Friday, April 18, 2014


Seattle by Public Image Ltd.

This song was introduced to me by my ex best friend, who was very much into "progressive" music.  I think it's a pretty cool song, so I'm glad she exposed me to it, even though I don't consider her a friend anymore.  Now that I've had the chance to think about it, I think I'd be pretty happy to move to Seattle, if that's what's in store for us.  I'm trying not to get too excited, though.  The whole thing could easily fall apart.  Though if it doesn't, that'll be very cool.  I like Seattle and I like the idea of moving to a totally different region.  This would be the first time since I was a baby that I didn't either live abroad or in a southern state.

While I don't relish the idea of driving for days to get there, I am a little excited about driving through states I've never seen before.  It would take about six days to get to Seattle from San Antonio and we'd be doing it with dogs.  I worry a bit about money, but if Bill gets this job, he'll get a sign on bonus.  That should help…

My mouth is still painful from those damn ulcers.  I think they were brought on by stress.

I read a friend from Facebook's manuscript.  I haven't seen this woman since high school, but she clued in that I have some editing skills.  As a favor to her, I read a book she published and gave her my thoughts.  She made it sound like the book wasn't good-- it's a how to book on making better tips in the restaurant business.  I thought it was a decent book, but it needs editing and expanding.  I was happy to help her out and I hope what I said made sense.

Bill is having his physical today and should be home early this afternoon.  In the meantime, I'm sure something will piss me off enough that I'll come back and write some more.    

My mom sent me a photo that was taken of the family at Thanksgiving.  My family is very attractive.  It's too bad we weren't there, but I'm glad we were in Texas to celebrate with Bill's mom, who has no one else besides her sister in Houston.  It was good to spend the holidays with her, especially since next year we could be out west.

It's funny…  I think we kind of dreamt one day we'd live in the Pacific Northwest, but never really thought it would happen.  Now it looks like we could actually move out there and it seems surreal.  I commented to Bill that he seems to be getting "do-overs" of the better places he lived in with his ex.  He lived in Germany with ex and with me.  He lived in Yakima, Washington with ex and may get to live in Seattle with me.  I draw the line at a do-over in Arkansas, though...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

They don't make 'em like this anymore...

I really recommend watching this clip...

In this clip, George Jefferson throws an engagement party for his son, who is marrying Jenny Willis.  He invites Archie and Edith Bunker over and they are on hand to see George's reaction when he finds out Jenny's the product of an interracial relationship.

I haven't seen this kind of comedy in years.  Yes, the n-word is said openly, since this clip is from 1974 and back then, they'd say all kinds of racist things on TV…  Here, they do it intelligently, poking fun at the racism that was very prevalent back then in a way that wasn't overly politically correct.

I went to see the dentist today.  Had to get a cleaning, although I also have a big canker sore that hurts like the dickens.  Bill was with me.  Afterwards, we went to an eye doctor's office and I made an appointment to get my eyes checked on Saturday so I can get more contact lenses.  That ought to take care of my healthcare needs for awhile, barring any catastrophes.

Speaking of catastrophes, on the way home, we witnessed a somewhat bad fender bender.  It was rush hour and some dipshit in a big SUV was trying to dart in and out of traffic.  He very nearly hit us and did actually rear end some poor woman making her way down 1604 Loop.  At first it looked like he was going to hit and run, but he pulled over.  I saw her pull over too.  She looked really pissed, as well she should have been.  The guy was totally at fault, driving like an idiot.

I have a big canker sore on the bottom of my mouth.  The dentist gasped when she saw it.  It hurts like the dickens.

Bill gets one night in New York next week, then will come home on Thursday night, after he meets everyone.  After that, we should have more of an idea of what might come next.  I get the sense that the interview will go well, though.  They seem keen to have Bill… so I hope it works out for the best.

Man waits 13 years for instructions to go to prison...

This morning, I read a news story about a guy who committed armed robbery with a BB gun back in 1999.  Cornealious Anderson of St. Louis, Missouri was given a prison sentence of 13 years, but instead of taking him directly to jail after the sentencing, he was told to go home and wait for instructions.  He went home and waited 13 years before a SWAT team was dispatched to his home to pick him up.

