Monday, April 30, 2007

Day 4 and Counting

(Day 4, not 5. I blame the meds. :-P)

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Rockville

The wait here drags on. Not helping matters is the amount of gunk that has drained from my elbow, and it's still doing so; I doubt I'll be leaving until it slows down and/or they find out how bad this stuff is. Without grossing you out, all I'll say is, do any of you have a can in your kitchen that you use for excess grease? It's worse than that.

Some other vignettes:

  • I'd be able to post from the TV, but mine has terrible focus, and for some reason it doesn't like the Blogger pages. Fortunately, there's this PC down the hall.
  • My aging roommate has gone from snoring very loudly (sometimes seeming to say, "Oh noooooooo!" as he does so) to growling at the nurses to wanting to become a boxer and have me as his trainer and LC his manager. He says we'd have to carry him TO the ring, much less FROM it. But because of my arm, I won't be carrying much of anything for a while.
  • The temperature in the room varies from colder (which I like) to furnace (which he prefers).
  • The light in the bathroom finally got replaced today. I'm still having some constipation issues.
  • The food hasn't been too bad; heck, I might be eating more healthy here than at home!
  • The Catholic chaplain found LC and I at this computer earlier today and warned us about whatever we might be looking at. Turned out it was the Catholic Answers Forum. Hee. He gave us the Eucharist again today.
  • LC has arranged for me to get some case management when I'm finally discharged from here. That'll be quite helpful.
  • I still can't believe how peaceful I've been about all this, not that I'm overly enjoying it. I do of course want to learn whatever God wants me to in the middle of all this.
  • I appreciate your prayers and support. So does my MIL, who still has the double pneumonia.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

This Has So Not Been My Year

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Rockville, MD

It's been six weeks since I had arthroscopic surgery on my right elbow. Starting Wednesday night, the elbow became puffy, red, and hot to the touch, not to mention downright painful. I made arrangements to see my surgeon on Friday, but before work was done on Thursday, I felt a fever coming on.

Come Friday morning, my surgeon discovered that the elbow joint was infected, and this was confirmed though more surgery that night. I've been here at the above-mentioned hospital ever since. Looks like I'll be out of work for at least the next week.

And, for the indefinite future, I'll be pumping antibiotics into myself via a PICC line. Right now, I'm also on morphine (my Happy Liquid).

I haven't gotten much sleep, naturally, and going to the bathroom has become an exercise in patience (morphine is an anti-laxative). I don't have much of an appetite either, but this is not a method of weight loss that I recommend.

The doctors, nurses, and techs have all been quite helpful, and Ladycub has been a saint with all the stuff she's provided for me. Kudos also to my mom, dad, and brother who stopped by (Mom gave me the Eucharist), and to Rob and Gordon for their visit also. My roommate is an older gentleman with kidney stones who can be quite cantankerous when the anesthesia talks through him, but otherwise he's mostly harmless.

And I'm not the only one who can't buy a break health-care-wise. Just as my father-in-law discovered he had double pneumonia the same day I had the fall necessitating the surgery in the first place, my mother-in-law likewise developed double pneumonia the same day I was admitted here.

I was told this would be outpatient surgery. Not quite, obviously.

Prayers and thoughts welcome, including for my MIL.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Door Storm

One of the first improvements we made to Casa del Cyg was to install storm doors on the front entrance and the second-floor access to the deck. We put the nicer door on the deck and the not-so-nice one on the front because we don't sit in front of it.

A couple years ago, I busted the front storm door window with my weed whacker. It's taken us a while to get around to replacing the window, but it's been an exercise in futility. In short, I found out that replacing the window would cost more than the door cost us! (And that was before installation.)

I thought it was only electronics that cost more to fix than replace! Sheesh.

Praise and Worship Music at Mass

Over on the Catholic Answers Forum, I started an interesting thread on why guitar-based praise and worship music, such as "Shout to the Lord" or "Days of Elijah," shouldn't be used at Mass. I tried to get posters to go beyond a simple "I don't like it."

I learned a lot, and I was made aware of certain Vatican documents that seem to have been either ignored or watered down. But there do appear to be loopholes. Anyway, the consensus appears to be that such music may well be appropriate for prayer meetings, but not for the sacrifice of the Mass.

