The Agony Of A Flu Shot

Flu Shots SignMy full time non-writing job is replacing computers at a hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have zero contact with patients as I go about my rounds to replace dust bunny infested computers that are years past being replaced. But, because this is a hospital, I had to get a flu shot to protect everyone else. If I haven’t, I would have to wear a mask during the flu season—or risk losing my job. Until this requirement was imposed on me, I thought peeing into a cup for a drug test was bad enough.

The first time I got a flu shot as an adult was at a company sponsored event in 2006, where we were herded into a big empty room to stand in line, fill out a form, and sit down for the shot. I made a huge scene as I became indecisive about getting a flu shot, going back and forth like a drama queen. Everyone was or laughing or smiling,  telling me that it wasn’t a big deal.

Somehow I got the shot. Somehow I made it back to my cubicle without collapsing. Somehow I caught the shuttle bus, commuter train and light rail back home without puking. Somehow I allowed a needle to pierce my skin for the first time in years.

I was in the third grade when my back went out in the late 1970’s. For whatever reason, an ambulance wasn’t called. No school nurse available. My teacher drove me over to her family doctor. An old man who seemed to specialized in two forms of treatments: requesting blood tests from a lab and sticking his index finger up my fat ass. I sometimes caught him sniffing his finger. I was too young to know if this was right or wrong.

I threw a screaming fit every time I went to the lab. Two big guys dressed in white would hold me down on the examination table. Somehow I willed myself to stay still as my blood was drawn. Every. Single. Time. I’ve been skittish about needles ever since.

As for the doctor, he retired to Florida. Another family got wind of his preferred treatment for young children and threatened to call the police if he didn’t pay them off. He got out of town just before the district attorney’s office cracked down on paid referrals between doctors and labs.

I’ve been getting a flu shot every other year since 2006. Although I don’t throw a crying fit anymore, my legs still get rubbery and I’m on the verge of passing out. I usually end up with a sore arm and a slight fever after being inoculated.

The flu shot at the hospital didn’t hurt as much as the new needles are more smaller. I did experience a wider range of side effects—soreness, fever, chill and muscle ache—after I came home and went straight to bed. Unlike the $30 USD flu shots I got at CVS, I didn’t have to pay for this one.

Mitt Romney’s Hard On Fetish For Big Bird

The references to Big Bird and PBS went over my head during the first presidential debate the other night. (I was too busy playing Tiny Tower—now at the 65th floor—at the time.) But, apparently, Mitt Romney has a real hard on fetish for Big Bird on the campaign trail. I’m shocked—shocked!—that Romney is a Big Bird stalker, professing his love and threatening to do harm in the same breath to America’s favorite fowl. I wouldn’t be surprised if Romney gets busted for possessing Evil Bert porn.


Big Bird, Sesame Street and PBS has always been a favorite target for the Republican Party since the multicultural wars of the 1960’s, where the old white men of history and literature were threatened by the emerging voices of emancipated slaves, liberated women and other minorities in the American melting pot.

Even if the public subsidy for PBS was completely eliminated, it would only amount to 1/100th of one percent of the federal budget. A number so small in a $3 trillion USD budget that it’s not even big enough to be a rounding error.

Big Bird’s real contribution to the American economy is $46.9 million USD and 1,320 jobs. That’s right. Big Bird is a job creator that Republicans loved to talk about. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Republicans will stop looking down their lily-white noses to acknowledge that politically inconvenient fact.

First Presidential Debate (Big Bird)

The first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney took place last night. I’m not sure who won. Like the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention, direct exposure can be hazardous to your health. I was too busy playing Tiny Tower on my iPad, adding the 64th floor and firing/hiring workers in my quest to become a “small” Donald Trump. The only time I looked up at the TV screen was when my roommate hurled a well-timed obscenity at Romney for lying about Medicare, Social Security and everything else. Ho-hum.

I was amused by the talking heads saying that Obama looked like he wanted to be somewhere else. Uh, hello? Last night was his 20th wedding anniversary to Michelle. Can’t blame the poor guy for wanting to be somewhere else on such an important night.

A real debate for Romney would be to appear on The Late Show with David Letterman before the election in November. Letterman held no punches when interviewing Obama last month, which is probably why Romney is afraid to come on the show. If Romney isn’t willing to be on the show, Letterman told viewers not to vote for him. Senator John McCain also snubbed Letterman in 2008—and lost the election to Obama.

An Amusement Park In The Middle Of Nowhere

Cow In Grassy FieldA Los Gatos developer wants to build a $1.2 billion USD amusement park in Tracy, a bedroom community in the middle of nowhere in the Central Valley, which would be four times larger than Disneyland in Southern California. When I first heard about this proposal, I had to wonder how much cow dung was being smoked to come up with this idea. I’m sure the cows in the surrounding fields will be very impressed with the empty roller coasters and the silent screams.

The “Spirit of California” amusement park will consist of 30 different businesses, including a casino, hotel, convention center and boat marina (a nearby river connects to the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta), on 628 acres of a former sugar plant. All the stuff that the big cities like San Jose and San Francisco take for granted when considering development projects. A big boost to the tax coffers will change Tracy from a bedroom community into a small city.