Here's the crazy part.  Over the past 13 years, Anderson has turned his life around.  He got a job, got married, had kids, started his own businesses, and paid taxes.  He never hid from the law.  He even got pulled over for traffic violations and never set off any alarms.  Imagine how shocked he must have been when he was visited by a SWAT team while feeding his three year old daughter.

So now Mr. Anderson is in prison, paying his "debt" to society.  I know he broke the law years ago and should have gone to prison then.  But honestly, the local law enforcement agency royally fucked this up.  Anderson did what they told him to do.  Yes, he could have presented himself to the authorities and asked them what to do, but honestly, how many people are in a hurry to go to prison?

In the meantime, Anderson has become a fine, upstanding citizen.  How does it serve society to make him go to prison now?  Why not have him do community service?  The way it is now, he's a tax burden instead of a contributing, tax paying contributor to society.  He has kids who are growing up without their father, which could put them at risk.

As it stands now, it won't surprise me if he doesn't end up serving the 13 years he was supposed to serve.  But maybe I'm too optimistic.

In other news...  

Bill has been invited to New York City for yet another interview with the company who has been giving him the "rush" since last month.  If all goes well, we could be moving to Seattle in a couple of months.  Or we could be moving somewhere else.  All I have to say is that at this point, it doesn't look like we'll be staying in San Antonio.

I have been looking at home prices in the Seattle area and I fear that our dream of home ownership may have to be put on the back burner again.  On the other hand, this is probably going to be a great opportunity for Bill if he gets this job.  It also looks like the field he's going into is going to be red hot for years to come and potentially very lucrative.  I might have to study cyber security myself.

None of the government/contracting jobs Bill has applied for are looking promising at this point.  But again, it's kind of early…

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Two books about what it's like to have an organ transplant...

Reposting two Epinions reviews about what it's like to receive a donated organ.  I just thought of them today because I was looking up Amy Silverstein, author of Sick Girl.  I remembered I read and enjoyed her book… or maybe I didn't enjoy it as much as I found it interesting.  I also read Claire Sylvia's fascinating book, a change of heart.  Claire Sylvia's book is a bit more on the new age side, plus she got more than one organ.  Fascinating read!

Heart transplant... the lousy gift of life?

 Nov 14, 2007 (Updated Nov 14, 2007)
Review by    is a Top Reviewer on Epinions in Books
Rated a Very Helpful Review

    Pros:Rare chance to understand what it's like to live after a heart transplant. 

    Cons:Some may think Amy Silverstein is very ungrateful and self-pitying.

    The Bottom Line:Amy Silverstein's status as a Sick Girl is an opportunity for the rest of us to learn and grow.

    Credit People magazine once again for inspiring me to read something new. A few weeks ago, I was reading the book reviews and came across one for Amy Silverstein's 2007 book, Sick Girl. The review in People mostly praised Silverstein's book about her life seventeen years post heart transplant, but warned that at times, Silverstein wallowed a bit in self-pity. I was intrigued by the description and was already ordering another book anyway. I threw Sick Girl into my virtual cart on so I could see for myself.

    At the beginning of Sick Girl, Amy Silverstein describes helping her husband, Scott, and son, Casey, prepare for a long awaited trip to the Super Bowl. As she packs Casey's suitcase, she contemplates ending her life. It's 2005. Amy Silverstein is in her early 40s and has, for seventeen years, lived with someone else's heart transplanted in her chest. She has far exceeded the life expectancy her doctors gave her when she got her heart transplant back in 1988. They told her she'd have ten years. She'd lived seventeen, enduring endless medical crises and procedures. Through it all, she'd never gotten well or felt like her old self. She'd been nothing but sick and tired. She doesn't want to suffer anymore, so while her husband and son are out of town, watching a live game of professional football, she plans to stop taking her immunosuppressant medications. She hopes to be dead by the time they get home.

    I read this introduction and inwardly groaned. The reviewer in People magazine had not lied; I thought to myself. The writing did seem a bit melodramatic and self-pitying. But I felt compelled to keep reading and by the time I finished, I had a rudimentary understanding of why Amy Silverstein wanted to reject the precious gift she received from an anonymous 13 year old Ohio girl back in 1988.

