30 November 2007

My Colonoscopy and Me

Well, the worst is over (I think) regarding the colonoscopy recommended by my doctor (see entry of 14 November 2007).

All together, the process was pretty uneventful. It started Thursday when I was allowed only clear liquids for nutrition the entire day. That afternoon started the phospho soda laxative which, surprisingly enough, works very thoroughly. After a night of crapping out mostly liquid, I went to bed.

After getting up at the unimaginable hour of 5:30 this a.m. Matt and I headed to the clinic only a couple miles away for the actual procedure. We were the first people at the office. After some paperwork, I went back for an interview with an LPN, then changed into a dreadful medical gown. They let Matt come sit with me until the nurse came by.

The nurse took me into the room where the procedure would take place, hooked me up to one of those bleepy monitors, then started the anesthesia. I told her to make sure to go easy as I react super strongly to medication, and a little anesthesia goes a very long way with me.

The procedure started, and I began drifting in and out of sleep. I could feel occasional discomfort as the colonoscope wended its way through the five feet length of my colon. The next thing I knew I was being wheeled out of there into the recovery room where Matt rejoined me. The actual procedure had taken a little more than 30 minutes.

Then the step I most dreaded: coming out of the anesthesia.

I suddenly got really hot and pale. The nurse offered me cold towels which I gladly accepted. After a little rest, I started what must be the most hellish thing on earth: throwing up -- and dry heaves at that.

After about another half hour, I started feeling well enough to get up and move around a little. That's always a good sign. I changed and was on my way to the local donut shop for a well-deserved cinnamon roll.

So, after all that, what did they find? Well, one polyp (see photo of my actual polyp). The polyp is the little bump just slightly off center. They excised it and sent it off to pathology. I need to wait about a week to find out if it is cancer, and then whether it is benign or something to be concerned about. All in all, I think one polyp is pretty good news.

Am I glad I did it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Well, let's hope I don't have to -- for a while anyway.

29 November 2007

Rain (Maybe)

I'm hoping I don't jinx it, but there may be rain in our future (click on image: 90%!). We have not had a good rain at our house since 25 July -- that's more than four months! Yes, we are a desert. Yes, we average only eight inches of rain in a year. Yes, we are in the 12th year of a drought.

Please, please, please let it rain!

28 November 2007

A Little Green Goes a Long Way

If the world seems a little greener today, it is thanks to a special project undertaken in Indonesia -- home to some of the world's rain forests that have been destroyed by illegal logging.

In a country-wide project, they undertook to plant -- get this -- 79 million trees. In a single day.

That's a lotta trees -- and, one would imagine, a lotta happy dogs.

You can read more about the project

NPR did a nice story about it, which you can hear

21 November 2007

Oh, Scorpion, Where is Thy Sting?

We have scorpions in Arizona. We have big scorpions and we have small scorpions. The rule of thumb is avoid the small ones: the smaller they are the more dangerous (venom-wise). Usually, the big ones are harmless -- scary, but harmless.

However, according to this article the planet's oceans used to be populated by a scorpion-like arthropod that seems pretty scary: It was more than eight-feet long and had claws that could rip off your head (see image).

19 November 2007

Salt No More

I am so happy to see this article in today's New York Times.

For more than five years, we have been drastically slashing the amount of sodium we eat: we have never salted food while cooking or at the table, we have practically stopped buying processed meals, and we are always trying to support companies that make reduced-salt versions of their products. (Thank you, Progresso soups.)

We're healthier, but it's not enough.

Recently, at a restaurant, we saw a man (who must have weighed more than 300 pounds) spend about a minute shaking salt on a salad. At another restaurant, we saw a woman salting her pizza -- one of the saltiest things you can eat. Where will the madness stop?

High levels of sodium in your body can lead to numerous issues -- not the least being high-blood pressure.

Find out facts about sodium here.

14 November 2007

In One End...

Okay, so here's the story: Tuesday I had my "Well Man" exam at the doctor. For the women reading this, that involves a lot of attention to the parts of a man that make us different than you.

Part of the exam involves the insertion of a gloved finger rather far into a rather sensitive area of the man's physical presence. The point of the exam is to feel the size of the prostate gland (if it is enlarged, it could mean trouble). My prostate is of normal size, thank you.

While up there Tuesday, my doctor felt a little something that should not be up there (no jokes, please), and suggested a colonoscopy -- a procedure usually reserved for men considerably older than me (okay, two years older than me), unless there are
symptoms. I have none of these symptoms.

Right after that suggestion, the doctor virtually tripped over himself attempting to convince me that "it's probably nothing." I told him it was okay: whether it is something or not, I would rather find out as soon as possible. If it's nothing, great; If it's something, then we've probably caught it early enough to do something about it.

No waiting around month after month, year after year before having it checked only to find out it could have been cured if I had just come in earlier (like my dad). Nope. Go in, check it out, cut it out, whatever you need to do.

