Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Republican Healthcare in America

The public option got shot down in committee yesterday. It may (or may not) get resurrected down the pike. If it does, you can be sure it'll be in some watered-down "blow-job to the insurance companies" form.

I can't take credit for this, but it's all over the internets in various forms today:

It's the Republican Healthcare Plan.

1. Don't get sick.

and, if you do get sick,

2. Die quickly.

That's the gist of it.

And here's my valentine to the Republican Party today:

Monday, September 28, 2009

MEME - September 28, 2009

I'm too lazy to come up with anything on this Yom Kippur (the office is as a dead as a dodo), so I'm stealing this meme from my friend Bev

1. What bill do you hate paying the most?
Gas. We use entirely too much gas.

2. Do you miss being a child?
Nope. Not a single, solitary part of it. Although I do act out childishly at times – and entertainment-wise I’m stuck in the 6th Grade (still love horror movies and amusement parks).

3. Chore you hate the most?
Cleaning the bathroom.

4. Where was the last place you had a romantic dinner?
What’s romance?

5. If you could go back and change one thing what would it be?
I would prevent my mother from meeting my father.

6. Name of your first grade teacher?
Some unfortunate, less than 30 year old, nun. She had a roomful of screaming 6 year olds to contend with. I think she wound up having a nervous breakdown. I don’t blame her.

7. What do you really want to be doing right now?
Exactly what I’m doing.

8. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I never had a plan. I grew up in an alcoholic family. We weren’t big on planning, so I never learned how.

9. How many colleges did you attend?

10. Why did you choose the shirt that you have on right now?
It was the next one in the rotation.

11. What are your thoughts on gas prices?
I sense that they’ve dropped a couple of cents a gallon recently. That’s a good thing.

12. First thought when the alarm went off this morning?
Here we go again.

13. Last thought before going to sleep last night?
I never remember the last thought. I drop off pretty quickly.

14. What famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Bill Wilson.

15. Have you ever crashed your vehicle?
No, but I have been crashed into.

16. If you didn't have to work, would you volunteer?
Yes. I would become a professional recovering alcoholic and spend all of my time attending committee meetings and answering phones at call centers. I would become a Spiritual Star. This is why God never lets me win the lottery. I still have a lot of growing to do, and a lot of humility to obtain, before I’m ready for a life of leisurely recovery.

17. Get up early or sleep in?
The alarm goes off at 4:35 a.m. every weekday. On weekends my internal alarm let’s me sleep in until at least 5:30.

18. What is your favorite cartoon character?
Bullwinkle J. Moose.

19. Favorite thing to do at night with a guy/girl?
Heh. You’re kidding, right?

20. When did you first start feeling old?
At 25. I sobbed through the entire year. I was crushed at being an entire quarter of a century old.

21. Favorite lunch meat?
Smoked turkey.

22. What do you get every time you go into WalMart?
What’s a WalMart? Is that like Sam’s Club? I always buy crap at Sam’s Club, which is why I limit my visits to Sam’s Club.

23. Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?
“Marriage” is a religious ritual, specifically designed to gussy-up the ancient businesslike matter at hand – the co-joining of wealth and property among, generally warring, factions. Personally, I’d like to see us adopt the European model, left to us by Napoleon; i.e. a lovely, but superfluous, religious ceremony followed by a trip to City Hall for the actual signing of the contracts.

24. Favorite movie you wouldn't want anyone to find out about?
I don’t have any secret vices, movie-wise. Certain movies I will always stop to watch while channel-surfing include: “2001 A Space Odyssey” and “Gosford Park”

25. What's your favorite drink?
Crystal Lite – Raspberry Ice. I luv that stuff.

26. Who from high school would you like to run in to?
Nobody. High school sucked and I’m glad it’s over.

27. What radio station is your car radio tuned to right now?
101.5 in central NJ.

28. Sopranos or Desperate Housewives?
Neither. “Mad Men”, “House”, “Fringe”, “American Dad” & “Lost.”

29. Worst relationship mistake that you wish you could take back?
Telling Rick Zimmerman that I didn’t love him. I did. That was my disease talking. That was 36 years ago and there isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t think about that.

