Thursday, September 29, 2016


Heh. Made ya look!

Note: This is a new addition I'm going to attempt to add on Thursdays. Facebook keeps barfing up old posts of mine from the dim, dark past of my homeless shelter days and a bit after. I've recently started to re-read some of the stuff I wrote back then, and apparently, I was in some drug-induced haze of inventiveness when I wrote this gem. This is also from around the time my brain took a va-cay and didn't invite my body along, so I think I can be forgiven, if I really don't quite remember writing this. Reading it though I do have to say this; it's my baby!

This was written about the time I started to show really overt signs of my essential tremor and no one had any clue what in the hell I was talking about. It also involves my eyesight, which is another swell thing to deal with.

When you have something that is not necessarily so definitive, doctors like to sit on fences. All well and good for their malpractice rates, but hell for the patients. I’ve just had enough of the psychoses and all the other little treats that are not so slowly being unveiled. The fourth of October can’t get here fast enough. I’m sure I’ll have to play the kind of game you get to play when you go to the Optometrist.

You know the one where they put the combination Wheel-of-Fortune-Darth-Vader-helmet-minus-the-helm doo-dad in front of your eyes and start alternating lenses. Then ask, “Is number one better? Or…is number 2 better?” Frankly, every damned one of those things ever in my entire life was a smeared blur with a light in the distance. They could have painted butter on one lens, motor oil on another, and cheese cake on the rest for all the clarity I ever experienced. I would mumble some kind of response and half an hour later would walk out with a pair of glasses that would take residence under the front seat of my car for the next year, until I received my friendly reminder, telling me it was time for my next eye appointment. I’m so glad I had vision insurance, as well as car insurance.

Driving. Ah, yes, driving. At the beginning of a friend's post, she talks about all of the wonderful construction and how it puts our nation's highway system in some kind of stasis. Yes, it has, for centuries. It has been going on for eternity. Dinosaurs were originally used for Highway Stasis back when the earth was first cooling and it was then that the first roads were laid. These roads were pronounced good and have remained pretty much the same to this day. Oh, there may be talk of road expansion and a bit of hot patch thrown down now and again, but the original roads that brontosaurus and his cousins, backhoasaurus and goldbrickodactyl built are the foundations for all the roads traveled today.

As governments and empires rose and fell, it became necessary to justify huge expenditures of money that had been wrested from the peasantry. The wealthy oligarchs couldn’t continually have festivals and high holy holidays with all their conspicuous consumption, so they came up with public works. If they weren’t building giant eyesores in the name of Whobius Frippus, they were busy paving and re-paving and re-re-paving roads, some of which actually went places. Cue the dawn of an era. One Roman Emperor, Flambius Corpeum Dirge in a confused attempt to meld form and function tried to pave the Apian Way using an entire Circus. This failed miserably when the elephants trampled the midgets and dancing poodles. The only up side was that an idea was born, and the putative Emperor tossed aside the midgets and elephants and had the road paved by the poodles. And people wondered why the Roman Empire died in 479 A.D.

The Dark Ages were really, really dark. I think roads were pretty much optional and were infested with outlaws anyway. You had to practically go to the Holy land or back down around Rome to get a decent road or at least a path during the Dark Ages so, we’ll skip ahead shall we?

Okay, here we are. It’s about 2003, so you know we’ve skipped. I’m still playing between Tampa, Orlando, Melbourne, all over Florida and the Southeast, the roads of which are ALL in some kind of state of construction. If it’s not the magical slowdown for 6 hours, it’s the driving on uneven lanes. There are cones, barrels, construction workers looming up at you, even at night; it's frightening. It’s a mess and it’s constant. It’s been like this since I’ve been touring in the early 90s.

