Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Through Hell and Waiting for a Sign: New Hardware Installed

3 weeks post surgery, I am making my first post here and I am here to tell you I have new hardware in my body. A titanium cage with bone graft between L4 and L5 in the front and pedicle screws  and rods with bone graft on the back side. Looking at the pieces, they seem a little barbaric and looking at the surgery itself sort of confirms it. Surgeon said it was the second worst stenosis he's worked on. I can't discuss the worst part, but lets just say I was alone through much of this experience. The other unexpected hard part was that I got a headache from a CSF leak that had been repaired. The PT people sat me up the next day and all I can say is that it was like someone put my head in a vise. I had visions of Joe Pesci in Casino. The PT people knew what was going on and what to do. They reclined the bed head low and the headache went away. Surgery was on a Monday morning and I went home Friday afternoon. I was glad to go home as
I'd see my kids, I'd eat better and I'd sleep better. Food and sleep are a hospital's weaknesses. I am not sure that I will ride again. Some say yes I'll be able to, but I have other worries too. I've had double vision since the middle of September and we're looking into that and hopefully I'll get a sign of what is going on. I still have the stomach issues that started this shit train back in the end of May. More neck issues too that will be looked into as well. I have problems boss and I need help. I just hope I can solve all these problems and get on with things. If not, it's going to suck. Big time. It's really opened my eyes to the medical profession. Some are good, many are just like civil servants that just want to punch the clock and keep the shit merry go round going and some just want to milk it for everything they can, working in volume. Lots of intransigence and going through processes that take too long to figure shit out and if it gets to hard, pass it off to a specialist and start over. The idea of taking a step back and looking at the patient as a whole and not piece meal and parting out the detective work is anathema to many in the field. I haven't felt right for months, I am tired of it and I want answers. I am waiting for a sign and I see none, yet. Two of my kids want to go into the medical profession. I wonder if I should discourage it. Not long ago I was all for it.

Thank you for reading this blog.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Sometimes, You Gotta Say, WTF

Sometimes you have to say WTF. What a difference 160lbs makes, right? Tried as I might, I did lose weight, but I could escape the effects of it. What you can't see in the picture is a grade 3 stenosis of the L4-L5 vertebra. About 6 weeks ago I started getting tingling in my feet and it worked it's way up my legs and three weeks ago I started getting foot drop on my left foot. Not good. Between going to the docs, MRIs, X-Rays, and putting in for the procedure, I won't get worked on until October 29th. BCBS has a 2 week approval period. That's a real WTF. Maybe their actuaries have calculated that enough people die waiting so they won't have to pay out claims. Who knows. All I know is that's I'm starting to walk like Frankenstein, which some would say is ok since I already look like him. I am certainly as tall.

The older I get and the more health problems I have, the less the Tribal Bullshit means to me and all the petty shit people musterbate about. Most people don't understand what they believe and why and when the world doesn't fit those beliefs, they musterbate. It doesn't matter. They're trying to convince themselves as much or more than anyone else. Give it a rest and rise above. Life is too short for that non-sense. Do what you love, make no excuses, be kind, have compassion and let yesterday and tomorrow be. No one else is responsible for your thoughts and feelings. Own them. This is the best advice I can give right now. Ride safe, keep the shiny side up and I'll see you around.

Thank you for reading this blog.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Back in the bad old days, when a problem arose that was beyond my ken or ability, I would consult the small circle of people I knew that were well versed in the problem I had at hand. Cousin Bobby, Uncle Cam (kind of funny considering he was an auto mechanic, but his name was Carmine, for which the nick name was Camanuccio or Cam for short) cousin Donna's husband at the time Donald or friends Chris or Phil that were auto mechanics too or Lenny Mastro, who was pretty good with motorcycles. As you can tell, my problems were mostly of the vehicle kind. For other problems, there others I could consult, although some of these people could do double duty. I learned a lot from these folks and in turn, I became an "expert" to others over time, although I don't know how effective I was. Sometimes I still channel Uncle Cam, sometimes I think to myself, what would Mark Zimmerman or Kevin Cameron do? Both of which have individually forgotten more than I will ever know. I imagine some might ask what would jesus do, but I don't think his expertise was cars, motorcycycles or any other technology produced since the second century.

