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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fringeville #129, November 23 2014

...the corpuscles look like little chicken wings...
(Please note in the post below I am talking only from my own experience as someone whose prostate was surgically removed as primary therapy for my cancer. When I talk about PSA levels, etc. it is from my perspective as a surgical patient. Radiation therapy is a whole 'nuther bag. After radiation therapy, PSA may take a long, long time to drop to its lowest level. The prostate wasn't removed and there may still be some healthy prostate cells cranking out PSA. Whether surgery, radiation or some other therapy is the best choice for a patient is something that has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. There is no one-size fits all for prostate cancer. What worked for you may not be the best choice for me, and vice versa)

This past week I had to have blood drawn for my 6-month PSA check. With the surgical removal of my prostate, what the blood test should confirm is that my PSA (Prostate-specific antigen) levels are undetectable. Because we yanked the lil' sumbitch.

I have this test every 3 months post surgery. The first was in August. Last week was the second. And I've noticed a little something about myself when it is time for these tests. I dread them. And from what I've read, most guys in my shoes dread them as well.

I am not a needle-phobe (though my sister Mitty is...she was a legendary needle-phobe back in the day). It's relatively painless, and the most difficult part of it is getting to the testing center in Hazleton. I can't have it done at a regular lab because it is an ultra-sensitive test. They are looking for incredibly small levels of PSA, and they really shouldn't find them (because as mentioned above, we yanked the lil' sumbitch).

The dread is that the test will find measurable PSA.

How is that possible?

Let's say a couple of those bad boy prostate cells took a pleasure cruise up the river lymph, or otherwise got out of the box before the prostate was removed. Those little peckerwoods will multiply. And they will produce PSA. Therein lies the dread. Because as anyone with prostate cancer knows, you are cured until you're not. In the case of folks like me, who had the prostate removed, the longer you go without a return of detectable PSA the more likely you were cured. If it becomes detectable, well the later that happens and the rate at which the PSA level doubles guides the approach to treatment. If it starts showing up a decade from now, and rises slowly, that's not a horrible scenario. At that point, I'm much more likely to choke to death on a chicken wing than to die of prostate cancer.

But if those PSA levels return early and rise quickly, that's when a fellow starts to feel like a milk carton with an expiration date.

And so fellows like me ...who had the lil' sumbitch yanked ...go about our lives and push our cancer to the back of our minds. Until it is time for the test. And the intervening time from test to results is when we drum our fingers as we drink our morning coffee and wonder what we'll do if we lose the PSA lottery so soon after surgery.

And I still hate the term for the unwanted return of PSA. They call it 'biochemical failure', which somehow sounds like it's our fault.

Doc: "You've got biochemical failure, Mr. Hooter."
Patient: "But I stayed up all night studying for the blood test!"
Doc: "Yeah, well your PSA tells a different story. Slacker."

The dread motivates someone like me to some sort of action. In my case, I took a look at where I was in life and made some changes over the past few weeks:

  • Because I'm hopefully cured, I've taken on a second full time job because staring at piles of bills doesn't make them go away.
  • Because I may not be cured (unlikely but possible) I have adopted a 5-year horizon view of my life. If I become a milk carton, that's what I'm looking at as time remaining to get things done. This is just my own level of neurosis picking that span of time. Five years  is chunk of time that I can work with.
  • I have begun backing away from things that take me away from my family.
  • I have begun letting go of making all the big decisions around Jimboville.

And that segues me into the next piece of this blog...

* * *

...ignore the ugly blob and campaign stuff. Focus on the car.
See that beautiful red Buick behind that butt-ugly guy in the white shirt? That's Bess. I love Bess. Bess has been the HQ for two political campaigns. In the summer, when the air conditioning is on, it even has an indoor pool in front of the passenger seat. I used to call it "Lake Laureen" because when Laureen Cummings ran for Congress in 2010, that was her seat and she had to strategically place her feet where they wouldn't be submerged in those dog days of summer. Congressional candidate's feet shouldn't squish when they walk.

For the past couple of years, Bess has been my daughter's car. Bess has picked up some bumps and bruises, and if you lock all of her doors you can't open any of them. You have to break in. She's also become steadily more expensive to maintain.

With the impending addition of my second job, I realized we were facing a major dilemma in Jimboville: A 5-3-2 crisis. Five jobs requiring vehicles. Three people for said jobs. Two old vehicles to carry the burden.

