Thursday, February 25, 2016

By Any Other Name

I posted this to my Facebook wall on Saturday morning: I think I may have just had my best night's sleep ever! I've been missing that feeling for most of my adult life. Of all of the benefits of being retired, getting adequate sleep is the one that matters most to me.

I lived on not much more than 5 hours of sleep each night when I was working, oftentimes less and although I made it work, it couldn't have been good for me. I'm averaging around 8 hours of sleep each night now with an occasional afternoon nap and it feels so good. What's most noticeable about my sleep-filled nights are the dreams I'm having. They're bizarre and so full of detail and usually bear little resemblance to my real life. I go to bed each night wondering where they'll take me.

As reluctant as I was, it's nice to have stepped off the treadmill that was my career. Sometimes I'll think about the current day of the week and imagine how rushed I'd be if I was still in my old life, hurrying to get a workout in or taking care of whatever needed attention around our home before packing my lunch and heading off to the salt mine. It's then that I'll often breathe a sigh and give whatever pup is in my lap (Toby more often than not) a hug.

Where keeping traffic separated used to be my main concern, it was replaced by having to remember to take the trash out to the curb on Monday nights. I became tired of having to remember what day of the week it was so I made a recurring notification on my phone to relieve me of even that responsibility.

Speaking of work: I've been getting together with some retired and current controllers at Celts Pub in Farmington at 2:30 on Wednesdays for what's fondly referred to as a "team meeting" and a couple beers. It's nice. I wasn't one to spend any amount of time in the bar when I was working so this is a nice change for me. They're a good group of guys.

Stained glass projects have been occupying much of my time these past two weeks. I finished the one to the right a few nights ago as a gift for a friend. I used to entertain the idea of making these sorts of sun-catchers and selling them but I'm not sure that will ever happen because I'm just not motivated that way although Foci (where we'll hopefully soon resume our glassblowing) has a gallery where I can display them for sale. I may do that but I don't think I'll let them go cheaply. If I do this for money, I want to make sure it's worth whatever effort goes into them, otherwise, I'd rather just give them away to friends.

This next part may not be of much interest unless you worked with me so feel free to skip the italicized text and resume this post with the last paragraph.

A retired friend from work (Bruce Steeples, now working as a controller in Bahrain) recently made what is probably one of the most interesting Facebook posts I've ever read. It's gone through several edits since his initial post as people have chimed in with additions to the list. It's a lot of fun to read.

Bruce wrote:

Nicknames of the Air Traffic Controllers at Minneapolis Center starting from 1981. Thanks for all who have helped refresh our collective memories.

Management tried to have a crackdown on the use of nicknames a few years back, along with attendant sensitivity training. I think the names being broadcast loudly over the outside paging system might have had something to do with it.

I have yet to find another profession where the use of nicknames is as widespread, or creative.
Everyone was referred to by their operator's initials as well, so I didn't include those unless they were modified to some extent; such as a perennial favorite, “Jizz.”

Any “offensive” nickname that was NOT used to directly address the individual noted with an *.

Unknown =?

