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Archive for May, 2010

During my stay in the hospital I shared a room with MR. B. who happened to be the grandfather of one of my brother’s childhood friends.  Despite the difference in our age (about 40 years) we ended up having a great deal of fun.  We were both hospitalized for stomach issues, (although he had a few other things going on at the time) and we would cheer each other on every time one of us would pass gas because that is a sure sign that things were on the mend.  The passing gas that is, the cheering had nothing to do with getting better.

There was a period of two days that we had a burned out light bulb in our bathroom.  Why did it take two days?  That’s exactly what we wanted to know.  Turns out that the nurses were not allowed to change a light bulb so they referred the issue to maintenance who claimed that because it was a regular light bulb and not an incandescent bulb that it was an orderly’s responsibility, of course the orderly’s didn’t think that was correct and would refer it back to maintenance.  Mr. B and I wanted to see how long it would actually take so we were not about to change it ourselves, besides who needs a stinkin’ bathroom when you have a bedpan?  Mr. B’s grandson couldn’t let it go and stole a light bulb from somewhere and put it in our bathroom.  Otherwise I am sure 30 plus years later that bathroom would still be dark.  This is ironic when you understand that it was Mr. B’s grandson who used to steal street signs and decorate his room with them. 

Seeing the opportunity for something to amuse himself Mr. B would throw a ball of tissue on the floor to see how long it would stay there till somebody picked it up.  I couldn’t understand why he would always make sure and throw it directly across from his bed.  To be fair the tissue would only be on the floor a few hours before somebody picked it up, once it took three days because it was a long weekend.  Finally I had to ask:

 “Mr. B. why do you always throw the tissue to that particular spot?”

“Because I like to watch the nurse bend over and pick it up. I’m old, not dead”

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Yes, I have Crohn’s disease, and yes it sucks and some days it really sucks. But that is not what I’m here to talk about.

I vividly remember some key points during my first stay in the hospital due to Crohn’s.  They were kind of funny then and in my mind at least, even more funny now, the following are one or two such moments.  

 I was in the hospital because of a perforated intestine. The surgeon could not justify operating on somebody who was steadily getting better on their own, especially with Crohn’s because it is viewed as a ‘hands off disease’ even though surgery was the common way to go in this particular instance.  But my pain was lessening and I was eating so I vacationed in the hospital for a few weeks while they made sure everything was working the way it should and the broken things were fixing themselves. Finally they let me go home. 

 The next day I was back in the hospital.  I swear I didn’t do anything, but my intestine perforated again.  The surgeon that was supposed to operate was not in that day so I got the fill in guy, Dr Spanier. The first thing I noticed was that he was a large man weighing in at about 350 to 400 pounds.  I was trying to work out exactly how he was going to see me on the table, technically that was his problem, but in my way of thinking I was going to be the result.  He quickly put my mind at ease.

 “Brian, I know this is awkward because we have never met, I am now your surgeon and you will just have to trust me when I tell you that I am the type of person who you can put your life in my hands.  Any questions?”

 “Yes, am I going to survive?”

“Yes, anything else?”

 “Nope”

“Okay my team will be in to introduce themselves.” It turned out that Dr. Spanier was a well known and respected surgeon who not only had his own select team for the OR, I understand hospital type people from around the country vied to be on his team.

Of the team, I remember the anesthesiologist.  He also asked me if I had any questions.

“I can’t do math, I can barely count forward, don’t make me count backwards from 100” (I was a teenager and this was/is a legitimate fear of mine)

“You won’t have to count you will just go to sleep and wake up again in about 6 hours or so”

“What if I have a nightmare?”

“You won’t be dreaming about anything.”  

“Okay”

The surgeon came back in to ask me a favour.

 “Brian” he said, “Your mother is in the hall waiting to see you, and she is very fragile so I need you to be strong.  Let her know everything is going to be fine, the last thing I need is for your mother to pass out and then I have two of you to deal with”

 “No problem”

 A little while later the orderly comes in and asks if I need the bathroom, I didn’t.  “Okay Bri, here we go.”

Naturally, despite the doctors warning the first thing I did when I saw my mother was start crying.  The orderly put on the gas and I was on my way down the hall.  I remember looking up at the lights as they passed by overhead and I thought, this is all so familiar.  We stopped at the big double doors and waited.  I told the orderly I had to pee.  He laughed and told me it was too late, they will take care of everything in the OR.

In the OR everybody was nice and friendly,  they stretch out my arms so I was like Jesus on the cross, I felt them taping things too me, but looking up at the bright light all I could think of was “They have the technology, they can rebuild him” was this how the Six Million Dollar Man felt? 