I realized this wasn't going to work, and as I went into this past week facing the dreaded PSA test I decided to guide my daughter Courtney through her first car purchase. Before I got sick, her role in the whole process would have been to sit quietly and listen while I worked everything out with the dealership's sales and financial folks. I would have cosigned the loan, and she would have a dependable vehicle. But she wouldn't have learned a damned thing because I'd have done the whole shebang, and I'd have been her safety net financially.

But the worm has turned.

I knew that while unlikely, there was a possibility I might not be around when she buys her next car. So I did two things which are very, very difficult for me. First, when the salesman asked if I was helping on the loan, I said no. And that hurt. A lot. The second thing I did was shut up for 95% of the entire process. I watched her work with the salesman and then with the finance officer. If there had been any red flags during those sessions, I'd have stopped things dead in their tracks. I wouldn't sit there and let my daughter get taken advantage of. But I had faith in the dealership, was impressed with the salesman, and appreciated the way the finance officer took his time carefully explaining each piece of paperwork. He knew it was her first car purchase, and he wants her back next time. (A big shout out to Ken Pollock Nissan. Job well done. And if  you're looking for a car, ask for Keith Onyshczak.)

In the end, my daughter got a great vehicle. And I learned just how well she can handle herself. And oddly, that was bittersweet, because on the one hand I am enormously proud of her, but on the other hand she really doesn't need me any longer. Like her brother, James, she is smart and self-sufficient. Though she hasn't actually left the nest (and if she sticks with my plan of not dating till she's 40 she'll be here a while) she can make her way in the world.

So the two big takeaways are:

1) My wife and I have raised two fully functional and self-sufficient adults.
2) I have Bess back. Come summer, in the hot and steamy dog days, you'll find me cruising down the highway with the only mobile lake in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

* * *
...time to eat yet? I just made a Hack Sandwich.

Lastly, I watched the NCAA sanctions in full bloom as my Lions came up flat usual ...on offense and the D just ran out of gas. I'm not hitting the panic button. The Lions only had their mouths smashed once this year. 4 of 5 losses (including the holdup-by-zebras against the Buckeyes) were by a handful of points each. Any kind of consistency on offense and ...don't laugh ...we're a one-loss team and Coach Franklin is a miracle worker. But the reality is that we don't have the horses, thanks to the NCAA.

I will be in State College for the Michigan State game next week with my brother. I really don't know what to expect. They are a very, very young team and this will be an emotional game. The best we can manage, including a bowl win, is an 8-5 record.  But quite honestly 6-7 is a very distinct possibility. The NCAA wanted to damage the program. Mission accomplished.

But 2015 comes quickly and with it the ability to rebuild to full strength.  I'm already thinking about the Blue-White game and a belly full of Five Guys grub next spring.

* * *

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fringeville #128, November 17 2014

November 17, 1984

She will likely fillet me alive for posting this, but 30 years is a heck of an achievement. It hasn't always been easy. In fact, at times it was damned hard. But we have grown stronger with each crisis we have overcome. And we take the "till death do us part" thing seriously 'round these parts.

One thing is for certain, she didn't marry me for my good looks and boyish charm:

Anniversary Wings tonight!!!
 * * *

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fringeville #127, November 16 2014

The unstoppable ..and thank God for that ..David Yonki



Congratulations, LuLac Political Letter for winning the NEPA BlogCon 2014 Political Blog of the Year!
* * *

...people tell me to slow down. There's plenty of time for that after they plant me.

I made a somewhat ambiguous post on my Facebook page this past Friday. It concerned yet another big exclamation point in my life this year.

As Ricky Ricardo would say, "...Let me 'splain, Lucy."

"...this time, I've got 'splaining to do, Lucy. Then you 'splain why Fred is dead on the floor and his wallet is empty."

Coming into 2014 I'd ended my second full year of living in a post-job-restructuring world. Sane people would likely have run screaming after the first year, but as many of you have long suspected I do not think like most people. I do believe I am sane, but I also think my brain is wired a wee bit differently. I was able to stay calm when I went from making good money to no money to a smidgeon of money in the first twelve months. In 2013, I made more progress and landed a great job with a local small business. Financially, I still had a long way to go and the money was still flowing in the wrong direction.

