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Monday, December 19, 2011

A 2011 Retrospective

Google did a badass year in review that tugs at all the right heartstrings and made me realize how much happened this year while I was laid up on a couch and totally drugged out of my mind. If you didn't see it, here it is.





Now we're all going to take a completely self indulgent trip through my 2011 where I put the most significant events of my year in a list.

1. Leg break, ligaments torn, hamstring shot, painkillers - This really is the no brainer. It single handedly derailed four and a half months of my 2011. I'm only now getting to the point of "normal" physically, but the financial strain of this injury will be felt for most of 2012.

This has once again highlighted that Sallie and I will survive whatever is thrown at us, and we're had more thrown at us than tomatos are thrown at the La Tomatina Festival.


2. Blues winning - As superficial as this sounds, I want you to step back for a moment, think about your sports team. You probably like the Cardinals, or maybe the Mizzou Tigers, or a team that hasn't been rebuilding itself for 6 years thanks to the complete abandonment by the ownership.

The Blues have been losing for years now and to finally see them start winning and get the respect of the media (they were on the main page of STLToday.com today) makes life seem so much better.

3. Skyrim launches - This one none of you probably care about. It's pretty much the best videogame franchise ever. In total, I've probably sunk a good 350 hours into this franchise and the new game was by far the best.

4. The Occupy Movements - Whether you agree with the movements, don't agree, or don't exactly know what their purpose is, they were very much a large part of everyone's lives this year. With the European economy collapsing, the American economy plateauing at a much weaker level, and the Chinese smiling as pretty much everyone except them falls apart, its obvious something needs to be done about the current financial state the world is in, and more than anything, this is what this protest will probably be known for 50 years from now.

5. Osama Bin Laden and Gaddafi are assassinated/Kim Jong Il dies - It's one of those awkward and rare events when someone that has been an enemy of your state for so long dies. On one hand, you feel happy because the monster is dead. But there's also that pit in the back of your mind that worries about the power struggle to replace them. Who takes over? Will they be more aggressive? Most of these deaths are too fresh to really tell, but 2012 will provide some insight on the future of these people's followers.

6. Going to Britain - Although Britain and America are very similar, it's still an incredible learning experience going to another country. What I've learned is, we're all human. No matter where you are, your politicians are lying scumbags, you were the heroes in World War II, and everyone likes a good beer.

7.Sweet Chili Sauce - I'd never had this delicious Asian sauce before and we actually discovered it only a few months ago when making a recipe that called for it. It goes on everything now. Sweet Chili Sauce is the new honey mustard, which used to be the new ketchup. We just got a recipe to make this delicious sauce, and if it turns out, I will be filling bathtubs with it and washing myself in its gooey awesomeness.

I'm sure I missed some stuff. I'm having a hard time even remembering the first part of this year because everything has been so injury focused. Here's to 2012, a year of hope, of debts paid, and depending on which cult you talk to, the possible end of the world.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Injury Update

Went to the doctor today and it was mixed news.

So I have to wear this stupid leg brace for another two months since I don't have enough muscle to protect me if I were to trip. So that sucks.

I will also continue going to therapy well into next year much to the dismay of both Sallie and I. It's not that I don't notice how much its helping, its just after 3 months of going multiple times a week, you start feeling like you don't get any down time. On days I have therapy, I literally have only 30 minutes between when I get out of the shower and when I start working.

The good news is my ligament has re-attached and is healing. So I won't need a third surgery.

The doctor says I should be walking normal by February and I'll be able to ice skate by next winter. So even though I miss out on my favorite activities this winter, at least I know I'll be better by next.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Am Me Because I Was 8

The longer I stay married to Sallie, the more I realize how much our childhood shapes who we turn out to be.

For instance, even when its 5 degrees outside, the wind is howling, and Sallie is freezing her poor circulatory butt off, she still needs a fan to sleep. Even if I'm so cold, I'm shaking the bed from my teeth chattering and I can't sleep, that fan has to be running. It's such a necessity that she brings fans on vacation with her.

I've been told I can thank Papa Hickle for that one.

Or because Matt trapped Sallie under a sleeping bag and wouldn't get off of her when they were young, Sallie can't stand the feeling of being restrained.

My family was always big on tucking the corners of the sheets into the bed, but the first time I made the bed when Sallie and I were married, she pulled those blankets out so quickly I questioned if I ever made it in the first place.

Or me with milk. Thanks to my mom, I can't drink milk unless its 2% and from my fridge. Logically, I know that my milk was right alongside all the other cartons of milk in the grocery store, but if I go to your house and you offer me a glass, I will not drink it. I can't even think about drinking milk from a restaurant without the ole' gag reflex starting up.

Then there's things that I never did as a kid, but find myself doing now. My dad was legendary for screaming "GOAAAAAAAAAALLLLL!!!" and rattling the windows in the house whenever the Blues scored.

I loved the Blues as a kid, but never picked up that tradition. Then I stopped following the Blues throughout highschool. You know, something my father loves, I gotta rebel because parents just don't understand me, and I hate them, and I'm running away from home. I was also busy quite unsuccessfully chasing women.

Then college came, and I got a bit busy with school and work and only slightly more successful at chasing women. So there was no time for hockey.

Started watching it again when we moved back to St. Louis a few years ago. And knee jerk reaction, and much to Sallie's dismay, I find myself screaming whenever the Blues score. It's not always "GOOAAAAALLL!!!!" like my father. Sometimes for particularly impressive goals like the one below, I tend to blurt out, "oh, SHIT!" Emphasis on the curse word. This drives Sallie nuts. She always thinks I hurt myself.





And then there's the picky eating. My dad is a meat and potatoes sort of guy, so our meals were pretty standardized as children. I could pretty accurately fill out a months calendar with what we were probably going to eat. Because of this, Nick won't touch anything green and not on a pizza. (I've heard he's gotten better.)

I'm a pretty open guy when it comes to trying new things. I eat Sushi and Indian food. I've had octopus and alligator before. I'm completely open to trying pretty well anything, I just might not like it.

Sallie gets angry at me sometimes because I will say, "I don't really care what we eat tonight, pick something." As she starts rattling off things she wants to eat, I check with my appetite to see if that would please me, and when it doesn't, she flips out saying I'm picky.

To me, I'm not being picky. I just wasn't inspired to make my own decision. I guess instead of saying, "I don't really care what we eat tonight." I should say, "Start saying food and I'll process that through the appetite filter, and see if its something I would enjoy."

Anyway, point is, I've realized how much our childhoods influence who we are. Don't know why I only now noticed it, but its become very apparent to me the past two weeks.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wedding Day

The night before the wedding, Rob sequestered himself to his own room to finish writing his speech and I found myself sitting around sipping fine Scotch with three Brits discussing mountaineering and walking the foot hills in Britain. I felt proper British that night. By the end of the conversation I felt I should've been saying phrases like Poppycock and Govnor.

The wedding went really well. It took place at an old Victorian Schoolhouse that's been converted into a hotel.

The rooms were like palaces. The Windows were 25 feet high and had giant red curtains covering them. The rooms had two floors to them, with the bathroom containing a giant bathtub, shower, and toilet upstairs on the balcony.

I was able to get around fairly well for wearing dress shows the entire time. Sallie and I weren't given the clearest of directions and almost walked past the wedding.

The register that did the ceremony had a fantastic script to read from. I don't know if it was his proper British accent, but it felt really intimate, was beautiful, and the right amount of sentimental.

This took place on the roof of the building. The moment that Lacy started saying her vows, the wind kicked up and the Christmas tree outside the doors came crashing down and all the doors busted wide open. Seemed to be the most perfect way for Lacy to form this union.

Lacy, Rob, Rob's father David, and Rob's brother/best man Richard all gave some fantastic speeches. Some of the best I've heard in a wedding. This also opened up the floor for me to re-tell Cory's epic speech from my wedding to the Brits which is always a great ice breaker.

Today my voice is just about gone. The Brits were in love with my sexy American accent and I often found myself surrounded by them, wanting to discuss politics and World War II. For a solid 5 hour period I was engaged in heavy conversation where most of us agreed, Bush and Tony Blair were sort of diabolical idiots, Churchhill and FDR were probably the greatest politicians in the past century, and depending on who's telling the story, both the Brits and Americans got their asses saved by the other country in various wars.

The night ended for most by 2 am, although there were rumblings of people partying later and someone over heard "butt naked" and "hot tub" this morning.