30. Do you like the person that sits directly across from/next to you at work?
Kathy? Yes. She’s a pisser.

31. Have you ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purposes?
Only during training exercises in the Navy. The Navy was very big on firefighting skills – for everyone (including admirals).

32. Last book you finished reading?

33. Do you have a teddy bear?
Yes. Two. Both given to me while I was recuperating from my open-heart surgery in 2004. One’s brown, the other white. I love them both.

34. One thing you couldn't live without?
The internets.

35. Do you go to church?
Not since I gave up being a Catholic – well, not intentionally. I still get shanghaied once in awhile to weddings and funerals.

36. How old are you?

37. Can you take apart a motor, put it back together, and have no extra parts?
Ask me the same question regarding a PC.

38. Are you for or against the death penalty?
Against. If we, as a society, use it then we are, as a society, no better than the criminal we are using it against. Period.

39. If there is a God and you could ask him/her one question what would it be?
What the fuck were you thinking?

40. Do you think it’s possible that there is life on other planets?
I’m still awaiting proof that there’s intelligent life here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Gayest Show on Television - GLEE

In case you haven't seen it yet, do tune in. It's on Fox, no less. Rupert Murdoch doesn't really care where the money comes from, the extreme right in his news businesses, the moderate left (us) in the entertainment field. Just as long as, well, to quote from "Evita", "the money keeps rolling in, from all directions."

If they'd had sports like this when I was in high school, I might've gone out for some teams.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I had a meltdown last Friday which lasted all weekend.

I was a complete douchenozzle for some of the time (I was pretty well-behaved on Saturday night).

It started on Friday when I got home from my job in NY and found two packages I could've done without. One was a letter, with affidavit, from the NYC Transit Authority, wanting me to tell them the entire story of the transit fare card incident at 53rd & Lex on August 24th. The other was a packet from my surgeon wanting all kinds of tests and clearances, from my internist and from my cardiologist, prior to my upcoming robotic prostectomy on October 14th.

In and of themselves, they were nothing. I was out about $58.00 with the MTA and the other stuff would kill a couple of vacation days during the next few weeks.

It could be much worse. These are high-quality problems for somebody who, 11 years ago, didn't have a job and was virtually homeless.

Somewhere along the way, my gratitude, which ordinarily colors most of my thinking, flew right out the window.

What saved me was having a schedule and sticking to it, of meetings and forced association with other recovering drunks like me.

I arose Saturday morning, grunting with resentment, and dragged myself to my local 12-Step, 7:00 a.m. meeting. Then, I dragged myself to a 10:00 a.m. meeting in Princeton. Then I took myself to see the new Matt Damon movie (GREAT!) and capped it by driving 80 miles (round-trip) to a gay 12-Step meeting in Pennsylvania with a couple of beginners in tow. That was good. It kept me focused on them, and not on myself.

Sunday, I was a grump again. A fax machine in Atlantic City kept attack-dialing my home phone number, starting at 6:30 a.m.. I did a reverse look-up on the internet of the number and got an e-mail address and phone number for the company. I sent an e-mail and left a voicemail, basically threatening them with physical violence if they didn't subdue their lousy fax machine. Eventually it gave up.

I went to my usual Sunday 12-step meeting, sat in the back and growled at everyone, including my sponsor.

I fled the meeting, went to the supermarket, went home and spent the afternoon isolating, napping and generally feeling sorry for myself.

This morning, I attended my home group meeting at 7:30, got to the office, took all the steps to "do the next, right, thing" and suddenly life is worth living again.

I owe this mostly to a) God, b) the program and c) people who care about me.

We have a saying in 12-Step programs which is very annoying:

"This too shall pass."

It did.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What's Really Eating Them?


Change you can believe in.

Change for change's sake.

Change or die.

Anything that isn't the way things were ... oh, like, never.

That's what has them in such a lather. That's what's pissing off the Right, the Birthers, the Teabaggers, all of that lunatic fringe on the other side of the aisle.

