A Conversation With My Wife

Me and my sweetyWhile driving, my audiobook is interrupted by a phone call from my wife. (All hands free, for those concerned)


Donna: Twitter doesn’t give me enough characters to write the school’s entire name in the “Full Name” field when I try to create an account.

Me: How close is it?

Donna: “Harbor Light Christi”

Me: Hmm… How about “Harbor Light HLCS?”

Donna: That fits, cool! Thanks!

Me: No problem. What’s the username?

Donna: @harborlight3

Me: What? That’s a horrible username…

Donna: That’s what it suggested.

Me: But… It’s horrible! Make it something like @HLCS or if that’s take @HLCS_Swordsmen

Donna: Oh that’s much better, and it’s not taken, cool!

Donna: “sword3f86gg55e”

Me: That’s worse than “harborlight3″, what’s wrong with @HLCS_Swordsmen?

Donna: No, that’s the password I used.


Donna: Well yes, but only to you on the phone.

Me: But, what if someone overheard you?

Donna: How would they know what I was talking about? You didn’t even know, and I was talking to you!

Me: Still, doesn’t it cause you pain to say a password OUT LOUD?

Donna: Um, no…

Me: Wait… Wait… Did you say it out loud while you were WRITING IT ON PAPER?

Donna: Of course! I have to write it down so I can read it when I need to log in!

Me: You know I’m a system administrator and trainer, and that I deal with computer security every day, right?

Donna: So you’re gonna hack me?

Me: I don’t think I can talk to you anymore.

So, I Went to the Emergency Room…

This is a normal dayBased on the photo, you might think I went for mental health issues. While some days perhaps I should go for mental health issues, today I went for another reason. It’s an embarrassing reason, but I want to write about it, because going was the right thing to do, even though it really felt foolish.

I had the symptoms of a heart attack.

A little back story might be in order, and my tweet tells the humorous version of the story (normally where I’d stop, because funny is funny):

It's funny because it's sad...

See, at 10AM, I tried to back out of the driveway with my city-folk car. If I had a truck, it wouldn’t be a problem to back out of a driveway, but my fancy new car has a 2mm clearance off the ground, and gets stuck in a glob of snot. So, I shoveled with angry-man frustration for 2 full hours. It hurt, I could barely breathe, and was drenched in sweat — but dag-nabbit I got the car out by myself. (no one else was home, plus I’m a stubborn old mule)

Anyway, after countless puffs on my inhaler, a very long, warm shower, and a pity nap in my recliner — I still didn’t feel any better. In fact, at 5:00PM, I had the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Ache in left shoulder shooting up my neck
  • Hours of nausea
  • Foggy headed, general feeling of malaise


And so I figured it was about time I made sure I wasn’t having a heart attack. I didn’t really think I was having a heart attack, but I had the symptoms, and more importantly, I have this:

Not the horse. I don't what the horse thinks.

So I went. And it turns out I’m OK. The EKG showed no problems at all. The breathing issue is most likely due to my chronic asthma, so I got a breathing treatment and was sent home. But really, it was embarrassing. I felt like a fool when everything was fine. I keep second guessing myself for going to the hospital when everything was OK.

But I’m 38, overweight, sedentary, and have a long history of health problems.

So I went.

And if you have the symptoms of heart attack, YOU SHOULD GO TOO. And if the doctor or nurse makes you feel foolish for coming in? THEY’RE NOT GOOD DOCTORS OR NURSES. But you’re a good person, and I applaud you.

PS: I should have called 911 instead of driving MYSELF to the hospital since I was home alone. But driving yourself is better than not going. Still, you really shouldn’t drive yourself. I’m an idiot.

Letting Go

I have very few regrets. Sure there are the dumb physical things I’ve done that I wish I hadn’t. For example, I really wish I hadn’t ridden shotgun on a four-wheeler down a hill named “Shaboom” when I was in high school. The crushed spine I ended up with hurts fairly often, even 20+ years later. I also wish I hadn’t torn the nerve in my index finger working on a dishwasher, around the same time, when I was in high school. I can’t feel properly with the tip of my finger now, and when I touch the outside edge, I feel it on the inside edge. Very strange. At the end of the day, however, I don’t have any serious regrets that I worry have ruined my life in any significant way.

