The New Experiment Begins

So I was writing this long diatribe about perfectionism and realized I might scare off a lot of people when my first post winds up being a novella. So instead, I’m giving it its own little area in the “About” section. Or maybe somewhere else. I haven’t quite decided yet. I’m trying to fly by the seat of my pants a little more with this site, so I’m runnin’ fast and loose baby!

Well, for me, anyway.
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The Usual Apologies and Updates

Okay, first off, the standard apology to those who have commented or emailed me and have yet to get a reply. I have a tendency to think I can do much more than I can, which leads to me either forgetting things or getting too involved with something else to keep up with things that I should be keeping up with.

So yet again, today is a new day. From this point forward, every email that comes in is answered ASAFP (since putting things off for too long makes it that much harder for me to do them) and every comment answered as soon as I see it’s there. I’m trying to turn a new leaf here, so have some patience.

Part of that leaf turning includes daily posting. I’ve tried to do it in the past, knowing that I’d slip up at some point and miss a few days, then a few weeks, then a few months, etc. This time, I’m doing it with the knowledge that I won’t. Let’s hear it for positive thinking!

Of course, there’s always a catch. While I’ll be answering emails and comments as soon as possible, any sent from Thursday through Monday might still have a bit of a delay. I’m going to be heading down to Louisville, KY this weekend for Hodgeapalooza II: Hillbilly Edition! But as soon as I get back, the answering resumes! Unless I have internet access somewhere, in which case, updates from the road!

Next on the agenda: ME! Health-wise, things are still good on the cancer front. I had a clean PET before I went to Texas and I have a bloodwork-and-visit-only followup later this month. Tooth-wise, it hasn’t been so great.

About a week before I left Texas, one of my wisdom teeth started hurting. That’s right – September. Tylenol was keeping it under control pretty well other than a couple of really hellacious days (usually on a weekend). Why didn’t I just go to the dentist? Well, I don’t like my dentist. And not in that “I don’t like dentists” way – just him in particular. And I’m horrible when it comes to finding new doctors and making appointments and such.

So last week, I finally had enough and found someone and got in for a look. Turns out both wisdom teeth on the left side are going to have to come out. I’ve already had the two on the right out, so I’ll be dropping from half-wise to not wise at all. Fortunately for you (and the makers of Tylenol and Advil), they won’t be coming out until the 20th. So, if I seem out of sorts in Kentucky, it’s not just the bluegrass making me blue.

Other than that, things have been rolling right along. I’m getting a little better at figuring out the whole life/work equation, and I’ve been getting fired up about getting CiMB back on the road again. I was going to include the plans in this post, but it’s gotten rather long, so I’ll make you wait until tomorrow.

Hey, I’ve got to come up with material for a post each day somehow, right?

Tie a Pink-ish Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree

Many thanks to Loretta for adding a comment to the “Frickin’ Pink Ribbons” post, which reminded me that we’re finally out of Breast Cancer Awareness Month here in the States. I thank everyone else who commented as well, it’s just that Loretta had the luck to post after 10/31 and get the special mention. Now that October is over (and since I haven’t posted since September), it’s time for a quick follow-up.

I’d also like to send a shout out to the comment spammer who hit the original post with the most accurate and insightful comment spam ever: “Hello webmaster. I think you could also make more of it through a bigger exposure about “Frickin’ Pink Ribbons”. Perhaps you can have some pink ribbon candy.”

Brilliant.

Aside from going off on a tear about a whole MONTH devoted to those of the pink persuasion, I’ll share a little message I received From Above. No, I don’t hear God speaking to me in my head or anything – I’m not crazy. He speaks to me by waving things in my face until I get it.

Okay, maybe I am crazy.

Anyway, a couple of days away from the end of October, I was walking to my psychologist’s office (I know, I know – you’re shocked) when I saw a beat up station wagon with a bumper sticker that summed up the whole month: “Abortions Cause Breast Cancer.”

I know, I was just as angry as you are. “How DARE they! All of these loose women taking our cancer funding away just because they’re going around having abortions all willy nilly!”

Okay, so I wasn’t angry right off the bat. When confronted with something so mind-numbingly idiotic, my first reaction is to get the giggles. Then my brain runs in circles for a little bit. Then what I see finally cuts through my barricades and I get either pissed off or sad. Often, a combination of both.

After I had quelled the giggles of my immediate defense reaction, I felt the universe waving and pointing at the bumper sticker. Time for Brian to learn something again.

