Category Archives: Misc

It still works, but I want it gone

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It took me a few years to get around to it, but I finally willed myself to move this old bomb of a TV out to the road for the garbage truck. It had been sitting in a corner of my bedroom doing nothing but collecting dust. It’s one of those big models from the late-80’s to the mid-90’s.
That sucker is heavy. Hope I didn’t give myself another hernia. It still works, but I want it gone.
Next Day Update
Someone claimed the TV before the garbage truck did. Whoever it was, I hope the TV brings them much joy. I still got the remote control here, I should’ve taken it out and left it on the TV yesterday. But the same buttons are on the front of the TV, so at least they’ll be able to work it.

Standing Rock

I guess everyone has heard something about the Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock and this big Native American movement to stop the pipeline from passing through the reservation’s water source. Of course the usual line was drawn. Some people side with the Dakota Access Pipeline and some people side with the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

They were originally going to construct the pipeline through Bismarck. Bismarck residents rejected the pipeline for the same reason the Sioux are rejecting it, they were concerned about their water source. Seeing how the pipe recently burst somewhere down the line, I think their concerns are reasonable.

Why weren’t the residents of Bismarck told that the pipeline was going through their area whether they liked it or not? Why was it acceptable for Bismarck to reject the pipeline?

The pipeline was re-routed to go through the Standing Rock Reservation. The Sioux rejected it, but their rejection was ignored. They’re taking a nonviolent stand and law enforcement is attempting to drive them off with violence. Why is that acceptable?

Negan is a game show host in a gimp suit

I’m guessing everyone saw last night’s episode of The Walking Dead. We finally got our answer on which one Negan killed, or rather which two.

It was Abraham Negan chose, but after Abraham, he decided to go after Glenn too. So, two popular characters are now gone.

Damn. Glenn had been there since the beginning of the series. Seems like there were a few different times when we thought Glenn was a goner, and yet, somehow he always managed to get through.

Unless Glenn tucked his head into his shirt while Negan was swinging the bat down on him, I’m pretty sure he’s gone this time.

Glenn, the guy who had nine lives. He’ll be missed.

And Abraham, the big dude who’d been onboard the last couple seasons, will also be missed.

Fuck Negan.

W.P. Kinsella

So, I was watching the Tigers get their asses kicked by the Indians, when I looked at Facebook and saw the link Robert J. Sawyer shared.

W.P. Kinsella is gone. Well, that gave me a pause. It’s been about an hour since I got the news and I still feel numb.

Just last year someone from Kinsella’s publisher contacted me and asked if I would be interested in interviewing Kinsella. That was a surprise. Me? Interview W.P. Kinsella? Was I even worthy of such an honor?

I was excited and a little scared. Someone was giving me the opportunity to interview a legend and I kept thinking, “Don’t blow it.” This is W.P. Kinsella we’re talking about. The author of Shoeless Joe, the novel that the movie Field of Dreams is based on.

I suspected one of my writer friends had something to do with putting the guy in touch with me, but it’s also likely that he saw my review of Shoeless Joe and just thought I’d like to interview Kinsella.

Yes, I was interested. The guy gave me Kinsella’s contact information and soon I had the interview set up.

The interview is right here.

I feel that this interview is one of the most important things I’ve done. I tried to come up with questions that he hadn’t been asked before, but I don’t know how well I did in that department. The last question, though, received a powerful answer.

Rest in Peace, Kinsella. Maybe you’ll step out of a cornfield in Iowa and play some baseball with the greatest players of all time.

P.S.
I also reviewed The Essential W. P. Kinsella.

Counting Crows in Blues Traveler’s Run Around Video

Although it’s 3 in the morning and my eyes are pretty heavy, I still got a few beers left and I intend to make use of them before I crash for the night.

What’s the title of this thing all about, yo?