Here's a relevant quote from Tra le Sollecitudini:

VI. Organ and instruments
15. Although the music proper to the Church is purely vocal music, music with the accompaniment of the organ is also permitted. In some special cases, within due limits and with proper safeguards, other instruments may be allowed, but never without the special permission of the Ordinary, according to prescriptions of the Caeremoniale Episcoporum.

16. As the singing should always have the principal place, the organ or other instruments should merely sustain and never oppress it.

17. It is not permitted to have the chant preceded by long preludes or to interrupt it with intermezzo pieces.

18. The sound of the organ as an accompaniment to the chant in preludes, interludes, and the like must be not only governed by the special nature of the instrument, but must participate in all the qualities proper to sacred music as above enumerated.

19. The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells and the like.

20. It is strictly forbidden to have bands play in church, and only in special cases with the consent of the Ordinary will it be permissible to admit wind instruments, limited in number, judiciously used, and proportioned to the size of the placeprovided the composition and accompaniment be written in grave and suitable style, and conform in all respects to that proper to the organ.

21. In processions outside the church the Ordinary may give permission for a band, provided no profane pieces be executed. It would be desirable in such cases that the band confine itself to accompanying some spiritual canticle sung in Latin or in the vernacular by the singers and the pious associations which take part in the procession.
I think this goes to show how much I conflated the community gatherings we had in Lamb of God with the Mass, and how the former had become more important to me than the latter. At the community gatherings, it was all praise and worship, all the time.

Now I realize many of you reading this are from other denominations/religions, but I wonder whether your services have had similar arguments over what music to play or not.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why The NHL Is Done As A "Major Sport"

(Hit me with your best shot, Deb!)

1. The NHL players, owners, and commissioner still have no realization of how they lost the fringe fans like us through the totally unnecessary strike.

2. It still expects diehard fans to reward it with their tickets in spite of said strike . . . the same fans to whom it gave the finger.

3. It hasn't even made the slightest effort to reach back out to those fringe fans in order to "grow the game."

4. Even if we had cable, we wouldn't be able to see any games on Versus unless we would shell out money for digital, and many others have it worse.

5. How are we supposed to have any interest in hockey at any level when there are no professional hockey teams at any level in the state of Maryland? I guess the only hope is if Ed Hale builds a new arena in Baltimore to replace the decrepit "Baltimore Urena," as my college friends called it. I do have good memories of the Baltimore Skipjacks and Bandits (the reason I can never root for the Hershey Bears), and I even saw a short-lived team in Upper Marlboro.

I'll be over here when the NHL starts caring.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Putting Up A Good Front

We've got quite a few projects to do around Casa del Cyg. But before I get into our latest venture, however, I want to thank our friend Sean for his efforts in fixing our garage door last week. He literally whacked the metal tracking back into place so that the rollers moved correctly, and this enabled me to repair a broken hinge on the door. Who knows how much money he saved us by doing that?

Over the last couple years, we've been giving some attention to the front of our house. We had a big cypress tree removed because it had grown up right next to the house, and we had no idea what would happen to the siding from the wind constantly blowing the tree into it. When the cypress was removed, we found a hose rack that we never knew was there!

We have now turned our attention to the front lawn. It's rather uneven, but we'll fix that eventually. We're trying to grow new grass where the cypress was, and we've decided to rebuild our garden. Yesterday, we brought 1200 pounds of topsoil home and put most of it in the garden. First to go in will be impatiens, which grow well in shade. Then in the fall, we want to plant crocus and tulip bulbs for the following spring.

Our driveway is rather narrow, and a strip of grass in the front lawn has become worn from us walking on it from the cars. But Ladycub had a great idea: In the back yard, we had five large hexagonal stones. We spent yesterday transferring those stones from the back yard (which no one can see because of a fence) to the front yard, and we placed them along the driveway with the assistance of more topsoil (see photo). The two stones closest to the house will probably have to be reset because they're pretty much sitting only in topsoil. The other three are supported by clay. (Any ideas how we can seat those two stones better would be appreciated.)