Aluminum Mike---- Mike Donelly
Angry---Hank Tetreault
The Angry Dwarf*
The Axe---Jack Huber
Baa --- Brian Barnes
Bakes --- Tim Baker
Bang'in ---Jim Wangen
Barely White--- Barry White
Beagle ---Tim Legel
Bear---Gary Davis
Beez--- Bruce Steeples
Big Chief Run 'Em Together ---?
Benny ---Steve Bennett
The Bicycle*
Big Al--- Al Matakovich
Big Belly --- Jim ? Our old manager who went to ZDV
Big Dog --- Big Dog, I mean Roger Thompson
Big Ike---Ike Brown
The Big Fella*
Big Horse---Brad Hultquist
Billy---Mark Warren
Bird Dog---Mark Berdahl
Bolhunk --- Kevin Bolhouse
Boom Boom---Bob Kuh
Boy --- Roy Sullivan
Brannif Bob---Bob Uhlenhoff
Brizzenbanger ---Dave Brisendine
Brother Free Love---Rod Carey
Buck---Mike Buckingham
Buccaneer---John Barganier
Bud (Big, Ugly, and Dumb) ---Dean Rickles
Buddha ---Bud Raiter
Buffalo Head--- Dennys Peck
Bull --- Durwin Jones
Bunny ---Pat Taylor
Burger King*
Burnsie---Bobby Burns
Butt Vapor---Brian Vance
Cabbage Patch*
Cajun F***er---Dave Murphy
Captain Fear*
Captain Hate ---Butch Carrick
Chewbacca---Jim Mihalek
Chic --- Charles Williams
Chirp---Robin Thompson
Clueless---Tom Kloos
Cobra--- Dave Celski
Coldspot--- Paul Codispoti
Convict*---Jim Dillon
Country Joe--- Joe Konietzko
Cowkiller --- Durwin Jones
Cozy--- Dean Kosen
Cobb ---Jim Kobe
Crazy Echo ---Jon Cech
Creeper --- Tom Barnes
the Crumpler*--- Sheila Radke
Cub Bear---Kevin DeGarmo
Daddy Mac---Jerry McCarthy
Daffy---Dave Peterson
Death Bunny--- Pat Taylor
Dewey ---Paul Duschane
Dickhead --- Rich Green
Digger---Tom Barnes
Donna-Wanna--- Donna Nordstrom?
Doo-Dah --- Mike Day
Dough--- Chris Howard
Doughboy--- Chris Howard
Dragon --- Elliot Dallavalle
Dude ---Todd Sjostrand
Duh --- Dave Ritter
Dust Bunny---Bruce Wagnoner
Eddie the Fork---Ed Asbury
E.G. Honey---Ed Whitman
Ewok---Jerry Dehmer
Fido --- Dan Fitas
Flatliner* --- ?
Flounder --- Tim Erickson
Foghorn --- Jerry McCarthy
Fowerty Forbord---Jarred Forbord
Fritz the Crime Dog---Ralph Fee
Fubar---Dan Callahan
Foxy --- Ron Fox
Gerbil ---Jim Maness
Ghandi ---John DiRico
Goat Eyes--- Eric Hall
German --- Jeff St Germaine
Giz---Davey Johnson
the Gizzard---Davey Johnson
Gomez---Brad Adams
Grandma*---Karen Watland
Grandpa Death--- Pat Taylor
the Greek --- Dale Kellerman
Grievance Queen*
Guido---Pat Guider
Gumper --- Larry Roche
Gunner --- Glen Wiebel
Hat Trick---Bob Doyle
the Hawk --- Karen Zibolski
Helmet--- Paul Hughes
Hendu--- Greg Henderson
Hendy---Kris Henderson
High Plains Drifter---Todd Sjostrand
Hippity---Greg Haupt
The Hobbit*
Hooter---Jim Hutha
Houdini---Dan Abbene
Hubby--- Dan Hubbartt
Huggy Bear--- Mike Coulter
Hum Billy---Bill Szydlo
Humdinger--- Denny Hunsinger
Hurricane --- Kristina Schaff
Hutch--- Jerry Hutchinson
Igor --- Jim Bradach
The Indian ---Jim Maness
Indiana Dakins --- Dave Dakins
Iron Mike --- Mike Cincianelli
Jabba the Hut*---Mike Renner
JayBall --- Jay Erickson
Jer-Man --- Jerry Hutchinson
Jizz --- Jim Claseman
the Jockey*--- Paul Heitzinger
Jonesey --- Brian Jones
Jugbutt--- Butch Carrick
Juggy ---Butch Carrick
Junior ---John Weiderholt
Kahuna---Mike Koch
Karbo--- Kathy Karbowski
Kato---Shawn MAdera
Kazoo---Carl Wicklund
Kid Curry --- Mike Curry
Killer---Dale Willer
Kitten ---Kathy Regan
Koko---Randy Johnson
Koko the Gorilla---Randy Johnson
Land Pirhana---Steve Bennett
Lapper ---Mark Lapham
Larry, Bro & Curly* --- 3 Area 1 wash-outs
Librarian*---Grievance Queen*
Lightning --- Larry Swanson
The Little General---Jeff Eggers
Lobo---Jim McDonald
Loin Lick*
Love Barge*
Lugo---Jim Lugowski
Lugnuts---Jim Lugowski
Lunchbox---Lee Larson
