kaasirpent: (WriteWright)
2017-06-03 04:46 pm
Entry tags:

On Challenges . . .

There’s this challenge going around. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Bloggers do it every day in April. But this one is for short story writers, and instead of daily, it’s weekly.

For a year.

What is this challenge? It’s the A to Z Story Challenge. I’m not sure who came up with it, or why, or why that matters. The point is, some writer-friends of mine were talking about it, and it sounded like something I should do, so I asked to be included, and now I’m in the Facebook group for the challenge.

I figure, if nothing else, I’ll get a few blog posts out of it. :)

The idea is that, each week beginning June 1, you have 7 days to complete a story inspired by each successive letter of the alphabet. “A” is due on the 7th, “B” on the 14th, “C” on the 21st, “D” on the 28th, and so on. Since there are 26 letters of the alphabet and ~52 weeks in a year, the letters will recycle starting November 30, and “A” will be due again on December 6th, “B” on the 13th, etc. Finishing up with a second “Z” story being due on May 30th, 2018.

You may remember — because you hang on my every syllable — that in 2011, I did something very similar to this, self-imposed, and for NaNoWriMo, wrote (or began) 26 short stories, but with a new letter each day, and ended up with 122000+ words written in one month. It remains the most productive writing period of my life, and one of those stories got me into Viable Paradise XVI in 2012.

But none of those stories ever went anywhere. They’re still sitting, in various stages of completion, on my hard drive.

Mocking me.

And then here came this. I suddenly realized this could be a “kick in the pants” to finally start editing those stories with the goal of getting them finished to a submittable state. Given how long it’s been since I even looked at many of those stories, it’ll present challenges of its own. But I think it’s a good idea, so that’s what I’m going to do. The core concept of each story will, I think, remain the same. But a lot of them went off the rails and either failed to meet my own expectations or veered off into territory where I couldn’t even see the original path from where they went. Now’s the time to at least attempt to address those issues.

Beginning with “A Is for Anchor.” I liked the original idea, but I spent 12,000 words (!!) meandering along the “idea river” instead of pursuing an “idea highway” that goes a bit straighter.

Wow. That metaphor, huh? Gotta love my brain. :)

Anywho . . . I’m 1000 words in or so and I definitely think there’s an ending up there somewhere ahead. Now to get to it. By land, not by river.

I don’t know if there will be a post per week, but we’ll see.

Mirrored from WriteWright.

kaasirpent: (Default)
2017-04-23 08:30 am
Entry tags:

Claiming This Blog!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

<jams flag into soil>

I, Kaa, Sir Pent, hereby claim this blog for Bloglovin', queen, and country!

<poses majestically> <smiles>

<continues to pose. Majestically!>

<mouths "Is that long enough?"> <smile begins to look a bit forced>

Guys?

(No, seriously, follow this blog on Bloglovin! ;) )
kaasirpent: (Default)
2017-04-16 02:00 am
Entry tags:

On Things I Miss...

One thing I already miss about LiveJournal is that there was a field on there called "Notes" where I could put a note (duh) about another user that only I would ever see.

Things like "Bob Smith from college" or "Neil Gaiman" or some clue for me to know who the actual person behind the account is. Sometimes I know people by many different names, and it's hard to keep up, frankly. I'm sure I'll figure something out. But that's gonna hurt. :)
kaasirpent: (Good Idea)
2017-04-15 01:29 am

On Change . . .

So it turns out a lot of people — well, I hope it's a lot of people, because I believe that decent people vastly outnumber the others — are abandoning LiveJournal in droves thanks to the new Terms of Service they enacted sometime in the last few days. They claim that people with paid accounts (like me) aren't affected, but do I really trust the Russians at this point? ("Hello, this is the 80s calling. Are you folks really still going on about Russians?")

No. I do not. I suspect no one will be "safe" from reprisals if anyone does anything Putin's goons find objectionable. And I will not give any more money to people who lock innocent people up in a prison camp for something they can't help, and for doing absolutely nothing. Nor will I censor myself. It made me feel dirty to have to "agree" to their POS TOS in order to access my account just to move it and then delete it.

So, here I am on DreamWidth, waiting for my LiveJournal account to be imported. I have over 3000 posts over there. So it's likely to take a couple of days at least.

I think only three of my friends have made the switcheroo so far. I look forward to seeing more.
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
2017-04-13 03:29 pm

Here We Go Again



On Monday, March 13, I took my orthotic inserts to Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics near my house to have them refurbished. It's been more than ten years, and they're literally falling apart, in that the rubber is disintegrating in places.



The guy I talk to takes a look and says, "Sure, we can do that for $50. But you'll have to bring them back next week because we're remodeling the office this week."



"So . . . come back Monday?" I ask.



"Better make it Tuesday," he says. "That'll give us time to get everything put away."



On Tuesday, March 21, I took my orthotics back to them along with the long-since-removed factory-installed insoles of my shoes, so they'd have a template. The lady who took them put my name on them with a sticky note.



Later that day, I got a call saying that I needed to pay them. They wanted me to give them my credit card, but since they called me and I was in the middle of something at work, I told them I'd call back. Which I did,
even later that day. I gave them my credit card number . . . but their machine wouldn't take it. She tried several times. Then called me back and tried a time or two more. Then said, "I guess someone didn't set something up right. I'll call you back when the machine works again."



On Friday, March 24, I get a call saying that they were able to process my payment and would now begin working on them. I thought to myself, "Begin? But you've had them for three days! With my card number!" But I didn't say anything. Because I am too damned polite.



It should be noted, at about this point, that the last time I had any work done on these orthotic inserts, it only took a couple of days. I'm sure you can all hear the ominous chord already, so there's no need for me to <ominous chord> . . . oops.



On Friday, March 31, I called them again to see what was up. Because it has now been an entire week since they said they were "starting" on my refurbish. They basically said that they were still working on it and would let me know when they were ready.



Today, April 13, I realized it has now been nearly three weeks since I dropped off my orthotics, and I still have heard nothing from them. So I called them. "I need a date when my orthotics are going to be ready." The lady acted like she had no idea what I was talking about, and had to look me up in the system. She put me on hold when she noticed that I'd dropped my stuff off on the 21st of March. When she came back, she said she'd call me back when she found out where my orthotics were. Take note of that.



An hour or so later, she calls me back. Turns out, my orthotics aren't in Lawrenceville at all. Oh, no. No, they're in Athens. But the guy working on them will be coming back "maybe Wednesday of next week?" and if I want her to, she can call me when they're ready for pickup. The only time they have called me during any of this was to get my credit card number, and then to tell me it finally went through.



I want to digress for a second and explain that (my) orthotics are designed to perfectly fit a particular pair of shoes. That's what the rubber covering is for. It is trimmed to just the right size so it fits snugly and doesn't move around in the shoe. Mine have high arches to support my feet (different for each foot), and my right insert also has an extension that supports my big toe to alleviate the pain of arthritis, which a podiatrist more than ten years ago prescribed. It is (to my knowledge) the only arthritic joint in my body, but it does hurt, at least a bit. So these orthotics 1) fit my Z-Coils perfectly, and 2) are designed to minimize any pain I might experience from day-to-day walking around.



Since March 21, I've been using an older pair of orthotics that the current pair — the ones that are, right now, in Athens, GA, for no reason I can discern — replaced. The older pair perfectly fit a pair of shoes I no longer own, and are therefore too short and slide around a bit. I use them in a pair of New Balance shoes that I wear from time to time when the Z-Coils are too clunky. They also do not have the arthritis extension under my right big toe. This means they are mostly effective, but not completely. It still hurts to walk for extended periods, and when I take the shoes off at night, I can tell that the inserts have slid forward in the shoe. I can also feel the seam between the hard plastic and the rubber as I walk, and once I notice it, it's all I can think about, thanks to my brain.



Have I mentioned that I've increased my daily Fitbit step-goal from 5000 to 6000 and then to 7500 during these same four weeks? So that instead of decreasing my activity, I've increased it?



I have explained all of that to Hanger the last two or three times we've spoken.



So . . . I called Athens. I explained who I am and asked them if my inserts were there. I might as well have asked her "What is the square foot of kumquat?" She said she had no idea what I was talking about, and that the Lawrenceville office must have meant that the person who does the refurbishing spends part of his time also working in Athens, and he took my orthotics "home" with him to finish . . . but she had no idea. And he . . . is not reachable.



