Breast Cancer: a first conversation

I’ve been meaning to make this video for a long time, and finally got all the pieces together. I’m obviously not a video editor, but I’m learning. Feel free to share this with any family or friends who you know who are having, or have had a breast biopsy. This video would be good preparation for their appointment in regard to asking pertinent questions and more efficiently addressing their concerns.

If there are any other medical topics you think might be worth a similar treatment, let me know; and maybe I’ll get around to it :^l

Swimming to Saba

The other day I picked up the Peninsula Pulse laying on my coffee table and discovered that I had received an honorable mention for The Wisconsin People & Ideas 2014 Fiction Contest. I vaguely remember sending in a story a few days before the deadline; a story I’d actually submitted to the annual fiction contest at the Pulse except that I blew a little dust off it and added about 500, apparently significant, words. I remember submitting a story in 2010 that I had written while convalescing from a self-induced injury. That story was about the 12th Imam; this one was a love story, more or less. If you’ve navigated to the link, you’ll see my honorable mention, the first of five, in small print below the pictures of the winners. I appreciate the efforts of The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters; still, my effort at the writing of Swimming to Saba remains yet another unread story, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, depending on ones perspective. That is, until now. I thought I’d post it for the hand full of readers that might stumble across it, perhaps searching for the location of the island of Saba, or maybe searching for ways to improve their swimming or what to do in Saba; but, certainly not by searching for fiction by shaun melarvie–of that I am certain.

Here’s the pdf file: Swimming to Saba 4.


How to view multiple TVs with one cable set top box

May 6th, Charter TV will be going all digital, which I initially thought to be good news; but, then I was informed that every TV I had would need to have a set top box attached to it. Now, if I had 2 or maybe 3 TVs I suppose I could stomach that, even at $7 a month per set top box after that first one, or maybe there is a fee for that as well, I’m not sure. The same situation exists for satellite TV (I checked), every TV needs a receiver, and for Directv that is $6/month/TV.

I was told that the good news was that I could record six different programs while watching multiple different channels, all at the same time! Wow! Maybe if I didn’t have a life, or was a trust fund baby, or an unemployed college graduate living in my parents basement, maybe then I might have occasion to do as much. As it is, the reality is that in my house there might be a handful of times during the year (when company comes) that there are two different TVs on, on two different channels; and, I have never recorded anything yet.

So this is what I did for less than $20. This is pretty simple, and I’m sure many others are already doing it.


The cable coming into your home has to be split among all of your TVs;

Every TV must have the signal de-encrypted by a set top box; (so they tell me, when it does happen, I’m still going to hook my tv up to the raw cable and run an auto-program to see what happens). I admit that I am frustrated by the disincentive to allow you to realize the least expensive solution.

Every cable coming out (output) has to be going somewhere (input);


What you identify:

What TVs do I want the capability to surf channels on, check the guide, maybe DVR something, etc.;

What TVs do I want to just turn on and watch a preset channel (like Fox News);

How many TVs will be used to watch different channels at the same time; this will be the minimum number of set top boxes you will need. In my home, that number is one.


What you need:

A coaxial powered splitter of which ever number of set top boxes you might want; I bought a 1:4 powered splitter from Radio Shack for $15. Something like this one.

3-5 extra coaxial cables of 3-6ft length;


What you want to do:

You are going to share one set top box among all the TVs in your house you want preset to one channel. If you only want one channel at one time, you only need one set top box.

The cable company has already hooked all of your TVs up to a distribution hub of some sort that splits the signals to the cable runs in your home supplying your TVs. Their solution is to put a set top box at the end of each cable run for each TV, at $7/box/mo.

My solution is:

Put one set top box at the front end of the cable run (figuratively) by connecting the cable (TV, not internet) coming from your modem to the input of the powered splitter. You now have four amplified signals to use. I have a distribution hub already that has five inputs and 16 outputs. You should have some sort of a splitter or hub that all your TVs are connected to.

Connect a cable from one of the outputs of the powered splitter to the input the cable set top box. [You need to get a set top box that has a coaxial output (it should have a HDMI too)] Then connect a cable from the coaxial RF out to the input of the hub that supplies all of your TVs in the house. Now, all of your TVs are operating off of that one set top box.

You still have three left over powered outputs; so you can take up to 3 TVs off the distribution hub for all the TVs and connect it to the raw signal in front of the first set top box and use your second and third set top boxes at the other end of the cable run, between the wall plate and television set. In my case, I only have one other.