Lurch--- Bruce Kleven
Lutefisk---Mel Ludvigson
Mach One--- Mike Renner
Mach Speed---Chris Mauk
Marlborough Man---Rick Nielsen
Mayor MacCheese---Kevan Soderberg
Mister Spacely---Bruce Wagoner
Mrs. Doubtfire*
Maukarena---Chris Mauk
Mel --- Rick Melhorn
Moe---Doug Miller
Mongoose*---See “Cobra”
Monsignor--- Dave Loible
Moose--- Eldon Miller, and Jim Rud
Mr. Happy---Jeff Eggers
Muskrat --- Mark Moskal
Nat-Man --- Craig Natvig
Nord --- Deron Hoffmeier
Norwegian Mine Sweeper*--- Gordy Henrickson
North Dakota Gump---Ricky Weinand
The Odor Lady*
Old Hickory--- Roy Sullivan
Ox --- Doug Syrstad
Peh Ewwahs---Pat Edwards
Pedwahs --- Pat Edwards
The Penguin---Bob Ethier
the Perfect Storm* ---Vicki Rolf
The Pervert*--- Dave Dakins
Pit Head---Terry Pitts
Pitthead --- Terry Pitts
Plantman --- Randy Beck
Pop Tart---Shawn Madera
Portland---Bob Smith
Post --- Tony Postiglione
Prarie Dog--- Mark Prarie
Pretty ---Leon Stebbins
Pretty Mouth--- Leon Stebbins
Punkin--- Vern Anderson
Purvy ---Scott Purvis
Pusswa --- Mark Puhl
Pussette --- Jewel Puhl
Radar--- Paul Heitzman
Rambo---Dan Pederson
Ramboette-Julie Damico
Rat --- Doug Ratfield
Razz---Tony Rasmussen
Redeye --- Loren Markuson
Rhino ---Jay Nankivell
Ric-O-Shea---Bob Shea
Ringer---Steve Ring
Rock ---Glen Hudson
Rollerball---Mel Roller
Rotater ---Jerry Howland
Rug Man --- Randy Beck
Rugrat ---Jack Rugroden
S-Nine ---Jerry Schiltgen
S-Twelve---Mark Schermeister
the Sampler--- Mark “Harry” Harris
Sarge--- Jim Bedient
Saxophone---Sith Vixavong
Scammer --- Camille Hughes
Schmoopy---Paul Lindstrom
Schultsie --- Paul Shultz
Schwack --- David Schweitz
Senor Smoke*---Rolando Galvez
Sergeant Slaughter--- Jim Bedient
Senator --- ? Trombley
Shaggy---Steve Soler
Shanker --- John Shanks
Sheep---- Tim Johnson
Skid---Doug Mark
Skippy--- Glen Hansmann
Smurf--- Ethan “Danny” Piche
Snake--- Ed Nobach
Sniff --- Gary Spickler
Soda Pop---Kevan Soderberg
Sooner Tuner ---Larry CArter
Spanky ---Gary Spickler
Spongebob--- Bob Jacobowski
Squarehead--- Tom Kloos
Squeech --- George Skvicalo
Sterno---Garry Sternitzky
Stickman---Bart Guderian
Stinky---Steve Bennett
Stone Clone ---Jim Bradach
Strat --- Mark Stratmann
Stu Ball-Stu Workwman
Stu Daddy---Stu Workman
Sully --- Pat Sullivan
Super Dave ---Super Dave Leske
Swanny---Chris Swanson, Larry Swanson
Sweet Joe---Joe Schrodt
Sweet Lips---Davey Johnson
Sweetness---Joe Schrodt
Tank--- Kenneth Kamrath
Tatoo---Bob Tatosian
Ten Feet of Terror---Smurf and Brian Rich
Tex---John Gillespie
Three Dollar--- Tim Deer
Thomps --- Mike Thompson
Thunder --- Terry Eliason
Thundercock ---Terry Eliason
Thunder Kitty---Todd Martenson
The Tick*
Tin Man---Jim Kobe
Toad---Todd Martenson
Torgy--- Jeff Torgeson
Trip --- Tim Triplett
Trout Lick --- Richard Trauernicht
Trouser Snake ---Richard Trauernicht
Turkish --- Brian Turck
Tonga--- Mike Leong
Two Trips --- ?
Turbo---Tom Kloos
Turbo Jaws---Randy Beck
Turbo Whiner----Tom Kloos
20-20--- Joe Bishop
Uff-Da--- Lane Efta
Uncle Barnsie ---Brian Barnes
Uncle Bob---Bob Ethier
Untraina Bill---Bill Ward
Vapor Lock---Rich Breuing
Vinny--- Greg Vincent
Whacko Willy--- Bill Gephart
Whip It Out Charlie---Ken Fix
Whitewash ---Willy Frederick
Whitey ---Joe Hertzog
Windchill --- Greg Henderson
Weedy ---Steve Weidner
Weeds--- Steve Weidner
Wolf Head ---Steve Curry
Woody---Craig Wood
Wonderdog--- Eric Greer
Wookie---Jim Mihalek
Wrench --- John Turnquist
Whoopie --- Wayne Goldberg
Xylophone---Sith Vixavong
Yabut---Brett Larson
Yak --- Mark Yakich
Yellow Elk*
Zee --- Mark Zwolenski
Notorious Z.I.B.---Kraig Zibolski
Zibby--- Kraig Zibolski

