Monday, March 26, 2007


After a request, I found one video of a simulation of the procedure I had. Unfortunately, not very gross. I found a video of another type of surgery that is pretty gross, so if anybody wants it I'll send it to you. I'm still scounging for more...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Waxing Scientific

OK, my last post was about how I'm cheating on this blog by writing another blog about my eye surgery. That blog is meant to be informative. But here I feel I have more freedom. And for a moment I want to talk about science. Being a discussion about science, this may wander into religion, because of course the two are inextricably connected. Feel free to stop now if this makes you uncomfortable.

Friday night I had dinner with my dad, his wife McGennis, her friend Pat, and my lovely wife, Sharon. As my eye surgery was the biggest news, we spent a considerable amount of time discussing it, including describing the procedure to Pat, who had previously had cataract surgery (she is 80, but you'd never guess). This led me to think about how science has advanced. A scant 250 years ago, Ben Franklin put some glass in a frame and could see better. Today, we are inserting lenses into the eye, and you can get up and walk out 15 minutes later. This, to me, is truly science fiction stuff. All of us who have bad vision were, only a few years ago, convinced that we were to mess with glasses or contacts our whole lives. Now, Lasik is achievable by the everyman (thank you Lasik factories) and those who shouldn't have Lasik can become a cyborg like me.

The advances in science are amazing. Modern medicine has allowed people to continue playing golf well past the time when 1,000 years ago they would have been eaten by lions or fallen off a cliff. In the 1970s, scientists were convinced the world was cooling. Now they are convinced the world is warming (not that I disagree). What will be achieved next? What will be proved next? I equate my eye surgery to buying a high-definition television: the technology keeps getting better and better, but at some point you just have to do it. If you keep waiting and waiting for the next best thing, you'll be waiting forever. And I'm sure that, even though I am having this surgery, if something better comes along 20 years from now, they'll be able to take out these lenses and do something else. I have faith in science.

The other thing we discussed on Friday night at dinner was religion. McGennis and Sharon, and I believe Pat at one point in her life, attend the same church. It is an extremely liberal Episcopalian church, where dissenting opinions are welcomed and McGennis' Jewish friend teaches Sunday School with his Christian wife. Sharon had been "church shopping" for a while, having been raised Catholic but having grown away from that faith. Through this discussion of a class Sharon is taking to join the church, I was asked why I'm not attending with her. The answer is that I was not raised with spirituality (read: faith) and that religion makes me uncomfortable. From my dad, I finally heard the explanation for why I was raised without a church. My mom didn't want to raise my brother and me Catholic, and neither my mom nor my dad knew of a better alternative. What was instilled in me, however, was education. And through education, and a mother who has a PhD in psychology and basic behavioral science, I discovered what I found to be truth: the empirical method.

Now I am not a scientist. I was a political science major in college, and now work in a career that is much closer to art than science. But even when drawing analytical conclusions, I want facts. If I can't see it, then I can't state that it's happening. If a human source says that drugs are being moved, I need corroboration from another method, because people's recollections and understandings are inherently fallible (just ask any criminal lawyer about the value of eyewitness testimony).

So when it comes to science and my eyes, I trust and have faith. The FDA did a clinical trial and there are the results- you can go read them on the internet. When it comes to God, unfortunately I can't see it, and can't prove it. I gained my faith in science through its process. How can you gain faith in God when there's nothing to guide you but a conflicting text written by men with a mission? Faith in God is funny- there seem to be two ways to get it: as a child it is fed to you by parents or church, or you find it along the way, usually through some sort of intense enlightening experience. I'm told that having children can cause that enlightenment, because something that couldn't have been you created this magical creature.

I've always wished that I had faith in God. It would give me some peace of mind that where we are is not all there is. But it doesn't jive with my faith in science. And what I will always have faith in, is that there will always be a bigger and better TV out there. I guess that's some small consolation for the lack of eternal grace. Oh well.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I'm Cheating on You

You know what I need to kvetch about? Time. There's not enough time to do everything I want to do. Like watch the whole Family Guy DVD box set. That would be sweet.

But seriously, I haven't been able to blog here, because I've been blogging elsewhere. Yes, I'm cheating on kvetchisthenewblog. And by extension, you. Sorry, gentle reader.

