Saturday, March 31, 2007


The last couple of days have been poignant for several reasons. On Thursday, J and I went to the house of one of his classmates who lost her mother to cancer on Monday. She also had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and had been fighting it for nine years. The husband and father had a look about him that I recognized. I knew that nothing I could say would take away any of what he was feeling, so I mostly touched his shoulder and gave him a couple of hugs.

This is a man who I had never met, but it seemed like the most appropriate thing I could do. I would like to have him and his daughter over for dinner when they are up for it. These first few weeks are going to be hard for them if they go through anything similar to my experience.

Last night, J and I were the guests of some old neighbors at the annual fund raising stage review for the local school district. It is a very hammy show where all of the participants are teachers and is guaranteed a sellout audience for the three nights of the show as students and their parents come to clap and cheer as the normally reserved classroom instructors offer themselves up in the name of a good cause. It is amateurish and cheesy, but everyone loves it in spite of, or perhaps, because of that.

It was one year ago that J and I were returning home from the same review that my cell phone went off and I picked up a call from a shaken wife and mother explaining that our 16 year old daughter had just been involved as a passenger in an SUV rollover accident as she and seven other girls were headed for a school dance.

I hurriedly dropped off my son at home and headed for the accident scene. I arrived to the flashing lights and surreal atmosphere of a major accident. There were ambulances and many squad cars. The SUV was upside down in the ditch with the roof caved in right over where my daughter had been sitting. I saw that before I saw her. She was standing in the middle of the road talking to the parents of the girl who was driving. She was bleeding from several minor cuts and had a wild and far away look in her eyes.

After ascertaining that she was not severely injured and declining an ambulance ride to the hospital, I took her home with me. It was the best birthday present I had ever received.

Of the eight girls in the SUV, one was thrown from the vehicle as it rolled. The rest were either belted in or were lucky. They were ALL lucky. No major injuries. Cuts and bruises. I still don't understand how they all walked away. The girl who was thrown out the back hatch landed in a mud puddle - breaking her fall. Last night, they had a reunion as they all headed off to the same dance. This time, they went in more cars.

Tomorrow is another anniversary of sorts. Tomorrow is my birthday and the ten-month anniversary of C's departure. So many things to think about, to be thankful for, and to reflect on. I think that I will plan for a quiet day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Delema

So, I have been thinking about this for a while. A few days ago, I was driving around doing errands and listening to this talk show on NPR. It was about the re-diagnosis of cancer in Elizabeth Edwards and what this would mean to her husband’s campaign efforts.

I tried to call in – not because I had an opinion, but because I had a perspective that I thought unusual. I didn’t get through, which is OK because it would have made me very nervous to speak out on a national radio program. Still, I think about it and would like to try to put it down here.

The other callers offered up opinions on whether they should keep going or hang it up. They talked about how a person with cancer needs to keep a positive attitude and live for their dreams. Others said that John Edwards was running for the President of the United States and needed to put the nation’s needs in front of his own. I feel torn.

From the standpoint of someone who has cancer, the callers are absolutely right. You need to live for your dreams. You need to have a positive vision. You need to live the normal (or not so normal) life your family needs you to live. You need reasons to believe in the future. You need to have hope.

From the perspective of a spouse who had to be a caregiver for a lover who was dying, I believe that no one can devote himself or herself to some other course of action and not suffer for it. The callers on the program I was listening to talked about their belief that the Edwards family had a “true” marriage – one of loving and deep commitment. If that is the case, I have absolutely no doubt that John Edwards could not, and should not be in the position of campaigning for, or holding the office of President, knowing what might be in his path.

If you love someone and that person is dying, you are incapable of giving yourself to some other calling. And that is rightfully so. If you believe that you can give your heart and soul to the office of President of the United States while your wife is dying, I don’t think that I could vote for you.

I like John Edwards. I like a lot of the things he stands for and I believe that he and his wife are trying to make the best decisions in a very difficult time. I just don’t think this is the best time to be running for President for the Edwards family. I wish they faced a different set of decisions, but this is what they, and the rest of the country has.

My two bits.

Monday, March 26, 2007


The frogs, they be peepin.

