Stolen

Lost a long time ago, but only recently noticed:

(1) Normal Life, about 43 years old. Last seen wearing Converse High Tops and a Funky T-shirt designed for someone must younger and hipper (or is it cooler?).

It didn’t disappear overnight, but over many years, by degrees.

It can probably be found near live music, auto races, or on a road trip. Another possibility could be Europe. It’s hard to pinpoint where it could be; it had a lot of options, in its time.

In its place is a new reality: tiredness, bitterness, and a general paranoid belief that everyone around this new reality is specifically sent to suck any enjoyment from its very marrow.

The new reality finds itself surround with obligations, priorities, and responsibilities that might be easier to bear if there was a spark of fun and creativity in its midst. Alas, there is none. It is a rapidly drying flower in the desert, just hanging on for the rain.

And waiting for someone to bring back the life it was once so accustomed to.

If you have any information on this lost item, you have too much time on your hands and are probably part of the vast global conspiracy that stole the life from me. Get away.

Back to the grind.

Trapped in Hell: Second Ring

Oh my gosh! I totally ALMOST FORGOT to tell you the funniest story! Mostly on account of my brain is made of swiss cheese!

Remember my semi-fictional story about being Trapped in Hell? Except that it wasn’t fictional (semi- or otherwise)? Here’s a followup that takes it to the level of Comedy Gold!

Help? You've come to the wrong place...

As an Epilogue to that post, I was under the impression that I was finally dismissed from the Medicare program as of July 1st of this year. So if I were to schedule a routine procedure, per my liver specialist, at the end of August, I should only have my evil Private Insurer to contend with.

So the doctor makes the request, his nurse files the paperwork to schedule the procedure with the imaging department, and they forward the paperwork to the billing department for prior authorization. See, I have been doing this awhile, haven’t I?

Then I get a call from the billing department–a lovely woman we’ll call Jessica (not her real name, but her real one is just as nice)–just wanting to verify my insurance situation. See, their computer still shows that I’m under Medicare coverage. Which is odd, because I’m no longer under Medicare coverage. I went through that exhaustively with the kind folks at Social Security some time ago. And I got a date to go with the conversation. Not a “show her a nice time and you might get lucky” date, but a “this is when it’s all said and done with” date.

She double-checked my info, input a couple of new parameters, and I’m pretty sure I heard her whack the computer with a hammer. You know, the things you do to get it to work right.

“No, it still says you’re covered by Medicare.” Weird. Well, she talked me through a lot of the myths and secrets of Medicare, which were mostly things that the folks at both the Social Security and Medicare offices oddly neglected to inform me. And then she offered to wade through the muck and give me a call the next day with the results of her efforts.

Next day, I get another call from Jessica. “Can I put you on a three way conference call with Social Security? That way you can verify some information and give permission for me to be a part of the conversation.” No problem with me.

We got a gentleman I’ll call Mr. McTool on the line. And what followed was so funny I wish I’d have concocted it myself. But you can’t make crap like this up.

First we played the Name, Address, Birthdate, Social Security Number game. Which was fun, because he couldn’t hear every fifth thing I said. I thought it was my cel phone signal, but Jessica told me afterward that she heard me just fine. So I think maybe his hearing aid was cutting out. That or he really just didn’t give a crap.

Then the fun began. “What can I help you with?”

“My doctor is trying to get a procedure authorized,” I tell him, “and their computer tells them that I’m still covered by Medicare.”

“No,” says Mr. McTool. “You voluntarily dropped yourself from the program July 1, 2011.” I don’t know how a person could project a sneer into their voice, but I swear he just did, there.

Jessica cut in. “Then why does Medicare still show up on my system?”

“Well, he is still covered by Medicare part A, for inpatient procedures.”

But didn’t you just…I thought you said…when you read the thing…I was flabbergasted. Speechless, in fact.

So I opted to merely say, “So I AM still covered by Medicare?”

“No, you voluntarily dropped yourself and are no longer covered.”

“So I’m NOT on Medicare.” I didn’t know if I’d asked a question or made a statement.

