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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in BTRIPP's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, August 18th, 2018
11:51 pm
Ow, ow, owwww ...
Now, I realize that the pain I've been dealing with is nothing compared to actually passing a sizeable stone (remember, I went through that a quarter century or so ago), but one of the worst parts of dealing with these procedures is the muscle pain that follows them.

There isn't much pain the day of the operation, as one is still riding the crest of the general anesthesia, but the next couple of days are horrible ... no doubt because one is strung up and strapped down (as seen in the pic here ==>) in a position that's convenient for the medical team, but involving leg and arm angles (as well as gut and sides stresses) that one is unlikely to be accustomed to. For hours ... as they have various pieces of equipment shoved up one's boy parts as access to the kidneys.

I've pretty much spent all day in bed, trying to find a position that doesn't hurt, while playing games on my new phone, and watching The Bears. While I'm OK when standing, and reasonably OK when sitting, making the transition feels like being pulled apart on the rack. No fun. What's even less fun is that the pain meds they sent me home with are only vaguely working, and I tried to go to Alleve, but a dose that will usually make my back shut up when it's hurting isn't doing anything either. Bleh.

However, I realize this just muscle pain, and within 3-4 days it will have faded into a bad memory ... but in the meanwhile I'm one cranky SOB. Be warned!

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Friday, August 17th, 2018
11:24 pm
Glad that's over with ...
I am assuming that after one procedure on my left kidney, and now two procedures on my right, that I'm done with this whole kidney stone thing (well, except for the follow-up to yank the wire out that's running from my kidney to my bladder).

I know, I really shouldn't bitch about it, as, aside from the residual aches from the surgery, I have had zero discomfort, let alone pain from all of this. Having "had a kidney stone" 25 years ago (waking up in screaming agony all up and down my left side), I'd just as well not have that experience again ... and this summer's "hospital time" was based on stuff seen in assorted scans that was not bothering me in the least, but freaking out my urologists. Needless to say, it's better to have that stuff out, but if they hadn't run the tests I would have been blissfully unaware of the stones ... until I wasn't.

Anyway, that's me waiting to go in ... which was a LONG wait, almost 8 hours in the queue. Of course, once "it's on", it goes real fast (for me), a gurney ride down various hallways, transfer to a table, and lights out with the general anesthesia ... and then a groggy coming back around (which reminds me - I may have mentioned this previously - but I always thought the Green Day song "When I Come Around" was about regaining consciousness rather than visiting folks ... I guess I never saw the video back in the day).

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Thursday, August 16th, 2018
11:56 pm
Cruel, but the usual ...
While it's not my least favorite part of this fun kidney-stone-removal game, it is one that I find quite irritating. That is, the dictate that one is not allowed to eat anything after midnight on the day of one's procedure ... and nothing but clear liquids (yes, in the old days I would have asked if that included Gin - waka waka) from midnight until two hours before one arrives at the hospital.

As anyone who knows me from "meatspace" for at least the past few years will attest, I almost always come with beverage, usually via a thermos clipped onto my shoulder bag. So the "no liquids" part will be a shock to my system.

Pictured here, however, is my very late dinner, obtained at the Subway up on Belmont after a late-night meeting at NTAC. The Subway up there stays open until 4am, so it's always a back-of-mind option for food in the "wee small hours". I just hope I'll be still full in the morning, so I'm not crawling the walls wanting breakfast (or, considering they want me in there at 11:30, lunch).

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Wednesday, August 15th, 2018
11:50 pm
Well, that sucks ...
You've heard me grumble about my cell phone. It's an iPhone 4s, so is fairly ancient in terms of iPhone versions, if only being six years old or so chronologically. It just died. I suspect the rain, but I'm not sure ... it's currently nestled into a baggie full of rice, hoping that some desiccation might revive it.

It was working just a few hours ago ... I went to an evening meeting close to the Jewel and Dollar Tree over on Broadway, and shopped at these two afterwards. It had started raining when I was in the meeting (despite my checking and it not being "due" for several hours), and was going between drizzle and rain while I was out. I had been in both stores and just missed the bus that would have taken me to Sheridan, and thence home, and checked my phone for when the #36 bus was arriving, so I know it was working then. But by the time I'd walked to the #36, took it up to Bryn Mawr, walked the 3-4 blocks home (carrying multiple 2 litre bottles of soda - ugh), and went to plug it in at my computer, there was no response.