Nope, no nickname for me. Over the years I answered to "Kilo Gram" from Ed Whitman, "KG Guy" from a few and "Happy" from a few others but mostly I simply answered to Kay-Gee (my initials) which for this list didn't count.

The mountain bike trails are all still closed due to above freezing temps so I've been content to confine my workouts to our home gym. I climbed aboard my CompuTrainer the other day intending to do maybe 30 miles of the Oceanside Triathlon bike course. It had been a while since I'd done this course and I found myself enjoying it so much that decided to stay for all 56 miles. I needed that!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

More PDT, Lower Values for Me and a Colonoscopy! Gee...

I was back at my dermatologist's office last Friday for another round of Photodynamic Therapy as a defense against Mr. Sun. I was treated twice last year with the same PDT treatment and it worked well. My doctor hasn't said but I believe he wants to treat me routinely with this method for destroying precancerous skin cells (also known as actinic keratoses) on my face.

While I was very good at using sunscreen last year during the summer and fall, I stopped once winter arrived and I shouldn't have. I've got my bottle of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen (with zinc) at the ready once again.

My vascular doctor (who became involved with my health care a little over a year ago) has become my primary care physician. He had me in for a physical last November and did a complete blood count on me to check for the dozens of values a blood panel measures. While my HDL cholesterol level was optimal (68), my LDL (125) and overall cholesterol (211) were both higher than Dr. Foley was comfortable seeing and they were numbers that surprised me as well. He wrote me a prescription for Lipitor saying that there's no reason I shouldn't live to see my 90s and he wants to be sure I get there with healthy arteries. I couldn't disagree. He mentioned some side effects in the way of muscle and joint soreness and I left without giving any push-back.

When I got home I mentioned to Tammy the new prescription that had been called in for me and told her of my concerns for never being able to come off it once going on it. She agreed that that's generally how it works and expressed surprise to see it prescribed for me considering how Dr. Foley had been impressed with my "pristine arteries" when I was hospitalized one year ago last month for clotting issues. She suggested I call his nurse to ask if he would be agreeable to seeing what sort of improvement I could make to my cholesterol level through diet before committing to Lipitor or some such drug for the rest of my life. Dr. Foley agreed and gave me 3 months to improve my cholesterol values.

I got the results yesterday.

I'm happy to say that my overall cholesterol went from 211 to 154 and my LDL dropped from 125 to 79! I can live with those numbers. Literally.

I've never had issues with elevated cholesterol before so what changed? I think it may have been my recent routine (since retiring) of getting up each morning and making a breakfast of eggs and bacon in addition to eating some of the pastry Tammy has been buying to try and fatten her mother a little. I've been working out but that's not enough. So, with Tammy's help, I've drastically reduced my cholesterol intake and am eating more healthful foods. Dr. Foley was very pleased with the results and gave me an "A+" rating. I was excited about the news but waited until I got home to tell Tammy. I wanted to see the look on her face when I handed her the sheet with my improved blood panel numbers. She was both happy and impressed!

