Thursday, April 21, 2005

I'm Houston Bound & Tim's Coming Home

I'm on my way to see my sister and brother-in-law tomorrow morning. He's through with the bone marrow transplant and now only time will tell if it has been successful.

Today is my brother Tim's last official day in Iraq. He should be home with his loving wife in about a week or so.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Poor Woman

Originally uploaded by Marinade Dave.
I was talking to a friend of mine in New Jersey recently. She had a pretty interesting story to tell and wanted an opinion from a male point of view. I've known her a very long time.

She's been dating this guy for 2-3 years. I don't know him. She has a son in his early twenties. Her son decided to place a Yahoo! personal ad. Not being as savvy as older, more experienced men, well, he decided to read what older, more experienced men were writing to learn some lines before penning his own. Scrolling through Yahoo! personals, lo and behold, guess what? He stumbled upon an entry by her "of course I love you" boyfriend.

Of course he showed his mother. Of course she confronted him. Of course he denied it. It was some kind of terrible joke by one of his friends or a rotten thing to do by someone who was trying to get even with him for something he had done. I asked her if she believed him. She said she didn't know what to think. He was so adamant about it. I said, don't you think this jokester or rotten "friend" would have made something up that was more negative than positive? I mean, don't you think he would have said he was gay and written from that point of view? I found it at Yahoo! and it was all this typical personal ad mushy stuff about liking children, boating, fine dining and that kind of puke. Sounded pretty sincere to me. Where did his picture come from? Why would one of his friends or enemies write something that would benefit him in any way? Why would a friend try to set him up with other women if he wasn't going to be there to respond? Besides, someone had to pay for it to be active. Suppose what he said was true, who would meet this dream date, him or his friend? Then she would see it wasn't him. I couldn't find any logical way out of the mess, you know, guy to guy support.

She asked me what she should do. I said I wasn't into messing around with an already messy situation. But, I did give her one bit of advice. I told her to place a personal ad on Yahoo! Heck, I'll even find a picture of a sweet looking babe. In a bikini. Just the right age, size and haircolor. I said, write a description you know he'll respond to. I mean, who knows him better than you? Or respond to his. How much is it going to cost? Do a little chit chat for a while and decide to meet somewhere like a Bennigan's. That seems to be a safe place to "meet" someone "new." When he walks in, he'll be in for quite a surprise. Serves him right.

I haven't talked to her for a little while, so I don't know what is going on. My guess is he finally fessed up and she forgave him. Stupid. Oh well, but hey, he sounded like a nice guy in his personal ad. It must be true. Any woman out there looking for some type of soulmate not into lying or playing games? Add a comment here and I'll pass it on to her. See if he's still available.

Monday, April 18, 2005

BM-Day For Bud

Tomorrow is bone marrow day. It will come in the form of a blood transfusion. No thick needles into his bones. He won't feel a thing. It should take about 8 hours to complete. Then, the real finger crossing begins. Will the host cells like him or will they attack him like some sort of pariah? Time will tell. Not much time, either.

I leave for Houston Saturday morning, from Orlando. My best friend Stewart and I are driving. And he has to come up from around Port Charlotte, leaving his wife behind for a week. We have been best friends for 38 years. He's about as much family as I am. This will be a welcome and comforting sight for Bud and, especially, my sister, Maggie.

We take nothing but hopes and prayers with us.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Beefy King

Beefy King
Originally uploaded by Marinade Dave.
Years ago, I was a hardline artist for an ad agency here in Orlando. I also designed and built ads for a department store chain that ran in various newspapers throughout the state. Previous to that job I was mostly in the restaurant business. Soon after I started working there, I saw a sort of fast food place up the street called Beefy King. Since I had come from a background in that industry, I thought it would be nice to meet these people. We soon became good friends.

One of the interesting, if not quirky, aspects of my job was break time. My boss insisted that we all come in at 8:30 in the morning, but we had to take a break from 9 to 10. Strange, but that was the way it was. Pretty much every morning I would drive up the street to Beefy King, make myself a sandwich and pour a cup of coffee. Sometimes I'd help slice meats or whatever, but most of the time I'd stand at the front counter reading the newspaper. They weren't open that early, so I wasn't getting in the way of customers.

