Sunday, September 02, 2007

Bill and Hillary go to State Fair

It almost sounds like something out of Green Acres, and an old Lucy-Desie movie -- the long trailer, except in this case, Bill and Hillary DID go to the state fair. I gotta tell ya though... I was totally underwhelmed. It's not that I'm not a fan of Bill or Hillary.. that's not it at all. I was underwhelmed because my kids were SOOOOOOO excited to be able to catch a glimpse of the former president and possible new one. In the end, we were able to squeeze them through the crowd. My ten year old was beside herself and can't wait to tell her teacher on Tuesday morning. My six year old has a hard core Bill fan for a teacher, who will as well be beside herself.

Why was I underwhelmed? Well, here's how the story goes...

My wife and two daughters went to the NH State Fair. It was a nice day.. 75ish, dry, sunny. What more could you ask for in NH? Great day.

We'd walked the fair, rode the rides, played the games, and me, in melancholy moments from my youth like to walk through the agricultural and 4H barns. I especially have a soft spot for the Polled Herefords, Black Angus, and Jerseys. As you might imagine, my girls, just being girls, don't care about the animals and hate the thought of stepping in something unsightly.

When we got through the last barn, they spotted a restroom and decided to brave the line that seemed to wrap around the building and head for the Canadian border. Anyway, I grabbed a seat off to the side, on a cattle scale, under the shade of the open-walled barn, where I enjoyed the company of a mug of home-brew root beer and partook in one of my favorite activities -- people watching.

About 10 minutes into the wait for the girls to get back, two FBI agents drive up in an SUV, park in front of me, and head for the closest sausage stand, where out of nowhere a crowd gathers. I figured it was some local politician, or maybe someone stumping.. it IS NH after all, and this is the season for heavy wind and hot air.

So I'm talking to the guy sitting to my left, and all of the sudden his wife comes back from the ladies lieu, screaming that Bill and Hillary are in front of the sausage stand. Ok, we could make a lot of jokes about Monica here, but I'll refrain and stick to the story.... As I watch the crowd, all of the sudden I get a glimpse of that unmistakable head of hair on Bill. I'm not sure he's changed his hair style since he first ran, but it's pure white now.

Just about now, the girls come back from the restroom and ask what the commotion is all about. I tell my wife that Bill and Hillary are just about 50 yards away and the kids go crazy. So I take my oldest daughter by the hand, and my youngest goes with my wife to try and get a closer look.

Here's where the underwhelmed part comes in.. so far I'm doing pretty good, but... the closer we get, the more secret service we find around the former President. Not only that, but they were using police from many of the local towns to keep the locals away from the couple while reporters push their way through the crowd to be allowed access! One, a large man carrying a camera likely making up for other shortcomings, knocked into my daughter without so much as the courtesy of an 'excuse me'. This goes on for nearly an hour... we try to get a glimpse through the line of secret service, local police, and reporters.

In the end, my youngest daughter ran through the crowd, stuck her head and hand in, and shook hands with Bill. My oldest wasn't so bold. I think she tried about ten times before the local police chief spotted her, saw her frustration, and told her to stand in a certain spot, and he'd guide Mr. Clinton to her. Sure enough, within a minute after us getting to the spot, the chief did as he promised and my daughter got to shake Bill's hand... Hillary was nowhere to be found.

Bill is far more popular, but besides that, when did it come to pass that reporters are more important than politicians meeting locals and delivering good messaging? I've come to the conclusion that reporters report the bad, and if it bleeds it leads. Bill and Hillary got to say they were in NH. Reporters documented it. Unfortunately they had no message other than what Hillary probably told the press in a off-line conversation of sound bites orchestrated by the party while Bill kept the crowd happy. It was funny.. my wife said Hillary didn't look anything like what she does on TV.. She appeared to have plastered on the makeup. I think she was camera-ready.

Gotta wonder. If Hillary gets the nod, who's really going to run the country? Somehow I don't think she has the charisma to do it herself.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Be aware. Be afraid... DVT is real

It's been a while since I've posted. While the Hammerhead Research domain still exists, and the email is still active, I've not done active competitive intelligence research in about two years. Since then I've run a Cyber Threat Intelligence group for Northrop Grumman where my team and I chase very skilled attackers, attempt to understand/mitigate new threats and trends, and in general, keep a team of free-range thinkers producing really cool analysis products.

As you might imagine, a job like this requires travel -- not long distance, just a lot. I live in NH, work in MD, and fly to just about anywhere in the US that houses a Northrop Grumman location, partner, or customer. I'm not necessarily a million mile flier, but my card is Gold and the trips might range from a simple 2 hour flight to four or more.

So, on to the main subject of the story... Two weeks ago I flew round trip to LA, then home to MHT, to BWI a day later, New Orleans, drove to Mississippi, and then flew home. Three days later I flew back to BWI for meetings in the DC/BWI area and realized I had a low grade leg cramp in my lower right calf. I had no other symptoms other than the leg cramp and gave it no thought. I'm a black belt in karate. My legs are generally sore, sometimes with cramps. I figured with a couple of Tylenol the cramps would go away, so down go two Tylenol, followed by a quart or so of water and a One-a-day. The cramps went away.

Three days later the cramp reemerged.. no in two places. Again, no other symptoms other than the cramps, so back to the Tylenol, water, and multi. This time the cramp didn't go away. Just after noon I headed to lunch... two flights of stairs down, cross the street to another building, down one more to the cafeteria. The return trip to my office nearly cost me my life. After twenty minutes to recover and catch my breath, I packed up my laptop and headed to the emergency room. The CT scan revealed multiple blood clots had left my right leg moved north to the heart, passed through the pulmonary artery, and ended up in both of my lungs. I spent three days in the hospital on heavy blood thinners, followed by a re-admittance two days after release for another 48 hours. I'm told most people don't survive multiple pulmonary embolii. I'm lucky.

Why would I post this here? I found out that a colleague at another Aerospace company left a meeting we both attending (the week before I went into the ER). He left half way through to go the the ER with leg cramps. His never hit his lungs, but did pose a heck of a risk.. it was his second time.

I'm married to, and know several RNs. They tell me that most people die from this because they don't recognize the signs early enough. For me it was a cramp on the lower calf at the sock line and another behind the knee. For my colleague it was a cramp on the surface, painful to the touch, also behind the knee.

This is real stuff guys. Don't ignore the leg cramps if you're sitting or traveling for periods longer than an hour.

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