Happy New Year to you and your people

Today is the first day of the New Year. It’s the day a lot of Americans have weapons-grade hangovers. The last time I had a hangover, any type of hangover, was 1993. It’s when I learned a man I both admired and respected did something truly horrible and was in prison. This man was my boss when I was in the Air Force and stationed on Guam. More importantly, he was my friend.

I found out about it in the afternoon. That evening, I got extremely drunk. I haven’t been drunk since.

2018 was a terrible year

My hope is 2019 will be better than 2018 was, but how can it not? 2018 sucked. I began last year fresh out of the hospital where I almost died. Even when I got out of the hospital, life wasn’t that great. For one thing, I could barely stand, let alone walk. Ten days in bed had made my legs extremely weak. Once I was able to stand, I began working on walking.

Happy New Year to you and your people - Bent Corner
Me at Walmart, January 2018.

I’d want to go to Walmart and Target with Sheri, but legs weren’t all that cooperative. I had Sheri take a photo of me in one of those scooter chairs at Walmart. It was the only way I could get around. I wanted a photo of me in the scooter because I used to look down on folks who rode these scooters. I’d try to determine in my mind if they had something physically wrong with them or if they were just lazy. Most of the time, I decided they were just lazy.

I was wrong to do that. Who was I to judge anyone? I wanted a photo to remember what an ass I was. Not that I usually need anything to remind me.

My large intestine is smaller than your’s

Happy New Year to you and your people - Bent Corner
June of 2018 marked the first time I had major surgery. I hope it will turn out to be my last.

Then in June, I went back to the hospital to have surgery. By then, my gastroenterologist diagnosed me with Crohn’s disease. It’s what put me in the hospital at the end of December 2018. Crohn’s had severely damaged my large intestine, so much so, I had to have part of it removed.

That’s when you know you’re old when they start hacking off parts of you.

What do you know, Comicsgate is a hate movement

Happy New Year to you and your people - Bent Corner
Two Comicsgaters just hanging out talking about how SJWs are ruining comic books.

I’m ashamed to admit that I at one time supported Comicsgate. I think I was fooling myself that it was a grassroots consumer movement. In reality, it’s a hate movement filled with people hellbent on being jerks to women, minorities, members of the LBGT community, or anyone else they deem to be unworthy of making comic books they don’t read.

In August, I saw the light. I wrote three (3) critical blog posts on Jeremy Hambly, a controversial professional YouTube personality.

Jeremy Hambly

Unbeknown to me, Hambly was one of the leaders of Comicsgate. I was not aware of his status in Comicsgate because he never spoke about comics in his videos. Evidently not possessing an interest in comics doesn’t matter to people in Comicsgate. What matters is if you have an ax to grind against women, minorities, members of the LBGT community, or men deemed inferior to the manly men of Comicsgate.

People in Comicsgate began going after me, both in the comment section of this blog and on Twitter. Some of these same people had interacted with me prior in a much more cordial manner. It got so bad, I had to temporarily disable my blog’s comment section.

The whole experience was quite eye-opening. If they went after me in the manner they did, I can only imagine how they went after women, minorities, and members of the LBGT community.

I now wish I had nothing to do with Comicsgate. It’s something I’ll regret for a very long time.

Don’t look now, but there’s a stranger in my car

Happy New Year to you and your people - Bent CornerIn the latter part of 2018, I began to focus more on driving for Lyft and Uber. Integrating e-commerce on websites and selling WordPress plugins was my main gig, while rideshare driving was a distant second. I then switched it up. It turned out to be a good move on my part, both financially and mentally.

My goal for 2019 is to make it better than 2018

I want this year to be better than last year. I’m going to concentrate on the things I control. I want to identify what those things are and focus on them. I also want to identify on what I have no control over and try to ignore those things. For example, the raging idiot we have in the White House. I have no control over him or what he does.

For my own well being, I need to be better at ignoring Donald Trump and his buffoonery. I cannot make Donald Trump a better person. I can make myself a better person.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

Merry Christmas to you and your people

Today is Christmas, the one day a year we celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus by buying material things for the people we love and present these material things to them while eating food none of us should be eating. Merry Christmas!