We're sitting the flat right now. Most people trying to recover. There are no less than 4 sleeping, snoring giants as I look around the room. The only survivors are me, Helen, Chris (Helen's BF), and I think Rob and Lacy might be in a back room counting their loot from last night.

I've had a fantastic time and want to come back and see more of England and possibly hit up Ireland, Scotland, and France. I'm ready to be back in the states and am mentally preparing for waking up at 1 am US time, fly for 9 hours, have a 4 hour lay over in Chicago, fly for another hour, and then take the Metrolink and car ride for the last 40 minutes. Our strategy is to chug Red Bull, try to keep busy by cleaning and preparing for Christmas decorations, and try to stay awake until at least 9 pm tomorrow night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day Out

I wasn't sure how much time we were going to have to get out in Manchester since we are helping plan a wedding all week, but yesterday we were able to get out.

Around 1 pm, Rob, Pershing, Rob's father, and I went to the Imprerial War Museum where we basically got to see every killing machine man has come up with in the past 100 years. It was sobering, disturbing, and interesting. I went with intentions of taking pictures, but after the first two, the museum just sort of had that feeling of sober respect where you don't make a lot of noise and you just sort of stare and wonder how man is capable of such violent engineering marvels.

We then went out for Indian food because Sallie has always sworn that its very good but everytime we've tried to go out for good Indian food in America, it turns out to be a buffet and just alright at best.

Britain has a large Indian population, so I've been told the food here is fairly authentic and delicious and that seems to be a fair assesment. I couldn't stop eating.

It was then time for us to go to a real British pub to have some British beers. This was the part of the trip I was most excited for.

We show up to a place that merely says "Pub" on the window. It's brick and besides some renovations to the actual bar area, the building looks at least 100 years old. A train would roll over us every now and than and drown out our voices. I swear it felt like a scene in a movie.

We of course had the movie scene, pre-wedding, "Are you nervous?" talk as we sipped down a few pints and finished our time in the pub with a very smooth Scotch.

It was then a race for time. We had to get to a grocery store that was still selling beer so that our night could continue. We passed various drunken Brits running the gammit of every stereotype I've seen. There was the Sex Pistol's looking punk, the white trash Brit with the thick cockney accent, and the overly drunk Brit screaming things like, "Oi, I'm right pissed."

It was a good night.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What the hell day is it?

We've made it. We're in Britain.

The plane was much smaller than we all expected, so I couldnt stretch out as much as I had hoped. The airplane food wasn't the worst, we did have kids all around us, but they were only weepy for the first and last hour, and I didn't sleep for more than 2 hours, but it was fairly smooth.

There are things that are obvious much different and messing me up. For instance, if you noticed above, I didn't have an apostrophe in "couldn't." That's because I couldn't find the damn apostrophe on this keyboard. Enter, pound, dollar, quotes, all of these symbols are in completely different places and its messing me up, but I digress.

The time change really messed me up, specially when I wake up. There's a brief moment of panic when your body thinks it 3 am, the clock is telling you 9 am, and you're on the floor in a strange apartment. I was trying to find out how the Blues did on Saturday night, but I couldn't figure out if I should ask them to check the score from yesterday or tomorrow.

Riding as a passenger on the left side of the car, winding through narrow roads, and making crazy right turns made the trip from the airport feel like a videogame. It felt like we were going much faster. Doesn't help that I couldn't do the quick math from KM to Miles. So I actually didn't know how fast we were going. I saw 50 KM, and even though I know its not a straight conversion, my brain thinks we're doing 50mph on these suburban roads.

We did a little walking yesterday, if for no other reason than for me and Sallie to stay awake. We wanted to stay awake until at least 8pm local time to sort of get over jet lag immediately. There were definitely some castle looking buildings and English row houses like you see on television, but it seems this modern architecture is dominating new buildings where you sort of stack floors like uneven blocks, so it appears that there's nothing supporting the floor above because it looks like its hanging off.

We haven't done anything touristy yet, but I do have a pocket full on Monopoly money and we'll be going to the War Museum shortly.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One of those days where life gets away from you...

It's really been most the week. Things that are completely out our control that keep screwing us.

There was the whole debacle with the sewer district, who wanted us to pay phantom bills we haven't been receiving for 16 months.

Then, physical therapy this week was all messed up because my normal therapist was gone and they had some company meeting on Thursday. So I missed my appointment this morning cause I didn't think I had it until later this week.

Then, we were missing some bills that we never saw. These were for new accounts, so it was one of those things where we thought, maybe they just haven't gotten here yet. Turns out, they never got to us in the first place.

So it was one of those days where I just wanted to take my life back.

I had a few missions:

1. Hard drive errors on my home PC, fix that.
2. The wire mess under my computer desk.
3. Checks that we ordered and never opened 2 months ago disappeared.
4. Our downstairs closet is a complete mess and I haven't been able to step into it in 3 months.

So I tore it apart today.

I took my computer apart, cleaned everything with compressed air and a microfiber cloth. Reconnected all the wires inside all snug like. While I was doing that, I cleaned up the wires under the desk. Booted up, so far, no hard drive errors, and its clean.

On my lunch break, I thought maybe the checks could be hidden in our messy closet. So I went down there, put everything in a nice place, hung all my jackets, and set all of the shoes in nice piles. Didn't find the checks though.

So I was sitting in the office, just thinking about where these stupid checks could be. That was the only mission that was going to make me feel good about today. I turn in the chair and notice a giant tote bag with a ton of envelopes and papers in it. I never noticed this before, so I grab the bag, and low and behold stuffed into the side of it was the checks.

And that is how you take you life back...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

10 Week Update

Went to the doctor this morning. Says I look pretty well healed. Was impressed with how much I could bend my leg.

Million dollar question: Can I walk yet?

Sort of. I have to keep my brace on and locked straight when I'm doing it.

So not only is it super awkward to try and walk after 10 weeks of not walking, but I'm doing it like a freaking 16th century pirate with a peg leg.

So my goal is to practice walking as much as possible over the next two weeks before I go to England because I would really love not to bring crutches with me over seas.

In 4 weeks, I can unlock the brace and start walking with bending my leg. Then when I see the doctor again on December 15th, hopefully he will tell me to ditch the brace and embrace being human again.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Christmas List

I know, I know, I'm old and it's not even November yet, but I have been asked for a Christmas list from several people and this is the easiest way to do it. I love Christmas gifts!

Vinyl Records
-David Bowie - Hunky Dory

Books (Kindle versions can be sent as gifts to my email: djs9pd@gmail.com)

Comic books

Blu-rays

Brewing

Video games

Gift Cards
Steam
Slackers



Oh the crazies you see at physical therapy.

Even though I hate waking up to go to physical therapy, it has been helping.

It's something that I get that immediate, physical evidence that I'm progressing. Everyday I go, I'm breaking another personal best. The first week, I went from being able to bend 70 degrees to this week, where I hit 108 degrees. I was at +4 degrees as far as straightening, I'm now able to get to 0 degrees. Only was able to do a half crank on the bike before, today I was able to do full rotations.

I go to the doctor on Thursday and I'm hoping he tells me I can start walking.

The entertaining part of physical therapy is the other people that go to it, cause they are crazy.

1. Gangster - A few times, there's this straight up prison gangster that wears like an Oakland Raiders jersey and baggy jeans to come to therapy. He did something to his back, so they have him doing a lot of arms. If the therapist says, let's do 5 lbs, he grabs the 10 pounder. He works out like he's in a prison yard.

2. The starer - It's hard not to start staring at something when you're doing repetitive exercises, but I found this creepster sitting directly across from me, his eyes met mine. He stared at me for a good 10 minutes while he rolled stress balls in his hands like some sort of Bond villain.

3. The Hipster - This guy is wearing his thick Weezer glasses, red blue jeans that are three sizes too small, and chucks on his feet. He's the skinniest guy in the world and they had him doing push-ups. I've never seen a hipster workout before.

4. The Gruff Old Man - Today, there was one of those old men that hates the world. The guy that yells at you for hitting your baseball in his yard. He spent the entire hour we were near each other complaining about how sensitive he is, telling the therapists what exercises he should be doing, and how everything causes cancer. The stretches I was doing... spread cancer. The stimulation machine... spread cancer. The lights in the building... create cancer. The therapist gave up trying to contradict the guy after about 15 minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quick Update

I haven't had an update in a few weeks. There really hasn't been much to report.

I'm going to physical therapy now. I've definitely noticed an improvement in strength in my leg. It feels natural to stand on it again. So progress!