In any event, the front yard already looks much nicer, even without the impatiens. I wrapped up the day by cutting the weed factory back lawn, and then the front. We were both pooped and sore.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I'll Put A Bunch Of Rants Here

  • For a change, the Supreme Court got it right and upheld the ban against the ghastly -- and totally unnecessary -- partial-birth abortion procedure. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Now we can continue working to make abortion illegal once and for all. 50 million babies (and counting) will thank us.
  • So now Maryland will award its 10 electoral votes to whoever gets the most popular votes in the Presidential election. This is ridiculous; it completely negates the Electoral College. In case you need reminding, we don't live in a democracy; we live in a republic. The Electoral College was created in order to prevent the election being decided by, say, California, New York, and Texas. Now, the battleground states will be even more so, not less so. Want the Presidential candidates to come to Maryland? Work to make this a two-party state! (Which I admit is an awful lot to ask for in the bluest state in the U.S., and it doesn't help that the Maryland GOP has long been a well-intentioned, but disorganized, mess.)
  • Bravo to Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler for deciding to drop the "Wal-Mart bill" that tried to tell Wal-Mart -- and only Wal-Mart -- how much it had to spend on its employees for health care. The Washington Times editorial gets it right; this was solely a hissyfit thrown by (increasingly irrelevant) unions which hate, hate, hate Wal-Mart. If a union ever says things are going well, it's done, so union bosses are perpetual "nattering nabobs of negativism." If I were CEO of Wal-Mart, I'd close all my stores in Maryland immediately. Then what would the unions say? This state is so anti-business.
  • Lennie Thompson, our local wacko county commissioner who wants to bulldoze all housing from the Potomac to the Mason-Dixon line, has a solution to funding highway improvements: charge everyone who drives through the area. Welcome to the Garden State Parkway, Maryland-style. Look, if there's money for a Bridge to Nowhere for Ted Stevens, there's money to upgrade I-270. I'd just shrug Thompson's proposal off, but New York is planning to do something similar. We just got EZPass transponders to pay tolls, but I bet all sorts of politicians are licking their chops to make those mandatory and then run all sorts of charges for just driving through a particular area. Then Every Road A Toll. Grrrrrr.
Along with the rest of the country, I express my grief over the pointless shootings at Virginia Tech. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen. My old roommate was a VT grad; I haven't seen him in years.

But that being said, I need to say a few other things:
  • The reason this sicko got away with it is because he KNEW no one had a gun to stop him. Just approve it. An armed society is a polite society. Even more disarmament is not the answer.
  • I agree with Steve Czaban that the university must bear responsibility for the fact that it had no plan. Two hours after the first shootings, they sent an e-mail (!) informing the community to look out. Then the rest of the carnage began. No matter what the organization, there have to be contingency communications plans for this sort of event.
  • Kudos to the family members who refused to talk to NBC after they had the gall to run that propaganda from the shooter (whom I will not give the pleasure of naming).
  • And now, here comes the proposed "assault weapons" (what on earth ARE those?) legislation. Since when is a 9mm handgun an "assault weapon"? Remember when the catchphrase was "assault rifle"? And in this article, Representative Jim "Captain Preppie" Moran gets it wrong again: not one gun has fired itself at anyone. Ever. I used to be on the side of gun control, but it's obvious that it doesn't work.
Okay, that's enough for now. It's too nice a weekend to rant any more.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hand me that bag!

Today was my first real experience of air sickness. (I know, thanks for sharing. :-))

I mentioned in this post how I had taken to the air for my traffic reporting. Since that day, I've been up twice on my own with the pilot. Each time, the ride has been a bit bumpier than the time before.

The plane didn't go up at all the previous couple days, with crosswinds of over 50 mph thanks to the nor'easter that hung around. So we went up this morning. I have to admit that this experience has gotten me used to turbulence; I hope I won't fear it anymore on an airliner. IOW, I would be scared by how choppy air would come up suddenly. In one sense, it's no longer a big deal.

Today, however, I experienced the other sense.

As the morning went on, the air got progressively worse, with unequal warning leading to updrafts. It got really bad as we headed into Virginia over the Dulles Toll Road and I-66. Now I'm not as familiar with the exits on these roads, so I had to refer to my atlas. And I think that's where the problems started.

