Dec 27, 2008

Rubik my friend, I will defeat you.

I admit, with a little bit of reluctance, I enjoy getting gifts. I don't mean that in a selfish way. After all, I work hard at giving to others. However, Wife and I usually spoil each other pretty good when Christmas comes around. Its a time to indulge a little in the things I normally would shun because of cost or practicality.

This year, when asked what I wanted, I couldn't really think of anything at all. I tried. But I was at somewhat of a loss. I couldn't come up with anything in particular.

Fortunately, Wife is horribly attentive to my needs as a person, and actually listens and remembers when I talk about things that interest me. So for Christmas, on of my stocking stuffers was a Rubik's Cube.

A brief history: The Cube was invented by Erno Rubik in 1974. Wanting a simple model to help explain three dimensional geometry, Erno invented one of the worlds best selling toys. The original name for it was "The Magic Cube." The ideal toy company later named "The Rubik's Cube" in 1980. If you made a single turn of one of the Cube's faces every second, it would take you 1,400 million years to work through all the possible configurations. The fastest time recorded for solving a Rubik's Cube is 8.27 seconds (now that is pretty darned fast).

I have done a little internet research, and there is a surprising amount of information about the Cube out there. Included in this information is the solution, and their seems to be many that are applicable and real. I however, will not be planning on using the solutions as a helper. I understand there is logic to the Cube. I understand there is actual mathematical algorithms that apply to the solution of the cube. These things are beyond me.

But the challenge, ah the challenge. That one I get.

So, I officially started my quest for the solution on December 26, 2008 at 1200 hours. I will be updating my blog with its own section on the side bar, to keep track of how long it actually takes me.

Let the quest begin.

Dec 16, 2008

Christmas is Coming, the Goose is Getting Fat; Now if Only I had a Haypenny

I wish that I had a good excuse for not getting back to the world at a sooner date than this. However, I don't have one. I could make a couple up I guess.

For instance, the room my computer is in is a shambles right now. This makes it very unappealing to sit and concentrate on posting a blog. I could say that work has been somewhat hectic and I have generally just been tired when I get home at night. I could say that I have been busy putting up holiday decorations (but this would be not only an excuse, but an all out lie). So in the end, I simply have been finding other things to do rather than post. I don't like that. I feel almost obligated at times, and the obligation gives me some amount of purpose when I might not otherwise have any.

So I want to talk about the holidays. After all, it is the holiday season. One of the things I am not good at is decorating (ad even worse at taking decorations down). Most times, it goes about as far as a tree and some lights. Last year I went as far as hanging up some lights outside the house. This year, though, I am going back to tree only (one of the reasons for this is money is a little tight and getting new lights for outside and then the added cost of PG&E is a bit daunting). But the tree is important.

We don't skimp on the tree either. Always the Noble Fir. A good looking, and wonderful smelling tree. And we get big ones too. Well, big for our little home and the space we put it in. We got our tree on Saturday. Sadly, it has sat decorationless since then. Fortunately we have tonight set aside for decorating. So a little straightening of the living room, a little tree decorating and some present wrapping and things are going to be in good order. The house wreaks of pine (or technically fir) and that is one of my favorite things at the holidays. Wife loves egg nogg, which I also am fond of, so we also keep plenty of that in stock.

Now, while I love getting gifts (I know, that sounds selfish, but its true; and Wife and I have a horrible habit of spoiling each other), I also love to give. I thank my parents for instilling such a trait. I don't have a lot this year I can give to others, besides those closest to me. So my solution?

On Christmas Morning I will be at work at 0545. I usually have a strict no work on Christmas policy. However, this year I will be going in to work until noon so someone else can spend time with his or her family that morning. I don't think its much, but is a nice gesture that will hopefully be appreciated.

In the end, its my favorite time of the year. People are generally in a good mood, the rainy season here is starting (another part of the season I love) and it gives me a good excuse to listen to Christmas albums.

Its a little early, but Happy Holidays to my friends and loved ones.

Nov 30, 2008

Unplanned Hospitality and a Scenic Ride on the Karma Train

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Typically, Thanksgiving is a holiday I don't worry too much about. Over the last 10 years I simply try to work it, as the pay is good and I get a decent meal to boot. This year was slightly different. While I actually worked on Thanksgiving, I was off the next day.

I brined my bird, I roasted it for most of the day, and it was solid. The food was excellent, and I have to say my turkey could not have turned out better. 23 pounds of juicy, tender goodness.
But I don't know that recounting the meal is what this is all about. In fact, I do know. Its about a small lesson I learned regarding a simple act of Unplanned Hospitality.

Wife and I don't open our home to too many people. In fact, we are somewhat reclusive in that aspect. I have always been this way. In high school I had a small group of friends who I hung with, but never needed any more than that. Once I left high school I actually found myself somewhat floundering socially since all my friends had gone their separate ways and I was about the only one who stuck around home. This has carried on into my adult life. I have a small group of friends who I am close to and don't need any more. Its my comfort zone. Wife is the same way really. I think she is even less tolerant of others (at times) than I am.

So we invite 2 couples over for a post-Thanksgiving dinner. Dennis and his wife, Duane and his wife. The same group we made our Disneyland trip with. This was a good plan. Our home is a little cramped at times, but we were prepared to squeeze in and have a good evening. Then the plans changed a little.

Duane, who apparently has a habit talking before he completely processes the impact of his words, invited someone we barely know to join us for dinner. Lynn is a nice person, she is the ex-wife of one of our co-workers, but we barely know her. Dennis and his wife know her even less than we do. Now, we have spent the last week reminding Duane of what a dumb ass he is, and about simple manners when you, yourself, are invited over to someone elses home. We have been fairly relentless. But I digress.

We could have told Duane to fix the issue, as we did not invite her. This would have taken a lot of the burden off of us, which would have been the easier thing to do. Or we could simply accept her into our home and make the best of it. I guess these statements are somewhat drastic sounding, but we really, rarely invite people to our home. So for us this was a bit of a leap.

We decided we would not turn someone away from our home )Karma would most likely hit us later like an atomic bomb of unhappiness). So we accepted that Lynn would be joining us for dinner. And she did, and it wasn't a big deal. One more person made very little difference, except a little less elbow room at the table. But the conversation was pleasant, the food was excellent (a little pat on the back for me and my turkey), and hopefully Wife and I are better people for simply opting to be better people instead of shutting the door on a person. And let me tell you, the door shuts very easily (its a pretty light door).

So Karma, dear Karma, hopefully when we meet again it will be on pleasant terms; after all, I'm doing my best to do my part.

Nov 27, 2008

Holiday work and holiday pay.

It is Turkey Day. The general world at large, as I am typing this, is sung in their blankets, maybe thinking about getting up and starting a pot of coffee in order to prepare for the day. Turkeys are thawed and ready for roasting, or smoking, or frying, or whatever form of cooking suits the fancy of would-be culinary experts across the country. Millions of casseroles are going to be prepared, and potatoes-a-plenty are going to be peeled (or at least there should be; there is no call for potato skins in mashed potatoes).

So why, oh why, am I at work? It’s a funny thing, you know, working shift work. About 10 years ago I started working this line of work. The application process is quite lengthy, and the application itself if long and overly wordy (much like me and my explanations of things). One of the things required to apply is the acceptance that you are required to work rotating shifts, night shifts, weekends and holidays. In fact, should you choose to mark this as not being willing to work these rotating shifts, your application will be stopped and you will not find yourself employed by your prospective employer.

So here I am. Its Turkey Day. It’s not even my shift. I am here because I don’t have a lot to do this Thanksgiving. My son is with his mother, my parents are out of town, and my sister lives in AZ. Wife’s parents are home, however we get paid a bundle if we work overtime.

A normal day of overtime nets me “time and a half.” Should you work a holiday, you get an extra 8 hours of “holiday pay.” On top of that, you get 8 hours of “bank time” put into your holiday bank account. So, was I to add all of that up, I actually get over double time. Not a bad gig.