There have been a few times where my leg gets bent just a little too much and I get shooting pains. They've also started that electrocuting thing. You know the ab device that promises you six pack abs while you sit on the couch? That, except the medical version. The setting they put is on is called "Russian" and feels exactly how I would think a Russian electrocuted me with a car battery and dirty puddle of water would feel. Not pleasant.

Right now I'm going twice a week for about an hour to an hour and a half everyday. Eventually the physical therapist wants me to start going three days a week for two hours at a time. I just don't know how I'm going to be able to do that. I won't have a ride. Feel like its a little excessive.

I'm getting around pretty well. My upper body strength is getting insane. I'm probably stronger than I have been in a long time.

Other than that, there's not much going on. I'm working and hanging out, that's about it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blues!


So went for my first all day outing on Saturday.

The Blues gave us free tickets to fan fest against the Dallas Stars. It was just a pre-season game, nothing really on the line, but they were doing other activities like player meet and greets beforehand.

Sallie and I got there at about 9:30 am and wandered around the True Blue store for a while until autographs started.

We didn't really buy much, but we did buy a blue Blues bandanna to get signed. It was only $9 and we figured it would look great on our wall.

So autographs started and we just sort of jumped in whichever line was nearest on account of me having to crutch around.

The first table was my favorite. It was the two Russians, Nikita Nikitin and Evgeny Grachev. They barely speak English and were just smiling and pleasant and signing anything anyone gave to them.

We also met:
Matt D'Agostini
Jonathan Cheechoo
Brett Sterling
Adam Cracknell
Ryan Reeves
Phil McRae (Who was the only one that asked about my leg. What a nice guy)

Unfortunately most of the players play for the minor league team. TJ Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk, Vladimir Sobotka, and Bernie Federko were the big names but I didn't get to any of them until the lines were being cut off. It also sucked because Blues player was using a blue pen to sign. So basically, 50% of everything people wanted signed, this marker wouldn't show up on.

The game itself was pretty awful. This was the last day of the preseason, so they had to make roster cuts, which means most of the minor league affiliate was playing. We got stomped. The game was sloppy. But at least I got out.

We went and got Greek food afterwards and when we finally got home, my arms were shaking from how much I used them.

My foot and knee were incredibly swollen that night. I've been elevating and putting ice on them since. They're still a bit swollen, but much less so now.

This week, we have a Wilco concert at the Peabody Opera House on Tuesday, my first physical therapy meeting on Thursday, and the Blues home opener on Saturday. Going to be a busy week.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Recovery Day 42

Just got back from the doctor.

Saw my X-rays for the first time since this happened. I basically have a titanium cage holding my bones. Looks pretty rad.

Doc says I'm healing great. Wants me to start having someone bend my knee to 90 degrees. Wants me to start going to physical therapy. He said I can also start putting 50% weight on my foot.

And the most important thing, he's 95% sure that I'll be able to go to England! If not, he says a doctors note will get me a full refund on my plane ticket. WOOT!

He's also been using me as a strange case in his classes. I'm like one of those patients on House where they have to figure out how the hell I did this to myself.

So great news all around.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Recovery Day 40

Days like today make me almost regret having the windows open. I can see the sunlight, feel the perfect temperature and hear the birds chirping. I just want to go outside. These past few weeks have really made me realize how much prime time we spend locked in concrete fortresses. How many of these perfect days have I already missed because I was in school or at work?

I'm going into my sixth week since surgery (tomorrow) which means best case scenario, I'll be able to start putting weight on my foot in two weeks.

There haven't really been any huge breakthroughs in the past week and a half which is why there has been a lack of updates.

My upper body strength is as good as it was when I left highschool. Even Sallie is impressed. I've made sure to work out every other day to keep my endurance up and that's usually when I do my physical therapy.

It's still frustrating not to be able to get to things quickly. We've had packages delivered, the phone ringing, or strange noises coming from the cats and all I can do is sit where I am and hope that it wasn't important.

I've had improvement in mobility. Last weekend I was able to help Sallie with a few chores around the house. I was able to 80% cook dinner last night. I can get up and down the stairs (round trip) in less than three minutes now. So, I'm almost human.

I go to the doctor on Thursday for an update. He's going to take X-rays and see how I'm healing. I should find out when I can start putting weight on it, whether I need another surgery, and if I can go to England in November.

Worst case scenario, he says he doesn't like what he sees, I have to get that last surgery, and I'm stuck in this brace for another six weeks.

Best case scenario, he says I've healed so well that I actually have superhuman strength in my right leg and Manchester United is offering me a multi-million dollar contract for my services.

Update to come Thursday


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Recovery Day 31 Another Field Trip

I slept like garbage last night. Probably one of the worst nights of sleep I got since I came off the pain killers. I just felt really stiff and the brace felt like it was digging into my leg. I just couldn't get comfortable. Ended up moving downstairs after an hour so I wouldn't wake Sallie. Maybe got four hours last night.

So right now I'm pretty tired. I'm waiting for Sallie to get back from her run so she can make me a huge pot of black coffee.

We met with some friends at a local Mexican restaurant. Today, we decided to test crutches out. I've not been told by the doctor I can use them yet, but I felt that it would be easier to get around. It definitely was.

I was able to get up and down the stairs, we went to Office Max without issue, and then to Mexican. I don't think I'll be able to use crutches for everything, but it's nice to know I have the option.

We got a statement from the insurance company. All in all, total amount for surgery and hospital stay was damn near $150,000. That's more than my house is worth. We don't know what I owe yet, but I do know its not $150,000.

My favorite is there's a miscellaneous services charge that's something like $80,000. I'd like to know what is included on there.

This is my last day of disability. Tomorrow I start working again. I'm still not sure how its going to work. I'm still not sleeping and still feel like I need a nap just about everyday. I don't know what its going to be like when I'm using energy talking to people. To counter this issue, I've ordered a case of 5 Hour Energy drinks off of Amazon.

So hopefully, I can stay awake on my own the first three hours of the day, and then pop one of those bad boys to get me through the rest.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Recovery Day 29

I finally hit one month after surgery. Best case scenario I can start putting weight on my leg in one month, worse case, two. The idea of another surgery is further and further from my mind now that I can actually see results.

I'm still not sleeping more than 3-4 hours at a time. Still waking up incredibly stiff. As long as I have this brace on, I think that's just how its going to be. I'm ordering a case of 5 Hour Energy drinks for when I do go back to work next week. There's no way I'll make it through a whole workday without.

That's another scary prospect. I haven't quite thought of anything that I can prop my leg up on from my computer chair. That's what part of this weekend is going to be spent doing. Trying to figure out the office set up for me. I decided that I will just work upstairs since I know I can get up and down the stairs if need be. I still plan on trying to make my travel up and down a minimal as possible. Going to stock the room with canned fruit, energy drinks, and other snacks.

The cats are driving me nuts. Crash and Newbie keep dropping awful poops that stink up the entire house. Newbie and Slider are constantly chasing each other around the house, making noise, tearing things up. And they both like to use my bad knee as a bridge to get across my body. I usually can catch them, but I've been caught off guard a few times when I'm sleeping and all of a sudden I feel 6 lbs followed by 13 lbs on my knee and I've kicked a cat across the room in response.

My leg is starting to feel more and more like a real leg. I have to remind myself often that I can't put weight on that leg.

Now I'm straining some of my good body parts. My knee, my shoulder, and my good foot are all feeling really strained. I'm having to over compensate obviously and its just wearing me out. I'm now wearing a knee brace on my good knee. It matches the brace on my bad leg.

Next week I go back to work. The week after that I'm back at the doctor to find out how I'm healing and when I can start using crutches. The week after that I have to start going to physical therapy and I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to get there two days a week without falling asleep as I work.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

10 years ago, a monumental event shook America. It's the "Where were you when..." event of my generation. Still it makes me uneasy thinking that something not only that terrible could happen, but on United States soil.

I was in high-school when it happened. I remember after first hour, on my way to second hour, a buddy of mine, Bobby, came up to me in the hall and told me he heard an Apache helicopter had shot missiles into the Empire State Building.

There was an uneasy feeling throughout the school, but no one really knew what was happening yet.

My third hour class was Current Events. The teacher in there said that something terrible had happened and we were going to go to the cafeteria to watch the news. There were three other classes in there and the dozen or so televisions were turned to various news channels.

It was silent. I don't think anyone knew what to think or expect. Some people were crying. Less than ten minutes after arriving in the cafeteria, the first tower fell. A few minutes after that the principle came in and told all the teachers to take us back to class. I guess this was their way of censoring possible live events that would be upsetting.