I said, "Find out where they are, and I'll come get them. I'm sick of this run-around. I'll gladly drive the two hours to just have my inserts again." (It's a 53-minute drive to the Athens Hanger from my house.)



I can only imagine that, right now, Athens is on the phone with Lawrenceville complaining about what a nuisance I am, and why can't I just wait until Wednesday?



I will note that next Friday evening, I leave Atlanta for a week, during which I will drive to and spend time in San Antonio, TX, then drive back. If they don't have them back to me on Wednesday of next week — and at this point, I have no reason to believe that they will, given how lackadaisical they've been to this point — it will be May 3 before I could hope to have them. Or, alternatively, if there is some issue with them — and again, I have no real faith that there won't be, at this point — I'll have no time to get said issue looked at before I leave and spend a week in San Antonio walking around.



I'm beyond frustrated and crawling rapidly toward hostile at this point. If I don't hear from them before 4 PM, I'm going to call both numbers and get them to talk to each other and resolve this.



I'm sure people who work in medical offices wonder why patients are such asses. And it's because of things like this. No calls. Nothing at all to tell me what's going on. A procedure that should not have taken more than a couple of days is now stretched out to three weeks at least, and who knows whether they'll be ready by next Wednesday? Who knows if they're ready now? Who knows, in fact, where my inserts are physically located? Lawrenceville? Athens? At the unreachable guy's house? In his car, possibly somewhere in the Adirondacks on vacation? (Speculation. I have no idea why he's not reachable.)



This. This right here is why people go from being polite to being That Guy™. I am now That Guy™. I don't like being That Guy™. I would rather not be him. But the only way to get any satisfaction is to become him.



— That Guy™

kaasirpent: (Rant)
2017-01-15 10:53 am

On Passwords



Dear Web Developers:



Stop it. Honestly, just stop it.



I am not an idiot. I do get that my passwords need to be complex enough and not the same as my login and should contain letters and numbers and all that. I get it. I'm one of you. I probably know it better than most of you do.



But another thing I get — clearly better than you — is that, as a user attempting to select a new password, I need to know the rules before I try a password!



"Please enter new password" helps me about as much as "Select the number I'm thinking of." I cannot tell you how many times I've had the following interaction.



Site: New password:

Me: bl*rghleMlorph3

Site: Invalid password. New password:


Really? You're not even going to tell me what the constraints are? I'm just supposed to intuit it? Without any input? Was the * invalid? Did I not have enough digits? Was it too long? Too short? For the love of God, give me the rules before you ask me to give you a new password!



Another common exchange goes like this.



Site: New password: ________ (Must be at least 6 characters and contain 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, and 1 digit.

Me: bl4rghleMlorph3

Site: Invalid password. Length must be between 6 and 12 characters.
Site: New password: _________ (Must be at least 6 characters and contain 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, and 1 digit.

Me: bl4rGh$plat*

Site: Invalid password. '*' is an invalid character. Only $,%,&,_, and + are allowed.
Site: New password: _________ (Must be . . .


Those whole 'maximum length' and 'allowable characters' bits are crucial for me to know how to create a password worthy of your system, so you need to give me that fucking information before asking me to supply a password. And don't dole it out to me one precious fact at a time! Give it to me all at once and before I am asked to supply a password! Does this seriously never occur to anyone inside your corporate think-tank? Did no one in your development department or your quality assurance department think to question this? Well, they should have.



Also, this is the 21st century. You should accept passwords longer than 8, 12, or 16 characters. Those are woefully inadequate, and if you were on top of things (like you should be), you'd know that longer is better. My default length of password is 24 when I'm not sure, and 32 if I suspect that it might be allowed. Passwords that look like this: @mmmrlP4@vs2J@^MO9vNnHZV.



But no, I'm constantly told that 24 characters is too long. That characters like ^ or @ are invalid. I've even seen some systems where the upper limit on password length is six characters. And some of them don't even require a mix of cases or digits. Seriously. A nine-year-old with very little formal training could crack that without breaking a sweat. While catching the latest Pokémon and Snapchatting the entire thing.



So, all I'm asking, really, is for you to use common sense and to think these things through. Put yourselves in the user's place. As a user, yours is not the only site/app I'll be using. I know! I know! Hard to accept, but stay with me! So I might have questions when creating a password for your site/app, such as "How long does it need to be? How long is too long? What characters are required? Are there any invalid characters?" A good web developer does this.



Be a good web developer.



This has been a mini-rant caused by just one too many stupid sites that don't tell what the goddamned constraints are before asking me to create a password.

kaasirpent: (Default)
2016-05-24 04:30 pm

On Root Canals . . .



Today, I had a root canal.



I know what you're thinking. Your blood pressure spiked, you probably winced, and I'm betting that a good number of people reading this either ran their tongue over their teeth or actually touched their cheek(s).



Because root canal. The mere words conjure up all kinds of horrible images. If you've had one or if you haven't. Because if you haven't, everyone makes sure to tell you just how horrible they are. It seems to be a thing people absolutely must do. Like if you say you like Justin Bieber, Twilight, or Coldplay, people feel the need to tell you just how wrong you are, or question your sanity. Because people. :)



But I had one many years ago. Many, many years ago. Twenty-five of them, to be imprecise, but close. I had a wisdom tooth growing in sideways and eating away at the root of the tooth next to it. So I had the wisdom tooth removed by an oral surgeon, then had a root canal on the tooth next to it. In the same week.



So, yeah. Your root canal stories don't bug me, much. During that first one, I developed the intense need to pee. I mean, like, bladder bursting. Like 'dog walks across you and steps directly on your bladder while you need to go' level. So they let me. With the dental dam in my mouth and the thing that keeps your mouth open wide in place. Walked right through the waiting room and into the bathroom. And then made the mistake of looking at myself in the mirror. And couldn't go. And had to endure another hour of the root canal feeling like an overfilled water balloon.



So, today was fine.



Well, right up until the fire alarm.



So there I am, in the chair, dental dam in place, a rolled-up lab coat wrapped in plastic under my head because they didn't have a pillow, headphones on so I could listen to podcasts instead of the drill, sunglasses on to shield my eyes from the bright lights (Did I mention I tore my cornea this morning? No? Well, I tore my cornea this morning. So that was festive.), and suddenly, Whooooooooop! Whooooooooop! Whooooooooooop!



There was much scrambling around until someone came into the room to inform the doctor and the hygienist that it was a drill. The front desk of the building informed them right before the air raid siren went off that it was just a drill so no one would have to rush patients out into the street with, for instance, mouths propped wide open, a dental dam in place, and all kinds of suction equipment hanging out of their mouths.



Because that would have been too much fun.



As it was, we just had to listen to about fifteen minutes of that constant Whooooooooop! Whooooooooop! Whooooooooooop! The doctor was really annoyed by it. Like, so annoyed that she asked the hygienist to go check to see how long it was going to last. She said, "But they're not going to know that!" And there was a little "discussion" on that topic. And then the doctor asked another person who walked by to do the same thing, and there was another little "discussion" on the same topic. The doctor said it was really getting under her skin and she wasn't going to be able to take it for much longer and was going to have to just walk out on the patient ("haha just kidding") if it didn't — . . . which is when it finally stopped.



After it was all over, the discussion went back to how I have really nice skin, how I have the molar of a nineteen-year-old ("Your dentin was just full of blood! It was gushing everywhere!" I do not even want to know.), lobsters, noise-reduction headphones, and music selection.



On the plus side, I have a prescription for the good pain meds and some antibiotics to make sure we don't have to do this again.



On the minus side, my head is numb from about my left ear over to just to the right side of my chin, from the top of my ear down to about midway down my neck, my entire left cheek, half of my tongue, and most of the roof of my mouth. And I can't swallow, speak very well, or eat. She said the numbness would last "until about bedtime."



I'm fairly sure she isn't aware that 'bedtime' for me is anywhere from midnight to 2 AM, and will assume this means about 10 pm like normal people. But how I'm supposed to down three antibiotic pills without being able to swallow is . . . a mystery I shall have to solve later. For now, I'm at work trying to avoid having to talk to people, because my sibilant, labio-dental, linguo-labial, and fricative consonants are . . . a bit slurred (schflurred).



