Saturday, February 27, 2010


Amoxacillin and Z-Pac. My new best friends. A doctor visit back on the 16th got me the first, another visit the 24th got me the second. But this nasty goo is finally clearing up! I can breathe again without coughing up a lung, and I have slept better in the past two nights than the last 14 before it put together. My voice is almost normal again, and my ears are starting to clear. Though the ringing in the left is persistent and bothersome.

Ah, modern medicine. Beautiful when it works as advertised!

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Toyota and the Stupid Tennessee Woman

I spent the drive to work the other night getting more and more tired of the human race. I was listening to NPR do a story on the Toyota recalls and the hearings and such. They had a woman from Tennessee testify about her "terrifying" ordeal when her car accelerated "out of control". She was in her Lexus...not a cheap vehicle of course, when the accelerator stuck and she sped up to...wait for it... 100 MILES PER HOUR! OK. So some people would think that's pretty fast. And I was thinking, sure... in town, that could be a pain. But she was not in town. She was on the open road. So she testifies that she "put both my feet on the brake pedal and pulled on the emergency brake and it still didn't stop. So I called on the bluetooth device... I called my husband (here she gets all teary and quiver voiced) not that he could help me, but so I could hear his voice... one (sob) last (sob sob) time. (waaah cry cry sob sob)"

And it occured to me in a flash. This woman was an idiot. The first thing she thought to do when she accelerated was hit the brake. Good. But when that didn't work, she A)stood on the brake harder (Like screaming at someone who doesn't speak your language) B) pulled the emergency brake (excellent for stopped vehicles or doing doughnuts) C) made a phone call (she had time to dial? Who the heck was driving at that time?)

For those of you who don't see the stupidity of this line of procedures, here's what she (or anybody) should have done.

A) DON'T PANIC! Panic leads to stupid decision making. This is where the woman from Tennessee failed. My guess is that a broken nail also leads to panic for her.

B) PUT THE CAR INTO NEUTRAL! Without power going to the drive train, the engine would start racing, but the car would slow down.

C) TURN THE ENGINE OFF WITH THE KEY! Without power to the going to the engine, it too would stop racing and not overheat or get damaged. Oh and before you get all defensive and gripe about keyless ignition...hod the button down for three or four seconds, that shuts off the engine too.

D)PULL OFF THE ROAD! The car will be slowing down without power, and the brakes will miraculously begin to work again bringing the vehicle to a gentle stop.

Instead she had the time to call her husband for an overly dramatic and completely useless teary goodbye. Blaming Toyota for not understanding how to operate a vehicle in an emergency is a bit silly. Are there parts on their vehicles that fail? Yep. And they are fixing those problems. But anything that is built by human hands (and that's pretty much everything built) has the potential to fail.

I cannot even guess at how much time I spent as a pilot in training going over emergency procedures for a wide array of potential problems in a single engine airplane, but it was a great many hours. Stall training, engine failure training, spin training, bad weather training, icy runway training, loss of one or many instruments training. It is called proficiency. People driving cars get by with a LOT less training than they should have in my opinion.

If your first thought in an automobile crisis is "I have to call my loved one to say goodbye!" then you should not be in the driver seat. And this idiot woman from Tennessee is not only giving the residents of that state a bad name, but her gender and her species as well. She is proof positive that Darwinism is alive and well.

Bottom line should be, if you cannot handle an emergency in your vehicle, then for the love of all that is holy DON'T DRIVE IT!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Nothing! Nada!

Tests found not a sign of Strep in the back of my throat. Which is a good thing, I suppose. Yet somehow that makes it a tad worse, 'cause I was hoping that strep was it, I could get the proper meds, and knock this thing out.

Unfortunately, I am not getting much better. My eyes have not been responding to the little eyedrops that have worked wonders on my kiddos( so good to see those clear baby blues each day), and despite the Wifes best efforts to hydrate the hell out of me in hopes of drowning the bug out, it has stuck with me like glue. And I'm serious about the glue part. That's the consistency of everything I've been clearing. I went through a box and a half of Kleenex today with blowing the nose and hacking crap out of my lungs. Yet there seems to be no end to the goop. Buckets of greenish, brownish, glue like globs.

On top of this fun, the blowing of my nose coupled with the filling of my ear canals has led to me blowing out my eardrums in a most painful manner. Imagine going flying, higher and higher and just waiting until your eardrums equalized themselves with the pressure. Or diving to great depths doing the same. Or if you prefer sea level and are feeling a bit masochistic, pinch your nose shut and pretend to blow it (keep the mouth closed too) as hard as you can until your eardrums feel like they've been pushed out into the little swirl of open ear, exposed to air and light for the first time in their lives. Don't worry Ma, I've checked, nothing is hanging out. While both of my eardrums have been invaded by goop and while the left is definitely louder than the right, they are both ringing in an extremely unpleasant, and dizzyingly dischordant tri-tone ring that is literally keeping me awake.