So I am here. I am sipping a cup of coffee. We are telling war stories, and generally having a good time. The best thing about working a holiday here, is we all get the fact that there are probably other things we would like to be doing. Visiting with family. Watching football. Eating a large home cooked meal. Taking a nap. Playing bocce ball. Whatever suits your fancy. But instead, we are all here. So we stick together. We are here for each other.

So we have a veritable feast of a potluck. We are going to be watching movies and football games. We are going to sit around and tell ridiculous stories about each other and have a good laugh at our own expenses.
What more, being here at work, could we be more thankful for?

Nov 23, 2008

A first for me.

Well, Wife and I have been at the house now for nearly 5 years. Most of that five years, the only people we really have been to the house are family and a few close friends. I don't know that I would say we are reclusive at all, but we certainly don't go out of our way to entertain many guests.

I'm sure it has something to do with the size of our home. We have enough space for the two of us. We have enough space, almost, for 2 guests. But even at 2 guests, it gets a little crowded. Now we look at a new range and little rearranging of the kitchen, and suddenly I am going to have 4 people over and prepare a post-Thanksgiving meal for everyone. Fortunately, no one is bringing their children (they will be at a different location with pizza). I honestly couldn't imagine 6 adults and 7 kids at the house. There would just not be enough room to move, let alone prepare a whole meal for everyone.

So there are a couple of firsts here.
  1. I have never hosted a large dinner like this before. For one thing, I have never had to feed 6 people before. I generally cook for 2, maybe 3 on occasion. But now I am preparing a full meal.
  2. I am brining the turkey. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of brining, I'll discuss it in more detail below.
  3. I am actually cooking and carving a turkey. I have cooked chickens before; however, it was on a Ronco Rotisserie (which I was able to "set and forget"), so I don't think really counts.
So, I have a few worries. I want things to turn out nicely. One of the things I am concerned about is simply the amount room I have at the house. It will be manageable, but it will also be cramped. I am OK with this. We are used to it. Our friends, however, may not be. But hey, they'll just have to live.

The brining is really a brainless process. They idea is simply this: submersing the bird in a sort of marinade. There is a lot of salt in the marinade which opens the bird up and allows the marinade to seep deep into the bird. So this will, for example, leave the breast meat extra juicy, which I typically find to be rather dry. This process doesn't make me nervous at all. In fact, this part of the planning stage I find to be the easiest.

Last is actually cooking the bird. I need a roasting pan, since I don't have one right now. I have a meat thermometer, which I will insert into the thickest part of the thigh. I plan to brush the skin with a light coating of olive oil (which should create a nice golden color as it cooks). And after a few hours of cooking, we'll have a veritable feast. After that, there is the carving of the bird itself. I'm not too scared of this. I have sharp knives and a little skill in carving, I just hope I don't crack under the pressure.

So, we go shopping tomorrow. It should be a pretty good weekend.

Nov 15, 2008

Tom Sawyer Strikes Again; or,I knew then I hate waxing cars, apparently, I still do.

So, when I am down here at my parents house I usually take the time to wash the car.  I don't know why, but almost every time I am here I wash the car.  I drove Wife's care here, and it was pretty dirty.

So I got the ball rolling and washed it.  Then I vacuumed and wiped the whole front down with the armor all.  Then, I got the crazy idea to wax it.  This is where my grand plan seemed to go awry.

Let me rewind life a little bit.  I am about 13 or 14.  I was in the stage of life where I was looking for a way life that I would fit in to.  At the time, I thought of myself as something of a skater.  I had the skateboard, I had the crazy haircut and I had the complete inability to dress myself in a way that was generally socially acceptable (I went on a date once with this girl who was mortified that I wore plaid shorts and a striped shirt, how tacky could I be? And by the way, I never got anywhere with that girl.  Such is life).

So, being so armed with my impeccable pathetic fashion sense, I was loosed on the world many times with my cousin Nic.  He was a couple of years older than me, and now that I am thinking about it, he still is.  When Nic turned 16, he was given a 1969 Camaro.  Nic loved his '69, and it was indeed a nice car.  A good looking blue, a loud throaty engine that let out plenty of power, and me sitting in the passenger seat with my impeccable pathetic sense for fashion.  Quite honestly, I'm not sure why Nic was always so willing to let me tag along on outings, but he always was.  I remember many times going places, like Hot August Nights in Reno (and driving at insane speeds across the NV desert).

But anyway, I digress.  So, back to the waxing (no, not that kind), and how all this ties together.  I started with the hood, and it seemed like an easy task really.  Do one section, let it dry while I apply a coat to the next section.  Return to the fist and buff, and so on.  After what seemed to be about 456 minutes, I realized I had gotten myself into a bit of a project and quickly realized why it was I don't ever wax my vehicles.

I don't remember where this happened, but the act of waxing the car brought back an odd, somewhat random memory. I do remember stopping somewhere in the shade (because you don't want to apply wax in direct sunlight) and not to far off of some main drag (Nic want to make sure I understood waxing the car was a social event, and you wanted people to be able to see you).  And then he had me help him wax the car.  I don't know that I actually did a lot to help wax the car, however I must have done enough to realize that I don't particularly enjoy the project (after all, its been roughly 19 years since I applied wax to a car).  So thanks, Tom Sawyer, for teaching me early on that I don't like waxing cars.

I just wish I had realized it before I started the project today.  On the flip side, the car looks nice.  Its black, which unfortunately tends to look dirty about a nano-second after you clean it.  Next, its five years old.  So its got some wear and tear on it.  But its a Honda, and it runs perfectly.  So I suppose its good to show it a little love every now and then.

And as one last thing of note, I was searching my cousin's blog to see if he still owns the Camaro.  A quick search yielded the following information:  I found only one post that talked of the Camaro (not surprising since his wife is the author).  In this post the only information about the car of note is that it recently died and had to be pushed back to a garage.  As I recall, as a younger man, this same event happened on more than one occasion.  But I congratulate him on preserving the vehicle for this long as it is.

As for me? I don't plan to open a bottle of car wax for another 19 years.

Nov 14, 2008

Questions that might need answering.

(This post edited after a call from the boy's mother)

I'm here at my parents place spending the weekend with my son.  The original reason for timing it now was that his step-dad was having surgery and my timing would make things easier for them. Now I can't claim to always be so noble, but in the end, its a good thing I am here.

Wednesday I heard from Amy (my ex-wife) who told me Kevin's father was very ill, and possibly not going to pull through.  So, that night they hopped on a plane to Las Vegas (not the way I would like to spend an impromptu trip to Vegas, but you can't always pick the circumstances).  

So this leaves me with a bit of a quandary. If the boy's grandfather passes on, I will have to be here with Ben and explain death and how it affects us here. This wouldn't be his time dealing with someone he knows passing on, unfortunately he has had that experience already.  But I think this will be the first time it is a family member.  Kevin has been in Ben's life since he was about 2 or 3.  So Kevin's father has been too.  And Kevin and I don't always see eye to eye, he does treat my son well and I respect him for that.  And the possible loss of life to any person can be traumatic and tough. 

So I wonder, how will this affect the boy?  What questions will he have?  Will I be prepared to answer them?  I'd like to think so.  However, as with most quasi-uncomfortable situations, we don't know how its going to be until we are thick in the mire.  If we end up having this talk, I am sure it will be worth remembering.  If we don't end up having this talk, well, it will come up sooner or later, for one reason or another.  

So who knows.  Until then, we're just having a good time and trying not to think about it. 

(Here follows a Post Script)

I got a call from the boy's mother.  They will be home and would like to address the issue at hand with Ben, themselves.  I am fine with this, after all, its there family, not mine.  The issue is probably going to need to be addressed sometime in the near future, but its more appropriate for them to be involved, given the circumstances.

I am simply glad I was here when I was needed.  And had the issue arisen, and it needed to be addressed with the little guy before his mother got home, I would have been here to make sure he was OK.

And thats all that matters to me.

Nov 11, 2008

Ok, Fine. I'm getting on my soapbox!