Well, you know, I love Blues Traveler. Remember Woodstock ’94? Yeah, me neither. I wasn’t there, of course. I think it aired live on HBO, but… I didn’t have HBO either. I remember that I really wanted to be at Woodstock ’94. Some of my favorite bands performed, but just like most other people, I didn’t have a ticket and I didn’t really have a way to get there either. It was just a pipe dream.

About a month or two after Woodstock ’94, my brother and I found a VHS tape at, I think, the Walmart in Lapeer. We bought it. It wasn’t the entire festival , but it showed one song from several bands. The third song on that VHS tape was Blues Traveler’s But Anyway.

That was the first time I ever heard Blues Traveler and I was blown away. I loved Bobby Sheehan’s deep basslines and I loved John Popper’s singing and harmonica playing. Since then I couldn’t get enough of Blues Traveler. They quickly became one of my favorite bands.

I saw the Run Around video for the first time on some late night TV show about music videos, when I was still a teenager. Aside from the song being great, one of the things about the video that fascinated me was the guy dancing on the stage.

The way that guy moved, danced, grabbed the microphone and sang, and played the harmonica, I thought that was really neat. If I was twenty years younger and performing Run Around in front of an audience, that’s how I’d want to do it.

So, why am I blogging about this video? That was twenty years ago, man. Who gives a shit, right? Well, my friend Kathy and I were just talking about it a few hours ago. It started with me pointing out that I think the guy dancing on the stage is the singer from Counting Crows.

It’s something that didn’t occur to me until about a year ago. See, I never really got into Counting Crows, although I had heard some of their songs and I “think” I saw them at the DTE Music Theater way back before I could purchase beer legally. I still have the same wallet I had when I was a teenager. Actually, I had this wallet since I was about nine years old. I might have a Counting Crows ticket stub in my wallet somewhere, but I don’t feel like digging through it right now.

I saw this video about a year ago.

I couldn’t help noticing that the singer in the Mr. Jones video was moving exactly like the guy in the Run Around video. And I just thought that was interesting.

When I told Kathy about that and showed her both videos, she decided to do some digging around. She found this article, which was published in the Los Angeles Times back in 1995.

The article says, “The main theme of this video is to make fun of the Counting Crows, something which I applaud. Without actually flashing the name Counting Crows, it pokes fun at this one-hit wonder of a band right down to the bad Van Morrison impression, rhythmless dancing and bar haircut of the lead singer, Adam Duritz.”

I was like, “Huh?” I mean, neat, I wasn’t the only one who noticed the guy in the Run Around video moved like Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz in the Mr. Jones video. But, “make fun of the Counting Crows” and “it pokes fun at this one-hit wonder of a band right down to the bad Van Morrison impression, rhythmless dancing and bar haircut of the lead singer, Adam Duritz”.

Um, really?

I sure as hell didn’t see the Run Around video as making fun of Counting Crows. As far as I’m concerned, the Blues Traveler video is respectful to Counting Crows. It makes Counting Crows look pretty awesome.

Really, you shouldn’t take people who write shit like that seriously. I’ve found time after time that I simply can’t trust people who write negative reviews. I review books and movies all the time, but I don’t write negative reviews. If I really don’t like something I read or watched, I won’t review it. This is because I don’t want to trash someone else’s work. Even if I don’t like the work, someone else might.

I was skeptical about that article from the Los Angeles Times and I decided to do some digging myself. And yep, it turned out that whoever wrote the LA Times article was blowing shit out of his ass, because I found this article on BluesTraveler.net, which contains quotes from an interview with John Popper:

Likewise, the band’s big 1995 hit, “Run-Around”, was sung with Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz’s style on the hit “Mr. Jones” in mind.

“I felt like I was ripping him off on that one, but I don’t think people really make that connection,” he says. “At the same time, though, I’ll hear Sister Hazel and say, ‘God, that guy was thinking of me when he did that.’ ”

“Everybody’s songs can be melded into everyone else’s. I love that tradition of not trying to rip each other off but still musically hear each other. I’ll rip off a Flintstones Chewable Vitamins ad if it’s got a good melody.”

