Richard Tocci

Richard Tocci
Just when you thought it was safe, I show up...

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The contents of this blog are my own comments and opinions and do not reflect those of my family, friends, colleagues, clients, employers, or anyone else I may know. Additionally, their comments and opinions are not a reflection of me or this blog. Any links contained in posts are maintained by third parties and are not under the control of this blog, and as such, this blog is not responsible for their content. All links are provided "as is" with no explicit or implicit warranty of any kind.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Who Occupies Wall Street?

Over the past few weeks, a movement to Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has taken root to seemingly protest the link between corporate America and the American political system.  

I won't be arguing the right to free speech, or to assemble, as these are rights I truly believe in.  I believe this movement, which has spread to other American cities since Occupy Wall Street began, has the right to assemble peacefully and to say what they want.  I don't believe they have the right to destroy personal property or to physically hurt other people in these demonstrations.  And my position has always been to let these people protest no matter how silly or serious anyone thinks it is.

But as these protests grow larger, more groups of people have joined the fray, and the focus of these demonstrations seems to have lost its edge.  Usually a demonstration of this type has a single focus with specific points it wants addressed to resolve the focus.  But everyone from labor unions to antiwar protesters have joined this movement, and while they probably all have legitimate grievances, joining this particular movement doesn't seem logical.

So I decided to instead look into the movement the best way I know - a little Internet research.

I started with the web site OccupyWallSt.org.  Read through the site and you'll find articles, video, and other items related to their cause.  It's consistent with what they advertise. 

Their About page is interesting.  It's not interesting in what is said, necessarily, but in how it's worded.  It's short and to the point, and immediately mentions "We are not affiliated with Adbusters, anonymous or any other organization."

And then you see a post to their first Press Release, which references a memorandum from Adbusters on July 13, 2011.  So why mention the Adbusters post if you are not affiliated with Adbusters?

I'll come back to that in a moment.  I wanted to get more into the website itself. 

I did a Whois Lookup of the website name.  This type of lookup tells you, most times, where an Internet address was registered, by whom, when, for how long, and who to contact for information or abuse.  It's not always filled out - an organization may not want certain information readily available from anything but their own website pages, so this information can be blocked, or it can be falsified.  In the case of OccupyWallSt.org, it's not falsified - it states flat out that it's Whois Guard Protected.  This means they've paid extra money so their location, registrar name, points of contact, and any other information is deliberately hidden.  But this is perfectly reasonable and legal. 

I did a little more digging, found the IP address of the site, and did find some information on contacts:

http://whois.arin.net/rest/poc/MGE16-ARIN.html
http://whois.arin.net/rest/poc/ABUSE716-ARIN.html
http://whois.arin.net/rest/poc/GMVE-ARIN.html

Additionally, the IP address of their website is registered to Cellco Partnership DBA Verizon Wireless out of New Jersey. 

In comparison, the Tea Party web site, teaparty.org, contains fake information.  The address listed for the Tea Party is actually a RiteAid store in Laguna Woods, CA.  Their contact phone number is also fake. 

On the Occupy Wall Street web site, there are two phone numbers listed on the About page.  One is a local number for Nassau County, NY.  The number is otherwise unpublished and unlisted in a public phone record.  I called this number, talked to a man who answered the call "Thank you for calling Occupy Wall Street", and asked him where he was physically located.  He wouldn't answer me.  I told him the number showed up on my phone and I wanted to know who had called me, and he refused to give me any help.  When I told him I simply wanted to know why someone from the 516 area code was calling me in Texas, he said he was in Long Island.  I thanked him and hung up. 

A search on this phone number led me to a forum thread about this number from a couple of years ago.  The number was implicated in a series of calls to people warning that their ATM or credit cards had been deactivated, and that in order to reactivate them, certain personal information was required.  Most of the victims in the forum didn't ever have an account at the many bank names presented.  While not an indication that this number's past indiscretions were indicative of current events, it certainly helps strengthen an air of caution. 

