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Productivity.

My mind was focused on productivity today and it was a very successful endeavor. I’m feeling great. I feel like a new man. I dressed nicely for work, had a little incense burning and some soft music in the background. I shortly found myself in the zone for writing code and I wrote a heck of a lot of code today. Sometimes the stars just have to align. Maybe it’s the old style 1984 keyboard I use. Who knows, I’m not complaining.

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Follow Up 1 of 2.

<i>This could be considered a TMI blog entry. I share this information for others that have a similar issue, as I found reading the experiences of others to be beneficial to keep my spirits up during my experience. I won’t be offended if you move on without reading.</i>.

So today I visited the very capable urologist that performed the repair surgery to my urinary system at the beginning of this month. The official procedure is called a urethroplasty. Six centimeters of tissue was taken from the inside of my mouth and used to reconstruct a damaged, scarred area of my urethra. The scarring has been there since 1980 or so. I’ve had two catheters since the surgery on the 3rd of March. A Supra-pubic catheter was inserted through my abdomen on the 28th of January (and was replaced during the second surgery). Originally placed to allow my natural parts to calm down and stop the scarring process, the Supra-pubic catheter acted as a backup in case the second catheter, a regular indwelling Foley catheter that makes most people cringe, was installed during the March surgery. That has been my means of urination for 25 days. 

The urologist took some X-rays with contrasting fluid in my catheter, around my catheter and in my bladder. And then before I knew it, the catheter was removed and the doctor had a huge smile. “The graft site is not leaking and looks wonderful. Look at that.” He showed me a picture of a normal looking urethra, something I haven’t had in 35 to 40 years. “You have no strictures”.

I was then expected to urinate using my own parts while laying on a bed under an X-ray machine with four onlookers of the process. I couldn’t do it. Nope. So they filled my bladder with saline solution to the point of where I thought I was going to explode, he saw enough on the X-ray machine to confirm everything was good and then I peed into a special toilet that measured volume, velocity and the like.

Honestly, I broke all previous records in the doctor’s office. Ever. The last record was a man that could pee 40 ml/sec. I went off the chart at 55 ml/sec. I emptied nearly 700 ml of fluid from my bladder in just over 10 seconds. 

I passed the test.

The Supra-pubic catheter will remain in place for another week. For the next seven days I urinate like a normal guy, and then I unplug this little tube hanging below my belly button to confirm that I am emptying my bladder. If I’m not emptying my bladder, there’s a problem. So far, I’ve had 14 drops of urine fall from the catheter tube after going the bathroom. Not even negligible residual urine.

The doctor is confident that things are good to go. There was a worry of incontinence, since my scarring was so close to my bladder, but I can easily keep everything under control. Since my bladder hasn’t had to store anything since January, it’s a little weird having that feeling in my gut again, but I’m getting used to it. The doctor says my bladder will lose some of its muscle tone, as I used to have to push REALLY hard to urinate before this operation. As long as I can keep things at 18 ml/sec or higher, I’m good. And he thinks that’s not going to be a problem.

The Supra-pubic catheter comes out next Tuesday. I then have follow up appointments in July, November and then next March, just to make sure everything holds in place.

I cried with happiness, even though I’m still on healing restrictions, including absolutely no sexual activity for three more weeks. No heavy lifting. Keep your precious cargo supported with good underwear. No straddling anything for at least three weeks, longer if possible. I’ve made the decision that I’m going to replace my long-distance cycling with swimming this summer. And as soon as I have the all clear, I’ll be lifting some weights again.

I feel like a Superman. It’s time to start acting like one again.

Dress.

Photo from Passenger Shaming Instagram feed. It’s just a random photo I found.

Disclaimer: I’m not linking to articles because a lot of them are click-bait and sensationalistic. The account described below has been pieced together from Twitter claims, follow-up and the like.

Yesterday, apparently two 10-year young girls were denied boarding on a United flight from Denver to Minneapolis. The reason for being denied boarding was due to the fact that they were wearing leggings, which did not meet the company’s dress code. An outspoken bystander who observed this exchange took to Twitter and started tweeting what was happening.