For the last week, I have been trying desperately to post something of some sort of value. I also promised myself I wouldn't rant about the passage of Prop 8, no matter how disappointed and angry I am about it. Unfortunately for me, this has created somewhat of a blockage, and I have found it impossible to post anything since the only thing I want to post is something I promised I wouldn't. So I have broken that vow, and have now laid out my true feelings. I think this is something I have been wanting to do since November 4th.

In an earlier post I mentioned how I thought, at one time in my younger life I knew a lot. I thought I had opinions that were intelligent and well thought out. I thought my parents never knew what they were talking about. I considered myself a fine, upstanding conservative with a belief system set on a foundation of Christian values.

Now, there are some things that have not changed. For example, I still believe that I have opinions that are intelligent and well thought out (my friends may not always agree, but hey, its my opinion). There are a lot of things that have changed, though. One of these things I have learned: My parents actually do know what they are talking about. I remember as, a young man, Father started attending Toast Masters. For those unfamiliar with Toast Masters (and I hope I am explaining this correctly), it is a group that meets for the purpose of becoming better public speakers. As Father started attending this group his prowess at public speaking became evident, and I started getting a better understanding of my father as he expressed his opinions rather eloquently.

Now, maybe I was making an ass-sumption based on the fact that Father was in law enforcement. After all, anyone who knows anything about law enforcement, should know that these people tend to be fairly conservative in their beliefs. So perhaps I simply ass-sumed that Father was as well. And perhaps he was to some degree. As I said, I learned a lot about him over time and my general opinion of Father changed. I can say that I learned a lot from him. Sadly, I don't know that I can produce and memorable quotes that might one day end up on an inspirational calendar. I can, however, tell you I have learned from him a lot about being a decent human being, for which I am grateful.

Now I, myself, work in law enforcement. And still, people in this profession tend to be fairly conservative in their views. I respect that. It is their right to practice and believe as they see fit. What I have found over the last 10 years is that my opinions and beliefs are generally at odds with the majority of people I know. I am pretty sure it is because most of my values and beliefs are actually fairly liberal. This tends to leave me out of most conversations at work that involve politics (although I imagine I could go visit with the folks who work in our Mental Health department, I think we would get along just fine). And having stayed out of these conversations, I have held my tongue on more than a few occasions when I would have loved to bark at more than a few people.

There are two types of people here where I work. There are those I work with and those I work around. Those I work with are generally educated and have a belief system I can attribute to life experience, an actual education, and some sort of faith in a higher power. Those I work around, on the other hand, are generally uneducated. They have a belief system based on hate and a self serving purpose that benefits no one but themselves. So those I work around I simply ignore. I guess they have a right to believe what they want. However, I don't generally respect these opinions and simply write them off as uneducated, bigoted and simply wrong. Those I work with I have to respect, for the reasons listed previously. It is difficult for me, though, when my opinion is not respected in turn.

I was part of a conversation the other day I could not avoid. The question was posed, referring to Prop 8 (boo! hiss!), "They can do anything they want to. What can't they do that they can't do already?" So I answered back, "Can they get married?" After which, I was rebutted with something and I tuned the conversation out. I don't care to argue with my friends. Generally, we all get along and we simply leave some topics unspoken.

So now I have been stewing over the this subject for the last couple of days, and clearly I need to get it all out.

Since when do we let one person be persecuted by another in the name of religion? I am pretty sure were a group of people in another country persecuted and discriminated against by another group of people we would be up in arms claiming our high standards of tolerance and compassion should be an example to all. Bullshit.

Our standards of tolerance and compassion clearly only go so far. Apparently it is perfectly ok to enact legislation that sets a group of people apart, as "different," and make it so said legislation can keeps them apart as "different." Again, I say Bullshit.

In 1957, Little Rock, Arkansas was a hot bed of activity because 9 African Americans were going to start attending the Little Rock Central High School. In fear of this drastic change, the Governor of Arkansas actually had the school surrounded by National Guard troops in an effort to stop the integration. Eventually, they were removed by order of the federal court and replaced by the United States Army in order to provide protection for those 9 students. And so, 9 high school students made history by simply attending school. I would like to think that we, as a people in this country, have made a lot of progress since then. In many areas, we certainly have. For example, we don't see the National Guard surrounding the White House. In fact, we see that the overall vote in America has voted for our first African American president and many people celebrated in the streets at the confirmation of the President-Elect. Good for us.

Sadly, as I said before, our ideas of tolerance and acceptance apparently only go so far. Does the idea of a man and man being legally married scare us so bad that we enact legislation to legally discriminate against them? I suppose there are those that would argue against this, but I don't see it any other way. I have tried. I really have. But I can't see it any other way. We have made a legal discrimination. We might as well start putting up signs over water fountains that read "straight" and "gay." After all, we wouldn't want any straight people getting "the aids" from a dirty fountain, would we? The intolerance and ignorance of this issue astounds me.

Religions around the country have poured millions of dollars into a campaign to make this discrimination legal. I don't know that anyone can deny that this whole proposition is based on the biblical definition of marriage as being between man and wife. I don't understand why it is we are letting religion influence our government. We have changed our state constitution to reflect a religious intolerance. Have we actually taken a 232 year step backwards? I don't claim to be a historian, but I'm pretty sure one of the things that was firmly decided when the Continental Congress convened, was the separation of church and state. The Church of England ruled American government with an iron fist. We wanted to get away from that. I don't deny that there are many references to religion in the documents that were forged to "form a more perfect Union," there were many people there who were religious and good people. But that isn't the argument here. The argument here is our union has become less perfect.

Again, we have made legal a discrimination based on people that others see as "different." We might as well be surrounding churches that are happy to perform gay and lesbian marriages with armed troops because we are scared we might be affected, as straight people, in a negative manner.

I know people who were personally effected by this proposition. They are good and fine people. They don't deserve to be told that, although they love each other, are committed to each other and have been for years, they can't be married. I would urge anyone with a differing opinion to look someone in the eye and tell them they can not be happy because you view it as different and wrong. Don't look at them as a person of a different religion, that doesn't matter. Don't look at them as a person who lives an alternative lifestyle. Look at them as they are, human beings. Tell these human beings you refuse to allow them to be happy, and that you prefer to rate them as less than normal because of their difference from your own life. Now our friends have been told all these things, but lucky for you were able to hide behind the curtain of a voting booth.

So in conclusion, I say this: If you believe that as a man or a woman, marrying a person of the same sex is wrong, then simply don't do it. Is there a need (other than a religious need) to enact a legislation in order to force this opinion on others? Not as far as I know.

To those who I know who were hurt by this, I am truly sorry. I support you. I can't say that I always have been supportive, and of that I am ashamed. However, I can say that for a long time I have been supportive, I always will be, and of that I am proud.

Nov 8, 2008

Where have I been, and what haveI been doing?

Where the heck have I been? Its been almost full week since I actually had the time to sit down and post something, anything.

The most pressing question is, "What have you been doing, that you are so busy?"

And the sad truth is, I can't account for much, really.

But let me hit on a few highlights.

First off, election day has come and gone. I believe I registered to vote along with selective service, when I turned 18. Having said that, I have shirked my civic duties since. I don't have any grand, anti-establishment ideas that kept me from the polls. I think it was really just shear laziness. I didn't bother to learn about the issues. I didn't bother to get involved. I didn't feel strongly enough about the issues that I knew so little about in order to go and cast my vote.

Then I moved to Humboldt and never bothered to register to vote here. S0, nearly 7 years after moving here I found myself suddenly empassioned about a few ideas that were on the table. A veritable smorgas board of propositions and measures that directly effect me or people I know. So I sent my information in to state capital and got myself listed as a registered voter.

I'm not going to preach about what should have passed, what didn't and anything like that. To say the least, this election cycle left me happy and sad at the same time. Some of the things I voted for passed, some didn't. That's life in a democratic society. I may not like it. But I can live with it.

I do feel a certain amount of accomplishment in voting. One of the founding principles this country was founded on was giving a voice to the people. I let my voice be heard. I took part in a very old, and traditional way of making sure my government works the way I am wanting it to. So good for me and all those who made sure to go to the polls.