No response to being plugged in, no response to the power button, no response to 'nuthin. Dead. Pining for the freak'n fjords. Grrrrr!

Of course, I have been drifting towards changing my phone. Hell, I bought a new phone a year and half ago, getting matching units for me and The Wife (for Xmas) so that I could trouble-shoot hers. However, she decided she was scared to shift from the iPhone to an Android unit, and ended up getting a new iPhone (which is costing us a chunk of money monthly), so I never had the impetus from that end to make the switch. And, as regular readers of this space no doubt recall, in the dictionary, next to "averse to change" there's my pic ... so I wasn't in a big hurry to replace something that was "working just fine" with something that I'd have to climb a learning curve for.

(Heavy Sigh) I guess I'll run down to the AT&T store on Michigan Ave. tomorrow to have them swap the SIM card to the new phone (I don't have the itsy-tiny star-shaped screwdriver thing that you need to get into the guts of the iPhone), and start to figure out how different it's going to be using Android. As usual ... sucks to be me.

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Tuesday, August 14th, 2018
11:20 pm
A very strange day ...
So, since I had medical stuff on the calendar for Monday and Friday this week, I had decided to go up to the Library to work on the Technical Writing course on Tuesday and Thursday, even though the schedule works better the other way around (when I can get in three hours or so of work and then go grab lunch), as TU/TH they don't open until noon. I was running late on top of this, and was on my way up to grab lunch before hitting the library (and then leave from there to get to a meeting), when I got a call from my Evanston client.

She was needing me to accompany her on an errand down to Northwestern Hospital (like I'm not seeing enough of that place this week), and then to a couple of other stops, and ending up over in Greek Town. She initially said she was bringing the same friend from the lobster dinner thing a while back, but then said she couldn't make it, but then said she was going to be there. "In all the confusion" the time they swung by to pick me up (China Palace was right on the way), had slipped much further into the afternoon than was the plan. So, while we were able to take care of the stuff down at the hospital, the part of the plan that was including swinging back up north to Skokie by 6pm sort of fell by the wayside, and we headed over to Greek Islands.

Needless to say, MY plan of "grab lunch, work 3-4 hours at library, hop El to meeting, go home" was totally shot.

Oh, and because I was running late up front on this, I had called in my lunch order to make sure it made it in before 3pm to qualify for the lunch deal, so I wasn't able to just blow off that. As it was, I ended up hanging out up at the restaurant for over an hour before they showed up, and we just made it in time for what she needed to deal with at the hospital.

Now, it's been a long time since I had dinner down in Greek Town, and was happy for the opportunity (on the clock), but less enthused than I would have been had I not had Chinese food (well, about half of my usual) a couple of hours before. One thing that my client ordered for the table were these lamb riblets that were amazing (sorry, no pic), but I was only able to make a gesture at consuming them - I need to keep that in mind for some later date where I'm looking for something caveman-ish.

And, if putting my schedule in a blender and hacking it to shreds wasn't enough, her friend was having "feeling poorly" issues and we almost had to get her a Uber or something to leave mid-meal (at least this time it didn't involve an ambulance). All of this took time and effort and psychic strain, and I decided to sit down and write instead of turning right around and trying to get to a meeting tonight - meaning that I have another "missed meeting" day to make up for.

Oh well, rung up some additional paid hours, got some Greek food in my face, and tomorrow's another day.

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Monday, August 13th, 2018
11:54 pm
Well, that was disturbing ...
I never knew how badly diabetes could mess with one's eyes before. However, while in the waiting area that I was deposited while my pupils did the dilating thing, I was reading a pamphlet about it, and it's scary - especially since it seems like there isn't any thing to do about it once the damage hits. Yikes.