Anyway, one night I’m between Tampa and the Mauseschwitz, driving home after a gig, tired, with so many cones, barrels, uneven lanes and so much odd shit going on. I’m following the cones, like the good driver I am. They keep veering right, veering right, veering right. The lanes are uneven. Then, clunk! I’m not on the road! I’m still following the cones, following the cones…WTF? I find myself with about 45 other bewildered drivers in the middle of some empty field, milling around, driving in confused circles, just milling in circles, kicking up dust, wondering how in the hell we'd all gotten there. It was the Bermuda Triangle on land. We somehow all managed to stagger our way back out of the field AND without benefit of an entrance ramp, nor a flagman, crawled back up onto I-4. WTF? Maybe we were in some kind of bastard Roman Games, in the midst of bear-baiting gladiatorial games and part of chariot races? Clambering back up onto I-4 unscathed with nary a battle-mace in my side-door, which car insurance wouldn't cover, but would look cool on the wall. Time Warp? WTF?  Who knows? This is Florida, after all.

Isn't this the 275 interchange to Nebraska Avenue? Wrong century, dewd.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Other than the most horrible election campaign in forever and the most divisive political and social climate in the USA's history since the pre-war antebellum years (prior to 1860) – at least it seems to me, and I do remember Selma, Alabama - there has really not been much to carp about in my life, until now.

I've been playing again regularly and writing. My life is my own and I have a sweet, sweet man in my life that I adore; the wait was well worth it. I play with computers and fix them and consult with think tanks and am pretty cutting-edge and I keep my skills sharp, and my wit sharper.

I don't let my essential tremor or weird eyesight stop me from doing anything – well, except maybe driving, 'cause no one wants Mary on the road. The 'hood is dangerous around here as it is. So, what is causing me to just want to yearn for the days when I could hop astride my battle-charger, grab my scimitar and lop off heads?

Medicaid. What a benighted, stupid, lazy and useless blight on the landscape. All social entities of this ilk fall under the same judgment, if all of my experiences are anything to go by.

The last time I went into a Defcon 1 state was when Jim was dying and Hospice sent out this Social Worker Manager, who did nothing but check her phone, her jewelry, diss the hard-working nurses and aides, and make eyes at Alex. When I was trying to get her attention to find out just what in the hell was going on, she started talking to me, got two words out, then her phone rang, and she just automatically answered it. She stuck a finger in my face, like "hold one!" and was attempting to plan a meeting. I waited, and then she proceeded to turn her call into a social visit.

I jerked that phone out of her hand and hung up on her caller. Karen (they're always a Karen, or a Kristen, or some goddamned preppy name, said “But I was planning Wednesday's Staff meeting!” I glared at her and said, “Lady? I don't give a fuck if you were planning the fate of the Free World with the U. N. You're with ME, now, bitch!” THAT got her attention.

When one is disabled and has to fight with this kind of thing CONSTANTLY, you learn to get militant in a hurry. Nice does not cut it. These people do not go into these fields to help people. They are not the “best and the brightest” of anything. They do so because they really aren't much good at doing anything else and they really aren't held to any "real" standards to prove that they are of exceptional worth.

This was brought home to me with a resounding thud last week, when, after careful planning by myself, and what I thought were my supplemental Insurance company, Medicare and Medicaid, I went ahead and had all of my upper teeth removed, and two lower ones. That was the easy part. As a matter of fact, the doctor was astonished. I have an enormously high pain threshold; maybe abnormally so. Between the time the administered the locals and pulled 17 teeth, I was in the chair, maybe 45 minutes, 15 of those jabbering at the Dental Assistant.

But, before I could have that done, Medicaid, as usual, threw me a curve ball. I had to pay for the entire thing UP FRONT. At first, I thought it would just be my “Share of Cost” which is the most goddamned stupid term in the entire universe. My share of cost is just 200.00 less than I get paid each month on my SSDI check. Now, how in the fuck am I supposed to live on that, if I can't meet my “share of cost”, even if it's one penny less?

I bit the bullet and paid. I've been suffering for a while. We Scots have horrible dentition anyway. My mom lost a child due to her rotten teeth. My dad had to have an upper plate when he was 57. I'm 60 and got this far. But, I've had abscess after abscess and as I've had congestive heart failure, that's asking for trouble. One of my medications I take for my breathing - COPD, which I barely feel - is also hard on dentition, too and there's no way around it, now matter how much you rinse after you use it. It's been getting harder and harder to eat, and that's an issue for me. I have trouble keeping weight on. So, the uppers had to go.