But I had a master plan: I would pick up a second full-time job in 2014 to go along with the one I had already (plus some small but steady income from a monthly bookkeeping gig).

The whole plan came crashing down in March when I got prostate cancer.

Yet I stayed calm while all around me things seemed to be devolving at a rate that was bordering on the spectacular. Whole new piles of bills came in, which I dutifully ignored because they scared the bejesus out of me and I had no way to pay them. I bounced back from surgery very quickly, but my stamina wasn't what it was. I also seem to have lost forever the ability to sleep like a normal human being.

What kept me going through all this, behind only the tremendous moral support of my family and friends, was working with Melanie Madeira's campaign in Lackawanna County, putting together some activities together for the Third District GOP with my pal Susan Zaykoski, and working a bit with the Luzerne County Teenage Republicans. I kept myself so busy that I didn't have much time to dwell on my own mortality or the precariousness of my own finances.

Then, about a month ago, and for no particular reason, I was overwhelmed by a sense that things were going to take a turn. In my favor. I had no rational reason to feel that way. I told my wife I was on the cusp of something good. She looked at me, and for very good reason, as if I'd lost my mind.

I was physically back at 100%, and I'd been looking for 3rd shift work (my original 2014 plan). I did two interviews not long after I told my wife we were about to turn a corner. On this past Friday, I signed an offer letter.

This will cause a few folks to scratch their heads: "...Umm... Jimbo're going to work TWO full time jobs? That's terrible!"

Ummm. No it is not.

I prayed for this. I basically looked up at the sky and said: "Big Guy, I need this one. Can you pull a string here?"

It is going to be hard work, but as my good friend Yonk says: "All work is noble."

In my life I have worked as a laborer, a manager, as a self-employed one-man business, and I've even done a little reporting. I belong to that odd subset of people born with "Bear Bryant Syndrome:" In short, retire-and-die-immediately. I will never stop working. If I'm not working, go through my pockets for loose change: I'm dead. I've also never looked down at anyone for the type of work they do (revisit the Yonk quote above). And I never will. 

...Keep your butt moving Jimbo. Now drop and gimmee a dozen. Wings.

You know I don't blog about my work place (current or in this case soon-to-be second workplace). I think when you do that you're juggling hand grenades and sooner or later a pin comes out of one of them and you blow yourself up. But what I will say is that strategically this job will fix some holes that have needed filling since 2011. It will increase my cash flow and reduce my outlay in some other areas. It will allow me to begin replacing the savings that the last two years wiped out completely. (The last of that disappeared two hours ...TWO HOURS ...before my phone rang with the job offer. To my atheist friends out there, excuse me for seeing the hand of God in that. But it is what it is. I prayed. Prayer answered. And the timing was incredible.)

Since I have not yet figured out how to either clone myself or do without sleep entirely, something has to give. And my decision is to take a dramatically smaller role in politics.  I will end my current term as a GOP committee member but I will not seek another term in 2016 and will immediately scale back what I am doing in that capacity. I most certainly will NOT run for any kind of office in the foreseeable future. Please chisel that in stone. I will help a very few select candidates who can put up with me, but the vast bulk of what time I have available will be spent with my family. They must come first, because as with any cancer I don't know if I'm going to be around until I die at the end of a double shift at age 95 at a business I own (my super-secret long-term plan) or if I'm essentially a human milk carton with a 5-10 year expiration date.

So that's it. That's the big news. It may not seem all that spectacular to some folks. But it is huge for me. It puts me back on track. It mean's I'm working hard, which means I'm happy.

And I will be able to splurge on the occasional Wing Night at Dan's Keystone Grille.

Until next post... live large and eat more wings.

* * *

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fringeville #125, October 23 2014

Have a beer and some wings. Save some for me.

I am deep in the heart of election season. While I am not running, I am still very much in the thick of things and as I usually do around this time I've taken a mini-hiatus while I work with committees and candidates.

I will pop off a few quick notes:

1)  My last post was about Ebola way back on September 30 before the whole nation went bat-shit crazy over the disease. I have read some of the most bizarre things on social media about the disease. Full panic mode with some folks. It reminds me of the people who called the police because a mysterious white powder was on the hood or roof of their cars during the anthrax mania. It was, of course, bird poop. Or maybe the aforementioned bat-shit.

