October 31, 2009

The Fox News Obama War gets 'serious' time on Jon Stewart

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Being in (and teaching about) the news business, it's hard to watch what passes for journalism these days on television.

Now that I think about it, since Walter Cronkite left CBS, I have generally thought that television journalist is an oxymoron.

A few minutes of watching the wing nuts on Fox News - or the incredible smugness of MSNBC folks - usually results in a quick click of the TV remote.

As in click off.

But The Daily Show just did a hilarious rant on Fox News and it's declared 'war' with the Obama administration that is worth taking a look at.

It's eleven minutes long, but gawd, it is funny in spots.

For Fox Sake!
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October 15, 2009

The score at the end of three hours - Captain 1, Water Heater 0

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The ankle-deep water in the garage was the first clue. The second clue was no hot water for a hot shower this morning. The third clue was the delivery of the bad news directly from Admiral Fox, who had surveyed the scene.

"Hey Michael. Guess what? The water heater blew out."

Guess what, indeed.

My first instinct - and phone call - went to Chief Engineer Scott Noble, who fixed things on our 48-foot sloop Sabbatical for a several seasons and has mechanical and fix-up abilities far beyond those of mortal men. But as luck would have it (his mostly), his carpet cleaning service had just picked up jobs enough to keep him busy until sometime Saturday.

  • LINK: Click here to Call Scotty for Help!!!!!!!!!

  • The Admiral and I did the math and decided that showers couldn't wait that long.

    Old hot water heater carcass
    Carcass of the old water heater

    On Sabbatical, problems like this seemed to happen damn near every time we went for a cruise of longer than a few days. That's the nature of sailboat cruising and I was used to be called into service at a moment's emergency notice - and usually not when I felt like doing the work.

    So I attacked the problem the same way I did on the boat: I ripped out the old water heater (Hand me that hacksaw, please) and installed in a new one. Time to completion: 3.5 hours.

    That said, there are two boat/home improvement projects I really dislike: painting and plumbing. And I am not sure which I dislike the most. Depends on which I need to do at that moment, I suppose.

    New hot water heater - ready to install
    New water heater ready to hook up

    The project wasn't all that expensive either - about $400 for everything (Calif. tax included). But, of course, it took two trips to Home Depot before the project was over. One trip was to get the tank, the second to get all the things I forgot (like Teflon tape for the pipe connections).

    Santo Crappo!

    As I write this, the new hot water heater is warming fast and seems to be operating just as advertising by the fine folks at Home Depot.

    But tomorrow I have to finish one final piece of the job so the project is really complete - reinstalling the earthquake straps on the new tank.

    We'll cross our fingers that the state doesn't shake rattle and roll tonight. I do not want to have to install another hot water heater tomorrow.

    OK, and I would not welcome an earthquake regardless.

    Who knows? It might require me to start doing some painting, too.

    Tangle of earthquake strapping for the hot water tank
    A tangle of safety straps

    October 9, 2009

    Getting some skin cancers carved out of the body

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Today was C Day, (not D Day), the day that I went in for some outpatient surgery to remove three tiny spots of skin cancer that my dermatologist spotted 10 days ago during my annual skin checkup.

    Why C day? C for carving, of course.

    During that annual skin checkup, Dr. Silva and I chatted (as always) about what the Admiral and I are doing with our properties in Mexico, how much fun we have there and ultimately how much sun we are exposed to for about 8 months out of the year.

    "Couldn't you have picked a place like, um, Finland to retire to," she asked, blasting me with beyond-ice-cold liquid nitrogen to burn off some pre-cancers.

    That stuff hurts, by the way, and leaves blisters wherever it is applied.

    Dr. Susan Silva
    Dr. Susan Silva

    The Finland joke didn't seem so funny a few days later when the results of three biopsies came back showing that I did have one semi-serious type of cancer on my chest and two other spots on my back that needed more than just a little touch of super cold nitrogen.

    On my chest was a tiny spot of what the laboratory said was some squamous skin cancer that needed to be carved out, because it was likely moving it's way down through the various layers of the epidermis and spreading, not just hanging out on top.

    Just the name squamous sounded kind of ominous to me.

  • What the Mayo Clinic says about squamous cells

  • Carved, of course, is a gross exaggeration. Dr. Silva used a scalpel to skillfully cut out a small chunk of skin, though it took about 20 minutes, including the stitching me up. (Small stitches, please.) And the spots on my backed were scrapped off using a curette.

    Thank God for Lidocaine, several shots of which were injected in my chest and on my back and I quite literally didn't feel a thing.

    Going in for surgery
    Heading in for the surgery

    With C Day behind me, the Admiral and I are starting to focus on our mid-December escape from Sacramento to return to Arroyo Seco and La Manzanilla.

    I already have my order figured out for the first night we head to Palapa Joes in La Manzanilla.

    And yes, it includes a Cuba Libre.

    Maybe several to toast the death of the squamous cells.

    Dr. Silva and company
    The doctors at the Laser Skin Center in Sacramento