One Day at a Time

It’s been an interesting week, that’s for sure. Let me fill you in on a little of the back story before I jump right into the present. A couple weeks ago, my father was feeling rather ill. He couldn’t keep food down and his stomach was hurting. He went to the doctors, had a couple scans and it seemed to indicate that he had a small intestinal blockage. Those of you who remember what my father-in-law went through might find this strangely ironic, or frighteningly similar, one of the two. Anyway, they did a colonoscopy to see what was blocking the intestines and said he had a small (non-cancer looking) pollop. They scheduled a fairly routine surgery, to be done laproscopically, for last Friday. As they started the surgery, the surgeon didn’t like what he was finding. Apparently, not shown on the initial scans, was a large mass hidden behind the pollop. They went ahead with a normal incision surgery, removed the pollop, the large mass, and the section of affected intestine. They closed everything up and sent the mass off to the lab to be analysed.

That’s how we got the bad news on Monday. The mass tested positive for cancer, which they’re classifying as Stage 3 because it had apparently spread to the surrounding lymphnodes (which were also removed and tested positive). Stage 3 means that it was one specific place (colon, liver, lungs, etc) but is now spreading.

The good news is that, while open for the surgery and having the foresight to check, the surgeon checked the other common locations for spots. According to him (and the scans) places like the liver, lungs, kidneys, etc, all seem to check out ok. They didn’t find any spots or questionable tissue.

So, what does this mean? Well, it means essentially that it had just started to spread and they caught it. More tests will be needed to confirm that, but that was the general thought of his doctors. Of course, we haven’t talked to the cancer specialists yet. That meeting is set for Monday. We’ll see what they have to say and what treatment they recommend going forward.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not actually in NH at the moment. I’m still here in Houston. All this was garnered by rounds and rounds of phone calls and probably ridiculous phone bills. I had fully planned to go up the instant I heard, but air travel is so retardedly expensive that a last minute plane ticket would have cost upwards of $900. I know that might not seem like a lot, but I have about $20 in the bank at the moment.

The plan, as I’ve discussed it with the family, is for my brother to be there this weekend and that we’ll trade off weekends in the future. I’ll probably plan on coming up either next weekend or, depending on what the doctors advise for a treatment, whenever the chemo starts, whichever comes first.

I wish terribly I could be up there with them. I still feel guilty for not being there at my grandfathers funeral about 5 years ago and I’m really torn up about this.

This is really the one time a family should really come together. I wish I could blame the airlines alone, but not having an emergency fund is my own fault. This is precisely the reason to have one, before anything else.

Personally, I was really pretty shaken this week. I was a wreck Monday and Tuesday. After lots of discussion, uplifting words from Lauren and from you guys, now I’m feeling better about it.

His chances are very good that this will be merely a bump in the road. He’s very healthy, in great shape and not showing any signs of infection anywhere else. With luck, the chemo shouldn’t be very long and he can get on with a normal life shortly.

It’s funny, I know things don’t always make sense when they first happen, but in the end, they start to come together. Things happen for a reason. We may not get that at the time, but they do. Usually they happen to make us strong people, I really believe that. After this entire year, I think as a husband and as a man, I’m a much stronger person than I was 12 months ago.

Thank you all for your support. As always, I’m astounded by the awesome friends I have. You guys are the best.

I’ll let you know when I head up to New England, maybe a couple of us could get together for a drink or two.

Matt out.

LAN Party

So, next weekend, all the ladies in our church are going to a women’s retreat until Saturday night. That means just one thing. LAN Party!

I’ve got a good sized group of guys coming over Friday afternoon for some gaming and we don’t plan on stopping until the girls get back the next day.

So far we’ve got PC’s, a couple monitors, 3 Xbox 360’s with 2+ controllers each, multiple TVs, a couple cases of beer and the pizza place on speed dial.

I’d like to some how take it to the next level, maybe set up a sound system with some techno going, or bring in some lights. I’d also like to borrow a projector from the office and maybe do some 120″ wall-gaming.