So . . . how was your day? :)

kaasirpent: (Spam)
2015-12-29 11:35 am

It's Time Once Again for Spam Poetry™



Oh, god, not this crap ag—I mean Hey look! It's more Spam Poetry™!

So, what happens is, periodically, I receive enough spam on one or more of my email accounts that some of the subject lines leap out at me as a kind of poetry in and of themselves. I arrange them, but don't change them (other than to remove the occasional long string of nonsense). To create Art™*

* For some values of 'art.'

So, without further ado . . .

I call this one Gibberish for what will become obvious reasons. At least my Spammers offer a respite and encouragement. Warning: If you read any of these languages, I apologize for any offense that might occur. I have no idea what most of them say.

Learn a language with only 5 minutes per day
J'adore m'amuser avec des garçons
Ia parte la proiecte de succes alaturi de antreprenori romani!
Quà Tặng Chúc Mừng Năm Mới 2016
Поздравляем Вас с Новым годом!
(광고)초대박~ 무료 영화다운로드 쿠폰이 이곳에~! 나만의 쿠폰 선물&홍보 이벤트!
بمقدم 20% امتلك شقتك باب
《2015 GF雙誕嘉年華》精選遊戲送好康!一同迎向2016
Cizme imblanite U. G. G. cu Livrare 24H in Romania
สุขสันต์วันปีใหม่ แด่สมาชิกMG
جشنواره فروش به مدت 4 روز
Bem-vindo ao Ludijogos
Serviço de tradução
vouloir baiser ce soir?

Good Job!!!!!


This next piece I call Stalker. SarAnnabElla is the kind that'll boil your rabbit. (Is that a thing people say? The last time I said it, I got odd looks . . .)


Hello there
i found you :)

1 InstaSextMsg Waiting
1 HotH00kup Waiting
1 Sl*tty Friend Alert
1 InstaSextMsg Waiting
You Have 1 SexiSnap Notification
Check out your friend Annabelle
1 New InstaCheat Alert
1 New InstaAffair Alert
1 New LocalSlutAlert
You Have 1 InstaDateRequest
You Have 1 InstaH00kup Request
1 BangBuddy Alert is Waiting for You
You Have 1 New Christmas InstaQuickie Alert
1 Pending Hookup Alert
1 Pending Hookup Alert
1 New F*ckbuddy Waiting for You
1 New SnapBangMsg
You Have 1 InstaH00kup Request
You Have 7 F*ckFriends Waiting
1 New SnapHookup Alert
1 New InstaAffair Alert
You Have 7 InstaH00kup Requests
You Have 1 New InstaB00tyCall
1 New Christmas InstaSexMatch
1 InstaSextMsg Waiting
1 New SnapHookup Alert
1 Unread F*ckbuddy Message
5 Pending F*ckBuddyNow Alerts
Check out your friend Ella
1 New Christmas InstaHookup Alert
1 New Christmas InstaAffair Alert
1 New Christmas InstaSexMatch
You Have 1 Christmas SexiSnap Notification
1 New Christmas SnapHookupMsg
You Have 1 Christmas InstaH00kup Request
1 New Christmas InstaHookup Alert
1 Christmas Pending Hookup Alert
1 New Christmas SnapHookup Alert
1 Christmas Pending Hookup Alert
New Christmas F#ckBuddy Alert Pending
1 New Christmas InstaHookup Alert
1 Sl*tty Friend Alert
Unread Flirt Message From Sarah
You Have 1 New Christmas InstaQuickie Alert
1 New Christmas SnapF#ck Alert
1 New SnapHookup Alert
1 New Christmas InstaCheat Alert
1 New Christmas SexiSnap Alert
New Find F#ckFriends Alert
Are You Down for Right Now?
Are You Down for Right Now?
Are You Down for Right Now?

i found you
WILL YOU MARRY ME?


Creeeeeepy! I think "Annabelle" or "Ella" or "Sarah" or whatever she's calling herself during this 10-minute period needs to get a hobby. Or perhaps a prescription for . . . something. Other than Spanish fly. (Is that even still a thing? Does this date me?)

Finally, I'll call this one Success! I'm glad to know my Spammers are looking out for my overall well-being. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Or that might be heartburn. Anyhoo . . .


This is what to do in 2016 to make it BIG

  • 6th Annual Dream One World New Years Eve

  • A world away with Qatar Airways from 26,288,000 IRR. Book now!

  • True Love Right This Way...
    Very good method to ensure your love life
    Hookup Opportunity For You: Dating access pass granted
    Sleep with sex-addicts tonight

  • Donation

  • Fulfill your immediate fun requirement in 1 minute
    Dominos Online Super Value Offer: Buy 1 Pizza Get 1 Pizza Free Only TODAY
    Delightful Chicken Shawarmas! Order Now!




This has been Spam Poetry™. I hope you enjoyed it as much as my Spammers enjoyed bringing it to you. Stay tuned here for more "fine" "art" from spam domains in Brazil, Japan, Korea, Russia, and Thailand! (Among many, many others.)
kaasirpent: (Work)
2014-12-11 12:20 pm
Entry tags:

You Keep Using that Phrase. I Do Not Think it Means what You Think it Means.



Scene: The lobby of my workplace. I press the "up" button for the elevators and wait. I see a woman whose face I know but whose name I'm not sure of struggling to get her rolling bag through the security door. The elevator arrives, I press 'door open' to wait the three or four seconds for her to arrive. We exchange 'Good morning's and I press "4."

"What floor?" I ask.

"Two," she says. "Thank you."

We stop on the second floor and she gets out as she wishes me a good rest of the day, and I return the sentiment. Just as the door is starting to close, another woman steps onto the elevator. She waits until the doors start to close again, then puts her hand in the opening, leans out, and peers to the right. As she does this, she looks vaguely over her shoulder at me and mutters, "Sorry. Don't mean to hold you up."

And yet, you have already done that, I think, but don't say.

Apparently satisfied, she then re-enters the elevator entirely, and a few seconds later, the doors begin to close again. She once more puts her hand in the opening, causing the doors to spring back open again. This time, she straddles the opening placing her back against one of the doors, looking off into the right distance again.

I'm about three seconds before getting off the elevator and taking the stairs when the woman once more moves into the elevator and looks at me and says, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to hold you up."

And yet, you have done so twice, I think, but don't say.

Just as the elevator doors are about to close, a hand flies into the opening from the outside, and they open again. It's another woman, also dragging a rolling bag, who says to the other woman (not me), "Sorry about that. I didn't mean to hold you up."

The doors finally close all the way as the two women babble at each other. Since neither of them pressed a button, I assume they're both going to the fourth floor with me.

We arrive at the fourth floor and I get off. Just as I am, I hear a "ding!" and the arrow button on the outside of the elevator flashes to "down."

"Oh, crap!" I hear the first woman — the one who repeatedly kept opening the doors and making me wait — say. "I forgot to press five!"

As I walk away, I think, "I'm sure it doesn't mean to hold you up!" But I don't say it.

Schadenfreude. It's great on a cold, winter morning.
kaasirpent: (Music)
2014-09-18 03:19 pm

The Small Pleasures

I'm about to show my age. Not that I don't freely admit I'm <blur>ty-<blur> years old. I mean — What? You couldn't read that? How very odd. You should probably have your eyes checked. First sign of old age, you know.

Anyhow, back when I first got interested in music, it was The Eighties. I know! It actually existed! It wasn't just some improbable, magical realm of freaky hair and clothing conjured up by John Hughes as a world in which it actually made sense for Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club to exist.

Granted, I was well past my larval stage and headed into pupa at this point. Meaning that my musically formative years happened in late high school and college rather than in childhood, which occurred, for the most part, in The Seventies.

