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Niblet-Related Theater

INT. The Doll Factory party room. The Niblet Birthday Extravaganza is ending, loot bags are being handed to the children. Niblet's DADA hands a bag to a three or possibly four year old LITTLE GIRL who has attended the party. Her FATHER is also there.

DADA
Here you go, sweetie, thank you for coming!

FATHER
(attempting to solicit a 'thank you' from his daughter)
What do you say?

LITTLE GIRL
What's in it?


Dada turns away, attempting not to die laughing.


Also, though, don't get me started on the stupid loot bags. I hate, hate, hate the loot bags. We considered just not handing them out, and maybe it would have been okay, actually, but we didn't want to get a reputation as "those" parents. Loot bags (basically little bags that you give out to the kids attending) full of a few crap little toys and maybe a couple pieces of candy are pretty much de rigeur these days, as stupid as that is. I mean, it's not already enough that you're providing a bunch of kids with a bouncy house, pizza, cake, etc etc, no, you have to give them a present too?

I have heard of parents who decide that their kids probably don't need any more plastic gimcrack and instead instituting a book exchange instead of presents, which does actually seem like a good idea - the kid doesn't need any more stuff, because we and his or her grandparents will buy the stuff, just come to the party and leave with a new (if gently used) book. Seems like a good idea, especially the part where it saves other parents buying something for a kid who they probably don't know all that well.

In "you're doing it wrong" news, though, we recently went to a party where the parent instructed us that they would have a book exchange in lieu of the loot bags. So you still have to bring a present, AND a book. See, no. If you don't want to do loot bags, just don't do the fuckin' loot bags. I'm fine with that. Most people, I imagine, are fine with that. This isn't the Oscars, it's a kid's party. I don't think any of the kids would care, by the time they're leaving they're wound up after two hours of playing like crazy and eating junk food and cake or cupcakes or whatever, they don't give a crap whether you give them a bag of cheap-ass toys. But don't make us bring a present AND a book for the book exchange.

Next year, I declare: No goddamned loot bags. Unless we can come up with a cooler idea than some cheap-ass toys.

*sigh* Because I know you're wondering, our loot bags consisted of:

1 crazy straw
1 super bouncy ball
1 party popper (the ones that kinda look like a little barrel with a string you pull to make it pop out with some confetti and streamers)
1 crazy happy face bendy guy
1 either dinosaur toy, or mini plastic slinky
1 mini bag of Skittles
2 individually wrapped 2-piece Starburst
1 big dollop of my hatred at having to purchase and assemble these friggin' things

Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!

No, I didn't have a stroke, I'm talking about swimming. I'm back on form. In fact, better than - before I went into the hospital with the infection, I was almost able to get to where I did tonight: 44 lengths, half a mile, in half an hour. (Okay, 31 minutes.) I didn't even feel all that wrecked - if there hadn't been two people waiting for a lane, I might have thrown on another lap or two just because I could.

Not that impressive, but not bad for a fat out-of-shape guy, and it feels good to hit a goal. When I first started, I could just barely do 20 lengths at all, less if I'd used the elliptical for a while before. I say screw the elliptical, swimming is so much better as a full-body exercise. I'd rather just swim as hard as I can for as long as I can or I'm allowed to if there are other people waiting.

Next goal: 1000 yards, 50 lengths, still within 30 minutes. That's nearly a lap a minute. Yikes. I don't think I'll be able to do it without relearning how to flip at each end of the pool. I used to know how to do it; hopefully it won't take too long to pick up again. I just have to find a time to practice when nobody can see me, heh.

I do feel that having reached this goal, I should now be granted instant in-shape-ness. Annoyingly, that hasn't happened. Apparently I have to keep doing it. A lot. Le sigh.

I will now shut up about it until I actually do hit that next goal, probably around the time the Mayan calendar ends, proving that perhaps they really did know something about the end of the world. Because my motto - well, one of my many mottos - is "the only thing more boring than working out is talking about working out."

EVERYBODY PANIC

Ahem: 2012 is just another year.

1) The Mayans did not predict the end of the world, they just didn't bother to make their calendar any longer. As far as we can know, maybe they just thought that everything started over. Or maybe they just didn't give a crap about events that far out. Do YOU have a calendar for 2985?

2) Even if they *did* predict the end of the world, we can only guess at how our calendar matches up with theirs. Nobody actually knows. It's entirely possible that the Mayan "end of the calendar/world" has already come and gone, and we don't know it. Or maybe it will come on June 28, 2018. Nobody knows for sure, and anybody who says they do is lying.