What I See

This is a poor photo of what I look out on as I write this. The "pond" is really a shallow wetland that displays varying degrees of "wetness" depending upon time of year and precipitation levels. It is home to the singing frogs, geese, ducks, snapping turtles, and others who come to feed such as the egrets, herons, owls, raptors, fox, etc. Right now, it is just waking up from its winter freeze. The last of the ice went yesterday, and with today forecast to be in the seventies, I will be listening to frogies by dusk.

It is back to school for the kidlets. For me, that means peace and quietude as I do my daily chores. Today is laundry, dishwashing, walking, phone calls and porn shots.

Oh, and thanks to yesterday's respondents, we have a question before us. Where is the best place for said photographic endeavors to be made public? Suggestions accepted.


Sunday, March 25, 2007


It hit seventy today. A first for the season. That meant that I was compelled to clean the porch floor and set up the outside table and chairs. Now, many sweat drops later, here I sit with another first for the season, a gin and tonic, on the screen porch, in short sleeves. Plus, I have a wireless signal, so now, I can sit on the deck in the summer, completely nakid, and post porno.

Life is good.

As you can see, the trees are still bare, but we can wait for that can't we? I can even hear a brave early frog peeping down by the pond. This has to be one of my favorite times. So full of promise and coming life. The plants will all be sporting auras soon. The rains and thunderstorms will come. The world will shake off its winter dust and green will once again cover all. The earth inhales around me. I feel her breath. The trees are anxious.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Things feel different. I am dreaming ernestly in the early morning hours. This morning I was interviewing for some kind of job where being christian was apparently a requirement. I tried to explain that I was not religious, but that I "was experienced." Didn't seem to convince them.

Then I got to kiss some lovly lass. It was wonderful and I woke up with a throbbing erection.

The waking up part has been going on for some time. I am having night sweats which is not a good thing. I often wake at 3 or 4 AM and am quite slick. This makes me wonder if these treatements are being effective in any way.

Today is another bright and sunny one and the world is full of honking geese. They are back on the pond and making quite a racket. Yesterday, it was ducks. Today, geese. Soon it will be frogs and then I can die happy.

None of you who read this rag on a regular basis will find this news flash surprising - I think of death. This is not a negative thing for me in any way. I know where I am going and I need to think about how best to get there. Don't get me wrong, I am not in a hurry, but I "feel" the imminence of it.

One of the side effects of seeing life as a cycle, and feeling particularly tied to its flow, is that things that once were so important now seem like childish games. Take politics for example. I read and hear of the goings on in the country and the wider world, and where I was once angered and upset by the blind stupidity of those we elected (and even more so, by those of us who DID elect them), I now think, "This will go on forever. We are children, playing at being grown-ups. We are concentrating on the wrong things."

Is it that my thoughts are changing, or is it the drugs? I don't know.

I do know that it will be a beautiful day. I will take the dog and walk down by the lake to see the state of the ice. Soon, it will disappear and I will look out on sparkles. I will hear the geese and look forward to the piping of frogs to sing me to sleep.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Beat With a Stick

I am so tired. It might have been the poker, or the last growler of high octane beer that got dragged out at the end, or my daughter handing my ass to me as she drew one flush or straight after another, or the road trip, or the lousy mattress, or the dog sleeping against me like a furry lump, or maybe it was the chemo. All of the above, I say.

I am sitting here, on my very own bed, in my fuzzy pile pants, supper done, dishes washed (or at least put in the dish washer), a second wine on the bedside table, the dog curled up on her blanket to my left, the boy downstairs watching a movie, the girl off at work, and me barely holding onto consciousness. It ran late last night. Who would have guessed for a Monday night poker game? Don't normal people have to work anymore?

I have to take a moment to tell you about this group I play with. Goes back about forty years now. Last night we were trying to remember how we started it off and as near as we can tell, it began with a "men's" group in the early seventies. This was a time when women's groups were springing up like weeds and those of us who were of the Y chromosome variety and were trying to shed our neanderthal brow ridges decided to form an analogous society that would explore our more sensitive and tender sides. After a while we got tired of trying to analyze our motivations for various things, making pot-luck dinners together, and going on social outings. We started playing poker.

