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Archived Entries from October 2008


Barium Hydrochloride Salad Nicoise followed by the Helium-3 Isotopes de la Maison

Sorry about the obscure Red Dwarf quote--there aren't a lot of movie quotes out there that reference "barium."

So I had my upper GI thing done yesterday. It was kind of cool. The barium wasn't nearly as chalky or bad as expected. It wasn't good, by any stretch, but it wasn't dreadfully awful. If given the chance, I probably wouldn't drink it just to drink it. For a lot of the "exam" (for wont of a better term) I was positioned in such a way that I could see the monitor and watch the stuff go down as I drank it. That part was pretty cool. They took a bunch of "still" shots as well as watching the stuff move around in real time.

(The problem is that I've come to learn over the years that medical procedures that are "pretty cool" tend to also be "pretty expensive...")

All the feedback I was given yesterday was that the images turned out okay and none of them would have to be re-taken. No hints as of yet if anything is or isn't wrong with me. I'll probably hear from my doctor in the next few days, theoretically.

In other late-breaking medical news, the vet clinic finally took the dog's hardware off. Thank goodness. They wrapped his entire arm up from paw to almost his armpit and told me that the wrap needed to stay on until this Friday at which point we could remove it and he'd be all done. That was great except he stunk like really stinky dirty dog and by Sunday the family decided that he had to have a bath no matter what. I still had some vet-wrap left, so I cut off the bandage, let Alex bathe the dog, and then dried him off and re-wrapped his arm.

And he had removed the wrap I put on him within about 20 minutes. I wrapped him again before we went to bed and that was removed before I got up the next morning. So I guess the dang dog is done with the arm wrap.

His infection seems to be getting better, and we surmise that being exposed to the air can't be bad for it, and he does spend 80% of his day in the kennel when we're at work, and I've been faithfully giving him his medication, so I think it will all be okay. So get this. They put him on two new antibiotics but one of them they didn't have in stock at the vet clinic so they had to call in a prescription to a Walgreen's. Now I knew that prescriptions were expensive without insurance, but I had no idea. I figured it would be forty or fifty bucks. $132.89. Wha-huh?

And that was after paying for $300 worth of radiographs and other medication at the vet clinic.

I bet after the insurance pays it part this whole barium business doesn't end up costing that much. Sheesh.

Anyway.

I'm still taking it easy on the job search, even though I have it from a pretty good source that the state is asking the University to return some of the money that was appropriated last year (how that works, exactly, is beyond me). Which means we could be in for a hiring freeze. It's never easy to guess what "branches" of workers that freeze will cover (just civil service persons, faculty, etc.) or for how long the freeze will be in place.

My understanding is that best-case I have two years of funding left ahead of me. I think I'm going to try to ride this one out. Yikes!

Posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 3:06 pm
Mood: Okay | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


What Fun!

I get to drink barium next Monday!

I do have some form of dysphagia. And the only way to find out what the deal is involves drinking barium and standing in front of an X-ray machine. How nice for me. At least my doctor didn't seem too worried about the situation.

There's a good chance that my esophagus is just irritated (maybe from inhaling the crap from the side of Tony's house) and that this will all go away.

Hopefully it will go away before the weekend, and I can skip the whole barium thing.

I got my blood test results back as well. Everything well within the normal ranges. White blood cells very slightly low. But my bad cholesterol was surprisingly much lower than the average range. And I don't even watch what I eat. Maybe that heart attack at 42 won't happen after all. The best part--get this--is that my blood pressure was 120/74. Seventy-four! When the nurse took my blood last week I commented on the nice pictures of mountain streams and squirrels and such on the walls by the, uh, blood-giving chair--presumably there to relax people nervous about getting poked by needles (I am not one of those people). I commented to that same nurse yesterday when she reached for the blood pressure thing-a-ma-bob that that was when I needed the pictures of the calm mountain streams. I could literally feel my heart rate increase as soon as it came time to check my blood pressure. And to come out of that not only at normal, but below normal was pretty cool.

I still need to lose 20 pounds. Someday.

The geerow and I went down and played three holes of golf last night before it got dark (actually we came home sooner than that because it got really cold before it got all the way dark). She did great. Both kids are too critical of themselves, and I can't get through to them to quit critiquing themselves after every single shot. I shot a par, par, and bogey for the three holes. How cool is that?

Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 3:37 pm
Mood: Cynical | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


What's Wrong with Lumber?

...I own two lumberyards...

So three weekends ago (or so) I helped a buddy (Lucas' dad) tear two sets of old siding off of their house. They built a huge garage in their back yard, did a bunch of totally cool remodeling, and added a huge room off the back of their kitchen. So we had to tear old vinyl siding (the really old stuff--like just newer than aluminum siding that had like corkboard behind each sheet) and also the old lap-board siding that was underneath that.

We should have worn dust masks.

I sneezed and huffed and puffed for a day or two afterwards and even took a shot of a 10-year old "Primatine Mist" thing that was in the medicine cabinet in the big bathroom. It still took me a few days to get all cleared out.

Apparently, more than a few days.

I mentioned that I started burping a while back, but then lately started having trouble eating. Well, I told the redhead the other day that sometimes my burps tasted like sawdust lately.

For someone that thinks they are somewhat quick on the uptake, it took a while to add two plus two.

My burps taste like that bottom layer of crap that we ripped off Tony's house. Oh my goodness.

Der duh dee.

I assume that's related to my eating problem. I hope this is all temporary. I'll pay the dough tomorrow to find out.

Hmm. But this doesn't make sense much now. I could see if I were coughing up stuff that tasted like siding. Little particles hang out in the lungs and take a while to get coughed out. Makes sense. Just takes time. I don't think this stuff on their house is toxic (the house is maybe 30-35 years old?). But I'm not coughing it out--I'm burping it out. I obviously would know if I ingested a sizable piece of that stuff, so what gives?

Gross. We'll see what Dr. Lee says tomorrow.

Junior and I went and played nine holes this afternoon. Brr, it's getting cold in the evening. (And the days sure are getting shorter--we had to hurry to fit in the last couple of holes). I shot a 48. He's doing MUCH better. I need to get him better irons before next year. Both kids have the patience of saints, which makes it a lot easier for me to not be able to tell them what it is they are or are not doing because I don't have any idea but I certainly try to help and encourage them.

We definitely need lessons for the kids next year.

They both really love to be out on the golf course. It sure mellows me out when I'm out there with them (hence the 48--it's a lot easier to not pay attention and get stressed out about what I'm doing when I'm spending more time paying attention to what one of them is doing).

Since when has Coors been called the "Banquet Beer?"

Yuck. This is so, well, I hate to use a teenage girl word, but it's really gross. I'm having a beer and watching football and baseball (Go Tampa, in both contests!) and every time I burp I taste the siding from Tony and Jodi's house.

Okay, I'm going to go back to watching baseball. Come on, Devil Rays.

Posted: Monday, October 20, 2008, 2:36 am
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


It's Not a Tumor

The kids went to bed between 8:30 and 9:00. The redhead fell asleep on the couch during Life on Mars. (Which I like, but for crying out loud, *I* could beat the crap out of a 60-year old Harvey Keitel--beat the hell out of him once and for all already, especially if you're in a dream...).

I stayed up for the news, and to watch our favorite grandpa on Letterman. As it turns out, there was a pretty good baseball game on as well. I watched more of Letterman than the game, which is fine. I don't care who goes to the World Series. The Sox won a game in the playoffs. The Cubs, who were supposed to win the whole thing, didn't win a game. And imagine that--the team that eliminated the Cubs isn't going to the World Series either. They all but got swept.

Anyway.

Letterman definitely laid into McCain, and with good reason.

Okay, I've had a lot on my mind.

I have a lot of issues right now, but I'm not doing all of them tonight. We have time.

I turned 39 the other day. You know I spent over 38 years of my life not being able to burp. No kidding. Maybe about once a year an accidental small one would sneak out for whatever reason (and I mean really small) but I could never burp. People tried to "teach" me how to burp. I'd drink a bunch of water and hold my breath and "push down" or whatever, but it would never work. Much to the dismay of everyone close to me, I don't seem to have a problem with gas going out, well, the other end.

A couple of months ago I started burping.

No kidding.

Drink a beer. Belch. Halfway through lunch? Burpph. After lunch, back in the office, after a drink of water. I burped just now--heh.

My understanding of the original "problem," if you will, is that the hole in my diaphragm is bigger than it should be--the muscle that goes from one side of the chest to the other and pushes up and down on the bottom of the lungs to help one to breathe. If I push down too hard, my esophagus goes up through the hole and I simply puke. I don't know. This all came out when I had that silly "almost died" thing when I had the Mallory-Weiss tear in college.

