Friday, May 31, 2002

Yesterday I actually went in to work. Tuesday and Wednesday I'd worked part of the day from home, but yesterday was my "triumphant return" to the office.

I was starting to tire out after about 2-1/2 hours, but the air conditioning felt so good that I stuck it out to three hours before heading home. Once home I spread out on the couch and watched K-PAX (loved it, great movie), then called in to participate in a meeting for another 1-1/2 hours.

Being able to take part in the meeting while lying on my back, shades drawn, fan on, was not so bad. I might try to do that more often, even after the excuse of surgery has passed.

Today I'll see if I can stick it out at the office to four hours - mostly for the air conditioning: It's been getting hotter than Hell here the last few days and this apartment is like a solar collector.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

So, you think some of the "patriotic" displays we've seen since September 11 are a bit on the cheesy, commercial side? (Such as the stickers in store windows showing a shopping bag made out of a US flag with the legend "US: Open for Business")

Well, the Egyptians have now reached a new height in cheesy political displays...

OK, so it's not as crass as the flag/shopping bag, but it's getting there, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

I actually worked today! I didn't leave the house (yet), or even get dressed (yet), but I did go to work. Through the miracle of the internet and the telephone I managed to put in about an hour and a half of work this morning, take a rest before I passed out, then do another hour and a half, including phoning in for a meeting.

I'm afraid this will also have to be the format for "working" tomorrow as well, but I'm still hopeful that I can get into the office - even for a short time - on Thursday.

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon I did manage to go outside. I got dressed and walked all the way up to the mailbox (at the front of the apartment complex) and back. When I got back in I was all feverish and sweaty and had to lie down for a 90 minute nap, but I did manage to make it outside. I'll try this again a little later this afternoon.

Tomorrow: Not only do I plan to try walking outside, but I might even try to drive around the block! (A necessary first step before driving to work).

Monday, May 27, 2002

A partial list of the videos I've watched over the last week of recovery from surgery (partial because I'm not sure I'll remember them all - I'm still on drugs, you'll recall). In no particular order:

SLC Punk (dated, but fun if you can relate to the date)
Badlands (still holds up after all these years)
Committed (better than expected, and got better as it went along, but slightly flawed nevertheless)
The Stunt Man (also still held up to my memories of way-back-when - Included the "bonus" DVD of "The Sinister Story of the Making of The Stunt Man")
Inherit the Wind (classic - Leslie's first time seeing it)
Ali (excellent!)
The Last Waltz (the greatest concert film of all time)

On the TV (selections from the dozens of hours watched):

Billy Madison (I admit it: Adam Sandler is funny - especially when you're on painkillers)
Sally, Ricki, and the final Rosie, but no Oprah
Lots of SNL reruns
Cops, People's Court, Judge Judy, and about a thousand other 'real' shows
The Weakest Link (Ed Begley, Jr. won)
and just now, the "M5" episode of Star Trek (I'm taking this as a sign that it's time for me to get off my ass and try to get back to work ASAP: Our new database system at work is called "M5" in honor of this episode).

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Still not much going on - Still sitting around, in a lot of pain. It's getting harder and harder to picture my being able to return to work on Tuesday, as originally planned, but I'm still hoping...

Meanwhile, I still can't believe that my brother is getting married today in Redondo Beach (Los Angeles). Of all the weekends to decide spontaneously to get married! One brother (younger brother: me) incapacitated, and the other (our middle brother) on a business trip to Japan!

But, I guess that's what spontaneity is all about. It wouldn't be eloping if you planned it all out according to everybody's schedules ahead of time. I'm just in shock that they'd plan it for a day when there's no way his brothers could be there.

I haven't had much restful sleep, and I'm taking a lot of pain killers, so maybe I'm just rambling and not thinking clearly. Please, excuse me if that's the case. But, I thought we were a close family, and that family was something that was valued by each of us - especially by Steve (the one getting married).

It's just out of character for him, not that he'd have a small, spur-of-the-moment wedding (that's in character), but that it would occur on a day when there's no way his brothers could be there.

Alright, I'll shut up now, go take another pill, and turn on the TV. Wake me up for lunch.

Friday, May 24, 2002

I just got off the phone with my brother, Steve (creator of Beneath Los Angeles). He wanted to know what I was doing on Sunday.

I replied that I hoped that by Sunday I'd be able to actually put on clothing, and step out the front door of my apartment for the first time since Tuesday. He wanted to know if I could make it as far as Los Angeles, and I replied with a laugh (and, yes, it does hurt when I laugh) that, no, I wouldn't be able to get down there, and what's going on?