Some of us still are. It is now a multi-generational, mixed-sex group that is more or less centered around my old home town, though several of us have migrated south and now live in the larger metropolitan center I find myself a part of for the past twenty years. Whenever I go north to visit friends and family, I always try to stimulate a gathering of the faithful to spend a night tossing out nickels, dimes, and quarters as a pretext for visiting our more sensitive sides.

Last night was a riot. We wound up with too many to play at one table, but rather than split, some of us would sit out for a few hands and just gab. The ages ran from the seventies down to the teens. The language was bad from time to time, but the bond of friendship was so strong. We laughed, we bluffed, we taunted, we played. We told stories, we drank, we smoked (only some and outdoors), we were family.

This is one of the wonderful things about growing older. To be able to look back upon years and years of togetherness, to watch each other grow grey, to see each other's children be born, to grow, and to become parents themselves. To live through this life, to support each other when death calls, to grow, to love, to grieve, to laugh, to drink, to enjoy - this is truly a measure of wealth that I have been blessed with. Money plays no part in it other than to toss as small silver disks into the center of a threadbare green baze covered table. We were rich beyond belief last night and now I am tired.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Just a quick post because I have much to do. We hope to go north to visit with family yet this afternoon which means packing and getting ready to leave for a couple of days.

I am feeling better today than yesterday. For those of you who didn’t know, I did a round of chemo on Friday – the old fashioned kind (quite toxic) mixed with the new fashioned kind (which added five hours to the process). Friday night and yesterday, I felt quite sick. Not nauseous exactly, I took medication to hold that off, but severely hung over, poisoned, weak, foul-mouthed, and just generally rotten. Most of that has passed on, I hope.

This is kind of what I remember from the last time I did this particular version of chemo thirteen years ago. The bad taste in my mouth won’t go away until I am off the drugs for a while – months if I recall. So, I will live with that. The hangover part will be there for a day or two every treatment which will be every three weeks.

My appearance will change. I will lose my hair in about two weeks so I hope the weather turns warm by then. I’ll have to install a mirror in the shower so I can shave my head in there. If your going to be partially bald, might as well go for the whole look I think. It’s bound to improve my sex appeal.

Anyway, that’s where we are right now. As I said, this is short because I have to get moving. More later.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Live Music

Last night I went out to hear some music. Now, normally (when was that), something like this would not be news worthy, but these days, I find it difficult to leave the house and venture into the wider world. I have become a hermit. But, last night, I had to go.

I like music. It has always played a large role in my life. For I while I had aspirations as a musician, which I always found ironical, because of all of us kids, I was the only one who didn’t sing in an organized fashion when I was young. All of my siblings were in the school choirs, the church choirs, the touring boys chorus – they were good. Somewhere along the line, I decided to pick up a guitar (to get the girls, I am sure) and started singing. I was not good. I got better, and today, I still enjoy singing, but I realized that A) I was not good enough, consistently enough to expect people to pay money to listen, and B) I wasn’t willing to put in the practice and effort to achieve A. I am a musical hacker.

But, I love listening to others who have A and do B. One of those musicians I have been following since the early seventies. A Canadian who has worn many musical toques over the years, but always an excellent songwriter and one of the most gifted and creative guitarists I have ever heard. Bruce Cockburn is the name, and anytime he is playing live where I can attend, I’ll go. Last night he swung through town and played a benefit for our area’s premier acoustic stage.

I invited my brother-in-law to go with me. He is by far, the most musically addicted person I know. In my time, I have acquired, un-acquired, and listened to more music than most, but this guy is in a whole different league. I knew that he liked this guy’s music and thought he would enjoy the show. And it was so good. There is nothing like live presentations, whether it’s music, theater, speech – you name it. It is the connection between the performer and the audience. There is a tangible energy that exists and I have felt it from both sides in my time. It is addictive for all concerned. Last night was a beautiful example of that where an artist created an experience for the audience to enjoy, and enjoy it they did. It was electric. For this, I will get out of the house.

If you don’t know this guy and you like music, listen to some of his stuff. He has been recording for over forty years and is one of the best (IMHO). Anyway, it was grand.