Will update you when I know more. :-)

11 November 2007


It has been 89 years since the First World War ended in the 11th month, on the 11th day, at the 11th hour. It was the end of a great war that signaled a great prosperity for America and other Western countries.

It was, also, the time of great mistakes. The signing of the Treaty of Versailles (in 1919) is considered by many the start of World War Two. Its provisions against Germany were harsh and punitive, and gave rise to an anti-West sentiment that allowed the Nazi movement to gain a foothold. Hopefully, you know the rest of that story.

Every year, we celebrate the end of that war. For a time in America, it was known as Thanksgiving Day (making two Thanksgivings each year). The name has changed a couple times; but now it is called Veteran's Day in America and Remembrance Day in Canada and England.

Why do we remember this day from so long ago? Presumably to remember the men and women who fought (including my grandfather Joe Martinez). But, I hope, also to realize the futility of war. War is never the answer to problems between countries. It is neither noble nor great. It is always (and history bears this out) a mistake filled with consequences unintended and, often, severe (look at World War Two).

It is very sad that we have to remember the dead from war. How much better would this world be had they been allowed to live and create and love and make and laugh and cry?

I find it hard to understand how, in this country, so many people demand an end to abortion, demand an end to the death penalty, and yet do not lift a finger to put an end to the greatest folly in human history.

06 November 2007

"House" Stands No More

It is with sadness that I report the demise of what once had been one of the best home magazines published: "House and Garden" magazine is being closed.

It lead a good life, published from 1901 until this year. The magazine experienced a Golden Age in the 1920s and 1930s, roughly coinciding with the great years of prosperity in America between the wars.

We live in a historic district just outside the Phoenix downtown area. Our Craftsman Bungalow "honeymoon house" was built in 1927. I cannot tell you how many hours we have spent thumbing through old issues of "House and Garden" (like the issue from April 1927, pictured) to find ideas for decorating and styling our home.

It is a sad day indeed.

You may read more about this demise of this great magazine
here. (Thanks to Matt for the heads up.)

02 November 2007


First off, let me say that I am not a member of the Writers Guild of America. I wish I was. I wish I could earn some part of my living writing for Hollywood. But, I'm not and I don't. I am a writer, but I don't work for Hollywood.

With that out of the way, let me add that I grew up in a union household. My father was a Teamster. He made a good living, and only went on strike a couple times. I remember the first time he went on strike, I was really young. My mom told me we wouldn't have money and we couldn't buy anything because he was going out on strike. I had no idea what that all meant, but I started crying because it seemed so serious. I didn't know what would happen.

Clearly, we survived, but I never liked the idea of a strike.

I'm not much of a fan of unions. They don't seem to do a whole lot of good for their workers in today's world the way they did when they were new and really achieved something in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I mean, look what just happened at Chrysler: their union ratified a new contract and a couple weeks later the company announces it will lay off 12,000 employees -- many of whom, one would imagine, just voted for the new contract. How did that help anyone?

Now, put that all together, and let me tell you why I am all for a writer's strike:

Writers are the backbone of every creative venture. They create the movies, they create the television shows, they write the books, they write the plays and (please forgive me) they write the songs that make the whole world sing -- or at least that segment of the world that can carry a tune.

For virtually ever writers have gotten the end of the stick that was just used to stir the pile of steer manure: yes, the shitty end. Hollywood has been on top of the list of people who hand that stick to the writers. They give a writer $5 for a great idea that then goes on to make the studio millions. When the writer asks for more, the producer doesn't even remember him or her. That's the way it's been since Hollywood was still just a gleam in the eye of H.H. Wilcox.

But still writers keep writing. They like the idea of their creation being made real, of seeing their name in print, or on the title card, or on the base of the little gold statuette that says "Best Whatever." They know the producers get rich off their work, and yet they still plug away, trying for a new spin on the old story of "boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy gets stabbed in the eye with a stick."

Now -- finally -- the writers are fed up with the producers making millions, and them getting little in return, and are going out for the first major strike since 1988.

And I say, "GO!"

What will happen with the writers on strike? Who cares? The major networks could all go dark, and I guarantee I would not lose a minute's sleep over it. Except for "The Simpsons" what good television is on the networks, anyway?

I'll wait while you try to think of an example.

"Meerkat Manor" ended tonight. "Torchwood" is on BBC America, so that's not going to be affected. We have the first eight seasons of "The Simpsons" on DVD (the only really good seasons, anyway) so we're set.

Audiences will leave the networks in droves (like they did in 1988). We might get a few episodes of a remake of 25-year-old episodes of "Mission: Impossible" (like we did in 1988), but -- meh! -- who cares? More reality shows? Who cares? More repeats? Who cares? We get something like 8,000 channels on our satellite system, and another million or so on the internet, so I say "Screw 'em!"

Let the producers plead poverty all they want. I want the writers to stay on strike until they get everything they're asking for.