Monday, January 29, 2007

Ben Stein's Excellent Perspective

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on a CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

Herewith a few confessions from my beating heart: I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important?

I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife. Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. If this is what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Ma! libu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away. I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians.

I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.

But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to. In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking. Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this Happen?"(regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, "I believ! e God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

In light of recent events.terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school .. the Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK. Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK. Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bo! ther them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW." Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes'through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace. Are you laughing?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us. Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Drugs (+/-)

Personal Log, Stardate MWSEUSE27Jan2007AD*

First the pig weigh-in from this past Thursday: 151. Ta-da, no increase, no decrease. BTW, these weigh-in's are witnessed, else the Pig Clug won't count them.

A bit of Catch-Up
I was flustered at not knowing how to find Joanne Schubkegel's family, so I started learning a bit more about finding people online, and eventually found them via an obituary notice.

The wealth of people-related info in the obit led me to think I could apply that to finding my some of my own relatives, and I did. That led me to documenting some family tree info. That led me to assessing software/web service options for documenting family trees. That led me to creating a family tree on That led to spending most of my waking hours last weekend to working on the famly tree, and I've come up with over 400 people so far. Some go back as far as before the War for Independence, and as far away as England and Germany. And yes, I appear to have another hobby.

You can visit my tree here. A link has to point to an individual, apparently, so this link goes to my Dad. You have to create a free account to log in an see anything, and you can't see living people such as myself. If you want to see the names of the living family members, send me an email so I can turn that on for you.

The Attack of the Drugs
A couple of weeks ago, I went to my dentist to get a large old filling replaced in a molar. He had to drill it a bit more to get rid of some decay that had occured under the filling, taking the hole very close to the nerve. He filled it up and put a temporary crown on it, so I could go back this past Thursday and get the permanent crown.

But... it had been very sensitive since the temp was put in, and getting worse, so he decided to wait another week before finishing to see if it would calm down. Not only did it not calm down, but the whole side of my jaw was hurting to the point of fighting tears. So, I call the doc, the doc calls in a perscription for pain and gives me a referral to an endodontist (specialist in tooth nerves and root-canals).

Carla picked up the pain medicine, vicodin, and when I got home that evening I took a dose and went to bed. Now, normally, I avoid pain medicine, because even though it's very nice to have less pain, they always cause trouble. After I had surgeries on my sinuses and prostrate (not at the same time), those docs gave me perscriptions for narcotic pain relievers. Carla and I decided we'd wait to get them filled and see if I really needed them. I didn't. I guess because I've had a lot of practice with pain, and the surgeries didn't really add much to my "standard" pain. Besides, I had scheduled those surgeries and could take a few days off work.

Well, this was unplanned, and I had a lot of work to do, so I took the vicodin thinking that would help me get a good night's sleep, and I could go to work after the endodontist fixed the tooth. Except that didn't work.

My back muscles had been bothering me all week (possibly a reaction to the increasing tooth discomfort), and I've been taking muscle relaxers for that. But I forgot to take that before going to bed, and my back muscles kept me awake. During the night, I took another dose of vicodin (yes, it was after the minimum time between pills, according to the bottle), and I took a dose of muscle relaxers. Big mistake.

That kept me awake for hours more, because it worked too well -- I didn't hurt. At all! I couldn't sleep because I didn't hurt at all for the first time in about 20 years. I didn't realize how much pain I've been in for the last bunch of years until it quit last night, and the absence of pain was too dramatic a change to let me sleep until I was exhausted.

So, I got up and Carla took me to the endo-guy at 9, and left there a little after Noon having had a successful root canal. Boy, did that get rid of the tooth pain! The whole side of my face was numb, including my ear! I came home to take a nap, hoping to go to work after that. Unfortunately, all the other "regular" pain and muscle spasms were in full swing, so I've pretty much been a mess since then.

No, I haven't taken any more vicodin. Sigh. There sits the bottle with lots of little pills that will make all my pain go away. Ah, but it only makes the pain go away temporarily, and if you keep using it, it takes more and more to do the same job, and the side-effects get worse and worse. Since I'm still acutely aware of how nasty it was withdrawing from Cymbalta, I'm not about to start something like that again.

Oh, well, someone else from my company has taken over the writing task that I tried to work on today (God bless you!), so I have the rest of today and tomorrow to get used to my old self again.

I guess my medical problems would be good for a soap-opera character, except they'd have to leave a lot out to make it believable...

In lieu of pity, I, Quantum John, would request that you make a financial contribution to some worthy charity. 'Cause there's lots of folks way worse off than I am. Besides, I'm already readjusting well enough to blaugh again!

* Star-date abbreviations as follows:
MW=Milky-Way (Galaxy)
S=Sol (star system)
E=Earth (planet)
USE=Eastern United States (local planetary continental area)
27Jan2007 (local planetary date designation)
AD (local planetary date-era designation)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Obama's International Diplomacy?

Did you hear the latest news about Barack Obama?