Which didn't actually exist, unlike the Eighties. Well, at least not musically, for me. I lived in a tiny town in rural Alabama, and pretty much the only stations we got that I was aware of were all country stations. So while I was aware of (and had probably heard, briefly) hard, acid rock groups like The Osmonds, The Carpenters, The Jackson Five, and The Three Dog Night, most of what I actually heard on a daily basis was Tammy Wynette, Roy Clark, Loretta (pronounced LOW-RETta, thank you) Lynn, George Jones, and Charlie Pride. Why? Because I wasn't in control of the radio. I wasn't driving.1

The summer of the year after tenth grade (I think; it was a long time ago, and I've slept since then), I registered at Livingston University (now known as The University of West Alabama) for an introductory level college chemistry course.2

What? Yes, this all relates. Jesus, you're impatient. Another sign of age. Hmm? Nothing. Really. Now, where was I?

So I registered for this chemistry course, because my high school chemistry class had been a joke. Not because the teacher wasn't any good, but because she simply wasn't there. She had a sick child, and we had substitutes and such a lot, and . . . well, not everyone in the class was college-bound and our pace . . . reflected that. We (my mother and father) felt that although I had good grades in chemistry, I needed to actually learn the topic.

I know! Crazy talk.

Anyway, I got to drive (in my own car!) from Eutaw to Livingston three times per week (or whatever it was) to take the class. And on that twice-daily hour-long drive to and from school, in my two-door, 1976 Chrysler Cordoba, by myself, I discovered that the radio picked up stations that . . . that weren't country.

I mean, like, totally not country. Do you understand what I'm telling you? They had, like, people who pronounced "well" as one syllable and "thing" didn't rhyme with "slang." These were people who had probably never heard of Ricky Scaggs or Jeannie Riley. Who probably thought a steel guitar was just a really heavy, metal guitar. As opposed to a heavy-metal guitar. Because that's totally different.

Was this what music was?

I liked it! I really liked it!

I remember the song that "turned the corner" for me. Every single morning on the way to Livingston, whatever station it was that I tuned into played the song "Time" by The Alan Parsons Project. I would also have heard songs by Blondie, Hall & Oates, Kool & the Gang3, Sprick Ringfield . . . you should picture angelic chords playing here. They would probably sound something like "Time" by The Alan Parsons Project.

Fast forward a couple of years. 1983. Graduation. Going off to college. Buying cassette tapes for the first time. I seldom bought whole albums because I was one of those people who only liked one or two songs, and didn't want to take the chance with all those other ones. Because on a cassette tape (back in the old days before newfangled things like fire and dirt), there's no skipping around. You pretty much had to listen to music in the order it was on the cassette.

So I bought two compilation albums called Hit Explosion4 and Dancing Madness5 from K-tel. They both had some awesome hits from the previous couple of years. Coincidentally, during the time in which I had my own car and could listen to what I wanted to listen to. Go. Figure. :)

I must have listened to those cassettes hundreds of times. Straight through, in order.

Now, let's fast forward through the 80s (Don't we wish that had been possible at the time?) and the 90s. And most of the 2000s. To, in fact, a few months ago.

While declutterizing my home office, I found my old box of cassette tapes (Have I mentioned I pretty much never throw anything media-related away? Books, cassettes, CDs...). I had maybe sixty of them. Most of which I'd already replaced by buying the album on CD and then ripping to MP3 to put in iTunes. But I missed Hit Explosion and Dancing Madness. And I don't even own a cassette deck.

My, how times have changed.

And then it dawned on me that I could make my own damned compilation albums using playlists in iTunes.

Well, duh!

I already owned a good many of the songs. Twenty minutes and maybe $8 later, I had reassembled both albums from 1983 as playlists in iTunes.

Last night, I felt the need to escape writing code for a while and just not be bothered. The call of 1983 was too strong to resist. "If I haaaaad a photograph of YOU-oo-OO-oo-OOOOH, as something to remiiiiind meeeeee..."

Which is what I meant by "The Small Pleasures."


  1. My mother, were she to comment on this, would no doubt interject, here, and mention in passing how there was this one particular trip in the mid-70s up to West Virginia to visit my grandparents for Christmas where "we" (my parents) were "forced" to listen to an 8-Track (look it up) of Dr. Seuss stories, pretty much back to back, all the way from Alabama to West Virginia. My mother still shudders when someone says the word "ooblek." This one, isolated, singular incident (this is my blog) notwithstanding, she and/or my father ("we") controlled the radio and what got played thereupon.
  2. Whereat I saw the single weirdest misspelling of my name, ever. The college admissions people had me down (until I corrected them) as "GARX HEMBERSON." Really? Garx? Really? Oy. In an unrelated note, my handwriting really sucked back then.
  3. I would later come to loathe Kool & the Gang because of my next-door-neighbors in the dorm during my sophomore year at the University of Alabama. These boys would listen to Kool & the Gang at a volume that made my bed frame vibrate in the next room. Until 3 AM. On nights before tests. And we (I) wanted to kill them. But since murder is wrong, I just learned to hate Kool & the Gang along with my next-door neighbors. That, and I moved into a room across the dorm from them the next semester. Jerks. I assume they're both prematurely deaf, now.
  4. Side 1
    Mickey / Toni Basil
    Vacation / The Go-Gos
    Steppin' Out / Joe Jackson
    Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl) / Haircut 100
    Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) / Joan Jett
    Young Turks / Rod Stewart
    Abracadabra / Steve Miller Band
    Side 2
    Shadows of the Night / Pat Benatar
    Gloria / Laura Branigan
    Hold On / Santana
    Space Age Love Song / A Flock of Seagulls
    New World Man / Rush
    Keep the Fire Burnin' / REO Speedwagon
    Eye of the Tiger / Survivor
  5. Side 1
    Come Dancing / The Kinks
    Fascination / Human League
    Always Something There to Remind Me / Naked Eyes
    Cool Places / Sparks
    Whirly Girl / Oxo
    Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) / A Flock of Seagulls
    Side 2
    Electric Avenue / Eddy Grant
    Time (Clock of the Heart) / Culture Club
    Pass the Dutchie / Musical Youth
    Juicy Fruit / Mtume
    Don't You Get So Mad / Jeffrey Osborne
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
2014-09-02 10:58 am
Entry tags:

The Final Curtain (Really!)

All done by Kit4na, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Kit4na 


Finally, at long, long last, I have had THE FINAL CHECKUP with the surgeon who did my shoulder surgery back in April.

After over a year, I'm finally DONE with this nonsense. I'll never have to talk to Some Woman at Some Company again (Hear that, universe? That wasn't a request for a lesson in irony, mm'kay? I've already had enough of that from the likes of Alanis Morissette.)

Anyhoo, it's been an eventful year. I've just recently started to force myself to use my right arm for my typical right-arm type things. It's my dominant hand, yet over the last year, I've all but stopped using it for routine things like opening doors or lifting things (like into my car or the refrigerator).

I asked the surgeon one, last question.

"So, I can move my arm pretty much without pain, at this point. I'm doing more with it, and other than an occasional twinge of muscle pain, I'm golden. So . . . is there anything I should basically just avoid doing with the shoulder?"

The doctor said, "Avoid lifting too much weight above your head. Like, if you do free weights, keep the weight below shoulder height."

"Permanently?" I asked.

"Yeah. It's bad for the shoulder to lift weights like that."

Something in his voice cued my next question. "Oh. You're not talking about just me, are you? You're talking about in general."

"Yeah. No one should ever do that."

So I'm going to take that as, "Go thou and do what ye wilt, except lifting weights above shoulder height. Eth."

I'm not even going to bother making this an "official" part 14 of the ongoing saga. Because that would involve editing 13 past entries and including a link to this one. Or maybe I will. It all depends, really, on how busy I get at work. :)
kaasirpent: (Elated)
2014-07-31 11:33 am

Happy Anniversary?



This entry is part 13 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13, THE FINAL CHAPTER (probably) (YOU ARE HERE)

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the fall that caused so many problems during the intervening year. Last July 31st, on my way from the parking lot to the building where I work, I slipped on damp pavement littered with small acorns(?) and tore my rotator cuff badly.

It has been three and a half months since the surgery to fix the problem. I have almost my full range of motion back. I can reach straight up, straight out, across my body, and only get a few twinges now and then. I still can't reach behind my back without pain, but perhaps that will come with time. The surgeon told my housemate that, among other things, I would not be throwing anything overhand anymore. And you know what? I can live with that. :)

As far as strength is concerned, I have very little, but it IS getting better. When I first started doing the exercises a couple of months ago, I could barely move the elastic band. This morning, I realized I had to move farther from the door to put more resistance in the band. There are only two of the five exercises he gave me that hurt at all, and that is getting better, as I said.