It didn't matter. Every teacher (except for the math teacher I had) turned their televisions on. We watched the news all day. Really, after the second tower fell, there wasn't much "news" other than the survivor here and there and most the time, the chaos of the day caused that to be reported late or just rumored.

That night I had to work at Four Seasons Pool. No one came in that night. We just watched the 10" television as they replayed the same clips over and over again. Everyone took turns watching the front of the store while everyone else went and filled up gas, assuming prices would skyrocket. If I remember right, they did skyrocket that night while we were all taking turns. Going from $1.01 to somewhere around $2.50. They've not come down since.

I guess all we can hope for today is that the violence in the world can someday turn to peace. That needless death can cease. But as long as there have been humans, there has been war.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Recovery Day 20 Field Trip

Sallie and I decided it was about time we did something "normal" on Tuesday. I was feeling pretty good, had energy, and the weather was perfect outside.

Sallie has not only been taking care of me, but she's quitting one job, starting two others, and basically not getting any time to herself. I felt that I owed it to her to get out and have a "date."

I needed to just get out to lift my spirits and see how my endurance would hold out.

So we went to our little neighborhood deli, grabbed some sandwiches, and went to Tower Grove Park. Sallie found a spot maybe 200 feet from a picnic bench, so we parked, and I hobbled to the bench.

I was taken aback by how much I missed the little things. Just the crunch of grass under my feet felt so different. The picnic bench was definitely uncomfortable, but I was also so happy to feel wind and sun hit my skin that they sort of evened out.

Still, I could only last maybe 20 minutes.

We came home, took a short nap, worked out, and showered.

We wanted to see how I would do at a restaurant so we planned to go to this small sushi place nearby.

We managed to get there, but there wasn't a parking spot nearby. Sallie dropped me off on the corner and went to find a spot. I of course was harassed by a homeless man, asking if I had change. I was hoping the walker would be an anti-harassment device, but apparently when you need money, you are blind to the world.

It wasn't too terrible sitting in the chair with my leg down. It was a little uncomfortable, but I just had to adjust my position often enough so that blood would continue to flow.

I quickly noticed how much people were staring at me. I realized that this was like one of those sitcom episodes where the protagonist decides to travel in a wheel chair all day to see what its like to be a cripple, except I actually was, and it was really weird. Some people looked on in disbelief that someone with a walker would come out to their local sushi restaurant. Other people stared with curiosity. They could obviously see the brace, but they couldn't quite see what the cause of my leg issues were.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted. The sushi was incredible and I was happy to get out, but I could've fallen asleep the moment we walked in the door.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Recovery Day 19

There's really not much pain anymore, (besides getting the blood thinner shots to my stomach) its mostly discomfort.

I've got bruises that run the entire back side of my leg. I've got bruises on my stomach. I've got bruises in patches on top of my leg. Some say this is a sign of healing. Other's say its a symptom of the blood thinners. Either way, it makes my day really uncomfortable.

I'm still not usually getting more than four hours of sleep at a time. Sleeping in my own bed is definitely better than what I was doing before, but I feel bad, basically at 8 am every morning, I'm waking Sallie up so she can move me downstairs. Then, I snooze on the couch. I sit with the foot rest in front of me, and then bend the top half of my body over the arm rest to give my body the illusion that I might be sleeping on my side. Then after about an hour of that, the top half of my body becomes stiff and I have to move to the crappy mattress we have set up in the living room.

So sleep continues to be the biggest problem for me.

I've started doing some physical therapy. I like it. It's a way I can sort of quantify my progress. Already had one huge breakthrough, I can move my foot down on its own. Now I need to focus on up. I'm hoping that will come within the next week.

In a few weeks I will have to actually go to physical therapy. I'm not sure of the logistics of that. Maybe I'll have to find one that I can go to on the weekends. Otherwise, with Sallie starting a new job and me going back to work, I'm going to have to go really early in the morning. A prospect that scares me since I still have trouble staying awake all day.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Recovery Day 14

Went to the doctor today.

I like my doctor. He's firm, confident, knowledgeable, but warm. Everything you would want in a relationship.

He seems optimistic.

He says things are healing well. Told me, a girl that had the same surgery (minus the bone issue) just went back to work after three months and she has a job where she has to stand all day long.

He hoisted my leg up at one point, out of the brace, and just started bending my knee. It felt so good I could've kissed him, but also scared the hell out of me because the last time I went there, the bottom half of my leg wasn't quite attached to my knee. It just sorta flopped around. Today though, for the first time since my accident, the bottom half of my leg seemed to be attached to the knee again. My knee even popped last night.

All my incisions are well into the healing process. The stitches should dissolve soon.

I still can't move my foot up. He's optimistic because I can move my big toe up and have decent resistance. He believes when the swelling goes down a little more I will start to get that functionality back. There's a small chance that I broke the little stem of the nerve that controls that. He says its rare, but if that's the case, I might not be 100% in my leg again.

He also wants me to finally start physical therapy. I'm more than happy to oblige.

I have to go back in 4 weeks to get more X-rays, and that is when we can start talking about a possible 3rd surgery and when I can start putting weight on my leg again.

The negative for today:

I only slept three hours last night. I didn't fall asleep until 6 a.m., but I got to see the sun come up.

I was dealing with the insurance company and Wells Fargo. Things look messed up. I'm probably not going to get paid this week. Figured this would happen.

I've also found that I'm losing total PTO for the year since I'm not at work. Normally I have 144 hours for the year. Since I'm out a month, they're kicking me down to 132. This officially cancels the England trip for me and if I do need another surgery, I don't have a week of PTO left for my benefits package.

The thing that sucks the most is after all of this crap, I'm really going to need a trip.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recovery Day 12

Today I had to fight with something I didn't even consider with the recovery process, withdrawals from the Oxycodone and Muscle Relaxers.

In the hospital, I was on something like 120-150 mgs of Percocet or Oxycodone a day, plus pretty heavy muscle relaxers.

The first week I was home, I was taking about 100-120 mgs of Oxycodone and about 20 mgs of muscle relaxer.

I decided last week I wanted to start cutting down on how much I was taking. Mostly because I needed something to help me sleep and you can't take narcotics and sleeping pills at the same time. I also wasn't feel much pain anymore. Just discomfort and stiffness.

Probably last Monday I cut my Oxy down to about 50-60 mgs and muscle relaxers to about 10 mg every other day. As the week went on, I eventually got it down to only 5 mgs of Oxy and no muscle relaxers.

I haven't had any Oxy since Saturday.

Yesterday, Sallie set me up outside for about an hour to read and get some sun light. She went for a run while I sat there and I remember feeling really emotional to the point where I almost wanted to cry. But I sort of forgot about it and went on reading.

This morning I woke up and was shaking. I felt really weird and extremely emotional. I would just start crying for no reason. I had no idea what was going on.

The only thing I could think of that would be good was to sit in the shower with the hot water running on me. So there I am, sitting on my shower stool, hot water running on me, totally crippled, when all of a sudden I realize that this is the lowest point in my life. So I start crying again, and then I realize that I'm naked and crying in the shower, which is my new lowest point.

Sallie had to go to work today and I was still feeling the effects of my emotional roller coaster. She left and I just sort of sniveled around for a while.

I'm finally now feeling semi-normal again. Everyday there's new crap I'm dealing with. Everyday my resolve to get healthy ASAP strengthens. If my doctor told me killing a puppy and rubbing its blood all over my leg would heal me two weeks quicker, I would do it right now. Seriously, this is lame. But, another week down. Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since surgery. I have somewhere between 6-10 weeks before I can walk again. The countdown has started in my head.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Recovery Day 10

I can get along without pain killers now. The painful part of this ordeal is appears to be over, but I'd almost rather have it back. I slept a little better then.

Sleep is a huge issue now. The doctors said I can try to sleep on my side, but I need to stuff pillows under the bad leg to keep it elevated. I've done that, but then this plastic brace pushes hard into my skin. I get a few minutes of relief on my back by laying on my side, but no sleeping takes place.

I still am not getting more than about three hours of sleep at any time. It's really messing up my life. For instance, today, I woke up at four, six thirty, eight, ten, and eleven. I tried to wake up at this point, but I kept dozing, so I went back to bed. Didn't wake up until one pm. ONE PM! That's ridiculous. I've got to start figuring out this sleeping situation for when I do have to go back to work.