At the time my understanding was that it was a weird thing that happened to people based on what I just explained about the diaphragm hole being too big (which is what the doctors at the time told me).

I am now under the impression that Mallory-Weiss tears are now more related to college kids drinking too much and puking all the time (and I wasn't a puker, for the record) than any of the aforementioned symptoms.

I can be a worrier, however.

So the excitement about being able to burp has subsided lately.

Mostly because something else has happened. I've had a hard time eating, especially at lunch.

I eat too quickly, admittedly. When the redhead and I go to a Chinese buffet place for lunch I can usually get a whole plate taken care of before she finishes her egg drop soup (which she thinks is the best--just ask her). I can get a second plate of food and finish that before she finishes her first plate. I'm ready to leave the place 10 minutes after we get there.

I can't do that anymore. I can't "snarf" food.

Once I eat two our three (probably too big) bites of food (a sandwich, Chinese food, a burger, dinner, whatever) I can feel that all that food is still up behind my rib cage--above my diaphragm. I'll take a small drink of water or pop or whatever and then have an excruciating pain as those bites of food and the liquid do whatever it is they have to do to get to where it doesn't hurt. It started a few weeks ago--a few weeks after the burping phenomenon.

And it's getting worse.

Three bites of food. A small drink of water or pop. Holding my breath. Dealing with the pain as it goes down. Try to slow down. Try to have a drink with each bite. WTF is going on? Calm down. Breathe easy. Another bite. Another sip.

The off-the-cuff diagnosis that I've come up with on my own (that I determined or guessed once the regular burping started) is that I've finally become enough overweight that something has shifted something else and now I can burp. I've gotten too fat. My beer gut has grown too large.

But part of me doesn't think that's true, or that even if it were, that that's the problem. My clothes fit. My gut still pootches out, but it's done that for about ten years. I'm eating less. And drinking less. Not because I'm trying to, but just because that's sort of how things are working out.

So what the hell is going on?

Something is up.

And then my imagination and "problem solving part of my brain" start to take over.

Maybe something is wrong with my stomach. Or my esophagus. Or my diaphragm. Maybe it's cancer. Maybe there's a tumor. I troubleshoot pretty well. I don't think it's my fingernails or my eyelashes.

Finally being able to burp at age 39 is cool. I sure don't spend as much time being bloated waiting for, uh, "it" to make its way to the only other exit.

But something is wrong here. You don't not burp for 38 years and then all of a sudden out of the blue be able to burp. And then two weeks after that start having problems eating. Problems that seem to be getting worse and not better.

Maybe I just need to exercise more and lose some weight.

You know, I'm not afraid of death. I can look into that void and know that there's nothing inside of it. For my age and my family and my situation I have more than plenty of life insurance.

But not yet. I still have too much to do. And yes, I know, I'm being WAY fricking over-melodramatic right now.

But what has happened to me? All of a sudden after almost 40 years I can burp, and do so very, very frequently? And now it hurts to eat?

I need to call the doctor tomorrow. I have too much more "important" stuff to talk about on my stupid blog than my gastrointestinal problems.

Mr. Letterman ripped Senator McCain pretty good tonight. I hope the voters really truly do the right thing.

Burp.

Posted: Friday, October 17, 2008, 5:09 am
Mood: Worried for No Reason | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


A Computer Enhanced Hallucination

D-day happened the other day.

And nothing happened.

I'll skip the details. No sinking ship. No torpedoes at other ships. No repercussions. No, well, worries.

I have funding through more than one source through at least when my contract is up in August of 2009. If I get a "t-contract" (t==terminal) at that point the department still has to pay me for six months.

But we don't even think we'll get to the t-contract point.

I've calmed down. Several days ago. It's all good.

I've gone from panic-ed-ly looking for a new job to actively looking for a new job to sort of passively looking for a new job. I'm going to wait for the right fit.

Oh, and if any of you care, if this blog goes "poof" and is gone one day, that's because I've found a potential fit. And while a university is a pretty liberal place, this is four (or so) years of my thoughts that, well, are obviously public, but maybe don't need to be so public when I'm looking for a job. I giveth, as a method of my own therapy, but I'm happy to taketh away (temporarily, of course) as well. Not that anyone cares. But if it happens, it's not because I died.