If it's change, it's bad. If it's change proposed by someone who doesn't look exactly like them, and is therefore inherently untrustworthy because people who look and sound like them ARE totally trustworthy -- like George Bush -- it's really bad.

No more Government Giveaways. No Socialized Medicine (and keep yer cotton-pickin' hands off of my Medicare and Medicaid and Sociable Security). No abortion on demand between classes in high school! No more third-graders being forced to attend gay weddings in San Francisco!

Have these people no idea just how idiotic they sound? Do they not care that they're fear-driven, knee-jerk, assholes?

Is that how I appear to them?


For decades my party was the party that was "lost in the wilderness" and every time my party, or I, tried to make a point, I/we was/were told to quit being such a cry-baby(ies) and spoiler(s) and left-wing, knee-jerk liberal(s). And I, and my party, were good little boys and girls and we did what we were told.

And we most certainly did NOT yell out at Bush, when he actually was lying from the podium in the well of the House, which happened a lot, that he was a liar. Unlike that attention-seeking, obviously middle-child, grandstanding, wimpy Klansman from South Carolina.

But the Republicans ARE the party now lost in the wilderness. And the best, the very best they can do at this point, is to rally their lunatic fringe while the majority of the country wrings it's hands in fear.

But Maureen Dowd said it best the other day, in her column in the NYTimes, after the Wilson outburst in Congress. What's really eating them... and what was really implied in Joe Wilson's outburst, was this:

"YOU LIE ..... BOY!"

Racism. That's what's really at work here. The rapidly shrinking WASP population, comparatively speaking, sees "its" nation slipping out of its control and feels helpless and fearful.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Have Made My Decision

The search for an oncological/urogenitary surgeon is over.

But first, the background. After my dreadful experience at New York/Presbyterian on the Friday before Labor Day, I snooped around on the interwebs over the long weekend and found a surgeon at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital. His name is David Samadi. Here is his picture:

I called his office on Tuesday morning to ask for an appointment, fully expecting to be told a) he's not taking new patients or b) we can squeeze you in next year. Instead I got an appointment for last Friday at 11:00 a.m.


The next morning (Wednesday) I went to my usual 12-Step meeting at 7:30 a.m. in CitiGroup Center here in NY. The speaker was someone who had recently joined our group and she had a fascinating story to tell which ended with her changing careers and winding up working for a doctor at Mount Sinai. I think you know the rest of the story.

Here's Dr. Samadi's wiki:

My Higher Power was working overtime that day, believe me. My new friend emailed me the forms I'd need for the Friday visit. I showed up 15 minutes early on Friday, filled out one additional form, was introduced to Dr. Samadi and was escorted directly into his office. He looked at my test results and pronounced me a good candidate for the surgery. I asked him if he believed in God. Then I said that I did, and that it was my belief that things happen for reasons.

I absolutely believed, at that point, that it was intended for me to have my surgery done by this man.

We stepped across the hall and he did to me what I've only let several thousand other men do to me. Then he sent in his nurse to talk to me about pre and post-op stuff.

Scheduling set me up with a date of October 14th at noon. I should be discharged the following afternoon. I have friends who actually want me to come and recuperate with them, here in New York. I'll have a catheter in me for a couple of days. They'll remove it in the office early the following week. I can then go home. Family members have already said that they'd drive into the city to get me and bring me home. I'll be out of work for anywhere from a month to six weeks.

I have to do Kegel exercises until the surgery. This is to tone up my sphincter(s). I didn't have the heart to tell them that, as a gay man, I'm intimately familiar with contracting and relaxing my sphincters. TMI, I suppose.

Oh, and Dr. Samadi will be using the da Vinci robot.

When I got back to the office on Friday I called Memorial Sloan-Kettering and cancelled my appointment, scheduled for this coming Wednesday. I didn't need to look any further. Not only had I found the gold-standard surgeon and hospital for what I needed to have done, but I'd also found a doctor whom I could trust.

And at the end of the day, that's what really matters.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2001

My recollections of the day began as we held hands to close our usual Tuesday morning 12-Step meeting at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church, at the corner of 55th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York. That meeting always ends promptly at 8:45 a.m.