Ebola has, of course, become a big political football. Early on I asked if Ebola might be the current President's Katrina. I criticized the response, particularly not blocking access to travelers to the U.S. from West Africa. Local radio host Sue Henry has said repeatedly that Ebola shouldn't be politicized. I mostly agree with her. But unfortunately the only way that you can get the current guy in the White House to do anything seems to be by applying enormous political pressure. Which often doesn't work anyway. He golfs to a different putter.

But when I start reading bizarre theories that this or that Party or President did this on purpose, or that some off the wall "cure" exists using common household cleaning items, well enough is enough.

So no more Ebola posts from me. As I said earlier, some folks have gone bat-shit crazy and at that point I exit, stage right.

2) Once this election season is over, I am making some very big life decisions. It has been an extraordinarily challenging and difficult year. I am ending it in far worse shape than I started it on just about every level. (Yes, my health is holding. But the old me is way back there in the rear-view in a heap in the ditch).  I will probably be stepping away from a lot of things. I will probably be working a whole lot more because I need the moolah.

So that is it for now. Consider this one of my occasional "I'm still alive, gang" posts. 

Look for a return to Fringeville in early November, after the dust at the polls settles.

* * *

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fringeville #124, September 30 2014

The Ebola Virus

I was working in a local hospital when AIDS became a huge story in this country. My job was carting people around in wheelchairs or on litters to and from tests, etc. There was always the chance of contact with blood or body fluid. Because of that, we received instruction on Universal Precautions.

Because there was so much fear of this disease, and so many myths and misconceptions about how it was spread, we were given some training that was specific to HIV. The training was straightforward. I recall the doctor doing the training telling us that the HIV virus needed a human host to survive. It would die quickly in most situations outside the body. It was also not spread casually. You weren't going to get it from shaking hands, picking up patient dinner trays, or breathing the air in a patient's room.

Then he asked if there were any questions. And immediately I saw how poorly humans handle the unknown when it comes in the form of disease.

Time and time again the doctor had to explain to folks that casual contact wasn't going to do it. It just wasn't sinking in. The anxiety in the room was palpable.

People, you see, are not at their best when a plague comes to town.

I recall this today because we now have the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States. As the virus exists today, it isn't spread by the air or through casual contact. It is, however, a remarkably vicious disease, and there is no shame in being afraid of it.

But I have already read a post on social media blaming the disaster-that-is-our-southern-border for this first case. (Which is absolutely not true. According to news reports, the person diagnosed flew here from Liberia.)

When I read the post, it made me think of the early days of AIDS, when that disease was tagged by some as "the gay disease." It was an uncomfortable parallel. HIV: Blame the gays. Ebola: Blame illegal immigrants. Or Obama. Or both.

I don't expect Ebola, as it exists today, to explode in the United States as it has in Africa. We are much better poised to isolate and halt the disease. I am crossing my fingers that cooler heads will prevail and folks will realize the odds of getting Ebola in the U.S. are going to be very, very small indeed.

But notice I've twice used the phrase "as it exists today" about the Ebola virus. Should it mutate and become hardy enough to be transmitted through the air, all bets are off. This is a very, very unlikely scenario. But not impossible. Every time a virus replicates, there is a chance of a mutation. Stop an outbreak, and you stop the mutations.

If, however, the unthinkable occurs, I am confident of one thing: It will not be a shining moment in humanity's history. We fear the unknown, for the most part. And when the unknown is also unseen until it strikes, it is a recipe ripe for panic and paranoia.

* * *

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fringeville #123, September 28 2014

...I just needed eight more kicks to bring this baby home.

The Lions got punched in the face yesterday by a 1-2 Northwestern squad. 29-6. In Beaver Stadium. And who (of course) provided the points? Fricken Ficken. God Bless him.

To quote both Hans Solo and Darth Vader, I had a bad feeling about this one. So I took the wife on a foliage ride.

And a splendid time was had.

In two weeks we'll see how they respond to their first pounding. Welcome to the meat of your season, men. time, use the damned Force!

* * *

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fringeville #122, September 21 2014

Churchill knew this. It is a bit of wisdom we need to put in practice in this country at all levels of government before it is too late.

Winston Churchill also suffered from bouts of depression, and they may have been a major factor in how he led Britain through the dark and dangerous years of World War II, when many were ready to write off his island nation to the Nazis.