The good news was that the eye doctor, who spent quite a while with a bright light and a mirror thing looking all around inside my eyes, said that I had NO signs of any diabetic damage. Hopefully with the improvements I've been having with the Victoza, I'll be able to avoid that altogether (with the weight loss side effect of the Victoza, there's a chance that I might get to the point - in another 60 lbs or so - where the diabetes might go away on it own).

The bad news is that she said I had the beginnings of a cataract in one lens. Fortunately (in terms of "if you're gonna get something"), this is such a common condition (about half of all people who make it to 80 have them), that the corrective surgery (replacing the natural lens with a plastic one) is nearly the most frequently done procedure out there. Not that I'm looking forward to getting to the point of needing that ... as I'm a total baby when it comes to my eyes ... I hate that pressure check thing in the exam, I couldn't tolerate contact lenses, and I'm sure not going to be happy with somebody messing around with a knife in there!

Anyway, another thing to add to the "getting old ain't for sissies" file ... all in all, not having any diabetic issues in there was a big plus up against the minus of the start of cataracts.

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Sunday, August 12th, 2018
11:37 pm
More perks ...
As I've mentioned (no doubt ad nauseam), I've been without a regular paycheck for a very, very long time ... despite all efforts (thousands of jobs applied for, etc.) to reverse that trend. I have gone through phases where I was doing freelance writing, web development, graphic design, video work, social media, etc., for an assortment of organizations, but this is not one of those phases. In fact, I'm down to one client, up in Evanston, who is a long-time friend who has lots and lots of projects that she needs back-up on. While I'm not getting paid much hourly there, the gig does come with perks, including accompanying her out for meals.

We typically (well, unless we're off in the suburbs on errands) end up at some place or another in downtown Evanston, and tonight it was back to Peppercorns Kitchen, a Szechuan-based Chinese place a couple of blocks from the Davis St. el stop. We've been there before (and my client orders in from them frequently), and they have quite a menu of mostly hot dishes. It (and another place a few doors down the block) both cater to the large Chinese population at Northwestern University, with items available that one might not find at most American Chinese places ... stuff like "Entrails of Sheep Soup", "Green Peppercorn Frog", "Clear Noodle w/ Pork Intestine", "Ox Tendon and Maw in Chili Sauce", and the no-doubt popular in some circles "Pig Brain". The menu options are reflected in the dining room, where there were about 3 tables of gringos and 10 tables of Chinese eating there.

We steered clear of much of this (although we did have a pork belly dish that wasn't the "cubes" of pork belly featured in most other cuisines, but "sheets" like wide noodles that was odd looking, but tasty), with the two entrees in the pic being their wonderful Ma Po Tofu, and a "sizzling" fish dish. Needless to say, it's great to go out for some "real" restaurant food ... since if I'm picking up the check it's likely to be at some place like my regular China Palace, which is more of a to-go kitchen with a few tables!

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Saturday, August 11th, 2018
10:37 pm
Deep funk ...
I suspect that if I were employed (in something that wasn't particularly soul-crushing), or the beneficiary of some major fund (I'd take a big lottery win, really), my psychological states would be far more positive than they are. Despite the chaos of the first part of this year (which, yes, I have still not detailed here, although it being a daily stress factor), which would have been totally avoided had I not been without a paycheck for the past decade, I am at least reasonably level in my malaise on a day-to-day basis.

However, there are days like today that creep in. I have been rollercoastering between panic attacks and deep depressive funks for the past 36 hours or so, sufficiently disrupting to have kept me off the computer and pretty much retreated to my bed. Not fun. At least it's Saturday, so I have some late-night options for getting to meetings. Speaking of which ... I should get myself a least presentable enough to go hang out with the drunks ... don't want to miss another day and end up beating myself up over that too.

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Friday, August 10th, 2018
11:58 pm
Addictions ...
I have read a couple of books in the past few years that are all about how addictive sugar is, and how it should be "controlled". Of course, as a libertarian, I think the latter part of that is hogwash, but I sure do get cravings from time to time. And, needless to say, while trying to maintain a diabetes-friendly diet, snarfing down candy is not something that I should be doing.

