already decided to think of the box as dead-dead-dead, and have begun planning for a replacement. If anything can be salvaged from the old PC, well, that's gravy. But it is an older architecture — AGP rather than PCI type — so there won't be much that can be reused, apart from the hard drive and the memory (I think.)

Still, we're talking a minimum of three or four more business days — minimum.

Posted by Russ at 01:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
January 05, 2008
Dead PC

My PC went belly up this evening. It powers up, but never gets to the BIOS, never boots up. I suspect the motherboard is toast, but geek that I am, I'm a network geek, not a PC geek, so that's only a guess.

I guess maybe I should call the Geek Squad. I wonder how long (and how much cash) it'll take to get the PC back on its feet.

Until then, no mail, no casual browsing. Good thing I have my employer-issued laptop here - it's the World's Slowest Laptop, but at least it works enough to let me post this.

Posted by Russ at 08:57 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
January 04, 2008
Silly Iowans

In the past, I've spent more than a little time working for Republican causes. My GOP bona fides can, I think, go unchallenged. I'm not a New York Times version of a "lifelong Republican."

But this year.... Let me put it this way: if Huckabee wins the nomination, I'm out. I won't vote for any of the Democrats, but there's no chance I'd vote for Huckabee. Zero. I won't lift a finger to help him.

We've already had one Jimmy Carter, and that was one too many.

We've already had one Arkansas governor in the White House, and that was one too many.

(See also: Frank J.)

Posted by Russ at 02:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
January 02, 2008
You Know What To Do

Ah, here comes another must-read from Bill Whittle: Forty Second Boyd and The Big Picture (part 1 and part 2.)

Set aside some time, then go read. No excuses.

Posted by Russ at 12:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Grindstone, Prepare to Meet Nose

It's been just six days since my corrective surgery, and I think I'm ready to go back to work this afternoon. I'd have gone back last week had it not been for the complication.

I wonder how many emails I have waiting for me?

I wonder if I can remember any of my passwords?

Posted by Russ at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
January 01, 2008
That's Finally Over

Good riddance, 2007.

2008 has got to be — will be — better.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Posted by Russ at 12:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)