    Amy Silverstein was a pretty 24 year old law student at New York University when she fell ill. She'd been having trouble with fainting and went to see her doctor, who told her to start salting her food because her blood pressure was very low. The salt cure hadn't helped and Amy got worse. She went to the doctor again, who sent her for a battery of tests, the results of which ultimately revealed cardiomyopathy. It appeared that a virus had attacked and pretty much destroyed her heart. That was the end of Amy Silverstein, healthy girl.

    Doctors told Silverstein that she needed a heart transplant. She managed to get one before her time ran out. Exactly one year after her transplant, she married her loving husband, Scott, who had fallen in love with her when she was still healthy. I found Amy's description of her wedding day very poignant. People were so happy for her. They thought that 13 year old heart had cured her and she was the picture of health. They didn't know that Amy had to break away from her party to take powerful immunosuppressant drugs that would make her feel ill and poison her immune system. The immune system is designed to keep a person well, but to Amy, the immune system was an enemy. She swallowed the poison and went back to her reception, trying hard not to vomit and spoil other peoples' fun.

    Later, Amy writes about having coffee with a friend and complaining about her recurrent sinus infections. She'd had eleven sinus infections in that year alone and was on yet another powerful round of antibiotics. Amy's well meaning friend told her that she should do what AIDS patients do-- take drugs to bolster her immune system. Amy told her friend that bolstering her immune system would kill her because it would destroy her transplanted heart. She tried to explain, but the friend just didn't understand and wanted to change the subject. In fact, it seemed that no one understood what having a heart transplant was like. It seemed that everyone expected Amy Silverstein to be nothing but happy that she was still living, even though living meant that she was always sick and could rarely enjoy life.

    Sick Girl offers a fascinating look at what it's like to be an organ recipient. It really opened my eyes to concepts I had never considered-- not that I had ever truly considered what it's like to live with a vital organ that used to belong to someone else. On an intellectual level, I knew that transplant recipients had to take powerful anti-rejection drugs. But I never knew that living with those powerful drugs meant living with extremely unpleasant side effects. Though it certainly makes sense to me now, it had never occurred to me that those heavy duty drugs would force transplant patients to deal with endless infections, constant nausea, and eventually, the possibility of cancer. Essentially, having a transplant means trading one major health problem for at least one other.

    One of the most interesting passages in Sick Girl is when Silverstein describes what her transplanted heart feels like when it's beating inside her chest. Silverstein explains that transplanted hearts are not connected to a person's central nervous system. The nerves are all severed when the heart is cut away from its original owner. So, something could startle Amy Silverstein, but her heart would not react until a couple of minutes later, when her adrenaline kicked in. By that time, the scare might have ended, but the heart is only just starting react to it in an odd delayed response.

    I also enjoyed reading about how Amy Silverstein's perspective changed as she learned more about her body. For years, she thought she was sick because she was suddenly stricken by a virus that had attacked her heart. She felt bitter because she felt like she'd been targeted by an unlucky random event. But one day, one of her old doctors surprised her with the news that she'd actually been sick from birth and no one ever knew it. As it turned out, she'd had twenty-four years of good health against all odds. She hadn't been unlucky. In fact, she'd been extremely fortunate.

    Despite my initial thoughts that Sick Girl would be a real downer, I ended up really liking it. Yes, it's true that Silverstein does a fair amount of whining and is often very negative, particularly about the people charged to take care of her. But she admits that she complains a lot and, under the circumstances, it seems like she's justified in doing so. Everyone seemed to think that she should be grateful for the gift of life, given to her by an adolescent girl whose life was snuffed out in a car accident. People seemed to think that Silverstein should soldier on without complaint, enduring every inconvenience and obstacle that confronted her, all the while with a smile on her face and courage in her borrowed heart. No one seemed to care about what it was really like for her. And no one wanted to hear that she was sorely tempted to reject her precious gift in favor of death. Suicide talk was definitely not cool.

    Amy Silverstein was suffering. Had she just been dealing with garden variety depression, people would have told her to talk about her feelings with a therapist. But because she'd had a heart transplant, people seemed to think that Silverstein had every reason in the world to be grateful and happy. She had no cause to be depressed because she'd been given a second chance at life. It's my belief that Sick Girl is Amy Silverstein's chance to finally have her say with an audience of people who want to hear her and understand. In a way, perhaps writing Sick Girl helped Amy save her own life so that she could be there as long as possible for her husband and son and offer something to the world that would make living her difficult life more worthwhile.

