Saturday, April 30, 2005

Separate and together... the simple beauty of diversity. Posted by Hello

Got this from another blog but here's proof!!! There is water on Mars! Posted by Hello

Places to go...

Not much to write about with such little time to write. I've been away from the blog for awhile getting things ready at work. Hopefully, when the dust settles I can get back to posting on a somewhat regular basis again. I rather enjoy just letting thoughts spill onto the blog whether anyone reads them or not.

As shown in the picture below, my office is the forested lands of the State of Washington. Another blogger friend of mine, Harley seems to be a bit envious of the job I have judging from his comment made on the picture. Heck, I'd be too if I wasn't. I love my job... well most of it anyway. I don't necessarily like the "management" or "supervisory" part of it but I do love the "on ground", "in the field" stuff. I've been solving puzzles for over 30 years but this is by far the best puzzle solving job I've had in my career. I'm not rubbing it in Harley, just agreeing with you.

The only downside to it is that I have to travel a lot. The travel takes me away from J, the "kids" and the "grandkids" but it's primarily seasonal and rarely lasts longer than two to three weeks at a time. Those more complicated puzzles may take more time.


I'll be gone next week, I have places to go... sent there by my work. I'll be gone until the evening of May 06 wandering around the state getting things done.

Loomis, tucked away in the folds of the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains. Short of the Canadian border, west of the Columbia River. It's a quiet, peaceful place that'll be my first stop. I'll be leaving tomorrow morning at 0400 hrs. so I can arrive by 1000 hrs. Three days, two nights... working, mentoring, preparing...

Preparing for a summer of fire... preparing others to solve the puzzles of this summer's inevitable fire causes. Either way, Loomis is looming in the horizon... less than 20 hours away.

After Loomis the next stop will be Deer Park, south of Colville and north of Spokane. I'll leave Loomis Wednesday afternoon or early evening and will be doing a repeat of the recertification training for those folks attending. I'm going to be hanging around Deer Park until Friday, May 06... working, mentoring, preparing... then I'm heading back home for a break.

The whole vicious circle starts again on May 10 in a different part of the state... and so on through May and into June until I've successfully recertified 93 folks.

I'll catch up with all from time to time as I wander around.

Until I do be safe, have fun and live life!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A day in the office... Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Guinea Pigs, Experiments and Smoking Cessation...

Or is it "Sensation?"

I had that nasty habit... "had" mind you. Monday, April 18, 2005 I started that "Nicoderm" patch thingy and it appears to be working... actually, it IS working and working well. Every morning since Monday the old patch comes off and a new patch goes on. I find myself working through the remainder of the day almost completely without any urges... well, smoking related urges. The only smoking related urge I seem to have is the "reaching" urge... you know that subconscious, so very well rehearsed right hand reach for that pack of (now phantom) cigarettes in my left shirt pocket. I usually catch myself halfway into the reach and pull my hand back to my side. It only happens once or twice a day... usually when I'm not busy... usually when I'm sitting on my lazy butt on the couch or something. Either way I'm well on my way to becoming a "smoke free" citizen... again.

Here's what's happened over the past several weeks that seems to have piqued my interest. We all know by now a new Pope's been selected so I won't go there. And yes, the Michael Jackson trial is shaping up to be as bizarre an affair as it was trumped up to be so I'll leave that one alone too... but does anyone know of the University of Michigan's med school experiments on live human guinea pigs???

I do! I know about it! I'm one of those little pigs! I was offered up to them by my HMO. Holy crap (sorry pope guy) I never thought I'd ever be used as a petri dish experiment by any back alley lab let alone a publicly funded UNIVERSITY. Okay, well... Army time doesn't count here... I mean, when I was in the Army pretty much all of us were subjected to and everything was an "experiment".

But I'm talking now! Real world stuff! Here's what happened. I got my mail one day... not email, but the real mail... that "snail mail" stuff. There was an envelope in it that really caught my attention right out of the box. You know, one of those "OPEN IMMEDIATELY", "TIMED RESPONSE ENCLOSED". It was in an official looking envelope with my name (spelled correctly) as the addressee. I never get "snail mail" addressed to me anymore and certainly don't get it with my name spelled correctly! (Well, unless it's a bill but that doesn't count).

Anyway, here I am standing at the gaggle of mailboxes holding this mysterious envelope and several other familiar looking windowed envelopes. I couldn't take my mind off of the "newby"... the "name spelled correctly" piece of mail. My eyes scanned it for a return address but all I could find were initials that didn't make any sense whatsoever to me and one of those generic "P.O. Box, Suite" things. I walked back to the house and plopped the mail onto the kitchen table. J must have seen the puzzled look on my face because she asked me "what's up?" I watched as her eyes fell on the pile of mail. I didn't answer. She sorted through it and came to THAT envelope.