Anyway, I called Medicaid, and uploaded my bills and did what they told me to do. Today, I got a letter of denial from Medicaid. I think a picture says 1,000 words, so I'm just gonna post the bills and Medicaid's response, along with my response to Medicaid. I can't upload my response to them just now, because they use some fuckin' JAVA bullshit, but one way or another, this is gonna be a short ride for them, because I refuse to truckle with idiots.

Okay, this bill has my name on it.

Page 2 shows my signature and where I paid. To be fair, when I sent this to Medicaid, I had NOT signed this. I WILL be sending the SIGNED copy, if they can get their collective rectal craniotomies performed and fix their fucking JAVA. 

THIS. . . is what the fine folks at Medicaid sent back to me. I immediately lost it. I just cannot fucking believe that anyone there took a look at my bills. I wrote back, the following, attached as a note in that cute little red and yellow box up there as a note: 

ARE YOU KIDDING????? Before you send me another rejection, beware! This kind of shoddy treatment on the behalf of the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families will bring unwarranted attention! I went OUT of my way to ensure this very thing did not happen. I not only paid YOUR (reimbursable to ME, which is fucking LAME) portion out of pocket, I paid MY insurance cap's portion out of pocket.  I have another Dental Appointment for a deep cleaning on 9/26/2016 and am expecting to have an upper plate made. I have horrible dentition due to the medication I take for my COPD. I have had congestive heart failure, in the past and now suffer from essential tremor and am legally blind. I have a failure to thrive, partially due to being unable to chew properly and this is a medical necessity! What is wrong with you people? 

I live on a fixed income and am approximately 15.00 from going hungry and being homeless AGAIN, because you nameless gorms cannot look at paperwork and do your jobs. IF! IF I see one more rejection of this type, I am marching my ass down to the nearest TV station and showing them this whole debacle. I will also contact my State Senator, your supervisors and you will wish that you had at least learned to follow directions.

Am I clear on this? I certainly hope so, because I will not write another missive of this kind. I will act.

Oh, Hi! Me again! I then fired off an email to State Senator Bill Nelson. My next step, if this is not settled to my satisfaction will be to call the local news station, Channel 8, and present them with this whole mess for their "8 On Your Side" Series. I got too much to do and I really, really don't need the aggravation right now, or ever, really. There was a time in this country when people didn't have to monkey around with this kind of horseshit and all I'm doing is doing the goddamned State Agencies' jobs for them. They are all leeches on society and this right here is one reason why the country has gone to hell and everything sucks!

ADDENDUM: According to my treatment plan laid out by my Dentist I was to get my remaining teeth cleaned and two small fillings on the bottom. We got the cleaning done, but because the insurance is STILL showing up in the system as Preventative ONLY and not TOTAL care, which is what the card is showing that I have in my hand, I have to wait on that. It just gets worse and worse and I gave up my 24 transportation vouchers, which led to ANOTHER hassle for this! Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


I've decided that finishing the #A-to-Z-CHALLENGE on my time line isn't such a bad idea after all. This gives me the chance to not only write, or make up some nonsense about my 'hood, but also to take a look at some of the more idiotic nonsense that is going on as regards to peoples' understanding of what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are all about in this here us. Emphasis on the “us” because I sure as HELL don't recognize this as the country of the U. S., that I was born in anymore.

The latest flap has devolved into what constitutes “patriotism”, I guess, with some people agreeing with Colin Kaepernick and others disagreeing in a very disagreeable fashion with his display of choosing NOT to stand during the National Anthem before a football game. The question is not one of patriotism and Kaepernick should be either supported or ignored, according to others' feelings. I get why he feels this way and I cannot disagree with him. But, for him to have been moved down to back-up quarterback and to be taking all of the abuse he has been given is unforgivable. He is merely stating something that he feels is wrong with our country, a right all of us share and if you don't believe me, read this, the 1st Amendment of our Bill of Rights:

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitutions prohibits the making of any law respecting and establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religions, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a government redress of grievances.”

