After my sister Hope had a harrowing and nearly life-ending medical episode lasting from Christmas to March, she resolved that the whole family should get together.  She elected to hold this at York Beach, Maine.

Now, York Beach is your typical beach town. Lots of overpriced goods, expensive restaurants, family amusements and speed traps. (15 MPH over the limit, $230. I'm not bitter, really.) Other than being located in Maine and the water being hypothermia-inducingly cold, you could plop it down in any state from New Hampshire to Florida and the only way you would be able to tell would be the accent.

This is the coast north of Short Sands. The Union Bluff Hotel has been in business since 1868. Real estate along the Maine coast is just as crazy as anywhere else along the coast.  Every building there probably goes for over a million.

Here's a view of the Atlantic from Short Sands. This actually is east of northeast since short sands is on the north side of Nubble Point, a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic.
Short Sands looking east southeast toward Nubble Point. More million dollar houses.
An attempt to view the sunrise from Long Sands, south of Nubble Point. The back of my sister Ellen's head in the foreground. Our attempt was frustrated by "haze". I don't care what the National Weather Service says, that's fog.
Rats with wings, naval division.
A squadron of naval rats with wings. Short Sands again, looking east northeast at fog.
Ray Conrad 6dedited
The Union Bluff Hotel and north coast in fog.
IHNJH, IJLS "Nubble."
If you like 'Nubble', the name of the river separating Portsmouth, NH from Kittery, ME is 'Pisquataqua'.
...which just HAS to be said with the Beavis Voice.

Are you threatening me?
I appreciate what you mean re: 'drop it anywhere along the coast' but I've gotta say that I love Maine. In fact, you were only about 1.25 hours from my Grandfather's place.

I mean, where else can you go to find mosquitoes that eat dogs whole? (I'm hoping they - and the horse flies) were less of an issue there on the coast.)

I'm being snarky, but I do love it. The nature of the rocky coast, the pines, and just the general mojo are pretty good in my mind.

Hoping your vacay wasn't exclusively 'haze' and rats with wings! (And sorry to hear about the reason for the get together in the first place.)
With the offshore breeze the blood buzzards weren't too bad until after nightfall. Sitting around the fire pit I got 'et alive. And since New England is having an outbreak of Easter Equine Encephalitis, it's a bit concerning. Horseflies weren't an issue.

The weather was amazing, highs near 80, lows in the high 50s. The day I left thunderstorms rolled in, but hey, that's a concern for the people who stayed.
Easter equine encephalitis

She makes me see

Easter equine encephalitis

She's so good to me
EasterN, oops.
You can take comfort in the fact that all those "million dollar homes" will be worth bupkiss once the oceans rise a little more.
The ones on Nubble Point are about 40 feet above high tide, so, it's gonna take a while.

We look back at the Apollo 11 mission and see a triumph of human will, technology and daring. But at the time there was a chance that it would all end in disaster. Setting aside the prior Apollo 1 deaths of three astronauts, Gus Grissom, Roger White and Ed Chaffee, in a "plugs out test" of the Saturn V rocket and the Apollo Command and Service Modules. There was a single, critical piece of equipment that could not be tested until it was time to use it. Specifically, the Lunar Excursion Module's ascent engine. The LEM descended with a more powerful engine on it's descent stage. But rather that tow all the weight of the descent stage, NASA engineers decided to leave it behind and only ascend to rendezvous with the Command and Service modules with a much lighter ascent stage carrying the astronauts and the moon rock samples.

Of course, Murphy also had to intervene. In the tight confines of the LEM, either Aldrin or Armstrong's life support pack broke off the push button that would activate the ascent engine. Aldrin used a pen nib to push the button and the engine activated, but I can't help but imagine that the atmosphere in the LEM was pretty tense as they approached lunar liftoff.

Tension in the White House was also pretty high. As William Safire wrote this speech for President Nixon to read;


Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dare to send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern time, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

Heavy stuff. A pen nib. I love it.