So why am I doing this? Because I am in the process of having eye surgery. It's a pretty new procedure, and when I was researching it I found no patient-based information on the internet. So I wanted to answer for others some of the questions that I had. If you want to read about my bionic eye (I've only had one done so far), point yourself over to:

It's really pretty interesting stuff. I haven't written about the actual surgery yet, but I'm almost there, and the pre-operative procedure where a laser blows a hole in my iris is pretty cool. Maybe this weekend I'll get to the surgery, in between the packing for our move next week and, you know, sleep.

I'm so sorry that I'm a cheater. I just couldn't help myself. Man isn't meant to live with one blog alone. But each one takes so much energy, why would he want more than one?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

This Cold House Part IV: The Anticlimax

OK, so it's been a few days since I updated all two of you who give a crap about my house issues. I think I left off where the furnace was fixed, but the Homeowner's Association (henceforth known as the "HOA," or occasionally "those bastards") had decided to finally inspect my house and require that I fix all of the small blemishes.

So those bastards sent a list of ten items that had to be fixed within 30 days. A couple of them were no big deal. Several of them were small (and I mean SMALL) bits of wood rot, most of which I couldn't even see. One was to fix the concrete steps out front, one portion of which had sunk a bit. The big one was that they said I had two different colors of siding on the back of my house, and that I must replace the siding to make the color match.

The wood rot is a pain in the butt, because it is very labor intensive. The concrete was easy (I mean it seemed to take my handyman about an hour). The siding was going to be a problem, and probably very costly. This particularly irked me because I haven't touched the siding while I've lived here- this problem predated my ownership of the house. However, upon further inspection, someone had simply painted the existing siding at some point in the past. And, in a fit of incredible laziness, stopped painting where the ladder wouldn't reach. Now, why you would bother to paint the siding at all is beyond me. But if you're going to do it, do the whole house. Seriously.

So that turned out to be a reasonably easy fix- the handyman just matched and painted the rest of the siding. No problem. There's a bit more wood rot than expected, so that's not fun. But overall, it's not a huge deal. It's costly, but doable.

What really bothers me about this particular incident is the policy of the of the HOA, which apparently was to ignore the housing standards, but to decide to enforce them when I put the house on the market. Among all of the things we're worrying about right now, which obviously include the purchase and sale of houses but also encompasses a particularly annoying problem I'm having with a guy at work and my impending eye surgery, they expect us to shell out a few thousand dollars to fix stuff that they haven't cared about for four years. They call it a "resale" insepction, and it's intended to let the buyers know the status of the house. However, there wasn't one before I bought the house. Apparently it's a change in policy, and two different people have blamed my agent for not noticing the issues when I bought the house. It's all a load of crap.

So that's my story. As the title of this post mentioned, it's rather anti-climactic. Tomorrow I have the first portion of my eye surgery, when I have a pre-operative procedure performed. At some point, I may write something about how this all goes. But I'll put up a warning in case my faithful readers are squeamish...

Friday, March 9, 2007

This Cold House Part III: The Warming

So when last we saw our fabled, but tragically flawed, hero, he and his wife were buried in bed with 14 blankets piled to the sky. Somehow, beyond all powers of reason and chance, they made it through the night while getting some semblance of sleep. As dawn broke, our hero called the HVAC company, who promised to send out a technician at the next opportunity.

OK, enough of the third person. While waiting for the HVAC company, I decided to continue on with the never-ending outlet replacement project. By the time they arrived, I had replaced three more outlets, all of which functioned, and I was getting a bit of my confidence back. But as we all know, the structure of the fable requires numerous setbacks before the hero finally overcomes all and learns his lesson. More on this later.

After spending about an hour trying to figure out why my furnace keeps shutting off, the technicians (yes, the sent TWO!) decided to replace the pipe they had taped (which was part of the original plan, anyway), and see if that fixed the problem. Alas, no dice. After another half-hour of wrangling, they determined that the exhaust pipe must be blocked somewhere, and that the gasses were backing up into the furnace. This didn't happen before, because the big honking hole in the pipe was venting the gasses INTO THE HOUSE. Now that the pipe was fixed, the blockage caused the gasses to back up into the furnace, where a safety switch tripped. The logical conclusion was that the vent cap on the roof was blocking the pipe. If that wasn't the case, then some significant wall busting work was going to be required. So I kept my fingers crossed on the vent cap being the source of all this consternation.