3) No offense to any Christians, but, well, Christians have been pretty sure the End Times are Upon Us since, well, about 34 AD. It might also be worth checking to see if other religions are predicting the End Times When All Is Kind Of Crappy, because, well, it seems like often things get Kind of Crappy. I am merely saying.

4) Nostradamus probably predicted The End Of The World to be right about now, but, hell, he also predicted the time when I fell off my bike and broke my front teeth out, so. I mean, that's how I read Quatrain #483. Or maybe #843, I forget. Whichever.

I predict that in 2012 I will turn 40 years old. This is a fairly blood-curdling event, one which I expect to be attended by mass conflagrations, demons flying through the air, and doughnuts.
Why do they still bother painting "Compact" parking spots? I mean, I know what the point is supposed to be. But it rather clearly doesn't work (who hasn't seen an SUV taking up 2 "compact" spots, or more?), and all it does is make people park like even more annoying jerks than they normally would. If there were ever even the slightest enforcement it might have some effect, but there isn't.

Or install actual compactors in parking areas. "It's a compact now, sir."

Seriously, though, an "A" for good intentions, but at this point reality should have set in, so let's go ahead and repeal this.

A terrible compound pun

Oh, you crazy person, you refuse to put your used mints into an ecologically sound organic waste recycling program?

You must be non compost mentos.

(I should be ashamed, and yet look: I am entirely not.)

Too much serious

So enough politics and death and illness. Here's something light 'n fluffy:

We don't keep our toilet paper on the roll in our bathroom any more. Because the evil-but-cute puppy will have an entire roll of toilet paper off the roll and shredded on the bathroom floor in a matter of minutes. So we don't keep our TP on the roll anymore, because...

Toilet paper on the roll is an abomination unto DOG.

Nyuk nyuk nyuk.

One more thing about the hospital.

I wrote this in response to a question on Richard Wiseman's blog, about whether anyone had ever had what seemed to be a paranormal experience that scared them at the time, but later realized the explanation for. Mine didn't scare me, but it did just happen. Some of what I've said here you probably know if you read my recent post, but I present it as written with a minor edit or two.

My mother passed away about two years ago.

Five nights ago, she sat down next to my bed and we had a chat about what was going on, with an emphasis on my health. I gave her all the medical details I could, and she commented on them, while also looking at the various IV drugs I was hooked up to… you know, I think I may have left part of this story out.

You see, about a week ago I had a minor surgery to remove a mole or skin tag on my neck that had gotten inflamed. The surgery was a mere nothing, a bit of local anesthetic, quick work with a scalpel, and a hearty handshake with the doctor. Unfortunately it quickly became clear that the wound had become *extremely* infected and I landed in the hospital, being pumped full of the strong antibiotics and Vicodin for the pain.

It was in this state, sweating through my sheets every time I dropped off to sleep for two hours, that my mom showed up some time after midnight(?). In her life, she was a nurse and then eventually a teacher of nurses, a career which deeply fulfilled her. In her pursuit of that career, she got more medical education than many doctors receive.

As her only child, my health was of deep concern to her, as it had been during her life. So of course, when I became truly ill for only the second time in my life, she would desperately want to become involved.

I have to tell you how incredibly real her presence felt to me. I was *certain* that she was there, sitting in the chair next to me.

We talked about what had led up to this point, what the doctors had said, what medications I had already been given. As I remember it quite vividly, she stood up and moved my IV bags around to look at the labels and see just what was currently being put into my veins. She asked if I was being given any pain medication (I said yes, Vicodin, although the doctor had made morphine available to me) and then reminded me that her research had shown that pain was the enemy of healing, and recommended that I ask for the morphine posthaste. (Exact words, “posthaste.” She loved saying "posthaste." Ah, Mom.)

I did ask for the morphine the next chance I got. Posthaste, if you will.

But as incredibly real as it was at the time, when I came a bit more to my senses I never thought that she’d visited me, as much as I would like to believe that she had. The things she told me were things I’d already known about medicine. Her research into pain was something that I knew about, and had even told others about. (I just felt like I was some kind of druggie asking for the hard stuff. Stupid.)

I wasn’t scared at the time, in fact I was deeply pleased to see my mom again and know that she’d taken time out from being dead to come see me and make sure I was going to be okay.

