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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fringeville #167: Here’s A Motto For Ya...

There is only one species of human. We come in a grab bag of sizes, colors and shapes but there is only just us.

Just us.

We can continue on the way we are or we can be good to each other. Let's choose to be good to each other. It all starts there. If that seems overly simplistic, just try it for a couple of days.

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It is requiring less and less effort to avoid piping in on political stuff. It is also becoming more and more apparent to me that drastically reducing my presence on social media has been very, very good for me.

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On a sort of similar note, back in 2010 I had the opportunity to meet Karen Feather, the one-time Chief of Staff for Congressman Paul Kanjorski. Somehow our brief conversation drifted to social media. She told me that she didn’t use it and had no plans to. I can’t recall the exact conversation (I am an old fart and have trouble these days remembering where I took my shoes off) but the thrust was that it was a platform that was potentially dangerous for folks in politics. Damned smart woman.

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On my computer, I used to save my Fringeville posts by date and post number before copying the contents to the blog.

These days I save them by post number only. It’s a self-motivating technique, because when I look at the list of old posts, I don’t feel intimated by the gaps of time between them.

Yes, there is some self-deception here …I could simply move my eyes to the file’s date fields …but I am a master of self-deception.

By the way, here is my favorite health food (protein, veggies-n-dairy* all in one):

* With optional celery and bleu cheese

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Yesterday was National Taco Day. We did Taco Bell. I really don’t want to know the specifics of what is in the damned things, but I went to bed full and my backside played the trumpet most of the night.

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I am deeply, deeply hopeful this gorgeous weather holds until April. (It’s that self-deception thing again.)

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Be good to each other.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fringeville #166: Wrambling Wramblings

I’ve been away from direct involvement in politics for an entire season. I am still waiting for the withdrawal to kick in. I am beginning to suspect it won’t. There are a handful of folks I will work with/advise but the rest of my life is a mess that I have to sort out and it’s taking priority.

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My return to my former energizer-bunny self is not yet complete. I tolerated the radiation treatments very well, but it is still and insult to the body. Add to that the side-effects from the Casodex and I am still struggling to get back on track mentally and physically. That’s all I’ll say on my health right now because, as Lou Holtz says, 80% of folks don’t care about your troubles and the other 20% are glad you have them.

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I wasn’t planning to see any live Penn-State football this year, but my brother got tickets for the Georgia State game (with awesome parking) and that was slated to be our one and only trip to Beaver Stadium. The football gods smiled on us, however, and a pair of Pitt game tickets fell in our laps a few days before the game. I have never seen a Lions-Panther battle, so this was a treat.

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I am writing in little chunks right now because I’m just coming out of the creative fog. Just roll with it, and my apologies as always for taking so long between posts.

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I am distressed a bit at the polarization of virtually everything in America these days. Anything one says or writes is likely to be seen through red or blue glasses. I am sorry, but I simply can’t function that way anymore. I believe in the inherent goodness of all people, and I can’t dismiss vast swaths of them to fit a political agenda. Perhaps it is the only wise thing I am doing these days.

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There is something rejuvenating about working outdoors. I am limited to how much I can do before pooping out, but the exertion, the sweat, the focus on the task at hand …all of that is a tonic. Winter is over the horizon a bit, but I am already missing the work outdoors that comes with the other seasons. The snow blower’s fun, but not much.

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I exist for coffee. It’s my only vice. Tell me to give it and I’ll make a counter-offer: take me out to a culm bank and just shoot me. A person’s gotta have something. I can even live **shudder** without wings. But my last day on the planet will start with coffee if I have any frigging say about it.

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That’s it for now. Yes, I rambled. It’s how I am these days. I’m working on it, that’s all I can say.

Be good to each other.

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Fringeville #165: Graduation

Adios, electrons!

Yes, I’ve been on another hiatus. My last post was in April, before I started radiation therapy for my stubbornly recurrent prostate cancer. My last session of EBRT (Electron Beam Radiation Therapy) was this past Wednesday, July 5. All told, there were 38 sessions of hoedowns with electrons. 35 were aimed at the pelvis. The remaining 3 targeted my boobs.

Why the boobs?

I am taking bicalutamide, commonly known as Casodex, for the foreseeable future. The drug is an ‘antiandrogen’ (which sounds like a vitamin Data might take on Star Trek). The drug blocks testosterone, which prostate cancer cells guzzle like frat boys downing beer at a Friday night jammy.

