Friday, January 06, 2006

Friday wrap-up...

Sheesh... what a week this has turned out to be...

On Wednesday, as I believe I mentioned already, Jessi had a doctor appointment to find out why she's been so sick lately. From her symptoms, the doctor (he's my doctor, too) thought she might have a stomach ulcer, and the Nexium he prescribed seemed to help by Thursday. But to be safe, he did take some blood to get a work-up done.

On Thursday morning, Jessi got a call from his office saying that her blood sugar was off the charts, for all intents and purposes... 432 was the number, way beyond normal. This seemed to be an indicator that she developed diabetes, and a follow-up appointment was made for today.

This time, I accompanied Jessi to the doctor. At 8, they took some blood again (she had to fast since about 8 Thursday night), then we got some coffee while waiting for the results. At 9, we saw the doctor again, and the blood sugar was down to about 97, at the upper end of normal, but normal nonetheless. The doc figured that the result from Wednesday must've been a lab error. We went home, and Jessi went off to work.

Things were calm for a bit after that. I went to the comic shop and picked up what had been held for me over the past five or six weeks (two issues of TEEN TITANS GO! and an issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL -- both great reads, Issue #3 of INFINITE CRISIS, which I'll have to read again, maybe after re-reading #1 and #2, and post how I feel about that -- and the DAY OF VENGEANCE special, which was better than expected. Oh, and I also got CRISIS ON MULTIPLE EARTHS - THE TEAM-UPS, which is full of great stuff, and I'm almost through reading it, plus SHOWCASE PRESENTS JLA). I also talked to Gabi about her advertising in the newspaper again, with me being the guardian of the account, so that I'd be the only one to work on her ads. She was receptive to the idea, and after I got to work, I let the sales rep know, so the ball can start rolling on that.

On the way to work, I stopped at the grocery store and got some Diet Dew and a sandwich, since I hadn't had anything yet except coffee, and ate and drank and read some of the comics before going in to work.

Work was going fairly well -- I managed to stay fairly busy -- but Jessi called me with the news that she had to have an emergency ultrasound. Seems further testing indicated liver problems! I arranged to meet her for that appointment at my lunch break. However, things took so long that by the time we were done, there wasn't any point in going back to work -- I'll use some sick hours to cover the time away.

The results of the ultrasound were that she has severe gallstones... and as we learned later, she'll have to have her gall bladder removed.

But while we waited for that bit of news, we were both starving. Neither of us had eaten enough, so we ran out to Red Robin and pretty much gorged ourselves -- she had one of the Royal Red Robin burgers, I had the Sour Cream Ranch Chicken Burger -- and then went to Linens & Things.

Linens & Things was the next stop because Jessi's "adoptive parents" gave us a gift card to there for Christmas, and we'd been wanting to get slip covers for our couch and love seat (which were looking pretty bad). We found some denim ones that were on clearance, and the card covered most of that -- I paid for the rest as part of Jessi's birthday present, as she'd already told me that's what she really wanted from me more than anything else.

We got home, and I started putting the slip covers on the couch and love seat when she heard from the doctor.

So, Monday morning, we'll be meeting with the surgeon. I don't know when the surgery will be -- indications seem to be it'll happen sometime next week.

We were originally going to have Jessi's birthday party on Saturday, but that was put off until next Saturday due to her not feeling well. Given that she may be having surgery next week, it'll be rescheduled again for the following Saturday -- or two weeks from tomorrow.

So... a few results of all this:

1) Neither of us are likely to have a good Weight Watchers week, I'm afraid. We'll have to wait and see.

2) I am really, really fighting hard not to completely freak out about all this.

Some of you may not know the story of what happened to my wife, Barbara. She, too, had been experiencing abdominal pain for some time, but her doctor only did one test at a time... and her pain kept getting worse and worse. Finally, it got so bad, we took her to the emergency room, where they realized what was wrong (a sub-dermal necrosis -- like a flesh-eating virus), and rushed her into emergency surgery. I wasn't told much about what was going on, like how long the recovery would be, or anything, really. Barbara went into the ICU after that, and had more surgeries and other treatments, and didn't become conscious again for two or three weeks.