“Except Medicare part B, for inpatient procedures.”

Luckily Jessica stepped in and thanked him for his help. She was gracious. And also an angel of the Lord, sent to remove me from my purgatory.

Turns out she knew what he was going to say, and she understands the system perfectly. She just needed a name and verification from SOMEONE at Social Security to override something or another on her computer.

All is right in the world. I think.

So to recap:

I’m no longer covered by Medicare.

Except when I am.

Man, we truly ARE the most powerful country on the planet!

Life with The Egg

From my wife’s considerable backlog of crazy stuff our boys come up with:

SUPEREGG!!

The Egg came into bedroom where I was reading, with a piece of dried up apple that had been on floor between his brother’s bed & the wall. I’d been trying to get one of them to pick it up for me for several days. He was extremely excited and amidst a lot of stuttering & stammering began to tell me how he got the apple piece.

“Mom, look I…I…climbed over the…the…the… pole thing…on…on…Bacon’s bed, you, you know…the…back…back…of the…thing, youknowthething, and…and…I…I…didn’t even …have …to…go…go…undermybed. I’m…I’m…just like a…a…a…

(with a giant smile and his chest puffed out with pride)

A SUPERHERO!

Gotta love him, even when he’s a whiny mess.”

Where’s my suspenders? You Punks!

Was that a duck?

I’m officially an old man now. Time to face the facts.

Sadly, it has nothing to do with slowly failing health, a need to complain about medical insurance, or even those pesky teenagers who, quite frankly, need to get off my lawn.

The topic today is “gas.”

And not even the funny, “pull my finger” variety. That would make for comedy gold, that.

No, I came home from a day at work that Shall Remain Undiscussed, whipped up a little food for the family (hot dogs, anyone? They’re Hebrew National!), and halfway through the meal felt like someone had stabbed me in the gut.

And for the next 45 minutes, they proceeded to not only twist the knife, but bring in a family of trained mice to use it as a diving board to launch themselves into my drink. Metaphorically speaking.

At about the one hour mark, when the wife should be getting ready to go to a meeting, I should be getting ready to go to therapy, and the sitter should be on her way from her Real Job to our house, it was clear there was something going on in there that wasn’t normal.

The last time I felt anything like this, we ended up at the ER where I puked up a gallon or so of blood on the triage nurse and woke up two days later in ICU. Good times.

So the wife was getting ready to call the doctor and preparing for a night in the hospital.

And then I burped.

It didn’t help, really. But then, it didn’t NOT help. Which is when the topic of conversation went from “bleeding all over the floor pretty soon, and do it over on THAT carpet so we can justify replacing it with hardwood flooring” to “do we have any Tums?”

And I started a campaign of forced belches that has lasted, oh, about three hours now. I still feel pain. I still feel like crap. But I fell enough LESS like crap that I think we can skip the ER tonight.

I wonder if they have Wi Fi at the local hospital. Not that it matters. I’m apparently too old to use it. Hmph.

Chicken Bacon? I Love it just as much

Just a quick aside to life.

I love aliases. I work under one. I’ve had clients here in LA who didn’t realize “Edd Fear” isn’t my REAL name. I’ve had a printing rep in Montreal buy airline tickets for me under that name, to then inform him that he needed to get me NEW tickets that matched my passport. Oh, that was a fun weekend.

And back when I started writing about my boys, I really tried to come up with something suitable. “Whine and Cheese” was my best first pick, but I’ve got an online acquaintance who calls her now-18-year-old daughter The Cheese. And while I know I’m the only one who relates this fact, I’m also the person who’s writing this. I don’t want to be thinking about a young college-age woman every time I write about my son. Imagine that.

After much discussion with the wife (wow, I did a whiz-bang job on her online name, didn’t I?), we settled on The Chicken and the Egg. Because, which one came first? They really are that intertwined, sometimes. They are a conundrum. An enigma. And I have no idea what that really means. Except to say that sometimes the seven-year-old acts like a four-year-old, and vice versa.

But.