I have a home theater that I have a set top box for, and my other box controls all the other television in my home.

The only problem now is how to avoid going to your distribution hub in the basement or attic to change channels:

There are two solutions I thought of:

1) If you have two cable runs going to a TV on the main floor (this is what I did); you can simply move the box up by outputting the signal from the powered splitter into the cable going up to the room (wall plate), then connecting that to the cable to the input on the set top box, and then outputting (RF out) back down the other cable run and connecting that to the input for the distribution hub for all the other TVs. As I mentioned earlier, the set top box also has an HDMI output, and you can connect this to your TV. My set top box will deliver signal to all outputs simultaneously (although I’m sure they will change this if too many circumvent the need for multiple set top boxes as I’m describing here). So, anyway, when I change the channel in my living room, it changes the channel for all of the televisions in my house except for the one separated out by the powered splitter that goes to the home theater.

If you don’t have two cable runs, and you have an attic or an unfinished basement, it would not be a big deal to run an extra cable.

2) If a second cable run is not an option, than you could use a wireless remote control extender kit like this one here, or something similar.

If you want to control channels in more rooms, you can do so by buying additional transmitters for the IR remote extender receiver that is by the shared set top box (controlling it).

I think its actually pretty convenient. All the common TVs are preset to channel 3, so all you do is turn it on and turn it off and control the volume. If you’re watching a program on one of the shared/common TVs and move to another room, all you do is turn the one TV off and the other one on.

Good Luck.



Raintree County: by Ross Lockridge Jr.

Raintree County


I knew not the existence of Raintree County until reading a weekly article by Steven Grutzmacher in the Peninsula Pulse last summer. The gist of the article was a response to a customer asking Steve what he thought the best book he ever read was. His reply to that question was Raintree County, and given Steve’s lifelong devotion to reading and writing and books, I did not take his reply lightly. I immediately whipped out my iphone, opened my amazon app and purchased a digital copy for no other reason than it was the past of least resistance; and I felt the intense need to read immediately.

The book is over 1000 pages in length, which I did not initially appreciate due to its being a digital copy, and only surmised its length after noticing that I was at 1% (in the lower corner of my Kindle) for longer than usual. I also made the mistake of a forgetful thumb on the right side of the screen due to a momentary lapse of attention and inadvertently jumped forward about a hundred pages, not realizing my error for 40-50 page, a day or so later, after encountering some inconsistencies and correlating them to my 15% completion percentage, which I knew to be impossible.

I started over, and enjoyed rereading the first section as much as I did a couple of days earlier. I read the book in 20 minute to 1-2 hour blocks, a day or several apart (due to work constraints), completing about 45% before leaving on a long weekend trip to the Bahamas where I finished it on a balcony, five stories up, overlooking the windward side of Paradise Island, which I found especially poignant given the significance of Paradise Lake in Raintree County.

As one with aspersions for writing significantly, someday, perhaps in another life or alternate universe even, I found Raintree County discouraging due to the reality that I could never write at a level approaching the bare foothills of the mountains that are Ross Lockridge Jr.’s genius. The book spans fifty years in the life of Johnny Shawnessy, narrated in a series of sequential flashbacks within the course of one day, the 4th of July, 1892. It straddles the Civil War, in which Johnny eventually participates in after Gettysburg. It is written in parts from the viewpoint of Johnny as a small boy, his young daughter, his second wife; and there are several “epic fragments” of assorted writers of rustic dialects reminiscent of Mark Twain.

Raintree County is, at the root, a love story, and a philosophy of the meaning of life. It is a grand opus which blew me away with its scope and ambition. Every time I read it, and I do mean in every chapter, if not on every page, I found myself stopping and rereading sentences, pages, paragraphs not because I didn’t understand them but because I found myself enchanted with what Lockridge was saying and how he was saying it. It thought it a mixture of poetry and prose, like a more modern Shakespeare. There are obvious literary references, and you can tell these having had an influence on Lockridge, and as an English major myself, I appreciated these and this.

Paradise IslandThis is the view in front of me as I read of Johnny marching in Washington after the war, and hours later, after the sudden darkness from the sun dropping below the rim of the ocean, I read of Johnny pulling into the train station in Freehaven and finishing his long way home past the graveyard, approaching the half-buried boulder at the edge of the home place. Sue and Jessie were behind me, in the room and I was glad for the solitude of the balcony, and the darkness as the sharp black edges of the words melted into the screen/page.