The first thing I noticed was how hot and sweaty I was becoming all of a sudden. Then, I could feel the gears start reversing in my digestive system. I'm glad that all it did was back things up into my esophagus; I didn't leave anything in the plane, although I wanted to.

I'm sure the pilot noticed before I did; he asked me if I were doing all right. I said yes and that I was getting used to the turbulence . . . which, as I said above, I was. But soon the imbalances became too much. We had to curtail the flight early. When I arrived at the bathroom at the airfield, I noticed that my face was totally devoid of color.

So the moral of the story is that, if I do this again in a small plane, try to look at maps and such as little as possible, or elevate them to eye level if I can.

How have you fared with air sickness?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Give My Regards To Laurel

Back when I issued my friend test, one question was about what theater productions I was in. For those of you who haven't known me for the past 10 years or so, let me fill you in:

My first adult production in 1998 was Oklahoma!, the quintessential community theater performance. With Laurel (MD) Community Theater, I had a bit role as the guy who buys Curly's gun at the picnic basket auction, and sang in choruses for "Kansas City," "It's a Scandal! It's an Outrage!," "The Farmer and the Cowman," and the title piece.

Items of note:

  • Unlike this April, it was unbearably hot for these performances, and the AC couldn't be turned on in the school theater because it made too much noise.
  • I forgot my boots one night. Fortunately, LC dragged herself and the boots over to the theater in time for the performance after she'd worked 12 hours.
  • The guns with blanks used by Curly, Jud, and Aunt Eller repeatedly failed to work.
  • Our Will refused to dance for the Kansas City sequence, so we had to do it without him (which made little sense; he was supposed to teach US!). I am a hideous dancer. My poor friend Sorcie had to literally lift my pant legs at one point so that I could get the steps down. But I worked at it and did OK.
  • I was listed as the understudy for Jud, and before the last performance, the guy playing him totally snookered me into thinking he was sick; I had not really studied for his part, but I wouldn't mind having it in a future production. What was so wrong with Jud, anyway? He was a bit of a grump and dirty, but he wasn't a pompous blowhard like Curly.
  • The guy who played Will showed up rather hung over for one of the matinees. And our musical director arrived drunk to more than one rehearsal.
  • Of the three ladies who dressed in the can-can costumes during the dream sequence, two became pregnant soon after the performance. Must have been the costumes.
  • Speaking of which: After the "It's A Scandal!" song, I had quite a bit of time on my hands before intermission. So, during one performance, I headed back to the dressing room, which happened to be coed. Normally, the least you see anyone dressed is in his or her underwear. However, I walked in on the above-mentioned Sorcie who was about to put on her can-can costume (she's the one who didn't get preggers), the key words being "about to." She was, in the words of Radar O'Reilly, "naked with no clothes on." I did an immediate about-face, and my face was probably glowing red for the rest of the show.
  • Instead of giving us notes before each performance, the director gave them to us afterward. Even after the last one. Not the most encouraging guy in the world.
  • I made a huge save during the title song. After the lines "Brand new state! Gonna treat you great!," one of the characters was supposed to sing, "Gonna give you barley / Carrots and pertaters." He later admitted he was getting into the song so much, he completely forgot to come back in. The band vamped for another four measures. So I sang the line, and things continued from there.
Next was Dracula with the Burtonsville Players (actually, also in Laurel) later in 1998. Purists don't like the Balderston-Deane adaptation of the Stoker epistollary novel, and I do not recommend reading the latter at night on a redeye flight across the U.S. My good friend Jeff Lesniak (DB, for "Dittoboy") directed. His lovely wife ("Da Queen") suggested I read for the Attendant, and I got the part. B&D brought the Attendant in as a bit of comic relief, but he was also befuddled by why Renfield would never stay in his room.

