Wednesday, November 30, 2005

CC Discovers Gene Kelly; Jack Discovers Squirrels; Cities Discover Christmas

Just Finished Reading: Loop by Koji Suzuki

CC has discovered Gene Kelly. She's seen him before of course but it wasn't until yesterday that she REALLY decided that she liked him a lot. She was home for lunch and Turner Classic was showing the That's Entertainment series. We tuned in somewhere in the middle of the first one and they were focusing at that point on Gene Kelly.

She kept saying how amazed she was that he could dance so well and still manage to look . . . masculine. Well you have to admit, the way people dance these days, especially your Broadway-style dancing, the men tend to look a bit gay. Ok, maybe more than a BIT. But back in those days, it wasn't like that. Watch the old MGM musicals and you'll have no problems believing that these very male characters can really dance.

What changed along the way? I have no idea. I was telling CC that part of the reason the men didn't look gay while dancing was that their steps were slightly different from their female partners. If you watch them, the men take more butch stances and strike stronger poses. The women tend to move more gracefully and elegantly, adding a touch of the feminine. When they dance alone it's not as noticable but when they dance together, there's no doubt.

So if you're looking for last-minute gift ideas for CC, you can't go wrong with Gene Kelly movies. Anything but Singing In The Rain, which we already have. :-)


There are squirrels out there. Oh yes, there really are. Up until this morning you only ever saw a lone squirrel in the distance or maybe just a tail scurrying up a tree. Not so today. Today there were squirrels and they were out in force.

I suppose it's due to the weather. This time of year they must be finalizing their nests and filling them up with nuts and things. They were certainly out in force. I was walking the dogs along the usual route when they suddenly stopped and assumed the "I see something" position. Ears up, nose twitching. Then Jack started barking and attempted to take off on his own. Katya naturally followed and since they were properly leashed, I went with them. When they both take off at once, you really have to plant your feet solid to slow them down.

Anyway, it didn't take long to discover what set Jack off. Squirrels. I saw two of them myself, dashing across the street in front of us.

The funny thing is that there is NO way Jack could ever catch one of those things. They're so FAST and they move in 3 dimensions. That's something that would really mess him up. When they come to a wall, they don't stop and turn around, they go UP.

I hope those squirrels take to their nests soon though. Walking the dogs this morning was a little too much like exercise :-)


Talk about your Christmas miracles, it appears that some cities out there have discovered that the "Winter Holiday" we celebrate every December 25th is actually called Christmas! Can you believe it? After all these years they finally remember the name.

It started back in the 90's, city governments were getting sued or swamped by protesters complaining that they DARED to say Merry Christmas on a sign or had a Christmas tree on city properly. The whole business was rubbish really. A bunch of holiday Grinches trying to ruin it for the rest of us. Each year it got progressivly worse until it reached it's peak where school districts no longer gave time off for Christmas and instead had scheduled a "winter holiday." How lame is THAT?

Well Christmas is back and with a vengeance and it's about damn time if you ask me. This nonsense about not being able to publicly name any religious holidays is just too tiring. Having a Christmas tree on city property does NOT force Muslims to be Christian any more than coloring a manorah in elementary school made me Jewish.

So let's knock all this foolishness and get back to what this holiday is all about: presents, football, and eating LOTS of cookies :-)

Ok, ok, and Jesus' birthday too. :-)


Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Holiday Is Ending

Currently Reading: Loop by Koji Suzuki

And so we reach the end of one holiday season and the beginning of another. Thanksgiving 2005 is in the books. We're all well-fed and dreading the inevitable resumption of normal life Monday morning. It doesn't matter what you do, the past four days have been a vacation (unless you're stuck working in retail in which case it's been a living hell). Time to get back to work.

Unfortunately, most people will be pulling double duty for the next month. The end of Thanksgiving, as all retailers know, means the beginning of Christmas. So while we've all enjoyed the nice, relaxing pace of Thanksgiving, we all look at the calendar with dread seeing that December starts on Thursday leaving us just 24 days after that to cram in all our shopping.

My opinion on those after Thanksgiving sales really shifts this time of year. On the one hand, those people are NUTS. Waiting in line at 4 in the morning just to get into a Walmart? Are you kidding me? That's just CRAZY! There was nothing in their sales circular that was such a good deal that it was worth being at Walmart before dawn. On the other hand, those people probably have most of their shopping done already while the rest of us have to sweat it out for a few more weeks.