He called these fits of depression his "Black Dog."  And yet, as debilitating as depression can be, he managed to rise above it at a time when lesser men would have thrown in the towel.

These days, I think a lot about Winston's Black Dog. I haven't had to wrestle much with this beast for a long time, but this year is different. Every time I think I've got the little sumbitch penned up, he breaks free and snaps at my heals.

I wish I could cattle-prod the little peckerwood. I'll have to settle for the palliative effects of wings and java.

* * *

Frickin' Ficken. I love this guy.

For a while on Saturday, it looked like another day where the unsung hero for Penn State was going to be Sam Ficken. Penn State is 4-0, but Ficken's foot is why the Lion's weren't 1-2 heading into the game Saturday with Massachusetts. When Christian Hackenberg got off to an agonizingly ssslllooowww start, reliable #97 (or, as I like to call  him, Frickin' Ficken) put a pair of field goals on the board to get the Lions some points that salvaged two drives.

This time out, however, the Lions finally got their running game going. (Truth is, I thought it started to improve in the second half of the Rutgers game). Frickin' Ficken was pretty busy the rest of the day, but this time he was sending thundering kicks through the end zone on kickoffs and kicking a mess of extra points.

But I love this kid. He's a great story. After a very shaky start at Penn State, he has become Mr. Reliable.

Nah...I don't like the sound of that.

Frickin' Ficken. That's the ticket.

* * *

...another day, another shooting in Wilkes-Barre

There was a shooting this past week in Wilkes-Barre. Not exactly earth shaking news these days. This time out, a 23-year old man died of multiple gunshot wounds. According to the Times Leader, the victim was facing drug charges filed by police in Hanover Township.

There were the usual and predictable comments posted at local news sites. Honestly, I've gotten to where I almost never read the comments anymore. You can just cut and paste them from story to story and probably never notice the difference.

As I have so many times, I digested the story and put it down as another case of the drug-related violence that has turned parts of Wilkes-Barre into a combat zone. A place where gunshots are just part of the normal background noise once darkness falls. I figured it was simply one less member of our local criminal element out of the picture. One who would not have the opportunity to shoot someone else one day.

But a funny thing happened along the way to my quick rush to judgement: I read a Facebook post by someone I respect who knew the person who was shot. Someone who was absolutely heartbroken. Someone who had worked to salvage this person's life.

At that point, I realized this was not a story about yet another faceless gangster/drug dealer/thug the world was better off without. There is a bigger picture here: we are losing far too many of our young people to drugs and the violence that often comes with it.

It is easy to frown at the newspaper and dismiss a homicide victim as one less drug dealer. It's a helluva lot harder to look in the mirror and admit to ourselves that as a society we have failed.

Which takes us back to Churchill. And courage. Are we strong enough to admit we have failed? And are we courageous enough to do anything about it?

* * *

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fringeville #121, September 14 2014

SAY OUR NAME time, Kyle, none of this TTFP crap. It just pisses them off...

I think we got us a big, fat, new-old rivalry.

...sometimes, you just gotta say the name...
 * * *

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fringeville #120, September 12 2014

Pilot to Bombardier...Fire at Will!

Due to basic anatomy, guys learn as kids that there are some things they can do that the girls just can't. One of the first things we learn is that males can gain remarkable control of their urinary streams. This seems to be a skill reserved for humans. Dogs, for instance, just raise their legs and fire.

Not so, males of the human species. Early on, we get coached on how to make sure we're not missing our target: the toilet bowl. The coaching goes (with variation) something like this:

Dad: C'mon son. Time to pee.
Son: Oh, boy! Cheerios!
Dad: We're not eating these.
Dad: Aim at the hole.
Son: Cheerios in the toilet!
Dad: Yes. Aim. Sink one.
Son: Really???
Dad: Mom doesn't want to mop the floor every time you have to pee.
Son: Are we still gonna eat it?
Dad: No! Just sink the damned thing.
Mom: (from the other side of the door): What the hell is going on? Do I need the mop again?
Dad:  We're playing sink the Bismark. Aim son!
Son: I missed!
Dad: Yeah, you did. Next time, I'm not wearing sandals. Try again!
Son: I did it! I did it!
Dad: Great job. Go tell Mom. She's in the kitchen.
Dad washes feet. Mom enters the room.
Mom: What did you do in here?
Dad: You didn't want him peeing on the floor. I had him sink some Cheerios.
Mom: That explains it.
Dad: Explains what?
Mom: He just tried to pee in a box of Krispy Kremes.