Tomorrow I go in for my first chemo session of this old treatment. I am not looking forward to it to be truthful. Even so, my attitude is positive. I do not know what is around the corner, and what more can you wish for than that?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Brrrrrrrrrr. It is much cooler today than it has been for the last couple of days. Still, it is above freezing and we have lost much of the snow pack that seemed so deep just last week. The “pond” out behind the house has gone from a clean expanse of white two days ago to a mostly liquid mix the color of light caramel. There are still large areas of ice, but it has that “given up” look that ice gets when it knows its last days have come.

The world I look out on is in transition. White giving way to shades of brown – from the light tan of last year’s cattail rushes, to the caramel of the melting pond, to the reddish brown of the fallen oak leaves that make up the forest floor duff that is appearing on the south facing slopes, to the dark, almost black, bark of the trees, still sleeping, dreaming their dreams of awakening.

When we go on our walk today, I will bring gloves and a warmer hat. Yesterday, we saw deer and wild turkeys. Today, who knows.

Next week the kids have spring break. We hope to go north to see family for a few days, but I am holding off on making final plans to wait and see how I feel after Friday’s treatment. I hope that we can go.

Yesterday I finished with the hanging clothes in the closet off of my bedroom. This was a milestone of sorts. I think that everyone who loses a lover reacts differently in how they approach going forward. Some move to a new location, some cannot change anything, creating a shrine to the lost love. I fall somewhere in between as I believe most do.

In her book, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” Joan Didion talks about how she could not part, or even move for that matter, her late husbands shoes. To do so would be to finally admit that the lost person was truly gone for ever.

For a long time, I was unable to deal with all of C’s things in our closet. I knew she was gone, but like Joan Didion, I needed parts of her to remain. I couldn’t immediately sever the link I had to her, no matter how tenuous. I believed that the time would come when it would feel right and so I waited.

That time did come. I invited family to come and help me begin by first taking what they wanted. Later, a couple of C’s workmates came and did the same. Then it was up to me, so every couple of days, I would fill up some 30 gallon heavy duty leaf bags with shirts and sweaters, suits and slacks, socks and undies, belts and shoes, and deliver them to the goodwill main store down in the big city. Yesterday, I put the last of her clothes from this closet in the bag and made the familiar trip.

As you might expect, there were some difficult moments, as I would handle each piece of clothing, checking the pockets for the inevitable wad of Kleenex stuffed there for whenever it was needed. Each article of clothing carried its own set of memories, culled from the recesses of my mind where they had been laid down over the last twenty plus years. A bittersweet time.

Still, it is a start more than it is an end. Of course, those two words are inseparable when one looks at the larger picture. It is only when myopia claims us that we see only one or the other.

I have much to do yet. Many decisions to make – keep or not, if not, give to whom? It is a good thing to thin our lives out once and a while. Long before I met C, I moved often enough that this was enforced through a process of natural selection – my friends would only help me with so much, so I had to limit my possessions. Now, those limits have been considerably loosened, the result of home ownership and relative stability. Storerooms are enablers. Garages are not your friend in this matter. So, it is not just C’s stuff I need to dispose of, but my own as well. Yes, I have much to do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


No, not those. Where is your mind?

Almost thirteen years ago, I learned I had cancer. It was a variety that they didn't know how to cure and it is fatal. The good news was that it was treatable and very slow moving. In addition, I have never suffered from the disease itself. Only the treatments have made me feel bad. The worst was the first. It was a traditional, toxic cocktail chemotherapy protocol involving four tasty mixtures of industrial waste. I lost my hair, got rodent cheeks, and other less attractive additions to my everyday life. It was also the one that had the least positive result in terms of remission time.

I am going back to that treatment starting Friday - well kind of. One of the drugs has a life-time limit and I have had mine, so in order to keep the number of drugs given to an even number (some kind of tenant of western medicine), I will also receive a dose of my "middle" chemo, which worked great the first two times, but gave me fuck all the third go round.

Why do you want to know all this? Well, because I get to look so humorous by doing this, I thought I would take a facial shot (no, not that) every day and post it as part of the Flickr 365 project. This means that when life is getting you down, you can, through the marvels of the internet, look at someone who has it worse - thereby making things seem not so bad. Deal?

You can find my Flickr Day 1 photo here, or click on the montage over to the right.