It sort of mirrors my general feelings about Christmas too. Yes, I'm very happy with the whole "season of giving" and so forth. I wish folks were that nice to each other all year instead of just compacting it into a month. But you know, it can be a LOT of pressure trying to figure out what to get people for Christmas. Everyone has at least ONE person who's just IMPOSSIBLE to buy for.

I see a lot of nodding heads out there. Actually, I think everyone reading this is nodding their head. I guess that makes it yet another universal truth.

Some people try and get around this problem by asking for Christmas lists but even then there's no gaurantee that plan will work. Say you get a list from a person and everything on that list is boring and un-festive? What happens, for example, if you ask your wife for a Christmas list and she hands you a list of kitchen appliances? Well mister, you'd better come up with something OFF that list because if she only gets kitchen appliances, it's going to be a COLD night for you in more ways than one.

Another way to get around it is by giving a gift card. Those are useful up to a point but it's sort of like you're giving up or worse, not even trying to figure out what gift to give. If, for example, you give a gift card to a music lover because you really want to get them a CD but you just aren't sure which one to buy, that's fine. They'll be happy to have it. But if you give someone a generic department store card with no thought behind it, don't be surprised if they aren't as "thrilled" as you were hoping.

It's a little more difficult for me, this year, trying to find gifts for everyone. CC's going to be a tough one. Her list is almost all appliances and "useful" things. Finding something fun for her is going to be a bit of a challenge. Same thing with my sister and her family. We moved out six months ago and I think I've seen them since only twice? Three times? Certainly not often enough to get an idea of what they'd like for Christmas. And then there's my mother. Usually she's the easiest to buy for because she drops hints all the time. Well, as I said before, been gone 6 months. No hints.

As it stands right now, I've got three people covered already. It's still November for a few more days so I suppose I'm not doing too bad. Still plenty of time to figure out what to get these folks. And I also have the added advantage of having CC too. She's pretty good at helping me come up with gift ideas. Together I'm sure we can come up with something. If not, well, I guess it's a stack of Target, Borders, and Best Buy gift cards for everyone :-)


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Holiday Baking

Currently Reading: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

Yes, it's that time of year again. I think I mentioned this in the previous blog entry but it's the time of year when we STUFF ourselves with turkey :-) One of my all-time favorite times of year :-) But what I forgot to mention is that it's also the time of year when we all turn our homes into little bakeries and start whipping up all of those great holiday treats.

This year, since it's our first year in our new apartment, we're doing a little baking of our own. Normally the family would do its own baking of course. Pies for Thanksgiving, cookies for Christmas, that sort of thing. Well, we can't just go over there for Thanksgiving dinner and not take something right?

Today I'm making a Boston cream pie. You've probably had that before even if you didn't know what it's called. It's a yellow cake with a layer of pudding in the middle and frosted with chocolate frosting. Great stuff. I'm also making a small pan of fudge. My sister's kids will probably take most of that, which is fine. More of the Boston cream pie for me :-)


Monday, November 21, 2005

Finally!; Dining Out; 3 More Days!; Recovery Update

Currently Reading: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

If you've seen CC's blog then you know that yes, we FINALLY got a dining room table. We didn't have one when we moved into the apartment you see and for the past 6 months we've just been eating off TV trays. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but when your dining area is 4 feet from the living room and with a clear shot at the TV, there's no reason why you can't sit down at the table.

I was actually surprised that we found the table at Walmart of all places. Normally you have to go to a furniture store for something like that. The problem was, we went to all the stores in the area and the tables they had were not really what we were looking for. All we really wanted was a simple table, wood. Given the layout of the apartment, a big, fancy table would have looked really odd. And the new trendy tables just don't match us very well.

Our new table is a simple, caramel-colored oak table with four chairs, no pads attached. Simple. If we decide to change color shemes, we just get new pads for the chairs. Everything can match with no problem.

The real adventure was getting this all up to the third floor. As you may recall, I'm not allowed to do anything strenuous until around the 9th of December. Getting it out of the store was no problem. They have plenty of people to help you lug big items to your car/truck. Of course, you can't take those people home with you.

So, what we did was open the box right there in the truck in the parking lot of the apartment. Then in several trips, we took everything up piece by piece. Ok not really piece by piece. I can carry more than just one table leg. After several trips we had it all piled up in the dining area and I spent the rest of the afternoon putting together chairs. CC, ever the trouper, put the legs on the table.