After fits and starts, guys get pretty good at fire control. By elementary school, they can write their names in the snow. The skill remains pretty much intact until they hit college age and discover fraternities and/or alcohol, when the skill degrades temporarily.

And then there's prostate cancer, which plays all kinds of havoc on the male urinary system. If you get that bad boy removed, you find yourself relearning all the basic skills, including dancing the Watusi when you have to absolutely go the bathroom this very second.

But one day, if you are patient and the gods of healing are friendly to you, it all comes back. Cheerio Mojo. But I will not, under any circumstances, relive grade school and write my name.

And your Krispy Kremes are safe.

* * * 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fringeville #119, September 08 2014

Saturday: a really, really, REALLY, bad day for the B1G

Crash. Burn.

Buckeyes: Bombed.
Wolverines: Whipped
Spartans: Speared.
Boilermakers: Boiled alive.

And the rest of the B1G: Many of the wins were not pretty, and some could have/should have been losses. I mean... Nebraska nearly losing to McNeese State? I remember when they'd hang 50 on a team like that before halftime.

Hey, but Penn State beat Akron so I had a good weekend. Rutgers won, too. So come Saturday, an undefeated B1G team will win.

Put the wings on!

* * *

Suddenly, that upcoming Rutgers game takes on all kinds of significance.  With the Big Ten already written off by some folks, the NCAA (in their own inimitable style) just turned everything on its head: they immediately revoked Penn State's bowl ban and restored its football scholarships.

Penn State could conceivably win the Big Ten crown. Realistically, that would be a stretch as they are still very, very thin due to the scholarship reductions placed on them.

But with much of the conference having apparently degenerated to turtle-poop, this season instantly became a helluva lot more interesting.

I gotta go dig out my buffalo dip recipe. I might have me a bowl game to watch this year!

* * *

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fringeville #118, September 07 2014

Political Blog of the Year?

To my very great surprise, Fringeville is one of the blogs up for the NEPA BlogCon "Political Blog of the Year" award.

I'm surprised because not only do I not blog every day, but most of my posts this year have been centered around my war with prostate cancer. But there are folks out there who really live and breathe politics. My personal favorite is David Yonki. He keeps churning out excellent work, and he does some great features to change the pace now and again.

My prediction is Yonk will capture the award. I'll seize last place, just as I did in my 2013 bid for a seat on the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board.

The Yonk, author of the Lulac Political Letter
* * *

Elise Mosca

Speaking of the Wilkes-Barre Area School District: Now that I'm a big-shot political blogger, I will speak my mind on something. I've read some really nasty comments about Elise Mosca from the usual spineless and anonymous folks who dwell in the comments sections of our local newspapers. Mosca, for the three people within 100 miles who don't know who she is, has requested multiple leaves of absence to appear on reality shows and such.

The folks who deserve all the blame for this sit on the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board. Their loosey-goosey practice of letting folks take time off for, apparently, just about anything is inexcusable. 

Taking time off for illness, military service, or parenting is one thing. To land a mate on national television ...umm ... no. It's not what their policy states, but by gosh they let her do it anyway. They granted two consecutive leaves because of "past practices."  That's a euphemism for "anything goes 'round here."

Those folks who want to give Mosca a hard time should direct their broadsides at the folks who granted the leave. And while they're at it, they should ask how the search for all that missing scaffolding is going.

I don't know why we should expect better from this district. When I ran last year, I compared their anti-nepotism policy to the NFL's prevent defense. Why? Neither works.

And now for your hot political newsflash: None of the above is a warmup for another run for office. For any office. I'm done. I've discovered it's a heckuva lot more fun to work behind the scenes.

Ciao for now. And next post will likely be about chicken wings. I haven't written a lick about them in days.

* * *

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fringeville #117, September 01 2014 vast pile of Blogger Moolah is growing...

Happy Labor Day.

Today, I plan to labor. First, I am taking a moment to reflect upon the fruits of my Internet enterprises.

The month of August I got the most traffic here at Fringeville since August of 2010. This drove a huge, huge spike in my Google ad revenue.

I earned eight cents in August.

This puts my balance at $4.59. I am closing in on a wing order here, folks.