This was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

What Colin is doing is protesting; as is his RIGHT. It is our right to disagree, but not to interfere, nor to demote, nor to say stupid shit, as did Kate Moss, when she said Colin was denigrating a “symbolic song”. It's an “anthem”, meant to rouse a group, a cause, a country, and there is no symbolism in the thing. But, hey, Kate's just a hair-do. Nor is Kid Rock (and I love Kid's music, plus, he's another Michigander) correct in yelling F*ck Colin Kaepernick! during one of his concerts. If he wants to engage Colin in intelligent discourse he should. Kid, you're way smarter than that, I thought.

courtesy: gettyreuters

Colin Kaepernick has been demonstrating since the pre-season, but his message has spread and more and more athletes (not just football players) have joined him in his silent protest against the deaths of many African-Americans to police. In all fairness, many other people have died at the hands of guns: police, whites, Hispanics, children, the elderly. I live in a 'hood where my night-time Lt. regularly comes to my house on a "shots fired" call. I do not advocate for gun-control, but for stricter background checks. All lives DO matter and Kaepernick is taking a huge risk and a brave stand by doing what he is doing to START A DIALOG, not be treated like scum.

We used to have passionate discourse and disagreements in this country on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat, and I guess Harold Stassen was along for the ride too, for several elections. People would have some damned heated discussions, but they ultimately led to compromises, or would at some point realize, both sides were unworkable and start over. It's what made us so strong. What kept us so flexible was the knowledge that you could walk out on any street corner, climb up on your soap box and spout just about any gibberish, with the exception of trying to foment the overthrow the government. That worked for YEARS and there's no reason to stop doing it now.

However, we're in this weird Joseph McCarthy-like era, where people are afraid to say what they really think – just look at what Reince Priebus did to his own Republican Party; by having them swear an oath of loyalty to their own party, so that they would support the EVENTUAL nominee. This has never been done in the history of any democracy and it undid the GOP, as everyone HAD to swear their fealty to Trump. No one dared say what they really thought.*

Protests, especially passive ones such as these are meant to foment a dialog. People need to look BEYOND what Colin is doing and question WHY he is doing such a thing. He certainly knows that he is not making himself popular; he's not doing this to be anyone's hero. He is trying to draw attention to a grievous wrong in this country that has just been recycled over and over and over and over and there is no relief in sight of it ending.

All of this hollering about #Blacklivesmatter, #Bluelivesmatter is just that; hollering, but I agree, it needs to be hollered. Full of sound and fury and signifying nothing. It's creating nothing but more fear on both sides, and it's a terrible fear.

Before one more person dies on ANY side to any accidental gunshot, we should all ask ourselves, “why is this young man doing this? Why is he so willingly making himself an object of controversy and derision? Why is he making people react this way?” I have an answer. He's forcing us to look at ourselves. By following his own belief that there is a problem and it's a big one I agree, he's hoping he can change other people's minds. He's hoping that maybe in his humble way, he can make us look into our hearts and see if yeah, we're not part of the problem and we take all of this way too cavalierly. He may ruin his future and his career, but by God, he's doing something he believes in. Can you say the same?

Saturday, September 10, 2016


This is a blast from the past, but I think it's a good post. From September, 2013.

I have been told that I can raise computers from the Dead and that I practice the Dark Arts in the understanding and healing of them. However, even the most virtuoso violinist at the apex of the violin heap, has had a slip or two off the fingerboard, and played clams a-plenty. I also have a huge affinity for the viola and despise the violin, for a few reasons. One being, I am never comfortable playing a violin, so naturally, I have or have had several of the things at one or another time in my life, rather like mice or cockroaches, and I have had only one viola, my Bolognese-built snob of an italian, maker, Guidantus Florenus, or Wolf, as his luthier named him, when he was appraised and certified after his bonafides checked out. So, I have no need for other violas.

Those violin notes high up on the "E" (EEK!) string are harmonics. Maybe. I wouldn't know, because they're above the hearing range of anything that lives on this planet. My friend Nancy, who has been my stand partner, much to the woe of our manager (it's his fault, since he knows we get into trouble) swears those are real notes. I think she's lying and I know I'm faking, when some moron of a band-leader seats me in the first violin section.