Now, you do realize that this means we can actually entertain right? We have a table. People can come over and eat dinner. Gosh this means we'll have to be social now. :-)

We had dinner out again on Saturday. We both really enjoy that. Ok, I'll be honest, mostly what I enjoy is not having to cook :-) Things that would take me forever to put together I can order from a restaurant and have it sitting in front of me within 15 minutes or so. GOT to love that :-)

We didn't go any place fancy, just over to Appleby's. Not a bad place, good grilled food. We'd just finished putting together our dining room set so we were both pretty hungry. Imagine the irony. We finally have a table to eat off of and what do we do? We eat out :-)


Hey! Just three more days until the best eating holiday out there! That's right, THANKSGIVING! What are we giving thanks for? Apparently an abundance of turkeys! No, no, that's not true. It's all about those pilgrams being glad they didn't end up as roadkill during their first year here . . . and an abundance of TURKEYS!

The best way to celebrate this holiday is with TURKEY of course, but also with pumpkin pie and FOOTBALL! Tradition has it that you stuff yourself as much as possible during the first half of the first football game then you fall asleep on the sofa in front of the TV and wake up at some point during the SECOND football game wondering what the hell happened, why the uniforms are different, and who won the first game. THEN you start stuffing in the leftovers so you don't get stuck eating turkey for 3 weeks :-)


So, how are we doing with our recovery? Well apparently it's making us refer to ourself in the third person, which is annoying so we'll stop that right now :-)

I'm doing pretty well now actually. I don't get sore very often anymore, which is good. I'm no longer taking the prescription pain killers either. I tossed those last week. Normal Advil is just fine. Walking the dogs again, no problems there so long as they don't see ANOTHER dog and try and run for it. That still prompts some strain and sore muscles.

My diet is back to normal WOO HOO! No problems eating anything, which is great. In fact, I'm pretty much back to normal except for not being able to do anything strenuous. No heavy lifting, still can't do that. Sometimes I still get a little sore in the abominal muscles but that's not very often and not severe.

Guess you could say I'm nearly fully recovered. Just have to be patient and heal up the rest of the way :-)


Friday, November 18, 2005

Let The Complaining Begin!

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

It's one of those universal thing, like death and taxes. Every year books are turned into movies. Most of them are smaller books or genre-specific like crime or romance, but once or twice a year you have a HUGE blockbuster type movie based on a HUGE blockbuster type book. In the past years we've had the whole Tolkien Lord of the Rings series and the still on-going Harry Potter series, which will be the topic of complaints all across America tonight.

Actually, the complaining is already starting. Despite a whopping 89% favorable rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, what stands out in most reviews are the complaints. I even saw one article over on Fox that does nothing BUT complain. No, wait, they refer to it as "listing differences from the book." Yes, they list those differences but in only one case to they list a change in a positive light.

Mostly what I'm seeing falls into one of two categories. The first group is complaining that the new director is a little too much like the FIRST director and he's taking the series back to a more literal translation. The guy who did the third episode was much more stylistic in his approach and wasn't that just WONDERFUL . . . so they say. To be honest, I never had a problem with either method. Being literal worked great for the first two movies, which were based on much shorter books. Starting with book 3 though, the amount of text being translated to the screen grows dramatically! Naturally you can't be literal when the source material is so huge. Things have to be cut, combined, reworked to fit the time frame of a movie. And let us not forget, there were quite a few complaints about the third movie for just that reason, too many cuts.

Of course, cuts is the second category. Everyone has their favorite characters and scenes from the books and they expect to see them in the movies. They work themselves into a frenzy if their chosen one isn't featured prominently. Take this new movie. According to one "complaint," Victor Klum and Fleur (I'm not even going to look up her last name) hardly speak even though in the book they're both given HUGE back stories. Ok, yeah, so? It's something I remember talking about with movie 3. When you have that much basic plot to work with, you HAVE to cut down the little stuff along the way and when you get right down to it, Harry's fellow competitors in the Triwizard Tournament really are just there for the plot. Hell Fleur eventually ends up marrying one of the Weasleys and she's STILL not that major of a character.

One of the things that makes J. K. Rowling's work so great is her attention to detail. All those layers add up to a very rich literary environment. It makes for a good read. But it also makes converting it the work to film pretty tough. Some of the details can be worked in as background or scenery but when it comes to each character that crosses the paths of the protagonist, that's quite a bit more difficult.