At 8:46 a.m., the first plane hit the north tower. (click on the picture to greatly embiggen it.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Joe Wilson - Republican Douchebag from South Carolina

South Carolina is a lovely state, with many lovely citizens, no doubt. This guy, above, is not one of them.

Unfortunately, he represents the 2nd Congressional District and his name is Joe Wilson. He's a total douchebag. He heckled President Obama last night, during a prime-time speech, televised, to a joint-session of Congress, from the well of the House.

Not since the 1850's, when it was common for our national legislators to routinely horsewhip and cane each other mercilessly, over the issue of slavery, on the floors of their respective houses, have we seen such a spectacle as we saw last night, during the President's speech on healthcare reform.

Regardless of where you stand on the matter, during a President's speech, especially if you are actually THERE, the very least you can do is to keep your fuckin' mouth shut.

After all, the Democrats kept their fucking mouths shut all during the Bush years when the (then) President spouted all kinds of crazy-assed, wingnut, bullshit to joint sessions of Congress.

At any rate, I was delighted to find out that it was possible to actually DO something about Representative Wilson. And that something is to donate money to his opponent. So I did.

You can, too. By clicking here.

You could also try visiting Representative Wilson's congressional website to register your displeasure with his outburst... except that the nerds on Capitol Hill had to shut it down because so many millions of people were trying to do exactly the same thing today.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Oh, Ya Got To Have Friends!

She's the one who started it all. The Divine Ms. M, Bette Midler, in the fall of 1972. Her debut album. And the cut that still resonates in my head to this day is the first cut of the "B" side, "Friends."

And I do. Have friends. After my hideous experience at NY/Presbyterian hospital last Friday a friend of mine, who just happens to work there, took me out to keep me company until I crawled back in from the figurative ledge. This same friend had already told me that I would come and stay with him and his wife after my surgery until I was well enough to travel home from New York to central New Jersey.

And it didn't matter which New York hospital I used. I would still be welcome.

Then on Sunday, out of the blue, a friend of mine from Baltimore called and announced that he and his partner would "love to have me come and recuperate with them" if I chose to have the surgery done at Johns-Hopkins. How many people have friends who would invite them to come and be an invalid with them, for however long it took to get well?

I have friends like that.

I don't remember ever doing anything to earn friends like that, but I seem to have 'em.

Oh, and here's the kicker on all this. Yesterday morning I called a surgeon's office at Mount Sinai and made an appointment to see him this coming Friday morning. He's performed over 1,000 prostectomies using the "da Vinci" robot. This morning, at my daily 12-Step meeting, our "guest speaker" was someone who worked in medical administration --- for a doctor who specializes in cancers.

Take a guess.

Yup. We spoke after the meeting. She works for the guy I'm seeing on Friday. The paperwork (and insurance) is all being taken care of.

I am being taken care of.

I've got friends.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

2 Down, 2 to Go

This is a prostate cancer update.

I had my appointment with the surgeon at Weill-Cornell/New York - Presbyterian Hospital last Friday at 3:00 p.m.

I showed up on time, signed a paper, got my blood-pressure checked and was seated in a waiting room. In about 10 minutes I was taken to an examination room.

I sat in there, unattended, with no one dropping in to check on me, for 70, that's right, SEVENTY minutes, before I got sick and tired of waiting and walked out to see what was going on.

"Oh" some flunky exclaimed. "Didn't anyone come in?"


I went back. It was another 10 minutes or so before I was finally escorted into Dr. God's inner-sanctum by one of his flunkies in a lab coat. She began the interview, only to quickly be joined by Dr. God, Himself.

I maintained a civil tongue but made my displeasure at being treated so badly abundantly clear.

I ran through my list of questions, which he promptly answered. I terminated the interview with, "I'll let you know."

I thought about it over the weekend and concluded that the actions of the staff were indicative of the mind-set of the teacher. That they treat people badly because he tolerates them treating people badly.

I would, under no circumstances, consider urological surgery at Weill-Cornell/New York - Presbyterian Hospital. In case anyone cares.