Items of note:
  • Let's get this one out of the way early. The most embarrassing thing ever to happen to me on stage was in one performance where I was to make a pass at the Maid, get slapped, and then produce a mouse out of my pocket to scare her to death. I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out . . . a whole lot of no mouse. Not really having been coached in ad lib, the rest of the scene wound up being a train wreck. I was so upset at myself, but fortunately my friend Drew, who was playing Van Helsing, encouraged me to shrug it off and move on.
  • The Maid was played by a lesbian lady who was quite nice and never wore a skirt save in this performance, but she sadly rejected my gift of flowers at the run's end. So I gave them to LC instead.
  • The sound of a gunshot was supposed to be played at the sight of the bat in one scene, but the sound didn't work. I dashed around backstage and found two 2x4s to clap together after what seemed like a half hour of silence.
  • The effect of Drac leaving the room so quickly through a hidden door after first scaring Mina was really well done. He came walking back into the room just a second or two after the deed. My mom was quite startled by that.
In 1999, I joined up with the Rude Mechanicals of, yep, Laurel for the first of two Shakespeare plays. I actually nabbed a starring role in A Midsummer Night's Dream, playing Demetrius, one of the lovers. That was fun. We did this in a contemporary setting.

Items of note:
  • My female counterparts and objects of my affection, Helena and Hermia, were two 15-year-olds. At one point, Helena covers my mouth with her hand. Once, I licked it. :-D Before one performance, the actress playing Helena had such a bad headache that I started massaging her neck and temples the same way I would for LC. After the play, she called us her "mommy and daddy." That's her on the left in this album cover photo with her real mommy and daddy (click to enlarge).
  • Puck was played quite well by the most talented actress in the cast. Normally, Puck is male.
  • When Puck leads Lysander and Demetrius to chase each other through the forest, Lysander decided to do some of the Karate Kid moves in urging me to fight him. I responded with the Ali Shuffle. Puck did a great job of mimicking both.
  • Our Bottom was over the top. He practically ran the 440 in the process of dying during the "play within a play" at the end of the performance.
  • Someone in the audience was heard to say that our Titania had the worst British accent she'd ever heard. Except that our Titania WAS British.
After returning from three months' exile vacation work in Florida in early 2000, I rejoined the Rude Mechanicals for Much Ado About Nothing. I was slated to become Borachio, the bad guy, but because of a family commitment during the run, I took the role of one of the guards, the unlikely heroes of the play.

Items of note:
  • I had a heel spur when I returned from Florida from too much walking in sand, so I rehearsed in a big medical boot to stabilize my ankle. Eventually, some painful cortisone shots did the trick.
  • My buddy and fellow guard Arthur and I sang various songs as we marched across stage: "Heigh Ho," "Oh-WE-oh" from The Wizard of Oz, and the Imperial Death March from The Empire Strikes Back.
  • One of my jobs was to strike down Conrade while accusing him of trying to interfere with Hero's betrothal to Claudio. I hit him across the shoulders with my forearm in good pro wrestling style, but once I managed to hurt him. Good thing we were good friends; this martial arts master (the husband of Sorcie above) could whoop me with one hand and four other fingers tied behind his back. And that's before he would even make contact with me.
And last, and furthest from least, 1776 with 2nd Star Productions in Bowie (that's "BOO-ee," not "BO-ee" like the singer). I had the role of Samuel Chase of "Mary-land." Actually, I was just about the same age in this performance as Chase was when he signed the Declaration of Independence. Chase would go on to become a Supreme Court justice and have quite a row with Thomas Jefferson, resulting in Jefferson impeaching him.

Items of note:
  • What a cast, as you see in the show link. This was no group of hackers; many of these actors had 20 or even 30 years of theater experience. They definitely helped me elevate my performance. But even so, there was no snobbery among the members. We were a tight unit, and I think our dinners and cast parties were the most enjoyable of all the productions I'd been in.
  • The set was exquisite, and got applause when the lights came up. The band was excellent.
  • I was the only one allowed to use his own walking stick, a wood-carved one which I was given when I had the bad foot.
  • I wish I'd gotten to sing more; the only songs I was in were the first two, "Sit Down, John" and "Piddle Twiddle."
  • I got a couple complaints that I wasn't fat enough to play Chase; he was rather heavyset. Now, I'd probably have no such problem. :-)
  • I made the rest of the cast hungry because in each performance, I had to eat a turkey leg while boring legislation was being dealt with. Then I had to speak to Adams while holding said leg. I tried to have a bit of skin hanging off for emphasis. After marching offstage to New Jersey to investigate some "whoring and drinking" among the troops, I would go behind the theater and ceremoniously hurl the turkey leg into the woods.
  • My next entrance was once Rutledge of South Carolina finished his powerful song, "Molasses to Rum to Slaves." We would knock knuckles as he came off. A couple years later, LC and I ran across the actor who played Rutledge here in Frederick as he was off to another performance.
  • While waiting backstage, the lady who played Abigail and I ran lines for "Midsummer" which she had also been in as Helena.
  • Many thanks to the guy who played Franklin and his partner, who dropped me off at home after I locked my keys in the car after the final cast party.
I really want to return to the stage. All I need now is a job with more regular hours.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Simple Tip for Windshield Wipers