Cut the director some slack. The movie will be great, we'll all enjoy it and we'll have a wonderful time. If you prefer the books, then stick with the books and stop trying to ruin it for the rest of us.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Recovery Update; Weather Report; Oscar Outlook

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

This didn't quite work out the way I thought it was going to. When the doctor said nothing strenuous for 4 weeks, and all the paperwork said nothing strenuous for 4 weeks, I was thinking nothing strenuous for 4 weeks. Alas, it was not to be. Last night I walked the dogs :-)

Ok that might have been a bit dramatic, but I did walk the dogs. In all fairness they were much better behaved than usual though and we didn't run into any of the neighborhood dogs. No pulling, no running, and when I said STOP they stopped. I think maybe they're just being easy on me knowing that I'm not yet back up to full speed. You watch, come Demember they'll be dragging me around all over the place :-)


Speaking of December, it looks like fall is finally here . . . again. I'm not going to cement that prediction though. We've had this happen a few times already where it's cool or cold for a whole two days and then a week later we're in shorts. Hell we were just in shorts yesterday for that matter. Then last night the electric blanket is on. This morning CC turns on the heater and I wore a coat while walking the dogs.

This sort of weather pattern is something that bugged me in Texas too. I'm not that picky about the weather really but you know, it would be very nice if there was some sort of consistancy to it. When it's supposed to be cold, be cold and STAY that way. There's just something freaky and wrong with having shorts and sweaters both mixed together in the same wash. :-)


Brace yourselves, it's going to be another one of those sucky Oscar years. You can already feel it can't you? We're in mid-November now and the holiday movies are starting to come out. That means bigger, more entertaining movies but not usually the stuff of Oscars. Only movie that comes to mind that might be in the Oscar race is Memoirs of a Geisha.

If this trend keeps up, it's going to be another one of those Oscar nights where I watch something else instead. I didn't watch the last one. Hadn't seen many of the movies that were nominated and the ones I HAD seen, well, they were just BAD. Come on, Sideways? The only way that movie is good is if you've put away a few bottles before the opening credits.

I was thinking about this the other day while I was browsing movie reviews. There just haven't been many good movies put out this year even if you aren't thinking Oscars. So what that means is that there will be this HUGE rush the last week of December and all sorts of little artsy-fartsy movies will come out and the folks in Oscar-land will just GUSH over the latest indy flick about gay cowboys eating pudding and . . . no wait, actually there already IS a gay cowboys eating pudding movie. Damn, betcha that's the one that wins best picture.

Maybe I'll skip the Oscars again this year. Unless Geisha manages to sweep everything, I suspect it's going to be a hair-pullng, frustrating night (which is why I don't watch the Emmy awards anymore).


Ok, here's the deal with the gay cowboys eating pudding. It comes from an episode of South Park, second season. The city is hosting an independant film festival because Robert Redford and company have managed to totally trash Sundance and they need a new little city to mess up. The kids are given an assignment to see and report on an independant film during the festival. At one point, Cartman says that everyone knows all independant films are about gay cowboys eating pudding. Later, Stay and Wendy are in the theater watching one of the movies and, sure enough, it's about gay cowboys eating pudding. You can imagine the jokes flying around earlier this year when Ang Lee released a film at Sundance that actually WAS about gay cowboys. Whether or not they ate pudding has not been reported :-)


Monday, November 14, 2005

Weekend Update; Low Battery; Mr. Bear Goes Shopping . . . And Gets A Bill

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

Better take a bathroom break and grab a drink. This looks to be one of those really LONG blog entries.

We had a pretty great weekend. Started it off Saturday by just doing some goofing off. CC and I pretty much took things easy Saturday morning though we did have one minor problem. Poor Jack ate something he shouldn't have and made a big mess of the carpets. We spent quite a bit of time cleaning up the results, so much so that we actually had to go out later and pick up some MORE cleaning supplies.

As I was kneeling down there, cleaning up dog vomit, my mind got to thinking about all sorts of things. One of them was how much CC really has made my recovery from surgery SO much easier. I'm serious, that woman is made of gold and I STILL have no idea what I did to deserve someone that fantastic. But I digress. Anyway, I was thinking it would be nice to get her something, just to say thank you for all the hard work she put in taking care of me AND working at the office.

After she finished up some office work she was doing at home, I told her we're going out. Where? Well that was going to be her choice really because our quest was to get her a new sweater. One thing she'd said a few times was that she'd like to replace some of her older sweaters where the elastic is getting weak and also some of her jeans that are starting to wear out. Jeans can wait. She doesn't wear them as often, but it's getting to be sweater season.

Off to the store we went, first stopping at Target. They had some nice sweaters available and CC settled on a very pretty red one. That'll be perfect for Christmas parties that we'll go to in a few weeks. We also went over to the Christmas decorations department and had a look there to get some ideas for our first tree. She wants to go with a red and gold theme so we were looking at ornaments, ribbons, that sort of thing. We picked up 4 stockings for us because I KNOW we'll never find them later. Mine has an S, her's has a C, then we also got a K and a J for the dogs. They're quite nice and they'll look great hanging from the fireplace.