    I devoured this book in just a couple of days, finding it very hard to put down. Yes, there's a lot of bitterness, self-pity, and whining in it, but I came away from it feeling very inspired. I would definitely recommend Sick Girl to anyone who likes good stories. In my opinion, Sick Girl gave Amy Silverstein herown purpose for living-- to tell the world about her heart transplant and give them a new perspective instead of just living for the sake of other people. And that's what makes it a very special book.

    Amy Silverstein's Web site:

    Recommend this product? Yes

    You took the part that once was my heart...

     May 14, 2008 (Updated Mar 15, 2010)
    Review by   
    Rated a Very Helpful Review

      Pros:Beautifully written. Faith affirming.

      Cons:Seems slightly sugar coated. Some may dismiss it as "bunk".

      The Bottom Line:Claire Sylvia's change of heart is astonishing and inspiring.

      A few weeks ago, I happened to find a human interest story on the Internet about Claire Sylvia, a woman who underwent a heart-and-lung transplant to save her life from pulmonary hypertension, a deadly lung disease. I read with fascination about how, once Sylvia got her new organs, she found herself craving foods she had previously hated and was drawn to activities she once never dared to try. Further into the article, the author mentioned that Sylvia had written a book back in 1997. Intrigued by her story, I immediately went to in search of A Change of Heart: A Memoir, a book Sylvia co-authored with William Novak. I was surprised to find Sylvia's book out of print since it was so recently mentioned in an Internet article. Luckily, plenty of used copies are still around.

      Claire Sylvia begins her story by describing the illness that had led her to writing. In the late 1980s, Claire Sylvia was dying of pulmonary hypertension. She became the first person in New England to undergo a heart-and-lung transplant, receiving the organs of an 18 year old man who had died in a motorcycle accident. Suddenly, Sylvia's body began to pulsate with life and vitality. She thought that with the supreme gift of life donated by the young man's generous family, her worries about her heart and lungs were over. But as she recovered from the operation, Sylvia began to feel that she had gotten more than just healthy organs when she received a new heart and lungs.

      Sylvia began to have dreams that suggested that the young man's spirit was now inside of her. She began to crave green peppers, a food she had previously hated. One of the first things she asked for upon regaining consciousness was a cold beer, a beverage she had never enjoyed before the transplant. She talked to her doctors about these new feelings and they assured her that a heart was just a pump. It wasn't possible to transplant another person's spirit along with their organs.

      Sylvia began to have vivid dreams about her donor. A few months after her surgery, she dreamt she met a tall, thin, blond young man named Tim. In the dream, Sylvia and the young man were good friends. As they part company, Sylvia feels that her business with Tim is not finished. She kisses him and realizes that they will be together forever. Somehow she knew the man in her dream was her donor. Unfortunately, the rules would not allow the healthcare professionals to reveal her donor's identity, nor could her donor's family know who Sylvia was. The officials claimed it was "for the best". In fact, Sylvia already knew more than she was supposed to know.

      Despite the good intentions of the medical staff, Claire Sylvia did eventually meet her donor's family. She found them through a combination of research, common sense, and the clues given to her by the previous owner of her heart and lungs. And when she did meet Tim's family, she learned why she was suddenly drawn to men who rode motorcycles and why she wanted to eat chicken nuggets, a food she had once detested. Though the medical staff had warned her that she was "opening a can of worms", Sylvia found herself welcomed into Tim's family as if she were one of them.

      My thoughts...

      I found Change of Heart fascinating to read. With the help of her co-author, William Novak, Claire Sylvia has written a beautiful, heartwarming story about the wonderful gift of organ donation. And while some people may dismiss her story as new age bunk, I found it astonishing and hopeful.

      On the other hand, while I found Claire Sylvia's book very inspiring and interesting, I also wondered if she wasn't sugar coating her experiences somewhat. A few months ago, I read and reviewed Sick Girl, another book about organ donation that presented it in a very negative light. Amy Silverstein, the author of Sick Girl, was brutally honest and quite negative about her heart transplant experience. Silverstein wrote of horrible side effects from drugs, constant sinus infections, and never ending worries about developing cancer.