The second phone number was a toll free number that, when I called, did not answer to a person but instead to voicemail, alerting me that voicemail had not yet been configured correctly; I was told "Goodbye" by the semi-friendly monotone recorded voice, and disconnected.

There are also a number of email addresses that I haven't tried yet, so it's unclear if these email addresses even work.

So the conclusion to this point is this website is a website to the movement, they've prefer not to be harassed by anyone so they've attempted to anonymize as much information as they can, and has content consistent with their vague mission statement.  Nothing really setting off alarms.

So let's move on to the Adbusters, who Occupy Wall Street says started a call to arms, so to speak.  OWS placed a link that appears to be the starting point to all of this.   So I read through this page, and it seems the ideas are a bit haphazard, not totally coherent, and generally just a call to unite, but not exactly sure what they should unite against.

There is one focus statement:

"a presidential commission to separate money from politics"

That seems reasonable.  But then you read on:

"Post a comment and help each other zero in on what our one demand will be. And then let's screw up our courage, pack our tents and head to Wall Street with a vengeance September 17." 

Which leads me to think there is no real focus at all.

And then, another statement:

"This could be the beginning of a whole new social dynamic in America, a step beyond the Tea Party movement, where, instead of being caught helpless by the current power structure, we the people start getting what we want whether it be the dismantling of half the 1,000 military bases America has around the world to the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act or a three strikes and you're out law for corporate criminals. Beginning from one simple demand – a presidential commission to separate money from politics – we start setting the agenda for a new America."

So we've moved from a Presidential Commission on separating corporate money from politics to changing a social dynamic in America to dismantling US Military bases...and where is the common theme here?

Again, remember, if you want to assemble and protest, go ahead.  If your ideas are not terribly coherent, fine, protest anyway.  Don't hurt anyone, don't destroy personal property, and certainly don't go threatening people. 

But then I dug deeper...

My Whois search came up a little strange.  I had plenty of information on this site.  I'll list it all here, since it is publicly available:

Registrant:
Adbusters Media Foundation

1243 West 7th Avenue
Vancouver, British Columbia V6H1B7
Canada

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: ADBUSTERS.ORG
Created on: 30-Aug-95
Expires on: 29-Aug-12
Last Updated on: 24-Aug-11

Administrative Contact:
Lasn, Kalle domains@adbusters.org
Adbusters Media Foundation
1243 West 7th Avenue
Vancouver, British Columbia V6H1B7
Canada
+1.6047369401 Fax -- +1.6047376021

Technical Contact:
Contact, Domain domains@adbusters.org
Adbusters Media Foundation
1243 West 7th Avenue
NA
Vancouver, British Columbia V6H1B7
Canada
+1.6047369401 Fax -- +1.6047376021

Domain servers in listed order:
DINA.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM
TOM.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM


Registry Status: CLIENT DELETE PROHIBITED
Registry Status: CLIENT RENEW PROHIBITED
Registry Status: CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Registry Status: CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED


Did you catch that?  Here it is again:

1243 West 7th Avenue
Vancouver, British Columbia V6H1B7
Canada


Why exactly is a Canadian media company making a call like this to "flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street"? 

This is where this whole situation fails the smell test...

Remember what was written in the blog post:

"This could be the beginning of a whole new social dynamic in America, a step beyond the Tea Party movement, where, instead of being caught helpless by the current power structure, we the people start getting what we want whether it be the dismantling of half the 1,000 military bases America has around the world to the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act or a three strikes and you're out law for corporate criminals. Beginning from one simple demand – a presidential commission to separate money from politics – we start setting the agenda for a new America."

A new agenda for America - from a Canadian Media Outlet.  Yeah, I really don't like the smell of this.  I'm not a conspiracy theorist, thinking that there's a great Canadian Wave that's going to swoop down from the North and take over the US.  The words are clear here, though - a new agenda for America.  I don't think a Canadian media outlet needs to assist us on a new American agenda.