However, I rented violins for a while, then I bought a few, then I sold a couple, because the first were just not quite what I wanted, and then I bought another and it was okay and then I sold that one. I am currently violinless, which is really okay with me, since I am not playing professionally much anymore anyway. Wolf rocks and that is all I need.

This is just Wolf's scroll. Note the serif (point on the bottom) Seen head-on, (the pic of which I don't have) the two sides are asymmetrical which is a hallmark of Guidantus. He packs a wallop of a sound and is a dream to play; like butter.

Now, if we were to transfer all this love/hate over to... oh, I don't know say, computers, it would go like this. I love desktops. The bigger and leaner, the better. I have an ancient Gateway, that JC farts around on and watches Hulu+ and Netflix on and he's happy with that. I have a dual-core, that is pretty much over-clocked right now and it works well. It has an extra power supply for the monitor and software for my vision. It works even better once I rid it of all the dancing baloney, hoo-ha and JAVA type stuff that slowed it down and allowed it to be susceptible to all manner of bad ju-ju. Still, I am looking to upgrade to another quad-core AMD this year, with up to 16 X the amount of speed and Terabytes, rather than Gigabytes, for some very specific reasons. Sheesh. Thank the Christ you don't have to do that with violas; although it could be said I already own the equivalent of Big Blue or Cray of violas, so that analogy doesn't work.

Yes, take your stupid mousey control thingy and vamoose, along with Herr Mozart and that high, screechy thing, the violin.

Yeah, you scoot too! (Truth be told, this is a beauty; probably a Storioni, or a Stradivarius.) Whatevs, man. Begone!

What does work, is the statement I make about “slipping off the fingerboard” as it relates to system rebuilds. Over the last week, I and my “colleague's” business has seen an up-tick in repairs, rebuilds, shooing away of malware, trojans, hijacks and just general fuckery. Most of our “patients” have been laptops, which now and forever, I equate to violins.

Don't get me wrong, I love my IBM laptop T42. Probably because it is an IBM product and I am proud of having worked for them and being a top-drawer engineer there. I fixed all manner of gaffes, goofs and even restored 2 idiots' laptops that they left in the car overnight in a town in North Dakota. They had already called in once, and the idiot IBM engineer who talked to them first told them to leave their laptops “in the sun for a few hours and that will work.” It didn't and I received and fixed the second call. Epic in the history of "Stupid I Have Known at IBM" for the 1st guy. But, believe me, I have committed my share of confuse-a-what writ large.

Spreadsheets, databases, documents, suites. All of this crap will only replicate the data after it has been entered. I used to think that I should keep a Magic-8 Ball and tell callers, "It is too soon to tell" and other cryptic shit, or talk like Yoda. IBM wouldn't have minded. As long as it got fixed, you could play hopscotch in the aisles. Those were the days.

I once got a call from a guy who was trying to copy some data in a cell in Lotus 1-2-3, from Row 2 to Row 500, or something. So, I assiduously walked him through the process, highlighting the row, in this case row 1, hit CTR + C, then use the down arrow and holding down Shift + CTR, highlight the rows, then hit CTR +V and voila! All of your numbers or formulae or what have you are supposed to be copied. Only this didn't work. Blank cells. I went at this from every way I could think of and the guy was really patient. I put him on hold and consulted with some of my fellow engineers around me. And we were all coming up with nada, zilch, bupkus.

So, I go back to my caller and apologized for making him wait and explained; yargle, blah, blah. There was a silence for a moment, then I hear this tiny voice in my head set, “Am I supposed to have typed my numbers INTO the cell I want to copy first, y'know, like before I copy?” I turned to stone. I wanted to say, “well, Lotus 1-2-3 doesn't come with the ESP module yet, so yes moron, you do.” But, that should have been one of the first things I asked him. Still, I was the OS/2 Goddess.

