The saga of my recent knee replacement continues.  I have made a radical decision with which I am sure my doctor and physical therapist will totally disagree.  I am cancelling the remainder of my visits to the outside therapist and will oversee my rehab program at home by myself.  Why?  Well, first and foremost, I am really really really tired of pain.  It wears one down.

I was supposed to have my second knee replacement on my left leg within the year of my first knee replacement on the right leg.  But recovery from the first surgery went so poorly, I managed to put off having the second knee done until I could no longer put up with it. That lasted seven years.

Because of new technology and the added feature of a nerve block, I came away from my second surgery incredibly impressed.  The pain was quite tolerable and I was told one week later that my bending abilities were a good two weeks ahead of schedule.  I was pleased and encouraged as I continued doing the basic slow and steady exercises at home.  Life was good.  It didn’t take long to turn bad.

I started outside physical therapy last week.  The initial visit was short and I did a minimal routine consisting of mostly passive machine treatments.  That night and the next day, my pain level rose a bit, but not enough to push my response button.  Then last Friday I had a full program of weight-related exercises and I admit I took the challenge with a no paid/no gain attitude and pushed through as best I could.  By Friday night I was in agony.  Saturday I could just about walk and Sunday was not much better.  I was popping pain pills and swirling my cane at anything or anyone threatening to touch me.  I looked like Dr. House.

I then remembered this is what happened with the first knee.  Each visit to the therapist brought on more than a basic pain reaction to the workout, but more so I suffered horrendous levels of pain and sharp shooting daggers that were simply an experience to behold.  Well, ain’t going to be doing any beholding this time.  I will take over the therapy, keep it low key but steady enough that I challenge myself to acheive recovery and return my knee to as near normal function as possible…without all the unbearable pain.

The downside of this decision is self-doubt and second-guessing. I wonder if I am being too much of a wuss, that I have turned sissy to what most people have no trouble doing.  Or, does my body simply over-react to therapy.  I’ve had fillings put in my teeth and caps over them using no Novocain–I have that much of a tolerance level for pain.  So I don’t think wimping out is my nature.  Something simply goes amiss with this knee rehab stuff.  Given the outlandish amount of pain I endured this past weekend, I know one thing for sure:  my decision to do the rehab myself, at my own slow pace and in my own little room is certainly not…wait for it…a knee-jerk reaction.


On an entirely different note, my good ice cream buddy, Ron Carmean, has presented an insightful perspective on the late and great Chuck Berry that features a collection of quotes from his musical peers.  If you are a Berry fan, you should catch Ron’s Omnibus blog this week. There’s a link here–just look for the Omnibus graphic across on the right-hand side and click on it.

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I am in media overload. This is the result of two things: first, I just had knee surgery so my ability to get up and move about the galaxy is limited to short distances and brief tasks. This is so unlike me.  Usually my hyperbolic DNA has me zooming around from planet to planet.  Next, the past few days have been the most incredibly active news days given all the breaking news coming out of Washington especially, and the rest of the world generally.

Newswise, just look at all the events of the past week: the White House/Capitol Hill debate on healthcare; the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign and its possible ties to Russia; Intel Chairman Devin Nunes snubs his committee and has a unprecedented self-invited visit to the White House; the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch who displays no capacity to answer questions as mundane as “do you drink water?”; the terrorist assault outside the British Parliament in London; another missile attempt by that crazy kid in North Korea; the Keystone Pipeline go-ahead; proposed budget cuts that will push the delete key on Meals on Wheels. Wow, what a week.

So I have sat, lain, sprawled, fidgeted and assumed a variety of other positions in my bed and in the chair next to it while my eyes have been transfixed on the 18” flatscreen on the table across from me. With my trusty remote controller permanently embedded in my hand, I surf from news channel to news channel absorbing all the conversations, declarations and manifestations propelled onto the screen, one right after the other. My intellect is challenged continuously by news commentators, newsmakers, news anchors, guest experts and media exploiters. It’s a hell of an assortment of talkers, screamers and debaters. Oh, I forgot to mention all the news “cuts”—those “actualities” of persons on the street, eyewitness testimonials, retired generals’ sage advice and academicians’ pontifications.  Everyone has something to say.

Yep, all that stuff suckered me in, absorbing my focus and soaking my brain cells with more data than they can possibly sort through and make any sense of.  There is so  much goop oozing out of the TV that I will even credit all this media mayhem with actually taking my mind off my aching leg for a few minutes here and there.

