Author Archives: Rick Ladd

About Rick Ladd

Born in 1947, I was an officially retired pensioner, but in January of 2015 I returned to work as a contractor at Aerojet Rocketdyne. I remain intensely interested in, and fascinated by, Systems Thinking, Decision Intelligence, Knowledge Management, and Business in general. I am also conversant in such concepts as innovation and ideation, collaborative tools and strategies, crowd sourcing, and the use of social media to accomplish goals ranging from improving business processes to promoting small retail businesses. I also have done some freelancing as an editor/proofreader and have done a bit of technical writing as well. There's lots more where that came from. Need some help? Perhaps another set of eyes? Contact me. The first one's free! ;0)

Let’s Bite Off Our Noses To Spite Our Faces

 It seems to me that anyone who really cares about their country, who is a genuine patriot, has to care for everyone. Life is NOT a zero-sum game, where the gains enjoyed by others are a loss to you and yours. No, life and human society are highly complex, interdependent systems where every part has a role to play, and when we don’t provide optimal conditions for the health and well-being of some of the parts, the whole body suffers. Would you want your car’s engine to go without one of its spark plugs? While it would still get you to where you were going, it wouldn’t do it as efficiently, nor as effectively. In the end, it would almost certainly cost more to deal with the results of an imbalance in the engine than it would to ensure all its components were kept in good working order.

Yet many approach life as though they are living on an island. It’s difficult to fathom the level of insensitivity, blindness to reality, and the callous lack of empathy it takes to turn one’s back on people who may not directly affect your life in a way you can feel immediately, but who nevertheless impact the organizations and institutions you deal with all the time.

For instance, by not ensuring all children receive healthcare, adequate nutrition, and early education, we ensure our up and coming workforce will be less prepared than they otherwise could be for the kinds of jobs that will be available in the near future. The net result is we not only handicap those children, we also handicap their families, their friends, and the entire nation. By guaranteeing they need more help for far longer than might otherwise be the case, we add to both their burden and ours.
We hobble ourselves with mistaken, outdated, unsupportable notions that give far more importance to diversity as a bad thing; as something that takes away from our sense of worth, of self. Instead of understanding, celebrating, and taking advantage of all the ways in which we complement and enhance each other, too many of us turn those virtues into imaginary vices and use them to divide and separate us. What a pity.

Halleluiah! The Seeing Is Truly Spectacular.

It’s been exactly one week since I had my cataract surgery and I thought I would share the experience. I wasn’t terribly worried about it, but the combination of it being surgery and the thought of having a knife cut into my eyeball wasn’t the most relaxing set of circumstances I could imagine. The reality was that I really needed the surgery, as my eyesight was becoming more and more problematic. I’m happy to say everything went off incredibly smoothly and I was actually able to go outside two days afterward and see the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter clearly for the first time in years. I nearly cried with joy.

Moon Venus Jupiter

This is similar to what I was able to see after the surgery. Previously, there would have been one fuzzy Moon and two ghostly ones accompanying it.

I was due at the Woodland Hills campus of Kaiser Permanente, in California, at 2:00 pm. The hospital isn’t too far from where I live and my wife was able to pick up several of our oldest daughter’s friends and ferry them to Girl Scout camp, then make it to Woodland Hills in plenty of time. We also had our youngest, who is not very good at a thing called patience, and I knew there was no way she would sit in a waiting room for at least a couple of hours without driving my wife (and everyone else, no doubt) crazy. I had her drop me off so they could go elsewhere and do something other than sit.

I got out and walked the short distance to the entrance that leads to the Ophthalmology Department and took the elevator up the one flight to the Surgi-Center, right down the hall from where I had been examined previously. I checked in and sat down to wait. There was no cell service so I opened up my Kindle app and continued reading one of the many books I have loaded on my phone. About ten minutes later my name was called and I went into the Center.

I was led to one of the man hospital beds that sat on each side of the room, each with its own monitoring equipment and privacy curtain. The nurse who was getting me prepped introduced herself and started me on the routine she has likely gone through dozens, if not hundreds, of times. I only needed to take my shirt off and put on one of those wonderful gowns every hospital has. I also had to take off the gold chain I have worn for nearly twenty years. At her suggestion, I put it in my pocket.

She had be get in the bed, sort of high up so my head was resting on a special pillow. I didn’t even have to remove my shoes! I lay back and, as she began to ask me some questions, another nurse came and started an IV on my right arm. A blood pressure cuff was placed on my left arm. The first nurse asked me my name and date of birth. She had me look at the info, which included the consent form I had signed, and asked me if it was correct. She asked me which eye was to have the procedure. She put an indelible, purple mark just above my eyebrow on the side it was supposed to be.

