Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Care To Prove You're Different?

I've always known I was different but in reality I am proof that God has a sense of humor. That is a bold statement but I can back it up with proof. If you look beyond my personality (which some might say is proof enough) and look at my physical side you will begin to see how true my statement is. First are my legs. I'm bowlegged and slew footed which together combines for a strange look.

Every time I had to do the sitting stretch during my time in the military I always had difficulty doing it in their prescribed manner. To do it you sit on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you with your feet pointing up. Then you simply lean forward and try to touch your toes or go even further if possible depending on your level of fitness.

It always seemed as if I should be able to reach a lot further than I actually was. Then it occurred to me that if I allowed my legs to lay in their normal state, that is legs stretched out and toes pointing outward with my feet horizontal, I would be able to fully stretch myself out and reach past my feet. It does look very abnormal when I sit that way but it's how I'm comfortable so I go with it.

About eight years ago or so I was taking an Aikido class and found out that my elbows are weird as well. We were doing a drill in which you have wrist control on your opponent and take them to the ground face first. There with their arm twisted you put the back of their hand against your chest and lean forward thereby locking it in with your hands free to wreak havoc if need be.

My partner for the exercise did everything properly only to have me simply pull my arm out. Convinced he was doing something wrong he said let's do it again. After many repetitions which all ended in the same manner he gave up and called our instructor over. The Instructor watched us perform the drill once again and then stated "Oh, Don's just put together weird" which is such a wonderful thing to hear.

He showed us how if you make a fist and put it on your hip with your elbow pointing outward then you can feel where the point of your elbow is. For most people it is in the middle but for weird people like me it's somewhere different, in my case it's on the outside. That was what was allowing me to pull my arm out but once armed with the knowledge that someone can do that you merely have to rotate the arm a little more in order to lock it out.

But wait. there's more. I can pop my ankles while standing although I'm pretty sure that's not so good for you. I used to be able to stretch my right hand out and turn it back and forth rapidly and it would produce a clicking sound but that went away in the last year. Then there's my snapping scapula which doesn't hurt and....well I could go on with more tales of my weirdness but I guess that's enough for now. It's all just proof that I am one weird put together dude, not that it wasn't apparent at first glance.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Episode 13 of Ten For Tuesday Podcast Is Ready

Lucky episode 13 of the best music podcast that I do, Ten For Tuesday, is now ready. Go to http://www.tenfortuesday.podomatic.com/ to listen, download or subscribe to via Itunes. Or just click on the player below. Don't I make it easy for you? After three weeks off I'm back for a musical attack that features music from the U.S., Australia, Italy and Canada. There's lot's of ska, music from the 80s, music from this year and music from somewhere in between. I put all of the songs on a playlist for my Ipod and then just hit shuffle. This is the way it came out:

The Snails - Young At Heart
Alejandro Escovedo - Man Of The World
Banda Bassotti - Guantanamera
The Expos - Dying Too Long
The Resignators - Offbeat Feeling
The Call - The Walls Came Down
Dear Enemy - Restless
Jesse Malin - All The Way From Moscow
The Jayhawks - Bad Time
Drivin' N' Cryin' - Whisper Tames The Lion

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yet Another Crisis That Never Happened

It seems another deadline that never was has passed. Last week there was a lot of talk about a virus that had infected a large amount of computers. As I understand it you would be directed towards certain web addresses or not where you wanted to go. The FBI had been investigating the people behind it (there was a way to make money from it) and for a time had servers up that would allow you to be able to use your computer on the Internet. On Monday they decided to take the servers down meaning if infected you would lose your Internet browsing ability. It's all over my head as far as the details on how something like this works.

Anyway, the FBI was predicting tens of thousands of computers in the U.S. alone would be affected. Of course they wanted you to get your computer taken care of before they shut down the servers but what struck me was the media doom and gloom frenzy that followed. Much like the Y2K debacle that never materialized not much happened on Monday. The results were not earth shattering, no businesses were shut down, no home computer users went crazy (to my knowledge) after losing their browsing capability and no government offices were affected.