Every time I’ve seen something about “Breast Cancer Awareness” I’ve always thought to myself “Come on, WHO is still unaware about breast cancer in this country?” Now, I just think about that bumper sticker. It turns out, even the big cancers still have a lot of ignorance to deal with. Granted, this particular bumper sticker was an easy, though highly logically flawed, slur (women get most breast cancer, women get all abortions, therefore, abortions cause cancer) and it was but one of the many things this driver believes abortions cause and/or are caused by. Apparently, the deeper roots of breast cancer lie in being a liberal and/or a democrat, since this little station wagon believes (according to two of its other stickers) that liberals and Democrats cause abortions. It stands to reason then, that liberals and Democrats cause breast cancer. I bet you wish you had known that before election day, huh?

For those who have some across this site in ways other than the Hodge Board, I do have an eventual Greater Purpose for both me and the site. CiMB is going to (hopefully) turn into a way to get people talking about ALL cancers and help quell as much disinformation as possible. There are a lot of organizations, foundations and movements out there raising money to fight these things and cure our family. They can concentrate on eradicating cancer. I’m concentrating on making my cancer family’s life easier in any little way that I can. I’m better at words than fundraising, so I’m aiming for education. I’m not looking to raise cancer awareness, since everyone, ignorant or not, is aware of it. I’m looking to make people realize that these bald people whose backs they’re talking behind and pointing at are human beings. I’ll be posting again later tonight with more details on where the site’s going and where things are standing. And about me too, since I know you all just come here to hear me talk about myself.

So I guess our pink sisters are going to need our help after all. Even with all of their awareness efforts, there are still a ton of idiots out there making them feel bad for what they have, and I can only key so many station wagons.

But I still won’t buy anything that’s pink 🙂

Quick update from Texas

Hey everyone

I didn’t have time before I left to post the plans and I haven’t had enough time here for all of the details, but I’m down here in Texas for the month of September to help my parents with house repairs and medical/legal stuff (Dad was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s last year).

First, I want to apologize to the folks who had posted comments to the “Pink Ribbons” post who didn’t see their comments show up for quite awhile. Computer problems, travel, and Texas insanity kept me away from the site & the comment approval panel. I’ll be responding to you guys later (hopefully tonight) and sending emails to the late approvals too.

Also, quick apology to the people who had commented before those folks and I still haven’t responded too – I think that was right about when the computer problems started. It’s been a wild couple of months in Moondoggieland.

Last thing – I’m in West Texas, but do have relatives in the Houston area who we’re keeping an ear out for. They have voicemails, texts and emails waiting for them whenever they can access stuff, so now they have a blog post too. Jaz, Sydney, Chase, David and everyone else – we’re hoping you’re all safe and sending our love, both from Odessa & Connecticut.

We’re watching the hurricane coverage on DirecTV’s apparently ultra-PC channel 361 and wondering what the difference is between “scavenging” and “looting.” I have two theories. 1) If someone has something that doesn’t belong to them and is running from the cameras, they’re looters. If they’re walking, they’re scavengers. 2) Looters steal things from buildings, scavengers steal things from rubble.

This just in – got a text from Jaz – they had a tree crash through their backyard and lost power around 6AM, but are all okay.

Frickin’ Pink Ribbons…

Okay, before I start ranting, there are a few things to state up front.

  1. I love and support all of our cancer family. While I have a special fondness for Hodgers, I love all the rest equally and want to see all forms of cancer get wiped off the face of the earth.
  2. I know breast cancer affects tons of women and that it has touched just about everyone in some way, directly or indirectly.
  3. I have nothing against women (and men) with breast cancer. I love you folks just as much as the rest of my cancer family and hope we get a cure for you soon.
  4. If you have breast cancer, had breast cancer, or love someone who has/had it, you might want to stop reading right now.

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Phase One… Complete?

Well, even though the site doesn’t look much different, I got some good behind-the-scenes updating done yesterday. I would have done a little bit more, but I had to drop everything so we could go see Jake Johannsen at the Hartford Funny Bone in, you guessed it, Manchester.

I don’t get it either.

To make things even more interesting, the club is in a mall. Right next to a Panera Bread and a soon-to-be-opened Bertucci’s. Will the weirdness never cease?

So I’m lying on the couch, sweating and typing, and Barb’s cell rings. barb didn’t get there in time, so had to wait for the voicemail. It’s her best friend Mary, wondering if we’d like to meet her and Craig (her husband, if you’ve just joined us) in Manchester to see Jake at 7:30. Would we? Would we? (Harelip! Harelip!)

Shortly after, either Mary calls the home phone or Barb called her back (the heat makes things fuzzy) (that’s what she said). Come to find out, we’re going to meet them at Pepe’s beforehand for pizza. We need to meet them there at 5:30. Sounds great, yes?