She also explained she was going to put drops in my eye to anesthetize it a bit in order to make me comfortable with the small sponge containing a chemical designed to dilate my eye. She was very concerned that I not experience any discomfort and repeated her offer to make me comfortable should my eye bother me. She then left me alone.

Shortly afterward, a young man came in and introduced himself as the anesthesiologist. He asked me the same questions I had been asked a few minutes previously and, being a big believer in the old adage, “measure twice; cut once”, I was more than happy to give him my answers. He checked my chart, apparently was convinced I was unlikely to die in the OR, thanked me, and disappeared.

Finally, about a half hour after I climbed into bed, my doctor appeared. She put a few more drops in my eye and carefully removed the sponge. It was the first time I realized there was a sponge in my eye. The nurse who put it in hadn’t mentioned what it was, just that she wanted to be sure it didn’t make me uncomfortable. My doctor then took a large syringe — kinda like a turkey baster — and filled my eye with a warm, gooey substance. She told me that I would be close to sleep, but they needed me to be awake at least enough to follow some instructions during the procedure. They then began moving my bed.

I remember nothing after that, save for a moment when I heard someone telling me to “look directly at the light.” Others have pointed out it was good they weren’t saying “go to the light.” I followed the instructions, especially since they had told me that’s what would be happening and I had been anticipating it . . . sort of. The next thing I knew, I was back where I had been prepped and my wife and daughter were coming in to see how I was doing.

I had a clear plastic, protective “patch” taped over my eye. I was able to get up, put my shirt on, and prepare to be driven home. I was also give a pair of sunglasses, a roll of tape, and printed instructions on what to do next. Although I was still a bit groggy, I was able to walk with my family out to the front of the building, where I sat down while my wife went to get the car. I noticed immediately, despite my eye being considerably dilated, that my sight was clearer. I was done with the hard part and everything seemed fine, which it was.

I had been using two different ophthalmic drops (one anti-inflammatory and one antibiotic) for four days and now had to start a third, another anti-inflammatory). The drops had caused a bit of discomfort, as they burned after I instilled them. However, the first couple of times I put them in after the procedure it felt like someone stabbed me in the eyeball. It was the most painful part of the whole ordeal.

I had to return the next day, Thursday, so I didn’t go into work that day, but I was able to comfortably return to work on Friday. I had my final post-op exam today and everything is going swimmingly. I’ve been putting drops in my eyes nine times a day for the last week, but now only have to put two of them in three times a day for the next week, then a week at two times and another at once a day. Then I’m done.

I’m told there’s a possibility my eye could, in time, develop a membrane that will act like another cataract, but it can be removed with a simple laser procedure. I am extremely grateful for the existence of this procedure I just had and the manner in which it was performed. I am nearly ecstatic to have my eyesight back. It’s better than it’s been in many years. If you’re having a problem with cataracts, which nearly everyone develops if they live long enough, I highly recommend you have the surgery performed. I now have a serialized, registered implant in my eye (my card says so), but I can’t feel it and the difference in my world is like . . . well . . . night and day.

Slice – Destroy – Remove – Replace That Lens!

Kaiser Hallways

I understand sterility is important in a hospital or medical facility, but this is a bit ridiculous.

The other day I accomplished another step in getting my impaired sight back to a reasonable semblance of normal. As I have written before, seeing has become a bit problematic though, when it first started, it was somewhat entertaining and humorous. I wrote about it again when I noticed it was affecting just about everything. What I find amazing is to realize I wrote these two posts over three years ago. Amazing what you’ll put up with, or what I’ll put up with.

At any rate, my ophthalmological exam revealed I am a candidate for cataract removal and the replacement of my natural lens with an artificial one. I have chosen to have my vision corrected for distance so, even though I will almost certainly have much improved distance vision, I will still need reading glasses. I have been wearing glasses for a large portion of my adult life and I don’t mind wearing them the rest of it. I’m just looking forward to seeing clearly again. I have not been able really enjoy the night sky for years and it is one of the things I’m most looking forward to.

I would, however, have put up with this longer no doubt were it not for the fact I’ve returned to work and one of my duties involves working in a conference room with team members on various program schedules I build or maintain with Microsoft Project. It’s reached the point where sitting in the back of any of the most frequently used conference rooms, where the keyboards and mice reside, makes it difficult and annoying to read what’s on the screen, especially numbers (dates, durations, lag times, etc.).

