Total Pageviews

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fringeville #160: That’s no Moon…

Today begins a six-day stretch which pretty much determines how at the very least the rest of my spring will go. Things should begin slowly, with a long-scheduled routine doctor’s appointment later today. I expect (and should) be hammered for still carrying all the extra pounds I picked up working in Scranton.

Lord, I miss the food in Scranton.

Unless some of my bloodwork shows something out of whack, the appointment will be uneventful. What I will be most curious about is my doctor’s views on the recurrence of my prostate cancer. That will end today’s medical adventure.

Tuesday, I will meet with a radiation oncologist. What I expect is the following:

  • A discussion on the testing needed to restage my cancer and determine whether it remains localized or if it has moved into any new neighborhoods.
  • If, after testing, the evidence implies that the cancer is still local then the phasers will fire and fry the cancer cells in the area where the prostate used to be. This would still present me with the possibility of a ‘cure.’ I grow increasingly skeptical of that word, as I think anyone with cancer does. It’s always used with as many disclaimers as an infomercial on weight loss gadgets or diets.
  • If any speck of cancer shows up anywhere else, then local radiation makes no sense. It’s out of the box.

I am, naturally, a bit anxious. I have plugged my numbers into some nomograms1 at a respected cancer center website and I absolutely did not like what I saw there. But it is impossible and unwise to project the course of one’s disease on what a website tool predicts. There are too many variables.

Oh, and as if I don’t have enough things going sideways, this happened:

No, that’s not some alien moon on a collision course with Northeastern Pennsylvania. It is a cap from one of my fricking molars. And what I was gnawing on when it broke? A chicken wing (good guess, but no)? A steak (not this year)?

The culprit was butter brickle ice cream. All of a sudden, an enormously large brickle was bouncing around in my mouth. I spit it out. And I said, to sort of quote Han Solo: “That’s no brickle. That’s a tooth.”

Fortunately, the crater where the cap lived isn’t easily visible to the naked eye. If it was, I’d be gap-toothed for the foreseeable future because my dental insurance ceased when I left my last job.

Other than that, and the fact that I have nearly exhausted my meager supply of Toasted Caramel Whiskey, things are just peachy. Peachy. PEACHY. THERE’S STILL SOME PEACH SCHNAPPS IN THE BACK OF THE FRIDGE! Yes…

1 A nomogram, according to Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, is a “…graphic representation, by any of various systems, of a numeric relationship.” I see it as like this: A nomogram can possibly indicate whether you should buy that summer home on Maryland’s Eastern shore or instead prepay your funeral.

* * *

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Fringeville #159: The Toasted Chef-Stuffed Pizza

In an effort to double my readership to 4 people, I am adding a feature. I have to admit, regular features are something I look forward to on other blogsites (The Yonk is a master at this).

I don't have the discipline to have a feature tied to a hard schedule, so I needed something that I could do on the fly yet would happen often enough to be recognized as a regular attraction here at Fringeville.

Enter The Toasted Chef (moi).

I am a 50% cook. (Half the time whatever I make is pretty good, the other half what I prepare is non-lethal at best as the ER will attest to.)

I also have a fondness for Black Velvet Toasted Caramel Whiskey. I have one, with ice, an average of 2-3 times a week. On very rare occasions I may have two. I drink very responsibly, and while it should go without saying, I have to urge everyone to do so as well.

I realized that when I cook, I usually had a toasted caramel with ice nearby. A treat while I relaxed over the stove. It struck me to start filming my recipes. They are unfiltered, largely unedited, and the sound quality probably leaves something to be desired. But I don't think you'll see anything like them anywhere else (probably for very good reason).

I have a couple segments "in the can." More will come.

Without any further delay, for your viewing pleasure, I present The Toasted Chef: Keystone Style Stuffed White Pizza. (How about that... the first one has nothing to do with wings).

* * *

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fringeville #158: Stella, you bitch. Just leave.

