A Life Well Lived…Except For This Brain Tumor

My Dad (BakoHeat) can’t stop talking. He was a salesman so he never really stopped talking when I was a kid but in this case, it’s because of the massive tumor inside his head. The large mass that is putting pressure on his brain, turning him into half the guy I knew and a child that I’m not sure I ever wanted to meet. But this is what the end of life looks like. With only months to live, he is sitting across from me, asking what the time it is for the 10th time in literally 10 minutes. Sentences are short and you are left with trying to guess the topic. It’s like scenes from Memento and Rain Man. I have no idea how he is dealing with it even with barrage of pills meant to keep him comfortable. But moments in the day, when the tumor subsides because the heavy dose of steroids kicks in, a mental haze is lifted and he’s back for a few minutes.

It’s in these moments, that I find the last few life lessons of a man I’ve watched almost my entire life. From his achievements to his mistakes, to my resentment of him as a teenager to my love for him as an adult, what I see now, is a man pissed off about dying but at the same time, appreciating everyone that has passed through his life. His wife Amy, who he met later in life, he tells her 10 times an hour how much he loves her and how wonderful she is. He says she is the best thing to ever happen to him and he’s right. His other 3 children who he brags about how well they’ve turned out and how much he loves them. He even touches on his relationship with my Mom which was a painful ending but part of a life that he cherishes. When we all wonder if someone is telling us the truth sometimes, everything he says that is coherent, you know is the truth. His capacity to lie or even fib, has been stripped away. When he gives me a big smile and tells me how much he loves me, you know it’s for real. When Amy brings him his favorite BBQ sandwich and he looks like he just won the lottery, you know it’s for real. His world is now confined to three rooms and a few windows but his view on life, his appreciation for a life lived is bigger than any view any of us now have. Here’s a few lessons, I learned from him along the way:

 
  – Keep a sense of humor . When the diagnosis came, he was mad and still is, but he didn’t let the tumor define him. He still kept his sense of humor. He found it hilarious that his doctors at Cedar Sinai where named, Dr. Hu, Dr. Hugh, and Dr. Ho. He didn’t stop living, being sarcastic, finding the irony in his situation.
-There’s always an upside. Being the salesman that he was for most of his life, he learned how to take “no,” move on and find a new upside. He always kept moving forward no matter life threw at him. You can feel sorry for yourself, but that’s wasted energy.
-Be a Dreamer and a Doer. He was always working on a new idea whether for work or to just feed his soul. He was a musician his entire life but later became a writer, a novelist and mentored younger kids who were aspiring writers. But before you can do any of that, you have to have a dream and most important, start doing it.
-It’s never to late to nurture love and forgiveness. If you live to be 74 years of age, all of our lives will be filled with a little bit of everything: triumphs, losses, regrets, but at the end of our lives, it’s about the people. The people that pass through it. The ones that you want to keep in your life, make sure you feed those relationships. We all have people in our lives that we know we should have given more. They deserved more of our attention. Finally, forgive and ask for forgiveness. Don’t keep the negative energy in your soul. We all have regrets but if you dwell on them, you are not living.
-Life is complicated, but you don’t always need to make it so.  Dan is my Stepfather. He came into my life when I was around 6 and he and mom married but then divorced when I was around 20. He was my only Dad. Like every father/son relationship we had our ups/downs and when they imploded, it could have been easy for him to walk away and end our relationship because he was mad with my mother. But he didn’t and we stayed in each other’s lives for the next 25 years. He watched me get married, have children. He didn’t have to do any of that, but he kept it simple and, kept loving me.
A few thoughts about a man who has very few thoughts left. Some day, we will all be there, half-adult, half-child, speaking unfiltered truths. The only time he gets upset is when he picks up the paper and reads the headlines. You can take a guess why.
☺
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BTW KMA

About ten years ago we stopped speaking in sentences with real words. It seems like every verbal interaction I have has some kind of weird acronymically speechified meaning.

It started slow when I was a kid in the 50s. Just a few of those things started creeping into our communication. It was cute at first– easy, lazy, and smart.