Well, until recently.

Have you heard of Bitcoins? I have. In fact, back before anyone knew what they were, I was mining them. I mined thousands and thousands of them. I traded them for cash, and bought Christmas presents a couple years back. Heck, a year ago, I cashed in a couple thousand to get the money we needed to move to Grand Rapids. Then, when we moved back this past summer, I cashed in every last Bitcoin I could scrape together in order to move back. I never regretted using Bitcoins, because it was “free money” so to speak. (There was a cost, but I cashed in enough to cover that long ago)

Then, Bitcoins got popular. And I mean really popular. The same Bitcoins I cashed in for pennies were suddenly worth $200! Even more recently, the coins I cashed it at $2 each (when we moved), were worth $1200! And I had none. Not one. Granted, when we needed money for moving, or for Christmas, it was nice to have them. But had I saved them? We’d have tens of millions of dollars now. Tens. Of. Millions.


A typical week’s transaction log, but showing today’s value.

Yes, I’m still mining. I took time off for the past 6 months after we moved back, because I couldn’t afford the electricity (that’s the cost to create Bitcoins, electricity usage), but I’m mining again. Thanks to the way Bitcoin works, its popularity means that my efforts are far less profitable. My mining rigs earn about $4 a day now. It’s the time of year that many of us, at least I, think about money. Christmas is expensive, and all the moving, career changing, etc., has taken us to the bottom of the barrel. Those Bitcoins would be awful nice…

I’m having a hard time letting it go. That’s really unlike me, as I have so much to be grateful for in life. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve never had any real regrets, and now that I do, I don’t quite know how to deal with it. Thus this post. I’m a writer, and writing is how I deal with things. I figure it’s better than drowning my woes in a bottle of Scotch. :)

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays, everyone. Try to live in the moment, and not dwell on the past. I’ll do the same. :)

Advances in BirdTopia

I warned you I’d be posting about birds. :)

One of the problems with having BirdTopia so close to my office window, is that when I move, it scares the birds away. My solution for this was to buy one-way mirror film to put on my window. After installing it (a real pain, btw), I of course danced like an idiot to see if I could scare the birds. I could not.


The film makes it really hard to see, especially on a day like today, where it’s overcast and rainy. So I compromised:

Now you see me...

The bottom of the window is mirrored, so the window ledge birds can’t see inside. (The birds in the yard also can’t see Zoey stare longingly at them, since her head is window-sill high) Now it’s possible to sneak, but it’s also still possible to see the birdies clearly. Win/win? We’ll see. :)

Just Call Me Chronic

Today is a brand new day. Well, ok, it’s not really brand new, it’s been around for a while as it’s after 2PM. Still, it’s the newest day we have. For me, that means moving past the last 3 months of horrible pain.

Mid June, I was a typical guy, and didn’t wait for any help when it came to loading our moving truck. I was the first to arrive at our rental, and so loaded the entire trailer by myself. Including furniture. This was stupid, and so the following week when I started having really bad pain in my, um, well, down there, I was fairly certain I’d given myself a hernia. Because apparently I’m not a spring chicken anymore.

The short version of the following 3 months is that I saw a doctor, a surgeon, a specialist, and basically no one knows what’s wrong with me. Two of the doctors insist I don’t have a hernia. One thinks I do. None of them can explain why I feel like I just got kicked between the legs by a mule pretty much all day, every day. If you’ve never been kicked between the legs by a mule, let me assure you, it’s something you’d like to move past rather quickly. Three months is not quickly.

So the specialist I saw yesterday told me to just wait and see. He thinks I’ll eventually heal, but doesn’t find anything he can treat. This is a good thing, because it means he didn’t find any cancer, tumors, baby aliens gestating in my groin, or other medically fixable stuff. The bad thing is that he can’t find anything to fix. Double edged sword. BUT, he told me I have no restrictions, and that I should just get on with my life. One doctor talked about pain management drugs, but I don’t want to be that guy if I can avoid it. So, brand new day. As of today, life should be treated as normal. If a decade and a half of migraines have done nothing else, it’s given me a fairly decent pain tolerance, so I’m just going to deal.

