Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Frank and Jesse James

Back in the day, there were outlaw men who made their livings plundering banks, trains, stagecoaches, and payroll transports.  Names like Anderson, Bass, Doolin, Dalton, Quantrill, Younger, and James. 

James, as in Frank and Jesse.

History records that some, probably most of these, were men of low virtue, with little regard for the lives of innocent, upright citizens.  But popular mythology, and likely some revisionist history, has enshrined some of them as counter-culture heros, more misunderstood than evil.

Fast forward to the present.  It seems all the entertainment news sites are abuzz about the latter day Jesse James.  It seems Mr. James, also know as Mr. Sandra Bullock, has been a bad boy.

Before he married Ms. Bullock, I had no idea who Jesse James the motorcycle dude was, but, as one who can be counted among those believing she's "America's Sweetheart", I figured if she thought he was a good guy, he must be OK.  When he later was a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice, I found him to be self-effacing, very down-to-earth.  Of course, most anyone would've looked good next to Dennis Rodman, whom I consider an insufferable ass.

But here's my gripe:  It seems all the entertainment outlets are focusing either on "how could he cheat on America's Sweetheart?", or "how could he cheat with that?" (the inked-up chick).  Fact is, both questions are irrelevant - infidelity has nothing to do with who he cheated on, or with whom.  Whether he'd been married to Roseanne Barr (there's a sobering thought) or got a chance to hit it with Heidi Klum would make no difference - he owns the infidelity.  Is the transgression either amplified, or attenuated, based on who's cheating or cheated?

Marriage vows don't seem to get much respect these days, in no small part, I believe, owing to the toxic environment of modern culture and entertainment, although my good friend Todd the Blogger has reminded me that it's always been thus.  Still, I can't help thinking that Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, The Bachelor, Modern Family, and other such fare are helping in the corrosion of our collective moral compass.  I've prefaced many a statement with "I'm no prude, but...", dating back to college.  Nowadays, maybe I have to admit I am, at least concerning promiscuity and all the heartache that seems to invoke, and embrace my inner Puritan.

God gave us the gift of intimacy with another person.  My pastor often notes that we are not designed to use God-given gifts for un-Godly purposes.  I hope that for her own well-being, Ms. Bullock can forgive Mr. James, although forgiveness does not mean that she takes him back.  As the aggrieved party, that choice is hers, and hers alone.

And that's how it should be.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Diff'rent Strokes

I was away from the blogging desk last week after writing about the Brazos Drive-In Theater.  The morning I posted that, I noticed some difficulty with my field of view - not enough to prevent composing a post and fixing breakfast, but noticeable.  After several hours I was concerned that I had perhaps torn or detached a retina from sneezing early that morning, so, mid-afternoon I went to the local minor care clinic.

Minor care clinics are fine for bumps, bruises, and maybe a few stitches, but they don't have an opthamologist, and couldn't dilate my eyes to see if there was any damage.  A couple of hours wasted, they sent me to the ER at the big hospital downtown.  What's that?  Well, it's a big building with lots of rooms and windows, but that's not important right now.

The ER check-in staff and doctors were great.  Within an hour, they'd run through a decision tree, and had me getting a CT scan, followed by an MRI.  It seems my problem wasn't with my eyes - I learned from the MRI tech that I'd had a small stroke...more about that later.  I found that I would be spending the night.  Bummer.

The next morning, they ran an MRA to check my "Circle of Willis" - the arteries and vessels supplying blood to my brain (yes, they did find one).  My Circle of Willis, for you AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile users, does not include Arnold, Mr. Drummond, Kimberly, Pearl, or Todd Bridges' parole officer.  No vascular issues noted.  So then they did a carotid sonogram, and echo-cardiogram to check my ticker valves, another CT (no new indications).  Overall cholesteral under 165, HDL and LDL well within spec, slightly elevated triglicerides. Nothing abnormal.  So, by Monday evening I was way ready to go home.

Unfortunately, Dr. Shangri-La or Maharishi or whatever was more concerned with my bowel habits than whether there was any apparent cause of stroke (something she never discussed with me - absent the MRI tech telling me I'd had one, and being sent to the stroke wing, I wouldn't have known).  The IV in my arm and sleep deprivation caused me to not be able to hold down the, uh, nutrition that was being provided three times a day.  Without anything going in, nothing was going out, and Dr. Mahatma wasn't going to let me out until...well, I'll spare you the details.

Monday became Tuesday.  I kept the blinds closed and lights off, trying to catch whatever rest I could between BP checks, IV flushing, therapists (usually asking the same battery of questions), involuntary vocalizations from rooms down the hall.  I began to think I'd not leave upright.  An x-ray was scheduled to check my innards to see if I had blockage.  I didn't.  But I still got nauseated at the smell of the hospital food.

An Ambien helped a little bit as Tuesday painfully came to an end.  But Wednesday was like Hell.  Finally, early afternoon, IT happened.  The next time the nurse came around, I notified her to tell the doctor and let me go.  By 5:00, the paperwork was being prepared and I could sense freedom.  When my ride home arrived, there wasn't any attendant to wheel me down to pickup, so I talked the nurse (a beautiful young lady who looked like a The Bachelor contestant) into letting me walk downstairs with her accompanying me.

I had a regular, but not huge, dinner, and spent the first night at my folks' house, waking well-rested for the first time in four days, and wolfed down a tasty, but heart healthy, breakfast.  Later, I returned to my house, and spent the day puttering around, trying to get a doctor's note to return to work, and catching up on some projects.  Due to my regular doc's schedule, I wasn't able to get an appointment until Friday afternoon, spoiling my intention to return to work that morning, but did get cleared to return on Monday.