After that we had coffee at Starbucks (well, chai latte for me) and just relaxed a bit.

Sunday was even more fun! CC's boss was having a "sip and see" for her new baby. Basically folks went over to have drinks and look at the baby and chat. CC had a champagne cocktail, I had a little wine, we both had some GREAT snacks and a good time. Her boss was asking me about the surgery, which was very nice of her. In fact, quite a few people asked about it.

The funniest part came when Andre, the baby's father, was holding him. The baby started getting a little fussy so what does Andre do? Hands him off to someone else. He jokes, "see that? That's my parenting skills kicking in there. When the baby needs something I hand him off." He was kidding of course . . . I think. He's just one of those guys who knows full well that with newborns, they always respond better to a woman's touch.

After that we went to the movies and saw The Legend of Zorro. Forget what you heard about the movie in the reviews. Zorro was pretty damn entertaining. No, it wasn't high art or anything like that but then, who goes to see an Antonio Bandaras action-comedy expecting Oscar material? Apparently film critics, that's who.

It's a pretty simples story. Bad guys in secret organization trying to take over the world. New super weapon. Zorro saves the day. Lots of people are trying to read political messages in the whole thing but to be honest, if that was their goal the failed pretty bad. Yes, you could read things into it if you wanted to but really it was just like any other Saturday afternoon adventure movie, like from the old days. It was fun. There were some good jokes, lots of sword fighting and such, and the plot wasn't totally improbable.

One thing I was sort of expecting to see what the appearance of someone from The Wild, Wild West; either version, movie or TV. The movie had all the right elements. Evil bad guys, fancy hideouts, super weapons. Would have been funny to have West pop in there and maybe untie Zorro or shoot one of the bad guys like he was secretly following all the action from the background. Ah well, it was still fun.

After the movie, Japanese food. Right across the parking lot from the theater is a Japanese place. I hadn't been there yet but CC had sushi there earlier in the week. I must say, they had some great food. I had kamekazi rolls, which is ell, crab and salmon sushi, plus chicken katsu which came with miso soup. Good stuff there. We'll be going back there for sure, probably after seeing Memoirs of a Geisha. I'm sure it'll put us in the mood for Japanese food.


The battery in the truck has been groaning lately. It hasn't stranded anyone yet but I think that's mostly because it's over-sized for my truck. See, when I first got the truck 10 years ago, for whatever reason, the battery that was in it was bad. I think the dealer said it had some bad cells in it that weren't recharging. Since this happened within the first month I had the truck, they replaced it for free. To sort of make up for any inconvenience it caused, they put in the biggest damn battery that would fit in the battery bracket. I checked later, it's the same size batery they put in full size SUV-type trucks. I mean, the thing was HUGE.

Because it was so huge, the battery, even without being able to retain a full charge, STILL had enough to crank the engine. The only problem was that we kept losing our clock and radio settings. Yes, I know, it's also a sign that the thing is going to run out completely eventually and needed replaced.

Took it over to Sears and had them do the full check on it. Always like to make sure the other parts are working, even though I was pretty sure they were. Lots of corrosion on the battery cables and the posts so they tried that first but that wasn't enough. The battery wasn't holding enough charge and had to be replaced. So out comes the old Motorcraft battery and in goes a new Diehard! What can I say, I like the Diehard batteries. Never had one let me down.


Well you know, if I'm at Sears that means I'm at the mall and if I'm at the mall that means I'm getting exercise doing some walking . . . and shopping :-) I didn't shop TOO much though. We're on a budget you know so I'm trying very hard to curb my spending and when I DO spend, I try to get bargains. Today I picked up a very nice jacket, half-off. Sears had all their coats on sale.

I checked the other stores of course to look for deals but I quickly learned that there are only a few places that actually sell coats in my size and Sears was the only one who had them on sale.

I also tried to find a flower pot. This turned out to be a bigger adventure than I thought. See, most places, when Christmas season starts, pack up their garden supplies and that's where they put Christmas stuff. Ok, fair enough, I can understand that. But DAMN did they have to pack up even indoor flower pots and soil? I have these really great plants that CC's office sent me but they're in pots that are too small. I wanted to get bigger ones but I guess that's going to have to wait until after Christmas. They should be fine but it was still pretty frustrating.


