Friday, March 28, 2008


The experience of airline passenger Mandi Hamlin last month when ignorant TSA thugs forced her to remove body piercings with pliers in a Texas airport nauseates me. I don't understand the enchantment of most body piercings. I do have three manmade holes in my head, but they're in my ears. (Two were done at one of those shopping mall piercing kiosks somewhere in New Jersey, and the third one was the result of an evening drinking with an insane Texan on whom I had a pathetic crush my first year in college.) Nipple rings aren't my thing, but if you've got a hankering for cold, hard surgical steel in your chesticles, go for it. Just don't expose them at the Super Bowl.

And, apparently, if you're in the Lone Star State, don't try to take a plane.

Mandi Hamlin's nipple piercings set off the metal detectors in the airport in Lubbock. Instead of giving her the option for a "visual inspection" of her piercings (which is pretty intrusive, frankly, but if you're wearing metal in sensitive places, it may be somewhat understandable), the local branch of TSA's moronic monster squad insisted she remove the piercings before she would be allowed to fly.

Now, I know how painful it is if I try to move a tiny earring through that extra booze-induced hole in my left ear after not wearing anything in it for ages - it's miserable. Imagine having to remove a steel post from a much more sensitive location - one where new skin has possibly grown around that hunk of metal - in an airport, with pliers, while male TSA vermin laugh at you a few feet away.

I've read a couple of articles about Ms. Hamlin's humiliating and painful experience, and it just makes me more and more angry. TSA's half-assed website response to Ms. Hamlin's protests and complaints was to say "TSA acknowledges that our procedures caused difficulty for the passenger involved and regrets the situation in which she found herself. We appreciate her raising awareness on this issue and we are changing the procedures to ensure that this does not happen again."

"Difficulty"? TSA "regrets" the situation?

How about this as a response, you fascist bastards: fire the fuckers who laughed at her as she was humiliated and put through physical pain. APOLOGIZE to her. Don't "regret" jack shit.


And stop hiring thugs and jerks.

A couple of years ago - not long after I was hit by the Murano-driving toolette who backed into me as she left a parking garage - I was hobbling through the security line at Dulles and was pulled aside for a "random" secondary search. I was walking with a cane, and as I approached the female screener, I explained I was unstable without the stick and asked her if I could hold onto it as she wanded me. She said no and took the cane away from me. As I wavered, afraid I was going to fall, I asked if she could hand me the cane. She was wanding my legs as I asked, and that vermin - that guard from a British women's prison soap opera - shoved her wand up into my crotch as she said "NO" again.

It was such a violating move, a vile thing, designed to make me feel insignificant. Diminished. Powerless. And as she did it, she smirked with this absolutely reptilian grin, her eyes narrowing to a evil slit. I felt like I was on the grade school playground with a sociopathic bully, just about ready to move up from pulling wings off flies to drowning puppies.

It used to be that I that didn't anticipate ignorance, malice, and stupidity from those who represent my government.

Now, I expect it.

No, not love, she said...
More Music You Should Know

Gonna see Joe Jackson next month at the 9:30 Club with the Sasquatch. The man is awfully damn talented. (Joe Jackson, that is.)

(Wait. That didn't sound right. The Sasquatch is awfully damn talented, too.)

I don't think I'd want to hang out with him for any extended period of time (again, Joe Jackson, not the Sasquatch), but his music is fine, fine, fine.*

Joe increasingly looks like Gollum, my only face-to-face meeting with him was somewhat sour, and he tends to rant about his inability to smoke in public places in New York. That said, his often poignant, sometimes aggressive melodies and intelligent (and occasionally bitterly funny) lyrics are simply brilliant.

For those people whose experience with Joe Jackson is limited to Lite FM radio replays of "Steppin' Out" or "Breaking Us In Two", there is a great catalogue of music you are missing out on. Big time. If you need to be schooled in JJ tuneage, here are three offerings to start you out:

First, JJ back in the day, looking like he's about twelve years old (but clearly not from the lyrics):

Then, the song that was Joe's breakthrough into the U.S. charts (this one, you *really* should know!):

(BTW, the place where JJ is singing in this clip, the Marquee Club, is a London live music legend - I saw a lot of amazing shows there 1986-87...)