"What's this?" she asked, staring at the envelope.

"Dunno". I really didn't.

"Who's it from?" she was looking at the return address.

"Dunno". I was hoping she might.

"Well it must be important, they spelled your name right"

"Yah. I saw that too" I did, but then I already told all of you that.

"So open it" I've learned long ago this phrase is simply a formality to her. She slipped her fingernail under the flap and pulled. Voila! the envelope was opened. Simple move, mystery soon to be solved... or so we thought.

J dumped the contents onto the table top... a one page, one sided, three paragraph letter with a signature that I couldn't make out. No return address, no title under the signature, no "sincerely" or "thank you"... nuthin' but three paragraphs, five mysterious numbers and a (true) illegible, signature.

"Who's that?" J pointed at the signature.


"Hey, it says here you've been 'nominated' to participate in a controlled test" J announced as she read the first paragraph. "you have to go to a website and answer some questions first."

Now, I was really skeptical. Here I am watching my wife read a letter addressed to me with my name spelled correctly sent to my home address from a group of initials who's address is a generic P.O. Box, Suite thingy somewhere in Michigan. I mean, it's not that I can't read or anything. It's just that I leave the mail stuff to J. She has that uncanny ability to figure "mailed" things out and culls out the "junk mail" without even opening the envelope. Because of my bad history with junk mail I'm not allowed to even look at it anymore... another story. Let's just say that's her job... it's been her job for a long, long time.

"So throw it. It's probably nothing" I offered, knowing it was a futile offering at best.

"Nope. This is something. We're going to the website." She was positive. Way too positive for me to even think of repeating the "throw it" idea to her.

We went to the computer, I logged on and went to the site. I had to enter a "code" provided to me in the last paragraph of that mysterious letter. After the code was entered "I" came up on the screen... well, not "me" actually but everything about me. I scanned the information, noting a familiar logo at the top of the webpage. My HMO's logo. It was there in bold right next to another one that was later identified as the University of Michigan's logo.

We both read on. Mystery solved. My HMO submitted my name to this quit smoking program offered to 100 persons nationally (or something like that) by the University of Michigan's medical school (I'm pretty sure there's humans involved somewhere on their end but all references were to the "Medical School"). The "program" was actually identified as a year long "study". I'm not totally stupid... in med schools studies are normally called "experiments". Business schools do "studies" not med schools.

Either way, I decided "yah-tah-hey" and gave it a go. I filled out their pages of personal and psychological profiling information and was subsequently invited to participate in their "study" (read "experiment"). I was going to be provided "patches" free of charge and was encouraged to use the patches to assist me in my quest to quit smoking. Until I got this opportunity to participate in their study I really didn't know I had a desire to quit smoking... well, let me qualify that. I knew I wanted to, just didn't believe I could do it on my own and survive without being criminally charged for something in the process... let alone have my loved one's survive along with me.

So you see, that's what this "Guinea Pig" thing is all about. I'm one. I'm wallowing in a petri dish daily. Being monitored and periodically quizzed. My answers recorded, my observations noted, my moods documented. I must admit, my part of this "experiment" thing is rather simple... wear the patch and answer some questions from time to time. In the end I'll be "smoke free"... or so I hope. It'd be my luck that I've been provided the placebo patch. Even so, they appear to be working...

Mind over matter. My Dad's favorite phrase and over the years I've pretty much proved he's right.

Later all, take care.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The insanity of it all... Posted by Hello

Honey, Vinegar, Water and green tea...

The ancient Roman's elixir of the Gods! Fed to Rome's marching legions as they pursued global conquest. We all know what happened there...

I read about it a long time ago. 1-3 tbs. of Apple Cider Vinegar, 8 oz. of water and mix in the honey to taste. Mix it up, drink it a half hour before each meal and voila! you have a dieter's drink that also energizes you... or so they say. The green tea?? well, it takes the place of my coffee I used to drink (like a fiend) all of the time. My doctor made it very clear that coffee was OUT! But, the green tea takes some getting used to. I love the bite of strong coffee and living up here in the Pacific Northwest we have "biting" coffee... strong, biting coffee. The triple shot coffee I like. As for the green tea, it just doesn't have the same kick but I'm sticking with it...