I hope. ;)

I have some ends to tie up, and plenty of time to do so. And I made a huge CSS breakthrough today. I'm anxiously hurrying to get the new IPM web site up and going. No tables for layout. All CSS. All compliant. Any arguments the accessibility nazis have will be minimal, to the point that I'll ignore them. This thing will be cool.

Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2008, 3:24 am
Mood: Upbeat | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Thirty-Nine

If I had hair, it would have probably started turning gray over the past week.

I'm trying to be optimistic. I really am. I'm not getting tossed out to the gutter--I just need to keep remembering that. At least a year and a half of funding.

But I'm still not thrilled with the way all of this "went down."

And the job search, while only three days old (okay, I need to remember that--it's only been a few days), isn't going as well as I hoped it would. I need to relax.

I'm trying to relax and be patient, but it is difficult at times.

Oh well. Happy frickin' birthday. At least Dave Matthews Band is finally on iTunes.

Posted: Wednesday, October 08, 2008, 2:22 pm
Mood: Irritable | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Don't Panic

Yikes. This roller coaster ride is changing directions faster than I can change metaphors. Or similes.

Apparently we're taking on water faster than expected. Lots faster.

After all the meetings last week the result was that nothing would be able to be changed, but that Congress would hear a reading of a plea to have some sort of a transition time period from the "old way" to the "new way." Translation: nothing will change.

Without getting into too many gory details, I'm being shifted back to the "funding source" that I was on before I moved to the one I'm on now. Different supervisor. Different (sort of) duties (maybe).

It will be odd, but do-able for the time being. There's at least eighteen more months of funding to keep me afloat. I still don't like the circumstances much, but there's no point complaining further.

The bottom line: job search is in full swing. The now "old" (well, as of 10/16) boss and my original boss are onboard with this effort (heh, I guess we're on a dinghy together...).

I have a resume to fine tune. I have some interviewing stuff to brush up on. This needs to be a good thing, and not a bad thing. (Wink).

I've always been a maverick. So this should all work out.

Deep breaths. It could be worse. (Get on top! I can't! Where can he be? Threepio!---sorry, like SAPS, I sort of "run home to momma" when I need a quote....)

Unlike the Trade Federation in Episode I, we WILL survive this.

Give me, hmm, three weeks.

Eh, maybe I month. I'll have this fixed by then.

Posted: Tuesday, October 07, 2008, 2:03 am
Mood: Mildly Concerned | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Never His Mind on Where He Was. Hmm?

Somebody should have told the Cubs that in order to get from the regular season to the World Series there's these two things along the way that they have to win, the NLDS and NLCS. Maybe if they would have kept their heads in the present, and stopped worrying and thinking about the World Series, they wouldn't have gotten swept by the hapless Dodgers. Good for Joe Torre, who was screwed over by the Yankees, and for Manny and his dreads. You can't lift an X-Wing Fighter out of a bog when you're preoccupied with what might happen in the future to your secret twin sister that you have the hots for...

The White Sox won last night, meaning that, unlike the Cubs, they won't get swept this post season. Heh.

Bears win. First place in the Norris Division.

And lookee-there. Illinois THUMPED Michigan in the Big House. How wonderful. I'd trade all that other good sports stuff for the Illinois win against Michigan. How lucky for me that I don't have to!

Anyway.

I spent my Saturday this weekend helping Lucas' dad tear the siding off their house. TWO layers of siding. (Ugh). They built a huge garage in their back yard and did a bunch of remodeling to their house, including a huge addition off the back. We figured it'd take a few hours.

More like all day. We had a weenie roast Saturday night and I was out cold by 8:00. I had opened a beer after I got home and showered and I couldn't even take one sip (gasp!). And the dust and stuff that came out of that siding was awful (there was vinyl siding over that old fiberboard lap siding or whatever it was called). My eyes still itch and I'm still very much congested. At least I'm breathing okay. Saturday night and Sunday were rough. Yuck.

Well the boss was out of town last week meeting with people about the funding for my job that was yanked out from under us a few weeks back.

And I've found a job that I want to apply for. We'll see how that news goes over.

Our Obama/Biden sign has made it through the week without disappearing, quite surprisingly. I've caught a lot of flak about it, which also sort of surprises me. Sorry that I was a bit misguided when I picked the guy I'd rather drink a beer with than either of the stuffy Dems that opposed him the last two elections. I've learned from my choices. That's not to say that I've become a democrat by ANY stretch. But seriously. A guy who is older than my dad and a woman who, well, I don't know where else to go with that--anyone watch the debate? Sheesh.