The surgery is scheduled for this coming Wednesday, June 17, time to be determined when I call the surgery dept. on Tuesday. This morning I began a regimen of antibiotic eye drops, which I must instill in my right eye four times per day. I will continue using them post-op, and will add a third type of drop, which is a corticosteroid designed to reduce the chance of swelling. Not sure how long I will need to continue this regimen, but I’m figuring at least a week or two, depending on how the eye responds to the insult.

Blood Pressure Results

Nailed it!

I had my pre-op exam last Thursday and am happy to say I passed. I was pleasantly surprised to find my blood pressure was really good (I have been dealing with essential hypertension for a couple of decades, for which I take medication) and will present no problem with respect to the surgery.

I think I’m really ready for this. As I get older, I have (as most of us do) more issues to deal with, some of which are more serious than others. While this is surgery, it’s outpatient and it is the most frequently performed procedure in the world. I expect no difficulties. I can’t wait to see Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn without their accompanying satellites I know aren’t really there, and I’m especially looking forward to again see the craters of only one (not three) Moon. That will be sweet. IMO.

New Eyeball Coming Soon to a Head Near Me

Blurry fingers

Totally groovy. Peace to you – twice . . . at least.

I got a call from the Ophthalmological surgery department yesterday to ask me if I wanted to have my cataract removed and replaced next Wednesday instead of next month. I said “yes”, so I’m having my pre-op exam this afternoon and, if all goes well, by this time next week I should have my new lens and be well on my way to healing. I’ll still need glasses for really sharp vision, but the constant blurring of my right eye will be gone (Dog willing and the creek don’t rise!).

Pass Me a Brolly Please

I generally check the weather using Weatherunderground. It’s reasonably reliable and its name carries a certain wisp of nostalgia for me. I started doing it in earnest a few years ago, when my then 10-year-old daughter started asking me every morning so she would know how to dress for school.

Today, before I left the house, it was raining so I made sure to read the special weather statement and learn what was going on. It seems the remnants of Hurricane Blanca are bringing a fair amount of instability and a substantial possibility of rain and thunderstorms, including cloud-to-ground lightning. The time of day when the odds for precipitation are the greatest coincides with the time I’ll be leaving work for home.


Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Understandable in This Context

 So . . . since it was already in my car from the last time (which, amazingly enough, wasn’t all that long ago) I used it, I carried my umbrella into the building with me. I noticed others didn’t have umbrellas and, in fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between age and the use of an umbrella. Then, as I thought of it, I remembered there is generally a stigma associated with men and umbrellas, esp. young, virile men and . . . well . . . no umbrellas. As proof, I offer the following article from last fall, as well as these two pictures, which I believe represent the most vulnerable – with respect to securing their manliness – among us.

Why Real Men Don’t Use Umbrellas

Reagan & Nancy



Was It Something I Said?

I’ve been back at work less than five months and I’m already on my third CEO!

Corporate musical chairs

Our current CEO, however, is a woman. Wishing her well.

I’m Getting Bionic Eyes Soon!


Cataract Surgery

a Bionic Eye Procedure

 Today I am going to the ophthalmologist to begin the process of having cataract surgery. The thought of having my eyeball sliced open has always kind of creeped me out so, although I’ve known it was coming, I’ve put it off until I can no longer wait. The other day I was working with the team on a schedule, which was on the screen in a conference room. I had to sit at the back and use the screen to see what I was doing. I had difficulty reading some of the numbers (e.g. dates, durations, unique IDs, etc.) and it was very uncomfortable. Not being able to do my job to the best of my abilities is scary and uncomfortable.

If you want to know what it’s like, and you wear glasses, just take a little petroleum jelly and smear it on one of your lenses. You’ll still see reasonably well because your good eye will compensate to an extent. Depth perception won’t be affected at all. Unfortunately for me, my “good” eye isn’t all that good anymore either. I’m pretty sure a cataract is developing there as well and, to top it off, I’ve long had a small blind spot dead center in that eye. It’s seldom affected me in the past because my other eye (pre-cataract) has compensated well. Now they’re both going.

According to what I’ve read, the surgery is the most widely performed worldwide and is also extremely successful. I’ve talked to numerous people who have had the surgery or who know someone who’s had it and they all say it corrects their vision so well that many no longer require glasses. I’m not expecting that outcome, but it’s comforting to know the procedure is routine. One person told me he felt like he was on an assembly line when he had it done. I’m ready. Can’t wait to see the Moon, planets, and the stars again in all their glory. 


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