Besides, I don't like my doctor. Well, it's not that I don't like him... he's an okay person but he's getting increasingly demanding and annoying. Of all people you'd think doctors would know that as a person ages certain things happen to their bodies. I'm not talking about the forests of nasal and ear hairs that take root and seem to appear "overnight" shortly after that 40th. birthday... that braidable, combable type of hair. Nor am I talking about the fuzzy vision and marked hearing loss that seems to creep in after you get to the 50 year mark. No, I'm talking about the aching, creaking, popping, crackling, swelling of joints brought about by earlier injuries to the body acquired during those youthful, adventurous years when the bones were made of rubber and anything that could be achieved, was. Those days when mind WAS over matter.

I'm also talking about the ten to twenty pounds of extra padding that collects over the winter months, when things taste good and weather (or any other good excuse) makes exercise less appealing... hence it (exercise) doesn't happen. Either way the doctor should know this stuff and should cut me some slack. I'm not young but I'm also not old. I'm "in between" and it takes me longer to realize I just can't do ALL of the things that I used to do... at least, not as well and certainly not with the same overnight successes.

When he says I have to lose twenty pounds I take it as a personal challenge to lose thirty, what can I say... that's always been my nature... "one-up-manship". My body can stand to lose thirty I think, but he argues with me about that. He claims to know my body better than I do. Hell, I've lived in it for over 51 years... I should know. Besides it reminds me many, many times each day that it, like the doctor, is getting annoyed with me and it seems to be paying me back for what I (and others... I can't take all of the blame) did to it when I was younger. Kind of like a walking, talking, living, breathing vessel of trojan horse viruses... all set to activate at certain stages of life. Some promoting hair growth, some promoting hair loss... some promoting aches and pains, others promoting organ "deterioration" (I hate that word!... "deterioration").

As for the doc... he pokes, prods, weighs, scolds and prescribes remedies and medicines to counteract my body's righteously deserved rebellion. I mean Hell, between the doc and my body I feel like I'm living in a friggin' war zone. My body attacks somewhere, the doc counterattacks with something that makes my body counterattack the doc's counterattack that makes the doc counterattack my body's counterattack and so on... you get the drift... domino theory stuff happening up close and personal, all around me.

So, now the latest battle line is this "weight" thing... and the doc's bedside manner when it comes to weight "challenges" really sucks. It's not like I'm grossly overweight or "obese" but, to put it in his words I'm "in need of some weight loss and stabilization to avoid becoming obese and to avoid the ailments and illnesses" that are associated with being "overweight" (note the distinction he makes between "obese" and "overweight"... not much of one). "After all" he tells me EVERY time I see him... "you're getting older and your body knows it. You're becoming more vulnerable." Yeah, like I have to be reminded...

The thing that really bothers me is that the doc's convinced we're engagegd in a battle with my body and he's probably right. He's assigned himself as the supreme commander over this battle for my health and has mustered all of his knowledge, forces, remedies and medicines to repel this evil body's vengeful assaults. He draws up his battle plans for the year and puts his forces to work counting on me, his loyal lieutenant, to carry them out precisely... (yeah, trust me doc). We discuss these plans periodically, in confidence and with the secrecy that once shrouded the creation of nuclear energy... or at least we think we do. But I got to thinking about the doc's and my top secret, battle plan discussions and realized that while we're making these preparations, discussing the finer points of the battlefield strategies my body is there listening to us, taking notes... in the same room listening and prepping itself for our pending assaults. It's evident to me at least that my body is living any enemy combatant's dream... it's being afforded an unchecked ability to spy on us and our plans 24/7. It's called proximics... not much I can do about that. So in the end, like it or not doc my money's on my body. I actually think it's going to win out some day in this battle of life. Besides, I don't think I've ever owned a car that has gone over 200,000 miles let alone kept one for over 50 years.

Now, back to the vinegar, honey and water concoction mentioned earlier. People say it tastes "peculiar" and you have to get used to it. I'm sure it does but I've been drinking that concoction off and on for so long now that I've pretty much acquired a taste for it. So, I'm back at it... I'm mixing it up and drinking it again. Seems like it's always around this time every year (spring) that I break out the honey, apple cider vinegar and mix it in hot water so I can lose some of that excess baggage I acquired whilst wallowing and eating my way through the winter holiday food troughs before summer comes.

I know it doesn't sound like a very tasty concoction but it is... tasty that is. How tasty? Well, it has it's own unique sweet vinegary flavor so it's tasty... I just can't decide if it's a good "tasty" or a bad "tasty" but it is indeed "tasty" and it seems to work. But then again it's probably all psychological. Either way, I've succeeded in shedding ten of my unwanted pounds over the past week and a half and am targeting the remaining twenty pounds for the next several weeks.

For now the doc's proud, my body's angry and I'm caught in the middle. Go figure, at 51 years old I'm caught in the middle... who'd of thunk it!

Take care all.