Additionally, Adbusters.org Whois lookup reports (http://whois.domaintools.com/67.192.229.59) that there are several other websites that use the same root IP address.  If you start looking at these, you see a few ventures dealing with selling shoes, making The Huffington Post go away because they felt she sold out to AOL, and a site called DesignAnarchy.org that offers, for $25, a book that is "Equal parts memoir, manifesto, scrapbook and revolutionary design manual, Design Anarchy is an urgent call for artists, designers, architects and communicators to re-engage with the world." :

blackspotshoes.org
blackspotsneaker.org
designanarchy.org
mediacarta.org


You can take from this what you want, but at this point, after doing this little bit of work, I don't trust much of it.  But let them protest - it's their right and they should exercise it.  And I respect our Canadian neighbors, but no Canadian protesters, please.  



This post is simulcast in full living Technicolor on www.richardtocci.com and on Facebook.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Charger

Conversation with Alex while driving to the mall.

Alex: "Dad, how much does a Charger cost?"

Dad: "New, about $27000 to start."

Alex: "Wow! I'm gonna need a sale for that one!"

I didn't bother to explain TTL...


This post is simulcast in full living Technicolor on www.richardtocci.com and on Facebook.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

RIP LaDonna Kay Cargill

LaDonna Kay Cargill died on July 7, 2011, only 5 days after turning 39 years old. She died in her sleep apparently of a seizure, a condition by which she had been suffering from for over 13 years following diagnosis of and surgery for an arterial venous malformation.

For those of you that remember her, Donna was my first wife of about 7 years, and mother to my daughter, Amanda Lee Dean.

To say that my relationship with Donna was tumultuous is an understatement - for the most part, it was an emotional train wreck. Not only did she suffer from a physical brain condition, but after our divorce she was later diagnosed with bipolarism with depression. Her seizure condition was a direct result of damage from the AVM, from which she mostly recovered but seizures were a reality she knew she would have to deal with for the remainder of her life.

For the longest time in our relationship, I begged her to get help for what I thought was a problem, but her stubbornness and drive to work through her problems herself - a trait to which I was attracted to back in our early relationship - delayed that until years after our divorce, when she finally broke down and sought help. It would not have caused her to stay alive longer, but it was help she so desperately needed, and it was a shame she didn't get it sooner.

I try not to think of all the bad times in our life, because it just brings back too many painful memories. I learned a lot about myself during those years, but that doesn't make those memories any less painful. I try to remember the more humorous aspects of our lives. After she had her brain surgery to remove the AVM and she woke up in ICU at Zale Lipshy Hospital in Dallas, Texas, the nurses tried to feed her ice chips. Her surgery, the second in 3 days, had lasted 9 1/2 hours, and after being in recovery for a few hours after that, her throat was obviously dry. When they tried to feed her ice, she waved the nurses away, but the nurses forced her to eat the ice. Well, that didn't work out so well as she vomited the ice right up. She found her voice and uttered two words: Dr. Pepper. The nurses obliged after a few minutes of fit throwing, and of course was perfectly fine after that. She remained under sedation for that night and the whole of the next day.

After those nearly two days, I walked into her room in ICU, after being woken up by Deon Sanders and his entourage while I was asleep in the ICU waiting room, to see her sitting up in bed, bitching about there being nothing on the TV, and eating bacon and eggs. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "Hi!"
Donna: "Hi!"
Me: "Lay back down!"

Donna laughed, and then she was up walking around. Well, walking was not what I'd call it. It was more like a cross between hobbling and shuffling, since her legs had not been used in 2 days and had to be freed from pads designed to keep the circulation going while being bed ridden.

Her surgery involved removing a portion of her brain, and that caused her to temporarily lose the ability to read. Reading books was what Donna loved to do most, preferring Stephen King above all others, but would read books voraciously. Losing the ability to read frustrated her for a while, but after 6 months, she was back to reading at her pre-surgery rate. This is a testament to the human brain and its ability to heal. In fact, her doctor, Dr. Duke Sampson, was amazed she was alive and that her brain functioned, because motor functions that should have been damaged were perfectly fine despite the AVM. Those functions were routed to parts of the brain not affected by the AVM. It still caused damage, of course, but the brain is truly an amazing machine.

