Friday, December 24, 2004

blog and run

Okay, so I’m listening to Liz Phair as I compose this entry. Sue me if you don’t like it.

I fired up the new camera after work this evening and began the process of learning how everything works. Included in this entry are a couple of the first photos I took with my shiny new Nikon D70. I believe they mark the beginning of a very promising working relationship.

This first image is a shot of a reproduction of a Margaret Keane painting from 1961. My wife likes this style of art, whereas I tend to gravitate more towards the drawings of Gary Larson and Berkeley Breathed for inspiration. If asked to name my favorite living painter, I would respond by asking if you are familiar with the works of Bev Doolittle.

This other image is of a draft horse figurine that I recently obtained from my grandmother. My grandfather collected these things for many years before he passed away, and I always thought they were the koolest! I’m very pleased to have one of my own now.

I’m not a big horse person, so I may have a few holes in my history facts. I understand that draft horses peaked as the dominating source of industrial power across the United States around 1920. It makes sense then, that my grandfather would have fond memories of draft horses as he would have been familiar seeing them working on the farm and helping build roads and used in other construction projects when he was a kid. No doubt he would have noticed their rapid decline in popularity as they began being replaced by the automobile when he was about 8 years old.

I’m taking tomorrow off work so I can get a haircut and take care of any last minute Santa-related preparations that need tending to. The pending haircut reminds me of my favorite barber joke…

Q: “What’s the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut?”

A: “About two or three days.”

Before you post a comment explaining how lame you think that joke is, please keep in mind that I never typed that it was funny. I tend to laugh at lots of things that aren’t that funny.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

yule blog

I made a quick stop at the grocery store on my way home this evening after a LONG day at the office. I picked up a few essentials and made a beeline for the express lane. Although I was under the 15-item limit, my purchases were large and heavy enough to require me to utilize a shopping cart.

I pushed the buggy (I call shopping carts “buggies”) across the frozen parking lot and unloaded my items into my truck. I was going to abandon the cart where it was parked… not so much because I’m lazy, mind you, but because it was freezing outside. Besides, I already know what I’m getting for Krismas. I figure, how good do I have to be at this point?

At any rate, I quickly scanned the parking lot to see who (if anyone) was watching me. I’d hate to leave a cart in the middle of a parking lot, only to see myself on the evening news portrayed as “part of the problem.”

I noted that the Salvation Army bell ringer wasn’t concerned with my buggy etiquette, then observed a man sitting behind the steering wheel in an old white pickup truck. This dude looked exactly like the robot gunslinger from the movie Westworld, and he was looking right at me. His icy stare seemed to slice right through the winter wind, my coat and flannel shirt, and right through my Generation X veins. I decided I didn’t want to take any chances with this fellow, so I pushed the buggy an extra 35 feet over to the aluminum corral where I left it all by it’s lonesome.

While driving home, I wondered what I would do if I wake up tomorrow only to discover that I’m just a character in a new Michael Crichton novel. If that should be the case, I’m going to definitely quit my job and sleep in.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

ticket to BLOG

I heard this week that Paul McCartney is scheduled to perform during this season’s Super Bowl halftime show. I guess if anything positive resulted from last year’s fiasco, it is that the people in charge were forced to bite the bullet and hire a professional entertainer. Still, it leaves me wondering… whatever happened to Wings?

I was thinking about John Lennon earlier this afternoon. I think it had something to do with having watched a special about the Madrid train bombings this past March on the tellE the previous evening. I wondered what message John (okay, and Yoko) might have had for the terrorists if he were still alive today. After considerable pondering, I decided that although I couldn’t predict with any degree of accuracy what he might have said (after all, I’m no John Lennon), I felt comfortable with my assessment that he would have delivered his message in a funny accent, and it would have almost certainly rhymed. Would his statements or reclusive love-ins serve to stop acts of terrorism? Highly unlikely, but his entertaining hijinx would have been a welcome distraction nonetheless.

In keeping with the Beatles “theme,” I should mention that I am excitedly anticipating the arrival of a DVD from Netflix in the mail entitled “Concert for George.” This movie is a live recording of a concert held at Royal Albert Hall in London in 2002- marking the one-year anniversary of the death of George Harrison. I’m led to believe that this film contains some outstanding performances by musicians including Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Ravi Shankar, and Jeff Lynne (to name a few). Supposedly, they will be performing the songs of George Harrison- perhaps the most talented of the Fab Four. If you catch yourself smirking or scratching your head while reading that last statement, let me remind you that it was George who gave us Time Bandits.

And what blog entry discussing the Beatles would be complete without a statement about Ringo Starr?

This one!

Friday, December 10, 2004

roadside distractions

Shadows of the Mother Road

Sorry, really no time to think of much of interest to write once again as I've been spending my free time researching what camera I want to buy. (Settled on the Nikon D70) I will be posting photos taken with the new camera before the new year strikes.

