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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Bike Smut / Return to Mass

After my AV fistula surgery right around a year ago, I had so many neuropathy issues with my left arm it just wasn't any fun to ride the bike. By the time the issues resolved, I was out of the habit of getting up early enough to ride to work. It was so easy to stay in bed another hour and drive.

I was going to ride to work this time for Critical Mass. But I didn't get up early enough to pull that off, so I put my bike on my car, drove to work, and then parked my car near the Bike Smut Film Festival and pedaled my way to Scumfresh for the ride.

This was my second Bike Smut. I went to the only other one I think Kansas City has ever had a few years back.

Bikes and smut, two of my favorite things. How could I miss it?

The last Bike Smut seemed to have more material that made me squirm a bit. I don't mean that as a criticism, I think I'm pretty broad minded when it comes to sex. We all have our kinks and fetishes, I don't think we pick them, they just happen. But the last Bike Smut had more moments where I cringed.

Not having biked much the past year, I was pretty gassed trying to keep up with the herd on Critical Mass. Which is pretty drag-ass slow.


But then I caught up with the festival after riding myself embarrassingly ragged in only 11-ish miles. And it was all good. Gabe's girlfriend Steph even hoisted her Lucy-meets-Charlie-Brown skirt to show off her Bike Smut panties.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Survival (in Quotes)

They had some motorcycles on raffle at the theater when I took Mo to the latest Jurassic movie (I think this is the sixth installment, it's basically the same movie as the original Jurassic Park, but I can't say it's not a move worth making six times over).

Anyway, these were motocross bikes, the ones you ride if you want to fly 50 feet into the air as if you were invincible. Two cycle motors with tons of torque, suspensions meant to take gravitational forces that an astronaut would blanche at.

But this one was a supposed 'survival' model. It had water gerry cans and a rack to mount panniers onto, and probably strap a few more supplies on top of.

This way, you can pack up a bunch of camping gear, ride off into the wilderness on a bike capable of going places you couldn't ride a goddamn horse. That way you're hundreds of miles from medical assistance or even a cell signal to beckon assistance when you get your life-threatening motocross type injury. Brilliant.

I admit, part of me wants one.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mighty Ducks

Habits, man. I was in the habit of riding my bike to and from work, at least part of the way (I'd do the bike on bus thing pretty regularly to save time, avoid unpleasant weather, or to be lazy). Then I had that fistula surgery at the end of April and my left arm has been a mess of neuropathies ever since. I'm going to try the bike out this afternoon, it may be like the guitar, something that doesn't feel right or good for my left arm but that's doable.

But I have gotten back into the habit of playing guitar every day. Doing both the bike commute and regular, focused guitar practice is tricky, they're both pretty big time vampires. But they're both things I love to do and that I feel better when I stay in the habit.

See also blogging. Obviously, it's been like a month since I posted anything here. Including about my friend Elizabeth's suicide. That'll have to be a whole other post, a lot to process there. A total tragedy.

Anyway, none of that is what I came here to talk about right now. I came to talk about the ducks. Who are getting pretty near maturity. We started with five (well, six, but one died before the brood box was all the way set up).

The five Suedes were then joined by a pair of Pekins someone gave to us.

Then Sheba got one of the Suedes and Corinna butchered that and roasted it. The up side is it got us legal, since the city has a six bird limit. The realities of keeping them in clean water and keeping the coop merely gross also dictate a limit of six. Possibly four.

But after learning that Sheba can't really be trained to not chase ducks (she's part greyhound, and the coursing hound in her just can't help it), Corinna moved a bit of fencing so the dogs can be out at the same time the ducks are in the yard.

And the ducks love the yard. They chase each other, eat and sit on crops in garden beds, sit in the shade of the peach tree. If there's a puddle, they gobble earthworms, if the sprinkler is on they'll play in the spray and gulp water out of the air. They like the yard so much, in fact, they'll line up by the gate to their enclosure and holler until they're allowed through.

I sat out with them for quite a while, particularly trying to capture their play, the chasing, the flapping, the brief flights (they sometimes get off the ground, but not by much or for long).