Second, hmm.... And secondly..... This is where I am at a loss, really. I don't know that I have done a lot to even comment on lately. Take today for example. Its cold and raining. It doesn't lend itself to any real meaningful activities, other than getting wet and catching a cold. Its been this way for about a week now.

So it seems I don't have much to say right now. That's not a bad thing really. It just reminds me that maybe I need to get out more often.

Nov 1, 2008

Remember, even when the World-Wide-Chips are down its ok to let your hair down and have a good time.

With all the election news absolutely everywhere, it seems it can be a bit overwhelming at times. There are signs, bumper stickers, buttons, fliers and TV spots all declaring the "Right Way" to think, act and vote.

I guess, I myself, have had my fill of it. I have my own convictions, and I will vote accordingly. No amount of commercials saying I'm wrong are going to change my mind. So with that in mind, I have reached the point where I think enough is enough. It seems like a little bit of relaxation and general debauchery is in order.

Que Halloween. People dress up in zany costumes and simply pretend for a night that the cares of the world are no longer there. Children run from door to door looking for sanctioned free hand outs and adults simply welcome them, send them on their way, and eagerly await the next roving band candy hungry ghouls, monsters, princesses, sports figures or whatever the child mind could think of the grace the porches of these willing givers of treats and tricks.
Some very good friends of ours believe whole heartedly in making the best of a festive situation.
This poor bugger has nearly lost his head, along with half his body.
The wife and I got into the spirit of things as well. Ahh, the mad scientist and his gorgeous creation.
Pumpkins lined the driveway and a good time was had by all. So, I guess the message here is, its tough times for many, sure. But in the end, we had a good time anyway, and to heck with the economy.

Oct 31, 2008

Finally, a new post on Home Improvement

So, after a long weekend of home improvement, the Gas Range is in. Let me tell the story.

First off, the old range we had was the classic late 70's model electric, in almond color. If you would like to see what this looks like.....Yeah, its old and its ugly. But it did cook food. I have been wanting a replacement for quite some time. A while back, Gill and Mona told us they would provide a replacement as a house warming gift. Quite a generous offer really, and we simply said thank you. Then, out of the blue, we got the call that they would be coming up for a weekend to install the new unit.

Only problem? There is no gas hook up behind the old unit. So begins the task of planning out a trip under the house and re-routing the gas line to the kitchen. There is not a lot of space under my house. In fact, there is very little. So we first thought to try on the side of the house, where the original gas line makes its way to the water heater.Sadly this proved to be too small an opening for me, so we went with option 2, to dig up the crushed gravel from another project, and go that route.This worked out a little better. Sadly though, Gill couldn't make it very far in, so it was up to me. I don't like spiders, I don't like small spaces, an I don't like rats (which we haven't seen since I took the deck down, but it doesn't change the fact I was worried about being attacked by the colony, if there was one). But I managed to get in there.

So I learned to the art of laying down galvanized pipe for gas, the intricacies of thread compound and making sure the seal was tight. In the end, I managed to make a perfect connection, all the way into the kitchen, with no mistakes. Really, the no mistake factor is a complete miracle. The finished product?

The addition of a shelving system made all sorts of room on the counter, which was sorely needed.

And of course, the perfect way to break in a new range was to make cookies, which I was so excited to be able to see baking in the window of my oven.Thanks to Gill and Mona, from here on out known as Mom and Dad. You guys are wonderful and made this daunting task so much easier. Stop by any time, and I'll make dinner.

Oct 23, 2008

Home improvement, sort of...

The wife and I have been in our home for about 4 years now. We started out as renters, then after a surprise phone call from our land lord became home owners.

Of course, right after we sealed the deal a fence blew down in a wind storm and a water pipe burst and flooded the garage. We received the standard "Welcome to home ownership" comments from our friends and moved on with life. Since then, we have had a few improvement projects in mind that we would really like to get started on and hopefully finish before summer rolls around. Here is the rundown:
  1. The deck. Sadly, this little project seems to have hit the back burner. It wouldn't take me more than a day (with a little help) to finish the project. But alas, such is the case.
  2. A new range. As a house warming gift the Wife's parents purchased a new gas range, something I am extremely excited about. So they will be here this weekend coming up and Gil and I are going to get it put in.
  3. The garage. We still have plans of turning the garage into a sizable living room. Actually, the correct term for a room of this size is Great Room. A move projector, a wood stove, a large and comfortable sectional couch. Our living room now is so ridiculously small, if you have more than 2 people in the room it gets pretty crowded pretty fast. This particular project is going to have to wait until February, when the tax return comes in. But at least there's a plan.

So there they are. Our little plans that are sort of in action. The range at least will get done this weekend. And over time, the other two should get done as well. Its coming up on the rainy season though, so I figure the deck might gt put off for a while, which is OK with me. The garage will take more of a precedent. who could resist watching movies at home on a 112" screen?

Oct 21, 2008

Accidental Poetry.

A few days ago, my good friend, the Lazybuddhist, commented on her sudden case of Haikuitis. For those of you unfamiliar with the idea of a haiku, let me expound.

According to Wikipedia:

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 17 Japanese on (a phonetic unit identical to the mora), in three metrical phrases of 5, 7, and 5 on respectively[1], and typically containing a kigo, or seasonal reference. In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to equate to the Japanese haiku's three metrical phrases[2]. Previously called hokku, it was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of 19th century.

To put it in plain English: 17 syllables, arranged in 3 lines consisting of 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively. Now, I myself do not claim to be a poet. I want to make that perfectly clear before I continue on with this entry. So I read LB's entry, and found it entertaining. But not once did I consider the idea that I myself would be the author of a Haiku.

Fast forward a few days, and I am sitting at lunch with a group of co-workers who happen to also be my friends. As is customary when we gather to dine together, there is certain amount of bantering that goes on. My good friend, who also happens to be my supervisor, Dennis was there. He was busying extolling the virtues of his supervisory skills to whomever would listen. I chimed in, hoping to say something that would, at the very least, let him know I had made the decision he was full of s**t.

So, i said something to the effect of wanting to make some sort of recognition, in honor of his Supervisoriness (don't worry, I know that's not a word). Unfortunately, I was having trouble coming up with some sort of recognition I perform at work. Then suddenly I remembered the haiku. So I said, "Sir, in honor of your great Supervisoriness, I will compose a haiku."

So apparently, when you make such a bold statement as that, your audience then decides to hold you committed to your declaration. So I set to work with a note pad and pencil. I did not realize how difficult it is to arrange syllables in such a specific format. But I think I pulled it off.

Without further ado, I present:
A Ode to My Boss
O’ Dennis My Boss,
Pillar of Strength, shining;
Moral Fortitude.

Example to all,
Reason Beyond Measure and
Patience a’ Plenty.

People Near and Far
Have Sung About Your Wisdom;
They Lauded Your Name.

With Regret, Our Tale
Must Come to a Tragic Turn.
O’ Dennis, Poor Soul.

Your Reputation,
Which Was Once Your Foundation
Made Ego Your Foe.

Blinded by Power,
Your Soul Corrupted by Greed;
Misery Your Food.

But Do Not Despair.
All is Not Lost. There’s Still Time.
There is Hope For You.

Change Your Ways, Vile Man.
Let Your Light Shine, Bright and Warm.
Give to Those in Need.

Be a Better Man.
Recapture Former Glory.
Once Again Praised.

Now, I should make it clear: when I refer to my superior as a vile man, whose ego has brought him to the depths of despair, I mean that in the most respectful, subordinate type of way.
So there you have it. My haiku. I didn't mean to be a poet, but I was.

Oct 20, 2008

A little mush (get your waders)

I recently spent the weekend alone.

Well, not totally alone, I saw some friends, I worked a day of overtime. But the wife was missing. she had gone to see Disney on Ice, and go to Great America with the Girl Scouts (she is always involved in "Helping Girls Grow Strong"). So, this means I was home alone.