I also have been working through a few serious issues with my commercial website, but that all seems to be under control now.

medical update: News from the radiologist and doctor indicates that my abdominal pain is "real," although it has yet to be determined what sort of treatment will be required beyond drinking beer and trying not to think about it.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Caution Horses 101

Caution: Horse in mirror may be closer than it appears

Thursday, December 02, 2004

KAT scan fever

Well, I guess we’re either all friends here, or strangers, so this topic should be appropriate for this forum. After dealing with an intermittent “pain” in my right abdomen for the past several, well, let’s call them “months,” my doctor has tentatively diagnosed my condition as having an “incisional hernia.” The best way I can describe the sensation is having a pulled muscle that seems to get better, only to begin throbbing again. Basically, the belief is that the area surrounding the location where I had abdominal surgery as a toddler has become weak, and I may be in danger of literally spilling my guts to the world. Okay, perhaps not quite literally, but when it comes to doctors and medical procedures, I tend to paint pictures with my most dramatic brush.

With that in mind, today I went in for a CAT scan (or CT scan for medical purists). I should add that I had talked to enough people who had had one (or more) before hand to really make me uncomfortable with the waiting process. The waiting was undoubtedly the worst part as it allowed the crock pot of my overactive imagination to nearly boil over, spilling uncertainty and doubt all over the countertop.

No wait, the WORST part of the whole deal was having to drink this milky krap called “Ready-CAT” (or something along that line). The liquid is a contrast material that I suppose coats your innards in order to allow for the clearest and most accurate images. I was told to drink almost a full liter of this white fluid in two sittings about an hour before my scheduled appointment. As it turned out, my valve and gag reflex conspired to make it take me a full three hours to get about 98 percent of the stuff down my gullet. Luckily I had plenty of time to get it down though since things don’t always go as planned.

I would imagine that any of you who have already experienced a CT scan would just as soon enjoy your web surfing time by looking at photos of my outrageous kitties than continue with this particular ranting. But for the rest of you…

A CT (computed tomography) scan, uses special x-ray equipment to obtain image data from different angles around the body. Then computers take those data and process them in order to depict cross-sections of body tissues and organs. When it comes to studying the abdominal region of the human body, I’m told that this is the next best tool besides a very sharp knife. CT scanning is also apparently very good to help diagnose problems inside the chest, identifying cancers, aiding in the treatment of spinal problems and injuries to the skeletal structure.

Although many hospitals have dedicated CT scanners in their emergency room to help quickly identify internal injuries for trauma cases, I learned the hard way today that that isn’t always the situation, and oftentimes, hospitals only have one CT scanner. If you MUST go, I think my best advise is to tell you to be prepared for a wait. If waiting isn’t possible, I suppose you might consider crashing your car into a light pole in the parking lot near the emergency room door as that would almost certainly grab someone’s attention.

The hospital I went to is in the middle of a large reconstruction project, which lent areas of the place a surreal, almost wartime quality. I believe that was the most interesting observation I had inside the hospital. Nevertheless, I was taken to a mobile CT scanning unit in the parking lot behind the hospital. It reminded me of the semi-truck used to haul Evel Knievel's bikes around the country in search of the next great jump location. “Fine,” I thought, “I’ll do the CT scan here, but if it is determined that I need surgery, I’ll shop around as I’m not overly keen on the idea of being opened up in a parking lot with the sign from a Burlington Coat Factory in clear view."

As instructed, I wore comfortable, loose-fitting (yet moderately stylish) clothing for my CT scan. I wasn’t issued a gown, and since they were only interested in my stomach, I was even allowed to leave on my eyeglasses and ring. I suspect I could have left on a gold chain had I been wearing one at the time.

The CT scanner is a large, square machine with a hole in the center, something like a doughnut. I was made to lie still on a table that moves up and down, and also slides into and out of the center of the hole. Covered with a sheet with my jeans pulled down to my ankles, my feet were propped up on a heavy pillow. I was so comfortable at that point, I do believe I could have dozed off if not for the fact that I was waiting to have an iv jabbed into my arm. I was told that the iv is used to administer iodine into my bloodstream that would enhance visibility. The technician also told me that I would experience a few moments of heat spreading throughout my body and a metallic taste in my mouth. Possibly, she added, I would experience itching, hives (those are always fun), shortness of breath, or swelling in my throat.

As the table began moving and inserting me into the doughnut feet first, I took one last “good” swallow and did my best to relax. I opened my eyes and found myself staring directly into the General Electric logo on the front of the scanner. Trying to further relax my body, my brain offered in its Robert Heinlein robot voice “This brief taste of your own mortality is brought to you by GE.” I didn’t laugh, but somehow it did manage to make me feel more at ease.

The next few minutes went quickly. I was moved in and out of the doughnut on the magic table as the x-ray clicked and whirred all around. First it was above me, then below, then to my left, then to my right, and then again to my left but slightly behind… Whew, I soon gave up trying to keep track of what it was doing, and concentrated on my new game of pretending that I was levitating and making myself move back and forth by sheer will alone.

I was still quite cold, and hadn’t tasted any metal when the technician reappeared from wherever it is technicians disappear to, and began apologizing for having stuck me in the arm when I didn’t actually require the iodine injection. I forgave her immediately when I realized that she was informing me that I was done and could go home. Funny, I suspect I would have argued with a mechanic if I went to pick up my truck and he told me they had accidentally rotated the tires when all I wanted was an oil change.

Now I’m back to the old waiting game- to see how the radiologist and my doctor interpret the results, and to find out whether my stomachache is actually located in my head.

In the meanwhile, I do believe that today’s dose of radiation already has me feeling better.