And now, Joe, a little more leathery, and looking a bit like he should be scrabbling up the side of Mt. Doom, searching for "My Precioussssss" - but, man, the voice is so strong, so true:

If you're a fan and have never seen JJ live, my friend, you are missing out. Get a ticket soon. If you live in DC, take this upcoming chance to see Joe with his original bandmates at the 9:30 Club. Great venue, great music, and a relatively intimate evening with someone who can fill the Warner Theater (and has done so.) Tix are $40. Save yourself the fairly obscene fee and pick 'em up at the 9:30 box office with only a $1 service charge added on.

*For the record, the Sasquatch's music is fine, fine, fine, too. He played a mean trumpet in college. And he should be playing more now. (Hear me, Squatchito?)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Maybe his brackets aren't doing well

Stopped at the drive-up ATM for my bank on Connecticut Avenue coming into work today (after some super fun physical therapy, whoo!) A homeless-looking man passed directly in front of my car as I waited for my "Fast Cash" twenty to be dispensed.

Huh, I'll be darned - that homeless guy just came out of the bank, and he's putting stuff in a wallet.

Oh, wait. Wait. He's not homeless - he's just Tony Kornheiser.

When I see him on TV, Tony always looks awkward and somewhat disheveled in a suit. (He needs tonsorial assistance, too.) But in super casual, George Costanza-has-given-up-and-is-wearing-sweats-in-public clothes? Oh my. Worse. Just... not good...

Tony, if you're reading this - and this is just my opinion (and god knows I'm no fashion plate) - I think you could use a serious Queer Eye/What Not To Wear intervention with your casual wear, bubba.

No, I mean it. Seriously.

Maybe your fans can buy you a gift card to the GAP or, jeezus, even Old Navy.

Good luck, godspeed, and find yourself a good stylist.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Yesterday marked six months since my car accident out on Rockville Pike. I celebrated by undergoing a series of six MRIs on my neck and lower back. Good news: the neck is healing (although there are still a couple of things wrong). Bad news: my lower back is really still messed up. My doc went over the films with me this morning at physical therapy. There's nothing like finding out at 7:30 on a Saturday morning that back surgery is just about a 100% certainty. Yuck.

What has happened is that the accident caused enough movement in the lower back that bones are pressing on the nerve bundles so severely that I risk losing sensation - and function - in my legs. In a healthy back, you can see this wide canal protecting the nerve bundle. In my back, in long segments of the lower back, the canal is almost completely cut off. Gaaaaah.

I'm supposed to limit my walking and only use a recumbent bike or do water aerobics for now. Seriously, I asked if I could continue taking lunchtime walks, and the doc said, "No way. You really don't want to piss off that back any more than you already have."

Oy vey!

I can't afford the water aerobics classes right now, but I'm going to have to figure out how to swing it...

Since I left the doc's office this morning, I've been entertaining the singularly un-Easter-ish fantasy of hobbling down the street and using my cane to "redecorate" the SUV of the boneheaded woman who hit me. Of course, I'll never do it. It just sounds good right now - as does screaming at the top of my lungs. Neither will happen, though. Instead, I'll take a nap, watch an old movie, and *not* go for a walk.

Here's hoping for a back cure in my Easter basket this year...

Hippity, hoppity, limpity, lumpity.

Friday, March 21, 2008

And *this* is why I love Fark

Fark headline tonight for story about tracking horseshoe crabs in Florida:

"Scientists ask beachgoers to track crabs. Everybody immediately points in the direction of Lindsay Lohan's house."

I just laughed hard enough to bother the creepy upstairs neighbors. Thank you, Fark!!

Music You Should Know: Raoul and the Kings of Spain

I've been a fan of Tears For Fears since they arrived on the scene in the 80s. "The Hurting" is a fan-freaking-tastic set of tunes, and Roland and Curt's follow-up recordings, "Songs From the Big Chair" and "The Seeds of Love" solidified their status as one of the best - and most cerebral - bands of the era. After "Seeds", Roland and Curt had, to put it kindly, a very bad falling out. Curt went his own way, and Roland continued to perform under the name "Tears For Fears." And you know what? Roland reaaaally didn't need Curt. Under the Tears For Fears moniker, Roland put out two fairly amazing CDs, "Elemental" and "Raoul and the Kings of Spain." The Sasquatch and I got to see Roland on the "Raoul" tour - holy moley, did it ever kick ass. "Elemental" got more play than "Raoul" did, and I think a lot of folks really missed out. If you missed out on "Raoul", go find yourself a copy on SecondSpin. You won't regret it. Enjoy the video for the title track:

After "Raoul", Roland put out another recording under his own name - "Tomcats Screaming Outside." While a bit less commercial than either "Elemental" or "Raoul", it's damn good, and after a few listens, it will really grow on you. One of my friends has declared this to be his favorite Tears For Fears CD, as a matter of fact, no matter whose name is on it.