Its a funny thing really. There was a time when I relished the quiet time I had to spend alone. Quiet contemplation, a trip to the beach, or simply finding something to blow up via video game console. All of these things were welcome activities that always seemed like a prize that is often sought after but hardly won.

So the wife left me for a sunnier portion of California. And all of a sudden, I realized it was very quiet at home. I had the weekend to do as I pleased, no one to be there coaching me in one direction or another. I could eat, sleep, travel, clean, read, play, sleep, eat, sleep some more; and all of these things could be accomplished in no particular order. At one point it seemed to me I was going to have a pretty darn good weekend. Now don't get me wrong, I had a nice weekend. I just didn't expect a portion of it.

To say things went wrong would be over dramatizing the point. So what it was, I don 't really know. There were, however, a couple things I noticed right away, that were sorely missing. For example, there was no one to comment on my daily antics. I don't claim to be a comedian, nor do I think I have a stellar catalog of jokes. However, I enjoy making my wife laugh. She gets a rather unique grin, that she dons at no other time. So I go out of my way to make sure I see that smile at least once a day. She does not always care for my methods of producing said smile, but i can assure that it does not involve any amount of physical torture.

Also, I realized how much I value her opinion. We talk often, of many subjects. Work issues, politics, money, plans for the future. We discuss these issues, and my opinion is just as important as hers, and hers just as important as mine. And she usually has a way pointing things out to me, that I somehow miss, making my logic seem all the more sound or ludicrous, depending on the conversation at hand. Whatever the conversation, I simply missed the conversation.

I also do the cooking for us. For those who don't know, the Wife doesn't cook. Its not that she doesn't enjoy cooking, but more to the point she doesn't even know how. I, on the other hand, love cooking. I don' think I do anything particularly fancy, but the food is rarely bad. In fact, its quite good. And I had no one cook for. It was a little sad really.

So I jumbled these thoughts around in my head for a little while. Then I came to this conclusion: While I may enjoy the occasional day off by myself, or the semi-regular girls night out which leaves me home alone for the evening, I don't want to be by myself. And I don't want to be with anyone else. I want to be with the Wife.

Often times, when I tell her I love her, she asks me, "Why?" I usually get a little defensive at this point because I can't think of anything to right off the bat. But where she to ask me right now, I would tell her I love her, simply because she is here and all that it entails.

And that's that.

Oct 19, 2008

Halloween and the Costume Party; or, How I Learned to Wear a Wig and Like It

***This entry has been edited from its original content. That I know of, I reserve the right to edit my content as I see fit. Should anyone have any complaints, there is a committee assigned to evaluate each complaints merit. Recompense will be awarded on a case by case basis.***

Halloween if fast approaching. Typically, in the past I am the one who is content to turn off the porch light and save myself the hassle of answering the door eleventy billion times in an evening. With our entire yard surrounded by fencing, it makes it pretty easy to do that. This year, however, will be slightly different. I still don't intend to be answering the door, but we are going to a Halloween party.

I can't remember the last time I purchased a Halloween costume. It must have been when I was a kid, at an age when I wasn't the one to be buying anything, anyway. I do remember painting my face numerous times, and making that pretty much my costume. I quickly grew tired of the whole Halloween experience, and by the time I was probably 12 or 13 it was pretty much a dead issue for me (at least, that's how I remember it). I don't think I consider myself a party pooper. More to the point, I think I do not enjoy crowds of people I barely know, or people I do know but don't really care for. But some good friends invited us to the party, and so we are going.

At the time of this edited post, my mother happened to comment on the original post. In said comment, it is mentioned that I had many costumes, and as I stated, by the time I was about 12 the whole thing no longer seemed very exciting to me. I will say, however, I remember getting together with my buddies on Halloween. This, however, consisted of watching movies and eating pizza, not going door to door looking for handouts.

So the costume hunt began. It was a half-assed effort, to be truthful. We knew about this party for the past month, yet we waited until half way through October to look for costumes. I have to say, there are quite a selection of costumes available to the party goer. Sadly though, the availability of said costumes is sadly lacking half way through the month. So web page after web page, the wife and I searched for semi-compatible costumes. For the female party goer, if you are built like Jenny McCarthy, there are numerous costume options out there. For the rest of the normal, human world, the choices become a little slimmer. Such is life, really. For the guys, there is a fair amount of costume options out there. The problem here is the cost of the costume versus the quality of the costume. Apparently, according to what I have seen, you really do get what you pay for. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, feel free to look like a cheap imitation of whatever look you are going for.

I opted for a middle of the road option, donning the guise of the Mad Scientist. Hopefully the stuff I managed to get doesn't look too cheap. The wife, taking the look of Sally, from the Nightmare Before Christmas, has a little more of an involved costume. I think we should have a good time, I hope my over coast isn't too hot.

I'll make sure and get some pictures from the big event this weekend.

Oct 12, 2008

Political Musings and Dodging the Soapbox.

I had determined to keep the idea of politics out of my blog, but today I seem to be finding myself taking a slight departure from that rule. And while I certainly don’t intend to get up on a soapbox and start preaching my ideals to the masses, I couldn’t help myself from musing at my own political convictions.

Growing up, I considered myself conservative, a staunch republican. Laughing at myself now, I realize I had absolutely no clue what that meant or how to represent that in my life. My, oh my. How things have changed.

Now, I don’t know that I am really a democrat. I don’t know that I am a liberal. I don’t even know if I would be considered independent.

So, now that I have figured out exactly what I don’t know, lets get down to what I do know. I know that I am not a typical, right wing, conservative republican. Not by a long shot. One of the things I have learned about many conservatives is they are very narrow-minded. There is no room for deviation from the standard party-line-of-thought-that-we-all-belong-to-and-must-conform-or-you-are-an-outsider point of view (ok, that was a mouth full). And perhaps that isn’t a fair representation of the conservative crowd as a whole. But, unfortunately, there are many people out there who portray that line of thought and simply make me feel like there is no room for one such as I in the Republican Party.

A few examples:

1 – I am for the death penalty. Certainly not a liberal point of view.
2 – I firmly believe should a man and another man, or a woman and another woman, want to marry, I am not the one to tell them they can’t. Certainly not a conservative point of view.

While one conviction has nothing to do with the other, they are at odds with the standard Political Party beliefs. To many, it seems you cannot be one and the other. There is one way, and no other way, and to believe in both simply makes you undecided and the focus of intentions to sway your wayward opinion to one side or the other.

I don’t know that these are any radical points of view; in fact I am sure they are not. There a thousand people out there who would jump to support either conviction and just as quickly denounce the other. That is simple politics.

What really chafes, and to date I don’t know of any ointments to relieve this particular burn, is they way people are treated for holding to their convictions. I hate religious zealotry and political fanaticism by way of bumper sticker and yard sign. If you live your life by your convictions you shouldn’t need a bumper sticker to be pegged as a certain type of person. It should be obvious. Yet it is the guy in the old VW bus with 8 thousand bumper stickers who quickly yells at me for driving a vehicle that is not friendly to the environment. As far as I know, the emissions from my truck are probably not much worse, if at all, than his dilapidated old touring van. At the same time, the religious zealot with all the “God loves me” bumper stickers is the first to yell at me for having friends who are of an alternative life style. Does God love anyone less simply because they don’t conform to the standard of Christian living?

I fear I might be on the soapbox, if so I apologize. I certainly don’t mean to criticize or condemn anyone for his or her own convictions. Our convictions make us who we are, and how we conduct ourselves. I have mine. I try to hold to them in everything I do in life. I hope, those that know me, know my convictions simply because of me, not because I have bumper stickers on my car and political signs in my yard.

Perhaps, one day, there will be no need for these bumper stickers and yard signs, and the general discontent that comes from opposing views and people who are unable to cope with another person’s opinion. Until then, I will live my life as I see fit. I will respect those that differ from me, and vote according to my convictions, which are mine and mine alone.

That’s who I am. Thanks for tuning in.

Oct 7, 2008

The hobby hunt may be over.

I think my hobby hunt may soon be over, if it isn't already.