Doesn’t sound like Blues Traveler was making fun of Counting Crows at all. John Popper felt like he was ripping off Counting Crows. I imagine both bands were cool about the whole thing and having fun with it. It’s like how people thought Ronnie Van Zant and Neil Young did not like each other, when in reality they were friends and loved each others’ music.

Okay, it’s 6:15 AM and I just finished my last beer. Good night.

The Internet Lied To Me About Switzerland

Yeah, I really bought into some articles I saw a  few years ago. The articles described Switzerland as a country with a very strong gun culture and a very low crime rate. They had me convinced that just about every home in Switzerland had at least one fully automatic SG 550, that most children learn to use guns at an early age and people are often seen open carrying.

There is much I admire about Switzerland. It seems to be a country governed by commonsense and open-mindedness. One example is the stance the Swiss took during World War II. They held their borders against the Axis and the Allies, refusing to take either side in the war, and yet they welcomed in refugees fleeing the Third Reich.

Being the gun nut that I am, I was kind of excited about Switzerland’s awesome  gun culture. I mentioned it in arguments about America’s gun culture, upholding Switzerland as an example of how more guns in the hands of good, responsible people could mean a lower crime rate.

Well, I recently had the privilege to talk to someone who lives in Switzerland and I found out that what I heard about Switzerland’s gun culture is not entirely true. I’m now under the impression that the articles I read a few years ago were written by right wingers bent on spreading propaganda.

Switzerland does have a gun culture, but it’s not as popular as I had thought. Guns are tightly regulated in Switzerland and permits to own guns are expensive. Some homes might have full- automatic rifles in them, but those are likely the homes of people serving in the Swiss Army, as soldiers are allowed to bring their issued weapons home with them. Switzerland’s lower crime rate probably has more to do with the population not being as large as it is in the United States.

None of this changes how I feel about guns or my belief that guns can and do deter crime. But Switzerland might not be the best example of that theory functioning. While I’m mildly disappointed about that, I enjoy learning about different countries and I still think there’s much to admire about Switzerland.

Why I would rather be a Smurf instead of a Care Bear

This is one of those things that needs to be explained. I’m going to get it out of the way so we can move on to the next thing. There has got to be a million people asking, “Hey, why would Rob rather be a Smurf when he could be a Care Bear?”

I know. Care Bears. They’re cute, cuddly teddy bears. They’re blue, red, yellow, pink, purple. You get a whole rainbow of those little buggers. There’s Bedtime Bear, Cheer Bear, Friend Bear, Funshine Bear, Grumpy Bear, Love-A-Lot Bear and so on. They’re a nice bunch, full of unconditional love for you and me. Who wouldn’t want to be a Care Bear?

Although I like tattoos, I’m really don’t want a huge tattoo of a heart, rainbow, flowers, the moon or rain clouds on my stomach. Some people might be down with that, but it’s not my thing.

Care Bears come from Care-a-Lot. It’s a magical place made of clouds and rainbows. Ooh! In Care-a-Lot, everyone’s happy because Arthur Bear and the Knight Bears are sitting at the round table discussing ways to keep Care-a-Lot sheltered.

All that care and love, it’s overdone. It feels false, unrealistic, not convincing. It’s also lame, boring, even annoying.

Now the Smurfs, man. Little blue dudes with grain sacks on their heads. They live in mushrooms. That where the la-la-la nonsense comes from. ‘Shrooms, man. In order to move into the mushrooms, they had to hollow them out. What do you suppose they did with the insides of the mushrooms?

Think about it. Smurfs are not sheltered cuteness from a Sword in Stone knockoff kingdom. They’re free roaming rodents with a sense of adventure. Smurfs do more than love you to death. They’re clever, sneaky and they do all kinds of fun stuff.

There’s Papa Smurf, the wizened old badass. Papa Smurf knows just about everything. He has the answer to all problems. When Papa Smurf arrives on the scene, you know everyone is saved.