Yeah, Roland and Curt have healed their rift, but frankly - as as evil as this sounds - I wish they hadn't. "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending" just didn't do it for me. I'd rather hear more from Roland alone.

I passed on the overpriced tickets for the "Happy Ending" tour when they came to DC in late 2004. But I still got to see Tears For Fears. At least the half I wanted to see, that is. Stopping by a coffee shop on the way to work, I saw Roland sitting in a corner, nursing a cup of tea. And, since I am the Person Who Will Talk To Anyone, I went over and introduced myself. Had a nice 10-minute conversation with him and left with an even better impression of him than I already had (and that was pretty darn good, already.) No cell phone camera back then, alas. Just warm fuzzy memories.

More solo stuff, Roland. Please.

(You really don't need Curt. Seriously.)

Kinch (or, this week's celebrity death trifecta)

"Open the Pearly Gates, HAL."

Arthur C. Clarke, noted science fiction author, futurist, and ironic air-travel-phobe died this past week. He was in his 90s, so that's not a bad run at all. Hopefully HAL 9000 wasn't controlling access to Heaven when Clarke arrived. "I'm sorry, Arthur, I'm afraid I can't let you in..." Of course, Clarke wasn't really sure what he believed in, so there may have been no Pearly Gates for him at all. Hey - whatever was waiting for him out there - as long as it wasn't that creepy Kubrick "Star Child" - it's cool. Adios to one of the grand daddies of science fiction.

Run away! Run awaaaaaay!
(This movie scared the shit out of me as a kid...)

Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella died, too. Unlike Clarke, Minghella was in the "way too young to die" club. Cancer of the tonsils and neck sounds horrific, and it's an ugly irony that he died from a freak hemorrhage after successful surgery to remove the diseased masses. This goes a little bit beyond rain on your wedding day and a fly in your chardonnay. It's a stinking shame when anyone dies pretty young, and when that young person had creative vision, it leaves you wondering what other masterpieces he should have had the time to leave behind as his legacy.

For the record, I did not enjoy the story of "The English Patient" because I really didn't have sympathy for the Ralph Fiennes character (based on a fairly unpleasant real-life Hungarian guy who spied for the Nazis) or his lover, who spent much of her time banging Fiennes behind her loving husband's back (or up against a wall...) I appreciated the film, though. It was beautiful and lush - a canvas of a film, painstakingly painted in cinematic oils. It was old school movie art, like a David Lean film. "The Talented Mr. Ripley", another Minghella-directed film, had that same feel to me. Wonderful, layered, graceful.

If you want to see a really delightful (and sad) love story, do yourself a favor and rent Minghella's 1990 directorial debut, "Truly, Madly, Deeply". If you have a heart at all, it will make you laugh and cry. It stars the lovely Juliet Stevenson (I got to see her on stage with John Malkovich in "Burn This" in London back in 1990-something - she rocked) and one of the screen guys who makes me swoon, Alan Rickman. Ah loves me some Alan Rickman, yes ah do.

But I have, as usual, digressed.

Clarke and Minghella were not the only celebrities to die this week. There was one more. And this one I saw just about every day growing up in a TV-watching household: Ivan Dixon. Don't know him? He directed hundreds of episodes of TV from 1970 into the 1990s, including gems like "The Rockford Files", "Bionic Woman", "The A-Team"... But from 1965 to 1970, he was an actor. On "Hogan's Heroes".

He played a black POW on "Hogan's Heroes" - the only black POW on "Hogan's Heroes", Sgt. Kinchloe, or, simply "Kinch." Kinch was the communications specialist in Stalag 13, sending out messages to the Allies from the tunnel under the prisoners' barracks, while Hogan and the others undertook secret missions outside the camp, sometimes pretending to be German. Every once in a while, Kinch would say that he wanted to go out on one of these missions, and the whole group would just turn and look at him. No one ever actually said, "But dude, you're black. Aaaaand this is Nazi Germany..." Nope, they'd just stare at him, and then, Kinch would say something like, "Riiight. I'll go contact that submarine now..."