About a year or so after that surgery, Donna did something to just royally piss me off. I don't remember what it was, but it involved her talking WAY too much. I was so beside myself that I could only think of one thing to do. I picked up the remote control to the television, pointed it at her head, and pressed the power and mute buttons several times in frustration. Then I said "God dammit, they forgot to put it in!" Donna was pissed off at that for about 1 second, then laughed, as did I, and that was the end of that argument.

In her last days, Donna suffered from what she described as migraines, and the medication she was on to help control those did not seem to help. Her last words to the world at large were on Facebook, talking about her migraines. She sat on a chair to rest and try to nap it off. She fell asleep and never woke up.

When I was notified of Donna's death, my daughter had not been called, and I took the responsibility of breaking the news. I called Amanda immediately and left her a message on her phone to call me back as soon as she got the message. She cried so much when I broke the news to her. That night, she was at my house, and she spent the next three days taking care of her mother's affairs, including her mother's wish to be cremated. For all the pain Amanda suffered with her mother's death, she handled all of the arrangements with help from her aunts, cousins, grandmother, and the rest of her family, and she handled it with a strength I always knew she had. In those few days, I was most proud of her.

So if you enjoy Dr. Pepper, and if you smoke cigarettes, take a drink and a puff and say a word or two to Donna.


This post is simulcast in full living Technicolor on www.richardtocci.com and on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Take Me Out To The Ballgame - JibJab Style!

Just watch...

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!


This post is simulcast in full living Technicolor on www.richardtocci.com and on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Goodbye, Old Man

Grahame Menzies Williams succumbed to cancer and died on June 26, 2011. He was a subsea petroleum engineer, loved rugby, Astros Baseball, NFL Football, and played lacrosse till he was 40 years old. He hated broccoli (often referring to them as miniature trees), loved sausages, and knew every single terrible pun in existence. His favorite swimming pool maneuver was to flip forward into the deep end, come up, and spit water from his mouth. When I was with him in his pool, we mastered the 2-Man Cannonball.

Now, unless you ran in subsea petroleum engineering circles, he was not that famous to you. He never made it to professional sports, so no one outside of his friends and family knew he loved sports. He loved to travel, take cruises, and tour islands in the Caribbean or anywhere else he could find a good deal.

His most famous role, however, was that of grandfather to my sons Alex and Hayden.

They called him Papa. Alex was the apple of his eye. Hayden was his special little grandson. Grahame was exuberant every time one of them hit a major milestone on their lives. Towards the end of his life, pain and exhaustion kept him from doing the things he loved most - taking walks with the boys in the park or the golf course, playing catch or hitting the wiffle ball or a golfball in the back yard with Alex, or rolling the ball on the living room floor with Hayden, or getting the computer out and going to pbskids.org so they could learn. Grahame single handedly taught Alex the alphabet and his numbers.

He was there for me and Fliss, too. He helped us get the house we lived in and played the Grandchild Card when I expressly forbid him from buying Fliss a Dyson vacuum cleaner by buying it anyway and declaring it was good for his grandsons. We had discussions over politics, religion, the jackass that cut him off on 529 in Houston, giblet gravy, and "Morons".

When Fliss and I divorced, I didn't see him or his wife, Diane, for about a year. I drove down to his house to pick up the boys one afternoon, and when I got there, he assured me that while relationships end, he held no animosity toward me. I'm the father of his grandsons, I treated them well, and he didn't feel I needed to stay away because of a divorce. That set my mind at ease, and I made sure I visited as often as I could.

Grahame was diagnosed with cancer 7 years ago, and after he appeared to beat it a couple of times, it spread to his lymph nodes and he deteriorated from there. After the pain became unbearable this past Friday, he was given ungodly amounts of medication at the hospital, and was sent home for hospice care but didn't make it through the night.

As soon as Diane is ready, she'll have a pool party to celebrate Grahame's life. There will be no mourning at this party. There will probably be at least one burnt sausage, and I guarantee an encore performance of the 2-Man Cannonball...

This post is simulcast in full living Technicolor on www.richardtocci.com and on Facebook.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Virtualization

This post is a Geek Post mixed with a little business opinion. If this bores the crap out of you, you might want to move on...