I’ve tried. I really have. I’ve invested my imagination and creativity in embracing this metaphor. But I can’t, I just CAN’T, call my oldest son The Chicken.

If word got out, he’d be the kid the other boys tossed in the trash can. Rolled in the barrel down the hill. Given a swirly. Subjected to Melvins (as we called them in my day) aka The Wedgie.

There’s just no honor in calling a boy The Chicken. It’s cute, for the parents (and their friends), but I’d like him to actually grow up and be a man. A Man is not a Chicken. And a Chicken is not a Man.

So I’ve just gone through my blog and updated things.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce: The Bacon.

His brother will remain The Egg, and with very good reason. Which I’ll delve more into another night when I can’t sleep.

But for now, I shall sleep, content in my decision.

I mean, who doesn’t love Bacon and Egg? It’s All American!

Open letter to the mom at the Kids’ shoe store

Dear Mrs. O’Blivious,

Thanks for being so clueless and blank at the very crowded shoe store today. It’s only Labor Day weekend, and the outlet mall had a population about the same as a small Central American country. As it turned out, I had lucked into a great parking spot within spitting distance of the store, and you helped me realize that I’d then used up my allotment of good karma this day.

Hulk Shop!

And I needed to build up a little Hulk-like rage in my mind anyway. Thanks for your help with that.

Look, I understand that your preshuss snookums will likely someday be the president or a famous rock star or other suitably impressive world leader. And therefore he should try on EVERY shoe in the aisle to be sure that his feet are appropriately coddled. And I understand that it should be beneath his station (and yours) to actually PUT the rejected shoeboxes back from where you got them. After all, what would the employees have to do if you did that? Nuthin’, that’s what.

No, here’s my problem with our encounter. I’ll grant you that you are more petite in the gluttial area (that’s the assular region to the plebs out there) than many of the moms in town, you still managed to not only block the ENTIRE aisle with your not-so-generous portions, and also arranged to have said body parts totally in the way of the shoe boxes I hoped to get for my son. This was topped off with a classic combination look you gave me of innocent “do you need something from me, strange man in the store?” and the classic “I dare you to try getting those boxes down without touching my ass. I double-dog dare you!” Well played, lady. Well played.

Hulk angry. Hulk think mean thoughts. Hulk buy shoes. Hulk better now.

Love,
Mr. Green, but not with envy

To the Spoiled Go the Victors

We’ve made it through the first week of 2nd grade for the Bacon. As usual, he’s great at school, and then gets home and conjures up some sort of evil that encompasses him and his younger brother.

By the time I get home from work, one or more of the boys is paying some sort of consequence, my wife is holding her head in headachy pain (that’s SO a real word), and I get to come in like the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse (I forget if that’s Larry or Curly). And honestly, I’d rather ride in like King Arthur (“The loyalty of my subjects pleases me. You may return to your business, kind people”).

And at the start of school, I’m always beset with the trouble of How Much is This Our Son’s Miswired Brain, and How Much is It Just Him? And if it’s the latter, then we’re failing as parents to change this behavior.

Look, we’ve just “graduated” from a Parenting/Therapy Program this summer that has done wonders in this arena. It’s showed us a lot about how the boys react to their world, and what our choices are in helping with that. A big part is setting boundaries, following through on consequences, and being clear about these things. You know, what they used to call “parenting.”

And we’re both college graduates (each just a few credits shy of Masters’ Degrees). Both credentialed teachers. She with experience (and college learnin’) in Special Education. She and her mother give lectures about this stuff. So we’re not all THAT stupid.

But then that seven year old mentality permeates the situation and our brains leak out of our heads.

And after all the screaming, crying, and finally getting to the REAL problem (or not, sometimes), I’m still left with wanting to make things better. I know what the boys like, and what they respond positively to. And I want to go to that more often than not.

And there’s where I dance with the Spoiled Child Syndrome. And no, that’s not classified in the DSM-IV. At least, not that I’m aware of.