So basically it was a case of much ado over nothing which is what I felt would happen, uhh or not happen in this instance. It seems like this is occurring more and more these days. Somebody will report something and the media jumps all over it without so much as doing a smattering of fact checking. Before you know it people believe what they are told, after all, they saw it on t.v. or read it on the Internet so it must be true. This way stupidity keeps breeding stupidity no matter what the truth is.

Case in point, the Mayan calendar ending. Some person speculated that this meant the end of times even though there was nothing to back this theory up. The world would end (perhaps to start over) on December 21st, 2012. One after another the news services starting reporting this as if it were a fact. Never mind that there is a difference of at least several months in how we have adjusted time which means that date cannot be correct. There's just nothing else to back up this belief. Oh yeah, and since then more Mayan calendars have been found that refute this theory of them predicting the end of the world.

Whenever I hear this type of poorly researched garbage being trolled about in the media I take it with a grain of salt and keep on doing what I am doing. So far none of it has rung true to me, it all seems to be sensationalized manure and I instinctively disbelieve it. It just amazes me how much effort is put into disseminating false beliefs in an effort to stir people up and get better ratings. The days of objective, fact based news reporting by the mainstream news media are long gone, if they ever really existed. None of them care about getting it right, they just want a sexy, exciting story that gets their name bandied about. I guess all attention is good attention no matter how poorly they do their jobs. I'll just keep on disbelieving the majority of what they say and life will go on.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Time To Admit Who I Am

Okay I'll finally admit it. I am a veteran. There, I said it. It's not that I have been trying to hide the information or am ashamed of my service or anything like that. Quite the contrary, I am proud to have served almost eight full years in the United States Army including the Gulf War. I just don't see a need to advertise it. I've heard people call all service members, especially those who have gone to a war, heroes and I don't agree with that view at all. I was just a guy doing a job. That's as simple as it gets. I never saw combat and never was tested to see if my training would kick in or not. My specialty was personnel records which I ended up knowing quite well.

There was no altruistic thought behind joining nor no patriotic state of mind. Indeed, I simply joined the Army for a job. Tired of living a life that seemed to be going nowhere and not desiring to return to college where I was racking up debt after two and a half years (all without knowing what I wanted to major in) I instead chose to join up and perhaps see a bit of the world if I was lucky. My service first led me to a two year tour of Germany, then on to Ft Hood, Tx and the 1st Cavalry Division which in turn then sent me to Saudi Arabia. After we came back I re-upped for another hitch and went to Washington D.C. to be stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Along the way I had some experiences and met a lot of people, most of whom I've forgotten their names. That's what pictures are for I guess.

I learned a great deal about myself and started my baby steps of getting over my lifelong insecurities which seems to have rapidly accelerated in the last year. Still, there were some hard times mixed in there as well but if I'm being honest even though they sucked they've helped to make me who I am today. When I left the military I never tried to get any benefits nor draw upon what I had done to get anything extra for myself. As a matter of fact it wasn't until this last year before I even went to a local restaurant to get a reduced meal on veteran's day even though by all rights I deserve it. Once in seventeen years. Part of the problem with me was that I always lessened what I had done and been through.

Sure I had served over six months in the Gulf War but not in combat. I wasn't on the front lines but in the rear-division. The only Iraqi's I saw were two prisoners of war at a hospital where I was getting an xray for injuring my ankle in a basketball game. This was after the war was over. I never had to shoot anybody military or civilian, never threw a grenade into a building and never ever saw a scud missile. I was forced to march over to a medical tent and take shots of unknown origin which are not mentioned in my medical records. I did undergo a lot of uncertainty and fear about what could happen if one little thing went wrong on our front lines. There were difficult times spent in crowded tents under bad weather and adverse conditions. Then again, nobody forced me to sign my name on the contract. I just did my job and ended up with a chest full of medals for it.