With the addition of so many cable news channels, one thing is certain: there is a vast variety and diversity of opinion available to anyone who chooses to tune in. Trouble is, it is often difficult to decide who is telling the truth, who is truly knowledgeable and who makes the best case. It was so much easier years ago when the news media remained objective and you had to wait for specially segregated and labeled sections of “commentary” before opinion was injected into the mix. Nowadays, it’s a free-for-all and the viewer is left pondering how to differentiate from what is objective vs subjective. It is, at times, a puzzlement.

Eventually, it occurred to me that if I didn’t ease up a bit, in addition to my knee replacement, I will need a head replacement. So I decided to leave the TV off. Well, maybe not for the entire day, but for chunks of time.  I have to pace myself if I am to keep up with the rest of the world. Oh, that reminds me…I neglected to mention one other vitally important item in this past week’s chain of events.   My local supermarket, Publix, had Ben & Jerry’s on sale—buy one/get one. Now I ask you, is it no surprise that I have finally come to terms as to what is really important and what isn’t?


Posted in communication, history, politics, whimsy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW…then again, maybe not.


I am not sure how many of you check this blog frequently but I suspect there must be some of you who do. That being the case, I thought I would update you on several items I’ve posted the past few weeks. As they say, here’s broken news.

MEDICAL UPDATE – First and foremost, did I qualify for the new electronic implant that reportedly puts an end to the long, wakeful hours of obstructive sleep apnea? That answer would be “YES!”   I go to a seminar next week to be briefed by the doctors and the manufacturer. If you are interested in this new technology, the web address is: . I am slated for surgery on May 5th. After that, I have to wait for a full month before the unit is activated. The wait is to ensure my body doesn’t reject the gadget. After it is turned on there is an adjustment period during which settings are customized to my body’s needs. Then after that, sometime in June, I hope you will see a posting on this blog with a headline that reads something like, “Holy Crap! I Slept 8 Hours Straight!”

Next, my second knee replacement…maybe not such a good topic to discuss today. The first week went incredibly well. The horrors of my first knee replacement were totally absent. Unfortunately, they did not stay that way. Last Sunday there was a noticeable increase in pain and then—uh oh—the bruising began. It started at the top of my leg and proceeded down my inner thigh and eventually pooled all around the base of my ankle. Not a pretty site, but worse, a painful one. Bad memories of tender, painful-to-even-touch skin roared alive as did the swelling of my foot. All the flexibility and weight-bearing capacity I had the week before disappeared. What a bummer. I wound up back at the hospital for an ultra scan to make sure no blood clots had formed. None had. Last time this painful stage went on forever and it is the main reason why I procrastinated over seven years before having this second surgery. Two words linger and no one has a response to them…How Long?  I have a visit to the doctor’s office tomorrow to have the staples removed.

REINCARNATION UPATE: As previously announced, I am researching the topic of reincarnation as a potential basis for the story of my next book. Again, you could be a big help if you shared any of your thoughts about this topic. One area I would like to hear more about is this: reincarnation is an acknowledged role in several religions around the world, most of them residing in Asia. My question is:

When you think about reincarnation (whether you believe in it or nor), do you do so in religious terms, or merely as a scientific or physiological concept?

If you have an opinion, I’d love to hear it. Deposit said thoughts by clicking on “leave a comment” below.

SPRING UPDATE:  Spring begins with the beginning of this week. I like when things line up that way. Of course, I am a Taurus. May winter quickly go into hibernation once more and the new spring bring you warmth, comfort and maybe even some tulips on your windowsill.


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Despite all the physical things going on in my life right now, my mind is busy working on other “stuff.”  I have written seven books since retiring, averaging about one per year.  That pace came to a screeching halt this past 12 months.  I simply ran out of gas—there were no ideas that motivated me to rev up the keyboard and start pecking away.  But now, finally, the seedling of an idea has “come to me” and I have been bouncing it around in my brain in an attempt to grow a good story out of it.

I have found that story ideas can come at any time and from any source.  The Pope’s Stone, my first book, was based on the quick mention of an incident that took place during the first stage of construction of the Washington Monument.  It was buried in some article I was reading in a magazine.  The concept behind my next novel, Dead Letter, came from a brief segment of one of those obscure cable channel shows, this one featuring a back-office tour of the Smithsonian.

So what’s the latest item that’s caught my attention?  It’s something that fell into my lap after scrolling around  I have already posted it twice here on my blog:


The guy on the left is my 3rd cousin a gazillion times removed.  His name is Isaac.  To his right is me at about the same age.  Isaac died in 1955.  He was in his 70’s; I was ten.  We never met.  He lived in Australia.  I live in the USA.  The uncanny similarities in our appearance, down to the bowtie, has me intrigued.  Are we doubles?  Is this a demonstration of DNA coincidentally falling into the same pattern?  All I have is this picture.  Are there other similarities about the two of us?  Do we share personality traits?  Are our voices identical?  Did he have the same physicality as I have?  Could I be his reincarnation?

