Sunday, September 23, 2007

Live and Learn

Hi folks. It's been a long, long week. I had forgotten how hard it was to be a caretaker to an ill person. I've been living with my father-in-law the past week, until he had to be admitted into the hospital early Wednesday morning.

He's very sick with lung cancer that has spread to his liver. He is being treated at a Veterans Administration Hospital, normally, but this emergency admission was to another, non-VA hospital. At the new hospital, the medical staff began pushing hospice and hospice care. In my father-in-law's mind, that meant being sent somewhere to die. What he made very clear to me in the days since, is that he is not ready to give up, he does not want "to be made comfortable until the time comes." He wants to keep fighting, so he wants to be transferred back to the VA hospital. The doctor there is willing to keep treating him as if they can cure it, and my father-in-law wants to go that route. I told him that I would honor his wish, and would fight for him to keep fighting, but that if or when the time came when he was ready to stop fighting, he would have to tell me just as clearly. He understood, I understood.

Should be cut and dry, right? Let me tell you, that situation is horrible. Everyone around him wants him to accept the inevitable (medical staff, that is), but he wants to keep the war going. And I will honor that, and have his back no matter what. This man, as some of you might remember, was going to be taken off life-support in May of 2006, yet here he is today.

As long as he is of sound mind, HE will decide whether his quality of life is such that he wants to live on. And I will support him.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Taking A Chance

Could I be so bold as to offer a little advice, or at least a suggestion?

I spent the day with my Father-in-Law yesterday. He needed to be in the hospital to receive his chemotherapy treatment. We talked a lot, hung out for a while.

One thing I have learned with illness is that there is an enemy out there just as powerful as the diseases themselves. Loneliness seems inherent to debilitating illness. But I think we're all somewhat aware of that, so without adding a whole lot of philosophy here, let me just get to the point.

If someone in your life is ill, someone you know is hurting, be there. Really, really be there. I saw a few people in the medical center who were brought there by transportation provided by the medical center. They had no one there with them, no one to take them home. I spoke to one gentleman who started a conversation about "Ensure", and then revealed a lot of things that just showed how lonely he is.

When you look at my day, all I did was drive to my father-in-law's home, take him to the hospital, hang out with him and bring him home. We watched some of the Yankee game together, but that was it. All it cost me was some time, but this man expressed his gratitude so many times, I got the point.

So, if you think you should call, call. Make a point to offer to help, and then do it. If you think you're bothering them, do it anyway.

This isn't just me talking like an advice columnist or something. I have a little experience in the area. I was disabled for months, to the point where I was literally lying in bed for days. And I can tell you that nothing that happened to my body was anywhere near as painful as the feeling of being abandoned. In my case, there was some good to it, as people I expected to be there sure let me down, but people I'd have never guessed, came through in a big way.

This is more for the people who are just abandoned. Who haven't gotten the "surprise" of the unexpected people yet. I can tell you that the slightest gesture matters. Make sure that those folks don't have to wonder if they count. Tell them they do. And, from experience, I can tell you this doesn't involve gifts, or money, or anything spectacular. The only investment you have to make is time.

Think about it a minute, and then do it, OK?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


A lot going on today. I got this notice from the DMV that my car insurance lapsed, and that I'd better get my ass to the DMV and prove that I had insurance, or they'd do awful things, and the Death Penalty might apply. So, I did what any person would do. I called my children to tell them goodbye, and that I loved them. I got my First Aid Kit, strapped on the body armor and riot helmet, and headed out.


I wound up in a Motor Vehicle office in Eatontown NJ. I highly recommend the place. They were nice to me, there was handicapped parking within a mile of the building, and I was there less than an hour. I actually got to smile once or twice. These people were terrifically nice. I hate to take a chance by identifying the location because I'm sure if the State folks read this, they'll get right over there to straighten those folks out. And, get this: I straightened out the insurance mess by presenting my insurance card and license, and when she was done, the Lady there suggested that I get over to the License window and renew my license. There was NO one on line, and she said that I could renew now, even though I wasn't due till Novemeber. All that, in less than an hour. My car was still in the lot when I went out, so how cool was all this?