Next step, get someone up on the roof to look at the cap. Now, if you recall, this was Wednesday. And what did Mother Nature have in store for us that day? Well, a little bit of the magic pixie dust we call snow. So I wasn't anticipating that it would be easy to get a roofer out. However, last week I stumbled across a website called If you fill out some information on what work you need accomplished, they find three companies that they have vetted and send them your request. When I did this for the HVAC issue, I had a call from all three companies by the time I got back to my desk. Same this time, though only two companies called. The first was very nice, but they said that it would have to be an emergency service because of the snow, and they would charge me $650. Not gonna happen. The second company called two minutes later, and said they'd do it for $125 and would be there in an hour.

So an hour goes by, and a lovely little man and his minion show up with a big honking ladder and head up to the roof in the snow. Ten minutes later, they come back down. They sealed the leak in the vent pipe, and said that the cap was the problem. At this point, there is much excitement and fist pumping. WE WILL HAVE HEAT! A subsequent test of the furnace reveals that, yes, it stays on. By about 3 pm, the thermostat registered a balmy 70 degrees!

My excitement, however, was short-lived. It is great to have heat again, but let's return to the outlet replacement project. I spent the rest of the afternoon working on the outlets, only to find that the kitchen outlets were a different amperage than the rest of the outlets, and were much harder to deal with. After another three trips to Home Depot, I got what I needed. However, the lady at the returns desk recognized me and commented on how my project was taking a while. How sad must I be that the uncaring Home Depot employees recognize me and remember what I returned four days before?

So I finally completed the outlets, and the furnace was working. All was right with the world, right? Not so fast, gentle reader. This story is like any other Hollywood blockbuster- there must be an opening left for ANOTHER sequel. When I checked the mail that night, a letter arrived from my Homeowners Association. The annual review of homes had concluded, and I had TEN things on the exterior of my house that need to be fixed within 30 days, or I would be in violation of the covenants.

Stay tuned... Maybe I'll even bring Doc Brown back from the Future...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

I'm Too Old For This

So this isn't really the Paperpusher. It is her devastatingly attractive husband. I admit it, I never signed up for the blog, but I wanted to write something anyway. Oh did I mention that the Paperpusher is making me a fabulous dinner at this moment and I have to give her the utmost praise for that.

So here's the point. As you very well know I am a fan of extreme music. Crazy stuff, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Bathory, Immortal and the list goes on. I have a friend that is also a big fan, so much so he has a website at He lives in Norfolk and invited me down to see the big Cradle of Filth show last Friday and I was pretty excited.

I took the day off work, drove down to Norfolk, borrowed his Emperor shirt (my job doesn't really allow me to wear openly satanic garb, so my closet is relatively void of these items) and we headed out to the show.

We thought we were getting there early, but arrived to a crowd that already extended down the street and was starting to wrap around the next corner. We dutifully took our place in line waiting to get inside and realized that we were standing in a line of rednecks and kids. This is when I realized that we were two balding, grown men standing in a line of people, most of which were dropped off by their parents.

This began a great moment of reflection that lasted the duration of the evening. When we entered the venue we made our way to the bar expecting a line, but were amazed to find the batenders standing there with nothing to do. Of course we ordered drinks and made our way around, looking for the best spot. It is at this point that I see a young gentleman with his hat proudly on sideways, the two large X's on his hands indicating his status as a minor, making out with two youg girls. I also notice that he has one hand down the back of one young ladies pants and his other hand nustled down the front of the others. Then the two girls started making out. I began to wonder at this point what it might be like to own a venue such as this and wondered if it was much of a profit center. I also wondered if the delapidated row houses we saw on the way in could be a good investment if you fixed them up a bit. I then began to wonder what kind of CGL policy the venue owner has and to what extent he is self insured. It is at this point that I realized that I have nothing in common with these people. I have been dealing with my great dissapointment for almost a week now and it isn't getting better.

Is it really true that I have gotten too old for these things? Does my life no longer intersect with the lives of todays youth? I think so.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

This Cold House, the Sequel: It Wasn't All My Fault

So the Handyman just left, having come to fix my various electrical maladies.

The Good News:

It wasn't ALL my fault.

The Bad News:

We still don't have a fully functioning furnace.