Ideally I think I’m going to need to find one more Xbox 360, one more copy of Halo 3 and CoD 5 and perhaps 2 copies of Left 4 Dead. That would give us an even number of everything across the board. Problem is the guy with the 4th Xbox will out of town and all three of those games are still $50 or more retail. So, renting becomes an option, at least until I realized there really isn’t a place to rent current-gen video game systems. I think both Blockbuster and Hollywood Video stopped the practice a long time ago and I don’t know what other options are out there.

So, now I’m looking around to see if any of our other friends in the area that have 360’s would let me borrow them, or if they would like to come, but if they come then I’d need to add another TV and another copy of the games.

It’s really kind of aggravating that there are so few multiplayer Xbox 360 games that support heavy LAN play. Halo 3 is only game that I can find that supports non-Xbox Live account multiplayer, meaning more than one person per console. With Halo 3 you can have up to four players, per console, with a maximum of four consoles (for a grand total of 16 person LAN play). Every other game that supports LAN play, is one person per console only. So, you can play Call of Duty or Gears of War with four other people, but you need 4 Xboxes, 4 TVs and 4 copies of the game. If everyone had the same taste in games maybe this wouldn’t be a problem but I’ve got guys who like WWII shooters but not zombies, zombies but not Nazis, Madden but not shooters, we’re all over the place.

Anyway, we’ll figure it out. I’m sure, even if we have to trade off every other round, that we’ll have a good time.

I’ve got two 1000ft boxes of Cat5 cable and I’m busy running long stretches of it across the house. I’ve got a 24-port switch and a 6 port to back it up in case it doesn’t work. This is going to be a good one.

I’m slowly trying to get all these guys, who have never really gamed before, into the sport. So far they all seem to enjoy it. My goal is that by this time next year, I’m planning a 30+ person LAN throw-down. I can’t wait.

Matt out.

The Fun Never Stops

Just wanted to give everyone a quick update. I’m sure most of you remember that my father-in-law was in the hospital last year with a very complicated bowel resection surgery. I haven’t really talked about it since, but it’s been ongoing since April of 2008. It’s now been an entire year and, provided his current surgery from last week was successful, he’ll need yet one more surgery in the near future to finally be done. His bowels have been operated on at least 8 times now, the actual number is hard to figure since there have been so many “minor” surgeries in between major ones.

Currently, he’s at home, trying to rest but going a little stir-crazy.

If that were the only thing going on we’d be lucky.

My mother-in-law, at some point around Christmas (no one is really sure), started acting strangely. In an ongoing debate as to what happened, multiple doctors have gone back and forth in between diagnoses of either a very large stroke or the onset of some form of dementia. Her reasoning and logic skills have taken a major step backwards while her motor skills, speech and daily functioning remain relatively untouched. She can do all the normal day to day things like get dressed, make food, watch TV, etc, but is unable to grasp higher concepts and trains of thought. She’s not disabled in any sort of way, she’s just dropped a few levels in maturity and reasoning. It’s like she’s a 12 year old trapped in a 50 year old’s body.

That’s creating quite a bit of stress for everyone, my wife especially. During the periods that my father-in-law is in the hospital, my mother-in-law is staying with us. At times it really is like taking care of a child. They don’t understand why things are a certain way. They get bits and pieces of conversations and become fixated by them. They can function, but with supervision. For example, everyone was doing their taxes the other day. She read a question from Turbo Tax that asked if she received a tax rebate last year. The fact that she didn’t and should have, in her mind, became the talking point for the next 5 days.

So, in between trips to the hospital, helping her at home, and trying to take care of ourselves, we’re also trying to help with the care for my wife’s grand-parents, both of whom are in a care facility the next town over. Things were going well with them, despite the early onset of Alsymers and the normal aging process (using a walker, being forgetful, etc). That was, until this week. The Grandmother, over Easter, seemed to be wheezing when she breathed so we decided we needed to take her to the doctor this week. Once they got to the appointment the doctor suggested we call an ambulance and take her to the ER because there was a possibility of congestive heart failure. So, rushing to the ER yesterday, and waiting until 2am to get a room at the hospital for observation, she’s now being monitored and tested. Early indications from blood work and CAT scans are positive but it’s still too early to rule anything out. We’ll find out more today.

