Double shift

The worst recurring nightmare I ever have is one where I go to work and have a disastrous day.  This time, I dreamed I went to work, and all day I kept dumping my coffee on the floor and trying to drink out the bottom of the inverted cup.  (It’s a metaphor.)  The worst part of this dream is that it always ends the same way — I wake up and have to go to work.  I’m taking my sippy mug with me, just in case.

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The Stroke Saga

The Stroke Saga

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who had a little stroke…

OK, technically I was neither little nor a boy, but on May 26, 2011, I had a minor stroke, or to be a little less oxymoronic, a very small part of my brain starved to death one morning.  I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I ended up spending 3 weeks in the hospital learning how to stand and walk again.

During that time, I kept my friends updated via Facebook.  I did this for a number of reasons, the most important of which was to stay ahead of the rumor mill.  But I also wrote about my experiences for my benefit, to make sure I was still me, and that the damage was purely physical and not mental.

But something odd happened.  What started as data points slowly turned into a story.  A story about a man trying to mock his way through the worst thing that had ever happened to him.  And largely succeeding.  After 45 years of watching TV, I was suddenly living in a poorly scripted House/Scrubs crossover episode.  And since I seemed to be the only one aware of it, I took it upon myself to make the experience as entertaining for everyone else as I could.

A lot of people laughed, both in and out of the hospital.  That made the whole experience livable.  Once I started to write that the whole experience would have been fascinating if it were happening to someone else.  I never wrote that, because if this had happened to someone I cared about, I would have been basically useless.  I can laugh at things happening to me that I couldn’t if they happened to someone else.  Because I believe that the good Lord is looking out for me.  Laying in the hospital the first night, I found myself faced with two possibilities: either God had forgotten to keep me from having a stroke, or God knew and let it happen for a reason.  And once I got down to that question, the answer was easy.  And my response was surprisingly easy, too.  “OK, let’s see what you have planned this time.” Continue reading

Helping a Hand

(Note: This is part 1 of a longer story.  Parts 2 through 4 are here, here, and here.)

Back in November, as part of my ongoing regimen of Immortality Aversion Therapy, I started having a problem with my hand.  The ring finger of my right hand started getting stuck.  Whenever I would close my fist and try to open it, that one finger would stay in place, and then suddenly snap up like a rubber band breaking.  All my other fingers were fine.  Since it didn’t hurt much as long as I didn’t clench my fist for any length of time, I didn’t get around to seeing a doctor about it until this morning.

I expect certain things when I go to the doctor, and I’m not often disappointed.

1) I had to fill out five forms (though I’ve been to this practice before).  Three of the forms asked almost identical questions.  (Apparently, these forms don’t get along well enough to share information.)  The others were some sort of permission slips (in case the doctor has to take my hand on a field trip, I suppose).

2) On the other hand (no pun intended), the receptionist that handed me the bale of forms was very cute, and the doctor’s assistant was downright gorgeous.  I have come to expect this, even though it defies the laws of probability.  (Note to self: find a reason to hire a receptionist and doctor’s assistant.) Continue reading

Ice Cream of the Future

Reposted from Facebook:
Today at the mall, I once again passed the kiosk for Dippin’ Dots, “Ice Cream of the Future”.  I’ve never tried it, because I live in the present, so I assume it’s not ready yet.  But this got me thinking.  I’ve been a student of the future since I was 8.  I remember looking forward to the launch of the Jupiter II in 1997, 2 years before the moon will be blasted out of orbit by a freak accident at… the nuclear waste dump on the dark side, and 4 years before the launch of the Discovery mission to Jupiter.  (Note to self: in the future, stay away from things and places named Jupiter.)  I’ve seen and read about alliances and empires and federations from this century until the year 10,191 and beyond.  I’ve seen humans live underground to avoid the apes on the surface, and live on the surface to avoid the Morlocks underground.  I’ve seen dystopian worlds where some people live forever, and utopian worlds where everyone dies at 30.  (Note to self: check this one out — a utopia full of twenty-somethings is an oxymoron.) But across a hundred futures spanning a million years, I have never once seen anyone enjoying a serving of Dippin’ Dots.  No one ever walked down the DS9 Promenade or the Babylon 5 Zocalo and passed a kiosk for “Ice Cream of Right Now” in dot form.  The TARDIS has never materialized in an alien bazaar where people were marveling at “Ice Cream of the Distant Past”. I’m not sure what to make of this.  Someone is lying to me, either the Dippin’ Dots people or the future.  I am not happy about this.
As an aside, according to my friend Sara, other people walk around the mall thinking about clothes and shopping and where they parked and stuff. Bunch of weirdos…