Where do I find the middle ground between being that hard-assed old school dad who cuts everyone off from everything, drops the hammer, and leaves everything in a miserable mess, and the new-age “Let’s let them explore with total freedom and also GIFTS! So you love me!” dad.

Because on either extreme, no one wins. And I like to win.

But so do the boys. And so does my wife.

And the dance continues.

3 New tablets to fight the iPad

Kool Aid on board. iPad at the ready. And here’s the latest from Germany’s IFA Expo:┬áLenovo, Samsung, and Toshiba have new tablets coming soon. They stand ready to take a bite out of Apple’s dominant place in the market. Or do they?

Lenovo A1: A 7 inch tablet to compete against the iPad’s 10.2 inches. They obviously believe the sweet spot of tablets is somewhere between the iPad’s larger (but sometimes unwieldy) size and the smaller typical smartphone. The screen resolution is similarly reduced to 1024×600, and the price is reduced as well. The 8 GB Wi-Fi model will run $199, up to 16 GB ($249) and 32 GB ($299) models.

I don’t buy into the 7″ theory myself, nor could I justify the lower cost making up for the lower resolutions and onscreen real estate.

Ah, this Kool Aid is delicious.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7: Slightly larger than the Lenovo, this Android tablet boasts a 7.7 inch screen at 1280×800. The 1.4 GHz dual-core processor can handle the work, and the mobile broadband speed is up to 21 Mbps. In addition, the battery is up to a 5100mAh unit, which should allow for more time off the charger. Since pricing and availability have yet to be determined, it’s still a little tough to compare this orange to the Apple.

I still contend that this size will not change the marketplace. Maybe it’s good for business travelers, I don’t know. I don’t travel too much for business. Maybe that’s my problem.

Toshiba AT200: THis is the closest to an Apples to apples comparo, as it comes in with a 10.1 inch screen. It’s just over 1 mm thinner than the iPad, and still boasts ports for micro USB, a microSD card slot, and a micro HDMI jack for connecting the AT200 to an HDTV.

Toshiba looks to launch this in Europe by the end of the year, and will likely unveil it at the CES show in Vegas in January. No word on pricing, but I’ll guess it’s significantly more than HP’s unobtainable $99 TouchPad.

From where I sit, I don’t see the need to start working on the iPad’s obituary. Competition is good, and so is this Kool Aid. Mmmmm.

EnCASE your iPad in the luxury of wood

I’ll state up front that I’m a geek with a Dodo Case for my iPad. Love it love it love it.

A close second, though, would be one of these beauties from Black Box Case. Of course, as I don’t have the iPad 2 (so Old School, am I), it’s not an option.

But it sure is purty.

Hitting the Reset Button

As anyone with a basic knowledge of how a calendar work will note, it’s been…um, a LONG time since I’ve posted here. March? Can that be true? Oy.

And in that time I’ve missed writing about the end of the school year, the fun of summer, and the start of another school year. And all the wonderfulness and joy these events brought to our household.

Just ignore that noise in the background, please. Those of you with children will recognize that as the sound of two adults bashing their heads against walls, doors, floors, and other handy solid surfaces. That is, if you can hear that over the din of two boys using sheer volume and angst to drive the house off its foundation. You know, the usual.

I mentioned to friend in an email recently that the whole story would involve insane children, and out of control (but ultimately good) summer, and misplaced priorities.

And while most people wait until the new year to make their resolutions, I decided that September 1st would be my New Year. Or, as the title above suggests, take a moment to hit the reset button.

Click.

Postlude: in an unsolicited wave of approval and devotion, I credit at least a small part of this change to Buster at healthmonth. This site is one part healthy living, one part social, one part goal-setting, one part task tracking, and all parts of fun. If, of course, you’re a rules-following obsessive compulsive tech geek (RFOCTG). Wait, that’s me!

This is his second site of his that I’ve signed onto, the first being 750words. This is as simple as it sounds: sign up, write 750 words a day, and be happy. Unless you’re not happy. Or not an RFOCTG.

Feel free to check either one at your leisure. And bring your RFOCTG glasses.

Click.