And then there’s Smurfette, Hefty Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Grouchy Smurf (Does every group have a Grouchy or a Grumpy? Did this start with the Seven Dwarves?) Clumsy Smurf, the comic relief. There’s Greedy Smurf, Jokey Smurf, Handy Smurf, Scaredy Smurf, Tracker Smurf, Sloppy Smurf.

The list goes on and on. There’s a Smurf for every talent, personality and character flaw. So, you see, Smurfs are more interesting than Care Bears. That’s why I would rather be a Smurf instead of a Care Bear.

Now everyone knows and we can put this nonsense behind us.

Yes, I have tattoos and I’m afraid of needles

12438981_1195105717186186_3345092446280937646_nMy year started off a bit rough. I had a hernia that was getting worse and needed to be fixed. Went to see my doctor about it and he referred me to a surgeon, who I saw the next day. Two days later I was at the hospital for the operation.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had surgery. I had surgery for another hernia twelve years ago and I’ve had three different surgeries on my eyes when I was a kid. But even so, surgery isn’t something too many people get used to.

I admit, I’m always pretty scared before going into surgery, and I don’t like being poked with needles. That shit hurts. I yowl every time. It doesn’t matter if they’re injecting me with something, drawing my blood or inserting IVs. Those needles are dreadful. I deal with pain and fear by cussing and swearing, which is what I did.

So, I was wheeled into the operation room. I joked with a nurse about being on M*A*S*H, and then I woke up in the recovery room.

Oh, there was pain. That’s the worst part about surgery. Being in terrible pain afterward. But the pain was forgotten when the nurse showed me that there was a catheter hooked up to me and a plastic bag strapped to my leg. I freaked out. Last time I had surgery, there was nothing like that left on me.

I immediately thought something had gone very wrong during the operation and I started asking questions. But the nurses in the recovery room didn’t have the answers. At one point one of the doctors who was part of the operation came in and asked how I was doing. “I’m just freaking out,” was my reply. He did try to explain why there was a catheter in me, but I couldn’t hear him very well.

After they rolled me out of the recovery room and into a more private room, they filled me in on what was going on. The operation went well, but, yes, there was a minor problem. The problem didn’t have much to do with the operation, but they had a catheter in me during the operation. When they were done with the operation, they took the catheter out and I guess there was blood. So, they put the catheter back in to stop the bleeding. At least that’s how I understand it.

That fucking thing was a nightmare. I’m terribly sensitive about things like that. Just looking at it gave me the creeps. I don’t care how many times people told  me it was a plastic tube and not a needle, it felt like a needle.

I spent the first couple days at my mom and dad’s house, mostly staying in the recliner in the living room. The pain from the surgery was constant, but it was the catheter that caused the most discomfort.

On my first morning after the surgery, I woke up around 6 AM screaming in pain. I was feeling constant stabs around the surgery area. Later that day I went back to the hospital because the pain was too much.

The doctor I saw said I should take two of the pain pills every five hours instead of one. That made a difference. The pain was still pretty bad, but two pills every five hours made it more bearable.

I stayed at mom and dad’s for two days. I came home on the third day. I spent most of my time on the couch watching my old DvDs.  Young Guns, Jakob the Liar, The Bourne Identity, Amos & Andrew and so on.

I had the stupid catheter in me for a week. It was horrible, and I said at least twice that the damn thing was going to cause an infection. I hated that thing. Who wouldn’t?

I was terrified when I went in to have the catheter taken out. In the examination room, I explained to the nurse that I was afraid there would be a problem when she took it out, but at the same time I wanted to get that stupid thing out of me as soon as possible.

Before the nurse pulled it out, I asked her if it was going to hurt. She said, “Usually it doesn’t.” While I hoped I would be one of the usual, I really didn’t think I would be. I was reduced to a whimpering mass as the nurse prepared. When she pulled the catheter out, I yelled so loud everyone in the building heard me.