One morning I went in, there was a short, chubby man working on an ice machine that had broken down. Seemed like a really nice fellow. The next morning he was still working on it. On the morning of the third day, as he was finishing up, he and the owner, Roland Smith, were standing in a hallway between the dining area and the back room, probably working out the bill. He whispered to Roland, "Hey, that guy up there. He's been here every morning just standing there reading the newspaper. What's he do for a living?"

Now, the acoustics were just right and I heard every word of it. He didn't know. Roland said, "He's a professional newspaper reader."

The guy said, "No way. There's no such thing." Roland told him to go ask me, then.

I was standing there, seriously reading my paper, acting oblivious, when he sauntered up. He very politely said, "Excuse me."

I looked up and in a face that showed great concentration, as I was very deep in my work, replied, "Yes?"

"Well, I've been here three days now and I see you reading the paper. I was just wondering what kind of job you have. What do you do for a living, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Why of course not. I'm a professional newspaper reader."

"No way. I've never heard of such a job."

"Yup. That's what I do."

"No kidding! Well, I'm from Florida. Born and raised. What's the name of the newspaper in Leesburg?"

"Which one? The Commercial or the Gazette? Plus the Orlando Sentinel has a zoned edition."

"No kidding! Alright. What about St. Augustine?"

"The St. Augustine Record."

And so it went. No matter where he asked, I had an answer. I mean, we advertised in all of those publications.

"I believe you. I think I've heard it all. I can't wait to tell my wife tonight. She's not going to believe it."

Later, Roland and I got the biggest laugh out of it. To this day, I'm sure he's still telling people about the job to stump all jobs.

One thing about the Beefy King. Having hung around there for many years, I can tell you that it is, by far, about the cleanest restaurant I've ever set foot in. You could practically eat off the floors. Really good food, too. The same family has owned it since 1968, with the third generation in charge now. If you are ever in Orlando for business or whatever, try to stop by. It's on Bumby. Tell them Marinade Dave sent you.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Last Chance To Dance

Yesterday, my brother-in-law, Bud, went into M.D. Anderson in Houston for his final chance at survival. Today, he gets a small dose of an experimental (clinical trial) form of chemo. The doctors will then monitor him to see how he reacts and to formulate what amount the final dose will be before the transplant. All of his bone marrow must be neutralized. He will be in for a month. As some of you might be aware, Bud has AML (Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.) He has been fighting this since January of 2004.

Originally, he was to receive a donor stem cell transplant. His siblings were all tested and none were considered to be viable. Fortunately, a matching donor was found. What is incredible about this donor is that he decided to donate bone marrow, too, on top of the stem cells. This is quite a nice gesture on his part, since it entails more work and pain to extract the marrow. My sister says it can take up to a week to retrieve enough. Then it must be flown in within 24 hours of the transplant. The doctors will give Bud bone marrow now instead of stem cells, which is a stronger treatment and much more beneficial than just the cells in fighting the leukemia. This man is not just out to help a little, he is out there to try to save someone's life. I wish I could thank him regardless of the outcome.

This is a one shot chance to live. It will work or it won't. The marrow transplant will be done on the 19th of this month. The first 72 hours after treatment are absolutely crucial. Since his body is pretty much in a state of nothingness at this point, the host cells have a chance to eat him up and destroy his organs. He will not have antibodies. The new cells are in total control. If these cells accept his body, then he is well on his way to recovery.

My mother is on her way to see him and my sister, Maggie. She left this morning from Orlando. I will be leaving to see them on the 23rd. I hope the news is music to my ears.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A Ghost Story?

Fleming Castle
Originally uploaded by Marinade Dave.
I received an e-mail from someone after reading my "Not About Terri Schiavo" post. The person said there is no Heaven or Hell. When you die, you're gone. Journey over. It made me think a little and I decided to respond with this post.