At first it was mostly correct sentences like my father might have commented in 1949, “Hey, did you see the National Broadcasting Company televising the news about the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration”?

“Yeah, you mean NBC showing the NASA thing?

When I was in the 7th grade, my buddy Vince and I decided to get our HAM operator’s license. I think we were the two youngest people to ever achieve that at 11 years old. At least in the same city.

Unfortunately the word “Nerd” was not an acronym, just a put-down. We learned we needed to type out “CQ, CQ, CQ” on our keyboards to reach other HAMS. CQ was weird. It really meant “Seek You.” You know, like please answer back to my high-pitched tones.

It’s very possible that Vince and I were using the popular acronym “HAM” that wasn’t really an acronym, but a slur. In fact there has never been a true acronym meaning “HAM.” The word started from telegraph operators who didn’t like amateurs messing up the airwaves with “ham-fisted skills.” Thus we became HAMS.

But, later in the ’50s, the acronyms started flowing in our daily communication.

I remember one of my early bosses told me he needed a report ASAP. I soon found out that meaning.  Then more complicated things we would never try to pronounce became easier shortcuts.  I mean, really, would you ever tell your friends you were taking lessons on a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus? Much easier to say, “I’m taking SCUBA lessons.”

Of course we all found out very quickly the lazy acronyms and incorporated them in our daily bizz.  “FYI, DBA, BS and IOU.”

Some of the acronym’s we all use every day are unknown meanings. I doubt if anyone knows what the “JPEGS” we send across our screens actually mean. (Joint Photographic Experts Group). We would never say that or type it out. The acronym has taken the place of the real meaning…just like ASAP.

All sports are now acronyms. All acronyms are now our communication techniques.

I still see and hear acronyms I have no idea what they mean. It’s a product of my old age I know.

A few weeks ago I heard another brand new acronym from my doctor. As I thought about it, wondering what the meaning was, it came to me and caused a wide grin. I figured it out.

FINALLY, I have what every old fart I know wishes for. And I finally got it.

The doctor said, “You have GBM.”

Yes! What old fart doesn’t want “Great Bowel Movements?”

Thanks!  xoxo

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Jobs for KIDS

I can’t let my children (FOUR) lose their employment over this tremendous pressure to choose their brackets. Such stress! The NCAA tourney is doing it again.

I’m a parent here to help…retired parent with more time on his hands then money.

There is no “like” universities or “loyalty.” Nope…somehow the four kids spread out all over the country and attended different schools.

Now the problem is the four kids are rooting for FOUR different schools. OMG!  That can cause more arguments; stress and problems then we need at Thanksgiving dinner.

Here I am to take care of the problem, choose the winners and losers and not let them lose valuable work time.

How much work time?

The latest numbers as of this year:

50 Million workers fill out the “BRACKET.” That’s 20 percent of our work force.

The cost to employers is over 1.3 billion dollars in time wasted on bracket building.

And family money disappears. Over 9 BILLION dollars in wagers— with less than 262 million being actual legal wagers.

Once again, here’s poppy to save money for my kids employers and I’ll help cover their wagers and arguments. What a nice daddy!

About the FOUR schools that my kids will be eyeing, we only have one slip-up this year. Poor old Indiana University missed the big show and has been relegated to the “lower-class” NIT tourney (Like our local Cal State Bakersfield team).

MICHAEL—OLDEST MALE CHILD (Indiana University)

The good news from my perspective is IU is the strongest team in the NIT and I choose them to come out the big winner. That will bring not only national pride but more recruits to their program. All will be good if their head coach doesn’t physically explode on national TV. He’s come close. I don’t mean mentally explode like their old coach, Bobby Knight…I mean physically explode in a big gooey mess. Never happened before but he could manage it.

JOY—OLDEST FEMALE CHILD (Purdue University)

Yes, PU and IU don’t like each other. Thankfully the kids still do. PU Is playing Green Bay in the first round game in the big show, and it looks like PU may finally get a win. That’s rare because they have the worse tourney coach in history and he usually stinks up the PU game plan when the going gets tough. However, lurking for follow-up rounds are Notre Dame and Kentucky. Go ahead and make breakfast plans on Sunday, Joy, nothing to watch on TV.