Of course, Twitter started blowing up with all sorts of indignant tweets. Celebrities started weighing in on how awful United. How dare United Airlines dictate what people should wear on their airplanes. But, here’s the rub. What the original tweet didn’t state, and what is often buried in the story when this incident made national news (god knows why), is that these two children were flying “non-rev”. They were flying courtesy of tickets obtained through the perk of a United employee. Many airline employees are given a certain number of slots that they can share with family members and the like, I believe one friend who was a flight attendant could have 10 people on his “non-rev” list. When you’re flying on this type of ticket, you are a representative on the airline. You are a representative of the employee. The employee represents the airline. You’re not guaranteed a seat, you’re usually flying stand-by and, which is articulated quite well in the rules of this type of travel, you must be dressed in “business casual” attire. The airlines can be rather strict about the type of dress for these types of passengers, and the attire of these two children did not meet the criteria.

End of story, right? Of course not, there’s been endless tirades and such on Twitter for the past 24 hours of how children have to follow these rules, complete ommissions of the non-rev part of the story and just a lot of drama and outrage because that’s what we have for 2017. In 2016 we had celebrities dying everyday, 2017 is the year of indignation. God, I wish the Mayans might have been half correct in 2012 and at least spooked people back into finding some common sense.

When I board a commercial flight I do my best to look good. I might be crammed into the back row of a 737 in the middle seat but I can tell you that I will still be wearing sturdy dress shoes, a nice pair of pants, a collared shirt and probably a sport coat. I believe that the way we portray ourselves speaks volumes as to how we conduct our lives and I do my best to show the world that I am here to give more than I receive, to be a leader and to do good things for the world. When you schlep up the aisle, unshowered, unshaven in a pair of sweat pants with your hair up in a bun (man or woman, doesn’t matter), get completely lost while looking for your seat in the sequentially numbered aisles, throw half your belongings in various bins along the way and then plop down, take your shoes off and put your feet up on the armrest in front of you, I can only assume that you’re taking more from the world than you’re giving it. As a fairly judgey person (I own it, I’m pretty good at it), I see you as part of the problem, not part of the solution when it comes to this world of chaos.

Now, I could hearken back to the days when people were dressed up for their flight and you got more than four peanuts in a bag you can’t open and the cost of the ticket might involve a mortgage. I believe that everyone should experience flight. As a pilot, I can tell you that there is nothing better than being able to sit in an airplane and dance amongst the clouds. But an airline flight is allowing you to do something that humans weren’t designed to do, and that’s fly through the sky at hundreds of miles per hour to get from point A to point B. And honestly, that feat alone deserves a lot of respect. Not to mention the people around you that deserve respect as well.

Dress like you respect the world, act like you respect the world and perhaps the world will respect you back.

Broadway Cares.

Earl and I attended “Wicked” last night at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, the second to last performance of this tour in the Salt City. The show was magnificent. Honestly, we both enjoyed the show more than when we saw it on Broadway back in 2011. The cast, the lighting, the energy, the sound, the entire performance was top notch and worth every penny we spent on tickets.

After the curtain calls and the standing ovation, the cast came back on stage, asked everyone to settle down and explained about Broadway Cares.

The Mission Statement of Broadway Cares (courtesy of their website).

  • To mobilize the unique abilities within the entertainment industry to mitigate the suffering of individuals affected by HIV/AIDS;
  • To ensure direct support specifically through the social services and programs of The Actors Fund to all individuals in the entertainment industry affected by critical health issues, including but not limited to HIV/AIDS;
  • To support organizations across the country which provide treatment or services for people specifically affected by HIV/AIDS and their families;
  • To promote and encourage public support for national and international programs and services which benefit people with HIV/AIDS;
  • To increase public awareness and understanding of HIV/AIDS through the creation and dissemination of educational materials;
  • To support efforts by the entertainment industry to address other critical health issues or respond to an emergency, in each case as approved by the Board of Trustees;
  • To support efforts by the entertainment industry in other charitable or educational endeavors, in each case as approved by the Board of Trustees.

The leads announced that if each attendee in the audience gave just $3 on their way out of the theatre last night, they would raise $8,000 for this worthy cause from that one performance alone.