However ... there's the dollar store. And there's the candy aisle in the dollar store. And there are (at least) two of my all-time favorite candies in the candy aisle in the dollar store. One of which is gummy bears, and the other being Red Vines ... a nice, big, 6oz (supposedly 5 "servings") bag of Red Vines (which one can try to convince oneself are healthy, since the main ingredients might be argued to be "corn", "wheat", and sort of "citrus"!) ... for a buck. As you know, I have been remarkably successful at keeping myself "clean & sober" over the past few decades, but the siren song of this stuff is too much for me, so every now and again, into the cart they go.

Now, I'm not a daily candy eater, but when I've got a craving, I've got a craving, and having some around seems a better option than having my going nuts or having to make a guilty (and pricey) late night run over to 7-11 to scratch that itch. And today, whilst surfing the web, I had an inclination to have "a few" Red Vines. I'm not a moron, so I knew going in this was going to be more than a 3-piece "serving", but I had really expected eating less than half of the package. So, there I was, reading stuff online, and pushing those sweet red sticks into my face ... not paying much attention to the quantity, until, that is, I suddenly realized that there weren't any more left in the package. OOOPS!

And, you know what? I just took a sniff of the empty bag ... addictive behavior patterns are addictive behavior patterns. I guess I should at least be glad that it wasn't a dozen gin gimlets!

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Thursday, August 9th, 2018
11:47 pm
It's about time ...
I have an appointment on Monday morning with an actual eye doctor. I can't recall the last time I went to one, with eye exams in recent decades largely being done at chain glasses stores. Chalk up another thing to having hit the out-of-pocket/deductible levels on our health insurance.

My main aim is to get a current prescription for new glasses (that I can then get cheaply through Zenni), as my eyes have been shifting vs. my glasses, and it's gotten to the point of being a near daily irritation. I'm currently in bifocals, and when I was checking out the prices at various chain stores, those were coming in way more than I was wanting to spend ... which is why I'm going into the eye doctor (with a referral from my internist) rather than the usual option. This will also make it easier to have the prescription written out both for the progressive lenses and for individual far and near glasses (I use one for at the computer and one for movies).

However, there's also the diabetes angle ... one of the weirdest things about diabetes is how much it effects your vision. When I first came down with this (and I took forever to get into the doctor about it - my blood sugar numbers were just shy of "coma"), the main notable change was that my eyesight had completely shifted. I've been near sighted all my life, but suddenly I could see far just fine, but was needing reading glasses. As we got the sugars under control, my eyes returned to their normal (read without glasses, can't see squat at 20 yards). The process of dealing with the diabetes has been in fits and starts, and I found that I could tell in my vision differences when my sugars were high.

For most of the past year, I've been on Victoza, a nightly shot that does wonders on keeping the sugars down (I figure I'm, on average, down 100-125 points from before on just the pills), with a lot of days being in "normal person" range. My suspicion is that this shift in my sugars is also the cause of my eyes going off of my prescription. The main issue is that I'm having problems with my "near" vision lenses ... to get a crisp view of my computer monitor, I have to slide my "near" glasses way down on my nose, and when I'm out, I can't read labels, etc., unless I take off my glasses. Needless to say, I look forward to having new lenses that are right for my eyes!

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Wednesday, August 8th, 2018
11:22 pm
Since all the cool kids are doing it ...
It's hard to miss over on Facebook ... but I never "get the memo" on these things in advance ... it does appear to be "International Cat Day" (which for some odd reason makes me think of a Sade song from back in the day), so here's some kitty pictures (click for bigger).

Those are Lily and Jackson ... who are siblings obtained at PAWS the day that Michael Jackson died (bizarrely, Jackson was not named in tribute, but there must have been some weird psychic leakage of that which got into The Girls' heads when they were coming up with names), which also happened to be The Wife's birthday, and she was wanting a calico to replace the one (Dusty) who had recently died.

Needless to say, we headed up there looking for one cat, but there was this brother-and-sister pair that had been the runts of their litter (Jackson is a big cat, hard to imagine him as a "runt") that had just come in from a stay with a foster family. We couldn't see breaking them up at that point, so ended up with both.