I've had a few sinus infections in the past few years, and even a nice case of walking pneumonia. But I have not felt this bad for this long since... since... well, as far back as I can remember.

I'm going to attempt sleep tonight. If this isn't much better when the sun comes up, I'm calling my regular doc and setting something up. Something's gotta give here, and it really can't be me!

On the up side, the Wife has been treating me like a prince. Meals catered to my easy chair (an excellent homemade chicken noodle soup, and tonight a chicken quesadilla casserole that you really should get the receipe for, cause it is outstanding) She's been bringing me drink after drink of hot chocolate, hot tea with honey, ice cold milk and even juice of the orange this morning. She believes (and I agree) that the more fluids go in, the more crap will come out one end or the other. And it has been working! I should weigh the crap I cleared today. It might just be a new record! She has been a saint. Even though one of her top reasons for bringing things to me is so that I don't touch anything and spread whatever this is to her or the kiddos. I still appreciate the heck out of it, cause every time I get up, the feel of the clothing on my skin causes an uncomfortable sunburn like ache throughout that largest organ. (the skin, you sicko) So the less I have to move, the better.

Now, time to wipe down the keyboard with the bleach and water mixture she whipped up for anything I touch, and then a nice hot shower, which still hurts the skin, but at least clears some sinus goo. Then an attempt at bed. The hacking, lung tossing cough every few minutes probably hasn't helped the Wife's sleeping patterns, so I'm going to sleep in the easy chair for as long as I can tolerate it, quietly singing to myself Maria's song from West Side Story, except substituting a 'sh' sound in place of the 'puh' sound in 'I Feel Pretty'.

Here's hoping the sunrise brings clear mucus, clear sinuses, clear lungs, clear ears, clear eyes, clear throat, clear urine, and what the hell, clear skies as well.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ah, Valentines Day...

Ah, Valentines Day...

Long ago, some marketing director somewhere thought "You know, there really isn't anything to sell between new years and St. Patricks day. I wonder..."

And after a brief visit to his local Catholic church, and learning that a feast was held every year on February 14th to honor a couple of martyred saints, Valentines Day was truly born into all it's commercial glory. Don't get me wrong. I love celebrating the love I have for my wife. But I do that on many a day outside the 14th day of the second month. I just don't like commercialism spoiling a lovely idea. Which it does on every major holiday.

I'd boycott this year (as we do most years) but that decision was made for me. In a true "share-the-love" fest. The pink eye found it's way to the Boyo and me, and my little cold has become some sort of raging infection causing yellow/green/brown goo to come spewing forth from every orafice above my neck. (Happy Valentine) I've been in bed most of the past three days, occasionally wandering - zombie like - into the living room to the happy smiles of my kids and the concerned looks of my wife. The goo has crept up my ear tubes and formed little acoustic plugs around the internal workings of my ears, so everything sounds like a bizarre robot/auto tune voice, and my equalibrium is off a little and I tend to drift when I walk worse than a sailboat in a storm. My neck nodes are swollen to the point where swallowing hurts, which has led to sleeping in a drool pool unless I sleep in a sitting position, which while I have tried the past couple of nights, has not led to much quality nod time. Not to mention I have developed a nasty cough which usually brings up a few dozen cc's of the afore mentioned glop. Still ready for a valentine day meal?

So today I finally caved and went to a local urgent care to be poked, prodded and swabbed to find out what the heck is going on. They ruled out pneumonia and sinus infection, and my lungs sound clear, and my ears look normal. But apparently my throat looks as bad as it feels, because the swabbed for strep. Results are pending.

The good news of the day? Thanks to my little attack eyedrops, I was able to awake from my afternoon nap and open my eyes! This morning they were cemented shut with goop. So improvement there!

Now, if I can only beat this creeping crud into submission and get to a point where I can hear and stand again! Ah, Valentines Day...

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Just Not Meant to Be


The word has become mythical around our home. Vacations are a time to get away from it all. Travel a little. Relax a lot. Recharge the batteries so day to day life is a bit easier.

Vacations around here have come to mean almost exactly the opposite. Of the last umpteen vacations we have planned for the past many years, we have not been on any. Various reasons. Too expensive. Too far to travel in too short a time. Something comes up with some family member somewhere. And the most popular, one or more of the four of us gets too sick to go.

So for Valentines weekend, we decided to play it safe. Vacate our home for a day or two, head to a local hotel with a pool for the kiddos. Take in some local fare. Nothing too pricey, and close enough to home so I could come back a couple of times to check in with the dogs. All of our family members are somewhat healthy, and nobody is expecting a visit from/visit to us.

Once again, other plans were made for us. I was at work the other night, feeling like a sore throat was coming on. Not just any sore throat, mind you. But one that said 'Hello! I'm being caused by that goop draining from your sinuses! I know it doesn't seem like there is too much there right now, but fear not! Soon there will be more earth toned glop draining from you than you'll care to see!'