Did I mention it was 4:45? Or that Barb and I both needed to get showered and cleaned up? How about that Google says the mall is 41 minutes away?

We cleaned up in record time, got Phoebe fed and put her in my office (where the air conditioning is), raced out to my car, charged up the flux capacitor and made it there a mere ten minutes late. Which, now that I type it out, doesn’t seem nearly as impressive as it felt. Did I also mention that my “low fuel” light came on halfway there? That might have added to the excitement.

So we made it there in possibly record time (considering all the drafting and coasting I had to do), had some great pizza, and watched some great comedy. The MC was great, the first guy (Tom? Sorry – if I don’t take notes, I’m useless) was awesome and Jake was possibly even more funny than he usually is. Still seems weird to see him without the curly hair, though.

The MC’s last name was “Crohn” so he made a couple of Crohn’s Disease jokes, which made Craig feel good, since he has it. In his words, “Hey, this means at least someone knows what it is now!” Yep, they’re hittin’ the big time. When we left the club, I was tempted to pull the MC aside and confront him.

“So. I heard your little Crohn’s Disease jokes up there. What, cancer isn’t FUNNY ENOUGH any more? Where are OUR jokes? Pander to us!!!!”

But I didn’t, since each of us sickos needs our time in the spotlight, right?

We made it back home without incident (the gas station was downhill from the mall) and I only had to spend $36 on gas!!

Because I only put in half a tank’s worth. Oy.

Site Changes!!

Well, a few minor ones anyway. I figured I should warn you, since I know there are SO many of you just constantly refreshing the site to look for updates and changes (I’m looking at you, Veronica). I’m finally updating this theme to support WordPress widgets along with a few minor changes here and there I’ve been needing to do for awhile.

Why? Mainly because it’s too hot to move, the fans are on in the bedroom and my laptop is right here. Nothing to do but sweat or update the site. So since I’m a Type A go-getter, I’m doing both at the same time.

Also, I used to have a “Contact Me” page with a form to fill out to send me email for whatever purposes. I’ve taken out the form & the link to it, because the form plugin I was using has a hole that spambots have been taking advantage of for quite awhile. You can still reach me at my usual email address (my first name at this domain) or one of my Moondoggie addresses if you have one of those. Once I have a better contact form, I’ll bring it all back.

Well, back to tinkering I go…

Holy Cow…

I really thought I was a loser and had already missed a day of posting, but it turns out today was actually yesterday’s tomorrow! Whodathunkit.

Of course, that could be from pulling my umpteenth work all-nighter last night. Finally got (most) of the bugs worked out and the Big Project is out the door. Mostly.

I can see all of you, but it’s like through a weird hazy fog…

Since my brain is wandering more than usual, here’s a short list of things you can expect to see in the near-to-not-so-distant future:

  • Brian finally gets his personal life extricated from work.
  • Brian finally gets back to work on Cancer is My Bitch.
  • Night of the Splitting Blogs! Since I’m soooo over the whole cancer thing, I’ll be going back to the ol’ random non-cancery posts. Between that and pushing ahead with the CiMB movement, I’m going to “Splitteth the Blog in Twain” as the kids say. Anything cancery or CiMB-related will still be there, while the old weirdness is safely nestled back in the bosom of moondoggie.com
  • Brian finally gets his photos organized and uses that domain he’s had for them for, like, forever.
  • Brian finally gets the CiMB emails back up and running.
  • Brian finally stops referring to himself in the third person.
  • Flying cars!
  • Trendy new web designs!
  • Occasional frightening personal discoveries of how old I am, when I do the math after hearing things like Billy Joel releasing a special 30th anniversary edition of The Stranger.
  • Purple, purple, purple, as far as the eye can see!

I’m ready for my nap now, Mr. DeMille.

Oh Yeah – My Email Situation

One other thing while I’m at it. My email hasn’t always been the best in the past, what with spam blocking deciding to randomly keep the real emails from me and such, but I haven’t been able to get into any CiMB addresses for the past… two weeks? Three?

We changed our email setup at work from hosting email ourselves to using a hosted Exchange server. While this saves me a lot of headaches with keeping email going for the company, it also had an ugly side effect. I was keeping and storing all of my email in Outlook. Once you set up an Exchange account in Outlook, it apparently doesn’t want to play nice with POP/IMAP accounts. You can get your email from those accounts, but everything I’m reading says Outlook will only send email out through the Exchange account from this point forward. Lovely.

So, since (say it with me) work has been crazy, I haven’t had the time to get all of my non-work email accounts set back up in Thunderbird yet. I know I could create a second profile in Outlook for them, but I like to be able to check all of my accounts through the day, so it’s back to Thunderbird for the personal stuff.

