Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An Open Letter to the Health Care Debaters

Dear People on All Sides of the Health Care Debate-

First, let me celebrate your passionate, enthusiastic use of your right to free speech. The fact that you can publish unedited opinions on Facebook, Twitter, and other portions of the internet, is a privilege that we can never undervalue. To have an opinion is your unalienable right. To express it is one that was earned through lots of blood, sweat, and tears. Well done.

Before I get started, please know that the following paragraphs are not intended as literary Onanism. This is not an ego trip, but a simple request. Read on.

By way of clarification, I am a lawyer. Although I no longer practice law, I attended law school, passed the bar on the first try, and one week later argued my first case before the Illinois State Court of Appeals. I have written about the US Constitution at length, and proved to the satisfaction of both individual states and the US government that I not only understand what's in the Constitution- I'm worthy of defending it.

I also hold not one, but two securities licenses. This means that I can advise people in principles of investing. I can discuss financial planning with them, and I can buy and sell stocks and bonds on my own behalf and for others as well. To obtain these licenses, I needed to prove an in-depth familiarity with concepts such as economics, monetary theory, capital markets, currency fluctuation, foreign markets, debt, deficits, the balance of trade, etc.

Additionally, I hold an insurance license, which is evidence that I have a working knowledge of health insurance, life insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and other systems of the like.

You may be interested to learn that I am a citizen of not one, but two sovereign nations- the United States of America and the Republic of Ireland. As such I get to enjoy a unique perspective on world politics. This perspective has been supplemented by time I have spent living and working in Europe. While in Europe, I was required on occasion to use the health care system at my disposal. Specifically, Sweden's health care system.

I have attended different schools, held various jobs, lost various jobs, been healthy, been sick, been insured, been uninsured, have lived paycheck to paycheck, enjoyed periods of good financial fortunes, helped others, have required help, and I love baseball. It's baseball season- can't help the last one.

I mention all of this NOT to brag. In fact, now more than ever, I realize just how precious little I know about myself and how the world works. So though the preceding might sound like an ego trip, I hope that in describing these experiences, I have explained what I have taken from each of them. It is through these experiences that I have arrived at my world view.

So basically, I'm just like you. Not only have we never walked in each others shoes- we could never ever experience what life is like for the other. Because of this, I am not competent to say what's good for you. I am not competent to decide whether what you are saying is valid or invalid. It would be arrogant for me to suggest that you are good or bad, informed or uninformed, selfish or generous, etc. I have no idea what motivates you or what your fears may be. I recognize that you have opinions, and that like mine, yours are the summation of your life.

I'm bringing this all up to drive home the point that while I don't know much, I'm pretty confident that what I do know and what I have experienced has qualified me to come up with my own opinions on health care and national affairs in general.

While I appreciate your sometimes angry, sometimes smug online diatribes, delivered with equally delicious portions of venom and... well, smugness, I need to let you know that the odds of you influencing my spiritual, political, or social opinions are remote. We're talking Powerball-remote. While you may be able to influence what flavor of frozen yogurt I might order, in these larger realms, your attempt to influence my opinions are as effective as trying to turn around a battleship with a hand held fan.

I also have access to the internet. I read all sorts of articles too. Moreover, I'm pretty confident that at this juncture in my life, I'm comfortable admitting when I don't know something. Which is all the time. But I do understand where and how to obtain resources that I believe can reliably give me the information I need. For every pie chart and Op-Ed piece you print, there are a million other ones that say all sorts of different things about the same issue.

So let's make a deal- I won't insult you by trying to change your mind about national affairs if you agree to show me the same courtesy. And how about this- let's agree to disagree. In my experience, if and when we do this with sincerity and respect, we can actually be of tremendous service to each other by shining light on points we might not have considered. Above all, let's agree to pursue whatever ideas work for each of us. Let's align with good ideas instead of people, parties, and institutions. I understand that this might be different for everybody, but I need to believe there can only be upside when people commit to doing the right thing.

I'm not asking anyone to change what they say or how they say it. I'm merely clarifying that in regards to myself, please understand that I do not develop or shape my beliefs on social networking sites and no matter how much better you want me to think the world is becoming, or no matter how much trouble you think this country is now in, I'm just going to keep on keepin' on. Yanno?

Very best regards,


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kool Things

With the sometimes staggering amount of free time I seem to find on my hands, I often seize the opportunity to try out new things. Being somewhat compulsive, I generally ride these experiences into the ground, never to return again (I'm talking to you, I See Hawks in L.A.). Some of these things are so awesome however, that they stick. Today I share with you some things that have stood my test of whimsy and that I highly endorse:

The Spike Mat.
If you follow me on Twitter (@JoeDaly_SD), you have heard me incessantly tweet about how stoked I am to spike out. The spike mat is something I found in Sweden this summer, when all my friends there were raving about their "spikmatta." Medieval sounding, to be sure, the spike mat is a thin foam bed about the size of your back wrapped in canvas cover that has about a hundred little plastic circles on it. Each circle is made of hard plastic, like Legos, each covered in about 12 little spikes. Ok, I know it sounds crazy, but you put it down on your bed, couch, floor, etc., and lay on it. Shirt off, btw. It might feel a bit uncomfortable when you first lie back on it, or when you adjust yourself to it, but soon thereafter, you get hit with a wave or relaxation. It is essentially giving yourself acupuncture. I routinely fall asleep on mine. It is a supreme way to relax, to treat a sore neck/shoulders (roll up a towel and put it under the mat, so your neck is craned over it), and to decompress after a workout. Listening to an iPod with a groovy mix completes the experience. http://yantraway.com

Flavored licorice.
Licorice is low fat and addresses my never-ending sugar craving. At Henry's Market, I found a wide array of flavors- watermelon, grape, green apple, raspberry, etc. I keep a couple bags in my desk and at home. Great way to snack lightly while feeling like you're throwing caution to the wind.

This animated show is four years old now and has yet to receive the kind of acclaim it most surely deserves. Brendon Small, who writes the episodes, is actually a trained comedian who also graduated from the Berklee College of Music. He is a ridiculously talented metal guitarist and songwriter, who writes an original death/thrash metal song for each episode. But you don't have to be a fan of death metal to enjoy the show- the characters are chiefly the fictitious band Dethklok, who are the biggest band in the world, such that they are one of the largest economies and who are so influential on world events that a secret global tribunal tracks their every move. The band members are horribly self-centered multi millionaires who are so coddled by their rockstar lives that they don't know WHERE to find food, let alone how to prepare it. They care only about being "brutal" and being "metal" and have no regard for their fans and often each other. The plots are creative, hilarious, and for seasons 1 and 2, only 11 minutes each. And everyone who is anyone in metal has been a guest voice- from Slash, to Metallica, to King Diamond. http://www.adultswim.com/shows/metalocalypse/index.html

Hot Yoga.
I started doing this nine months ago and have been hooked ever since. I am as flexible as a glass rod, and with a body battered by sports injuries, I had little hope of taking to yoga, let alone in scorching heat. In my first class, I almost had to leave because the heat was so much. Then I went again, and again, and now I'm totally addicted to it. Classes are 60 minutes each and they jack the temp up to about 106. Some classes are 110+, which are ridiculous. But it's fun, the vibe is very mellow and friendly, and I feel like a million bucks when I'm done. I'm currently doing 30 classes in 30 days. I'm on day 24 and rocking. http://yogatropics.com

Penny Stocks.
Ok, this is random, but since I started working in investor relations, I've learned a ridiculous amount of information in the penny stock market (stocks under $5 a share). While any kind of investing is little more than a calculated gamble, penny stock investing puts the "S" in "Speculative." Still, by investing within my means and keeping my expectations low, it's been a fun way to follow the economy, watch some very interesting companies, and make a little money along the way. And there's always the chance that one of the companies will blow up, get acquired, or roll out the next iPod. Way better odds than the lottery. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_stock

Other things I love:
Mozy Cafe(Leucadia, CA)
Taylor 614ce Grand Auditorium acoustic/electric guitar
MOJO, UNCUT, Q music magazines
Italian Biscotti flavored creamer
T-shirts from http://sickidiots.com/
Zip up track jackets
Shoes from http://mooshoes.com (vegan/vegetarian clothing)
Tahitian Vanilla Bahama Bay car air fresheners
New music from Steve Poltz ("Dreamhouse" album)

Call or write with any questions.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Freaking the Fuck Out

Just got back from the vet's, where I had to leave little Cabo behind to get stitches. Not a blog for the easily grossed out.

First of all, she is apparently fine. Basically I cut through a chunk of her ear with some scissors while trying to cut off a knot of fur.

We went for a hike today in the canyon, during which Cabo came upon a big muddy puddle on the trail, left over from the rains last week. Before I could figure out the inevitable, she dove into the puddle and started rolling around like a pig, wriggling on her back and snorting in pure porcine pleasure. I could only laugh.

My friend Jean had come down from Los Angeles with her dog Hoover, and with Cabo and Lola, we were just starting out on the hike. Cabo knew that she had crossed some sort of line, but happiness comes from acceptance, and I knew that there was no use getting upset or even turning around. When you own a dog, that's part of the deal, and truth be told, it was really funny.

When we got to the turnaround, Lola let me know that she was completely gassed. So I carried her back for most of the return trek. Which was also, sort of funny, although it was a hot day and carrying a furry little 30 pound weight up and down a canyon is every bit the workout one might think.

We all got back to my house and I hosed Cabo down, quickly realizing that it would be much easier to just take her to the dog wash. Ironically, I have an appointment for her to be groomed on Monday. But so deep and caked was the mud in her fur, that I realized I needed to take her to the dog wash today, otherwise she'd be tracking mud all over the house, and I've got guests coming in a few days.

First though, we all went to lunch where Jean and I got some tasty vegetarian grub and I ordered a huge side order of bacon for the dogs. Then it was off to the dog wash.

I got Cabo in her tub and started hosing her down. She was a rock star- just standing there and letting me shower her with warm water pumped through the high pressure hose. Then I noticed the fur matted beneath her ears. I got some scissors from the grooming table, which scissors were pretty dull and wimpy. I came back and went to work on the side closest to me, cutting out a little lump of puppy dreadlocks about the size of a penny.

I found one on the other side, and started cutting away, and it was only when she flinched that I realized I had cut through much more than just fur. I had cut a deep gash through her skin. She hadn't made a peep. Only a slight shudder let me know something was amiss.

There was no blood, but I almost puked when I saw how deep it was. Again, no whimpering from Cabo- she gamely sat there wagging her tail and staring at all the other dogs being groomed. I got her out of the tub, showed what had happened to Jean, who was scrubbing down Hoover in another tub. I knew that I had to get to the vet. Even if Cabo was fine, the cut clearly needed attention.

I dropped off Jean and Hoover on the way to the vet, said a quick goodbye, and floored it to the vet, where they were waiting for me (I called on the way).

The vet tech saw that I was completely freaked out, and told me not to worry- that she had been a dog groomer and this stuff happened all the time. Then she looked at the cut and the reassuring smile disappeared a bit and she said, "Oh. You got her good. OK, we'll be right back."




As hard as it had been to keep it together, that little incident sent me over the emotional edge. Cabo snuggled up to me as I sat on the bench in the empty little examination room, and still wet from her shower, we just held on to each other until the vet came into the room, after what felt like two years, but what was really about 2 minutes.

The vet looked at Cabo and then said that

>>Vet just called as I was typing- Cabo's OK!!<<


OK, so the vet began reassuring me almost immediately, which brought forth all the guilt, fear, and helplessness that had filled my stomach, chest, and throat for the past 20 minutes. She said that everything was going to be fine, that they could fix her up no problem, and that there would be no permanent damage at all.

Then she looked at Cabo, who was still wagging her tail, and said, "Your dad's really stressed out. He needs to just relax because you'll be fine. He should go have a beer."

Which I thought was really funny for a number of reasons.

Anyhoo, they gave me a big fat invoice and told me to come back in ninety minutes to pick her up. They were really, really nice, as they always are at this place. I took her leash and stepped out into the golden hot California sun, wiped my eyes, and donned my sunglasses.

I was filled with gratitude that I can actually afford to deal with this sort of thing financially, but more grateful that I'm at a place in my life where I can remain calm under pressure and live in the solution. The whole time the shit was going down, I kept thinking to myself, "You know the solution to this problem and you're in it- it will all be fine." Still consumed with guilt, I could still find the silver lining- that there will be plenty of time to look back when the storm has passed. And in the storm, having faith that the right thing would see us through gave me the strength and peace of mind to get through it.

As you read above, they just called and said that Cabo is fine, everything went great, and I can pick her up in 20 minutes. I'm so freaking excited. Intellectually I know what I did was simply an accident. Nonetheless, I know I'll be beating myself up for quite a bit. But seeing Cabo's resilience and her sunny, loving spirit will be just what the doctor ordered.

I'll take snuggles from Cabo over a beer any fucking day of the week.

And I'm really glad I bought her a plate of bacon for lunch.

Apologies for typos, shitty grammar, and any repetitive/nonsensical writing. No time to proofread- I'm going to bring Cabo home now.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Case of Nervous Breakdownness

Been awhile since I've blogged. Didya miss me? Really? Why not? Fine. Whatever.

Since I last tippy tapped away on my keyboard, I got myself a fancy pants legit writing gig! At the prodding (and prodding, and prodding...) of my fumetastic friend Anad, I finally submitted an application to "The Nervous Breakdown" (http://thenervousbreakdown.com). It's a literary community led by the most talented and humorous author Brad Listi. Anad has been reading him for years, and she got me hooked when he did a blog a day for a year.

Anyhoo, I filled out an application and submitted a bunch of writing samples, and after about three weeks, they told me that TNB was only for people who were serious about their writing (but in a fun way), and that I should send them some writing samples if I wanted them to consider me as a contributor.

Oooooooooooooo k.

After re-sending and not hearing from them for a month, I finally received an email from Brad Listi one day last week at something like 4 a.m. PST. I made the cut! And so after all the "Welcome Aboard" ado, he advised that I would be expected to contribute at least one piece a month, which piece should be a fairly well-edited rumination on anything I wanted, so long as I avoided blogginess. Btw- lots of made-up words in this blog, if you haven't noticed.

So I've spent the last week trying to figure out my first column. It's been freaking HARD. I know, I said "hard."

I started writing one thing, but didn't like it. Then I started writing something else, and got to five pages single spaced before I realized 1) it was too long; and 2) it was super boring.

So yesterday I started chopping it down, and actually found that I liked a few bits and pieces. I cracked me up. But overall, I was still underwhelmed. I knew I had to start over. Fuck.

When I got home from a hectic day today, I knew I needed to figure this out. I found myself concerned that I had taken on something far more stressful than I had anticipated. I wondered if a monthly column was more of a monthly headache. And despite a lifetime of experiences and several lifetimes of opinions, I had nothing to say.

I busted out my new spike mat, plugged in my iPod, and started grooving to old school folk- Gordon Lightfoot, John Prine, and Bob Denver. Listening to Bob Denver crushed me. In a good way. I forgot just how special he was. He slowed me down and turned me around, and when he finished singing, I turned my iPod off and just lay there for another 10 minutes. Then I had it.

I ran downstairs, pulled out the Macbook, and three hours later, I have my first draft done. I'm not much of an editor, but I do know that the best editing is done at least a day after the draft. But I have to say, I'm positively giddy with anticipation. I love the subject I chose, I love the ideas that came to me as I wrote, and I love the feelings I felt writing it. It was an awesome experience.

So tomorrow I hope to have it edited, and if I can exercise a little restraint, I'll wait another day or two to roll it out. I'm a little nervous. In a breaky way.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Carlsbad Half- In the Can


So the race is over and I have to say that it turned out to be a nice little surprise. Finished with zero pain or discomfort, had great running weather, and came in at a respectable time, given my irresponsible approach to training. Fredo, my brah who flew in from Chicago to run it with me, was equally unprepared, but we both ended up having a downright pleasurable race! A recap;

Registration at the Expo

I hate Expos. For those who have never attended one, most races, especially large ones like Carlsbad (10,000 runners), have an expo for a day or two before the race. It's in some hotel or tent near the start/finish line, and it's where you pick up your race number. You also get a goodie bag full of protein bars and pamphlets for every marathon within two time zones of your race. There will be rows and rows of booths selling everything from running shoes and clothing to free chiropractic exams. You pick up your t-shirt at the expo (but it's bad luck to wear it until you've completed the race), and maybe buy some other race gear.

But the reason I hate them is that they're full of runners. Now, I know- I'm a runner. Or I used to be an avid runner. Now I'm just a guy who runs every now and then. But you'll see people at the expo who actually put on running gear to register. That's right- you'll see dudes wearing running tights and ear muffs to drive into a mall to pick up their number. It seems to be more of a guy thing than a girl thing. It's almost like their egos are so tied to running, that even at an event held ONLY FOR RUNNERS, and where everyone is presumed to be a runner, they want to make sure you know that they run.

Lots of these dudes will insist on wearing t-shirts and jackets from races past. They will also make sure they try every free sample available at the expo- protein drinks, chips of protein bars, bananas, etc. Runners are also notoriously cheap. Don't believe me? Cut a protein bar into 8 equally-sized pieces and put them on a plate on a small table outside your house. Look out your window after 15 minutes and you'll see a group of skinny people wearing long sleeved t-shirts with race logos and running tights, chewing away at the samples while complaining how dry they are.

Anyway, we registered, got our shirts, and got the hell out of there.

The Pre-race Meal:

Most people insist on carbo loading the night before a race. Technically you're supposed to do it two nights before, but whatever. You typically eat pasta to lay a base for the race the next day. You want to avoid crappy or greasy foods, and anything with lots of caffeine or alcohol, as they both dehydrate you.

Fredo and I went to Leucadia Pizza for dinner. I had four Diet Cokes and a small cheese pizza. When we got home, I ate a sleeve of chocolate chip cookies and went to bed. Slept like a damned baby.

Race Day:

Runners are encouraged to lay out their running outfit the night before, pinning on their number then so they're not looking for safety pins at the start. They generally get to the race 60-90 minutes before to stretch and get a good place at the start line.

We left the house about an hour before the gun went off, and thanks to a shortcut, got there in 20 minutes. We waited in the car until the national anthem, then walked over to the start line without stretching or warming up. Loads of people running around the parking lot doing sprints, stretching out, and getting into the zone with their iPods. Fredo and I basically just checked our Facebook accounts on our phones until the last possible minute.

We both had Wave 1 bibs, which meant that we could be in the first 100 runners. But being lazy and unprepared, we slinked into Wave 3. Which meant it was 6 minutes from the start of the race until we reached the start line. Which was fine.

The weather was cool and having neither stretched nor warmed up, we were primed for pulling muscles. But being in a wave of probably a thousand runners, we were banging shoulders with the other runners for the first mile. It took us over ten minutes to get from the start line to the first mile marker.

The next few miles we settled in a bit, and from mile 4 on, I don't think anyone passed us. We got up to an 8:20 pace at the turnaround (mile 6.6), which felt great. We actually felt like we were going a little easy, so we picked it up a bit. No one could have been more surprised than us when we got to mile 7 and noticed we had gone from 8:20 to 7:50.

The rest of the race were were under the 8 minute mile pace. We started joking nervously that had we known we'd feel so good, we might have actually tried in those first 6 miles. So we picked it up again, and I think our last mile was about 7 minutes.

Super fun time. The crowds were great. The worst part of the whole race was the classic rock cover band at mile 2. Shockingly inept vocalist warbling a Doors cover on the way out. On the way back in, at mile 11, they were still playing. I think they were still doing the Doors an hour later.

We grabbed some acai smoothies at the post-race expo and got the hell out of there. By 11:20 we were having breakfast at the Beachside on Hwy 101, dug in for the AFC Championship game.

Soreness hit both of us at around 7 p.m., mainly when going up or down stairs. Otherwise, a consequence-free run.

So pleasantly surprised at our "success" that on the drive home from watching football, Fredo said, "Yanno, that race sort of makes me wonder what we could do if we actually trained for a race. Yanno? If we did speed work, and really followed a program for a couple months. We could probably run a 1:25."

Then we both laughed and ordered a pizza for the second game.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Running on Empty

I'm registered in next weekend's Carlsbad Half Marathon and I am not remotely prepared.

The worst part about it is that I'm not nearly as concerned as I probably should be.

Last year I set a PR in the Carlsbad half, clocking in 13.1 miles in 93 minutes. That's a 7:08 pace for anyone who doesn't appreciate my awesomeness. Ok, that was braggery but HELL, if a brother can't brag on a 1:33, about what CAN he brag??

Anyway, my come-uppance is 9 days away, so shut it. You'll get your satisfaction. I like to get about 20-25 miles a week in when training for a half. I would normally do 2-3 five milers during the week and a tenner on Sunday. That simple program has gotten me through a hell of a lot of races. I keep using the word "hell" a lot. I must have Pat Robertson on the brain.

But since I've started doing yoga, running has become the ginger step child of my workout regimen. In the past three months, I've been chalking up somewhere between 10 and 15 miles a week. My long run has been 8 measly miles. I'm going to shoot for ten tomorrow.

Fredo's coming out from Chicago to run it with me, and he promised that we could take it easy. Then, in what he genuinely meant as a measure of comfort to me, he suggested that we "go out easy and pick it up after nine miles."


I mean, come on. After nine miles of a race for which I didn't train, the only thing I'm going to be picking up are the pieces of my ego left strewn along the route, as 90% of the race passes me by.

My strategy shall be thus: start out slow, and pull back.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


(I've been going through some of my old writing, and found this. I think it's the favorite thing I've ever wrote. I'm going to post a couple more. Hope you enjoy.)

The only finger left on Danny’s body was his right index finger and he called it “Slim.”

One of Danny’s favorite actors had been Mr. Slim Pickens (R.I.P.), and he felt that the name honored both the actor and the finger. It was a good finger because it got shit done. Danny could still, believe it or not, wrap it around a pencil and write his own name. A shitty, scrawly, little-kid-wrote-it looking name, but for court documents and welfare maintenance forms, it did the trick.

Danny was happy. It was a positively gorgeous day and he was on his way to pick up $120 million dollars. At least that’s what tonight’s jackpot was. Danny Phelan was quite sure that tonight was his night. He felt it. A strange calm like he’d never known before. In fact, he had already passed through the initial stages of disbelief and euphoria- he was now sailing through the acceptance stage, knowing that in a matter of hours, his ship would sail in. Tonight would be the night that the chick who used to do the weather, (whose name he forgot but who had since been replaced by a black girl with long straight hair and curves like the Monte Carlo), would pull out, in succession: 7-13-15-28-33-42, with the lucky ball… 11!

It was weird how Danny could sense things. He remembered when he lost his first finger, how he saw it coming months away. Danny had looked at his hand one day and understood that his left finger was not long for his hand. Danny’s whole left hand had gradually gone numb, and then eventually cold. But it took a period of months for his hand to fully rot away, finger by finger, knuckle by knuckle, whatever the rest of the hand is called by whatever the rest of the hand is called. But that first motherfucking finger… that was the bitch of the bunch.

Danny was sitting in the lobby of Jiffy Lube, waiting for the portly Mexican to return his car to him. There was an array of magazines available, all current, and Danny selected US Weekly. He loved the bit at the end where comedians made fun of celebrities who showed up at big time functions wearing ridiculous outfits. He particularly liked the one where Kevin Costner was wearing some contrived surfer outfit, and one of the comedians commented, “Dresses With Wolves.” “Fuck Kevin Costner and fuck his ten fingers,” Danny had thought.

As Danny sat in Jiffy Lube, waiting for the verdict on his Impala, he noticed that his left hand and his pinky in particular, was cold. Too cold. He had long put off visiting a doctor because he had no health insurance, and he figured the coldness and loss of motion was due to a hockey injury. Still, the fact that his pinky had turned black and flaky had developed into a full-blown preoccupation for Danny. When no one was around (which was most of the time), Danny would talk out loud to his hand and try to bargain the finger back.

”OK- you stay on my hand, and I won’t use you to pick my nose.”


Danny sensed that somehow the pinky knew that he was a right index finger nose picker from way back, so the pinky wouldn’t fall for that empty bargain.

“Alright, then if you stay on my hand, I’ll wash you every day. More than the other fingers. And I won’t touch anything hot with you, and I won’t use you in any fights. In fact, I’ll make you the president of all the fingers. You’ll be in charge. What do you think?”

No answer.

But the inevitable… well, it was inevitable.

Danny had been sitting in the Jiffy Lube waiting room, thumbing (with his right hand), through US Weekly, holding his left hand on his left lap. Occasionally, he would whack his left thigh with his left hand in the misguided hope that applying blunt trauma to his senseless limb would somehow resurrect its sensory capacities. By now it had become an unconscious habit- he’d bang on his thigh without even noticing. So it took a moment for him to recognize that at 1:17 p.m., he whacked his thigh and brought his hand back up one finger short.

There was his pinky, sitting on the floor like a little raccoon turd. Pleased as punch to be sitting there and offending everyone. Danny regarded his hand with something approximating admiration, rather than horror. “Holy shit,” he thought, “it’s gone.” Danny however, did not get up from his seat, nor did he place the magazine down.

While some might have seized such an opportunity to launch into a blood curdling stream of profane disbelief, Danny simply murmured, “Huh. That’s some fucked up shit there.”

Danny was nonplussed, because Danny was more laid- back than Ghandi on Xanax. He could observe the most shocking events with no more than bemused detachment. And so Danny looked at the departure of his finger with scientific curiosity, rather than abject terror. And so he simply sighed, picked the finger up with his left (and lighter) hand, and folded it in the US Weekly. The black, rotted little metacarpal would rest in the peace of a story about Christina Aguilera’s reported relationship with Justin Timberlake. Danny got up, threw the magazine and its little treasure into the trash can, and sat back down to wait for his car.

He wondered if there was some law that prohibited driving with less than ten fingers. He had no idea. He withdrew his left hand and noticed that the bloodless color that had consumed his erstwhile finger had spread to his left ring finger. It wasn’t looking good for the remaining tenants of his left hand.

As the next eight months unfolded, the remaining fingers on Danny’s left hand each made their exit one by one, like children going off to college. Perhaps the most embarrassing for Danny was his left index finger. He was in The High Street Pub, watching the baseball with the other regulars, when a base runner was thrown out attempting a steal. In fact, the base runner had been safe, and Danny loudly offered to no one in particular that the second baseman’s tag had never touched the runner. Reflexively, Danny pulled his left hand out of his pocket to point at the television (his right hand, growing more numb by the day, was clutching his Negro Modelo). As Danny pointed at the replay, the left index finger simply fell off as if it had been held there by a piece of tape. Ironically, the finger fell into his ash tray. Some elephants walk miles and miles to find their final resting place. Somehow they know. Danny wondered if this were the case with fingers as well.

The regulars, long aware of Danny’s declining finger population, pretended like they didn’t see anything, although for the rest of the afternoon, everyone’s liquor consumption increased dramatically.

Now, eight months and 9 finger departures later, Danny walked down North Avenue, just like he did every Saturday, with two Jim Beam and Cokes in his system, approximately half of one spleef, and a smile a mile wide. “Shit happens,” wasn’t just Danny’s philosophy, it was the phrase that woke his soul up every morning, sucked it off, and made it coffee. Danny still had two legs and a mind like a “government supercomputer,” as he’d tell people, and he was simply happy to be alive on this fine, fine day.

As Danny continued on, he wondered if there was some special group for lottery winners, where they could gather together socially and discuss the finer points of insane wealth. He hoped that if there were such a group, nickel and dime daily lotto winners weren’t invited. The top prize for the daily lotto was approximately $5,000.00. “What the hell would a five thousand dollar winner know about being rich,” Danny thought to himself as he chuckled his way down the street.

And then it happened.

Right there in broad daylight, Danny’s nose-picking days came to an abrupt, anti-climactic ending. With his left stump cradled in his jacked pocket, and his right stump in the other pocket, Danny instinctively knew that he was now fingerless. Having lost all sensation in his hand long ago, Danny did not have the capacity to recognize any sensation past either elbow. But somehow he knew, like a mother knows when her child is in danger, that at some point during the constitutional, his last remaining finger had bid him sweet adieu.

Danny resolved to put this one in a jar, with some of that liquid that preserves pigs and eggs and stuff. The finger deserved as much. It had once spent an evening charging and retreating into the nether regions of one Miss Melissa Boudreau, who had later gone on to a career as an exotic dancer at the John Steinbeck-themed strip club, “The Grapes of Snatch.”

Danny did not break stride, refusing to pull out and regard the stump where his last remaining finger once lived. He didn’t care. After tonight, he’d be able to buy ten new fingers and ten new toes (many of which were currently plotting an escape). Heck, he might even get one of those Hollywood plastic surgeons to give him a couple extra fingers, just in case.

Finally Danny arrived at the convenience store where he had played the various lottery games with religious zeal over the past 20 years. He ambled his way over to where a heavyset woman with brittle looking grey hair sat behind the counter. She smiled.

“Hiya Danny,” she said, “How ya feelin’?”

Danny smiled back and then ducked his head down into his shirt pocket and came back up with a five dollar bill in his teeth. He withdrew his finger-free stumps from either pocket, and used them like a pair of tongs to remove the bill from his mouth. He somewhat awkwardly placed the dollar on the counter and said, “How am I feeling? Lucky…”