Did you read that white-knuckle article in Wired about the Apollo 11 error messages of doom? It is a brilliant read. The last paragraph or two was also neat, serving as a who's who of "who went on to do what." (It'll make sense when you read it.)
I did read that article. Only nerds would find it horrifying. Fortunately, I'm a nerd. Imagine the first moon landing nearly borked by user error.
Both you and Jill might be interested in listening to this. It's an audio drama/ audio fiction podcast episode speculating about what it would have been like to be on Apollo 11, had everything gone Tango United.

Just wanted to take a second to report how happy I am that I left Farcebook. Yes, I miss social anouncements. But word of events generally reaches me, given time. And I don't have to waste processing cycles and emotional energy on the latest trauma du jour, real or imagined.

In general, I've been happier not knowing about the minutiae of my peer group's lives.

That is all.

Yes. Yes yes yes yes. I don't miss it at all. It's so nice not knowing about stuff.

It's frustrating that I am forced to keep a personal FB account just so I can administer our Hot Breakfast page, but I administer it via the Pages app so I never have a reason to go to anyplace other than our page.

I read an article in the NY Times this morning how FB is building a new cryptocurrency. Yeah, I want a company with the world's shittiest privacy practices issuing my money. Hard hard pass.
Same. I passively wait to see what happens to FB eventually.
Karen 7/3edited

Spare a thought or raise a glass to absent companions for all of the men who waded ashore or jumped into Normandy 75 years ago. A mere tithe of them are left to tell the stories of that day.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 

At the going down of the sun and in the morning 

We will remember them.

Lawrence Binyon, ​​​​​​​For the Fallen

I just posted about this myself. Feeling big feels today.
It's too immense to wrap your head around. All the deaths and all the years that have passed. These same men and women built the world I grew up in.

So, I had carpal tunnel surgery on my left hand 3/8. Two weeks later, I got the stitches out and my hand looked like a gutted fish. Recuperated for two weeks and then got the same surgery on my right hand on 4/10. Two weeks later, I got the stitches out and my right hand looked like a gutted fish.

In between, my old roommate, Rick Desautels died of a respiratory infection.

We had been pals and roommates for ten years, during our desperate twenties and into our thirties. He had survived two bouts of chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A third roommate, Bernie Lisewski, committed suicide in 2003. We reunited at his memorial service to scatter his ashes. The last time I saw him was in 2004, when I was returning from vacation in Charleston, SC. I stopped in Raleigh and hung out with him for a day. We lost touch after that. In those missing years, he went through another round of chemotherapy. Each successive round took a toll on his heart and lungs. His doctor had recently told him that he had the lungs of an eighty-year old man.

Rick never had a big footprint on the internet. I searched for him from time to time over the years. The only thing I ever found was an arrest record for possession of a weapon of mass destruction. I was only a little surprised and surprisingly proud. (It wasn’t a weapon of mass destruction. It was a training model of an AT-4 rocket propelled grenade.)

In between the time I knew him and his passing he became a staple at a burlesque theater in Raleigh. He would hold down the stage or work the door. He armed the dancers with pepper spray, walked them to their cars, controlled the odd drunk or handsy audience member and generally made himself an invaluable member of the community.

Rick, or as he was known and loved by the burlesque and nerd community in Raleigh, Lord War Bunny, had a massively irreverent sense of humor. He enjoyed tilting at windmills and his lance was humor. Sarcasm was his super power.

His brother Chris described him as a man of intense passion and little ambition. But what Rick cared about most was people. He wanted people to be safe. He might grumble about it, but he’d walk the girls to their cars and make sure they weren’t hassled by the patrons. Even if they’d have to stop for him to catch his breath on the way there. At his memorial the celebrants described how when they entered a new venue for a game, a convention or a performance if they looked around and spotted Lord War Bunny, they knew that was their safe place.

The celebrants at the mundane memorial and the memorial held by the burlesque community for him described how they’d hear that Bunny was in the hospital. And at the next show he’d be standing there next to the stage. His quiet presence reassuring them that everything was okay and nothing was going to go wrong. And it didn’t.

Good job, buddy. You’ve earned your rest. I’ll be along someday. Make sure you save me a seat.

Holy lord. It's the understatement of the year to say that this has been a very rough patch for you. I'm lousy with comforting words, but please know that I love you very much and would be honored to be a sounding board for you... or just to be a friend where you can sit quietly with no obligation to talk.