Got the bill today. Which bill? Why the hospital bill of course :-) Actually this isn't the one we pay. I suppose we COULD pay it but we aren't because it's been filed with insurance so I have no idea how many of these items are going to be paid and at what percentages. Right now we let the hospital and Blue Cross figure out who's paying what then we'll pay the rest.

Want to know what the grand total was? This is without insurance of course, just straight numbers.


Yes, you read that right. 11k just to have them hack out my gall bladder. No wait, actually hacking out the bladder only cost 4200. The rest goes to lab tests, drugs, room stay, recovery room, stuff like that. I should point out, this doesn't actually include the DOCTOR fee. He bills separately.

Crazy what they charge these days. Makes you wonder how folks without insurance manage these things. I'm looking over the list and I can tell you, the prices are WAY too damn high. I have no doubt that these are the going rate of course, but still, how did it ever get to the point where lab work alone costs damn near 1000 dollars?

No, I'm not going to advocate any sort of government plan to control costs. Every time those morons up in DC mess with something the price DOUBLES. Still, there has to be some sort of middle ground. Not likely that I'LL figure it out, but maybe someone will one day.


Lastly, just a friendly reminder that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Yes, that's right, Thanksgiving is next Thursday the 24th so everybody start making room in that tummy for all that food. And make room in the refridgerator for all those leftovers :-)


Friday, November 11, 2005

Sleeping Odd Hours; Born to be Wild

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

I have been sleeping some really odd hours ever since I got back from the hospital. On a normal day I'm falling asleep around midnight. Sleep 8 hours or so and then I'm back up again. Sometimes I sleep a little more depending on what I did that day but still, asleep around midnight is pretty standard.

When I was in the hospital, I had to suffer through the same thing everyone else does: a nurse that comes in every 2 hours to check on you. Don't get me wrong, for the most part that's a GOOD thing. Hell there were even times when I slept right through the visit. But you know, 4 am comes around and they're supposed to take your temperature. No way to do that without waking you up.

In addition to the nursing stuff, I also had a ready supply of pain killers. That'll really put a drag in your day. I remember when I came out of surgery, when the pain was pretty much at it's worse that first day, I lost track of time in a big way. I would fall asleep and I'd SWEAR I'd been out for a while. Then I'd look at the clock and only 20 minutes had gone by. Very strange indeed.

Last two days here at the house I haven't been able to fall asleep before 3 am. First time it wasn't a big deal. I woke up pretty much my normal time, 5 to 6 hours later though not 8. LAST night though, I slept my full 8 and it sort of freaked me out this morning. I woke up, rolled over and looked at the clock. 11:22! YOW!

A few hours later, having had breakfast and done some of the morning stuff, I was dragging a little so I decided to lay down on the sofa . . . and SLEPT for an hour and a half!

I just KNOW I'm going to be up all night again tonight. Ah well, it'll correct itself sooner or later :-)


CC and I went grocery shopping tonight. I'm not allowed to do anything strenuous so my job was managing the list. I also took advantage of my "condition" and used one of those little motorized carts they have at Walmart. You've seen them. They're there for people in wheel chairs or who have injuries or something like that. Mostly they get used by old people and folks who are too fat and/or out of shape to manage walking around Walmart for an hour.

In my case, last week's surgery makes me unable to be as active as I used to, for now of course. I can't walk as far without running out of steam plus walking a lot makes my side sore. I'm supposed to be taking it easy, remember?

So there I was, puttering around Walmart in the little cart. That was actually pretty cool. I was over that the pharmacy and the guy that works there, the lab tech assistant guy, he's always goofing off. You get a line over there at the pick-up window and it's a sure bet he's at the other end of the pharmacy pretending to tidy up his counter area, also pretending he can't see the line of people waiting. Didn't have to wait THIS time though. Those little carts have a horn . . . and it's annoying :-) That's right, I just held down that horn until he came over (which was pretty damn quick for a change). Yes, that's me, wild child :-)


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Cecillization; Productivity Update

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

When CC first started working at her present company, one of the things she did was re-format the training manuals. Keep in mind, there was nothing really wrong with the first set. They simply weren't pretty. Left with time alone and boring books, CC went to work adding fancy bullets to lists, headers and footers to all the pages, and clip art to make some concepts easier to understand. Needless to say she impressed the hell out of everyone.

When she was in Manilla, she continued that tradition. I remember we jokingly started calling the process Cecillization. That's what happens when CC takes old, boring documents and makes then readable and pretty. The same is also done to presentations and proposals as well leading one fellow employee to remark once, "I'm always nervous when I have to give a presentation with you. Yours always look so much better."