My good mood led me to stop and treat myself to my Evil Meal of The Week. I hit a Diner I used to frequent years ago, and decided on a Bacon Cheeseburger Deluxe to go. When I got home, it appeared that the "Bacon" of the "bacon cheeseburger" had actually gone through the grill on stilts, but raw bacon wasn't going to spoil this day. Thank God for garbage cans.

This evening I am requested to attend the PTA meeting at my daughter's new high school. That's part of the deal she and I have: she puts the effort and enthusiasm into her schooling, I'll be an extremely involved Dad on the PTA. She's doing it, so I'm doing it. Only catch is, the drive to and from the school is just under 60 miles round-trip. All together now: "DUMB!"

Hey, we do what we have to. This good mood may carry over for weeks, who knows!

Looking Forward

It's strange sometimes, how history repeats itself. Six years ago on this date and time, I was pretty much doing the same thing: being awake at an ungodly time, sitting around thinking.

I took stock of my life in the days after September 11th, 2001. I decided that my life needed a lot of work, in that I hadn't done very much for people in the years prior to that day. I'd very much gotten caught up in my Wall Street life, as I was beginning to enjoy (financially-never a good thing) the fruits of my labors, which in turn, led to a very selfish lifestyle.

I had a grandiose vision of my life, post-September 11. I was going to touch lives, help others, and really make my life matter. I was a good father, but there was plenty of room for improvement there as well. Oh this was the stuff of heroic literature. I was going to find, and fix, as many people's problems as I could. I was set to go.

So, what happened?

Well I'm happy to report that my relationships with my children are better than ever. And I did do a couple of things that "mattered", but...

I think with the exception of two people in particular, I haven't done very well in the "make my life matter" scheme. The past couple of years have seen some very misguided, if well-intentioned, efforts to make a difference in people's lives. I've seen my efforts to be kind and generous spent on the wrong people. As a result, I've had quite a few selfish, greedy people embed themselves into my life. My desire to "give" fed right into their greed, and I wasn't smart enough to see it. But as my entry from the other day proved, I've reached my limits of tolerance now. And that's not a good thing.

Someone told me that life is a series of second chances. I hope so. I've spent a lot of time the last week or two, reformulating my life plan. I intend to make my life matter if it kills me, only now I'm going to do it the right way, without any aspirations for glitz and glamour, or fanfare. I think I can fix this, I just needed to clear my vision.

Wish me luck, ok?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Recollections of 9.11.01

I have shared my recollections of September 11th, 2001, for a few years on an AOL Journal. That forum can no longer be trusted (my journal was lost now for the 2nd time), so I decided to post it on my own webspace.

Just a note, it's a long story, so I decided not to post it here in the Blog main page. If you'd like to read it, it can be found here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Oh No Oreo

I have a little problem.

I am an Oreo nut. I love all things Oreo...cookies, ice cream, topping for ice cream. I'm convinced that if Nabisco made Oreo's that you could wear, I'd have my style all figured out. I love all the varieties, white, brown, mint, DoubleStuf, you name it.

That, however, is not the problem.

The problem is, I made room in my pantry for the new product pictured above. I saw the new box in the store, I purchased new box from store. Brought box home, opened it, poured milk, sat down and took bite.

So the problem?

I don't love them. There were no moans of ecstasy. Remember, now, that I am watching the old weight here, and this was one of those "non-denial" treats I allow myself now and then, so those are valuable.

I think I was actually annoyed there for a moment. The Cakesters are ok. But OreoThings aren't supposed to be "OK". They are supposed to be so good that people punch me to make me stop talking about how good they are.

Two disappointments here today. Britney Spears stunk it up on the VMA's last night, and Oreo Cakesters are not going to become an addiction for me.

(insert *whine* here)

Grab Your Tissues...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Step (rather loud) In the Right Direction

I read something in my friend's journal. Something that happened with her happened with me, and it felt so good reading hers, that I wanted to write about mine.