As I've previously noted, I've never been much of a "pet person" as I'm usually so distracted that their care and feeding tend to be something I need constant reminding of, but The Wife came as a package deal with "Miss Nikki", a calico that her sister had given her at one point, so I started getting used to having "livestock" around. When Nikki was with us, I was running Eschaton Books, and was typically at my desk 14 hours a day, and when nobody else was in, she'd wrap herself around the base of my chair in my office ... always putting various body parts in jeopardy if I were to suddenly back up from the keyboard (and it was not uncommon to hear a yelp as casters ran across her tail). Over the years we've had fish, a whole procession of parakeets, guinea pigs, and a rabbit as The Girls grew up. We currently have two cats, two parakeets, one turtle, and a recent addition of a hamster. And you can guess who (aside from dealing with the cats) has ended up keeping most of the critters cleaned up over the years.

Anyway, Lily and Jackson want to wish everybody out there a happy "International Cat Day", and remind you to send treats (or whatever one does in celebration of this estimable holiday).

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Tuesday, August 7th, 2018
11:37 pm
Rain, rain ...
Another day of not getting done what I thought I'd get done.

First of all, had a call from my client up in Evanston about my coming up there to work on some stuff in the afternoon. I figured I probably wasn't going to be heading out to the library to do coursework today, so I said "sure". However, while I was on the El on the way up there, she texted me and said that things had gotten screwed up on her end and we'd have to put this off till later in the week. OK, fine. I hadn't had lunch yet, so I got off at the Davis stop, walked a couple of blocks to Taco Bell, and had their featured box. Yum.

As I had failed on getting to Dollar Tree on Sunday, I figured I take the El back down to Wilson and hit that on the way home. I lucked out and got the Evanston Express, so it was direct from Howard to Wilson. While I was at Lunch, The Wife texted me and asked if I could pick up a couple of things she needed for a business trip, so I added going to Target on my to-do list. Now, I had seen forecasts that there was going to be rain today, but I had so far avoided any. It was just starting to drizzle when I got down to Target, but by the time I'd got the stuff for The Wife, it was pouring, so I opted to settle into the seating area by the Starbucks in the store and wait out the worst of the storm while finishing up a book.

After a while (I was able to track it on WGN's weather app), it lightened up some, so I decided it was time to duck down the block to the new Dollar Tree. The picture here, however, (click for bigger) is what I found on said block! It turns out that the Chicago area got almost twice the rain in a 2.5 hour period today than it had gotten all of July ... pretty amazing.

I first thought I'd go around this (although the north-south blocks up that way are quite long, making it a bit of a hike), and just come back up Sheridan from Montrose, but by the time I got down to Montrose it had resumed fairly solid rain, and a #36 bus was coming, so I hopped onto that. I figured I'd get off at Berwyn, and hit the older Dollar Tree there (the rain had lightened up again), but was disappointed to find that a good half of my "shopping list" was not in stock ... though I did get a great haul in the book department ... $104.00 worth of hardcovers for four bucks!

Considering the amount I was out-and-about today and the amount it was raining I did pretty well in only getting rained on for that one block walk, plus a bit on my way in from a meeting this evening. Still need to get to that Dollar Tree at some point.

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Monday, August 6th, 2018
11:31 pm
Meh ...
Today was pretty much a waste (well, I did get some things re. domains straightened out) with none of the to-do list getting addressed, plus I was "feeling poorly" so wasn't particularly inspired to get out to do errands. That "feeling poorly" transitioned to "gastrointestinal distress" by the evening, so I even missed going to a meeting, opting for napping over all other options. Not much to report otherwise, except that I swapped the CD in my desktop player from the latest Dimmu Borgir release to an Andean music CD that I'd picked up at the Newberry Library Book Fair's half-priced day for a whopping buck and a half.

Anyway, for your amusement, there's a lovely picture of my typical emotional state ... as usual, click for bigger ===>

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Sunday, August 5th, 2018
11:08 pm
Out and about in the heat ...
I'd been avoiding going out this weekend, with both days being in the mid-90's, which is too bad, as I missed EdgeFest, which was right up by the library/Chinese place. I also missed a friend's band playing down at Montrose beach ... but I just couldn't see going out and loitering in the heat.

