Sunday, February 28, 2010

Update - Cindy

This is her 4th day at home after the whole hospital spree. She's doing well, and we're actually leaving the house today. Leaving the house is a bigger deal because of our steep, steep steps. We're working on moving downstairs.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

We’re Back!

On Wednesday 2/18/10 Cindy was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and was admitted to a hospital in Ocala.

Her symptoms started out slowly and simply, perhaps a month before 2/18/10. She was short of breath, and easily tired. Next, it became obvious that something was wrong with her tummy – it went from its usual playful squishiness to a harder and harder consistency, until it was like clay. If you pressed a finger into her tummy and then let go, the imprint would remain for fifteen seconds or more.

Turns out she was retaining at least 25 pounds (that’s three gallons, folks) of extra water. Once admitted to the local hospital, she was put on drugs to lower her heart rate and blood pressure, blood thinners, and drugs to force her body to shed the excess water, which she accomplished in four or five days.

The local hospital was doing a lot of arm-waving and throwing lots of acronyms our way. She would need an AICD, she would need a VAD, she might need a heart transplant.

On Sunday she was transferred from our local hospital to Shands Hospital at the University of Florida (Gainesville) where they continued the treatment.

Shands cardiologists tell us Cindy has low thyroid hormone levels and an enlarged heart (left ventricle), which should be manageable with medication - they discharged her yesterday, one week after she checked in to our local hospital.

We still don’t know for sure what the future holds, but we have been very fortunate to have a lot of support from coworkers, friends, and family.

So the moral of the story is: If you have difficulty breathing for no good reason (walking from the living room to the kitchen), and seem to be retaining water, get to an emergency room!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Race Day!

My first ever official 5K event went well this morning, it was cold but I managed without a hat or gloves. I ran the whole thing - my training told me I could definitely run the needed 3.1 miles, but you never know when a surprise cramp or twisted ankle is going to sabotage you.

I'm not really a runner, I don't read anything about running and this might be a cliche for all I know, but there was a definite sense of togetherness within the group of strangers I ran with. The sounds of panting, talking, laughing and feet padding on asphalt made me feel as if I were a part of a migrating herd - it was a good feeling.

I would definitely do this again, and I recommend it to others.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Dark End of Shady

I’m currently applying to software training positions around the country.

My imagination being what it is, I pictured getting a grand new training position after a brief phone interview. The daydream continues - - my new employers are not native English speakers, but seem very friendly over the phone and are eager to meet me.

I’m flown first class to the Bimini Isles, where I’m provided an elegant seaside villa. The next day, I discover that my job is to teach Halo 3 to a group of middle aged foreign gentlemen, all wearing elaborate headdresses.

Through an interpreter, they explain that they wish to win a Halo 3 XBox 360 tournament in six months. They all seem nice enough, but a number of the attendants are carrying uzi’s – the interpreter explains that the gun wielding dudes are secret service protecting the crown prince, who is among my trainee’s (“Oh, forgive me Mister Trainer, I can not say which one…”).

After just a few minutes of training the guys, it’s clear that this group is not your average Halo crowd as they are taking careful notes about squad organization, group communication and objective coordination. They loudly debate the exact marching order they should use for a full ten minutes. The guy assigned sniper is quickly hazed with an exploding Code Red Mt. Dew when he kills an enemy with a shot to the throat when a headshot had been ordered – an XBox is ruined by the soda, but another console is brought in within five minutes as if this is a common thing.

Returning that evening to my villa, I am met by a masseuse who provides a thorough treatment. After a delicious dinner (a ‘Double Double with Cheese’ from ‘In and Out Burger’, flown in from Las Vegas) I nervously, politely turn away a beautiful courtesan.

I lie in bed blinking at the ceiling while the 65” television plays a lost Star Wars sequel from 1992. Episode 7 goes largely unwatched (Clint Eastwood as a Jedi?) as my heart races. What do I do now? What would happen if I quit the job? Or when the six-month position comes to an end? Shit. I can’t believe I sent the courtesan away! Frak! They’re going to kill me when this is over…

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"You run like a girl!"

(Since girls are more flexible and graceful than guys, should I take that as a compliment?)

