My Wife Got Sick

When I was married, my wife got very sick and went to the hospital.  I was in work and she got really dizzy, so she called in sick to her job and her mom who lived with us, took her to the hospital.  They told her that her kidneys were failing, and they put her on a dialysis machine.  Her mom called me at work and told me what was going on, so I left work to go to the hospital.  I told the doctor that if my wife needed a new kidney that I would donate one of mine, if I was a match for her.  I got upset when her mom accused me of killing her daughter, blaming all of this on me.

A week before this happened, we were having company and my wife decided to clean the carpet on the stairs, which needed a good cleaning.  She used carbona to get the stains out and she ended up inhaling a lot of dangerous fumes, which is what we both figured out was the cause of this.  It was my relatives coming over for a visit and maybe that is why her mother thought this was my fault, but I just attributed it to her not thinking clearly, because she was worried about her daughter.  This guy at my job, who I confided with and told him that my wife was on dialysis told me that once you go on these machines, you never get off of them, so this was not a difficult decision for me to make.  I would have gladly given her one of my kidneys, if that was what it took to save her life.

I am happy that it never came down to that, as the dialysis helped her, and my wife made a miraculous recovery.  If she did not get better, I would have had to take a lot of time off from work for testing, surgery, and recovery, and there would have been a lot of costs associated with that, not to mention I would always have to wonder if I would be able to live a long, healthy life, with just one kidney.  This was not a difficult, hard, or painful decision for me to make, but it would have been very life altering for me, and I was glad to have been spared from having to make this decision.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #153 which asks, “What has been the most difficult, hardest, or most painful decision you’ve ever had to make in your life?”

I Had Many Jobs

I can’t even list all the jobs that I had, but I wore many hats when I was still working.  I read that the average person will have 12 different jobs during the course of their lifetime, well I shattered that curve, as I had 17 jobs before I ended High School.  My first job was working as a solicitor, I walked around the neighborhood selling seeds (vegetables and flowers) door to door that would be delivered through the mail.  The company gave me some sample packets of seeds and a catalog that the potential customers could browse through and then order.  It wasn’t a bad job, but eventually you would exhaust the supply of relatives and neighbors and then the job ends.

I lived in Milwaukee when I was young and I made money shoveling driveways, which was not steady work, but Milwaukee does get a lot of snow.  I had a lemonade stand and I raked leaves for money in the autumn.  I also made money cutting lawns and my dad also paid me to help paint the house.  I had a paper route, but I spent all my money on the ice cream truck.  I worked as a pet sitter and a dog walker.  In High School, I got a job working as a busboy in a restaurant and then I worked as a bagger for a grocery store.  I worked at the country club as a golf caddy and also as a valet parking attendant.  My older sister paid me to watch her boys, but I was like the worst babysitter ever.  I worked at a car wash and I also worked on a garbage truck.  My dad paid me to be his helper when he got jobs to install antennas.

After High School, I got a job as a furniture mover working for a moving company.  I worked as a janitor, cleaning office buildings.  I had a job as a vacuum cleaner salesperson.  I worked in a carpentry shop and I worked in a machine shop making rollers for the newspaper printing industry.  I had a job that required me to assemble a crew of boys and canvas different neighborhoods for newspaper sales.  I worked as a swimming pool installer and I also worked as a landscaper.  I worked as an order filling clerk in a company that sold legal supplies.  I worked in a plumbing warehouse and in a steel mill.  I worked as a mixer in a place that made frozen cheesecakes.  I worked in a factory making roof trusses.  I worked in a cosmetics warehouse and I worked on the receiving dock at a shipping company.  I worked as a stacker in a factory that made clay targets that people use for shooting practice.  I worked as a helper in a panel shop that required me to do many different things, like degreasing panels with this nasty stuff called panther piss, helping the painter, the carpenter, the wiring technicians, driving the truck for deliveries, but basically just being the gopher.  I spent a lot of time hoping around from job to job till I finally matriculated 7 years later after getting out of High School.

After graduating college, I had at least 30 different jobs, but most of my time I worked as a consultant, so I often had 3 to 4 different jobs in a year.  The job titles that I held don’t fully describe what I did there, or what kind of companies I worked for.  Once I had my associates degree in Electrical Engineering, I started out as a drafter not knowing much, but learning how things are done.  My next job, I was called an electrical designer, which was a step up from being a drafter.  The drafter was basically told what to do, but the designer was in charge of identifying and organizing how electrical drawings were being produced and in order to do this job, so you had to understand relay logic and be familiar with power distribution.  I had some understanding of the relevant standards, including an introduction to the National Electric Code (NEC), so the equipment could be designed safely and this is where I first worked with Computer Aided Design (CAD).  This job was basically working with temperature controls, but there were also some actuators involved in this system.  My next job was also working with temperature controls for hydrogen furnaces.