The thing is, is that all these people have left my life in one manner or another. I moved from NY, so I don't see Cousin Bobby, Chris, Phil or Donald anymore. Lenny and Uncle Cam left this world all too soon and while I have met Mark Zimmerman, I don't move in the circles those two do, but I will read their work. So, what's left? Well, like everyone else in the world, I ask, What Would Google Do? That is to say, do a google search on the problem at hand. Something like this was incomprehensible 30 years ago, but today it's De Rigueur in troubleshooting of any kind. The thing is, sifting through the miasma of possible answers in search of some well earned wisdom is necessary as accepting the first or second solution becomes risky. Whereas there was immediate trust with friends you know, not so with the big G. Your Mileage May Vary as they say. Still, I usually can find answers to questions I have fairly quickly provided I ask the right question. Unlike your uncle or friend, Google still has a way to go in understanding what I or anyone else is trying to find. The better the question is framed, the better the results. Humans are better at reading between the lines than computers.

This of course leads me to wonder about some things though. If I can find the right answers easily, is that a good thing? Knowledge + Experience=Wisdom. Knowledge without experience or earned experience creates or possibly creates problem solvers with a shallow understanding of how things work. Call any help desk and you'll know what I mean. Experience is always the best teacher and nothing and I mean not even VR/XR can replace real hands on experience. I sometimes wonder what it will be like in 50 or 100 years. Will it be like Demolition Man where people have become feckless in their dependence on what is basically AI and automation through a centralized authority? There are days I feel like the Demolition Man, John Spartan, moving in a world of Raymond Cocteau's and Associate Bob's where I see the direct solution, barred by their bureaucratic fecklessness. On a troubleshooting level, it hit's home when I read about someone's dealership experience with a problem that a diagnostic computer can't find or fix. They don't teach old school troubleshooting anymore, at least it seems that way.

If you think I am some old codger that bemoans progress, I would tell you that you are wrong. What I really bemoan is the layers of abstraction that isolate people from not only how things work, but the lack of critical thinking and relationships with real things. Sure things have become so complicated in some circumstances that it becomes beyond most to understand all of something, but there's not as much desire to. Like a help desk. solve the problem and move on, reading from the script. What is learned? What is retained? What will be passed on? One becomes only as good as a given moment. As John Allison, my 10th grade Social Studies teach said, ideas have consequences. So do actions. I have to wonder who is at the wheel so to speak, in this company town of sorts, but that is a subject for another day.

So when you have a problem you can't solve, instead of typing in a question and hitting the return key, take a break, go back and rethink the problem. Ask a friend who knows more than you do. If they helped or not, buy them a beer or lunch. The human element is something that cannot be replaced. At least I hope not. What Would Google Do? I don't know. Don't care. I'll call one of my friends or family or just take a break and rethink the problem. There's always time to solve a problem, there's always time to learn.

Thank you for reading this blog.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Fuelishness and Into The Light

I finally got the time to fix my headlights. You see, with the crazy heat here and BMW's crappy implementation of connectors for headlights,  the connectors basically crumbled. I bought a set of ceramic connectors and did some soldering as well as upgrading the stock bulbs to LED. While I didn't take pictures of doing the job, I do have one of the front of the bike:

As you can see, they are pretty white. People seem to get out of my way more often now too. Hopefully these will last a lot longer than the H7's that I normally used, which averaged 16K miles between changes. As luck would have it, the next day I went to work with the bike and on the way home I smelled fuel. Once home, I found a fuel leak coming from the female quick disconnect in the fuel pump. 

Old picture for illustration

I purchased one of these from Beemer Bone Yard and replaced the fitting. The thing that pissed me off was that the last people to touch that item was the mechanics at Victory BMW when I had the fuel pump flange issue addressed with the silly ring they install. Victory is now RideNow Chandler, but it's the same owners and people, just a different location. Anyway, the problem really was a sealant issue most likely and I called them to have them look at it. I was owed a call, but never got a return call. Emailed them and got some sales idiot that wanted to know what I would like to buy, even though in the email I explained the problem along with the VIN as they worked on that part of the bike last. You'd think with the liability of a fuel leak that they'd call me back. Nope. The sales idiot said he'd forward my email to service. After this, if I found his miserable ass in the desert, I wouldn't pee in his mouth if he was dying of thirst. The BMW dealers around here suck and Iron Horse in Tucson is too out of the way. Anyway, it's fixed now, but I'll never patronize a RideNow dealership or GOAZ (a different form of stupidity there) again. 

Anyway, that's it for now. 36K mile service is coming up. It will be thorough. I really need to get out on the road. 

Thank you for reading this blog.