To me, that’s quite awesome. You see, as a gay man in my late 40s I’ve been to too many funerals of those that have died for AIDS and other HIV related illnesses. I have a concern that today’s generation doesn’t realize the impact that AIDS and HIV had on the world, let alone the gay community, 25-30 years ago. Many think that they pop a pill once a day and they’re impervious to HIV. While there are thousands of people that live their lives with HIV, it’s still not something that should be taken lightly. We’ve made amazing strides in treatments and keeping things manageable, but with the turmoil in health care funding currently taking place in the United States, things could get much uglier, really fast.

As the cast talked about Broadway Cares and encouraged the audience to donate on their way out of the theatre, there was talk about some swag with certain contribution amounts. Earl and I spoke briefly and decided that we would make a contribution, we weren’t really concerned with the swag, we just wanted to make the world a better place and this was a really good avenue.

On our way out, as we stopped to make our contribution with a costumed cast member, we were asked if we wanted to join the backstage tour of the Landmark Theatre and the behind the scenes magic of the show. The tour was led by Kristen Martin, the talented actress that plays NessaRose, who becomes “The Wicked Witch of the East”. We learned all about her special wheelchair that she uses for the majority of the production and a bunch of other abracadabra to make Oz seem so magical.

The backstage tour was longer and more in-depth than I expected. Pictures were forbidden outside of two specific locations along the tour, in the middle of the stage looking out on the seating area and in front of the great Wizard of Oz.

The Landmark Theatre is a relatively small theater and the touring company was barely able to squeeze everything necessary into the backstage area to make things happen. As productions get bigger, some of the older theaters require some creativity to make all of that magic you see on stage.

We really enjoyed the tour and seeing some of the backstage magic. But more importantly, Earl and I agreed that we were two lucky guys to be able to contribute to “Broadway Cares”.

Dreams Do Come True. (Repost: “Fly Like An Eagle” from 2005)

Fly Like An Eagle. I was just a couple of years off on this goal and dream of mine.

The past couple of days I’ve found myself daydreaming about becoming a private pilot. I think it’s the spring in the air or something, but I’ve really had the urge to get myself into a flying school and get that pilot’s license I’ve dreamed of.

Flying is in my blood, I suppose. My grandfather is a pilot (or at least he was, now he’s content on his motorcycle at nearly 90 years old). My dad is a private pilot and is in the process of building his second airplane. When I was a teenager he restored a 1940 Piper J5-A (nothing bonds a family better than getting high on airplane glue together when we’re all reassembling dad’s airplane!). He later built an Acrosport, which he flies during the nice weather.

I just have these wonderful dreams of Earl and I jumping into our brand new Cessna Skyhawk and flying off to his dad’s house in half the time. Or for a fun-filled weekend getaway. Or heck, to a pancake breakfast at a little airport in the middle of nowhere.

We used to do that when I was a kid. Dad and I would jump into the J-5A and head off to a little airport in Weedsport on a summer Sunday morning for breakfast. Grandpa would go ahead of us in his faster, home-built Jungster.

Some of my fondest memories of growing up took place at the local airport, a less than a mile strip of mowed grass in the middle of nowhere, with a gravel pit at one end and a string of utility wires at the other. There’s several hangers at one end to make it all look official. That and the “16” and “34” on their respective ends of the runway. Whenever we heard a plane fly over the house, we’d always look up to see who was flying. We’d have picnics at the airport with the rest of the pilots association. Dad would give rides. Heck, I’ve even flown a couple of times.

Earl has never flown in a private plane before. I’d love to have the honor of giving him his virgin voyage.

I see a goal forming… to become a pilot before I’m 40.

Seeing is Believing.

This may be a “TMI” post for some as it relates to my latest surgery, so if you’re a little hesitant about reading TMI stuff, please feel free to move on to my next post. I think there’s some interesting information in this blog entry but it’s up to you as to whether you want to read it or not.

Because I’ve had a catheter hanging off of my parts since the 28th of January, I’ve been able to monitor what comes out as a result of what goes in. If all goes as planned, I will no longer have a catheter as of Tuesday afternoon. Cross your fingers. I’ve crossed mine.