It was an interesting - and frankly, somewhat sad - fellowship on the Stalag 13 set:

The German Kommandant, often shown reading Mein Kampf , was played by the "Halbjude" son of one of the great European orchestra conductors. An Austrian Jew (who lost his whole family in the Holocaust) portrayed the jolly dummkopf, Sgt. Schultz. The French prisoner was played by a survivor of Buchenwald. And the dashing American hero? He was, in real life, a troubled man with a sex addiction, into homemade porn, and murdered by one of his skin flick buddies. And who could possibly forget Richard "Family Feud" Dawson? (BTW, would you believe, Dawson is married to a chick who was a contestant on "Family Feud"? Guess she actually found his trademark spit-swapping attractive. Go figure.) The ensemble was rounded out with the seemingly remarkably normal Larry Hovis. And the equally normal - and clearly talented - Ivan Dixon. The role of Kinch was sometimes a pretty thankless job, but I read a quote from one of his children saying that he appreciated that the sitcom gig opened doors for his directing career. Smart guy. Pretty dang savvy.

When he died this week at age 76 - just a couple of weeks shy of his 77th birthday, Dixon had been married to his wife for 58 years.

58 years. Pretty damn cool. That means, he was 19 when they married. Try to imagine the average modern Hollywood 19-year-old staying married to anyone for 58 years. (Yeah, right. - most of them will have longer-lasting and more intimate relationships with their Crackberries.)

I haven't seen an episode of "Hogan's Heroes" in a gazillion years now. It was part of my afterschool, syndicated TV ritual in grade school and junior high. I wonder how the humor has aged? I'll have to see if Nick at Night or TV Land runs it. Believe it or not, the show is a huge hit on German TV now. Strange little world we live in, no?

RIP, Ivan Dixon. No longer in the tunnel, calling that damn submarine.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hands-Free or Not At All

The Maryland Senate is soon voting on a bill that could ban the use of handheld phones and texting devices by drivers in our state. I am all for it. If you shrug off the significance of such a law or think it's too intrusive, I'll invite you over to see my x-rays or come to a session of physical therapy with me. I'm lucky, and I know it. But luck only goes so far.

Why anyone needs to text behind the wheel of a car is beyond me. It's insane. And with Bluetooth technology everywhere (or wired headsets a dime a dozen), there is NO excuse for driving with one hand up to your ear, clutching your Razr.

I guarantee - get hit in an accident like I did, and you'll get passionate, too.

The status of Senate Bill 2 is pretty shaky right now, and that's a real shame. I've never sent mail to one of my elected representatives before, but today, I've sent my state senator an e-mail:

Dear Senator Frosh:

My name is Merujo, and I live in Bethesda. Last autumn, while I was waiting in my car at a red light, I was struck from behind by a distracted driver using her handheld cell phone. I was in a small Ford Escort, and she was driving a large Toyota SUV. And, because she was driving distracted, chatting on her phone, she plowed her vehicle into mine, full speed. She could not even pull into a vacant lane to avoid me because she didn't have both hands on the wheel to turn out of my way.

I was shot into the intersection. My car was totaled, and I ended up with spinal fractures throughout my back. In fact, one doctor told me it was a miracle I was not paralyzed.

It's been six months since the accident. I still have to use a cane to walk, I have a pronounced limp, and there are days when I can barely function because of the pain. All because someone selfishly and foolishly had her phone up to ear, looking out her side window, chatting away. She's fine, by the way. She got a dent in her bumper and a flat tire. I'm still in physical therapy. And that not only depresses me, it makes me incredibly angry.

I travel the 270 corridor frequently, and I am astounded to see what I assume are successful, well-educated people doing amazingly dangerous things like driving with their forearms on their steering wheels, so they can text with both hands. It's clear - and terrifying - that they have no care for the people around them as they weave erratically through high-speed traffic. We have seen horrible accidents happen throughout the United States because people were driving distracted, with hands too occupied in text or conversation. I keep waiting for one to happen here in Montgomery County. I sincerely hope we don't have to have a tragedy happen here before people really pay attention.

Even hands-free laws won't keep people from being completely distracted or selfish, but it will help keep their hands on the wheel. Hopefully, the possibility of fines may make some people pay attention. It's not enough, honestly, but it's a start.

I'm lucky. I'm alive and I can walk. But, frankly, I don't want to have to press my luck again.

Senator, I sincerely hope you are supporting Senate Bill 2, and that Maryland roads will soon be a hands-free zone.


Bethesda, Maryland

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Now we are three

Happy birthday, little blog.

The Church of the Big Sky opened its doors for business three years ago today. 1,093 posts later, it's still here and I'm still here.

This blog started just days before I was tossed out of my contract job at a federal agency under ludicrous circumstances. Insanely ludicrous circumstances, in fact. During the weeks and months of insomnia, fear, and unemployment that followed, this page - and my incredible, dear friends (the Sasquatch especially) - kept me sane. Frankly, my friends and this blog kept me from taking a long walk into the ocean some days that horrible spring and summer of 2005. No joke.