On Saturday I called up Dave Serio, the host of "You Auto Know" on our local radio station. You can listen live on Saturdays from 11 AM to 12 noon and 1 PM to 3 PM Eastern wherever you are through his website.

I wanted to know why it took such a short time for the Cygmobile's windshield wipers to start streaking after I bought and installed them. He replied that, at least in this part of the country, the problem may not be so much the wipers or blades . . . as the windshield. Droppings from trees and other sources can cause the blades to streak, even if they're fairly new. Wiper blades are supposed to last anywhere from one to two years.

Dave suggested cleaning the windshield regularly with a windshield foam cleaner sold at auto parts stores. I tried Rain-X Cleaner followed by Rain-X Windshield Treatment (the stuff that makes the water bead up and flow off the windshield), and that seems to work really well with my wipers.

Oh, I just saw this related tip on an online board about cleaning the inside car windows (reproduced verbatim):

Use the window wash you put in car window wahing wells( or whatever they are called) HA I even use that stuff to wash my windows in the house, it does not smudge. Just look at the outside of your car windows when you use it. IT is tons cheaper than windex. A secret a cleaning lady told me.

Friday, April 13, 2007

What the heck is RSS?

I'm sure you may have seen or heard about RSS, and in fact the Blogger blogs are quite RSS friendly. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it's a useful tool if you have a lot of blogs you wish to review. What it does is list your blogs and show if there are new posts to them, so you don't have to go clicking all of them all the time. You can also use it for news sites and other sources.

I use Bloglines myself as my RSS aggregator because it's web-based. For more about RSS aggregators, check this.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New to my blogroll

Junkfood Science, which challenges a lot of what you've been told about what is and isn't good for you. Check it out!

UPDATE 6/10: I've removed the link from my blogroll. I'm bothered by the fact that Sandy Szwarc allows no feedback via e-mail or comment, and it's becoming obvious that she has an agenda. I think in many ways, her findings are correct, but it bothers me that she doesn't want to be challenged.

A Chilly Easter

This was the coldest Easter in recent memory, feeling more like Thanksgiving. But at any rate, He Is Risen!

LC and I went to Mass with my parents and sibs. The church was nicely decked out wth all sorts of flowers, as hand-arranged by Fr. Marty. His homily was about how the Paschal candle was the sign of the risen Christ, and would be with us for the next 50 days. We also got to see one of LC's bridesmaids; her husband is about to leave his post as music director at that parish, which is over an hour away from his home. This bridesmaid was pregnant with her eldest daughter at our wedding; said daughter and her sister, born a year to the day later, were helping lead the singing at the Easter Mass, and did quite well.

Mom and Dad hosted a scrumptious Easter meal afterward, but before that started, we had the Sort-Of-Annual Easter Egg Jellybean Hunt. My mom hid 14 jellybeans in the living room. LC and my younger brother each found five. I stayed off the schneid by finding two. BTW, we range in age from 28 to 45. We'll be doing this as senior citizens, I bet.

This cold snap has got to end sometime, but it seems like it won't. Reminds me of back in 2003 when it rained almost nonstop for six weeks in late spring. I still haven't been able to rotate my winter and summer clothes yet.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

More from Cyggie Homeower

Busy day today around the house.

As I promised Ladycub, I cleaned the bathrooms. Joy. But I got into it. We so need a new cabinet in the main bathroom. Right now, we have a shelf over the toilet. I don't feel like having to fish my meds out.