When I got my fourth engineering job, I was an experienced designer understanding how all of the equipment worked together in a system.  I knew what the components looked like and singe I was good at investigating which parts were tied together, I was assigned to do a lot of reverse engineering on existing systems that lacked documentation.  This company had rooms full of equipment that they needed to keep running, but because of the poor or total lack of electrical schematics on these systems, it made maintenance a nightmare.  I had to reach into control panels to find out which wires were connected to what items and basically crawl around everything, till I could produce the necessary control system documentation.  During this time, I went back for my bachelor’s degree at nights, and then they gave me a raise.

Working as a consultant, requires you to be an expert on day one when you start a new job, as you are hired for a specific job and there will not be any training for you.  After working for this medical device manufacturer, I got another job working with a company that made several kinds of weird products and one of these produced an electrical charge that removed barnacles from the bottoms of ships.  The other products were also a bit strange, but they involved equipment for the water treatment industry.  I then got a job that involved mixing rubber for the tire industry.  I worked with weighing equipment, blending and material handling conveyors.  The next job I got was working in the quarry industry creating one-line diagrams for motor controls that were mostly conveyor systems, but I also helped to design a lime kiln and a crusher.

In my next job as an electrical controls system engineer, I worked in the Liquid Crystal Display manufacturing market on prototype machinery for this assembly line in a clean room.  The system had just become operational when I got this job, but it broke down often and I was there to tweak it when necessary.  Several different Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s) were tied together on a Data Highway and working in conjunction with a Wonderware SCADA system and there were several other operator interfaces tied into this system along with some stepper and servo motors.

In my next job, I worked as an instrument engineer creating installation drawings that showed how all different types of instruments were to be mounted and connected.  In the following job, I worked on gas-fired batch annealing furnace projects for the Steel industry.  In my next job I worked on several ion exchange membrane water treatment projects.  In my next position, I worked as an instrument engineer again on a pharmaceutical project where I worked with the Process and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&ID’s) incorporating interlocks to meet designed control system specifications.  My next job as a controls system engineer involved a lot of travel and they sent me to South America, Europe and different parts of the US to program their machinery, which included tobacco drying ovens and thermal oxidizers.  I am certain that this post became too long and that I have lost every one of my readers talking about my career, but I am retired now and I have never held a job for more than three years.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #152 which asks, “What do you do for a living?  If you are retired, what did you do before you retired?  If you’re currently unemployed, what did you do before becoming unemployed?

That Depends

I spent $645 on gifts this year for others, but I also bought myself two gifts which put me way over the average gift spending amount.  I ordered Dave’s Picks Vol. 41 – 44 for myself, but I won’t get the first set of disks, till sometime in January and the rest will be shipped out according to a schedule during 2022.  Vol. 41 is a 1977 show at the Baltimore Civic Center, Vol. 42 is a 1974 concert at Winterland in San Francisco, and I am uncertain what the other two shows are.  That was a bit of an indulgence on my part, and I have enough CD’s, but I am certain that I will enjoy this grateful Dead music when it arrives.

For those of you who actually read my posts and are aware that my ankle got infected, I thought that something might have bitten me, so I decided it was time for a new bed.  The bed I have is 33 years old and it was time for me to get a new one.  I ordered the Puffy Mattress and a bed frame with a headboard, and it should be arriving tomorrow.  I am excited that I will soon be sleeping on a cloud.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #149 which asks, “For this year, do you think you will end up spending more or less than the average amount of $1,004 on holiday gifts?”

Something Meaningful

My blog might seem insignificant to many people, but without it, I wouldn’t have anything meaningful going on in my life.  I am hoping that this is a passing phase and that my life will change for the better, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.  It is possible that I could hit it big in the lottery, but that is also very unlikely, so my blog helps to get me through the day.  It is a good thing, as it keeps me out of trouble, it keeps my mind active and I have several virtual friends that I communicate with.  I guess it could be described as being an inexpensive hobby that I take part in every day.  I am a paid member of WordPress and I rarely skip a day of writing, thanks to all of the wonderful challenges that other bloggers host.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #147 which asks, “What’s the best thing you’ve got going on in your life at the moment?”

I Stopped Eating Fish

I am protesting the fishing industry after watching a documentary which showed how they are destroying the world’s oceans.  The oceans are the origin and engine of all life on this planet, and at the moment, they are in extreme peril.  Industrialized fishing practices are a primary threat to marine life worldwide.  1/3 of world’s wild-caught fisheries are depleted because of overfishing.  Over 90% of the world’s marine stocks are fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted.  Hundreds of thousands of tons of plastic waste and other marine debris from discarded and lost fishing gear enter the oceans each year.  As much as 40% of the world’s catch is bycatch of unwanted non-target species.  An estimated 650,000 whales, dolphins, and seals are killed annually in fishing nets, not including the numerous sea turtles, birds, sharks, and other marine life also killed by unselective fishing practices.