      Claire Sylvia's book, by contrast, is overwhelmingly positive. She barely mentions the powerful drugs she must take every day to ward off rejection. She doesn't mention the inconvenience of frequent visits to doctor's offices. She almost makes her transplant out to be a desirable experience, as if by having someone else's heart and lungs, she's somehow more evolved as a human being.

      Don't get me wrong. I'm glad Claire Sylvia is so positive about her transplant. I'm am pleased that she's grateful and she's been able to make peace with her donor's family. I am happy that she's been able to find answers. I still can't help but wonder if her experience has been all miraculous. I also wonder if her experience is common among transplant recipients. Would someone reading this book after having a transplant also be able to relate?

      Anyway, I'm glad Sylvia wrote her story. I found it well written and very moving. It gives me hope that all of the things I learned about faith in something beyond the tangible and obvious could be true. It also gives me faith that perhaps it doesn't matter what religion a person is. Claire Sylvia is Jewish. Her donor was Catholic, as is the rest of his family. And yet, despite their different religious beliefs, they are still able to share in something amazing and faith affirming.

      By the way, according to the news article that prompted me to read A Change of Heart, Claire Sylvia, who is now 68 years old, also had a kidney transplant in 1998. Her transplanted kidney came from her ex boyfriend and ballroom dance partner. Apparently, after that transplant, Sylvia developed a fondness for cooking and started baking things for her donor. He told her that she cooks just like his mother used to.

      I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys inspirational memoirs and those who can believe that cellular memory can last beyond a person's death. Claire Sylvia's got a great story to tell for those who want to believe it.

      For those who want to read the article that prompted me to seek out this book...,2933,349770,00.html

      As of today, it's still online.

      Hot for teacher...

      Yet another teacher has taken advantage of her position by allegedly having sex with a student.  This time, it's Jennifer Fichter, a 29 year old English teacher at Central Florida Aerospace Academy in Lakeland, Florida.  Fichter supposedly told the mother of a 17 year old boy that she and the boy had been having an ongoing affair.  Mom caught wind of the relationship when she intercepted text messages on her son's phone.  She asked the teacher to come by her house for a "talk".

      Fichter spoke on the phone with the young man's mom and confessed that the two had had sex 20 to 30 times since last November.  They also had sex in the teacher's pickup.  Worse, the teacher had also had an abortion after getting pregnant by her student.  She claimed to "love" the boy, who was her student, and hoped for a relationship.

      Police recorded the phone call, so now Fichter is behind bars.  She was arrested at her apartment about 90 minutes after the phone call.  

      It's always interesting to read the comments people leave after a story like this one breaks.  When it's a male adult with a female teenager, people are generally outraged.  When it's the other way around, there are usually a lot of jokey comments, depending on how pretty the adult female is.  In this case, the teacher appears to be attractive, so a lot of guys are saying they'd "hit that".  Very few are commenting about how inappropriate and unprofessional it is for adults to be having sex with minors, especially when the adult is in a position of trust.  I don't know what it is about some people with this reptilian mindset.

      I don't have any kids myself, but I think I'd be pretty outraged about this.  While female predators are less common statistically speaking than male predators are, it's still distressing when it happens.  If she'd kept her baby, there's no telling what might have happened.  The boy might have wound up having to pay child support… although if I were that boy's mother, I'd be pushing for custody.

      Naturally, this teacher is now suspended and will likely be terminated, but those are the least of her problems now.  I suspect she's going to go to the clink for awhile, though naturally she'll spend less time there than she would if she were a man.  I don't know if this will ultimately turn out like the Mary Kay LeTourneau case, with the couple getting married once the young man comes of age.  Somehow, I doubt it.  Teacher seems immature and mixed up.  Student seems like a young man on the cusp of adulthood who will eventually move on to someone more appropriate.  What a waste.    

      Tuesday, April 15, 2014

      I'm not into cubicles...

      This was taken in North Carolina.  I don't know what I said to make Bill smile like this.

      Tonight, I posted a funny picture of Bill and asked friends to caption it.  A friend wrote "You go use those fancy degrees and get a job!"