And I hadn't planned on this, but after running an errand for LC, I remembered that the gate on my back fence was falling apart. So I went back out to Lowe's, got hold of some 2" screws and a handle for the outside of the gate, and replaced all the nails in the gate with the screws. Wow, the gate actually closes now! I also adjusted the latch, but one of the screws was stripped, so I had to drill it through in order to put a new one in. I'm proud of myself for doing this.

LC did a lot of straightening up in the kitchen, throwing out all sorts of leftover carp in the refrigerator and pantry. We'll try to donate what little was salvageable to a food pantry or somesuch.

And, for the first time as a married couple, we dyed Easter eggs. I got to continue a tradition in my family: a Vomit Egg (one you dye in every color).

Friday, April 06, 2007

One use for "Milwaukee's Best" beer

Or, as my late friend Ed would say, "The very best Milwaukee has to offer." After all, it's not much worth drinking!

The Beer Cannon - set to the 1812 Overture.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Good health news, for a change

My cholesterol levels are improving with meds and exercise. I need to keep it up. The exercise, that is.

I'm finished seeing the hand therapist; Kendra, you're the bestest. There's still some minor pain with the wrists and elbow, but nothing that keeps me from any activity.

I'll have an MRI on my neck tomorrow. Problems persist with stiffness and pain in my neck and shoulders, but the orthopedist who operated on my elbow seems to think surgery won't be necessary. I have a possible spur in my neck and some impingement in my shoulders. Fortunately, my rotator cuffs aren't torn, or else I'd have to go on the disabled list and miss my start in the rotation. I'm hoping therapy and cortisone will do the trick, but I think I said that somewhere before.

(You know what I gleaned from reading that link? Around the time I started having problems with my shoulders a couple years ago, I was swimming at the Y and doing a lot of the crawl, which involves bringing my arms up over my head. Coinkydink?)

I also got my replacement shoes from Joe's New Balance Outlet. These fit much better than the first pair, although they make more noise when I walk. But I won't send them back for that. I will need another pair fairly soon because both my other pairs of New Balance shoes are worn through, and I know one pair won't cut it. Man, I'm rough on shoes.

UPDATE 4/5: The MRI went smoothly, albeit loudly. I'll find out more on what it means next week.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Take Off, Eh?

I got to not only take my first ride in an airplane as a traffic reporter today, but also my first-ever ride in a small private aircraft! It was an old Cessna 172 similar to the one shown here.

We took off at about 5:45 AM (while still dark) from a small airport south of DC and not far from Andrews AFB. We turned west across the Potomac and followed the Beltway in Virginia around to the northwest Maryland suburbs.

Actually, I didn't do any reporting. I was sitting in the back while my cow-orker and the pilot were doing all the talking. Not that I could hear anything they were saying, thanks to the Cessna engine! I thought of Bill Cosby's routine about Fat Albert's car that had a Cessna engine in it.

I was trying to figure out what everything was from the air. I did pretty well with Maryland highways, but I was a bit more clueless in Virginia. The fact that I abhor driving in Northern Virginia doesn't help matters much!

So maybe I was a bit googly about just being up in the air. Those who know me know I'm not the most comfortable with flying, and today didn't change that much, even though it was a comparatively quiet day for flying. Still, I was doing my share of gawking. Here's some of what I saw from between two and three thousand feet up:

  • Lights in neighborhoods that appeared to flicker on and off as we flew over in the darkness.
  • Golf courses. Never realized how many there were. Even got my first look at Congressional, where the U.S. Open has been held a few times.
  • Swimming pools. It surprised me to see how many appeared to be functioning even now.
  • Perfectly straight lines in fields at the Beltsville Agricultural Center.
  • All of the Goddard Space Flight Center, which you can't see at all from the roads.
  • Many playgrounds, parks, and soccer and baseball fields just on the other sides of sound barriers from the local interstates.
I did manage to spot a disabled vehicle that my cow-orker had missed. And I did not drop any turkeys from the plane:

Three hours later, we landed a bit hard, mainly because there was some excess baggage in the rear of the Cessna. Namely, me. What a bounce!