This Christmas is special to me because I don’t remember last Christmas. I was taken to the hospital via ambulance on December 20, 2017, and didn’t go home until December 30. They had me in intensive care until December 29. I had a GI blockage and diabetic ketoacidosis and I almost died.

That first week, I was very much out of it. I experienced vivid hallucinations that even now seem very real. For example, I thought I was taken out of the hospital and forced to be an extra on a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot. Oddly enough, it was filming here in Hagerstown. This was before such a reboot was announced in August. I should point out that I’ve never been a fan of Buffy although I’m married to one.

This Buffy hallucination seemed more real to me than the Diet Coke I’m drinking right now while writing this. There were other vivid hallucinations. Perhaps I’ll share those one day too.

I normally hate Christmas

Merry Christmas to you and your people - Bent CornerChristmas normally makes me depressed. I decided last fall that instead of allowing Christmas to make me feel depressed, I was going to attack it head-on. I was going to use Christmas’ own momentum against it. In effect, I was going to perform emotional Hapkido on Christmas.

I then got very sick and missed the entire thing.

What I was going to do last Christmas, I’m doing this Christmas. The tree is up and the lights are on the front of the house. I’ve even been listening to Christmas music. Good Christmas music, not the awful kind you often hear played in stores.

I waged war on Christmas and I won

I successfully used Christmas’ own emotional momentum against it. You often hear about the war on Christmas. I’m not referring to the fake kind talked about on Fox News, but a real war on Christmas.

We fought and I won. Christmas put on a top hat and met me on a Battleship this morning to sign its surrender paperwork.

Merry Christmas to you and your people - Bent Corner
Christmas unconditionally surrendering to me this morning. As the ink flowed, I had RUN-DMC’s “Christmas In Hollis” pumping through the speakers. It’s one of the greatest Christmas songs ever recorded.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Happy Birthday Baby Jesus! I know you said not to acquire material possessions here on earth, but I have a new shop-vac under the tree.

Merry Christmas to you and your people - Bent Corner
My new shop-vac.

I’ve been coveting it for some time, so I think that makes it okay. Plus, you said, “cleanliness is next to godliness.” during your sermon on Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s more commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount 2.0.

Nothing says cleanliness quick like a 4.5 peak horsepower shop-vac.

A lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving. It’s the one day a year we Americans are required by federal law to overeat, watch football, and think about what we’re thankful for.

I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m married to the greatest woman in the world. The life we have together is pretty awesome and continues to get even more awesome.

My health is a lot better than it was last Thanksgiving. Less than a year ago I found out I have Crohn’s disease. It almost killed me. I eventually had surgery to remove part of my large bowel removed. After some extensive lab tests last month ago, it looks like the Crohn’s is in remission. I won’t know until after I have a colonoscopy next month. Fingers crossed!

On a related note, I’m thankful to have health insurance. I’m also thankful President Barack Obama was able to put the Affordable Care Act into law. It means I don’t have to worry about being denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition or paying more money for health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. It also put a cap on my out-of-pocket expenses. Without that, last year’s ten-day hospital stay and this year’s surgery very well could have ruined us financially.

I’m extremely thankful to have health insurance

I’m so, so thankful I have health insurance. I received a statement in the mail from the University of Maryland Medical Center for the surgery to remove part of my large bowel last month.

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent Corner
(Click to see a larger version)

Because I have health insurance, my out of pocket cost for the whole thing was zero.

I’m lucky to have health insurance. Actually, I’m lucky to be married to Sheri who works for a company that offers health insurance at a subsidized cost. One of the drawbacks of working in the gig economy is that I don’t have employer-subsidized health insurance. That’s because I’m my own employer.  And yes, my boss is a real jerkface.

Not having health insurance is not an option

I’d like to think I wouldn’t put myself into a situation where I didn’t have health insurance. Without actually being in that situation, I can’t be 100 percent certain, but if Sheri didn’t have access to health insurance, I would get a job, any job that provided subsidized health insurance.

The topic of not having health insurance has come up recently in the online Magic: The Gathering community. Wedge, a popular YouTuber, does not have health insurance. He had a serious problem with his back and traveled against doctor’s orders to Grand Prix Las Vegas from upstate New York. The day after he arrived, he woke up not being able to move his legs.

He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and had surgery the following day. Being that he didn’t have health insurance, his sister started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his hospital bills. So far they’ve raised nearly $80,000.