I’ve been eating healthier and trying to see how clear I can get my urine to be in the catheter bag. Last night Earl and I had a small date night, we went to the movie to see “Beauty and the Beast” (which was wonderful) and then we went out for dinner afterwards. Since I’m trying to be healthy, I had a vodka and cranberry at the bar instead of drinking a beer like I normally would. At the movies I had a popcorn and diet pop. No butter on the popcorn but still empty-ish calories and a heck of a lot of salt.

Since I can measure my overnight urine output with this little bag of fun hanging out of my junk, I noticed this morning that instead of my usual 800-1200 ml of output I was down to 600 ml and it was much darker yellower in color. I felt like I slept well last night but I’m still feeling tired this morning. So it’s true that what you put in your body definitely affects what your body is doing.

And why wouldn’t I treat my body with with respect that it deserves? Hedonism? Trying to fit in? Ardently following social norms?

I have a few more days of catheter time (hopefully) to finish up this latest round of science experiment. Having calmed down on my food due to the healing graft donation site in my mouth, I’ve lost 10 pounds. In that respect I’m feeling great. I’m not going to be able to ride a bike this summer so I’m trying to come up with other ways to get lots of cardio exercise, my options being walking, jogging and swimming, with the latter being my exercise of choice. I just need to find a gym that has a pool.

I’m reading a book by Mel Robbins called the “The 5-Second Rule”; the really short version is you need to react to a thought within five seconds of having that thought in order to make change in the habits of your life. A test of that this morning was to cancel my Noble Brewer subscription as a way to stop putting beer in my body. As an aside, if you like craft beer and being one of those beardy guys that enjoy a homemade brewski, Noble Brewer has some excellent offerings on a subscription plan. I don’t think you have to be beardy to enjoy it either.

Making the decision to cancel that subscription made me feel pretty good. I also drank an extra glass of water as a toast this morning. I feel more energized. I feel more alive.

I don’t know if you can turn a 48 year old man into a superhero, I mean, I’d look pretty funny running around in spandex with this dad bod of mine, but you can turn your mindset into that of a superhero by thinking like one.

Sometimes you just need determination, guidance and in my case, some physical evidence, to make a change in your mindset.

Links to what I talked about in this blog entry:
The 5 Second Rule – Mel Robbins
Noble Brewer

Movie Chat.

Last week Earl and I went to see the movie “Logan” at the Regal Cinemas at Destiny USA. Once destined to be the largest shopping mall in the United States, I think Destiny USA now comes in fourth. It’s nice enough, it’s plenty big and there’s a lot of entertainment value in the sprawling complex but the theaters are a little outdated. They’re pretty much original from the mall when it was built as Carousel Center in 1990.

The theatre had a seating capacity of under 100, there were four rows on the lower tier and four rows in a stadium arrangement. There was a single aisle up just one side of the theatre.

Behind us was a couple that insisted on talking about the movie during the entire movie. It was like we were sitting in their living room and due to the smaller size of the theater I felt like I was intruding on their private space. This is kind of weird when you think about it because we were, after all, in public movie theatre in which we had swiped a considerable chunk of change onto our credit card for admittance.

I’ve noticed that in the past decade or so people think nothing of chatting during a movie. Despite repeated warnings and funny scenes and occasional spurts of ominous music in an ominous font between the commercials and upcoming attractions, people still chat on their phones, text at a retina-searing display lighting level and talk to each other like they’re sitting in the Lazy-Boys in their living room.

I think it goes hand in hand with folks that think nothing of playing their electronic device in public (music, movie, news, porn, whatever) in the middle of a Starbucks or similar setting. There’s a reason that every phone maker gives you a set of free headphones with your phone. Use them!

Look, I want to enjoy the movie just as much as any other average American that enjoys going to the movies, but being one that is easily distracted in certain situations, I want to be able to concentrate on the movie on the screen and not have to listen to Buffy and Muffy discussing their boyfriends in the row behind me.

When you’re at the movie, please sit down, shut up, face the screen and enjoy the show. You dropped a chunk of change to get into the place but it doesn’t make you own it.

And a tip to movie theater companies: I would pay DOUBLE the going rate for movie tickets to the company that builds their theatres in Faraday cages, preventing any cell or wi-fi signals from entering or leaving the theatre. Post some large signs advising of such a thing and perhaps we could enjoy movies the old fashioned way.