I can see advantages to both scenarios of either being the big fish in a small pond or being a small fish in a big pond, but they both depend on the pond.  I consider myself to be a small fish in the WordPress blogging pond, which is a relatively big pond, but it is broken up into small communities.  I don’t interact with many bloggers who are not in my community and by community, I mean those who respond to the same prompt challenges.  I am certain that there is a lot of stuff going on around WordPress that I don’t know about and I probably would not care much about, so it is as if the like-minded people have drifted into these communities.  One of Fandango’s favorite sayings is, “Whatever floats your boat” and I see that as being applicable here, as a fish whether it is big or small, the only thing that really matters is their happiness.

If the water in the pond is conducive for the fish to thrive, then it should be happy.  The advantage to being the small fish is that they may be more agile and able to adapt if their environment changes, but they always have to be on the lookout for that hungry large fish.  The large fish can be viewed as being like the king of the castle, but it is likely that all of his subjects despise him and when he dies, they will hold a big party.  The large fish will not need to worry about being eaten, but it also needs more food than the small fish, so it must try not to eat everything that it sees, or else it will be the only fish in the pond with nothing to sustain it.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #146 which asks, “In your opinion, is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? Or perhaps a big fish in a big pond? Why do you feel that way?”

We May Never Recover

Fandango is concerned with the fall of the American democracy, because of all of the gun violence, political extremism, and racial, cultural, and social unrest out there today and he is asking us to weigh in on this.  I don’t know how we got to this point, but it is really bad now and we went from being the United Stated of America to being the Divided States of America.  Everywhere you look, it is staring you in the face and it feels like a powder keg ready to explode and we are all knocking on Heaven’s door.  I can’t even talk with my family anymore, as they are all Republicans and they see things very differently from me.  I don’t even know where to begin, but we are deeply entrenched in political polarization between the Left and Right with no middle ground between the two parties.  I like to blame Trump for all of the problems that the US is facing now and it was probably the Hillary Hating that he started which caused this country to fall apart.  The gulf between Democrats and Republicans keeps getting wider and as people lose trust in the government, they are more inclined to their loyal support to the party that they think will dig us out of this mess.

America has survived a Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, which both fractured us, but things that were once set in stone, seem to be slipping away from us now.  Issues concerning voting rights, abortion and gun control keep us separated along with racism and I don’t see any of these problems being resolved in the near future.  It is easy to say, “Why can’t we just all get along”, but when people take extreme views that involve hatred, we keep sliding further apart.  There are enough reasons for this country to stick together as there are for us too be divided and we need to focus on those issues like China trying to take over the world, Russia interfering in our elections, Iran trying to secure nuclear weapons and what ever that idiot in North Korea is up to.  Only the future will tell if we are heading towards hell in a handbasket now, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be a very rosy picture for us at the moment.  One thing for sure is that Trump is not America’s shining light, as he is only concerned with his own interests.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #145 which asks, “If you’re American, do you concur with my assessment that our country is rapidly going to hell in a handbasket?  Or do you believe that everything is hunky-dory and America’s light is shining as brightly as ever?  If you’re not an American, based upon what you’ve read, seen, and heard, do you feel that America has, indeed, faltered?  Or do you think that America will weather this storm?”

Perplexed

I don’t understand the whole tattoo phenomena, I don’t have any and I don’t want any.  I think it exploded into popularity after Pamela Anderson got her barbed wire tattoo when she starred in the 1996 film Barb Wire.  In 2014, she finally came to her senses and had the barbed wire tattoo that wraps around her left bicep removed.  One day when I was visiting my nephew, his friend stopped by to show him a new tattoo that he just got.  This guy was loaded with tattoos and I asked him how many he had and why he had them.  He took his shirt off and his body was covered with colorful ink and he pointed to each of his tattoos.  He told me that this one was worth $600 and that one was worth $400 and altogether they were worth over $3,700.  I corrected him and said, “You mean that you paid over $3,700 to get these tattoos, but since you can’t sell them to anybody, they aren’t worth shit.”

I know that gang tattoos, prison tattoos, Russian mob tattoos and Yakuza tattoos have meanings, representing various achievements that they have accomplished, but I don’t find any of these to be attractive.  I am sure that people have their reasons for getting them, but it all seems so senseless, painful and expensive to me.  They must have meanings, but I could probably find the same reasons in clouds that are floating by and not have to be permanently scarred for seeking reason.  I am going to leave you with the Rolling Stones song ‘No Use In Crying’ from their 1981 album Tattoo You.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #144 which asks, “Do you have any tattoos? What is the meaning or significance of them? If you do have tattoos, do you have any regrets about any of them?”