While it was not so bad walking for a few blocks at a time when I did go out today (at 5pm - a lot earlier than yesterday when I didn't venture out until I went to an 11:11pm meeting), the whole exercise was sort of messed up. I decided to go to the 5:45pm "We Are Not Saints" meeting down at NTAC. I've always wanted to make a Simon Templar joke about that line in the "How It Works" reading, and was half hoping that this meeting (that I'd not been to before) was focused on attendees' previous "bad behavior", but, sadly, that was not the case nor did I get a chance to make the jest (I did pick up two "earworms" in the course of the meeting, this and this, you can try to figure the contexts). Also sadly, the whole timing of my outing was messed up, as I'd chosen that meeting as it would give me the opportunity to get to the dollar store on my way home ... except that it turns out that said dollar store closes at 7pm on Sundays rather than their usual 9pm, and I arrived there at about 7:03!

I had also planned to grab a bite to eat while in transit, but the places that I had envisioned noshing at were also closed, so I was a somewhat unhappy camper by the time I got onto the bus to head back. I decided to treat myself to some non-lunch-deal Chinese, and stopped a couple of blocks shy of home to hit the classic Wing Hoe restaurant on Sheridan (it's been there, in an old mansion, for ages - the phone number on their sign predates area codes, even). I got some fried wonton and a hot-sour soup (both of which were delish) to go, and walked in the heat the rest of the way.

Anyway, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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Saturday, August 4th, 2018
11:43 pm
Well, that didn't take long ...

I have all sorts of OCD-type habits, and one of which used to be writing down my daily LJ rating number (ego, ego, ego). Now, there are a lot more active accounts here than mine has been in recent years, and there certainly are a lot which have more readers and comments (both of which seem to matter in the count) than I ever get, but I've been pleased to have a fairly low number (against the millions of LJ accounts), and somehow, although it certainly is "comparing apples to oranges", I'd come to settle on a "satisfactory low" (i.e. high ranking) level being my rating number lower than my account number.

And there it was today, with the former slipping down below the latter, 2644 vs. 2663. If I recall correctly (all the stuff like that got lost in the move), I did at one point drop down below 2k on a regular basis ... but I realize that I'm going up against blogs that get read by more than an handful of people, so I convinced myself that my aspirations should be tempered, with having it be lower than 2663 (I was the two thousand six hundred and sixty third LJ account way back in Y2K) be "glory" enough.

Woot. Nice to be able to enjoy small victories. It only took 34 days of daily postings - which surprises me. Oh, and if you click on the image above, you'll get it full size.

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Friday, August 3rd, 2018
11:26 pm
Not such a notable day ...
Some days it's just keeping in one's lane ...

Got up later than I'd planned (I'd hoped to have made it to the library to work on the course stuff when they opened at 9am, but didn't get out of the house until well after noon), which screwed things up a bit. Ended up going to China Palace for lunch before hitting the library (they're about a block and a half apart), which put my start time there six hours later than I'd intended. Got two hours in (about what I've been averaging on a study session) before they closed at 5 ... headed home with just enough time to change shoulder bags (from the one with the netbook in it to the one I generally schlepp around with) and head out to my usual Friday meeting.

I had one brain fart in this process, however, I pulled up a tab in the browser in my Fire tablet which has departure times for the southbound stop across the street, but neglected to refresh it - so I was looking at times from some completely different temporal context. I discovered this when I got there. The stop has a display unit for upcoming buses, and the next 147 was due in about 25 minutes, rather than the 3-4 minutes that I was expecting. OOPS! Fortunately, I'd left a bit earlier than I needed to, so I still had time to walk over to the Bryn Mawr El stop and get downtown via that. I was a couple of minutes late for the meeting, but these things start with five minutes or so of readings, so I wasn't "missing" anything.