I had to be physically extracted from the book for dinner downstairs in some restaurant that required me to wear slacks for some ridiculous reason, especially when half the women there barely had there nether regions covered, and I think my legs were likely more attractive (hair and all) than at least a few of them others there. I was finally able to finish the book before retiring that night.

Ross Lockridge Jr. committed suicide a year or so after writing his book of seven years effort in the writing. He had four children I believe. His son, Larry, wrote a book Shades of Raintree County, that addresses his father’s life and I’ll probably read that one of these days.

It is said that he suffered from depression and I can’t help wonder if the sheer magnificence and completeness of Raintree County was such that Ross couldn’t ever imagine writing something more complete, ever. I don’t know. It was difficult for me to reconcile that with Johnny Shawnessy, who was Lockridge, at least in my mind.

As much as I wanted to finish it, I was saddened by it’s end, and especially after diving immediately into my next vacation read, which was so disappointingly average; but, I knew that it would be so for how could it not. Raintree County is almost like a religion. It is a belief system, and a story of love and passion, written with an eroticism that transcends today’s sweaty purple prose.


Stone landscaping a garden on a slope, between a fence and a waterfall: it is done–really done.



Today, I added the paver-lock sand, which is pretty much magic as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure there must be a use for it in the OR if I just think hard enough. And I was right about the river rock around the cobblestone, I don’t think the granite would have looked proper.

Cobblestone circle



I am now ready for winter and all is done, mainly. I only fell down once, in the rain garden, when I twisted my ankle on a rock while levering the 20′ ladder against the roof to put up the heat tape in the roof valley’s. Awesome view up there, but a little scary in a precarious sort of way. I’d much rather stumble on the ground than on the roof.



Time for something new now, and it has to do with warmth, interior environments, and mental stimulation, as opposed to the physical stimulation of hard labor that has so occupied these past three months during my back-breaking work of staggering genius.

Time for me to poke the monster in the eye.

Stone landscaping a garden on a slope, between a fence and a waterfall: it is done, and so am I.


I feel like John Merrick of The Elephant Man as he places the last piece on his puzzle of St. Phillip’s; “It is done.” Fadeout.

Although, when I saw The Elephant Man a few years ago, played brilliantly by Joe Faust, the script was modified slightly from the original English text: “It is done; and so am I.” Then John/Joe lay down and quietly died from asphyxiation. Conversely, I still breath easy, effortlessly even; nonetheless, I have this sense of completeness to the point, as happens from time to time at the completion of a major task or operation, of wondering if this was the meaning of my life, my special purpose as it were, and all that follows is rather anticlimactic, a lame-duck life remaining. I hope not. I guess the morrow will tell if I awake.

I’m ready for something different.

Stone landscaping a garden on a slope, between a fence and a waterfall: almost there.


It is nearly done, excepting the installation of the cobblestone circle (which was delivered yesterday) and about 10-50lb. bags of black granite, which is what you see immediately above. I have also an edge of exposed concrete block I need to cover somehow.

The image above is the entry to the garden on a slope; except, is it really a garden (in the traditional sense) any longer given the paucity of dirt and plenitudinous of stone. Ask me if I care.

No. I don’t. I like it, and I will have yet another place to sit and rest, and do little other than contemplate my surroundings, or transcendentivly meditate myself into a state of nothingness when I actually have the time to do such things. It does happen to be the case that I have an awesome wireless signal in the center of the future cobblestone circle, which I’m beginning to consider as my own personal Stonehenge, and I’m thinking that the psychic energy is such that it might be a great place to work on my laptop, on my novel, on consecutive evenings darknesses, broken by the muted glow of thirteen low-voltage lights, each powered by green-friendly 3-watt LED bulbs.






















Although the stairs are incredibly level and stable, I’ve still managed to stumble both up and down them for some reason or another. Probably because of not paying attention, looking for a roll of electrical tape or wire cutters or something else desperately in need of, apparently whisked away by one of those little borrowers of childhood fiction just now remembered.

The black granite in the beds is nice, but dirty. It’s only black now because it was raining; when dry, its gray; but if I clean an individual stone of its accumulated dust, it is black. Maybe I’ll take a power washer to it next spring, although that’s uncomfortably close to “maintenance.”