Any one who knew me nearly 10 years ago knows I had a passion for aquariums. I started out with a29 gallon fish tank, and experimented with various types of fish and aquatic life. Soon, however, I moved to salt water fish and invertabrates. Sadly though, I have no photos from this time period that show my efforts in this arena.

After a time I decided it was time to move to a larger aquarium, and upgraded to 55 gallon tank. Filled with live rock and anemones, and various fish, it was a constant effort to make sure everyhing was healthy and thriving. A nice, time consuming effort with a visually appealing result. In my humble opinion, I don't see any interest in something that doesn't have a result that is obvious.

About a year or two ago, Ben and I had the idea to get a fish tank. So while he was here in town we went to the local store and made a few purchases. In the end though, it was in a poor place and I didn't spend the money I should have on various equipment because I was trying to do things the cheap way. Lately though, I have had the desire to clean it up and make it something worth displaying to those who would come by our little corner of the world here in Eueka. This is my result.Its a 10 gallon tank, and still looks rather rudimentory, but I have plans to add some back ground, a little more greenery, and more fish. Right now we have just the one Zebra Danio. He is somewhat of a survivor, and since the recent changes made to the tank, it is obvious by his behavior that he is extremely happy with his improved environment.

I still have that 55 gallon tank in the garage, and perhaps one day, in the future, I'll get it out and start all over again. In the mean time, the last three weeks of cleaning, water treatment, and over all care are keeping me happy. And its nice to have something to look at besides the TV.

Oct 6, 2008

A sight seeing trip interupted by a little hunting.

I took my first hunting trip.

Now I know, not everyone on earth agrees with the idea of hunting. My personal feeling is this: If the creatures that are killed are used for food, and thoroughly, then I don't have a problem with the whole thing. This seems like a reasonable mode of thought to me. After all, humans have been hunting animals for sustenance for centuries, even millenia, so why should I feel differently?

So Cody called me and asked if I wanted to go hunting. He knew I was in a walking boot, and that I don't have a hunting license, so I was invited to just come and keep him company and take photos as I chose. Seemed reasonable. So I was up at 0500 the other morning and off we went.

I don't know all the rules about hunting, so I felt a little unsure about the display below.When it comes to concealable weapons, like hand guns, there are very strict rules about where you can put your gun and your ammo. the rules are a little less strict with a long gun, like this shot gun. Besides, we were headed to some pretty remote areas, and I didn't see the need to hide the gun in case we needed it.

I took about an hour and a half to get to where we were hunting. And here is a couple of views of the area we traversed.

We traveled access roads all day, looking for bird, bucks and bears. We didn't see a single buck or bear, but a few bird, which I hear are rather tastey. We then went to Blue Lake. A pond really, but beautiful.
It was an amazing place. I started looking for a frog playing a banjo, but was disappointed. We did manage to land a brook trout, however he was extremely small and was released back to his home.

This picture here doesn't do the Brook Trout much justice. The colors were amazing, simply adding to the whole experience of the day.

So there you have it. A few pictures (the rest are on the Flickr page, and worth seeing). I enjoyed the trip, although a bit uneventful in the hunting arena. I did learn though, that Cody is a good story teller. I say story teller because every corner we came around he said something like, "I shot a bear here," or "This is a grouse honey hole here," and we spent most of the day simply looking, not hunting.

I enjoyed it. I think I want to go again. I think I need to get my hunting license.

Oct 2, 2008

Under house arrest no more.

I have come to the conclusion that if I don't leave the house very much I really find myself with nothing to say. I'm not sure how many time I could have posted that I sat around the house all day playing video games before some sort of Internet Regulatory Committee for the Abolition of Boring Crap shuts me down for being boring and repetitive. So, there you have it. My last two weeks in a few sentences.

So, my biggest outing from the house was back to Santa Rosa for a post op appointment. I'm sure there are many who remember this:
The result of this operation:

So I was laid up and for two weeks and looking forward t getting off the crutches and moving on with life. And for the record, crutches suck. There is no way around it. Its all fine and dandy that places make sure they have a way for disabled people to get in and out of places, like stores and restaurants. But they do not seem to do much in the way making sure there is enough room, once you are actually inside, to actually move around without killing yourself. But I'm past that now.

So I made the trek down to Santa Rosa with my folks (my wife wouldn't let me drive while I was required to be on crutches). While I was waiting I noticed a few things around the room that seemed somewhat note-worthy.

I'm pretty sure this wall of tools was recently used in a horror movies involving teens on vacation in a foreign country, staying at a youth hostel where people were disappearing and suddenly deciding that a group shower would make everyone feel better (thank you late night cable for airing such fine cinema and making use of such admirable actors and actresses).

OK, enough about that silliness. Lets get to the foot.

So, the Doc had to make a nearly 2-1/2 inch incision because the joint was so messy. There is still a considerable amount of swelling and some bruising, but it was clean and healing nicely. The joint is still very stiff, and and hard to move. We decided that I should be able to work out this kink on my own, without the need for physical therapy. Last, he wanted to know if I wanted more pain killer. I told him I hadn't used any of the Norco because it made me sick. He then said getting a different pain killer was no problem, but I still turned him down. I'm ready to move on.

As for ankle, and I quote the doc here: (As he pulled out some x-ray films they had just taken) I'm really happy with the results, but there is nothing we can do to make your ankle look any better.

So, the joint looks like crap. I, at the age of 32, shouldn't have an ankle that looks like this. But its cleaner than it was. There is a still a large bone spur on the front of the foot. But, because it is below the ankle joint and rather uninvolved in the grand scheme of things, it was left there.

Now I have a fracture boot, and more streamlined and efficient model than one I have previously had.

So I am mobile now. I still have one more week off of work (hip-hip-hooray!) and then 2 weeks of light duty (boo, hiss! Light duties are looked at like challenged workers).

Today we, my parents and I, traveled the Mattole Road and they were introduced to the lost coast. Tonight we watched the V.P. Debate on CNN. One subject I will probably expand upon later, one I think will make a point of leaving out of my blog all together.

As always, thanks for tuning in. And for those who care, I'll make a point of checking in more often.

Sep 26, 2008

An on going arument still not settled.

The Wife and I have a long term argument going, that does not seem to be getting any better. If anything, it just gets worse as time is going on. To date, this argument has been going on for about 5 years now. The subject, you ask?

The running fan at night.

For a long time now, I have always had a fan running in my bedroom at night. When I was a teenager, I got a fan for my bedroom because it was always so hot there (my parents house had very poor air circulation back then). Since then I have become accustomed to the "white noise" of a fan and the constant flow of air it creates. Fast forward a few years and I am constantly working night shift. For those of you who are familiar with the concept of the Circadian Rhythm, you know that being up all night and sleeping all day is not normal. So I would make the window as dark as possible, and run a fan on high. The goal being to simulate as close to my preferred sleepy time environment. This type of environment was all well and good for many years. That is, until the Wife came along.

She and I have a very different idea of what an ideal temperature is. The biggest problem here is: I am always a lot warmer than she is. I like air moving and she feels it dries out her throat at night, causing her to wake up with a sore throat. Case in point, last night.

We are visiting her parents, and it is very warm here in the Sacramento Valley. So I was laying bed last night, sweating. Finally I cracked and said I had to have something going. The air conditioner seemed it would make things too cold, but the table top fan available to us looked like an enticing option. Once on, even on low, things became so much better for me. The Wife however, did not seem to feel the same. Waking up at about 0600 this morning, about the same time Ben woke up, she complained of it being too cold.

Somehow, some way, we are going to find a solution to this argument. I don't really know how. I don't really know when. But eventually, we'll solve the problem. Until then, I figure if this is our biggest complaint, things really aren't that bad. She of course, could come up with a much larger list than me.

But that is something for a later post. For now, I'll continue to try to remember to move my chonies from the bathroom floor to the hamper, and reduce her list by one.

Sep 24, 2008

I've been put under House Arrest

Its hard to believe that in the past 4 days I haven't had time to sit down and post, something. What? I don't know. But the more realistic way to document this error in time management is: I haven't made time to sit down and blog something.