Sunday, May 13, 2018


So I had fistula surgery a little over two weeks ago. To facilitate my ongoing apheresis therapy.

This is a pretty common thing for people who take dialysis, which apheresis resembles. They're filtering my blood for different reasons but it's still filtering the blood. In my case, it's high LP(a) which is strongly correlated with early onset heart disease, which I have. Heart attack at 32, a double bypass at 43, it's financially ruinous, physically unpleasant, and time consuming but while there's no guarantees, it's the best shot I can see to being a senior citizen some day.

So this fistula. The surgeon basically hooked an artery to a vein in my left arm. Gotta remember not to let them take my blood pressure on that side ever again. And there's a visible bulge where this rewiring of my circulatory system creates a big fat vein for the apheresis clinic to access both for input and output.

The up side is besides making it easier to access me and possibly even to run the treatment a little faster, I'll have one hand free to jack with Netflix and whatnot (what else are you going to do when immobile for a half day?) The downside is if you were to cull my phobias and squeamishness to come up with the perfect freak out, the only thing this surgery is missing is giant spiders.

I played guitar this evening for the first time since the surgery. I was officially cleared to do so a few days ago but I wasn't feeling up to it. I have all kinds of neuropathy symptoms from the surgery that call back my senior year of high school when I dealt with a lot of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome symptoms that were misdiagnosed at the time as tendinitis. I have chills, spasms, numbness, sweats, aches in my forearm and wrist. It wakes me up at night sometimes.

Physically I seemed able to play pretty well, but it felt so freaky and sometimes painful. But the worst, looking down at my upper arm above the elbow and seeing the fistula bulge. I almost fainted dead away in the middle of the living room with the guitar around my neck.

I'm sure I'll get used to it, but it's not instantaneous.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Lucky 13

I went to a casino. To gamble. For the first time in my life. But first....

I had fistula surgery last week to facilitate ongoing apheresis treatments. Basically after almost four years of fortnightly filtrations, my veins had developed sufficient scar tissue that it was getting impossible to get a treatment going. Jennifer was on vacation (she's got her spots and ways, she's been the main one to access me all this time), and the whole crew plus the IV nurse (who apparently floats the hospital just starting IVs and who appeared to have been at it for decades) tried for over two hours without success.

I've had better days. Anyway, so the fistula surgery. I tend to think of fistulas as something to repair, but in this case they went in on purpose and hacked one of the arteries in my left arm into one of the veins, which is supposed to create a big vein they can easily do both the take-out and put-in of my blood for the treatments. All the other patients who come on Tuesday mornings already have them, seemed surprised I'd been going so long with out one. I guess dialysis patients get them pretty commonly too, same reason except their treatments are even more frequent than mine.

So anyway, no bicycle. No guitar. Can't lift more than 10 lbs. My arm feels weird with chills and tingling and one night it swelled up pretty good and there's been spookly looking contusions and hopefuly it's healing the way it's supposed to but I went to a casino. It seemed like something to do on the way home from work.

I'm not a big gambler. I guy the occasional Powerball ticket even though I'm pretty sure winning that just ruins your life. A life ruined by windfall money doesn't sound that bad to me sometimes. I buy scratchers for my relatives at Christmas to remember my late step-brother who did the same, though I buy them without hope or expectation of winning anything. But my favorite memory of Todd was taking a smoke outside (we both smoked back then), and lecturing him about how stupid lottery tickets were and the odds of winning and so on and he just smoked in silence until I ran out of lecturing words and then asked, "So you want another one?"

I grew up with a play casino set in the board games closet, and I'd play roulette (it had a little plastic wheel with a BB sized ball), my Dad taught me and my brother stud and draw poker, but we were just playing for chips. And all of this play gambling came with heavy lectures about how the house always wins, it has to. Who do you think is paying the light bill on that casino? My first, and most important professional mentor in life, Rich Nadler, had a huge anti-gambling bias. He thought the lottery and casinos were in many ways worse than the illegal, mafia-run gambling they were meant to replace.

And while I'm not great with money, I'm relatively risk averse and I know the odds.