So, three of my in-laws are suffering from some sort of medical ailments, all at the same time. We’re trying our best to help each of them out in their own right but it’s taking it’s toll, on Lauren especially.

I worry so much about her, especially about her getting run down and sick. She’s a giver, it’s one of her greatest strengths. She gives and gives and gives and tries to help everyone. It’s one of the things I love about her. Families are going to face some hard times every once in a while and it’s up to them to stick together and get through it. It’s what makes everyone stronger.

It just seems like it’s too much to handle sometimes. Her dad being sick was a large enough shock but now both her mom and her grandma are sick as well.

We’re trying our best. It’s all we can really do.

I love my wife so much, her family too, it’s hard to stay positive and keep their spirits up. I know we’ll get through all this, but I know it’s hard for them to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyway, I just wanted to give everyone an update. Take care,

Matt out.

Fantasy Baseball

Well, we had our fantasy baseball league’s draft last night. I got a number of the guys involved as well as my brother and my old man. We had a great draft and I think everyone ended up with some good players. The very first pick I made was for the entirety of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff. I have a pretty good feeling that this year they will be at least a very solid performer and at best pretty fucking fantastic. After that I was able to grab up Youk, Ortiz, and Hunter Pence, all guys I figure will have pretty big years. Not a bad lineup if I do say so myself. I’m a little weak at 3rd base and I don’t have a good backup catcher, but I think some trades could be made if needed to fill in the holes. I also picked up not only Jeter but Damon as well. I was planning on benching Damon, just on principle, but it looks like Ichiro will be on the DL for the first couple weeks, so he might get some play after all. Anyway, here’s the lineup.

We’re Alive

Well, it was a hell of a storm, but we made it through. I’m borrowing an internet connection so I’ll make this quick.

Our apartment suffered only minor damage but lost power, phone, and cable Friday night. Phone came back up first on Monday. Power on Wednesday and we’re still waiting on cable. We spent 5 days, 4 nights without power. We had enough supplies to make it until Tuesday when we moved ourselves to Friendswood which had power.

Our house in Friendswood, somehow, survived. The street and most of that town looks like a war-zone. Trees are down everywhere. It looks like someone marched across the area in tanks and randomly shot up houses. Streets were flooded until Tuesday when the water went back down. The house itself was surrounded by trees and every single one of them fell down, thankfully into the street and not ONTO the house itself. We’re missing a shingle or two and there was a ton of debris, but it faired ok.

The in-laws house wasn’t so lucky. The large pine tree in the front yard fell onto the top of the house. It was removed and roofers are estimating the roof to be a total loss. The fence along the back and sides of the property is complete gone. Non-existant. The have power and phone, so utility wise it isn’t doing so bad.

The area itself, like I said, looks like a war zone. Trees, powerlines, signs, billboards, anything over 15ft tall is basically laying in the street. Just now, on Thursday, power crews have gotten power restored to enough gas stations and grocery stores that are able to fill the need so we’re seeing the lines for food, water and gas start to shorten.

Other areas of town are just as bad or worse. Parts north of us, who should have had a signifigantly weakened storm once it made landfall, are still without power or even water.

I could go on forever, but the situation simply isn’t good. There is, at this moment, about 60% of the area without power. The latest estimate is that 60% equates to about 1.3 million people. It’s gone down from the 2.x million on Sunday.

We’re extremely lucky. Houses not far from us are completely gone, Galveston is completely gone, whole sections of the state are without power.

Life is starting to return to normal, little bits at a time. There’s a TGI Fridays that opened nearby, which was taking cash and making hamburgers for people. You should have seen the line.

I’d love to say that we’re 100% ok, but the area won’t be back to completely normal for quite some time. Businesses were really hit hard and “non-essential” things won’t be open for some time to come.

This was a real tough one, but we survived. No one was hurt and that’s the important part. Houses and fences can be repaired, people can’t.