I, naturally, did not want to welcome this old friend back again. So I firmly set my resolve to just being healthy and ignoring the illness. Sometimes that works. Really! And I was not going to endanger our fun weekend out with a piddly little sinus cold.

Then the Wife called. Apparently Cupid had visited early, leaving something pink for my little Sweet Pea. No, no. Not a candy heart saying "Be Mine" more like something pink for her eye. Or more specifically, both eyes. This, of course, effectively cancelled vacation plan number I-don't-even-keep-track-anymore.

When I got home, my beautiful little girl greeted me with a bright smile and a happy "Hiii Daya!" and two rings of puffy pinkness swelling around her beautiful, but bloodshot blue eyes. Within the hour, my sinuses had succumbed to green/brown/yellowish puddles. Later that day, the Wife developed a sore throat, and that night, the Boyo coughed himself to sleep. Welcome to the weekend.

So the Wife and I have been having serious talks about just erasing the word vacation from our vocabulary completely. Any trips in the future will have to be business related or spontaneous. And I mean "Throw a change of clothes in the car kids, we're going to Omaha!" Spontaneous. Because, Yes, the neater or more fun the vacation sounds as we plan it, the worse the illness/price hikes/danger to a family member becomes.

Fortunately, the back wall is finished. When spring arrives, I'm setting up camp back there, and maybe even building a little hotel room as well. If we can't escape the property, maybe we can just escape the house. Our backyard will become our vacation destination. You all can visit too. It may just be the only way we get to see you!

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Knife Building

This knife making thing has been interesting to watch develop. I first started making knives because I wanted a sort of specific knife (Damascus blade, mammoth tooth scales) and buying one for several hundred dollars was out of my reach at the time. Buying the parts, however, was not. And I figured since I taught myself guitar, and welding, and stained glass, and gardening, and (the list goes on and on) I could teach myself knife making as well.

Now, Dad had given us knife kits once upon a time, many (MANY) moons ago. They were pretty nice kits, with wood scales and a matching wooden sheath. We tried to assemble them at the Island. I was too young and impatient to do a really great job, but at least I got the basics. I wish I could find that knife. Anyway. I figured since I had learned once long ago, re-teaching myself shouldn't be too tough. And it wasn't!

Aided by a pretty well equipped hobby shop, and with the addition of a belt sander, knife making became a breeze. Well, not a breeze. But something that I do seem to have a little bit of a knack for. And I love to make them, so that helps.

So I made a bunch of Damscus bladed, mammoth toothed knives, and I feel pretty comfortable with those now. Recently however, I've been getting back into "plain" steel blades. 440C, AU-6 or AU-8, O1. And I've been playing around with wood handles more often. And you know what? I think I really like the looks of those as well!

Maybe it's just that I really like knives!

Anyway. My wonderful wife gave me a few hours to play in the shop today. This is the result.

The scales (handle) are purpleheart. A very dense, hard wood that will shine an irridescent purple after I finish it.

Again, needs a little more sanding, and I'd like to try and bring out the purple a bit more in the wood. But overall, I'm very pleased with this knife. The blade seems to be a good one. 440C steel. I might get a few more of this style and do one in Bloodwood, one in a nice Mexican Bocote. Maybe one in Cocobolo. There are just so many fun combinations!

I think for one of those future knives, I'll do a photo essay how-to. That would be fun to record for posterity!

Have I mentioned that I really like building knives?

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Old Friends

Just found a bunch of my old USMC buddies on Facebook. I don't know what took so long for it to click in my head that they might be on there too. I have always thought of them from time to time. Remembering all of those military experiences that cannot be described by words. Telling stories at home and at work about funny events. Like the M-16 buried in the sand, or sliding down a mountain in Norway. Occasionally I'll pull out pictures that I took during those days. The older I get, the younger the faces smiling back from the pictures.

There are whole days when I cannot believe that I was a Marine. That I completed the most difficult, most efficient boot camp on the planet. Or that I spent most of the 1990's training for war.

Of course, those days had a massive impact on shaping the man I have become. And I still fly my Marine Corps flag proudly, still wear my USMC jacket, and still lovingly mock anybody in any other service as being just a little sub par compared to Marines. But sometimes it is hard to believe that I went through all of that.

Sometimes I pull out my dress blues and hang them where I can look at them, and remember that the biggest reason that I did so well and had so much fun as a Marine, was the guys that I served with. They made it fun, and funny, and in those crappy times, they made it bearable. So Wib, Pooch, JD, Slick, Duck, Gerkin, Schutzie, Mahood, Captain (Major) Scott, and everybody else. Thank you is not powerful enough to describe my gratitude to you all for all of those times.

Semper Fi my brothers. That sums it up nicely.

Semper Fi.

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