Similarly, after my great save last week of the doomed quadcore, wherein I used several highly unorthodox techniques to rescue the operating system, using a different rescue method than the one given and utilized a non-sanctified disc and changed the BIOS boot order and DAMN! If that didn't work. So, what followed yesterday, reminded me that yes, I am human and may not reclaim my status of Goddesshood. I'll settle for Beastess. Yes, I have feet of clay, make mistakes and laugh about them later. I am my own best audience.

I don't hate violins or laptops as much as this precocious nitwit, not by a long shot. But on a scale of things I hate, he's barely ahead of having the shits, throwing up or dying.

Another Toshiba laptop. Oh, how I hate thee, Toshiba Satellite C655d-s5200. You work and all your parts are running, so can you please tell me why, in the name of Chthulu, why every Goddamned ethernet controller I feed you, you refuse to see? What the hell is wrong with you. You go online, hard-wired, wifi and no problemo, but you will not and refuse to see any Ethernet controller. Are you one of those stupid orphan cards made by some fly-by-night company that is in 6 Satellites and we're just screwed? Should I even give a shit? The worst part of this whole thing came to be when I realized I couldn't get on with my wifi antenna because I had it plugged into the phone jack. I guess I missed “Recognizing Shapes” class at school. Once, I plugged the wifi antenna in, Surprise! Internet. But no damned ethernet card. I really, really hate, you Toshiba Satellite C655d-s5200.

I'm sure this was a riveting class and I missed a whole bunch of stuff that would be mostly helpful. For now, I'll just continue trying to put wifi antennae into phone jacks. I mean, it's not like I can see the damned things, anyway. 

Thus has become my pogrom against laptops in general. The whole mouse and pointer and select thingy is spastic. I use plug-ins on my own. I vow here and now, NOT to start acquiring these nightmares. I also don't do hardware and am not keen at all about Windows of any stripe. So, a new pet hate; along with Mozart and violins, we can now add laptops.


I went to the hospital on Friday, with a piece of paper that had a bunch of gibberish on it. It just said something about pulmonary whatsis and I had no idea what to expect. I showed up early and had all of my stuff for once. Usually, I leave shit at home and papers, or scrips have to be faxed and it's just a nightmare. I should have everything pinned to me, like those idiot mittens we all had growing up in Michigan.

So, I was early, and got checked in and then was given directions to the banks of elevators in TGH, Tampa General Hospital. I don't know what it is about hospitals, but this is one of the most confusing places, as was the University of Michigan hospital, where I worked during school. At U of M, you didn't enter on the first floor, like a normal building, you entered on the 4th floor. At TGH, there are east and west units. I think I was directed to the western units. All I know is the lady says, “You go left past the Golden Tree” (what is this, a Runescape quest?) another left, go to the end and you'll see elevators. Go to the 2nd floor to pulmonary.”

Off I go, past the Golden Tree and find the elevators. TGH is a teaching hospital. I love teaching hospitals; they're madhouses and there's all sorts of stuff going on. Besides, this was my home for almost 2 months in 2010. Anyway, I'm waiting by the elevator, with a bunch of folks and there's a mad stampede, unseen but heard from a hall to my right. A passel of doctors appear, and they do a football huddle and whisper excitedly for several moments, then they tear back off the way they came. A drive-by consult. All that was missing was the clap and “BREAK!”

The elevator comes and I'm the last on, as I'll be the first off, so I get to push all the buttons. I get to the 2nd floor and hop off. The pulmonary wing is absolutely dead, crypt-like. There's a guy sitting behind the desk, and he says, “Wallace?” I said, “yup.” So I mosey on over and I see there's an electronic scale. He says, “What's your first name, I was told, but I can't remember anything, I'm as sharp as a bowling ball.” I start to laugh and tell him. I ask if this here scale works and he says yes, so I jump up on it. Well, it didn't do anything. Boyd says, “It's got to be turned on, first. Hop off.” I did and I turned it on. 108.2 pounds. Hallelujah! I haven't been over 104 pounds in over 7 years.

I am so lame when it comes to taking pictures. It's like a cow driving a car.
Attempt #1 (It should be noted; this was BEFORE I was diagnosed with essential tremor, so that's part of the problem. The other part is, the Wallace gene will guarantee that bad pictures are taken 99.99% of the time.)