I think my other biggest obstacle right now is cabin fever. I'm getting it bad. Usually hits me by five or six pm. My chest feels heavy, I can't get comfortable, and nothing entertains me. I spend the next few hours bouncing between video games, Netflix, browsing the internet, reading, and playing with the cats. None of it helps. It seriously puts me on the brink of having a panic attack. The only thing that sounds like it would cure my cabin fever is a nice long walk. Something I'm still a minimum of six weeks from being able to accomplish.

I'm concerned that I will need a third surgery. Sallie and I were re-adjusting the brace last night and it doesn't feel like the bottom part of my leg is being held into my knee area right. There's still too much give. I know its still fairly early in the healing process, but it doesn't feel like any progress has been made with the ligaments.

I don't want to miss anymore work, or hell, the entirety of autumn with this injury. I've been waiting for fall for the better part of five months. I can't tell you how ripped off I'll feel.

Goals

1. I'm still trying to stay positive, but its definitely starting to get harder. I think part of the reason is because I haven't had any progress on my goals.

2. I was told that I shouldn't bend my knee this week in order to help the last scars heal on my leg. This is frustrating because bending my knee gave me some relief.

3. Knee and ankle have a little swelling yet. Sallie and I found a pocket of fluid hanging out on my shin with no where to go. I'm not sure what will be done with that. It might need to be drained, or it might just go away on its own. I'm still icing it as much as possible.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Recovery Update

Coming in an out of the hospital, I've found different people on the staff at the hospital empathize with your injury more than others.

-Doctors - Doctors don't care about your immediate pain. They know how far they can bend, poke, and prod your injury before you start crying lawsuit. Then they order the nurse to pump you full of painkillers until you pass out.

-Nurses - Nurses are some of the best to empathize with you pain. The nurses would move my leg as slowly and carefully as they possibly could. They massaged parts of my leg, had me try different pain meds until we found one that worked, and would apologize when they did hurt me.

-Physical Therapists - Had a minute amount of empathy. I think this is partly because their job is to inflict pain and make you move when you don't want to. I wanted to move, but the PT guy still flung my leg off the bed quick and wasn't quick to get me back into bed when I was done.

-X-Ray Techs - X-Ray techs are the worst. When I first went to the emergency room, the ER doctor popped my leg back into place. It felt great. Went to get X-Rays and they wanted an impossible angle and popped my leg out of socket again. Then, when I went to get X-rays after surgery, they attempted multiple impossible angles, but jokes on them, this time my bone was in their way.

I'm still recovering well. Most of my wounds are healing nicely, I've got feeling back in my big toe, and I'm building some upper body muscle.

My energy is completely zapped though. I wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and then need a two hour nap. Then, come dinner, I eat, and need to doze for a while. I'm not used to all the sleeping. I'm used to being up and doing things.

I went to the doctor for a checkup yesterday. For the amount of effort I had to put into getting out of the house and to the doctor, I would expect them to check everything. Instead, they removed my bandages, looked at my wounds, and said, "Good job." I have to go back next Thursday. Not looking forward to that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reasons my Wife is Awesome and Recovery Day 4

I've had a lot of help from a lot of people in the past few days, but no one can match Wifey. She's had to deal with my every request, ache, and discomfort 24/7. Here is a list of reasons she is awesome.

1. She dumps and cleans my urinal without a second thought. This is gross. I would possibly vomit all over the disabled Sal.

2. Inevitably the moment she sits down, my body will start twitching or hurting and she will have to get back up and adjust something.

3. She's been dead lifting my leg, which currently weighs 5,000 lbs, to help me up and down on every piece of furniture.

4. She stands behind me as I hobble to the toilet. Helps me get my shorts off. Waits for me to be done with the bathroom. Pulls my pants back on. And somehow still finds me attractive enough to kiss.

5. She hasn't once lost her temper even when I'm in pain and can't tell her how to fix it.

6. She brings me ice cream once a day.

7. She's been keeping my pill schedule. Otherwise I would be laying on the floor from over use of muscle relaxers.

8. She not only let's me call her Dr. Salmonster, but embraces is.

9. She encourages my painkiller nap time each day.

10. If I moan like a beached whale in the middle of the night, she hops to, readjusts me until I'm comfortable, and then go back to sleep.

11. The normal stuff that is left over from the wedding: smart, good lucking, funny, blah blah blah...

12. She's in desperate need of some wine, but hasn't drank pretty much anything so that she can help me if the need arises.

13. Always serves my food first, even if she is the hungriest.

14. She changes my disgusting gauze everyday.

15. Her hair is red. Sorry, like to even out my lists and the painkillers are blocking my more creative answers.

Update on goals:

1. I've stayed neutral today, which is sometimes the best I can do. I'm not sleeping full nights right now. I'm getting 2 hours here, 3 hours there. It's not just how much I want to sleep on my side, but my leg is very stiff even though I stretch it all day long. The muscle relaxers help temporarily, but there's usually 4 hours where they aren't doing much work. My boot and my elevator pillow just aren't working right.

2. I almost hit 50 degrees. I don't think 90s degrees is going to happen by Thursday. It's partially the swelling and partially because I don't think this brace isn't on exactly right.

3. Swelling has done down significantly. Mostly still my knee and ankle. The back of my leg hurts the most. It's starting to rub on the back of my brace and not feel happy. Been trying to ice that up.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Recovery Day 3

-----Warning-------This paragraph talks about poop------skip if you don't want to hear

I did it. Maybe only an hour after I typed my last blog, I pooped a weeks worth. It was glorious. I screamed out, "SUCCESS!" to the entire house. It was like giving birth. 3 cannonball turds, almost perfectly round. I feel a huge relief. So now I'll have to come up with new goals.

----------------------poop paragraph done--------------------------------------------

I haven't been able to bend my ankle or big toe upward since my secondary surgery on Wednesday. It was a huge setback for me. I had almost full range of motion just numbness in my toes.

So I've felt like that scene in Kill Bill since then. Keep saying to myself, "Move your big toe." But nothing was happening.

Today, I can move my big toe up maybe a quarter of an inch. I'm going to keep at it and hopefully will regain the use of my ankle and be able to move everything up soon.

Sleeping was a bit of a chore again. I like to not only sleep on my side, but change positions often during the night. I found myself wide awake and uncomfortable at 6 am. I tried changing the elevation of my legs. I tried holding my breath. Luckily, Dr. Salmonster woke up and told me it was time for more pain killers. Popped the pills and passed out within 15 minutes.

Slider has been overly protective of me since I returned home. He won't leave my side. When I move to the big chair, he lays on the coffee table next to me. He sleeps next to me in the bed. He's been cuddling up, wanting all sorts of attention. Slider has been better than some of the nurses I had in the hospital.

We had to break down and get a toilet riser today. It sucks buying all of this medical equipment that I know I will barely use the rest of my life. I know it will pay off for my comfort now, and I'm sure I'll find a way to injure myself in the future.

I now sit like a king, high enough that Sal's feet won't touch the ground. I haven't had poop round 2 yet, but I feel me and my mistress will meet again tomorrow.

I'm getting much better at moving around. I'm able to get up fairly quick. I've been doing laps around the kitchen to build my upper body strength. And I've been doing all the knee and ankle exercises. I'm interested in what news I'm given on Thursday for my followup. I'm hoping its good news. I've been hording all my PTO for this winter. Sallie and I had a lot of plans and we were finally going to take our honeymoon in England.

I guess my personal goal on this is to realize it was out of my control. I have a tendency to be angry when these events happen. If England doesn't happen this year, I have to just keep telling myself, it wasn't meant to be. There's nothing I could've changed to make it happen. If you don't have time off, you just don't have the time off.

1. Since I accomplished the bathroom goal, I think my new number one goal is just to stay positive. Know that people have it worse and one day I will be complete again.

2. I was able to bend my knee to 40 degrees again. The swelling around my knee cap has not gone down much and I think any more progress on my knee bending depends on that swelling.

3. Swelling around my ankle has gone down. The swelling around my knee appears unaffected, but there is now swelling on my calf muscle. I think this is because there is always some sort of plastic brace or elevation tool in contact. I started icing my calf tonight and hopefully will see results by Wednesday.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Recovery Day 2

Today was a bit better than all the previous week.

I woke up this morning with incredible stiffness. Even though I had more support on our mattress, not being able to adjust the height I was at, really messed with me. Slider was passed out right next to me all night. He seemed to be a little upset.

I did manage to get off of my foam support under my own strength, but wasn't able to actually get to my feet on my own. This brace seems to add 30 lbs to my leg and then there's the trauma actually to the muscles in my legs.