The wife is extremely adamant that I don't go anywhere. And unfortunately, her word is pretty much law here. She has been pretty darn good to me. When I wake up, after she has gone to work, there are some drinks and snacks left out in the living room for me. When she is home she is pretty good about getting me things I need. I can't complain about these things.

Its the time when I am home alone for 8 or 9 hours that seems to get to me. Quite honestly, I am bored. I have gotten pretty good at moving around on my own, and after only 6 days I can put weight on the joint with no real pain, but I still use a crutch to get around. But when you are home for 8 or 9 hours a day by yourself, and anyone who you would normally talk to during the day is at work, its pretty quiet. I find myself talking to the dog and cats for a good chunk of the day. Here is an example of a conversation between me and the only ones here at home:

Adam: Good morning Bear.

Bear: Bear looks up with an uninterested look.

Adam: What should we do today?

Bear: Well that's a dumb question, we are going to sit around the house and do nothing, just like yesterday.

Adam: What do you think Bear? Should we go watch some TV? Maybe play some video games?

Bear: Fricking human. That's what you did yesterday, and it didn't involve me then, why should it involve me now?

Adam: Well, lets go turn on the TV. Come on Boy.

Bear: I'm only getting up because you are asking so nicely. But don't expect me to get all excited while you lay on the couch, I have to lay on the floor, and you watch some movie I have been forced to see a hundred times.

Adam: That's a good boy. Come on.

And so it goes. The conversations with the animals only go so far. So I spend a lot of my day simply not talking. That, in and of itself, is a different experience. Talking is something that comes naturally, even talking to yourself (but we'll call it thinking out loud so it doesn't sound so senile). To go a full day without talking is a different thing all together. Its strange, almost creepy. I don't think I could be part of a monastery that requires the Vow of Silence. I simply talk to much. Although it might be interesting to try it one day, and spend some time in silent reflection about life in general. We'll see if that ever happens.

In the mean time, I think I'll go find bear and see if he want to watch a movie. I think the Matrix is on (one of my favorites), ad I think I've only seen it 99 times.

Sep 20, 2008

I went under the knife

The surgery was a success. I arrived at the surgery center at about 0830 hrs. For those of you unfamiliar with what a surgery center is, it is basically an out patient surgery center where in and out operations can be done at a much cheaper cost than staying at an actual hospital.
Once there, I was taken into the back where I as dressed in my hospital gown and given a bed. One of the things they want done before the operation is to have all jewelry removed. For me, this was somewhat easy, as the only real visible thing I wear is my wedding ring. Then I thought about the old nipple rings. They can come out. But its a hassle. So I asked, and apparently it was OK to simply tape them down with some gauze and medical tape.

Fortunately, I had my phone with me so when Delia was able to join me we were able to get some photos of this whole process. After we broke out the phone we noticed the blue sign posted right next to us.

Sadly, you can't see it very well. But it says that cell phone use is restricted to the lobby, and the lobby only.

We are rebels. Every now and then it feels good to stick it to the man, even in such a small and insignificant way.

Soon after the nurse came through, and asked a million questions about my health history and the operation. One of the things she included was a confirmation that the operation to take place was going to be on the Left ankle. After this, the operation room nurse came through. She did the same thing. She verified all the information that was taken by the pre-op nurse, then went on her way. Then the original nurse came back. She shaved my ankle up a bit, then again, verbally confirmed that the operation was going to be on the left ankle. After I agreed, she signed a sort of contract with me, using a sharpie marker.

This was done then the Doc came by. He didn't have a lot to say, but he checked in, as is customary, then disappeared again. Then the anesthesiologist came in. He was a pleasant fellow, and noted that I seemed exceptionally calm pending a surgery. Even so, he offered me something to "take the edge off." Although I didn't really feel an "edge" I couldn't see any reason to pass up an opportunity to make the whole experience a little more easy. So I readily accepted. After that, and after the dose of whatever it was started taking effect, the nurse came back and gave me my party hat.

I have to say, from this point on things became a little fuzzy. But apparently the "edge" was off and I was feeling fine. I was then wheeled the operating room, given a mask which was pumping in pure oxygen, and I later woke up shivering and cold (a standard side effect of anesthesia). After about an hour I was released back to the world.

All said, I arrived at about 0830 and was released around 1300. Pretty good. The surgery itself was more invasive than the Dr. originally intended. According to him, as he explained it to my wife, my ankle is a complete disaster. He had to make a larger incision than he wanted to, and 11 fragments of stuff were taken out and disposed of. I had asked I could keep the bone fragments but was rejected. On the plus side, he took pictures of everything, which I will post later. They are all the way across the house and I don't feel like trekking over there for them. So I'll probably do that tomorrow. In the mean time, I am reaping the benefits of being disabled.

Sep 14, 2008

Lessons Learned Under General Anesthetic

When I was younger I had the privilege of experiencing a major surgery at the age of 12, and a follow-up surgery at the age of 14. These two experiences are the only ones I have that involve anesthesia. Now, were one to look on the Internet, there is a plethora of information out there. If one were to make a simple Yahoo! search on the “after effects of anesthesia,” there would be approximately 7.5 million references on the subject. Yahoo! itself has a fairly decent report on the subject. They, they being whomever Yahoo! employs to write such columns, have the following to say about General Anesthesia:

“Some effects of anesthesia may last for many hours after surgery. If you had local or regional anesthesia, you may have some numbness or reduced feeling in part of your body. Your muscle control and coordination may also be affected.

Other common side effects of anesthesia are closely watched and managed to reduce your discomfort. These side effects include:

  • Nausea and vomiting. In most cases, this can be treated and does not last long.

  • A mild drop in body temperature. You may feel cold and may shiver when you first wake up.”

One would think, given the subject matter covered thus far, that I have a fear of being under the influence of a general anesthetic. I have to say, however, this is not the case at all. My point here, and it always seems like I am taking way too long to actually get to the point, is the doctor can do anything to you, and I mean ANYTHING, while you are completely unconscious. You become their pawn, their own monster they create from the multitude of prosthetic limbs and replacement joints available thanks to the miracle of modern medicine.

Don’t get me wrong; I have had my own unpleasant experience with anesthesia. After four hours under the knife I awoke to horrendous dry heaving and nausea. But the miserable experience is nothing compared to the other things done to me while in a state of unconsciousness.

Example #1: I am 12. I have just spent the better part of an afternoon in surgery, and I awake to the afore mentioned vomiting. As that subsides, I look to my ankles, where the surgery was performed. Instead of my little chicken legs I am so accustomed to seeing, there are large splints wrapped in a snug bandage. These splints, however, were not the real concern. Of more importance to me were the tubes coming from the top of the splints that ran to small containers used to show proof of blood circulation. In other words, they were draining blood to show there actually was some. This was ok with me. It didn’t hurt, and they gave me all the pain meds I wanted. So life was good. After a full day, and there was plenty of evidence of blood flow in the small canteens, the doctor came in to visit. After a brief hi-how-are-you session he looked at the drains. He made mention that were ready to be removed, and mentioned it might hurt a little. I was administered a quick dose of painkiller. Then the doctor, in his extremely silent way (he never said very much), took hold of both tubes, placed his other hand across my legs, and ripped the tubes from my ankles. Remember, he said it might hurt a little. A LITTLE?!?!? Good grief, if that was a little pain then I was the president of the Glee Club (which by the way, I was not). The pain was unbelievable. When he saw how upset I was, and admittedly crying, he apologized briefly and quickly explained there was no nice way to do what he did. So it was easier to simply get it over with. I hated that man for a long time after that.