There are still times when I do something that will cause a sharp pain that reminds me that I hurt myself and that not everything in there is "right" anymore. This usually happens when I'm doing something so habitual that I tend not to think about it, like moving the laundry from the washer into the dryer, or hanging my dry laundry. It's just one of Nature's lovely little ways of reminding me that I need to think about what I'm doing. :)

The scars are still on my shoulder, and I guess they're permanent. I had originally thought they'd fade over time, but they're still quite noticeable. Meh. Looks like I lost an argument with a particularly shoulder-hating staple gun. Again, I can live with that.

I have changed my parking habits at work. I no longer park in the front lot with all the oak trees that tend to shed tiny little acorns. Onto a sloping surface. I now park in the "lower forty" lot where the ground is nice and level and the only trees are pine. The walk is much less treacherous in all weather, so it's a good thing.

I can't prove it had anything to do with me, but I mentioned before that just about the time I was having the worst of my battles with Some Woman at Some Company, my employer resurfaced the entire parking lot, making the surface less slick, and they also keep it almost devoid of any tree-detritus. So even if I were still parking in the front lot, there would be far less to trip over or slip on. Still, I'm going to continue parking in the "lower forty."

I'm tempted to call Some Woman today and let her know that I have one final doctor appointment in September, and then I'm officially done with the whole mess. I will continue to exercise my arm, being careful not to overdo it, of course (Mom). And I'll continue to be extra careful while walking, because it's been shown that I can't be trusted to do that.

In my last entry, I mentioned payment. I have yet to see a single bill for any of it, so I'm fine with that. I was also paid for the time I spent on short-term leave. I think I might have lost a few days because of some policy involving short-term leave, but that's small potatoes, and I'm not going to raise a stink. Thank you for respecting that and not admonishing me in the comments.

As a final note, I was sorely tempted to prank you all and lead with "Today is the one-year anniversary of the fall that caused me such grief, and you'll never guess what I did this morning on the way in to the office! At least now, my arms match again! Just kidding!" But I decided to be nice and not yank anyone's chain. (Just to be plain: I did not injure myself at all. Yet. The day is young. :)
kaasirpent: (Meh)
2014-05-15 04:16 pm
Entry tags:

Rumbling in the Distance



This entry is part 12 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 (YOU ARE HERE)

After my last post, I sent a carefully worded email to the hospital regarding the Nurse Drama™.

Dear Sir or Madam:

On the 18th of April, I had outpatient surgery at Meridian Mark for a rotator cuff repair. First of all, everyone I met that day was completely awesome to me. During the time I was being prepped for surgery (information entered into the computer, IV started, forms to sign, etc.), I was in a small 'room' partitioned off by a thin curtain.

Outside of the curtains, two of the nurses got into a tiff over something and had a public argument about it. I heard literally every word that was said, and I'm sure other patients could, as well. Voices weren't raised, either. It was all done at normal conversational level.

Their supervisor did intervene, eventually, and I think everything got smoothed out. But it's just been bothering me. Patients being prepped for surgery are already anxious enough as it is, and to hear two nurses having a public argument doesn't help.

I've been waffling back and forth on whether to even say anything. I remember no one's name (I was anesthetized right after that), and can only tell you that it was on April 18, 2014 between 12:00 to 1:00 pm in the surgical prep(/recovery?) area. One nurse asked the other to help out with a patient while she finished up with another, and the second nurse apparently didn't like the first one's tone.

Disputes of that sort should be settled in private, behind closed doors, and not in front of patients. I don't want to get anyone in trouble or disciplined for a momentary lapse in judgment. Ideally, the message would go out to all medical personnel to settle their disputes out of earshot of patients and visitors.


I got the following reply today:

Dear Mr. Henderson,

Thank you for your correspondence, we truly appreciate your feedback.

I sincerely apologize for the unfortunate incident you witnessed. We strive to provide excellent care in a professional and comfortable environment; it's very disappointing to hear we did not meet our goal. I have shared your concerns with the Surgery manager for review. We regret that you had this experience. It is our commitment to do everything possible to ensure this situation does not occur in the future.

Again, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to improve our services. I would be more than happy to have a manager follow up with you after the review. Let me know if you would like to have a follow up call.

Kind Regards,

[NAME REDACTED]
Patient Affairs Specialist


I replied back and said that there was no need for anyone to follow up and that I just wanted them to have the information. I also explained that at no point was I given bad service by anyone involved; I was merely concerned that something like that could increase patient anxiety. She thanked me and wished me a speedy recovery.

Thus concludes part 12. I have a really bad feeling that part 13 is going to involve compensation for the two weeks I was out on leave. I have only received payment for 1.6 weeks of the 2.6 weeks I was out. I have a stack of paper an inch high of all kinds of stuff from my insurance carrier. Forms to be filled out, complete with doctor's signature, before my return to work . . . which arrived in the mail after I was already back at work, etc. This isn't over by a long shot.

Only, now . . . the big guns are involved. If Some Woman and Some Company are the anthill of frustration, I have a sneaky feeling dealing with Big Insurance Company is going to the Olympus Mons.

<sigh>
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
2014-05-13 03:10 pm

Nurse Drama



This entry is part 11 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 (YOU ARE HERE)

Something I forgot to mention about my little hospital experience is the Nurse Drama™. When I arrived, they had me undress and get into one of those backless gowns, then lie on a bed with booties on my feet while they jabbed repeatedly at my left arm trying to find a vein good enough to administer the amnesia drug to me.

The "room" they had me in consisted of a small desk with a computer monitor bolted on it, the gurney I was on, and a bunch of equipment. And a curtain that separated me from the rest of the room and the patients on either side of me. If you've ever been involved in a surgical procedure or an emergency room, you probably know what I'm talking about.

The first nurse — whom I'll call Sue for the sake of avoiding excessive ambiguous pronouns — started the laborious process of verifying my identity and getting all kinds of stuff entered into the computer system. I had to sign several things as well.

But then Sue was called away from getting me situated to do something else. So she went outside my curtain, closed it, and I heard something to this effect.

Sue: Ann, I have to help with another patient. Can you finish up with Mr. Henderson while I take care of this?

Ann: You don't give me orders. You're not the supervisor.

Sue: It wasn't an order. I was just asking —

Ann: 'Ann, finish up my patient because I don't have time.' <mocking tone>

Sue: That is not what I said. If you don't want to do it, I'll get someone else.

Ann: No, I'll do it. I wouldn't want to inconvenience you.


The curtain slid back and Ann poked her head in, all cheer and goodness and sunlight and fluffy, fluffy baby ducks. "Good afternoon, Mr. Henderson. I'll be finishing up your prep while Sue helps with another patient."

Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "Uh . . . you do know that I could hear every word, right? I mean, it's just a curtain. It's not soundproof." But I said, "OK."

Ann putzes around with the computer system for several minutes, then Sue comes back in. They banter with each other jovially for a few seconds while switching off, and then both leave my "room."

Sue: I'm sorry if what I said came across as an order, I was just —

Ann: I have seniority here, and I don't appreciate being told what to do by someone who's only been here <however long it was>.

Sue: Ann, I wasn't —

At this point, another voice interrupts. I'll call her Jen.

Jen: What seems to be the problem here?


And for the next several minutes, I got to listen to Ann and Sue explain their positions to Jen, whom I took to be their supervisor. At some point, Sue said, "I have to finish up with Mr. Henderson," and she came back inside my curtain and picked up where we left off — cheerfully! — like I could hear nothing that went on literally three feet outside the curtain.

Sue tried twice, unsuccessfully, to get the needle into my arm. She said, "I've failed twice, so I need to get someone else to try." (Must be hospital policy?) So she left for a second, and by this time, Jen and Ann were done, so Sue and Jen had a little discussion, as well.

Sue: I honestly have no idea what I said to upset Ann. All I did was ask if she could help a patient while I finished up with another one.


This went on for several minutes. Jen got both Sue and Ann together and Sue apologized to Ann (although from my perspective, it was Ann that had whatever problem she had), Ann "accepted," and then a minute later, Sue comes back in with Fay, introduces me, and Fay proceeds to poke me in the arm three more times until they get a decent vein.