Thankfully, I'm now back at work, feeling fine.  My doc says to wait about 30 days and schedule a stress test, and then he's going to put me on the treadmill, but not make me change my name.

It's all better than the alternative.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Droopy Drawers

Well, now that the Pants on the Ground guy from the American Idol tryouts has completed his 15 minutes of fame, the burden has fallen to me, your loyal scribe, to champion the issue of drooping drawers.

Of course, my version may not be what Mr. Platt had in mind, as I have concerned myself with the problem of  dresser drawers overloaded to the point where the bottoms sag and catch on the lower frame.

The Problem: Drawer bottom droops and pulls fasteners loose

Solution: Remove bottom and install screwing cleats, cut plywood bracing straps

Solution, continued: Screw in 3-ply braces with brass screws and finish washers

Now, I'm confident putting heavy sweaters or jeans in this drawer.  Was the solution overkill?  Maybe.

But, would the Tool Time host settle for less?  I don't think so, Tim.

And neither would I.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Field of Dreams

   I went south last night and did something I haven't done in about 30 years.  It was way fun.

   OK, Dew, you can stop reading now.  Or at least stop thinking that.

   I took the kids (well, two of them anyway) to the Brazos Drive-In in Granbury.  It was their first time at the Drive-In movies.  The titles weren't spectacular: Alvin & the Chipmunks - The Squeakwel, and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, but they were enjoyable family fare.  We took a couple of zero-gravity lawn loungers, put a huge double sleeping bag over them and set a cooler where we could reach the sodas and strawberry Whoppers and Runts and Dots.  And popcorn, for the second feature.  Even though we brought our own sodas and some of the candy, we still spent over $20 at the snack bar on hot dogs and nachos and such.  You know, health food.

   Between the snack bar on our right, and our car with open windows to the left (radio tuned to 89.1 FM), the sound quality was pretty good, though obviously not what you'd get in an indoor theatre.  But the evening was great - our dog was curled up under our loungers (her leash attached to the vestigial speaker post, and we were snug in our sleeping bag under the stars (a lot clearer & brighter than in the Metromess), with probably 150 or so other families.  It would've been easy to imagine it was 1975, or 1965 again.

   I hope I don't wait another 30 years to do this again.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Over, Oveur - Fare thee well

Yesterday, iconic actor Peter Graves died.

While many of us remember him from the '60s and '70s TV series Mission Impossible, for many others he was immortalized for his role as Capt. James Oveur in the comedy spoof Airplane, from 1980.

I have to sheepishly admit to being a bit surprised that James Arness (Gunsmoke's Matt Dillon), Graves' older brother, survives him.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

DJ The Donald?

OK, if Platinum's gone, maybe I should start my own oldies station.  Heaven knows I have a fairly eclectic and antiquated music library.

Actually, I've kinda enjoyed listening to Ronald Reagan's speeches over the weekend.

Here's a song that would make it on my playlist.  The 'supposed' definitive version is by Gladys Knight and the Pips (I wanted to be a Pip when I was a kid), but my favorite version is by the pride of Steubenville, Ohio, the one and only Dean 'Dino' Martin: You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Adiós Platinum 96.7

In order to further secure my reputation as an old codger, I am hereby confessing that I did, at times listen to KPMZ-FM 96.7, an oldies station.

As of yesterday, Platinum 96.7 is no more.

Over the weekend, the frequency will be stunting, running an all Ronald Wilson Reagan format, featuring speeches from the Gipper.  I guess the demise of Platinum can have somewhat of a silver lining.  On Monday, word has it that the frequency will simulcast WBAP-AM 820's program (Hal Jay, Amy Chodroff, Steve Lamb, Brad Barton) on FM.

(This, my friends, was a real President!)

Platinum, in the year and a half or so that it lasted (following the Twister country format), apparently picked up some market share from the other oldies station, KLUV 98.7, but not enough for its owner Citadel Broadcasting (which also operates WBAP).  Though he wasn't an on-air personality, veteran announcer Ron Chapman lent his voiceovers for station ID and commercial spots, reportedly as a favor to Citadel CEO Farid Suleman.  Hearing Chapman's voice on the airwaves (with no disrespect to his successor on KLUV, Jody Dean) somehow gave the illusion, however fleeting, that everything's OK in the world.

The station probably played Everyone's Gone to the Moon too frequently, and repeated its playlist, but, where else would you hear Roy Clark's Yesterday When I Was Young, Charley Pride's Is Anybody Going to San Antone, or Noel Paul Stookey's Wedding Song in today's market?

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

(Note to Lake Worth readers: Noel was one third of the folk-pop group Peter, Paul & Mary)
This version is not as good, audio-wise as the link above, but it's clearly from the '60s.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Don't Cross the Streams!

And now, an important public safety announcement:

OK, I don't know what would really happen if you crossed the streams of your Ghostbuster Proton Pack - supposedly you get covered in a thick layer of ectoplasmic goo, generously garnished with a dollop of Mr. Marshmallow.  And maybe sprinkles.  Who am I to argue with Dan Aykroyd?

But, in the real world, where I live (fine, I may not live here, but I like the brochures), I do know that you do not want to cross your, uh, urination stream, with a high-voltage electric cable. (Obviously this advice is mainly for the guys - women's plumbing, as well as their inherent sensibility, inhibits them from taking excessive artistic license in this realm.  After all, I've never seen a woman try to write her name in the snow.)

A man in Washington state survived a car crash with a power pole.  But, while waiting for a relative to come pull his car from a ditch, he decided to relieve himself.  Unfortunately, urine is apparently a pretty good conductor, and when his contacted the downed power line, it formed a high-current circuit through his body that proved instantly fatal, killing him graveyard dead.

So, guys, always practice caution when handling your lightning rod.

You're welcome.