The Synopsis (short and sweet, since the only warm place right now is my bed):

The electrical sockets not working were caused by my inability to notice that one of the neutral wires in ONE socket was not connected properly. The red herring was that that socket worked fine. So I didn't think it was the problem. The handyman connected that wire, and all the sockets and lights magically worked.

One caveat: I did not properly connect the outlets that were controlled by the light switches. In my defense, this required a piece of knowledge that was not explained to me. Oh well.

However, the furnace issue is still unresolved. The handyman thinks that he knows what part is causing the problem, but doesn't know why that part is acting the way it is. Apparently there's a heat sensor in there that goes off when it gets too hot. The problem he can't figure out is, why is it getting so hot within five minutes, and why doesn't it kick back on when it cools down?

So, the furnace issue is not related to my messing with the sockets, and is therefore NOT MY FAULT! However, I did have a guy working on the furnace Monday morning. Coincidentally, it hasn't worked properly since. I'm going to call the company tomorrow morning, and I'm sure they'll send someone out, but I'm sure they'll deny all responsibility and make me pay. Oh well, just one more expense on top of a million others...

Off to my cozy bed!

Monday, March 5, 2007

This Cold House

I take electricity for granted. Having light, heat, and the ability to cook meat is something I just expect. But at the same time, I've always been a bit scared of it. It can kill me, so I bow to it. I call electricians to do my electrical work. They charge $200 just for a service call, but I willingly pay it, so as not to risk, you know, death and stuff.

Unfortunately, due to some recent success in hanging a new light fixture and adding a dimmer switch, apparently I've gotten a bit full of myself. When the time came to replace all the electrical outlets in my house (so I now know that you're not supposed to paint over them- something about a fire hazard) in preparation for sale, I thought it was something I could handle. Unfortunately, my friendly neighborhood handyman encouraged me in this endeavor. Now that I think about it, he can probably charge more time fixing my screw-ups than he would have doing the work in the first place, so I understand his reasoning.

So Saturday morning I successfully installed four new outlet boxes. It's not hard, supposedly. You turn off the power and connect the wires to the same places on the new outlet as they were on the old. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, except for one small detail, all four switches worked fine. I figured that the handyman, when he comes back on Friday to do other things, would fix that small detail, which is that the light switch no longer controlled that socket. No biggee, I'm sure.

So Sunday afternoon, I tried to install six more. The first five, no problem. However, after the sixth, three of the switches I installed Saturday no longer worked, nor did the sixth socket and the two lights in our upstairs hallway. After mucking around for an hour or so with this switch and one other, which involved at least 20 trips to the basement to turn circuit breakers on and off, I gave up. We'd just have to suck up the lack of light until Friday when the handyman would come back. With an extension cord, all was tolerable.

Unfortunately, I didn't learn my lesson soon enough. While waiting for the heating guy this morning, I decided to do one more socket on the ground floor, because it had actually broken and appeared to be unsafe. That worked fine. But then I got the idea that maybe the problem with the sockets upstairs was the fuse. I think this is where the cart didn't just run off the tracks, but plummeted off the cliff like the train that pushed the time machine in "Back to the Future III- Doc Drinks Moonshine and Passes Out". I turned off the main breaker and took off the front of the fuse box. Realizing pretty quickly that I was in over my head, I gave up, but not before trying to shake loose the appropriate breaker. I think this might be the cause of my current consternation.

Because you see, boys and girls, somehow I have managed to mess up the circuit the furnace is on. It only works now if you turn the breaker off, and then back on. It runs for about 8 minutes, and then shuts off again. And sometimes, when you flip the breaker off and on, it trips another breaker at some place in the house. So I went to the basement to watch TV tonight and flipped the breaker to get another precious 8 minutes of heat, and Sharon called down to tell me that all the lights in the living room had gone out. I flipped that one back on, but this is getting ridiculous. I never even TOUCHED a wire within the circuit that runs the furnace. Nor have I touched anything on the circuit that runs the living room, or the kitchen appliances, which I found tripped when I got home.

Needless to say, I have learned my lesson. No more electricity. This is what happens when you strive to achieve bigger and better things. So from now on, I'm going to sit at home, on my tucchus, and watch my handyman rake in the dough. Because all that this has gotten me is a cold house.