When I was living on Bonnell Street, in Flemington, NJ, back in the late 70s, I had several experiences that you could call strange. One night, lying in bed, I was dozing off, but awakened by the front door opening. At that time, I lived alone and my bedroom was the first one up the stairs. I heard footsteps, like female footsteps, not heavy, walk across the room and start up the stairs. I was sure I had locked the door. I waited until the steps came almost to the top. There was no way I was going to let an intruder near me. I jumped out of bed and at the same time I turned on the light switch, I kicked into the air at my target. There was no one there. OK. The possibility of it being a dream was true, but, I've never dreamed like that. I wasn't on drugs. When I was awake, I still heard the footsteps coming up. I heard the door open. I was scared and quite alert. What was it? I don't know. When I first moved in, I heard voices coming from the kitchen a couple of times. It stopped whenever I entered the room. No one was outside talking. Those, I just ignored. Thought nothing of it. Until...

When I started seeing Maryen, but before she moved in, we were going out for the night to hear a friend, Ken Yard play in a band in Easton, PA. Ken and his girlfriend, Nancy were living with me at that time. They had left hours earlier. We stopped at Maryen's and then mine to get changed. While I was in the bedroom looking through my dresser, Maryen went down the hall to the bathroom. She left the door open. The downstairs door opened and up the stairs walked a female. I assumed Nancy had come back for something because she walked right into their bedroom. They should have been hours away. When Maryen came to my room, she said that Nancy was home. I said, yes, I know, I heard her. When I had glanced out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shadow walk by. Maryen saw the same thing. I yelled, Hi, Nancy! There was no answer. We walked into their room. No one was there. I looked under the bed and in the closet. Nothing. I would have shrugged it off again, but, Maryen heard and saw the same thing as I did. I had never brought up the notion of spirits in the house to her before. I mean, we hadn't been together that long. I didn't want her to think I was crazy. Was that strange? Or were we? We never experienced anything again.

About a year or so later, I ran into an author and locally renowned historion on Flemington and Hunterdon County. When I told her of my incidents, I piqued her interest. She researched the address. Later, she told me a seven year old girl had drowned in a well out back hundreds of years ago. The well was long gone. At one time, the house was part of the Fleming Castle estate, most likely a barn, erected after the castle was built in 1756.

I had always been skeptical about ghosts until those experiences. I can't say for sure that I believe in them, but, I won't say that I don't, either. I think what I'm trying to say, is that, if there is even a remote possibility of the existence of apparitions, then there is also that chance of an afterlife.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Not About Terri Schiavo

I had the good fortune of seeing some very close friends over the weekend. They have a son they took to Universal Studios and Disney World. Since I live here in the Orlando area, I went with them. Their son, Ryan, who is 24, is mentally challenged, to be politically correct. Very much so.

One thing that's true about people with his mentality. They are so innocent. A really great guy and extremely people oriented, but, he'd walk around naively naked if no one told him to get dressed. It kind of makes me think about the Schaivo case. Take a woman who had virtually no brain function left, and a guy like Ryan, who was born with very limited mental faculties. Suppose Terri Schiavo, or someone with a condition like hers, being the result of an injury, at any age, never had a chance to formulate their religious beliefs. Ryan has no concept of any type of supreme being just by the inherent nature of his mind. You can't teach him. He, and many like him, are babes in the woods. Do these people have no chance to go to any type of heaven if there is such a thing as an afterlife? Don't tell me that God has a "special place" for the innocents. Whose God? Yours, mine or someone elses? Where, in your scriptures, does it state a "special place" where God baptizes them into Heaven? Do they go to a place reserved for the mentally challenged? Or do they lose that handicap?

What happens, if a teenager, who might have been brought up in a religious and/or structured family, does typical teenage things, like swearing, drinking, smoking and generally becomes rebellious and antisocial? There is that 16 going on 30 thing, you know. Then they die before having a chance to become an adult and really formulate their opinions. You don't know what positive or negative influence they might have had on life. What happens to them? Hell? They still had the mind of a child.

At what point are "mind-less" people acceptable to God? Who is authorized to answer these complex and moral questions? Religious leaders always seem to have the answers that suit their own desires and beliefs, though. For example, why is it better to err on the side of life as you are condoning the death penalty? I'm not questioning that or the right to die. I just wonder who is qualified to answer for God.

I do know, though, that Ryan, Terri Schiavo and all like them will always have a "special place" in my heart.