72 hours post carpal tunnel surgery. Pain was higher than advertised. I know this next comment is going to make me sound like a bastard, but I'm in pain. And thanks all you fuckwits who can't control your addictions. Because of you I can't be pain free after they cut on me.

So, carpal tunnel surgery increases the difficulty of doing anything by 100% and increases carpal tunnel pain by 100x. Even small movements are agonizing, with pain shooting up and down my arm. And this is only the left arm. I'm getting by, but I'm right handed, so next month is looking like a shit sandwich.

Getting old ain't for sissies.

Holy shit, I had no idea you just got chopped! I'm so sorry! Of course, had I known it was on your agenda, I would have told you "hey, it's easy peasy" because my dad's was... so I *really* wouldn't have been helpful at all. Shit. I'm so sorry you're having such an awful time right now. You're not a wuss. If you're hurting, you're HURTING.

Are you allowed to call your doc and tell them your pain is beyond what Ibuprofen/Tylenol/whatever they told you to do/prayer/meditation can control? They err on the side of caution by not just giving out a narcotic scrip my default, but my understanding is that they will prescribe a small amount if it's needed.

And yes-- I am with you a billion-fold: Eff the fentanyl-producing/dealing assholes who have now prevented even *cancer patients* from receiving pain meds for fear of a damn DEA raid. It is BULLSHIT. Being a hematology patient, I'm often lumped in with cancer patients, so I'm on a bunch of hematology/oncology listservs and message boards that both doctors and patients participate in. It's staggering to see how much fear and damage this "opioid-epidemic" has caused because politicians decided to tell doctors how to practice medicine and invented arbitrary dosage and prescription limits. Friggin' *cancer patients* are having their pain med prescriptions titrated down or terminated because of these hideous and inhumane rules.

We have a Chinese fentanyl problem, not a 5mg prescription vicodin post-surgery problem for fucksake.

I'm so, so sorry you're hurting, especially this much after 72 hours. Please let me know if we can go to the store for you, walk some doggos, etc.
Thanks. Pain is down a bunch, most pins and needles unless I forget and try to use the hand for balance. Hilariously, I'm relegated to wearing sweat shorts. Long pants cannot be pulled up and belts cannot be fastened like this. Glad the weather isn't 20 degrees any longer.

They pumped me full of IV antibiotics and slathered me down with antibiotic cream, but I have to leave the bandage undisturbed for 17 days. It's gonna be a real stink-o-rama by the time they take the bandage off and take out the stitches.

I have zero tolerance for these new drug rules. I can get tramadol for my dog easier than I can get a prescription for me. And tramadol is nowhere near vicodin or even tylenol-3 FFS!
Oh man. I just wrote this huge reply and I accidentally closed the browser window and it went kablooey. Anyway!

I'm really happy to hear things are subsiding a bit, painwise... but no dressing change for 17 days?! What the heck is that?

Anyway, it's so strange to compare your experience to my dad's. I was there in northern NJ with him for the whole thing, and some of the differences in approach seem funky to me.

Like, 30 mins after we got back from his surgery he was making himself an omelette with his new hand (cockily, thanks the anesthesia... which didn't last long, and he was appropriately babying it after the remaining local anesthesia wore off.) His pain was the worst (but definitely not crazy) on days 2-3, and after that it got markedly better quickly.

Pain-med-wise, they tried giving him to a 3-day vicodin scrip which he refused, to their puzzlement. He believes all of the opioid panic he reads and is convinced he'll go from taking one vicodin post-surgery to shooting up heroin in a walmart bathroom in 30 seconds. But he said he really didn't need anything beyond Advil/Tylenol, and one ancient Tylenol 3 he had laying around.

We went back to the doc's office 3 days later for a post-op visit so they could take the dressing off and check him out. They put on a different, lighter, looser, fresh dressing, and he could change the dressing whenever he wished. He could shower, and when the dressing got wet in the shower, he'd just put on dry one when he got out of the shower. It wasn't anything elaborate.

When he had the stitches still in, they said "Use your hand as comfort allows, but the second you feel any tug on your stitches, you STOP." There were times he got cocky but then felt a tug on the stitches, which reminded him to take it easy and maybe not continue replacing his truck engine that week.