It seems that he and his fiancée are tired of waiting and planning - They just decided to get married this Sunday. Sort of a semi-planned elopement. I am actually wondering if there's any way I can make it, but that's ridiculous. I'm still in a tremendous amount of pain, and not able to move easily. Two days is not going to be enough time for me to be ready to fly down to L.A., and I'm sure as hell not going to want to sit in a car for seven hours each way.

So, I wished them luck, and asked them to take lots of pictures. I can't believe I'm going to miss his wedding! This is just unreal. Maybe it didn't really happen? Maybe the drugs are making me hallucinate? I'll have Leslie call back and confirm that conversation when she gets home in a couple of hours.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Well, my life today is pretty much based on my relationship with the DVD player as I recuperate. Any details beyond that, and simply saying that recovery is progressing, would necessarily involve descriptions of activities that I'm sure you'd rather not read. (Such as, I'd never known that a bowel movement could be so painful, and yet such a relief at the same time. See, I told you you didn't want to read it!)

So, instead, here's the latest headlines: Groom Loses All Memory of Marriage (Yahoo! News) - There's a great story idea in here somewhere, but I'm a little too out of it today to figure out the proper angle...

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

I'm still alive - a bit loopy from the drugs - but alive. All went well yesterday and Leslie was able to drive me home at about 3:00 PM. I slept most of the afternoon, went down to watch TV around 6:00, then quickly fell asleep again and was back in bed by 9:30.

Over the last week I had compiled a list of questions to ask the doctor after the surgery regarding recovery - what to expect, what to do, what not to do, etc. While in the prep area, waiting to go into surgery, Leslie was showing the list to anybody she could; the nurse, the anesthesiologist. They all reassured us that my doctor would answer all that and more in the recovery room.

After being wheeled into the operating room I was pleased that the radio was on and playing "Funk 49" by the James Gang (early Joe Walsh). I was rocking out while the anesthesiologist hooked up my IV. He also told the others in attendance about my typed up list of questions.

One of the assistants asked what was on it. I explained that the most important thing was, "What can I eat, and when?" He asked what I wanted, and I replied bar-b-que, which led to an animated discussion among all present about where to go for BBQ locally, as they rolled me from the bed I came in on onto the operating table, face down. And that's about when the drugs hit.

All I remember about the surgery itself was a couple of times they asked about my pain level, but other than that I was completely (and thankfully) unaware of what they were doing back there.

When I woke up in the recovery room they offered me a couple of crackers and a can of Sprite to get things running again. Leslie had already had a long talk with my doctor about the list of questions, and had a stack of information for us to take home. Not too long after that (or so it seemed, it may have been more than an hour) they sent us home.

I went directly to bed and turned on the radio, which happened to be playing "Life's Been Good" by Joe Walsh (remember the radio in the operating room?). I took that as a good sign, and as adding a nice bit of symmetry to the experience.

And so, today, I'm a little loopy from the drugs, and a bit uncomfortable, but not in too much pain, and in a generally good mood.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

I'm a member of several Yahoo! Groups, including one called "Journal Inspirations." This morning, I found the following that a gentleman named Roy posted there yesterday:

> I am probably being a wimp but I am feeling much
> apprehension about my operation tomorrow. ...

Well, Roy, I'm right there with you in more ways than you can imagine. I found your message on Tuesday morning, in my last check of my Yahoo! Groups before going in for my own surgery today! I go in at 11:00 AM for a 12:30 scheduled slice-and-dice. The operation is supposed to take about an hour, and they expect to be able to send me home by around 3:00 PM.

My apprehension is not so much about the operation, as about the recovery. The operation is the easy part - I'll be heavily sedated. It's the next week (or more) of sitting around popping pain pills, watching TV, and kicking myself for not having the energy or concentration to be working on a new book that's got me upset.

What will be happening here, in just a few short hours, is my colon will have a small piece cut out of the wall to remove some obstructions that have been bleeding. Not a pretty picture, but it's low enough down that it's not that serious of a procedure (from the doctor's point of view). Without getting into too much nauseating detail, you can imagine that one of the things I'm apprehensive of is how painful it's going to be to eliminate waste product (is that tasteful) if and when I'm able to eat.

Elimination is also one of the signs that I'm ready to leave the surgical center today. After surgery (which will take an hour) I'll be allowed to go home once I'm a) fully conscious, and b) able to pee. That they're concerned that I might not be able to pee is also a potential worry of mine.

Anyway, Roy, I hope both of us emerge today with few scars. It's good to know that we won't be alone, but suffering (and popping pills) together. This was not the type of "Journal Inspiration" that I usually expect to find in this group, but it certainly was timely.