Stella is in the rear view (from those of us lucky enough to find our cars) but not gone. Sure, on April 22nd when I am sitting in Beaver Stadium roasting on a hot spring day Stella will be just a memory. She'll be remembered like a bad-ass girlfriend who turned your life upside down, stole your credit card, and hit you with crockery and the occasional baseball bat. But for now, she's too close to home and her damage is still being assessed. Here are some thoughts that crossed my mind while doing two days of digging out:

A few years back when I was working at Sears part-time for six bucks an hour (plus commission, which brought the total closer to minimum wage) I made a questionable purchase of a Craftsman snowblower. For the past two years it was barely used, and I thought about whether I'd bought more machine than I really needed. The past two days, despite needing a few parts and being a little stubborn to start in the morning (buy hey, so am I) it performed like a champ. If it never snows again, it earned its keep. Turns out it was an investment in the future. It will probably outlive me.

Off to shovel, one thumb up and one on the snow thrower throttle.

I ventured out once so far because I had to. I went into work for a couple of hours. The roads everywhere sucked, and there were clearly folks out there in vehicles that had no business being on the road. I got held up briefly on East Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, watching a backhoe dumping snow into a dump truck. A lot of people have been hammering Wilkes-Barre and other towns for their response to Stella. Some of the hammering may be deserved, but the fact of the matter is you can't really prepare for a storm like Stella. You can only react, and do a sort of triage. What roads must be open. Which roads should be open ASAP. Everyone else. I also recalled when I lived on Maryland's eastern shore for one year of junior high. We had 3 inches of snow and couldn't get to school for three days. Turns out our county had ONE (1) (Uno) snowplow at the time. At least that's what a relative told me. They may have had a few more, but the point is you prepare for what you expect and then deal with the unexpected as best you can.

From a snow storm a few years back. But appropriate.

I worked hard the last two days. I hardly gave a moment's thought to things like barb-wire peeing, radiation oncologists, and scary survey tools at cancer center websites. I worked my ass off. I was bone tired after each day. It was a good worked-all-day tired. How, I wondered, could I feel this alive and be looking at radiation treatments? Work has its own rewards, chief among them being it forces you to address the task at hand and not dwell on things over which you have limited control. My snow. My Craftsman. My shovel. Clearing the driveway, cutting a path to my son's place, clearing the mailboxes and fire hydrant. This was my universe for two days. Cancer was an alternate reality I had no time for.

My last word on the great blizzard and Snowmageddon of 2017 is simply this:

Stella, you were a heartless bitch: Bite me, begone and good riddance.

* * *

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Fringeville #157: So long, Stella. Don't let the door hit ya where the Lord split ya!

So we finally got the big one. And it was pretty much the promised pain in the posterior. I spend the whole day moving snow. The only time I fell was trying to get back to the shed to fetch the snow thrower, a Craftsman, which performed magnificently despite my belief it needs a replacement inline fuel filter.

When I fell, I was fortunate enough to have a snow shovel with me and I eventually used it to help me regain my feet. Without the shovel, no one was finding me until after the spring thaw. My wife would have assumed I had become one of those husbands that goes out for a pack of cigarettes and disappears for 20 years. Well, maybe wings, because I don't smoke. But you get the drift. Every possible pun intended.

So today, I am a mass of pain and I'm loaded up on ibuprofen. I didn't enjoy Stella one bit.

The feeling in this family, however, wasn't unanimous. My daughter created something called "snow ice cream" and it was good. A little grainy, probably from all the toxins it picked up falling through the atmosphere. But is was oddly pleasing to eat the blizzard that ate up most of my day.

One Nimrod family member, however, loved the blizzard:

* * *

Friday, March 3, 2017

Fringeville #156: My Friday To-Do List vs. My Friday Realities

I have a very short list of things I want to accomplish today. Just five, actually.
  1. Get a handle on my chronic procrastination.
  2. Secure an oncologist.
  3. Finish cleaning off my work desk so it can resume being the dining room table the good Lord intended it to be.
  4. Make fresh pizza dough for tonight’s Lenten meal.
  5. Look for a second job to address all the unexpected things which will arise with #2 above.