The stitches came out after 15 days (which seems fairly close to what you've been told) and he was told to continue to use his hand as his comfort allows, which he did.

Anyway, he said overall it was easy-peasy, though things were at maximum pain level at the 3-day mark and then got rapidly better.

I'm wondering if there's something drastically different in your diagnoses or medical histories that make your aftercare routines so different. (Not that I need to know.)

If you wanted to go to my dad's guy for your other hand, his name is Dr. Murphy at Skylands Orthopedics in Hackettstown NJ, but he works out of other places in NJ, too. He's awesome and funny. I'd be happy to help facilitate in whatever way I could be useful.
My doctor did my right rotator cuff surgery, so I'm pretty happy with him. Funny, just two years ago they didn't stint on the pain meds. This time I got Tylenol-3, which were not sufficient for the pain, either in strength, duration or size of prescription.

Yeah, the dressing being on for two weeks without changing is weird. I had to read my discharge instructions twice to make sure it wasn't an hallucination, but there it was.

Right out of surgery I was famished, so we went to the Metro Diner near Christiana hospital. The place is nice, I hope it lasts. But then we went back to my friend's house and the anesthesia was worn off. So I took a pain pill, my morning meds and went nappy bye for an hour or so. Lather, rinse and repeat for the rest of the weekend with ice off and on. I was of zero utility for the whole weekend. I couldn't even feed my dogs because I couldn't open the dog food can with one hand.

Typing was a dead letter issue. Couldn't happen with my surgery hand. On Wednesday I could type, but not fast and kept losing placement. Today is better. I'm not up to my close-your-eyes-and-type speed, but it's better.

Tomorrow is a week since surgery. I can close my hand into a loose fist and extend it flat. I can even carry light objects, like a cup of coffee. But my thumb still won't reach to touch my little finger. Not sure if it's swelling, or the bandage that's like putting a falsie in your palm. The worst is when I forget and reach out to put my hand palm -down on something. The pain makes me remember to DON'T DO THAT!
Your dad sounds a lot like my dad. My dad had a cocky pic of himself on a treadmill 4 days post hip-replacement. (He did not actually walk on it, though.)

As for this, "....convinced he'll go from taking one vicodin post-surgery to shooting up heroin in a walmart bathroom in 30 seconds." Yep, hear this a lot, and then often hear that the pain got out of control (right around day 3 is spot-on) and then it's a night of agony and even tears till it gets back under control. I tell folks not to try to be a hero, you don't get addicted after 3 days, hell you don't get addicted after 3 weeks if you're still tapering down from surgery. I don't have the information in front of me atm, but I believe the initial wave of addiction issues came with docs using a 3-month regimen with no plan in place for tapering off.

Ray, I hope you are feeling better by now. I'm sorry you had to go through all that recovery without adequate pain control. It's not just a matter of comfort, it can really affect the healing process, too.

We really need to get this "crisis" under control, and end the war on drugs.
Karen 3/19edited
Things are much better. The pain is mostly gone, just occasional flares when I use the hand. I have been wearing long pants since Sunday. And boy, let me tell you, you miss long pants when you don't have them. Just today I can touch my thumb to my pinky finger. The bandage is getting a little grungy. Not ripe yet, but I can't wait for Monday afternoon to get it off and get the stitches out.
I'm going to wash it right away.
Ray Conrad 3/19edited

Friday I go in for the first of the age related maintenance procedures. Carpal tunnel syndrome. The first three fingers of my left hand started going numb a few months back. Now they're number 24/7. Tests have shown that my carpal tunnels have progressed from 'moderate' to 'severe' in two years. 

Computer nerd life, yo.

So, pins and needs this morning, worse in the left than the right. Fortunately the left is getting addressed first. Right gets done next month.

Fuck this. I'm ready. Let's go!


Eyes open, grab phone, check the time. It's 4:30am. Why am I awake?

Brain: "Hey, buddy. I see that you're up. What'ya say we review every mistake and social gaffe you've ever made in your life?"

Me: "What? No. No, I don't want to do that. Not now, not ever."