And you know what, even knowing that it wasn’t paranormal, the fact that my befuddled brain conjured her up to let me know it was okay to take a better pain medication, and that I was probably going to be okay… it was worth a weird hallucination. Very much so. Even though I know I didn’t really see her, as far as my memory is concerned, I got to talk to my mom once more.

I’m incredibly glad to be out of the hospital and feeling better, but in a tiny little way I’m glad it happened the way it did, to give my brain the chance to conjure her for just one more little visit.

What the heck happened to me?

So as many of you know, I was in the hospital. I'm out now. Here's the story.

A few weeks or so ago, I said to (mostly) myself, "I gotta do better." What I meant was better at taking care of myself. Much to the surprise of myself and anyone else familiar with my willpower, I actually managed to do so.

I started swimming laps at the YMCA almost every day. This time last week, I was up to almost half a mile (a bit over 800 meters) in half an hour. That's not going to get me on the USA Swimming team, but it ain't too shabby for a fat out-of-shape guy. I also started cutting back a bit on food intake - smaller lunches, a banana for breakfast instead of a bagel, that sort of thing.

And it was working. I had to buy a new belt, and I was able to buy one that was several inches smaller without it being uncomfortable.

So huzzah! The only fly in the ointment was that a harmless little skin tag on my neck kept getting irritated - I assume partly from being rubbed on while I swam in chlorinated water, and then from being rubbed against my collar while I was still damp and/or sweaty. No problem, I thought to myself, I'll just go in to the outpatient surgery and have them snip it off. And that's exactly what happened, exactly one week ago today. Clean clean, cut cut, stitch stitch, bandage, that'll be XX dollars copay, have a good day. Whole process took maybe an hour.

The next morning I woke up feeling like death warmed over. I had aches, pains, shivers, chills, a fever, no fever, and excruciating pain my neck. But my wife and I had been passing tonsilitis back and forth, so I thought man, what a crappy time to get a cold, just after I got stitches in my neck! Next day, same deal, only worse. I took the bandage off my neck as prescribed, though, and at noon on Wednesday it looked... fine. But by that night it was getting red and puffy and I decided I'd better go in to the ER.

Long story short (and I'm leaving out the story about the worst ER doctor ever): Hooooo yeah, infected. Way infected. In a few short hours it had grown from just around the wound site to huge stripes of puffy, painful red from one side of my neck to the other. The doctors were nearly convinced that I would need to have surgery to drain stuff out, which luckily was ruled out after a CT scan. Yeah, one of those tubes they stick you in. Weird. Creepy.

So basically what happened is that they started pumping my veins full of several different antibiotics, including one that as far as I know is the strongest one in current medical use (vancomycin), and waited to see what would happen.

It was not a good few days.

But I got better. I'm going to have kind of a weird pit-looking scar on my neck, but considering how it looked at one point, I'm kind of surprised how small it will probably end up being. But I sure hope it heals fast. I miss the old gnarly dudes at the Y.

Okay, I take it back

I do have a thought... or well, my *wife* had a thought, which seems to bear repeating. It's about politics. The idea is: What if all elected officials were only elect to one term? Would that help keep them from being bought? Certainly with Senators and Representatives and the like, the goal often seems to to be to increase the re-election war chest. So maybe, if there there is no chance of being re-elected, there is no reason to collect donations.

Maybe, maybe not: Certainly you could make a case that it might lead to guys or gals who entirely whore themselves to one particular industry, who gain their entire one-time election fund from one particular special interest - indeed that perhaps each senator/representative/councilmember from a particular interest.

Maybe. Or not. But hey, let's just say that Senators serve, oh, 8 years, and no more. Representatives the same. 8 years and done.

Could it be worth a try? Your thoughts are invited.

Hello silence my old friend

Once again I find myself apologizing for not posting much here lately. Even the Pennysaver has denied me amusement. I just don't feel like I have much to say these days, at least that can't be expressed in 140 characters or less. Good grief, what can I possibly say that hasn't been said? Maybe something, but if it's *that* awesome, can it not be condensed to Twitter length? If it can't, is it actually that awesome?

Maybe, but I'm not getting paid to write, so, if you will pardon the vulgarity, fuck it.

I may be around, I may not. If I have an essay (or if the Pennysaver again produces amusement) I will be around again. I guess mostly I am removing any obligation to maintain this journal. Because I am a lazy SOB.