It’s that last question that has me most wondering….and if reincarnation does happen, what kind of story could evolve out of this relationship?  That’s the seedling I have chosen to grow.  Hopefully, by this time next year it will have taken root, spread its leaves and become my fourth novel.  No, it’s not that easy of a process, but the fun has begun.

I am curious about reincarnation and I have begun researching the topic.  I don’t know whether or not I believe in it, but it certainly is an interesting concept.  I’d like to do an informal survey.  If you think reincarnation is a possibility, leave me like or a comment if you have more to say.  In the meantime, I’ll go throw some Miracle Grow on my seedling.


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sleepless2Today has been a benchmark day and appropriately so, given the fact that it is the birthday of my late brother.  I will figure that he somehow played a role if none other than to simply cast some good luck my way.

I have had what is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea for about 40 years now.  Many, many people have this ailment that deprives its victims from ever having a good night’s sleep.  The basics of sleep apnea go like this.  I fall asleep.  As my body relaxes many muscles go limp.  My tongue also relaxes, so much so that it drops down and closes off my airway.  In due time, my brain realizes it is starving for oxygen so it sounds the alarm and wakes me up, usually gasping for air.  I begin to breathe again, eventually falling asleep again which cues the entire process to recycle.  I never have trouble falling asleep, just staying asleep is the issue.

Man with sleep apnea using a CPAP machine in bed.The common “cure” for OSA is a mechanism that straps to your face and provides a constant stream of forced air to blow through your nostrils and down through your air passage maintaining constant flow of oxygen to the lungs.  This apparatus is call a “C-Pap.” The man in the picture is using one.  For many people, it’s a blessing because they are finally able to sleep through the night like a normal person.  For many others, it is a disruptive, uncomfortable, intrusive piece of equipment that makes it totally impossible to sleep.  I am among the latter.

My problem has grown to the extent that I am so sleep-deprived that I “crash” constantly throughout the day.  I can fall asleep in the middle of having a conversation with someone.  I can fall asleep while driving so I have grounded myself and my wife drives us everywhere.  I have even fallen asleep while riding my bike.  Fortunately, I crashed into some bushes instead of the small pond had I drifted in another direction. This is all almost comical if it weren’t for the fact that my level of OSA has reached the stage that there is a potential “flipping point” whereby my brain will not react in time to awaken me so I will breahe.  Instead, I could lasps imto unconsiousness and not be awakened.  If there ever is a time for me to say bedtime prayers now would be it.

Now available and approved by the FDA, is an electronic gadget that is installed in the body somewhat akin to a pacemaker.  The main component is placed just under the skin of the upper breast, near the armpit.  Leads then go up through the neck and attached to the base of the tongue.  Another lead is attached to the lungs.  When the latter detects movement of the lungs has stopped, a very low voltage pulse is sent to the tongue to stimulate movement and thus returning it to its normal state, opening the airway.  This new equipment has developed a track record of being about 80% effective.  More info at

Now, after jumping through several hoops, I have received the good news that I have qualified as a good candidate for having this new gear installed.  I have to await Medicare approval, but I am told that has not been an issue since it is recognized that serious lack of sleep has a negative effect on the heart, the brain and lifespan.

So today is a benchmark for me.  If all this works out, it will be life-changing.  The long endless hours awake at night and much of the constant disruptions and embarrassing moments in my daytime will cease.  Trust me, there is nothing like an even half-way good night’s sleep and I hope to experience that once again…“WooHoo!” says I.


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Close-up woman patient sleep in hospital with saline intravenous

The few times I’ve spent a night or two in the hospital have left me with the theory that there is a definite social process that takes place if you wind up sharing a room with another patient. First of all, the outcome can go either way: harmony and congeniality or complete mayhem and chaos. It’s bad enough already if you are there because of some kind of serious illness, but if you wind up with an incompatible roommate, that can be about as miserable as things can get. I’ve been lucky, but I am also pretty tolerant and compassionate…because that is just the kind of guy I am.

So I get settled into my room following my total knee replacement surgery and within a short time another victim is bought in to join me. He’s had a recent, similar procedure done to one leg, but has fallen at home and screwed up the other one. So already you gotta feel bad for this guy.

