About Me

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I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

At the Chiropractor

There are a few conversations that I have repeatedly. Not because I enjoy that specific conversation, but I find that this advice and (I'd like to think) information seem to be useful repeatedly. I thought I'd share (with permission) this exchange that I had with a friend...you never know who might find help...

....at the Chiropractor.

The Query:

Hey, your family is no stranger to injury….maybe you can help me. I’ve had a hell of a time with my lower back recently. My doctor says sciatica. My physical therapist says SI hypermobility (a hip issue). They are prescribing me narcotics and muscle relaxants which is definitely not a long term solution. I’m in PT but I want a second (third?) opinion. I’ve tried a bunch of doctors but this one only does in-patients, that one isn’t taking new patients and my PCP can’t recommend a specialist because nobody knows what’s actually wrong!!!! I’d go to a Chiropractor but I’m not convinced its back related. Any suggestions?

The Response:

Go to the damn Chiropractor.

Fun factoid: Chiropracty (my word) is NOT about treating a person’s back. It’s about treating a person’s ailments from a bio-mechanical perspective.

Think of this: if your ball joint is wearing on your car, you’re going to get worn-out tires, and perhaps (if the ball joint problem is left for too long) extra wear and tear on associated joints along the steering column. I’m talking a bit out of my element here, so grant me some lee-way. The point is that the issue with the ball joint can appear at other areas in the vehicle’s system. 

The chiropractor will seek to realign your entire skeletal system, not just the back. My chiropractor has said many times that when you address a problem with a joint, you need to also address the adjacent joints because those joints will have been compensating for the one that’s out of whack. 

Thus, if you have a problem with your knee, you’d need to mechanically treat your ankle and hip too.

Traditional (western) doctors do not ascribe to chiropracty as a legitimate medical discipline. Very Allen Harper.

When I started to go to the chiropractor, I had an issue with my ankle that was outstanding for months. I had twisted my ankle twice on a singe October day, and this was January. It was still inflamed and weak and what, and it looked like a broken bone. I had to go to a few specialists before one guy said that it’s not broken, but that I have a bone chip in my ankle.

The specialist told me that all I needed was PT. He said to go to the chiropractor if I had problems with my back, but for this, PT would do the trick. He wrote a script. I threw out the script and went back to the chiropractor. He realigned my ankle in <5 minutes and I was all better (as good as it was going to get, having been dislocated for three months), only needing a little time for inflammation to go away.

Drs. will never (or exceedingly rarely) tell you to go to the chiropractor. In my experience the chiropractor can fix a TON of things that Drs think can be fixed only with a scalpel or PT. My chiropractor also fixed my tendinitis (golfer's elbow, specifically), in about ½ of a minute. I haven't had any issues with that in several years at this point.

Here’s a quote for you:

“If the only tool that you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
~ Abraham Maslow

Drs. have two tools: scalpels and drugs. Ok three tools, including PT. These are the only ways that they know how to fix problems.

Chiropractors treat, in a whole-body fashion, the muscular-skeletal person, from the scalp down to the tiniest toes. It may not be a one-visit cure (since your body is so used to being out of tune), but a good chiropractor will be able to cure your sciatica permanently, given that you don’t have any underlying skeletal issues (I, for instance, have a condition in which my lowest vertebra is not fused properly, so I’ve got to keep on top of it or my sciatica will return).

The chiropractor will be able to tell you what’s wrong, and he’ll fix it too.

Qualifier: there's little that a chiropractor can do about hypermobility; they can adjust the joint, but as it it a hyper-mobile joint, it'll just slide back out of place in short order. But you'll have more information, at the very least.

Go to the chiropractor.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Business Travel...again

I thought I'd write a brief note about what I thought was an extremely nice experience during my business trip last week. I was flying by way of Dallas on to Shreveport Louisiana for some training. Louisiana in July would not have been my pick, but that's where the training was. Ugh.

I also don't like to fly...gives me super-bad headaches. Plus, if something goes wrong, you can't really duck, and there's rarely an accident that is no worse than a fender bender. When something goes wrong, it has a great chance of going *very* wrong. As a safety engineer, I tend to look a the complexity of an air craft and dwell on all of the things that can go wrong, and what effect those wrong things might have. It's in my training. It's what keeps me off of roller coasters. Well, that, and roller coasters make my insides churn.

In any event, on this particular trip I remembered everything except the Advil. By the third hour of the trip to Dallas, I had an awful headache. I asked the flight crew if they had any Advil or Tylenol, but alas, they did not. They offered me soda, but that stuff turns your bones into talc, so I declined.

Coffee? Nope. Sorry. She *just* dumped it.

Dang. As it was only a half hour 'till touch-down, I declined their repeated offers to brew a new pot for me. Seemed like a waste of coffee, and I'd be able to get meds on the ground in somewhat short order. I went back to my chair and tried to relax.

In no time at all, one of the kind ladies of the flight crew showed up with a cup of coffee for me. How nice! She mentioned that even if I get a little, the caffeine may help a bit.

I was really surprised that the crew would be so nice to little old me! But wait! There's more!