Just one last medical thing—I promise. I went in for another colonoscopy procedure this morning. I think this was my 5th colonoscopy in the last 8 years but because there were no polyps to be found this time, I was told I don't need to be examined again for another 5 years. If you're at all put off by this procedure, don't be. The only pain associated with it was a small prick where the nurse inserted an IV needle in a vein in my hand to administer a sedative. I've been awake for every other colonoscopy I've had but Minnesota Gastroenterology P.A. has a new protocol where everyone is put under. That worked well too. Not knowing what's going on inside me is much more of a monkey on my back than just going in and having it done.

I spent the past few nights working on a project for a friend from work who was instrumental in getting me to seek a 2nd opinion for my hearing loss late last summer. I remember coming back from seeing an ENT doctor in Burnsville after having been told that it was doubtful I would experience much recovery and that I should focus my efforts on learning to adapt to being deaf in one ear and agreeing with him. I picked up the phone that night to call Steve and tell him I'd be in in the morning to submit my retirement papers and why. He was insistent that I get a 2nd opinion, preferably from a doctor at Mayo Clinic. Had he not done that, I'm very sure I wouldn't have pursued the treatment which, along with much prayer from many friends who were pulling for me, led to my complete healing. But it all started with Steve and I felt I needed to say thanks in a more lasting way.

It's a small panel I made for him that I designed a while back in the vein of Frank Lloyd Wright's work. It measures 4.5" by 8.5" (10 by 21.5 cm). I hope he's able to find a sunny spot for it.

Reid posted a link to my Facebook wall about a mountain bike race in Lutsen this June and was wondering if I'm at all interested.

Heck yeah!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Online Panhandling, a Date Night and Winter Riding

I read a story recently about an overweight guy who is bicycling across the country to both win his wife back and lose weight while paying for his adventure via crowdsourcing. I had no reason to suspect his effort to be anything other than a legitimate endeavor but Tammy was watching Dr. Phil today and he was interviewing Eric on his program. Apparently, Eric has more than a few skeptics, and for good reason. I was looking at his Strava page (Strava is what a lot of us cyclists use to track our progress) and Eric is spending very little time trying to reach his goal but he still has his hand out looking for whatever money people will throw his way.

Crowdsourcing is one way to generate income online—making viral videos is another.

A friend posted a video on Facebook today of a guy walking the streets of NYC with dozens of dollar bills taped to his suit while holding a sign that encouraged passersby in need to take whatever amount of money they wanted off of him. I had no reason to doubt the legitimacy of what I'd just watched but one of the commenters to the video shared a video link describing videos such as this to be nothing more than staged scenarios intended to tug at your heartstrings with hopes of going viral and generating tens of thousands of dollars for the person who uploaded it.

I'm so leary anymore of giving to any charities in general with the number of scammers that are out there.

I got a text from Karen one morning recently telling me to look out my back windows. There were 4 deer in our backyards that still hadn't bedded down for the day, feeding on whatever it is they feed on. I know they're commonplace but they're also elusive and when I see them, I always stop whatever it is I'm doing to have a look. Karen said she usually sees them in a group of 7.

Rachel and her friend Michelle came over Saturday night to give us relief from watching Mom/Grandma and let us get away for a date-night. That was sweet of them.

Tammy is a bit of a sci-fi nerd so I took her to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Mall of America. MoA isn't a favorite venue of ours to see a movie because of their lack of stadium seating but we liked the idea of spending the evening kicking around the mall, seeing a show and having dinner.

This was my first Star Wars movie so I wasn't sure what to expect or even if I'd be able to understand any of what was happening after being dropped into the middle of the action but I managed okay. I think Tammy was hoping for more from the show but she still liked it as did I. She says the first Star Wars is still the best in the series.

I gorged on way too much candy during the movie and got dizzy and sweaty as we left the theater for Twin City Grill. The bread tray and beer brought me back around. We put our diets on hold and guiltlessly enjoyed our dinners and conversation which mostly centered around our parents and thoughts about our years growing up. It was a nice night out together and something we've been missing being able to do more of.

I had such a good workout this afternoon on my CompuTrainer. I was racing against two previous efforts I'd done (one from a few days ago and one from two years ago) and that usually causes me to work harder than I otherwise would.