One more recent case, in one of the lessons, there was a set list of objectives. Nothing dramatic, just a list of things you should be able to do. CC found it a little dry and boring so, just because she could, she turned the whole thing into a flow chart. The boss found it so useful she didn't even recognize it as the same, boring list they'd been using before.

So why do I bring this up today? Because of an event my wife told me about last night. Years back, CC started sponsoring a child. You've seen the commercials I'm sure. You send in a small donation. That donation is joined with lots of others and together that money is spent helping out pool folks in third world countries.

Since moving here, she's been a bit lax in sending in donations so the organization she donates to send her an e-mail and attached a Word document form that she could fill out to make her donation. Nothing big there right? Happens all the time right? Trust me, it never happens like THIS . . .

She Cecillized the form. Yes, it's true, she was so annoyed with the condition of the form they'd sent that she took some time out and re-did the entire thing, including modifying the graphic they'd put in (which apparently was in backwards). Just imagine the look on the poor clerk's face when the e-mail arrives with a completely Cecillized form! I know my wife. I know her work. That new version is spectacular.

What we're both curious about now is whether they'll use her version or their old version. They'd be a fool to turn down free Cecillization but at the same time, the person who made the original form might think she's being a bit of a smart ass. We'll keep you posted if we hear more on that one :-)


I have been somewhat productive today. I'm much more mobile than I have been, which is good. Still a little sore in the abdomen, which is understandable. But what's great is that I'm ONLY sore. At the worst, it feels like maybe I did a few too many sit-ups yesterday. Abdomen is a bit tight. I've got a limited range of motion. Otherwise, it feels ok and that's a hell of a long way from where I was last week :-)

Wow, one week ago at this time I was sitting in the hallway at the hospital throwing up all over myself. Amazing how much things can change in 7 days :-)


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Home Again To Happy Dogs; Most Embarrassing Moments; War Movies

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

Ok, everybody can relax, I'm here :-)

That's right, I'm home now, finally :-) The dogs are VERY happy to say the least. I don't think I've stopped smiling since I got here.

Don't get me wrong, it was very nice of my folks to put me up the past few days. I needed that. Needed the quiet time to catch up on my rest and get used to doing things again. But you know, doesn't matter where a place is, it never can quite compare to home. No matter where you go, no matter how fancy the hotel or how great the city, if it's not home, it's just not the same. I'm home now and I'm already feeling a whole lot better :-)


Since I was in the hospital, and not on vacation, I don't have any really great stories to tell. Nothing dramatic happened. No torture or anything like that. Hell I was on a clear liquid diet so I didn't even have to worry about bad hospital food. The strongest stuff I was given was beef broth.

That being said, there were a few less than stellar moments during the trip. You have to laugh about these things or at least not let them get to you. If you let stuff like this bother you, you'll end up depressed and believe me, the hospital is NO place to be depressed. It's bad enough all on it's own. I purposely didn't take my hearing aids with me beacuse I didn't WANT to hear what was going on outside my room.

Moment number one came as I was being whisked off to surgery Thursday afternoon. I'd been in bed at that point for over 24 hours, not counting bathroom breaks. I hadn't eaten anything since Tuesday dinner. I hadn't had any of my usual, daily medication either. Why does this matter? Well it all leads up to one big moment: Return of the Exorcist!

I'm being pushed down the hall, people all around me, when I hold up my hand and say to everyone that I'm feeling sick. Feeling a bit dizzy. They stopped. People looked around. No one seemed to know what to do. I told them to get me something to throw up in because I was probably going to throw up. No response that I could see or hear. Second time I was a little more curt. Didn't matter becase right after that I became a fountain.

Now, you would think that as long as it had been since I'd eaten, and considering the amount I'd thrown up the day before, I'd be empty at that point. Turns out I wasn't. I must say, I was rather impressed with both the distance I managed to spray as well as the volume :-)

The next one came later that night, well after surgery. Everything had worn off and I'm stuck with facing this nasty reality that I have to pee, the bathroom's way over there, and I'm WAY too sore to get up.

Solution? Pee jug. They'd given me a pee jug earlier in the day to track how much I was peeing vs how much fluids they were giving me. No problem. Just used the pee jug right there from the bed. Worked great. Just like a bed pan. At least for a LITTLE while.

Late at night, jug is getting kinda full. CC's asleep and I don't want to wake her so I angle the bed a little, trying to move the jug around and then I feel it. WHOOSH! Yup, spilled the damn pee jug all over myself.

