Category Archives: Misc

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.

Nazi Germany and Gun Control

I hear it over and over again, things that suggest Hitler had outlawed gun ownership in Nazi Germany and that this is the reason he was able to do the evil things he did. The citizens of Germany were unarmed, so they had no means to stop him. That’s the belief anyway.

It’s not true.

To be fair, there was a time when I thought gun ownership was outlawed in Nazi Germany too, but then I looked into it. I found out that gun laws in Nazi Germany were very lax. Citizens of Germany were encouraged by the government to own guns.  Just about every German citizen was a legal gun owner.

It’s true that the Jewish and other minorities were not allowed to own guns, but they were not considered to be German citizens. Hitler had their citizenships revoked.

In discussions on the subject, some people have said that German citizens who opposed the government were not permitted to own guns. That’s also true, but if you were a German citizen at the time and you expressed disagreement with the government, you were likely to be in trouble anyway.

Remembering Fuzzball

1I woke up this morning thinking about Fuzzball, the cat I had years ago. As the story goes, Fuzzball had been hanging around the woodpile at my mom and dad’s house and probably sleeping under the outdoor woodstove for warmth. It was my mom’s dog, Daisy, who discovered her in the woodpile.

My mom and dad took her in and kept her for a few months. They never had an official name for her, but I called her Fuzzball whenever I’d see her at my mom and dad’s house. When my mom told me they were thinking about getting rid of Fuzzball, I decided to take her.

So, I was thinking about Fuzzball this morning. Remembering how the first night I had her, after I’d turned off all the lights and went to bed, I heard her meowing. I guess she thought I’d left her there alone. I called to her and she stopped meowing at once. She climbed into the bed a minute later, curled up against my leg and stayed there.

I had Fuzzball for a couple years. In September 2009, she got sick and died. She was the first pet I’d had since I moved out of my mom and dad’s house in, I think, February 2001.

I found myself wishing I still had some of the pictures I’d taken of her, and then I remembered Flickr.com. I hadn’t used Flickr in ages, wasn’t even sure it still existed. I checked, it’s still there, and I was relieved that the login and password I entered worked. I have two pages of pictures on Flickr, of different things that I’ll be posting over the next few days. But today is Fuzzball’s day.

These first eight pictures were taken the day I brought her home. She’d been hiding for a while, but eventually she came out, poked around the house and finally settled on the living room chair.

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Okay, that was the first day. The rest of these were taken over the couple years I’d had her.

One of the first things I did was buy her some toys. She immediately attacked the orange mouse.

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And more pictures….

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What do I blog about today?

I recently decided I would get writing into a blog entry every day, to keep up a presence on my website. But I’ve been quiet the last couple days. I guess I ran out of topics. There’s probably another movie I could review and I got two other guns I can review, and I can probably review a book I read a while back. But I don’t really feel like writing a review right now.

How are things going for me? I’ve been quite productive lately. Besides blogging more regularly, I’ve been cleaning up the novel I finished back in March. It’s looking good so far. I’m pretty happy with it. There’s just a lot of the usual typos that need to be corrected, some grammar errors that need to be set straight and just a few things that need to be  rewritten. But otherwise, I like how the story is going.

So far 110 pages out of 394 are cleaned up. All other writing projects are set aside until this novel is ready to send out.

Been deer hunting a bit. Not as much as I’d like to, but a bit. It’s archery season and I’ve been using my crossbow. My dad got a trail camera and put it out by my hunting shack. The  pictures show that several deer have been poking around my shack, including bucks. But they’re usually only there at night or in the morning and I can’t get over to my mom and dad’s house in the morning very often. So, I just hope they start coming around in the afternoon.

Luci, a.k.a. The Best Dog Ever

Photo-0014So, it’s past time I wrote blog entry about my dog, Luci, who is also known as The Best Dog Ever. I’m not kidding, Luci is the best dog ever.

I admit, I lost track of her age. Was she seven when I got her, or was she six? I guess she’s ten or eleven now. I probably got her birth year on a paper somewhere, but it’d take a lot of digging to find it and I’m not ready to do that.

Anyway, my Aunt Rosie was moving to Texas to live with my cousins Irene and Chuckie. Because they already had dogs at the house in Texas, Rosie felt it was best to find Luci a new home. Since I had just moved into this house and have a fenced backyard, Rosie thought I would want Luci.

I did. We’ve had family dogs all my life, but since I moved out of my mom and dad’s house when I was twenty-three I haven’t had a dog before Luci. I think it was December 2011 when Rosie gave Luci to me. So, that would be almost four years ago.

Luci is a very smart dog. She understands commands very well. And if I ask her a yes or no question, sometimes she’ll actually say yes. It’s a sniffing sound, but it sure sounds like yes and I think that is what she’s saying. I don’t know if Aunt Rosie taught her to do that or not, but it’s Luci’s response to yes or no questions so often that I think she probably was taught to do that.

She’s a small dog, but she has a big bark. Whenever anyone sets foot in my yard, Luci’s at the window (or the gate, if she’s outside) going “HALT! WHO GOES THERE? INDENTIFY YOURSELF AT ONCE! I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS TERRITORY! DO NOT UNDERMINE MY AUTHORITY!”

She’s a great watchdog, but she’s also very sweet and loves people. And she’s very loyal. When I’m at my desk at night, Luci’s lying in her bed beside my desk.

But for a small dog, she really sheds. A lot.

Confidence and Lack of It

Sometimes I feel pretty confident. I’m all upbeat, not so shy. Not worrying about much. Feeling great. Not afraid to be funny, not afraid to strike up conversations and I hold my head up high without thinking about it.

I like being that way. But far too often it will fade and I tend to look down a lot, unable to make eye contact with anyone. I just can’t seem to will my head up or to really talk.

Though I feel pretty good today, this issue has been on my mind for a few days now.

For example, recently I was on one of my up-days. I walked into the store on the corner to buy beer. I’ve been going to this store for years. I’ve gotten to know the owner and the owner has gotten to know me. And it was him at the register that day and I struck up a brief conversation as I was paying for my beer. About the scores of the Michigan game. I didn’t actually see the game that day, but I saw some highlights later and it showed that the score was 27-0, but I wasn’t sure if that was the final score or not and I didn’t see or hear what the final score was.

So, I asked the owner what the final score was and he told me it was 38-0. Anyway, the point is, that’s how I am on my up-days. More able to hold my head up, to talk to people, and not be so nervous. I wish I had more days like that, but it’s just not so.

Like a few days later, I’m at the store again and it’s the owner at the register again. But this time, for some reason, I’m all nervous and looking down, unable to will myself to look up and make eye contact, nor do I say much. I want to, but I’m just overwhelmed with anxiety.

There are far too many days like that. I hope I don’t come across as rude when I’m in that state.

Well, that’s just what was on my mind today.

Turkey!

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So, at my mom and dad’s house today, I walked around to the backyard and saw this. I got excited, dug my cellphone from my pocket as quickly as I could, before they noticed me and took off. I took the picture, went back inside to tell my dad, and he tells me they are the turkey decoys he bought.

Sheesh.