Right now I'm on Oxycontin, muscle relaxers, baby Tylenol (for blood clots), and blood thinner shots.

I wish I could take the muscle relaxers every 5 hours instead of every eight, cause I do tend to get muscle twitches in that leg toward the end of the cycle.

Everyday, Sallie has to change the dressings on my leg and give me a blood thinner shot. Today, the swelling has gone down significantly in my leg. My right foot is probably where the most painful swelling is at this point. The scariest is a part of my leg puffed up so much, that at first glance you assume its my knee. In actuality, this is the thigh. It's pretty gross. Once those two things stop swelling, I'll be all around more comfortable.

Going to the bathroom is the hardest and most labor intensive activity of the day. It really wears me out to the point of my arms shaking, sweat beading down my forehead, and by the time I actually get to sit on the pot, I'm tired to actually go.

Accomplishments

1. Tried to go to the bathroom 3 times today, no success on any. I think I'm sending Sallie out tomorrow to procure a toilet seat riser. I hate that we are having to buy so much equipment that I'll only use during this surgery.

2. I'm proud to report on several occasions, I was able to bend my knee to 30 degrees. There was one heroic time when I was able to comfortably bend to 40 degrees. Taking it slow, don't want to injure myself more.

3. Like I said above, my swelling has probably gone down by about half. Once most of the swelling is gone, I think achievement 1 & 2 will become significantly easier.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Painkillers and Surgery



So, Saturday night, Sallie and I decided to go out for a jog when she got home. We had both semi-stressful days and needed to blow off some steam. We were doing great too. What started as a mile, turned into 3. Only maybe 200 feet from where it happened, we were contemplating walking.

So I catch an uneven patch of pavement. Sallie and I were single file at this point and I had to roll to the side to avoid her. I don't actually remember hitting the pavement, but the next thing I know, the bottom half of my right leg was no longer attached.

The ambulance showed up, and the EMTs started freaking out. They thought that I would be in extreme pain, but really I was just uncomfortable. The EMT didn't really tell me where I was going, but merely said, "You're not going to St. Alexis." (Which is probably for the better. My only experience with St. Alexis was during Sallie's surgery last year, where I sat in waiting rooms covered in church pews and a guy kept screaming and peeing on the floor.)

So I end up at SLU's emergency room after they say they have some openings. It was a busy night for gun shot wounds and motorcycle accidents. I guess the nice weather brought out the excitement in everyone.

I end up dealing with the ER doctor, his intern, the two on staff surgeons, two nurses, X-Ray team, and the MRI team. It seems that none of these teams talked to each other. Three teams would come in in a row, all giving me the same information, or maybe another guy would show up contradicting the first guy.

The on staff doctor ad his intern both thought the knee was dislocated. They made it sound as if I were going home that night. I went to get X-rays, and the techs wanted to get some crazy angles, so they popped it back out of place in the process which didn't feel very good. The on staff doctor got it back in place, but then they decided they needed to get it wrapped. They lifted my leg and just turned it a bit too much. The leg popped out of socket again, the two surgeons were caught by surprise and dropped my leg a few inches, getting a better grip on it. This was by far the worst pain I felt.

This is what my leg looked like when it was re-set. You can see fairly obviously that the bottom half isn't attached to the top half.



So, they finally got me to a room at about 5 am, and I was due to be in surgery by 7 am. The nurse was scrambling to get everything together, and he did a damn fine job. Even with the nurse shift change happening at 7, he was able to get all the paperwork done and get me to surgery.

When I came out of surgery, I had rods in my legs. Basically, this was a temporary solution for keeping my leg together until the real orthopedic surgeon was in on Monday. This was the results of the surgery.



It was a constant battle of different nurses coming in my room 24 hours a day, a loud red neck room mate with a ton of family visiting all the time, orthopedic surgeons and doctors consistently cutting the dressing off my legs, poking around, redressing it. Halfway through the week, another patient was brought in as my room mate.

I got surgery round 2 on Wednesday. They removed the rods, put a plate on my ball joint of my Tibia, repaired the ligament on the right side of my knee, and discovered that my Hamstring was also hosed, so they fixed that as well. Total surgery time was about 5 hours.

I finally was able to leave on Friday. The transport to home just took everything out of me. I could barely move once I made it to my makeshift bed.

There are a few things I'm basing my recovery on.

1. When I can finally poop: I feel like I'm close, I have the sensation, but it takes so much energy and effort to make it to the toilet, I have no energy left. This one is probaby too much FYI, but I'm on too many pain killers to care.

2. How far I can bend my knee. My goal for Thursday, when I meet with the surgeons again is 90 degrees. Yesterday, I could bend my knee about 20 degrees. So I have a bit to go.

3. How far the swelling has gone down. The swelling has subsided significantly since I first got out of the hospital. Most of my swelling is right above my knee, around my ankle, and where my hamstring is.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fake Money and Passions

The United States treasury has been downgraded from an AAA to an AA credit and this has sent the stock market into a plummet.

Stock holders are a finicky, panic driven bunch. There’s this myth about the stock market, thanks mostly to the 1920s and the 1980s-90s when it was booming, where people think it’s an easy way to get free money. Invest in the right company, and shares explode.

It doesn’t make much sense to me, granted this is coming from someone who hates the business side of things and has no interest with investments.

All of this “money” is digital. Just because a stock is worth $3 more on paper, doesn’t actually put those $3 in your pocket. None of this is real money, it’s basically one large system of IOUs. Sure, you can sell your stocks high, but then that causes the price of the stocks to drop for everyone else. It’s this ripple effect system.

So yes, even though it’s scary to see the market plummet 500 points in a week, this is just going to cause a great buy-up when the stock prices go down. It’s a giant roller coaster ride.

Now I do feel sorry for the FAs I talk to. Even though I think the stock market has too much power and is a ridiculous system that puts too much power in the hands of stock holders, I can understand their stress. It’s something they at least at one time were passionate about.

It would be like if we started blending all food together in convenient shakes. It takes all the passion and romance out of food and cooking. I would hate that life.

I guess today I woke up with an empathy for the FAs I support. Many times I see it as a them vs me situation. Most of the guys I work with see it this way as well. Really, we’re all a bunch of animals habituating a spinning rock for a short amount of time.

Today, while being in this reflective empathetic state, I also realized that there’s no way I’m staying in the tech industry. I have no passion for it, just talent. I’m going to stay in it until my student loans are paid off, but then I’m going to write. I’m going to get a job at a restaurant in Denver, and Sallie and I will be blissfully happy.

With that, I leave you with some inspirational words by the man himself, Ira Glass.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Checkbook that Won't Go Away

So Sallie and I had this checkbook from Myrtle Beach that's been floating around since we left South Carolina. We had a reason for keeping this check book, a reason that I can't think of now, but this thing has caused too much chaos in the past few weeks.

For some reason Bank of America can't transfer bank accounts from one state to another. They forced us to close our South Carolina account and then open a Missouri one.

They of course gave us starter checks for our Missouri account that looks exactly like the checks from Myrtle Beach. I'm sure you can all see where this is going now.

First, I sent my dad a check for his birthday gift. The worst part about this is he even called and warned me that the check said Myrtle Beach. I wasn't thinking about it when he called and just thought it was one of our older checks from our apartment, but would still be valid.

Wrong: $20 charge and I have to send another check in the mail.

Second, Sallie had to go get a hair cut on Friday. This place, for some ridiculous reason, only accepts cash and checks like some shady convenience store. She didn't realize she had the old checkbook until she wrote the check and had left the place.

Not only did she have to call the place and tell them she was bringing a new check, drive home in awful Friday traffic, but then she had to drive back to give them the new check all before the birthday party at our place that night.

Third, and possibly the worst situation, I apparently paid for our water and sewage bill with St. Louis with this checkbook as well. Today, I got a notice that was stamped July 22nd, saying I had 10 days to send a money order, certified check, or pay cash at city hall otherwise I will be sought for immediate prosecution of a Class A Misdemeanor or Class C Felony for trying to defraud the department of revenue.

Here's the issue, we didn't get the notice until today, August 6th, which means we're already 16 days from the date stamped on the notice. We obviously have a post-marked envelope saying the notice wasn't actually sent until the 5th, but knowing bureaucracy at its best, I wouldn't be surprised if Monday when we went downtown, they tell us we have to go to court.

This checkbook has properly been disposed of now and will hopefully cause us no further grief. Here's my thought, let's get rid of the archaic check book system and make everything digital.