The knee operations are about the only things we have in common. Everything else? Well, let’s just say we were at opposite ends of the room when they were handing out assignments. He’s a retired automobile mechanic and army vet. He has a large family with brothers in the military or chiefing some police departments somewhere. His interests are Harley’s and shooting. Yep, we are indeed strange bedfellows except for one major commonality: we both hurt and we have to rely on someone to help us if we want to do any of the basics like eating and going to the bathroom.

The routine plays out. We small talk through careers and family stuff, medical histories and critiquing the people taking care of us. At night, I’ve found, is when the real test begins. One of us is going to have an especially bad night and how well the other copes will determine how goes the rest of the tour. In this instance, he’s the one who has the bad night. I won’t go into details other than to say he had bathroom issues and despite making several attempts on his own, he was not able to get up out of bed. His trying to do so was not a popular decision given the wrath displayed by several nurses. The up-and-down battle went on most of the night until he was ultimately left with no choice but to take care of things using the uncomfortable portable container made for the situation. In sum, his having a bad night meant my night didn’t go so well either.

I kind of take it all in stride. First of all, I am used to having lousy nights given some sleep issues I have. Second, I’m sympathetic because it is obvious he is in a lot of pain and the slightest movement of his leg results in warzone cries of agony. The situation is intensified by the fact they’ve filled him with several doses of medicine to encourage his plumbing to let loose…and so it does. This is the point at which one human weighs the emotions of relief vs. embarrassment–that would be him, while the other displays extraordinary patience and understanding–that would be me.

As the next day progresses, he has his knee drained, thus relieving him of much pain, and his pipes are now flowing normally. I’m a happy camper because the excruciating degree of pain I expected to arrive after the nerve block wore off, doesn’t. Now we can attend to continuing the small talk which focuses on things like the quality of meals we’re getting and where each of us has gone on a cruise.

We are getting along splendidly by the time I am being released and wheeled out of the room. We say our goodbyes and good lucks and the two of us share a quick insightful glance toward each other…two old blokes with little in common and never having met before, but having gone through an intimate and embarrassing moment together only to hold the instance in total disregard and silent acknowledgement that such is life when you are sick and need help.


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After a long run of successful procrastination, tomorrow I will be rolled into the operating room at a nearby hospital.  There, the bones in my left leg will be sawed in two places and a new, manmade knee will be installed.  As they say, been there, done that…seven years ago when the knee in my right leg was replaced.   That didn’t go so well at the time, hence my seven-year stall in getting the left leg done.

I tempted fate twice in that seven-year period with visits to the surgeon, each time the awaiting joint showing increased signs of rebellion.  But each time I talked myself out of proceeding out of fear of “what happened last time.”  The first operation was met with a strong, hostile reaction on behalf of just about every element of my right leg—muscles, bones, blood vessels, tissue, skin—everything EXCEPT the knee itself.  I had an unusual recovery that took the right knee replacement well over two years before I was able to strut pain free.  The left leg hurt, but not as badly as its post-op partner.

So I guess it is natural that I feel a little anxious about this second operation.  The doctor is optimistic that, like love, knee replacement is better the second time around.  He has some new robotics that make the process a lot simpler and, supposedly, less painful.   He also told me he will perform some nerve block procedures that will do likewise.  I am going into it with a positive attitude and a certain amount of faith that what the doctor says will happen, happens.

How soon I return here to tell you about the outcome of my adventure is anybody’s guess.  I do recall the first few days after my first operation were quite challenging. I suppose posting my blog won’t be the first thing that comes to mind.  But then, it could be sooner than I think …assuming I get a leg up.

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There are so many things day to day that I take for granted.

It amazes me how my thinking can be so distorted and slanted.

Notice I said “things” so at least there’s no offense taken

I don’t have to worry about soothing feelings shaken.

Something so innocent as the shirt off my back

Has made me stop and think I should cut it some slack.

There it is in the drawer always folded neatly, just waiting.

Mindless I am as I take it out, put it on, no hesitating.

And then I realize all that it does without my even asking.

All my sins and lack of disciplines it has no trouble masking

As it artfully drapes itself upon rolling hills one atop another

Beneath them years of potatoes, ice cream and peanut butter.

Oh mighty shirt I salute your loyalty and devotion so unsurpassed

I praise your dedication to covering up this mess I’ve amassed

Love handles, overlaps and dimpled piles of plumpness rise

Only to be hidden and cloaked by my shirt’s devious disguise.


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It’s been over a week since I posted my last blog.

That’s mainly because in my mind there’s a clog.

I have had a few other things to keep me busy

Some have even had me in a bit of a tizzy.

Besides helping work on a project for a friend

My back went out and it’s still not on the mend.