Located in a nexus of freeways that connect Stockton and Sacramento in the north, the San Francisco Bay Area to the west, the Central Valley to the south, and the planned California high-speed rail line passing through, thrill seekers from all over the state will have easy access in getting from somewhere to nowhere. Construction will start in 2014 and the entire amusement park should be done by 2024.

As long as the amusement park is being funded by private investments, I think this proposal might actually work. If the developer starts waving a tin can for public funds, all the government agencies involved should turn a tin ear.

Bad enough that high-speed rail is starting off in the middle of nowhere with a 65-mile segment from Merced to Fresno in the Central Valley, California doesn’t need another publicly funded boondoggle. If the developer wants to build the amusement park, let them find the money and make it happen. Otherwise, this might turn out to be another pipe dream that will leave the cows unimpressed.

Review – Battleship (Redbox DVD)

Battleship The MovieA summer popcorn movie demands that you park you brain into neutral, sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Almost. When “Battleship” became available on Redbox, I was thankful that I didn’t spend any money to see this movie in the theater. (Redbox provided a 50-cent off promo code that reduced the one-night rental to $0.76 USD.) You’re not supposed to think too hard about the underlying premise of a popcorn movie. If you do, the whole movie unravels. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. The science fiction in this alien invasion movie was seriously lacking.

Since I saw “Battleship” on a small analog TV screen, the tiny intro text at the beginning of the movie was unreadable. Without reading that, the science doesn’t make any sense. After playing the DVD on my PC to review the opening sequence, the science still doesn’t make any sense.

In 2005, scientist discovers an Earth-like planet in another solar system. No details on where this solar was located (i.e., how many light years from Earth).

In 2006, NASA has a new communication satellite that can send a laser beam to the newly discovered planet that is five times as powerful than anything before. What does “five times as powerful” mean? I don’t know. Let’s assume that the laser beam travels at five times the speed of light, which may technically be possible.

In 2012, five extraterrestrial ships arrives at Earth. One ship collides with a satellite, breaks up in the atmosphere and destroys much of Hong Kong. This turns out to be the communication ship. The other four ships lands in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, throws up a huge force field and take over the satellite station on the island. You would think that the aliens would have brought a spare cellphone to call home.

Within the six year time frame of the movie, the laser beam has to travel through space to reach the planet, be decoded by the repetailian-like aliens with spiky goatees, and a handful of ships are sent in response to kick ass on Earth.

From a speculative scientific point of view, the alien planet has to be within a 25-light-year radius (five years X five times the speed of light = 25 light years) from Earth. The Gliese 581 G planet is 22 light years away and the red drawf star would be consistent with the aliens intolerance of the Earth’s brighter yellow sun. Let’s give the aliens a year to decode the laser beam and assemble an invasion fleet that travels like hell in the remaining time left.

With the aliens being interstellar neighbors, wouldn’t 60 years of television and radio signals being broadcast into space be enough to provoke the aliens into attacking Earth without NASA sending a laser beam?

As for the rest of the movie, the military action and the dialog was entirely predictable. That the museum battleship, U.S.S. Missouri, just happened to have a half-dozen live rounds on board was also implausible. Based loosely on the game, no battleship was sunk.

Discriminating Against Recently Unemployed

Three Panel Soul Web Comic - On Solid Ground
Three Panel Soul

One of my favorite webcomics is Three Panel Soul by Ian McConville (artist) and Matthew Boyd (writer). This is the post-college version of their former webcomic, Mac Hall. A common theme is cubicle life at technology companies, such as Matt being overheard talking about buying a rifle, being let go for talking about said rifle, and being unemployed in 2007. (The Fleen interview with Matt after the FBI paid him a visit for making “terroristic threats” against his former employer.) Matt now finds himself in an uncertain job market that still discriminates against the recently unemployed who lost their jobs within the last 30 days.

Oh, crap. Here we go again.

As someone who was unemployed for two years, underemployed for six months (working 20 hours per month) and filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy before finding steady work, I don’t want to repeat that experience again.

I had numerous interviews that went fine until the hiring manager figured out that I had chronological gaps in my resume. Many such interviews ended shortly thereafter. I even had recruiters tell me that I was unemployable and shouldn’t be wasting their time. The worst part is that many companies are looking for people who they can hire without any job training. This kind of discrimination eliminates many good people who need help in getting up to speed.

My big break from permanent unemployment came when I started doing blue-collar tech work by physically replacing old computers with new computers. No comfortable sitting on your ass help desk support job. I’ve probably crawled underneath 1,000+ desks this year, including one cubicle where the carpets smelled like someone farted brimstone into them. Another cubicle had 40 cups of half-filled coffee with mold in various states of growth that most people would regard as a potential bio hazard.

With my current assignment ending this year, I’ll have to find a new assignment before the new year starts. Having worked for several different contracting agencies over the last few years, I know recruiters who are eager to get me back into the job market. However, since I’m not actively looking for a new job, my resume is being used as filler for when the recruiter has to submit five candidates for a particular position. Some things never change.