And here we are now. Three years later. Two jobs, one case of freak blindness, a handful of stalkers and haters, a couple of car accidents, and one cancer scare later. It's been quite the rollercoaster, and I thank you all for coming along on the ride.

I may be moving the blog over to Wordpress in coming weeks. Regardless of where I hang my hat, the Church of the Big Sky will be out here with the usual assortment of randomness you've come to know and love/loathe/tolerate. (Well, as long as the craptop computer holds up!)

Cheers to you all!

Monday, March 10, 2008

But when do they drop the gay bomb?

Representative Sally Kern of Oklahoma believes homosexuals pose a greater risk to America "than terrorists or Islam." She believes, in fact, that they are going after "your two year olds." No, I'm not kidding. She really said those darn gays are gunning for your small children!!

Honestly, I did not realize the great Gay Plan to Take Over the World begins with toddlers. Damn, those homosexuals sure are sneaky, huh? I will have to take a gay friend for coffee soon and ask to see the secret gay community attack plans to co-opt the Play-doh and Gymboree set.

(I blame that swishy Teletubby with the handbag...)

Ugh. Watch this report. Judge Miss Sally for yourself. Nice to see just how Christian this supposed Christian really is.

Representative Kern: yeah, free speech is a great thing. If you're not a total tool.

Sally, Christians like you make Jesus cry. Tinky Winky, on the other hand, just thinks you're a jackass in need of a fashion intervention.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Thursday night, I stopped by the CVS in downtown Bethesda to pick up a box of Nice & Easy 114, the current (non-freaky red) cheap hair color of choice. I snagged a parking space next to the two handicapped spots and went in. As I scanned small boxes for the right color, I overheard snippets of a loud conversation between a couple perusing the Easter candy aisle.

"But do you think he's really handicapped?"

"It's just wrong."

"Yeah, no shit! Nice car, though..."

I assumed someone with no handicapped plates had pulled into one of the few designated spots at the pharmacy. Wouldn't be the first time that had happened here in the land of entitlement. I thought nothing of it and paid for my box of chemicals.

When I got to my car, I saw there was a very spiffy Jaguar parked next to me, occupying a handicapped spot. Indeed, there was a handicapped tag hanging from the rear view mirror. An older gentleman sat behind the wheel, the driver's door open. He had one leg stretched out the door, and, though I tried not to look, I could not help but see he had a serious palsy in one arm.

Or so I thought.

As I did the "healing spine sideways shimmy" to get into the Crapmobile Mark II, I got a better look.

Nope. No palsy.

The guy was going to town, whacking his willy in his fancy-schmantzy car. Polishing the wood. Beating his well-aged meat. Wanking with abandon.

I could not help it. I just stared, my jaw scraping the ground.

The onanistic Jag-ster finally noticed he had an audience and tried to stuff his member back in his trousers and get his leg back in his car. People, this parking space is directly under a big light right on a busy section of Wisconsin - there is no way you can masturbate in your luxury car a few feet from the entrance of this CVS and NOT be seen.

For once, I didn't say anything. I was just astounded and drove off, shaking my head. I know being affluent is no guarantee of having common sense, but there clearly had to be something wrong with this dude. At least I understood the conversation of the candy aisle couple.

What the hell is the problem with this CVS? Is it a second Pike Hellmouth, like the 7-11 by White Flint? I'm starting to think so. And I think I'll start using Purell after touching any products in this particular CVS location...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Pins and Needles

So, I left you hanging this week, which wasn't very nice. Truth is, I'm still dog-tired, and with a thousand things still undone. I feel like I'm on a social 12-step program right now. Remember to return e-mails, remember to return calls, remember to return library books...

It's a really good thing I don't have a pet, plant, spouse or child right now, honestly. It takes all my energy to get my shoes off in the evening.

And, it looks like there's a very good reason for this.

Let me backtrack a bit...

Shortly after the car accident in September that left me with the Crapmobile Mark I totaled and a lovely line of fractures up and down my spine, I started to feel utterly exhausted. I assumed it was from the accident alone and the accompanying altered state from heavy duty painkillers. Just walking from my office to the parking garage to retrieve the Crapmobile Mark II left me without energy. That's just two blocks, guys. Two blocks. I would sit on the cement block next to the Metropolitan AME Church on M Street and just try to figure out why I was so very, very tired.