I have been a major a*hole the last few days. It's not behavior I am comfortable with, but I have deduced that it's something that is going to be necessary to survive any longer. We're all familiar with the "Golden Rule", and the concept of "live and let live." Well, that's all true. You are very much free to do what you want, but guess what? So am I.

It started with a favor. A buddy of mine asked me for some advice on beginning a pension plan for his group. I know a little about that sort of stuff. I set up a meeting with a gentleman who could offer ideas and sell us products to finance such a plan. And so we met.

He introduced himself. Then he took a phone call. He then took out some brochures and handed them to me. Then he took a cell phone call. I asked him about a particular annuity product when he hung up. He began to discuss the offerings from that company, and interrupted that discussion to take a phone call. I stood up and left. Screw that. This isn't some little old lady looking to buy a $5 annuity. We're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. You take your phone calls, dude. We're not that important.

The next consultant I met with was a mid-20's young woman. She seemed knowledgeable, but we had a problem. She was talking in a voice that I usually hear from people in bed with each other. I asked her to speak up, and speak clearly. Hell, if you want to seduce me, let's get the work done and talk about that later. In the meantime, spit the damned marbles out of your mouth. That didn't go so well.

I was working with another group this morning, when the cell phone reared its ugly head. I volunteered to supply the working group with a round of Starbucks. I don't drink anything from the place myself, but I know people like it, and nothing can start the motivation process like giving folks what they want.

The Scene: local Starbucks. I'm on line behind Busy Guy. It's Saturday morning, but this guy is so swamped that he can't take two minutes out of his cellphone day to order a coffee? He's blabbering away, loud and clear. I'm behind him thinking about all the joyful places I could ram the cell phone. He gets to the front of the line, Counter Guy asks what he can get for him. Busy guy holds up the "just a minute, I'm on the phone" finger. Counter Guy deep-breaths it, looks at me and says, "What can I get you?

I had a large order. Busy Guy had to wait. I think Counter guy and I made a good team.

But the event I shared with my friend's journal took place last night. I was speaking to a woman I'm friends with. She's planning a big party/get-together. We were just going over schedules, etc., and what I could do to help.

Now along comes Ms Muffet. She interrupts, begins speaking as if no one is there. She then positions herself between the Woman Friend and me, with her back to me. Message? Sorry, Mr. Stupid, I'm more important than you.

Message Rebuttal? (Spoken out loud, incidentally, as I stepped back to where I was speaking) "Yeah, now there are three of us here that know you are an asshole. Next time, try some manners, Lady. Wait till I'm done." That worked, although it didn't make me popular with her. Made Woman Friend giggle though. Ms Muffet left.

And the closer...

My group of friends decided it was time for a group dinner. We've been putting it off too long, so we're going for it tonight. One of the group, a rather large pain in the ass, incidentally, voiced her opposition to our choice of restaurants. She recently joined the Vegetarian Movement with some other friends of her, and said, "Well, hey, I'm a Vegetarian."

I said, "Then order a salad."

She didn't like that too much and began to argue her point. I simply said, "Don't go. If I decide to join your group of Vegans for dinner, are you all going to agree to a steakhouse because I'm a carnivore? I don't think so."

That didn't make me her favorite, but hey, some things are still Democracies. Like friendships. Majority rules. Exercise your right to choice, but in this case, your choice to make alternate plans. We like meat, we're eating meat. Next time, ask a little more politely, perhaps? It's your choice to be a vegetarian. Not ours.

So yah, some other new rules going into effect, starting now.

  • If you only know my phone number when you need something, forget my phone number. The Service is closed.

  • If you enjoy being rude, I can be more rude. I'm bigger and louder (I yell for a living), so be ready if you bring it.

  • Remember that not every reaction is "equal and opposite". Sometimes it's a lot worse than you planned on. I no longer have anything to lose. Being decent doesn't have a place in the world anymore. I learned that. I get it. I'm on it.

Like I said, you're free to do whatever you want to. But it works both ways. And like a dog who's gotten a taste for blood, I'm no longer gonna be too predictable. It's a whole new world out there, and I just caught up.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I had a chuckle the other day when CBS 880AM, a local news radio station, headlined a story about Apple with "iNuts, your leader has spoken!"