By the end of next weekend, it will be done, if God wills it.

Stone landscaping a garden on a slope, between a fence and a waterfall: because I could.

Skycam/fifth week

If you were to ask me, now, why I did this I could give you no good answer other than because it was there, and because I could. Sure, it looks nice; stunning even, if for no other reason than the sheer volume of effort the result represents; and it’s still not done. But, Merciful God on High, it is close. I’m finding it hard to resist planting plant media in the various areas I initially intended for rock, insofar as my plan of a maintenance-free dry (Japanese) garden. The original argument included the inconvenience of caring for the flowers on an awkward hill with unstable stepping stones, randomly placed and poorly dug into the ground, that would shift and slide, placing the gardener at risk of fracturing a hip or suffering blunt head trauma from impacting one of the aforementioned stones. However, now with the convenience of 8 steps at regular intervals as much a part of mother earth as, say, the Grand Teton (currently closed), accessing the various planting beds would be as simple as dropping to a foam knee-pad on a stable stone ledge and taking care of business. Hmmm…we’ll see what the boss says.

Twisty Baby/topI planted a Twisty Baby Locust tree yesterday at the top of the hill. On the right are fabric covered sections awaiting black stone, and a few pots. The small green plant on the right, at the top, is a green-seedless grape vine that I’m going to grow along the lattice.

I’ve placed 12 low-voltage lights here and there, and should have got conduit larger than half-inch. I managed to make it work, but only after smashing the knuckles of my right hand against a stone when the fish pulled free of the wires (secured with electrical tape per instructions–obviously not secure enough).

Path/bottomFrom the bottom, looking up. The joints are mostly mortared, but I have some dry stacked too, and everything is surprising level.

Diamond blades last a long time. I never changed my first one, and I bought at least five. I should have plenty for my next endeavor in the spring which will require much more cutting of stone. I should finish up in one more uninterrupted weekend, as soon as I get my cobblestone circle delivered by Bissen.

Had I the intellect, or at least the common sense to more accurately foresee what lay in front of me before I started, I doubt I’d have begun. Rather; I’d have said, “Look, Honey, it’s not so bad. I’ll have those weeds pulled in a jiffy; and this fall, I’ll happily cut everything down with my machete; and next spring,” with a song in my heart I’m sure, “I’ll thin, and transplant, and mulch the garden on a slope between a fence and a waterfall.”

Good riddance.

Stone landscaping a garden on a slope, between a fence and a waterfall: Part Three: progress

Project/fifth weekAt least now, when I spend a couple of hours in my self-induced Purgatory I can actually tell that I was there; whereas previously, hours upon hours of labor resulted primarily in musculoskeletal aches and pains and assorted soft-tissue injuries, which of course still happens, it’s just that it is now accompanied by aesthetic structural progress. Thanks be to God. Lord Have Mercy. Christ Have Mercy…

Mortar is forgiving, stone is not. There is something in mortar that is terribly bad for skin. I discovered this after defaulting to my hands for packing the mortar into the joints. I was wearing gloves of course, but apparently the mortar managed to get inside and when I took the gloves off a couple of hours later it was similar, I imagine, to bilateral wrist-seal failures while on a space walk. It felt like I still had gloves on, so foreign did my skin feel and for days the desiccated skin would catch on clothing and pretty much anything I picked up or happened to touch. My hands felt like Velcro. Thankfully, I stumbled upon some better gloves that were actually cheaper–imagine that.

From the Skycam

From the Skycam

I’ve one more level to finish, then the entry, then the low-voltage lights, then the cobblestone circle in the biggest part, then it’ll be Christmas-time.

Things seemed to take a turn for the better after returning from Ludington Michigan last weekend where I performed a small animal sacrifice to the Sun God:




It occurred to me on a beach just outside of the Ludington State Park. I espied the Sun-God atop this wooden structure quite by accident and was struck by his magnificence and power burning into my retinas. As I cast my eyes about for a suitable offering (Sue was already far up the beach) a wounded seagull limped across the sand; but before I leapt upon it with my unsheathed Leatherman, I felt a ferocious sting on the meat of my left bicep. Thinking that the pretty horsefly with the iridescent wings would do nicely instead, I offered up a humble prayer while simultaneously slapping it with the palm of my hand.

Call it coincidence, but ever since then my project has been progressing much more smoothly, and the end is at least in sight.