All the best,

- Ken

Monday, May 20, 2002

The rain yesterday changed our plans for a hike in the mountains. We did go to the wine tasting (slightly disappointing, considering their usual quality), but then spent much of the day in a book a shop, and in front of the TV.

Today it's raining again, which doesn't thrill me, as I've got to go to San Francisco this afternoon. The sun is expected to make a return tomorrow, but I'll miss it as the doctors perform their slice and dice in my colon.

Tonight: The final episode of Allie McBeal. I'm so happy about that. This is a show I wasn't wild about to begin with, but somehow got hooked in. When I began watching it, it was for all the other characters - Calista Flockhart really annoyed me.

Then, last year, when Robert Downey, Jr., was on, it really brought out the best in Calista. I believe Downey actually taught her how to act. This year, however, the show has been truly reaching - "jumping the shark" as they say - and I'm ready for it to end.

Yes, I'm weak: I know I could stop watching anytime, but as I said, I'm hooked. I need the final episode to air before my Monday nights can be my own again to with as I please.

Tonight, we shall raise a glass to Allie McBeal, we shall enjoy a glass of fine wine (or a rich port, or maybe even some single-malt Scotch...) and toast to the end of the show. Then try to sleep knowing that surgery comes tomorrow...

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Sorry, I was forced to be away from the blog for a few days, as my ISP wasn't letting me online. Now, with new dial-up numbers entered into my PPP control panel, I'm back - But I forgot what it was I wanted to post while I was gone...

I'm getting a little nervous about the surgery on Tuesday, but not too bad. It should be fairly easy, as these things go, and not too much danger of anything going wrong. It's more the week (or more) of severe pain following the surgery that's got me concerned.

My doctor told me one week's recovery before I should go back to work. Looking it up on, however, gives me an answer of two to three weeks recovery. What I told the folks at work is that I'll be back on May 28th (after one week), but don't expect much out of me until June 3rd.

I'm more not looking forward to Monday. I've got about fifteen hours of work to cram into that last day before I go out - and that's after working overtime several days last week.

Meanwhile, we're trying to enjoy the weekend as much as possible. We walked for hours yesterday, enjoying the nice spring day, then went over the hill to Santa Cruz for dinner on the pier. Today we'll be going to an invitation-only tasting at one of our favorite wineries, and maybe doing some hiking in the mountains.

Book note: I just found out this morning that my book, Aaron's Intifada and Other Short Stories, is available from Walmart!

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

"They're like poodle dogs. You don't know how much meat there is until you shave off all the hair."

I was at dinner last night with some people from work, and one of our board members who was there used those words to describe community foundations. He'd prefer that quote remain anonymous.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Moderate Quake Hits San Francisco, Little Damage. The headline, of course, is a lie. The quake hit Gilroy, which is just outside of San Jose. But, we know that the media believe the rest of America is too dumb to know that there's more to California than just Los Angeles and San Francisco.

As the quake hit last night, the ten o'clock news was just beginning. Leslie and sat, holding each other, waiting for the rocking to stop as the opening theme music faded into the "Good evening" of the anchor. We naively expected that the lead story would be dropped for a moment for the anchor to say, "Yes, that was an earthquake you just felt." But, in San Francisco, where the TV station is located, they hadn't yet felt the temblor.

It took another ten minutes for them to make an announcement about the quake, following which they went to their reporters in the field - in San Francisco - to see what had happened. Not much, according to the folks up there who were barely aware that it had happened. It took another ten minutes for them to talk to folks in the South Bay, who could really talk about what the shaker felt like.

So, the prejudice towards favoring SF (and shunning San Jose) is not just a problem of the national media. It's only a reflection of our own local media, that feels that only SF is "The City" and the rest of us live in the sticks. During the height of the digital revolution, coverage could talk about the geographically non-existent Silicon Valley. But now that the magic has worn off, we're back to being San Jose, and an unimportant part of the story. Oh, well.

Anyway, we survived the quake, although we were a bit nervous about this building surviving it.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

Sixty years later, an apology to Japanese-American resisters - (Yahoo! News)

This was one of the most important, and nearly overlooked, headlines of this Mother's Day weekend. Mention of the internment of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast during World War II is still a touchy subject, avoided by most Americans (many are are completely unaware). This headline hits on a particularly difficult episode of that internment - one that has caused a rift within the Japanese-American community for sixty years.

To briefly summarize the conflict, despite being rounded up by the government, being evacuated to concentration camps, and having their civil rights stripped from them, the need for more soldiers to fight WWII led the U.S. government to draft Japanese-Americans from the camps. The "official" Japanese-American community outside the camps (led by the JACL) approved of this plan as means of showing that Japanese can be loyal American citizens.