Barbara spent a total of four months in the hospital trying to recover from all this -- and she had been diagnosed with diabetes just before going into the hospital, plus she was very much overweight, and had other health issues, as well.

She finally came home after that four months... and a week to the day after she was back home, her heart and breathing stopped. Paramedics took so long to get there and get her heart and breathing restarted that there was permanent brain damage. Her body was alive, but she was gone. I knew her wishes were not to be kept alive via a machine if there was no quality of life, so after contacting our families, I had her taken off the respirator. Accompanied by my parents, my brother Jeff, and Barbara's sister Anne, we stood vigil at her bedside from Friday morning until Monday morning, when her body quit again.

Needless to say, it was the worst experience in my life... and one I don't wish to experience again in any way.

Thanks to all that, I have a severe distaste for hospitals... and trust issues with the medical profession. I've been in a hospital three times since then. The first was when this psycho woman I was dating thought she needed to go to the emergency room, and the wait was going to be so long she decided against it. The second was when I was up for the job I have, and I had to go to the hospital for the drug testing (and if I didn't want that job so badly, I would've passed for that reason alone). The last time was when I was in so much pain that Jessi took me to the emergency room.

And now, I'm looking at going to the hospital again, accompanying Jessi, for her surgery.

Like I said, I'm desperately trying not to freak out.

I'll admit it... I'm scared, and I know it's irrational. Gall bladder surgery is not that complicated, it's done thousands of times every day, and Jessi knows many people who've been through it with no problems.

Intellectually, I know it shouldn't be a problem. Emotionally... that's a whole other issue.

The stress I'm feeling is such that there's no way I can possibly quit smoking until the surgery is done, and she's recovered from it, and things are back to what passes for normal with us.

Jessi's biggest concern with all this is how we'll afford to pay for all this. That's the least of my worries, but it will be expensive -- her health insurance really sucks, and unfortunately, we can't hurry up and get married so she'll be on my much better health insurance, because this is now a pre-existing condition, and it wouldn't be covered anyway. I've wondered if maybe I should consider adding a PayPal tip link here, but I don't believe I have enough readers to make that worth while.

I'll try to post updates as we find out more information... but if at some point, there's another period of several days where I don't post anything, I hope you'll be patient with me.



Thursday, January 05, 2006

Iron Man Musings

OK, so as I've said, I recently re-read THE ESSENTIAL IRON MAN Vol. 1, and there are things I've noticed that I didn't pay much attention to before… there are also things I've thought more about than I did before. So, I'm going to look over the IM stories from TALES OF SUSPENSE and offer a few thoughts on them.

Let's start with TALES OF SUSPENSE #39, with the origin of Iron Man. As you can see by these panels, Tony Stark's known for his amazing transistors


Pay attention to this… because this is about the only time transistors are used correctly in the entire run!

What is a transistor? A transistor is a three-terminal active semiconductor device that provides current amplification. A bipolar transistor is comprised of base, emitter and collector and is a current-controlled device with a low input impedance. A field-effect transistor has gate, source, and drain electrodes and is a high-impedance, voltage controlled device. The first transistor was invented at Bell Laboratories in 1947 by physicists John Bardeen, William B. Shockley and Walter Brattain, who shared the 1956 Nobel Prize for jointly inventing the transistor, a solid-state device that could amplify electrical current. The transistor performed electronic functions similar to the vacuum tube in radio and television, but was far smaller and used much less energy. The transistor became the building block for all modern electronics and the foundation for microchip and computer technology.

OK, the above paragraph I got from a webpage somewhere, which I've been negligent about noting... anyway... pretty much everywhere from this point on, Tony Stark (as well as the narrator and everyone else) refers to "transistor-powered" stuff all over the place. And obviously, transistors don't power anything.

Now, one could easily make the argument that Stan Lee and the other writers of early Iron Man stories just didn't know what they were talking about, and let it go at that... but you know, I have to think that in order to "play fair," one should take things pretty much at face value in the stories. After all, there's plenty of other oddness in these stories that isn't easily explained, especially when it comes to Iron Man's armor!

So... let's just say that somehow, Tony Stark created transistors that do, somehow, power stuff. Or maybe he created something else, but didn't know what to call it, so he calls it transistors.