In my job as a Technical Support Analyst, I deal with a wide variety of business units in an organization. I have talked with everyone from a senior vice president all the way down to a desktop technician in IT. Just because my job is mostly technical in nature does not mean that I ignore talking with an end user because we don't "speak the same language." A customer wants to know what's happening, or what I'm doing to fix a problem, and I need to keep them informed. Communication is key to how I work, in addition to my computing skillset.

Part of my job is also to keep up with trends in my industry. Although Corptax sells software and services in the corporate tax space, information technology is my trade, and is critical to my success.
Link
A recent trend in computing is the concept of virtualization - converting a physical machine into a software-based virtual machine. This does a number of things for an IT department, but it boils down, as it so often does, to money. Virtualization saves money in hardware, power, and administrative costs by consolidating servers to a smaller area. It also can facilitate moving a bunch of servers from one location to another - the less physical servers, the less the need to physically pick up a server, and all of it's cabling, and move it to a new site, which is sometimes hundreds or thousands of miles away.

I have no problem with this concept; in fact, I embrace it and use it on a daily basis. Microsoft has a virtualization platform called Hyper-V, which is built into their Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 server operating systems. At work I have a server that runs Hyper-V, and on it I run a self-contained domain on which I can test any number of scenarios that a customer may report. It also gives me a place to practice skills in Active Directory, networking, on the Hyper-V platform itself. VMWare is the other big player in the virtualization market with their vSphere and ESX Server products.

So, what does this have to do with communication? Well, my case, everything.

Because the cost savings are so large (and in the case of Vertafore and other companies, their vehicle by which they moved their data center and closed their College Station site a little while back), IT departments are moving quickly to virtualization. In the case of some large corporations, the mandate comes from the senior executive levels. IT is important, and is expensive, and anything that will save in the order of millions of dollars is not ignored.

When the mandate begins, systems have to be reviewed. Systems are reviewed by tracking resources used on a server. The general consensus is that if a server is not used that often, it is a prime candidate for virtualization.

Yet, while IT has domain over servers in an organization, business units within an organization own the machines and generally pay for them in one lump sum, or over the course of their existence. This means that the business unit ultimately is responsible for what happens to those servers.

But the trend in IT is to do analysis and virtualize what they decide can be virtualized - and generally, without telling the business units. This is where the communication process breaks down, when it should be at its most stable.

This happened to a customer of mine in the last couple of months. The server on which our product was installed was targeted for virtualization. Because the server was idle while analysis was done, it was assumed that the server's hardware resources were not needed, and as such were scaled back once virtualization took place. And of course, what happened was bound to happen - when the application was used more and more, performance suffered.

My support organization worked with the customer for 18 months prior to virtualization to work out many performance problems. This customer is a rather large client so we did a lot of work at their request, but in the end we resolved everything. And in mere days, it was all undone.

So, what does all this have to do with communication? Everything. What should have happened was that the business unit that owned the servers should have been contacted, by email or, better yet, by direct phone call. That never happened. IT took the mandate and did it's job, but without alerting the business unit. Not communicating a plan to departments that are directly affected by your work is always a mistake.

I've performed server replacements where, when all was finished, users did not know that the server had been replaced, but the head of the business unit was at least alerted and was fully aware of the changes to take place. In most cases, the business unit initiated the work I did, so it was not a surprise. But large enterprises tend to lose sight of communication. And that makes problems, for everyone.

This post is simulcast in full living Technicolor on www.richardtocci.com and on Facebook.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's The End Of The World....


It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

No, it was not really the end of the world. Not at all. We all knew that, but everyone had to be waiting to see what would happen at 6PM EDT on Saturday May 21, 2011.

I'll be the first to admit, I waited to see. Well, I wasn't exactly waiting. I had other things to do, like prepare the kids for meals, baths, and later bed. So I just went about my routine, figuring that if the Rapture did occur, it wouldn't matter what I was doing anyway, because it was likely that Alex and Hayden would simply disappear from the face of the Earth, if that's how you believe it would happen. I probably wouldn't have - I have WAY too many misdeeds on this planet to secure a place in the elite.