      I have to admit, that comment kind of hurt.  You see, I graduated from grad school twelve years ago.  And while I learned a lot and got a lot of experience, in reality, I can't imagine that a lot of employers will think my time in grad school is relevant since I've been a housewife for almost twelve years.  My friend didn't mean to hurt my feelings.  I just don't think she quite understands the plight of career oriented military wives.  Her husband is retired Army, but she married him at the end of his career and never had to uproot the way most military spouses do.  Some are lucky to have jobs that are portable or bosses who don't mind remote work.  I didn't, though writing has become my de facto job.  I do make money doing what I do, but not nearly as much as I could if I were using my "fancy degrees".

      Anyway, there was a time when I considered myself traditionally career oriented.  I certainly never would have gone to grad school if it weren't my aim to get a 8-5 "real job".  I'd prefer not to owe tens of thousands of dollars for degrees I don't use.  When I asked my friend who she thought would hire me, she said she didn't know… which kind of made things worse.  Yes, I could get a job if I wanted a job.  But it's not likely it would be the kind of work that would pay enough to be worthwhile for me.  In fairness, I admit I haven't been looking lately.

      Bill is a sweetheart, though, and he left a long comment explaining that he's fine with how things are.  I know I'm lucky.  A lot of guys are not nearly as kind or understanding.  He also knows that I hate cubicles.  

      So glad we've spent this time together...

      Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, I remember The Carol Burnett Show with great fondness.  For months, I've had her book, This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection, on my iPad.  I just finished reading it last night and, I've got to say, it's a delightful book.  Carol Burnett shares heartwarming and funny anecdotes about her family and long career in show business.  She comes off as a genuinely wonderful woman who has stayed true to herself as she's rubbed elbows with some true Hollywood legends.

      I'm not sure what prompted me to download this book.  I've seen Carol Burnett in films and of course I've seen her show on TV.  I remember her daughter, Carrie Hamilton, from Fame.  I used to love that show in the 80s.  Sadly, Carrie died at age 38 in January 2002.  She had lung cancer.

      In any case, Carol Burnett used to do a question and answer session on her show and this book is sort of like that, filled with cute stories about meeting everyone from Cary Grant to Joan Collins (who apparently was such a fan of Carol Burnett's that she got on her knees when they ran into each other at a restaurant) to Barbara Stanwyck, who supposedly had an imaginary leprechaun friend who told her that Burnett would win a court case against a tabloid magazine.

      She writes of what it was like working with Vicki Lawrence, who was sort of a Burnett protege after she wrote a fan letter to Burnett and included a photo that showed off how much Lawrence resembled her.  She writes of the hilarious Harvey Korman and Tim Conway and, of course, Lyle Waggoner (though I knew him better from his time with Lynda Carter on Wonder Woman).

      Above all, Carol Burnett comes across as someone with a huge heart.  She writes one story about a little girl named Kathy who had cancer and loved Carol Burnett's show.  Kathy wrote to Carol, who responded in a very touching way.  I get the sense that though Carol Burnett is a celebrity, she's someone who is still very grounded, and funny too!  I recommend her book.  I just started another one by her about her relationship with her daughter, Carrie.


      For this rant alone, Bill and I NEED a trip to Ireland...

      Someone posted this on Facebook this morning and I have to admit, it's gotten my morning off to a hilarious start.  Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, is a delightful speaker who is not afraid to call a Tea Partier a wanker.  I admire the Irish president's spunk and want to circulate some currency in his marvelous country.

      Seriously, Bill and I are considering taking another military hop next month, if we can manage it.  Last night, I asked friends if we should aim for France or Ireland.  Most everyone said Ireland.  We need to go there anyway, since Bill is of Irish descent.  I've been wanting to go for years.  And we could fly to Wichita and try to hitch a ride to Mildenhall AFB, which is a base in Britain.  My dad retired out of there, so it would be fun to go back and see it again.  Haven't been there since 1978.

      Then we could take a train to the Welsh coast and catch a ferry to Dublin.  We could wander around the Republic, where I can kill some brain cells tasting beer, poitin, and whiskey.  I will skip the Blarney Stone because I've heard people piss on it.

      Of course, this is still very theoretical, but I'd like to do it.  I finished Carol Burnett's book last night and started another one she wrote about her eldest daughter, Carrie Hamilton, who died of cancer in 2002.  I suspect a review will be forthcoming soon.

      For now, I shall clean the loo and write a Pop Rock Nation article.