You might also ask why I am doing this. The reason is that all the better treatments have stopped working. This is a regrettable situation, but one that has been expected for some time. And who knows, maybe while I am whiling away the hours polishing my dome (no, not that one) the boys and girls in the white lab coats will come up with something new. If not, you are all invited to my wake, which I plan to have while I can still enjoy it.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Melt

It’s very melty around here today. All of that snow we got a week or two ago is slowly (and sometimes not so slowly) changing states – from solid to liquid and turning our parking lot into a lake.

Yesterday, I dug a trench through a snowbank to the drain hole under the stone wall in the lower corner. While this new development has stymied Sophie who enjoyed keeping her feet clean by walking over the tops of the snow banks to one of her “peeing” fields, the civil engineering function was successful and Lake Mudpit started to drain.

I just returned from a walk with said dog who is now stretched out at my feet waiting for a sunspot to eventually get around to her. It was warm enough that my jacket had to be unzipped, my gloves removed and stuck in pockets, and my hat finished up in my hand. The sun is beating down out of a cloudless sky and the sound of dripping and running water is everywhere.

As I write this, I sit in my perch in the corner of my bedroom with windows at my shoulder and directly in front of me. I wait for the singing of frogs. I keen for their magical voices that mark the true ending of the cold times and the birth of spring. It will be a while yet as all I see is white snow, the brown of last year’s rushes outlining the pond in front of me, and the reddish brown oak leaves that stubbornly cling to the trees between me and the pond, waiting to be finally dislodged by this years new growth.

Yes, it will be a while, but I can feel it coming. It won’t be long before the snow is gone and the first brave green things start pushing up.

My cold is better. It mostly makes itself known in the morning upon rising. I spend a fair amount of time coughing and trying to shake out the junk that accumulated while I slept. The constant running and blowing of the nose has receded to the occasional honk. Yesterday, I had enough energy to start to pick up the house a bit from the previous days when it was all I could do to take care of the basic minimum.

So, that’s all for now. I hope that you can enjoy your Sunday afternoon wherever you are.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Gone Fishing

Do you remember the scene from “The Matrix” where Neo hallucinates that some sort of artifact was inserted into his body through his navel? The same scenario was recently copied in TC’s latest epic “Mission Impossible III.” Only in that movie, a mini-bomb is shot up the nostrils into the brain.

Why tell you all of this? Because sometime last night, some evil force embedded a large muskie lure (you know, the ones with the extra big treble hooks) into my right lung and tied the other end of the string to that little “hangy-down thing” at the back of my throat so that when I cough it feels like my lung is being pulled inside out by giant fishhooks.

It’s a good thing I don’t have a pistol or I would have shot myself by now. I am leery of trying the shotgun with the “toe-in-the-trigger” technique thinking that it would be really bad if my aim was off at all.

Looking on the good side of things – both kids will be gone for the next two nights so I won’t have to try to come up with nutritional recipes involving yogurt and celery (the only things left in the refrigerator – besides beer). I can simply lay in bed and fish for lung bits.

If I survive the night, I’ll share the best parts with you tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sniff, Snort, Sneeze

I am officially a whining, sniveling, dripping, wheezing, sicko. I have “the bug.” I think I caught it from the internet. Or maybe one of my children. I don’t know.

What I do know is that none of us are sleeping around here. For the second time in a week, J has gotten up in the middle of the night and started preparing to go to school. Last night it was at about 2 AM. Last night, and on the previous occasion when he did this, I also woke up at about the same time. This is not so surprising in that my bedroom is on top of his and it is not too difficult to hear him moving around. I don’t remember any of that, but it makes for a less than restful night for both of us.

K also has been complaining of not being able to sleep well. She says she has a cold too. J always sounds like he has a cold these days as his voice is going through “the change.” What a household we are.

I don’t see how I can be sick this week. There is too much to do. Today I must bake bread. Tomorrow is a doctor appointment. Thursday is another doctor appointment and school conferences for both kids. Friday I check into an insane asylum. Just kidding, I am already living there.

Then there is all the stuff that needs doing that isn’t already on the official calendar. Food shopping, cooking, cleaning, taxes, car repair, etc. So, you see, I can’t afford this sick business.

I did come across one of those sure-fire cures for the common cold yesterday though and since I found it on the internet, it must be true. I have appended it below for your consideration.



