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Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Podcast Of Jeff!: A Conversation With Vile Electrodes

The Podcast Of Jeff!: A Conversation With Vile Electrodes














The Podcast Of Jeff - A Conversation with Alan Castle

The Podcast Of Jeff - A Conversation with Alan Castle






A Tale Of Two Testes

Recently the big C - Cancer - has been on my mind. Earlier this year I gave up alcoholic beverages for an entire month in order to raise funds (and awareness) for Cancer research UK (I raised £205).

In mid-April (I think - I'm not sure, it's all a bit of a blur, but then, life is a bit of a blur. Not a bit of Blur, like Graham Coxon, but just a tad blurry.).... where was I? Ah yes, I went to the doc after discovering a lump about the size of a garden pea just under the skin in my groin area. Not on the naughty bits - just next to the naughty bits. It had actually been there for a few months but I felt it had increased in size, so I went to deal with it, and the doc put me at ease after reassuring me that it was only a sebaceous cyst.

"Nothing to worry about, Mr. Hickmott," he intoned, "but if it gets bigger, we can remove it if necessary."

OK. So... no worries.

Then a short while after that, my friend Marissa, a single mom with a teenage son who lives in Illinois (I mean, a mom in Illinois with a teenage son, not the mother of a teenager who has fled to Illinois for some reason or other, although that does sound like the start of a Gus Van Sant movie) went for a mammogram after finding a lump in her sideboob (her word, not mine) and was told it was cancerous and had to undergo a charming-sounding procedure called lumpectomy. (Who came up with that name? It surely has to have a more technical, unpronounceable word for a name? Let's see what Wikipedia has to say... tylectomy. Well then, whoever decided on lumpectomy was simply dumbing it down for the average Joe Schmoe. Condescending medical bastards. It's like going to the barber and asking for a hairectomy, or going to the Apple store for a bankaccountectomy.) In a tylectomy, a small portion or, ahem, "lump" is removed, the idea being that the boob can be saved rather than removed completely. Aaaanyway. 

So she, being a single mom, with a teenage son, without adequate Obamacare, was faced with the prospect of a long recovery period, undergoing chemotherapy which apparently knocks seven bells out of a person, not able to work for an indeterminate stretch, and being broke, as broke as a really broke person who's really really broke. On top of that her car was going kablooey.

Her friends and family have done online fundraisers and local businesses are involved helping out with charity auctions and benefit gigs etc, and I have done as much as a friend on the other side of the planet can do by sharing all the links, mentioning TeamRissa all the time and wearing the bright fuchsia T-shirt when out and about on my travels.



Then just a few weeks ago I was taking my shower in the evening when I felt something odd.

Just considering how to say this without running the risk of having you all switch to a funny cat video on YooT Oob.

We men, you know, we're... we, uh...

A year or five ago there was a big to-do in the press and online media because This Morning, a daytime TV magazine-style show presented by two former Children's TV presenters did a live in-the-studio segment with a live bloke, clad in merely a bathrobe. Demonstrating how to check one's balls for lumps etc. He was there standing for all intents and purposes practically nekkid in the TV studio knowing that waiting millions were agog with prurient interest, staring in wonderment and awe as he moved his dicky-doo-dah to one side and proceeded to fondle his nutsack. There was a similar flurry of shock and awe when they repeated the process in 2011.


I wrote at the time something to the effect that I did not think that men needed to be encouraged to touch their junk. We do it all the time. We are men. Not only do we do it because it might feel quite nice, but also because, well, ladies, just imagine having all that extra flesh knocking around in your knickers all day, and how many times you'd have to adjust, straighten, rearrange, scratch, etc. Yeah. We do it out of sheer necessity.

So it was that before I took my shower, I had cause to redistribute said dangly particles. And that's when it happened. I felt something that I had not noticed before. A lump.

Now, to illustrate for you, let's say that the shape of the average male testicle is roughly akin to the shape of a kiwi fruit - without the fur, of course. Now imagine that you have owned a kiwi fruit-shaped object for a very long time, say, your entire life - and one day it feels like someone has taken a lump of Blu-Tack and slapped it onto the side of your kiwi-fruit-shaped-object. Yeah, that's what it felt (sorry, feels, for it is still there) like.

Naturally I was alarmed, and what with all the hoo-ha in the press about cancer, celebs dying of cancer, having treatment for cancer, and of course Marissa, one of my best friends, having it and undergoing horrible treatment to get rid of it, cancer was a word looming large in my mind's eye when I first felt this lump.

Naturally, because I don't believe in losing my cool or having secrets, I told Laura straight away, and the following morning booked an appointment with the doctor.

Fast forward a couple days and I'm in the doctor's office with Dr. Okeke (a very nice man, I can recommend him highly) examining my male area and telling me that it was probably nothing to worry about. Most likely a cyst.

Well, I asked, what's the deal with cysts? Apparently way back when, they would drain cysts of this nature to reduce the swelling. But sadly they discovered this used to do more harm than good, because the cysts would come back with a vengeance. Not only that, the entry wounds would get infected and/or sore and this was deemed to be a bad thing. So it was wisely reckoned that leaving things that caused no obvious pain or harm alone was a good idea.

Nonetheless, he booked me in for an ultrasound which would determine what was what. Now you know me, I'm always one to find humour in situations most would find grim. So he's on his computer filling in the form to order an ultrasound exam. The abbreviation for 'UltraSound Scan' is of course USS. So there he is, typing the words "USS SCROTUM" and all I can think is "God Bless Her and all who sail in her!"

So a few days go by during which I am still chuckling at the above joke.

Then last Saturday I arrive at the doctor's office to see the diagnostic radiographer for a scan. When I get to the door of the room I see his name.

Marc Manzano.

A guy I went to school with and hadn't seen for approximately, I dunno, thirty years maybe? Unbelievable. What a reunion. If someone had told me when we were at school together that one day in the future Marc Manzano would be applying warm gel to my testes and scanning them for lumps....

Well, scan them he did, and he actually found two lumps. Both cysts. One on Righty, approx 17mm in size, and another on Lefty, 5mm in size. Both benign, nothing to worry about. Thankfully.

But it makes you think, doesn't it? So guys - check regularly, or else you could be having an impromptu school reunion sometime soon.

Oh, and let me finish by reposting a sentiment aired by Marissa on her FB feed today.

During this month of Breast Cancer Awareness, I want to say this: while the term "save the tatas" is cute and cheeky, it is also dehumanizing for someone going through chemo to save her life. I'm not alone in this as I read many similar remarks on the Breast Cancer page when they posted the phrase painted on a pumpkin.
I'm so much more than my breasts. I've lost my hair and struggle daily to maintain my sense of dignity, humility, humor, and self esteem. Most days I feel like shit, but forge ahead in an attempt to maintain a sense of normalcy for Spenser. I'm gaining weight due to the meds despite my inability to eat much.
I'm going through treatments to save my life. Thank you. Feel free to share this if you feel similarly.
Please check the links below to read more about breast cancer, cancer in general and the people supporting Marissa while she fights the big C.


www.facebook.com/groups/TeamRissa

http://www.polyvore.com/wear_pink_for_marissa/set?id=136339241

http://teamrissa.artseesdiner.com/

http://sueanneshirzay.indiemade.com/product/marissa-cluster-earrings-plum-quartz-and-sapphire?tid=31

www.booster.com/teamrissa1

Marissa (before the hair loss) and her son Spenser. 
http://checkemlads.com/

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicularcancer/

http://www.yourprivates.org.uk/

http://www.againstbreastcancer.org.uk/

http://www.abcf.org/


#TeamRissa

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Adventures With Skype (There's Something About Jeff and Mary's Conversation)

Since 2007 I have been a Facebook friend of my former colleague, blogger and general fun person Marissa Rapier, who authors Rapier's Wit (Love, Life and the Pursuit of the Perfect Bra). Recently she discovered a lump in her sideboob (her words, not mine) and got it checked out. It was cancer and she underwent lumpectomy and is now undergoing chemo. 


Marissa's recent before and after shots.


Her supporters are many, not least because of the fact that she has a boatload of siblings, and other relatives. Her niece Megan started the ball rolling with an online fundraiser with Booster.com where you could either donate directly or buy a specially designed T-shirt in a fetching shade of fuchsia. 

Then her sister Mary E LaLuna kept the ball up in the air by mentioning Marissa all over the Interwebs and just plain being supportive in any way imaginable. 

Local establishments joined in, such as a wine bar holding a benefit night.

I bought a shirt and reposted anything and everything to do with Marissa's fundraiser. I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and dedicated it in part to TeamRissa.






My buddies Clark and Michael followed suit.  Both wearing the pink shirts.







During all of this I had a lot of interaction with both Marissa and her sister Mary. Mary hosts a radio show on BlogTalkRadio called ArtSees Diner. She interviews all kinds of cool people, and she replied to a tweet (or an FB status, I can't recall really) that she'd like it if I was a guest on her show sometime. I replied that I'd be flattered and honoured to do it and so we set about making a date for the show.

As the days, hours and minutes ticked down, I grew steadily more nervous (even though there was nothing to be concerned about after all - but still, I always get nervous in these situations).

My main worry was the Skype connection - I always use Skype for recording my podcasts and so generally one uses Skype addresses, right? But Mary assured me this was not necessary and that when the show started a Skype button would pop up, and with a simple click I'd be on the air.

I gave it a trial run with a different computer and a different show the previous evening. It seemed to work. So, fine. All is well, oui?

Non.

Even though my laptop, which is fairly new, and runs Windows 8.1, and the version of Skype I have is the latest, it had to mess up for me, didn't it?

The show began. The Skype button popped up. I clicked it. 

A popup window informed me that it would be closing the show's window to avoid some sort of feedback issue, and I figured that was cool. Another window then opened and this had a button in it saying Click To Talk.

I clicked it.

Immediately it changed to a window in the Skype colours and patterns, doubting that I even had Skype installed. "Do you have Skype installed?" it asked, a little aggressively, I thought. There were two buttons available to then click. Either "Download Skype" or "I Already Have Skype".

Well, as I said, I already have Skype. The latest version. I could not be more up-to-date.

Click. 

Nothing.

So I tried again. And again. And again once more.

For ten minutes I struggled with this damn stupid piece of uncooperative software.

This is all happening while Mary is talking and trying to keep the audience interested by playing music and promising that I would be on the air momentarily. I can't hear any of this, of course. All I hear is the sound of doom as the buttons tell me time and again that I don't have Skype and I really ought to think about installing it.

So finally, after coming up against the same brick wall of silence time and again, I decide to do what it says. Logic is telling me that I have Skype and that there is no earthly reason why the stupid thing shouldn't just work like a dream, but this is no time for logic. this is an emergency. my interview on live radio is about to go down the tubes. Let's install the piggin' thing.

Of course, installing anything, even with a shit-hot computer, the fastest broadband connection and the best will in the world, is gonna take some time.

Finally after I have sweat out five buckets of pure adrenaline, the old creaky version of Skype that the machine insisted I install is available for use. I fire it up, struggle to remember my user name and password, and go back and click the dreaded button again. "Click To Talk".

Finally I hear the ringtone and the reassuring message that I am but a hair's breadth away from being live on the air with Mary. Then I hear her voice introducing me. Phew.

17 minutes had ticked by while Mary played three tunes and bigged me up to the skies.

As it turned out, the finished show sounded so good you wouldn't have guessed I been this close to throwing my laptop out the window just minutes before.

Here is the link to it.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/artseesdiner/2014/09/14/from-the-world-of-jeff-social-media-extraordinaire-jeff-hickmott

And all the links to Marissa's fundraiser are here -  facebook.com/groups/TeamRissa/

There are 11 days left to get one of those beautiful pink shirts too ... 
www.booster.com/teamrissa1

Not only that, but in listening back to the show, I have become a fan of DC Rapier. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

From The World of Jeff, Social Media Extraordinaire, Jeff Hickmott! 09/14 by ArtSees Diner Radio | Blogs Podcasts

From The World of Jeff, Social Media Extraordinaire, Jeff Hickmott! 09/14 by ArtSees Diner Radio | Blogs Podcasts



By clicking the above link tonight at 7pm  UK time, that's 1pm Central Time, 2pm Eastern, 11am Pacific, you will hear yours truly being interviewed LIVE on BlogTalkRadio. Lord only knows what we are going to talk about and I only hope I don't end up sounding like a stammering doofus.



"I, um, err, well, y'know, it's like, um...."



I also hope I can live up to the hype because as you can see by clicking on the link, host Mary E. LaLuna (sister of my good friend, ex-boss and fellow blogger Marissa Rapier)has bigged me up something fierce!



Of course, if you can't catch the show live, clicking the link will lead you to the recording of the show and you can listen to my inane ramblings at your leisure.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Foodcast Of Jeff! Cooking Live!

The Foodcast Of Jeff! Cooking Live!

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