So while I don't have any combat horror stories I do have stories to tell. You really learn about people (and yourself) when you are forced to live with them in cramped quarters and difficult conditions. Perhaps it's now time to start putting those lessons to good use. As I have stated even though I didn't see combat, even though I wasn't supposed to have my weapon loaded in guard duty (but I did) and even though I didn't shoot to kill (or at all) I can proudly say that I am a veteran. I served my country to the best of my ability and I suffered for some of it.  I just don't see the point going around trying to let everyone know what I've been through and done. After all, I know and I'm the one it matters to the most.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Yesterday I received a letter from my son’s pediatrician informing me that we were seriously overdue on a bill and if remittance were not made immediately not only would they take us to court but also he would cease to provide any future medical care. Did I mention that the bill was for five dollars and was four months old? Before I go any further let me say that I was unaware of this massive outstanding bill but that is no excuse. It is my responsibility to keep up what I owe and to be aware at all times and I clearly failed in that regard. However, does it make sense for a doctor (or his staff more likely) to think that taking this path is a good idea?

First it would cost money that you could not recoup to file a lawsuit against a patient or their representative. There are the lawyer’s fees, filing fees, court costs and so on. Even in small claims court filing a case like this would cost several hundred dollars at a minimum. All to win five dollars. By spending more money than you can hope to receive it doesn’t seem to take a great deal of brains to understand that this is a losing situation. Actually it seems like a colossal waste of time to me. Perhaps the message that it would send to other deadbeats like myself would be a larger victory that would make it worthwhile.

Second there is the damage that can be done to a reputation and business practice by sending very strongly worded letters in an attempt to force your will. Some people will take their business elsewhere because they don’t like being spoken to that way. Some will also tell every family member, friend, acquaintance, street person and enemy that they know not to use the services of that doctor because they are rude, insensitive, etc. They might even complain to a local news station about a lack of tact and understanding or file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

I didn’t do any of those things though. I simply went to the office and wrote them a check for five dollars. After all, even though it wasn’t intentional it was overdue and my fault. Plus I think the doctor is very good at what he does and would hate for my son to have to warm up to a new one because of my negligence. Instead of getting offended I chose to accept my shortcoming and learn a lesson from it. Okay, maybe I did get a little angry at first but I got over it quickly because I was in the wrong. The doctor certainly did nothing wrong and deserves his money. Here’s hoping that in the future I won’t repeat this behavior.
Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

I've Got The Scorching Hot Summer Grass Cutting Blues

I have a confession to make. I’m not a gardener nor have I ever claimed to be. Landscaping is not my thing and I really don’t care about keeping my lawn nice and trim at all times. Unfortunately my wife doesn’t share my feelings and she lets me know about it……..a lot. It can be a source of friction between us which as any married man knows is not a lot of fun. It’s not as if we need extra problems for our wives to focus on.

I wish I could get into it but gardening doesn’t do anything for me. I get no aesthetic pleasure from looking at plants and nothing at all from yardwork. Sure it’s good exercise and all (until you catch poison ivy that is) and yes I’m quite aware of the fact that I am out of shape and need exercise in the worst way. Still, if I can avoid doing it or can put it off I will and then happily spend my time inside in the air conditioning. I guess it’s a shortcoming that I’ll have to deal with.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I let the grass grow over a foot tall or anything, it’s just that the idea of trimming the grass every four or five days is not my idea of a good time, especially in this 100 degree plus weather that we’ve been having lately. Is it so wrong not to get excited over the prospect of getting down on hands and knees and trying to decipher plant from weed? If so then I am guilty as charged.

Now my wife enjoys gardening and if she could she would spend a lot of time with her plants and we’d probably have a good sized garden. As I’ve written before though she has Rheumatoid Arthritis and recently had her right knee replaced. The surgery went well and she has a lot more pain free movement but it has only been a few months and she can’t do as much as she’d like. Or should I say she tries to do it and then suffers the cost from overdoing it.

Sometimes my brain informs me that since my wife does like it to be that way and would do it if she could then I should make the effort to do something nice for her even though I don’t enjoy doing it. Whenever those thoughts occur I usually just sit in front of the computer and surf from blog to blog, page to page until those kinds of thoughts go away. No matter how hard she tries to force me to do it her way I resist. What can I say, I’m just as stubborn as she is sometimes.
Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.