On a side note not related to the checkbook:

I was doing yard work today when I noticed a white shirt laying in front of my garage. I went to pick it up to realize that someone had pooped next to my garage and wiped their butt with this shirt. I screamed out in frustration. Luckily I had gloves on. It was just one of those sort of days.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Scenarios in Which I don't Help

I went for a run tonight. It was hot to put it mildly.

Like so hot, I feel like the sun had to be closure to the Earth.

There were a lot of people outside tonight, hanging out in the street, throwing balls back and forth. It was sort of a pain to run on sidewalks and in the street because of the sheer humanity.

There was one woman that popped out at me. She was small and sweating, dragging giant roller luggage behind her, and carrying a baby in one of those kangaroo poncho things.

My brain didn't register immediately what I saw. Instead, I went into a day dream where I asked her if she needed help getting her luggage to a car. Maybe she was kicked out of her house and slept on the streets. In either scenario, I help her with her luggage. Ask he if she needs something to eat, some water, and fulfill her request, one human to another.

By the time I realized this has all been going on in my head, I turned around. I had ran another quarter mile and she was no longer anywhere to be seen.

So mysterious lady, even if you weren't living on the street, I'm sorry I didn't offer to help with your luggage. To make up for it, I promise to at least ask if the next person I see that might need help, needs it, without question.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Instruments of Yesterday

There's a general idea that when you buy any piece of technology, it's already out-dated the moment you leave the store.

I've realized now, that technology I was using only ten years ago, it beyond me.

My land line is hooked up to my wireless headset for work. So every now and then when I have things to do, but I also need to make a call, I will call people on my land line.

The thing is, I forgot how to use the phone.

Like do I have to call long distance to call from a 314 area code to 636. And how the hell do you dial long distance? Is it 9 or 1 first? I've tried calling my dad on my land line a few times, but I always get this gruff old man, who's usually pretty nice and laughs it off. No matter what combo of buttons I press I just can't figure it out.

Then a week ago, I had a user call into my work who had a dial up modem still. I was flabbergasted. I couldn't remember how they worked or what steps to take to troubleshoot. Then I realized he was talking to me on his phone that he would also have to use for his internet. That became troubleshooting step number 1.

I've also been drawing up design documents for my brother's game he's creating and needed a straight edge. Where are all the rulers? I know that I own at least 5 rules, but since I haven't used any of them since my freshman year of college, I have no idea where they are hanging out at this point.

The classroom is an entirely different monster. There's no globes thanks to Google earth. There's almost no need to buy an expensive set of encyclopedias. You'd be hard pressed to even find a pair of headphones. Everyone has ear buds nowadays.

Maybe I'm just noticing all this stuff because I'm turning 27 this week. Birthdays always being out a reflective time, but damn. My 10 year old self would freak out not having a chalk board in school.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Food Porn

Cory and I (and Sal) have been watching a lot of cooking shows lately, specifically Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares where Gordon goes into a restaurant filled with his Ramsey attitude and whips them into shape.

Cory came to me about a week ago with a proposition. We make ribs and come up with a fancy compliment to the ribs.

I was excited. With Sallie's schedule and our off duty obligations, we haven't really spent any time together, and what time we do have, we don't want to spend cooking.

So a reason to get in the kitchen and make things is something I was willing to fully embrace.

I like how Cory's mind works. He came up with the ribs idea and before any other sides were brainstormed, he wants dessert to be Oreo's baked inside of chocolate chip cookies.

So we had ribs and double cookies. I suggested an oriental salad with home made dressing, green bean casserole, and something potato related.

So Cory and I had never made ribs before. I found a dry rub recipe that we ended up modifying that had a mix for fajita seasonings and brown sugar and a few other ingredients.

We didn't want to just get ribs from anywhere. This being the centerpiece of a great meal, we wanted real, straight from a local butcher, ribs.

So skipping the boring parts, our dinner took us to the nice grocery store, the International market, and our local butcher.

I made a sweet and sour home made dressing and cut the lettuce for the oriental salad. We made some fancy French potatoes with heavy cream, black olives, and goat cheese. Something a little simple but still delicious, a green bean casserole. And Cory's cookies.

The ribs were the big question mark. Neither of us have ever made them before and it was going to take 3-4 hours to slow cook them on the grill. To complicate matters, the grill ran out of propane around the 3 hours mark, and we had to play the oven merry-go-round with essentially all of the food to get everything cooked.

Surprisingly, the meal came out fantastic. (Including the cookies) I'm now laying in bed in my underwear feeling full.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Neighbor Politics

So, I don't really care for my next door neighbor. I think I've told everyone that by now. They are racist, pompous, and think everyone is out to get them.

Seriously, in the few times I've had to interact with them, they think the cops are out to get them, the criminals are out to get them, the teenagers, the government, everyone! They've complained about our Vietnamese neighbors (that I love), the red necks on the corner, and the person on the other side of them because they have more than one car. (BTW: These neighbors have 3)

They've also built their house as an isolationist castle. High fences, a porch roof that covers their entire back yard, cameras, and locks that supposedly can't be picked. Even police officers have made fun of this house set up. It makes our neighborhood look dangerous.

I don't really care for them much. I can tell they don't really care for me. We sort of co-exist I guess, try not to make eye contact.

It's a shame because I remember when I was a kid, all of the neighbors would wander to someone's driveway every Friday and Saturday night and hang out, have a great time. I don't know anyone that has that anymore. There's some sort of neighborly distrust that has grown in the past decade.

So tonight, I'm cleaning the house. I hear someone mowing their lawn and weed whacking. It's 9:20, and I sort of think... maybe its a little late for that. But I'm too busy to investigate.

Then, as I'm going up the stairs at 9:45, I look out the window on our door, and the neighbor kid is week whacking my front yard. He's actually on my front porch going for it.

Now, I don't have an issue with the kid. I actually could see him being alright to hang out with. I would like to think that he's doing this to be a good neighbor. I was planning on mowing my lawn tomorrow morning before work anyway and I ran out of the string in my weed whacker last weekend. So really, he's doing me a favor.

But then I'm also wondering if his parents have been talking trash on us because our yard isn't as perfectly landscaped as their yard is. (Mostly because we haven't lived in this house for 20 years and don't have a bunch of money to do that stuff professionally.) Maybe the kid was tired of hearing it and he decided to take matters into his own hands? Maybe his father mentioned it makes their house look worse and told him to do it.

But see, there's that neighbor distrust again. I don't know where this came from. I've never had horrible neighbors and even as recently as college I remember hanging out with all of my neighbors and actually liking them.

Is this a product of our electronic lives? Possibly a product of the suburbs and everyone wanting the largest piece of land they can get? Whatever it is, I hate it. I really wish there were neighbors willing to come outside on Friday and have a beer with me.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Yearly Birthday List

Yes, I'm still going to put up birthday lists because I love getting gifts and people love giving them to me. These are in no particular order and I want them all. So start buying. Only 16 shopping days left.

Comic books
1. Walking Dead Vol. 14 by Robert Kirkman
2. Criminal: Lawless Vol. 2 by Ed Brubaker
7. Captain America: No Escape by Ed Brubaker

Videogames
1. The Punisher - Playstation 2
2. Silent Hill 4: The Room - Playstation 2
3. Tenchu 2 - Playstation 1
4. Intelligent Qube - Playstation 1

Computer Stuff


Movies

Home Brewing Equipment

Gift Cards
1. Steam
2. Amazon
3. Slackers
4. Gamestop
5. Microcenter

Thursday, July 7, 2011

There's a New Kitten in Town




Sallie sent out a recon team in search for a little orange or calico cat. One of her recon members, Beth, found a little orange cat a few days ago.

Immediately my phone rings like the president. You would think the Russians were attacking and I had to make a quick decision.

"Can I have him?" aka "They have nukes in Cuba. What's our next move President?"

"Have there been any threats yet?" aka "How small is it? How much will it cost me?"

"No, but there's potential for an attack." aka "No they're free, from a farm, and we're in real danger of a cuddle attack."

"Do we have any intelligence?" aka "Has it been to the vet?"

"None yet, we're working on it. An attack could happen soon..." aka "Not yet, but I will take it there before we get it. My birthday is coming up soon..."

After several seconds of heavy thought. "Alright, we'll launch an attack." aka After several seconds of heavy thought. "Alright, call Beth and get it under way."

So the little guy is home and hate to say, so adorable, he can get away with murder. I've never thought about what it would be like to have a super small guy.