So I was watching the movie Casino the other night and it occurred to me, I've never once, in my life, place a bet at a casino. On my way home from work, I decided to stop in the Isle of Capri and take a look. I like Texas Hold'Em (though I've never been good at it; I've only ever played in charity tournaments and I'm usually the first one out of chips). According to their website they had some version of it.

Walking in, the first thing that struck me was the smell. You're allowed to smoke in there, at the slots, the table games, as far as I can tell everywhere. It smells like 1987 in the Isle of Capri. Actually down in the rows of slot machines where the smoking is really going on, it smells like my Mom's house when my aunt and late uncle used to come for a visit and all three of them would sit in the closed house smoking every waking moment of the day.

The vast rows of slow machines, there's a bar, the cashier. I can't believe how many slot machines, with lots of people many appear retired, just zombied out. I can get plenty addicted to games on my iPhone that I play for free, Pokemon Go, Candy Crush, Words with Friends, I don't see the appeal of the slot machines. Maybe if they had Galaga with money payouts for clearing levels I could get into that. But I headed over to the table games.

I watched their version of Texas Hold'Em for a while. I noticed there wasn't much folding going on. Unless I'm the blind or the small blind, I check my pocket cards and decide if it's even worth seeing the flop in Hold'Em. It often isn't, sure a pocket 2 of diamonds with a 4 of spades could, theoretically, become the connectors of a straight or the completion of a full house, but don't bet on it. Literally.

This 'ultimate' version of the game, you're playing against the house. You ante every hand, and the only real decision is whether to bet against the dealer. It ends up resembling Black Jack more than poker to my mind. Same thing with their Six Card Poker. Black Jack didn't hold much appeal for me either.

I watched the craps table for a long time. I don't fully comprehend the game, it's so complicated it takes three casino employees to run it. It's quite popular, there was constantly a full crowd playing the whole time I was there, but I just couldn't place a wager on a game where I can't understand why money is coming and going from different spots on the table.

Roulette was fun to watch. I understand roulette more or less. Well, I later learned I didn't entirely.

I watched a woman buy in, get a little stack of chips, and proceed to hit straight up on a number. 35:1 payoff, she suddenly had several stacks of chips twice as tall as her one, original buy in. I was thinking, "take the money and run." But she stayed and played through those chips until she was down to nothing. And I judged her for it, oh boy, did I.

So I never did get around to placing a bet on that visit. I watched, the people watching aspect was pretty entertaining. I saw other people get up significantly and stay playing until they were back down again, not just at the roulette wheel, at all the games. I had a beer and watched and eventually decided the smoke was getting to me and went home.

The next night I decided to go back and actually play. That whole know when to stop before you start thing they throw in to the gambling ads? I decided going in that $40 was all I'd put at risk. I put two twenties in my front shirt pocket and was like, that's it for the gambling part. I got a drink from the bar and watched for a while more before I finally sat down at the roulette table. I didn't want to buy in with the whole $40 a once, I figured I'd blow through the chips faster if I went that way. So I gave the guy $20 and got a cute little stack of blue chips.

It's a $5 minimum, $50 maximum bet, and I knew from watching that people spread their bets around. I started to do so, and the dealer was like, you can't do that! I didn't understand, but when I explained that this was my first go at this, scooped the chips back to me and explained the whole inside/outside thing. Outside bets like black or red, even/odd, etc., don't pay as well as inside bets (where you're placing on a specific number or straddling numbers). The minimum applies to a single spot on the outside, so you can bet $5 on black, for instance, but you can't spread the $5 to multiple outside bets. On the inside, as long as you put a total of $5 in play, you can split it up between single numbers or groups of up to six numbers, with correspondingly lower payouts as you get less and less specific in your bet.

So anyway, 13 is as close as I get to thinking a number is lucky. Both my daughters were born on the 13th. So was my wife. In hindsight, we got married on a 12th but should have done it the next day, on the 13th. So I put $5 on 13 and $5 on black. A guy came to the table and bought in with $100 and proceeded to spread about half of it over so many spots on the table that I told him he'd missed a spot. One of those spots was 00 and he ended up with more chips than he'd started with. And proceeded to litter the board with chips again. I tried 13 by itself, nothing. The money is going fast, mind you. I did 13 one more time and bought in with my other twenty.