While my side effects from radiation have been few, other than increasing fatigue, the Casodex has at times muddled my thought processes, and seems to be jacking up my blood pressure. But one very common side effect is gynecomastia. Manboobs. Tender, growing, manboobs. To keep me out of the wife’s bra supply, I had radiation to the boobs. So far, it seems to be working. My boobs don’t look any bigger than those of t-shirted overweight ex-jocks carousing on Main Street, Pittston.

But I frequently find myself saying something most men never expect to say: “My f*****g boobs hurt!”

While the pelvic radiation focuses on the most likely home of the persistent cancer cells, near the bed where the prostate once rested, the drug inhibits any cells which may be living elsewhere in the body and are at present undetectable. When discussing the Casodex prescription with my oncologist, I asked a simple question: “What stage is my disease now?”

He looked at me, the patient who has done tons and tons of reading on this disease and thought he had a pretty good command of the subject, as if I had two heads and replied, “You’re cancer is recurrent. There is no staging.”

Long and short, I am still potentially curable assuming that the only prostate cancer cells in my body are living where the electrons spent the last seven weeks partying. But there are no guarantees, and I haven’t been particularly lucky so far. The recurrence came in less than three years, instead of five or ten years down the pike. For now I am back on having my PSA checked every 3 months. If it has gone down in October that means there’s a great likelihood the cancer was local and I’ll be around a while. If it doesn’t budge, or has nudged up, it increases the likelihood that a funeral director will be going through my pockets for loose change sooner than I would like.

* A word of warning * to anyone who might say: “Well, if you have to get cancer, you got the right one!” 

I will punch you in the face and smother you between my manboobs.

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Why did I start this overdue post with the above? The recurrence led me to evaluate literally everything about my life. I might be around a decade or more, until I choke to death on a chicken wing. But there is a chance, however small, that I am on a shorter road. I had to choose what to let go, and I put significant thought into that. My logic was this: There are things that take me away from my family and from things I love to do. If I gamble that I am going to be around for a decade or more and lose that gamble, I have squandered precious time I could have spent with the people I love. If I let certain things go, and I do stick around a long time, the quality of that time goes up.

Framed that way, it wasn’t much of a decision in the end. So what did I walk away from?


It was a painful decision, as I’ve been hip deep in politics since 2004. I have very few regrets, and incredible memories. There are a few people I will help behind the scenes, people I consider very great friends indeed, but other than that I’ve walked away. I resigned as a GOP district chair and as a committee person. It was a deeply personal decision, but I have no regrets. I think I made some small difference, and decided it was best to go out at the top of my game. I've been a very good and loyal soldier, one who believes you either belong to something or you don't, and I've acted accordingly. It's how I'd like to be remembered.


I am taking an extended hiatus from Facebook. There are a lot of reasons, but I largely consider it toxic. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so if I wasn’t so immersed in politics, but it is, for me, a hostile environment. There’s a lot of shouting, tons of vile posts, and very little room for reasonable discussions. In addition, it is an enormous waste of time, and time is precious to me now. Will I resurrect my profile? Perhaps, but not for quite some time.

What did I keep?

I will return to writing. I am part of the writing team at Project Wednesday where the goal is positive human development. Making a difference. That’s something that’s important to me. I encourage you to look at Project Wednesday. There are some wonderful young voices there, and one old fart. You will feel better for the experience.

On that, I close the post. I will return soon.

Be good to each other.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fringeville #164: …Hold My Beer

In what can only be described as a catastrophic failure in customer service, United Airlines had a man pulled from his seat, dragged up the aisle stunned and bleeding and removed from the plane.

Turns out the airline needed four seats. For their employees.

This wasn’t bumping; this was a beat-down. People were already on the plane and in their seats. Rather than doing something intelligent, like chartering a plane for the employees or dramatically upping the compensation for giving up seats, they chose four seats to empty, and empty them they did, even if it required brute force.

As horrific as the airline’s treatment of this poor man was, their response to the outrage was a public relations fiasco. The CEO referred to the beat-down as a “re-accommodation.” 

Worst. Apology. Ever.

The New York Post later ran a story calling the CEO "tone deaf" after he issued a memo to employees in defense of the beat-down.

You can’t make this stuff up.

You decide. I think it’s cut and dried, but look for yourselves and remember this the next time you’re choosing an airline. If you want unfriendly skies, then United is your huckleberry.

Passenger Statement

Oh, and perhaps that United Airlines CEO should be re-accommodated as well. To the unemployment line.

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