Thursday, January 1, 2009

What Every Woman Wants (No, Seriously!)

I've got what every woman wants.

It's due to the Dexamethasone of course. ('Dexy' to the trade.) Dexy is one of those horrifically potent steroids that flat EATS cancerous tumors. Along with everything else, alas. Which is why I've managed to shed a few pounds, going from a chubbily pleasant 254 to a cadaverous 171.

I've no way of knowing how much of that 83 pounds consisted of tumorous tissue. And there at the start, following LAST New Years, I promised myself it was time to shed a few pounds and did, which got me into the 230-ish range, at which point I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and began the more serious business of chemotherapy, which whisked away the pounds, along with patches of hair (it's coming in CURLY, of all things!) and tumorous tissue.

But I now possess what every woman wants: To hear a physician say: 'It's time for you to put ON a few pounds.' And I thought of all the women I've known without being able to recall a single one of them who was not wishing just the opposite: to LOSE a few pounds, often with EXACTLY the same life and death fervor I've felt with regard to the cancerous tissue which has done such a swell job of digesting my spine that it actually BROKE... from nothing more than a sneeze or some other incidental stress. A compression fracture, so damaging that it would be unwise for me to attempt to lift the amount of weight I've now lost.

Put that all together -- the fervent ladies wish to lose as I have lost, then to fracture what I have broken, and you must admit there IS a certain element of humor... that struck me as the physician delivered the good news, and I began to laugh. And still haven't stopped. Not completely. But it certainly scared the hell out of the doctor.

"Time for you to put ON a few pounds, Chief."

"Aye-aye, sir!"

And I began to laugh. Because it struck me that, whatever else this cancer has done, it has given me what every woman longs for, as if it were a topic of polite conversation, suitable for those awkward moments when strangers are forced to spend a whisp of time together and a polite smile simply isn't enough, as in the elevator between 1 and 12, or the check-out line at the local supermarket. First, the friendly smile, then the casual: "I've got what you want," perhaps with another smile, depending on the lady's physique. Then back to listening to the elevator music or casually examining the contents of her shopping cart, my eye peeled for ice cream and Danish.

It gives you a nice boost, knowing you have what they want. Makes you want to flex your stick-like arms or show your turkey's neck to best advantage. Yup. Things are definitely looking up. Which is why I'm still laughing now & then.

-Bob Hoover

The Wire Tracker

Happy New Year to you all.

One of the more troublesome aspects of aviation electrical work is the fact our wires are usually NOT color-coded. That means you can have a bundle of twenty wires and before you can do any useful work you will need to figure out which one of the twenty at the equipment rack is the frayed one you've spotted behind the instrument panel.

How to do it? The good ol' fashioned way, which I described in an article some time ago, is to use a continuity tester. That is, a hunka wire long enough to run from here to there, a couple of flashlight batteries, and a flashlight bulb. You know you've found the correct lead when the bulb lights up. I even described a do-it- yourself tester based on an old-style Navy flashlight.

Alas, while 3 volts ain't all that much, you could be connecting those 'unimportant' three volts to a meter-circuit that blows it's top at two volts.

Whatcha REALLY want is a cable tracker.t

A cable tracker is a little oscillator that puts a warbling TONE on the wire under test, which you can then hear by waving a matching receiver at the other end of the wire.

Harbor Freight's gottem. Item #94181 about $20 US, probably less if you can find a Sale. (But Santa brought me this one :-)

-R.S.Hoover
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