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent Corner
Wedge

Because of people who donated to the GoFundMe campaign, he was able to make a huge dent in his medical costs.

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent Corner

For everyone’s sake, I hope Wedge does whatever he needs to do to get health insurance. First, it’s the law. Secondly, I doubt people will donate to a GoFundMe campaign the next time he has something majorly wrong with his health. Then again, maybe they will. It’s really hard to say for certain. If there’s anything people online can be counted on to do, it’s doing the unexpected.

My wife is my hero

If I wasn’t on Sheri’s health insurance, if she didn’t work for a company that provided subsidized health insurance, I’d have to jettison my dream of driving strangers in my car and get a job doing something I hated even more than driving strangers in my car. I could still do e-commerce integration jobs on the side. I could also still sell WordPress plugins on my business website. The nice thing about that stream of revenue is it’s all automatic. I created the plugins a while back and people can buy them and then download them without any action taken by me. It’s all automatic. Someone bought one last night when I was sleeping.

Making money while you sleep is the real American dream.

I cannot wait for Thanksgiving this year

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent CornerI’m looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. I have quite a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful to be married to the greatest woman in the world. When I first experienced complications from what would be later diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I’m thankful I was taken by ambulance to Meritus Medical Center where I received world-class care, especially from the nurses on staff. I’m also extremely thankful to have Dr. Tu Bui as my primary doctor. He not only provides excellent care when I see him for an office visit, he visited me in the hospital several times. In fact, he told me I had Crohn’s before any of the experts in gastroenterology made the diagnoses. He’s the best primary care doctor I’ve ever had. Finally, I’m extremely thankful I was able to have Dr. Andrea Bafford perform the surgery that saved my life. 

I’m a lucky and thankful man.

I was mentioned in an article on Rollingstone.com

A long, long time ago, I was at my local Walmart after work and noticed a t-shirt in the men’s department that looked a lot like a Nazi Death’s Head, a Totenkopf. I took a picture of it with my Motorola Razr flip-phone.

When I got home, I compared the photo I took at Walmart to an image of a Nazi death’s head I found online:

I was mentioned in an article on Rollingstone.com - Bent Corner
The photo I took at my local Walmart.
I was mentioned in an article on Rollingstone.com - Bent Corner
Nazi death’s head I found online.

You’ll notice they’re almost identical.

I decided to blog about it. I just started this blog and I needed things to write about. After I posted it, I linked it on Digg. Like I said, this was a long, long time ago. The post took off like wildfire infected with weapons-grade syphilis. Evidently, people had a craving for stories involving Walmart and Nazi imagery.

My blog post made the national news

A reporter from The Associated Press contacted me and interviewed me over the phone. I was then interviewed on TV by my local station, then NBC 25, now called Local DMV as in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. They also run stories from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. They lost their NBC affiliation some time ago. Now they show the news and lots of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I didn’t want to go on TV. The reporter who arranged the whole thing said if I didn’t agree to come in, she would show up at my front door with a camera crew. I didn’t want the reporter and the camera crew to show up at my door, so I relented. I went to their studio and was interviewed.

The interview appeared not only on NBC 25, but a lot of other places, including CNN. Other news organizations ran articles about it. I remember getting a call from someone at ABC News asking my permission to republish my photo.

I bring this all up because I noticed a lot of visitors coming here to read my old blog post about Walmart selling the t-shirts. It turned out Rollingstone.com published an article on Walmart.com selling “Impeach 45” t-shirts and they mentioned other teachable moments in Walmart’s long history. They included my story about the Nazi Death’s Head t-shirt including a link.

From Rollingstone:

I was mentioned in an article on Rollingstone.com - Bent CornerIf I had to describe who I am to someone, I would never say I was a Maryland Air Force veteran-turned-blogger. I live in Maryland. I’m an Air Force veteran. I have a blog. The article seems to suggest that I got out of the Air Force so I could move to Maryland and become a blogger. I got out of the Air Force in 1994 and moved to Maryland for a job. My “online journal” didn’t begin until 2006. These two events were in no way connected.