The lovely woman sitting next to me, understanding that I apparently had a headache, offered me some Advil (or Tylenol). How nice! This is what made her a lovely woman, and not just the lady sitting next to me. These two women helped to restore my faith in humanity!

But there was one more kind person nearby too, because the flight attendant showed up a moment later with Tylenol that another passenger offered up for an ugly fellow passenger in pain. Apparently hearing of someone with a headache, anther passenger volunteered to help out!

I really thought that was nice, and it made that particular flight a pleasant memory in spite of wishing that I could remove my forehead and stick it in my carry-on.

Usually, the few times that I've flown, all I've ever gotten is "no, we don't have that...go sit down and hum".

This was the first time that I've ever flown American Airlines, and I was very pleased. The crew certainly went out of their way to help me out, and did it with a smile. Four smiles, actually, because that's how many women were there when I originally asked, and I'm sure that they had a conversation about making the coffee for me even after I declined.

I have another trip likely to come up in November. I'm hoping to: 1) remember to take Advil, and b) fly American Airlines!

Louisiana was ok, but very hot in July!

Poor Grammar Might Cost You That Job

I stumbled upon an interesting blog article on grammar today.

I've been trying to not harp too much on the abysmal use of grammar that I see (and that drives me...and therefore my lovely wife...nuts) as I go through what passes for my life, 'cause I know, from the few comments and posts that I've read on all your sites (and mine, a bit), I'm only preaching to choir, and I'm a pretty unfit preacher to say the least.

BUT, this one is a little different, and worth a read: This fellow refuses to hire candidates that exhibit poor grammar.

And I must say: GOOD MOVE!

He also makes reference to a book that I very much enjoyed the first three-quarters of: Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. The author got a bit too preachy for my tastes towards the end of the book. That book is here, at Amazon, should you care to pursue it.

In any event, I thought that the article would be entertaining for folks to read. I'm actually going to pass it along to my college kid...it might inspire him to pay a little more attention to details.

Have a nice day!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vanity is a Costly Affair

Camping two weekends in a row! It's a nice, comfortable, economical way to get away from the house and its never-ending burden of chores and tasks that come along with being home.

Now to be fair, I don't necessarily consider what we do "camping". We have a 26-foot trailer (Jayco 26P) that we drag around to live in while we're trying to enjoy the outside and a little time with card or board games. It's a bit like dragging a small house with you everywhere you go; we've got a king sized bed, bunk beds, refrigerator, microwave, stove, bathroom (complete with a shower). We're not "roughing it" by any means. We very comfortably slept 8 folks this weekend.

But I'm not here today to talk about my "camping". I'd like to tie up a thought relative to my bald rant, and that is how we as a people spend a fairly large fortune on trying to be something that we're not. I'm talking primarily about cosmetics, whether it's hair coloring, eye shadow, foundation, perfume, blush, mascara...whatever.

As a society, as I'm sure we can all agree, the media are pounding us consumers with messages and images of what we should look like, and what we should find attractive.

You can't look good without:
Big, thick eyelashes;
Big, thick, irrationally red lips;
Hair that is a different color than whatever color you currently have (doesn't matter what color you've got, a different one is better);
Being taller;
Appearing younger...like no later than your early 30's;
Whiter teeth...

The list goes on, but essentially, they cite so many things that make absolutely no tangible difference and reveal what a shallow society we are.

The quote that runs constantly through my mind, tying this together for me is:

"They say it's mostly vanity that writes the plays we act; they tell me that's what everybody knows.
There's no such thing as sanity, and that's the sanest fact; that's the way the story goes."
~ Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)

I am, naturally, very happy that we pretty much all use deodorant and soap, and I'm more than happy to admit that certain people look better with a little makeup (recognizing, at the same time, that "better" is a subjective term). But I also think that NO ONE looks good with a ton of makeup on.

There is definitely such a thing as too much. And I also think that the world would be a better place without folks bleaching their hair. You want to dye out the grays? Sure...go ahead, if it makes you more comfortable.

And although it's only tangential, heels that are more than a couple of inches high are nothing other than stupid. 6-inch (and higher, I've seen) platform shoes are among the most idiotic things on the planet, in my opinion.

Given my choice of super made-up stunningly beautiful woman and minimally made up pretty woman (all other things being equal), I'd take minimally made up every time. To me, that speaks of a real confidence and honesty, both of which are traits to be admired.

Keep it real!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hair = Confidence???

So I keep running into things - commercials, personal experiences, readings, news items...etc - that have me asking what the hell people are thinking.

I'm sure that everyone has this reaction once in a while; it might also be known as 'Why would you do that?'

The TV tells me that if you're a man, you need to have hair, and that hair needs to have no gray in it. What the hell are they thinking? The fact that there are a seemingly rapidly growing number of kits, solutions, comb-ins, and technologies suggests to me that there's a large and growing market for this 'fix'.

Men all around at least the USA seem to be under the impression that they are NOT men unless that are both NOT bald and NOT gray. What the hell are they thinking?