Loss of Spontaneity

Getting old sucks because you can’t do what you use to do, or go where you use to go when you were younger.  I have so many more prescriptions that I take now than I did before, so I can’t just go out and do things without proper planning.  The pills are not a big deal, but packing up my medications that need to be refrigerated is a hassle.  I have a portable cooling device for my diabetic injection pens, which I can take with me when I travel.  I got the Frio Insulin Cooling Case which is a reusable, evaporative cooler that is activated by immersion in water.  It can supposedly keep my medications at a cool enough temperature for up to 45 hours for me to take them with me and I can reactivate the cooling case anywhere where water is available.  My sleep apnea requires me to take my machine along with me if I travel and I have a tiny portable unit that does not take up much space in my luggage.

20 years ago, before 9/11, the word extremist never bothered me, as that was basically a problem that resided in the Middle East, although we had our own Timothy McVeigh problems here, but 9/11 made me realize that there are a lot of dangerous people out there lurking in the shadows.  My priorities have changed over the years, but since I never had any children, I have never had to be responsible for anyone else but myself.  Now that I am divorced, I need to make some friends, because doing things by yourself takes away a lot of the fun.  I have had enough “me time” being confined during this pandemic that never seems to end, so I find myself wishing I had a special friend.  I try to put my alone time to good use by blogging and some of the people that I associate here with are very nice, but I need more that a virtual connection to be happy.  When I was younger, I never minded doing things by myself and it was easier to make friends before everyone started socially distancing and wearing masks.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #143 which asks, “How much have you and your priorities changed over the past twenty years?  If you’re on the younger side, answer from the perspective of the past ten years or even five years.”

Why Or Why Not

I got my first Pfizer Covid vaccine on February 16th and my second dose on March 10th, and I had no problems with either of them.  I got the Super Flu shot (Fluzone High Dose) which is given to patients that are 65 or older on September 8th and my arm swelled up for 3 days after, which my doctor seemed to think was a normal reaction.  On October 18th, I received my Pfizer booster vaccine and this shot put me out of action for at least 4 days.  I had body aches, a sore throat and all I wanted to do was sleep.  When your body tells you to rest, you are forced to do it.

The more people that decline to get vaccinated, the more likely this pandemic will continue, and this virus will be allowed to mutate.  Some of these unvaccinated people don’t see Covid-19 as being a threat, but since January 4th, 2020, 748,176 people have died from this in the US and worldwide 5,010,000 have passed away.  Some people are concerned about the vaccines’ side effects, but most people don’t experience any of them and usually after a few days you are back to normal and protected from a deadly virus.  Others don’t seem to trust the vaccines at all or the institutions behind them, and this may go back to the 400 African Americans Tuskegee Airmen that were experimented on who had syphilis, where researchers inhumanely provided no effective care so they could study how the disease advanced in these participants.  Other crackpots belief in at least one of several different conspiracy theories.

Vaccines remain by far the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, particularly faced with the extremely contagious Delta variant of the virus that can cause infections even among those fully vaccinated.  Despite vocal opposition from some, vaccine mandates have been effective at shrinking the rates of the unvaccinated and convincing the reluctant to roll up their sleeves.  The mandate has stirred protests and opposition to the mandate could potentially lead to thousands of U.S. workers losing their jobs.  Everything is crazy and the world is heading into the crapper.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #142 which asks, “If you have already received your initial COVID-19 vaccinations, are you intending to get a booster shot when it becomes available to you? Why or why not? If you have yet to be vaccinated for COVID-19, are you intending to ever get vaccinated? Why or why not?

What Ever Doesn’t Kill Me

Coming into contact with germs spurs an immune response, but it doesn’t do anything to make your immune system stronger.  There is evidence that says exposure to allergenic foods at a young age can help prevent the development of food allergies later on.  Scientists expect that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms, parasites, drugs, and other allergens increases a person’s susceptibility to allergic diseases by suppressing the natural development of the immune system.  People that lift weights go by the saying, “no pain, no gain”, because in order to build up their muscles, they must break them down first.  It is by continuously breaking down your muscles and challenging them is how you will see growth.

Just as we build up our muscles, humans must endure some pain, as this allows our emotions to become stronger, as we endure that pain.  Suffering makes us more resilient, better able to tolerate hardships by giving us a deep respect for reality.  If you have everything handed to you on a silver platter, then you never have to work for anything and you lose your sense of value.  Thus in order to appreciate everything that life has to offer us, we have to experience some pain in our lives.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #141 which asks, “Do you agree that human suffering can be beneficial and that suffering is a necessary part of the human condition?  Why or why not?”