Within the camps, however, the irony was too much to bear; being drafted out of a prison where one had lost their citizenship in order to fight in segregated units to preserve "democracy." To top it off, the draft papers received listed the young men as "hostile aliens." And so, a couple of thousand brave men resisted the draft.

Their point was not that they were unwilling to ever fight for this, their country, but that they would only do so once their full citizenship had been restored. They would not fight as "hostile aliens;" they would fight as Americans. About 300 men were tried on sedition charges and moved from the internment camps to Federal penitentiaries.

Shortly after the war they were all pardoned by Harry S Truman, but they were not welcomed back into their communities. Led by the JACL, the Japanese-Americans shunned the resisters. They found it hard to get work, their old friends and relatives refused to speak to them, and within their community they were still labeled as traitors, until just yesterday.

In a recent documentary I saw about this situation on KQED, the public television station here, one woman who left the camps as a teenager described her return to Southern California like this, "We came as if we were new immigrants to the city where I was born." Yesterday, her family was welcomed home.

Friday, May 10, 2002

"The fearless are merely fearless. People who act in spite of their fear are truly brave."
--James A. LaFond-Lewis

That's an interesting quote, and quite true. It does not take any great feat of bravery to do something of which you have no fear. It's so obvious, that it barely warrants such a grand quote.

But here's the follow-up point that this made me think of this morning: You can only be brave once in each situation. The first time you face down a fear, you are brave. Once you've done it, once you've succeeded, you've hopefully conquered the fear. The next time you are faced with the situation, you should merely be fearless.

Am I making any sense? I'm very tired. Yesterday was one of those really long work days on absolutely no sleep. I think I need to get some rest this weekend.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

"The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything."
-- Goethe

I guess I'm not very sensible, but that comes as no surprise. I've never based my major life decisions on what would be the "sensible" thing to do - it's always got to be what is in line with my heart (which is well known to be anything but sensible).

These decisions are also often colored by my feeling that most of what passes for sensible is not much more than a load of pure bull shit, which, I suppose, could be cleaned up to the more polite "ridiculous."

But, does simply saying I find almost everything ridiculous, and that I'm not very sensible, prove the first statement? Does that mean I automatically qualify as intelligent? Sorry, but that sounds like more ridiculous BS.

Monday, May 06, 2002

I'm warning you right off the top, I may not be posting every day this week. First off, because of my upcoming surgery, I've got to have all my work for the month done by the 17th - and I've got a lot on my schedule for May. Secondly, one of those things is a conference coming up this Thursday that I'm second in charge of. This will probably be a week (or two) of going in early, and staying a bit late.

On top of my impending craziness, is that Lesie's got to do her final paper for a night class she's been taking, and it's also due on Thursday. And if she's got to do a paper, that usually means I've got to do it as well. So, have a good week, and I'll see you again - hopefully before Saturday...

Sunday, May 05, 2002

Church officials allege Bethlehem cover-up (Jerusalem Post) - An interesting look inside the Church of the Nativity, and the controversy over whether or not the Christian clergy inside are there voluntarily, or as hostages of the Palestinians.

The truth, of course, is neither black nor white, and far less clear than either side would want anybody to believe. Yes, some are there to support the Palestinians, but others are simply afraid to speak out against them, for fear of violent reprisals. The clergy inside are, after all, individuals and, even more to the point, human.

Saturday, May 04, 2002

Early intercourse and self-esteem linked in adolescent behavior

According to a study by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Self-esteem plays an apparent role in the loss of virginity among adolescents.

Interesting difference: Self-esteem had an opposite effects on young girls and young boys. Young girls with high self-esteem were less likely to engage in early sexual activity, while young boys with high self-esteem were more likely to report being sexually active. The study also showed that the level of self-esteem did not change in males or females following the loss of virginity.

Lesson to parents: Work to boost your daughter's self-esteem, and to lower your son's.

Friday, May 03, 2002

I am quite illiterate, but I read a lot.
-- J.D. Salinger

Start a huge foolish project, like Noah.
-- Rumi

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Remember last week when I was all happy about posting that I was out of debt? That, apparently, was a curse. We're back in debt, at least temporarily.

Leslie's car had a major breakdown (why I was away from the computer yesterday) that involved a repair bill of $2196.

Well, no credit card debt was fun for the week that it lasted, and we'll hopefully be able to pay that off pretty quick. It's just not been that fun of a week: first I schedule surgery, then expensive car repairs... I just can't wait to see what joy today brings...

"A man's worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes."
-- T. H. Huxley

Twitter Feed