I won’t bore you with details unexciting

They’d make this poem not worth reciting.

One thing that is most certainly going right

Is the weather’s been perfect day and night.

Weatherwise, this is Florida’s peak time of year.

Temperatures are just right and the skies are clear.

If you’re thinking about visiting, now is the time.

Ocean temps are warm while low airfares are prime.

By now you may have noticed this poem just rambles on.

I’d have no trouble continuing like this from dusk to dawn

But I will confess that all this meandering about as if in a fog,

Was simply to kill time and post something new on my blog.


Here is one item that’s definitely new…and FREE! I’ve redesigned my personal website and it now includes a free giveaway! Currently, you can download a free digital copy of my book, DEAD LETTER.

If you want a preview, click on the book’s trailer that appears on the right. For a free digital copy go to and follow the green arrow on the home page.


Posted in communication, Freebies, Poetry, of sorts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments



It is amazing how simple one-on-one communication can go so badly that it results in a total disconnect between people, groups of people, even nations of people. I advocate teaching communications as a full-semester course in our high schools.  I would suggest further that a high percentage of its content be concerned with the merits of good listening.   We could all use some lessons in learning how to listen better.  Hey, did you listen to what I just said?

Why, just by coincidence, I had an on-line chat yesterday that is an excellent example of how poor listening can affect whether or not a customer returns to do more business with a company. I had only one question, shown in caps. I don’t need to elaborate…the chat speaks for itself. Here, listen:

Hello, how can I help you?

Me: CAN  YOU CONFIRM THAT I PAID EXTRA FOR FASTER DELIVERY of letterhead that I ordered?  It is still in transit.

Just a moment…

(3-4 minutes go by)

Sorry for the delay. We’re working on getting you connected with an agent as soon as possible. Please bear with us and we will connect you to a member of the Overnight Prints Support Team shortly. Thank you for your patience.

(5-6 minutes go by)

Sorry for the delay. We’re working on getting you connected with an agent as soon as possible. Please bear with us and we will connect you to a member of the Overnight Prints Support Team shortly. Thank you for your patience.


Hi Marc. Thank you for chatting with Overnight Prints. What is your order number?

Me: hold on please while I get it…2103XXXX…I THOUGHT I PAID A PREMIUM FOR DELIVERY ON THE 9TH which is the date noted on my receipt, but it has not arrived and when I tracked it, it said it won’t be here until tomorrow (2/14)


Don: One moment while I take a look.

Don: According to UPS it will get delivered on Wednesday [7/15]. If the order is delivered after the estimated delivery date you had requested we can do a partial refund for the shipping difference.


Don: I understand your frustration. We are doing all that is possible to get the order to you.

Me: can you please answer my question. I know you cannot correct the situation and I am stuck dealing with a disappointed client, but CAN YOU SIMPLY CONFIRM THAT I PAID A PREMIUM FOR FASTER DELIVERY ON THE 9TH, how much was that and yes I’ll take a refund on that…thank you

Don: Yes it was originally scheduled for the 9th. An internal reprint had to be issued on the order due to production issues.

Me: Don…it is a simple question. Unfortunately, the answer is not on any of the paper work your company has made available to me…sooooo, HOW MUCH WAS THE CHARGE FOR THE PREMIUM DELIVERY?

Don: It was $12.83.

Me: eureka! will that be refunded to me?

Don: You will be able to request a partial refund for the shipping difference.

Me: and how do I do that?

Don: Once you receive the order you can come back to chat and we will do it for you.

Me: well, i guess i will be back at this on Wednesday…I sure hope the order arrives with no other issues….bye.

Don: I apologize I’m not able to do more. Thank you for chatting with us and for choosing Overnight Prints. Have a great day!

Thank you for contacting us.

Chat session disconnected.


Shortly after the chat ended, this showed up:

       How would you rate your chat with Don? [check off number of stars]


I asked the question five times before I got an answer.  Even then it was not a complete answer.  Don told me the shipping charge, but he did not tell me how much of that charge was the extra amount I paid to have delivery by the 9th.  If the company had taken lessons from colleagues like amazon or zappos they should have changed the delivery to overnight status when they finally did ship it, along with sending me an apology e-mail with a refund of the extra bucks I paid.  Needless to say, I didn’t check off any stars and I  am somewhat anxious about exactly what will arrive tomorrow six days late, if indeed, the package does show up on my doorstep.

I have to admit, I order a lot of things via the Internet and I rarely have any problems…but that is exactly why they stick out so much more when they do occur.  Overnight Prints should at least consider changing its name.


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