The anesthesiologist kept telling me things but I was not paying that much attention until I heard the following statement. “Dr. Spanier is just washing up so we can get started.” I remember thinking, no, lets wait for the doctor.

My first vivid memory after the surgery was waking up and seeing my father sitting next to the bed.  (Seeing as I was on a steady diet of Demerol he may clear a few things up in his comments, we will have to see).  I told him that I was a little concerned because every now and again my entire body would jump about a foot off the bed.  Shortly after I had one of those dreams where you catch yourself falling down and I jerked myself awake.  “Is that what you are talking about?”  He asked.  “No, you will know”. Sometime later I had one of my little spasms.  I opened one eye to let my father know, but he was already out of his chair running down the hall calling for a nurse, yeah he knew.

 I also found out that Dr. Spanier’s operating team was not that happy with me as I didn’t think no, lets wait for the doctor, I actually said it.  I make no apologies.

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Friends of ours were having a yard sale in Milsburg so we loaded up the car with junk and headed on out in hopes to further our progress in getting rid of some crap good quality items that we don’t have any further use for.  And then there are the books. My wife manages to read about 2 or 3 books a week, so we always have a stockpile of books looking for a home.

Milesburg is one of those quaint little towns where everybody knows everybody. the church is located next to the gun shop, the houses are old and beautiful, and the volunteer fire department is the focal point of the town.   The annual yard sale is a community event that has more to do with the neighbours getting together then it does about getting rid of items and making money.  The people were very nice and if I had to move into a town,  it would be a town like Milesburg.  And while it was a long day with more physical labour then I’d normally like on a Saturday, we did have fun hanging out with our friends, meeting new people. 

Even though people kept asking me questions like ‘how are youins doin?’ and hearing an abundance of expressions like, ‘gorsh darn it’ we did manage to unload a mess of books and other assorted stuffs. 

I couldn’t help but walk around the town and look at other peoples wares, I was, to say the least, perplexed.  I found, (but did not buy).  One roller skate, broken and dirty toys, puzzles with missing box tops so there was no way to know what the picture was, a checker board without checkers, two basketballs (the inflated one was 2 dollars, broken Christmas decorations, a dog kennel without a door, a cane with the head of a snake in which the eyes lit up, oh and hidden inside the cane was a sword.  What made the sword cane interesting was the woman who purchased it for her 12-year-old boy who was tagging along behind, he also got a set of throwing knives.  Of course mom had a rather large and I’m assuming prison tattoo down her forearm.

There was a blanket on the ground with a bunch of stuffed animals on it.  They were free, many people let their dogs go through the pile and select a toy, it was really cute seeing the pit bull running down the sidewalk with the stuffed flower in its mouth that it had chosen.  The really cute puppy rottweiler had a hard time choosing but eventually settled on the purple bear.  Then there were the kids. I was horrified as parents watched these dogs, rooting around drooling over the toys and then letting their little kids play in the pile of stuffed animals and choose whatever they wanted.  You all know I’m all about animals, but this was a little much.

Both my wife and I had trouble talking to the guy with the black stumps in his mouth that we can only imagine were once teeth.  He was very nice and like us, he was remodeling his bedroom so we had a lot in common and had plenty to talk about.  Of course I couldn’t look at him.  I still see those little rotted black stumps when I close my eyes. 

Then again, who am I to judge?  I kind of wanted the sword cane.

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Growing up we went to amusement parks I never really enjoyed them.  I didn’t hate them I just don’t like the rides, the noise or the crowds. I distinctly remember my father once saying that out of the four of us children I was the cheapest to take to an amusement park.  All I need is a park bench a greasy slice of pizza and I’m happy. 

Many, (way too many) moons ago the family went to Knott’s Berry Farm in California. I remember two things very distinctly, 1) there were no cows.  What kind of farm has no cows?  Not a very good farm, that’s what kind of farm.  The other thing I remember is the flume.  I hate sudden drops, I don’t like get splashed and I’m not a freak for speed.  Why on earth would I go on a flume?  I get the distinct impression that the choice was not entirely mine.  The memories of being in the log, moving slowly up the tall hill are very vivid.  I remember knowing that we were soon going to be going down…very quickly.  I remember, off to the side just as we were about to crest over the top there was a stop sign.  I don’t know why it was there, but if you ask me stopping would have been a lovely idea but did we?  Nooooo.  Just beyond the stop sign there was a little booth, inside the booth was a lady sitting at some sort of controls.  I remember wanting to get off the ride and I remember they wouldn’t let me.  In fact the lady just waved as we plummeted to my death.  Okay maybe I didn’t die, but the possibility certainly existed.