And no offense--I like my dad and all. But I don't want someone from his generation making the decisions. Or dealing with our "allies" (if we have any left) on the other sides of the oceans. The old timer politicians have had their chance--let the new guy try to pull the sword from the stone.

Go Sox!

Posted: Monday, October 06, 2008, 2:07 pm
Mood: Thrilled | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


He Got All of That One!

It's in the hole!

Okay, no it wasn't. In fact, I think my drive was closer. Heh.

I took a bunch of pictures up at the 36-hole extravaganza, and forgot to share some of them the other day. Good timing on this shot--you can still see the ball in flight if you look hard enough.

While I think this next photo was actually before him hitting the ball, we'll label it as "Dad resting after his great shot" or something...

The course was gorgeous. And long. Lots of par 5s. Lots of LONG par 4s. None of the 295-, 300-, 305-yard par 4s we have down the street. No siree.

So where was I?

So I'm still dealing with the leg of the dang dog. Six weeks was the earliest they would have pulled pins, etc., and the main push of this would have been over with. Last Friday was week 7, and I don't see an end in sight, to be honest. I'm still giving him his medicine twice a day (I need to buy more hot dogs, btw...), I clean everything out and re-wrap him just about every day, and he still shreds everything wrapped on his leg if he doesn't have his lamp shade on.

Well here's a picture of the puppeh in Illini orange and blue that I meant to have posted a week or more back:

Maybe I should develop and sell and market Chief Illiniwek logos made out of VetWrap and sell them on eBay or something. I bet they would be maybe slightly more complicated than just an "I".

Can anyone believe I've become a dog person?*

*It's awful, but I'm a "dog person" like I'm a baby person--I like my dog, and I LOVED my babies (yes, I still love them now as gross kids, of course), but that doesn't mean I like anyone else's dogs or anyone else's babies...

Dang puppeh.

Oh, by the way, the team with the best record in the National League, the Cubs, lost tonight. Those guys that are going to win the Series for the first time in 100+ years. Yeah, their first game in a best-of-five series. At home. Yeah, they got spanked like 7-2 or something.

I'm just sayin'.

So we got a new kitchen/dining set the other day. What a fantastic second family I acquired when I tricked the redhead into being my bride. We had Papa and Gwammo over for some chicken that the redhead made for Alex's birthday, and I think Papa was afraid the twelve-year-old chair from Lowe's that he was sitting on was going to collapse, and that started a chain of events that ended up with us getting a new table and chairs. So picky were the people that delivered it that one of the chairs had a ding so they insisted on taking it back with them to either fix the ding or replace the chair. The table has two leaves and we plan to add an additional two chairs so that we have plenty of seating space at family events. The redhead purposely didn't get one the same color as the floor, and I agree with her decision 100%. The chair and tables are hugely sturdy.

Hmm. What else... (If the HTML in this post even works correctly with the pictures and such I'll be totally surprised--I need to make a better CMS for this whole blog thing...)

Oh! So I was out WThF last week playing golf, and wasn't back in the office again until Monday. I wasn't there for ten minutes when the boss appeared in my door and told me "don't start looking for a job just yet." Okay. I wasn't, yet. New jobs are a pain in the ass. And I don't like painful things. I have months and months left to go no matter what, and while it would behoove me to get on the horse and get going, I'm not going to starting hitting the hammer a day after all of this started. I'm not that ambitious.

Well he flew out to Kansas City on Tuesday to meet with a bunch of other college important-types and some politicians (I think) to go over this whole thing.

There are a lot of people as unhappy as my boss is.

I'd be perfectly happy staying put. We'll just see how it goes.

Anyway.

And yes, just so we're all clear here--I fully expect the Sox to get swept by the Rays in the first three games of their series. I have no weird illusions of what is going to happen. It didn't matter if the Sox or Twinkies backed into the playoffs. Either of them would (will) be smacked down right away.

All the north-side "we're going to win the World Series!" chanters might want to try to grasp onto that concept.

Okay, I'm spent. I just really wanted to post those few pictures that have been backing up in the Nerdrium queue. Let's see how my HTML worked out...

Posted: Thursday, October 02, 2008, 3:52 am
Mood: Fantastic | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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