I've got a very very bad cold at the moment, but, at the same time, I don't wont to take any medicine unless absolutely necessary, so here's my ancient fast remedy for a bad cold:

2 slices of bread
1 entire garlic
butter or margarine
freshly ground pepper
fresh parsley.

Peel and crush the garlic. Put a THICK slice of margarine or butter on both slices of bread, to the very edge of the slice. Cover both slices with ground pepper, then coat both slides with thinly chopped parsley. Put the crushed garlic on one slice, over it with the other slice.

Have a glass of your favorite cold drink on standby. An extremely fizzy lemonade will work miracles. Make sure there's plenty of room for you to move around in, do not eat it sitting down. Take the first bite, as soon as you feel the hit, eat the rest of the sandwich as quickly as possible. Run around a bit if you must, but don't give up, eat it all. Once eaten, rinse with your favorite drink.

Once your mouth, nose, eyes and ears have settled down, have a hot drink, and you'll notice that you feel 100% better all ready. Repeat the next day if necessary, however, normally, it only needs one course.

There are some issues with this home-style medicine though: Do not take it 1 hour before going to the opera, the movies, or, for that matter, out. If at all possible, sleep in the furthest room in your place, or perhaps the balcony, the first night. By the end of the second day, the garlic smell will stop permeating through your skin and you'll become socially acceptable again.

Some explanations: The parsley helps take the sting out of the garlic. The thick layer of butter/margarine helps protect your mouth from the garlic. The pepper helps in clearing the airways.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Grumble, grumble, grumble

Grrr-rickty-frack-frack-shit-piss-fuck. No paper again.

Everyone needs a special time of day when certain rituals can be performed in peace. You know the ones. Some are common to us all. Some are just yours. One of mine is reading the paper at the kitchen table with a mug of fresh hot coffee and the dog for company.

This little ritual takes place in the dark at this time of year. I usually rise about six and take the dog out and walk down the long driveway while she has time to do her business. Out next to the road is our mailbox/batting practice target. Underneath the traditional black metal box is a little wooden cavity designed to hold the morning paper. In the five years I have lived here, I can count the times the paper was not there on one hand.

Yesterday was one of those days and a completely understandable situation it was too. We were in the grips of a big winter storm that was dumping tons of snow everywhere and the plows had come by so many times that the snow bank was partially covering the newspaper nest, plus the banks were so wide that a car driving by would be too far away to stick a paper in there. This was not an insolvable problem however. In the past, the newspaper had been hung on the mailbox lid in a plastic bag or thrown into our driveway or even delivered to our door.

Well, I went back to the house grumbling and knew that the day would feel off-balance now for good. I sat down with my coffee and read the "News of the Weird" from yesterday's paper. Two hours and one snow-cleared driveway later, I agian checked for the paper. Still no joy. OK, time to call. Put in the call to the phone robot saying I didn't get my paper and please send one out. Robot said OK.

That has worked in the past, but not yesterday. Called again at 5 PM and the robot gave me over to an organic clone who promised me a special delivery right away. Nada. OK, fuck that, open the wine, get out the DVD's.

I rose this morning to a beautiful clear blue sky with the sun just starting to peak over the hills through the trees, put the water on, got the dog, trekked out to the mailbox, now easily accessible due to diligent snow blowing and bank trimming and NO FUCKING PAPER. Gaaaaa.

Back into the house and no more mister nice guy. Called the rag, got a nice young woman who listened to my politely worded rant on customer dissatisfaction and who promised a special delivery withing an hour. I said bring yesterday's too. She said she would try. The hour is now up. Anyone want to bet on what I will find if I get up from the table and walk out to the end of the driveway? Drum roll please. Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Fuck. Nothing. They are dicking with me. My faith in the system is gone. I'm going to stop voting. No more shaving either. Bathing - forget it. Why even get out of bed? Maybe I'll just turn into a giant insect and crawl around upside down in my bedroom.

I know what it is. It's that Christmas tip I didn't give. That's what it is. What are you supposed to do? Put cash in an envelope and stick it out there and hope that no one picks it up before the paper person gets it at 5 AM? I don't know. But I am paying the price for my dithering now.

Sigh, one more of life's pleasures taken away. Just shoot me - please. Or at least get me another cup of coffee.