I told him this is a major achievement for me and he's looking at me like, "Sheeh, most women have the opposite problem, and you're thrilled to be 3 pounds heavier". Boyd's ready for this test and I am too, I really had no idea what we were doing. So off we went. It turns out it was a spirometry test, as I have COPD, which like essential tremor, is partially inherited, but mostly dictated by behavior; smoking. I had quit 2 years earlier for the last time and didn't miss it. But through the whole test, this guy is just telling one joke after another. He's better than I am! The only thing I told him that cracked him up was when I commented on his last name, “Storey.”

When we lived in Michigan, we went to a high Catholic Church and in the summer time, one of the members of the church, a veterinarian, named Dick Storey, would open his lakefront house in the afternoons and have house parties and we would all go after church. Being an only child, I never mixed well with other children at all, but was perfectly at home with adults, so I would hang out in the living room, where Dr. Storey had a baby grand piano. Thank God, my parents were not of the “children are seen, but not heard” school of child-rearing, although on this occasion, they may have been reflecting on their choice. But they would step in if things started to get out of control. Once, after a dinner, I was hanging with the guys, because they were a hell of a lot more interesting then the women in the kitchen, who were cleaning dishes and probably slurping martinis. The men were drinking whiskey and smoking cigars. The other kids were outside, playing dolls, or army men, stuff I had zero interest in, at the time. I developed a raging interest in Military History later on; I was really a crappy girl-child.

Boyd's co-worker/buddy came over and I almost poked his eye out with my cane fiddling with this shit. Boyd helpfully hung onto it for me as I tried to take a picture, and not make shitty videos.
Attempt #2

But, back to the Veterinarian and the piano. During a lull in the conversation, I announced apropos of nothing, “Dr. Storey, did you know I can play the piano?” Dr. Storey, having 5 of his own kids, and being extremely patient, said, “why, Mary, no, I did not. Why don't you play a tune for us.” My 5 year old self proceeded to clamber up on the piano bench and play “Onward Christian Soldiers,” which I had learned in VBS, the previous week. When I was done, I said, “Any requests?” My father hollered out, how about “Alexander's Ragtime Band.” I said, “Okay!” And I proceeded to play “Onward Christian Soldiers,” again. I asked for another request, but before I could fulfill another happy listener, who had asked for George Gershwin's “Summertime (that would have been awesome,) my mother came and whisked me into the kitchen. That was pretty much the end of my piano-playing career.

Boyd got a kick out of that. But, Boyd had quite a story of his own. He spent time in the Navy and then, re-upped as a sonar man for several tours. He's been with TGH and not only does testing on patients like me, but the heart transplant patients. These tests, consist of blowing into a tube, several times, as a machine registers lung capacity, elasticity and volume.

We did it several times and it went like clockwork; his patter was continual and I asked him if anyone had ever complained, because it has a lulling effect, which also caused me to concentrate on what we were doing. I've noticed in the medical profession, the very best, will have a way with being able to get through the static of a patient's fears. They will be able to get the patient to buy into what needs to be done and it is something that is not easy to do, although it may look easy. He said he'd had a couple of complaints; but overall, the response was just fantastic.

When I had my ulcer surgery, way back in 1985, it was so successful, because the doctors and nurses made me part of the team. My own recovery time was 1/3 what was expected for a major surgery back then.

Mr. Boyd Storey, RRT. A laff-and-a-haff and a great guy! I enjoyed this and I hope I get to see him again. Attempt #3 was the charm.

So, as easy as it is to bitch about stupid doctors and the insurance companies themselves, when you run across the best, I think it appropriate to acknowledge them. I made a deal with Boyd. I told him if he didn't mind my mentioning him in a post that I would write a letter to his department head (he gets a Starbucks gift card) regarding his superior ability and his way and kindness with people. Thanks, Boyd. You're the best!

For those interested, I am not bad off. I have 43% lung function, but I walk and get around and am strong as an ox. As long as I keep not smoking, which I haven't done for over years now, I will be fine. I plan on being around for another 30 years, as the Wallaces and the Rosses have a longevity gene. Besides, I have too much to do.