Angela—YOUNGEST FEMALE CHILD (Bucknell University)

Sorry, you’re hundreds of miles away from breakfast with your sister because Sunday brunch (with no needed games to watch) is a huge possibility. Bucknell has a tough draw playing a two-loss only team in Maryland and waiting in the sidelines will be a great Oregon team and a strong Duke team. Next year…maybe.

Troy—YOUNGEST MALE CHILD (Gonzaga University)

A bright light in the tourney? Maybe. Certainly a fun team to watch. They have the best draw in the tourney with very weak teams in the entire bracket. Weird! Just beat Oklahoma and keep Sunday wide open for TV.

That’s it. Another bracket building job finished. Four careers saved and a smooth Thanksgiving Dinner.

Later!

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RESET 2272017

I realize we live in strange times. I’ve watched enough movies, read plenty of books and once was even brain-scrambled into believing certain folks could walk on water and cure leprosy.

So…today became my first experience of a total reset in reality, history and things I thought were facts. Clark Kent proved to me years ago that being faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound was possible if you stood for truth, justice and the American way.
superman

Recently I’ve been heading to my evening bed slumber much earlier than previous times. I’ve allowed doctors to pump my body filled with strange drugs and admonishments about my damaged brain. But, last night, the academy awards presentation gave me some incentive to stay awake a little longer.

In the past few years I have more spare home time to read gossip crap, local goings on and “date night” stuff possibilities. This information gives me date night suggestions if Amy asks what’s happening in Bako. When the movie La-La-Land opened locally I suggested Amy and I go see it.

I’m sure my fellow husbands are aware of what “positive points” can do to overall totals of romance and time management. I mean, sometimes there’s the need for dwindling NASCAR rated viewing or a weak college football challenge to watch. A guy might need to cash in some “positive points” to accomplish the viewing event.
first-love

One can’t go wrong adding a romantic musical to the possibilities.

Yes, I thought La La Land was overrated but cute. Didn’t matter… the ‘positive point’s had been accumulated and I ground through the entire viewing.

So, last night, when a much older man than me, Warren Beatty, got up to read the Best Movie Award, I stayed involved knowing how easy it is for us old guys to screw thing up.

Who would have thought of the massive embarrassing screw-up that happened? And it wasn’t even the old fart’s mistake. They had handed him the wrong card. He He He.
academy-award-botch

This is when my magical life event happened. Well, actually around 5am… my normal wake-time.

At that exact moment… the new future…THE AUTO RESET happened.

I felt something surge though my body, up my arms, around my chest and explode in my brain…the supposed troubled part of my being that had been giving me fits the past few months.

Every reality I had believed was part of my present life that stopped… when I woke this morning. Nothing remained the same.

Pretty pretty cool.

I felt great, like I was around twenty eight years old. I immediately started making plans for my new day, like my old life. I know some of these things might sound strange, but it’s been awhile and I wanted to do these things immediately.

It was going to be rainy so I cancelled my golfing plans. However I thought I could get in a few hours of some things I hadn’t tried for dozens of years. I mentally worked in some games of bowling, a couple hours of shooting some hoops, doing a few laps at the roller rink, cooking a huge meal for Amy and maybe another high-rated “point awarded” movie to end the evening.

One more flash around the latest “news” talk about the Academy Award mess-up to reassure me that this really was happening. It was a matter now of doing the research on the internet.

And the stuff that changed was unreal…and sometimes a little painful…but it was RESET DAY so we had to adjust.

I won’t even talk about politics. Of course that was a huge mess-up and everyone already knows that couldn’t happen again in an immediate new election. Everyone immodesty backed out of that stupid Presidency mistake.