Example #2: Fast forward 2 years. I require a follow up procedure due to a bone graft not taking properly. Once again, I am put under the influence of the general anesthetic and the same masochist who performed the first operation is at it again. Upon awaking, there is a familiar looking split wrapped around my right ankle. After about two weeks I am back to see the same doctor for a follow up appointment. When he removes the splint and a few bandages, we see an incision, about 3 inches in length, with a skinny little wire protruding from both ends of the cut. So there was about 3 inches of stainless steel wire in my leg at this time. The doctor, looking at it quietly, said nothing more and left the room. My mother, who was with me, and I both looked at the funny looking thing with some amount of bewilderment. Why on earth was that there? This is where I should have remembered that I hated this doctor. But somehow, over the previous two years, I had forgotten why exactly I hated this man. However, the doctor himself quickly rectified this omission from my memory. He returned to the office holding a pair of pliers. Somehow this still was not registering in my head, and I sat there on the table, stupidly thinking to myself, “Why on earth would he return with a pair of pliers?” Then he grabbed my ankle to hold me still. At that point I had one of the surreal moments in time when memories flood back to the very forefront of the mind, and everything becomes perfectly clear in one agonizing moment. He then grasped the end of the wire with the pliers and imply ripped it from my ankle. I saw stars, thousands of them, and fell back on the examination bed having lost consciousness due to the pain. Apparently, he had not forgotten the last episode of similar events, and simply figured absolutely no warning was better. Catch him off guard. It will make it easier. I think there was another small apology and an explanation that there was no easy way to do what he had just done.

I can assure you of one thing at least: I will not be afraid to ask questions and stop the doctor before anything happens post-op. And of the anesthesia, well, all I can say is I love trying to count down from 100 with the mask attached to my face.

100, 99, 98, 14, 107, 44, 12……

Pending Operation

So, the big day is coming. No, its not a child birth, nor it is it a windfall of cash from some distant relative. Its ankle surgery. And I'm pretty stoked about the whole thing.

Here is the run down:

At age 11 my my grade school teacher, Mrs. Bunch (I'm amazed I even remember her name), noticed during P.E. that I was running on the balls of my feet. My heels never touched the ground. After a little investigation, we learned that my ankles were in horrible shape. The joints looked as though they had collapsed, there was very little cartilage, and broken bone fragments loose in the joints.

I was then introduced to Dr. Mink, an orthopedic surgeon. While his bed side manner was in question at times, he certainly knew how to manage a person's ankle joint. After the initial surgery, at the age of 12, a second was required at the age of 14 , to remove a screw and a bone graph that never took.

With these operations complete, it was estimated that I would require ankle fusion by the age of 20. Now, I am 32, and ankle fusion is still going to be the ultimate result. But for now, it seems I have another few years left in these ankles.

Now I am pending a arthroscopic operation on the left ankle in order to buy some more time before ankle fusion in an issue. So the operation is scheduled for Thursday. Here is what I know:

The surgery is scheduled at the:

Santa Rosa Surgery Center
1111 Sonoma Ave
Santa Rosa, 95405
(707) 578-4100

As of now, we are arriving at the surgery center at about 0845 hrs. The operation is tentatively scheduled for 1045 hrs. I am expecting a phone call this week to confirm the appointment.

My parents, and Delia's, are going to come up for the day and keep Delia company.

We ourselves are going to arrive in Santa Rosa on Wednesday, hopefully in time for a nice lunch somewhere. and our goal is to make an afternoon of it with each other. The next morning we are going to get up early and head to the surgery center. Hopefully we are out in time for a lite dinner (I have no idea how I'm going to feel after the anesthesia).

So for now, we are simply waiting. We both work Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. I'm sure I'll have more on this subject later.

Sep 12, 2008

Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of my life....

So, I don't watch soaps. In fact, I loath them. I remember as a child mom used to watch them. It amazes me that people still do. There are a couple ladies at work who routinely take their lunch break and watch soaps in the conference room. To each their own I guess.

But it does seem like time has been going by rather quickly though. It was almost 2 weeks ago that Delia and I celebrated our anniversary, and I really haven't had a spare minute since. I'm up at 0500 to get ready for work. I get gone around 1830, make something for dinner, we watch a DVR'd program or two and unwind from the days activities, and then head to bed. Over the last couple weeks my schedule has been this: I worked 3 days, had one off, worked 4 more days, had on off and worked 4 more. So over the last 13 day I have had only a couple of days off with very little in the way of rest. So it goes I guess.

My consolation to all this is that after this up coming Wednesday I will have probably 3 weeks off due to the ankle operation. I can't wait for this. Any more, I can't move the old joint without it cracking and creaking. Its really quite disgusting to listen to, I guess. I myself am rather fascinated by it. The wife however, thinks its really gross.

With all this time off and nothing to do, I wonder if the wife really knows what she is getting in to. When I am sick I become a whiny turd. I'm grumpy, I'm selfish, and I want to be catered to. I imagine the first couple of days will be the same here. Fortunately for her, she will only be home a couple of days be fore she has to go back to work and I will be left to fend for myself.

What am I going to do with all this free time I am going to have?

Perhaps I should have taken this whole hobby hunt thing a little more seriously.

Sep 7, 2008

A year, and then some....

Last week, Delia and were sitting around talking about how we never seem to have very much free time and how fast time has been going lately. Then we realized that our 1 year anniversary was quickly approaching.

So we set a few ground rules. We are taking a cruise to Mexico in February, and all our free money is headed that way. So we decided not get gifts for each other. As for Dinner, we wanted some place we had never been before. So I started searching for a place to eat. There are numerous options available to the general lover of food, so I started searching. As it turns out, there are a whole slew restaurants that are not open Monday nights. In the end, we decided on Abruzzi, a rather fancy Italian eatery.

So I purchased some flowers and a card and planned for a evening of fine dinner and a little blackjack afterwards.

So we headed off to dinner. I had called ahead of time and let them know we were coming for our anniversary, which was a good thing. Everyone there who worked there offered their congratulations and best wishes. It really was pretty nice. With dinner ordered, a bottle of wine, we set into a fine meal, a really nice atmosphere, and good company. After all, there are very few people I would rather spend time with than the little lady.

We brought our wedding cake with us, which the restaurant took and put in the fridge while we ate. Then when it was time, they brought it out with a candle on it. It was all gussied up with mint leaves and flowers It was really nice.

Then they brought us rather large slices of cake, which were pretty good, even after being in the freezer for a year.

So it was a good night. Its been a quick year, and a good one. I'm looking forward to more.
Happy Anniversary to us.

Aug 29, 2008

A failed post, a silent laugh and I go under the knife.

I was sitting at my computer yesterday with Blogger opened and a blank page in front of me, waiting for inspiration to strike and my fingers to start playing the keyboard like an organ. Instead, I ended up going out to clean the dishes and start the crock-pot with some chicken soup.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have started a post and ended up with it like this, never to see publication (or even some semblance of realization).

Here is an example: I started thinking about the idea of Theme Music. Friends, family, the average Joe I see walking down the street. What would it sound like if people had their own theme music? So with that in mind I started scouring the Internet for what I would consider to be appropriate theme music for the people I know in life. After a time I had downloaded various television theme songs that I felt were appropriate for my grand idea.

Sadly, this came to a screeching halt, since there is no viable way to upload sound clips to Blogger. It seems there are ways available t you, but they involve subscribing to various Internet file-hosting sites, which is far beyond what I had in mind.

Instead, I then started downloading various theme songs from various television shows. One in particular struck me as amusing: Wonder Woman.

And I quote:

"Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman. All the world is waiting for you. And the powers you possess. In your satin tights, fighting for you rights, and the old red, white and blue."

Now, Wonder Woman aired from 1976-1979, a measly three years. And this time period was not exactly at the hieght of the women's lib era. But come on, does she have to be wearing satin tights in order to fight for truth and justice? And just because she is wearing satin tights, does it have to be part of the song? Were they just calling attention to Linda’s legs (which deserve attention, I admit; but enough that they are a part of the theme song?)? I don’t know; there is just something about it that makes me laugh.

Thus is the result of my Theme Music idea, a silent laugh about Linda Carter and her satin tights.

Oh yeah, I go under the knife September 18th. That will be a good thing. I’m sure I’ll have more on this later, but I’m still waiting for the hospital to call with more information.

So beyond that I don’t have much else to say, not that I have said much as of yet. But as always, thanks for tuning in.
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