Do I speak blasphemy? Well, perhaps, if you take your comics way, way too seriously (like I don't?). But I have another explanation.

Tony Stark is sort of an idiot savant... perhaps a much better-functioning one than the movies' Rain Man... His particular uncontrolled genious is with technology, but (as you'll see), it goes to other areas as well.

Let's face it... there's so much stuff that Tony does with this armor that isn't easily explained... that I'm left with the theory that maybe, just maybe, Tony doesn't really know how he creates this stuff... and can barely explain it to anyone else! Perhaps there's a whole group of scientists at Stark's factory whose job it is to figure out just what the heck Tony created, and how to re-create it!

Don't believe me? Well, let's look at the armor itself... remember, it is able to collapse and be stored in a standard-sized briefcase.


That's pretty much the way it was always presented, right? And despite the unlikelihood of this being possible... there's also the additional gadgets that were somehow stored inside the suit:


Heck, that's a pretty thick-looking magnet... and how the heck does one fold up that to make it smaller? For that matter... three of 'em?


Here's another random image... of Tony in the original armor...


And the chestplate -- which isn't removed, but must stay worn all the time -- isn't detectable when Tony puts his street clothes on over it. Yeah, right... it just doesn't make sense...

Unless, somehow, Tony unwittingly designed it so that it somehow shrinks around him when he's putting on a shirt and jacket over it! Heck, just compare it to this shot...


Maybe he just designed it to somehow "inflate" when he puts the sleeves on it? It's obviously not as bulky here as it was in the previous shot!

And if all that doesn't make sense... consider this page here... which shows all the other stuff that Tony's involved with:


I think this was about the only time there were claims made of Tony's expertise being in so many disciplines... but let's again say that it's accurate. It fits my theory, you see... at this point, Tony's involved with so many different sciences, I don't think he could separate them from each other... so it would be some time before he could come to grips with what he was actually creating and put it in terms that made sense!

More weirdness... how does one attach transistors to mirrors to accomplish this?


(and why does Tony hesitate when someone pulls the same trick on him later? So annoying when a trick you use once is copied by your arch-villain, eh?)


Let's not forget the gadgetry that doesn't even look like it could work...


I mean, it's a giant pair of scissors that lets him drill through the earth? And where the heck are those stored? Maybe they're next to his X-Ray Specs?


Or on the other side of these attachments?


These never made sense to me... how does Tony steer when he's plummeting down a hill like this? For that matter, how does he see? No wonder later on he just added skates to his boots.

Anyway... all these gadgets, which all stored in this bulky suit of armor... and I think after a while, Tony focused enough on technology that even he realized how unlikely this all was...


Yep.... this suit of armor, when worn, was way too heavy and bulky, and put a strain on his heart. But apparently, when it's folded up into the attache case, it isn't that much of a strain?

I mean... if it's such a strain to wear, it must weigh, what, 200 lbs? Let's say 75 lbs. of that is the chestplate... that leaves 125 lbs. to be stored in the briefcase (you want my estimated figures? Let's say 25 lbs. for each arm and glove combo, 40 lbs for the legs, and 20 lbs for the helmet. That's probably a conservative estimate). So, when he put his suit in the briefcase, he's carrying 125 lbs in one hand. How he even carried that around is beyond me -- unless it somehow became less heavy when he stored it (also note that despite the bulkiness of this armor, the attache case is no thicker than the later one used for the various red-and-gold armors).

So, perhaps he realized how unlikely this was, and redesigned the armor... while still creating gadgets like this one:


Yep, it's a ray that does one thing: reshapes clay into a single shape. Did it come with inserts to change the shape? And why didn't he give one of these to every super-hero who might run into the Puppet Master?

And the armor may be less bulky... but Tony's still storing crap in there that there couldn't possibly be room for... like his famous magnets:


Yep, it's the beginning of the end for Tony's idiot savant days... even he's starting to realize that he doesn't "know" what he's creating as seen here:


He can't re-create this gadget -- just because the wires are "fused" he can't re-create it or figure out how it works (although later, he creates another one-time gadget that only destroys this thing).