I guess what surprises me is that they allowed Nurse Drama to go on literally feet from where patients are trying to remain calm about outpatient surgery. And while they're being checked in, two of their nurses are nyah-nyah-ing at each other over some trivial nothing. It does make you wonder, though, what would happen if Sue and Ann were forced to work together on a patient. Would they let any of their animosity spill over into their jobs? I certainly hope not.

I've been toying with whether I should just very quietly make a suggestion to the hospital management that the curtains don't block conversations, and that if the nurses are going to verbally spar with one another, they should take it behind a closed door and do it privately. Patients who are already nervous over literally going under the knife within an hour don't really need the added stress of wondering if their nurse is going to be distracted because she's thinking about l'esprit de l'escalier.

Anyway, at that point the doctor came in, and verified who I was and what procedure was being done. I said something like, "I almost had my housemate write 'No' on my left shoulder, just in case." I chuckled because joke.

Sue laughed when the doctor calmly took a sharpie out of his pocket and wrote "Yes" on my right shoulder. I wasn't sure whether to laugh. "We do that, just in case," he said, very seriously.

Yet another nurse came in and swabbed the entire area of my shoulder and upper arm with Betadine, which stained my skin a sickly ochre for about a week.

Then they injected Versed into my IV, and started to wheel my gurney out of the pre-surgical area to surgery. The last clear memory I have (Versed is called 'the amnesia drug' for a reason) is going through double doors and seeing my housemate with all her stuff following the procession.

Then I woke up and my shoulder hurt and I couldn't think straight. Anesthetics take a few hours to wear off.

I think this is the last little tidbit I have to tell from the actual surgery.
kaasirpent: (Work)
2014-05-12 12:30 pm

Once More into the Breach



This entry is part 10 in an ongoing series of sem-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 11

This isn't even a surprise to me at this point. It's like a character in a sitcom saying, "What else could possibly go wrong?" and the studio audience all going, "Oooooooooh."

As I said in part 9, I returned to work last week. Not on Monday, but on Wednesday. This was because I couldn't get an appointment with the doctor the prior week, and didn't have the okay to drive until I saw him. He gave me the OK on Tuesday and I left the next morning to head back to the office.

Flash forward to Friday. I'm paid hourly because of some kerfuffle that happened a few years back with IT workers suing for overtime pay in California(?), and most of the rest of the nation followed suit to avoid the same lawsuit (as I understand it). Anyhoo, I was salaried up to a point, then became hourly, and so I can, if the need is great, get paid overtime for anything > 40 hours that I work. What this has to do with anything is that I have to put my hours into our PeopleSoft system, which they use to calculate my weekly pay. Friday is the day we fill that out and submit it, because the payroll is run on Monday before noon, Pacific. (But we still have to have our time submitted before noon Eastern on Monday. Whatever.)

Before I left for surgery and recovery, I pre-submitted two weeks of time sheets with 40 hours each of leave time. There was apparently some question about that (I was apparently not supposed to fill out a time sheet at all for leave time, even though LEAVE is one of the sub-categories under EXCEPTION TIME, but no one tells me anything), and an email discussion between my boss and our payroll department ensued, on which I was CC'd. It was cleared up before I ever even saw the email exchange. Problem: Solved!

Or so I thought.

Friday, I opened PeopleSoft and clickity-clicked through to where I put my hours in . . . and it didn't recognize me. As in, the place on the form for "Employee ID," which heretofore had always been populated automatically, wasn't.

Thinking that maybe I had done something wrong, I looked up the number on my paycheck stub and put that in. Invalid ID. Hm. I tried searching on the ID. Invalid ID. Name, last first. Invalid ID. Name, first first? Invalid ID. Grrrr. Advanced Search. Same results.

I looked for my boss, but he was in a meeting, so I walked around until I found another manager (who was my manager before my current manager). I told him what was going on, and he did some button-pushing and mouse-clicking. He informed me that the Employee ID number on the paycheck stub and the Employee ID in PeopleSoft are two separate things. But I should try the other one and see if that worked.

I managed to get the other number off of an approved timesheet from earlier in the year. Invalid ID. Hm.

I tried searching on that number. Invalid ID. Advanced Search? Invalid ID.

Worried, I approached my boss once he was out of his meeting, and said, "PeopleSoft says I don't exist."

He got this look on his face I interpreted as, "I knew this was going to happen. I just knew it." Plus some fun expletives. He didn't say them, but I could see them in his eyes.

Seems that part of that little problem with my 'leave' time ended up with me being taken completely out of the whole time reporting system. I mean, I could log in, and I could see my previous time sheets and approvals. I just couldn't put in anything new. Because that's logical, right?

He was on his way out and said he would deal with it over the weekend.

Flash forward to today.

He didn't have time to deal with it over the weekend because Mothers Day.

So I looked up the number for Payroll on our company Intranet, and got ready to beard the dragon in his lair. Before I dialed, I thought, "I'd probably better try the time sheet one more time so I can read off the exact error to them."

And I was fine. The Employee ID (the correct one) was in place. It knew who I was. I was able to report my time and submit it to my boss, comfortably before noon. Eastern.

All's well that ends well, as Shakespeare said.

I'm sure this will be the last problem I'll have stemming from this whole thing. Sure. Absolutely. I mean . . .

What else could possibly go wrong?
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
2014-05-08 11:39 am
Entry tags:

On the Mend: Return to Work



This entry is part 9 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 10 | Part 11


I visited my doctor Tuesday, May 6th, 2014, for my surgical follow-up. The first thing he asked me was how I felt. I told him, "Pretty good." He asked how my arm was doing, and I told him about the range of motion I've been able to achieve on my own. (I can raise it up to my side at about a 30 or 40 degree angle from my body.)

He told me that my rotator cuff was badly damaged. He didn't "fix it" so much as "repair some of the damage." I'll never, he says, have 100% usage of the joint, again. He estimated from 66% to 75%, but no more. I was a little crestfallen to hear that, because I really use my right hand a lot. I'm severely right-handed, as I've explained before.

He also said that because I had quite a bit of arthritic damage to the bones of the joint, he ground off quite a bit of bone, so I should actually have less pain than I originally had.

Now . . . I wasn't aware of any arthritis pain. Honestly. Sure, when I would try to put my arms behind my head, there'd be a small twinge in my shoulders and elbows, but . . . I just chalked that down to being vastly out of shape and having zero flexibility. I guess maybe that was the arthritis?

I never thought of myself as having a high threshold of any kind of pain. I'm one of those people who can't walk barefoot through the grass in my yard because there are sharp stalks that poke my tender soles. When I was a kid, mind you, I could run on sun-baked, gravel-paved streets and not even notice the sharp rocks or the searing heat.

Ah, youth.

Maybe I had been having more pain than I realized? Is that possible? To be in pain, but just not notice it? Like you don't notice the smell of onions cooking after a while because you get used to it, and then someone else walks in and it's all they can smell.

The doctor did tell my housemate right after surgery that I would not be throwing anything overhand, anymore. Well, damn. There goes my hope to get into Wimbledon or the Atlanta Braves. Still, it's one thing to hear 'repair the rotator cuff' and quite another to hear 'too much damage to fix entirely.'

At any rate, he then gave me several exercises to work at over the next month, a couple of times per day, each, to extend my flexibility, but not my strength. He said not to work on strength, yet. I showed him an exercise I've been doing that the physical therapists last October gave me, and which seemed to do me some good. He said I could keep that up, so 8 to 10 times per day, I do those. Twice or so per day, I'm to do a pendulum thing, where I bend over and let my arm hang loose from the shoulder, and just swing the arm back and forth, letting gravity do the work for me. I'm also supposed to "climb" my hand up a wall twice or so per day, trying to raise the arm at greater angles. And finally, I'm supposed to get a pulley I can put over a door and use my good arm to raise my bad arm as high as I can, while putting no resistance with the bad arm. I'm not to use it to raise my good arm.

I intend to look for a pulley and rope at Home Depot or Lowe's or something. Maybe one of them will have something that won't cost me an arm and a leg <rimshot>.

Now, I know what you're thinking, because not only was I thinking it, as well, but so has everyone I've told all this to, and so did my Workers Comp representative (Some Woman) when I spoke with her yesterday morning. You're thinking, "Where's the physical therapy?"