One last thing, it bothered a lot of people down here that once we got power back and were able to turn on the news, the lead story in the national news was this financial bullshit. Houston was the #2 story. At the risk of sounding like some “victim”, this is some serious shit going on down here. People are barely hanging on. And somehow we’re #2. Sorry, but I’ve got to call that out. I’d love to see some Wall St. types try and live through something like this.

Anyway, I just wanted to give everyone an update. We’re alive, we made it, and we’re fixing and getting back to normal. My office will be closed until Monday, so that’s when I’ll be back in the office with (possible) internet and I’ll give everyone another update then.

Matt out.


So, last night, the demo guy assures us that he’s almost done and that he’ll come back and finish up in the morning. Not a big deal, that sounds ok to me, but I go over to check on the job anyways, mostly because I’m the curious sort. Turns out that instead of using a scraper like any normal person would, he decided to pour an acid on the floor to remove the old glue that was underneath the linoleum. Hydrochloric Acid!


When I arrived I knew something was wrong. All the kitchen windows were open and I could smell the fumes from the street. This was also a big problem because it rained at 3:00 that afternoon and apparently the windows had been open long before that. Everything was soaked. That wasn’t the bad part. When I walked in it was pretty apparent what they had tried to do. They got lazy and didn’t want to scrape up glue anymore and decided to go get something to eat away at it. In theory this might not have been a bad idea. Too bad we don’t live in Theory, although I hear it’s nice there. No, they went out and found Muriatic Acid, a 30% solution of Hydrochloric Acid and something else.

All over the bottle it says “Do not use indoors”, “For exterior use only”, “Will react with woods, metals and other natural materials”, “Caution, fumes are corrosive”.

Apparently they can’t read.

When I walked into the kitchen I was floored. Actually, the floor was “floored”, I was in shock. There was super corrosive acid everywhere. The counters, the cabinets, and especially on the appliances.


The brand new, $1200 refrigerator that I just had installed on Sunday was covered in acid. I could hear it sizzling and eating through the metal. It was creating huge pits in the doors to the fridge, in the washer and dryer, in the back of our also brand new freezer, everywhere.




I freaked out. I took pictures, screamed a lot, and rushed home so that we could call him and have him explain himself (I would have called him directly, but didn’t have a phone with me).

He gave us some line of bullshit about how he had done it before and it would be fine and that it wasn’t a big deal. Then we told him how it had completely ruined the fridge and all he did was offer to replace the door.



Not good enough.

I wanted to be there when he got there this morning, so my wife and I got up early and hurried down there to meet him. He was supposed to be there at 6:00am. We got there just before 8:00 and he’s nowhere to be seen. I went inside again and not only had the acid completely ruined the fridge, it’s started ruining everything else. Anything metal in the kitchen is now covered in pits and rust. The fridge, the microwave, the other appliances, the KitchenAid mixer and it’s bowl, the toaster, everything.





This is a complete and total fucking tragedy. It’s completely ruined our entire kitchen, all the appliances and probably stuff further into the house that I haven’t even discovered yet.

When we called him this morning he said he was “on his way”, which is complete BS to begin with, but he said he called a “Kenmore Parts place” and would “make it right”. He’s got one shot to make this right, and by right I mean a complete new fridge, otherwise I’m taking his ass to court.

I’ve never been so angry in my entire life. We saved and worked and saved for these things and then, 3 days after they’re in the house, they’re completely ruined by some asshole who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

I don’t have proper words for my anger. I’m literally blinded by rage. The only words I want out of his mouth are “I’m sorry, I’m going to make it right, here’s a check”. Anything short of that and he’s going to hear from my attorney. There’s not really much else I can do. He’s ruined my house. I wish there was some form of punishment allowed by the courts that could result in him getting a beating, but there’s not. All I can do is try and recoup the cost of the damages.

I lost sleep last night because I was so mad. So did Lauren. We’re both so upset that we don’t want to talk about it.

I don’t know what else to say.

It’s like I bought a brand new car, parked it in my driveway and someone slammed into it with a garbage truck.

I. Am. Pissed.