But I think it's at this point that Tony's focusing all his work on technology, and actually starts to learn how he's doing this stuff.

Although even if that's so... even I can't figure out why Tony would have a duplicate chestplate in his attache case so when this guy steals it and opens it up, he'd have a complete Iron Man suit!


So... do I have a conclusion for all this, after all the build-up as you've been waiting for me to post this?

Well... it's been fun for me to think about how all this stuff could've been accurate as presented... in reality, one has to disregard it all... unless one figures that Tony's a mutant or something... and that is something I refuse to consider!


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Finally.. a post of substance!

Wow... time sure can get away from one's self sometimes, can't it?

The week's proving to be rather interesting... in both the good and bad sense of the word. For instance...

eBay auctions

Put up some additional items... a few loose DC Direct figures for fixed price (all four of which sold in about 24 hours, which tells me I probably seriously underpriced them), the Ditko Collection Vol. 2 (sold at the Buy It Now price, which I didn't seriously expect to get). There's a few other comics items up, as well, and about eight or nine cookbooks, which I've thrown out there to test the waters.

You see, I've got all these cookbooks that I don't ever use... and they just take up space. So I figured, why not see if there's a market for them? It may take a little time to figure out what price they will sell at, though.

Still maintaining 100% positive feedback... although a recent feedback griped about the condition of the books, while still leaving positive feedback. Apparently, they didn't read in the auction description or in the email I sent when I shipped their stuff that they should contact me before leaving feedback if there's any issue with their purchase... I have always maintained that if the customer isn't 100% happy, I should do what I need to do to make 'em happy. Sometimes, that means sending them a complete refund (when they return items), sometimes that means a partial refund to make it right. But I won't refund even a penny if they've already left feedback.

And so it goes.


So, Sunday is Jessi's birthday... and we'd been planning on having her birthday party on Saturday. Unfortunately, she's been feeling rather sick the past four or five days, and today she finally went to see the doctor, who prescribed Nexium to see if the problem is a stomach ulcer, or if it's something worse. If she's not feeling better by Friday, we'll be having to contact those we invited so we can reschedule the party for the following weekend.

I really, really, really hope this doesn't get worse, and that after a day or two of Nexium, she's back to her normal self again. I don't want to have to go through a repeat of what I went through with Barbara... because, my friends, I'm not sure I can deal with all that a second time.

The Iron Man essay

In the comics area... I've been working on scans for the promised Iron Man essay here and there... it's taken a bit more work than I expected at first, so I may end up posting it in segments. Stay tuned!


Been trying to quit smoking... again. Not too successfully, though. Yesterday, I had four cigarettes, and I've had the same today. Which is, I suppose, a lot of progress, given I was a pack-a-day smoker. But it's still not quite the goal.

I'll keep you posted on that, as well.

Weight loss

Along with trying to quit smoking comes the inevitable bad food choices... as if I hadn't been making enough bad ones as it is! I keep finding myself snacking on larger quantities of stuff than I should be... even healthy snacks aren't so healthy if one eats too many of 'em!

And then, there's the leftovers I've been trying to finish off while Jessi's been sick. Did I mention we made pork and sauerkraut for New Year's Day? That's a Mennonite tradition for January 1, and Jessi really wanted to have it, so we found a recipe, and I made it (I can't help but wonder if that might've had something to do with her getting sick, but I could well be mistaken). I had that for lunch and dinner today, and it's nearly all gone... the healthier (or, at least, better-tasting to my tastes) chili I made the day before that is lasting quite a bit longer than I expected, since it was less expensive to make than the pork -- which is why I've eaten more pork and sauerkraut than chili lately (and isn't that a bad combination to think of!).

Currently Reading

Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 1 -- which will no doubt be followed by Vol. 2 and 3! hopefully, by the time I've read those, I'll have not only replaced Essential Avengers Vol. 1 (which I sold a few years back), I'll have picked up other Essential Avengers volumes beyond #3 -- and did Marvel ever do an Essential FF Vol. 4?


Just a short post...

To let you know that I should be posting an update Wednesday morning.... and if I miss out on posting then, it'll be Wednesday night! Been doing some more eBay postings (this time around, it's a few cookbooks to test the waters there).