If that's what you believe would happen.

Do I believe? No, not really. But it did make for interesting news, didn't it?

But even true Christians were embarrassed by the attention. The picture on this post is one example. I assume it's real, but even if it's not, that's what I would say...



This post is simulcast in full living Technicolor on www.richardtocci.com and on Facebook.

Monday, May 2, 2011

RIP Osama Bin Laden

It finally happened. On May 1, 2001, Osama Bin Laden was taken out in Abbottabad, Paksitan by a US Navy Seal task force, shot in the head inside a compound built specifically for the purpose of holding Bin Laden.

I was very happy to hear the news. In fact, I was almost as exuberant as those who camped out in front of the White House, in Times Square, and at Ground Zero, singing our National Anthem and chanting "USA! USA!"

Facebook and Twitter were all abuzz with activity as the news continues to mount, details become more and more available.

Information has steadily flowed public about the operation. But I heard a lot of people complain about the celebrations in Washington DC and New York after the news came out. Those complaints bothered me. Was no one around when the towers came down and saw how frightened those people were? Did no one remember the 3000 people killed that day? Do we not know who was responsible?

Look, there are going to be some people that will take the celebration too far. But for people to go into the streets and celebrate in NYC and DC is going to be normal. I'm glad they celebrated.

And now the celebrations have subsided and the country has calmed down about it. The celebrations weren't that bad, were they?





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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Coffee, Tea, or Obesity?

Conversation with Alex this evening as I'm drinking a glass of iced tea while cooking dinner.

Alex: "Dad, why do you like tea so much, like Grandma and Papa?"

Dad: (carefully choosing my words, thinking he's going to make a connection with being old) "I don't know...I just like the taste of it."

Alex: (after a brief pause) "Is it because you're fat?"

Nothing like your kid to bring take you RIGHT down to reality...



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Monday, April 18, 2011

Stinkbugs are Comin'!

Jennifer Ray's father-in-law Sam VanCulin, from Rising Sun, Maryland, created a song about stinkbugs in Cecil County, Maryland. I don't think the problem is just a Cecil County problem, but over the last couple of years it's been worse there than any other place I've heard.






This song is officially in my head!

This post is simulcast in full living Technicolor on www.richardtocci.com and on Facebook.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Killing Yourself - and Your Kids

This week, yet another parent who had an unfortunate episode in her life decides hers is no longer worth living and decides to end it - and also decides to take her kids along with her.

The story broke yesterday and details have been trickling out since. One of this woman's children was able to escape, and the article goes into some detail about how his mother tried to undo her decision, but in the end, his mother, his sister, and his 2 brothers perished.

I've said this before, and I'll say it over and over again - you want to kill yourself, fine. Go ahead. Kill yourself. If you feel that little about your life that ending it is the only recourse you have, please, feel free. I won't stop you. It's your life, it's your choice.

Your children's lives, however, are not yours to end. You are their mother, and you gave them life. That does NOT give you the right to decide when their lives are to end. Who the hell are you to decide "If I die, then you die with me"? Since when were you given divine right to end your child's life? You were given that child to care for, to nurture, and to raise into a decent human being. If you are incapable of that job, and in the process feel that you need to end your life, I have a suggestion for you. It's very, very simple. Give your kids to their father, or if the father is as incapable as you are, to someone that will take care of them. Make sure they will be loved and nurtured. You don't have to make a big spectacle about it. Drop them off, say you have something to do, and leave. Say your goodbyes, and tell them you love them. Then go off and kill yourself.

Because it's very likely the kids won't need you anyway, and it's probably better for them in the long run.

I don't condone suicide, and I'd hate to see kids lose their parents. But if you're suicidal, don't take your kids with you.



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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hayden Shows His Love

Conversation with Hayden this evening after our walk home from the park.

Dad: "Hayden, can I tell you something?"

Hayden: "Yeah."

Dad: "I love you. Do you love me?"

Hayden: BUUUUUUURP! (Smiles and laughs)

Awesome!


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Friday, February 18, 2011

Not Very Funny

Conversation with Alex on the way home from WalMart tonight:

Alex: "Dad, did you know I'm afraid of ants?"

Dad: "Are you afraid of uncles, too?"

Alex (after a short pause): "That's not funny. That's not EVEN funny. Do you hear me laughing? No. That's because it was NOT funny. Not even a peep funny. I didn't even pee my pants."

I'm glad Alex is so honest with his opinions...


This post is simulcast in full living Technicolor on www.richardtocci.com and on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Follow up on The Patch, and Alex's Pants

It's been about a month since my surgery, and it's gone well. I have no pain in that area anymore, and the hernia is clearly patched. I feel no movement at all from other parts behind the abdominal wall. That itself is the biggest relief I have.

When I went to get the boys for my weekend, about 10 days after the surgery, Alex was crying and in timeout on the couch. I took the opportunity to show him the incision; it was still red and swollen, so I was sure it would make an impression. He looked at it with a mix of awe and horror, which is precisely what I was going for. Then, I laid the ground rules:

No jumping on me at any time
No head butting, punching, kicking, or otherwise attempting pain to my belly
Hugs from the side only
And most importantly, I was not picking him up for ANY reason AT ALL.

Consequences from violating these guidelines would be severe. He behaved the entire weekend and did not once violate the rules. I'm very proud of him for listening. Then again, it WAS a shock to see the incision, so I figure horror had something to do with it.

Fliss was concerned about my picking up Hayden when she saw me stand up from the couch, but Hayden can stand on his knees at a height that facilitated easier lifting, and I used my arms to lift him and not my legs or back. That's a lot harder than one might think. It's amazing how much our abdominal muscles actually work; thus the reason they are called The Core.

So now, a month later, I feel no pain; standing, sitting, and lifting are no longer issues; and it just feels much, much better overall. I'm glad I got this done sooner rather than later.

When I went in to get the surgery, the anesthesiologist came in to brief me on what he was going to do. I talked to him on the phone the night before when he went over what I could and could not eat or drink, and after what time. I noted a very pronounced Texan accent. Imagine my surprise when a short, Oriental man walked in with said accent. He announced "This is the castration, right?" I learned a long time ago that the best way to handle a heckler is to go along with his joke, so I replied "Ah, fuck it. I've had four kids. Do what you will." I thought the medical student who was present to view my surgery was going to laugh himself to the point of choking, and the nurses all laughed too. Once the drugs started, the last thing I remember was complimenting the drugs.

The next thing I remember is waking up. Within 20 minutes, I had my clothes on and I walked out. No wheelchair, no pain meds, nothing. I got my meds on the way home (Vidodin and a stool softener, because the LAST thing you need to do is push or strain, you see), but I only took the Vicodin one night. Other than that, I toughed through it. I'm just not big on pain meds if I can deal with pain. Also, I became very acquainted with oatmeal and Mexican food for a while.

Sitting down on the couch was a challenge. Getting up was even more of a challenge. I just took it easy when using the couch. Sitting in my work chair, I found myself sitting straight up in proper posture so that I wouldn't need to strain to stand from a relaxed or reclined position. Sleeping was bad for the first 4 days, but got better after that. As I said, it amazing to realize how much these muscles did for you all the time.

There are a couple of things I want everyone to know. First, Rachel Hughes drove me to my surgery, picked me up, and returned me home. Oh, and she works for the surgeon that performed the procedure, so I got in to see him quickly. I cannot thank her enough for helping me get this surgery done. Her husband and my best friend Jeff Hughes was also a great help, including making me laugh mere hours after surgery (you bastard! :) ), reminding me that payback is, indeed, a bitch.

Last but not least, women that give birth to children by C-Section - I have a greater respect for you than I ever did before. Giving birth is hard regardless, and I always had respect for women and child birth, but I can identify with the abdomen part more than natural birth, and I only had a one-inch incision. That put me in pain for 14 days easy. Fliss, I'm sorry for making you laugh an hour after giving birth to Hayden. I can assure you - I learned my lesson.