I know, I'm educated and successful, I get along with most everyone I meet and I enjoy doing a wide variety of things. But, dammit, I've got these gray hairs! How on earth am I supposed to attract a woman with these gray hairs? I'll never get ahead in business either! How can I possibly win at Parcheesi with these thrice-damned gray hairs?? I can't do *any*thing because I've got Grays! Boo-hoo-hooo...I've gotta DO something about this atrocity!

At least I'm not BALD...I'm not THAT GUY. I can dye my hair, but him? That cue-ball's got problems.

What the hell are they thinking? Am I off base?  Personally, I like my grays...I earned them!

Being that you folkses are largely readers of the feminine persuasion, you tell me: does it really matter that much that I've got gray hairs? Or that I'm bald?

I can't figure out why my confidence as a man and as a person should be emaciated by the fact that my hair is no longer what it was when I was a kid...any thoughts?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Technical Troubles

I always have excuses. This is one of those things that's kind of a family legacy for me: coming up with excuses for why something didn't get done, or hasn't gotten done, or why I'm not doing it now. My kids have it too. It's a gift, and a curse.

In the case that I'm thinking of now is that I've gotten a new laptop as a gift to myself, and have been dicking with it for over two weeks, as it stubbornly refused to remain connected to my wireless network for longer than an hour at a time. Thus, I've been neglecting my corner of insanity. Sorry.

I had engaged my brother - the multi-talented Grumpy IT Guy - take a look at it, and he did indeed get the device up on my wireless network without having to reboot the wireless router (this hadn't happened before this!). I fed him steak and such, and I was happy until he went home and my laptop disconnected from the router, and would not reconnect.

Next day, he walked me through a bunch of diagnostics and OS delving, but I ran out of time before he could resolve it...he was going to do some research anyway.

Of important note is the fact that trials and tribulations that I face are NEVER normal. I've been going through a ton of IT troubles lately, both at home and at work (you may recall that I'm newly arrived at a new job). I can't count the number of times in the last month that an IT support person has said to me, "...that's really strange...I've never seen that before." Or, "Huh...that's always worked before, let me get back to you."

You know when people say it's not you? It's always me. :)

At work, our primary help desk is populated by folks from India. They are very capable people, but I can't hear them worth a damn. They speak very softly (or the phone line is muted between India and the USA).

"I can't hear you, can you speak more loudly please?"

"Is this better?"

My thoughts: This is the third time that I've asked, it's no better...remember to not answer the phone when this number pops up."
My words: "Yeah." Strain to hear from this moment out...my phone's volume is at max.

As much as my brother (and all IT professionals, as far as I can tell) will tell you how frustrating it is to work with stupid clients, I'd like to put on the table that there are two sides to that argument.

My new laptop is a Dell. I'm a 20 year Windows guy, and I've had lots of different laptop manufacturers and keep coming back to Dell. I did get a call from an agent of Dell to ask how things were going with my new purchase. I thought this was super cool, though I had to tell him 'not so well'. He 'ported me over to technical assistance immediately, where I landed on an idiot of an IT professional who really pissed me off.

The essence of my irritation with this dolt was the half hour that I spent telling him over and over that I could not connect my new laptop to the wireless network.

Of course, I had already explained my symptom three times before getting to this guy, and then once more to him: I can't connect my laptop to the wireless network.

His first comment:
"Ok, we can fix this for you, I just need to take remote control of your computer.

My thoughts:
"What the hell's the matter with you? I *just* told you that my problem is that I can't connect to the router!"
My words:
"But I can't connect to the router, I have no internet access."

His second comment:
"Oh, yeah, just go ahead and connect to your network."

My thoughts:
"Oh, my frickin' word! You're either not listening, stupid, or both!"
My words:
"I can't do that. That's my whole problem."

His third comment:
"Right, right...sorry. Just connect up and we'll fix this for you right away."

My thoughts:
Censored due to possible impressionable people reading this.
My words:
"Are you even listening? Do you somehow NOT understand that I can't connect to the internet? Have you NOT seen or heard that my whole problem here is that I CAN'T connect to the internet??

His next comments:
Who the hell knows, other than "I have to be able to take remote control of your computer..." blah, blah, blah...at this point I wasn't listening to him any closer than he was listening to me.

We agreed that he'd call me back the next night, when I could connect to the router via hard cable...the old fashioned way.

Hang the hell up.

As much as IT professionals complain about the stupidity of their clients, I have to say that in the last month I've run into more than one questionable IT professional. The guy I describe above takes the cake for these folks.

The night after the above happened I scrounged up an ethernet cable and connected the laptop to the router the old fashioned way, but the SOB didn't call back (which was really a bit of a relief).

I called in, and got connected to a lovely lady (Cheryl, I think) in Dell's Wireless Network support group. I say she's lovely for a few reasons: 1) I could hear her; b) I could understand her clearly; iii) she fixed my problem (in less than a half of an hour)!!

I kind of regret not giving the brother the opportunity to complete this little project, but he got bombarded by idiots at work, and I had gotten the call from Dell anyway. My eldest son has a similar Dell laptop with a similar problem...we fixed that too.

Gadzooks, eh??