On a fact-finding trip to the capital city of Ecuador's Chimborazo Province, Senator Obama encountered a local farmer whipping a cria and he tried to intervene to save the poor beast from its angry master. A crowd gathered, and many took the farmer's side, but some stood with the kindly American politician, while the Senator's escorts called for the local police.

When the farmer refused to relinquish his whip, the good Senator offered to buy the beautiful animal, but the farmer became even less rational and began to fiercely kick the cria. This excited the crowd into a frenzy, and as a riot threatened to ensue, the little animal stumbled, fell, and began bleeding from several lacerations from the farmers' foot.

The police arrived and managed to get the farmer away from the stricken animal and disperse the crowd, but the animal was unable to stand due to its injuries. The police convinced the farmer to sell the cria to Senator Obama rather than be charged with a variety of crimes, whereupon the Senator and his staff rushed the animal to a veterinarian's office.

Despite life-threatening injuries, the little animal did finally recover, and arrangements were made to have the former beast-of-burden taken to the Chicago zoo, where it is professionally cared for and receives loving attention from hundreds of children daily. All-in-all, a happy ending!

And this event is, of course, now known as:

Obama's Riobamba Llama Trauma Drama

Full Disclosure Update:
No fictional animals were harmed in the fermentation of this story. The imaginary parents of Cortehezala, the pretend baby llama, gave their informed consent, and ethereal emergency personnel were on location if needed. The fake farmer is now serving a 3 year sentence of daily counseling in the Maddenuff Center for Anger Management. The fictitious Mr. Obama became a real person and was elected to the U.S. Senate by the people of the State of Illinois.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'm in the Pig Club!

Today kicks off The First 2007 Season of HUD's Pig Club, and I'm in!

A buncha folks, including HUD employees and contractors, will weigh in each Thursday for 21 weeks. This institution has been going on for many years, and I'm pretty happy about finding out about it and being allowed to join.

The biggest gainer of each week, based on percentage of body weight, not total pounds, becomes The Pig Of The Week, and the biggest loser becomes The Loser Of The Week. Unless you're a Reverse Pig... then it's sorta flipped sideways so it ends up the other way around. You know. The Pig & Loser of each week get their cubicles or offices festooned with all kinds of endearing memorabilia, such as the "Those Who Indulge, Bulge" homemade poster. [Sure, Dianne, you can use that for one of your designs... it's not copyrighted, or nuthin. If you do, I'll point it out to my colleagues who will be sure to want some mousepads & such with that on it.]

Today I weighed in at 150.5, and my goal is to not gain any weight.

My primary care doc has been concerned since I started taking the thyroid hormone replacement because I haven't gained weight. It's not bad that I haven't gained weight, it's just that she didn't know why I wasn't. Well, guess what a side-effect of Cymbalta is? Yep, and I started taking that almost at the same time I started the hormone thingie. So, now I'm off Cymbalta, and surprise: my weight has gone up 5 pounds in the last 2 weeks.

I hope I'm not the biggest gainer or loser this season, but it will help to know how I'm fairing week-by-week.

Chow! I mean, Ciao!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Death and Emotions (but not the death of emotions)

I admit, I don't handle death very well.

Other people's deaths, that is. As for my own, I haven't quite died yet, but of the two times I came closest, I panicked once (almost drown, saved by Scoutmaster Ergle), and the other time I was a little too unconscious to panic (weight lifting mishap, saved by James Stanley).

Well, as some of you know, last year I finally began digitizing old photos & things, which led me to actually working at finding and contacting old friends, rather than merely planning to someday. And though I've contacted some, I've also found some that I haven't contacted yet, because I have to kind of schedule for the emotional bounces. The whole effort has been pulling on my heart-strings, or more like yanking when I have inevitably learned of the deaths of some.

In case you don't know, I'm a real softy. Talking to dear friends I haven't talked to in many years is very emotional for me... very positive emotions, to be sure, but there's a downside. Due to my thyroid and hypoglycemic blood sugar issues, any excitement boosts my adrenaline, followed within hours by a hormone/blood sugar induced crash (mitigated, but not eliminated, by a careful diet).

When I started on the photos & calls, I was on a "therapeutic" dosage of cymbalta, to try to increase the neurons in my brain, which was supposed to help me more effectively ignore the pain in my feet -- or so the pharmaceutical company claims. Unfortunately, that drug has a long list of side-effects, and a few of them chose that timeframe to appear, and get worse rapidly, especially in mood swings. I mean swings like I'm in a business meeting and I start to cry for no reason. Or I wake up in the middle of the night very angry... not about anything in particular, just angry, kind of looking for something to aim my anger at. Or getting embarrassingly, inappropriately romantic in email to someone other than my wonderful wife.

My pain doctor agreed I should stop that drug, which we scheduled for over the Christmas/New Year break, because withdrawal can be severe. How severe? Well, I don't remember Christmas day, and my family saw me through a lot of headaches, crying, too-dizzy-to-walk, etc. At least I did get it weaned down to nothing, and the worst of the previous side-effects seem to be permanently behind me now.