Looking for neckties

Reposted from Facebook:

When I remodeled the house last March, I threw stuff in boxes pretty quickly and randomly in order to stay ahead of the wave of remodeling crashing on the shore of one room after another.  As a result, I lost track of some things for months.  I still haven’t found a mailing tube full of posters, and some specific books.  Three weeks ago, while getting dressed to read at Mass, I couldn’t find my neckties.  They used to hang on a coat rack in the dining room, but the coat rack was damaged and left for dead.  So I did what people have done since caveman times with items they need but don’t use very often.  I put my ties Someplace Safe.  Now as you all know, Someplace Safe is like the Island on Lost.  It moves around so it can’t be located easily.  I searched four closets and a storage room unsuccessfully.  Today I was a reader at Mass again, so last night I went looking again.  I found all my ties, together, where they were supposed to be, hanging in a closet I had searched three times before.  I can only assume that I had been suffering from acute tie blindness, a condition which renders neckwear invisible to the naked eye.  Please give generously to the American Tie Blindness Association.  Because a tie is a terrible thing to wear, and no one should have to search for two hours to find one.

John’s Rules of the Universe

As an observer of humans for over half a century, I’ve come to realize that there are certain rules and ideas that make life easier to manage.  I’ve come to call these John’s Rules of the Universe.  For years I have thrown these into conversation to help people understand why they’re unhappy, or why I’m unhappy, or how things really do make sense, or how they really don’t.  I use the same rules over and over, but after the first one, I started making up the number.  Recently, my manager started writing down the ones she liked, but that just put pressure on me to keep the numbering straight.

Here’s the full list.  Sometimes I swap #2 and #3 (usually based on my mood), and the order of #6 thru #9 changes as needed.  #1 was a very important lesson from my mother.  #6 has been with me since college.  #2, #4, #5, #7 and #9 were inspired by IBM.  #3 and #8 were inspired during my post-layoff wandering in the desert.  #10 has been around for a while, but I only got the wording right in the last couple years.  #11 was one of the great lessons from my stroke.  And #12 is my response to people who demand my approval without bothering to find out what I approve of.

  1. Don’t pick at it, it’ll get infected.
  2. The best way to get others to do what you want is to get them to want it too.
  3. If something is unacceptable, don’t accept it.
  4. Never give up what you need to get what you want. Always give up what you want to get what you need.
  5. If you’re not willing to play the game, don’t be upset when you don’t win.
  6. Never kick a man when he’s down unless you’re the one who kicked him down in the first place.
  7. Only change things to make them better.  Never change things because you’re bored.
  8. Unhappiness is the difference between what you want and what is. Pick the smaller one and change it.
  9. Happiness is not a destination.  Happiness is a mode of travel.
  10. Benefit of the doubt requires doubt.
  11. If other people can’t laugh at your misfortunes, why bother having misfortunes in the first place?
  12. Respect is not an entitlement.  Respect is a reward for good behavior.

This never works out well for humanity (Military Division)

This never works out well for humanity (Military Division)

I have a theory.  If humans end up wiping themselves out, it will be because not enough people are science fiction fans.  This article from 2010 is a case in point.  Apparently, the Pentagon budgeted $6 million to research the creation of “synthetic organisms” that can live indefinitely, unless the genetically-coded kill switch is triggered.  The purpose of these organisms is to eliminate “the randomness of natural evolutionary advancement” to “produce the intended biological effect”.  It’s hard to tell whether their goal is to create the Captain Trips super-flu virus from “The Stand”, or merely Cylons.  Either way, this never works out well for mankind.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/02/pentagon-looks-to-breed-immortal-synthetic-organisms-molecular-kill-switch-included/

“In the beginni…

“In the beginning, the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and has been widely regarded as a bad move.” – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy