I am so glad that the words “either” and “or” are in our vocabulary. Nothing can identify choice better than these two words.

Consider.

I either watch too many movies, or I have a too-active imagination.

Consider.

Earlier today, Patti and I went to Starbucks for coffee and a little breakfast. After we picked up our drinks and took a seat, we looked around at fellow Starbucks aficionados. Inside, there were seats for about 15 people.  Of those in their seats, about five had their computers open to God-knows-what. Unless you were so rude as to hover over their shoulder and look at what they are doing, you wouldn’t know.

Oh, wait, that point-of-view doesn’t take into account the latest news sweeping our country. These individuals could be working, surfing the Web, or they could be some NSA employee hacking the content of the other computer users sitting comfortably in their seats — all the while the users not knowing whether their files are being hacked or not. Too many movies and too much unbridled imagination to prove this wrong.

I’ll never take a computer to Starbucks any more — even though I have nothing for anyone to hack.

But, after a few minutes, a young man came into the store. He was wearing a black suit and was as broad as he was tall — not a marathoner by any means. He had a white earpiece that started in his left ear and disappeared down his collar — much like you might see on a Secret Serviceperson. He moved to every corner of the store and just looked at the store from those vantage points.

He finally ordered a coffee and, once he picked it up, he placed it on a table. He returned to his car parked outside the store. When he returned to the coffee shop a few moments later, he no longer had the earpiece.

Either I have watched too many movies or have too active an imagination. For a moment, the earpiece didn’t look like anyone’s hands-free phone remote. So, I’m thinking a President is about to come in and order and this guy’s the Secret Service front man. Or, a Kardashian was getting ready to come in and order. Heck, it could have been a front man for Sandra Bullock or Matthew McConaghy, who have been known to spend time in the Austin area. It was just a bit unusual to see that kind of earpiece; especially since he did not have the appearance of anyone who exercised to stay in shape.

Well, part of “either” and “or” that we face every day can be either very exciting OR the very boring and not-unusual-at-all. I guess we want something very unusual to happen when we see something unusual, but when the guy returned without his earpiece, he took his coffee, set up his computer and then blended in with the other customers. Nothing at all distinguishable about him.

So, Patti and I finished our coffee and left. But as we were leaving, I could not shake the following song from my mind. Enjoy! By the way, where can I get a gig that pays me to slap my leg?

*****

Tomorrow, it’s off to chemo and to see what the latest CT scan shows. Thank you all for your prayers and messages of well-being. God bless you all.

If you guessed The Mamas and the Papas from the title, you guessed right. All the way back to 1965. Great song and I hear it even in quiet moments.

I bring up this music because it is a keen substitute for a term that I really don’t like — the bucket list. I really dislike that term because it has certain implications that I just don’t want to recognize. For example, it implies someone has some unfinished business/entertainment/travel/topics to take care of before your term in office expires, so to speak. For that reason, pure desperation to clear the slate, I just don’t like that term. I liked the movie, but you can skip the term, por favor.

Derek gets a new hole

So, some months ago, Patti and I were here in Murphy and I told her that I wanted to talk and she should probably have a seat before I started. Well, you can imagine the look she gave me. We sat down across from each other at the breakfast table. This was serious.

‘What’s this all about?” Patti likes to cut to the chase, particularly when I approach her that we need to talk.

‘Well, there is a decision that I have made, and I need to discuss it with you.”  Ok, I didn’t cut to the chase.

Right then and there, I got ‘the look.’ That meant, cut to the chase.

“I want to get an earring.” There, I said it and I was out with it.

“What? WHAT?!” I got Patti’s look of surprise.

“You know, I’m not working any more. For a very long time, I’ve wanted to have a tasteful earring, like Harrison Ford.” I told her that if Han Solo and Indiana Jones can wear an earring, then so can I. When I saw Harrison Ford wearing a very small, tasteful circle-style earring on a talk show, that was my sign. Ok, I can imagine what you’re thinking. If Harrison Ford went out to a pasture and ate a cow patty, would I do the same thing? Hell no. At my age, I would like to think that I am a rational thinker.

Patti sat there for a few moments. She laughed once, then twice. I could tell that what I said was circling her cerebellum.  Then, “You know, hon, if you want to bad enough, go for it!” Not that I was asking her permission, by any means, but in respect for keeping her informed.

I told her that when I was working as a management consultant there is no way I could call on clients with an earring. Just no freakin’ way. And I certainly didn’t need any complications as a consultant to win assignments and instill confidence in clients and contacts. So, at the time, the earring was put on hold.

Like I said, I didn’t revisit it much the past few months because it was not really a priority, just a want-to … until December when I visited Casey down in Austin.

I was in Austin to have some work done on the car by Jerry and Scott, my Pit Stop friends who work on our cars. I told Casey about my discussion with her mom, and then Casey took this on with a vengeance. She told me that a tattoo/piercing parlor has more restrictions for safety and cleanliness than a Claire’s. She found a place and we went there for the EVENT. It was her Christmas present to me. Isn’t that just so endearing — a piercing for Christmas. How touching.

So, there I am at Diablo Rojo, having my LEFT ear pierced. After all, I knew enough about it to understand that “what’s left is RIGHT, and what’s right is WRONG.” I wanted to make sure that I got the CORRECT ear pierced. I mean really!

Derek's new 'hole'

So, at Diablo Rojo, the attendant, who must’ve had her entire life story tattooed on all parts of her body, was my clinician. She had ear disks that looked like two UFOs levitating around her head.

So, the magic moment of the prick came, and it really stung. Not a baby, I did not cry, but, hell, it did sting.

The attendant told us about how to care for the ear after the piercing, and I’ve been following those instructions ever since.

So, the deed was done. So, am I happy? You betcha! So, am I glad to have an earring? Yes, I am! Am I smarter for having an earring? No, of course not. Are my brain cells draining out of the new hole? Maybe. Do I look or feel like Harrison Ford? No, you must be kidding Am I catching hell from friends and family? Of course I am. Do I still hear The Mamas and the Papas? Yes, of course. Always will.

But now, I hear the Beatles singing “Fixing a Hole” too, and I love the earring!

Three 'gingers' -- JD, Casey and Patti -- say the pledge of allegiance before the walk.

Two weeks ago, Patti, Casey, JD and I participated in the Pancreatic Cancer Fun Run/Walk on a Saturday morning in downtown Austin. We were joined by friends Mike, Jess, Kaedon, Brady, Mason and Mary.

We were also joined by a the spirits of a number of contributors. When we announced that we were going to participate in the fun run/walk, we gathered contributions and raised just about $1,000 for the walk and pancreatic cancer research. God bless you all for your generous contributions.

It was a real blast to do this. For participating, everyone got a dark purple Purple Stride T-shirt and a number. But not me. I got a light lavender “Survivor” shirt and a number. I wore the shirt proudly that day and I wear it now. There is something about “survivor” that is really comforting. They even took a photo. There were 7-8 of us that were survivors of the 600 that gathered for the walk.

And, as you might imagine, it was a very emotional walk. Walking along the 3-mile course, I noticed that many of the folks who were walking with purple shirts, had special paper placards pinned to their shirts. “I am walking/running for …” Then, the individual used a Sharpie to write in the name of the person, past or present, for whom they are walking.

Just about every walker had a placard. Most were walking for close friends or relatives who were presently undergoing treatment or had died from the disease. Frankly, it was a little disturbing to see people walk by enjoying the cool Fall weather, chatting with friends, walking with pets, but doing so with the name of a loved one attached to them. These folks have a common purpose. They will do what they can to rid the world of this terrible disease.

I am a very lucky man. I know it. To have been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer over a year ago, been told that I had less than 3-months to live, I thank God every day for each day. But on this walk, I saw reminders all around me of those for whom “every day” has run out. But there were definite bright spots.

This is the main one. The fact that there were 7-8 survivors in this group is amazing. A year ago, three years ago, there wouldn’t have been 7-8 folks in that category. There would have been fewer.

And, today, the world is a much smaller place. Our FDA is not the be-all and end-all for treatment regulation. Some here will argue that we will see cures when  the drug companies want there to be a cure.  Maybe.

There are treatments occurring in other countries that are recording amazing results. And, remarkable activities are taking place here in the U.S. that are seeing real results — many of a homeopathic nature. So

Casey and Kaedon are getting ready for the walk

far, I have been fortunate not to have radiation or chemotherapy.

I celebrate every day with faith and laughter. Patti and I joke that laughing kills cancer cells. She gives me something to cause laughter every day. So, together we’re killing the cancer cells, slowly but surely. And, I absolutely believe that every day I am here is a blessing from God.

But enough about philosophy, here are some photos from the fun run/walk in Austin. God bless you all and your loved ones.

Kaedon and Casey lasso a colorful steer along the route

I just wanted to thank the important people

I left a memory note, along with many other walkers

Mason and Jess finished with great vigor

Kaedon and Patti walk through the finish line

JD and I cross the finish line

Brady, Jess, Kaedon, Casey, Mary and Patti take to the streets

Mary and Casey were happy to walk

Brady shares a secret with Dad along the course

Mike, Brady, Jess, Kaedon and Mason are ready to walk

Mason is just ready for someone to push him along the course.