After the meeting I was hanging out and ran into a guy that I knew from my original 7:30am meetings in the old neighborhood, and he was up for going out to chat (offering to pick up the tab - yay!), and so we went around the corner to a place that a lot of folks go to from the meeting. We could have settled in with any number of tables, but he wanted to talk "books" ... which we did for quite a while (he may have some projects for me to work on). He's a black guy, a bit older than me, who'd been active in politics and black cultural stuff over the years, and was very enthusiastic about all things Wakanda ... I asked if he was going to be going to WakandaCon, and he did a "what's that?". I looked it up on the phone, and it turns out that the 3-day con had just started today down at the big Hilton on Michigan Ave. He noted how ironic that some "white boy" was the first person to bring this to his attention. Don't know if he was going to be going to it, but it couldn't be any more convenient!

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Thursday, August 2nd, 2018
11:43 pm
Hoo-boy ...
Today was a bit of a clusterf*** ... I didn't make it out to work on the course stuff at the library (in my defense, they don't open until noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and by the time noon's rolling around, I've gotten into other stuff), making me beat myself up for slothfulness again, while still not knocking down any of the several "hanging over my head" projects I have queued up. I was, however, available to take a call from the urologist's office responding to my several calls about getting this additional procedure on the calendar. I guess things hadn't lined up with them yet, so my hopes of going in for it tomorrow were summarily dashed. They did note, however, that they wanted to get a urine sample and so I hopped the 147 bus down to the hospital for that.

Now, summers in Chicago are crammed full of activities (most of which have nothing to do with me), and I'd forgotten that one of those today was a protest march against gun violence. The organizers of this (and preceding) march have decided that "closing down" major highways in the city is a good way to get attention (assholes!) and they felt that the north side (notably thin on gun violence) wasn't feeling enough pain, so they were going to shut down Lake Shore Drive and then march on Wrigley Field (where no doubt all them pistol-packing yuppies and tourists hang out).

Personally, I subscribe to the "contagion vector" theory of gun violence, in that the problem isn't with the guns but with the shooters, and marches like these are focused purely on furthering leftist gun grabs, while totally ignoring the true causes of the problem. Needless to say, pushing the disruption into areas where the problem is hardly a problem at all ... with the intent of "punishing" those areas for not having their "fair share" of the pain ... does nothing to help.

Anyway ... so, I went down to Northwestern to pee in a cup, stayed for a bit to grab some fries at GRK Greek Kitchen (the best deal on that food court), and went over to get the bus to head back north. I guess if I hadn't grabbed a bite, it would have been a moot point, but the bus I got ended up being the first on on the 151 route to get re-routed to avoid the march. We got turned onto Fullerton, Lincoln, Racine, Clark, Irving Park, and then back to its usual route on Sheridan. I got off on Sunnyside to pick up a couple of things at Target and Dollar Tree, and then had a very long wait for the next 151, which was no doubt not only being re-routed, but catching the first drag of the Cubs traffic ... the entire venture taking about 2 hours more than I had anticipated.

But that wasn't all, I just got back from a 10pm meeting at NTAC, and the El was packed with the Lollapalooza kids (after being slammed in the other direction earlier by the Cubs crowd). Not the most amusing day I've had :-( ...

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Wednesday, August 1st, 2018
11:02 pm
Back to school ...
Well, no, not really ... just "sorta".

I wonder when it was that I finally got over the Fall feeling that I needed to get organized for going back to college. It was almost like a "spawning" drive that took hold of me in the late Summer and was pushing for me to return to class. Certainly all the time I was working in PR it was there ... and was a constant point of bemusement. Perhaps, in all these years that I've been out of a job, due to my days being unremarkably similar to one another (if it wasn't for paper print-outs of monthly calendars on my desk onto which I can scrawl the stuff where I have to be someplace at a particular day and time, I'd have no clue as to what day of the week it was, and sometimes even what month it was), the urge got smoothed out into my general malaise ... one more thing to ache for amid dozens, if not hundreds, of others churning below the surface.