Getting rid of the drug doesn't mean I'm not a softy anymore, it just means I'm back to being my regular sentimental self. And, like I said before, I don't handle death very well...

Last week, I finally found some relatives I had lost track of, which was a huge boost emotionally, but at the same time learned of the death of a dear member of that part of my clan -- Tommy Jenkins, husband of my cousin Beth. He died in 2005, and they weren't able to find me to let me know at the time. That's my fault, because I'm the one who moved around and lost track, not them. It hurts that he's gone, and I didn't get to see him again. Yes, I expect to see him in heaven, but honestly, that thought really doesn't ease the pain much.

Then last night, I finally found and talked to Sandy Watkins (Andrewson), and what a joy that was! However, Sandy had to inform me that Joanne Schubkegel died a few years ago, leaving a husband and young daughter behind. I don't know their last name, so I don't know how to search for them. And apparently, Joanne's dad died within the last year or so, and her mom is in a nursing home, unable to converse. I found a phone number for her brother Brian, but it was disconnected.

All that was kind of pushing me to my limits of being able to stay focused enough to do my job, but fortunately, today was a quiet day at the office, and that allowed me to mourn a bit without interfering with work. AND THEN... This afternoon, I got an unexpected phone call from Michael Pannell! He and Dawn are doing well, and have four children. We had a wonderful chat, and with an exchange of email addresses, hopefully we can keep in closer contact now than once every 25 years!


On that topic, if you're an old friend who's found this, and I haven't contacted you yet, the odds are high that I have no clue how to find you, so PLEASE email me at and give me your contact info. This goes especially for you ladies who changed your last names upon marriage... that makes the research very difficult or impossible, unless I find another friend-in-common who has your contact info...
<hint> and they remember to send it to me. </hint>

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Child Charged with a Crime for Wetting Pants

This is disgusting.

I kid you not, a 12-year-old child was charged with the crime of disorderly conduct because she wet her pants when confronted by the school principal after she refused to leave the library. The girl is a "special education" student, which is generally a euphemism for someone with significantly less than average intelligence.

The principal and police allegedly claim that they are sure the girl did it intentionally.

1. A person can suspect whether or not another person wets their pants intentionally, but they cannot know if they are correct or not. If you cannot be certain, you should not arrest a person.

2. She's TWELVE YEARS OLD. Even if she says she did it on purpose, she might be lying out of embarrassment. Even if you could know that she did it on purpose, she's TWELVE YEARS OLD!

Any school principal or police officer that thinks the best solution in such circumstances is to charge the girl with a crime needs to change careers. Their "solution" is powerful evidence that their own intelligence is significantly less than what their jobs should require.

Time to recheck my blood pressure. Arrrrg!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Introducing: Bizarre Symptom of the Day (BSOTD)

This post will introduce a new category for Quantum John topics: the Bizarre Symptom of the Day (BSOTD). For years I've had a very wide variety of unusual "symptoms" (for lack of a better term) that usually don't last very long, and don't clearly correlate to any of my known physical problems.

BSOTD's will not be presented in the hopes that an astute reader will come up with a cause, though any theories are welcome, but just so I'll eventually have a list of all the strange and unusal bodily effects I'm sometimes affected with. Or is that affects I'm effected with? Or affectations I'm affliated with? Not that it matters...

So, without further ado (and without further Adu, since the D.C. United traded away Freddy Adu), today's BSOTD is: A sharp pain in my left mandibular joint (jaw) when I part my teeth by more than about 1/2 inch. Ta-da...!

This symptom made it's first-ever appearance the day before yesterday, when it lasted a few hours, then went away as mysteriously as it came. Now, it's baaack...

Could this be a Cymbalta withdrawal symptom? Since my sinuses have been bothering me, and there are sinus cavities very close to the mandibular joint, could I have a sinus infection that spread to my jaw? It would have to have been a rather mild sinus infection, since I wasn't even aware of it.

Well, that wasn't hard. One listed, and approximately 1,312,416,008 to go.

Monday, January 1, 2007

New Year's Day & The Mordecai Project

Time to tell you about:

The Mordecai Project

The Mordecai Project is a Christian ministry devoted to healing, protecting and empowering women around the world, and was founded by my friend Lee Grady.

From the intro of the web site:
"When Jesus Christ came to earth 2,000 years ago, He challenged the religious and cultural rules of a male-dominated culture. While other rabbis believed it was improper to teach women the Bible, Jesus called his disciple Mary to sit at His feet. While other religious leaders refused to go near bleeding women, Jesus healed one. While the Pharisees shunned Samaritans and divorced women, Jesus had compassion on the Samaritan divorcee and commissioned her to be an evangelist.

"And while some misguided Christians have distorted the Bible to oppress and restrict women, true Christianity liberates women. The gospel proclaims that men and women are created equal..."

I love what this organization represents and what it's accomplishing. If you'd like to help, you can pray, make financial contributions, and/or tell others about it. This is something worthwhile!

An hour ago I submitted my book proposal to my favorite I.T. publisher. Haven't heard back from them yet. :)