My apartment is a pit - I barely have the strength to carry laundry up and down stairs, and the exhaustion combined with the relentless back pain means that cooking food - usually such fun - is like a form of torture. My short term memory has been as solid as Swiss cheese, which is not a good thing in any way, shape, or form. My eyebrows started to fall out - fortunately in a way that looks like I just got a little aggressive with grooming - and, if you recall from another of my misadventures, the dermatologist told me to start washing my face with a dandruff shampoo to control a small skin virus I'd picked up.

I haven't been able to stay warm this winter - I wear a turtleneck everywhere, and I even brought in microwaveable aromatherapy slippers to the office. (Not that my feet can smell the aromatherapy - that's just the way they come.) Frankly, I look and feel like crap. It's not pretty, kids.

So, a few weeks ago, I went into my doctor to go over some routine blood work. Thyroid issues run in my family - my mother had severe hypothyroidism, and two of my sisters have had partial thyroidectomies, thanks to cancer and other funkiness. But to be honest, I have had my plate so full, that hadn't crossed my mind. The doc looked at my blood test results and did an exam. "Your thyroid is extremely enlarged," she told me. "I need you to go get an ultrasound. Now."

So, I went.

And the results weren't good.

Large nodules. Really big suckers. And the doc was concerned that I might have cancer.


No one wants to hear anything like that.

I read a lot. I discovered that my list of maladies of recent months were the textbook symptoms of thyroid problems:

Unexplained exhaustion? Check.
Weakness? Check. (I couldn't open a water bottle a couple of weeks ago, it had gotten so bad.)
Inability to stay warm? Check.
Susceptibility to skin viruses? Check, check, says JoJo the Dog-Faced Girl.
Eyebrows starting to vanish? Oh hell, yes, check!
Short term memory fried? What was the question? Oh, yeah - check!
Slow to heal? Just ask the doc working with me on rehab for my back fractures - check and mate.

Part of me was relieved to know there was a cause behind it all. Part of me was terrified at what the biopsy would show.

When I knew I would have to go in for a biopsy of both lobes of my thyroid, I got anxious. My sister, NurseRachet, said hers hurt like a sonufabitch. "Do you have any good painkillers left over from the car accident?" She asked me. "Because if you do, I'd take a couple with a swallow of water as I was pulling up the hospital. Had I know what it would feel like, that's what I would have done." I didn't have any of the "good stuff" left. Just ibuprofen.

The Sasquatch found a blog entry describing one woman's biopsy, which went a little wrong. I ended up hyperventilating in my living room after reading it. They nicked a nerve in her neck, and she felt the needles in her teeth, her eyes, dear god.

I practiced deep breathing techniques. I tried not to find read any additional firsthand accounts. I would be having an ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration biopsy. And the Sasquatch was coming with me. Only problem was, between the time I found out I had to have it done and the appointment, there was a week to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And agonize.

And wait.

I was unfocused. I was freaked out. I couldn't sleep.

I named the beast to coworkers and friends. I felt like, if you say "cancer" it has no mystery, no power, no hold over you. And, fortunately, thyroid cancer is one of the absolutely most survivable forms of cancer. Fortunately. Very, very fortunately.

Tuesday came, and I was up with the sun. I had to be at the hospital at 10:30 for an 11 a.m. procedure. I had my paperwork. The Sasquatch was driving me and was, as he always is, my rock of support. Man, I wanted this thing over and done with.

We got to Suburban Hospital right on time. I found myself being nervously chatty at the admitting desk. While the clerk went to retrieve my patient bracelet and paperwork, we watched another clerk read a celebrity news site online while she should have been checking in the elderly woman in front of her. Had either of us had our cell cameras in hand, I think we would have nabbed the clerk's photo to post here. It was uncool.

Banded like some oversized, rare migratory bird, I was ready to go to radiology. I gave my iPodlet to the Sasquatch to listen to while I was being poked and prodded. He had brought his MFA homework with him, and he was being a saint. Albeit a saint with an empty belly. One mini Cadbury egg does not a breakfast make. I told him to buy a muffin while I was getting the biopsy.

Once we were in the small radiology waiting room, things moved very quickly. I signed off on a couple of forms and had barely settled in next to the Sasquatch when they called me back. I was still in nervous-chatter-ha-ha mode, and I discovered my off-kilter sense of humor did not play well with the staff. I think they thought I was nuts. I had to shed the top half of my clothes and put on a gown - I would be betadine'd for the biopsy. I followed a nurse into the procedure room and laid down. She ran the ultrasound over my throat to find the locations of the nodes, and then hooked me up to take my blood pressure. I started my deep breathing and closed my eyes.