I have, however, purchased some on-line training. The one I've started out with is in Technical Writing ... this is a purely practical choice, as there are lots of well-paying jobs in that niche out there, ones that I'm fairly sure that I'd be perfectly happy to do, but for which I have no "experience", or even a decent grasp of the nitty-gritty of the field. As I noted a week or so back, I decided that my best shot at getting this stuff done was to go off to the local library. Today was my second day at it, and I'm now 8 out of 18 units done ... not bad progress. Of course, so far it's all been about the technical aspects of Technical Writing, the way documents need to be structured, the stuff that has to be in them and the stuff that shouldn't, and a rather dispiriting bit about how this differs from "creative" writing ... and I have yet to actually write anything (which should extend the process into several weeks). One of the recent tasks was to determine what we were going to be writing about, and I (being the lazy sot that I am) opted to do a "manual" for creating my book review books, largely on the basis that I had typed up extensive notes on the process so that I didn't have to figure out "how to do it" each time I wanted to get another volume out (and I've still not ventured into producing the 2017 book). Needless to say, the "audience" (one of the elements that needs to be in the planning document) for this is mighty small, but it at least is a system that I don't have to start from zero with to detail the process.

Anyway, there's a lovely snap of my set up at the desks. Some days it seems to be a bit of blood sport getting on the actual computers (of which there are quite a lot, around the outer wall), but the main tables are generally only half-full and are quite handy, having pop-up outlets in the middle of them so I don't have to worry about running on batteries. The crowd isn't exactly like my old Starbucks, but it's not been too creepy yet. Of course, I'm still struggling with the odd hours they're open (some days not until noon, and only 8 hours each day), but I guess it will eventually be a habit (after this course I've got a bunch of others to slog into).

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Tuesday, July 31st, 2018
11:33 pm
So, that's a solid month ...
It's been a LONG time since I posted on a daily basis in here ... I'd previously made a few faltering attempts (in recent years, that is, I pretty much "lived here" back in the day) at this, but they kind of fell by the wayside. I think the difference has been that I've been allowing myself some slack this time ... not forcing myself to be particularly interesting (oh, you noticed), nor insisting that I post "live" - which goes to explain why most of these are timestamped 11-something PM, as while the ideas for the posts are percolating in my head on an on-going basis, they typically get written the day after (or later) and get slotted in for the appropriate day. I know, "that's cheating!", and would have been something that would have horrified me in past years.

Obviously, there are things that are "missing" here ... I've not been able to get back into writing my book reviews, I've not ventured into my shrink-recommended renewal of poetry composition, and (aside from AA meetings) I've not been doing much of any networking events ... all of which have provided content in this space in the past. Although the reader's perspective may well be different from my own, I also feel that I've avoided the sort of ultra-personal rants and/or emotional venting that would make this space of no interest to anyone.

I am hoping that I could keep daily postings up. The way I've been managing this so far has, I believe, been sustainable in the generation and delivery of material. I have, however, been fighting against the "oh, why bother, nobody reads this" voice in my head which holds firmly to the proposition that "nobody cares" ... a reality that my better parts don't necessarily have much of an argument against. There was a time when I may have felt that the sheer presence of a blog would have "historical" value, but with the incredible volume of what's out there, the odds of having any notice (unless I somehow managed to become "a name" - which at this point has more chance of being as a Kaczynski than a Diamandis) paid to what I've written seems more and more like it's "slim to none" (a perception fortified by the attention absent from my dozens of recent books).

Anyway, there (well, here) it is, a full month of posting. Whoop! Toss the confetti.

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Monday, July 30th, 2018
11:22 pm
Well, that sucks ...
Was at the library, working on an online class, when my cell phone began ringing. It was some guy from the hospital who was going over my scans from the other day. It turns out that they only got about half of the big honking stone that was in my right kidney, so I'm going to have to have yet another procedure to get rid of what's still in there. Not fun.

One interesting thing were the notes on the rest of the scan, including stuff about healed fractures in various pelvic bones. Back in '93 when I was in that car crash, I was banged up within an inch of my life, and had multiple surgeries for the numerous broken bits in the arms and legs. I knew I had some fractures in assorted places, but this was the first I'd heard specifically about in the pelvis. They also noted some "degenerative changes" in parts there, which could be the reason my lower back hurts so much when I'm walking or standing.

Unfortunately, I have doubts about what can really be done down there ... it's not like a long bone break that can be structurally worked on, and I have no idea what might work to improve stuff. I've shot a .pdf of the report and will be sending it over to my internist to see what he might have to suggest.

Needless to say, having more tech shoved up my nether regions again was not high on my list of things to do ...

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