I have quite a few such memories as we went to many parks,  but nothing compares to the cars at LaRonde, an amusement park in Montreal.  I’m talking about the little kid racing cars, and I was indeed a little kid and my little car was broken!  I know there are some people who will insist that it wasn’t broken but ask those people the following questions;  were they in the car?  Do they know anything about kid racing cars in amusement parks?  The answer to both is ‘no’.  Therefore the only person qualified to know if the car was broken is me because I was the only one in the car and I was the one driving the car.  The car only went to the right and it went in that direction until it wound up against the curb and could no longer move.  The guy in charge of the little cars tried to make it right by turning the steering wheel and pointing the car back on the track.  However the minute I hit the gas pedal the car would turn and end up nose first against the curb.  Why did do this?  Because it was broken.

When I was a little older I wound up on Space Mountain in Disney World, I knew it couldn’t go that high (as it is indoors) so there was no big drop involved, but I was worried about it going upside down. Just before we got on the ride and we could still change our minds my mother asked the attendant if the ride goes upside down.  He promised that we would not go upside down.  So we got in, the safety bar came down over our laps, the car had just started to move when the attendant called out to us.  “But it does go underwater” F’ing asshole.

It is not always the thrill rides.  There was the time, also at LaRonde, with my big sister and my friend Richard. Rich and I were hopelessly lost in the maze of glass.  The walls were all glass so you keep walking into the stupid walls not knowing where the real openings were.  Rich saw my sister on the outside and she decided to take pity on Richard and direct him through the maze.  She wiggled her finger indicating that he should walk forward.  Suddenly there was a loud bang and the entire building shook Richard, not knowing how devious my family can be trusted my sister completely and walked straight and hard into the glass wall.  Better him then me, but I’m smart enough not to put that kind of faith in family.  To this day I’m not sure how Rich escaped without a broken nose.

Then there was the runaway train.  I was terrified the entire time, holding my breath waiting for the sudden drop.  Then I saw the station coming up, the train slowed down to a stop.  I breathed a sigh of relief as the attendants stepped forward.  But it was a ruse, we had been tricked.  It really wasn’t the station, it was a mock station.  Suddenly the attendants were laughing as they stepped back, the train started moving faster, then the screaming as were suddenly  plunging straight down into the endless darkness. F’ing assholes.

After reading this one question stands out.  Why do I put myself in these situations?

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The Waffle Shop is a very trendy breakfast/lunch restaurant here in State College. The food is always good and there is always a line to get inside. My wife and I decided to take Friday off work and thought what the heck, let’s go to the Waffle Shop after all the french fries are to die for. Due to the lines to get in and the noisy atmosphere the last time we dinned there was about a year ago.

As predicted, there was a line but it wasn’t too long. The first change we noticed was that they had installed a large flat screen TV over the cash so those waiting in line would have something to watch. Naturally the only thing that was showing on the TV was one long commercial for the Waffle Shop. I thought this odd seeing as we have never seen the commercial on TV and we were already in the restaurant, so what exactly was the point?

So we waited, and watched the annoying loop of the smiling chef flippin’ eggs, but really it was okay, we had fun watching the people. Finally the hostess who was standing about halfway into the restaurant pointed at us and then pointed to a table, ah yes, nothing in the world beats that personalized level of service. The table was set for one and I figured they are busy I’m sure they will get me flatware and some napkins, not a problem. We ordered our food and waited. I started to get a little annoyed as they seated us next to a wall that was about waist-high, it was more like a solid partition. There was not enough room for a person to pass by the back of my chair and the wall yet both wait staff and patrons alike managed to do just that and the wall was unforgiving. I can’t tell you how many time the back of my chair was bumped. Of course the way the tables were scattered there was no alternative route to the back of the restaurant, the kitchen and the front of the restaurant I must say it was an absolutely brilliant design.

When our food came the first thing that was apparent was the change in french fries. No longer did they serve steak fries now they serve wimpy little fries, to the credit of our waitress she did go to the kitchen to check if anything could be done and of course nothing could be done. She asked us if there was anything else she could get for us. Seeing as I don’t enjoy eating coleslaw with my fingers I asked for some flatware. I do enjoy a good fork now and again.

The Philly Cheese steak I ordered was a far cry from a PHILLY cheese steak but non the less it was very good. The hoagie that my wife ordered was also very good, except for the fries I really have no complaints against the food.

Too add to our dining experience a large party needed to be seated in an already crowded restaurant, but where do you seat a large group of people in an already crowded restaurant? No problem, not for the able staff at the Waffle Shop. One manager and a waitress lifted the empty table that was on our left and proceeded to lift it OVER OUR HEADS to the point where I had to duck so I didn’t get hit in the head by one of the steel legs, Lucky for me I was forced to duck as now I was able to cover my food with my head and shoulders to protect my food from anything that might fall from the underside of the table that was being transported OVER my head while we ate!