Hope you weren't drinking anything when you read that cause you probably spit it all over the monitor :-)

Anyway, that night my attendant earned her little bonus high five thingy. The volunteers give you these bonus smile things so whenever someone does something REALLY nice, you give them one and they hang it up somewhere. It's nice little attaboy type thing. Well she earned it that night let me tell ya. CC managed to get me mostly cleaned up then the two of them changed the sheets somehow. Still not sure how that was possible given my condition.

Best part, no one made a big deal out of it. Talk about humiliating. Pee all over myself. Well, at least I didn't have to clean it up ;-)

The last moment I like to call "marking my territory." I spent so long in bed with these weird abdominal sensations that every time I get up gravity makes me have to pee. Everything shifts and WHOOSH I gotta GO!

Well, I can't make it to the bathroom obviously. I'm not moving very fast these days. CC suggested, before I left the hospital, that we use those adult diaper things that people with bladder trouble use. In the very least, it'll prevent a REALLY embarrassing moment right? Yes, I suppose so, but it still feels WEIRD.

Got to my folks' house. I was climbing out of the car when it hit me and I mean it HIT me. BAM I had to GO. So I went :-)

I'm thinking it was a symbolic thing. I was just marking where I was going to stay for a few days, that's all :-)


Been reading online that Jarhead isn't the greatest of war movies. Most folks are complaining about it's very anti-war message. That's sort of the rage in Hollywood of course and has been for a LONG time. Prior to that you had a whole lot of war movies that while were more positive, were totally unrealistic. They were more like adventure movies set DURING a war.

If you want a middle ground, a good war movie that doesn't get all freaky with the anti-war message, get a copy of The Big Red One. It's been out on DVD for a while now and it follows the exploits of a 1st Infantry squad during WWII. Hey, it's got Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill in it so how can you go wrong eh?

One of my favorite spots in the movie is the Normandy landing. Sam Fuller shows the world that you can depict the landing of Normandy and not traumatize the audience the way Speilburg did. Yes, you get a full sense of the danger and tension but you get it without seeing people turned into jello by high powered weaponry.

So, when you're in the mood for a good war movie, check out The Big Red One. You'll love it.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Little Drama

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

Well, by now most of you have heard about my "procedure" from CC's site. I'll give just the basics for now and then post the rest when I get home or when I have a little more energy. At the moment my energy comes and goes but I know people have been asking about me so I decided to blog today from my recovery room.

First off though, damn, I am WAY too young to be having gall stones. No, seriously, you see this happening on TV and it's always to some old guy. Not supposed to do this at 35. Grrrrr.

So here's what happened. Wednesday morning I had the attack. Hurt like hell. In fact, it hurt so bad that I actually considered going to see a doctor. And when the pain never really went away, I figured that's what I'd do. Pain like this tells you that something is just not right and it's not going to get better. I called CC and told her to come home. I went downstairs, met her in the parking lot, and off we went to the hospital.

Hours later, after several tests and bleedings, they came in and told me I had gall stones. They asked if I had a doctor of my own and I said no so they got one for me. He had a look and said they had to come out. They'd said as much anyway. What he added though was that the gall bladder needed to come out too. It was only a matter of time. And since the surgery was about the same anyway, I might as well have it done while I was there.

Had it done Thursday afternoon. Spent Friday recovering. Saturday I had to check 0ut. I would have preferred to stay. It was convenient being there. Someone checked on me all the time. Meals were provided. CC didn't have to worry so much. I suppose I could have stayed but I would have had to pay for it. Insurance will only cover so much.

Instead of going home, we came to my parents' house. They have smaller dogs plus someone will be here most of the time. This makes CC feel much better which is what's most important to me. Hell all I really need is a bed to lay in to recover so I can sleep it off. The rest puts CC's mind at ease. Everyone wins.

Kinda funny though. Here I am right back where I was this time last year. Same house, same room even. Of course, the furniture and stuff has changed.

Naturally, thanks to my parents for letting me stay. Sure does help us out. And thanks to everyone who's been asking about me. Feels good to be missed :-) And a big thanks to CC's office, which sent me a HUGE flower/plant arrangment. And also, extra thanks to those folks at the hospital who took care of me the past few days.

But the biggest thanks goes to CC. There's no way in hell I could have made it through all that without her help. There aren't words to express how thankful I am for her :-)

With any luck, I'll be back soon. I'm making progress. I have a bit more energy. Not as sore. I'll get back to blogging and I'll give you all the details. Should provide a little entertainment :-)