I’m doing the 5K run Saturday morning in Gainesville. At this moment, tells me the temperature at 8am will be 35 degrees. I usually run in my shorts and sleeveless shirt, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that on Saturday. Or maybe I will. I have some snazzy jogging pants, but I really hate being encumbered – I’m sure I’d warm up quickly, right? We’ll see…

My ‘running’ speed makes it clear that what I’m actually doing is a fast walk masquerading as a run – it takes me 11 minutes to run one mile.

When I started training for the 5K last month, I imagined that 5K would just be a start, and that I would work my way up to 10K and 15K. Now that I’ve been running 5K three times a week and walking 5K three times a week, I think that 5K is long enough, thank you very much. I’m open to the possibility of running four miles at a time (5K is 3.1 miles) but six or nine miles at a time seems like overkill. Time will tell.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I'm considering getting an Education degree. Seems like a useful thing to learn, to learn how to learn and teach. I've considered Education before, but the idea of teaching in a school never appealed.

Turns out there are a lot of corporate training jobs in the world - working with fellow adults, employees who are being paid to learn the topics being reviewed feels more logical to me than a class of random students.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Good Friends!

It's good to have good friends! Now all I need is a few million dollars...

Monday, February 08, 2010

They named it J-Lo!

Last night my sister Michelle (who lives in Cleveland) sent me the following news story.

This news takes place in my local area of Ocala, Florida and is about a chicken with two rear ends.

Cindy and I hadn’t even read the story yet, and we began discussing it based on the link text. Being the kind-hearted gal she is, Cindy felt sorry for the chicken. Being the ever-hungry devourer of egg and fowl that I am (they call me El Voraz Devorador de Pollo), I wondered if this hexed hen could lay twice the normal number of succulent eggs.

Since the chicken appears to be the result of a natural mutation, I don’t feel any special pangs of sympathy for the critter – it’s not as if it’s the unfortunate result of a diabolical gene-splicing experiment gone wrong.

If this hen and others like it could be bred with similar roosters, we might end up with super egg-layers within a few short delicious generations.

After reading the story, we discovered the chicken does not lay two eggs at the same time (which apparently is better for the chicken, since twice the eggs would mean a calcium deficiency – but could we not give the chicken supplements?).

Raising half the number of chickens means fewer to care for while maintaining the same egg production - this should equal more resources for the chickens, and hopefully better conditions, more elbow room (wing room?) in the pens, and etc.


Sunday, February 07, 2010


...the employee is regularly required to sit and use hands to finger, handle, or feel...

Saturday, February 06, 2010


I'm a software trainer. I try to make the sessions as interesting and upbeat as the subject matter allows, but typically it's pretty monotonous. Your average trainee cares little for spending an hour learning POS (Point of Sale) software.

Yesterday I trained two ladies who were so interested and had so much gusto that it restored some of my cheer. Thanks, gals!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Well okay then

Out of the blue, I'm working on a short story about the first astronauts on Mars.

Devising a decent ending is proving difficult.

(Weird, it seems this is my first post with a 'Mars' label - can that be right?)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Etcher's Laws #4

Life is largely repetitive tedium - take a little time out of each day to work on a project you enjoy.

It might take a long time to finish each project, but in the end you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Pass it On

2 discoveries:

1) I accidentally bought a giant tub of plain yogurt (yuck)

2) A few drops of vanilla extract and a packet of Splenda in my bowl = good to go!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Self Diagnosis

I've spent less time daydreaming lately, which means I've had fewer of my random ideas. I don't know if this is due to the many hours of podcasts I've been listening to. The podcasts are like documentaries, which means I'm paying attention and following along as compared to half-listening to music while my mind wanders.

Maybe I'm distracted by the uncertainty of our current situation - whether Cindy will stay in her current career or take some time off to discover something new and whether we'll be moving or staying here in central Florida.

It's probably a combination of many factors.

(Speaking of podcasting, Cindy and I ran a test on Saturday night connecting both of our phone headsets to her iPhone using a splitter and recording some sample audio - I uploaded the file to the PC and discovered it's pretty darn clear and good quality, considering it's just a phone doing the work of connecting both of us - I was expecting that one of us might have good quality while the other did not. Now all we have to do is research our first topic!)