I've also discovered how much of a selfish father I would be.

The first night we had him, he cried and woke us up at 3 am, 5 am, 7:30 am, and 8:30 am with his cries. It was my one day a month I had to go to the office and I was tired.

Last night... oh last night was even better. He slept in bed with us. Totally tuckered out. We were tuckered as well. But we couldn't go to bed yet because lil' oh kitten peed on our comforter. So we swapped all the blankets out, put them in the washer, and finally curled up in bed.

Then 5 am came around and I hear Sallie wake up because the new kitten is jumping around, playing with a toy and spray peeing and pooing everywhere. So, we drop him in the litter box, where he finished up. I take all the second round of blankets and put them in the washer while Sallie changes out to our C blankets. Also known as, the last full set we have.

So he spent the rest of the night in the cage.

Slider is warming up to the little guy. They will play together, but eventually a 10 lb slider will inevitably bowl over a 1.6 lb kitten. They'll eventually get it.

Crash of course hates him, but to be fair, she still hates Slider... and most other people.

We don't have a name for him yet. I've had a few ideas.

Winston Zeddimore because I love Ghostbusters and he is the most under-appreciated buster around. It would be a tribute to a man that helped take down the Stay Puff Marshmellow man and Viggo the Carpatheon.

Dobby from Harry Potter because he has giant elf ears. But I don't want to have a Harry Potter reference 20 years from now when he might not be as cute.

He loves technology. Anytime I'm playing a game, he's laying on the keyboard or watching the TV. He's been hanging out on top of my game collection to keep away from slider. He even likes chewing on the laptop monitor. So I though, hmmm, maybe we could call him Gamer. I'm putting that in the bank because I think I would like that more than others.

He also keeps climbing on my brewing beer, which means he basically likes everything I like. So maybe we could call him Dan... but come on, animals are there so you can give them messed up names you couldn't give to a human baby. So Dan is right out.

We'll figure out a name soon enough I'm sure. Sallie will update you when we do.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wait... You Did What?

So my friend Allie is in graduate school to be some sort of medical professional.

She keeps blowing my mind by causally mentioning stuff she has to do.

So the first instance, while we were talking on the phone, she just drops this bomb in the middle of the conversation.

"So yeah, we were in the lab, and they were asking for volunteers, and no one wanted to do it, so I volunteered and had to cut the cadaver's chest open with a bone saw, and when it was done, my professor..."

"Wait, you freaking cut a cadaver open with a bone saw. Let's stop there and get a few details on this. You can't just drop that in the middle of your conversation."

So, I really didn't think I would ever hear her say anything more extreme than the bone saw incident, but then she blows my mind again.

We were text messaging back and forth for a while, probably a good 45 minutes. Then, there's a five minute silence and I get this text message:

"I took out a f*cking brain this week... it was awesome...and the most disgusting experience of my life."

How do you not start the text messaging with that little tidbit? I wouldn't even say hello to anyone if I had done that. Everyone in my phone would just get a mass text message with extreme details of me taking out a brain.

So I asked for details and this is the response I got:

"I had brain matter all over me. Very messy but probably because out strikers were dull."

Allie is a mad scientist. I am convinced. And I will never cross her ... ever...

Anyway, my friend is awesome and is the only person I can say I know has used a bone saw.

And one last bit of advice, "Did you know you have to cut a V like notch in the skull so you can put the top back on after an autopsy? Otherwise the skull can slide off at an open casket funeral."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Google +

Everyone wants to have their own Social Media network.

MySpace and Friendster made a bunch of people money years ago.Now Facebook is a multibillion dollar company. I've been on all of these sites at some point or another, usually so I can stalk lady friends.

The downfall of all of these sites are usually correlated with advertising showing up, flash games, spam, etcs. It's a cycle. One that I currently see Facebook going through. In five years, I doubt most of us will be using Facebook still. We'll have all moved on to yet another site. The internet is a fickle beast, with a three year attention span. (Don't believe me, remember Napster, AIM, Limewire, Yahoo! Chat, Yahoo! Games, Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves, Mapquest, Netscape, AOL... yeah, the list keeps going)

So, the new thing everyone is talking about is Google +. Right now, its basically all the cool things about Facebook, without the Farmville games or advertisements.

Google is the greatest internet company around. My blog is hosted by them, my email is hosted by them, I have a calendar through them, I have tons of Google Documents saved to the internet, my phone is Google... really, if Google wanted to ruin my life, they could with a few clicks of a mouse.

I'm still figuring out Google+, but it seems to be pretty easy to integrate everything Google I have. Only time will tell if it'll stick, or go the way of Google Wave.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

To the Flea Market!

Last weekend, Sallie and I grabbed our secret wad of cash (when I say wad, its only a wad because its made of $1 and $5 bills) and we drove to the monthly Belleville flea market.

We didn't have anything in particular we were looking for. I had some comic books and Playstation 1 games on my list and Sallie had a bunch of vintage items for Lacy's bridal shower to look for. We figured we would find some treasures like records or movies as well.

The flea market is set up on the Belleville fair grounds. There are probably a few hundred vendors set up across this large warehouse, few smaller buildings, and parking lot.

The best way I could describe this event is... well, think about Grandpa Dobyn's basement and office spread out on a bunch of folding tables while strangers rifle through and talk about all the cool collectables. Seriously, I know why Grandpa Dobyns loved going to flea markets. He could buy everything he wanted for just about nothing.

The first table we saw had a few dozen rifles, pistols, and this guy...



That's right, that's a freaking mounted machine gun. For the low low price of $800, you can fire 450 X .50mm rounds toward your enemies out of this authentic World War II M2 machine gun.

There were booths with knives, swords, hot wheels, Nazi paraphernalia, red neck clothing, street signs, food, and knock off sports jerseys.

I think the strangest thing was a guy selling medicine. He had two folding tables worth of pharmaceuticals, most of which were probably going bad in the heat if they weren't already expired. Across the way from Dr. Weird was another man exclusively selling women cleansing products.


Sallie ended up finding a great necklace and a vintage punch bowl set and spent less than $20.

We spent a little less than three hours roaming around and I'm ready to go back next month.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Perfect Run

I've been diligently trying to work off that vacation gut I talked about a few weeks back, but the humidity and terrifying thunderstorms haven't been helping my motivation. (Sallie and I are both winter runners for sure)

A few days ago though, I had one of my more perfect runs since the half marathon Sallie and I ran last year.

I had spaghetti the night before, three Lion's Choice roast beef sandwiches (this was my only real meal of the day, I'm not fat, just really love roast beef sandwiches) for lunch that day and a banana about an hour before my run. So in those three meals I had the trifecta: carbs for energy, protein for muscle rebuilding, and potassium to kill the cramps. I didn't plan it out that way, just sort of happened.

I spent the last twenty minutes of my work shift stretching, which I don't normally do before a run. I was feeling pretty great, even before I took my first step.

The thing about a perfect run is its not just how well you run that makes it. It's a combination of yourself and the environment around you. The classic character vs environment conflict.

I hit the pavement just as the sun was going over the horizon, but I still had plenty of daylight to see well.

As I rounded the corner, the Bosnian bakery down the street from me was baking cookies and cake. A scent that put me instantly in a great mood. I couldn't help but ignore the humidity. The cookies made me think of Christmas.

I have a pacing problem when I'm alone. I go into a full sprint without paying attention and burn myself out quickly. This was the case at about the mile mark. I had to slow down and walk. Just then a toothless man in a fishing hat sitting in a lawn chair yelled out, "Ah man, that's alright. You gotta walk it out. You're going to pick it back up in a minute here, I can tell." He punctuated his cheering with a laugh I could only describe as Ving Rames playing Santa who had been smoking for 40 years.

I was propelled forward again and started running. I made it to about the 2.5 mile mark and was joined by a five year old who ran next to me for a few houses. I let him beat me to our imaginary finish line and he looked satisfied.

The next mile and a half was rough. I ran along Kingshighway, my Zune constantly battling with traffic noises. It was picking the correct music, but the sounds of horns and sirens often over-powered.

Then as I made it to my street, I could see my house towering above the rest. My 4.5 mile loop was just about complete for the night. I was ready to be in the air conditioning again. I was ready to park my ass on the couch, put my knee in its brace and ice my feet. Right on the home stretch, my Vietnamese neighbor was in his front yard, drinking a tall boy, with a very obvious drunk smile, and he says the only English I think he knows, "It's a good day yes!"

Yes sir, it was a good day.