In silence (or laughter if it’s a comedy).

Adjustment.

I still haven’t adjusted to Daylight Saving Time. I try to go to bed earlier but I just lay in bed awake. I try to get up early and I end up sleeping late.

I need to give it a couple of more weeks. Maybe after the surgery recovery I’ll feel more assimilated to those around me.

Nah, that’s quite doubtful.

Conversation.


Earl and I have always had an open and honest relationship. For the last nearly 21 years we’ve had thousands of discussions. A small minority of them have been heated, the vast majority of them were peppered with laughter and once in a while I’m good from a really good spit take. For example, we were talking about taking a vacation to Disneyland Paris sometime in the future. I mentioned that I needed to brush up on my French and should look into Berlitz or something. He said that I don’t have the attention span to listen to Rosemary’s Baby. 

It took me a few moments and lots of laughter for us to both realize that he meant Rosetta Stone. 

Since the beginning of this surgical journey back at the end of January, my diet has had to hover in the bland zone, especially since the latest surgery at the beginning of the month. With Earl retired, he’s been experimenting in the kitchen a lot more. We’ve started supper in the dining room again instead of eating a fast paced meal at the kitchen table or in front of the television. The meals have been wonderful and I’m lucky man to be married to a man that was able to retire at his age.

The best part of sitting in the dining room eating supper is the after dinner conversation. After we’ve both finished eating we actually sit and talk for a good 10-15 minutes before getting up and clearing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. I know it’s a really small thing, but it’s small part of what I’ve always dreamed of having in my perfect world. Growing up we had pleasant enough family meals, sometimes in the dining room, sometimes in the kitchen, but my Dad would hastily depart the table when he was done eating. My mom would ask him to sit down and talk but that wasn’t really his thing. He wasn’t mean about it or anything, it’s just that my Dad would rather be sitting in his chair reading a book or magazine or something. Couple the rule of “no politics, no religion, no sex” discussion at the dinner table with the quick exit by my Dad and it’s small wonder that I didn’t really know how the world worked until I was out on my own.

Since the election fiasco of 2000 I’ve tried really hard to be aware of what’s going on in the world of American politics and the world in general. I know just enough to be loud and not sound like a complete fool when I go on one of my rants and a lot of that can be attributed to conversations that Earl and I enjoy after dinner. When Jamie is home, he sits and chats as well.  The conversation occasionally goes off the rails but it’s good to sit down and have family dinner time, whether it’s the two of us or the three of us.

Perhaps more folks should get back in the habit of sitting down for dinner time and having a conversation. Maybe folks would be more interested in what’s going on around them if they talked to the folks around them.

Memories.


I think it’s been around 10 years since my grandmother’s piano made its way to our home. As a kid I always loved it when she played the piano and would let me (and/or my cousins) play the piano from time to time. Once when my sister and I were staying at my grandparents’ house while my mom and dad were on vacation, I was playing the piano rather loudly. My grandfather came over, put his hands on the piano and said in his typical voice, “Do you know what the word ‘refrain’ means?” He then closed the lid over the keys and that was that for the rest of the evening.

Beyond my love for music and my amateurish abilities at being able to play piano, one of the things I love about having the piano is that it still smells as it did when I was a kid. I don’t know if the piano smells like the 1959 mid-century house it used to live in or if the house smelled like the piano, but the scent lingers on and it makes me smile from time to time. 

The piano is a 1949 Gulbransen, so I’m assuming it was in the original farm house that my grandfather tore down to build the mid-century modern house he had custom designed and then built in 1958-1959. There was a special spot designed for the piano in the living room. As the estate was being settled after his passing, I couldn’t bring myself to go into the house with the piano (and other things) missing. I didn’t want to put dents in my memories of that house and that home. My sister and I were the lucky grandchildren that lived next door; I would visit Grandma Wing every day after elementary school and watch “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeannie” after she watched her stories while baking or cooking or doing other housework. She sometimes saved the ironing so she could iron while watching TV with me.

I tell Earl that if we had the money we would build a mid-century style home based on those custom plans, with a couple of modifications (vault the living room ceiling, make the dining room bigger). To this day I am absolutely in love with the design of that house. 

But in the meanwhile, I’ll make music and revel in the memories.