So if you’ve sent me an email to a CiMB address in the past month or so, I’m not ignoring you – I just haven’t read it yet. If you sent me an email before that and haven’t heard from me, there’s a 88% chance it got caught by the spam blockers and I’m not ignoring you. Af dor who the other 12% are, I’ll never tell 😉

I still don’t have the CiMB emails online yet, so if you want to send me an email, you can either send it to a CiMB address and wait or send it to a Moondoggie address if you know one.

I’ll post an update once I have the CiMB email all set up again.

A Quick One While He’s Away

Wow – August was my last post. August? Seriously? Wow.

There have been a lot of reasons for my silence the past few months. The first one being (say it with me gang), work has been crazy. The craziness is finally starting to call down just a little, so I’ll be able to pay a little more attention to you, my adoring public.

The other big reason is, I’ve lost some great friends recently. With each one, I’ve felt that I needed to write one of my novella-length posts in memorial to them both for me and for their families. But with each new loss, that meant I had another novella that I needed to write. I’ve felt more guilty for not paying proper tribute to them than for leaving all of you in the lurch.

With these enormous self-imposed tributes hanging over my head, it didn’t feel right to write about the more trivial things in my life until I paid them each the proper respect. And due to the work craziness, I didn’t have the time available to sit and type away.

Finally, my wife and a bunch of Hodgers made me see the light. Last weekend, we had our big Hodgeapalooza East meetup, where a bunch of us from the Hodge Board got together to eat, drink and be more than merry. It was an awesome weekend keyed off by the fact that two of our more prominent members from Scotland were planning on making the leap over the pond for vacation (no matter what Veronica says). Sensing a once-in-a-lifetime possibility, we had a great turnout of folks with their spouses and/or parents, patients, former patients and caregivers alike.

The most amazing thing is that in this large group of people (30? 40? My math’s been bad lately), there wasn’t a single person who made you think “Oh man, I can’t wait to get aWAY from this fool!” When’s the last time you’ve had that happen in a large gathering? Of course, there’s always the possibility that I was the fool to get away from, but I’m just self-centered enough to convince myself that that is more than likely not the case. Maybe.

Meeting all of these people in person for the first time after going through so much with all of them was… some word that I don’t know. Wherever “amazing” “extraordinary” and the like are on the scale of greatness, pick your own word that’s thirty or forty levels above those. That’s what it was. Being around all of my Hodge family made me realize just how much I’ve missed having them in my life, even when they’re primarily words on a screen. I also realized that not only am I being heard when I speak, but that I’m missed when I’m silent. The realization absolutely floored me. A few people told me how important my jester-like presence was and others told my wife in secret what a difference I was making for them by just yammering away. Okay, they used nicer words, but I have to keep myself grounded, you know.

Seeing that I was making any kind of difference to people out there in the cold cruel world also finally drove home one thought I had been keeping in the back of my brain: The friends I have lost would be SO pissed off to discover that they’re part of the reason I’m no longer out here making people giggle or shake their heads in disbelief at the latest dumb thing I did. I think this is proof positive that there’s no such things as ghosts, because I’m sure they’d all be haunting me by now.

Even though these people were very important to me, I’m going to finally break the barricade by not worrying about long tributes with the perfect thing to say. Sometimes the most perfect tribute is to say that someone has touched your life and will be missed and thought of every day.

Anne-Marie, Sarah, Shannon and Doug – you four are in my heart and mind forevermore. Anne-Marie and Sarah are two of the three people who got me fired up about how folks were treating them and made me decide to make Cancer is My Bitch a Movement. I got a shaky semi-start, but that’s another project crushed by work, another promise broken. I’ll be taking up the CiMB mantle again shortly though, and it’ll be bigger and better than ever. Shannon and Doug I only knew through their spouses, who posted on our Hodge board, but they were just as much family as every other Hodger out there and just as much pain when we lost them. Though I only got to see them through Jesse and Deb’s eyes respectively, it was obvious even secondhand just how strong and loved they both were.

I miss all four of you, though I can’t imagine it’s anything near as much as the people who were actually with you in person feel.

Okay, I’m back to posting now. Now will you guys PLEASE quick making all those spooky noises in the attic?

I’m definitely going to be posting more often now (lofty goal, since my last post was about 10 months ago) and I have Big Plans for CiMB, Moondoggie and my photography, but I’ll slowly reveal those later. I doubt I’ll reach that lofty “post-a-day” goal that I usually set for myself, and I’m tired of breaking promises. So that means, you’re left with “I’ll be posting more frequently,” so suck it up, people.