I am a realistic person. I am trying to learn to be what is called “refreshingly honest.” So I am going to look into my crystal ball and honestly predict what will actually get done:

#1 - Procrastination – Post a meme. DONE
#3 - Cleaning off the desk: - I will shred some stuff, break for lunch, and come back to it. Eventually. Or next week. Whatever.
#4 - Pizza dough – This will happen, because doing that allows me to not think about #2 or #5. Hey, I might even post a video or some pics on the pizza-making process. If I get around to it.

I'm almost definitely certainly going to attack all of this. Right after I take the dog out. He's standing here looking at me. He has to pee. Some things can't be put off.

...Hey Fatass: take me out, or THIS happens!
But I will do all of this. Eventually. Maybe after I take a break. Whatever.
- Jimbo

...I will eventually click OK to start my break.
 * * *

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Fringeville #155: Ramblings

I may have inadvertently committed involuntary rodentslaughter.

My wife found a mouse/mole/whothehellknowswhatitis floating in a garbage can outside the house. I don’t know how the little peckerwood got in there, but it was a one-way trip. The theory is the dumbass was in the can, which was on its side after the tornado and which I picked back up, trapping him within.

The Mickey Mouse Club has informed me that I am permanently barred from applying for membership.

Out of respect for the dead, I took no pictures of the crime scene before unceremoniously dumping him where the members of the legions of feral cats in my neighborhood can find their latest cat toy. Rumors that I sprinkled catnip on the remains are likely untrue.

* * *

I continue to watch and read the level of hysteria in the media and among many of my Democrat friends over President Trump.

I was able to recover immediately after the last President was elected (twice) for one simple reason: I have a fundamental faith in our Constitution and in the balance of power between the branches of our government. Go a little wild, and you will be slapped down.

I didn't hyperventilate at my keyboard for eight years every time the previous President overreached, because I knew in many cases whatever he did would ultimately be reversed. I also think the real damage done is by those in local offices. That’s where your wallet is hit the hardest, and they are very happy to worm their way into it (if you’re not sure about that, look at your school taxes).

* * *

...Jimbo, apparently we have a failure to communicate.

I don’t think God wants me to run for any office whether public or party (except for GOP County Committee, where He apparently approves).

A few years ago, I ran for State Committee. I got prostate cancer. Now I’m about to file for a local municipal office, and my supposedly curable cancer has recurred.

I’m not saying there’s a linkage between politics and cancer, but my personal statistics are suspicious.

Fortunately, the voluminous research I have done assures me that I am more likely to die choking on a chicken wing bone than to pass on from prostate cancer. Even if it does send me on to that great Hooters in the sky, I can probably run for office repeatedly before it does me in. Probably.

In any case, it will be another summer of choosing between several shit-sandwich choices for treatment.

So over the next few days I’m filing my petition and getting a referral to an oncologist before ramping up my usual door-to-door campaign.

Happy trails. And if anything unexpectedly goes wrong, you can look forward to the funeral brunch (hopefully in 10-15 years):

...Cajun Bleu or mild? There's Guinness and Yuengling on the buffet table.

* * *

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Fringeville #154: Russian Hacks, Barbed Wire and Tornadoes

I have decided to run for a 2-year seat on the Plains Township Board of Commissioners. For a number of reasons, the 2-year seat works best for me.

Almost as soon as I started circulating my petition, Fringeville had an uptick in hits from Russia.

Let me be clear: I have never been to Russia. I have never eaten chicken wings in or ordered chicken wings from Russia. I don’t even like Russian dressing.

I do like the occasional white Russian, as long it kicks like a mule and has about a thousand calories.

As to this guy, recently seen leaving my house, yes he bears an uncanny resemblance to the Russian leader, Mr. Putin. But this is my old college fraternity brother, Vlad …ummm… O’Hooligan. He’s from Moscow, in Lackawanna County.

Rumors he was wrestling a bear cub in my backyard while shirtless are utterly untrue. On rumors he was wrestling the cub’s mother, I have no comment.