Probably the most painful, at least to certain of my friends, was the mess-up and apologetic truth-ism of the Cubs winning the World Series. I felt bad about that mess-up that happened during the playoffs, but HEY…the truth is we had to take the World Series title away. When one thinks about it now, it does seem the correct natural way of life. The Cubs did not deserve to even play in the World Series so this has been straightened out.

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2008, file photo, a Chicago Cubs fan sits alone in the stands after Game 2 of the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Chicago. What happens when a lovable loser is no longer a loser? If the Cubs win the World Series for the first time since 1908, what happens to fans who have waited for next year their entire lives? Experts in psychology suggest that Cubs fans will undergo a big change in their identity, which has been shaped by more than a century of falling short of winning the World Series. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File) ORG XMIT: ILMG102

Speaking of other sports it’s certainly a mess-up on New England winning the recent Super Bowl. We apologized to Atlanta and straightened that out too.

Finally I got around to checking my recent medical records. I apologize to my family and friends. No one should feel as good as I do and have bad reports sorting through the computer/tv/radio waves. I thank you for your kind words, loving visits, and incredible friendships. I’m not sure if I tricked my doctors into putting out false information or possibly allow me to take some very cool drugs that fooled them. I just know I’ve certainly appreciated all the love from you. And I feel great!

BUT…it’s RESET DAY.

Sorry LA LA LAND LOVERS.

Shit happens.

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Persecuted Pluto

I don’t know why I have this ‘thing’ for Pluto, not the Disney character, but the planet.

If I could afford to visit a shrink about my Pluto problem I imagine he/she would find a size problem. I’m hoping it hasn’t been a life-long sexual thing. No wondering what one might find with hours of that type of studying.

I do know I’m on the side of the angry “NASA New Horizons Mission to Pluto” dude. I’m guessing they are all guys. I can’t imagine women getting themselves all worked up about their size.

I haven’t seen the picture of Alan Stern, the principal investigator of the NASA group. I bet he’s short. He even talks like a short guy. His comment this week about “Pluto” spoke in the right anger. To quote Mr. Stern about keeping Pluto demoted from our other planets he said, “That demotion is quite simply Bullshit.” Now that’s a short guy on my team.

pluto

Now after two years of non-stop pressuring NASA big-wigs to re-classify Pluto, we may find the answer in the next week or so. Stay tuned.

I know exactly when my Pluto Puncture sunk me headfirst. It was my high school football coach. Forty jock-strapped high school guys were walking from room to room getting outfitted for the season. My live-in-home did not have a “stadiometer.” None of us did. The only height measurement available was in the high school gym. The football and especially basketball coaches liked the psychological power of controlling the team measurements. Didn’t know that.

When it was my turn going through the measurement line, the assistant coach yelled out the height/weight amount and that was it. I had no way at home to check it nor did I want to. Five Feet Eight Inches Tall, One Hundred Sixty Pounds sounded like the perfect size to become a kick-ass guard (in both sports of Football and Basketball)

And that’s what I was for many years, even CYO basketball league through my twenties. And honestly I believed that was accurate.

My Pluto Depression happened sometime when I was in my late ‘20s. A busted ankle led me to the emergency room where the doctor asked for my vitals. When I spurted out the Five Foot Eight number he laughed. “Seriously,” he said. I said, “Seriously!” He laughed again and asked the nurse to give him a measure and that’s when it happened. I lost TWO PLUTO INCHES immediately. I was actually Five Foot Six. Talk about a beat-down!

Suddenly I became one inch under that the average height for men in the 1960s. Today it is four inches shorter than the USA average male height of 5ft 9 1/2inches tall.

I’m not sure what that means to my psyche, but I have found a love for Pluto.

And I’ve sent a bid on a new vacation rental property a few thousand miles from here.

my-new-neighbors

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NCC

NCC

Bad habits since the 60s. Eating late at night, after band gigs. Nothing more poisonous. Don’t sound sincere does it? It’s not.

Nothing more pleasurable than late-night-after-gig-food.

Back in Indiana, the late night assortments were meek. We had a Denny’s right across the street from the gig. Yuk! Maybe five times in 30 years. That was enough. Hated the food.