Steve Jobs held a conference to celebrate the release of the new iPod Nano, which is pretty cool, considering. It offers video playback along with music, and it's smaller than ever.

These things have more storage and features, plus they get smaller and thinner, every time Apple releases a new edition. It's incredible. I have one of the original iPods, and it's now the equivalent of the Model T Ford. I almost feel burdened, carrying around my 2 or 3 oz antiquity.

Just as there's a thing called terminal velocity, I figure there has to be a point where these iPods can't get any smaller or thinner, though. I mean, eventually, the thing would be so small, or so thin, that you wouldn't even know if you were holding it. And for people like me, that's not a good thing...

"Hey, Stup, got your iPod?"

"I dunno!"

Between then and now, there's room for lots of possibilities. Think about it! Thinner, thinner, smaller, and smaller...

  • The iPod "News"- so small and thin that it could be incorporated right into the pages of your daily newspaper. Of course, that only works if we still print newspapers at the time.

  • The iPod "Stamp"- slap a little glue on the back, and make it a recorder. People could record their letters instead of writing them, and stick 'em right to the envelope!

  • The iPod "Tissue"- a player so thin you could blow your nose into it. Or, put a whole bunch of them on a roll, and put 'em in the bathroom. Listen to a couple of tunes, then, well, you know.

Ahh, yes, the possibilities.

I'm kind of loving my old Model T iPod for the moment though. I use it mostly when I drive, plug it right into the car sound system and all, and I know none of us wants a Stupid watching videos while he drives, so it's the status quo for the time being.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Imagine you have a contractor come and install a nice, new front door on your home.

Now imagine, as soon as the door is installed, you close it. Only now, that makes all the windows fall out.

So you replace the windows. All done. Except now, you open them up, and the roof flies off. You set out and replace the roof, except when you're done, the roof is heavy and all the walls cave in.

See the trend?

That's kind of what it's like to deal with Comcast. The Customer Reps are very nice, and they work hard to keep the issues taken care of. But, every time one person fixes something, something else breaks.


Oh Now How Does That Happen?

Part of my Life After Exam yesterday included an Applebee's lunch with my kids. Their town has a pretty sizeable outdoor mall where the restaurant is located.

When we came out of the restaurant, we saw that there had been a pretty serious 3-car collision. HOW DO YOU HAVE A 3-CAR COLLISION IN A PARKING LOT?

Apparently, the cars came to a 4-way stop from 3 different directions. And nobody stopped. And from the looks of the damage, they were moving pretty quickly. Why? Was it those Labor Day Sales? Are they that important?



It was nice to know that the world hadn't gotten any less crazy while I was a hermit those four months.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

1 Down, 1 To Go

Just have to share some news...

After 4 months of torture, including a mostly-lost Summer, I took my Exam this morning.

I passed.

I passed...

I passed!

ok one more...I PASSED!

I now have the Securities license I need. Today I picked up the Series 14, NYSE Compliance Official License.

I am feeling very happy and very cool for the moment.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Sometimes you just know someone is having a worse day than you are. And sometimes you know people have Chaos as a permanent houseguest, even when you're not acquainted with them. It just speaks for itself.

I was walking across a parking lot when something caught my ear. It was a lovely combination of sounds, and I followed the cacophony to its source.

Green minivan, about 100 feet over. I see a man and woman with a full shopping cart, and full hands. Dog barking furiously from inside the van, little girl screaming and chasing a little boy around the van. Father opens the rear hatch. Next thing Mom is chasing papers that have caught in the wind. Father is yelling at kids, and trying to transfer the goods from the shopping cart. Dog continues to bark, Father corrals kids who get into van. Sounds of continued kid-arguments from within. Mother still chasing one sheet of paper that continues to evade. He's now trying to rearrange van contents, soccer chair, cooler, large blanket. It's just awful.

Civic-minded Stupid wants to help; Compassionate Stupid knows not to, no sense making things worse.

Suddenly, food-shopping didn't seem so bad.