Next stop, Mount Sinai this coming Friday morning, followed by Memorial Sloan-Kettering a week from Wednesday.

I'm tired of doctors. I'm tired of surgeries. I'm tired.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Republicans Are Sexual Hypocrites (yawn).

First, from the Afghani war zone, we have this:

these are employees of the Wackenhut Corporation, which provides private security for all occasions (baptisms, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, occupying forces, etc.) This is an actual photo (amongst many) taken of Wackenhut employees enjoying a little "down-time" in Kabul, Afghanistan. They are there, ostensibly, to guard American interests, specifically to provide security for the American Embassy in Kabul. Technically they are contractors of the US State Department. Be sure to drop Hillary a line today and let her know what you think of the fine job her contractors are doing in projecting a moral, straight-arrow image of America to our defeated enemies foreign allies.

The entire collection of photos shows, clearly, the inately homoerotic nature of most male hazing activities. Not only tolerated, but encouraged, as a way of "bonding" men in combat. Meanwhile, of course, really bonded guys (and gals) are being tossed out of the services left and right because they are gay.

Go figure. And when you have, please let me know, because I'm just fucking dying to know how the Government rationalizes this bullshit. Thank you.

And speaking of bullshit...

On to South Carolina. Man, are we missing out, or what? This sleepy little Southern backwater has, it turns out, been a seething cesspool of roiling, boiling carnality -- and we never knew it! If I'd only known what I know now, I would've moved there years ago! (and you should've too!)

First, there's Governor Mark Sanford. You know, the one with the Argentinian girlfriend in Buenos Aires (not to mention a wife and 4 boys back home).

Then, two days ago, Mike Rogers at outed the Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer (40 year old "bachelor", and check out THIS gayface):

And to top it all off, the head of the Board of Education, Kristin Maguire, an ultra-conservative, evangelical Christian Republican, appointed by Mark Sanford to head the SC Board of Ed, yet who steadfastly refused to send her four daughters to public school and home-schooled them, instead.... got caught writing salacious porn on the internet. She has resigned "for family reasons."

Here's the hypocrite:

(Oh, wait, that's right. There's not even a wiki on this unqualified beeyatch, let alone any photos.)

Where's the outrage? Remember Howard Beale in "Network"? Isn't it time for us to don our grungy old trenchcoats and to stand up in front of the cameras and yell, "I'M MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!!"?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Medical History

In 2004, as I sat on a gurney in a paper dress at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the handsomest surgeon in the state of New Jersey explained to me that I was a "ticking time bomb" and, in rather short order (two weeks), he performed what's known in the business as a "CABG" (pronounced "cabbage"), which is to say I had quadruple coronary-artery bypass grafts. I have lovely scars all over my upper torso and left arm to prove it, including the infamous "zipper" running down my chest, over my rib-cage.

In 2005 I was (again) told that I was a "ticking time bomb" and I had what's known in the business as "bi-lateral endarterectomies", which is to say they sliced open the sides of my neck, pulled out portions of the arteries feeding the brain, sliced them open and squeezed out the congealed cholesterol in both of them. I have lovely, matching 2" long scars on either side of my neck as souvenirs of that one.

In early 2006 I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. Type II Diabetes, it turns out, is not a disease, it is a big-business. There is a cure for Type II Diabetes which Big Pharma does not want you to take. It's called "Gastric Bypass Surgery" and I had it in early August of 2008. I lost 65 pounds and the diabetes (and the co-pays for Glucophage and Test Strips and a lot of other hooey and hokum which is totally unnecessary and is probably killing more people than it helps). That particular surgery, laporascopically done, left a bunch of little scars all over my belly.

Then, a week or two or three ago, I was told I have prostate cancer.

God only knows what sort of scars I'll come out of this with . But I do know this:

Despite the "big-business" aspect of all my hospitalizations and assorted medical effluvia, I thank God that I had pretty good insurance which covered pretty much everything.

Today, I am the Six Million Dollar Man (for those of you old enough to remember the non-Stone Cold Steve Austin) -- in more ways than one.