This particular doctor doesn't think it's necessary, as long as I follow his instructions and do the exercises. They are, after all, the same ones the PTs will give me, and the only difference is, when I do them myself, I won't have the added cost of visiting a PT, and I won't get the massage, moist heat, or ice pack afterward. Those felt pretty good, actually, even when my joint wasn't going to get better because of the rotator cuff being bunched up behind the joint in a pile instead of spread out like it should be.

If I can't keep up the exercises, he'll send me to PT. It's almost like a threat. Some Woman thought he's nuts, but on the other hand, it means they don't have to approve of and then pay for more "medically unnecessary" physical therapy, right? (Did you hear the scorn in my voice, there? I wasn't trying to hide it.)

As of yesterday (Wednesday, May 7, 2014), I'm back at work. I sit at a computer and type all day, so it's not like it's a big difference from what I was doing at home, which was to sit at a computer and type all day. Now, I just have less air conditioning and a less comfortable chair. The only issue was whether I could drive or not, and he gave me the green flag for that, as well. The only thing that hurts while driving is when I have to reach out to put the car into drive (or park, or reverse, or whatever; it's an automatic), or when I have to reach forward to press the button to open or close the garage door. The rest I can either do with my left hand or it'll just have to not get done.

I don't see the doctor again until June 3rd, so unless there are more infuriating things that happen between now and then, this will probably be the last you'll hear on this topic for a bit. Probably. Unless.
kaasirpent: (Idiots)
2014-05-04 12:26 pm

Four Tiny Incisions

Shoulder incisions by scjody, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  scjody 


This entry is part 8 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

Note: I apologize for the length of this entry. I used an <lj-cut> for a good portion of it, for those browsing your friends list.

Disclaimer: That picture is not of my shoulder, but it's the closest one I could find on Flickr with Creative Commons licensing. It's remarkable how little external evidence there is of the amount of disruption below the skin. :)


So, after the last entry, which was posted on March 13, 2014, I was waiting for Some Woman at Some Company to get back to me about the results of the MRI, which my doctor recommended be surgery.

I'm not where I can get at my copious records at the moment, but it was around the 26th of March when I received a letter from Some Company. A nurse practitioner I have never met had reviewed my case and determined that the surgery was, indeed, medically necessary. I'm leaving out all the phone calls it took to get Some Woman and Some Company talking to my doctor.

The letter said I had 60 days to get the surgery. I looked at the dates given as the window, and it was 3/17 to 5/17. Wait. It was the 26th. I checked the letter. It had been sent on the 25th. Which was after the 17th. I don't get why — at all — they back-dated the beginning of the sixty days. And I don't really much care, at this point.

I called the doctor and gave them the date range and we looked for a time within that range that suited not only both me and the doctor, but the hospital. My choices were 4/4 and 4/18. Since my boss and my team lead were both out on spring break vacation during the week of 4/4, I opted for 4/18. The time of the surgery was 1:00 pm.

I called Some Woman at Some Company and actually got her on the phone. I informed her of the date of the surgery and how long I intended to stay away from the office. She said, "Since you refused to give me your salary when we initially spoke" — I have to inject, here, that I didn't refuse so much as not have the information available at the time she asked — "I have no idea what level of compensation we can provide." I gave her my company's HR number and contact, and also asked HR to fax her the information. This was two weeks before the surgery.

I had to also call my company's insurance company — who covers short-term disability, among other things — and they agreed to cover me for FMLA.

I was set! I scheduled the time off, and was kind of amused by the little wrinkles that appeared around my boss's eyes when he realized I was going to be out at the same time as another guy, and we are the only two people who can cover one particular product. But I had a deadline, and I wanted this over with.

I had to go by the hospital a week before the surgery to get a pre-exam by the anesthesia department to determine what level of anesthesia I would need for the surgery. Before I left, they gave me a form to have my HR department fill out and fax to them. It conveniently had the fax number right there on the form. It was all about workers comp, and asked for things like my case number, my case representative, and that sort of thing. So they'd know who to bill.

I got to work the next day and gave that form to my HR rep, and she said she would fax it right away.

You can probably guess what's coming next. I wrote about it on Facebook while it was happening. Below/behind the cut (for those browsing on LJ) is what I wrote. Warning: Very foul language. I was upset. I don't apologize. I do not think I have ever in my life been as angry as I was on this day.

C-word alert! Not 'cancer.' The obscene one. )

HR faxed another copy of the form. But I didn't verify Jack because I was too pissed off and didn't want to have to talk reasonably to anyone. I simply worked out the day and left. I went to the hospital the next day at the appointed time, and no one said anything, so I assume it was all straightened out.

It took the nurses five tries to get an IV into my arm, so that was fun. Once they did, I got a dose of Versed. The amnesia drug. They rolled me out of the pre-surgical exam room into the hallway and through a set of double doors . . . and that's where my memory stops. :)

I woke up some time later with an epic sore throat. I immediately started sucking down liquids. The nurses helped me get dressed with my arm heavily bandaged and in a sling. I got two prescriptions for the good pain medication (oxycodone, in two different doses for different levels of pain).

On day two, around 4:30 pm, while I was trying to keep my arm immobile as much as possible and doing not much other than sitting in my chair listening to podcasts, I got a call from . . . can you guess? Some Woman! "We never received any information about your salary, so we haven't been able to set up compensation."

Un. Be. Liev. A. Ble. I made her wait for fifteen minutes while I got my work laptop out and went through the laborious process of gaining access to the work system from home, all so I could access my pay records to give her my hourly pay rate, so she could calculate my compensation level. I don't know who dropped that particular ball. I sent email to HR explaining the situation, and then I logged out, and that's the last I've talked to anyone from work.

The rest of the story is kind of boring. I removed the outer bandages after two days (as instructed) because of the incessant, insanity-inducing itching. Quit using the sling on day four, because it was rubbing my hand raw. Removed the strips of tape covering the actual incisions after about six days, again because of the itching. There are four, tiny incisions on my shoulder, each about 3/16th of an inch long, and each closed with a single suture. Two of them are still red, but one has almost completely healed. The last one is in between.

And I've been improving daily. I'm finally able to wear real shoes and pants (getting the belt on is the hurdle).

I have my follow-up visit with the doctor who performed the surgery on the 6th, and at that point, he'll give me some direction as far as what I'm allowed to do (drive?) or not, and how much and how far I can push the usage of the joint. So stay tuned for part 9, hopefully without copious cursing and apoplectic rage. I could use a lot less of that in my life. And getting to the point where I never have to deal with Some Woman and Some Company again will go a long way toward making that a reality.
kaasirpent: (Idiots)
2014-03-13 03:18 pm

Workers Comp 7: The Creeping Evilness of Evil



This entry is part 7 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

When last we heard from Our Intrepid Hero™ (me), on January 27th, 2014, I had gone to the orthopedist and had my first appointment, where we . . .

Wait. Let's review a couple of tiny things. From Part 1:
About 45 minutes later, I made it to my doctor. He had me put the arm through some moves that hurt, and he manipulated it.

No broken bones. No torn muscles. No broken, torn, or detached tendons. No rotator cuff injury (which is what I truly feared).
Emphasis added for irony purposes.

And from Part 2:
The doctor at the time told me that it was not broken, nor did I have any sort of rotator cuff injury, which were the two things I was most concerned about.
Emphasis once again added for irony purposes.

Why am I mentioning how my original doctor told me there were no tendon or rotator cuff injuries? [This right here is called "suspense," dear reader. Watch how it works.]

The day after my first visit to the orthopedist, we had what we here in the south like to call Icemageddon. It snowed about 2 inches, but because it was juuuuuust warm enough, that snow melted and instantly formed an inch or more of ice on our roads. And because Reasons, Atlanta shut down for two days. Most businesses in affected areas were shut down for three days.

Because of that, I decided to give Some Woman at Some Company the benefit of the doubt, and I didn't disturb either her or the doctor. I assumed that since my doctor's office had spoken directly with her, that Gears Were Set In Motion and that Things Would Be Happening.

I heard that. You laughed. No, don't bother to deny it, I heard you distinctly.

