Friday, May 06, 2011

His Heart

It is seven in the morning when Mom calls.

"I'm taking your Dad to the ER. He's having chest pains."

Not how I like to wake.

By eight, no update. Dad was still hurting somewhere. I needed to know more. So I hit the road.

I know now, but I didn't know then, Dad was writhing in pain. It had slowly gotten worse. Aspirin didn't work. (Does it ever?) Nitroglycerin didn't work. And it took three shots of morphine (12mg) before he stopped hurting. The rolled him into the CT lab. And didn't see anything notable.

I arrived after the fireworks. He was done with the first battery of tests. The pain had subsided. He was mostly sleeping. And Mom was calm. So I spent the next couple of hours smiling and nodding as he'd blink briefly awake. Gave Mom a break to get some supplies from home. And tried to keep up with the flow of woe from work. Fortunately for all of us, he didn't hurt after that first test.

Eventually the doctor arrived. He said Dad's tests were good. It was not his heart. No cardiac issues. Not a pancreatic issue. And it was not an obvious gal bladder issue. But (here's the "but!") a CT scan would not pick up gal stones. Only an ultrasound would detect stones. So... It was very possible that Dad had something rumbling around his gal bladder which caused spasms. And intense radiating pain.

By eleven in the morning, I left  for work. At 1PM, Dad had a repeat battery of tests. They were negative as well. And by 3PM, he was on his way home.

They plan to check for gal stones. But I'll sleep better knowing it was NOT his heart.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Meg's Game

Cinco De Mayo. Wanted a pitcher of nummy margaritas. And some       decedent Mexican dishes. But it was not meant to be. Thursday means another episode of Meg's Game: girl's softball! Her and the other Starz took the field at 7:15P. Better weather tonight. No rain. Everyone in good spirits. Meg had a couple of good plays. But no hits. Cousin Alex had a couple of hits. Second one results in a her reaching second base. Meg seems to think the Starz won by two points. Not so sure about that, myself.  But they all had fun.

Meanwhile, Liam entertained Cousin Tolar. With an iPod. They sat together. Sharing the headphones. Playing odd little games. And listening to modern pop music. Liam swears that Tolar knew some of the song. Not so sure about that, myself. But they had fun, too.

Oh well. Another lost holiday. There will be other times to drink. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Rising Tides

Nature isn't playing nice right now. My days at work consumed with planning the closure of our sister casino up north. A pending flood. The Old Man. Big Muddy. The Mighty Mississippi River. Rapidly approaching a historic crescendo.

Forty four feet this morning. At forty seven the river will be inside the casino. Expected high? Forty eight feet within the next six days. Highest recorded level? Forty eight point seven feet. We'll be within inches of a new record.

The engineers are building layers of defensive rings around the entire property. Massive, car-sized sandbags providing some initial hope. Water-filled, plastic barriers providing more. In the meanwhile, we geeks move mailboxes from one site to another. Copy flattened databases. Power down the non-essential stuff now. Prepare to offline the critical systems tomorrow.

My cohorts up there shaking like scared kitten. None of them have ever shut down a property. Easier than they think. Much. Turning out the lights is the fun part. Bringing everything back to life could prove challenging.

But we'll cross that bridge when we get there. But first we have to go dark. And flee the rising tides.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A Yearly Occurrence

I've known Mike for a couple of years. We play Left4Dead. Online. Along with  several other gents. I've only known them as digital friends and foes. All strewn across the Internet.

Met Mike tonight. Live. Southern Gaming Summit. Out on the pool deck. Everyone crowded under a couple of tents. Temperature had dropped to the low sixties. Rain clouds teased us with a light, but constant drizzle. Free drinks and munchies from the vendors. Mike had some dark ales. I was double fisting. Woodchuck and Sky Vodka. The waiters and their trays of food rarely found us. So we stuck with booze and talks of computers and game theory and the thrills of being 40yr old, married dudes, with two kids and older wives. He does karate to keep the anger at bay. I've got the gym. We all find our own tricks to stay sane.

Ended up with some other geeks and casino folks. Sampling tiny, delicious plates of tapas outside Carnaval De Brasil. Modern politics. The sharp curves of technology. Growth along the Gulf Coast. Plans. Disappointments. And the ever-optimistic future.

Parting ways near eleven. Cold, rainy ride home. Could get used to such outings. But. I'm sure it will only be a yearly occurrence. And my distractions will drift back to online endeavors. Familiar friends and foes. All strewn across the Internet.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Justice Has Been Done

Last night, as I creep into bed to read and eventually fall asleep, Cindy says: "Osama Bin Laden is dead." 

"That has been rumored for a while, baby. Bad liver transplant. Buried in Pakistan. Or Yemen somewhere..."

"No," she says. "Obama was just on TV. He made the announcement."

And there it was. "Usama Bin Laden is dead," on Fox News. (Fox uses "Usama," now, so they're less likely to make a certain verbal faux pas.) The streets of New York and D.C. fill with kids singing "God Bless America." Geraldo stalking in front of the White House, Hi-Fiving weepy strangers, and hugging wide-eyed soldiers. Everyone and their mother just as proud as a peacock that finally, FINALLY, Osama Bin Laden is dead. 

And today. Lo and behold. Suddenly the rest of our woes are gone, too! Cheap, limitless, sweet sweet oil flows freely again. The unemployed masses found high-paying jobs with excellent insurance and a golden pension. Bailout-fattened banks forgave millions of ponziesque foreclosures. Our crumbling infrastructure fixed itself, for free! And that whole fourteen trillion dollar debt issue got swept under the rug for another generation or three.

Well. Not really. I made up all that other stuff. But, hey... Justice has been done!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Robinwood Lake Revisited

Six or seven months ago, my first "open water" swim was at Robinwood Lake. I had trained exclusive in the pool since day one. Gone from barely completing a couple of laps to tearing through 1800 meters (36 laps.) And then, to my great surprise, I nearly drowned at Robinwood Lake. The lessons of that day still haunt me: Desperation. Panic. Disappointment.

I had to regroup mentally. Then spent the next six months challenging myself all over again. Always plotting my return to the spot of that first defeat.

So today, I revisited Robinwood Lake. A bit warmer. Far fewer folks. Personally more prepared. Calmer. And with each crossing of the lake, I picked up more confidence. The first time I fought with myself and the water. Struggled to find my form. Couldn't relax. The return trip was easier. But still tense. Did not accept my inability to swim straight without looking up. So I worked twice as hard, out of anger.

One trip across and back was about 500 meters. Nearly the distance of most triathlons. I wanted to quit at that point. Claim victory. But I thought about my mistakes. Told myself I should have relaxed more. Should have focused on my breathing. Slowed down. Found the right pattern. And maybe I'd do it next time. Get better each week. Then something happened: I decided to stop planning and start doing. I decided to swim more.

And the second trip was great. Not perfect, but much better for me. I stopped fighting. I slowed down. Found the pattern: one.. two.. three.. four.. breathe! Took my time to spot my destination between breaths. And just kicked at times to keep my composure.

It was good to return to Robinwood Lake. Two laps today. Plan on training to the point of doing five. That'll be a mile of open water swimming. A noble goal for a full time computer dork like me. And I can make it happen.