* * *

I have had an enormously distracting problem since June of 2016. Barbed wire pee. Sounds as bad as it feels. Yes, it was looked at. The opinion of my urologist at the time was that I had passed a stone, based on tests and my symptoms. He cheerfully told me I have another stone that is “non-obstructive.” He assured me the stone will let me know with a hammer blow of pain if it decides to pack up and move from its comfy spot in my kidney to a nice home with a view in my ureter.

“What then?” I asked.

“We pulverize the sumbitch with sound waves.”

I considered strapping speakers to my abdomen and blasting AC/DC or Metallica and just pulverizing the sumbitch myself, but I didn’t know how my other organs would fare. Heavy metal isn’t good for the liver.

The stone hasn’t moved, but the barbed wire torture hasn’t gone away. And yes, that’s been checked again after an episode I’d rather not go into. No blood or infection in the pee. Just, apparently, barbed wire.

Since last summer, I’ve dreaded every trip to the bathroom. And the other side effect of all this is that I make a LOT more trips to the bathroom. A warning: If you’re in Wallyworld and you hear cussing coming from the men’s room, it’s probably me kids. I’m harmless. All bark, no bite, just lots of wincing and cussing.

For your protection, they barricade the  Wallyworld bathroom until I am done so little ones don't hear me cussing.

I am convinced this is tied directly to the prostate cancer I’d hoped to be cured of. I say this because I have been watching my PSA number rise from a post-surgery zero (undetectable and possibly cured) to this past week’s result of 0.23 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter of blood).

While there a number of conflicting studies on what measured PSA number post-surgery signals a recurrence, a number of studies point at 0.20 as the threshold. And the longer you go before you trip that threshold (if ever) the better it is for your long-term prognosis.

I won’t bore anyone with all the details, but I can say simply this: 0.23 in less than 3 years is not good.

I expect some feedback from my team at Penn Medicine. They may want to wait another 3 months to see if I stay above the threshold. However, I fully expect them to recommend I pursue treatment options to delay any metastasis. It is likely I may have bad little bastard PSA-churning cancer cells living in the prostate bed (where that organ used to reside) or, less likely, somewhere else in my body.

It struck me immediately after the latest result that I now have treatable prostate cancer. If I live long enough (meaning I don’t choke to death on a chicken wing, die driving through tornadoes1 or meet my maker some other way) it will eventually spread. Once it does, the clock to the eternal heavenly wing fest begins ticking. Prostate cancer can be very slow to metastasize, so it really is likely I’ll ride off into the sunset for some other reason. Unless I’m an unlucky bastard (Hint: I’m Irish. Do the math.)

In the meantime, every time I manage to put cancer out of my mind a bit, it’s time to f****** pee again.

1 See the next bit for driving through tornadoes

* * *


My wife’s Neon blew a radiator hose. I actually got the right one from the parts store, and my son and I replaced it. We finished just as the rain turned steady yesterday.

I suggested taking it “around the block” which on my street means a trip through Laflin and down Route 315 to Plains again. As the Neon chugged up the hill in Laflin, the temperature needle started to rise.

“Dad, I think it’s hailing. Isn’t there a tornado warning?”

“It’s expired. It’s only hailing a little.”

A couple two-tree2 minutes later we were on 315 moving at five miles an hour with hail, torrential rain, wind, an engine running hot and defrosters kicking out cold air, totally fogging the windshield.

“You’re off the road!” my son shouted. He rolled down his window to see where the shoulder was and his ear was pelted so hard with a rain/hail mix that he rolled the window back up.

We eventually found a place to pull over until the storm passed. We got off the highway, and pulled over again because the engine was almost screaming hot.

We got back to the house, fixed (we think) the issue with the car, and went for an uneventful test drive.

A bit later, we learned there was, in fact, a tornado a few miles from where we were. It turns out the watch was extended 45 minutes, and we were off gallivanting in it.

God forbid what if we had driven into it?

Well, no more barbed wire peeing, so there's that.

But since it is the Irishman’s lot to suffer, we were unscathed and my barbed wire saga will continue.

2 Two-tree is advanced Pittstonese for 2-3, for those of you not from NEPA

* * *