I took a photo to show what I'm looking at while I'm on my CompuTrainer. Today I rode a simulated course of the Diamond in the Rough Triathlon in Perryville, MD. The left view is my current effort while the other two views are from two separate previous performances. The monitor shows me where I'm at on the course in relation to the other two riders. It'll also show my current data as well as the performance data from the other rides. You can see the course profile along the bottom and if you look closely, you can see where each rider is along the profile line.

Riding an indoor trainer can be mind-numbing and most cyclists will do anything to avoid it but with all of this geeky stuff to help take my mind off of the suffering, I actually enjoy the workout.

But outdoor winter riding in Minnesota can be a lot of fun as well. The foot of snow we received last week was just what the trails were in need of.

Video from our Faturday ride from two days ago...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Each morning when I wake up I reach for my phone to check for notifications or emails. One of the things I enjoy seeing most is my "look back" from Facebook that shows me what I was doing on that day's date in previous years. If nothing else, it shows me how fast a year or more can get away but it also usually provides for some nice memories. As someone who likes to reminisce about days gone by, this works well for me.

Yesterday's look back had a photo of our pups that I'd posted 7 years ago just after Charlie had come to live with us. I had written in the comments section: "Toby is becoming more and more accepting of Charlie all the time. Charlie follows Toby like he's a big brother at the dog park. It's very cute to watch." I remember those days. It would take Toby at least a couple of years to warm up to the little guy but he eventually did. They're not playmates but they can often be found snuggled close together.

I took the photo to the right yesterday afternoon to bookend the photo from 7 years ago.

I got a text the week before last from Rachel inquiring if I was interested in attending the Bernie Sanders rally in St Paul when his campaign rolled through town last Tuesday night. We had last been to a campaign rally together in the fall of 2004 when George W. Bush came to town. It was a time when Tammy and I were part of the Christian Conservative voting bloc. Little did we know then how much our political views would change over the next few years and neither did Rachel realize that the same would happen for her as all 3 of us individually began to question a mindset that had been working for us but a mindset that was about to be questioned by us all.

We'd bought into an ideology based on a pro-life platform which apart from that one thing bared little resemblance to the teachings of Jesus. We cheered alongside our fellow Christians as GWB led us into battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, never once stopping to question the words of Jesus to love our enemies. That alone should've been enough to cause me to pause and begin my questioning but it wasn't. It would eventually take the anti-labor actions of the Bush administration toward my workplace and an anti-GLBTQ lead pastor at our beloved church with its abundance of conservative Christians and their vocal support of him to give me that cold slap to my face that said "Wake up! These people are wrong and you're supporting them!"

That was when I began to question everything about this marriage of my faith and politics that the republican party was only too happy to arrange. And it's only gotten worse since leaving both the church and the party as the republican winner of last night's Iowa caucus, Ted Cruz, proclaimed in his victory speech, "To God be the glory"; his own version of "Allahu Akbar". This is the same Ted Cruz who recently shared the stage with Kevin Swanson, a pastor who advocates killing gays. It's the same Ted Cruz who recently stated his promise to carpet-bomb the Middle East in his quest to go after ISIS; a pledge that promises to kill untold thousands of innocent lives. It's the same Ted Cruz who would rather shun refugees who desperately need our compassion. Where for god's sake is Jesus in your thinking, Ted?

And how do Christian conservatives respond? They come out in record numbers to support this man and the skewed Christian ideology he's peddling. This is so troubling to me.

So yes, I was happy to meet up with Rachel and Raenelle at RiverCentre in St Paul to hear Bernie speak before an enthusiastic crowd of mostly younger people but a crowd also made up of many in their 40s to 60s. What Bernie says resonates so much with me and has for many years.

Bernie's candidacy for president is a longshot but if a man peddling a severely warped Christian ideology can get the nod, surely a man telling us the truth about the destructiveness of trickle-down economics, tax breaks for the obscenely wealthy among us paid for by cuts in programs for struggling people and the toll on our country of wars without end, he too has to have a chance.

But there's more. I hate to end this entry on a heavy note so I'll slip in a video from Saturday's ride. Enjoy, because I did!