The next spin I played 13 and odd again, and the guy who'd bought in for $100 and already hit an improbably high payout scattered bets all over the board again.

And it hit on 13.

A little voice in my head said, 'quit while you're ahead.' Pretty sure this situation is exactly where that expression comes from in fact. I decided to play one more spin, put $5 on 13 again. "Gonna see if lightning strikes the same place twice," I said. The little voice in my head said '33.' I almost put $5 on the 33 spot but chickened out.

And it hit on 33. And that's when I decided to listen to the voice in my head. As my brother pointed out later, the longer I stayed and played the more my results where going to revert to the average, and the place can only stay open if the average is in favor of the house. The $100 buy in guy left the table with considerably less than he'd bought in with to move to another game and I decided to cash out. I gave the dealer a $5 tip, not sure what the standard is on that, I had one more drink while I watched people gamble as I held the $190 worth of chips (which the dealer had exchanged from the cumbersome $1 chips to a $100, three $25s, etc.

I left with $190. I'd spent a little over $10 at the bar, tipped the dealer $5 and bought in with $40, so up what, $135 or so? Watching other people win and give the winnings back over and over, I just don't think that's for me. I got lucky. I basically had eight cracks at the wheel and managed to hit a 35:1 plus a 1:1 payoff on one turn. If I'd listened to the voice in my head about that 33, sure I'd be up another $175 but I don't think life works that way.

So rather than take my winnings back to a riverboat casino and turn them into riverboat casino profits, I decided to take my wife to a nice sushi dinner and ice cream.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Our Own Little Duck Dynasty

So the ducklings started out in the house, stinking up the joint, growing almost visibly every day.

I feared Corinna had been premature when she moved them to the coop. But with the heat lamp out there, they were fine. They have a little porthole to get in and out that we block with a piece of marble at night. There's a bigger door that they use to go back in. Well, this evening we managed to team up and get them to go in the small opening for the night. I was mighty proud.

Well, I was proud because two or three nights ago, I went to try and put the ducks to bed when it was still light out. They weren't having it, no matter the door. If someone had been recording me with a phone, I'm sure it would have been a hilarious video because every time I thought I had them boxed in they squirted through to somewhere else where they'd cheep and wave their tongues at me. And look at me really hard in profile, which is a thing ducks do because their eyes are in the wrong place to look you in the face.

They're gaga over spinach though and we have a bumper crop. I've successfully used it as bait to get them to go places up to a point. They like other greens, they like the chick feed, which is mostly grain with some sand mixed in it. But they LOVE spinach, try to steal it from each other. It's like Cookie Monsters with bills on their faces.

Gonzo, our black cat who's such a good mouser has been an issue. We decided to lock him in Molly's bedroom for the week until the ducks can get bigger because we caught him stalking them. With clear intent. The other cats are mildly interest in the ducks, but Gonzo was clearly on the prowl. I don't thing a five to seven pound adult duck has to worry but these ducklings, I don't know.

He's gotten out a couple of times. My nephew came to check out the ducks over the weekend and he managed to let Gonzo out in his thorough search to find even more animals he's allergic to even if he adores them. Before his mother could even voice an objection he was hands and torso inside the duck coop looking for birds before going on a cat quest that involved all three of our kitties and then checking out the dogs before needing a Benadryl.

I got Gonzo back in his quarters before any ducks were murdered. Then, the next night, I came home and he was out again. I asked Corinna if this was parole or jailbreak, didn't know if she'd decided our Swedes were hardy enough to fend off a Gonzo. She said, "Jailbreak, look."

I should have taken a picture for right here but I didn't and it's dark out now. The cat clawed or chewed his way through the screen window in the bedroom to liberate himself. I don't feel too bad about confining him temporarily for the safety fo the flock but that's a deeply unhappy cat. He's got food, water, a litter box, lots of visitors, but he'll gnaw/claw through the screen to get out.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018


So we debated a long time, chickens, ducks, geese. Chickens are what everyone is keeping these days and that's fine. Ducks lay bigger eggs, you can keep a breeding flock easier in the city since drakes don't make the racket a rooster does.