We had a few independent grills, mostly yukky food and drunks so it wasn’t a healthy atmosphere. And there was always the “blah-blah-blah” from “Why can’t you come home after the gig”?

Only other musicians can answer that needed cool-down period. The drums don’t quit pounding when the eyes close. Takes a little cool-down time.

So, back in the gig business for the past year in Bakersfield leads me by a few food choices at 1:30am on a Sunday morning. Actually very few. The east side of Bako is closed up. And I like back routes.

The last place I drive by, just a few blocks from home, is an icky Taco Bell. My last choice just a couple blocks from home. And, yes, I usually get in line.

I say line. Always a line of three or four other idiots. Not a car in the road but three or four of us waiting on our late night poison.

There is nothing I love at Taco Bell. Many things I hate. Just a hole-stuffer. Usually a XXL Grilled Stuffed Burrito. Sounds good, huh?

It’s not.

But now, possibly my life has changed forever. Starting JANUARY 26TH, this horrible little restaurant is introducing a new so-called healthy item.

It’s called an NCC. A NAKED CHICKEN CHOLUPA. Oh, my!

A shell made of 4 ounces of “Marinated, all-white chicken meat, antibiotic fried chicken with Mexican spices. That’s right.

The music has just gotten better.

taco-bell

 

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B.C. 2017

You can’t always get what you want 
You can’t always get what you want 
You can’t always get what you want 
But if you try sometimes well you might find 
You get what you need (Rolling Stones)

One of the first things I learned after moving to Bakersfield, California (15 years ago) was B.C. Part of the CA Community Colleges of California. Bakersfield College has a proud reputation (Mostly football) but something the community loves attaching local pride. Across Bako (CSUB) is the full university, part of the largest university system in the USA. Finally the two mergers are taking place, slowly, and one can get into a community college, transfer in and get a degree. Makes sense, finally.

The main 4 year college doesn’t have a football program (excellent choice, but has a big reputation in college wrestling, and growing other sports (made their 1st. NCAA tourney in round-ball last year after a few years in the top division.)

You don’t need to know this crap, just wanted to get some local background into the story.

This blog is about “GOALS.” I’ve been a believer in yearly goals since I was a kid. Probably the influence of sports coaches and needing a direction in life.

It became the most important part of my career when I became a “straight-commission” sales guy in a new territory (CA, HI, NV) in 1981. If you don’t have a plan of travel, sales, expenses, one can starve. I wasn’t about to starve so I had to learn to plan my year, every year. Every day!

I would pick a desolate crummy motel in the mountains or desert a few hundred miles from home, rent a room the week after Christmas and plan every month, week and day of the new year. It worked, that’s all I know. Always exceeded my plans, income and growth so I never stopped my yearly get away.

This year was no different, but I’m not trying to exceed anything, just learn something new.

2016 goal was to attend B.C. My newest goal. To get to B.C. and learn a new course being taught. I had left the live entertainment music playing for over 20 years and now that I got back into live music playing (Keyboard) my ignorance of technical skills about the world of “MIDI” (musical instrumental digital interface)…a protocol to allow different electronic instruments to communicate. I wasn’t sure it would make do much for my live playing, but I was excited how much more I could accomplish in my home recording studio. And it would be FUN!
midi

A great prof, wonderful written book and I was kicking ass for a couple months. Couldn’t wait to study…every day.

music-tech-1

We had these new huge Apple computers with built in recording programs.

About three months into the course I turned on the Apple screen and it looked like gibberish. I was lost. I’m a tech guy, never get lost on a computer. I was lost. I called the prof over and I’m sure he was wondering why this old fart was over his head. So did I.

I blamed some new back-pain meds that had my brain scrambled and went back to my neurologist raising hell.

Didn’t take long to find out the problem wasn’t meds. B.C. for 2017 wasn’t going to be what I thought.

B.C. suddenly changed its meaning. 2017 will be the year of Brain Cancer. What the hell is that?

We’ll find out together in this new journey.

Stay tuned.

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