Then, about two weeks later, we had Icemageddon II: The Return of Solid Precipitation. This time, rather than snowing in a nice, pretty, picturesque way, ol' Mother Nature decided to just get it out of the way and sleet1 for two straight days. Atlanta was shut down once more for three days.

The following week when I returned to work, I called the doctor's office, and found out that — can you guess? — they had never heard from Some Woman. In fact, they had been — can you guess? — unable to get through to her.

I called Some Woman, expecting to get her voice mail, as per usual. Imagine my shock when she answered the phone. I asked her — politely — if she had called the doctor's office. Keep in mind that this was the third week after my visit, and the doctor's office calling, because all they needed was an approval for an MRI, and information on where to send me for said MRI. She was very polite. Bright and sunny. And she said, "I tried to call them last week, but their office was closed because of the snow. And I haven't contacted them yet this week because I'm giving them time to get caught up."

I'm pretty sure I must have had a small stroke at this point, because I cannot trust the fact that Some Woman actually spoke these words to me. Honestly. Has anyone in history ever been less aware of how stupid they sound? So, maybe we had this conversation, and maybe I hallucinated the entire thing. I'd almost rather believe the latter.

In my most chipper, friendly tone, I thanked her(!) and hung up. I then penned a very carefully worded email to my HR department explaining the problem. Unlike every other time I had done this, I got no response. None. Nada. Zilch. Crickets chirping.

I spoke to Some Woman again that Wednesday, and she said she had faxed them the information. I called my doctor and they had no record of any fax. I asked them to get in touch with her and handle it.

Then, finally, on Friday, the 28th of February, I got a call from my doctor's office, saying that they had finally managed to get the information from Some Woman.

I will stress, here, that the only thing my doctor's office needed, at this point, was a "Yes, send the patient to Facility X for an MRI." That's it. But it took Some Woman thirty-three days to do that.

Thirty. Fucking. Three.

From that point, I got rapid-fire calls from Facility X's HQ in New Jersey, and we set up the MRI for the next week, at one of their facilities near me, on Wednesday. It was so unbelievably refreshing to deal with someone who not only proactively dealt with getting me what I needed, but seemed to actually care.

I had the MRI. I then scheduled a visit with the doctor to tell me what the images meant.

The astute reader will recall the element of suspense that I (subtly) created earlier by highlighting excerpts from prior posts in this series in which I specifically stated that my original doctor said there was nothing broken, no tendon damage, and no rotator cuff damage.

You already know that the x-ray showed a healed compression fracture, i.e., a broken bone.

When I stood behind the doctor as he looked at the MRI results, he pointed at a bright blob and said, "See this tendon? The insertion is supposed to be —" he pointed several centimeters to the left "— over here. And see this?" He pointed at another bright blob. "That's your rotator cuff, which is pretty badly torn." The blob, which should be in the shape of a cup around the ball of the humerus bone was . . . a blob, crumpled in the back of the socket joint.

No wonder my shoulder hurts. No wonder the PT didn't help. So as much as I hate to admit it . . . the PT was, indeed, medically unnecessary. Just not for the bullshit reason I was given ("returned to full duty at work").

He recommended surgery. He then said, "Sometimes, I go in and it turns out there's too much damage, and there's nothing I can do. About once out of every 50 surgeries, that happens."

That's pretty good odds, from my point of view.

So, where are we, now? We're waiting on Some Woman at Some Company to 'approve' my surgery, so we can go ahead and schedule it. I lobbed the ball of Your Responsibility for doing that over the net to my doctor's office yesterday (March 12, 2014).

Anyone have any bets how long I'll have to wait?


  1. I made a really cool, short video of it and posted it to my YouTube channel, if you're interested in seeing what it looked and sounded like. It was quite pretty, actually. It's about 15 seconds.
kaasirpent: (Bookkeeping)
2014-02-17 02:19 am

What's in a Name?



Why 'kaasirpent? Why 'Prose and Kaa'? I'm sure these questions have been plaguing you since at least the length of this very sentence. Maybe longer. Maybe as far back as three sentences! :)

The answer is a bit odd, perhaps.

This got long and rambly. For the short version, don't click this. )

I adore The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. Adore. It. So I went through the characters, trying to roleplay them: Mowgli, Shere Khan, Bagheera, and Baloo, before finally settling on Kaa, the snake.

I'm big into puns, see. And on TinyTIM, I could use that to my advantage. I programmed myself to hissss everything, sso that anything I ssaid came out like thiss, with all my ssibilantss doubled. I worked out ways a snake could shrug and do other actions, and I went to the (online) party.

I sort of never went back to S'thel. I created another character called Kaa, moved to it, and left S'thel for special Weyr occasions.

In essence, I became Kaa sometime in the late fall or early winter of 1991. And I have used Kaa, KaaSerpent, or some variation of it every since. Chances are, if you see a 'kaa' or 'kaaserpent' user on a forum, there's a very good chance it's me.

Then, in 2003, I noticed that the usual crowd on TIM was getting smaller and smaller. The conversations we were having were becoming disjointed. I was hearing the second half of conversations people had obviously started elsewhere. I asked.

"Oh, it's this 'blog' called LiveJournal. We're all over there. You should check it out." (By all, they meant some fifty or sixty people.)

I resisted. I had nothing to say, really. I had an old website some TIM-friends were hosting on their server for free, but it was full of rants and drivel, updated weekly or more. It was 'kaa.trippy.org,' and it's still there if you're masochistic enough to go look for it.

So I finally had to come to LiveJournal. I wanted 'kaa,' but some Russian guy had, annoyingly, already taken it. Then my love of puns came out. Instead of getting 'kaaserpent,' I thought to myself that 'kaa serpent' sounded like a name and title. Kaa, Sir Pent. It's like a (really awful) pun. Which was all I needed.

And thus, kaasirpent was born.

A few years later (2008ish) when I got serious about writing fiction again, my love for puns came out again when I was redesigning my theme for LiveJournal. I needed a name for the blog. Before this it had been "Kaa's Lair" (yawwwwn).

I liked writing. I liked Kaa. I liked puns. I liked ranting about stuff. So, "pros and cons" became "Prose and Kaa."

And thus endeth my (extremely long and rambly and probably very boring — I'm sorry) story about How My Blog Got Its Name.

I have three blogs. The stories of those are here (Philosophidian) and here (WriteWright), respectively. This was the longest one, I promise. The other two are quite short and sweet and to the point.


This post is in response to The Writer's Post Blog Hop 2014 #4 prompt, Explain the Name of Your Blog. The host is Suzy Que. Other entries are linked from her blog post.
kaasirpent: (Rant)
2014-02-04 04:42 pm

#UpperLipProblems


This will probably only make sense to the small percentage of you who have facial hair. Specifically, facial hair on your upper lip, which some spell 'mustache' and others spell 'moustache.' I like the latter one, myself, but I think it's more a stylistic choice than anything else.

Kind of like facial hair.

I have what most people think of as a goatee, but the goatee is only the chin part; I have a Van Dyke.

No, it doesn't mean I trip over ottomans or have a really atrocious Cockney accent.

Anyhoo . . .

Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's everyone with hair on their upper lip. I sometimes have . . . issues. The kind of issues that people without hair residing directly under their nose probably won't really sympathize with.

I'll quit mincing around it: When I eat certain foods, I smell them for the rest of the day. There. I said it. No amount of rinsing in any temperature of water seems to get rid of these odors, and sometimes it's just not practical to shampoo your face at work. And even soap doesn't seem to solve the problem. Only a shower.

So I go around all day smelling the maddeningly enticing odor of maple syrup or butter. I don't know what it is about those two foods in particular, but they seem to be the only two that never die out, no matter when I eat them. I'll still be smelling them when I go to bed, even if I've washed my face a dozen times during the day.

This is why I don't eat waffles more often. Unless it's before my shower, of course. Waffles are my Van Dykryptonite.

My point in sharing this? I . . . don't have one. I just felt the desire to complain about something that annoys me, and LiveJournal beckoned. And I had corn on the cob with butter for lunch. Do the math.

Or maybe part of me is hoping other people will comment, "Oh, hey, I, too, possess a hirsute upper lip and experience similar problems."

Or maybe it was just to get the phrase "Van Dykryptonite" onto an unsuspecting Internet.

At any rate, I now return you to your regular Internet, already in progress.