On a more serious note, now that I have clear sailing on the health front, I can look at picking up some additional work. I have a day job, and it's a great one. I do some side work once a month, and that's a help. But in today's economy, if you're not working 2-3 jobs you're basically a slacker. What's the point of celebrating Labor Day if you're not on the edge of complete and total physical exhaustion?

Not knowing if I faced additional treatment for my prostate cancer held me back from looking for additional work. Now the shackles are off, so to speak.

...Maybe a third shift cooking chicken wings somewhere. No ..wait ...I'd eat the merchandise.

Have a safe and happy Labor Day, all. Then quit slacking and get the hell back to work.

* * *

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fringeville #116, August 30 2014

...manning his watchtower

I get up every morning long before anyone else. Sometimes I'm up at 3AM or so. Sometimes I laze around until 5 or 6. But as soon as my feet hit the floor, our cat Psycho dashes out to the kitchen and waits impatiently for me to make coffee. We then trot off to the living room together to watch whatever political nonsense is on MSNBC (I like my comedy early in the day). Once my butt is on the couch, he jumps up on the armrest. He circles around and around about a dozen times to find the perfect spot ...stopping occasionally to nuzzle me ...then he mans his watchpost while I drink coffee.

He has captured the high ground. He will defend it against his two brothers or any other creature that dares approach.

This routine developed mostly over the last year. If I broke it for any reason; if I dared just leave the house without sitting a bit with him ...he held me in low regard the rest of the day.

But next morning I would find him waiting for me. All was forgiven.

I went out last evening to get cat food. By the time I got home, he was gone. He simply died with no warning.

I couldn't sit at the couch this morning. I made my coffee and went to my work table to post this.

Why do we have pets? Why do we knowingly invest so much into them emotionally when odds are we will lose them and not vice-versa? Why do we intentionally set ourselves up for pain?

Well, I think it is because our pets love us unconditionally. When the whole damned Universe is falling on our heads, our pets are there at our side. Or at our feet. Or manning a post on the couch.

I hope there is an abundance of small beads for you to chase across the floor wherever you are now, Psycho. Sleep well, dear friend.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fringeville #115, August 28 2014

...A Cheese Steak Day?

Today is Philly Road Trip Day. It's the first of a number of visits over which I will learn if I am still on the curable curve for prostate cancer, or if I have meandered into having a "treatable" disease.

So, ever the optimist, I'm going to try to get the most out of a couple of hours in Philadelphia. There may be a cheese steak on the agenda, depending on the mood after my doctor's visit.

I'm going to make this a multi-post day, so this edition of Fringeville will be a little different. Stay tuned.

* * *

The verdict from my doctor: I remain very firmly on the curable track. I am doing exceptionally well. The all-important PSA level is undetectable. I was particularly worried about the first post-surgery PSA result. If that showed a biochemical failure, then part of the visit may have covered options for "salvage" therapy.

Salvage therapy.

Like I'm a '57 Ford being rescued from the crusher at a junk yard. Prospects of radiation therapy with some hormones tossed in to keep things interesting. An uncertain future. 

Pardon me for not wanting to be "salvaged." I don't want to be treatable. I want to be cured.

In other good news, my post-surgery progress is excellent. My weight has stayed down. My urinary system is healing and I'm not dashing to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Really ...the news could not have been better.

I made the offer to be a resource for other men facing this disease. I do that kind of thing now as a cochlear implant volunteer. It just seemed like the natural thing for me to do.

Other than parking in the wrong damned lot and paying $21 for less than two hours to stable the Neon, nothing about the trip was a downer. But $21 bucks? Sheesh! That's two wings-and-suds meals up here in NEPA. I love Philly, but some things down there ain't cheap.

As to the rest of the day in Philadelphia:  I wanted to blog live using my phone, but I couldn't login to blogger. I have some cryptic password I cannot remember and I don't have a local copy of it on my phone. So I settled for posting a picture of a Geno's cheese steak on Instagram.

Here are some other all-important cheese steak pics:

...this might make a dent in my weight. Frankly, I don't care.

Geno's was busy but not crazy.

...I think the missus is texting she'll kill me if she ends up on the Internet...

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fringeville #114, August 26 2014

...yesterday it was time for something completely different...

...after post-upon-post about my prostate cancer adventure, yesterday's post was a nice change of pace. I think I will continue to mix things up. There are weeks (like this one) where I really need to do that.