Trying to keep on a positive note I figured, “hey, at least I have the next topic for my blog” So you know what Waffle Shop? You can keep your fancy flat screen TV set, your lines, your pay by cash or check only, you can even keep your trendy preppy patrons and your crappy wimpy assed french fries. As for me? I’m going back to Denny’s where they don’t lift tables over your head while you eat.

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Hunting for candy where we usually have it hidden

Thanks to everyone who has donated money to the Clearfield County SPCA in care of Sequoia.  Because of you Sequoia is the 4th highest online earner (you can click on the article beneath Sequoia’s picture to see the standings when you go to the above link). Those that are raising money also have a can with the dogs picture on it in different places around town.  We have a can at Wiscoy who is sponsoring the event. And we have another at my work.  And our friend Jesse had one can at AccuWeather for a while.  We have no way of knowing how the others are doing with their cans but we are about $20.00. which brings us to about $210.00.  I am hoping we can move up on the online portion.  The animals can really use your help, it really is a good thing and time is running out to get Sequoia on a calendar so give now, point your friends to the link.  Remember every dollar helps those we have for whatever reason left behind and they are our responsibility.  My wife and I thank You, the SPCA thanks you, Sequoia thanks you and most importantly the animals that you help thank you.

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For me, one of the difficutlies in writing is putting some of the random thoughts that run through my head onto the page.  The thoughts are significant but they often don’t go anywhere, no real rhyme or reason they are just there and I think about them and I believe they have a place in my blog. I’m just not always sure why.  Lately I’ve been thinking; do I have to explain them?  Does there have to be some sort of point?  Am I free to hop on my soap box and just post random posts for the heck of it?   Darn right I do, it is my blog dammit so I can pretty much do as I wish.   I will continue to try to keep my three simple rules in place.  I will not discuss work, I will try not rant, (or obviously rant).  And I will try to post at least twice a week.

I was watching Bones the other day and one of the characters mentioned that they don’t like magic. I can certainly understand not liking the way certain magicians present magic, but not too like magic?  It is unfortunate that there are a whole lot of magicians who perform simply to fool, to say look what I can do and you can’t.  A really good magician doesn’t try to fool you, a really good magician tries to create that ‘sense of wonder’ for you. I put the blame of somebody not liking magic squarely on the shoulders of those magi who simply go out and perform without really understanding what it is all about.  Those are tricksters not magicians.  Magicians are (for the most part) wonderful, amazingly talented people who live to entertain thier audiences.

It is (to me) odd that people are ready to dismiss magic because of a bad magician yet still like music even after listening to a particularly horrible singer. I suppose that is because a singer never tried to make a fool out of you when a magician has.  Actually I can think of a bunch of reasons and again it is on the shoulders of bad performers or those pesky tricksters who insist on ruining the magic for everyone.

Paul Daniels a famous British magician had a routine where he had two solid steel rings that link and unlink.  He had a little girl come up on the stage and explained how the effect worked, he explained that all you need is a bit of confidence.  He had the little girl try to unlink the linked rings, of course she couldn’t.  Then he gave the little girl an invisible confidence pill and had the girl try again.  This time of course the rings just melted apart.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on the little girls face.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when he was finished.  Mr. Daniels created magic. 

David Copperfield performed an effect where he told the story of how when he was a little boy he always wanted to see snow.  Slowly it began to snow as the snow got thicker he started to spin in slow circles .  Pretty soon the whole theatre was in the midst of a small blizzard of snow and through it all David continued to slowly spin.  Somehow in mid spin, in front of our eyes David turned into a young David Copperfield.  Right where he was standing there was a little boy with his arms out looking up slowly spinning trying to catch the flakes on his tongue.  I was watching the audience.  I had to smile, David brought everyone back to their childhood if just for a moment.  I still smile every time I think about that particular effect.  David created magic.  

Can you think of a bigger star than Harry Houdini?  He has been dead 84 years now yet I’m hard pressed to find anybody who doesn’t know who he was.  Can you think of a world wide superstar before Harry Houdini?  I’ll save you some time, no you have not.  There wasn’t one.  Did you know Houdini was one of the first 15 people to fly a plane?  He was the first to fly in Australia.  Because of his passion, because of his fame he helped bring air travel, (for good or bad) to the attention of the masses and made it possible, (again good or bad) in a sense for us to live the lives we enjoy today.

The next time you come to the conclusion that you don’t like magic try to figure out why, then drop me a line I’d be interested to know why.  And the next time you are watching a movie think about the special effects and don’t forget to thank a magician for making it possible.

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