Walmart never removed the t-shirts from their stores

The funniest thing about this whole incident was Walmart promised to remove the t-shirts from their stores. They never did. They kept on selling them like nothing happened. A good many news organizations reported Walmart removed the t-shirts because that’s what they said in their press release. If any of the reporters ever bothered to go to their local Walmart, they would have seen with their own eyes that the t-shirts were still for sale.

My biggest regret is that I never kept a t-shirt as a memento. I bought one, but then Sheri gave it to her brother from Christmas as a gag.

I am not a buff

A reporter from the Miami-Herald wrote an article about it and she described me as a “World War Two buff.” I emailed her and told her I was not a World War Two buff. She argued that I was, otherwise I wouldn’t have known the image’s history. If I was a buff, I think I’d know it.

I have only a passing history in World War Two. I’ve read a few books and I used to play Avalon Hill’s Squad Leader when I was in the Air Force.

I was mentioned in an article on Rollingstone.com - Bent Corner
Avalon Hill’s Squad Leader, a tactical level board game focusing on infantry combat in Europe during World War Two.

Although I played Squad Leader, I also played a lot of Battletech and Dungeons & Dragons.

It was important to me that I not be labeled a World War Two buff because I thought it was insulting to real World War Two buffs, people fully dedicated to the buff lifestyle. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get this point across to the reporter.

The Internet is funny

I think it’s funny how something I blogged about nearly 12 years ago can still be a thing. It’s also quite hilarious the worst photo I’ve ever taken turned out to be the most widely disseminated and viewed photo I’ve ever taken. I used to be quite into photography and I’ve taken some decent photos over the years. This grainy pic taken with my flip-phone is the most famous.

Happy Fourth of July

Today is the Fourth of July, the anniversary of when our ancestors declared their independence from Great Britain.  According to my calculations, we’ve been our own country for 88,388 days or more plainly put, 242 years.

My ancestral origins

My mother’s side of the family has been here since the beginning. Knowing them like I think I do, they were probably kicked out of England and put on a leaky wooden ship because they were weird and/or practiced a strange version of Christianity.

My father’s side of the family hasn’t been here as long. I know my father’s grandfather came here from Germany in the early 1900s. He left Germany with the last name of Oldenkamp, but when he later got married in Nebraska, he did so with the last name of Rottman, the surname of his mother’s second husband back in Germany. So I’m not even a real Rottman.

So I’ve been told. Who knows if any of that is true. What I do know is I don’t care.

I am an American

Happy Fourth of July - Bent Corner

I don’t really care about where my ancestors came from.  I hold no allegiance to whatever moldy part of Europe they came from. If they liked Europe so much, they would have stayed there. No, I come from people who wanted to leave Europe and come here to America. They did so knowing full well they’d never go back or even see the people they left behind.

My race is Human and my nationality is American. That’s as basic as I can break it down. That’s as basic as I care to break it down.

The Philippines taught me what being an American is

The period from 1985 to 1988 was very instrumental in forming who I am. I was in the Air Force and stationed overseas in the Philippines. There were two types of people over there: Filipinos and Americans. I learned then you were either an American or you weren’t. It didn’t matter what color your skin was or where you’re ancestors came from, if you were an American, you were my brother. Any differences you and I had didn’t matter. If you were an American, you were just like me, a stranger in a strange land.

Even today I feel the same exact way. There’s no need to hyphenate your nationality. If you’re an American, your an American. The word before the hyphen is meaningless.

You should feel proud to be an American

Happy Fourth of July - Bent Corner

People should feel proud to be an American. It doesn’t matter who we currently have for president or what they’re doing in the White House. Most of the presidents in my lifetime have been awful. The current president is a dolt, but I can guarantee you he isn’t the first and he will not be the last.

You should feel proud to be an American because of your fellow Americans. We come in all kinds of colors and sizes. We bring parts of our culture with us. We collectively then decide what we like and what we don’t like. We keep the best and throw away the rest. We are Americans. We love pizza, tacos, sushi, salsa, and spaghetti.

Whenever someone accuses one of us of cultural appropriation, I just laugh. Cultural appropriation is what we do, we’re Americans. Now blindfold me so I can beat this red, white, and blue piñata and make it rain candy.

Happy Fourth of July

If you’re reading this and you’re an American, I hope you have a happy Fourth of July. If you’re reading this and you’re not an American, I hope one day you can become an American.

To say someone is an American is the nicest thing you can say about someone.