Next up - bionic knee and ankle!

*********

Conversation with Alex today after arriving home from the store:

Dad, looking at Alex running around the house in his boxers; of course, I asked the wrong question: "Alex, did you take off your pants?"

Alex, confused look on his face: "No."

Dad, confused as he sees no pants on at all, but rather plaid boxers: "Alex, you are in your underwear. Wear are your pants?"

Alex: "Dad, I didn't take off my pants."

Dad, frustrated: "You are standing right in front of me, and I see no pants on you. Wear are your jeans?"

Alex, wide eyed: "Oh, THOSE! I took those off and tossed them on the floor in my room!"

Apparently, pants and jeans are two different things. I'll have to remember that the next time I ask such an obviously stupid question.




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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Patchin' Me Up

Today I had a minor, outpatient surgical procedure to repair an umbilical hernia. Babies have this condition more times than anyone else, though pregnant women and overweight men (yeah, that would be me) can also have this condition. Hayden had this condition and it healed itself up by the time he was a year old.

An umbilical hernia is a hernia behind the belly button. You can read all about it here. Take a look at the pictures, too! Then you'll see why I decided to have it repaired. It could have gotten REALLY ugly!

Now that I've had the surgery, I am limited in what I can do. No heavy lifting for about 2 weeks, at least no more than 30 pounds. This is good, because that's about what Hayden weighs, so lifting him should be my limit. Hear that, Alex? No picking up your 55 pound butt for a while! I also can't do things like sit-ups -- like THAT was ever going to be an issue -- or other heavy exercises. I think the driving range is out of the question for a little while. Good thing I work from home.

Speaking of work, I'll be back to the grind tomorrow but will have a long weekend, due to Martin Luther King Jr Day. So far I have not needed the pain meds, and I hope to keep it that way.




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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Catching Up

First and foremost, I want to wish all of my friends, family, and colleagues a very Happy New Year, and I hope your holidays were merry and bright! I neglected to send out cards this year, but everyone was in my thoughts during the Christmas season.

Alas, another decade has past. We're into the second decade of the 21st century. Shouldn't we have time machines and clones by now?

Soon, Hayden turns 4 and is getting out of the toddler ages. He's still not quite walking though walking on his knees is getting better, and when he's assisted in standing up, he moves his legs and feet. The movements are still awkward but pronounced. He's not using a potty yet, but when I asked him if he'd like to try, he's been undecided. He nods yes, then no, so I don't even ask. I figure he'll tell me when he's ready. Talking has gotten better, with him trying to make words and sentences. He recently was fitted for AFOs, so his physical therapy can continue. Mentally he's exceeding for his condition and his age group. He can recognize all 26 uppercase letters; 18 of 26 lower case letters; numbers from 0 to 10; all of his basic colors; all of his basic shapes; many advanced shapes, such as diamond; shape, color, and size combinations; and he answers (or ignores, depending on his mood) his name when called. Alex had trouble with some of this at that age.

Alex is in the middle of first grade, doing better with reading and excelling at math. He's starting to calculate double digit addition, and is delving into multiplication. He's taken up golf and has a wicked swing, and at one point hit a 150yard drive; he averages about 50 yards but that's still pretty good. He was taking lessons in Houston, but with his likely move back to College Station, I'll have to find other instruction for him.

Chris has gone back to school, getting an apartment and likely to stay in Canyon till he graduates. So once again, my house is empty, save for the dogs and me.

Amanda is doing well, now having a permanent boyfriend that I'll likely be calling son-in-law before too long. She tturns 21 soon; that means I'll have to take her out for a drink very soon.

I've had an umbilical hernia for a couple of years, and it finally got to the point where pain was a problem. I have surgery scheduled for January 11th to repair it. Outpatient surgery, into the surgical center in the morning, out by the afternoon, and back to work the next day. I won't be allowed to lift anything heavy for about a month, but at some point Hayden will need to be picked up when he visits, so I'll just have to be careful.

I hope 2011 serves you all justly and prosperously!


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