My mom was in the hallway. She told me later that the doctor walked up to her and asked if I was a young guy. She told him, “Yes, he’s 38.” The doctor said, “Young guys are usually more sensitive.” At 38, I don’t really think I qualify as a young guy anymore, but I am sensitive to catheter removals. That was horrible. I hope I never have to live through that again.

When the doctor entered the examination room, I was sitting in the chair hugging myself. He asked how I was doing and I said I was in pain. He checked me out and said everything looked right. The removal went well and there was, thankfully, no blood. I finished up there and left.

The next day I posted this on Facebook: “I’m not feeling well today. I have a headache, I’m dizzy and I sweated all night. And since the surgery, I’ve been dropping things a lot. Last night I dropped and broke a cup my grandma gave me for Christmas. I think it’s the medicine that’s causing all this and I decided not to take it anymore.”

The comments I got suggested that it could be an infection and fever. I agreed. I went to see my doctor a couple hours later. He looked me over for a few minutes, and then sent me to the hospital.

I spent hours lying on a bed in an examination room while they ran tests. Doctors and nurses were in and out. I was taken out for some x-rays, and then brought back. An IV was plugged into my left arm and I had to keep that arm straight.

Because of that, I couldn’t text on my phone anymore. Texting was too difficult to do with one hand and with two hands I had to hold the phone so far away I couldn’t see what I was doing. Before they put the IV in, I’d been passing the time texting with a friend.

The doctor overseeing my case decided it was time to take the tape off the three incision areas on my lower stomach. The tape had been there since I got out of surgery the week before. The doctor instructed while the nurse did the work.

That was extremely painful. I yelled and cussed loudly the whole time. The nurse said it was just tape, but it felt like she was digging needles out of my stomach. I guess it took between five and ten minutes for her to get all the tape off. She apologized for causing me so much pain. I told her, “That’s okay.” I apologized for swearing. She told me, “That’s okay.”

My mom had been outside the room. She came in and asked if I was okay. My response was, “That was bad.” I thought I was bleeding, but the nurse said there was no blood.

After a while, a doctor came in with my test results. He said it was an infection caused by the catheter and I would have to stay the night at the hospital to make sure the infection didn’t get worse. They wheeled my bed out of the examination room, through the maze of corridors and up a couple floors to the room where I would spend the night.

I had a roommate, but I couldn’t see him because there was a curtain between us. I guess his situation was worse than mine and I don’t think he was able to walk. He had quite a few people coming in to visit and they talked a lot. He also conversed with the nurses quite a bit.

11138130_1200845986612159_4553840272060965075_nThe TV was a tiny little thing about a mile away. Most of the time there wasn’t anything worth watching, but I did find basketball games here and there.

That night they wouldn’t let me eat anything solid. Everything they fed me was liquid. Nurses would come in, take my temperature, check my blood pressure and draw blood. Every time they were about to stick a needle in one of my arms, I’d worry that they would damage my tattoos, but they never did put the needles through the tattoos.

12670436_1200838986612859_4230247493135319137_nI slept. The fever was gone the next morning. Breakfast was scrambled eggs and some potato stuff. I found out they were going to let me go after lunch. Lunch was a chicken salad sandwich and soup. It was all right.

A few days later, I had my follow up appointment with the surgeon. Everything checked out. After seeing the surgeon, my doctor wanted to see me.

Well, the reason my doctor wanted to see me was the x-ray I had at the hospital showed there was some scarring in my lungs. He wanted me to go back to the hospital in a week or so and have that checked out. He also wanted the hospital to run a test to make sure the infection from the catheter was gone.

I had those tests over a week ago. I haven’t heard anything since, so I guess all is well. If there was a problem, I would have heard from my doctor.

I’m doing much better. Sometimes there is pain, but it’s not constant and it’s not unbearable. I’ve recovered from this surgery much faster than I recovered from the surgery I had twelve years ago.

All of the doctors and nurses I dealt with during all this were awesome, even the cleaning lady at the hospital was helpful. Wish I knew all their names, but I’m hard of hearing and I missed a lot of what was said to me. The hospital was McLaren Lapeer Region.