A note: Since this post was written back on September 12, 2013, I have participated in several Clinical Trials and my lung function/capacity has increased to 90%. I started doing this in honor of my mother, who died at a relatively young age of 70. She lived every day fully with this disease, with far less than the lung capacity and overall good health that I now enjoy. The other most wonderful thing about this, is I'm helping to find a way to beat back this disease; as I mentioned, it's partly inherited and at my Clinical Trial place, Clinical Research of West Florida - who have become like family to me - there are patients who NEVER smoked, yet suffer from COPD. One day, it will be a thing of the past.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


This is a really great question because, my other muse, music has come roaring back into my life, and this is what I've been focusing on for a while. Rehearsals started up again for the Tampa Bay Symphony with some wonderfully interesting music, in Dvorak's 8th Symphony, Edward MacDowell's “Woodland Suite” and Richard Strauss's Horn Concerto; the not-inconsiderable string parts for any of us by any means. Strauss enjoyed writing neo-Romantic music and writing it as difficult as he possibly could. Once, a flute player was complaining to Herr Strauss that a passage in “Ein Heldenleben” (A Hero's Life) was unplayable. He looked at the part, and then looked at the score to see that the 1st violins had the same passage. “Liebchen, do not worry," he said, "it is unplayable in the 1st violins, too.” When I lived in Michigan and basically lived in my car, driving from symphony to symphony, we played that thing in the Lansing Symphony. There is a “battle scene” and if any viola player played more than 2 out of four correct 16th notes in the entire passage, I'd be surprised. The thing sounded like chaos, but it didn't sound any better played by the Cleveland Orchestra. Strauss just wrote some crazy stuff!

Okay, so, Richard Strauss's string parts didn't look as horrible as "Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz" by Fibich (it's a parody piece, like the "Viola Fight Song), but his string parts are pretty formidable. Herr Strauss was also one of the founders of BMI, which is why I'm not showing any excerpts here. ALL of his music is still under copyright!

Because I do have “essential” (there's that word again) tremor, I have to “work out” daily, with scales, intervals, string crossings, hand-framing, and a bunch of other gobble-de-gook that string players get, but is meaningless to a non-fretted string player, who uses a bow. Doing so enhances seems to enhance the muscle memory, or embed it in my pea brain. It's a good daily routine, but unlike a physical work-out, I'm not trying to get ahead necessarily, but just maintain my groove. It also makes it easier to read the music and run the patterns.

Viola Clef. The viola is the only instrument that uses this clef. We all play in Soprano (violin) clef and occasionally, some dimwit writes a part for us in Bass Clef or Tenor Clef. We tend to go on strike if this happens. My better 2/3 thinks we should all just add a 5th lower string to the violin (that would sound tubby and woody and awful) and we should just get rid of this clef all together. Somewhere, Beethoven is laughing, because he actually found a use for violas! (We also had a joke that violas only played in 3 positions, 1st, 3rd and EMERGENCY! I don't know why that is, because I "memorized" my fingerboard, and it's a lot easier to crawl around in 1/2 steps than to take leaps, although I can do that accurately, too! ;-)

It also requires discipline, which then I can turn around and apply to writing. I try for an hour a day. Sometimes, it gets so crazy around here, I'm lucky if I get five minutes. With all of the hoo-ha of getting passports, work visas for Japan (which got pretty hilarious I thought) and trying to get the SSA to put my money in the right account, so I can pay my bills while overseas (I'm beginning to suspect the government is incompetent) and deal with “new” insurance rules that I believe are designed to kill us off in a more spritely manner, I'm flabbergasted that I'm sitting here at 10:36 pm on September 6th, writing this for September 7th, 2016, after I just returned from a rehearsal and being gone all day. I guess planning is not my long suit, most of the time.

But, it's the discipline and not all of what I write during that hour, or one-half hour or five minutes is always good, or half-way good. It's a lot of dross and ends up in the Virtual Paper Shredder. Music is the same way. You have to be your own worst critic before you'll be any good at all. Luckily, there are tons of people in both Arts who are willing to assist! Happy #ISWG'ing!