Then there's Guinea fowl, we looked at that too but apparently they raise a ruckus, even the females. Geese, too, are apparently louder than bombs, a flight risk on top of that so they're out.

So ducks. We got six, but one died almost instantly. They're pretty frail at this point, strong language can do them in. They're in a brooder box in a closet under a heat lamp with food, water, spinach/lettuce from the garden. They fight over the greens, it's pretty stinkin' cute.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


Corinna has been a lot more the gardner than I the past few years. I kind of lost interest after 2014, and our gardening styles are so different collaborating is difficult. My rigid notions of how things should be done mixed with her eagerness to improvise and experiment, and her ideas about what is worth going to the trouble of and what isn't, it just makes for too much conflict.

I said something to the effect that you can't grow too much spinach. It freezes well, and it's my favorite green to eat raw as well, right?

So I guess Corinna decided to see if she could prove me wrong. She's been bringing in five gallon buckets of the stuff at least once a day and she's not even making a dent in what could be harvested from these beds.

I guess we should be careful before we end up with kidney stones or something.

Party Time

We had a great party. It was billed as Corinna's birthday party, but by coincidence the date ended up being St. Patrick's Day. I think that probably helped bring people out, it's a day they were already thinking in terms of going out and socializing and whatnot. I grilled steaks and fish, my in-laws were in town for the weekend (it was a steak heavy weekend, they took us to Fogo de Chao Friday evening), and my brother's family, my parents and some other old friends started showing up around 3:00.

It was a rambling affair, including the unveiling of the fig tree. Which amounted to going out and watching Corinna pull the bags of leaves she'd buried the tree with in the fall to protect it through the winter.

I didn't do a great job of documenting it with my camera. I'd remember the Nikon from time to time, but a lot of the shots I took were blurry because I didn't have the ISO high enough, and I kept getting involved in other stuff and forgetting about it.

I didn't even get a group shot with Gwen and Tim, and they don't come to town that often. I think Gwen's last visit was when I had my heart surgery in 2014 and I'm not sure Tim had been along since our wedding in 2012. So I should have gotten some pics taken, damnit.

Tim and I did get to spend some quality time Friday night. The trunk lid to Corinna's car wouldn't open, and Gwen & Tim's luggage was in the trunk. When we got back from the restaurant he started trying to mechanic his way into the trunk, and I ended up helping. Holding lights and fetching tools mostly. He'd had a similar issue with a different year of the same model car before so he knew what he was about. Or more so than I did.

We got the back seats flipped down and there's an opening to the trunk but it was smaller than Tim's hard shell suitcase. Finally he took the seats out completely and we were able to force it though. Then he crawled in and started trying to figure out a way to get the trunk lid to open. Sometime after midnight we finally had the lid open, and the next morning he rigged a way to make the trunk lid open and close (and stay closed). The car is old enough to legally drink, so not worth investing in a proper fix.

Anyway, we had quite a few guests still going at midnight with a five player game of Risk finishing up. Corinna and I play that with just the two of us a bit, but a third player really makes it a game. Five, and it's much more fun. Amber turned out to be way more competitive than I would have guessed. Dennis managed to hold Asia for a couple of turns by the end, which is no mean feat, but Amber had North and South America and pretty soon Africa once she crushed the last of my armies. She skates roller derby, too, so I guess it figures.

As much as I didn't get a lot of the pictures I wish I had, I did catch Aaron amazing some of the kids with his yoyo. Which was pretty cool, it'd be worth doing a shoot with a neutral backdrop and setting up the speedlights to get action frozen or selectively frozen better.

My meads seemed to be a hit as well. We did some damage to the dry traditional orange blossom I have on tap (sparkling, very champagne-like) and at least one bottle of my raspberry melomel and morat managed to find its way into our guests. I need to get another pail of honey and get to fermenting.