So if you ask how I’m doing? I’m fine. No, it doesn’t mean I’m healed, but it means I’m tired of being out of commission. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go for a walk. It’s been 3 months, and I’m overdue. :)

New House, Old Yard

Due to drastic career changes, our previous relocation to Grand Rapids, MI has been rescinded, and we’re back in our home up in Indian River. Since we were never able to sell our home, moving into the home we still own is actually rather nice. I far prefer one house payment to two. :)

Now that we’re back up north, permanently as far as we can tell, we need to do something about our landscaping. After our home burned down a few years back, we never landscaped around the replacement home. And while the septic drain field being in the front yard means we have lovely green grass:


We have nothing done to the house itself to make it look nice:


Yes, the deck has a couple of shrubs, and in the summer had some flowers, but let’s face it, this is just sad. Unfortunately, when I had a landscaper come out, he wasn’t help AT ALL. Since he couldn’t fill our yard with trees (drain field, anything other than tiny ornamental trees are right out), he basically told us we were out of luck.

We’ll probably have to find another landscaping company, and see if they are more imaginative. As it is, we know we want flowers and a small tree, with a nice path along the front… but we have no idea how to plan that, much less build it.

Does anyone else have a drain field in their front yard? How do you go about landscaping when trees are out of the realm of possibility? Are we doomed to an ugly front yard with lush, green grass?

New Look. New Resolve?

Like any fallen-off-the-wagon blogger, I’ve decided to commemorate my intention to return to regular (personal) writing by redesigning my site. I think the last time I redesigned my site, I blogged for a week. Now that we’re back up north, with only one house payment, and only two jobs — perhaps I’ll have some time to brain dump online.

Expect lots of news about BirdCam. It’s my latest obsession. :)

Here’s to our new life, which is basically a 1 year rewind. Details later…

The Plant Kingdom Follows Google’s Lead

Oh yeah? Well I could survive on Mars...In an unexpected announcement today, the Plant Kingdom spokesman, Fern Dirtlicker, told press, “providing oxygen free of charge no longer fits into our business plan.”

When asked if the Plant Kingdom will offer a subscription service, or possibly sell the oxygen manufacturing industry to another company, Fern replied, “Nope. We’re just not going to do the whole ‘oxygen’ thing anymore. Users are advised to pick a different breathable gas by July 1st, when PK plans to halt distribution.”

Governments are currently negotiating with the International Clown Federation in attempts to reach an agreement on helium balloon usage, but observers noted that talks aren’t going well. The talks are funny to listen to, but they’re not going well. What will humankind do in light of the Plant Kingdom abruptly canceling their cloud-based oxygen service? Hopefully someone will come up with a viable alternative, but we’re not holding our breath. (Well, actually we are)

I Don’t Truly Admire Many People. Fred Rogers, I Do.

Fred RogersToday would have been Mr. Rogers’ 85th birthday. If you were a child in the 70s, 80s, or 90s, you know Mr. Rogers. Heck, I don’t even remember my childhood, and I still know this man.

I look at the fast paced lives my kids are growing up in, and it makes me sad to realize that not only don’t they have the opportunity to watch Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, even if they did, they wouldn’t enjoy it. I honestly believe Fred Rogers did for several generations of kids something that parents, doctors, educators, and even PBS can’t seem to do anymore — make kids feel good about themselves. There are plenty of good, moral television shows available for children today, but none of them are capable of doing what Fred Rogers did with a little bit of kindness, a closet full of sweaters, and a whole lot of imagination.

To be honest, I don’t think it’s the fault of current television programs that they can’t accomplish the same thing Mr. Rogers did. Our media-soaked world is a different place, and for better or worse, lifestyles have changed. The thing that worries me, is that in our technology rich world, nothing seems to have taken the place of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Nothing has been able to speak to the past few generations in the same way a simple man with a soft voice and a kind heart did for so many years.