Brain: "Hey, remember back on the first day of school when you followed all the girls into the girls room? Ha! Good times, good times."

Me: "I said I didn't want to do this!"

Brain: "And then there was that time in third grade when on class field day you were watching the turtle race with the whole class, you put your head down on the ground for an eye level view of the turtles and the teacher must have thought you were trying to look up the girl's skirts. She hauled you to your feet and slapped you across the face."

Me: "People think I drink to dull the pain. When actually I drink because I'm trying to kill you."

Oh man brother - I feel your pain. Over and over again.
I feel this deeeeep, too. Last night I pulled an unwilling all-nighter because someone on Reddit asked "Describe a time you gave someone advice or words of comfort, but it turned out to be a really awful thing to say." So I told an anecdote about a poorly-timed joke and then couldn't stop thinking about it. AAAGH.

There's a song by Barenaked Ladies called "Everything Old is New Again" and it has a line about laying in bed and "let[ting] all my nightmares repeat." Yup.

Why do our brains do this?!?
I am told it is because we focus on the past to the detriment of the present.

Or because we associate social gaffes for actual blunders.

Or because we don't forgive ourselves for mistakes.
I can't speak for everyone, but that last one... woof.
I don't have a sleepless story because I'm a champion sleeper (sleep is even how I cope with stress ). But yeah, at almost 50 I still STILL get pissed off a things that happened in grade school. Usually things that were not in my power to correct, due to the teachers being fallible humans with power (or sometimes they were just jerks). Or things where I should have done something but didn't, due to being afraid to engage. Or the intersection of these two.
Ok, getting off this thread because I'm getting pissed off again thinking about it.

You know, as I kid, my role model was Spock. I never liked the feels. I'm somewhat better now.
I liked Spock as a kid, and even as an adult, I still think he had a great story arc in TOS.

But yeah, finding a way to live with unresolvable conflicts from the past can be a struggle.

I kid. Mostly.

(When I get caught in a death spiral and absolutely positively no-way no-how can shut my damn brain off, xanax is a magical rescue. As much as I joke about it, I don't take it often and I have a very healthy respect for it.)

It seems that just as one incident of a company's marketting department blundering on the company's social media account is fading from memory, another one comes along to take its place.

The latest, Gillette, the famous razor makers, took to social media to shake its metaphysical fist at "toxic masculinity". Why? Who in their marketting department thought that by taking a cudgel to their user base they'd increase sales?

Instead, the backlash seems to be trending toward people dumping Gillette products. I bet the person who put forward this brain donor of a marketting plan is praying that it slinks away to a quiet corner to die. Adn as quickly as possible, please.

Now, Gillette is owned by Proctor and Gamble, who continued to use the Gillette brand name and sponsor Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots play in the NFL. Damn, that seems pretty masculine. I wonder if the marketting department knows?

Let's ignore masculinity for a moment and focus on toxic behavior. One definition of toxicity would be using your power and influence to denigrate and punish people or a person for traits and circumstances beyond their ability to control.

Using that definition, castigating an entire gender for an accident of birth seems like pretty toxic behavior.

In any event, it seems like a good time to dump your Proctor and Gamble stock.

I don't know if this would interest you, but there's a thoughtful analysis of the Gillette ad kerfluffle (kind of analyzing the analysis of the ad, if you will) here:

And the Twitter thread summary (a great synopsis) is here:

I don't know what exactly I think about any of it—the ad or the chatter about the ad—but the ad didn't strike me as a condemnation of an entire gender (but then, I'm female). And it is intriguing to me that the ad, rather than sparking conversations about ally-ship, is instead spurring talk about Gillette as an evil corporate overlord.

I think we all struggle in our own ways with the cultural pressures around gender and gender identity. I'm glad we're having national conversations about it now, as difficult and unsettling and confusing as they are. My hope is that the narratives that come out of these discussions/confrontations/conflicts are ultimately helpful and not just chaotic and divisive (but then, I'm a storyteller).
Anne Mollo 1/21edited
Thanks for the link. I think it's interesting that Mr. Greene's article didn't take a stand, didn't make a point or take leadership, the traditional male roles. Which is kind of accepting Gillette's point, if damning it with faint praise.

I prefer Egard Watches response.