"Don't worry," the nurse said. "Most people have elevated blood pressure coming in to a biopsy... Huh... 115 over 81..." Let's hear it for deep breathing. Gotta try that zen thang the next time I'm in a stressful meeting!

The lights were dimmed and the doctor arrived. I swear to god, he looked like Artie Lange. You know, Artie Lange? Formerly of Mad TV, now Howard Stern's sidekick? This guy:

Reassuring, no?

In the darkness, I see this pseudo-Artie Lange, in some green logo t-shirt, hovering over me. "Hey, I'm your doctor, let's do this!"

Oh craaaap! A disheveled fat frat boy is about to stick needles in my neck! Gaaaaah!

He told me to arch my neck back as far as possible and focus on a spot on the back wall. "Imagine there's a photo of Brad Pitt there."

Again - my sense of humor failed me. "How about Brad Pitt's house? I want his original Craftsman bungalow.. ow.. ow.." (Insert sound of crickets chirping...) "You know, if Brad Pitt's available, that's fine, too." (Shut up, Merujo. Shut up, shut up.)

And so we began. The worst part? The injection of lidocaine to numb me. That felt like a blazing hot shot of acid to my throat. But in mere seconds, I felt nearly nothing. I kept my eyes focused on Brad Pitt as the gentle frat boy pressed a long needle repeatedly into my thyroid. Each time he took a sample, I could hear a beep. The nurse kept the ultrasound sensor pressed against my skin to guide the doctor's route. I cannot tell you how many times he reinserted the needle. I suppose I could count the marks at the base of my throat, but I'm not going to bother. They're fading fast.

Finally I heard a voice at the doorway. "Where is the pathology?" Frat doc responded, "There is none. It's just fluid. I dunno... go ahead and spin it out, but you can't keep it on a slide." He turned back to me. "They're just big cysts. Eh, I'm going to go back in and clear them out." So the needle returned a few times more. And then, it was over. The doctor was out of the room before I even realized it, and the nurse leaned over me, "See, he already gave you good results. Just fluid. That's great news."

It was great news. No pathology.

No cancer.

They cleaned up my neck and put a bandaid on me. I hobbled out, redressed, and was handed a discharge slip. I found the Sasquatch and we walked out. Leaving the building I told him my doctor had been "My White Mama"and he laughed. And then, when we reached the car, I told him the results. No cancer. And we both cried.

No cancer.

We celebrated with one of the most awful-for-you meals known to man: the open-faced hot turkey, mashed potato and gravy sandwich at Chicken Out. That damn thing probably has a week's worth of carbs on one plate. But when you've just given fate the big middle finger, it sure feels good. (And hey, if you eat it with a Coke Zero, that negates all the carbs, right?)

And there we are.

It still hurts a little to laugh and yawn, and singing along with the car radio is out for a few days yet. But those are inconveniences I can live with. I go see my doctor in a few days, and I imagine I'll start a thyroid-regulating medication at that point. That's nuthin', though. A cakewalk. And I will be thrilled, frankly, to get my energy - and my eyebrows -back through the wonders of chemistry.

No cancer. That's a beautiful thing.

Be well, everyone. Have a great weekend. Make sure your friends know you love them.

Peace out.

An apology to my readers (or why I've just kissed Google Adsense goodbye)

Update: I've received some very creepy e-mail from slavishly obsessed adherents to Adsense since I posted this entry. Also, two unscrupulous "made for Adsense" garbage website owners have stolen this Creative Commons license-protected content and posted it to their sites. This experience has been unpleasant. I've also been accused of making this up (yeah right - ask the Sasquatch, who sent me the screen capture of some of the ads), of being some sort of anti-Google agent provocateur (oh, puh-leeze!), and of being a pathological professional victim for complaining. Sorry, kids. Not the case. My blog, my rules. I talk about all sorts of stuff here - some of it more appropriate for adults, but regardless of my content (and remember, Google had to approve my site for their ads), Google promised "FAMILY SAFE" ads only. They did not deliver. I can control what I write here. But with Adsense, I couldn't control the influx of inappropriate ads - my readers were getting different ads than I saw, depending on what entry they hit.