I’m almost 40 years old now, which is the same age Fred Rogers was when he started his television show. Yes, my mother raised me to be a decent young man, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit how deeply Mr. Rogers affected the man I grew up to be. Heck, I’m probably a writer today because Mr. Rogers told me I could do it.

It sounds melodramatic, but I seriously worry about the kids who grew up with Power Rangers instead of Mr. McFeely and Queen Sara. Hopefully there is an equivalent positive force in the lives of recent generations that I’m simply not privy to. Hopefully with the speed up of our day to day lives, our youth have been able to slow down enough to care about people. Hopefully, they learned to make believe along the way, too.

Perhaps it’s because I grew up without a real father figure. Perhaps it’s because as a nerdy, introverted kid I spent more time in the land of make believe than other kids. Whatever the reason, Fred Rogers is a man I look up to. I admire what he did, I admire who he was, and in the back of my mind, I always try to live in a way that would make him proud of me. Mr. Rogers, I’ll say back to you your own words, “If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

Happy birthday, Mr. Rogers. You’re loved and missed. Thank you for caring about generations of children. You made the world a better place.

The Defender of the Office Realm


The office realm was a happy place. Mondays came, and Mondays went — but the supply of Monday repellant was always plentiful and hot.

All was good

And it was good.

But then one foul, foul day, something horrible happened. The Elixir of Promised Fridays disappeared!

This bodes not well.

This bodes not well.

Knowing the Office Realm could not survive under such dire circumstances, the king decided to hire a champion to protect his Office from the depression and despair of  an empty cup. The volunteers were many, but the king knew Sir Ibuprofen with the Paper Sword was his best bet against Monday’s onslaught. And so the knight was commissioned.

None shall pass.

None shall pass.

Unfortunately, while Sir Ibuprofen was indeed a valiant fighter, he could only battle evil every 6-8 hours. The king new he needed a champion able to take on enemy after enemy, without the required wait time Sir Ibuprofen demanded. And so, Lord Swingline took the post.

I bind thee villain!

I bind thee villain!

And everyone laughed.

So the king hired a saber toothed stapler, not of noble blood, but far more vicious.

My tooth is stained with the blood of unruly collation!

My tooth is stained with the blood of unruly collation!

Unfortunately, the villagers called OSHA, and the king was required to post signage warning potential thieves of their certain peril.

It was like putting a bell on the collar of a tiger.

It was like putting a bell on the collar of a tiger.

Everyone laughed at the poor saber toothed stapler, and all his staples fell out. Now he lives in the kings bedchamber, and guards against slipper thieves and stocking bandits. The king needed a fierce warrior, and so he scoured the kingdom until he found a sword wielding pod person!

Lord Podbiscuits formerly worked for the post office, opening letters.

Lord Podbiscuits formerly worked for the post office, opening letters.

While a valiant warrior, Lord Podbiscuits annoyed the entire kingdom with his incessant singing. The king even suspected Podbiscuits of drinking the royal elixir, and so had him removed from office.

We stab at thee, appley foe!

We stab at the, appley foe!

Sadly, shortly after the demise of Lord Podbiscuit, all the king’s champions were detained indefinitely by the TSA for attempting to get on a plane with Podbiscuit’s sword. Sir Ibuprofen also insisted he had to be taken on board with 6 ounces of water, and it is suspected the entire group is now in Guantanamo Bay.

Now the king mourns the loss of his champions, and fears for the safety of his realm. Without a hero to protect the Elixir of Promised Fridays, the king fears a curse of Forever Monday. Fearing for himself and his subjects, the king’s only choice is to pray to the chicken gods. (You know, like you do…)

If only there was a chicken strong enough to defend the realm. A chicken whose beak were sharp enough to pierce through the most sinister of evil, yet not be long enough to be considered a weapon by the TSA during kingly jaunts cross country. If such a noble bird existed, one such as Lady Gwenevieve Lockjaw of New Eggland, the realm would once again be safe from the onslaught Monday and all Monday’s henchmen.

The king sent his desperate plea to Queen Klishis of the Metal Birds, and to this day, he awaits her reply…