That's all back to your regularly-scheduled blog-o-rama...

* * *

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fringeville #113, August 25 2014

State Senator Lisa Baker and Luzerne County Chair Bill Urbanski


It's a shame most people, including many who should know better, pass on events like Sunday's Luzerne County GOP picnic. They miss a helluva good time.

But they also miss a chance to get up close with candidates like Doc Moylan, office holders like Lisa Baker, and folks like Pennsylvania's Revenue Secretary, Dan Meuser (below, chatting up some happy picknickers)

Yes, you can expect to hear some "rally the troops to victory." But you never have a better opportunity to meet these folks and talk to them one-on-one.

This year's picnic was at Urbanski Farms in Rice Township. The attendance was good. The weather was outstanding. The food was great. (Disclaimer: I was the grill-meister. But it's one of the few things I'm half decent at if you keep it simple.)

...I was in my element...

And you never know what you will learn at an event on a working farm. I joined Senator Baker and Ron Ferrance for a tour of the shed where maple syrup is made. I learned red maples have 2% sugar in their sap, and that a 55 gallon barrel of sap will net about a gallon of maple syrup. I also learned that no one looks better in yellow than Senator Baker. Don't even try it, Yudichak.


* * *

UPDATE:  Some may be concerned about what seems like harsh words for Senator Yudichak. Not so. My fashion-wear warning was for his own good. I've met the Senator. He's affable. A sharp dresser. Senator, again, don't even think about doing it ...this is what happens when you put a guy in a yellow suit:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fringeville #112, August 21 2014

I've been told to make more videos. Probably because I am certifiably insane. What say you??

Y'all want more of this???

...a man. A phone. No plan. No talent. God help us.

* * *

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fringeville #111, August 19 2014

...serves me right.
I said I'd be back soon ...and this time I really was.

I mentioned in my earlier post that I would get my PSA results before I went to Philly to see my doctor. That was the plan and a marvelous, splendiferous plan it was. I'd go to my usual lab, have the blood drawn today, get the results early next week, and take'em with me. And read them ahead of time, of course.

So I schlepped down to my lab today and handed in the sheet for the blood draw.

"We can't do that here," I was told.


It turns out it is an ultra-sensitive PSA test. Why "ultra-sensitive?" Because, with no prostate, my PSA should theoretically be non-existent or nearly so (less than 0.1 nanograms per milliliter, or the PSA equivalent of a reality TV star's IQ). We're looking for mere smidgens of smidgens of smidgens of PSA here, kids.

And my lab doesn't do the smidgens of smidgens of smidgens of PSA tests.

The nearest labs that did, and which took my insurance, were in Scranton or Hazleton. Scranton is closer as the crow flies, but pure hell as the PennDot flagger's flag flies, so Hazleton it was.

I found the lab and got the blood drawn. I asked if I would be e-mailed a copy ASAP.

Nope. They're gonna snail-mail me a copy.

Oh, Joy!

"When will I get them?"

"After the doctor does. The blood goes from this lab to Philadelphia, and then to California. You'll get the results later."

This meant that from the moment the blood was drawn until next Thursday I will be in the very place I was trying to avoid: THE DARK.

On the upside, at least my blood is seeing America. Happy vacation, corpuscles! Stop in Memphis and have some barbecue. Say hello to the antibodies for me. Miss you guys.

Now my family will be forced to watch me grow ever more manic with each passing day as I dwell on whether the ol' PSA is undetectable or if I will discover I have "biochemical failure." That's a fancy way of saying my prostate cancer has taken up residence somewhere else and is happily churning out PSA ...and multiplying some nook and cranny of my body.

Even though that is highly unlikely so soon after surgery, this will be the torturous game I have to play for a long, long time. Blood draw. Anxiety. Relief. Or "biochemical failure."

So my strategy is this:  I am going to focus on getting shit done. (Sorry for the cuss, but it is the only accurate way to put it.) If it turns out that I am the equivalent of a milk carton with an early expiration date, I will make a helluva lot of milkshakes before this ugly-ass carton goes bad. (Yes, a truly terrible metaphor, but I get a pass on that today. And at least I didn't dangle a damned participle.)

Ciao for now.

Their stomachs growling, the wings cooked. Sorry I couldn't help myself. 

* * *