If you're some raving Adsenser, you are welcome here, like everyone is, but I'm not going to engage you in any discourse. I honestly do have better things to do, and, having just gone through a cancer scare, I can tell you with no doubt, life is too short to talk to zealots. You're creeping me out, Adsensers! It's as if complaining about Adsense is akin to kicking your puppy or hitting your baby. Jeez. Go forth and make your money with ads and leave your self-righteous crapola at the door. And yeah, just so you know, there's a difference between posting about goofy grown-up stuff and ADVERTISING for sex crime defense attorneys. I'm not shilling for them or adulterous dating websites, thanks.

Original post follows:

Recently, I put Google Adsense ads on my blog. I had hoped it might generate a little extra $ as both my desktop PC and my laptop are dying, and I'm saving my pennies to buy a new computer.

Unfortunately, Google Adsense has not served me well. Despite Adsense claiming their ads will be "family safe", I've had crud show up here with titles like "Cheating Wives Meet!" with a link to a "cheating wives" dating site. Another ad was titled "African Radio" - this would have been fine with me had it featured a link to an African radio website. Instead, the link was for "blackpeoplemeet-dot-whatever" - another dating site. No radio, no how. Look, I have no problem with black people meeting. Or purple people meeting. Or lonely guys and space aliens meeting, for what it's worth. I'm all for all people meeting. But disingenuous crap pisses me off, and I certainly don't want to look like a skeezy tool to you, my regular readers.

Google Adsense has a feature where you can filter out specific URLs. And that's fine, up to a point. But when I look at my webpage, I often don't see the same ads you do. Sometimes, I have no idea what you are seeing, unless someone lets me know. So, most of the time, if there is something tasteless up there, I simply don't know, and therefore, can't take it down.

Tonight, however, the Sasquatch let me know my website featured ads with headlines blaring about incest and sexual abuse. He sent me a screen shot, and I was horrified. One of the ads was a link to a sex crime defense attorney website. Great. I'm advertising to defend sexual criminals. WTF?

Well, that was it, as far as I'm concerned. Do I need to bring in extra money? You bet. Am I going to do it with a company that's going to pop bold headers on my blog with the words "incest" and "sexual abuse" and "cheating wives"? No way in hell.

Here's the e-mail I sent to Google Adsense tonight after I pulled all the code off my page:

"I wish to cancel my account immediately. I have removed all Adsense code from my blog. I was shocked and digusted to have a regular reader contact me with a screen shot of my blog featuring ads with titles about incest and sexual abuse.

From the Adsense blog, I was led to believe that Adsense would feature only "family safe" ads. How ads titled "Incest A Family Tragedy" and "Sexual Abuse Arrest" count as "family safe", I simply cannot fathom. I am disgusted and embarrassed that my regular readers think I am happily advertising defense attorneys for sexual abusers.

I now have to apologize to my readers.

My blog is may not necessarily be family-friendly, but writing as a grown-up doesn't mean I support sexual abusers.


You need to vet your clients better, and you should make efforts to protect the publishers from crass and disgusting un-family-safe ads. I have no idea how many of my regular readers I have offended with your ads. If you want a copy of the page my reader sent to me, I will forward you the screen shot, complete with incest and sexual abuse-titled ads. I don't care about the content of the links, I care about the bold headers my readers see and associate with me.

Close my account now."

So, dear readers, I apologize if any of you have been offended or put off by any of the ads you may have seen on my blog. It certainly was not my intention to put anything crass or distasteful on my page. I noticed a decline in my readership recently, and I can only hope folks will come back to read.

This really upset me to find this out tonight. I may be a flake, I may be a goofball, and I may swear out here now and then, but I don't encourage cheating spouses and I don't help sexual abusers find a handy lawyer. It's upset me enough that I'm still up at 2:10 in the morning, embarrassed and angry.

This sucks.

With sincere apologies to everyone,


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Later, at the Hall of Justice...

So, Monday I posted that I had a date with some needles on Tuesday. I promised I would post again on Tuesday afternoon.

Well, I kinda blew that deadline.


I'll write a longer entry tomorrow and give you the details. Reader's Digest condensed version? I got some good news (preliminary good news - official good news to come on Monday) and my throat/neck hurts like hell. Not a lot of head-turning, laughing, or yawning going on right now.

More soon.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I'd rather be knitting

Not that I actually knit, but tomorrow I have a date with a couple of needles, and frankly, I'd prefer they were of the knitting variety.

I'll tell you more tomorrow afternoon, but let's just say that there may be a good reason for the fatigue and unpleasant funkiness I've felt in recent months. And let's say, too, for the record, that unless you're talking about Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, words that end in "opsy" aren't fun.

Hippity hoppity, wish me luck.